STATEWIDE – One silver lining around this whole pandemic mess are evening walks. Breathe deeply, as you enjoy clean Jersey air and the stars popping brilliantly in our clear skies. Yes, our air quality has improved remarkably over the past two months, with our factories are shuttered. But the Record – always asking pesky questions – is now asking: Can it last? The answer, of course, is “no,” as New Jersey reopens just in time for smog season, bringing a hot, stagnant answer that makes you flee toward the nearest air conditioner. Perhaps, for the moment, enjoy the fact that two major air pollutants in New Jersey – nitrogen oxides that form unhealthy ozone and microscopic exhaust particles – have dissipated nicely from March through May, showing the Garden State can do its part to save the ozone layer, if we are willing to make the sacrifice.

ASBURY PARK – Just when you thought coronavirus may not ruin your summer, now this: The Stone Pony is canceling its outdoor Summer Stage series. Yeah, yeah, we totally get it. There’s concern about “health and safety.” So, forget for the moments of the Go-Go’s, the Violent Femmes and the indestructible Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes playing the fabled venue. (Sigh) There’s always something to look forward to in Asbury Park when a big performer is about to take the big stage. The boardwalk is packed, the restaurants are overflowing and the cans of Coors Light are suddenly selling for $12; the Jersey Shore in full swing. So, now we must look toward the Summer of ’21, just a few short seasons away.

METUCHEN – Outdoor dining will be the “new normal” for many post-pandemic restaurants. Metuchen – known as the “Brainy Boro” – is Central Jersey’s first community to devise a smart plan to make that much easier for their eateries. Towns like Highland Park, Hoboken and Princeton are thinking of adopting Metuchen’s “bold and flexible COVID-19 revitalization strategy” to also aid their ailing restaurants. The Criterion-Sentinel says Metuchen is streamlining approvals so more restaurants can offer table service on sidewalks or in parking lots, on-street parking spaces and alleyways. A few side streets will also be closed to weekend traffic to permit more social distancing between customers’ tables. Borough leaders are also letting more stores have sidewalk displays for the gobs of extra unsold inventory. And, if it rains during dinner? Well, just bring an umbrella. Metuchen does not have all the answers, okay?

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BRIEFING BREATHER

Drop for drop, a black widow spider’s venom is 15 times more deadly than rattlesnake venom. 

PATERSON – It’s the beginning of June, so it is time, yet again, to discuss the annual disaster known as the Paterson school budget. This year offers our readers an interesting twist: COVID 19. Three weeks after the district used emergency funds to escape massive layoffs of teachers, the city school district has been hit with a $16.4 million cut in state aid because New Jersey is currently broke. The Paterson Press reports the schools will still be getting $446.9 million in state aid for the upcoming school year, but for some reason that just isn’t nearly enough to fill all the gaping holes. School officials say they are “up all night” trying to do more with less, as the funding decrease promises to “devastate Paterson.” Just another day in the Silk City.

IN THE MEDIA

STATEWIDE – Throughout this pandemic, more and more New Jerseyans have turned to local news. It’s an obvious fact; hyperlocal media is reporting readership that is off the charts, while advertising remains so-so at best. New Jersey’s reporters – sometimes under-respected, often overworked and never overpaid – are on the streets every day, wearing masks and gloves, as they try to inform you about what the heck is going on. Now we all know you can’t just run out and hug a reporter to express appreciation. But you can pay tribute at 7 p.m. on Thursday, when our friends at NJTV and NJ Spotlight throw an online gala. Yes, you’ll have to bring your own champagne and will likely need to toast yourself. But this virtual event is a key fundraiser for independent journalism in New Jersey; there will be plenty of opportunities to contribute as you visit NJTV online to watch the gala unfold in your favorite pajamas.

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

CHAYANTA, BOLIVIA – Believing they’d get Spiderman’s superpowers, three youngsters intentionally got bitten by a black widow spider. Yet, instead of slinging webs and crawling up walls like Peter Parker, the 8, 10 and 12-year-old brothers ended up in massive pain with fevers, tremors and muscle paralysis. Telemundo says the trio took turns taunting the venomous spider with a stick to make it bite each of them. Symptoms came on within hours causing their frantic parents to rush the trio to a hospital where the boys spent a week under intense treatment. Just shows that common sense is better than “spidey sense.”

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1988 that Consumer Reports calls for a universal ban of the Suzuki Samurai because – technically speaking – its awful.

WORD OF THE DAY

Vagitus – [vuh-JI-tuhs] – noun

Definition: The cry of a newborn

Example: I don’t think I can hear the score with all this vagitus.

WIT OF THE DAY

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

TODAY'S TRUMPISM

“Get tough Democrat Mayors and Governors. These people are ANARCHISTS. Call in our National Guard NOW. The World is watching and laughing at you and Sleepy Joe. Is this what America wants? NO!!!”

- Donald J. Trump

WEATHER IN A WORD

Pleasant