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Newark USA

A fotojournal about LIVING in Newark USA, New Jersey's largest and most cultured city, by the author of the foto-essay website RESURGENCE CITY: Newark USA.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Ice-Cream Truck! No Crocuses

On Monday (March 9th) around 8pm, I heard the musical lure of an ice-cream truck! There were still mounds of snow 3' and more high bracketing many parking spaces on my street, but some eager beaver was running an ice-cream truck thru Vailsburg.

I didn't get a foto that first nite, but got this one three nites later. Our springlike weather has been replaced by a return to severely subnormally cold weather. Indeed, the forecast for the first day of spring is for a major snowstorm affecting 40 million Americans in a large swath of the Nation, from the Ohio Valley to the Middle Atlantic States (where Newark is located). When I went to grade school, there were only three Middle Atlantic States: New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. More recently, Maryland, Delaware, and even Virginia have been added, or that group of states farther south has even replaced the definition I grew up with, apparently on the theory that New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are too far north to be considered Middle Atlantic. Why does everything have to be periodically redefined?
In any event, I am still in partial shutdown mode, waiting for the weather to be not just reliably warm but also sunny. More snow, on the first day of spring, is the last thing I need to return to full activity. I was surprised, when I looked around my yard after the snow had melted, that no crocuses have as yet come up. That's very odd, in that crocuses sometimes poke up THRU snow, and are the first, very welcome, sign of spring. (As I write, the all-time total of pageviews of this blog is 48 short of 600,000, so should pass that mark later today.)

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Boycott Time and Free Museums Again; 600,000 Pageviews; Almost Out of Hibernation

Except for the foto of Engelhard Court within the Newark Museum, all illustrations today are from this past October's "Open Doors" artstravaganza, given the opening that this post discusses (art) museums. Yes, I have been overwhelmed by demands upon my time and attention since October. If you think that's ridiculous, just wait until you are nearly 70 years old, and debilitating cold weather sneaks up on you! Getting old is not for the young. It's a great deal better than the alternative, not aging by virtue of having died, but it's no picnic in the park. Speaking of that, has anyone recently had a picnic, with blanket spread, in any of Newark's major parks? If not, why not? Our parks are magnificent. I can easily picture a picnic in Weequahic or Vailsburg Park, if not Military nor Washington Park. But — hey — why the heck NOT a picnic in our beautifully restored Military Park? If I were a young father (married to another young father), with two or three little adopted kids — or biological kids created by artificial insemination — some of whom would otherwise be languishing in foster care or a group home, I would LOVE to have picnics in Newark's wonderful parks. And I'd bet we would not be bothered by ants. In my long life, I missed out on being a father, due to antihomosexual discrimination. Men today need not miss out on that experience of many dimensions, and I urge gay men who are ready for a lifetime commitment, to marry — now legally — a wonderful man who wants, as much as you, to be a father to guide little kids (preferably boys) to healthy, socially positive lives, so when you are 70, you have people deeply involved in your life, who will remind you by their presence that you mattered. I mattered, in regard to the planet, for having come up with the term "Gay Pride" as it has come to be used. But most gay men of my age are isolated, alone, and facing death without ever having mattered much to anyone. This is the legacy of hate: tens of millions of men who die alone, unloved and unremembered. These are still the bad old days, men who could have loved as fathers, kids who grew up without fathers, unknown to each other, and both far the worse for the experience. Have we as a society learned our lesson? To live is to love. Or is it?

This weekend is one of those in which two regularly recurring events are happening, (1) a begathon on WNET Channel 13 and (2) free museum admissions for holders of Bank of America debit or credit cards (including cards that evidence Merrill Lynch investment accounts). Rather than write new text, let me simply link to a post in this blog from December 6th that discusses these two matters, with further links to more detailed information that hasn't changed. As on that occasion, I have not this weekend put up a post really timely, as to include Aljira, which isn't open on Sunday. But I do what I can. I repeat that Aljira should reconsider its schedule, as to remain open on Sundays, in line with the usual practice of museums in this region.
Alrite, let me confess that I put up this post too late for almost anyone to use as reminder of this monthly free-museums event for March. I drafted it late and could have posted it early on Sunday morning, in time for some people to use it as reminder, but did not finalize the text until mid-afternoon on Sunday, and even then did not have illustrations ready but left them blank at that point. BUT I did mention in December that if you'd like to receive TIMELY reminder direct from Bank of America, you could sign up at the Museums on Us website for a text message or email notice well in time. So, if you would have liked to know of this in time and did see that December 6th post but did NOT sign up to have BofA alert you, don't blame me, but DO sign up to be alerted in April and other months going forward.

Engelhard Court, a major central feature in the Newark Museum, the most important institution of this region that participates in BofA's "Museums on Us" program.

There are 4 institutions that participate in BofA's "Museums on Us" program in North Jersey, plus a bunch in NYC. Being within easy reach of Manhattan, but not surrounded by its crowds, chaos, noise, and dirt, is one of the advantages of living in Newark.

This and the next four fotos are from the "No More Place" show of Bronx Museum artists.

I received postal notice today that Bank of America is changing the terms of its checking accounts, as would charge me $25/month for what has for many years been a free account. I may well close my BofA account once that happens (after May 15th). Where, then, shall I bank? Investors Savings Bank, which has a branch on Sandford Avenue in my part of town, Vailsburg? That branch used a foto of mine, of an antique foto within Prudential Center, of action at the long-gone Newark Velodrome (an arena for bicycle races) that I showed here on May 14th, 2010. Investors Savings would thus be most agreeable to me, if they offer free checking. A brief investigation into that issue a few months ago suggested that they do not, but now that I am actively inclined to move my account, I'll look more carefully, even visit that branch to speak with someone in person.

This is the setting within which the foto above appeared.

I would still, after the announced changes to BofA accounts, be eligible for free checking except that BofA fraudulently denied me a mortgage modification, then quickly sold my mortgage to another company, Ocwen, which thereafter ALSO fraudulently denied me a mortgage modification that I was entitled to. Ocwen has not (yet) sold my mortgage to another company. There have been multitudinous complaints to governmental regulators about wrongful denials of mortgage modifications by both Bank of America and Ocwen, but the Government has not done justice to the wronged. That is part and parcel of the ownership of this society — lock, stock, and barrel — by the rich, something we need to correct, by violent revolution if need be. Let us remember that this country was FOUNDED in a violent Revolution. The "American Revolution" was not a rhetorical exaggeration, that is, a mere social remonstrance, but an actual, violent, military revolution in which a great many people, for its time, died. We might well need another such actual, violent, military revolution in which many people, preferably the worst of the rich and their paid servants, DIE. The changes to BofA checking accounts are designed to benefit only the rich, as almost everything else in this country now benefits only the rich.

600,000 Pageviews. In looking at statistics within Google Blogger's 'dashboard' for this blog, I saw today that within ten days or so there will likely have been 600,000 pageviews of what have been, including today's, the 2,141 posts that I have uploaded to this blog since I started it almost 11 years ago. Blogger doesn't note how many fotos I have shown, but it's probably more like 11,000 (at least) than 10,000. Visitors who stop by to see what I have added recently and been annoyed that I am still in partial-shutdown, hibernation mode, so have not added anything in days, should consider checking the long list of archived posts, one clickable link for each month since May 2004, in the right panel of the template of this blog. There are fotos still in place for perhaps 8 of those years. Fotos that had appeared before then, as stored on AOL, disappeared when AOL closed all subscribers' online-storage accounts. I made note somewhere of when that happened, but don't recall where that notation is at the moment. It's fine to make notations as to useful information, but if you don't also note where you put the notations, they aren't of any use, are they?
This reminds me of one of the two programs I like on the Ion Life TV network, OTA ("Over The Air") channel 31-3 out of NYC. In that Canadian TV program, a professional organizer rescues from appalling clutter only moderately crazy people. Tho I haven't had cable TV for years, so have never seen the show Hoarders, I suspect that Neat is like Hoarders meets Tossers. The organizer is Hellen Buttigieg (yes, two L's in "Hellen"; I'm not clear as to the pronunciation of the last name, even tho I have heard her say it a number of times, but without enuf stress to make the appropriate impression on my consciousness. It's something like bút.i.geg or bút.i.gieg. She lives in Ontario somewhere, probably the Toronto metropolitan area. She helps people confront irrational hoarding behavior less than psychotic and gives them strategies such as one[-item]-in/one-out and criteria such as "if you haven't used it in three [or six] months / a year, you never will, so you can part with it". She also impresses upon people that there is no need for them to hoard things like recipes because you can get, on the Internet, hundreds of recipes for almost any dish.

Sometimes she goes too far, it seems to me, forcing her own value system upon the unwilling, as, for instance, in urging people to throw away memorabilia as diverse as personalized greeting cards and children's art, even a blanket knitted by a departed (or, less gently stated: dead) grandmother. That last, reprehensible demand was met by someone else in the extended family's taking that knitted blanket for a family vacation cottage.

Neat is, happily, very big on donating items that the person or family in question no longer needs but which others can use. And Ms. Buttigieg makes very good use of a device that creates labels of a font size that can be read easily from several feet away.

Kitty animodule in Barat Foundation show.

I am assuredly not a hoarder, but do have so many things to keep track of, from an intellectual life of some 55 of my 70 years, that it's hard to know where to record, what. In cold months — half the year now, and perhaps expanding — much of my household is collapsed into one of the six rooms in my house, my bedroom, on the second floor of a house of three floors aboveground and a nearly full basement, because it is the only room I can afford to keep reasonably warm in winter. It's a good-sized room, but can hold only so much. I watch Neat regularly for ideas as to how to keep my life streamlined and information accessible when I need it.

Gary Barat (center) talks to visitors to the Barat Foundation show in Open Doors 2014.

I know that I will, for instance, eventually remember where I made the notation about when fotos reappeared in this blog once I shifted my foto-storage website to Google's Picasa service, which works seamlessly with Google Blogger (and which in turn hosts this and my other blogs).

I'm not sure what animal this fanciful "animodule" is supposed to represent. A parrot? With a snakelike neck?

If you have never seen Neat, it may be because it airs only at 4:00 a.m. on channel 31-3. This is for me almost primetime, given that I worked on evening or graveyard shift for some 30 years. Let me spell this out, for people who have no idea what it means to work on evening or graveyard shift.
People who work (ordinary) day shift will not likely ever have calculated the hours that people who work other shifts have to operate by. Someone who works 9am-5pm, with an hour for lunch, will ordinarily have to wake by 8am or earlier, depending on the length of their commute, to get to work on time (assuming that they shower before going to bed). S/he will thus need to get to sleep by midnite or a bit earlier to be well-rested for the workday ahead.
If you work from 5:00pm to 1:00am, however, with an hour for 'lunch' / dinner, you will want to wake up no more than an hour or two before you start work, lest you tire toward the end of your shift. So you get up at, say, 4:00pm (1600 hours in military time). Subtract 8 hours, and you arrive at a must-sleep time of 8:00am.

Barat Foundation display, looking out toward Market Street.

If you work graveyard shift, say, 1:00am to 9:00am, you will not want to wake much before 12:00 midnite. Take away 8 hours, and your must-sleep time is 4:00pm.

Nowadays, of course, many people don't need to be awake to see a program that airs at an inconvenient time. I used to be able to record many programs on a VHS recorder, but have not taken the time to learn how, if it is even possible, to record a program on VHS from digital TV. You'd think it would be like cable, where you tune to channel 3 (in this area), then set the start and end times, and the machine will take care of the rest. But when I tried that once, it didn't seem to work. I have no idea why, and shall have to try again. People who have a digital video recorder, either as a separate machine or as a DVR feature that comes with their cable service, should have no problem recording Neat or any other program they'd like to see.

Diverse crowd at Open Doors 2014.

Permit me to recommend one other program from Ion Life, In the Dog House, another Canadian show, sometimes from (Calgary?), Alberta and other times from (Toronto?), Ontario. This excellent program features Brad Pattison, a dog trainer who takes wildly out-of-control, noisy, and dangerous dogs, and re-creates them into mannerly, well-behaved, and quiet companion animals. He also sees thru the problems between owners that exacerbate the dogs' bad behavior, and holistically heals the entire human-animal family. This program, my very favorite on Ion Life, ordinarily airs twice a nite, at 11:30pm, which conflicts with the major networks' latenite talkshows, and 3:00am, by which time most people are asleep, but which most people should be able to record for later playback. In the Dog House and Neat are in fact not just excellent programs, despite being Canadian (Canada is an extremely mediocre country); they are also the only programs on Ion Life that I have any patience for. By the way, "dog house" should be one word).
Last Days of Hibernation. If the present weather forecast is correct, I should be emerging from partial hibernation within the next few days, despite some nites below freezing. I had to cancel two meetups with my friend Jerry from Manhattan, yesterday and Friday, on account of weather problems and the exhaustion of my car's battery that exceedingly cold temperatures produced. My friend Joe from Belleville thinks I will need to replace that battery, because, he says, a car battery cannot be relied upon beyond a five-year span, esp. in very cold weather. Mine is at least 12 years old, and may in truth be original equipment in my 1992 Geo Storm. If when I have the AAA jumpstart my car after a couple of weeks of its immobility due to a "dead" battery (I really dislike using terms like "dead" or "alive" for things that neither live nor die), the battery does not keep a charge despite my running the car for 20 minutes or more each day, I will indeed have the AAA's battery-replacement service install a new battery and take away the old.

I wish I didn't need a car as much as I do, because there are regularly recurring expenses and problems with owning a car — insurance, gas, finding a parking spot, esp. when snow remains in mounds 3' tall and higher — but my neighborhood, westernmost Newark (Vailsburg, which was before 1905 a separate town) is semi-suburban. That's beautiful when the weather is beautiful, but miserable when the weather is miserable.

To use my neighborhood in Vailsburg as representative of the semi-suburban areas of Newark, we do have some urban amenities, such as small 'supermarkets', numerous convenience stores, dollar stores, Chinese and other takeout restaurants, three liquor stores within walking distance of my house (albeit at much higher prices than the Home Liquors beyond ready walking distance on South Orange Avenue ("SOA")), a post office, and various buses hither and yon, but things are more spread out in Vailsburg than in, for instance, Manhattan.

Last nite's "Weekend Update" on Saturday Nite Live featured a commentary/jeremiad/tirade by former Angeleno (well, actually, "Angelena") Leslie Jones about the maddening cold in this area this year, which makes even waiting for the subway a trial. Subways in Manhattan are in general more frequent than buses in Vailsburg (even the Coach USA #31 bus on SOA), and I am not about to wait for a bus in subfreezing cold if I can help it. When you're 70 years old, your internal furnace is more like a pilot lite. Having a car to go places in such weather becomes more a necessity than a luxury.

Never Darkest Before the Dawn. As I write, it is just before the sun is due to rise above the horizon. As such, it is almost daylite, which is always the case with the period, perhaps an hour, before the sun appears over the horizon. It is also, this weekend, the day when I need to reset such clocks as do not reset themselves (e.g., my digital TV box and computer, which do), an hour later ("spring forward") for Daylite Savings Time). _

It has long irritated me that there is an expression "It's always darkest before the dawn", because this bit of "received wisdom" is absolutely and ridiculously wrong. In fact, the Earth's atmosphere is so thick that the lite from the sun beneath the horizon permeates and is bent around the edge of the planet by our atmosphere, as gives the sky above the horizon a great deal of lite. So, in general, it's always BRITEST just before the dawn, and the darkest part of the day/nite cycle is in the literal "middle of the nite", from perhaps 2:00 to 4:00 a.m.

Barat Foundation's animodules (near) and the new Prudential Financial World Headquarters (far).

I was in Paris once, in the Place Vendôme, around 11:00 p.m. in September(?), and nite had barely begun, because Paris is quite far north (48.8567̊ N), farther north, indeed, than St. John's, Newfoundland (47.5675̊ N) in Canada (which, by the way, I have also been to). That's not nearly as far north as St. Petersburg, Russia (59.9500̊ N), which is famed for its "White Nites", but it's still far north of us, at 40.7242̊ N). So the days in Paris are a lot longer in summer than ours. (I have in fact, been to what is now called St. Petersburg but was at the time called "Leningrad", in September, as I recall, but I wasn't watching for late settings of the sun. Now that I think about it, I have to wonder why not! Travel plans do not always account for everythng.) Yes, that does mean that days in Paris in winter are a lot shorter than ours, but the Gulf Stream's massive transfer of heat from the Gulf of Mexico to Paris and London makes those cities no colder, and actually a tad warmer, than we are.

In any case, just remember that it is NEVER darkest before the dawn. Tho I would like to pretend that my fotos in this post release me from doing comprehensive coverage of the Open Doors 2014 Newark artrstravaganza, I am certaain they do not, but I shall, when I recover from my semi-hibernation from this monstrous winter's cold, write a post about that event, using fotos I have not used above.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

About to Pop

As I have said, I've been in semi-hibernation for weeks, waiting for this miserable, severely subnormally cold winter to end, or at least return to normal temperatures. Normal high in the past week would have been 44° to 46°. Not once in the past week did our temperature even equal the normal high, much less exceed it. Indeed, the daytime high has been as much as 22° below normal.

In the entire month of February, the daytime high equaled normal ONCE, and NEVER exceeded it. My car's battery "died" again, and I didn't call AAA to get a jump start, because I'd have had to go out in the cold every day thereafter to run the engine for 20 minutes or so to keep the battery from conking out again, and I was not about to go out into severely subnormally cold weather unless absolutely necessary. So I have been hiding from the cold. My only warm rooms are still not really warm, so my body and mind have been in partial shutdown mode. I keep waiting for the worst to be over, but have waited in vain.
One of my oldest friends — meaning at once a person who has been my friend for many years and who is older than I — has suffered worse than I from the cold. He has a very bad landlord (indeed, slumlord) in Greenwich Village, who has refused to make needed repairs of many kinds to various apartments, and if tenants complained, he would evict them on the ground that he needed those apartments for relatives. Of course, the relatives did not really take over those apartments. They wouldn't live in those conditions. But the sham transfer of the apartments to family members passed under the radar of city regulatory authorities, and my friend Don was afraid he too would be evicted if he called in City inspectors to try to get repairs made. In the past couple of weeks, supposed repairs to other apartments produced an almost total shutdown not just of heat but also of water, both hot and cold, which was reduced to a dribble in my friend's apartment for at least several hours a day, if not even all day long. So bad did things get that Don had to be admitted to the hospital for two days, for dehydration and possibly hypothermia. He is almost 76 years old, and his condition brought the attention of a social worker on the staff of the hospital, who has reported his situation to a New York City agency for Adult Protective Services as well as the City's Housing Preservation authorities, who will investigate Don's intolerable abuse by his slumlord. Mind you, Don does not live in a slum, only a building maintained like a slum. He pays over $1,200 a month in rent, for a tiny, one-bedroom apartment without heat or hot water — or even most cold water — in the depth of winter. That landlord needs to be sent to JAIL. New Yorkers seem to put up with more CRAP than people anywhere else in this country, and I am very glad I escaped New York.
The AccuWeather forecast for the next three weeks finally shows signs of a return to relatively mild temperatures, tho still, for the most part, subnormal. I can deal with temps well above freezing, even if still subnormal. So I anticipate being able to rev up to my own normal, that is, normal activity level, as soon as daytime temps rise reliably above freezing.

The fotos below show two trees as seen from my windows, that hold onto some of the biomass they produced during the prior growing season, until new growth in spring pushes old growth out. This first foto shows the clusters of copper seed pods of the tree in front of the house nextdoor. Many such pods from trees up and down the block have fallen to the ground, or at least released their seeds. Some areas of snow have been heavily dotted by those black seeds. Others of the seeds and pods remain on the trees.

The next foto shows one of my oak trees that hold onto many of their leaves until spring. Mind you, my oaks do release massive quantities of leaves — and you can see in this picture that a branch at lower right has no leaves, whereas the branches at the left do have leaves. I shall have to go out, once the snow on my driveway and side yard melts at least in large part, and walk around checking if all my oaks hold onto some of their leaves, or some release all their leaves. While I'm out, I'll see if any of the crocuses have pushed up thru the snow. But I'm afraid there is so much snow this year that even if the crocuses have sent shoots up, they will not have risen high enuf to be seen above the snow.

Still, it won't be long until the relative warmth of late winter and early spring pushes the last of these pods and leaves out, for new, green growth. I am very eager to see it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New Wifi Internet Service; Reformed Spelling Version of this Blog

Mayor Baraka recently announced that the City of Newark has partnered with a nonprofit organization, EveryoneOn.org (also operating as JerseyOn.org) that works to give poor people free or low-cost Internet access via wifi. I think Mayor Luis Quintana was the first mayor who expressed interest in extending wifi reception throughout the city. In the first foto below, from November 2006, then-councilman Quintana is at the left, and then-Mayor Cory Booker is farther right.

I heard of this wifi project thru the mailing list of the Ironbound Super Neighborhood, a terrific resource for people who want to know what's going on in Newark, and went to the website to see what's involved in signing up. In that the City of Newark is a partner organization (most partners are apparently school districts or individual schools), I was not asked any questions about income eligibility or anything like that. I typed in my zip code and was told of offers I could sign up for. I found a plan for $10 a month that could use my existing Hotspot, which I have been using with NetZero, so I didn't have to purchase a device, which could run from $49 to as much as $62.51. I present below screenprints of the steps involved in signing up. The screen capture below shows what first comes up when you go to EveryoneOn.org..

After you type in your zip code and click on the "Find Offers"button, this screen appears. I don't have any children that would qualify me for free Internet, so I answered "No", and moved on to the next screen.

I clicked on the first offer, on the left.

This next screen shows two devices, but there is a red-lettered option "I already own a device".

When I clicked on that, a third device appeared, which is the mobile Hotspot I own, so I clicked on that.

I was then asked to type in the device's unique ID, a string of letters and numbers. EveryoneOn then said that it could use that device, starting on February 19th. My NetZero month ends today, and I called yesterday to tell them not to charge me for another month, because I would be switching to EveryoneOn. The woman at NetZero was under the impression that the Hotspot device I bought from them could be used only with NetZero. That is not what EveryoneOn seems to believe. NetZero said that they could retain a residual account for me of 200MB per month for three months for free, so I could still have minimal Internet access in case EveryoneOn could not redirect my Hotspot from NetZero to EveryoneOn. But if I closed out my NetZero account and had to reopen it, I would be charged $20. So I went for the 200MB (1/5 of a Gigabyte) backup plan, but am very confused as to whether I will have the option of switching between the two services, or they will fite each other. I won't know until tomorrow, and may have to make further fone calls to settle the issue.

There may be a delay in future posts to this blog if my Hotspot does not work with EveryoneOn, and I might indeed have to buy a separate wifi device if I cannot resolve a conflict between services. I'll advise how to reconcile any problem once everything works right.
Phonetic Version of This Blog. I have often mentioned that I am a spelling reformer. I have decided that I need to generate text in my respelling system for people to see if they can easily make sense of it. I also decided that this blog would make a good model for such text, esp. in that it is lightened by fotos. I have respelled 7 posts so far, and will be adding an Introduction that explains the principles, and updating the Fanétik version going forward. The blog version employs written accents to show syllabic stress, and is actually called Augméntad Fanétik. Ordinary Fanetik does not employ accents. Fanetik for pronunciation keys employs both accents to show syllabic stress and dots / periods to show where syllables break (síl.a.bòol). If you'd like to check it out, the direct URL is http://nuarkysa-fanetikverzhan.blogspot.com/.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A.C. Organ Restored; Adubato at NJPAC

I have no fotos of Atlantic City, much less the Convention Center (now called Boardwalk Hall — why?), so I'm showing a few pix of artworks about ocean creatures from 2014's "Open Doors" artstravaganza in Downtown Newark.

The first three pix today are of an artwork that represents the tail flukes of a whale, in the show "No More Place: A Group Show by 20 Artists from the Bronx Museum's A.I.M. Program". A.I.M. stands for "Artists in the Marketplace" (yes, I know that should be A.I.T.M., but the Museum presumably wanted the abbreviation to be pronounced as a word), a program "now in its 34th year, [which] provides professional development opportunities to emerging artists residing in the New York metropolitan area." I do not know the artist, because this sculpture was in the middle of the room and I did not see a plak or sign identifying it by title or artist.

Channel 25-1 at 2:00am yesterday broadcast(ed) a (nearly) one-hour program about the renovation of the Midmer-Losh pipe organ in Atlantic City's Convention Hall. Built in 1929, it was then and remains now the world's largest organ, with over 33,000 pipes, but has not been playable in its entirety in decades. With a host of volunteers and millions of dollars, part of the organ has been restored to use.

View from off to the side of whale tail sculpture.

The organ was the brainchild of NJ state senator Emerson Lewis Richards and one other man mentioned in the documentary but not the Wikipedia article. New Jerseyans with ambition! Can you imagine? Who ever heard of such a thing?
The TV show seemed to me to end abruptly, without telling us if the organ was actually played after those repairs, and we were not privy to such a performance. But I was distracted from the TV by computer work. The Wikipedia article says:
The organ was played in September 2013 during the Miss America pageant, its first public performance in 40 years. It is now used regularly for short public demonstrations.
If you missed the first showing in the wee hours of Thursday morning, there is one more viewing, TONITE at 9pm, on channel 25-1. I will try to remember to watch the last several minutes of actual programming to see what I missed, starting around 9:48. (A promo for the overall series, Ultimate Restorations, runs from about 5 minutes in from the end.) I'd like to hear the Midmer-Losh organ in person someday. I have heard the pipe organ in our Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart and, I think, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, in Manhattan. Wonderful. And I don't even like most music, at most times.

The artist, and gallery, missed a good bet in not carrying thru to show the rest of the whale on the floor below. I guess that would have been too massive a project, but it sure would have been striking, and could have attracted the attention of major media to Newark.

I asked my friends Joe from Belleville and Gaetano from the Ironbound if they'd like to join me on a bus ride to A.C., but neither wanted to go. I don't know if there are any casino buses from Newark to A.C. But I'll wait to investigate until the return of warm weather.
A.C. has done a really bad job of making the city work as a tourist destination. They seem not to remember that long before the arrival of casinos, A.C. was a major tourist draw due to its wide boardwalk and wonderful deep beaches. Salt water taffy was first offered to the public there. I have only rarely been to Atlantic City, but I do recall being impressed by how much beach there was before you get to the surf. It seems to me that A.C. isn't doing nearly enuf with its waterfront location.
Are there whales and porpoises — or, the more common term today, "dolphins"; "porpoise" was the favored term in my youth, but it is hardly ever heard today. I wonder why that is. — cavorting in the ocean off A.C.? If so, are there whale-watching tours on offer? Whales were spotted off Coney Island this past summer. Have they also appeared off Atlantic City?

This sculpture by Tasha Lewis shows an octopus passing thru a bell jar. A neat trick, that.

Why isn't there a major marine aquarium in Atlantic City? (There's apparently a smallish aquarium, but not a major institution.) Camden has a major aquarium, and Camden is well up an industrial estuary. Surely it would be easier to supply clean ocean water to an aquarium in A.C. than Camden.
And what about entertainment? A.C. does sometimes offer big-name entertainers, but should be able to offer many more. It could also become a latter-day New Haven, an out-of-town tryout venue for previews of Broadway shows. Etc. But rather than use the money that once poured into the city in gambling activity to broaden the city's appeal as an all-around and all-year-round resort, the city government seems to have done little but drive traffic to the casinos. Now that casino attendance and revenues are way down, will the city finally wake up to its duty, and opportunity, to work on other aspects of the resort's appeal?

... at NJPAC. The local PBS television show One on One with Steve Adubato has added "at NJPAC" for at least some shows. Altho Adubato is, I believe, originally from Newark (the Wikipedia article on him most curiously does not mention his place of birth. Kenya?), and now apparently lives in Montclair, he was for some time taping his One on One shows in Manhattan. That is where WNET, Newark's stolen channel 13, moved all studios years ago. When I first arrived in Newark, in mid-2000, there were some WNET facilities on the ground floor of One Gateway Center, but at some point the New Yorkers who stole Newark's PBS station decided no longer even to pretend they had any respect for the station's city of license, and moved everything across the Hudson.
It appears that Adubato had enuf clout with WNET to have at least some of his shows' tapings moved to NJPAC, perhaps just to save him the hassle of commuting into the madness of Manhattan. Thank goodness former (and disgraced) Mayor Sharpe James had the foresight to cause NJPAC to be built in Downtown Newark. I suppose Adubato could have taped shows in Symphony Hall or the former NJN studios in the Robert Treat Center, but neither of those venues has the panache of NJPAC. WBGO has radio studios, but is not, I suspect, set up for TV. It occurs to me that I don't know if Rutgers-Newark has a TV-production program of study, with appropriate studios. Montclair State has. But not Rutgers-Newark?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

FOTD: Refined Trash Bin

I've been working on my spelling-reform project for many hours in the last few days, so do not have the time nor energy for a major post to this blog today. Let me just put up, as Foto Of The Day, a picture I took October 19th of a decorative trash receptacle on Commerce Street just in from McCarter Highway, Downtown.

It seems to me an elegant and practical design, with a roof over the bin within, which keeps rain and snow out. I have not noticed any other like it, not on Commerce Street, not Downtown, not anywhere. I suppose there must be more, but I haven't yet seen any. Newark imposes no uniform design on public trash receptacles, and decorative bins of different designs give many of our sidewalks a touch of class, more than just utilitarian bins into which to place trash that might otherwise turn into litter.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Wright-Clark Mansion Repurposed; Valentine's Day Land Sale

Friend of the Blog Frank M. sent me link to a January 26th article from NJ.com about the renovation of an old mansion on Mount Prospect Avenue in the Forest Hill (singular) section of the North Ward into seven affordable-housing apartments. A foto slideshow appears atop that article, if you have the patience to wait for it. NJ.com is appallingly slow, and hogs enormous amounts of bandwidth, so I generally avoid it.
I stored that article to my hard drive, and when I looked at it in Windows Explorer, found that that directory had 251 files, for one story on NJ.com! Outrageous.
A wide foto of the front of the mansion looked familiar. I had seen that Mansion on a February 4, 2007 walking tour of Forest Hill conducted by Jeffrey Bennett of the website Newarkology. It was very cold that day, something like 24°F (or even less?) but perhaps a dozen hardy souls braved the elements to learn more about this fine city. I had a lot of trouble keeping up with the group, for taking pictures and because the cold air caused me some respiratory distress. But I persevered, and among the pictures I took were two of that mansion, which show damage and graffiti. Here's the wider foto.

How affordable will these units be (and, by extension, what does "affordable housing" mean in Newark)? NJ.com states:
The building’s new tenants are expected to move in over the coming weeks, with monthly rents ranging from $680 for a studio apartment to $1,385 for a three-bedroom unit. The tenants were selected via a state lottery program, and preference was given to individuals affected by Hurricane Sandy. The project was financed in part with state and city funding.

This second foto presents a slitely closer view of the Mansion.

The NJ.com story gives this history of the building:
Built in the early 20th Century, the mansion, located at 527 Mount Prospect Avenue, traces its history to the Clark Thread and Nairn Linoleum Newark Co. industrial families of Newark.

The mansion was home to British-born author Coningsby Dawson, who was married to Helen C. Wright-Clark, daughter of Nairn Linoleum Company head Peter Campbell, and widow of John Wright-Clark, a member of the Clark Thread family.

In December 1940, the house was sold to Dr. Anthony F. DePalma, who used it for medical offices for 25 years before it became a nursing home. That facility closed in the late 1980s, the house was abandoned and it became severely damaged over the years.* * *

"This is a great day for us," said [North Ward Councilman Anibal] Ramos, adding that "it’s a great thing for the neighborhood, brings ratables to the city, brings tenants into a building that was under-utilized and it restores what was once an eyesore into the kind of property it deserves to be."
It is heartening to know that a sound, historic structure can be so beautifully restored even after extensive water damage from a hole in the ceiling.

I used my graffics program to zoom in from the second foto to show broken windows in and graffiti on the Mansion before its restoration.

Unfortunately, as so often happens with any article about Newark online, the "haters" appended a number of disgraceful, hateful, racist comments that should have been removed by NJ.com as hate speech. These commenters are vile, subhuman pieces of sh* who dare not use their real names when they spout their bile, but hide behind pseudonyms. Their remarks are unworthy of anyone's attention. The slanderers should be identified, denounced, and publicly shunned. No decent person should have anything to do with them.
Valentine's Day Land Sale — Couples Only. The Ironbound Super Neighborhood on February 7th sent to its extensive mailing list a story about a special sale of vacant lots coming up on Valentine's Day that is intended to return more of Newark to ratables and occupied housing.
A special land sale that Economic and Housing Development has organized for St. Valentine’s Day – Saturday, 14 February 2015, 9:00AM  – 12:00PM at Newark City Hall (920 Broad Street). In the spirit of St. Valentine’s Day, we are doing a sale of city lots exclusively to COUPLES. Transforming non-tax producing city owned lots to occupied, tax producing properties with new homes built on them. We will be selling 100 lots at $1,000 a lot. This sale is NOT for developers or investors. The sale is exclusively for couples who are looking to live in Newark.

The rules are as follows:
• You must be a couple (straight or LGBT)
• Only one lot per couple
• Lots will be awarded on a "first come, first served" basis
• Lots will be sold for $1,000 each
• All final sales are subject to Municipal Council approval
• Buyers will be required to make a $500 down payment
• Buyers will be required to pay an additional $500 at closing
• Buyer is responsible for all closing costs
• Buyer must submit a City Planning Board approved site plan to close on the property
• Buyer must have a commitment letter from a financial institution AND/OR proof of cash to cover the cost of the infill new construction to close on the property
• Construction must be completed within 18 months of closing
• Buyer must reside in the property for 5 years after issuance of C.O.
• Anyone from anywhere is eligible to participate except employees of the EHD Property Management Division
The addresses of the lots on offer are given at this webpage.
In case you didn't notice one sentence I found striking, let me hilite it: "You must be a couple (straight or LGBT)". I am very proud of the City of Newark. Not only is it fair, but it is also smart, because gay people have sparked the revival of many marginal neighborhoods all across the country. I don't know how close to each other the 1,000 lots are. Plainly gay people would be more inclined to build in an area with other gay people, but the more gay people Newark can attract, esp. gay COUPLES, the stronger the city will be.
The email also speaks to another program designed to put more houses into play.
The "Live Newark" Program has been launched to encourage municipal employees and public school teachers to purchase homes — in Newark. The program will provide home purchasers with forgivable loans to cover closing costs and rehabilitation expenses for homes purchased in one of the City’s two struggling Model Neighborhood Initiative areas.
How, pray, is the word "live" in "Live Newark" to be pronounced? This kind of ambiguity is why I am a spelling reformer. I imagine that the first word in "Live Newark" is intended to be pronounced liv. If the program's name were "Live in Newark", that might be clearer, but still a tad ambiguous.
In any case, I am very pleased to see that the Baraka Administration is aggressively pursuing programs to fill in vacant lots and renovate housing in "Model Neighborhoods". GlocallyNewark has more information. We can always use more good homeowners willing to exert themselves to restore their own houses and, by extension, the city of Newark.