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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.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Vejjies in Vailsburg

Toward the end of the 35 years that I lived in Manhattan (June 1965-June 2000), I hungered for garden space in which to grow my own veggies, even more than flowers. I have had greater success with flowers since I moved to Newark. Still, I try to grow veggies, and have space for them, if not always ideal liting.

Tomato and pepper plants fallen over due to their weight in a big planter in my front yard.

I learned from experience not to try to grow vegetables from seed, because you have to start them much before spring begins. Remembering to do that and actually setting the seed to sprout is distracting from one's ordinary activities. This is something you really want to do, but does it have to be done now? Yes, it really does have to be done now, that is, within a two- or three-week span. If it is not done now, you won't get any food from the plants. So I decided to buy plantlets rather than seeds. Food Stamps might actually pay for seeds and/or plantlets that could produce food, at much lower cost than the produce department of a supermarket would charge — IF you buy them at a supermarket. Early in the growing season, ShopRite offers vejjie plantlets outside the store before you enter. Home-grown vejjies are essentially free after purchase of the plant or seeds, except for a tiny expenditure for water.

Turnips growing in a soft plastic pot in my yard, not even in full sun.

There is also the issue of how much lite a given "crop" species requires. If the food proceeds from flowers — for instance, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, watermelons, cantaloupes, and strawberries — you will need a lot of lite, in some cases full sun for as long as 8 or 10 hours a day.
If, however, what you are growing does not require flowering, such as lettuce, celery, and other vegetative items, you do not need as much lite. But you will still require some direct sunlite, neither blocked by nor filtered thru the shade cast by overarching broadleaf trees.

Strawberry plant in a planter-bench in my backyard surrounded by other plants, which, however, should not have interfered with its functioning. Note three small flowers or flower husks at top left, which should have developed into strawberries. If they did, some outdoor critter ate them. I doubt it was cats, which eat meat. The brown things are oak leaves, which are everywhere in my yard. Even during the height of summer, green oak leaves detach from the 70-foot trees above, and fall onto everything. I can use them as free fertilizer in plant pots or at the bottom of holes that I dig in the yard for things like chrysanthemums. I currently have one yellow and one purple chrysanthemum to put into the ground before the winter freeze, which ordinarily should not occur until about December 3rd.

This year, I planted tomatoes, zucchini, green peppers, broccoli, turnips (white/purplish, not yellow turnips/rutabagas), watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, and lettuce. I could have planted pumpkins, but I'm not really sure what to do with pumpkin as a food. I do not aspire to be a baker of pies, tho I love pumpkin pie. And I'm not sure how you would make pumpkin soup. I could as well have tried celery, but didn't plant it. Maybe I just didn't see seeds at the supermarket (the Ferry Street Pathmark in the Ironbound, which I generally go to only when my friend Jerry from Manhattan comes to Newark for an art show. For whatever (dopy) reason, the Bergen Street Pathmark did not offer seeds this year. I actually spoke to a manager, who told me they had not received a seed display. Why NOT?!). I had poor results from both white and purple eggplant in previous years, so didn't try again this year, esp. since I'm not entirely clear as to what to do with eggplant, tho I like it as cooked by other people.

Strawberry plant in my backyard that has no interference but still has not produced so much as one strawberry. Perhaps there just isn't enuf lite in that spot.

The one tomato plant in my small but well-lit front yard has produced many more tomatoes than I could or am inclined to use, and some of them went bad before I could, or would, use them. I have had seven good-sized tomatoes from the one bush/vine, and there may be others there that I have not yet looked for. It turns out that I like tomatoes more in theory than practice. I planted a green pepper plant in the same big planter, and see one small pepper growing. I have seen other pepper flowers, but not yet other peppers. I am unclear as to whether red peppers are a different variety, that grows from a different plant, or just green peppers that stay on the vine longer. I don't think they taste different.

Here you see, close-in, one large tomato in the big planter in my front yard.

My zucchini plantlet looked to be a winner soon after I planted it. Two big, yellow flowers came up. But then white spots appeared on the leaves, as indicated some fungal blite. The plant continued to grow, however. Then squirrel/s dug into the pot in which I had planted the zucchini, exposing the plant's roots as threatened to kill it. I saw what the squirrels had done, put the plant back into the soil, and watered it in. It started to recover. But then the dratted squirrels dug it up again and completely killed it. Next year I shall have to sift thru the soil of the pots into which I put plantlets to make sure there are no acorns that would incite squirrels to dig deep and destructive holes.
Some animal, be it squirrel, possum, or raccoon (or even mouse or rat), has eaten every single strawberry that my four different plants have produced. A group of four strawberry plantlets cost only about $5, and they grew beautifully — until raided by squirrels, who first dug up the soil near-in to them and then ate the fruit before it was remotely ripe enuf for me to harvest.

Here you see what made me so hopeful of having strawberries from my garden, a strawberry flower that would precede a fruit. But that fruit never came to fruition, because some wild neighborhood animal ate it! If I grow strawberries next year, I will have to put a wire guard around each plant, which would let lite in but keep squirrels, raccoons, and possums OUT.

The watermelon and cantaloupe vines have seemed to grow, but I see no sign of a melon from either vine. Maybe they take longer to mature than I thought, and than the information on the packaging indicated, so if I plant them next year, I'll have to do so much earlier.
I have one each of two large red and black raspberry plants (perennials) that I did not trim back in the spring as instructed. They have produced minimal fruit. I'll try cutting them back to 2 feet above the ground next year to see if that fixes things. This next foto shows a mere four berries on one of those large plants. Better four berries than none, I suppose.

My one fair-sized pot containing turnips has produced a roaringly good crop. They are white/somewhat purple turnips rather than yellow (rutabagas), so I don't know if I'll like the taste as much as I anticipated. The leaves are large, so I can have turnip greens too. In this foto, a squirrel or something has dug a hole, exposing a small turnip. But that turnip has roots deep in the surrounding soil, so has not been damaged by the exposure.

Apart from my own yard, there are other vegetable gardens in my neighborhood. When I took pictures of sunflowers in a front yard on 18th Avenue, I took as well a picture of what the (Hispanic) homeowner said were kidney-bean plants. I don't know if he got edible beans from them, nor whether the plants matured at the same time or over several weeks, as provided a steady supply of beans in easily usable quantity.

Elsewhere in my neighborhood, east of 18th Avenue, there was a fairly large yard with various nonflowering, low bushes that I assumed to be vejjie crops. The flowers in the foreground are hostas, which do not produce food for people. But I wish to direct your attention to the plants behind the flowering hostas.

North of my house, on the other side of Sandford Avenue at the corner of Cliff Street, is a community garden with a number of raised beds formed by heavy timbers. I don't know who organized this garden, but it seems to have been a great success. In a prior year, I saw an attribution to the Lincoln (elementary) School not far from there, but the maintenance and watering of the garden would have had to be done while school was out for the summer. On the Sandford Avenue frontage appears this decorative group of plants.

Inside, there are a number of other plants, not all of which I recognized.

Here, however, you can plainly see a head of cauliflower within its very large, encircling leaves. I don't care for cauliflower, so would never plant it. But someone clearly likes it. I did plant some seeds for broccoli, a related plant but quite different in that the edible crown is a mass of flower buds, but some of the seedlings were killed by animals digging in the vicinity of their roots, or by momentary drought even in this year's generally wet summer.

I thought that the lite in that plot was not brite during much of the day, but it seemed perfectly adequate to what the people who worked that garden planted. Did they have the advice of a county agent?

And did they use commercial fertilizer or plant food? I feel that that is cheating, and that gardeners should instead load the soil with compost or other rich, organic matter before planting. That may be a prejudice that other people do not share. Still, people who are concerned about pesticides and GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms) can be sure of the things they raise in their own yard, in Newark. Manhattanites are pretty much dependent upon what food vendors SAY is in their food. When I take a tomato, pepper, or turnip from my yard, I have no questions whatsoever about its safety. GreeNewark.

This is a view of what a pedestrian passing the Cliff Street plot would see, as might in effect disguise a vegetable garden as a floral garden.

In the foto below, you can see plainly that there is a single large head of cauliflower in a plant that extends far out on all sides.

In any case, I am very glad I have the option to grow some of my own food on my own property, without needing to ask permission of a landlord. Next year, I think I'll add carrots and celery to the list of things I try to grow. Maybe even white or purple eggplant. Seeds are cheap, and plantlets aren't very expensive. If the plants at issue produce food, my Food Stamps allowance may cover the cost of purchase. I'm not saying that being old and poor — and poor only because I'm old, and Social Security doesn't work as it was intended, but gives money to the RICH that should instead go to people of modest means — is a good thing. But sometimes social programs align with commonsense. As here. And we should express our appreciation. As here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gorgeous Wind

I ventured Downtown on Sunday for the Art + Peace Parade organized by the Barat Foundation, but things were not as I expected. More of that in another post. Today I just want to show the beautiful weather, and what the wondrous wind did to the flags outside Prudential Financial's World Headquarters on Broad Street, looking across to 744 Broad Street.

When I speak of a gorgeous wind, I am of course not saying that you could see the wind as such, but you could certainly see its effects on the flags. The first foto shows how my camera interpreted the scene, with the gleaming marble HQ building leaning into the picture. That is of course not what really happened. It's just an artefact of fotografy. My graffics program contains a "Perspective Correction Tool". The correction for that perspective distortion was so extreme that the HQ building pretty much disappears, and 744 appears much narrower than it actually is.

The wind was buffeting me, as made me concerned that the camera might move while I was taking the picture, or that I would become unsteady on my feet while looking up at such a steep angle. And I wanted to show the flag atop 744 more centrally. So I moved a few feet left and rested against the low part of the HQ building to take a second picture, which also produced a foto with wild perspective distortion. Unfortunately, I also lost the U.S. flag from the right side of the scene. But there's one plainly in view atop 744.

The U.S. flag is a great design, esp. in its 50-star form. The 48-star flag, in use when I was a child, was static, with row upon identical row. The 50-star flag, with staggered rows of different number, is much more dynamic.
I know a fair bit about flags, and there are some that are just standouts. The flag of the United Kingdom is also a standout, not only in itself but also in its variants, the Red, Blue, and White Ensigns, as used by various present or former colonies of the British Empire. Had the recent referendum on separation of Scotland from the U.K. succeeded, the Union Jack, at the least, would have been stripped of one of its crosses, and been substantially impoverished visually. It would then look like the flag shown in the Wikipedia article about the Blue Ensign captioned "The British Blue Ensign (1707–1801)" — a much less dynamic and beautiful design. As to whether other territories would have felt obliged to adjust their flags to reflect that loss, they probably would not have done so, in that their flags originated when the U.K. was U[nited]. I rather doubted that Scots would want to be reduced to nothingness in the grand scheme of things by creating a ministate of no world importance, and the majority of Scots showed they did not. Good thing for the flag.
I ran the Perspective Correction Tool on this foto too, with the following result.

Just so you can see how extreme a correction was required for these fotos, I show below how each looked after I applied the Perspective Correction Tool without auto-cropping, then cropped manually, as above. This is the first, which includes the U.S. flag at right.

This is the second, which does not include the U.S. flag.

The flags aflutter are hard to identify. Between the two original fotos, I recognize the flags of Canada (lower left), South Korea, Japan, Brazil, Indonesia, Prudential itself, and Portugal. If they were flat on a wall, I'd probably recognize at least several others.
All in all, I much prefer the dramatic original versions of these two pictures, even with their wildly distorted perspective.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Good Traction on Bike Paths

I show today two fotos of a bicycle path on Jones Street between South Orange Avenue and Springfield Avenue, opposite the construction site of the new Newark ShopRite (and, apparently, an associated housing structure).
This first picture shows a wide view of a bicycle path, demarcated by a green pathway and bicycle icons placed regularly along its length.

This closer, detail view, shows that the green path is not just painted asphalt, but is textured to give bikes greater traction than they would have on smooth asphalt. Cars, SUVs, buses, trucks, and the like have great weight to hold them to smooth asphalt. Bicycles don't have any such weight, so need greater roughness to the surface they travel upon to secure them from skids that could send them into traffic. The makers of Newark's bicycle paths knew that, and provided for it. Good.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Art + Peace Parade TODAY

"Open Doors", Newark's big October arts festival, ends today, with the last major event being the annual parade of bands marching and "Animodules" rolling thru the streets of Downtown Newark. Organized by the Barat Foundation (like "Barrett"), this year's march forms starting at 10:00am (Sunday, 10/19/14) outside 85 Market Street, perhaps 170 feet west of Washington Street. This is the site occupied during OD14 by the Barat Foundation, as seen the nite of Friday, October 10th. The parade will be forming outside the storefront with the sea serpent in the window.

At noon, the parade will head east, then make a left at Broad Street, then go up and around Military Park before returning to 85 Market.

Regular readers of this blog will know that Animodules are stylized cut-out wooden animals consisting of two planes in a cross and painted with various motifs or smaller designs. The foto below shows a description of one of them, along with the name of the woman who came up with the basic pattern.

This second foto shows that specific Animodule as it was on display in the temporary gallery space that the Barats (a family of artists and activists) occupied for Open Doors 2014.

The last foto today shows some of the Animodules, proclaimed "Newark's Official Peace Ambassadors" by former Mayor and now U.S. Senator Cory Booker, in relation to people during the public reception on the evening of October 10th.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


I drove Downtown this evening to look for an "Open Doors" event described on the Newark Arts Council's poster thus:
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 18, 7 to 10 PM | 61 Halsey Street #403
SALON∞SALON: chatrousalonlette – CLOSING PARTY!
I saw no evidence of any such event. Indeed, 61 Halsey Street is only three stories tall, so I doubt it contained a unit termed #403. Since I was already Downtown, I thought I'd walk around a bit, and take some pix of the current state of the repurposing and renovation of the former Hahne's Department store, and other things I might see in that neighborhood. I did not take a foto of an odd sight, four very slender, very young women walking in elegant short dresses while barefoot, high heels in hand, down Central Avenue toward Broad Street, opposite Kilkenny's Alehouse. I thought that would be rude, tho it was a striking sight, esp. given that the weather had started to turn brisk. They were walking briskly, so I didn't have time to call out a cheery "Hi!" and ask where they were headed, why they were carrying their shoes, and if they'd be willing to pose for a picture for a fotoblog about Newark. Frankly, they appeared unexpectedly and were down the block before I could even form such a thought.

The foto above shows the part of the Hahne's building near the corner of Halsey and New Streets. The large plywood barriers that had been there for months have been removed from the northern wall, and you can now see what's being done inside that wall and the top of the wall adjacent to the east.
As for the intersection where I had seen those young women, I spotted this interesting block of concrete (or such) with blue markings.

It was very close to the oil tank painted by Newark artist Jerry Gant, and I suspected that the blue-decorated masonry is also by Jerry G.

Given the very poor lite in that area at nearly 10pm, I couldn't get a good picture of that tank, which is also now under some construction scaffolding or sidewalk bridge. But I could get a pretty good picture of the decorated masonry block, tho I don't know whether the artist intended it to be seen from a different angle.

I then walked back to my car, which was parked on Washington south of New Street, but as I rounded the corner onto Washington, I saw this in a slite recess from the street near that corner.

This area to the right of the main painting, which does not show well in the wider view, shows the same kind of blue markings as on the irregular block of masonry, but with what looks to me like "JG" in the lower left of the cluster.

So maybe I'm right about the masonry block and this niche both being by Jerry Gant. The closer view below shows a distinct JG, and when I looked at the other picture, I saw the same cluster with indistinct JG's. Apparently this cluster was done with a stencil.

Moreover, late on the afternoon of October 5th, I had to make a detour around a short stretch of South Orange Avenue that was closed for road work, and chanced across this mural on a school at around 10th or 11th Street and 13th Avenue. It reminded me of a mural I showed here on June 27, 2011 that I know was done by Jerry Gant and Kevin Blythe Sampson. The two murals are not of exactly the same style, but I suspect this one was also done by Jerry Gant. If it was not, I hope someone who knows the actual artist/s will advise me, and I will give proper credit.

In any case, Jerry Gant has stamped (and stenciled) his imprint on Newark in artworks large and small, and Newark is the better for it.

Friday, October 17, 2014

OD14 Closing Weekend

Newark's "Open Doors" artstravaganza closes this weekend (of the two weekends that it spanned). Rather than type text or even try to find the right electronic text to lift from email or website/s, let me just show here the relevant portion of the event-schedule poster issued by the Newark Arts Council. I had folded that glossy, 11" by 17" two-sided poster in fourths (to fit into my right back pocket, along with a bunch of other informational materials I picked up along the way), which just happened to isolate this panel that lists the events from yesterday thru the Sunday end of the Open Doors festival.

Last year, the NAC issued a newsprint guide of several pages that I found hard to use and visually dim. This year, they condensed all event information into a two-sided poster. The first side included a map and list of participating venues.

The second side summarized the many events, organized in logical fashion. I found this much easier to deal with, and much briter and more esthetically appealing.

I don't know if you can read, even with a magnifying glass, any of the text in these views of the poster or the quarter of its second side that addresses this coming weekend's events. If not, and you want to see a webpage that gives detailed event information, you should go, as I mentioned on October 9th, to the Event Schedule at the NAC website or the even higher-level page, called "Open Doors 2014".
I have not yet created my Picasa Online foto album of pix from this year's artswirl. I got very disappointing results from the 242 fotos I took during the first two nites. The liting was off, in both of the 'insurance' fotos I ordinarily take of important scenes, one with flash and one without. Both turned out lousy in many cases, and it's going to take a lot of work to render individual fotos representative of what a person on the scene actually saw. Here, for instance, are two fotos of the most glorious portion of the Gateway Project show as I regard things, an entire room filled with wonderful, intense, pastel portraits preserved by spray-on fixative created by Keyport (Monmouth County) artist Grace Graupe-Pillard (gróu.pee pi.lórd, where O followed by any consonant takes its short sound, as in "on" or "forest", as sophisticated speakers say it). I took this first with flash.

I have been remiss in reading thru documentation for various devices I have acquired. I bought a ProScan tablet, but the extremely minimalist documentation did not empower me to use it, and when I went back to try again, I got a padlock icon, and nothing else, as suggested that somehow the device thought I had locked it, so I would now have to unlock it, by means of a password I did not store — tho I would have stored a password had I actually applied one. So I cannot presently use it. I need to take the time to read thru all the documentation, which is almost none, and see if a solution to my problem presents itself there. I am very certain that I am not the only person who tries to operate his/her various electronic devices without reading all the documentation. But then you end up doing only what is obvious, not what is possible but not obvious.

This second foto, taken without flash, isn't right either. It is going to take a very long time for me to fix over 200 fotos before I can even choose which of redundant fotos I can delete, in favor of the better foto of a pair.

I apparently need to investigate if there are settings available in my compáct GE camera that I have not accéssed, such as ISO (lite sensitivity) and incandescent vs. fluorescent liting, that would let me take better pictures. I have been working with only a limited number of menus in that camera, so exploring other options might permit me to fix the problems I encountered last week. Alas, that is too late for the 242 pix I did take last Thursday and Friday.
I don't know how many more OD14 events I will get to. I'd like to check out the Essex County College and nearby Arts High exhibits, and Solo(s) Project House. I need to call my friend Jerry, who is living in Manhattan, to see if he wants to join me, because I'd rather go with someone than by myself. He was not available on Thursday the 9th, but did join me on Friday the 10th, when we visited five shows and some eight studios.
The one event I want to be certain not to miss is the annual Art + Peace Parade organized by the Barat Foundation (pronounced like "Barrett"), which is to form, around 10:30am, outside 85 Market Street (formerly occupied by Rupert Ravens Contemporary art gallery and, before that, Furniture King), to march, at 12 noon, east on Market Street to Broad Street, then up Broad and around Military Park before returning to 85 Market. For the third year in a row, the Parade will follow-on to a breast-cancer march, so there might be some spectators in Downtown Newark, which would ordinarily, on early Sunday, be almost empty. Perhaps the Art + Peace Parade has become dependent upon the breast-cancer march, such that even tho the Dodge Poetry Festival is coming to town again this year (every second year), the Parade is synced to the breast-cancer march rather than to the Poetry Festival. Downtown Newark should not be empty on any day. Indeed, given that parking is free on Sunday, Sunday should be a popular day for people to visit Downtown Newark, with its magnificent, beautifully landscaped parks surrounded by wonderful high-rise architecture.
In any case, I hope to take some video more than just still pictures, and make such video available on YouTube.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dietze Studios and Two Other Venues Open TONITE

I am putting up this brief notice before lunchtime on Thursday so that people who might like to attend an "Open Doors" art event tonite might see it before they would otherwise head home immediately after work. I'll add pictures and other info about the second (and last) weekend of this year's "Open Doors" artswhirl after I upload this basic info about tonite's event.
We hope you can come to the open studios at the Dietze building to[nite,] October 16, 5-7pm, part of the Newark Arts Council's 13th annual Open Doors citywide arts festival! Our studio, along with those of Nell Painter and Alfonse Pagano will be open.
Anker West
ceramics and architecture
The Dietze Building
60 Union Street
Newark, NJ, 07105
60 Union Street is less than two blocks south of Ferry Street, on the street that forms, with Ferry, the corner at which the Ironbound Walgreens is located. Traffic comes out from Union Street onto Ferry, so if you're driving, you can't get there directly from Ferry but must use another street that goes south, be it McWhorter to the west or Prospect to the east. McWhorter is more direct. The more consequential problem might be finding a place to park in that area.

I didn't make it to any of Thursday's events due in large part to fatigue from lack of sleep because I have a very irregular sleep 'schedule'. But I did get to several artists' studios last Friday on the floor above the main gallery space of Index Art Center. Unfortunately, the bulk of those studios bore no sign by which one might know whose space it was, so I can't say whose artwork this is. Can we get some better organization of these things next year? All it would take is one person, for all venues put together, at a computer to generate and print one sign per studio on, say, letter-size cardstock or even a regular 8½" by 11" sheet of paper, in landscape orientation. Is that an intolerable imposition? Wouldn't the artists like to have visitors know whose work they are seeing?

An email from the NAC reports two other events this evening.
6-8 PM | WBGO Gallery, 54 Park Place

James Ransome: Benny, Teddy, Quilts and Our Times Children's book illustrator, James E. Ransome, exhibits watercolor paintings from his new book Benny Goodman & Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the First Black and White Jazz Band in History, written by his wife and frequent collaborator, author Lesa Cline-Ransome. The exhibit, entitled Benny, Teddy, Quilts, and our Times, also features original works from many of Ransome's other titles. Join WBGO for the opening reception this evening.

7-9 PM | Sanctuary, A Yendor Production, 765 Broad St (7th Floor)
[I believe that "Yendor" is "Rodney" (Gilbert) backwards.]
Panel Discussion: Out in Newark! Queer Club Spaces as Sanctuary Sanctuary is a collaboration between Yendor Productions, Rutgers Queer Newark, and the LGBT community of Newark to explore, document, and exhibit the city’s club scene. It was a scene that created safe spaces and provided an almost spiritual sanctuary for the LGBTQI community. A panel discussion will commence around the themes presented in the exhibition. Speakers TBD. Sanctuary is a Newark Arts Council supported exhibition.
I am very indignant that not just Yendor Productions but also the NAC dares to use the term "queer", which is always and ever an INSULT. The NAC is in effect telling the whole world that it is just fine to call gay men "queer". It is not. On what other vile insults will the NAC bestow its seal of approval? "Faggot"? "Nigger"? "Spic", "spade", "dago", "wop", "gook", "chink", "jungle-bunny", "spear-chucker", "darkie", "fruit"? Words make a difference. The respectful terms for homosexuals and lesbians are "homosexual", "lesbian", and "gay". That's pretty much it. NOT "queer".
As for that alphabet salad "LGBTQI", what is all that nonsense? Isn't "LGBT" enuf of a term for a nonexistent 'community' of people who have nothing in common and often can't stand each other? There is a pathetic desperation in evidence here, in which people who feel isolated and powerless reach out to increase their numbers and fite their feeling of being alone in the world, by grasping onto groups who are nothing like themselves, then feel obliged to alter their identity to accommodate those Others rather than find satisfaction in being Themselves. These people need to grow up and stop confusing themselves. Find yourself and stick with it.