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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, April 16, 2014

Mandela 'Mural' in Robeson Center

When I traveled to the Senior Fine Art Exhibition last Thursday in the Robeson Campus Center of Rutgers-Newark, I was struck by this ebullient large painting on the wall outside the Main Gallery.

I didn't know if it was a permanent addition to the Center but was very pleased to see it.

This next foto shows the sign to its left, which in the first two words of the paragraf at the very bottom refers to the painting as a "mural", even tho a mural is ordinarily "applied directly to a wall or ceiling" (The American Heritage [electronic] Dictionary), whereas this is a removable canvas.

Whatever it is, it is a glorious, if temporary, addition to the art on display in the Robeson Center. If you would like to see it in person, it will be on view until July 31st of next year. That's plenty of time, but time has a way of creeping away, so if I were you, I wouldn't long delay.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Foto Weekend

Robeson Campus (student) center of Rutgers University — Newark.

From Thursday evening to late Sunday afternoon, I took 280 pix, mainly at (a) the Rutgers-Newark Senior Fine Art Exhibition in the Robeson Campus Center's Main Gallery, plus the art shows in the other Rutgers art-exhibition spaces (Nova Gallery, Pequod Deck, and Orbit Galleries I and II); (b) the Artbound exhibit of teen artists' work at the Newark Print Shop on Friday; (c) the construction site of the new Prudential HQ annex (which I refer to as "NuPru", and which borders New Street, so the name is doubly apt), from sunset into early nite, also Friday; (d) my spring-flowering bulbs in late afternoon lite on Saturday, including not just daffodils but also hyacinths and crocuses; (e) Branch Brook Park's Bloomfest site on Sunday; and (f) also on Sunday, the NuPru construction site in late-afternoon daylite.

Nova Gallery, one wall outside the Main Gallery of the Robeson Center.

People young today have no idea how glorious it is to someone of my generation to take hundreds of fotos yet not face enormous foto-processing fees, then have to wait days to either pick up the fotos from a store or receive them in the U.S. mail. Even then, what could we do with hardcopy fotos but look at them ourselves and share them with other people of our acquaintance, in person or by postal mail?

Senior Fine Art Exhibition, Rutgers-Newark.

There was, as recently as 1990 or even beyond, no Internet by means of which ordinary people could share fotos far and wide, all around the planet. There were no websites nor blogs into which to insert fotos so that other people could see them remotely. The Internet is without doubt the greatest time-waster of all time, which would include television, radio, records, comic books, and every other distraction from what matters. But the Internet also allows people to share important images and ideas with strangers thousands and thousands of miles distant. I have received email from people as far away as Indonesia who appreciated seeing fotos of the Newark they enjoyed while students in one of our universities.

Oil paintings by Vivian McDuffie in the Orbit I gallery, Rutgers-Newark.

Remember that Newark is a very major college town, of some 45,000 post-secondary students. The great preponderance of those students have a great time here. They also gain the sense that they are tuf enuf to live ANYWHERE their aspirations might take them, because they feel that Newark is one tuf town, even tho for most people it's not, but is a city like any other civilized American locale, from Boston to New York to Los Angeles to San Francisco to Austin or any other college town. Sure, there are iffy and even downrite dangerous neighborhoods, esp. after dark, but those are not anywhere near the colleges. So Newark is actually among the most civilized and safest of major American college towns. We have intercampus shuttles, with brite liting at the various stops along the route. The tens of thousands of college students out on the streets at all hours of the day and well into the nite make things safe for everyone on the various campuses. But who knows that? Certainly the "haters" who are angry that the Newark they loved before it seemed to turn against them in 1967, do not forgive their loss of the FEELING of safety. Mind you, they would ACTUALLY be safe in most of today's Newark, but they refuse to believe that.

Wide view of Orbit II.

Happily, in dealing with these 280 fotos, I learned last year how to have my graffics program batch-process many fotos in one swell foop, so I did not have to run them individually.

Fotograffic art exhibit, Pequod Deck outside the Starbucks in the Robeson Campus Center, about women's health issues in Nicaragua.

Choosing which fotos to show, and writing the texts to go with them, will take much more time. Fortuitously as regards demands upon my time and attention, our appallingly severe winter has delayed the appearance of the cherry blossoms in Branch Brook Park, so I took only a few pix in the Park Sunday, and probably have another week to return to BBPk to show peak blossoming. That gives me more time to address the other topics for which I took so many fotos.

One teen-artist's work in the Arbound exhibition in the Newark Print Shop.

Plainly I am not going to show all 280 pix in this blog. I can put here a link to the online album in Google's Picasa foto-display service at which those fotos that I particularly like do appear, but I'll use, interspersed in various posts to this blog, only those that make points I want to emphasize. If you do click on the link to the album, click as well on the "Slideshow" option to see all the fotos in that album to date (with or without captions). I add more until the album reaches about 500 fotos.

With regard to the NuPru construction site, I think I'll create a separate album in Picasa where I can show more progress pix than I can use in this blog, and add to it as I visit the site periodically until construction is complete.

One small cluster of the spring-flowering bulbs in my front yard, this group being daffodils (narcissuses / narcissusi) and blue hyacinths.

Naturally, I could not (1) attend events and take pix there, and (2) write posts that use those fotos, and (3) get to the library to upload them to this fotoblog, all in a given day. The late days at the South Orange and Vailsburg libraries run only from Monday to Thursday, so the window within which I can (given my late-day waking schedule) upload posts is narrow, esp. if events on Thursday keep me from the library. (Thursday is a very popular day in the Newark arts community, as attested to by the Artbound exhibition's opening reception.) Then, we had rain on both Monday and Tuesday of this week, and very cold temperatures, no higher than 50°, on Wednesday, and I am no longer inclined to go out into inclement weather, ever.

The vaguely pink tint to the trees in this foto of Branch Brook Park near the Welcome Center shows that the cherry trees that should have been at peak bloom are only in bud, another of many disproofs of the insane construct of "man-made global warming".

Reader Frank M. has suggested I look into using the library at Seton Hall University, which is little more than a mile from my house, and is open very late, even until 2am some nites. I feel a little odd about that, tho, since Seton Hall is a private university, not public. Yes, pretty much all colleges in this country do receive taxpayer dollars indirectly in the form of Pell Grants and student loans to kids who could not otherwise attend, plus public support directly to the institution for various activities and fields of research. So perhaps I shouldn't be so reticent about taking advantage of Seton Hall's policy as to public visitors. Here is the relevant text from the "Access & Privileges" portion of the SHU website:

The University Libraries are intended primarily for the use of currently enrolled Seton Hall University students and currently employed faculty, administrators and staff. Others, such as Seton Hall University alumni, visiting scholars who are currently sponsored by an academic or administrative division, and public visitors [emphasis added], may also have access to the collections. ***

A valid SHU ID card or a visitor's pass, to be worn after guests sign the University Library Visitor's Book, must be available and/or visible for presentation to a member of the University Public Safety and/or to University Libraries personnel. ***

Persons other than current students whose behavior is not consistent with the policy outlined above may be asked to leave the University Libraries, may be reported to appropriate law enforcement authorities and [be] subject to arrest, and may be barred from using the University Libraries for a given period.

When I was at the Robeson show, I looked into wifi within the Campus Center and near the Starbucks, but could not get the Internet there. Then I went, not far, to the Dana Library, and could not get wifi there either. I asked the two young women at the librarians' station if wifi is available to public guests or only to students and staff, and was told that only students and staff are permitted the library's wifi. That seems odd to me. How much, if anything, could it cost to let anyone who brings in his or her own laptop or tablet, to use the library's wifi?

At the southeast corner of the NuPru site, Cedar Street at Broad, is this low building enshrouded in black netting. Other buildings that had been so shrouded in prior stages of the construction of this Prudential HQ annex have been torn down. Is that to be the fate of this building too?

A public guest, I was told, can use one of the library's own wired computers for one hour a day, which would be fine for email, online research, and news and entertainment sites, but would be of no use to people like me, who need to upload materials from our own computer. It seems to me that allowing people in the general community to use the University's own computers, wired to the Internet, which costs the University something, but not allowing them to use their own computer, via wifi, which costs the University nothing, is a very peculiar allocation of resources. Does Seton Hall have a similar policy regarding wifi, such that public visitors cannot use their own laptop to accéss the University's wifi? I sure hope not. It would be disturbing to force myself to go to the SHU library over my reservations, only to find that I could not use its wifi after all!

This is the area of Military Park by the bust of JFK on a high pedestal at the left. Now that I think of it, I think the pedestal is TOO high, and the bust should be brought down closer to the viewer's eye. Military Park is still under substantial reconstruction, and I pushed my camera thru one of the myriad gaps in the chainlink fence around it to make that fence disappear. I don't know how much longer the park will be fenced off, but I look forward to walking thru it in its new splendor. I was pleased to see that the cannon at the southern end is still there. You never know what some 'smart' designer will decide is no longer fashionable. But the people carrying out this renovation seem respectful of this historic place.

In any case, this narrative must serve as a postdated mention of things fotograffed over the few days prior.

Wars of America, Gutzon Borglum's largest sculpture in bronze, in Military Park. I do not recall if this statue was floodlit at nite before the current park renovation, but it should have been.

Newark survives the winter, but, like the cherry trees in Branch Brook Park, blossoms only with the return of spring. At no time during our extremely long and bitterly cold winter, nor the three weeks before or three weeks after astronomical winter, did I take anything like 280 fotos during any four days. But warmth is back, and so am I, as long as the warmth lasts.

Here's a view from my bedroom window of snow on a black car and the rust-colored roof over my porch, on the morning of April 16th.

Appallingly, we had a dusting of SNOW again in the middle of the nite from Tuesday to Wednesday, April 15th to 16th. The forecast high for Wednesday, the sole late nite at the Vailsburg Branch of the Newark Public Library, was for 50°, and the high for Thursday, the last late nite of the week at the South Orange Public Library, was for 53°. As long as there is no rain with those temperatures, I can face a local trip. I'm not happy about such cool temperatures midway thru April, but I can cope. Alas, this week is two days shorter at the libraries due to Good Friday and Easter.

Here is a briter picture of snow on my porch roof in mid-April. Why is there all this crazy talk about "man-made global warming", when it is absolutely, patently obvious that no such thing is occurring? Disproofs are of no interest to the true believer, who will insist on true-believing no matter how much evidence is arrayed against their (essentially religious) faith.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Latest cWOW Show

Update April 10th: I have added three fotos from last year's Cherry Blossom Festival within the Festival portion of my mention of spring-flowering bulbs on

Exhibition title on wall. The human eye evens out the spotlited area with the rest. The camera, however, shows the contrast starkly.

Last Thursday (April 3rd), I attended the opening reception at the City Without Walls art gallery of a spare show called "Informed By Fire: The Art of Raku and Ceramics". I was unclear as to what "raku" meant, so looked it up. The emailed invitation provided only this information.
This exhibition showcases artists who primarily work in ceramics that have been fired with alternative techniques including raku (post-fire reduction), sagar firing, and smoke firing. These primitive technologies and minimal techniques reflect the use of fire and smoke in the process and executed in a contemporary context.
I arrived rather late, around 7:45pm to an opening reception that was scheduled to last only from 6-8pm, so did not have time to watch the video in the darkened side room that might have explained the relevant process(es). I took this foto that may show a crucial part of one firing process, dipping a piece, held by tongs, into a metal garbage can in which a fire raged.

Why, pray, are cWOW opening receptions only two hours long? At least nowadays the management is not prompt about throwing people out at the preannounced closing time. When I had taken all the pix my batteries lasted for — which is one foto short of what I wanted to take — it was about a quarter after 8, and there were lots of people still there. When I left my house, I thought I had spare batteries in my waist pouch ("fannypack"), but remembered that, if worse came to worst, as in the case of an earlier cWOW reception, I had my cellfone with me, so could use its camera.

Someone rounded up what I assume are the artists who were present at the reception, for a group foto.

Wouldn't you know that my batteries did indeed drain away completely at cWOW once again? And I found that what I thought were spare batteries were instead the exhausted batteries I had removed when I put in new ones. I did not trouble, however, to take the last foto with my cellfone. I figured it was dispensable. On the way home, I drove to The Home Depot, which is just off the direct route from cWOW to my house. (The direct route from my house to cWOW is only five turns, 18th Avenue (south corner of my block of Smith Street) to Springfield Avenue at 11th Street, to Kinney Street, to Halsey Street not quite to Crawford Street, where cWOW lies. Because of one-way streets, the direct route from cWOW to my house is Crawford Street to Clinton Avenue to Spruce Street, which turns into 18th Avenue, which is just behind The Home Depot, so a quick right on Jacob Street took me right into The Home Depot's parking lot.

The opening was reasonably well attended. I was surprised again to see a Newark art reception that drew few black people. Unusual.

Between the last time I looked at the display of batteries at The HD and this time, (a) I priced Energizer AA Ultimate Lithium batteries in multiple places, including the Ivy Hill Radio Shack and Walgreens. The price last December 5th at THD was $2.50 each. Radio Shack oddly — illegally? — did not show a per-unit price, but the clerk and I figured it to be something like $2.90 each. What I thought curious, he did not compute the per-unit price on the store's cash-register terminal. Can that device not be used as a calculator?

This may be my single favorite piece in the show, Renee Simler's Adolescent Heartache. Only from some angles can you espy a version of the "heart" shape (which bears very little resemblance to the anatomical heart), but this is one of those angles.

(AA batteries are said as "double-A" rather than A-A; AAA batteries are called "triple-A" rather than A-A-A. The American Automobile Association is also called "triple-A", but Alcoholics Anonymous is A-A. I find such things interesting.)

On April 3rd, (b) the price at The Home Depot had dropped to $2.25 each. So I bought an 8-pack. $2.25 each still seems to me a very high price for a double-A battery, even an enormously superior battery. Part of my dismay at such a price is, of course, my age. When I was a child, an 8-ounce bottle of Coke or 12-ounce bottle of Pepsi cost 5¢. Really. And you got 2¢ back if you returned the bottle.
In looking for confirmation as to the price of Coke and Pepsi online, I chanced across this interesting tidbit.
In 1898, Caleb Bradham bought the name "Pep Cola" for $100 from a company in Newark, New Jersey that had gone broke. He then changed the name of his new drink from "Brad's Cola to Pepsi-cola, and persuaded a neighbor who was an artist to create the first Pepsi-Cola logo.
I did not manage, however, to establish with certitude how much a Coke or Pepsi cost in 1950. It might have been 5¢, but it was certainly no more than 10¢.

The email invite to the cWOW reception contained this additional information about the new show.
Curated by: Steve Jaskowak

Artists: April Clark, Lisa Conrad, Beth DiCara, Frank Giorgini, Joann Hughes, Luke Iannuzzi, Steve Jaskowak, Danielle Kotopoulis, Nancy Lucas-Miller, Renee Simler, Michelle Stoute, Lisa G. Westheimer, Zachary Wilson[.]
Absent from the information in the email and the labels by each work was where the artists are from. I hope the great preponderance are from NJ, in that I think NJ galleries should give priority to NJ artists. It is all well and good to value quality without regard to the origin of the artist, but if NJ galleries don't give a little extra boost to NJ artists, who will? Visitors from outside Newark and NJ more generally might want to see Newark and NJ artists hilited when they visit a Newark gallery. By comparison, antiques shoppers would hope to see NJ artisans' work in NJ antique shops.

This is Luke Iannuzzi's Archetype.

I saw a few of the Newark arts crowd at the cWOW reception, but most were involved in conversations, so I didn't intrude. Lowell Craig of the Index Art Center as usual said hi and shook my hand. I asked when Index's next show is to be, and he said June. I'll look for the email announcement of that opening reception.

This is one of Beth DiCara's Fish Heads #1-5. Its teeth look to me more like human than fish teeth.

One artist I hadn't seen in a very long time, Lynn Presley, attended, to see the fish heads by Beth DiCara, who is, I assume, a friend of hers. Lynn asked if Beth were there, but since I did not know her, I couldn't say. Lynn, a member of the women's art collective Catfish Friday, and I chatted momentarily, a very nice change. (I have covered various Catfish Friday shows in this blog, which you can find thru the Search box at top left of this blog, thru the search term "catfish"; mentions and fotos of Lynn's work can be found thru the search term "Presley". I don't think I have ever discussed Elvis here, tho he was an enormously important figure to my generation.)

One person I had expected to see who was not present, was Patricia Huizinga, Acting Director of cWOW (last I knew). When I checked my email going back some weeks, I found this info:
City Without Walls Welcomes New Executive Director!
Ebony T. Simpson

Ebony brings a vitality and enthusiasm to cWOW that has been a trademark of our organization for its 38 years. She is a proud daughter of Newark, a graduate of Arts High and alum of Kean University. Ebony is an outstanding member of this community. With a history in development for arts institutions such as NJPAC and the Newark Museum, Ebony possesses a combination of skills and talents that are critical to cWOW’s growth. Working in conjunction with our talented Gallery and Program Manager, Jackie Cruz and Administrative Director, Stephen Sennott, Ebony will boldly lead us into the future. We are thrilled to have her join us as we embark on our journey to write the next chapter of City Without Walls.
I thought of what Ben Goldman, a former Executive Director of cWOW, mentioned to me once, years ago. He said that there used to be much more mainstream arts coverage in newspapers in this area, such that a cWOW opening might attract reporters and even fotografers from The Star-Ledger and indeed New York Times, but 'now' (that is, then, a few years ago) my fotoblog was about the only extensive coverage they could expect. This is part of the disappearance of traditional newspapers. Even tho publishing fotos online is massively less expensive than printing hardcopy fotos, the costs of sending out fotografers to local art shows are apparently regarded by newspaper managements as burdensome. But if you cover less, you get fewer readers, so enter an ever-downward spiral.

I apparently forgot to take a picture of the label describing this piece, but I think it represents sea urchins.

During the past several months of extremely subnormally cold weather, not even I covered art-show openings. I don't know if I missed any at cWOW, but I know I definitely missed at least one in Rebecca Jampol's art empire at Solo(s) Project House on Lower Broad Street and in Gateway Center. I am most definitely not venturing into Manhattan to Rebecca's third venue. I spent 35 years in Manhattan. That's enuf.
I haven't been into Manhattan in years, since the NYC Traffic Department hijacked my car on a phony parking ticket, charged me $185 to retrieve my car from an impound lot for parking in a legal spot, and tried to charge me an additional $115 for illegal parking. Immediately after I ransomed my car, I took a lot of fotos and a witness statement from a friend who happened to accompany me that nite, and the Traffic Department relented on the further $115, but they NEVER returned my STOLEN $185. So I have never returned to Manhattan since then. Good move, Bloomberg. Have your crooked Traffic-Department thieves drive out-of-towners out of town permanently! I hope De Blasio will instead drive out all the crooks from NYC's Traffic Department.
I lived in Manhattan (and, for a few weeks each, in the Bronx and Queens) from June 1965 to June 2000, but haven't gone into Manhattan even by PATH train for some two or three years. And I don't much miss it. Newark needs places for gay men to congregate, but that's about all that I miss about Manhattan.
It is truly astonishing how extreme the difference is between the sanity and normality of Newark and everything else west of the Hudson, and the astounding noise and crush and press of New York City once you emerge from a tunnel or bridge into Manhattan. It's almost like a whole other world, stunningly different from everything sane.

This sculpture, which seems to me like some sea creature from science fiction, is Pod #15 by Danielle Kotopoulis.

One of my favorite Newark artists, Lisa Conrad, had six pieces in this show, Disappearing Views 1-6. These would seem to be something like what I have thought of creating in the way of a foto album in my Picasa Online space, of views of "Lost Newark", things that have been demolished in Newark's 'progress' into the 21st Century. Here, we see the vertical sign outside the Newark Paramount theater on Market Street east of Broad. The Paramount building still stands, but for how much longer, absent redevelopment into housing or offices?

I don't recognize this next view, and wanted to ask Lisa, who was present at the reception. But she was talking to someone, and I did not interrupt. Later on, she passed nearby but seemed not to see me, unless she was annoyed with me for reasons I do not know, so deliberately snubbed me. You might never know when something you say or write — or are said to have said — irritates someone, and I can't worry about such things.

I am becoming one of those stereotypical "grumpy old men" who sound off on things that irritate the heck out of us and don't care how people react. I recently came up, if only semi-seriously, with the thought that each of us is born with only so much patience (as science suggests that we are born to have only so many cell divisions per cell of any kind), and when that preordained supply of patience is exhausted, we become easily infuriated.

I very much liked Zachary Wilson's Raku Turtle 3.

This may explain, to people who find this blog a tad puzzling, why I mix pix and commentary both directly on point regarding Newark sights, and topics far afield, such as state politics, (fraudulent/delusional) "man-made global warming", observations on life from the perspective of someone approaching 70, etc. It's my blog, so I present here things that interest me, of which the immediate topic I'm covering reminds me. If others want to see the fotos, or even hear my perspective on this and that, so much the better. But I write and illustrate this a tad less for readers than for me. I need to read texts and see fotos of things I actually want to see. But, then, all writers write for themselves. I'm hardly unique in that.

I also liked this other piece by Zachary Wilson, Low Tide, despite its subdued tones.

In the process of writing the commentary for this and my other, less-frequent blogs (political and gay — I'm tempted to start another, on spelling reform and associated issues, on which I am now spending a substantial portion of my time — I sometimes get philosophical and introspective, looking backward over nearly 70 years of life, during some 60 of which I looked out upon the universe with interest and, often, the insight of the newcomer, who sees things differently.

The last of the individual artworks I show today is Frank Giorgini's Grackle.

I have always been quite different from most people, and the various ways that I differ, taken together, have given me a distinct perspective and voice. Not everyone who visits this blog cares about those non-Newark-specific observations, and that's fine with me. Newark is worthy of attention on its own, and I give it plenty of attention here.

There were lite refreshments, my friend Jerry's favorite part of these art receptions. He wasn't able to come in from Manhattan to join me because he needed more advance notice than I had to pass along. I had a (plastic) glass of white wine. Art shows are about the only time I drink wine.

I want Newark to be great, not just good. I have no patience with people within the Newark Metropolitan Area who think of Newark as ordinary and unremarkable. And I detest people who demean Newark and charge it with sins that should not be pinned to it. Some such sins are those of a country that has abdicated its responsibilities to do economic and social justice to everyone, or, in the words of the Pledge of Allegiance, provide "liberty and justice for all". Some cynical foreigners might think that all of that rhetoric is cornball nonsense, but we really believe in it. We really do aspire to be, everywhere in this country, the "City on a Hill", in gleaming alabaster.

This counter near the entrance to the gallery held brochures, business cards, and the like by means of which visitors to cWOW might also acquaint themselves with some of the other things on offer in Newark's art world.

Sometimes my reflections turn hyperpersonal, and I move them out of the draft of this blog into my Journal (an electronic diary on my hard drive only, that I guess I could print for my records if I could get my laserprinter working. I've run out of ink for my color printer, and the cost of cartridges is oppressive. I won't stand for it if I can make my b&w laserprinter work right).

I took the last copy on offer that nite, of the Newark Arts Council's "Membership + Gallery Guide" to the left of the candle in this foto.

In any case, with regard to the "Informed by Fire" show at cWOW, I'd have liked to see more artworks, more densely spaced around the gallery's walls and, in the case of 3D works (sculptures), on more pedestals throughout the gallery space.
Here are two more informational paragrafs from the email invitation to the opening reception.
Exhibition dates: April 3, 2014-Saturday May 17, 2014 * * *

City Without Walls is an urban gallery of emerging art that advances the careers of artists while building the audience for contemporary art. City Without Walls is New Jersey's oldest not-for-profit alternative art space, in continuous operation in the City of Newark since 1975.
These are the hours during which you can visit cWOW, free.
Wednesdays - Saturdays Noon-6 p.m. and by appointment.
And this is the location, 6 Crawford Street, Newark NJ 07102.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Daffodils On Time; Cherries, Tho?

Update, April 10th: I have added three fotos from last year's Cherry Blossom Festival within that portion of this post.

This severe winter has apparently caused severe damage to my azaleas, most of which look stunned or even dead. I won't know for at least a week or two if they survived. (My one remaining rhododendron, another evergreen flowering shrub, survived well. The other two or three were killed by summer drouts I did not appreciate were in force until too late; not by winter cold.) The really good news, however, is that my daffodils are blooming on time. And the leaves of my tulips are also coming up. When I ventured into my side and back yards, I found that my crocuses and hyacinths also survived. (Pix to follow.)

I took today's fotos late in the day, and britened them artificially in my graffics program. If they don't look quite right, that's why. I couldn't wait until tomorrow, because the weather is supposed to be gray and rainy all day.

The hyacinths nearby have not yet bloomed, but the leaves may have started up, and the blooms might follow within a few days. I walked to the northern corner of my block (Silver and Smith Streets) to see the state of the weeping cherry and magnolia trees there. They have barely begun to bud. I looked at my fotos from April of the last three years, and the only ones by which I might compare years were taken on April 11th and 14th, so I won't know for a few days if the height of this spring's floral display has or has not been delayed by the severe winter that has finally released its grip upon us.

The Branch Brook Park Cherry Blossom Festival started formally this past Saturday, but my friend Joe from Belleville — the best displays of cherry blossoms in Branch Brook Park are in the Belleville portion of that two-town county park, spanning Newark and Belleville — thinks there are very few blooms out yet. He hasn't yet ventured into the Park, but is judging from his flowering pear, which looks like it is still in winter. I told him there is a real-time webcam at the Cherry Blossom Welcome Center by which we can judge when it's time to head to the Park.
If you have never been to the Cherry Blossom Festival, you should go. The stage shows, pavilions, and vendors are scheduled for Sunday, April 13th. (The following information is from an Essex County email notice.)
Enjoy a family day in the pink park! A packed schedule of events includes cultural demonstrations, children's activities, live music, a crafter's marketplace, food and more. Winners from the “Why My Essex County Park is Important to Me” essay contest for 4th graders and “Cherry Blossom Poster Contest” for 6th graders will be recognized on stage. Other highlights include a performance by the Brick City Jazz Orchestra, comprised [should be "composed"] of 19 teenage musicians; and the New Jersey Hall of Fame Mobile Museum will make its traveling exhibition available to the public. Admission is free; food and merchandise will be for sale. Bloomfest will be as follows:

Date: Sunday, April 13, 2014
Times: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Place: Essex County Branch Brook Park
Cherry Blossom Center
Mill Street
Newark, NJ

Cherry Blossom Guided Tours
Have knowledgeable guides take you on a 45-minute journey and point out 119 years of history hidden within Essex County Branch Brook Park’s structure and design. Tours leave from the Essex County Cherry Blossom Welcome Center on the hour. Transportation around the park is provided. Tickets are $5 [per] person and can be purchased at the Welcome Center on the tour dates. Space is limited and available on a first come, first serve[d] basis. Call 973-239-2495 to inquire about group tour bookings. The Trolley Tours will be held as follows:

Dates and Times: Friday, April 11th from 12 Noon to 3 p.m.
Wednesday, April 16th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Friday, April 18th from 12 Noon to 3 p.m.
Saturday, April 19th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Place: Essex County Branch Brook Park
Cherry Blossom Welcome Center
Mill Street
Newark, NJ

History, driving directions, a complete list of activities and a web cam where the public can monitor the cherry trees for the peak of the bloom season can be accessed by visiting www.essexcountynj.org and clicking on the Cherry Blossom banner at the top of the home page. More information can also be obtained by calling 973-268-3500.

My modest display of spring-flowering bulbs does not, of course, begin to equal the cherry blossoms and spring-flowering bulbs in Branch Brook Park, but it does provide the neighborhood a brite spot, esp. when the hyacinths, tulips, and azaleas all bloom, more than just the daffodils.

There is also a Family Day, "with a variety of events including carnival games, music and other entertainment", on the day before, Saturday the 12th, in the Prudential Concert Grove, which is by the Lions on the Lake.

I'm thinking seriously of looking for a place to park near a subway ("lite rail") station and taking the train rather than trying to 'park' in the Park this year. Tens of thousands of visitors from all over — including Japan, to see the thousands of Japanese cherry trees — fill the Park and almost all its parking spaces on the climactic Sunday. It is a truly festive occasion, filled with individuals and families of all races and ethnicities who mingle happily, and pose their children on the sturdy, often gnarled, multiple trunks of the older trees. Let's hope the display is in top form by Sunday the 13th.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Involuntary Contribution to City(?) Coffers

When I went to my car on Wednesday, March 12th, I found this most unwelcome document.

I didn't understand why I should have been ticketed the prior day, which is ordinarily a street-cleaning day, because there were still high piles of snow all along the street, so the sweeping truck surely did not come by, and the littered condition of the street attested to that. I sometimes hear the truck, but was asleep that Monday at the time it usually comes by.
It turns out that, when I consulted the schedule of violations and fines, that I was ticketed NOT for interfering with street cleaning (25:5-7) but with "Parking Prohibited at Certain Times" (25:5-2). But the only reason parking is prohibited from 8am-12noon on Monday on that side of my street is so street cleaning can be done. It is thus unreasonable to issue tickets when no street cleaning is in fact performed. If merely not moving your car out of that area between 8am and 12noon is a violation, no matter whether street cleaning is done, why didn't the City issue tickets those many Mondays this winter when myriad cars were snowed-in?

Note from the schedule above, that if there had been street cleaning, the fine would have been $50.00, but my ticket was for 'only' $45.00, so perhaps I shouldn't complain too loudly. But I will complain anyway, because the only justification for requiring people to move their cars during those hours is street cleaning. This needs to be addressed.
In any case, I wasn't about to try to challenge it by traveling by bus Downtown in the cold (parking near the court is too difficult for me to even think about driving there), so I just paid the $45, plus a $2 convenience fee (which is less than roundtrip busfare, even for old folks), and had done with it. That's my little contribution to improving the City's finances. At least I hope such fines go to the City, not the County or State.
Note that the Municipal Court can collect fines over the Internet for a $2 processing fee, but the City Water & Sewer Department cannot. Will no one fix this (not the ticket; the refusal of the City to permit us to pay our water bill over the Internet)? Quintana? Baraka? Jeffries?