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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.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Gigantic Hahne Crane

On Sunday, June 22nd, I ventured Downtown (in Newark, not Manhattan) to take some progress pix of NuPru (the annex to Prudential Financial's World Headquarters) in the new superblock Broad Street at New Street to Halsey Street to Cedar Street and back to Broad (going counterclockwise; West Park Street has apparently been closed permanently). I parked, as usual, at New Street and Halsey, which turned out to be right alongside an enormous crane in use on a Sunday in the construction site at the former Hahne & Co. department store building. (Old-time Newarkers will know that despite the AH in that store's name, the pronunciation of the department store, "Hahne's", is, bizarrely, exactly like "Hanes", the underwear people.)

You can see on this map the Hahne building in brown above the NuPru superblock.

The sky was gorgeous, and hugely prominent, as it often is in Newark but rarely is, for most people of low and moderate income, in Manhattan, from a ground-floor apartment in which I escaped in June 2000. The rich have apartments in the sky, but ordinary people are in the shadows not just of the skyscrapers of the rich, but even of low-rise buildings of humble purpose and rent.

Note the decorative streetlite. The City of Newark has replaced many of its ugly old mercury-vapor streetlites on aluminum stanchions with these classy new lites with elegantly shaped lamps and refined, black supports.

A number of the pictures I use today look very similar. Permit me to point out how they differ.

In this picture, I could not get both the base and the uppermost tip of this very tall crane in a single image. Even if I had backed up, I couldn't have done so, because there would then be a fence in the way of the base. My GE point-and-shoot camera has both optical and digital zoom, but no wide-angle feature. So I could zoom closer to the tip or base, but not include both in a single picture.

I didn't think to take a closeup picture of the bottom of the crane to see if there were outlying legs to stabilize the enormous height and weight of the crane and its various loads, or if the control cab and (caterpillar-tread? tire?) locomotion mechanism were heavy enuf to keep the superstructure from falling over. (Note that "height" and "weight" are exactly parallel in spelling but very different in pronunciation — hiet vs. waet. Yet we still don't demand an end to such madness. Well, I do, but not most people in the English-speaking world, nor even the hundreds of millions of people outside the traditionally English-speaking countries who suffer enormous difficulty in mastering this most useful of all international languages in the history of languages.)

This foto shows what appears to be a tiny payload for all the trouble of sending a hook up to the roof and bringing down this little pallet.

Construction workers were using the crane to move things between the ground and roof, in this case, from the roof to the ground. You might wonder, as have I, why things that would be needed on the ground were ever put on the roof to begin with, but that is not the issue right now.

Here you see the relatively small pallet that the crane was sent up to bring down to the ground. This foto also shows the location of this construction activity in the crossed street signs.

In the foto below, you can see how large the hook that looks so small in other pictures actually is, as compared to a full-grown man. The support for the hook might be 2 or 2½ feet tall. With its hook hanging below, the assemblage is probably on the order of 3½ feet high. Now, look at the other pictures with greater appreciation of how large the crane and its cable-and-hook assembly are.

I don't know if workers were advised as to how much weight was safe to have the crane lift, but I did not hear of any accident involving a tipped-over crane, so assume that everyone knew what could and could not be supported.
Curiously, the next time I was in that vicinity, the crane was no longer there, even tho there are plainly months of work still to be done to reconfigure and renovate the Hahne's building. I'm very glad I got to see the crane when it was there.
I love construction, and if I were a young man, I would probably like to work in some form of construction, be it of frame houses or skyscrapers, which would be a strikingly different kind of activity from the mental, Internet activity that occupies the bulk of my time and energy. But only in warm weather. My father was a carpenter and builder of frame houses at one point in my youth. I recall visiting one of his worksites, which I loved. My (older) brother Alan recounted how he saw my father (who was almost 6'4" tall; I am the usual 5'10" of my generation) drive a nail its entire length (perhaps 3" or even more) into a wooden beam with a single blow of the hammer. This is the kind of thing that the children of working people are proud of — not how much money their father makes, but the kind of work he does and how well he does it.
In The Olden Days (of my youth, the 1950s and 60s), the construction trades in New Jersey were, or at least were represented as being, closed shops for people who had 'connections', sometimes to The Mob. I hope this doesn't shock you, the idea that the state that was the subject of the HBO series The Sopranos might once have been affected by unions infiltrated or influenced by organized crime. Naa! That's all fiction, right?
I will be checking the progress of the reconstruction/renovation of the Hahne's building from time to time, and am (happily) amazed that a building so long vacant (since 1988) is still so structurally sound as to permit renovation. Contrast the Klein's-on-the Square building that had to be torn down to make way for NuPru. I trust that the project managers did extensive testing and evaluation as to the structural strength of that building before they committed the owners to renovating it rather than tearing it down and building new on that site.
Newark is, in U.S. terms, a very old city (1666), third oldest in the Nation, after only NYC and Boston, so it is gratifying that some (re)developers honor our history by respectfully recycling distinguished old buildings. You just want to be very certain that an old building repurposed today won't collapse tomorrow.

Friday, August 29, 2014

House Music at the 'Orange Sticks' — Tonite?

I got a puzzling email from the list server of the Ironbound Super Neighborhood directly and as forwarded by my friend Gaetano, about a house-music event in Riverfront Park in the Ironbound. (I have an atlas that has an inset map of North Jersey that shows only two localities within Newark, the Ironbound on the east and my neighborhood, Vailsburg, on the west.)

This Friday
September 26th
7-9 pm:
Newark's DJ Omar Abdallah Spins House at
the Orange Sticks

Huh? September 26th will indeed be a Friday, but not THIS Friday. THIS Friday is August 29th, which isn't even close to September 26th. So which is it, this Friday, or September 26th? I sent an email to the Newark Riverfront people for clarification but hadn't heard back by the time I was putting this post together in the middle of Thursday nite into Friday.

Screenprint of the Newark Riverfront Revival's map that shows the Orange Sticks at the left. I was unclear as to where Riverfront Park was, and thought it had to be east of the preexisting RiverBANK Park. Not so. As you can see from this map, RiverFRONT Park overlaps RiverBANK Park, but across a roadway, Raymond Boulevard, and RiverFRONT Park is actually at the Passaic River's southern "bank". The webpage that I lifted this map from has a splendid picture of the "Orange Sticks" at the top.

What, exactly, are the Orange Sticks? Here's a foto taken by my friend Gaetano of this interestingly conceived and built cluster of slender tall cylinders raised brilliantly to create a landmark to guide people as to the location of events. For instance, "at the Orange Sticks" or "about 1,000 feet east of the Orange Sticks". Whoever came up with the idea of the Orange Sticks deserves some kind of special praise from a design institute, such as a "Design Oscar", because it really is an astonishing concept. Rather than rely upon some existing landmark — and there are none, nearby, visible from the riverfront — the creators of this new waterfront park invented a landmark, of great prominence due to its distinctive coloration, orange being unusual in both natural and human objects. "Brilliant" in this context surely applies to both the color of the "sticks" — and what a playful name that is — and the idea of creating an artificial landmark where no natural landmark existed.

Foto courtesy of and copyright by Gaetano Lardieri 2014 (All Rights Reserved).

The foto above may not give you a sense of the size of these "sticks", which are more like tree trunks. This next picture clarifies the size, but only to some degree, in that you can't see the tops of the "sticks" to estimate their height. I sure cannot tell from the pix I have seen, so will have to wait until I actually get to that vicinity to judge for myself. I don't, however, own a laser device with which I might get a clear readout of the height of these playfully-named "Sticks", so would have to approximate. Also playful is the anti-formal, seemingly disorderly way the different "sticks" poke up into the sky. None is quite parallel to any other, and they might look, were they not so large, as tho one or more was about to fall down.

Foto courtesy of and copyright by Gaetano Lardieri 2014 (All Rights Reserved).

Tho I'd like to see the crowd at this event, whenever it is to be held, I'm not a fan of music generally, so will not venture some 5 miles one-way and risk not being able to find a free place to park until the Newark Riverfront Revival answers my email as to when exactly this event is to be held.
Gaetano has sent me many fotos from the East Ward, an area I rarely get to. Now, if I could get other people to offer quality pix I could use here of other parts of the city that I rarely get to, such as the South Ward/Weequahic neighborhood and Forest Hill, I'd do a better job of covering areas outside the parts of the city that I am in regularly (from Vailsburg, where I live, to Downtown, and what lies between).

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Newark Mention in Letterman Top 10 List

On the Late Show with David Letterman program for Monday, July 28, 2014, the Top 10 list concerned "Things Said by Costumed Characters in Times Square". It included this item:
4. Can anyone give [The] Hulk a lift to Newark?

That I am only now, August 28th, getting to this a month to the day late, should give you a sense of how backed-up I am with this blog. I am, however, a great believer in the maxim, "Better late than never." Of necessity.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wrong Time

I showed here, on August 9th, a freestanding clock at Military Park, Downtown, whose eastern face had no hands. Today's foto shows the western face, which has both of its expected hands — but displays the wrong time.

The clock, as shown in this picture, indicates that the time is 7:47 — a.m. or p.m. makes no difference with a 12-hour, analog clock, because the sky could be brite blue in either the morning or the evening. As it happens, in that I am rarely out and about early in the morning, the clock should have been showing the time for late afternoon or evening. The time when I actually took the foto was 5:26 p.m., August 17th, 2014.
Now, someone please explain to me why a newly renovated Military Park should have a clock one side of which has no hands whatsoever and the other side of which shows the wrong time. Am I being too demanding in saying that a CLOCK should show the right time?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

For-r-r-man-n-n Mil-lls!

I have lost an enormous amount of weight in the past two years, on the order of 60 pounds (it is my observation that old people tend to get fat or thin, and the thin ones live longer; but I don't know that that has been verified by science). The elastic in my underwear has ceased to contráct properly since I stopped drying things in my dryer. The dryer stopped working when I had to hose down the basement to get rid of a mess created by a sewer backup. My washer eventually recovered, after drying out, but, last I checked, the dryer still shorted out whenever I tried to turn it on. Rid-X brilliantly cleared the basic problem of a backup from the City sewer line. Its effectiveness was almost magical, so I have no hesitation in recommending it for its intended use.

Loose underwear can, for men, be very uncomfortable. I realized that the few exemplars of boxer briefs that I owned have remained comfortable, so put on my shopping list, boxer briefs (well, actually, in that I make all personal notes in my Fanetik spelling system, "bokser breefs"). Then I heard a TV commercial for the store Forman Mills (with the extended shout I tried to convey in the heading to this post) about astonishingly low prices for various types of clothing, so decided to check out their East Orange store, which is just across the street from the parking lot of the East Orange ShopRite, which I patronize regularly. So, after the South Orange Public Library closed on Sunday, August 3rd, I drove to that Forman Mills outlet.
It is a larger store than I thought, and I was very pleasantly surprised by how large the Men's area was. The store reminded me of the (late, dearly lamented) Valley Fair in Irvington. A retrospective about the Valley Fair appears online, which includes mention that the building was originally a tank factory! Is Valley Fair being revived? I see a website that suggests it is, but I am not persuaded that this project has moved beyond the proposal stage.
Ordinarily, you might expect the Women's section of just about any retail store to be much larger than the Men's section, but that seems not to be the case at Forman Mills East Orange. I wanted to buy some informal pants too, since my waist has diminished from 38" or even, at my heaviest, 40", to perhaps 35", but there were so many choices that I just wasn't up to the task. Besides, I wanted Dockers-style pants ("khakis"), which at Forman Mills did not strike me as extraordinarily cheap, but something like $16.99 or $18.99. I decided that I should first do Internet research as to prices at Walmart, Kmart, and Target.

Many of the garments on offer at Forman Mills struck me as grotesque, like rejects from major retailers that the manufacturers had hoped that people (of bad taste) might accept, even if not be enthusiastic about. If I had been in a better mood, and not fatigued (an all-too-common condition for me of late, in that I am sleeping poorly; I recently heard a science report that suggested that some center of the brain responsible for sleep reduces in size and/or influence over time, so lots of old people have trouble sleeping long enuf to be refreshed enuf for their desired activities), I might have had the patience to look for something acceptable, as in the Cargo Pants section. But I was tired and impatient. Some dress pants were offered for as little as $9.99, but there were inconsistencies as to where size labels were located, and how prominently they were displayed, at what size font. My eyes are not what they used to be, so having to struggle with small type in different locations on different styles of clothing labels can be wearing. (No pun intended.)
The store is so large that I did not, despite some 10 minutes of walking around, see what I was looking for. So when I encountered a woman employee tidying up the racks, I asked her where men's underwear was. She directed me to the back of the store, by the heading "Hosiery". Why "Hosiery"? Why not "Men's Underwear? Ah, well. That is where I found what I was looking for, a package of 6 pairs of Fruit of the Loom (my usual brand) boxer briefs at the special price of $9.99 (2 pairs of "Easy Care" boxer briefs being included in the package; I don't know what the difference between "Easy Care" and regular boxer briefs is, and had no patience to take out my reading glasses and look for brite lite, to find out; but I was happy with the price in any case). Happily, there is no sales tax on clothing. So I got my boxer briefs, cheap, $1.66 each.
I am reminded of a silly little incident when I was young and bowling on the ABC Television bowling league in NYC (in that I was working as a clerk-messenger for the ABC News documentary unit that created a Peabody Award-winning series about American history). I met a very nice guy, Allyn Ferguson, and his equally nice girlfriend (whose name I do not recall, despite her prominence in this story). He introduced her as being 'in men's underwear' — which turned out to mean that she worked for (as I recall) the BVD corporation, in the Empire State Building.
BVD was a major, quality brand of (men's) underwear. Tho I haven't seen that brand in a long time, Wikipedia says it still exists. I didn't see any BVD underwear at Forman Mills, however.

The name Allyn Ferguson now appears in the credits for music for the classic, 1980s sitcom Barney Miller. I rather doubt there would be two men associated with ABC Television with the last name "Ferguson" and peculiarly spelled first name "Allyn", so I guess that's the guy. Barney Miller — which mentioned Newark more than once during its run — was set in Manhattan, but was made in L.A. Allyn Ferguson is mentioned in the credits for music, but I guess you don't have to be in L.A. to write music for a show produced there. Even if he moved to California to work on Barney Miller, I don't know if his girlfriend "in men's underwear" moved West with him, as wife or live-in girlfriend. But I wish them both well. Their little "men's underwear" reference tickled me at the time, and ever thereafter.
I rather doubt he would remember me, tho there is the unfortunate possibility that he does, in that the league had a Christmas party in the bowling alley, and New York State's drinking age was 18, whereas that of New Jersey, from which I was commuting at the time, was 21, so I could drink legally in Manhattan, tho I had not drunk before then. I'm that kind of guy. In any case, I tried "7 and 7" a mix of (then) Canadian whisky and 7Up.
The trouble with mixed drinks, of course, is the proportions. The first sip I took, the whisky seemed too strong, so I added 7Up. Then the whisky wasn't strong enuf, so I added whisky. Back and forth this went as I tried to adjust the proportions, from total innocence of what the drink should taste like and what the consequences might be. I threw up on the bowling alley. But Allyn Ferguson may not have seen that, because management was quick with a mop to clean the mess away. For years after, I would stick with beer, whose proportions I did not try to alter.

Forman Mills was open only till 7pm on Sunday, when I went, but is ordinarily open until 9pm. I cannot generally get there if I stay to closing time at the South Orange Public Library (9pm three nites a week), but I often go to the East Orange ShopRite after the library, so might leave an hour early on a day when I can deal with all the choices and the lack of complete clarity as to what size is where on the racks. Now that I have in-home Internet, and am inclined to use library wifi only to handle heavy bandwidth activities such as uploading many fotos, I can ordinarily get to Forman Mills, and other places, earlier than 9pm.
I can always go back to the SOPL parking lot afterward, when the sky is dark, as does not cause problems of reflections in my laptop's monitor, so I can work via wifi on my computer from a picnic table outside the library or the passenger seat of my car until my computer's battery runs down. Even then, I can plug the computer into the car's electrical system and work another hour or so. Then, when the adapter warns that the car's battery is low, I can disconnect the computer from the car and work a while longer on the charge that the computer's battery built up while plugged into the car's battery. Even after that, when the computer's battery drains again, I can turn the car's engine on to power the computer. With these various strategies, I can work for HOURS after the library closes, albeit uncomfortably, from the passenger seat of my car — if I have to, which I hope, with my NetZero service in-home, I won't have to, save for isolated occasions. I can similarly work via wifi from just outside the Vailsburg Branch of the Newark Public Library. So, if I can face all the myriad choices as to men's pants at Forman Mills, I can indeed force myself to get there an hour or more before the store closes.
There are advantages for people of low income to living in a low-income area. I was not the only white person in Forman Mills at the time. It's good to feel camaraderie with people of similar circumstances but different racial origins. I imagine that poor blacks who see me out and about in predominantly black neighborhoods and stores know that I am one of them, not one of "THEM".

Monday, August 25, 2014

Planter, Planted

On December 15, 2014, I showed a picture of a very large, rectangular planter that had been placed on the sidewalk alongside South Orange Avenue in my part of town, Vailsburg, that slobs had filled with trash. Today, I am pleased to show that the City(?) has placed a tree in that planter. There were also, as you can see in this first foto, some low plants around it. I did not initially take close fotos of the tree's leaves to see if I could identify the kind of tree it is. Since that planter is only about 3/4 of a mile from my house, between a Family Dollar store I sometimes shop at and the Chinese takeout I usually order from, I had many opportunities to see what kind of plants the tree and the low greenery around it are. (The low plants turned out to be crabgrass and other weeds.)

Alas, some slobs still use this planter as a trash can. Oddly, someone from South Orange stuck a sign about his or her garage sale in that planter in Newark. I'd like to see the litterers apprehended, arrested, then sentenced to ten hours' cleanup duty all around the city, in orange jumpsuits, for a first offense; 100 hours for a second offense, and 1,000 hours for a third offense — tho it seems unlikely that anyone would risk a third offense. Newark is not as badly marred by litter as Manhattan, but Manhattan has a great many more slobbish pedestrians treading its streets and parks than has Newark. Being a very clean city is an aspiration that Newarkers should be able to achieve easily. All it requires is the will to look for proper trash receptacles and for everyone, but esp. children and teens, to exert strong peer pressure to break the mindset of slobs, that the world exists to clean up after them.

The foto immediately above was taken six days after the first foto today, from the opposite side (west). The garage-sale sign has been removed, but a "moving sale" sign was taped to the planter. I didn't think to walk closer and take a foto to show that clearly, so this foto zoomed-in within my graffics program is very fuzzy.

I did think to zoom in on the leaves and bark of the tree, but was unable to identify it from my own knowledge. Here is a fairly close view of the leaves.

And here's a closeup of the bark. Does any of you know what kind of tree it is?

I assume that whoever planted this tree expects it not to grow too large for the planter. A number of NJ municipalities have, in prior decades, planted trees curbside without thinking about how large they get. Oaks, maples, sycamores, and the like then ended up lifting concrete panels (or, in some neighborhoods, slate), as produced a risk for pedestrians of tripping or, in wet, snowy, and/or icy conditions, slip-and-falling. Some municipalities have, I saw on the incredibly noisy My9 show Chasing New Jersey, taken to forcing homeowners to level lifted panels of sidewalk or face steep fines! That is completely unfair, and must be fought to the defeat of the sh*heads who are punishing homeowners for the fully foreseeable consequences of the town's having planted big trees on small curb strips.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Word Power Foundation Ministry

This is the first "Church Sunday" feature I have run in many months because I have already covered most of the churches I pass by in the ordinary course of my travels in Newark. But when, on June 12th, I emerged from the ArtReach XXII art show at City Without Walls gallery a hundred feet or so away, I spotted this little pink church with some kind of damage covered by plywood, and took a couple of pictures.

I found its website for anyone who wants to check it out. The sign in the foto below gives much of the basic information, except that the fone number on the sign does not accord with the three shown on the website.

I don't know how serious the damage is that is covered over by plywood, nor what resources the church has with which to make repairs. The website is either evasive or careless about mentioning, in its "History" page, what country Reverend Asare came from. I might speculate, in that the church speaks to missionary work in Ghana, that Ghana is that country, but that is only speculation. Some major churches have experienced a surge of piety on the part of Africans that has shaken up and energized those churches in the West, a region sometimes spoken of as "post-Christian".