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Newark USA

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

Friday, April 17, 2015

Mega Poster Party and Current Aljira Shows

Long post, over 4,300 words, with 25 pictures. I actually drafted this post in the middle of the nite of April 20th-21st , and finalized it in the wee hours of April 24th, but I have so many topics to address, from my period of involuntary hibernation, reinforced by repeated returns of cold and dismal-gray weather, that I need several days that I can fill in before I will be able thereafter to go current, day-date. I'm working backwards from most-recent fotos to less-recent.

I trust that Newark Riverfront Revival won't mind me giving it more-prominent mention here by using their graffic, above. But of course if they do, they need merely ask me to remove their graffic from this post and I will of course do so.

On April 13th I received my copy of a mass emailing from the organization Newark Riverfront Revival ("NRR") that opened with the cryptic graffic above. What is a "mega poster"? And what does "Welcome Marcy Party" mean?

This foto shows Aljira as I approached during the poster party. The bulk of the remaining fotos in this post treat of the current art shows in the venue that hosted the Mega Poster Party, Aljira: A Center for Contemporary Art.

The text that followed did not, to my mind, clarify either issue. Here is the bulk of that text. (I learned the answer to the first question at the event, but not the second.)
The day is almost here! Join us and the Friends of the Riverfront tomorrow, Tuesday, April 14th from 6-8pm for Newark Riverfront Revival's release of our Mega Poster at Aljira, A Center for Contemporary Art located at 591 Broad Street, Newark, NJ.

This and the next foto capture the text of the descriptions of the current shows at Aljira as seen from outside, during the poster party.
DJ Gonzalo Silva will provide the sounds and drinks will be sponsored by Gallery Aferro. Our brand spanking new Mega Posters will be on sale for $3 and additional donations are welcomed. Help us reach our goal of putting a poster in every Newark school and connecting every Newarker to their River!
Learn more about Riverfront Park, Newark Riverfront Revival, Friends of the Riverfront and our partners by visiting our website at newarkriverfront.org, and signing up for our email list, following on Twitter, liking on Facebook & talking with your friends & neighbors about our river.
[Foto caption:] The Friends of Riverfront group presented the honorable Mayor of Newark Ras Baraka with one of [our] freshly printed Mega Posters.

You can see here the broadcast equipment inside the pierced pyramid of Derrick Adams' show.
Friends of Riverfront Park, a volunteer group of residents, meets monthly in the Riverbank Park Field House. Our next special meeting will be held on Thursday, April 16th at 6pm at the Rotunda in Newark City Hall and will feature a preview of our Summer 2015 calendar! This year, the group worked to organize riverfront events, raise funds & deal with park issues like maintenance & security.

Special thanks to our generous contributions from our funders and supporters! Special thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Program, Victoria Foundation, EPA Urban Waters, Trust for Public Land, Atlantic Federal Credit Union, Franklin Parker, Freddie Mac, Seidler Chemical Company, the Habitat Estuary Program for support.

Newark riverfront programs are funded by contributions from individuals, private & public organizations. Please consider making a donation today! Click here to donate by credit card or send a check or money order to "Ironbound Community Corporation" & mail to Newark Riverfront Revival c/o Marcy DePina, 920 Broad Street Room 112, Newark, NJ 07102.

Newark Riverfront Revival (NRR) aims to connect every Newarker to their river. Since 2008, NRR has organized for Newark’s riverfront by taking hundreds of people on boat and walking tours, hosting dozens of outreach events, organizing design education programs for youth, and staging a City Hall exhibition. Since 2012, NRR has worked with Essex County, the City of Newark, The Trust for Public Land, Ironbound Community Corporation, and other partners to build and program over 15 acres of riverfront parks, including a walking and biking trail, sports fields and courts, floating boat dock, riverfront boardwalk, playground and other settings for relaxation, picnics, exercise, and environmental education.

This foto may not have captured the key points of this artwork: an arm coming out from a miniature building, and a face seen within it. Now that you know to look, maybe you'll see them.

I rarely get to the Passaic River, in that I live at the opposite end of Newark to the west. I hope, this year, to go on one or both of the boat tours that NRR offers, one of the Passaic River as such and the other of Port Newark. I don't know that I will be up early enuf, however, to take one of the walking tours along the riverfront that NRR conducts, but I like the idea of participating. And I need to walk more.

Bunches of teeshirts with slogans displayed on hangers on hooks on the wall near the front of Aljira. I read every one. But, then, who doesn't read teeshirts when you can?

After all the info offered in the email, I was surprised to see, when I attended the actual event, that nothing was plain as to the posters or "Marcy". Fortunately, Aljira's several art shows were up during the event, so there was plenty to see. After a while, however, I had to ask of someone who seemed to work there, where the mega posters were. She directed me to a table, perhaps 6' wide, at the front of the gallery near the entryway. There were, however, two such tables, one of which had a computer on it, and used by Aljira's management, so I did not detect the second table as dedicated to the "mega poster".

Explanatory introduction to Vikki Michalios's show within Aljira. In the first foto today of Aljira from the outside, hers is the reddish area at far right. Her hydroponic project fits in with a recent commercial project in the Ironbound that uses even less water in a growing environment the name of which I cannot at the moment come up with. Friend of this Blog Frank M. sent me a couple of links to stories about this urban agricultural practice, but I'll have to look to them and see if I can get into that site to show pictures.

Also most unclear is why the poster laid flat on that table is called "mega". There was no space on the wall nor on a partition specially set up to display the poster. For an organization that has accomplished so much in the revival of the Passaic Riverfront, the NRR did an astonishingly bad job with this poster launch.

The colors here are those that visitors would see.

I ran into Byron, a very tall, cordial black acquaintance from the Forest Hill section of the North Ward whom I hadn't seen in a couple of years. I asked when the next Forest Hill Community Association's (homes) tour would be held, and he said not this year. Apparently it is a big project, and hassle, which the Association is just not up to doing every year. Newark history maven Liz Del Tufo serves as the guide to these walking tours, and she is getting on in years, so I mentioned to Byron that the FHCA might not be able to delay such tours very long. I thought she is about 90 years old, but he said she's (only) 80. Still, how much longer will a woman of her years, even tho she appears to be in very good shape, be able to conduct walking tours? (We love you, Liz, and hope you will be with us for many, many more years. But we must wonder if you have trained someone to carry on, with your level of knowledge and articulateness, once you decide you don't care to conduct such tours yourself.)

This flash foto shows details that the casual observer in ordinary lite might not notice.

Byron was carrying one of the folded, multicolored papers that I thought might be a brochure that was on display on the table up front. It had not occurred to me that it was the folded version of the informational side, the back, of the mega poster. I had not appreciated that it was double-sided, because NEITHER side, much less both, was shown on the wall of the gallery nor on a partition near the table at which the posters were on sale. Why the heck not? This astounded me. If you have a map on offer, show it on a wall, where people can examine it closely. If it is two-sided, show BOTH sides where attendees can examine it closely in good lite.

I did not realize until I looked closely at this foto that, for some absolutely incomprehensible reason, NRR rotated the map out of the customary north-south, portrait, orientation to an east-west, landscape orientation. What the HELL were they thinking? Maps should ALWAYS be shown as people expect to read them, with north at the top and east to the right. Why on EARTH would NRR f* with that? I am now very glad I did not buy a copy, because that would infuriate me every time I looked at it. What madness seized control of NRR when they decided to screw with people's expectations of a MAP? This is not an abstract painting, which an artist can present any way s/he likes. It's a frigging MAP. Absent an extremely compelling reason, maps should ALWAYS be presented with north at the top and east to the right. What is WRONG with NRR? My prior admiration for NRR's program is turning to contempt for its idiocy.

The foto above of the poster as displayed on the table may not be clear as to why it is called a "mega" poster: it has a lot of textual information imprinted over the geograffical features. Altho I THINK the poster is two-sided, I'm not entirely sure of that, since a second side was NOT on view.

This last foto of Vikki Michalios's project shows an air pump on the floor at lower left, akin to the air pumps that people who have home aquariums are familiar with. I have two 20-gallon fishtanks that I have withdrawn from use but would like to use again. Part of the problem was that the house was too cold for tropical fish, even with an aquarium water heater turned high. Goldfish don't need a water heater, so I could have kept the goldfish tank in use. My cats LOVE to watch the fish swimming around, and I have placed a platform on which they might rest right alongside the fishtanks they can be near. (I block some rooms from the cats, because cats can be destructive. They can get up onto almost anything, and sometimes mark their territory with pee, and shred things with their claws. Yes, even my beautiful little-girl kitties, Preshas and Trisha (which some people might expect to see as "Precious" and "Tricia") can inflict serious damage on my house.

I also have to challenge NRR's holding two events on two successive days, one at Aljira and the next in the rotunda of City Hall. Space major events out by at least a week! I was not up to attending the City Hall event (launch of NRR's calendar, not their map) the very day after the poster launch, esp. in that it is nearly impossible to find free parking anywhere near City Hall on a weekday. I was not about to spend whatever (outrageous) price that might be charged in lots near City Hall. Nor did I care to leave my car at home and take buses Downtown and back home.

This is the midway area going back within Aljira in which Willie Cole's show was presented.

Worse, the last time (a couple of years ago) that I tried to enter City Hall with a camera, I was stopped by security guards, who said I would have to leave my camera in my vehicle. But I had come by bus. I tried to find a place outside City Hall to hide it, but it was found — and STOLEN. As it turns out, that was almost a good thing, because the General Electric camera with which I replaced it that same day at Radio Shack (in 744 Broad Street) proved to be much superior, except that it requires (two) very powerful AA batteries. The only ones I know for sure work right, and for a reasonable duration, are Energizer's Ultimate Lithium batteries, which cost, apiece, something like $2.25 (at the Newark Home Depot) or $2.50 (at Radio Shack). I don't think I lost any pictures from the memory card in the Olympus that was stolen. That does not mean that I consent to being robbed. How do people justify, to themselves or anyone else (including God, if they believe in God), stealing? I don't know. They need to be beaten. We need to abandon incarceration, which is WORTHLESS in changing behavior, and replace it with physical punishments that HURT criminals and teach them to avoid such pain by ending criminal behavior.

I readily confess, without a trace of shame, that I do not "get" this steam-iron thing of Willie Cole's. There are often things I don't "get" in modern art. Some of it may be intended to make the viewer think, but sometimes the artist is too deep within him/herself, and no one can understand. Does the artist only then retreat to the stance that whatever a viewer derives is meaningful, even valid? Or is that just a scam, and the artist is OFFENDED that people don't "get" what s/he meant them to experience? I don't know. I'm not an artist. But, as a writer, I have written some poetry, tho nothing deeply hidden within my consciousness. I have hoped to share experiences of mine that other people might also experience, and be glad to see that others felt too.

There are at least two serious issues of logic and justice involved in the arbitrary rule about cameras not being permitted in City Hall. First, why the h* not? City Hall is public property — as a taxpayer, I own part of it, as does every other resident who pays Newark City taxes, so why CAN'T we document with fotos what goes on inside it? Second, most cellfones nowadays incorporate cameras, but cellfones are NOT forbidden in City Hall. Why not? If cellfone cameras are permitted, why not dedicated digital cameras? If Mayor Baraka has not already ended the ban on cameras as such, he needs to do so now.

Pros and Cons of Taking the Bus. I actually like the bus very much. Not only does it give me, a man who lives alone, immersion in the communal life of the city, but it also permits me to ignore traffic and just look out the window or at other passengers, while sitting in a well-padded seat, and relax. I experience no worries about whether there is a car coming around a corner, headed for me, due to right-on-red, which could cause me problems if my view is obstructed. My car is sporty, and very low. Almost any car, and certainly the myriad trucks (SUV's) that fill streets today, can block my view of traffic. At nite, headlites of both oncoming and following traffic are constantly in my eyes. I don't understand why automobile designers create such low-slung vehicles, and often charge a premium for vehicles that can be hard to get in and out of AND have problems with obstructed views and headlite glare. I inherited my car from my late mother, but would not have chosen it if I had been in the market for a car and thought to take a test drive at nite, whereupon I would have discovered how great a problem headlite glare would be. Think about that if you are considering a sporty, low-slung car. Be it an inexpensive model or something enormously pricy — I recently saw a very jazzy Camaro in the East Orange ShopRite parking lot that was as low-slung as my Geo Storm — such low cars can be very unpleasant to drive at nite, and very dangerous even during the day because everything is taller and blocks part of the view.

At the back of the gallery was this splendid display of painted sticks.

A bus driver is high enuf that s/he can see any danger and avoid it in plenty of time. (NJTransit has a great many female bus drivers.) The drivers on both of the two bus lines reasonably near my house, NJTransit's No. 1 (yes, the very first-numbered line in the entire statewide network; perhaps it's silly, but I'm really proud that the No. ONE bus passes the southern end of my block; and Coach USA's No. 31) are excellent, and the buses make very good time. If I didn't have a car, I would be grateful for how efficient and frequent the buses are, and how well driven. But I am impatient, even at age 70, and don't like to wait for much of anything. I am so hard-pressed to get my work done withOUT waiting for a bus — and have always at the back of my mind that I don't know how much time I have LEFT to do my work — that it is hard even to contemplate waiting for TWO buses, one out and one back. And I ordinarily cannot stop to do other things along the way back, as I can when I drive my own car. Even if I could stop at, say, the Bergen Street Pathmark, which lies on the route home, I couldn't pick up many groceries because of the weight and bulk I'd have to haul up the steps of the bus and find room for by a seat.

Moreover, waiting for the bus is wasted time, and can amount to a considerable amount of time if I just miss a bus, so have to wait for the next. My stop for the No. 1 bus going Downtown (and in some cases on all the way to Jersey City) is only a few stops in from the beginning of the line, but you can't count on a bus's leaving on time, and not a minute too soon, nor making its usual time, because earlier stops entailed no pickups. So you can miss a bus that should pass at, say, 11:05am, but actually zips by at 11:03, while you're rushing to the bus stop.
Still, frequent public transportation to many locations, on one route or two connecting routes, is a very important amenity that we who live in Newark need to appreciate.
Pix at Aljira Event. After making a circuit of the gallery, I got some white wine from the beverage table toward the back of Aljira, and the appealing (young, male, dark-blond) server did not stint with those little half-glasses (or, as I might say, half "plasses", for "plastic ‛glasses’") that some galleries dole out at these events. There was no food on offer, so it's just as well that my friend Jerry was not available to come in from Manhattan. He likes the food at such events but avoids alcohol. My fake teeth are for cosmetic purposes only (and serve only poorly now, in that several of my actual teeth have snapped off since that partial plate was created, so there are visual gaps anyway), so I can't eat at these receptions. Between Jerry and me, however, we can get a good sense of the refreshments to tell you about. The wine at the Aljira event (supplied by the Gallery Aferro arts empire) was better (less sour) than many white wines at such events.

I generally don't have anything to drink at art-show openings until I have taken the bulk of the pictures I have scouted out to take, since I don't want to have to put my drink down if I see something I had not anticipated fotograffing.

Tho this foto may look as tho it's fuzzy, that is an illusion. What actually happened is that I took this picture with flash on, and the shadow on the far wall appears as tho a fuzzy edge to the objects closer in.

You can check Aljira's website for the closing date of each of the shows now on view. I found all of them worth seeing. You might too.

This weird eye in a pyramid may seem vaguely familiar, tho screwy. See below for what it relates back to.

I do not see on the website any information about admission fees. The charge used to be $3 per person, but perhaps admission is now free. If that is the case, (a) Aljira's website should state that explicitly and (b) Bank of America's "Museums on Us" program, which offers free admission to institutions including Aljira, offers NO advantage to visitors.

I'd like to interview Victor Davson, principal of Aljira, about his long involvement with Newark arts and where he sees the city — and not just Newark arts — headed in the near, medium, and long-term. That's one of many topics I would like to address in future posts to this blog. Indeed, I think I might like to establish a Newark audio podcast, but there may be too much to learn and do for that to happen anytime soon. Of course, if anyone among the visitors to this blog knows everything about podcasts and would like to help establish a "Newark USA" podcast, I'd be glad to hear from him or her (via email to resurgencecity @ aol.com [less spaces, of course].

Closer view of the actual U.S. currency eye in a pyramid.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Last, First

Flash foto of planter with spring flowers in Military Park, Downtown.

I do not intend this post to be a sociopolitical or economic lecture about "last hired, first fired" or Jesus's injunction, "So the last will be first, and the first will be last." Rather, I am just trying to cope with some 283 fotoes I have taken since April 5th. I doubt there are many people out there who have to deal with so many fotos in so short a space of time. I have seen old movie footage in which professional fotografers shoot dozens and dozens of fotos in a few minutes with auto-advance mechanisms on their camera, and have seen contact prints from the many negatives that such fotografers shot. But it never made any sense to me to take a foto 1 second after another essentially identical foto. Rather, when I take more than one foto, framed in exactly the same way, I make a meaningful distinction, mainly between a picture taken with flash or without. I thus generally ask people of whom I want to make a permanent portrait, to pose for two pix, one with and one without flash. My Portraits album on Picasa shows the results. No one has ever refused to have two pictures taken rather than one.

Downtown skyscrapers seen past Gutzon Borglum's "Wars of America". The statue is apparently floodlit only on its west side.

It occurs to me that I create part of the problem myself, in wanting to show too much. If I have 127 pictures, I want to show all 127. If I have 10 terrific pictures, I want to show all 10, or at least the best 5. But which 5? The solution I have come up with is to create albums with many more pictures than I use in this blog, and I am going to do that with tonite's pix from Aljira, in an online Picasa album devoted to Aljira. I actually don't like to fragmént things like this, in part because it's hard for me to remember what institutions have their own albums. There are so many topic areas into which I could scatter fotos that I can become confused. Visitors to my Picasa albums might like to view only one subject area at a time, but that's not the way my mind works. I like to see things united in time, or theme, or in some greater way, rather than separated into their own realms. That's me, but maybe not you. Yes, I can collate things from different origins into my own groups, but if I institute things, I want them to be to my ordering. And I want them to fit together seamlessly.
I have an immense backlog of fotos from April 5th, when I took 127 pix, in my yards and Downtown, after several days of good weather dragged me out of my winter doldrums. But the return immediately thereafter of a number of very cold and dismally gray days threw me for a loop again, and I was unable to finalize texts with appropriate fotos.
Oh, I started to write narratives into which to incorporate fotos. But I couldn't decide how many topics to cover in a given blogpost, nor how many fotos to use. I thought at first to show sample fotos of all of the various subjects I fotograffed that day, but that became unmanageable in a hurry.

Some of these nitetime pix expose the limits of my camera, with fuzziness around streetlites and bizarre orangy colors in the sky and tall buildings, from lite leaks from streetlites just outside the core subjects. The actual scene is much more normal as regards colors, and crisp as regards the edges of the skyscrapers. This is a safe area, so if you want to see what it really looks like, how architecturally distinguished and visually agreeable, visit Military Park early some nite.

What happened to me might be covered by the expression, "an embarrassment of riches". In my cold-weather-induced, psychologically reduced capacity, I became immobilized, incapable of choosing which foto to use with which paragraf, concerning which topic.

This is actually an older picture, from last September, of the flags flying atop 744 Broad Street (left) and 1180 Raymond Boulevard.

I made tentative decisions, such as divvying up topics and fotos, such that, for instance, I would discuss in one post only the seasonal change of plantings in Military Park; and in another, only spring flowers in my yards. That made good sense, but I still had to decide what topic to assign to what date, since I was unable to stay current, day-date.
I also drafted language about the dynamics of Seasonal Affective Disorder and cold-induced emotional and physical hibernation, which I thought might be helpful to other people who knew only that winter brought them DOWN, not why that happened nor what to do about it. In that I wanted to be maximally helpful, I hoped to get such discussions online as soon as possible. Ironically, however, I couldn't do that because I was physically, psychologically, and emotionally too depressed! (Is there a difference between psychologically and emotionally? Maybe. Maybe not. There definitely is a distinction between physical depression and emotional or psychological depression. Physical depression might respond to stimulants, such as caffein(e). And if such depression proceeds from being cold, perhaps making myself unusually warm would perk me up.

"Wars of America", Gutzon Borglum's largest statue in bronze, in Military Park.

I drafted hundreds of words of text, with what seemed to me appropriate places to insert specific fotos, but I just couldn't finalize ANYthing. As I expressed it in one draft passage, there wasn't caffeine enuf in the WORLD to rev me up.
In any case, I was able to persuade myself to take more pix, of spring flowers in my yards only, a week after the Sunday on which I took 127 fotos, Downtown but, again, I couldn't persuade myself to put up posts with any of those pix, because hideously dismal gray days ensued immediately thereafter. I am certain that this has a lot to do with my being 70 years old. I had never been 70 before, so did not know how age could ravage activity.
I have upped my intake of the nutritional supplement gingko (biloba; the "biloba" part is superfluous, because both the tree and the supplement have the same two-word name). That has helped a little, but I haven't pursued that course long enuf to know if it will solve the problem of my mental fog and lack of stick-to-it-iveness. My paternal grandmother lived to 96, but lost her mind by about five years before her demise. I'm not certain that senile dementia / Alzheimer's "disease" is heritable, but I dread the thought of becoming a vegetable. I am very sure I am not the only person out there who wonders if his or her mental life is ending. This is the kind of thing we should discuss, not suppress. (I do not care to use the term "disease" except for health problems caused by a microbe that are transmissible from person to person. Alzheimer's is not, to my mind, a "disease", but a "malady" or some such other term. Nor is cancer a "disease" but a dysfunction suffered by some people, in whom it arises spontaneously. Not everything bad that happens is a "disease", nor "epidemic", and I esp. do not ever use such terms for things like crime.

Today, I decided to put up a number of the LAST, most recent fotos I have taken. I attended the [Passaic] Riverfront Revival's Mega Poster Debut party at Aljira: A Center for Contemporary Art, on Broad Street a couple of hundred feet south of Central Avenue. I had trouble finding a parking place near Aljira, even around 7:30pm on a Tuesday. Why is so much of Newark off-limits to parking?
Mayor Baraka, please do a comprehensive, street-by-street, block-by-block — indeed, curb-foot-by-curb-foot — survey of parking restrictions thruout Newark to determine if there is any defensible reason why so MUCH of the city is unavailable to motorists who would gladly spend a lot more time, and money, in Newark than in fact they do, if there weren't CRAZY restrictions on parking. All those cross-hatched places along the streets, all those "NO PARKING ANY TIME" signs, need to be evaluated for reasonability, and if there is no conceivable justification, all such parking restrictions should be ended.
Why, for instance, are there extended areas of the west side of Broad Street between Central Avenue and New Street — a block that is lined mainly by empty structures (the Hahne's and Griffith Buildings) — barred to parking? Why, indeed, on EARTH should anything like 70 feet of Broad Street in that block be barred to parking? The economic and cultural life of this city is choking on needless (idiotic?) restrictions on parking. (We get here, again, to why it is so difficult for me to finalize blogposts, because I do not simply show some fotos and tell what they are and represent, but express my deeply-felt opinions of how this city needs to change to improve.)

The historic Old Essex County Courthouse, by "starchitect" Cass Gilbert.

Let teams of disinterested (impartial) and incorruptible (we must never forget New Jersey's despicable history of governmental corruption) evaluators, paid and volunteers, canvass every curbside FOOT of Newark's many streets to reveal all restrictions on parking and evaluate whether there is any defensible reason people should not park there. Let some systems department generate an evaluation form that permits specification of every single location in the city to determine whether there is a valid reason for so much as one curb foot to be marked out as a "NO PARKING ANY TIME" zone or by yellow cross-hatching, and offer the investigators checkoff boxes such as "Defensible emergency access" or "No discernible justification". Take in those forms, and generate new patterns for parking. There are, for example, immense portions of Washington Street between Market Street and Broad Street cross-hatched for no discernible reason. Remove the cross-hatching and let people park to bring business to Newark companies.
The sizable area around the NuPru construction site has temporarily eliminated between scores and hundreds of parking spaces. That's understandable, but temporary. Once construction is completed, all reasonable portions of the curb must be restored to use as parking spots.

Gutzon Borglum's "Seated Lincoln" in front of the Old Essex County Courthouse.

A powerfully persuasive and defensible reason must be advanced to continue a refusal to permit ordinary motorists to park on Newark's publicly owned streets. Suburban businesses offer virtually unlimited free parking, and thus divert enormous amounts of business from Newark, where people might work and want to live, to the suburbs instead. Please, Mr. Mayor, bring some of that business back to Newark, by making it easy for people to park.
In any case, today's pictures show things I fotograffed after I left Aljira. As I walked thru our exquisitely restored Military Park, I thought again and again that Downtown Newark is somewhere between beautiful and gorgeous, day and nite. I was able to rest my camera on various of the tables that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in Military Park, while I sat on an adjoining chair to take some pictures when I didn't have a tripod with me.

After I left Military Park, I drove to the Historic Essex County Courthouse, because on my way to Aljira I had seen that some of the magnolias in front of and flanking that magnificent Cass Gilbert building had come into flower. Not all, mind you, but many. Those near the wonderful bronze sculpture "Seated Lincoln" by Gutzon Borglum had not yet burst into bloom.
The building itself seems almost to bloom before you in its glorious floodliting.

I shall have to get to this site in brite sunshine within the next few days. At nite, we discern only very lite or dark shades. In daylite, we can see the pink of magnolia petals. In earlier years I have pointed out the curious juxtaposition of the Lincoln statue with a flowering plant associated with the South, which Lincoln had to hold to the Union thru brutal, military force. But the Union did hold, and, thus, magnolias around a magnificent statue of Lincoln should put everything to rest, shouldn't it?

I don't presently know whether I will work backwards chronologically thru the hundreds of fotos I have taken earlier this month. I am certain I will take more pictures on beautiful days. Will I return to a very high level of activity? We'll see, won't we? Even if I do not, there are all those 2,145 posts in the clickable archives in the right panel of this blog for visitors to check out. So there really should not be as much pressure on me to update this blog as I feel. People who care deeply about Newark have all those earlier posts to read. By far most also show fotos of the New Newark, most in glorious daylite, but many in glorious niet liet. It is no accident that so many of the fotos I show are of Newark at nite. If you hadn't appreciated the reason, let me state it simply now: Newark is NOT a death trap after dark. Rather, most of the city is SAFE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. Let me correct that last mention: every four years, Downtown Newark is safe for 366 days.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Finally on EveryoneOn

This post discusses problems I encountered in establishing wifi Internet service thru EveryoneOn.org, and how I resolved them, in the hope that if other people encounter the same problems, they might find a fix thru my experience.

On February 18th, I reported here that I had signed up for $10/month wifi thru the universal-access nonprofit program EveryoneOn.org, and that I would be able to use a wifi hotspot device I already owned, purchased in connection with a NetZero service account, and thus not have to spend anywhere from $49 to over $60 for a new device. Unfortunately, altho Mobile Beacon, the company that actually offers that service, told me that it had redirected that device to Mobile Beacon, that did not work. I could not get any answers from EveryoneOn itself, and I was charged an additional month's service fee ($10) when I couldn't find a way to find out from EveryoneOn what the problem was.
Last Wednesday, April 1st, I received an email notice from EveryoneOn about customer support options, and called that number. Again, no one within EveryoneOn could be reached, but this time, when I chose the option for support from Mobile Beacon, the helpful woman I spoke with reviewed anew the information I had given her, and we found out that I had read a tiny "B" on a label on my NetZero Hotspot as an "8". She caut the discrepancy and asked if I were sure it was a B, because it was recorded as an 8. I put on my reading glasses, and used a magnifying glass. Sure enuf, it was a B, not 8. She was gracious, as tho it could conceivably be their mistake, but I said I was plainly responsible, because she could not have heard me say "B" but written "8".
Armed with that new info, she spoke with their tech support while I waited on hold, then came back to tell me that the NetZero Hotspot can be used only with NetZero, not redirected to Mobile Beacon, because of technical issues. (NetZero's customer support had also told me that, but when the erroneous info I provided seemed to go thru, I thought NetZero was mistaken.) So to use Mobile Beacon thru EveryoneOn, I would have to purchase a separate device. I chose one that could serve up to 10 wifi connections (laptop, tablet, fone — whatever), for $39 plus $10 shipping. Once I had made payment, she said, it would take 3-5 business days for the device to arrive. That was fine with me, esp. in that I had let things slide for over a month. She also canceled the payments I had already made for service I couldn't use (due to my dopy error), and applied those amounts to my service from here on out. How very decent of Mobile Beacon/EveryoneOn.
Billing is handled thru PayPal, which sent me an email that linked to that invoice. It turns out that Mobile Beacon is a project of the North American Catholic Educational Programming Foundation Inc., which helps explain why it can operate so inexpensively. I paid the invoice, and on Friday, two days later (not 3-5 business days later) the device (a "Clear Hub Express"), arrived.
There were several hundred words of instructions, in tiny white type on a brite-green background. Unfortunately, the directions did not exactly accord with what I saw in my Windows Vista operating system, and I tried to set up a new connection rather than take a simpler route. The new-connection dialog didn't work, but when I tried the other way, one option farther up the screen, it worked perfectly.
The device then worked fine for hours that first nite, but the next day, Saturday, it kept disconnecting from the Internet, and the Network and Sharing Center kept reporting that I was connected, but access was local only (I later found out, from Mobile Beacon's tech support, that that meant access to an intranet linking two or more devices within my home as an intranet, which I don't have). Now and then, however, I would have both Local Access and Internet. The device would periodically connect to the Internet but not stay connected. The signal-strength indicator showed only 2 or 3 of a possible 5 lites. It seemed that when there were three lites, I had Internet, but when it dropped to 2, I lost the Internet.
I called Mobile Beacon tech support, and what sounded like a young man, named "Dallas", troubleshot things with me (and yes, "troubleshot" is the proper past of "troubleshoot"). He asked where, relative to a window, the device was located, and how far my laptop was from the hub. He confirmed my home address, then checked for the location of their closest towers, and said that one is due south and another is somewhat west of my house, both within appropriate range. The structure of my building (house), plasterboard walls and cedar shakes for siding (tho I realized after I hung up that it is probably plaster and lathe, within cedar shakes, since this is an old house, built in 1930), should not cause a problem, and the signal from their tower should pass thru easily. All he could suggest is that I move the device to different locations, as near a south-facing and/or west-facing window, and see if that solves the problem,
I then took the hub into my guestroom, across a hall from my bedroom, where it had been. I moved things out of the way of the south-facing window, and got 3 signal-strength lites. Then I moved it to near a west-facing window, and also got 3 lites. It seemed to me that the lites were more reliably 3 rather than 2 near the west-facing window, so I left it there. My only concern then was if its signal to my computer would span the 30 feet or so between them. It did. And I have had reliable Internet service ever since.

The foto above shows a comparison of my new, Mobile Beacon, device, on the left (about 6" by 9" in size) which can handle 10 connections), and my old NetZero hotspot, on the right (about 2½" by 2½", which can handle 8). They are both from the manufacturer Clear. The little one was seriously adversely affected by the cold during the monstrous winter just past. I had had it near the floor, which was too cold, and that caused problems that warming it up did not always fix. It had been completely unusable for a day or so before the new hub arrived, just in time. But I apparently used up all the bandwidth available thru that device anyway, so it didn't matter. I think the reporting of bandwidth by NetZero is sometimes mistaken — or, I'd hate to believe, dishonest — because when I purchased additional bandwidth, I got two different emails saying first that the additional bandwidth would be available until April 6th and then that it would be available til April 15th. By April 6th, however, it was all gone.
Despite the extremely-misleading word "Zero" in the name "NetZero", NetZero service is NOT cheap, and certainly not free except for a tiny bandwidth allowance in a plan that would be of pretty much no value except for checking email. If that. So I am glad to be done with NetZero, which was costing me $49.95 or even more per month, as against $10/month thru EveryoneOn. In that I live on ungenerous Social Security, this is a very meaningful difference to me.
I want to thank Mayor Baraka's administration for partnering with the splendid project EveryoneOn/JerseyOn, so that Newarkers of modest means can get $10/month Internet. People who want more high-speed bandwidth can splurge and get a $20/month plan. Newarkers of limited income who have children in school can even get free wifi access to the Internet. This is exactly the kind of thing that will make Newark a better-educated, more competitive, fairer, and kinder city. This is what can happen when you elect an educator as mayor. Kudos!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Map of NJ Hotels Near Manhattan

A gentleman named Jeff Howard alerted me several weeks ago to a website that provides a schematic map of public transportation by means of which tourists or businesspeople who travel to Manhattan but don't want to pay Manhattan hotel rates can find their way into NYC from much less expensive hotels in New Jersey (mainly; but also in Connecticut). The graffic above is a screenprint of most of the NJ portion of the map. I couldn't fit the whole thing onscreen even at the highest resolution my monitor will display. I found, on right-clicking on the map, that the website has not disabled the options to Copy or Save the image. Depending on the purpose the creator of the map wants it to serve, such options may continue to be permitted. Or perhaps when the creator of the map sees this mention, he will disable download.
The map is more diagrammatic than geograffic, and contains an awful lot of information that might not at first sight be obvious. Here is a zoomed view of part of the top of the map that provides a summary of the time required by the various routes marked on the overall map. There are thin gray lines from the minutes boxes at the top down thru the map to the minutes boxes at the bottom, in the fashion of isobars to indicate atmosferic pressure on weather maps.

This second zoomed view, from the bottom of the portion of the map that fit(ted) on my screen, shows the color-coded legend for room rates of hotels in the various localities. That legend also appears on the Connecticut map, which is part of the same graffic image.

In addition to the map, there are subpages to the website that provide more detailed information. One is "Best New Jersey Hotels Near Manhattan", which speaks, in its first paragraf, to the Robert Treat Best Western Hotel thus:
Best NJ Hotel for Using the PATH Train to Access Manhattan

The Best Western near the Newark PATH station has an average nightly rate of about $105. This hotel sits one block from [the] NJ[] performing arts center in downtown Newark across from Military Park. Travelers commuting to [the] World Trade Center can take the red line direct[;] travelers commuting to [Midtown] Manhattan will need to transfer to the orange or blue PATH lines at Journal Square. The Best Western Plus is ... not only the cheapest hotel near the PATH[, but] it also will pick up guests at ... Newark Airport, [and] offers free parking, free breakfast and free wifi. For value[-]minded travelers this is clearly the hotel to investigate first.
This passage from the bottom of that page, explains why the PATH, which leaves from Newark Penn Station, some five blocks away, makes the Robert Treat such a good choice.
The PATH rapid transit system is the most reliable, and cheapest method to access NYC from a[n] NJ hotel. The PATH has the most friendly hours of operation and can take travelers toward Times Square or [the] World Trade Center.
I think the map needs an explanatory-notes section, such as "How to Use This Map", as to specify the kinds of information it contains and how to read such info. Likewise, there is a Google Maps regional map with specific hotels indicated by a dot in a balloon. People who have not searched for particular businesses in Google Maps may not know how to negotiate around such a map, so that also needs to be explained. If you click on any of those balloons, more information comes up. But some balloons block others, depending on the magnification of the map, which you can adjust as with other Google Maps, by zooming in or out.
All in all, I'd say this is a very worthy resource for tourists and business travelers, but would be much more useful if a "How to Use This Map" section appeared at both the main map and the Google regional map. Unfortunately, the website contains no information about what there is to see and do nearby if someone chooses to stay in any of the NJ hotels listed. As regards Newark in particular, there is one reference to NJPAC and Military Park, but no mention of anything else in Newark, such as the Newark Museum, Prudential Center, Branch Brook Park, or Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. If the creator of the map would like to address that, he can add a subpage to the website such as "Places to See Near Your NJ Hotel", with links to, for instance, the Greater Newark Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Newark Pulse website.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Away with the Cross

(Holy) Ghost cross on Hazelwood Avenue frontage of North Star Academy. While I'm at this slitely corny caption that plays with the terms "Holy Ghost" (now more commonly "Holy Spirit", but in my childhood almost always "Holy Ghost") and "ghost" meaning faint outline, let me 'confess' — I did it again! — to a rhetorical stretch in the title of this post, in which I intended people to think "Way of the Cross", that is, the Stations of the Cross in Christian, but esp. Catholic, parlance. That brings us to another idiom, "too cute by half". Sorry. (Not really. As we used to say of a strained effort by a punster, "You should be PUNished by being sent to the PUNitentiary." Yes we did.

The Hazelwood Avenue façade of what started as the Sacred Heart elementary school associated with what is probably the most famous landmark in the westernmost part of Newark, Sacred Heart of Vailsburg Roman Catholic Church ("SHV"), was bought by the North Star Academy group of charter schools. There was a problem, however, a giant stone cross embossed on a stone panel two stories tall. Charter schools are (supposed to be) public schools, neutral as to religion. The cross would have to go.
I wondered how they would remove that giant cross, however, since it seemed to be part of the stone wall. And in fact the cross remained in place for perhaps three or even more years. But it's gone now. I don't know if it was chipped off, sawed off, or what, but during exterior renovations over perhaps 18 months, somebody found a way to remove the cross with minimal damage to the underlying structure. You can still see the outline of where that cross used to be, in the first foto today, which I took late on one of our innumerable rotten gray winter days, while walking home from my local auto-repair shop, General Tech (where some appallingly expensive repairs are being made). Curiously, what I'm pretty sure was a uniformly sandy-colored stone portion of the façade now has a much lighter color at the bottom.
I took pictures of that portion of the building years ago, which should show the cross and wall behind as they then appeared, but my indexing has been inadequate for me to find them right away. And in any event I know that I took some of them at nite, so they might not be clear as to those features. In that I am still in the winter blahs / depression / partial-shutdown mode because our weather is still severely subnormally cold, and drearily gray to boot, I'm not up to doing a thoro search for those old fotos.
I hadn't walked past the new addition to the school on the Hazelwood side at all, and took some pix from Fortuna Street only at the corner of Sandford Avenue. Rather, all my pix theretofore had been of the Sandford Avenue façade and down Fortuna Street as seen from Sandford.
There are some very nice features to the addition, but the lite by then was poor and the weather cold, so I decided to put off taking more pix until warmer weather and much briter, and cheerier, lite.
I did take this one foto of crosses still visible over and beyond the school, on the Church building itself, which was, when consecrated in 1930 by Fulton J. Sheen, who later became the TV star(!) Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, the largest parish church in the entire Nation. The Archdiocese has apparently still not found a solvent buyer for that magnificent structure, but at least it did not gut it, as it did Our Lady, Queen of the Angels. The stained-glass windows and other very-Catholic features were removed (including, I believe, the bulk of the statues of saints, the Virgin Mary, etc.), and the building was occupied for some months by a Protestant congregation which has apparently evacuated to other parts, presumably for being unable to maintain such a large religious structure.
I have mentioned here that it seems to me that a bunch of storefront churches in the Vailsburg/East Orange area should join together to share this great structure, whose grand architecture was intended to imbue congregants with feelings of reverence and awe. But the many small and storefront churches that might benefit from getting together to share this great building have not done so.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the geografy of my neighborhood, South Orange Avenue ("SOA", the road to South Orange) is the main drag of all of Vailsburg. But for a number of blocks, the south side of SOA is Newark while the north side is East Orange. I would urge Mayor Baraka and officials in East Orange to consolidate the two municipalities by annexing E.O. to Newark, which would allow various economies AND bump the population of Newark up by some 65,000, which would produce a change in perception of Newark, esp. outside this immediate area, as to replace the notion that Newark is a decrepit, dangerous city in irreversible decline, with a sudden appreciation that Newark has emerged from The Bad Old Days and is now in dynamic resurgence.

I recently took some fotos of a few French-language churches not far from SHV. Might they not usefully share SHV at different hours on different days, and use its capacious spaces as a Haitian / French African community center?
I don't know how soon I'll be able to take fotos of the more striking features of the North Star Academy's addition, given the fact that not only have the bulk of recent days been dismally gray but we are also supposed to have yet more *#@$% SNOW!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Ice-Cream Truck! No Crocuses

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

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

Sunday, March 08, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the setting within which the foto above appeared.

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

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

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

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

Kitty animodule in Barat Foundation show.

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

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

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

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

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

Barat Foundation display, looking out toward Market Street.

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

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

Diverse crowd at Open Doors 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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