Last 'Sounds of the City' Outdoor Concert TONITE
Some background information about the SOTC concert series appears at the Rutgers-Newark website and NorthJersey.com. The NJPAC webpage also includes a playlist of songs you can listen to thru Spotify.
There were vendors of various goods on premises, which gave the concert the air of a street fair (but without closing down any street)
Apparently the developers of NJPAC envisioned outdoor events in an elegant mix of red brick (appropriate for "Brick City") and greenery (trees, grass — yup, lawns in Downtown Newark — with flowers and coleuses of many colors in confined beds. It's quite a complex.
Altho there are benches built into the Plaza, many people brought their own lawn chair.
Altho you certainly could as well bring your own food or beverages, you need not, because there were several food vendors nearby.
This Steak-n-Take food truck is britely painted. I don't know if the food is tasty, but the truck is tasteful. (The shadow on the left shows me taking a picture. The shadow on the right is Jerry, waiting for me to finish taking pictures.)
Most food vendors offered entrees, including this Sabrett food cart. Note the generator on the ground in front of it, preparatory to liting up the cart at nitefall.
There were long lines at some food vendors' tables.
This next truck offered dessert, in the form of "World Famous Italian Ices". Hm. "World Famous"? Really? "OP[EN]". Oops. (By the way, "oops" is a perfect example of why we need spelling reform, because the vowel can be said as either short-OO, as in "good", or long-OO, as in "food". There are actually people in education in English-speaking countries who defend the indefensible STUPIDITY of traditional spelling, and thus consign generation after generation of schoolchildren to the ordeal of mastering that hodgepodge of mutually-contradicting patterns. Tens of millions never do master it, but remain almost illiterate their entire lives, not because they are too stupid to learn inconsistent spellings but because they are too smart to put up with spelling madness. You should always know how to pronounce any word by its spelling. You can in Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, and other major languages. Why not in English? Does English glory in being inferior to those other international languages? You'd think we would prefer to be better than other languages, wouldn't you?)
Some people were so bold/foolish as to get up close to the stage and, alas, the array of loudspeakers that made my clothing shake as I passed. If the blast of sound could make my clothes bounce, what could it do to my ears (and everybody else's ears)? We need local government to ban excessively loud noise from loudspeakers in concerts, outdoors and in, because the typical person has no idea (a) how loud the noise they are subjected to is and (b) whether that sound level is hazardous to hearing.
In case you didn't spot the loudspeakers, this is a zoomed-in closeup of the double array.
You might be able to spot one of the musicians in this view. For some reason, the liting under the canvas pavilion was poor. You'd think there would be spotlites to show the performers plainly to the crowd.
Here's another view, in fading daylite, of the loudspeaker array, in the foreground, and the annex to the Prudential Financial World Headquarters (which I call "NuPru"), then still under construction, in the distance.
While the venue of these concerts is parklike, the wider setting is plainly urban, with the towers of a major American city adding a certain excitement in revealing handsome views of (literally) "Beautiful Downtown Newark".
Unfortunately, it is that very urban nature of the setting of NJPAC that makes it hard for many people to attend SOTC concerts, because free parking is scarce, and paid parking is expensive. There's not much point to a free concert if parking costs $16.
Why are there so few SOTC concerts? Eight weeks is substantially less than a summer, which is three full months. Even if you trim back the first and last Thursdays for their being too cold for an outdoor concert — which they probably would not be, in Newark — in most years, including this one, that still leaves 11 Thursdays on which SOTC concerts could be held. I mentioned here July 17th that I tried to attend a gay dance party that was part of one SOTC concert but couldn't find (free) parking anywhere within a half mile in resurgent Downtown Newark. I was irritated that I couldn't attend (because ungenerous Social Security does not permit me to spend on parking), but heartened by the crowds of diverse pedestrians, including a lot more white people than I might have expected, more than just cars in the vicinity of the Performing Arts Center. It became plain to me that if I wanted to attend any of this year's Sounds of the City Thursday-evening concerts, I would have to either park a very long distance from NJPAC and 'take a hike' (a lot of people have wanted me to take a hike in my 70 (and a half) years, but I haven't always accommodated them) or leave my car at home, and take a bus or two, to as near as I could get to NJPAC. Altho Newark has splendid public transportation, there are always delays in waiting for a bus or lite-rail train, and some locations, like NJPAC, may require most riders to take two (or even more) buses/trains. Suburbanites have two regular (heavy-)railroad stations within an easy walk of NJPAC, Newark Penn and Broad Street. There is a lite-rail station at the base of the hill down from NJPAC that can take you from either heavy-rail station. But if I leave my car at home, I can't go elsewhere on the way back, but would have to go directly home before I could go anywhere else, whereas I almost always have other things to do, going out and/or coming back from this or that. I'm a very busy man, and also pretty old, so I can't count on being able to do everything I want to do if I don't do it today. I feel fine, but have heard of too many people who also seemed to feel fine but dropped DEAD when nobody expected that.
Sidebar on Unexpected Sudden Death
I don't want to be morbid, but, as I mentioned above, at my age I cannot simply expect to go on and on, but must make the most of the time I seem to have, because you never know when your time will come — or, more the point, end. That applies to everyone, of course, not just the elderly, given traffic accidents, heart attacks, and criminal assaults, deliberate or mistaken, such as drive-by shootings that miss the intended target and hit strangers.
The most striking case for me occurred when I was in my twenties (I think), working in Midtown Manhattan as a secretaary and word processor for the trial lawyer Howard (Franklin) Cerny, whose clients included the former bank robber Willie Sutton (known in popular culture for having answered the question, why he robbed banks, as "Because that's where the money is." A more questionable source of his fame is "Sutton's law", which states that doctors ought to check out the obvious before looking for more exotic conditions. That 'law' is sometimes stated as "When you hear hoofbeats behind you, think horses, not zebras.". Sutton was also known as "Slick Willie", a term we now associate with the disgraceful former President Bill Clinton, whom I want never again to be anywhere near the Presidency. Hillary "Rodham" Clinton needs to pledge never to ask advice from nor give any cabinet or other high government job to her (present) husband if she wants any chance of being elected President (which seems to me extremely unlikely, in any event: this is not a Radical Feminist country. Remember the "Equal Rights Amendment", which many people expected to sweep into the Constitution in a breeze? Didn't happen.)
When I encountered Willie Sutton, he seemed a pretty ordinary older man. No way would I have perceived him as a career criminal who escaped from prison three times. But, then, I'm not always a very good judge of character, being inclined to give a person the benefit of the doubt unless something raises my suspicions.
Getting back to my narrative about old people dying unexpectedly, a sweet old lawyer (67 years of age) in Cerny's office whom I really liked, started to fall asleep at his desk. The receptionist (Marilyn Mohr, who had worked briefly as a TV weathergirl) closed his door when she saw him asleep, so no one would complain. What a sweet guy he was, whom everyone would want to protect.
One Good Friday, when Mr. Cerny let much of the staff go home early, we got a call from the NYPD. An elderly man had died in Grand Central Station, and they wanted Mr. Cerny to go down to identify him (or, sadly, "the body"). I was very glad that I was not asked to do that.
When I was first contemplating a move out of cram-jammed and crazy Manhattan to Newark, I contacted the Newark Public Library to ask for information about public transportation, since I did not anticipate being able to buy a car right away, and I was comfortable with public transportation from almost 35 years of living in Manhattan. One "Heidi Cramer" sent me a particularized transit map of Newark that NJTransit used to publish but, for reasons beyond my ken, no longer does. The main side ("obverse", in coin-collector terms) showed a stylized geograffic rendering of the City of Newark with all bus lines and the City Subway shown, in distinctive colors and unique numbers. The reverse side showed a guide to service, keyed to route number, with hours of operation; plus fare information.
NJTransit is a remarkable public agency, serving every part of this state of 8,722.58 square miles and population of over 8,938,000 (very nearly 9 million, up, surprisingly, from 2010, despite our oppressive recent winters).
NJT, you need to issue an updáted version of that map, or at very least to put one online that people can download and print on their own.. (I did a search at the NJT website for a Newark transit guide but found nothing.) Potential new residents, esp. from New York City, which has become oppressively overcrowded and overpriced, need to know how much local public transportation, in both lite rail and buses, is available to them, should they decide to move to Newark long before they feel able to buy a car or SUV. People who intend to continue to work in Manhattan will need to know what is involved in getting to and from "the city" (as tho Newark is not itself a city!), either by a direct bus or by bus or lite rail to a direct bus or either of our major transit hubs, Newark Penn Station (NJTransit, PATH, and Amtrak) and the Broad Street Station.
This sign on the plaza points out that NJPAC is now 18 years old.
Tho I never met Mayor James, I was once within a few feet of him. Here is a foto I took of him at the parade up Broad Street that was part of the Statewide African Heritage Celebration on Sunday, May 30, 2004. (I think the picture is so small because the digital camera I had at the time didn't produce larger pix. It appears online in foto gallery #2 in my Resurgence City website.) There were very few white people in evidence, which is their loss, because the parade was terrific, if a little "small-town", in the best sense. But it had some big balloons, which I would not have expected. The Mayor of this great city came by to shake hands with the crowd, something you would hardly expect in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. It's too bad he was a crook. Otherwise he could be considered one of this city's greatest mayors, without an asterisk. Alas, a crooked mayor is hardly unique in New Jersey. One reason Chris Christie is (unfortunately) Governor today is that he worked as United States Attorney from 2002 to 2008, and during that time "he emphasized prosecutions of political corruption and also obtained convictions for sexual slavery, arms trafficking, racketeering by gangs, and other federal crimes." See, he's not all bad. He was also born in Newark, the only other good thing I can think to say about him. Mayor James was convicted during Christie's tenure as U.S. Attorney, but I don't know if Christie personally handled that prosecution. In any case, Newark is much the better for Mayor James's having built both NJPAC and the Prudential Center, and we should never forget that.
P.S.: Once I moved to Newark, in June 2000, I was able to put a face to the name "Heidi Cramer". I discovered that she is, as are most people in library service, a very helpful person. (I will be addressing the announced resignation of NPL's Executive Director, Wilma Grey, at some point in the near future.)