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.