I wanted to get back during the daytime before too much more had been done, so planned my route Thursday to put me at that site before that nite's concerts, and took this picture.
As I turned to leave, I heard a voice asking about my taking a picture, and turned to tell somebody about my fotoblog. But it was Matt Gosser himself, and Jersey City artist Jessica Dalrymple, who were also viewing the early stage of the mural project. I mentioned that I had received an email note from cWOW about an immediate need for fine artists to help with murals, which reminded me to get to the wall soonest.
City Without Walls - "City Murals," a new community-based program that integrates public art with youth employment and training, is seeking fine artists to aid in the painting of two recently created murals in the city of Newark. Volunteers will have to dedicate time to the City Murals program beginning immediately, the week of Monday, August 24, 2009, during 9 am - 5 pm. Volunteers will also be candidates for NJIT’s fall exhibition "TheatreTown", curated by City Muralist Matthew Gosser. To volunteer, call City Mural’s project manager Rodney Gilbert at 973. 946. 9512.I then mentioned that I thought after his group went on their way July 16th that I should have asked if they'd like to be fotograffed for a fotoblog about Newark, but didn't think of it. I asked what the mural was about, other than star-spangled Newark, and he said it would show Newark's historic theaters. When might the kids be at the mural, so I might ask if they'd like to appear in this blog? Tomorrow (Friday the 28th), he replied, between 9am and 5pm. He would also be working on the mural on Saturday, but the kids would not. I said I'd see them Friday. I had not checked the weather forecast. (As it happened, the weather was dismal and rainy all day, and tho my camera is supposed to be weather-resistant, I wasn't sure anyone would be working in the rain. Besides, the colors wouldn't be brite in dismal gray lite. When rain was falling after 4pm, I decided not to go all the way Downtown, not for the mural, not for the celebration in Washington Park of Michael Jackson's birthday.)
I bid farewell to Matt and Jessica, and went to look for (free) parking somewhere near NJPAC for the last "Sounds of the City" outdoor concert for this summer, but couldn't find a spot for blocks distant. So I drove past NJPAC itself to see what kind of crowd it was drawing and was surprised to see that Theater Square, across the entire front of the building, was packed with people and tents for vendors.
Many of the fotos today are smaller than usual because the evening lite was not sufficiently brite to permit sharp focus, and that failure is less noticeable in smaller pix. But now that I've alerted you to that fact, you will see focus problems. Ah, well.
I decided to check out the last Essex County summer concert this year in Riverbank Park (as above) first, which was scheduled to end an hour earlier, at 9pm, than the NJPAC concert, and try NJPAC again later. I also wanted to check out the Barat Foundation supper club and presentation about their summer program in Provence. Parking in the Ironbound in the daytime is hugely difficult, but I hoped that since it was by then almost 8pm, I might find a space not too far from the park. I did, on Market Street just short of Adams, which is one block south of Jackson Street and its bridge to Harrison and thus only a few blocks from Riverbank Park. I then walked toward the park. I wasn't sure where within the park the concert was being held, so when I saw a middle-aged white woman walking in my direction from the area of the park, I asked her. She initially demurred, saying she doesn't speak English. So I decided to try my clumsy Portuguese (I guessed that that might be more appropriate than my somewhat better Spanish): "Onde é o concerto?" I realize now it should have been "está", but she understood (despite my attempted North Brazillian pronunciation; most Lusophones (speakers of Portuguese, not a musical instrument) in Newark are from Portugal, tho I wouldn't be surprised if they were eventually outnumbered by Brazilians, considering how much larger in population, 200M, Brazil is than Portugal, 11M) and pointed to an entrance to the park a couple of hundred feet up. "Obrigado." ("Thanks", from a man; from a woman, "obrigada": [I am] obliged. "I am obriged" would be Japanese. So solly. Oh, no, that's Chinese!)
I thought the concert might be held in the baseball field so concertgoers could sit in the stands, which would be ideal if there was a large crowd. But the stands were dark, and the music was coming from farther along.
There was a britely lited soccer field and running track in the general vicinity of the baseball stands, from which the music flowed. I climbed a gentle slope between trees to take pix of that field and the people playing on it, and found that I did not have to backtrack from that position but could simply move forward and to the left to continue my course toward the music. Off to the left, I saw young men playing basketball in courts without niteliting.
The track was red, yielding, and rubberized. As I walked toward the sound, I saw that there was no mobile stage as I had seen at other Essex County Park concerts. Rather, the performers (Fuerza Positiva, from the Bronx — or Bronnix, as I sometimes say it) were playing in the open outside the fenced-in field and track (or should that be "track and field"; no, that's something else). The lite in the area of the astroturfed soccer field is dazzling. Brite lites, medium-sized city. Think of the wonderful old Petula Clark song, "Downtown", and its reference to how much better brite lites can make people feel.
A few of the small crowd listening attentively to the music were dancing. There were hundreds of other people in the park who could hear the music while walking the track or kicking soccer balls around the field.
There was a tent for Census 2010 nearby (to the left in the foto below), as there had been at Weequahic. I looked to see what it was all about, and told a guy sitting behind the table that I had seen a tent like that at the Weequahic Park concert two days earlier, but it was in the dark by the time I got there. He explained that they were trying to improve response rates to the upcoming Federal Census (from this urban area, cities routinely suffering an undercount) by showing people that the Census is important. He gave me a card that states on one side "The Questionnaire Is Coming March 2010" and lists"20 Uses for Census Data". One of the most important is also given in larger type on the first side:
Every year, more than $435 billion in federal funds are awarded to states and communities for new hospitals, schools, better transportation, and social services [in accordance with population as determined by the Census].(Grammar issue: does "$435 billion" take "are" or "is"? If "the sum of" is presumed to precede the dollar figure, "is" would definitely apply. But "dollars", collapsed into a symbol, is plural. It is sometimes so hard to be a pedant.)
I asked if that card gives a website and he pointed out the URL (which stands for "Uniform Resource Locator"; well, isn't that special?) on the first side of the card: 2010census.gov. I put the card in my pocket and thanked him. The 2008 population of Newark is estimated at that site as 278,980. Is that accurate? Or have some groups been undercounted? If there are more undercounted people in Newark than elsewhere in NJ and the Nation, we will get less than our fair share of government funds. Let's try to see that that doesn't happen with next year's Census. The Census is our friend, Michele Bachmann to the contrary notwithstanding.
As I was lining up shots, a (black) gentleman greeted me, apparently knowing who I am. I asked if we had met and he said no, but he is a member of the Water Group, and Bill Chappel had told him about some posts in my blog about their efforts to keep Newark's water system under Newark City government control, and he recognized me from my foto atop this blog. I suppose he might not have, if I had not been taking pictures, but I was, of course, taking pictures. That's what I do.
Note that there is only a tiny riser on the sidewalk for the band rather than a stage.
He was Lenny Thomas, a member of SPARK (Save the Park At RiverbanK) and indeed the webmaster of their website. We got to talking about this and that connected with the current park and the proposed 1.25-mile riverwalk along the Passaic nearby. He showed me to the Field House, located an early conception of Riverfront Park, which is to encompass a riverwalk (a walkway and running path along the river's edge). "Riverwalk" seems also a term of art in that area for what is also known as a "walkshop" about the proposed Riverfront Park in which interested people walk the route that the park is to take. A walkshop for today was indefinitely postponed because of expected very bad weather. I will want to walk along, whenever it is rescheduled.
Lenny said that the City's website has more recent plans than the hardcopy he showed me, and he would send me a link, and indeed add me to SPARK's email list since I wasn't yet getting their info (but was plainly interested). Friday he sent me a link to "Newark's Riverfront Blog".
(I later went to the City's website from home and tried a couple of phrases in its Search box, but didn't come up with any plans or artist's conception, so will wait for Lenny to provide a link to the page he is aware of.)
We talked about the progress, or lack thereof, in the creation of this riverwalk, and he said that there has apparently developed a snit between the County and Councilman Amador that may be impeding swifter progress. I suggested that it is a form of corruption for any government official to refuse to work for the people because he is annoyed with their representative. We also talked about surreptitious defiance of a 6-story height limit on new construction in the Ironbound and the insane parking problems in that neighborhood. I said I have seen something like 10 cars in a row double-parked on Jackson Street during the day (I don't know how anyone gets out of curbside parking; do these people arrange this among themselves according to who leaves work first?), and Lenny affirmed that the same thing happens on streets right by the park. I told him I think that one of the best uses the City could put economic-stimulus money to is parking structures to provide low- or no-cost parking at least Downtown, so that automobile-dependent suburbanites might shop in Newark (and attend the Museum, NJPAC, art galleries, restaurants, and the like that do not have their own free parking). He seemed to agree that parking should be a priority, but the people in charge of applying for stimulus money don't seem to understand that.
In any case, I looked at my watch and it was well after 8:30pm by that time, and I had two more events to cover, so I bid farewell to Lenny. We'll be in touch. I wanted to take a couple of pix of the Red Bull Stadium from the riverfront, and asked him how to get there from the fieldhouse. But when I got there, not only was it too dark for a good picture, but there were also trees in the way. I had to walk a bit to find a reasonably unobstructed view. I trust the Riverfront Park/Riverwalk will NOT permit trees or shrubbery to obstruct the views.
The two lites above the Stadium are the headlites of a plane headed for Newark International.
I then drove to the event likely to end next, the Supper Club at the Barat (like "Barrett") Foundation. I arrived when Athena (Barat) was talking about the kids' trip to Provence and showing slides. This was the view thru a window on Bank Street. It didn't come out well, despite my having chosen the "Behind Glass" mode on my camera.
Her father, Gary, greeted me warmly, and I spoke with him quietly in another room about a project he had told me about for outside the Hahne & Co. building. I had driven by there earlier that day in looking for parking, and saw no sign of progress on that project. He reported that lawyers had gotten in the way and the City had not come thru with approvals he had been assured would be forthcoming, so the landlord threw up his hands in disgust. Now Gary has to work backwards to see if he can restart not just the outdoor project but also one involving displays in some of the plate-glass windows of that old department store (which closed long before I moved to Newark in June 2000).
Gary's wife, Chandri (above), added some remarks about how well the group got along in Provence, like a family (but without the tumult families sometimes have on summer vacation). Then Gary himself talked about how much of an impression a trip he made to France in a prior summer had made on him. (He couldn't go this year because of other Barat Foundation projects going on in Newark.) Then the three-member musical group of the evening, The Rhythm of the Wind Jazz Band, played a few more numbers.
I made two videos of their music. This first is just instrumental, very smooth. (Click here if the embedded player doesn't work.) As usual, the camera is handheld and has no slow zoom. Moreover, the lite is not brite enuf for sharpness. Consequently, these videos are not remotely of professional quality, but I mean only to give you a sense of the scene, and these videos should do that.
The second also has a vocal, by the one woman in the band. I think there is some distortion in the sound of this video, because the group seemed to hit every note exactly, in person, but some of the notes seem off in the video. A technical, not talent, problem, I'm sure. For all I know, it might even just be my computer. (Click here if the embedded player doesn't work.)
I missed a song between these two numbers, in which the keyboardist sang. I note that he used an electronic keyboard, even tho there is a baby-grand piano right behind him. Huh? The woman vocalist also plays some instrument I'm not sure I know. It looked like an electric recorder (the woodwind instrument) rather than a clarinet, but I don't know what it was and didn't think to ask.
Foto in slideshow, of participants in this summer's Provence experience.
Mimi, a (black) woman (just a reminder: I sometimes mention race because each person's inclination is to see someone of his or her own race when words like "woman" are used; this may become unclear when a white guy says "woman" without specifying race; and even minimal descriptions are important to a reader's being able to follow along in the mind's eye) whom I see at various arts events around town and who introduced me to Mayor Booker at the Library (10th picture at blog entry of April 24, 2008), was there, and we chatted a moment.
Mimi has one upper tooth missing near the front of her mouth, and I admire the way she doesn't let that stop her from smiling. I have a gap in my smile now too, because two more old dental crowns went the way of all flesh. I haven't had a chance or the money to have two more 'teeth' added to a partial plate I had Toothsavers in Manhattan create for me, but Mimi's courage in facing the world has made me much less concerned about that. Ideally, we (she, I, the Nation) would have universal healthcare, including dental care, so that millions of people not as courageous as Mimi (and, due to her influence, I) could show the world a smile without missing teeth.
This slide would seem to show a wall in a nautical museum of some kind. The Louvre also has these odd arrangements of many pictures cluttering every part of a wall, going very high above eye level. Zee Frensh, sometimes zae ar verhee stronzh.
It was then time to head for NJPAC, a short walk from the Barat Foundation.
The crowd was amazing. The other outdoor concerts I have seen in Newark have been sparsely attended. This one was jammed.
The live performers had finished by the time I got there, around a quarter to 10, but a DJ was still blaring Latin music to the throng. Oddly, there appeared to be almost no Latinos in the throng.
The setting is great. The weather was beautiful. The crowd was well-dressed and friendly. And black.
I was puzzled by this, given that Newark is now only half-black, and struck up a conversation with a guy in the crowd. He said that he's been to perhaps six of this summer's NJPAC outdoor concerts, and they have all had a preponderantly black crowd. I told him I have a fotoblog about Newark, gave him my card, and asked if he'd like to speak on camera to why that might be. He (Somebody Johnson, if I recall even his last name right) agreed. I first took a still foto, and then THOUGHT I interviewed him for a couple of minutes on video. BUT when I reviewed my pix and vids afterward, I found I had somehow failed to capture that interview.
What kind of klutz doesn't look at the camera as a video is supposed to start to see if the red lite is blinking? Old people and technology, that's the problem. Old people shouldn't be allowed NEAR a video camera (or, in this case, a video function of a camera that takes both stills and video). My apologies to Mr. Johnson, whose time I wasted. I can at least show his foto, so anyone he mentioned being interviewed to will know he was telling the truth.
He pointed his chin toward a young woman who was dancing to the music nearby and said I should get a picture of her. I took a picture.
Then I said goodnite to him, and walked over to her and said it had been suggested I take a picture of her. I said I might want to use it in a fotoblog about Newark, and handed her my card. She wanted to see the picture, so I showed it to her in the monitor. She wanted to pose for a better picture.
I showed her that picture, and she wanted to try one more. A friend joined her.
She, Cherie Carter (?? — I usually forget first names; sorry, Cherie, if Carter is not your last name), was content with those pix, so I said goodnite and moved on.
Here's a close view of the tents set up for vendors.
The time was then nearly 10:30, and the music, which ordinarily ends at 10, was still going. But I had a lot of pix and vids to deal with, so headed back to my car, parked on Bank Street.
Wide view of vendor area.
Along the way, I encountered a young woman and a teen girl with her on Park Place. Something about them told me to interview them about the last concert of the "Sounds of the City" 2009 season. Fortunately, I asked them the same basic question I asked Mr. Johnson, with much the same answer. So I didn't lose the sense of the first interview, only the interview itself. (Click here if the embedded player does not work.)
There's a sweet "Rudy"-esque quality to Sarah, don't you think? Keshia Knight-Pulliam, who played Bill Cosby's youngest dauter, "Rudy", in the classic sitcom, is from Newark, you know. And I feel that Michelle displays a quiet confidence and dignity that add weight to her words.
You can hear police whistles in the background, a tangible proof of the ubiquitous security that makes these NJPAC concerts safe to all. There was no such police presence at the evening concerts in the Essex County parks here in Newark that I have attended, but again there was no trouble of any kind. Alas, there was also very low attendance at those concerts, in Ivy Hill, Weequahic, and Riverbank Parks, and most of the audience at the first two were also black. I'm beginning to wonder how white people made colonies of almost all the world, in the bad old days of European imperialism. What a bunch of ... hm — kitties (meow!) — white people in this area are!
To quote Michelle, extending her advice from the NJPAC outdoor concerts to other events in Newark: "Come on down, ladies and gentlemen!" If old white guys can wander all over Newark, at all hours of day and nite, taking pix and vids, and be perfectly safe, white teens and adults in the prime of life can enjoy everything Newark has to offer too. Buy some guts, people. (Oh, and permit me to recommend to organizers of events in Newark next summer that you DON'T OVERLOAD THURSDAYS. There are six other days of the week, people! Spread the wealth.)