Meanwhile, in Africa ...
My younger sister Trina, who lives in Long Beach, California and serves on the citizen-complaint board of the Long Beach Police Department — she has urged me to volunteer for a Newark board of some kind; and I had actually (before she urged that) taken a one-nite course from the Citizens Campaign on how to get a spot on, for instance, a city commission on, say, public art or historic preservation — has been in Africa for a couple of weeks as part of her continuing education as a travel agent. She has regaled the family with fotos of a few of the wonderful things she has seen, and I thought I'd share them with you.
Our father was a shutterbug, but not all artsy-fartsy about it (as Gaetano might say). My father took pictures with a high-end camera, a Rolleiflex, at a time when most Americans interested in fotografy wanted only to point-and-shoot with a "Brownie" kind of camera.
Dad sometimes irritated us in asking us to stay still for more than an instant so he could capture us on film — there was no such thing as digital fotografy then, tho Dad would have loved the freedom to ignore cost as a factor in fotografy.
Of my parents' six children — and I don't know how in the WORLD my parents coped, tho it seemed normal to us, of course — only Trina and I have shown any inclination to take a lot of fotos, tho one of our grandnephews incorporates the word "photos" in his email address, so I guess he's a fotografy enthusiast.
My days of long-distance travel are over. I have no intention of going anywhere far, anytime soon. I have been to Africa, but only to the Cairo/Giza area of Egypt. And I'm not about to go to South Africa. My sister said, as she was getting ready to depart for home, that she faced a 38-hour trip! She lives in Long Beach, California, so has an extra six hours above what a return to Newark would entail. But even 32 hours in planes? Not for me.
New Nobel Peace Laureate's Newark Connection. Gaetano reminded me of something I had forgotten: that one of the three African women who share this year's Nobel Peace Prize, participated in the Newark Education Peace Summit in May, before the Nobel committee shone its dazzling lite on her work in Liberia, thousands of miles from where my sister has spent a couple of weeks. I don't know if Liberia has a wealth of wildlife, nor what the two civil wars in recent decades have done to that country's environment. It can't be good, tho.
A Liberian family lives across the street from me, and there is a Liberian community of size in North Jersey. Indeed, in 2008 there was a major Liberian celebration on Roseville Avenue here in Newark, and two years running, 2008 and 2009, there were soccer games by Liberian teams in Newark. In 2006, I chanced across a celebration of Liberian independence in Military Park. (The fotos disappeared when AOL closed subscribers' FTP space, but I restored them today.) The Liberian Community Association of North Jersey appears still to be located on Bergen Street, south of Springfield Avenue.
Gaetano says of his encounter with Ms. Gbowee:
I gave her a hug at the Newark Peace Education Summit. How many Nobel Peace Prize Winners have you hugged? [None. I'm not big on hugging, in general, and have never been nearer to a Nobel laureate than during the Peace Education Summit, when there were three on the Prudential Hall stage of NJPAC a couple of hundred feet away. That's NOT counting Ms. Gbowee, who had not yet won her Nobel.]
The things that happen to you and people you meet while you're in Newark.
I also held a Stradivarius violin in the Newark Museum when the NJ Symphony had a workshop years ago when that rich German investor gave all those violins to NJS org. [Actually, NJSO bought them, in a $17M transaction that turned into a controversy and partial embarrassment. Still, Gaetano might actually have held an authentic Stradivarius anyway.
I met Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Rick Cerone, lots of mobsters like Johnny Coca Cola [one of Gaetano's uncles], Richie the Boot, etc., etc., President Clinton and Pope John Paul [II] in 1995 when they came to the Cathedral [now "Cathedral Basilica", since the Pope elevated it while here], Jim Jensen in I think 1974 when he came to Newark City Stadium for a softball game, Anthony Imperiale, Joe DiMaggio at the Italian Parade down Bloomfield Avenue. I have a long list.
And now Gaetano's got a Nobel Peace Laureate on that list. I have my own long list of celebrities I have met or seen up close, mostly in the 35 years I lived in Manhattan. Mine includes Rick Cerone too. He was at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Schools Stadium, but I had to have someone point him out to me. In grade school, I had a friend named Cerone in Leonardo, but I don't know if they're related. I suppose the most famous person I have met in Newark is Mayor Booker, but since I'm not impressed by celebrity, I might have met others but not remembered. And of course some of the artists I have met may be hugely famous someday, tho they are not yet known worldwide.
Three More Nobel Laureates with NJ Connections. It's been a big week for NJ in Nobel Prize terms, including people with more than a passing connection to this state. The two men who share the Economics Prize both teach at Princeton, one full-time, one visiting. In addition,
The [Economics] award is the second Nobel Prize in a week with a New Jersey connection. Last Tuesday, Adam Riess — an astronomy professor at Johns Hopkins University and Space Telescope Science Institute in Maryland who grew up in Warren Township [about 20 miles southwest of Newark, in northeastern Somerset County] — shared the Nobel Prize in physics for helping discover in the 1990s that the universe is rapidly expanding.