The Newark Arts Council's tenth annual "Open Doors" extravaganza is upon us, today thru Sunday. There are so many things on offer at so many venues in various parts of Downtown and just outside Downtown that no one person is likely to be able to see everything. So decisions must be made.
Today's fotos are from the launch party in June for Akintola Hanif's Hycide magazine at Aljira. There is a party for the second edition of that magazine, also at Aljira, this evening that I plan to attend, esp. as there is also a reception at Index and Kedar right nearby.As I note in the foto-caption above, there are some venues that are close together, as simplifies seeing more than one show. There are others within walking distance of each other. And there is a shuttle bus that stops near most, but not all of the venues.The NAC (said as letters, not "knack") has materials, including printable .PDF files, available at its website describing the Open Doors events. A .PDF file with short descriptions of each show runs 14 pages! A shorter .PDF of a few other parties runs 3 pages. A map with the shuttle routes shown is available in two versions, Purple Route and Pink Route. There are actually two Purple maps, one for tonite (the 21st, tho the intro page says 22nd) and one for Saturday the 22nd. All 3 maps are printable, but be sure to select LANDSCAPE for the paper type.In addition to Aljira, Index, and Kedar, my own indoor must-sees include Robeson, NJIT, Symphony Hall, and Solo(s), all opening with receptions tonite, plus, of course, the closing of the NAC group show at 570 Broad Street on Sunday. Outdoor events include the Barat Foundation's "Creation Nation" Newark Arts Parade on Sunday from 765 Broad Street (at Bank) to Washington Park, where there is to be an outdoor arts fair.
I'd also like to get to Arts High School and perhaps do the Mural Bus Tour. If I get to all or even most of these venues, I shall have to be very sparing in my fotos of each, or I'll be overwhelmed and not be able to get good coverage of them into this blog. My coverage will, in any event, be retrospective, since I won't be able to get much online until after the Open Doors weekend closes. I also plan to make videos of portions of the Arts Parade and edit them together into an overview of that event.I asked my friends Ingá, Lisa, Gaetano, and Joe from Belleville if they'd like to attend anything with me. Ingá and I attended part of last year's (the year before's?) Open Doors, and Lisa has attended other art events with me, but Joe's sister from the Atlantic City area is coming in this weekend, and Gaetano has a convention all weekend long. I gave Joe the URL to the NAC website's descriptive materials and urged him to tell his sister about the weekend of events, then let her decide if she'd like to see any of them. I also emailed my cousin Faith and her husband in Bergen County about it, but her mother, my Aunt Mae, broke her hip a couple of months ago and is still recuperating. If they have a wheelchair for her, she might ride thru Open Doors events in style. We'll see.P.S. Cartastrophe. I headed out for my pre-selected Open Doors events around 6:45pm, made a stop to buy 3 lottery tickets (one for each of the big draws (Powerball, MegaMillions, and Pick 6, including a $140M jackpot for Powerball) from Sanford [sic] Supermarket, my local convenience store, and engaged the car's parking brake on the hill just down Silver Street from Sandford Avenue. When I returned to the car, I disengaged the parking brake, the "BRAKE" lite went off, as it should have, and I went on my way, stopping on level ground (so did not engage the parking brake again) to mail a check for my Newark City water bill at the mailbox outside the Vailsburg Post Office (the City was threatening to shut off my water, for $194.99 due for several months; but they won't take either online or telefoned water-bill payments, the dopy SOB's, as would simplify my task in paying the bill or speeding payments to the City). Then I headed off Downtown.
Parade Staging: 10:00 AM:
Bank Street between Washington Street and Broad Street
Parade Take Off:
11:00 - 1:00 pm March down Broad Street to Washington Park
12:00 - 5:00 - Open Air Arts Festival Washington Park.
There will be two floats in the parade; three marching bands; dozens of schools; a fleet of peace boats; artists; the World Champion Double Dutch Team, the Dominican Dance Group, the Organizacion Carnavalesca de Santiago en New Jersey; the Aztec Dance trope, Kalpulli Huehuetlahtolli Danzantes, and numerous community organizations.
The remaining fotos today are from the Hycide opening party, as are the earlier fotos, except that these show that that event was held within the context of a pre-existing Aljira art show ("Aljira" being pronounced aal.jíe.ra, not like Al-Jazeera, àal.ja.zéer.a).A mile and a half on, I heard a noise from under the hood like something breaking. (I'm thinking now of the grating commercials for Aamco in which people try to replicate for a mechanic the noises they hear that might narrow down their car's problem. There's no way I could imitate the short, 2-second sequence of sounds I heard.) The "BRAKE" lite and battery-icon lite came on, and my power steering stopped working. I pulled over right outside a gas station at Grove Street and 16th Avenue in Irvington, and asked if there was a mechanic on duty. No. Few service stations in this peculiar age have mechanics on duty, something a very large proportion of service stations used to have, whenever they were open. I suppose this change is due in large part to the electronics in modern cars, which renders them into much more complicated devices than cars used to be, almost as much electronic as simply mechanical or electrical. Is there an automobile equivalent of "avionics" to describe the electronic control systems that make evaluating and fixing car problems much more difficult and expensive than they used to be? And is this 'improvement' in cars really progress, if we can't get repairs wherever we happen to be when a problem develops?
I loved this painting of nitetime traffic on a superhighway (4 lanes in each direction). It is, I concede, an unusual artistic topic, but one that captures something of the striking views and fanciful feelings we have while driving. I sometimes think of the highway as a snake, or a pathway along which snakes travel.I pulled out onto Grove Street again, with muscular challenge in steering (actually sort of welcome to me), and decided it would be foolish to try to drive to Open Doors venues, esp. since it was after dark and my headlites were steadily draining the battery, which suggested that what had happened (at the least) is that the fanbelt to the alternator had snapped. I don't know why that would have caused the hand-brake lite to go on, or have cut off the power steering, but perhaps the snapped belt flew into something and jammed it, or the "power" in "power steering" is electrical power. Maybe those systems and trouble indicators were all affected simply by the alternator's being knocked out. I see from Wikipedia that some "power steering" systems do indeed employ electrical power. That's comforting.
I don't know where NJ fotografer John Masi found this wall and the child walking in front of it, but the effect is brilliant, and I congratulate him on finding brilliance in a blue-brick wall — in Brick City? (He pronounces his last name like "Massey", rather than (what I assume to be) the actual Italian móz.ee.)I can tell you from my 20 minutes or so without power steering, that driving would be a much better physical exercise than it now is if we did NOT have power steering. But it would also be much more dangerous, because many of us, and esp. weak people, of whatever gender or age — if not all drivers — could not, without power assist, readily make the quick turns out of danger that we are accustomed to. In any case, I made the left from Grove Street onto Central Avenue and headed home.Astonishingly heavy traffic, moving very slowly, had me worrying I wouldn't get home before the battery conked out. But I did manage, if just barely, to get home, and parked on the street rather than up my driveway, so I might drive 3/4 of a mile to General Tech (South Orange Avenue and Monticello Avenue) tomorrow morning — if I can start the car. If I can't, I can get Triple-A to tow me, once I clear with General Tech that they can tend to my car during the half day they are open Saturdays. A tow truck would probably not be able to get up my narrow driveway, given that my property is on a slope up from the street, hemmed in by concrete retaining walls on both sides. If General Tech canNOT fix my car Saturday, I can probably move the car to the other side of the street so that Monday streetsweeping won't give me a parking ticket. I've had two of those ($35 apiece, as I recall), and don't care to have another.General Tech is a great repair shop close to me that does not seem to have its own website. Perhaps its owner/s feel/s it doesn't need one, in that it has as much business as it can handle, or even more. But I feel I should offer to make an uncomplicated, free website for them on, for instance, Tripod, so they'd have the higher profile and perceived legitimacy they deserve. They are very good at what they do, and very nice people into the bargain.After I had turned the engine off, I wanted to move the car closer to the curb when I saw that the rear was out a bit far (maybe 15"), but the car would not start. I checked the booster pack in the trunk and saw that it was starting to get low, as showed both the green lite that indicated good to go and the amber that showed that the booster unit should be recharged. So I took the booster pack into the house and put it on to charge overnite. If I'm right about a fanbelt and alternator, once I connect the booster pack to the car's battery tomorrow morning, I should be able to start the car, then drive it less than a mile to get another fanbelt installed, since the headlites won't be on to drain the battery (and I guess, from my rudimentary knowledge of cars powered by internal combustion, that the battery isn't really necessary to the car's continuing in operation once it's underway). If a new fanbelt fixes the problem — that even affected the horn, which sounded in a substantially lower register as well as more softly — I should be good to go to Saturday's and Sunday's Open Doors events by car. I actually like the lower horn sound. It's more like the horns of the big American cars I grew up with. We used to make fun of the high-pitched beepy-beeps of foreign-car horns.
Slitely fuzzy picture taken with ambient lite. I don't have a better picture (taken with flash), and liked the painting, so show this crappy picture anyway.If, however, the flying remnants of the fanbelt hit and damaged other systems, I may have more serious problems to deal with. The car is 19 years old, a 1992 Geo Storm (called a Chevy by NJ Motor Vehicles but actually made by Isuzu in Japan and merely marketed by GM). It's a very good car, which I inherited from my late mother (who seems to me to have made a very wise purchase; my brother Alan also bought a Geo, tho the Prizm model), so I would much rather keep it than junk it. But nothing lasts forever. The transmission froze perhaps 7 years ago (I almost never know when things in the past happened, because I always "let it go"; I refuse to be burdened by the past) and cost me $1,900 to replace. Everything since then has been fine, or trivial to fix. But if I face a steady stream of repairs from now on, I might have to sell or junk the car and buy a two-zone bus pass (Vailsburg-Downtown) until or unless I can afford to get another car.Public transportation is quite good in Newark, which is one very-major reason I moved here from Manhattan (c. 22-hour-a-day access to Manhattan). There used to be a Newark Transit Guide (a map with a legend of bus routes with their destinations) issued by NJTransit, that showed all the bus and train routes within Newark city limits. When I was thinking of moving here, someone in the Newark Public Library (was it Heidi, whom I have since met many times?) snailmailed me a copy (to West 46th Street in Manhattan, where I lived for 25 years before I moved here). It was extraordinarily helpful as I considered where within Newark to move.
+I have mentioned here that NJTransit refuses to keep that Newark map current, or reissue it. The City of Newark, Brick City Development Corporation, or somebody else should secure rights to publish a perpetually-current version (if updating should prove necessary; it might not be necessary, since most bus routes do not change over the course of decades) in many, many copies as part of a relocation package for individuals who are thinking of moving here, and/or as part of a Welcome Package for new arrivals (which package would as well include, for instance, a calendar of garbage/recycling/bulk pickups for their neighborhood, and a guide to City services of all kinds, with website URL's). I did not have a car when first I moved here, and lived happily in Vailsburg without a car for 3 years.
Description of the art show that served as backgrond for the Hycide party.Public transit is much less expensive than a car, given the costs of gasoline and, esp., auto insurance(!). But waiting for public transportation can be very irritating and time-consuming in off-hours, given that buses often don't stick closely to schedule, even the 1 mile in from the start of the route that the #1 bus's stop closest to me is, and less than that from the Dover Street start of the #31, (both) going Downtown. In cold, rainy, and esp. snowy weather, and when the streets and sidewalks between the bus stop and my house are difficult to negotiate because of snow and, worse, ice); and when I'm dealing with heavy groceries by bus or my four-wheeled, uprite, wire shopping cart pulled behind me as I walk hither and yon (and dragging a shopping cart, even on wheels, can be very hard on snowy/icy sidewalks), having to use public transit or walk everywhere would surely cut into my productivity.
+It would also, however, increase my physical activity, which would be all to the good, esp. for someone who has an overwhelmingly sedentary lifestyle, and esp. someone elderly who needs things that force me to be more active. Currently, I sometimes make as many as 6 or 7 stops when I leave the house to do chores by car, and indeed had already done 2 when the car failed me tonite. By bus or walking, I might get only 2 or 3 things done in any given day. Were that the most I could get done in a day, it would force me to leave the house more often, which might be good for me.Also, if I couldn't get to as many art and other events as I now do, I might eventually catch up on the events I've already attended but not yet found the time to discuss in this blog, plus non-event topics I have meant to discuss. I have dozens of topics I should have tended to but have not. Does it really matter if, in a blog whose posts remain online for years and years, whether I deal with a topic the day after it happens, or a year after it happened? Not to me. I am almost 67 years old, and know from experience that tho we might, in youth, feel we must know some things immediately, there really is almost nothing we actually need to know immediately. In terms of recent news stories, for instance, does it really matter whether we know that Muammar Qaddafi was killed earlier today? Or would it suffice to know that a murderous, evil dictator got his comeuppance from the indignant, infuriated people of Libya at some point? The lessons of history do not require immediacy. Quite the contrary, sometimes appreciating the historical significance of something requires (temporal) distance.
+I'm annoyed that I allowed my discussion to wander from Newark arts to international turmoil resulting in murder. I intended to talk only about good things that could result from my having my car break down beyond repair, but international affairs of gruesome type intruded upon the discussion in order that I might make a point about immediacy as against the long view.Still, I hope my present problem is just a broken fanbelt. If it is, my father will have been vindicated in his attempts to teach me the basics of automobiles. He knew his stuff, and wanted me to know that stuff as well. I would look over his shoulder at an automobile engine, but not always see what he was talking about. Then he'd have to take a screwdriver and point more closely, so I could see what he was talking about. He'd show that to me under the hood of a Hudson or whatever other car we had that wasn't working right. I liked that, even when I didn't grasp everything he meant to instruct me in. When cars were just mechanical devices, it was possible for mere mortals to diagnose and fix problems. Once computer chips entered the equation, all mechanics-only bets went out the door. You couldn't just watch for a minute or two and literally see the problem. You would need to plug in an electronic panel to take measurements from many different chips. Thanks anyway, Dad. To the extent computer chips are NOT involved in a given problem, but it's just a mechanical issue, I and other people similarly schooled, can understand. But we really can't understand much of what goes on in the modern automobile, can we?
I asked Victor Davson, the founder of Aljira, to pose for a picture. He somehow knew who I was, and knew, therefore, that I am respectful of Newark's art figures. Someday I will interview him, probably in an extended video, about Aljira, the changes Newark has undergone, and Newark's future as he sees things.