Extremely long post, some 8,000 words, with 55 fotos. Read at your leisure, or just look at the fotos, most of which combine, with their captions, to offer a tour of the governmental center of our state capital, Trenton, a place well worth a visit by any New Jerseyan.
The bulk of today's fotos are from Trenton, where the television program Chasing New Jersey originates. Trenton is geograffically central to the state, so I can't very well criticize the producers' siting the show's home base there. I'd rather it be in Newark, which in terms of population may be even more central to the state than is Trenton. But dispatchers of crews had to consider actual physical distance to all parts of the state. Given that this state is very small, as states go, how much difference does a Trenton location make from a Newark location as regards travel time and distance? Did the producers weight sparsely populated areas too heavily? I don't know, and only experience with what they actually end up covering will educate the producers as to where home base should ideally be.
I used the foto above once before, years ago, but really like it, as representative of our State Capitol Building — which in NJ is generally called the "State House" — so show it again.
I had thought to illustrate today's second topic with fotos that show various aspects of Newark, but the great preponderance of the roughly 10,000 fotos (of my own) that I have shown in this blog speak to multiple aspects of Newark, whereas I haven't found another use for the fotos of Trenton that I took in September 2009. So let me use up, now, as many of those fotos as necessary to liten the extensive text of this post. Consider this foto display a suggestion that you include Trenton in your warm-weather travel plans.
I spotted this church on the way to Downtown Trenton, and noted that it is called "Sacred Heart". Like both Sacred Hearts in Newark (the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in near north Newark, and Sacred Heart of Vailsburg, near me), Trenton's Sacred Heart has two towers.
This post is thus really two, two, two posts in one! Well, it's actually three posts in one: (1) a discussion of Chasing New Jersey, (2) a fotograffic tour of Downtown Trenton, and (3) some thoughts about other television offerings about NJ, in addition to or in place of Chasing New Jersey, that WWOR, or another NJ-based TV station might offer. A trip to Trenton requires no costly plane trip, nor even a nite in a hotel or motel. Trenton is an easy daytrip. If you combine a tour of Trenton's sights (including a tour of the interior of the State House, which I do not show here) with nearby Hamilton Township's extraordinary, huge sculpture garden, Grounds for Sculpture, you might want to stay one nite in a motel in Hamilton. Tho I am pro-city, I recognize that Trenton has a big crime problem, so am unwilling to urge people to stay in a hotel or motel in Trenton proper.
This foto shows the State House and a hotel nearby. Note the preposterously small flag on the giant flagpole. Who is responsible for that? Couldn't anyone see that so small a flag is absolutely inappropriate for so tall a flagpole? One of those over-the-edge gigantic flags at car dealerships would be more appropriate. There is also a giant flag at the northwest corner of Fairmount Cemetery here in Newark that would be much more appropriate for a pole of that height.
Trenton is, like Newark, a historic and underappreciated city, tho not as populous, distinguished, nor interesting. It's very easy to get to on a summer-vacation daytrip from Newark, by car or train. I don't know about bus. The Battle of Trenton played an outsize role in the Revolutionary War, even tho Trenton was not, at the time, the capital of NJ, a role that then alternated between Perth Amboy, in Middlesex County, and Burlington, in Burlington County. If that seems odd, realize that what we now know as "New" Jersey was originally two colonies, "East Jersey" (capital, Perth Amboy) and "West Jersey" (capital, Burlington). Now, NJ is bifurcated in popular use into "North Jersey" and "South Jersey", so we have all the prime compass points covered.
I have now seen a couple of dozen episodes of Chasing New Jersey, the replacement for the 10 o'clock news broadcast on "My Nine", WWOR channel 9. How might I describe this program? "Flash"? "Trash"? Or just a latter-day illustration of Canadian media guru Marshall McLuhan's maxim that "The medium is the message"?
Some of today's Trenton fotos may have some perspective distortion (for instance, what should be verticals leaning in toward the top of the foto) because I had to use another graffics program that doesn't have the perspective-correction tool I would ordinarily use to fix that. Something crazy happened to a bunch of directories in my usual graffics program as would require me to fix all the fotos again and store them elsewhere, so I took the easy way out and used another program.
First, the good, because I like always to be positive if I can.
The War Memorial, a distinguished structure built in 1932 to commemorate World War I. I wanted to straten this picture out, so the flagpole was entirely uprite, but when I tried to do that, the left side of the picture was cut off. So please accept the tilted flagpole as an artefact of the foto. Unlike the flagpole outside 33 Washington, it is not really tilted.
(1) the program concerns New Jersey, tho there are occasional mentions of NYC, particularly in the first couple of minutes of the half hour that precedes the formal start of the Chasing New Jersey portion.
The next several fotos show a display of tourist information on historic Trenton in a park alongside the State House. That would be a good place to orient yourself if you don't find a tourist information office.
(2) It is not called "Chasing Jersey", tho all too often the noxious and inaccurate term "Jersey" is uttered in the course of the show. "Jersey" is a small island off the coast of France, part of Britain's Channel Islands dependency. I dealt with that in this blog on February 23, 2007.
Hm. The "second oldest [s]tate [h]ouse in continuous use"? What's the very oldest? Do you find this kind of thing as infuriating as I do? The sign essentially poses a question but refuses to answer it.
(3) The large group of reporters, if we can be so generous as to call them that, tho "reporter" should ideally be reserved to people who do serious reportage on substantial matters, not glancing mention of minor issues, is integrated, at least black-white. I don't recall any visibly Hispanic people nor have I heard nor read any Spanish surnames.
(4) The geograffic scope of the show is not narrow, tho South Jersey may get short shrift. That isn't particularly surprising, tho, in that South Jersey comprises only 27% of the state's population.
The program gives some attention to the Shore, which bridges the North Jersey-South Jersey divide, like a single right-bracket or French brace — } — on the right margin of a map of the state, tho the Shore starts in Central Jersey (most of which, for most practical purposes, is North Jersey, in that it is within reach of New York City OTA (over-the-air) television broadcasts, a fair definition of "North Jersey").
In 1954, my family moved from Palisades Park in Bergen County (North Jersey), to Leonardo, Middletown Township, in Monmouth County (Central Jersey), at the extreme northern end of the North Jersey Shore, the Sandy Hook Bayshore. I loved that area during the summer, when we could walk a few blocks to the beach, swim in the water that started out at one or two inches but deepened to several feet, and dive off the pilings on the margins of the Leonardo State Marina into a deep channel.
It was an ideal upbringing for active kids of both genders, tho perhaps a bit more ideal for boys. In any case, Leonardo was a perfect place for kids who were concerned only with fun in the sun and swimming and diving, not being seen in the 'best places'. We didn't give a hoot about socioeconomic status, and not being rich meant not one thing to us. Leonardo, NJ in the mid-Fifties was a great place and time to be alive.
(5) The staffers on Chasing New Jersey are attractive, for both their races.
The central figure / ringleader / ringmaster / boss in Chasing New Jersey, Bill Spadea, is a very good-looking man (at least facially; this program generally does not show full-height views of either male or female on-air staffers). But he is a little irritating. The mere fact that someone pleases the eyes doesn't keep him from being annoying.
I guess I'll have to add another item to the "good" list, (6) the program may be superficial, but it is not sexploitative of the staff.
The next several fotos are of "The Old Barracks Museum" a few blocks from the State House. Here are the signs outside with the prices as of September 2009. NJ was, you will recall, one of the original 13 colonies of the British Empire in North America, so we have history galore. (I say, "you will recall" because the "Jaywalking" comedy segment of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno regularly astounds us with how little history, and other things that should be common knowledge, some people know. One young woman this week thought France was an island but England was not.
As an aside, how is Spadea's last name pronounced? in three syllables, as spáe.dee.ya? spód.ee.ya? spáad.ee.ya? spa.dée.ya? spa.dáe.ya? Might it even be said as two syllables,spáed.a? More important, Bill Spadea is apparently an educated and intelligent man, who speaks fine NJ English, the best in the entire world, but who stupidly affects the dopy usage "-in'" for -ING endings. I imagine he wouldn't dare say "endin" for "ending" or "thin'" for "thing" like "Ricky Ricardo" in I Love Lucy, but all too often Spadea substitutes the incorrect nasal consonant N for the correct nasal consonant NG.
Linguistic Sidebar. That is not, repeat NOT, simply "dropping the G", because the G in the NG-digraf is not a separate sound but only the second half of a two-letter spelling convention to show that we are talking about the single consonant sound ordinarily but not always written NG. This is a slitely complicated matter, in that in "single", we have more than the NG-sound, but also a "hard"-G after it. The N and G of the base NG-sound, however, are not separable.
The more apt comparison would be to the CH, SH, TH, or ZH digrafs, and "dropping the H". No, dropping the H from any of those two-letter spelling conventions would NOT be acceptable under any circumstances, but would leave us with an incorrect sound (C, S, T, or Z), just as "dropping the G" from the NG-digraf leaves an incorrect sound. Spadea surely knows that, but he affects the stupid -IN pronunciation in a pitiful and contemptible attempt to seem "one of the boys" or "common people", as tho most people are morons. This is New Jersey, buddy, not West Virginia, Alabama, or Mississippi, and New Jerseyans are well educated. Stop talking down to us.
Sometimes the NG-consonant is implied, in words like "link" and "cincture", where the NK and NC incorporate the NG-sound without actually writing NG. Would Spadea say "lin-k" or "cin-cture" (without the implied-NG sound)? I don't think so, esp. in that both those things would be almost impossible to say, esp."cincture".
Would that it were equally impossible to say the supremely ignorant and disgusting "lookin" and "talkin". In other places, NG does not represent that one consonant at all, but the separate sounds of N and G, as in "ingredient" and "ungainly" or of "ingest" or "ingenious", where the G represents not the G-sound at all but the J-sound.
You can see, again, from this discussion, why I am a spelling reformer: because the crazy spelling we are burdened with makes it very hard to use written English. If you think it hard for us born into it, in an enormous English-speaking country with 24-hour-a-day media all over the auditory spectrum, imagine trying to learn English from residence in a non-English-speaking country.
In any case, Mr. Spadea, there is no such word as "goin" or "doin" (which, if written out, as here, would more reasonably be read (red) in one syllable each, as goin or doin, which would rhyme with "coin" and "join".
It is not conversational nor informal to substitute an N-sound for an NG-sound. It is stupid, and obviously, for you, an educated man, a dopy and deliberate affectation. It's not lazy, because there is no saving of energy in such a substitution. Indeed, there may be more energy entailed in thinking of what you should say but stopping yourself from saying it, instead to substitute something else.
For instance, do you use -IN in verbs but not nouns (thinking but not something)? And what about verbs like "bring" and "sting"? Why think about when to use the NG-sound or substitute an N? Just say the proper NG-sound everywhere.
Especially is it stupid for an educated man to want to present himself as an ignoramus. This stupid-is-better-than-smart thing was offensive in the anti-"egghead" Fifties. It is completely unacceptable now, when everyone in economics and politics agrees that it is not enuf to work hard. You must also work smart, in order to succeed in the brutal competition of today's planet Earth, which may well be spinning into nearly universal poverty.
Now, Back to Our Program. OK, I've mentioned the good about Chasing New Jersey. What about the bad?
(A) It is visually cutesy, and pointlessly animated. The program's logo shows the block-caps word "CHASING" (which is never said as "chasin") jumping around over an upper-and-lowercase "New Jersey". That doesn't suggest chasing at all. If you want to show chasing, you can present a cartoon-style animated graffic in which the word "CHASING" is shown pursuing the phrase "New Jersey" back and forth and all around the screen. The present logo doesn't do that. Nor would it make much sense for it to do that.
The foto above and the next four are from the World War II Memorial, across the street from the State House.
Indeed, (B) the title "Chasing New Jersey" itself does not, to me, make much sense at all. Its 'investigative reporters' don't "chase down" a story, but merely present a few snippets of information about it.
Thus do we come to the next item in the "bad" list, (C) the typical 'story' is perhaps two minutes long. Some may run the exhausting length of three minutes — or even a minute or two longer than that! — but others make up for that disgraceful imposition upon the viewer's patience by presenting their 'information' in less than a minute.
(D) The tiny bits of information presented do not whet the appetite of the viewer for more. It's not like the old Frito-Lay commercial, "Bet you can't eat just one." With Chasing New Jersey you are indeed expected to consume just one snippet and be satisfied.
(E) The half hour is not all devoted to Chasing NJ. The first two minutes or so are devoted to what the producers think are the day's top (trivial) stories (of the type they choose to cover), focused mainly on NYC, not NJ at all. The man who narrates that segment has a hideous NY accent. Toward the end of the half hour, there are cutesy items of no relevance to NJ that were found on the Internet. Then, at the end of the program, there is a short sports feature (which has been called "Commentary", "Sports Report" and, more recently, "Sports Sidebar") by Russ Salzberg. I did not initially know who he was, because he was not identified except by a signature on a backdrop behind him, the surname of which was unreadable. More recently, the show has taken to giving a Facebook or Twitter ID below him that shows Salzberg clearly. (One nite, the engineers fouled up, and Salzberg's commentary was silent; or was that a sub-rosa editorial on his contribution by the technical staff?) Salzberg is apparently employed by channel 5, the other Tristate station owned by Fox. I don't know how that happened, nor why it was permitted. The FCC used to forbid any company from owning more than one station in the same metropolitan area, but in this era of plutocratic revolution, the safeguards to competition have been beaten down. It's time for an ANTI-Plutocratic Revolution in this country, and forcing Fox to sell either channel 5 or channel 9 would be a good place to start. (Salzberg could still do a spot on channel 9 with the permission of channel 5.)
On August 19th, Salzberg did not offer a commentary but only a needless sports summary. Why would MyNine intrude a sports report about non-NJ games into a half hour that is supposed to be about New Jersey? And why is Chasing New Jersey now ending three minutes before the half hour mark? Maybe Shrinking New Jersey will become a more descriptive title for this show ere long.
Detail from the façade of the State House.
I'm not much interested in spectator sports (tho I have enjoyed the occasional Newark Bears game), but Salzberg speaks to more than sports. He talks about the moral value of sportsmanship, the immorality of cheating with PED's (Performance-Enhancing Drugs), and other sports-related matters of enduring importance, not just the evanescent and meaningless chatter of one day's sports scores or athletic gossip. So, altho it doesn't generally relate specifically to NJ, Saltzberg's commentary is a spot I have come to appreciate.
Landscaped path near State House.
I was, however, offended by his suggestion, in the program's first week, that New Jersey's college athletes should be paid! NO. If they are to be professional athletes, send them to professional sports leagues. I would rather close down all college sports programs than turn "student" athletes pro. A report on NJ Today the same day as Saltzberg's idiotic commentary said that the intercollegiate sports programs of Rutgers University cost each student something like $1,000 a year! Can that possibly be true? If so, we must end that outrageous abuse of students, many thousands of whom may not give a fig about intercollegiate sports. Aren't kids piling up enuf college debt without adding $1,000 a year to it for sports?
Acorn-strewn sidewalk outside State House.
The excuse made for all the attention paid to college sports has always, it seemed to me, focused on the financial benefits, indeed profits, that these programs bring to colleges, despite the emotional and financial costs, if not even physical costs in terms of injuries that inflict lasting harm upon the athletes. These amateur athletes are offered a free college education that they often, perhaps even ordinarily, do not — and in many cases cannot, due not only to their limited intellectual gifts but also to their heavy schedule of athletic practice sessions — really take advantage of. Many/most thus end up, if they don't get drafted by the pros, with nothing to show for their time in college — no degree, no partial credit that they can take to another institution, whatever. (I'm tempted to use the colloquial but ungrammatical expression 'no nothing' but will restrain myself.) Maybe they'll make "networking" kinds of contacts while in college that can do them good decades into the future. Maybe not.
This was, at the time, the widest mailbox I had ever seen. State government still uses the Postal Service heavily, whereas many private businesses and individuals have largely switched to email. (The Christie Administration cheated me out of last year's Homestead Rebate by sending a suspicious email about online filing, with a link in the email, when they know full well that people are necessarily wary of clicking on any link in any email. The email should have said "or go to the State of New Jersey Department of the Treasury website via your own search, and find the Homestead Rebate link". Nor has the Christie Administration sent followup postal mail as all other administrations did to afford a second chance to people who hadn't filed in the prior year. So Christie stole hundreds of dollars from me and unknowable numbers of other New Jerseyans who have taken to heart warnings never to click on links in emails. Disgraceful. Maybe we should mount a class-action lawsuit.) I think I have since seen a mailbox of about the same dimensions outside a Citizen [Social] Services office in East Orange.
I publicly denounced the proposal some years back to build a new football stadium for Rutgers at taxpayer expense (and in fact I don't know if one was built; I heard nothing further, so have assumed it was not built). I am, with this new information about intercollegiate sports costing each Rutgers student $1,000 a year, confirmed in my extreme hostility to NJ colleges' wasting taxpayer and student money on intercollegiate sports.
This is a handsome blockfront near the State House.
Some time is also taken out of Chasing New Jersey's half hour for weather. Somebody please tell Audrey Puente that it's bér.nerdz.vìl, not ber.nórdz.vil.
(F) You'd think that with all the money the flashy but superficial television program Chasing New Jersey must cost to make (tho I assume it costs less than would a scripted entertainment show), the producers could have created something more worthy of being watched. Some of the on-air personalities are pleasant-looking, but the physical beauty of staffers is rarely or never, for any viewer, male or female, gay or straight, enuf to keep people watching any TV show.
This multiply bent fence seemed out of place in that block.
(G) The program runs constant, revolting NOISE / music under almost every SECOND of key features of the program. Sometimes the music is just a rumble of drums and/or bass-fiddle strums, almost undetectable. But it's there, and it offends me. It can be loud enuf to interfere with the spoken words that are supposed to be heard over those tones. That too is STUPID. We tune in for information, not drums.
This red-brick street in good repair shows one of the classier features of this old city.
(H) Chasing New Jersey is not above a bit of antigay bigotry. On August 9th, the producers assigned a woman to turn in a disgraceful my-God-what-is-happening!? story about possible gay sexual activity at a scenic overlook somewhere off a major highway, as tho heterosexuals never have sex in (semi-)public areas. No, straight people have never played around in drive-in movies (when such theaters were commonplace) nor the balconies of regular movie theaters, nor behind the bushes in public parks, nor isolated stretches of beach, nor in "lover's lanes". And of course all those street hookers in major cities cater to gay men. Oh, wait. No, they don't. It's all straight people playing around with prostitutes in parked cars on residential streets. Chasing NJ has expressed no indignation about such public or semi-public sexual activities by straight people. One Ronica Cleary did that disgusting, bigoted report, and was joined in her indignation by another woman who doesn't know to mind her own business and realize that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
In eighth grade, in Little Silver (Monmouth County) elementary school, my teacher tested the vocabulary of students and made the point that it is sometimes highly inappropriate to throw around long words, by presenting us with popular sayings recast in polysyllables. One such saying went something like: "Individuals who, perforce, are constrained to reside within vitreous structures of high frangibility, should on no account employ bits of earthy material as projectiles." That's good advice, Chasing NJ. You should avoid what I might call "a-trash-ous", bigoted, and sensationalistic stories in the future.
This building seems in oddly bad condition for what I take to be the offices of a business lobbying group.
Further, CNJ twice invited Joe Piscopo to hold forth on his Rightwing politics. I don't want to hear it. Piscopo is an entertainer, not pundit. Who cares about his politics? Nor do I want a "registered Democrat" saying that Christie is exactly the kind of person we need as President. Change your registration, Piscopo. You are not a Democrat.
This clock looks good, but it doesn't work. It was actually about a quarter to 6pm when I took this foto.
Entertainment Rather than Infotainment? Maybe a scripted entertainment program (e.g., sitcom) would be a better fit for New Jersey for the 10:00-10:30 timeslot on channel 9, in that there have been entirely too few written TV shows set in NJ. The last I can recall was Chelsea Handler's odd and unsuccessful Are You There, Chelsea?, which lasted a single season on NBC. To the extent that channel 9 regards itself, or at least presents itself, as a New Jersey station, surely it could itself produce or at least commission entertainment programs set in (and, ideally, created in) New Jersey, with authentic New Jersey actors, writers, directors, and crafts workers (cameramen, sound technicians, film/tape editors, caterers). Set up studios in Newark. There were studios for the New Jersey Network on Park Place that may still be in place. And there may well be large, abandoned factories in various parts of Newark, but esp. in the area east of the Ironbound, that could easily be reshaped into studios. There's also plenty of room in existing buildings in Newark for producers' offices, editing rooms, etc. Had Newark's channel 13 not been stolen by New Yorkers, WNET could also commission or produce NJ-based entertainment programs.
Education seems an important part of the Downtown Trenton scene, as shown by these five pix of Edison College. Thomas Edison was heavily invested in New Jersey. His first laboratory was in Newark. He later moved to Menlo Park (in what is now Edison Township; now, how did he know to move to a municipality that would one day bear his name?) and then West Orange.
You'd think that New Jersey could serve as the setting for many TV shows, given its relatively large population, enormous variety of visual and demograffic characteristics (urban and suburban settings, even rural locales but near-in to cities; shore communities — with beautiful people in bathing suits — and sophisticated big cities (Newark in particular, of course), and types of people (blacks (or, to use the pretentious euphemism "African-American"; you don't need a euphemism for something unless there's something wrong with the usual term, and there's nothing wrong with the term "black people"); ethnic whites, with all of NJ's Italians and Poles; Hispanics, mainly from Puerto Rico but also from the Dominican Republic, Cuba, now Mexico, and other parts of Latin America, which gives range for meetings and conflicts between older and newer Latin communities (e.g., PR vs. Mexico or Ecuador). But of course you would need writers who know both cultures to articulate comic misunderstandings.
Similarly, gifted writers could make much of NJ's blacks of many origins, from the U.S. South in recent generations, the English-(and patois-)speaking West Indies, French-(and creole-)speaking Haiti, and various nations of West, East, and Southern Africa; plus Edison Township's Indo-Pak community; and various concentrations of Southern and East Asians, be it Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis; Filipinos, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese; or others hither and yon. NJ's population has to be among the most diverse in the Nation, if not even world.
This public clock at Edison State works.
What a wealth of themes and storylines New Jersey's multitudinous communities could afford the national TV audience, but only as set forth by writers intimately familiar with more than one culture.
For instance, in Vailsburg (my neighborhood, in far-western Newark), a house directly across the street from me is occupied by Liberians (Liberia is the nation on the Atlantic coast of West Africa founded by freed slaves from the United States), while the bulk of our neighbors are from or descended from people who fled the U.S. South. About half a mile away, on South Orange Avenue, there are Haitian and Francofone (French-speaking) African churches. What happens when a black boy from an English-speaking Southern family meets a black girl from French-speaking Haiti or Senegal? Tho I am homosexual, I posit first a heterosexual situation, which would be somewhat more common — tho there is surely room in the New World of television that I can envision, for a gay couple whose interactions, dramatic or comic, might indeed prove very intriguing for both writer and audience. Writers nowadays must keep their mind open. And writers of different types must feel they don't have to leave New Jersey to make their mark. The personal IS the universal.
What of the friends of this black (or gay) couple of different origins? Are they all of the same ethnic group, or mixed up in wild profusion — U.S. black, West Indian black, Haitian black, African (English-speaking) black, African (French-speaking) black; Portuguese white (Newark has the largest Portuguese-speaking community outside a Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) country on Earth), Brazilian white/mixed-race; and New Jersey's base stock of (white) Italians, Irish, Polish, English, Scottish, Dutch, and myriad combinations of all those racial and ethnic origins and their associated religions (Catholic, Episcopalian, white Baptist, black Baptist, Church of God in Christ, Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovah's Witnesses, Scottish Presbyterian, Dutch Reformed, even the odd Mormon, esp. now that we have a great big Mormon Church on Orange Street), all mixed up in a swirl of differences and strivings to understand everyone's differences and get along.
One of the plaks on the Edison building indicates an earlier use or is it just earlier name? for that building.
That would seem to me an inexhaustible source of comedy and insight, and all of it could, with absolutely no exaggeration or falsification, be set in Newark, a city of great variety. Apart from the public schools, where younger kids of different groups might meet, tho residential segregation (voluntary and involuntary) is commonplace in Newark, as in most parts of this country, Newark's enormous college population, 45,000+ students in multiple vocational, junior, senior, and graduate institutions (equal to 16% of the city's population), would provide a means by which young people who reside in different communities might meet and interact, then bring home their newfound friends, whereupon everyone would find how different their homes really are — all the while they live within a country that officially welcomes difference, but often has trouble with it.
I would like to see the offerings of gifted writers working with these themes. I don't see these kinds of themes in U.S. sitcoms or dramas generally (tho I detest, so do not watch, most dramas, most of which nowadays revolve around crime and sado-masochistic cruelty), and esp. do I not see programs set in Newark, NJ, the perfect place for almost any kind of television entertainment. Newark has almost every kind of person and cultural encounter/conflict that creative people could turn into superlative entertainments.
I found visually interesting this warren of street signs.
It's not the setting that is lacking, but writers capable of bringing to life each of these intrinsically interesting communities. Actually, it might not even be a dearth of talent on the part of writers from these groups, but a total lack of imagination on the part of the executives of production companies, who reject out of hand setting anything in a place other than Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Miami, or some other major focus of pre-existing national attention.
I suspect this is a defect of people in television, in that there are many films set in 'exotic' American locales, be it sparsely populated American-Indian reservations in the Southwest or Montana, or a black-populated island off the coast of South Carolina. Could an Indian reservation in New Mexico serve as the setting for a TV comedy or drama series broadcast(ed) on a major network? Probably not. How about a series set in Charleston, SC? Maybe, but there would have to be a lot more going for it than horsedrawn carriages and Southern charm.
Nice turn of phrase on "café au lait".
Producers of sitcoms could create wonderful intercommunal and interracial comedies that draw upon mutual unfamiliarity and bigotry. Producers of cop shows could, alas, always deal with Newark's big-city crime problems, as either scripted entertainments or reality shows (tho I would greatly prefer that crime not be the center of any program set in Newark). Reality shows could deal with the aspirations of Newark's young would-be singing stars, dancers, and actors, auditioning in NJPAC or Symphony Hall, or following several kids in the Newark Boys Chorus School. I'm not a producer, so need not provide more specifics as to what this compáct but multifarious municipality could offer television producers.
I chanced to see this four-wheel All Terrain Vehicle in Downtown Trenton. Little did I know at the time that Trenton has, according to a report in the first week of Chasing New Jersey, developed a major problem with lawless drivers of vehicles that were not really intended to be driven on public streets, and which terrorize motorists on the streets of Trenton. The CNJ report showed young men without helmets doing wheelies and otherwise taking their lives in their hands on the streets of Trenton. You can see in this picture that I happened to take four years ago that the ATV, which is moving away from me, is on the wrong side of the street. The government of that sadly diminished city — it was fine when I was a child, in the 1950s and early 60s — has given orders to pay no attention to such antics because Trenton police (and the State Troopers who may supplement them) have 'better things to do'. This is the opposite of the zero-tolerance policy on minor infractions enacted in NYC on the proposition that you have to tamp down on relatively minor things to prevent the rise of a culture of chaos. NYC's approach seems wiser and more effective than letting the small stuff go — and still failing to control the big things.
I think Americans — and, probably even more, foreign audiences in many countries — are ready for entertainment programs set in Newark that explore the multitudinous comedic possibilities of groups of people who know little about each other but are willing to learn. Or not. Bigotry can be laffable too (think about Archie Bunker's many run-ins with changes that he wasn't raised to deal with).
I wanted to see what the Capital Center looked like from across the river, so found a (flimsy, low-speed) bridge to a part of Morrisville, PA with some folk art outdoors.
I am not a creative writer. My one foray into comedy writing, at the request of two kids I met at an audition for an Off-(Off-)Broadway play when I too was young, and thought about a career in entertainment, was a disaster. I can ad-lib the occasional clever and amusing remark, but not write an extended comic scene.
I have repeatedly learned from the multitudinous failures, and minor humiliations, that I have suffered in my 68 years. As long as you don't hold out unreasonable expectations when you go into a venture, it can be salutary to fail miserably at something you are not suited to. Indeed, it may be that we learn what we are truly suited to only by trying and failing at other things. Thus, failure can be a good thing, in helping us narrow down from what we think we might like to do, to what we can actually do reasonably well.
As regards a setting for any TV show or film, Newark has distinctive skyscrapers, economically devastated precincts (tho not as many, and not as devastated, as some people might think), and leafy, semi-suburban neighborhoods, all within a compáct footprint that film crews could move about widely within, in a single day, with gritty scenes of graffiti-marred wastes in the morning but elegant big houses, or even mansions on Clifton Avenue and other parts of Forest Hill in the afternoon.
It may be that outsiders, from Hollywood and New York, will not appreciate the wealth of settings and situations that Newark could afford. Perhaps someone born and raised in Newark needs to do his or her own scouting of locations, recruitment of writers and actors, and all the other work that large entertainment companies do for major TV networks and film studios.
Newark does have a (modest) office for film production, [http://bcdcnewark.org/business-development/business-climate/newark-office-film-television/] but government cannot create an entertainment genius, nor even coax one out of obscurity by providing opportunities for the individual to shine. A single extraordinary person, a Woody Allen, Spike Lee, or Martin Scorsese, setting up shop in Newark, could change the whole world's thinking about Newark and bring in other films and TV shows. Local or state government could make the emergence of such extraordinary people a tad easier, but I can't think of a single instance in which a government program brought so extraordinary a creative person to stardom.
The Delaware must be wider than I had thought, because the State House looks very small from its far side.
Newark's strengths are, to me, self-evident. To a Newark-born or -raised screenwriter or actor, Newark might also seem the perfect place for any number of films or TV shows of different genres. But it might take a film or TV executive of extraordinary vision and intelligence to see any of this. Starting locally, with a program seen on only one station, such as MyNine, rather than aspiring to a national network spot from the get-go, might be the way to grow an entertainment company in Newark.
This picture required zoom in my camera. The State House looks nowhere near as large to the naked eye.
Temporary Program Only? Promos for Channel 9's fall season mention some other program as taking over the 10pm timeslot as of September 23rd. Does that mean that Chasing New Jersey goes off the air on that date? Or is Chasing New Jersey to be pushed back to 10:30pm or moved to some other part of the day altogether? I don't know. I also don't know that it would be tragic if Chasing New Jersey were to disappear.