Friday, October 28, 2011

Saint Jude Novena

Happy Saint Jude Feast Day!

Saint Jude is known as the saint of lost causes and desperate situations. Congratulations to everybody completing the Saint Jude Novena.

This prayer tradition takes place at Saint Michael Church
on 9th street. This Jersey City tradition dates back to the 1930s, here’s some history & mystery about Saint Jude in Jersey City.
From the General Epistle of Saint Jude
20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy
faith, praying in the Holy Ghost.



Gospel of Saint John, XIV

22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

23 Jesus answered and said unto him, he will keep my words: my father will love him, and he will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

25 These things I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.

26 But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.



Help me to live with faith
in the promise that God is always with us.
Help me to live with hope
that God will bring us through our pain and suffering.
Help me to live with love
so I can bring Christ’s light to others.

From Novena Meditations to Saint Jude, Liguori Press

Thursday, October 20, 2011

McGinley Square

McGinley Square, is south of Journal Square. I may have been there once before. It’s named after a Monsignor who built the church and school, Saint Aedan. The square portion, set off from the splendor of the domed Saint Aedan’s and the couple of blocks of urban (i.e. ghetto-fabulous aka what Downtown used to be like) shops, had some pigeons and these two interesting monuments, direclty opposite each other in the circle in the middle of the corner that is in all likelihood, the “square”. New controvesy has come to McGinley Square; the developers are going to get busy. Apparently the eminent domain issue has been resolved, bribes have been allotted, and construction will begin in 2010, so they say, or is it hope? The monuments and the pigeons will likely survive.






Sunday, October 16, 2011

American Dream


An empty, grassy lot, I think on Montgomery Street. Great lettering on The American Dream. Seems sort of placed there for this provocative photo, behind the fence. Is the American Dream doomed because it fails to admit that it includes a fence or is the American Dream failed because the fence is an undeniable fact? Great juxtaposition, made to be photographed. The American Dream, we all have it but what they forget to mention is that mine is not the same as yours. America is not a dream. It’s an idea.

Occupy Journal Square























Depressing and unpleasant, I am sad to report, was my experience visiting Occupy Journal Square. As readers know, I am supportive of Occupy Wall Street, having blogged about it here, the October 5th demonstration here, and how Jersey City was supporting them here. I consider myself a New Deal Democrat. This movement gives me hope.



Except for a short stint in the Lower East Side of NYC, I’ve lived in New Jersey all my life. And my experience has been that by and large, people from New Jersey, not all, just the majority, have their heads so far up their asses that…fill in the blank.

The head up their ass part is the main constant. Luckily, many have other attributes than their brains being placed deep inside their rectums.

Jersey City is to New York City what Canada is to the United States, the pretty good, e-for-effort place that is forever overshadowed by the last great hope for mankind.

At first glance, that’s what I thought when I saw their encampment, outside of an empty lot where a construction project, knocked down an urban strip mall in the name of development and now has been temporarily abandoned.

Some people folding a tarp, what looked like food was on other table, a few books in a library; it was a miniaturized mimic of Occupy Wall Street. Endearing, at first. Sitting Bull stenciled on American Flag. We are the 99 percent signs. Right on… but… Unlike other places in America or New Jersey, at JSQ you can take a 10 minute Path ride to the real Occupy Wall Street, which the whole world is watching.

JSQ a smaller occupation, less than a dozen were there when I stopped by on Sunday afternoon. I was happy to see it actually happen. A rag tag bunch – I clicked like on their Facebook page – attempted an occupy last week, tried to occupy Colgate park at Exchange Place, but the rumor was that our dipshit Governor ordered the JCPD to barricade. This was just implied in the press, who didn’t bother to get a police confirmation or even quote. Anyway, they tried it at Grove Street Path, on a Thursday, when there’s a Green Market. They pissed off the green market vendors, who told me business was off 40 percent. Where occupiers go police follow. So they wound up at Journal Square, been there almost a week.

I wish I could say right on. One of the controversies of this movement is that it is leaderless and there is no single message – the majority of the messages revolve around issues of Economic Justice, which I am generally an enthusiastic supporter of. But there are tangential and unrelated messages, a minority to be sure, but I feel they can turn people off, even highjack what is trying to be accomplished. At Journal Square, my fears were realized. Several signs were not just turn offs but all I could think of was how easily they could be used by those who oppose economic change too squelch the movement.

Obama is Wall Street was a particularly infuriating one. I mean, do they think McCain would be better, less Wall Street?

Oh he’s just a rock star, it doesn’t matter who is president, I was told.

Huh? Another sign was End Palestine Occupation. Whoa! Where does Israel/Palestine issues come into to the need for U.S. economic reform? That is not a criticism of Israel government or military policies, which I am critical of, nor is it supporting a two state solution. Israel does not have the right exist is the message being sent there, not a return to the 1967 borders. It’s an anti-Semitic statement.

End The Fed Now was another one. For some reason I see this sentiment only in New Jersey Occupy stuff, at least on Facebook. It’s an immature and anti-intellectual statement. Change the Fed, sure, but I mean, what about the FDIC? The Federal Bank is different than the bailout of Wall Street or the fact there hasn’t been prosecution of the bankers who caused our financial mess or unjustly foreclosing on homes. What is that about?

How could I even ask the question an JSQ occupier responds: Do you see how the media is ignoring Ron Paul.

How are they ignoring him? He is allowed to debate with those other republican maniacs, his platform is on the internet. He spouts idiocy, is my opinion.

Oops. The wrong opinion.

So, Occupy JSQ has Ron Paul supporters? WTF?


Global Warming doesn't exist was the next part of his platform. It is a myth perpetuated by Al Gore because he is making money off carbon credits.


So, pollution so has no impact on the environment?


On the environment, but not on the planet.


Interesting distinction.

This dude is wearing a 911 was an inside job t-shirt. I got him started. His argument is that the way the towers imploded proves that Al Queda is media fantasy and Bin Laden a CIA agent.

Seriously, he was serious.

I said what about all the Fatwas issued by Al Queda during the 90s, but the attacks on the Korbel Towers, Tanzania, the Cole. What do they have to do with 9-11?

Huh? They don’t prove that al queda was around before that September?

Seriously, what an infuriating conversation. I never met a 9-11 Inside Job person before, I heard they existed, but nothing can prepare one for encountering the real thing. Conspiracy theorists. Good lord. Of course, he had not been camping there, although he told me people had. He hadn’t attended the New York Saturday rallies.

I was afraid for them, JSQ can be a dangerous place after nightfall. I’m not afraid of the neighborhood, I’m afraid of the police, they have itchy trigger fingers, he said. Sort of a douchey thing to say. He was not camping out, he was just there representing. Ugh.

That’s my experience there at JSQ. Solidarity in my heart, totally for the movement, and I meet Head up their ass Jersey ites – the same lame brains I have known and been ashamed of being from the same state for my entire life.

Ugh!

9-11 was an inside job? Anti-Israel statements?

Ugh!

I asked if any of Jersey City union members came by to show support, I was told no.

Who can blame them?

So, I still support Occupy Wall Street. In the abstract, I still support Occupy Journal Square. But in reality, OJSQ is an embarrassment. Dopes and nut-jobs was my impression, none of the intelligent, engaging discussions one has at Freedom Park.

Occupy Journal Square seems emblematic of the challenge this movement faces. The lack of specificity also means anyone can latch on to the protest to further their own agenda. That’s what I saw happening in JSQ, at least the Sunday I came by. If somebody wants to believe 9-11 was an inside job, inspite of the facts, have at it. But it seems to me to be a dangerous distraction to the change Occupy Wall Street proposes. Welcome to New Jersey! Luckily, the movement that gives me hope was only a PATH train ride away.







Friday, October 14, 2011

Custom Mask

These are hand-made, custom masks by Benjamin R. Miller, which he sells at Creative Grove. He said that he was drawing on his training in theater. The masks resembled those eerie face covers often used in Greek Tragedy. They caught my eye.

He is not just selling the masks – a product – he is also selling a service. He is customizing Halloween costumes for adults and children, which can feature these masks which are made to the wearer’s face. We’ve seen the masquerade and the masquerade is you!

Contact Ben Miller at info@benmiller.info
















Music is Benjamin R. Miller full-time job. He’s a musician of some renowned – he was with Destroy All Monsters, a band I remember hearing about but never heard or saw. They were around back in the hey day of the No Wave or there abouts, which followed Punk and New Wave, an avante garde music movement in downtown 80s NYC, from which the Lounge Lizards, and Sonic Youth, perhaps the best known of the bunch, emerged.

Here is his website: www.benmiller.info














Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Treesouls



Do we emerge from nature or do we return to nature – or both – thought of that when I saw this lovely, arbor-oriented couple trying to put down roots in Madison Square Park, near the Flatiron district. A little scary, but also compellingly blunt. Camille Paglia that sex is the nature in all of us, and nature is inevitable. For some reason the squirrel (look closer) rummaging near the roots on the lawn reinforced the inevitability. This sculpture is called Treesouls – according to this website – and is by Alison Saar, who is also doing in the park Feallan and Fallow, a six-piece installation inspired by the ancient myth of Persephone. I’m not sure if the project is there in a another part of the park and I didn’t see it or if it is not yet installed. Is this Adam and Eve trapped or freed or maybe, when it comes to the earth and mortality, there is no difference. Our accepted nomenclature falls short. Here’s something on the artist

Monday, October 10, 2011

Illegible Sky Writing

Be prepared to squint. No, these aren’t narrow bands of nimbus, not accidental letters formed by clouds. There is a plane in the sky spewing this script. Saw this yesterday somewhere in the sky twixt Newport and Power House, a sky writer. I can’t remember the last time I saw something like that, I don’t think ever round these parts. The pilot didn’t mean to scribble. There was just enough breeze, especially the closer you get to the stratosphere, that legibility just couldn’t be maintained. Or maybe skywriting is such a lost art that the pilot couldn’t manage the words. What do you call illegible skywriting – air pollution? But it’s like life sometimes feels, racing to get your message out but that message evaporates so quickly that it makes no sense, disappearing before you even finish.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bricks, Like Laid


Jersey City can be like a pile of bricks. But we don’t need bricks to lay bricks. Old Rail Road & Jersey Avenue corners got some new brick in the street – so soon after being paved – you wonder. Actually, it’s a minor form of alchemy: transmuting asphalt into brick. Not brick stone, brick asphalt. Remember way back last year, another faux brick company put heated grates into the asphalt and formed brick shapes which were then painted brick red. Thus bricks fell on Newark Ave. I assume a similar process is going on here but it sure seems more involved than the brick crosswalk asphalt transformation pf 2010. More guys, an extra step of some kind with cement. The bricks look the same, and even feel the same; just like they were laid.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Silver Rocking Horse

The Silver Rocking Horse – Silver is not its natural color – was first seen on the veranda of the Warehouse, a local, independently owned coffee shop known for its lively staff and their ability to brew an exceptional Chai Tea Soy lattĂ©.

During the J.C. Studio Tour, the horse was moved to the empty lot, looks a little surreal and lonely but in fact, it was a protest. This lot reportedly has been sold to a developer and a 40 story building is planned. I have no way of checking this fact. Actually, there are plenty of ways but I don’t have time to check this fact. The protest, though subtle, argues that the neighborhood should retain its industrial city look and not have structures that clash with that aesthetic. I wish of course they would bring back the freight trains, have the warehouses and factories start producing again, but shoot, where would they put the cafĂ© if that came to pass?
Also during the tour, this colorful, graffiti-inspired mural was erected on the fence around the grassy field. Taking back the neighborhood, echoes the intention of the silver rocking horse protest.

Solidarity & Hope









A dream is coming true. That’s how I felt, standing in Foley Square, watching tens of thousands, the vast majority union workers but also students and fringy groups, heading en masse to Occupy Wall Street. A statement was being made. Unions were not just represented. They were represented in force. According to the N.Y. Times, Transport Workers Union, the Service Employees International Union, the United Federation of Teachers and the United Auto Workers were represented. I also saw a Nursing Union Sign. Finally, the long hoped for, dreamt about coalition between progressives and labor.











I hemmed and hawed all day, thinking of reasons not to leave work early to see the demonstration.

I’m just not a protest person, unless you count going to a Central Park for Nuclear Freeze Rally in the 80s and an Earth Day in the 90s.

But Occupy Wall Street has fired my imagination and filled me with hope.

My optimism was only confirmed and increased by the Foley Square to Freedom Park March of Solidarity. I was teary eyed with joy. October 5th was a historical day and one hopes a positive turning point in both the movement and awareness of the need of economic justice in our country.

I first went to what I thought was Foley Square Park, which is actually City Hall Park (it’s the park closest to the great JR). There seemed to be no activity.

Then I went to the Liberty Park. It was a like Student Commons, at least three times more crowded than it had been last week. The energy level was higher, signs were plentiful, in full view, clever, funny, thought provoking.

On one end was a drum circle, rocking steady beats and the other end, kids were sitting in lotus positions and chanting OM. Others were just hanging out, talking, playing chess; they were being young for a good cause. I dug the people, dug the signs. But where were the Union Members?

I was reassured, they are coming, permits were granted.

They will be marching from Foley Square. Where was Foley Square? (Except for a five block radius around my apartment, I have no sense of direction).













































There’s a message on cell-phone, my friend, Debra, die-hard New York liberal who also has been captivated by Occupy Wall Street. She tells me lots of people are here, just walk up Broadway, you’ll find it.

Foley Square is right in front of City Hall. It’s the 6th Train stop. I’ve been there before, but only half a ba-zillion times so my disorientation is understandable.

Anyway... tens of thousands were behind barriers. The vibe can only be described as energized joy. Then they began to march. Tons and tons of people.

I met Johanna holding a sign quoting Henry Wallace, who was a pre-Truman Vice President for FDR, who then launched a third party bid for the presidency. We talked a bit, she told me she was named after Visions of Johanna, so of course I recited a few lyrics. What is happening? Lovely young women named after Dylan songs holding signs about semi-obscure labor history moments of the early to mid 20th century. I am in the heaven Tom Joad implies exists at the end of Grapes of Wrath.

I felt like I was dreaming, and unlike the eight years of the Bush administration, this was no nightmare. It was the opposite of nightmare.

I felt incredibly happy. My dream has been for a new coalition, between labor and the splintered progressive groups to join together and bring back the New Deal. Today was the first time I saw a glimmer of that dream come true. The police sanctioned off streets, implemented crowd control that would reduce any possibility of a large group swelling in any one place. But they could not suppress the feeling shared and it seemed most of the cops, union members themselves, were supportive.

































































Occupy Wall Street has been criticized for not having specific demands, yet.

I think this will ultimately prove to be their greatest strength. They already command the symbols of debate by its location – Wall Street, the literal and symbolic center of Corporate Greed Bush-era policies empowered to rape and pillage the middle class – and by doing so, while not formulating the specific issues of the debate, they have defined the parameters of the discussion. The demands discussion can now begin on their – our – terms.

On the downside, the messages have diversified. One woman had this weird doll, said Screw You Alabama. What does Alabama have to do with Wall Street? This was against the new immigration law passed by the state, she explained, the doll was Dora the Explorer dressed like a Mexican. What? Dora is no Pipi Longstocking! Is it really wise to bring in immigration issues? I felt the same way about a Stop Fracking Sign. Another group called Revolution, purportedly were communists, I think they were a hoax. Another group was self-declared socialist – talk about a buzz words the right can latch onto to criticize this event and justify a crackdown by law enforcement. Another was for the N.Y. Green Party – gee, they’ve been an effective bunch! It seems these individuals were not forming a coalition, or expressing solidarity; they were using the event to promote their own agenda. The potential threat is that they can appear to embody this political movement.

At this time, that potential is small since it seemed way less than 5 percent of the visible signage. Most of the signs were different riffs on the overriding theme – Economic Justice! Rob, who has been sleeping there, aid that the organizers are aware of the potential of these messages hijacking the movement.

He also said the police are becoming more strict about sleeping bags, mattresses and tarps; they’re trying to make the occupation as uncomfortable as possible. A turning point is coming. But today indicates that turning point could turn in a positive direction. I don’t want to be a cynic, or such a realist that I abandon optimism.

Still, I wanted to see the melding of the two groups, the neo new left and the neo union movement, finally joining hands at Liberty Park. That didn’t quite happen to the extent my by then overly optimistic expectations envisioned. Seemed the union folks went to the park then went home. The kumbuyah moment where everyone held hands and sang classics form the Almanac Singers songbook did not occur. I had the feeling that when the march ended, the two groups were still trying to figure out what to make of each other. I don’t really having pictures of them together because my camera stop working, sorry. But, the first step was made.

A kinship was acknowledged, and around that acknowledgement a coalition can coalesce. Also, Unions have declared support and by doing so, augment the seriousness this demonstration Will they be here tomorrow, stay overnight, join in the twice daily marches in front of the stock exchange? Maybe solidarity can be expressed in a more effective way. There’s an Occupy New Jersey now, an Occupy Wall Street in other cities. Hope was kept alive on October 5th 2011, in and of itself, a remarkable accomplishment.