Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Construction Coils

The main entrance to the Hoboken Path reopened but construction continues; they’re refurbishing the PATH station there or so the signs say. They seem to redoing a large chunk of it, which also meant replacing independent eateries with chains, but lets what opens when those parts reopen. Now the transition period lingers. Funny thing about construction, no matter high tech the rest of life becomes, construction always seems old fashioned, post-steam punk.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Van Neste Square Bus Terminal Pay Phones


Ridgewood is an upscale, leafy suburb with a recently renovated NJ Transit train station, but its so called bus station, The Van Neste Square Bus Terminal, must be one of the most dilapidated in the state. The pictures on the internet make it look pristine, but’s a basically a rundown shack. But, this rundown shack does have a working pay phone.

Bergen Taxi sticker on the pay phone; you know at least once this sticker and this pay phone saved somebody’s life. I’m in Ridgewood, my car won’t start and my cellphone battery is dead and all the bars are closed and I shouldn’t be driving anyway because I helped close them. You know this happened at least once, so the persistent presence of pay phones pays off.

I went outside to take a picture of the shack and what do I see on one of the exterior walls but another pay phone!

 The Van Neste Square Bus Terminal may have seen better days but it still has two Pay Phones!

Hoboken Memorial Day Flags

Flags and fresh wreaths decorated the entrance of the Hoboken Park, which is adjacent to the Erie Lackawanna Train Station, and offers specular views of the Capital of the World, Manhattan.

Hoboken the plaque notes was a major embarkation point for the dough boys sent over there, World War I. The names of the sons of Hoboken who missed the Jazz Age and the Great Depression are listed.

Around the base of the flag pole across from the WWI Not Forgotten is emblazoned on a monument. More sons of Hoboken are listed here, paid the ultimate sacrifice as politicians love to remind us. Memorial Day we remember them, or at least say we do.

The irony is that both World War I and the Vietnam War only made the military industrial complex more profits. Both conflicts could and should have been avoided, basically resulting from poor political leadership in America, our Allies and our Adversaries. Our leaders lacked the necessary political will to bring out about peace, war resulted, civilian populations suffered, protestors against the war were persecuted and after the military conflicts concluded, nothing was accomplished accept further hardship and the potential for more war, a potential whose reality was all too soon fulfilled.

I do not, but some say these things about all Wars. For World War I and Vietnam, there is simply no doubt. They were a waste of life and many at the time offered alternatives to war that went unheeded.  History is quite clear about the debacle that led to and resulted from World War I and Vietnam, two of the most bloody military conflicts our Nation has fought, both of which introduced new, more deadly and violent forms of warfare. I am convinced those Hoboken boys listed on those monuments were worth a hundred of any of the political and military leaders of both eras who made the decisions that cost them their lives. Two high a price to pay.

Between these two monuments is a fountain, actually a sprinkler. I never saw it in action before. A couple of toddlers in bathing suits were running around the spouting war having just a fun old time. I thought it would make a good picture of one memorial from another as seen through the jets of water. But the water was too thick, and one monument was not visible from the other.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

2nd Street Tortoise

The 2nd Street Tortoise was out for a walk. This specular turtle is a wood tortoise from Africa, although his owner could not remember the exact name of the species. He’s eight years old, mainly a vegan, eats grass, occasionally insects. He was lively and feisty, enjoying the sun. I have to go inside, I want to film the Santa Cruzan procession from my roof, he said. What a beautiful Tortoise.

Santa Cruzan

The Filipino Community does not let solemnity interfere with a joyful celebration of a spiritual holiday. I’ve written about last year’s Santa Cruzan here, and the year before, here. I went into some of the customs of the holiday more in depth in those previous posts.
God, Gold and Glory was why Spanish colonized the new world, at least that was what the Sisters of Charity taught me in Grammar School, although later study of the Spanish empire indicated the order of the three G’s should be revised. But they certainly spread their Catholicism and Santa Cruzan festivals accompanied the conversions; yet the Philippines seem to be the only former Spanish colony that carries on this tradition, giving it a distinctive Pacific stamp.
The Month of May is the Month of Mary, the Blessed Virgin, Mother of our lord, and Santa Cruzan coincides with the Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May) festival, which concludes the Month, which is why fresh flowers adorned the many statues that were part of the procession. Each statue represented a different Blessed Mother incarnation.
Jersey City has a strong Filipino community – part of Grove Street is named Manila Avenue – and while Santa Cruzan is a celebration of the culture, it is really a multicultural event. The different Blessed Mother statues come from an array of cultures.
The weather was mostly sunny, summer-ry. A Street fair with noticeably more vendors than last year’s event took up much of Second Street east of Erie. In addition to the authentic Philippine cuisine, and some of the usual sellers of knick-knacks, crafts, t-shirts, face painting and temporary tattoos, I noticed more corporate marketing than I ever saw at a Street Fair. I guess their presence is a combination of them wanting to reach the lucrative J.C. market and street fair organizers needing more money in the coffers. Are those vendors any worse than the folks handing out mayoral fliers for the 2013 race? Since Santa Cruzan is sort of the unofficial start of the Summer Street Fair season, I imagine this trend will only escalate. At the end of 2nd street the Department of Public Works Mobile Band shell was stationed. At one point a guy and three young women led the crowd in a new dance. The fellow said they were filming a video. Then the women went into the crowd and gave out yellow tote bags; it was a sponsorship deal.
The festivities began with a festive mass at St. Mary’s church. It was the rare religious service that was solemn and fun; sweet voices and strumming guitars delivered the sacred songs and then the mass concluded with the procession where the full pageantry of the holiday was on display. It was a multi-generational extravaganza; women of all ages wore stunning summer gowns flowing with taffeta and lace. A man played Immaculate Mary on the Accordion. The procession went north on Erie then South on Manila, back to the church, the street fair and the annual multigenerational, multicultural party the Filipino community throws for Jersey City.