Monday, April 2, 2012

Year Three: Reflections

See last year’s reflections

Three years. Like sands in an hour glass – oh screw that, if the days of our lives are indeed like sand then it’s more like a windstorm than an hourglass when it comes to the pace of change. That speed increases as you age: the whirlwind becomes a whirlpool and you go down the drain, hopefully washing up on the other shore.

Guess I proved the lack of elasticity in the insipid time as sands metaphor.

This is the third anniversary of Dislocations, my blog project. Thank you all for reading, thank you for some of your comments. The nasty ones, which are few but do show up, I just delete.

God Bless you all.

I apologize again for the lousy copy editing. There have been several doozies and typos. I cringe sometimes when I go back. But I am simply one human being and sadly all too human. I am willing to consider offering an unpaid internship, drop me an email if you or someone you know is interested.

A friend of my mine pointed out that this is the best blog about Jersey City. Well, best I don’t know but there sure are not a lot of them, not as many as you would think.

I explained Dislocations is merely set in Jersey City; this blog is “about” the burden of Mortality. I was probably just being factious. I had been reading a lot of Harold Bloom. He says that all literature is about the burden of mortality. He can be prone to overstatement, in spite or because of his brilliance. I have aspirations beyond the blog but the blog is just such damn fun.

Jersey City inspires our imaginaitions and gives us all a prism through which we may better comprehend our nation, where we are in history and how our selves are being impacted by the human condition we all share. Jersey City is a muse. I prefer to think of it as another means to attain the universal. The reason it is so frequent a means for me is that I live here. It is where the “I” is currently dislocated, and what the eye sees the “I” ponders. To paraphrase Whitman, Jersey City is a boat filled with boats.

I love this city, yet when any of my friends and fellow J.C. residents professes likewise I can only think of reasons that will dissuade them of such a notion. Has this city changed, well, yes and no. I think the question is how much of the change is due to the changes in the world, and in ourselves. I’m against change but change is master of us all. Thus the burden of mortality, death is the inevitable change we all share. Might as well as make the most of this life and the place in which you live it, your little piece of the human story… and the American story.

More so than rural communities or suburbs, the city is another person in the lives of city dwellers. Jersey City can be slow on the uptake, more discouraging to neutral than neutral to encouraging, has low self esteem and thus is often defensive, but it is also tolerant, friendly and understanding. She may not give you everything you want, but she gives you everything you need and leaves it up to you to ponder how much you really need your wants.

On to my 12 month Dislocations retrospective:

It’s hard to pick a favorite post but here it is, my favorite reads of 2011. I just happened to have read a lot of great books last year – and 2012 has been no slouch either so far – and during the Summer, I spent an intensive six or seven weeks finishing Shakespeare’s oeuvre and this experience affected me deeply and this post was a way to mark that personal turning point.

Except for Antony & Cleopatra, which for whatever reason I never studied as an undergrad (MFA programs are much too cool for Shakespeare), most of the plays during my Summer Shakespeare festival tended towards the lesser known and problem plays, one of which was Timon of Athens. About a week or after absorbing this powerfully written study of the dark side of unreciprocated generosity, I was wandering through Van Vorst Park and I hear Timon lines. The Hudson Shakespeare Company was rehearsing Timon. They did a great production of this rarely performed saga whose financial concerns are so relevant to how we live now.

The Sunday Night Film Forum had its one year anniversary last April and I had much fun writing up the list of films that I thought were the top cinematic experiences. A concept that continues to beguile me is context and subtext, their contrast and where they  mesh. The Film Forum enhanced context. Alas, it is on prolonged hiatus. The original post, according to the blogspot stat page, is one of the highest page views of all Dislocations and nary a weekend passes without a few views on this now two year old post. Every coupla three weeks I’ll run into somebody from the circle of ciniephiles who coalesced around the program and they ask me if I know if it is still going. I know nothing. Alas, J.C.’s Film Forum remains dark. On the other-side, at N.Y.s Film Forum, I had a unique experience of seeing a highly anticipated and rare screening of a Budd Boetticher directed Western starring the great Robert Ryan, but the print had no sound. Yet the film geek brethren watched a sound film without sound, what a unique cinema experience. I also wrote some thoughts on Twilight, a series I find some artistry in, or at least try to justify the guiltiness of this pleasure.

One of the first blogs of Dislocation’s new liturgical year was a memoir piece inspired by an accidental rediscovery of a 1984 Jesse Jackson for President Button. Three years ago, I wanted to avoid politics. I no longer want to. I’ve written several pieces about the Occupy Wall Street Movement, but my favorite is still the first one. I also went to my first “State of the City” speech by our oft-be-leaguered mayor.

Politics, political philosophy, political ideas – this is a presidential election year, we live in an era of upheaval, and what happens nationally will certainly set the table for the mud-fest that will be the 2013 J.C. Mayoral election. How can our local actions affect and hopefully improve our nation and the world? The answer is a moving target and I’ll just take my best shot at any given time.

One of my favorite posts was Destination: Union City. I had never been there. It was a nice day and it was fun town and getting there via jitney buses then back via the light rail. The post was probably a little more amusing to write than to read. Tough shit.

 I try not to repeat myself except for repeating that I try not to repeat myself. I do not want to be some annual repository of JC events. It’s a challenge sometimes, especially since I usually have the ole camera with me and an observation and/or opinion that seems new at the moment. One of the most challenging is the “The Feast” but this year, I did find some new ways to look at the feast, including a particularly well received behind the scenes look at the making of Lemoncello.

I like either looking at what we see all the time but never notice or in this case showing something few have seen.

Then there’s art. Three new murals found their way to our cityscape. Meghan Guilik, a supremely talented illustrator whose work I’ve written about from time to time created the Inner Peace Zone up there in the heights. It’s a reimagining of the JC reservoir through her quirky, rabbit-centric cartoon view of the world. Go to Brunswick to see this more nostalgic work, an impressionistic rendition of memories of the street back in the Italian Village heyday. A currently title-less fantasy of escape adorns a 4th street brick fa├žade.

Memories, dreams, fantasies, aspirations – a tour of this new crop of J.C. murals makes you realizes how flimsy the lines separating those concepts can be.

Sadly, my mural coverage included tragedy, one of the best in town; the great piece by Tom Carlson depicting the Power House District is peeling off the building. I use to go out of my way to view this work, even made a point to show to my cousin when he made a very rare visit into town. J.C. is earning a reputation for its muralists, but as our murals proliferate we need to start thinking about preservation.

This was a fun reception of an artist workshop turned gallery for a night. Another enjoyable art happening happened at Art House and during the annual studio tour, this authentic eccentric had turned in his apartment in to a work of art based somewhat on Kaballah based mysticism. And there was the Laundromat post card project.

My annual (perhaps) ode to smoking.

Here’s some local stuff:  An annual painting of a local shrine, an in-depth reflection in one of our countless puddles, Liberty State Park, a flying back hoe, interesting cemetery discovery, interesting graffiti, new pipes.

Climate change deniers are fools or liars. Oh wait, they may be both. Hurricane Irene ravaged some areas, but not Jersey City. In October, we had the “winter’s” worst snowstorm and a white halloween. The one real snow day I walked the transitional landscape of the Heights and Downtown. The unseasonably hot late winter days made some trees blossom while other branches remained winter stark, a paradox recorded here.

Music: this piece on Clarence Clemmons came out pretty well. This newer post, an analysis of a new Bruce songs and its two antecedents, is the kind of in-depth song analysis I prefer. I also reflected, not for the first time, on Bob Dylan. On the local front, a memorable set by the Ones & Nines, who keep getting better, and finally saw Ladel Mclin live, a genuine bluesman for our new century and some of the best guitar playing I’ve seen, and I’ve seen some of the greats. This was a very unique musical experience, a restored pipe organ concert. Of course, my favorite was the semi-improtu reunion of Any Day Parade, which was more of a party than a concert but these are some seriously talented musicians – at least when together – and Tree Jackson has a beautiful voice and writes great songs. Overall, a racous set but there were many moments of the brilliance their followers remember. Just because they’re local legends doesn’t make them any less legendary.

Jersey City Writer Taylor Swilue passed away this year, a talented cat who was also a good buddy. He battled a terminal illness, when he got out of a round of treatment and things temporarily seemed positive, I wrote this blog. The comment means so much to me. He is much missed.

Changing times: The last video store in Jersey City closing was not as surprising as the fact that there was still one left. Another sign of the new order finally being fully in place came when Hudson Camera finally gave up the Ghost. I had a roll of undeveloped black and white pictures from 9-11 that I got developed for the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. I am the last person to get a BW film developed there, a badge honor that I hold dear. The endless development and re-development that I’ve documented did reveal an exterior of an Italian Deli, Fiore’s, which spurred some memories of going there before it closed in the 90s and was a well received blog post.

A major J.C. news story of 2012 was the Jersey Shore filming in Jersey City. I found it very peculiar that everybody who was opposed knew everything about the show. I’m not a TV watcher but I had an encounter with J-Wow. While I think this is an amusing post, and it is one of the few celebrity posts, I sort of regret how it came out. I was too hard on her.

Anyway, that’s about it. The 12 month nostalgia nickel has run out.Thanks again, let’s see what else unfolds.