Sunday, July 29, 2012

Fish With Braids Gallery Evolves

Fish with Braids has moved out its fishbowl said one attendee of the grand opening of the new space for what has become a Jersey City mainstay even when there was no brick and mortar space to call home. Uta Brauser, who has appeared in Dislocations many times – maybe most notable here – founded the gallery which was housed on Jersey Avenue in a real hole in thewall space, but the gallery closed. Brauser still runs the Friday flea market, Creative Grove, where she also sells her art wares and wears under the Fish with Braid auspices (and canopy).

The new gallery is an expansive. I was there once before for a really swell studio tour show – Exquisite Corpse. Fish with Braids calls one floor of this former warehouse home. Industrial feel, painted over cinderblock and brick and concrete walls and incredibly high ceilings.

Evolve Wear 3 – the third generation of art meets fashion, one of a kind fashion items, called “Wearable Art Expressions”   designed by Uta, Vincent Zambrano, Casimer Alexander, Laura Quattrocchi and Masae Satouchi were displayed. A flapper dress made from what looks like rubber gloves, baby doll heads in a cloud of black lace wisps, jeans and jacket painted with landscape, feathers and plumes sprung from many of the garments and accessories, one dress was made of squid tentacles.

Themes of environmentalism and ecology seemed prevalent. DJPastiche spun techno types beat fitting the Euro, urban/industrial feel. The grand opening’s main event was a fashion show “In Beauty We Walk,” which Uta claimed to be inspired by a Native American Poem. Naturalism was the main theme – one woman wore body paint and what looked like a bird’s claw as a hat, others were dressed in animal pelts – Uta has gained a following for her distinctive hats and creative use of fur. The techno beats echoed filled the air, video footage was projected on the wall as the models combined fashion model struts with modern dance move. It was a performance piece where primitivism and animism erupted, gradually melting what began with under a veneer of a traditional, glitzy fashion show. Erotic, unmistakable feminist, natural power… a visceral and uncompromising environmentalism.   

 A flier explained: “Giving praise to our presence on earth, surrounded by the beauty of all creation. In the sense of environmental preservation, throw away objects find new use. Animal themes bring us in touch with our animal world family and our unconscious.”

Fashion met art. Art won.  Fish with Braids Gallery is not only back in downtown, it is now in space big enough to accommodate  Uta’s ambitions.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Old Glorys Reunite


A semi-impromptu reunion of the Old Glorys featuring Melissa “Tree” Jackson highlighted the annual outdoor barbeque and block party of Lucky 7, a popular tavern on 2nd and Coles. Because of some prior commitments, I wasn’t able to catch the entire show but of course I made the effort to see the set by Tree, which was originally billed as the debut of Small Batch, her new band of Kentuckians.  Clips of them playing have appeared on Facebook, inspiring hopeful expectations. But some last minute scheduling issues for some Small Batch members meant that only Tree would be representing the Blue Grass state, so the Old Glorys were reformed, rising again from The Ashes.

Tree, a key musician of the Jersey City music scene before there was even a scene, moved back to her old Kentucky home of Lexington two years ago. She looked healthy and happy and sported a deep tan (she started a landscaping company down there in Bluegrass Country).

I blogged about The Ashes here. A fine bunch of musicians, this latest edition is edgier, electrified Americana. Its as if a fiddler and a banjo player wandered off their porch and down the mountain one Saturday night to sit in with the house band at the local biker bar.

The Block Party Old Glorys set was energetic, brisk and very ragged. The band had to compete with absurdly loud generators. There seemed to be two of these deafening gizmos, one near the stage and one near the beer truck, about a ¼ of a block away from the stage. Only about the size of a lawn mower and only two (at least I saw only two), they sounded as if there was about a hundred generators on the street. For the musicians, it was like playing on the tarmac when planes are landing and taking off. You could not escape the sound.

The block party was just that, 2nd street was basically cordoned off with temporary barricades for the afternoon. It was a fun, relaxed scene. Chicken and pork were grilled over charcoals and you could smell the sauce in the thick wafts of smoke.  Children played in an inflatable pool.

But the relentless, inescapable roar of the generators echoed between the houses. The music was nice and loud and it drowned out the noise, but the decibel level of the generators was so high that it unnerved, causing an aural discomfort that diminished any sort of listening pleasure. In terms of outdoor production values, this deal was strictly amateur hour.

The musicians told me after the set they couldn’t hear themselves on the stage and it was obvious, and probably accounted for much of the rush of their playing. They were in a hurry to catch up with what they thought they should be hearing. Tree’s voice, already on the hoarse side, was torn to shreds as she shouted over the machinery din.  But they rocked out well, a highlight being Drivin You, a ballade made more up-tempo by the accelerated vibe of the set. Sunny Side, the Carter Family classic and the traditional final song of the song of the Old Glorys days, had the crowd singing along some, a few people danced. Always a fun song, the more electrified version was groovy. 

Then a surprise, Joe Daly, guitarist with Any Day Parade, came on stage, borrowed a guitar and the encore was an even more impromptu jam, a sloppy but enthusiastic melding two Tree bands (Pat Byrne, drummer with the Ashes was also the drummer with Any Day Parade. They performed an Any Day Parade song (Broken Lamps)? The fiddle player seemed befuddled, the guitarist took the bass and Shane had fled the stage.   Tree replaced some lyrics by singing, “I can’t remember the lyrics,” and of course, because of the generators, by then her voice was a raspy shout.

History was made I guess, technically a public jam with two Tree bands.  Everyone was laughing, shaking their heads. The final jam was a happy mess. The music stopped and generators filled our ears.

The set had its moments and it was fun, more in concept than reality. A beautiful summer day, no humidity, one of the nicest days of the year. Very sunny, the light was great for taking pictures. So I took a lot of pictures.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tree Down, Power Out


Caution tape on Jersey Avenue and Third. Fireman said the storm tore down a tree and the falling timber brought down a wire.

Days of heat and humidity and temperatures high in the low 90s, building and building and getting hotter and stickier and  harder to breathe the air and then a rash of thunderstorm at the shank of the afternoon shattered the heat. Does the fierceness of the storm have anything to do with the oppressiveness of the heat. The weather was broken. Hail was reported. Flash Flooding.

Down trees and power outage.

This block was taped off, businesses and residents without electrictity, 2nd street, 4th, Erie... several blocks, one wire. The parishioners of St. Mary Church  held their 7:15 PM daily service with only candles and a flashlight. Reminds me of the Philippines joked the priest, a Filipino. The Key Food was still open, they had a generator, but even that went out and no one could shop. The PSE&G truck arrived as the sun was starting to set. All you can do is just wait.  

Tachair Bookshoppe Opens

Let history note that the first book sold at Tachair Bookshoppe was a Kings James Bible to Mayor Jerremiah Healy. The bookstore held its eagerly anticipated grand opening  and the Mayor came by to enact the ribbon cutting ritual. After he cut the ribbon and spoke to the crowd, Healy pointed out that Tachair is a Gallic word meaning “gathering place,” and talked about the store opening as an example of the ongoing revitalization of what used to be called the Old Italian Village neighborhood of Downtown J.C.
Councilman Steve Fullop – the Mayor’s rival for the 2013 race and whose office is right across the street from the store – was billed as featured guest speaker but he was a no-show (at least for the opening ceremonies). Maybe it was not personal animosity between these two politicians that caused an incomplete Jersey City municipal government welcome for a new merchant but the more historic controversies still surrounding the linguistic decisions made by the scholars responsible for the King James and the lack of credit they gave to William Tyndale
A bookstore! Let our inner lives be enriched even as the recession depletes our personal resources. It takes a village to save the printed word (printed on paper at least, not in cyberspace).  The anticipation for this store has been genuine, people want paper books at a good price – much of the inventory is used – and as far as I could tell, the books displayed are in near-new condition. People want to go a bookstore, and maybe as much, they want a bookstore that reflects the community. Bookstore as a community space is an endangered species and the small but lively grand opening seemed a celebration that downtown Jersey City was reversing the tide, drawing a line and declaring No Further. It felt good, not a bar, nothing trendy, just a local bookstore where we can go and answer the constant question, what to read next.
In keeping with the Celtic/Gallic theme (The Tachair Bookshoppe proprietors tend to use both terms with interchangeability), a duo of guitar and fiddle, although the guitarist doubled on flute, ran through some Irish instrumental ditties, and later a Scottish dancer showed some authentic moves.
A coffee tasting was held, the store supplied a spread of deserts and salads as well as soda and water. People signed the guest book. There were a lot of kids – the store features a large children’s section and special area for parking strollers, they were playing with tops, scraping crayons on coloring books on the back table, clapping along with the vibrantly played Celtic melodies.
Inviting, comfortable and cozy is the best way to describe the space. The store combines used and new inventory, and doubles as a tranquil, bookish cafĂ©.  As the Mayor and other officials departed, they were replaced by customers looking at titles and a line formed at the cash register and the actual business began. Titles were browsed! Transactions were made, books were bought and sold, and community was affirmed.



Tachair Bookshoppe
260 Newark Avenue
Jersey City, New Jersey