Friday, February 22, 2013

Exchange Place Calling

 Wasn’t there a row of open kiosk pay phones at the Exchange Place Path Station, a bank if you will? There, in the southern most corner, one last remaining open-air phone booth, a two phoner, with the WTC memorial in the background. What a nice view to call my baby and see if I should pick up milk on the way, oh wait a second. What century is this? That’s not the WTC, that was destroyed more than a decade ago, it’s the WTC memorial being constructed and the kiosk is empty, devoid of pay phone. I’ll have to use my cellphone. Oh crap, I’m in the PATH station, no reception.
The view is still nice. A woman feeds a hovering flock of sea gulls. People linger here, finishing their cup of coffee, and of course, leave litter where the phone used to be, like stones left by mourners on the tombstones in a Jewish cemetery. To be fair, because of security, there are no garbage pails within the PATH system. Safety first and besides, Jersey City has never been litter adverse.

I seem to recall that you could make a pay phone call without going through the turnstiles, but I guess that’s no longer true, you have to enter the PATH system to go to empty kiosk where pay phones used to be. Oh wait, in the other corner is an actual working pay phone kiosk. I’ve noticed this before, half the pay phones being removed – which leaves a half the number of pay phones and a glass half full optimistic attitude that the cell phone fad just might fade. Or maybe they just haven’t gotten around to removing this one yet. I know there were more phone kiosks here once upon a time
Exchange Place PATH only recently re-opened post Sandy. There is still abundant repair construction apparent. No one was using the working phones, not even for a place to leave litter and through the windows no seagulls were in view.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Our Lady of Medigorje Reappears

You wanted more Jersey City Catholic esoterica, you got it. Okay, maybe nobody really wanted but I keep finding these stories. This odd but true tale you will only read here.
The statue of Our Lady of Medigorje. Mysteriously missing from Saint Mary’s on Second Street was just mysteriously returned two weeks ago.
Saint Mary’s church is home base for the annual downtownSanta Cruzan festival in May. As its name might indicate, the church, which has a large Filipino contingent amongst her parishioners, has a diverse devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, aka, Mother of Our Lord, aka, Mother Mary.  Dozens of different Mary icons are featured along the walls of the church, most of which get paraded around downtown during the Santa Cruzan procession.  The church houses one of the largest collections of different Marian Icons to be found in the state of New Jersey.
 For more than 20 years, every Monday at St Mary’s, a special devotion to Our Lady of Medigorje is held, following the 7:15 PM mass.  A simple service, a Rosary is recited – the Joyful Mysteries, because it is Monday – followed by the Magnificat and the Litany to Our Blessed Mother. Apparently, Our Lady of Medigorje has no special prayers – is held in a special side altar. The statuette – it’s maybe twelve inches tall – was there for all that time, until two years ago, when it suddenly and inexplicably went missing.
Two weeks ago, somebody had left the statue in the rectory of St. Mary.  The speculation was that a parishioner had borrowed the statue and maybe his or her petition was granted, or maybe he or she passed on. The icon vanished and just reappeared.
Like every Monday, the rosary and other Marian prayers were recited. Our Lady of Medigorje was always there, but now her likeness had returned home.

Who is she? Well, do your own googling but here’s some Wiki highlights: Our Lady of MeÄ‘ugorje (also called Queen of Peace) is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary by those who believe that she appeared to six Herzegovinian Croat children in MeÄ‘ugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina (at the time Yugoslavia). The apparition first appeared on June 24, 1981. The children describe her “as 18 to 20 years old, slender. Her face is long and oval with black hair. Her eyes are blue with delicate eyelashes and thin black eyebrows. She has a nice, little nose and rosy cheeks. She has beautiful reddish thin lips and her smile is more like some indescribable gentleness. It’s visible as if somehow under her skin. Her simple dress is bluish-grey and falls freely all the way down to the little whitish cloud on which she is standing. Her veil is pure white and covers her head and shoulders.”

Geese in the Outfield.

Geese in the outfield. Melting snow but only because the weather is weird – January one day, May the next. This species never heads south, but there’s never been this much food this time of year in this field, now. Maybe climate change is not factual; haven’t Canadian Geese always reported before the pitchers and catchers?

Terminal Transition

Seems I’ve been blogging about this Hoboken transit hub oncea month; is it because I go through there once a month or my life is a little stressed right now that blog subjects are getting harder to come by? Maybe yes, mostly no. Mainly it’s an inspiring place and space and recently, always changing.

The lobby at the Erie Lackawanna Train Station reopened; 90 days or so after Sandy.


Especially when it comes to non-event local impressions, I like to say I am looking that things that rarely get really seen or looking at things that can only be seen once. These images are the latter. Ravaged by Sandy – six feet of water in the lobby – the reopening is pretty half-hearted. There’s only one stand – no newsstand (even the Hudson News letters are gone), just coffee and beverages and non-cooked food items – the restaurant court and other vendors remain closed.

The Bathrooms remain closed. You have to go outside to porto-johns to go . The long wooden benches and the model train set are enclosed in plywood cases and plastic tarps. There’s some seating, tiny park benches you would get at a garden store. The lobby is also heated. People were waiting.

Plastic sheets also covered the lobby payphones, a pay master’s window. I guess like the wood these mainly metal fixtures require additional, specialized cleaning.


A weird reminder of the extent of our Katrina. The world we know is under assault by the world coming into being. Our buildings and infrastructure and the way of life they enabled are unsustainable in our climate changed wall. The plastic tarps preserve the way things were. No tarp over the water lion. That cat's snout hasn't spouted out water in a decade anyway.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Snow Scenes

Snow began Friday morning, shifted to rain, and then back to snow but it wasn’t until later in the evening that the snow fell hard and fast.

Not that cold the night of the blizzard. Nemo. They’re naming blizzards now. I would like to resist that, but it does make for if not a better story, a story that is easier to tell.

Trepidation abounds. We live in weather hysteria media. The most immediate news where there’s a constant and universal need to know is what the weather is like. When a weather event like a blizzard is predicted, we have the usual concerns. But in our post Katrina, Irene and Sandy world, we know that the hype and hysteria can be justified. Climate Change is here, server weather events are getting more severe and more unpredictable.

Plus, it happened on a Friday and everybody was like heck lets make a three day weekend out of it after all. More fear than was justifiable was required for leaving work early and closing schools. Also, last winter we hardly had any snow days and nothing resembled what was predicted, or fell. People wanted to enjoy it.
A beautiful blizzard, the way winter should be. 


Walking around a little after 9:30, surprising the number of sidewalks already cleared out. Jersey City is actually getting better at shoveling. Noticeably better. People said they city’s (finally) cracking down, a few even credited Councilman and Mayoral candidate Steve Fullop, which I did not verify. The cleared sidewalks were the rule not the exception, a change from years past. Walking around was less hazardous.



Snow transforms the usual into the unusual. The starkness of the winter suddenly becomes lunar. Water we know drips, but when those icicles form our awareness of water as substance becomes more acute.
A freight train underneath the Turnpike exit. A baseball field covered with snow. Patience keeps hope alive.
 Snow feels magical, invites play. When it freshly falls is different than when it is the day after. There will be slush. There will be inconvenience. Snow will go away. But here it was again, teaching us something we need to know.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Newtown & Nemo & Jersey City

Hand made memorial to the children of Sand Hook, down by city hall, streaked with Nemo Snow. Walking around the morning after the blizzard named after a popular children’s animated movie, thinking about how Newtown got about 2.5 feet of snowfall and these kids were not able to play in the snow the day after. This sign survived the winter weeks, a classroom project that like all classroom project, served as a teaching moment. We live in a world where children must be introduced to the concept of the murder of other children as early as possible.
Then later in the day, in Hamilton Park, snow men. Afternoon by now, the snow played in and children still playing. The lead up to the storm was one of dread. Happening on a Friday, the news reports were relentless, schools and work places closed early and everyone spent the night hunkering down. By the next day, everyone wanted out to explore and play. Haven’t had a blizzard like this in a year or two. The Nor-easter had a wide radius and New England was hit harder than Jersey City. The weather event linked us all, again and as always. Sandy has put us all on perpetual climate change havoc preparation.
Winter has its own beauty. We wake up and school’s closed and our landscape is suddenly lunar. We build a snow man in the park with our parents. The parents still thinking about the Newton shooting, alongside the dozens of other worries one has bringing children into this world, being an adult, negotiating with and navigating though our responsibly labyrinths. Debates in congress about gun control; politics and the translation of those ideas into legislation. Our children no longer remembering that memorial poster they made sometime between Sandy and Christmas. They didn’t see the report on what Biden said or the NRA testimony. They are here in the snow and we are here with them. Let’s make your own Frosty. These snowmen were just another reason why Newton matters, as much a memorial as the solidarity poster by City Hall.