Journal Entries

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Toy Guns, Little Boys

July 2018

Little boys love toy guns; nothing more American than that. Enough said. From Wild West City in Stanhope NJ.

Hinchliffe Stadium – Paterson NJ

June 2018

Resting dormant at the foot of Paterson Public School #5 lies Hinchliffe Stadium, which stands as one of the few remaining stadiums in the country that hosted “negro league” baseball games before major league baseball became integrated in 1947 (with the signing of Jackie Robinson by the Brooklyn Dodgers). The stadium is perched on a hill above the Great Falls of Paterson and is surrounded by the city’s National Landmark Historic District. Built in 1932, the stadium played host to some of the greatest players in the game, including Larry Doby (the “Silk City Slugger”), who was the second African-American player to join the majors, also in 1947, and the first to sign with an American league team, the Cleveland Indians. Larry helped the Indians win a World Series in his second year with the team and later became the second African-American to manage a major league team with the Chicago White Sox. It seems hard to believe that it was only 70 years ago we still had segregated baseball in this country. I wonder if the young children playing in this schoolyard at recess understand the historical significance of the stadium that sits just outside their chain-linked fence.

The stadium was designated a national landmark in 2013, and there are plans to refurbish the structure to once again hold sporting events. As for now the stadium sits idle and decaying while the city of Paterson figures out a way to finance a rather expensive renovation project. A city that apparently cannot afford to replace a missing basketball hoop at one of its school playgrounds.

Langford Creek, Chesapeake Bay (Old technology meets new)

May 2018

In 1608 Captain John Smith (of Jamestown settlement fame) set out for 12 weeks in a small wooden boat with 12 other men to explore and chart the Chesapeake Bay. Over 400 years later this scene on the Langford Creek looks essentially the same as it did back then except for one minor detail. If Smith returned today he would easily recognize the duck blind, but he would certainly be baffled by the presence of the wind vane. He would probably think that it is the work of the Native Americans rather than the modern invention it is. But other than the intrusion of this modern artifact, it’s remarkable how little has changed in some places on the bay over the course of 400 years. We had this wonderful anchorage all to ourselves for the night just as Smith and his crew would have experienced (except our boat was a bit more comfortable and we did not have to hunt for our dinner!)

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Chesapeake Bay

May 2018

A week sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. A tremendous experience on a huge body of water rich in history and diversity. It has something for everyone from bustling urban harbors to quiet, secluded coves of sublime beauty. This is the Baltimore Harbor Lighthouse, outside the mouth of the Magothy River. A lone sailboat in the open sea always inspires a sense of adventure.

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NJ Meadowlands - Time to call 811?

April 2018

The NJ Meadowlands is in the news again. A very large gas company (the Williams Partners L.P. based out of Oklahoma) is applying for a permit to build a new gas power plant that would extend an existing pipeline near their natural gas compression facility located on the banks of the Hackensack River. The two white tanks seen here are part of that facility, which is located immediately adjacent to; The Meadowlands Conservation and Wildlife Center to its east; The Meadowlands Environmental Center to its west; the Meadowlands Sports Complex (home to the NY Giants and NY Jets football teams) to its north; and the Secaucus High School across the river to its south. What a perfect location! The Meadowlands has a long history as a toxic waste dump for industrial pollution going back decades. The past couple of decades have seen a rebirth of the ecosystem here due to valiant conservation efforts to clean it up. Much progress has been made but this would be a major setback to all of those efforts. The Hackensack Riverkeeper, the local Sierra club, and other conservation groups are speaking up against this plan but they are facing a difficult challenge. Working against them is the powerful gas company claiming it will be a clean efficient plant, the politicians who are eyeing up a large tax ratable, workers seeing temporary jobs being created, and lastly the general apathy of the local residents. To add insult to environmental injury, the gas will be supplied to New York City across the Hudson River. NJ gets all the pollution and toxic waste from the plant and New York gets all the power. Another great deal for NJ. I hope they call 811 before they start digging…

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

March 2018

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow?

With silver bells, and cockle shells, And pretty maids all in a row.

There are two basic interpretations of this nursery rhyme: one a religious reference to Mary, the mother of Jesus: the other a reference to Mary Tudor of England (aka Bloody Mary, daughter of Henry VIII) who was known for torturing protestants and burning them at the stake. Needless to say the two Marys could not be more dissimilar. In the religious interpretation, the silver bells are considered altar bells, but in the Bloody Mary version the silver bells are thumbscrews she used for torture. The "pretty maids all in a row" are thought to be nuns, but for Bloody Mary they are lined up for the guillotine. And so it goes with the other lines all having similar disparate interpretations. But regardless of the true intent, I thought of this nursery rhyme as I approached this scene at the Adorno Fathers compound in Ramsey, NJ. I leave the interpretation up to the viewer.

The Art Factory - Paterson NJ

February 2018

One creative way to repurpose an abandoned factory is to turn it into a studio location for artists. It’s quite a good business idea since it doesn’t require much expense; no need for renovation since it’s the decaying atmosphere the artists want. The Art Factory in Paterson serves this purpose. Years ago I could wander around the interior of this place at will and hardly see a soul. It is now growing in popularity, commanding stiff fees, and they even built a café inside. But the interior still does have an authentic look and feel despite its growing commercialization and it still retains a communal atmosphere for artists. Here a young photography student explores the alley behind the building for some inspiration.

Desperately Seeking Old New York

January 2018

Just when I think all the grime, grit, and sheer decadence of what New York once was has been fully scrubbed clean, sanitized, commercialized, and anesthetized, I come across a little gem of a side street like this. Maybe I’m just romanticizing the past, but the streets of Manhattan-past had an authenticity to them that packed a ton of energy. At least that’s how it felt to a young kid growing up in the sheltered blandness of a NJ suburb. Today it can sometimes be hard to tell the city from the suburbs. This is a side street somewhere off Canal Street between Chinatown and the West Village. I hope it’s not cleaned up the next time I go by.

“It reminds me of the movies Marty made about New York

Doin' the things that we want to

Those frank and brutal movies that are so brilliant

Here's to 'Travis Bickle' and here's to 'Johnny Boy'

Growing up in the mean streets of New York”

Lou Reed - 1984 (click link for video)

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