Gloria victoribus! atop the old Sunday Call building.
1. HALSEY: Stand under the window mid-afternoon any Sabbath day and listen to this Nigerian congregation catch the Word.
2. WEST KINNEY: Then roll past this wall and count the conversations. History reaching out to the present and the present’s waiting on you, and there’s then the neighborhood (or just a contemptuous few?) hollering back.
3. UNION: Cross over town and, if you’re in the market, let Rose go to work. (Yes, this sign is realer than real.)
November 1934: Miss Florence Goldberg of 18 Stratford Place, hard on Avon Avenue. Sort of like Shakespeare’s Corners but, nowadays, they call it Bedrock.
Diminutive ☃ of Commerce Street
Tonight, walking toward home through the McCarter Highway hamster tube, our heads nodding “Hello!” to the new art sprouting along the Concourse, we came upon this double-sided beast.
How does one even begin? How does one read this gorgeous monster? Scan it left and scan it right and your eye swims into imagery gravid with meaning. There’s a remarkable density of allusive reference to cultural criticism and literature (such as the exhibit’s Carrollian concept), to myth and history and where they convolute into thick coils like that spellbinding whorl of blood.
But the layering only thickens: a warped section of a Google Maps 45º satellite view spliced into the frame, graphic emblems studding the landscape as both signatures and ironic signs, geometric forms interpenetrating skylines and horizons, an imagined collaboration of Poor Kings and PK Kid! on that riverbank billboard, pointing its white face to the Parkway.
You can stand there for a long time taking pictures and tracing movements in the air with your fingers.
In Newark, Gateway is a metonym for capital as a devastating material force in the urban environment. After forty years, it is rooted, familiar and could possibly be retrofitted if we were to entertain a dim hope. More than anything, though, it is our inheritance of the authoritarian impulse. “The Impossible Complex” is a work rather explicitly “about” the site of its viewing and it’s a devastating denunciation of that very place. It demonstrates a staggering level of talent and effrontery that just can’t be conveyed in these shitty cell phone snaps. See it before someone realizes what’s going on and tears it down.
MLK talking at Southside High School (Malcolm X Shabazz) March 27, 1963 #brickcity #bulldogs #southward #mlk
IMAMU AMIRI BARAKA
EVERETT LEROI JONES
(1934 - 2014)
Our man from Dey Street has passed on.
Writing on the Wall, Newark, NJ Graffiti, Pt. 1
This short film by Sandy King is an engrossing snapshot of Newark in the mid-1980s.
The opening shot is from the vantage of car driving east on West Kinney Street. Suddenly there’s a gap in the frontage and floating for a moment the downy-looking terra cotta of the Medical Tower Building and the dark spire of Christ Church, warping and pixelating on the converted VHS. Two of the three apartment buildings shown on this stretch of West Kinney have long since been razed.
Later the VOS crew greets one another on University Avenue near that old Burger King parking lot, reborn as the MBNA Building about three redevelopment cycles ago. A much younger Ron Rice stands on the steps of City Hall, his hair styled to a jaunty angle.
Finally, Too Sweet Hakeem leads the group down into a sunken lot on Halsey Street where Rutgers employees can now park their cars and pop in for Harvest Table paninis.
For several years in the 1930s, a man named Robert Ring worked as the assistant managing editor of the Newark Sunday Call, a weekly newspaper kaput since 1946. Each week he wrote a column called “All Around Essex,” which today reads like a series of brilliant telegrams (or tweets!) from a Depression-era Newark now 75 years in the grave.
Ring had a real eye for the gently comic and absurd but also for the strangely affecting and poignant. More than anything, though, Ring was all about capturing transitory moments involving regular people. So you get snatches of conversation with a 18-year-old, job-seeking kid from Elizabeth feeding the pigeons in Military Park with rice bought with a dime spared from his busfare, or learn that in 1934 Newark watering holes were offering rye and gin at 5 cents a drink.
In columns such as this one from the October 13, 1935 edition, Ring achieves the apotheosis of his own chosen form, and becomes a sort of bare-bones Joseph Mitchell for Mayor Ellenstein's breadline Brick City:
A comely blond girl, about 10, is employed in an auto wrecking yard on Boyd street. She can often be seen swinging a sledge hammer and wielding a chisel. She is reputed to be a fine saleswoman in disposing of auto parts.
The Salvation Army headquarters on Washington street displays in the window a large Bible. A page is turned each morning. During the last three months a Negro has made his appearance every day to read the text carefully.
High price touring car, E6551, with the top down, being driven by a fine looking man of about 60. In the back seat, regal in appearance, sits a uniformed Negro chauffeur.
Dr. Richard Dieffenbach has not worn a hat, winter or summer, for nearly eight years.
Oraton parkway, named after an Indian chief, has no statute of an Indian. But it has one of Lincoln. There is no statute of the Great Emancipator in Lincoln Park, but there is one of an Indian.
The gal who earns her bed and board disrobing on the stage of a local burlesque house raised a fuss with her hotel manager here because her bedroom shade was out of order.
A building was demolished at Lawrence and Commerce streets. Its place was taken by this sign: ‘No Dumping, No Trespassing—Police Take Notice.’
An old man wearing a swallow-tailed coat and a cloth carnation travels from tavern to tavern on Springfield avenue to play the piano. He is a graduate of a leading Berlin conservatory of music. He lost his children, wife and mother-in-law in the General Slocum East river disaster in 1904 and has been an aimless wanderer ever since.
On Mulberry street is a store with a sign: ‘Original Old Ale House’. Adjoining is a store with a sign, ‘This Is the Original Old Ale House of Newark’.