Tuesday, March 2, 2010

THAT Part of Newark

It was a beautiful -sorta- spring day in Newark. I left my job early to deposit my rent check. I decided to walk to the bank via a new route. On the way, I found myself entranced by the sporadic changes in scenery. Somehow the skyline changed from a river and a distant cityscape to old, barely refurbished homes. I'm not too great with architecture but they were very similar -if not a replica- to the older apartment buildings spotted throughout Jersey City and Philly. You know what I'm talking about. Those houses. It was evident that this was one of the few historical parts of Newark and that the powers that be decided to keep the houses in an attempt to attract those with money using propaganda ads on the "charming and cozy" part of the "historical district" of Newark.

How much I love Newark and it's tendency to harbor those with very vibrant personalities, I must admit it is a major propaganda city with a serious case of "the giant pink elephant" syndrome. For those who do not know, the giant pink elephant in the room is that one thing that everyone is thinking but no one says, making the situation awkward.

Scattered throughout advertisements for Rutgers and Essex County College are the ever-popular money shots. The shots where the angle is just composed enough to capture the five blades of grass and one cherry blossom tree in the area. Even I must squint and think back "where the heck is that?" The propaganda also extends to the Eleven80 condominiums (because combining words and numbers is cool). The rooms in this building go for a few thousand dollars. With the right chunk of change amenities include an indoor bowling alley, billiard room and gym. You are also conveniently located two blocks from the Penn Station. Just a hop, skip and jump away from the glamorous New York.

What they forget to tell the people that live there is that the moment you walk out of the door and put your grocery bag down across the street at Military Park, someone will run off with it while the cop down the street doesn't notice. You could say I'm cynical...except that I've witnessed it. So yes, tell everyone about Prudential Center and the Devils coming to town but forget that a 22 year old that was stabbed a few blocks over in broad daylight over a grudge.

So what is my point? My point is with all of the skyscrapers towering over these broken down buildings you would think someone in those towers would be able to see. People don't like the truth because it's ugly. The problem is that it will continue to be ugly as long as we close our eyes to the problem. While one part of Newark is being built up, the other is being swept under the rug with the rest of the trash. Why is it that the street sweepers line the perimeter of the Colonnades building while two blocks down it looks as though garbage cans were a foreign invention? Why is it that there is security all over Prudential Center but the club I went to was shot up while I was there?

Building dream worlds will do nothing but create a dream. It never changes the reality. The reality that today I went to the city subway and the smell of pot tickled my nose. The reality that parks have to be cleaned often so that kids do not cut themselves on broken bottles and needles. The reality that a particular race NEVER looks me in the eye when I'm in Newark. The reality that Penn Station has more hobos than it does passengers. The reality that I've seen more handmade memorials in this town than any other. The reality that whenever I volunteer, the 11 year old children ask me to pray for Newark. If they can see, why don't the suits?

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