Sunday, August 08, 2010

Off Topic - That Was the Week it Was - August 8, 2010

It's Sunday morning, time for an off television topic trip back through the week gone by in words and photos I've taken. If you're looking for Big Brother news, check out the previous post(s) and another one will be going up later this morning.

I realize I sound like a broken record, but it's been hot and humid again for most of the week. On Thursday the humidity broke and I actually enjoyed a night with the windows open and fresh air. If I had my druthers, I'd always choose fresh air over air conditioning. But, somewhere on the path of life, I've lost my druthers ... so the world does what it wants and I just have to go with the flow.

In the city (Manhattan) this weekend, they're having their Summer Streets festival this weekend and the next two. They close down certain streets to motor vehicles and it becomes a big walk mall, biking path, etc. This year they introduced dumpster pools. It gives dumpster diving a new meaning (although diving is prohibited). When I brought trash out to my own dumpster in the high heat of the week, I thought ... hmmm ... swimming? Ew. No.

In my town they brought Al Sharpton in as a speaker to one of the city meetings. I didn't attend, but really question why he was paid to come. As I mentioned before, this summer has seen many gang-related shootings. But, as an observer, I don't think it's race related, nor would it even be in Al Sharpton's personal universe for his commentary. The man is wealthy. True, he's an interesting speaker. But he's so far removed from the world of the real streets and gang issues that I doubt it was worth the cost of having him speak.

I don't have the answers myself and I'm more familiar with what's happening daily. It's not an issue which can be solved overnight and it may take generations to get things right again, if ever. There have to be changes in parenting, education, job availability to youth and attitude in general. People must find their compassion once again. Life isn't a shoot 'em up video game. Freedom needs to be a better option than thug life. I don't know the fix. Life isn't always easy even when you work steady and do the right thing. But it's so much better than the alternative. Every life has a value.

Oh, well ... onto my photos of the week -- clicking on an image will open it larger in a new window:

New Jersey Cowboy

This man lives down the street from me. I used to walk by him struggling on his crutches for more than a few years. Now he has an electric wheelchair and is able to scoot by me. He always wears cowboy hats, not the same one and none ever look new. We've always chatted on our encounters. He's always pleasant and I'll always remember that he once told me that I was one of the "good and beautiful people" because I take the time to greet him and chat whenever we meet.

Oh, a fire engine!

What's up with that? Church Street and East Second Street in Plainfield.

Where there's smoke ...

... there's firemen and food! While I missed the events near the library yesterday as the PBA put on a huge festival, I caught the fire department's free food, music, and stuff for the kids event as I walked home from the train station after work. It was like a huge cookout with chicken, burgers, hot dogs ... all free! Plus they were cranking out old time Motown music.

I tend to "name" people I often see on the streets with nicknames. For example, there's a man I think of as "James Whitmore Eyebrow Man." Well, at this little fire department party, there was the "Pips Man." I've seen him since I came to town ... walking along with a late-60s Afro, polyester pants, retro shoes. Last night he danced up a storm, all by himself. I've never seen the man even talk! He always seems so intent on getting wherever he's going. Yet, he cut a fine rug all by himself last night. Alas, he was moving too fast and I didn't get a clear photo.

I had a burger and several folks I know in town gravitated over to sit with me. So many people define this town by its past history with racial divide and its present gang problems. I define it as a place where I encounter friendly folks and feel welcomed. Last night was a fine affair for families, children, and even the local TV blogger. The kids got fire hats, coloring books and other goodies; the adults got food, several tables and chairs to sit, chat, and have a good time. There were no problems or gangs.

NJ Transit, the Way to Go

Yeah, it's the way to go LATE all summer again as they do track work. Still, it's better than getting stuck in traffic here where it's so densely populated. Plainfield Train Station.

Push Me Pull You

This is the train on the other track. As you can see, there's an engineer (in a pink shirt!) driving the train. We're a diesel line and the first train I pictured is the car with the engine/motor/whatever. However, the trains are set up so that either end can drive. It makes sense as you don't want to get to your destination and then have to turn around the train, right? The engineer (driver) is the only employee I ever see on NJT who's not in uniform.

Whose train is 40 minutes late?

Mine, of course. That's pretty bad as the trains only run once an hour on Saturdays. Plainfield Train Station, edited for the black & white/color effect.

Me and My Shadow

Well, it's not ME ... it's THAT GUY. An urban shot taken on North Street in Plainfield (as I waited for a late train).

Cornered by the Jesus Lady

The one guy looks like he wishes he could be anywhere else! The Latina Jesus Ladies are out in full force downtown every day of the week, passing out brochures and saving souls. Watchung Avenue and North Street, Plainfield.

Free from care
Free from sin
The Saints are trooping in
The children play all around the throne
Innocent of sin
A trillion voices sing the name
The mortals may not know
And Heaven's walls are too high to hear
The trouble down below

If I'm late don't wait
Go on without me
I may tarry awhile
Cause I need to know
Before I go
How come the Devil smiles
-- "Step by Step" by Jesse Winchester

Sunflower in the sky

Backlighted by the sun. East Front Street, Plainfield.

Black-eyed Susan

Why aren't any flowers named "Jackie"? The senior citizen building across the street from me has an impressive garden of these. East Front Street, Plainfield.

Lots of Susans!

I will NOT miss the music next month!

This is one of the several ice cream trucks which prowl my Jersey 'hood. This one isn't as irritating as another whose music stops, then you hear "HELLO, HELLO" and the music starts all over once again. I have no clue the cost from these trucks. I know if I had kids, I'd be buying store brand Popsicles from the supermarket rather than investing. East Front Street, Plainfield.


Why, it's a satellite news truck set up by the Police Department/Court building on Watchung Avenue in Plainfield. I haven't a clue why they were there. I believe it might have had something to do with National Night Out (this was taken Tuesday after work). But those festivities were a few blocks up the street at the City Hall building. As it's the Spanish-speaking station and they always talk way too fast for me to understand, I didn't check it out on television.

I want that camera

More Urban Cowboys

This isn't Enzo's New Jersey, as you can tell.

Get Bent

That was a childhood insult I never quite understood. However, it fits this bike which is locked up but abandoned at the Bound Brook Train Station.

Get Bent Redux

The stinkhorn mushrooms have gone wild with just a smidgen of rain. But they all do this after their burst of growth.

Pudgy goldfinch on a wire

The gold finch is the state bird, but I don't see them in town often. They're late maters, so I believe this pudgy one is a young 'un. East Front Street, Plainfield

But ... but ... there's more goldfinches!

I was a distance away, but caught three of them resting on the East Front Street sunflowers!

Golden sunshine

Sunflowers and goldfinches ... perfect together.

Chickadee in a tree

Despite the fact that birds will take over the world, I went on a bird photo stint. This tree at the Plainfield Train Station is slowly dying. I don't know if it's the lack of rain or just an ill tree. But with the leaves the way they are, I thought the shot turned out well.

What is going on with that beak?

From cute birds to ugly beaks. Now, I often admire the pigeon's feathers, but their beaks are so often all jacked-up.

Vincent! Wake up! There's BIRDS!

Yet he sleeps on. Hmmm ... that looks like a good idea -- a cat nap!

How was your week?


RyzandShyn said...

Good Morning!
Happy Sunday! I'd forgotten that the goldfinch is our state bird. I see them once a year, usually this time of year. They seem to love these tall thistle weed-type things that grow at the egde of small patch of woods by the parking lot at my school. Sometimes there are so many of them flitting from one to another that sll you see is a mass of floating yellow.
I enjoy your take on Plainfield.
I have had children in my class from there. They and their families are troubled, and the school district is difficult to deal with, so my view of Plainfield
has always been urban-jungle. I like your Plainfield better.
It always semed to me that bringing Al Sharpton into a situation was similar to fanning the flames. I know he's mellowed in recent years and hope the message he's bringing people today is helpful.

Jackie said...

I see a lot of small children in town whose futures look dismal. The schools in town have such great hopes, yet corruption knocks at the door. If I had a child here, I'd probably go the private school route. I do think the uniforms started last year is one step in the right direction.

As for Sharpton, I just don't get it. Most of the gangs issue is black on black crime or Latino on Latino ... or black on Latino. I don't know how to stop gang stupidity or cultural differences. I don't think Sharpton can do it either. The Guardian Angels couldn't do it.

There are wealthy areas in the city. Many gay folks have bought homes, probably because the homes are gorgeous and most don't have children in the school system. I live in a pretty solid middle-class working neighborhood.

As a middle-aged white woman, I'm not the standard demographic in either my neighborhood or downtown -- which is mostly black or Hispanic (from a gazillion countries). Yet, it's the friendliest place I've ever lived. Go figure.

Tauscher Family said...

Once again, your pictures are amazing! Thanks for sharing. I love the sunflowers!

RyzandShyn said...

I'm in agreement, Jackie. Even though I work with yougsters from places where the thug mentality/culture is prevalant and I might understand the lure of it all from an intellectual point of view, I don't know what to do about it other than hope to change it person by person, experience by experience.
I also agree with the friendly aspect of diverse areas...thinking that all of us, no matter where we're from, are working towards community and understanding through our friendly actions.
Keeping a good thought.

K in WI said...

Jackie, your photography is truly amazing. I especially enjoyed the pictures of the birdies. And of course I always look forward to Vincent!

Thanks for making Sunday mornings bright and cheery.

Nana from the NW said...

Good Sunday to is gray and dismal here in the NW. I'll take it over high heat and humidity anyday.
Jackie your pictures are great as usual.
I have heard about these dumpster pools. It is a good idea for the areas with really hot temps. The report said they are limited to 10 people...just like a hot tub.
The Goldfinch is our state bird too. I'm not sure why since I have lived in Washington my whole life and only seen 10-12 of them.
Jackie, I loved the contrast of black and white with the red fire surely could have a second career...oh wait, you already do....maybe a third one!
As for gang problems I think you hit the nail on the head--"every life has a value". Sadly many of these young children have grown up never hearing that and never witnessing it in their neighborhood. When someone is killed their answer is to go and kill one of their rival gang value on life.

Vincent...I want your life--eat, sleep and be happy!!

meb said...

Enjoyed your off topic today Jackie. Wonder why the Goldfinch was selected as the state bird if there are so few of them seen. Perhaps when chosen they were in abundance.

Weather here in NC has been hot, but not as bad as I have heard others talk about.

Pictures were enjoyed. I wanted to go to that outside party with free food you came upon on the way home from work. Sounds like fun.

my wv is prorn ... thanks for never showing us any prorn in your photos each week.

Sally said...

Kids today face such great challenges: strong peer pressure, the myriad temptations and skewed values fostered by pop culture, a lack of good jobs to strive for, and all the cynicism and negativity that's out there. If you add lax parenting and inadequate schools,the outcome is predictable. I don't have the answers either, but I'd like to see more celebrities and politicians become true champions for young people.

All those Susans make a lovely display, and those clever goldfinches found the perfect location to accentuate their beauty. Great photos!

By the way, there's an African violet named Jackie, roses named "Jackie," "Climbing Jackie" and "Little Jackie." and a Kalanchoe plant named "Light Jacqueline." (Thanks, Google.) It's not likely you'll run across one of those in an urban landscape, but the Jackies are out there blooming somewhere.

My cat Vinnie is immitating that photo of Vincent: curled up on my desk, back toward me, sound asleep.

Jennasmom said...

Great photos, as always, Jackie! And thanks for the great job you always do with BB. YOU ROCK!