Wednesday, November 27, 2013

JC Future 3: Art Surge

A couple of weeks ago Dale “Bright Moments” Hardman had a link on his Facebook page to something called Art Surge, and indicated that he thought it was pretty cool. So I decided to check it out.

The link took me to an article in the Jersey City Independent:
Downtown resident Yvonne Roen–a local theater artist, writer, director and actress who is organizing the event with Olivia Harris–says they first got the idea while studying the historical use of pageantry as candidates in the Masters Applied Theater program at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.

“I thought, Why not have a procession that places you back by walking you through it, engaging with the city in an artistic way, and with each other?” she says, noting that the storm had an interesting way of getting people together. “I remember the first time the city got together after the hurricane was the election. Most people were in their pajamas and looked like they had just left the most shell-shocking slumber party ever. They were all checking in with each other…all those people being close together, that is where this idea came from.”
Cool, thought I to myself, way cool.

You gotta’ understand, I love a parade. And there’s nothing like a good procession to keep a community together. And the anniversary of Sandy seemed just the thing. We needed this, that is, we-the-citizens-of-Jersey-City, we need it. Yes, Sandy was a disaster, worse for some than others, but bad for all of us. Plus, I’d made this crazy argument that Sandy actually helped pull us together be forcing us to rely on one another.

So I marked it on my calendar – Art Surge, Novemeber 17, 2PM, Hamilton Park – and when the time came, I was there. And I brought my trumpet and some bells. If you’re going to march, you gotta’ make noise, a joyful noise.

I didn’t have any particular expectations, but I was a bit disappointed that only a dozen or so people showed up. Fifty or sixty would have been better. But then, getting things started is difficult, very difficult, especially in a city were folks still haven’t quite figured out that they can build the future, that it’s up to them.

Anyhow, Yvonne taught us a song she’d written, but I’ve pretty much forgotten it now except for the gospel feel and the last phrase: “Jersey City’s my home.” Yes indeed it is! That’s the point.

Yvonne had made a Hudson River puppet out of a blue tarp; stuck a face in front and attached poles to carry it with. So we picked up the puppet and off we marched, singing the song. Sorta. When we got to Groove Street Con Vivo joined us and performed a theatrical piece of silent music – I know, it doesn’t make sense, but, really, it did. Then we continued on marching, got to the foot bridge across the canal into Liberty State Park and ran across the bridge, making noise and having a good old time. Yvonne broke out the kites while I played “Autumn Leaves” on my trusty Besson Meha trumpet.

But what’s going to happen next year? This parade should be an annual event and everyone should learn Yvonne’s song.

Why? Because Sandy’s when the new Jersey City began, that’s why. What “new” Jersey City? you ask. The one we’re going to create. We just haven’t figured it out yet.


  1. While I thought this is truly a great concept I suddenly realized just limited this would be. And all though Sandy indeed had a profound effect for everyone of us. There are some slight differences.That being said, many of the families and individuals clearly did not have the same awakening as so described. For many of them it's a nightmare that didn't end with people looking in on one another at least not from a motive of concern... luting, B&E's and out right abuse was the time of day.

    Now I'm not trying to be negative, here's proof ...I got a better idea that everyone can participate in: 15th Anniversary Washington Street 911 Volunteers!

    Long before first respondents at the foot of Washington Street was the scene of people in action!!!

    1. Interesting observation, Arnold.

      As you point out, for many of those hardest hit by Sandy, full "recovery" – if that's the word – is still in the future. Their losses were so great. And the larger significance of Sandy – global climate change come home (a form of chickens come home to roost?) – has been lost on many. In some cases that may be because the real damage they suffered was so overwhelming that they couldn't think about such things. But mostly I think that's because we're still in denial.

      I'm not sure what you mean by the 15th Anniversary Washington Street 9/11 volunteers. But whatever it is, it's not too soon to start laying the groundwork.