Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Me and the Villain, Down by the Arches


So, yesterday I’m hanging out, cruising the web, when a call comes through on the green phone. The Green Villain’s restless, wants to do something. “Waddaya have in mind?” says I. “We have to make a video of the Bergen Arches.”

I’m down with that, of course. It’s a hidden gem, the 8th Wonder of the World. It’s here in Jersey City and almost no one knows about it.

We decide to get there at sunrise. Dawn over the Arches, a new dawn for Jersey City. The symbolism fits.

We’re there at dawn. But we’re not the only ones. A couple of Jersey City’s finest are in a patrol car parked at the entrance. No way we’re going get past them unseen. I mean, sure, I’ve been in the lab working on a cloak of invisibility for years – can you see me now? – but it’s not ready for prime time.


We’re there for a good cause–the Jersey City Renaissance, and so are they–keeping miscreants at bay. And while their good cause and our good cause will meet in the long run, at the moment there’s a conflict. And the law’s on their side even if history will prove to be on ours. If they saw us, they’d see  us as miscreants and our cameras and business cards wouldn’t be enough to convince them that we’re on the side of art, history, and Jersey City tourism.

So we cool our heels, figuring they can’t wait there forever. “Do you realize that the production down there, the one under the bridge, hasn’t been touched in the seven years I’ve been photographing these walls?”


The Villain is impressed. He knows the code. A wall doesn’t go untouched that long unless it’s got a lot of mojo, a lot of respect. Good walls are at a premium around here. They get gone over quick.

Speaking of which, the police are gone now. We won’t catch the sunrise down in under the Arches, but it’s still early morning. Not yet hot. But a bit humid.



Now we’re into it. In the middle of the city, yet isolated from it. Shangri-La blasted out of solid rock by 250,000 pounds of early 20th Century dynamite. You can see a bit of graffiti peaking out through the greenery:


And now the pure unadorned goods:



The Villain’s liking that a lot. Me too. A fresh style. Monochrome, but fresh.

I wonder what spirits are being invoked here?


Actually, I believe that shrine’s part of someone’s MFA project. There’s a few of them down in the arches. Good thing Indiana Jones doesn’t know about the Arches. The last thing Jersey City needs is some wide-brimmed, bull-whipping, cowboy archeologist stealing shrines from the 8th Wonder of the World.

More shrines:



At least we make it thru the Arches. The mosquitoes weren’t too bad – don’t feel any bites yet, but it’s only been three hours ago that I was down there, me and the Villain.




We pass some new graffiti under Tonnelle Avenue and decide to exit there rather than walk back through the Arches. Who knows who or what might meet us at the other end? Best get out of harm’s way.

So we walk along 139 and take various side streets. 139 could be a magnificent boulevard if only it were fixed up a bit.



  1. Fantastic post! And great photos!

  2. I agree with Susan, it was a great post. It looks like a jungle under that Bergen Arches. You captured the interesting environment delightfully in these images.

  3. Thanks, Otto. From you, that's a great compliment. This should also give you some idea of how graffiti drew me into photography.

  4. Gem of a post from pictures to the art to the terse punchy writing style.