Monday, October 24, 2005


hidden in plain view

Tonight I go to Grace Church Van Vorst to do some songs on behalf of the rocks. The Embankment Preservation Coalition is having their annual meeting, and they've invited me to play. I am not sure what they are expecting. I hope they're not counting on something inspirational. The last two songs I've written about Jersey City are neither nice nor hopeful. I've folded the lyric sheets up and stuck them into the inside pocket of my guitar case.

I have also written a song about my City Councilman, who is, as you probably know, my least-favorite person in town. I can't imagine tonight's show turning into an appropriate platform for that song, especially since the Embankment Coalition is counting on the support of the Councilman. But, yes, I could go there tonight and embarrass everybody, especially myself. I could throw my spanner into the municipal works if I chose to.

I encountered the City Councilman yesterday. We were in the third floor gallery in Victory Hall, attending the closing of an exhibition called With Apparent Ease. The couple in charge of the installation were showing the Councilman around. Nobody else was in the gallery. I felt, again, that sense of dislocation and impermanence that has been my most persistent companion at Jersey City events. It is important, I recognize, not to make a scene and jeopardize the Councilman's favor. And again I wanted to be someplace where every battle did not turn on small gestures, and every initiative was not so fragile that we had to tolerate those who are absolutely intolerable.

The Jersey band called Hidden In Plain View does a song called "Garden Statement". That big city feeling, they assure us, is better than suburban dreaming. Surely it is. That big city feeling is a certain useful anonymity, a sense that if you make a misstep and leave an ugly footprint on the street, there's always a parallel road to run. You're not constantly confronted by your own mistakes. But garden-state dreamers cannot afford to hold grudges. There is one cafe on the corner, one flimsy set of arts organizers, one Councilman -- when I speak my mind and anger these people, I've got nowhere to turn.

I am not running for office, though. And I've already got more friends than I deserve. Should I alienate my neighbors, my cardhouse does not tumble. It's those who are engaged in specific local enterprise who've got to keep smiling and making excuses for those whose power they'd like to enlist to their cause. I've already seen enough grotesque fawning here to fill the pages of a hundred copies of Teen Beat, or Roll Call. I understand why it's mandatory, and maybe even forgivable. But it's not something I can manage. And perhaps that, more than anything else, is the reason I don't belong here.

Throw 'em a little Blowin' In The Wind, a little Deportees. Always a hit at Grace Church.
"I am not running for office, though."

Why not, I sometimes wonder...?
You quoting Hidden In Plain View? You never cease to amaze me.
Hey, Great Stuff. I'll be back to read often.

Your arrogance amazes me.
when you live with it for thirty-plus years, it starts to feel unremarkable. not that i'm recommending that or anything.
Gina gives brevity a bad name.
Now i know what to get you for Christmas: a "Don't Tread On My" flag. Old skool!
"I felt, again, that sense of dislocation and impermanence that has been my most persistent companion at Jersey City events."

Holy shit, that is exactly how I feel anytime I go to an event at the Jersey City Museum.
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