Monday, May 29, 2017

Laurel Grove Cemetery, Totowa

Before posting a photo of Totowa's Elk on Instagram, I did some research on Laurel Grove Cemetery, which I visited with Mom yesterday so she could decorate Dad's grave for Memorial Day.

I found, for one thing, that there is another blog called "Lost in Jersey," which has, like much of its subject matter, been abandoned in recent years. Still, it's wonderfully done and actually focused on the Garden State... rather than what we have here, the nonsensical ravings of a lunatic mind.

Wandering through that site on this raining morning in 2017 has led me to discover many things about Laurel Grove, including the related legend of Annie's ghost (also here). So thank you,, whoever you are.

For myself, having grown up in Totowa, I would say that the gravestone that holds the most interest to locals is the light bulb belonging to Sal Giardino, the "World's Greatest Elecrician."

Set high on a hill and surrounded by gravesites adorned with American Flags for #MemorialDay2017 is Totowa NJ’s famous Elk – which to travelers along nearby Route 80 is often mistaken for a grazing deer. The statue’s rectangular base is engraved with the words “Charity,” “Justice,” “Brotherly Love” and “Fidelity” – the mission of the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks. As the saying goes, once a member of the B.P.O.E. organization (my Aunt Helen used to tell me that B.P.O.E. stood for “best people on earth”)… always a member. So this is among the number of lodge-owned cemetery plots around the country, called Elks Rests. The one in Lauren Grove Cemetery is owned by Elks Lodge No. 60 in Elmwood Park, a town which until 1973 used to be called East Paterson. . . . #memorialday #graveyard #njhistory #njphotographer #njisntboring #just_newjersey #weirdnj #wildnewjersey #jerseycollective #njshooterz #njspots
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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday in Teaneck

Earlier this afternoon, I was in the back row of The Puffin Cultural Forum, a non-profit performance space in Teaneck, NJ, listening to pianist Karine Poghosyan perform the nearly 40 minutes of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 (the one beginning da-da-da-DUM, arranged for solo piano by Liszt).

A few rows in front of me sat a man wearing a baseball cap with the plastic store tag still attached. It looped over his head like a small halo, bouncing to the music. The minor saint and I were both enjoying one hell of a performance, played with much spirit and without sheet music by Ms. Poghosyan, who has performed often in the New York area, as well as in her native Armenia.

It was just another Sunday in my native New Jersey -- which, to me, has always offered these various and beautiful moments.

At intermission, I took photos in the sculpture garden outside the main entrance. Here's a few I liked, starting with "Victim of War," by an unknown artist.

Here's "Roots of Empathy" by Nitza Danieli Horner.

And here's the Warrior of Cadmus, a large sculpture that dominates the garden, with the setting sun glinting off his mighty blade.

This was my favorite: "Distress" by David Adler. From behind, as photographed here, it looks like an angel. From the front it looks very different, but just as majestic.

How so, and why is it called "Distress"? Visit the sculpture garden of The Puffin Foundation and see for yourself. Follow the link for directions and additional information. The organization hosts various cultural programs, such as its "Classical Sunday" series. 

Explore New Jersey. I promise you, it will surprise you. Today, I took a small detour on my way home and discovered a tiny corner of the state filled with saints and angels and inspiring music. Not bad for an ordinary Sunday.