Rookie Jersey City Police Office Melvin Santiago was assassinated on Sunday responding to a call at a local Walgreens. Yesterday, over a 1,000 people lined up outside a funeral home to salute an officer who gave his life in service to a city in the hard, urban core. Officer Santiago was 23 and — during his wake — was promoted to the rank of Detective and given the Medal of Honor in death by the Mayor of Jersey City.
I do a lot of walking in New York City and Jersey City. There’s one particular corner in Jersey City that always strikes fear deep in my heart and stabs me down betwixt my toes with absolute pity and terror: The “crosswalk” — angularly located at the bisection of Nardone Place and John F. Kennedy Boulevard West — spans five lanes of traffic, at least six turning car angles aiming straight at you, and a long walk that means you actually must run as fast as you can to make it safely across the street.
Our two iPad Airs arrived via FedEx Air this morning — straight up at 10:00am — and I haven’t been able to put down either of them ever since they landed in my hands.
Yes, the iPads Airs are incredibly thin and light. I thought a mistake had been made and we were instead sent the new retina iPad Minis — I can’t imagine I’d want an iPad that was any smaller than the Air. It’s just the perfect size, filled with magic and mysticism from the first touch out of the box.
Replacing our old iPad 3s with our new iPad Airs in my Verizon Wireless online account was dead simple. Enter the new IMEIs. Enter the SIM card numbers. Boom! Done. Running. We have 4G LTE liftoff! I want all my iPads to be on Verizon LTE. Hurricane Sandy taught me that hard lesson against WiFi-only devices. Stay safe. Stay ultra-connected via many tethers back to the real world.
The first thing I did after updating my iPad via my iCloud backup account — talk about ease and transparency, thy name is iCloud — was to set up my iPad as a hotspot and run my MacBook Air through the connection for internet service.
Here’s the Xfinity report card: 13.8 MB down and 0.30 up. Down is excellent and up is awful — is that news? — but it’s all workable and doable together for the way 99% of us will use these sorts of short-life hotspots.
One year ago today, 8.5 million people in the New York City area were without heat or power as Hurricane Sandy blasted the soft middle of our lives — thrusting us backward a hundred years behind a wall of water into at least three days of cold and darkness:
Monday night, at 11:00 pm sharp in Jersey City, New Jersey, the lights went out and stayed off until last night at 7:43pm. That’s three days without power or heat. Hurricane Sandy was a massively nasty beast, and we’re just now starting the recovery process. We are hungry and scavenging for food. Supermarkets are closed. Few places have power.
For many of those directly touched by the floodwater a year ago, life has yet to return to normal, and many will never recover the good lives they once had before the storm; and that is a clear failure of the government safety net and the lack of any sort of real social fabric that meshes us together. The King has no clothes, and we don’t, either!
When it is better, and more profitable, to cut and run and abandon than it is to stay and rebuild and recover — we all have a problem.
When I was on my recent Red Squares walking tour of Jersey City, I happened upon some street construction that gave me a chance for an aesthetic and professional mulligan: Exposed cobblestones on their way to disappearing again for three decades!
I whipped out my new iPhone 5S and awkwardly began taking photographs to make up for a previously lost opportunity articulated here in a comments stream from two months ago:
I did not take photos of the cobblestones! Gah! I was always mesmerized by them and felt such sadness that the beauty would soon be covered up. I’ll have to look for another street in the area to document! …
Our cobblestones were like square granite bricks and they were put in the street end down — creating a long-lasting, and deep stone that would never wear away. …
I only know the cobblestones here are so massive because I tried to dig one out to keep! I couldn’t do it. Too massive. Too heavy. Too deeply seated in 1600 soil! …
They just covered up the old cobblestones again. They’ll be hidden for the next 30 years until they re-pave it all again.
Here we go! Caught, in situ, exposed cobblestones half-dead under hot, new, asphalt — and a burning morning sun — but now also half-alive for forever and a half-life, exposed, and memorialized here in this article!
We all like to belong — and when we are told we are no longer part of the core, there is concern that something grander has been lost in the translation between being being and living.
Our building Super recently told me that he’s surprised we’ve lived here so long — rented so long — because we “don’t fit” in the building or in our neighborhood.
I told him I found that an odd statement to make because we have never been late on the rent, we have lived here for over 12 years, and we have never made a single complaint about anyone or requested any sort of maintenance from the landlord.
Over the past couple of weeks, Janna and I were given a hardcore beatdown in the housing market as we tried to figure out how, when, and where to finally buy our first home in Jersey City or New York City. We quickly found that an FHA loan — a Federally-sponsored mortgage program where you only have to put down 3.5% of the purchase price instead of the standard 20% — is but a dip in the yonder horizon: A great idea in theory, but an impossible dream in reality.
The 2008 housing crash ruined everything for the first-time home buyer. Nobody trusts anybody now. Everybody’s playing an angle. Everyone wants a quick and fast and dirty deal and nobody wants to deal with the red tape the FHA loans now require.
As one of Janna’s Black co-workers told her, “An FHA mortgage means to sellers and brokers that you’re Black and can’t afford a real down payment. They don’t want to deal with that. Try again later when you have more cash for 20% down.”