When in Newark, don't leave your car on the street.
Earlier this week, my car was nearly stolen from in front of the Pentecostal Church down the block from my S.O's house in Newark, NJ. Did I mention, that it was in broad daylight?
I am the 5th victim of this crime within 6 degrees of separation. My boyfriend's car was stolen within 10 minutes of him being in the Bodega. They found it a week later--half of it that is. The engine was gone, as were the front seats, the headlights, the radio--and my snow boots. Two days later, a friend of ours was badly injured when the driver of a stolen car ran a red light and slammed into her totalling her car. Neighbor's car stolen and recovered twice. Another friend, stolen, totalled, and during the theft a pedestrian was seriously injured.
Newark is unsaveable.
And its not because I got my car stolen. And its not because city also has a high murder rate, unemployment rate, and drop out rate amongst other challenges just like most large urban environments. Sheeeeeit, Bawduhmore has a heron problem and I live there and love it.
Its unsaveable because of its unnerving sense of apathy. I have never seen so much apathy, selfishness, and unfathomable belief that in order for Newark to "keep it real", its gotta "keep it Gangsta" in my life. In every city I have ever lived there is still a critical mass of folks give a shit. They move fast enough and loud enough to mute the apathy. Not so here. who Al you gotta do is sit in a beauty salon, barber shop or stand in line at the grocery to know that for every citizen who is sick of the crime and dirt, there is at least three times as much apathy apathy about trying to do something about it.
I believe that cities like Baltimore, Cleveland and Philly-- hard hit by riots, the dispersion of manufacturing jobs, and the decline of the school system--can still be rebuilt, reinvented, and reinvigorated. Though it has not been wholesale, there are large pockets of thoughtful planning and development going on all over these towns.
Not so much in Newark. A couple big luxury towers next door to Penn Station does that not make especially compared to the monstrous three family brick structures going up everywhere--thanks to former Mayor James' land give away to those who he favored.
What about Cory Booker--young, bright, full of energy, and beat the pants off a mayor who tried every dirty trick in the book to keep him from office? Well, folks are ready to set him out to pasture. His honesty about the budget, his attempts to bring in some young vibrant talent to overhaul city hall, his block by block approach to drug dealing and drug related murders, have not been good enough for the masses. They thought he would change it overnight--or at least build some more community centers or other public works named after the former mayor.
At one time, I believed that Newark was just like Cleveland--and it is in someways. After Mayor Booker got elected I badly wanted to work for him. I got offered a job working for the Deputy Mayor for Economic and Community Development. And after thinking about it I just couldn't do it. After really deciphering how the woman who was heading the department felt about the task, it seemed like a suicide mission.
Perhaps, I am just as bad.