Monday, March 3, 2008

The 80/20 principle

Glen and I are hoping, as winter begins to melt away, to take the camera around town and get some photos of Trenton. This weekend, we took a quick run over to the parking garage near the train station, took the elevator to the top deck, and got some pictures of the city.

Before we even got to the parking garage (I put a red dot on the satellite image of it, below, image courtesy of Google Maps, which rock), we were looking at the attractive, old cemetery on S. Clinton Avenue (I put a yellow dot on the image below where the cemetery is), thinking about the trip we took to Camden a few months ago (I blogged about the differences and similarities between Trenton and Camden here).

(Image courtesy of Google Maps)

What struck us in Camden, was the condition of an old cemetery, which was well on its way to becoming a landfill. No, Trenton hasn't sunk that low, but the cemetery across from the Trenton train station sees thousands of people walking by each week, many are non-residents, going to and from work. This cemetery is loaded up with litter, along the boundary it shares with the sidewalk. People, unfortunately, as a whole, have some piggish tendencies, and I'd be willing to bet money that the locals are piggier than the outsiders. I blame the locals because commuters tend to not drink on the way to work, and/or toss their empties into cemeteries, or discard their old prescription drug containers in cemeteries when there are perfectly good trash cans at their homes and offices. Because of the the tight space between the bars of the fencing, I don't have many full landscape shots to show you all the litter, but this kinda sums up what every few inches of the sidewalk edge of the cemetery looks like.

Glen and I thought about going in, maybe to clean up, maybe to just assess the damage — it was an impulsive thought, quickly dashed by the fact the gates were chained up.

We made our way over to the parking deck, and saw a happy little squirrel with an entire chocolate chip cookie. Lucky guy!

I love chocolate chip cookies, too.

Once atop the garage, we walked around and I took some shots in each direction, as best as I was able. True West was difficult because the buildings in front of the garage on S. Clinton Avenue, are a wee bit taller than the parking garage.

To the North:

To the Northwest:

To the South:

Over all, the view of the South Ward was the most hopeful, and it wasn't just because the sun shone on it ever so nicely. But I'm not sure why vandals and/or community activists have not yet climbed the Manex water tower and removed the big M Logo of Betrayal. I hope someone gets on that soon. If you need pointers, just ask the guys in the North Ward along Olden who keep capturing the water tower in the name of the city's Polish, or the Bloods, or whatever group is ambitious enough to climb up it with several cans of paint on any given month. I know it represents a serious character defect, but wow, I admire people who vandalize water towers. Sure, their energy could and should be harnessed for more productive acts, acts more helpful to society, but you gotta admit they are different than your average, petty graffiti artists. ANYONE could tag an overpass, or the side of the building. I never have, but I know I could if I wanted (but I don't). And if I could do it, anyone could, and that's why the knuckleheads who make street-level scribble are so incredibly lame and vulgar. It takes a special, brave, dedicated someone to climb a hundred or more feet in the air, carrying paint and brushes, risking life, limb, and arrest, to spread their message. Don't you think?

The Logo of Betrayal must be wiped clean.

Come on, water tower artists, the Manex Tower is essentially a smooth, blank canvas awaiting your colorful brand of love. To quote West Ward Council rep, Annette Lartigue (somewhat out of context, admittedly), "Take it back, take it back."

I spent a lot of time taking pictures of the East Ward, which is where we live. It looks abysmal from on top of the garage, and while we know there are plenty of beautiful homes and tree-lined streets, what struck us was that an outsider would basically see a ruined, rusted, burned-out, boarded-up landscape, with the towers of Trenton Central High School poking proudly through the wreckage. So I want to thank the school board personally for guaranteeing the school's fate will be that akin to all the decay in the foreground.

And to finish up, here's a shot directly below where we were standing:

Maybe this is a tire obstacle? Location: outside the Salvation Army fence on East State Street.

It's so distressing that the views of Trenton, to our visitors, are, on a whole, so sad, so uninspiring, and send a clear message that we're content to shit where we eat and sleep, something most species do not do. Plenty of us do care, and do engage in activities which help. But what a challenge: for every one of us working to improve our city in the ways that we can, there are at least four people who are not helping — that's a guess, nothing scientific, though I base it roughly on the 80/20 principle: 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. It's a consolation, in a sense, to frame the same thought in terms of the losers and knuckleheads around town, too: 80% of the damage is done by only 20% of the losers and knuckleheads. Maybe we can reach those people in the gray area and pull them over to our side. Maybe.


Dan G. Tawnie said...

You gotta believe me on this; I was seriously considering turning your advice into actions and taking photos of Trenton for fodder of my blog.

My first thought; the top level of the parking garage by the train station. Great minds think alike I guess as you beat me too it. Honestly though, that's one of the best views of the city and will only get better.

You did a fine job of capturing the essence and I congratulate on that. Now I just have to find another spot to do the same. Haha.

Chrissy said...

Thanks, Mr. Tawnie! And sorry to find your spot first! There are other great rooftop views from around the city, though. In the mid-1990s, I was able to climb up the back of the State House (I should dig up those pictures...they were pretty neat), but I'd bet that was frowned upon then, and probably downright illegal now, but you never know. Also, the Cigar Factory (Grand Court Villas) has got some great views from the upper floors, and there are parking garages all over, particularly along East and West State Streets. Good views from the museum/planetarium too. And if you're one of those brave souls who is willing to climb a water tower, well, it's probably easier to haul a camera -- even a big one with different lenses -- than buckets of paint. Endless options, and I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Dan G. Tawnie said...

I'd love to see the ones from the State House as I really doubt you could get up there now.

Me climb up a water tower?! I'll pass thanks.

Pressure's on now.

Anonymous said...

Very good pictures. Post the one from the State House. pbaman