For those of us who live in or spend a lot of time in Jersey City, the frenzied state of overdevelopment and the massive construction projects which seem to pop up every week are enough to make us throw our arms up in disgust and shake our fists heavenward at some unseen god. (Or just move to Brooklyn.) It's a problem that's exacerbated by the fact that in most cases, most of what gets built around here is useless crap. If it's not a towering condoplex like Montgomery Greene (I'm suspicious of any living quarters with errant vowels tagged onto their names, or that are referred to as 'dwellings'... Though if you're single, inviting someone back to your 'dwelling' for a 'nightcap' is much sexier than trying to lure them to some mere 'apartment' for filtered water), it's yet another nail salon, dollar store, or washing machine repair shop. (My favorite example of late is the crappy dollar store on Newark Avenue which closed, and after months of shuttered windows and speculation on behalf of the locals as to what might open up in its place, we were finally rewarded with.... another dollar store!)
Now I've got nothing against dollar stores and nail salons, but my point is we've already got plenty of 'em. And more importantly, they don't adequately reflect the now attitude of your average Jersey dweller. We're chronic little fish over here on this side of the river, you know. And much like our Brooklyn nemesi, we have in many ways boarded ourselves up and declared that geographical conveniences be damned, Jersey City doesn't need Manhattan because we've got everything we need right here! Drive-thru liquor stores, terrifying shopping malls, the Pulaski Skyway, a great movie theater, a great radio station, and most importantly, a host of bitchin' rock bands that we've vaulted to international stardom. It's high time to do something to honor that legacy. To wit: I am pleased to present for your consideration, artist Joe Heaps Nelson's proposal for the Jersey Rocks Triumphal Arch.
From the artist's proposal:
"I propose a monument to the state of New Jersey in the form of a gigantic triumphal arch straddling the six lanes of traffic emerging from the Holland Tunnel. The arch would span Jersey City's 14th Street (westbound) between Grove and Erie Streets, just before 14th Street splits into onramps for the New Jersey Turnpike and U.S. 1/9.
Atop the arch, 15 foot tall limestone letters five feet thick proclaim "JERSEY ROCKS". The great seals of the state of New Jersey and the United States adorn the upper part of the façade. Atop the keystone is perched an eagle, symbol of our great nation, not coincidentally a favorite creature of the mythic heavy metal imagination. The majestic eagle represents spiritual transcendence and imperial glory.
The giant statue on the left is Jon Bon Jovi, True Son of Jersey (Perth Amboy), the golden headbanger with the Wheaties box smile, as Caesar Augustus, conqueror of the world, representing rockin' out, spectacular popular commercial success, the Sound of Jersey crashing mightily against foreign shores. He's seen a million faces, and rocked them all. The giant statue on the right is Dave Wyndorf of Monster Magnet, True Son of Jersey (Red Bank), as the sinister seer, the funky hermit, representing darkness incarnate, the barbarian impulse, expanded consciousness, the psychedelic embodiment of our too-heavy nightmares. These dual aspects of the Jersey Rock psyche are reconciled via the hallowed tradition of throwin' the goats.
New Jersey deserves a monument to its rockers just because the state rocks so hard. A veritable Valhalla-on-Earth, the Garden State has produced rock luminaries Bon Jovi, Monster Magnet, the Atomic Bitchwax, the Misfits, Adrenalin O.D., Skid Row, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Ice-T, Patti Smith, Deborah Harry, the Smithereens, Paul Simon, Joe Walsh, Les Paul, Black NASA, Lord Sterling, Core, the Want, Biz Markie, Queen Latifah, Jay and Silent Bob, Aaron Burr, Thomas Edison, and G. Gordon Liddy.
Not only have many of the greatest performers in the history of Rock & Roll sprung from Jersey soil, the passion of Jersey fans is a genuine sociological phenomenon which inspires even the most jaded touring professionals... The JERSEY ROCKS Triumphal Arch is a monument to the rockers of Jersey, living and dead, past, present, and future."
The Jersey Rocks Memorial Arch proposal will be on view at Victory Hall in Jersey City, as part of the exhibition MONUMENTAL, Imaginary Monuments to New Jersey, from March 25 - April 23, 2006.
The opening reception is Saturday, March 25, 7 - 10 pm. Victory Hall, 186 Grand Street, Jersey City.