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Five Things to Do in Newark, NJ

Located across the Hudson River, Newark is the largest city in New Jersey and the third oldest of the major cities in the United States. Not a typical or popular tourist destination, Newark has plenty to offer.

With a population of more than 270,000, it is one of the state’s most ethnically diverse cities with African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians, etc. A significant Brazilian and Portuguese population is concentrated in the Ironbound district, also called “Little Portugal.” Ironbound is known for its European feel, restaurants and the annual Portuguese Festival which is held in June.

Basilica of the Sacred Heart

Five Things to Do in Newark –

  • New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) – Home of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, NJPAC is the sixth largest performance arts center in the U.S.
  • Newark Symphony Hall – the oldest and largest showcase for the arts in New Jersey. (I saw a concert there sometime ago. Tickets for the same show at Rockefeller Center in NY was way more expensive!)
  • Newark Museum – New Jersey’s largest museum of the arts and natural sciences
  • Institute of Jazz Studies – Located at the Newark campus of Rutgers University, it is the largest and most comprehensive library and archive of jazz and jazz-related materials in the world
  • Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart – the fifth largest cathedral in the U.S., it is an impressive looking building.

Getting there –

Newark is approximately only 8 miles from New York City and easily accessible via New Jersey Transit. By train to Newark’s Penn Station or Newark Liberty International Airport if you fly in.

Where to Stay

Enjoy Newark!

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Newark Museum

It’s Memorial Day

Picture of graves decorated with flags at Arli...
Image via Wikipedia

Memorial Day is the day set aside to remember the those men and women who have died for this country.

Personally, I’m conflicted about war but I’m clear about this: It isn’t the war, it’s the people – fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts and cousins – who matter. They matter because of the sacrifice they make.

I visited to Arlington National Cemetery twice when I lived in Washington, D.C. The first thing that struck me were the rows and rows of pearly headstones — stretching as far as my eye could see — set atop a carpet of lush green grass. As I walked around, I was struck by the eerie silence that hangs like a blanket over the cemetery. I found myself whispering when there was no need to. As if talking would be irreverent.

As far as I know, I don’t know anyone who’s buried at Arlington but I know it’s an honor to be.

And having lost close family members, I can imagine the grief their loved ones feel.

Years ago, when a holiday was declared to honor Martin Luther King, many of my friends said we had to make sure that the day didn’t turn into a day for sales.

I’m not sure when Memorial Day weekend became known as the unofficial start of summer or when Memorial Day evolved into a day for sales but to my mind it cheapens the memory of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Arlington National Cemetery is open 365 days a year. From 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from April to September and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from October to March.

Soulful Sundays: Aretha Franklin

I’ve been an Aretha Franklin fan for a long time. I thought I had heard every song she’s sung.

Aretha Franklin - photo courtesy of

One morning, I heard a DJ mention an Aretha song that, in his estimation, was one of her best. But, he added, wasn’t as well known as her others. He played the song and I had to agree. It was Ain’t No Way.

I went out that same day and bought the cassette tape (yeah, it was that long ago. I still have it!), played it over and over in the car on the way home and for months later. It captured my imagination.

Ain’t No Way

Ain’t no way for me to love you,
if you won’t let me.
It ain’t no way for me to give you all you need,
if you won’t let me give all of me.
I know that a woman’s duty is to help and love a man,
and that’s the way it was planned.
Oh, but how can I, how can I, how can I
give you all the things I can,
if you’re tying both of my hands?

Oh, it ain’t no way (ain’t no way).
It ain’t no way (ain’t no way).
It just ain’t no way, baby (ain’t no way).
Ain’t no way baby (ain’t no way).
It ain’t no way for me to love you,
if you won’t let me.

Stop trying to be someone you’re not.
How cold and cruel is a man
who pay too much for what he got?
And if you need me to love you, say, say you do.
Oh, then baby, baby, baby don’t you know that
I need you.
Oh, Oh, it ain’t no way.
I’ll tell you that it ain’t no way,
It ain’t no way.
It ain’t no way, baby, no.
It just ain’t no way.
It sure ain’t no way
It ain’t no way for me to love you,
if you won’t let me…


Ain\’t No Way

Aretha will be performing in July at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in Babylon, NY. I would love to see her again but I doubt I’ll be able to. If I had my choice, though, I’d see her in a more intimate setting.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Water

Sometimes, the best photos are the ones imprinted on our minds. They capture more than just the images.

That thought was in my mind as I looked through my collection to select the photos for this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge. There’s an image related to water that I wish I had captured on film so I could share.

Fountain at the Louvre - Maynephoto

Some people can’t live without the mountains, I can’t live without water. I love looking at, playing in and being around it. But from time to time, I get so caught up in the everyday that I forget that I need water to wash away the rough edges, to balance and smooth me out. Sometimes, I even forget that I actually live on an island and am therefore surrounded by water.

I remember the day several years ago when I jumped into a cab in a mad rush to get to Penn Station. I was late and pressed the driver to hurry. I could feel the tension in my body when I settled into the back seat.

As the cab zoomed crosstown, I became so overwhelmed by the worry that I wouldn’t make the train that I was oblivious to everything around me. When the car turned onto the West Side Highway, something caused me to look up.

There it was. The Hudson River. I fell silent as I stared at the water, deep blue and sparkling under the mid-day sun. My worry fell away and a calm washed over me. I continued to stare even as we turned off the highway.

There would be another train, I thought.

In a canoe off Jamaica's southwest coast, ©Maynefoto

More thoughts on the significance of water came to me as I sifted through my photos. I used to reject anything that came easily. Life was about struggle. Swimming upstream meant whatever was achieved was worth it.  Then I realized how sweeter it is to be in alignment with one’s purpose and go with the flow.

Cape Town, South Africa, ©Maynefoto

I was looking out the window in the kitchen of my uncle’s house in Canada when the scene changed and I was standing on the beach in Jamaica that I used to go as a child. I was near a sea grape tree, looking towards the ocean. I could taste and smell the sea and raised my hand to shade my eyes from the sun dancing on the waves. Suddenly, I was back in the kitchen but overwhelmed by homesickness. I decided to go home and did the next morning.

I spent a beautiful week with the only grandfather I knew. He died a week to the day I arrived.

Golden Mile Beach, Durban ©Maynefoto

Me, a teenager, sneaking off to the river with friends when my mom said not to leave the house and almost getting carried away by the current. I stopped struggling and floated to the surface.

Avon River, Bath, England ©Maynefoto

Going to Coney Island Beach one rainy Thanksgiving Day. Passing the changing area and stepping onto the sand to the sound of the waves as they crashed ashore, the birds calling to each other and feeling at peace. I cried that day on the beach, in the rain. For joy.

May 28th, Start of Beach Season

Hoffman Island; and to the right, Swinburne Is...
Image via Wikipedia

Memorial Day weekend marks the official/unofficial start of summer and tomorrow, May 28th, kicks off beach season.

And not a moment too soon. It’s been a long and brutal winter in the Northeast and I, for one, am ready for some sea and sun!

The best part about being in this area is that most of the beaches are accessible via public transportation: subways or train, whether the Long Island Railroad or New Jersey Transit. There really is no excuse not to go to the beach.

So grab your bathing suits, sunscreen, beach towels, floppy hats and sun glasses and check out at least one of these beaches.

New York City

Long Island

New Jersey

With roughly 700 beaches on its Atlantic coast, New Jersey offers plenty of places to dip your feet in the water. Here are a few:

  • Avalon Beach
  • Belmar Beach
  • Ocean City
  • Point Pleasant (my favorite)
  • Wildwood Beach


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Tasty Thursdays: Street Food

Popular cart
Image by J-Blue via Flickr

When the weather’s good, few of us want to stay indoors, especially at lunch time. And in New York City, vendors with food carts make it easy for those of us who wish to, to enjoy the sun and an inexpensive meal at the same time.

Food trucks are not just around construction sites these days, they’re everywhere. And they’re offering more than just coffee and bagels.

Some offer gourmet food, pastries or desserts.

And some of the more savvy owners go online to let their customers know what’s on their menus, where they will be and at what time.

My introduction to street food (or street meat as a co-worker called it) was from a truck near Rockefeller Center. My chicken and rice rivaled any I could have bought in a restaurant and wasn’t very expensive. In the block around my office, I can buy coffee and bagels for breakfast. For lunch, peas soup, fried fish, curried chicken or oxtail from the mobile extension of a Jamaican restaurant that’s located in Brooklyn. Sometimes before I go down, I check how long the line is or arrange to meet a friend and we catch up while we wait.

I love getting my a meal on the go from a truck, especially when the weather’s good.

Here are a few trucks to check out –

  • World’s Best Sandwich, 20th Street & Broadway
  • Super Tacos, 96th & Broadway
  • Steak Truck, 47th & Park
  • Yvonne’s, 71st & York
  • Trini Paki Boys, 43rd & 6th Ave
  • The Mudtruck East, Astor Place
  • Desi Food Truck, 50th St & 6th Ave

Bon Appetit!

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Related articles

Free Activities for a Memorable New York Summer

Morning Tai Chi in Bryant Park. Most likely Ch...
Tai Chi in Bryant Park, Image via Wikipedia

Even before the thermometer hits and stays constantly at 70 degrees Fahrenheit (or above), New Yorkers begin to take to the outdoors to enjoy weather and the wide variety of free activities that the city offers.

Events are scattered throughout each borough so everyone can take part. From street festivals, to parades to concerts and movies in the park, there’s bound to be something for everyone.

Here’s a partial list of some of the events I’ve attended over the years:

  • SummerStage – 18 parks, 5 boroughs, music, dance, theatre – June 7-September 2
  • Shakespeare in the Park – This year, two plays Measure for Measure and All’s Well That Ends Well – June 6-July 30. Limit 2 tickets per person on the day of the performance or on scheduled days in the boroughs.
  • Farmer’s Markets – Farmers and vendors bring fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, arts, etc., to various venues around the city. One of the biggest, in Union Square, operates year round.
  • Film screenings in Bryant Park – This year’s lineup includes One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The 39 Steps, Dirty Harry. Outdoors on the lawn at Bryant Park.
  • River to River Festival – Movies, music, etc., June 19-July 16th
  • Street Fairs – Block parties, festivals, music, food, fun
  • Opera in the Park – free performances by the Metropolitan Opera in various parks
  • Midsummer Night’s Swing at Lincoln Center – dance lessons and big band ballroom dancing
  • Book Festivals – Harlem Book Fair – books, authors, readings on 135th Street
  • Harlem Week – July and August in Harlem, a celebration of Harlem’s rich history

Good weather is the perfect excuse to get out and have fun.


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New York’s Museum of Art and Design

NYC - Museum of Arts & Design
Image by wallyg via Flickr

New York City’s reputation as the destination for the visual arts is legendary. With major museums, art galleries and exhibition spaces, I could spend every Sunday visiting each one and not see everything on display. So I have to be strategic.

Last weekend, I decided to visit the Museum of Art and Design (MAD) in its new home at Columbus Circle. The brainchild of Aileen Osborn Webb, it was opened in 1956 as the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, with its stated mission to celebrate the work of American craftspeople. The museum was renamed the American Craft Museum in 1979 and finally the Museum of Art and Design in 2002 to reflect its focus on the broader interplay between craft, design, art, architecture, interior design, technology and the performing arts.

My goal last Sunday was to catch the final day of an exhibition called the Global Africa Project, a sweeping look at contemporary African art, design and craft worldwide. Pieces were drawn from the works of over 100 artists working in interior design, fashion, sculpture, photography, paintings, furniture, jewelry, ceramics and textile from Africa, Asia, Europe, the United States and the Caribbean.

I wished I hadn’t waited until the last day as I felt rushed to take it all in but I’m glad I didn’t miss it. It was a great opportunity for me to learn about these artists, the majority of whom I hadn’t heard of before.

My next stop was to view the collection of tapestries documenting the collaboration of the feminist artist and educator, Judy Chicago and weaver Audrey Cowan and her husband, Bob. This is an impressive collection of work designed by Ms. Chicago and interpreted by Ms. Cowan.

The museum has an extensive collection of jewelry, the majority of which is housed in drawers which visitors are encouraged to check out. Most people, however, seem to miss the the sign.

Visit the Open Studios on the 6th floor to watch artists working in jewelry, ceramics, sculpture. Stop by the restaurant for lunch or visit the museum store on the main floor for gifts.

Museums tend to be overwhelming for me so I tend to select one exhibition and soak it all in. Though MAD is smaller than say, the Metropolitan, it’s possible to view all the exhibitions in a day.

One feature that I like is the ability of visitors to the museum’s website to view its collections and curate their own show, like I did here.

The Museum of Art and Design is located at 2 Columbus Circle. Open Tuesdays – Sundays from 11:00 – 6:00 p.m., Thursdays 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., closed on Mondays and major holidays. Entrance is free to members, high school students with ID and children under 12. General admission $15/$12 for seniors/students. On Thursdays from 6:00-9:00 p.m., you can pay as you wish.

A Partial List of Museums in New York

So for your next visit to New York City, make sure to add at least one museum to your list of things to do. Pack comfortable shoes and enjoy!

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Sunday in Central Park

One of the nicest things about living in New York City is Central Park. At more than 800 acres, it is an oasis of green in a sea of concrete and brick.

Running from 59th Street to 110 Street, Central Park receives approximately thirty-five million visitors annually.

It is a popular venue for skating, concerts and theatre, boating, birding, rock climbing, running, walking, bicycling, etc., and is central to the enjoyment of life in the city.

Central Park near 72nd Street
Catch and release at the Turtle Pond

Fishing is not allowed in the park but people still throw out their lines. Whatever they catch has to be returned.

King Jagiello

There are nearly 29 sculptures in Central Park. This one commemorates King Jagiello of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania.

Belvedere Castle

Belvedere Castle offers spectacular views of the park and surroundings from its observation deck. There’s no charge to enter but visitors can leave a donation in boxes on the main level.

Belvedere Castle
Great Lawn from Belvedere Castle

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