Ironbound

There has to be a fairly good reason to get me to go to New Jersey. The bad roads, the pervasive smell of Aquanet, the incessant playing of the Sopranos theme song…other than cheap gas, there’s not much to recommend it. And Newark is not exactly the crown jewel in New Jersey’s collection of cities; it’s not Camden, but then few places without a NATO no-fly zone over them are. Nonetheless, we headed off to the Ironbound section of Newark in search of Little Portugal.

The camera in tow was my PEN EES-2, loaded with Ektar 100. I’d been dealing with a sticky aperture problem, which I resolved prior to this trip, but little did I know that the shutter would now become similarly uncooperative. As a result most of my photos ended up overexposed. Ah well, such is the lot of the Filmosaur. I scanned them and ran a few shots through GIMP to improve them a bit; they’re better, but some of the colors look a little off, and there’s some grain that wasn’t there originally. I didn’t bother to remove the dust spots either – just pretend they’re UFOs or something.

This would have been a better shot is A) I’d been closer, B) the shutter had fired at 1/200 like it was supposed to, and C) the focus had been better (I think it was a little off, but has since been adjusted). The guy on the ladder, the “Carter’s Little Liver Pills” sign, the bright highlights – lots of potential, most of which I squandered.

There’s something incongruous about huge mounds of tropical fruit piled high in the dead of winter. There are a lot of bright colors in Ironbound. Against the backdrop of an otherwise very grey urban landscape, it stands out.

Lots of colorful characters too, most of whom did not seem to look to kindly upon people pointing cameras at them. This guy just didn’t seem to care about it, or much else. I only wish he’d been smoking a cigar….

Portuguese cuisine seems to revolve around the sort of marine life usually relegated to old episodes of The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau or maybe Flipper. A box of fishheads seemed positively mundane next to the collection of aquarium oddities.

Thankfully, the need for a drink was easily met.

And so we left for the greener pastures across the river, along a road that seemed to have been imported from Beruit circa 1982 and with the smell of Aquanet filtering through the vents. Ironbound is a weird little pocket of something in the middle of a lot of nothing. But I’ve gone to New Jersey for a lot less.


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