Everything has changed. I commute to work each morning along the New Jersey Turnpike, while listening to Sirius radio and snippets of Imus in the Morning. I took these pictures without even looking through the eyepiece. Just pointed in the general direction of my subjects and shot.
My route, from Jersey City to Princeton, takes me through the industrial heartland of Jersey, the place that Manhattan leftists love to hate. For it is here that the car culture is shaped and serviced. Japanese imports arrive by the tens of thousands at the container ports and are parked in mammoth lots alongside the Turnpike while they await transport into the interior. Oil tanks hold millions of gallons of crude.
I work a 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift, in an attempt to avoid the crazy rush hour traffic on the Turnpike. I hit the road by 6 a.m. and I’m back home by 4 p.m.
As the sun rises, I cruise past Newark Airport, oil refineries, container ports, electric generating plants and immense warehouses. For some years, I played the leftist game of decrying the ugliness of this landscape. But, in fact, I find it sublime and beautiful. This area serves as the giant generator that makes New York City work.
What a wondrous achievement by men! The problems we all love to gnash our teeth over… population density, pollution, congestion, etc. … are symptoms of man’s enormous brilliance and success. Our new immigrants know this. The corridor from Jersey City to Princeton teems with newly arrived Indians, who man the gas stations, write code at the colleges and businesses and staff the millions of service agencies.
The intellectuals of Manhattan hold their noses and scoff at the enthusiasm and work ethic of these immigrants. This is, in reality, snobbery. Holding such zeal and hard work in disdain is a demonstration that one no longer hungers for money, success and position.
If you are a small town boy born to poverty, like me, the huge oil tanks and bustling ports inspire awe and hope. There is money to be made here. I am not condemned to the life of my father and grandfathers, God bless their souls. This is what they dreamed for me.