January 30, 2010
It’s Saturday morning, and I’m sad the book is done, also relieved, looking out at a still and extremely cold day. The book was Baltasar and Blimunda, so far my favorite of Saramago's, along with Blindness, but B & B is so much younger a.k.a. hopeful in its attitudes. Historical, magical realistic, politically astute, with working class characters.
We went out last night to the new restaurant just opening, Hat City Kitchen. The food was really good, the menu limited so far, but it's home style and Louisiana, full bar, very attractive, and last night anyhow mostly patronized by people from South Orange and Maplewood! There's to be music often, and here's the part that is unusual and really interesting: it is not owned by individuals, but rather by HANDS (Housing and Neighborhood Development Services) in Orange.
The concept is that HANDS has been buying properties and investing in "The Valley" in Orange, the small working class and formerly industrial (hat factories, for example) town north of South Orange and south of West Orange. They are renting spaces to artists, and now opening this moderately upscale or at least, meant-to-be trendy restaurant with music in the bar. I wonder if it will work out?
I’ve got an invitation to participate in a literary reading in another of the HANDS locations, the Luna theater. It seems to me that this is at least possibly part of the spilloover work of our South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race : that we may see white people re-integrating 75% African-American Orange-- for arts and entertainment, but perhaps also the good but cheap housing stock. Regional integration strategy? And what about super-white Millburn? When does that become a location of choice for People of Color?