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Sunday, 24 September 2017
Great Places to Hike In NJ: Clayton Park


Emley’s Hill Road, Upper Freehold (Imlaystown), NJ 


This scenic 443-acre tract in Upper Freehold is located amidst the rolling farmland of western Monmouth  County. A tranquil, wooded property, Clayton Park is known for its stately stands of oak, beech, ash and birch trees. The meadows and Doctor’s Creek add another dimension of natural interest to the park. Nearly 6 miles of forested trails are a popular destination for bicyclists, hikers, and equestrians.

The area surrounding Clayton Park retains its historic charm with older buildings and rural landscape. Pass through the winding main street of quaint Imlaystown nearby to glimpse an authentic 18th-19th century  New Jersey mill village with its narrow roads, closely spaced houses, and old-fashioned landmarks located alongside Imlaystown Lake.
The Park System purchased the first 176 acres of this park in 1978 from farmer Paul Clayton and his daughter Thelma.  Mr. Clayton avoided modern farming methods and worked the fields  by hand with his five horses growing potatoes, tomatoes, grain and corn until 1971 when he retired at age 87. After resisting offers from people interested in purchasing the property to harvest the trees, he sold his farm to the Park System for a price below market value. The remaining acres were added through the years as the Park System acquired adjacent property from local landowners.
 Clayton Park offers rustic appeal and the following limited facilities: an informational kiosk at the trailhead, marked trails, portable toilets, and a gravel parking lot.
 The most outstanding feature of Clayton Park is the natural setting–the trails, creek, fields and forested areas. As such, it is best suited for outdoor recreational pursuits (bicycling, walking, horseback riding, hiking) and nature activities such as birding, or tree and flower appreciation.
 The Park System preserves and manages natural and cultural resources on more than 14,000 acres of land in Monmouth County. Protecting water quality, eliminating invasive plant species, and promoting healthy wildlife populations are just a few objectives. Please help protect the park by leaving flowers, plants, animals, and other features as you found them; adhering to the posted park rules; using designated containers for trash, recyclables, and pet waste; and keeping  your pets leashed. Possessing or consuming alcohol beverages is not permitted.

An overabundance of white-tailed deer in and around the parks is threatening the health of native plant and animal species. Portions of Clayton Park may be open for deer hunting during some or all of the State regulated hunting seasons. All areas open for hunting are clearly posted.
 Clayton Park protects a “high quality” forest with a good structure of herbs, shrubs and trees, and a highly diverse assembly of plants and animals. Notable tree species include the large American beech, black oak, and tulip  poplar. Many ferns such as grape, Christmas and hay-scented line the trails under spicebush and viburnums in the shrub layer.
Clayton Park is one of the best spring wildflower sites in the Park System.  Look for jack-in-the-pulpit (photo right), trout lily  (dogtooth violet), spring beauty, wild geranium and the rarer trillium and wild ginger during April and May. The spotted jewelweed  (Impatiens capensis) pictured on the cover can be seen from July to October.

Also, note how the plant life changes on  trails near the creek, keep your eyes peeled  for bird species (such as the wood thrush and red-tailed hawk), and experience the beauty  of the park’s meadows – a natural habitat  that is quickly disappearing from the county’s suburban landscape.
Trails A favorite spot for all-terrain bicyclists, Clayton Park offers approximately 6 miles of rugged, mostly moderate trails for outdoor enthusiasts. Please obey the rules of protocol for right of way on the trails: bicyclists yield to all other trail users, and pedestrians yield to equestrians. Stay on the marked trails, plan your route and take a trail map with you.

At a brisk pace, it takes approximately  20 minutes to walk 1.0 mile.


 Trail Key Glen Trail - An Easy 0.7 mile (1.1 km) loop trail through the solitude of Clayton Forest.
Bridges Trail - Moderate 1.8 mile (2.6 km ) diverse hike through forest and fields.

Access to the following trails requires traveling some  distance along Bridges Trail.

Doctor’s Creek - This Moderate 1.6 mile (2.6 km) trail provides great wetland views       from the forest as it winds along Doctor’s      Creek, which drains into the Delaware River.

Old Forge Trail - A Moderate 1.5 mile (2.4 km) trail that explores the core of  Clayton forest. It takes it’s name from an old  forge previously located on the property.
Trail Standards Easy: well-maintained or paved, shorter trails intended for casual walking.

Moderate: longer trails with some grades/obstructions intended for hiking,  equestrians and all-terrain bicycles (may be   suitable for some walkers and runners).

Challenging: long, more primitive trails, with steep grades or obstructions; intended for hardy experienced hikers, equestrians, and all-terrain cyclists.

Fitness: walking/running trails with exercise stations. Follow signs for stations

Posted by tammyduffy at 6:09 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 24 September 2017 6:10 AM EDT
Saturday, 16 September 2017
Microfluidic Device Tracks Cancer Evolution



 Microfluidic Device Tracks Cancer Evolution


 An understanding of the evolution of breakaway cancer cells responsible for metastasis (spread) of the disease has been elusive. A new microfluidic device engineered at the University of Michigan could help fill knowledge gaps in this field.

The device consists of three tiny molded channels through which cells flow and can be cultivated for at least three weeks in culture. Cell survival in existing microfluidic systems is measured on the order of days, preventing observations of cancer cell change with time.

In the new system, cells appear as a thin milky line in a chamber that’s smaller than a pillbox. They are actually suspended in three dimensions, unlike typical fluidic devices that capture cells in two dimensions. Researchers can feed cancer cells into the device with very minimal disturbance or change to the cells.

Cells are fed into one channel while fluid flows through a parallel channel to provide pressure and flow without disturbing the culture. The flow of fluid through the outer channel mimics what happens with the body’s capillaries. In testing two lines of metastatic prostate cancer cells, researchers successfully isolated leader cells that induce metastasis.

After two weeks, cells from one line were observed to be twice as invasive as the other cell line. That difference disappeared by three weeks, suggesting that the invasive potential of cells may change over time.

By determining differences in the molecular signature between cells that invade and those that don’t, researchers could target the molecular underpinning with therapies to prevent cancer from invading—essentially keeping the cancer confined and preventing metastasis.

The microfluidic device will next be used to analyze triple-negative breast cancer, a particularly aggressive form of the disease. Once the leader cells are identified, the team will begin looking at whether these cells have different genetic or molecular markers than the less-aggressive cells.

Posted by tammyduffy at 4:19 PM EDT
Sunday, 10 September 2017
China looks at ending sales of gasoline cars


 China looks at ending sales of gasoline cars

China's industry ministry is developing a timetable to end production and sale of traditional fuel cars and will promote development of electric technology, state media on Sunday cited a Cabinet official as saying.

The reports gave no possible target date, but Beijing is stepping up pressure on automakers to accelerate development of electrics.

China is the biggest auto market by number of vehicles sold, giving any policy changes outsize importance for the global industry.

A deputy industry minister, Xin Guobin, said at an auto industry forum on Saturday his ministry has begun "research on formulating a timetable to stop production and sales of traditional energy vehicles," according to the Xinhua News Agency and the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily.

France and Britain announced in July they will stop sales of gasoline and diesel automobiles by 2040 as part of efforts to reduce pollution and carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.

Communist leaders also want to curb China's growing appetite for imported oil and see electric cars as a promising industry in which their country can take an early lead.

China passed the United States last year as the biggest electric car market. Sales of electrics and gasoline-electric hybrids rose 50 percent over 2015 to 336,000 vehicles, or 40 percent of global demand. U.S. sales totaled 159,620.

The reports of Xin's comments in the eastern city of Tianjin gave no other details about electric car policy but cited him as saying Beijing plans to "elevate new energy vehicles to a new strategic level."

Beijing has supported electric development with billions of dollars in research subsidies and incentives to buyers, but is switching to a quota system that will shift the financial burden to automakers.

Under the proposed quotas, electric and hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles would have to make up 8 percent of each automaker's output next year, 10 percent in 2019 and 12 percent in 2020. Automakers that fail to meet their target could buy credits from competitors that have a surplus.

Beijing has ordered state-owned Chinese power companies to speed up installation of charging stations to increase the appeal of electrics.

Chinese automaker BYD Auto, a unit of battery maker BYD Ltd., is the world's biggest electric maker by number of units sold. It sells gasoline-electric hybrid sedans and SUVs in China and markets all-electric taxis and buses in the United States, Europe and Latin America as well as in China.

Volvo Cars, owned by China's Geely Holding Group, announced plans this year to make in China for global sale starting in 2019.

General Motors Co., Volkswagen AG and Nissan Motor Co. and others have announced they are launching or looking at joint ventures with Chinese partners to develop and manufacture electric vehicles in China.


Posted by tammyduffy at 6:47 PM EDT
Sunday, 3 September 2017
Sewer Plant Failure in Hamilton



Sewer Plant Failure in Hamilton




Hamilton residents have noticed that their toilets are not flushing in the manner they used to. There is a good reason for that. 



In Aug 2015, Duffy Cultural Couture reported on a potential building moratorium that could happen in Hamilton, Mercer County. The Mayor was contacted on this matter, and the leadership was unresponsive then. The leadership brags about the influx of building and business growth in the town, however, they have done nothing to optimize the sewer plant. 


(See article from Aug 2015)



When wastewater treatment plants fail, the environment takes the hit, and so do the people who want to use public waters for drinking water, food or recreation.  Could there be a coincidence to the recent increase in lead to the water in Hamilton with this failure at the sewer plant?


This past week the Hamilton Sewer plant failed. There was a chemical spill at the plant this week reported by the Trenton Times.

However, the truth of the matter is, this spill began 3 months ago. For the past three months, ferric chloride was pumped through the system and discolored the Crosswicks Creek water.  The Ferric Chloride released, which was added to the “off” channel is in the thousands of gallons. The Ferric Chloride has completely eaten away on the flights of screen bars and stainless turn valves down to ¾ of an inch. The internal leadership is touting that the channels were “mislabeled”.

The cost to fix this issue is going to be huge for township residents. The gross negligence of the leadership and those running the plant has created quite a shit storm about to hit residents, literally. In a statement released by the Mayor’s office, she was very specific to say, “The treatment plant has not exceeded any of its permit parameters for routine discharge during this past month (August).”  This was not the case the other months.

Ferric chloride is designated as a hazardous substance under section 311(b)(2)(A) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and further regulated by the Clean Water Act Amendments of 1977 and 1978. These regulations apply to discharges of this substance. It is highly corrosive to metal.  Below are from an MSDS sheet for Ferric Chloride.

Hazard Statements (GHS-US) : H290 - May be corrosive to metals H302 - Harmful if swallowed H314 - Causes severe skin burns and eye damage H318 - Causes serious eye damage H401 - Toxic to aquatic life H411 - Toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects Precautionary Statements (GHS-US) : P234 - Keep only in original container. P260 - Do not breathe mist, spray, vapors. P264 - Wash hands, forearms and face thoroughly after handling. P270 - Do not eat, drink, or smoke when using this product. P273 - Avoid release to the environment. P280 - Wear eye protection, face protection, protective clothing, protective gloves. P301+P312 - If swallowed: Call a POISON CENTER, or doctor if you feel unwell. P301+P330+P331 - If swallowed: rinse mouth. Do NOT induce vomiting. P303+P361+P353 – IF ON SKIN (or hair): Take off immediately all contaminated clothing.

According to the Township’s Engineering Annual report, the Department of Public Works was charged with the inspection and maintenance of the streams and drainage systems. They were also charged with keeping the logs and all records of the activities in which they participate.

Wastewater treatment is treated as a water use because it is so interconnected with the other uses of water. Much of the water used by homes, industries, and businesses must be treated before it is released back to the environment.

If the term "wastewater treatment" is confusing to you, you might think of it as "sewage treatment." Nature has an amazing ability to cope with small amounts of water wastes and pollution, but it would be overwhelmed if we didn't treat the billions of gallons of wastewater and sewage produced every day before releasing it back to the environment. Treatment plants reduce pollutants in wastewater to a level nature can handle.

Wastewater is used water. It includes substances such as human waste, food scraps, oils, soaps and chemicals. In homes, this includes water from sinks, showers, bathtubs, toilets, washing machines and dishwashers. Businesses and industries also contribute their share of used water that must be cleaned.

It's a matter of caring for our environment and for our own health. There are a lot of good reasons why keeping our water clean is an important priority:

Clean water is critical to plants and animals that live in water. This is important to the fishing industry, sport fishing enthusiasts, and future generations.


Our rivers and ocean waters teem with life that depends on shoreline, beaches and marshes. They are critical habitats for hundreds of species of fish and other aquatic life. Migratory water birds use the areas for resting and feeding.


If it is not properly cleaned, water can carry disease. Since we live, work and play so close to water, harmful bacteria have to be removed to make water safe.

If wastewater is not properly treated, then the environment and human health can be negatively impacted. These impacts can include harm to fish and wildlife populations, oxygen depletion, beach closures and other restrictions on recreational water use, restrictions on fish and shellfish harvesting and contamination of drinking water. Some examples of pollutants that can be found in wastewater and the potentially harmful effects these substances can have on ecosystems and human health:

· decaying organic matter and debris can use up the dissolved oxygen in a lake so fish and other aquatic biota cannot survive;

· excessive nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen (including ammonia), can cause eutrophication, or over-fertilization of receiving waters, which can be toxic to aquatic organisms, promote excessive plant growth, reduce available oxygen, harm spawning grounds, alter habitat and lead to a decline in certain species;

· chlorine compounds and inorganic chloramines can be toxic to aquatic invertebrates, algae and fish;

· bacteria, viruses and disease-causing pathogens can pollute beaches and contaminate shellfish populations, leading to restrictions on human recreation, drinking water consumption and shellfish consumption;

· metals, such as mercury, lead, cadmium, chromium and arsenic can have acute and chronic toxic effects on species.

· other substances such as some pharmaceutical and personal care products, primarily entering the environment in wastewater effluents, may also pose threats to human health, aquatic life and wildlife.

This recent mishap by the township leadership is already costing residents a hefty price in Hamilton Mercer County.  The sewer plant is not functioning in the matter it needs to. Sludge is now has being hauled out of the plant to a facility in North Jersey at a cost of $850,000. The problem emits from a malfunctioning " thickener tank" which affects all aspects of the plant. Knowing the thickener was not operable,  a decision was made to put it online. This operational blunder, in the end will cost well over $1,000,000 dollars to fix. This also has caused a lot of damage throughout the plant. The plant now is operating in violation of New Jersey Permit parameters. The Township will be fined everyday it operates in violation. 


 This was bound to happen, two years ago they applied to DEP for a permit to expand the plant. Degradation of habitats in the vicinity of the bridge have caused severe changes in sedimentation, hydrology and water quality as well.


Recently, Synngery LLC applied for a permit to put solar panels in to run the sewer plant on Sweetbriar Ave. Synnergy expects to receive the NJDEP permit. They are working on incentives to offer Hamilton Township.  The township will need more than solar panels to save their ailing sewer plant.  A meeting with the Engineering Committee, staff and engineers will be set up to discuss Change Order No. 7.  Steven Durst of Synngery is dealing with Mercer County on the Wastewater Management Plan regarding Plant capacity vs buildout requirements.  Union negotiations will start next month.  We can only hope this solar panel farm that residents are opposed it (due to the fact it will destroy precious wetlands), stops when conversations begin as it pertains to the capacity of the sewer plant. The capacity is in significant jeopardy right now.  Residents are being kept in the dark on this issue they deserve the truth. 

Posted by tammyduffy at 9:13 PM EDT
Saturday, 2 September 2017
Joe Ciardiello: Spaghetti Journal Exhibition to Open at HAM




Joe Ciardiello: Spaghetti Journal

Exhibition to Open at







Illustrator Joe Ciardiello has revered the Old West ever since he was a kid.

He grew up in a land where big-screen cowboys once galloped into the sunset – Staten Island.  

No, really!

More than a century ago, when motion picture cameras first started rolling, many Westerns were filmed at Fred Scott’s Movie Ranch in South Beach, a Staten Island, NY, town just a short stagecoach ride from Ciardiello’s boyhood home. Add to that historic proximity a teenage-boyhood during which Ciardiello was enthralled by the epic spaghetti western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and it’s no wonder that a story from his Italian immigrant grandfather would set alight his imagination.

Joe Ciardiello: Spaghetti Journal – a collection of Ciardiello’s western-themed illustrations premiering at the Hunterdon Art Museum on Sunday, Sept. 17 – was inspired by his grandfather’s recollection of seeing Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show in Italy.  

The subject matter is primarily personality driven, featuring expressive portraits or caricatures of, say, Buffalo Bill (William Cody, who passed away a century ago) and the Lone Ranger. But it’s the inclusion of others like Emilio Salgari (the grandfather of the Spaghetti Western) and director Sergio Leone (whose films like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly were shot in Italy and reinvented the western genre) that link the myths of the American West firmly to Italian popular culture. 

“This collection of drawings represents my effort to knit these influences together in a kind of visual journal,” Ciardiello noted.

To create a number of the illustrations, Ciardiello viewed his already well-worn copies of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly multiple times, making screen captures when a particular image caught his eye.

“Seeing Leone’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly when it was first released in the U.S. had a profound effect on me as a 14 year old,” Ciardiello noted. “It remains one of my all-time favorite films. Now, 50 years later, it seems somehow fitting to reflect on the connections between my ethnic heritage and the uniquely American mythology of the old west.”

Joe Ciardiello: Spaghetti Journal, opens Sunday, Sept. 17 with a reception from 2-4 p.m., and everyone is welcome. The exhibition, which features 22 illustrations of pen, ink and watercolor, runs through Jan. 7, 2018. Ciardiello plans to complete more than 60 illustrations for the Spaghetti Journal Project, which he aims to have published as a book.

Ciardiello, who now lives in Hunterdon County, has worked for many major magazines and newspapers, as well as a variety of corporate and advertising clients, book publishers and record companies. He received multiple silver medals from the Society of Illustrators, and was honored with its prestigious Hamilton King Award in 2016.

Ciardiello illustrated Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing, which was released in 2007, and his portraits of blues musicians, Black White & Blues, was published six years ago by Strike Three Press.

Posted by tammyduffy at 5:34 PM EDT
Saturday, 26 August 2017
Anselm Kiefer Transition from Cool to Warm

Anselm Kiefer Transition from Cool to Warm 

 Anselm Kiefer - Transition from Cool to Warm

Employing broad-ranging and erudite literary sources, from the Old and New Testaments to the poetry of Paul Celan, Kiefer’s oeuvre makes palpable the movement and destruction of human life and, at the same time, the persistence of the delicate, lyrical, or divine.

Central to the exhibition are more than forty unique artists’s books, their pages painted with gesso to mimic marble, displayed in an installation of glass vitrines. Erotically charged female nudes and faces emerge from the pages. Artists’s books are an integral part of Kiefer’s oeuvre; over time they have ranged in scale from the intimate to the monumental, and in materials, from lead to dried plant matter. In this selection of books, the sequences of narrative information and visual effect evoke the fragile endurance of the sacred and the spiritual through the female figures on the marbled pages. They are a reminder perhaps of the sculptures of Auguste Rodin, and even of Michelangelo’s belief that his figures were “freed” from the stone with which he worked.

The large array of new watercolors in this exhibition marks a significant return in Kiefer's work to the elusive and sensuous medium. The exhibition’s title, “Transition from Cool to Warm,” refers to a celebrated book of watercolors that he produced from 1974 to 1977, in which cool, blue marine land and seascapes transform into warm female nudes. Kiefer's fascination for eidetic process, rather than teleological outcome is underscored by the alchemical effects he achieves in these new works—aleatory, and as luminescent as the natural forms they evoke.

The watercolors and books are complemented by romantic landscape paintings, in which lakes can be glimpsed through screens of trees or where surfaces of splashed molten lead peel back to reveal the sea or landscape depicted beneath.

“Transition from Cool to Warm” is accompanied by a fully illustrated publication with essays by Karl Ove Knausgaard and James Lawrence, and an interview with Kiefer by Louisa Buck.

Anselm Kiefer was born in 1945 in Donaueschingen, Germany, and lives and works in France. His work is collected by museums worldwide. Recent institutional exhibitions include Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (2010); “Shevirat Hakelim,” Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel (2011); “Beyond Landscape,” Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (2013); Royal Academy of Arts, London (2014); “L’Alchimie du livre,” Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris (2015); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2015). In 2009, he directed and designed the sets for Am Anfang (In the Beginning) at the Opéra national de Paris. “Kiefer Rodin” will be on view at the Musée Rodin, Paris until October 2017, subsequently traveling to the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia. In November 2017, Kiefer will receive the J. Paul Getty medal for his contribution to the arts.


Posted by tammyduffy at 3:34 PM EDT
Friday, 18 August 2017
David Smith:White Sculptures at Storm King
David Smith:White Sculptures at Storm King


Storm King Art Center presents David Smith: The White Sculptures, from May 13 to November 12, 2017, the first exhibition to critically and fully consider the use of the color white within David Smith’s works. At the time of the artist’s death in 1965, eight monumental steel sculptures, painted white, stood in the fields surrounding his home and studio in the Adirondack Mountains; many of these will be on view at Storm King. David Smith: The White Sculptures will be the first public presentation to unite three among these—the entire Primo Piano series: Primo Piano I, II, and III, all from 1962. The exhibition will also feature a selection of Smith’s earliest constructions, created out of white coral gathered by the artist during his stay in the Virgin Islands in 1931-32, and rarely shown since.

The presentation provides a singular opportunity to see a focused series of Smith’s work, while celebrating the deep connections between his art and one of the core values of Storm King’s mission: to explore art in nature.

The exhibition celebrates the 50th anniversary of Storm King’s 1967 acquisition of 13 Smith sculptures, which were sited directly in the landscape. This marked the start of Storm King’s focus on the large-scale, outdoor art installations for which it is now well known. The central works of the exhibition, large welded-steel constructions that Smith painted with white industrial enamel, will be installed outdoors on Storm King’s Museum Hill. Smaller sculptures as well as paintings, drawings, and photographs that further explore the artist’s use of white will be displayed inside Storm King’s Museum Building.

Following Smith’s death, his white sculptures became central to an art-historical debate regarding proper custodianship of works of art when Clement Greenberg, an executor of the David Smith Estate, had the artist’s white paint stripped from five of Smith’s sculptures. Greenberg’s actions were exposed in a 1974 Art in America article by the influential art historian and Smith scholar Rosalind Krauss. The works were subsequently restored to their original white color by the Estate. David Smith: The White Sculptures is the first exhibition to bring together and present these works as a group, and to offer viewers the opportunity to fully consider Smith’s complex use of the color white.

David Smith (1906-1965) is widely considered to be one of the foremost artists of the twentieth century, and was the American sculptor most linked to Abstract Expressionism. In 1933 he made the first welded iron sculpture in America, and went on to produce a diverse body of work that has influenced the generations of sculptors who have followed. In the 1950s, Smith began to install groups of sculptures in the fields outside his home and studio in the Adirondack Mountains, contemplating and photographing them in all seasons against the sky, clouds, and surrounding scenery. Smith emphasized the visual nature of sculpture as image, and innovatively incorporated open space into his work. He used white both as a color and as a means to define the structure of positive and negative space in his large outdoor sculptures as well as in his Sprays – paintings and works on paper he produced with industrial spray enamel. Seen in Storm King’s natural landscape, whose rolling hills approximate the geography of Smith’s Adirondack property, David Smith: The White Sculptures will echo Smith’s commitment to presenting art and nature as integrated entities.

David Smith: The White Sculptures is made possible by generous lead support from the Bafflin Foundation, Agnes Gund, Hauser & Wirth, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Support is also provided by Candida Smith and Carroll Cavanagh and The Henry Moore Foundation. Additional support is provided by The Helis Foundation, and the Robert Lehman Foundation, Inc. Support for the exhibition catalogue is provided by Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund.

Support for education-related programming is provided by the Sidney E. Frank Foundation, and artist talks are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Posted by tammyduffy at 5:27 PM EDT
Saturday, 12 August 2017
Where Does Lost Airline Luggage Go? To America's Greatest Thrift Store




Where Does Lost Airline Luggage Go?
To America's Greatest Thrift Store
Is that guy next to you on the subway REALLY wearing your one-of-a kind Topher’s Bachelor Blowout 2014” T-shirt? He can’t be! It’s impossible! You lost that shirt on the return flight from Vegas two years ago. And now it's with THIS dude?

Well, if you never got your suitcase back there’s a decent chance your new nemesis made a trip to the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. Part lost-and-found, part thrift store, this 40,000sqft superstore takes literally every lost suitcase in America, sifts through it, and puts the best stuff on its shelves. This is the story of how wayward luggage finds its way to the afterlife. 

The store 45 minutes east of Huntsville has been around since 1970, when part-time insurance man Doyle Owens got the idea to purchase unclaimed bags from a local bus station, then sell the contents from tables a couple days a week. Eventually he expanded this practice to airlines, and 46 years later the store is stocking millions of items that Americans have lost on flights.


How does THIS store get MY bags?

First off, the airlines aren’t stealing your shit and selling it wholesale in Alabama. Lost luggage, at least in the United States, is incredibly uncommon. Only one-half of 1% of checked bags fail to make it to the baggage claim, and of those roughly 80-90% are returned within 48 hours. Within a week, that number jumps to 98%. Then, for the next 90 days, the airlines go to painstaking lengths to match bags with owners. Math says you're looking at only 1-in-10,000 odds of truly losing your bag on a US flight. And yet -- there is that slim chance. 


 After 90 days, the baggage legally belongs to the airlines. Sometimes people get fair compensation for their luggage and give up the search. Other times what they described didn’t match to what was in the bag. Sometimes people overstate what’s in the bag to get a bigger insurance payout and don’t push it when they get a call from the baggage team’s fraud department. Whatever the reason, the unclaimed bags all end up in warehouses around the country.


What happens next? The Unclaimed Baggage Center, which has an exclusive agreement with the airlines, picks up all those bags on tractor trailers, sight unseen. It also picks up unclaimed cargo, since that merchandise is often unused and better for resale, and literal crates of electronics left onboard by forgetful passengers. Since the airlines take no responsibility for carry-on items, those bags are the UBC’s largest source of electric gadgets.

The airlines aren't exactly getting rich off these orphaned bags. The money UBC pays for the bags (which a spokesperson would not disclose) offsets the cost of their lost baggage operations.

 What ends up in the store?

Once the Unclaimed Baggage Center has its haul of suitcases, pallets, and electronics, workers sift it to see what’s worth selling. About a third gets recycled (to rag factories, for example), a third is donated to charity, and a third goes on shelves. The store stocks about 7,000 items a day: nail clippers, art, Sully masks from Monsters, Inc.


The store differs from a thrift store in that the shelves here are full of things people wanted, not junk they threw away. Items here are things people thought enough of to take with them on vacation, and for one reason or another never made it home. “You might find a wedding dress at a thrift store," spokeswoman Branda Cantrell said, "but you wouldn’t find a Vera Wang wedding dress. And we’ve had several of those.”

Employees also go through Department of Defense protocol to scrub the memories from all the electronics they receive. So you don’t need to worry about some stranger in Alabama buying your MacBook for $300 and getting all your One Direction downloads as an added bonus. Or, ya know, your bank records.

 Discount jewelry and hidden treasures abound

What you can find at the Unclaimed Baggage Center is only limited by what people put in their suitcases, all of it at 20-80% off retail. Jewelry sells at half its appraised value; the most valuable item in the store currently is a $42,000 bracelet priced to move at $21,000. So if you’re thinking of popping the question this fall, Alabama is your new ring-shopping destination.


But not everything is appraised, especially the artwork. So one might also end up like the lucky soul from Mexico City who bought a $60 painting that turned out to be worth $20,000.

In addition to valuables, employees (who can’t buy anything until it’s been on the shelf a week) have found some insane items. The store has a dedicated museum to the wacky things they’ve discovered, from a 19th-century Victorian fan to a 6ft papier-mâché Tinker Bell, to a Jim Henson Hoggle puppet used in the David Bowie classic Labyrinth. On more than one occasion, they've turned up live rattlesnakes.

The Unclaimed Baggage Center has become a tourist attraction over the years. It sits only about 30 minutes from the Georgia and Tennessee state lines, and shoppers have been known to spend the night in town so they can fit in two days of shopping. Not to say you need to spend your vacation going through other people’s lost luggage. But if you’re still kicking yourself for losing that irreplaceable bachelor weekend memorabilia, don’t give up until you’ve made a trip to Scottsboro. Or, at least, until Topher has another one for wedding number two.



Posted by tammyduffy at 5:07 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 13 August 2017 7:16 PM EDT
Friday, 4 August 2017
Bringing Prints to the Masses in the United States Zimmerli Examines Lesser Known Legacy of the WPA


Bringing Prints to the Masses in the United States

Zimmerli Examines Lesser Known Legacy of the WPA


Screenprinting is one of the most recognizable forms of creative expression in American popular culture: from Andy Warhol’s serial images of iconic people and products, to witticisms emblazoned on t-shirts and casual screenprinting classes. But the medium’s present day ubiquity took root during the Great Depression when, through programs administered by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the government encouraged the production and consumption of art by the general public. Serigraphy: The Rise of Screenprinting in America, opening September 5 at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers, explores how the technique was adapted to create fine art that was accessible and affordable to the middle class during the 1930s and 1940s. Despite the ongoing devastation that followed the nation’s worst financial disaster, public support for the arts reached one of its highest levels in history. While murals in public buildings, photographs of rural and urban families, and documentation of American music are probably the most widely known projects accomplished by the Works Progress Administration, a collaborative environment also allowed for the development and dissemination of screenprints.


“WPA initiatives emphasized the value of artistic expression in everyday American life,” notes Nicole Simpson, the Zimmerli’s Assistant Curator of Prints and Drawings. “Artists decided to use the term ‘serigraph’ for these prints to distinguish them from the strictly commercial screenprints that had been produced for centuries. They created the prints in editions, which were widely distributed and readily available for people to display in their homes. This increased acceptance of screenprinting was a pivotal moment in the conversation about the role of art and its audience in the United States.”


Active from 1935 to 1943, the WPA was the most ambitious American New Deal agency, employing millions of people to alleviate long-term unemployment during the Great Depression. Work relief provided jobs and income for individuals, proving to be more effective than handouts. While most workers carried out public construction projects, an important element was the Federal Art Project, which employed artists across all disciplines, many of whom proceeded to pursue active, influential careers during the second half of the 20th century.


In 1938, Anthony Velonis (whose 1939 Third Avenue "El" is on view) was chosen to head the WPA’s new Silk Screen Unit. He recognized the crosscurrent of participants’ varied technical experience, as well as the flexibility of the medium and its appeal to a wide range of artists: social satirists, political realists, illustrators, abstract artists. Two works from Hugo Gellert’s portfolio Century of the Common Man (1943) incorporate texts and images inspired by the desire for a more egalitarian American society, a reflection of the growing interest in Communism at the time. The relative ease of the process also allowed artists to work in a variety of styles – from crisp, flat patterns, to rich, layered textures that mimicked oil paintings – and depict a broad range of such familiar subjects as portraits, still lifes, landscapes, and genre scenes, as well as newer abstract compositions. Richard Floethe, a German artist who had studied at the Bauhaus, served as head of the WPA’s poster division and encouraged their use of screenprinting. His Polo Ponies (1939) shows his facility at creating eye-catching designs and appealing color palettes. Thomas Arthur Robertson’s The Orange Point (1941) represents the growing interest in abstract compositions. Using numerous shades of yellow and orange, with rhythmic markings, he created a technically complex and visually arresting image.


The process of screenprinting is vividly brought to life in a group of five works by Hugh Mesibov, who worked for the Federal Arts Project in Philadelphia (where he, Dox Thrash, and Michael Gallagher developed the carborundum mezzotint technique). Multiple stages of his 1942 Nocturne, on loan from the Mesibov Family Trust, reveal the entire process: the original inception of the design in an egg tempera drawing, the process of printing from multiple screens visible in working proofs, and the completed screenprint. In this print, one of his earliest experimentations with screenprinting, he expressed the anxieties of World War II, drawing upon his experience working in the shipyards to produce this haunting, dreamlike landscape.


Several works in the exhibition foreshadow concepts eventually adopted by Pop artists in the 1960s. An original member of the Silk Screen Unit, Elizabeth Olds chose to satirize art enthusiasts with Picasso Study Club (1940). She exaggerated the figures to resemble the subjects of the cubist’s paintings they are examining. It initiated a discussion about the difference between “high art” and more democratic art – that artists like Olds were producing using screenprinting – a theme that is apparent throughout this exhibition. One of the oldest art forms – still life – is the subject of Dorie Marder’s Arrangement (1945). But she reimagined it in a modern, abstracted composition with flattened forms and vivid colors, a precursor to screenprints in the coming decades. Rainy Day (circa 1940) by Max Arthur Cohn contrasts many of the works in the show. Unlike the other vibrant and dynamic prints, it captures the glistening gloom of a drenched city street at night, with a few lonely city dwellers attempting to escape the elements. But this unassuming artist went on to own a graphic arts business in Manhattan, where he is said to have taught silkscreen techniques to a young man named Andy Warhol in the 1950s.


The exhibition also includes prints by: Jack Beauchamp, Leon Bibel, Adolf Dehn, Harry Gottlieb, Lena Gurr, Norma Bassett Hall, Hananiah Harari, Yvonne Twining Humber, Mervin Jules, Charles Keller, Edward August Landon, Guy Maccoy, Henry Mark, Robert McChesney, Carl Pickhardt, Harry Shokler, and Harry Shoulberg.


Serigraphy: The Rise of Screenprinting in America was organized by Nicole Simpson, Assistant Curator of Prints and Drawings. The exhibition is on view September 5, 2017, through February 11, 2018.



The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum houses more than 60,000 works of art, ranging from ancient to contemporary art. The permanent collection features particularly rich holdings in 19th-century French art; Russian art from icons to the avant-garde; Soviet nonconformist art from the Dodge Collection; and American art with notable holdings of prints. In addition, small groups of antiquities, old master paintings, as well as art inspired by Japan and original illustrations for children’s books, provide representative examples of the museum’s research and teaching message at Rutgers. One of the largest and most distinguished university-based art museums in the nation, the Zimmerli is located on the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Established in 1766, Rutgers is America’s eighth oldest institution of higher learning and a premier public research university.



Admission is free to the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers. The museum is located at 71 Hamilton Street (at George Street) on the College Avenue Campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. The Zimmerli is a short walk from the NJ Transit train station in New Brunswick, midway between New York City and Philadelphia.


The Zimmerli Art Museum is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and select first Tuesdays of the month, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and major holidays, as well as the month of August.


PaparazZi Café is open Monday through Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a variety of breakfast, lunch, and snack items. The café is closed weekends and major holidays, as well as the month of August.



Posted by tammyduffy at 6:40 PM EDT
Sunday, 30 July 2017
Salt Caves: A Great Way to Detox and Relax

 Salt Caves: A Great Way to Detox and Relax

photo by T. Duffy 


Tucked away in rural New Jersey, there is a cave known for it’s healing properties…that is, an alternative therapy solution known as a “Salt Cave” at Body N Balance in Flemington.


Owner Cynthia Orsi has built one of less than a dozen wellness centers in the country to bring the concept of Salt Therapy to the United States at Body N Balance (170 Highway 31 in Flemington). The salt room uses state of the art halo generators to crush Himalayan Crystal salt into small particles for inhalation.  The Himalayan Salt charges the air with negative ions much like what one experiences at the ocean, but with a greater concentration in a more confined space.


Natural salt therapy has been used for decades to treat respiratory and skin problems in Europe and the Middle East. Customers sit or recline to relax in low light within the salt cave for 45 minute sessions, breathing fine salt aerosol. Believers in the remedy have used sessions to treat stress and respiratory ailments like asthmas, COPD, and sinusitis.   The cost is $65 for a 45-minute session or $350 for one month or 12 visits over one year.


You leave there feeling so rested. A highly recommended pampering event for all! 



Posted by tammyduffy at 5:36 PM EDT

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