04 December 2012

Hurricane Sandy and a K-pop Concert or How Social Media Changed My Life Part Deux

    When we last visited New Jersey post-Hurricane, I was stuck on a gas line that stretched from the local highway Route 22 to my apartment.  Luckily, my little fuel efficient Volkswagen Jetta was poised to be fueled up, as I was number ten in line.  This was two o'clock in the morning on day five.  The aforementioned police officer who received a few of my choice words, North Jersey vis a vie  osmosis, was breaking up the gas line. This gas station would not be functional until ten hours later.

     As I worry about having gas in my car, I am also concerned for people who are traveling into New Jersey for the Big Bang concert.  The media is not covering the event from the perspective of fans, which is unfortunate.   There are devout fans who are traveling by car, mass transit, and plane from as far as the west coast, as well as Canada, and Puerto Rico.  Mass transit has gone into absolute disarray due to the storm and worse yet, there is a Nor'easter scheduled to arrive a day prior to the first show.

    Through my anxiety, I continue to post mass transit updates and ways to travel to the state of New Jersey from various surrounding areas.  What remains unspoken is that I still do not know the state of mother's well being.  A breakthrough on that front, comes through my sister-in-law who disperses her father-in-law, a firefighter and National Guard member.  Via communication from my sister-in-law, I discover that my mother is doing well and assisting others in her community. Within hours, I receive a phone call from my mom, solidifying that one of my last remaining blood relatives on earth has not yet perished.

    When I receive the news that my mother is alive and well, I have the complete opposite reaction of what I normally would.  Instead of being apathetic about the plight of people in New Jersey, I decide that something needs to be done.  Within the Facebook forum community, I begin to organize a clothing and supply drive for victims of Hurricane Sandy.  To say that it was difficult to organize a clothing drive surrounding a K-pop concert in New Jersey, is an understatement. With the assistance of members of Occupy Sandy New Jersey, I was given the contact information of a community organizer in Newark, New Jersey.  
     To be a community organizer in Newark in not an easy feat.  In a recent Facebook post, Tobias Fox illustrated how his bike seat was stolen from his bike (his only means of transportation other than public transit) , while he assisted organizers of a rooftop community garden.  Tobias is an awesome person, with much of the spirit of Morpheus from the Matrix.  Community organizing in Newark is difficult for someone who is trying to unite what is viewed by outsiders as a downtrodden city, but Tobias does not appear to be discouraged. 

     My entire family is from Newark.  My mother and father met and were married within the city.  My siblings went to school there; it is where my parents attempted to make their mark upon America.  Unfortunately, this was prior to the riots of the 1960's that ravaged the city.  After the riots, my parents and subsequently most of my family fled from the city.  The last hold out was my grandmother, Nora Biera, who died living in Newark during the 1990s.  In reality, my attendance of this concert was surreal because it would be the first time I had stepped foot in the city of Newark, since I was twelve years old.   I am a Jersey Shore girl, born at Jersey Shore Medical Center and raised in Manchester.
The inside of Newark City Hall can be as intimidating as the outside.

      In my attempts to organize what should have been a simple supply drive, I discovered many of the obstacles both residents and politicians in Newark encounter on a regular basis.  There is a sentiment of disdain towards the monolithic Prudential Center.  In the largest city in New Jersey, the politicians had no knowledge of the magnitude of Big Bang or the amount of attendees of the show.  8,000 to 12,000 people would be in attendance, on two nights.  This would be the largest show to be held in New Jersey, after Hurricane Sandy.  Yet, no one from the Prudential Center was addressing the fact that there were thousands of people without power, food, and running water within miles of the stadium that was hosting the concert.

Hell's Kitchen Lounge was willing to help when other locations could not.

    With the assistance of Tobias Fox and local politicians, I was able to hold a small clothing and supply drive.  Hell's Kitchen Lounge, a local rockabilly bar, allowed us to store our donations.  A fan of the band, Big Bang, Autumn Maura traveled from New Hampshire with her vehicle filled with supplies.  Although, we were unable to collect at the Prudential Center, we were able to secure over a truck and a half load of donations.  These donations were provided to the 24 hour Emergency Rescue Center at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark.
Donations from the clothing and supply drive, along with fan signs and our banner.

       The concert was an amazing experience with one of the most diverse audiences I had ever seen in attendance of what was essentially a pop music show.  Big Bang is comprised of consummate performers, who made the arduous trip that many concert goers made, worthwhile.  As Spin magazine illustrated in their coverage of the concert, Big Bang used K-pop to heal New Jersey.There was a general sense of excitement; the electricity that emmanates from anyone who is performing before a very eager audience.   In a darkened stadium,  fans waved light wands that glimmered brightly like beacons of hope.   
A banner was passed amongst fans to sign in order to get word about our supply drive out.

     In a masochistic way, I am thankful for Hurricane Sandy, because she taught me about me about the triumph of the human spirit and the beauty of a city I had long forgotten about.   Prior to Sandy, I would have hastily driven or taken mass transit into Newark, without a second glance.  Now, I consider Newark to be a second home.  I am looking forward to attending another k-pop show in Newark.  I have spent the past few weeks proselytizing about the great architecture and wonderfully helpful people.   Sandy may have taken away some of my childhood memories at the Shore, but she has assisted with the restoration of those that were within the city of Newark.

No comments:

Post a Comment