Emotions With No Name

Where can you find the remains of a giraffe, an upright dining table, a claw hand and silver bars worth millions (all in the same place)? Underwater, in NYC, that’s where. Weird finds in New York’s waterways are the inspiration for fictional stories on a “digital journal” called Underwater New York. But I’m more interested in the facts. The facts are that

there really is a dining table at the bottom of the East River, standing upright. The giraffe remains that were found underwater are thought to be the result of an animal trying to escape from a “circus ship” and drowning there…

                Since the beginning of time (what a cliche, sorry), humankind has left behind it’s story, it’s history, in the form of dump sites, primitive kitchen pits, archaeological ruins and even in forgotten decaying amusement parks. One such place (the decrepit, spooky site of a rape and murder a few years ago) is only a half hour from my house. HOLYLAND USA was inspired by passages from the Bible. It had a chapel, stations of the cross, and replicas of catacombs and Israelite villages constructed from cinder blocks, bathtubs, and other discarded artifacts. Now the park is just…well…discarded, period.



The park has been closed since 1984, but I remember going there on walk-throughs with my parents. In November 2002, Holy Land USA was featured in a four-minute segment on The Daily Show by Jon Stewart. Bands like The Flaming Lips have shot music videos there amidst the decrepit displays.


                In its heyday, the giant white letters: HOLYLAND USA, were spelled out across the hillside not unlike the infamous Hollywood sign. But these letters are long gone. It used to be you could drive by the backside of the hill, where there is a chain link fence and you could see the abandoned letters there lying akimbo- an H, a U… They were marred and decaying, piled one against the other like some giant kid’s abandoned toys. But even those are gone.


Land Of Oz

                Abandoned amusement parks are spooky precisely because they create the unintended effect of being just the opposite of amusement, when the paint is peeling, when the wood is rotting, when human neglect and weather have left them to the weeds.


abandoned Japanese theme park, above and below




(ABOVE: from an old American amusement park: when the F falls off of this, it’s going to be THE UNHOUSE)

                This is where I make a small analogy to the human condition.

                It’s so easy to see these decrepit godforsaken leavings and remember the sights and sometimes quiet sounds of merriment- the giraffe in its native land far from a terrifying boat ride to its death. The old timey music of the carousel. Children laughing, screaming (for joy). I think when we view abandoned places it conjures emotions with no name. In much of the music I enjoy, there are circus themes:



“She walks along the edge of where the ocean meets the land

Just like she’s walkin’ on a wire in a circus…”



“This circus is falling down on its knees

The big top is crumblin’ down

It’s raining in Baltimore fifty miles east

Where you should be, no one’s around…

I need a phone call

I need a raincoat

I need a big love I need a phone call…”



“Well I am an idiot walking a tightrope of fortune and fame-

I am an acrobat swinging trapezes through circles of flame.

If you’ve never stared off into the distance then your life is a shame.”

“And there is always one last light to turn out and one last bell to ring
And the last one out of the circus has to lock up everything
Or the elephants will get out and forget to remember what you said
Oh and the ghosts of the tilt-o-whirl will linger inside of your head
Oh and the Ferris wheel junkies will spin there forever instead”


I bought a brick.

                It’s inscribed with my late spouse’s name, his birth and death dates, and his children’s names. It’s one of many that will be placed in the new and improved HOLYLAND USA which is being renovated. The buying of the memorial bricks help fund the project.

Somewhere in America, an upright dining table with steel legs waits forever underwater for a feast that will not come. Photographers capture Amusements Turned Spooky. And somewhere in my brain and yours too, similar cast off memories conjure emotions with no name and images of discarded amusements feel dead.

Enter art.

Somewhere, as I write this, someone is repurposing trash and making it into homes for the homeless. Artist Greg Kloehn from Oakland California is selflessly creating these miniature homes which one homeless person described as being “the best house I’ve had in five years.”


Artist Jan Vormann is fixing wartorn buildings with Leggos. In places like Germany and Italy, buildings are scarred with the craters and pockmarks left by air raids. Jan is filling these in. Colorfully, skillfully and yes whimsically. The effect is striking.


Yesterday someone said this to me: “You are a true champion of the underdog, aren’t you?” Well now, I’ve never been called that before. I’ve rescued animal shelter “rejects;” dogs with expiration dates on them and I cleaned them, trimmed them, fed them and housed them. (And loved as best I could, even the ornery ones.) Those are true underdogs, right? Literally. But still, I’m puzzled by the statement. I only rescued those dozen or so animals because I’m human. Emotions with no name are powerful catalysts.

Color me in, memories. Repurpose my negativity.


Like this blog then visit:

Weird objects found in NYC waters: http://www.livescience.com/46827-weird-objects-found-nyc-waters.html

Homeless homes from trash: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/13/homeless-homes-project_n_5312105.html

Patchwork Orange: fixing buildings with Leggos: http://dornob.com/patchwork-orange-art-of-fixing-buildings-with-lego-blocks/#axzz37p8EsAnX

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