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January  31

Love It, or Lampoon It

Zephyr_devicedeparture_2 Sept_11_memorial_2  Congressman Bill Pascrell plans to introduce legislation today to designate the 9/11 war memorial in Eagle Rock part of the National Park System. "It rises above a regional monument," Pascrell said, according to the Star Ledger, and Joey D. is all for it too.

"Hundreds of years from now, it won't be developed," DiVincenzo said. "It will put us on the historic list throughout the country."

Maybe so. But the winged memorial to 9/11 has long had its share of local detractors, the latest of whom have mocked it on the front of their new record album.

We feel that aside from being aesthetically grotesque, something akin to a war memorial is an unfit tribute to the thousands of people who were murdered that day, and it is representative of America's endemic xenophobia, nationalism, and aggressiveness.

The group, called Zephyr Device, is composed of three graduates from Montclair State's honors program. Billy Gray, guitarist for the "post-punk, indie rock, and maybe rap" group elaborated on Zephyr's album cover:

The album cover is attempting to make the point that what should be a sober memorial to the dead comes off as a war memorial, and the giant bald eagle that dominates the scene is a traditional symbol of American jingoism and warfare. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington DC is a humbling and breathtaking memorial because it makes no attempt to glorify what took place; there are no generals on horseback, no men gallantly loading canons, just a black wall recessed into the earth naming the thousands who gave their lives. There was quite a controversy over this, as Maya Ying Lin, the artist behind the wall, refused calls from Washington elites to add various traditional symbols of war (the Three Soldiers statue that was eventually added is quite removed from the wall). What we have at Eagle Rock is the exact opposite, a memorial that attempts to utilize a tragedy to engender the worst in people - jingoism and nationalist hubris. This is a problem that has plagued our country throughout our history. As artists, we felt we had to respond to such a widely-known local symbol of that problem.

The guns in the image - Adam took some photographs of war memorials from the area, and modified the image of the eagle to include the various canons and howitzers that commemorating and glorifying past wars to show the gesture the artist (Patrick Morelli) made when he included the eagle in the memorial. The eagle in the cover is a photograph of the memorial itself.

January 31, 2006 in Controversy | Permalink


They should tear this thing down and restore the park.

This 'memorial' desecrates the very view that drew people to the site. The sculpture is insipid, at best and its prominence destroys the park for any other use.

It is, IMHO, insulting to those it supposed to honor.

Tear it down, don't allow it be a wider representation of us all.

Posted by: Kevin Lee Allen | Jan 31, 2006 10:09:52 AM

I have to agree. It is artistically pretty bad. Haste makes waste.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Jan 31, 2006 10:12:23 AM

Zephyr Device, part post-punk, indie rock, and maybe rap... All asshat!

Posted by: stealth | Jan 31, 2006 10:14:11 AM

But look at Pascrell with his "earmark" pen, eh?

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Jan 31, 2006 10:14:19 AM

Although I love the idea of a tribute to the 9/11 victims in that location, I must admit that I always hated that particular monument. It's a nice sentiment gone awry. Looking at the collection of sculptures, it becomes very apparent that there was never a task force assembled to review the project. Not that I'm a big fan of committees (witness the freedom tower). However, every sentiment and political faction has been crammed into this assemblage such that it looks more like an art project than a serious tribute. As I recall from memory, you have an eagle, a fireman's cap, a policeman's cap, a black man(?) holding a lantern, a little girl with a teddy bear...all jockying for position in front of a wall of names. Enough already.

Posted by: todd | Jan 31, 2006 10:17:06 AM

The names of those lost on that horrific day would suffice!

The names of the innocent victims of the 9/11/01 terrorist attack and the silence of the view of Manhattan revealing the absence of the Twin Towers speaks volumes!

Yes, Eagle Rock is an appropriate spot for an Essex County 911 Memorial since citizens, friends and neighbors came together there on that Tuesday morning in September 2001 to offer each other support.

For some, to this very day, it is a place of healing and remembrance.

Posted by: Franklin | Jan 31, 2006 10:35:34 AM

I think agree - it is too much, and it looks like it was a rush job.

I was one of the people who went to Eagle Rock the days after, and the site of candles, flags, flowers, papers with prayers written on them and tied to the wall, and people staring at smoke and dust - that was the memorial.

Posted by: hrhppg | Jan 31, 2006 10:35:56 AM

I have no problem with the wall of names, there is beauty in the simplicity/starkness of the wall, but I do not like the statue of the girl/eagle whatsoever.

Posted by: Anne Prince | Jan 31, 2006 10:40:32 AM

It looks as if someone went through the monument catalogue circling sculptures.

"Eagle over a book, yeah, ooh, ooh girl with teddy bear and whaddya think, half a guy with a lantern? Yes, perfect."

Posted by: Eddie Shore | Jan 31, 2006 10:41:43 AM

It looks like something you might find at Fountains of Wayne.

Posted by: walleroo | Jan 31, 2006 10:43:21 AM

I too headed for Eagle Rock as soon as I heard about the attacks that terrible morning. I will never forget the shock, fear and horror that we all felt as we stood there listening to our radios and watching as the towers disappeared from the skyline. The memorial is a travesty,and it blights the view and the memory of those who were taken that day.

Posted by: latebloomer | Jan 31, 2006 10:50:39 AM

could be worse...

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Jan 31, 2006 10:54:48 AM

I happened to be there on the morning of 9/11 and watched the South Tower collapse before my very eyes. It was beyond horrific. Nor will I ever forget watching the debris cloud from the first collapse rising up and completely engulfing all of lower Manhattan, NY Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. It was like Mt St. Helens and Pompeii all rolled into one.

If you want to see an example of a truly moving WTC monument, visit the Shrine of St. Joseph in Stirling. In one of their meditation gardens, there sits a 40 -50 ft bell tower/carillion constructed entirely of beams from the fallen North Tower, surrounded by flowers and personal notes of rememberance.

BTW, isn't there also a piece of the WTC in front of MHS?

Posted by: citizen | Jan 31, 2006 10:59:07 AM

Yes there is, citizen, along with a plaque for a MHS graduate who died there.

Posted by: latebloomer | Jan 31, 2006 11:00:44 AM

When was the last time anyone saw any eagles at Eagle Rock Park? Is the eagle truly a valid symbol of the park today?

Posted by: Jim | Jan 31, 2006 11:02:41 AM

That looks more like an inkblot (Rorschach) Test than the Eagle Rock Reservation Memorial. I think these guys are pulling our legs. They got sloppy.

Posted by: MyManMisterC | Jan 31, 2006 11:08:31 AM

As a sometime bird-watcher, yes, Jim, eagles do frequent Eagle Rock. September-October, most generally.

I'm also curious if Zephyr Device used the spelling of "canons" for warlike devices on their CD, or did that somehow get misspelled in the transcription to Baristanet. In any case, I do think these three MSU lads overreach a mite in the vehemence of their verbiage. Especially from honors grads, I expect more coherence than I noted on Zephyr Device's website in their "commentary" on their own songs. (Please note, too, guys, that neither Chuck Berry nor Dion ever felt any such pretentious urges.)

As for the eagle's "rightness" in the memorial, however, well, eagles have long played a part in martial inconography. No, it isn't the greatest of memorials, but then Pascrell isn't the greatest of Congressmen.

Posted by: cathar (8T) | Jan 31, 2006 11:19:28 AM

"It looks like something you might find at Fountains of Wayne."

Thanks for the chuckle, Walleroo -- that made me laugh out loud!

Posted by: skippy | Jan 31, 2006 11:25:08 AM

Can't you just see Tony Soprano putting it next to his pool? For the ducks?

Posted by: walleroo | Jan 31, 2006 11:30:14 AM

I'm bugged that the eagle is flying away from NYC. Smart eagle, but questionable memorial design. The girl and half guy are pure schmaltz, but I can endure some schmaltz in the face of overwhelming grief and shock.

Posted by: Appletony | Jan 31, 2006 11:33:55 AM

Personally, I think the memorials should generate teeth grinding anger. They were not soldiers who willingly sacrificed their lives...

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Jan 31, 2006 11:36:49 AM

One of the few Baristanet threads I've seen in unanimity (at least for the moment...).

Names should stay - eagle and rest of kitchy art should go.

Posted by: waves2ya | Jan 31, 2006 11:40:59 AM

Wasn't there a problem with missing names on the memorial? If I remember correctly, it was too expensive to go back and add them in so they just ignored the problem. Gee, the one part that everyone agrees is okay - really isn't. Melt it all down and start over.

Posted by: grcanary | Jan 31, 2006 12:15:23 PM

The wall, while an honorable gesture (probably the only one) is still an ugly intrusion into the park. A small plaque, maybe in an old tradition--on a rock, would suffice.

Posted by: Kevin Lee Allen | Jan 31, 2006 12:38:42 PM

I like the guy holidng the lantern, I think that's pretty powerful.
I'm having my wedding reception there so I better like it.
You think I can find a way to get rid off the prostitutes from the parking lot though?

Posted by: MyManMisterC | Jan 31, 2006 1:03:13 PM

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