Monday, June 04, 2007

The Bridges of Passaic County

Saturday was my first overnight in Paterson. After the opening at the museum, we sat in the backyard at the new crash pad and ate Chinese food under tiki torches. "Who is the Andy Warhol of hip-hop?" I asked as the conversation veered towards the artistic merit of one of our dinner guest's bump and booty-style videos. "Missy Elliott," was the unanimous reply.
The next day, after the first meeting of the Paterson reading group, while driving back from dropping someone off in Glen Rock, I saw an old bridge over the Passaic. Was this the bridge Smithson talks about in "A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, NJ"? Even though the walkway was paved (instead of the wooden slats on the Smithson bridge), it looked like the one. Later, when I checked a map I realized I was way off. In fact, Brian Dillon's article "Objects in the Mirror" tells us that the bridge Smithson photographed no longer exists, replaced by a "flat, bare concrete structure bordered by wire fencing and punctuated by a few unconvincing replicas of nineteenth-century lampposts." (41) What a map does reveal is that there is a necklace of bridges over the Passaic that surround the Paterson area, which may be in various states of repair/disrepair. Of them, this is ostensibly number 9. I'll have to take a drive along the Passaic soon to check out the others.
Now, if I can only find hip-hop's Robert Smithson. . . .

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