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.

30 replies on “Love It, or Lampoon It”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.”

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

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

  10. 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.

  11. “It looks like something you might find at Fountains of Wayne.”
    Thanks for the chuckle, Walleroo — that made me laugh out loud!

  12. 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.

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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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?

  18. From news reports – there are no names missing from the wall as they waited ’till the 2nd year after 9/11 before engraving them.
    Michael Stewart’s name was not in the √¢‚Ǩ≈ìBook of Remembrance,√¢‚Ǩ¬ù that is supposed to list all of those from Essex County. He had lived in Montclair.
    His name is included on Montclair’s memorial stone, located at Watchung Plaza.
    I think the wall is fine – it gives you something to touch while you look at the view and remember.
    IMHO the rest of it is not in keeping with a memorial and should be removed

  19. At least they got something up. It will take 50 years (if ever) to get anything agreed upon in Downtown. I was very surprised by how much Eagle Rock moved me. Sure, you can yak your brains out about subjective esthetics, but the fact it is it has the names of the people who died, and it did get built this century. To me, the view of what isn’t there is far more powerful than what is there.

  20. Debbie,
    Thanks for the link, I’m glad it was of interest.
    Cathar – ‘canon’ was a typo. Should have been ‘cannon’, as you surmised.
    Regarding our song commentaries, they weren’t written for self-aggrandizement.
    The artists who inspired us and this record were everyday kids from DC who just decided they could do anything they put their mind to, and made a point of trying to help anybody else to make their own art. The idea behind the commentaries is to give anybody interested in doing their own thing insight into how we went about our record (we’ve also tried to throw some jokes in there with the pictures and such, we don’t take ourselves as seriously as you might think).
    I suppose anytime you speak or write about your art you will have to deal with charges of hubris, but the positive side of things is worth it. I hope that the record sounds good enough that someone could read the commentaries and, even if they don’t like our songs, would say to themselves, “well if these guys could do this, I could definitely make a better record!”

  21. Billy Gray, your words are out there. Others read them. To this reader it sure sounds as if you guys take yourselves, yes indeedy, all that seriously. Which I take to be a misstep of your relative post-punk, indie rock and maybe rap youth. (What does that even mean, particularly the “maybe” part?) A term like “endemic xenophobia” reeks of callowness.
    And since you admit “canons” is a typo, well, even relative youth isn’t much of an excuse for bad copyediting. Especially if, you know, you truly do wish to be taken seriously. Jokes and all, to be sure.

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