Scarring a Community

I have a scar on my forehead.

The year was probably 1986 and a large object fell into my forehead.

Like any ironbound (newark) mother would, my mother carried me to the car and sped to St. James hospital for treatment.

I have a bellybutton. (an innie in fact)

The year was 1979 and my mother gave birth to me on a December afternoon.

Like so many ironbound children born of immigrant families from every corner of the planet, I came into the world in the maternity ward of St. James hospital. A hospital so dedicated to serving the multilingual community, it functioned in English, Portuguese, and Spanish.

While our family grew older and settled in the suburbs outside the city, St. James never stopped being that place… whenever I would go down Jefferson St., that steadfast anchor that commanded the respect and appreciation of the community.

Last week, in the face of all the hard work of volunteers, hospital staff, and concerned citizens, the corporation that owns St. James -closed it down. Cost savings. Business decisions. We regret to inform you…

The collapse of the United States, as a nation made for and by the people continues, and one more working class community has one more giant scar to prove it.


  1. March 26, 2008

    This news is depressing. Sometimes living in the US sucks.

  2. keith
    March 26, 2008

    harry… harry potter…

  3. March 26, 2008

    Collapse of the US is absolutely right.

    It doesn’t have to be this way, in fact there are many of us working towards reversing it.

    But the sad reality is that for the vast majority of Americans, we can’t be bothered to climb out of our own shit.

  4. Rogue Genius
    March 27, 2008

    Posts like this often make me think of Rome. Romans were secure in the knowledge that they were the most powerful and prosperous people on the planet. Good things happed. Bad things happened. Constantine the ‘Great’ moved the capital to Istanbul. No biggie. Nothing collapsed. Society didn’t fall apart. The barbarian hordes could easily be repelled…

    … and then suddenly, one day, they couldn’t. As Rome was being sacked I wonder how many Romans pondered exactly at what point they ceased to be what they once were. It was a subtle change. Not one that was readily visible. Did some of them realize suddenly that: “oh, now that I think about it we’ve been on borrowed time for decades.”

    Has the US already fallen? Are we just waiting for that last push?

    Depressing thought. I love America. When it’s gone we will really have lost something.

    • bicyclemark
      March 28, 2008

      a very valid comparison and one that, it seems, you’re not allowed to make as everyone will scold you for even suggesting that America is on the decline or has collapsed.

  5. DROCK
    April 1, 2008

    People are scolded for using the Rome/US comparison not because it’s way edgy and thoughtful but because it’s wholly inaccurate and detracts from any serious discussion of the important issue (health care) you brought up.

    The comparison is convenient and melodramatic, nothing more.

    If a hospital closes in 2008 in the United States a more accurate and useful comparison would be to look at how the hospital function for so long the decades before it closure and find out what the difference are now. Visigoths, Vandals, Caligula and Hannibal’s freaking elephants don’t add much to the conversation.

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