Thursday, April 28, 2011

Xanadu Painting In Progress pt 4

I've decided that after each sitting, I'll post updates here for this painting. At some point, I may decide that each individual session isn't showing noticeable changes (fine detail work shows progress over a longer period of time) so I'll probably skip some steps there. But for now, expect to see updates each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night, around 10:30 pm - 11:30 pm from now until the end of the summer.

All We Have To Do Is Dream

"I can make you mine, taste your lips of wine
Anytime night or day
Only trouble is, gee whiz
I'm dreamin' my life away

I've been waiting for news on this and there's finally something, but its still not the "Big Announcement" that I keep hearing about.

Have you ever wondered why we have the phrase "American Dream?" Mainly because its anything but reality for most people. It's about as vapid and far-fetched and artificial an experience as a gigantic mega orgy-plex in the swamps of New Jersey.

THEY will call it American Dream | Meadowlands, but residents of the Garden State will forever know it as Xanadu. But Americans dream big, and corporations dream even bigger, especially those who get whatever they want. And now instead of being a cash cow, the stately displeasure dome is going to be a nice big fat piece of corporate welfare.

THEY are Triple Five, and they're the owners of the Mall of America. THEY have gotten a big fat wet kiss from Kubla Christie who will now inherit the legend and legacy of Xanadu.

And its also getting bigger. It's growing out of control. Its all part of an illuminati plot to turn New Jersey into a state of mall-cities.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I can explain the pink...

Your Neon Lights Will Shine For You

Here's yet another story about the public sentiment regarding the exterior decor of New Jersey's favorite unfinished funplex. The videos show submissions of Ledger LIve viewers' ideas for what the re-design should look like. My favorite of all of the submissions is Xana-Doobie. This is how we deal with situations like this in the Garden State.

I'm noticing so far that absolutely no one is referring to the place as Meadowlands. The Xanadu name is sticking, so they'd better get used to it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Xanadu: Our Polls Are Rising

I knew this thing couldn't stay out of the news too much longer. Quinnipiac University recently polled 1,532 registered voters and the overwhelming majority polled believe that a giant over-inflated super duper consumer orgyplex painted to resemble stacks of freight containers is ugly. Wow. Maybe they should have taken that poll before they built it? At any rate, Kudos to Quinnipiac for affirming what we already know.

The next poll on the Funplex Formerly Known As Xanadu should be:

"Would it be a good idea for not-quite-accomplished urban landscape painter Matthew Green to use Xanadu as the subject of his latest painting for his project Five Miles From Times Square?"

Just be forewarned that I most often do the exact opposite of whatever advice I'm given, regardless of what the overwhelming majority of interested parties thinks I should do. It's interesting to note that for the first time I am in complete agreement with Kubla Christie on something.

Do you think they'll refer to any poll data before they commit to adding to New Jersey's defect by contributing state financing to finish this nightmare? My money says no.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Nieux Xanadu Part Deux

Not bad for second sitting, eh? I agree. This is all I can do this week.

Kubla Christie

I've been making noise about the funplex formerly known as Xanadu for a little over a week now. One thing I failed to acknowledge was that this thing was originally a Jim McGreevey pet. His administration basically gave the original developers the green light to use the land, and he made the deal with then New York governor George Pataki for the transit link. Thus, its a little unfair of me to harp on Chris Christie about it and it may seem like I'm attributing the whole thing to him.

I will say this, however: McGreevey didn't make any deals to commit public financing for the project. In fact, if it had succeeded it would have been a nice revenue generator in the form of rent for the property which the state owns. It's just obscene to me that in the wake of all of the budget cuts for education, police, fire and other public services that Kubla Christie has made, and after all of the complaining he does about New Jersey's defect that he would drive the state into more debt to hand money over to a project that so far has proven that its a failure.

The whole thing has inspired me to do a painting as well as scribble an adaptation of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's original ditty…

In Rutherford did Kubla Christie
stately Pleasure Dome decree
Where Hack the muddy river ran
Through meadows measureless to man
out to a septic sea.

If you're a New Jersey resident you'll soon be part owner of this turd.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Nieux Xanadu

First sitting, initial sketch. I wonder if Kubla Christie will think it looks OK. My guess is no.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Displeasure Dome

"With a brighter future for New Jersey, where business and pleasure do mix. With sports and recreation. Where learning is fun. I have been living in Jersey all my life I have never seen anything like this...Where mind and body overcome life’s daily stresses. Where the great outdoors comes inside to plan. Where one of New Jersey’s treasures reclaims the spot light and open space is preserved forever. We can show you the money."
— Xanadu Promotional Spot

I hate to keep beating a dead horse but this whole Xanadu fiasco is playing right into my hands. The more I read about it the more it begins support my original thesis, except for a few things. I was hoping to find man-made remains and old ruins as evidence of man's failures in The Meadowlands, but this pitfall is happening in real time. Plus its not just natural phenomena that are pushing back in this case. Political and financial mismanagement as well as basic human greed are also to blame.

After doing some quick searches, I've run across a good account of the saga dating back to early 2009. According to one article, the original projections from the developers in March of that year was pretty optimistic, citing that the property was 70% leased and was on schedule to open in August 2009. This came after Business Week had cast doubt on how much enthusiasm there really was on the part of prospective tenants.

It's also interesting to note how deeply engrained the stigma and the folklore of The Meadowlands is in the collective unconscious. There had been more than one reference made to the legacy of failed "get-rich-quick-schemes" in the region, and journalists and the public can't seem to get past the specter of the surrounding swamps.

The project, both financially and symbolically has become the vortex of a downward spiral that threatens to swallow desperately needed cash from the New Jersey state coffers and the political confidence in the public officials who can't seem to stop shoveling hopes and dreams into what is becoming a bottomless pit of failure.

The forces of Nature have gone to work on the place, as evident in the damage caused by February snowstorms. I will have achieved complete vindication on my thesis if there's a mosquito infestation, tidal flooding or a major sinkhole. Unfortunately I have to accept the fact that I was a little misguided. The roots of folly in The Meadowlands reach deeper and branch out far more than I had ever realized.

I'm hoping that in the next few weeks a major announcement will be made detailing the agreement between the state and the new owners. When it does I'll be all over it. My prediction is that the finances will materialize and the project will be completed. But I don't have much hope that the place, new name and new exterior design notwithstanding, will last more that 5 years.

I'll make it official now and say that the doors will close in 7 years. The building will be vacant and will become a home for rats. It will never be torn down because it will be in the baks of the minds of so many people who believed in this thing that one day it will be re-opened and it will make millions. We will all assume that many of the handshake deals and decisions were dubious or even downright agains the law.

Most of that will never come to light, except in the form of a public official or two who will be thrown under the bus to take the spotlight off of those who are truly responsible. Those secrets and malfeasances, like so many others in The Meadowlands, will end up lost and forgotten in a stinking, muddy grave among the foxtails.

TIME MAGAZINE ARTICLE 3-9-09,8599,1883546,00.html


WNYC 3/17/09

WNYC 7/22/10



NY TIMES ARTICLE (response) 4-8-11

Friday, April 15, 2011

No Puns About Dogs

So I'm not alone in my Meadowlands obsession. I'm also not alone in that I've been left in charge of family dog walking and waste removal duties. A Northern New Jersey man recently published a book about his adventures in the meadows near his home. It's certainly an alluring place, and I would do the same if I lived where he lived. Maybe one day I'll track him down and we'll trade Meadowlands and Dog Walking stories.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Would Kubla Kahn Have Approved Of This?

I don't think he'd be too happy about the name change. After all, he did stately Pleasure Dome decree. There's something about the official MEADOWLANDS website that falls way short of the "wow" factor for me. I wish them the best of luck getting all of those smiling douchebags in that horrific montage of pictures to actually go to this place to justify all of the money and effort spent on bringing this nightmare to fruition.

Don't they know they're doomed to fail here? It won't be long before the ghost of Jimmy Hoffa rises up from the swamps and drags the whole damn palace of commercial debauchery into the mud. Even after reading about all of the stories about the financial shortcomings and scandals since the inception of the Xanadu project I'm inclined to believe that the reason that it keeps falling flat is because those meadows are pure evil.

This could very well be the decision the defines Chris Christie's governorship. The meandering path that this project has taken is illustrated by its oddly mottled exterior design, having had as many twists and turns, ebbs and flows as the Hackensack River near which it stands. It's about as incoherent and sequitur-deprived as Samuel Taylor Coleridge's dream.

I'm seeing a painting here. Definitely.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Where Dreams Go To Die

"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea."
— Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I've spent the last 2 years studying the New Jersey Meadowlands as a source of inspiration for a body of new pantings. The idea was to take the Man vs. Nature theme, which has been a central part of my urban landscape paintings, and see how it applies in this notorious swampland. My goal was to find evidence of Mankind's folly in this once pristine wetland.

It was my belief that The Meadowlands were so inhospitable, so treacherous, and so challenging for any type of engineering project that even the most ambitions feats would not be able to completely develop the region. This would be ironic, I believed, since it lies so close to what I consider to be commercial culture's high holy ground: New York City. While I certainly have seen quite a few brutal battlegrounds in the area between Nature and Man, nothing I have seen yet has indicated that industrial civilization would be prevented from eventually turning the once beautiful aquatic landscape into a giant multi-purpose mixed retail/residential/industrial complex.

There is conceivably enough dirt in the world to fill in the entire swamp, so I suppose my romantic vision of Mother Nature rising up and beating back the evil developers seeking to exploit the commercial potential from what used to be a pristine wilderness is just horseshit. But there does seem to be some kind of evil presence in the place. Perhaps its the ghost of JImmy Hoffa? Maybe not, but something about the folklore and the bad reputation of the "Jersey Meadows" as the old-timers call it, can't be shaken. The Meadowlands' distinction as being a vast urban sewer and garbage dump tainted a fair share of development projects and sent many investors heading for the high ground in its day.

Enter Xanadu.

According to an article in, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie calls this place the "ugliest damn building in New Jersey and maybe America." This project, begun in 2004 as a massive retail and entertainment complex, was to feature such attractions as an indoor ski slope, skydiving simulator, vertical wind tunnel and indoor ferris wheel, just to name a few. The project has gone through a handful of owners and interested parties, none of whom seem capable of actually completing and opening the place, and cash flow has at times interrupted by more than one financial impropriety. Thus, Xanadu remains unfinished and unoccupied, although new investors and interest from Governor Christie seem to have given the complex a glimmer of hope.

By sheer common sense, it appears that Xanadu is doomed to fail. Why build a giant indoor mall that's only a few minutes from New York City? Why build an indoor ski slope when real ski slopes are only an hour away? Have transpiration issues and environmental impact been seriously considered? Does northern New Jersey really, honestly, truly need ANOTHER mall? I was told once by a reputable authority on the subject that The Meadowlands are where dreams go to die. In the coming years we'll see if Xanadu will suffer that fate.

One more question: could the "sunless sea" in this case mean Newark Bay? I'm just saying.