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This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the August 7, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

`Big’ on the Garden State

The New Jersey tourist bureau has its glossy leaflets.

New Jersey’s chambers of commerce have their carefully worded

brochures.

Bookstores sell coffee table picture volumes of New Jersey. Any of

these are inadequate tools for recruiting executives to join New

Jersey

companies because they lack credibility. Without it, lustrous photos

of historic houses and the Jersey shore cannot quell the stereotype

that this state consists of turnpikes and oil tanks.

A Manhattan-based publishing company may have filled this gap by

dedicating

one issue of its magazine, named Big, to New Jersey. It addresses

the curse of stereotypes with 1,500 to 2,000-word essays on turnpikes

and art photos of oil tanks. It takes care of the credibility problem

by engaging well-known writers to provide commentary on subjects like

housing, suburban sprawl, and towns at the Jersey shore. And it

packages

all this in a big, 9 by 12-inch format with superb production values.

This half-inch thick issue of Big is available at Barnes & Noble and

Borders bookstores for $15 for the next couple of weeks. At the end

of August, when the next issue (called "Surf") comes out,

the New Jersey issue will be relegated to the archives and the price

will double. The magazine can also be ordered on the website at

www.bigmagazine.com.

At the newsstand price, it makes a superb recruiting tool.

Until now, the 10-year-old magazine had taken a international stance

by focusing each issue on one city (Tokyo) or one country (Brazil).

This issue is the pilot for an All-American series in 2003 that will

feature, for instance, Detroit as the auto city and Boston as a

technology

town. "Big is an insider trade publication for the creative

industries,

fashion, and advertising, but we think it has potential to speak to

a larger audience," says Carla Iny, assistant to the publisher,

Marcelo Junemann.

New Jersey was the chosen focus for the pilot because a freelance

editor, Phil Bricker, pitched it as the USA’s "most typical

state."

The literary editor, David Cashion, used an excerpt from a book by

John McPhee and commissioned essays from Don Linky (of the Carnegie

Center) and Angus Kress Gillespie and Michael Aaron Rockland (both

of Rutgers). Laura McPhee and Virginia Behan contributed a photo

essay,

as did children from Trenton who learned their craft in a program

sponsored by the Young Audiences of New Jersey.

Every issue of Big is conceived and designed differently, from

scratch.

"We change contributors, direction, and design with every

issue,"

says founder Junemann. "It keeps ideas very fresh. People put

100 percent of their energy into it because they know it is the only

issue, and that’s it. We don’t care about fashion, we care about

creativity

and quality."

The next issue, for instance, will be insider’s look at surf culture

and will be radically different in tone and content. Such ruthless

reinvention of the wheel lets the magazine get along with just five

full-time staff members, including Junemann. The self-educated

Chilean-born

son of a landowner and an artist, he started a printing business in

Spain but despised the usual business of tawdry brochures and yearned

to produce something beautiful.

Ten years later the magazine has a circulation of 50,000 worldwide,

including 35,000 copies in the United States, and all but five percent

of the press run is sold by subscription. Under this business model,

the photography and literary contributors get their work showcased

beautifully but their honorarium is limited to $200 plus several

complimentary

copies. "They really have to want to be a part of this," says

Iny.

"Junemann prides himself on sourcing talent to push the

boundaries,

not just for fashion, but of photographic imagery in general,"

said a reviewer in London’s Sunday Review. Big "is considered

to be the most stingingly hip of all coffee-table bibles."

The editor of the New Jersey issue, Bricker, is British and has worked

for the British magazines noted for their cheeky, hip attitude, but

that did not carry over for the New Jersey issue. "He has such

a profound love of New Jersey," says Iny, "that he did not

work tongue in cheek, and the end result is so sincere."

Among the photo features are aerial shots by John Majoris, an essay

on Newark’s attempts at urban renewal by Camilo Jos Vergara, a

portrait

of Mendham as a suburban community by Juliana Sohn (who is married

to Bricker), an essay on backyard family life by Margaret Salmon and

Dean Wiand, and interior shots of the Merrill Lynch Hopewell campus,

part of a series called "New Jersey Inc.: a private look into

the wall-to-wall carpeted corridors of power."

Michael Aaron Rockland discussed the image problem in

a keynote essay:

"Probably no other state has a more uncertain image than

New Jersey. While it is considerably agricultural, the Garden State

is actually the most highway-intensive and most densely populated

of the fifty members of the union. It is by some reckonings the most

affluent state, yet its cities are among the most degraded in the

nation. It has handsome hills and stunning beaches, yet it is heavily

industrialized and known for its toxic waste dumps. Most states have

something characteristic about them? New Jersey is not as lucky."

Nature writer Joanna Burger contributes "Bears in the

Driveway:

the balance between man & animal," Gillespie (the Rutgers

folklorist

and the author of the book on the construction of the World Trade

Center) tells about towns at the Jersey shore, and McPhee is

represented

by an excerpt from his book "The Pine Barrens." An essay on

sprawl by Owen D. Gutfreund contrasts with the 1992 position, taken

by futurist Joel Garreau, that New Jersey consists of "Edge

Cities."

There are 10 fabulous portraits of athletes in Hamilton and Hightstown

by Nancianne Vizzini, an essay on how immigration affected New Jersey

by Linky, and a McPhee/Behan photo of the Trenton Makes bridge. The

big surprise, however, is a photo of a building on Cranbury-South

River Road. It is not labeled as such; it is merely identified as

being in South Brunswick.

But the street number shown on the building reveals that the occupying

company is Genesis Group Inc. Based in Chicago, it tripled its space

four years ago with a move from Edison and now employs 35 people, says

Michele A. Guariglia, the terminal manager (www.genesislogistics.com).

Among its clients for trucking and warehousing are American Express,

W.W. Grainger, and a host of pharmaceutical firms, such as Schering

Plough.

This unusual 250,000 square-foot building, designed by Samuel

Alexander Klatskin, is curved and comes to a point at one end. It

serves as the entrance to the Forsgate Corporate Center, the kind of

corporate park that futurist Garreau writes about. An excerpt from his

1992 book, "Edge City: Life on the New Frontier," is reprinted

in this issue of Big. Among his observations:

"New Jersey is headquarters to dozens of Fortune 500

companies,

as well as thousands of entrepreneurial startups. This is also the

state that gave birth to fiber optics, the transistor, the solar cell,

sound movies, the communications satellite, and evidentiary proof

of the Big Bang hypothesis of the origin of the universe. Yet all

this economic prowess, technological advancement, and urbanity has

been achieved without New Jersey’s having within its boundaries what

most people would consider even one major city. All this proves,

however,

is that most Americans’ idea of what makes up a city no longer matches

reality, because it doesn’t encompass the central reality of New

Jersey

edge cities.

"An old-fashioned downtown is only one way to think of a city.

In fact, it is only the 19th century vision. The edge cities of New

Jersey, instead, represent our new standard and are being copied all

over the world. Buildings rarely rise shoulder to shoulder. Instead,

their broad low outlines dot the landscape like mushrooms, separated

by greensward and parking lots. Their characteristic monument is not

a horse-mounted hero, but the atria reaching for the sun and shielding

trees perpetually in leaf at the cores of corporate headquarters,

fitness centers, and shopping plazas. Their landmark structure is

the celebrated single family detached dwelling, the suburban home

with grass all around that made America the best-housed civilization

the world has ever known.

"In the late 20th century, New Jersey’s edge cities grew more

rapidly and generated more jobs than the entire state of New York.

These edge cities now rise as their own commonwealth, from the one

in the Route 1-Princeton area to the office tower forest emerging

along interstates 80 and 287. New Jersey’s edge cities exemplify the

new mix of urbanity, demonstrating what people want, can afford, and

can stand. These edge cities, in fact, are the fruit of our attempt

to strike a delicate balance between the advantages and disadvantages

of 19th century cities and the opportunities and challenges of the

coming age."

The local connection that generated the most excitement was

a collection of photographs by Trenton students in Young Audiences’

Ennis Beley project. "It was a thrill for these students to know

that someone had bothered to find out about their work," says

Christa Conklin of the Roszel Road-based Young Audiences of New

Jersey.

"They saw their work compared to that of other professional

photographers

and had their photos in a publication more far reaching than a local

exhibit."

— Barbara Fox


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