Although unique is almost a clichéd word, one cannot but apply it to Conveyer. Conveyer is a literary journal, which, according to its title page, is in the business of “articulating and documenting Jersey City’s sense of place though image making and storytelling.” This second issue of the journal fulfills this purpose in a variety of ways. The first section is hand-drawn grid maps with accompanying pictures and anecdotal commentary. The comments are both quirky and informational and give an insider’s sense of place in specific neighborhoods.
The next section, “Stepping It Wednesdays,” combines text by Matthew Daniel and photos by Tyson Thorne to relay the story of Wednesday night dance classes at Victory Hall. After an overview of the class, Hall describes the individual lives of the dancers and the instructors. Next, “Picturesque Contradictions” by Rocío Aranda-Alvarado describes the work of Jersey City’s native painter, August Will. And the final section, “by-products,” showcases “a collection of meaningful everyday artifacts retrieved from Jersey City, N.J.” and explains why that stuff – including a nightshirt, a Coach purse, and a Comme des Garçons wallet – is meaningful.
I imagine the readers of Conveyer to be a younger and more urban version of those who read Reader’s Digest; they would be the ones to get a kick out of the anecdotes and life stories of people and neighborhoods they know nothing about. If you are that kind of person, this journal is for you. If you’re not that kind of person and yet you’re from the Jersey City area, pick up Conveyer anyway. You just might discover a hip neighborhood (your own?) or a long-lost relative.