Saturday, August 31, 2013

Homage to Odessa, Fast Food Workers, Trips to MoRUS, and Late Summer Rides around the City

Window into what could be a garden on Smith Street. 

Some days NYC is teeming with energy and stories, street actions and bike rides.  It was a full day of adventures.  After a morning of editing, we headed for Pier Six in Brooklyn to romp about, swing, and play in the water.

Walking along Atlantic Ave, we looked at the art going up, surveyed some of the closed restaurants and vintage drinking holes remaining. 

This year, we’ve lost the Rawhide Bar, last year Kate’s and the Life Café, and this weekend Odessa will close.  So the evening plans included  at trip to the old East Village haunt.  But not after a trip to Union Square in solidarity with fast food workers striking for better wages.  At Union Square they carried signs declaring: “Can’t Survive on 7.25.”  The federal minimum wage supplies a poverty salary.

“I used to work at McDonalds,” noted a friend earlier in the day.  “You can’t do it, you can’t survive on that.  You’ve got metro card, food, rent, you can’t survive on that.”

Friends from Occupy and ACT UP were at the rally.  Later in the day Tish James and Bill DeBlasio joined us.  Could it be that we’re seeing a turn in the tide toward a more progressive city?  Last that night, I’d return to the hood for the Times Up! “Free Your Mind and Your Bike Will Follow” dance ride.  Whatever one thinks of Times Up! and its ongoing democracy deficits, the group rides are always a blast, especially with Brennan on DJ leading us around NYC, to dance, talk, hang and connect with other folks in the city.

Riding we ran into CJ and Peter and the street.  At Astor Place, we danced and encountered some strange signs.

 An elder gentleman danced with us through several rounds of the George Clinton’s jams.  “Thanks guys, I gotta go to work now,” he explained off to a late night shift.  NYC is full of lovely people just trying to survive in a city full of neoliberal social controls.  The ride would end at Odessa, an East Village staple in all my years of living here.

Our last night at Odessa.  Photos by Brennan Cavanaugh

There we recalled memories of the dying haunt.  I met the broker looking for  my first NYC apartment here.  Elissa has gone there since high school.

Its been the respite from the storm for years now.  We hung here after the Occupy Charas action in 2011 getting away from the cold and police, meeting friends who poured in the police cracked down on action.

Occupy CHARAS Action top Photo by Eric McGregor
Bottom hanging at Odessa with the Rev and friends.
Photo by Peter Shapiro. 

After a February Valentines dance ride, Monica regaled us with her stories about traveling through the middle east by bike at Odessa, while we drank hot co co. 

CJ joined us while we all sat talking.     

Francesco from the Church of Stop Shopping dropped by.

Our last night at Odessa.  Photos by Brennan Cavanaugh

And then Josh.

And we all hung… all night, another night in NYC’s public commons of stories, bike actions, and meeting spots, in vanishing New York.

The next day we tried to drop by again for an encore lunch but it was already closed.  So we went next door and then ate in a 9th Street Community Garden.

Finishing lunch, we visited  MORUS.

Scenes from the permanent exhibit of the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space.
Amanda welcomed us.

Photos from squatting and cycling activism, which changed New York.

Photos of Community Garden activism, including vacant lots turned gardens, and efforts to preserve them.

A history of cycling advocacy in New York is narrated on the steps - from the early days of cycling through increases in ridership with Critical Mass, the crackdown, and subsequent increase in ridership,
despite the ongoing attack on Critical Mass.   Amanda and Anna painted the stairs.  

Lockbox used to defend public spaces such as community gardens. 
A short history of the East Village community garden movement is displayed on the walls.
Much of this movement is buttressed within struggles to reclaim public spaces, including gardens and privately owned public spaces, such as Zuccotti Park.

The museum includes the Times Up! energy bike, which helped support the movement after the city took away the power generators.   Through cycling, we created our own energy.

Finishing our tour of MoRUS, we tried to go to Odessa again, but went next door and romped around the park, in another great day of seeing friends.

A day in the park, a final trip through Odessa, and a walk home.
The photos of Odessa, are blurry as the memories will soon become. 

The talk of the town was the probable Syria strike.  Many hate Assad and what’s happening to the people there.  Others can’t stand the idea of the US doing anything in the Middle East.  Most of us feel like we’ve seen this movie before.
Seamus was gone. But his words lingered on:

History says, Don’t hope

On this side of the grave.

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up,

And hope and history rhyme.