Thursday, June 23, 2016

Marching Bands and Summer Bike Rides from Brooklyn Heights to an Orlando Solidarity Ride

Owen Crowley

The summer has been full of secrets and surprises. We rode our bikes everywhere this summer. Most days, we explored Prospect Park or Pier Six or the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, enjoying the hot summer, feeling the breeze. Other days, we rode through the city with peeps in Public Space Party.

Monday, we stumbled into a group of marching bands performing along the waterfront. My friend Josh was getting ready to perform with the Funkrust Brass Band, including members of the Rude Mechanical Orchestra. Funkrust was followed by the Marching Cobras, a pulsing high school band whose mission is:

to enrich lives of youth by providing opportunities for artistic expression and leadership development through music, marching band, step, dance, and much more. Culturing teens through music and the performing arts which is a language that crosses generations as well as social, economic, and racial barriers. Our staff takes pride in developing the lives of our members by helping them become responsible and respected members of society.

And that they did. Everyone at the park ran down to hear them dance and play, with summer set reflected in the water behind them. Listening to Funkrust and the Marching Cobras, I was reminded that New York culture is alive and pulsing. Across town my friends from ACT UP were busy zapping Trump Tower, making some beautiful noise of their own. But for now, we were content to ride through the city, enjoying the Brooklyn summer night.

The next day, we rode to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, taking in perhaps the most majestic view of all of New York City. “I live in Brooklyn by choice,” Truman Capote famously wrote, reflecting on his life along the Promenade.

Exploring the secret gems of the city is part of what makes summer bike rides here so tantalizing, the summer so exquisite and bittersweet.

But so are the ways we remember those fallen heroes.
My friend Kate killed herself Saturday. Back in 2002, she joined a direct action to defend public space
On October 5, 2002, two women from ACT UP cut a hole in a fence separating a walking path from a Hudson River pier facing toward New Jersey on Manhattan’s West Side Highway, “as a gesture of solidarity” with the queer youth who used the space before the fence went up. “We could hear a bunch of my girlfriend’s kids cheering us on across the street, and as soon as we started it was over--the police were there, dragging us off the fence,” one of the explained. The police immediately arrested both women.
Two cool Kates and cool Bob Kohler
RIP Kate Spencer
My friend Kate, her girlfriend wrote a post on facebook.

Kate Barnhart wrote:

I met Kate Spencer at Hampshire College in 1994. I was super busy with a full course load plus running back and forth to NYC to ACT UP. Kate tried all kinds of things to get my attention, joining my organizations and volunteering for my projects, and even signing up for the statistics class i was taking, although she had been studying art. Finally, with the advice of Collin Clay Chace, she pinned a beautiful note to my dorm door. And that's how it all began.

Later yesterday, we rode bikes in solidarity with those gunned down in Orlando.

IN SOLIDARITY WITH ORLANDO LGBTQ*, black, brown, latino, latinx lovers, brothers, sisters and mothers, spouses and partners and friends, daughters and sons, cis-gender allies, transgender, gender non-conforming, latinx, black, brown, gays and straights and queers JOIN PUBLIC SPACE PARTY and lets take back our spaces our bodies, our sex, our gender lets dance, bike, move, gyrate, dance and move to the PULSE

In Solidarity with the Dancers and Lovers of Pulse whose lives were shot down Sunday in a safe space zone come move with the Public Space Party where yes, we are against homophobia, racism, sexism, xenophobia, islamaphobia, transphobia but We Are for our bodies to be safe, queer love, safe spaces, gun control, latinx, black, brown, dancing, biking and moving to the grooving starting at Columbus Circle to reclaim space from one of the first colonizers/oppressors….

We will visit Trump Towers along the way to send our message of love against his propagation of the hate machine and stop to dance in public spaces. Let's ride together.

All people welcome to join us. If you want, wear colors of the rainbow and tie a sign to your bike or your person with your own message of love.

We met at Columbus Circle and rode through the city, trying to spread a little love in a world of violence and sadness and exquisite beauty, all mixed together in a tragicomic theater of modern life.

Thank for being a part of it.

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