Monday, October 3, 2016

On Judson, Thomas Paine, and a City in Transition

A garden protest flyer for Thursday, number two in front of the old Thomas Paine Plaque, and Dad so crazy soft.
Join the protest to Save Elizabeth Street Garden.
Thursday, October 6 from 8:30-10:00am
100 Gold Street
Don't forget to bring a friend and
wear green!
We must show the city and developers that we will NOT be ignored!!!

The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.

-Thomas Paine

After Church at Judson yesterday, number one and I meandered through the Village.
I am always enthralled with the neighborhood, even as its changing.

Walking through Washington Square, several of us talked about the endangered Elizabeth Street Garden.  It will soon face demolition, if the De Blasio administration has anything to do with it.  He seems hell-bent on giving the city away to developers.   A few of us plan to go to the rally during the developers meeting on Thursday at 100 Gold Street from 8:30-10:00 AM.
Finishing talking, we walked across Sixth Ave, zigg-zagging through the old village, along Commercial and Bedford Streets, reminiscing about an old trip to Chumleys, the speakeasy we all used to adore before it crumbled in upon itself.

We meandered to Grove Street, up to Marie’s Crisis, where we took in the old Thomas Paine plaque for the revolutionary writer who briefly lived here in 1806.

Finally, we made our way back to Judson Church.  I love going.  Its been a religious home for me for almost nine years now, continually inspiring, reminding me of humility and hopes for all us wonderfully, fearfully made humans.
Its never been easy thinking about where to find a collective space to reflect, worship, connect with others, and even the spirits.

I went back to church in 1993 after watching the AIDS crisis leave a wretched psychic scar on the landscape.  By 2007, I had come back to New York after moving to and from California. My friend Steve suggested I try visiting Judson.
Those at Judson had long been involved with the AIDS fight, providing clean syringes, a place to breathe, mourn and resist.  As my friend Jordan E. Miller writes in his paper, “Secular Theology,  Political Poetics, and ACT UP: On Meaning-making and Resistance” in  THEOPOETICS: A Journal of Theological Imagination, Literature, Embodiment, and Aesthetics:

Mark Lowe Fisher’s corpse was carried in an open casket procession in the pouring rain from Judson Memorial Church for almost forty blocks to 43rd Street in front of the New York City Republican Headquarters on the day before Election Day in November, 1992. Before he died, he explained his desire for a political funeral in a document entitled “Bury Me Furiously.” In it, he explains,

I have decided that when I die I want my fellow AIDS activists to execute my wishes for my political funeral. I suspect––I know––my funeral will shock people when it happens. We Americans are terrified of death.

This is a messy affair, we are all involved in, living, creating families, loving, aspiring, and hoping here. In between bike trips and roller derby, studying and editing projects, we watched movies all weekend long, including, Starstruck, Truffaut’s bed and board, Eight Days a Week, Beasts of the Southern Wild. 

The whole theater laughed watching the young girls scream at the Beatles film, recalling the majestic touring moments from 1963 to 1966.  I commented about the scene with an elder man in the bathroom after the movie.

“And now we’re all old,” he smiled.   It felt wild and wistful to revisit those old feelings from so long ago.

The best thing about living here is exploring all those feelings about growing up, making sense of it all, and struggling to make it right, just as Thomas Paine did. Surely, he would have appreciated the challenge facing us in this election.

“He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.” Thomas Paine

His old plaque in the Village reads:

The world is my country
All mankind are my brethren

Scenes from a stroll in the Village and a weekend full of movies.

Join the protest to Save Elizabeth Street Garden.
Thursday, October 6 from 8:30-10:00am
100 Gold Street
RSVP by clicking here (even if you can only come for a bit)
Don't forget to bring a friend and
wear green!
We must show the city and developers that we will NOT be ignored!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment