Monday, February 20, 2017

Outside the World, Refugees, Homeless Kids, Immigrant Strikes, and a Funeral for the Presidency, among other adventures, outings, trips to see art among antics around the city.

A weekend on the streets of NYC, mourning the presidency, hoping for better and hanging with my BFF.
Photos of us by Erik McGregor and Diane Greene Lent. 
An afternoon at the Whitney

The last week was a rampage of theater, art, street theater and dancing. It’s a crazy period here. But the world of the streets has never felt more pulsing and precarious. Every night – a different demo or dance party or event, as the city expands a conversation about what kind of world we are living in, going to live in, whats ending, and opening, people pouring in, some marginalized, some neglected, some finding new worlds.   When we meet in the streets, we talk or share ideas about the meanings of this period. I try to make sense of what has happened to our democracy.  These days, I honestly hope we can break this country up into regions, where the South does their thing, the Northeast ours; California breaks off, the Southeast and SouthWest live their own lives.  Everything is ending and beginning, bodies crossing borders, caught in the crossfire between the refugee and homeless, the immigrants and the crisis our democracy.

Thursday, I wandered out of class to Borough Hall in Brooklyn, where activists with Brooklyn Law School had organized an event called,  Brooklyn Stands together, on my way to a delegate assembly meeting with the union, Monica Hunken's play, a fundraiser for New Alternatives and night of dancing at Julius, where my friends from Occupy, Sane Energy Project, ACT UP, YEs Men, New Alternatives were there shaking it; Friday #F17 Strike, Saturday a Mock Funeral for  the Presidency at Washington Square Park, and a trip to the Whitney and Garrison Sunday. Lots of fun dancing and wondering about America.

Monica Hunken Outside This World.

Monica’s new play was Outside the World, developed with collaboration and true stories from *newcomers.
“Step inside the shoes of a refugee for only a moment. In this immersive performance, the audience will have a chance to experience what it's like to enter a camp in a foreign land, following true stories from the frontlines of the crisis.  Borders are imaginary. Peek into the disorienting world of displacement.”
Monica’s show was followed by

What We Needed: Then & Now
Original songs & stories by Kirya Traber
Presented by SANCTUARY @ HERE Arts

Excerpts of a forthecoming blues song cycle. Featuring original music and personal stories by playwright and actress, Kirya Traber.
Featuring guest artsits:
Emma Alabaster
Kala Brame*

A shared evening with: Outside the World*
an immersive & interactive** refugee show
Created by Monica Hunken...

Monica’s play offered a living theater reflection on her experiences working in a refugee camps.  We arrive in the theater, pulled into a confusing space of competing tongues, a cacophony of panicked screaming voices, nervous relief workers, anxious volunteers, and the crowd as the refugees themselves.  The mix of our voices was the show itself;  we are refugees, arriving in a camp, with no indication of when we will leave or how long we will stay. There are fights; people are scolded, tea and soup are served and we experience a bit of it all. Watching we are left to wonder how we would handle no food, little direction, the feelings of being lost, between country and home. 

The show finished with videos of some of the refugees, including the story of a teenage girl who found herself in Berlin, dying her hair pink, going out dancing, and having the best day of her life.  Now she is part of the roller derby team there. Today, people around the world are stuck in the camps Hunken described.

Finishing, we talked with Monica’s mix of Living Theater and Occupy the Pipeline, Public Space Party and Sane Energy Project friends chatting, drinking beer.
Brennan and I were going to go to the New Alternatives Fundraiser for LGBT later in the night.
Wendy gave me cash for the fundraiser  

I think they are the same kids, Wendy noted.

Brennan and I rode over to the fundraiser / Mattachine Dance party, where my friends from all over the city were dancing in the back on the historic Julius Bar on West Tenth.
Its good to see people still shaking it and dancing together, raising funds and sharing love together, best dance part of the way, by far.

On Thursday, February 16, please join us at one of the most historic LGBT bars in NYC: Julius' Bar, as we join forces with one of the most popular LGBT monthly events: the Mattachine dance party, to raise funds to support one of the least visible parts of the LGBT community: homeless youth. 

Come early for the Happy Hour drink prices from 8:00 - 9:00 pm, and stay late for the happy hours of dance music by DJ Angela DiCarlo from 10 :00 - 1:00 am, with your host John Cameron Mitchell, special guests Dick Leitch, the oldest surviving member of the original Mattachine Society, and a special performance by the wildly entertaining puppeteer, Basil Twist, as volunteers from the New Alternatives for LGBT Homeless Youth organization accept your generous donations. 

There's NO cover to get in, so we hope you'll give generously, and from the heart - just two days after Valentine's Day - knowing that every dollar you donate will be used to fund the programs we provide to help some of the youngest and most at-risk members of the LGBT community.

The New Alternatives programs help to increase the self-sufficiency of LGBT homeless youth, and enable them to transition from the instability of the street and shelter system into stable adult lives, by providing case management, education services, life skills training, community-building recreational activities, opportunities for self-expression, and health support services for HIV+ youth. Harm reduction, youth development, and empowerment make up our core principles.

The Mattachine monthly dance parties celebrate the early LGBT pioneers who were among the first to stand up for LGBT rights, refusing to be told that a gay man cannot order a drink at a bar like Julius.' Their defiance helped set the stage for the historic Stonewall Riots, which took place a few years later, just a few blocks away. Mattachine monthly dance parties spin vintage vinyl from queer yesteryear in cities throughout the US, and around the world: 
This month's Mattachine dance party ad includes a photo by the late, great photojournalist Betty Lane. See it, and more about her, in my post below and here:

Julius' Bar wasn't always an iconic LGBT hangout, but it was always a hot spot for artists, hipsters and bohemians from Mae West to Tennessee Williams to Truman Capote. In operation as a bar since the 1860's, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016 in recognition of its association with the early days of the modern LGBT rights movement. Julius' serves great drinks and really great burgers.

Please Note: if you can't come to the event on Thursday night, but you'd like to support the programs and services we provide for LGBT homeless youth, you can make an online donation using the safe, secure link to our PayPal site. Please add "Julius' bar fundraiser" in the 'Special Instructions' box. Thanks! Click here to start helping us today.

The next day people around the city were converging for the day without an immigrant strike and rally @ Washington Square Park.

I ran into my friend Jenny, who I’ve known since the early days of the anti war movement back in 2003 when we were arrested at the Carlyle Group.

All these years later. She’s still here, pushing everyone.

One of my favorite interviews I ever conducted was with her.  AS she told me at the time:
So what I love to do is, I love banner drops. And I'm very focused at this point about disruption,” explains Heinz.  “At this point for me, and I don't know how else, how other people see it, but it's really along the lines of you cannot do business as usual—that that is simply not OK. Or what I wrote in my statement to the court, democracy is not a spectator sport. You've got to be active, and you've got be on the front lines and when your voices are not being heard in the media, or anywhere else, you've got to disrupt and say, Hey guys, this is what it is.”  For Heinz, the point is challenge those in power, especially when the system seems to be breaking down. “What I'm saying is that when the Congress is no longer functioning, when the judiciary is no longer functioning, when you've done away with balance of powers, when you don't have checks and balances, when your voice is being stifled….” 

Her point is that formal democracy feels broken.  So she is asking everyone around her to lift their voices, even when we do something as simple as go to the theater.  There is no separation of life from the art we are consuming.

 She told a story about going to Lincoln Center wearing a small sign declaring: "NO! In the name of humanity. I refuse to accept the rise of fascism in America." The security told her she could not carry it.  

But I don’t go anywhere without it, she replied. I’m asking everyone what they are going to do about this mess. 

She said this a public space.  He said take it off and escorted her out, giving her her money back. 
The next day she got on the phone with Norm Siegel. 

Everywhere people were talking about the feeling on the streets.
People are finally awake. 

So we talked and my friend Joe showed up with more signs.

Ban on Trump. He's Putin us on declared our banner.
He started to make another sign that declared: Strike Patriarchy.

This is one of my favorite banners of the weekend by Sunset Puppypile. Its getting rough out there. Walking through the Bowery after the rally, we saw a black man being kicked out of a high end store. i asked whats up. he said they kicked him out for window shopping. i stopped to talk to him and he broke down in tears, crying on my shoulder. "it hurts," he wheeped over and over again. "i can't shop that fast. it hurts." the war on the poor in on gang. under Obama people who may not have felt love at home felt someone out there cared, same as the disabled must have felt under Roosevelt. someone cared. now they know those in power do not care. they are on their own. the war on the poor is on. and its rough out there.

The next day, we continued the conversation at the Mock Funeral Presidency show at Washington Square, organized by Gays against Guns and Rise and Resist.

A New Orleans-style mock funeral.
February 18, 2017, Washington Square Park, NYC, 12:00pm

Brought to you by RISE AND RESIST, and GAG IS WATCHING, both based in New York City.

Join us for wailing, honoring, remembering, grieving, marching, singing, chanting, and demanding the rebirth of a Presidency dedicated to the service of all peoples and "sacred fire of liberty" that President George Washington swore to uphold.
What to wear?
Come as one of your favorite past Presidents
... or ...WEAR ALL BLACK!
What to bring?
BLACK umbrellas, rain or shine.
one of the posters easily found on our Facebook Page.”
I seemed to run into everyone I know there.  Andy and Ken from ACT UP were there. Tim Murphy was there.  Erik was snapping photos.

The GAG Reflex lead us through some songs. “We’re gonna have to have some fun along the way here everyone” smiled the man leading us. “Otherwise what is the point?”  He reflected on the microphone in his face. Another one of these pointy things in my face.
“Were just getting started! we're just getting started!” everyone chanted @ Washington Square Park
Hopefully, we can can and must resurrect it.

We are all a little messy, our lives blurry here.
Our New York stories everywhere.
On Sunday, we wandered through Washington Square Park West to the West Side Highway and the Whitney, where I took in some of the eighties art I’ve always loved, the portraits of our blurry lives and burning ambitions here. 

Brooklyn Stands Together. 


 Funeral For the Presidency.

 A trip to the Whitney.

A former student now going to Hunter. 

Grandpa jamming and other highlights from an amazing weekend. 

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