Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Brooklyn Waterfronts, Friends, and Comics


We wandered the Brooklyn waterfront.
The world breaks our hearts.
But our neighborhoods are still there for us.
So we played on the beach in Coney Island,
ate at the Brighton Beach.
Friends came over and we cooked all night.
Joe brought fish from the market.Caroline cooked the best paella ever.
And we drank Negronis.
Friends stayed all night, chatting about elections, politics and body hair, not necessarily in that order - deep into the night.
By 3 am, everyone was snoring on the couch.We woke up and chatted about love and despair,riding bikes along the waterfront
of our ever evolving city, still feeling lucky to be here.

Batteries died for me camera.
 And I made my way up to 59th Street where a few of my friends were giving talks at Left Forum.

My friend Carlo Quispe wrote:

Fb friends I am happy to be presenting my new comics at the Left Forum as part of a panel on radical comics with Seth David Tobocman, Kevin Pyle and Sophie Yanow Sunday from 3:40 to 5:40 pm - (L.76 right of the entrance by the Kroll Atrium on the lobby level) Left Forum Department of Sociology CUNY Graduate Center...- I have been enjoying myself all weekend and I will be there starting at 10 am, drop by!

So I dropped by the forum, taking in a heavy dose of the left and its apologists for Stalin, debates about free speech, censorship, activism, and transphobia.  I was supposed to see my friend James speak.  But i could not find it.
So I went to Carlo's panel.

There Seth Tobocman was giving a talk about his years of movement chronicling comic books.

"What people have is valuable," noted Tobocman. "They have rights."  That social capital means something, he explained pointing out that more people are the streets than ever.  There is an amazing opportunity here. "There is so much potential out there.  Remind people of their potential.  I was in a peace group in college with five people, five people.  Look at the people in the street now.  Its got so much potential."

I asked Seth about ways people responded to his War on the Neighborhood and its personal narratives, mixed with movement history, and personal stories.

Some people appreciated the depictions of their lives more than others, he explained.

Finishing the panel, I met my friend James Tracy for drinks.  His book  Hillbilly Nationalists Urban Race Rebels and Black Power, Community Organizing in Radical Times is still gaining traction.  He was speaking about the book with some organizers, including Hy Thurman, of the Young Patriot Organization, who joined us for drinks.

Members of the Black Panthers, Young Lords, and Young Patriots.

"I am old school," he explained.  "You have to have some sort of relationship to work with people.  Relationships are built on trust. You don't have to be friends.  But you need to forge relationships."

Hy Thurman followed, sharing stories about his work with Blues to Bluegrass, a form of cultural activism aimed at bringing people into organizing. "One of the first things I ask someone whey they say they are a revolutionary is do you like to have fun because this is going to be a long hall."  He should know.  He was in Chicago in the late 1960's, when his friend Freddy Hampton was killed, staying involved in the movement to build bridges between poor working class communities for decades to follow. 

He told me about saying goodbye to his mentor Bob Lee, giving me a pin with the words, "Rest in Panther Power Bob Lee."

Bobby Lee, RIP
"Take it easy, but take it," said Hy as I left.

Riding home a man was screaming in the traffic.

I am so tired of this shit, he lamented.

The traffic eventually let up.

I thought about the weekend and the panels.

"Culture and storytelling are more needed than ever," noted Kevin Pyle.  I completely agree.

Barbara took a few photos from the party.

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