Thursday, June 1, 2017

"We Are All Lost!" Memorial Weekend in My Favorite City, Prospect Park, Coney Island, Lower East Side, MoRUS, and Friends

For a quarter century now, I’ve considered New York my favorite city.  There are times I detest her.   I need a break from her. She breaks my heart. But she’s always there, her people pouring out into the streets when the sun comes out.  There is a solace in the bodies of people making their way out to play in Prospect Park, or people watch in the still honkey-tonk Coney Island, or converge for book groups, as we did this weekend, talking Malcolm X: a Life of Reinvention, Baldwin and then wine and cheese, dinner and a few more hours watching I Am Not Your Negro.  The next morning, we made our way to the Lower East Side to celebrate the vibrant history of the Puerto Ricans, the squatters, anarchist gardeners and environmentalists.
I love New York for its rambunctious people, connecting our lives and longings for something larger.  Walking through the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, I looked at  the posters and collective messages of the squatting movement, Seth and Sabrina’s iconic images all over the small gallery.

            A copy of Ours to Lose: When Squatters Became Homeowners in New York City
by Amy Starecheski was sitting there. Nothing to Lose is a story about organizing and collective myth making.  A fascinating piece of scholarship and movement history, the book traces many of the contradictions, legends, and collective ambitions of this movement that helped expand a way of reimaging urban space. In so doing, this movement helped cement a victory for a more sustainable model or urban living, connecting green spaces, housing, and a model of do-it-yourself world making.

From the Lower East Side, we made our way up to 41st to dig through piles of manga and anime comic books at Kinokuniya, our favorite comic store in New York. then to 
 to Princeton and Garrison to visit grandparents nearby. 

This is the brilliance of the city, its mix of people and ideas, culture and comics, friends and neighboring communities. 

As we speak, the president is pulling out the Paris climate accord.  It makes me sick to my stomach to hear this. The three issues I have worked on the most for the last decade - healthcare, environment, and unions - are all on the chopping blocks. And i don't know what to do about it.  We are being ruled by an imbecile. Doesn't he know his real estate is not going to be worth anything if its under water?  

Walking the streets, i look at the people enjoying the streets and clean skies of this global city. And i worry about them, their healthcare, our environment, and work all under duress by corporate interests.  But we still have nooks and crannies of New York. 

New York is a waterfront archipelago, build around ideas from around the world. We are more a part of the world than the US.  I hope this city and idea will survive.  And we, she can have a few more memorial days here.

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