Monday, October 2, 2017

Crazy NYC, arts and music, white noise and sunlight, and other adventures at the Brooklyn Workshop Gallery, with Laura Newman, and Jazz for a Cause #prayforgunsense

Two days back from Washington DC, Kate invited me to a vigil for Nicholas Heyward, Jr, a boy who was killed by the NYPD in 1994. At the time, he was 13 years old. September the 27th, was the anniversary of his death.  Later that night, I walked by the vigil. But I could not stay.

All I could do just was to imagine how that experience would feel.

So I spend my days trying to do as much as I can to see it all, to think and feel as much of it as I can.

Sometimes this is all I can think of to do.

In the mornings, I try not to react to the provocations coming from the White House, insults to football players, who he calls “sons of bitches”.  It’s the white noise of our current moment.  But the policy implications of the chatter are real.  You beat back one assault and another comes.   On Thursday, we heard that the Supreme Court would hear the case of Janus vs AFSCME.

As Elizabeth Warran wrote:

Powerful interests invested vast sums of money into confirming judges who will tilt our courts in favor of billionaires and big businesses. When the Republicans stole a Supreme Court seat from President Obama and forced Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch through the Senate, they knew their investment would pay off. Today it has. The Supreme Court has announced that it will consider Janus v. AFSCME, a case that could defund unions for teachers, police officers, firefighters, and postal workers. The Republican-appointed majority is poised to deal the knock-out blow to public sector unions, tilting the playing field even further in favor of corporations, and making it that much harder for workers to join together and stand up for themselves.

I spent the weekend decompressing from the crazy week. The tragedy of our moment is everywhere. But so is the beauty of the people living their lives, doing their best.

The kids and I woke up late Saturday.  And I wandered over to the Brooklyn Workshop Gallery, a gem of a space, next door to a thrift shop on Hoyt Street.

Martine Bisagni, the Director of the space, welcomed me, showing me around as I took some pictures. 

Brooklyn Workshop Gallery is a semi-collective atelier space dedicated to the celebration of cultural expressions, transparency in our processes, the sharing of our philosophies and a welcome to others with creative ideas.

Workshop Gallery Artists Foundation is a NYS 501.c.3 fledgling non-profit foundation whose purpose is to promote and facilitate the process of keeping traditional art craft vibrant in our world as well as to encourage the interpretation and expression of such through the individual artisan. We utilize working together and teaching as a means for artisan stability, community development and addressing issues of social justice.

Everyone is welcome and our door is always open. Let us know if you would like to help. We can't do this without you...

I have lived in the neighborhood for almost two decades and only just discovered the gallery a week ago.  It’s a gem.  But it needs support, as do many of the arts in NYC.

Later that night, the kids and I ate at home and I ran out to catch my friend Laura Newman’s show.  I’ve known her for ages.  She’s a soul singer with a sense of joy and wonder and feeling like few.

"Nothing Is Everything"
starring Laura Newman & You

Yes, there will be music!

$5 cover

3 weeks ago, I'm singing a duet with one of my heroes, Bobby McFerrin, and after I asked him, "What is the purpose of music?"

He replies, "The bravest thing I ever did was to get on stage by myself and create from nothing."

The Laura Newman Show is just that, a leap into the unknown, a free fall into the improvisation of life and the music that lives inside the heart.

Sitting on stage accompanied by only a base player, she smiled and sang, telling stories and regaling us with memories.  She engaged the audience, making observations. But mostly she sang.  And her fans adored her.  

Before the show, Jessica and I talked about her family in Puerto Rico. 

Its about the most beautiful place I have ever been and its caught up in a limbo between statehood and independence.

Soon the music played and its soothed me.

Sunday, the feeling continued.  We made our way to Judson and up to Ft Tyron Park to see the characters.  Donna preached and we meandered through time.

Puerto Ricans are citizens, declared the sign at the door.

That afternoon, the sun shone, we explored Washington Heights and activists marched against racism.

The city was alive. 

I had heard helicopters zooming almost over our apartment the night before, hours and hours of the sounds of helicopters, in what felt like all night.  I wondered who they were after. Thoughts of what they were doing kept me up for hours. I thought about knocks on the door like people used to get in Eastern Europe during the Soviet Years.  These days, I hope to be lucky, to avoid the other shoe dropping.  Bad news hitting my door.

By Sunday, that feeling felt far away.

Last fall, a music store opened next door.  This year they started a series of concerts for a cause.

It was the hundredth anniversary of Thelonious Monk’s birth.  And my friends at the music store across the street, were celebrating.

Cat and Alex opened the show with a duet of old Monk tunes, playing Round Midnight, Monk’s Dream, and Reflections.  Eventually the rest of their band joined them as they played Four in one, Mysterioso, a song her wrote for his daughter’s birthday.  

“Lets play it for Monk,” smiled Cat, making the keyboards sing with a wall of his sound.

The call for the show announced:

Hello!  Happy autumn from Big Wrench Piano and Brooklyn Fine Guitars.  If you haven't checked out our monthly Sunday Sounds: Jazz for a Cause series, this is a great one to start with! Tomorrow evening (10/1) upstairs at 61 Local, 61 Bergen Street in Brooklyn we present a Thelonious Monk program led by a great quartet, in honor of Mr. Monk's 100th birthday this month.

Each month a different charity will directly benefit from your attendance.  We've raised money for ALS and Alzheimer's research, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and the local SCO Family of Services so far.  This show will support Burners Without Borders, a grassroots organization that aims to provide international disaster relief through creative ways.  Please share this email and find us on Facebook or Instagram (Sunday Sounds or Big Wrench Piano Care or Brooklyn Fine Guitars).   Professional jazz musicians Cat Toren, electric piano with reedman Michael Blake, bassist Scott Colberg and drummer Alex Wyatt will provide the musical entertainment.  Suggested donation is $20.00, and after the musicians are paid (only somewhat fairly as they are playing at a discount for the cause) all collected funds will be donated to Burners Without Borders.

We very much hope to see you at this show!  Again, please spread the word as quality live music depends on both word of mouth and people making the effort to hear it.  Thank you!

Sunday October 1st, 7:30pm (two sets): 61 Local, 61 Bergen Street in Brooklyn, upstairs.  $20 suggested to support live music disaster relief through Burners Without Borders.

And finally THANK YOU for all your support so far!  Live music just isn't that alive without people to support it.

New York still has its scruffy arts loving edges.
I guess its up to all of us to support them, to keep them going.
The art is still here, people trying to find some humanity in an often crazy world.
As  I wrote this, a mass shooting took place in Las Vegas.
This country seems to have gone wild.
I wrote a note on FB:
I swear if I go my whole life without ever hearing a politician who opposes any gun controls saying, 'you are in my prayers' after a mass shooting... This is a sick country that we allow this. I'll say it again, the second amendment does include the words, 'well regulated' which mean we can restrict gun access and support the Constitution at the same time. Yet, we refuse to in favor gun sales and mass shootings. That is our gun policy. We allow mass shootings. What a country.
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!
1:11 PM - Oct 2, 2017
As Caroline writes:
If it's really all about the money, (and it is) we really need to start boycotting states with lax gun regulations. Nevada is one of the worse. #prayforgunsense
Some mornings it feels like that noise of the helicopters is only getting closer and closer.


sunlight shimmering on the water

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