A strange week, number one turned 15. Now she shows us her view of the city, the places to go, to think about, and imagine.
So her friend and I went to go I Tonya to celebrate her fifteenth birthday.
Watching the movie, I felt guilty. I must admit I regretted not taking more time to look at Tonya Harding's life in its totality. I had been one of the people to laugh at the spectacle, instead of asking what happened? Where did some come from? What did she go through to get to skate?
All too often, athletes are treated like cannon fodder, used and discarded once their utility is diminished. Reflecting on my years playing high school football, I wrote about players serving as grist for the capitalist machine in my book Rebel Friendships.
Not enough do look at what happens to these kids or their families when the kids feel the pressure to perform.
The New York Times recently ran a story about the family of the deceased football player, Mike Webster, a hall of fame player with the Pittsburg Steelers who suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Because he died before the settlement cutoff date for NFL players with CTE, his family is not included in the compensation package from the NFL for players with brain injuries. Yet, his was the brain first diagnosed with the disease.
So the NFL is turning the blinds eye to the family, as if his body were mere cannon fodder.
I love the Olympics and sports in general.
But it didn't come as a surprise to hear about the old doctor for the US Olympic team, Larry Nassar, who molested the girls on the team, with impunity, protected by the US Olympic Gymnastics like he was a Catholic Priest. Yet, the testimony of Ali Raisman and some 150 other impacted gymnasts this week feels like a turning point. Raisman, an Olympic gold medalist, asked how come no one ever checked in with her. How come those who were told about the allegations did not follow up in the first place? What of the university where the doctor worked or the Olympic committees who kept him on after allegations became known?
"I feel very strongly that unless and until an independent investigation is completed. We cannot be sure (1) we know the full extent of the problem, (2) that all the people who contributed to the problem have been removed and replaced, and (3) that the changes will effectively address the problems," Raisman wrote.
These athletes are not cannon fodder. And it looks like they are finding a voice. Learning to push and think and ask questions, athletes are now part of a larger cultural conversation about subjectivity, like activists fighting wars and racisim, sexism and the notion that their bodies are expendable.
Now Mike Webster’s family is fighting back. His body cannot be simply considered cannon fodder.
Friday, number one had a day off school. So we walked through the city, taking in a trip to the Gay Center, visiting the Keith Haring bathroom and the Bureau of General Services – Queer Division, reading zines and taking in some of the interactive art.
One particular zine, Homocats Joins the Revolution, caught my eye, pointing to an image of a queer subjectivity, of regular people finding something unique in their own point of view, inviting us to imagine a more bountiful way of living and being.
“You can write anything you want on the art installations,” noted the volunteer working the bookstore.
“What are you going to write?” I asked a woman standing to draft on a message for one of the interactive pieces.
“We’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time,” she replied.
It’s a good point.
Finishing, we made our way to the Whitney, wandering from the 8th floor down.
The paintings on the top floors are like old friends, the Hoppers, the Alive Neels, the Stellas.
These works have inspired and invited into way of looking at the world for years now.
But as we moved to the incomplete history of protest, the theme of subjectivity continued.
At the fifth floor, we took in the their incomplete history of protest show. “Through the lens of the Whitney’s collection, An Incomplete History of Protest looks at how artists from the 1940s to the present have confronted the political and social issues of their day. Whether making art as a form of activism, criticism, instruction, or inspiration, the featured artists see their work as essential to challenging established thought and creating a more equitable culture. Many have sought immediate change, such as ending the war in Vietnam or combating the AIDS crisis. Others have engaged with protest more indirectly, with the long term in mind, hoping to create new ways of imagining society and citizenship… Incomplete History of Protest, however, is by name and necessity a limited account. No exhibition can approximate the activism now happening in the streets and online, and no collection can account fully for the methodological, stylistic, and political diversity of artistic address. Instead, the exhibition offers a sequence of historical case studies focused on particular moments and themes—from questions of representation to the fight for civil rights—that remain relevant today. At the root of the exhibition is the belief that artists play a profound role in transforming their time and shaping the future.”
My favorite piece was AA Bronson’s Feliz Partz reminds us, "We need to remember the diseased, the disabled, and, yes, even the dead walk among us..” Bronson continued. “They are part of our community. our history, our continuity they are part of our dream city.
Finishing the show we wandered back through the streets of our city, reimagining what this space could offer us and what kind of world she could live in.