Wednesday, June 19, 2019

June Then and Now, Caroline’s Five Decades of Them

her kids
her  family on  the  way.
"Why a 10-Day Hike Might Be the Best Thing You Can Do for Your Kids" 6.19.2015 From the August/September 2015 issue
the photographer,  writer, and  painter looking at fifty.
the artist by nan goldin

turning  this life upside down
Jimi Hendrix at the Fillmore East December 31 1969
after meeting Caroline. 

 Lots of things have happened in June....
ACTing  Up.
Reclaiming  Streets June 18 1999 on Wall Street.
Arrest us just try it, Stonewall was  a riot.
The Brooklyn cyclone some nine decades ago.
Thirteen years ago the little one was born toward the end  of the month.
Perhaps the most majestic of Junes was 1969...
Two and a half weeks before the riots that shook the world,
Some six months before I was born.
Caroline entered into town, just about born in a taxi cab.
Al went on  tour with Seatrain.
Riots tore at  the city.
 “We are the Stonewall Girls,” Queer youth formed a Rockette-like kick-line and sang, as they thwarted riot cops during the riots of June 1969.
“We always dress with flair, we wear clean underwear, We wear our dungarees, above our nellie knees…”
My  mom was a few months pregnant.
Caroline  was  making  her  way through the Lower East Side,
Daughter  of Regina and Al.
“The first time I saw Jimmy it was great, it wasn’t a life changing experience,”
Recalled Al.
He introduced Hendrix to  the little Caroline at the Filmore East. 
Al explained:
“I moved in with my your mother.   I switched to work with Seatrain… I got the call to go to California with  Seatrain.  I didn’t want to go work at the farm for the show. I went west. My dad died. I moved back. I went up to get the singer who had been institutionalized, the band was in a disarray.”
Al moved  to  Bergen Street with  Donny
“…Then things got into a disarray with us, probably because of Donny. We lived on Smith and Hoyt on Bergen, within two blocks of the subway station.”
Decades later  we’d find  our way back there. 
Over  the next few years Caroline traced her  life through New York City,
Moving from the Lower  East  Side to Brooklyn.
Bergen Street.
To Staten Island.
Bronx burning.
You would see fights all the time. Street fights, arguments, confrontations,”
recalled Caroline.
 “My mom was a big confrontational person and she would run around the streets not taking crap from anyone but that always caused awkward situations. A lot of yelling on the streets with random people.”
And the years went on.
She looked around.
Up state and down.
“the people who I became really good friends with starting in 6th grade... we were all very political. We believed that -- and music is a big part of it. You had the music of the Talking Heads .. a little bit of punk rock, a lot of what you would call New Wave. Music in the 80s became a big part of it and we were just joined together as friends but we, in our limited understanding of the world, we were driven toward social justice. We just felt that that joined us. Again, it was always sort of in conjunction with music. The Beatles -- we listened to a lot of the Beatles. Donovan. So I guess still back then when we were in junior high school, the hippie movement was still very influential for us. And that was never separate from political activism. That was a moment in time where activism was so hopeful and so necessary and that influenced us as young people. We knew we had to do that, that it was just an obligation. It was a place you chose to be in the world. Whether we chose it or not, we maybe didn't have the choices that we thought we did. Nobody ever thought for a second they thought they'd go on to Wall St and work in an office...”

At the end of his life with his music, Joe Strummer confessed:
 "Yeah, I was always a hippie. I grew up in the 60s. 68 is when a consciousness grew and I lived in squats and I'm always much more comfortable outside in a bonfire around more people."

CS: It was just an extension of where we all came from. The Clash, Go Straight to Hell, Boy. Those things meant a lot to us. This sense of injustice in the world... As limited as we understood it, it meant a lot to us.

BS: Why?

CS: Because of the world that was around us. There was so much suffering and inequality around us. People were poor…”

She hit the road,
To learn where  it began. 
Studying in  Germany.
Out to California,
Seeing beauty. 
Back to Ireland,
Back to Manhattan.
And the  problems lingered:
I was young and AIDS was just becoming something in the common... It was still very non-spoken and it was still very much something looming, something dark, something looming in the gay world, that would intersect a little bit with mine, but not very much. I remember going to some protests and there was an ACT UP table and they were like, "Hey, you gotta get involved! AIDS is an important thing!" And I was just like, "What?!" I remember being horrified that there was this thing going on and I wasn't a part of it. I think that my choice of activism was always... well, there was anti-nuke. There was always a lot of anti-nuke stuff. I remember the big anti-nuke protests that would go on in I think Central Park…”
There was this guy she’d see at 28th and Lex.
She lived up the street.
She tried to stop the Mayor.
And  met this one.
Sharing the decades and moods.
Fighting monsters outside.
Intergenerational battles.
Never easy growing.
Never  easy.
Feelings linger.
Wars come and go.
Invasions and insurrections.
Another war in 2003.
You can’t wait to have  it  together to have kids,
Dad advised.
Kids  arrive.
Careers collide.
We didn’t  plan for  it.
They came.
Two kids, a  move to  California and  back.
New  York always calling.
A hike through Spain,
From Assisi to Rome.
Through France.
London so many times.
Romping around Istanbul.
Surfing in Costa Rica
Traipsing through rain forests in  Puerto  Rico
And Tokyo.
Two decades together.
Five decades since that June 1969,
Summer  2019 surprised  us.
We hit the beach.
Hot tubs.
Friends  descended from points unknown.
Vodka flowed.
The teenager sunbathed.
The  little one ran to and from.
We battled.
And forgave.
Moods flew, ebbed and ascended.
More vodka.
The sun descended.
The moon rose on 50.
As we sat there on  Brighton Beach.
With Gene and  Leslie and  Karina and Savitri and Greg,
Brother  Wyatt and Caroline.
“To  Caroline” we toasted.
We ran into the water.
And back  to the sidewalk.
Back  to  Coney Island,

She  told me
“My first memory of NY... I don't really have a memory. I have a feeling about NY. It's one that's certainly endured throughout the years.”

“The feeling is a place of excitement and mystery and endless possibilities. Sometimes disappointments, but it was in general always a very exciting place that I wanted to be a part of.”

Sitting in the sand feeling  that  sense of wonder again,
Fifty years after  that  first June in  New York  City.

Celebrating  fifty Junes with Caroline
and a few photos through the years. 

a few moments in the life of the artist...
Such a fun night in Coney Island! Thanks for this pic of Savitri d and I about to swim Babs! Thanks everyone for coming!!! Fifty years ago...great things started... — at Brooklyn, New York.