28 years ago members of ACT UP threw the ashes of loved ones, who’d perished, on the White House Lawn. rites: “we called for loved ones who lost their family members to AIDS to join us in dumping the ashes of people who died of AIDS because of Presidential Neglect, on the White House Law.”
Plans are in the works to reprise this for those lost to COVID 19.
The specter of loss is everywhere.
210,000 regular people are gone.
RGB is gone.
The policies she supported, that we've worked on for decades, are under threat, the Affordable Care Act, reproductive autonomy.
We meet in front of Representative Hakeem Jeffries's office in Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn, New York 10/9, calling him to stand up and oppose the nomination of Amy Barrett.
So much is at steak much its hard to fathom.
We feel it in the middle of the night, when we wake early, when we look at the city, and the vast gaps among what used to be here.
“I want you always to remember me,” writes Norwegian Wood, the novel I’m reading. “Will you remember that I existed, and that I stood next to you here like this?”
Loss grasps at us.
As storytelling on Friday night, a few of us sit outside in a circle outside of the Grace Gallery on Ave C and 11th Street in the East Village.
An elder woman is talking about a loneliness she feels.
She reads from Truman Capote’s Lucy, a 1941 story about an Black woman in New York, missing her roots in the South.
“Lucy would gaze of the spectacle of the dying day,” writes Capote. “When she read poems with a southern theme, I realized how homesick she was. New York was a vast loneliness."
I read from my poem about Sylvie, a dream I had last fall, thinking people we meet, not unlike Lucy.
“This was Perfect for phase 5 (of 6) in our Journey from microbes to metropolis,” notes Dee Dee at the Gallery.
“October we are in Fantastical Futures. We are pushing the limits of imagination To doodle the future. Using the roots of the past on which to build the fantastical. So fitting. Allowing the note to write a story.”
“Here comes my neighbor,” says JK, looking about.
“What were you scared of” JK asks her friend Joan.
"The old Twilight Zone," she says, telling a story of watching with her brothers when she was a kid, hiding behind the couch during the show.
“We all feel fear today. There is a lot to feel, especially if we are connected to each other and the plant,” I reply. "That can be an agonizing feeling."
“I think we are 4.5 billion years old,” says JK. “My thoughts go back and forth."
“We’re stopping pipelines and deforestation,” says JK. “All these things are happening.”
Back home, we all catch up, watching the Derry Girls, set in Derry, Northern Ireland, recalling the optimism of the days of the Good Friday Accord, of 10 April 1998 that ended the political conflict in Northern Ireland, wondering if we can get back to that feeling.
“We are all Derry Girls.”
The city is closing the Tombs, I read, scrolling through my facebook feed, pictures and memories flashing across my mind.
I think about years of afternoons there, year after year, a mini history of civil disobedience in New York.
Saturday, I zip from Gowanus to Sunset Park, to the Lower East Side, the fall full of colors, feelings, the park full of people.
A violinist if performing in Tompkins Square Park.
Another band if playing “Here comes the Sun.”
Musicians on stoops, a jug band, a man with xylophone.
Friends meeting on the benches, watching the kids, the squatters, the neighbors taking in the afternoon.
“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in
one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the
smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet
where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within
itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.”
says Rainer Maria Rilke, in Letters on Cézanne.
“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”
says Humbert Wolfe
All week, my friends were organizing around the Gowanus Rezone, publishing an article in City Limits:
I drafted a quick comment in City Limits:
“To call the Gowanus a “wealthy, white” neighborhood is disingenuous at best. Like many of us, I attended multiple community meetings and hearings about the Gowanus Rezoning. Majorities of those attending the meetings expressed disapproval of the plans. Mr Lander and the others involved failed to engage in that most simple of tasks for a community organizer, listening. They charged ahead with their plans. The debate between open space and housing creates a false divide. Healthy cities require both green space and affordable housing; they require non-polluting transportation and attendant infrastructure needs. There is already plenty of housing stock. Writing about SOHO, Sarah Schulman asks: "Why build 3,000 units to get 800 "low income" units? There should be no more luxury housing built in New York City, and certainly no more towers. Expand Rent Control and create low income housing in pre-existing housing stock. Or construct 100 percent low income housing. And empty ,already existing luxury towers should be transformed into low-income housing. No more luxury construction!
Leaving the Gowanus, I join Monica, Dragonfly and company for the performance in Herbert Von King Park in Bed Stuy, for Brooklyn is not a sacrifice zone:
"Back to Bed-Stuy with a segment of their five part performance action series along the route of the North Brooklyn Pipeline! Join us for a 20 minute commedia-style history lesson on energy politics and the domination of utilities companies in North East and then Jeo-Party! (inspired by Jeopardy of course), and Who Wants to Win $5 (We don't have a cool mil to give but we got laundry quarters!) to learn about the proud Do or Die history of Bed-Stuy and the communities fighting back against National Grid's fracked gas pipeline running through Black and Brown neighborhoods without our consent! It's a teach-in, it's a protest, it's theater, it's community-building, it's in the streets and we need you!"
"Ladies, Gentleman, and the rest of us, welcome to Brooklyn is not a sacrifice zone," says Dragonfly, welcoming everyone.
"I love the trees in Bed Stuy," says Jarrott.
Dragonfly and company tell the story fracked gas pipeline from superfund sites, through neighborhoods once redlined, along a pipelines destroying the environment.
Activists are connecting the dots between superfund sites and developer giveaways.
Brooklyn is not a Sacrifice Zone.
Tomorrow, "No Confirmation Until Inauguration Day of Action