Monday, November 16, 2020

Ken and Melanie at Veselka, Marching Against the NYPD, #CollectingNYStories #RIP Bob Thomason


Ken Schles and Melanie at Veselka, Collecting New York Stories. 

 Recent, upcoming and ongoing work.


Bruce Davidson, Subway Photos of New York in another time. 



bart boehlert and bob thomason.

After Bob died, Jack posted an epitaph, regarding a life well lived:

"Dancing is poetry
with arms and legs.”

   – Charles Baudelaire

“And those who were seen
dancing were thought to be
insane by those who could
not hear the music.”

    – Friedrich Nietzsche

Hopeful and foreboding, flirting with it all, 

 it had been that kind of week:

 a student with post partem depression taking care of her kid during our zoom class, a best friend killed by her boyfriend,  each of us trying to see each other, looking for each other, to hear other other, stories about kids coping the best they can with zoom cameras and infections on the rise. 

A friend with Lou Gehrig's disease, losing himself in his body, in the sky, trying to reach out. 

I can't see your lips, he said to me as we talked. 

Masks and barriers, trying to see each other. 

As the election debate waned, we looked around. 
The recession was still there, COVID spiking like the Spanish flu.

Disease and history maintain their uneasy dialogue. 

Our president has another two months to ignore this, as the carnage rages.

Some say the Spanish Flu robbed Wilson of his senses, losing his mind, caving in during the fateful Treaty of Versailles. 

We're watching a second wave, of the same veracity. 

Over three percent of the tests in New York positive for the first time in months.

The gyms are open but the mayor wants to close the schools, where the kids really do social distance, 

masks on, unlike the bars and restaurants. 

The grownups let the kids down. 

Family and friends are still getting stick, people still dying. 

Our friend Bob from Judson, RIP. 

Moved to Flatbush after the war. 

And lived a life, riding from Brooklyn to Judson every Sunday. 

The wanderlust to ride across China, telling stories, singing "Moon River" as he peddled. 

He always had a story. 

I must say, on this rainy day, I miss all of you.

I miss not seeing everyone or Bob at Thanksgiving.

Lockdown looming, I wish we could see each other, 

dance with each other again, 

read poetry with each other again. 

In the meantime, we teach and try to connect. 

The kids go to school one day a week.

Even that might shutter. 

 All day, we walked through the rain, looking at the murals in the Lower East Side. 

Out to Red Hook to get tested again. 

Home and back to Atlantic Ave for art supplies, 

A couple of friends to commiserate about the coming lockdown, chatting all night long. 

Splendid Saturday, we walk up the slope to Prospect Park. 

No Joe the Fishmonger, just friends and farmer's market, 

 the fall day, leaves, yellow and red.

Our to Central Park, the work continues.


"We March Against NYPD Rioting and Violence

The NYPD has been violently attacking Black led protests for Black Lives for years. This summer, they have ramped up those attacks to include any protests led by New Yorkers of Color, Queer New Yorkers, Trans New Yorkers, and anti-Fascist New Yorkers. The NYPD has deployed its Strategic Response Group, which was created to police terrorists, to attack peaceful protesters and then used the media to spread lies and propaganda to cover up for their crimes."

The president is still pouting. 
I guess 68 days is better then 4 more years, I say to my friends in Rise and Resist, marching, demanding the NYPD:

"Drop the charges against all protesters arrested since May 28, 2020.

End the Strategic Response Group's deployment at protests.

Eliminate the Disorder Control Group...

Root white supremacists out of the NYPD..."

After the action, Jay W. Walker posts:

"Thank you to all the organizers, activists, and community members who came out to We March Against NYPD Rioting and Violence! What a powerful statement against the attempts by the NYPD to divide NYC activists into good and bad protests/protesters by disseminating lies and propaganda to a gullible and unquestioning NYC media. Marchers committed to anti-fascism, progressive politics, and ending white supremacist policing from across the NYC left marched in solidarity with all protesters who have been violently targeted and attacked and with each other. Mayor Bill de Blasio's and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea's lies will not stand up to scrutiny. Their attempts to violently attack protesters and then blame their victims will not stand."

Finishing, Ken and I ride East through the Park, up to 96th street, to the Museum of the City of New York, where three of his pieces,
Melanie at Veselka, and two others, hang in a group show.

Through the show, we stroll, talking Weegee, taking in the visual dreamscapes of a a city and time, spray paint splashing through time, images by Harvey Wang, Bruce Davidson, Ken and the other storytellers, looking at the subways,  east village nightlife, a city in flux.
Ken has been there for us, snapping shots for so many years. 
Laughing, playing music, people walking alone - Ken's subject is our interior monologue, our sensibilities, late at night, feeling, dreaming, sensing, together, alone, protesting, connecting, separating.
It feels so good to walk through a museum again, 
a city and its cultural terrain still with a pulse. 

Through the park we ride, up to 106th Street, 
West to the water, 
cyclists passing by,
through the magic light,
past decaying piers,
downtown and back to Fulton Street, 
goodbye to Ken. 

Back home, cooking gumbo with friends,
the roux an elixir,
an alchemy of flavors, 
No groups larger than ten. 
Another year, another set of flavors. 
Masks and a firepit,
Rum from Haiti, another fall, another year older. 
Gene tells us about his piece in the show, two friends, two pieces in the show. 
The gumbo still makes us warm, the fire heating up the night. 

A Sunday stroll to Red Hook, the sun seemed to smile.
A cup of coffee in hand, we pause, just happy to be alive.
Big plans ahead, what will happen senior year or those that lie ahead
 - Paris or Rome or Santa Cruz?
Be here now on Valentino Pier. 

Out to Chinatown  for book group and stories about Naples and Texas and home. 
Recalling Deep Ellum Blues, a few brain cells here, there, hanging with 
 Adrienne and the Pajama Party, Peyote Cowboys and Loco Gringos, from another time. 
Another weekend in a majestic fall, breathing in a moment, that's all we've got. 


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