First week of class, we walked out to Red Hook, welcoming the crisp outpouring of light,
looking about feeling everything coming our way.
Each day, a stroll.
Some days the kids stayed home and painted.
Others, we made our way out to Ft Greene
Looking about, sledding down that hill,
rumblings in the air.
I teach and they try to learn, all of us still at home,
going into nearly a year of this.
Cabin fever grasps.
Friends offer relief.
They remind us of something outside.
Out to Barbes we meet, sitting in the snow, chatting about mutual aid projects, and the lost friends, a cat who left earlier in the day.
We shall all expect great things...says Kevin, reminding me of Emerson and Thoreau,
the next day after teaching, at the Lavender Lake, in the snow, under a heat lamp, unpacking the duel between the Transcendentalists, generosity vs miserliness in friendship and democracy.
Each of us has a story, Kevin hiking after high school, dropping out of college.
We see the city, the world changing.
Anything that goes faster than 15 miles per hour is fucked, he reminds me.
Each of us,
Laughing about our collective failures.
I’m the owner of 2000 books, 90% are mine confessed Thoreau, watching his friend become a luminary, while he struggled.
My first book was pulped.
The petty humiliations are many.
We all have our heroes.
“We spend our lives looking for a road trip like the one you describe,” I wrote Jay Parini, author of Borges and Me, in a fan mail this week. “I was in a bad place the book helped me through it. Borges is so important. Though I never knew him, I feel like I did. My father's best friend referred me to Borges in my last meeting with him before he shuffled off this mortal coil, years before AIDS treatment. Thank you for taking me on another trip with Borges. How do such friendships endure through time, even with the schisms and dialectics of friendship? There is so much pain out there. Friendships really are what get us through. Thank you for that and for sharing the story and its meditation on friendship.
There are so many more stories to tell and share.”
A kind reply and more to chat about.
“Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting.” says Kevin, paraphrasing Robert Frost, riffing on the ways we all change, remembering seeing Bruce Springsteen, Bob Marley opening for him all the years ago.
Some days we stumble in this, losing patience with each other.
Through the East Village, we walk on Saturday, greeting JK in the park, telling stories.
Our stroll took us from Smith Street to Canal on the A line, up to Generation Records,
East to the Park, talking about days of these walks, years of them.
We pick up beignets at Ray's Candy Store on Ave A.
Ray talks about his days on Tompkins Square Park, riot after riot.
“There used to be a riot every week,” he recalls, looking back at the years from 1974 on his perch, across from the Park.
JK and the Teenager and I sit by the Gaia tree, telling stories, recalling the tree's departure and we meander back down the street, back to Canal because the F isn't working.
Savitri and Billy and I talk about history and poems,
chatting about Walter Benjamin and his luminary
thesis on the philosophy of history:
"A chronicler who recites events without distinguishing between major and minor ones acts in accordance with the following truth: nothing that has ever happened should be regarded as lost for history. To be sure, only a redeemed mankind receives the fullness of its past-which is to say, only for a redeemed mankind has its past become citable in all its moments. Each moment it has lived becomes a citation a l'ordre du jour — and that day is Judgment Day.”
Can we ever reconcile our pasts and their original sins?
Reparations vs forgetting it goes on and on.
Should we forgive each other?
We don't have to?
What do we do?
We expect great things.
We call the agent,
Je suis desole.
dreaming about Paris, and the Children of the Paradise, finding some magic during the Nazi Occupation.
Emile Zola vanquishing darkness, speaking out for all Dreyfus.
"I swear that Dreyfus is innocent. May all that melt away, may my works perish if Dreyfus be not innocent! He is innocent."
We can all expect great things.
Bike lanes on the Brooklyn Bridge.
CUNY for all.
Its time for a new deal for CUNY.
We all have the right to education, says Emily.
If not now, when says Senator Jackson.
Imagine our future. Believe in our future. Invest in our future, says the PSC!:
The New Deal for CUNY repudiates austerity and creates a new funding basis for CUNY. It mandates free tuition, 5,000 new full-time faculty, parity pay for adjunct faculty, hundreds more mental health counselors and academic advisors, and funding for buildings and maintenance. Impossible in this economic climate? No—essential.
Unlike CUNY management, the PSC and our partners in the CUNY Rising Alliance believe that the current moment demands visionary investment, not defensive austerity. Austerity only amplifies the concentration of wealth among the rich and deepens existing inequalities of race and class. Course reductions at CUNY, cheapened education, budget cuts, and layoffs are not the answer.
The only way New York can emerge from the current crisis with a just economy, an anti-racist economy, is by investing in the resources that save and transform lives.
That’s why a coalition of student, labor and community groups has come together with an alternative vision for CUNY and for New York. The pandemic has shown that hollowing out public resources through underfunding is literally fatal. It’s time to end tax breaks for the rich and generate the revenue our state needs. This is the year for big, visionary investment.
The New Deal for CUNY
· Provides a five-year phase-in of funding to reimagine CUNY
· Makes CUNY free again (investment of $796M over five years)
· Increases mental health and academic counseling services for students
· ($40M over five years)
· Increases the number of full-time faculty and professionalizes adjunct pay ($636M over five years)
· Invests in capital projects to renew CUNY buildings for greater safety and capacity
Everyone has a right to an intellectual life…
Says Emily Gallagher.
With more than 550 on the Zoom event, our numbers have already demonstrated our commitment and power to get the legislation passed. It was beautiful to hear the hope and commitment to CUNY expressed by the legislators, students, PSC members and CUNY Rising Alliance partners. Another university is possible. We can make it happen if we build serious political leverage and keep the pressure on. Be part of the movement to make the New Deal for CUNY a reality! Sign up here to support and press the legislator in your district; that’s where the power is. You can get involved by retweeting, sending an email, organizing others, showing up to a meeting on zoom, writing op-eds and more. Please fill out the form and join us. And for a quick reminder of the elements of the New Deal for CUNY, watch this 30-second video. Start imagining the difference it would make to have hundreds more academic advisors and mental health counselors, 5,000 new full-time faculty, increased racial and ethnic faculty diversity, full-time positions opening up for adjuncts, a new national labor standard of parity adjunct pay, and buildings that are clean, safe, strong and beautiful. Join us! The moment for the New Deal for CUNY is now. Barbara Bowen Andrea Vásquez President and First Vice President, PSC/CUNY."