Monday, March 1, 2021

Late February, Early March, One Year Later, #Cuomo'sCrisis, #CuomoCutsKill

Remembering Lawrence and friends, speaking out.

Brandon of ACT UP stood up in front of the Governor’s office to talk about the first case of COVID in New York, a year ago.


The Brooklyn Paper recalled:



As we’ve done for weeks now, we were at the Governor’s office calling for him to invest in New York, instead of talking about how well he is going.

Its not up to the person in charge to remind us how well its all going.


As Sarah Schulman puts it:


“Cuomo's years of "fuck you" to The City and his horrible undermining of our entire public sector is more than enough to discredit him. Being an asshole to the women around him is not worse than what he has done to our city. Why does sex scandal take precedence over actual incompetence and cruelty to the broad populace? Because it is more entertaining.”

Still the unwelcome advances were a reminder.

They are happening everyone, particularly in our neighborhoods.

As Ken Schles puts it:

"Covid should not be a disaster capitalist leverage point for gentrification. Fuck em."

“Cuomo’s Cuts Kill,” declares ACT UP:

“This year, Governor Andrew Cuomo is continuing to propose billions of dollars in cuts from HIV/AIDS and other healthcare services while COVID-19 wreaks havoc across the state.

But a coalition of grassroots groups is fighting back as part of the Invest In Our NY campaign! The campaign is pushing Cuomo and New York State lawmakers to pass 6 bills in the coming months that would tax the wealthy to close the budget gap and prevent the cuts that Cuomo is proposing.

-Pass the Invest in Our New York Tax Act; Including Progressive Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Heirs’ Tax, Billionaires’ Tax, Corporate Tax, Wall Street Tax
-Stop the Cuts. End threats to cut Medicaid and 340B funding.
-Don’t stop ETE (Ending the Epidemic). Expand HASA in NYS and protect long-term survivors and communities affected.
-Keep your promise: Pass Overdose Prevention Sites
-Prioritize people in prisons for vaccine rollout and free the incarcerated.
-Keep the MTA open overnight. Stop criminalizing homelessness and end the investment for 500 cops in subways.
-Cancel rent. Secure housing for all during a public health crisis.
-End the militarization and policing of vaccines. Keep cops out of public health.

Tax the rich! Care for the neglected! OR RESIGN.

Together, they could raise $50 billion that would restore billions to Medicaid, cancel rent for low-income New Yorkers and protect vulnerable communities.

Join us outside Gov Cuomo's office to tell him that his cuts kill!”


All over, we’ve been fighting to get the city back on fair footing, while the city uses austerity and the pandemic as disaster capitalism.


All week, my friends and I had been thinking about Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who departed earlier in the week.

Gary Snyder is alive, but Ferlinghetti one of the last of the line.

I wish we could have a catch up and remember and read poems.

We’ve been at it online sharing poems and stories, remembering the HOWL trial, fights for a different kind of a democracy of ideas.

After he passed, I found myself going deep into Lawrence’s world, reading Poetry as Insurgent Art, HOWL, Allen’s relationship with his mother, his poetry, and connection... disconnection with her... “I took Lear as a caution,” says Allen.  Between Amanda Gorman’s rise and Ferlinghetti’s departure, this may be the year of the poet, trying to make sense of the losses, the fragile ground we stand on.

It’s particularly acute for kids, always home, reading away, making it work.

These days, “the patter of their feet” -  that feels ongoing, often home, listening to music, drawing, reading, finding their way.

In the meantime, a half million dead.

I asked friends to post poems.

Alexis Danzig:

“Bashert Irena Klepfisz

These words are dedicated to those who died These words are dedicated to those who died because they had no love and felt alone in the world because they were afraid to be alone and tried to stick it out because they could not ask because they were shunned because they were sick and their bodies could not resist the disease because they played it safe because they had no connections because they had no faith because they felt they did not belong and wanted to die These words are dedicated to those who died because they were loners and liked it because they acquired friends and drew others to them because they took risks because they were stubborn and refused to give up because they asked for too much These words are dedicated to those who died because a card was lost and a number was skipped because a bed was denied because a place was filled and no other place was left These words are dedicated to those who died because someone did not follow through because someone overlooked and forgot because someone left everything to God because someone was late because someone did not arrive at all because someone told them to wait and they just couldn’t any longer These words are dedicated to those who died because death is a punishment because death is a reward because death is the final rest because death is eternal rage These words are dedicated to those who died…”


Raymond Diskin Black posts:

“somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond” by e. e. cummings

“ somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond any experience, your eyes have their silence: in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me, or which i cannot touch because they are too near your slightest look easily will unclose me though i have closed myself as fingers, you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens (touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose or if your wish be to close me, i and my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly, as when the heart of this flower imagines the snow carefully everywhere descending; nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals the power of your intense fragility: whose texture compels me with the colour of its countries, rendering death and forever with each breathing (i do not know what it is about you that closes and opens; only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses) nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands –“

Emily McCave posts about our fragile souls:

"Last Night As I Was Sleeping" by Antonio Machado

"Last night as I was sleeping, I dreamt—marvelous error!— that I had a beehive here inside my heart. And the golden bees were making white combs and sweet honey from my old failures"

I find myself thinking about Allen G and his fragile soul, your fragile soul, and mine, his


“I’m crying all the time now.

I cried all over the street when I left the Seattle Wobbly Hall.
I cried listening to Bach.
I cried looking at the happy flowers in my backyard, I cried at the sadness of the middle aged trees.

Happiness exists I feel it.
I cried for my soul, I cried for the world’s soul.
The world has a beautiful soul.
God appearing to be seen and cried over. Overflowing heart of Paterson.

Artic, 1956”


ah,Carl, while you are not safe I am not safe,” wrote Ginsberg (1955), thinking of this friend Carl Solomon, locked up with him in a psych ward, enduring electroshock therapy in the poem Howl. “and now you’re really in the animal soup of time.” Certainly, we all are.


We can only think about it so long.

Otherwise, it consumes up.

“That was lays madness,” says Allen, reflecting on his mother’s experience in the psych ward.

“....I took some poetic paranoia from her...” he said.

Walking he found something in the city.....

We all do.

I do.

To actions all weekend, in between coffee moments, teaching, conversations about it all, chatting with Kevin and Emily and Joe and Erik and Caroline and Colin, and Gene, and the kids, to and from  Tompkins Square Park, to

Rallies against hate,

Conversations with the kids,

Chats with Mom about the vaccine,

Rallies for our union on 42nd street.

We had another rally planned.

Barbara Bowen, of my union writes:

“Dear PSC Members,

Two weeks ago, we wrote to you about the CUNY chancellor’s decision to ignore the contract and refuse to pay equity increases to 2,500 colleagues in lower-paid full-time positions—Assistant to HEO and Lecturer titles. “Honor the contract!” hundreds of PSC members demanded in letters, petitions, phone calls and protests. Late Friday night, hours before a planned demonstration in front of Chancellor Matos Rodríguez’s house, the chancellor reversed his decision. He signed an agreement with the union for payment of the increases. Assistants to HEO and faculty in full-time Lecturer titles (which include CLIP and CUNY Start Instructors) will receive this year’s full equity increase as a lump-sum payment and will have the increase applied on each salary step next year. In addition, CUNY management agreed to expedite their request for payment of the increases by the City and State so that members receive the money as soon as possible. Congratulations, PSC members! This is a victory for all of us. Hundreds of members fought back fast and hard because we were offended that Matos Rodríguez would attack lower-paid employees and withhold raises explicitly bargained to address inequities of race and gender. And we came together from every part of the union because we were stunned that management thought it could shred our contract with impunity—and without even bothering to notify the affected workers! We fought back and we won.  The economic crisis must not become an excuse for ripping up union contracts. Contract provisions are binding legal agreements, not options to be disregarded at will. The fight against the statewide freeze on across-the-board raises continues, however. On that issue, we are up against Governor Cuomo’s directive affecting all public-sector workers on New York State contracts, as well as Chancellor Matos Rodríguez’s decision to implement the freeze throughout CUNY. The PSC has made swift restoration of our 2% raise a primary demand in our campaign on the State budget. We are working with the other affected unions, including UUP, to ensure that paying workers what we are owed is a priority in this year’s budget negotiations. The PSC also fast-tracked a class-action grievance on the issue and forcefully argued our case at a hearing on February 19. It should not have taken a protest at CUNY central on Presidents’ Day, email messages from nearly 1,000 members, petitions from two different campuses, a letter to the chancellor signed by the city’s major labor leaders, intervention by elected officials, and a plan to demonstrate on the chancellor’s doorstep just to get CUNY to adhere to the contract and pay the equity raises. But the restoration of the equity raises was more than a defensive victory: it was proof that we are prepared to fight until we win.  So thank you, PSC members, for this shared win. Let’s add to it by ramping up the campaign to enact the New Deal for CUNY, legislation that would transform CUNY’s funding, staffing and student support. Join students, legislators, community groups and the PSC in a march, Brooklyn Demands a New Deal for CUNY, this Saturday, March 6, at 1:00 PM in Brooklyn, starting at Barclays Center and ending at City Tech. Stay well, and thank you, Barbara Bowen, Andrea Vásquez, President and First Vice President, PSC.”

A year later, Charles King

of Housing Words, puts it simply:

“As a minister, I am reasonably comfortable with my own mortality and that of those around me. I appreciate the rituals of mourning, and I find offering consolation to others is equally healing to me. One ritual I introduced this year after I started leading so many memorials in the midst of this pandemic was to do a brief Facebook post introducing readers to these people. You may have noticed that in these posts, I rarely mention the specific cause of death, mainly because I want you to know them for their lives and the gifts they left us. But sometimes the timing of their deaths or the circumstances makes it hard for me to figure out what to say. I conducted a memorial services two days before Christmas and another two days before we celebrated the New York. It just seemed too heavy to post about these folk at the time. Last Friday, I wore my collar again, and then again yesterday, and I am wearing it again as I write. While I used the memorial services to bring comfort to family, friends, and colleagues, I found myself too angry about the first two of these deaths to write a post. One was a young man staying in a homeless hotel where we provide the medical and behavioral health services. This young man, who had just turned 35, suffered from substance use disorder. He was involved in an incident one morning, sent to the hospital for an evaluation, and when he returned that even, was discharged to the streets by hotel staff. About two hours later, he died of a drug overdose. The person I memorialized yesterday was one of the people who dragged us across that "500,000 lives lost to COVID" milestone. He was a long-term survivor of HIV. Only 56, his death strikes me as untimely just like so many others. As I welcomed people to his memorial, one of our consumers notified me of yet another COVID-related death that very day. We have been failed by our government at every level. Over the last decade or so, nationally and here in New York State and New York City, we have decimated our public health infrastructure, making us unprepared. We still haven't recovered from the fiasco of arrogantly insisting on developing our own COVID-19 test when the Germans had developed a perfectly serviceable one. Trump, Cuomo and DeBlasio all refuse the advice of public health experts because they know better. Cuomo utterly failed nursing home residents and staff, and he continues to fail people who are incarcerated and people who are homeless. Now, both in New York City and the rest of this state, we are seeing the same inequities in getting vaccine access as we saw earlier this year with COVID mortality. This isn't by accident. This is the way the vaccination system has been designed, even as our leaders tout their commitment to health equity. And it is people like the community we call Housing Works who pay the ultimate price. I will share the lives of these five people I referenced in later posts. But I had to get this off my chest. The Trump Administration is not the only one that is culpable. If you aren't angry, you should be. And, if you are angry, I hope you are doing something to force political change.”

I hope we all are.






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