Sunday, July 4, 2021

Poetry, a Stoop Soiree, and a Walk to the Cliff #killthefilibuster #NoGowanusRezone

drag march with the kids

I saw Bat at Tompkins Yesterday.

Was thinking of you.

How is camp, I wrote the 15 year old.


It was an odd week.

The teenager was off at camp.

Scarlett aka Murry Sparkles was born 15 years ago.

I found myself thinking about those days when she arrived, we moved West and back, had the best time ever, looking at old snapshots of the  little one during an Occupy Wall Street action at Charas El Bohio, and photobombing us at the Drag March, at camp, and then in Tompkins Square Park with comrads made during the pandemic freshman year in high school spent inside, listening to podcasts about revolutions and punk bands, the history of underwear and women, taking care of friends, experimenting with new identities and ways of looking at things.

Onward Murry Sparkles through history.

Glad you are along for the ride. Thank you for being you. Thank you for reminding me about Dave Vanium and vampires and ways to be a good friend to everyone.


It’s odd, the little one’s growing up.

Still here but half out the door.

Not easy to hold it together.


On we chatted all week, reading poems, going to the beach, writing in the morning, mourning voting rights, the Supremes turning right, testifying at the Gowanus Rezoning and on and on.


“I love all the gossip,” declares JC on the roof.

“It boils down to freedom.

I’m breaking up with a friend.

A friendship is eternal, a back and forth..

Don’t talk to me.

You need to be free.

Freedom, I think of Joni Mitchell.

I want to make you feel free.

I’m making travel plans.

She lives in Berlin.

All kinds of barriers.

I bought a ticket to Portugal.

Let’s go to Greece.

Bought tickets.

Then the message:

flight canceled.

But Greece stayed in my mind,

JC pulls out a volume of Edith Hamilton.

“The course of Athens can be a blueprint today…

Freedom was a great discovery… this exploration of freedom… the freedom that I’m trying to import… that clash between East and West…

The echo of Greece.

Mythic vs Chronological time.



Poetry in motion.

Baudelaire and Ferlinghetti.

Poems on the roof.

Poetry in words, a zine the teenager shares with me.

Brennan reciting.


Alissa Quart chats about documentary poetry.

and reads “Apocalypse Anyway”:

“When my feeling was dirty nostalgia…

She thought my misery had promise.

When eclectic went tabloid.”

And Brennan channels the Life Jacket Theatre Co.


And I recall Sylvie.

“Reading things aloud gives is life,” says Alissa,

riffing on the poetry of historical materialism.

On we talked and read and talked into the night.

When I realized time was killing us.

We shall over comb.

Thoughts and Prayers after the Peter Hujar Show.

An abundance of feelings,

Between beer and Brennan’s a slow apocalypse of nihilistic poetry.


Off to Charles Street I rode the next day.

Tears before Tim and Mel had a light moment.

Talking queer marches and kids arrested by the cops. Tim will always be an activist. The struggle for health care is real.

Its everything.


And Nora dressed like a mermaid to testify against the Gowanus rezoning.

I followed, opposing.

I’m not sure anyone was listening.

Still we chase the windmills.

Missing the teenager at camp.  

And then ride to the beach, watching the panorama of bodies on the waterfront, strolling from Brighton Beach to Coney and back.


On and off and on and off the cliff.

Chatting for hours.

A break for the hearing and then the beach and more and more.

Walking to the precipice.

Looking over at the other side.

Not sure what is down there.

Greg's leaving, the teenagers moving West.

The little one in the woods.

Wait for the blackout… the light is too bright.

Sleep rescues us.

Into dreamland.

Something changes.

Its ok.


I miss you Dodi says the graffiti.

Dodi gives me poetry in words.


Guys selling something on the streets.

Another explosion.


Gunshots, fireworks cracking.


Out to the park to walk with the teenager.

The odd past, pulling at us.

I’m not sure what to wear.

But bands are playing.

Ray is still selling coffee, pictures of Anthony still up on the wall.

And the kids with orange hair are skateboarding.

Drinking a  coffee at Tompkins with Colin talking about lefties who support Assad.

Off to KGB,

Where the kids are out performing in a Stoop Soiree,

“Hosted by author and historian Tony Perrottet; featuring the music of Lacy Rose on the Harmonium, bellydance by Amanda, trippy sounds by Flunt, Teddy Horangic and Friends and Calvin Johnson on Sax…”

“Open your heart to the world,” said Johny, of Flunt riffing, word play, channeling his inner Jim Morrison with a twist of   Klaus Nomi.


On the way back, I read what Kathy Park Hong wrote about our neighbor Prageeta Sharma and on and on and on, arriving and disappearing.


And, the developer giveaway churns forward.


Testimony of CORD Co-Founder Triada Samaras at the Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adam's Meeting on the Gowanus Re-Zone

Posted: 30 Jun 2021 02:42 PM PDT

My name is Triada Samaras.

I am opposed to the current Gowanus Rezoning plan and urge a pause in the overall process.

I am a member of the Gowanus Canal CAG / Citizen's Advisory Group and I co-founded Carroll Gardens CORD / Carroll Gardens Coalition for Respectful Development with my neighbors in 2007.


I bought my home in Carroll Gardens in the mid 1990's.  I'm a single mother and working artist. I worked many years to be able to own my home in Carroll Gardens.


In my arts education career I have worked exclusively in public settings with the neediest communities in NYC and urban NJ for over 30 years.  I have been a committed community and arts activist and vocal activist for respectful development for all that time.


The truth here about the health and safety issues of this rezoning are not visible to many of those who are here admirably raging for housing justice for the neediest New Yorkers and who believe this rezoning is a good thing.


I urge everyone to carefully read the DEIS which has mistakes and major flaws throughout it.  It is irresponsible for NYC to railroad this community during this time when we are trying to emerge from a pandemic.  Gowanus deserves better.


Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez has publicly called for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Gowanus rezoning to be re-done with the federal agencies, as required by state and federal law.


Neither social nor economic nor environmental justice is being served by this misguided and rushed re-zoning.  I am opposed to this current re-zoning plan and urge a pause in the overall process until a comprehensive study is done at  *"Public Place" and other coal tar remediation areas that fully documents the the human health impacts of living over a coal tar contaminated site.


As a CAG member I can tell you that the City of New York is currently in total non-compliance with the EPA.  In addition, this ULURP process has been entirely illegal and undemocratic until a few days ago.


Affordable housing is indeed an issue in New York City but the proposed rezoning puts the neediest New Yorkers directly in harms' way due to: **chemical contamination, ***inadequate  CSO planning, and perhaps worst of all:  the location of the land in a flood zone that was ****well-documented during Hurricane Sandy as having toxic flood waters flooding the surrounding streets.


Triada Samaras

CG CORD Co-Founder

Gowanus Canal CAG Member



Hard right turn at the Supremes...

Democracy on the precipice.

From Move On:

"The Supreme Court, led by the extremist right-wing justices appointed by Donald Trump, just dealt a major blow to voting rights and opened the door to even more direct attempts by Republican lawmakers to stop people of color from voting.

The court ruled that two laws in Arizona that lower courts had previously ruled unconstitutional—and explicitly racist—will be allowed to stand, even further weakening long-standing protections in the Voting Rights Act and opening the door for the court to turn a blind eye to more Republican attempts to suppress votes and manipulate elections in their favor.1

The most egregious part of the decision is to uphold a law in Arizona that banned voters from getting help returning mail-in ballots, which lower courts rightly saw as a direct attempt to curb voting by Native Americans living in rural areas and on reservations in the state, who do not receive postal service at their homes.2

Republicans in states across the country will surely take today's ruling as a blank check to continue passing laws to stop Democrats and people of color from voting..."


Ken Schles is in Brooklyn, New York.

Photos caption by Ken Schles:
"When voting rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand-up, fight back! But when those in power aren’t sufficiently moved to fight on your behalf, or are too weak to overcome more powerful, anti-democratic, white supremacist forces, the road towards an egalitarian, democratic society is only difficult. Rights are unilaterally swept away. Laws are gutted: eviscerated before our eyes. Laws that took generations of struggle and hardship to pass into law are wiped away by an activist right-wing Supreme Court. The destruction is getting swifter, more strident in a court dominated by far right ‘Justices.’ Minority rule of Republicans hold this country hostage. Their tools: the gerrymander, domination of the courts, dark money and the unequal standing of the Senate, where 50 Republicans hold as many seats as Democrats but represent over 40MM fewer (predominantly urban BIPOC) people. Last week, after this protest was held in front of @senschumer ‘s Brooklyn home, the far right leaning #scotus further eroded an already weakened 1965 Voting Rights Act in defiance of the will of a weak Congress. To counter the systematic diminishing of that law, several bills have been introduced to strengthen basic voting rights: The John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the For The People Act. Can they pass with the strongest of Jim Crow tools, the filibuster? Doubtful. Without eliminating the filibuster expect more erosion of rights and protections in the future.“We have to remember that the Supreme Court is not going to save us — it’s not going to protect our democracy in these moments when it is most necessary that it does so,” Sam Spital, the director of litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said Friday. The high court gutted the central protection of the Voting Rights Act in a 2013 decision, and on Thursday the court further limited the act’s reach in combating discriminatory laws, establishing strict new guidelines for proving the laws’ effects on voters of color and thus requiring litigants to clear the much higher bar of proving purposeful intent to discriminate.” (@nytimes )When voting rights are under attack, who will stand up for us? #killthefilibuster




  1. love you ben, all your compassion and heart--- what a mensch you are.... and dodi, so delicate and tuff too..... i'll miss her presence in bk but I know she'll be back, because she really is such a new yorker