Friday, September 17, 2021

As you were I was as I am you will be, #SaveEastRiverPark #BattleforthePark #WeRefuseESCR


Standing in the back at Trash and Vaudeville, a punk boutique on 7th Street, between Ave A and 1st Street in the East Village, I found myself looking at a t shirt, with the words:

"As you were I was as I am you will be"

or maybe "you will be as you were I was as I am."


Something of our passing and being takes shape in the word soup.  

All weekend we strolled through the city, Saturday September 11th, I looked at everyone on the subway on the way to the gym, everyone on their phones, in their masks, thinking about it all, two decades later, the days before when Caroline and I first hung out, double income no kids, then marriage, a trip to Istanbul, then bombs, war, then pregnancy and a few friend.

A day to look at the city and it's people, the way we all reacted, one action, followed by an overblown reaction. And the whole world went nuts. The police overplayed their hand, bombs dropped, regular people suffered, the administration drafted memos saying torture wasn't really torture, and something in all of us was lost.


Can we get it back?


I'm not sure we can.

The city is ever changed and changing.


But so are we.


Now that kid who came into the world is about to leave.

Everything is changing.

That’s what I thought riding to the East River Park after the teenager finished her workout.

Most everyone I know  was at the park, that the city is about to demolish.

@battleforthepark says we love the trees... they help us breathe... save the trees... save the city... love the trees... we need to breathe....biodiversity saves the city.

biodiversity mitigates climate disaster, save the the park.


I look at the announcement:

"A thousand people for a thousand trees
Stop a tragedy
September 11, 2021, 11:00AM
  East River Park Amphitheater
What: 1000 people, 1000 trees
We are calling for  New Yorkers to show up on
September 11 with our bodies to oppose the city’s destruction of East
River Park–a preventable health hazard and an ecological disaster and
to demand flood protection
that does not strip this environmental justice neighborhood of its
greenspace. We need a truly resilient plan that addresses root causes
of climate change instead of prioritizing traffic flow on the FDR.
Heat is our city’s number one weather-related killer. Trees reduce
After September 11, 2001, the shabby, fenced-off amphitheater in East
River Park was rebuilt by the city. Companies all over America
contributed materials to repair it. The new amphitheater was dedicated
to the children whose parents died when the twin towers collapsed.
Now in total disregard of history, the will of the neighborhood and
the more than 100,000 New Yorkers from all boroughs who use the park,
the city is planning to demolish East River Park and clear cut 1,000
trees for the East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) plan. The project to
build a giant levee is being pushed through by Mayor DeBlasio, and
City Council Member Carlina Rivera from District 2 who grew up playing
in this park and is
eager to become the speaker of the City Council.
Most recently Justin Brannan and James Gennaro, both of the New York
City Council, have called for an oversight hearing on the ESCR plan.
There has never been a comprehensive review of this plan. An earlier
flood control plan funded by HUD did not destroy the park but it was
abandoned in 2018 for the current ecocide the city prefers.
Corey Johnson, the outgoing speaker of the City Council, has been
completely unavailable to approve or disapprove an oversight hearing
on ESCR. It seems he owes this much to the community since the entire
ESCR plan was hatched in secrecy.
In light of all this we call for 1000+ residents and the media to
witness or even join us in East River Park on September 11, 2021, to
stand with these 1000 mature trees that give us oxygen, cool us off,
and protect us from the emissions of FDR that has run next to the park
for more than 80 years. As the Park Department has said, it is indeed
sad to lose these trees since many are  among the oldest in the city.
The city calls ours an environmental justice neighborhood and then
they strip us of our park. It is unconscionable. We stand with our
park, with 1,000 trees and refuse this senseless destruction of
biodiverse greenspace and attack on public health.
*This wonderful park we are trying to preserve is forever Indigenous land
of Lenapehoking. We hope to honor and respect the land of this park by
advocating its use as a resilient flood-absorbing sponge working with the
river-side ecosystem, rather than in defiance of it. We oppose the ESCR
project that continues assault on the land and recognize it adds a layer of
injury to the ongoing systemic oppression of the original stewards of this
land, the Lenapeyok People."
None of us know what is going to happen with the park.
This may be the last time any of us are here together.
It was the only place Peter felt safe during COVID.
Peter and JK give me a big hug.
Ken Schles posted a note on FB about those days twenty years ago:
"For weeks people would gather, mostly silent, post notes in store windows,
on light posts and in telephone kiosks, photos of wives and husbands, of
fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, saying “MISSING,” hoping they‘d appear.
The hospitals had remained empty that day, ambulances lined up going nowhere.
Throngs of people came looking to donate blood. We were turned away.No self-sacrifice was allowed, though many across the years have been sacrificed for lost causes and misguided retributions—collateral fallout from the folly of those trying to destroy a way of life or those naively and foolishly trying to ameliorate the hurt of damaged hegemonic excess. And there are the deaths of all those innocents and lives destroyed, caught between. #neverforget."
One of those who didn't forget was Tim, who was in town, when the towers went down. He was sitting in his apartment, thinking about it all, chatting about what all the goodbyes mean, the ongoing losses, coping with own ALS.
He couldn't go to the BBQ he'd joined us at in 2019.
Now it was all changing.
He gave me advise about how to say goodbye.
Give someone else a hug, pass it forward.
Tell em you love em.
On we ride through the city... West Village, East through the Lower East Side, up and over the Williamsburg Bridge,
through Greenopint, past Meserole, to catch up with friends, plan, and conspire. 
And then make my way to Prospect Park, where Andrew of the Billionaires and Virginia of Rise and Resist, with Jackie and Athena and Christina and on and on and on.
Athena is moving to Atlanta.
Christina is back from the Amazon.
Jackie was talking about the city.
Alice and Jeremy and I talked abut the Sarajevo and oral histories and memory.
And when the US lost its way.
9/11 always makes us feel this way.
The torture memos.
The past horrors.
The times when the US lost its soul, the genocides, internment camps, Guantanamo, Vietnam, neglect of AIDS.
And on and on and on.
My friend Jay was there.  He wasn’t' t interested in contemplating the pain of the past, the "annual grief wallow pallooza..."
Jay and I chatted all afternoon.
There were the AIDS years, the Trump years, other struggles we’d been through. 
Max was back at his place, making paella.
We shared a glass of wine on the stoop.
And Spike Lee reminded us about the ways the twin crisis of 9/11 and COVID overlap.
President Bush was busy comparing the 9/11 murderers and the January 6th insurrectionists. 
A weekend we are all alive.
Even as the city changes, we change.
Flux constant.
I'm not quite sure what you were.
But i was.
But I am not the same since you came along.
And we all came along.
Not sure what you will be.
On and on, we all talked, walking through the city the next day, past our favorite haunts of a childhood in the city, high school years on Houston Street and then 13th street, between lunches at Punjabi, to Petit Versailles, where we hung, went junk shopping, and a coffee with Ray, a show in the park, and dancing with JK and JC, running into Elissa who gave us advise about it all, and then to Washington Square, and back to 2nd Ave.
…we wander through the East Village for a lunch at Veselka, a few pierogis, with the crew, some thrift shopping, down to see @hahubu’ wonderful work @ps122gallery in the Downtown Train with Seth Tobocman and others. 
And then to the park to get a and sit in the park, before dancing away by the Gaia Tree, along with the theater for the new city crew.
At the farmer’s market, Peter S says hi, greeting Dodi, chatting about the time we all cleaned up Children’s Magical Garden together, digging through the rats and the rubble.
Be patient with the LA people, he says. 
Be patient, seeing that the teenager looks anything but patient. 
And on and on and on.
To Search and Destroy and Trash and Vaudeville and our other secret places, talking about bands and zines and the East Village and the KGB bar and high school and what went wrong and right and NYC and where its going, vs where LA is going on and on and on. 
The little one is back to school, for the first full day of school in a classroom since March of 2000 in 8th grade. Now they are starting 10th grade.
A few days from now the first one is off to LA... 
In the meantime, she’s like an apparition. 
I wonder if she'll be there in the basement with the drums
and print materials and pieces of her childhood. 
And there she is, printing away. 
But I know soon she'll be gone... like her childhood... another passing... through time...
And who knows what is going to happen to the trees.
Or anyone of us.
Each day the clock ticks down. 
That afternoon
On the road again... me and my bestie and my bff...@mothtreee
On a bikeride to a thriftstore in Bushwick to drop off art t shirts the teenager designed.
Days winding down. 
And then Tuesday, a big dinner with the BF, all of us eating and chatting away after policy class, watching American Warewolf in London. 
And then Wednesday, just home.
Last full day in Brooklyn.
Goodbye to BF. 
Packing and a few regrets on the mind, the moments it went wrong, right, things you wish you could do over.
Everywhere we walk is a memory, Carroll Park and Open House and Sacket Street and Red Hook, where we walked during the pandemic, weekly.
And the teenager kept dad sane, sharing stories about what high school and growing up were all about here, before our time here passed, 18 months of pandemic living from Jr year in high school through senior year, through college applications, into the future, the vast unknown ahead.
Who knows where you’ll find a friend, but we found one.
She was there for me when Regina died and then when Keith passed, and then my father, a hung and some care. 
Bye buddy. Caroline said she brought her home from the hospital. And then snap, she took her to college. I hate goodbyes. Onward teenager. On the move.
Thanks for having me to your party, I say to her, thanks for having me. 
Go have an adventure. 
I think of the losses and gains in my life:
Freshman year when John moved out. 
Sophomore year in high school when our family shrunk from five to two, just dad and me left after everyone left for school.
I think of Dad departing for good a few years later.
And then the teenager leaving on a jet plane, John Denver playing as I dive home. 
Back through Newark, through the Holland Tunnel, into Manhattan, across the bridge and back.
Wondering if anything in life will be as fun as having a kid like that was?
18 years of friendship and growing and showing each other songs.
Poems we both loved.
I showed her all I know.
Now she is showing me things.
Ron and I talk about the birthday parties of hers he DJ’d back in the day, playing dancing queen over and over again as the kids danced. 
Have some faith says Ron. 
I agree. But there are regrets.
I wish a few things had been different, that I hadn’t messed up some of those days, 
Screamed when I should have been quiet, taken time when I was writing. 
I’m so sorry.
Back home the little one and I eat a bagel.
And I workout in the basement.
No teenager around, just memories, her art supplies, drums, and songs she liked, Richard Hell playing, all of us singing along.  She saw something in it, none of the rest of us could see. 


Love Comes in Spurts

Song by Richard Hell and the Voidoids


“I was a child
Who wanted love that was wild
Though tight as slow motion
But crazed with devotion

Insane with devotion
A whole other notion
I was fourteen and a half
And it wasn't no laugh

Love comes in spurts - oh no it hurts
Love comes in spurts - it hurts
Love comes in spurts - oh no, 'cause
Love comes in spurts - it always hurts….

It really hurts.

No dogs in space.


Friends are calling, saying hello, greeting, chatting about the day, the shift, the adventure the teenager is on, that we all are on.


And we keep on walk, down to Fourth Ave, and down to Dolly’s Park, a Community Garden on President street, to read Sunflower Soutre with the teenager.

Parts are for poems.

Each sunflower is another poem.


Randy W calls and we conspire.

Talk about Marsha and everything else.


Doris departs.

She’d been here for decades.

Dodi and Lulu and I helped put away her Christmas Tree, year after year.

Word spread about it all.

I remember walking through the park with her.

The birds, the doormen, everyone greeted her.

They came to her.
She sent me cards every year.


Doris smiled whenever I greeted her.

Learn, wonder, open up space to a new city.


Graffiti reminds me:

“Death is the only adventure.”


“Imagine a world of abundance.”


Every tree is a story. Every sunflower is a poem.

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