September 2003 Archives

We New Yorkers have been saying, "not in our name," for over two years. After completing a study begun only a week after the 9/11 attacks, psychoanalyst and historian Charles B. Strozier, the Director of the Center on Terrorism and Public Safety at the city's John Jay College of Criminal Justice, suggests an explanation.

But what he found in his study [including repeated interviews with people in and outside of New York] surprised him. "You cannot underestimate the difference between the experience and the image of the experience," Dr. Strozier said.

"Those who lived in Lower Manhattan breathed in the smell of the dead for weeks, like those at Auschwitz. We all knew what the smell was even if we did not speak about it. The dust settled over huge sections of the city, from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side.

"The chaos and fear were real to New Yorkers. This made the experience authentic. New Yorkers were much closer to the suffering. It was harder to become numb to it. And while they may have been angry, they were less filled with rage," the professor said. "It was much harder to get those of us who were there to believe in the notion that killing others would somehow make us safer."

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Boubacar Diallo came to New York three years ago, speaking only french and Fulani. Today he appears on Newsday's Profile page.

Second-year student in LaGuardia Community College's computer science program; an officer in the college's Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, he has been on the dean's list every semester and tutors fellow students as part of the Academic Peer Instruction Program.

Diallo was awarded a scholarship for academic achievement from CUNY in June. After graduating from LaGuardia next year he plans to go on to Stony Brook or City College to study computer information systems. The handsome Guinean hopes to stay in this country, which makes us very fortunate indeed.

"My philosophy is that whatever goes around comes around. Whatever you do to help others will come back to you. So it's better to be good than bad to others. That's why I enjoy tutoring. When you see other students happy it makes me happy, too. I have seen people struggling through some difficult classes and because I know the class, have done the work, I know that I can help them."

[story alert thanks to Barry]

Some of our friends seem to think that the story about the White House betrayal of a CIA operative just broke in the media. There must be many more so mistaken, so take a look at this post in early July and this one, two weeks later. Both link to early reports in the press.

Knowing this to be the case, another appropriate question has to be asked, and I do. Why was the significance of this crime ignored until now? Well, the Republicans have been working very hard since Watergate and that subsequent little speed bump, Iran-Contra, and everyone else has been asleep, as we now know to our shame.

Besides, it's not about sex.

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Off with their heads!

Yeah, sure, Ashcroft's going to get right on it.

But actually, is this Bush's Watergate burglary?

Are the highest members of the adminstration involved in betraying a C.I.A. agent, endangering her and her colleagues and consequently discouraging others from coming forward with information on terrorist threats? Did they do this not just for revenge, but because they hoped to to intimidate others both within and outside government - to shut them up? And is there now a coverup in process?

What did the president know?

We might actually never find out, since every branch of the federal government is controlled by Bush's Republicans, and an opposition party effectively doesn't exist.

Our only hope seems to rest on the most primitive impulse of the media, the part that reacts to the smell of blood with enough lust to overcome its corporate dependency and give up the rewards of access available to those who don't question the status quo.

The signals we've been seeing lately in national and international news coverage are certainly propitious.

Is anything going well for the administration these days?

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Edward Said died today.

"Every empire... tells itself and the world that it is unlike all other empires, that its mission is not to plunder and control but to educate and liberate. These ideas are by no means shared by the people who inhabit that empire, but that hasn't prevented the U.S. propaganda and policy apparatus from imposing its imperial perspective on Americans, whose sources of information about Arabs and Islam are woefully inadequate."
Said worked most of his life trying to remove the burden of our ignorance.




[Said was speaking this past July, and the quote was taken from a tribute on The Nation site today]

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Grace Church, lower Broadway, this week


Wait, could it . . . uh, is it, uh, the French flag?


Especially welcome on this laptop after my experience Tuesday near the UN, today's strong lead NYTimes editorial talks about free speech zones - and much more.


The Presidential Bubble

Four progressive political groups sued the Bush administration this week, charging that the Secret Service is systematically keeping protesters away from the president's public appearances. They make a serious point about free speech rights, but they also point out a disturbing aspect of the Bush White House: the country has a chief executive who seems to embrace the presidential bubble.

Security concerns make it inevitable that a modern American president will be somewhat cut off from the country he leads. He cannot insert himself into any part of normal life without a phalanx of security guards.

Protesters cannot be permitted to get close enough to pose a threat, but they ought to be able to get close enough so the president can see that they are there. Sometimes seeing a glimpse of placard-wielding demonstrators is as close as the commander in chief can get to seeing the face of national discontent.

At Mr. Bush's public appearances, his critics are routinely shunted into "protest zones" as much as a half-mile away. At the Columbia, S.C., airport last year, a protester with a "No War for Oil" sign was ordered to move a half-mile from the area where Mr. Bush's supporters were allowed to stand. When the protester refused, he was arrested.

Mr. Bush and his aides also seem to go to great lengths to underline the degree to which the president closes himself off from the news media. In an interview with Fox News this week, the president said he learned most of what he needs to know from morning briefings by his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and his chief of staff, Andrew Card.

As for newspapers, Mr. Bush said, "I glance at the headlines" but "rarely read the stories." The people who brief him on current events encounter many of the newsmakers personally, he said, and in any case "probably read the news themselves."

Some of this may be a pose that is designed to tweak the media by making the news appear to be below the president's notice. During the Iraqi invasion, when the rest of the nation was glued to TV, Mr. Bush's spokesman claimed that his boss had barely glanced at the pictures of what was going on.

But it is worrisome when one of the most incurious men ever to occupy the White House takes pains to insist that he gets his information on what the world is saying only in predigested bits from his appointees.

Mr. Bush thinks of himself as a man of the people, but carefully staged contacts with groups of supporters or small children does not constitute getting in touch with the people. It is in Mr. Bush's interest, as well as the nation's, for him to burst the bubble he has been inhabiting, and take a hard look at the real world.

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[three greenmarket images in a row, to catch up]

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View of the UN from 47th Street and 1st Avenue on Tuesday


Only about two dozen people found their way to the designated free speech zone a block from the United Nations yesterday. From where we stood we had a view of the tops of the buildings and a number of media vans and mammoth, rock-filled dump trucks some distance away. Exciting.

I'd like to think that everyone who wasn't there knows that Bush's days are now numbered, but it may also be that the administration's strategy has succeeded: Dissent is wrong, but if you insist on pursuing your little perversions you may do it where you will only be shouting at the cops and other security types.

The few (10?) anti-regime boobies gathered in the rain in Dag Hammarskjold Park were even slightly outnumbered and clearly out-shouted - ok, rather shamed - by the organization and enthusiasm of a group of Indonesians demonstrating for justice, human rights and a free Aceh.

Maybe America will survive if even with our own civil rights so threatened and compromised it can still inspire such courage and hope in her youngest sons and daughters, or her newest visitors. Many of these people may have much to lose with their activism - one modelled on our own best traditions. I hope we will remain worthy of such tributes.

The media yesterday? I only saw a Telemundo crew in almost two hours, but they lingered in front of us for quite a while, especially in front of the young Indonesians. There was some interest in my own waterproofed sign, which read, intending to direct an indictable Bush, "THE HAGUE, NOT THE UN." The few diplomat-types which walked by kept straight faces, unless they made eye contact, which broke the facade and the response was then a warm smile.

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Following up: This is the photo and caption which appeared in the NYTimes print edition on Monday. Fortunately I appear only in silhouette. We should all have been so fortunate with Wolfowitz and Goldberg as well.

[image scanned by Barry from newsprint]

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And these are only the Americans.

[image from "Counting the Body Bags" on nyc indymedia center]

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Joe Ovelman's latest guerilla art installation, created September 13th, was a wall on 10th Avenue made magical when papered with his photographs.

Go to this gallery for many of the images.

Nothing remains at the site.

For more on Joe, see the show at Daniel Silverstein in February.

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Even more ephemeral than 10th Avenue! Go to this gallery for images of the 25th Street wall after Joe [mostly] complied with the request that he remove his photographs that same morning.



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You could consult this morning's NYTimes for a report on Paul Wolfowitz's appearance yesterday at the New School. If you have the print edition, you would see an image of me holding my unfolded sign while I stood in front of the architect of our world war, himself sitting on the stage with his publicist, Jeffrey Goldberg.

The text of the news article would only begin to give you an idea of what it was like to be in that room yesterday. For that kind of an account you could not improve on the wonderful writing of my friend Choire published on The Morning News site, where the event is referred to as "the now-infamous Wolfowitz riots." [it's located about halfway down the page under "Sunday," but if you hurry there you'll miss some delicious fun with his visits to the rest of the New Yorker Festival projects]

1:26 p.m. Outside the New School Auditorium there is a giant yellow New Yorker balloon with the words ‘Sponsored by Kate Spade.’ The wind picks up and the balloon assaults some people. Interns spend the next 30 minutes hilariously attempting to deflate it. A passer-by asks ‘What’s going on here?’ The cute Young Republican in front of me in line says ‘Wolfowitz.’ ‘Oh,’ says the passer-by, ‘What’s he doing?’ ‘Spreading evil,’ I butt in.
I have a few more thoughts of my own today.

In my first post I made no attempt to describe what Wolfowitz or his straw man Goldberg said. I think it was because I was still recovering from the boredom of their conversation, believing that there was no real news in their statements, and feeling unequal to the task of outlining every lie and contradiction I had heard.

Still, there are a few bits which should be aired, and some of them have yet to see print.

I believe the words "Afghan" or "Afganistan" were not uttered, and "Palestine" only after it was lodged from the floor a number of times.

When asked why containment was rejected as a policy toward Hussein's Iraq, Wolfowitz explained that it had cost us billions, and American lives had been lost in the process. Yes, he really said that.

The reasons we destroyed Iraq were threefold: WMDs, Al Qaeda, human rights.

He did not address Africa, or respond to shouts from the audience which referenced the human rights needs, including AIDS relief, on parts of that continent.

Wolfowitz said theocracy would never be chosen by a democratic Iraq, since half of the voters are women, who would always reject theocracy. He both assumes an opportunity for totally free choice and ignores the desperate history of all paternalistic societies, where women must resort to religion to gain any control - at least in their own homes. As for the men, he personally is friends with many of them, and they would reject theocracy.

He repeatedly asserted that 9/11 had changed everything. I only wish that I could have told him that the destruction of 9/11 did not change me. What has forever changed me, the rest of the country and even the world, was this regime's violence since that day, or more fundamentally, its destruction of the 2000 presidential election.

Yesterday and still today I have difficulty in describing my reaction to the yelling in the auditorium (I mean that from those on the floor, not the stage, where there were microphones and yelling was unnecessary).

How do you deal with a government whose spokespeople just make things up? What if the media never calls them on it? What if millions of demonstrators in streets here and around the world cannot provoke a response? Finally given the appearance of access, some people will shout their opposition with relative restraint, and some will yell, really yell, possibly even indulging in some hyperbole.

What's rude here? What's appropriate in a revolutionary situation?

We did not appoint Wolfowitz, we did not appoint his boss, Rumsfeld, and we did not appoint Rumsfeld's boss Bush. Wolfowitz, and to some extent his associate Goldberg, are not operating according to the rules . Power and military force are their preferred tools, but they will use the rhetoric of the Constitution and civil rights if it works as well.

Is it rude to yell at a dictarorship? Is it still appropriate to talk about threats to the exercise of free speech if we are talking about a regime which has been imposed upon a great people, and when that regime has rewritten the rules which govern democracy and civil rights?

How are we to be heard above the roar of their violence?

As you have probably noticed by now, something new is going on with this site. Barry has upgraded me, moving it from b2 to Movable Type. Yea!

For you readers or picture gazers it means quicker response with internal links and a site search tool which really works.

If you have any problems with the weblog, let me know (or tell him, which is what I will have to do, since he's the one who is going to fix it, bless him).

There may still be some subtle aesthetic changes made, but I've been too otherwise-engaged to deal with those issues today.


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they didn't want her to stay


I didn't want to be there. They made me go. That is, the clearly perverse creators of the New Yorker Festival made an offer I could not refuse. The New School, storied for most of a century as a refuge for artists and thinkers fleeing prejudice and persecution, was asked to be host today to an obviously rehearsed Q & A session between Jeffrey Goldberg and Paul Wolfowitz. The former is a writer who has served as an important propagandist for the current regime in Washington, and the latter is the chief architect of and spokesman for that regime's policy of diplomacy by military might alone.

We note that this is supposed to be a "cultural fest, celebrating the finest in the arts, music, fiction, poetry, journalism, and humor." I didn't read anything on their site about agents of newspeak or architects of world hegemony, but what do I know about American culture?

It was a miserable three hours, door-to-door-to-door. After arriving we stood patiently in line while security searched each of the 500-some members of the audience individually, even emptying their bags. Somewhat less diverting was the period actually spent sitting through the undistinguished guests' extraordinarily banal exchange of the same words repeated over and over again. Even the opportunity presented by the soliciting of questions from an overwhelmingly unsympathetic audience failed to enliven the afternoon.

Only the drama of many, many extraordinarily angry interruptions from the floor, beginning at the moment the speakers were introduced, managed to raise the day's political theater above the level of insufferable cant.

Those who spoke out during the presentation were summarily removed from the auditorium by a very beefed-up security, sometimes quite physically. My favorite impatient protester was the woman who laid out her sound bite halfway through the program - very effectively - and then announced that she was ready to go. I envied her, but I felt I had to stay.

During the last few minutes of the afternoon, while Goldberg and Wolfowitz were summing up their humbug but had already announced that questions from the floor were ended, I stood up from my seat and held high the folding sign I had improvised earlier in the afternoon and hidden in a small shoulder bag. I said nothing, and no one lifted a hand against me. The hand-printed messages, one on each side, read:

ON TRIAL!
NOT
ON STAGE!


LIKE GOEBBELS
AND LORD HAW HAW

It seemed like half an hour passed while I stood there, but actually it was over in a few minutes. In that interval I saw hundreds of camera flashes, and I never turned around. The cameras were ravenous by this time. Later I was told that mine was the only sign in the room, although inside the auditorium we could all hear the whistles and shouts from the protestors outside on 12th Street.

The most profound impression I took away from what should have been an unnecessary experience for almost all of us in Joseph Urban's beautiful room today was how uninteresting, how extraordinaryily incompetent, these two men were. It's not the proximity to arguable wrongheadedness or evil works, greed or the grasping for fame or power, but rather the confrontation with such stupidity in high places that haunts me this evening.




Not remarkable, probably not a statement, but interesting that these four sturdy guys were playing hackey sack in Union Square this afternoon almost in the midst of the inflammatory signs and very verbal tirades of a number of energetic supporters of the United States Constitution.


The signs and speakers seemed like the work of a separate group. The earnest, perky people distributing literature at the side represented the Bill of Rights Defense Campaign and The Loyal Nine, a group whose name evokes 1765 and Boston's resistance to the Stamp Act.

Does freedom of speech mean that distinguished institutions of higher education are required to invite nuts and war criminals in order to support a commercially-organized event described as New Yorker magazine's "three-day cultural fest, celebrating the finest in the arts, music, fiction, poetry, journalism, and humor"?

Jeffrey Goldberg will interview Paul Wolfowitz in the New School's Tishman Auditorium at 3 pm tomorrow, Sunday, afternoon.

The possibilities of this piece de theatre sound even more delicious than that presented by the holy visit of the old lama in our own secular and public Central Park tomorrow at roughly the same time.* Numbers count, whether huge or manageable, so a disturbance near either altar might attract some attention. Creative signage can be very effective.

In any event, it seems that kind of disturbance would be very appropriate at each venue.

The West 12th Street event is certainly timely, since Goldberg is one of the most important sponsors of the fiction of Saddam Hussein's ties to September 11, Wolfowitz was one of the key architects of our invasion of Iraq, and just this week Bush has finally had to deny the connection authored by Goldberg, a connection which made the Wolfowitz-championed invasion acceptable to a frightened and gullible American public.

There will be no representation on that stage of those who either knew the truth, or who opposed our massive destruction of an entire nation - except of course for the protesters in the audience and outside the theatre. All such are welcome, at the very least to save the honor of the New School.

*
From the lama's website:

Backpacks, large purses, briefcases, bags, cameras and recording equipment will not be permitted in the Park [my emphasis]. All articles are subject to search upon entry.



Francois

Our quite wonderful new friends from Bordeaux, Francois and Nicolas, left for home Wednesday night, and we missed them immediately. They are smart. They are artists. They are charming. They are interested in everything about this city and its people. This was their first trip to the U.S., and it was Francois's first trip outside of France. They chose only to visit New York this time. Of course we wanted to see that they were happy while they were here.

There is only one reason for us to be grateful their visit did not continue into the next day: Thomas L. Friedman.

Barry has already written about what they said was their one encounter with local Francophobia, and it was a doozie. Days before they left they returned here after a visit to Times Square, very upset about having seen t-shirts for sale that read, "IRAQ FIRST, THEN FRANCE." They told us that they had heard that Americans didn't like the French, but that it was the first time they had seen the evidence. I think we were able to cheer them up again by telling them that it only meant that some miserable souls are very stupid and thoughtless, even in New York.

The day after they left Friedman showed us all just how stupid and thoughtless even appointed members of the Gotham elite can be. The NYTimes columnist (how'd he get that job, and when did the Times editorial pages start to read like The Wall Street Journal's?) declared that we were at war with France, because France wants us to fail in the occupation of Iraq.

Nicolas and Francois do not wish us ill, and the vast numbers of their countrymen are no more malevolent. The French government is not our enemy. All do join every thinking American in wanting us to stop acting like fools - and worse. The best response to an appallingly stupid Op-Ed piece which really deserves none (except for the importance of its medium) appeared the next day in a letter to the editor.

Thomas L. Friedman's assertion (column, Sept. 18) that "France wants America to fail in Iraq" is akin to saying that someone who separates a drunken driver from his car keys doesn't want him to get home.
I want us to get home, but it doesn't look like we're going to make it.

France certainly has its own problems, and Nicolas and Francois were not shy about discussing them, but at least they are home. We wish them and that home the very best.


Al Franken at Borders Books this afternoon


So I wandered downtown to Wall Street again this morning. This time the attraction was the possibility of encountering and photographing bankers and brokers screaming as Al Franken entered their neighborhood Borders Books for a signing of his latest tome, already an over-the-top (in both senses) Best Seller titled, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right."

I was disappointed, since there was not even the hint of an altercation, and the friendly Borders people were outfitted in smart "TEAM FRANKEN" t-shirts. One of the people waiting to greet the great man, a middle-aged Lefty intellectual who had already read the book, suggested that the Republicans don't read, so they had not heard what was going on just 100 feet from the Stock Exchange.

The crowd was a pretty mixed, although remarkably white, group of bookies, several hundreds of them in fact. I had missed the photo-op that I had come for, so I decided to buy the book (a totally unnecessary purchase in my case, but it was a good cause, and good for me too at a special 30% discount today) and get in line myself. Besides, the fact that a lot of them were very cute made for a pleasant market area visit. Those of us in the line unfortunately missed Franken's brief remarks delivered on another floor - bad organization on the part of the special events people at the store.

Some will have another chance tomorrow, as he will be part of a large Howard Dean event at 7 o'clock tomorrow to open the new club, Avalon, once known as The Limelight. Performers and speakers include Franken, Dean, Whoopi Goldberg and Gloria Gaynor, who will be performing "I Will Survive". Yes, that's right.

It sounds like the space is being re-consecrated in noble purpose, perhaps suggesting an attempt to exorcize the spirits of owners, promoters and club-kids past. Not a bad start, but it's not likely to determine the course of Avalon nights to follow. Nor should it.

Sounds like a certain amount of fun tomorrow night, possibly even for Dr. Dean himself.

Phew! I'm relieved, both as an atheist and as a small-"d" democrat, to find that the Tibetan political and religious leader, the Dalai Lama, has feet of clay.

Lama now says that the Iraq war may be justified, and has always said that homosexuality is not. It seems that his reputation for peace and understanding is something of an artificial creation.

On Bush's wars:

The Dalai Lama said Wednesday that the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan may have been justified to win a larger peace, but that is it too soon to judge whether the Iraq war was warranted.

"I think history will tell," he said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, just after he met with President Bush.

And, as for my wretchedness:
For example, the Dalai Lama explicitly condemns homosexuality, as well as all oral and anal sex. His stand is close to that of Pope John Paul II, something his Western followers find embarrassing and prefer to ignore. His American publisher even asked him to remove the injunctions against homosexuality from his book, "Ethics for the New Millennium," for fear they would offend American readers, and the Dalai Lama acquiesced.
He sounds like a not-so-moderate Republican to me.

What's the good of a lama if he won't defend truth and justice everywhere? And besides, we can even weep and fight for Tibet itself without the ministrations of a Buddhist fakir.




The fabulous Wau Wau Sisters and our friend Nicolas at The Kitchen's Fifth Annual Street Fair on Saturday afternoon


Artist Nancy Hwang hanging out, also at The Kitchen Fair, with her interactive deliciously-moving, dumb-waitered, gelato-eating installation, "I Scream"


Joe Ovelman's latest guerilla art, which became part of the NADA/Downtown Arts Project art walks when Vince Aletti brought his group to a halt on 10th Avenue in front of the installation


First the repeated staccato screech of rubber on asphalt, then the protracted angry screaming; this cabbie must have grieviously offended the masculinity of the driver of the old Chevy, as, stopped in the middle of 10th Avenue, he was all but crawling onto the poor man's face




Joe Ovelman, car 2001, 40 x 30" color photograph

[the following text is from Joe's press release]


Joe Ovelman


"Two Walls"

Appearing Saturday, September 13th

at the following locations:

10th Avenue, between 23rd and 24th Streets (Next to Car Wash)
West 25th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues (To the right of 531
West 25th)


Joe Ovelman and Oliver Kamm/5BE Gallery are pleased to announce the
installation of two walls of images on Saturday, September 13. These
are the fifth and sixth walls in Joe Ovelman's series of outside
installations using walls from construction sites.

The walls consist of 124 feet of combined images culled from Ovelman's
photographic work.

Joe Ovelman will have a solo show of new work at Oliver Kamm/5BE
Gallery in February 2004.


11th Avenue, 6 pm, September 12


Is it also site-specific work when a sculptor who insists upon the primacy of the artist's will creates work one or two inches smaller than his gallery's freight entrance - but definitely no smaller than that?

Richard Serra opens at Gagosian September 20



Friday afternoon, surfboards on University Place



Reza in Battery Park on September 11


I had wanted to stay away from downtown New York altogether during yesterday's celebrations of grief, but the mid-day arrival in Battery Park of my sorta pen-pal and a real hero, Reza, demanded an appearance in the area. I've been posting snippets of his story since February.

I arrived at the area where he was expected to be greeting people at about 12:20. Reza was there, as was David Hyslop and a group of about two dozen others, mostly Persians, I believe, like Reza himself, or of Persian descent.

I may have been foolish to have expected a more sizable crowd at what should have been the dramatic conclusion of his extraordinary odyssey around most of the globe. Reza is sweet, charmingly and fearlessly naïve, totally uninterested in fortune or fame, and his wonderful story has found listeners and readers all over the world for seven years.

But Reza comes from Iran, Reza does not profess any faith and Reza talks only of love and peace. Reza loves America, but apparently that just wasn’t enough for our attentions on September 11.

The Arizona Republic carried an article yesterday.

"It was so incredibly stirring with Reza marching down Broadway," said Hyslop. "He just broke down (in tears). He was a mess."

Baluchi said hundreds of people helped him along the way, adding, "American people are beautiful, and I love them."

Thursday, he placed flowers on a memorial wall in Battery Park and vowed to give his beloved bicycle - "It's all I have in the world" - to the New York Fire Department. He said he hopes to write a book on his adventures with a message to young people: "Where there's a will, there's a way."

Welcome to New York, Reza! We're very lucky to have you here.



the bike that went around the world for six years got a lift from L.A. in an RV


Nicolas

When I left the little group with Reza yesterday afternoon I wasn’t quite ready to go home while these thoughts wandered around in my head, so I walked through Battery Park and headed toward Battery Park City by way of West Street, the western boundary of the World Trade Center pit.

The main events at the site had already ended by this time, but along that strip, parked in the path which is reserved for pedestrians, runners and bicyclists, rather than docked in the street itself, were literally dozens of large TV trucks sent to cover the “news” of the second anniversary of the events of September 11. Obviously lots of people are making lots of money from this thing still.

While I waited for what seemed like forever to be permitted by the traffic cop to cross West Street, frustrated because I didn’t want to be there anyway and my exit was now being arrested, I mumbled, “fuck this,” to myself. Just then I noticed a very patient, bright-eyed guy to my left, and his appearance calmed me.

A minute later I saw him referring to his tour guide and looking a little puzzled, so I asked if I could give him some direction. I mean, why not? I’m very familiar with the entire area, having both lived and worked there at one time, and I have been a very sad and very regular visitor for exactly two years now.

He wanted to know where he could find an elevated position to see into the pit. I could only think of the huge window in the back of the Winter Garden, just above where we stood. The entrance was difficult to locate yesterday, so, feeling some responsibility by now, I went with him.

Well, we ended up spending the entire afternoon and early evening together moving about the city. Heck, I had nothing else scheduled. Nicolas is from Bordeaux, in the middle of the two weeks of his first visit to the U.S., and we hit it off pretty well.

Like Barry and myself when we travel, he tries to engage the locals when visiting new places. I guess that was my attraction, since I’m pretty local here. On my side, it didn’t hurt that he’s very smart, had recently graduated from an arts college and is now continuing private music study to pursue a career in progressive jazz/rock, and delighted in the fact that many of his friends are gay. One is even bi [pronounced “bee”]. He’d down his homework on New York. Already seen the “classics,” he said, and it turns out he had. He had made every major art museum, including Brooklyn’s, done the Empire State and walked the Brooklyn Bridge. When I met him he had just returned from a trip on the Staten Island Ferry. Now he was ready for the streets and neighborhoods.

He, his friend here in the city, Barry and I now all have tickets for Tonic’s Monday night concert with fabulous John Zorn and Fred Frith – yes, the two together!

We're going around to galleries with Nicolas tomorrow.

He’s fallen in love with New York, he says. I think he really means it, since he seriously claims it’s quieter, and less rushed than Bordeaux, and the people are calmer!

Yes, we talked a lot about politics – French, U.S., world.

We really do love the French!

I had to skip yesterday; just couldn't take the scenes. Here's why:


As a nation, we’re swimming in self-pity, we’re shaking in fear, and we’re reveling in revenge.

But were being really, really stupid. Pity, fear and revenge do not make good policy for individuals or nations.

We talk incessantly about what was done to us, but no one is asking why; we’re sure it’ll happen again, but we haven’t done much to prevent that; and we want to beat the shit out of “them,” even though “they” didn’t do it.

I don’t want to hear about September 11. I want to hear about September 10 and September 12. We need a serious investigation of how this thing happened, and a serious policy which might prevent it happening again.

What we are getting is ignorance and violence, an ignorance and a violence which can only produce greater ignorance and violence, as have already seen and as we can expect to see so long as we are committed to it.

The most truly horrifying take on why we are not getting what we really need is the argument that our de facto government is using September 11 for its own political purpose and for its plain money greed. You don’t have to believe that this administration had any part in or knew in advance about the devastating blows we suffered that day to be able to say it has done everything that it could to profit from it, and that so far its efforts have been very successful.

The first step in our recovery has not yet been taken. That step will be the removal of this evil regime.


Paul Krugman recounts its history of exploitation, and warns that, since those who directed it are finally in very serious trouble on all fronts, removing them will be very, very messy.

. . . Where once the administration was motivated by greed, now it's driven by fear.

In the first months after 9/11, the administration's ruthless exploitation of the atrocity was a choice, not a necessity.

. . . .

Now it has all gone wrong. The deficit is about to go above half a trillion dollars, the economy is still losing jobs, the triumph in Iraq has turned to dust and ashes, and Mr. Bush's poll numbers are at or below their pre-9/11 levels.

Nor can the members of this administration simply lose like gentlemen. For one thing, that's not how they operate. Furthermore, everything suggests that there are major scandals - involving energy policy, environmental policy, Iraq contracts and cooked intelligence - that would burst into the light of day if the current management lost its grip on power. So these people must win, at any cost.

The result, clearly, will be an ugly, bitter campaign - probably the nastiest of modern American history.

They will be wrapped in bibles and flags, and you and I will be accused of immorality and treason.


Reza in Shawnee, Oklahoma, earlier this year

Reza will finally be running down Broadway from the George Washington Bridge this morning, September 11. He will end up in Battery Park, instead of the World Trade Center, the destination he had been planning for exactly two years. The city said he couldn't be part of the festivities, so instead Reza and his dog Rocky will be in the park chatting with passers-by and greeting wellwishers.

Wednesday's NYTimes included a feature story on his run and his adventures since he left Iran six years ago.

Some people are born with a patriotic fervor for America. Others come to love the country despite its faults.

Reza K. Baluchi, for example, fell in love with America after spending the last four months jogging its open highways in the name of global peace. Along the way, he was locked up in an Arizona jail cell, attacked by a bear in California and forced to dive into a drainage ditch in Newark to avoid a speeding car.

"This is the greatest country in the entire world," said Mr. Baluchi, a 30-year-old Iranian whose passion for the United States remains undimmed.

Reza will be hanging out today between 11:30 am to 12:30 pm in the "Giovanni da Verrazzano" section of the park, located between Castle Clinton and the East Coast War Memorial. You probably won't miss them, as they're likely to be a very happy group. Reza's sweetness was darn infectious even without a dog.


[image from the Shawnee, Oklahoma News-Star]


The United States Bill of Rights


While assembling his coffee this morning after spotting the day's headlines, the Barry asked, "So which is it?" Are they saying we're safe against terrorists under the firm and mighty hand of Bushie, or are we still in great danger, perhaps greater than ever?

Some information about John Ashcroft's secret meeting yesterday in New York with the law biggies is now leaking through the dirty or bloody hands of his suited and uniformed guests and it sounds like attorney Mr. general, for one, just doesn't know the answer.

The delicious sarcasm of the NYTimes article begins with the headline, "Terror Lesson Fading for Some, Ashcroft Says in Manhattan." It seems we need to be made more frightened than we already are, so he's on it.

The attorney general made clear that he believes the Justice Department's antiterrorism initiatives are fully in sync with the moral imperatives of God and country — and that those who disagree may have failed to absorb the lessons of Sept. 11.

"Just two years have passed," Mr. Ashcroft said, "but already it has become difficult for some Americans to recall the shock, anger, grief and anguish of that day."

Referring to expanded abilities of antiterrorism investigators to conduct wiretaps, delay notification of a search warrant and share intelligence among agencies, he said that rolling back the use of such tools "will increase the risk that more Americans will die."

[Today in Washington Bush has already begun to perform his own part in the charade intended ultimately to greatly expand the current "Patriot" Act. Speaking at the FBI Accademy in Virginia, he called for several changes to federal law in order to "untie the hands of law enforcement officials so they can fight and win terror."]

Newsday's acount of Ashcroft's has its own charms. Their reporter makes it clear that the administration's chief justice officer believes that we must restrict our liberties in order to preserve our liberties.

"It is critical for Americans to understand that the Patriot Act is vital to our success in the war against terrorism," said Ashcroft, speaking at Federal Hall on Wall Street. "The painful lesson of Sept. 11 remains the touchstone - reminding us of the government's response to protect the lives and preserve the liberty of the American people."
But by all accounts, including its own, this government protects neither lives nor liberty.

Now read a comment or two about the "style" of yesterday's event in that hallowed hall. Newsday:

Addressing an audience that included uniformed federal, state and local law enforcement officials, U.S. Attorneys and local district attorneys, Ashcroft thanked the officials for their anti-terror efforts, inviting the audience to join him in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem as the event began. He is on a 16-city tour to champion the act.

. . . .

Ashcroft has been known to infuse his speeches with religious imagery, and yesterday was no exception as he summed up his mandate to secure citizens from terror:

"We accept this trust in the belief that liberty is the greatest gift of our creator, in the belief that the liberty must be protected. And in the belief that as long as there is a United States of America - liberty and freedom must not, shall not perish from this earth."

He was greeted with a standing ovation.

And from the Times:
Mr. Ashcroft's impassioned appeals reflect concerns in the Justice Department about a growing bipartisan wariness in Congress about aspects of the law that some believe infringe on civil liberties. Yet the attorney general has made little effort to engage skeptics directly, sticking instead to a circuit of invitation-only speeches to law enforcement personnel.

Yesterday was no exception.

Under heavy security, Mr. Ashcroft addressed a muted audience of dark-suited prosecutors and other officials occupying a semicircle of folding chairs in the rotunda, while behind him on a stage sat about two dozen uniformed police officers. A large blue backdrop lined with American flags was erected against the towering columns, temporarily masking a display illustrating the history of the site [where The Bill of Rights was both written and adopted].

Spectators were banned from the rotunda balcony, whose ornate iron railing features about 50 figures of a topless woman gazing down on the proceedings below (Mr. Ashcroft famously had a half-naked statue of the Spirit of Justice covered up in his building, but the Greek Revival maidens in Federal Hall appear to have escaped notice.)

Mr. Ashcroft took no questions . . . .

No point. Tin ears.

Two nights ago we enjoyed a vegan meal - at home. Of course there was wine, a Nebbiolo D'Alba.

I know, it doesn't sound like our table, but I assure friends that it was a coincidence, if not an accident. While we were still enjoying the wonderful fruits of an early trip to the Union Square Greenmarket, for some reason it occurred to me that what we were eating was totally consistent with vegan principle. As it happens, this sort of meal was not an exception for us, since most of the time we find ourselves dining simply on some southern Italian arrangement of vegetables and pasta, and only occasionally do we include smallish amounts of fish or meat. Cheese however is a more regular visitor.

I've been omnivorous all of my life, while always respecting, even contmplating alternative approaches. I have to say however that among my most memorable negative experiences with food are the meals in the 60's I shared with friends who virtually lived on brown rice and overcooked vegetables. The memory still gets in the way. But at least they were fond of the grape.

For us wine may be the ultimate argument against vegetarianism. Without traditional European foods, the wines developed in these meat, cheese and fish-eating cultures are usually just fermented grape juice. We like wine, and wine likes food.

The menu Monday evening:


Heirloom tomatoes, nestled close to a spray of purslane, both drizzled with olive oil and lightly sprinkled with fleur de sel

Crusty Puglian bread
___

Woodland Chanterelles sautéed in olive oil and garlic, on flat Italian noodles, and sprinkled with wild thyme.

Mixed peppery greens a with light Balsamic vinaigrette
___

Italian green grapes


I would like to believe that wishing makes it so, but Dick Cheney’s dis-invitation to the ceremonies marking the second anniversary of the World Trade Center disaster, as reported on NPR this morning, wasn’t my doing. The official excuse was the disruption which his security army would create for the event, but in reality the authorities in New York must have finally realized he was going to be booed – by the 9/11 families and probably most anyone else in the vicinity. That supposedly would have been a bad thing.

Instead of taking part in the main event, the appointed vice president is now scheduled to be meeting with a much smaller group of Port Authority, police and fire department people some time later in the afternoon at another location. They are obviously expected to be a friendlier audience, but were I in Cheney’s place, I wouldn’t count on it. Ashcroft didn’t take any chances when he spoke in New York yesterday. He picked commanding officers and lofty appointees for his own audience of civil servants.

So much for wishes and horses. Another dichotomy: Why is it that the officers of this administration don’t meet and talk to the people? Is it disdain or is it fear? Is it both? Barry remarked that the distance they maintain is unprecedented among modern vice presidents and cabinet secretaries. I think they don't believe that there really are any "people." I would add that the incredible character both of the origins of the administration and of its likely early demise should have suggested the pattern from the start. We are currently under a junta established by a coup, but we just might still have the ability to dump them all.


____________________


If wishes were horses,
Beggars would ride.
If turnips were watches,
I would wear one by my side.
And if 'ifs' and 'ands,'
Were pots and pans,
There'd be no work for tinkers!

[traditional nursury rhyme, via Mom]



New York patriot: and nobody's stooge


Go here for a gallery of images from today's demonstration at Federal Hall.


Years ago most of us would not have thought we’d ever find ourselves in a police barricade pen next to the Stock Exchange on Broad and Wall Streets demonstrating against U.S. fascism. But there we were this afternoon, and the real terror is that I don’t think this stuff surprises us now.

For two hours of a gorgeous late summer day in New York, a serious community of between two and three thousand people yelled, chanted and listened closely to dozens of speakers addressing them and, in absentia, the scary man who was lunching across the street.

John Ashcroft, the appointee of an appointed president, was addressing a closed-door meeting of invited high-level New York-area law enforcement officials as part of a national “tour” for his police state apparatus. The trips were designed to sell the administration’s extraordinary Justice Department agenda as it’s described in the original "Patriot" Act, in the terms of its expansive but still only proposed sequel, dubbed "Patriot" II, or in something called the "Victory" Act.

Ashcroft was speaking just a few blocks from the site of the World Trade Center, and the New York speech, delivered two days prior to the anniversary of its destruction, is supposedly the last in the series.

Not the least disturbing part of this affront to all republican and democratic decency and true patriotism was the fact that it took place in Federal Hall, the site of George Washington’s inauguration. It was on this plot that the United States Congress first met, and where it wrote and passed the Bill of Rights.

Like most everything done by this administration, everything about Ashcroft’s sales-trip visits, including the time, the location and the guest lists, are supposed to be kept secret from the American people. And yet, with only two days notice secured through irregular means, some 60 organizations were able to bring a very large and enthusiastic crowd of outraged New Yorkers to confront on their own turf this arrogant rogue government and its continuing and unprecedented attacks on civil liberties.

The reason for it was sobering enough for today’s oddly cheerful assembly, but the most chilling evidence of that necessity was the insult of so many machine-guns and attack-dogs held by so many of the armored special in our immediate vicinity, on the streets and sidewalks, on subway entrances, next to the heroic bronze of George Washinton on the steps of his place, and especially the stairs and the roof of the Memorial itself. The real terrorist was inside Federal Hall this afternoon.

Another country.

The unelected vice president, Dick Cheney, arrives here on Thursday to help us celebrate his party’s great day, and less than one year from now the big monkey himself will be accepting that gang’s nomination for a second appointment to misrule – in poor old, wounded, grieving but oh so grateful New York.

Well, serving them is not our agenda, and the Republicrats have to know that.

September 11 is nothing more than a political tool for these people, as is all of New York City itself, a place more removed from their world than any other part of the country.

We have to do something by which they will remember us elsewise – and if not fondly, well. "Well" will do very nicely.




For more images, from this morning, go here.

We returned to Astor Place just before 3 this afternoon, to help the kids as they left school – should they need it.

They didn’t, and it was both because the nuts mostly stayed away and because, as all who were there today learned, they can take care of themselves, especially if they have their community. These kids have seen a lot already, and maybe they don’t have to take it anymore.

Fred Phelps and his family have almost certainly left New York, to resume their ghoulish specialty thing of screaming at funerals of gay men all across the country. At 3 o’clock there were only three bible-thumpers in the Christianist’s police pen [one of them the hottie I described earlier].

For a while, slipping out of the police barricade, the younger two posted themselves across the street, on the sidewalk closer to the school doors. They continued their harangues there, just next to the press area. Four of us spotted them and took it upon ourselves to move there and insert ourselves and our signs in front of them and their bibles. As the kids left the building and some passed by us, our numbers eventually having swelled to 10 or so, we managed to out-shout even the ugly big one with our major cheering.

The police eventually persuaded the two to return to their original pigpen, where all three soon found themselves confronted by the kids themselves. Some were shouting from the south side, but many had crossed the street to investigate their antagonists and to confront them in arguments. Whether they learned anything or not, I think the cult guys were shocked. The shaved-head guy left early with his friend, but nothing seemed to discourage the last one, least of all his own stupidity.

I was stunned by the students’ style and, well, their surprisingly gentle humor and good will. The short photo series above is pretty decent witness.

Yes, the kids will be alright.

For more about this afternoon on Astor Place see Bloggy.


Reza in North Carolina, in the rain

Reza is in Newark today, and will be crossing the George Washington Bridge Thursday morning before running down the island to the World Trade Center site - where he has been told he is not welcome. I suspect that, like all decent people, he wouldn't want to be around Dick Cheney anyway. Still, it seems a real shame.

This is from the email I received from Dave Hyslop, who is travelling with Reza:

On Thursday, Sep. 11th we will begin on the Jersey side of the bridge at 8:00 am. Anyone wishing to join Reza (the more the merrier) need only show up.

We'd like to cross the bridge and head down Broadway all the way to Ground Zero. Some have suggested the mix-use trail that runs along the Hudson River (I'd be open to anyone's comments on that plan).

Access permitting Reza would like to get as close to the Ground Zero site as possible. We had requested from Mayor Bloomberg's office that Reza be allowed to run into the ceremony, present a bouquet of flowers, pay his respects and then run out but were told that while Reza's efforts were certainly commendable, surely we could see that this wouldn't be appropriate at a ceremony like this.).

How many Middle Eastern people died that day?

Reza will have a private momemnt at Ground Zero and then run to Battery Park where there will be a reception at 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM (one hour) in the "Verrazzano Basque" section of the park. I'm told this is located between the "Castle Clinton Monument" and "East Coast Memorial."

Reza has been accompanied by an orphaned, affectionate black dog since Arkansas. "Rocky" will be running with him. For more, see this website.


the crowd on Astor Place, entertained by Phelps christianists

For more images, go here.

Barry and I joined hundreds of others outside Harvey Milk High School this morning to cheer students entering the building for the first day of classes.

Across the street was the Fred Phelps family circus of Christianist nuts. The police seem to have understood the difference, and this time their sympathies worked for the good guys. Supporters were assigned the sidewalk in front of the school on Astor Place. The anti's had to be content with, appropriately, the gutter on the north side, and their screaming was continuously assaulted by the roar of a huge garbage/trash truck adjacent. Who had arranged that intervention?

Their posters alone alienated the cops, as did the sight of several of them standing on or dragging the flag through the dirt, but it was when they pulled out the "THANK GOD FOR SEPT 11" sign, that the police barricade we were standing behind was immediately moved well into the street to give our crowd more comfort, and additional public visibility in the process.

The kids themselves are alright, and we'll be back this afternoon before 3, to see them safely out.

Bloggy has more, including images. Don't miss "GOD'S ROD".

ps

A confession is in order at this time. If you go to my link for more images, the last picture will show what I would say is one pretty hot young bible thumper. Our friend Jon yelled across the street, asking him if he lived in New York. Surprisingly there was an answer, and it was "yes." Jon followed, "You should get out more. It's fun."

You never know. There are all kinds of callings and conversions.

And this afternoon, in a Reuters photo on the MNSBC site:

B's striped blue polo obscures J's white shirt - our loopy "YOU'RE OUR ROLE MODELS" sign rises above all. Let's hope the student queers will be better at signs, but let's hope they won't need this kind.

It's all laid out here, in a compact piece from the Toronto Star, via Common Dreams, by the paper's own Haroon Siddiqui.


Danica Phelps

We stopped by the LFL opening on Friday, but could only stay briefly, in spite of my heads-up broadcasted earlier in the week. We had to be in Brooklyn at about the same time, but we'll be back. I recommend that anyone thinking of visiting Danica Phelps's grand and intimate installation set aside more than a few minutes, even if you don't intend to talk to the live-in artist - just what Kiki Smith was doing at the opening reception. The drawings, the texts and the concept are much more than a seductive conceit, but there's that too.


Saturday afternoon, on the first weekend of the fall season, we walked about western Chelsea without assignment, deciding to take advantage of the fact that virtually any gallery show in the neighborhood would be there for weeks. Ah, like the first day of school, but with the difference that there would be absolutely no pressure.

We started with Galerie Lelong's show of new, literate sculpture by Donald Lipski, called "Non-Fiction." Beautiful installation, magnificent shapes and textures. More.

James Welling still throws out magnificent studies and manipulations of found light. His photographs at Gorney Bravin Lee [site unfortunately not updated yet] are never just pictures. Every one is a challenge, and not just for "Where's Waldo?" enthusists, since the rewards are aesthetic and intellectual. A wall is not a wall.

But then we crossed the street and walked into the James Cohan Gallery not knowing what we would find there, and the day was transformed. Some time later we walked out of this beautiful, serene show, "A Simple Plan," with our feet inches above the pavement. Wonderful, literally. Favorites include: John Cage, Tom Friedman, Adam Fuss, Hans Haacke, Paul Pfeiffer, Gerhard Richter, Karin Sander and Hiroshi Sugimoto.

Philip-Lorca diCorcia unfolds a beautiful poem at PaceWildenstein. Scores of small prints of images taken over 25 years compose a sorta fictional and sorta autobiographical non-narrative. Every light imaginable, some barely, recorded. Lyle Ashton Harris, who just opened an important show himself [still on our list of must see's!] at CRG Gallery, was looking at every one.

Marilyn Minter has a dynamite, jewelbox show at Fredericks Freiser, with with richly-figured photographs and paintings. The paintings are enamel applied with her fingers on metal, a technique which mimics her subject. "Her paintings . . . deal with the pathology of glamour" reads a description on one online site.

Tim Davis was enjoying the opening of his second show at Brent Sikkema Saturday. We liked his series, "retail," in 2001, with its images of commercial signage morphing over the American landscape. The new work also succeeds in turning light into a dimensional object, while it examines how we physically approach iconic art imagery, questioning a relationship many of us take for granted. Very cool, and incidently very generous to some wonderful images.

Andrew Kreps was hosting a closing party for a totally delightful and smart show curated by his own artists and staff and including only selections from their own collections, er . . . stuff. Seen about: Eli Sudbrack, Lillian Ball and David Reed. Loved Ricci Albenda's parakeet.

Anton Kern was showing Ellen Berkinbilt. We both loved the smaller images, especially those boasting darker pallets, but couldn't register the larger, metal screen "canvases." Arto Lindsay and David [looking good!] Byrne seemed very pleased to be there, or at least they found plenty to talk to each other about.

Crossing the street as dusk fell, we ran into Emily Noelle Lambert and a friend of hers, locking their bikes after a trip across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Before heading for the, literally, heavenly roof above I-20 Gallery at the top of the building, we wound up the day in Paul Rodgers/9W, where Orly Cogan had installed herself and two other artists. in a show which sometimes looks like the product of a loose collective. We've both really liked Orly's work for some time, most of it embroidered and painted images of a very, very sexy Eden on found fabrics whose faded decorations collaborate with her art. Mixing with the crowd: Ike Ude, Jonathan Feldschuh and Andres Serrano.

From the roof:


ttowers


PS, in the absence of material on the gallery site, I couldn't resist copying this older image of Orly's:


Orly Cogan, Garden of Earthly Delights, (detail), 2000 Fabric

[images of Phelps and Cogan from LFL Gallery]


Yea! I was just about to write to Reza's travelling companion/friend David Hyslop, wondering why we haven't heard a thing about his run since July, when I found this story on the Newsday site. I assume it will be in tomorrow morning's (Sunday) ediion.

He's gone through 12 pairs of sneakers and run about 3,700 miles, all in the name of peace. He has been undeterred by rough terrain, or by immigration officials who detained him. And now, Reza Baluchi plans to finish his journey in New York City on thursday, the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Reza is somewhere in New Jersey right now, but he should be at the World Trade Center site in five days. Now there's a real alternative to a deadly Dick Cheney star turn or "9/11 families" demonstrating about tombstones rather than inquiries.

More details as I receive them.


local color, now in New York

I've never been drawn to demonstrations with a "battle of the bands" scenario, but sometimes the people who need help need help on the scene, because the really bad guys will be there threatening them.

This seems certain to be the case this Monday for the students of the Harvey Milk School on Astor Place. Regardless of the complexities of arguments over what the city is doing about homophobia, vulnerable kids don't need the aggravation and hate with which they are being threatened on their first day of school.

Fred Phelps and his sick entourage will be protesting the fall opening of the school early Monday morning. The people organizing the protest are the same ones who protested at Matthew Shepard's funeral. Fortunately, their website is down, although that means I miss out on linking to it here in order to give just a hint of the malevolence of this cult. [Our fabulous friend Elizabeth, who first alerted me to their plans, absolutely denies credit for the hackwork.]

Supporters are encouraged to be at the school at 7:30 am on Monday, September 8 (first class is at 8:00 a.m.) and 3:00 pm (end of school day), with happy signs and encouragement. The Harvey Milk School is located at Two Astor Place at the corner of Astor and Broadway (take the 6 train to Astor Place or the N or R to 8th Street and Broadway).

Please consider helping to welcome these young people to school. The idea is to bring signs conveying the importance of education and safety for all of our children.

This thing is media candy, especially since we have our own cache of notorious homophobes here in New York, including Ruben Diaz. Be ready for your close-ups, and your fabulous sound bites.


[image from Dr. Truluck]



I wrote late last night about Ashcroft's marketing visit to New York next week, and I titled the post, "talk to Ashcroft Tuesday." While I was at it, I might also have mentioned that although he has declined to grace us with the Chief Monkey's presence at "ground zero" on Thursday, Dick Cheney himself will be coming instead.

At this point across the breakfast table the Barry reminds me that it was Cheney's Halliburton which, right up to Cheney's appointment as vice president, did big business with Saddam Hussein, who of course was responsible for 9/11, according to Cheney. Sublime.

[The Fort Wayne paper begins its news story on Bush's no-show with, "Wait till next year," reminding us that in 2004 Bush "will accept his party's nomination for reelection at the GOP convention in New York City nine days before the third anniversary." Later the article frankly discusses the virtual certainty that Bush would now have gotten booed in New York. Wait till next year.]

Were I not sufficiently awed and affrighted by the terms of their "Patriot Act," I would have written not about talking to Ashcroft, and now Cheney two days later, but rather about driving them both out of our city and back to their war bunkers, which should then be sealed forever.

But I didn't say that. Nope.


[image from The Upsidedown Culture Collective]


untitled

You are not busy this Tuesday at noon - not until now.

This just in, from people who keep their eyes on the Constitution and on those who would destroy it:

On Tuesday, September 9, Attorney General Ashcroft will visit New York City to attend a closed meeting with law enforcement officials to build support for the USA Patriot Act and impending Patriot II legislation. Hundreds [no, make it more!] of New Yorkers will meet his arrival and gather together to tell John Ashcroft to stop his attack on the Bill of Rights and to affirm and uphold our rights and liberties.

Join United for Peace and Justice, the New York Bill of Rights Defense Campaign and a coalition of dozens of civil liberties, immigrants' rights, peace and justice organizations, and political leaders on Tuesday, September 9, at 12 noon on Wall Street and Broad Street, for a rally for the Bill of Rights.

Today the government can get a secret warrant to search your home without telling you until later.

Today the government can monitor your Internet use, read your emails, and examine your online purchases.

Today you can be detained without access to a lawyer, without being charged with a crime.

Today the FBI is authorized to monitor your political and religious activities.

We can only guess what tomorrow will bring.

The United States is at risk of turning into a full-fledged surveillance society. The fact is, Orwell's vision of "Big Brother" is now, for the first time, technologically possible.


[image courtesy NPR]


coming soon to a neighborhood near you


Why is it ok to open in Chelsea what was condemned in the Village?

So-called "big box stores" are coming to Manhattan, and the biggest will be on 23rd Street.

Home Depot is planning to open a store next summer on 23rd Street, on the busy block just west of 5th Avenue. The firm will open another store in the former Alexanders building next to Bloomingdales, without any doubt one of the most hopelessly-congested neighborhoods in the city.

Three years ago the Village angrily rejected the plans of another big box retailer, Costco, to open a store on Pier 40.

So, have the floodgates now been opened for the "category-killer" suburbanization of Manhattan? It's already in process, as bloggy points out, but even the folks at Primedia's "Retail Traffic" site [until May 2003, known as "Shopping Center World"], recognize the significance of the assaults planned for 23rd Street and Lexington Avenue next year.

Will the arrival of Home Depot mean that other big boxers such as Target will come to Manhattan, too? The barriers to entry still exist, including a shortage of appropriate spaces, logistics problems and high costs — not to mention the intense NIMBYism of Manhattan residents.

. . . .

The biggest obstacle remains community opposition. Small business owners fear the impact of the category killers, and some residents object to the traffic and noise that the high-volume stores would generate. In addition to nixing Costco and holding up the Pier 40 project, New Yorkers have also opposed plans by the city to create big-box districts in derelict manufacturing buildings.

. . . .

Meanwhile, Target is circling Manhattan, looking for a site — literally. Last fall, the trendy discounter hired a barge off Manhattan's Chelsea Piers for a special Christmas shop.

It's not just about traffic of course, and it's not just about aesthetics, although neither issue is unimportant to New Yorkers. As barry protested this evening, he didn't flee middle America for New York in order to be pursued by the conformity that drove him out in the first place.

Hey, this is New York. In fact, damn it, this is Manhattan. Where's that "community opposition" obstacle?

Over 3000 people are killed in one day in a vicious terrorist attack on our own shores, frightening most of the rest of the country absolutely out of their wits, and directing them toward an enthusiasm for domestic and foreign violence remarkable even by their own unhappy standards, both consequences from which the country has not recovered to this day.

In one of its first responses to the events, the White House immediately arranges for seven score foreign residents, VIPs from just one nation, to flee the country on special flights, this well before the Oval Office had allowed flight restrictions to be lifted for the general public, and before much was known (publicly) about those who had planned them.

We already knew about the flight(s) of the 140 Saudis and their families. The real news today is a report about the direct involvement of the White House. What’s still not part of the news is why it was done, and why those people in particular were spirited out of the country in secret.

Richard Clarke, who ran the White House crisis team after the attacks, but has since left the administration, said today, “The White House feared that the Saudis could face ‘retribution’ for the hijackings if they remained in the United States.”

The NYTimes article, which only appears on page A19 of today's edition, does not explain why or even point out that in the days immediately after the attacks, the White House was apparently only concerned for the safety of certain wealthy Saudi citizens, even to the exclusion of all other nationals, regardless of their origin. Of course this was happening while the same Bush team was busy rounding up people from every Middle Eastern or Central and South Asian country but Israel. None of these people were given plane tickets that week.

Interesting that – and on both counts. I’m referring to the White House’s interesting decision two years ago and the Times decision to focus their report today so narrowly.

The story appears in an article in Vanity Fair out today. I haven't seen it yet, but perhaps there’s more in that notorious, lefty political style mag than the oh-so-responsible Times found fit to print. In any event, I think the fallout from this story has only begun.

If anyone was thinking of going to the A.R.T. Benefit, and have not stopped by the gallery yet, I'd suggest getting there as soon as you can, that is, any time today. The works are already being sold, but there's plenty of art left.

Prices range/d from $10 to $250, including some of their iris prints, although the most valuable are also available, and their prices top at $1250 - on works generally worth several times that.

The idea is to raise money which is absolutely needed by the institution, as well as to benefit young collectors and broadcast the artists at the same time. I suspect nothing will remain after this evening, so it may be an especially interesting scene after 7.

We've already parted with some money ourselves, and we now learn so have some of our friends. Yea for all of us!



Illustration by David Olére, a Sonderkommando who survived nearly two years at Auschwitz


Anybody feel funny about this announcement?

The Israeli Embassy in Warsaw said three Israeli jets piloted by descendants of Holocaust survivors would fly over the former [Auschwitz death] camp at noon on Thursday. They were to be joined by two Polish MIG-29 jets.
Well, the authorities of the museum there do.
"It's a cemetery, a place of silence and concentration," a museum spokesman, Jaroslaw Mensfelt, said. He called the planned flyover "a demonstration of military might which is an entirely inappropriate way to commemorate the victims."


[image from The Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies]

It's too delicious. Today there's more from Daily Kos on the embarassment of what passes for the American government. He's done his homework, citing the reaction of several sources around the world to the administration's call this week for other nations to contribute money and blood to its own disaster in Iraq.

First, here's part of his own excerpt from a Guardian guest piece by Richard Perle which appeared the day after the "war" began:

Saddam Hussein's reign of terror is about to end. He will go quickly, but not alone: in a parting irony, he will take the UN down with him. Well, not the whole UN. The "good works" part will survive, the low-risk peacekeeping bureaucracies will remain, the chatterbox on the Hudson will continue to bleat. What will die is the fantasy of the UN as the foundation of a new world order. As we sift the debris, it will be important to preserve, the better to understand, the intellectual wreckage of the liberal conceit of safety through international law administered by international institutions [...]
Salon, snappier than some media sites, contributes these lines, among many more:
In other words, the rest of the world is to send its troops to get killed so that a U.S. president it fears and despises can take the credit for an invasion it bitterly opposed.

The rest of the world may be crazy, but it ain't stupid.

But much of the world, including many in this country, while welcoming the comeuppance of the Bushites, has no wish to see Iraq suffer. We will have to hold our own evil-doers responsible, through our voices, our feet, the media, our votes, and definitely through impeachment and trial.

But there is no agreement about an alternative to the current U.S. involvement in Iraq, and in fact I haven't seen any real alternatives proposed. Like so much else wrought in domestic and foreign policy by this stolen White House, the move was so unprecedented, the violence done was so great, resolution cannot be accomplished simply through interdiction.

We may never recover ourselves. How can we expect Iraq to do so?

but Halliburton is still in charge."

Daily Kos gets it right - as usual. [We should all be reading him regularly.] The entire post:

US tells UN to screw off, but give us money and troops first

I can't be too surprised about this, but it's still shocking:

The United States went to the United Nations Wednesday to seek help with troops and money for Iraq, but said it would not give up command of military operations or its dominant role in the country.
Translation: Give us your money and blood, but Halliburton is still in charge.

Germany is unlikely to be swayed, as they want the UN to take control of the operations. And France wants a hard deadline for ending the occupation (which to be honest is a silly requirement). Russia seems to be sitting back enjoying the castration of the mighty US military.

We suddenly don't look so tough anymore, huh?

Don't do it UN'uns!

Danica Phelps is a new woman. The provocative young artist has found love, and it has re-created her art. Holland Cotter wrote in 2002 that she had "turned accounting into an art form." This week she will be showing how she has re-adjusted her accounting.

Fabulous Zach Feuer's sassy LFL Gallery opens its Fall season with a show of her art and her, . . . um, living environment, titled "Integrating Sex into Everyday Life".

It's actually her coming-out party as well, so the opening reception Friday should be a hoot. An excerpt from her invitation:

I was always a wanna-be lesbian. At Hampshire College, even with half my friends being lesbians, I didn't think I qualified, you know? I realize now, that wishing you could be a lesbian is not like wishing you could be tall which you literally can't change. Sometimes the changes are pretty involved (I'm so glad I didn't have kids), but WOW, it's worth it to be able to love a woman.

This has, of course, all manifested itself in my rather diary like drawings. A friend of mine once asked me why there wasn't any sex in my work, and I said, "Well, there isn't much sex in my life....". Now there is. I'm having a show in September called "Integrating Sex into Everyday Life" because that's what it's felt like this past year for me.

So please come by and see the show and say hi and let's catch up. I'll be living in the gallery for the month and I'll be there almost everyday, so you'll be pretty sure to catch me.

Danica

The exhibition will run from September 5th to October 4th, 2003. The opening will be on Friday, September 5th, from 6 to 8 PM. The gallery is located at 530 West 24th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues.


untitled (suds) 2003


[with due respect to bloggy]




Meighan Gale, untitled, 2002, stitching on silver gelatin print, 8x10, in the A.R.T. Benefit sale September 4


I sent an email announcement a few days ago to parsiminous or impoverished friends and acquaintances with fabulous taste and who I thought would be interested in acquiring good art cheap while benefiting a wonderful non-profit institution.

I realize that my friends and acquaintances may not be the only ones answering that description, so I'm now casting the information on a much broader scale.

Art Resources Transfer is having a benefit art sale, and it's of that wonderful sort called, "affordable." Be you a collector? Be a collector now.

I understand there are well over a hundred works available, including many of A.R.T.'s own magnificent iris prints. Most of the art is already displayed on the walls and counters of the gallery space on 11th Avenue between 24th and 25th Streets.

I can try to answer any questions you might have about the benefit or the programs of A.R.T., especially since Barry and I know many of the artists who have donated work, and I'm a member of the Board. Alternatively, you can call the number indicated in the A.R.T. announcement below.

END OF THE SUMMER BENEFIT

Art Resources Transfer, Inc. aka A.R.T. Press, founded in 1987, is a non-profit organization committed to documenting and supporting artists' voices and work, and to make these voices accessible to the public beyond conventional art spaces and outlets by establishing innovative methods of distribution and access.

After 360 exhibitions in 7 years, Art Resources Transfer, has decided to suspend its exhibition program Dec. 31, 2003, in order to better direct its energies to the many highly-respected publishing projects and it's hugely succesful Distribution to Underserved Communities Program, (DUC).

To celebrate this and facilitate the transition to a smaller space, A.R.T. is having an END OF THE SUMMER BENEFIT.

Thursday, September 4, from 7 to 9 pm

Over 100 artists have contributed works in all mediums. The pieces, which are valued between $250 and $750, will be on sale for $100 to $250.

The artwork will be on view at the gallery from today, September 2, until the beginning of the sale on Thursday.

The address is 210 11th Avenue, between 24th and 25th Streets, suite 403.

For information, call 212-691-5956


Kalandia crossing

"I have been thinking a lot about the separation, the general ignorance between average Palestinians and Israelis, and while the gap is indeed large, the ignorance is a choice that functions as an excuse to do less. This is also one of the reasons so many Israelis support the wall/fence, not for security reasons, but just because it will allow them not to have to deal with the Palestinians; while they hardly see them now, you can't see through walls."

Before ending her working and activist summer in the Middle East, Ellen writes another report.

Hi friends,

I finished filming with my cameraman, Chris Romeike, yesterday and I will just follow-up this week with a few bits and pieces. It was very intensive, lots of interviews, lots of locations, lots of travel. Chris was great to work with though, very helpful and really into the surroundings and soaking-it-all-up. I am exhausted at this point, looking forward to returning home for a bit and putting all the pieces together again, mentally and otherwise.

Yesterday Chris and I were at the Kalandia crossing near Ramallah and it seems the soldiers were particularly nasty and brutal. They were harassing some woman and her 15 year old son as he did not have the proper permit to cross the checkpoint, Chris and I went to see what was happening and as we came with the camera, they left them and swarmed around us, yelling “no camera, no filming.” I told Chris to keep rolling as we worked-out whether or not they had the right to tell us not to film. I argued (of course!) and they were pretty unfriendly. One young soldier told me he could arrest me, bring me in for questioning blah, blah. I have learned from Ezra, not to let them intimidate. They talk a lot of bullshit, without a lot of authority behind them. Of course this is how they function daily to the Palestinians, but without any monitoring, they run lawlessly to some degree. They make threats, they invent rules and then they do as they please to the population. It is actually amazing to watch democratic principles be thrown out the window at will.

I have been witnessing a great deal of this occurring within both Israel and Palestine of late. The use of the excuse “the situation” and “for security” seems to supersede all, and not just at the high court levels where decisions are made daily in relation to “security concerns” overriding civil rights, but in the street, in these meetings with soldiers or anyone wearing a security badge. I was working on an interview, following one of my subjects to her workplace, and it so happens that as we were filming her walking, we passed the back of the American Embassy, to get where we were going. An Israeli security guard comes racing over demanding our ID's, practically our tape, what we are doing etc. I just said, “what are you talking about? This has nothing to do with you, or the embassy. And, if the embassy has a problem with anyone with cameras in the vicinity, it should have a sign saying no filming, not that we were filming anything related to you anyway” This seemed to be of no consequence to this guy who continued to demand out ID's. Chris and I handed him our Canadian passports and he turned and said “I'll be back in a few minutes.” I said “No way, you're not going anywhere with my passport and I don't have time for your issues.” I told him to give me the passports back right away, he looked at them, hesitated and handed them back, after a five second “check.” But if I wasn't aggressive, who knows how long we would have waited. We were talking about it afterwards in relation to the US's Homeland Security regulations overriding civil rights as well. I suppose what feels significant is how one experiences these things here daily, it is quite blatant and the Middle East's “only democracy” is quite far from that in so many ways.

We traveled a lot with Ezra, to Hebron area again this week and the closures of Palestinian roads connecting villages to towns are endless. A farmer can't get to his field, and certainly not with a tractor, people can't get to medical centres, crossing the Jewish road results in fines and punishments. I saw all these people running across the road, one after the other, as if they were running from someone chasing them, lots of people. I asked Ezra what he thought was going on? He told me that they were simply running as they were not allowed to be crossing the road. Can you picture it? Working people of all ages, running across a highway, fleeing. They are indeed being “chased.”

And for a drastic contrast, Chris and I went from there to Tel Aviv (about an hour and a half drive). We had dinner at a Nouvelle Cuisine Yuppie restaurant and then off to a gay bar for some filming. What a contrast from sitting in a tent in the Hebron hills with a family that could barely afford to feed itself and are not allowed to graze there sheep in most of their old grazing lands as they are surrounded by hostile settlers and are cut off by the roads they are not allowed to cross. The shepherds seem to be walking in circles. These people shared their food with us, as we walked around looking at the destroyed caves that they used to live in. The army had come and blown the caves to bits because they represent a permanent residence, yes, a cave, and they are not allowed to “build” there. They tried to put some rudimentary housing together after that, but those have been destroyed too, permanent structures you see. They have been allowed to reside in tents although this has been a problem for them as in the winter it is too cold, unsheltered, and the snow leaks into the tents. The meal they prepared for us was much better than the one in Tel Aviv, honestly.

I won't bore you with the details of the gay bar, it looked like every gay bar in the Western world; lots of tank tops, lots of cruising etc. I met one young guy who was happy to talk to the camera as Chris behind it seemed to be of interest to him. He was a soldier he told me, and “Israelis just wanted peace and love, and that they would love the Arabs if only they could know which ones are good and which ones are not, so many are terrorists, so we cannot have peace.” Luckily, I met some more engaging guys across from him who were lawyers it turns out. We talked about gay marriage in Canada for a bit but the conversation of course turned to Israel Palestine. One stayed on to talk, the other left for another gay bar. The one who stayed was telling me that he was currently trying to get out of his upcoming reserve duty which was to be at an army prison (for Palestinians), in the North. He told me how horrible it is, how the reserve soldiers, as they tend to be nicer and more civilized, are forbidden to engage at all with the prisoners. He is to be kept in a guard tower. Tel Avivians may try to stay far mentally from the Occupation but it seems you can't really run too far in the end.

I have been thinking a lot about the separation, the general ignorance between average Palestinians and Israelis, and while the gap is indeed large, the ignorance is a choice that functions as an excuse to do less. This is also one of the reasons so many Israelis support the wall/fence, not for security reasons, but just because it will allow them not to have to deal with the Palestinians; while they hardly see them now, you can't see through walls.

Well, that's this week's update and my last. I should be home by Sept 8th. I suppose this means summer is officially over, I feel relieved this time.

Peace to you all,
love,
Ellen


[image from BBC news]

Steve, who returned last week from a summer in Palestine, will be speaking on Wednesday at 7 o'clock in Bluestockings Bookstore in the East Village.

It sounds like he will be with other activists from Jews Against the Occupation (JAtO), to report on the present situation in Palestine and their work with the International Solidarity Movement.

Bluestockings Books is a wonderful, spunky little independent bookstore on the east side of Allen Street, between Stanton and Rivington, just one and a half blocks south of Houston Street.

For those outside of New York who have been following his reports, or for anyone interested in the issues who would like to arrange a forum in their own community, Steve writes that he is more than anxious to speak, show slides and to provide other speakers as well.

"I'll speak at your church, synagogue, or mosque, in your living room, at your yoga center, or wherever you can gather a few people together.

If you're outside the New York area and would like ISMers [members of the International Solidarity Movement] to come speak, let me know. There may be folks in your area, or a speaking tour coming through."

You can contact him through JAtO: jatonyc@yahoo.com, voicemail (212) 539-6683, or by sending an email to me.

Bluestocking's phone number is 212-777-6028.

and so would John Irving, I expect.

Socrates Sculpture Park was very quiet yesterday, but there were compensations.



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