General: June 2004 Archives

Grand Central Station

waiting for the Lex express

on board, somewhere above Union Square, er . . . actually, below

transferring to the L

I saw the message captioned, "Photographer's Rights Protest," and I told myself, "I'm in!"

The issue is the New York MTA's recently-announced proposal that photography be banned throughout the system. Of course it would be for our protection, from camera-hefting researcher/terrorists. I was attracted to the issue (how could its lack of merit even be arguable?), but the fact that a demonstration was announced through the internet, the modest panache of its text appeal, and finally my own recent experience with MTA security incompetence, and its photographic documentation, made it a must.

An excerpt from the organizers' webpage:

This will be a peaceful demonstration against the MTA's proposed Photography Ban, conducted in the spirit of Rosa Parks. We will simply ride through Manhattan with our cameras, taking as many photographs as we please, of whatever we please. This is a completely legal protest, as photography within the subway system has not yet been banned (even though the police seem to have been told otherwise).

Participants were asked to bring cameras and, if they wished, "a witty sign." I have to admit that while I had good intentions, I didn't manage to fabricate the cool sandwich-board I had created in my head; I went shamefully textless. So did all but one of the hundred or so people who gathered in the central hall of Grand Central Station early this afternoon. That singular body sign, "the end is nigh," was suitably wry but undoubtedly arcane for all passers- and sitters-by.

But maybe in this action it really was appropriate to just take pictures, especially if the press was already interested, as it seemed this afternoon it was.

The weirdest thing for someone who's been in perhaps hundreds of other zaps and demonstrations was to be in the midst of all these people taking pictures of each other. Right now there must be thousands of shots out there somewhere showing people snapping people snapping people snapping people, and perhaps beyond.

Not incidently, our progress through the system today must represented the safest time and place in the history of the MTA - at least as far as any threat originating with camera-wielding terrorists is concerned. Don't leave those cameras home, good folks; it's for your own security.

For some early-posted, great images go to the dart board]

In the end, I broke down and made this crummy impromptu sign on the site, hoping it might raise us above the "flashmob"-type thing.

[bottom image from Forgotten NY]

The NYTimes begins its obituary of Ronald Reagan today with a three-column headline on the front page and it continues inside for a total of four more full-page sheets uninterrrupted by advertising. The size of this death notice may be unprecedented, but the most newsworthy item is what's missing.

The words AIDS or HIV do not appear once.

This is beyond politics; it's criminal neglect, if not part of a deliberate agenda, from the newspaper which was itself so guilty in ignoring or mishandling accounts of the plague during the Reagan years. Now that same newspaper would have us regard as serious journalism its account of the life of our second-most-disastrous president, the man whose administration, in surviving its general malfeasance and treasons, marked the final disintegration of American democracy.

We won't buy it.

Donald Moffett He Kills Me (installation detail), 1987

He's dead, but as the encomiums pile up he's not going to look dead enough.

Reagan virtually spat on people with AIDS throughout his presidency. The epidemic began under his watch, and he ensured that it would ultimately kill millions. For that responsibility alone, he didn't deserve the relief alzheimers must have brought to his memory.

Ah, wait, Barry just turned on Sylvester's "You Make Me Feel Mighty Real." The magical musical legend Sylvester died of AIDS in 1988, so that ecstatic, triumphant shout of delight seems very real around here today. We're dancing on his grave tonight. Maybe me especially. I'm still talking, and now that monster/fool is not. I'm one of the lucky ones. I've been HIV+ for decades, and I'm not leaving yet.

Oh yes, and my memory's just fine.

[image from Richard F. Brush Gallery, St. Lawrence University]

This page is an archive of entries in the General category from June 2004.

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