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ADDENDUM: May Day 2012 actions specific to, or related to, OWS Arts & Labor initiatives

It's in the nature of these events that not everything planned around them can, or should, be known in advance, but the OccupyWallStreet site has extensive information on both 'permitted' and 'unpermitted' actions anticipated in New York City this Tuesday, May Day 2012.

It also includes a link to known actions in some 125 cities around the country.

I don't have a link for actions outside the U.S., but there is this link to an interactive map showing 1400 Occupations across the globe.

All of this of course is just for starters. Expect a very interesting day. The 1% is on the run.

[I can't credit the origin of the flier I photographed and uploaded here, except to describe it as the most minimal - and commanding - of several available in one of the cooler galleries participating in the very cool Dependent Art Fair two months ago]

the Karsan V1, with just about everything going for it, really would be the 'Taxi of Tomorrow'

Although the very modern, beautifully-designed, extraordinarily-roomy and fully-accessible Karsan V1 was hailed by New Yorkers (65.5 percent of those polled) as their favorite "Taxi of Tomorrow", the city ended up choosing the least popular entry, the hideous Nissan NV 200, to which Motor Trend's Frank Morris referred, somewhat generously, as "a dorky looking van that's being converted to taxi duty".

New York City initiated the competition in 2007 to find a replacement for the unmourned, unlovely, and antediluvian Ford Crown Victoria. Its Dearborn manufacturer had announced that it would discontinue the vehicle by 2012; otherwise, it's likely we would still be enduring its discomforts and its aesthetic and environmental assaults decades from now, even though it was based on an automobile platform first introduced in 1978.

As it had with the proposals it sought and received for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site, the city ended up ignoring the results of its own vaunted "Taxi of Tomorrow" contest: In the end it settled on the one design most people didn't like; it was also the design which least satisfied the requirements of the commission.

While the Nissan was certainly the most conservative response to an important challenge, in the end it will prove to have been the most impractical choice, and therefore the most radical, given the parameters of the search: Of the three finalists it responds the least well to current taxi needs, and its environmental and accessibility inadequacies, among others, will look be even more grotesque as time goes by. In picking the barely-adequate, ungainly and unlovely Nissan "they" struck out once more, embarrassing New Yorkers who actually care about the city's ability to get things right (both better than and before others do, if possible). And then there are the aesthetics: The brutal, armored-truck lines of the obscene American SUV fetish object seems to have inured even certain New Yorkers to the gross plug-ugliness of this vehicle.

For what it's worth (and in a supposedly post-industrial and post-Wall Street world i think it's worth a lot) the Karsan is the only vehicle of the three finalists which would have been manufactured in the U.S. To be specific, it would have been assembled in the home country, Brooklyn (Sunset Park).

In an article today, the New York Times doesn't seem quite persuaded by Nissan or the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission that a hired French designer can tart it up enough with a special horn, speckled flooring, and altered paint color to get us to think of the bulky Nissan NV 200 as their promised "Taxi of Tomorrow". I don't believe New Yorkers, or at least those paying attention, will buy it, but then I think of those junky Crown Victorias and, more recently, the cramped hybrid sedans, and ridiculous climb-up SUVs we're dealing with now.

I'll leave the French Designer with the last word, pulled from the Times piece, where it is the last word:

"New Yorkers are so used to their cab rides," [Francois Farion of Nissan] said, "that they sometimes forget how it could be better."

the Karsan: roll up your chair, bike, stroller, or hand truck from a built-in ramp on either side

The Ford Europe's Transit Connect is a very decent "Taxi of Today" and some are NYC rides now*

The dumpy, malformed Nissan NV 200, introduced in 2007, is barely even the "Taxi of Yesterday"

the one seen here sighted at Madison Square last October

[first and second images Motoring Dreams; third image blogger's own; fourth image fyidriving]

from the Arizona side of the 21-feet-high wall on the Mexico-U.S. border

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.

[the first lines of Robert Frost's "Mending Wall" from 1915]

That something is apparently not us: The message of this wall is abominable, and yet we concur with it in our affirmation or merely our daily silence.

The image is from an illustrated article in today's New York TImes, "At the Border, on the Night Watch", describing our iniquitous operations "securing" our southern perimeter from the people we conquered to obtain it.

[image by Joshua Lott for The New York Times]


It may not be New York's first crocus of spring, but it's something of an event here. On the very first day of March I looked at the plant pots outside our north-facing breakfast room window and was surprised to see several yellow buds had already appeared from within the tight bunches of grass-like leaves I'd been watching for weeks as they pushed above the surface of the soil.

We never have even a sliver of direct sunlight show up on our roof terrace, even around the summer solstice, but last year I had read that flowering bulbs have stored the sun within their corms, and so can be expected to flower the spring after they are planted even if they fail to see it, or feel it, as the days become longer and the soil begins to warm.

Right now however it looks to me that they actually do miss our great golden star: I'm sure I planted white and purple examples as well as gold last fall, and not one of those has shown up yet; also, the dozen or so flowers that have appeared are certainly scrawnier than those seen in better environments, but after this (or surely any) winter, they are certainly welcome, however imperfect.






Continuing their "Action Against Illegal Energy Waste", members of Code Pink returned today to some of the Fifth Avenue stores they had visited July 23rd, once again acting as a part of the international mutual aid movement, "NYC Oil Addicts Anonymous".

This is an excerpt from the text of an email sent out this week by Code Pink:

Two years ago, the New York City Council passed a very reasonable law prohibiting large stores from cranking their air conditioning and leaving their doors open. But they still do it - one retailer was quoted in the New York Times as saying, "It's business; sometimes you got to do what you got to do." As consumers, we have to show these businesses that we're disgusted, not enticed.

Leaving the doors open cranks their electricity use by 25% during peak hours, overloading the power grid, making blackouts more likely, and increasing the oil and nuclear demand in New York. It makes as much sense as leaving gas pumps flowing onto the sidewalk when you're not using them. And as conscious women working for peace and justice we see the direct links between resource wasting, addiction to oil, wars for oil and on and on!

I joined the group on the door-shopping trip up Fifth Avenue which began at noon today, gamely juggling two protest signs, my not-so-lightweight camera, and several sturdy bags I was going to need later at the Union Square Greenmarket.

There was no shortage of targets from the very start, but most of the stores closed their doors very soon after our banner and signs appeared outside, and the chants began. When we got to the Gant Store however we encountered more than a little resistance: Not only did the manager refuse to close the two large doors (through which, incidentally, I could feel the store's cold air as I stood behind the banner about 20 feet across from the opening, its fabric coming down only to my knees), but she called the police, who arrived with remarkable alacrity.

I wasn't a part of the conversation which our excellent guides, Sally Newman and Dana Balicki, had with the two or three officers, but it was clear they wanted us to leave, and they definitely refused to do anything about the open doors. In all fairness to them, the cops may have been aware that our City Council had passed a statute (two years ago) whose enforcement responsibilities were placed in the hands of the understaffed Department of Consumer Affairs.

Eventually they decided we cold remain, as long as we did not obstruct the door or the passage of any pedestrians (in fact, we had not been a threat to either, from the beginning).

Before I decided to go today I thought about the scale of the action. There are so many huge problems, more dramatic and immediate crises than that which provoked the response of which I was to be a part, but I said to myself that this is clearly a no-brainer. We only have to bring the issue to the attention of the merchants. There can't be any rational excuse for leaving doors wide open while you're pumping cooled air produced by polluting and non-renewable fossil fuels through your store, sending even more hot air out the other end of the system.

I was right: It is a no-brainer. Apparently there are just fewer brains out there these days.


  • Lewis Dodley, with video, on NY1
  • Daniel Tucker, writing on WNYC News Blog
  • Jennifer Glickel reporting for DNA info
  • Natural Resources Defense Counsel staff blog post by Eric Goldstein
  • Rebecca Myles, interviewing Sally Newman Friday evening, on WBAI Evening News (starting 3 minutes into the broadcast)
  • Catalina Jaramillo writing in El Diario
  • Fuji News Network, covering the issue and the action on Saturday


Barry and I headed for the Irish Hunger Memorial shortly after noon on Monday (after my visit to City Hall Park) to see an excerpt of "The Voyage of Garbhglas", choreographed by Christopher Williams and presented, courtesy of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, as a part of the River To River Festival.

It was a total delight, a magical allusion to ancient Irish faerie lore performed in a magical Irish place on a beautiful afternoon, and I recommend it to anyone who can make downtown for the two performances remaining, Wednesday and Thursday, at 12:30 each day. The Memorial is located inside Battery Park City, 290 Vesey Street at North End Avenue, an easy, almost straight walk west from the World Trade Center stop of the E train.

The performers were Ursula Eagly, Kira Blazek, Caitlin Scranton, Michael Ingle, Sydney Skybetter, Moses Kaplan, and Andrew Smith. I believe Michael Ingle was the celtic youth, and the three other male dancers were what I'll call "the tubers". Christopher Williams himself and Matthew Tutsky played troubadour harps of different sizes, and the music was by Gregory Spears, who can be seen in some of the images directing the singers.

Barry has posted a video, on Bloggy, of a short segment of the 30-minute performance and has a link to his Flickr set.

As someone who tries to take advantage of what New York has to offer culturally, I think a lot about how everyone who would like to see art in performance (in any medium) can find a way to do so without having to deal with discouraging lines, fifth-balcony-in-the-rear seats, or even sold-out notices. In my own case it helps that I'm usually interested in work that most people are unlikely to even be aware of, and I'm lucky to have the leisure to seek it out. But what happens when something really good becomes well known, and suddenly everyone wants to see or hear it?

I was considering this subject with Barry when we left the performance of "Garbhglas". His answer was that the ideal would be that there would be so much art out there, and really good art, that there would never have to be a line or a crowd. We'd all have so many options that we wouldn't have to keep bumping into each other, or fight for tickets. Of course that ideal assumes we all think and feel for ourselves and aren't seduced by the inevitable hype - including, I suppose, in this case, my own modest efforts at making a ballyhoo.

This time the subject had come up because in Monday's surprisingly intimate, georgic performance by Williams' dancers and musicians, while everything took place outdoors, it seemed that there was really room on the Memorial's platform for only about a hundred people to fully experience it, not including whatever the numbers were for those standing on the street below.

While I imagine there must be other things to do at lunch time Wendsday and Thursday, if you go, maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to plan on getting to "Garbhglas" early for its final two performances.







Jessica Sunflower planted in CIty Hall Park

UPDATE: A public hearing concerning the City's proposed new rules will be held next Tuesday, August 10 at Chelsea Recreation Center, 430 West 25th Street, at 11:00am. It should be very colorful. The New York City Community Garden Coalition (NYCCGC) is urging its supporters to testify about the importance of making community gardens permanent. Information can be found on the Coalition’s web site, including the proposed rules themselves, the expiring 2002 agreement, and a history of the evolution of New York City community gardens.

New York City appears to have officially abandoned its efforts to preserve the 500 community gardens which have been protected from development since 2002 by the Spitzer Agreement ("Preservation Agreement"). That compact, which ended a hard-fought battle begun more than 20 years earlier, saved hundreds of community gardens, but it expires on September 17 this year.

Proposed Department of Housing and Preservation (HPD) rules will permit these precious urban green spaces to be legally transferred for commercial development. These popular and flourishing bootstrap gardeners' oases had replaced neighborhood vacant lots where buildings had been abandoned by landlords following the flight of residents to the outer boroughs and the suburbs during the sixties and seventies.

These older structures, neglected and often torched, but ultimately leveled in any case, all eventually became city property. The City hoped to profit from their sale and the tax revenues which would follow their development, but there was no commercial interest in the properties until residents, both old and new, had worked hard to successfully rebuild and improve their neighborhoods.

The communities which have fought for these spaces and nurtured them for years are understandably very angry. Yesterday Jessica Sunflower and some friends decided to bring the Time's Up! campaign to preserve these gardens down to City Hall itself. The precise venue chosen was City Hall Park, on the doorstep of both the Mayor's office and the City Council Chamber. Sunflower managed to climb into a tree planted in the Mayor and Council's own official "garden", and she was joined on the ground by some serious community advocates.

modern activism: back on the ground, even as Sunflower was being ushered into a police vehicle, supporters were busy broadcasting the action from a laptop resting on the plinth of a bronze sculpture at the edge of the park

the voice of one crying in the City Hall wilderness - will it be heard?

for thirty years, the communities have chosen gardens over brick

kale bouquet: the Times once described New York's more successful community gardens as "spectacular stretches of kale-toned respite"

the sunflower petals abandoned by the prisoner while she was being removed from the tree were quickly salvaged and recycled back on the ground

[image at the top by Rebekah McCabe, from a Flickr set uploaded by Barbara Ross]


There will be a great congregation of friends and activists inside the Great Hall at the Cooper Union tomorrow evening at six o'clock. There they will be celebrating the rich life of Harry Wieder, cut short, shockingly, in an accident in April.

Harry was a familiar friend and powerful advocate of many progressive causes, so I expect the room will resemble a portrait of the face of New York grassroots activism (of almost every sort) as it operated over the last few decades.

I also expect that this memorial will not be a lugubrious affair. Harry meant a lot to the people who shared his life and his dedication. But we also knew how to share in laughter, and there should be plenty of that tomorrow.

Harry was also completely familiar with the historic Great Hall, not least for his regular attendance at ACT UP meetings, which continued while they were being held there in the early 90's. It was a time, difficult to imagine today, when the press of hundreds of AIDS activists (I'm sure I remember hearing the number 700 one week), attracted by the urgency of the issues and the energy of the coalition, had forced a move from the pre-restoration Center to a larger venue. It was Cooper which welcomed us.

I've been back many times since those years, and Barry and I will be there tomorrow.

Speaking of ACT UP, and the kind of energy which seems in scarce supply these days, the incredibly-important ACT UP Oral History Project has just added 14 new interviews with ACT UP activists and add 9 important video clips and transcripts to its web site. Visit, rummage around, then go out and change the world.

While working on this post I once again found myself Googling for an image of "Harry Wieder"; there aren't a great number, and most of them are mixed in with a much, much larger number of images of "Prince Harry". Our Harry would love that.

[image via pinknews]


Barry and I were at Grand Ferry Park Saturday afternoon, but, bicycle-less and resolved to remain fully-clothed, we were were able to offer nothing more than admiration and documentation for New York's contribution to the World Naked Bike Ride. We watched an upbeat crowd of enthusiasts assemble and ride off in a deliciously and infectiously brash rally which took them over the Williamsburg Bridge and into Manhattan as far north as the UN before returning across the river later to party.

Enthusiasts in cities all over the planet have been taking this annual event very seriously for years. They seem to get it, even if New York doesn't. With an ebullience and a commitment which should be heartening to anyone who questions our culture of oil and cars, and who supports a sustainable transport alternative, people elsewhere have taken to the streets in impressive numbers - and in unashamed expression. Until yesterday however, in spite of (or because of?) the Naked Bike Ride's Dionysian attractions and its celebration of freedom, New York's participation had for years been chimerical, and finally pretty underwhelming.

I doubt anyone's been counting cheeks, but it looks to me like the city "showed" better this year (even if we're not yet up to the standard set by a certain awesome English seaside resort town).

Note: To be fair, the images I'm publishing at the top and bottom of this post are a somewhat misleading representation of what the bicyclists looked like once they hit the road. Many of the costumes seen here were later removed, beginning even as the group was assembling at the top of Grand Ferry Park. To wit:



In the still and video images I've seen on line, most spectators around the city seem to have enjoyed their exposure to the group's rolling march, but some may be asking what's the connection between environmentalism, bicycles, and nakedness. Why is this action naked? I may be prejudiced, but I'd say that not only do bikes have a huge potential for raising the quality of the environmental, one which we could start realizing almost immediately, but bikes also (when used civilly) seem to be able to charm almost anyone.

So bikes may be excellent poster children for saving the planet, but why naked bicyclists?

Two years ago Mark Barwell, a very fit-looking English environmental activist, took part in the Brighton & Hove Naked Bike Ride, and the BBC interviewed him prior to the run, photographing him in road costume ("completely starkers", as the reporter offered in the accompanying audio link). Barwell discussed the serious objectives of the demonstration and went on to address what everyone always zeros in on: "The idea is to be as loud as possible, really", he said, and then he offered the best explanation ever for its anomalous motif: [my transcript below]

Cyclists on the road are really the most vulnerable road users. Cycle lanes tend to appear and disappear all over the place, and drivers as a rule are quite sensitive to cyclists on the road, but there are quite a lot of issues where we're very much vulnerable, and that's where the naked thing comes in. It's to highlight the vulnerability, and also, as a follow through, to celebrate body freedom, and the fact that a naked body really isn't that bad a deal.

It must have had something to do with the rendezvous' Williamsburg location: I don't think I've ever before seen so much pale nerd skin, its beauties enhanced here by a lot of body paint broadcasting genuine conviction.

The image at the top is of the group about to leave the park; those which appear below were all collected in the hour before.









For much more, go to the New York Post video site for Jeff Lieberman's excellent video coverage of the ride's swath through Manhattan.

[I tried my best to get this post up sooner, but I was having serious server problems all day Sunday]

ADDENDA: I've uploaded additional images on Flickr, and Gothamist has more photos and video (look for Oliver "waving" to the cars on the bridge); go for the slide show on John Zwinck's feed and that of dogseat

but it won't be just about the uniform

I love bikes; I love bicyclists; I love naked. Tomorrow afternoon, Saturday, in a rare, very special concurrence of the stars, like-minded enthusiasts will be privileged to witness or be part of an awesome event promising all three distractions - if they make their way over to Williamsburg some time around 5 o'clock.

World Naked Bike Ride will be celebrated by New York-area enthusiasts starting with a rally beginning at that hour in Grand Ferry Park. Time's Up! has the details here.

The annual world-wide event is described by our local activists as "A fun and liberating protest towards reducing the dangers posed to our world and our bodies by auto and oil dependence!", and they advise:

Clothing is optional, please come as bare as you dare. Creative costuming is also highly encouraged. Body painting and bike decoration will start at 5pm, with the ride departing no sooner than 6:30pm, no later than 7:00pm. Be sure to bring lights, bells, a sense of humor and a positive attitude!

There will be plenty of laughs to accompany a message born in disgust and anger, and one which is growing increasingly louder, but the continuing, and still unfolding, news about the horrors of the Gulf oil spill ensures that both the humor and the protest will be more visible and powerful this year.

The media can no longer afford to ignore the issues which will bring masses of colorful and determined bicyclists into streets all around the world tomorrow.

The picture at the top is from last year's (world-wide) event, specifically, "Naked Bike Ride London 2009". The Brits seem totally into it.

[image from itslefty via Flickr]

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