April 2004 Archives


Let us suppose you have a chest of drawers that you sorely need for storage space but cannot fit into your small apartment. What to do?

Here is one thought: Why not put it on wheels and leave it curbside in front of your building? Naturally, you accept a theft risk and an obligation to move the chest across the street every few days to comply with alternate-side parking rules.

Absurd, right? You can't just leave personal property on the street.

But what if we call that thing on wheels, oh, a car? Suddenly, it becomes O.K. to gobble up precious public space for your own benefit. Not only that, but on most streets you also need not pay a dime for this storage area.

So begins Clyde Haberman's "NYC" column in today's NYTimes.

While eventually we will be forced to ban on-street parking in New York, presumably starting only with Manhattan at first, it's not going to be easy, not least because of the sense of entitlement fostered for car owners by every city administration for over half a century.

Before 1950 it was illegal to park overnight in Manhattan. Transportation Alternatives activist John Tierney has cited how old photographs demonstrate "gracefully uncluttered streets. Many of the sidewalks were much wider than today's and adorned with greenery."

The city's pedestrian majority, as Police Commissioner Arthur Wallander approvingly observed in 1947, was firmly opposed to ''the public streets being used as garages.'' But the city's politicians had their own cars to park and favors to hand out. So some of the world's most expensive real estate has ended up being used to store hulks of metal, at unbeatable prices.
But of course he's not been alone in encouraging New Yorkers to take back the streets. Two and a half years ago Frank Pelligrini proposed in Time that incoming mayor Bloomberg be so bold as to make his mark by doing the right thing by all New Yorkers.
Banning parking would rev all the economic engines that the city runs on, and eliminate the real source of economic dead weight, namely private-vehicle owners who are just waiting for an excuse to get out of town for the weekend anyway

[image from unrev.com]

the keys to the city?

Ah, now I understand why former Mayor Ed Koch appears to be pimping for this Summer's Republican Convention. Koch has accepted a job as chairman of a drive to attract thousands of volunteers to help with the event, but a NYTimes story which appeared April 28 seems to offer redemption for the old man.

It is accepted as an article of faith among protesters planning to demonstrate against the Republican National Convention this summer that agents seeking to undermine their efforts have infiltrated their ranks. But now the protesters are talking about infiltrating the convention to undermine the event itself.

"Really?" said Kevin Sheekey, president of the New York City Host Committee, when told that protesters were talking about flooding the ranks of volunteers to disrupt convention operations.

The city is obligated to find a total of 8,000 New Yorkers to volunteer to help things run smoothly, and would-be protesters are hoping that by signing up, they can work from the inside during the convention, scheduled Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.

"A lot of people are talking about it in general," said William Etundi Jr., a founder of counterconvention.org, a Web site that serves as a bulletin board for anti-convention activities. "The Republicans are coming to New York City, so maybe the real New York should come to them."

Koch has enraged progressives for years, but the closeted, way-erstwhile Democratic community activist could hardly have expected to abandon absolutely everything he ever represented* in order to beat the drum for a Republican candidate who has never disavowed his personal support while governor for the Texas law which mandates imprisonment for homosexuals. Or could he?

Yes he could. If you see him around town, tell him exactly how he's doing, even though he's no longer asking us the question. Oh, and while you have his attention, don't forget to ask him what he did about AIDS during his watch.

Of course we know that Koch is not actually in the loop for the horse project, so what's really going on? How did we get to the point where a political party's supreme campaign stunt can be represented as "non-political," in the former mayor's own words. On Sunday, the Times's Michael Slackman wrote that current mayor Michael Bloomberg, also a former Democrat, is trying to persuade New Yorkers that the convention is not political because it is happening in their city. Even Koch admits that it's "one of the most political events of the nation."

Political, indeed, said William K. Dobbs, spokesman for United for Peace and Justice, a group that hopes to have hundreds of thousands of protestors focusing on the convention in a very partisan way. "If the R.N.C. is non-partisan, I'm Greta Garbo," said Mr. Dobbs. "A political party's convention by its nature is partisan. This is loony."


From an interview which appeared in POZ last December, where Michael Musto and Tony Kushner are discussing the film version of "Angels In America":

Musto: One thing that is missing is the line outing former New York City mayor Ed Koch, an arch-enemy of AIDS activists, as gay.

Kushner: I don’t know if that was gone in the screenplay or taken out in editing. Maybe the [filmmakers] figured no one knows who Ed is anymore, which would be a lovely thing to believe. Oblivion is what Ed deserves. When the play was on Broadway, a New York name lawyer who’s a friend of Koch’s asked me if I’d please take the line out because it was really hurting Ed’s feelings. I left it in. It was mean to do, but I really hated him. He’s such a ghastly man and such a betrayer of the progressive vision he rose to prominence on. He became such a reactionary blimp.

[Tiepolo, The Procession of the Trojan Horse in Troy (1773) oil on canvas, 39 x 67 cm, National Gallery, London, the image from The Web Gallery of Art]

Coming in from 23rd Street, I went back into our lobby and past another set of doors to the garden, where I found these [another score for the number 2] dogwood trees.

Incredibly, this too is Manhattan.



222west 23rd.JPG

Remembering that as of today I've been at this blog for two full years, I went outside to look for something visual in twos. I found these three on the awning marquee of the Chelsea Hotel accross the street.

this is as sophisticated as it gets

Ray Sanchez knows what the city won't tell us: No one is really doing anything about subway security. But then, why should we be surprised? The subway isn't the politicians and bureaucrats' thing. They don't use it.

At the same time it hasn't escaped the notice of some of us that there's still talk about entirely shutting down Penn Station and the Main Post Office during the Republican Convention for the safety of hundreds or thousands of treasured Republican plutocrats.

The conductor stood in the cab of the subway car, her door ajar. People have a false sense of security on the subway, she said. "The politicians who never ride the trains are very reassuring, aren't they?"

The New York Police Department is rushing to train 10,000 officers in counter-terrorism in time for the summer's Republican National Convention, but there are transit workers without fire and evacuation training.

"I'm one of them," said the conductor, who has eight years on the job. "You hope common sense is enough to get you through an emergency, but, you know, common sense goes out the window."

And, in the event, the riders too, if there's going to be no direction from "security."

[image from Rachelle Bowden at rachelleb]




Wallspace Gallery shows the photo work of artists you probably haven't seen before. Once you have however, you'll want to keep looking.

The current Joseph Maida show is no exception. There may be a small world in each photograph, but they all seem to come from the larger cosmos of the artist. But the settings themselves remain pretty ordinary. So then how does this stuff become so captivating? And it's not just the luxurious light.

[images from Wallspace Gallery]

Joe Andoe untitled (Car on road) 2003 oil on canvas 57 1/2 x 82 inches

I loved this show. Period. But check out the stories on the gallery site.

[image from Feigen Contemporary]

Anton Kern is currently exhibiting two very different artists in his two rooms on 20th Street, and they are surprisingly comfortable together.

Jim Lambie, "Mental Oyster" (installation detail)

Edward Krasinski (installation detail)

one small work on paper (detail)

More group life from Providence, Rhode Island, even if these three guys are now sowing their art all about the country.

Foxy Production is currently showing the work of the collaborative Paper Rad, composed of of Jacob Ciocci, Jessica Ciocci and Benjamin Jones. Look for gorgeous paper, paint, video, cloth, music and sculpture, including familiar icons reimagined and everything invested with smart good humor. Don't miss the treasure chest in the back room.


it's a slippery slope

But it's 2004! Why do we still have to deal with this accursed thing? I've absolutely had it with the abominations of the Catholic Church, and don't get me started on all the other monstrously evil cults which compete with it in advancing fear and superstition in this benighted land and around the world.

Bloggy discovered last night that my home state of Michigan is about to institutionalize unreason, bigotry and hate.

Doctors or other health care providers could not be disciplined or sued if they refuse to treat gay patients under legislation passed Wednesday by the Michigan House.

The bill allows health care workers to refuse service to anyone on moral, ethical or religious grounds.

The Republican dominated House passed the measure as dozens of Catholics looked on from the gallery. The Michigan Catholic Conference, which pushed for the bills, hosted a legislative day for Catholics on Wednesday at the state Capitol.

If these idiots want religious war, I think we should let them have it. I'm in.

I know the Catholic Church like few others do. My family has practiced its magic for almost two thousand years and most of them continue to do so. I was educated in a Catholic elementary school staffed entirely by nuns, an Augustinian Prep School manned by black-robed priests and brothers, and a Jesuit not-so-liberal-arts university.

In that time I learned just about everything they wanted me to learn about "The Church," and I never questioned the system, but within a few weeks of my arrival at the University of Wisconsin Madison the entire structure of intellectual restraints collapsed and I learned how to breathe freely for the first time.

Years later I find even more darkness all around me, and I am its enemy.

In spite of cries of alarm coming from those who carry its torches, religion is not persecuted in this country. Reason is persecuted in this country. Religion is winning.

[image from a French Charles Taze Russell site, where it is captioned, "Fratricide — Autodafé à Paris"]

The Patriot Act is obviously a boon for homegrown tyrants. Only slightly less obvious is the fact that it won't be able to protect us from their bogeymen, even though that's the only excuse they can publicly offer for its existence.

Bloggy draws the properly scary conclusion from today's headlines.

(storyboard image for filing cabinet scene not included in the film)

I saw Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" in a movie theatre when it first came out, almost twenty years ago. I remember thinking it was exciting and pretty funny. B and I saw it again tonight at home. This time I thought it was terrifying. In 2004 it's no longer "retro future."

Another big surprise: Jonathan Pryce is really cute as Sam Lowry. I didn't remember that.


[image at the top from Trond Frittz lower image from MovieGoods]

serious street theatre: Rachel Corrie remembered on 5th Avenue, March 26, 2003

Barry and I slipped into Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday to show support for our friends and their friends, sixteen defendents caught up in the trial from mayhem (maybe the word "hell" should be reserved for even more horrendous judicial outrages likely still to come).

Thirteen months ago the group had been arrested for a totally peaceful street protest against the war in Iraq, against the continuing war on the Palestinians, and against the death of U.S. human rights activist Rachel Corrie. Ok, some traffic was disrupted on 5th Avenue. Now those arrested that day may be subject to restraint of their liberties during years of probation and, in the words of hanging judge Robert M. Stolz on Monday, they are "facing a possible sentence of up to a year in jail." A year in jail? For blocking cars? For trying to shake their country awake?

Stolz's mention of the serious stakes involved for the defendents followed immediately a thinly-veiled warning to their friends and familiy in the benches: "[This trial] is not for the benefit of Spectators." No, it certainly isn't, but can we know for whose benefit it is being staged?

This trial is an appalling abuse of the courts. We used to think that Giuliani's regime* was outrageous, but to experience an even more serious assault New Yorkers really had to wait until after the reactionary ascendancy which followed the 2000 election, after the misreading of September 11, after the terrorists won the war on terror the day it was announced, and after the totally political decision that New York City would be the site of the Republican Convention celebrating the arrival of the fundamentalists' brave new world.

Normally political protest which involves a police determination that the protestor
is somehow out of order results in a simple violation and the dismissal of all charges, assuming the person arrested does not run into the police again within a designated relatively short period of time, usually a few months.

I can't begin to go into the particulars here of how this judge and this district attorney (Morgenthau's lieutenant, Barry Glasser) have been mishandling the case of the "5th Avenue 16," but let me say that neither party is disinterested, and that the people's justice appears to be just about the last concern of both. Not incidently, aside from carrying an axe which will apparently never be ground enough, Judge Stolz has to be faulted for incredibly slovenly, unprofessional conduct. But then, these are also times which somehow accomodate a George W. Bush presiding over 300 million [or actually 6 billion] of his fellows.

Yesterday morning, for what was expected to be only the pronouncement of sentences, there were at all times a minimum of eight police officers in the courtroom on Monday (one for every ten people in the public seating area) and four of them wore bulletproof vests. I have been a defendent in civil rights cases, I have sat in courtrooms while others were tried for similar "offenses" and I have sat on the jury in one capital case. Never before have I have seen more than two officers in a courtroom, and none were ever wearing vests.

Clearly the City authorities and their directors in Washington are trying very hard to frighten us all into submission and to minimize the potential for the demonstrations and protest which are the only refuge for a people given no effective electoral choices. We can't let our self-appointed governors get away with this. The stakes are just too high. If we fail to stop these police state tactics now, we all will be paying for it for years, if not forever.

Clyde Haberman has written one of the very few media stories on this trial. He doesn't tell us enough, he provides no real context, and he may be trying to be too entertaining, but you'll at least learn that sentencing has been delayed contemplating the impact of new evidence. True justice's hope is that the defendents' lawyer will be successful in his motion for an appeal, but with this judge it must be a distant hope at best.

For more press and other information, including pictures, go to M26.org

Surprise! A former federal prosecutor, Stolz was originally appointed Judge by Giuliani, to the Civil Court in 1995. He was appointed to the Criminal Court by Bloomberg in 2003.

[image from Fred Askew]

19th-century terra cotta fragment newly mounted inside the Museum subway station

The Brooklyn Museum celebrated its $63 million shiny new front door and merry greensward with a wonderful party this weekend. The elaborate entrance shed and its landscape approach added no square footage to the exhibition space of the grand Beaux Arts pile and its architectural merits will be debated for years, but it definitely appears to be a hit with the its city.

The Museum inaugurated a new commitment to its community with "Open House," a wonderful show of work by living artists working in Brooklyn and a sadly postumous retrospective of the truly fabulous art of Patrick Kelly. I highly recommend both shows, but while we had come for the energy of the celebration and the honoring of Brooklyn artists, we were both bowled over by what Thelma Golden's curating has done with Kelly's legacy. It's about much more than dresses. The designer would have been delighted with both the style and heterogeneity of the people filing through all his gorgeous stuff on Sunday.

For many young visitors however the weekend will be remembered first for participatory art, music, funny paper hats and a spectacular new fountain with a sense of humor. The people we saw on Sunday both inside and outside the building were definitely not all of the sort usually attracted to sober museum precincts. It's clear that from now on neither this Museum nor its visitors, its true patrons, will be satisfied thinking of the institution as just a warehouse of dead culture.

Brooklyn crowd exhausted by art - or just waiting for the next fountain


This is a view of the magnificent ornamental plum tree on 11th Avenue, surviving in the midst of the Chelsea gallery geography, captured late this afternoon.




By 6:30 this evening, on the last day for mailing income tax returns, the steps of the Main Post Office on 8th Avenue were getting pretty lively. In addition to an ungoodly [sic] number of police, there were at least three distinct groups demonstrating, including Billionaires For Bush, the Missile Dick Chicks, and Marriage Equality New York.

Even if it's not really surprising these days, it's still depressing for a queer with a sense of history and occasion to have to report that the last group was the least entertaining, and certainly the least theatrical of the bunch. It's true that there are certainly more important criteria for judging the merits of a cause, but what's become of our creative standards? Don't we owe something to the rich imaginations of the millions of unmarrieds who have gone before us?


For their replacement homeland it now looks like the Palestinians will just have to be content with a small rock somewhere south of the mythical Blessed Isles.

I don't know how to deal with such idiocy as this. [the original headline was more to the point: "Bush recognises Israel West Bank claims"]

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised to see this agreement between two governments which routinely defy international law, each recklessly asserting its absolute right to do whatever it pleases regardless of the impact on others. But actually there is something far more frightening about this agreement between two rogue states - its scary biblical element.

There is absolutely no way to defend the Sharon settlement policy, but hearing that the White House legitimized it today is very frightening news. Not only is this strange Washington crew's domestic policy about their god cult, but so also is its foreign policy where it's really fundamentally about crusading [see Bushie's fake news event last night]. The armageddon it's already inciting seems to be its real purpose, since there is obviously no logic to it.

Look around. These people have removed all joy from lives all over the planet since they seized power little over three years ago, but since there was obviously no pleasure in their dried-up Republican hearts anyway, they are oblivious to the cloud now hanging over the planet. In fact, for those little superstitious minds the next life just can't come soon enough; they're apparently willing to help their god-thing hurry it along.

NOTE: For a proper précis of the Bush thing last night see criticalviewer's "A Busy Person's Guide to the Bush Press Conference"

David Humphrey Wave Watcher (2003) acrylic on canvas 96 x 84 inches

I used to think he was a brilliant, mysteriously compelling eccentric. Still brilliant and mysteriously compelling, David Humphrey is looking less eccentric today. But it's not that Humphrey is getting more conventional. Rather, it's that in the contemporary art world convention is just not convention any more.

While originally known as a painter, Humphrey has lately also been working with sculpture, and it shows. In the exhibition which opened at Brent Sikkema April 3 it shows in the intelligence of the sculpture - a carnival of enigmatic figures in weird combinations of clay, plastic, marble, bronze, found porcelain figures and fabric - and it shows in the paintings.

Ed Winkleman said that he thought the wonderful sculptures have really impacted the painting. If the sculpture has informed the painting, I think it actually gives a new form to it. Humphrey's imagery was often more ghostly and semi-abstracted, and today there are some hard edges. At least one central figure or group in each painting has a real, if more or less cartoon-like, shape. While these paintings may be shy one dimension, they have a very strong sculptural presence.

It's a great show and it should attract serious critical attention. The size of the opening crowd would have been respectable in a large group show of young artists who had brought all of their friends. Humphrey's admiring peers were there that night, but I'm sure they won't be the only ones talking about these works.

David Humphrey Twin Pups detail (2003) acrylic on canvas 44 x 54 inches

[upper image from Brent Sikkema]

untitled (pavement gummibear)


legs as shadows.JPG
untitled (legs)

detail of installation of C-prints

No, he's not a virgin to the gallery world, and it should already be clear that I really like the work of Joe Ovelman, so maybe I don't have to say much about his current show at Oliver Kamm/5BE Gallery. Actually, the real reason I don't have to say much is that the installation itself says everything. Even the individual C-prints are as much a part of the space as they are gorgeous independent images.

But you really have to be there. I don't think I've seen a gallery or museum space pulled together to better effect. The works themselves steal through several mediums, they're as fresh as last night (or this afternoon), and they should excite young collectors. Prices, even for original, handmade work, start at, well, free.

untitled C-print 20 X 16 inches

untitled (2004) C-print 16 X 20 inches

The front room includes a beautiful five-panel text piece titled "When I Grow UP," dozens of playful, framed post-it notes, a wall installed as a monument to the human/natural landscape reconstructed in the gallery's backroom, a framed nod to every new enterprise's iconic first dollar display, and an elegant black and white reliquary document of one of Ovelman's generous public walls.

detail of When I Grow Up (2004) color xerox and marker on paper 20 X 60 inches

The central gallery space pulls the art off the wall with two plinths, one supporting a handmade book, "Resolution 452," the other a stack of small papers marked "Blame Cher."

Finally there's the back room. Like most, Ovelman's includes interesting ambient sounds. Unfortunately they are not accessible from this post.

Rambles (2004) color xerox photos, dimensions variable

We're told Joe blames Cher for everything. Thanks, Cher.

[the images are my own casual record, and cannot begin to reproduce the excitement of the originals]

Daniel Rushton Motorcycle Seat (2004) acrylic on Panel 48"x60"

One of our happiest acquisitions, now from a number of years past, was that of three beautiful silkscreen monoprints by Daniel Rushton. Our guests usually ask about them right away, but until recently we were unable to tell them anything about Dan's current work, even though we would occasionally run into the tall young Canadian on our gallery walkabouts.

We were finally able to visit his Williamsburg studio earlier this week where we saw recent paintings which began as drawings on his computer before they were moved to canvas with bristle and airbrush. The most exciting image for me was this relatively large homage to the bike covered in a different canvas just outside the door.

Dan spoke of being interested in objects which enclose or are enclosed by the body. With works as strong as this and the others we saw on Tuesday, he won't have any trouble in getting others to share this interest.

[image furnished by the artist]

the same Keith Cylar who won the respect of civic officials for his tireless work with Housing Works clients was arrested more than 50 times for civil disobedience: here he is shown visiting the U.S. Senate chambers*

WBAI's site now has posted part of an absolutely amazing interview which Ben Shepard made with Keith Cylar a little over two years ago.

Keith describes his first experience with AIDS, beginning in the early 80's, and what his world was like at the time.

At that point I was having sex wherever. It was really schizophenic; there was the fear of contagion, but the unforgiving presence of hormones and the need to have sex. I don't regret it. I actually wish that I had more sex than I had back then but I was a prude. I was a nerd. I cried a lot back then because of how lonely I was. It was a very alienated world which didn't necessarily know how to deal with a strong, black, intelligent, jock male who is also a faggot who loves men and loves kinky sex.
Later in the interview Ben asks Keith about ACT UP's Housing Committee, founded in the late 80's, which was the forerunner of Housing Works.
BS: What about this Housing Committee? When did housing become an AIDS issue? When did Housing and AIDS become linked? Its not part of everybody's consciousness?

KC: Let me tell you what was happening. There was a gridlock in the hospital system. Charlie King, Ginny Shubert, Eric Sawyer started recognizing the issue in '88, '87. For me working in the hospital, I couldn't get people out of the hospital because they didn't have a place to live. We'd get 'em well from whatever brought them in; they wouldn't have a place to live. They'd stay in the hospitals and they'd pick up another thing and then they'd die. Remember, 88, 90, 91, 92--New York City literally had hospital gridlock and that was when they were keeping people out on hospital gurneys in the hallways. That was when people were not being fed, bathed or touched. It was horrendous. You can't imagine what it was like to be black, gay, a drug user, transgender, and dying from AIDS.

So housing all of a sudden became this issue. ACT UP recognized it and formed this Housing Committee. I got involved in the Housing Committee when they came to the Majority Action Committee to do a presentation, asking us to help them get money from the floor to go to the First National African American Conference on AIDS. It was going to be in Washington [D.C.]. There was this guy there, Charles King, I sort of ripped into Charles King. We started working together.

The strategy was to push, push, push. It wasn't different than the general ACT UP strategy about inclusion. But it was always to get those populations also included.

It was easy for the world to deal with gay white men. People of color were so far off the Richter scale, and it was also to hold people of color organizations accountable.

If it was the worst of times, people like Keith made it also some of the best of times.
A lot of this stuff for me became very emotional but I have not focused on it because I plan to do this work for a long time and I have learned. This is the problem that happened with ACT UP. You cannot last forever on anger. You cannot last forever on the negative side of emotions. And you really have to learn how to love. And you have to go to much more positive spaces ultimately if you are going to do this for a long time.

And part of what happened with ACT UP was its evolution had to do not only with this intense creative thing and very brilliant people who created and populated and ran organizations. They were so competitive and so angry and bitter at the outside world and they needed [to] be because we were literally fighting for our lives. But inside we needed to learn how to love. We needed to learn how to care for each other. We needed to learn that I wasn‚t necessarily your enemy.

BS: There was also the recognition that doing AIDS work meant doing race, class, and gender work.

KC: That came for people of color. We were trying to do that and they were doing "Drugs into Bodies." So there was always this contention. When ACT UP worked well and there was a real consensus process and you could talk about stuff and you could talk it through, you could work together. And that was when it worked well. The fights that happened out of that lead to people splintering. You cannot build a community in hate, you cannot build a community on anger. You cannot build a community on death and dying. The overwhelming thing about the AIDS epidemic is they died.

We haven't heard the end of Keith's story, especially since his work survives as a very succcessful multi-million dollar service organization which has not compromised its activism or its principles. It's established itself as a very visible and indispensible institution in communities virtually ignored otherwise, if not positively despised.

From almost the beginning, Housing Works has even managed to be considered very chic at the same time as it was saving lives. This was an association which was undoubtedly enormously important both for its fundraising and for the additional self-respect such a cachet was able to encourage among its clients, employees, volunteers and defenders at the barricades.

Remarkably, these were all roles which might be shared even at the same moment by the people associated with Housing Works. Attracting this kind of commitment was another reflection of the large souls both of Charles King and of the good companion we have just lost.

[the image at the top was provided by Terri Smith-Caronia at Housing Works]


[I neglected to mention yesterday that the interview posted on the WBAI site is credited there: An excerpt from the book From ACT UP to the WTO: Urban Protest And Community-Building in the Era of Globalization Edited by Benjamin Shepard and Ronald Hayduk]

The April 8 NYTimes includes an obituary: "Keith Cylar, 45; Found Homes for AIDS Patients"

Keith Cylar headshot.JPG

A beautiful man died yesterday.

Keith Cylar was the Co-Founder and Co-President of Housing Works, whose good people announced his death today. Keith had lived with HIV for over 20-years and was diagnosed with AIDS in 1989. In the last year, Keith developed cardiomyopathy, a serious enlargement of the heart. He died in his sleep early Monday morning of a cardioarythmia.

Fellow troublemaker and troublesolver Eric Sawyer reminds us of how much we have lost.

I remember when Charles King first brought Keith Cylar to a meeting of the Housing Committee. Keith had aready been coming to ACT UP - was working for the Minority AIDS Task Force in Harlem and was involved with the Minority (soon to become Majority) AIDS Action Committee.

Keith was this strong, tough as nails, sweet as sugar, fearless scared man child, angry at the loss of his former lover, fierce with rage against the do nothings in power; a handsome, sexy, powerful man - wise beyond his years - determined to help right the wrongs the world was doing to PWAs, to the poor, to the homeless, to the voiceless and to disenfranchised.

Keith was an out, proud, queer, black, positive brother when it was definitely not cool to be so in his community - a leader amongst men and a hero amongst warriors - Keith was my friend and I love him so.

Keith was able to kick back with a homeless person on a street corner, dance with a member of the Congress, break bread with a former Mayor, sip wine with a Cabinet Member and debate a member of the First Family with equal ease. He could also hold the hand of the dying and help them make peace with the Universe.

The world has a huge whole in it's soul now that Keith has left this plain.

[Keith Cylar and Charles King shared in the founding and administration of Housing Works, as partners in life and in activism]


I looked everywhere last night for at least one great picture to include at the top of this post, but with no luck. I think it says a great deal about both Keith and Charles that they seem almost invisible; the work is big, the egos are not.

[April 10: I now have two images, thanks to Terri Smith-Caronia at Housing Works, one sitting at the top of this post and the second at the top of the the April 7 followup]

The Bushites and their handlers: Although somehow they hijacked command of the most powerful country on earth, they clearly don't know what they're doing and they're doing it for the wrong reasons.

I used to think that their stupidity is what would save the planet, but that was before the "war on terror," the war on Afghanistan, the war on Iraq and now the wars which will be visited upon the entire world in response to their stupidity and iniquity.

We also note that, even if he is remembered for Vietnam, LBJ at least managed to deliver on civil rights, a voting-rights bill, a Medicare program for the aged, and measures to improve education and conservation. What will Bushie be remembered for?

Reuters on Monday, via Atrios:

Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy on Monday accused President Bush of having created at home and abroad "the largest credibility gap" since the Watergate scandal forced Richard Nixon from the White House 30 years ago.

Kennedy, a key backer of fellow Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's campaign for the party's presidential nomination, also charged Iraq has become "George Bush's Vietnam," the war that divided the United States and helped drive Lyndon Johnson from the presidency.

In addition, Kennedy said, Iraq has "diverted attention from the administration's deceptions here at home -- especially on the economy, health care and education."


It may finally have come down to our millennialists against their millennialists.

Over the weekend a new war may have begun began in earnest in Iraq, a very visible, coordinated, religion-based uprising against the occupation. The Christian soldiers running the U.S. and Iraq these days are driven by visions of the second coming of Jesus. The Iraqi streets and basements are propelled by the appearance of the Mahdi. Unfortunately the two armies are talking about roughly the same thing - the end of the world - but they aren't going to make it easy for anyone.

The Mahdi Army is the name given to the militia responsible for the current outbreaks of violence. People who study British, african, middle-east and asian history know the enormous significance the name Mahdi assumed at the end of the 19th century when it was both bogeyman and a real terrorist threat for the last bible-thumping, English-speaking empire. At least the reportedly quite observant Blair should remember Gordon and Kitchener, especially this week.

[image originally from Wired]

Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, shown on Thursday protected by a security guard employed by Blackwater USA, even while in a heavily guarded military complex in the city of Mosul

Tom Moody writes about the Daily Kos teapot-tempest mercenary brouhaha.

Those deaths were terrible but I hate that saying "screw the mercenaries" is being framed as an issue of patriotism or "supporting the troops." These high-paid soldiers of fortune are essentially a private army dedicated to securing Middle East oil assets and protecting corporate interests abroad. And just a reminder: they're shooting Iraqis today; tomorrow they could be over here in the States breaking strikes and busting protester's heads. This isn't as farfetched as it sounds: the Bush campaign recently hired Vance International, notorious anti-labor thugs, for "private security." This privatization of military functions is a sick trend, and I actually think it's more patriotic to oppose it. Unfortunately the Kerry campaign seems to think we should "support the mercs." [Moody points out at the top of his post that the "unctious Kerry campaign de-linked Kos from its website" when the controversy began]

[image from the NYTimes, pool photo by Ceerwan Aziz]

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Image taken from (inside out of) the most excellent and beautiful KOFOO on 8th Avenue between 26-27th Streets

Albrecht Dürer Death and the Landsknecht

The NYTimes calls them "four security consultants" in an editorial today. In fact, they were mercenaries, although no one seems to want to call them that.

In an article which begins on the paper's front page we do manage to learn quite a bit more about these soldiers of fortune, beginning with some figures:

As many as two dozen [security] companies, employing as many as 15,000 people, are working in Iraq.
The U.S. occupies Iraq, but apparently can't do it without paid mercenaries. Blackwater U.S.A., the company which employed the victims of the horrific attack in Fallujah Wednesday, guards Paul Bremer, the American administrator.
In the northern city of Mosul, where Mr. Bremer met with about 130 carefully vetted Iraqis on Thursday, Blackwater guards maintained a heavy presence, standing along the walls facing the Iraqi guests with their rifles cradled. More than once, Iraqis and Western reporters moving forward to take their seats in the hall were abruptly challenged by the guards, with warnings that they would be ejected if they resisted.

. . . .

The rapid growth of the private security industry has come about in part because of the shrinkage of the American military: there are simply fewer military personnel available to protect officials, diplomats and bases overseas, security experts say.

To meet the rising demand, the companies are offering yearly salaries ranging from $100,000 to nearly $200,000 to entice senior military Special Operations forces to switch careers. Assignments are paying from a few hundred dollars to as much as $1,000 a day, military officials said.

In the country I live in military base pay begins at a little over a thousand dollars a month for the lowliest recruit. "Imminent danger pay" for a battle area like Iraq adds $225 to a soldier's base, but last Fall even that pittance was threatened by the same administration which employs expensive mercenaries when it comes to its own protection.

Final note: Mercenaries belong in boys' fantasy fiction only; they are outlawed by the Geneva Convention for very good historic reasons.

[image from Web Gallery of Art]

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