September 2004 Archives

Evan Schwartz tub

I really like it when I come across a subject, any subject, for a second time and it's arrived from another direction altogether.

It was at least a number of months ago that I had read a story (I believe it appeared in the NYTimes, but I can't find it now) about a young student who was raising money in very imaginative ways to pay for gender reassignment surgery.

While visiting Williamsburg galleries this past Sunday I spotted a photograph which bowled me over at the time and which remains etched in my mind tonight. The image was a powerful and very beautiful self-portrait by Evan Schwartz, the young woman whose courageous story had impressed me earlier.

Evan is an artist; I don't remember that part, and maybe it wasn't even a part of the account I had read, but I'm not going to forget it now.

I saw Schwartz's image (it's the one which appears at the top of this post) hanging in the long hall at the Schroeder Romero Gallery and now I know that he will have his own show there in a few months. It opens January 7th. I don't remember ever before recommending, or even mentioning, a show on this blog months before it had been hung, but this is a good time to start.

There is more work on Schwartz's own site, including this image, which is from the same series, “Reclaiming Puberty,” as the one above.

Evan Schwartz post-coital

CORRECTION: The published story I referred to above was not in the Times, but rather in Time Out New York magazine. Unfortunately "TONY" still has no online archive; I guess it thinks of itself as just a weekly billboard (or a shopping and entertainment guide minus the coupons).

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Dan Rushton untitled 10 (2004) 40" x 30" gouache on panel

On Sunday, while visiting Dan Rushton's studio for the second time this year, Barry and I had been separately thinking that if we could find room for one of his newest large paintings on our walls we'd find a way to get it there. In the end size didn't seem to matter that much; while it's not the largest piece we saw that day, three days later I still haven't figured out how I'm going to clear space for "untitled 10." But it's now ours.

These images in an idiosyncratic marriage of realism and abstraction hardly begin to show what has excited us both about Rushton's work. Only standing in front of the panels themselves can you appreciate the subtle balance of brush and airbrush and the surprising colors which emerge so honestly from the basic monotone of each piece. I also really like the provocative way they tease the eye, drawing the body closer to the surface where the areas which had seemed unfocused because of distance remain unfocused still, and the highlights survive equally uncorrupted.

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Dan Rushton untitled 1 (2004) 48" x 72" gouache on panel

untitled (Wythe Street) 2004

James Abbott McNeill Whistler Symphony in Blue and Pink (ca. 1870)

Disclaimer: I'm posting this even though I didn't attend either of the two New York Philharmonic performances reviewed by Justin Davidson in today's Newsday. I should be a natural and enthusiastic patron of an institution which can bring alive an historical musical heritage which means a great deal to me and which continues to inspire exciting composers and performers in our present century. In fact however, for reasons described in Davidson's critique, I've stayed away for a while, and I don't expect to attend any Philharmonic performances this season.

While the orchestra and I have had a history together, the relationship has been suffering for years and now we may not share any future whatsoever.

I'm showing my frustration now because I've just discovered that someone has outdone the sometimes shockingly-outspoken critic from the NYTimes, Anthony Tommasini, in condemning what has become of our hometown orchestra.

Davidson's review of the orchestra's first two concert programs of the season includes phrases like, "doing business like it has always been done," "executing that chestnut," "arid mannerisms" and "a cannonade of defiant conservatism," but he finally just has to let it all out:

These comments have a ritualistic quality, I know, but if critics have been making them for decades, it's because the Philharmonic has consistently refused to embody the innovative, restless and constantly self-inventing spirit of its hometown. This might be a tolerable failing if the artistic leadership made up in traditionalist thrills what it lacks in enterprise. But Maazel is a taxidermist among conductors: In his hands, great pieces become lifelike rather than alive.
Although we know Tommasini has little love for Maazel, the orchestra's conservative programing and the neanderthals on its Board, in his own review of the opening night concert, compared to his Newsday colleague, he sounds almost like a votary, of both Maazel and the players who reportedly adore their music director. Has he finally been called on the carpet by representatives of an establishment he has offended?

Earlier this year the management team of the New York Philharmonic extended Maazel's contract until 2009, possibly sealing the fate of what has become little more that a dusty museum maintained for shrinking numbers of a musical Old Guard and the few members of a new monied class who seek annointment with "Culture" (but nothing not already hallowed, you understand).

Obviously the only relationship between the text of this post and the picture at the top is the painting's title, but it's beauty is also a palliative in this context. Whistler was once on the edge, but while we can still enjoy his art, here even patrons of the Philharmonic have moved on. Why is it so hard when it comes to the pleasures of Euterpe?

[image, in the collection of the Freer Gallery, from Simon Fraser University]


It's a long way from "I LIKE IKE," but even "DUMP BUSH" doesn't come close to it.

I've been wearing a simple flag-red button on my shirt for a number of weeks. If I'm asked what it means, I answer something like, "the Left," "independent Leftist," "none of the above" even, somewhat more dramatically, "revolution" (ok, revolution at least in the Jeffersonian sense). I may then go into the long historical association of the color red with revolutionary change.

Not everyone asks about the button, of course, and some people get it right away, telling me quietly or enthusiastically how much they like it. Some ask if I have an extra they could wear themselves (I do have more, for now, although it's a relatively limited supply).

Not surprisingly, I've found that the savvy people were for the most part born outside this country. When confronted with the image, even my reference to "the Left," most Americans are totally non-plussed, often twisting their heads to one side quizzically, perhaps hoping to spot something in empty space. In the U.S. there simply is no Left, so I have to explain that for me the red button represents, among other things, a fundamental, radical opposition to both major candidates and their parties, and the Right Wing agendas they each represent.

Actually, more and more I realize that I don't really know where to begin. In the face of such ignorance as that which now characterizes the American political landscape words seem more and more inadequate, if not totally meaningless; hence the abstraction of the very red button. Is it actually a sign of despair?

Suzanne Wright Hoover (Empowerment Series) color pencil and graphite on paper, 6.25' x 7.75'

No, it's not about me. Rather it's the title of an extraordinarily intelligent group show which opened at Monya Rowe two weeks ago. The press release points to the origin of the phrase in a recent drawing by Kevin Christy, who is in this collection, but with other work. Christy had replaced the text of the infamous "HOLLYWOOD" sign in Los Angeles with the words, "I've Met Someone Else."

The imagery begins with sexuality,and how we talk about it, but then the real surprises begin.

The exquisite piece below only begins to describe the incredible world imagined by Larissa Bates and which is represented in two other pieces in the exhibition. This drawing (the word doesn't seem adequate) is now ours, and although it sounds really selfish, I wish we were able to bring them all home. Bates will have a solo show in the gallery later next month.

Larissa Bates Poas Volcano (2004) gouache, gold leaf and acrylic ink on paper, 10.25" x 7"

Scott Treleaven cara frater (2004) paper on board, 14" x 11"

Some artists are comfortable in just about any medium. It looks like Scott Treleaven is working on it.

When we first saw his work it was in the form of an amazing film, "THE SALiVATION ARMY," shown at the 2003 New Festival. Only after we acquired a copy of it and began communicating with him did we learn that some people might have first encountered Treleaven through a series of zines he had produced earlier bearing the same title. We now have copies of the zines, but our connection with the artist hasn't stopped there.

Lately the Toronto-based Treleaven has moved into another medium, creating a number of amazing collages assembled from found images, wrapping paper and his own gouache, crayon and watercolor interventions.

We managed to acquire one of the early pieces from a show at D'Amelio Terras in 2003, and last week we were fortunate to be able to see a preview of his latest work at a reception in Simon Watson's Scenic space, and it's pretty spectacular.

For some of the images shown on Simon's walls, see this gallery. Some of the titles will be less enigmatic for those who know their history. Google.

Treleaven's work will be shown in three galleries outside of New York over the next few months, but I'm certain we will be seeing more of him here very soon.

Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago (opens October 29)
Marc Selwyn Fine Arts, Los Angeles (opens November 6)
Conner Contemporary Art, Washington, DC. (opens January 15)

Andrea Loefke, detail of installation, "Little Objects"

We first saw her work at S1 last November and when we wandered into her space at Smack Mellon open studios earlier this year I was pretty certain I'd see her again, soon. Now Andrea Loefke has a one-person show at PH Gallery on 27th Street, and if it's not quite so totally mad as the environment she had created in D.U.M.B.O., she's easily forgiven; after all, a commercial gallery has to think about access and safety issues.

The materials are wonderful, and the constructions are a mix of a perfect minimalism and a very imperfect assemblage of loose debris, everything invested with enough chuckles to support the show's title several times over: "when the green frog changed into a happy prince the nearby well - splish, splash - turned into sweetened lemonade."

Andrea Loefke untitled drawing (2003) 10" x 14"

Zachary Wollard A Historic Evening (2004) oil and acrylic on canvas 48" x 64"

The most remarkable thing about the paintings and drawings of Zachary Wollard now being shown at Massimo Audiello? No, not the fact that the artist is self-taught (ok, his first career was poetry, and there was some school-learning involved, at Columbia), but the fact that the work is so magnificent, and so enchanting.

He's only about 30, this is his first one-man show at the gallery and by the time you read this all of the work may already have been sold. See, poetry does pay.

Zachary Wollard Harbor Master (2004) graphite, watercolor, gouache and silver leaf on paper 22.5" x 30"

Osamu Tezuka, cell from "The Princess Knight"

M.Y. Art Prospects has launched a fascinating show, "Fantastic Landscapes from Japan," curated by Taro Chiezo, one of the eight artists in the exhibition. It's a trip, in several senses, and it certainly saves us bundles in travel costs.

In the 21st century the exotic no longer has much of a chance of maintaining its distance from the familiar. I'm not at all suggesting that the M.Y. Art show is difficult to approach, but the aesthetic merit of the work may stand out even more because it lets a European-dominated society share in the power of ancient cultural traditions very different from its own, if also woven into them at the same time. Ultimately this show provides the kind of jolt a visitor should expect in experiencing any good art, regardless of its source - only here maybe with a few more amps.

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John Waters said recently on Studio 360 that he only buys art that annoys him. It shouldn't surprise his audiences to hear that the outrageous creator of "Pink Flamingos" and "Female Trouble" doesn't want to be surrounded by comfortable work.

I only got the account of his NPR interview secondhand, but I think I understand what he means - or at least I can work with it. I don't buy pretty art myself, and I don't buy art which I pretend to understand or with which I'm totally comfortable.

This is all by way of an introduction to the current installation at Foxy Production. I don't mean to say that David Noonan's show actually annoys me, but I admit that even after seeing all kinds of individual pieces on previous occasions I remain more than a bit baffled by what he's doing. At the same time I'm fascinated. What you'll see on West 27th Street is gorgeous work, but I know there's stuff in there of which I am only dimly aware.

Wait, I think I'm talking about all of the gallery's work as much as I'm talking about the paintings in the current exhibition. It's not just the charm of the two principals which brings me back for every show; it's the heady feeling of not only being exposed to something quite new each time but also of encountering something which may never reveal itself entirely - even if it comes home with you. In a very real way, it always does.

Seriously one of the most interesting shows in Chelsea this month.

[images (paintings produced by diluted bleach applied to black saturated canvas) from Foxy Production]

Today's NYTimes has a front page article reporting that Kerry says Bush isn't telling the truth about Iraq. Only a close reading of the story (now buried inside the online edition) would reveal that the real news, more important even than what the contender says about it, is that a report from the administration's own National Intelligence Council told Bush way back in July that the outlook for Iraq was gloomy at best, and that at worst it was likely to be an absolute disaster, with the balance clearly weighing closer to the latter.

The paper did report the intelligence assessment in yesterday's edition, but even if the editors think that incontrovertible proof that Bush is lying about the defining event of his presidency is just yesterday's news, one could at least expect some editorial or OP-ED comment. Once again the U.S. commercial media, including here one of its most respected outlets, demonstrates that it can only cover politics, and especially campaigns for political office, as a competitive sport. Any mention of actual issues has apparently become unAmerican.

Ahhh. The Underground Railroad has the dope on the wonderful little video I posted one month ago. This is from the director, Matt Lenski:

We're both native New Yorkers - I was born in Manhattan and lived on Eldridge and Houston when I was little - and of course we were all outraged that Republicans were coming here to use the 911 incident and twist it in their favor. They're coming to our home town and we felt like we did when we were sixteen years old and some bully was steppin to you on your block, talking shit. These Republicans are the ultimate punks. I'm a director and Sam Marks is a writer and a playwright so we said let's come up with something.

[thanks to bloggy]

untitled (Elvis in the compactor room) 2004

Some of Chelsea's best installations are never seen by the public.

I don't think there's one clinker in the group included in the new show at The Drawing Center (and actually I wouldn't mention it if I thought there was). Although some of the work is immediately seductive, some of it may have to wait a bit for the kind of recognition it's certainly going to find. I'm thinking right now of the powerful, disturbing drawings of Zoë Charlton.

You know it's a good group show when you find yourself wondering about the actual process of assembling a group of (in this case 14) artists you've seen little or nothing of before. I mean, how does it happen? And where have they been up to now?

In any event, the pictures included below offer barely a hint of the deptha nd breadth of the show, and they definitely don't describe all of my pleasure in what I found at tonight's opening. As usual, they are images which happened to come out the best in a few of my modest attempts to record things which attracted or provoked me. I certainly don't always get what I want.

Sometimes it's just the ambient light which won't cooperate, but the work itself can be the obstacle. I really liked the gorgeous assemblies of Jonathan Herder which I had first seen at Pierrogi 2000, but it's impossible to show them with a hand-held subminiature camera. Any reproduction of Nancy Jackson's extravagantly-imagined worlds probably shouldn't be attempted, and Jennie White's exquisite, pierced white paper samplers almost defy the eye even if you're standing in front of them.

Tucker Nichols untitled (2004) installation detail

Ricardo Lanzarini untitled books (2003-2004) installation detail

Alejandro Diaz detail from "works from ongoing series of cardboard signs" (2003-2004) marker on cardboard, dimensions variable

untitled (end of the E line) 2004

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LFL was also crowded Friday night, for two openings, work by Simone Shubuck and Phoebe Washburn, but in this case an overflow crowd only intensified the impact of Washburn's enormous and quite magical installation in the front of the gallery's newly-enlarged space.

Two years ago LFL's smaller, original location on 26th Street was the site of Washburn's overwhelming (literally) first appearance with the gallery. Or was it rather that her installation was the site of the gallery for a few weeks?

Simone Shubuck, vitrine installation view

I'll definitely be coming back for a better look at Shubuck's gorgeous drawings in the inside room. There, because of the size and energy of the very interesting crowd, there wasn't even space to snap a picture, but there are some images of her work on the gallery's site. She and all of us are far better served by the room itself, so you should go if you can, and you'll probably want more than a quick look.

Two wonderful shows.

[image of Shubuck's work from LFL Gallery]


They're still bringing SUVs into the Chelsea streets lined with art galleries, but Friday night outside the Pipilotti Rist opening at Luhring Augustine we found that some of them are less monstrous than others.

Size definitely matters when it comes to parking on a busy street.

[because of the crowd inside that night we decided to go back another day to see the installation]


Only moments before I snapped this picture we had left a restaurant downtown, for a dinner totally unrelated to the third anniversary of September 11. The image is a view from Broadway and Fulton Street of Creative Time's "Tribute in Light," recreated on the edge of the site of the World Trade Center once again yesterday. (note: the partially-completed building to the right is the new 7 World Trade Center, rising on the site where I had worked up to the year before the original was destroyed - fortunately with no loss of life)

The first reminder of the day's significance however was this amazing sandwich board we passed seconds before.


God Bless America
never forget
Kitchen Open
$6 Beer Pitchers All Day
I'm now wondering which image I'm going to remember best.

[apologies for the poor quality of the pictures, but it was very dark, very late and the wine was fine; and no, we never figured out what made the small flecks in the light beams, here seen as wavy lines, although they really made the towers dance last night]

UPDATE: The mystery of the flecks which are visible in the beams of light has apparently been solved. and it's not a feelgood answer. Tom Moody posts an account via Alex (scroll down) that the wavy lines in my photo apparently represent "behaviorally trapped" migratory birds who had become confused by night become day. This was probably not a good thing at all, and it makes me very sad.


New Music.

The sounds would have been new to almost everyone on the planet, even, perhaps, to most of the population of Japan, where the music originated - more than two millenia ago. Zankel Hall was the venue last night for a concert, "Reigaku and Gagaku: A Living Tradition," of traditional and modern music composed for ancient Japanese instruments. The ensemble was Reigakusha.

The entire program was spectacular, but in a very restrained, austere mode.

The visual beauties (faces, instruments, costumes, set, movement) were also compelling, and might actually have been enough of an attraction by themselves.

The performers were mostly quite young and there were more women than men. Two of the four composers represented were also very young, and two were women (amazingly, only a small portion of the evening's program was devoted to traditional pieces). If this musical tradition is timeless it's also become very, very new for reasons only partly dependent upon its exoticism.

Unfortunately this concert will not be repeated in New York (they were at the Kennedy Center in D.C. tonight and they'll be at UC Berkeley September 12), but I'll be back in line the day this company (or any similarly-inspired) announces a return engagement. Next time I'll try to give everone I know a heads-up.

Meanwhile, there are CDs (see their site linked above, or check Amazon for sound samples).

[image from Reigakusha, via the Institute of East Asian Studies]

Nuha al-Radi, detail of a work in a 2002 exhibition in Amman

Writing in "Baghdad Diaries," about the first gulf war and its aftermath, the Iraqi artist and writer, Nuha al-Radi lamented:

The birds have taken the worst beating of all. They have sensitive souls, which cannot take all this hideous noise and vibration. All the caged lovebirds have died from the shock of the blasts, while birds in the wild fly upside down and do crazy somersaults. Hundreds, if not thousands, have died in the orchard. Lonely survivors fly about in a distracted fashion.
Ms. Radi died last week in Beirut. The birds, Iraq and the entire world will miss the wry wit of this great soul.

She seems to have belonged to no one party or culture, but rather to all humanity. The NYTimes obituary describes her as "not overtly political." Certainly no friend of Saddam Hussein's regime, at the same time she saw no great virtue in the destruction wrought by his nemesis:

She was somewhat less than enchanted with Iraq's latest overseers for failing to provide basic security and services, however, describing the new tenants of the presidential compound in an interview with The Times last year in her typically caustically droll manner:

"America is in its ivory tower palace," she said, "We are used to having coups and revolutions. But usually people who stage them take over the country

[image from 4 Walls]

What's wrong with these statements, both of which were reported yesterday by Newsday (in an obscure article devoted to another subject altogether)?

When a caller to his weekly radio show criticized the unusually wide arrest net cast by police, [the Mayor of New York] said: "You can't arrest 1,800 people without having somebody in the middle who shouldn't have been arrested. That's what the courts are there to find out afterward."
In addition, if we look at another quote in the same article, we see that Michael Bloomberg just managed to make himself more look ridiculous when he tried to qualify an earlier assertion of the sort we're more accustomed to hearing from Ari Fleisher or John Ashcroft:
Meanwhile, a visibly exhausted Bloomberg backed away from his remarks Thursday equating anarchists' harassment of delegates with the al-Qaida terrorists.

"Obviously it's not the same level, not the same level of - you probably shouldn't compare the two," he said at a news conference. "But the anarchists are trying to keep you from expressing yourself."

All italics are mine.


From 15th Street and our short glimpse of Pier 57 Barry and I headed down the pedestrian path along the Hudson this afternoon until we reached this exquisite lotus in the Koi pond just above North Cove in Battery Park City. After having to move around under an occupation for a week we were able to appreciate the freedom of the River, the sun and the fresh air more than ever.


It was pretty quiet this afternoon around Marine & Aviation Pier 57, where nearly 2000 people were arrested and detained this week while they were exercising freedoms they imagined might be protected by the American legal system, or, in some cases, just because they happened to be near the police at the wrong moment. The only activity visible today was that of workmen collecting the countless port-a-sans which had been set up inside each of the filthy metal holding pens inside. We didn't get too close.

The nation which is being told that everything went smoothly in New York this week can't be shown enough evidence to the contrary. Another friend and indefatigable activist colleague of ours had a lot to say about on Gotham Gazette yesterday.

I knew they were taking their time and dragging this out as long as possible. I still believed we were being processed and my cellmates were being released. Every 20-40 minutes four names were called on my floor and people were led out. My name is called. I will be out soon. I am led up a flight of stairs into a different cell. A few guys who were first led out are sitting there. They didn’t move along in the system at all. The police seemed to be playing a shell game. Keep us calm and cooperative by making it seem as we are being released when we really weren’t. We call the Lawyers Guild and learn there is only one judge on the bench now and few if any are being released. The word is that we are going to be held until the convention is over Thursday night.
Jon is safe at home now, but like the multitudes who witnessed the assaults by Republican guards on New York streets this week, whether they were zip-cuffed or not, I'm certain he remains an enemy of the fascism which is succeeding in making victims - and activists - of us all.

Sandy Katz, a former ACT UP comrade who served as aide to Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messenger, has sent his friends this account of his own experience with our new domestic order. On Tuesday afternoon he accidently became caught up in the enormous police action which saw 1200 people arrested for the offense of being on the streets of New York. In his own description, written after he was released 23 hours later, never having been arraigned and never having seen a judge or a lawyer, he says he ended up being handed a desk appearance ticket; he has to be back in court in three and a half weeks, "i am charged with disorderly conduct for consorting with an unauthorized gathering of people."

it’s over now. i hate being locked up. i didn’t choose to be arrested, as i have done several times in my life. back in the day the new york police routinely warned peaceful demonstrators to move before placing them under arrest. that was back before dissent was a threat to national security, when it was understood as the freedom to disagree.
Click on the link below this line for the entire story.

completing the Hearst Building

It's probably the most interesting building now going up in New York. That may not be much of a recommendation these days, but seriously, Sir Norman Foster's solution for completing a 75 year-old skyscraper is well worth a detour even as it's still going up.

I've been lucky to be able to visit 7th Avenue and 56-57th Street and watch this column grow all summer.

If you look at the familiar tower of the Empire State Building it rises in a similar fashion, set back from a base the width of a city block, even if in its case the same elegant style is continued throughout its height.

The Hearst Building was never completed after rising only six stories. Today it may finally making up for its deprived youth. Be sure to check out its interesting history on the link above.

Welcome citizens! (wire and flesh, inside the holding pen on Pier 57)

I'm sure we haven't heard the end of the story of Guantanamo-on-the-Hudson, but in the meantime here's a small footnote to the account of what thousands experienced there this week.

The September newsletter from our wonderful New York State General Assembly representative, Dick Gottfried, arrived in our mailbox yesterday. One of the smaller stories is headlined, "What Future for Pier 57?" Until this week "Pier 57" was the name of the large Hudson River dock the NYPD had recently fitted-out to serve as a detention center for its political prisoners.

Gottfried's Community Update must certainly have gone to the press before the mass arrests of this week and probably even before his staff or the general public knew the details of the police department's plans for political protest, yet the short text which appears under the headline manages to send shivers down my spine (I'll explain below):

Pier 57, at West 15th Street, which was most recently a bus depot, is in the process of getting redeveloped as part of the Hudson River Park
But the NYPD has now tasted blood, and it seems to have other plans for the waterfront real estate, according to an article in the New York Post excerpted in the New York Press and appearing here via Bloggy:
The most disturbing bit of information concerning the West Side holding pen, however, was buried in the Post's account. Just a brief mention:

"Cops fear some protesters might hang around after the convention to disrupt other events, like the U.S. Open, so the pen will remain open indefinitely."

The U.S. Open? Other events? Like what, the 3rd Ave. Street Fair? The grand opening celebration at a new Payless Shoe Source in Queens?

In other words, a year-round internment camp is now part of the ongoing West Side development project. Does the Olympic Committee know about this?

The shivers follow my thoughts, stimulated by reading historical accounts and seeing the physical evidence of countless memorial plaques, of improvised holding pens and interrogation rooms created by long-gone 20th-century authoritarian regimes.

If the old Marine & Aviation Pier 57 ever does become part of a park, I want to see an historical marker displayed prominently on the site. I only hope it won't have to describe greater horrors than those already visited on our city this week.

[images from indymedia, by anonymous]

I haven't seen a more sensible and economical description of what is ultimately the only way we will be able to successfully oppose and minimize terrorism than that contained in these few paragraphs by sciminc which appeared yesterday as a comment on a Daily Kos post. The item was actually about ACT UP's appearance yesterday on the Convention floor, and pparently some people were upset that the AIDS activists invaded the Republicans' party. Sciminc has a different take and he establishes it with great common sense, but his larger argument is about how we should deal with terrorism, and the italics which appear below [they're mine here] represent his specific prescription. Again, it's just common sense, but that's a quality not seen much these days.

The Act-Up [sic] protest was very small and not intentionally violent. Most reporters will probably treat it as a colorful addition to the big convention story, or maybe as the lead item in a roundup about the various protests of the day.

If the protests stay at about the same reasonable level that they've been at so far, then, of course wingnuts will froth at the mouth, but everyone else will shrug and say, "Eh, kids."

* If protesters came up with some dignified way to get into the conventional hall and protest the war, or maybe just to honor the war dead, that might be a little bit more effective.

* I think that Kerry's supporters who aren't connected with Kerry's campaign might be able to get some mileage out of this by pointing out that, in the long run, the secrets to fighting terrorism are diplomacy, education and efforts to create goodwill in the world.

There is really intense security around Madison Square Garden, yet these protesters got in. It seems as if Al Qaeda terrorists who got onto the convention cleanup crews probably would have just as easy of time getting in, and they might have done something a lot more violent than just chanting anti-Bush slogans.

Moral: it's important to have the best security that you can afford, but you never can afford enough security to handle all possible contingencies. You can't even imagine all possible contingencies. So, you damn well had better create enough goodwill in the world that decent people around the world who notice suspicious activity will report it to the police.

Good people who sympathize with the conspirators will keep their mouths shut.

protesters raise hands and shout cheers as police bus believed to be carrying arrested protesters leaves a temporary detention center yesterday, heading for another holding tank downtown

They've suspended habeas corpus, so this must be war.

I'm not just talking about the familiar smokescreen created by the "class war!" accusations Republicans lay on Democrats when they try to point out that the GOP is already fast at work at the singleminded task of piling up more and more power and plunder for themselves at the expense of the poor and the middle class. This is more like full civil war, brought to us by an immensely greedy protofascist hierarchy manipulating the stupidity of the pawns they so easily frighten, and demonizing those with the intelligence and the courage to resist. (actually, we're going to need more of both those things, especially to avoid serious violence; we're barely holding on right now)

War will always invite the suspension of liberty, and in the U.S. the assault usually begins with the elimination of the protections of habeas corpus.

This week in New York peaceful protesters, their legal observers, outside reporters, photographers, along with food delivery people, tourists and innocent bystanders were caught up by the web (we call it "freedom fencing," and it's bright orange) laid by an increasingly autocratic regime's 50,000-strong augmented force of uniformed guards.

Many of the brave or merely unluckly people who were trapped, and immediately and effectively branded "enemies of the state," languished, some of them still languishing, within filthy chain-link cages that were topped with razor wire, the "cells" improvised inside an abandoned bus garage on a Hudson River pier. (with hyperbole which may be counterproductive, many have been referring to it as "Guantanamo-on-the-Hudson") Even their names go unreported to anyone outside, and while they are held they are without access to legal cousel, family, friends, even essential medications.

What's it like inside? In fact, what's it like in Manhattan this week? Here's one of the best accounts I've read, by theoria posted on Daily Kos. I would add: If you haven't gone through it yourself or at least been a witness to what's going on here this week, you'll find it hard to believe what you'll read, but it should make your skin crawl nevertheless.

Apparently some or all of these detainees may now have been moved to the prison known during two centuries as "The Tombs," a notorious criminal detention center located Downtown, closer to the courts. Not surprisingly, it's almost impossible to get information anywhere. Did I say it's like war? Some 1800 people have been arrested since last weekend and Newsday reports that from 500 to 700 remain in custody at this time, but the facts are hard to pin down.

Their mothers and families have been gathering at the downtown site, 100 Centre Street. We're very lucky we still have independent judges not appointed for their subserviance to authoritarianism who can still make it hard for self-appointed guardians of [their own idea of] political and moral decency to throw away the keys altogether.

Many of those swept up by the police in the last week were taken in actions even the NYPD describes as "pre-emptive arrest," (sound vaguely familiar?) a plan they hoped would ensure a protest-free environment for our Republican Mayor's guests.

The liberties being defended by the protesters are now being further destroyed by the office of the Manhattan District Attorney's outrageous violation of guidelines which require that no one be held beyond 24 hours before they are arraigned for a serious crime and that the rest must be released with desk appearance tickets. In fact there is every indication at this time that the police will not be releasing many of the people they have rounded up until the Convention is over and its celebrants have been spirited away to wherever it is they came from. Pre-emptive arrest followed by pre-emptive detainment.

Habeas corpus has been suspended indefinitely, and once again it's in the name of security. Too many Americans have absolutely no problem with that. Any moment I expect to hear it officially justified in the name of the War on Terrorism.

But this city has received absolutely no credible warnings about terrorist plans that we have been told about, although it has had at least a year and a half worth of public announements that ordinary people were planning to come to New York for peaceful protest directed against, among other things, the monstrous and moronic policy that makes violence our only defense against violence. The terrorists stayed at home; we got busted, and our liberties were confiscated as well. If the police are massed in Herald Square, Harlem, Chelsea, the East Village and elsewhere this week, it's not to tangle with Al Queda. The enemy is obviously us.

What cowardice has let it go this far?

Democracy Now! put this excerpt of its radio report on its site this morning:

Hundreds of people yesterday protested the conditions under which those arrested are being held before going to court saying the site was contaminated with oil and asbestos. Pier 57 is a three-story, block-long pier that has been converted to a holding pen.

Yesterday morning we received a call from one of the protesters being held at Pier 57 who had smuggled a phone inside. Detainees passed the phone to each other and described the conditions of the holding facility. Democracy Now! producer Mike Burke took the call and spoke with the detained protesters.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has denied the city was operating what some called "Guantanamo-on-the-Hudson." And defended the use of the of the pier garage saying "It's not supposed to be Club Med."

Last night, a judge ordered protesters who had been held for 24-hours released with desk appearance tickets if they were not charged with serious crimes. Before midnight, some protesters started emerging from 100 Centre St. around the block from our firehouse studio. Some 200 supporters greeted them with cheers and offered food and medical treatment. Despite the judge's orders, a large number of protesters remain imprisoned.

for NUMBERS TO CALL, to help the prisoners, see this link

Barry just added a comment below, directing us to a short account from 100 Centre Street accompanied by some awesome pictures, again via Daily Kos. Don't miss it.

outside 100 Central Booking this afternoon

[image at the top is from Yahoo! News, AP photo of Bebete Matthews; second image from theoria, via Daily Kos]

union members on the barricades this afternoon

Thousands of labor union members overwhelmed the "Free Speech Zone" below Madison Square Garden this afternoon, crowding into pens running down to 23rd Street. It was clear they wanted nothing to do with George W. Bush or the Republican Party, even if he and it were the occasion of an extraordinary rally called for the middle of a work week only days before Labor Day itself.

I walked over to see and hear (feel) what it was like. I can share a few images here in this small gallery. They weren't captured easily however, since in the midst of that great crowd I almost lost it. My eyes repeatedly watered with an emotion I can't quite account for, unless it has something to do with the long, painful history of labor and its movement, a history always rejected by much of America and now almost completely lost even to many of its fortunate heirs. Bush is restoring our memory.

just another evening in Chelsea this week

The media has generally been reporting that, except for the immediate blocks abutting Madison Square Garden, the heavy security blanket covering New York in the last week or two rests lightly on the city's neighborhoods. If asked, residents of Chelsea would describe it otherwise. The words, "martial law" come to mind.

I know it may seem that I'm preoccupied with the police presence in my neighborhood this week, I'd like to think that the current state of Chelsea actually represents New York City as a whole (as is pretty much the case usually) more than most people want to admit, but especially as a really frightening foretaste of what may well be in store permanently for our polity, including that of the entire nation.

For the visuals, see this gallery of half a dozen images taken within the last 24 hours.

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