I like New York!

Got in to NY the past Monday night. A ridiculous flight plan through Phoenix and Chicago finally got me to Newark at 11:30. Waited a while for a bus and rode in to midtown Manhattan with a Chinese fellow who regaled me with tales of his family’s financial deals at home. He’s here to study business at NYU for a year and a half and then go back and join the ascendent Chinese bourgeoisie who are rapaciously exploiting every contract and development they can insert themselves into…

News from Mexico continues to keep us all breathless with curiosity and hope. Just got sent a link to a very impressive website in Oaxaca. Here, for those of you who have visited Oaxaca as a tourist, is a shot that you may recognize, just to the side of the Zocalo, littered with the camping gear of the occupying teachers after they were attacked in July by police and troops.

For fans of historic photos of Mexican revolutionaries this pic will resonate too:

Visiting New York for a week is always a blast, even if it means bleeding money everywhere you go. I’m staying with Chris W., one of my oldest friends, and it’s been sweet to hang out and talk late into the night, drinking and commiserating over the craziness of our respective lives and the larger world we’re still kicking in… here we are last night in a bar in the lower East Side after the talk I gave at Bluestockings on my forthcoming book:

I had a chance to visit Times Up! and Bill D. filled me in on the crazy politics they’ve been enduring ever since the Republican Convention in August 2004. The cops have been using Critical Mass as something to experiment on, using all kinds of ridiculously overheated and heavy-handed repressive tactics. Just a couple of weeks ago, after losing badly in court over their ongoing criminalization of CM, they took the judge’s admonition about the vagueness of their policies to try to invent new rules that if implemented, would blatantly jettison the right to assemble. They proposed rules that would make it possible for any clot of bicyclists riding on the street to be declared an illegal assembly and arrested. They also had some draconian ideas about how many people could walk together on the sidewalk without the police department’s explicit permission. A serious resistance was quickly organized by dozens of people and groups and they held a public forum on the proposals last week. The next day the cops withdrew their plans, claiming they realized on their own that they needed to be reworked. What a coincidence!

Here’s Bill and I, each blaming the other for all the “troubles caused by Critical Mass” in New York!

I borrowed a lovely folding bike from Times Up! to bomb up the center of Manhattan at rush hour (always an exhilarating thrill, dodging in and out of the crazy NY traffic and peds) before turning west to the great bikeway they’ve got now along the Hudson River. Along Houston near the Times Up! HQ, in Brooklyn around 5th and Park, and this spot on the Westside bikeway I came up on these memorial installations. Very arresting and effective monuments to the otherwise ignored deaths and mayhem suffered by bicyclists in urban traffic all the time.

It was a gorgeous ride south along the Hudson. Here’s the view from one of the new piers they’ve put in for public use.

Of course I had to bring along some blue tape and stickers to leave my mark on Manhattan. Here’s one of the installations I implanted while riding around, on 12th and Broadway:

Yesterday we went off to the new expanded MOMA (just like every other museum I’ve been in lately–sterile, white, boring, huge) to see the fantastic DADA exhibit. Incredible to see so many important works together. I liked how they organized it by city, so there are rooms for Zurich, Cologne, Berlin, Hannover (mostly Kurt Schwitters in this part, whose works I’d seen a lot of a couple of years ago in Basel, Switzerland), Paris, and New York. Many striking images, from a super delicate airbrush painting by Man Ray to a whole wall of wild Max Ernst, great pieces by George Grosz, and much more. Having been around a great deal of collage work, as well as a lot of typographic play and experimentation over the years, it’s fascinating to see how much is derivative of the Dadaists… most of the handbills and posters that we’ve put together over the years owe a great deal to the aesthetics and techniques they pioneered.

Tomorrow morning I am on the train north along the Hudson, enroute to Blue Mountain Center. Will post some purty pictures from there before too long, and maybe share some stories from the exciting synergies sure to erupt among the 14 attendees at the next session there.

6 comments to I like New York!

  • Jen Benepe

    I came and listened, and I like what you said. I’ll be writing it up myself once I can get my software to work again after that horrendous blackout we had on Saturday. Amazing how we come to depend on modern day amenities, including DSL.
    A mention about Oaxaca. I have some dear friends there, and spent five months there 2 years ago (2003 to 2004). I have written to them about the goings on, and they seem rather ho hum about the whole thing, and I can see it from their point of view: the zocalo is occupied with huelgas (strikes) about 200 days of the year. They just want that dirty, no good for nothing, corrupt, vote buying governor out of there.
    Hope to see you again when you breeze back through NYC
    Jen B

  • South Bronx Ride

    Action is the antidote for despair!
    Earth First!

    People’s Environmental Tour of the South Bronx

    Riders with stacks in background.

    Now in its tenth successful year, this innovative event is an example of a sustained partnership between Time’s Up! and Friends of Brook Park of the South Bronx.

    This is really a trip on the wild side for a unique view of what is world-renowned as the “South Bronx.” A leisurely tour that includes beautiful natural wonders of the waterfront, community gardens and art, and historic places. Depending upon the season and time of year, the ride will feature fresh mulberry picking on Randall’s Island, free canoe paddling, or some other environmental conscious-raising activity. On this trip participants of all ages are made aware through actual site visits of polluting fossil fuel power plants and gargantuan waste transfer facilities that litter our rivers’ shores. Alternatives to the existing government policies are brought to everyone’s attention, with post-ride action steps including promoting demonstrations, letter writing, and email campaigns.

    TIME’S UP! provides critical outreach and promotion for this ride and early support has led to significant growth in attendance as well as continued support and involvement with the important efforts of Friends of Brook Park by ride participants. FoBP offers a video for further information about local organizing campaigns against pollution and unjust land-use siting issues.

    Ride leader: Harry Bubbins.

    Kids and others on the People’s Environmental Tour of the South Bronx.
    South Bronx People’s Environmental Tour Sat, Sep 23rd, 11:00 am, Meet at Brook Park, 141st Street and Brook Avenue, the Bronx
    See the calendar for a complete list of events

    Meet at 12:30 p.m. at Brook Park, 141th Street and Brook Avenue, the Bronx

    Join the growing coalition working diligently to protect and preserve our green open space on Randall’s Island, and to gain greater access to this enormous resource for the South Bronx, East Harlem, and citywide communities. Click here to check out their latest PowerPoint presentation.

  • Me

    Pic of you and Bill form TU! is historical!!!

  • =v= How did you like the Downtube? Ain’t it a peach?

  • Commie Curmudgeon

    P.S. I was going to write a longer message and also correct a typo, but a cat jumped on my lap, knocking over the trackball, which apparently caused the accidental sending of my message before its time. (That may sound incredible, but that’s exactly what happened!)

    Anyway, I hope I didn’t end up sounding too curt (and therefore possibly dismissive, which I didn’t mean to be – although maybe cranky as I often am). I mentioned your talk and other stuff in that series over in my blog tonight.

  • Commie Curmudgeon

    Well, I was going to see your talk over at Blue Stockings (as I’d been telling one of the organizers, Kevin), but I didn’t make it in time. Oh, well.

    As I mentioned in one prior comment, here in my present neighborhood, Mott Haven, or the southern part of the South Bronx, there seem to be some interesting projects going on, and there’s at least one “environmental tour” coming up, tied in with Times Up.

    I “partied” with some of these Times Up people back in the heyday of Reclaim the Streets. I found that more interesting then this business of riding around in big groups on bicycles, but maybe I just don’t get it. As I’ve said, I hate polluting, energy-guzzling cars too; that’s why I walk a lot and take the subway.

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