So it's Saturday morning on 125th Street and its sunny and warm and everyone is prematurely and optimistically walking around in shorts and white tee shirts, some direct from the gym on the corner, still sweating in workout clothes, and the hair ladies are back outside the subway after a long, freezing cold winter- "you wanna braids, miss? miss? braids?" - five or six of them vying for the business of the women coming up out of the A train, all the way up to Harlem to get their hair done - and I hear a microphone. Or rather, a deep, loud booming male voice speaking into a microphone. Oh fuck, I think. It's those guys again - what do they call themselves? The True Hebrew Israelites? Something like that. I run into them every few weeks - a sect of black men wearing purple dresses, gold jewelry, fake tin crowns on their heads, big rings on each finger - the ones who stand three in row, one man in the middle on a box shouting into a microphone and one on either side of him, arms folded, faces scowled, watching the crowd. They preach loudly about the evils of the White Man Come to Harlem. "They're taking over your home, your block, your neighborhood. We warned you 5 years ago! Did you listen? Did you listen when we told you the wrath of the Lord would come down upon you and the white man? You who are still the white man's bitch?"
I hear this on my way to the subway, and I think, fuck, there goes my Dunkin Donuts coffee. See, Dunkin Donuts is on the other side of 125 and I ain't about to cross the street with my blonde hair and pale skin, probably right into the eye line of the Hebrew Israelites who are getting louder and louder the closer I get to the subway, like they're right around the corner now. Can't quite hear what they're saying, but who else would be talking into a microphone on 125th Street on a sunny Saturday afternoon? See, I'll cross the street to get to Dunkin Donuts and then they'll see me and point to me and call me out and everyone will turn and look at the only white broad for blocks and then I won't be able to decide if I should feel angry or humiliated or ashamed because there is that part of me - that part that thinks they might be on to something.
Fuck fuck. No, I'm not dealing with that today. I'll just go right down into the subway, no coffee, and watch as my caffeine-withdrawal-
induced headache increases exponentially with each of the six stops before I get down to West 4th Street. And when I come up out of
subway downtown - isn't there a Starbucks right across the street? How many blocks away is it? Yes! There's one *right there*, right at 6th Avenue and 8th Street. Fine. I think I can last that long.
But I get closer and the preaching gets louder and I look across the street toward the the Sow Beauty Salon (I swear
)and lo and behold - I see the preacher.
See. turns out that the preaching is not coming from a group of 3 men in purple polyester robes. It's this one guy, an older guy, grey hair, kinda thin, alone, in a tuxedo at 12:30pm, 70 degrees, behind a folding table full of children's bibles, preaching into a microphone, his voice - well, "booming" definitely isn't the word, but it is *amplified* by the little silver box at his feet. Just a man in a tuxedo preaching God's word. No men who hate me and scream into the mic about the white bitch crossing the street right here in Harlem. Just someone selling bibles for kids for $10 each and talking about the love of God.
Alrighty. I can get my coffee. Thank you, Lord. Amen.
i stand corrected
Yeah, let's definitely try to reason with this guy
. Peace is the answer! I'm sure he'd *never* strike us first, and I'm certain he'd
never do it without UN permission. Clearly, we are completely overreacting. Better yet, let's just wait til the next attack. I bet the UN would be on our side then!
Did you click on that link? And were you able to keep your lunch down? Good for you. That makes one of us.
Here's something that's been sticking in my craw (is that how one spells 'craw'?) for a week or so: I recently had an on-line interaction with someone who does not live in NYC but who nonetheless assured me that she does understand what it was like here after 9/11 and who actually seemed to take offense
to my suggestion that she doesn't get it.
Here's the truth: If you weren't here that day or didn't live here in the months immediately after? Yeah, you don't get it
. And you will never
get it. And if I were you, I'd be grateful
In the interest of letting you what it was
like, at least for me, I'm posting a bunch of stuff I wrote during those months. And no, I don't presume to speak for every New Yorker's experience. Just mine. This is what it was like for me dealing with day-to-day minutiae in the wake of a terrorist attack.
And if you'd like to tell me that I have no idea of the horror that's going on in Iraq right now - guess what? I agree. I have no idea. And you
have no idea what it was like here.
Here are the writings.
I met up with my good friend Hadiyah on Saturday afternoon (lifelong New Yorker temporarily transported to Seattle to chill with her grandkids for a year or two) on her much-too-short visit to this coast, and I was thrilled to learn that she'd recently published two essays! So excited was I that I took some pictures
of her, the book and her essays (she chose a first name byline only as the book is about survivors of sexual abuse).
Afterwards, I headed over to the fantastic new Nan Goldin exhibit
and was reminded of why, exactly, I worship her so. If you're in the NYC area and you have any affection at all for photography you must go, and be sure not to miss the slide show in the back room. The whole thing just took my breath away. You can see more of her older work here
Then I wandered around the city. It was a gorgeous day, bordering on (dare I say it?) WARM.
That is all.
click for pictures
it took me 2 hours and 3 trains...
...but I did manage to get out to Coney Island yesterday. Damn weekend subway changes. D train running local, W train running on the N line, N train not running at all, and me on a subway platform somewhere in Brooklyn on Bay Parkway or some shit like that, wondering why I didn't just stay home and alphabetize my CDs.
Maybe it was, like, fate. I got there just before twilight ("magic hour" for all you film dorks out there) with its gorgeous yellow and orange light, and got back on the subway not long after dark and just in time to dodge the guy who was stalking me and my camera up and down the deserted boardwalk.
Everything is still closed for the season - food stands boarded up, rides closed and locked behind gates, and the long, wide boardwalk is quiet and empty except for the occasional jogger running by or cutesy couple holding hands and looking out at the ocean. Oh, and the potential muggers.
It's kinda nice.
click for pictures