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Notes From Around New York


Friday night the cops’ interest in passers through the Canal Street boundary line cooled a little. Still we had trouble getting our speakers in for the panel discussion we were doing on Walker Street — they’d been at a peace vigil at Times Square with some 4,000 other people, and had been herded into a trap by the police up there.

There were hoards of Mormons cruising the streets, heading deeper into the deserted downtown from the boundary line. They were handing out tiny brochures to anyone who made eye contact. Soul-vultures. It was another night when the air got as bad as Quebec City during the April protests. It smelled just like tear gas, like a shower curtain on fire. One of the speakers we invited began her segment by saying it smelled just like Gaza, and that we should remember there are parts of the world where people live with this kind of smell every day.

Central Park

There are so many things in Central Park to heal the soul. Dogs, kids, saxophone players, middle-aged rollerbladers dancing, popsicles, horses. Usually meetings of tango, capoeira, African drumming, and other groups, but Central Park was a little quiet under the smoky marine layer yesterday. One tenacious group of breakdancers was performing at the southeast corner outside the park. They stood on their hands and held their legs like hieroglyphs above their heads, a testament to the continuing strength of our bodies.

There was only one candle at the John Lennon memorial yesterday, alarmingly low for the most cluttered shrine in the city. This, combined with the knowledge that radio stations were being asked not to play Imagine and any number of other songs (not to mention the fact that Leonard Peltier, Phillip Berrigan, and other activists in jail have been segregated from other inmates since the attacks) made me worry what kind of crackdown is afoot. Then I realized the asphalt around the memorial and for yards down the paths leading to it were splattered with candle wax.

Upper West Side

I saw Tom Hanks walking down Amsterdam yesterday evening. His face had worry lines all over it, as I guess it might if you’d been making a lot of epic war movies and something like this happened.

Sunnyside, Queens

Sunnyside is completely placid and quiet, and was even as the towers collapsed, and for days afterwards.

The Bronx

My friend Natalie has a cousin in the Air Force, whose husband is also in the Air Force. The cousin, a cheerful girl who I knew from work, just found out she’s pregnant but isn’t talking to the family. Natalie also has a brother who is itching to go over and fight. Natalie doesn’t want a war. She doesn’t even want to talk about this anymore.

The Subway

Someone tried to push a former co-worker of mine onto the subway tracks because she looks Muslim.

My own biggest fear: anthrax. I am always watching for people about to drop lightbulbs.

I guess I stay up this late and write because I don’t know if I’ll be able to tomorrow.

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