I always know when I am starting to slip into the madness again. The voice in my head takes on a British accent. When it speaks to me in Italian I am just mildly perturbed, Spanish - just kinda off. But when that skull crashing union jack takes over, it's time for the looney bin. I know this sounds too rational for confinement, but keep in mind that just a few sentences ago I did say, “voice inside my head”. All my favorite Beat poets spent some time in a padded cell, so I feel no shame in needing a straight jacket or two. But, I wish I could claim it was the byproduct of too much time in the darkroom or staring to far into the lens. To be perfectly honest, it's reality that's driving me crazy. The reality of Amy Goodman whispering to me the secret doings of ALEC on my podcasts in the morning. The reality of wondering if the kids down the street are now counted among the staggering 31 million American children living in poverty. The reality that mother nature is tiring of our abuse and has started fighting back with wilder storms and deeper droughts. The reality of Dick Cheney on a book tour instead of under the basement of the Hauge doing 30 to life. The reality that we are losing a whole generation of American graduates due to our inability to overthrow our corporatism mindset. These little things just keep tickling in the back of my mind no matter how much I serf the People magazine website or rabidly watch TMZ. I can not get that cockney accent from reminding me that as a nation we are tripping down a path of no return. Pushed and prodded from the right by Republican politicians with a burning hatred in their eyes, and continuously let down on the left when we HOPE for the support of our weak willed Democrats. It’s enough to make anyone paying attention wonder if they are the first, or the last, to give into the insanity.
Faces of the Great Recession, the latest photo series by photographer Ijeoma D. Iheanacho, is opening at the Art for Change Gallery April 15th. As part of the Art for Change exhibition, Faces of the Economy, this series brings into focus the human beings behind the statistics:
“Everyday the news tells us the unemployment rate as some percentage that is just hovering under 10%. But, who is that 10%? Who are those Americans that have had their American Dream derailed by the Great Recession? In this series I am presenting the stories of the 10% through the efforts of the non-profits working to help them hang on to some semblance of their dreams. This series serves a three prong effort: to make the public see beyond the statistics, to give voice to the citizens that are not being heard by our politicians, and to provide information to others going through a similar situation by linking them to the organizations that are working to help them. The series focuses on the non-profit organizations and the community of people it serves. I hope to make each viewer think of the people behind the headlines and tie the struggles of its citizens back to the hopes of the country. While the Great Recession is technically over on paper, its affect on the lives of ordinary citizens will be felt for generations. As the coverage moves from Wall Street to Main Street, we need to look at the discussions being held around the kitchen tables of America. Faces of the Great Recession is a look into not only the problem, but also the solutions and courage that can stand as a reminder that the next Great Generation may be in the making and the American Dream can still be a reality for those not yet awakened from the nightmare of the Great Recession. “
Please join us at Art for Change to view the Faces of the Great Exhibition. Art for Change is located at 1699 Lexington Avenue (between 106th and 107th Streets). The opening is Friday, April 15th, 7-11pm with a closing reception and artist dialogue Saturday, July 9th 7-11pm.
I love walking through these streets anonymously. Drifting through the crowded sidewalks like a spirit pulsating to the rhythm of the city. The glare of the lights giving form to my features and the noise of the traffic is my only voice. The slap-slap and tap-tap of the 16 million feet on the pavement playing on my iPhone. Gliding through the lights of the night and slipping through the shadows of the day. I can hold the city’s pulse in my heart and reach out my finger tips to stroke the pulses world wide: Tokyo, Rome, Lagos, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Cape Town, Seoul, Mumbai, Jakarta! Fingertips pulsing and heart beating, the beats align - for one blinding moment we are all connected and moving to the same beat of the street. Human to human - children of whatever deity we choose to give thanks to. We all feel the grind and the pleasure of rubbing against each other. The heat of the friction binding us to the common goal - make it to the next day, see another sunrise, give in but push back. Slip back into that night and that welcoming front door that is the portal in, and out, of our urban experience.
It’s always funny being this little voice thinking - maybe if I scream loud enough the city may hear me. It might even pause for one brief moment and look me in the eye. Acknowledge my presence and remind me that I exist. I can stop being that creeping shadow, sliding through the bright streets, cutting into tourists pictures so someone will note that I was here, I walked these streets. Bill and Margie will grumble to their friends in Bends Oak, Tennessee - oh those New Yorkers are so impatient, this one couldn’t even pause for a moment to let Dad snap the picture. So busy in the big city, so busy. In Bends Oak I’ll be noticed, but its the tender attentions of New York City all us transplants crave for. Name in lights, top of the towers fame. The glitz of the paparazzi, the familiar winks of the maitre d’s. That’s the New York we have all come for. We don’t prepare ourselves for the stench belched out of the Port Authority or the cruel elbows of the truly busy natives when you just don’t move fast enough. The heart break that follows the shattered dream is the worst and the best thing to happen to all us hopefuls. It makes us face the mirror and either jump the bus home or dig in deeper and fight back. Claws out, teeth bared, those of us that stay are up for the fight. Even if we have to take half of SoHo with us, we will make it here. “Make it” gets redefined every couple of years from name in lights, to name on mortgage (Yea! I own a piece of the city!). But the battle scars are worth it, when that one glorious morning you wake up (or stumble home) a Native!
Are we listening or thinking anymore? Have we turned such a deaf ear that we can no longer see the humanity in each other? How can a group of people participate in the beating of woman because of her political views? This is still the United States of America, right? By now we have all seen the video of young woman from MoveOn.org being thrown to the ground and trampled by Rand Paul supporters after a debate in Louisville, Kentucky. From the latest reports the Rand Paul campaign has distanced itself from the ring leader of the beating. Great, but my question is, where does the responsibility lay for putting this group of people in such a mind state that they would literally beat a person for disagreeing with them. This election cycle has been so riddled with hate speech and violence, that I am not really surprised that it has brought out the worst in its participants. When you can have someone like Sharron Angle call for a 2nd Amendment solution to her possible defeat, the envelope has been pushed to bursting. In the next couple of days this country is going to feel the turmoil of an election that will further divide a country already at a breaking point. We don’t have to agree, but we at least have to listen to each other. We have to meet each other with facts not anger. We need to rely on mutual respect for each other’s humanity to keep us from delving into violence. Both sides feel as though the other side is misguided, and both sides feel neglected and misunderstood. When defensive meets defensive, nothing gets done and the futures we are trying to save continue down the path of ruin. Each and every American on both sides are fighting for the future of the country, but I ask that we keep it a clean fight. So when your politician du jour releases an inflammatory statement or commercial, stop the blood rage and listen to what the person is actually saying. Finally, think: is this person really going to lead the country to a better future? That answer is for you to decide. That vote is for you to cast.
Nothing is more unforgiving than the New York night. You always start with the hopes for a fun night - good music, good food, good company. Half way through, the reality of it hits - the trek to the subway was killer in six inch heels, “he” showed up but turned out to be a moron, and worst of all - the band sucks! The most agonizing moments are felt from the instant you are ready to leave and the moment you can duck out. Whether you are waiting for a girlfriend to make her play for her “he”, or you are being polite and not deserting the host like everyone else. You find yourself itching for the door and sweet escape down the three flights of stairs you cursed all the way up in those six inch heels. When you finally make your getaway you slip off the heels and bust out the flip-flops and reclaim the night. The mystery and depth of a street you have never been down calls to you making you decide to take a subway from a further station because you have never seen this part of the city in such a brilliant glittering darkness. You forget about your inane “he” and start wondering about the guys sleeping on the benches. You crane your neck to catch the glow of the moon and street lamps off the prewar buildings and catch glimpses of the modern kitchens the new occupants have crammed into them. It’s at these moments the New York night breaks your heart. With all certainty you know your place in this metropolis. It is small. No matter how much we beg, plead, shout and chest thump, the night will reduce us to the worshippers we are. It will shake us from the dream we are trying to create for ourselves and place us back into the reality of navigating puddles and cobblestones. With heavy hearts we finally descend the subway stairs and like all little ants in their ant hills - we march home.