Ban poverty, not soda

If you don’t know what a quarter water is and you’ve never resorted to drinking one when in need of liquid & carbs because 25¢ is all you’ve got, or because in the environment you were brought up in quarter water (or, on rich days, Tropical Fantasy) is what you know … please don’t pontificate on the subject of inner-city dietary choices. 

Ginia Bellafante knocks it outta the park in the New York Times today: “The articulated goal should not simply be to create a population of poor people who are thin, but to create a population of poor people who are less poor. In 2010, the poverty rate in the city remained what it was 10 years earlier, 21 percent. ” AMEN. (Not to mention the poverty rate in NYC of children is 30 percent. Yes. In the 2nd richest city in the world.)

Multi-generational homelessness

This man has been sitting in the same spot for a few days on East 4th Street near First Avenue in Manhattan’s East Village, my neighborhood. He asks for nothing but I noticed him scraping the sides of a jar of something dark, chocolate spread perhaps, with a spoon.

He does not ask passersby for anything, does not initiate interaction. Yet when I asked him if I could take his photo he engaged with me quite readily. He was clearly not a wino or addict, and does not show overt signs of any mental illness.  I gave him the change from my pocket (and would have given more if I could). I told him he is beautiful, because he is.

The next morning on my way to the supermarket, with my two dogs in tow, he was still there. Still scraping the same jar. I picked up a jar of “Vitamin Water,” an apple and a pear, with him in mind. On the way back I said, “I have some things for you.” Again, in his absolutely accepting and gentle manner, he simply smiled and said, “Oh, good!” I asked him how his teeth are doing, are they strong.

“I don’t have too many left,” he said.

“OK, then, the apple is out, but can you eat a pear?”

“If it’s soft,” he answered, “but I have a grater in my bag, I can grate it up!”

I gave him the pear, the drink and some slices of bread from the bag I had just bought for my daughter and me, thinking how organized and skillful a homeless person he is to have a grater in his bag.

“So what are you doing out here?” I asked.

He shrugged slightly. “I’m homeless.”

“Where  do you stay in the winter?”

“I  stay outside. I have warm blankets in my bag.” (In New York City winter temperatures are at or below freezing for months.) Again I thought, “What a skillful man.”

“No family? Where do you come from?” I expected to hear that he has drifted here from elsewhere.

“From Inwood.”


Yes, he answered, he comes from that neighborhood, on the northernmost end of Manhattan.

“Well,” he clarified, “I was raised in Inwood but my family was homeless, too.”

My sweet new friend petted my dogs for a bit. I had to move along. “You take care out here,” I said.

“Oh, I will! I do!”

Islamophobes Butt Out of NYC’s Business

I actually feel like throwing up. I cannot add a comment about this pastor’s opinions and hateful behavior as leader of a spiritual community, I’ll just let his actions speak for him. I am so sad. That is my reaction on a personal level.

But let’s look at this from a legal standpoint. After all, Law is what sets civilized countries apart from barbaric or totalitarian states, right?

I’m tired of the debate with regard to Park51 centering on the Constitution. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Constitution. But people who do not live here have adopted this question of the Park51 community center and made it into a national issue to be scrutinized somehow in the light of Constituional Law.

Well let me help you all out with a *fact*. The Constitution has absolutely no governance over activities in a building in New York City. The only applicable laws would be New York City zoning code. And Park51 is not in violation of anything in New York City zoning code. Therefore … THERE IS NO LEGAL BASIS FOR PROHIBITING THE PARK51 COMMUNITY CENTER FROM BEING DEVELOPED. Period! End of story! Shut up already!

What’s really getting to me is that people who live hundreds or thousands of miles away from Ground Zero, people who have no idea of what works and does not work in New York City, people who would likely refuse to ride the subways here for fear of the density, diversity, creativity, and especially of the racial and ethnic composition of New Yorkers, people who actually couldn’t give a flying fadoodle about New York City and think that it is an evil town full of sinners and criminals … these same people are the ones opining loudly that “the Ground Zero Mosque” does not belong where it is planned and is “insensitive”.

Islamophobes, Butt The Hell Out Of NYC’s Business. Your opinion doesn’t count for anything here. It might seem strange to you, but the closer the polled population lives to Ground Zero, the MORE people think the community center and mosque should just move forward as planned.

This is our home, 9/11 and the aftermath is something we went through first-hand while you watched your TV commentators, and you just have no clue that what makes NYC great and what keeps us all getting along here is that we live and shop and commute and work and pray-or-don’t and send our kids to school right alongside of each other here. All types of us, all colors, all economic classes, all countries of origin, all races, all religions.

Man on Wire!!

If you don’t know who Philippe Petit is, you should. If you know who he is and why he became quite well known 24 years ago, but you have never seen the story of how the hell he accomplished his brilliant “art crime”, and/or have never seen the footage of that remarkable morning, see Man On Wire.

Preferably see it on the big screen while you can if you live within feasible distance of the two (yes, only two) theaters in the country where it is now playing. In downtown Manhattan, it’s playing thru Thurs 12/25 several times a day at the Sunshine Cinema, and then through the 1st there will be two showings per day around lunchtime. It’s also playing at the Opera Plaza Cinema in San Francisco.

Philippe Petit is my hero and that is not a facile declaration. When it comes to naming heros, I heed the Grail Knight telling me, “Choose wisely.” Petit is a special soul on earth at this time. I speak not only of the dazzling beauty of his artform and his sheer guts and willingness to live life instead of simply attempting to avoid death for a bunch of decades. I am in awe of the sheer poetry of his beauty, his speech, his bearing, his being.