Monday, October 30, 2006

come what may, chelsea remains united for peace

regardless of what happens in tuesday's mid-term elections, tuesday evenings remain the weekly chelsea stands up against the war. please consider joining with your friends and neighbors at 6pm at the corner of 8th avenue and 24th street.

its past newsletters and further information about this grass-roots effort can be found in pdf format at

For further information contact chelsea neighbors united to end the war at:

P.O. Box 821
JAF Station
New York, NY 10116-0821
join its listerv:

michael j fox = déjà vu

it was so moving to hear michael j. fox’s interview with george stephanopoulos this morning on the abc news program “this week.” fox’s comments came in the wake of rush limbaugh’s tasteless mockery of fox’s dyskinesia (the rocking motion exhibited by fox at a press conference related to effects of medications to alleviate parkinson's disease). as a veteran of act up/new york and late 80s/early 90s aids activism, the brouhaha surrounding limbaugh’s comments—and the larger issue of fox’s activism—dredged up painful feelings about that previous battle.

first off, limbaugh’s behavior in response to michael j. fox’s medical condition was so reminiscent of the ignorant and deadly aids humor of the early 1980s (such as the “aids diet plan").

as someone who participated in civil disobedience actions at a variety of venues related to the aids pandemic—including the centers for disease control and the food and drug administration—the outrage of fox over dubya’s veto of hra 10 (legislation in support of stem cell research) hit particularly close to home. fox rightly questioned how he could have exercised the one veto of his presidency on that important bill. vividly, that brought back the various struggles of aids activists and our supporters in the fight for proper funding!

bravo to fox’s comments to katie couric on october 26: “we don’t want pity. i could give a damn about rush limbaugh’s pity or anyone else’s pity. i'm not a victim. i'm someone who’s in this situation. i'm in this situation with millions of other americans, whether it’s like i said, for parkinson’s, or alzheimer’s, or als, or diabetes or spinal cord injury or what have you. and we have a right, if there’s answers out there, to pursue those answers with the full support of our politicians.” how grateful i was to hear those words. it was a tremendous struggle to counter our categorization in public discourse as “aids victims.” on the contrary, we demanded the empowerment that came with being called “people living with aids” or “people living with hiv.”

fox’s support of senate candidates claire mccaskill in missouri and benjamin l. cardin in maryland—as well as gubernatorial incumbent jim doyle in wisconsin—reminded me of our fights as aids activists with such vanquished hate-mongers like bill dannemyer, robert dornan, robert bork, and jesse helms. "what you do in missouri matters to millions of americans—americans like me," implored fox. i couldn’t agree more. and how comforting to hear those words from the man who played alex p. keaton—the outspoken conservative in the 80s sitcom "family ties."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

manifesto of culinary mutiny

former policy wonk sandor katz has struck a blow against the food industrial complex with his new book, “the revolution will not be microwaved: inside america’s underground food movements.” taking on 'big food,' it profiles grassroots activists—ranging from community-supported local farmers to raw milk producers forced to fly under the radar of big government—who challenge the way we think about food. katz's guidebook can help us find our way out of the corporate food maze and take direct responsibility for our own health and nutrition. noted activist historian howard zinn points out that this resource allows us to see food with all its social and economic ramifications, to say nothing of its consequences for our health.

retailing for $20, katz is selling books for $15.95. order them online at and do check out the rest of sandor's illuminating site that attempts to propel more live-culture foods out into our culture. make eating well an act of civil disobedience!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

kristallnacht anniversary 9-10 november 1938-2006

[monument on the former site of the neue dammtor synagogue in hamburg, germany, destroyed during the reichskristallnacht or "schandung am 9 november 1938" as so described]

early in 1938, the polish government gave its citizens living abroad for more than five years until october 31 of that year to receive a special stamp in their passports. failure to do so would result in loss of their polish citizenship. polish jews attempting to obtain those special stamps were denied them: approximately 50,000 polish jews were to become stateless as a result. germany was home to 17,000 of these unfortunate people—many of whom had lived there for decades, including decorated german veterans of world war I. not wanting to be saddled with 17,000 stateless Jews, on october 27-28, 1938, the nazi government cruelly rounded up those people and dumped them in freezing weather in a no-man’s land on the german-polish border—not wanted by either country. (german authorities finally persuaded the polish government to relent.)

hershl grynszpan, 17 year old son of one of these uprooted families, was living in paris. furious at the expulsion and pauperization of his family (who had lived in hanover), grynszpan had resolved to assassinate the german ambassador. on november 7 he went to the german embassy where he shot and fatally wounded ernst vom rath, its third secretary (and ironically an anti-nazi).

in the wake of vom rath’s death (and using that event as a pretext), the nazi leadership and its minions sprang into action with a “spontaneous” and deadly attack on germany’s already besieged jewish community. because of broken windows from destroyed jewish-owned shops that littered the streets of cities throughout germany, the rioting, destruction and terror of november 9-10 came to be known as kristallnacht. damaged, and in many cases destroyed, were 1,574 synagogues (nearly all those found in germany), many jewish cemeteries, more than 7,000 jewish-owned shops, and 29 department stores. upwards of 20,000 jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps (where some died) and the number of jews killed in the violence is usually cited at 91, though it is doubtful that number is accurate.

this opening salvo of what was to become the holocaust found thousands of german jews lined up at consulate after consulate in a vain attempt to escape. no country wanted them. furthermore, the german government found jews “responsible” for these events—being held legally and financially responsible for the damages incurred by the pogrom. the german jewish community was assessed a fine of 1 billion marks for the slaying of vom rath. six million marks paid to jews by insurance companies for broken windows was to be given to state. In the weeks after the terror, anti-jewish laws were enacted exponentially.

yet even in those dark days, there were other voices. In the wake of the kristallnacht’s horror, father bernard lichtenberg, provost of berlin’s st. hedwig's cathedral, offered public prayers for the jews. he later died in transit to dachau. when arsonists set fire to berlin’s oranienburgerstrasse synagogue, wilhelm krützfeld, a non-jewish police officer, called on the local fire brigade to save the building by courageously citing the building’s landmark status.

Monday, October 23, 2006

fred tomaselli

[untitled, 2000, photocollage, acrylic, leaves, pills,
insects, resin on wood panel, 84 x 120 inches]

catch the current fred tomaselli show at james cohan gallery before it closes november 11th. his high-octane paintings offer a dazzling display of cut-outs from fashion magazines, medical texts, and ornithological guide books—layered with plants, pills, and paints. encased in high-gloss resin, his conflations of hi-low cultural references radiate an intense optical overload. in the current body of work, tomaselli draws in to examine the flora and fauna that inhabit his landscapes. the profusion of images has the effect of altering the world as we know it and creating a new ecstatic reality in its place. fred is long overdue for a solo exhibition in new york: his last was in may 2003.

oct 6 - nov 11, 2006/james cohan gallery/533 west 26th street,
new york ny 10001/t 212.714.9500 /f 212.714.9510
/tuesday-saturday, 10 - 6 pm/

what will happen in our midterm elections?

a picture i took at the protest march here in new york during the republican national convention of 2004... the quagmire in iraq and its resultant death toll are worse than we could have ever imagined. just imagine, should democrats regain control of the house, the following members of congress could seize various committee and subcommittee chair positions: barney frank (financial services), henry waxman (government reform), tom lantos (international relations), john conyers (judiciary), louise slaughter (rules), nydia velazquez (small business), dennis kucinich (education & workforce), jerrold nadler (judiciary), and eleanor holmes-norton (transportation & infrastructure).

Sunday, October 22, 2006

la-la land 2

an image almost as insane as the peronist posters on buenos aires streets in 2001: the juxtaposition of these two posters during the 2001 berlin municipal elections found in one of that city's easternmost precincts. one represents the ndp neo-fascists while the other the reconstituted communists of the pds. such a difficult thing to do: let go of discredited ideologies. as to the gentleman pictured in the pds poster, herr gysi seems (according to articles i've read) a most interesting and not-so-bad guy. such a pity he was in the wrong party. this juxtaposition is not so improbable as it looks: during the final years of germany's weimar republic, the nsdap (nazi) and kpd (communist) representatives in the reichstag voted the same way quite often in an effort to destroy german democracy. one great example was the Heinrich Brüning government's proposal for the construction of the autobahn to ease the suffering german unemployed. from the extreme right and left, both the nazis and communists defeated the proposal as it would have delayed their respective "revolutions."

la-la land

juan and eva peron--their images pasted all over buenos aires... hmmmm... 1946? 1948? 1950? nope. july 2001. you've got to be kidding. ironically, the week that i took this photo, the buenos aires herald reported that representatives of "right-wing," "left-wing," and "centrist" peronists met for the first time since the 1960s

estadio nacional

this is the national stadium in santiago, chile, pictured in july 2001. i dare say the billboard outside it is eerily appropriate. see the snow-capped andes just behind this hallowed ground and ponder that they were among the last sights of those doomed by pinochet's coup.


this scene at the end of the s-bahn 1 line seemed unreal to me... the terminal designation indicated by the clock-box post shows "wansee." this juxtaposition, pictured in 2002, is unthinkable. oranienburg was one of the earliest torture centers of the third reich, while wansee was the site of the infamous 1942 conference and protocol that delineated the "final solution of the jewish problem" (genocide of european jewry). the berlin S1 line is indicated, on their mass transit maps, and physically defined as oranienburg-wansee--the way new york's A line is with inwood-207 street/ozone park-lefferts boulevard.

our own places of horror

maybe, at some point, we'll be able to exit the subway at herald square (our new york equivalent of this pictured location outside berlin's KaDeWe) and see a sign in english listing selma, my lai, wounded knee, the trail of tears, tule lake, manzanar, tuskegee (the name of the infamous untreated syphilis study), and other place names--the sound of which makes thoughtful americans shudder.

11 september 2001

la chascona

[la chascona: the santiago, chile, home of
nobel-winning poet pablo neruda]

please check out the glorious work of these writers: steven cordova, ron drummond, scott hightower, rosa maria arenas, and peter covino.

steven cordova’s poems are forthcoming in Expanding Borders: The New Latino Poetry, Zone 3, and BorderSenes (University of Arizona Press, 2007) and have appeared in Barrow Street, Calalloo, The Journal, Northwest Review, and Terra Incognita. His chapbook, Slow Dissolve, was published in 2003 by Momotombo Press.

ron drummond's first collection of poetry, Why I Kick At Night, was the winner of the 2004 portlandia group chapbook contest

scott hightower’s third collection, Part of the Bargain, received Copper Canyon Press’s 2004 Hayden Carruth Award. he lives in New York City, is a contributing editor to The Journal and Barrow Street, and currently teaches at NYU/Gallatin and Drew University in New Jersey. scott currently is toiling on translations of the poetry of the Spanish-Puerto Rican poet aurora de albornoz.

rosa maria arenas’ poetry has been published in such venues as Currents from the Dancing River: Contemporary Latino Fiction, Nonfiction & Poetry and Nosotras: Latino Literature Today.

peter covino was born in Italy and educated there and in the States, where he earned an M.S. degree from Columbia School of Social Work; currently he is a Steffensen Cannon Fellow in the Ph.D. Program in English/Creative Writing at the University of Utah. covino is also the author of Straight Boyfriend, winner of the 2001 Frank O'Hara Chapbook Prize; his poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Columbia, The Journal, The Paris Review, Verse, and The Penguin Book of Italian American Writing. he is one of the founding editors of Barrow Street and Barrow Street Press.