Let’s start with some GOOD NEWS:
Cynthia Nixon will be the Working Families Party’s candidate for State Assembly, competing for the seat with Deborah Glick, who has held the office for 25 years. While everyone I know tells me they are voting for Nixon in the Democratic Primary in September, when Nixon is challenging Andrew Cuomo, it is not certain today if she will win. As a backup position, the WFP decided to challenge Glick based on her role in the power corruption scandal in Albany, and her actual record. Glick was the legislature, bully enforcer for Sheldon Silver, now convicted of corruption and upon his appeal was sentenced to seven years in jail. We will continue to cover this after the September primary.
AIDS MEMORIAL PARK: Oy. It appears the AIDS Memorial Park at the St. Vincents triangle has no supervision from the Park’s department. The Google delivery cadre park their bikes inside the park, gathering together in an almost tribal formation, moving table and chairs to barricade themselves in a circle, and even place the chairs on the grass, resulting in tearing up the green. They are joined by millennials who have moved into the Village who seem to think that they do not have to respect the NO DOGS ON THE GRASS signs, resulting in urine stains discoloring the grass that children run and play in. One neighbor wrote me that he was very upset but reluctant to call the police because most of the delivery bikers are of color. I suggested that he call State Senator Hoylman, who, when he was CB2 Chair, negotiated the transfer of the Rudin land to the Park’s department which resulted in extra height to gain the billion-dollar windfall profit from the ghost condos built to replace St. Vincent’s Hospital.
GREENWICH HOUSE: Well, that dark cloud that has hovered over Greenwich House ever since Roy Leavitt became Executive Director and brought his corporate attitude to what had historically been a settlement house, based on improving the quality of life of low-income families and seniors, has resulted again in a tsunami of fear among seniors. He announced he was going to close the Senior Center at 27 Barrow Street and move all of its activities to the Lady of Pompei Church Senior Center on Bleeker Street and move his corporate offices into the space. There was no advance notice and no involvement of the Senior Center’s elected Advisory Board. The members were up in arms, as the Pompei space, in their view, was not appropriate for the programs that members participate in at 27 Barrow Street. It is difficult for seniors with mobility issues to gain access because the elevator is usually out of order or not attended too. It does not have the home cooked meals that 27 Barrow Street does. Tom Connor, a senior on Community Board 2, who had been for many years Chair of the Advisory Committee at Washington Square North Senior Center operated by Greenwich House told me that Leavitt seems to have little interest in the Senior Centers other than the money line in his budget. Many Barrow members praised the administrator there for his cultural programs. What Leavitt appears to not understand is that seniors today are different from seniors of the past. A sense of self-empowerment is very much a part of the attitude of people coming senior age from the 1960’s. He fails to consult or confer with senior members on changes or problems. Hence, in this case, there was a huge pushback. A rally was held in 90 degree weather on the steps of City Hall with 40 seniors attending. They were welcomed by Speaker Corey Johnson whose district is where Greenwich House resides. Johnson said he would not allow this move. He stopped it, in collaboration with Council Member Margaret Chin, the head of the Council committee on Aging. They bailed out Greenwich House, but people remember when Leavitt pulled the same threat of closing Pompei two years ago when the then Pastor refused to renew the contract because he felt he could get more income from the rental to film companies etc… State Senator Brad Hoylman, with other politicians up for reelection that fall, worked out a deal with the church that cut the Senior Center use of space in half and guaranteed the Pastor a higher rent. Was Leavitt using the threat of closure to squeeze money, again, out of the Department of Aging? Greenwich House’s Board of Directors is mostly made up of executives high-up in Wall Street and the financial sector. One senior who attended a special meeting of CB2’s Social Services Committee, after hearing Leavitt’s failure to be transparent about the actual finances of Greenwich House, asked me if I knew why this powerful Board had not fundraised if there was a real crisis? No one on the Committee asked Leavitt. To me, this is the essential question: is the Board responsible for fundraising? While I share the members’ relief that Johnson and Chin saved (at least for a year) 27 Barrow Street, Leavitt made it clear, with the logic of a corporate bean counter, that he still wants to move forward with the closing of one or more of the senior centers Greenwich House operates.
Karen Finley is a woman not on the verge, but in full, lucid rage at the way women are treated today and what this bully culture has done to all of us. She wears resistance like an intoxicating perfume. A must see and hear performance for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the daily revelations of how the greed coup happened. And what the economic terrorists and the religious, puritan militia, marching towards rapture, are doing as they attempt to destroy the separation between Church and State, seize our bodies, and put the chains of control around us.
Finley teaches at NYU to survive economically. Equally important to her is her role to inspire young developing artists by her own creative performances. She is a role model, taking the risk of being unconditionally honest and speaking, as we say, “truth to power.”
Karen Finley’s latest, engaging performance piece is like taking a cold shower on the hottest day of the year. “GRABBING PUSSY” is mentally, physically and spiritually deeply invigorating. “GRABBING PUSSY “ is a welcome shock to the system and it wakes up feelings that get submerged in defense against the daily, media-saturated reporting on the sociopathic twitter antics posted by an elected liar.
Yes, Diamanda Galas, Citizen Reno, Wanda Sykes, Kathy Griffin, Samantha Bee have been seeding the creative garden of the “fight back” movement, but just in case you think Finley is simply joining the angry women’s artist brigand (well yes, she is, but…), think again. Finley has been at this and in the public eye ever since Jesse Helms and his ilk tried to shut her up years ago. Finley has not disappeared into the ranks of an academic critic, safe in their ivory tower. She is full frontal, in role modeling artist engagement, and in rescuing democracy from extinction in the USA.
Fearless in the face of censorship, Karen Finley, most importantly and skillfully Tai Chi’s self-censorship in a manner that allows her frank vulnerability and razor-tart tongue to penetrate a public fear of fighting back and shouting out. She clearly has chosen a definition of success based on expressing inner feelings and political truth rather than seeking the cash and prizes given when cultural co-optation and media acceptance is criteria for success.
Yes, Finley starts with super-predator, Harvey Weinstein. But then she clearcuts the forest full of the grotesque trees of misogyny and homophobia that Fox News and “hate radio” have planted and infected in our culture on a 24-hour media onslaught.
“PUSSY GRABBER” is for all of us, regardless of age, sexual orientation, gender or race. It is for anyone who wants a better world based on equality and justice for all. “PUSSY GRABBER” is one artist’s intervention to resonate hope and resistance and to remind us that politics actually is a dialectic based on the inner beat of life and is there to get you up, to fight danger, and to build a community based on what we have in common.
Just in case you think this is just one more angry, redhead performance artist, let me tell you, the humanity and joy of being in one’s own body that she starts with, as she literally dances on stage, and also closes with a hip-swaying crowd invitation to stand up and dance, makes clear that revolution has to be fun even when serious. I felt Emma (Goldman and Gonzales) and Rosa and Lena’s spirit’s in the room.
Finley invites us to join her in truth speaking, and to join her in a community of resistance in a serious dance for life.
“PUSSY GRABBER” is essential, political, feminist art! A must see performance to succor the march towards a better world.
© JimFouratt, Cultural instigator, 7.26.18 firstname.lastname@example.org,
227 Waverly Place, 10014