Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Voices From Between The Cracks

The Borreros family has lived on 12th Street since the 1940’s.

Andres' grandmother, his grandfather, his father, his aunt Cecilia…

Andres on the stoop

Working hard, raising kids, doing the best they could.  Their apartment rent protected because the government did something to keep working people working in the city and living in affordable homes.

It was the basement apartment where the windows just peeked over the sidewalk.  Andres and his cousins would watch the feet go by.

That was a long, long time ago.

In those days the only visitors to this neighborhood were people driving fast from west to east and then east to west and in between picking up a blow-job or some heroin or whatever it was they couldn’t get except in this neighborhood.

In those days “online” meant the line outside the bordello of a beat-up old building, all the Con Ed guys and all the Telephone Guys waiting for their turn.

And there was no mouse to click to get into the gambling dens – a mouse was still a small rat and if you wanted to enter anything you had to knock. Or know somebody who knocked.

Between those cracks of lines and doors and fast driving cars were families. Like the laundry mat family and the shoemaker family and Olga’s family and the lady who sold fine straw hats but kept no cash in the store and the Open Pantry. And Andres’ family.

All those families? They made a neighborhood. Sure, it was hard growing up but the kids grew up well and when Andres’ grandmother cooked, she cooked for the whole building.

And then, change seeped in through tiny cracks until the cracks were huge. The drugs went inside, the gambling went online and hooking was something you could order with the click of a mouse that wasn’t a small rat.

But Andres’ family was still there. Only now it wasn’t the bordellos or the drug dealers living in between the cracks of a tough neighborhood. It was Andres and his family living between the cracks of a wealthy neighborhood. In prime real estate. Slightly inconvenient to landlords who conveniently forgot how families like Andres kept the neighborhood a neighborhood as crime swirled around them.

Nonetheless, Aunt Cecilia stayed on, working as a front-desk secretary at an animal medical center for 43 years so she could retired, enjoy herself, live out her life in her own home at her own convenience.

But when shit hits the fan between those cracks, it’s like falling into a moving avalanche. Aunt Cecilia got sick. And the short rehab in one of the “best of the worst” nursing home turned into stage four bedsores, a stroke and poor care.

Aunt Cecilia and her friend at dinner

And when that happened the landlord, always waiting for that crack to swallow up inconvenience, insisted rent was not being paid, tenants were not living where they should and eviction was necessary.

And now from deep inside cracks of running back and forth and fighting with the nursing home to give his aunt enough care so she is well enough to return to her own apartment and working on weekends and being denied medical services, all Andres wants to do is make sure his aunt Cecilia gets to die in her own home at her own convenience.

Andres goes to court on October 5th. He is going to fight falling between the cracks. This is what you do when you grow up in this neighborhood and know the cracks are for other things besides hard working people.

Related Posts:

Andres Borreros


Sunday Memories of Rare Friendships: Our Open Pantry, Our Neighborhood

It Was Olga's New York

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday Memories of the Millions of Burgers
And the Millions of Moments

Adrian and Alon came to share another burger with us. 

The millions of burgers, the millions of talks, the million heartbreaks, breakthroughs, wonderment, challenges, and more burgers brought us:

*Unexpected partners
*Living around the world
*Homes built on dreams and home built for dreaming
*Unexpected marriages
*story emerging from words and images and video and talking and millions and millions of nows and...

Announcing the acceptance of the Moed/Garcia Gomez collaboration, Fucking Him to the following festivals:

Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur, Switzerland
Interference Festival, Poland
3rd Ó Bhéal International Poetry-Film Competition, Ireland
4th International Video Poetry Festival 2015, Athens

Related Posts:

Sunday Memories: The Expansion of Family Burgers

Special Announcement:  Hands Across the Waters

The First and the Last

Thursday, September 24, 2015

In the Morning When You Rise
The Sound of Silence Is Waiting

It was never the lack of sound that made quiet.  Quiet was rare space in a corner of the city. 

And there, on a morning corner, was Tom, breakfast in hand, stepping into his own quiet as a city roared around him

Related Posts:

His Ten-Year Love Affair with a Keyboard

The Sound of Silence

In the Still of the Night the Sound of Silence Revisited

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The First and the Last

Photo: D. Shapiro

The John F. Kennedy ferry will soon be retired.  Newer shinier boats will take the place of the old wooden benches, the vinyl floors, the worn boxes holding life-saving equipment.

It was the ferry of childhood escapes and teenage escapades.  It was the refuge from bitter nights and lonely afternoons.  It was the rarest of rare moments when one day in 1977 the captain let a friend and me steer it briefly across the harbor.

The Mariner took many a trip on that old boat to woo and court me.

And for our first journey as a married couple we traveled from this home to another.

Photo: J. Peters

Related Posts:

The Promise

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Walk to Hope Is a Leap of Faith

Once upon a time in 2010, before any of this was possible.

The thing about the walk to hope was that by the time you got to the end and you thought you were about to fall in and drown, your ship came in.

 And, then finally, in 2015...

... you got to take a leap of faith and step onto that ship.

Announcing the marriage of Her New York to the Mariner on the Staten Island Ferry.

wedding picture: Joke Peters

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Rain Delay of Sunday Memories
And Remembering of How It All Began

While recovering from a leap of faith into words never before said, a glance back at the beginning.

Originally posted December 24, 2013

I had met them before.   On a Thursday.

On the same bus.  Avenue A going back up to 14th Street.

Had to run downtown to Florence's.  Stopped to talk with the staff there. Ran into an old friend as I hobbled up the stairs.  Got to the bus stop before the bus got to the bus stop.  Watched them get on at the next stop, clearly miserable in the cold weather, not sure how to get to where they were going, and and bugging the bus driver who finally told them to relax sit down I'll get you there but you gotta let me get there first...

Yeah, I chimed in, you'll be fine -  because travel on the MTA is a group participation activitiy. 

The weekend came.

Had to run downtown to Florence's.  Brought the Mariner with me.  Met with a whole bunch of people. Met a whole bunch of other people last minute.  Visited a neighbor. Stopped by the laundry room to say hi to an old friend, hobbled up the stairs, got to the bus stop before the bus got to the bus stop....

And there they were.  At the next stop.  Definitely enjoying the warmer weather.

We gave them our seats.  And before you know, we're all talking non-stop, yeah they had gotten to New Jersey alright, her former daughter-in-law was in the same anthology series I was, writing about the store her family owned - the one my bubbie used to go into and argue with her distant cousins to give her a better discount, he was a cop in Brooklyn in the 30's, in those days, ok just a short story, but in those days...

...and then of course the question about how long have you been together...

"A year and a half," she said.  "You?"

"Two and a half," we said.


"We met online.  You?"

"At the airport."

Both heading home to Florida after some tough family stuff in New York, the plane got delayed, and the only seat left on the plane was next to him.

She sat down and said, "This is the last time I'm ever flying this fucking airline."

He thought, "Wow what spunk."

And she, 'allergic' to short men, glanced at his legs, and thought, "Wow. Tall."

Which made me and the Mariner laugh because on our first date I yelled at him when he asked if he could kiss me.

He says he said, "Ok.  I'll try later."

I don't remember that.  But I did remember thinking, "Wow.  I get to be myself with this guy."

And he remembered thinking, "Wow.  She's honest."

"I was widowed five years ago, wasn't interested in dating at all," the woman said.

"I'm 90," the man said.  She grinned.

We refrained from going, "AWWWWWW!"  After all, we hate it when the 20 somethings say that to us when we stand on line at Trader Joes.

But looking back at that bus ride, the perfect timing of running into that couple out of the blue again, the storytelling, the intersection of family and history, I guess it shouldn't have surprised either of us when in the middle of a messy house, the cats running around, the sink full of dishes and us in our most comfortable nap-time sleepy clothes, the Mariner got down on one knee...

Related Posts:

Days Like This

Sunday Memories: The Future Look Of Love

Conjugating Love

Part Two: The Look Of Love

Part One: The Look Of Love

Perfect Timing

Jewish Geography

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Documenting the Chapel of Love

The Marriage Bureau was filled with a billion different kinds of wedding dresses and suits, all moving in six different directions depending on if they had just gotten hitched or were off to get hitched.

And swimming and swirling around the billions of wedding dresses and suits were all the friends and families and babies and children and parents and...

...it was a parade of everyone leaping into faith that love, one way or another, would be happily ever after.

Except this kid.

Who didn't swim or swirl.

  He looked.

Which is much more involved than just watching.

We couldn't take our eyes off of him...

... as he stepped into what he was looking at.  His fearlessness.

His mom finally corralled him back to her, but only briefly. 

He saw my camera and reached for it.

So I handed it to him.

His looking and stepping into suddenly made sense.  The kid was a director.  All that he was missing was a camera. 

"He's deaf," his mom told us.

No, not really, we told her.  The camera is how he hears the world.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

House of Mirrors

Another glass building rises.   But old New York shimmers on its windows like a ghost.

Related Posts:

She's Leaving Home

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The East Village as a Roman Ruin
And a Sunday Memory

He was a real tour guide because every time he started talking and pointing, the crowd of cargo-pants-backpack-wearing-camera-snapping people surrounded him, leaning in to catch every word he said, and then the minute he stopped talking, they started snapping pictures at whatever he had just  pointed to.

And at the corner of 1st and 2nd they were snapping pictures of what was once a gas-station.  A place where thousand taxi-drivers - none of them Robert DeNiro, most of them immigrants, all of them working 12-hour shifts currying millions of us around - took brief moments of rest and refueling.  A clean bathroom, some good coffee, friends to catch up with... luxury.

There were rumors around the neighborhood that the corner would become 50,000 square feet of luxury apartments and 7,000 square feet of luxury shops.

It seemed that tour guide was pointing to East Village antiquity - remnants of moments when luxury meant a place taxi drivers could afford.

Related Posts:

EV Grieve: Drilling at Former 2nd Avenue BP Station

EV Grieve: Report of 50,000 Square Feet of Condos Coming to Former BP Station

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Still Fucking New York





After-school program




Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Goldie's Dog Days of Summer

Sometimes things get better.

Like finally feeling safe enough to take a nap by the metal sculpture that at 13, I bought Florence with all the money I had just earned as a summer live-in babysitter. 

Indeed, sometimes things get better.

Related Posts:

Sunday Memories:  Forgetting the Past

The Old Bag

The Exhaustion of Diaspora: Part Five - "It's the Pebble, Not the Stream"

Sunday Memories: Soothing the Savage...Pick Two