Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dream. Real. Hard.

First to arrive this morning is the fire alarm guy. Following up on Verizon’s work yesterday, within an hour his work is done and our fire alarm system is fully up and running again.
Deacon James comes in on his way back from the hospital. Says he thinks maybe he’s doing his daily clean up too early becasue by the time he comes back from his hospital trips, things are messd up again already.  He’s beginning to feel that maybe it’s time to look into senior housing. There is no one more constant and faithful than James. He’s been there from the snow storms if winter  into the heat of summer. 
Then Luis drops by along with Pete. To talk about the church. And I tell him how much I have appreciated his leadership, his wisdom, his ability to organize and direct a team of people through a task. Whenever we have needed someone, Luis has been there. As well as being a strong male presence in a church world of mainly women. He has been the essence of elder.
Marc and Sarah arrive to talk about their campaign plan for the Centre. Ted and Mim, John and Katherine, Hope and I are all there. They’ve done some very creative thinking about how to use the upcoming Woodshed time and the next months as a way to ramp up to our gala.  They have come up with a proposed logo. To Ted, it looks like the Altria logo and to me like the Bolivian indigenous peoples’ flag. This will need to change, cool as it is. (I’ve always liked that flag...)

Bolivian wiphala: indigenous peoples' flag

Best of all, though, is the tag they’ve come up with: Dream. Real. Hard. Lots of resonance.    Echoes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A desire to be authentic, present. And to be tough and determined in pursuit of that dream. They want to get it up on the scaffolding. As soon as possible. And have a connection to the scaffolding company to make it happen. 

Strange..during the meeting, I keep getting people come in who want to sing...first a middle aged woman who wants a choir, then Caleb, a young African-American Presbyterian new to the city....classically trained baritone...
Hope and I wrap up some business and send out an e-mail letting everyone know about the sign idea, the tag. Then Marsha arrives to start in on the many thank yous  due to so many for our concert series. Stephen stops in and we have a good conversation about Woodshed’s speakeasy, as a theatrical appetizer for their upcoming play. And how to cover all necessary bases. 
It’s time to go. Human being is asleep again on the steps.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Until my change has come

On the steps, this morning, two cardboard beds. Has someone joined human being? Has warm weather increased homelessness on the streets, on the steps? Warmer nights? Sleeping outside? It’s time to catch up on sweeping, take care of accumulated stuff.
Jane walks me back from Starbucks. The bottom line is, we are called by God to our congregations. At any given point, that is our first commitment. All the visions, all the adaptive use, exciting programs are meaningless if there is no living congregation in the house. There would be as Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, no there there. 
Woodshed volunteers are showing up to empty out the rooms, carrying boxes filled with books, papers, detritus of years to be safely stored away.
Jeremy Mage walks in from across the street. Ready to play the piano. I’m working away in the office while he’s cranking out gospel music. Jane calls from the Taco truck. Wants to bring her new assistant over for a tour. And I say sure.  She arrives. The basement is new, so I take her down, being careful of her newly healed foot. I go back to work, leave them to check out the building on their own. 
A little while later, I hear Jane’s voice. Jeremy is playing, she is singing...his eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me...they try some other song then reaaly settle in on hold on until my change has come..They’ve both been COGIC, ie, Church of God in Christ....I’m off to take some information to Nan at SPSA.. later in the day Jane’ll  text me and say that she and Jeremy would like to sing and play on Sunday.  And I text back amen.
When I return, Hope and I talk. Planning for tonight’s session meeting. How are we going to strenghten the life of our congregation? Revitalize it? Make it a truly spiritual community bound together to each other? Not just on Sunday, but throughout the week? Ted, John and Jon all arrive to talk theory and practice of rentals. What spaces do we need to reserve?  For our own use? Parnership possibilities.  We could just make it. Another tight rope walk. 
Mim joins us. For the end of this meeting and prepare the agenda for tonight. Whe she leaves, I stick around to finish some work. Human being already on the steps.   Place needs a going over before we use it again with session.  Place needs a going over before we use it again with session.
The centre meeting.  Review, evaluation, of the  bridge series, the concerts. And the  session. Lots of time taken up with legal isses, relationships with Presbytery. Questions around Woodshed’s speakeasy. And especially how essential communcation is. People really knowing what’s going on.
We end after 11. As I leave, human being is there. Asleep on the steps. I am very tired. Miss Danielle already. Damn near overwhelmed. ...hold on until my change has come....

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Crapping on the front porch

What’s going on? What’s going on? I live here. And you’re crapping on my front porch, that’s what’s going on...
A young white man, a little chubby, in shorts, red faced, is yelling loudly, standing over Human Being, who’s sprawled out on the top of the steps. This is the apartment building on 87th that used to be  a Section 8. Where Gertrude used to live. Now market rate. Which is why she lives here no more.  Human Being isn’t saying nothing.  An African-American woman security officer in summer white is approaching. And I’m on my way to work.
At the steps, I can see by the cardboard where Human Being spent the night.  Coulda been my front porch he was crapping on.  John and Ted are waitng for me as is another meeting on the business plan, the budget. A lot of marks not hit this month.  Things getting tighter.
John wants me to get serious about church growth. To take my ideas. Turn them into a strategy with target numbers and associated dollar figures. It gives me a headache, but he’s right. We have to move to a plan that leads to sustainability, not dependent  so much on grants and fundraising or even rentals. 
As they leave, Danielle arrives. A lot to get done before she leaves. Not looking forward to this. Marc arrives with his team for another tour. Danielle asks me to talk to him about session. The need to listen. To their vision of their church. To shape strategies accordingly. Whenever I miss that step, I always pay for it. But he can go full speed ahead on the gala. 
The Woodshed people are here in full force, ready to get to work. 
When I get back from car moving, Dave is back at work on the lights. He’s got a plan to light the archival exhibit.  And he’s been checking out other things. Found four speakers under the stage.  Removed the clanging fan from the ladies’ room. I take him to see the speakeasy and he’s ready to do a solo gig, Jimmy Buffet style, with guitar.  
Back in the office, I’m struggling with responses to a lawyer. To the administrative commission. Also trying to get down details with Danielle. Multitasking. And waiting for Mim. The Woodshed people drop in to say goodnight as the leave for the day. 
Mim  arrives as Danielle is almost ready to leave, so we start with her summary of what’s been going on.  Not having her focus, direction, detailed work for a week, that’s going to be hard. Then Mim and I talk. Working out the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting. Trying to keep the big picture in front of us, even while bureaucracies, church and state, wear us down, sap our energy.
Mim leaves. Back outside, I see Human Being is alseep in the south doorway. Too late to call Project Outreach. Closed for the day. As is everything else around here. Guess he’s in for the night.

Monday, June 27, 2011

He is, we are, keeping the faith

Open the church for the fire alarm people. But they can’t do their work because Verizon has not shown up to reinstall the fire alrm lines. So our first task this morning is to get Verizon here. Danielle and I planning the week. Deacon James walks in, on his way back from hospital. Chemo. He is, we are, keeping the faith. 
Amanda comes in from her coffee with Katherine. We head to Joe’s, focus in on a potential new worship service. Radically reimagined. In addition to, not replacing our current service. 
Return to the church. Start planning the week. Pastor Elise Brown comes in and I take her downstairs to see Woodshed’s speakeasy. She’s blown away, especially by what’s being used that has never been anything but dead space. Cone back up. Talk about what we've learned from having an office in the front and doors open to the street. She showed me the way on that one. 
The tech woman from Verizon shows up and we go on a search for the box. Find out its actually on 87th and we’ll have to get the cooperation of the super. At least Amanda made connections with every doorman concert week. 
Feeling overwhelmed again. Lots to do. Too few people. Too little time. Danielle heading to a wedding and vacation. Amanda to a workshop and home for awhile. Going to be alone. Not looking forward that.

Speakeasy afternoon

Breakfast with Marsha and Amanda discussing Gala plans. Back at the church, it’s clear that Human Being has spent the night again, though he’s not here. Stephen is in making last minute  plans for tomorrow’s first opening of the speakeasy. All of us working on the wrap up of the concert series.
Beautiful Saturday afternoon. At 4 PM, I come to the church for the opening of Woodshed's speakeasy. Last minute preparations still underway. Jon Deak from the Philaharmonic comes and we go out to the backyard with its little tables and chairs. Its the first time this backyard has been used for anything for over 10 years. It’s sunny with a little breeze. Andrea comes and joins us and I get a couple of cold Brooklyn  Summer’s for Jon and I.  
He tells us all about their trip to Venezuela, thier work with El Sistema, music as a means to saving children’s lives, their awakening awareness of their own intrinsic value as human beings, their becoming the subjects of their own history. And how much my son Micah contributed to the  experience. The continued craziness of Caracas. And how Jon would like to see this same program happen here. As do I, right here, at the Centre. 
More and more people are starting to come. John Hudson joins us. The young and hip from Brooklyn on safari to the gentrified Upper West Side.  I marvel that John has been our connection to that world.  Happened because Stephen was Titania in John’s Dark Lady Players’ production of Midsummer Night’s Dream. 
There’s an older man near me. John Mage, of the Monthly Review. Lives across the street at the Belnord. The conversation begins with a semi-uncomfortable review of the whole landmarks process. When I see how we lost hard core left allies on that one, I think again how important it is to maintain control of the narrative.  And then it turns out that John is friends of my organizer friend Mark Stansbury from Columbus, Ohio and his long time activist parents, Les and Marge. That Mark stays with him when he comes to the city. (Where he worships with us.) We talk about the history of the Belnord, the rent struggles. The divsion between  the long time residents, old lefties and psychiatrists and musicians and the new hedgefunders. And of course Matt Damon. How are we going to connect with the people there?  A continuing question...
John’s nephew asks if he can try the piano. Amanda and I go with him. He can’t believe the richness of the sound. He’s finished a new song. He shares his. Amanda plays one of hers. She asks him if he’s a church kid. He says no, but that he loves playing gospel, loves playing in churches. And he heats up the keys with a gospel riff. 
in the backyard
Back outside, the grill has been fired up. Veggie burgers being cooked. Fresh potato salad and cole slaw on the table. We sit back, cold white wine. It’s getting near evening. Nearly perfect. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

I am Human Being

See all Bridge Concert Series photos:

Ted and I meet with a contingent from the Mannes School.  Mannes is the music school of the New School Unversity. It’s only a block away. They would be a perfect partner. We give them a tour. They've used our space before, back in the day. Again, lots of needs, ideas. Not so much money. They need a music library, class rooms, performance space. Thoughts of social engagement, an afterschool program. It’s exciting. But possibilitites are starting  to wear me out. The money is fast running out. We need something real. Soon. 
Time to move my car and come back. Catch up with Danielle. Lots going on. Aaron comes in with Amanda to say goodbye  before flying back to Portland. Marc has brought his team in to visit, to get a feel for the place. Mr. Martin, who tunes our piano at home, has come in wanting to tune our piano. He’s amazed what great shape its in. 
Stephen from Woodshed wants me to see what they’ve been up to. I follow him down into the basement. And am taken by surprise. They’ve converted our trashed out basement into a speakeasy. All from pieces found in the church. Furniture, paintings, pews. Thye’ve set up a kitchen, a bar, a poker nook. I am speechless. It’s happening.
I make sure to take Marc and his  crew down. Marc says it’s ridiculous. I also take Theo. My clergy group was divided on the banner issue, but only K from SPSA said hang it regardless.  Most others said what we say to the public about ourselves is important, and few would get the  welcoming inclusiveness of sloppy, misspelled signs. Marc’s people, Theo and his friend, are blown away by the speakeasy.
Marc and I are reviewing my list for the gala. Also talking about how important it will be to connect with the session. Hear them. Before finalizing a campaign. The photos from tbe middle of the night shoot are beautiful. But I’m not sure about the tag, Not your father’s church. Kind of patriarchal, that. Get the idea, but....
Out on the steps, a man has set up camp. I walk over. Introduce myself. Ask his name. I’m human being, he says. I tell him I can see that, but what is his name? I am Human Being, motherfucker, that’s my name. Can you not fucking  hear? I done told you already. And I am an angry motherfucker.
Been to the army. Been to prison Been to rehab. Been to clinics. Been through motherfuckin programs. Do I get a job? A place to live? Been to every fucking shelter. Name one, motherfucker. Just go ahead and name one. I been to them all.  And the goddam police.  Motherfuckers. Not there when I need them, but when I'm just around, not doin' nothin', won't fuckin' leave me alone. I AM motherfuckin pissed....but I shouldn’t be...and with that he puts his head down, starts to cry. This will not be easy. I want to go in and call Goddard, the Reachout folks. 
But its very crazy. Hope is here with Theo, discussing the closing of H &H Bagels. Marc has more to go over with me. Stephen is leaving and I have to make sure he keeps it cool with the neighbors. Miguel comes in to pick up some of his stuff, makes sure we'll keep the rest. 
Later, as Amanda and I head  to Brooklyn to follow up with Octavio Brunetti, the tango pianist, I have this funny thought. We go to Brooklyn to find what’s cutting edge and hip. Now Brooklyn’s young and hip are in my building, working at making West-Park the next cutting edge place. Reverse gentrification. That raw space in a gentrified neighborhood thing. The attractiveness of counterintuitivity. It’s pretty crazy. As Marc would say, ridiculous. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It's almost midnight and this place is so alive

Danielle and I are starting to plan concert wrap up and follow up when Amanda and Aaron come in and suggest a celebratory pint before moving on. So to the "office." That works for me. Then its back to everything that needs to be done.  
Steven and the Woodshed folks are hard at work, cleaning spaces, getting ready to open their speak easy this weekend. (We’ll split the profits on that.) RL is back to check in on his bathroom project. Miguel is outside on the steps  with all his wrldly belongings. I talk to Goddard Riverside Reachout and they’re familiar with Miguel. Sorry to learn their drop in facility is closed. There is no place to drop in anymore. Not in this neighborhood. Miguel is sent down to the east side in the 30’s. Later he returns, he’s got a place for the night, but could we store his things?  Of course. 
We don’t have enough for a full Session meeting, but Hope and Marsha and I take time to talk through our strategy for the next meeting with the AC. Our next money challenge. I wish at least one member could have been here to see us full, alive, at our best.
I spend an hour on a conference call with my national friends from Presbyterians Affriming Reproductive Options, one of the  PHEWA networks.  
Take my guitar to Amanda and Aaron at P&G then head to the church to open for Marc and a photoshoot. When Marc arrives around 11:30 PM, Amanda and Aaron are practicing in the sanctuary. This is so cool, says Marc, it’s almost midnight and this place is so alive. 
The lighting crew arrives and heads up to the gym to set up their equipment. Rachel finally arrives nearing 1 AM. We order pizza from Famous Ray’s. Rachel changes. Then climbs and wraps herself in the fabric. For the next hour she moves, climbs, slides, stretches, poses, body stretched, taut, it circus? Gymnastics? Who cares?  It’s beautiful. And it’s art. The photgrapher snapping away. Flashes of light in the dark gym.
We finish the shoot. Finish the pizza. Shake hands all around. That’s it for tonight.
To church after lectionary with my neighborhood colleagues. Thank thise who came to the concert. Talk with Elise about follow up.
On the steps, Deacon Linda passes by. What was going on here last night? She wants to know. There were flashes of light. I thought it was lightning. Then maybe the church was on fire. What was it? So I explain all about Marc and the photo shoot.  She says, Oh then, and heads off to her volunteer work at Westside Campaign Against  Hunger. 

Working on evaluation. We have to get ready for our visit with Arlene Simon about  pigeons.  Danielle and I go outside to look at the tower. Note how many broken out glass panes there are.  Spaces for the pigeons to invade. There's one view we can't get to. Danielle thinks she's seen a way to check it out. It will be one more unexplored space.   We go up into the space between ceiling and roof. Stretch out across a gap, find an opening, find a flat space, a ladder. A door above us. Danielle climbs up. I follow. She struggles with the door. Finally pops it open.We both go through, stretching across empty spaces. Onto the roof. But its not the view we wanted.  Another perch high above the ground. Empty bottles up here. What's up with that? Another adventure in urban exploration.  Arlene finally arrives with a crew to evaluate the pigeon situation. This may be more complicted than it seems. 
We have to find a way to build from this Bridge concert series. The process of using this experience to move us forward looms ahead. We want to make sure not to lose the opportunity. Not this time. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bridge to Restoration: It's not about being back, it's about being here

Time for a Father’s Day luncheon at French Roast, then back to work. Amanda and I going to Fairway for fruit plates for the reception, more wine. Back on the steps, Louis is in dialogue with an African-American woman. She is declaiming loudly, The community got tlgether and sved this place. They was going to tear it down, those developers, those snakes, those sharks...but we won, yes we did...
So apparently for her, landmarking was a victory. I try to explain that we were never going to tear it down. It doesn’t matter.  I try to explain the financial realitites. My church is landmarked, she says, the Bible says that whatever you ask God for he will give you. Just ask God, you’ll get it all. If it were only that simple. 
While we’re backstage waiting in the green room, the session room, Ashley says to Erasmia, This is the room, meaning that this is the room in which I performed their first marriage, the one to make it legal, before the later big one in the Greek Cathedral. 
The crowd is starting to come. And I begin to realize that this is going to work. Katherine’s friends are coming. There’s my colleagues, like Elise, and Miriam, and Takako and Mark from the UN, back again. People who reponded to Erasmia’s media blitz. People who had left the church, angry at me, I assume.  Rudy is here. And so is Johanna, who went with us to Ground Zero, another casualty of the landmarks struggle. My friend Beppe is here. The P&G boys. More and more people. It’s a bit overwhelming.
I open, along with Marc Greenberg, from the Interfaith Assembly. I introduce Andre. And he begins with An die Musik, the piece that he and Erasmia began with on their rehearsal night. As he finishes, the applause rings out. And rings out more. And Andre glows.  Jed plays Schumann’s Arabesque and Ashley turns his violin into a fiddle for Louisiana Blues Strut. 
Andre and Erasmia do Litany, based on a poem by Langston Hughes. Greg does a dramatic bongo solo, going into its Afro-Cuban roots. His power in performance, practice of his craft, has grown immeasurably. Then Jed and Greg do an improvisation all around, over, and under and in the piano, played in every possible way. Ashley and Erasmia join on Massenet’s Meditation from Thais. The first half ends with Andre singing Ain’t Got Time to Die. And a standing ovation. 
After intermision, Zahra remembers her years in this church and introduces her father and  Andre in turn introduces his son and grandson.  And then the song with which he is most identified, Old Man River, from Showboat, his signature song, though he never really liked it.  And the house is brought down again.
Jed plays Bill Evans’ Your Story, then Andre joins him for Waltz for Debby. Then Dana, who defies any categorization, sings a song in Japanese. Takako and her friend smile, some of the few who understand. I remember Dana and her response to 9-11, her Song for the City concert raising money to provide professional musicians to work in schools that couldm’t afford it.  And then, as we prepared for war, her Not in Our Name concert. She draws the audience into her Healin’ in de Spring.
Greg returns, this  time with his berimbau, the one string bowed Brazilian instrument he has used  so many times here at West-Park, and launches into a capoeira style song. Ashely and Erasmia play together again on Estrellita. The Andre sings Once Upon a Time with Jed and then finishes with his true signature song, the one he loves, Here’s to Life, and the applause goes on and on. A bow. An encore. It’s over.
There are metaphors. And as always, one must be careful in approrpriation of meaning. In a sense, the church has suffered its own brain hemmorage, bled our own metaphoric twelve hours, slipped into our own coma, and this process, this night is bringing us back into life.  To the extent that this concert was giving Andre back his life (he always has a life, as an artist, as a man, everyday, but this was giving him a public life again), I too felt soemthing given back, something  I wasn’t sure I’d feel again, here. For one night, I remembered, relived all that we have been...and saw what we could be...
Talking to Andre at the reception , he says, It’s good to be back. Though what does that even mean? And I say, it’s not about being back, it’s about being here. 
The last to leave are Danielle, RL and I. He wants to help us finish the bathrooms, sheetrock and all.  Get rid of the smell.  Knows a mad ukrainian who can get it done.
As he’s leaving, he reminds us that he’s not a Christian, but there’s something about the place that  gets  him (Maybe reading  that poem at  Chrismas? When his spirit joined the building?) And then he says, you don’t know me, but I feel you’re a good man. I smile and say, thanks, RL, I know that you are. 
At the moment, when  I saw Andre’s face as the crowd applauded, I felt that if I never did another thing  in life, this was enough. This is where I find my joy, god, if you will. Unlikely circles of people coming together in unexpected ways to make something beautilful happen. From RL and the P&G boys to neighborhood clergy to wonderful  musicians...that collaboration, that coming together is what we want the Centre to be. 

Trinity Sunday: Creation as resistance


Amanda meets me at church and we open up together. Prepare the sanctuary for worship. The first to arrive are at least six visitors, several drawn by the concert series. But where are my folks? Amy has taken the day off, Andre not coming until nght. Of course there’s James, Hope, Rachel...but I feel the anxiety, uncertainty.

Amanda comes to the piano, plays. A prelude. Time for me to start. Amanda reminds me to connect with the people, and when its passing of the peace time, she looks at me and says, Be real, reverend..

It’s Trinity Sunday. One of the only liturgical days of tbe year celebrating a theological concept, not an event. And today I have little interest in pursuing vagaries of theological concepts.

The lectionary passages of the day leave us with three places to go...holy...what does it mean? what is holy to you? can you even be holy? Or that great phrase....some doubted....and explore our doubt together....or in the beginning...that’s where I want to go today.

I ask people wnatthe passage makes them think of. Amanda talks about how its poetry. I agree, poetry, not science. Hope doesn’t believe it, that is the whole seven day thing. And James responds that to God a thousand years is as a day.

There’s been a lot of creating going on this week...every night....women singer-songwriters, tangeros, jazz...and tonight Andre and his eclectic friends...right in the traditon of what we have always been...
Creation. Creativity. Why is it so important? I recall our night at Ground Zero. The still smoldering seventeen acres. The falling ash. The smell of burnt plastic, jet fuel, human bodies. And the dead looksof the faces of the workers as they passwd through all night long, shift after shift, blank, staring faces. How I felt the power of de-struction, of death, negation. And how I realized in that context that creation, any creative act, is an act of resistance, an act of defiance of those powers. And a partnership with God in the ongoing work of creation.

How creation is about separation. Necessary for individiation, to know who we are. Yet there is pain in that separation. How the rain is the waters above longing for reunion with the waters below. How the whole arc of the biblical narrative is back towards ultimate unity.

And how in between places are places of beauty as well. Bayous and swamps, seashores, those beautiful times at sunset or sunrise when one reality is becoming another. How I love to sit with a cold drink and watch the sunset over the Hudson.

Trinity Sunday. The creator. The breath of the Spirit bringing things to life. Pneuma, ruach. Inspiration, respiration, and my favorite, conspiracy, breathing together...But it is we, we humanity together who are the third person,the human one, the child...we together make the third person...people of differing faiths, people of no faith....

All I have to do is sit (or stand) in a subway car (and why in summer do I always get the car without airconditioning?) and look up and down at the faces...and see all humanity and say it is good...
To be here is to choose to be part of a process that is still beginning, a process of re-creation, of creation...that is our invitation, we welcome anyone who wants to join in....I feel good about what I have said. Not sure if anyone who has visited will ever come back or not....but this was good....

Amanda plays her version of Amazing Grace...we gather in our circle....the service is over....

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bridge to Experience: Always choose the interpretation that gives you strength

Javier conducts the New York Jazz Academy

Someone is asleep on the steps. I say, Excuse me, sir, you can’t sleep here during the day. He says, OK. His name is Miguel. From Puerto Rico. Had an apartment until May. Lost a roommate. Couldn’t afford it. Story has an aching familiarity about it.  He’s got to wait weeks for his case to come up. Assigned to a shelter down in the lower east side somewhere. Can’t afford the metro cards. Only gave him one. I told him to come back duringg the week and we’d see what we coud do. Seems like a good man.
I open up the doors. Erasmia arrives, then Amanda and Andre. Michael Schulman from the New Yorker has come to do interviews with us all. I listen as he hears Ande’s story from the brain hemmorage on. How he experienced it like Saul on the road to Damascus.  Like he was out walkign his dogs in the woods, up in Inwood, or back in Florida.Then struck down as if by lightning.  His months in the hospital. The Helen Hayes Rehab Center in West Haverstraw. Having to move into the Westbourne. Saying to the manager Essie Am I homeless and her responding No, you have an address. Then returning to his own home. How liberating it is to be able to sing without having to impress anybody. How West-Park allows him to be himself, as he is. At the end, he recalls how his former wife Diana told him that we choose how we interpret our life and that we should Always  choose the interpretation that gives you strength. 
I leave to go coach my last soccer game then return. When I get back, Javier’s New York Jazz Academy Big Band is setting up, filling the front of the church. When the show begins, Javier will say, there’s more of you out there then there is up here, that’s always good.  But still not a big crowd, about the same as last night.

Back. Open the door. See Rudy. I take him on a tour of the whole building. In he gym, he falls silent. This was his place. Where he taught his classes. Birthday parties. Where performers prepared for Rudy's annual  gymnastics concert.  And where Sumi Kim did her performance piece playing the sax wile bouncing on   a trampoline and doing a monologue followed by a reeenactment of the last tv interview with Bruce Lee, with Sumi as Bruce. All that and more. There's still grafitti wishing him well on the walls. There was a time when what he was doing with us was a premonition of what the Centre is and can become. His community gym kids sitting  in services. The Sunday school/gym experience we offered. The  day I had him bounce on the trampoline as a prelude to the worship service. On Sunday morning. In the sanctuary. Things went wrong during the landmarks controversy.  Rudy is quiet, the says he'll come tomorrow. The

It’s incredibly painful to miss my son Dan’s pre-prom party on a roof on 38th Street. The kids (kids?) in their tuxes and gowns. A champagne toast. This happens once, and I miss it. But this is where I need to be.
Theo’s banner is not hung. The word Presbyterian was misspelled. There is this conflct. He worked hours on it. Do you put it up anyways? Even if it looks  unprofessional? If you do, what does that say to the public who read it? If not have you unnecessarily hurt someone? Do you use anything that anyone does? What if you asked them and then you don’t like it? Where do we draw lines? It is not easy. It is a big banner. These issues are always difficult for me and I wish I had more clarity. 
I had epected the NYJA Big Band to be mainly high school students, but there are mainly older players. With so many high school students gone for the summer, it’s like fantasy jazz camp for older players. They fill the sanctuary with sound conjuring the days of Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington. And then Bernstein’s West Side Story suite. 
There’s a quick set change and then Erin Mc Dougald comes out. She sang a great set last December in our freezing church with no heat, no bathrooms. In the balcony with her big, long, black fur coat. She goes through a aset of standards, her voice sultry and evocative. 
Sometimes I love you, sometimes I hate you,
But when I hate you, it's 'cause I love you.
That's how I am so what can I do?
I'm happy when I'm with you.
Her set finishes. Her bass player is off to Small’s. Andrea has arrived from the pre-prom party.  We talk with Javier awhile. Learning: no matter how hot Erin is, she’s still from Chicago. That won’t draw anyone unless we’ve established our place as a venue that always has good stuff going on. We help him load up his equipmwnt. And then we walk home together.