Friday, July 27, 2012

It just doesn't work


The place is buzzing with a film crew shooting in the church. I’m late for my appointment and find we’re being held outside while a scene is finished. Teddy’s talking with the film crew and Allegra who’s come to see me. She’s a Princeton student doing a summer internship with the Interfaith Center of New York City. My friend Matt, now a dean at Princeton has sent her my way to talk about interfaith. And my experiences with Occupy. 
I say how for me interfaith is a way of life. All of us only get a glimpse of what’s behind the door. How we learn through dialectic discourse and beyond dialectic to multilectic. 
Why did I welcome Occupy? My lifetime of commitment. The heritage of this little church. The opportunity to participate in an historic moment. As part of the struggle that goes on before us during us and after us. To be in our moment. To engage in discourse with people around the spiritual issues that were being raised by the Occupiers, even while they were militantly not religious. 
Allegra sees a spiritual content to what’s happening globally that wasn’t there before. I talk about the move from the discourse of liberation to transformation, materialist analysis to holistic. How the arc travelled by Rubem Alves has resonated with me.  My call to the intersection of beauty and justice, ethics and esthetics. 
And I finish with my sense of the death of the church as we have known it. My desire not to waste anymore  time trying to save it but to be involved in the ministries  that are seeking to give birth to something new. 
She’s going to bring some students back in the fall. I walk outside with her. I hear my name and am surprised to see Vivian, one of the longtime Frog & Peach Theatre Company members, in a nurse’s uniform. She’s got a role in the movie. I remember her in Macbeth, Hamlet. Her favorite was Richard III.  Simon who was in their Midsummer Night’s Dream is with the movie, too. The frenetic, creative energy is easy to feel and Teddy’s totally taken by it. 
I take a break to see Landmark West!'s  screening of Vanishing City by Jen Senko and Fiore De Rosa (  It’s a searing exploration of the effects of Bloomberg’s Luxury City Development model and the elimination  of affordable housing. The effect of 2.3 billion dollars in tax abatements for luxury buildings. The 421a program (that was going to fund West-Park’s development project) saw 96% of its tax credits go to luxury developers. How single family conversion becomes a ruse to nullify rent stabilization. And the city’s removal of rent subsidies hurts the small, neighborhood based landlords.  For the first time, I see a place of coalescence between the preservationists and housing advocates.  The luxury model destroys neighborhoods. In forty years, we‘ve gone from a city that was 41% blue collar to one that’s less than 11% with the largest increase in the low wage service sector  that the luxury sector requires.  One of those interviewed in the movie is Fred Siegel, who I know mainly from a friend’s Hanukkah parties. His analysis was striking  as I understood how the luxury model doesn’t even work for old school capitalists, because, well, it just doesn’t work.  

Dem dahk days down south

get back in time for the opening of Glen’s play, Dem Dahk Days Down South, which grew out of his summer Theatre workshop. Marsha is handling the ticket sales, Max and Jason are running the bar. It’s a story of an African-American woman from Harlem who goes down to the south to rediscover her roots at the beginning of the Civil Rights era. I’m happy to see a cast of mainly African-American actors in a project that was born here. And happy to see that Steve dug in and learned the music and is the accompanist. And to see Jennifer in the cast. Just wish more people were here. That old pr issue again. And I wish Glen were here to see it. Look forward to his return from Birmingham. This is good.

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