Saturday, May 25, 2013

Why we're here


See Anna on the bench in front of Genarro, one of the only destination restaurants on th Upper West Side. Haven’t seen her in a few days, so I sit and talk awhile. She reminds me that the project across 93rd is called Little Vietnam. That tells you how long its been around.  Haven’t heard that for awhile, I say. And I remember how when I first moved here, we’d hear gunfire coming from there. Back when the Mexicans first moved in the and Caribbeans moved out  and a battle took place for control of the drug trade. I recall that. Haven’t heard guns in a long time, I say. They’re  still there, she says, but now the projects are all next door to rich people. 

When we were planning our candidates' forum questions, someone suggested stop and frisk as an issue. Not in our neighborhood, most responded. With projects just three blocks away. I’ve had members  stopped and frisked. But in the gentrified Upper West Side, some things, some people, are invisible.

Stephen and Danielle and I going over the Red Bull contract one more time. I help Stephen move the movie screen. We’ll need Marc to help move out all his sound equipment so that Red Bull’s people can move their equipment in. 

Bread and Puppet tech people are in to do preliminary work for their fall celebration. Contingency plans and all. And a contractor comes in to work up estimates on what it will take to bring  the building up to code. 

In addition to the new exposed lath Stephen  showed me last night during the storm, we hear water dripping  and find there’s water coming in through the tower into the theatre. The bathrooms are flooded. And the drainage hole at the end of the stygian darkness passage is filled again. 

Danielle emerges from the tower  looking like Ash Wednesday.

Rudolfo wanders in, with that sad ready to ask for help look on his face. My look tells him not now. 

See Gregory out on the street. This time he just greets me. A random man comes by with a story and an ask. Anna tells him I’m almost as broke as he is, which is pretty close to true.  

The madness is also beginning  to get to me. Looking out at the world through so many eyes that see plots and plans and threats at every turn. Harder to pull myself out of that place. 

I tell Danielle, in my world, most of us are doing our best juts to get by. None of us perfect. All of us mixed motives. Few of us truly evil. Takes most of our time and energy just to hang on. Not much left over for plots and plans....Tiring. 

I open my computer to look at financial statements. And feel an increasing depression setting in. More than  one kind of leak has sprung. The sound of steady dripping has me almost to the what’s the point place. Why do we keep trying? Really feeling it. RL comes in. It’s cold enough that he’s got his winter cowboy hat out again. He here’s me utter what could be heard as a prayer. OK, when I hear a man of the cloth looking at his computer screen, calling for Jesus, it’s time to git...

Even sweeping the steps doesn’t help.

Jeremy is in the sanctuary recording Cara’s music. She’s been playing about an hour. Then Danielle hears a voice.
Who’s that?
Jeremy? I suggest.
No, someone different.

So we look. It’s Antonio. One of the foremost flamenco dancer/singers in the world. Here for a week of composing and choreography with Martin. And conducting workshops.  
Antonio Rodriguez

We watch. And listen. He is flamenco riffing off of Cara’s playing. That plaintive flamenco style with echoes of Muslim muezzin, Jewish cantor, Andalusian gitano. Wavering, near ululation, filled with longing, anguish, determination, passion. They are improvising. Gypsy jamming. We are mesmerized. Transfixed. They continue the dance of piano and voice, back and forth, rising and falling. Then Antonio begins clapping his hands, palmas, and next thing  I know he has flown into dance, his feet pounding the floor in relentless rhythm until a final explosion of sound. They look at each other. Collapse into laughter. And hugs. Danielle and I look at each other. Amazing. Just amazing.

Maybe because it’s because I’m already on the verge of emotional exhaustion, but I feel tears welling up. And I know. I know why we’re here. That unexpected intersection of unlikely people. The moment of magic transcendence that happens here. 

We walk into the sanctuary. Stephen looks up. Did you hear that? Incredible, I say, just incredible. Cara is beaming. I have never been happier, she says, I am so rich. I am going to be somebody (Cara, you already are somebody.) I know her story. Her journey. I’m watching rebirth as she claims all her gifts.  And I know.

This is so right. So what is supposed to be. So why     is     it    so    hard? So    damn   hard?

And after this performance, Cara goes out to sweep. This is why we are here.

                * * * * 

When I go to leave, the door won’t open. Los Rodriguez are there. They tell me the other doorways are full. I see a young white guy asleep in the south door. He’s got a sign that says: 

You can’t do that here, I say. He nods. Takes down the sign.

It’s the shit and champagne story again. The  exquisite beauty and madness.

I know why we’re here.

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