|Robert Brashear, Srdan Aleksic, Zeljko Mircovic|
As I approach the steps, I see something is going on. I see an African-American man approaching the two sisters speaking loudly. They have been spending their days in the church but today the front doors are closed as Noche Flamenca continues their intense preparations for the upcoming opening of Antigona, their full length flamenco version of Antigone. (http://www.soledadbarrioandnocheflamenca.com/antigona/)
The younger one came first. Almost child like. She would spend hours every day knitting in the sanctuary. Then her older sister arrived. Bigger. Bulkier. Sullen and aggressive. They claim to be displaced New Orleanians who came here in the wake of Katrina. Had a place for awhile. Lost it. The younger one had actually become pargt of a knitting group. Was singing in the chorale at Advent. Until the older one pushed in and told people off and it all went south from there. My friend pastor Elise had to ban the older one and the younger one had to go too. They’ve been banned from my friend Father Duffell’s Blessed Sacrament as well. Been a lot of attempts to help them, but every offer is answered with a yes but…So am I just enabling here?
They may be the only two people to have sat through the whole 24 hours of Jed Distler’s piano marathon performance of Arthur Jarvinen’s Serious Immobilities: 840 variations on Erik Satie’s Vexations and simultaneous continuous performance of Randall Woolf’s Spineless Dog that opened Make Music New York at West-Park. The two sisters sat through all 24 hours.
I get closer. Hear the bolder one say leave us alone. Get out of here.
So I step forward and say, Sir, you need to back away.
And he rises up, in my face and says, And who the fuck are you?
I’m the guy who runs this place, the pastor.
He backs down a little. Calmer. And so you got these two crazy white women and you yelling at the black guy.
Only because I heard her ask you to leave.
You know what’s goin’ on? You know? That this white lady with a baby carriage come by and she say, offer them some food and she say Get the fuck outta here! That ain’t no way to be, you say thanks, you take the food, you eat it, you throw it away, you don’t be yellin’ at people…you don’t do that way…
I agree. That’s my job to deal with…
Yeah, that’s why they slinkin’ away, let some bad kid or soemthin’ look at ‘em..
And I do. And he’s right. They’ve slipped off the steps and are heading north on Amsterdam.
I look at him, Still, you can’t yell at them either. No yellin’, ok?
He says, Yeah, I hear you.
We good? I say.
Yeah, we good.
Inside a wet tech rehearsal is going on for Antigona. Martin’s anxiety builds as opening night approaches.
Finally he arrives. Along with City Councilmember Srdan Aleksic, who holds the arts and culture portfolio for the Serbian city of Nis. I show Zeljko all the reconstruction we’ve done. Then new ceilings and walls in the building where he shot. He shakes his head in amazement. We go into the sanctuary where the rehearsal is going on. Martin sees Zeljko and comes over to say Hi briefly, having been one of Zeljko’s interviews. But only very briefly. Time is running short.
Time for us to head to Harlem for dinner with my friend Milica.
On the steps, the African-American man in white is settling in for the night.