July 4th, LA home girl Candace and I witnessed the night sky(s) over South Los Angeles roof tops, ablaze with private (not laser) but FireWorks light shows—non stop, till before the cocks crow. What was everybody celebrating ? The money exchanged, the budgeted shopping with calculated selections of fireworks to awe the already awed? What? Then besides the arsenal purchased, there was the planning, the choreography, the logistics and finally, the display of TEAM WORK. It was, what I got to see, a street level Declaration of Independence—a disciplined show of cooperation with launchers lining the middle of the street with enough room for one car to pass by at a time. Timing was everything. FIRE!
Specially with the giant mushroom light bombs fountaining high above distant rooftops packing explosions of dandelion trails at the ends of which popped smaller explosions with smaller trails radiating, timing out a beat it’s own to follow, RATA TRATA TAT TAT PATAKA BHOOOM ! RAT TAT ! Had to wait, for the police helicopter to fly out of the range. We especially appreciated and cheered the team on our own street that materialized, to our pleasant surprise, right from our front porch! We hailed their efforts and their own star-spangled shower of lights and beats. It was WE ARE ALIVE! DO YOU SEE? It was not how many dollahs were exchanged but WAS IT PLEASING to the COMMUNITY? For groups to want to make people look upwards for moments inviting them to suspend all other concerns to just take in the show—make every flash a celebration of being alive. For me it inspired a grass roots pride of being part of the autonomous diversity united by our humanity which always was and will always remain, the base and foundation of life on this blessed land. WE ARE US, ALL THE TIME.—Tej
On July 11th, 7:00 pm, City Lore, 56 East 1st Street, East Village, is hosting the launch of Offbeats: Lower East Side Portraits, a new book by Clayton Patterson and John Strausbaugh!
In OFFBEATS (Cool Grove Press), the authors, two quintessential New Yorkers, will transport attendees to the dynamic universe of creative individuals who surfaced from the New York’s immigrant ghetto. The Village’s attraction was the low rent (till recently). Exactly what budding artists and drop outs needed to be themselves. In a zone swamped by obscurity-of-poverty contrasting with the culture of opulence all around, the Village became the spawning ground of rare mixes that pushed envelopes never even seen before. This has been going on since the 1600’s according to co-author John Strausbaugh who also wrote a book titled The Village: 400 Years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues, a History of Greenwich Village. Clayton Patterson, with his wife and partner Elsa Rensa, has been at the center of several social art projects on the L.E.S. practicing the art of recording and archiving the communities and their struggles. Socially activist art? In his archive are a record of the housing and demographic transformation of the East Village over last 4 decades. He achieved much after moving to New York City from Canada’s Prairies, still active. Strausbaugh, New York’s political history reporter of note, started out of Baltimore. More OFFBEATS readings are planned through the summer. Please attend, they offer a rare opportunity to discover some of Village’s unique ‘products’. — Tej
On being covid-19 positive and the matter of life as weaving cloth on a never ending loom. What else is there to do?
Call it art or what you will, I feel like I am weaving as I write this blog in the making for a couple of years of gestation and procrastination. But today it came alive like never before. Purpose. After two Pfizer shots and two boosters, I tested positive in July after hanging out with friends around a table on father’s day. Luckily the symptoms were mild for all. I am pleased to be writing all this as if there was no tomorrow. Here I can be myself and share what I wish. Thank you for reading this far. Grateful am I. Let us then not be brash or cavalier beyond our means. Stay Free. — Tej