NEW YORK — October 9, 2012. A new film, featuring some NLN footage, and documenting voting rights in the U.S. — or lack thereof — will will be shown tomorrow at NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice.
Led by the NAACP, protesters took to the streets on December 10, 2011 to “Stand For Freedom.” This event was documented by NLN and found its way into Mridu Chandra’s new film, Electoral Dysfunction. The film will be shown tomorrow at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU’s School of Law. A panel discussion will follow the screening. Chandra is an educator and filmmaker whose documentaries have aired at the Sundance Film Festival, SXSW and PBS. For more information on Electoral Dysfunction visit the Brennan Center website.
NEW YORK — September 15, 2012. What is an Emily Dickinson Sense Surround — if you ask Aife Murray it’s an event celebrating poetry, cooking, gardening, and music.
The Emily Dickinson Sense Surround event, dubbed the “world premiere” by organizers, was held at Art Star, a gallery space in Lower Manhattan’s Alphabet City on Saturday, September 15, 2012.
The free event featured cake and cookies made from recipes Dickinson collected. An apron clad Murray, herself a baker, recited poetry and recipes alike, accompanied by a slide show.
Marta McDowell described Dickinson’s love of gardening — and passed around flowers, including a section of a fig tree, for attendees to touch.
Cindy Dickinson read from Emily’s personal letters as the event moved “from the kitchen into the parlor.”
Wrapping up the event was singer-guitarist David Giovacchini, who played songs favored by Dickinson. Giovacchini invited the audience to sing along — which they did.
The event was part of the NYC LitCrawl initiative.
On their website LitCrawl states:
Lit Crawl now draws hundreds of readers, writers, and revelers to crawl through the East Village and the Lower East Side, listening to writers, playing literary trivia, and celebrating New York’s spirited and diverse literary community.
NEW from Love & Struggle Video: the latest installment in the Aesthetic Dimension playlist. Joining the L&S video (re)interpretations of The Politics of Experience (R.D. Laing), One-Dimensional Man (Herbert Marcuse), and The Mass Psychology of Fascism (Wilhelm Reich), is Thomas Altfather Good’s take on Herbert Marcuse’s masterpiece,”Eros And Civilization – A Philosophical Inquiry Into Freud.”
We hope you find it useful.
Submitted for your approval — The Aesthetic Dimension: Videos From The Left Side.
NLN’s sister site, Love & Struggle, is a repository of music and art videos. In recent months L&S has produced a series of videos that present some key concepts advanced by the foremost thinkers in the tradition known as psychoanalytic sociology. The “playlist” that houses the videos is called The Aesthetic Dimension. It currently includes the following videos:
- “Carousel” — A music video based on The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich:
“One-Dimensional Man” — an interpretation of Herbert Marcuse’s classic text:
“The Politics Of Experience” — a video based on R.D. Laing’s masterwork:
One viewer commented on The Politics Of Experience: “Well that shook me up. Good.”
Future projects include videos based on the works of Stanley Milgram, Hannah Arendt and Herbert Marcuse (Eros and Civilization will be offered as a companion piece to One-Dimensional Man).
John Skelson (right) at the Art Lab Gallery,
home of his “Faces In The Crowd” collection
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — November 5, 2011. The show is called “Faces In The Crowd,” the artist’s name is Skelson, and the subject matter is as New York as you can get — the people who call it home.
John Skelson is a well known local photographer. A native Staten Islander, he practices his art while teaching others. In addition to following fire trucks, tracking New York harbor traffic, and documenting Occupy Wall Street, Skelson teaches photographic technique and darkroom skills at the “Art Lab,” a workspace and school hosted by the Snug Harbor Cultural Center. One of Skelson’s devoted students is pictured on the palm card that advertises his current show.
Skelson’s latest installation, entitled “Faces In The Crowd: And Some Crowds,” is an excellent example of how to do effective portraiture. From the scarred and tattooed subjects of “Scary Protest” to the orange clad Buddhist monk standing in front of an iconic yellow taxi cab — outside the Times Square military recruiting center — Skelson combines encapsulated personalities and colorful imagery into quintessentially New York stories. Protesters, police – one cop is shown applying chapstick as he guards the Wall Street bull — and hardhats are a few of the fascinating New Yorkers who populate Skelson’s work.
Good technique and a great subject — New York City and its peoples — come together to underscore a truth: to keep great art alive one must support living artists.
In Key West, circa 1982, I worked with a fella from Brooklyn. When Luke learned that I would be moving to Staten Island he said, “You’ll like it, they’re all artists out there.” While that may be just a slight exaggeration, artists do live on the Island, do work together in a community that often centers around the Art Lab, and do support one another. But they need the progressive community to help sustain their efforts to bring Beauty into being.
“Faces In The Crowd” runs from November 5 through November 27, is free, and open to the public. Take the Ferry to the forgotten borough and get on the S40 bus at the St. George ferry terminal. It’s a ten minute ride to Snug Harbor Cultural Center, located at 1000 Richmond Terrace. The Skelson installation is located at the Art Lab (map at http://www.snug-harbor.org/visit.html) which is building C. For more information: call 718-447-8667, email email@example.com or visit www.artlab.info. The gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Sunday Morning” is probably my favorite Lou Reed song — I play it, you guessed it, every Sunday morning. I suppose it’s a combination of the lush production and the starkly beautiful voice of Nico (she sings the harmony) that does it for me. I’ve always admired Nico and had the good fortune to see her perform in the Lower East Side in the early Eighties.
“Sunday Morning” was written quickly, in an effort to produce a hit. There’s a lot to be said for fast takes and songs written straight from the heart.
“Sunday morning, praise the dawning — It’s just a restless feeling, by my side…”
World War One, the so-called Great War, was not only an exercise in futility but a good example of the all-too-human capacity for brutality. It was the first war where the machine gun was widely used — with predictable results.
In the first year of the war, after peppering one another with a hail of bullets for four months, German and British troops observed a Christmas truce. Soldiers crossed no-man’s land and visited their opposite numbers, bringing gifts and staying for dinner. Many of the Germans who broke bread with the British in the Ypres sector were Bavarian. One of their number, a corporal named Adolf Hitler, thought the truce was terrible — as did the generals on both sides.
The Christmas Truce stands as a bright spot in a four year stretch of carnage and destruction that destroyed an entire generation.
On Saturdays the Occupy Wall Street protesters march. The police follow. And too often the police treat the protesters as if they were the enemy – battering, bruising, and arresting the unarmed and unresisting. It’s tough to guess why the policing has been so aggressive. Perhaps the goal is to provoke the protesters for political purposes. To their credit the protesters have demonstrated a degree of professionalism that so far has largely eluded the police department.
On Sundays the police presence at Zuccotti Park is muted. There is little of the aggressive behavior usually visited on the plaza by police at other times: officers telling pedestrians they have to keep moving, as if the public sidewalks and streets belong to someone other than the people. As if talking to the protesters is something to be avoided.
On Sundays the protesters seem to want to recharge batteries and the atmosphere is calm, soothing, family friendly.
I enjoy black-and-white film photography and shoot as many frames as time allows – developing the film at home and printing in a public darkroom.
Although I often carry my battered Nikon film cameras with me, I use digital SLRs and shoot color — usually in burst mode — when doing photojournalism. Doing “PJ”, as photogs call it, does not always allow for art. It is possible to craft an interesting shot, it is possible to get a sharp image, but the goal is to “get the shot” and all other considerations are secondary.
And so I shoot digital as I have to — but I prefer film.
Film forces artistry and craft to the foreground. Especially black-and-white film. With monochrome images composition and contrast are key and film can be unforgiving. For those of us who love nothing more than watching a print develop, it’s a labor of love. And when I can’t shoot film but find an opportunity to do something arty, I set my digital cameras to emulate Kodak Tri-X film: I set the ISO (speed or light sensitivity) to 400, and set the “color” to monochrome. Often I use both types of cameras — film and monochromatic digital — in one shoot. The digital camera can be used to set up shots in tricky lighting.
Zuccotti Park is a tough shoot. It’s very dark in the interior and very bright and glary on the periphery. I like to shoot there on Sundays when there is no pressure to “get the shot.” It’s nice to have time to talk with people, hear their stories, and try to do a portrait or two. As I told one woman, Sunday is about the people. Even the police seem to understand that Sunday is a good time to observe a truce. Maybe one day that truce will be formalized into an armistice and the false binary that is the Police Department vs. Participatory Democracy will be ended.
There’s always hope. Especially on Sunday Morning.
Praise the dawning.
NEW YORK — September 4, 2011. Do you love animals — Do you eat them?
The notion that one can love animals and not be a vegetarian is a tough one to defend. But the decision to go vegetarian or vegan is a very personal one. Most individuals cannot be harangued or convinced logically to go veg. It is something that most of us who have moved on from our traditional diets and upbringings have come to organically — a personal choice that resonated in the gut as well as the head. When it felt right, we made the leap.
I personally never cared for the label “vegan” — I saw young people (geez I feel ancient using that term) with “vegan” tattoos and scratched my head, dislodging some hair I can’t afford to lose, geezer that I am. Like Tim Curry, “I could never get the hang of ideology.” I’ve always described myself as “idiomatic” — my way of saying idiosyncratic. And yet, while I don’t identify as vegan, I suppose I do fall into that category. Recently I was describing my diet to my doctor and he said, “You’re a vegan.” He should know. He’s a vegan as well. And a very youthful 70-years-old. I said, “Yeah ok.”
I went vegetarian as a New Year’s resolution. And so, since January 1, 1985, I haven’t eaten meat. But it was only three years (and change) ago that I gave up cheese. I thought I might miss it but I wanted to lose some weight and it seemed an obvious choice. Voila, I had gone vegan – I had long ago eliminated all other animal products from my diet. I didn’t hold a press conference or print up t-shirts. But I did lose some weight, brought my blood pressure down, and got off some of the BP meds I had been on. I also noticed that my knees worked better. Hoo ahh.
Recently a vegan named Casey, someone who doesn’t brow beat others into adopting her world view, asked me if I wanted to exhibit my art photos in a Vegan Art Show. I don’t shoot images that pertain to veganism — either in my work as a photojournalist or in my artsy stuff — and I don’t publicly describe myself as vegan. But I said ok. Casey works for a church I admire. The Metropolitan Community Church of New York is very, very, LGBT friendly. And they send a contingent from Manhattan to the Staten Island Pride parade, every year. I was pleased I could do something to help them. And to help Casey in her struggle to gently convince people that all life should be celebrated. And that it is possible to move beyond what we were taught as kids — to learn, to evolve, as individuals and as a species. I believe it’s ok to approach the change gradually and I support people who are doing the best they can. And I suport people and organizations that are devoted to teaching peace and acceptance.
And so I invite you to come to the Vegan Art Show – and maybe buy a photograph or a painting. Some of the proceeds go to support the MCC and their efforts to promote nonviolence. The work the church does is important and non-partisan. That much I do know.
Here are the details:
Where: Jackson Hall Art Gallery
3rd Floor, Metropolitan Community Church of New York
446 West 36 Street, New York
(Between 9th and 10th Avenue)
When: September 4 – October 28, 2011
Opening Reception: September 21, 5 – 8 p.m.
I am exhibiting some photos that don’t get seen often – arty Black and White images shot with my battered 1972 Nikon F2, Non-AI Sigma lenses and Kodak Tri-X Pan film. There are two shots taken from NLN, shots celebrating New SDS, but the other items are a bit different from what appears in the pages of NLN. I hope you like them.
Best of luck in finding your own path to peace.
CONEY ISLAND, N.Y. — June 18, 2011. Brooklyn is a magical place that draws a crowd — Kings County is the most populous county in the country, and Coney Island is a glittering jewel in the King’s crown.
Every Summer Coney Island hosts the Mermaid Parade and Brooklyn celebrates its diversity and pizazz.
This year was no exception — the parade was held on Saturday, June 18 — and NLN’s Carol Caver was there to capture the moment.
The annual Mermaid Parade is special. Herbert Marcuse argued that the corporate state allows human beings at best a fractured existence, an existence wherein we are defined solely by what we consume. But Coney Island and the Mermaid Parade exist out of step-time. Coney Island resides in the Aesthetic Dimension where freedom is still possible. It allows Art to exist in the streets of Brooklyn. It allows citizens to be whole…to revel in their humanity.
Caver’s photographs capture that surreal Moment in which humanity triumphs over the oxidizing corruption that is the logic of Capitalism. Hers is a chronicle of Kerouac’s subterranean impulse. And so it seemed appropriate to use a subterranean hymn as the background score to a slideshow composed of Carol’s images.
My son once told me that the Verrazano Bridge was named after the man who discovered it.
It is that kind of “Beginners Mind” that informs the works of a musical duo known as Heth and Jed. The brothers Weinstein can often be found performing for free in NYC’s subway or in the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. Two saints of a modern psychedelic symphony, the Weinsteins offer a style that is totally original yet simultaneously embodies the spirit of Pink Floyd in their prime. It is no surprise that Heth’s singing has been compared to David Gilmour.
I first found Heth and Jed performing a gorgeous song called “Future Memory” in the St. George Terminal, while waiting for the Ferry. I managed to tape the performance…it can be found on Love And Struggle, NLN’s sister entity, where it continues to draw fan mail.
While editing Caver’s photos it occurred to me that Future Memory was the perfect song to accompany the illustrations. It is a song of Hope. It is beautiful and it is unique. And just like Coney Island, it is a celebration of Life.
I’m pleased to call Heth, Jed, and Carol, friends and comrades in the struggle to provide adequate housing for all who would dwell in the Aesthetic Dimension. Enjoy the music, enjoy the photographs, celebrate Life.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — December 15, 2010. John Skelson teaches the art of photography, including darkroom skills, at Snug Harbor Cultural Center’s Art Lab. But he also loves another art — that of Rock and Roll. And in 1972 he witnessed the historic Madison Square Concert given by John Lennon. It was Lennon’s last full length concert and Skelson was there, with his Nikon F Photomic FTN, a long (300mm) lens and a roll of ektachrome. In a typically generous gesture, Skelson agreed to allow NLN to post the Lennon shots in an NLN gallery.
Recently I had a chance to talk with Skelson about the famous concert and this conversation is part of a video clip that includes a slideshow of the photos.
About John Skelson:
John Skelson is a well-respected photographer from Staten Island who teaches photography and printmaking at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center’s “Art Lab” on Staten Island’s North Shore. Skelson is devoted to his craft and popular with his students. His darkroom class allows local photographers (including this photog) an affordable opportunity to work in a fully equipped darkroom — and to socialize with other shooters who are passionate about black and white photography. In warmer weather Skelson conducts
“photo walks”to provide other photographers opportunities to shoot some of New York’s lesser known historical sites — in NYC’s “forgotten borough.” Although he shoots digital, Skelson is also skilled with pinhole, 35mm and medium format. He uses Nikon cameras and is a member of the Nikonians user community.
Skelson maintains a website of his work: www.silverprintphotography.com
NEW YORK — On August 13th the film, Neshoba: The Price of Freedom, opened at the Village Cinema in NYC. It is about the murder by the Klu Klux Klan of 3 civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Mickey Schwerner, in Neshoba County, Mississippi during the Freedom Summer – 1965 – when people of conscience who were trained in non-violence traveled south to work on voter registration with the Black community. Goodman and Schwerner were shot and Chaney, from the area, was tortured to death.
The film, which took 6 1/2 years to make, was directed by Micki Dickoff and Tony Pagano, and went beyond that event. In 2004 a small group of black and white citizens of Neshoba, calling themselves the Philadelphia Coalition, reached out to each other in an effort to heal, to erase the blemish on their community, and to try to achieve a degree of justice by finally punishing the 8 people still alive out of the original 20 that participated in the crime. They were only able to get an indictment against one, Edgar Ray Killen.
There are extensive interviews in the film with the families of the young men as well as with a full spectrum of locals. A lot of time was given to Killen, now an 80 year old unrepentant bigot (‘They just came here to teach the people how to rape a new white woman every week’). The film led the viewer to believe that in Mississippi the so called “new south” wasn’t very new.
A long line formed waiting to get into the sold-out showing. People were clearly moved, emotional. This was a pain that could never go away. There were many reunions taking place among former activists that haven’t seen each other in many years. When the families of the murdered young men arrived, as well as the film makers, Dickoff and Pagano, there was excitement. People rushed over to embrace them.
All of the siblings were there, Ben, Julia, and Shirley Chaney, Steve Schwerner, and David Goodman. They, as well as the directors, spoke to the audience after the film. They spoke of the unending family trauma, about the remarkable work of the Philadelphia Coalition, and about being able to give up the rage. Over 100 people were disappeared in Mississippi in that era (their names were listed at the end of the film) and their deaths were never investigated. The Chaney, Schwerner, Goodman case only gained national attention because 2 of the people murdered were white. Someone asked why this matter was relevant today. Tony Pagano responded saying that racism in the world had not changed and the press is just as bad now as it was then. Today, when people express ideas that the country doesn’t like they aren’t labeled “communists” or “Jews” as was the case in the 60’s. The current epithet is “terrorists”.
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