Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mayhem on Sixth

There's Maya and then there's Mayhem, both of whom I visited this weekend. Maya I'll leave for another post. I'll start with mayhem.

NYC Halloween Parade. It's crazy out here, mad, outrageous, mutinous! What planet am I on? Naked Trojans, Chilean miners, walking bananas, pimps, drill teams, dogs, foxes, werewolves, katz, cone heads, bunnies, dough boys, electrical outlets, sailors, soldiers, tea partiers, courtesans, Pink... and the man with the big ear:

Police lined Sixth Ave. in the West Village and blocked off access to the street as the parade got underway (see video); even after the parade ended, cops inexplicably blocked the streets. I almost got crushed trying to cross to the other side through a complicated maze of barriers, along with a billion other people. A young woman cried as she was being pushed and shoved, "This is not natural, not natural at all." 

I can understand where she was coming from: freaks in every direction, but don't box me in!
In the morning, NY streets appeared normal. People rushing to work, catching a smoke on the corner, planning the day, apologizing to each other, getting snarky (what happened to the happy baristas at Gran Daisy?), artists setting up easels, and down below, sewing machines beginning to buzz. Back in NYC for a week!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Floating in Space

 Happy Anniversary to us!

The Rat's Nest is celebrating its first anniversary, so... 

Happy Anniversary to us! 
Happy Anniversary to us!
Happy Anniversary deeeeaaarrrr Rat's Nest
Happy Anniversary to us!

I blogged for the first time on October 23, 2009. My friend Craig, who I asked to help, forced me to put up a picture and say a few words, despite my being intimidated by the whole process. That first post was about my kids leaving home— Mekko to live in Brooklyn, Maya to go to college in Providence— and how when they left nothing made sense anymore. When I think back over this past year, I'd say nothing's really changed: we're still in limbo over them leaving—a limbo that's left us perpetually floating in space.

But although nothing's changed, a lot changed. I began a practice of daily writing, in love with writing this blog. I started making little videos and drawing again, things I hadn't done in years. Not until the house was empty of kids did I fill it up with what was going on around me—in the neighborhood, with the people I taught, with two rat's that played.

The question I'm trying to answer now is, should The Rat's Nest continue?

Of course, I retort, it'll continue, but then I wonder, is it time to move on? For now, though, life would seem kind of empty without it. We'll see where the Rat's Nest goes from here, which is the way, it seems, these things work: blogs being their own self-perpetuating (or not) blogging machines. 

In ending this anniversary post (see below), I'd like to thank my loyal readers, all four of you! It means a lot to me to know you're out there, so, THANKS for reading. See you next post.

 Yum yum! Red velvet cupcake devoured 
by the Rat's Nest on our anniversary.

Friday, October 15, 2010

CicLAvia 10-10-10

 Caught between a street performer and the deep blue at CicLAvia

The pain hit at midnight: my thighs were on fire! Oh lordy, someone bring on the bengay. I hadn't realized how hard I'd biked on Sunday crossing the 4th Street Bridge over the RR tracks and river into East L.A. But the thighs are still speaking to me, and here's what they're saying: go back to the gym and prepare for the NEXT CicLAvia in 2011!

I hope Sunday will be the first of many CicLAvias for the City of Los Angeles, where 7.5 miles of heavily trafficked streets were closed from Hollywood to Boyle Heights, and opened to cyclists, roller bladers, walkers and street performers. There are tons of pictures and videos at: CicLAvia's facebook page, CicLAvia Oct 2010 flickr page and at Appreciation and thanks go out to all the many people who brought this together, esp. Aaron Paley and Joe Linton. Thanks guys, it was a hell of a bike ride.

Here are some of my own contributions from the day and a video of Hip Hop Damage Control with Class, and one funky dancer, along Spring Street, as I was heading home.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

All the news that fits

Take a quick look at last week's Los Angeles Times. I was struck by how small Wednesday's edition was, a usually bulkier paper than on Monday and Tuesday, but now a wisp of its former self; comparable to Saturday's edition of the New York Times, which has always been known for its fashionably svelte size 4. If someone held a contest for the wispiest daily newspaper today, the LA Times would win, hands down.

Los Angeles Times Wednesday:

New York Times Saturday:

Talking about newspapers and their slow disappearing act, one wonders when it all started. Having just read the eye-popping revelations in Sallie Bingham's book, "Passion and Prejudice: A family memoir," about her family, the Binghams of Louisville, who owned the two local newspapers, The Louisville Times and the Courier-Journal, the slow kill started a lot earlier than the massive layoffs and online explosion of this past decade. Back in the early eighties when computers were replacing electric typewriters and eliminating expensive steps in offset printing, Barry Bingham Jr was alarmed at the decline in readership and wanted to create an "electronic newspaper"; he gave up on the idea when he realized it would be too expensive. Imagine if he'd had the foresight to see where the monster was heading....

 printing press or guillotine?
(photo credit:

But the real kill factor was this: powerful newspaper families (like the Binghams, like the Chandlers of Los Angeles) who used their influence to affect politics and public opinion were no longer sustainable: the old white moneyed folks refused to concede their control to outside players, hanging on despite what was happening in the world around them, a paradoxical equation. Case in point, in the mid-eighties, long after feminism had made inroads, Barry Bingham Jr wouldn't allow his sisters or mother to sit on the newspaper's board, which pissed off Sallie, and Sallie was one person you didn't want to piss. That one act eventually led to the downfall of the family's empire.

Is getting our news online so bad? No. But I love feeling the crinkled, slightly moist paper in the morning, picking it up off the porch and reading it while I'm having a cup of tea. I love turning the unwieldy pages, sitting with it, especially filling the gaps of what I know with new news, however abbreviated. I'd miss it if it were gone, but I might be fighting against a dying tide; newspapers are getting skinnier and skinnier and, as some predict, will one day disappear altogether. Murdoch anyone?

(photo credit: Tom Harjo)