Saturday, May 10, 2014

Can't afford the rent

It started with sliding the key under the door...

No. It started with getting no sleep the night before...

Or maybe it started with my last night in NY?

Or the night before that....

but whenever it started, I hadn't slept a wink when I slipped the key under the door and realized I'd left my phone inside the apt. The apt was on the 37th floor looking south over the new Freedom Tower. A monstrosity close up...

...but from far away, at sunset, with the sun reflecting off the slanted glass—a sight to behold!

I was leaving on a 7 a.m. flight and had to make it to Penn Station and find my way onto the LIRR (not difficult)...

but here it was 4:30 and my phone was inside. Since I was a guest resident, would management open the door again?

They did for a fee of $15.

Unfortunately, I didn't have it because my ATM card had been canceled the night before due to a security breach.

Maybe it started there?

The night before I'd had dinner with my great pals Melissa and Louise, who knew each other from Reed College and were friends before I met either of them. Every April (or at least for the past few) we've gotten together, the three of us.

Dinner with pals

Earlier in the day, Melissa had asked for my assist on a little adventure putting up ELKPEN'S artwork--to be distributed around NY.

We were trying to figure out how to tie the red-tailed hawk on the other side of the fence at St. John the Divine, when a tall strapping young man by the name of Ian walked by and asked, "Need any help?" Sure did! We had tried climbing the fence, but got stuck half-way up like escaped convicts under the scrutiny of a search light. Ian was a godsend.

A godsend!
Sign reads: 
"The red-tailed hawk is one of the largest hawks 
and females are larger than males. 
Paris stay together for life.
Two are nesting near here."

The night before I'd had my own adventure putting up two rat wheatpastes down on the Bowery, with my son Mekko who served as my look out. It was deeply satisfying leaving something behind in the city, especially near where I used to hang out in the 80s, but now catering to a different crowd....meaning, the moneyed.

"I used to live here but I can't afford the rent."

 Wheatpasting on the Bowery

Still up the next day! (Spring and Bowery)

You see, things had just started going well after a bout of uncertainty, doubt and a strange fear that took hold on this visit. What had I hoped to accomplish here? Whatever it was, I hadn't done it.

But after I put up the wheatpastes, things started falling into place. The next day I felt surprisingly open to the great flow of humanity that is New York City. After breakfast at B & H in the east village, I walked to the Community Settlement House, the first Jewish social justice organizations on the lower east side. Inside I stopped to admire the painted panels on each side of the entrance, naive imagery of scenes of early life on the LES. As I stood there, the artist of the panels appeared and introduced himself. In his hand was the most beautiful plate I had ever seen—a work he'd just shown to his ceramics class of elderly Chinese from the neighborhood. What good fortune, I thought, meeting this man, talking about his art, seeing the work of his students. We talked like old friends. 

I walked away with the plate wrapped in my sweater.

"Golden Pheasant"
by Lee  Brozgol

After that openness and lightness, that spontaneity and beauty, after helping to put up ELKPEN and dine with my friends, it hit me, I was leaving the next day— which caused me to toss and turn and stare up at the ceiling all night. That's when it happened: Reality set in. I was going home—home home home— to my real life in L.A.