These days, there are countless ways to act like an entitled jerk even if you don’t go around launching empty Turkey’s Nest cups into McCarren Park (pretty sure NYC squirrels are just paid actors anyway). For starters, Amazon Prime, Seamless, Caviar, and eBay have all contributed to a massive increase in packaging waste. But starting this week, if you live and/or order takeout food within the Greenpoint area, you can sign up for a new eco-conscious initiative that will help you hate yourself a little less. Patrons of two local restaurants will be given free takeout food containers that can be returned to the restaurant for reuse.
Life seems pretty bleak post-November 9, and even moreso when you consider that 2016 has been declared the “deadliest year on record” for transgender individuals in America, with 24 trans people– predominantly women of color– murdered so far.
This week, GLAAD’s Transgender Awareness Week continues, culminating on Sunday with the Transgender Day of Awareness. Founded in 1998 by a trans advocate in honor of trans woman Rita Hester’s memory, TDOR has been commemorated every year by vigils and other community-based events. Here are several goings-on this week, fun and solemn alike, that are either directly affiliated with Trans Awareness Week or serve to spotlight and lift up trans and queer individuals or groups.
Last night starting at 6 pm, thousands gathered in Union Square Park and marched over 40 blocks through the traffic-filled streets to Trump Tower and then to Columbus Circle to express their displeasure with Donald Trump being pronounced America’s next president.
One of the main organizers of the event was Socialist Alternative, a national activist organization wishing to rally against bipartisanism and global capitalism to “build an independent, alternative party of workers and young people.”
The mood was shifting just as I made my way toward House of Yes around 10 pm last night. Commentators on NBC, CNN, and anywhere else were starting to look flustered– especially Wolf Blitzer (a guy who looks like he passed up coffee to stick his fingers into an electrical socket) whose discombobulated outbursts and spastic reportage were only adding to a slowly-building sense of panic. Many battlegroud states were still too close to call, but Trump and Hillary were now neck-and-neck. That menacing meter on the New York Times site, which measured the probability of a Trump victory, was jumping up from its position at “we’re cool” to “we’re so, so fucked.”
“You know, after a while, wearing that rubber gorilla mask is really hard,” said Donna Kaz. She was describing one of the stranger realities of her double life. For the last 20 years, Kaz has worked as an artist/playwright deftly navigating the New York City theater world– this was the serious, successful woman I met at a coffee shop in Midtown last week. But for the rest of it, she’s donned a gorilla mask, deterred neither by sweat nor fear of suffocation. (Hell, even furries, the most diehard animal-suit lovers, agree that wearing such restrictive headgear can be punishing.)
The disguise has helped hide her identity, but it’s also served as a way for Kaz and an influential group of women artists known as the Guerrilla Girls, a “secret society” of activists, to assume new ones.
When America is faced with what seems to be an endless stream of police brutality, discrimination, and gentrification toward black and brown individuals, sharing an article for the fifth time can start to feel fruitless. Those of us who continue to see this kind of gut-wrenching news on our social media feeds can start to wonder what exactly we can do to help.
Governors Island is more than just another out-of-the-way-ish New York City nook. After years of abandonment, the island’s only recently embarked on a steady climb towards reclamation and it remains largely stuck in the past, having missed out on years of the progress seen by the rest of the city while interned as an exclusive home for military officers, then a coast guard haven, before it was abandoned altogether in 1996, left to hang in an off-limits sort of limbo, with nature serving as its only developer.
Fresh off the ferry, you might be only 800 yards from Lower Manhattan, but as you make your way inland, the Manhattan skyline starts to disappear, obscured by the super old Fort Jay, untrimmed trees, shrubs, and rolling grassy hills. The sirens fade into the background too, and time itself seems to slow down.
Depending on where you look, North Brooklyn is still replete with rusty reminders of its fairly recent manufacturing past, but as that history recedes farther off into the distance, pushed along by developers mining the cityscape for residential conversions (and now, slick new tech office space too), the memory of what stood there before is fading too. The area’s transformation has proceeded so quickly and dramatically that many new residents have no idea that they’re living next to an old pencil factory, or in some cases a Brownfield site.
It was difficult to ignore the fluttering signs at last week’s Bushwick Community Plan meeting. Sure, they were black-and-white, only about as big as two sheets of computer paper and just as flimsy, but there were tons of them. As City Council members Antonio Reynoso and Rafael Espinal touted their community-driven alternative to developer-led change, almost everyone sitting in front of them seemed to be holding a flyer reading: “EVICT THE RICH.” The rallying cry may have been more Mao Tse-tung than #BushwickBerners, but the Brooklyn Solidarity Network (BSN) couldn’t have been more serious.
Later on tonight, you might be brushing your teeth and instead of that familiar googly-eyed likeness staring back at you (everyone has that problem, right?) you’ll see nothing less than an animal abuser, or perhaps even a slave owner if you choose to be really honest with yourself. Your French bulldog Greg will suddenly seem like a sullen prisoner in that skin-tight raincoat you force him to wear on the reg, even when it’s a cloudless, sweltering 90-degree July day and he’s emitting piercing, parrot-like screams as he struggles to escape. And those Bob Evans sausage griddles you chased with a tall glass of heavy whipping cream for dinner? Well, your Wienerwurst Wednesday tradition might seem, suddenly, very disgusting.
“I need to get into a women’s prison. I need to get into another men’s prison. Maybe I can get into two women’s prisons, or three more men’s prisons,” Fury Young said, punching his open hand with his fist emphatically. “I don’t know, but I want to try and at least get into one more of each.”
I realized the Bushwick-based prison reform activist wasn’t really directing this statement toward me– instead he was drilling himself about what remains left of his enormously ambitious passion project. For years, Young has been at work on Die Jim Crow– an effort that, so far, has taken him to a State Prison in Ohio and to neighborhoods in New York City and Philadelphia with particularly high incarceration rates. Along the way, he has recorded and collaborated with musicians who, at one time or another, have spent time behind bars or are currently locked up. “It’s the first anti-prison album recorded in prison,” he explained.
Last week, Elliot Caldwell was fatally shot outside of Campos Plaza, the NYCHA public housing project where he’d grown up. An EV Grieve commenter noted that the 23-year-old had been arrested in 2013 when the Manhattan DA busted alleged members of the Money Boyz, a coke-dealing gang based out of the East Village housing project. DNAinfo wrote that a woman claiming to be Caldwell’s aunt told reporters: “He was a great father. He changed his life for his son. He just got caught up in a bad situation.”
The NYPD told B+B that the suspect in Caldwell’s shooting is described as a “black male wearing a red hoodie,” who “fled from the scene on foot.” So far there have been no arrests, and police say the investigation is ongoing.