Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Rake's Progress

Photo: Dick Connette

Mary Forrester, a fellow gardener, and I rake leaves from the bocci court in M'Finda Kalunga Community Garden at Chrystie and Rivington.

Cleaning up sheafs of papers, residue from eight months working on the book, is much harder than raking leaves, which is partly why I'm not at home doing just that. Outdoors, there are bright skies and white rumps of mocking birds flashing through sycamore trees: it's the citywide parks clean-up day.

Harder too is keeping hold of New York's few remaining public
meeting spaces. Like the landmarked northern plaza at Union Square, which Union Square Business Improvement District threatens to scale back with its belligerent development plans. There's nothing deciduous about public space; it doesn't regenerate itself year by year. (See Jack Taylor's letter to the editor in this week's The Villager , and also M'Finda Kalunga co-chair Kate Webster's letter re : the Bowery. )

While we rake--
a Sisyphean task in early fall--we talk about Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis, Mary Jordan's very good documentary. Mary Forrester, a performance artist /urban anthropologist who has lived on the Bowery for decades, worked closely with Smith in the 70s. After 9/11 she held salons in her loft with live French music and sweet crab apple shishkebobs to cheer people up.