“That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent natural rights . . . among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”
You probably think that Thomas Jefferson wrote these words, but actually, they were written by a neighbor of George Washington, George Mason, and then revised by Jefferson for the Declaration of Independence. I’m reading a terrific biography of Washington by Ron Chernow. Food for thought: At what point is it acceptable for someone to be considered the author of the words that s/he’s edited? Talk about issues of intellectual property right at the get-go of this country’s founding.
When I was a girl growing up in Brooklyn, July 5th was always a very busy, exciting day. I would get up early and comb through the detritus of the streets (this at a time when everyone had their own stash of firecrackers that they’d set off) for firecracker wrappers. For several years I collected these wrappers and organized them into pages in a scrapbook. I’ve photographed two of them. The one with the Apollo spaceship on it is from 1970. I loved the bright colors, the stylized artistry. Most of the fireworks (and I have to assume that the artwork as well) were made in Macau. I’d love to hear from anyone else who has such a peculiar collection. Of course, I have to wonder, What kind of a patriotic display is it if the fireworks are all made in China?
I went to a fascinating event last weekend (yes, I’m blogging but I still ruminate for several days over what I might write like an old-fashioned writer): Two young musicians guitarist Ben Kaplan and composer Peter Flinthttp://peterflintmusic.com/ played together for free in a little exhibition space called 571 Projects http://www.571projects.com/. Kaplan played guitar and synthesizer and Flint played accordion also electronically altered. They played the kind of Reichian/Glassian Bang-on-a-Can new music that I love. So about 20 of us sat there sweating and rocking to the music, while glancing around at these mixed media pieces based on the painter’s time spent in the Everglades. But what was particular poignant was to learn that this space, which had been there for 3 years, if I recall correctly, was due to close at the end of the summer. Why? Because the building, which sits off the corner from the Chelsea Piers, that is, in prime Manhattan real estate land thanks to all the artists’ galleries, was being demolished to make way for high-end condos. Big surprise, right? It’s what always happens. Except there are those of us who remember what it was like when New York was a place where young artists—dancers, writers, painters, theater performers, musicians—were able to move and live, working at peripheral jobs while still pursuing their metier. This has all become less and less possible. As the terrific raconteur Fan Lebowitz puts it in her Martin Scorsese documentary, Public Speaking, to paraphrase: If a city is nothing but rich people, it’s not a very fascinating place. She uses the word fascinating as the camera pans over the seedy, but somehow authentic, Times Square (with its FASCINATION parlorhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/christianmontone/4830837185/lightbox/), which she mourns has become a cleaned-up tourist spot one is ashamed to be seen passing through. I’ll save my trip to Brooklyn for a future post.
In the Bryant Park Word for Word Poetry finale reading of the summer season, Sharon will be reading with Eduardo Corral, Dean Kostos, and Mike T. Young on Tuesday, Aug. 28th, at 7pm. Outdoors at the Bryant Park Reading Room, located at 6th Avenue and W. 42nd Street in NYC.
Rain Venue: The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, 20 West 44th Street (between 5th & 6th Avenues) http://www.bryantpark.org/