I heart New York!

I am so f’in excited about this that I can’t even organize my thoughts. But I’m gonna try.  So yesterday, just like the first time I voted for Obama, I ran to the school where I vote to mark my ballot for…

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deblasio ask anything

Now, I must admit that though I do like what little I know of his politics and am not shy about my democratic tendencies, I was really voting for…

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For the guy who prompted a good friend of mine to text, “Are those his kids!?” as de Blasio delivered his sagacious acceptance speech standing amidst his family.

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I voted for the man who once made the bold choice to give up some of his white privilege to live the life he wanted with the woman he loved.  For the guy with kids that remind me of me.  For the family that looks like mine did once.

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I voted for a future where people have learned to see this:

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and think “family.”  A friend of mine once wrote in a wonderful novel*, “What a family is should shouldn’t be so hard to see.  It should be the one thing people know just by looking at you.”  That is Truth. But for some of us it hasn’t been the truth of our experience.  And that doesn’t feel so good.

Now…maybe, soon… people will see this

New York mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio embraces his daughter Chiara during a campaign rally in Brooklyn, New York

or this 😉

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and think Father/Daughter, and not Age “Inappropriate” Interracial Couple?

I voted for the future I always wanted to be my present.  I left that school and I skipped up the block.  Just for, like, 17 seconds cuz I am 37 years old after all, but I just couldn’t contain the joy! I couldn’t have predicted that feeling either.  I think that even though we have the Obamas, it’s not quite the same and I figured it wouldn’t get any better than that.  It just did!   Thank you de Blasio Family and thank you New York City!  xo-Tiff

*The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow

P.S. Here’s a fun, and totally non-political, article.  I love what Chiara says about seeing what other people have to go through.  She acknowledges her white privilege.  Yeah, we get a fraction of that too.

Chiara & Dante de Blasio: 5 Things To Know About New NYC Mayor’s Kids

Wed, November 6, 2013  by 

The newly elected NYC mayor’s teens are just about the coolest kids in politics — and their edgy fashion senses, trendy hairstyles, and enthusiastic participation in their dad’s campaign are just the beginning. Here’s what you need to know about Chiara and Dante!

Chiara de Blasio, 18, and Dante de Blasio, 16 are such stylish young adults that they nearly stole the spotlight away from their dad, Bill de Blasio, who was elected the new mayor of New York City on Nov. 4. Learn more about the new first kids of NYC!

5 Things To Know About NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Kids

1. Chiara and Dante are really smart! Dante is a high school junior at Brooklyn Tech, which one of the city’s elite public high schools. Chiara, is a sophomore in college at a private liberal arts school in northern California. She plans to major in environmental studies.

2. Dante’s afro is so cool that absolutely everyone is noticing! President Barack Obama even mentioned it at a Democratic Party Fundraiser in New York in Sept. 2013. He “has the same hairdo as I had in 1978,” Obama told the crowd before complimenting his look. “Although I have to confess my Afro was never that good. It was a little imbalanced.” Chiara loves switching up her own style, from sporting floral crown hair accessories to trying out dreads.

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3. Dante was featured in his dad’s campaign ads, and his videos quickly went viral. Chiara also expressed that she loved being part of her dad’s campaign process. “I like understanding what’s going on better. In every way I think that I’m lucky to live the life that I live,” Chiara told NY Mag. ”I don’t have a lot of the problems that other people have. It’s very important for me to see what other people go through.

4. Chiara’s fashion sense is completely new for a first daughter of New York City. She has ear gauges, an eyebrow piercing, and a nose piercing.

5. Chiara has publicly said that her dad is not “some boring white guy,” and that his cultural awareness comes from his global projects and his own multi-cultural family! Chiara and Dante’s dad, Bill comes from German and Italian American backgrounds and their mom, Chirlane McCray is African American. “A lot of people could look at him and just see the color of his skin, but it’s so much deeper than that,” Chiara told NY Mag.

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speaking of freedom

I cannot forget that “liberty and justice for all” wasn’t really for all.  So much for being impeccable with your word, Founding Fathers.  Here’s an interesting snippet of the history of the struggle for freedom in this nation.  The struggle of those who toiled to build it and cultivate it’s wealth, and one man who was dedicated to assisting them.  I’m curious about the early years of Henry Ward Beecher’s life.  I wonder how he came to see the truth, when the illusion was set up to work in his favor.

Underground Railroad

VIA

The road to freedom is one of the great themes of American history. The story of the Underground Railroad exemplifies the profound power of that journey. Following the lead of its famed antislavery preacher Henry Ward Beecher, Plymouth Church played a fundamental part in New York City ‘s underground activity.

From the very beginnings of slavery in America, slaves escaped to freedom. They ran to the wilderness; they went to live with the ever-hospitable Indians; they slipped into cities and made their claim as free Blacks. In the Revolutionary era, Puritan New England and Quaker Pennsylvania passed legislation abolishing slavery. The exodus northward, which came to be known as the Underground Railroad, began. By 1831, the term “Underground Railroad” had been coined to describe the informal, secretive network of ordinary citizens, Black and White, whose safe houses offered refuge.

Although Plymouth Church was not established until 1847, just fourteen years before the start of the Civil War, it later became known as “the Grand Central Depot” of the Underground Railroad. Oral tradition and several published memoirs tell us that slaves seeking passage to Canada may have hidden in the tunnel-like basement beneath the church sanctuary (this space can still be visited during our public and school tours). Beecher’s private stenographer, T.J. Ellinwood, quotes the Minister as claiming, “I opened Plymouth Church”, though you did not know it, to hide fugitives. I took them into my own home and fed them. I piloted them, and sent them toward the North Star, which to them was the Star of Bethlehem.“ The Rev. Charles B. Ray, an African-American living in Manhattan, and the founding editor of the Colored American newspaper, was quoted as saying, “I regularly drop off fugitives at Henry Ward Beecher‘s Plymouth Church in Brooklyn.” Other churches in Brooklyn and Manhattan, especially Black churches, also hid escapees, but most have since moved to newer buildings. Plymouth Church is one of the few active Underground Railroad congregations in New York still housed in its original location.

Henry Ward Beecher

Plymouth’s first minister, the Rev.Henry Ward Beecher , spearheaded and symbolized Plymouth’s antislavery activity, but the founding members of Plymouth selected him as their pastor in no small part because they knew he would do so. He already had a record as an opponent to slavery when he made those beliefs clear in his trial sermon for Plymouth. Beecher and his peers were greatly influenced by the Second Great Awakening, a Protestant religious revival of the early 1800’s, firmly committed to abolishing slavery. As a student at Amherst College, he helped found an abolitionist organization, which was promptly shut down by the faculty. At seminary in Cincinnati, he contributed to an antislavery newspaper which was mobbed and destroyed; he also patrolled the streets of that city, fully armed, when temporary special policemen were called upon to protect free Blacks from threats. When he was a minister in Indianapolis, his limited preaching on the subject caused members to leave his church, but he remained active in the Underground Railroad there, as his widow, Eunice, recalled years later.

Enormous publicity surrounded one of Beecher’s first antislavery acts at Plymouth Church. In 1848, 77 fugitive slaves were sold in Washington after the failure of the largest group escape attempt on the Underground Railroad. In that group were two teenage girls, the Edmondson sisters. Thanks to the fundraising efforts of people like Beecher to regain the girls’ freedom, the Edmondsons galvanized public support for the abolitionist movement – and inspired Beecher’s own sister, Harriet, to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Beecher, with his newly elevated public profile, had to be especially circumspect in harboring escaped slaves. Eventually, in 1872, he was named by The Brooklyn Eagle as an active participant in the Underground Railroad. The article claimed that Plymouth’s minister helped dozens of fugitives in cooperation with a man in New York named “Napoleon.” This Napoleon “had the matter of escape under his charge and whenever a slave was sent on to Mr. Beecher he, Napoleon, would fix things along the Central Railroad and see to it that the officials along the route were got into friendly disposition for the fugitive.” The article does not indicate Napoleon’s race, but he may well have been Black, for Black involvement in the Underground Railroad almost certainly exceeded that of Whites.

There are believed to be many members of the Plymouth congregation who were active in the Underground Railroad. Evidence suggests that escaped slaves were hidden in the homes of several Plymouth members. The Church treasurer, S.V. White, had a small chamber in his house said to have been used to hide runaways, a room that was still in existence in the 1900s. One of the Church’s greatest activists in the Underground Railroad was Lewis Tappan. He is best remembered as a leader in organizing efforts to release the escaped slaves of the Amistad in 1839. Later, he helped fund the creation of Plymouth Church (his daughter, Lucy Tappan Bowen, was one of the original 21 members), but he did not join until 1856. As part of his work helping runaway slaves, he provided refuge in his home to a 15-year-old girl who escaped by pretending to be a male conductor on a New York-bound ferry.

All this was taking place in one of the most pro-slavery states of the North. Not until 1827 was slavery finally abolished in New York. Much of this attitude may be traced to the years when New York was a proprietary colony of the Duke of York, a major shareholder in the slave-trading Royal Africa Company. With his powerful influence, he instructed the governors to do everything possible to sell more slaves. After independence, the close business relations between Southern planters and New York merchants continued to enhance pro-owner sympathy.

Whatever ambivalent feelings about slavery remained in New York, they were greatly tested in 1850. That year, the country began negotiating slavery in the newly acquired territories seized during the Mexican-American War. The designation of new slaveholding states, plus the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act requiring all American citizens to assist in apprehending runaway slaves, incensed many Northerners. The work of the Underground Railroad intensified. These were the years of Plymouth Church’s greatest involvement, and, by 1860, it was certainly the most famous church in America. One year later, the Civil War began, and Plymouth continued to supply material and spiritual support to a devastated country. Five brutal years later, slavery was outlawed, and Plymouth Church’s role in the Underground Railroad could finally, thankfully, come to an end.

The exact statistics of the Underground Railroad – how many slaves escaped, how many free citizens aided them – will never be known. But we do know that this was a time and an undertaking in which Blacks and Whites came together to right a grievous wrong. It should also be said that, for the members of Plymouth Church, and for most if not all of those who took part, they did so to live out their Christian faith.

Portraits of abolitionists Charles Sumner, Henry Ward Beecher, Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison, Gerrit Smith, Horace Greeley and Henry Wilson, c. 1866

pianos among us

I love this!! I saw one last night.  Find out where they are HERE.

Play Me, I’m Yours: Public Pianos

Public art is great, but it’s usually just a sculpture or painting you look at. The artist Luke Jerram wanted to do something more participatory. In 2008, he placed working pianos in public places around the English city of Birmingham. Each was painted with the words “Play me, I’m yours.” The public pianos were a hit, and since then, Jerram has taken “Play Me, I’m Yours” to Bristol, São Paulo, and Sydney.

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This year, from June 22 to July 10, he’s bringing the public pianos to London and New York City simultaneously. They’ll be installed in parks, plazas, and other public places, filling both cities with interesting new sounds. According to Jerram, past installations have “levered many hidden musicians from out of the woodwork” and from the looks of that picture, musicians-in-training like them too.

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dancers among us

Dancers Among Us is a collection of NYC dance photographs featuring members of the Paul Taylor, Mark Morris and Martha Graham Dance Companies. This is an ongoing project that began in the spring of 2009. There were no trampolines or other devices used for these images, just thousands of hours of training! Photos by Jordan Matter.

missed connections

I’m loving Sophie Blackall’s “Missed Connections” blog.  Great concept, great illustrations!  I personally have never had a missed connection.

SOPHIE BLACKALL
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
Messages in bottles, smoke signals, letters written in the sand; the modern equivalents are the funny, sad, beautiful, hopeful, hopeless, poetic posts on Missed Connections websites. Every day hundreds of strangers reach out to other strangers on the strength of a glance, a smile or a blue hat. Their messages have the lifespan of a butterfly. I’m trying to pin a few of them down.
-m4w – 28
Not only did you introduce me to the wonderful world of knitting, I quickly found myself smitten with you after chatting for a few minutes. Despite you mentioning you had a boyfriend, I can only hope he is terminally ill so that I’ll get a shot at knitting something for you one day.
You were one of the warmest people I’ve met on a subway at 2am, and a reminder why I love this city.

– w4m – 23 (Hoboken, NJT station)
I just wanted to say thank you for offering to help carry my little orangey/pink suitcase. It really meant a lot because I was having a really terrible day.
-Half asian girl in the green shirt

sorry your bike got stolen. its beautiful. when some guy offered it to me for 40 bucks, i didnt even think twice. i was drunk, missing my bike and figured if not me, someone else would buy it anyways. also, my bike got stolen last week. who knows, maybe you bought it for 40 bucks from some guy on the street. so if you see me riding it, feel free to say hey. maybe we could trade back. if not, you can buy it from me for 40 bucks. id buy my old bike back for 40 bucks. it was way more comfortable than this one.

– m4w – (greenpoint)
asked myself why the letter ‘n’ all night long, then you were gone before i got a chance to ask. also, i saved you a piece of cake.
do you always sit in a circle of asian girls? and sit at the top of the stairs so everyone gets a crush on you when they get to the roof?

hugh jackman

 

Hugh Jackman has refused to deny that he is gay. 

The married actor has been persistently rumoured to be homosexual since he played Australian musician Peter Allen in camp musical The Boy From Oz in 2003.

Jackman is reluctant to refute the allegations because he feels it encourages a derogatory view of homosexuality.

“I’d be happy to go and deny being gay, because I’m not. But by denying it, I’m saying there is something shameful about it, and there isn’t anything shameful,” he said.

“The questions about sexuality I find more in America than anywhere else, because it’s a big hang-up and defines what people think about themselves and others. It’s not a big issue in Australia.”

Jackman also revealed he and his wife Deborra-Lee Furness – who have been married for 13 years – felt very strongly about adopting multi-racial children Oscar, eight, and Ava, three.

He told Parade magazine: “Mixed-race babies have such a hard time being adopted that Deb and I checked off that box specifically when we were filling out our forms.

“Our lawyer brought the form back to us and said, ‘This is not the time to be politically correct. Are you sure this is what you want?’ We were definite about it. Adoption is about taking a baby into your home and your heart. It’s the best thing we’ve ever done.”

4/23/2009

http://www.thewest.com.au/default.aspx?MenuID=5&ContentID=137722

 

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I enjoy Hugh Jackman very much.

 A) He’s Wolverine, and as a University of Michigan graduate aren’t I obligated to like him?  

2) I saw The Boy From Oz and he blew me away.  Really fantastic!  Like Liza.  (The real Liza, tho the Liza in The Boy From Oz was quite good.)

3) Did you see the opening of the Oscars? Enough said. 

4) I actually stood a few feet away from the impossibly handsome Hugh Jackman and his mixed race son, and witnessed one of my favorite interactions ever.  It was so good that I didn’t even pick up on the fact that his son is mixed.  Picture it: New York City. 2006.  The Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle.  Heading out of the building, Hugh and son.  Heading into the building, Barbara Walters.  (Standing in between, me, but who cares.)  Hugh sees her and calls out, “Hi Barbara!” Barbara, head down trying desperately not to be recognized, keeps eyes to the ground moves to her left still heading for the escalators.  Hugh keeps grinning and says, “Barbara? Barbara, it’s Hugh.”  At this point they’ve caught up to each other. (Like right next to me, but who cares.) He keeps walking with her and actually bends down to meet her downcast gaze.  “It’s Hugh.”  She is simultaneously relieved and embarrassed.   She laughs a bit nervously, “Oh, Hugh….”  They have a nice little convo and part ways.   It was funny and cute.