New York

Such Things Have Done Harm

Such Things Have Done Harm

The only people I ever hear saying the world needs stories are the people involved in telling them

We should be willing to demand more than fellow feeling. The New York City Council crowed about its progressivism in passing a billion-dollar reduction in the NYPD’s budget. That number would just about return the department budget to the levels it was under Mayor Bloomberg’s administration. It is indicative of a dangerous lack of imagination if the best we can do is make a tacit admission that it was unwise to give the police more resources in the years after the rise of Black Lives Matter.

The Dead Live Longer

The Dead Live Longer

My dead ex-friend had a beautiful, long neck

Her mother’s prophecy struck me as a terrible, sinister curse: You, daughter, will die before me. The curse of a miserable woman who should never have had a child. A daughter. A Greek curse, though I don’t know of a Greek tragedy with that in its story. Here is a daughter cursed by her mother, who becomes a curse to her friends. I wasn’t alone.

Epilogue for a Way of Life

Epilogue for a Way of Life

We were a sick society and getting sicker

The Decameron came to mind first, but as the weeks went on, our minds wandered to reruns of The Jetsons that we used to watch as kids. A smug depiction of an optimized society so stratified that its beneficiaries literally lived above the clouds, The Jetsons always made us wonder about all the people living below, on Earth, in cities abandoned by the techno-optimists of the future. Now we knew.

Ground Zero

Ground Zero

Melanin and accents are ineffective binding substances 

No matter how far away you were from New York that day, no matter how distant your connection to that day was, no matter how much lower than zero the count of the people you lost on that day was, if you were white, 9/11 happened to you personally, with blunt and scalding force. Because the antithesis of an American is an immigrant and because we could not be victims in the public eye, we became suspects. And so September 11 changed the immigration landscape forever. Muslims and Sikhs became the targets of hate crimes. ICE was the creation of 9/11 paranoia.

A Walk in the Park

A Walk in the Park

A memento mori at the heart of the leisure zone

The thought occurs to me that if the park were to be sealed off with everyone inside, it could develop its own political and social system. It would be an opportunity to completely remake society, refashion a kinder, more equitable way of life. But then the subcultures would form alliances and rivalries. Perhaps the cyclists would go to war with the joggers over control of the roadway.

In Bloom

In Bloom

Pink petals scatter over cement sidewalks

I scrambled around my neighborhood to different stores. I was sweating in my jacket in the blaring sun as people gathered together on stoops or smoked outside the coffee shop on my block, buds of magnolia blooms sprouted on bare branches. It was spring in Brooklyn. When I came home my head started to hurt. Maybe it was allergies. I started feeling foggy.

There Is No Outside

There Is No Outside

Health workers can respond to this crisis by taking up working-class struggles as our own

The emergency room is a smog of coronavirus—and how could it not be? A person on a bed deprived of even the modesty of a curtain can’t be expected to keep a mask on for the eight or twelve hours they may be waiting there, before anyone comes to examine them. Those who end up waiting longer, as so many do, may get upgraded to a spot near the wall, which helps create the illusion of being in a room. One wall, after all, is one more than zero. This is how poor folks experience our health care system.