Photo diary: January 2017 (vacation in Vieques)

February 20, 2017

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After a break of four years, we returned to the restful paradise of Vieques for a week’s vacation, thanks to our hosts Andy and Michael. There were cocktails at Hector’s by the Sea (with Louis and Brent), a sunset sailboat ride (with Brad), shopping at the farmer’s market (to lay eyes on the island tubers we were eating at restaurants, like yautia), coffee at a new cafe in town named after its handsome owner Inigo…but mostly a whole lot of lying by the pool reading.

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Photo diary: January 2017 (Women’s March in DC)

February 13, 2017

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As soon as I heard about it, I knew I had to go to Washington for the Women’s March the day after the inauguration. It turned out to be a monumental historic gathering, and I love having the pictures to document the sweetness, the humor, the defiance, and the collective power of the event. I was supposed to “march” with Gays Against Guns, participating as one of the Human Beings, representing women who were victims of gun violence (thus the all-white outfit, including graduation gown). But the GAG contingent took the bus down from NYC early that morning, I was already in DC, and by the time we got to the site the crowds were so huge there was no way to get to the designated meeting spot. So I stuck with my friends Joe and Clint. A neighbor of theirs in the Petworth neighborhood gifted us with freshly knitted pussyhats, so we rocked those all day.

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As a sheer expression of solidarity, The Women’s March was exhilarating. The rally, though, was almost impossible to enjoy, given the unprecedented size of the event. Like much else about the march, the logistics were planned as if no one else would be there. The lineup of speakers was amazing. Maybe 1000 people actually got to see/hear them. The rest of us spent hours stuck on the metro trying to get there, then an hour shuffling through the streets trying to find a place to stand, then a couple of hours standing in place craning our necks to glimpse a Jumbotron, hearing only scraps of speeches wafting from scattered loudspeakers.

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I caught a glimpse of Scarlett Johanssen and Alicia Keys, heard Angelique Kidjo sing a song, no one else I recognized. Mostly we entertained each other with our signs and chants. “We won’t go away! Welcome to your first day!” “He’s orange! He’s gross! He lost the popular vote!” “Build a fence around Mike Pence!”

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As the speeches dragged on and on and on, the 300K toward the back started chanting “March! March!” Easier said than done in such a huge crowd. I had no idea Madonna was around. I was bummed not to hear Gloria Steinem or Angela Davis.

BUT…it was a day of high spirits, no violence, and great love. Given the crowds, I was amazed at how many friends I did bump into. Joe, who’s lived in DC for 32 years and knows everybody, was jealous, until we finally ran into someone he knew — the DC chief of police, Peter Newsham, who told us he was thrilled to receive a hug from Cher. Joe and Clint and I parked on a bench between the Washington Monument and the White House to cool our jets and became a popular photo op (Old Fags in Pussyhats).

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I was really glad I went. It was exciting to be part of history. And…the next day I felt quite depressed, because the grotesque joke of this regime goes on.

 


Quote of the day: JOY

February 13, 2017

JOY

In general, one must try with all one’s might to be joyful always. For it is human nature to be drawn to bitterness and sadness because of the wounds one has suffered – and every person is full of troubles. So one must force oneself, with a great effort, to be happy always…

Now, it is also true that a broken heart is very good – but only at certain times. So, it is wise to set an hour each day to break one’s heart and talk to God, as we do. But the rest of the day, one must be in joy.

–Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav
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Photo diary: January 2017 (the anti-inaugural)

February 10, 2017

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You wouldn’t know it from watching the Senate Republicans’ disgraceful rubber-stamping of the appointments of one compromised and/or unqualified candidate after another to powerful cabinet positions, but the vast majority of the American people expressed their opposition to this president’s agemda on Election Day by voting for another candidate or not voting at all. I am reminded of that and heartened when I look at the pictures I took in Washington on January 20 and 21, where the streets were full of cheerful, energized resistance. Similar scenes took place that day and many days since then all over the world.

The night before the inauguration, theaters all over the country launched the Ghostlight Project, whose mission statement reads: WE WILL GATHER OUTSIDE OF THEATERS TO CREATE A “LIGHT” FOR DARK TIMES AHEAD, AND TO MAKE, OR RENEW, A PLEDGE TO STAND FOR AND PROTECT THE VALUES OF INCLUSION, PARTICIPATION, AND COMPASSION FOR EVERYONE REGARDLESS OF RACE, CLASS, RELIGION, COUNTRY OF ORIGIN, IMMIGRATION STATUS, (DIS)ABILITY, AGE, GENDER IDENTITY, OR SEXUAL ORIENTATION. I showed up for the launch at the Arena Stage, which was also hosting a community farewell to the Obamas that night.

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The next day my friend Joe Martin, who worked closely with Barney Frank for many years, and I made the rounds of the anti-inaugural events. Festive crowds gathered at noon at Union Station, people of all ages and colors, with signs, banners, puppets, and marching bands.

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Later in the afternoon the scene shifted to McPherson Square, where there was a rally with numerous speakers and musical performances, but the action was mostly hanging out in the streets communing with others as a gray pall hung over the city. A contingent of anarchists broke some windows and torched a limousine, which the TV news highlighted to suggest dangerous rioting in the streets, but the gathering was pretty low-key. The police presence was enormous, and I got the distinct feeling they were pretty much on our side. The people in the red baseball caps trickling out of the official inauguration wore expressions that looked somewhere between smug and sheepish.

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At the end of the day, Joe’s husband Clint met us at Busboys and Poets, a hip and groovy cafe/coffeehouse near the Catholic University campus, for dinner, where they were passing out free copies of Shepard Fairey’s beautiful “We the People” poster (you can also download it for free here) and where we spied this cute young couple rocking their pussyhats.

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Quote of the day: HYPATIA

February 9, 2017

HYPATIA

The greatest library in the ancient world [was] located not in Italy but in Alexandria, the capital of Egypt and the commercial hub of the eastern Mediterranean. The city had many tourist attractions…but visitors always took note of something quite exceptional: in the center of the city, at a lavish site known as the Museum, most of the intellectual inheritance of Greek, Latin, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Jewish cultures had been assembled at enormous cost and carefully archived for research…

Hypatia was the daughter of a mathematician, one of the Museum’s famous scholars-in-residence. Legendarily beautiful as a young woman, she had become famous for her attainments in astronomy, music, mathematics, and philosophy. Students came from great distances to study the works of Plato and Aristotle under her tutelage. Such was her authority that other philosophers wrote to her and anxiously solicited her approval. “If you decree that I ought to publish my book,” wrote one such correspondent to Hypatia, “I will dedicate it to orators and philosophers together.” If, on the other hand, “it does not seem to you worthy,” the letter continues, “a close and profound darkness will overshadow it, and mankind will never hear it mentioned.”

Wrapped in the traditional philosopher’s cloak, called a tribon, and moving about the city in a chariot, Hypatia was one of Alexandria’s most visible public figures. Women in the ancient world often lived sequestered lives, but not she. “Such was her self-possession and ease of manner, arising from the refinement and cultivation of her mind,” writes a contemporary, “that she not infrequently appeared in public in presence of the magistrates.” Her easy access to the ruling elite did not mean that she constantly meddled in politics. At the time of the earlier attacks on the cult images, she and her followers evidently held themselves aloof, telling themselves perhaps that the smashing of inanimate statues left intact what really mattered. But with the agitation against the Jews it must have become clear that the flames of fanaticism were not going to die down.

Hypatia’s support for Orestes’ refusal to expel the city’s Jewish population may help to explain what happened next. Rumors began to circulate that her absorption in astronomy, mathematics, and philosophy – so strange, after all, in a woman – was sinister: she must be a witch, practicing black magic. In March 415 the crowd, whipped into a frenzy by one of Cyril’s henchmen, erupted. Returning to her house, Hypatia was pulled from her chariot and taken to a church that was formerly a temple to the emperor. (The setting was no accident: it signified the transformation of paganism into the one true faith.) There, after she was stripped of her clothing, her skin was flayed off with broken bits of pottery. The mob then dragged her corpse outside the city walls and burned it. Their hero Cyril was eventually made a saint.

–Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve

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