Sunday, September 21, 2014

Random Musings on the big Climate Change March...

...that happened in NYC yesterday, in order of the pictures I shot.

I got a gig, through my homie, to follow and photograph a decently known educational institution/think tank's participation in the climate change march. The pictures I took of the client specifically or pertaining to them I won't put up... they were paying clients.

But I veered off and snapped things that made me think, and since I happened to be at a demonstration that I would not ordinarily participate in (because I don't really believe in the validity of expending the energy) I did quite a bit of thinking.

The march wasn't hyped a whole lot prior to yesterday; at least not where I would see. Which means Facebook. Or maybe, because I DON'T participate in these things FB knows it and didn't show me that it was "trending." But in any event, a whole lot of people--some 310,000 came out. I gotta say; that's pretty impressive.

It was also pretty low-key as far as the Po-Po were concerned; personally my jaded heart thinks because yesterday's march was more "edutational" (education/entertainment); I barely saw the po-po and when I did--a white-shirt cautioned me about the moving vehicle I was following--he was down right polite and offered an explanation. Well, THAT'S never happened to me before. I hear tell today was different; but I bet any money it's because today's demonstrations were more targeted, against Wall Street. The 1% won't allow you to mess with their money.

So that brings me to my first overall impression;

  • "Nice march." Very heartening to see 310,000 people of some diversity with one unifying thought. I almost got warm and fuzzy. Except I know that it's a lost cause.... the ink is already dry on the documents that seal the doom of our planet. The Ark that will ferry the 1% to safety when the flood waters rise... that boat is already full (if you miss the reference, go watch "2012"... I'm a firm believer that if there's a movie about it, some writer got wind of some info he knows no one will ever believe so he writes a "fantasy" about it...).

But here are more random musings...
  • "Beautiful dog!" I thought he might be an Alsatian which is a breed I don't often see in America, but supposedly they are bigger than German Shepherds and this one was pretty small. He caught my eye because of his beautiful "brindle" coat, and the fact that he was alert and ready to do his job.


  • "Nice face!" He reminded me of my Sun's uncle, but then he also looked a little Hispanic and he was dressed in monk robes. It made me want to wonder a whole life story for him.



  • "Wow, that is some head of hair!" I guess what they call a "Jewfro". His hair was the biggest hair I've ever seen. He never smiled. Someone with that much hair should smile often.

  • "Big Homie." Formerly known here as BigMan... which he objects to cuz he thinks I'm making fun. I'm not, I told him, but you ARE significantly bigger than me. But I love him, I really do. He makes me smile. He makes me a nicer person. And he puts up with me, which is no small feat. And I REALLY enjoy working with him... we never take the same picture but together we cover all bases.



  • "Hmmm...." His sign read something like "Blacks, it's time to flee; you are a commodity to be traded..." or something to that effect. I didn't get him full-frontal. At first I was annoyed by his presence, messin' up the good vibe, but then again, his message was a little funny, a little ironic, and something to ponder. If the world is gonna go... maybe we SHOULD just get moving. It's not REALLY our mess..... meaning... most brown folk don't own the large climate-fucking conglomerates, now do we??? I'm just sayin'.... Plus, the guy was owning his message. Check out the shoes.

  • Speaking of... my missive on this gig was to show the diversity of the crowd, so I made a point to look for it. And to point out the lack of it. My pictures reflect a variety of folk at the Climate March, which was heartening. But certain groups noticeably outnumbered other groups. Mexicans, for instance, were not apparent. It also happened to be the Mexican Day parade but I saw VERY FEW, if any, indigenous Mexicans there. Also it was the African American Day Parade in Harlem... but still. The lack of color overall was pretty apparent, and it made me wonder if, were there not a parade, are brown Americans SO disenfranchised with the American system that we would not show have shown up to a march with a universal concern? And I'm not saying we didn't; there were contingents. But a picture is worth a thousand words... look for yourself (and PS this handsome man was one of the organizers):


  • "This selfie thing is outta control...."


  • I have a theory about cultural memory. There are certain things that people instinctively retain throughout time, without ever really thinking about it. Like a blood memory. You grow up seeing someone in your family do it, and then you do it, and the kids do it but no one really talks about it because it never occurs to you that it's a "thing." Brown people wrap their heads. We did it in Africa, we brought it over with us when we were forced here, and even if we don't consciously buy a piece of cloth for a head wrap we still have all kinds of elaborate head wraps... doo-rags, hair-do savers etc. With Euros, it's the flower or tree branch head wreath. On many occasions things cross cultures, and the flower wreath is no exception but whenever I see a flower or leaf wreath on someone's head, it's someone like this:

  • Teenagers. I was struck by her serenity even though she didn't seem thrilled to be wearing her hijab. She didn't mingle, as if she were uncomfortable. But she absolutely fit with the surroundings she was in at this moment. And she had an old soul.

Everything with teenagers is a chore; a struggle; a bother. But yet, when their parents make them attend things like Climate Marches and they can't escape, they take in EVERYTHING and learn tons but they'll NEVER let you know it actually meant something to them....


unless of course they are there with their friends.....


  • By the way....




as a nation we spend FAR TOO MUCH TIME on our Smart Phones.

And that lovely lady (who was very good natured) accidentally hit me with the sign she's holding. So of COURSE I said to her "You've literally hit me over the head with your faith" to which she busted out laughing.

  • Pre-teens are a lot more fun... they still do silly things.

  • I didn't catch this brother's name, but he was awesome. And he knew it. He caught me snapping and held the pose...
  • "Yes!" To me, this was like an unexpected piece of candy. He was a driver for one of the equipment trucks. I kind of wonder what he thought of this whole thing.


  • "#Idlenomore." I had on my Native Threads T-shirt while shooting. It was my private rebellion. See, last year when everyone was ignoring #Idlenomore thinking that it was only about Indian Sovereignty and broken treaties--which is part of it--First Nations were protesting broken treaties in part because the entities trying to break these treaties are large climate-fucking conglomerates whose illegal actions on tribal lands will destroy the air and the water for ALL of us. The march was cool and all... but overall I felt about it the way I felt about OWS a few years back.... "oh NOW that it's affecting YOU.... NOW you want to do something about it??? Meantime, we've been warning you for YEARS." So... I saw this brother in my other Indian shirt. Which happens to be my favorite. I got one of the first iterations of the shirt at Schemitzun in like 2010. The bottom of the shirt reads "Fighting Terrorism since 1492."

  • I was in the interfaith area of the Climate March... several thousand people of various faiths coming to pray together and show unity for the earth. Yes, it was tremendously inspiring--even for a jaded person like myself. I scanned the faces and MOST people there were there on faith. It didn't matter what their belief system was. There were atheists and Pagans, Catholics, Muslims, Christians, Spiritualists, Quakers and Jews. I'm a Jew. I'm a practicing in-the-tradition-of-my-forefathers kind of Jew, with a pretty (and increasingly conservative) view of the ideas in Judaism but I most identify with the outlook of the Reconstructionist Jews, mostly because I'm brown and they make me feel less self-conscious. But point blank... most Jews assume by looking at me that I'm not a Jew, and I have been asked at a Temple (because they didn't want to assume I was just a visitor) "oh when did you convert?" For a brown person, that's kind of a turn-off, especially because even though I DO want to officially convert, to do things the "right" Jewish way,  I don't eat pork and know the Torah pretty well by heart. I believe that Judaism is a way of life... not a race. And as a brown girl walking into a Jewish temple I often feel like THEY think it's a race, not a way of life. I'll be honest... it pisses me off.

    The way this thing was organized was the people of a particular faith gathered under a marker and it just so happened that the Jewish section was close to where I was working. The Muslim section was directly in front of it and me. There were many denominations of the Jewish faith... and, there were a lot of Jews (New York is a pretty Jewish town).

and this right here, although much smaller, was the Muslim section....


...which is what first caught my eye. But it didn't resonate with me until 12:49 when this happened...







...and I thought to myself that once you put on a hijab, or get down on your knees to pray it doesn't really matter what color you are. Of course there are different denominations of Muslims, and obviously some go to the extreme... but there are extreme Muslims who are brown and African, or from the Philippines or Afghanistan but it has to do with outlook, not color. It didn't seem to me they looked at each other in surprise and said "Oh! You're Muslim!" Seeing these pictures through my lens in realtime brought to mind what Malcolm X wrote about during his Hajj to Mecca.

And of course there are those who will explain some thing or other in defense of or against their particular faith or their lack of faith, and I don't care. As a brown Jew, seeing the contrast here gave me something to ponder...


  • What diversity should look like...




  • I spotted these Elders making their way to the podium to speak and I was overjoyed. I heard there was a much larger Native American/Idlenomore contingent in another area of the march and had I not been paid to be where I was and maybe felt like dealing with crowds I probably would have gone to take pictures of them. Apparently, I would have scored a picture with Leonardo DiCaprio, too, dammit. But it was cool... I got to meet Ojibwe Grandmother Mary Lyons. The warmth and brightness and love coming off of her was unbelievable and I am honored I got her picture. It seems she travels with a regular posse of elders, including this lady. I have to get everyone's names. But this was a picture worth fighting crowds for.

And I didn't get her name either, but she was beautiful as well.


  • Reports say over 300,000 people attended this march, which meant the contingent I was documenting didn't get moving until about 2PM. A great cheer went up and we pushed forward, across 58th street over to Avenue of the Americas and down to 42nd Street. Along the way, I saw this guy. The float of the earth he was helping to hold up was very cool. Maybe he was somebody, I dunno. He was cute. But a little self-absorbed.

Right after these pictures he tripped over and knocked down a 6 year old. I didn't see him fuss over the kid and say "sorry."

  • This lady was lovely and full of life. She grabbed someone to give a hug, and then she danced and sang. She reminded me of what I HADN'T seen at the interfaith contingent, what was sorely needed: some good ol' Harlem Baptists. If any march needed some good ol' Gospel music and tambourines to get a crowd pumped, it was this one. But I bet they were all uptown at the African-American Day Parade. I guess there's a lot to be said for loyalty, though...



  • There were other interesting brown faces in the crowd though...
I've no idea what the sign says. I liked that he was there, though.
I wonder where these folk were from.

  • Some other random interesting things:




Who brings a tiny baby to a march with 300,000 people? And the noise mufflers... I always found that the louder it got, the heavier baby sleeps once they're outside. It's like they get overwhelmed and their little systems just shut down. But the crowds... threat of stampede... people knocking into your stroller because they're too into themselves to see your bright yellow stroller. You have these problems on any given day in NYC. On a day like yesterday, multiply that by 3. But, to each his own...

This was on 42nd street. I think we interrupted her shopping spree...

  • Times Square. Normally crowded to the gills... and even though I've lived here 30-something years I've NEVER gone to Times Square to see the ball drop because of the crowds and I probably never will. But I hear it gets real crowded. And I wonder if Times Square was New-Years-Eve-crowded yesterday.
The requisite weirdo was there....

Who REALLY owns America....

My Poppy said to me a few weeks ago, "everyone has a different rhythm", and it's true. And culturally, we have different rhythms inherent to our culture as well. A North American First Nations drum rhythm is very different from a Mayan drumbeat than an African rhythm than an Asian rhythm... When I first started going to pow wows it was the drum beats that let me know I had found part of my ancestry. They felt like home. And African rhythms make me want to dance. So it amuses me  how foreign a pagan rhythm feels to me, but how it makes Euros dance...


Over 300,000 attended a peaceful march on Sunday in Manhattan to let the world know they are concerned about the earth. Perhaps someone will care. Perhaps the number represents money lost or votes won to some politician or 1%er, and perhaps they will fight for some sort of change. But I doubt it. By the time we get to know of some climate-affecting issue to protest, the ink has already dried on the deal.

The irony of the march starting at Columbus Circle, close to the monument of the man who started this whole rape-of-a-world wasn't lost on me. I had to go into the high-end shopping mall to use the restroom (the Starbucks across the street had a bathroom that conveniently needed repair and so was locked) and there were rich Euros and foreigners shopping, not at all interested in what was going on outside. On display in the main area was a bright red Tesla, a $78,000 car that no ordinary person can afford. All along the parade route, scaffolding on buildings indicates that new, luxurious high rise apartments are being made. We passed into Times Square where the lights are on 24 hours a day. We're a bunch of hypocrites. Will we give up our smart phones? Our computers? Elevators? Do we REALLY want to live out in the country and grow what we eat? Milk cows and churn butter and dig in the dirt? Are we willing? 

I don't think so. We won't do it till we have to, and then it might be too late...

but it was nice to be with 300,000 people who hope so. And hope is contagious.