May 1, 2006

May 1st, 2006 – A Quiet Walkout, May-Day in New York City

I had roughly two jobs going at once: Editor at at a company that made its profits, whatever that was, by editing mainstream Network and Cable Television Commercials; and a second "job" co-editing a documentary film with Jeremiah Zagar--a film about his father, an artist. I packed the Canon PowerShoot in my bag, watched some NY1 as Pat Kiernan reported on the demonstrations for the day and then headed for the subway i take every day of my life.

I would often observe my co-passengers, making note of them--on this day it was the usual 20—35 years old, white or assimilated/absorbed, but flaring tattoos and tight pants and Olsen twin and time-warped aviator sunglasses, dirty shoes and irony-clad t-shirts, dishelved and striking cleopatra haircuts, seething breasts and wobbly limbs. They listened to iPods or dozed off or read books. An occasional few engaged in intimate-public conversation: “Oh hey—I thought it was you! How’d it go the other night?sorry I couldn’t be there. How’s work?yeah i hate mine too---We Should Get A Drink Sometime!!?"

Most don't talk though at this hour, they zone their eyes in one direction of moving lights, lost in thought and dozing before work. Being a part of the American Economy. I heard later there were delays on many trains, packed trains of this seemingly harmless people seeping about underneath New York City.

Work that day was procrastination. A mild level of responsibilities hung over my head, but i could put them off. Sitting at my computer station
I pulled up NY1 and did some google searches to find times and locations of the various gatherings throughout the city. In fact, I did absolutely no work whatsoever. Somewhere in my head I'm telling myself not to work; to abstain from supporting this economy, to stop, for one day, from giving it my time and my energy and my creativity, my identity and, shall i venture, my Inner-Sol.

A co-worker commented on the note in the air, atonal, an audible question mark. Gladly, I wasn't the only one on edge, walking with this heavy spirit. New York as a city sometimes vibes in a tangible way. I believe this. Like when the weather changes after a long spell of humidity or dreary snow, and the city is swarmed with these people; they display ambitious new clothing combinations, and new skin. A million social currents. This was an alter-spirit though, contained, intangible--the feeling of seeing a man in a mask--
trepidation?---don't hurt me! Fear?---Don't destroy my life! Resentment? F**K U! Shame?--?

During a silent conversation in the common kitchen, the only voice heard on the matter was, “well, they’re illegal, right? Send them home.” Silent reactions, sort of embarassed by such marked...conservativism. At an editing and Special Efx+Graphics compnay--in NYC! "What," I said stepping away, "the f**k." I walked away, realizing, right then and there, that i knew far too little regarding the collective actions of my own people; i had no idea--no idea--of how to respond to this.

After hiding out at my work computer for a couple hours, I decided it was time to go. Our receptionist might have asked when I’d be back, to which I told her to reach me on my cell phone if someone really needed me. In LA kids were burning up on the streets.

When I got out the streets were streaming with people. Brown faces everywhere, bouncy and smiling. Entire families, children in strollers, kids in front of parents as the crowd progressed. There were of course several activist organizations, but the majority seemed like regular gente; for all intents and purposes, it was a successful dia de comunidad in New York City.

I remember having to walk uptown several blocks just to get onto the street with the marchers on their way down to the court-house. I could see the march on the next block, but police were not letting anyone through. There were volunteer demonstrators guiding people most of the way. Non-demonstrators asked cops where they could pass, some annoyed, others curious. Most just watched, pudgy blank faces wondering why their routine trip downtown was so difficult, others with forlorn glances through roving eyes.

The mainstream media reported X number of people. It felt like many many more people. I couldn’t even get all that close to the court-house. All along the way I snapped pictures. In the distance I heard a few seemingly charismatic speeches. I ran out of pictures on my camera and drifted off to a side-street. I made my way through the financial district. Straggling marchers walked passed me with flags draped over their backs. Later I noted on the news the replaying of the pledge of allegiance in Spanish during demonstrations in D.C.