Last week I had the chance to attend an opening at Pomegranate Gallery in SoHo for the new show “Oil on Landscape: Art From Wartime Contemporaries of Baghdad,” curated by a former military officer who served in Iraq until 2007, Christopher J. Brownfield.
I reported on the story with my classmates from the CUNY J-School: Shuka Kalantari, who put together this great webpage for our story, and Tyler Mitter, who shot video.
As a collection from Baghdad, the art covers a wide range: from renderings of eye-witnessed violence to scenes of everyday life for Iraqis. The show evoked in me a sense of loss. The artists and many guests who know Baghdad miss a place that cultivated Middle Eastern culture. What they have in its place is a devastated home many can’t even return to until conditions improve and their lives are no longer at risk.
Naturally, the conversation around this art is political. What everyone seemed to agree on was the idea that art can help an individual transcend fear and anger and develop a better understanding through the feelings and experiences expressed. Visitors and artists seem to almost reach for each other with a desire to connect and make the war go away.
I joined my classmates Roisin O’Connor
, Rosaleen Ortiz
and Mathew Warren
for a walk around the “counterfeit triangle,” as Mayor Bloomberg calls it, near Centre and Canal streets to see the effects of Tuesday’s police raid of the fake bag & watch vendors.
photo by Roisin O’Connor
Just a day after the shutdown, it was easy to talk with shoppers who purchased knock-offs, and I even spoke with a vendor long enough that he expressed his great dissatisfaction with the whole system he is caught up in–from the exploitative boss who expects him to take the risks and the heat, to the label executives that demand a city crack down. The question everyone on Canal Street was left with is: Was this the best use of the city’s resources? Is it a big deal to protect labels from imitation? Is it worthwhile to put people out of work? Certainly the shoppers and the street peddlers don’t pose a threat to anyone, so is it worth the hassle? Why or why not?You can decide after reading and listening to more of their stories whether or not you would close shops and confiscate the illegal goods.
It surprised a lot of New Yorkers who had pounded the streets wearing Obama signs and stickers, but in the end, the New York primary was called for Hillary.
I headed for Queens on super Tuesday to see who might have skipped the NYGiants parade to cast their vote, while all of my classmates did the same in their assigned neighborhoods around the city. Many of our stories are featured on the school’s news service page.
Although the polls closed at 9 p.m., several of us kept up the coverage by going to campaign headquarters and celebrations. My classmate Lakshmi Gandhi and I headed for Hillary’s victory party. She called in reports to a live student broadcast (now a podcast on the news service), I shot video. Next to me on the floor was Queens resident Steve Behar, a hopeful for a 2009 seat on NYCity Council representing Queens district 19. He is a long-time campaigner for the Democratic Party and was thrilled with Hillary’s win.
You can see what it was like to be right there with her supporters in this video.
Who doesn’t start messing around with a new camera by shooting random things in their own home? Well, maybe not everyone, but I started by taking an upclose look at my microcosm.
Then I ventured outdoors and soon found myself on Broadway in upper Manhattan. On a nice weekend, the street becomes a bustling marketplace indoors and out.
Take a look.
Ok, I’m not completely behind, it seems, in sampling the blogging world.
After today’s first class discussion about this abstract place with its games, manners and aldermen, I felt as left out as if I’d just heard about a great party I missed the night before. Yet, after closer examination of my own activities, I find that my new fondness for rss feeds has caught me up a little bit and helped me develop some adaptive habits.
I currently subscribe to (and even occasionally get to read): Drum Major Institute blog on public policy, which is very meaty and full of wisdom; and the blog from the staff at Norwood News, my neighborhood paper. Full disclosure: I also contribute articles to the paper. It’s been a real eye opener to focus on local issues affected by city politics.
To get a sample of just how busy City Hall can be, check out the blog from Room 8 (so named after the media room at City Hall, room 9). For a lighter summary of what goes on down there, you can have Adam Green’s version from the same site, Lunchbox, a video blog. I find him pretty funny, but I wish he’d change his background so I don’t keep noticing that little light switch behind his head.
Phew! Lesson one completed.