Sunday, July 31, 2016

Tell me about your neighborhood . . .

"Our neighborhood arose upon a vision.

 "Unlike most neighborhoods in New York that simply evolved willy-nilly, where a few immigrant families established a foothold and others of similar race, religion, or ethnicity followed -- only to yet again have the environment metamorphize when economic conditions shifted and another wave of different faces speaking different languages appeared -- our neighborhood was truly the first intentional com...munity in the five boroughs. The vision of the Amalgamated Housing Cooperative was simple and profound: create affordable housing that was cooperatively owned and democratically managed. . . .

 "Led by the Secretary-Treasurer of the ACWA's credit union, Abraham E. Kazan, and supported by Sidney Hillman, President of the ACWA -- as well as by people gathered around "Forverts" ("The Forward," a Yiddish-language daily newspaper) -- a sparsely populated region of the north Bronx became a living field of dreams. It seemed only fitting that the formation of the Amalgamated Housing Cooperative in 1927 (referred to simply as "The Amalgamated"), was inspired by the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in Rochdale, England, the birthplace of the modern cooperative movement in 1844. Rochdale was England's center for the burgeoning textile and weaving industry; therefore, what better models for the ACWA visionaries than these original "cooperators," these kinsman-by-trade. . . . It was as if simultaneous with the first groundbreaking, the seeds of a modern Rochdale were also sown, providing these earliest cooperative pioneers, now settling in the Bronx, with a root system that would blossom and guide them and this nascent community across the twentieth century. Both the tangibles and intangibles within their founding principles provided the cornerstone and the scaffolding for this project: voluntary and open membership; democratic governance; surpluses belonging to cooperative members; no social or political discrimination; education of members and the public in the cooperative movement; cooperation with other cooperatives; and care for the community. It was impossible to live in our neighborhood without both touching and being touched by this progressive and communal spirit that seemed to be everywhere." ("The Rail," Chapter 3, "The Neighborhood -- Oasis in Brick").

Monday, July 25, 2016

"The Rail" Heads to California

Hello One & All:

In less than two weeks -- the weekend of August 6-7 -- I will be in the San Francisco Bay Area to read and sign my book, The Rail: What Was Really Doin' in the 60's Bronx.

On Saturday, August 6, at 7:00 p.m., I will be at Copperfield's Books in Petaluma, CA (140 Kentucky Street).

On Sunday, August 7, at 1:00 p.m., I will be at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA (51 Tamal Vista Blvd.).

Come one, come all! Spread the word! I can't wait to see you all!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Music to My Ears

"On that jaw-dropping night, even the usual stolid and conservative energy that normally permeated our living room whenever the television was on was no match for The Beatles. We all sat there stunned. My mother and grandmother, slowly shaking their heads in a silent disapproval of what they were beholding; my sister, simply happy to be there at all, bobbing her head to the music. Me? I was completely blown away, like Moses being handed the Ten Commandments by a transcendent... entity. . . . Each song that night shot through my veins with a jolt. First, I watched as "All My Loving" wrapped its words around the hearts of every girl in the audience and I wordlessly joined them in their screaming. Next, the lover's serenade, "Till There Was You," made romance suddenly palatable to by budding, confused teenage self. The final song in the first set was "She Love You," and that brought down the house. Even with a commercial break and the rest of Ed Sullivan's guests, I barely recovered by the time the second set commenced. When "I Saw Her Standing There," burst forth, I had to control myself from leaping to my feet and dancing up the walls and across the ceiling of my living room. When The Beatles signed off with "I Want to Hold Your Hand," I was smitten beyond belief.

 "As I looked around at the faces of my family members, I knew in that moment I wasn't really a part of them. I felt like my world had just been shattered open while their world had slammed shut as a result of their shock and rejection of what we had all witnessed. Beyond explanation and beyond my conscious awareness it felt like a path, vibrating with colorful paisley, had suddenly diverged from the drab and sepia road being offered by my family's values" ("The Rail," Chapter 13, 'Music to My Ears").