W42ST Daily 8/14/2020

“We’re moving!” announces Rich on Facebook. The Hell’s Kitchen artist behind two W42ST covers, he’s taking his dog Harlee and heading home to Pennsylvania. And, just like that, the city gets a little smaller. One by one, human by human, New York shrinks. 

I’ve been pondering the concept of home lately; what it means to belong to a place; to feel rooted. The poet Robert Frost, whose grave I visited yesterday, wrote: ”Home is the place that, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” 

For many, that place is no longer New York. Yesterday, it was announced that there are now 13,000 empty rental apartments in New York, a 296% increase on the West Side compared to the same time last year.

Some have no choice but to leave; others to stay. But while we’re facing financial hardship and a changing landscape on our streets, at least we’re not running for our lives. My daughter, Caitlin, will be running 160 miles this month – the equivalent of the distance between Tunis and Sicily, a route taken by refugees fleeing the horrors of Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea. Support her if you can.

And get it in touch. Tell me what home means to you.

The late 1960s and 1970s witnessed the devastation of New York, with many buildings in low-income areas left unattended, burned, and reduced to rubble. Drug dealers, gangs, and junkies soon moved in, making those neighborhoods unsafe to live in.

But a group of ordinary people – dreamers, artists, and activists – rose up and cleared empty lots, planted trees, and vegetables, and created oases of peace and nature for the community amid these unsafe conditions. 

This is the story of the renegade gardeners of the west side.

The USPS has launched a powerful campaign to fight for its survival, in the wake of a seeming admission from our President that he opposes funding because it will enable more people to vote remotely. WTF? Supporters of the service say that if everyone in the US bought a sheet of stamps, it could raise $1.5 bn. Come on, people. Buy stamps and save our democracy.

Thanks to Frank for this 100% legitimate graph of my actual life right now.


Roundabout Theatre’s Youth Ensemble performs a virtual production of Hidden Truths, a contemporary reimagining of Othello. Watch it here. 

Admit it – you’ve been wearing your PJs for the last four months anyway. Now you can do it with pride, and dance til you sweat with Chris Crowthers and the Mark Fisher Fitness family. It’s free, but there’s a suggested donation. Tune in tonight here.

Author Joey Skladany discusses his book Basic Bitchen, and makes his summertime favorite, frosé! This is a free event, but you can support the author (and The Strand) by buying a copy of the book, bitches!

Prospect Theater Company launches The Answer tonight, a new music video by InnissENT and a Black man’s unrequited love letter to America. Watch it here.

Marin Mazzie passed on September 13, 2018, after living with ovarian cancer since 2015. Tonight, Broadway & Beyond celebrates her life and music with a concert of songs from and her partner Jason Danieley. All proceeds will be donated to CSC (Cancer Support Community), Tina’s Wish, and The Actor’s Fund. Watch here.

This year’s Battery Dance Festival celebrates the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which recognized the woman’s right to vote, with a program by women choreographers. Recognizing the current political climate, it will also celebrate works that focus on Black voices in dance, and the resilience of New York City itself. Join the celebration here.

Outdoor tantra speed dating? Where do I sign up? This is a way to meet new people in a safe, socially distanced environment. Find out more.

Catie Savage continues her weekly Hell’s Kitchen clean up on Sunday. Meet at the NW corner of W51st St – 9th Ave, by Jasper’s Taphouse, at 11.30am. Wear your mask.  Gloves and bags will be provided. 

Using a live concert recording of Ella Fitzgerald performing the song ‘Airmail Special’, this dance matches the singer’s virtuosic scatting with lightning-fast, articulated movement. Watch in awe.

Take a day off. Read a book. Light a candle. Meditate. It’s called self care, my friends.

There will be another Hell’s Kitchen clean up on Tuesday. Meet at the SW corner of W43rd St – 10th Ave, in front of Manhattan Plaza at 12.30pm. Wear your mask. Gloves and bags will be provided.

If you’ve been exploring creating writing, this is an opportunity to share your draft in a safe, virtual space. Find out more here.

Fatima Bhutto discusses her book The Runaways, about three lives that cross in the desert. Tickets are from $24.95, and include a copy of the book. Sign up here.

Jazz pianist Monty Alexander performs a concert for Radio Free Birdland, sharing stories and songs from his six decade career. Tickets cost $20.

Get in the dancehall groove with Eryc Taylor Dance. No training or experience necessary – just a willingness to MOVE. The half-hour class is donation based – find out more here. 

Obie winner James Jackson Jr, from the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Strange Loop, performs direct from his home to yours with TRLive. It’s free to join on Facebook, but be sure to tip the performer!