Tag Archives: Essay

At Least We Didn’t Get Arrested: Attending the Anti-Trump Rally in NYC

21 Mar

So before we get into the story of how I almost got arrested this weekend, I have a couple quick writing thank yous to share.

First off, thanks to Clockwise Cat for accepting this poem, New Strange Life, for the David Bowie tribute issue. Always an honor to be included. And to Boyslut for taking Moment and finally Yellow Chair Review for taking Please Don’t Call It a Journey and for publishing my new essay about Betty Tompkin’s amazing exhibit.

How To Be An American my poetry book has also gotten some love. First up was Alison Ross at Clockwise Cat who said:

“The content of the poems, sans pedantic preaching, scream volumes about what’s very toxically wrong with American society
– its consumerism mania, its revolting xenophobia, its laughable “Jesus-was-American” attitudes, its faux-patriotism.

“How to Be An American” is the “Idiocracy” of poetry, serving to amuse, yes, but mostly to enrage and enlighten – about a freakishly frightening society.”

The full review is available in the new issue of Five 2 One.

And then Matthew gave this review on goodreads:

It never occurred to me that I would open up a book one day and be transported back to the basement of Sacred Heart Church. Ally does that a lot in this book though and that makes it interesting. Having played dodge ball, being a traveler (and rarely a knowledgeable person of places I travel), and being an American I find myself in this book sort of surprised by the glare of the stage lights. ‘How to be an American” puts you uncomfortably back in your skin. I think this is good poetry because it can do all of this transporting and or recollecting in very few words. Anyway, that is my initial assessment. i will come back and read it over and over and add more comments to this site eventually.

So thank you both for the love.

Speaking of How To Be An American…..I found myself in the midst of a political rally this weekend.

I knew about the Anti-Trump rally that was taking place in Manhattan earlier this week. The march was beginning at Columbus Circle and ending at Trump Tower on Madison. For the bulk of the week we had planned on attending. Then we found out that they didn’t have a permit and we were feeling a little iffy.

The way it works in NYC is that if you get a permit, you get to march right in the street. If you don’t, you get to increase the likelihood of arrest if you a) go in the street or b) you block the sidewalk.

Thousand of people were saying on Facebook that they were going. Thousands of people marching without a permit. Hmmmmm.

So that Saturday we found ourselves not too far from Trump Tower around 1:30. The rally was supposed to start at noon at Columbus Circle. I figured they would already be done but we figured hey, why not? Let’s walk up and see what we see.

And this is what we saw:

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There were about four Pro-Trump people corralled behind the metal barricades. As we got closer, another pedestrian asked them why they were protesting in front of Trump Tower. And they answered:

“We’re not. We’re here to protest them.”

Lady: “Who?”

ProTrump Person: “Can you hear them coming?”

And like something out of a movie, the protesters snaked into sight, drums banging, voices chanting. It was a beautiful thing:

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So we joined the fray! (you’ll want to use headphones. Pardon all the cursing on these videos.)

NYC Anti-Trump Rally March 19, 2016 from ally malinenko on Vimeo.

By this next video we were down to where the Pro-Trump people were

NYC Anti-Trump Rally March 19, 2016 pt. 2 from ally malinenko on Vimeo.

Obviously there were a lot more of us than there were of them but that didn’t stop one of them from screaming at these two girls next to me to “keep moving” and “shut up” when they were chanting “love not hate.”

Unfortunately we had hit the end of the sidewalk. The police had the metal barricades up so we couldn’t go any further. So everyone yelled “Turn Around” so that we could head back the way we came.

Unfortunately it takes a long to relay that message through thousand of people. So we got bottlenecked and stuck. At this point the line of cops started playing the announcement (which you can hear in the second video) that we were in violation of new york city law because we were blocking the sidewalks. If we continued to do that, the announcement said, we would be subject to arrest.

Then the message came through the crowd that they had closed off the sidewalk on the other end, essentially trapping all of us in a city block.

We couldn’t stay and we couldn’t leave. And it was looking very likely that we were going to get arrested.

At which point I turned to my husband and said, “We did a very very stupid thing.”

We managed to get through the crowd far enough to reach a cross walk where legally we could get to the side of the street, which we did.

And then we saw these:

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And these:

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We figured this would be a good time to head out.

Turns out we were right because after we left the pepper spraying and the arrests started. According to the Daily News (who unlike the Times actually covered the event) people spilled into the streets and were then sprayed and arrested at 57th.

But this video which another protester posted shows a different story.

This is our country, friends. It’s terrifying.

I get to vote at the end of April. I hope to participate in further protests. And I really hope to not get arrested.

I don’t know what happens next.

I only know that I can’t stand by and watch this demagogue spew hate and vitriol.

Silence = endorsement.

Love trumps Hate.

Peace, love and Starbursts,

Ally

 

*all photos and video (except the last one) courtesy of John Grochalski*

2016: The Year Everyone Died

24 Feb

And just like that, February is almost over.

I finally stumbled out of the David Bowie mourning phase. In the meantime, every creative person in the world seems to be dropping like flies. First Bowie, then Alan Rickman, Glen Fry, George Gaynes, Dan Haggerty, Clarence “Blowfly” Reid, Harper Lee, Umerto Eco, Abe Vigoda, for Pete’s sake.

2016: The Year Everyone Died.

I think it’s time to form a protective circle around Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen.

That said, let’s recap: I have much thanks to give.

So first off, thank you to the Commonline Journal for accepting this poem, The Preacher. The subway continues to be a never-ending supply of sad/weird/beautiful.

And to Red Fez for taking Thirty-Seven.

And to Dead Snakes for giving a home to Membership, Blackstar and Radiation Day 26. All cancer poems and I swear, Blackstar was written before I knew anything about Bowie’s last album. Honest.

Also thanks to Drunk Monkeys for giving a home to When David Bowie Was Dying.

Speaking of the late great Starman, I also wrote this essay for Barrelhouse called Can You Hear Me, Major Tom? which owes a special thank you to my older sister, Jennifer who was the first one to introduce me to Bowie. A gift she probably didn’t realize that I would carry through my entire life. So thanks, Jenn. You’re a good sister.

 

I was really excited to have my essay included, because guys, honestly, there are some really amazing stories in here. And, because Barrelhouse is so awesome, they decided to put the whole thing together in a free downloadable ebook entitled And The Stars Look Very Different Today: Writers Felfect on David Bowie

How cool is this??!! Thanks so much to Barrelhouse, especially Sheila who rocks.

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Since Bowie died, there have been tons of really great tributes, but I think my favorite so far is Strung Out In Heaven.

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Jherek Bischoff and Amanda Palmer pulled this lovely tribute together thanks to her Patreon. John Cameron Mitchell is on it and when I say that the German version of Heroes is incredible, I mean uber-incredible.

The track listing is fantastic, the strings are divine and yes, I cry when I listen to it. It’s cathartic. Leave me alone.

In non-Bowie news (What? What’s that?) I am really excited to say that I joined the staff of Yellow Chair Review as an essayist/interviewer/whatever-random-tidbits-I-think-of-saying-that-the-editor-in-chief-agrees-to-publish-ist.

My first piece went up this month. It’s about lying and telling the truth and the importance of doing both in storytelling as long as you have heaps and heaps of empathy. Empathy is everything (in life too). It’s mainly about people’s reactions to This Is Sarah and their disappointment when I explained to them that I was neither Claire, nor Colin, nor Sarah. That while I made them and their story up, the emotions behind it are real.

Because I am real. I swear.

So thank you to everyone for everything and all that. Hugs and starbursts forever.

**********************************************************************

Next up, I had some time off last month and that meant that I was able to go gallivanting around New York City, my home, as a tourist/traveler. No I’m not talking about the Empire State Building, I’m talking about ART-ING.

We hit The Met, the MoMA, and some galleries (eek!) which was really a big deal cause honestly, that can be super awkward. First off, I can’t buy actual art on a librarian’s salary so if I get a hard sell I tend to just stare at the ceiling until they give up and walk away. Secondly, often we’re the only people in the place which means that either a) they act like you’re not there and you feel like you’ve crashed some private party or b) they act like you want a personal tour and you have to make awkward small talk and pretend that you know how to talk about art.

That said, awkwardness aside, galleries are totally worth it. Museums are great, don’t get me wrong. You need to go see all the Rembrandts and Monets and Van Goghs. But seeing the work of contemporary – sometimes still living breathing artists –  is so important.

It’s like a water fountain that fills my thirsty art-making face. Or something like that.

So the first was a Betty Tompkin’s exhibit at FLAG entitled Women: WORDS Phrases and Stories. I’m not going to go into too much detail here because Sarah at YCR  might (fingers crossed) publish the thought piece/review I did on the exhibit. So I’ll just share some images. We’ll let the art speak for itself.

 

I also saw Vincent Smith’s work. Mr. Smith, who passed away in 2004, was a prominent member of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960’s and 70’s and a Brooklyn native (woot!). He gets compared to Romare Bearden (which I can definitely see) but there’s something very Debuffet going on here, don’t you think?

The actual canvas is covered in dirt and rocks that have been painted giving it so much texture – hence my Debuffet comment.

So to recap, galleries =a touch intimidating but definitely good.

The return to writing the last two weeks has been good. Actually wrote some poems thanks to reading Eileen Myles who is incredible. Really moved by how frank she is.

And back to working on Gravity Wins, the book about my falling in love and then off a waterfall. #LongStory

That said, been reading through my old journals and even thought I know hindsight is 20/20 and even though I know it wasn’t really like this, part of 1993-1994 with two very good friends felt an awful lot like the dance scene from Godard’s Bande A Part:

 

and also this:

 

Peace love and starbursts,

Ally

 

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