dailybell: 5/25/08 - 6/1/08

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Last Week of May

5/24 AM One Streetcar Comes and Goes


5/24 PM Marina Deli
We ordered sandwiches to take into the movies and then changed our minds about eating them in the theater. As we were finishing eating in the deli, the sun was setting. So we chose some bells to ring and set up the camera. Norman and Vangie went outside, and I was on my way to join them when I thought that maybe the guys behind the counter might like to join us. They not only make great sandwiches at the Marina Deli, but they are good sports and bell ringers, too. Thanks!

5/25 AM Another Trio
This one for bells and crow- inside the house and out in the yard. If you listen carefully, you can hear Norman ringing from inside the house. The crow is as vocal as ever.

5/26 AM Memorial Day Sunrise

Today is Monday, May 26th and it’s the day we are observing Memorial Day. It was quiet out front this morning as I walked up and down the street. People sleeping in for the holiday. Only one flag flying.

5/26 PM Memorial Day Sunset
We walked alongside Golden Gate Park at sundown this evening until we found a place where there was a break in the trees. Those trees are taller than the houses and block most of the sunlight. There was a spot where the light poured through a small opening in the branches and we set the camera down on someone’s garbage can on the opposite side of the street. After going back to get the camera, we continued ringing bells for another 20 minutes until we got home.

5/27 PM Glad to Be on the Ground
Whoa. What a flight. Instead of landing at JFK airport, we circled for a few hours 200 miles away. Apparently there was a big storm in New York, and we couldn’t land. Then, the attendants announced that we were running low on fuel and were heading to Hartford where we would sit on the ground and wait out the storm. I started to worry about ringing the bells since they were in the belly of the plane, but I realized I could jangle my keys and that I had the camera with me. So I relaxed about that. When we were half way to Hartford, they announced that we were turning around and heading back to New York. The Storm had passed. Ha! We hit those clouds and pitched and rolled and dropped. At first I gripped the seat and squeezed my eyes shut to keep the tears from coming out. And then I thought, well if I’m going to die I might as well let go. In many ways. So in the next instant, the plane suddenly plummeted, and I let go of the seat and lifted my arms. It was like flying. Weightless and amazing for a second here and a second there. Then we broke through to a clear sky with big puffy white clouds. And it was over.

5/28 PM Can't See Stonehenge From Canal Street
We walked really fast over the Williamsburg Bridge to get to Manhattan in time for the special sunset. Unfortunately, in order to see the effect of the sun setting down the centerline of the buildings running on the East to West streets, we needed to be further uptown. At least as far as 14th Street. Lower Manhattan is too curvy and especially in the West Village, the streets are not on a grid. 8th Street crosses 12th Street. So when we realized that we weren’t going to make it to 14th street in time, we headed down to Canal Street which was a big mistake. Canal Street is a nice wide, straight street but it runs slightly on the diagonal. Oh well. It was a nice sunset nonetheless. Just as we finished ringing at the base of the Manhattan Bridge, a man got off the Fung Wah bus and joined us for a moment.

5/30 AM Sunrise J Train on the Williamsburg Bridge
Got it. That train is right on time. I don’t know what happened to the Manhattan bound train, but that little Brooklyn bound “J” train was right there at 5:27 AM.

5/30 PM Sunset Underground
The sun set as we emerged from the Bowery Street Station on the way to a performance at Phil Niblock’s Experimental Intermedia space this evening for an OptoSonic Tea event. OptoSonic Tea “is a regular series of meetings dedicated to the convergence of live visuals with live sound which focuses on the visual component”. Pamela Z presented excerpts from her past work as well a preview of work in progress, “Pendulum”. “Pendulum” will premiere at the end of June in San Francisco. Daniel Vatsky, Chris Jordan and Jon Cohrs also performed. Miya Masaoka was the responder for the discussion after the concert.

5/31 AM Sunrise on Broadway in Brooklyn
I woke up about half an hour before the sunrise so I decided to go downstairs and ring on the street as long as I had the extra time to set up. Besides, I figured we’d seen enough of the Williamsburg Bridge this season.

5/31 PM Tropical Sunset on 14th Street
It had been raining on and off all day and there was a little break in the clouds just as we finished eating. Then we headed over to Illuminated Corridor for outdoor multi screen, multi surface film projections.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Question for Skywatchers

The sun rises earlier here in New York than it does in San Francisco. At this time of year both places have about 14 1/2 hours of sunlight each day. (New York actually has 10 more minutes). Why? Is it because New York is further north? New York is is only 2ยบ north of San Francisco. Is it due to our relative positions in the time zone? Any ideas?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Who is Out and About at 5:00 AM?

5/25 PM

We were invited to have dinner with Marlita and Luis. As the sun was setting just when dinner was ready, the timing was perfect. So everyone rang bells, and then sat down to eat. During an earlier conversation, I had mentioned that because the sunrise was occurring earlier and earlier, my contact with the Baylink driver was due to expire. We were discussing other possibilities for early morning activity in the city where people might welcome the bell ringing. Some ideas that I can recall were: MUNI depots, flower market, farmers’ markets, taxi stands and police stations. Any other suggestions about where I might go with the bell between 5:40AM and 5:00AM? Please flood me with suggestions.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Offerings from Others

Paul Stepahin sent this link about a relatively rare but regular occurrence that happens in Manhattan at sunset. If you are in New York this May 28th at sunset, and it is clear, "Manhattan will flood dramatically with sunlight just as the sun sets precisely on the centerline of every street".

Sherri Woods sent a photo of this sunrise from the road when she was on the road with her Mantra Trailer this spring.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Got Fear?

I am beginning to believe that we know everything, that all history, including the history of each family, is part of us, such that, when we hear any secret revealed, a secret about a grandfather, or an uncle, or a secret about the battle of Dresden in 1945, our lives are suddenly made clearer to us, as the unnatural heaviness of unspoken truth is dispersed. For perhaps we are like stones: our own history and the history of the world embedded in us, we hold a sorrow deep within and cannot weep until that history is sung.
- Susan Griffin. Denial from “A Chorus of Stones”.

There are three interrelated components to my thoughts about fear or at least the reluctance on the part of the general population to engage with strangers in public. These three elements are in addition to the widespread and vague suspicion that people have when confronted with unfamiliar or unusual behavior or activity in public. What does this person want? Is this a performance? Is this person soliciting for money, religion, political and other causes? Does this person merely need information about time, directions, etc? I am not dismissing these thoughts as insignificant, but I would like to set them aside for a moment to think about what might be underlying factors to this type of suspicion in the first place.

What the three parts may have in common is some relationship to memory: history with a capital “H” as it is forgotten or misrepresented; family history denied and the memory of personal behavior as it is projected into expectation about the behavior of others.

I’ll jump right into a major source of cultural shame. We are a nation founded on genocide and fed by slavery. These acts provide the basis for the narratives we teach our children in school. These narratives are more like the “based on a true story” or “inspired by real events” versions of real events that we see on television and in movies than factual and accurate accounting of “what happened”. Of course, the privilege to “tell what happened” is one of the spoils of victory and the narrative is entirely at the discretion of those in charge. Depending on the stories they/we want to tell, writers decide what to emphasize, what to include or exclude. We don’t teach our children about genocide. We teach them about “the Pilgrims” having Thanksgiving dinners with “the Indians”. We teach them to believe that the land didn’t belong to anyone. We don’t say that this is because we believed the inhabitants were less than human. We don’t say that because we believed they were inferior to us, the inhabitants were conveniently invisible and without rights.

By not openly and honestly talking about the underlying assumptions and imperatives for our behavior (economic and political as well as ethical) we compound our initial guilt with deception and silence. We fabricate a partial cover-up, a lie, which becomes an accepted historical narrative. With each repetition, this deception becomes more accepted and eventually replaces the truth.
We forget that we are history. We have kept the left hand from knowing the right. …We are not used to associating our private lives with public events. Yet the histories of families cannot be separated from the histories of nations. To divide them is part of our denial

In her essay Denial from “A Chorus of Stones”, Susan Griffin speaks of the “habit of denial”. She writes about a particular type of narrative that is passed from generation to generation. It is a story that is only partially told if it is told at all. She talks about what is transmitted by a retelling based on omission. For instance, someone from an earlier generation in a family does something that everyone at the time regards as transgressive and shameful. It is so awful that no one speaks about it directly. However, the shame associated with the person and with the act they committed is always present. After a while, perhaps the initial incident is no longer remembered or spoken of, but the obligation to know and feel the shame associated with the transgression has been internalized by subsequent generations. It is this internalization of the unnamed shame (or guilt, or etc.) that gives it weight and substance. And as long as the source of transgression remains unknown, even unsuspected, we inherit only the warnings and admonitions and not the reasons. Without understanding what happened or why, we can only hold onto the dread, the shame, and the unease. These can become our filters and affect the way we see and behave towards others.

The Golden Rule advises us to treat others, as we would like to be treated ourselves. A slightly different way to think about this is to expect others to treat us as we treat them. As a nation, it makes sense that such atrocities as genocide and the enslavement of human beings would plant the seeds of fear into the national consciousness. If we as a nation act that way, then of course we can expect others to do the same. On a more personal level, if we habitually deceive people, we might believe that most everyone else behaves the way we do. Based on that assumption, we would not be inclined to trust other people. Liars expect to be lied to. The opposite may also be true.

In fact, neither the way we behave or expect others to behave may have anything to do with what actually happens. But our expectations do influence the way we behave toward others. One of the basic points of the Buddhist teachings on Emptiness is that there is nothing inherent in or about reality. Everything depends on everything else for it’s significance. Said another way- nothing exists or means anything independently of anything else. In his book “The Diamond Cutter”, Geshe Michael Roach uses his experience in the diamond business to illuminate teachings on Wisdom that he studied while training as a Buddhist monk. At one point he discusses how his fellow workers generally regard a particular coworker as irritating and annoying. Roach speculates, however that this same person may have been well loved and regarded by his family and friends. A simple example of the relativity of perspective. He then goes on to say:
1) This person has no quality, within him, of being irritating or nice. He himself, from his own side, is ‘blank’ or ‘neutral’ or ‘empty’
2) The reason that we personally experience this person as being irritating must be coming from somewhere else
Of course, since that “somewhere else” is ourselves, we could think about our fear and suspicion of others in this way as well. Whatever the cause, perhaps our shared or personal histories, our stories and memories, the reluctance to engage lies within us. That’s not to say that people do not behave in ways that can harm us or that we should be stupid about our personal safety. But perhaps we can withhold judgment for a moment or look more closely or ask questions when we encounter something we don’t understand. I would love it if people would ask me what I was doing, or stop and say hello or even acknowledge my presence and activity.