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September 30 2023
A guest entry from the good and great Elvia Wilk, who is in charge of text until the next photograph down there: You’ve seen the biblical deluge in the streets of all boroughs and you’ve seen the fountains of filthy runoff squirting all over the subway tracks—because OnE hALf of NYC subway lines were shut down by a storm that the newspaper of record described as “unremarkable”—you’ve seen the memes saying “Will the cops try to shoot the water?” because we have police instead of infrastructure—BUT in case you haven’t seen footage from inside the Randalls Island refugee camp—where the pitched-tent-style ceiling has been leaking on the single cots lined up in rows and standing water is seeping all over the floor—this will give you an inkling not only of how unprepared NYC is for water but also for the ~100k migrants who are now living here in this wet city.
They LIVE here. You may not have seen them, or may have unseen them (à la Miéville), because they are divided up and sequestered in hotels and shelters, but I’m pretty sure that since Adams has now capped the right-to-shelter law for all adult migrants at 30 consecutive days, you are about to see what NIMBYs might call a “deluge” (with the implication that a migration influx is a “natural” disaster) of houseless, moneyless, jobless asylum seekers, and your sidewalks may start to look like San Francisco’s, and come winter you will also see illness and death.
The Randall’s shelter looks like a sci-fi encampment on a distant planet for the displaced from a destroyed planet Earth; it was built to hold 1K people but I’ve been told the population is moving toward 3K because...where else are they supposed to go? First the city started sending single men there, and then single women, and then couples, and rumor has it that they will soon start sending families with kids. Word also has it that currently the kids are not necessarily with their families. Luckily yesterday Adams said that “We feel good, we’re fully prepared, we’re ready to go, we have taken on some water, but nothing that has created an infrastructure problem where our kids are not safe,” which is one of those interesting uses of “our kids” that says everything about who is a kid and who is a we and who is a person etc.
I made a friend back in the spring while volunteering to help with asylum paperwork at a rad church in Bay Ridge called Good Shepherd. This friend had traveled here from Peru and she told me one of those nightmare border stories of unfathomable violence. At the time I met her she was living in one of the short-stay migrant hotels in Manhattan, and with no notice, in the middle of a health crisis, she was bussed to Randalls, and after I sent her many messages asking her what she needed yesterday she finally asked me for BLANKETS because they don’t have warm bedding or clothing at Randalls and she is sick and cold. A few hours later she left me a voicemail saying she might not be able to coordinate a handoff with me because she had nowhere to charge her phone. Also: public transport to Randalls was cut off (because of flooding) and so the people living there were kind of trapped.
I asked what else people on Randalls need and got the sense that it was “human rights” that they need, but she told me: umbrellas, warm/waterproof shoes, warm clothes, snacks like dried fruit, and vitamins and supplements. So I am gathering blankets and random stuff to bring, feeling like these actions are a silly drop in the bucket, but if someone asks you for blankets you bring them.
If you want to bring some blankets to Randalls, or to any of the shelters in the city, I think they are accepting objects; if you'd like to help with basic paperwork to make sure asylum seekers are in the system and could get right-to-stay or right-to-work, try Good Shepherd Sanctuary and the Ark Immigration Clinic; if you’d like to give money or time, try Mixteca or Team TLC; if you'd like to teach English, try We Speak; if you'd like to get involved w all sorts of mutual aid, try Woodbine; if you'd like to just MEET people you can Google and go to any shelter in your vicinity; along those lines, if you’d like to contribute to a shoe drive for asylum seekers who have joined a local soccer team to have fun and build community, click here. Soccer is a real thing: knowing New Yorkers is a crucial factor for new arrivals’ survival BUT ALSO solidarity, pals, and ¡¡having fun!! are the only things outside of system/policy change that will help “us” survive too, plus who knows when Adams is going to start shipping everyone off Earth to make more room for developers and rats.
Raphael Rogiński is one of my favorite living guitarists and he has a new album: Talàn. 17/10, says me. I recommend this Philip Sherburne review if you don’t know Raphael’s work. I suspect Philip and I both know Rogiński’s music because of seeing him play live at Unsound in Kraków. Rogiński’s music is made with little more than ten fingers and a semi-hollow electric guitar and few simple pedals and bits of paper threaded between the strings near the bridge. Resonance damped, focus tightened, spirit core engaged. Rogiński plays laments and ballads almost exclusively. Sublime and humane and beautiful down to its bones.
New W.A.T. album (good) sounds like R.E.M. or Love Tractor (great). Music trends run on a forty-year cycle, science* has now determined.
Iman Mersal and Maru Pabón in conversation: “MERSAL: So in our house there was the Qur’an and Raising Turkeys. And also, from time to time, a women’s magazine called Hawaa (Eve). There was a mystery in my youth, because the women in my family, my mother and aunts — the way they dressed was like women in the movies.”
A great essay about “the Internet of Beefs” by Venkatesh Rao, from 2020.
Richard Chartier begins his new mix with one hour of Steve Roden’s “lowercase music.”
If you’ve ever been even a tiny bit confused about strikes, read the words of Shawn Fain in full. A cynic, rightly, will doubt Biden’s intentions when popping up on a picket line but seeing labor with a seat on the main stage is no small thing. Complicating the idea of billionaires for a wide audience is, by itself, a good idea, and Biden is the first sitting president to join a picket line. In “Revaluing The Strike,” Erik Baker provides a short history of American strikes and talks about “the ultimate horizon made visible” by striking, which is “the substitution of workers’ own will for the will of capitalists in the governance of the labor process.”
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