Tag Archives: nyc

nyc christmas tourist

Christmas time is a bizarre time for a Jew (for anyone?). I feel like all month I’ve been wishing everyone a “Merry Christmas!” or almost worse, a “Happy Holidays!”. I vaguely hate the “Happy Holidays” because it’s pretending that there is actually another set of important holidays at this time of year. Really it’s just Christmas. We all know it, ok? stop pretending. Chanukkah is not a big deal. if you want to get excited about a Jewish holiday, let’s get gung-ho about Passover! or Rosh Hashannah! or Yom Kippur (oh wait, there’s no big present buying rush then? oh never mind.) anyways, we’ll get some mad passover fun going on in about 4 months but until then we’re here in December with Christmas.

So, having seen my amazing family during Thanksgiving I thought, there’s no reason for me to come home for this holiday I don’t celebrate. I’ll just stay in NYC and do some awesome sewing projects or catch up on work I’m making or get some good money-paying gigs while there’s no one here to distract me. Little did I know that the HOLIDAY MALAISE would descend upon me in a most epic way, reinforced by my new york setting.

Lonely and a bit homesick for a home beyond just the cinder blocks in Florida, I knew this was prime art-making time.

My companion for this adventure was a fellow non-celebrator, Davey Davis, who I found out was also around the city for the holiday, and who had been pumped about the idea when we ran into each other on the Williamsburg Bridge the other week (photoshoot!)

December 25, we set off to really feel the full extent of Christmas Spirit inside the city that many frolic to for just that feeling at this time of year. We collected objects, patterns pictures, feelings, sandwiches to document here. I also documented the project in real-time via twitter (<– a backwards stream of all my tweets from the day).

1. Breakfast at 473 St. Johns Pl, 9:40am:

Oatmeal (rolled oats, not steel cut), frozen berries, walnuts, almonds, ginger, cinnamon, yogurt, honey. Chai tea. We talked about routines and moving to new york and our individual adventures of late.

2. Train ride uptown, 10:35am:

Botanical Garden Shuttle to Franklin Ave, Manhattan bound C to Jay Street, Manhattan bound A to 125th Street, west to 490 Riverside Drive. We talked about outsider artists and traveling with intentions to make a difference and being the life of the party.

3. Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive, 2nd floor balcony, 11:55am:

The Riverside Church is a historic church, the church where a friend told me that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. went to / preached at (? facts not checked). A church which, “commits itself to welcoming all persons, celebrating the diversity found in a Congregation broadly inclusive of persons from different backgrounds of characteristics, including race, economic class, religion, culture, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, family status and physical and mental abilities. ”

We got here late, but caught the end of the sermon which surprisingly mentioned #occupywallstreet, being thankful for their cause and for the way they have brought up OWS issues into the public sphere, in a non-violent way. The sermon called to support their cause and have the mission of OWS be clearly articulated to all in the coming year, and that non-violent protesting be protected and continued. I was really impressed and moved by this endorsement, re-contextualization of the OWS movement into this religious context — makes it more viable? more credible with the weight of religious conviction, without scaring me because of this collapse of the religious and secular worlds? I hope this makes sense.

We also ended up on part of a tour of the church. We went to the top balcony, and the 20th floor, which for some reason was so impressive to me. 20 floors! in a church! that seems like a lot, but then I think about NYC and 20 floors is like nothing. It was beautiful regardless, and the room reverberated with the vibrations of the bells of the building, non-stop ringing.

4. Deli Sandwiches, Broadway Ave bodega, 1pm:

Hunger sets in. Davey advocates for his favorite NYC universal eats, the Bodega Deli Sandwich. Turkey and Ham, respectively, with “all the veggies you got” –  pickles, tomato, lettuce. Surprisingly delish and effectively filling lunches. Beautiful abstract-geometric-landscape setting. We talked about religion and Judaism and Atheism vs Agnosticism. We talked about families.

I picked up this interesting set of anthropological field samples on our walk through Morningside Heights.

5. 1 train south to Times Square, 1:35pm:

this train structure amazed me. It was beautiful. I also loved the tiny 1-person wide escalators.

The LED sign felt poetic, and foretelling of futures.

so many patterns. We talked about Cindy Sherman and the effectiveness of advertising on trains.

6. Bryant Park, kettle corn and not ice-skating, 2:00pm:

On our list of “maybe” was ice-skating. My mom said, “You gotta go ice skating on Christmas in NYC!” but the $35 ticket was a bit of a hesitation. But more-so than that, once we got there, it didn’t look very fun at all, and everyone just looked really silly.

7. New York Public Library steps, looking out on East 41st Street, 2:25pm:

Walking from Bryant Park, we came upon some folding chairs on the mall (promenade??) of the New York Public Library. IT was a lovely place to sit, watch people taking pictures of each other, and look out on the city. We talked about how we ended up in NYC, what we liked about it here, and what we saw as our futures here.

We saw these two kids posing for their dad, and they looked so funny in their posed faces. As soon as they finished their photo-shoot, I asked the dad to take a picture of Davey and myself posed in just the same way as the kids had posed.

8. Walking up 5th Avenue, 2:45pm:

So many people told me our tour HAD to include looking at the fabulous Christmas windows of department stores along 5th avenue. They were great! We saw Minnie Mouse! and then paid $1 for this damn photo:

The problem with this part of the tour was that between all the other Christmas Tourists, the hot dog vendors, the dudes selling Louis Votton purses, and barricades put up to control the crowds I was a part of, I kinda wanted to scream. The claustrophobia set in. I couldn’t move. everyone was so slow and leisurely and there wasn’t even that much to look at. I like that we couldn’t even take a photo in front of the windows without a million people moving into the picture too. That is more interesting to me than a picture of a fancy department store window.

Davey ended up going back another day to look at the better windows of Bergoff Goodman that we apparently missed because they were a few streets up from when we got too pooped out to continue (BUMMER).

9. Rockefeller Park/ Rockefeller Tree, 3:10pm:

“I’m gonna take a picture of you as you in front of the Rockefeller Tree — your first time seeing the tree!” Davey said to me as we neared 50th st. Some of the a million people next to us said, “Aww!” — our first Christmas!

But actually, it wasn’t so cute. It was entirely overwhelming. SO MANY PEOPLE AAACKCKKKK!!!!

All of this crazy was made better by impersonating the statues. We talked about bike races and how Davey has never met someone shorter than 5’4″ before (he says).

10. Train ride home, 3:30pm:

The crowds and ultra-tourism really wiped us out. and it was time to head home anyways for our separate evening plans. “We have to take a photo of you next to this fire-hydrant to end the project.” I don’t know why really but I guess it was a fitting end.

Downtown E to 42nd Street, Brooklyn-bound 2. We talked about potlucks and small-frame bikes.

Arrived home around 4:30pm. Parted ways. I ate all of the remaining toffee that my roommate Zoe had made for presents. Felt slightly sick from too much toffee and still a bit Christmas-lonely. But with a new friend and a great day of conversation and adventure gained.

Project End.

*all photos by Davey Davis. Except some less fancy ones by me on a phone camera.

1 Comment

Filed under adventures, progressing projects

november 17

(written on November 17, flying home to FLORIDA and leaving NYC on the day of the biggest city-wide protest since I moved here in March)

I’m watching the FOX news account of the Occupy Wall Street “Day of Action Disruption”, including a moving personal story of a mom whose son got cordoned off by group of linked arms protesters and she had to “ hit the gentlemen” to get her son back. “The traffic is horrible in lower Manhattan, but don’t worry we’ll keep you updated as we get the latest developments.” “Crowds and Chaos, that’s the only way to describe what’s going on in Lower Manhattan right now.” “Concentrate your ample efforts on looking for work — we are the silent 99% who are paying for this parade.”

Its dark in NYC but it’s light here in Florida, the sun is shining way past 4:30pm. I am wishing I was downtown in Manhattan, about to march across the Brooklyn Bridge, being one of the “thousands convening on Foley Square”. I didn’t wake up early to go to the protest around the Stock Exchange – I didn’t feel prepared, I wasn’t trained enough, I didn’t know where to go, don’t “have time” to be arrested.

I haven’t spoken very much about OWS because I almost don’t know what to say. I am part of the movement. I believe in the power of people. I believe that the way the world works right now doesn’t work, that our politics and reforms and how our society makes decisions is all governed by who has the money, I don’t trust our news media, I don’t trust other “experts”, I don’t trust things I read online until I’ve read at least 5 different things, I don’t trust myself because I must not know all the facts, I must not be educated enough, I must not be smart enough.

I don’t trust our police because I might break a rule and get arrested. I don’t trust the protestors because I don’t understand them fully. I don’t trust our government because they aren’t doing enough, they aren’t responding, they’re pretending this is a fad. They are being slow, individuals instead of a team, fighting over pathetic politics instead of making real change, making a real difference in the world.

But how can I make a real difference in my life? In this world? I don’t have a job, I’m living in the nation’s most expensive city, I’m relying on savings and financial assistance from my family. I know I have a lot to give to the world, I know I have a big difference to make, but I’m not sure how. And meanwhile I feel like a fake, like a useless part of this world, sucking up resources while I try and figure out my life – what a luxury. What would being part of a big march do? What would getting arrested do? What would stopping all other projects – applying to jobs, fixing up/unpacking my house, developing new projects, doing laundry  — what would that do? What would my projects – because I’m brimming with ideas more now than ever before – what would they do for the world? Are they just more feel-good stuffed animals? Should I be making defense shields instead? Maybe housing structures. But why? What’s behind the occupying? Even though I am for it, I don’t totally get it. It’s not about building structures. It’s about rocking the boat, causing a stir, being a stand.

Meanwhile, I am completing a two year program where I have been being trained in being responsible, listening fully, being a leader and causing leaders around me. In order to complete this training I am flying to Orlando to a conference with over 700 people who are also in this program across North America. We will all be staying in a fancy huge hotel (made affordable for me by splitting the room with 3 other lovely ladies) and my days will be entirely filled with meetings. I know that this makes a difference, I’ve seen the incredible shifts that people inside of this program have made in areas that are important to them, in making projects that they really want to happen actually take root and be real. I know that I would not be living in New York City, applying to jobs I really want, creating art projects that are bigger than me, being relatively unafraid knowing that I am a powerful listener and leader, that I can make a difference connecting with people. Yet I also feel like a fake. I can’t afford to take a trip to Florida. My family is funding my trip for Thanksgiving. I am unsure where I will get funds to pay for January’s rent. But I have the security of my family who will always back me, and that is something that not everyone has. And I use this as a reason why I am a fake and I’m not part of the movement.

I am committing to by the end of November:

  • moving my money, closing my Bank of America accounts.
  • Getting involved in OWS in a concrete way that I can own and be a part of the larger movement, instead of an occasional onlooker and casual participant. maybe through a project. maybe through a committee.
  • I will share my projects with everyone even when they scare me, even when I think they are dumb or insignificant. I will take critical feedback constructively and not personally. I welcome your feedback.
  • I will expand my projects as far beyond me as possible. I will trust others, giving up that I am the only one who knows how to “do it right” or do it best. I will make space for other people.
  • I will meet up with 1 friend I haven’t seen in months from NYC every week (as part of expanding people powered projects, consistent with my belief in the power of community and relationships)

I just remembered how paralyzed I was creatively a few months ago. Living in Florida, not being sure what was next, feeling like I didn’t have enough time or friends or resources to make any projects happen. I’ve applied to over 10 things (jobs, projects, classes, etc) in the last week, I’m seeking new funding sources for the unpaid projects, I’m living in the most incredible city surrounded by activists and artists and passionate people who are up to big huge things. I’ve set up my room to be a top notch studio, with all my fabrics lined up by color, with bins for “found objects” for “letter writing papers” for “jewelry making” for “thread” for “adhesives”.

I sat in the same aisle of the plane as a young woman (maybe 10 years old?) named Alia. She looked Middle Eastern. Her grandmother was Russian and sat in between us two Aliyas. The little girl was a brilliant translator for her grandmother. She was wearing all purple. I was proud to share a name with her.


Filed under thoughts


Presenting: Your Blog Post Table of Contents.

please feel free to refer back to this diagram at any point during your reading, if you need a break, if you are feeling fatigued, if it’s time for a snack, if you forgot where we were going with all this anyways.

I hope to see you at the end of this page. It will be great.

your trusty author & guide.

1. I’m Not Moving to Dallas (Yet). [September 30]

I found out recently that my position at the bcWORKSHOP has been postponed until Maybe February (no dates yet). funding cuts, bureaucracy, possibly/definitely (but not explicitly said) a federal relief/jobs stimulus bill not being renewed?

Point is i’m not leaving florida until february maybe. They want me, but they can’t pay to send me to the required training. The next training is in maybe February.

This felt like a huge blow. I had even made cute booty shorts inspired by the state I was moving to (see pictures at the end of this post)! Worse was just feeling like I was about to step into something, into a larger context that was going to bring me to the next logical place, and suddenly that stepping stone was moved way far away. i don’t want to wait around for 4 months. i don’t like waiting around ever. i could fill my life with little projects forever, i know. i could sew and putter around and eat fruit in tropical wonderful florida winter for weeks on end but this wasn’t enough. i would be like an empty shell.

so i realized it was time to create something. something super compelling to drive me through the winter and into dallas. i started imagining art on the road. art in a cute adorable trailer. art + friends. art + visiting friends. art + a troupe of friends traveling and making amazing things and communities all over.

this sorta became a different idea once i looked into more logistics. I realized, “what about really just taking on florida, the whole reason / idea i had for this Bonar Family residency in the first place. what if i did sewing workshops, friend making workshops, community art workshops, projects, involvements right now here in delray. and maybe miami too. miami could be like traveling to somewhere new and foreign, and delray can be the familiar try-it-out setting.”

the thing that pulls me in two directions is that i say i want to do this big community art project — and i really do. but it terrifies me. i feel incredibly alone when i talk about this project. it feels like little aliya going up against the world to make this big thing all by myself. fulfilling on a promise i don’t even totally know i can fully accomplish. so the idea of a sewing/altering/creating something great out of old shit workshop seemed like a great plan. but it also seems like a small thing. like little aliya. but is it? isn’t it better to just get started on something already? i need to confidently talk about myself as an artist in the present tense. i am an artist. i am making all the time. i am not waiting. i am moving forward right now. i am a superwoman.

2. Creative Time Summit: Revolutions in Public Practice 2 [October 9-10] featuring appearances by “IDEAS, INSPIRATIONS, FUTURES CREATED!

so that is the mindset i walked into the nyc creative time revolutions in public practice 2 summit October 9th weekend. i created the possibility of the trip being ridiculous best-friend-ships, partnership, collaboration, connections, community. the possibility of me being courageous and outspoken, fully self expressed and a huge contribution to the world — knowing myself as someone who is a contribution and part of the social engaged art field. I assigned myself the job of a NYC 8th grade book report: ask questions, fully participate, be totally of service to everyone, talk totally self expressed-ly to everyone i meet.

oh, here’s your entrance wristband to get into this blog version of the conference.

Wow! What a great great inspiring conference. Summit. I left feeling inspired, as I had intended and the whole reason for going. As a volunteer, I loved getting to know the people and the organization of Creative Time. They are amazing. I would really like to participate as an intern in their program very soon (foreshadowing).

As a viewer/participant in the summit (I was just a normal summit-goer the first day, and a volunteer the next day), I loved the set up (much better than last year): there were panels who presented, grouped on a theme, and then those people had a panel discussion, mostly led by questions from the audience. That was the real veggie-meat, the best part. Their presentations could make no sense, and then the discussion was where it became a bit more real. I also am constantly amazed at how bad some people are at presenting ideas and having an audience really get it. I mean, obviously I’m still working on that too. But there were so many times when people tried to cram whole years long theories into 8 min presentation, and it was just rushed and confusing and I feel like I understood some parts, but not really where they were going. The keynote speech by community-art-heart-throb Rick Lowe was incredible: he presented his work and the questions and commitments behind his work, but he also touched on the issues and dilemmas of community based work. when it doesn’t work so great. when its hard. when you do everything right and people still end up back in jail.

You can digest the Summit yourself here.

Anyways, here are some quotes/ideas I’m taking away from the discussions (these are all paraphrases):

  • “I’m not producing Forms, but experiences.” (surasik usolwong)
  • “we continue to be successful as long as someone continues to want our services”
  • “art has to be a movement into the world opening out eyes, being of service” (FEAST)
  • “we bring these issues into the realm of ART because the question of value is debated in this context. The system of value within our current system needs to be debated” : Within a context of being “art”, these projects get scrutinized and questioned as to the value that they bring — both in what we consider valuable in our normal day to day (capitalist) lives and also beyond that, in what is important for each person to express and declare.
  • from rick lowe: “I want to create a space for producing and celebrating culture and neighborhood: talking about pride and community, not poverty and crime. Where is the dignity in neglect? if you give people light they can shine. Wheres the dignity in telling artists there’s no room for them to make a difference in their communities and everyday lives?” (based on idea from John Biggers: take something that is dishonored and honor it, restore its dignity)
  • (rick lowe again:) “The work I do I have to think about in terms of social justice — social change is not enough. It’s not change, its peeling back the layers that are already there. It’s not easy, it doesn’t all work. It’s dangerous work, we’re trespassing into people’s lives. Justice is what we have to demand of each other [holding each other to account to produce work that forwards the world & humans in it, not just change it.]
  • “artists can be good at map-making/politics of space: we imagine new ways of being and then create spaces for that to exist” (trevor paglen)
  • some projects are not necessarily very effective in their goals, but they do open up a conversation to new people, opens up a new kind of dialogue. (dinh q. le)
  • “why does everyone living in AnnArbor want to do projects in Detroit?” in reference to a grad school class exploring this idea and divide: reciprocal participation is key in having open and equal exchanges of information and learning across differences. (danielle abrams)
  • organizations and art projects want to be a part of a system (for $, recognition, backing, support) but at the same time it is limiting & isolating because of that privilege and backing/support
  • there was a lot of questions and discussions about capitalism and commitments to dismantling capitalism, or the school structures, or government structures. in response, at the end of the day, “There is an illusion of artists that we can create new contexts for our art. NO. We rely on the existing contexts and institutions to give meaning and support and existence to our projects and ideas.” (discussion for plausible art worlds)

I don’t know if that is useful to anyone really. those are my scattered notes, and maybe they don’t make sense out of context.

If that list didn’t make sense, then you should definitely read this one:  Here is what I generated in my own head over the weekend, a list of project ideas:

  • dinner party art: an entire meal of one-bite dishes beautifully laid out in miniature on a spoon for each guest.
  • my room as an installation! color code it, transform the junk into awesome!
  • program: “Make Cookies With An Artist” (where you get to make cookies with me. Related “Go On A Date With An Artist” (only a small application fee for that residency, which covers roughly the cost of dinner).
  • Backyard BFR Lecture Series!! 15 minute lectures on something you know a lot about. invite everyone i know to play in my backyard.
  • ethnography of all the restaurants on “west atlantic” that I consciously/unconsciously have never been to because that’s the “poor part of town”
  • have a tropical fruit party exploring all the tropical fruit trees that I find.
  • learn spanish really
  • meal/research project exploring my food history: “jewish food” and “macrobiotic food”  and where did the “jewish foods” become jewish foods/ why/ and what are the foods that I consider to be foods I grew up on and “my history”
  • scan/take photos of all the sentimental stuff i am keeping around. bind it into a book, and then throw away all that stuff.
  • make milagro star cards with all the kids at Milagro: a trading card for each kid and on the back it will talk about what they’re really good at and what they love and what they want to contribute to the world.
  • a piece in the ocean: 100 floating sculptures.

3. NYC Reunions!! [October 11-12]

Not Pictured!

  • Eric Peterson at McSorely’s where we ate way too much cheese and crackers and onions and horseraddish mustard
  • Malcolm St. Clair at Upright Citizens Brigade! which was funny because he told me about this place when we were dating a million years ago and I had dreamed of going there with him, and now we were! weird.
  • Shoshi Roberts at Cupcake Cafe! which was also funny because we technically just met! and a roundabout/through ex boyfriends way of knowing each other.

4. Bonar Family Tropical Residency Program: Reinvigorated! [October 15ish]

(click on the image to get the full info at my friends Amber and Bobby’s Amazing Network of Domestic Spaces Project)

come visit my tropical residency program!! we will create some magical art together. open for one weekend or week long stays. can’t wait to see your beautiful face

5. Delray Beach Workshops

6. In Action: New Brochure, New Freedom to Talk About My Art!

Since not going to Dallas, I suddenly had a bit more freedom to talk about what I’m up to and make it applicable right here right now (you really). So I created a new brochure! this time striving to be more concrete, more visual, more tangible. Like after reading it, some awesome people and arts organizations are going to say, oh yeah, I can do that. here it is!

I still need a good title/name for my program. Thoughts?

Best is that I’ve been calling people. I need to keep calling them and actually reach them, but I am not terrified of picking up the phone. BUSINESS LADY ALIYA IS IN THE HOUSE!

7. 10×10 Show! [October 21]

Part of that “talking to everyone” thing is that I got in touch with this amazing curator, Kara Walker Tome, who has been making all kinds of incredible art shows in South Florida. Jody Servon from Elsewhere and Steve Bachus from Milagro have both told me to get in touch with her.

I did, it was too late to apply to this show, but I said I wanted to be involved in any way. She responded a week or so later saying, “We have a spot open and I totally love your work!” so I made a proposal and now I’m in! I’m going to be in a real-live established art show in South Florida!!
Here’s my proposal!

10×10 project proposal oct-20-2010


9. Coming Soon: more collaborations with wannamake; Clear Headed Fact-Based Elections discussions;  had a really amazing conversation with fellow Hampshire Alum and Community Artist Kate Browne (who makes COCOONS!!); YOU! at the Bonar Family Tropical Residency Program!!; Rat-Tail Love; Stuffed Animals in the Big Times

PS: check out some cool clothes I’ve been making:

  1. shirt image designed and drawn for me by mr. Micah Litant

  2. p.p.s. just so you all know, i kinda hated writing this blog post. it was like flossing after not flossing for so long. it sucks. it took me 5 + hours. so i hope you really appreciate it, even the long and make-no-sense lists. All those images! so exciting! relish in the excitement of images and updates from my life!
  3. ok. i’m done being bitchy now.


Filed under thoughts