Thursday, February 05, 2009

Here's to the home of the brave / Here's to the life that is saved


Yesterday we went to 125th and Lexington, famous. of course, for the line in Lou's "Waiting For My Man". We walked from there westwards towards the Apollo.

In Harlem the two most famous streets, which cross in the centre of the district are the aforementioned 125th and Lenox. As a reverential nod to some of the nation’s most illustrious Black names, 125th also carries the name Martin Luther Boulevard , whilst Lenox is Malcolm X Boulevard . Other local streets are named after Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton Powell.

But it’s the meeting of the first two which has the most resonance and it’s quite something to stand at the intersection of the two names. You really do feel humbled.

But even more so when you walk down 125th and see Obama. Not the man himself of course, but the face, the words, the images and everything else. This place is thoroughly Obama-ized and, as much as we understand how big this thing was / is, you really need to wander through a place like Harlem to feel just how much resonance and empowerment the election of a black man, and a proudly black family has to these folks and the history and momentum signified in the names attached to these few streets...some of which still draw the ire and terrify some elements of the traditional power structure. You simply don’t understand it from TV and the media, either online or written. It’s fucking huge and I simply don’t know the words to express it so I’ll leave these two images to speak instead, as they say more than I ever really could.

The first is just a very small part of a huge wall in Harlem where folks can write their hopes for the man's first 100 days..this part from one school class:

A Wall in Harlem

A dress in 125th

The other thing that’s struck me is that the old white men seem to have turned already, though, and with quite a vengeance. The DC establishment is fighting back and McCain and Cheney, and the Murdoch media are firmly on the attack. They have to be I guess, as they don’t have much else left right now, but seeing McCain mumbling on, on CNN domestic or Rush on Fox, then putting that against the tone you see and the words you her everywhere on the street, at least in NYC, either these guys still don’t quite get it or are in complete denial. Or, most likely, a mix of both.

There is, naturally, regardless of that, a small but tangible (and inevitiable) drop off in the Obama sheen, mostly because of his missteps on confirmations and some public unease on parts of the stimulus bill before Congress. You hear folks talking about these things if you let your ears wander in the diners, as I’m apt to. I’m not trying to be nosy, I just wanna know what’s being said out there on the street, or at least the very small part of it I’m in.

It fascinates.

1 comment:

P-MONEY said...

I stayed on 123rd and lennox for 3 months back in 02/03. This makes me want to go back and catch the current vibe. I can only imagine what its like. Thanks for the insight Simon