Bronxite Colleen Kelly, Who’s Brother Was Killed on 9/11, Testifies Before U.S. Senate Committee

6 Jan

Jan. 6, 2022 — Colleen Kelly is a long-time Bronx resident and nurse practitioner. A sister of Bill Kelly, Jr., who was killed while visiting the World Trade Center for a meeting on Sept. 11, Kelly testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee last month demanding the resolution and completion of what’s been going on — actually what has not gone on — at Guantanamo for two decades. “One judge after another has been replaced,” as have many attorneys and other staff, Kelly said. A co-founder of Sept. 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows (I wrote about Peaceful Tomorrows’ launch near the U.N. in early 2002 for The Nation), Kelly has been to Guantanamo several times witnessing its unjust and blatant bureaucracy. With 2,977 people killed, there is still “no justice, no accountability,” regarding “the information we’ve been denied for two decades,” she said. Following are links for Kelly testifying (text is here) and then answering the questions of Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Democrat-CT):

https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4990100/user-clip-col-testimony-guant-hearing

https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4990104/user-clip-colleen-kelly-blumenthal

—Jordan Moss

After 8 Years of Nothingness, Armory Ice-Rink Plan Ditched

17 Dec

Dec. 17, 2021 …. Breaking News (really, I’m not kidding!): After almost 30 years of fits and starts (and a lotta stops) on the future of the Kingsbridge Armory, the plan the city, and its chosen developer, got the OK on has been officially and legally ditched.

Almost exactly eight years ago — on Dec. 10, 2013 — the future of the historic site was handed over to KNIC (Kingsbridge National Ice Center) a group that was planning to turn the armory into a home for nine ice skating rinks, particularly for hockey teams, and 50,000-square-feet of space for local nonprofit community organizations. (The armory — the biggest one in the world! — is over 520,000 square feet.)

But virtually zilch has happened since.

So, earlier today, wondering where the heck things were at long after after KNIC took on the project, I wrote to the city agency responsible for the program: the Economic Development Corporation (EDC). This was their breaking-news response:

“We are disappointed the redevelopment of the Kingsbridge Armory — a centerpiece of the Kingsbridge community — has been set back but we look forward to working with the community to rethink the uses of this historic building.”

And referring to a recent legal ruling that led to their disappointment, EDC added this:

“In a recent decision, the First Judicial Department of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York agreed with New York City Economic Development Corporation that KNIC did not provide the necessary evidence of financing for the ice center project at Kingsbridge Armory by the required deadline in 2016.  Therefore, the project will not be proceeding. We are disappointed that KNIC has been unable to realize the financing for the project, despite continued efforts since the 2016 deadline.”

It’s been almost 30 years since I and the Norwood News first covered the armory (see photo below), when the state handed it over to the city. The paper covered it relentlessly over the next few decades. That had an impact on helping get the empty historic facility some attention from local politicians and city agencies, as did the relentless activism of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition.

But now that we’re back where it all started, it needs much more media and political attention, like if the Park Avenue Armory on Manhattan’s Upper East Side suddenly went empty. No one wants another freakin 30 years of this (or even 5 or 10!). Let’s get it on the top of our elected officials’ priority list and make them focus on what the community wants and needs. —Jordan Moss

The state of the Kingsbridge Armory was covered by the non-profit Bronx community newspaper, the Norwood News,
from 1993 to 2013 and beyond.
Photo by Jordan Moss

Tibbetts Brook Needs Daylighting

15 Dec

Dec. 15, 2021If you missed the New York Times article last week about Tibbetts Brook, mostly covered over in Van Cortlandt Park a century ago, and the efforts for it to be daylighted, you can check it out here. What the remnants of the Hurricane Ida disaster did in September to 87/Major Deegan, in the Bronx and beyond, kind of spelled out why daylighting the buried Tibbetts Brook isn’t just an effort to make it look nice. More critically, it’s to help prevent what is otherwise certain to result in more natural disasters. To learn more, there is an Environment and Sanitation Committee & Parks and Recreation Committee meeting of Community Board 8 in a few hours on Zoom at 7 PM (Wed., Dec. 15). Here’s the link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2114033690. And here’s the info for connecting by phone: +16465588656 Passcode: 2114033690# .

The morning after Hurricane Ida. View on bridge over Deegan on West 238th St. in Bronx. Photo by Jordan Moss

Bronx Museum of the Art’s Biennial

6 Oct

From Oct. 20 thru Jan. 16 the Bronx Museum of the Arts, on the Grand Concourse and E. 165th St., exhibits the work of 69 emerging NYC artists who experienced the museum’s incubator program. Can’t wait to check it out. Hope you do too! (If you’ve never been to the Bronx Museum, I’d say this is a great time to begin. Such wonderful art there that too few of us see. And it’s free!)

Black and Blue

2 Mar

March 2, 2021 —When I saw these two people heading towards each other while driving in Riverdale a week or so ago, I stopped at the stop sign for more than the usual instant to grab my phone and take several photos. The intensely different way each walker was protecting themselves from the wet snow speaks for itself, and what you can, and cannot, see of them does the same. (Photo by Jordan Moss)

Bronx Activist Karen Washington in The Times’ … Style Magazine!

1 Mar

March 1, 2021 — Karen Washington, a retired physical therapist, deserves coverage across the planet for her dedication to urban farming, healthy eating, social justice, and all the other work she has done in the Bronx and beyond.

But it was a surprise — a tad odd, but very cool nonetheless — that Washington (at left in photo below) and two other women, securing healthy food for all and fighting exploitation, were featured in the New York Times’ Style Magazine a couple of weeks ago. (Click below to read the article). I know Karen: wonderful, caring person, who is on the board of the Mary Mitchell Center in the Crotona section of the Bronx, the neighborhood where she also lives. In addition to the article below, you can read more about her here, here and here.

Leonardo’s Work at Bronx Museum Ignites Focus, Thought, and Hopefully … Action

26 Feb

Feb. 26, 2021 — The Bronx Museum of the Arts was almost empty when I was there on Wednesday, but the message of its Shaun Leonardo exhibit, “The Breath of Empty Space,” was full … and forceful. 

The reflections from the glass covering of each large piece make you walk up close and wonder why the heck the curator didn’t see the reflections when they were installed. When I walked up to the piec, I didn’t understand what I was looking at. I saw various clothed body sections but I didn’t understand the action being taken. There were even cutouts from the charcoal drawing.

All this had purpose. 

Though the head of a person was non-existent, that empty half-body-like section was filled with parts of me. No, I was not killed, nor did I kill, but the message I interpreted for myself is that I have some role in the tale, even if I was in bed, or at Starbucks or on a bike ride for the seven minutes that Officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck. Anti-racism doesn’t mean not killing or not saying racist things. It means acting, speaking, showing up — against racism. There were other pieces created with related messages, some a little harder to interpret, for me at least, which is why I need to, and look forward to, returning to the exhibit to look, and think more. And read more about racism in general. And learn. And act. 

In a video on the museum’s site, Leonardo shares his message briefly but in these minimal, intense words he offers more than any art critique can provide. 

[It took me a few minutes (and I think my friend, Larry, pointed it out) to see that that the emptiness in this piece with my, and the exhibit’s, reflection in center, was the absence of George Floyd. What’s more powerful than that?]

“And if you experience something lodged in your body, some guttural, visceral impression, then I wish for you to stay with that for a moment, to sit with the hurt,” he said, “so that you may leave this exhibition questioning the ways that we perceive. And at the end of this experience, we may discover ways to move differently in the world and to breathe life into this history of violence.”

The show is on until May 30. Attendance is free but you must make a reservation which is rather easy. Go if you can!

Kingsbridge Armory’s Endless Stall

18 Oct

It drives me a little nuts, everytime I walk or run by the Kingsbridge Armory. 

I first wrote about it in 1993; community organizers and activists with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition got involved soon thereafter; and after many starts and stops and Mayor Bloomberg’s heavily defeated proposal to make a mall out of the giant joint (more than 500,000 square feet!) without  a promise of a fair wage for workers, a group that adhered to a fair-wage deal finally got a plan saluted and signed by all sides. Named the Kingsbridge National Ice Center was going to be nine ice skating rinks for pro-hockey, and locals too. But the last word I found was in 2017 here and here. It’s been six years since there was a “deal” in 2014. Argh!!!!

Kingsbrige Armory. Where is it headed? Photo by Jordan Moss