Saturday, April 23, 2016

CUBA I: Cars

Havana (and Cuba) saw its first automobile in 1898. That car was a Parisienne, shipped from Paris where its new owner had gone to escape the War of Independence.  In the following year, another French automobile made its way to Havana, a Rochet-Schneider from Lyons.




Société Parisienne, Voiturette, 1898


Rochet-Schneider, Touring Car, 1899

Cuba's earliest romance with automobiles was hardly an instant embrace the American car; many of Cuba's first imports from its northern neighbor (three of which belonged to the United States Minister) suffered mechanical failures. It's my guess that attitudes toward American cars only changed after 1908, the year that Henry Ford began manufacturing that most reliable of workhorses, the Model T.

Wikipedia estimates the number of cars in Cuba today as 173,000. Another source, based on a 2008 World Bank estimate of the number of cars per 1,000 people in each country of the world, lists Cuba as 21 cars/1,000 people; this would result in some 239,517 cars.  A third source, a 2014 article in Reuters claims there are "650,000 cars on the island," which--unless I learn otherwise--seems the least reliable, and I will dismiss.  

Let's agree to round off the number of cars in Cuba at 200,000. Of these, people in the know estimate that some 60,000 are classic American cars, mainly dating from the later 1940s up to 1960. After that year, the Cuban Revolution and the so-called American "blockade" banned importation of any American cars into Cuba, whether old or new.  

The following thirty-one photographs (with the exception of the last one) are of those classic, pre-1960 American cars, for which Cuba is rightly famous. Among these, you won't see a Lada, a Moskvitch, a Geely, a GAZ, a VAZ, a Beijing, a Polski, a Peugeot 405 or even a Ford Falcon (made in Argentina). These exist as part of the remaining 140,000 cars. Almost all of them are state owned cars, among the many that Cuba had to import from other countries after that embargo that America imposed on Cuba in October of 1960.



Two Flags, 1950 Chevrolet Convertible, Airport, Havana, Cuba




Staying Cool, 1947 Chevrolet Fleetmaster Sport Sedan, Airport, Havana, Cuba




 Pas de Deux, 1947 Chevrolet Fleetmaster [L] & 1952 Chevrolet Sedan [R], Airport, Havana, Cuba




Camión Azul, 1948 Ford Panel Wagon, Airport, Havana, Cuba




P 005, 1953 Chevrolet Sedan, Airport, Havana, Cuba




Wraparound, 1956 Pontiac Chieftain, Airport, Havana, Cuba

I took these first six photographs in a brief, two-minute walk around the parking lot in front of the José Martí International Airport before our group bus left for the drive into Havana. This was the only occasion in which my intention was to photograph old cars. All the subsequent shots were taken as I walked different parts of Havana to focus more on documenting street life, art and the urban infrastructure. The rest of the cars, seen below, simply found me.



Coger La Botella, 1953 Buick Special, Línea, Vedado, Havana, Cuba




Rutero Azul, 1952 Oldsmobile 88, Línea, Vedado, Havana, Cuba




Rutero Roja, 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air, Línea, Vedado, Havana, Cuba




Taxi Colectivo, 1949 Dodge [L] and 1959 Plymouth [R], Línea, Vedado, Havana, Cuba




Marrón y Blanco Rutero, 1951 Buick Super, Calle O, Vedado, Havana, Cuba

These five photographs were taken in the district of Havana known as Vedado. Development of the Vedado began slowly in 1859, then sped up at the turn of the century. In order to take advantage of the sea breezes, Vedado streets were oriented at forty-five degrees to those of the older sections of Havana to its east. Vedado's streets were also wider, as were its planned building lots; promenades, trees, and parks were also stipulated in its original planning.

The result is a district much better suited to the automobile, an object which would only arrive some forty years later. 

Also in Vedado, a major road, now called Linea because of the streetcar tracks that once defined it, is used as one of the fixed routes for the privately-owned older taxis, called ruteros.  Starting from a few designated spots in Habana Viejo, such as El Capitolio Nacional, they ferry people (who hail them from anywhere along their route) to and from the city center.  Their fee is fixed and they drop passengers at a spot on their route closest to the rider's destination, but never at the front door. That service is reserved for the real taxis.

Coger la Botella, my title for the first of these photos, is the Cuban phrase for hitchhiking ("to catch the bottle").  That green, 1953 Buick stopped to pick up a passenger, although I'm not sure if the passenger actually was hitchhiking or had been waiting on the Linea for a rutero)

Because public transportation fell apart, especially in what Cubans call the Special Period, hitchhiking essentially became nationalized.  How ironic to compare this with the United States, where, today, hitchhiking is outlawed in several states and stigmatized in most of the rest of our country. 

In Cuba, the gesture of the raised thumb, internationally understood as "thumbing a ride" or hitchhiking, had also served--in bars, before cars--as the request for another drink. Thus the term, coger la botella, or ir con la botella.

The ruteros, most of which are pre-1960 automobiles, may well be individually owned.  In contrast, all cars imported after the Revolution and the embargo that followed are owned by the Cuban government.  Ruteros have long played an important role in supplementing an otherwise overburdened system of public transportation. Equally important, they offer their owners a means of earning a good bit more than the average monthly salary of 584 pesos ($24.30).




Waiting for Customers, 1956 Ford Fairlane Sunliner, Parque Central, Centro Habana, Havana, Cuba




Embotellamiento Clásico, 1949 Ford [L] 1952 Pontiac [Ctr] 1956 Ford [R], Calle Neptuno, Centro Habana, Havana, Cuba




Ocupado, 1951 Chevrolet, Calle Neptuno, Centro Habana, Havana, Cuba




Esperando, 1957 Ford Fairlane, Calle Habana, La Habana Vieja, Havana, Cuba




Rojo Viejo, 1928 Ford Roadster, Vedado, Havana, Cuba




Me Gusta Su Color Verde, 1945 Chevrolet Convertible [L] and 1931 Ford Sport Coupe [R], Malecón, La Habana Vieja, Havana, Cuba




Two Tone, 1952 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe, Calle Luz, La Habana Vieja, Havana, Cuba




Una Belleza Rosada, 1953 Chevrolet 210 Convertible, Hotel Nacional, Vedado, Havana, Cuba




Cielo Azul, 1953 Chevrolet Bel-Air, Calle O, Vedado, Havana, Cuba




Che on Pink, 1956 Oldsmobile, Calle O, Vedado, Havana, Cuba




B-body in Cranberry, 1949 Oldsmobile 76 Sedan, Calle O, Vedado, Havana, Cuba




Pink Rocket, 1956 Oldsmobile 88, Calle O, Vedado, Havana, Cuba




Va Va Voom, 1952 Chevrolet Convertible, Calle O, Vedado, Havana, Cuba




Rojas' Car, 1952 Chevrolet Convertible, Miramar, Havana, Cuba

On two separate evenings, we took an older taxi from our hotel in Vedado to a restaurant in the Miramar district. Unfortunately, I didn't talk much with Rojas, our driver on the second evening, the dash of whose car is pictured above.

On our first evening excursion, we were driven by Ramses in his 1957 Ford Fairline convertible. Ramses is a college graduate with a degree in economics. He told me that he couldn't earn enough after graduation in the job given him by the Cuban government, so he took to driving a taxi.  He rents his car from the government; he pays for its repairs and upkeep; and in order to save on gas, he removed its 272 cubic inch, 190 horse-power V8 engine and replaced it with a Russian four-cylinder engine and transmission. 

To offer some perspective on this situation (even if the comparison is an extreme form of "apples-to-oranges"), an American graduate with a BA in economics will enjoy a starting annual salary of somewhere between $35,000 and $44,000.  It's doubtful that, in this latter case, he/she would resort to driving a taxi.




Nice but not Factory Colors, 1955 Chevrolet Bel-Air Convertible, Calle O, Vedado, Havana, Cuba




Nicer: Original Grille & Mint Front, 1955 Chevrolet, Calle 30, Miramar, Havana, Cuba




Dual Trumpet Horns, 1957 Buick Special, Necrópolis de Colón, Vedado, Havana, Cuba




Almost Paradise, 1956 Ford Fairlane and 1957 Buick Skylark, Necrópolis de Colón, Vedado, Havana, Cuba




Coche Campesino, 1950 Chevrolet Sedan, Las Terrazas, Candelaria, Artemisia Province, Cuba




Sidewalk Skeleton, Fiat Panda (?), Calle 15, Vedado, Havana, Cuba

Sitting off the sidewalk in a residential neighborhood was this rusting shell from which everything useful has been removed: doors, windows, seats, steering wheel & column, axles, wheels, engine, transmission, drive shaft, rear end assembly.  

Who knows when these parts disappeared or where they went?  However, as with Ramses' 1957 Ford Fairlane, it's a good bet that the engine and transmission of this Fiat Panda (if that's what it was) helped make someone's American classic car more affordable to drive. As writer Alyn Edwards has noted, "there are no junkyards in Cuba. Everything that would have been junk is on the cars." 

However, an article in Motor Trend written a year later (December of 2014) took a more jaundiced view, disparaging most of the classic American cars seen driving in Cuba as mutants, and labeling Havana "a vehicular Zombieland."

This is harsh, disrespectful language for a phenomenon that is, in fact, amazingly positive. These cars should not exist today, not only because Cubans have had no access to replacement parts for sixty-six years, but also because of the corrosive nature of the salty sea air and the poor condition of the roads on which they drive--daily. Yet, here they are, all these gorgeous pre-1960 American automobiles; and they are working cars, not garaged classics waiting to emerge on an occasional sunny Sunday.

The Cubans can fix anything, a talent not restricted to their classic cars. They are extremely resourceful, as David Cogswell remarks: "When it comes to resourcefulness, the Cubans have shown their capacities to be beyond what anyone could expect or imagine....[and] they turned adversity into the creation of an art form in their antique cars.

It is crystal clear that Cubans "could...teach us a thing or two about recycling and refurbishment." As the saying goes, Todo tiene arreglo excepto la muerte--everything can be fixed except death.




Saturday, April 9, 2016

BERNIE'S PEOPLE: Bernie Sanders in the Bronx

On March 31, 2016, Bernie Sanders brought his campaign for the Presidency to Saint Mary's Park in the South Bronx. I present the following photographs (97 in all) as a visual document the event, and I encourage you to scan them simply as that, or as my title suggests, as portraits of "Bernie's People." For anyone who wants more, I also offer occasional commentary and links to other, relevant sources.

Access to the event in the Park didn't open up until ca. 4:30 pm. These first few photographs were taken at about 2:00, when I arrived. Already, a line of people snaked all the way up St. Mary's Street and around the corner, offering a soft, amorphous boundary to the usually clear, hard outer edge of the Park.




Waiting for Bernie I, St. Mary's Street, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Waiting for Bernie II, St. Mary's Street, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Waiting for Bernie III, Edge of St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

St. Mary's Park, at 35-acres, is the largest park in the South Bronx. It originally was part of the 17th century estate of Jonas Bronck, for whom this Borough is named.  In the mid-19th century, the area was owned by iron worker Adrian Janes, whose foundry cast the parts for the bridges of Central Park and the dome of the U. S. Capitol.




Waiting for Bernie IV, St. Mary's Street, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Hours later, inside the Park, I talked to the gentlemen wearing the beret in the above photo.  A strong Bernie fan, he stated emphatically that, were Bernie to lose, he would not vote for Hillary.  My pragmatic assurances that either candidate would make a capable leader for America held no sway.

A recent McClatchy-Marist poll shows that 25% of Sanders backers would not support Clinton, were she to be the Democratic candidate.  However, take heart: eight years ago a Gallup poll had 28% of Clinton supporters insisting they would vote for McCain over Obama, so those of us with a distinct liberal leaning can assuage our worries somewhat by applying this bit of historical balm.





Lining Up for Bernie: Spread Love, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

This sign, of course, is a reference to the different emotional "vibes to be found at rallies for Sanders and Trump. It also references a statement Sanders made in February that  “we will defeat Mr. Trump because the American people understand and always have that love trumps hatred.” 

But then, love flows both ways, and there is no doubt about the love for Bernie shown by millennials:  Bernie outpolls Hillary among millennials by about 85-15%; as Kevin Drum observed, "Santa Claus would have a hard time pulling numbers like that against the Grinch."




Lining Up for Bernie: Buttoning-up, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Lining Up for Bernie: Mr. Big, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Lining Up for Bernie: Love not Hate, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Lining Up for Bernie: Jedi Warrior, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Take notice of all these happy faces, even though they have been waiting for over two hours in these "cattle chutes" set up inside the Park entrance to contain the crowd. Never did I see a single sour face; nor did I hear anyone grumble, even as a few people occasionally pushed past us to gain line advantage. The group, as one, always seemed to tacitly give those few people the benefit of the doubt. Keep in mind, this is New York, a city where a line-jumper never gets a free pass!

I'm not sure when the connection between Bernie and a Jedi Warrior first emerged (I refer to the blue T-shirt above), but Danny DeVito said as much in his endorsement of Bernie.




Lining Up for Bernie: Saving Earth, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Lining Up for Bernie: Save the Environment, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

In contrast to all the Republican Presidential candidates, who still seem to be in denial about the ecological dangers facing our earth, Bernie Sanders clearly states: "Climate change is the single greatest threat facing our planet. The debate is over, and the scientific jury is in." 




Lining Up for Bernie: Man with Oakleys, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Lining Up for Bernie: Man in Cap, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

The demographic profile of Sanders supporters is weighted towards those under the age of forty-five; yet, there were also plenty of older people in attendance, both men and women, even if the polls say that seniors favor Hillary by a 3:1 margin.

Reporter Ross Barkan captured both the tone and make-up of this event with the following comparison:   "Unlike the more staid Clinton rallies—even her jazzier trip to Harlem lacked the carnival atmosphere of tonight—the crowd at Mr. Sanders’ Bronx debut was younger, more ebullient and plenty hipster-flavored, as if many were on their way to see Bernie-approved bands like Vampire Weekend or TV on the Radio.  And it wasn’t all white or male; women rivaled men, and minorities turned out in significant force."




Lining Up for Bernie: Feminist Boomer, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

As Gail Sheehy observed in December, to her surprise, feminist boomers are far from sold on Hillary Clinton.  Times, it seems, have changed since Clinton's last run for the Presidency.




Lining Up for Bernie: Join the Revolution, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

What is the "Revolution?"  It's a national, single-payer health care system;  it's free public higher education;  it's the need to preserve Social Security;  it's caring properly for our veterans;  it's recognizing and combatting climate change;  it's reforming Wall Street and seeking ways to rebalance income inequality;  and it's much more.




Lining Up for Bernie: Ersatz Barack, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Lining Up for Bernie: The Cattle Chutes, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Once through the metal detectors, I could look back at the foreground "cattle chutes" and the ever-expanding line of people snaking  back up St. Mary's Street, part of over 18,500 who attended Bernie Sanders' Bronx Rally.




Assembling for Bernie: General View, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Finally, here is the day's destination, the final place of assembly. The podium where Bernie eventually will address the crowd is just to the right of that tree.  

The building with a tall cupola in the background is PS 277, designed in 1897 by architect Charles B. J. Snyder, who envisioned his school buildings as civic monuments for a better society--a fitting background against which Bernie will present his ideas of social change and justice.




Assembling for Bernie: Secret Service, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Young Father, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

This, and most of the rest of the photographs, will reveal the racial diversity of Sanders supporters, and so put a lie to the false, "Bernie so white" narrative.




Assembling for Bernie: Mitsu, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Puertorriqueña, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Puerto Ricans for Bernie, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Bernie Sanders agrees that the United States has an obligation to help Puerto Rico with its financial crisis and allow it to restructure its debt.  There's little doubt that Puerto Ricans will be supporting Bernie.




Assembling for Bernie: College Supporter, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Woman with an Afro, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Man in Profile, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Man in Hoodie, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Mychal, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Martine, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Amy, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Tammy, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Young Girl, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Playing Horsey-honey, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Man with Hacky Sack, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Man in Amish Hat, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Woman with Blanket, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Let Us Do It, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

This sign refers to two separate issues. One is about Hillary Clinton's argument that Bernie Sanders is an idealist whose agenda is too ambitious to ever get done.  On this, Sam Frizzell calls Hillary's criticisms "so many strands of wet spaghetti, as she looks for something that sticks to quell his populist revolt." 

The other issue refers to the early March CNN debate, when Hillary interrupted Bernie, who then admonished her for doing so. This set off a Twitter-tempest-in-a-teapot, because, in the context of the Republican debates, a mere interruption might be a sign of respectful behavior.  However, in the Democratic debates (where I have marveled at how often Bernie patiently waited for Hillary to finish her statements), his (unexpected, but justifiable) impatience with her interruption quickly took on sexist implications.

I guess this is what happens when the candidates of one party set the bar so high with their adult behavior that the media becomes desperate to create conflict.





Assembling for Bernie: Not Me, Us, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Bernie's manner is not to assert himself over others, and I think the clearest example of this was in early August of 2015 in Seattle, when Sanders stepped back to allow two Black Lives Matter activists to take over his position at the lectern. This was a graceful act of respect for others. Those activists were the "us." Bernie, as the "me," made room for them.

Bernie's respect for the "US" is one of his great strengths, even if Donald Trump has no ability to understand why this might be. It has enabled many women to view Bernie as a "better feminist" than Hillary, because, in the words of well-known activist Dudley Dudley, "It's not about gender...it's about empathy."




Assembling for Bernie:Athena, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Sanders T-Shirt, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Another reporter interviewed this young man, Oscar Salazar, whom he quoted as saying that Sanders has "been on the right side of history, his whole life."  Salazar also observed that “A lot of people think it’s just white people supporting him, but every person I know, Hispanic, white, Black, are representing Bernie all the way."





Assembling for Bernie: Rebecca & Jessica, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

I guess I would call the combined statement of Rebecca and Jessica, seen above, The Inner Woman for Bernie

Bernie Sanders has come out strongly in support of "reproductive justice."   He has a lifetime pro-choice record.  And some have called his candidacy "the best on women's issues."




Assembling for Bernie: Man in Ascot Hat, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Service Dog for Sanders, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: I Only look Illegal, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Bernie Sanders believes in providing immigrants a path to citizenship, he believes in the Dream Act, and he has fought to end the exploitation of undocumented workers.




Assembling for Bernie: Stars & Stripes, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Here we see the stars and stripes turned into a pair of overalls and a supporter on the left, wrapped in the Brazilian flag.




Assembling for Bernie: Never..., St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

This woman's tattoo shows birds flanking the words, "Never Is a Promise." The birds were meant as a reference to Bernie (see directly below).  The words, however, are quite likely taken from Fiona Apple's song of the same title, which ends: 


But never is a promise
And I'll never need a lie

 

Assembling for Bernie: Pancho, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Were this campaign taking place in Ancient Rome, Bernie would already be President, because birds are such an important part of augury and the practice of taking the auspices

The bird made its appearance on March 25, 2016 in Portland, Oregon, when it landed right next to Bernie Sanders, eventually hopping onto the front edge of his lectern. You may watch this here on YouTube [1:48].  

Most candidates, facing such a positive omen, might well have linked it to his/her own campaign.  Bernie--typically--directs his audience beyond himself (to the "US" if you will):  “I know it doesn’t look like it, but that bird is really a dove asking us for world peace,” Sanders said. “No more wars.”




Assembling for Bernie: Photographer, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: The Press, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Entrance, Lisa, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Entrance, Eli & Roberto, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Lisa, Eli and Roberto were some of the campaign volunteers who welcomed and helped to usher in the people.




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering I, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering II, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering III, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering IV, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering V, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering VI, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering VII, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering VIII, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

As I noted, way back in the "cattle chutes" section, everyone seemed so happy.  Obviously, this mood lasted; the many hours of waiting has hardly dampened anyones lightness, as shown by these photographs as they finally enter the place of assembly. 





Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering IX, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering X, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering XI, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Young Volunteer, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering XII, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering XIII, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering XIV, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering XV, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering XVI, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering XVII, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: A Democratic Socialist, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY


Even if Sanders calls himself a democratic socialist, those in the know would argue otherwise. In fact, Noam Chomsky says Bernie is hardly a socialist. He is simply "a decent, honest New Dealer."

I imagine Sanders would agree with Chomsky, given that a Rolling Stone article in November, 2015 quoted Bernie as saying that democratic socialism "means what Franklin Delano Roosevelt said when he fought for guaranteed economic rights for all Americans."




Assembling for Bernie: #Smart Journalism, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

#SmartJournalism is a Twitter hashtag and the statement, "The Revolution Will not Be Televised" is a spoken-word poem from 1970 by Gil Scott-Heron. It had also been a popular slogan during the Black Power movement of the 1960s.

Decades later, Scott-Heron indicated that the Revolution would not be televised because it first needed to develop in people's minds, by which time it already was having its desired effect (be there or be square). 

However, in the context of the present presidential campaign, it also refers to a sometimes perceived intentional lack of TV coverage of Bernie Sanders in comparison to the other candidates, especially Donald Trump. Jason Easley writes:  "In terms of stand-alone campaign stories this year, it’s been 234 minutes for Trump, compared to 10 minutes for Sanders. And at ABC World News Tonight, it’s been 81 minutes for Trump and less than one minute for Sanders."




Assembling for Bernie: Vote Them Out, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

There are a handful of responsible Republicans in Congress and a  few more responsible Democrats. Nevertheless, the number of endorsements among Democrats in the House of Representatives for Bernie is 7, for Hillary is 164.  So, one can understand that, as unpopular as Congress is to the entire country, it is hardly any more popular among supporters of Bernie Sanders. As this man's sign reads, Congress is not on Bernie's side.

Yet, should we really vote the members of Congress out of office, as the sign asks?  It would seem that the Republicans truly deserve this fate, for Thom Hartmann argues that the Republicans have been operating on a "Chaos Strategy" of ruining our country and watching the Democrats under Obama take the blame for the past seven years. Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal would seem to concur (although not with voting Republicans out of office).

One who does concur with the bottom statement on this sign is Barney Frank, certainly one of our most thoughtful and responsible ex-Congressmen.   In October of 2014, Barney called for Americans to vote right-wing Republicans out of office.




Assembling for Bernie: Mexican Flag, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Mexican & American Flags, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

There is a reason for the several Mexican flags that people brought to this event. Bernie Sanders is sympathetic with Mexico; he visited the border last month (near Nogales); and he has stated quite clearly: "We don’t need a wall and we don't need barbwire."




Assembling for Bernie: All the Above I, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: All the Above II, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

This woman's sign covers several important issues: Healthcare; Climate Change; and an economic plan that will work in favor of the 99%.




Assembling for Bernie: Louisiana for Bernie, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Two Muslim Women, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Muslim Woman, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Muslims for Bernie, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Several Muslim women attended the Bernie Sanders rally. An article in Al Jazeera from February of 2016 argues that Muslims should vote for Sanders because his "social welfare programming and tax schemes would instantly advance the interests of nearly half of the Muslim American population."





Assembling for Bernie: Black Lives Matter, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Even though the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) as a whole has withheld its endorsement from any one candidate for President, an important BLM activist and journalist, Shaun King, has endorsed Bernie as the one candidate who now has placed BLM members on his staff and considers its position when shaping his policies.





Assembling for Bernie: Bernie Puppet I, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Bernie Puppet II, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Robin Hood Bernie, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Last year, Bernie Sanders introduced two bills in the Senate: the College for All Act and the Robin Hood Tax Bill.  They work together.  

The latter would levy a small tax (0.5% on stock transactions) as a way to fund the former, which would guarantee free tuition at every public college and university in the United States. This is hardly radical, since over forty countries already have in place such a policy.



Assembling for Bernie: Bronx Feels the Bern, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: The Growing Crowd, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Unidos con Bernie, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: On the Outcrop I, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: On the Outcrop II, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: On the Outcrop III, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Listening to Rosario Dawson, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

The speaking opened with actress and singer, Rosario Dawson. She was engaging, eloquent, and whipped up the crowd when she said “I’m excited about the fact that I don’t have to vote against someone, I get to vote for someone.”

Rosario was followed by the Puerto Rican rapper and producer, Residente, and then by Spike Lee. Finding no clear shot to the podium and lectern, I decided to make someone else's cel-phone picture my stand-in. These earlier speeches can be found on this link (Rosario's begins at 4:44).




Assembling for Bernie: Bronx Is Berning, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Listening to Bernie I, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Listening to Bernie II, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Listening to Bernie III, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Finally, Bernie took the stage. He covered all the major issues that we face as a country. Rather than enumerate them here, allow me to refer you to two links.

The first is a Washington Post article by John Wagner from this February. With this, Wagner provides a great source for most of Sanders' positions. Wagner's title clarifies says it all:  "'Single-Issue' candidate Bernie Sanders touches on 20 issues during a Michigan campaign stop."

The second link is another video of the speeches in the St. Mary's Park rally, this version provided by the Daily Kos. Bernie's speech begins at ca. 20:20. 




Assembling for Bernie: Bernie's People I, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Bernie's People II, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY


Finally, my parting shots. These are Bernie's People. Still standing, still listening, still attentive, they stayed right to the very end.