**Shortly after posting this, President Barack Obama declared The Stonewall Inn the US’ first national monument dedicated to gay rights.
This week’s Pride activities in New York, and in other parts of the world in the wake of the Orlando gay club shooting, have been even more poignant. In honour of the people and places that have helped knock down barriers and defy preconceptions, I decided to head to places that have significance in the LGBT history of the city for this week’s episode of The Rundown.
I took part in the Nike BeTrue run earlier this week – such a great show of camaraderie in the face of an attack that left this whole country – indeed the world – reeling. I know the running community has been standing strong, just as many others have, with those who were affected by the mass shooting.
Here is the route I ran, and also a mention of the stops.
For more info on The Stonewall Inn, click here, Cherry Lane Theater, here, and for more on the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, go here.
Also, as the police officer in the video so noted, the LGBT Community Centre on 13th and 7th Ave is a vital source of comfort and care for many people – so donate if you can, or just spread the word!
Alison Desir is one of those women with an infectious spirit that’s just great to be around. I first ran with Harlem Run, a group she created two years ago, for a women’s day run. Harlem Run teamed up with Girls Gotta Run, a non-profit working in Ethiopia. There’s a community spirit about HR that’s undeniable and it comes from the top, from Alison herself.
She has an MA in Counselling Psychology, is a running coach, and also a writer. She’s been exploring the connection between mental health and running – something I find fascinating too. But she’s dedicated actual time and study to finding out more about the link between the two.
I enjoy running in Harlem, but it’s usually by myself. Running at night with both Harlem Run and further up, We Run Uptown, is exhilarating. I enjoy seeing the sights – the history, the people who aren’t afraid to call out at you, the architecture. Running with Alison, just us two, created its own little adventure, as she showed me her Harlem, and talked about its significance in her life.
Along the way, we also blew kisses at Neil Patrick Harris [technically at his apartment, which he may or may not have been in], stopped for a bathroom break, and climbed stairs in Marcus Garvey Park.
Due to an alert of “severe thunderstorms,” Governor’s Ball Day 3 – the day that acts like Gary Clark Jr, Vic Mensa, Eagles of Death Metal, Chvrches, and headliner Kanye West, on his first US The Life of Pablo show, were meant to play – was cancelled. For whatever reason the weather service got it wrong, and NYC only saw a few light showers and a gorgeous double rainbow on Sunday evening.
We saw this rainbow heading into Warsaw in Brooklyn just before 8pm, having snagged tickets to the show Prophets of Rage put on in place of their “special guest” slot on the Gov Ball line-up. They’d been announced the day before as the act that would fill the half-hour slot on the schedule. Not content with the cancellation, POA – the supergroup that debuted in LA this past week – posted on Twitter that they’d play the Brooklyn venue at a special price for wristband-wearers, with proceeds going to charity, Why Hunger.
The show was 3 times the length it would have been at Governor’s Ball. Or governors’ balls, as Chuck D put it, giving the middle finger to “the fucking prison industry.” We, and Chris Rock, who was also in the audience (albeit in the balcony, “VIP” section), are all the better for it. To witness the force of Public Enemy, Cypress Hill and Rage Against the Machine come together is power. That it was for more than just half an hour makes me want to thank the weather service for being so bad at predicting forecasts.
Credentials undisputed, on their own each of these groups is mighty, especially Public Enemy and the political and social consciousness they brought through hip-hop to the world. But putting Chuck D and DJ Lord together on a stage with Cypress Hill’s B.Real and RATM, minus Zack de La Rocha (who is said to be working on his own long-awaited solo album), is like capturing the spirit of a time gone by that’s still necessary and needed now.
There was no mud. No rain. No Kanye at this show. Only fire and sweat. And energy. Unabashed energy. The kind that’s needed at a point in history where Donald Trump has basically all but secured the Republican presidential nomination vote. But it’s not just Trump POR is raging against – even though they dedicated Know Your Enemy to him – they don’t believe any of the wannabe presidents represent the views of the public.
POR is anti-establishment, yes, but anti-apathy too. Their manifesto is in the sweat that flew from Tom’s Make America Rage Again cap every time he swung his head. It’s the reason Chuck D’s pants were rolled up to his knees, as he swirled his mic around, like he was mixing their collective ethos together into something swell. Recalling tracks like Bring the Noise, Take the Power Back and I Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That, they advocate for taking a stand, damn it.It’s a do-care attitude that not just America could benefit from right now – more than likely it’s global warming that probably caused the messed-up weather forecast in the first place.
Those big bass-lines of Bulls on Parade and Rap/Rock Superstar teenage Nadia and so many others grew up listening to have a place in the world right now. Certainly the lyrics these groups penned are always worth hearing again. Mash them up together, and they’re all the more potent.
The [American] dream is far roaming in the streets of greed.
Now I got no patience. So sick of complacence.
Fight the power.
Shout-out to the Bob Dylan vinyl-toting 18-year-olds I met in line for the show.
I’ve had the good fortune of a being able to travel to London often enough to spend a few miles in the company of Run Dem Crew, a large group of fantastic people who make running through the streets of the city an adventure every time. The positive energy and heartfelt vibes of community come from the top, from the crew’s founder, Charlie Dark, aka Daddy Dark. He’s a very busy man – a poet, a teacher, a DJ, a writer – and so I was very happy to pin him down for a quick run through his hood in East London.
After the recent London Marathon, I sat in on the crew’s Tuesday night pre-run session, which they call Housekeeping. It’s when Charlie presents the medals that have been earned to the runners – most will write a note about the experience and he will congratulate them in front of their running family. A huge number of RDCers ran London so the whole night was taken over by talk of the marathon. I found myself tearing up over the stories I heard – people I didn’t know overcoming their own insecurities to take on the 26.2 miles of London town. What moved me most though, was the emotion from Charlie, a man who, after many years in the music business (some of them as part of the trip hop group Attica Blues), has “been there, done that,” and still has passion and pride to share with those around him.
I haven’t yet run London, but I did run the Hackney Half, while I was there, and got to experience the support and love of RDC first-hand. It’s not a stretch to say RDC made me appreciate London, and those who live there, in a new way. I’ve found that London can be cold – not just in weather – but they made me feel at home. Charlie, together with the likes of BridgeRunners here in NYC, has created an international network of crews that come together to support each other via various “bridge the gap” events. He’s also given us the idea of “cheer dem,” and his phrase to “do da ting” when it comes to running a race has permeated many Instagram feeds way beyond London.
I ran with him through Stratford, taking in some of the Hackney Half course to find out more about how running has left its mark on his life…
For more on Charlie, follow him here, and for more on Run Dem Crew, head over here.
It’s always a big comedown to go back to a life not spent watching 2-3 movies a day, running from one interview to the next. And so it is with Life After Cannes. But there is the knowledge that many of the films seen will start to make their way out into the world and take their place within cinemas around the world.
Here are my favourite films from this year’s festival, which I hope to be watching again very soon…