Kingston After Dark: Good cheer

Alcohol kills many germs so it’s probably safe to do tiki bowls with your friends, even if they have colds.

Trying to summarize 2017 is … not that easy. Unless you are a meme of a dumpster fire, and that dumpster is full of either nuclear or medical waste, chances are you fall a little bit short in capturing the full essence of how intensely warped a year it’s been. I definitely was never prepared for a year of my life where fascism became so openly normalized again, Chester Bennington hung himself and a reality TV host/potentially Putin-installed president would try to take away many basic civil liberties. That’s not even including things like Trump allegedly make gross statements (like about Haitian immigrants all having AIDS) with such shocking frequency that we grew numb to it. (Just like he planned it.)

Marginalized groups know that unease is always a part of the American fabric, but many people shared in a sort of mass abusive relationship this year through current events in ways they likely never expected. I was just reading a tweet by Reparations for Slavery author and historian Ana Lucia Araujo about how on Christmas Day in 1854, Harriet Tubman rescued three of her brothers from slavery. I have also just heard the news about the death of photographer Don Hogan Charles, best known for shooting the iconic photo of Malcolm X at his window holding a rifle. The times we are in now call for similarly bold and brave citizens and leaders to stay focused and empowered, demanding accountability against the winds of unrest or bigotry in modern chaotic times. We still have a lot of connective tissue in America despite the challenges we face as a national and global society.

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In the Hudson Valley, like most people, we were challenged emotionally. Numerologists believe 2017 was a year for new chapters and transformation. It seemed like it, as a shocking amount of bubble-bursting took place. It became impossible to hide from the need to talk about racism, sexism and class warfare. These are always important topics to face in life, but 2017 was a pile of raw and exposed nerves. The shaking up of outlooks, life and world-related upheaval often associated with the swirling if not always gentle creatrix energy of the Goddess Kali did manage to bounce some of the friction of the Trump-inspired disarray back upon itself as people met narratives counter to their comfort zones. Coal is not coming back, for example. As the #MeToo movement proved, you can reap what you sow.

Even locally, we had visible anti-racism protests after Heather Heyer was killed in Charlottesville. While Heyer now has a street named after her, the spirit of resistance that she believed in will live on despite her death from xenophobic forces. The elections this November bode really well for a blue wave next year, but don’t get cocky. It takes a fight to shake up old paradigms and find justice served at times, but no one is giving up despite the exhaustion of the last 13 months.

Surf City

This past weekend Kingston’s greatest instrumental surf-rock band The Sci-Flies ripped through tons of surfified Christmas songs at classy cocktail joint The Stockade Tavern on Fair Street to a packed house. A semi-annual Christmas Eve-eve Tiki party was the most happening event in town. The streets remained relatively warm, all things considered, but people were still pressed to get inside and enjoy one another’s company. There were many people of different backgrounds dancing, laughing and socializing. It felt healing — like our spirits hadn’t been broken and we could still enjoy life through the rollercoaster aches and pains we have all just lived through as a country. It felt good to see people hugging, drinking giant beverages, smiling, kissing or shaking hands. The streets were mostly safe and good cheer was ringing through the night palpably. We are our neighbors.

I’m trying to hold on to hope. I’m thinking about Star Wars-The Last Jedi’s awesome level of inclusiveness, spiritual undercurrents and awareness of the past yet willingness to grow. It is awesome that it was the number-one Hollywood film to end out 2017. We need to head into 2018 with a sense that we can keep going through a celebration of our real values, hard organizing, creative writing and singing or however you are able to find solace and inspiration in your life. I am devoting a big chunk of time to tweeting evidence of Obama saying Merry Christmas many times at idiots who think there is a war on Christmas. As if Jesus, arguably-gay elves and Santa would like Trump. You know what will bring back coal? Santa, when he filled Trump’s stocking this year.

Kingston continues to inspire me with the constant ways the old and new intersect. From Rough Draft’s opening Uptown to the continued mindful expansion of the waterfront to the influx of friendly faces from yesterday coming back around for the holidays — plus some people deciding to move back and stay when they see Kingston’s rebirth — this is a time of excitement and potential.

The economic challenges we face next year will determine a lot of how our city must move forward, but we are strong and know to band together and buckle down on local business growth now. Never forget your own value and potential as a member of this community. One thing I love about Kingston that kept me going in 2017 was the majority love here for intersectional experiences.

Anyway, I don’t want to get super heavy heading into the next year, but let’s keep it real. Let’s set good intentions, listen to some happy tunes (Third Eye Blind is blasting through my apartment right now as I prepare to light some Christmas trees) and remember the reasons we love one another. New Year’s Eve is sure to be crazy and fun so let’s shake off some of the pain and nurture what binds us together. God bless you all.

There are 2 comments

  1. JamaicaonHudson

    Well…Regarding 2017, I’m a bit more pragmatic: In terms of the sheer volume of news, yes, it was significant. However, I didn’t think 2017 was any worse (or better) than any of its predecessors: Death happened, life began, and those of us who made it through saw it all.

    Furthermore, to be perfectly honest, Donald Trump, his booty-chatter (and the idiotic followers of it) factored very little into my personal life. His Ponzi-scheme of an administration is just a paper-selling, scandal machine which has only managed to pass a single piece of significant legislation—ironically, to provide additional funding to whomever is bankrolling the (increasingly stale) act. Frankly, the man has done exactly what I thought he would: Run his mouth (via tweets) and pretend to do stuff.

    In short, I pressed the “ignore” button long ago…

    As for Kingston, it is a place which actually factors into my life; the place I’ve called home (for the majority of my life)—and still makes me happy. Like the writer, it brings me peace and calm in times (that seem) the opposite. So, when I see the change that is taking place, I am conflicted: Yes, I welcome new people and new energy however I am also cognizant of the negative impact that rapid gentrification can have on a community. Economic development should not compromise the ability for families (regardless of socioeconomic status, political affiliation, or hue) to remain housed in their community. The “rebirth” of Kingston is one that should include the residents that have lived here all along as well…

    The fact that Kingston, flaws and all, is such an interesting, beautiful, historic place is not an accident. It’s trajectory depends on being inclusive, and responsive to all facets of the citizenry… Furthermore, its development should not be defined solely by monolithic, path dependent industries (i.e. malls/retail-chains, large-scale manufacturing) and/or gentrification schemes…

    In anycase, having grown up in this little city tucked in between the River and the Mountains, I do see a bright future for Kingston–it’s always been a special place, and always will be. It’s a very REAL place, and I hope that the people who live here (both old and new) appreciate that…

    1. Phillson

      I agree! This writer, like many these days, is way too emotionally invested in the Trump presidency, particularly the worst possible extrapolation of everything he says and does.

      Example:

      Trump goes off on twitter about how Hillary should be investigated, saying the same stupid stuff he’s been saying all 2017 and 2016.

      Perpetually-outraged-observer: NOOOOOOOO!!!! Don’t you see what’s happening? This is what all authoritarians do! This is Germany circa 1934! We’re a banana republic!

      Meanwhile… nothing actually happens, let along something that would affect the perpetually-outraged-observer’s life in anyway.

      <>

      Don’t get me wrong, I agree Trump is a disgrace to the office and we need to elect leaders of higher personal quality, regardless of their platforms. But people need to stop hyperventilating and live their lives, which should include some active citizenship like voting, writing Congressional reps, participating in local party caucuses, but mostly is non-political!!!!!

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