Saturday, June 28, 2008

More Woods Less Community Board 5

With space at a premium it would seem that Community Board 5 idea of turning the Univesity Woods into Condominums would (wood-a subliminal suggestion intimating what side I am on in this debate!) not suit either the tenants nor the community itself. There just is not enough good space for that, it will only end up being cramped high rise quarters. There is also a misguided sense in these ideas slightly veiled behind people's minds that if they start building condominims in the Bronx so close to Manhattan the Bronx would 'move up' in social stature, that the Bronx could be the 'new' Manhattan.

What the Board fails to realize is that there is no sense in imitating Manhattan, just ask Madonna who fled Manhattan for London, was reported to have said... Manhattan has lost most of it's creative 'sizzle'. Many people on this side of the river agree and believe that it is imperative for the Bronx to chart it's own way through time and maintain it's own distinct culture and mind set.

Recently the hospitals have decided to do away with the written consent usually needed by patients entering the emergency rooms of Bronx hospital in order to get a sample of body fluid to conduct an H.I.V test. This was said to be in response to the 'alarming' rate of of H.I.V releated deaths occuring in the Bronx.

However the fact that there seems to be threshold on the acceptable death toll for H.I.V releated deaths that was surpassed by the residents of the Bronx seems to be an unfitting means of the Bronx distinguishing itself. Whenever we think of the Bronx or rather people who do not live in the Bronx think of the Bronx they associate the bourough with, crime, drugs and death and now we have one more plight to be associated with, all the while I am sure people where dying of AIDS in other parts of the city, say, Manhattan for example. Yet it was not when some arbitrary threshold has been passed that action had to be taken.

Meanwhile in the Manhattan they were celebrating sex via the hit televison series Sex In The City, with movie premires where every adoring fan scampered about snatching up the latest Manolo boots (did I spell that right, oh dear...) and sipping wine in sidewalk cafe's discussing their latest affair and the size of their partners genitals, presumably. What they were not doing and what the series as popular as it was failed to do was to remind millions of people that there was an international pandemic taking place which was fatal. Instead we got to take a look inside of the fictious lives of the characters on that show and watch them lead fun and interesting sex filled lives, H.I.V. not included. Certainly, many people must have had the sense from watching that AIDS was a thing of the past or that there was a party out there worth having and not to trouble oneself with the off hand chance of catching this disease. However, that was far from the case but when it came time to remind NYC and the world that SEX sometime equals DEATH, well, once again the Bronx, was available to be dumped on. Meanwhile, the television series 'Desperate Housewives' took off with great acclaim and two more television series are making thier way to the small screen, which will not harm Manhattan in any way, 'Diaries Of A Call Girl' and 'Wife Swapping'.

It is not that testing should not be done, but that Manhattan should lead the way in this and take the brunt of this unpopular wake up call by having this practice begin in their hospitals but then again their is a little matter of civil liberties and privacy, a factor that may give this intiative the ability to 'creep' from a health issue to a legal issue which would never have passed in Manhattan. Having this test take place in the emergency room will keep only the poor from accessing it in the same numbers as before which was something they practiced frequently because it was their best means of getting to see a primary care provider in a reasonable time.

What does this have to do with University Woods? University Woods is one of those places whom non-community members tend to only see the bad side. A dumping ground for dead chickens from Santeria rituals and a somewhat exagerted claim of drug use in that area. Well, I would have those reporters know that Santeria and the Santeros who practice it share in a grand tradition which they are all very blessed to be involved. A tradition steming all the back to Afirca and now practiced by people of all cultural backgrounds and histories. Santeria is even practiced in the Catholic church with which Catholic saints are synchronized with African nature deities, cermonies have even been held in St. Patrick's Cathedral. In fact many of the stories that report of the low quality of life in Bronx are written in ignorance of the realities. The Bronx is famous for the burnt out buildings we used to see in the South Bronx but did any one care to mention most of them were acts of arson perpetrated by the greedy landlords eager to get rid of the tenants and abandon the property while collecting the insurance?

What does that have to do with University Woods? University Woods is a historic site where once Bristish Fort #8 existed preceeding the American War of Independance, it is a lush forested area that takes members of our community out of the busy streets of the harried commericial demands we, as mostly everyone finds themselves prostrated to these days. It connects Cedar Avenue residents to Sedgwick avenue to give them a better view of the majestic Harlem River and a direct route to the generous hospitiality of the Bronx Community College, who allows residents to utilze their athletic field free of charge. Many the neighborhood faithfully take their morning run on campus and a few like myself cut through the woods to get there. Mostly eveyone who actually lives here loves that park for even the brief duration in which it allows you to escape in to commune in solitude with nature. Many of man's most famous teachers from Jesus to Plato used grooves and forested areas for retreat and reflection and Lord knows we need momentary reflection now more than ever. University Woods is what's good about the Bronx especially because it serves no commerial immediacy. It is a spot far away from utilitarianism and the rule of economic primacy which today is the norm. We should not have to (as with a condominium for example) plunge a quarter into a meter for every square inch of space under our feet. University Woods is representative of the increasing strain between the living simply being that without need of any pecuniary justification for their existence and the pay check to pay check fiduciary couriers we are becoming who simply bring the wealth to the wealthiest in the form of our debt.