Friday, November 05, 2010

Street Art Way Below the Street" By Jasper Rees (NYT)

I love how my vows of a writing return are promptly followed by an online disappearance.

Of course it's a super cool graffiti project that brings me back. You can read the New York Times article about the Underbelly Project which I've highlighted below, but it's probably more notable for pics of the space. Wish they had more pictures. You can also check the website online:

Got more/better pics? Send 'em my way.


Known to its creators and participating artists as the Underbelly Project, the space, where all the show’s artworks remain, defies every norm of the gallery scene.


That’s because the exhibition has been mounted, illegally, in a long-abandoned subway station.

The difficult process of getting to the Underbelly space — which involves waiting at an active station’s platform until it’s empty, slipping from it into the damp and very dirty no man’s land beyond, and traversing that to get to the old station’s entrance — suggested to PAC and Workhorse how challenging the project would be. And the legal risks were obvious. Charles F. Seaton, a spokesman for New York City Transit, described such incursions as “trespassing, punishable by law,” and said “anyone caught defacing M.T.A. property is subject to arrest and fine.” Beyond that, Workhorse and PAC worried that given anxiety about terrorism in the subway, a large-scale, long-term project like theirs might even lead to more serious charges.

In early 2009 Workhorse and PAC began putting out feelers among street artists, seeking a mix of the established and the up and coming. (For security reasons they avoided “anyone more than a step away from someone we knew well,” Workhorse said.)

The scariest moment came around 1:30 one morning, just after Workhorse had left the site with a Moscow-based Australian artist known as Strafe (who spoke on condition that her real name not be used). They heard workers nearby and sprinted back in the dark, but once back on their platform, Strafe said, “I swung round and stepped into thin air, and literally fell onto my back on the track bed.” Too stunned to move, she looked at Workhorse, who had jumped down to join her with a flashlight. She said she saw a look of horror that said, “ ‘What are we going to do if she’s seriously injured?’ ” Eventually she was able to sit up, but they still had to wait until after 5 a.m. to leave.

After this reporter’s tour, the curators destroyed the equipment they had been using to get in and out of the site. “We’re not under the illusion that no one will ever see it,” Workhorse said. “But what we are trying to do is to discourage it as much as possible.” He stressed that any self-styled explorer who found the site and attempted to enter it would be taking a real risk.

“If you go in there and break your neck, nobody’s going to hear you scream,” he said — at least assuming there are no track workers around. “You’re just going to have to hope that someone is going to find you before you die.”

Monday, August 09, 2010

Years go by...

Another year gone, standing at the doorstep of another Ramadan...

I was sifting through my previous Ramadan posts and stumbled upon one from 2007, when I was requesting duas for a close family friend whose breast cancer had returned after years of remission. She passed away earlier this year; inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajioon [We belong to God and to Him we shall return]. May Allah swt forgive her sins, multiply her good deeds, fill her grave with noor and allow her easy entrance into the highest levels of Jannah without reckoning, ameen.

Another year, another Ramadan. Two days in and I'm still hesitant on my resolutions. Being unemployed, I feel like I have immense time to make the best use of this month...yet somehow these gaping empty hours are somehow more daunting than any tight schedule of Ramadans past. What books should I read? What lectures should I listen to? What should I do? How can I ensure that all my actions actually have an effect on my spirituality, my soul and my relationship with God? Focus on worship; remember to feel.

I love how Islam is so tuned in with our human nature. Will write about this later. Maybe. InshaAllah.

The goals for this month:
- Finish Zaid Shakir's "Scattered Pictures"; put a dent in Hamza Yusuf's "Purification of the Heart" and read along "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" for the book club
- set up volunteer hours at the food bank -- every Saturday with the group, twice a week for myself.
- Reading 5 paras (inshaAllah, inshaAllah) of the Quran on my own. I know this is doable, albeit difficult. It shouldn't be difficult. I know it's important. Must remember to read with my heart and not (just) with my head.
- Taraweeh, at least 5 nights/week.

It's the month of dua (supplication). Keep it up.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Are you there, world? It's me, fny.

I love that the frequency of my blog posts ebb and flow with my workload. Sad, that many friendships follow the same pattern.

Maybe I should use this space more often. Buzz and G-reader have become my dominant article sharing platform(s); perhaps this could be more personal?

Or not. We'll see.

I'd like to take a writing class. Especially now that my ego may be better able to handle it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

LIza Garza - My Everything

Summer of Def Poetry Jam, revisited. Will always admire those who can put themselves out there so openly...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Arundhati Roy - Come Septemeber Speech

In this acclaimed Lannan foundation lecture from September 2002, Roy speaks poetically to power on the US' War on Terror, globalization, the misuses of nationalism, and the growing chasm between the rich and poor. With lyricism and passion, Roy combines her literary talents and encyclopedic knowledge to expose injustice and provide hope for a future world.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Two Lives By Jhumpa Lahiri (Newsweek)

I love Jhumpa Lahiri's writing. Seriously beautiful, every time. Great piece.

While I am American by virtue of the fact that I was raised in this country, I am Indian thanks to the efforts of two individuals. I feel Indian not because of the time I've spent in India or because of my genetic composition but rather because of my parents' steadfast presence in my life. They live three hours from my home; I speak to them daily and see them about once a month. Everything will change once they die. They will take certain things with them--conversations in another tongue, and perceptions about the difficulties of being foreign. Without them, the back-and-forth life my family leads, both literally and figuratively, will at last approach stillness. An anchor will drop, and a line of connection will be severed.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nouman Ali Khan - The Healthy Marriage

Br. Nouman Ali Khan talks about The Healthy Marriage . This is the 19th of 30 lectures presented by Br. Nouman after Taraweeh every night during Ramadan 2007.

or watch here

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nouman Ali Khan - Contradicting Community - Nouman Ali Khan gives a talk at Ilm Summit 2009 addressing the issue of how communities need to face the reality of the world we live in and how we need to also appropriately respond them.

Highly, highly recommended, especially for people who strive to change their communities for the better. Watch below or click here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Giving Ramadan a Drumroll in Brooklyn at 4 A.M. by Kirk Semple (NYT)

A few hours before dawn, when most New Yorkers are fast asleep, a middle-aged man rolls out of bed in Brooklyn, dons a billowy red outfit and matching turban, climbs into his Lincoln Town Car, drives 15 minutes, pulls out a big drum and — there on the sidewalk of a residential neighborhood — starts to play.

The man, Mohammad Boota, is a Ramadan drummer. Every morning during the holy month, which ends on Sept. 21, drummers stroll the streets of Muslim communities around the world, waking worshipers so they can eat a meal before the day’s fasting begins.

Cute, though I'm sure extremely annoying to, you know, the other 99% of the US that doesn't participate in Ramadan.

I still remember the drummers waking everyone up to eat/stop eating in Pakistan.

Uncle's got quite a few amusing quotes, though;

“Everywhere they complain,” he said. “People go, like, ‘What the hell? What you doing, man?’ They never know it’s Ramadan.”

Mr. Boota wants to be a good American, and a good Muslim. “I don’t want to bother other communities’ people,” he said. “Just the Pakistani people.”

read the whole thing here

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Explaining 9/11 to a Muslim Child By Moina Noor (NYT)

Poignant. It seems so strange to thing that an event that changed so much and affected so many is unknown to someone. I can't even imagine beginning to explain the emotions and complexities.

Explaining 9/11 to a Muslim Child By Moina Noor

Recently on the morning drive to school my 8-year-old son asked me a question I’ve been dreading since he was a baby, “Mom, what happened on 9/11?”

Mass murder is impossible to explain to yourself, let alone a child. But how do I, as a parent, explain the slaughter of innocent people in the name of a religion that I am trying to pass on to my boy?

Bilal was just 8 months old when September 11 happened. He was just starting to crawl and put everything in sight into his mouth, and I remember having to peel my gaze away from the television screen and remind myself to keep a watchful eye on where he lay nearby.

After Bilal was born I viewed everything — especially current events — through the lens of parenthood. I knew the world had changed irreparably on 9/11, and while I mourned the innocent and raged against my crazy coreligionists, my nagging anxiety was for my son.

Even in those early surreal hours after the attacks when images of towers falling and long-bearded men in caves flooded the television screen, I knew that Bilal’s childhood would not be like mine.

When I was growing up in suburban Connecticut few people knew much about Muslims, let alone cared. My parents and their friends would gather in community rooms or church basements for our version of Sunday school. They were devout but weren’t necessarily interested in teaching their neighbors about Islam. We were few in number and invisible.

After 9/11, the spotlight was aimed at Muslims everywhere, especially here in America. Like many Muslims, I felt the need to defend my religious identity. I threw myself into all things Muslim, and explained and explained: “We are like you. Islam is peaceful. Complex sociopolitical factors create lunatics who kill people. Please don’t judge a billion people by a few bad apples.”

I hung tightly to my spiritual rope. I could not let go of a faith has given me and my family comfort and solace for generations.

Since 9/11, I’ve worried how Bilal would feel about his identity as a Muslim living in America. A survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life appeared in 2007 stating that 35 percent of respondents had an unfavorable opinion about Islam. Could one of those 3 in 10 people be Bilal’s teacher or soccer coach?

Over the past eight years I’ve read about Muslims being deported and pulled off airplanes and mosques being vandalized. My sister, a former middle school teacher in Brooklyn, heard kids taunt a Muslim student on the playground, calling him a terrorist. And even though I fear the possibility of discrimination for Bilal, what I fear most of all is that the din of Islamophobia will rob my son of self-respect and confidence.

So just as I became an activist, I became a proactive Muslim mommy. When Bilal was a preschooler, I took him to Muslim playgroups, organized activities in Ramadan and bought him board books about the Prophet Muhammed. I pushed him in his stroller at peace walks and brought him to interfaith events. These days, I organize local Islamic school classes and give talks about the Hajj at his elementary school. My husband and I read him books about Islamic contributions to math and science.

Over the years, I’ve tried to protect my son from any negative associations made with Islam. I’ve developed lightening quick reflexes — the second I hear a story about suicide bombers or terrorists on the radio, I switch to a pop music station. I’ve made my husband limit his CNN time to after the kids go to sleep. I don’t want to have to answer the question, “Mom, what is the ‘threat of radical Islamic extremism?’ ”

For me, the thought of talking to Bilal about terrorism is a bit like talking about sex for the first time. It is awkward and difficult I’m just not sure how much a child his age is ready to hear.

This year 9/11 falls during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. I made Bilal watch President Obama’s five minute long “Ramadan Message to Muslims” on the Internet. President Obama spoke with respect, knowledge and a sense optimism to Muslims around the world. He found the speech interesting but nothing out of the ordinary. For Bilal, who is just starting to become conscious of a world bigger than our front yard, there is no “clash of civilizations”.

Bilal is proud to tell others that he was named after “the Prophet’s best friend,” an African Muslim with a beautiful voice who gave the first call to prayer. He is also a Cub Scout who has learned how to fold the American flag.

I did try and answer Bilal’s question. I relayed the day’s events in broad cartoonish strokes: bad guys attack, buildings collapse. Don’t worry, I assured him, we’ll get the bad guys so they won’t do it again. As I looked at Bilal in the rearview mirror, I explained that good and bad exists in every group, even your own. I think he understands.