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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Chafin Dance" Updated: BlueGrass

Make your travel plans now to see "Dance DownTown" on May 7-9 in Columbus, Ohio. See a rehearsal preview of "Blue Grass"

This piece, created by Susan Hadley, is set to blue grass music played by virtuoso fiddler Mark O’Connor. Susan Hadley notes that to set this piece she needed "dancers who were athletes."

Chafin is in various parts of the rehearsals. FYI, he is wearing a grey OSU sweatshirt, a black & grey striped sweat, and a green tshirt & navy sweats!


St. Augustine's - "Emancipated From the Shadows"

St. Augustine's has been "our" church for many years. The church life includes Sunday school, confirmation and of course, raising money. Sunday services are unique combining traditional Episcopal traditions and liturgical music with the gospel choir and praise dancers. Meals at St. Augustine's are affairs that require fasting before and after. St. Augustine's has a very unusual place in the history of New York City.

Following is a description of St. Augustine's today (written by Marie) which provides a backdrop to the New York Times article from Sunday, April 19, reprinted below, with links to a slide show.
--By: Marie
St. Augustine’s is located in the ethnically diverse lower east side of Manhattan. Today, we are the largest African American congregation of any denomination on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. This year marks the 180th year of Episcopal Ministry in this now historic landmark building.

Our contributions to the community and to the Diocese of New York are many. St. Augustine’s has consistently opened our arms wide enough to celebrate our cultural and racial history, including our gospel choir and the St. Augustine’s praise dancers. We have sung mass and our acolytes are trained to support the traditions of the Episcopal Church.

Who are we? We are an African-American congregation. We worship in the shadow of a slave gallery, existing since the current building was constructed in 1828, a year after the State of New York outlawed slavery on July 4, 1828. We have an historic commitment to restore the slave galleries in order to preserve them, but also to make them accessible to visitors. We are listed in the International Sites of Conscience and this work is carried out through the St. Augustine’s Project

We are diverse: approximately 20% Hispanic and some two percent of our members are white. Our members are teachers, government workers, librarians and sanitation workers in the City of New York. A few of us are writers, or lawyers, or work in the criminal justice system. Many of us are retired and we are members that come from three and four generation families who have lived and grown up in the lower east side community. Today the youngest members of our families must often travel distances from Queens, New Jersey and the far neighborhoods of Brooklyn to St. Augustine’s because they can no longer afford housing in the neighborhood.

Our deeds speak to the character of our Christian ministry:
• We had one of the first ministries to persons living with HIV and AIDS, opening our doors for a needle exchange when it was illegal. We supported our Rector, Rev. Dr. Errol Harvey, who was prepared to go the jail to maintain the service.
• The second collection in every Sunday service is given to feed the homeless and the hungry.
• We have served as a beacon for union organizing, support for our extended family who are incarcerated; we have been home for displaced African communities living in New York City.
• We host youth groups from Colorado and Maryland; we host international visitors who are participating in programs with the Volunteers for Peace.
• Every high school graduate who goes on to college receives a $1,000 scholarship. From time to time, the men of St. Augustine’s send our college students a “stipend” – sometimes $50.00 or $20.00 – whatever can be afforded.
• Our Seniors organize a Christmas celebration for the mothers and children who live at Helen’s House, a shelter for victims of abuse and domestic violence.

And from the New York Times, April 19, 2009. . .

"FROM two tiny rooms high up and far back in St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, with its neo-Georgian archways, straight-backed pews and simple, graceful detail, the legacy of slavery in Manhattan looks down.

The stone church, on Henry Street near Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side, was built for a patrician white congregation. But although it was completed in 1828, a year after slavery was legally abolished in New York State, behind the balcony and on either side of the organ are two cramped rooms, built so that black churchgoers could worship there without being seen by white parishioners.

“These spaces were never talked about,” said the deacon, the Rev. Edgar Hopper, an agile, bald gentleman of 79. “People knew there were instances of them being referred to as slave galleries.”

For decades, these galleries languished in a state of disrepair and were hardly discussed. Children often scrambled up the narrow staircases to play on the bleacherlike seats.

But after a decade-long restoration project led by Mr. Hopper, work on one gallery was completed late last month, and the space will open for tours at the end of this month.

The project began when the Rev. Errol Harvey, Mr. Hopper’s supervisor, noticed that census data showed a diminishing

African-American population in the gentrifying Lower East Side. Mr. Harvey suggested looking into the silent heritage of St. Augustine’s, which today serves a primarily black congregation, and the task fell to Mr. Hopper.

Not everyone applauded his efforts.

“Many were uncomfortable with the restoration,” he said. “Slavery is still a sensitive subject, and not just the guilt associated with owning slaves. There is also a lot of denial associated with being descended from slaves.”

To research the subject, Mr. Hopper searched vaults at the diocese, reading archives and vestry minutes from the early 1800s in search of the names of those who may have worshiped in those rooms. Their numbers included Henry and Phoebe Nichols, a couple baptized there in 1829.

With help from the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, a quarter of a million dollars was raised for the project.

The other day, Mr. Hopper led a visitor up a steep, twisting staircase to the space. It is painted beige and lighted with a single bulb. Six crude steps face an opening high above the sanctuary. Because of the angle, worshipers here could not be seen by those below.

Still visible on one wall are faint pencil scrawls made by children. Until the 1930s, the gallery was used as a Sunday school for African-Americans.

Mr. Hopper sat down on a step. “In the summer,” he said, “it’s stifling here."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


(Posted by Marie)

The Seymours of sey-nah are truespace aficionados. The first full-length movie Gene introduced to Chafin was "The Right Stuff." From age two, Gene would fast forward through the borning parts of the two reels. When Chafin was about 4, he and Gene could spent an entire afternoon watching the movie - over and over again. They still do.

On a trip to Washington, D.C. I spent a whole day with Chafin looking for Gus Grissom's grave.

Don't miss this amazing piece of graphic info. Many thanks to my brother, Bob, for linking this up.

Assembling the Space Station


Goldman-Sachs: The Profit Should Have Been Higher

(Today, I gave my friend the following letter to include in the Goldman-Sachs' mail delivery. Posted by Marie)

Edward Liddy, Chief Executive, AIG - % Goldman-Sachs
David Finiar, Chief Financial Officer, Goldman-Sachs
Wall Street
New York, NY

Dear Mr. Liddy & Mr. Finiar:

I am writing to invite you to receive the 2009 "Best Capitalist Business Practices” Award. While only the first quarter of 2009 has been reported, a panel of experts has determined that no other capitalist could possibly out distance the achievements of Goldman-Sachs in what's left of 2009.

This is a unique award. You were selected by a panel of experts from the Prospect Heights Entrepreneurs Without Portfolio (PHEWP).

I am pleased to highlight the Goldman-Sachs "best practices" achievements since receiving $10 billion from the US. Treasury in October 2008 and $12.9 billion from the AIG bailout.

Goldman-Sachs Best Capitalist Business Practices
1. Oil the VERY BIG Revolving Door: Have many alumnae with real power in high places. This is a traditional practice of a good capitalist. However, Goldman-Sachs has taken this to a very refined level. Going through the revolving door are:

Henry Paulson, a former GS chief executive, while Secretary of the Treasury, is credited with the singular achievement of “forcing” GS to take $10 billion dollars for toxic asset relief, while getting rid of all the possible competition – (Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers – gone and Merrill-Lynch force-fed to Bank of America at a hefty price).

Robert Rubin, pioneered the VERY BIG Revolving Door practice in 1993 when he left the G-S Chairman’s door to become National Economic Council director and then Secretary of the Treasury for the Clinton Administration.

Obama Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (a protégé of Robert Rubin)has given “Steve Shafran, a former favorite of Paulson's, and Bill Dudley, Goldman's former chief economist and now the successor to Geithner as head of the New York Fed the task of resurrecting the market for securitized assets” Goldman Sachs has more than 30 ex-government officials registered to lobby on its behalf

2. Oil the VERY BIG Revolving Door Often with all partners who might “owe you money". This was very successful with Edward Liddy, appointed by Henry Paulson as the current AIG Chief Executive and who was a former GS Board member, has achieved a significant best practice. All those bad business practices investments got paid off by those pesky credit-default swaps from the $170 billion AIG Federal rescue package – authorized by – (back to the top) Henry Paulson. Goldman received just under 10% of the $170 AIG bailout to day.

Now, that is a class act!

3. Change Your Underwear Often. This best practice should be used regularly. The most recent success was how Goldman-Sachs successfully changed itself into a bank holding company last year (with the blessings of the Feds, hmmm, Goldman-alumnae of course). Why is this important…? See No.4.

4. Change The Calendar. When Goldman changed underwear to become a bank holding company, it required changing the accounting fiscal year to end on December 31 (2008) instead of November 30, 2008. Who would have guessed but this changes the quarterly reporting and the result is that December doesn’t count in the First Quarter profit reports. Goldman lost approximately $2.6 billion in December, 2008.

This is brilliant.

5. Share The Wealth but OUTSOURCE to Insure Not Sharing the Wealth Too Far. According the the Wall Street Journal, over 900 Goldman employees received bonuses of $1 million for their stellar accomplishments in 2008. In contrast, Goldman-Sachs mail is delivered by persons who make $15.00 an hour ($10.00 an hour to start), with no bonuses. All made possible by outsourcing.

The Best Capitalist Business Practices Award ceremony will be presented on May 1, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. (in order to make the evening news on NY1). The ceremony will be on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza.

While you are here, the Prospect Heights Entrepreneurs Without Portfolio (PHEWP) will present a special investment proposal to Goldman-Sachs that will increase your profits next quarter (it is guaranteed by the U.S. Treasury).

The PHEWP is seeking your investment in the
Fund to Save the Luxury Greenbrier from becoming A Toxic Asset. Our research shows that luxury hotels are being forced into bankruptcy which certainly makes them toxic. While there are several properties that will soon be bankrupt, our first choice is The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. We are proposing to make this location a luxury retirement home for us, oops, I mean the shareholders of the PHEWP. If we purchase this toxic asset now, we can train the staff so that they won't hurt us when we become really old. This is a win-win proposal because we know how much the bank and finance industry executives have enjoyed their conference held every fall with representatives from the U.S. Congress and Federal Agencies.

We look forward to your visit on May 1, 2009. There will be a brief dance of the Maypole prior to the award presentation. Please rsvp as soon as possible to We want to arrange for the appropriate media coverage.