Story Rewind

Yesterday I was trying to just begin telling you the why and how and when and what’s coming with Listen & Be Heard. It seemed appropriate to start at the beginning of the story. But everything I wrote seems to me, today, to make it appear like I was so adventurous, or trying to paint a glamorous picture. Maybe you imagined me touring around Europe with a pass for all the trains. Maybe that was the dream when we left New York to give Europe a try.

Trying to tell my story can be tricky. But, I’m not trying to tell my story. I’m reading you the previous chapters of Listen & Be Heard from my faulty memory, because there is another chapter coming. But in many ways that story is my story. I said I wanted to be really, real with y’all. So here is another angle of the same story.

Dolphy Hazel hosted a few Sunday Afternoon Stories at his Image One Gallery in Soho. This polaroid shot was taken by the great jazz pianist Jacki Bayard. He signed it "Thank you for listening." Soho, NY June 26, 1990.
Dolphy Hazel hosted a few Sunday Afternoon Stories at his Image One Gallery in Soho. The art behind us is his. This polaroid shot was taken by the great jazz pianist Jacki Bayard. He signed it “Thank you for listening.” Soho, NY June 26, 1990.

I was knocking around Europe for about five years with a jazz musician more than twice my age. We had previously been living together on East 3rd Street in the early eighties, just after I graduated from high school. I had a severe case of low self-esteem. Our daughter was born in Paris under dire circumstances. I wrote a bad check to get out of the birthing clinic. Eventually both our relationship and living situation hit rock-bottom. It finally dawned on me that this was no way to raise my daughter.

In 1990 I was twenty-six, estranged from my well-to-do family, a single mom in the East Village, struggling to work and raise my daughter. I found some feeling of family from a couple places. One was A Gathering of the Tribes, where Steve Cannon gave me both employment and encouragement. The other was WBAI Radio, where I had an opportunity to volunteer as a producer and on-air host. So much of what I still want to do with Listen & Be Heard is informed by what I learned while I was involved with both those institutions at the same time.

I had a sort of bravado that allowed me to step on stage or talk on the radio, but those were moments of clarity that vanished when I had to communicate with people face-to-face. Mostly I felt like a fraud who didn’t belong anywhere. When I said that Pedro Pietri saved me from falling into a deep depression after I bombed at the Nuyorican, I wasn’t exaggerating. Sometimes I was my own best detractor. I need to offer myself a way out of my own cage. If I don’t, I would be more lunatic than queen in the jungle that is my mind.

I’m not sure where that urge to be heard comes from. Generally, at first, I am intimidated by aggressive people. But the things that I don’t get to say when I feel intimidated, when I allow my fight or flight instincts to take over, those things, keep churning in my mind. It can be like racing on a hamster mill. Until something dramatic happens that wakes the sleeping tigress. I have learned some of this about myself over the years. But I know it’s not just me who has these feelings. So thanks for listening. Please make it a conversation by leaving your comments or getting involved in launching the L&BH podcast.

See you soon.

Bokov was seen around the village doing caricatures. He did this caricature of me in front of the building where Image One was up a steep flight of stairs. There was a cigar factory on street level. Dolphy made art with the leaves. These were hanging in front of his storefront home on St. Marks Place.
Bokov was seen around the village doing caricatures. He did this one of me in front of the building where Image One Gallery was up a steep flight of stairs. There was a cigar factory on street level. Dolphy made art with the leaves. These fliers were hanging in front of his storefront home on St. Marks Place.

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