tsatsas a 14th street pilgrimage:      
new york, october 1-10,2011
October 6th, 2011: Sixth day of A 14th Street Pilgrimage

True confession: I only placed one tsatsa today, and that was directly into the hands of Sensei Julie Myoko Terestman at the Village Zendo. Today was really a writing & catching up day, letting people know about the project & collecting my thoughts about what's happened so far. Through the intercession of the marvelous Louise, the Rubin Museum sent out an All Tsatsas Bulletin to its followers, so perhaps some more good people will be out searching for a pilgrimage in the city. Which is pretty much the point, whether or not they actually find any tsatsas.

Here's a surprising fact, given how quickly the 14th Street tsatsas are moving: the Harlem tsatsas are staying resolutely put. I don't know how to explain, but it is definitely so. The one on Louise's stoop is still there, still whole, more than 48 hours after I put it out. The Faithful Workers and the Little Widow still had theirs last time I checked, as did the Sacred Heart firebox on 135th Street. Do people in this neighborhood have more respect for property than elsewhere in the city? Are they less covetous, or less beset by trash than people along 14th Street, and thus less likely to be inflamed by random objects lying around? Is there something locally undesirable about the tsatsas? I can't say, but I feel a mystery & a gentleness around these weird, brittle little guys' survival on the street, day after day.


I feel something similar around preparations for Rob Andrews' big AiOP Union Square Clean piece, which will take place on Saturday, with me as one among maybe 40 performers standing in the square offering our feet for washing by passersby. I picked up my performer's materials from Rob's kind wife Elizabeth, who happens to work basically down & across the street from the Zendo where I went to sit this evening. Here's the kit:

From left to right: a Harry Potter bag (for carrying purposes, though some approximation of Harry's outfit could be sewn out of the cloths), an empty jar, a jar with gauze and directions, some interactive instruction cards, some lengths of black cloth, and a mat. Here's a close-up of the mat:

Simultaneously sweet and heartbreaking: this man I've never met has thought about my feet on the pavement, and how they might get scratched or cold in the process of the performance. How, in other words, my paws might need protection from wire-bottomed cages. Bunnies love it!

Myoko Sensei's talk tonight at the Zendo ended with the image of the gold-mended cracks in beloved Japanese ceramic bowls - and how this approach to imperfection might teach us to apply the gold of our inner nature to the broken places in ourselves & in the world. Then she said, "Go to Wall Street," which surprised me: Dharma talks I've heard in the past haven't often been so clearly directive about steps to take in the world, haven't often been so willing to take a stance on developments in public life. But it's good advice. I'll get some food somewhere tomorrow, bring it down to Occupy Wall Street, and meet Miss Adora there for some tsatsa practice along the ragged edges where change pushes through. As Leonard Cohen says, "There is a crack in everything: that's how the light gets in." The police might shut down the foot-washers in the square on Saturday; they might put the Wall Street cooks and librarians in wire cages without grass mats. Thugs might smash tsatsas into windows in the night. The person who prayed in the Cathedral for strength to beat his brain tumor may beat it. Or not. Pilgrimage acknowledges the importance of awareness over outcomes, Amen.

14th Street project pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7


Art in Odd Places 2011: RITUAL is guest curated by Kalia Brooks, MoCADA Director of Exhibitions and Trinidad Fombella, El Museo Del Barrio Exhibitions Manager/Assistant Curator. Festival Producer, Lucia Warck Meister. Founder/Director, Ed Woodham.

Art in Odd Places (AiOP) aims to present art that stretches the boundaries of communication in the public realm by presenting artworks in all disciplines outside the confines of traditional public space regulations. AiOP reminds us that public spaces function as the epicenter for diverse social interactions and the unfettered exchange of ideas. www.artinoddplaces.org