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Heading West via History

This time I run westward, via the west village to the Hudson River. I start once again at Washington Square. There is one central square in Tel Aviv, where our prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin was murdered in 1995, by a right wing assassin, who wanted to stop the peace process with the Palestinians.

 

Frankly the murder, Yigal Amir who serves a life sentence   succeeded. Since the assassination, the peace process was replaced by rounds of violence- Palestinian terror attacks, Israeli reprisals and more Jewish settlements.

 

The square which was renamed after Rabin had always been a venue for gathering, protests and demonstrations. If you have a cause, or you protest against something, or support someone you gather at Rabin square.

So, in my eyes, is Washington square. I watched there demonstrations by transgenders and other LGTB protestors, against Donald Trump's discriminatory policies, animals' rights' groups demonstrating against cruelty and tests. I attended meetings of idealist NYU students, against the university's catering companies which make mega profits from supplying bad quality food and even leftovers for jails. I do sympathize with all these worthy causes.

 

Before I reach the river I still have to run through some important historic landmarks in the vicinity. I leave the square northward; on Fifth Avenue. It's still my warm up and after a few seconds I turn right into Washington Mews. This is one of NYC's most picturesque streets.

Originally, in the 18th century, the mews were part of farm land, and were used to house stables. Later they became a private street with iron gates at both ends. The gates are still there. The two storey town houses with red bricks belong nowadays to NYU. The 100 plus yards street is paved with cobble stones, and is frequented by models and young couples for photo ops.

 

 

 

As my continued warm-up, I run back and forth two or three laps then return to Fifth Avenue, and after one bloc I reach 8th street.

 

I turn left – westward- and stop at number 52 to honor a piece of history and culture. The place is named Electric Lady. In the early sixties it housed a night club called "The Generation". It hosted, among many other artists and musicians Chuck Berry, BB King, Sly and the Family Stone, and The Big Brother and the Holding Company, which played with Janice Joplin.

In 1968, Jimmy Hendrix purchased the place and hoped to keep it as a live music venue. But his advisers changed his mind and it was transformed into a recording studio, where The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie and many more singers and bands, recorded their music.

I continue to Sixth Avenue and turn south, and after a few hundred yards I meet Christopher Street. There at 51-53 I see the Stonewall Inn.

 

 

 

 

Originally it was, of course, a stable, and in the early 20th century, during prohibition was turned into a tea house and later a restaurant. In 1966, new owner purchased the place, rumored to be members of the Genovese family, one of the five big mafia families.

 

The owners sensed the change of time and rebranded it as a gay tavern. It became the most famous hangout for gays and lesbians in the U.S, because of its intimate dance policy.

 

 

In those days of sexual hypocrisy, corrupt police officers used to storm the bars, harassed the LGTB party goers and cut their share. Even Stonewall Inn, with is mafia backing and linking was not spared.

Until one after midnight, in a hot humid June day in 1969, the patrons decided that enough was enough. They resisted the police contingent and besieged them on the dancing floor. The astonished and frightened police officers called reinforcement. In the meantime more gays and Lesbians as well as civil rights fighters, arrived at the scene. Violent clashes erupted. People were injured.

The Stonewall riots generated a historic revolution. They led to the first gay pride parades in the United States and in many other countries.

On June 28th, 1970, a march was led from Greenwich Village to Central Park. Since then the LGBT community has gained civil liberties in the US and to a lesser degree in other countries, including Israel.

 

Their struggle for full equality, however, still goes on, especially nowadays, during the Trump administration. Next year, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, NYC will witness what it hopes will the biggest gay parade ever.

 

I leave Stonewall Inn, run less than a mile, westward on Christopher, until I reach my destination - the Hudson River. My dilemma is whether to run up north or south. Talk to you in my next post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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