New York—and “Detention”—Archipelagos

Joey here.

Before we explore a bit more of our local archipelago (defined as a large group of islands), we turn to history. And how it repeats.

Graham Greene’s 1966 novel, The Comedians, was set in Haiti. He wrote in the foreward:

Poor Haiti itself and the character of Dr. Duvalier’s rule are not invented, the latter not even blackened for dramatic effect. Impossible to darken that night.

The late Haitian dictator François ”Papa Doc” Duvalier sued Greene in France for defamation. Duvalier won—and was awarded 1 franc (less than a dollar) in damages.

Jeffrey took (and won) his first asylum case in 1983. His client was a Haitian refugee referred by the Lawyers Committee for International Human Rights—now called Human Rights First. The LCIHR was led by its founding executive director, Michael Posner.

Mike wrote an essay published this week in The New York Times. We hope you will read the essay as we did, sitting in comfort and safety, well clad, well fed.

We reflected on Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, run by murderers, where clay discs, seasoned with salt and vinegar, are sold to people too poor to put real food in their stomachs. We remembered the victims of persecution, Haitians and others, past and present, “detained” (jailed) at public expense and for private profit throughout the USA.

While keeping in mind the evils done in our names, let’s move on to happier things.

Jeffrey and I live on Manhattan Island. There are at least 35 other islands in New York City. Some, like Staten Island and Roosevelt Island, are densely populated. Rikers Island is the site of a city jail of deservedly ill repute. The first Dutch settlers landed on Governors Island in 1624; it has been used for various civilian and military purposes, and now is a popular public park. Ellis and Liberty Islands are famous for their history and symbolism. Some islands are kept wild.

We decided to explore City Island.

Zoom in to see map details.

Our time being limited, we took the 6 train (subway) to Pelham Bay Park, and biked from there.

The beautiful park is 2772 acres (1122 hectares), more than triple the size of Central Park.

This monument to war veterans of 1917-18 was built in 1932. That year the Bonus Army of tens of thousands of peaceful, unemployed World War veterans and their families came to Washington, DC, to ask for financial relief. They were driven out by infantry, cavalry, and tanks, commanded by General Douglas MacArthur.

In 1932, the Great War was the only World War. Seven years later, it became the first in a series.
Zoom in to read the inscriptions. It’s the same old story. There was money for a monument, there were ceremonies and cheap talk to honor “The Glorious Memory” of those ”Who Gave Their Lives For Their Country In The World War”, but President Herbert Hoover denied the hungry veterans practical help and sicced the U.S. Army on them. In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt offered the vets Civilian Conservation Corps jobs, which most accepted.
View from the bridge across Eastchester Bay, by Turtle Cove

En route to City Island, we passed a ghost bike.

Another familiar story. We don’t know the details, but based on Jeffrey’s 2014 Brooklyn encounter with a criminally negligent driver whose SUV shattered Jeffrey’s leg, we suspect that the cyclist’s killer continued to drive unimpeded by the state.
Bike lane through the woods. A sign warned of ticks and Lyme disease.
City Island looks like a summer resort. It’s another of NYC’s many worlds unto themselves.
A burial ground for over a million of NYC’s unidentified and unclaimed poor, uninhabited Hart Island’s abandoned buildings are visible from a well-kept City Island private cemetery.
This sign caught our attention. Maybe motorists’ affection for animals will lead them, coincidentally, to drive more gently around humans.
City Island Nautical Museum
Not all of NYC is paved and manicured.
Orchard Beach, the Riviera of the Bronx

We didn’t do any deliberate ethnic exploration on this trip. It was enough to show our Ride for Human Rights sign and to clear our heads a little.

We’ll ride for a few more days.

Jeffrey will post a 2021 wrap-up soon.

1 thought on “New York—and “Detention”—Archipelagos

Comments are closed.