Saturday was another lovely spring day framed by the ugliness of being in a city under martial law. I spent the day catching up on this and that, and then I was back on the bike, heading south and east and south and east again, through Clifton Park, East Baltimore, and down to Patterson Park for an art opening at the Creative Alliance. It felt like a regular spring Saturday in spite of it all–people sitting out on their porches and stoops, kids playing ball disturbingly close to car traffic, folks running car washes out front of their homes. It’s a strange thing, this idea of returning to normal when for a brief moment everyone has been thinking toward the same thing–the questions of how, why, what can be done. Some of us have the fortunate privilege to return to a different kind of normal that allows us to forget for a minute, to “go home” from it all, while for others “home” is also the heavy police state, the mass incarceration of the neighborhood, the material effects of capitalism’s need for mass poverty.
As I looked at this sky, all I saw were the cliches–I saw the dusk before the dawn, the calm before the storm, the pairing of the blue with the grey–they always come together. I feel like all we’ve got are cliches to go on right now, and all of them are dangerous. So I will stop trying to make sense of them and just say thank you, Baltimore, for the Saturday bike ride. Thank you, artists, for your art that is so much better at explaining now than words, and get the fuck out, National Guard troops, who lined my bike ride home, fingers on their triggers, playing their war games, all dressed up, no one to shoot. And then I was home, just under curfew, angry at curfew, confused at how we took it, amazed at how quickly the overreach of state power can become normal, wondering what the next normal will feel like, hoping we won’t forget.