union gas

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April 17 2017 - Hundreds of antifascists disrupt a meeting by the fascist National Front in Paris, France. Cops got caught in their own tear gas and some members of GUD, Groupe Union Défense, a fascist student group tried to look for a fight and had to climb a fence and retreat behind the cops. [video]

Top Women of U.S. Steel during World War II wear oxygen masks as a safety precaution, Gary, Indiana, ca. 1943.

Sufjan Stevens

Singer, 30

“I grew up in Michigan and I eventually moved to New York to attend the New School for the writing program. I think I was always a musician even before I could play an instrument and I think I wanted to be a writer. Writing was more a sort of self-conscious desire through education, classes and reading. It was kind of a personal aspiration whereas music was my natural language from the beginning. It was an inherent inclination that I had. Writing was kind of a way to thwart music because I couldn’t really perceive of a way to be a musician as a vocation or practical way of life. I could see myself as a writer or journalist. But when I got here I started meeting lots of other musicians and they just coaxed me into playing and recording songs and participating in their shows. I did it kind of unwillingly at first and I kept saying ‘No, I’m a writer. I’ll do this because you invited me. But I’m working on my book and I want to get published and I want to teach.’ But eventually it took over and now I consider myself a failed writer.

I moved to Brooklyn about seven years ago. I first lived over by the Seaport across this bridge. Honestly I think I’d only been to Brooklyn once while I was living there. It was just across this bridge and I kind of saw it as this odd mysterious place that I’d never been to. It’s so dumb that I never visited it. I thought New York was Manhattan . And of course what a surprise when I actually moved over the river and I moved near East Williamsburg . The street I lived on was all Puerto Rican. There were those two big Purina Dog Chow buildings that the Brooklyn Union Gas Company owned. I wasn’t far from those. We used to say those were our Twin Towers because I lived near them in Manhattan and now I lived by these two large buildings. Then I moved pretty much every year to a different neighborhood, which was intense. I just didn’t have a lot of money and someone would move out and I couldn’t afford the rent. I had just quit my job. You know how it is. Now I’m in Kensington. It’s kind of like the suburbs of Brooklyn . It’s quiet and it’s not cool at all, which I like. But it’s a short bike ride to all the cool neighborhoods. It’s cheap. It’s like the last affordable neighborhood where you can buy stuff. There are houses with driveways, which is unusual here. And it’s really diverse. There’s no dominant culture there. A lot of Jewish families, Chinese Americans, Polish, Russians. It doesn’t seem like anyone is entitled to that neighborhood. It’s just mixed.

When I moved here first I dropped out of school and I was in a really bad college band. We thought we would make it big. We moved to Bloomfield , New Jersey because we couldn’t afford to live in New York . So of course we weren’t going to make it big. I think my perception of New York was very romantic, and very unreal and very naïve. And of course coming back again after finishing school and coming to grad school, and especially the year I moved to Brooklyn was the year I came to terms with New York for what it was and was able to encounter it full on as a living breathing city with many different moods and characteristics. I think once I came to terms with that I fell in love with it. More deeply than you just fall in love with a girl in middle school. I think the first time I moved here it was an infatuation just based on total fantasy but when I moved to Brooklyn it was a deeper love, kinda like a marriage.”

Photographed on the Brooklyn Bridge