By Renée Roden
Barbara Eisberg, like many of the attendees at Bar Crawl Radio’s Special 100th podcast episode, came to make her voice heard. After reading about the planned interview with local politicians and open mic in West Side Rag, she approached the table hosts Rebecca McKean and Alan Winson had set up to accommodate their recording equipment, because she wanted answers from local officials about how they are continuing to care for the health of the community.
“The homeless on Broadway now, it’s out of control,” said Eisberg, “and it’s really disturbing me.” She was also addled by the new bravado of some e-bikes. “Plus the way the electric bikes are taking advantage and using [West End Avenue] as a turnpike, speeding along” was a safety hazard she wanted to ask the officials about.
Among the twenty-some audience members who filtered in and out over the course of the 90-minute event, journalist Felix Zeltner had a question specifically about resilience, and how Borough President Gale Brewer, the first interviewee, would define it in her own life. Zeltner had read about the event and knew he had to be here, given the topic of resilience. He and his wife, also a journalist, are writing a book and a podcast on resiliency and New York, answering the question “what can people everywhere learn from New York City about how to be resilient?”
Others among the onlookers, like Zach Weiner, came simply to “get an update and stay in touch.” He said he was looking to get “more involved in the district” but he probably would refrain from approaching the microphone and “just listen” tonight. Listening was a challenge as the noise of traffic and bystander chatter drowned out the hosts, and masks proved a barrier to sound as well as droplets, much to the frustration of some of the attendees. Host Alan Winson said they knew there might be issues with the sound but “this was an experiment, and we will do it again.”
Despite the challenges, Brewer said her experience being interviewed was “fabulous,” particularly because of the beautiful weather that made standing outside in a pleasant breeze a delight rather than a humid, sweat-soaked chore.
Rafael Espinal, formerly of City Council, now the Executive Director of the Freelancers Union, seemed to enjoy himself as well, popping open an IPA along with host Alan Winson, as they exchanged masked smiles. Espinal spoke about the challenges and opportunities of moving from being a member of the City Council to now being an advocate for a specific group.
Councilmember Helen Rosenthal was unable to make the recording, to the disappointment of some neighbors with questions for her. But Bar Crawl Radio invited instead two candidates for City Council — Johanna Garcia and Sara Lind — to speak.
Garcia, Chief of Staff for State Senator Robert Jackson, is now running for City Council representing District 10 (now represented by Ydanis Rodriguez). “There is a prime opportunity for my voice to be in the City Council, as a Latina, as a daughter of immigrants, and certainly as a single mom of three, which I think is very absent in the decision-making that you see,” she stated.
One of her passions is public education. Despite being a busy mother, she said, “I make time for advocating for public education.” “The fiscal inequities, in terms of the overcrowded classrooms and schools and the high stakes testing, that’s really been there for a long time, and that’s really driven out the love of teaching and learning in our schools,” Garcia declared, “and we need to bring that back, because that’s what our kids deserve.”
Sara Lind is running for City Council, representing District 6 (Rosenthal’s District). Lind said she first began thinking of getting involved politically when a cab almost hit her and her two children as they crossed the street at 92nd and West End.
She remembered thinking, “Something’s got to be done about this.” That memory stuck with her. After years involved in the community board, she just stepped down as the Executive Director for 21 in ’21 ”I spent several years being like: women should run, we need women in office, so I decided to put my money where my mouth is.”
As the shadows grew longer, the crowds begin to dwindle, but host Rebecca McKean was thrilled with the turnout. She said they weren’t sure how many people to expect, but that they were excited about the audience that showed up. And this will not most likely be the last time we would see them on the streets, she said. “We’ll continue doing this as long as the weather is nice.” Neighbors looking to speak up or stay in touch may have another chance to gather ‘round the Bar Crawl Radio table.
You can listen to the Bar Crawl episode here and below.