Saturday, January 04, 2014

Schellie Hagan on Alfred Chiodo: a beguilingly tender tribute, with some poetic license about "hating Ratner"

This may seem a bit off topic, and surely late, but I heard several secondhand reports about the 11/14/13 memorial service I wasn't able to attend, for Alfred Chiodo, an aide to then-Council Member Letitia James, who died in November.

The service, I was told, included some harsh criticism of Forest City Ratner, to the dismay of some FCR employees, who, to their credit, paid their respects to the staffer who served as James's most recent liaison regarding Atlantic Yards.

Perhaps the most forceful criticism came from Schellie Hagan, an activist from Clinton Hill (and with sister Patti Hagan, a stalwart of the Prospect Heights Action Coalition), whose tribute began:
Alfred and I were the oddest friends. We weren't at all alike and really didn't have much in common. In the first place he was conflict averse...so where did that leave us? We both hated Ratner, but thousands of people hate Ratner and I'm not friends with thousands of people. We both loved New York City, the parts Ratner and his pals haven't wrecked yet. But millions of people love New York City and I don't love millions of people. I loved Alfred. There's no explaining some things.
Actually, as Hagan's words  further indicated, Chiodo wasn't a hater. Indeed, Hagan told me she took some poetic license, amplifying Chiodo's dismay over Atlantic Yards, based on his training as an urban planner (and, surely, his work for project opponent James).

As I recall, Chiodo tried to reconcile some very different interests, though, as in other endeavors--as Hagan's tribute indicates--that wasn't easy.

The tribute, in full

I didn't plan to reprint Hagan's remembrance, but it's so winningly detailed and beguilingly tender it deserves a full read, conjuring up a friendship, a personality, and a life sadly cut short. (Information on donations is here.)


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:12 PM

    What a beautiful, tender remembrance of a complex and lovely person. Alfred was lovable. Was he nervous? I think he had a neurological problem, and he just...shook. As he got older, more so. I think it was one of the reasons why he died when he did. The last time I saw him was the Caribbean Day Parade. He was distributing literature for Letitia. I think she wanted it done 'just so' but he did it his way, and, of course, she was elected. He was on his bike and stopped to give us a hug. Someone later took our picture (Humans of New York). But he started shaking so badly that he had to get on the bike to control it. It did not bode well for the future. And...it turned out there was no future, except in the other life. As for Franklin: "Warm, loving embrace...That is 'family; in my heart. Kitty! That means you!"

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