Friday, April 25, 2008


"To Serve Man" : NYU plans 2031 ...

When it comes to monsters that are positively dangerous for New Yorkers and their neighborhoods , New York University , this corporate Behemoth that chews neighborhoods as the ox chews grass , might fairly be ranked right up there with the likes of Godzilla and Cloverfield .
Godzilla breathes fire and has a predilection for power lines . Cloverfield is very tall with one-hell-of-a reach -- he can grab your chopper right out of the sky -- and he sheds hog-sized "lice" that eat people . Godzilla and Cloverfield seem to enjoy knocking down buildings and destroying whole neighborhoods .... and so it seems , as most downtown New Yorkers already know , does NYU . Godzilla's and Cloverfeild's actions are mostly transparent but NYU , at a recent open-house for instance , .... (vide , to the stroking of whiskers) hmmmmm ?
We visited an NYU open-house last week to look at corporate plans for the future 25 years from now , 2031 . Statements and graphics could be seen all around the ground floor presentation area ... with a little food and wine too . Plenty of NYU staff were well-placed around the display area to explain to anyone that would listen the benefits to downtown New York City of NYU and its plan for 2031 ; a plan that might not be just exactly what it's authors want the public to believe it is . This maddeningly over-determined and ultimately obfuscating presentation brought to mind an ancient "Twilight Zone " episode .
As we recollect the tale , a very tall and persuasive alien in a full-length robe visits Earth and with a large book in hand titled "To Serve Man" invites Earthlings to come to his planet and be served . Trusting in the alien and the truth and good faith of his offer , folks jump at the chance to travel to another world and be served . Believing that something can be had for nothing the earthlings flock to the alien's space-ship for a trip to a better world .
In the last scene of the episode , people are seen climbing the ramp to the ship , some standing in the entrance portal waving back at freinds and families . All the while during this bon voyage affair at the ramp , the tall , cloaked and successfully persuasive alien is seen standing motionless to the side of the ramp with his large tome , "To Serve Man ", in hand . With the ship full of happy fools and the door beginning to close , someone at a distance from the ship frantically cries " we've just translated the book ; "To Serve Man" is a cook book " .


Some Folks at Ray's Candy Store


Biker Bill says : "Polar Opposites , Right ?"


How Truly Dumb Do They Have to Be ?

An ordinary and rudimentary understanding and appreciation of urban reality is all that is required to safely enjoy Tompkins Square Park . So why is it that NYPD must simplistically warn point-by-point of the most obvious of the dangers of this urban reality , this most highly educated new crowd of NYU students and credentialed young professionals that now swarm daily in our Tompkins Square Park ?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Jay and Francine : Living in the Street on Avenue A

Sunday, April 20, 2008


John Varvatos , Live at CBGB ...

Designer John Varvatos

Clayton , Skull on cap and Billy, cigar in mouth : we have been told that these two neighborhood dignitaries were turned away by the clip-board girls at the gate .

Being that Thursday night at 315 Bowery was an evening of partying , The beer surely passed readily from delivery truck to portable sanitary facilities .

Arturo Vega formerly with the "Ramones"support team , waxed prolix about what its like to be a creative contributor .
An "Administratrix" with boots , head-gear , clip-board but alas no whip administering the Thursday night event .

A brutal several-second-long staccato burst of light from 7 or 8 camera flashes always made it quite clear who the celebrities were even though we did not know their names or whence their distinction derived .

Protestors , a major attraction of the evening , out front of the art gallery "Morrison Hotel" . Left to right Rebecca Moore , unknown , Norman Yamada , Liza , the Reverend "Billy"

A seemingly bemused Arturo Vega dismissively ridicules the protestors telling them that money follows talent . Admonishing that they should just work harder and someday maybe they too will have money and be able to be a part of the mix on the new Bowery .

Bobby Steele and freind . Bobby performed with his band the "Misfits" at CBGB in the past . Bobby was on the guest list thursday night .

Protest leader Rebecca Moore above who organized the protest along with Norman Yamada . The Reverend "Billy " also participated with several others . Actually as the evening progressed Ms . Moore's protest group grew with the addition from the public of several converts to the cause .

Sadly Bobby and Rebecca fought it out , not quite comming to blows , Thursday night .We have known both for years . Bobby is a neighbor just down the street from NMNL world headquarters. Both are long time neighborhood folks that have a lot in common . Both have fought against gentrification and mourned the loss of of so many small but important music venues. On the Bowery Thursday night there was no common ground acknowledged by these two combatants .
Bobby , as reportedly do many of those musicians that performed at the event , believes that Mr. Varvatos is doing as much as can be done with his use of the CBGB space to maintain at least some of the old CBGB spirit and also provide some financial support for music downtown . Rebecca sees Mr. Varvatos' efforts as mostly condoning and supporting gentrification which is simply destroying the downtown art and music scene .

Street entrepreneurs worked the crowd-- it is after-all still the "Bowery"-- touching the well-to-do for money .The Reverend "Billy" below offered alms to ease this man's difficult life in the street .
This man regularly works avenue A at Ray's candy store also .

The man in the hat from "Continental" made an appearance .
A pensive film photographer surveys the scene as residents of BRC (Bowery Residents Committee) also survey the scene out front their door .

With a couple of brightly colored custom Harleys and a big black Mercedes parked out front , members of the upper crust and some upper crust wannabes swarmed the entrance to 315 Bowery , the address of the former CBGBs . Each with either a ticket , a place on the guest list or just some unrealistic hope of entering and being part of it all . Members of the BRC next door just watched all the rich folks right next door partying down as members of the CBGB music days of yore played on , live on stage one more time at 315 Bowery .
Those that performed live included Handsome Dick Manitoba , Jesse Malin , Slash , Ronnie Spector , Joan Jett and more .
It was the night of the opening of the new John Varvatos store that has taken over the old CBGBs space and morphed it into a new sleek , chic and very expensive fashion emporium on the new Bowery . The evening bash was also intended as a fund-raiser for VH1's "Save the Music Foundation" which helps to further music education in city schools .The space and evening were definitely the domain ,with a few token exceptions , of some of the wealthier members of today's society ... and unapologeticly so .
Much has been preserved from the CBGB past with Mr. Varvatos claiming to be making an attempt to save something of this rock-n-roll-punk past. Memorabilia is placed about the store . Very expensive , rediculously expensive , clothing is also all about the store and at what has to be a $40,000 or so per month rent probably necessarily expensive .
We only witnessed the scene on Bowery out front of the store . We were not important enough to get inside and see the performers of yore do their routines one more time live on stage at the rear of the space . Though tickets for the opening reportedly raised $30,000 for the VH1 "Save the Music foundation" , clearly out front on the Bowery sidewalk Mr. Varvatos by making a big splash of a party only managed to create a lightning rod to attract fulgurations from those that are against gentrification and its sad consequences for the art and music world downtown .
No matter how well meaning Mr. Varvatos' intentions may have been , and actually be , what many local artists and musicians saw in his Thursday evening extravaganza was just another example of a very conspicuous display of the wealthy sucking up and devouring even more of the soul of downtown NYC.
For more on the evening see below , starting with Bobby Steel's comments at the top of the list and then Rebecca Moore's and Norman Yamada's next .

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