Archive for April 2008

Union Square Artist Protest

April 30, 2008

Yesterday, I did a post about an unusual protest last weekend in Tompkins Square Park that seemed to reference Union Square and Washington Square Park.

When I got to Union Square later that day, I found a sort of “silent protest” by the artistic types.  By “artistic types”, I mean the craftsmen selling their wares.

It seemed to me that the authorities were starting to crack down on the protestors in Union Square, but that didn’t make any sense.  There was a farmers’ market going on and I can’t imagine that is under any City threat.  But, then again, the protestors are always there and the farmers’ market is on Saturdays.

And, of course, they aren’t all protestors.  Lots of them are just selling their wares. 

 If you noticed the above, there’s something about “park privatization”.  It seems to turn out that there is a move to bring in a restaurant onto Union Square and that this was an Arbor Day Protest in response to the possible cutting down of some trees to make way for a restaurant.  Wow.  I’ve seen many a protest, but never an Arbor Day one.


Tompkins Square Park Protest

April 29, 2008

I was recently down in the Alphabet City area and wandered through Tompkins Square Park.  While there, I saw a protest in progress at the southern part of the park.

The protest seemed centered around a bunch of mailing boxes with slogans.

Forgive me, but I couldn’t figure it out.

Some of the slogans were about Washington Square Park (undergoing renovations and no longer the center of protest activity).  Others were about “stop strangulation in higher education” and “power to the sheeple”.

 I do know that there was another sort of “park protest” going on in Union Square (I’ll post on that separately), so there is a point to the protest.  If I had to guess, the authorities (yeah, those guys) are starting to crack down on the protestors in Union Square just like they did in Washington Square Park.  That’s sad, if only because there are a lot of New Yorkers who really, really, really need a place to do their rants.


NYC Interview Number 001

April 28, 2008

Recently, a friend suggested that I expand my blog to include people.  After all, NYC is a whole lot more than its places.  “There are eight million stories…” and so on.

So, I’ve started to do exactly that.  This will be a periodic posting, but we’ll see how it goes.

I was wandering around Tompkins Square Park in the Lower East Side and ran into my first interviewee/victim:  Zemer Avital.

I had a nice prepared list of questions and the like for the poor guy and he was more than willing to accommodate this strange character talking about his “blog” and all.

He’s originally from Israel and has only been in NYC for about six weeks. We got into the age-old philosophical question of whether than makes him a resident or non-resident of NYC. My position is pretty straightforward: if you’ve been here long enough to walk a block or two, you’re practically a native born New Yorker.

His favorite part of the City: the West Village. He also recommends off-off-Broadway shows as the great don’t-miss-it sort of thing to do in NYC. I agree very strongly with that evaluation.

I did ask him, as a long-time resident of NYC of six weeks, to tell me the strangest sight he’s seen so far. He answered that it was a sight at Union Square where he found a man doing a street show with a potato peeler. I knew exactly who he was talking about. That’s one of the characters I’ve occasionally looked for to put on the blog. It isn’t so much a “show” as it is a “sales pitch”. The guy has this wonderful act where he sells these peelers.

At the end of the interview, Zemer looked through my list of Resident Favorite Facts About NYC.  I will only allow three to be chosen. After lengthy contemplation Zemer chose:

  • d. Queens is the heart of NYC, but nobody knows it. Maybe if you’d send us some of those extra Brooklyn celebrities…
  • m. I keep meaning to ride the complete route of the subway, but I don’t have a spare week to do it.
  • w. “East Village”? There’s no such “East Village”, it’s the Lower East Side!

Thanks very much Zemer! You were a sport to be my first interview! Enjoy NYC.


The Yale Club and Nathan Hale

April 27, 2008

At Vanderbilt Avenue and 46th Street (right across the street from Grand Central, on the west side) is a nice little place with the initials YC.

It’s the Yale Club. There are a whole bunch of these little university-based clubs in NYC. The only one I’ve been to was the Princeton Club, but that was by invitation from a vendor at my company (the vendor’s owner was, I think, a member).

But the site is more than the current location of the Yale Club. I recently spotted the plaque below just at the edge of the building.

It reads “At the British artillery Park near this site, Nathan Hale, Captain in the U.S. Army, Yale Graduate of 1773, apprehended within enemy lines while seeking information, was executed on the morning of September 22, 1776. His last words were ‘I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country’ Erected by Mary Washington Colonial Capter, D.A.R. and the Yale Club of New York”

I hadn’t realized it had taken place so close to where I live. Nor had I ever realized how early in the Revolution that his hanging had occured, only about 3 months into it.


Lever House Redux

April 26, 2008

Well, NYC is always changing and Lever House has updated its pretty bad artwork (at least in my estimation) with equal artwork (also in my estimation).

But they moved it indoors! I guess that’s what they consider progress.

I’m not any sort of art critic, but I know what I find interesting versus non-interesting. The new artist’s work this time isn’t bad in any aesthetic sense. It’s actually interesting in one or two ways. But not sufficiently so.

First, the good part. They removed the gutted “Virgin Mother” and put in some plants.

I fully approve. Nice planting. Kudos to the grounds staff.

The new artwork is inside the Lever House lobby. Artist Richard Dupont has a display going on until May 3 where he made a series of images of himself, in a sort of sculpture. Actually, into nine identical life-sized (I suppose) sculptures of himself. But they aren’t identical and they aren’t life-sized. Each is supposed to be different and only looks life-sized from one angle. What that means is that they are squashed thin or flat or not-squashed depending on the angle. Oh, and the figures are all naked.

When I looked at it, the place wasn’t open to the public so I couldn’t take a closer look. All I could really see was that they were actually pretty well done, but I don’t understand the point of the “squashing”. There’s some text in the window that says “Dupont has created nine self-portraits that are laterally and horizontally manipulated so that they are radically distorted and can be only be seen as an accurate, complete body from one vantage point.” If the point of the sculpture is that we can’t use one viewpoint to truly know the man…that ain’t news. In fact, it is more accurate to portray that sort of thing by showing that no angle and no single or multiple perspective really gives you a true view of the man, naked or not. Not even of ourselves. The real truth is that we are unknowable.

But what do I know? I guess I’m just an ankler who is jealous that other people get to do such interpretations at Lever House.

I do have to admit that I am looking forward to the future of Lever House artwork. We’ve had a nude, giant, gutted, pregnant woman. And we’ve had squashed, mostly-life-sized, naked men. I’m betting on hundreds of miniature, shaved dogs and cats in some form for the next exhibit. Ever seen a shaved collie? Or maybe they get clothes like Barbie. (She’s got plenty of outfits to spare.) Malibu Poodle!

Actually, I might like that, so it won’t happen. I’ll keep an eye out, though.