Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cowabunga!

Ai yai yai, I just realized it's been exactly two months since I last posted. Sorry about that, Politics of Global Economic Relations really took a lot out of me. Great class, and I learned a lot about foreign direct investment, trade investment, and exchange rates, but it was definitely a steep learning curve. I basically never spoke in class, and instead just tried as hard as I could to sop up all the information flowing around me. Ask me about the World Trade Organization, the GATT and the Bretton Woods Agreement sometime!

So now it's time to buckle down and transform the thesis into a book. This is basically going to take all the summer, so I'll be referring to it here a lot, but I imagine I'll leave a lot on the cutting floor, lest I share too much that will end up in the book. I do want some people to buy it, you know?

In the mean time, I've been trying to keep at least one ear on the current street art situation in New York, which like the rest of the city is always changing fast. I've paid visits to Welling Court (with my daughter Eliza in tow) and the Bushwick Collective recently, though it's been much harder to visit anywhere in the Bronx, upper Manhattan or New Jersey.  Comes with living in Brooklyn, I guess.


A few articles that have caught my eye, either from the folks at Brooklyn Street Art, Street Art NYC, Luna Park, or Graffiti New York:

The New Must-Have for Luxury Buildings: Graffiti
Solid reporting, and super depressing at the same time. I've seen 40 Bond up close, and I think I've even taken pictures of the spaghetti-like scrim that lines the front. And while I actually think it's kind of a neat accoutrement, I never once mistook it to be related to graffiti. Fortunately, no one seems to really take seriously the developers' assertion that it represents a "downtown-on-the-edge point of view," whatever the fuck that means. In my business, we call that a word salad with a heaping side of bullshit.

I'm on this guy Niklas Maak's side:

“What they pioneered as a form of protest is transmuted into a fortification that prevents them from spraying onto the actual fa├žade,” he says. 

I also find it amusing that the  word “NO” written in dark-orange spray paint, is somehow seen as "edgy" for a development in DUMBO, the single most expensive neighborhood in Brooklyn. How, exactly, is this any different from leaving the remains of a antique advertisement for Ma Bells' Miracle Cream? You're looking at a remnant, you dolts, nothing more. Talk to me when you live the way the folks do at 190 Bowery.
190 Bowery, a/k/a the coolest house in Manhattan
Final thought: I'd like to ask author Elizabeth Greenspan if she's ever left Manhattan. Because when I read "Meanwhile, the kind of graffiti for which New York is most famous—tags wallpapering subway cars and city walls—has largely disappeared," I laughed out loud. Yes, tags are gone from subways. But walls? Oh, honey, come on out to Brooklyn some time, and I'll show you OODLES of tags. You won't even have to go all the way to East New York, I promise!
That's right they even have graffiti at Whole Foods in Gowanus.
Eat more of your vegetables!
But don't take my word for it. Even new NYPD honcho Bill Bratton agrees! I'm not sure how I feel about his assertion that graffiti is growing in NYC and "as a city, we need to basically take it on because that’s the first sign of urban decay.”

On the one hand, he's parroting the same old "Broken Windows" theory that law enforcement refuses to let go of, in spite of the fact that the theory has been proven to be wrong. I mean, Greenpoint, Williamsburg and Bushwick are dripping with graffiti these days, but do you hear anyone worrying about how these three neighborhoods are spiraling into hellish crime zones? Anyone? Bueller?

Tags? What tags? That stuff's gone yo!
The optimist in me hopes that this means a guy like Bratton might be open to exploring new ideas for combating vandalism, including murals. I mean, it's already being done on a large scale at the Bushwick Collective, and on smaller scales like this mural in the Bronx. Hell, even Amtrak is getting into the art game! The pessimist sees a guy who made his name in the 90's stamping out "Quality of Life" crimes in NYC, and like so many others, he may view the problem as one of enforcement, and nothing more.
Robots Will Kill's latest addition to Bushwick. I can see it now:
"You know, we really like the face, but can you do it more, "sideways"?
Fingers crossed!