Chalkupy Wall Street “Day of Play” and Musicians’ Jam Via Fandalism Hit the Park Saturday

Free spirits of all ages and shapes and sizes showed up at the park on Saturday. Here shown in pictures, co-habitating the space; I think you’ll be able to tell which shots are from which event:

Occupy Wall Street Day of Play With Judson Church in background:

And, of course, Elmo:

I myself happened upon the best jam at the park I’ve ever heard taking place on a bench east of the Fountain after the Fandalism event had ended (which I missed). At one point it looked like threatening rain. The group had begun singing “Here Comes the Sun” and the sun, did indeed, appear! (This is the type thing that happens at the park.) I didn’t have a camera which forced me, in a sense, to observe and absorb versus document! Some of the other songs… “Rolling in the Deep” (Adele), “Rock the Casbah” (Clash) and many other great ones, none of which I can recall now! (Clearly, I didn’t take notes either. … Oh & musicians if any of you who were there read this. Please regroup and let me know when that will be.)

Photo 1: Imagine Engine Via Twitter
Photo 2: Laughing Squid, More pics Fandalism here
Photo 3 and 4: Mickey Z.

More photos from the OWS Day of Play here via Facebook.


Next Two Fridays Free French Films at the Park Beginning Tonight, Friday, June 8th (Next One: Friday, June 15th)

For the fifth year, The Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the City’s Parks Department present French films over 8 Fridays in New York City parks with Washington Square Park hosting two screenings, the first, tonight, Friday, June 8th and again next Friday, June 15th. Each film will be preceded by a DJ from WNYU playing music. Tonight’s film is by the Arch.

Tonight, Friday, June 8th, 8:30 p.m.:

Directed by Robert Guédiguian, 2011, France, Drama/Romance
French with English Subtitles, Not rated, 107mStarring Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Ariane Ascaride, Gérard Meylan, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, Anais Demoustier, Julie-Marie Parmentier

Despite losing his job, Michel lives happily with his wife Marie-Claire and their loving family and friends in Marseille. His happiness is shattered when he and his wife are robbed at gunpoint of their life savings by two mask-wearing thieves. The shock is even more devastating when they discover who the perpetuators are…

Based on the poem Les Pauvres Gens from La Légende des Siècles by Victor Hugo, Lévy et Hetzel, 1859, France. How Good are the Poor from The Legend of the Ages, published in the United States by Oxford University Press, 2004.

Next Friday, June 15th, 8:30 p.m.:

Directed by Yves Robert, 1962, France, Comedy (more…)

Adopt-a-palooza Returns to Washington Square Park Saturday, May 19th — Interview with head of Alliance for NYC’s Animals


It turns out we have an animal-friendly Village neighbor to thank for Adopt-a-palooza’s presence this Saturday at Washington Square Park for the third year in a row. The neighbor, who runs an entertainment company, reached out to Jane Hoffman, President of the Alliance for NYC’s Animals, indicating that he’d like to help produce an event at the Park for animal adoptions. That started the wheels turning. The first event happened at WSP in 2010.

This Saturday, May 19th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. makes year number 3! There will be more than 100 animals available for adoption. In addition, people are invited to bring their own cat or dog for portraits, other events, and the opportunity to “ask an expert” a question you may have about your animal’s health or behavior. It will be “family friendly” with activities for children.

The last two events at Washington Square have had about a 75% successful adoption rate. Let’s make it higher this year – please consider adopting – so these animals do not have to return to the shelter.

I interviewed Alliance for NYC’s Animals President Jane Hoffman recently who said the atmosphere at the event is “a very happy environment.” Her organization works with the ACC – Animal Care and Control, the city’s shelter system – and NYC rescue groups who “bring animals that show well in this environment.” She added, “We are trying to drive traffic to the ACC. Almost all animals [at the event] from the ACC get adopted. Some go that day. Some [people] find out later [that the adoption has gone through] after a 24 hour wait.”

As far as whether people seek out an animal or do it on the spot, she said, “Some people adopt on impulse, some come with a carrier. The groups and the public really like these large events.”

Adopt Me!

In addition to adopting animals, the other goal of the event is to raise awareness of the city’s shelter and rescue groups as well as the ACC(Animal Care and Control). Still to this day, the kill rate is way too high at the city’s shelter system. Hoffman says that in 2002, 74 out of every 100 animals brought to the ACC were killed; in 2010, that amount was reduced to 30 out of 100. That is still about 1/3. Most of the animals available for adoption at the event come from the ACC so they can free up room at the shelter, meaning more animals’ lives are spared (animals are euthanized typically due to lack of space at the shelters – whether that is the stated reason or not).

The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals was created out of the Animal Law Committee, part of the New York City Bar Association. Hoffman, who was on the committee, became aware of Maddie’s Fund, “a big family foundation giving community grants, encouraging cities to be ‘no-kill.'” And then, “It was a confluence of events when Bloomberg came into office. We said to the Administration, we think we have an idea to improve animal welfare and we can get this multi-million dollar grant.”

With Hoffman’s help and the Alliance, the city got the Maddie’s Fund grant. The grant was for $23.5 million over seven years and ended last year. As with many things related to animals in this big city, that has not been without controversy. The year by which NYC is supposed to be “no-kill” has continued to move further away.

Yet, the goals of Hoffman’s group and the coordination involved are laudable. Although it is called “Mayor’s Alliance,” the organization is run independently. It gets no money from the government, working to assist the existing city structure. Hoffman says the Alliance is “basically a large marketing and distribution network which works with rescue groups.” (Over 150.) There is “Wheels of Hope” for which the Alliance has “5 vans we run 7 days a week going from the ACC to groups that save them [the animals]. There’s a huge effort to increase adoptions. We have spay/neuter programs working with outdoor cats.” Some of the Alliance’s core objectives are ” to increase adoptions, decrease homelessness, raising awareness about shelter groups and shelters – Adopt Don’t Buy – and to strengthen resources of the rescue groups and educational groups.”

People who read this blog regularly know that I am not a fan of the Bloomberg Administration. Hoffman told me when she first reached out to the Administration, they said “we didn’t create this problem.” I couldn’t help thinking, fine, but they have not done enough to make it better on their watch over the last ten years.

I asked Hoffman how the city’s shelter system could be improved. And she responded bluntly, “More money.” She then explained that the budget for the shelter had been $14 million (which wasn’t enough) and it had gone down to $7 Million. She said, “The ACC staff was decimated. They lost 1/2 of their staff. Now they will be able to add back 100 people.” Some of the funding was recently restored in a bill passed recently by the City Council (also a bit controversial – will add in link) which will require the Department of Health to increase the ACC budget to $12.5 million by the end of 2014. That is obviously still too little and too late.

Let’s be thankful for the people working hard to help the city’s animals, the individuals and rescue and shelter groups that work on their own and with the Alliance for NYC’s Animals as well as Hoffman herself.

Stop by Washington Square Park Saturday, May 19th between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to adopt a cat or dog that would love a new home, learn more about the city’s rescue groups, or bring yourself and possibly your cat or dog to get advice and have some fun.

Let’s rally for the city’s animals and truly work to make New York City a No-Kill city.

(I’ve written previously here about the situation at the ACC. Note: I always thought the Mayor’s Alliance existed during the Giuliani years but I didn’t get clarification on that.)

Artist Tom Matt’s NY: The Series Featured at Joe: The Art of Coffee on Waverly Place Until Thursday, March 15th — Interview with the Artist

From NY: The Series by Tom Matt

My new favorite local coffee shop, tied right now with Think Coffee, is Joe: The Art of Coffee, a few blocks from the park heading west. Currently on the walls of their small yet welcoming space on Waverly Place is artwork by New Yorker Tom Matt who has put together the terrific NY: The Series which features New York City locales set against the backdrop of the New York Times. The art is featured on Joe’s walls until this Thursday, March 15th.

I asked Tom some questions via email and here are his responses:

What inspired you to put together this series of NYC shots ? New York followed a series on Paris, yes? 

At the turn of the millennium, I knew that I wanted to create a body of work celebrating New York City. I wanted to draw the city using pastel, and didn’t know what kind of surface to draw on as my ‘canvas.’ It dawned on me one day, while sketching on a scrap of newspaper in Esperanto Cafe on MacDougal Street – to draw ‘my take’ on dynamic views of the city, on top of the front covers of NY newspapers. I liked the layering effect of pastel with body copy of headlines and articles peaking through here and there. This technique also spoke of layered narratives of all of us living is such a diverse and vibrant city.

Some years later, I decided to travel to France several times, where I created my Paris series, drawing on top of the Le Monde paper. I draw all of these on-location, which I prefer, and finalize them in my studio.

Was there a different feeling focusing on New York vs. Paris?

The main difference between Paris and New York is that our city is enormous next to Paris. Having lived here for so long brings a familiarity advantage in that, I was able to find my favorite views here comfortably over time. In Paris however, I had limited time and had to work more quickly. Paris is very charming, and the hard part was finding the ‘best’ views, since everywhere I turned – every view was amazing…

How long have you lived in New York?

I’ve lived in New York for about 14 years now. I grew up in Connecticut.

Joe The Art of Coffee Waverly Place

How did the show at Joe’s come about?

I love the walls at Joe’s on Waverly, and saw an ad there inviting artists to put up their work. It took a year before there was an opening for me. I’m pleased to have my work there now.

Washington Square Park is featured in the series. Thoughts on your feelings on drawing at the park and your experience working there?

I love the Arch in the Washington Square Park. Here is one interesting story among many I can share… I created a commission last year on newspaper for a client who proposed to his fiancée in the Park. The view features the Arch, and crowds of people around it. This gentleman met her when he was at NYU grad school, while he was playing guitar one day in the park. She approached him after listening, and left her number with him on a scrap of paper. This first meeting initiated the beginning of their relationship.

He asked me to include him in the art, playing guitar, which he posed for in the same spot where he met her. Once the art was complete, he gave the piece to her as a gift on their wedding day. The art was commissioned on a particular front page of the newspaper, bearing a date that had significance for them both.

Washington Square Park is wonderful – so many diverse people, artists, musicians bustling around. I like what they did redesigning the park, especially the gardens. I love the flowers there in Springtime.
Check out Tom Matt’s NY: The Series at Joe: The Art of Coffee, 141 Waverly Place off Sixth Avenue (head west), this week, from now ’til Thursday, March 15th. (The WSP pieces are not showcased at Joe but you can view on his web site.) You can try a cup of their direct trade, organic (but not certified) coffee while you’re there!

Website of Tom Matt
Joe: The Art of Coffee

“Do The Light Thing/Occupy Chanukah” Event Lit Up Fountain Plaza Tuesday

Light Sculpture 2010 Event

The New Schul held “Do the Light Thing in Washington Square Park,” an annual event to celebrate Chanukah, on Tuesday 12/20. This year it also had the theme “Occupy Chanukah.” Chanukah is the “festival of lights” so the “progressive synagogue,” located on West 10th Street, set out to “create a public Light Sculpture in the heart of Greenwich Village” in order to “send a message of hope and peace to our community and the world.”

The event’s Yelp page stated people would:

Dance to the music of Litvakus, sing some Chanukah songs, keep warm with a cup of steaming hot chocolate and taste tradition with a delicious potato latke.

Nice! As far as “occupying,” “occupy” has traditionally (well, at least, since September 17th) meant that you are taking something over in the attempt to change it in some way. I suppose they were “Occupying Chanukah” that night at WSP to bring attention to the message of meaning and community and in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. The creation of the Light Sculpture happens annually so it’ll light up the Fountain Plaza again next year.

Sunday, November 6th: Occupy Washington Square Forum — “Debt & Money: Demand the Impossible”

Occupy Washington Square announces a Public Forum in Washington Square Park this Sunday, November 6th at 4 p.m.:


The General Assembly of Washington Square Park ( is hosting a Public Forum this Sunday, November 6th at 4 p.m. on imagining new responses to debt.

  • Are other systems beyond money possible?
  • How can the Occupy movement address the issue of student debt?
  • What is the currency of community?

Following from the success of recent Forums featuring Judith Butler (2 weeks ago) and Angela Davis (last week), this weekend continues the tradition of presenting challenging and inspiring ideas and speakers in the public space each Sunday.

This Sunday’s Forum will consist of presentations by four speakers, followed by extensive Q&A. Speakers include:

DANIEL PINCHBECK is the co-editor of the new anthology, What Comes After Money?, co-founder of websites Reality Sandwich and, and author of the books 2012: The Return of Quezalcoatl and Breaking Open the Head, all of which encourage looking at an emerging new paradigm.

ANYA KAMENETZ is the author of Generation Debt, DIY U, and The Edupunks’ Guide, all about the intersection of education and economics, and self-organized solutions.

McKENZIE WARK is the author of The Hacker Manifesto and The Beach Beneath The Streets which focuses on the history of the Situationists International including the liberating promise of public space.

ANDREW ROSS is the author of many books including Celebration and Nice Work if You Can Get it: Life and Labor in Precarious Times. He is interested in the new Student Debt Moratorium Proposal.

4pm this Sunday, in Washington Square Park NYC, near the archway. All welcome.

See original at Occupy Washington Square web site.

Photo: Gamma Blog

Jedi Light Saber Battle Scheduled for Washington Square Saturday, September 24th 9 p.m.

Washington Square Park's own Jedi on the Fountain Plaza

Updated — Just spoke to Kevin Bracken, one of the organizers, and so, as first reported in the Village Voice a few weeks ago and also in today’s New York Times, the “giant light saber battle” scheduled for the Park on Saturday 9/24 from 9-11 p.m. may move to a covered location due to pending rain will happen. (Update 3 p.m. Event will happen at the Park. Location is stated as “Teen Plaza” which I gather is Garibaldi Plaza. Hope that’s enough room…) Kevin and his partner, Lori, organize other events such as those giant pillow fights in Union Square. For this spectacle, light sabers are $5 and they recommend you bring your own goggles. (There’s a rumor there may even be Jedi robes!) I’m not sure what I think about this exactly but still it sounds like fun. (If it remains in the Park, I’m considering handing out light sabers – they are looking for volunteers! — update: Show up at 7:30 p.m. and look for a white van near former Teen Plaza – likely behind Garibaldi stage? – to volunteer. Light sabers are sold out.)

Bracken told the Village Voice: “The event was inspired … by Star Wars … and, actually, Burning Man: ‘There used to be a guy who gave out 10,000 sabers. If we were rich we’d arm all New Yorkers with blinky lights.'”

You can check out the newmindspace web site to get the latest news and I’ll update a location change here.

If you miss the event, it changes locations, and/or you want to view something on a smaller scale, check out Washington Square Park’s own Jedi. They meet at the park every Wednesday at 7 p.m. They have two web sites which both seem to be down but above is, I presume, a picture of one (or else a rogue force).

Photo: Ossip Kaehr

Update — Postponed — “Hair” Tonight, September 15th, 7:30 p.m. — filmed in WSP


Update: Postponed due to Rain; Rescheduled date not yet announced — The Parks Department’s film series of musicals at the Park kicks off tonight, Thursday, September 15th; it’s scheduled to begin 1/2 hour after sunset — around 7:40 p.m. — with classic flick Hair.” Filmed and released in the ’70s, Washington Square Park of yore is featured prominently. The three-film series is being presented with the IFC Waverly Center (and apparently NYU?).

The films are free and presented on the lawn in the NorthWest Quadrant (west of the Fountain). Will there be signs up? There weren’t last week for “On The Town” but that screening was postponed due to pending rain and rescheduled for next Monday.

Still to come —

*Monday, September 19th: “On The Town”
*Thursday, September 22nd: “Wild Style”

Previous WSP Blog post with full information on the series.

September 2001 * September 11, 2011 * Union Square Park

Union Sq Park, Sept. 2001

Union Sq Park, Sept. 2001

Remember Peace: Bring flowers & candles to Union Square on Sunday, 9/11 at 2:00PM
Meet at Union Square George Washington Statue, South side of the park

Message from Reverend Billy Talen:

The lively culture in Union Square after 9/11 – passing the talking  stick as we discuss Peace and breakdancers dance and artists at their easels painted fireman as angels… and the copyshopped faces of the missing watched us from every surface. That strange and wonderful time in Union Square after 9/11 is worth remembering now…

Security by way of NYPD’s vigilance has killed the 1st Amendment freedoms, driving much of NY expressive culture onto the Internet. Culture, from the sidewalks to Broadway, is utterly de-politicized. There is little recognition in NYC of the great fact of our time, that we fundamentally impacted our climate.

Let’s meet on Sunday at 2 PM at the George Washington statue on the south side of Union Square. Let’s pause to remember when there was still hope for Peace in the time after the towers crashed down.

Top Photo: Flatbush Gardener

After Over 100 Years, Dueling Returns to the Park! — Sunday, August 28th (Update: CANCELLED)

En Garde!

Cancelled due to forthcoming storm; will be rescheduled

The Martinez Academy of Arms will present dueling in Washington Square Park on Sunday, August 28th from 5-7 p.m. at the Holley Plaza (west of the Fountain). The Broome Street-based school, which teaches the European tradition of fencing arts, will hold a “demonstration of the art and science of fencing as it was practiced in New York City during two of its most important historical eras, the 18th and 19th centuries.”

In It Happened on Washington Square, Emily Kies Folpe documents dueling in Washington Square at the time it was a potter’s field:

The open space of the potter’s field was often a stage where large themes of American history played out in small dramas. In 1803, William Coleman, editor of the New York Evening Post, and Captain Thompson, harbormaster of the port of New York, fought a duel there. Although the immediate provocation was a personal insult, the animosity arose from the political convictions of the two men involved, each of whom adhered to a fundamental but opposing philosophy of government.

Coleman was first challenged to a duel by the editor of the American Citizen who accused him of slander. (Aaron Burr ran American Citizen and he battled Alexander Hamilton the following year in their famous duel in Weehawken, New Jersey in which Hamilton was killed.) The duel between the two editors was called off but Mr. Thompson (likely Thompson Street is named after him?) jumped in and stated that Coleman wasn’t up to a duel and “would readily turn the other cheek if attacked.” It was a different time and this caused Coleman to then challenge Thompson himself to a duel. Thompson died, admitting before hand that he had provoked the duel to happen.

Kies Folpe writes that duels continued for another twenty years or so “even as the area became more populated”; however, in 1828, dueling was prohibited by state law. (The Academy says duels were fought in Central Park as late as the 1920′s!)

Come witness this lost art on Sunday at the Park.

Photo: / Bibliotheque nationale de France