“The Vanishing City” to screen Tuesday, Jan. 12th at Judson Memorial Church, 7 p.m.

“The Vanishing City,” a documentary by Fiore DeRosa and Jen Senko, will screen Tuesday, January 12th, 7 p.m. at Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South at Thompson Street.

The Vanishing City exposes the real politic behind the alarming disappearance of New York’s beloved neighborhoods, the truth about its finance-dominated economy, and the myth of “inevitable change.” Artfully documented through interviews with – and testimony by – tenants, city planners, business owners, scholars, and politicians, the film takes a look at the city’s “luxury” policies and high-end development, the power role of the elite, and accusations of corruption surrounding land use and rezoning. The film also links NYC trends to other global cities where multinational corporations continue to victimize the middle and working classes.

$5 suggestion donation.

Will Joe Jr.’s, Village Institution for 35 years, close Sunday?

I went in Joe Jr.’s restaurant about four months ago, inspired I think by Vanishing New York’s previous coverage of this Village institution (same location for 35 years).  It’s a real old school New York place located at Sixth Avenue and 12th Street.  I sat at a booth.  It was really comfortable.  I ordered something diner-y, like a grilled cheese and unsweetened iced tea.  They couldn’t have been nicer.  It wasn’t expensive.  Sort of a throw back to how things can be, and were, in NYC.  It’s not glitzy by any means and you’re not going to get the best gourmet meal but not everything has to be about shiny glass buildings and chi chi wine bars and Duane Reade’s on every corner and Wall Street myopia in New York City.  The ‘other’ is what makes New York complete and unique and what it’s renowned for … art and politics and community and grit and controversy and being on the f**king cutting edge … not wiping out all of its past and its future.  It’s something people like Mike Bloomberg say they understand (at least in campaign ads – where he’s all about the ‘average’ New Yorker and supporting small businesses) but so don’t.  After all, actions speak louder than words.  And it is Mike Bloomberg’s actions that are making the ‘other’ New York, places like Joe Jr’s, capsize and disappear.

Read Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York Blog piece today to hear the latest on Joe Jr.’s. It’s another story of a landlord, greed, a lost lease.  There’s a petition in the restaurant… perhaps venture by to sign it.

Note:  Joe Jr.’s did indeed close that Sunday.

The Vanishing City… and Vanishing “CitiField” name?

Technically, this blog writer is on a blogging break til Monday, April 13th. Except, as you might have noted, the blogging thing sort of gets in your blood and it’s hard to stop. !

With that in mind, I write a short entry below:

I went to the second Vanishing City event Sunday afternoon at Dixon Place Theater featuring films, including the work-in-progress documentary “Vanishing New York” (20 minutes was shown) and “The Over Successful City,” and speakers discussing the changing neighborhoods of the Lower East Side, Chinatown and Bowery (largely attributed to Mayor Bloomberg‘s policies, giveaways to developers, and “rezonings” of these areas). Doris Diether, of Community Board 2 and a highly regarded Village activist and advocate, was added to the line-up at the last minute. All the speakers and audience members’ points were spot on.

I’ll try to write something about it in the near future or perhaps when I return writing new entries. I’m sure Kirby at Colonnade Row blog will write an update. I’ll link to it when he does. You can read my report back of the first event in late January here.

In the meantime, at Vanishing New York blog, Jeremiah has an interesting write up today on the new Mets Stadium and the unfortunate selling of the naming rights to CitiBank. It is now called “Citi Field” – but, as Jeremiah notes, only if we agree to call it that! He advocates boycotting the name (I agree) and taking a cue from the MTA which lists the stop as just Mets (the old stop was listed as Shea Stadium) and heretofore calling the new stadium Mets Field.

I’d read that the reason for the missing “CitiField” name on the subway stop is that CitiBank, one of the banks bailed out by our taxpayer money, would not pay the MTA to have their name listed as a subway stop – so the stop is just referred to as Mets. (That seems a bit dubious on the part of the MTA but anyway…) If you think about it, they bought the naming rights to the stadium – for $400 million – for only 20 years.

Hopefully, 20 years from now, corporate naming and selling off of everything to corporations – a la Mayor Bloomberg – will no longer be a trend.

Jeremiah recalls that the Flatiron Building was originally named the Fuller Building but people didn’t like it so it never stuck. That’s interesting, isn’t it?

Sort of like … hmmm… at Washington Square Park, the “Tisch” Fountain, perhaps? Somehow I don’t think that name will ever stick. The Tisch Family may not have realized what they were getting themselves into when they brokered that one.

See you soon —

Calendar of Upcoming Events

Calendar of Some Upcoming Events …

Sunday, March 29th

* REALLY REALLY FREE MARKET

The Really Really Free Market is a bazaar and a celebration, where capitalist notions of interaction are discarded and people have fun trying new models of exchange. Expect and share free food, skills, music, clothing, books, other things!

3- 7 p.m., Location: Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South @ Thompson Street, Manhattan. (A,B,C,D,E,F trains to W. 4th/Washington Square)

* THE VANISHING CITY: Part II – Films & Townhall Discussion: The Changing Bowery, Chinatown and Lower East Side.

View 20 minutes of the work-in-progress documentary “Vanishing New York” as well as the short film “The Over-successful City” followed by a discussion on the changing face of our city and neighborhoods focused on The Bowery, Chinatown and the Lower East Side. The first event was a big success. More info on speakers at Colonnade Row blog.

3 p.m., Location: Dixon Place Theater, 161 Chrystie Street (between Rivington and Delancey), Manhattan. $15, $12 students and seniors. Followed by reception. Reserve tickets in advance.

Saturday, April 4th

* TRIBUTE AND MEMORIAL TO ROBERT GUSKIND, GOWANUS LOUNGE BLOGGER AND JOURNALIST (Must RSVP.)

2 p.m., Location: Brooklyn Lyceum, Fourth Avenue between Union and President Sts., Gowanus (next to Park Slope), Brooklyn (R train to Union Street)

Saturday, April 11th & Sunday, April 12th

* ANARCHIST BOOK FAIR

Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South @ Thompson Street

Tuesday, May 7th

* 4th Annual BROOKLYN BLOG FEST

Meet local bloggers, learn about blogging, discussion of the impact local blogs have had, watch some great photo montages of ‘old’ and ‘new’ Brooklyn, socialize, and more!

7 p.m., powerHouse Arena, 37 Main Street, DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY; Admission: $10. ($5 for students and seniors)** After-Party, Galapagos Art Space, 16 Main Street, DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY

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For subway information and directions to venues: check out HopStop.

What and who defines public space in New York City?

amNY today delves into the Bloomberg Administration‘s “vision” for transforming New York’s public spaces. Yet, the article doesn’t touch upon parks as public space which is too bad because highlighting what the Bloomberg Administration has done to take away and adversely impact public space at Washington Square Park, Union Square Park, the giveaway of Bronx parkland to the Yankees, the privatization of Randalls Island, etc. would counter city “planner” Amanda Burden‘s gushing spin on the whole thing.

Ms. Burden and Mayor Mike’s idea of expanding public space is more about putting tables in the midst of city streets (seriously) and not so much about how people interact. It is more about figuring out how tourists can sit and have a cup of coffee amidst Times Square congestion versus people actually engaging with one another in unplanned, unusual and spontaneous ways.

Jeremiah of Vanishing New York blog is thankfully quoted and provides some balance, saying, ““There is a kind of mono-cultural aesthetic that everything is being made too coordinated and the style is this kind of glass and chrome where everything looks like a condo. …It’s nice to have a place to sit, but it feels too antithetical to what a city is supposed to be, which is chaotic and organic and wild and hard to tame.”

Ms. Burden tells amNY that many of her initiatives are informed by time spent in Europe. Of course, on the surface, there’s nothing wrong with that. She says, ““I really believe you can measure the health of a city by the vitality of its streets and public spaces. … In the end, that’s what draws people to a city. That’s what makes people fall in love with a city.”

That sounds great — until you look closer. When city “planning” starts worrying too much about changing a city as unique as New York for tourists and doesn’t preserve what New Yorkers already love about their city, I think there is a problem.

“The Vanishing City” event a success !

The Vanishing City event Saturday night 1/24 at The New Dixon Place (a pre-opening event) was a sold-out success! The film “Twilight Becomes Night” movingly emphasized why our local “mom and pop” stores are so important to communities (and our sense of community) vs. endless blocks of Duane Reade, Chase banks, Staples, and Starbucks. The preview trailer of the film “Vanishing New York” looks great. I met the filmmakers Jen Senko and Fiore DeRosa and look forward to seeing the finished result coming this spring.

Kirby from Colonnade Row organized the event. (You can read his report back on it here.) New York State Assembly Member Deborah Glick was particularly hard hitting and didn’t spare any words as to her feelings about Mayor Bloomberg! (Hint: Not so positive.) All the panelists, the moderation, the vibe, etc. were excellent and the turnout reflected the interest – and concern over – our Vanishing City.

The topics discussed – the non-stop giveaways to developers and corporations under the Bloomberg Administration; the lack of emphasis on preserving and valuing community; people and their neighborhoods being sold out for the benefit of real estate interests and “luxury” housing; community members being denied a voice in the “process” – are all relevant in relation to what’s transpired at Washington Square Park thus far.

When asked, Andrew Berman from Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) didn’t have a clear answer as to why his organization supported – or purposefully abstained from taking a real position on– Mayor Bloomberg’s radical revisioning of Washington Square Park.

I have a lot of respect for the work GVSHP does. But that decision truly is a puzzling one. The old ‘line’ that the park needed a “renovation” just isn’t an appropriate one anymore. We all agree on that. The work being done is not a renovation. (In discussing Washington Square Park, Deborah Glick spared no words for the New York City Parks Department declaring it “arrogant” and stated that the tone is set from the top – meaning Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. Correction: I’ve been informed that she meant Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  Unfortunately, they’re both arrogant!) Berman asserted that landscape designer George Vellonakis, who is in charge of the park’s redesign and inexplicably also on the board of GVSHP, recused himself from any votes in the matter. But the fact that he’s on the board is telling enough.

(Original details about the event here.)

NYC: The Vanishing City: Films and Discussion Saturday, January 24th

The Vanishing City Event 1/24

The Vanishing City Event 1/24

A topic I’ve tried to explore on Washington Square Park Blog over the last year are the dramatic changes going on in New York City under Mayor Bloomberg.

Our CEO Mayor’s pro-development, pro-corporate interests, massive re-zonings, and anti-community initiatives are all dramatically accelerating the pace of change in New York, destroying the fabric, the underpinning, of what makes New York New York – its unique, gritty, welcoming to all, pace-setting, dynamic edge.

Evidence of these initiatives exist across the city’s five boroughs. See: Coney Island, Willets Point, Yankee Stadium land grab and park destruction in the Bronx, Lower East Side/Chinatown re-zonings, Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards debacle, NYU and Columbia University’s mammoth, soulless expansions, the overtaking of Harlem, and, of course, Washington Square Park, among too many others.

We can welcome the future without bulldozing the past.

But not Mayor Bloomberg and his corporate allies … they wish to create a homogenized, bland version of New York. Emphasis on corporatization, privatization, tourism, real estate, Wall Street (you see how well that’s been going, eh?). To do this, the past must disappear. It challenges and hinders their efforts. It reminds people of what once was – and can be.

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Now, at last, an event, with two films and discussion, is happening, the first of others, the organizers say.

Details:

THE VANISHING CITY
Saturday, January 24 – 8PM
The NEW Dixon Place Theater; 161 Chrystie Street (Rivington/Delancey), Manhattan
RSVP: 212 219-0736 x113

$20 includes reception with panel to follow event
$15 general admission; $12 seniors/students/discount code

Proceeds benefit the funding of the film “Vanishing New York” and community programs at Dixon Place.

FEATURING-

A screening of the acclaimed short film “Twilight Becomes Night
A preview of the work-in-progress film Vanishing New York
And a panel of activists and preservationists taking audience questions:

-Andrew Berman, Executive Director, Greenwich Village Society of Historical Preservation
-Bettina Domiani, Director, Good Jobs New York
-Deborah Glick, New York State Assemblymember
-Jen Senko & Fiore DeRosa, Directors/Producers, “Vanishing New York”

Moderated by Michael Karp; Curated by Jen Senko & Fiore DeRosa

Luxury development is radically changing the face and faces of New York City. The middle class, small businesses and artists are being priced out at an alarming rate. You can’t stop development, so how then do you preserve the things that make this city one of the most unique places in the world?

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Jeremiah at Vanishing New York blog (not affiliated with the film) interviewed the director of “Twilight Becomes Night,” Virginie-Alvine Perrette, here.

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New Blog entries resume Monday, January 26th!

Bloggers on Wall Street and its implications for New York City – some positive. Could we ‘take back’ New York?

Vanishing New York compiles an overview of what bloggers, who cover New York City neighborhoods and their changes, are saying about Wall Street’s downward turn. Might it be a good moment for the city if Wall Street’s influence is not so prominent? The city might return to artistic and cultural diversity … rents might not be driven up so … a few less glass buildings … a few less giveaways from the Mayor to developers of “luxury housing” … our public spaces might remain public space? Hmmm.

Twelfth Street Books Closing – Moving to Brooklyn; $5 Books

12th street? not much longer

12th street? not much longer

Vanishing New York reports that Twelfth Street Books on 12th Street between Fifth Avenue and University Place is closing after ten years in this location, moving to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn (becoming Atlantic Books), and the Strip House (a steakhouse chain) next door is taking over its space.

Some history from VNY:

Sadly, in 1999, Strip House replaced 75-year-old Asti, “one of New York’s most beloved and treasured restaurants,” where the waitstaff sang opera while they served Italian dishes. Said one baritone at the time, “In the last decade, our customers either died, retired or could no longer afford to come regularly.” …

Of Mr. Glazier[owner], the Strip House website says he has “put a permanent mark on New York City’s history and landscape by taking ordinary locations and converting them into spectacular concepts.” Correction: Asti was the absolute opposite of ordinary and 12th Street Books is a rarity in a city hellbent on making bookstores disappear.

Asti was a sweet place (although I don’t recall being serenaded by the waiters) and represents the charm of not-ordinary New York, something the aesthetic of the glossy Strip House wouldn’t quite comprehend.

Not sure when the bookstore’s last day is (soon) but you can get a shopping bag of books for $5.

It feels wrong to just sit and watch everything glossed over in CEO Mayor Bloomberg’s New York. Would they put up with this in Boston?* Just curious.

*where the Mayor hails from.

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Photo: Baslow

Vanishing New York Blog’s One Year Anniversary

I enjoy reading Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York Blog. It’s somewhat bittersweet. Jeremiah (not his real name) frames everything so perfectly. The issues and places being framed are somewhat sad in themselves, as his framework is the vanishing of New York. He chronicles the places as they go and mentions the ones he hopes will stay. Things move so quickly in CEO Mayor Bloomberg’s New York. I suppose in the back of everyone’s minds – who chronicles the changes – is a hope that it will all stall just-a-little-bit. Under Mayor Bloomberg…? I don’t know if that is possible. But there’s always hope.

VNY writes: “The blog has connected me to new people, both in person and electronically. It also reacquainted me with New York. For awhile, I’d been turning away from the city, a place where I no longer feel at home. But writing the blog forced me to turn outward again. It sent me out walking and got me to travel around Manhattan and the outer boroughs to seek and find what remains.”

Sometimes I feel that way also. All of a sudden looking at everything in a different, brighter light. Appreciating things I took for granted, including Washington Square Park. Somehow appreciating them almost makes it harder. And yet, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

if you haven’t checked out Vanishing New York, do so. It’s his blog’s one year anniversary today.