Overlooking United Nations (UN) Headquarters - view from the end of East 40th Street
Greetings from New York City which seems to be stealing some of the West Coast's thunder of late (namely Silicon Valley and Hollywood) by not only becoming a booming location for tech startups, but also this week adding a big new large-scale (one square block in scale) outdoor film production studio backlot. This brand new 35,000 square feet lot is on the sprawling Kaufman Astoria Studios campus in Queens - just across the river from Manhattan that is home to the excellent Museum of The Moving Image - where it will provide film production companies a desired controlled environment for filming and safely utilizing special effects unlike busy NYC streets where most filming takes place such as the Michael J Fox TV Show being filmed on East 33rd Street today (12/4) or the forthcoming movie 1:30 Train, starring Chris Evans about woman chasing through the streets of New York amidst a series of obstacles in an attempt to catch the 1:30 train to Boston, that will be filmed this Saturday (12/7) way downtown on the East Side at Jackson and Cherry Streets near the FDR Drive and East River Park (see production notice below).
Another West Coast like recent development in New York, that has drawn comparisons to Amoeba Music by several reporters, is the just opened cavernous Rough Trade record store and concert space down near the waterfront in the hip and pricey Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. But as the Gizmodo website reported in their review of the new space that opened last week, when comparing it with Amoeba, "Aisles upon aisles of CDs and vinyl records for sale. Not as many as you'd see in a music mega mart like a Virgin Megastore or in legendary independent chain Amoeba Music, but a respectable amount." I have still to make it over to check out firsthand this new Rough Trade space but once I do will do a full report here on the Amoeblog.
Ironically on the same day last week here that local newspapers reported on how New York City's 10013 zip code (SoHo and TriBeCa districts) is home to the second most expensive homes in the USA (after 90210 - Beverly Hills, CA) it is concurrently home to many living in dire poverty and hunger. One in six New Yorkers are living without enough food to eat reported the New York City Coalition Against Hunger last week noting that this figure includes one in five children. "It is simply unconscionable that at a time of record stock prices, the city's pantries and kitchens are facing such deep budget cuts that half of them have to cut back on food for hungry New Yorkers," exclaimed the organization's executive director Joel Berg of these new statistics coming at this time of year.
In recent weeks here I reported on the upcoming closure of the downtown underground arts space the Clocktower Gallery & Radio which was evicted from its cool and unique home of four decades last Saturday. On the day before it was kicked out I stopped in to interview the arts organization's Director of Programs David Weinstein on the situation and next week in this space I will run that video interview along with photos from the unique Manhattan space.
Another arts space eviction in NYC is the 5Pointz graffiti mecca that two weeks ago shocked New Yorkers and street art fans when, in the middle of the night with NYPD protection, all the art got whitewashed over by the building owners. Since then I have been monitoring its development - expecting disgruntled writers/artists to sneak past the guard on duty to paint up some new aerosol art. Above are two photos from the past week: the one on left is from last Saturday when someone had snuck in and rush-painted the words "ART MURDER" in dripping, blood-like red paint. But within a couple of days that art, along with the other new pieces painted over the recent whitewash, had been re-painted over, this time in blue paint. By as soon as the end of the month demolition will begin on the Long Island City building after two decades of hosting public art on its walls.
And finally, on a positive note, I leave you with a vintage travelogue movie reel about New York City from circa 1940. Interestingly, despite so many changes such as the Greenwich Village been a haven for artists (long too expensive for struggling artists) or the Bowery been a hangout for bums (now an expensive area to live in), many of the buildings are exactly as they once were.