Amoeblog

New York State of Mind Amoeblog #62: Low Temps, High Rents, High Hopes For New Mayor, Weed, WiFi, B-Boys, RnR Hall Of Fame

Posted by Billyjam, January 8, 2014 09:09am | Post a Comment



Greetings from NYC where, like much of the country, it has been bitterly cold lately - with temps dropping a whopping 40 degrees in a 24 hour period earlier this week and with temperatures so low that, not only did they shut down a lot of flights in and out of the three main area airports (JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark), Tuesday's
temperatures broke a 118-year-record when they dropped to 4 degrees - but with the wind factor it felt like minus 15. As someone used to Northern California's much milder and  overall seasonally more balanced weather what is so striking about NY weather is how it can go from this extreme freezing cold weather to the polar opposite of unbearably hot and humid in the summer months. 

Last month's protest outside the main New York Public Library (photo above that I snapped) addressing the subject of library cutbacks in New York City at the expense of condo developments was a recurring theme
at last week's inauguration of New York City's 109th mayor Bill de Blasio - a political leader who has presented himself as a man of the people and has clearly given hope to those poorer, struggling New Yorkers across the five boroughs.  During his inauguration ceremony last Wednesday outside City Hall many de Blasio team members and supporters of the new mayor attacked the surge of luxury condos over the past decade in New York City at the expense of increasingly fewer affordable housing complexes - all under the watch of outgoing mayor Bloomberg. Expect this to be a recurring topic during the year ahead.

New York State of Mind Amoeblog #59: Luxury Condos vs. Art: 5Pointz, The Clocktower, Propaganda Anonymous

Posted by Billyjam, December 11, 2013 12:38pm | Post a Comment

Prop Anon "Luxury Condos" (from the album Squat The Condos)

When I first met New York City based emcee/singer Propaganda Anonymous (aka Prop Anon who is from NYC's Mindspray hip-hop crew) five years ago he was busy slapping his "Squat The Condos" stickers on lampposts and walls all around the city. That simple three-worded message of his sticker was twofold: to both promote his forthcoming album of the same name and, more importantly, to encourage those who had been displaced by development (IE luxury condos going up, most notably in developing parts of Brooklyn at the time) to squat these new condo constructions. "The negative impact that these new overpriced, extremely expensive luxury condos, that only the very rich in New York City can afford, will be felt for a long time to come - especially on the artists and creative people," he told me at that time.

Prop Anon's predictions could not have been more accurate. In the half decade since then New York City's luxury condo housing market has grown by leaps and bounds - making a select few very rich at the expense of longtime low income residents of New York and struggling artists. Among the most recent victims of luxury condo developments have been 5Pointz and The Clocktower - two art spaces that, in the past few weeks, have both been displaced to make way for luxury condo developments.
   


Hunt Rodriguez on his work Rest In Power 5Pointz - Amoeblog Interview

Above is an impromptu interview I conducted last Saturday (December 7th) afternoon at 5Pointz in Long Island City, Queens with writer/sculptor Hunt Rodriguez whose current favorite form of art is doing sculptures like this one - Rest In Power 5Pointz - and having people sign it. Other works of his have included ones dedicated against gun violence and child abuse. Last weekend,  right as workers were putting up a fence around the main entrance to the former aerosol art haven, the artist had taken his tribute work of art out to the the very location of the graffiti mecca that was recently whitewashed over in preparation for its destruction to make way for high rise luxury condo construction. Rodriguez and his sculpture will be at North 7th Street between Kent
and Wyatt in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
this Saturday, December 14th from noon to 3pm. More info on the 5Pointz Facebook page.

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New York State of Mind Amoeblog #58: Startups + Studio Backlots, NYC Rich vs Poor, 5Pointz' Blue Period, NYC Circa 1940, + more

Posted by Billyjam, December 4, 2013 12:12pm | Post a Comment
            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.

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New York State of Mind Amoeblog #57: 5 Pointz Whitewashed Over, WFMU Record Fair, CitiBike Update

Posted by Billyjam, November 20, 2013 12:38pm | Post a Comment


Despite the fact that it was clear that the battle to save 5 Pointz was lost and that the demolition of the NYC graffiti mecca in Long Island City, Queens was inevitable - expected to begin early 2014 - New Yorkers and graffiti fans alike were in utter shock yesterday morning to awaken and discover that the beloved aerosol art soaked building had been quietly whitewashed over in its entirety overnight as in photo left.

On Friday last a Brooklyn judge announced to lawyers fighting for the building's preservation that he could not and would not grant an injunction to prevent demolition of the graffiti-covered factory building as soon as late December. For years owner Jerry Wolkoff had allowed, under the curation of Jonathan "MERES One" Cohen, the factory building to be completely adorned in aerosol art but now wanted to knock down the famous building and in its place build two big high-rise luxury condos.  But, despite the fact that Wolkoff and his son David (who is also on the title of the building) had graciously allowed aerosol artists to use the building as their collective canvas for many years, Wolkoff had become art enemy number one since announcing his plans to demolish what had become an internationally recognized art mecca. Obviously he knew he would continue to face strong opposition by artists and art lovers and hence why, I am assuming, the rush to whitewash the building with no pre-announcement late Monday.

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Happy 40th Birthday Hip-Hop - Today Big Concert In Central Park With Founding Father Kool Herc and Other Icons Of The Culture

Posted by Billyjam, August 10, 2013 10:43am | Post a Comment

Rapido - The History Of Hip Hop Part 1

Today, August 10th 2013, the 40th birthday of hip-hop - the culture born in the Boogie Down Bronx four full decades ago by Jamaican born, Bronx raised (from age 12 on) DJ Kool Herc - is being celebrated in New York City. (Note however that, according to Kool Herc the officially recognized founding father of hip-hop, that August 11th is the actual date that it all began but all summer in NYC including at 5Pointz hip-hop is enjoying a 40th birthday celebration with weekly events including one tomorrow - the actual birthday, August 11th). 

But today is the big hip-hop birthday bash when Kool Herc and many other icons will be celebrating this momentous occasion in a concert starting in about an hour here in NYC at Central Park's Summerstage.(near 72nd Street). Other hip-hop icons on the bill will include Grand Wizzard Theodore, Kool DJ Red Alert, Marley Marl, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, DJ Premier, Roxanne Shante, and more. I am heading up there now and (provided I get into this sure to be well attended free show) will report on it here in the Amoeblog in the coming days. More concert info, that runs till 7pm EST, in flyer left or online here.
 
Meantime above and below are a series of "History Of Hip-Hop" video clips that honor the culture comprised of DJing, MCing, B-boying, and graffiti/writing that so many people, myself included, love with all our collective hip-hop hearts. Interestingly they were all made by non American producers - indeed like with jazz and blues before it hip-hop as an incredibly important culture gets the least respect in its homeland. Hip-Hop Central Park Summerstage.

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