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New York State of Mind Amoeblog #63: Beaux Arts, Subway Scratching, Slick Rick The Ruler, Homeboy Sandman, Paul Mooney + more

Posted by Billyjam, January 15, 2014 07:27am | Post a Comment

Above is what was once the beautiful piece of New York City architecture that was Pennsylvania Station (circa 1918) that was considered a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style. However this stunning building - once one of Manhattan's architectural along with Grand Central Terminal - was tragically demolished in the 1960s to make way for Madison Square Garden's current structure (the actual railway station is still underground). Tragic as this shortsighted move was, the silver lining to this dark cloud was that the absolutely ridiculous decision to destroy this magnificent building led to the landmarking and protecting of other buildings in New York City so that they would not suffer the same fate. Jackie Kennedy Onassis - a longtime advocate for historic preservation of buildings including a part of the White House - was among those outraged by such demolitions and she was instrumental, some years later, in making sure that the same fate did not happen to Grand Central Terminal - also a Beaux-Arts building - which could have been razed too in the 70's had she and others not stepped in to fight for its preservation.

Slick Rick, whose 1988 album The Great Adventures of Slick Rick was recently reissued on vinyl and is available at each Amoeba store, will be headlining at the Brooklyn Bowl on Friday, January 17th. The album whose fans include Nas (he called it the record, that featured tracks such as “'Children's Story," his favorite album of all time) is a true timeless hip-hop classic that, like Nas' Illmatic, earned the elusive five mics score from The Source magazine upon its release. What looked, at the time, like a very bright future for the artist turned out to be anything but.

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 #61: New Year and A New Mayor Taking "Dead Aim At The Tale Of Two Cities" + more

Posted by Billyjam, January 1, 2014 01:45pm | Post a Comment

New Years Day 2014, New York City where last night a million patient people packed into the Times Square area - a lot of them out of town visitors getting there hours in advance - to try and get a good standing spot to check out the festivities amid all the usual Times Square giant bright active LED screens towering overhead, check out numerous performers including Miley Cyrus and Deborah Harry, and at the stroke of midnight get to see firsthand the famous ball drop that is mostly seen on TV including a lot of New Yorkers who can't deal with all the crowds and waiting.  At around that same time over in Brooklyn new New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio got sworn into office by the Attorney General of NY Eric Schneiderman in a modest low key ceremony right outside the family's longtime home that they now leave to take up residence in Gracie Mansion. Then early this afternoon here the official ceremony took place downtown at City Hall where Bill de Blasio took the oath of office administered by none other than former President Bill Clinton to become the first Democrat mayor of the city in 20 years and the 109th mayor of New York City.

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New York State of Mind Amoeblog #60: Holidays in The Big Apple

Posted by Billyjam, December 18, 2013 10:06am | Post a Comment
Being such a popular tourist destination, especially at this time of the year with hotels booked to capacity and airbnb reservations close behind, not surprisingly New York City goes all out for the holiday season with extravagant Christmas / holiday displays and  exhibits all around town where it's been snowing a lot this past week - something that only enhances that December holiday vibe.

Festive destinations for tourists and New Yorkers alike include  Rockefeller Center (photo left taken earlier this week) where in addition to the usual all year round attractions, such as going up to the Top Of The Rock (one of the best aerial views of the Big Apple), there is the big brightly lit Christmas / holiday tree and the Center's famous ice rink plus a tapestry of large scale colorful holiday statues and lights for the one square block around the Center.

Being that NBC's main television studios are right there at 30 Rock, in addition to earlier this month broadcasting the lighting of the tree ceremony accompanied by performances from such musical guests as Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, and the Goo Goo Dolls, the TV network has been featuring the hella holiday themed area over the past couple of weeks on such NBC shows as Saturday Night Live and the Today Show. Very closeby Rockefeller Center is the big Saks Fifth Avenue department store where, in addition to their extravagant holiday themed window displays, they also have a  large scale 3D light show, complete with booming music system blasting "Carol Of The Bells," that plays in repeat mode on the front of the block long Fifth Avenue building between 48th and 49th streets every night between 5pm to 10pm for the duration of this holiday season (scroll down to see video of this nightly display).

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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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