Amoeblog

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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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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New York State of Mind Amoeblog #56: 1970's New York City On Film

Posted by Billyjam, November 13, 2013 01:00pm | Post a Comment

Over the past week since the election win of distinctly left leaning liberal Democrat Bill de Blasio as New York City's next mayor with a landslide win of 73% of the vote, following 20 years / five consecutive terms of conservative Republican mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani who brought sweeping changes to the Big Apple including sharp drop in crime statistics, there has been much talk of what actually lies ahead for the city of New York under the new liberal mayor elect whose "progress" themed campaign platform was run on the promise of bringing sweeping changes (particularly in areas of inequality, most notably the racial profiling of NYPD's 'stop and frisk' policies) to the citizens of New York City. 

One thing that both supporters and detractors of de Blasio seem to share is their uncertainty as to what exactly lies ahead for New York City once the new mayor of "change" takes office on January 1st. All agree that there will be sweeping changes to the running of NYC on a day to day basis particularly in that of the NYPD - but as to what those changes will ultimately mean for New York City is up for debate. Both sides seem to agree that de Blasio will return NYC to an earlier time, but just how much earlier is up for debate. Some have suggested that New York might return to how it was in the 1970's - a time of economic upheaval when Gotham was a dingy, disheveled, crime-ridden metropolis - albeit one romanticized by many in retrospect.

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