New York State of Mind Amoeblog #25: Northern Dispensary, Vampire Weekend, Nail Art, Coney Island, Lady Gaga Foundation +

Posted by Billyjam, March 27, 2013 11:53am | Post a Comment

In this 25th installment of the New York State of Mind Amoeblog I take a look at the new Vampire Weekend video, "Step," which has a Souls Of Mischief connection as well as other Bay Area references, the new Bronx graffiti indie film Gimme The Loot, a cool piece of public art by sculpture WIll Ryman that is constructed out of industrial nails, a look at Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation that rolled through Times Square last weekend, concerts in the Big Apple for the week ahead, and the interesting tale of a historic building in the high-priced Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan.

Above is a photo taken yesterday of the historic Northern Dispensary building that is located in northern Greenwich Village. Originally, it was established by The City of New York in 1791 as a Dispensary for the treatment of the poor when it was located further south on the island of Manhattan in the neighborhood of City Hall. But as New York City rapidly grew, this current structure was established in 1824 and fully built seven years later in 1831 as a provincial branch to the north - hence named "Northern Dispensary."  The unusual Y-shaped building now sits in Waverly Place where Grove Street and Christopher Street intersect on its own little island of land. The photo lower left was taken of the building in 1885.

Considered to be "jinxed" by many, this protected building (which has been sitting vacant for the past two decades in what is described as one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in NYC) was in the news this week when the New York Times ran a story on the "extraordinary set of deed restrictions on its use" and how a "provision dating to the early 19th century requires that the building, called the Northern Dispensary, be used to serve people who are poor and infirm, according to its owners. This might tangle the plan of any condominium developer. The deed restrictions also rule out “any obscene performances on the premises or any obscene or pornographic purposes.” The interesting report noted how the building (located just across the street from the famous Stonewall bar that gave birth to the Gay Rights Movement) refused, when it was a dental clinic, to treat a man "because he had AIDS, it was sued, fined tens of thousands of dollars and then closed. The building was taken over by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, which sold it in 1998 for $760,000." Read the full story here.
The weather, which has been unseasonably cold of late in NYC, is finally starting to get better and last weekend in a salute to Spring weather Coney Island's Luna Park amusement center officially opened after been ravaged by Superstorm Sandy. Many locals took to the streets in a peaceful rally to complain that the city had spent too much time and resources on getting the famed Brooklyn seaside resort back to normal while ignoring the needs of residents of many low-income housing  projects nearby. 

Events in the NYC area for the week ahead include the New York International Auto Show, March 29th to April 7th at the mega Javits Center. More info. Concerts for the upcoming week include Dutch trance master producer/DJ Armin Van Buuren who plays Madison Square Garden on Saturday, March 30th. Tickets and more info here. The wonderfully talented and refreshingly unique rapper Mykki Blanco plays the Bowery Ballroom on Tuesday, April 2nd. More info here.

Last weekend the Lady Gaga founded traveling Born This Way Foundation rolled into town to Times Square late Friday night to set up camp for the weekend where it disseminated anti-bullying information and encouragement for those who feel different (namely LGBT youth) to feel proud and brave and to stand up for their rights. I was peripherally involved in this since I worked on the filming of the eight-hour overnight set-up of the temporary encampment. see video below I shot along photo (above left) of some of the artwork by Lady Gaga fans on display inside the main tent. And for further foundation information: Born This Way Foundation

Time lapse set up of the Born This Way Foundation Times Square encampment last weekend

Will Ryman "Bird" (2013)

Above is the wonderful piece of public art by sculptor Will Ryman who you could say "nailed it" with this impressive work of his, entitled "Bird" that is made out of actual and fabricated steel nails and is currently on exhibit on 23rd Street and Broadway near Madison Square Park and opposite the Flatiron Building. It will remain on exhibit for another two weeks.
Vampire Weekend "Step" (2013)

Above is the great new video from Vampire Weekend - a Woody Allen worthy paean to New York City shot lovingly in black and white similarly to the opening of Allen's Manhattan -  for their irresistibly catchy (and somewhat familiar sounding) new song "Step" from the NYC band's forthcoming album Modern Vampires Of The City which will arrive in Amoeba on May 7th. What makes this video so fitting for this column - one that salutes the Big Apple from a Left Coast perspective - is how it both shows some great shots of New York (Washington Square Park near NYU,  the diner Tom's Restaurant on the corner of Broadway and 112th St. in the Upper West Side made famous by the TV show Seinfeld, and the fun tram ride to Roosevelt Island that only costs the price of a subway ride to take from 59th Street on the East Side of Manhattan) but also references, via the video's lyrics graphics, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, and Alameda.

Note that if the song sounds somewhat reminiscent of some older pop song that might be because "Step," as the band says in the video description, "interpolates" a vocal melody from the David Gates song "Aubrey" as well as lyrics from Golden Era hip-hop NJ rapper YZ's "Who's That Girl" (off his 1990 album Sons Of The Father on Tuff City) which provides its hook ("Every time I see you in the world you always step to my girl" - that was previously used by the Souls Of Mischief on "Step To My Girl.") The song's vocal delivery by Ezra Koenig also reminds me at times of a few glam rock era songs by Bowie, T-Rex, and Mott The Hoople.

And finally I leave you with the trailer for Gimme The Loot - the new NYC indie film, which got some good reviews for its recent screenings down at SxSW, that is the fictional tale of a pair of young Bronx based graffiti writers who cook up a scheme to spray paint their tags on the home-run apple at Citi Field (Shea Stadium as they call it) - home of the Mets for which the bombers need $500 cash to bribe a guard at the famous NYC ballpark in Flushing Meadows, Queens (take the 7 train to the second last stop). The film is currently screening at the IFC Center on Sixth Avenue in the Village.

Gimme The Loot trailer

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New York State Of Mind (92), Lady Gaga (26), Armin Van Buuren (2), Gimme The Loot (1), New York Hip Hop (1), Bronx Graffiti (1), New York City (101), New York (59), Quad Cinema (2), Vampire Weekend (14), Nyc Entertainment March 2013 (3), Ny Ny (2), Big Apple (4)