Letters, Week of Dec. 11, 2014 | East Villager & Lower East Sider

Letters, Week of Dec. 11, 2014

Secret plans and meetings

To The Editor:
Re “Pier55 and public process in Hudson River Park” (editorial, Dec. 4):

While Mr. Diller and Ms. von Furstenberg’s generosity is certainly appreciated, what would be more appreciated would be real leadership from the Hudson River Park Trust, which has ignored its duty to finish and maintain the Hudson River Park.

In 2012 the Trust reported to New York State that the capital budget to finish the Hudson River Park was $266 million, with $67 million of that amount needed to complete Pier 54.

With secret plans, secret meetings and a failure to either finish or maintain the park, the Trust has abandoned all pretense of serving the public.
Douglas Durst

Fantasy island vs. reality

To The Editor:
Re “Pier55 and public process in Hudson River Park” (editorial, Dec. 4):

“Many neighbors and park activists will cry…?” Or, said differently, those of us who have donated decades of unpaid labor to improve our parks will ask, ever so politely, if the public will have any real say over how public money is spent — not just a chance to vent uselessly.

“The city will kick in an additional $17 million… . Utilizing $18 million in state funds… .” That’s $35 million — not to mention future maintenance after that 20-year grace period, along with a host of unknowable expenses. 

The real problem with a fantasy island concept is that it in no way represents a scientifically verifiable best use of anyone’s money toward mitigating our very real, very impending climate-crisis impacts. And I’m not talking about saving the fish or the turtles — much as that issue is dear to me.

I’m talking about the reality of what our city will be facing if we don’t create a regionally holistic, climate-proactive shoreline plan for the next 30 years.

This gift was, I believe, well intentioned. But the very rich are not known for their expertise in mundane reality. Nero and Marie Antoinette come to mind. You don’t want them deciding the fate our of cities’ shores. Put bluntly, they have other homes to go to. Most of the rest of us don’t. 

As for the High Line-ization of the nearby community, I’ll leave that to those most impacted. But some of us would like our run-down parks funded, at least with that $17 million in city money that is apparently floating around.
K Webster

Backward on bridge tolls

To The Editor:
Re “C.B. 3 slams the brakes on push to ask politicians to study tolls on bridges” (news article, Dec. 4):

What percentage of the traffic going over those bridges is people shopping in local area businesses? One percent?

What percentage is low-income folks? Two percent? 

This community board is backward.
Ari Freedman

Why punish car drivers?

To The Editor:
Re “Youth march against brutality, hope to spark a new movement” (news article, Dec. 4):

It makes perfect sense to march against brutality and prejudice. On the other hand, it made no sense whatsoever that marchers expressed their views by “blocking East River bridges and traffic,” as the article reported.

Governor Chris Christie must be proud. He invented (or maybe merely tolerated) Bridgegate — a way of punishing someone by blocking roads and trapping citizens in traffic tie-ups, no matter what their political opinions.

These people might be late for appointments, flights or whatever. Sooner or later, they will have to go to the bathroom but will be unable to get there. There could even be a serious emergency, but fire engines and ambulances would be caught in traffic.

I can understand frustration with the grand jury decision, but I can’t understand why this frustration should be directed against anyone who just happens to get caught in the jam. Chris Christie has changed the way we protest.
George Jochnowitz

Dumbness deconstructed

To The Editor:
Re “Swift as N.Y.C. ambassador is not welcome on the L.E.S.” (talking point, by Clayton Patterson, Nov. 27):

I just read Clayton Patterson’s powerful piece on the travesty of presenting Taylor Swift as New York City’s cultural ambassador.

It’s a particular slap in the face, in that, in her music, Swift eschews the two themes that have predominated in New York-associated poetry and music lyrics. One theme is a protest against the arrogance of power. Think of Ginsberg’s blast at the Moloch of a warfare state, Corso’s screed on the atomic bomb, Alan Kaufman’s Whitman poem about the “American inferno,” Lou Reed’s songs about the wild side.

The second theme is a vision of a collective happiness. Here one must place Whitman’s embrace of all peoples, Hart Crane’s vision of the Brooklyn Bridge as a symbol of Americans’ unity, the early Talking Heads’ paeans to joys of everyday life.

This Judy-come-lately, Taylor Swift, spits on such themes. Obviously, she would never attack the powers that be who gave her a career. But, moreover, she is totally without vision. Her songs are retro hymns to individual not collective happiness. She sings, “We’re drivin’ down the road… You’re just so cool, run your hands through your hair / Absent-mindedly makin’ me want you.” Retro, in that — feminism be damned — a woman’s greatest joy is being owned by a man.

“Our history is being erased,” Patterson writes. How can it not be, if gutless drones, such as Taylor Swift and her ilk, are given charge of it?
Jim Feast

Can’t just ‘shake this off’

To The Editor:
Re “Swift as N.Y.C. ambassador is not welcome on the L.E.S.” (talking point, by Clayton Patterson, Nov. 27):

While the Ferguson demonstrations were going on, I wondered what Taylor Swift was thinking about her version of New York.

I agree with Clayton Patterson that it is not surprising that Swift would accept the offer of cultural ambassador of New York. After all, she is part of the corporate machine and has been since her father invested in the record label that produces her records.

The key question is who in the Mayor’s Office would have agreed to offer a neophyte who just moved to New York — who has no association with New York — this role? And why weren’t the citizens of New York consulted on who we feel is an appropriate artist to represent our city?

Picking Taylor Swift to be cultural ambassador of New York is an exceedingly poor choice in a city where so many internationally famous artists have made their homes and their artistic reputations for decades, such as Debby Harry, Patti Smith, Fran Lebowitz, Yoko Ono, Laurie Anderson, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, among so many others.

Clearly, the choice of Swift, who has lived here for a matter of months and who appeals to the lowest common denominator, is a thoughtless act and is crass and poor marketing, even as it shows the desire to homogenize New York further as a destination for the tackiest kind of tourism.

The voice of the people of New York has long been silenced as corporate powers have invaded our city’s government.

We should turn our sights on who was behind this appointment because that person or persons is an enemy of New York and an enemy of New Yorkers. There is clearly an agenda to turn New York into a city for oligarchs, the ultra-rich and tourists.

New Yorkers rise up! Power to the people!
Penny Arcade

The Age of Kardashian

To The Editor:
Re “Swift as N.Y.C. ambassador is not welcome on the L.E.S.” (talking point, by Clayton Patterson, Nov. 27):

Taylor Swift’s ambassadorship was perfectly timed with the release of her album “1989.” She and her handlers are less concerned about New York and more concerned about her record sales. She is, after all, kicking Spotify’s ass.

There were so many other deserving New York celebrities that could have and should have been the face of N.Y.C. But everything is bought and sold these days. Money is the only culture left. It has permeated every cell, multiplying like cancer.

This is the age of Kim Kardashian — who is plastic, dumb, meritless, but a great marketer of this new celebrity-culture obsession. So, astute people bought her book of selfies.

Authenticity has vanished. New York City, the last holdout, has caved. It has finally and officially joined the mind-numbing, dumbing down-of-America movement.

Maybe Taylor Swift does make sense in this homogenized and moneyed New York?
Diem Boyd

Rotating ambassadors

To The Editor:
Re “Swift as N.Y.C. ambassador is not welcome on the L.E.S.” (talking point, by Clayton Patterson, Nov. 27):

The simplest way to put it — as Clayton seems to indicate — is not that there is one specific way of seeing New York City. Since government using artists to represent itself is always controversial, it seems that instead of having one cultural ambassador, there should be many rotating ambassadors, who would indicate the tremendous diversity of what has already been achieved, what is happening now, and what young artists hope for the future of New York. That would be bold and welcoming.

I’m a native New Yorker, more or less, but that’s why we stayed — because everyone who was interesting came here.
Matthew Kohn

Natives are restless

To The Editor:
Re “Swift as N.Y.C. ambassador is not welcome on the L.E.S.” (talking point, by Clayton Patterson, Nov. 27):

New York City started losing its soul when our accents started being replaced with Valley Girl speak in the 1980s. The selling of the city to real estate moguls over the years has led to the mallification of this town, as historic buildings and sites are demolished and as actual working-class and middle-class native New Yorkers have been forced out of their homes — because we don’t make six-figure salaries.

It’s another slap in the face to lifelong native New Yorkers that the city is now offering a nonnative New Yorker the position of ambassador. Being an ambassador implies you are from a given place. Taylor Swift is not from here.

There are many talented people who are from this gorgeously creative town. Why not give this position to someone who truly represents our essence?
Liz Pressman

Economics of bike-share

To The Editor:
Re “Bicycle shop owner says CitiBike mowed him down” (news article, Dec. 4):

Indy’s system is private, as is Nashville’s. Trek and Humana are involved. Alta Bike Sharing, a private company, operates dozens of bike-share programs across the country. To suggest that these are not private systems is just wrong. They are cases where large corporations can leverage assets and squeeze smaller players out of the market. That’s all well and good, unless they’re selling below cost. Then it’s predatory and in direct violation of federal antitrust law.
R.J. Sharpe

A hard look at murals

To The Editor:
Re “Chico loses Loisaida wall to New Jersey upstart” (news article, Nov. 27):

I agree with neighbors who feel that a space like the walls of RCN would more interestingly go to Lower East Side-based artists. By the way, I have run into Chico recently here in the L.E.S., so it seems he couldn’t stay away, and I would still count him as local.

I worked in a Mexican community and educational center, Casa Aztlan, in Chicago’s Pilsen area for a few years. I always noticed that the mural art there had a more noncommercial and a more overtly revolutionary bent than a lot of the public art on the L.E.S.

But the spin on pop culture that pervades a lot of our local murals does authentically reflect some tastes and values in our ’hood. I remember and miss the engaged art on the walls bordering Chico Mendez garden on E. 11th St. (and many other spaces now painted over). I’m glad socially relevant murals are preserved in La Plaza Cultural (“La lucha continúa!”) and beside Carmen’s currently languishing garden behind Casa Victoria on Avenue C between Seventh and Eighth. I wish such engagement didn’t seem like an idyll from another age!

There should be space for lots of artists. Why not paint subway cars again? Or fill the display panels inside the cars with art rather than ads?

Sorry to hear that RCN has been and continues to be disrespectful of artists and the community. They should hear the critique and respond in a positive way.
Elizabeth Ruf-Maldonado

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