As a tour guide I am supposed to tell people how wonderful New York City is...I do. But they don’t see that Harlem is now only 40% black, overrun by self-righteous white yuppies renovating Harlem’s brownstones pushing the original residents out. Greenwich Village once an epicenter of gay culture, dance clubs, cool quirky shops, cutting edge boutiques is now devoid of anything gay, buried in GAP, Polo, Starbucks, Sephora, Michael Kors, more GAP, more Polo, more Michael Kors. (Btw, Michael Kors being a screaming queen doesn’t count.)
The mushroom rate of the ‘space needle’ über high, über rich residential high rises on 57th and 58th Streets will put parts of Central Park’s south end into permanent shadow at certain times of the year. Jackie Onassis is turning in her grave.
Jackie O. would also be horrified to discover that grand Central Terminal is to be encased in super tall, super glassy high rises, therefore dwarfing the spectacular station, reducing it to a needle in a haystack.
Tribeca and Soho once filled with artists and art spaces are now filled with tourists artfully shopping. Times Square has become a 2nd rate shopping mall filled with Elmos badgering your for $5 photos. The lower east side aka ‘the Bowery’ is rapidly loosing any trace of our large immigrant history. It IS filled with our ‘new immigrants’ the young rich, spacey Millennials, trust fund babies and tech company millionaires. Apartments costing $1 million in the Bowery are cheap.
Little Italy is nothing but 6 or so blocks of Italian restaurants trying to hang on while the Chinese and the stores of Soho eat up their once large thriving Italian neighborhood. Fuggedaboudit.
New York’s harbor was once the busiest harbor in the world. Today, with a combination of damage from hurricane Sandy and the sheer greed of the Bloomberg/DeBlasio real estate ‘developers’, in South Street Seaport nothing will be left but a few gratuitous red brick buildings and only one old sailing ship to be now surrounded by a mirror glass ersatz ‘Pier 17’ and two gigantically tall mirror glass ‘luxury towers’ encroaching on America’s historical land mark the Brooklyn Bridge.
Go to Brooklyn then you say? Oh no, that is being gentrified at a hyper speed such has been never witnessed before in America. The foot of the Brooklyn Bridge is now being encased in a towering glass apartment building in DUMBO and the once spectacular view of the bridge from the Brooklyn Heights promenade is now obliterated by a gigantic apartment complex. If anyone would have told me that one day the views of the Brooklyn Bridge will be gone, I’da said you’re nuts.
Further in Brooklyn, whites buying $1+ million town homes in Bedford–Stuyvesant is now the norm. What was once our largest African American neighborhood, now has it’s residents being forced to go back to their Southern roots where they might be able to afford the rent. Meanwhile ultra hipster Williamsburg battles it out with ultra orthodox Satmar Jewish Williamsburg for real estate, who will win is anybody’s guess.
Hey, but Hans you’re safe in Queens. Not so, as my neighborhood fights off the flood of ‘poor upper middle class’ who can’t quite afford the $500,000 to $1 million dollar glass towers of the East River’s Long Island City. One by one we are seeing the affordable shops disappear, street vendors forbidden and a slimey corrupt councilman like Jimmy Van Bramer sign off on real estate deals wiping places like the spectacular 5 Pointz Graffiti Museum and the immigrant’s car-repair shops of Willet’s Point off the map while he brown noses his way up in the mayor’s administration.
If anyone has noticed, I haven’t posted daily “Photos of the Day” since mid June, I needed time to reflect. I will continue to tell people how ‘wonderful’ New York is, but I will also tell them that the city is an illusion, a big grand, sparkling, smoke & mirrors illusion. With my camera I will try to find something worth capturing that someone’s cell phone camera has not. My main concentration will be on researching and writing a book about my Von Rittern land baron roots in Bremen, Germany, and a second book on my Broadway stage door memories.
In the meanwhile, my German guests, while taking my tours say to me, “Sadly, it’s happening in Germany too, capture it while you can.”
The paintings are beautiful…even the photographs are beautiful (and selling) !
My dear friends Tom Orzo, Mindy Cassle-Rosato, of course Mom, Deborah Blau and Frederica Meister all came for the grand opening party of the 5 Pointz “Whitewash” exhibit that I am a part of! Why don’t you join the ranks of graffiti lovers, street art lovers, preservationists and the passionate and check out my 16 photos along with the fantastic works of artists Auks, Cortes, Jerms, Just One, Meres, Orestes, Shiro, See TF, Topaz, Zimad, Hunt Rodriguez proving art is forever! A mourning and celebration of the destruction of the world’s most spectacular street art museum. $20 catalog available for sale in the gift shop.
Fremde, etranger, stranger.
Gluklich zu sehen, je suis enchante,
Happy to see you, bleibe, reste, spray paint!
Photos of the weekend: WHITEWASH – Jeffrey Leder Gallery, 2137 45th Road a few steps away from the #7 train Court Street Station, April 5, 6-9pm. All my friends are invited to celebrate! http://www.timeout.com/newyork/art/5-pointz-is-backon-gallery-walls-at-least?fb_action_ids=4088797314782&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_ref=.Uz620EaI39U.like&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582 — at Jeffrey Leder Gallery.
Jeffrey Leder Gallery: 2137 45th Road, 2 blocks from 5 Pointz and PSI MOMA.
Long Island City, New York 11101
Contributing Artists: Auks, Cortes, Hans Von Rittern, Jerms, Meres One, Orestes Gonzalez, Poem, Shiro, See TF, Topaz, Zimad.
Contributing Artists: Auks, Cortes, Hans Von Rittern, Jerms, Meres One, Orestes Gonzalez, Poem, Shiro, See TF, Topaz, Zimad
Curated by Marie Cecile-Flageul
April 5 – June 8, 2014
Opening reception April 5, 6-9pm! Come join me – you’re invited!!
To read more click http://www.jeffreyledergallery.com/whitewash.php
The extremely cold 10°F degree weather added to the morbid feeling in the air. Only a few of the die hard regulars showed up including Meres One and Marie Flageul to join co-owners Maureen and Salah for a final round of drinks. To my surprise, as I arrived I was greeted by water dripping down from the ceiling. The frigid temperatures had burst the pipes and was flooding the bar. The water had been shut off but it was still ‘raining’ inside the bar. The water from above had damaged the juke box with Meres’ disco favorites causing the sound to go from high to low every few seconds only adding to the eerie feel of the night.
During the evening Marie stepped out for her usual cigarette, as she stood in front of the bar she observed a pigeon flying towards the building to seek refuge form the cold, and seconds before it could reach the building, it simply fell out of the sky succumbing to hypothermia. Marie’s mission was to rescue the bird. We got a box, lined it with tissue paper and gently placed it in the box. It did not even resist. We placed it in the back hoping it would warm up. (It was in desperate need of sleep as well.) Every so often we would check to see if Marie’s pigeon was reviving, it barely was, but towards the end of the night was fluffing itself up, a hopeful sign. As a final act of kindness, Meres and Marie took the pigeon to their garage to let it warm up and revive. Two days later it flew off to join the world again.
Meres and Marie and all the fantastic 5 Pointz crew are greatly symbolized by our little pigeon – we may be down, but with a little help from our friends – we are not out. Maureen and Salah will reopen at a new nearby location at 21-59 44th Drive, off of 21st Street soon. 5 Pointz will rise again like a phoenix (or our pigeon) and with the creative force of the artists and minds behind Meres and Marie, look out for a brighter and bolder future for Pointz! !
Take the free shuttle bus from Queensboro Place. Get off Court Street stop. Walk following the rail line towards 5 Pointz.
Photos of the day: MODERN DAY HITLER VANDALIZES ‘DEGENERATE ART’ AT 5 POINTZ:
Tuesday November 19, 2013 is a day I will not long forget. It was a twist of events and cruel fate that brought many powers of good and evil together.
My dear friend and fellow tour guide Tom Orzo and I picked up 6 German tourist guests at the Queen Mary 2 at the Brooklyn piers for a 3 hour city tour. Normally Tom and I end our tour with a surprise visit to 5Pointz. Since we were coming from Brooklyn, Tom (doing the driving) insisted we make 5Pointz our first fateful stop. At 10:45 we were heading down Jackson Avenue when Tom kept calling out “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!”. I thought it was his over-reaction to a smaller building in front of the Graffiti Museum that was being torn down. My back was to the museum, I’m facing my German guests telling them how extraordinary a site they are about to see. Now I realize their faces seemed odd and puzzled, so I turn around to the shock of seeing men on high cranes slopping white paint all over the building, obliterating 12 years of spectacular intricate art. I quickly got out to see if I recognized anyone.
I ran back to the van and we sped to the main loading dock/entrance to the building. And there it was, a vandalized, obliterated work of art – 12+ years destroyed. I ripped open the door to the van and ran into the arms of curator Marie Flaguel and held her as tightly as I could. I cried deep from the gut. I couldn’t stop, I could not speak, I kept gasping for air. I was afraid to let go for fear of seeing Marie’s face. Finally I had to. “It’s all gone…” she said as tears streamed down her face. The owner Jerry Wolkoff, the same man who had asked the artists to paint the murals on his building, had hired non union thugs to destroy over 1,500 pieces of art outside and even throughout the entire inside of the building. Murals that would take your breath away now had erratic white brush strokes all over them. Oddly enough, the greater more powerful murals – had extra coats of white paint over them, it was deliberate, fearful, vindictive and hateful. How do you find words in a moment when you realize it was one of the greatest mass desecrations of art in the 21st Century. An art genocide.
As Marie was filling me in on what happened, one of my German guests, Andrea Pröscholdt-Krulich, ran over in tears. “Why?! Warum?!” she kept asking. She was quite shaken. You see – her son was a graffiti artist who had recently committed suicide. She had planned on this trip to New York to visit 5Pointz to pay homage to her son. She never thought that a ‘routine Manhattan city tour’ would have included our surprise visit here. Andrea and my guests were stunned at the amount of press around us and the unexplainable goings on. They looked on in wonderment – here they were in ‘free’ America’, in ‘progressive’ New York and they were watching Hitler-like tactics unfold before their stunned eyes. Some of my older guests were survivors of World War II. I had to get back on the coach and explain what was happening. Then I realized something. I was with a group of Germans, some of whom had been through a time in Germany when Hitler from 1936 to 1937 rounded up all “modern” art – “Entartete Kunst“ and declared it ‘degenerate’ and had it all destroyed. Over 5,000 works were seized, including 1,052 by Emil Nolde, 759 by Heckel, 639 by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and 508 by Max Beckman, as well as smaller numbers of works by such artists as Alexander Archipenko, Chagall, James Ensor, Matisse, Picasso and even Van Gogh. What Jerry Wolkoff did was no different!
But we were not there to mourn the destruction of the museum, their clock was ticking and I was there paid to give a tour. We continued with our tour, but every time we came to a red light or got stuck in traffic, the conversation always went back to the disbelief of 5Pointz. We dropped off our guests and I headed to a candle light vigil that was held at 5pm.
The vigil’s atmosphere was like a tomb, what had been vibrant was dead. At night the ‘white” was even more ‘deadly’ and eerie. People kept coming, looking up in silent tearful disbelief and anger. Poster boards were taped onto the building for us to leave our messages. The purpose of the posters is – we will never ever again grace his walls with a single piece of art, line, scribble name or even a dot. Wolkoff had the audacity to claim he too cried. He claimed he had done this so the artist wouldn’t have had the pain of seeing their art work torn down over a period of months. This scumbag reasoning is because he was afraid of the momentum we were gaining. On last Sunday’s rally, when 5Pointz was packed, Marie and Meres (co-curators) had gathered over 1,000 signed petitions in ONE day, to have the building land marked and saved. The owner Wolkoff cleverly erased the value of the building. Let us also not forget, the approval of the two twin glass towers that he plans to build on the same spot were approved by the weasel of a lying two-faced councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, the lowest form of politician there is: big smiling child like innocent face, with his hand holding a knife behind his back, ready to strike for his financial gain. Wolkoff and Bramer – greed is the intoxicant but karma is the bitch.
So joining the ranks now of Picasso, Matisse and Van Gogh are artists Onur Dinc, Esteban Del Valle, Meres One, Spidertag, Kidlew, Kkade, Rubin, Aka Shiro, Veronique Barrilot, Contort, Jekl and Dyzer5, Bisco, Bishop203, Just One, Leias, Zeso, and Zimad, Lord Roc, Bisc1, one of my favorites Carlos “See TF” Game and so, so many, many more. Who is anyone to say they aren’t the next Keith Harring, Basquiat, or Matisse? It is a knife in the soul of a fading New York.