Saw someone peeling potatoes on the F train. NYC is wild.
Saw someone peeling potatoes on the F train. NYC is wild.
Chop and Quench: The Fela Band performing at Knitting Factory
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The Malcolm Shabazz Mosque in Harlem.
Fatoumata Diawara performing at the Africa Now Festival at the Apollo Theater.
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Now that the warmer temperatures melted most of the snow and ice, there are mountains of defrosted dog shit all over the place. I really don’t get these careless dog owners. Your dog is your responsibility. Who are you leaving your dog’s shit for? How can you not mind dog shit all over your own neighborhood? You have to live here too.
It’s times like this where I wish I lived in a cabin, secluded from most of humanity. Many people don’t think this is a big deal, and it’s infuriating as hell. Apparently, I’m one of the last people in NYC who doesn’t want their sidewalks and streets littered with feces.
In a snow-covered park in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx, an enclosed cemetery in the park’s center evokes a much different neighborhood from the one now jammed with auto-glass shops and wholesale produce markets. Headstones engraved with “Hunt” and “Leggett” hark back to the 18th and 19th centuries, when prominent New York families had mansions in the still-rural Bronx.
But a group of students and teachers from nearby Public School 48 may have discovered another piece of New York City history at Joseph Rodman Drake Park, one long forgotten: an African slave burial ground. Poring over census data, maps, photographs and wills, the students identified an area outside the handsome wrought-iron fence surrounding the cemetery as the likely site of the final resting place for scores of slaves.
I know about change. Change is inevitable and it’s a part of life, but sometimes the change that occurs isn’t natural. It feels sinister. It feels planned. It feels like white supremacy run amok. This is how I feel about gentrification.
One neighborhood being heavily gentrified is the St. George section of Staten Island. It’s a short (25 minute free ferry) and scenic commute to downtown Manhattan, so it’s very appealing to Wall Street types and people who work in the Financial District in Manhattan. A very nice, spacious 1 bedroom apartment would run you $600 a month back in 2005. This was before the neighborhood had trendy bars, coffee shops and things of that nature. The opening of the S.I. Yankees Stadium was a sign that things were about to start changing, and that developers had certain goals in mind, and they didn’t include the residents. They arrogantly touted in their plans for the area that they wanted to attract “upwardly mobile people” (which is code for rich white folks).
The people who lived in St. George were the “salt of the earth” types. People who would offer you a beer or something to drink if you walked by their stoop. They said hello. They asked you about your family. They told you to say hi to your parents.You could work at McDonald’s and still be able to have a roof over your head if you had a roommate. Imagine that. A minimum wage worker being able to sustain themselves. It wasn’t that long ago, but those days are gone. The building that was for after school programs for at-risk youth is gone, and so are most of the facilities and social programs that helped people. In their place are luxury condos and apartments. You certainly can’t work at McDonald’s and be able to afford to live there anymore. I looked at the building where $600 a month could get you a nice 1 bedroom; they now want around $1,800 a month. Brokers market the apartments as having “gorgeous views of Manhattan”. It’s the same view that has always been there, but that means something to the new wave of people. It was meaningless to the people who lived there before.
The “salt of the earth” types cannot afford to live in places where they have literally lived for generations. Now, it’s all bankers and their families. No one offers you a drink if you walk by. They shut their doors instead. They won’t talk to the people who they haven’t yet run out of town. They don’t say hello, and sometimes they will call the police to say you’re “loitering”. I’ll never forget this man who called the cops on a bunch of girls playing double dutch on the sidewalk. He said they were loitering. An absurd notion in NYC since you don’t own the sidewalks, and people do hang out on stoops and kids play double dutch outside. That’s about as New York as stickball and opening fire hydrants on a hot summer day. It’s not loitering. Only an outsider wouldn’t know that. Now they are complaining about the few music venues still operating that haven’t been turned into fancy coffee shops, duane reade or something “kid friendly”.
We tend to talk about gentrification in the abstract, but it’s quite another thing to witness entire communities of black people with roots to an area washed away with such devastating force and rapidity. What makes it even more infuriating is the helplessness of it all. You feel powerless against a force that is hellbent on steamrolling you over and settling in a place you once called home. You will also deal with some black folks who don’t have foresight to see what is happening (or perhaps they don’t want to see it, so they delude themselves). They will say things like “it’s good for the community and there will be jobs”. They say things like that not realizing that they too have no future the revamped community and the revamping isn’t done with them in mind. They too will be refugees in their own community. It’s just a matter of time before they get priced out and they will become the outsiders in an area that was once their stomping ground.
Gentrification is violence.
I have a confession. I’m a New Yorker that doesn’t mind pineapple on pizza. I’ll take it a step further; I fucking love it! For far too long, New Yorkers who enjoy pineapple on their pizza have been bullied into silence. We are looked at with contempt. We are mocked for daring to like this culinary perfection. Mention pineapple on pizza to an “authentic” New Yorker, and you’ll be on the receiving end of their condescending gaze and judgment. They’ll start reciting rules about pizza, and what you can and can’t put on it, like there was an ancient holy decree that made their opinions ironclad.
There’s this restaurant called Pulino’s where they slap sunny side up eggs on top of pizzas, along with many other unconventional toppings. Many “authentic” New Yorkers whined about it, while everyone else was enjoying some tasty ass pizza. The pizza there is amazing, but New Yorkers wanna wax poetic about foldable slices. I like the classic foldable slices too, but you can like more than one thing. It’s ok. An “authentic” New Yorker is the type of person who will go to Naples, Italy and tell them that their Neapolitan pizza isn’t up to their standards.
One thing I’ve learned about New Yorkers and pizza is that they are very judgmental and territorial about it. Mention Chicago deep dish, and watch them go off. As for me, I’ll eat any pizza that comes my way. I’m not gonna sit here and argue about delicious food. For what? Who has time for that? Shut up and start slicing the pizza. No one cares about your pizza rules. Oh, so you’re not gonna eat that Hawaiian pizza because it’s been “tainted” with pineapple? Fine, more pizza for me then…lol
Slave gravesite in New York City
“SOMETHING YOUR TOUR GUIDE MIGHT NOT TELL YOU:
The heart of NYC’s Financial District is built on a huge 18th century African Burial Ground. Some 419 Africans were discovered in 1991, a large portion women and children.
The burial ground extends from Broadway Southward under City Hall, and almost to the site of the former World Trade Center. It is believed that there are as many as 20,000 slavery-era Africans in graves under the buildings in Lower Manhattan.
Abolish historical amnesia and ponder for a moment the fact that this financial epicenter of the world is built on slavery, oppression, and death.”
Literally, and daily.
yo. that last sentence hits you in the face like a brick.
After the New York Times published an emotional, five-part series on a homeless 11-year-old girl named Dasani growing up in the city’s shelters, many New Yorkers reacted passionately. Among them was Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, who called the status quo unacceptable and vowed last week to change the city’s approach when he takes office next year.
Asked today if he was similarly moved by the story, current Mayor Michael Bloomberg told Politicker he’d had a different reaction.
“This kid was dealt a bad hand. I don’t know quite why. That’s just the way God works. Sometimes some of us are lucky and some of us are not,” he said.
"But if you are poor and homeless you’d be better off in New York City than anyplace else.” Mayor Bloomberg
Anyone who thinks those Central Park horse carriage rides are romantic have never been behind one when the horse farted.
Standing in the dining room of the early 1900s-era brick rowhouse, deep in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn with not a frozen yogurt shop or Starbucks to be found, Alan Dixon, an investor from Australia, struggled to tally the houses he had bought in the area over the last year.
Alan Dixon of Australian-based Dixon Advisory is leading investments in residential properties in the New York area.“What, 70? 72?” he asked, raising his eyebrows in question at a group of investors, contractors and designers standing nearby. A dozen construction workers scurried around, fastening plasterboard to walls and laying tile on floors, readying the four-bedroom house that the group purchased in June for $635,000 for leasing in less than two weeks’ time for as much as $5,490 a month.
When I tell people outside of NYC that it is getting critical in terms of housing for everyone but the wealthy, they don’t believe me. It’s really unbelievable what is happening here. This is Bloomberg’s NYC, and the damage that he’s done cannot be fixed. It has changed the landscape completely. This man served three terms as mayor, when it should have been two. He petitioned and found a way to add an extra term, because when you are a billionaire, the rules don’t apply to you.
In large part, this situation is the fault of many New Yorkers. If this sounds like blaming the victim, then good. Some of them are partially to blame. They were out here singing Bloomberg’s praises. How many times did I hear "Bloomberg should be the mayor. He’s smart and he runs a successful business. Look how rich he is. We need someone with financial savvy." People would argue you to death with this point, like it was valid. This is a problem in thinking that plagues many of the middle class and working poor. Some of them really think that business acumen means everything and that it means that you will be a good leader in all situations. Like running a corporation aimed at the bottomline is the same as being a mayor. The last person I want calling the shots in my day to day life is a financial exec, are you serious? Business acumen in capitalism means enriching yourself and your investors, often at the expense of your workers. If maximizing the bottomline means firing 10,000 people and using offshore outsourcing for production so the gravy train will continue for the people at the top, then they will do it. They don’t give a fuck about people on the bottom. Well, Bloomberg somehow still got a little over 50% of the votes from NYC voters for a third term, and it’s why he’s still here. People voted this megalomaniac in.
That cutthroat, business mentality is now pervasive in housing. If one rich fool is willing to pay $5,000 a month for a “luxury apartment” in a neighborhood that used to be predominantly black and brown, it doesn’t matter if everyone else can’t. There will always be that person who will, and people like them end up pricing everyone out. This is where we are.
In an old apartment in St. George on Staten Island that I stayed in, rent was $600 a month in 2003. If you had a roommate, you could work at McDonald’s and still be able to live there. Now? That same place is $1,900+ a month for a one bedroom and you need to get on a waiting list. That complex used to be all college students, waitresses, artists, musicians, young people getting their first place and working class people. Now? It’s all Wall Street bankers and corporate types. I have a friend who works in Hoboken. He told me that there are some apartments there that are up to $4,000 a month. Who the hell pays $4,000 a month to live in Hoboken? Bankers do. Why don’t they stay in Manhattan? All those luxury buildings are half empty, and they can clearly afford it. No, they want to go to places where people have to live because it’s all they can afford, and then they make it unaffordable for everyone but themselves. My friend’s uncle said that pricing people out of their own neighborhoods is just a legal way of carrying out ethnic cleansing. I believe him.
A big chunk of the people complaining about 5pointz are gentrifiers themselves. I was near a cafe not far from the S.I. Ferry, and they were talking about 5Pointz and how sad it is. That entire area of St. George in Staten Island is a giant gentrification zone. All the bankers, corporate types and white families with strollers are there because black and brown people have been priced out of the area. They got the luxury buildings and views of the Manhattan skyline and NY Harbor they wanted at the expense of black and brown communities.
They built a Staten Island Yankees stadium a few years ago which displaced many poor people who saw their rents triple in some cases. That happened. Everything that was there before is gone, and all that is left is soulless, cookie cutter expensive apartments. Yet, here they are lamenting 5Pointz, completely oblivious to the fact that what happened to 5pointz is what they did to the neighborhood they live in. The methadone clinic that used to help addicts is now a fancy cafe. The building that had an after-school program that used to help at risk youth is now an upscale bar. I’m supposed to think some Wall street banker gives a shit about 5Pointz? The whole thing is rather disingenuous. They see no correlation between themselves and things like this. Absolutely none.
The walls of 5Pointz are being buffed, to add insult to injury.
The sentence ‘5Pointz painted white before becoming luxury condos’ perfectly describes gentrification.