Tag Archives: New York


Patti Smith brings the curtain down on the legendary punk venue.

84_PattiSmithcbgb_wireimage_L1.jpgAnother one bites the dust. Last night Patti Smith performed the last ever gig at CBGB featuring covers from NY City punk scene legends The Ramones and Blondie. Patti finished her set with Gloria. According to the BBC, a dispute over rent rises led owner Hilly Kristal to lose his lease, more than 30 years after the club opened.

Patti Smith said,

We can have CBGB in our hearts, but the new generation is going to have their own places to play. They’re going to find some shit hole and play in it like we did.

Photo source: NME.com.

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Reclaim the Space

Postal chairs courtesy of the Graffiti Research Lab reclaim public space in New York City.

postal chairs.jpgIn 1961, a New York City zoning board passed a regulation allowing developers and landlords to build additional rental floor space in exchange for providing public plazas and arcades on privately developed lots. This marked the advent of what has become known as “Privately Owned Public Space” in the city.

Over the last 40 years, “Incentive Zoning” as it is called has been instrumental to the creation of 503 plazas, arcades and other public areas which are concentrated primarily in the midtown area of Manhattan. In return, developers were allowed to build higher and wider structures and they received an estimated 20 million square feet of rental floor area.

When combined, “Privately Owned Public Spaces” have the potential to add an astonishing 824 acres or roughly 50 football fields to the public spaces utilized by New York residents.

This is according to Brendan J. FitzGerald of walkingtoursnyc.com. The site also quotes a three-and-half year study published in 2000 by Harvard Professor Jerold S. Kayden which found that 41% of “Privately Owned Public Spaces” were of “marginal utility” and “inaccessible or devoid of the kinds of amenities that attract public use.”

Taking these stats as a starting point, the Graffiti Research Lab have developed some ‘build your own’ chairs made out of postal boxes in order to reclaim these public spaces. [We note that they passed on using Fedex.]

A video of the chairs in action is viewable on the GRL site and, of course, on their Flickr photopool where you can also fall across lots of other examples of the clever outside-hacking stuff that GRL have done.

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Dark Disco

When Madonna went grunge… the Ciccone Youth album is re-released.

whitey.jpgBack in the days when Madonna had a sense of humour, grunge grandparents Sonic Youth did the fantastic art-rock-tribute/concept record The Whitey Album as Ciccone Youth. It’s Madonna with feedback. Sample track: “Get Into the Groove(y)” with Thurston droning all over Madonna’s pop vocals and a skiffley version of Burnin’ Up.

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Springtime for Flickr

How the internet is making the world a nicer place: Flickr’s awash with cherry blossom.

blossom.jpgWashington or Toyko, take your pic(k).

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Spot the Difference

The Guardian’s new Style page looks a lot like New York Magazine’s regular ‘Look Book’ column.

isabella-blow.jpgIsabella Blow features in today’s new look Guardian newspaper talking about her style (pictured). In New York Magazine this week, accessories designer Kirsten Yadouga features in the much-maligned ‘Look Book’ section talking about hers.

Also pictured – last week’s Look Book entry. ugly-guy-web.jpg

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RIP: New York Spray Can Memorials

Graffiti murals memorialise an age of violence.

ed-wall.jpgThe picture shows New York spray can memorial by Antonio ‘Chico’ Garcia, located on Bruckner Boulevard, off Brook Avenue, Mott Haven, Bronx. This was Chico’s first memorial portrait, for a high school friend called Ed. Ed was shot down in a hail of bullets in a drive by shooting near this empty lot. The Lower East Side mural has since been defaced by rival dealers.

This is just one of 100 plus such murals documented by Martha Cooper and Joseph Sciorra in their recent book, R.I.P.: New York Spraycan Memorials. The murals memorialise all manner of death in the mean streets of New York: drugs, shooting, wars, asthma deaths, traffic accidents and AIDS.

In the introduction, Sciorra writes:

The memorial wall transforms personal grief into shared public sentiment by serving as a vehicle for community affiliation and potential empowerment. Covering the expenses for materials and the artist’s labor is often a collective endeavor, with neighborhood residents making contributions in memory of one of their own. The murals create new public spaces for community ceremony. Life is celebrated at the walls with parties marking anniversaries and birthdays. These centers of congregation become rallying points of candlelight processions and demonstrations held by community people who march through the streets in opposition to violence, drugs or police brutality.

These neighborhood billboards are used to elicit critical examination of the root causes and solutions to the daily onslaught against inner-city youth. The Crown Heights Youth Collective in Brooklyn sponsors memorials in an aggressive campaign to cultivate alternatives to violence among the neighborhood’s Caribbean and African American kids.

The images in this book represent only a fraction of those we documented; they are a small part of the two thousand plus killing that occur each year in the city. Turn the page and witness a generation of sons and daughters — now gone.

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The Nomadic Museum

Currently moored at New York’s Pier 54

pier something.JPGThe site explains:

Recently relocated from Venice, the Nomadic Museum, designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, creates a 45,000-sq.-ft. space from the multi-colored steel shipping containers and recycled paper tubes — used to make the roof.

‘Ashes and Snow’ a multi-media exhibit by artist Gregory Colbert, opens on March 5 in the Nomadic Museum and runs through June 6. The exhibit includes 199 large-scale photographs and a one-hour 35-mm film edited by Oscar winner Pietro Scalia and narrated by actor Lawrence Fishburne

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i’m sorry

The strange story of the apology line

An agnostic reponse to the need to apologise: in 1980 a New Yorker named Allan Bridge set up a telephone line that he called “The Apology Line””

The full story and transcripts from phone calls made to it are here

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public art pays

The Economist reports that ‘The Gates’ in Central Park generated some $254m for the city

Christo and Jean-Claude’s installation in Central Park, The Gates, was responsible for a surge in visitors to New York during a traditionally slow travel month, generating three times the spending that City Hall expected: some $254m

‘The Gates’ attracted over 4m visitors to Central Park during the two weeks it was up, a tremendous gain over the 750,000 people who usually visit in that period. Hotel occupancy rates were near 90%, compared with 70% at the same time last year. Elsewhere, international tourists increased 74%, spiking attendance in local restaurants and museums. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has a roof garden overlooking Central Park, had a 90% jump in visitors.) Even Broadway felt the impact: ticket sales increased 17% during the first week of ‘The Gates’. Carriage drivers usually stable their horses in winter, but this February they were hardly ever without passengers.

‘The Gates’ didn’t even cost the city anything to install since Christo and Jeanne-Claude funded the $21m project themselves. Some 1,100 workers were paid to install, maintain, secure and remove the piece, with everything dissembled by March 15th.

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