Coping with the Election: Five Tattoos in Two Days

As each new news day brings me a bit closer to the reality of President Romney, I seek distraction. I found some last weekend at Magic Cobra Tattoo Society and Three Kings, where I got five tattoos in two days. The pain that I’m used to distracted me from the debates. I keep wondering what kind of retarded hermit could be "undecided" at this point. It seems that Ohio will decide it all, and I rue that day when people in Ohio decide my fate. I spent a year in Cleveland one night and Akron made Cleveland seem like Vegas. Don’t get me started on Cincinnati.

I remember that horrible election night when Bush beat Gore or whatever happened. I was at Spa where we were hosting Hillary Clinton’s victory bash. Ben Affleck was there, and I kept bringing him into the office where Florida was the decider. By the way, Mr. Affleck is the nicest guy in the world. He was in tears as victory turned into defeat. Now I am fearful again. It seems like déjà vu, and no amount of ink will save me, although I’m getting another  tattoo this weekend. For this election, I will head to White Rabbit, 145 E. Houston St., to pray as WashMachine presents Electoral Ruckus. My pal Joy Rider is part of the crew hosting this affair, and she always delivers and has a nice shoulder for me to cry on if it comes to that. Not sure what’s happening at the event, but here’s what they say:

Hot wire the coverage, hijack the commercials, and re-edit real time: live audio/video manipulation of Election Day TV broadcasts by sound artist Jason Candler and experimental filmmaker Jimi Pantalon. Making your vote count all night long w/ DJs Cru Jones and The Butcha.

This sounds like fun. Until then I’ll check out my pal Clair Reilly-Roe at Aroma Espresso Bar, 161 W. 72nd St., tonight at 8pm or probably head back to Magic Cobra for a Hope tattoo. I was there the other night for the Paul Nathan book signing event hosted by Sailor Jerry Rum. Joe Truck, who owns the joint but now spends most of his time out west, and I compared notes on old places and old friends. It seems like we have been in the same room at the same time a zillion times. And it’ll probably happen again since I saw this killer Picasso tattoo he did and now I want it. My regular artist at the shop Adam Korothy is off to New Orleans for a convention. I’m very worried, and there aren’t enough tattoos or Sailor Jerry Rum or singers at coffee shops to calm me down. Halloween might help…more on that tomorrow.

NYC Culture Just Got Hotter: Launch of Tattoo Photo Book & Art Show By Former BlackBook Editor

I guess I have to come back. Paradise is where you make it, but I have gotten used to the sand, surf, and sun, and the generally slow pace of this wonderful island. Alas, I will walk among you tomorrow morning. There are two events of interest: Tomorrow, Saatchi & Saatchi are hosting a soiree from 6pm to 10pm for the launch of photography book Generation Ink: Williamsburg, featuring photos of 20-somethings and their tattoos by Paul Nathan. The Dough Rollers are performing, and my gang from Magic Cobra Tattoo Society will be doing what they usually do on Driggs and S. 3rd. Sailor Jerry Rum will provide the courage. It’s kind of ironic that this event is taking place in Manhattan, 375 Hudson St. Manhattan is that place where cool kids slum. Paul Nathan will be taking a portrait of people who buy his book at the event.

Tonight is the opening reception for art exhibit “Bad w/$”  at 443 PAS (443 Park Avenue South). The hubbub is about a solo show of work by Fernando Cwilich Gil that “continues his longstanding exploration of wealth and poverty through painting, design, and media." The show will run until New Year’s Day. Tonight’s opening reception will run from 6pm to 8pm. Gil was the dude who brought me to BlackBook, so you can blame him. Since I am traveling I’m just going to paste the show’s one-sheet onto my column and go back to the beach.

…Gil is the owner of Buenos Aires-based Liquid Assets Paint & Pigment Company, a functional/conceptual company established in 1997 that manufactures and sells artist paint made from 100% pure currency pigment (liquidassetspaint.com). In 2012, Gil began working with neuroscientists from the Universidad de Buenos Aires to measure cognitive visual capacity in a dynamic online environment. A beta version of the project can be found attdma.tv. Both of the above projects will be featured in Bad w/$, along with traditional paintings.

Gil (b. 1977 in Argentina) lives and works in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro) In 2002 he conceived and co-founded ProyectArte, a Buenos Aires-based nonprofit that provides fine art training to poor young people in South America. He is the founder of the Prima Gallery in Buenos Aires. His work has been show extensively in the Americas and Europe, where he has also left his mark in the more traditional media world as an editor and creative director for print, broadcast and online media for clients such as Adidas, Heineken, Nike, LVMH, and others. He has also served as editor of BlackBook and as a reporter for the New York Post, and has written for many other media.

13 Questions for Friday the 13th

It is Friday the 13th and, yes, I am getting a "13 ball" tattooed on my arm from Magic Cobra Tattoo Society.  The line on Driggs and South 1st was long and totally fun for the inexpensive permanents. They ink for 24 hours starting at midnight and I gave them mixed CDs for the occasion …some biker/tattoo music to ease the pain.

It may be Triskaidekaphobia that has me not willing to write today, to commit to a story, say anything I might regret later. I was up until 8am at Magic Cobra haven and woken at 7am Thursday morning. That question from Dirty Harry keeps banging around in my head "…But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky? Well do ya, punk?’” Well I feel anything but lucky today and the entire world away from my pillow feels like a .44 Magnum; I am absolutely feeling like a punk, so forgive me if I keep this to 13 possibly dumb questions with uneven answers.

Q1) Was it the luck of the Irish that got that fabulous Ballinger crew open almost immediately at Webster Hall after a stabbing at a hardcore show, while  Greenhouse/W.i.P. got shuttered harder and longer for a bottle-throwing incident?
A1) I think it’s a matter of a long history of working well with the community that has Webster doing its thing, while Greenhouse has been way more annoying to some. The fact that the Webster stabber and stabbees were white and the bottle throwers and brawlers at Greenhouse were black never crossed my mind.

Q2) Are the rumors that Pink Elephant may close for August true, and was it bad luck or bad planning to open a Euro-based club in the beginning of the summer or was it planned like this all along?
A2) I’m too tired to ask them the question today and you know what will be said anyway.

Q3) Is The Double Seven just being unlucky or is it the weather, or is it just fabulous and not as confused as my personal confusion perceives it?  A source who made me swear to say nothing about what he told me about The Double Seven will be happy that I respect his wishes.
A3) Mark Baker and crew will tell me how wonderful it is over there if I had the strength to pick up the phone so why should I bother to call?

Q4) So why can’t they call it Bungalow 8 and what did Amy Sacco ever do to be the focus of such silliness?
A4) She is so fabulous and smart and fun and if they want to call it "8"…wink, wink, I’m going to go anyway. Hey, they can call it 13 and I’m there.

Q5) Is the Xtravaganza Ball really going to happen next Sunday, July 22, and have they really asked me to be a judge?
A5) OMG ! Yes ! What to wear? I must look …legendary.

Q6) Have those wonderful and erotic Domi Dollz fallen into a pile of good luck now that every skirt on the planet has read Fifty Shades of Grey?
A6) I missed their monthly soiree/seminar this past Thursday at the Museum of Sex but predict they may soon need to get a bigger room to whip those novices into shape.

[Editor’s Note: I went, and it was amazing. Those Dollz know how to whip you and their leather-collared, half-naked boys into shape.]

Q7) Am I really going to do 13 of these?
A7) No, seven is more than half of 13, I think… and considering the condition my tattoo is in, it’s all you can expect. I’m going to crash…get my tattoo from Adam Korothy at Magic Cobra, rinse, and repeat.

Save Domino Leads Williamsburg’s Fight Against Overdevelopment

The rain did little to dampen the spirits of the crowd outside Magic Cobra Tattoo Society in Williamsburg at 4am last night. It was the wee hours of Friday the 13th—a typical Brooklyn 24-hour tattoo marathon. Big drinking holidays like New Year’s and Halloween are slow days in the ink biz. But Friday the 13th’s are big. There was a three-hour wait, but a hot Brooklyn crowd saw it as an event.

DJ and fashion statement Valissa Yoe held court, Vala Durvett, the manager of The DL, popped in after work. New Raven GM, ex-Le Baron, ex-subMercer Armando Alexander blistered with a Fiona Apple handbag.

Luca Venezia (a.k.a. Drop the Lime), founder of dance label Trouble and Bass got a ladder with 13 steps. He will be celebrating the 7th anniversary of his party at Sullivan Room tonight. He told me he has brought in old-school Brit rave duo Altern-8 to play along with Jesse Rose and Oliver Dollar. James DeLuca scurried over after his gig at Clockwork.

It was like that. Club employees who sleep in BBurg riding the wave of fun. Williamsburg is all things to some people. It is a ghetto of love for those who call it home. The restaurants are mostly good and reasonable. The boutiques and even delis cater to a mindset long ago abandoned in Manhattan. This is all in danger. New building development along the waterfront promises to bring hordes of the less fabulous as 40-story dormitories for slaves are being planned.

The problem is that the ‘hoods are overcrowded as it is now, with pockets of new construction everywhere. Rents are near Manhattan level or more and the artistic, creative types who gathered by the Vagina Tree in McCarren Park and other landmarks can’t afford to live here anymore. There are lines to get on the L train in the morning rush. It’s hard for anyone to complain as the hipsters displaced the Latinos, Polish and Italians in a gentrification wave that started around a decade ago.

At Magic Cobra, the crowd was indifferent to the dilemma, coming down off work or drinks and merely wondering what $20 tat to get. For the record, I got a snail with the number 13 formed in its slime. Amanda got a diamond on her finger. She hinted she always wanted one there. Inside, hordes of tattoo artists—including Adam Korothy, Joe Truck, Kati Vaughn and Woodz—satisfied all with 13-related ink. They’re still there as I write this.

There are people out there trying to stop this lifestyle-threatening development. A culture is at stake. Tomorrow, Main Drag Music and Save Domino (a not-for-profit community group fighting the proposed demolition of the Domino Sugar Refinery to make room for an additional 2,200 luxury apartments) are co-hosting a magical rooftop show "to celebrate the diversity and culture of Williamsburg" at 330 Wythe Avenue starting at 4:30pm and running till midnight. Comedian Seth Herzog will headline. Bands include Dragons of Zynth, See Through, Desert Stars and Heaven.

I asked local hero Janelle Best, the event’s co-organizer, to give me her three cents:

"This event is a protest concert. I am a musician who has lived in the area for at least a decade. Change is inevitable, and over the last decade a lot of change has occurred: Local businesses have flourished, turning our neighborhood into a cultural aesthetically pleasing place to live, which is definitely a plus. But the waterfront development is a huge crisis. They are going to be building 40-story buildings along what is considered a floodzone, almost doubling our population. And now all of what makes Williamsburg interesting and alluring is being pushed out. Businesses are unable to afford rent and greedy brokers are finding corporate businesses who can afford the rent to come in. As artists, we are all about aesthetics, and the aesthetics and charm of our neighborhood is vanishing. Our rents are getting too high and eventually the musicians and artists are going to be pushed out as well. Many have already left the neighborhood. It was easy to reach out and get my fellow band pals to hop on this event because it is a matter close to all our hearts. We want to protest the overdevelopment of our neighborhood and bring more awareness to the community."

I also had a chance to ask Save Domino founder Rufus some questions.

What’s the mission of Save Domino?
We at Save Domino have built a grassroots campaign that takes a hard look at overdevelopment occurring in our community: Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Since our inception, we have garnered thousands of supporters via our online petition at www.savedomino.org and from our canvassing street teams in all five boroughs. Our aim is to preserve and protect the cultural integrity of the Brooklyn waterfront from exploitative new developments. Our objective is to expose developers with the support of our friends and Council Member Steve Levin (District 33 Democrat) who has promised to uphold the vision of outgoing New York City Planning chair Amanda M. Burden. Levin has gone on record insisting our community needs to have much better and affordable housing options, culture, living wage jobs and more open green spaces. 

Do you think that’s possible?
It’s very possible now that New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn will no longer stand in the way of our councilman, who can assuredly make decisions for himself—keeping in mind the best interests of our community, not developers as Quinn has always supported. Culture and diversity are the building blocks for any community, not condos. We have to remember that Williamsburg is a unique community with lineage tracing back to the working class and building up to the current generation of middle-class innovators.

Which developers are you currently targeting?
The developers we are attempting to fight back are Two Trees Management of the Domino Sugar project and Park Tower Group of the Greenpoint Landing project.

How bad has overdevelopment become in NYC?
Keep in mind this fact: Since 9/11, nearly 40 percent of the city’s landmass will have been rezoned by the end of Bloomberg’s reign—probably his most significant legacy, especially considering the new construction the zoning changes enabled. Sadly, all of this is targeted to people of a higher socioeconomic status, which means displacing thousands of current residents, predicated on the broken promises of affordable housing and jobs for their community. In a September 8 New York magazine article discussing the Brooklyn waterfront, Amanda Burden said, "When we propose projects like this, the only thing we can trade on is people trusting us. So to have that trust eroded at all—it’s painful every time I go there." Hence, SAVE DOMINO//SAVE BROOKLYN is the last wall of defense for our community.

Does gentrification have to displace the lower income class from their communities?
Apparently yes, according to the "self-certifying" processes of Housing Preservation & Development for the City of New York. A required process of ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) now allows faulty infrastructure data based off "expired" environmental impact studies. This process of malfeasance steps aside the necessary data to accurately portray the needs of a community, leading to serious issues with hyper-density when it comes to urban planning. Such issues include waste management, sanitation, sewage, traffic and transportation, just to name a few.

Can you give an example?

A well-known example is the Bedford Stop subway platform. It’s a fact that during operation, 50 percent of the time it runs at or above maximum capacity for safe operation. The fact is that the city is placing development over infrastructure and it’s the community that suffers, displacing those who needn’t leave and creating perpetual cycle that feeds the insatiable appetite to sell, sell, sell off the ‘hood. The data doesn’t support what’s being built and will not be able to sustain itself.

How did you get the performers for tomorrow’s event?
We have been in the neighborhood for quite some time and we are working with people who have lived in the neighborhood their entire lives. Together, we have an extensive reach and were able to pull in some vibrant creative talent.

image: Aymann Ismail