Southside Photos Du Jour: The “Tipi” Rant

getting ready to barbecue

Today I had the pleasure of showing a buddy of mine, Lisanne, around northern Brooklandia. She’s been quite busy of late kicking ass in her community (“Gowanus”); was kind enough to take me on a tour of her community and I wanted to return the favor. I felt perhaps a walk around Williamsburg would be an interesting juxtaposition to what her community faces. Above all, I wanted to show her what I consider to be one of the supreme grotesques when to comes to developer/community organization “partnerships”. I speak of none other than the Southside teepee tipi.

Havemeyer Park Recliner nys

I have yet to articulate in words how much this thing enrages me. Maybe I’ll get it right this time. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.

To preface, a little information about myself:

  1. I am not of Native American descent. I am not a spokesperson for the Native American community. However…
  2. my forbears (on my mother’s side) came from Texas. Well, if you want to get “picky” they lived in Texas before Texas was “Texas”. They were European immigrants and they immigrated to Mexico.
  3. They were not “wealthy” people. They lived alongside and in (relative*) harmony with Native Americans and Latinos (NOTE: I am reticent to use the term ‘Mexicans” because back in the day my forebears would also qualify as such. See point #2).
  4. When one is living on the “frontier”, “poor” and as such bereft the amenities we have in this modern age he/she does not have the luxury of being racist— and I assure you racism is a “luxury”. Instead, you pulled together as many collective resources as you could as a community. My grandmother and great aunt had (as they put it) a “Comanche woman” (“political correctness” as we know it was/is a mite bit too much to ask from two women born in 1909 and 1911 respectively) from a neighboring plot of land/”ranch” as a babysitter on occasion. They had fond memories of her.
  5.  When there was a “feud”, as great aunt put it, between this “Comanche” family and another family (non-native American, I recall) they sided with the Comanches. Like I said: racism is a luxury.

I am not Native American. However— and in large part due to my grandmother and her sister— I have been exposed Native Amercian history and culture since pretty much day one. And that’s why this teepee tipi pisses me off so goddamn much.

bbq pit and teepee

After I took this photo a 20-something fellow, the “fire setter”, clad in overalls, bandanna and a straw hat approached me.

Are you Miss Heather of New York Shitty?

he asked.

I answered to the affirmative. He responded as follows:

I’m Ryan, I used to work for GWAPP. We’ve met before.

Instead of tendering my condolences (I am capable of restraint when I want to be) I asked:

What are you doing?

We’re going to have a barbecue.

He replied and added:

We’re using wood because lighter fluid is bad!

“Oh I know” I replied and added:

Please tell that to my neighbors.** They just LOVE lighter fluid. They can’t barbecue for shit. They’d be excellent arsonists if they wanted to be.

Laughter, albeit of the uncomfortable/awkward variety, followed. “Ryan” went about his business and we went in.

southside teepee

newbalances

Upon seeing this pair of New Balance sneakers outside the “tipi” my companion and I burst into fits of cynical laughter. She noted “NBs” are the footwear of choice among “progressives”.

no shoes in the tipi

No shoes are allowed in the tipi.

people in tipi looking at iphone

But apparently the “tipi” has an open door policy for smart phones.

I do not recall Native Americans having iphones. Hell, I do not recall reading— ANYWHERE— about the Native Americans who once called this land their home having teepees tipis.  This is because they didn’t. Teepees were used by nomadic tribes— generally on the great plains. Teepees were made of buffalo hide. Brooklyn did not have “nomadic tribes” (or buffalo for that matter). There was no need to travel long distances: everything they needed was here.

My travelling companion, Lisanne, put it (more or less— paraphrasing here) very well:

Don’t they see the irony of having a teepee in a neighborhood where a lot of residents (many of whom are Latino and probably “Mestizo”— Ed. Note.) are being forced out?

No they don’t— and that is the problem.

nativeappropriations

Straight up: If you are going to appropriate Native American culture (which you probably shouldn’t do in the first place), at least make it contextually/historically relevant. New York City is not lacking in Native American history. So why I ask, once again, do we have this teepee? I am guessing it is a “nod” to Native American culture.

The problem with this teepee is— however well intended it may be— is the wrong Native American culture. By erecting this you are doing our predecessors here— and probably giving youths the notion that teepees did in fact exist here— a serious disservice. In fact I’d go so far to say one poorly placed teepee in Williamsburg is actually worse than no acknowledgement of Native American presence at all. Wrong information is worse than no information.

This could have, should have been an opportunity to educate people— newcomers and old timers, young and old— about the Native Americans who once lived here. Instead we have a hang-out wherein one can peruse one’s iphone. No lighter fluid, New Balances or Nikes allowed.

Rather sad, yes?

*For example, one time my grandmother and great aunt’s mother placed pies on a window sill to cool. The “Indians” stole them. My great aunt found her mother’s tristesse quite hilarious.

**Who also, thankfully rarely, host drum circles.

The Word On The Street, Part III: North 9 Street

August 30, 2014 ·
Filed under: 11211, The Word On The Street, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn 

Fuck and dance nys

Taken August 30, 2014.

Williamsburg Street Art Du Jour: Kent Avenue

Medusa nys

Taken August 30, 2014.

The Word On The Street, Part II: Special NYPD Edition

North 10 Street, 11211

Hello Neighbors nys

Dobbin Street, 11222

Dobbin Street 8302014 nys

Taken August 30, 2014.

Urban Artifact: Kent Avenue

August 30, 2014 ·
Filed under: 11211, 11249, Urban Artifact, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn 

walker with leis nys

Taken August 30, 2014.

New York Shitty Street Art Du Jour: Josephine

Josephine NYS

Taken August 30, 2014.

From The New York Shitty Inbox: And Now A Word From The 94th Precinct

August 29, 2014 ·
Filed under: 11211, 11249, Criminal Activity, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn 

Via an anonymous tipster:

The New York City Police Department is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying and locating the following suspect wanted in connection with an attempted burglary within the confines of the 94 Precinct. The details are as follows:

On Saturday, August 2, 2014 at approximately 0250 hours, the suspect entered 99 North 10 Street without permission or authority and attempted to gain entry into offices within.

Surveillance video of the suspect is attached and available at DCPI.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

All calls are strictly confidential.

It would appear that some fellow— and a very menacing one at that (nothing strikes fear in the hearts of men like a purple Polo shirt)— attempted to burgle Vice Magazine. Or was one of their employees was simply trying to go to back to work operating on sheer motor memory?

DOBBIS93to99north10stret

97 North 10 street

In any case, the 94th Precinct ison it.

Oh, the irony…

An Honor Roll Of Restaurants Past…

Thank You nys

Last night I had one helluva time falling asleep. Instead of counting sheep I decided to recount restaurants I liked in this city that are no more. Let’s just say it has been on the brain of late.* Here’s a partial list:

  1. Bleu Drawes: Jamaican food in Greenpoint? Yes, once there was! This was on Commercial Street, now the space is occupied by Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.
  2. Oznot’s Dish: Berry Street, replaced by Silent h
  3. Silent h: (see above) , replaced by a French bistro. This was the place which really got me into Vietnamese food.
  4. Barossa: Graham Avenue, replaced by Gwinnett Street whose menu is mildly upscale “artsy” food. (I do not recall the latest name for this establishment, but I imagine part of the reason for the name change was one of the owners being charged with handling narcotics. you can’t make this shit up, folks.).
  5. Kenny’s Trattoria: Havemeyer Street, razed for residential development.
  6. Taco Bite: South 4 Street at Rodney, replaced by a short-lived vegetarian/health food restaurant.
  7. Grand Sichuan: Canal Street, razed so as to build a hotel.
  8. Conos al Pescatore: Graham Avenue. Replaced by Sage an upscale Asian fusion establishment (which I will admit serves pretty good food— but still).
  9. La Vuelta: 45th Road, replaced by a barbecue joint.
  10. Village Mingala: Burmese restaurant whose East 5 Street location is now a Michelin recommended bistro. ASIDE: this leaves one Burmese restaurant in New York City.
  11. El Paso: Houston Street, new tenant TBD
  12. Casa Mon Amour: Franklin Street. They served Dominican food. Now the space is occupied by Vamos al Tequila (which is a fairly good replacement). The folks at Vamos al Tequila have my business for life for simply having the temerity to post the sign gracing the beginning of this post. I can only imagine what necessitated its creation.
  13. Driggs Pizzeria: Driggs Avenue (duh), replaced by Two Boots. This one infuriates me as much as Village Mingala’s closure (READ: A LOT).
  14. Monsignor’s: Bedford Avenue, now Lokal
  15. Rocco’s Ristaurante: Thompson Street, taken over by these guys.
  16. L.A. Ristorante: Manhattan Avenue, now a magazine/cigar store. To their credit, they did retain some semblance of a restaurant— but it really isn’t the same.
  17. Bean: North 8 Street. A nice little Mexican restaurant; now it is Pop’s.

Is it just me or is there an overall trend here? Anyone care to add?

*Thankfully it would appear John’s of East 12 Street has dodged becoming statistic. At least for now, anyway…

From The New York Shitty Photo Pool: <3 Domino

Taken by gothamruins.

New York Shitty Photo Du Jour: The Brooklyn Way

August 8, 2014 ·
Filed under: 11211, 11249, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn 

The Brooklyn Way nys

Occasionally the Mister not only humors my shenanigans but is actually amused by them. This is one such occasion.

(Taken August 8, 2014.)