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:

  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.

It was very much a hand-to-mouth existence— and that’s one reason 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 it you are doing our forebears 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 Americans 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…

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.)

Quicklink: A Story To Tell

screencapThis tome was brought to my attention by a fellow named Richard. Richard is a resident of Lawrence, Kansas. This Letter to the Powers That Be, not surprisingly, pertains to matters in Lawrence, Kansas. However, while reading this tome more than one community hereabouts— and the non/not-for-profit organizations (which purport to act as a “voice”/”advocate” for the aforementioned communities) came to mind.  I do not think I need to list/name the previous here, gentle readers. We know them.*

Follows is an excerpt from this essay so as the pique your interest:

…I have been long in forming my opinion of the Cultural Arts District and the 9th Street Corridor.  When the pros and cons of the issue are laid across a scale, I find myself on the side of favor.  I am in support of the Cultural Arts District and 9th Street Corridor in East Lawrence.  I am excited at the prospect of renewal and repair that the Cultural District designation dollars can bring.  I want new sidewalks and safer lighting and renovated limestone curbs and bricks in my streets.  I want the businesses in my neighborhood to thrive and prosper and have the funds to reinvest in my community.  I want an economic base that can support an East Lawrence or Downtown grocery store. I want my daughters to grow up in a vibrant, thriving neighborhood that supports the arts and creativity.  I am personally invested in positive outcomes for the Cultural Arts District. 

And yet…

There remains a sense of unease when I think about what will happen as the Cultural Arts District and 9th Street Corridor develop.  I cannot shake the feeling of anxiety, of foreboding, of “ick” in my belly and bad smell wrinkle in my nose.  And this time, it isn’t a downdraft from the wastewater treatment plant (Emphasis mine— Ed. Note) or the river.  It’s the aftertaste of cultural co-option.  But what does that mean, you say?  I can’t explain it to you without the help of Alice Walker.  Here’s where the story comes in… 

You can— no, make that should— read this essay in its entirety by clicking here. Pass it along. Who knows? Maybe it’ll inspire someone (else) in our fair burgh/city to speak up?

*Hence why I found this excerpt of Adam “GWAPP Advisory Board”  Perlmutter’s biography so fascinating:

Adam is a currently lawyer for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn opposing the Atlantic Yards project …

Speaking as a resident of Greenpoint for fourteen years now who knows quite a few bloggers— bloggers who have taken a keen interest in Atlantic Yards, no less— I have not once heard his name mentioned. What’s more, someone closely connected with DDDB confirmed my suspicions:

He isn’t in the employ and never was.  He volunteered with DDDB  about 9 years ago and helped them find their great lawyer Matt Brinckerhoff  - but he’s not done anything with them for about 7 years.

Hmm…

“About” seven years ago Mr. Perlumutter signed off on the by-laws of Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn.

Note the “Treasurer”. It is none other than Steve “Brooklyn Beer/I loves me some Atlantic Yards” Hindy himself.

Double hmm…

New York Shitty Feral Furniture Watch: Southside Selections

South 5th Street

South 5 street nys

South 5 Street Feral Sofa nys

It’s amazing how those illegal clothing drop off boxes seem to attract illegal dumping…

South 5 Street Sofa detritus NYS

in more ways than one. Trust me: this smelled worse than it looks (which is pretty darned bad).

“Havemeyer Park”

Havemeyer Park Recliner nys

Note the “teepee” in the background.  These were not indigenous to the region “back in the day”. There were no “buffalo” in New York. I suppose the gesture (raising awareness about Native Americans?) is a nice enough one— but why not do so in a geographically, historically relevant manner?