The Hazards of Shopping Locally

Recently, these signs went up in the neighborhood, warning of ATM Skimming:


Click the image to enlarge

They’re on just about every lamppost, in some areas.

When EV Grieve posted something today (7/19) about the signs, in a short time commenters were complaining about this happening to them, at local stores!

local-stores-skimming-0719-1804

local-stores-skimming-0719-2011

local-stores-skimming-0720-1217

local-stores-skimming-0720-1313

local-stores-skimming-0720-1515

Mom! Pop! What about the community?!

* * *

Back in May:

    Governor Andrew M. Cuomo … announced the initial results of the State Liquor Authority’s (SLA) effort to combat underage drinking in New York City utilizing a part-time investigative unit. Starting on April 17, 2014, the unit made 74 visits to licensed grocery and liquor stores in all five boroughs of NYC, with 32 sales to minors.

The Manhattan stores were all in the “East Village”:

local-stores-selling-beer
Click the image to read the press release

Mom and Pop strike again!

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Class Struggle on Avenue A

So, 7‑Eleven on Avenue A and 11th Street finally opened for business on October 30, 2013, and in less than a week’s time, “No 7-Eleven NYC” (N7E) began attacking their workers on Twitter:

n7e-tweet-anti-711-worker

And from their blog:

n7e-attacks-711-workers

The claim that 7-Eleven employees are harassing local businesses comes from one of their supporters: the owner of the Hi-Fi bar, across the street (red highlighting mine):

hifi-attacks-711-workers

N7E and Co. has never been judicious with the truth. They have attempted to use everything and anything they find as a cudgel against 7-Eleven, from ministers leading campaigns against the store because it sells beer, to claims that 7-Eleven is a “crime magnet” due to the fact that 24-hour 7-Elevens in isolated areas have been robbed, to claims that the city’s attempted soda cap would give 7-Eleven unfair advantage over restaurants and movie theaters! They laud bodegas that over-charge for expired merchandise and make the bulk of their money from selling cigarettes, beer, and lottery tickets in poor neighborhoods.

bodega-front'
Yeah, bitch! Bodegas!

It defies reason to accuse the workers of 7-Eleven of this. To begin with, the workers at the new 7-Eleven are new to this hoopla. They haven’t been around since the time of the Hurricane Sandy planning session; they didn’t take the job and immediately join the fray. Secondly, their manager isn’t going to let them leave the store while they’re on the clock, especially to create mischief on the block.

I went into the 7-Eleven yesterday and spoke with a worker there. She told me the story of the owner of Hi-Fi coming in and confronting her. When she told him it wasn’t anyone from there, he became more confrontational. She also told me that most local businesses owners have been very friendly, and wished them well.

Once again, N7E rears its petite-bourgeois head. Attacking big businesses on the one hand, and workers on the other. These are the people who claim the mantle of resistance in the neighborhood.

***

Why would they even make this claim? Apart from the fact that they’ve never bothered with being honest, maybe it’s because this is exactly what they do!

Thursday, Oct 31
n7e-1031-0933

n7e-1031-2048

Sunday, Nov 3

Monday, Nov 4
EV Grieve reported that someone inside the store revised the N7E skull sign.

Later, he reported that someone outside the store destroyed the revised skull sign.

Friday, Nov 8

The accusations come easily to them because the actions themselves come easily to them.

***

Back in August, in response to the assertion that the 7-Eleven on Avenue A “targets only non-local foot traffic coming to the bars on A,” I responded “It’ll be people in the neighborhood who shop there, watch and see.”

What does N7E say?

n7e-no-customers-1109-0917

n7e-no-customers-1109-1606

I’ve made it a point to pass by there more often recently, to see who is going in, and just as I predicted, it’s neighborhood people. Mostly young mothers and children, mostly Black and Hispanic. In my two times entering the store, and the many times I’ve pass recently, I’ve noticed that the employees are also either Black or Hispanic! Of course, these people are not even on the radar of the all-White N7E!

The Pathology of the “East Village”

[Updated 10/10]

I started a version of this article many weeks ago, after a post on EV Grieve
ran with this photo:

eliciting this comment:

evg-heroin-tsp-0805-1635

Then recently, in an article about a memorial in Tompkins Square Park for a “crusty” who died, one commenter wrote:

evg-comment-light-violence-0919-1052 1

Comments such as these are not uncommon. There’s some troll element, to be sure, but most of it is legitimate (in that it’s not trolling). Since that time, I slowly gathered examples to demonstrate that there is a vocal faction of people in the “East Village” who are basically misanthropes. I wasn’t very active collecting this, but all of a sudden a truckload of it fell into my virtual lap!

But first, I must digress.

***

Early in the week of September 22, this sign went up in my neighborhood:

atwe4sba-anti-drug-mtg

On September 24, this story ran on EV Grieve:

evg-drug-mtg-story

I attended the meeting. My original estimation of the number of people in attendance was 35, including the representatives of the 9th Precinct and District Attorney’s office, but I was later told that the sign-in sheet at the desk showed it was closer to 50. Almost everyone had a story, of drug use (mostly heroin) taking place in their vestibules, dealers operating out of a renovated but unoccupied building, dealers having keys to the NYCHA buildings and operating out of them, members of community gardens who have all but abandoned the gardens because of drug dealing in them… They came from all through the neighborhood, from 3rd and 5th Streets as well as both avenues, even Houston Street. Many of them said they heard about the meeting from EV Grieve.

The attendees were 80%+ black and hispanic, most over 40. Some live in the NYCHA buildings under siege. Some were representatives of shelters and treatment centers in the area. Many have lived here since the 1980s and were founding members of the community gardens on the block. That might fit the demographic of people in this area who attend meetings, but it also demonstrates (spoiler alert!) that they weren’t young transplants trying to sanitize the neighborhood.

There will be a follow-up meeting October 9. In the intervening time, people with sales/use taking place in their buildings will approach the owners and try to get the building registered in the city’s Trespass Affidavit Program. And everyone was urged to call 911 when they see drug sales/use taking place. The 9th Precinct rep said that despite the number of stories people had, there have been very few calls, so they were not aware of the severity of the problem.

***

It didn’t take long after EV Grieve’s post for the rats to emerge! One response on the blog itself:

evg-drug-mtg-0925-1320

But the EV Grieve Facebook page is where the worst appeared. (Coincidentally enough, an article appeared on Slate the same day, titled “Facebook’s for Middle-Aged Narcissists”.

I divided the Facebook comments into two categories: Presumptuous; and Misanthropic.

Presumptuous

0924-0905b

0924-0936

0924-1003

0924-1009

Misanthropic

0924-0904

0924-0905a

0924-1016

0924-1025

0924-1214

0924-1323

0924-1649

One of the things discussed at the meeting is that the dealers will smile at residents, to try to ingratiate them. It’s no different than greeters in stores: it’s part of their selling strategy. To think that this demonstrates beneficence on their part is naive.

***

I don’t think there’s a single one of them who doesn’t argue from a white-privileged position. Why is it always older, white people who glorify drug sales/use? I think it’s because they know they won’t be directly affected by it — only peripherally, like the people who think Giuseppe Logan being mugged is a small price to pay to keep people they don’t like out of the neighborhood.1 They chose to live here when they could have chosen to live somewhere else.2 They see it taking place, but it’s not their lives that will be destroyed by it.

No doubt they find it romantic, or adventuresome. This is their “authentic” New York neighborhood. This is how they define themselves, as people who lived under harsh conditions and survived. There’s a song (I forget the name of it) with a line “New York is where people go to live out their fantasy of being Lou Reed.” It’s telling that no one ever imagines themselves to be Johnny Thunders!

lou-reed-johnny-thunders

***

I want to be clear that I’m not lumping together everyone who moved here in the 1970s/80s, only the sociopaths. There were definitely people who had a larger social vision, of taking back the land, of the right to the city. But these people did not view the heroin trade as positive in any way.

Marlis Momber, a local photographer, has a photo called “No No Drugs 1986” that shows a demonstration winding its way through the streets of the “East Village”. A copy of it hangs in the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union:

no-no-drugs-1986

Other examples:

local-east-village-momber
Photo by Marlis Momber, via The Local East Village.

villager-marlis-momber-interview
Interview with Marlis Momber, in The Villager.

drugs-demo-nyt-1983
Pace, Eric. “Lower East Side Residents Protest ‘Drug Drive-Ins’.” NY Times, October 23, 1983. [Almost 30 years to the date! –Q]

***

Looking at current movement in this area, you would think these people would oppose the heroin trade because it wasn’t local. Opium poppies do not grow locally. The processing is done outside the neighborhood and employs no local residents. The dealers live outside the neighborhood and for the most part, so do the buyers. There is nothing local about any part of it.

=-=-=-=-=

1 Two days after the claim that “light violence is a small price to pay”, this story appeared on EV Grieve:
evg-giuseppi-logan-jumped

2 Rosalyn Deutsche and Cara Gendel Ryan, “The Fine Art of Gentrification,” THE PORTABLE LOWER EAST SIDE, Volume 4, Number 1, Spring 1987, 22 Jan. 2013.

Cop Shoes

As I mentioned in a previous post, I attended the Tompkins Square Park 25th Police-Riot Reunion concerts. That is, I went for a little while. I don’t know if anyone stayed for the whole thing.

I was there taking pictures, because I read in the Comments Section of another blog:

tsp-riot-reunion-bands

and I’m a sucker for crowds.

Well… let’s just say it wasn’t “huge”.

cop-shoes

This leads me to the first part of my story. Take a look at the guy standing on the left side of the photo. I didn’t focus on him – I was just getting a crowd shot – but I saw him giving me the eye. I knew right away what he was thinking: that I was a cop.

“Are you a cop?” he said.

I chuckled. “No,” I told him. He didn’t say anything, he just turned away, and then back again. “Look,” I said, “let me tell you something. The one way you can tell who’s a cop, no matter what else they look like, is by their shoes. Cops need shoes they can run in. You can see,” I said, holding out my besandaled right foot, “I can’t run in these.”1

I don’t know if he was satisfied by this or not, but it’s not important. It’s a good story.

***

As I mentioned in Scofflaws, All I had a problem with my foot. It was caused by the heel of my left shoe collapsing over time, until I developed a severe pain in my heel, called plantar fasciitis. I got rid of those shoes and switched to a pair with firmer soles, but they were only a temporary fix. The pain didn’t get worse, but it wasn’t getting better quickly enough. I knew I would have to break down and shell out some serious money for real shoes if I ever wanted to walk again without hobbling.

As luck would have it, I have a friend who works at a shoe store that specializes in fixing people’s feet. He does the same type of production work I do, but because he does it in a shoe store, he can get a discount on shoes. So after putting it off long enough, I went to his store.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but the salesman examined my feet and made his suggestion: sensible shoes with support in the heel and in front, and orthotic inserts. They’re over-the-counter inserts that he modified to give me more support beneath my third and fourth metatarsals. This is what they look like:

fluchos

I have to tell you, these are the most comfortable shoes I’ve had in a long time! The pain in my heel is gone completely when I wear them, and only barely noticeable when I take them off. What they say is true: you should treat your feet like you’re going to have them your whole life.

Anyway, cop shoes. I told my friend before I left the store that they looked like black, nurse shoes. He said they weren’t so bad, and when I saw myself in a full-length mirror I saw that he was right. But they do look like cop shoes. No longer will I be able to convince hardcore fans that I’m not a cop.

The story next time:

“Are you a cop?” he said.

I chuckled. “No,” I told him. He didn’t say anything, he just turned away, and then back again. “Yes you are,” he said. “Only cops would wear those shoes.”

“What about nurses?” I said.

“No,” he said.2

***

After I had decided on my current shoes, I asked the salesman what he had that I could get next time, after my feet were back in shape. He showed me a pair that were good, that have the support I need. So this will be my next pair. If I put away a dollar day, I can get them in 450 days!3

mephisto-wingtips

=-=-=-=-=

1 Conversation not verbatim.
2 Conversation likely to be verbatim.
3 A little less, with the friend-discount.

The Wrong Version

On Wikipedia, The Wrong Version of an article is the version that is protected during an edit war. If you’re not familiar with the workings of Wikipedia, an edit war is when two or more parties change an article significantly and often, so that no version of the article is ever in place for very long. Eventually, a Wikipedia administrator will step in and “freeze” the article, preventing further edits, until the warring parties come to an agreement on the content of the article. The version of the article that’s frozen is inevitably the wrong version.

The wrong version I’m referring to is a discussion I was involved in in the comments section of another blog. I use the term “discussion” lightly — it was more a collection of anonymous attacks that I was defending myself against. Anonymous, because that’s how most people there present their arguments: anonymously. I don’t waste my time responding to most of the anonymous attacks, but if someone puts their name to a comment, I will respond. However, after a couple of back-and-forths, my response was not posted.

No matter. The moderator of the blog probably thought the “discussion” had gone on long enough, and didn’t want his comments section to become a version of Usenet. I can understand that; I would have done the same. Still, for me the comments end in The Wrong Version.

I’m not going to post what my response was. It really doesn’t matter. Let the wrong version stand.

Suburbanity

As I wrote in Why This? Why Now?, a big reason for me starting this blog was the sort of things I was reading in the Comments section of EV Grieve’s blog. I was struck by the provincialism displayed in many of the comments, directed at people who may have at one time lived in the suburbs, or visit from the suburbs, or at stores that are associated with the suburbs. At first I thought the commenters were just supercilious, and I’m sure that’s true of some of them, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that what people were referring to as “suburban” was only incidentally suburban, or rather tautologically suburban.

When the International House of Pancakes opened on 14th Street, commenters railed against it as “suburban”. When it was announced that 7-Eleven would open on Avenue A and 11th Street, it was vilified as “suburban”, and the people who would shop there as suburban, living out their suburban childhoods, turning the dirty Lower East Side into a suburb. Here are some examples:

Commenter:
evg-suburb-120403-comment

Commenter:
evg-suburb-130306-comment

No 7-Eleven NYC meeting announcement:
evg-suburb-130108-n7e-announcement

So what are they opposed to? It has more to do with standardization than with geography. What is referred to as “suburban” is nothing less than the direction that retail-capital took after World War 2. This was the time that franchising grew significantly. Cities were too prohibitive to build in — ground rent was high, zoning and existing structures restricted what was possible — but the interstate highway system allowed for expansion outside of the city. The land they moved into was not only cheap but plentiful. If there had been enough cheap land in the cities in the 1950s, franchises would have developed here, because capital would not have moved to rural areas to seek higher returns.

There’s nothing wrong with critiquing franchising, but to confuse it as “suburban” masks the real driving force.

Unmasked

It will come as no surprise to regular readers of Quilas that I’ve been wary of No 7‑Eleven NYC from the beginning, but it’s starting to spread to those who may have been followers until now. On February 28, EV Grieve wrote:

evg-bowery-poetry-story

One of the comments to the above-mentioned post:

evg-comment-re-bob-holman-0301

Bob Holman is one of the founders, if not the founder, of No 7‑Eleven NYC.

A search for Bowery Alliance of Neighbors yields:

invite200res.55174433_std

There’s no question that this area has an important history, but there isn’t a single aspect of that history left. Nothing of the past is being preserved, nor would any of them want to preserve it. In fact, they’re not preserving anything, as you’ll soon see. What they’re doing is creating the Bowery Theme Park.

[T]his project will enable the Chinatown, Little Italy, Lower East Side,
and now, the Bowery communities to develop a comprehensive approach
to community planning, centered around history, culture, and
economic development.

Take a look at what National Register designation confers:

Eligibility of property owners (and in certain cases lessees) for federal tax credits on qualifying rehabilitation of historic buildings within the historic district. Owners of depreciable, certified historic properties may take a 20 percent federal income tax credit for the costs of substantial rehabilitation as provided for under the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Any contributing, income-producing building would be eligible for the federal investment tax credit.

Owners of contributing buildings within distressed census tracts are eligible for additional New York State tax credits. Distressed census tracts are those identified as being at or below 100% of the state median family income ($51,691) in the most recent census. On the Bowery, this includes properties on the east side of the street south of East 3rd Street and on the west side south of East Houston Street. …

Private property owners of contributing buildings are eligible for grants and loans administered by New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and other sources

Municipal and not-for-profit owners of listed historic properties may apply for matching state historic preservation grants

Registered properties and properties determined eligible for the Register receive a measure of protection from the effects of federal and/or state agency sponsored, licensed or assisted projects through a notice, review, and consultation process.

What it doesn’t provide is any real protection:

National Register status is an honorific designation. Unlike New York City Landmarks designation, which is not being sought as a part of this effort, there are no restrictions placed on private owners of registered properties in a National Register Historic District. Private property owners may sell, alter or dispose of their property as they wish, although an owner who demolishes a certified registered property may not deduct the costs of demolition from his/her federal income tax.

So that’s what they’ll be gathering to celebrate on the 20th: a host of tax credits and deductions for building- and land-owners.

Democratic control over neighborhoods is not an impossibility. The residents of this area could band together as well. Of course, they wouldn’t have the backing of the city government, or celebrities, or the banks lining up to fund this “preservation”, but they can provide a necessary counter-balance to the gentrification effort.

By way of example, the Clinton Special District Coalition was formed to protect the people who lived in the Clinton Special District (located on the West Side between 41st and 59th Street, from 8th Avenue to the Hudson River). The CSDC fights for social and economic justice, for the rights of poor, low-income and working individuals and families, with a primary focus on strengthening and preserving affordable housing.

The organizers of the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors would run screaming if such an initiative were proposed!

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