Archive for the ‘Curation’ Category

Vilage of Light – A Burning Man Winter Celebration in the City

December 15th, 2010 by Ichi Vazquez

What do you do when some of your best memories take place in the middle of the desert with your closest friends, as exotic DJ beats blast all around you while you examine some of the most beautiful art pieces you’ve ever seen?

You decompress from that experience by bringing it back to life right at home, of course.

This is what the Burning Man community here in New York City did on Friday for Gratitude:Village of Light, an event that celebrated the community of like-minded artists, performers, visionaries, and kindred spirits who practice the 10 Burning Man principles year-round, and invite other to do just the same.

Burning Man is a music and arts festival that began in San Francisco around 1987. Today, the event takes place in Black Rock City, Nevada and boasts an attendance of over 50,000 participants every year, inviting people around the country and the world to take part in an experimental city that is commonly described as an expressive Utopia with extremely harsh desert conditions. In this city, currency and commercialism is non-existent (in other words, not allowed!), and another form of exchange takes its place instead: gifting.

Many major cities, including New York City no less, have a prominent community of Burning Man attendees that have over time transformed the semi-underground annual event into a full on cultural and artistic movement. Friday’s Village of Light event served as a celebration of an embraced 11th Principle, Gratitude, that was first revealed at Figment, a summer music and arts festival on Governor’s Island organized by the same community of artists. Proceeds will go towards Figment as well as the Black Rock Arts Foundation in order to support participatory culture, community and interactive art.

Here is a list of featured highlights from the event:

– A fashion show by designer Wheylan at midnight
– Dozens of 2D, 3D, and Video Art installations
– A Burlesque/Cabaret Revue

DJ Line Up
– An-Ten-Nae (Acid Crunk/SF)
– Arrow Chrome (Disorient/NYC)
– Friar Tuck (Disorient/NYC)
– Karim So (Luvstep/LA)
– The Bass (Disorient/NYC)
– Bit-Tuner (Trepok Rec./Switzerland)
– Blanco (BOOM Trike/NYC)
– D_Juice (House of Yes/NYC)
– Jon Margulies (Hobotech/NYC)
– Joro-Boro (Etno-Teck/NYC)
– Mike Vinyl (injectionmusic/Austria)
– Miss Sabado (Disorient/NYC/LA)
– Morphous w/ ShiZaru (Tsunami Bass Experience/NYC)
– The Munch Machine (
– Orion Keyser (Disorient/NYC)
– Reda Briki (Disorient/NYC)
– Space Invader (MK2/NYC/SF)
– Tektite (Vitamin B/NYC)
– DJ Tinseltown (Flux Factory/NYC)

Live Bands
– Raquy and the Cavemen (NYC)
– Comandante Zero (NYC)
– Neon Dynamite (NYC)
– Lenkadu (Boston)
– Gina Ferrera (Philly)
– Siren (NYC)
– Joshua Tennent & Acoustic Noise Complaint (NYC)
– JustinJustin TOCA & Ale’ Ale’ Drummers (NYC)

For those of you who have never attended Burning Man before, Judd Weiss wrote a highly amusing and slightly explicit description of his experiences there in his blog. Since it was his first year, it’s a great read from a very personal point-of-view. But the truth is, everyone has a whole range of experiences out there, and it can be as crazy or as zen as you like it to be.

For further information, here are some links to New York City Burning Man theme camps and artistic groups. And although it is not updated often, you can also scout out information about the Burning Man in New York City website.


Kostume Kult

Image Node


House of Yes

Soundslides music credits: “Love & Happiness” (Yemaya y Ochun) [Michel Cleis ‘Floreo’ Remix]

S.T.E.M. Studio Brings Science to South Bronx

December 13th, 2010 by Kahliah Laney

The U.S. education system is like dial-up in a high-speed world: inefficient. Dial-up academia is especially a problem in the subjects of science and math.

Recently the World Economics Forum placed the quality of U.S. science and math curriculum at 48 out of 133 other nations. The National Science Foundation also reported that ethnic minorities are even less likely to pursue an undergraduate degree in science and engineering.

The U.S. is falling behind in this globally competitive economy.

But Iridescent Learning, a nonprofit science education organization, is trying to change that. The interactive STEM-based program teaches students, and their parents, about technology and engineering. Most important, however, is that students can actually apply what they learn by inventing things.

With a location already in Los Angeles, Tara Chklovski, President and CEO of Iridescent Learning Chklovski chose the South Bronx for her second science studio location. The studio, located on the first floor of the Banknote Building, will be opening its doors to students in early 2011.

Chklovski has partnered with the U.S Office of Naval Research through a Department of Defense campaign to increase diversity in STEM. The studio will receive an estimated $2 million each year through a three-year grant from the ONR to serve about 1,500 students from over 31 schools across Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx.

Here is a look at the November 4th opening festival.

New Housing in the South Bronx

November 29th, 2010 by Kahliah Laney

Housing projects in New York City were initially built to replace slums. Some might say, however, that the “projects” eventually led to concentrated poverty, a large contributor to urban decay. Others say that projects have higher crime rates and violence. Whatever the case may be the projects certainly have a larger police presence than any other housing units in the city, creating friction between residents and law enforcement.

Residents have also often complained of deplorable living conditions that may even rival slums many projects were built to replace. The role of public housing in concentrated poverty was felt particularly hard in the South Bronx in the wake of the fires that ravaged the community during the 1970s. Now, the South Bronx is being rebuilt and the signs are everywhere. There are new businesses, new residents and new places of residence as well.

These new residences however, aren’t just for the poor. To combat concentrated poverty, new housing is aimed at residents from mixed-incomes. Take a look at a few of these developments in the South Bronx.

View New Developments in the South Bronx in a larger map

Artists, Industry and Uncertainty

November 29th, 2010 by Stuart White

Artist Peter Maslow at work in his Industry City studio.

By Stuart White

For many, the phrase “artists’ community” conjures a mental image that would be best described as “nudist colony-meets-gallery opening.”

But in Sunset Park’s Industry City, a 6.5 million-square foot industrial complex on Brooklyn’s bleak waterfront, a very different type of artists’ community is taking root.

The facility’s management hopes that placing creative types in close proximity with their industrial counterparts will eventually result in the vertical integration of design and production, and in turn, foster productivity and innovation. However, what the facility’s managers see as a step toward a new industrial model could be viewed as the first signs of gentrification in Sunset Park.

In an earlier post, this blog examined rising real estate prices in the neighborhood as a potential indicator of what’s in store for Sunset Park. That data, in conjunction with the neighborhood’s growing population of artists, seems fit into the equation of New York’s most famous gentrification trend: the SoHo Effect (a phenomenon that isn’t unique to New York City).

“When the artists and a creative sector come into an area, even if it’s kind of a rundown area, that precipitates changes, and that seems to be kind of a repeatable pattern,” said Audrey Anastasi, who co-directs an independently run gallery called Tabla Rasa with her husband Joe.

Tabla Rasa itself could be interpreted as a metaphor for the changes taking place in Sunset Park. Wedged between an auto mechanic and a light industrial facility that applies baked powder coatings to metal goods, the tastefully appointed gallery seems a bit out of place.

However, Joe and Audrey Anastasi have no desire to see Sunset Park become the next Chelsea, and despite what happened in SoHo and other Brooklyn neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Joe doesn’t see Sunset Park’s artists as having the same disruptive effect.

“The artists that are coming into the community seem to actually be buying into the community,” he said. “So as a result, it’s not the same kind of displacement as has happened in other neighborhoods.”

Peter Maslow, a painter who rents studio space in Industry City, shares their sentiment, but worries that as the artists’ community grows and gains recognition developers will have no choice but to start turning dilapidated warehouses into luxury condos.

Armed and… Tasty? The Push to Arm New York’s Bodega Workers

November 28th, 2010 by Jonathan Vit

If some bodega workers have their way, they’ll be packing a lot more than relish and pickles.

Hispanics Across America provided handgun permit applications to thousands of New York bodega workers in late October. The group, which, in the past, has fought to get illegal guns off the street, is now pushing to arm many of the state’s 24 hour bodega workers, people, activist Fernando Mateo calls “sitting ducks.”

It’s an argument that has gained traction across America; arm normal citizens and watch crime rates drop. New York state has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. The state, like many others, allows a limited number of people to carry a loaded weapon; and then only under very specific circumstances.

But would guns make bodega workers safer? Gun rights advocates argue that states with lax right to carry laws have lower crime rates. But academic studies have often shown otherwise. The National Consortium on Violence Research found the only impact lax gun laws had on crime rates was an increase in assaults. Philip Cook, an economist at Stanford University, wrote in his book “Gun Violence: The Real Costs,” that any impacts of right to carry laws were statistically insignificant.

Still, in a city where bodega workers are robbed, or even killed, with startling frequency, scared citizens are looking for something that will provide even a kernel of safety. Hispanics Across America argues that bodega workers should, at least, be given the option to arm themselves.

The question is, are bodega workers comfortable packing heat while stuffing sandwiches? According to CBS 2, not likely.

A South Bronx By Any Other Name

September 26th, 2010 by Kahliah Laney

Triangle Below Canal Street just doesn’t roll off the tongue like TriBeCa. But keeping up with New York neighborhood nomenclature, like SoHo, NoLita, and NoHo, despite their fluidity, can be bothersome. So what do South Bronx natives think about SoBro?

Sometimes, the abbreviation is practical; North of Little Italy (NoLita) is a mouthful. But more recently abridged names symbolize swank, exclusive, enclaves moving into historically cast out communities. So when artists’ lofts began cropping up in the South Bronx, a marker of newly acquired hipness wasn’t far behind. Many migrants of means might think SoBro is posh. Some natives just say it’s pestering, paltry and political.

What South Bronx Natives Think About SoBro from Kahliah Laney on Vimeo.

This sometimes annoying, phonetic phenomenon isn’t unique to New York. In Atlanta, calling the Buford Highway BuHi has some so annoyed they’re yelping about it. In San Francisco a blogger highlighted the “hysteria” associated with a number of play-on-names including FerBu (Ferry Building) and DUCFOP (Down Under the Central Freeway Overpass).

While some folks find this kind of name-tailoring taxing, others welcome the moniker makeovers. In Fresno, CA, residents in the neighborhood south of Tower District were eager to represent SoTow. Still, as emphatically as some embrace neighborhood name changes, others oppose. The Medici Foundation said no way to the adoption of NoLita though the name seems to have stuck.

So what’s really in a name? Shakespeare, in “Romeo and Juliet,” wrote, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Does that mean that South Bronx would, were it SoBro called, retain it’s gritty nature? Most likely, as some early settlers of the recently revitalized Park Slope found out.

But it seems these nifty little names are here to stay. Calling the South Bronx SoBro is apparently accepted enough that it’s included in Urban Dictionary. A 2008 academic study about the South Bronx directly linked the advent of SoBro to gentrification.  Call it the South Bronx or SoBro one thing is for sure, the neighborhood is changing whether people like it or not.

Tackling City Pests with Bicycle Obsessions

September 26th, 2010 by Ichi Vazquez

New York City has a plethora of cycling routes and activities for bicycling-friendly residents, and offers a much quicker option of getting from point A to point B than the MTA does lately. While riding one’s bicycle seems like the best way to get to work or just enjoy the day, residents should keep their eyes open for a city pest that is known so notoriously to most cyclists, that they barely have time to get off their bikes before they turn around and their tire and handle bars are gone. That’s right – I’m talking about the professional bike thieves who roam the streets of the city possessing some crazy disassembling skills.

So exactly how can a New Yorker protect or prevent their cherished $150 Craigslist bicycle from getting stolen?

When it comes to getting your bike stolen, no one could do it faster or more efficiently than these pro thieves could. But this begs the question – are these guys getting away with stealing bicycle parts because they’re good at it, or is it that no one’s really paying any attention? It seems that residents feel like their bike woes have been going completely unnoticed until recently. But at least some take comfort in the fact that if they get their bicycle stolen, they can always check on Craigslist to see if the thief was dumb enough to re-sell it.

While nothing could beat a resolved thief with a massive pair of bolt cutters,  all you need occasionally is some alertness and a video camera to send out a strong message. More humorously, if the deed has already been done and you are left heartbroken without your bicycle, you can always deal with your emotions by telling your story to the guys over at Or if you find it later on in the streets with a new owner, leaving a passive-aggressive note can make you feel better too.

Otherwise New Yorkers, you can prevent yourselves from going home using the subway by staying up to date on precautionary measures and exercising them meticulously. Because the real deal is, no bike lock is actually secure enough to protect your bikes! As long as you make sure that the place where you purchased your bicycle isn’t actually buying stolen ones and re-selling them, you are already in a place of advantage.

The Sweet Sound of Impatience

September 25th, 2010 by Daniel Prendergast

We’ve all experienced it. You’re exiting a crowded subway train after a hard day and you just want to retreat to the quiet sanctuary of your apartment. Then, as you’re slowly approaching the turnstile, some entitled jerk decides they are too good to wait on line like everybody else and bursts through the emergency exit door, sending a shrill sounding alarm echoing through the underground. Then a string of spineless cowards who wish they had the guts to do it follow suit. Since MTA employees are rare at subway stations these days, the alarm can ring on and on, making everyone miserable.

So what is the city doing about it? And more importantly, is it a solution worth paying for, or should we just deal with the annoyance?

Realizing the phenomenon of exiting through the emergency door has become a huge problem, the New York City Transit Riders Council conducted a study over the summer to observe the issue firsthand, and their findings have caused the MTA to take note. But their reasons for wanting to put an end to the problem have little to do with the annoyance it causes riders. Instead, the MTA fears that an open emergency exit door is an invitation to those on the other side of the door to slip through without paying. Whatever the motive may be, the MTA is weighing its options with regard to finding a solution to this very irritating problem.

“Since conducting the study, we have been considering a number of options that include everything from installing silent alarms to putting more cameras at the exits,” Bill Henderson, executive director of the NY Transit Riders Council, said. “People are much less likely to break the rules if they think they are being watched.”

People have become so inured to the alarms misuse, they really serve no purpose, and do little to alert riders of anything other than that a newer, quicker path of escape is open, so a silent alarm might be useful. But there is also a possibility that a silent alarm might encourage misuse because the abuser will not be drawing the attention of everyone within earshot as they surreptitiously exit. As for the other option, the new NYPD cameras that have recently been installed in Midtown are meant to combat terror, and it remains to be seen that the NYPD will use the cameras to deal with less harmful (but still annoying) crimes like inappropriate use of the emergency exit. And it is well known that the MTA is trying to save as much money as possible, so it is unlikely they will be paying to implement a separate set of conspicuous cameras just to deter emergency exit abuse and fare evasion.

Although police officers and booth operators often preclude the temptation of impatient subway riders from crashing through the emergency exit, there are simply not enough boots on the ground to make this a feasible solution; especially with the high number of layoffs the MTA has made this year.

“We are definitely fighting a losing battle on this issue,” Henderson said. “The less human presence we have in the subways, the harder it will be to discourage people from using the doors improperly.”

The study’s conclusion suggests that whatever option is adopted to stop this problem, the MTA will have to foot the bill, which means the expenses will eventually trickle down to passengers. This raises the question: “Are we willing to pay a little more to do away with the bothersome alarms, especially since there is no guarantee they will work?” If I know New York City straphangers, they’d rather put up with the alarms.

Jets Under Scrutiny Over Harassment Claim

September 14th, 2010 by Claudia Acevdeo

Ines Sainz, a beauty-queen-turned-sports-reporter for TV Azteca, is at the center of a sexual harassment investigation against the New York Jets. On September 11, the Mexican journalist was waiting to interview Mark Sanchez in the team’s locker room, surrounded by half-naked players (after she had balls thrown at her during practice). Ines was unpleasantly surprised and taken aback by the jeers and comments the men made about her appearance. She even wrote on her Twitter (in Spanish) that she was “dying of embarrassment” in the presence of “too much masculine hormone.”

After the incident, Sainz headed over to security to inform them of what happened and show video evidence. On Sunday, an NFL board member spoke to Jets manager Mike Tannenbaum about the allegations. By September 13, the issue had been taken on by the NFL. They are currently investigating players and coaches to determine whether or not there will be consequences. So far, Jets coach Rex Ryan and assistant coach Dennis Thurman look like they’re under scrutiny.

Shortly after the harassment claim was made, Ines was unexpectedly appeased with a simple apology by Jets’ owner Woody Johnson. On Monday, she told Spanish-language sport program DeporTV that she never felt offended or at risk while she was at the practice, even though she acknowledged the behavior was out of line.

Sainz, who is no stranger to the spotlight, has also been taking a media beating due to the clothes she decided to wear to the practice. Publications such as the New York Post have made it a point to show provocative pictures of the reporter at work. Commentators are appalled by her fashion choices to the extent of deeming her responsible for the harassment. She tried to defend herself against such accusations by tweeting a picture of the “appropriate” attire she wore on Saturday. It didn’t help that the picture featured revealing skin-tight jeans, an undersized white shirt, and high-heeled boots.

Carrie Bradshaw and the Disease of the “Modern Woman”

September 13th, 2010 by Claudia Acevdeo

My cousin has a Sex and the City quote application on her Facebook page. It gives her a different pearl of wisdom straight from the illustrious pen of Carrie Bradshaw each day of the week. The passage that is currently on her page says something about relationships living in glass houses and people refusing to settle for anything less than “BUTTERFLIES,” followed by an ellipsis.

While I love her very much and am all for not settling, “I can’t help but wonder” whether my cousin is my least favorite kind of New Yorker—the one suffering from the Golightly/Bradshaw syndrome.

After reading an inspired book review of Sam Wasson’s Fifth Avenue, 5 a.m.,I got to thinking” about a large group of women’s fascination with the “single, fabulous, promiscuous” type and how the false promise of a whimsy, sexy New York life attracts people like my cousin to this city.

Young girls and older girls flock to tours offering pre-paid cosmos and squeeze their way into crazy shoes in the show’s name. They have passion parties and swear by little black dresses. The truth is Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a sad novella. Sex in the city is a problem. Cosmos make you fat.

These fictional women are probably more hollow (and insensitive) than their social stature and taste suggest. Their actions have few or no repercussions. No matter how independent and interesting they might claim to be, they need a man’s validation. Also, “in a city like New York,” Carrie Bradshaw’s writing skills would never be celebrated.

It’s time for a new kind of heroine. Preferably one whose only achievement is not going to the deli in a bra.