Tuesday, April 22, 2014

NY Portals

Well, this is how we started wasn't it?

For free.

On blogspot.

Web 1.0.

I owe a lot to the internet. I won my first March Madness pool as a kid reading The Sporting News for free online. I saw a photoshopped naked Daisy Fuentes in an AOL Chat Room thanks to the internet. And I bought my first plane ticket to New York using the internet...

But this week, I'm leaving. By 6pm Friday, I'll be living in Venice. I've been really fucking angry about leaving for a few weeks now but I woke up today and finally realized why...

I got an email from Kim's Video announcing a closing sale. For those that live in the city and run around downtown, you know that Kim's is one of the last remaining landmarks of the East Village. It is the CBGB's of video stores. The Mecca of Clerks. The Sultan of Cult. When I came to the city 109 months ago, I had no idea what Glenn O'Brien's TV Party or High School by Frederick Wiseman were, but Kim's put me on. I browsed the aisles, talked to the people, and got put on to sub culture I never knew existed. Most of my life, I'd been seeing things that the matrix allowed me to see. The things that studios had the money to put in front of a kid growing up in Orlando, Florida. Kim's was the antithesis and stood for every thing democracy should be but isn't.

At Kim's every film was represented. If you wanted Michael Bay films, they had a section, but so did Frederick Wiseman, Werner Herzog, and Maya Deren. There were signs pointing to employee favorites, cult films, German Cinema, East Asian Cinema, every thing screaming at you to get weird and give it a chance. I imagined each of these directors like neighborhoods being subsidized by Kim's. In the outside world, none of them had a chance in today's globalized capitalism, but at Kim's with the right curation, affirmative action, and cultural welfare they got the attention they deserved. I walked in as a kid that got lost after buying a hetzi-hetzi (half and half falafel/shwarma) at Mahmoun's down the street with no idea what I was walking into, but democracy in the form of Kim's worked. Every employee had a different opinion, they lobbied for different films, but inevitably with the wealth of information and guidance I made my own informed decisions. After much deliberation, the first film I ever bought at Kim's was Black Orientations starring Avena Lee and Nautica Thorn. Clearly, this choice was evidence that the education gap between Orlando and the East Village was a chasm one visit to Kim's couldn't cross.

But eventually, with a lot of hard work and several visits to Kim's a bridge was built. I actually listened to the clerks and paid attention to the signs and symbols. I resisted going past the red curtain and started buying films intended for viewing without a sock on your penis. The movies were just the beginning because a lot of the cultures and scenes depicted were right here in the city. As I walked around, I recognized certain landmarks, stores, restaurants, streets, and even people. The films opened up worlds to me that I dove into further and further until I forgot how I even got there. 9 years later, I look back and realize that Kim's was this portal into New York City I never came back from. Every thing in my life, I can somehow attribute to finding Kim's, but the saddest part is that this portal is closing.

I know that as one portal closes, another one opens and that the weirdos in the matrix will constantly create new rabbit holes, but we have to remember the things that got us here. I'm sure there are thousands of kids like me that stumbled into Kim's and never came back. That can't even remember who they were before encountering that store and the things that it represented. Whether it was Kim's or Amoeba or Burkina, these stores changed people's lives because they provided the first moments where things felt real. We saw works that were raw, irreverent, and untouched by the matrix. They were stores that dedicated themselves to representing the cultures forgotten by capitalism because most stores understand it's easier to sell you the high fructose nutrient vortex bull shit you already want. They preach to the choir and don't make it their job to educate you. They feed you the best marketed soma at the lowest possible price until it fucking kills you and every thing you care about. #Poison

What's most upsetting about leaving the city is that I won't be around to defend it. When you love something as much as I love the city, you want to be there when it needs you. And frankly the city needs all of us right now. (The only reason I agreed to leave is because hopefully I can do something by being on the other side debating the dominant culture that put us in this predicament, but I don't want to talk about my project. This post is all about the city.) It's constantly under attack and none of our blocks look the same day to day. Every where I look, scaffoldings stare at me like the plague descending on the city that made me who I am. I've thought about this a long time and there are three things that I believe we can do.

1) SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS - fuck internet business. I've been guilty of this as well and I have gone to Kim's, looked at videos, and bought them cheaper on the internet but I stopped years ago. You have to pay respects to the businesses that put you on and serve as ambassadors of culture and the neighborhood. Pay the extra couple bucks because once we give our neighborhoods up to the internet, we'll never get them back. Slowly, the internet has turned the entire world into one giant Walmart that sacrifices every thing for falling prices. Conscious consumption is one of our last tools because god knows $ spent at the right place counts more than a vote these days. Nothing is free and if you like something pay for it cause other wise it'll be gone.

2) BUILD YOUR OWN PORTALS - if you don't like the shit businesses in your neighborhood, do something about it. Represent for your culture through commerce. There is a difference between commodifying or appropriating a culture and making it viable. Being viable in the market place allows your culture to survive in 2014. You can absolutely make your voice valuable without compromising it. That's one of the biggest problems with counter culture is this belief that getting big is selling out. It's not. You can absolutely grow with the ideals you came with if you fight the vultures every single day. It's harder, but its necessary.

3) STOP BEING IRONIC NIHILISTS - If you walk around with your eyes open, there's a lot to be upset about, but we can't be nihilists about it forever. Yes, I feel like we are powerless at times and left with the proverbial bag here, but it's not over. THE JEDI WILL RETURN MOTHER FUCKERS. But it starts with us and it sounds cheesy but if you see wack mother fuckers supporting Walmart, AMC, or McDonald's say something. Support the independent theatres, shows, and venues. It's not fucking funny to eat McRibs even though I post it on my IG when it returns, I don't actually eat it but I promise this year to not ironically promote the return of the McRib because genetically engineered water added rib meat is going to kill all of us.

Don't cry for me Argentina. Just consider this my White Men Can't Jump moment where the city lent Rosie Perez to Venice. JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE UR BOY WILL COME BACK LIKE THE 18TH LETTER... BAOHAUS LIVES

12 comments:

  1. This -- Conscious consumption is one of our last tools because god knows $ spent at the right place counts more than a vote these days.

    I never knew to put it in words but you are absolutely right.

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  2. Talking about portals, this piece reminded me of one of my own, Grand park in Chinatown. I loved watching the Puerto Ricans and Chinese people playing handball, intense handball. It was like a stage to me; a place where I can wear my request or jnco's (lol) among others that understood the fashion. When thirsty, you can always go to the grocery store kitty corner of the park for a big ass bottle of water for a dollar.
    Whenever I go back, I still feel a bit of nostalgia. It's one of the places New York transplants still don't fucks with for the most part.
    I haven't lived in nyc for a good ten years. It has definitely changed. I really miss the days when nyc looked like "Kids" and the radio bumped tribe called quest on the top40 station. When handball courts disappear, then I will truly be hit by the new york minute.
    Sorry to hear about your portal closing down. I'm sad to say this but at the rate nyc is going, I feel like it will be one large Walmart, filled with a bunch of clowns. Maybe neighboring cities will hold some nyc-like elements then. I pray ;p

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  4. It's understandable that you have an emotional connection to that video store but you have to realize this is what technology is. As a young person in his 20's I grew up with the Internet and can't remember the last time I bought a film. Maybe this is because of our age gap. If we don't adapt to technology, technology will leave us behind. Welcome to LA.

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  5. europe ain't ready, but i hope you're set.

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  6. When you get to LA - check out EDDIE BRANDT'S SATURDAY MATINEE.... It's a massive cinema k-hole, deep and dangerous, just like Kim's, but it's LA.

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  7. Welcome to LA. Hit up your Taiwanese homies in SGV.

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  8. Do you ever confront that you are bitter physically repulsive racist whose views are little different than Donald Sterling? Although your bogeymen are the evil "whites" who somehow have tried to keep you down even as they gave you innumerable jobs in journalism, publishing, and now television, and were the bulk of clientele at your shitty restaurants?

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