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Escaping Time Proves Pruno’s Not the Only thing Handcrafted with Pride in Prison

(Flyer via "Escaping Time")

(Flyer via “Escaping Time”)

Governors Island is more than just another out-of-the-way-ish New York City nook. After years of abandonment, the island’s only recently embarked on a steady climb towards reclamation and it remains largely stuck in the past, having missed out on years of the progress seen by the rest of the city while interned as an exclusive home for military officers, then a coast guard haven, before it was abandoned altogether in 1996, left to hang in an off-limits sort of limbo, with nature serving as its only developer.

Fresh off the ferry, you might be only 800 yards from Lower Manhattan, but as you make your way inland, the Manhattan skyline starts to disappear, obscured by the super old Fort Jay, untrimmed trees, shrubs, and rolling grassy hills. The sirens fade into the background too, and time itself seems to slow down.

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Sparkly New Condo Smells Funny? Find Out If It’s Industrial Poison With This Map

(Screenshot via ToxiCity map, Neighbors Allied for Good Growth and Pratt)

(Screenshot via ToxiCity map, Neighbors Allied for Good Growth and Pratt)

Depending on where you look, North Brooklyn is still replete with rusty reminders of its fairly recent manufacturing past, but as that history recedes farther off into the distance, pushed along by developers mining the cityscape for residential conversions (and now, slick new tech office space too), the memory of what stood there before is fading too. The area’s transformation has proceeded so quickly and dramatically that many new residents have no idea that they’re living next to an old pencil factory, or in some cases a Brownfield site.

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Anarchists Aiming to Stop ‘Bushwick II’ Development in Its Tracks

The Base, Bushwick’s anarchist hub. (Photo: Karissa Gall)

The Base, Bushwick’s anarchist hub. (Photo: Karissa Gall)

It was difficult to ignore the fluttering signs at last week’s Bushwick Community Plan meeting. Sure, they were black-and-white, only about as big as two sheets of computer paper and just as flimsy, but there were tons of them. As City Council members Antonio Reynoso and Rafael Espinal touted their community-driven alternative to developer-led change, almost everyone sitting in front of them seemed to be holding a flyer reading: “EVICT THE RICH.” The rallying cry may have been more Mao Tse-tung than #BushwickBerners, but the Brooklyn Solidarity Network (BSN) couldn’t have been more serious. 

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Founder of PETA Talks Dangling Naked in a Meat Market and Other Victories

(Flyer via No Filter)

(Flyer via No Filter)

Later on tonight, you might be brushing your teeth and instead of that familiar googly-eyed likeness staring back at you (everyone has that problem, right?) you’ll see nothing less than an animal abuser, or perhaps even a slave owner if you choose to be really honest with yourself. Your French bulldog Greg will suddenly seem like a sullen prisoner in that skin-tight raincoat you force him to wear on the reg, even when it’s a cloudless, sweltering 90-degree July day and he’s emitting piercing, parrot-like screams as he struggles to escape. And those Bob Evans sausage griddles you chased with a tall glass of heavy whipping cream for dinner? Well, your Wienerwurst Wednesday tradition might seem, suddenly, very disgusting.

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Listen to Die Jim Crow, ‘The First Anti-Prison Album Recorded in Prison’

The UMOJA choir (Photo courtesy of Fury Young)

The UMOJA choir (Photo by Catherine Roma, courtesy of Fury Young)

“I need to get into a women’s prison. I need to get into another men’s prison. Maybe I can get into two women’s prisons, or three more men’s prisons,” Fury Young said, punching his open hand with his fist emphatically. “I don’t know, but I want to try and at least get into one more of each.”

I realized the Bushwick-based prison reform activist wasn’t really directing this statement toward me– instead he was drilling himself about what remains left of his enormously ambitious passion project. For years, Young has been at work on Die Jim Crow– an effort that, so far, has taken him to a State Prison in Ohio and to neighborhoods in New York City and Philadelphia with particularly high incarceration rates. Along the way, he has recorded and collaborated with musicians who, at one time or another, have spent time behind bars or are currently locked up. “It’s the first anti-prison album recorded in prison,” he explained.

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From the Allen Street Boys to Satan’s Sinners, Street Gangs of the Lower East Side

Clayton Patterson's new book with Jose "Cochise" Quiles, cover photo by Clayton Patterson (Image: Nicole Disser)

Clayton Patterson’s new book with Jose “Cochise” Quiles, cover photo by Clayton Patterson (Image: Nicole Disser)

Last week, Elliot Caldwell was fatally shot outside of Campos Plaza, the NYCHA public housing project where he’d grown up. An EV Grieve commenter noted that the 23-year-old had been arrested in 2013 when the Manhattan DA busted alleged members of the Money Boyz, a coke-dealing gang based out of the East Village housing project. DNAinfo wrote that a woman claiming to be Caldwell’s aunt told reporters: “He was a great father. He changed his life for his son. He just got caught up in a bad situation.”

The NYPD told B+B that the suspect in Caldwell’s shooting is described as a “black male wearing a red hoodie,” who “fled from the scene on foot.” So far there have been no arrests, and police say the investigation is ongoing.

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Rev. Billy: Stop ‘Lining Up For Cupcakes’ and ‘Switch Allegiance to the Earth’

The new book from Reverend Billy (Image courtesy of Rev. Billy)

The new book from Reverend Billy (Image courtesy of Rev. Billy)

“Have you been to one of our shows lately?” Reverend Billy asked me. The answer was– no, I have not. Not ever. In my chat with the eco-activist, author, and radical preacher who “prays to life on earth,” I was curious to know what in heaven’s name a Reverend was doing on the calendar at a Bushwick DIY venue like Market Hotel. But Billy’s explanation brought everything together for me. “They’re a little like mosh pits,” he explained. “It’s a punk gospel for life. It’s a laboratory for getting going again.”

A teaser like that is hard to turn your back on, and so is the Reverend’s larger environmental message: consumerism and “nation-state allegiances” stand in the way of our relationship with the Earth. As the effects of climate change become increasingly apparent, there’s a new kind of urgency to changing our ways, and Reverend Billy believes that calls for physical, direct action are the only way to foment radical change. But when he’s not putting his body on the line to preach against the further slaughter of the earth, the Reverend is hosting shows like the one happening this weekend at the Market Hotel. “I’m trying to preach here,” he said, exasperated. “And along with the choir, we’re trying to inspire activism in our audience.”

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At Big Al Screening, Sharpton’s ‘Right Hand Man’ Hashes Out Black Lives Matter

 (Film still from "Big Al")

(Film still from “Big Al”)

The Reverend himself was supposed to be at the Wythe Hotel for Wednesday’s screening of Big Al: a Week in the Life of the Reverend Al Sharpton, but he ended up ditching out for a special civil rights summit convened by President Obama yesterday. Which, I guess is understandable. Instead, a big-screen version of Sharpton in his heyday filled the room.

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Embittered By Corruption and Displacement, LES Neighbors Coalition Demands to See the Mayor

At the Chinatown coalition's meeting (Photo: )

At the Chinatown coalition’s meeting (Photo: Anneke Rautenbach)

At an emotional Lower East Side town hall meeting on Saturday afternoon, hundreds of concerned residents, a number of small business owners, and representatives of community organizations were visibly upset. Instead of being met by Mayor Bill de Blasio himself, they were greeted by a representative from the administration. “We have been reaching out to him for months,” Jei Fong, a coalition representative, told B+B. “We personally invited him to this meeting. This is a real slap in the face.”

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Saul Williams On MartyrLoserKing: ‘I’m Trying to Redefine Gangster’

Saul Williams (Photo Credit: Sam Gillette).

Saul Williams (Photo Credit: Sam Gillette).

Saul Williams — the well-known poet, musician and actor who got his start at dark, intimate open mics throughout Brooklyn in the ’90s, rose to prominence at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and recently starred on Broadway in Holler If Ya Hear Me — will release a new collection of poetry, US (a.)on Sept. 15. Beyond the book, he’s also in the midst of creating his multi-media project MartyrLoserKing (MLK). Earlier this summer, Williams finished a nation-wide tour to promote the album, which will drop in early 2016. Now he’s writing the script for the MLK film — a deviation from the play he originally envisioned. The third leg of the project is the same-titled graphic novel, which will also be released in 2016.

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Anarchy-Lovin’ Film Fest to Occupy Local Community Gardens

11119867_985279054836993_1839671042149029268_o (1)It’s no secret the East Village has gone through immense changes over the last few decades, but some institutions from the pre-$20 cocktail days have stuck around. The Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, a DIY project that occupies the storefront of C-Squat, is dedicated to preserving the history of that squat and others. And MoRUS’s third-annual film fest, I Heart NRCHY: Subversion & the City continues the narrative of political and social activism and anarcho-community organizing.

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‘Trail of Tears’ Is a Clear-Eyed Look at America’s ‘First Genocide’

(Photo Credit: Sam Gillette)

(Photo Credit: Sam Gillette)

“This is a chance to look at the first genocide,” said director Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj as he opened last night’s performance of “Trail of Tears” at The Nuyorican Poets Café. The emotional storm of dance, song and soliloquy casts a satirical eye on the forced relocation of Native Americans in the 1830s.

Though too often forgotten, Maharaj said, the tragedy served as a precursor to the enslavement of Africans – bruises on the face of this country that have yet to heal. He quoted a long-gone English chief: “When you acknowledge the dead, the dead stand taller.”

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