The ink has barely dried on the special election for Sheldon Silver’s 65th district state assembly seat and we’re already sprinting towards the general primary in September. Less than a week after Alice Cancel won a controversial election for the seat, Jenifer Rajkumar, a Democratic district leader in the financial district, officially threw her hat in the ring and announced her campaign for the position.
In case you haven’t noticed the litany of passive aggressive, condescending, or otherwise ignorant status updates flooding your Facebook feed, it’s voting day for the New York primaries y’all! And the questions on everyone’s mind remain: Are we Cruzin’ for a Trump bruisin’? And, as Carolyn Hines, a poll station volunteer at Cooper Park Houses joked, “You wanna know if we feelin the Bern or if we Hillary Clinton? Because we can’t really say that.”
But not everyone who visited the East Williamsburg polling station today was in such high spirits, and that’s actually why we showed up on the scene. As we found out on Twitter this morning, some local voters arrived at their designated voting site at the crack of dawn (no doubt some of them hoping to cast their vote before work started this morning) only to find that they were SOL.
Bernie Sanders supporters showed up in droves today at the candidate’s Brooklyn rally, undeterred by the nippy cold weather and wind gusts that sent even the NYPD tugboat off of Greenpoint’s Transmitter Park a’bobbin (perfectly in-synch with the pump-up soundtrack’s reggae rotation, I might add). The mood was elated as the Brooklynite presidential candidate prepares to battle it out with Hillary Clinton for New York state delegates, a fight set to go down on her (sort-of) home turf less than two weeks from today.
“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.”
If you don’t know who the North Brooklyn Democratic District Leader is at this point, well, then you probably haven’t attended too many Community Board 1 meetings, and it’s also safe to say that you’re definitely not a member of the Brooklyn Young Democrats. But if you live in or around Greenpoint or Williamsburg and care to be involved in the future of the Democratic Party or the Progressive movement, rest assured there are easier ways to get to know Nick Rizzo than crashing a tedious land-use committee hearing.
For one, you could always convene with Rizzo on the Lower East Side, where you’ll find him working behind the bar at 151. It was clearly a slow night when I stopped by last week (he’d just finished doing the glamorous work of juicing some oranges), so Rizzo had some time to chat about Bernie Sanders, Elena Ferrante, and a rather awkward encounter at Vito Lopez’s wake, among other things.
Already ground zero for some of the city’s most dramatic rezonings, Williamsburg is facing yet another contentious development: an eight-story, 480,000-square-foot office complex known as the Brooklyn Generator. On Tuesday, Community Board 1 met to vote on whether or not to support the creation of a special mixed-use zone that would allow developers to move forward with the massive project. And they didn’t take the matter lightly. “This is going to affect us for the rest of our lives,” CB1 chairperson Dealice Fuller said of the board’s decision.
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.
Tenants and activists who are part of the Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition (STS) rallied outside of 90 Elizabeth Street this morning before marching to City Hall to show their support for a package of bills that would address construction-related harassment. Today marks an important landmark for the coalition’s fight against landlords who are taking advantage of a lack of oversight and toothless fines.
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.”
Swiping in at the Nassau stop yesterday, I happened to look down to the ground, and instead of spent MetroCards, I found a smattering of small flyers printed by the Brooklyn Anti-Gentrification Network (BAN) depicting two rather gentlemanly pigs looking fondly into one another’s eyes, carving up a piece of juicy meat with utensils. The fat slab reads “Brooklyn,” while the rest of the flyer called on residents to join BAN outside the Brooklyn Museum. Starting at 7 a.m., protestors demonstrated their outrage against the annual Brooklyn Real Estate Summit happening inside, and emphasizing that, in general, they’re not really cool with Brooklyn being treated like a fine cut of meat. “Land is for people, not necessarily for the elite,” a community garden activist told the crowd. “Brooklyn’s not for sale! Brooklyn’s not for sale!” the protestors chanted back.
Hillarymania may have already staked its claim in Brooklyn Heights, but Bernie Fever has been something of a slow burner across the borough. A couple of upcoming fundraising events are evidence that Bernie supporters are now igniting on-the-ground efforts in Bushwick and beyond, tapping into what Jon Fuhrer, organizer of the Bushwick Berners, describes as the “young white hipsterish” demographic. Fuhrer explained fundraising events like his aren’t just for “keeping things fresh and fun for that group of people” — they also aim to “get people excited so they actually want to go into the community and help organize.”
Last year, Clayton Patterson announced that he and Elsa Rensaa, his partner and collaborator of more than 40 years, were moving from the Lower East Side to a small spa town in Austria. Lucky for anyone who admires his unflagging commitment to keeping it real and his tirades against the processes of gentrification and corporatization (see: his damning of Taylor Swift as the city’s cultural ambassador), the 66-year-old outsider artist, photographer, tattoo artist, dissident, and haberdasher who is known to many as the neighborhood’s “last bohemian” is not just still residing there, he also has a new solo exhibition. If you haven’t had a chance to see “Outside In” at Howl! Happening, tonight is the night to do so: the gallery will be screening Captured, the must-see documentary about Clayton’s obsessive documentation of the city as it once was.