Last time we spoke to JJ Brine, the man behind “the official art gallery of Satan,” he told us that Donald J. Trump was “pure poison.” That was in August, right after the Republican National Convention. JJ, the self-declared “Crown Prince of Hell,” refused to say much more about the GOP candidate, even though Brine had his own political agenda: He had just tabled a plan to bring Vector Gallery to Washington D.C. in order to “‘program” the presidential elections and cause “systemic shifts in the geopolitical configuration of power in the Middle East.”
On the heels of President Trump signing three executive orders “designed to restore safety in America,” City Council Member Antonio Reynoso is condemning the actions as “deeply concerning.” In a statement, he says it was “only fitting” that Trump signed the orders “while swearing in noted racist Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.”
Perhaps you’ve noticed that, since sometime late last week, almost everywhere you turn, people are in a rather dour mood. Could it be that nothing feels quite so exciting after watching a limousine burst into flames? Is it all downhill from here? True, Inauguration Day was pretty insane for a lot of people, and as good-quality club drugs have taught us, even the most gorgeously wild highs will inevitably come crashing down.
From what I understand, civic engagement is somewhat different than partying all night, but then again, getting back on the protest pony is just as taxing as snapping out of a hangover stupor– in both cases, technology makes things easier, but also harder. Why not just retweet some sick “Down with Prez Cheeto” slogan? Or if you’re really not in any hurry, there’s always Shia LaBeouf’s anti-Trump livestream— just be sure to get there sometime within the next four years.
But perhaps techy slacktivism really grinds your gears. Maybe you’re convinced that you have more to contribute than turning your body into an object of Monsieur LaBeouf’s amusement, but let’s be real, acting like a Shepard Fairey mural will just get you into trouble. (See, even Shia LaBeouf is not immune.) So how does one avoid either doing too little or going too far, both of which have equally great potential for compounding our current nightmare exponentially forever and ever? City Reliquary is here to help with a new series that promises to make you feel less ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ about democratic citizenry.
You might have noticed that since the election, stories of hate crimes and swastika sightings have been everywhere. But the increase isn’t simply due to a greater public interest in issues like police brutality and racially-motivated violence– hate crimes themselves have actually been on the rise. And quantifiably so: in the first 10 days after Trump’s victory, the Southern Poverty Law Center documented 867 “bias-related incidents” across the country. (And yet, the government itself has no reliable way of tracking hate crime. “That’s because reporting of hate crimes is voluntary, not mandatory,” CNN reported yesterday.)
As New Yorkers, we live in one of the most progressive and diverse cities in the nation, so we might think that hate crimes only happen in rural America, and are therefore not our problem. Unfortunately, that’s just patently false. Back in November, Governor Cuomo said that the “ugly political discourse” of the campaign trail has only gotten worse, having transformed into an all-out “social crisis” of hate crime and intolerance. “This fear and this anger, misdirected, seeks an enemy,” he said. “It seeks a target and that target has become people who we see as different than ourselves.” Recently, Cuomo launched a Statewide hotline for reporting “incidents of bias and discrimination.” According to the NYPD, hate crimes have been on the rise in the last year right here in New York City– as of November 13, 328 had been reported since the start of 2016. (As Gothamist noted, that’s a 31.5 percent increase since 2015.)
Ok, that’s a little overwhelming. So how can we even begin to respond to awful garbage like this?
After months of pleading with Westminster City Living to restore cooking gas and address a litany of repairs in her aging East Village tenement building, Jennifer Hengen and other members of the 118 East 4th Street tenant association had reached their breaking point. “It was like waiting for Godot,” she recalled.
Not only had the building’s real-estate management company, headed by Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, neglected to fix problems in her building, and many more across the neighborhood, but tenants felt as if the problems didn’t really matter to management. “We’re invisible to them because we’re not millionaires,” she said. “I just don’t think we’re taken very seriously– number one, because we’re not in one of the big, shiny buildings and, number two, because we are rent-stabilized.”
Last week, a mysterious Instagram account began posting photos of Ivanka Trump looking her usual perfect self, primped, stilettoed, and precisely preened to sexy-career-girl perfection. If you were scrolling too quickly, you might have mistaken @dear_ivanka for a fan account, with over 7,5oo followers. But it was actually the first satirical social media action of Halt Action Group, a grassroots protest organization that’s appealing to Ivanka as the Trump administration’s “voice of reason.”
The video shows Contessa Stuto pretty much topless in the middle of an Election Night party on the Bowery, with a submissive dog-girl yipping wildly at her feet. According to the musician and founder of the Cunt Mafia record and fashion label, there was nothing too crazy about this. “That’s just me in the club anyway,” she explained.
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With the announcement of Donald Trump’s jaw-dropping victory on Wednesday morning, a massive question mark now hangs over the country. Will Trump’s reign be equally as volatile as the GOP candidate’s campaign? Hard to say, since the guy clearly gave very few shits about consistency. What’s more, it’s often next to impossible to understand what, if anything, Trump believes in (even his own ghostwriter has described Trump as a “living black hole”). But our first “orange president” has made one promise resoundingly clear: Immigrants are going to get hit hard.
The mood was shifting just as I made my way toward House of Yes around 10 pm last night. Commentators on NBC, CNN, and anywhere else were starting to look flustered– especially Wolf Blitzer (a guy who looks like he passed up coffee to stick his fingers into an electrical socket) whose discombobulated outbursts and spastic reportage were only adding to a slowly-building sense of panic. Many battlegroud states were still too close to call, but Trump and Hillary were now neck-and-neck. That menacing meter on the New York Times site, which measured the probability of a Trump victory, was jumping up from its position at “we’re cool” to “we’re so, so fucked.”
Last week’s video of Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault threw a giant dildo into a campaign that seemed impervious to shame, just as the candidate had almost started seeming more presidential (at least, in light of the spotty track record of previous presidents). As screwed up as the whole thing is, nothing in the video was all that surprising. The “locker room talk” only confirmed Trump’s image as a billionaire playboy who trades skyscrapers (his most phallic assets) like Pokémon cards, and gets whatever his little Trump desires.
“His whole image is vulgarly sexual in a way,” agreed Alfred Steiner, the curator of a very timely new art show. “And he’s played right into that the whole time.”
Let’s be real about this right up front– if we’re talking actual votes, Ralph Nader hasn’t exactly seen a lot of success as a presidential candidate. We’re taught that, as a third-party candidate who has run with the New Party, no party, and Green Party, Nader’s campaigns have been doomed from the start, just like those of every other non-binary (i.e. neither Democrat nor Republican) political player seeking the highest office (or really any office of consequence) in the land.
The way I’ve always understood them, psychedelics are much more than extremely potent drugs– far from being toys for recreational escapism, they’re actually a means of temporarily nullifying the crushing reality of routine by rendering the everyday in the starkest, most exaggerated terms. The truth becomes obvious and untruths are revealed.