Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Roll-Down Gates

Someday, thanks to Bloomberg's City Council, the flat-front security gates of New York will all be gone. As EV Grieve wrote, it's "another step toward making NYC completely sanitized."

The Times wrote of the gates, "They have provided the clattering soundtrack of dawn and dusk, the steel canvas of struggling artists, the most compelling evidence that the city does, indeed, sleep." Many people would like to see the gates saved, maybe turned into art.

One of those people is filmmaker Neil Goldberg.



Back in 1996, Neil Goldberg put together a short video called "Hallelujah Anyway No. 2." In the film, it is early morning on First Avenue in the East Village. Businesspeople are rolling up their metal gates. One after another, the gates clatter up into the eaves. They are rusty, noisy, and covered in graffiti. They are emblematic.



Today, many of the businesses in the film have vanished.



ReelNY interviewed Goldberg about the film in 1997. He said:

"I would notice when I pass someone opening their gates in the morning that I would have totally different reactions to it depending on how I was feeling that day. Like, 'Oh, how depressing, starting yet another day of selling, whatever, selling Drake's Cookies.' Or 'Yes, okay, we can do it,' you know, and feel ridiculous optimism."

"Also, I'm interested in dance... So, I love the particular gesture of lifting those gates, and the way that same movement passes over different bodies."

The film will be shown tonight, Feb 2, at The Kitchen.



Thanks to Mr. Goldberg for providing stills from his lovely film.

11 comments:

EV Grieve said...

This is a great idea for a film... Is it available to watch anywhere...?

Jeremiah Moss said...

it used to be, but it's not now.

c.o. moed said...

I've always wanted to live in Celebration, FL without having to leave NY!

Goggla said...

That opening/closing gate sound is one of my favorites...the quiet that follows after they come down at night signals that after-hours calm. And the painted ones are really great - one of my faves is the pirate kid on the gate of the hardware store on 2nd Ave near 3rd St.

Aren't these gates to prevent windows being smashed? Time to invest in plate-glass window manufacturing...

James Taylor said...

The storefront gate opening is one of the quintessential New York morning sounds. Especially in summer, when I associate it with dappled sunlight and hosing sidewalks.

Computer Genius is now a nail shop. First Avenue Meat Products is now Cheapshots. There's still a 9th Street Bakery but I don't think it's the same location.

Funny how images from the pre-digital nineties look so good, and so old. It doesn't seem so long ago...

Barbara Hanson said...

When I hear certain gates on my block go down, I know it's time for bed. A comforting, constant presence in my life.

Raul "Rez" Barquet said...

What is supposed to replace the gates?

Jeremiah Moss said...

the turn from the butcher shop to cheapshots is unfortunate.

i had to be in that bar recently and watched a drunk 20-something girl squeal, "i love this song!" when Like a Virgin came on, then proceed to totter down the length of the bar, pretending to be a stripper, until she slipped and fell ass-first onto a guy's head. laughs all around.

Anonymous said...

Everyone will continue to hear the gates go up and down, albeit likely not quite as loud. It is simply changing the solid metal face gates with the 'chain-link', see-through variety. Not that anyone reading this wants to hear it, but the chain link gates give the street a more open, less "lock-down' feel. In fact many storefronts already have them, such as the NE corner of Ave A and East 3rd.
And I've never met a shop owner (and I'd be surprised if VNY or EVG has) who enjoyed the grafitti (nee "Art") on his store front gates.

Jill said...

I had a job in Inwood where I had to periodically open the gates. It was a hard business pulling that stubborn chain while dirty water spilled on my head.

Anonymous said...

Apparently no one remembers how there WERE NO GATES before the blackout and riots in the mid 1970s. They appeared everywhere, dimming the streets—the siewalks used to be lit by the light spilling from the storefronts. This ended abruptly in 1977.

Bunch of kids posting here, assuming they were *always here*. Not so!

—Andrew Porter