After the news broke here last week, thanks to a JVNY reader, that the Fat Black Pussycat sign was painted over, the mainstream media has followed up with lots of choice quotes from the owner of the building who did the painting.
He doesn't really say why it was painted now, after 50 years of leaving it alone, after telling the Times in 1999, "We have no intention of covering it up,'' but he does say a lot about his feelings on landmarking, the Village, and memories of the Pussycat. A selection...
After photo from JVNY tipster
From the Wall Street Journal:
“The Pussycat represented the worst of what the Village was,” said Bob Engelhardt, 84 years old, who has owned the building since the theater closed in 1963. “When you wanted to get drugs, get into fights and get with underage girls the Pussycat was where you went.”
“The Village was never about rules,” Engelhardt said. “Making someone ask for permission before painting a building is the exact opposite of what made the Village what it was.”
From the Times' City Room:
“Why don’t we just take the whole world and set it in concrete?” asked Panchito's owner. “That would save everything.”
“The Village was freedom, it wasn’t a concreted-over straitjacket,” he said.
“I’ve lived in the village since ’51,” he said. “The Fat Black Pussycat in my opinion was a cesspool. You could barely see anybody because of the smoke, and you couldn’t talk to anybody because half of the people you wanted to talk to wanted to sell you narcotics.”
Engelhardt said painting over the sign was his own right and was not meant to stir neighborhood controversy. "It had nothing to do with the Pussycat, as such," he said. "It didn't go with the building. We are not landmarked and hopefully never will be."
"You went to the Pussycat if you wanted to smoke pot, buy drugs, get in a fight...or if you wanted to pick up underage girls," he said.
from the Daily Mail:
"There are buildings that are worth preserving. Ninety per cent of what's in the Village isn't."
"The Village was freedom. The Village was not rules and regulations set in concrete. It destroys everything the Village was always famous for."
Channel 7 News:
Said Englehardt, to preserve this part of the Village "would put a straitjacket on the entire area, allowing the PC police and taste Nazis to run everything."
In conclusion, after all the hubbub, one thing we can say: At least the sign was painted over by a true Village character.