Monday, November 16, 2015

The Party's Over

Lately, there's been a reappearance of the infamous East Village graffiti symbol "The Party's Over," the upside-down martini glass created by Peter Missing to protest gentrification and development in the neighborhood.

You'll see them around if you look. There's one now on the plywood that wraps the construction of Ben "The Sledgehammer" Shaoul's 100 Avenue A, where the ground-floor retail space was just listed at $24.5 million.

In silver marker someone has written EAT THE RICH and MUG A YUPPIE.

"The martini glass became a symbol of causing trouble," radical comic book artist Seth Tobocman told the Times in 2002. "To a lot of people it said, 'Start something."

Is someone trying to start something today, in this new age of hyper-gentrification? Peter Missing replies on Facebook: "this is not my writing ,,,,nor would i ever write mug a yuppie ,,,,,,the sad side of people coopting my logo."

For history on this, check out "Cult of Rage," a 1988 news report on the "shadowy group" Missing Foundation and the early days of gentrification in the East Village. Witches! Yuppies! Mysterious satanic rituals! And for more on The Missing Foundation, visit Flaming Pablum.


MKS said...

I lived in the L.E.S. during the Missing Foundation days, and remember those symbols being everywhere. There was a lot of negativity in that part of town back then - not just depression and drugs, but vicious nihilism. Weird cult groups (Process Chuch and the like), satanists, black magicians, and psychos whom my "nose" for evil people told me to avoid. One of them, Daniel Rakowitz, killed his girlfriend/roommmate and cooked her flesh and served it in sandwiches to people in Tompkins Square Park. (Police found her head in a cooking pot.) That Missing guy twice tried to pick fights with me at bars - recalling a high school bully whose dad abused him.

People like to nostalgize about the E. Vill as being a homey community protected by beneficent drug dealers - but the place was just that "E-Vil." Not just criminally perilous, but malevolently treacherous. People can sentimentally nostalgize that brand of negativity, if they want - but if slogans on public surfaces wasn't enough, back then, to reverse the trend, it certainly isn't now.

In the segment you embedded, Taibbi scoffs at "squatters" trying to gain real estate, but back in the '80s people were taking advantage of the City's homesteading law, whereby one could buy an abandoned building for $1 at City Hall and eventually own it fully by making improvements according to a schedule thereof, getting the building "up to code" in a certain amount of time: the roof, the wiring, the plumbing, and so on. I myself remember squatters becoming homesteaders in 1985.

Too bad about that Missing guy - I'd liked his band's records; they were incredible, scary, and innovative. I recommend them, still. I understand that he's toned his 'tude down (as we all have, if we're not dead) and does real art now.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Comment from The Shadow:

Those of who were there and have been active on the LES laughed at the absurdities sleaze "reporter" Mike Taibbi presented in his "Cult of Rage" thing broadcast by CBS in 1989 or 1990, but it was a serious attempt to smear and demonize the victims of marauding kops who descended on Tompkins Square from all over the city on the evening of August 6, 1988, in a Jets vs Sharks-style rumble, implying that a band called Missing Foundation started the riot, not the kops who beat the crap out of anyone in their sights.

I suspect that the return of the upside-down martini glass (in the 1980s, it meant "The Party's Over" -- it originated during Prohibition, when feds would scrawl the symbol on the exterior of speakeasies that had been shut down) in the area of Tompkins Square is a response to the hyper-gentrification suffocating and killing what little is left of our neighborhood and culture.

I'm certainly digging it!!

East Village Today said...

MKS had it right when he said that if "slogans on public surfaces wasn't enough, back then, to reverse the trend, it certainly isn't now."

It's more likely Peter Missing's dementia behind this than anything else.

Unknown said...

Here's a message posted by Peter Missing on Facebook, regarding those tags on Ave. A: "this is not my writing ,,,,nor would i ever write mug a yuppie ,,,,,,the sad side of people coopting my logo"

Jeremiah Moss said...

Thanks Christopher, I'll add that to the post.

Caleo said...

Agree with MKS in many ways. I arrived in 88' and the LES had more than it's fair share of weirdos and creeps, some of them aggressively violent. I do reminisce about the old days and feel the good outweighed the bad, but I also had the sense to steer clear of the real psychos and the violence which was always very close and personal on the streets. I had more than a few run ins but was young and strong enough to defend myself. Many others weren't as lucky, and everyone I knew back then, both native and transplant, had at least one tale to tell about stick ups and muggings or close calls with wackos on the street.
Back in 88' Tompkins was overrun with mentally ill homeless people and predators, particularly at night.
Let's not glamorize the reality of the LES back then. There were an incredible number of very talented people and larger groups of scenesters and groupies that made the nabe dynamic and interesting at all times, but there were an equal or greater number of ne'er do wells who could ruin your day, or your life, if you happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Spanky said...

Missing Foundation gave their band and logo greater meaning by turning it into a symbol of resistance. We do not intend to reverse this trend merely by posting slogans on public surfaces. What we are doing is meant to create a ripple effect. This is meant to serve as a rallying cry.

Our HOME is not an entertainment zone. THE PARTY IS OVER.

In the face of gentrification/class war, we are not giving up.
We outnumber the invaders and we are ROOTED here. CAN YOU DIG IT??

We are tired of sitting by, watching as these parasites feed on our culture and destroy their host in the process.

"Somebody should do something!" You ARE somebody and you CAN do something.
Stop waiting and take action. Organize into cells. Use your imagination. IT IS NEVER TOO LATE.

Charles Klossner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.