Monday, July 11, 2016

Quotes on a Condo

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a photo of the Yves condo building in Chelsea, where Core Realty had on display a quote from Fran Lebowitz: "When you leave New York, you are astonished at how clean the rest of the world is. Clean is not enough."

Before (photo by mingum7)

We wondered if Fran would approve of having her words so appropriated--and in such an inappropriate fashion--for selling clean, sterile real estate. Signs point to: No, she didn't.

I left a message on Fran's answering machine (you just know she still has one of those) to tell her about the quote and now--it's gone. (I would love to know exactly how it all transpired.)


Still, several other quotes remain on the walls, mostly from bohemians talking about how New York is an exceptional place, not for typical Americans, where unusual things are happening. The sort of quotes that don't belong on a luxury condo, helping to sell other luxury condos, and in the ever less exceptional post-Bloombergian city. But the remaining quotes all come from dead people, so I can't call them up and alert them.

The only person in the bunch that does belong is Le Corbusier, the man who wanted to bulldoze New York City and fill it with dead, soulless boxes.

Djuna Barnes certainly should not be here. "New York is the meeting place of the peoples," she says from the northern wall of Yves, "the only city where you can hardly find a typical American."

As my friend Romy Ashby of Walkers in the City pointed out, "Djuna would have a fit" if she saw her words used this way. I asked Romy to share her thoughts:

"First of all, the quotes they chose all come up on the first list of '50 Best NYC quotes' when you go googling for easy quotes, so it's likely that whoever chose them had no idea who Djuna Barnes or Dylan Thomas were. And if they did know who they were, then it is completely tasteless to use their words to advertise 'residences' that neither of them would ever have been able to afford even if they'd wanted to live in one. I think they should have used the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: 'New York is a sucked orange.' It's much more apt, and I'm sure it wouldn't damage their sales."

She adds: "I know several people who knew Djuna Barnes when she lived in her little apartment on Patchin Place down by the Jefferson Market Library. She lived there for 42 years. She was extremely smart and she had a real temper and did not like being used. She was furious when a feminist bookshop opened in the Village called Djuna Books. She rang them up and demanded that they change the name. So I think it's pretty safe to guess that if Djuna were still alive and saw herself quoted as part of an ad campaign for pricey real estate splashed onto a big ugly stack like the one on 18th and 7th she would have a fit of considerable magnitude."

There is one more quote that's been added to the wall: "Evict Trump." That one should stay.


James said...

Something about "post-Bloombergian city" bothers me. It suggests that only under Mayor Mike did real estate developers figure out that they could evict tenants, tear down blocks, and see rents skyrocket - something even akin to modern Berlin (where, to my knowledge, Bloomberg was not mayor at any time). Not that Mayor Mike helped slow down the rapacious eviscerating of our city's character for a second, but there was not really a pre-Bloombergian New York one could automatically identify. Mayor's Giuliani and Koch, particularly, played their parts in "cleaning up" what we know here as Gotham. Going back to Lindsay you had miles of projects that helped inform crime zones that sent many thousands out of the city looking for suburban Valhallas - nice places to die. So let's not generalize.

What we have here is a national problem - even a global one - and far too much population for certain comforts to thrive. Profiteers will continue to profit even so. Perhaps we should find out just who is paying for the promised empty privilege behind the innappropriately-gathered quote wall. Who really wants this stuff?

Brian said...

Good to see. There was little chance she would have supported use of her name to promote the real estate company. I hope your blog post or call is what alerted her. Maybe you can contact Yoko about the misapprpriation of the Lennon quote for a commercial purpose without permission also.