Thursday, August 11, 2016

Muste Gets Cruzed

The A.J. Muste building, at 339 Lafayette at Bleecker Street, has been completely covered from head to foot in green plywood. This weekend, the plywood was plastered with the apparently anti-Trump slogan Ted Cruz uttered at the Republican National Convention: "Vote Your Conscience!"

This is courtesy of luxury real-estate developer RFR.

Until recently, this building was known as "The Peace Pentagon." It was home to several activist and social justice groups, including The War Resisters League, Granny Peace Brigade, Global Revolution, Paper Tiger TV, and The Socialist Party.

The Muste Institute originally bought the building in 1978, providing affordable space for these and many other groups. Unable to afford expensive repairs, they sold it in 2015 for over $20 million, and moved to Canal Street, bringing their tenants with them. A documentary is in the works about the move.

August 2015

I always liked this low brick building, seeing its windows full of social justice slogans, especially as the neighborhoods around it changed so radically. It was a holdout, and we need holdouts. And we need holdouts that makes themselves--and their resistance--visible.

This is not quite the same thing.

Anyway, soon it will be demolished and replaced with (most likely) another luxury condo box with luxury chain stores on the bottom.


Tal Hartsfeld said...

Modern-day architects and social engineers aren't much on "voting their conscience" are they?
(Of course one has to HAVE a conscience to begin with in order to vote with it.)

Unknown said...

I remember visiting the War Resisters League in the early 1980's for some literature and to make a donation.

BethesdaDog said...

Time to give it up...socialism has failed in America.

John K said...

Just what New York City needs, another soulless luxury glass-and-steel tower with chain stores or high-end boutiques at its base! Onward, oligopolis!

Unknown said...

Great interview. But I have to agree with the commenter who said Zombie Urbanization sounds too cool. Let's call it what it is: Shopping Mallification. These shiny new public spaces feel like suburban shopping malls: clean, orderly, and well-maintained. They haven't grown organically over time, and they probably won't develop much character with age like the city's older parks. To be fair, it's hard to create instant "character" on a giant concrete slab and, even if they try, the newness of it will make it feel like a Disney theme park. Maybe, eventually, they'll mutate into something interesting. I kind of doubt it. But only time will tell.