What do these remind you of? asked Mark Crispin Miller, NYU professor of media studies, holding up a story from the New York Times entitled "Back In Business": A familiar gesture, the middle finger, the 1%, he said of the photographs of tall condo towers sticking up high above their city neighborhoods.
The rapacious real estate interests which run rampant throughout the city are now threatening to destroy the beloved character of Greenwich Village.
photo credit: McNally Jackson
Miller's remarks were made to more than 80 people packed into Little Italy bookstore McNally Jackson [http://mcnallyjackson.com/] yesterday evening to hear readings from While We Were Sleeping. A compilation of essays by long-time denizens of Greenwich Village, proceeds from its sale will support opposition to "the Sexton Plan", as Mark Crispin Miller calls NYU president John Sexton's "2031 Plan". It's not an NYU plan, Miller said, pointing out that a majority of NYU faculty, departments, and divisions is against it. While NYU recruiters are still using the gardens and parks of Greenwich Village to rope in new students, the "2031 plan" would destroy those and the very charm of Greenwich Village that attracts students there in the first place.
The 2.2 million square feet planned by Sexton for 2 blocks in Greenwich Village (millions of square feet more is planned for elsewhere in the city) is irrational and gratuitous, said Miller, as it is not needed. He warned against a predicted "compromise plan" which would be still be extremely destructive.
Reading from his essay, Peter Carey, NYU creative writing teacher, said it doesn't make one a Luddite to recognize that unnecessary growth is killing the planet and the very thing that one is caring for. Kevin Baker, writer, asked Why must we apologize for the beauty we cherish before the powerful and the greedy, who look only to build bigger and taller meaningless buildings. Poet Eileen Myles, in an essay read by actor Jefferson May, decried NYU's belief that the NYC neighborhood is their campus. Fran Lebowitz, social-political critic and biting humorist, spoke off the cuff in a wide-ranging diatribe that brought thundering applause and whoops of appreciation. With billionaire Mayor Bloomberg, she said, words have disappeared from our language: no-one speaks anymore of "money-grubbing" and "dirty money". But there is no "clean money", she said. People don't "earn" a billion dollars, they steal it. She criticized Bloomberg for his intention of lowering the mandated minimum square footage for city apartments in order to force people to live in shoeboxes. Laws show the values of the country, she remarked.
The book, While We Were Sleeping, is available at McNally Jackson, 52 Prince Street, where proprietor Sarah McNally is producing it. Priced at $10, purchasers are encouraged to contribute more to support the cause against NYU's Sexton Plan. Contributions to NYU FACULTY SAY NO TO THE DESTRUCTION OF THE VILLAGE can be made at http://nyufasp.com/