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Billy Leroy on the Festival of Ideas; “It’s Not Cool to Gentrify the Bowery”

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Not everyone is excited about the Festival of Ideas. Curbed reports:

Billy Leroy, proprietor of Billy’s Antiques and mayor of the Bowery, is not into this whole Festival of Ideas thing being put on by the New Museum. He writes: “I just read about this Street Art Street Fair on Bowery …I’ve prepared my sign..These yuppies from the New Museum don’t get it. NYC does not need another street fair. It’s not cool to try and gentrify the Bowery. I’m sending all the bums I know down there to give them a dose of the real NYC! but since they are Sheeple and can’t face reality they will have security I’m sure.” May 7 just got more interesting!

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5 COMMENTS

  1. How can you be against a festival promoting alternative energy and arts education!? It’s anti-human.

    I doubt Bill even understands that half of the groups he is insulting as part of the festival are ones that he probably would hold up as wonderful local institutions, maybe even higher percentage. Probably even some of his friends are involved.

    This is why art and cultural progress is stunted and deformed, not because some wealthy white people are involved. That is a good thing in this case! What a great thing for them to support!

    It’s this kind of negative attitude that flies in the face of progress in any community and creates animosity and disunity, ultimately assuring the kind of imbalance Bill is afraid of.

    It’s the defeated radicals and outdated/embittered locals that feel you can only be hip if you are on the losing side. What a negative aspect to The Lower East Side. I’d much rather that attitude go away than the investment in New Ideas.

    Brad Burgess,
    The Living Theatre

  2. @Brad, Don’t you see you are buying into the Corporation “the man” I grew up on the Upper Eastside went to Prep Schools in Conn. and Switzerland..I left that world 20+ years ago to be with people/Atrists/Outlaws that could be who they wanted to be with cheap rent…now that is all gone..just Sheeple wearing American Apparel and Latte’s permanently attached to there meathooks.I am on the Street everyday watching the herds go by.
    I love the Artist’s god bless them take advantage of getting some exposer but let’s be real the New Museum is a farce it’s not for the Artists it’s for RICH..In 5 years the LES and Bowery will look like the Upper Eastside..Herds of stressed out rich people with to much cosmetic surgery instead of Bums and Junkies.

  3. You go Billy !.. but you forgot to mention the GIANT TRAFFIC JAM that will occur when they close down Bowery. It’s easy for that Hippie from The Living Theater to criticize you there 5 away from The Bowery .

  4. brought to us by Goldman Sachs. Remember them? They melted down the economy for everyone else and got richer doing it.

    If you front with words like “alternative energy” and “arts education” does that mean you get to leave your critical mind at the door?

    There are some good organizations involved in this (like the ones doing tours of the affects of gentrification for instance), but you can at least call it what it is…and you can’t pretend that this hedge-fund board museum hasn’t hurried the removal of many from our community – poor and working class people. Not my idea of a “new city”.

    The NYTimes comment about the rolldown gate “murals” says it all, ““It removes itself from the practice of real graffiti…”

    Losing side? Depends on your definition of winning my friend.

  5. Brad is a nice guy with the best intentions, but unfortunately his maturity has not yet matched is need to speak out before listening. As an artist who has lived on the bowery for over a decade, I have enjoyed both its good and bad. But last year was the first time I’d ever had the owners of my building try to force me out. Now, I’ve been in eviction proceedings for a year (without heat or hot water), and there’s not question that it’s the New Museum and events like this that have encouraged my landlord to take such actions against me. These big new develops like the museum inspire greed in others, and ultimately, make life harder for the very artists that they think they are helping. Drawing attention to the neighborhood with festivals and street fairs are the beginning of the end of my life and art in this neighborhood… and right now, I can’t afford much else.

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