18.6.08

"Anything Is A Venue" - The Market Hotel

"manifesto: to make your getting together with each other something different, someway more. not just music but all about the music; making you dance, making you stay out later. going for the magic of being right there in what's happening, with no hype, nothing elitist, everyone invited. plus giving back and being involved in making creativity happen."

- Todd Patrick at http://www.toddpnyc.com/ DIY enthusiast and booker of shows at The Market Hotel and elsewhere

The Market Hotel is marked by a white, metal door and the hipsters that walk through it, that is all. I made my first trip there last night. It is located at 1142 Myrtle Avenue, it is a few blocks past the limits of the Sumner Houses, in Bushwick. The music was solid. But the music is trivial in The Market Hotel's setting. The Market Hotel is the flag of an imperialist, hipster culture. A flag in the tradition of the many that long ago marked the take over of Williamsburg. Now the nation-building moves to Bushwick.

Eddie Izzard, in Dress To Kill, talked about the British Empire's world domination by way of the flag: "Just sail around the world and stick a flag in. 'I claim India for Britain!' And they're going, 'You can't claim us, we live here! There's five hundred million of us!' - 'Do you have a flag?' - 'We don't need a bloody flag, this is our country, you bastard!' - 'No flag, no country! You can't have one! That's the rules, that... I've just made up.'"
The same rules appear to be in play with the Brooklyn hipster music set, although, as befits them, they're not aware they're playing by them. The Market Hotel claims the space around it in the name of elitism, The Land of Hipsterdom. I could sense my proximity to The Market Hotel last night when, what turned out to be two blocks away from the venue, I saw the first white people I'd seen in 15 blocks after walking by the Sumner Houses. Standing in the main room with a friend who was equally startled by the self-assured crowd, I told her, "If someone runs up here right now from the neighborhood and beats the shit out of all of us, we will have deserved it."

The cops shut down The Market Hotel for selling alcohol illegally in February, but only briefly. They've been back up and running since. It's striking though, that they were allowed to reopen at all and that they seem to have reached an understanding with a police force that is well aware of the deal at 1142 Myrtle, as its goings-on are published all over the internet. Last night a few locals shouted at me and some kids as we walked into the venue. I didn't hear what they said, but it wasn't "enjoy the show."

Imagine a group of kids my age, 21 - 23 years old or so, from the Sumner Houses who decided to rent a place like The Market Hotel and put on shows there, sell liqour illegally. They would be shut down as soon as found out, arrested, evicted, and that venue would never play a show again. Why? Because the police perceive them as a potential threat; a hot space full of illicit booze and loud music and project kids; there's a chance something will go down at some point. But a bunch of hipsters? Yeah, they don't have a liquor license, but let it slide, they're chumps. No one's starting beef at a Harry And The Potters show.

So the wimpiness of the hipster works to his advantage. He's allowed to stake out his territory in a rough section of Bushwick because he is not rough. All well and good, go ahead and partake in the imperial tradition of your forefathers, claiming land that is not yours by way of the cunning use of flags. The cops even have your back, they'd rather see you and your friends in Bushwick than their usual fare of stand-offish kids in long white tees.

But all this makes Todd P sound like Don Rumsfeld - "they'll shower us with flowers in the streets of Baghdad!" - when he writes in his "manifesto" from the Todd P website: "...no hype, nothing elitist, everyone invited. plus giving back and being involved in making creativity happen."

Of course, the whole enterprise is driven by hype, hence the roll-call of links on Todd P's site of every single place that has written something about me since forever. A list which now includes the requisite "MTV did a thing" link. This can be forgiven, though. Hype, what is hype? Todd P has his own ideas. What is unforgivable is the astounding ignorance of saying, "nothing elitist, everyone invited. plus giving back..."

Elitist? You are the definition of elitist. Who else besides elitists can move to Bushwick, open the place, get the publicity, and get away with the illegality? And, I mean, maybe I didn't stay late enough, but I didn't see anyone from the Sumner Houses at The Market Hotel last night. I don't know that they would be turned away if they wanted to come, probably not, but then again who from Bushwick wants to listen to the So So Glos? You're not disinviting the locals, but you're sure giving them a lot of good reasons not to want to come.

I would be happy to see the day when a place like The Market Hotel could open in Bushwick and compliment the neighborhood instead of confronting it. But what exists there now is very confrontational and not at all complimentary. All the privileges that these hipsters have are the foundation of The Market Hotel. Those privileges are not afforded to the natives of that neighborhood. Hence there is a confrontation between the locals who feel slighted, invaded by a foreign force that is given special treatment they have never enjoyed. The hipster crowd might not be able to, or want to, acknowledge this tension, but it is there.

I don't know how to make a place like The Market Hotel that would satisfy the need for a venue that is syncopated with the neighborhood, so my solution would be to not make the venue at all; stay in Williamsburg. Yes, you need a cheap place, a good spot, someplace to get booked, but at what cost? And when you clearly haven't considered the ramifications of what you're doing? That is such an old, tired, rich, white aristocratic role to play. And to wear this egalitarian mask while it's played is shameful.

To Todd P and The Market Hotel: Shut down. Live in your apartment and see your shows on Bedford. You've taken over enough territory.

To the people of Bushwick: Police your neighborhood.

18 comments:

J Sin said...

you raise some interesting points.

one question you're not overtly asking: is it possible for a show in bushwick to appeal to the people who already live in the neighborhood AND to the hipsters who just moved in? because that would be really cool, bringing people who don't normally interact together through music seems like one of Todd P's goals. But due to circumstances beyond his control, there's not a whole lot overlap in today's fractured society as far as musical taste is concerned. plus, elitist musical taste is a trademark of the elite.

the idea of "everyone's invited" is that they are all-ages shows, and underage kids don't have anywhere else to go (besides the knitting factory). unfortunately, legit nyc-area venues have to be 21+ so that they can sell enough alcohol to survive (Ian MacKaye calls this the Indie Rock Medicine Show). so these types of "DIY" illegal spaces pop up everywhere. for better or for worse, the type of show-going atmosphere that appeals to underage punks and hipsters is alienating to people who live in bushwick, to people who are over 25, etc.

i dont think todd p is responsible for the market hotel. i think he has good values and means well, even if he highlights all the attention he's gotten. but he's "for real taking it easy" these days, and he has a colony of followers and wanna-be's, and some of them will "get it" but others will inevitably misinterpret and corrupt those ideals, and turn this whole brooklyn hipster "diy" thing into more of an elitist colonial "i'm entitled to do whatever the fuck i want wherever the fuck i want, and i dont care about the consequences for me, for you, or for anybody" scene than it already is. where do you draw the line between good punk and bad punk? when they're snobs.

Ol Mucky said...

Yeah good question. That is part of what I was talking about when I talked about a "complimentary" venue as opposed to confrontational, I suppose.

I don't know how much I buy the whole all ages thing. I mean, I dont know how many under 21's were at that show, but if you're gonna go to shows like that, wont you have a fake id already?

I don't have any problem with elitist music taste, just with claiming not to be amongst an elite, when you in fact are.

My issue with Todd P is in his statement to the NY Times, "Anything is a venue," and seeing that syncopate with the vibe of The Market Hotel. They are of the same school of thought. That statement just sounds so imperial. And I find it grotesquely manifested in The Market Hotel.

Anonymous said...

http://bushwickbk.com/archives/478

Jimmy Legs said...

"anything is a venue = imperialism"

explain how.

he's saying you don't need an expensive, established venue to have some people get together and play music. have you been to uncle paulies? there's an example of an impromptu music place, and impromptu diner, and sometimes, an impromptu strip club(!) your notion this implies eltism seems like projection.

if you're going to take issue with the DIY music scene, you have to stop assuming ToddP is responsible for everything. he has nothing to do with Market Hotel past booking some shows there. he doesn't even book much stuff at all these days; there are tons of people booking shows at a variety of nonstandard spaces.

The space that is currently the MH was empty, it was for rent, so a bunch of kids rented it and are using it as a venue. how is this confrontational to the neighborhood? you make it sound like they put up barbed wire around the sidewalk.

whatever point you might have about the clash of cultures between the diy music scene and the folks who grew up in bushwick is no more valid than your implication that the market hotel has no right to be there. who's rules are these?

Anonymous said...

Would you have written a similar manifesto 40 years ago as Bushwick started turning from White/German/etc. to Black & Hispanic? This is a rhetorical question.

You tell them to stay on Bedford - why not stay in the East Village?
Really you calling Market Hotel elitist in your little elitist rant is really too much. You just don't like them because they are you. Stop hating yourself.

Anonymous said...

yeah! wtf, man. it's allll right, cuz it's alllll white!

Anonymous said...

"If someone runs up here right now from the neighborhood and beats the shit out of all of us, we will have deserved it."

that is one of the most insidiously racist comments i have ever heard. get over your fear.

Anonymous said...

also, what the hell is elitist musical taste????

Anonymous said...

this blog is ridiculous. i don't even know where to start.

Peter H. said...

give me a break. this city is all about us living next to and atop of each other. to say that young middle class people can't live or be in Bushwick without being "oppressors" is both ignorant and patronizing to the people from the projects that you think you're fighting for.

Firstly, college & bohemian middle class kids have been living around the area where Market Hotel is for years now. the place isn't a real estate trend setter.

But so what if it was? The sorts of shows that are happening there simply wouldn't survive the economics of inner Wburg. You can;t find an affordable space that big where you can make that amount of noise closer in. Are the down-and-out economics of people who don't happen to live in projects and aren't necessarily from minority backgrounds just irrelevant to you? Or do you actually believe that middle American culture (ie grassroots rock bands, indie art, and so on) isn't important and shouldn't have a place to live? If they can't pay the rent without locating near the projects, should rock shows just not happen? should that rich independent grassroots culture just die for lack of a nurturing environment?

and your whole argument that less advantaged 'hood folks can't have their own spaces is bullshit. there are dozens of unlicensed or scantily-licensed social clubs and night clubs dotting the Bushwick / Bed Stuy landscape. The police know they're there and they let them continue to exist. If the places end up having unfortunate shit go down, ala fights, etc, they get shut down, but so would the illegal middle-class kids' spaces. the rowdy Dominican spot next door to the Silent Barn is a perfect example. It's a pretty obvious brothel and place to score coke, but it doesn't fuck with the neighborhood so the police largely let it be.

frankly, I don't think you know what you're talking about, and I know that if I lived in the Sumner Houses, I'd be pretty irritated that some privileged kid with a blog thinks he's got the neighborhood figured out, and thinks he knows what I do or don't have to go through from the police, and thinks he knows best and can point fingers to "protect" me and my community.

jesse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jesse said...

Plain and simple, this is a a cheap place to be loud. Just like rapidly inflating rents push the hip and poor farther out into Brooklyn and Queens, etc. etc. It's not about thumbing a nose at the locals or making a huge stand of any sort- it's kinda just about rocking out.

This was a great thought-provoking blog post, don't get me wrong. But at the end of the day, why should they shut down? I see a lot of happy people at the Market Hotel, that can't be a problem.

It would be good to do some double-billings though, with acts that vary in their appeal. If the owners and promoters truly cherish the community, they'll do that.

ENIVEL said...

to the skillman…

listen up, you’re not a muckraker.. This isn’t a groundbreaking new realization you’ve come to.. Your insanely idiotic rant connecting the kids of the market hotel and imperialists is as racist as it is trivial. It’s you who is the outsider , it’s you who is unwelcome at the market hotel, cynical, bitter bloggertypes full of hate,with an us/them mentality, not those of the neighborhood surrounding the market hotel. You’re the elitist, throwing up labels, and glorifying poverty and putting down a spot that only exists for everyone. I’m sorry if your feeling guilty for being white, for the crimes against humanity that your ancestors selfishly committed, but this is Brooklyn, and from reading your blog, it’s obvious that your not from here. This is the place where whites, blacks German, Irish, Italians, Latinos, Jews, and all cultures have lived side-by-side forever. This neighborhood was originally inhabited by German Irish and Jewish immigrants. Would you prefer if all the white people stayed in one safe neighborhood, and all the black people stayed in a “rough” one? Is that what you’re getting at? It is you who puts up labels and causes tension, it’s you who brings hate, the only thing the kids of the market hotel have done is create a welcoming environment where anyone who wants to can walk through the doors; anyone but you. It’s nice that you’ve paid attention to your liberal professors who philosophize about gentrification; its good to see that you took a lot of notes, but you should spend a bit more time away from your college textbooks, more submerged in the real world, where people relate to each other, off the internet. I’ve wasted enough of my time responding to this bullshit.

Anonymous said...

A lot of the above responses were great and touched on many of the reasons why your argument is bullshit. The only thing I can add is that you should go fuck yourself you elitist douchbag know-it-all prick.

muffine said...

Tony Wilson: The smaller the attendance the bigger the history. There were 12 people at the last supper. Half a dozen at Kitty Hawk. Archimedes was on his own in the bath.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't you write this post about similar venues in the Williamsburg of 20 years ago?

Oh right.

Cuz there were no blogs then. Carry on.

Fyi...I DO like your writing, just not your conclusions.

dbow said...

I think everyone's reacting to the inflammatory nature of the writing, rather than the actual points. Or they're trying to undermine the post by pointing out minor flaws (e.g. toddp didn't book that show!).

But I think there's an important point that nobody's really noticing - and that point is that, when it comes to taking advantage of cheap rents in poorer neighborhoods, every action has consequences for people in that neighborhood. The fact is, places like the market hotel have historically been among the first signs of this force that ultimately prices certain folks out of their neighborhood. And while I don't necessarily blame the people associated with the market hotel for following the economics and finding a place that fits their budget constraints and noise constraints, I think they should have to consider the implications of that. The main point of this post was that the writer didn't think the folks at the market hotel (and those of us in attendance at the show), were really thinking about these issues.

Instead of sparking a whole bunch of acid retaliation, I think the more interesting response would be to start a dialogue - how could places like the market hotel be more complimentary to the neighborhoods they exist in?

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, this post really wants to "spark a dialog" - hell no, this guy is pointing his sophomoric little punk politics fingers and he comes pretty close to actually advocating violence. And for what? Because some kids are throwing underground rock shows? What horseshit. Doesn't sound too thoughtful or discussion provoking to me.

This guy says that the Market Hotel should be "shut down" and that the locals should "police their neighborhood" to make this happen. What would that look, like exactly? The neighbors should come at the Market Hotel with torches in the night? Should they start mugging every middle-class person they see? Should the residents and organisers of the Market Hotel be carried off in chains by the police? What course of action are you endorsing here?

Whatever it is you think you want to see happen here, it sure isn't just friendly talk you're endorsing. You're recommending some kind of retaliation as part of your silly crusade.

In typical punk finger-pointer fashion, this guy likes to judge before he's got any of his facts straight. There are so many details he gets wrong, firstly he overlooks that kids have been in the area for years. Does he want Goodbye Blue Monday stoned to death as well? Should the Opera House lofts and the Schoolhouse be burned to ground and their residents chased out with pitchforks? Should Mr Kiwi's face hate crime prosecution for selling soy milk and gourmet vegetables?

And this guy also gets oodles of little shit wrong. He repeatedly refers to the Sumner Houses as "Sumner House". He demonstrates no grasp of how Market Hotel is managed or who's in charge. He doesn't know which neighborhood the show space or the projects he so reveres are located in (it's Bushwick and Bed-Stuy, respectively).

He also accuses Todd P of being some kind of amoral PT Barnum type, manipulating an uber-evil hype machine. This is bullshit, the man is a promoter, you are going to fault him for promoting?

The post is just laughably misinformed and ignorant.

Enjoy your little youthful moment of anarchist rhetoric, kid, but I hope you soon outgrow this kind of idealism that doesn't rely on facts or the plausibility of it's conclusions.

The rest of us have to live in a world where the realities of the real world actually color our worldviews.