|Left, Claudia Pearson illustrations featured in Brooklyn Museum gift shop. Right, townhouses and Freddy's Bar torn down for Atlantic Yards- Click on any image to enlarge|
The fun thing about the monsters was that each came packaged with some hokum mythology not necessarily genuinely derived from classic source material. It was useful if the framework of the mythology was also serviceable for setting up damsel-in-distress scenarios. One such myth that served very well in this regard was the curse afflicting the cinema werewolves: That when they transformed they were compelled to try to kill the things they loved most.
Why was I thinking about this old horror film trope about werewolves? Because, reading New York Magazine’s “Best Bets” column I discovered that the Brooklyn Museum is selling in its gift shop tea towels celebrating the charm of brownstone Brooklyn designed by illustrator Claudia Pearson. According to New York Magazine, Ms. Pearson is “Clinton Hill–based” and “drew inspiration from her surroundings” when she designed these towels. Presumably they are sold in the Brooklyn Museum in partial acknowledgment of the museum’s own “Prospect Heights” address and by way of making a statement of its oneness with a community comprised of and valuing what is being depicted.
|New York Magazine's "Best Bets" feature|
|Claudia Pearson tea towels from New York Magazine website|
|Claudia Pearson's Brooklyn Brownstone Mug|
|Going to the Brooklyn Museum's gift shop online we see how prominently Ms. Pearson's brownstone Brooklyn work is being featured|
If the museum’s award honoring Ratner didn’t itself tip the balance toward Ratner’s obtaining the approvals needed, it certainly combined to exert influence with the things that did. The museum’s award to Ratner was publicly protested (with Ratner being characterized as a “vampire” among other things) but the museum has never apologized to the communities of Brooklyn for what it did. While the error of making the award should have been obvious at the time, that was before the mega-project significantly degenerated, and more and more underlying negative facts about it got publicly disclosed. (Abbreviating the list: The mega-project is now receiving much more subsidy than before, its design has been cheapened, unions have been double-crossed, the passage of time steadily exposes the sham and folly of the community benefit agreement signing and endorsements, the time frame for its build-out will be decades- perhaps forty years- not the ten years first advertised. And then there was the way that rightfully or wrongly Ratner skirted indictments when implicated in investigations.) . . .
. . . Notwithstanding that the negatives of the situation have become much more conspicuously abject, the Brooklyn Museum still has not issued an apology to the community or sought to reverse the travesty of its award to Ratner by reclaiming or renouncing it.
Is there a way that the effect of the museum now honoring brownstone Brooklyn could be more starkly startling?. . . . Ms. Pearson could design and the museum could sell in its gift shop, products (see below), tea towels and coffee mugs that depict Freddy’s Bar and Grill and the little nearby townhouses torn down to create the so-called “Barclays” arena and the now empty acres and parking lots Ratner owns around it. Maybe that would also be more appropriate in that the museum, as with its dusty old linen-wrapped mummies, often focuses on educating the public about what was and is now no more.
|Should the Brooklyn Brownstone mugs in the museum shop show townhouses in the process of demolition like the ones below?|
|The Tracy Collins photos above that appeared in Atlantic Yards Report show the demolition of Dean Street townhouses before it was clear the land would ever be used for the Ratner project. Land on which they were sited is still vacant.|
|With an image of the now demolished 489 Dean Street derived from a Tracy Collins photograph, the kind of "Brownstone Brooklyn" coffee mugs the Brooklyn Museum could be selling|
|A Freddy's Bar Mug?|
|Tea towels that feature the buildings next to Freddy's that were torn down (from a Tracy Collins photograph)|
Sometimes the idea that one kills the thing one loves is explored as a concept with serious real ramifications that are to be studied. Jane Jacobs, the great urbanist observer and thinker who wrote “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” explored in that book a sort of `killing the goose that laid the golden egg’ concern in an urban planning context: She wrote (p. 246*) that the benefits of a diverse economy can be killed off by a rush of businesses coming in to take advantage of an “enviable location” so that the “enviable location” thereby ceases to exist. Or, alternatively, in another context, you can find theories that “killing the thing you love” is a beastly symptom of the alpha male urge to dominate at all costs.
(* “. . . .making the same mistakes as a family I know who bought an acre in the country on which to build a house. For many years, while they lacked the money to build, they visited the site regularly and picnicked on a knoll, the site’s most attractive feature. They liked so much to visualize themselves as always there, that when they finally built they put the house on the knoll. But then the knoll was gone. Somehow they had not realized they would destroy it and lose it by supplanting it with themselves.”)The situation with the still unapologetic Brooklyn Museum is neither of these. Although it’s a damsel-in-distress scenario with the public and Brooklyn’s brownstone neighborhoods in jeopardy and although the treacherous peril of this world becomes all the more frighteningly dangerous when that damsel’s self-proclaimed lover suddenly reveals a sinister face that is opposite to that mild and friendly one that has been shown before, the elixir that provokes that Jekyll and Hyde transformation here is simply money and there is no real magic or mystery to the transformation. It is simply the hypocrisy that money can so readily buy.