Sunday, November 17, 2013

Library Closures, Book Blocks and Birthdays


Last Wednesday night, Caroline I went to go see Frances Fox Piven speak about precarious labor at the Brecht Forum.  She described the ways accumulation by elites fuels social and economic inequality, noting that the 1% not only account for larger and larger sums of current earnings, but  earnings across space and time.  

Listening to her talk, I was thinking about the book block plans we’ve been engaged in over the last few weeks, against the closures of libraries here in New York (in addition to hospitals and other aspects of the increasingly privatized public commons).

While the 1% feast on people’s past profits (foreclosures), future gains (loans), it is worth preventing them from robbing us of our history and culture found in the stacks in our central libraries.  Billionaires have been tough on books lately (recall the books trashed at the Occupy Library).  For generations, regular people have enjoyed the freedom found in the public commons of New York’s libraries. 

Public libraries turned into condos, billionaires privatizing our commons- there’s been enough privatizing profits and socializing losses. When is enough enough?

So the book block asks the city not to foreclose on knowledge. Don’t displace the books like the trash.  Friday, a group of us, including my old buddy Leslie, dropped by the Interface Archive for a prop making party.

Book Block vs Billionaires: Prop Making Party This Friday, Noon to Five
Action Monday December 9th at High Noon. 

Have you heard the Bloombergs and other Billionaires are closing the libraries, displacing books, and worse yet, sending them to spend eternity in New Jersey. 

So, we agreed to organize a street theater flash mob on the steps of the main 42nd Street Library at noon on Monday, December 9. We will dramatize the planned eviction of books from the library by having participants costumed as books herded away from the library by costumed billionaires.  

Come help prevent the book block from being displaced to New Jersey. 

Think book block vs billionaires over the neoliberal frenzy transforming our city.
Is New York a city or ideas, books, and culture or a place where real estate commodify space for the inch?

We have a prop and costume making party scheduled for Saturday afternoon, November 15, at interface archive. 

Book block prop making 
Nov. 15 2013
12- 5 PM

131 8th Street — #4
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(2 blocks from F/G/R trains at 4th ave./9th street)

See you on December 9th for our upcoming book blocks vs billionaires action.  

Books Not Billionaires Flash Mob to Save NYPL
Monday, December 9 at 12:00 noon sharp
Steps of the 42nd Street Library

The New York Public Library is in peril. Plans are afoot to exile its
legendary research holdings to storage in New Jersey. Why? So the
nearby Mid-Manhattan Branch, one of the country’s busiest libraries,
can be sold to billionaire real-estate developers and replaced with a
luxury tower. A much smaller Mid-Manhattan library would then be
crammed into the space made available by evicting the research

Help stop this crazy “renovation" by joining in a street theater flash
mob at noon sharp on Monday, December 9 on the steps of the 42nd
Street Research Library. Dress as a favorite book or as one of the
real-estate billionaires who see the books as an obstacle to profits.
Be ready to take part in theatrical improvisation as the plutocrats
try to displace the books, and the books alternately lament their fate
and seek to stand their ground.

It’s easy to make a giant book costume out of cardboard or foam core.
Here’s one model:

Background on the NYPL’s awful renovation plan:

To learn more about the fight to save libraries in NYC, visit and

Sponsored by the Library Lovers League

And remember to hold our elected officials accountable for their past support for public libraries. 

Top of Form

“I am calling on the City to halt the New York Public Library’s plans at the Central Library, and for a thorough, independent cost audit and review of the proposed project…This review should evaluate the complete financial risks associated with the current plan, and seriously consider alternative ways to use City funds to ensure the preservation of the NYPL’s valuable collection stored at the Central Library and preserve the Mid-Manhattan branch as a functioning library.”

- NYC Mayor-elect Bill DeBlasio


The folks at interface were amazing, sharing their space where the theory and practice of activism, takes countless forms, from reflection on past practices to new models of engagement such as this. Leslie brought some old placards from the anti war movement of a decade ago, to be reused as we built signs, and books among memorabilia of activist social and cultural history. 

Throughout the weekend, we rode bikes with the cargo collective, dined, hiked and enjoyed being alive.  It was my birthday, but we did what we do most every day.  Holidays are over rated.  It’s the in between days of conversations and explorations, as old ways fade into the past opening doors which make life so special.  Walking through the Bronx Botanical garden, we look at what we can learn from the biodiversity of a garden eco system.  I see there is more  we can benefit from from each edge community shaping and impacting our ways of seeing and being, creating and regenerating. Each days and week as the new overlaps with ways of making sense of where we’ve been.  

Join us this Thursday for another such conversation. 

Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space 155 Ave C New York, NY 10009
Thursday, November 21, 2013, 7:35pm - 9:00pm

Please join us for an evening with East Village artists Jack Waters and Peter Cramer. In 1996 they started Le Petit Versailles, a New York City LGBTQ community garden located at 346 East Houston St. Petit Versailles is internationally known as an art space of cultural significance that presents year round public events including exhibitions, music, film/video, performance, theater, workshops and community projects.

Cramer and Waters will talk about their lives and history as green gardeners, AIDS/ queer activists, and artists. In addition to a slideshow on queer downtown, they will show clips from LPVTV, a 13 part Manhattan Neighborhood Network public access cable series documenting Le Petit Versailles events and history.

Throughout the years, Petit Versailles has collaborated with LES Harm Reduction Center,Visual AIDS, MIX NYC, FRISE (Hamburg), the Daffodil Project sponsored by New Yorkers for Parks and thousands of artists and audiences. The space is also featured in the books On Guerilla Gardening, Temporary Urban Spaces and most recently The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination by East Village writer Sarah Schulman and Queer Political Performance and Protest by Benjamin Heim Shepard. 

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