Bed-Stuy’s Volunteer Ambulance Service
Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood is well past the notoriety it had in the 1980s and 1990s, when the area was neglected and crack dealers violently ruled the streets. Back then, two men began providing much needed help to their underserved community. The Bed-Stuy Volunteer Ambulance Corp was founded in 1988 by Captain James “Rocky” Robinson, an EMS tech, and Specialist Joe Perez. Rocky is still at the helm today, 26 years later, training a new generation to follow in his footsteps. With the community now much safer and better served, he has changed the BSVAC’s original mission of saving lives to changing lives — helping young men and women who may not have any other options receive free training and eventually find jobs in the medical field.
Fresh Off the Boat – NYC
In Part 1 of Fresh Off the Boat - NYC, Eddie travels north to the Bronx, where he and WorldStarHipHop star Loopy hit up local bodegas, chow down on a Japanese-Dominican platano mashup disaster, and talk about holdin’ down the hood over mani-pedis.
Super Bowl Boulevard Is a Corporate Wonderland
Sometimes, we need to be reminded that the world is a fundamentally absurd and silly place; that while there are people out there who command a lot of power and money, those people aren’t generally smarter or less goofy than you or me. For instance, there must have been a moment when there was a presentation, probably in some sleek conference room, about what events should be thrown in honor of the Super Bowl coming to New York City. One of the slides that appeared on the hi-def flatscreen read something like:
THROW A BIG STREET FAIR IN TIMES SQUARE IN LATE JANUARY? INVITE ALL THE BRANDS! (SUSAN PLEASE REWRITE TO MAKE IT SOUND BETTER THX)
And with that, or something like it, the Super Bowl Boulevard Engineered by GMC came into being.
A press release has described the Super Bowl Boulevard as “a series of football-themed experiences that will take over Times Square the week before the big game. Stop by a live concert, snap a photo with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, or race down a specially made toboggan. [sic]” Another way to think of it, via Business Insider, is as a “garish branded hellscape… placed on top of the preexisting garish branded hellscape that is Times Square.” Having wandered around the Boulevard for a couple of hours in the freezing cold on Wednesday night, I can confirm that it is indeed both “football-themed” and “garish.” But calling it a “hellscape” is maybe being a bit unfriendly to the giant, multinational corporations responsible for it. They just want you to have a good time! Look, they brought the Rockettes in to do this:
They also built these giant Roman numerals, which rose from the ground like a heathen idol after an elaborate ceremony that involved not only the Rockettes, but also the Boys Choir of Harlem, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, NFL Commissioner Roger Gooddell, and the cast of the musical Jersey Boys:
Oh, did I mention Kevin Bacon’s band, the Bacon Brothers (best known for their hit “Wait, Kevin Bacon Is in a Band? Huh. OK, Good for Him I Guess”) played on Wednesday night? Kevin started off on the bongos:
Los Angeles Is Miserable: An Introduction
The second decade of the 21st century might be remembered as a golden age for the city of Los Angeles. In the past five years, America’s second largest metropolis has seenrecord-low crime rates, a slow-and-steady expansion of mass transit options, a rapidly gentrifying urban center that some are calling the “next great American city,” and two NBA championships for our beloved Lakers. Yet a large portion of the city is still totally depressed like it’s 1992 all over again. All those pretty winter landscapes you see on Instagram are actually a sign that 2013 was California’s driest year in recorded history, and that we’ll all be brushing our teeth with toilet water if it doesn’t rain soon. Sure, crime is down and downtown has a bunch of fancy new hotels, but a few blocks from those hotels is the biggest homeless encampment in the nation—Skid Row.
A private, independent commission endorsed by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa calledLA2020 recently released a controversial report claiming that almost 40 percent of citizens in Los Angeles currently live in “misery.” What qualifies as misery? The report says that poverty and lack of access to necessary services does the trick. It takes only a cursory glance around in any direction, on any street in this city to see the truth of that statistic. Forty percent is a major chunk of a city that boasts a population of over 4 million people—plus neverending suburban sprawl—but the number of people who live in misery in LA is probably even greater than that.
Above: Chuck Close (1988), by Neil Winokur
Neil Winokur is a very important photographer. His images of East Village artists, dogs, and pop still lifes have been widely collected by museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the George Eastman House, and the Museum of Modern Art (where his wife Anne Umland, works as a curator in the painting and sculpture departments). He shows at Janet Borden Gallery, one of the oldest galleries for contemporary photography in New York. But I’d never heard of him until one fateful day when Vince Aletti mentioned him to me (he’d profiled Winokur early in his career for the Village Voice). With such a compelling laundry list of attributes, I wondered: Why had I never heard of him before?
VICE’s Photo Editor Matthew Leifheit interviewed the photographer Neil Winokur about his storied career over at Art F City. Check it out
A True Rip-Off Artist
In 2009, I moved from St. Louis, Missouri, to New York City to “make it” as a photographer, a process that involved living in an apartment the size of a hallway with a view of a brick wall. I was broke, lonely, and desperate for work, when out of the blue I was contacted on Twitter by someone who went by the name C. S. Leigh.
Through the omniscient and infallible knowledge database that is Google, I learned that C. S. Leigh was a film director and a curator. An image search revealed photos of a balding, almost spherical man with black-rimmed glasses and a double chin. He told me he liked my stuff, and before long, I had agreed to take some photos for an art magazine he was putting out.
It seemed like the best thing that had ever happened to me. I did a fashion shoot featuring models in clothes from threeASFOUR and Chado Ralph Rucci and portraits of world-renowned perfumer Frédéric Malle and artist Meredyth Sparks. There was talk of my going to Paris and London for the Frieze Art Fair and Fashion Week, or perhaps attending Coachella to photograph bands for his magazine. It was as if C. S. had opened a door to the exclusive world of art and fashion and quietly slipped me into the front seat.
VICE: You grew up in New York. What do you think of how the city has changed?
Art Spiegelman: Don’t get me started. If there was another New York, I’d move to it.
Is New York still a place where a young artist can get started?
You can’t. Go to Germany kids. Maybe Budapest if you’re not Jewish. But this is something that I’m remembering from interviewing Al Hirschfeld. He had lived in Paris for a number of years when he was just out of college.
I asked “Did you know Picasso?” And he says, “Yeah. I’d see him at Gertrude’s House.”
So we were off and running and I said, “What was it in Paris? The graphic design was good, the painting was good, the writing was good, the architecture was good. Was there something in the water?” He goes, “Nah. Cheap real estate. I got that place I was living in for the equivalent of $300 a year.” At those rates, you can find out if you’re an artist or not.
That’s what’s gone from New York and that’s an irreconcilable loss. Though in New York one should always be grateful for the rapid degree of change. Maybe SoHo will become a slum. It’s possible.
Go See The Night of the Hunter Next Tues. in Williamsburg
For the eighth feature in our screening series with Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation at Nitehawk Cinema, we present The Night of the Hunter, actor Charles Laughton’s sole directorial effort. Considered a commercial and critical flop upon initial release, it has since risen from cult staple to full-blown classic. And rightfully so: its intriguing mixture of Southern Gothic dread mixed with bold German Expressionism makes it a near anomaly of the era, so it makes sense that it took everyone a few decades to catch up to its brilliance. Beyond the sheer technical and storytelling perfection, there’s a bravura, career-defining performance from Robert Mitchum as the ghoulish villain pulsating at the center (there’s a reason why his infamous knuckle tattoos been referenced by everyone from Spike Lee to The Simpsons.)