Skip to main content

The Ratnerville Singout: targeting Bruce, sampling Stuckey, rhyming Markowitz

Among the many byproducts of the Atlantic Yards project has been a surge of creativity and satire. The Ratnerville Singout, held May 24 before some three dozen people at Freddy's Backroom, was a good example.

Slow and speedy, tuneful and at times spoken word-y, the show comprised an original song cycle devoted to Atlantic Yards and often Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner.

Perhaps the most subversive tactic was the sampling of one Jim Stuckey, president of the Atlantic Yards Development Group, whose utterances in radio interviews gained a whole new context.

"What do you think of Freddy's?" asked one member of the group Atomic Grind Show, which hosted the show and backed the individual performers. "This is a blighted area," came back Stuckey's sampled response. Also put to use was Stuckey's justification of the developer's right to pursue a profit: "It is, after all, America."

It should air on Brooklyn Versus Bush in a few weeks.

Mostly about Bruce

Chris Owens (political candidate and talented singer) sang a Mellencamp-esque "Do Not Go Gently," Scott Turner (of Fans for Fair Play) rockingly mourned "Brooklyn Is Dying." Atomic Grind Show played a ditty titled "Freddy's is an Escalator Now," a reference to manager Donald O'Finn's prediction of what would replace the bar should the arena be built.

But most of the songs managed to take off on the developer's name, which, of course, is no fault of his own.

The titles included:
"It's a Ratner Day"
"Mr. Ratner"
"Rat King"
"Doctor Bruce Comes to Town"
"Get the Rat Out."

Steve deSeve offered a deft capsule description of his song, "It's a Ratner Day" (sample lyric: "The sun is blocked/by all the buildings"). Citing the infamous "no towers" brochure the developer mailed to hundreds of thousands of Brooklynites, he observed, "If you play the brochure backwards, this is the song."

Some songs worked better than others--there's only so far you can get with a Mad Overkiller-esque lyric like "You bypass the community boards."

Three "Pin the Lawsuit on the Ratner" interludes featured a blow-up of the casual image (above) from the 6/26/05 New York Times magazine interview with Ratner (which lacked any Times-Ratner disclosure).

A single?

Guitarist John Pinamonti's a pro, and his haunting song "Burrow" (as in the magazine) was the most likely to break out into the mainstream.

"They say change is good/and the time is right/but they're the ones/creating urban blight," he sang, continuing, "They don't need no laws/don't need no permits/they just shake the hand/of Marty Markowitz."

The lyrics alone don't do the tune justice, so perhaps Pinamonti will put it up on his web site. Markowitz's opponents in his next political race might find it tempting.

Update June 12

Pinamonti has sent me the "definitive lyrics" (and title), which differ from my notes and, likely, what was performed:

The Burrow

I came up to have a look around
Heard about what they were tearing down
In the Burrow

Some of my friends had to move away
Just to give the Nets a place to play
In the Burrow

Now I don't mind a little basketball
But I do mind when they try to take out all
of the Burrow

Makes me sad, yea it's such a pity
They're trying to rename Brooklyn "Forest City"
No more Burrow

-----------------------------------------

Come on in and see
How it is - how it should be
Don't destroy when you don't know
What lies below, or how deep it goes
In the burrow

-----------------------------------------

They think they're smart, they try to ban our art
But they don't know that we're the heart
Of the Burrow

They say "change is good" and "the time is right"
But they're the ones creating urban blight
In the Burrow

No one seems to notice what they're doin'
Making all this money out of what they ruin
In the Burrow

They're doing more than what the law permits
While they're shaking hands with Marty Markowitz
In the Burrow

-----------------------------------------

Come on in and see
How it is - how it should be
Don't destroy when you don't know
What lies below, how deep it goes
We're the burrow

-----------------------------------------

The guy down the street says he's cashing in
He'd like to stay and fight but there's not way to win
In the Burrow

I said it's not about you and it's not about me
It's about what we do collectively
In the Burrow

-----------------------------------------

Come on in and see
How it is - how it should be
Don't destroy when you don't know
What lies below, how deep it goes
We're the burrow

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…

Is Barclays Center dumping the Islanders, or are they renegotiating? Evidence varies (bond doc, cash receipts); NHL attendance biggest variable

The Internet has been abuzz since Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick reported 1/30/17, using an overly conclusory headline, that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Is Dumping the Islanders.

That would end an unusual arrangement in which the arena agrees to pay the team a fixed sum (minus certain expenses), in exchange for keeping tickets, suite, and sponsorship revenue.

The arena would earn more without the hockey team, according to Bloomberg, which cited “a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season--a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said."

That "signal," however, is hardly definitive, as are the media leaks about a prospective new arena in Queens, as shown in the screenshot below from Newsday. Both sides are surely pushing for advantage, if not bluffing.

Consider: the arena and the Islanders can't even formally begin their opt-out talks until after this season. The disc…

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"

On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article: At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.Skanska jabs back
Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows th…

Not just logistics: bypassing Brooklyn for DNC 2016 also saved on optics (role of Russian oligarch, Shanghai government)

Surely the logistical challenges of holding a national presidential nominating convention in Brooklyn were the main (and stated) reasons for the Democratic National Committee's choice of Philadelphia.

And, as I wrote in NY Slant, the huge security cordon in Philadelphia would have been impossible in Brooklyn.

But consider also the optics. As I wrote in my 1/21/15 op-ed in the Times arguing that the choice of Brooklyn was a bad idea:
The arena also raises ethically sticky questions for the Democrats. While the Barclays Center is owned primarily by Forest City Ratner, 45 percent of it is owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov (who also owns 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets). Mr. Prokhorov has a necessarily cordial relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — though he has been critical of Mr. Putin in the past, last year, at the Russian president’s request, he tried to transfer ownership of the Nets to one of his Moscow-based companies. An oligarch-owned a…