Saturday, June 02, 2007

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

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