It's an easy conceit, playing off Chris Smith's August 2006 New York Magazine cover story describing the "battle for the soul of Brooklyn."
Plenty of soul?
The proprietress of the New York Times's blog The Local ventured, “As journalists, we’re neutral on the Atlantic Yards development issue, but we’ll admit to some pro-Brooklyn bias and observe that this borough has plenty of soul to go around.”
OK, so maybe burying the soul of Brooklyn is an overstatement. It's a big borough.
But remember--as "neutral" journalists so often forget--once Forest City Ratner promised an arena with a green roof. Now they show renderings of the arena with a big Barclays logo.
At the groundbreaking ceremony inside the big white tent, the names of arena sponsors hung in banners from the ceiling.
As much as organizers of the groundbreaking event found ways to invoke Brooklyn cred (Junior's cheesecake, etc.), Atlantic Yards is, above all, about more and more corporate logos.
If that doesn't bury the soul of Brooklyn, it surely adds more soullessness.
Also, as indicated by the faux-Markowitz's verbal slips, calling Bruce Ratner "mayor" and "governor," the legacy of Atlantic Yards is a diminishment of local democracy, surely a component of our soul.
The faux-Markowitz and his cohorts, including Gov. David Paterson, described as "former eminent domain opponent turned out-to-lunch eminent domain cheerleader," appeared at the ceremony. Excerpts from the remarks below.
From the remarks
I could never have imagined that, according to the myth, after hounding my buddy Bruce Ratner to buy the Nets seven years ago this day would come where we’d be getting a money losing billion dollar arena, and no housing IN THE MIDDLE of a housing crisis.
I never thought I would be presiding over the greatest urban blunder since, since…Cleveland —Just kidding Bruce. Who ever thought that my Brooklyn boyhood dreams could be fulfilled by Russia’s Richest man, Cleveland’s Forest City Enterprises and Britain’s Megabank.
Whoever thought that a former tenant’s activist, ME, could preside over eminent domain to kick tenants out of their homes to build a money losing arena!
Anyway, Fugheddaboudit, I’m here to read this Proclamation before we Bury the Soul of Brooklyn
Whereas, Brooklyn’s cherished traditions of fairness and respect for all are deemed moot and quaint, and are at odds with the contemporary and fashionable notions of wealth, arrogance, unethicality and exploitation, it is most fitting that we join in the celebration of an undertaking that both increases the wealth and power of those from other boroughs, cities and nations, AND disempower Brooklynites more than ever before; and
Whereas, Bruce Ratner, Forest City Ratner Companies, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governors Pataki, Spitzer and Paterson, Senator Charles Schumer, Bertha Lewis, the Reverend Herbert Daughtry, Barclays Bank, Michael Ratner, Esq., the Empire State Development Corporation under the stewardship of too many to mention, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, Brooklyn Brewery, Shawn Carter a.k.a. Jay-Z a.k.a. Hova a.k.a. “99 Problems and a bitch ain’t one of them,” Frank Gehry, Ellerbe Becket, sHop, Mikhail Prokhorov and the Borough President of the Great City of Brooklyn, the last without whom none of this would have been possible, have come together to exploit peoples’ fears regarding employment and housing, ignite racial tinder, lie, prevaricate, obfuscate, and destroy the cornerstones of democracy, community and dignity; and
Whereas, on behalf of all Brooklynites, I salute and commend first and foremost myself, and all the others who have created the Atlantic Yards/Barclays Center Luxury CondominiumTowers and Arena and its myriad Brigadoonian falacies of jobs, affordable housing and self-aggrandizing greatness and the very real conditions of eminent-domain abuse, environmental destruction, the gutting of urban utopia and the loss of life, heart and soul;
Now, therefore, I, Marty Markowitz, President of the Borough of Brooklyn, do hereby proclaim Thursday, March 11, 2010
The Destruction of Brooklyn’s Soul Day in Brooklyn, USA
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the Borough of Brooklyn to be affixed under the auspices of Forest City Ratner Companies, Bruce Ratner, Chairman and CEO, this 11th day of March, 2010
Thank you all for falling in line for me over and over again over the past 7 years to get my land grab done. My largesse pays off in multiples.