Skip to main content

Blogfest meets Shillfest, as Spike Lee declares "This is to celebrate Absolut, so we're not going to get into gentrification"

Update June 13: Here's my analysis (Absolut and authenticity) of what Absolut was aiming at, why Blogfest organizers should've provided some leadership, and why bloggers should recognize that, even if they don't think of themselves as journalists, they may have some ethical responsibilities. Here's my analysis of the coverage in the New York Times's Week in Review.

So, it's taken only five years for the Brooklyn Blogfest to go from a seat-of-the-pants indie event, organized by Louise Crawford of Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn with the help of fellow bloggers, to a sponsored event in which the sponsor got some low-key mentions, to a sponsored event in which the sponsor was Absolut-ly dominant.

Consider that the guest of honor last night at the Brooklyn Lyceum was beloved Brooklyn-reared film director and advertising entrepreneur Spike Lee, who, in collaboration with Absolut, chose the Blogfest as the place to kick off the new Absolut Brooklyn brand.

When Lee spoke--some not-unentertaining musings about Brooklyn--a giant bottle of Absolut served as the backdrop, as shown in the photos by Adrian Kinloch. And after Lee offered a few choice words about housing cost, his parents' $40,000 brownstone (40 years ago), and the time "Fort Greene was Fort Greene," he ran into some internal conflict.

"I'm not going to get into gentrification, but goddamn," he said, musing about "white linen tables" on Lafayette and DeKalb avenues. Then he corrected himself: "This is to celebrate Absolut, so we're not going to get into gentrification tonight. Sorry, Absolut."

It is?

It was.

(Here's Brownstoner's critical take. Here's the Twitter stream for posts with the word blogfest; a good number of people were happy with the event. Here's Crawford's recap and evasive defense. Here's some debate on the Times's CityRoom blog, plus Crawford's answers here and here. Here's the Brooklyn Heights Blog and Found in Brooklyn.)

Stoop life?

Lee segued into talking about stoops. Absolut's product, featuring a stoop, and its Brooklyn Stoop Life campaign--in which various bloggers have been engaged, some for swag (are they disclosing it?) in a "viral, underground effort"--was the not-so-subtle undercurrent to the event.

Lee told everyone to go to BrooklynStoopLife.com and suggested every neighborhood should make up its own drink incorporating Absolut Brooklyn.

In Crawford's introduction, she suggested that the explosion of Brooklyn blogging is because "Brooklyn is a place with a true community life" and "maybe it really does start at the stoop."

Maybe that's part of it, but another reason is surely the general neglect of Brooklyn by the print media, especially the city's daily newspapers, leaving lots of room for those using blogs to fill a niche. Add to that the enormous controversies over development projects (AY is why Clinton Hill and Brooklyn are the "bloggiest") as well as an obsession with real estate (see Brownstoner).

Much of that has faded, at least among last night's Blogfest audience, who managed but a few boos when Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz (above) was invited by Lee to sit next to him when Lee's beloved New York Knicks play the BP's Brooklyn Nets (or whatever their name is) at the new Brooklyn arena.

A good number of people in the audience--more than 300--were there for Lee, and a couple of the questions asked of him concerned how to further film careers. It had nothing to do with blogging. (Lee acknowledged he knew little about the medium, but said, not unwisely, "It's just a tool and it depends who's writing it.")

But Lee's time at the podium, as well as the "Ode to Brooklyn"--more of an ode to "Absolut Brooklyn" (as in the ad excerpted at left)--by performance poet Lemon Andersen, cut into the time available for the actual Blogfest, notably the not-so-cohesive "Create, Inspire, Blog" panel.

Collaborators

And, instead of the "Shout-Out," in which new bloggers got to announce their blogs, there was instead a dramatic announcement--by an actor who'd participated in an earlier dramatic reading of blog post excerpts--of several blogs.

Many were established blogs, not new ones. How were they chosen? Unclear, but I'd bet they were those Absolut partners who were promised a "Special call-out as a key collaborator during the Fifth Annual Brooklyn Blogfest on June 8." Update June 10: Crawford says that's not so.

Note: AYR was included in the announcement, perhaps as filler. Needless to say, I wasn't asked to join the Absolut bandwagon.

The performance

Below is video, shot by Jonathan Barkey, of (most of) Andersen's "Ode to Brooklyn," as well as Lee's speech, without the subsequent Q&A. The Ode also serves as an Absolut advertisement.



Andersen's good. I paid money to see County of Kings at the Public Theater. And I can't begrudge him renting his skillz to Absolut; it's hard to make a living in the city. But his deft shout-out is empty at the core, a name-check of neighborhoods that, above all, leaves the impression of Absolut and its Stoop Life campaign. (His close: "Absolut Brooklyn--the greatest country in the world. If you're not in it, you're just in the way.")

Lee's good too. And he's right to say that Absolut has been a pioneer in innovative advertising. And he's worth watching even when he's tired or whatever he was yesterday.

But, above all, they were both on message last night. Should they have been hijacking the Blogfest?

(At left, bloggers gather in the "Blogs of a Feather" networking opportunity at the end of the event. At right is Jake Dobkin of Gothamist.)

Some others were also dismayed.

Chris Pepper commented:

Aside from the annoying cheerleading about how Brooklyn is the 'bloggiest', it was pretty good.... Oddest: The whole thing think was sponsored by Absolut, pushing their new Absolut Brooklyn, co-designed by Spike Lee.
From Sunset Park Chronicled:
brooklyn blogfest--the creative unite...or become captive audience for spike lee's absolute vodka fest. Weird.
(They weren't all captive. Many were part of the deal.)

From BK Foodie Mom:
loved the BK bloggers, hated the extended absolut commercial. hope spike had a good ride back to the UES
Markowitz and Lee

Below is video, shot by Barkey, of Markowitz's question for Lee. "When will you do the Absolut right thing and move back to Brooklyn, USA?" the BP asked, echoing both the theme of the event and Lee's most famous film.

But he didn't realize that another person in the audience had asked the same question before his arrival. Answer: Lee found it too hard to maintain privacy in Brooklyn--people ringing his doorbell--and his wife wanted to move. His production house, 40 Acres and a Mule, is still in Fort Greene.



"You're going to move back to Brooklyn, I know you will. I know you will," Markowitz said. "It's just a matter of time. Sooner or later, most every creative person finds their way back to Brooklyn, I have to tell you."

"Woody Allen, where's he?" riposted Lee.

"Well, Woody Allen--" Markowitz responded.

"Where's Barbra Streisand?" continued Lee.

"No, Barbra Streisand. She may, I can't say anything--" Markowitz responded.

"She's not moving back," Lee responded with incredulousness. "Barbara Streisand's not moving back."

"Jay-Z, maybe," Markowitz declared.

The tribute to photobloggers

The video below, produced by Kinloch, was shown last night. Note the credit to Barkey, who contributes photos (and also video) to AYR, but is not responsible for the blog, as well as to Kinloch, who also shot photos at the Blogfest and contributes to AYR, and to Tracy Collins, who also contributes to AYR.


Comments

  1. Spike Lee never said word one about Atlantic Yards. Then, when Bruce Ratner had his big, tone-deaf, over the top groundbreaking on March 11th, who was there? Spike, of course. And now he wants to complain about gentrification? What is it, does the think, that AY will do if built, other than super-speed and super-size gentrification. Where's the moral compass?

    Spike was on the wrong side of the Atlantic Yards fight, and that has nothing to do with him getting no privacy when he walks the Borough's streets.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So gross, this usurpation of the blogfest to tout vodka and Marty Markowitz. Lee has joined the "big guys" -he's not cool/ And what happened at the blogfest is what is happening to Brooklyn - commercialization, big business. Sad.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Big deal, we got some cocktails. Marty showed up. Spike showed up, and they both sounded out of touch, elitist and foolish talking up the horrific arena. The Blogfest was very similar in scope and feel this time as it was in 2008 when I last attended.

    I am one of the blogger collaborators. I mentioned in my video (I am a food and wine video blogger) that I'm one of the blogs chosen to work with Absolut. To my mind "Work" implied compensation. I have annotated the text of my youtube channel and blog with the specifics.

    I'm not a huge blogger, but my quality is very high. I really hate all this cybersnark. Mostly heat, with very little light.

    In case you want to see how the other half lives (and eats and drinks)take a peek: http://www.sogood.tv/heather_johnston/2010/06/absolut-brooklyn-sangria.html

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

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…