Monday, August 15, 2011

A review of my lecture at Galapagos: "Oder is funny when he's angry" ("Forget it Jake, it's Atlantic Yards")

From yesterday's New York Daily News, in the bottom of the Sports section's catchall The Score column, headlined Times have changed for Ohio State president Gordon Gee now that Buckeyes are in hot water with NCAA:
ODER EXPOSES ATLANTIC YARDS

Norman Oder is funny when he's angry - and he was furious on Thursday night at Galapagos Art Space.

The man behind Atlantic Yards Report, the blog that serves as the primary watchdog for Nets minority owner Bruce Ratner's Brooklyn real estate scheme, cracked up the crowd at the DUMBO nightspot as he ripped through a list of the people and things - including Mayor Bloomberg, phony Dodgers nostalgia, Nets chief executive officer Brett Yormark, The New York Times, the Daily News - that piss him off. He compared the history of Ratner's project to Byzantine plot twists of Roman Polanski's 1974 film noir classic, "Chinatown."

"Forget it, Jake," Oder hissed throughout his presentation, "it's Atlantic Yards."

Oder was one of the featured speakers of "Get Smart," a weekly salon that combines lectures and performance art (think Nerd Night meets Burning Man) and he took the Galapagos audience on a 15-minute tour of Atlantic Yards' absurdities and falsehoods. "When I get angry I work harder," Oder added, explaining his commitment to his blog. "I'm not an ideologue. I'm not a NIMBY. I just don't like being lied to."

One highlight was a video featuring Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz exhorting Chinese investors to put their money into the project in exchange for green cards. Markowitz looked more like a Coney Island carnival barker than an elected official in the video: "Brooklyn is 1,000% behind Atlantic Yards," he shouted, apparently forgetting about years of lawsuits and protests opposed to the project.

"He knows he lied," Oder told the giggling audience.

Oder also ripped the media for superficial coverage of the 22-acre project fueled by eminent domain and public subsidies. He tore into activist Michael Ratner, Bruce's brother, who is opposed to seizing Arabs' land for Jewish settlements but supports seizing Brooklyn apartments for basketball arenas. And he blasted Yormark, who gets tons of favorable coverage from what he calls "myopic" sports writers.

"There have been a lot of promises about jobs, housing and hoops that have not been fulfilled," Oder said. "You don't have to be an opponent to be skeptical. You just have to follow the facts."
The writer was Michael O'Keeffe, who's maintained a skeptical attitude toward Atlantic Yards and was one of the first to see the value of my blog, praising it in a 5/2/06 post.

On Michael Ratner

For the record, the Michael Ratner segment didn't refer to eminent domain issues. I said:
Michael Ratner runs Center for Constitutional Rights, wants to shut down Guantanamo, hero to the left. When his brother.... stopped giving campaign cash to Brooklyn political hacks, Michael stepped up. Can he justify that? He will not answer questions.
Yes, it's meant to be spoken rather than read.

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