Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Prospect Heights verdict on the VMAs pre-show: "block party to end all block parties" or locals "soured to the experience"? (and clean-up unfinished)

So, was the MTV Video Music Awards and pre-show at the intersection of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue "the block party to end all block parties," with surmountable hassles,  according to a report from International Business Times, Living Inside the MTV Awards, from the very exclusive territory of Dean just west of Sixth? (I was with the majority of locals east of Sixth on Dean.)

Or as radio.com reported, in No Sleep For Brooklyn: MTV VMAs Disrupt Neighborhood Surrounding Barclays, were residents "particularly soured to the experience and worried it would set an ugly precedent for future events of this scale"?
Pacific Street this morning, via AY Watch

Maybe both. A lot of people had mixed feelings--see 13 interviews of Dean Street residents, some pleased, some very frustrated--and for fans there was surely enough of a thrill to make it enjoyable. But Dean Street west of Sixth had much tighter security, so people there were not inundated by visitors nor (I believe) the same level of cheering, screaming extras on their sidewalks and stoops.

Also, neither article dealt with such things as the numerous limos idling on neighborhood streets, roaring down Dean Street after the show--or the delays in reopening and cleaning streets.

Pacific Street this morning, via AY Watch
Also, on the second morning after the event, as noted by Atlantic Yards Watch, much has yet to be cleaned up: "VMA Strike not complete french barriers, fencing, trash, barrier screen attached to Dean St park & other mtl remains for a 2nd day."

Not for everyone

And for those with little kids, it just wasn't fun. Radio.com reported:
“It was a huge interruption to the community for what was essentially a 90-minute segment that they did,” Taniya Gunasekara, who lives on 6th Avenue between Dean and Bergen Streets with her 18-month-old son Walter, told Radio.com. “I had to call in late to work today (August 26) because it was not a good night for trying to get him to sleep.”

Gunasekara said that, while fans thronged and music pumped through the street, she had to remove the air conditioner in her toddler’s room and move a piece of furniture in front of the window there in order to block the noise. He usually falls asleep around 7 p.m. “We had to stop everything that we needed to do for our lives.” 
...Saturday night, when large lights were pointed at Gunasekara’s building, [Forest City Ratner's Ashley] Cotton came by her place offering window covering that would blackout the light. But the black cloth she received did not cover her windows. She also noted that the only flier she received was slid under her door on August 19, informing her of how to park cars during the event; badges would be provided to residents for parking in the Barclay’s lot.
Sixth Avenue this morning, via AY Watch
Gunasekara added, in response to my inquiry:
Personally I was offended by the way residents were treated. We did not get the simple curtsy from our local authorities (mayor's office or the PD) about any protocol as to what is needed to enter the block we live in/work at or visit friends. Sat and Sun night MTV had super bright lights pointed on Sixth Ave houses to use as their backdrop and set for the red carpet performance; and one of those lights were directly pointed at my son's (18 months old) bedroom and our bedroom. The consideration I got was 3 pieces of black cotton fabric that were too short to cover the windows. I had to move furniture to block the windows. My point really is that when big events (not every concert) take place that disrupt our lives I would like authorities, event organizers and most of all the Barclays Center to consider how our lives are impacted by them. They NEED to do a better job informing us and get better organized. They may just work here, but we LIVE here and we DESERVE better.
The neighborhood impact

Dean Street playground still has tarp, via AY Watch
Radio.com quoted Dean Street Block Association president Peter Krashes:
“It’s another example that, if an economic incentive exists, then the ability of the community to mitigate effects of the event lessens and lessens on behalf of the community,” Krashes said. “A lot of people had no choice during this event to either simply stay at home, to leave completely, or to go the event itself. There was no ability to move about the neighborhood.”
The arena defense:
On part of the Barclays Center, Ashley Cotton, a representative from the arena, said there were many lines of communication in place, including two letters that went out into the community and a hotline and email for locals to contact. She also mentioned community meetings for dean street residents, lots of one on one meetings and calls, the regular Atlantic Yards quality of life meeting, Barclays Reps going to local meetings, and a representative available 100 percent to answer questions.
Dean Street at Sixth Avenue, via AY Watch
Two letters from MTV, with no name behind them. One community meeting for select residents at the Newswalk building. "One on one meetings" don't do much. One not so informed Barclays rep at the Quality of Life meeting and a Dean Street Block Association meeting.

Krashes told Radio.com that the information was inconsistent, which it was.

The concert, and concert noise

The article quoted me: "But it’s fair to say there was never any announced plan for a concert outside on the southeast corner of the arena block, right across from people’s houses.”

I spoke before the event, and was referring to the admission that there would be "concert-loud noise."

Radio.com offered this response:
A source close to the issue, who asked to be cited anonymously, said on Saturday that complaints about “an unannounced concert” outside the arena on the day of the event are not relevant, because there was no concert, categorically. Rather, DJ duo Nervo were behind the decks, on a platform above the red carpet near the 6th Avenue and Dean Street intersection.
“There will be a DJ playing music during the red carpet and a singer briefly performing,” the source said. “To call it a concert would be inaccurate, and it is the policy of our office that these types of events are not pre-announced to prevent crowds from forming. It is the best interest of public safety that this so-called concert is not publicized as it would be imprudent for crowds to gather for a non-existent concert.”
Dean Street, via AY Watch
No rebuttal, or video from the event, was offered.

It wasn't a concert, but it was definitely concert-loud, for hours, and they didn't tell anyone about that until the week of the event, and they didn't mention the screaming extras. Check out Austin Mahone's appearance here.

"It is the best interest of public safety that this so-called concert is not publicized as it would be imprudent for crowds to gather for a non-existent concert.”

That's Orwellian, almost.

Everyone knew the pre-show would be live at Dean and Sixth. The cops barricaded the neighborhood. Crowds would not have gathered beyond the substantial crowds organized by MTV. The issue isn't whether it was "publicized." The issue is whether neighbors were substantially informed.

Isn't it suspicious that the "source" wouldn't be quoted by name?

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