Not For Sale

Not For Sale
Protest at the Brooklyn Museum real estate jamboree

Monday, October 28, 2013

CRED

My credentials to undertake this chronicle are: 1. I am a writer. I may even be as good a writer as I am a singer, which is very, very good, unusually good.

2. I am the published "as told to" author of a book FAR outside my own experience – high performance sales – a motivational business memoir of extreme rags to riches tale from Italian East Harlem starting in the 50s, The Street-Smart Salesman: How Growing Up Poor Helped Make Me Rich. A European reviewer called it as close to a Da Vinci Code page-turner as a business book could be; it's published by John C. Wiley & Co., the reigning business publisher; it's being translated into Mandarin.

3. I'm from Brooklyn, born in Park Slope Irish-Italian Roman Catholic, then to Flatbush with my mother's adored second husband, my father, who was Jewish. I moved back to Park Slope in 1984, bought a place in 1995, very lucky, and raised a child there. As of June, 2013, I live in Crown Heights with my beaufriend, the architect Tim Seggerman. I rented out my beautiful apartment in Park Slope for money to live on, let's leave it there. Gentrification there, however, is working FOR me in Park Slope as a long-time resident. The same is hardly true in Crown Heights. No black Brooklyn neighborhood is safe from Whitey at this point. That's what we're here to talk about, whether we are going to be allowed to have the "post-racial" New York we all want as opposed to the investment condos for foreign billionaires.

4. I am a drop-out from the Columbia University School of Architecture master's program in Historic Preservation. Knocking down Pennsylvania Station blew my mind. They went after Rockefeller Center! Grand Central! The entire international art scene that centers in NYC was nurtured in abandoned manufacturing buildings south of Houston condemned for highways connecting Long Island and New Jersey - Manhattan as crossover! My ambitions were idealistic and entirely aesthetic and I certainly had little appreciation and no practical experience of the pervasive racism in American society, much as I ranted about it based on what I read. I dropped out of Columbia to work on a new TV show, Saturday Night Live. Lucky!

5. I really love living in Crown Heights. As a single woman, even as a married woman, I would not have moved into a black neighborhood with or without a child. Sometime in the early 2000s another single mother and I talked about getting a Bed-Stuy brownstone for ourselves and combined 3 kids, but we weren't brave enough – no other word – to take it really seriously. But Tim Seggerman came to what used to be called Ebbets Field nearly 30 years ago because it reminded him of someplace he'd lived in New Orleans, among black people, a happy time.

6. I hope we can agree it's long past time for Whitey to take a look at his and her racism, especially anyone who insists s/he is not racist at all. Trust me, you're tainted. LOU REED explains.