Thursday, July 9, 2009

Oh, so THAT's what happened to that thing...


(image of poor Lady Liberty from flatbushnelson on Flickr)

Long story short, I'm a 6.5 year resident of Ditmas Park, one of the more recently annointed "it" neighborhoods of Brooklyn. Since 2004, a tiny, fairly dirty coffeehouse named Vox Pop has had a tattered Statue of Liberty replica out front. The previous owner tried to run the place into the ground with questionable business practices (amassing a ton of healthcode violations and fines) then cut his losses and ran, leaving the poor new manager to deal with his mess. In the end, it all turned out okay, because just like in "It's a Wonderful Life," concerned residents decided to cough up their hard earned money to pay the fines, reopen the place, and stake a claim in ownership.

Then several weeks ago, someone stole the statue from the sidewalk. Not too surprising, if you ask me. Its right arm was literally being held together by duct tape when last I checked. There is such a thing as industrial solvent, soder and paint to repair artwork properly (i.e., duct tape is not fairly archival material, per se). So much like the lawn gnomes held hostage who have ransom videos sent back to their owners, the thieves of the statue decided to post their "statement" on You Tube and a shitstorm has ensued.

Truthfully, I really don't care much about this story, which appears to be nothing more than mere vandalism and 15 minutes of fame for the perpetrators. As an art lover, I'm much more interested in the artistic merits of the video, which are dubious at best. To say not a lot of thought went into this piece would be the understatement of the year. I can't tell if their goal is to make a statement against U.S. interventionism overseas, or against Vox Pop itself-- i.e., "Die hippie scum." Truthfully it seems much more a punk-ass attempt at bringing back horrible memories of the slaughter of Daniel Pearl. From the crap-ass audio and pitifully poor lighting, to the sabotaging of poor Liberty's face from the blunt end of a baseball bat, this experience for me was the equivalent of watching an early episode of "Saved By the Bell," before A.C. Slater was a cast member. Like, seriously, what was the point? "We don't want your freedom?" Yeah? Well, I don't want to see your video, nor drink your victim's coffee either. It's almost as if you can sense the perpetrator just learned in Film 101 about subliminal frames and is so excited, he can't wait to share. Note to creator-- it's been done before-- and a hell of a lot better. (see the famed "The Exorcist" demon face as my example)


According to the Daily News, this is a huge deal, so check it out. In the meantime, as you can probably tell, I really don't care for the much lauded Vox Pop. Their coffee has a bitter battery acid taste, with no nutty undertones; they got rid of the best tea they ever had (a fantastic strawberry green); shut down their awesome summer BBQ guy; and continuously tout how environmentally conscious they are, yet blast two air conditioners with the door open on an open mic night where it was literally 60 degrees outside. Upon me asking the counterperson to turn down the air on the frozen solid 9 customers in the room, I was told, "It gets hot in here with all the customers." Ha. Liberty be damned.

For FB'ers, here's the link, because the video won't show up in the blog import. Enjoy.