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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

tonic closes; Ribot and Moore arrested

Lower East Side avant garde mainstay Tonic was forced out by soaring rent last Saturday. The venue held its last concert, a John Zorn and friends improvisational performance and the following day protesters arrived.

The protesters claimed that the condo being built on Tonic's remains was not culture and that Tonic deserves to stand. In the comments on Brooklyn Vegan's post, somebody speaks to the new real estate trend of "go where the artists are." It has been super successful in NYC (see Williamsburg and LES) and Chicago (see Wicker Park/Bucktown) too.

It is sad to see culture-seekers move to hip neighborhoods and eventually destroy it by forcing rent up. I suppose that is just the way real estate works. Simple supply and demand...

Is there a solution for this? Probably not seeing as real estate gurus have already made millions and would do anything to repeat their gains. I'll tell you one thing, all of my friends from college want to move to New York and I'm not sure I want to go with them. With no experience in the job market, I'm afraid I can't afford the city that never sleeps.

In protest of Tonic's demise, Marc Ribot and Rebecca Moore stayed in the space until they were pulled out by police. Bob Arihood was inside.

Tonic was a great venue and I'm glad I had the chance of catching a Sexmob show there a few years back. Tonic, CBGB, Sin-e, who's next?

And on another note, what new neighborhood will the hipsters infiltrate? I hear they're moving into Pilsen, a beautiful Mexican neighborhood in Chicago. I heard that Harlem has gentrified. I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

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Blogger Rich said...

There can actually be really simple solutions to this problem. New York City (and other major cities) need to prioritize culture and art as an aspect of development. Tonic managed to remain fiscally solvent in the face of high rent for years, but eventually rent became too much for them to pay. That proves that the art Tonic supported had a steady audience and is clearly in demand by the New York (and national) public. Same with CBGB's. Therefore, New York simply needs to incentivize artistic venues, either with real estate caps or tax breaks in order to ensure that cultural mainstays can continue to thrive. It's in the long term best interest of the city, not only culturally but economically, because clearly a strong arts scene drives development (which goes back to your point about young rich people moving into the LES, Williamsburg, etc.). Most cities in America work to maintain and preserve historical sites--why not recognize that much of the character of a city is derived from unique cultural institutions and work to preserve them?

4/18/07, 10:50 AM  
Blogger zp said...

I agree. That's an interesting solution. I wonder if cities can recognize the long term benefits though. It seems that the short term gain is what they have in mind.

That's why you and I should create a city. I already have plans in mind. It's going to take about 30 years, you ready???

4/18/07, 12:23 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

City planning? Love it! Can we call it Brazilia?

4/18/07, 1:48 PM  

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