Join 3,368 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Will NY turn into a city with museums but without culture?
December 5, 2013 8:40 AM   Subscribe

The city is a fountain that never stops: it generates its energy from the human interactions that take place in it. Unfortunately, we’re getting to a point where many of New York’s citizens have been excluded from this equation for too long. David Byrne comments on New York's hospitability to creative types.
posted by shivohum (86 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bike Snob NYC has a little to say about David Byrne.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:44 AM on December 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


And the worst part is, whenever anyone complains about this, they're accused of being 'entitled'. Sorry guys, it's YOU who feel entitled- to a world full of art and culture that somehow just appears out of thin air, without being made by actual humans. Art is great, but artists are whiners who should get a real job.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:50 AM on December 5, 2013 [12 favorites]


Bike Snob NYC has a little to say about David Byrne.

That was a fun read:

Face it Dave, you're stuck here. I feel like I know you, and you'd be miserable anyplace else. Your only other option (without leaving America) is Portland, and I don't think even you could deal with that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:00 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, New Yorkers. Is there anything they like to complain more about than the city itself?
posted by monospace at 9:02 AM on December 5, 2013


Other New Yorkers who complain about how Things Have Chaaaaanged, Maaaan.
posted by griphus at 9:05 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


New York is like LA in that you bitch about it to fill the space between gloating about living in THE GREATEST CITY IN THE WORLD.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:05 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also quite a lot of this rant:

"...there is no room for fresh creative types. Middle-class people can barely afford to live here anymore, so forget about emerging artists, musicians, actors, dancers, writers, journalists and small business people"

Sounds like David Byrne isn't invited to the cool parties anymore because no one remembers what a Talking Head is or where the Tom Tom Club was (in the village or something?)
posted by griphus at 9:06 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, New Yorkers. Is there anything they like to complain more about than the city itself?

Yes, how every other city they visit doesn't have xyz like New York.
posted by Winnemac at 9:06 AM on December 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


New York is like LA in that you bitch about it to fill the space between gloating about living in THE GREATEST CITY IN THE WORLD

Hey now, Stockholm Syndrome is no joke.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:07 AM on December 5, 2013


David Byrne can come to my crazy art parties if he agrees not to talk to anyone.
posted by The Whelk at 9:07 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have to give mad props to David Byrne for where he's directing his attention. He notices the younger generation is facing difficulties that he didn't in his day, and he's speaking about. That is truly the mark of a standup guy.

But, really, is it so bad if the next breeding ground for new art and music be Jersey City or Newark or Bridgeport? Right now, there are artists congregating all the way in Boston all of whom aspire to present their work in NYC, so hurrah for Amtrak and BoltBus.

Montmartre was out in the boonies too when the artists moved in after being pushed out of the Left Bank.
posted by ocschwar at 9:08 AM on December 5, 2013 [17 favorites]


I think when Google and Disney merge they'll buy out Manhattan and turn it into a version of itself, but with "accurately" reproduced historical zones. The scary section of Times Square with slutty princesses, the Warhol ride, Bubble ride be an old time trader, the Dustin Hoffman crazy movie ride, the early "out" ride, stay in a charming Village Loft or a glitzy condo overlooking the park.
posted by sammyo at 9:08 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]



Sounds like David Byrne isn't invited to the cool parties anymore because no one remembers what a Talking Head was or how where the Tom Tom Club was (in the village or something?)


I doubt it. Who would snub David Byrne? And besides, the dude scours cities on his bike. He'd just crash the parties.
posted by ocschwar at 9:09 AM on December 5, 2013


Disney Big Apple Presents the Stonewall Riot Stunt Act: 11 AM, 11:45 AM, 12:30 PM, 1:15 PM
posted by griphus at 9:10 AM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


New York is like LA in that you bitch about it to fill the space between gloating about living in THE GREATEST CITY IN THE WORLD

It's a humblebrag. It's like when people complain about the heavy workload at Harvard, or how hard it is to afford the rent on Park Avenue.

People are meant to connect the dots themselves.
posted by jaduncan at 9:10 AM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


We are middle class New Yorkers. This morning I ran in Central Park. I will probably order Ethiopian food for dinner tonight. This weekend we are going shopping at Fishs Eddy and on Monday we are going to a gala benefit for Alan Menken.

I think the culture here is pretty sweet.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:13 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]



But, really, is it so bad if the next breeding ground for new art and music be Jersey City or Newark or Bridgeport? Right now, there are artists congregating all the way in Boston all of whom aspire to present their work in NYC, so hurrah for Amtrak and BoltBus.


The thing is the powerbase is still located here, and if you want to get press coverage, which means sales which means food and heat, it's better if you're already within walking distance to the gatekeepers. There are emerging new markets (comics, games, Kickstarter has changed so much) but it's all very modest. I know so many stories of people who where out doing their thing in the cold with no audience until someone Important showed up or a lucky break broke well or the one chance encounter out of a thousand worked out.

Hell one person I know got their start because someone saw a painting he did at a party, from that one job they Tarzan-swung from commission to commission.

The internet has changed this (for the better!) but a large number of people at the top are still pre-internet.
posted by The Whelk at 9:13 AM on December 5, 2013


Who would snub David Byrne?

Someone who hasn't a clue in hell as to who he is.

I used to run a punk shop in the East Village, selling t-shirts and patches and hair dye and so on. Guess how many people under the age of 35 so much as asked where the Talking Heads stuff was? David Byrne is relevant solely to the new artists who care about what David Byrne was doing.
posted by griphus at 9:15 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why would you expect punks to be interested in the Talking Heads?
posted by benito.strauss at 9:18 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


New York has drained so much interestingness out of smaller, more artist-friendly cities. If it continues to squeeze out everyone without money, it will be sad for New York, but great for Pittsburgh.
posted by the jam at 9:18 AM on December 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


Why would you expect punks to be interested in the Talking Heads?

It's this thing where they have been reclassified as "art punk" by...someone...maybe the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

I am not sure most actual punks buy it.
posted by like_a_friend at 9:19 AM on December 5, 2013


I use "punk shop" loosely; it's not like there were "new wave" stores or anything. It was just the place you got your bondage pants and stretch jeans, and t-shirts ordered by people who actually knew music. The punks stocked the punk wall, the metalheads stocked the metal wall, I made sure we had 4 AD shirts and so on. It was the place where you'd get a Talking Heads shirt if you wanted one.
posted by griphus at 9:21 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are perhaps 2 or 3 NY based celebrities I take seriously, Byrne is one of them. Not saying I always agree with him, but I am always at least willing to listen to what he has to say.
posted by edgeways at 9:25 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Life long New Yorker here... seems like most (not all, but really really MOST) of the people who complain about skyrocketing rent are the people who would rather commit harakiri than move to say, Queens or Long Island. And I'm not seeing much of a cultural problem in this city, especially as compared to other American cities. Chicago is probably 2nd best. After that it's a pretty steep drop into delusion-ville (I'm looking at you LA and SF.)
posted by ReeMonster at 9:28 AM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


People who don't know who David Byrne is or listen to Tom Tom Club probably don't throw very good parties.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:29 AM on December 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Of course not. They throw the cool parties where everyone stands around still wearing their jackets with their arms crossed in front of one another while imperceptibly nodding to the music, afraid to make a comment about it because the shittier it is the more likely you're standing next to the person who made it.
posted by griphus at 9:36 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Admirers of Mr Byrne got you covered, griphus.
posted by digitalprimate at 9:43 AM on December 5, 2013


Sounds like David Byrne isn't invited to the cool parties anymore because no one remembers what a Talking Head is or where the Tom Tom Club was (in the village or something?)

Do you actually believe this?
posted by thelonius at 9:43 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I believe it for a certain segment of the creative class he's casting a wide swath over, absolutely. I didn't mean to imply that David Byrne is some sort of cultural pariah. But he's also not at the height of relevancy, and even considering the album he cut with St. Vincent, most people I know were a whole lot more excited about St. Vincent than they were about David Byrne.

But a lot of the sort of art and music he's complaining about a dearth of isn't coming from people who have a particularly good grasp of him or his career or even the zeitgeist where he's from. That's just the way it goes, and that's the way it has always gone. He's from a very, very different time, and while he does a good job of keeping up with music, there's no getting away from that and there's no getting away that he's not going to be there at the forefront of the scenes he's claiming don't exist or are struggling to.
posted by griphus at 9:49 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


David Byrne to City: "Don't make me go find a new lawn somewhere else!"
posted by monospace at 9:52 AM on December 5, 2013


Someone who hasn't a clue in hell as to who he is.

Until a week ago I had no idea (musically) who the hell he is. Even now I can only point out three of his songs if you played them.

But if you're an artist or just someone who wants his city to be a more welcoming place to artists, you can't afford not to know who he is and the work he's done as an advocate for artists.
posted by ocschwar at 9:53 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I compare this thread to the Lou Reed obit thread, and I think about those artists' relatively equal contributions to both music and NYC I can only feel that good old Dave just needs 15 years and some cancer before we're fawning over him the way we did Lou.

Also: ungrateful bitches.
posted by digitalprimate at 9:55 AM on December 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


I mean figure it this way: the little four-piece band making noise and wailing on a synth and screaming into the mic, playing a half-hour set in a Bushwick venue that may or may not be someone's apartment. They were all born between 1993 and 1995.

They are the people Byrne wants to protect and nurture and goddamn do they absolutely need to be protected and nurtured. Nothing Byrne says about how there needs to be stewardship is off-base.

But who is Byrne to them?
posted by griphus at 9:59 AM on December 5, 2013


I actually read through the article and was agreeing with David Byrne. Then I came in here and was initially annoyed by the comments - until I realized that I have no real answer to "what's wrong with another city like Pittsburgh or Cleveland becoming The New Cultural Capital?"

Until just now - I actually have no problem with another city becoming a cultural capital, but what's wrong with New York ALSO staying culturally relevant, so that we have more than one cultural capital? In fact, what's wrong with having cultural scenes in every city?

Some of us aren't lamenting the loss of the culture scene in New York because we want to be the one and only. Some of us are lamenting the loss because a culture scene is a thing that every city everywhere deserves to have.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:59 AM on December 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


but what's wrong with New York ALSO staying culturally relevant,

Nothing wrong with that. But the influx of the megarich into NYC, that phenomenon that is driving the artists out, is something David Byrne can't fight off any better than King Canute I fought the tide.
posted by ocschwar at 10:13 AM on December 5, 2013


But who is Byrne to them?

I'm not sure why that matters. Do you need to be cool with the kids to talk about economic and social issues that you feel are detrimental to your city?
posted by the jam at 10:16 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


But the influx of the megarich into NYC, that phenomenon that is driving the artists out, is something David Byrne can't fight off any better than King Canute I fought the tide.

Unless the megarich realize "hey, wait, preserving the culture in this city would actually kinda be a good thing," and start getting more generous with funding theater and symphonies and opera companies and what-not.

But yeah, as long as I'm dreaming I'd also like a pony.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:18 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a problem with a solution, given that New York City owns tens of thousands of spacious, well-constructed apartments in or near the prime arts and culture neighborhoods, and rents them out for almost nothing. Who is going to advocate changing public housing priorities to those who are poor because they are artists from those who are poor for other reasons.
posted by MattD at 10:20 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Brazil is forever indebted to Byrne for what he did to Tom Zé, thanks David! Come to São Paulo, maybe not the ugliest but officialy the craziest city in the world. You'll always be welcome at our parties.
posted by Tom-B at 10:21 AM on December 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm of a younger generation than David Byrne, and I've been in NYC for 8~9 years now. I'm not an artist, but I straddle the art/tech/design/non-profit worlds, so most of my friends are people who make things, whether they are films, sculptures, buildings, installations, tech startups, nonprofits, architecture, furniture, businesses, etc.

I biked around the city the other day and couldn't help but wonder. Who is making all of this stuff? My friends are being priced out of places, moving around, juggling jobs and studio spaces and side projects? Who's really producing and creating?

Sometimes, all I see is a city full of upper-middle-class people performing immaterial labor who feed off of pre-existing culture made by a producing artist/creative class. This cultural capital is then trotted about by another group of people, who use it as status markers, social shields, leisure entertainment. etc. A city full of content consumers who use the city as a protective, defensive shroud with which one obtains 'culture' -- as if culture was a necessary thing to absorb, like some kind of protective SPF-100 lotion or something; as if going to museums and talking about a show is productive, as if a kid going to a show in Bushwick is productive, as if reading the New Yorker is productive, as if going out to Jackson Heights to eat Thai is productive and cultural. I do all of these things, too. But I'm trying not to kid myself that these things are 'cultural' -- or at least, I'm trying to acknowledge that an appreciation of 'culture' in no way translates back into actually supporting the arts.

There's a longer rant hidden in here that I've written and deleted over. I guess what I really want is a city full of people that make things and spit new things out. Instead lately I see a city full of people who absorb and absorb and have everything reduced to circular discourse. Has it always been this way?

I'm worried that NYC in the future, is going to be a lot of upper-class people spending their disposable incomes on flimsy, conservative notions of 'culture' ('Oh! Let's go buy another Bacon triptych, shall we, dear?'), a laboring/working lower class largely ignored by the 'cultural world' of NYC, and a dwindling/non-existent subset of that lower class, struggling to make ends meet, trying to make and create. Eventually what will held aloft as bastions of culture will be a pre-ordained group of artists, sanctioned by the cultural community, very conveniently at the intersection of blue-chip art and watered-down avant-garde. Sotheby's auction limits will be broken every quarter, a museum founded downtown every year, and NYC will continue to speak of itself as a 'cultural center'. After all, look at all the museums! The auctions are doing so well! Museums are flourishing! Did you hear about all the great museum galas last month? There's never been a better time for art in NYC!
posted by suedehead at 10:22 AM on December 5, 2013 [12 favorites]


Unless the megarich realize "hey, wait, preserving the culture in this city would actually kinda be a good thing," and start getting more generous with funding theater and symphonies and opera companies and what-not.

Just remember: to the older, wealthy people of New York, David Byrne means something, because he created some of the music of their youth. So when he talks about issues like this, they're more likely to listen than if the kids born between 1993 and 1995 talk about it. He's using his reputation/audience to give those kids a voice, albeit indirectly (and possibly thanklessly.) Nothing wrong with that.

Kind of like saying "hey, I got this lawn because lawns were a thing back in the day, and now lawns are no longer a thing, so how are the new kids supposed to get one?" even though the new kids have no interest whatsoever in him or his particular lawn
posted by davejay at 10:25 AM on December 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


But yeah, as long as I'm dreaming I'd also like a pony.

Meanwhile, thre are people working to make it so young artists have heat, food, health care, and their interests represented at the negotiating table with the labels et cetera. Some of these fights are actually being won. So I have to wonder if it's worth anyone's time and effort to fight for the ability of artists to set up shop on Manhattan Island, compared to these other things.
posted by ocschwar at 10:26 AM on December 5, 2013


After that it's a pretty steep drop into delusion-ville (I'm looking at you LA and SF.)

Man, you guys are obsessed with us out here. Stop flirting!
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:26 AM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's like when people complain about the heavy workload at Harvard

Harvard must have changed a lot since my college days. People I knew who went there said they hardly worked at all except during finals week.
posted by IndigoJones at 10:27 AM on December 5, 2013


But who is Byrne to them?

Probably depends on the kid. Seeing as we live in a musical singularity where every song ever recorded is simultaneously available on YouTube, I expect there are plenty of New York youths who have heard plenty of Byrne. I mean, I grew up in the 80s, and had no problem finding and listening to the Comedian Harmonists, and I expect Byrne is a lot more available and culturally relevant than those guys were.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:28 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just remember: to the older, wealthy people of New York, David Byrne means something, because he created some of the music of their youth. So when he talks about issues like this, they're more likely to listen than if the kids born between 1993 and 1995 talk about it. He's using his reputation/audience to give those kids a voice, albeit indirectly (and possibly thanklessly.) Nothing wrong with that.

Hey, I agree with you that there's nothing wrong with that, or with Byrne's article. I was responding to someone else's more cynical comment.

But wait -

Meanwhile, thre are people working to make it so young artists have heat, food, health care, and their interests represented at the negotiating table with the labels et cetera. Some of these fights are actually being won.

So, wait, why are you saying that Byrne's complaining about something "he can't fight"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:30 AM on December 5, 2013


Do you need to be cool with the kids to talk about economic and social issues that you feel are detrimental to your city?

Absolutely not, and on top of that, I totally agree with maybe 95% of what he has to say, and most of what I do not agree with I'm willing to defer to his authority because god knows he's done more for the city's art scene than I ever will. But it's this that bugs the shit out of me:
...there is no room for fresh creative types. Middle-class people can barely afford to live here anymore, so forget about emerging artists, musicians, actors, dancers, writers, journalists and small business people. Bit by bit, the resources that keep the city vibrant are being eliminated.
Not because it's necessarily wrong, but because it's simultaneously so fucking dire and myopic. The island of Manhattan is, basically, done. But it's only North Brooklyn that's going that way as well. There is music and art coming out from all over the goddamn place in the five boroughs, and he's looked at a borough and a half and given us gloom-and-doom. And that's really the same sort of rhetoric you get out of almost every "New York Is Done" monologue from 1970-present. Someone takes a look at the small part of NYC that they know, they see that it has changed, and they say that, no, that's it, game over, man, game over.

I'm a barely and just freshly middle-class person in NYC. There's room for us if you actually open your goddamn eyes. And half the problem is people say "oh, no, look at that Manhattan's booked and North Brooklyn is done so, I guess that's the whole city then!"

Coming out of someone who moved here ten minutes ago, that's nonsense. Out of David fucking Byrne it is just confounding and ridiculous.
posted by griphus at 10:32 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: full of people who absorb and absorb and have everything reduced to circular discourse. Has it always been this way?
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:34 AM on December 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I mean is my interpretation of what he said totally off base or something?
posted by griphus at 10:34 AM on December 5, 2013


So, wait, why are you saying that Byrne's complaining about something "he can't fight"?

Because there are battles he can fight. I've worked in a hedge fund. I've seen the mentality. If those people want to live in a particular zip code, they're going to.
posted by ocschwar at 10:35 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Harvard must have changed a lot since my college days. People I knew who went there said they hardly worked at all except during finals week.

I'm pretty sure that's also a humblebrag.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:43 AM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's room for us if you actually open your goddamn eyes. And half the problem is people say "oh, no, look at that Manhattan's booked and North Brooklyn is done so, I guess that's the whole city then!"

But I don't think that's the argument. Or at least, my argument is about people being pushed, moved, at the whim of another group of people that pretends to cherish the class that's moving. We wouldn't say the same thing to gentrification, would we?
"Well, listen, I know you used to live in the East Village, but there are a lot of great places in Bed-Stuy!"
"Well, listen, I know you used to live in Bed-Stuy, but there's a lot of great places to live in East New York, too!"
"Well, listen, I know you used to live in East New York, but outer Queens can be really nice!"

I know some people who moved to Bushwick more than a decade ago, and spent a lot of time fixing up shitty, warehouse spaces. Now they find themselves in the middle of that world, and rents are steadily growing higher, to their total horror. What to do? To move again? All because the mega-rich, and then the rich want luxury condos in Manhattan and go out for an evening stroll in the cultural capital of the US -- while simultaneously snuffing out those same artists, producers, and 'creative class' that actually produced/made things in the first place?

I want my friends in the Bronx, in Inwood, in Forest Hills, etc. to continue to make and produce things. The worry I have is that the wave of NYC cultural-capital-consumption-culture + real-estate marketing efforts will glom on to any successful/interesting group of producers and transmute it into a shell of itself, as it happened in Soho, and in Chelsea, and in Williamsburg, and as it is happening in Bushwick, and onwards..
posted by suedehead at 10:48 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


But who is Byrne to them?

I don't understand this. Someone born in 1994 can't listen to music made in the 1980s? I was born in 1984 and listen to The Beatles and Velvet Underground and Led Zeppelin and Cream (and Talking Heads!), and I'm not even a musician. I think there's a pretty good chance those kids out there in Bushwick are at least vaguely familiar with who David Byrne is - probably not all, but I'm sure a large-enough number.

Is David Byrne as culturally relevant as he was 30 years ago? Of course not. Is he cutting-edge anymore, at all? No way. But that doesn't make him a cultural nobody.
posted by breakin' the law at 10:48 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


David Byrne had nothing to do with Tom Tom Club. But what do the hip whippersnapper bands know of Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, except maybe via a Gorillaz album handed to them by an assistant professor and info on that via the Internet? How was it that I came to listen to Xavier Cugat and The Who at various points last night? I was born in the '60s!
posted by raysmj at 10:49 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


David Byrne had nothing to do with Tom Tom Club.

He wasn't in the band, but when your entire band forms a second band with all the members except you, it does have something to do with you.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:59 AM on December 5, 2013 [13 favorites]


I imagine at this point David has lasted through a few iteration of culturally relivant, so is he at the peak of relivancy? No, but he'll still be there, and still be interesting long past many others peak and fade. That is more interesting to me then someone with one or two ideas.
Indeed the whole notion of 'culturally relevant' is mildly obnoxious to me.
posted by edgeways at 11:01 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


If only something could be done about those ultrarich parasites stealing our kidneys and futures. Sigh.
posted by benzenedream at 11:06 AM on December 5, 2013


I think I've said this before, but: I was given Byrne's Bicycle Diaries as a gift, and, expecting it to be self-satisfied bilge, grudgingly scanned the first chapter. It was pretty good! The whole book is pretty neat. He's not an earth-shattering, paradigm-upending Public Intellectual, but he is non-stupid, and has some interesting perspectives on urban life, informed by years of life and work in a lot of different cities.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 11:12 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I will add that his ideas in the book that are bilge were fun, too, because his tone is so conversational that they only made me want to be drinking a beer with him so I could cheerfully call this or that idea out as utter bilge.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 11:15 AM on December 5, 2013


The worry I have is that the wave of NYC cultural-capital-consumption-culture + real-estate marketing efforts will glom on to any successful/interesting group of producers and transmute it into a shell of itself, as it happened in Soho, and in Chelsea, and in Williamsburg, and as it is happening in Bushwick, and onwards..

Same as it ever was.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:21 AM on December 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


What this city needs is more poor immigrants so I can feel more authentic as I create my bourgeois art.
posted by ChuckRamone at 11:26 AM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I hadn't realized that the Compass Point All Stars were David Byrne's backing band.
posted by raysmj at 11:29 AM on December 5, 2013


OK, this started making a lot more sense when I stopped misreading David Byrne as David Brin. Carry on.
posted by Canageek at 11:30 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


What this city needs is more poor immigrants so I can feel more authentic as I create my bourgeois art.

This is actually quite an uncharitable mis-reading of what he was trying to say.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:42 AM on December 5, 2013



I think I've said this before, but: I was given Byrne's Bicycle Diaries as a gift, and, expecting it to be self-satisfied bilge, grudgingly scanned the first chapter. It was pretty good!


I'm reading it right now, and agre it is definitely a worthy read.

And a year ago I saw him cycling through Copley Square en route to (probably) the South End in Boston.
posted by ocschwar at 11:46 AM on December 5, 2013


This is actually quite an uncharitable mis-reading of what he was trying to say.

I was being glib. I respect that he's someone who's made it but hasn't forgotten the creative class out of which he arose. Seems as if he's mostly advocating for a different cultural environment - i.e., more middle class folks, lots of youthful energy - but without the associated crime and bleakness of 70s and 80s New York. It's hard to have it both ways though, unless American urban dynamics fundamentally change from being either strip mall-esque and rich or ghetto and poor. With money pouring into a city, there is usually a change in the culture toward a soulless landscape full of rich people shopping for crap and getting their kicks in tasteless ways. Maybe Portland, OR is an exception to this, though I suspect Byrne would find it not sufficiently frenetic. New York will probably never again have the same dynamic in which his particular brand of art was created - a brand of art mostly created and consumed by a bourgeois class of people.
posted by ChuckRamone at 11:54 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


David Byrne is a rarity and a goddam treasure. Someone who has cred and isn't a raving egomaniac, who is genuine and speaks the plain truth as they see it, and who actually cares about art, culture, diversity, and social equality.

And in this case he's right. NYC is changing, rapidly. It is becoming less diverse, less artistic, more economically polarized and harder to get by in. The reason everyone loves NYC is it's soul, and that soul was largely forged by people who brought their diversity and creativity to the city -- not to just to make/spend a buck and eat $20 cheezburgers. It is that soul that is at stake.

That poor, ethnic, and creative people can still exist on the margins of NYC isn't enough. They should be a part of all its communities, and not have to vacate them after the streets become safe. They shouldn't have to take a two hour commute to make you a sandwich or live in Jersey or Pittsburgh to create art. In order for this to be a possibility in the future these people will likely need some kind of protection. There used to be something called rent control that served this purpose, but that was before the city killed it and sold Co-Op City to the fatcats who turned it into luxury condos. That's the future of NYC -- and pretty much anywhere people really want to live -- right there: It will be sold to the highest bidders. Regular folks will be pushed out, something will be lost.

Love or hate the man, his music or his tone I don't see what is so controversial about Byrne's argument. To be vibrant, alive, and interesting a city must be diverse and culturally stimulating. Why wouldn't any thinking person who gives a damn not want these things?

PS: Bikesnob NYC isn't worth your cheezburger breath.
posted by nowhere man at 12:41 PM on December 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


He could always move to Des Moines.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 1:04 PM on December 5, 2013


Well, there are 16 people in Danny’s apartment
16 people are living in there
Remember the days of rent control
Grandpa remembers rock and roll

These days won’t last forever
These days won’t last for long
You know, somebody somewhere owes us a favor
That’s how things really get done
In this World of Opportunities, it’s a Land of Possibilities

We wanna live in a dirty old town
Building it up, tearing us down

posted by Tom-B at 1:07 PM on December 5, 2013


Des Moines is the Seattle of the Midwest. He'd be better placed in Northeast Minneapolis, the Brooklyn of the Midwest. In the meanwhile, here I am in Omaha, the Austin of the 1950s of the Midwest.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:08 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


pffft everyone knows Denver is the next Bob Dylan.
.
.
.
damnit! I did that wrong



But yeah NE Minneapolis might be a good fit. Just as long as he keeps his zipper up he should be fine.
posted by edgeways at 1:39 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's just a good general rule for life.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:51 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The New York creative arts industry is a pretty weird one, since it seems principally concerned with creating art about New York. There's other things to talk about.
posted by turbid dahlia at 1:55 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


And if you're thinking "California", no. Red Hot Chilli Peppers have California covered.
posted by turbid dahlia at 1:55 PM on December 5, 2013


I'm not sure why that matters. Do you need to be cool with the kids to talk about economic and social issues that you feel are detrimental to your city?

posted by the jam at 10:16 AM on December 5 [1 favorite +] [!]

Eponysterical!
posted by gorbichov at 2:21 PM on December 5, 2013


David Byrne had nothing to do with Tom Tom Club.

He wasn't in the band, but when your entire band forms a second band with all the members except you, it does have something to do with you.


I had the impression that the TTC was more about Tina's artistic ambitions rather than merely a slight against David's personality. If you believe Adrian Belew's perspective on that band, then Tina wasn't quite the perfect benevolent bandleader either.
posted by ovvl at 2:22 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'll take the Met over living artists
posted by knoyers at 8:48 PM on December 5, 2013


Half of Talking Heads, the half that was married to each other, formed Tom Tom Club. Jerry Harrison did his own thing.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 9:57 PM on December 5, 2013


If you do not like David Byrne or Talking Heads, I want all my things back and don't call me anymore.
posted by rough at 12:25 PM on December 6, 2013


I'll take the Met over living artists

The Met includes works by living artists, doofus.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:37 PM on December 6, 2013


There is a possibility he was talking about Methylethyltryptamine, a psychedelic tryptamine.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:42 PM on December 6, 2013


And that he literally wanted to be on top of a living artist when he took it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:44 PM on December 6, 2013


I know that the Met includes work by living artists (although that's not its focus). I meant that if I had to choose between having collections like the Metropolitan Museum's or a contemporary art scene, I would definitely choose the former for my city.
posted by knoyers at 2:25 PM on December 6, 2013


But such a choice actually isn't necessary, that's kind of the point of the article.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:57 PM on December 6, 2013


I think David Byrne is more or less correct--this is a question has been on my mind or many years, as Manhattan has seemed to turn from something interesting, connected to the 1960's and 70's into an island of bland and predictable for the young-stupid and/or rich.

I's always hard to know how much of this impression is a function of getting older, and having experienced more and more, and less and less seems and feel new.

Paris is similarly dead, and I suspect the clean bright and cheery cites in Europe aren't better, and probably worse on the creativity/energy level CBCGs is now a Duane Reade!

Manhattan has been, essentially creatively dead for at least 10-15 years. Brooklyn and Queens may not be, but interesting immigrant nabes aren't the same thing as a creative, vibrant city.

What happened? At least for Manhattan, part of the problem is that it has become place that's toxic for the entrepreneur.

But maybe the problem is that cities, ALL cities are dying because the computer and internet have sapped their raison d'être?
posted by NiceParisParamus at 4:52 PM on December 6, 2013


One of Brooklyn's best restaurants, Saul recently left Cobble Hill and took up residence in the Brooklyn Museum. This symbolically saddened me
posted by NiceParisParamus at 4:57 PM on December 6, 2013


« Older Mouses Houses 'Pictures from my own private mousel...  |  Monster Of The Week (previousl... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments