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August 14, 2009 8:05 AM   Subscribe

Dolphin-headed artist Nate Hill has riled his Brooklyn neighbors by delivering bags of candy crack in the wee hours, just like a real drug dealer (he has moved on from giving FREE BOUNCY RIDES).
posted by hermitosis (76 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
"It's irresponsible just to assume that young people can make the difference and get the act," Wadalavage said.

He shows up at midnight wearing a dolphin head. Even young people can "make the difference", grandpa.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 8:13 AM on August 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


They never mentioned why one arm is black and one is white in the picture, or am I seeing things? Is he blacking up his right arm (or whiting up his left)?
posted by Falconetti at 8:14 AM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


If young people can't tell the difference between crack and candy, we may be overestimating the problem crack presents. Or underestimating the candy problem.

So...what's the explanation for his arm colors?
posted by DU at 8:16 AM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I took a video on the L train a month or so ago of this INCREDIBLE lady dancing to a bongo/cabasa/trumpet band at the Union Square stop. And as it turns out, Mister Hill was sitting there, totally unrelated to the band. It made this "only-in-New-York" moment that I hope I never, ever forget. Totally worth the high rents and taxes. Link here if you don't mind the self-post. Seemed relevant, anyway.
posted by chinese_fashion at 8:16 AM on August 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


They never mentioned why one arm is black and one is white in the picture, or am I seeing things? Is he blacking up his right arm (or whiting up his left)?

I don't know but it's really creepy. Even considering that he's a grown man delivering fake crack whilst wearing a dolphin head.
posted by cmonkey at 8:18 AM on August 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


Re: arm colors. It could very well be intentional, but I doubt it, pigment variation is normal.
posted by idiopath at 8:19 AM on August 14, 2009


The dark arm is a tattoo. I always figured he had something embarassing tattooed on his arm when he was younger, and got the full black tattoo to cover it up, but who knows? I ain't ever asked him about it.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:20 AM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Every other Saturday night, Nate Hill delivers $1 bags of "crack" - really crystallized sugar - to anyone in Williamsburg and Greenpoint who calls in an order.

I had no idea anyone but hipsters resided in Williamsburg. At least, that's what the internet has taught me.

Dressed in a white tuxedo and a white dolphin headpiece, he shows up between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., just like a many real drug pushers.

Which part is "just like many real drug pushers"? All of that? Because that would make people in dolphin headpieces an easy target for cops.

The cops are aware of Hill's deliveries, but aren't worried about them.

"People have seen him around," said one police source. "It's just candy. Unfortunately, being criminally stupid is not illegal."


Wow. Criminally stupid is praise for wacky humor based around drug peddling. Is this now the high art of street performances?
posted by filthy light thief at 8:21 AM on August 14, 2009


Unfortunately, being criminally stupid is not illegal.

Not yet, amirite Officer?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:23 AM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was trying to figure out the arm thing as well, and after doing a google image search, I think it might be some really, really dense sleeve tattoo of his: notice the break on his right wrist just below the glove.
posted by piratebowling at 8:25 AM on August 14, 2009


My initial reaction was that this guy was a bit of a twat, but from reading the article it seems he is actually a subtle act to draw out the real twats in his community and get them to publish their names and affiliations through a local news outlet.
posted by biffa at 8:26 AM on August 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


Finally, something for the candy-cigarette generation to be legitimately outraged about!
posted by mudpuppie at 8:26 AM on August 14, 2009


...or what gregnog said.
posted by piratebowling at 8:26 AM on August 14, 2009


Never discount your first impressions I reckon, biffa.
posted by Abiezer at 8:28 AM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


...by delivering bags of candy crack in the wee hours, just like a real drug dealer.

Drug dealers have giant dolphin heads? That must make them easy to spot.
posted by rokusan at 8:28 AM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Treading that fine line, right Mr. Tufnel?
posted by punkfloyd at 8:29 AM on August 14, 2009


I like it, too bad he only delivers to those areas, our neighbors who hang on our stoop would get a kick out of this
posted by kathrineg at 8:31 AM on August 14, 2009


JEEZ PEOPLE!! What can a hipster do?? You don't like them in their skinny jeans and you got problems with the white tuxedo, dolphin head, and two different color arms too.
posted by applemeat at 8:31 AM on August 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


Drug dealers have giant dolphin heads? That must make them easy to spot.

I can't tell you the number of times I've tried to buy drugs off of some dude with a huge cetacean head, only to have him angrily inform me that he's a porpoise, not a dolphin; it's usually followed with "What, we all look alike to you?" and then I end up stammering about Sorry, man, some of my best friends are narwhals, sorry, fuck, you got to understand I've had a lot to drink tonight.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:32 AM on August 14, 2009 [43 favorites]


What nobody's mentioned yet is how, by doing this, he's lampooning crack and other drugs by showing them to be just as silly as midnight sugar deliveries in a dolphin head.
posted by scrowdid at 8:32 AM on August 14, 2009


I don't know much about art, but I know this guy doesn't match my couch.

Seriously, what exactly is he trying to say with this? I never know how deep I'm supposed to be looking, with performance art.
posted by padraigin at 8:35 AM on August 14, 2009


Is there anything that can't be justified by calling yourself a "performance artist"?
posted by rocket88 at 8:35 AM on August 14, 2009


Pigment variation is normal. That, however, is so not very normal. Quite the statistical outlier. That might be the point; he might have a very stupid tattoo, covered up in an attention-getting manner, which makes me wonder just what it was he had on there, were that the case.

I think this guy will probably get shot or beaten up, which I believe is the stupid part. On the other hand, I do like a bit of chaos introduced by doing nothing more harmful than actions which outside of the "accepted practice." I will admit to doing some oddball things myself.

The kind of tolerance and respect for diversity I would like to see comes not from audits of appropriate characters and gently smothering lectures about how we should all be friends, but the ability to walk down the street in, say, a giant bloody fetus costume, and not have rocks thrown at you. Stunts (and this is a stunt) like this can improve the ability of onlookers to not react. I want a world where, rather than reaching for the cuffs or getting a Moment of Outrage in for the local papers, someone sees this guy and says, "Hunh, that's new," then goes back to reading the paper.
posted by adipocere at 8:36 AM on August 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


Wouldn't criminally stupid be illegal? I mean, by definition?
posted by Shepherd at 8:36 AM on August 14, 2009 [8 favorites]


...or he's making a statement about sugar and its role as a "drug" in our society.
posted by hippybear at 8:36 AM on August 14, 2009


I've never heard of this dolphin-headed person before, so I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. Could it be that by delivering "candy crack" while dressed as a rejected Sea World mascot he's drawing attention to a problem that's been so mismanaged by law enforcement and lawmakers that it's become commonplace and un-newsworthy? Perhaps he's approached this from the angle of "Maybe if I 'deal' fake drugs in a dolphin-suit somebody will report on it and the real issue of drug dealing will get some fresh attention?"

On the other hand, the FREE BOUNCY RIDES link seems to lend credence to the asshattery theory.
posted by philotes at 8:38 AM on August 14, 2009


Seriously, what exactly is he trying to say with this?

Well, he got this conversation started. It sure exposed a rift in the "people should be allowed to do funny things" vs "people should NOT be allowed to do funny things" communities.
posted by DU at 8:42 AM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


So, uh, how much is he actually making on selling the candy?
posted by odinsdream at 8:42 AM on August 14, 2009


Try to think of this from the perspective of people who've lived in williamsburg all their lives, seen some serious shit (williamsburg was until recently the among poorest sections of brooklyn), and then suddenly have these privileged, know-nothing, rich kids move in and start mocking something that had torn their families apart in the 80s and 90s. This one example is a symptom of a larger wave of douchebaggery that can be summed up by "well, we went to NYU for socio-cultural studies and understand the nature of this parody, so it's OK when we do it."

Also, my roommate and I went up to williamsburg for the bouncy rides, expecting those large inflatable moon bounce things you find at children's parties and county fairs, and instead saw a bunch of dudes in furry suits. We immediately went home.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:42 AM on August 14, 2009 [14 favorites]


This is all well and good until Omar shows up in a walrus mask and Elvis costume.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:43 AM on August 14, 2009 [12 favorites]


Supercool is so addictive.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:43 AM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Stunts (and this is a stunt) like this can improve the ability of onlookers to not react. I want a world where, rather than reaching for the cuffs or getting a Moment of Outrage in for the local papers, someone sees this guy and says, "Hunh, that's new," then goes back to reading the paper.

Because what we need here in New York is more disinterested, apathetic bystanders.

Seriously though, I wouldn't expect a "performance artist" to want people jaded to the point that unusual shit doesn't faze them. Because then who'd pay attention to their schtick?
posted by JaredSeth at 8:45 AM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think this guy will probably get shot or beaten up, which I believe is the stupid part.

I highly doubt it.
posted by kathrineg at 8:49 AM on August 14, 2009


We immediately went home

Good. The less audience the wankers have the sooner the rest of us will be able to get back to enjoying McCarren Park.
posted by spicynuts at 8:54 AM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Really? You would enjoy McCarren Park less if some dude in a dolphin costume was wandering around? If some furry wanders by quietly, do you find yourself growing enraged or sad or irritated? Why? Do the soccer players have this effect on you, too? How do you feel about the farmer's market stands?
posted by Greg Nog at 9:04 AM on August 14, 2009 [8 favorites]


I think this guy will probably get shot or beaten up

Oh please Jesus.
posted by rokusan at 9:04 AM on August 14, 2009


I think there is room for more tolerance here, but I don't think the giant bloody fetuses are the ones most in need.

I think this would be cooler if he were selling faux demerol to people on the UES, though
posted by kathrineg at 9:06 AM on August 14, 2009


a beekeeper for a genetics lab by day

While I can accept the fact that a dude in Brooklyn makes midnight candy deliveries in some weird costume, I find this much more difficult to believe
posted by exogenous at 9:07 AM on August 14, 2009


Metafilter hating on hipsters got old faster than hipsters themselves.

It's like a trucker hat for the blue.
posted by srboisvert at 9:09 AM on August 14, 2009 [9 favorites]


So, uh, how much is he actually making on selling the candy?
Not much; I bet he still has to live with his mom.
posted by pointystick at 9:11 AM on August 14, 2009


riling neighborhood activists who don't think illegal narcotics are a laughing matter.


I love that, like 40-50 years after illegal drug culture entered the mainstream, there are still people square (and ignorant of science) enough to refer to every drug as a "narcotic," even when its effects are the complete and total opposite.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:13 AM on August 14, 2009


He really ought to make the deliveries while riding a fixie.
posted by exogenous at 9:13 AM on August 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Noooo, he needs a unicycle with a big ol' boombox
posted by kathrineg at 9:14 AM on August 14, 2009


LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:18 AM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I also expect (though not with any joy) that he will get beaten down by street hoodlums.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:22 AM on August 14, 2009


the rest of us will be able to get back to enjoying McCarren Park.

From 10 pm to 2 am?

Also, I'd like to know how many haterz opinions change once they realize he's black (and not really a dolphin).
posted by DU at 9:23 AM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


He's not wearing a "white tuxedo" like the article states. He's dressed as an old fashioned ice cream man. This is a terrible article!
posted by Biblio at 9:25 AM on August 14, 2009


Who are these street hoodlums who regularly go around beating people up? Is this some sort of weird fantasy "street justice" for annoying people that I've never heard of? Do "hoodlums" who live in Williamsburg and Greenpoint regularly commit violence against performance artists?
posted by kathrineg at 9:28 AM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, he probably got the idea while watching Chris Morris try to buy drugs while dressed in a diaper and balloon hat in the "Drugs" episode of "Brass Eye." But he would probably deny having seen it if asked.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:32 AM on August 14, 2009


I'm gonna start a gang of performance artists whose art is to beat up other performance artists. You think I could get a grant for that?
posted by Jon_Evil at 9:32 AM on August 14, 2009


If he were smart he'd actually sell crack, and use this as a cover.
posted by elwoodwiles at 9:35 AM on August 14, 2009


Ah, the first step in my plan to field an army of drug dealers in animal heads has come to fruition. The fools don't suspect a thing!
posted by InfidelZombie at 9:36 AM on August 14, 2009


Yes, there are hoodlums lurking everywhere and eager to issue beatdowns at the first sign of any aberrant behavior.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:39 AM on August 14, 2009


I'm gonna start a gang of performance artists whose art is to beat up other performance artists. You think I could get a grant for that?

No. A mime is a terrible thing to waste.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 9:41 AM on August 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


"being criminally stupid is not illegal." "... that needed to be said one more time... 'cuz, if it was, half of us here would be arrested...

The whole concept of "Performance Art" when it is imposed on people who didn't request it, is annoying...
posted by HuronBob at 9:48 AM on August 14, 2009


I am pretty sure the thing behind the threats of random beatings by strangers is fear. Someone imagines doing what this guy is doing and the idea scares them.

Sure, a performance artist, by definition wants your attention. As do advertisers, musicians, painters, authors. The attention of masses of strangers is a pretty hot commodity, with lots of folks vying for it. The issue shouldn't be that fact that they want attention, but, rather, what they try to do with it once they have it.

Criticizing a performance artist for wanting attention is like criticizing someone who puts up a personals ad for wanting love. Not only does it go with the territory, but it is pretty much something everyone wants, whether they are willing to wear their heart on their sleeve about it or not.

On an instinctive, animal level, maybe it is natural to fear and hate anyone that behaves or dresses in a manner you find unusual. Part of being a well socialized human being is recognizing when our instincts are unhelpful or harmful. In a city where a man can walk around dressed up as a dolphin, you could also probably dress in a burqa, or a habit, or overalls, no shirt, bare feet, and a straw hat, if you felt like it.
posted by idiopath at 9:49 AM on August 14, 2009 [10 favorites]


I doubt this guy will get “his ass kicked.” Reactions to weird shit in NYC seem to be along the lines of a 13 year old coming up asking a direct question getting a response and then wandering off or just plain ignoring the weird. It seems like this guys point might be that drug activity is so blatant and tolerated that if he wanted to he could walk around in a dolphin suit selling drugs. Here’s Nate’s announcement of the service and his take on it. Which isn’t super deep but it shows that he thought about it a little, which was puzzling me.
posted by edbles at 9:52 AM on August 14, 2009


maybe it is natural to fear and hate anyone that behaves or dresses in a manner you find unusual.

It's actually pretty funny to deliver fake crack while wearing a mascot head. If you do it once. If it's your hobby and you label it "art," it crosses over to "pretentious" amongst other things.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:55 AM on August 14, 2009


Mayor Curley: He is only pretending to be a dolphin? He is only pretending it is art? What is the pretense you are criticizing him for? Humans invent things and pretend to be things all the time, it is called culture.
posted by idiopath at 10:01 AM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


New York...best city on earth...there's free bouncy rides on the subway, and you can even get crack delivered to you house by a dolphin.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:07 AM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Humans invent things and pretend to be things all the time, it is called culture.

And this, friends, is one of the pratfalls of relativism.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:10 AM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Huh. I went up to a meetup for Club Animals a while ago and thought it was a cute idea - dressing up as mascots randomly and for no reason. But in practice it was just hanging out and looking funny and without the reason was kind of lame feeling. I guess he's looking for something more interesting to do with the mascotting than just hanging around. I'm kind of "meh" about buying candy late at night in costume, but if he has fun and people are ordering it, I see no problem with it. Just one more service of tons of services that you can get in NYC.

Maybe I've been living here too long but I honestly don't see the controversy in his costume, or in delivering candy at odd hours. It seems kind of cute and sweet - though I had to laugh at the fixie comment because it does strike as a little "look at me, I'm doing something COOL OVER HERE" as in riding a fixie (ouch you just killed your knees, but yeah it's totally lighter and you can stop awesome and the lines are real pretty and you didn't need those knees anyway wow you look cool let's make a baby!).

What I can relate to is people being offended by someone selling fake crack. Crack is considered funny by a lot of people I think (this started for me back in the day with In Living Color and I see the "oh hillarious, it's CRACK!" thing as being pretty popular) and I can understand people outside of those groups thinking "my god, doesn't this guy understand that crack is a serious problem? Wtf." On the other hand, suicide, terrorism, and many other awful things are serious problems and we make light of them in society generally too (and to the offense of many). So I don't think he needs to be shot down for the crack element, either, even though it might be a offensive/shocking to some people, and I can relate to that sense of offense and think it's genuine and could be a real concern (though not enough of one to prevent him and tons of other people from making light of crack).

I also kind of get that he might be trying to form a modern, warm-and-fuzzy version of NYC. Like an alternate reality city to parody the awfulness and danger of the place years ago. To make people even more comfortable and at home here. To make it clear that stuff happening late at night and that's strange isn't necessarily dangerous - even when elements, like the candy-crack, appear so. Maybe his idea of wanting people to be more apathetic is related to this friendlier alterna-NYC - geared toward people just not being afraid of something different (and making the city feel friendlier and lighter), rather than not noticing it at all.
posted by lorrer at 10:30 AM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is fucking stupid. If he was delivering lolipops at 2 AM, okay, cool, whatever. But Williamsburg is not all white trustfund hipster dudes. Large portions of this community are still unrepresented, underserved latinos and blacks and Crack is a serious epidemic, still. It's not funny.

If Mr. Hill was attempting some kind of genuine theater, there'd be an element of satire involved. Instead he seems to have mistaken being WEIRD AND RANDOM for being A SERIOUS CRITIQUE OF SOCIETY.

It's not funny and it's not especially clever, so what's his deal? Would we think it was funny if Mr Hill was walking around delivering cherry-juice filled syringes as "AIDS BLOOD FILLED NEEDLES LOL"? I doubt it. So why does this get a pass? Just because Crack isn't a problem in 'nice' WIlliamsburg doesn't mean it's ha-ha funny everywhere.
posted by GilloD at 11:07 AM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


On an instinctive, animal level, maybe it is natural to fear and hate anyone that behaves or dresses in a manner you find unusual.

Conversely, those of us who did learn as children to differentiate "good attention" from "bad attention" can find adults whose behavior hints that they learned no such distinction to be either annoying or laughable depending on our mood. Even when we do not in the slightest fear or hate them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:06 PM on August 14, 2009


I can appreciate the "silly stunt disguised as performance art" aspect of it. I know a few people who started out in the same vein. Had an idea that they wanted to get across creatively, but didnt really have the discipline or ability to do much more than attention grabbing silly pranks. Only to graduate to deeper much more thought out and meaningful art as they gained insight and experience.

The crack aspect of it bugs the shit out of me. Crack is instant shorthand for "ghetto drug" and it's just way too easy to pretend to be above it all. Meanwhile the whole delivery to Williamsburg parties thing has nothing to do with crack. No one delivers crack. It's a cocaine thing. And while he's doing his silly pantomime, there are plenty of real coke dealers delivering real cocaine to those very parties.

If he dressed like a Dolphin and "O'ded" on candy heroin in the bathroom of someone's loft, I'm guessing his audience wouldn't be as amused.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:36 PM on August 14, 2009


And while he's doing his silly pantomime, there are plenty of real coke dealers delivering real cocaine to those very parties.

Yes yes, we've already established that the cash-generating aspect of his business is suboptimal.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:39 PM on August 14, 2009


If he dressed like a Dolphin and "O'ded" on candy heroin in the bathroom of someone's loft, I'm guessing his audience wouldn't be as amused.

My point exactlt. It's only funny because "crack" is White-people shorthand for "haha drugs". Meanwhile, a large portion of Williamsburg is still projects and low-income housing and is still being ravaged by actual crack use. So, not funny just because it's so blaringly tone-deaf
posted by GilloD at 1:21 PM on August 14, 2009


It's not funny and it's not especially clever, so what's his deal? Would we think it was funny if Mr Hill was walking around delivering cherry-juice filled syringes as "AIDS BLOOD FILLED NEEDLES LOL"? I doubt it. So why does this get a pass? Just because Crack isn't a problem in 'nice' WIlliamsburg doesn't mean it's ha-ha funny everywhere.

It occurs to me that maybe his goal isn't to be "funny" at all. Maybe before second-guessing what he's trying to do and assuming he's a comedian of sorts, we should also consider the possibility that maybe by hyperbolically using "crack" in this way he's drawing attention to a serious drug problem that's taken a back seat in recent years even as it continues to ravage the poorer neighborhoods. As a for instance. Just saying, there are other possiblities to consider before we all caps rage.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:56 PM on August 14, 2009


It's interesting when you talk about a real crack problem. The real problems there seem hidden by the carnival, young-white-rich media idealization of Williamsburg. Meanwhile, poor

This guy is dressing up as a hipster and delivering "crack" but if you just saw him on the street you'd never think of crack, you'd never think about the real crack problem that exists, you'd just say "hey, one more hipster douchebag".

Is he a symbol for the fashionable mask on the real problems of the neighborhood?
posted by kathrineg at 2:29 PM on August 14, 2009


You can mentally cross out the obvious sentence fragment in that post, thanks
posted by kathrineg at 2:31 PM on August 14, 2009


...but I want that sentence fragment completed! It was the start of a statement, obviously of quality. *sigh*
posted by hippybear at 2:46 PM on August 14, 2009


I want it completed too, sadly I have no idea wtf I was going to say.
posted by kathrineg at 2:51 PM on August 14, 2009


Hey, remember that post from the other day about weird taxidermy? Some of that taxidermy was done by Nate Hill. He is also rewriting the Bible to star himself.

From what I see of his work, he doesn't want to be laughed at as much as he wants to offend and irritate. Who has the right to tell an artist that his art can't be about crack? Yeah, crack is a scourge, particularly in the black community. All the more reason to make art about it. When you want need something to change, sometimes pissing people off is the best way to make that happen.
posted by idiopath at 3:11 PM on August 14, 2009


He's a complete wanker. But if we went round punching every wanker we'd just end up with very bruised knuckles, and no spare time.
posted by Coobeastie at 5:26 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


People have no imagination. None. It's sad.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 1:53 AM on August 15, 2009


This guy is no Remi Gaillard.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:14 AM on August 15, 2009


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