Scott Turner - a Human Response to the Greed of Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn

Thank you Scott for your heartfelt thoughts, always seeing a light, when it feels dark.

November 26, 2009

Thankful for what? Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, that's what.

Rocky Sullivan Report
Here's Scott Turner's commentary on this week's events, from his Rocky Sullivan Pub Quizemail, published in full. [Press conference after yesterday's court decision. Photo by the excellent Tracy Collins.]
Something happened yesterday, though, that made me wanna throw myself into the brackish, mawkish pond of Thanksgiving thankfulivities.
Dan Goldstein, Freddy's Bar and other homeowners and residents lost their big eminent domain case. They'd gone to court to stop Bruce Ratner and the state's development agency, the ESDC, from taking their homes, businesses and properties so that Ratner can build the vile Atlantic Yards colossus.
By a 6-1 decision, the court washed its hands of the matter, saying it couldn't get involved in the affairs of a state agency. By that logic, they would refuse to order election commissions to let Black people vote, marriage license departments to allow mixed-race marriages, and school districts to integrate.
More to the point, if the Court of Appeals were King Solomon, it would've gone like this: "Hmmm...okay. Each of you chicks says you're the momma to this baby. Okay, first, I dunno if I'm the right guy to decide this. Second...hmmm....okay, you know what? I can't really get involved. Get out of my palace."
The one dissenting judge, Robert Smith, had harsh words for his colleagues on the bench:
[T]he majority is much too deferential to the self-serving determination by Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) that petitioners live in a "blighted" area, and are accordingly subject to having their homes seized and turned over to a private developer.
...It is clear to me from the record that the elimination of blight, in the sense of substandard and unsanitary conditions that present a danger to public safety, was never the bona fide purpose of the development at issue in this case.
Another battle lost, but is the war over? Not by a long shot. Ratner has to sell $700 million in bonds by the end of the year, and there are at least four lawsuits -- and possibly more -- between him and getting the project started. All of the grandiose affordable-housing and new-jobs promises are now distant echoes, having fulfilled their one raison d'etre -- to flim-flam elected officials and people desperate for housing and work -- to support the project. It's the same model as Ratner's hitting the eject button on the Nets basketball team -- it too having fulfilled its role as a feel-good nostalgia seduction.
Oh...and that basketball team of his is now 0-14.
Besides the immediacy of the court decision, what does this have to do with the giving of thanks?
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, that's what.
The group came together not long after Ratner's plans were announced in late 2003. The first DDDB event was a rally on Pacific Street, in front of Goldstein's building at what would be center court of the Nets' arena -- or rather, Barclays' arena, named for a bank involved with the slave trade, apartheid, Nazi occupation in France, the Congolese civil war and Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe. Just what Brooklyn needs.
From there, DDDB has done everything it can to stop Ratner's arrogance, architect Frank Gehry's self-absorbed dismissiveness, Mayor Bloomberg's bullying, Boro Prez Markowitz's childish cartoon pronouncements, Governors Pataki's/Spitzer's/Paterson's embrace of neighborhood decimation, and the state's wanton disregard for anyone who would question what their government is up to.
DDDB's primary goal is not to stop the Atlantic Yards. Rather, it's to develop the Vanderbilt Railyards with truly affordable scale with the neighborhood...emphasizing small businesses and not Ratner's model of big box-stores...with open-to-all public eminent domain...none of the public money Ratner wants for his private for-profit arena and skyscrapers...truly green...and without wielding the dagger Ratner has plunged into Brooklyn's heart these last six years.
DDDB is not without its faults. To wage a political struggle faultlessly is Stepford to the core. That, and it never having happened in the history of humankind. Political strugglers make mistakes.
DDDB, though, has done done a good job because we haven't sunk to Ratner's and Bloomberg's level. We don't lie. We don't make things up. We don't play dirty tricks. We don't rip people off. We don't set fire to the dry tinder that is Brooklyn's racial and class divisions. We don't embrace the language of condescension.
Instead, we've always tried hard and played fair. We might not win. Brooklyn might not win. Perhaps, if we lose, some will say that DDDB should've played hardball.
See, it's that kind of macho crap that's gotten us into this mess in the first place. It gets us into messes all over the world. Machiavellian principles have ruined too many lives, burned too many cities to the ground, and soured the enzymes that give us life.
I've grown to love the people I work with at DDDB. It's the best campaign I've ever been a part of, and I've worked on "causes" since the early '80s. If a struggle loses sight of the humanity of the cause, it will fail. Even if, on paper, it wins. Ratner, Bloomberg, Markowitz and the others had no use for treating people kindly, right from the outset.
The abandonment of kindness isn't limited to the Ratner's key consortium players. A lot of good people in the Atlantic Yards conflagration can't tell night from day. A man like Michael Ratner, Bruce's brother, the radical progressive lawyer whose career has been about fighting the power, has lost his humanity. He has ethical blood on his hands for assisting his brother's taking of peoples homes and lives for the Atlantic Yards boondoggle. The Atlantic Yards' malfeasance is the kind he'd be in court battling against -- racism, classism, government playing rough with its populace. Yet Michael Ratner has been silent about in his own family's terrible behavior. Cross Michael Ratner off the list of good guys.
["But Michael Ratner's done such good!" you might respond. Sure, but but Justice is a 24/7 thing, and you can't be selective about it -- especially if it means your working dynamic becomes blood is thicker than ethics.]
David Sheets and Daniel Goldstein, two of the plaintiffs in Goldstein, et al. v. New York State Urban Development Corporation. Photo by Tracy Collins
DDDB and all the others groups and citizens fighting the Ratner development have a long way to go. That's because of the width and breadth of the issue -- overdevelopment and the very notion of who gets a say in their community's progress.
If Ratner is successful, it's an ominous moment at the end of the new century's first decade. At this juncture, communities, individuals, working-class people, people of color, immigrants and the wide range of traditionally-screwed groups should be gaining empowerment -- not drunk-on-power despots like Michael Bloomberg and wealthy scions like Bruce Ratner.
It just means, as always, that people need to come together and put an end to this bass-ackwards way of life.
This Thanksgiving, I'm grateful for the friends I've made in DDDB -- none of whom I knew before Ratner pushed his way into our lives uninvited six years ago. They're good people. Really good people, who know the difference between fighting and cheating. There's not a Thierry Henry in sight on this side of the Atlantic Yards struggle.
It could be our downfall, but this much is clear: if you win by walking all over people, it's no win at all. I'm thankful that, whenever this thing finally ends, we'll still be standing, hearts still beating, without carnage strewn about. Not carnage of our making, anyway.
I think we'll win, by the way.
It sounds like a grim way to say "Happy Thanksgiving." It's not. It's a celebration of people fighting for what they believe, and having each others' backs. It's not always pretty, but in the end, it's affection and tenderness stating for the record that, without them, struggle is an empty call.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours...
Posted by lumi at November 26, 2009 6:36 AM

Miss Wit Holiday Sales Locals

Eat up that turkey and you know the drill, on to the next! Shopping! While we at Miss Wit lament the loss of Tower Records
 (we still listen to cassettes, and vinyl, sniff sniff) be sure to check out the temporary market in it's place -  Gifted - the Manhattan Holiday extension of the Brooklyn Flea, 
50 vendors, limitless gifts for all, including yourself!

Miss Wit will be there  Dec Wed 9 to Dec Sunday 13th.  Get your list ready and come by. 

And to these other fine locations through out December.

Beach Boys Black Flag Mash Up "The Release"

It's been a feverishly fun week and a half as the Mash Up has gone quite viral!  The little Miss has been ship and clicking all week!

Pass it on!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Muhammad Ali Enterprises Marks 35th Anniversary of 'The Rumble In The Jungle'

Muhammad Ali Enterprises Marks 35th Anniversary of 'The Rumble In The Jungle'

Special Edition Zaire '74 Tees from Miss Wit Designs available  at

Muhammad Ali Enterprises Marks 35th Anniversary of 'The Rumble In The Jungle' with Online Events hosts replay of final round and special "Rumblevision" animated shorts from No Mas

NEW YORK, Oct. 29 /PRNewswire/ --"The Rumble in the Jungle," was more than just a boxing match.
The epic 1974 battle between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire's jungle heat was one of the most anticipated championship fights of all time. Younger than Ali and the reigning heavyweight champ, Foreman was the heavy favorite. Yet Ali's surprising "rope-a-dope" strategy provided him a stunning upset victory over the then indomitable Foreman.
But beyond the remarkable athleticism and cunning gamesmanship that Ali displayed, it was the personal rapport he developed with his African and international fan base that helped establish him as a unique global icon.
Muhammad Ali Enterprises LLC and the official Muhammad Ali website,, are celebrating the 35th anniversary of "The Rumble in the Jungle" - October 30, 1974 - with a series of special online events.
On October 30, 2009, will display the 8th and final round of the epic fight. Rounds 1 through 7 have been displayed one at a time on each day since Oct. 22. Other web features designed to immerse Ali's international fan base in this historic event include fan polls, interactive messaging to The Champ, exclusive video and photos, gifts, and the online offering of specially designed commemorative merchandise.
In association with the 35th Anniversary,, the home of Muhammad Ali's Official Online Store, presents several exclusive offerings, specially designed and manufactured to commemorate the epic battle.
A colorful poster, designed to match the style and feeling of the African bout in 1974, is on sale as a Limited Edition print. Five specially designed Rumble t-shirts, with dynamic images of the Champ in action, are offered in a variety of colors and sizes. A framed 20x24 Rumble in the Jungle autographed print can be purchased, delivered with the Authentics guaranteed Certificate of Authenticity.
In addition to this, Muhammad Ali Enterprises has commissioned No Mas, a New York-based apparel and media company, to create "Rumblevison," a series of three original, animated short films.
The animations celebrating Ali's spectacular victory over Foreman will go live on Friday, October 30, on both the No Mas ( and Ali ( websites and will be made widely available for embed and viewing on viral on mobile video players. In conjunction with a viral release, No Mas will also retail the original artwork, editioned prints and t-shirts based on key frames, along with its current collection of licensed reproductions of t-shirts worn by Ali during his storied career.
To explore this legendary fight, No Mas founder and sport culture guru Chris Isenberg tapped three fine artists with distinct styles to offer different perspectives on the "Rumble in The Jungle."
The greatest sportsman of his time, Ali's contributions transcend sports. Ali is that rare personality who has inspired and continues to inspire people around the world, no matter what their age, ethnicity, or beliefs. He is esteemed as a great humanitarian and social activist, recognized in every corner of the globe. Awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom and appointed as United Nations Messenger of Peace, Ali remains active today, sponsoring charity benefits and making appearances for various causes.
About Muhammad Ali Enterprises LLC
Muhammad Ali Enterprises LLC ("MAE") is a California limited liability company. MAE is aggressively involved in a worldwide licensing program, merchandising, television, film, video and Internet projects. For more information on MAE, visit MAE is a subsidiary of CKX, Inc., a publicly traded company listed on the NASDAQ Global Market® under the ticker symbol "CKXE." Also visit
    SOURCE Muhammad Ali Enterprises LLC

Coupla Brooklyn Zeitgeistmeisters

Miss Wit has recently teamed up with creative pop genius (no no he says) Dan Meth illustrator, cartoonist, viral web video savant, and all around good human.

In what the Miss hopes to be the beginning of a fruitful pairing - we were most pleased to release the following two tees right out of the gate - at the
annual WFMU Record Fair  in NYC.  A phenomenon that brings collectors and dealers from across the country all to one fine location, to do the "crate n finger flip."

Dan's designs were greeted with screeches of joy and laughter, and definitely lots of pointing, cries of "genius, subversive, subtle!"

Below are some shots from the WFMU Record Fair on Oct. 23, 2009