Mayor in the Middle?
The Mayor hates politics. Oxymoronic as that statement sounds, it in many ways should have been clear from the get-go. After all, Michael Bloomberg’s background is in business, not the law. And within a company, dissent of any kind is generally frowned upon by the people at the top—unless, of course, there’s money in it.
The Mayor’s position on the RNC protests illustrates the point. His rabid defense of Central Park from the spectacle of a massive demonstration for peace stems from his desire to project the image of the city as an orderly place, friendly to business and corporate sponsorship, where people neither smoke nor rudely interrupt a Sunday in the park with their gauche objections to the wise decisions made by the people at the top. That he is dutifully carrying out the will of the most reactionary, most corrupt administration in American history seems not to bother the Mayor one iota.
Still, like any good businessman, the Mayor has spotted an untapped market, and so has recently modified his position toward the protesters. He now wants the peaceful sort "to be welcome and to enjoy New York City. You can check into a good hotel and get a great night’s sleep." Such a generous offer for well-heeled activists to spend money in the city’s hotels and upscale restaurants is obviously an admission of failure on the Mayor’s part—all the nonsense about the millions of dollars the RNC would bring to the city has proven to be, well, nonsense. But like nearly everything the media mogul Mayor does, his newfound outreach got good play in the press.
If there were more money circulating in the protest economy, Mayor Bloomberg presumably would be even more welcoming, though. As his press secretary, Edward Skyler, told the Times, if the protesters "want to find corporate sponsors for their protests, let them go ahead." Which sponsors stand to make money on peace is not altogether clear. During the Gulf War, I did meet a guy who made a pretty penny on "No Blood for Oil" t-shirts, but I’m still not convinced that the peace business would inspire much corporate investment.
Skyler further suggested that the protesters should look for corporate backers, rather than public support, because "New Yorkers shouldn't have to see their tax dollars spent on subsidizing protests." Regardless, it seems to me that given the plenty of city tax dollars that have gone into RNC preparations, a successful protest economy during the RNC theoretically could lead to future subsidies for protests in the city. Far-fetched as this idea may seem, consider the potential: a monthly antiwar demonstration in Central Park, in which 250,000 people vow to spend a minimum of four dollars each, would pump at least $12 million a year into the city’s economy. Get the city behind it, and the sky’s the limit!
Sadly, the day when the Bill of Rights means as much to the Mayor as corporate charters and balance sheets seems a long, long way off. So in the meantime, let’s all enjoy the many, many events designed to oppose, rather than celebrate, the debacle in Iraq and the looting of the national treasury. Debate and protest—i.e., politics—will be everywhere, and with little or no corporate sponsorship—meaning that for one week at least, the city will be home to a joyous celebration of everything this mayor hates.
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The ways of disappearing are as myriad and complex as they are mysterious and unpredictable. To disappear does not mean to escape, and it is not the same thing as to be missing, absent, or invisible. To disappear does not mean to not be here; it means something more akin to finding a way to matter while not appearing to [or as] matter. To disappear is to raise recursive questions: if something is gone, is it in a better place? Will it reappear? Should we try to find it? Does it still exist? Was it ever here? These questions are as true of a magic trick designed to make the Statue of Liberty disappear as they are of a lost sailor, an altered sign, a former country, or a dry laketo name but a few of the subjects touched on by the writers whose contributions follow.
Thirteen Other Ways of Looking at DisappearanceBy Roger Conover
JUNE 2022 | Critics Page
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NOV 2021 | ArtSeen
Ways of Attaching at Swiss Institute, Mayer’s first institutional survey, presents a luminous collection of visual work, which glows with the attention and endearment her clearly held for her projects.
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SEPT 2022 | Field Notes
Eight months in, the contours of an Eric Adams mayoralty are gradually emerging. An Adamsite New Yorkmy city, in the words of a mayor whose fondness for the first-person possessive has become a calling cardis one that appears poised to reverse even the limited departures from the playbook of the post-fiscal crisis era realized during the de Blasio administration.