“Consider the Rockaways, the narrow spit of land in southern Queens that was so emblematic of Hurricane Sandy’s undemocratic wrath, and whose long row of oceanside towers (the Arverne, Hammel, Redfern and Edgemere developments) stand as a kind of dubious monument to a bygone era of New York City housing policy.
Projects first started to rise in the Rockaways in 1950. At the time, there was an unprecedented demand for housing, from returning veterans and blacks migrating from the South, as well as plenty of federal financing as a result of the Housing Act of 1949.
Above all, there was Robert Moses.
“Why did the Rockaways end up with so much government-financed housing? Largely because Robert Moses wanted it there,”says Robert Caro, author of “The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York.”
It’s impossible to talk about the landscape of modern New York without talking about Moses, who leveraged his position as head of the Mayor’s Committee on Slum Clearance to mass-produce thousands of units of high-rise public housing, often near the shoreline. His shadow looms over much of the havoc wreaked by the storm.
The Rockaways were irresistible to Moses. Once a popular summer resort for middle-class New Yorkers, who filled its seaside bungalows and crowded into its amusement parks, the area had fallen on hard times when cars, new roads and improved train service made the beaches of Long Island more accessible.
Never one for nostalgia, Moses saw the Rockaways as both a symbol of the past and a justification for his own aggressive approach to urban renewal, to building what he envisioned as the city of the future. “Such beaches as the Rockaways and those on Long Island and Coney Island lend themselves to summer exploitation, to honky-tonk catchpenny amusement resorts, shacks built without reference to health, sanitation, safety and decent living,” he said, making his case for refashioning the old summer resorts into year-round residential communities…”
Yesterday, hundreds of workers at fast-food restaurants throughout the city walked off their jobs. Part of a city-wide organizing campaign, workers are demanding a raise, to $15-an-hour from their current near-minimum wage pay, and recognition for their independent union, the Fast Food Workers Committee. Workers say their wages are so low that they’re unable to afford basic necessities like food, rent, or Metrocards to get to work. Many work multiple jobs, and depend on food stamps, even the shelter system, to survive.
Sarah Jaffe writes in The Atlantic (“McJobs Should Pay, Too: Inside Fast-Food Workers’ Historic Protest For Living Wages,” Nov. 29, 2012):
The median hourly wage for food service and prep workers is a mere $8.90 an hour in New York City, according to the New York Department of Labor. But Jasska Harris still makes the federal minimum wage — $7.25 — after five months on the job, and struggles to get even 35 hours a week. And that minimum wage buys less than it used to. A recent study from the National Employment Law Project pointed out that the value of the minimum wage is 30 percent lower than it was in 1968.
“I don’t think we can afford to write off fast food anymore as simply a sector that offers transitional jobs for teenagers,” said Annette Bernhardt, policy co-director at NELP. “Increasingly working families are depending on this industry, and unless we confront the serious problem of low wages in the fast food industry, we’re not going to solve the job quality problem for the labor market as a whole.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that seven out of 10 growth occupations over the next decade will be low-wage fields. And these jobs are not being done by teenagers. Across the country, the median age of fast-food workers is over 28, and women — who make up two-thirds of the industry — are over 32, according to the BLS. “For a lot of people it’s a second chance or even a last chance,” Shaiken said.
FLEX IS KINGS is a feature length social and cultural documentary about the community behind the contemporary urban dance movement, called “Flexing,” in Brooklyn, New York. The film explores the hopes and realities of this under-acknowledged and totally unfunded group of Do-It-Yourself urban artists.
This Saturday (6pm) there will be a free screening of clips from film at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, as part of its First Saturdays series. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers, Deidre Schoo and Michael Beach Nichols, and a dance demonstration. Free tickets (310) available at the Visitor Center at 5 p.m.
Check out the full listing of events happening at the museum: Brooklyn Museum First Saturdays – December 1st. If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, this is highly recommended — it’s kind of like a party inside a museum. That’s how it used to be at least (when they set aside a big space upstairs for dance parties with big-name DJs; there’s no reference to this on the schedule so I’m not sure it’s happening.). It’s worthwhile for the people watching alone — it’s quite a (Brooklyn) scene. Oh, and there’s the art, the world-class art of the museum’s permanent collection, as well as their first-rate exhibitions.
As you watch the 50-second clip, try to discern what product — or what brand, what kind of brand — this ad is designed to promote? Partly, what makes this interesting is that it’s hard to tell. And then there’s the very sociological-sounding tag line, which Emile Durkheim could have written: “A new normal demands New Standards.”
There’s a shot of the class around 3:00. 😉
5 Pointz was also featured in a recent episode of “Project Runway All-Stars”: