NEW YORK CITY: Join the mob this Saturday, 15 September from 12pm - 2pm when #SaveNYC holds a creative "cash mob" and guerrilla street art event for the ailing and iconic East Village institution Gem Spa, the beloved bodega located at the corner of St. Marks and Second Avenue. This sentimental 80 year old shop -- and (possible) birthplace of the Egg Cream -- has been home to an iconic animatronic Zoltar fortune teller and some of the world's most famous regulars including Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Madonna and the New York Dolls to name just a few. The business has been trying to keep afloat in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood combined with rising rents, and loss of tabacco and lottery ticket licenses which leaves loyalists worried about the milk-soda stalwart's future. Rumor has it that Citibank has expressed keen interest in taking over the location.
To participate in the #SaveNYC "Cash Mob" and help support this punk paradise in need, visit and purchase egg creams, pretzels, t-shirts, and toothpaste. Have your photo snapped against guerrilla street art created by DCX Accelerator, an acclaimed group of cultural activists and designers, who have radically transformed Gem Spa into a vivid dystopian vision -- asuredly what is to come of the new St. Mark's should we lose another beloved business. If you can't make the mob, come in anytime and drop a dime to maintain the hertitage of this dynamic and distinct destination. Bring your #SaveNYC sign or print one of your own here
Interested media who would like to learn more about #SaveNYC or schedule an interview with Jeremiah Moss please contact WORKHOUSE, CEO Adam Nelson via firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone +1 646. 969. 3255
The New York Dolls in 1973 at Gem Spa by popspotsnyc.com
#SAVENYC Today, more than ever, the soul of New York is getting mugged by rising rents, suburbanization, rampant development, and a flood of chain businesses. Hyper-gentrification is destroying the cultural fabric of New York and City Hall is doing nothing to stop it.
Jeremiah Moss, the journalist and blogger behind the popular and acclaimed “Vanishing New York,”and celebrated author of "Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul," has launched #SAVENYC (SaveNYC.Nyc) a call to action that gathers the voices of everyday New Yorkers, celebrities, small businesspeople, tourists —all who care about protecting the cultural fabric of the city — to send a strong message to City Hall: Save New York! To save it, politicians, activists, and citizens must get tough and protect the city’s cultural heritage so we don’t lose anymore like CBGB’s, Cafe Edison, Colony Records, Florent, Lenox Lounge, 5Pointz, and many, many others.
Madonna shooting a scene from "Desperately Seeking Susan" in 1984 at Gem Spa. Photograph by Godlis
All photos courtesty of Adam Nelson | WORKHOUSE | www.workhousepr.net
Wherever the towers of big development rise, the rents rise with them. And as the rents hit nosebleed heights, New York vanishes. Neighborhood by neighborhood, borough by borough, this is how you kill a city.
From the glitzy corridor of the High Line in Manhattan, to the Downtown Brooklyn neighborhood around the Barclays Center to Long Island City in Queens, where Mayor de Blasio’s buddy Rob Speyer is hoisting three extravagant slabs of glass into the sky, our city is dying. It is a victim of its own so-called success.
People want to come to New York. Taylor Swift urges them in, singing, “It’s been waiting for you,” as if the city had nothing better to do but anticipate the arrival of newcomers. Bloomberg filled the whole town with tourists until we were bursting at the seams. Global oligarchs come to stash their dirty money in empty penthouses atop sky-high splinters, giving us nothing in return but long, dark shadows.
Meanwhile, New Yorkers hurry from job to job, hustling to make enough to cover the rent. Median rent for vacant apartments is nearly 60% of median income, by one measure. If you make $100,000, a solidly middle-class sum in most places, you might qualify for low-income housing, but you’ll have to enter through a metaphorical poor door.
In between all this hustling, God forbid we should need our shoes repaired or shirts cleaned. Small businesses are being decimated. Every month, we lose another thousand mom-and-pops .
They’re not closing because business is bad. They’re closing because thelandlords are doubling, tripling, even octupling the rents — or simply denying lease renewals. With no penalties to stop them, landlords leave the spaces vacant for months or years, waiting for a national chain, a bank or a high-end business to pay the asking price of $40,000, $60,000, $80,000 a month.
Apparently, New York’s been waiting for you Starbucks, Olive Garden and Applebee’s. And for you Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors.
Small businesses in New York City have no rights. You’ve been here 50 years and provide an important service? Tough luck — your space now belongs to Dunkin’ Donuts. You own a beloved, fourth-generation, century-old business? Get out — your landlord’s putting in a combination Chuck E. Cheese and Juicy Couture.
And despite de Blasio’s rhetorical fears about gentrification, his progressive pro-development push may well only hasten the trend.
That’s why I started the #SaveNYC campaign. We’re collecting video testimonials from New Yorkers and out-of-towners, celebrities and small business owners, asking City Hall to preserve the cultural fabric of the greatest city on earth.
First, we must pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. This bill, languishing for decades and quashed by Christine Quinn when she was City Council speaker, would give small businesses a fair chance to negotiate lease renewals and reasonable rent increases. It would keep our neighborhoods cohesive, helping to slow the tsunami of chain stores and put an end to landlord warehousing of empty, blighted spaces. It is our best hope.
Imagine a city filled with empty super-condos, money vaults in the sky. Our streetscapes will be sleek windows on the dead space of bank branches and real-estate offices.
There will be no more bookstores, no more theaters, no more places for live music. No more places to sit on a stool and drink a beer with regular folks.
When that day comes, and in some ways it is already here, what city will this be? It will be a hollow city for hollow men.
In a poem, John Updike warned: “The essence of superrich is absence. They like to demonstrate they can afford to be elsewhere. Don’t let them in. Their riches form a kind of poverty.” He was right.
It is late, but it’s not too late.
Jeremiah Moss | Vanishing New York | #SaveNYC
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