Monday, January 31, 2011

DNAinfo: San Gennaro Festival Being Pushed Out by Community Board

ink San Gennaro Festival By Jordan Heller

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

"NOLITA — NoLita residents and merchants seeking to rid their neighborhood of the annual San Gennaro Feast scored a victory last week when Community Board 2 penned a letter to the city's permit office urging them to cut off the 85-year-old festival at Kenmare Street, the de facto border between Little Italy and NoLita....."

Read more:

My response and another's response to the discussion:

Cordoning off the festival is an odd response to any problems associated with it. This isn’t just an Italian Catholic festival, supported by the neighborhoods local Church. It’s also a working class cultural icon. Yes, it draws working class tourists, unlike the wealthy ones some merchants prefer. But there are also people who live and work here who enjoy it– like the children from nearby schools etc. The comments (“greasy fingers”, etc.) have been rife with insult to working class people. They are demeaning and arrogant. The carny atmosphere is authentic and edgy and very New York. But it’s only ten days. Consider how ever-present the upper class culture is that we’ve been inundated with lately. It’s hard for those who belong to it to even recognize it AS a culture (because it’s “just you being you”). But believe me, it is every bit as grating to us as this is to you. I think some have no idea how stilted and narrow it can read. Don't insist on your class culture as the only worthwhile one. You have to share.
kathleen webster | January 27, 2011

Comment from someone opposed to the Festival:

As a an American, Little Italy resident supporter of "Middle America Faggots" and "fruitcakes," (see the thoughtful commentor's quaint remarks below) and as an Italian Amercan, the issue has nothing to do with the cultural, ethnic, and class warfare a few responders on this page have chosen to conjure, as well as the event's proponents. No one is taking away anything from anyone, denying any ethnic and cultural heritage (that which actually exists). This is not about Nolita area retailers and residents solely opposing this event with a vendetta against any culture, or any particular ethnic dynamic. That's a bogus ruse, and offensive if not farcical. This is about reducing an overrun, grotesquely over-commercialized street closing event that a majority in the entire area and outward--whether business owners, property owners, or residents-- feel is a reasonable compromise to restoring the most basic quality of living for all in the area. To frame and box this as a some sort of unified assault on "working class" people is disingenuous at best, absurd at worst. As many "working class" (ironically, many who are deceptively being called "new," have lived in the area for 15 years+) residents as the scapegoated "boutique" owners vehemently oppose the Gennaro event as-is. Also, many of the artisinal retailers who distaste the event, implicitly grouped together as "arrogant and demeaning," is ludicrous. Many work seven days a week producing their products, and work as hard as anyone in the city. Both in Nolita, below Broome, on Lafayette, Centre, Centre Market, and elsewhere throughout the community. The demand is not for deposing the event; it's for a fair compromise, legitimately cultivated in frustration over the years by a colossal number of people, from all walks of life, and from all areas of the community.

Hey David, please stop using anti-gay slurs. That brings in a whole bunch of lousy stuff that is part of what is wrong with the anti-festival attitudes. It confuses the issue and is just plain mean and hurtful to a group that has enough to deal with. It’s a divide and conquer mess that working class people in particular are vulnerable to. Mjcveritas: my comment about “demeaning and arrogant” I wrote very specifically to those who made the “greasy fingers” comment, I did not group the storeowners as a whole. I stand by that: it was. Don’t you agree? As to store workers/owners working hard -not the issue here. It has to do with a superior attitude towards others who do different kinds of work. Like the phrase “red neck” (white people who worked in the fields all day) it’s meant to degrade. And yes, slurs are often a part of white working class harshness and they need to go (for a host of reasons). But once again, the implication is, that because you don’t say lousy words, you are clear of carrying oppressive attitudes. Not so. Working class people often show the oppressive attitudes in society while the wealthy insure that oppression continues - quietly. I don’t think you who get to decide that this isn’t about class. This is working class cultural event as such it attracts working class tourists (as well as any child in a ten block area) – everyone knows that. As I mentioned, the culture of wealth that is attracted by some of the shops is equally maddening to many of us. Yes, you have to share the space for 10 days. I know you can do it.
kathleen webster | January 31, 2011

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