“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”—Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World
Today came word that Glasslands, the 21+ venue that sits between 285 Kent and Death By Audio, will also shutter at the end of the year. And you can be assured that we’re going to hear a lot of talk in the coming weeks about how Vice is destroying Brooklyn’s independent culture in one fell swoop by taking over the building that currently houses Death By Audio (for another month) and Glasslands (for another two months). There’s even word that (gasp) they might build their own venue in the space. As sinister as it all sounds, this wheel was put in motion long ago, and it’s all your fault.
For every free corporate-sponsored show you’ve attended, and every free frosty (sponsored) beverage you’ve drank, it is your fault. For every sell-out debate you’ve had with someone in the past decade, settling on the conclusions that you “might as well get the money while you can” or “if we don’t take the money, someone else will,” this is your fault. That time your band played a cheesy festival to make some extra cash to fill the gas tank; or when you took your job skills to a larger company, choosing financial security over the excitement of creating your own identity. For every Williamsburg Starbucks pumpkin-spiced latte, every ironic shirt you bought from Urban Outfitters, every episode of Girls you tweeted about…
These were all your ringing endorsements for the commodification of South 2nd and Kent.
Maybe it wasn’t altruism that brought you to live/work/play in Brooklyn, but there is something to be said about championing the alternative.
In small increments, decisions like these can be difficult to make; the rent in Brooklyn is too damn high, and free stuff feels nice. And to be certain, not everyone (not everyone, not everyone) has ditched their ethics for greener pastures, but you have to ask yourself, how many McDonald’s pop-up ads are you willing to click-close to read an article about iconic venues closing before you start to care? Or maybe you don’t care, because creating an all-inclusive, sustainable, legal art space anywhere in New York City is hard and expensive work, and lamenting about it from your golden cubicle is much, much easier.
Suggesting it’s all a matter of DIY going legit is just a nice way of deflecting the blame. I’m sorry, but it’s your fault.
Why the fuck should Vice care about your beloved music venues if you can’t even care to argue against this behavior outside of Twitter? You’re happy to get your fake news from someone paid by HBO or Viacom then get into a pissing match over clickbait thinkpieces on websites funded by capital investors before you’re on to the next trending topic. Yep, they’re even capitalizing on your whining.
The only saving grace is that in a few more years the next generation will loathe what you’ve let this scene deteriorate to and get fed up with reunion tours, giant over-priced festivals, shitty venues, music criticism run by a few outlets and a handful of publicists, and start a new, idyllic art community (again). We’re already seeing the stories of people running to Philly, or Boston, even the Hudson Valley in an attempt to start anew. Those folks are still within shouting distance of the money that Brooklyn affords, so it might not yet be the exodus, but it’s a tidal shift at least.
When 285 Kent closed, I warned:
It’s time we start liking things sincerely again. It’s time to tear down all of the circle-jerked native-advertised nonsense and build something new. Or before you know it, you’ll be sitting at a computer recounting the days when Brooklyn “used to be cool.”
Vice knows you haven’t left your computer yet. Who’s fault is that?