Youth and innocence – two things that go together like peanut butter and jelly, peas and carrots, Cephus and Reesie. We generally seek to prolong the innocence of youth for as long as possible, shielding our children from sights, sounds and experiences that might force them to grow up too quickly, shattering their idyllic and tender worlds. After 30 years on this Earth and a childhood that was anything but innocent, I understand this and support it to an extent. However, there’s a difference between stalling the harsh realities of adulthood and sheltering kids from, oh, I don’t know, the fact that gay people exist?
I can remember back in the day when homework consisted of a few pages out of a workbook. I would get so excited when one of those assignments was a word search. How delightfully simple! I could find the words super quickly and be done with plenty of time to run outside and play. Well the feeling came back just a little bit tonight when the interwebz alerted me to a one Jennifer McMillen and her opposition to a hip hop club called Prime6 in her family-oriented Brooklyn neighborhood. I won't re-hash the story here - please just check out The Village Voice's take on it. They found humor in it as well which I guess we have to do sometimes when the rainbow isn't enuf. The short of it is that homegirl started a petition in which she implores others to join in her attempt to show club owner Akiva Ofshtein that he'd make way more money (and keep out all the riff-raff) if he'd just play some nice Indie music instead. I'd much rather look at the petition as some sort of after-school word search, entitled - White Privilege, Stereotypes, and Yeah Hon, That's Pretty Racist. How many #fails can you find?
PRIME 6: EMBRACE INDIE MUSIC!
Opened on March 02, 2011 | Contact Petition Author
SEND THE MESSAGE TO PRIME 6: Indie Music Will Earn You More Than Hip-Hop!!!
My name is Jennifer McMillen, and I live only a few doors down from the proposed site of Prime 6. Like most of the folks at the CB6 meeting on Monday night, I too have been concerned about the impending entrance of Prime 6 into our community and our daily lives.
I'm not generally the type of person that speaks up, (I remained silent during the entire Monday night meeting), but in this situation, I'm hopeful that I've stumbled onto a solution that makes so much sense for *both* parties that I'm beyond excited to share it with all of you.
First, let me explain what's at the heart of this conflict: I know for a fact that there's no single type of establishment (or type of bar/club patron for that matter) that Park Slopers would inherently view as "undesirable." I don't think anyone would deny that Park Slopers are about the least "racist" people on the planet.
What IS causing strife in this situation is that over the last ten years, Park Slope has become a family-oriented and family-centric community. This can be annoying at times - believe me, as someone who has chosen not to have children, I'm more than aware of the self-entitled attitude that often pervades parts of our community.
Nevertheless, it's just a fact that in this neighborhood, family comes first.
Prime 6 has to realize this - but at the same time - Park Slope families need to realize that this is a free country, and that Prime 6 has a right to exist. Furthermore, no one can legally stop the owners from doing what it is they're going to do.
So here's the gist of my big idea: Isn't there some middle ground between this spot being a stroller repair shop and it being a full-on hip-hop club?
No one can change the fact that Prime 6 WILL exist - they have their liquor license, and nothing's going to deter them from opening. BUT: What if owner Akiva Ofshtein could be convinced that his business will see far more financial success as a different kind of nightlife establishment. Instead of focussing on hip-hop and urban entertainment, what if Prime 6 embraced some of the more indie local artists of ALL races who live and perform in the area.
It's not "racist" to equate hip-hop with an elevated crime rate vis a vi other types of musical genres - It's just a statistical fact that crime is more likely to occur among urban audiences than among audiences of other demographics. R&B and rap happen to be my two favorite types of music, but no one (especially my African American friends and colleagues) would seriously deny that hip-hop's violent history tragically precedes it.
In addition, conveniently(!), we also happen to be in the middle of an unprecedented drought of live music. Seventh Ave has ZERO venues for live music by indie artists, and is absolutely ripe for the right type of establishment to come along and breathe life into the live music scene. The business owner who is able to do THAT will reap financial rewards far beyond what they could hope to earn by selling Henessey/etc to basketball fans after a Nets game.
Not only will Akiva Ofshtein make more money by creating a sustainable business that uses social media to bring crowd-drawing acts to Prime 6, he'll also find that by working alongside the community he's joining, he'll build loyal allies in the neighbors around him - INSTEAD of the hostility we saw at the CB6 meeting and on the internet on Tuesday.
After all, which one of Prime 6's direct neighbors wouldn't be forever grateful to Ofshtein for seeding a vibrant artistic hub instead of another Yo MTV Raps "bling-bling" vip club.
As a Park slope resident that has lived steps from Flatbush avenue since 1998, I've seen the neighborhood change drastically in the last 12 years, and I'm well aware of the gentrification sensitivities that have been part of the neighborhood fabric for at least the last decade - so let me tell you first-hand:
We've waited a long time to get to this point: for once, this isn't a question of race or even class. My hope is that artists and art-appreciators OF EVERY IMAGINABLE BACKGROUND will band together to make this happen - to that end, please tweet and tweet and re-tweet: sign this petition to let Prime 6's owner know what he stands to GAIN by embracing independent LIVE music; and by steering clear of processed, commercial noise.