Friday, December 03, 2010

The Rat

Reggie Jackson once described George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin like this:
"One's a rat. The other one's a mouse studying to be a rat."
Which is a pretty good line, I must say.

Here in Brooklyn, however, if you ask people who Rat #1 might be (and this excludes national politicians--a ripe category for sure but not applicable here), the answer as often as not is Bruce Ratner. He, for those of you not in the loop, is the real estate developer who is tearing up a part of downtown Brooklyn called the Atlantic Yards, which currently looks like this ...

... and erecting a collection of mixed-use office/residential buildings plus something called the Barclays Center which will house something called the New Jersey Nets.

Me? I'm of two minds. The Nets (which are now majority-owned by some Russian oligarch after the bottom fell out on Ratner) have the makings of a pretty good team. That is to say they have an excellent young center and an excellent young point guard. The rest, as they say, is trimmings. So, two years hence, when they hit Brooklyn (they currently play in Newark), it could be a pretty good all around thing; at least as regards roundball. The other side of the coin is that they played a lot of eminent domain hardball, and a lot of people/businesses have been shown the door in a not so gracious manner so that the Nets could have someplace to play once they got to B-Town.

All of which brings me to an upcoming show at the BAG Gallery called "Gentrification." I'm submitting a blank portrait of Ratner with the idea that it be annotated during the course of the show. Which is nice because it'll be a lot warmer INSIDE the gallery than OUTSIDE, where I usually stand.

Ratner looks like this:

and this ...

... which is the one I'm painting. As we speak.

I love the pinched look to his mouth. This is the look on his face when he hung up with Frank Gehry, who was scheduled to design the whole thing but who dropped out when they started slashing the budget.

The call for entries, for you completists, can be seen here.

At some point in the proceedings, the whole Atlantic Yards thing was supposed to look like this:

Which I thought would be pretty cool. But what do I know? Now it's slated to look like this:

My, how the mighty have fallen.

Were it me, and I'd been kicked out of house and home in the name of improving Brooklyn, I'd be a damned sight happier seeing them erect the first (which is something, if I do say so myself) than with the second (which looks like a piece of shit).

My favorite part of the new design? The pointy end of the triangle, which looks like a parking lot designed to hold maybe 500 cars. This is assuming anybody would be stupid enough to drive to downtown Brooklyn to see a basketball game. Sheesh.


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