Category Archives: Idil

Rent-A-Vet

On countless corners in New York City vendors peddle their wares, offering everything from phone chargers and iPod covers, to art, books and DVDs. To judge by the sheer number of vendors, one might wrongly assume that selling merchandise, and securing space in New York is easy. Not so.

A lottery system in place for all applicants, save for war veterans, means that many are never selected or may even have to wait for over ten years to receive their vending license. A woman selling incense outside of Whole Foods by Union Square described the latter as a common situation. Many who depend on vending as their livelihood have circumvented the system, and have used the veterans’ privileges by renting their licenses, or even them.

“People actually rent the veteran, the veteran becomes a part of your business,” said a vendor on 14th St. between 5th Avenue and University Pl., who asked not to be named. “He might be sitting there, and working with you, or even just sitting there and taking a percent of what you make.”

The vendor explained that because this is illegal, needs like these are not publicized, but word travels through the vending community.  “It is a very disciplined relationship, the veterans find out through word of mouth.”

Art being sold at union Sq. Only art is permitted in the park.

Different licenses are granted to vendors, depending on the nature of their goods. Books, art, and spiritual material can be sold by anyone, and are protected under the First Amendment however, vendors still need to get a Tax ID, and secure a space. For vendors selling general goods, a general vending license referred to by most vendors as the ‘white license’  is needed from City Hall. Often it is vendors who are selling general goods that rent the veterans, and their licenses.

A more specific license, known as the ‘yellow license’ is used to purvey particular goods, and through distinctions such as  ‘Consumer/Cigarette’, vendors holding these licenses are allowed to sell cigarettes and candy.  Surveillance of yellow license holders by city officials is much more stringent, and one such holder explained that his kiosk is visited every three months, without specific notice, and his business is surveyed.

For many who are using a veteran’s general vending license the potential to be visited by city officials, although less structured than those for yellow license holders, is one of the reasons why the veteran often becomes a present member in the business. Some have even complained about the behavior of police in enforcing rules such as table length, and distance from the road. White license holders often have the freedom to move between a designated area, as in the case of my interviewee- who has the freedom to sell anywhere between University Pl., and 7th Avenue.

However, vendors often maintain the same spot said the source, and that there is a kind of “vending etiquette.”

“People in this area [Union Square] will arrive very early to set up, and they even get into fights,” he said. “Some people make friends and help each other out, different blocks function differently.”

None of the vendors approached were comfortable discussing the renting of a veterans license, and none of those approached were willing to share their names.

Spiderman!

Spiderman has forsaken the sights and sounds of Midtown  for the excitement of lower Manhattan. Garbed in a spiderman suit, Shaun, entertainer and rickshaw runner extraordinaire, from Miami, Florida has filled the city with screams and laughter since his arrival to the city. Termed NYC Fun Run, Shaun takes interested New Yorkers for a ride in his rickshaw and jumps up in the air, and runs across the surfaces of buildings and edges of vehicles, much like his fictional counterpart. Using his and the riders’ body weight, Shaun keeps the rickshaw balanced (see highlighted link for visual sense.)

Shaun can often be found in the Lower East Side at St. Marks- for New Schoolers who want a free ride.

(Filming by Billy Kaufman)

Drumming up support

Drummer, Sonia, and her husband perform at West 4th St subway station to earn some extra money.

Family performs together.

Washington Square Park Through The Ages

On cobblestones and such…

A visit to the Meat Packing District can feel like a step into a parallel universe, removed from the New York City we know. Cobblestone streets and plaza’s make the area feel like…. well, Europe.

The Meat Packing District (MPD) started as an outdoor food market named the Gansevoort Market in 1884. Today, according to meatpacking-district.com the district is the “quintessential 24-hour neighborhood.” The district covers a 20 square block, with Gansevoort St. marking its southern most boundary.

The NYC DOT has been working on redeveloping the MPD since 2007. Balmori Associates, a New York based urban and landscape design firm established in 1990, has been contracted to find a “temporary solution for public space” at Gansevoort Plaza, on 9th Ave. between 13street and Gansevoort. The company was hired to make the space compatible with the changes being implemented by the NYC Department of Transportation such as bike lanes, and new traffic alignments. 

Balmori Associates is the design team for the NYC 2012 Equestrian Olympics, happening at the Greenbelt park in Staten Island. The firm is also part of the team working on the High Line, and played a role in developing the viewing wall at Ground Zero.

Diana Balmori, founder of the company, in an article titled “Making Public Spaces: Building an Urban Living Room” explains that 40 Dutch Design students and their professor have been incorporated on to the redesign team. The company has also opened up a Twitter forum, and is gathering ideas from there.

11th Hour (Photo)

Thompson CampaignerThompson Campaign Staffer, on the corner of 6th Avenue and 11th St at 8pm.

On Tuesday night, November 3rd, the Thompson campaign staff continued to hand out flyers and encourage voters to vote for Thompson in the mayoral election. Voting was already underway at this time.

(Michael Bloomberg won the Mayoral election, and will be serving a third term as Mayor of New York City starting January 2010. )

Interesting websites/blogs

1) I think this is great. It incorporates different media, and it’s really international. It’s quite new (launched at the end of summer.) http://vjmovement.com/

2) http://blogs.aljazeera.net/ – Because I like Al-Jazeera. I have read their news for long, but I only recently started reading their blogs.  They have good writers and interesting blog topics.

And here is a nice one, for when you want to feel happy, and hopeful, and deep 🙂 http://whiskeyriver.blogspot.com/