Friday, December 14, 2012

It's happening because of us

Editorial from the Queens Chronicle:

It’s a shame that “The Triumph of Civic Virtue,” the 1920 statue by famed sculptor Frederick MacMonnies, which has been stationed outside Borough Hall since the 1940s, is being moved out of Queens.

But the fact is we don’t deserve to keep it.

The statue, commonly just called “Civic Virtue,” has not been well maintained. It’s not respected by many residents here; most probably don’t even know what it is. It was controversial even before it arrived at the corner of Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike. And its pending move to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, while unfortunate, may provide the impetus for the residents of this borough to be more protective of our treasures.

“Civic Virtue” comprises a male figure wielding a sword and towering over two writhing female figures, sirens of Greek mythology, meant to symbolize vice and corruption. Those who want to keep it where it is understand the symbolism.

But from day one the sculpture has been misinterpreted, both knowingly and not, as sexist. Elizabeth King Black of the National Women’s Party is one who decried it, saying, “Men have their feet on women's necks, and the sooner women realize it the better!” That was no recent comment made by someone ignorant of history; she said it at a hearing in the 1920s.

So while we sympathize with those who know what the sculpture is meant to convey, we also understand the view of those who look at it and just see misogyny.

That, however, is not the main reason people in Queens should throw up their hands and just let “Civic Virtue” go. The main reason is that we let our officials allow it to all but fall apart over the years, and now it’s too late to do anything about it. Those who wanted it preserved should have demanded that funds be allocated for that years ago.

Instead, in typical Queens fashion, no one got it done. Now that the statue is just days away from being moved to Green-Wood — which will pay to restore it with private funds and let those who want to admire it afterward do so — we get a too-little, too-late press conference, led by two City Council members trying to stop the process.

The hearing was held, the decision was made, and all we can say now is that Queens residents should do a better job protecting other borough assets, such as the New York State Pavilion from the 1964-65 World’s Fair, the Bowne House, the Steinway Mansion and so many other endangered landmarks. If we lose another, the fault again will be not in our stars but in ourselves.


Anonymous said...

"Instead, in typical Queens fashion, no one got it done. Now that the statue is just days away from being moved to Green-Wood — which will pay to restore it with private funds and let those who want to admire it afterward do so —we get a too-little, too-late press conference, led by two City Council members trying to stop the process." Why did the City pass through the move without consulting the community board, instead choosing to go along with the benighted opinions of the ignorant Marshall, the dopey Ferreras, and the disgraced Weiner, who complained about its denigrating women and then proceeded to harass women with pictures of his penis? The community should fight for the restoration of "Civic Virtue" for no other reason than to spite these idiots. Don't give in to their idiotic opinions.

georgetheatheist said...

Nowhere does the Chronicle editorialist mention the UNDERHANDED way that the removal of the statue was instigated. The editorialist just goes on about its alleged sexism and physical decrepitude. The editorialist hasn't addressed the issue of the UNDEMOCRATIC way this decision was made.

The editorialist writes: "The hearing was held..." But does this person read the Chronicle's own reporter in the same issue as the editorial quoting Andrea Crawford, the chairperson of Community Board 9?: "We have been advocating since 2006 for its restoration. We were not contacted [about the move]. We found out from Peter Vallone and press releases."

Similarly, Mary Ann Carey, CB 9's District Manager, in the same article: "...the board was not notified...Design and Construction made the decision. We found out from press releases from the borough president's office."

Similarly, Councilman Peter Vallone: "[The impending move] was designed so no one would know about it. The board knew nothing about it. The people of Queens never knew about it. We want the mayor and the Design Commission to hear us."

The City claims a hearing was noticed. Really? Queens Chronicle editorialist: did you know about such a hearing. Crapper did you? Esteemed readership, did you? I didn't.

C'mon, everybody. Rise up and DEMAND that a properly notified hearing be held on this issue. Stop being railroaded and show some backbone.

Anonymous said...

This "editorial" is working too hard to create the impression that the only option at this point is to move the statue. The fact is, if it can be restored at Green-Wood Cemetery, it can be restored in its present location (where it should remain). The statue is an asset that is possessed by Queens. Contrary to propaganda, it is not too late to cancel the move, keep the statue in Queens, and preserve it here.

The tactic of deliberately neglecting something so that it falls into dilapidation and its removal can then supposedly be justified is never valid.

The manner in which the City has proceeded with plans to move the statue have opened a can of worms. The citizenry has demanded an explanation, and we are going to get it -- whether powers-that-be want us to, or not.

Jerry Rotondi, Comm. to Save Keith's Inc. to Save Keith's Inc. to Save Keith's Inc. said...

This sounds an awful lot like echos of the RKO Keith's Theater's lousy situation.

Although many residents voiced their opinions loudly, and over 3,500 petition signatures were obtained to save this historic theater--our elected officials--Donald Manes, followed by his accomplice Claire Shulman--DID NOT really give a damn!

Don't blame us for not taking any action. We sat on the hands of our officials since early 1981 to keep the Keith's intact! Our committee got it landmarked!

But, aside from Council Member Julia Harrison--very few of the other politicians took a strong stand against Tommy Huang--then the Keith's owner.

They just poured on the platitudes and feigned their concern. One politician (Brian Mc Laughlin) even called Huang, "Public enemy #1".

BIG "F"-ing DEAL! He later went to jail!

The Keith's still lies at the northern terminus of Main Street--rotting in the hands of its 3rd owner.

About 150 Queens residents once marched down Main Street, demanding that the city protect or seize the Keith's through eminent domain proceedings.

It all fell on deaf ears--despite major TV network and news coverage over the years to follow.

Claire Shulman never did anything to preserve the Keith's. She even had the unmitigated gall to once defend Tommy Huang. "Hasn't he suffered enough... he hasn't been able to build (on the site) ?", was all she could offer.

Face it--this is a builder's borough--bought and paid for, along with its crooked pols! Our borough presidents USUALLY take their side against the wishes of constituents.

So, there you have it. That's why Queens has a LONG history of its politicians caring VERY LITTLE for historic preservation.

They only seem to care about the campaign contributions provided to them by developers.

Contrast our borough with Brooklyn, for example, where the record is SO MUCH better!

Most of Queens' politicians are OWNED by developers. Corrupt officials and uncaring ones are the reason that Queens is bereft of landmarks.

If any politicians are insulted by my remarks--
TS--so be it.

You must be one of the corrupt ones I've been referring to.

As for "Civic Virtue"--at least it's going to be preserved.

It's a great pity that it was ALLOWED to deteriorate through a lack of care by the callous administration who sits in borough hall!

Anonymous said...

Rise up and demand what?
It's a little too late...don't you think?

Without money or any real power beyond words...your opinions amount to just a fart in a hurricane!

This is not a Walt Disney movie, fella.
This is real crooked Queens politics!

Public demonstrations often garner headlines but little results in this shady borough.

Anonymous said...

Rise up? LOL!

Hire a lawyer and get a restraining order,
or else shut up!

At this point all else is futile.

Helen Marshall doesn't give a fig about it all, as long as she collects her pay check and retires to a comfy life.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Queens most of my life; very rarely (if ever) did I venture over to the Kew Gardens civic area buildings, for any reason whatsoever. The bottom line is that 95% of all Queens residents have zero connection to this statue, or this area. It is a shame to see it go, but not surprising. If it were moved to Flushing Meadows Park, more folks would know about it.

Missing Foundation said...

Yes it is symbolic of a deeper pathological environment within this borough.

Yes, you expose an iron clad truth: local politicians and the political process are above criticism.

But even if everyone could support you, it would not change things.

The editorial in the Chronicle IS spot when it sates that borough wide like locations as Bowne House, the World's Fair, and the Steinway Mansion are unaccountably in harm's way.

Perhaps what we need to do is to create a list of 4 or 5 places, set up a website about them, and brow beat (which is what is needed) every politician, every newspaper, and civic to actively support their preservation.

And its is now clear that just one community or community group gets nowhere with the system in Queens.

Anonymous said...

Most of us a tired fighting for someone else's landmark only to be left hanging for our agenda.

George this is a single issue. If we succeeded keeping the statue would things really change?

Jerry Rotondi said...

I can remember a community activist named Joyce Shepard, marching into Queens borough hall.

She demanded that the Fort Totten hearings be open to the public and not kept secret.

Has anyone out there got that kind of Moxie?
She actually risked being arrested!

Joyce kept on the case and sank her teeth into it like a bulldog. Because of her initial actions, Fort Totten was not carved up and handed over to developers.

Now it's a New York City park to be enjoyed by all.
I served as a board member on that Fort Totten Conservancy Inc. set up by Ray Beckerman.

The saving Fort Totten for public enjoyment is one of Queens' few great success stories.

Is anyone prepared to do what Joyce did back then for "Civic Virtue"--like banging on the doors of borough hall, and being taken off to jail?

I doubt it. Photo ops are much safer, and you can
count me out on this one.

Sorry folks--I've long served my community and borough. I'm getting a little too old to re-enlist for active duty.

Goodbye, artwork. Enjoy the trip to Greenwood.

Jerry Rotondi said...

Sorry for the repetition of our Committee to Save Keith's name--computer fouled up.

Anonymous said...

Boro hall is just one big back room where corrupt officials conspire to sell out Queens residents and put cash in their pockets.

At least in your local tavern's back room, you can get a good drink and maybe a good massage from the barmaid. Oooooh! Ahhhh!

What you get a Queens boro hall is a sharp stick up the tookas! OUCH !!!!

Anonymous said...

Philip Johnson's New York State Pavilion
will be the next to go!

Public apathy will be the demolition crew.

Anonymous said...

Thats what happens when most of our residents don't know English well enough to read the words 'civic virtue'

Hell, we would be lucky if they even understood what that meant in their own language.

I read the papers said...

And Schenkler in the current issue of the Tribune editorializes about this same Civic Virtue issue:

"Instead of allowing these historic parts of Queens to be replaced, we should be restoring them, maintaining them and using them to teach future generations what has come before. Anything less would be uncivilized."


The Ed Koch Bridge said...

Be quiet. Do what you are told.

Joe said...

I totally understand Jerry
""banging on the doors of borough hall, and being taken off to jail""

People (Americans) have no more balls and that's the big part of the problem.
For example, take 2 groups of activists:
Group 1 - Bang on doors in super hero costumes with pitch forks .
Group 2 - Is Timid, Has "meetings" and makes useless petitions the pols wipe there ass with.

Guess who gets the media attention they need ?
I worked in Television and the music industry. Both the media and New Yorkers love 'characters" In NYC you gotta have balls and be WAY over the top. And yes be prepared to go to jail !
I been arrested 3 times for allegedly "disrupting a meeting" and "giving a town supervisor agita" making her cancel a re-zoning hearing she lost the votes to pass. Another "Inciting a riot" against council members over my opinion when asked to give it.
Its no big deal, jail is interesting you learn a-lot about the system.
I never been convicted since the DA had no case --it was always bullshit the politicians (always ex lawyers) and town hall rent a cops told the police. In other words "get these troublemakers putting ideas in peoples heads out of here as fast you can"

Question now is: Why should one go to jail to fight for sheeple sitting home watching TV ?

-Perhaps all these lazy spineless, useless, passive, metrosexual wimps & soccer mom sheeple calling themselves Americans deserve to have there shit, quality of life, towns and rights flushed down the toilet !!


Anonymous said...

In April a bunch of healthy cherry trees were cut down to make way for an atriun at Borough Hall and Helen Marshall's office lied about it saying they were diseased.

The Rockaways and other Queens areas were devastated by hurricane Sandy and Marshall was MIA for most of the episode and has been practically invisible and silent since.

Now a Queens hallmark statue is being taken from the Borough Hall area and being moved to a cemetery in Brooklyn and Marshall couldn't care less. As a matter of fact she hates the statue as did her predecessor Schulman.

I'm not a big fan of Tony Avella but at least he will stand up for the borough that he will help oversee unlike Marshall.

Wait!!! I've got a great Idea....let's re-locate Helen Marshall to Green-Wood Cemetery?

georgetheatheist said...

From the Queens Chronicle editorial: "The hearing was held..."

Please. Who testified at this "hearing"? Where can we read the minutes?

Anonymous said...

Now here's a little thought experiment:

What if the city--for whatever reason or another-- wanted to take down Socrates Sculpture park? Or, for that matter, remove a single exhibition because of its potentially offensive content?

What would happen then?

Anonymous said...

Please. Who testified at this "hearing"? Where can we read the minutes?
Bwahahahahahaha! Thanks! I needed a good laugh.

Anonymous said...

Mary...what a hunk!

Maybe the lavender lobby can rescue that prime specimen of manhood!

What we need is queens, not Queens, to brandish their power!

Then the statue might remain in our borough...
properly restored.

Anonymous said...


Time to move on.

We know what the problems are and unless we are willing to do something about it we are just wasting our time.

I the people of Queens don't care about Bowne House or the Steinway Mansion or the Worlds Fair monuments in Flushing Meadow, and no one outside of Queens gave us useful help on St Saviours, we are dead in the water.

Like the invisible suffering in the Rockaways after Sandy, or the picking apart of Flushing Meadows, no one cares about us.

Anonymous said...

I'm not even from NY, but as an objective observer, it just seems like the city officials are taking advantage of an area that has no interest in what's going on in their city.

The thing that annoys me though, is that it's considered masagonystic when it's an historical sculpture that represents mythology. These feminazis would love it if there were a Greek Goddess standing on top of a couple of males though, wouldn't she? They're not interested in anything else other than furthering their own agenda at whatever cost it takes.

Anonymous said...

the statue of "Civic Virtue" should be relocated at the Brinckerhoff Cemetery site.

"They're not interested in anything else other than furthering their own agenda at whatever cost it takes ".

i coached my daughter's 6,7,and 8th grade C.Y.O. girl's basketball team in 1980. when the C.Y.O. N.O.W group became dominant, myself and other MALE coaches were ordered to coach at games, BY SITTING IN THE STANDS. We were permitted to coach skills and at scrimmages, but our female relatives had to sub as game coach.

Our team was still 21wins/7losses and won 1st and 2nd place in three tournaments,in 1980 in Queens.

We MALE coaches should have quit in protest, but the teams would have suffered.The new rule was ABSURD.

The girls are all 45 years old now, and they are permitted to hug me when we meet.Never when they played and won.
It was a fun period for me and a ego builder for the girls.

georgetheatheist said...

Forget it. It's gone. 5:00PM Saturday afternoon, December 15, 2012.

More to come.

Jon Torodash said...

Though I do not agree with the editorial, I will acknowledge some of the points made about the alleged "apathy" of the residents. I was at the site of the statue from dawn 'till dusk on the day of the removal, (I'll be sharing some video on my website soon,) and I was struck by how many people of all kinds stopped in complete surprise at what was happening.

Despite the rally, the efforts by CB9, the exposure through the Chronicle, Daily News, and others, so many people simply had no idea the statue was slated for removal until they saw it happening before their eyes. It's not that they didn't care. On the contrary, they were unpleasantly shocked and left the scene dejected, gaping in confusion and loss.

The sad reality no one wants to discuss, is that most people in this area have a long commute to and from often grueling jobs, language barriers, and few political connections that would proactively inform and genuinely work to represent their interests rather than just seeming to. They want to know more, but it's hard to find the time, chase down the information, or know what to do about it.

This issue was an eye-opener, and it's why I'm running for City Council in 2013 for D29 on a platform to push for much more transparency in city government. The 2.24 million or so Queens residents are a sleeping giant, which if awakened even modestly could do a lot to check the abuses, and redirect the bureaucracy to work in their favor by their sheer numbers. I am working to get my campaign website up with the details.