Tuesday, March 31, 2009

At the 2009 Unemployment Olympics

The Unemployment Olympics are under way now in Tompkins Square Park. Hard to say whether there are more contestants (athletes?) or reporters on the scene.

After waiting in line to sign up, you waited in line to take part in the first activity of the day, Pin the Blame on the Boss.

Organizer Nick Goddard had to ask the assembled reporters to move back several times...the media kept inching closer to the Pin the Tail sign, and there wasn't enough room for the participants to spin and pin.

There are other activities planned, including the Fax Machine Toss (which looks suspiciously like a phone), the You're Fired Race and a stress-relieving piñata.

All of this got old pretty quickly. The reporters got their cutesy, "aw, we're-having-fun-in the-recession!" soft news bit and started to leave. Curiosity seekers had time to gawk.

Some Pin the Blame on the Boss video:


Anonymous said...

When I read your post below, I thought you were being a little too hard on these kids. I mean when we all decided to put on wigs and troop to the park, I am sure people thought we were jerks.

What bothers me is the media. Christ can't they keep out of the EV? This isn't news. It's not even original or creative like the Idiotarod.

Then I thought back and remembered how stunned I was the first time I remember the Times writing about other than a crime or urban blight in the East Village. Maybe like 1988 or so? It was so unusual it stuck out. But I guess considering twitter, taking your garbage out is a media event now.

EV Grieve said...

Thanks for the comment, anon. I really had mixed feelings on all this. I feel badly for anyone who loses a job -- someone like one of these kids who worked as, say, a computer programmer and just got shoved out in a corporate numbers game. What they decided to do was harmless enough. A little candyassed for my tastes. But...Let them have some fun. I probably was a little too hard on them in the previous post.

I'm with you, though. The actual Olympics seems to be the secondary story now. I am curious about how this turned into such a media clusterfuck. As far as I can tell, the Daily News was the first to do a feature (Saturday)...and the story got picked up on the AP wire. And today, Christ, I couldn't even count how many news outlets were there. Did someone from the Olympics send out a media advisory? Given the frenzy, you would have thought that Lindsay Lohan was playing Pin the Blame on the Boss. I left and came back around 3:20 or so. Most everyone had left...the organizer was still there, leaning against the fence, doing some interviews.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I've been living in the EV since 1977 - like Sheena I was a punk rocker. I used to tear my hair out about gentrification (like since 1990), but now I have a really different approach - actually a more punk rock approach. Fuck it, let it get destroyed. It's all interesting.

(I have had heartbreaking moments mostly when mom and pops go. There was a BUTTON store on 1st Ave in Momofuko country, can you imagine? Two little - like 5 feet tall, husband and wife - Jewish refugees from WW2. An entire store devoted to buttons. I always felt bad for the guy, he would go to help you and and after about 2 minutes his wife would roll her eyes and grab the button box out of his hands and help you. He couldn't do anything right, it was a chuckle every time.) I don't mourn for the EV scene anymore, because frankly, once we realized it was a scene it was already gone.

When I read this, Vanishing NY and Lost City, I think geez they're pissed off about how much less fun it is now, they'd be suicidal if they knew how really fun it was like 1980. But you guys do a great job.

One more thing that pains me: When I remember Miguel Pinero's A Lower East Side poem. Then what's gone on seems like the most unholy desecration.

EV Grieve said...

Thanks -- I appreciate the comment.

I should post or link to Pinero's poem some time -- for people who may not be familiar with it...