Right, right CBGB’s is a rock landmark, sort of like Graceland but without shag carpet, I get that. And now that they’re faced with eviction, bunches of folks are raising hell. The club’s landlord is the Bowery Residence Committee, a non-profit group that aids the homeless. The irony is that somehow this group of do-gooders has become the villian in this little melodrama.
Let me get this right – CBGB’s didn’t pay thier rent. Why? They claim they didn’t “know”; and they didn’t “know” because they didn’t read their fucking lease. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see Joe Schmoe American try that:
“I’m sorry Mr. IRS Agent, I just didn’t KNOW I had to claim that $50,000 as income.”
Yes, go to jail, go directly to jail. Do not pass Go, do not collect 200 bucks.
On August 11, a judge has ruled in CBGB’s favor and declined the eviction (obviously the BRC is appealing), but this has no effect on whether or not CBGB’s will be given a new lease when the current one expires at the end of August.
Today I receive an email from a music video distributor about this situation, naturally urging everyone to “help” CBGB’s but writing a letter. They’re even considerate enough to include a draft for you. It reads, in part:
CBGBs evolving art and music have helped generate thousands of jobs for the city while the BRC is non-profit charity almost exclusively funded by the city and state.
I am offended by this statement in so many ways I hardly know where to begin. Non-profit is a tax designation reserved for an organization that serves the public interest. It does NOT mean that the business itself generates no revenue. Many hospitals and universities are considered non-profit, and while they may receive grants (both public and PRIVATE), they also ‘charge’ for their services. Being non-profit, in the simplest terms, means that a business is exempt from federal corporate taxes and must end their fiscal year with a zero balance, reinvesting all their finances back into the “public interest” they serve instead of carting it home in their pockets like other companies.
BRC is in the business of helping the homeless: getting them off the street, linking them with mental health professionals (cuz yeah, you self-righteous prick, a huge percentage of the homeless are mentally ill, and oh btw, community mental health centers are non-profit too) or perhaps drug counselors (yes, more non-profits), assisting them with education (you guessed it – NON-PROFIT) and ultimately finding them a job and their own independence.
And what does CBGB’s do? Throw really righteous punk and rock shows and give a bunch of people a reason to throw on their sexy clothes, get really drunk and go home with a stranger.
I’m so enraged I’ve delved into untold sarcastic depths.
Non-profits not only provide jobs for the folks they employ, their goal is improve the quality of life for those they serve. This, in turn, will hopefully allow their client base to contribute greater things to society; gainful employment, better employement or hey – starting their own business.
On the other hand, I’m really confused about the “thousands” of jobs supposedly created by CBGBs. Am I supposed to believe that EVERY band who plays the club will go on to have a momentous career in the music industry? More than likely, they’ll end up needing the services of BRC! But seriously, how are we categorizing “jobs”?
Here are the issues underlying the new lease:
1. There are numerous building code violations that CBGB’s has yet to rectify.
This means the building is UNSAFE. The plumbing could burst, an electrical fire could start, the ceiling could cave in. You know, small details.
2. The landlord wants to raise the rent and CBGB’s is whining about it.
Right or not, this is capitalism at is finest. Economics 101 is about supply and demand, and any rational property owner is going to charge the highest amount of rent they think the neighborhood will support.
Which brings me back to my original complaint, refering to the BRC as a “non-profit charity almost exclusively funded by the city and state”.
Wrong. The BRC is funded by the RENT that CBGB’s refuses to pay. And because they’re non-profit, they don’t have piles of money sitting around to cover the expenses of the building. So while CBGB’s holds fundraisers and whines about how horrible their landlord is, the homeless of New York, BRC’s client base, are going without food, clothing, shelter and other needed services.
Sounds like a fine cause to me.