Monday, December 06, 2010

JC Leyendecker Lives on Franklin Avenue


top: a new t-shirt design, coming soon from About Time Boutique.
above:
Jamie Hef's mural for the pawn shop.


J.C. Leyendecker does not actually live on Franklin Avenue. The turn-of-the-century artist and illustrator was born in Germany, moved to Chicago (where, like the lady, he attended the School of the Art Institute), and lived out his days in New Rochelle, creating more than 300 covers for the Saturday Evening Post along the way. Were it not for Norman Rockwell (whose work is currently on display at the Brooklyn Museum), he'd be the most famous Post cover artist, but second-place to the guy who painted "The Four Freedoms" ain't half bad.

So why are we talking about J.C. Leyendecker? Two weeks back, when I posted a notice about the CHCA's special meeting regarding the pawn shop, I linked Nostrand Park's post about the new mural that the owner commissioned from local artist Jamie Hef. Predictably, the post got a lot of comments, as did Nostrand Park's, and we both received one from "yuppiekillah" that read as follows:

Hay yuppies… lets start your art education now…. if you guys had any culture or any love for art then you all would have done your research on the art your so aggressively slandering..that baby is actually a reference that is about a hundred years old from a well know artist by the name of Joseph Christian Leyendecker (March 23, 1874 – July 25, 1951)who was one of the pre-eminent American illustrators of the early 20th century. He is best known for his poster, book, and advertising illustrations, the trade character known as The Arrow Collar Man, and his numerous covers for the Saturday Evening Post. Between 1896 and 1950, Leyendecker painted more than 400 magazine covers. During ‘The Golden Age of American Illustration’, for the Saturday Evening Post alone, J. C. Leyendecker produced 322 covers, as well as many advertisement illustrations for its interior pages. No other artist, until the arrival of Norman Rockwell two decades later, was so solidly identified with one publication. Leyendecker “virtually invented the whole idea of modern magazine design.” He also influenced Norman Rockwell, who, if your cultured(pun intended)??? should know is one of the most popular artist of modern illustrations….learn something people and learn something through art every once in awhile…..PEACE=Positive Education Always Corrects Errors

Most of the above can be confirmed at Wikipedia (actually, most of the above is copied from Wikipedia), so let's take yuppykillah's advice (incidentally, when the Daily News covered this story last week, they received the same comment, albeit from a poster named "communitypawn," which is the name of the pawn shop's parent company). Google "JC Leyendecker babies" and you get a whole lotta babies. Does Hef's mural evoke Leyendecker's illustrations? I suppose this cover and this one are the closest comparisons, but I'll leave that one up to the readers (if you've got more to say, you can join a productive conversation on Brooklynian, or post something absolutely insane on Yahoo like the rest of the Yahoo commentariat).

Meanwhile, another Franklin Avenue merchant, About Time Boutique, has unveiled a new line, "I am Franklin Ave," that also utilizes a classic Leyendecker image, this Saturday Evening Post cover from Thanksgiving 1921. Who knew that an early-20th century illustrator would play so prominent a role in Crown Heights merchant politics in 2010?

Just one more thing, because I think this has been getting lost in the shuffle: there is actual data out there about the impact pawn shops have on communities, and it reveals that pawn shops are bad for communities, for two reasons: 1) they correlate strongly with increased property crime and 2) they trap people who don't have access to credit in cycles of short-term debt that lead to long-term fiscal problems. Are pawn shops the end of the world, or even the worst thing facing Crown Heights? No, of course not - but crime and debt are serious issues, and I told Bob/Eugene as much when I spoke to him (the data I reference is linked here as well). Sure, pawn shops are legal (though the "jewelery store" may still be a zoning violation, in which case it is illegal), but legal and moral are not the same thing.

So, please, make any and all arguments, especially about the use and abuse of J.C. Leyendecker and babies, but keep these facts in mind (or share some findings that argue differently).

17 comments:

  1. Good post. Glad to see the main issues reiterated: pawn shops are complicit with crime & debt in our community.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good post. Glad to see the main issues reiterated: We live in a country that is ruled by laws, not subjective morality.

    When and if the Jewelry Store violates a law, prosecute the owner.

    However, if you merely think such businesses are a plague, get a law passed to prohibit them.

    ...but don't stop there: go after the liquor stores and everything else that contributes to crime too. You'll be busy.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am really interested in the correlation between pawns shops and crime, but your links aren't working for me! Can you re-link somehow?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think people are over reacting to Jamie Hef's mural. I have read comments on both of the sites you mentioned and I find it very telling that you see the yahoo posters as "insane". The only reason you call them insane is because they're mainly for the mural. Heres a post from the "sane" blog you're talking about... "I am not a Mormon. However I once had two mormon women visit my apartment to share the holy word of the Church of Latter Day Saints. To be honest, I really had a hankering for one of them, and I thought if I could engage them in discourse, I would be able to shake one of them out of the Mormon tree."
    Now here's a post from yahoo, "People have stuff they don't want. They get cash to spend on new things. It's called cash flow; that's how our economy works.
    as for the art - better to see that kid working, than standing on a street corner with his hands in empty pockets. He's going to be busy with new assignments; a lot of talent,"
    Who sounds more insane to you?
    FYI, both have been posting repeatedly on the respective sites.

    ReplyDelete
  5. First, @ Brie, and anyone else who's interested, here are the broken links on crime:

    From the University of Michigan Law School: http://www.law.umich.edu/centersandprograms/lawandeconomics/workshops/Documents/Winter2008/miles.pdf

    From Police Magazine, by the Assistant Chief of the Ft. Lauderdale Police: http://www.fbfl.us/DocumentView.aspx?DID=369

    @ Avi - I did my best to be neutral in the post above, but I clearly didn't live up to your standards. Allow me, then, to clarify my judgment of the respective blogs (both of which, I might add, have featured well-thought-out comments in favor of and opposed to the mural). Brooklynian isn't exactly a bastion of sanity (though you appear to be citing a joke), but a number of the major contributors to the thread on the pawn shop are local folks who know each other and have a real stake in the fate of the neighborhood. The resulting discourse is more accountable - for every comment like the one you found, there are dozens that demonstrate commitment to both productive discourse and the wider community. On Yahoo, I clicked through and saw many more comments offering offensive assessments of Crown Heights ("thug neighborhood," "ghetto," "there are no family values in that hood," etc.), and it pissed me off, so I called it insane. The bigger the message board, the more anonymous it is, and the more crap you get, in my experience (Gothamist being another example).

    As I tried to make clear in the final paragraph, I care far less about the mural (and as a result, I haven't expressed an opinion, despite your assumptions about my motives) than I do about the pawn shop itself, which all the data suggest will increase crime in the community. I recognize there are other serious issues facing Crown Heights, and I do my best to post about them (the work of SOS Crown Heights against gun violence being a prime example), but I'm baffled that people don't think that the threat of increased crime is a legitimate issue. Arguments like the one you cite - "people have stuff they don't want. They get cash to spend on new things" - are ahistorical, unrepresentative, and obscure the actual negative impact of pawn shops - not insane, but certainly problematic. I'm open to arguments that this specific issue is rapidly becoming a losing battle/dead letter (why_not has been making this case on Brooklynian), but I'm not going to concede that pawn shops are just places for happy-go-lucky free market exchange, unless someone produces data to refute the studies above.

    ReplyDelete
  6. First, @ Brie, and anyone else who's interested, here are the broken links on crime:

    From the University of Michigan Law School: http://www.law.umich.edu/centersandprograms/lawandeconomics/workshops/Documents/Winter2008/miles.pdf

    From Police Magazine, by the Assistant Chief of the Ft. Lauderdale Police: http://www.fbfl.us/DocumentView.aspx?DID=369

    @ Avi - I did my best to be neutral in the post above, but I clearly didn't live up to your standards. Allow me, then, to clarify my judgment of the respective blogs (both of which, I might add, have featured well-thought-out comments in favor of and opposed to the mural). Brooklynian isn't exactly a bastion of sanity (though you appear to be citing a joke), but a number of the major contributors to the thread on the pawn shop are local folks who know each other and have a real stake in the fate of the neighborhood. The resulting discourse is more accountable - for every comment like the one you found, there are dozens that demonstrate commitment to both productive discourse and the wider community. On Yahoo, I clicked through and saw many more comments offering offensive assessments of Crown Heights ("thug neighborhood," "ghetto," "there are no family values in that hood," etc.), and it pissed me off, so I called it insane. The bigger the message board, the more anonymous it is, and the more crap you get, in my experience (Gothamist being another example).

    As I tried to make clear in the final paragraph, I care far less about the mural (and as a result, I haven't expressed an opinion, despite your assumptions about my motives) than I do about the pawn shop itself, which all the data suggest will increase crime in the community. I recognize there are other serious issues facing Crown Heights, and I do my best to post about them (the work of SOS Crown Heights against gun violence being a prime example), but I'm baffled that people don't think that the threat of increased crime is a legitimate issue. Arguments like the one you cite - "people have stuff they don't want. They get cash to spend on new things" - are ahistorical, unrepresentative, and obscure the actual negative impact of pawn shops - not insane, but certainly problematic. I'm open to arguments that this specific issue is rapidly becoming a losing battle/dead letter (why_not has been making this case on Brooklynian), but I'm not going to concede that pawn shops are just places for happy-go-lucky free market exchange, unless someone produces data to refute the studies above.

    ReplyDelete
  7. First, @ Brie, and anyone else who's interested, here are the broken links on crime:

    From the University of Michigan Law School: http://www.law.umich.edu/centersandprograms/lawandeconomics/workshops/Documents/Winter2008/miles.pdf

    From Police Magazine, by the Assistant Chief of the Ft. Lauderdale Police: http://www.fbfl.us/DocumentView.aspx?DID=369

    ReplyDelete
  8. @ Avi - I did my best to be neutral in the post above, but I clearly didn't live up to your standards. Allow me, then, to clarify my judgment of the respective blogs (both of which, I might add, have featured well-thought-out comments in favor of and opposed to the mural). Brooklynian isn't exactly a bastion of sanity (though you appear to be citing a joke), but a number of the major contributors to the thread on the pawn shop are local folks who know each other and have a real stake in the fate of the neighborhood. The resulting discourse is more accountable - for every comment like the one you found, there are dozens that demonstrate commitment to both productive discourse and the wider community. On Yahoo, I clicked through and saw many more comments offering offensive assessments of Crown Heights ("thug neighborhood," "ghetto," "there are no family values in that hood," etc.), and it pissed me off, so I called it insane. The bigger the message board, the more anonymous it is, and the more crap you get, in my experience (Gothamist being another example).

    As I tried to make clear in the final paragraph, I care far less about the mural (and as a result, I haven't expressed an opinion, despite your assumptions about my motives) than I do about the pawn shop itself, which all the data suggest will increase crime in the community. I recognize there are other serious issues facing Crown Heights, and I do my best to post about them (the work of SOS Crown Heights against gun violence being a prime example), but I'm baffled that people don't think that the threat of increased crime is a legitimate issue. Arguments like the one you cite - "people have stuff they don't want. They get cash to spend on new things" - are ahistorical, unrepresentative, and obscure the actual negative impact of pawn shops - not insane, but certainly problematic. I'm open to arguments that this specific issue is rapidly becoming a losing battle/dead letter (why_not has been making this case on Brooklynian), but I'm not going to concede that pawn shops are just places for happy-go-lucky free market exchange, unless someone produces data to refute the studies above.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Annnnnnnnd I appear to have posted that three times. I may be a blogger, but I am not terribly tech-savvy.

    ReplyDelete
  10. From the University of Michigan Law School:
    From Police Magazine, by the Assistant Chief of the Ft. Lauderdale Police: http://

    yo nick we live in new york you are such an ass-hole lol

    ReplyDelete
  11. it surprises me sometimes that you quote from Brooklynian. a lot of those people are certifiable. i really think whynot on there is insane. i think most of the posts stem from them have nothing better to do all day.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I like whynot's perspective, and although he posts a lot, he keeps the conversation going. This battle is a loser

    ReplyDelete
  13. it's not a pawn shop. nice post.

    ReplyDelete
  14. @ the guy who called me an a-hole - did you read the articles? The one from University of Michigan is a national study that includes data from New York. The one from Florida is just a good illustration of what police think about pawnshops, and based on what the 77th Precinct folks said when this issue first came up, they agree.

    ReplyDelete
  15. To the person calling Nick an a-hole, if you can't express yourself in a civil manner please don't blog.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Nick-
    You write above that you are "baffled that people don't think that the threat of increased crime is a legitimate issue", and that the police you have spoken with agree that pawnshops attract crime.

    For the sake of argument, lets assume the closely related We Buy Gold and Electronics stores have the same effect.

    I'll even point out that additional "evidence" of your belief that such businesses cause crime, by pointing out that many communities have passed specific ordinances and zoning which either explicitly prohibit or highly restrict such businesses. Porn and liquor stores are often subject to similar regulations.

    As one might expect, the communities are often located outside of NYC. For example, it is my understanding that the little towns and villages in Westchester have regulations and zoning that is artfully composed by highly paid lawyers.

    NYC is a different environment: A well funded Chamber of Commerce seems to fight any restrictions on businesses. An overwhelmed, disorganized, and bickering City Council attempts to focus on more urgent matters. An overwhelmed Building Department is barely able to enforce the laws already on the books, and benefits from the disorganization of the City Council ....and on and on.

    In such a chaotic environment, CHCA's best strategy may be to focus on getting desirable businesses to locate on Franklin Avenue, or to make those already on the Avenue to be more desirable.

    As the present situation with the jewelry and electronics store shows, business owners are not always going to abide by the organization's wishes and efforts.

    In those situations, there is wisdom in taking a step back before fighting.

    CHCA should make a realistic assessment of the resources and cleverness of its opponent.

    CHCA should also realize that fewer people are willing to actively oppose a business that is seemingly in compliance with local laws and regulations, than one located in the wrong zone.

    Even given these constraints, winning such a fight might be possible, but it may take a tremendous amount of effort and time.

    We also must not rule out the possibility of defeat.

    As a dinky community organization I believe its resources could be far better spent.


    On a related subject, I have this strange urge to comment on the little discussion regarding Brooklynian's Whynot poster. As you might infer, he is a creature near and dear to my heart.

    When I read his posts he seems to be advising CHCA to "pick the low hanging fruit first" and gracefully abandon the fight in order to not make the situation worse.

    Fear not, I'm pretty sure he:
    a. is as opposed to crime as most people

    b. has accepted that fact that sometimes others will perceive him as insane.

    c. uses the internet when he is supposed to be doing other things.

    d. makes sure he is available to meet people in real life.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Nick,

    ILFA is the sane alternative to the Brooklynian.

    xo

    ReplyDelete