Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Can’t We All Get Along in Alphabet City

(Reader’s note: not much, if anything, will be going up here during IAJE (1/10-1/13). Look for reports shortly thereafter. If not attending IAJE, check out Deanna’s concert Fri. night at St. Peter’s.)

Yesterday, I received an e-mail press release about a jazz family feud going on in Alphabet City. Evidently, 5C Café on Avenue C is struggling to continue as a performance venue because of a motion filed by Jemeel Moondoc, an avant-garde jazz saxophonist living on the fifth floor of their building. Under a court order live performances are only allowed until 7:00 PM weeknights and 9:00 PM Fri. and Sat. nights. According to the PR, also posted on 5C’s website:

“Moondoc, president of the CO-OP that houses 5C Café, called the police while Roy Campbell, Susie Ibarra and Reuben Radding were performing on Saturday afternoon October 7, 1995 claiming the music disturbed the residents. Two weeks later he asked a Supreme Court judge to slap a sound injunction on 5C that permitted only string instruments. Finally in 2004, a higher court overturned the string instruments only part of the injunction as unconstitutional but left the hours in place.”

5C is putting on a PR push, asking for public support at court hearing scheduled this Fri. They are also turning up the heat, taking aim at Moondoc’s livelihood, urging: “Musicians can support the cause by NOT hiring and NOT performing with him. Booking agents can support the cause by not hiring him.”

I’m sympathetic to businesses unfairly targeted by zoning regulations—particularly those that provide services I enjoy, like jazz performances. One should reasonably expect a certain amount of noise when living in Alphabet City in the first place. Still, we should reserve complete judgment until Moondoc has a chance to make his case. One certainty is that he needs to enlist some PR help fast. I suspect this is the kind of “odd but true” story about infighting Downtown hipsters which could get picked up beyond New York. I’ll refrain from making snarky comments about the obvious ironies aside from saying this is pretty far a field from the Alphabet City of Rent.