Dear Ms. Isaacs,
I have read your current column [Culture Club] in the 7/13/01 edition of the Reader with much amusement and not a small sense of irony considering my former relationship to the Flat Iron Building and one of its most celebrated former tenants, the Around the Coyote festival.
It certainly brings back old memories, including one called the “Millennium Clock Tower” project, which I initially proposed in the fall of 1993 directly to the late Jim Happy-Delpech, the original founder and former president of that organization. At the time, there was a proposal for ATC to develop a sister cities project with a small depressed English factory town called Harlston, which lies just northwest of London. Tasked with developing an interesting international concept, I proposed having a real-time video hookup that included the use of corresponding 24-hour operational video cameras facing the street and placed directly before a battery of articulated monitors, which in turn would display the live feed of the other monitors overseas in real time. In that pre-Webcam, formative Internet era, this idea was ambitious, considering the waning sponsorship that ATC was suffering due in part to its controversial status as an easy target for specious harangues by parties interested in quick and easy publicity over the topic of its indirect promotion of “neighborhood gentrification.” I subsequently created some 3-D rendered artwork that illustrated these concepts, and incorporated it within a small computer-animated piece converted to video, and subsequently provided numerous VHS copies of this presentation to the board members to use for fund-raising and promotional purposes.
Another irony came in the form of the continued intense pressure from one Bob Berger (then a fellow ATC board member) to shut down ATC due to its offices in the spring of 1994 being too far in arrears (a matter of some $3,000 of back due rent for the offices).
From my perspective, Mr. Berger, for all his seeming willingness for community involvement, was an impresario only when his name seemed to be directly connected with a project and had no compunction on pulling the plug on an organization that did not fit in directly with his immediate ambitions. This is nothing out of the ordinary today of course, just the practice of “good” business.
But the thought that he may have cooked up an independent scheme of this nature on his own, as opposed to just co-opting one somewhat older and moldier seems highly suspicious. Of course, the potential invasion of privacy aspect can be attributed to only him alone.
Artist and former ATC
board member 1993-’94