Food & Drink

Nethermead or N$th$rm$ad?

10

It’s pretty likely that you would be happy never to hear the words Great GoogaMooga again (at least for another year). Between the insane ramp-up to last weekend’s food and music festival, live reports from the festival, the post-event reviews, and the (surprising but laudable) decision by Superfly to refund all the $250 “Extra” tickets, it’s understandable if all you Brooklyn blog readers are GoogaMoogaed out. But this post is only tangentially about (and this is the last time I’ll mention it**) GoogaMooga.

It’s really about the Nethermead itself. In case you didn’t notice, there was another huge event there back in April–much smaller, much less publicized, and much, much stranger. Did anyone stumble, as I did, on Singapore Day? Having just visited–and loved–Singapore last summer, my wife and I couldn’t resist following our noses to the Nethermead when we saw the signs up around the park. What we found was basically a large-scale pitch for ex-patriot Singaporeans to return to their native city state. After going through truly Singaporean security…

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…we entered a little makeshift village with various tents meant to sell the excitement of different Singaporean industries to us. Well, not to us because, again, this was about energizing nationalistic feelings in Singaporeans who, for one reason or another, had felt the need to leave Singapore for New York. And one of the largest industries in Singapore is its military (mostly because they have mandatory conscription followed by mandatory reserve duty until the age of 40). So naturally, the military aura was everywhere and there was a special tent dedicated to National Service:

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And in said tent there were all sorts of videos and models and demos of the military’s capabilities, including this fairly disturbing mock crime scene:

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and in close-up (in case you missed the splatter):

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That, coupled with this and the fact that they had run out of food (one of the best things about Singapore along with its just innate bizarreness) were our cues to exit.

But this begs the question–has the Nethermead historically been as full of large-scale, corporate events as it has been lately? Sure, it has a Music Pagoda, but come on. The Q at Parkside brought up a good point at the time about Singapore Day organizers attempting to violate parks policy by essentially discriminating. It’s possible that the Prospect Park Alliance is using these events to help raise the remaining $7.4 million it needs for completing the Lakeside Project, but at what cost to the park itself?

In an email announcement this week, Prospect Park Alliance administrator Emily Lloyd said these events are needed for the upkeep of the park. “With government money for parks from all levels shrinking and many foundation grants stretched thin, we must seek new ways to raise money to keep the park clean and maintained,” she said. “The Alliance now pays over two-thirds of the cost of operating the park day-to-day. An occasional large sponsored event, free to the public, is one of the main ways that organizations such as ours can build the capacity to care for the park.”

GoogaMooga (damn! I tried.) was extremely vigilant about trash pick-up, recycling, composting, etc., etc. during the event, but I do wonder what the impact of having so many people in that space so often will do to it–both physically and spiritually. Even the PPA itself describes the Nethermead as a “rolling meadow” that gives “the impression of being deep in the forest.” Sounds like it’s meant to be pretty bucolic.

I’m not sure if and when there will be another large-scale gathering there anytime soon, but what do you think? Are these huge events boons or detriments to Propsect Park and/or our area of Brooklyn? (And, we know, they create traffic snarls. But so does any big event anywhere in NYC. Can we agree that’s a given no matter where these things are held?)

While you’re thinking about it, giggle yourself silly over this faux menu distributed outside the festival last weekend and bequeathed to the blogosphere by our friends across the park at F’ed in Park Slope. Seriously. Listen to the Hamageddon Pig below, who says…

"CHEESE AND FISH ARE FREE!"

**Except to say that I actually went on Sunday and had a really great time. I’ve heard from others that Saturday was much more insane–possibly because of the The Roots playing or because of the misguided GoogaMoola card system, which was apparently ditched for Sunday. Bottom line–for all the annoying media saturation, it’s definitely worth checking out next year. I’d recommend the second day.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. How else is the Park going to have enough money to clean up after all the barbecues during the summer?  It takes an army to clean the park.  The city clearly has no interest in funding the Parks Department with anywhere near the budget it needs.  Even though we as locals lose some access to the park during these events, the truth is that these outside groups pay for cleaning up the messes that our own neighbors make while grilling and picnicking. 

  2. There is clearly too much commercial use of the park.  Families want to enjoy the park on weekends, and restricting the entire Nethermead multiple says on the same weekend is too much.  Sadly, alot of the people who use the park are pigs.  I frequently run and/or bike in the park on weekday mornings before going to work and Mondays in the summer are so depressing.  I don’t understand why people can’t take their garbage out of the part after their barbecues. 

  3. Why don’t the park  authorities enforce rules requiring people to clean up after a picnic or bar b que? Put up signs and hand out flyers warning people they must clean up after themselves or they will be fined. Then have park officers present when people are leaving and enforce the law.

    As for large events corporate events, I don’t think they should be allowed. Find another way to raise the money. Get more people to join the PPA and sell merchandise, etc. Find large donors.

  4. I don’t know how much $$ the GoogaMooga promoters paid for their occuancy of the Nethermead, I hope it is enough to repair the large parts of the lawn torn up from trucks and temporary structures they left there for most of a week.

  5. I, too stumbled into Singapore Day.  It was so weird that it could have
    landed from deep space.  Does anyone know if there is a large population
    of Singaporeans in Brooklyn?  If not, how did Singapore find the
    Nethermead?   The high security searches, necessity for ‘registering’, and lack of bicycle parking (this is a park, after all) was particularly upsetting.

  6. It says a lot about our city that we can’t even fund our own damn parks without selling out to corporate events or getting on our knees to wealthy donors.

  7. I would love to see some sort of breakdown showing how much money the park got for these sorts of events and what that money is actually used for in our park. 

  8. might be in the PPA 990 (which is a public document) or in their annual report…  I love the post which directs them to go find some rich donors…I bet they have a development department and I would bet they are trying very hard to do just that!  Not so easy…

  9. In fact here it is from their 2010 Annual Report: 

    RevenueIndividuals 1,794,024Corporations 589,980Foundations 1,390,372Government 1,607,922Fund-raising events (net of costs) 290,297Design and construction fees 1,426,751Sales, rentals and fees 3,834,857Investment income 80,277Gains on investments 230,175Total revenue 5,572,060Total Income 11,244,655

  10. 100% agree. I go to the park on weekends with my dog and spend a lot of time keeping him & other pooches out of all the garbage. Yes, yes, enforcement, but that costs more than the additional trash cans that already don’t exist to contend with the overflow. Yes the park is overused and undercleaned, but ALSO I have seen teams (and their families) trash their own play space at the Parade Grounds with a trash can just yards away from them. It defies reason.

    Yes let’s join PPA but let’s also not be slobs, what do you say, Brooklyn?

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