Nov. 10 – A Message from Matt Levy, Panorama Challenge Host Extraordinaire!

The Gentleman Matt Levy (Photo: Jennifer MacFarlane)

Civic-minded New Yorkers, Americans and Citizens of the World. What a wondrous day it is to be alive. To feel the power of democracy shut the door to the maddening intimations of tyranny. How the true power of the people was able to tell a bigot and a despot that Hell No, We Don’t Want Four Mo’ Years. I can’t think of a more apt description of civic mindedness – the true power and pride in a city, any city, and its citizens. And at least here, in Brooklyn USA, there is one magnificent epicenter of civic-minded democracy, one IRL location that is by the people, for the people, and established to the people. I speak, of course, of the City Reliquary.

The first time I noticed the City Reliquary I was riding my bicycle through the streets of Williamsburg, probably on a gorgeous spring afternoon. As I was barrelling towards Grand street at the corner of Havemeyer, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye that was enough to make me think. . . what is this? I slowed down to inspect the curiosity – it was an art installation, displayed in a glass vitrine on the street-facing walls of a non-descript residential two story apartment building. But no, it was a series of DIY historical markers that the creator had lovingly detailed with Victorian-style lettering. But no, it was a personal collection of Statuettes of Liberties, with no overarching educational purposes at all – it was just some weirdo’s arty collection. But no, it was a Cabinet of Curiosities, focusing on NYC history and ephemera. Cool I thought, this is weird. . . and off I went.

A few months later, or maybe years later, honestly time is relative, I was riding my trusty bicycle once more when I passed what seemed to be a bodega, done up in the same aesthetic as a weird, wonderful, DIY exhibition, occupying an actual storefront space on Metropolitan, around the corner from that humble little windowbox display. Some maniacs had decided to open up an honest-to-goodness museum, without asking the art world, or the historical world, or the museum world, or anybody, really, for permission. It was wild and renegade and dorky and NYC-know-it-all-nerdtastic. I was absolutely hooked from day one. 

I introduced myself to the President and VP and they asked what my skill set was. I replied “Well, I’m a NYC tour guide, and a native Brooklynite, and a performance poet, and I’m loud and I have a funny moustache and I like to throw events.” They said “Fantastic! Would you like to be the Event Director?” Which is how I got involved with the City Reliquary. I also didn’t have any permission or information behind what I was doing, in life, in art, in education, in anything really. I just threw myself into whatever passion was at hand and I took it to wherever it would take me.

Which is the entire aesthetic behind this “Collection of collections of NYC stuff.” It’s thrown together by passionate people who love the old New York, the new New York, the forever New York, and want to preserve the intangible and tangible parts of the city that are being gentrified away, or corporatized away, or sanitized away, or normalized away. And it’s people like you, friends of the CR, members of the CR, passers-by of the CR who are to thank for its continued existence. It’s also people like you who are the ones we turn to in times of financial straits. Passion can only get us so far. We need the support of the people to get us the rest of the way. 

You can donate as little or as much as you’d like – gifts include blah blah blah – but without your generosity, the CR’s magical passion-fueled place in the heart of a changing Brooklyn will cease to be. And we won’t let that happen. Because passionate NYers like me, like you are what truly make New York New York. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Always Civic,

Matt Levy, Levy’s Unique New York

In honor of Matt Levy’s Covert Cocktail Club, he has named our Membership tiers after famous NYC cocktails this week:

$10/month – Old Fashioned Level

$20/month – Paper Plane Level

$30/month – Penicillin Level

$50/month – Manhattan Level

He says: I chose these cocktail donation level titles because all of them were (ostensibly) invented in NYC and each of them is a delicious, transportative historical lesson in what NYC used to be, and what fueled the imbibers of the day as they caroused, sang, danced, enjoyed life and participated in the great civic lesson of our time – being a citizen of New York City.

Bookmark and Share

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply