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November 28, 2007

Post-Black-Friday @ Hotel Penn

Rob @ 2:03 PM

At work, people are still talking about the fabulous stuff they bought on "Black Friday." I think I liked that term better back in my retail days, when it was just something my fellow mall proprietors and I said when either being hopeful about the expected receipts ("Thanks to Black Friday, we get to go on eating food!") or bitchy about the angry hordes of vicious, rude consumers ("MotherfXcking Black Friday. Don't you people have anything better to do than make me hate life more?")

I used to call it "Buy Nothing Day," and I still don't take part in the holiday retailgasm (I prefer to make my few holiday purchases either insanely early or hideously late) but this past Friday I did have to buy a pair of gloves from a hotel gift shop.

Why, you doubtless aren't wondering, were my hands cold?

Many of you know how much I dig the Hotel Pennsylvania, and of my cheerful involvement with the Save the Hotel movement. About a week earlier, we had the bright idea to use Black Friday to get our message out there a bit.

There ended up being about six of us there, on the sidewalk in front of the Hotel in full-on activist mode, during ~40F temperatures and strong winds. We passed out flyers, chanted a bit, and let people know what was going on.

The single thing that really sets this cause apart from the various other political movements I've publicly supported like that, is how universal the approval has been. Whether on the Internet, in person, in public, or in private, whenever I've described my position on something, there has always been a certain amount of backlash. That's all part of activism of course, and I'm always just as willing to hear others' sides of the issue as to describe mine. Debates are often a good thing. In this case, however, pretty much every last person I've encountered has been supportive of our plight. They just didn't know it was going on.

Once they find out, it's amazing the stories one hears back from people. People worked there, stayed there, heard the songs, seen the films, etc. The sheer amount of local grandparents that worked, played, or met each other there is staggering. (My own late grandfather reportedly worked there as a bellhop for a while.) And others just don't want to see yet another piece of the old city turn into yet another cold skyscraper full of billboards.

The rally went smoothly. A couple of journalists showed up and spoke with us. The public was highly supportive. Even the tour-bus-flyer guys, who at first seemed a bit peeved that we were hanging around their area, were supportive once they learned what we were up to.

Normally, whenever people hand out flyers on any NYC street corner, you'll find stacks of them in the adjoining corners' trash cans from folks who took them to be polite, and chucked them at the first opportunity. I checked when we packed up for the day, and there were about three in the trash out of the ~500 we handed out.

I still have the gloves. They're pleasantly warm.

2 Responses to “Post-Black-Friday @ Hotel Penn”

  1. Mara says:

    Damn. I hardly *ever* go shopping, but I really *needed* to buy something last Friday...otherwise I wouldn't have, and would have successfully - though unintentionally - participated in "Buy Nothing Day."

    There's always next year.

    /me is glad your hands are warm :)

  2. Cyrus says:

    I regret not taking a part in the event. But perhaps the uniqueness of the cause you are supporting triggered some people to save the flyers you were distributing. Otherwise, they would have been something you stuff in the trash.

    Did you come across anyone from Vornado?

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