cupcake preservation?

cupcake as landmark?

I know I'm going to regret bringing the subject up again, and not only because the additional notoriety may only be what the owners of Burgers & Cupcakes want. But I did a post one month ago reporting that the pink cupcake would come down by the beginning of April. It's still there today, so I feel obliged to do a follow-up.

Melanie La Rocca of the office of our local City Council member Chris Quinn was told by the Department of Transportation [DOT] that the B&C owners did not have a valid permit even for a conventional framed sidewalk canopy, and that the mechanical "cupcake" mounted on the top of the unauthorized structure which is there now could not be permitted in any case, because it would be a violation of city statute. [sidewalk canopies cannot feature advertising, lights, mechanical devices or even the business's phone number]

I was informed of this on March 2, and at that time La Rocca also said that the DOT had told her the owners had 30 days to comply with the law, meaning the cupcake would have to be removed, even if a proper permit for the canopy itself could be registered by then. I read later, in a report in a local newspaper, Chelsea Now, that the violation wasn't actually issued until March 15 or 22 (the exact date reference wasn't clear in the article).

Today the owners initiated their "save the cupcake!" campaign with both cutesy hand-made signs and printed fliers outside the restaurant calling for support from anyone willing to buy something from among the scattershot reasons they give for wanting their cupcake preserved.

1.) [the DOT order is a] "beaurocratic [sic] boondoggle,"
2.) "The cupcake brightens a dreary street."
3.) "Everyone in the neighborhood loves our cool sign."
4.) ". . . now they are messing with a twenty thousand dollar cupcake."
5.) ". . . loosing [sic] it will hurt our new business."
6.) "I'm sick and tired of the city having their hands all over my business."
I guess they think the same New York which recently wasn't interested in saving an authentic landmark, like the former Huntington Hartford Museum, designed by Edward Durell Stone, is going to be interested in rescuing their cupcake.

Let me describe once again the reason for my interest in this admittedly less than life-and-death issue: A large lighted, revolving plastic cupcake mounted above a public sidewalk, and in fact perched virtually on the street curb, is an encroachment upon a public way. The sidewalk is part of the street, not of the building lot whose property line ends where the pavement begins. There are certainly safety issues for drivers and pedestrians as well, explaining why it's the Department of Transportation which has responsibility here, but I'll leave the details of addressing those subjects to the professionals. As a citizen I am most concerned with the danger of commercial encroachment and the precedent it would establish.

These are our streets; they can't be turned over to the highest bidder.

Okay, although it is not and could not be the basis for the complaint I registered with the DOB last December, I admit that I do think the pink and brown shop and its canopy are both truly ugly. Also, unlike the B&C owners I do not think my street is "dreary", and I believe the clutter and crude disruption created by their ugly little shop adds nothing of value to the streetscape. I repeat, these are my personal opinions and nothing more, but if we are talking about aesthetics, I believe, ironically, that it's only the cupcake itself which might be worthy of a first, even a second look from a civilized New Yorker - if it were installed in an appropriate context.

I am not for the cupcake.

Our block is not the least bit dreary -- more Chelsea Hotel gothic.

I do however think it's almost delightfully kitschy. Almost. I think John Waters would like it, so it gives me slight pause.

But I repeat. I am not for the cupcake.

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Published on April 5, 2007 4:33 PM.

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