Airbnb Host Creates Petition To Confront New York Lawmakers
New York’s horse and buggy losing ground to animal rights group
But not for long. When it gets dark, he says, he’ll take out his camera he doesn’t use a flash and go looking for “pockets of light” or well-lit streets and see what he finds. The random anonymous people (and occasional dog) he snaps will join his voluminous collection, Humans of New York, an ongoing blog and now a book (St. Martin’s Press, on sale Tuesday). New York and its colorful populace have proved irresistible to Stanton, 29, who made his way to the city three years ago after losing his job as a bond trader in Chicago. He has photographed about 5,000 New Yorkers of every age, every ethnic background, in every imaginable outfit (and usually in broad daylight). What started as a hobby became a passion and a profession, after he nearly starved the first year, he admits. “New York has the biggest, most eclectic collection of people in the world,” says the affable Stanton, whose work found a distinctive edge when he began talking to his subjects. Brandon Stanton in his element, photographing the ”Humans of New York.’ (Photo: John Berube) His photos are accompanied by little stories. “It’s become much more of a storytelling blog than a photography blog,” says Stanton, who looks for people he can talk to, often sitting on benches, or walking alone. Conversations can last from 15 seconds to 10 minutes, but, he says, “When I hear my caption, I know it.” One day he shot an old man in a wheelchair his wild white hair and beard forming a pillowy halo around his intense face. The caption: “I look like God, don’t I”? Stanton takes his Canon EOS 5D Mark III out in the city every day, averaging about six portraits. He likes the subway (“there’s always interesting stuff going on down there,” he laughs) and especially parks, with Central Park a frequent backdrop. About one out of every three potential subjects declines to be photographed, but many happily share a secret sliver of themselves.
In one hollow section of the block, Banksy had painted a priest; in the other, a man giving confession. (There appeared to be human feces on the street a step away, though likely not as part of the artwork.) The images were facing a busy street, but so many people came to see the artwork that authorities brought in a backhoe to turn it around so that it would face the sidewalk, perhaps averting a Banksy-related car crash. Cyrus Blaze, 19, a student at Cooper Union, watched the whole process and took a video of it with his phone, which he posted on Instagram . He thinks the artists work is funny and smart, but other students arent so forgiving. A lot of people are pissed off because there are so many crowds of people coming around our school, acknowledging Banksy but not acknowledging our schools issues, he said. (Cooper Union has provided its students with full-tuition scholarships, but will be ending that policy next fall because of financial issues). Some students, including Blaze, think that the man in the confessional mural looks a bit like the embattled president of Cooper Union, Jamshed Bharucha . Then someone altered the image of the priest, adding a fuzzy white beard and Cooper Unions logo to his necklace, to make him look like the founder of Cooper Union, Peter Cooper, who was caricatured for his fuzzy white beard. People saw it an an opportunity to bring awareness to our school, Blaze said of the alterations, adding that Banksy might have been trying to make a point about Cooper Union in the first place. Much of Banksy’s New York work has been tagged or added to by other graffiti artists hoping to ride the artists’ fame. Some New Yorkers have tried to use Banksys work, which is free to see, to earn some extra dough. A group of men in East New York put a piece of cardboard over a Banksy mural of a stenciled beaver, and charged visitors $20 to see it, according to the New York Post.
New Yorkers hustle to catch Banksy street art
“Nobody wants to pet a fender.” ‘VERY NEW YORK’ Clinton Park Stables, home to 78 horses, sits on the far west side of Manhattan, a 20 minute ride from Central Park. It was built in the 1880s for street sweepers’ horses. “Because this is an urban stable, every square foot is used for something,” said Hansen, as she led a tour past old-fashioned carriages, manufactured in Indiana, and a blacksmith working on a horseshoe along a row of 80-square-foot stalls. The rules regulating the carriage industry are set by the city. Horses work no more than 9 hours a day, and every year spend at least five weeks on a farm. A veterinarian examines every horse twice a year and city inspectors visit regularly. Hansen, a former doctoral student in French history, jokes that the stable has more inspections “than a day-care facility.” Over the last 30 years, three horses have died in traffic accidents – in 1985, 1990 and 2006. New York Class counts 19 accidents over the last two years that resulted in injury, but the carriage industry says most of them were minor incidents. For Allie Feldman, executive director of New York Class, the solution is simple: Horses don’t belong in traffic and an eco-friendly motorized alternative could catch on with tourists. “It retains the romantic, classic, nostalgic feel that you would get in a horse-drawn carriage, only it doesn’t have the smell, it doesn’t have the cruelty and it’s much more safe,” she said. “We think we’re offering a really fair compromise.” On Central Park South, across from the Plaza Hotel, Charlene Dertinger, 46, a native New Yorker celebrating a new job with a ride around the park, said it would be a shame to lose that tradition. “I want to treat myself,” said Dertinger. “I’m just going to sit by myself and enjoy the scenery.” A few strides away, Hazel and Terry Watkins, retired visitors from Australia, were disembarking from their trip, which included a stop at the John Lennon “Imagine” memorial.
“The New York attorney general has subpoenaed the records of almost all of our New York hosts,” Airbnb’s global head of community Douglas Atkin wrote in the e-mail. “We are fighting the subpoena with all we’ve got, but poorly written laws make for even worse enforcement, and unless you help to stop it once and for all, the laws may never get better and New Yorkers will continue to suffer.” The debacle between New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Airbnb has been ongoing over the past year, but it got heated when Schneiderman filed a subpoena earlier this month. The subpoena requests three years’ worth of data on thousands of Airbnb New York hosts. Airbnb has said that it has 225,000 community members in New York. The Attorney General’s office is specifically looking for data on 15,000 hosts — it’s unclear if this includes almost all of Airbnb’s New York hosts. While Airbnb has said that it will cooperate with New York’s lawmakers to root out illegal hotel operators and slumlords, it also filed a motion last week stating the subpoena was “unreasonably broad” and it won’t turn over sweeping amounts of information on hosts who have done no wrong. Schneiderman’s subpoena is based on a 2011 New York state law that makes it illegal for New York residents to rent out a property for less than 29 days. The law is meant to protect renters, so that slumlords don’t force them to leave to make a quick buck on unlicensed hotels and short-term stays. After the petition popped up and Airbnb sent out its e-mail to New York members on Monday, a spokesman from Schneiderman’s office accused the service of fear mongering, according to the Wall Street Journal . Airbnb is “scaring and misleading thousands of well-intentioned New Yorkers and sending lobbyists to Albany to create legal loopholes,” spokesman Matt Mittenthal told the Journal. Airbnb and the New York Attorney General’s office did not immediately respond to CNET’s request for comment. This article originally appeared on CNET .