Why Chuck Schumer Saved the Jelly Pool Parties

The crowd at the last Pool Party of the summer, 2009. Photo by Sam Horine
The crowd at the last Pool Party of the summer, 2009. Photo by Sam Horine

So why did one of the most powerful senators in the United States intervene to save a free concert series in Brooklyn? Writes Ben Sisario in the New York Times:

"It is a bit of pork," said Kurt Andersen, the novelist and public radio host who has been a longtime observer of city politics. "But it's probably not a bad thing to remind the youth of Brooklyn that they are Democrats, to have them think, 'Oh, yeah, Chuck Schumer saved the concerts -- that's why we like him.' As a long-term play to give them a reason to vote, it's probably not stupid."

Nor was Schumer's involvement of the token variety. Says Open Space Alliance chairman and Brooklyn Brewery president Steve Hindy: "Schumer was insisting that Jelly be part of the concerts series for this year, that there be no discussion with other people," including other interested promoters. It turns out Jelly was out of favor with the NYC parks people because of multiple violations regarding "safety regulations, security and other issues," including a stage collapse. But Schumer took Jelly's side, to the exclusion of other New York power players, including the Bowery Presents team, who were angling to book their own shows at East River State Park.

That was not to be: "The effect on us, a promoter, is that there may be artists who want to play a specific place, and we are shut out," a Bowery Presents rep told Sisario. "It is the lack of process that bums us out as promoters, and as a taxpayer in New York State, I wonder if the state is getting the best deal possible." Schumer, evidently, was pleased with what he once so innocently happened upon while biking, and wanted to keep it that way. Writes Sisario:

"Chuck did become a little bit aggressive, wanting to help out Jelly," said Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol, a Democrat whose district includes Williamsburg, and who took part in the discussions. "Maybe he got a little more involved than he should have."

Given that Bowery Presents runs half of this town anyway, and that the Pool Parties, for all the hassle--blazing sun; a penchant to keep things moving, even during lightning storms; near-nude dodgeball--have built up a grand tradition in the four years since Jelly first started at the McCarren Park Pool, we're Team Schumer on this one. Just get ready to see a lot of this pose come summer:

Free Brooklyn Concert Series Finds Its Biggest Fan in the U.S. Senate [NYT]


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