For the past couple of days I’ve been helping @dejenjamin and @hopeloff move into their new studios. This has mostly entailed moving around boxes, patching and painting walls and floors, etc.
It has also meant cleaning up after a bootleg designer perfume operation.
The space smelled like something between the collection of household cleaning products under your moldy kitchen sink and a Yankee candle co. store at an outlet mall.The windows were sealed shut with duct tape and the floors was littered with small scraps of foil stamp labels reading everything from “Dior” to “Zara” to “Lusty”….Cleaning all that up got me wondering: what happened to those discount perfume guys? Did they move their hustle somewhere else? Were they priced out of the building by rent hikes? Edged out of the market by a competitor? The law came down on them? Or did they just call it quits?
Between that and the perfume-paint-fume combo, I couldn’t help but think of Cooper Union, and the board’s commitment to charge tuition — effectively destroying the school. In so doing, they’re trying to sell the Cooper community, and the rest of the world, a cheap, half-priced imitation of the real Cooper Union in order to pay for the rent (loans) of a building that the school could never afford in the first place. The real thing — what makes the school — is the Cooper Union’s 150 year mission of providing free education of the highest quality to all students. That mission makes Cooper Union the best, the Chanel No. 5 of higher education — and better yet, it actually smells good, and it’s free to everyone.
That mission has been sold on down the river (down the Bowery, closer toward Wall St.) by the school’s president, Jamshed Bharucha, and the trustees.
Their asking price is not free. It’s 50% off.
What the board and Jamshed are peddling, is a discounted imitation of the Cooper Union. It’s half-price crap with a slick institutional veneer. As @slavin_fpo wrote, while trying to talk the board down from the tuition cliff: “building a half priced school of sacrifices is to succumb to the culture of Cubic Zirconium and Corinthian Leather. It’s fool’s gold. Ghetto scrip. It’s not for real, and it’s not for good”.
I couldn’t put it better, or agree more, and I can only wonder how long Jamshed and the board’s half-priced, money-grubbing operation can last before they, just (maybe) like those bootleg perfume guys, get run the fuck out of the building.
Whenever that day comes, I’m sure to be there, along with countless other Cooper Union students and alumni — all ready to clean up the mess, get rid of the stench, move-in, and get back to work.