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The thundering din of helicopters in the night sky has become a part of life for Brooklynites every summer since the West Nile Virus blighted our state two years ago. The controversial spraying of pesticides from overhead to keep the virus in check has become more widespread with each passing year, and is expected to come to a peak for residents of Williamsburg and Greenpoint this summer with the implementation of plans released by the Mayor's office to address what New York's Mayor has termed "The Brooklyn Power Plant Mosquito Loft Crisis"

As the virus spreads throughout the state, claiming the lives of dozens of pigeons monthly,
common mosquito
the problem has been fully realized in the North Side of Brooklyn. Although no human deaths have been attributed to the virus this year, one local artist in Brooklyn claimed to have scratched a bump until it bled.

Origins of a Crisis
In addition to an exceptionally dry Spring that's given rise to increased mosquito breeding, The Guiliani administration has determined that damp first and below-ground floors of artist-inhabited, former industrial buildings are a main source of mosquitoes. As temperatures begin to rise and mosquitoes enter their active time of year, eggs that are present in standing water often found in the basements of these buildings have slowly begun to hatch.

Countless lofts and workspaces have become infested with these potentially infected mosquitoes, prompting the Guilliani administration to take action. A coalition of New York City governmental agencies, including the Department of Buildings and the NYFD have been called in to fight the problem, evacuating lofts in imminent peril of mosquito bites and using the hoses on their trucks to spray infected buildings with a pesticide known as Solvent Yellow. Their battle was coined by one fireman as Operation Skeeter Beater.

As an added aggravation to the situation, isolated blackouts have been occurring in neighborhoods such as Williamsburg and Greenpoint that simply are not equipped with the energy needed to combat the crisis.

"The generators on these trucks frankly burn more electricity than we can currently produce," says Brooklyn Energy Commissioner, White Minefield. "This mosquito problem isn't going away anytime soon and we simply need more juice. Plans for a power plant on the Williamsburg waterfront are already underway and production will begin this month."

In a recent press conference Guilliani stated:
"We have begun an aggressive spraying campaign within these loft spaces and regrettably, some people will be losing their homes. My administration is dedicated to safe housing and these loft spaces are clearly overrun with mosquitoes and unfit for living."
One of 27 power plants under construction in Williamsburg
Guiliani continues, "Over the course of the last several years, I have cleaned up the streets of this city with my quality of life laws and my harsh stance against crime. The streets are a safer place than ever in New York, so don't tell me there is no place for these people to go."

In response to criticisms that Solvent Yellow can cause health problems the Mayor had this to say: "The pesticides that we are using, are safe and are the same ones we have used in the past. In fact, I had my daughter fill her squirt gun with the pesticide and fire it at me when the crisis begun 2 years ago, and I am in fine health."

"But aren't you recovering from cancer, Mr. Mayor?" one reporter rebutted? "Yes, but that is unrelated and the cancer is in remission, thank you."

Brooklyn's Reaction to Crisis

The crisis is currently isolated to Brooklyn, and many residents have alleged that the Giuliani Administration has enforced hundreds of evictions following spraying in brute fashion.

Here is one exclusive story from former Brooklyn Loft resident Trent Bricely:

"They came into my home all dressed in black, stripped me down laid me on the floor, and told me bend over. I guess they found a bite on my lower back and that was enough for them. One of the men shouted, 'It's Guilliani time' and the next thing I knew they threw me out and started spraying the entire building. I didn't even have time to get my stuff out."

In these predominantly liberal, "bohemian" neighborhoods, protest has been widespread as many criticize the Mayor for his handling of the "crisis":

"The way I look at it, these mosquitoes that are found in the privacy of our own homes are our business. I keep my windows closed and they are not harming anyone or going anywhere. Yeah, I have a couple of bites, but whose to say this West Nile scare is legitimate anyway? I have actually begun a petition to have mosquitoes classified as pets. All animals have the right to live and procreate. What's next, will they be kicking in our doors to take our cats and dogs away?"

In response to the impending power plants, local dog walker Jackie Clyde says:

"The power plants are ironically exactly what this neighborhood needs. Of course having a power plant in our backyards is kind of scary when you consider the potential health threats, but the need for an artist to protest can outweigh the evil of whatever they are protesting against. It's like we need the power plant issue to be debated in order to express our activism. It's very Tao. So I'm very happy about it."
Loft Resident Jackie Clyde supports Power Plants and Protests.
Mosquito Bite Chic

Some, like model Micah Calistine, have even turned the crisis into a fashion statement:

"Yeah, I have mosquito bites, and I think they are HOT. Remember heroin chic? Mosquito bite chic is the hottest thing now and I bet you'll be seeing it on all the fashion runways this fall. I even saw one girl applying Biten (a new, imitation mosquito bite product by Estee Lauder) at a restaurant just trying to look hip."

Regardless of your opinion, the summer is young and these problems can only elevate as the temperatures likewise begin to rise.

This article is a farce (obviously) and we at Free Williamsburg encourage everyone to get involved with the very real
and very dangerous threats to you and your neighbors.

For more information on the impending power plant crisis visit Williamsburg Watch.org

And visit our friends at the Brooklyn Live Work Coalition to support their efforts to protect
thousands of people (10,000 in Brooklyn alone) living and working in commercial buildings.


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Free Williamsburg© | 93 Berry Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
[email protected] | July 2001 | Issue 16
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