No? Maybe this will refresh you: Barclays was a.profiteer off the slave trade between Africa and the New World...a collaborator with the Nazis in freezing French Jews' bank accounts during World War II...a fiscal enabler of the South African apartheid regime... a bankroller of the Mugabe government and the recent Congolese civil war...a sponsor of England's soccer Premier League and of last weekend's PGA tournamet at Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey...an Albert-Speer-looking blue war-eagle logo?
Right. That Barclays Bank.
At Barclays, it's hard to run out of ways to say "colonial," "royal," "totalitarian" and "world-domineering"
Barclays president Bob Diamond told the Newark Star Ledger's Steve Politi that they're still supporting Ratner's boondoggle, though with some regrets.
What's that? Regrets? Really?! Regrets that the neighboring communities have been abused repeatedly by Ratner, government officials and the process? About Ratner's constiant exploitation of peoples' fears over jobs and affordable housing by issuing broken promises about both? About a potential $2 billion in public money that would float Ratner's condo skyscrapers? About the eminent-domain abuse? About the dagger that Atlantic Yards has left in Brooklyn's chest from nearly six years of repeated stabbings?
"It was disappointing. We loved the iconic Frank Gehry building," Diamond rued.
Well, the shepherd's pie doesn't fall far from the slavery Apartheid Nazi Mugabe Congo tree.
Elsewhere in Politi's piece, Diamond repeated carefully-parsed talking points: Ratner's the man, the recession has been tough on poor Bruce, Big Evil Community Opposition has slowed the project.
There were, however, a couple of newsworthy and cringeworthy sentiments.
Diamond let slip that Barclays has seen the newly-revised designs for Ratner's arena. Yes, the designs that aren't supposed to exist and can't be made available for public scrutiny before the state agency overseeing the project votes to re-affirm it. Wacky Barclays, letting the cat out of the knickers, or torch or wireless or lift or jumper or whatever mistakenly-spilled beans are called in Merry Olde.
Barclays' Bob Diamond, with his secret formula for rescuing Brooklyn's destitute...
Then there was this from Diamond: "The original intent...was branding. We wanted to continue to enhance the brand of Barclays and do something in New York, where the majority of our clients are. There were many opportunities when it came to naming rights, and what really tripped our trigger on this one was the recovery of Brooklyn and a community that was really quite poor. It not only fit our need to brand, but it fit the fact that we like to give back to the community."
- The "recovery of Brooklyn"? When was the last time Bob Diamond set foot in Brooklyn? During the '77 Blackout? Brooklyn's been doing fine all by our lonesome, clawing back one block, one small business, one family at a time, without Ratner's help, never mind Barclays'. (And if Diamond says "hey, I live in Brooklyn," then those blinders he's wearing must be way too tight.)
- "The original intent was branding" Well goodness, all this time we thought it was Jobs, Hoops and Housing. Glad this has all been about flying that blue eagle in neon over the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic.
- "tripped our trigger" The shepherd's pie falls even closer to the tree...
- "a community that was really quite poor" What community are you talking about, Bob? The Black community? The public-housing community? The immigrant community? Any community that stands between you and Barclays' exciting new branding offensive?
- "It fit the fact that we like to give back to the community" If Barclays hasn't actually been here before (outside of those Middle Passage profit margins in the 17th century), to whom are you giving back? Nothing a like a bank that prides itself on big ol' helpings of warm and fuzzy paternalism.
Brooklyn, 2009, seen through the eyes of Bob Diamond
Barclays hasn't really learned a lot since their last brush with Brooklyn's varied neighborhoods. A few years ago, when news of the naming-rights deal broke, news outlets, politicians, community activists and bloggers picked up on Barclays' notorious and unsavory past. Instead of waiting for Brooklyn to roll out the Welcome Wagon, Barclays opted for one of their own, sending out threatening cease-and-desist letters to everyone who reported, opined or even mentioned the reports and opinions about the slave-trade stuff. I still have mine. It's very official, and hamfistedly meant to be ooooh, so scary and intimidating. The letters all but said 'Ello...we're new to Brooklyn. Would you be a good sport and stand still so we may club you with a mace?
If Ratner succeeds and some variation of the ever-changing/never-improving Atlantic Yards superblock gets built, perhaps you'll be able to glimpse all the poor Brooklynites who've been rescued by Barclays Bank. You'll see them beaming in the soothing blue glow of the friendly Barclays eagle, flapping its benevolent wings and shielding all of Brooklyn from the greatest of threats...people paying attention and not believing the hype.