Clemens Weiss and Plato’s Retreat

Image The esteemed pathologist and blogger Dr. Brian E. Moore of Springfield, Illinois, who was a drama major with honors, and documentary filmmaker at Dartmouth, gave me grief about having a category of post called “Plato’s Republic” when what I really mean is “policy” or “Towards Democracy”. Point well taken. (He said “I wish I had visited Plato’s Retreat”, which I gather is or was a place for swingers or Bohemians, which neither of us actually are, nor do we lament not being — I presume he was saying that in sourcing my reference “Plato’s Repubic” the search-Gods suggested “Plato’s Retreat” as being as relevant). Well, as it happens, and on my way towards bathing my shaggy dog, or doing my laundry, I did stumble upon, in a back issue of Art Forum, and ad for a gallery show by Clemens Weiss, and had meant to figure what that is. (I am slightly obsessed by anyone and everything that shares my name). So guess who does or did live at Plato’s Retreat, which was or is also known as Ansonia Hotel on Broadway: Clemens Weiss. He took the photo above, of First Avenue, New York. The hotel became a set of condos, it is worth noting. Since I track land use and the class struggle. In 1992 the Ansonia was converted to a condominium apartment building with 430 apartments. By 2007, most of the rent-controlled tenants had moved out, and the small apartments were sold to buyers who purchased clusters of small apartments and threw them together to recreate the grand apartments of the building’s glory days, with carefully restored Beaux-Arts details. And I admit I don’t think I’ve read “Plato’s Republic”, unless there were short passages of it assigned to either my philosophy or government survey courses as an undergrad. I do recall the profs suggesting that even our system sprang out of John Locke’s notion of “middle class liberalism”. I have been saying, speaking of books, that I found meaning in George Packer “The Unwinding” and hope more people would read that. I’m also hoping to start a dialogue based on Henry David Thoreau “Civil Disobedience” essay, which to me is more about getting close enough to leadership to elicit change than it is about taking it to the streets — the title of the excellent essay was chosen by an editor and is slightly misleading. (I guess I should double-check what you can glean quickly from the internet about the history of the term “civil disobedience” and whether Thoreau’s use was seminal to modern day dissent or just a red herring). If you are looking here for comment on Clemens Weiss, I apologize. If you are Clemens Weiss or his agent, I apologize. Or check back for edita. 

edit to add: To clarify, Clemens Weiss may have lived in the Ansonia, the Broadway building that hosted Plato’s Retreat, a swingers club. That may or may not be distinct from saying Clemens Weiss lived at the club, or frequented the club (or freak-quented there). Babe Ruth also lived at the Ansonia, but probably not with Clemens Weiss. It is absolutely true however that the only reason I discovered and ever visited let alone shlepped for Anthology Film Archives is that in 2001 Brian Moore and I were looking for a shop, that was once near Second Avenue and Houston, because of a clipping he had saved from The New Yorker. edit to add, 2: It is also true that on April 16, 1986 while Brian Moore was screening his documentary film “Army Green” about the return of ROTC to Dartmouth, that the U.S. bombed Libya, allegedly in response to the April 6, 1986 bombing of a discotheque in Berlin, called the La Belle, in which 2 Marines were killed and 79 more Marines injured.

edita3: even oddlier, as I type this, this song is playing in the next room, a PBS doc on Broadway:

Clemens Weiss born in 1955 not in Berlin but Dusseldorf:

born 1955 düsseldorf/germany
1970 -73 studies in engineering
1973 -77 studies in philosophy, art and medicine
lives and works since 1987 in new york city

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About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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