Frenchie’s Gym owner Santos “Frenchie” Ramos has passed away on the 10th of June. He was a really nice person and I always felt welcomed to his place. I saw him mostly behind his desk greeting members and chatting with friends. Sometimes he would do easy leg workouts in the gym too. After learning that I’m a performance artist, he passed me a handwritten note which read “Carlos Colón vs. Hercules Ayala” and told me to search for it online. The search led me to a video of a wresting match where he served as the referee. He later asked me if I had watched it and after complementing him on the show, he shouted: “You see! Performance artists!!” and flexed. Once after skipping two weeks of training he greeted me with a shout: “What you!? Where have you been! You will never become a champion if you don’t train!”. His gym made me feel welcomed in NYC and I was a client for five months. When I told him I was returning back to Helsinki, Frenchie acted like he didn’t understand and asked me when I’d be back. I think he tough I was polish, which I didn’t mind. I have a membership card as a bookmark and I’ve attached a cap I bought from him to my hoody, so that it acts as a shoulder pad. I really loved the view from the gym, to the Broadway/Marcy Av station and the breaths of warm air the trains pushed trough the windows. I only have one photo from the district. More: Brooklyn tough guy ‘Frenchie’ Ramos dies at age 76, owner of old-school Williamsburg gym for more than four decades (2019) Mikey Light and Larry McShane.
Secured a set of rails to my rack to accommodate 1u tiles. Breadboard a Simple EQ / Baxandall EQ unit. Everything works but I’d like to boost the volume. The diy water-capacitor is in the making, the epoxies and insulators are taking a long time to dry. Used acrylic-paint as an insulator, got the idea from Johann Diedricks Sound Monsters workshop. Kids painted over the boards with thick paint after soldering them and the units worked fine after (the paint needs to dry).
Working as a substitute janitor for our housing-hold company.
Made a shoulder pad for my hoodie using the front of my Frenchie’s Gym cap. Looks cool. The cap was always to small for my head and it works better as a fashion joke anyway. Took a one and a half month break from gym activities due to a shoulder injury. I have a gym date on the 17th and I have just enough time to restore my gains.
WWC: Carlos Colón vs. Hercules Ayala (1987). Frenchie from Frenchie’s Gym serves as the referee in the match. Interestingly after the match the winners family gets on stage to celebrate with him.
Visited ecoartspace: Mary Mattingly and Jean Shin interviewed by Amy Lipton event at the 8th Floor on Wednesday. It was fun to learn about Lipton’s career as a curator specialising in ecologically steered arts. We didn’t get deep into her work or investigate it conceptually. Audiences were presented with a list of her most celebrated projects and exhibitions. Learning about Mattingly’s “public floating food forest” Swale was cool too. I’m pessimistic… I fear these kinds of initiatives fail in making the impact they seek. Not-doing would be more eco-friendly. But I don’t know how to “not do” in a sustainable way. No-Chair-Design campaign is the closest I’ve gotten.
Heard a good gig on Tuesday. Heather Frasch & Koen Nutters performed at a Pennies from Heaven #7 event organized by Control & Bánh Mì Verlag. Frasch used surface transducers to resonate glass & copper jars and a plywood sheet. She then suspended small objects, pinecones, dry fruit shells and pencils above the resonating surfaces. Objects hitting against metal surfaces produced nanoscopic, near silent melodies and objects resonating on the plywood sheet produced barely auditive rhythms. She produced some very intensive techno beats and I felt a new paradigm opening for sonic exploration (we have planned something similar with Johannes and now I can set my bearings). Towards the end of the gig she placed objects that didn’t make any sound on the surface transducers and we could see them vibrate in silence. Nutters complemented the object-sound-play by playing sinetones and reading two text about how the process of hearing is physically intimate.
Got a got a fistbump at Frencie’s Gym after performing a reasonable squat series. Found a few videos of the place.
- Frenchie’s Gym – Person(s) of Interest (2017) Pablo Bujosa Rodríguez (Most recent footage from the site)
- FRENCHIE (2013) thismustbetheplace (A goodvibes street-aesthetic mini-documentary)
- FRENCHIES GYM II (2008)Trevor Bayack (A touching short introduction to the site and a call to fight “corporate gyms”)
- FRENCHIES GYM (2007) Trevor Bayack (Regarding gentrification and short notes on technology)
Visited Somewhere I’ve Never Been book-reading/NYC-launch event organised by Pool publishing and Steph Kretowicz at the Commend space. Kretowicz talked warmly of her collaboration with Kimmo (on a podcast series based to the book which I mentioned earlier). The event was relaxed but the atmosphere was not cosy. This unfortunately made the text feel introverted and nostalgic. Kretowicz’s interesting idea of using global public-pop-music-performances as a tool for illustrating, the degree by which personal identity building processes differ across the globe; was not explored in detail.
Renewed my monthly membership to Frenchie’s Gym (at 306 Broadway). The place is a gorgeous antique-bodybuilding facility. Majority of the weights and devices are from the seventies and the atmosphere is welcoming (in an edgy way). I haven’t had the stamina to visit the place often but as the weather cools I’ll have more energy for exercise. A blogger by the name of MissfitFinland has made a post about the place in 2014.
It’s not allowed to take photographs at the gym so, at some point I’ll have to spend some time writing about the feel of the place. The gym is on the second floor of a worn brick building, at the level of the M & J train rails, which run over Broadway. The passing trains shove a breeze of air from the windows and their sound cuts trough the constant salsa muzak playing from the radio. People on the train platform peek trough the open windows but it’s dark inside and I doubt that they see us sweating inside. There is no air conditioning.