Michael Dorf, founder of the Knitting Factory, was the Chairman and CEO from 1987-2002.
He no longer has any operational or ownership ties to the organization.
With all our press attention and with our recent expansions, it might appear as if we were making lots of money. Quite the contrary. New York City does not help small businesses. The city has this bizarre branch called the Environmental Control Board that raises funds by issuing tickets to commercial establishments for various things. Besides issuing tickets for posters on public property, they give them out for not keeping the sidewalks and the first 18 inches of the
street clean. The law states that you cannot have anything on the sidewalk that will obstruct the flow of people. Many nights after we take our bags out, bums open them up looking for things and spill garbage out onto the street. The next morning, we will find a $75 ticket on our door. To complicate matters, the city picks up on our street only once a week, so in order to comply with the law, we’re forced to use the monopolistic private sanitation company.
To keep the street even cleaner, we built a beautiful box to keep our garbage bags in. The day after we built it, a city garbage truck came and took our bags and the box they were in, saying we had no permit for the box. They also spilled garbage 17 inches into Houston Street (our portion of the public street), which gave us another $75 ticket. You can’t win.
Which reminds me of Con Edison. With our growing electric needs, our bills kept getting bigger, topping off at about $2,000 a month. We pay our bills on time-well, most of the time. Sometimes we’re a little late. But when you are a little late, they ask for an additional deposit to cover the risk of a possible default. We had already given Con Edison a few thousand precious dollars when they asked us to give them another $800 deposit. I paid the bill, but not the deposit. Of course, a turn-off notice appeared. I sent in letters and formal complaints, and I even went to the Con Edison office, explaining that we didn’t have the money for them to sit on, even if they paid 6 percent interest. What good does that do us if we plan to stay in business? That afternoon, a Friday at 5:45, a Con Edison guy came into the bar and said he was here to read the meters. He secretly turned off our juice. With a show in three hours, and four refrigerators full of beer, we had to run lots of extension cords down from our office upstairs, which had a separate residential account in my name. (I had moved out by this time.) We couldn’t do anything to get electricity until Monday morning. There is not much one can do with Con Edison except to say FUCKYOU, which I did every day on our calendar for November and December 1990.