Adam Purple’s Grandson Responds to Hotel Indigo’s Controversial Rooftop Bar ‘Mr. Purple’ [OP-ED]

Posted on: December 28th, 2015 at 9:45 am by

This image has been archived or removed.

Mural in the Hotel Indigo, with image of Adam Purple

Currently in its sixth week of operation, the backlash against Hotel Indigo, Gerber Group, and the Mr. Purple nightspot on the fifteenth floor is snowballing. And rather quickly. As we’ve exhaustively chronicled, the rooftop hang is borderline defamation of character. Steve Mason, Adam Purple’s grandson, responds to the whole situation with the following editorial. 

I am Adam Purple’s Grandson.

I only learned about the new hotel bar named “Mr. Purple” yesterday. I was not close to David [Wilkie], but I have been exposed to his views on society, government, philosophy, language, and architecture since I was barely able to walk (I am 37). He was an iconoclast: anti-consumerist, anti-capitalist, and anti-“The Man” in every conceivable way. The “Garden of Eden” was not an effort to beautify the neighborhood. It was, in my view, a statement against the system. It was a weapon. If he just wanted to be a hippie and live off of the land he would have had a farm upstate. That was not his jam. He did what he did on Forsyth Street to get in people’s faces: to fight the power and piss people off. He wanted the entire working class to go on strike — to bring the system to its knees. He was a vegan (this place has a hamburger named after him), didn’t use banks, and was in constant conflict with the federal and municipal government. So far as I could tell, his objective was nothing less than the destruction of western civilization.

To wit: he was not the sort of person who would drink fifteen dollar cocktails at a luxury bar.

“Mr. Purple” is not an honorable tribute. Believe me, I would love for David’s legacy to be memorialized, and I’m happy that he achieved notoriety enough to be considered for exploitation by a midtown corporate property development committee. However, a fancy hotel bar is not the right vehicle. At best, it’s tone deaf.

This image has been archived or removed.

Photo: Indigo Hotel’s Instagram

I’m sure that the folks at the Gerber Group (or whatever brand consulting group they hired) thought they were being clever — that this sounded like a great way to distinguish their hotel, to connect it with the elusive, evaporating “hip and cool” history of the Lower East Side. If they had conducted more rigorous research, they might have discovered that Adam Purple is not very brand-friendly.

That this hotel uses his name and likeness is deeply offensive and disrespectful to him, to me, and to anyone that appreciated what he stood for. It makes me sad that his most prominent legacy would be this hotel bar celebrating debauchery and consumption. To me (and I don’t mean to draw undue comparison) but this would be like calling a bar “Ghandhi” or “Mother Theresa”: it’s just wrong.

There is absolutely no way in hell he would have authorized or approved the use of his likeness. It goes against everything he stood for his entire life. [ed. There were reportedly meetings with Purple but no formal consent given]

This image has been archived or removed.

Adam Purple above his Garden of Eden, Photo: Harvey Wang

I hope someone at the Gerber Group has the humility to recognize that someone exercised poor judgement, and to take the necessary steps to re-brand the bar. If there’s nobody there with enough decency, at the very least, I hope this evolves into a PR problem that will cost them more in bad press. Then, maybe greed will lead them to do the right thing.

Steve Mason
San Francisco

Recent Stories

Man Shot Dead After Opening Door to Gunman at Lillian Wald Houses

A man was shot dead inside his apartment in the Lillian Wald Houses Friday night after the suspected killer knocked on his door, police said. The perp entered 691 FDR Drive just before 10:00pm and went to the fourth floor apartment of thirty-year-old Davon Venable. Reports noted that Venable and his father heard a knock […]

Filmmaker to Get ‘High on Ludlow Street’ with New Documentary [INTERVIEW]

One filmmaker is on a quest exhume the history of Ludlow Street with a forthcoming documentary series called High on Ludlow Street. What follows is an interview with Charles Libin, who talks about the so-called “gift of Ludlow,” memories on the block, challenges of making the film, and the current state of his beloved street. […]

Mayor Adams Vetoes Bill to Fine Non-Artists Residents in Upzoned SoHo and NoHo

The SoHo/NoHo Rezoning saga took a new turn last Friday when Mayor Eric Adams vetoed the controversial bill (Intro 2443A). The last-minute legislation, introduced by former Councilmember Chin, would levy fines against residents occupying JLWQA units without official “artist certification.” The odd JLWQA acronym isn’t the call sign of some defunct NYC radio station; it […]

Gaia Cafe Planning February Return with New Essex Street Locale

Gaia Italian Cafe, a locals favorite, is gearing up for a return. An early pandemic victim, Gaia shuttered its sub-level operations in the summer of 2020 after nearly a decade on East Houston. Then word came through last July that namesake chef-owner Gaia Bagnasacco signed a lease for the ground floor of 119 Essex Street, […]

‘Be My Baby’ and a Strange 1965 Visit to Parisi Bakery (Ronnie Spector RIP)

Ronnie Spector, the chanteuse who fronted the Ronettes in the 1960s with her signature vocal yearning, died yesterday. She was 78. She passed after “a brief battle with cancer,” according to a statement from her family. In tribute to her life and music, we’re re-publishing the following piece from a few years ago highlighting the […]