Staten Island Now Has A Wu-Tang District

From the Slums of Shaolin

When Old Dirty Bastard said “Wu-Tang is for the children,” he probably never imagined those words would one day adorn a New York City Council-sanctioned mural in the group’s home base of Staten Island. But it now does. The mural marks the location of a corner in Staten Island now dubbed the “Wu-Tang Clan District,” which the New York City Council voted unanimously to make a real thing back in December. There’s a street sign at the corner of Vanderbilt and Targee and everything. Which is apparently the crime side, the New York Times side.

Unveiled last week, the sign and mural are also timed to coincide with the release of Showtime documentary series on the history of the Wu-Tang Clan, “Of Mics and Men.”

The RZA, The GZA, Ghostface, Method Man, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, U God and all the Wu members will soon be joined by Biggie Smalls in street signage dedication when Christopher Wallace Way is christened in Brooklyn, as is expected. You can, no joke, keep track of Notorious BIG’s impending boulevard through an Instagram account devoted to the purpose.

A recent album featuring some of Wu-Tang’s comic-book personas.

The Plan to Honor Stan

In the City that Never Sleeps there is no shortage of potential honorees, though it may run out of real estate. But one likely candidate for the next place dedication is Stan Lee, if interest in a change.org poll is any indication. Stan the Man, who died at the age of 95 last November might not have been a rapper, but his influence as creator of Marvel Comics and it’s iconic characters is vast. So vast in fact that it intersects in more than a few places with the pop-culture obsessed Wu-Tang Clan who owe a debt to classic Marvel—most obviously with Ghostface Killah’s Tony Stark and Ironman personas.

The petition to erect a Stan Lee statue in New York City has more than 80k (and growing) signed urging The New York City Council to build a statue to their hero.

Stan Lee with Captain Sticky at the 1975 San Diego ComicCon. Photo: Alan Light

David Gourlay, the chap who started the petition, resides in Edinburgh, Scotland, says New York City is the obvious location for a monument to Marvel’s creator. “Obviously New York City being his hometown is a significant reason,” he told Whalebone Magazine, “but beyond that I think it’s because New York is a place heavily associated with Marvel’s characters and some of Stan’s creations. The city is synonymous with characters like Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and Brooklyn’s own Steve Rogers.”

The city is synonymous with characters like Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and Brooklyn’s own Steve Rogers.

Stan Lee’s memory is honored daily at comic shops and cinemas (he’s got a signature cameo in the highest grossing movie of all time—maybe his last, but then again, maybe not). “As much as there is plenty to keep his legacy alive, whether it’s the seemingly-infinite success of his creations, or his cameos in the movies,” Gourlay said. “I just felt that there should be something significant to honour his connections with the City.”

Where DC invented Gotham and Metropolis to as big city stand-ins, Lee just went straight to the source for Marvel, making his hometown the place where heroes hung up their capes at night and Westchester to the north the site of Dr. Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.

Where should the monument to Lee be though? Maybe Queens where Peter Parker resided with his Aunt May? Or Manhattan where Lee was born and created Marvel and which has been the site of alien sieges in recent Avenger movies and whose neighborhoods provide the backdrops for Dr. Strange (who lives on Bleeker), Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and myriad others?

We’ll just have to tune in—maybe the next time New York City is destroyed by space invaders, Lee’s cameo will be as a statue being vaporized in Forest Hills.