Thursday, August 25, 2005

Contrarian Times

I just don’t buy it. I’ve been hearing the argument for some time now that places like the LES and the E.Vil. have sold their souls to the real estate devil, that all the creativity has been drained out of the neighborhoods (a sentiment usually espoused by a craggy old-timer who thinks it was a creative act when he and his friends puked on the street, but not when the current crop of college kids puke on the street). Is the neighborhood undeniably different? Yes. Is it now devoid of character and vitality? Absolutely not. Having said that, a piece in today’s Times about an activist filmmaker and photographer is still a good read:

As obsessive as he is ubiquitous, Mr. Patterson has taken hundreds of thousands of photographs and thousands of hours of videotape in his adopted neighborhood. Where Jakob Riis and Weegee photographed the area "as a project or a job," Mr. Patterson said with a smile in a recent interview at his home on the Lower East Side, "I do it as a disease."

He can't stop, even after more than a dozen arrests by camera-shy police officers. He has amassed a huge day-by-day visual history of the area, told mainly through unpretentious portraits of its myriad and diverse faces: tenement kids and homeless people, poets and politicians, drug dealers and drag queens, rabbis and santeros, beat cops, graffiti taggers, hookers, junkies, punks, anarchists, mystics and crackpots.

Read the whole article here.