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6/4 NYC Resistance: A Radical History of the Lower East Side

Resistance -- A Radical Social and Political History of
the Lower East Side


16Beaver Street, 4th Floor, NYC


7:30 pm

This Monday we are pleased to host a discussion with several of the
contributors to the recently published book Resistance: A Radical Social
and Political History of the Lower East Side,
including (but probably not
limited to) Clayton Patterson, Alan Moore, and Jim Feast.

They will present the project of this just-published book, three years in
the making. Hopefully some images, although mostly talk. Is this an
"autopsy" of bohemia? Maybe. New York's Lower East Side has been pivotal
in the development of politically radical practices, lifestyles and
thought. This legacy, stretching back to the days of Emma Goldman's
residence at the turn of the century, seemed to come to a sudden end with
the 1988 Tompkins Square Park police riot and the subsequent repression in
the neigbborhood of homeless people and squatters. What can we learn from
examining this neighborhood's history of resistance?Resistance: A Radical Social and Political History of the Lower East Side


Seven Stories Press, 2007

Editors: Clayton Paterson. Alan Moore, Joe Flood.
672 pages

“Rarely does a book come along with politics as vivid as its people.
Clayton Patterson and the many contributors to Resistance pull it off.”
-Jeff Ferrell, Foreword

"Resistance" is an archive of writings and images that documents the
living history of New York City’s Lower East Side. Like the neighborhood
itself, it is a monument to diversity, to change, upheaval and a life
lived on the margins, either by circumstance or by choice. Resistance
celebrates those margins; it is a vast work of preservation, a rescue
mission for the experiences and thoughts of generations of immigrants,
artists, exiles, anarchists, activists and other people on the edge. These
people lived a life where politics was a daily expression of survival, not
something to be discussed on Sunday over coffee but something to be
expressed in even the smallest act of daily existence.

The first section of the book deals with the broad radical history of the
neighborhood, from thoughts on Dorothy Day and Emma Goldman by Al Orensanz
to dense anecdotal vignettes of local characters by Eric Miller. Peter
Lamborn Wilson (Hakim Bey) presents his reasons for his recent move out of
New York city, using them as a starting point for a discussion of the
complex intellectual and cultural history of the Lower East Side. Graphic
artist Seth Tobocman relates his time as an anarchist squatter, relating
the larger travails of the Regan years as context for the turmoil of the
Tompkins Square riots.

The second section examines housing, the driving force of much of the
political activity in the neighborhood. Sarah Ferguson traces the circular
path of housing policy from the use of Tompkins Square Park as an open-air
“living room” for the poor to the homesteading programs of the Carter
administration, which were dismantled under Regan and lead to the illegal
squats of the 80’s. Seth Farber discusses the plight of the homeless,
especially the mentally ill, released from city care into the streets with
no support. Frank Morales discusses the theories of “spatial
deconcentration,” the removal of the poor from urban areas and the method
by which the squatters resisted it. Fly, an artist and writer, talks about
life in the squats and her involvement with “ABC No Rio”, a collectively
managed building and community space that was one of the geographical and
psychological centers of resistance in the neighborhood.

The third section of the book is a look at the central event of the
housing conflict, the 1988 riot in Tompkins Square Park. A. Kronstadt
writes a detailed account of the continuous low intensity conflict between
the city and the squatters that lead up to the riot. Joshua Rothenberger
offers a detailed analysis of Clayton Patterson’s famous video shot during
the night of the riots. Chief Michael Julian reflects on his years
commanding the 9th precint, offering a rare and balanced history of the
period from a policeman’s point of view.

The fourth section is devoted to the political media of the Lower East
Side. Alan Moore and Allan Antliff take on Patterson’s own politics and
art in relation to his life in the neighborhood. Chris Flash, editor of
the anarchist paper The Shadow, is interviewed by Aaron Jaffe and Peter
Missing puts fourth his thoughts in poetry.

The fifth section, biography, contains the stories of people like Jerry
the Peddler, Alfredo Irizzary and Yippie activist Dana Beal. There is also
a rare look at the Motherfuckers, described as a “street gang with an
analysis.” Michael Rosen recounts the building of the Red Square luxury
housing complex, a lonely example of a developer with roots in the
community.

The final section is a history of AIDS in the Lower East Side. Jay
Blotcher talks about the powerful activism that was engendered by the
suffering of poor AIDS victims and Jim Feast further explores the “radical
street combat” of the organization ACT-UP and the literal fight for
survival they represented.

There are, of course, many more stories, battles, and dramas than the ones
mentioned above in Resistance. In fact, the very density of the book
itself speaks to the diversity of the Lower East Side. As Alan W. Moore
says in the introduction:

“This book talks from all sides, in discourse that is activist, artistic,
writerly, academic, sharply focused, wobbly and meandering. Finally an
extraordinary picture of a signal period in American activism emerges, a
fight for place as urban space for ethnic and working class communities
and with them artistic bohemias disappears. This Lower East Side which has
been so productive of poetry, music and art, so thriving with hard-luck
social schemes of utopian intent, with this book has begun the task of
true telling about itself.”

Full List of Contributors:
A. Kronstadt, Aaron Jaffe, Aaron Jaffe, Al Orensanz, Alan Moore with Alan
Antliff, Aldo Tambelli, Alfredo Irizzary, Bill Weinberg, Carolyn
Ratcliffe, Cheryl Guttman, Chief Michael Julian, Chris Brandt, Chris
Flash, Christopher Mele, Clayton Patterson, Colin Moynihan, Daniel
Edelman, David Pultz, Ellen Moynihan, Elsa Rensaa, Eric Miller, Eve
Hinderer, Fly, Fred Good, Hanon Reznikov, James Cornwell (aka Jim C.),
Janet Abu-Lughod, Jay Blotcher, Jim Feast, JoAnn Wypijewski, Joanne
Edelman, Joe Flood, John McMillian, Joshua Rothenberger, Kenny Tolia,
Laura Zelasnic, Lynne Stewart, Mac McGill, Mary McCarthy, Michael Rosen,
Osha Neumann, P.O. John Mellon, Peter L. Wilson, Peter Missing, Richard
Kostelanetz, Richard Kusack, Richard Porton, Roland Legiardi-Laura, Ron
Casanova & Steven Blackburn, Sarah Ferguson, Seth Farber, Seth Tobocman,
Steve Dalachinsky, Steve Zehentner, Thomas McEvilley, Tom Savage, Virginie
Rocky, Will Sales, Yuri Kapralov

about Clayton Patterson, Alan Moore, and Jim Feast

The lead editor of Resistance, Clayton Patterson is an ex-teacher, an
artist, a photojournalist and a documentarian. He is president of the New
York Tattoo Society, and one of the organizers of the first nine NYC
International Tattoo Conventions. He runs the Outlaw Art Museum, and
maintains his Clayton Archives, a large collection of photos, videos, and
paper material representing aspects of the Lower East Side during the
1980s, '90s and 2000s. He has done much work in collaboration with Elsa
Rensaa. He is the organizer of Captured: A Film/Video History of the Lower
East Side (Seven Stories Press, 2005) and Resistance: a Radical Social and
Political History of the Lower East Side.

Alan Moore worked with Colab and ABC No Rio in NYC in the 1980s. He edited
ABC No Rio with Marc Miller in 1985. He wrote his PhD thesis on NYC
artists’ organizations for the City University of New York. Recent
articles: ``Local History: Battle for Bohemia in New York’’ (in Ault,
editor, Alternative Art New York, 2003); chapter for Greg Sholette and
Blake Stimson, eds., Collectivism After Modernism; introduction to Clayton
Patterson, ed., Resistance: A Social and Political History of the Lower
East Side, 2007).

Jim Feast is the coauthor of Neo Phobe (Autonomedia) and (with Gary Null)
AIDS: A Second Opinion and Germs, Biological Warfare, Vaccinations, What
You Need to Know (both from Seven Stories). He is a member of the
Autonomedia publishing collective, and writes regularly for Fifth Estate.

Other authors in the book may join us as well.