Clayton’s Corner: Of Generations and Gentrification [PHOTOS]

Posted on: March 21st, 2018 at 5:16 am by

As the unrelenting winds of the international corporate gentrification keeps eroding away the deep, rich, soil of our culture, it also disposes of “neighborhood” and “community.” It affects both collective memory and history. For example: changing the name of PS 122 into Performance Space New York obliterates the connection to the previous 30-year history.

Another more natural force of gentrification is death. With the passing of one generation, so too passes opportunity. Cultures also die.

In our generation one of the most vicious, devastating, plague-like forms the wrath came disguised as an immune destroying pandemic. AIDS took away so many of our leading lights, brightest minds, original thinkers, friends, associates, neighbors. It is up to us to make sure the names and memories of those who passed, often, too young, too early in their journey, are remembered.

If we do not preserve our own history, then who will? For some of us, remembering is not a burden, but more of a responsibility and an honor.

To honor the memory of some community members AIDS had taken away, the 2018 NY ACKER Awards, included in the recipient’s award box, a bio-booklet with a section dedicated to the memory, a hand-drawn portrait on a coffee cup by Zito, a copy of the Book of the Dead, Bearing Witness, cover lettered by Steven “Tabboo” Tashjian, filled with over 1100 names written down by Eugene Fedorko.

For those interested in remembering by viewing a series of exquisitely drawn portraits, then, HOWL Happening has mounted a must see – the “John Kelly: Sideways into the Shadows” exhibition, running through March 25.

John is a multitalented artist, whose highly praised performance work I became aware of because performance artist SUNPK (aka Peter Kwaloff) made it possible for me to document Whispers, the Sunday night Pyramid Club Drag show hosted by that always funny remarkable MC Mark “Hapi Phace” Phred. Yes, John is without question a blessed performer, but I was a little taken aback at his drawing skill. The work is simply beautiful. He obviously felt a strong connection to the 40 people he drew. The drawings are keeping the names and the spirits of those gone souls alive in our thoughts.

As a documentarian, I see one of my duties, in the war against the part of the international corporate effort to take over and destroy our memories and past, is saving the memories of those who made so much possible for so many of us. And, beyond the quality of this HOWL! Happening John Kelly show, is just the fact that this show is a Never Forget, example of another form of protecting our past.

Recent Stories

Commissioner Overseeing Office of Nightlife Hosts Open Discussion on LES Tomorrow Night

When Mayor de Blasio first announced the Office of Nightlife last year, battle-hardened residents around the Lower East Side weren’t particularly pleased. Was this new bureau just a boon to the industry at the expense of communities? How effective would a liaison be? The appointment of former Sutra owner Ariel Palitz to “Night Mayor” likewise […]

‘Kodawari’ Coffee Shop Starts Grinding at 100 Forsyth Street

Gentrification 101: When upscaling a building on the Lower East Side, install a trendy coffee shop on the ground floor. Maybe even add a little gallery art as flare. That seems to be the narrative at 100 Forsyth Street, too, an address plagued with retail problems in recent years, likely due to ongoing renovations. Something […]

Are Angry Neighbors Egging Essex Crossing?

It would appear Essex Crossing has egg on its face. Literally. Most of the news coming out of mega-development is about the greatness of the housing stock (“Life’s never far from your doorstep” at the Rollins) or the imminent arrival of big-box retailers on Grand Street like Target and Trader Joe’s. Yet, it appears as […]

District Leaders Urge DOT Chair to Better Address Traffic Bottleneck at Grand and Clinton

The bottleneck blues continues at the junction of Grand and Clinton Streets. Being a major access point to the Williamsburg Bridge from the FDR, this spot perennially attracts a line of cars that usually snakes eastward for blocks. The addition of Essex Crossing in the immediate vicinity (residential and commercial) doesn’t help matters, either. Ongoing […]

Is the ‘Empire Records’ Broadway Musical a Bad Idea?

In the immortal words of The Doors, “The time to hesitate is through.” And keeping in that vein of logic, get ready for your favorite group of misfits to transform into a Broadway musical. That’s right, the crew from Empire Records (open til midnight!) is potentially turning into a theatrical production. Producer Bill Weiner recently acquired the […]