Last night MB witnessed an enthusiastic screening of the new documentary film, "Captured" in an event space on the Bowery. The film chronicles the life work of LES artist and consummate man-of-many-hats, Clayton Patterson, who tirelessly etched scenes of pre-gentrified Lower-East-Side life into a vast compendium of photos, films, and art for over 30 years. Like a modern day Herodotus, Patterson labored, often risking life and limb, so that us future generations and revelers of the L.E.S. could witness the blood that was spilled on this ground before our time.
Clayton is victorious as a Lower East Side hero and the film does a good job of picking through his vast collection of divisive if not outright disturbing video footage, but the PBR guzzling audience seemed to walk away unaffected by the woes of lower-east-siders of the last generation. At one point rioters raid the lobby of a upscale apartment building on Tompkins square -a mere neanderthal to today's Avalon or Ludlow monstrosities - in a gesture of angst toward upscale gentrification, but how does one expect the current inhabitants to react to this? As you might expect, the tragedy felt by the LES dwellers of the 70's & 80's was lost on more than a few.
The precious footage that Clayton has rescued from anonymity however, is CAPTURED's greatest gift. The LES as ghetto; a lawless, shameless, bubbling miasma of crime, art, newness, fear, and infamy. MB has often wondered what New York might have looked like during the 1863 Draft Riots and the tapes of the Tompkins Square Riot might be just about as clear a window as we can get into what happens when peace in our city takes a holiday.