Saturday, May 31, 2008

CLAYTON PATTERSON'S CAPTIVATING "CAPTURED": CLASS WARS ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE.

UP FRONT News May 6, 2008
Published by Tom Weiss
Editorial Advisor: Willard Whittingham
"The paper that can't be bought and can't be sold."
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CLAYTON PATTERSON'S CAPTIVATING "CAPTURED": CLASS WARS ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE. BUT GENTRIFICATION ENGINE BOB HOLMAN CAMEO? FROM BAD TO VERSE.

By Tom Weiss

Lower East Side historian/activist/photojournalist Clayton Patterson, whose brutalization by the NYPD police some years ago in and around Tompkins Square Park and at police headquarters is depicted in his documentary "Captured", is a brave guy. Having been myself politically arrested by police departments working for various mayors, as well as by the U.S. Capitol Police in 1993 (on the apparent orders of, at the very least, Bill Clinton's hitman Warren Christopher (who tried to silence me about the Chinese Communist Genocide in Tibet, covered up by Clinton, et. al) I am very sensitized to violations of human rights. While I have been the victim of police excess, I didn't get it as badly as Mr. Patterson did.

"Captured", shown recently to a not quite standing room only audience at Cantor Film Center 200 in Greenwich Village, will be of interest to Lower East Siders and heartland Americans alike. There is plenty of indigenous street scene footage and lots coverage of people hurling themselves into the sweaty moshpit at the late CBGB's while the Bad Brains stretched the definition of "music" well beyond the breaking point.

In 1988 Mayor Ed Koch, one of a series of gentrification engines disguised as mayors who have beleaguered working class communities across at least two millenia, decided to clean up Tompkins Square Park, which had become home to many homeless people. The Mayor remained conveniently unmindful of the fact that at least some of those people were the victims of over-development and gentrification-enhancing policies put into place by him. The mayor, seeking to make New York a place for the rich, offered as a solution concentration camp-emulating shelters and drop-in centers, the latter run by profiteering "non-profits" such as the very politically connected Paternership for the Homeless. Taking into account the
often human rights-hostile conditions in these facilities, many homeless opted for the streets and the parks.

When there was resistance to Koch's effort at clearing Tompkins Square Park of people with nowhere else to go, the NYPD decided to give something of a preview performance of what, about one year later, the Chinese Communists would impose in Tiananmen Square. Mr. Patterson's footage of the bloodletting is in some ways as dramatic as the footage in a documentary titled "Cry of the Snow Lion" of a 1989 uprising by against the Chinese Com- munists by Tibetans in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and the Chinese suppression of the re- bellion.

Aside from what I thought was too much Bad Brains moshpit footage, my only problem with Captured is the unfortunate decision to give poetry impresario Bob Holman a couple of cameo appearances in which the generally self-aggrandizing Holman presents himself as a voice of anti-gentrification. As I've suggested elsewhere, that is somewhat analagous to having Dick Cheney serve as a commentator on pacifism and/or the rights of quails.

I won't go into my entire personal and political relationship with a fine poet who used to be a friend other than to suggest that from my perspective, the double-talking Holman is a gentri- fication engine and worse, in consideration of some of the stuff that goes on at his hipster magnet known as the Bowery Poetry Club. In truth, the story goes "from bad to verse."

It was Bob Holman who has employed as his sound man an emaciated looking but violent character who called himself "Lucky Dave." Lucky Dave, whose other job at the BPC was as a drug trafficker (as one insider advised me, if you want some coke go to "Lucky Dave"), did not like poets around who happened also to be journalists. That is presumably why, although I had been a frequent guest at the Bowery Poetry Club for years (and Mr. Holman had read at some events I produced elseswhere), Lucky Dave willfully tried to physically injure me at the BPC while I was there one day as a guide for the blind poet Steve Cannon (founder and Executive Director of "A Gathering of the Tribes") during a BPC "Howl" event. Dave willfully stepped on my arm, which was leaning on the fire escape-style stairway that leads from the floor to the elevated sound room. Moments later, with Holman nearby but out of earshot, Dave whispered to me, "This is a threat." He and I had some words and when I walked outside Dave decided to follow me. As was easily visible from my vantage point on the traffic island on the Bowery, a few feet from the club, Dave reached into his left pocket and pulled out a knife. Although he did not unleash the switchblade, he held the knife up for several seconds, smiled, put it back in his pocket and went back inside, maybe to listen to some more poetry and make some more sales.
Holman, who then became inaccessible to me, 86'd me from the premises. He backed that up through one of the thugs, "Kibble" (sp.?), he employed as a bouncer, who would hurl threatening insults at me as I passed by and sent me one e-mail that is not suitable for quoting in a family newspaper. Among the number of employes who quit working for Holman was a woman who told me that she got gotten tired of Kibble's sexual advances and Bob Holman's inaction.

Holman later unofficially lifted the 86 when he allowed me to return if I "behaved." That offer lasted until the evening when, at the invitation of poet belly dancer Evie Ivy, I arrived with her to attend her performance there. Within a few moments, as I was talking with her - and mo-ments after I noted the presence of extremist poet Pistol Pete Dolack, a pal of the violent psychopath and Lyndon LaRouche ideologue Geoffrey Blank (and who once tried to have me arrested at a poetry event) - Holman's bouncers threw me out.

Some years ago, when I was visiting the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, of which Holman was a founder and where he came to some fame as the creator of the phenomenon known as the Poetry Slam, I made the innocent mistake of mentioning his name to respected Nuyorican staffer. I was advised in no uncertain terms never to mention Holman's name on the premises again. The complaints had not only to do with what was described as a pattern of psychologically abusing others there but also his reported walking off with several thousand foundation-donated Nuyorican dollars.

It is apparent that Bob Holman, one of those voices of leftism and populism who lives in a luxury loft in Tribeca that had seen more proletarian pre-gentrification days, has both a "nice" and poet-supporting side but also, when it comes to matters of money and power, a dark side.

As far as the Bowery Poetry Club is concerned, Holman's response to my efforts to resolve our problem was to insist that I could only be there in his presence. "Yes or no", he stridently demanded when we crossed paths at the January 1, 2008 Poetry Marathon at St. Mark's in the Bowery Church. Since he was in fact abdicating responsibility for the behavior of his staff in his absence, I said "no." Most of then time I can't afford his cover charges anyway. As I've suggested elsewhere, presumably at least some of the upscale poetry lovers who pay their way into the Bowery Poetry Club fashion themselves up at the very nearby Varvatos boutique, a part of the gentrification engine recently protested by Lower East Side musician/activist Rebecca Moore and some others from "Take It to the Bridge."

Holman's Bowery Poetry Club has entered into a partnership with "Vox Pop", a Brooklyn-based political coffee house owned by Green Party honcho and publicity stuntman Sander Hicks. Hicks became well-known when he published James Hatfield's "Unfortunate Son", a very unauthorized biography of George W. Bush, which included the accounts of Bush's fondness for cocaine back at Yale. The book became a bestseller but Hatfield wound up dead in a heartland motel. The official story was "suicide." Hicks chronicled the whole thing in a documentary "Horns and Halos" - starring Sander Hicks.

Hicks was for a time the Green Party candidate for governor but, some time after I became an anti-War Democratic write-in candidate for the U.S Senate against Hillary Clinton, Hicks decided to run for the Senate. When I asked him why, he became uncharacteristically silent. The reality is that the Green Party in New York functions essentially as a front organization for the "left/right/left" megalomaniac and convicted felon Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. and his surrogates such as the racist Lenora Fulani. For more information, read UP FRONT News and visit http://larouchewatch.org/ and http://www.dennisking.org/.

Hicks later got dumped as a candidate by the Greens when one of his more outrageous publicity stunts was revealed. Hicks, a promoter of various conspiracy theories also promoted by LaRouche, decided to confront VP Cheney about 9/11. And so Hicks sent $5000 to the Republican National Committee to attend a fundraiser at which Cheney was speaking.
Cheney rather effortlessly blew Hicks off and when the Greens learned about it they got angry and dumped him as their candidate replacing him with the autocratic party boss from Syracuse Howie Hawkins.

Hicks and Holman will no doubt promote cover charge anarchism, peace and socialism with their poetry. These profiteers deserve each other.

During the Q&A after Mr. Patterson's film, I commented on the irony of Bob Holman as a voice against gentrification. Mr. Patterson somewhat uneasily responded by stating that Holman had done some good for the community. Choosing not to mention the problem of drug trafficking and related harassments (others have been vicitimized also) at the Bowery Poetry Club, I replied with a comment about cover charges. Mr. Patterson said something about occasional low cost or free events. Crumbs for the masses.

Bob Holman is an important person in the world of poetry. He is also an important person in the world of money. He is not a voice against gentrification.
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