Tag Archives: gentrification

Rust In Piss NYC

Williamsburg Bridge circe 1996 by vagabond ©
Williamsburg Bridge circe 1996 by vagabond ©

rust in piss nyc

the displacement creeps up slowly at first
like a pretty vine that eventually cracks the facade
this isn’t the place that nurtured me as it tried killing me
and rewarded us when we found ways to do more than survive
it’s no longer that place

it’s no longer the place we grew up in
our pride can only be placed in the past
the present is no gift and the future doesn’t want us
everywhere i go it’s the same
this alienation this feeling of un-belonging

nothing to claim as your own because what you claim
is out of style out of fashion out of vogue out of time
no place to claim as your own because it’s all changed itself
to be something for someone else

disowned disavowed displaced

this city once belonged to those strong enough
to claim squatters rights to the ruins
because there was beauty to be found in the rubble
because it was part-time art and full-time living
because we filled the abandoned with play and creation
because we could thrive among the decay
until the decay and all that lived in it
and all that it gave to imagination was given an eviction notice

what was once yours because it was no ones and everyones
now belongs to someone else
what you thought would always be yours
because it was no ones and everyones
has been sold to the highest bidder
and the open source dreams we built from living within the debris
have been bulldozed for pre-fabricated dreams
that come with closing contracts and first last and security

you only owned the blood you spilled here until you spilled it
you only owned the saliva you spit here until it hit pavement
you only owned the piss you took here until it wet the cornerstone
we only had the idea and the ideal we never had the deed
and without the deed you only own the memories
and memories don’t pay bank notes

even vagabonds need to be from somewhere
what will i say when they ask
my answers will be mythology
my stories will be artifacts in a museum
the way of being that i grew up with
shaped by a place that no longer exists
all of it will be ethnography anthropology archeology

we survived the extinction of this place
only to record what once was
we survived the extinguishing of the fire
only to feel the cold
we survived the execution of these streets
only to breathe life into ghosts as they pass through us

the broken glass glistening like fake diamonds swept
the rough texture of years smoothed
and the vibrant aerosol colors of memorials drained
these few remaining familiar faces dying
surrounded by strangeness without ever having moved
surrounded by the unfamiliar without ever having left
to be replaced with the tenants of the ahistorical
maybe it’s only an intoxicating nostalgia
or a yearning for an anarchism that left us to our own devices
but you can’t blame us for
wishing that it would all rust in piss once again

– vagabond

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-BW


2013 A Record of Rebellion

In an effort to catalogue my creative output over the past year i’m posting the various projects that came to fruition in 2013. i produced, directed and edited three documentary web series. The idea for these web series came about when i wanted to create a record of a history that i felt wasn’t being recorded for future generations. i wanted to create a record of rebels and their rebellions and hear it from those who had to live through it. More of these histories in the form of web series are coming in 2014.

For the few folks out there who appreciate watching things longer than 5 minutes online i have compiled each of the web series into single videos. If you want to see the original web series as they were released you can click on the links to be connected to the complete series.


The first one was An On Going Cost To Be Free, an 11-part series on current US held Black Unity Council & Black Liberation Army political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz who has been in prison for over 40 years. He’s served over 20 years of that time in isolation where the lights in his cell are never turned off and he’s allowed one hour of exercise a day in another small cage. i interviewed his son Russell Shoatz III initially to get the perspective of what it must be like to have grown up with your father as a political prisoner. The interview became larger in scope and became the detailed story of Russell Maroon Shoatz and his incredible strength through the trials and tribulations of his imprisonment.


The second web series was Sacrifice Without Hesitation a five-part series on Luis Rosa a former US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war who served 20 years in US prisons. Luis was a member of the FALN Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional (Armed Forces of National Liberation) a clandestine armed organization that fought to free Puerto Rico from US colonialism. In 1999 Luis was pardoned by then President Clinton. In Sacrifice Without Hesitation he tells his story of how he became politicized, his arrest, his imprisonment and subsequent freedom.


The third web series was John Penley: Anarcho-Yippie a six-part series on my friend John Penley. John was a freelance photojournalist who documented NYC’s Lower East Side counter-culture movement for two decades. He donated his archive of 30,000 images to NYU’s Tamiment Library. After losing his job and his home he joined the Occupy movement and lived on the streets protesting. In the winter of 2013 he decide to protest NYU’s rampant expansion plans that are accelerating gentrification. During the day he worked on his archive at the library and at night slept outside of the library on the sidewalk by night in the cold, wet and snow while the archive he donated to their library was safe, warm and dry. i spoke to John about his life, his work, his politics, his protest with NYU and NYC’s larger gentrification issues and his unique point of view on the future.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1go

John Penley Anarcho-Yippie (Pt.6)


This is the final episode of the web series of John Penley Anarcho-Yippie. In this episode John talks about the crossroads between technology and radical protest. He speaks about the roots of hacking within the Yippies and how many of the things that the Yippies did were a precursor to Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street. John also talks about some of the differences between the Yippies and Occupy Wall Street. The series ends with John talking about how he became homeless and the very real threat that he may end up dying on the street…

To see the whole web series click here…

Follow John on Twitter @jpenleypixcom

Check out John’s Archive @ Tamimnet Library here…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-15z

John Penley Anarcho-Yippie (Pt5)


In this episode of JOHN PENLEY ANARCHO-YIPPIE John talks about some of his more memorable experiences with the Yippies and how he developed a relationship with the Mohawk people. He also talks about some of his experiences as a photojournalist reveling in a one story in which he got a photo of former Mayor Ed Koch callously walking through an ACT-UP protest. John wraps up this episode with a warning to working class and poor people proposing that revolution may be the only solution left for them…

You can see the Parts 1 – 4 of John Penley Anarcho-Yippie here…

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-150

John Penley Anarcho-Yippie (Pt4)


In this episode of JOHN PENLEY ANARCHO-YIPPIE John talks about his support of Bradley Manning and his own experience in the US military and the reason why he relates so deeply to Manning. He also speaks about his recent run in with the law and about the realization that many of his friends are in prison for trying to make the world a better place. He also talks about the Obama administrations ability to kill or imprison American citizens at will and without due process. John wraps up this episode talking some more about his experiences in Zucotti Park with Occupy Wall Street.

To check out Parts 1 –  3 click here

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-147

John Penley Anarcho-Yippie (Pt3)


In this episode of John Penley Anarcho-Yippie, John compares and contrasts his experiences with the Yippies with his days in Zucotti Park and being involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement. John also talks a little bit about more his archive of 30,000 images in the Tamimnet Library at NYU. As he does he reminisces about his days as photojournalist documenting the Squatters movement of NYC’s Lower East Side.

To check out Part’s 1 & 2… click here

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-139