As our city continues to vanish, more and more people are asking the question, “Has New York lost its soul?” And discovering the answer is yes, they are working to preserve whatever is left – through writing, photography, filmmaking, painting, etc. Documentary filmmaker Reed Fulton Korach is one of these people and his short film, New York Lost, is his attempt to hold on to our city.
In Little Italy: "I expected something like Goodfellas and...it’s more like You’ve Got Mail."
In the film, Korach interviews everyday New Yorkers on the street, small-business owners, as well as public figures such as Sion Misrahi, the developer who is transforming the Lower East Side into a luxury locale. Through it all runs the question, “Has New York lost some of the magic and verve it once had?”
The answers are mixed, depending on who’s doing the talking. Misrahi seems to disagree, envisioning a future filled with “air and light” and “tall buildings.” I guess people who live in his tall buildings will have air and light, but what about the rest of us? Mike Rizzuto, a Fulton Fish Market worker, misses his air and light. The new market at Hunts Point, he says, “is basically a prison. We lost a lot in that fish market.”
"I invested 35 yrs down in that fish market and it became a part of me."
Korach was inspired to make this film after the old Fulton Fish Market closed down and he realized that the city of his birth was slipping away. His mission, he told me “is to make people aware of what's going on in a visual way, and let them decide for themselves whether or not the change is good.”
Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, responding to the corporate homogenization of the city, says, "Maybe the trendoids, jetsetters, and freakazoids of Manhattan...can dig on that, but if you're a borough boy...you just take umbrage to this."
Mike Gallagher of Gallagher’s Gallery and Archive on East 12th is firmly in the “not good” camp, as he says, “It’s like they’re raping the landscape… It’s a lost, lost, lost place.”
"The Village is not the Village anymore."
It's always comforting to hear my own sentiments echoed by others, but I like the fact that Korach doesn’t just speak to the nostalgists, he also interviews people who believe these devastating changes are for the better. I find it fascinating to hear from these people and I’d like to see someone make an entire film that investigates their thinking and behavior.
One guy on the Lower East Side, for example, really wants the city to be “nice.” He says, “I think it’s great to have a lot of restaurants. It makes things convenient and nice... It would definitely be very nice if the city and developers were to take an active role in making everything nicer.”
"Everybody likes Whole Foods down here, I’m sure, except for a few renegades."
It's true that there are only a few renegades left around here. And if a renegade is someone who hates to see New York turning into Cloneville, then Reed Korach is one. He told me, “Change can be good, and I am all for change, but when change means replicating every block to look the same and wiping out family-owned businesses and raising the rents so high only the super wealthy can live here, this is not the kind of change that is for the better.”