Monday, January 10, 2011

Ferrara on NYC

Anthology Film Archives is hosting a series of Abel Ferrara films from January 7 - 18. Camera in the Sun talked with Ferrara and he had some things to say about Mulberry Street, the Chelsea Hotel, and New York City. Here are some excerpts.

photo: Derin Thorpe for Paper

On Mulberry St:

"It’s a street I was living on. It’s a street that I knew. It’s something I wanted to capture. And it’s a place now that’s different than when I shot that film, but still it’s a traditional Italian neighborhood that’s becoming a commercial restaurant district crossed with the yuppie very-wealthy downtown New York vibe. You know, super-high rents, super-successful people. All these apartments and cold water flats from the turn-of-the-century — they’re right now high-priced pads, and every square inch is battled over. And it’s basically a block within a Chinese neighborhood."

On the Chelsea Hotel:

"I grew up outside the city, so we used to come to Greenwich Village to get ripped off in pot deals. We never went to the Chelsea Hotel. I remember the first time I was there, but then, you know, it’s funny--some people, from Janis Joplin on down, these guys, they would just come and sit in the lobby. I mean, I don’t know what they expected to get out of it."

On the changes to Manhattan in recent years:

"The difference is that every square inch is taken. Every square inch is fought over. Every square inch, everyone is sucking the life out of anybody who’s renting and taking whatever. New York, it’s been kind of the mecca of the world, but now it’s super-duper mecca. And that’s where it’s at. I mean, I came to seek my fortune in Manhattan. You can only come to Manhattan if you have a fortune, or you’ve got some kind of hustle where you’ve got a rent-controlled apartment or you’re living with your mother. You’re not gonna come to Manhattan and start from scratch. It ain’t happening. It was more possible in 1975. I think it was all gone by the early ’90s. But it’s definitely long-gone now. I mean if you’re living in Manhattan, you’d better have a job, ’cause you’re definitely paying rent."


Anonymous said...

"We used to come to Greenwich Village to get ripped off in pot deals."

That reminds me of a scene in Mean Streets. Perhaps you know what I'm talking about.

He, of course, is right about almost everything else regarding the abysmal socio-economic landscape of today's NYC, as is this blog. The insult added to injury is being mowed over not by the mere well-to-do, but by the utterly narcissistic and uncultured well-to-do -- as this blog also consistently points out. Although one frequent kibbitzer here is also correct that many of the world's urban finance centers/tourist destinations have suffered the same fate, only worse, because there's no hint of historic preservation/zoning enforcement in play. Check out the book Evil Paradises for more...

ohanita said...

new york feels so over. Now that chelsea Hotel is for sale, is there onwe authentic inch left in Manhattan? I read today that Andre Balaczs is eying the Chelsea, though I think one of his properties is in foreclosure (correct me if I am wrong) and am not sure how he coul finance the purchase of the chelsea without backing from rich arabs or a japanese hotelg roup of something along thiose unpleasant lines. What a shame.

Cookiepuss said...

Great comments love you Abel- unfortunately I'm pissed at how so many artists, actors, filmmakers, writers, etc. started out here(i'll refer to downtown), and once successful turned the other way towards the negative gentrification.
No doubt celebrities, including actors filmmakers, etc., as well as others in the arts who may not necessarily fall into the category of celebrity have reaped the rewards of gentrification. I understand that once you become successful and are in the public eye that you are now on the other side and need to protect yourself- but did these people really have to take everything. These people have been and continue to be some of the biggest culprits in the demise of our city. They are the ones who took over Tribeca- They are the ones who took over the West Village -They are the ones who opened high end restaurants, etc.
Even something like the Tribeca Film Festival with its academy awards-like red carpet ceremony is so manipulative- on the one hand it showcases all kinds of films and thats good-but on the other hand it brings all these people and celebrities downtown- just as Bloomberg planned. Once in town they need hotels and restaurants- and well what can I say just take a look at the Bowery......

Anonymous said...

Riffing on what Cookiepuss said

The cultural (and taste) gap between film stars and a B&T bozo (who has since turned into a Manhattan bozo) with a little too much money has narrowed to a hair's width. How much distance separates a Hollywood celeb with collagen lips and Snooki with her tan in a can? (I don't mean to be sexist here. There are obviously male parallels.) Not much. And it all comes together in the glass-and-steel "luxe" (gag) hotels of downtown.

Anonymous said...


And then there's a further mash-up
in luxe-world with the matchbox "hipsters" (scare quotes intentional) of today. As one piece posted here the other day put it so nicely: "perfectly coiffed bedhead hair." (Sometimes I want to do extreme violence to these people, especially if they're looking glaze-eyed into an touchscreen, or showing their pearly pearly whites.) It seems that NYC is following, rather than leading, Tokyo (and Seoul) these days.