Paris Rips McCain for His Obama Attack Ad

So now, Paris Hilton’s ripping on John McCain for having the nerve to put her in his Obama attack ad. Late last Sunday Paris’s mother Kathy slammed McCain for the waste of money, time and attention given to the ad in a blog for The Huffington Post. But Paris has made a big step further, taking her response to McCain and his ad to the camera in a scripted piece, saying “I’ll see you at the debates, bitches!!” Oh, and by the way, Paris wants to know if it will be alright to paint the White House pink.

Paris Hilton Slams John McCain

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Captivated by New York City’s Lower East Side

Captivated by New York City’s Lower East Side: Tompkin’s Square Park

In The New York Times, Colin Moynihan has written a wonderful article about Q. Sakamaki a Japanese photographer living in New York. During the last 15 years Mr. Sakamati has won a reputation as an acclaimed documentarian of conflict and suffering. From the civil war in Liberia to the misery of sex workers in Bangladesh, he has created pictorial narratives of the devastation that unfolds when military or economic forces collide with ordinary human lives.

His latest work returns to his early days in New York City, when he was still adjusting to a new home and a new avocation, photography, after having given up a job at an advertising agency in Osaka. Upon arriving in the city in 1986, he moved to the East Village, where he was alternately charmed and horrified by what he saw. Dilapidated and abandoned buildings lined the streets. Entire blocks were filled with little more than rubble and bricks. Heroin was sold in candy stores, and gunshots sounded in the night. In the morning he sometimes spotted the bodies of people who had been killed or had died of overdoses.

Even more surprising was the huge number of people who were living on the sidewalks. “The homeless people were spread out all over the neighborhood,” Mr. Sakamaki recalled. “It was like a third world city.” Before long he was drawn to Tompkins Square Park, which was then the East Village’s central gathering spot, where he found a lively mix of people. There were law students, punks, poets and older, lifelong residents who could remember the days of the New Deal.

Twenty years ago this week the neighborhood was also much like a war zone as protesters clashed with police officers seeking to enforce a curfew in the park. Mr. Sakamaki has explained that,”This [work] focuses on Tompkins Square Park as the symbol and stronghold of the anti-gentrification movement, the scene of one of the most important political and avant-garde movements in New York history.”

As his black-and-white photographs make clear, Mr. Sakamaki found much that was life-affirming amidst the ongoing experiences of conflict and poverty. The energy and camaraderie of the people who banded together in the face of such suffering and adversity captivated him; so did the desire of East Villagers to create their own social order even as they received little help from mainstream society. The struggles he documented took place against a backdrop of rapid and sometimes greedy gentrification that took hold in the 1980s and is the unifying theme for the photographs in this pictorial documentary.

Photographs of political protests, demonstrations and police responses that range from arrests inside the park in 1989 to a clash in May 1991, when bottles flew through the air and police officers in visored helmets formed a line across Avenue B. Mr. Sakamaki documents a major demonstration a week later in which a crowd marched on Avenue A at night to condemn the city’s decision to shut the park and bulldoze part of it.

But the work focuses most of all upon the lives of the homeless people who lived in the park or on the nearby streets. The streets and park paths shown in his documentary still exist, of course, but many of the people who populated that landscape have died or left town. Mr. Sakamaki’s photography has always been about people, from the street children of Rio de Janeiro to denizens of an empty lot on Avenue C.

In the end Mr. Sakamaki’s photographs of the East Village and Tompkins Square Park is a valediction of to lost people and a lost place that has been supplanted by a neighborhood that he finds rather sterile and uninspiring. “We lost our culture,” he said, “and we lost control of our dreams.”

Captivated by the Lower East Side: Tompkins Sq. Park

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