Last night, the Howl Festival screened two films with the theme of Tompkins Square Park. We were one of only a few (very few) people who showed up, so it was more of a private screening, making it kind of special (for us, not the festival).
The first, Abigail Child's B/Side, was a 40-minute montage of images from the tent camps of the early 90's interspersed with farm workers from the Caribbean (Cuba? Bahamas? it was hard to tell), presumably the heritage of the same people living in these squalid New York conditions, and a vague story of a day in the life of a woman who was living there. This was a difficult film to decipher, and I was unable to fix the places she filmed, but it had beautiful images and a haunting soundtrack.
The second film was "What About Me?", which Rachel Amodeo's filmed between 1989 and 1992. Rachel and her partner Henry are my neighbors and I'd heard about this film for many years but had never seen it. After the first 10 minutes something in the projector broke and so we had about 45 minutes of waiting. Luckily, the curator was there and was eager to interview them and ask questions, so we had the chance to hear how the film got made and some anecdotes about some of the key scenes.
This screening was shown it in its original 16mm format, and the cinematography by Henry Jones and Mark Brady was luscious and is what makes this film worthwhile, making up a lot of ground for some of the sketchy performances by downtown legends Richard Hell, Richard Edson, Rockets Redglare, Johnny Thunders, DeeDee Ramone and others. I'm not sure how it would translate to a TV screen, but the film itself was stunning. Filmed in dozens of locations and East Village apartments, it has turned out to be an homage to its time. The soundtrack by Johnny Thunders was perfect.
The scene with DeeDee Ramone is a classic. According to Rachel, he heard that Johnny Thunders was in the film, and so, being competitive, he also wanted to be in it. She told him she had a role as a homeless guy in the park, and that he should come dressed as a Vietnam vet. When he showed up, much to her dismay, he was dressed as a Ramone, but, they proceeded anyways. Here is the scene: