Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tom Lee talks about life in the East Village and his late partner, Arthur Russell

I've been a champion of Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, the debut feature from Brooklyn-based filmmaker Matt Wolf. Russell, who died of AIDS in 1992 at age 40, was an East Village resident who "bridged the gap between the artistic vanguard and dancefloor hits, The Kitchen and Studio 54." The film plays at MoMa on Dec. 19.

On Friday, Gothamist published a Q-and-A with Russell's partner, Tom Lee. Here's an excerpt:

How have you seen the city change, both personally and through the music/social scene, from the era that was shown in the film? Of course there were many parts of the East Village that were not safe in the early ‘80’s, and you were always looking over your shoulder or had a heightened sense of awareness that I feel isn’t as necessary now. But it was also our ‘neighborhood’, and if we didn’t know where the other one was we would know to stop in at The Bar on Second Avenue, or at the St. Mark’s Bookstore. In that time before cell phones we would leave each other quick notes on the kitchen counter, such as: “I’ll be right back,” “I went for a run,” “Be back at 9:00, put the rice on.”

Given the opportunity, how would you change New York? As many people might hope for I wish that New York was an affordable place for people to live…not just artists and musicians and dancers, who enrich our lives with their work, but for anyone who might want to live here and take advantage of life in the city.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Friday, September 26, 2008
Starting tonight at the IFC -- Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell

Celebrating Arthur Russell


Karate Boogaloo said...

I loved the film & thought Tom seemed like a very cool guy.

EV Grieve said...

Yes! And I was surprised how much of Arthur's work I had heard before...without actually realizing it was Arthur.