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Photos: When the Republican National Convention Came to the East Village

With the Republican National Convention underway in Tampa, Fla., photographer Matthew Kraus shares some thoughts and images of a convention that hit closer to home.

The few years following 9/11 were an interesting time in New York City. There seemed to be a closeness among New Yorkers that only such an event could foster. And there was certainly more than a little dissatisfaction in what our government was doing, partially in the name of that day. So when the Republican Party chose New York as the location of its convention during its 2004 bid to reelect Bush, there was a sizable amount of protest in all the usual places (the U.N., City Hall, Wall Street, etc.). Meanwhile in and around the East Village, I started noticing more and more signs, posters and predominantly stickers.

In those days, I would walk my then three-year-old to school from 14th Street and Avenue C to Second Street and Avenue A, and if I took a different route every day, I could photograph no less than 20 unique versions of these “protests.” They went up with shocking volume and speed and ranged from direct confrontation with Bush, to specific 9/11 references; from general rejection of the Republican Party to actual calls for action. Read more…

After 9/11, An East Village Mosque Reaches Out to Its Neighbors

For much of America’s Muslim community, the 9/11 terrorist attacks changed their relationship with the rest of American society – for the worse.  Broad government surveillance and discriminatory law enforcement policies, combined with an increased suspicion of Muslims by the general public, left many feeling that daily worship had suddenly become synonymous with terrorism. But a decade on, Imam Abu Sufian tells a different narrative.

The Imam, a 35-year old American of Bangladeshi origin, sat on fading jade-colored carpet upstairs at Madina Masjid – the redbrick mosque with an unobtrusive turquoise minaret on the corner of First Avenue and 11th Street. Speaking softly and holding a worn, leather-bound copy of the Koran in his hands, he wanted to highlight positive developments in the mosque’s relationship with East Villagers in the ten years since the terror attacks.  “I would actually say that since 9/11, we have had a greater relationship with the local community than we did before,” he said. “Everyone realized that we needed to get to know each other better.” Read more…

‘Nine/Twelve Tapes’ Dramatizes The Raw Reactions, a Decade Later

nine_twelve The cast, left to right: Andres Munar, Lynne McCollough, Guy Stroman, Lori Prince and Erin Treadway.

Directed by Ryan Pointer, “nine/twelve tapes” is a fascinating reenactment of man-on-the-street interviews conducted by citizen journalist Collin Worster Daniels, mostly during the two days following September 11, 2001. Mr. Daniels had moved to New York shortly before the attacks, and was galvanized to capture the widespread disconnect among his fellow survivors. His tapes sat in a closet for nearly ten years before they were recently turned over to a friend of a friend, playwright Leegrid Stevens.

“I listened to these tapes and was amazed at the immediacy and rawness of the material,” said Mr. Stevens. “They are a time capsule – a bridge back to the thoughts and feelings of that time. They show a people desperately trying to make sense of a world turned upside down, trying to understand it and each other.” During the premiere of “nine/twelve tapes” earlier this month at the Dream Up Festival at the Theater for the New City, the interviews were acted out exactly as they first occurred, with a talented cast performing over the background noise of the original recordings. Read more…

Moving His 9/11 Art West, Mosaic Man is Now ‘Spread Over Both Villages’

IMG_2821Stephen Rex Brown Jim Power’s planter honoring the 9/11 first responders at its new home on Seventh Avenue.

A 9/11 memorial in the West Village got a surprise addition to its collection on Saturday. In a frenzied mix of patriotism and general disgust with the state of Astor Place, “Mosaic Man” Jim Power decided to move his planter dedicated to first responders from its original spot.

Mr. Power said the decision came to him after learning that the Walk of Remembrance honoring Rev. Mychal Judge, a firefighter who died while giving last rites to a comrade at the World Trade Center, would pass by the Tiles For America memorial at Seventh Avenue and 11th Street.
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