BOOK COVER & TABLE OF CONTENTS
On the Light on April 18th, 2016
Book cover | front & backside
CLAYTON PATTERSON: INTRODUCTION pages 1—48 JIM FEAST: PREFACE pages 49—56 ANNE ARDOLINO: SONG TO COCHISE page 57 JOSE "COCHISE" QUILES: MY LIFE ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE pages 59—176 JOSE "COCHISE" QUILES: LOWER EAST SIDE GANG ENTITIES pages 177—183 MARC LEVIN: GANG WORLD pages 185—189 MICHAEL McCABE: THE HELL BURNERS pages 191—197 MONICA USZEROWICZ: A WINDOW TO THE SOUL OF A NEIGHBORHOOD pages 199—209 DRAWINGS BY COCHISE pages 211—231 PHOTOGRAPHS BY CLAYTON PATTERSON pages 233—271 INDEX page 273—290
Preview by Clayton Patterson:
COCHISE AND THE LAST REAL STREET GANG OF THE L.E.S.
Published in: The Villager | New York | February 16, 2012
Documenting the streets and the people of New York City, in my case, mostly the Lower East Side, can yield rewards as well as have its drawbacks. Most of the negative incidents happen because people are high on drugs or drunk, or have something to hide, or because the people are paranoid and imagine you are working for some government authority. Or for whatever psychological reason I have never been able to figure out, the police have also been known to take great offense to being documented doing their job. But the rewards far outweigh the downside.
In 1990 Dinkins becomes mayor of N.Y.C. In 1991 Tompkins Square Park is cleared of the homeless and closed for renovations. Then the band shell is torn down. Then “Dinkinsville” on Eighth St. burns down as cops come in to evict the lot, and the protests continued.
One day there is a constant and aggressive ringing of my doorbell. I answer the door and standing there are three menacing-looking guys all wearing colors. The black and red colors look like the kind of embroidered patches a motorcycle club wears on the back of their jackets. The top rocker in black letters with a red background reads, “SATAN’S SINNERS.”
On the bottom rocker, in the same color scheme is “NOMADS.” The middle patch is made of a white skull with a red eye patch covering the left eye, wearing a WWII German black helmet with a red swastika in the middle. The background has an outline of flame in black. A strong image, to say the least.
From the person I assumed was the leader I get the intimidating: “Yo, what’s up?” Followed by, I hear that you have been documenting people in the park and giving the information to the cops.
I respond with, Not sure where you are getting your information from, but I tell you I shot the riot tape that helped get the night classified as a police riot. I have been arrested a bunch of times for documenting police brutality, and no, I do not work for the cops.
I was lucky. Turns out that Cochise, the leader, was an intelligent person and he said he would get to the bottom of this. And he did.
One of the junkie protesters by the name of Stacy, living in a squat with her Satan’s Sinner boyfriend Rocco, wanted to see me beaten up. Why Stacy was mad at me, who knows?
I discovered that the Satan’s Sinners had no connection to motorcycles, but were an L.E.S. street gang. And they were the last of the L.E.S. classic street gangs. Spider, who shows up in my ’88 Tompkins Square police riot tape, is a member of “Tent City” and is an associate member of the Sinners. Another gang member, Mantis, also lived in T.S.P. and was a member of Tent City, which is why Cochise had a Tent City button on his jacket.
As far as people go, these guys did not scare me, since I grew up in a tough working-class neighborhood. I left home between grade 9 and 10. I had been homeless and was a high school dropout, so talking to these guys was not a big stretch for me.
The blessing that came out of this initial confrontation was truth trumped the lies and Cochise realized Stacy was lying. When the drama died down, I found out that the gang’s clubhouse was in a casita (a small shack), in a lot, which extended between Third St. and Fourth St., between Avenues C and D. This was the last of a long tradition of street gangs on the L.E.S.
Turns out that Cochise and I became friends, which meant that I was able to document the Sinners. I was given unlimited access. And in return, I did what I could to help them with whatever useful assets I could provide. After I learned that Cochise was the person who designed the club’s colors, I knew that he was an authentic artist, so I persuaded him to get involved with painting and drawing. He produced a sizable body of artwork and I included him in some art shows in my gallery.
The good fortune that came out of Cochise producing art is I was able to intrigue Herbert (Bert) Waide Hemphill, Jr., to look at Cochise’s work. Bert was one of the founding members of the Folk Art Museum in N.YC. I had made Bert a Clayton cap, an embroidered jacket back and had documented his story on video and in photographs. So I knew something of Bert’s discriminating taste. One day Bert and I came to visit Cochise at the clubhouse, and Bert ended up purchasing some of Cochise’s work. When Bert passed, his prized collection ended up in museums.
Since the Sinners were the last street gang on the L.E.S. and there are people seriously interested in the history of N.Y.C. street gangs, and the L.E.S. gangs have been so overlooked, I wanted to get them as much exposure as possible. I introduced a few of the members — including Heavy, Mantis, Manny and Cochise — to Flo Kennedy and she interviewed them for her TV show. At this time I was connected to the Spirit newspaper, and a reporter did a story on the club. A reporter for Channel 9 news interviewed the Sinners. Since I documented tattoos and had a connection to Outlaw Biker magazine, I got a writer from the mag do a story on the gang. I included them in one of my “Clayton Presents” M.N.N. public-access TV shows. Angel, one of the members, worked as a custodian for the Cooper Square Committee. And both he and Manny were acoustic guitar players and singers. I have an especially poignant moment in one of the videos taken at “Sucker Hole” — the old band shell at Grand St. on the F.D.R. Drive — where Manny sings “Pardon Maria.”
The gang was interested in tattoos. Most of the tattoos they had were done by hand poking. Cochise and Heavy wanted a professional tattoo done with modern electric equipment. Since I was the president of the Tattoo Society of N.Y., I brought them to a club meeting and introduced them to artists. This was during a period when tattoos were illegal in N.Y.C., and it was an underground activity. The club was responsible for incubating the N.Y.C. generation that broke out in the early ’90s. One of the top artists did Satan’s Sinner tattoos on Cochise and Heavy. Cochise in turn gave me a handmade prison tattoo machine for my Outlaw Art Museum collection.
The Sinners hold down an especially important section in the Clayton archives, and many productive things happened during that period. The downside, the dark and evil side came out when Cochise drank a belly full of hard liquor. For some drinkers, Jack Daniels can come on like liquid crack. One especially dark and dangerous night, Cochise and another member, for all intents and purposes, killed two members. However, they lived, and Cochise and Heavy were sent to prison. Heavy is still locked up, and recently, after 18 years, Cochise came out.
In jail Cochise turned his life around. He did a four-year apprenticeship and got his journeyperson’s papers as an offset lithographic press operator. Now that he is out, he wants to be a guidance councilor for the youth who are at risk at getting into the lifestyle. There are no more street gangs on the L.E.S., but they have been replaced by different kinds of associations, like the Bloods, the Crips and the Latin Kings, which can lead to going to prison and are national rather than just neighborhood. My interest is that Cochise continues making his art, since I would like to show his new work, and my hope is that he will write a book about L.E.S. street gangs. I would like to help him with this book project.
The Street Gangs of the Lower East Side "keeps it real." Jose "COCHISE" Quiles provides a brutally honest, self-reflective and moving account of one badass gangbanger's struggle to break the cycle of violence and poverty since birth through creativity and compassion for others. Quiles's eventual redemption Springs from a life spent keeping one foot on either side of the line between good and evil. Always religious and dreaming of encounters with angels, he teils about his association with OBIE Award-Winning playwright Miguel Pinero, the famous Nuyorican Poet. Yet, Quiles pulls no punches describing the violent drug-fueled conduct that sent him to prison twice, where he finally realized: "I had become a monster, and I made a vow to myself to change. . . . I told young prisoners, what you should conclude is that if you want to go down in history, concentrate on poetry not thuggery." This book should be required reading for every young adult wherever gang cultures exist in the world.---Jody Weiner, author of the novel Prisoners of Truth and a former Chicago criminal defense attorney.
Jose "COCHISE" Quiles rose from gang leader to become an historian of gangs, a spokesperson for the dangers of La Vida Loca and an artist and author who creates the way Van Gogh did--with a joyous sense of desperate edge, for the sake of sheer survival. This book of major historical importance is also a testament to the triumph of the human spirit and will serve to both inspire and warn generations of youth to come.---Alan Kaufman,author of Drunken Angel and editor of The Outlaw Bible of American Literature.
Jose "Cochise" Quiles — Just want to acknowledge my Mother, Juanita Vargas, for always believing in me, and Clayton, you made this book possible by encouraging me to write it while I was in prison.
Clayton Patterson — This book is the story of Jose "Cochise" Quiles. Cochise proves there is a high level of creativity and intelligence in the struggling classes. Those who care about Lower East Side history owe him a debt of gratitude for saving this history. Jim Feast, the editor, has spent his life editing and helping get published numerous well qualified but disadvantaged people. Dietmar Kirves is more than the designer. He is the backbone of the history of Boris Lurie and the NO!art movement. So much of NO!art history would never have been saved or have happened without Dietmar. This NO!art support extends over to my work which includes this book. Jody Weiner, a lawyer and writer, has always been there when those dark legal demons show up. He has solved many of the book publishing issues. Nancy Calef, artist and designer, brought it home. Marc Levin has spent a large part of his life documenting, saving, and giving intelligent insights into the history of the normally overlooked and forgotten, but highly valuable contributors to society. Mike McCabe through writing and collecting has saved and made important parts of tattoo history, which may not have had a life without his breath. Carlos "Karate Charlie" Suarez and Benjamin "Yellow Benji" Melendez, leaders of the Ghetto Brothers, created a first-person history that is a true gem of NYC Street Gang history. These two were instrumental in creating a NYC truce between numerous Street gangs, which ended up saving many lives and became a leading force in helping make the inner city a safer and more livable landscape. My hope is that this book will help bring a truce between these two guys. They are both of equal importance towards making this truce happen. They each had a special quality, which made the earlier truce happen. So it is time guys to give the conflict up and make your own peace if for no other reason than showing the youth that old friends turned bitter competitors can once again make peace between themselves. Fernando "Triby" Rivera for being a friend and giving me an insight in the meaning of NETA and PRM Puerto Rican Mafia. David Gunns of the Allen Boys for giving insight into the history of the Allen Boys.
Alan Kaufman has been a major supporter of Cochise’s and my work. Alan has focused a section of his writing on giving a life to Outlaw culture. His book The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry is a landmark sitting alongside other classic American anthologies on library shelves. His next Outlaw book will feature Outlaw Art. Cochise, and I will be in this book.
REVIEW by NICOLE DISSER
BLAST FROM THE PAST
From the Allen Street Boys to Satan’s Sinners
Street Gangs of the Lower East Side
Published in: BEDFORD & BOWERY, New York, on April 18, 2016
Last week, Elliot Caldwell was fatally shot outside of Campos Plaza, the NYCHA public housing project where he’d grown up. An EV Grieve commenter noted that the 23-year-old had been arrested in 2013 when the Manhattan DA busted alleged members of the Money Boyz, a coke-dealing gang based out of the East Village housing project. DNAinfo wrote that a woman claiming to be Caldwell’s aunt told reporters: "He was a great father. He changed his life for his son. He just got caught up in a bad situation."
The NYPD told B+B that the suspect in Caldwell’s shooting is described as a "black male wearing a red hoodie," who "fled from the scene on foot." So far there have been no arrests, and police say the investigation is ongoing.
While the proximity of a glittery Whole Foods where you can buy pre-peeled oranges and multimillion-dollar luxury hotels make it easy to forget the East Village and Lower East Side were once havens for violence and gang activity, if you pay attention there are occasional, bloody reminders of the area’s past, which still seeps in to the present. Or taken another way, these are reminders that, for some residents, violence has remained a harsh reality despite the presence of conspicuous wealth. However, Jose "Cochise" Quiles– co-author of a new book along withClayton Patterson, The Street Gangs of the Lower East Side– sees the connection between then and now with a much greater clarity.
"Where I live right now, I still live on the Lower East Side, and there’s still a lot of gang activity," Quiles explained. "It’s not the way it was back then, but it’s still there. And a lot of them are very young, 12 and up. And they’re looking for attention, they’re looking to become somebody in this underworld, these baby-faced kids, no longer in school, these kids carry guns bigger than both their hands. This is crazy, but this is the reality of our world."
But while violence is brutal in any form, the neighborhood’s past was even worse. As Patterson explained of the book, which is partially devoted to Cochise’s experiences growing up on the Lower East Side, there was a time when "almost every block down here had a gang."
Back when Jose "Cochise" Quiles and Clayton Patterson first met, it wasn’t exactly under the friendliest of circumstances. At the time Cochise, a native New Yorker raised in the downtown Puerto Rican community, was the leader of a street gang called the Satan’s Sinners Nomads, and he’d heard from a friend that Patterson– a fellow resident of the Lower East Side and local artist-activist known in the community for his video camera documentation of police misconduct– was actually working for the police.
"We used to see this guy with a skull cap, an embroidered jacket back, with a camera constantly– click, click, click, click," Quiles recalled. One day, as he remembers it, one of the gang member’s girlfriends said, "You see that guy over there? He’s a snitch and he’s selling everybody out. He’s taking his pictures and his video camera footage and he’s givin’ em to the cops." Eventually, Cochise knocked on Clayton’s door, ready to confront him. The year was 1992.
As Patterson recalls in the introduction to The Street Gangs of the Lower East Side, rather than immediately flipping out on him, Cochise "listened carefully to what I had to say." Once the two determined that the rumors about Clayton being a police informant were just that, rumors– they bonded over their shared love for the neighborhood. And today, more than 20 years later, the friends still convene on the Lower East Side, an area that Clayton has spent decades documenting, and a place that Cochise has only recently returned to.
"I wound up doing 25 years, almost half my life, in prison because of gang activity– I’ve been in Attica, I’ve been in Clinton Correctional Facility, I’ve been in Sing Sing," Cochise recalled during a recent interview. Having served several separate stints in prison, Cochise was finally released for the last time in 2012. He returned to the only other home he’s known, the Lower East Side, where he still lives today, to find a completely different landscape from the one he grew up in. Still, he says, the same problems that led him to gang life remain in the neighborhood, albeit to a lesser degree, and it’s their staying power that partially inspired him to write this book– a colorful compendium of LES gang history that’s one part memoir and two parts ethnography. "I used to see the attention that these guys got. I wanted to be a part of that, I wanted to be accepted," Cochise remembered of his childhood.
Together, Patterson and Quiles make for quite the bookwriting team– on the one hand, there’s Clayton the historian, the outspoken political activist, and the community’s vocal guard dog, and on the other is Cochise, who has no problem being the cautionary tale, a walking, talking example of what happens to the systematically oppressed when there are few other options for survival but a stint in the underworld. While too much of one or the other voice might make for an incomplete history of local street gangs or a crime-prison-redemption cliché, in tandem they’ve made a compelling book. It’s all backed with visuals (Clayton’s photographs, Cochise’s drawings) and research that was conducted by both parties, behind bars and outside of prison walls.
Cochise might not be winning any awards for his prose just yet, but the memories contained in this first book feel like honest ones. And taken along with the invaluable insider knowledge, stuff that could only be obtained by someone who’s really lived this underworld life, Street Gangs is an original work in that it offers a way to understand a very specific kind of outsider culture and historical moment on the Lower East Side, both of which were shaped by oppression at the time of their existence, and that have since acquired holes in their retelling from either whitewashing or demonization.
When I met up with Clayton and Cochise, we convened at the Outlaw Museum, or Clayton’s Lower East Side apartment. We all sat in the front room with Elsa, Clayton’s partner and collaborator, and the couple’s wriggly black dogs who were intermittently barking, growling, and causing a general ruckus. Cochise seemed unfazed, at home in the chaotic little digs, even jumping up to try and catch the phone at one point while Elsa sat stroking the littler, apparently more sensitive dog who was up in arms about pedestrian dawdling that day.
Cochise sat quietly as Patterson explained his own take on the book’s importance before leaving the room, when his friend took the opportunity to praise him. "Clayton and I became good friends, he involved me in art shows, he introduced me to a lot of cool people, he got me involved in writing– I would never have written that book if it wasn’t for Clayton," Cochise said. "I owe him a lot, and Elsa. They’ve been good friends."
Photo: Nicole Disser
Likewise, Patterson clearly has Cochise’s back. When I arrived, Clayton explained to me how their new book had been rejected by a local book shop, Bluestockings, the self-described "100% volunteer-powered and collectively-owned radical bookstore." Clayton was baffled as to why the shop told him that they wouldn’t be stocking Street Gangs, given their selection of neighborhood-specific titles. "You’re on Allen Street!" Patterson said of the bookstore. "The Allen Boys, which are part of the book, that was their territory." Clayton argued that, to him, this seemed like just "another form of gentrification": "To have this radical bookstore turn a totally blind eye to that history, and you have all these ‘activists’– whatever that means– totally ignoring the history of where you are, it doesn’t make any sense," he said. "It’s supposed to be thelocal bookstore."
B+B reached out to Maria Herron, the Consignment Titles Coordinator at Bluestockings who handed down the rejection. Aside from having a full consignment section, she explained that "the book was presented as a history of gangs and gang violence in the Lower East Side. While we carry titles on many different topics, we generally curate through an intersectional feminist lens, to which this title did not seem related, as it seemed like a book only on the history of violence of our neighborhood." Herron added that "of course," she would reconsider stocking the book somewhere down the line.
Cochise didn’t have any explicit words for Bluestockings, but he insisted to me that he doesn’t "glamorize" violence, and that the book aims to do just the opposite, in fact. "I want to help kids, to steal them away from that lifestyle," he said. The author acknowledged that, "I try to be graphic about it, I tell them about the violence, about how these leaders that I looked up to died violently– drug overdoses, gun violence– they’re all gone, they’re all dead." But he said that it’s important to communicate a true sense of what happened. "I’m left to tell that story of what once was on the Lower East Side."
Even though the mood at our meeting was initially colored by the disagreement with Bluestockings, I noticed that Cochise, despite being a brawny guy, and whatever embedded expectations I have about ex-gang members, maintains a monk-like serenity– there’s a quiet stillness about the guy. He’s deferential to the extreme and exceedingly polite, even when I was asking questions that he’d definitely heard before. Cochise often responded with a flash of preparedness and a hint of didactic speech, but it was almost always overtaken by genuine consideration.
"Look, there’s bad and good between the inmates and prison guards. You’re gonna find it out here anyway– but there is also good," he said. Maybe this ability to see sameness in a new light is a sort of prison survival mechanism. Whatever it is, Cochise seems to be OK with the fact that digging around in the past can be a messy business– sure, you can dish out some easy answers, but when you get to the core of things there’s inevitably going to be some paradox, it’s part of being flawed (oh, and just human).
Behind stories of redemption, there are always the questions of why and how a person needed to be redeemed in the first place. As Clayton argues in answer to a question he poses in the book’s introduction–"Why do people join street gangs?"– well, it’s complicated. Cochise did have some ready-made answers. "I used to look up to the gang members– I’d see the cars, the jewelry, the money– I used to see the attention that these guys got. I wanted to be a part of that, I wanted to be accepted," he recalled. "Back in the late ’60s to early ’70s, we had a lot of street gangs. What did we have in New York? Abandoned buildings, drugs– every neighborhood had a street gang."
Cochise says that he was also looking for "a father figure," after his own father abandoned him. "When I was 10, 11 years old, my father used to live at 22 St. Marks Place, and when he left us, I basically felt like nobody wanted me or my family, my mother. At that age is when I went out on the streets looking for somebody to hang on to."
And yet things are always a little bit more complicated than that. "It’s really the history of the inner city," Clayton said. "In these neighborhoods you almost couldn’t not be involved in these gangs, or at least be affiliated or friends with or deal with, because that was the neighborhood and that’s who ran it."
Gangs offered not just a feeling of belonging, but validation as well. "That’s how I found out about my culture, was through the gang members," Cochise recalled. "A guy named Indio, in the late ’70s he was the leader of a gang called the Katos, and this guy was very well known in the streets, but he would sit me down, and the other kids, and tell us about our culture, what happened when our people came to New York City. He used to tell us names like Pedro Albizu Campos, Lolita Lebrón. It was different from what we were learning in school– the forefathers of America– but we didn’t know anything of our culture and about the place where we came from."
It wasn’t as if Cochise didn’t have any positive reinforcement outside of gangs, either. During our conversation, he recalled encounters with prominent members of the Puerto Rican community– ostensible good influences who met similar fates to those of lifelong gang members. In other words, it seemed to him that tragedy was inescapable. At about 14 years old, Cochise had a run-in with Miguel Piñero, the Puerto Rican playwright and actor, an ex-member of the Dragons (a gang that the book says was "prominent especially on the Lower East Side in the 1950s and ’60s"), and original member of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. (There’s only one surviving member of the Cafe– the rest, as noted in a 2001Times piece, "were murdered or died in jail or of AIDS").
"When my mother had moved us to 6th Street between [Avenue] A and B, the Nuyorican Poets had a storefront studio there, where they used to have fictitious gang jackets with names on it for plays and stuff like that," Cochise recalled. "I used to take the jackets from the walls and pretend to be a gang member. Miguel Piñero one day caught me doing that, it was a brand new Lee jacket. He laughed at me and said, ‘Look kid, you can keep the jacket– if you want the colors, you can keep the colors, man.’ He was giving me, a snot-nosed kid a brand new jacket just to be nice. But to me, I didn’t care about the jacket, I cared about the gang colors."
Several years later, in 1988, Piñero– a heroin addict since the age of 12– was dead from liver disease. "I still remember– he gave me advice, but I always heard the negative, I always went with the wrong side," Cochise lamented. "It doesn’t matter who I was looking up to, they still had their problems with drugs or with violence."
While Cochise’s memoir makes for a large chunk of Street Gangs, the book isn’t just a personal history or even a micro-history of the Puerto-Rican-American LES experience. Rather, both authors made an effort to document a sort of taxonomy of Lower East Side gang history in accounting for well over 20 separate gangs, many of them indigenous to the area. The gangs are described, some in more vivid detail than others, by various indicators such as their "colors"– which, I came to find out for the first time, is not simply red for Bloods and blue for Crips, but a term that refers to a "traditional illustrated jacket," as Clayton writes in the book, complete with the gang’s name and location. Cochise recalled during our conversation that having the privilege of wearing gang "colors" for the first time sent him over the moon as a kid, even if they were faux. He explained that while most of the gangs he writes about in the book are dead and gone, "some of them are still around, they’re no longer street gangs, they’re motorcycle clubs," which explains the familiar aesthetic.
Another point made by Cochise and Patterson in the book is about the fundamental shift in the city’s gang culture. In the ’50s and ’60s, street gangs provided protection for specific blocks and micro-sections of the neighborhood. Just before many of the city’s gangs became more preoccupied with drug dealing in the ’80s and beyond, and larger nationwide chapters of the Bloods and Crips, for example, began to overtake the smaller, neighborhoody gangs, some groups were reacting against what they perceived to be violence spiraling out of control. A few gangs, as the authors argue, actually fought back against the tide, and rose above the rest by seeking to curtail violence altogether.
"The Young Lords were like the Black Panthers, a sort of socially conscious group, which the gangs became for a certain period of time," Patterson explained. In 1971, after the murder of Black Benjy, a member of the South Bronx-based Ghetto Brothers, the gang enacted a truce instead of seeking revenge. "That made people realize, ‘Killing each other isn’t what we should be doing, we should be socially conscious and try and clean up the neighborhood,'" Clayton explained. Cochise added that another gang, the Black Spades, a "very feared, brutal gang– they used to be the most notorious African-American street gang," have transformed into "community activists."
It may have taken Cochise a bit longer to swear off gang life, but still, in its focus on stories of gang rebirth and eventually in Cochise’s personal transformation, Street Gangs is also a classic tale of redemption. The cover design is dominated by an old photo of Cochise (taken by Patterson in 1992, the year they met)– there’s a bandana pulled up over his nose, concealing his face, and dark glasses covering his eyes. His hands are facing the camera palm-up, like a beggar’s, except that he’s holding a small pistol and red baggies full of crack. "A crack dealer aggravated Cochise," a caption inside the book explains. The gangster had taken the dealer’s goods before he later "threw everything into the river."
But it’s Cochise’s clothing that makes for some cognitive dissonance: over a leather jacket, he’s wearing a studded jean vest covered in a variety of insignia– skulls and crossbones, but also a number of swastikas, and even a pair of Nazi Parteiadler. Clearly, we’re looking at the Cochise of yesteryear. As he explained in excerpts from the intro, "The color red symbolizes the blood of our enemies, and the black the death of our enemies." As for the Nazi stuff, Patterson interpreted "Cochise’s use of the swastika […] to be anti-social" rather than antisemitic.
Cochise was making art at this time too. The gang’s clubhouse was filled with his work. "I used to paint everything black, all kinds of demonic figures, sculptures of upside down crosses and everything," he recalled. Both GG Allin and Dash Snow, among other artists, were drawn to Cochise’s work. "I don’t do that stuff no more," he laughed.
Years ago, Cochise and some of his fellow gang members were convicted of attempted murder and ended up serving 18 years in prison. While incarcerated at Clinton Correctional Facility, Cochise got involved as a leader within a prison ministry program known as "Cage Your Rage." As he writes in the book, it was during this last stint that he dealt with his "anger issues" head-on.
During our interview, Cochise recalled another realization during this time. "I’m talking to a friend through my cell, we used to hold out mirrors, and I’m telling him my story, about how I used to be a gang member, how I changed my life and got involved with all this positive stuff, and as I’m sharing that story, a young kid, 17 years old was listening to the conversation. One morning, our cell doors were open, this kid comes up to me, baby-faced kid, I dunno who he was, he says, ‘Thank you.’ I says, ‘For what?’ He says, ‘I was ready to commit suicide, but I heard you talking to your friend.’ He would smile everywhere after that, his smile would light up the whole yard. It was beautiful, and not just for him but for me, because I knew then that I could make a difference in somebody’s life. That I could take my past, and what’s left of my life, and do something with it."
The Street Gangs of the Lower East Side co-authored by Jose "Cochise" Quiles and Clayton Patterson, is available at City Lore, Exit 9, and theHowl! Happening Gallery.
REVIEW by LINCOLN ANDERSEN
L.E.S. gang book’s snub is a punch to the gut
in: THE VILLAGER, New York on April 7, 2016
L.E.S. documentarian Clayton Patterson is ready to rumble after his local independent bookstore declined to sell a new street-tough tome he co-authored with the former leader of the notorious Satan’s Sinner Nomads gang.
Photographer Patterson teamed up with Jose "Cochise" Quiles on the book, "The Street Gangs of the Lower East Side" (Clayton Books).
The book tells the story of Quiles, or as the back-cover copy reads, "one badass gangbanger’s struggle to break the cycle of violence and poverty since birth through creativity and compassion for others."
The Satan’s Sinner Nomads were the last L.E.S. gang to wear colors — displaying the gang’s name on the back of their leather and jean jackets. Quiles went on to do 24 years in prison — including an 18-year stint for attempted murder — recently emerging from jail with a newfound artistic ability and an urge to teach a positive message to local youth, "to concentrate on poetry not thuggery."
But Patterson said this Monday he got the brushoff from Bluestockings at 172 Allen St., when he walked the three blocks from his home on Essex St. to find out if they would sell the book. Opened in 1999, Bluestockings is an all-volunteer, collectively owned feminist and radical bookstore and self-described activist center.
"Imagine, Blue Stockings bookstore will not sell the book," Patterson fumed. "When I went to pick up the copy I left, I asked the person what street he is on. He said Allen. This is the street the Allen Boys came from. Look out this store’s window, see the project across the street — some old Allen Boys still live there. One block over is Forsyth St., which the Forsyth Boys ran. Not to forget, in the community there are still Bloods, Crips, Latin Kings, Latin King Bad Boys and crews and posses.
"Is it because the book is an L.E.S. Hispanic history that Blue Stockings will not carry it?" he asked accusingly. "Anyway, they have no respect for where they are or the history of the area."
However, Maria Herron, the consignment titles coordinator at Bluestockings, said the gangs book — at least at first glance — did not mesh with the store’s general focus.
(The store also has another buyer who focuses on titles from traditional publishers, as opposed to authors and small presses, like Clayton Books.)
Actually, she had told that in an e-mail to Patterson on Sunday, the day before he picked up his review copy.
"I looked over the review copy…and we are going to hold off for now," she wrote him, adding, "Did you try Mast Books or McNally-Jackson?"
"I will be by. tx," Patterson curtly responded.
After getting rejected, rather than just "turn the page," Patterson posted an angry statement on Facebook, which someone from the ABC No Rio arts collective brought to Herron’s attention. Herron — saying she was shocked by the level of Patterson’s anger over the snub — wrote a response to that person, and, in turn, shared the e-mail with The Villager.
"The title was left at Bluestockings for consignment review and I was the one who declined it," Herron wrote. "The book was presented as a history of gangs and gang violence in the Lower East Side. While we carry titles on many different topics, we generally curate the different sections through a lens of intersectional feminism, to which this title did not seem related, as it seemed like a book only on the history of violence of our neighborhood. Also, our consignment roster is pretty full.
"The store receives between four to 10 books every week for consignment review. We generally only say yes to books that make the most sense to carry at Bluestockings."
Herron added that when Patterson picked up his review copy on Monday, it was "not without getting into a verbal altercation with the volunteer staffing at the time."
However, Patterson denied that, saying, "I did not get into an argument. I took the book and I left."
Herron said she personally did not appreciate Patterson posting on Facebook, in "a polemic full of accusations against us," that the store did not want to carry the book because it concerned L.E.S. Latino history.
"As a Cuban-American woman of color myself, this was of course saddening to me," she said, adding, "I also try and work with authors that can demonstrate that they are able to interact with me in a safe and professional manner."
That said, she added, "I actually spent some time with a friend last night who was able to fill me in on Clayton and his contributions to the L.E.S., so I can understand, though, why he may have felt hurt."
Herron added that they haven’t necessarily "closed the book" on the matter, either.
"This is not like a hard ‘no’ to his book," she told The Villager. "Again, if he wanted to have a conversation about it, and was willing to do so in a calm and safe manner, there is always space for one to reconsider, if he really wants us to carry it."
For his part, Patterson sees the book’s rejection as merely another chapter in the hood’s gentrification.
"Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I am still shocked by where the yuppie gentrifiers’ attitude comes from," he said. "The part of the L.E.S. I live in used to be one of the most overlooked, forgotten parts. First night Elsa and I moved into our space, looking out the window, we saw a guy get shot and killed right across the street in front of P.S. 20. We had 24-hour drug sales outside our front door. The streets were controlled by drug crews, posses and gangs like the Allen Boys.
"In jail, Cochise turned his life around and now works counseling young gangbangers about the problems of being in a gang," Patterson said. "He was always interested in L.E.S. street gang history. In jail he talked to many old L.E.S. gangsters and wrote down the information, which he turned into a book.
"The people who now have moved to the neighborhood have no interest in the actual past," Patterson bitterly complained, "only a commoditized representation of the past."
Clayton Patterson: I will respond later as I have to leave NYC for a bit. I will try to when I am on tour. But all this anger she speaks of is silly. She was not there. All I did is ask the guy behind the counter what block he is on. He said Allen Street. I said look across the street that is where some of the Allen Boys were from. And some are still in the community. This book is a community history.
Blue Stockings is a radical activists bookstore. I have done events there. Gone to events there. But it has changed. It has gone through some kind of transformation. As her long time neighbor I am not the last bit surprised she has not idea of my history. I have put in my time as a radical activist. What does she expect when she censors a Lower East Side Hispanic history book I published? I am going to lay down and start purring when our local radical activist bookstore censors a book on the history of the community she has her bookstore in? We have spent years fighting against all different forms of gentrification and this is one more example. A radical activist book store rejecting one of the few Hispanic histories of the community. A book on Latino history which includes the block she is on. What Lower East Side Hispanic history books does she carry? Never carried my Front Door book, or my Legends of the Lower East Side. No longer carries my Resistance a radical political and social history of the lower east side, or Captured a film and video history of the lower east side. Or my Jews A People's history of the Lower East Side. What LES history books do they carry? And btw- these books have many woman authors in them. Many.
And also a radical activist book store which: "(The store also has another buyer who focuses on titles from traditional publishers, as opposed to authors and small presses, like Clayton Books.)" Traditional publishers? Mainstream presses? Not local or independent? How radical is that? The reason I published the book is the traditional publishers would not touch it!. It is Lower East Side Hispanic history. What titles do they carry from traditional publishers that cover this topic? Or even for that matter what LES radical or non-radical history books does the store carry?
What is this: about me leaving: "not without getting into a verbal altercation with the volunteer staffing at the time." Please- give me a break. "After getting rejected, rather than just "turn the page," Patterson posted an angry statement on Facebook,- - I did post on Facebook and read the responses- most are not mine. There is a lesson in those comments. "I also try and work with authors that can demonstrate that they are able to interact with me in a safe and professional manner." Safe- silly comment and professional? How can I be a professional? You have already labeled me as the type of non-traditional publishers you do not deal with.
Anyway.. whatever. for me is just another form of gentrification another rejection of our history- another blow off of the old "traditional" community- another set of new cool ones moving in. We have all the levels of gentrification- from the luxury hotels to the radical book store- to the hip coffee shops.
I said what I have to say. I am moving on. Thank fully we have local traditional businesses selling the book- Exit 9 on Ave A - City Lore on East First Street- HOWL! Happening # 6 East First Street- and at the Gangster Museum in Theater 80 on St. Mark's. Please support these local businesses- they are having a hard time surviving all this gentrification.
While I am away Cochise, during the day, will be signing books in the store front of 161 Essex street (betwn Houston and Essex). from 10 till around 6.
And speaking as a local activist-- and I did post this on my facebook page- got a note today from an important local creative senior- with a long history in theater- works at La Mama. He asked me if I could let others know what happened to him. He is elderly and needed to stop and take a break on his way home from the theater. He stopped to catch his breath sitting on the bench at the Bean on 2nd ave and 3rd street. Big mistake.
"I am a senior and have breathing difficulties and need the rest on my way to work,the Bean insisted I move.So I did. They have no respect for me or any of the people who provide the character of the neighborhood" Gentrification comes in all shapes, forms, and sizes. Luxury hotels, coffee shops, bookstores, all working to eliminate LES culture.
John Penley: I think that when things cool off a bit Bluestockings wll reconsider and stock the book. I hope they do. I think it is unfair to lump them in with the newcomer gentrifiers they have been there quite a long time and have done many good things for neighborhood authors and activists.
Clayton Patterson: John I would agree, but the store has changed, Remember I used to do events at Blue Stockings and they carried my books. This is my part of the community. I have photoed many people, over many years, in that part of the community. People who live on that block. Some from when they were small children to now they have kids in their 20's. In my Front Door photo book a person who lives on that block wrote about growing up on that block. The book they just rejected covers a history of Allen Street. They should care. It is a new group. They have lost the connection to the community. John if you walked in there no one would know who you are and that is sad. Everything has changed and so has the bookstore. Not that it is a big deal, and why should they, but someone had to call them and explain I too have a history of activism in that part of the community. I am still active in my community. Just published a book on the LES. They do not care.
Alan W. Moore | Sorry to say, i think the day is past when LES activists -- most of them white, and by now, even most of them rentrified out -- could team up with Latino gangs to confront the neighborhood's problems, like especially, the gradual emptying out of Jacob Riis Houses, which doesn't directly affect anyone who doesn't live or have family in public housing. That does not mean, however, that the intersections between radical organizing and youth gangs cannot be understood in historical perspective, and as possibilities for the future. I shared this controversy with John Hagedorn, who wrote "World of Gangs", which looks in on exactly this question. I would hope that Clayton would be able to muster the energy and educational zeal to produce exactly this kind of discussion at Bluestockings, perhaps for LES history month upcoming...
Clayton Patterson | Alan- a little publicly known fact. The LES project, Compose Plaza, is now privately owned. Gangs is a history on the LES. Still is. And they should be aware of this, as many of these kids are tired of all these new people pushing them out. To them what difference does it make if it is a bookstore or a bar, or a luxury hotel.. They do not feel welcome in any of these places. Who from Allen Street goes to Blue Stockings? This book could have started a conversation.
Clayton Patterson | Cochise book | FACEBOOK | April 4 at 10:24pm · New York | Blue Stockings. Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I am still shocked by where the Yuppie, gentrifiers, attitude comes from.
The part of the LES I live in used to be one of the most overlooked forgotten parts. First night Elsa and I moved into our space looking about the window a guy gets shot and killed. We had 24-hour drug sales outside our front door. The streets were controlled by drug crews, posses, and gangs like the Allen Boys.
Hot off the press is a book I just got published: The Street Gangs of the Lower East Side. The book’s main writer is Jose "Cochise" Quiles. The past president of the Satan Sinner Nomads. The SSN were the last LES street gang to wear colors. All together Cochise has done 24 years behind bars. He recently got out after doing 18 years for an attempted murder charge. In jail he turned his life around and, now, works counseling young gangbangers about the problems of being in a gang.
He was always interested in LES street gang history. In jail he talked to many old LES gangsters and wrote down the information, which he turned into a book.
Imagine. Blue Stockings bookstore will not sell the book. When I went to pick up the copy I left I asked the person what street he is on. He said Allen. This is the street the Allen Boys came from. Look out your window, see the project across the street, some old Allen Boys still live there. One block over is Forsyth Street which the Forsyth Boys Street ran. Not to forget , in the community are still Bloods, Crips, Latin Kings, Latin King Bad Boys, and crews and posses.
Is it because the book is an LES Hispanic history that Blue Stockings will not carry the book? Anyway- they have no respect for where they are or the history of the area.
When I wrote to another local historian here is what he wrote: That is totally fucked up that store (Blue Stockings) wont sell the book. This really does represent our times.
The people who now have moved to the neighborhood have no interest in the actual past. Only a commoditized representation of the past.
Pee Wee | April 5 at 4:40am | Agreed!
Isaac Quintana | April 5 at 4:55am | Clayton Patterson this is the book that Cochise wrote right? So that means I’m in the book which is awesome I’m going to buy it tomorrow when I’m in the lower. This is pyro!!! S. F. F. S .
Shelly Vooris | April 5 at 4:55am | I would LOVE to read this book Clayton Patterson!! I remember the times well and it would be a great read I'm sure!!
David Leslie | April 5 at 4:55am | Can't wait to get my hands on this one Clay !
Rob Veteri | April 5 at 5:05am | Good luck with the book Clayton. I don't remember these cats on the Lowa. Perhaps they were getting down after my time but will be buying the book to support tour work. I still have one of your hats from years ago.
Geraldine Winifred Visco | April 5 at 5:06am | Clayton Is this book out yet and who is the publisher? That's horrendous that the Bluestockings Bookstore, Café, & Activist Center will not carry this book. I used to love it there and did readings for the sex worker magazine called $pread. But discriminating against this book is contrary to how they describe themselves on their website. Apparently they have become conservative and not loyal to the community they supposedly support. I do not agree that it is because of the so called "gangbanger theme" Daniella La Bocca what are you referring to with that? They claim that they are supportive of race studies. Check out what they say here:
About Bluestockings: Bluestockings is a 100% volunteer-powered and collectively-owned radical bookstore, fair trade cafe, and activist center in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. We carry over 6,000 titles on topics such as feminism, queer and gender studies, global capitalism, climate & environment, political theory, police and prisons, race and black studies, radical education, plus many more! You can also find some good ‘ole smutty fiction, sci-fi, and poetry. We also carry magazines, zines, journals, alternative menstrual products and other oddly hard-to-find good things.
Daniella La Bocca | April 5 at 5:18am | Gerry, this was only my opinion, a guess as to why they don't want to stock it. And that was based upon knowing a few volunteers there. I used the word "gangbanger" as Cllayton also did in his post. So, I was referring to his original post, to answer your question.
Daniella La Bocca | April 5 at 5:23am | I also said there should be a place that takes all LES media. I've had my art rejected from a local place as well, it's disheartening.
Geraldine Winifred Visco | April 5 at 6:01am | Well, I wonder if Bluestockings is now run by someone more conservative or one of those politically correct boring millennial types. Does the book celebrate "gangbanging" and does it have actions that harm women? But the main thing is does it advocate that or just portray it? And is gangbanging the major part of the book or just one of the elements? I mean, if a book is historical and describing the way a neighborhood and people were in the past it doesn't necessarily mean that it is in favor or everything that happened. If a book is being sold about Adolf Hitler, that doesn't mean that it is in favor of him. Accurate reporting about the way a community was might include stuff about drugs, sex, and crime but that doesn't mean that it's a manifesto in favor of all that. Anyway, here's a Comedy Central video clip about a feminist interested in gangbanging. I still think Bluestocking has always been a radical bookstore and in the past sold books that portrayed a radical community and the fact that it is now censoring their books is very disappointing. http://www.cc.com/.../inside-amy-schumer-gang-bang...
Jack Sargeant | April 5 at 6:13am | Clayton Patterson can you post a link to where we can buy online.... thanks
Clayton Patterson | April 5 at 3:54pm | Exit 9 on Ave A and City Lore on East First street NYC.
Max MacAndrews | April 5 at 8:36am | awesome, can't wait to have this in hand.
Efrain Gonzalez | April 5 at 10:20am | It's a radical bookstore, so I feel they look for that which is "politically correct"
Adam Lunoe | April 5 at 10:31am | This calls for your use of that term to be expressed as "radical" rather than in the clear, without the falsehood-implying quotes.
Linda Griggs | April 5 at 12:16pm | From its name I always thought it was a Feminist book store.
Charles Wallace | April 5 at 1:12pm | Shocking. WTF???
Joe Heaps Nelson | April 5 at 1:22pm | I'm surprised and dismayed
Danny Bullman | April 5 at 1:31pm | i would love a copy bro
Tessa Hughes-Freeland | April 5 at 1:32pm | Probably way too macho for Bluestocking Clayton Patterson. Not in alignment with their particular brand of politics. Nonetheless...
Clayton Patterson | April 5 at 2:47pm | Tessa Hughes-Freeland | That is what the history of the bookstore block is. It is nice to think that it was all Disneyland and all, it was not, and it still is not. You lived down here Tessa. If this was a chocolate store. or a beauty salon and was selling Victoria Secret or something, then deny the past, but this is a political bookstore- where they are is still Hispanic. This is a Hispanic history- they talk about prisons- the block - the area where they are represents 100's of years in prison. Some of the Allen Boys just recently got out-- after decades in prison related to drug dealing.
Clayton Patterson | April 5 at 3:05pm | Tessa Hughes-Freeland in many ways things down here have not changed for people living in the projects. There is, right now, a serious fight going on between the Money Boys from Campos Plaza and Baruch Houses. Recently, late at night, there was a full on street fight. There are still shootings, kids are killed. Unless it is avoidable this news is not in the main press. I recently was at a funeral for a young person who grew up on Eldridge. His family now lives on 5th street. Cochise talks to youth groups about the problems of being in a gang. He knows the life. Macho or not- this is a fact of life. And it crosses over with many of the politics Bluestockings says they represent, this is not Occupy Wall Street- this is about their block- and shit is still bad for many who over there. They do not want their neighborhood history- so be it. I am almost at the point of not caring- trying to educate these new comers has become a waste of time. Activism can be just as elitist as Trump and his bullshit.
Jezo Cohen | April 5 at 1:51pm | These people came in ruined the LES, have no clue, I really miss the days when everyone Knew each other. Breaks my heart!!!
Gil Vasquez | April 5 at 2:21pm | When my younger brother moved to E4th Street there was a gang that took residence in his lobby on cold nights. They never bothered my brother or me. Scared us though.
Armand D'Isselt | April 5 at 10:44pm | Sounds like the Dynamite Brothers. They were on my block, East 4th between C and D.
Thelma Blitz | April 5 at 4:06pm | Tell us why you celebrate crime and violence. It's what drove me out of the Lower East Side.
Clayton Patterson | April 5 at 4:22pm | Thelma Blitz the book is a history of what was there-- you want to explain to people why you left- the book is a history of that. Cochise spends his life, now, explaining the problems a youth can expect to get into belonging to a gang. Ignoring the past and living in lala land is not the answer. Read the book and tell me if it is glory or not. Is it wrong just to make a blind statement based on who knows what about the contents of a book? That is what the bookstore did. This is like saying vote for Trump becasue he says he is great so he must be. No thought- just emotional reactions.
Thelma Blitz | April 5 at 5:03pm | I'm sure it's a thorough and important book in the annals of criminology. What I experienced in the 60's-70's was a poverty culture encroaching on middle class hippies in the neib, particularly young women. I was held up at knife point, had my pad invaded from the fire escape window, found that two of my neighbors were armed, fought off a rapist and convicted him, and had my life threatened by a lady made pregnant by my boyfriend. Do I need to read a book about this?
Noel Rockwood | April 5 at 6:51pm | Probably not, but others might want to.
Armand D'Isselt | April 5 at 10:51pm | Gangs and crime and violence are reality. They are part of the history of the Lower East Side, for better or worse. We document history to learn from it, to study where it went wrong and to try to learn from our past mistakes and avoid repeating them.
Jim Feast | April 5 at 4:49pm | Note, I edited the book and it contains no celebration of crime and violence. It's about a young boy growing up without a father, and taking as a mentor none-other than criminal Miguel Pinero. The gist of the book is that the gang is a group to hang out with, not to commit mayhem. Thus, if anyone would read it, they would see a very different gang world than that depicted by the media.
Ed Hamilton | April 5 at 5:03pm | Will you be having a reading where I can purchase the book?
Clayton Patterson | April 5 at 5:12pm | I hope to do something at City Lore on east first street
Drew Stone | April 5 at 5:23pm | "The past is dead. Long live the past"
Craig Flanagin | April 5 at 5:51pm | I'll go in and ask for the book.
Jason Farrell | April 5 at 5:55pm | Congrats Clayton. It's also too bad St. Marks bookstore is gone and another small book shop that I think was on 7th or 4th street anyway most people living in the LES have no clue what the neighborhood was really like. I have a few scars from knife fights growing up in alphabet city.
Preston Peet | April 5 at 6:19pm | The LES bookstore won't sell the book concerning LES history? How twisted is that? I think I'll "ditto" Craig Flanagin's idea, and go ask after your book there at BS (lol, just noticed the initials). Regardless, I will be picking it up somewhere, even if online. Sounds very interesting.
Vera Radziwill | April 5 at 7:02pm | we should all go in & request the book. . . would love to know why they won't carry it.
Clayton Patterson | April 5 at 6:45pm | Censorship under any other name is still censorship. This is censorship.
Clayton Patterson | April 5 at 6:51pm| I guess the new chic radical activists have no interest in the past. http://massappeal.com/the-outlaw-spirit-of-clayton-patterson/
Preston Peet | April 5 at 7:03pm | Hey, I didn't realize this was your place when I took a photo of your (awesome) door and posted it on my fb page a couple weeks ago. I should have known. Maybe I just blanked.
Preston Peet | April 5 at 7:19pm | This is a great article, thanks for posting it. You make a lot of valid and lucid points throughout.
Clayton Patterson to Preston Peet | April 5 at 7:29pm | but not enough to get an LES history book into an LES bookstore.
Jason Farrell | April 5 at 8:20pm | This all speaks to the sterilization of the LES the systematic gentrification of culture, community and the people who made it what it represents today. That is why I can no longer live there it is too painful to watch the demise before my eyes. At least during the 80s we fought despite to battle loss to Gulianni support of developers and corrupt police. But we fought and rioted. That's the difference between activists then and now.
Preston Peet to Clayton Patterson | April 5 at 8:38pm | Sadly, no, apparently not. That really is dumbfounding, every time my mind comes back to it. I'll be in the neighborhood, possibly tomorrow, and for sure on Friday, and will make damn sure to swing by BS to inquire into buying a copy. Hopefully a number of us will do so, and perhaps effect some change.
Clayton Patterson to Preston Peet | April 6 at 1:37am | thanks for doing this.
Preston Peet | April 6 at 3:22am | I'll be sure to let you know the response.
Ana Candelaria | April 5 at 7:03pm | Sounds very interesting! Congrats on the book!! A must read for all Lower East Side history buffs like myself. I'll be sure to find and pick up a copy.
Jahn Xavier | April 5 at 7:15pm | They just don't know where they live, Clayton. It's like that young girl who was getting stuck up at gunpoint a few years ago (on Ludlow?) and said "So what are you going to, shoot us?" and (of course) got shot. I lived at 167 Ludlow in 1979-80 when guys knew that if you were white and lived there, you had nothing to steal, and were most likely a local (I was told that to my face by the guys who hung out at the one bodega on the block.) I always knew I was on someone else's turf. Now mom & dad buy these little twits a co-op and they think they're the lords of the lower east side. I'd like to see one of 'em in the D projects acting like it was their fifedom and looking for a 3am latte...
Jahn Xavier | April 5 at 7:08pm | Also, how can I buy the book by mail, Clayton? I gotta read it!!
Clayton Patterson | April 5 at 7:41pm | Exit 9 on Ave A City Lore. both on the internet.
Jahn Xavier | April 5 at 7:45pm | Gotcha. Thank you, and good luck!
Lillan Munch | April 5 at 7:34pm | Clayton! did you try the Tenement Museum? hahah JK!!! wft this is bad news. sad.
Clayton Patterson | April 5 at 7:40pm | Lillian Munch ahhahah is right. Took me months to get the LES Jewish history book into the LES Tenement Museum- they used to be great (so did Blue Stockings). Then they went corporate and got rid of the book lady- also got rid of Revjen Miller and became much more mainstream- gentrified. They ordered a couple of books. Became too hard to get to buyer. All these new places not not want local history. They want the Starbucks version. Bluestockings used to be community. Something changed.
Lillan Munch | April 5 at 8:43pm | I hear you! gentrification is inevitable and not always a bad thing, but sadly it happens most often without concern or respect for the people or the history. goes for about every neighborhood in New York. i def noticed the change in the LES, and a shift in the art world in general, which was the main reason for closing my gallery. bluestockings attitude is disheartening. not saying the LES smack days were better, but this indifference .....
Revjen Miller | April 5 at 9:59pm | The Tenement Museum are complete assholes now. Before they fired me, they fired our 3 bilingual bookstore workers. A new manager (Mary Kate!) came in and I guess, wanted to prove that she could "revamp" the store so she canned everyone. I cannot stress enough that they are complete fucking assholes. One of their main donors: Bernie Madoff! Did the Tenement Museum ever give a dime back to the families he stole from? No. Their level of corruption is far beyond what people realize. I LOVED my job and I was good at it because I love books and know NYC history. These new shits they hired didn't even know where the fuck Katz's is. Am I bitter? Yes. I worked there for 12 years, was good at my job, liked my job, was never late and always had a smile on my face. My register was never off, etc. Then they tried to deny me unemployment. I hope everyone in upper management there is forced to share a buddy booth in hell next to Satan and Sheldon Silver.
Kurt Hill | April 5 at 7:39pm | Well done, Clayton!
Raul Gutierrez | April 5 at 9:29pm | Clayton Patterson where can we find this book..?
Clayton Patterson | April 5 at 11:19pm | Exit 9 on Ave. A. #6 EAst First street the Howl! Happening Gallery. City Lore on east First street.
Anne Hanavan | April 4 at 1:33am | I need to buy a copy immediately! You need to walk over to Strand. They will sell the book.
Geraldine Winifred Visco | April 4 at 6:02am | I tend to buy most of my books on AMazon -- how come it ain't on there? I must say that I am rather disturbed by the numerous dumb uptight comments on this thread. Boooks SHOULD cover controversial topics and historical trends and that does NOT mean that it is espousing it. DUH. I went to the Columbia University School of Journalism. Those of you who keep saying that this book couldn't be read by feminists are DODOHEADS!! I mean you might be fabulous but what you're saying is idiotic!
Clayton Patterson | April 4 at 6:38am | I sell the LES Jewish history book on Amazon and I pay more for stoarge than I make. I too buy books on Amazon. Bought 3 recently. Good for buying not so good for selling.
Clayton Patterson | April 4 at 6:39am | And btw- working on finishing the NY tattoo history book- for the NY historical Society show. I still have faith on books.
Clayton Patterson | April 4 at 6:41am | and btw- love you Geraldine Winifred Visco you are always a supporter. You are one of the keys to making our world go round.
Geraldine Winifred Visco | April 4 at 6:42am | Clayton Patterson Yes, I'm a fighter and won't go along with boring opinions! I will be revising my piece, feel free to nag and harass me! smile emoticon
Clayton Patterson | April 4 at 7:02am | Geraldine Winifred Visco nag nag nag-- yes working on closing.. but still need some articles.
Clayton Patterson | April 4 at 6:42am | If you can get the Strand to sell the book I will give you a book.
Geraldine Winifred Visco | April 4 at 6:43am | Did they say they wouldn't sell it?
Geraldine Winifred Visco | April 4 at 6:43am | How about in the New Museum Gift shop?
Clayton Patterson | April 4 at 6:46am | Geraldine Winifred Visco Not to me. Anne said they would.
Puma Perl | Reply 22hrs | How about Art on A? And the Cast? Some stores that are not bookstores are now into carrying some books as well as hosting readings.
Puma Perl | Reply 22hrs | Also Book Court and Greenstockings in Brooklyn. Wait, it's not called Greenstockings, I'm getting it mixed up with this one....it's called Greenlight.
Roy Lee | April 4 at 6:47am | I'll be up in New York in a few weeks and I'll make a special trip to this store looking for this book and make a big fuckin' production of it.
Sid Branch | April 4 at 6:49am | isn't Bluestockings a women's bookstore?
Clayton Patterson | April 4 at 4:14pm | Not sure. They used to sell my books there. I have done talks there. It was a book coop. In the past tried to help find them a space to store books. In the last year have been to a talk given by men there. A man was working at the counter when I went and picked up my book. It used to be a community activist place. Did it change its direction? Not sure. There was a feminist activist presence, but did not think of it as strictly a woman's book store. This book is about their community. The block they are on. See Jim Feast comment. I see censorship. Discrimination: picking some male books and not others. What difference does it make to have 1 more book on the shelf? The community is losing the bookstores. How does this elitist attitude help? This book is also about the Hispanic part of the LES. The block they are on is still heavily Hispanic. The Allen Boys still have a presence in the area. The Allen Boys do a reunion every year. What is the book store doing to make the store accessible for the neighbors. This book would have helped. Gentrification comes in all kinds of forms. Censorship is just one more way of pushing back the people who are still there, alienating those still there, is dividing, elitist, and denying the history of the block. Is it possible to write about the North American Natives and not mention the Warriors? The old LES was a war zone. Allen Street was a notorious war zone.
Clayton Patterson | April 4 at 4:17pm | Sid Branch from an old email- this year- From Thom Weiss blog On a more postive note, however, among the avowedly "left"-oriented organizations in New York City is the very democracy-friendly self-described "radical" Bluestockings Bookstore on Manhattan's Lower East Side. I've attended events there on a wide range of political subjects including an otherwise media-suppressed story regarding the Mumia Abu-Jamal case, gay rights, the "anti-psychiatry" movement, Chile, animal rights, "socialism" (whatever that is), overseas liberation movements, poetry readings, feminism, neo-fascism ("Golden Dawn") in Greece, etc. In September, 2013 Bluestockings hosted my UP FRONT News-presented program on economic inequality, otherwise known as "The Alex Rodriguez/Lloyd Blankfein Syndrome." And one of the Dalai Lama's books is on sale there, as are many books one might not find at Barnes & Noble.
Alan W. Moore | Yesterday at 5:18pm | I shared this with John Hagedorn, who wrote "World of Gangs." He knows about the intersection of street gangs and political movements that helped build Young Lords and Black Panthers. So does Rebecca Zorach, a historian who worked on this question in Chicago (Vice Lords). The young volunteers, whose parents themselves were probably children when these key intersections were playing out (1970s), have no idea. Tedious as it is, it is your job to educate them. Talk to Janelle about presenting your book there in a public discussion. The collective behind the store will understand.
A World of Gangs From L.A. to Lagos, Port-au-Prince to Paris—a provocative analysis of the global proliferation of…upress.umn.edu
Clayton Patterson | Yesterday at 6:59pm | Alan W. The book does have the Young Lords in it, as well as, the Ghetto Brothers. The Ghetto Brothers were instrumental in setting up the major peace conference that helped set off the Hip Hop movement. You can see this in the Rubble Kings, as well as, the background story to the movie the Warriors. And you are right these new kids, do not have a clue of any of this history, including the history of the block they are on. This book is one of the few that deals with one part of the LES Hispanic history. Sad really. Bluestockings is quick to censor. Quick to discriminate. Another writer in the book is one of my favorite documentary historians Marc Levin: Brick City, Chicagoland, Freeway: Crack In The System the real Rick Ross Story, Mr. Untouchable a remarkable history of heroin in Harlem, and on and on. Yes these kids do not have a clue. And I did try and educate them- And they do not sell Resistance a radical social and political history of the lower east side which you were an editor in, or Captured a film and video history of the lower east side, or the Squat book we did. Or NO!art books. Nor the Jews A People's History of the Lower East Side. and on Does Bluestockings have any LES history, the community, their community, which they claim to be activists in? And Alan W. Moore they have heard of this Facebook post- and they have not reached out. They do not care. And they are a struggling bookstore.
Clayton Patterson | on 4/4 at 7:01pm | Alan W. Moore | Jose Quiles Cochise will be selling and signing books, during the day, at 161 Essex Street- between Houston and Stanton. Tell people.
Julie Turley | on 4/4 at 7:22pm | Until what time? Won't be back downtown until 6 on Friday.
Clayton Patterson | Reply 22 hrs | Julie Turley | Jose Quiles can you answer this/
Jose Quiles | Reply 22 hrs | I will be there until 7:00 pm or later. No problem at all.
Jake Kirschbaum | Reply 21 hrs | Imma check it out
Melanie Neichin | Reply 2 hrs | one day they will have somebody trying to do what you do and say they are original...humph
PREPARATION FOR THE BOOK
GANGS OF THE EAST VILLAGE:
LIFE AS A SATAN'S SINNERS NOMAD
By LAURA EDWINS and NADJA POPOVICH
Published in: NEW YORK TIMES | The Local East Village
New York | July 18, 2012
Last Saturday, Jose Quiles spoke to a group of students at P.S./M.S. 34 on East 12th Street. Some were the age that he was when he first entered the gang world.
Responding to a recent spate of violence, Rick Del Rio, the senior pastor at Abounding Grace Ministries, had invited the man many in the neighborhood know as Cochise to a basketball tournament, barbecue, and youth outreach session, to speak about his rough-and-tumble life on the Lower East Side.
Mr. Quiles was born on St. Marks Place in 1961. He joined his first gang at the age of 13 and then in 1988, formed one of his own: the Satan’s Sinners Nomads. After attempting to kill two of his fellow gang members in 1993, he served 18 years in prison. At the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., he began counseling gang members; he was released in January and now, as a resident of Campos Plaza, hopes to steer at-risk youth away from what he said was an assortment of gangs in the neighborhood, including the Bloods, Money Boys, and Latin Kings.
Courtesy Jose Quiles Mr. Quiles speaks at P.S./M.S. 34.
The situation, he said, has only grown worse since his own days of gang involvement. “You have your drug gangs and then you have your regular crews that are just fighting for turf,” he said. “Some of these guys are just very young.”
“A lot of these people want to see change in the lives of their younger ones, ” he said of Alphabet City residents. “There’s fear; everyone’s aware that at any time anything can break out.”
Mr. Quiles is currently at work on a memoir. Clayton Patterson, who photographed the Satan’s Sinners during their day, is convinced he has an important story to tell. “Cochise is a very valuable person,” he said. “Not only because he’s highly intelligent but because he’s really interested in preserving the history of the neighborhood. And he’s willing to talk about the past. Which is highly unusual, especially in the gang world.”
Watch The Local’s video to hear him tell his story in his own words.