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Guide to the Squatters' Collective Oral Histories Project OH.068

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630
tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Heather Mulliner in consultation with David Olson. Interview descriptions provided by Amy Starecheski.

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on October 08, 2019
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Edited by Anna McCormick for compliance with DACS and ACM Required Elements for Archival Description  , October 2019

Container List

Series I: Interviews by Jeremy Sorgen, 2008. 17 sound discs (cd) 2.09 Gigabytes in 13 files.

Audiovisual Access Policies and Procedures

Access CDs for audiovisual materials in the collection are available by appointment for reading room viewing and listening only.

Advance notice is required for the use of computer records. Original physical digital media is restricted. An access terminal for born-digital materials in the collection is available by appointment for reading room viewing and listening only. Researchers may view an item's original container and/or carrier, but the physical carriers themselves are not available for use because of preservation concerns.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Cd : OH-68-001-01 / OH-68-001-02 / OH-68-001-03 / OH-68-001-04 (Access cd) Jerry the Peddler: Oral History Interview by Jeremy Sorgen

Jerry the Peddler: Oral History Interview by Jeremy Sorgen: 2008-03-13-2014-04-26   https://aeon.library.nyu.edu/Logon?Action=10&Form=31&Value= http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/ead/tamwag/oh_068.xml&view=xml

Scope and Content Note

In this interview Gerald Wade, aka Jerry the Peddler describes the earliest roots of organized squatting on the Lower East Side. He describes the Yippie squatting actions of the late 1970s and the Pope of Pot, a squatter, drug dealer, and cult leader. He discusses the importance of food, beer, and pot as organizing tools. Wade also describes the development and defense of La Plaza Cultural, where in 1986 they fed up to 500 people a day; some of those people opened Serenity House. He discusses the mounting tensions over Tompkins Square Park in the late 1980s, the riots, and ongoing protests, with which he was centrally involved. He also talks about the 1988 fire at 319 8th Street, and subsequent eviction and demolition of the building. The first session of the interview ends suddenly with a discussion of the May Day and Pot Parade actions in 1990. In the second session, Wade discusses the Triad, Tia Scott, his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction in the 1990s, the defense of the ABC Community Center, the 13th Street eviction, the eviction of Dos Blocos, and anarchist/communist dynamics in anti-war activism during the Persian Gulf War. He discusses the archives at Tamiment, his own archives, and the importance of history. He talks about how he got sober. Wade talks about the pig roasts he used to organize for May Day. He also discusses the legalization process, his experiences of becoming a homeowner, and the potential for squatting today.

Biographical/Historical note

Gerald Wade, aka Jerry the Peddler, grew up in west Texas. He was raised by his father and grandparents, and left home at age 15, which he notes as common experience among people in the squats. At 17 he joined the army. Having been a teenager in the 1960s, he acquired an "us against them" attitude, and during his time in the army became involved in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and anti-war activism, even while living on a base in California. When he was supposed to go to Vietnam, Wade went AWOL and lived in the hills in Big Sur for a month. He spent time in Los Angeles and then moved to Fort Worth, Texas where he was involved with draft counseling and the White Panthers. After getting arrested for being AWOL several times he went to Washington, DC for the 1971 May Day protests, where he was detained in RFK Stadium with 20,000 other protesters. He stayed in DC and got involved with the Yippies, who he cites as an important influence on the squatting scene. Between 1974 and 1980 started a relationship, had begun working steadily, and withdrew from politics. After his relationship ended in 1980, however, Wade moved to New York where he once again became involved in political activism. In New York he became connected with people in The Triad, squatted buildings on 7th Street by Avenue D, organized by Everything for Everybody, and after spending some time living in Tompkins Square Park settled in a squatted building on 9th Street. Wade also helped to organize Rock Against Regan, a touring concert, and when the group returned to NYC in 1984, and Wade and others from the group opened the building at 319 East 8th Street. After that point a number of buildings opened up along 8th Street.

2008-03-13-2012-04-26
Box: 1 Cd : OH-68-001-01 / OH-68-001-02 / OH-68-001-03 / OH-68-001-04 (Master cd)
Box: Electronic Records E-records : TW_OH_68_ER_16 (Electronic records)
Box: 1 Cd : OH-68-002-01 / OH-68-002-02 (Master cd) Steven Englander: Oral History Interview by Jeremy Sorgen

Steven Englander: Oral History Interview by Jeremy Sorgen: 2008-04-06-   https://aeon.library.nyu.edu/Logon?Action=10&Form=31&Value= http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/ead/tamwag/oh_068.xml&view=xml

Scope and Content Note

In this interview Steven Englander discusses the 1980 founding of ABC No Rio and its surrogate parent organization Collaborative Projects (Colab). He discusses ABC No Rio's changing relationships with squatting and politics, describing the process by which No Rio became a social and practical hub of the squatting scene in the mid-1990s and how squatters played a central role in direct action campaigns to protect No Rio.

He describes the decision-making process leading up to the plan to rebuild ABC No Rio rather than renovate. He also discusses the shifting dynamics of ABC No Rio and the local community, noting that few people who currently participate at No Rio actually live on the Lower East Side. In 1999 Englander moved into Umbrella House, a squat on Avenue C, and discusses the organization of that building. He also talks about characters from the scene, and why he would not characterize it as a movement, arguing that it did not go beyond squatting as a practice, or extend beyond the neighborhood and did not question private property.

Biographical/Historical note

Steven Englander grew up in Wisconsin, the child of a pediatrician and a nurse. He attended private school and was raised in a comfortable, liberal environment with an emphasis on social justice. Drawn to the city's mythos, in 1980 he moved to New York City to attend New York University's film school. After becoming interested in Situationist critiques of media and Marxist economic theory in the mid-1980s, Englander got involved in the anarchist scene and later squatting. While working part-time as a production assistant and taxi driver, he wrote zines, fiction, and non-fiction about urbanism and political events. He was involved with the Black Eye zine, the Anarchist Switchboard, and ABC No Rio. In 1990 he became the assistant director of ABC No Rio. He later moved into No Rio as a squatter in 1994, with others, to defend the space against possible self-help eviction by the city. In 1997, he and all other residents at No Rio willingly vacated as part of a deal with the city to preserve No Rio as a community space, including a print shop, darkroom, computer room, and zine library. After almost a decade of raising money for renovations, in 2006 ABC No Rio acquired title to the building and began planning to rebuild.

2008-04-06
Box: 1 Cd : OH-68-002-01 / OH-68-002-02 (Access cd)
Box: Electronic Records E-records : TW_OH_68_ER_32 (Electronic records)
Box: 1 Cd : OH-68-003-01 / OH-68-003-02 (Master cd) Mac McGil: Oral History Interview by Jeremy Sorgen

Use Restrictions

The Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives does not hold a release form for this interview. Copyright (and related rights of publicity and privacy) are held by the narrator and interviewer. Permission to publish or reproduce materials must be secured from narrator and/or interviewer. Please contact the Tamiment Library for assistance in contacting these individuals.

2008-04-04
Box: 1 Cd : OH-68-003-01 / OH-68-003-02 (Access cd)
Box: 1 Cd : OH-68-004-01 / OH-68-004-02 / OH-68-004-03 / OH-68-004-04 (Access cd) Steve Harrington: Oral History Interview by Jeremy Sorgen

Use Restrictions

The Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives does not hold a release form for this interview. Copyright (and related rights of publicity and privacy) are held by the narrator and interviewer. Permission to publish or reproduce materials must be secured from narrator and/or interviewer. Please contact the Tamiment Library for assistance in contacting these individuals.

2008-03-12
Box: 1 Cd : OH-68-004-01 / OH-68-004-02 / OH-68-004-03 / OH-68-004-04 (Master cd)
Box: 1 Cd : OH-68-005-01 / OH-68-005-02 (Master cd) Carla Cubit: Oral History Interview by Jeremy Sorgen

Carla Cubit: Oral History Interview by Jeremy Sorgen: 2008-04-26-   https://aeon.library.nyu.edu/Logon?Action=10&Form=31&Value= http://dlib.nyu.edu/findingaids/ead/tamwag/oh_068.xml&view=xml

Scope and Content Note

In this interview Carla Cubit talks briefly about her early life and describes her feelings of alienation from her family and friends. Later, she describes squatter politics and art, including squatter May Day, and John the Communist. She recalls dumpster diving to get food for the 13th Street community kitchen and being bullied by Butch, who terrorized the neighborhood. Cubit argues that the buildings with more people of color in them were evicted over time, while the majority white buildings were allowed to become co-ops; with gentrification squatted buildings have been literally and metaphorically white-washed. In the interview she mentions that when she sees people from that era on the streets she feels they avoid her. Cubit noticed that squatters were mostly white and middle class, and there were few black people, fewer black women and wondered if she was a token. She describes the cliquishness of the buildings on 13th Street, factionalization in the squatter community and tensions with other neighborhood residents, yet she still remembers it as a utopia of creativity, independence, and community. She recalls using piss buckets, stealing cable, and heating with wood stoves.

Biographical/Historical note

Carla Cubit grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, where she was raised by her mother. She moved around frequently during childhood, and her mother struggled with alcohol and crack addiction. As a result Cubit often lived with her aunts. When she was 18, her boyfriend was killed, and Cubit left Missouri for New York City, hoping to get into theater. She had no place to stay, and ended up in shelters, where she was diagnosed as schizophrenic. She attended Borough of Manhattan Community College, studying liberal arts and became aware of alternative lifestyles, politics, and squatting. She also got involved with Unforgotten Voices, a homeless arts group, Hobo Theater, anti-psychiatry groups, and participated in a homeless encampment in City Hall Park. Cubit did some work days at a squat on 13th Street and then was invited to live there. After moving into 13th Street Cubit began selling art through American Primitive Gallery, as an "outsider artist," and performing spoken word and theater. Since 13th Street was evicted, she stopped squatting, and her art stopped selling. At the time of the interview Cubit lived in the projects and was a self-described "internet addict."

2008-04-26
Box: 1 Folder : OH-68-005-01 / OH-68-005-02 (Access cd)
Box: Electronic Records E-records : TW_OH_68_ER_04 (Electronic records)
Box: 1 Cd : OH-68-006-01 / OH-68-006-02 / OH-68-006-03 (Master cd) Art Cabrera: Oral History Interview by Jeremy Sorgen
2008-05-21
Box: 1 Cd : OH-68-006-01 / OH-68-006-02 / OH-68-006-03 (Access cd)

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