Harmony Korine at BAM's 20th anniversary screening of Kids (Photo: Godlis)

Harmony Korine at BAM’s 20th anniversary screening of Kids (Photo: Godlis)

Chloe Sevigny recently said that walking through her old neighborhood, the East Village, made her want to cry, and Leo Fitzpatrick told us he was thinking about moving upstate. Now their Kids cohort Harmony Korine is lamenting the state of the city. Korine, who these days divides his time between Nashville and Miami Beach, spoke to Marc Maron while back in NYC for the recent Kids reunion and told him that New York was “probably my least favorite place to come back to.”

“It’s a weird thing because I recognize it but I also don’t recognize it,” Korine said on Monday’s episode of WTF, going on to say the city “feels like a shopping mall to me now in a lot of ways.”

“It holds a lot memories, a lot of ghosts, and it’s also just, like, super kind of like aggressive.”

“I don’t really know what it stands for anymore,” the director of Spring Breakers, Trash Humpers, and NYC-set Julian Donkey-Boy continued. “In general, past like the consumption, I don’t really know what it is anymore.”

Maron, a former East Villager who was back in NYC for some local shows, chimed in: “It’s interesting because when you did Kids… your generation of people doing the art, whatever it was — that was almost the end of it. I mean, it seems like all of that vitality is gone.”

The era might’ve been the “last gasp of the wildness in the city,” Korine agreed:

The thing that was cool when I was a teenager, when I moved here from Nashville was that there still was the idea that kids with no money, creative kids from around America, people that had just a dream and visions could just come and you could pool your money together and get some place in the city and live and do your thing. I guess you can’t really do that the same… because no one can afford, like, $5,000 rent… You know, 18-year-old kids can’t… so I guess they move out to one of the other boroughs, but those places are different.

Korine elaborated on his time as an NYU student, touching on what Hamilton Harris, director of a documentary about the kids behind Kids, called “the energy” of the city at the time.  

At that point there was something about people trying to, like, get lost and there was also — we always talk about the danger of the city, but it was — there was a palpable violence and a danger and a feeling that if you went to this place or you did this thing you might not come out the other end. And so, that’s exciting. It’s just exciting because it was extreme and it was big and you could just get lost. And culturally it was weird and you could go into movie theaters and there’d be junkies passed out. It was just a strange rhythm to the city and it wasn’t like everyone was so in boxes.

Of course, Korine’s hometown of Nashville has also been gussied up in recent years. You can expect to shell out $5.50 for a cappuccino at Barista Parlor and, even on a 90-degree day, there’s a half-hour wait outside of the latest hot chicken place. (Thankfully, a movie ticket at the great Belcourt Theatre, where I first saw Kids, is just $9.25.) As Korine noted, the neighborhood known as The Nations, where Gummo was shot, has changed a lot:

It was a pretty gnarly area in Nashville and now it’s like coffee shops and it’s gentrified, it’s weird to go there. It’s upsetting to me but it’s also, you know, it’s one of those things I think about all the time. It’s not just Nashville but it’s everywhere. And so it’s a difficult thing. Nashville is interesting because it’s become more — you know, I live there now — it’s become definitely more gentrified, it’s like country flavored now. Whereas as a kid growing up it was all rednecks and that’s just what it was. It was authentic. There wasn’t much to do. Now you have restaurants and all this stuff but it’s like, country flavored.

Listen to the podcast to hear Korine talk about writing Kids at his grandma’s house; his never-finished Jackass-style movie Fight Harm, in which he provoked strangers into beating him up; and his forthcoming one, The Trap, which he describes as a Miami “revenge movie” consisting of “complete sensory bombardment.” Set to be filmed in January, it’ll feature Benicio Del Toro, Robert Pattinson, Idris Elba, and Korine’s Manglehorn buddy Al Pacino.