Ater liveblogging yesterday’s May Day march we figured we’d unwind by watching the Tompkins Square Park Riot.
Wait, didn’t that happen in 1988, and didn’t Clayton Patterson already screen his footage of it in its brutal entirety?
Well, yes — but it was also reenacted last night for Ten Thousand Saints, the adaptation of Eleanor Henderson’s East Village straight-edge novel — and with Clayton off in Austria, we decided to reenact his role and film till the break of dawn (or at least till 3 a.m., when the shoot was scheduled to end).
But first we marveled at this retro-chic squad car:
Instagram gold! Just one problem: the car is from the 15th Precinct, not the Ninth, which is the one whose officers clashed with protesters on that August night.
But whatever! Around 10 p.m. they told everyone to get ready for a “fire test.” That sounded cool. Sure enough, they lit a bonfire in the middle of East Seventh Street:
There were empty bottles at the ready (strangely, they never got smashed):
And banners set to be hoisted:
After a brief sprinkle of rain, it was time to shoot. Here’s a scene in which a pregnant Eliza, played by Hailee Steinfeld, falls to the ground during the melee and talks about “some long-lost father trying to make up for his shitty past” and how much she wants a family.
Here’s another take:
And a quick take of some cops on the run:
Most of those looking on didn’t seem too up on the history being reenacted (one passerby thought the movie was about “hippies from the ’70s”), but we did spot Chris Flash, publisher of anarchist rag The Shadow, who attended the real riots and didn’t hesitate to let a production assistant know it. “You should’ve gotten a technical adviser,” he said. “It would’ve been more authentic.”
You mean these signs aren’t authentic enough?
These leopard-print short shorts?
The fog machines simulating tear gas? The riot helmets?
One thing definitely wasn’t authentic: the park was wide open well past the midnight curfew that was the cause of these riots to begin with.
That said, police (the real police, not the 1988 police) did show some muscle: they told the crew to stop using the bullhorn, since it was after 10 p.m. And they also told a homeless guy who was mouthing off to “stop your yapping.”
Speaking of which, this was a very quiet riot. During the next scene (shot in the park, so we couldn’t get a close-up) Eliza’s companion tries to find her in the scrum. He yells “Eliza!”, someone yells “Asshole!” and cut. But during all this, the protesters hoisting “Die Yuppie Scum” signs were stone silent. Not a single cry of “Who’s park? Our park!”
In fact, if you listen to the final take, you’ll notice that the only ones making any noise are the bros in the “Frathouse of Cards / Greek Week” muscle tees. And their yappy dates, who — ironically — made a big fuss about not being let onto the set.
Welcome to the East Village, 2014.
Update: B+B reporter Jenna Marotta was on East Seventh Street around 12:30 a.m. and captured some of the ’80s-styled extras, as well as another scene in which a guy jumped off a bike and was pummeled by cops. The actors were told: “Alright guys, lots of energy! You hate these fuckers!”
Click through the slideshow: