Sunday, September 30, 2007
Courage to tell the truth
Bolivar Arellano is a retired New York Post photographer. On Sept. 11, 2001, he was directly under the Twin Towers when one of them collapsed. To this day, he doesn't know how he survived.
When he was a photojournalist in his native Ecuador and filmed the death squads doing their dirty work, someone tipped him off and told him he was a marked man, and he was advised to leave the country immediately. To this day, he marvels that he survived.
When he was a photojournalist in Colombia, he was accused of being linked to anti-government guerrillas. He was told to leave the country immediately or be killed. To this day, he marvels that he survived.
When he was a photojournalist in Nicaragua, he was kidnapped by the Contras for three days, only to be set free without explanation. To this day, he marvels that he survived.
What this fine and gentle man and talented photojournalist couldn't survive was the greed connected to the gentrification of the East Village. His landlord, who is on a list of the 10 worst landlords in New York City, raised the rent on his modest gallery on Ninth Street by 400 percent.
Arellano survived the greatest terrorist attack in U.S. history and the senseless violence of repressive regimes. But greed has done him in, or at least his dream of owning a gallery. It closed for good this weekend.
He'll survive this unfortunate episode in his life, too. But the East Village just lost a wonderful artist and gentle soul whose exhibitions breathed life into the neighborhood.
Better look over your shoulder. You could be next.