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BY CLAYTON PATTERSON | On March 7 a representative each from Councilmember Margaret Chin’s office and the Cooper Square Committee visited Taylor Mead. They arrived around noon and stayed for about 15 minutes. Taylor lives on the top floor at 163 Ludlow St. I am not sure if they checked the door to the roof. The roof door is never locked or fully closed, which allows in the elements and the cold air. Imagine what it must have been like during Hurricane Sandy. Then add in that Taylor is 88, with no electricity, and is one of the only tenants left in the tenement, which is a construction site.
And if they went to the roof they would have observed that there is fresh graffiti, which means the roof is somewhat active and certainly accessible. People have been mugged in his building.
I, as well as others from The Villager and other concerned people, have tried to reach the people who made the visit, or at least get a verbal response about the visit. Taylor has a niece on vacation, who will come by in a week. I think something needs to be done now.
On March 13 Taylor was having problems with his heart and was taken to Beth Israel Hospital. He was released and allowed to go home Sun., March 17. He did say he has to now basically stay at home, since going up and down the stairs is extremely difficult.
Taylor, until now, has endured and survived the wrath and all the brutality his new landlord has inflicted on him. But isn’t there any agency, politician or a group that can do anything to help? Is there an elderly abuse council? How about calling 311? Something? Where are our councilmembers on this — not only Chin, but also Christine Quinn and Rosie Mendez, who are both openly gay, and share that bond. Taylor is gay. He needs help!
Quinn makes so much of her Irish immigrant grandparents — but they couldn’t survive in Bloomberg’s New York. Our politicians are just letting all of this happen, as Manhattan increasingly becomes a place only for the rich, with no room for artistic types like Taylor.
I got a note from Shell Sheddy, one of our important Lower East Side documentary photographers. She, like so many others, is facing landlord hell. It’s a serious situation. Shelly is fighting to stave off homelessness and also trying to save her L.E.S. photo archive, a jewel of immense importance. Look her up on Facebook. She had one benefit but it did not raise enough for the fee for her storage locker. N.Y.U, a nonprofit institution, is investing in billions of dollars of real estate, yet they have no interest in Downtown history. Shell has created a historically important visual history, saving for future generations a slice of the culture she found worth memorializing.
Shell Sheddy is not the first artist to lose so much because of lack of funds to pay storage. Anthony Haden Guest lost his retirement collection. John Penely, who has been protesting for N.Y.U. to provide some shelter for the homeless, had the university’s Tamiment Library purchase his archive for so little it was a steal. And then I saw some of his images online and the copyright credit went to Tamiment Library, when in fact it still belonged to John. We have to protect our cultural treasures — and we need the help of everyone, including our politicians.