Jerry the Peddler
Meet Jerry. He’s been squatting on NYC’s Lower East Side for over 35 years. And he’s been at the center of a patchwork of hippies, yippies, punks & anarchists. Experience the world through Jerry’s eyes. And be warned: his organizing tools include weed, beer & psychedelic punk.
About The Project
I first met Jerry the Peddler while researching my book, The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the 21st Century. I was trying to understand the changes that come to a city when a tidal wave of money rolls through town. It wasn’t until I met Jerry that I came to understand squatting as a critical challenge to our prevailing interpretation of “The American Dream.”
For decades now, Jerry has been the embodiment of this critical challenge. And while the movement has been front and center for those involved, it has remained largely an untold story for the rest of us. I’m honored to partner with Alexis Boling at Harmonium to tell this story — and to let Jerry serve as our guide on a tour of the last four decades of squatting in New York City.
Jerry’s credits include: 96 arrests under seven aliases, over a dozen gardens designed and built, and 11 abandoned buildings pried open on behalf of fellow squatters. The hippy from San Angelo, Texas, was at the center of the 1988 riots in Tompkins Square Park, and he still lives in C-Squat — a building well known for its lineage of artists, activists, and punk musicians.
When Jerry’s not organizing demonstrations or actions or concerts, he’s peddling buttons in Manhattan and building more gardens in Brooklyn. Since the early 1980s he’s been at the center of a patchwork of hippies, yippies, punks and anarchists who’ve made up a nation of squatters on the Lower East Side. Experience the scene through the eyes of its most colorful organizer.
And be warned: Jerry’s favorite organizing tools include weed, beer, and psychedelic punk.
We can’t finish this project without support from you. The filming is wrapping. The editing has begun. Please help us bring this important history home.
Director of Photography
Producer of Marketing & Distribution
Producer of Marketing & Distribution
About This Team
Director: DW Gibson
DW Gibson is the author of the awarding-winning book The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the Twenty-First Century and Not Working. He shared a National Magazine Award for his work on “This Is the Story of One Block in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn” for New York Magazine. He has been a contributor to NPR’s All Things Considered and “There Goes the Neighborhood,” a podcast co-produced by WNYC and The Nation. His documentary film, NOT WORKING, a companion to the book, is available through Films Media Group. His directorial debut, PANTS DOWN, premiered at Anthology Film Archives in New York.
Cinematographer: Alexis Boling
Alexis Boling is a filmmaker and musician living in New York City and the founder of Harmonium. He directed and shot the award-winning science fiction thriller MOVEMENT AND LOCATION. Some of his commercial and television clients include National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Condé Nast, IBM and D.E. Shaw. In the past he has directed music videos for Vampire Weekend, Rubblebucket and shot for Rolling Stone. Alexis was recently one of a small group of international filmmakers personally selected by Werner Herzog to attend his film masterclass in Munich, Germany.
Producer: Maura McNamara
Maura McNamara is a producer, performer, and illustrator with a decade of experience in New York production and design. Before joining Harmonium, she assisted in the Creative Development department at Sesame Workshop and in production at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. She graduated cum laude from Columbia University with a degree in English.
Editor: MJ Sieber
MJ Sieber has worked a filmmaker in Seattle for the last ten years. He wrote, directed and starred in the feature film TASTE (due later this year) as well as a number of other short films. As an editor his work can be seen in NOT WORKING, DETROITERS, and numerous projects for non-profit organizations in Seattle.
Producer of Marketing & Distribution: Sara Kyle
Sara Kyle is an entrepreneur and digital marketing specialist, with a practice rooted in experimentation and data-driven learning. Along with her partner Grace Lilly, she combines strategy, design, and analysis to elevate creative ventures including Harmonium’s award-winning film MOVEMENT AND LOCATION and a slate of additional projects currently in development and production.
Producer of Marketing & Distribution: Grace Lilly
Grace Lilly is a designer specializing in creating and curating visual brand identity, using art to enhance user experience. With her partner Sara Kyle, she focuses on the intersection of data and design to strategically develop methods for long-term growth for Harmonium’s feature film and short form projects.