Metrofocus: May 18, 2022

Encore: July 13, 2022

Compact magazine founders and editors Sohrab Ahmari and Edwin Aponte join us to discuss their shared political vision for what comes next. Then, we take you on a tour of a 20-acre island near Manhattan that sits completely abandoned and closed off to visitors, without an official escort. Last, find out how one community on Long Island is trying to hold on to its racing past while staving off developers.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, IS THE TRADITIONAL LEFT/RIGHT POLITICAL DIVIDE SHIFTING?

'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪♪

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY --

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.

WHEN WE THINK OF POLITICS IN THIS COUNTRY WE THINK IN TERMS OF LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES, WITH CONSERVATIVES SUPPORTING CONSERVATIVE VIEWS AND LIBERAL SUPPORTING A GENEROUS WELFARE STATE.

A NEW MEDIA PROJECT, AN ONLINE MAGAZINE RECENTLY LAUNCHED BY TWO RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES, IS ARGUING FOR A NEW CLASS-BASED COALITION THAT WOULD ADVOCATE FOR A STRONGER SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC STATE AND AGAINST, QUOTE, A LIBERTARIAN RIGHT.

THANKS FOR HAVING US.

YOU ALONG WITH MATTHEW, WHO IS NOT HERE, ARE THE RELIGIOUS CONSER CONSERVATIVES.

YOU, EDWIN, ARE THE MARXIST.

SO LET ME START WITH THIS.

LET ME START WITH YOU.

IN YOUR NOTES FROM THE FOUNDERS, WHICH IS YOUR MISSION STATEMENT, THE THREE OF YOU WRITE THAT, QUOTE, EVERY NEW MAGAZINE SHOULD BE AN INTIMATION OF A POSSIBLE FUTURE.

WHAT IS THE VISION OF THE FUTURE THAT TWO CATHOLIC CONSERVATIVES AND A MARXIST POPULIST SHARE AND HOPE TO ACHIEVE?

WELL, THE VISION WE ADVOCATE, THE SENTENCE THAT GOES ON TO SAY THAT WE WANT A STATE THAT IS SOCIODEMOCRATIC.

IT HAS A MORE ROBUST PROTECTION FOR WORKERS IN THEIR ECONOMIC LIFE AND ALSO FOR INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES IN THEIR SOCIAL COMPONENT OF LIFE THAN OUR THINNED OUT CURRENT STATE ALLOWS.

WE WANT TO PROTECT COMMUNITY.

MEN AND WOMEN ARE NOT JUST INDIVIDUALS, BUT THAT WE ARE SOCIAL CREATURES AND THAT OUR POLITICAL ECONOMY SHOULD ALSO REFLECT THAT.

YEAH, SO THAT IS THE VISION.

LIKE YOU SAID, IT'S -- THERE IS A HYBRID ELEMENT IN THERE GIVEN OUR BACKGROUNDS.

BUT WHAT WE ARE FINDING AS WE SIT DOWN TO EDIT IT IS, HOW MUCH COMMON GROUND THERE REALLY IS.

SO THAT WAS MY NEXT QUESTION.

HOW MUCH COMMON GROUND IS THERE?

THIS IS A UNIQUE COMBINATION, A UNIQUE MAGAZINE.

HOW OFTEN DO YOU FIND YOURSELF IN DISAGREEMENT?

HOW OFTEN DO YOU FIND YOURSELF, PERHAPS, IN SURPRISING AGREEMENT?

WELL, WE DO DISAGREE ON SOCIAL ISSUES, FOR SURE.

NATURALLY, I'M NOT RELIGIOUS BY ITSELF.

I'M AGNOSTIC.

WHAT WE HAVE IN COMMON IS PRECISELY THIS IDEA THAT IF THERE'S GOING TO BE ANY SORT OF POPULAR MOVEMENT, IT SHOULD BE CENTERED AROUND CLASS AND ECONOMICS.

WHICH ALSO MEANS THAT WE HAVE TO ALLY OURSELVES WITH PEOPLE WHO MAY HAVE OTHER SOCIAL VIEWS.

BY FRONT LOADING THAT -- IT'S EASY TO COME UP WITH A COHERENT MESSAGE.

CAN I ADD ONE MORE QUICK THING?

WE HAVE AN INTERNAL AGREEMENT.

MAYBE MORE THAN THE MAJORITY OF PIECES WE RUN CONCERN MATERIAL ISSUES, POLITICAL ECONOMY, ENERGY ISSUES, YOU KNOW, WORKPLACE ISSUES, ET CETERA, ET CETERA.

LESS OF AN EMPHASIS ON CULTURE WAR STUFF.

IT'S NOT THAT YOU DON'T SEE ANY OF THAT.

BUT IT'S NOT THE PRIMARY FOCUS.

EVEN IF WE ADDRESS CULTURE, WE TRY TO REFRACT IT THROUGH THIS MATERIAL AND ECONOMIC LENS.

THEN THE LIKELIHOOD OF US DIVIDING OVER OUR MORE SUBJECTIVE PERSONAL VIEWS, IT BECOMES LESS LIKELY.

IN THAT MISSION STATEMENT, YOU WROTE THAT YOU OPPOSE LIBERALISM IN PART BECAUSE YOU SEEK A SOCIETY THAT IS MORE TOLERANT OF HUMAN DIFFERENCES AND HUMAN FRAILTY.

MOST PEOPLE THINK IT'S LIBERALISM PRECISELY THAT RESPECTS DIFFERENCES AND IS MOST TOLERANT OF HUMAN FRAILTY AND THAT PROMOTIONS FREE SPEECH AND INDIVIDUAL AUTONOMY AND IT IS ANTI-LIBERAL MOVEMENTS THAT WORK AGAINST THOSE GOOD THINGS.

HOW DO YOU RESPOND?

TWO POINTS.

WE ARE FINDING IN PRACTICE OVER THE PAST -- LET'S SAY SINCE THE END OF THE COLD WAR, BUT ESPECIALLY THE PAST FEW YEARS IS YOU FIND THAT THERE'S SOMETHING IN LIBERAL SOCIETIES THAT IN PRACTICE ACTUALLY MAKES THEM MAYBE AS THEY MORE AND MORE FULFILL THEIR PROMISES OF INDIVIDUAL AUTONOMY, THEY BECOME SOMEHOW MORE REPRESSIVE.

THE RECOGNITION OF MY FULLEST SENSE OF IDENTITY CLAIMS REQUIRES YOU, RAFAEL, TO ALSO AGREE WITH ME EVEN IF YOU DON'T OR YOU HAVE TO PUBLICALLY ASCENT TO WHAT I BELIEVE.

ISN'T THAT VEERING AWAY FROM LIBERALISM, WHEN YOU MAKE THAT STEP?

OR IS IT -- LIBERALISM IS MORE FULFILLING ITSELF.

IF YOU ADD IN THE FACT THAT LIBERALISM'S POLITICAL PROMISES HAVE BEEN INTENTIONED WITH ITS ECONOMIC VISION.

RIGHT?

SUCH THAT THE IDEA WAS THAT PEOPLE ARE GOING TO BECOME LIBERATED TO A CERTAIN MORE AUTONOMY OVER THEIR OWN LIVES AND ET CETERA, BUT WHEN THEY ENTER THE WORKPLACE OR WHEN THEY ENTER THEIR LIFE AS CONSUMERS, THEY ARE SUBJECT TO A LOT OF PRIVATE TYRANNIES.

THOSE ARE PARTITIONED OFF AS BEING PRIVATE.

THEY CAN'T POLITICALLY SUBJECT TO DEMOCRATIC GIVE AND TAKE.

VERY QUICK POINT IS THAT IT'S NOT THE CASE THAT LIBERAL SOCIETIES ARE THE ONLY ONES THAT CAN HAVE DUE PROCESS AND KIND OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL PROMISES.

MANY OF THOSE THINGS PRE-DATE THE RISE OF LIBERALISM AND LIBERALISM INCORPORATED THEM IN.

IT'S A LITTLE AHISTORICAL TO SAY THAT IT WAS ALL DARKNESS AND HORROR UNTIL LIBERALISM.

YOU ALSO WRITE THAT THE COMPACT'S INTENTION IS TO CHALLENGE -- IS, QUOTE, TO CHALLENGE THE OVER CLASS THAT CONTROLS CULTURE AND GOVERNMENT AND CAPITAL.

THAT SOUNDS LIKE THE TRADITIONAL ROLE OF THE TRADITIONAL LEFT, ESPECIALLY A MARXIST LEFT IS TO CHALLENGE AND OVERTHROW THE OVER CLASS.

DID THE TRADITIONAL LEFT ABANDON THAT RESPONSIBILITY?

THAT'S WHY YOU ARE IN FORCES WITH SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES?

REMEMBER THE TRADITIONAL LEFT IS WHAT -- IT'S FROM THE FRENCH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY.

IT'S INTRINSIC TO LIBERALISM JUST AS THE RIGHT IS.

IF YOU WANT TO TRANSCEND LIBERALISM, THEN WE HAVE TO TRANSCEND THE CATEGORIES.

OKAY.

YOU SAID EARLIER THAT PART OF YOUR MISSION IS TO ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL DEMOCRACY, WHICH IS NOT USUALLY WHAT SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES OR ANY TYPE OF CONSERVATIVES DO.

AS YOU KNOW, SOME OF YOUR CRITICS POINTED TO THAT AND SAID -- ESPECIALLY ONE, BEN BURGESS SAID THAT RIGHT WING SOCIAL DEMOCRACY IS IMPOSSIBLE, IT'S NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.

DO YOU HAVE EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY?

HAS IT HAPPEN INNED PAST, AND IS IT HAPPENING NOW?

I WOULD SAY THAT PRECISELY THE GOAL OF POLITICS OF THIS KIND IS TO IMAGINE NEW FORMULATIONS.

I REJECT THE PREMISE OR LET'S SAY THE CHARACTERIZATION OF COMPACT'S PROJECTS AS RIGHT WING SOCIAL DEMOCRACY.

THAT'S WHY I SAID, THAT'S WHAT HE CALLED IT.

TO HAVE BEN SAY WE'RE GOING TO FULFILL IT, BECAUSE THAT'S NOT -- WE FAVOR WHAT WE SAID, A SOCIODEMOCRATIC STATE THAT PROTECTS PEOPLE IN THEIR INDIVIDUALITY.

I DON'T FEEL THE NEED TO BRING UP HISTORIC EXAMPLES OF WHAT THAT MIGHT LOOK LIKE TO FULFILL SOME CRITIC'S CHARACTERIZATION OF IT.

YEAH.

IT'S HARD TO HAVE A POSITIVE PROJECT FOR A POLITICAL ARRANGEMENT THAT HASN'T BEEN INVENTED YET.

WE HAVE TO ALLOW OURSELVES THE POLITICAL IMAGINATION, POLITICAL POSSIBILITY.

THESE ARE SOME OF THE FIRST STEPS IN THAT DIRECTION.

I KNOW WE ARE ONLY A MAGAZINE.

WE ARE NOT GOING TO CHANGE THE WORLD.

BUT IT IS THIS ATTITUDE TOWARDS POLITICS THAT CAN HOPEFULLY MOVE US IN A POST-LIBERAL DIRECTION.

HOWEVER THAT ENDS UP BEING ARRANGED -- THAT RETAINS MANY OF THE THINGS THAT ARE GOOD WHILE REJECTING ALL THE THINGS WE CONSIDER BAD.

I LIKE TO GET BOTH OF YOU TO ANSWER THIS.

LET ME START WITH YOU, EDWIN.

'THE NEW YORK TIMES' HAD A POSITIVE PIECE ABOUT YOUR MAGAZINE.

THERE HAVE BEEN A NUMBER OF NOT SO QUITE BALANCED ARTICLES CRITICIZING THE MAGAZINE.

SOME FOCUS ON THE POSITIONS THAT YOU CHAMPION, THE WRITERS CRITICIZE IT, ARGUE AGAINST IT.

I FOUND IT CURIOUS THAT MANY OF THE ARTICLES CRITICIZING YOUR PROJECT SAY THAT -- THEY CRITICIZE IT BECAUSE THEY SAY IT'S BOUND TO FAIL.

I FOUND IT CURIOUS TO SEE WHY SO MUCH INK IS SPENT ON A PROJECT THAT THEY THINK IS GOING TO FAIL.

ONE MAGAZINE DEDICATED TWO ARTICLES TO THAT PROPOSITION.

WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THAT?

IT SEEMS AS THOUGH THEY FEEL THREATENED.

WE ARE NOTABLE ENOUGH TO WRITE MANY ARTICLES ABOUT.

PLEASE, BY ALL MEANS, DON'T LOOK AT THAT.

DON'T VISIT THIS WEBSITE.

THIS IS GOING TO ROT YOUR BRAIN.

IN THAT CONTRADICTION, IT EXPOSED THEIR HAND, WHICH SUGGESTS TO ME AND THE OTHERS THAT WHAT WE ARE DOING AND WHAT WE ARE AIMING FOR IS, IN FACT, VITAL.

IF IT WERE INSIGNIFICANT, THERE WOULD BE NOTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT.

YET, HERE WE ARE.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

WE ARE CHALLENGING EXISTING LEFT AND RIGHT.

SO WE WOULD EXPECT TO BE HIT FROM BOTH DIRECTIONS.

WE THINK THAT EACH OF THEM IS UNDERMINING THE GOALS THEY CLAIM TO SAY.

THE LEFT CLAIMS TO SPEAK FOR WORKERS AND YET SO OFTEN ITS OBSESSIONS WITH IDENTITY WORK TO THE BENEFIT OF THE HUMAN RESOURCES DEPARTMENT AND NOT THE WORKERS.

THE RIGHT SAYS IT STANDS UP FOR FAMILY AND YET THE ULTRA KIND OF NEOLIBERAL MARKET FUNDAMENTALIST ECONOMICS, VERY VICIOUS CAPITALISM THAT IT PROMOTES, UNDERMINE THE GOODS IT CLAIMS TO CARE ABOUT.

IF YOU POINT OUT BOTH OF THOSE THINGS AT THE SAME TIME, YOU ARE BOUND TO GET ATTACKED ON BOTH SIDES.

NEWS OF OUR DEATH HAS BEEN EXAGGERATED.

IT HAS BEEN ABOUT A MONTH SINCE THOSE ARTICLES APPEARED.

WE ARE STILL HERE.

FOR THIS PROJECT, FOR THIS VISION TO BECOME A REALITY AND NOT JUST AN INTELLECTUAL EXERCISE, IT HAS TO ACQUIRE POWER.

ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT WAYS TO ACQUIRE POWER THROUGH A POLITICAL INSTRUMENT, THROUGH A PARTY.

IN THE UNITED STATES THAT WOULD MEAN THE REPUBLICAN OR THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, BECAUSE OF THE LEGAL AND POLITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE OF OUR HISTORY.

MAKES THIRD PARTY POLITICS IMPOSSIBLE TO HAVE VICTORY.

GIVEN THAT, WHICH PARTY THAT EXISTS NOW COULD BE, DO YOU THINK, THE INSTRUMENT THAT WOULD EVOLVE INTO THE PARTY THAT WOULD CHAMPION THE FUTURE THAT YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE?

CAN I --

GO AHEAD.

WHICH PARTY?

NEITHER.

NEITHER.

AS CURRENTLY COMPOSED, NEITHER.

THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IN MY OPINION, THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS MAKING MANY OVERTURES TO THE WORKING CLASS, TALKING ABOUT CLASS MORE.

THE REPUBLICAN PARTY'S ENTIRE INFRASTRUCTURE IS STILL WHAT IT WAS TEN YEARS AGO.

RHETORIC IS FINE.

IT DOES GET VOTES.

BUT IN TERMS OF IT TRANSFORMING INTO ANY SORT OF A WORKERS PARTY, I HAVE VERY LITTLE HOPE.

OF COURSE, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY, WHICH HAS PRESUMED TO BE THAT PARTY, HAS EXPOSED ITSELF AS BEING ANYTHING BUT.

MY BEST CASE SCENARIO WOULD BE A LABOR POPULIST PARTY THAT ABSORBS FROM BOTH THOSE PARTIES.

AS IT STANDS RIGHT NOW, I DON'T THINK SO.

FIRST OF ALL, I'M HAPPY TO HAVE PUT OUT AN IMPORTANT MAGAZINE THAT MOVES CONVERSATIONS IN INTERESTING DIRECTIONS.

I ALSO DON'T -- I WOULDN'T PEG THE PROJECT TO EITHER POLITICAL PARTY.

IF WE CAN, FOR EXAMPLE, HOLD THE RIGHT TO ITS PROMISES, THE RIGHT IS TALKING A LOT ABOUT CLASS ISSUES RIGHT NOW, BUT A LOT OF IT, IF YOU LOOK AT IT, IS CULTURE STUFF STILL.

WRAPPED UP IN A PRO-WORKER RHETORIC.

IF WE CAN PUSH THEM IN THIS WAY A LITTLE SO THAT THEY -- YOU SHOULD DELIVER IN THIS WAY IN A CONCRETE, MATERIAL WAY, AND THE LEFT LIKEWISE, THEN WE WILL HAVE MADE PROJECT.

WE DON'T WANT TO HITCH OUR BANDWAGON TO EITHER.

WE WILL TAKE WHAT WE CAN GET IN MEANTIME.

BY ALL MEANS.

WE HAVE ABOUT 30 SECONDS LEFT.

I WANT TO KNOW HOW YOUR CRITICS ARE DOING PREDICTION-WISE.

HOW ARE YOU DOING TWO MONTHS?

IT'S GOING REALLY WELL.

WE WERE VERY MODEST IN OUR EXPECTATIONS.

IT HAS BEEN GOING QUITE WELL.

IT CERTAINLY HAS SOME TERRIFIC ARTICLES.

WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO END IT THERE.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

GOOD LUCK ON YOUR PROJECT AND ENDEAVORS.

THANKS SO MUCH.

THANK YOU.

♪♪

> RIVERHEAD RACEWAY HAS HOSTED SHOWDOWNS BETWEEN LOCAL RESIDENTS WHO BRING THEIR MAD MAX-LIKE STOCKCARS TO DO BATTLE WITH PASSION SPILLING OUT EVEN AFTER THE RACE IS DONE.

ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WERE OVER 40 TRACKS ON LONG ISLAND WHERE STOCKCAR GLADIATORS COULD VIE FOR GLORY.

TO DATE, RIVERHEAD IS THE LAST ONE STANDING.

IT, TOO, IS STRUGGLING TO HOLD ON AS NEARBY REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT THREATENS ITS SURV SURVIVAL.

A PHOTOGRAPHER CAPTURES THE DEVOTED RACETRACK COMMUNITY'S FIGHT TO SAVE THEIR RACEWAY AND ITS CULTURE.

HERE IS A LOOK.

WITH ALL THE TRACKS, 99% ARE DEFUNCT.

THEY ARE GONE.

THIS PIECE OF PROPERTY IS WORTH MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

BUSINESS COMING IN THIS WAY, THIS WAY.

IT'S GOING TO SQUEEZE THEM OUT.

IS GOD WAVING THE CAUTION FLAG IN YOUR LIFE?

IS HE TRYING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION?

A QUESTION OF TIME BEFORE JIM AND BARBARA PASS ON AND THEIR KIDS ALLOW US TO DEVELOP THE PROPERTY.

WHEN IT GOES, THAT WILL BE THE END OF RACING ON LONG ISLAND.

MICHAEL JOINS US NOW.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

IT'S A FASCINATING FILM.

HOW DID THIS FILM EMERGE OUT OF YOUR HEAD?

ARE YOU PART OF THIS?

WERE YOU PART OF THIS COMMUNITY?

I WANTED TO BE A RACE DRIVER WHEN I WAS YOUNGER.

I WAS RAISED IN A TOWN AND NEXT DOOR WAS A RACETRACK.

I WOULD GO WITH MY PARENTS AND BROTHER EVERY TUESDAY AND SATURDAY WHEN I WAS 3 UNTIL 18.

THIS WAS WHERE MY HEROES WERE.

OF COURSE, I WANTED TO BE A RACE DRIVER.

AS I STARTED TO SEE THAT TRACK WAS CLOSED AND REPLACED BY A COSTCO AND ALL THE TRACKS WERE CLOSED AND THERE WAS ONE LEFT.

THAT'S WHY I DECIDED TO MEMORIALIZE THIS RACETRACK, FIRST WITH PHOTOGRAPHY, WHERE I SPENT FIVE YEARS MAKING THAT TRACK MY STUDIO.

THEN FIVE MORE YEARS AFTER THAT WORKING ON A FILM.

YOUR FIRST FILM.

I THOUGHT IT WAS EASY.

HEROES?

WHO ARE THE MEN WHO PARTICIPATE IN THIS RACE AND THIS KIND OF SUBCULTURE AND THE PEOPLE AROUND THEM?

WHO ARE THEY?

THESE ARE WORKING CLASS PEOPLE.

THESE ARE MECHANICS AND TOW TRUCK OPERATORS THAT WORK REALLY DIFFICULT JOBS DURING THE WEEK.

AT NIGHT, EVERY NIGHT, THEY WORK ON RACE CARS.

THEY GET HOME FROM WORK AND WORK ON THE CARS.

IN THE WINTER THEY WORK EVERY SINGLE NIGHT AS WELL FOR THE CHANCE TO COME TO THE TRACK ON A SATURDAY NIGHT AT 6:00 TO RACE IN FRONT OF 2,000 FANS THAT WEAR THEIR T-SHIRTS, ROOTING THEM ON WITH THE HOPE OF WINNING A TROPHY.

YOU NOT ONLY CAPTURE THEIR PASSION FOR THE RACE, THEY ARE SKILLED PEOPLE.

THEY ARE.

THEY ARE ALMOST LIKE PHYSICISTS.

RACING IS PHYSICS.

THEY ARE -- WHEN THEY GET ON A TRACK, THEY RACE 100 MILES AN HOUR ON A QUARTER OF A MILE TRACK WITH 30 CARS.

IT'S NOT EASY.

YOU ARE ALLOWED TO MAKE FULL CONTACT, SORT OF.

THEY ARE SMART.

EVERYBODY WANTS MEANING IN THINK LIFE.

EVERYBODY WANTS TO FEEL LIKE THEY HAVE VALUE.

WHEN YOU ARE AT A RACETRACK AND YOU SIGN AUTOGRAPHS AFTER A RACE, PEOPLE SAY, YOU ARE MY HERO.

THAT MEANS -- NOT JUST TO THESE GUYS, TO EVERYBODY.

THEY ARE INSPIRING.

TWO OF THE MOST INSPIRING CHARACTERS ARE THE OWNERS, JIM AND BARBARA.

THEY ARE IN THEIR 80s.

THEY MOVE AROUND WITH WALKERS.

THEY ACTUALLY LOSE MONEY ON THIS.

THIS IS NOT --

IT'S A LOSING BUSINESS.

YET THEY SIT ON LAND THAT'S WORTH MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

EXACTLY.

THEY REFUSE -- THEY TRY TO KEEP SOLDIERING ON.

THEY WANT TO KEEP IT OPEN.

WHY?

WELL, IT'S INTERESTING.

I FOLLOWED THEIR LIVES FOR THREE YEARS.

YOU SEE BARBARA AND JIM COMING FROM MANHATTAN ON FRIDAY NIGHT, AN 87-YEAR-OLD COUPLE, SLEEPING IN A HOLIDAY INN, WAKING UP AND CHANGING INTO THEIR NASCAR UNIFORMS.

THEY ARE PART OF THE GROUP.

BARBARA SAYS IN THE FILM, MOST OF MY FRIENDS RETIRED THINK WHERE THEY ARE WILL PLAY GAMES.

WE HAVE A LIFE.

WE ARE HOLDING ON TO YOUTH.

THE SHOPPING MALLS ARE ENCROACHING.

THERE'S TWO WALMARTS IN THAT TOWN.

ALL THE FARMLAND IS GONE.

THAT PIECE OF LAND, IT'S THE LAST REMAINING.

IT'S WORTH $10 MILLION.

DEVELOPERS COME AND THEY SAY NO.

THIS COMMUNITY IS IMPORTANT.

WE FEEL RESPONSIBLE TO THE TOWN AND TO THE DRIVERS.

WE ARE KEEPING IT OPEN.

IF IT CLOSES, WHAT HAPPENS TO THE CULTURE?

IT'S NOT ONLY RACETRACKS.

THERE WERE 3,200 IN A COUNTRY LIKE THIS.

NOW IT'S 700.

THIS IS THE LAST REMAINING RACETRACK IN THE COUNTRY THAT RACES REAL STOCKCARS FROM THE '70s.

WHAT DO WE DO WITH PEOPLE THAT ARE BORED?

PEOPLE THAT LACK DIGNITY?

THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS I WANTED TO DO THE FILM.

I WANT TO KEEP THE COMMUNITY STABLE.

NOT JUST IN RACE CAR DRIVING, A LOCAL COFFEE SHOP, BAKERY.

YOU WANT A VIBRANT COMMUNITY INSTEAD OF RELYING ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

IT'S A FASCINATING FILM.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, LOG ON TO OUR WEBSITE AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

> IF YOU THINK EVERY SQUARE INCH OF NEW YORK IS OCCUPIED, WE HAVE NEWS FOR YOU.

THERE'S AN ISLAND IN THE EAST RIVER.

A PHOTOGRAPHER GOT PERMISSION FROM THE NEW YORK PARKS DEPARTMENT TO MAKE REPEATED TRIPS TO NORTH BROTHER ISLAND STARTING IN 2008.

THE STORY BECAME HIS BOOK OF PHOTOGRAPHS, NORTH BROTHER ISLAND, THE LAND UNKNOWN PLACE IN NEW YORK CITY.

♪♪

THERE'S REALLY NOTHING LIKE NORTH BROTHER ISLAND IN NEW YORK CITY.

IT'S A SECRET HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT.

IT'S AN UNHABITED ISLAND IN NEW YORK CITY.

IT HAS NOT BEEN INHABITED SINCE 1963.

THERE ARE 25 OR 26 STRUCTURES IN VARIOUS STATES OF DECAY.

FOR MUCH OF THE YEAR, THE ISLAND IS COMPLETELY OVERGROWN BY VEGETATION.

IN 2008, I SUBMITTED A PROPOSAL.

I WOULD DOCUMENT ALL OF THE BUILDINGS, CREATE AN ARCHIVAL RECORD.

IN RETURN FOR THIS BODY OF WORK, I WAS ALLOWED FREE ACCESS.

WHEN YOU FIRST STEP ON THE ISLAND, YOU REALIZE THAT YOU ARE COMPLETELY ALONE.

IT'S ACTUALLY A VERY TRANSFORMATIVE EXPERIENCE.

ONE MINUTE YOU ARE IN THE CITY.

YOU ARE AMONGST PEOPLE.

YOU HEAR THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS OF THE CITY.

THEN YOU GET ON A BOAT.

BEING ON THE WATER, BEING IN A SMALL ROWBOAT IS A TRANSFORMATIVE EXPERIENCE.

YOU SEE THIS ISLAND GETTING CLOSER AND CLOSER.

IT BECOMES LESS AND LESS OF A MIRAGE.

IT BEGINS TO BECOME MORE REAL.

SUDDENLY, YOU ARE ON IT.

YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY ALL OF THESE ABANDONED BUILDINGS.

YOU WALK A FEW FEET AND YOU COME INSIDE A FOREST OF TREES, A WONDERFUL CANOPY OF TREES.

YOU SEE ANCIENT BUILDINGS FALLING IN ON EACH OTHER.

THIS LANDSCAPE HAS GROWN UP.

IT'S LUSH AND IT'S OVERGROWN AND IT'S LIKE A JUNGLE.

YOU BEGIN TO WONDER ABOUT WHAT THIS PLACE WAS LIKE.

FROM THE 1880s UNTIL THE 1960s, 1963, THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE CALLED THIS PLACE HOME.

IT WENT THROUGH MANY USES.

IT WAS USED PRIMARILY AS A QUARANTINE HOSPITAL FROM THE 1870s UP TO WORLD WAR II.

THEN AFTER THAT, IT BECAME THIS HOUSING FOR G.I.s AND THEIR FAMILIES.

FROM THE 1950s TO 1963, IT WAS A DRUG TREATMENT CENTER FOR JUVENILE DELINQUENTS.

THEY SHUT OFF THE POWER, THINKING THEY WOULD USE IT AGAIN, LIKE THEY HAD SO MANY OTHER TIMES.

IN MY RESEARCH I FOUND THESE HISTORIC PHOTOS.

THEY SHOWED A CAMPUS WITH SIDEWALKS AND MANICURED LAWNS.

I BEGAN TO FIND THESE PLACES.

YOU NOTICE THE STREET LAMPS AND FIRE HYDRANTS POKING UP.

IF YOU DUG AROUND WITH YOUR FOOT AND YOU COULD PEEL AWAY THAT DIRT AND BENEATH YOUR FEET WAS A ROAD.

THIS FOREST THAT WAS SO ENCHANTING WAS ACTUALLY BUILT ON JUST A FEW INCHES OF DIRT.

IT'S NOT A PLACE WHERE YOU WANT TO RUN AROUND AND TAKE A MILLION SNAPSHOTS.

IT'S THE KIND OF PLACE YOU WALK AROUND AND THINK AND RETURN TO OVER MANY SEASONS.

I WOULD SEE SOMETHING ONE SEASON AND THINK ABOUT IT FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR AND RETURN THE NEXT SEASON TO TAKE THAT SHOT.

A LOT OF THE WORK GOES ON IN YOUR HEAD MONTHS BEFORE YOU EVEN TAKE THAT SHEET OF FILM.

IT IS AS IT IS.

I HOPE IT WILL REMAIN THAT.

IT'S NICE TO KNOW THAT IN A CITY WHERE EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS CHANGING, NORTH BROTHER ISLAND IS KIND OF MOVING ALONG AT ITS OWN PACE, ITS OWN NATURAL PACE AND REVERTING TO SORT OF WHAT IT ONCE WAS.

♪♪

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE

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