Saturday, April 26, 2008

Wetlands Preserved DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Rockumentary about Green NYC Nightclub Released on DVD

In 1989, Larry and Laura Bloch opened Wetlands Preserve in a rat-infested dive on Hudson Street in lower Manhattan. What made the groundbreaking nightclub different from others in the seedy section of the city was its eco-friendly orientation and commitment to activist causes ranging from the environment to animal rights. Reviving the spirit of the Sixties’ Woodstock Generation, the Blochs set an anti-corporate social agenda which put people and the planet before profits.

As a result of the owners seeing humans as more than objects to be exploited, the unorthodox rock club cultivated a counter-cultural clientele while also attracting an eclectic array of performers. Regulars included Blues Traveler, Macy Gray, Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Erykah Badu, Branford Marsalis, Pearl Jam, Hootie & the Blowfish, Jill Scott, Spin Doctors and The Roots. In addition, Wetlands served as a proving ground for up-and-coming unknown bands like Screaming Headless Torsos and The Murder Junkies.

Over the dozen years the place was in business, a portion of its nightly proceeds were donated to various groups aligned with its progressive ideas. Unfortunately, the popular haunt began to slide into a decline when it was targeted for harassment by the Giuliani Administration. During that reign of terror known as “zero tolerance,” the club was ticketed for the slightest of transgressions, even receiving a $50 summons for each poster placed around town by acts booked to appear.

The coup de grace was delivered on 9/11, when the terrorist attack on the nearby World Trade Center altered the landscape of and access to the neighborhood. Part nostalgic remembrance, part rebellious rallying cry, Wetlands Preserved is a fitting tribute to those intrepid souls who dared to try to carve out an altruistic utopian escape right in the midst of the hustle and bustle of a most materialistic metropolis.

Excellent (3.5 stars)


Running time: 97 minutes

Studio: First Run Features

DVD Extras: Outtakes, two live jam performances at the club, photo gallery and a list of everyone who ever played at the club.

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