The Hill

Book Cover

In commemoration of the centenary of the Wounded Knee Massacre, in 1990, my partner Nick and I installed a replica of a Lakota tipi in the center of Manhattan’s most prominent shantytown known as The Hill and lived there for almost three years, making theater and art. We dedicated the tipi “in remembrance of the lives lost in 1890, and in recognition of the sovereignty and dignity of the most disenfranchised and forgotten members of our society a century later.”

The Hill traces the steps of how a shantytown went from the anonymity of waist-high huts hidden in the weeds, to a tour-bus, school-group and celebrity stop; from addicts and recluses just getting by, to a drug supermarket; from a close-knit encampment, to a crime scene that entangles everyone from drug dealers, to users, to cops, to Nick and me… when one day tragedy strikes.

Click here for excerpts from the original hand-written journal and Nick’s serialized narrative about the same events.

Click here to learn more about The Hill project.

Click here to read the extensive documentation about the work.

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“Rather than provide an overarching statement on homelessness, [The Hill] lets the author’s experiences speak for themselves—a powerful statement that doesn’t force an agenda. From Juan, a pushover crack addict, to Mr. Lee, who diligently tends to his own shack, the individuals are as unique as they are tragic… the material forms a highly readable firsthand account that is neither overly sentimental nor dismissive. A personal, informative portrayal of a unique New York community.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Fascinating, suspenseful, and touching… A must read for history buffs.”

“Seriously, get this book. You won’t read another like it.”

“Unforgettable and poignant, outrageous and thoughtful… a keeper for the ages.”

“[The Hill] brings this small chapter of NY history to life beautifully.”

“5 out of 5!!! This book was very heartfelt and a fantastic read.”

“Extremely well written, Inspiring and riveting. Not to be missed.”