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Web of Stories offers you the chance to listen to some of the greatest people of our time telling their life stories.

Closing the Warsaw ghetto

Marek Edelman

Social activist

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The controversial trees at 80 Wooster Street

Jonas Mekas - Film-maker

I don't see most of New York, I am... I restrict myself to a certain little area and I am familiar and like that area and then you notice... I think one of the most beautiful trees in New York is just in front, across the street from Anthology, on the corner... one of the most beautiful lush, with a great crown and that's Nature. And we were with August my friend, film-maker, painter, poet. We were so angry we have not forgive... forgiven yet to that Manhattan mini-storage place. It practically killed the tree on 2nd Avenue and first corner before the second street by stupid people, they did not like the grass growing there, they wanted a tree, nice tree and they put cement on, so that the water could not get there or nothing. See, but by the time we noticed that, you know, that it was... the tree was trying to survive, but it's dying so we ripped off everything to keep the tree going, but it's dying... poor tree.

And of course, we planted with George the first two trees on Wooster Street, in Soho, the first two new trees, it was forbidden, industrial manufacturing area and George found that they were levelling out some garage space on... further on Wooster Street. He said, 'Let's...' One night, he said, 'Let's go and get...' Actually, he went during the day and he saw two little trees there, you know, just little ones and he said, 'Oh, can I take them because they were destroying them, dumping them, carting them away'. 'No, no you cannot get them'. So at night he said, 'Let's go and get them'. So, we went and we got them and we planted them in front of 80 Wooster Street.

And next morning, I got up, I woke up and I see police, there are a couple of police people, I think it was one woman and a man, and they're looking at our little nice trees. They say, 'Who's in charge here?' So, I said, 'I'm, sort of, you know... what do you want?' 'But this is illegal, you have to... these trees have to go out. This is illegal, you cannot do that, you cannot plant trees on this street'. So I said, 'Okay, we'll go and tell this to the owner of the house'. So, I go to George and George is just getting up and grumpy, and... 'Tell them they can take them out themselves'. So I go but before I go I pick up my Bolex. So, I go out and I said, 'The owner of the house says he does not want to do it. If it's illegal, if you don't like it, you can take them out. And he asked me just, you know, for him to make a record, to film'. So, they looked at me, they looked at my Bolex, they turned around and never came back. And the trees are growing and they're big and nice. Now there are some new trees already planted, but they're very young, that's recently. They are the most photographed trees probably in Soho and most pictures... the Japanese, they come every few years and for the Japanese like very much trees. So, they... I have to go always with them and tell the story from the beginning and they put those stories in the papers, every few years, they follow the growth of the trees in front of 80 Wooster Street.

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