After 35 years living on the Lower East Side, photographer, artist, and documentarian Clayton Patterson is moving to the Austrian Alps. He's survived Giuliani, the crack epidemic, and 9/11; he's outlasted CBGBs and Mars Bar; he's been arrested dozens of times and come back for more. So what finally broke Patterson? Gentrification. "There's nothing left for me here," he told the Times. "The energy is gone. My community is gone. I'm getting out. But the sad fact is: I didn't really leave the Lower East Side. It left me."

Patterson is profiled in the Times this weekend in a long piece all about his decision to leave his beloved adopted city. The larger-than-life Patterson—who has a distinctive, braided beard, gold teeth, and looks at a glance like a long-lost member of the Hell's Angels—has one final photography show, "$16 Burger," opening in the meatpacking district on April 15th before he leaves.

Patterson sounds depressed by everything happening on the LES: rising rents, the loss of neighborhood institutions, the obscene displays of wealth by new residents, the lack of a creative community, and the death of friends like Taylor Mead. "The fact is, no one gave a damn about Taylor Mead," he said, "and what it made me realize was just how vulnerable people in this city are—even well-known and well-loved people. I might think that I’m the king of the world, but the truth is there’s no appreciation here for what I do or what I’ve done."

"Clayton is the neighborhood—or what’s left of it," added Ron Kolm, a poet, editor, activist and bookseller who once worked at the Strand with Patti Smith. "I guess I always figured that he’d be the last one standing, surrounded by tall buildings. This really is the end of an era."

Something tells us he'll be back though: Patterson talks about how his spirits have been lifted in recent months because he's found a group of artists, musicians, filmmakers and PR people who appreciate him (and helped organize the upcoming show). "It’s exciting," he says at the end of the piece. "It feels like we’ve got youth here—youth, vitality and interest. It’s almost like we’re on the threshold of a new moment. Who knows? Maybe this is the beginning of an actual beginning."