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The Paper of Record for East and West Villages, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown

January 9, 2014 • FREE Volume 4 • Number 4

Judge says city broke law when it O.K.’d N.Y.U. plan BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

I

N.Y.U. PLAN, continued on p. 10

Lamenting the loss of a community vibe; Savoring the vestiges BY HEATHER DUBIN

W

earing orange low-top Converse sneakers with red socks, jeans and a cream-colored shirt, Daniel Lerner leaned back in his chair, and reflected on his neighborhood. An East Village resident since 1985, the sales representa-

PHOTO BY SAM SPOKONY

n a devastating blow to New York University, on Tuesday, State Supreme Court Justice Donna Mills ruled that the city and state broke the law by O.K.’ing the university’s plan to use three parkland strips for construction of its hotly

contested South Village expansion scheme. It was a stunning victory for a community lawsuit filed by a first-of-its-kind coalition made up of N.Y.U. faculty, preservationists, activists and dozens of Village residents and community organizations. Mills ruled that what

tive for Michael Skurnik Wines has witnessed many changes over the years in what feels like a little town to him. When Lerner first moved to New York in 1983, he lived below Houston St. at Rivington and Essex Sts. During that time, the drugriddled streets of the Lower CHANGES, continued on p. 8

The second time is twice as nice: At her inauguration for her second term in office, Margaret Chin got a strong show of support from prominent politicians, including, from left, Councilmember Brad Lander, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and new Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Among powerful friends, Chin enters her second term BY SAM SPOKONY

A

fter winning a tough reelection campaign against a much younger opponent with little political experience, Councilmember Margaret Chin showed off her strong political ties

as she entered a second term at her inauguration on Jan. 5. Chin, who defeated Jenifer Rajkumar by 17 points in the Democratic primary and then ran unopposed in the general election, celebrated her second swearing-in alongside key figures in the city’s new administration, as well as local, state and federal officials.

Newly elected Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer — who had worked closely with Chin in their previous roles as councilmember and Manhattan borough president, respectively — led the event off with strong words of CHIN, continued on p. 9

De Blasio on same page with news vendor................2 Monarch mania.............................................................7 New year’s resolutions for 2014..................................9 Ramping up the fun..............19

Porn pioneer passes away.........................................17 www.EastVillagerNews.com


De Blasio seems on same page with evicted news vendor BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

T

FILE PHOTO BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL

he news could be looking much better for embattled Astor Place newsstand vendor Jerry Delakas under a new administration. Arthur Schwartz, Delakas’s attorney, reported that Mayor Bill de Blasio was very sympathetic to Delakas’s plight when the vendor met him at a “public open house” the mayor recently held at Gracie Mansion. According to Schwartz, Delakas and Kelly King, an East Village artist and journalist, waited patiently in line to see the mayor. They brought along with them a small-scale model of Delakas’s newsstand as a “housewarming gift.” The actual newsstand was recently padlocked by the Department of Consumer Affairs in the waning days of former Mayor Bloomberg’s administration. D.C.A. charged that Delakas, though he had been operating the stand for decades, never formally held the license. But Delakas says the license’s last owner willed it to him. “This is Jerry Delakas,” King reportedly told the mayor. “He had a newsstand on Astor Place for 27 years and was beloved of the neighborhood, and it’s been taken away from him by the Department of Consumer

Affairs.” De Blasio reportedly responded, “I know the stand, it’s great. And I know the issue well — it’s a great injustice.” He then shouted to an aide, “It’s most important. Get on this right away.” Kelly presented the aide with the docket number and a press kit with an article on Delakas. On Tuesday, The Villager reached out to de Blasio’s press office for comment on whether the popular senior vendor, 64, has a chance, under a new administration, to return to his longtime newsstand. The answer sounded encouraging. “We are working to reach a better outcome,” responded De Blasio’s press secretary Phil Walzak. Delakas and Schwartz appeared in court Wednesday morning to request that Delakas be allowed to operate the newsstand once again while his appeal proceeds. But the court proceeding was delayed 15 days. On Tuesday night, Schwartz and Marty Tessler, a former Community Board 2 member who lives near the newsstand and has championed Delakas’s cause, filed a new application at D.C.A.’s licensing bureau for Delakas for the newsstand — since Schwartz now thinks that may be the best way to proceed. Schwartz said, at first, the D.C.A. staffers refused to accept the materi-

Jerry Delakas has operated the newsstand at Astor Place and Fourth Ave. for 27 years.

als, claiming they couldn’t. “You would have thought we were handing them a radioactive packet,” he said. Earlier, Schwartz spoke to two top D.C.A. attorneys who for the past four years have been fighting to evict Delakas from the Astor Place stand. Schwartz noted to them

that de Blasio clearly seems supportive of the ousted vendor. “I told them, ‘You know, he’s your boss,’” Schwartz said. “It’s hard for lawyers to switch positions in midstream. But they’re going to have to — these are career positions.”

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PHOTO BY SCOOPY

Councilmembers Jumaane Williams, left, and Rosie Mendez were all smiles on stage together at Councilmember Margaret Chin’s inauguration last Sunday.

FRIENDS AGAIN? There may be — at least publicly — no hard feelings after openly lesbian City Councilmember Rosie Mendez blasted her colleague Jumaane Williams for his stance against marriage equality and abortion rights during his recent unsuccessful bid to become the next Council speaker. The two briefly shared the stage on Jan. 5 at the inauguration ceremony for Councilmember Margaret Chin, who is now entering her second term. Although Williams, after giving his congratulatory remarks, left the stage almost immediately once Mendez began her speech, she started off by making a rather friendly reference to Williams’s musical talent. “Did Jumaane sing?” Mendez asked the crowd, smiling. “Oh, he didn’t? That’s a real treat, you know, hearing Jumaane sing.” Mendez, who represents the East Village and part of the Lower East Side, took a public shot at Williams, of Brooklyn, in late November when she said she wouldn’t support him in the speaker’s race because he opposes same-sex marriage and abortion. “As an out lesbian, it’s problematic for me that the person who would be representing this body is anti-gay marriage, anti-a woman’s right to choose,” Mendez said then in an interview with Capital New York. “Those are two really fundamental progressive issues.” Williams is, in fact, a member of the Council’s Progressive Caucus, though many in the city certainly do not consider his views on marriage and choice to be progressive in nature. Mendez, for her part, has declined to join that caucus, while she is generally regarded as one of the city’s most liberal elected officials. While praising Chin on Sunday, Williams highlighted Chin’s role as a founding member of the Progressive Caucus

as a reason for his continued support of her. “We’ve been doing a lot of good things in [the Progressive Caucus], and I’m looking forward to serving with her for another four years,” he said. A day after the inauguration, in response to our question about his relationship with Mendez, Williams released a terse statement in which he did not allude to anything that went on during his bid to become speaker. “Councilmember Rose [sic] Mendez and I have a great relationship, and I look forward to continuing our work together,” he said. Mendez’s office did not immediately return a request for comment. Moments after Williams and Mendez spoke on Sunday, a political staffer, speaking anonymously, said that Williams simply can’t afford to lash out against critics of his socially conservative views. “If he still held grudges against anyone for that, he wouldn’t have any friends left,” the staffer said.

RIDERS ON THE STORM? Bike-share stayed up and run-

ning last week through winter storm Hercules, but one had to wonder how many people were out there cycling on bikes of any kind. We tried one of the Citi Bikes around 10:30 last Thursday night as an inch or so of snow had already fallen, and it was way to slippery to ride for anyone other than Evel Knievel. As the storm was bearing down on the Big Apple, Dani Simons, a rep for NYC Bike Share, LLC, along with spokespersons for the city’s Department of Transportation, told us the plan was to start removing some of the cycles from on-street bike stations on major roadways and temporarily relocate them to stations on sidewalks and in plazas. “We anticipate leaving the system open but are prepared to

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shut it down if the storm worsens overnight,” Simons said. Seth Solomonow, a D.O.T. spokesperson, added, “Workers will shovel out bike stations promptly.” If necessary, Solomonow added, NYC Bike Share would install “snow flags” to indicate on-street bike-docking stations. In the end, the system was never shut down. As for how many people actually used bike-share during the peak-snow period, Nicholas Mosquera, a D.O.T. spokesperson, on Friday afternoon, told us, “There have been more than 3,000 rides [on Citi Bikes] in the less than 24 hours since snow first started falling.” Snow, in fact, was on elected officials’ minds this summer, when, on July 1, a month after bike-share launch, a posse of local politicians wrote a joint letter to Janette Sadik-Khan, then commissioner of D.O.T., expressing concerns about bikeshare and snow removal. While they noted they support bike-share, the elected officials said the agreement between D.O.T. and bike-share’s operator was unclear on who would plow snow near the bike-share stations. They noted that at one community meeting, “a D.O.T. representative raised concerns that the Department of Sanitation should not be plowing near bike-share stations, as it would cover the bikes in snow.” The pols also expressed concern that plows would smash into the bike-share docks if they were hidden in snow piles. In addition, they asked “what is the protocol” regarding shoveling snow for building owners who have bike-share stations directly in front of their buildings? “Are these owners supposed to shovel the snow into the [bike-share] station itself?” they asked. Signing the letter were Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Brian Kavanagh, Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, state Senators Brad Hoylman and Daniel Squadron, Councilmembers Mendez and Chin and former Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Sadik-Khan answered them on July 17, saying, in part, “Guidelines for snow removal will be similar to those for trash. Property owners should make piles along the sidewalk, and if there is a bike-share station on the SCOOPY'S, continued on p. 5

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POLICE BLOTTER Rapist gets 11 years

A man convicted of raping a 33-yearold woman inside her Greenwich Village apartment building three years ago has been sentenced to 11 years in prison, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced on Jan. 7. Last March, a State Supreme Court jury found Garis Ortega, 33, guilty of both first-degree and third-degree rape, as well as first-degree sexual abuse. On the early morning of Nov. 5, 2010, Ortega approached the woman as she was walking back to her Thompson St. home, began speaking with her and then walked with her to the building, according to court records. Once they reached the building, Ortega followed her into the vestibule and forcibly raped her, the D.A. said. After the attack, the woman fled into the street and ran until she found someone to call 911. Ortega was later caught after investigators recovered his DNA from the victim’s rape kit, the D.A. said. In addition to the prison term, Ortega

was sentenced to 10 years of post-release supervision.

Subway slammer

Police arrested Hakeem Lockett, 36, on Jan. 1 after he allegedly attacked a woman on a subway train. The woman, 35, told cops she got on a northbound F train at W. Fourth St. around 5:15 a.m., alongside Lockett, who entered the same car. The two individuals reportedly got into an argument as the train began to move again. Their dispute continued even after she walked forward to the train’s front car as Lockett followed her there, police said. After the train stopped at 14th St., Lockett reportedly exited alongside the woman, and then grabbed her by the collar and threw her against a wall, causing her to hit her head and suffer minor pains. Police said she later refused medical treatment. The alleged aggressor was apprehended by cops moments later inside the station.

HAIRCULES By Martin Hernandez

Once officers hauled him upstairs, Lockett also reportedly kicked out the window of a police cruiser. Based on that and his other actions leading up to his arrest, he was later taken to Bellevue Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, police said. Lockett was charged with attempted assault, attempted criminal mischief, harassment, disorderly conduct and obstructing government administration. The next day, while in police custody, Lockett was also charged with attempted assault for an incident in Queens that took place in January 2012, according to court records.

Missing coat, busted door

Ivan Osoianu, 25, was arrested on Jan. 1 for allegedly breaking the door of a West Village nightclub after trying to retrieve his lost coat and being denied entry. Employees for Le Poisson Rouge, at 158 Bleecker St., told cops that Osoianu showed up outside the venue around 7:30 a.m. and claimed that he’d left the coat inside, presumably at New Year’s Eve festivities. But there were two problems — he didn’t have a coat-check ticket to prove it, and the club was closed at that time anyway. Osoianu was told to come back another time. Instead, he became enraged and kicked the glass front door repeatedly until it cracked, police said. He was charged with criminal mischief.

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Police arrested Norman Gillard, 57, on Jan. 1 after he allegedly snatched a woman’s purse while she was chowing down in a West Village pizza joint. The woman, 20, told officers she was having a slice in Perry’s Pizza, at 190 Bleecker St., around 7:45 p.m. when she realized that her bag, which she had hung off the back of her chair, was gone. But another customer spotted Gillard swipe the purse, and, after informing the woman, quickly dashed outside to confront the thief, according to police. Realizing he was caught, Gillard reportedly admitted to the crime and revealed the stolen bag, after which the heroic bystander held him at the scene until cops arrived.

Gillard was charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.

Historic tagger takedown

Alexander Raspa, 30, was arrested Jan. 3 after he allegedly sprayed graffiti on a landmarked residential building on Horatio St. The super at 2 Horatio St., which first opened in 1931, reported the situation to police, who then caught Raspa in the act around 1:30 a.m. as he was tagging “RAWSPA” on the building’s service entrance, according to the police report. Once he was cornered, the vandal reportedly admitted to officers that he’d been making the graffiti. Raspa was charged with criminal mischief.

Spicey stolen goods

Police arrested Jamal Lynch, 28, on Jan. 3 when he was spotted with allegedly stolen goods after trespassing in a Meatpacking District restaurant. Employees for Spice Market, at 403 W. 13th St., called the cops after they caught Lynch wandering around the restaurant around 2:30 a.m. When officers arrived and searched him, they found that Lynch was carrying two cell phones that apparently didn’t belong to him, as well as a credit card that had been reported stolen on Dec. 11. Lynch was charged with criminal possession of stolen property and criminal trespassing.

Bouncer busted

A bouncer for a Village nightclub was arrested on Jan. 5 after police found that he was carrying brass knuckles. Hubert Merchant, 36, was working security for Pink Elephant, at 40 W. Eighth St., around 1:15 a.m. when police showed up to do an inspection. After checking his ID and discovering that Merchant had an open warrant, officers apprehended him and quickly found the metal hidden in his jacket’s inside pocket. Merchant was charged with criminal possession of a weapon.

Sam Spokony

EastVillagerNews.com


SCOOPY'S, continued from p. 3 sidewalk, they should pile snow at the ends of the station or at any breaks in the station.” As for garbage and snow in and around Citi Bike stations sited in the street bed, SadikKhan wrote, “NYC Bike Share is required to remove debris or snow for a six-foot radius around a station. This will help to provide an adequate buffer around which street cleaners and plows will be able to navigate. … If snow is pushed up against a bike-share station [by a city plow], NYC Bike Share will remove it, and in cases of predicted severe storms, bikes will be removed and stations will be deactivated in advance.” SadikKhan added that, at the Department of Sanitation’s request, NYC Bike Share, LLC was working to create station-identifying

markers, i.e. the flags. “In most snowfalls, however,” she wrote, “the Department of Sanitation should have no more difficulty seeing bike-share stations than it currently does seeing parked cars.” However, in the end, Hercules didn’t leave massive mounds of snow in its wake. On Monday, Glick reported, “We did not receive complaints regarding the clearing of the Citi Bike stations or people being able to clear the sidewalks.” As for the pols’ concerns when they anxiously wrote Sadik-Khan back in the summer, Glick said, “We were thinking more of a foot and a half of snow rather than 6 inches.” Riding a bike — a Citi Bike, actually — early Monday morning, we did spot, at Grand and Greene Sts., one of the tall red flags that NYC Bike Share, LLC put out to mark a docking station, but there

was only a negligible amount of snow left. … More to the point, we wondered, who among the politicians who signed the letter has ever actually ridden a Citi Bike? Kavanagh, as we recently noted, and Hoylman, too, are annual members of the program. Amy Varghese, Chin’s spokesperson, told us the councilmember actually does not know how to ride a bike. (O.K., in that case, she should not be doing bike-share — yet.) Glick told us, “I haven’t taken a Citi Bike ride yet. I have my own bike, which I ride infrequently. I walk a lot. But in the spring, I will do what Brad does — and carry a helmet — so I can avail myself of Citi Bike.” We hope Glick, who is a big Twitter fan, will tweet out a picture of that! … David Gruber, chairperson of Community Board 2, told us the bike-share station on Carmine

St. that he has complained should not be there, since he feels the street is too narrow to begin with, had its bikes removed as Hercules hit town. He told us to mention the Bicycle Task Force meeting that C.B. 2 will be holding on Mon., Jan. 27, at 6:30 p.m., at Grace Church School, 86 Fourth Ave., at E. 11th St. Enforcement and bike safety will be the big issues, he said. “Seriously, there’s a lot of emotion with this bike issue,” he told us. “I think bike-share has started to quiet down, but there’s still a lot of concerns about bikes.” The task force includes, among others, Two Boots Pizza (which, of course, has a fleet of bike deliverymen) and Village activist Zack Winestine, presumably a serious cycling advocate, based on the fact we almost always see him carrying a bike helmet.

Christmas trees’ second coming: Mulch BY HEATHER DUBIN

T

he holiday season has come to a close, but your increasingly brittle Christmas tree can still serve a useful purpose, provided you remove it from your apartment. This past Monday, the Department of Sanitation began its annual curbside pickup of

Christmas trees, which continues through Jan. 15. After you have taken all the trimmings, lights and ornaments off your tree, leave it unbagged on the curb for collection. Trees will be transported by Sanitation to its facility on Staten Island to be chipped and turned into compost. According to Kathy Dawkins, an agency spokesperson, the compost is available next spring, and will be spread on parks, ball fields and community gardens citywide. Last year’s post-

Fighting to make Lower Manhattan the greatest place to live, work, and raise a family.

holiday haul was about 147,000 tannenbaums, equal to about 1,200 tons of trees. Another option is to bring your ornament-free tree to a local park on Jan. 11 and 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for MulchFest 2014, sponsored by the Parks Department. Chippers will be set up at this annual event to process trees into wood chips and mulch. You can even take home your own bag of mulch for your window box or rooftop garden, or create a winter bed for

a street tree on a New York City sidewalk. Trained Parks employees will monitor each site in the five boroughs. Local spots include Tompkins Square, Washington Square and Union Square parks and Stuyvesant Town. This “treecyle!” opportunity mulched over 26,000 trees last year. Phil Abramson, a Parks Department spokesman, said the city hopes to top that number this year. For more information visit milliontreesnyc.org.

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A victory for parks, and for the community Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN

EDITOR IN CHIEF LINCOLN ANDERSON

ARTS EDITOR

SCOTT STIFFLER

REPORTERS

HEATHER DUBIN SAM SPOKONY

CONTRIBUTORS IRA BLUTREICH TERESE LOEB KREUZER JEFFERSON SIEGEL JERRY TALLMER

ART / PRODUCTION DIRECTOR TROY MASTERS

SENIOR DESIGNER MICHAEL SHIREY

GRAPHIC DESIGNERS CHRIS ORTIZ ANDREW GOOS

SENIOR VP OF ADVERTISING / MARKETING FRANCESCO REGINI

RETAIL AD MANAGER COLIN GREGORY

EDITORIAL

L

ike everyone else, we were simply bowled over by Judge Donna Mills’s extraordinary ruling, handed down Tuesday, on New York University’s 2031 expansion plan for its South Village superblocks. What it all means will be sorted out in the weeks and months to come. But it’s clear that Mills’s decision throws a major monkey wrench into N.Y.U.’s development designs on the South Village. It’s been clear from the very start that the university’s plan was a colossal overreach. Trying to wedge so much development — nearly 2 million square feet of new space — onto the two superblocks was far too much, simply an affront. At the heart of the judge’s decision, was the assertion — as argued in the landmark community lawsuit — that the four open-space parcels along the edges of Mercer St. and LaGuardia Place have, for decades, been used — and treasured — as community parkland

in an area, the Village, that is, in fact, starved for park space. We said as much in our editorial on Feb. 28, 2013, emphatically entitled, “Not strips — but parks,” in which we detailed how N.Y.U. has blocked the transfer of these park properties to the city’s Parks Department over the years, so that it could protect its development plans. As Community Board 2, former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern and others have always maintained, Mills similarly agreed that simply because these properties were technically under Department of Transportation jurisdiction doesn’t mean they are not de facto parks. Property that is used for decades and decades as parks, that has official Parks Department signage, that is listed on Parks’ own Web site as a park — is parkland. One of the parcels, Mercer Playground, was even formally transferred to the Parks Department. As Randy Mastro, an attorney for the community plaintiffs, stated repeatedly, “If it walks like a park, and talks like a park and looks like a park — it’s a park.”

In short, Mills ruled, the state Legislature must formally “alienate” these parcels —decommission them as public parks — if they are to be used as staging areas for and access ways into N.Y.U.’s construction projects. And Assemblymember Deborah Glick, one of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs, stated that, as long as she’s in the Legislature, it never will be done. Mills’s ruling was right on target. Again, what does it all mean for N.Y.U. 2031? It’s hard to conceive how two infill buildings can now be erected on the north superblock without the university being able to use the two parkland parcels on that block’s edge to facilitate its construction. Would the university really think to try to bring in gigantic cranes and an endless convoy of building supplies under the low entranceways of Washington Square Village? It’s not even clear if that could physically be done — and, if it could, what an incredible nightmare that would be for the W.S.V. tenants, most of whom are university faculty, graduate students and other N.Y.U.-

affiliated personnel. The northern superblock plans appear — for now — to be dead in the water. From what we hear from N.Y.U., they still think they can build on the Morton Williams supermarket site, not by coming in through the LaGuardia Corner Gardens, as previously planned (and which would have devastated that iconic garden), but now through Bleecker St. It remains to be seen how realistic that idea is. However, Mills, in her ruling, did not find that the open-space parcel along Mercer St. between Houston and Bleecker Sts. was a park. The basis of her decision was that the dog run there doesn’t have Parks signage and has been maintained not by Parks but by N.Y.U. Yet, she failed to mention the playground and seating area just north of the dog run that N.Y.U. has allowed to become a sunken, closed-off eyesore — even though, under an agreement made decades ago, the university was obligated to maintain this as a community space. Originally, an EDITORIAL, continued on p.17

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January 9, 2014

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Campaign oversight To The Editor: Governor Cuomo must lead the charge toward accomplishing the reforms advanced by his Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption. A critical step is to get rid of the State Board of Elections’ woeful oversight of the campaign financing system. New Yorkers deserve an independent and nonpartisan watchdog. In addition to effective enforcement, the League of Women Voters of New York State urges lower contribution limits, elimination of loopholes, robust disclosure and a small-donor match public financing system of elections, all of which are recommended by the Moreland Commission. Our current campaign finance system negatively affects democratic engagement. It is up to the governor to make reform of Albany’s ways a top priority during the upcoming session.

Mary L. Jenkins Arthur Schiff Rosemary Shields Jenkins is co-president, New York City League of Women Voters; Schiff and Shields are the league’s campaign finance reform co-chairpersons

Thanks for tribute To The Editor: Re “James Gallagher, 61, Downtown actor turned therapist” (obituary, Dec. 5): Thank you for publishing such a beautiful tribute to Jamie,

my cousin Jackie Curtis’s close friend and also our good friend of the family. He was a wonderful human being, so well loved and respected. I was quite unaware of and disturbed to hear of the circumstances surrounding his LETTERS, continued on p. 8

EVAN FORSCH

EastVillagerNews.com


Oh, I give up: Let’s just surrender to monarch mania TALKING POINT BY ALPHIE MCCOURT

P

rince Harry toured the States last May: He came, he saw, he conquered. Men admire him. Women love him. His mother Princess Diana died in a car accident in Paris in 1998. In our friends’ house, in Pennsylvania, we learned that she had been badly injured and, later, that she was dead. I was sad. My wife was deeply disturbed. She continued to watch the television coverage of the tragedy. I went on up to bed. When I came down in the morning she was already transfixed by the news footage. Diana was stylish and glamorous, her good works praiseworthy. I was deeply saddened, especially because of her youth and beauty, but I felt no connection. I tried to articulate all this but my brain was still sleeping. “Oh, is she still dead?” was what came out of my mouth. In an awkward moment I had uttered a stupid and seemingly callous remark. It was not what I meant to say. Some months later, I asked Lynn why women feel so strongly about Diana. “Women have few heroes,” she said. “Diana was a superstar, superhero and — an English princess.” Let’s face it:  We have “a thing” for the English. We admire them and condescend to them in equal measure. We are also intimidated by them. Public television depends heavily on British programming. During the 1970s, the long-running series “Upstairs, Downstairs” fed our fascination with the English upper classes and their servants. “Downton Abbey” is our latest craze. Set on a large estate, it has an English lord and his American wife as central characters. The English are forever fascinated by the First World War. And with good reason. “Downton” begins before the outbreak of that war, continues on through and chronicles the changes that took place in English society after the war. We are no less fascinated. The English yearn for the days when everyone in England was English, when people knew their place, when honor — and order — prevailed. Who would begrudge our own yearning for a dash of nobility and honor, of style, even? Blue and red, absolutists all, we are stuck between lockstep liberals and fevered fundamentalists. Is it any wonder that we look to the “Downton Abbey” of another time for order, stability and clarity? Good old-fashioned openness in government has given way to something called transparency. Our leaders travel in bulletproof vehicles with tinted windows — all in the interest of security, we are assured. There is no access to our leaders. “Money makes women horny,” Willie Nelson once said, a quote he attributed to Ray Price. It takes a king’s ransom to run for office, and payback is a you-knowwhat. And so, money also buys access. What can we do? Well, we could burnish the illusion that ours is a fair system with liberty and justice for all. But why bother, when we have a de facto aristocracy already in place and the poor are relearning

their proper place, while the shrinking middle class juggles the mortgage for all. And we are blessed with a virtual guarantee of perpetual war, “over there,” our no-fault insurance against ever having to bear responsibility for the bottomless chasm at home. We can bow our heads in tribute to the Founding Fathers and still ensure that privilege takes precedence. But it’s all so dull and temptation is great. We’re human, after all, and, as Oscar Wilde said, the best way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.  So why not kill two stones with one bird, keep our simulacrum of democracy — and get us a monarch to top it off? You can lease a car, a jet or rent an escort. Why not a king or a queen? Our monarch should be English. An English-speaking king or queen will cement “the special relationship.” As a rental, the monarch’s status will not violate the Constitution and, since he or she is only a temp, we will not have to pay retirement or other benefits. Surely, we can find a royal cousin willing to take the job. (Harry would be terrific — but a royal, wearing two crowns, would raise constitutional issues). The monarch’s term of office would run for no more than eight years, in accordance with the term limits imposed on the president. Lend-lease worked well during the war. Rent-A-Royal should work equally well. We gain a cornerstone for our new and improved democracy: Britain saves a ton of money on the upkeep of one royal. To distinguish ours from the British monarch, HRH, Her Royal Highness, our King/Queen will be dubbed His/Her Royal Rented Highness — HRRH. HRRH will spend twothirds of the year in the royal castles in Disney World and Disneyland. The remaining few months will be spent traveling to Minnesota, for the ice fishing or to New York, for the shopping, as the case may be. The Department of Royal Maintenance will administer the royal affairs.  HRRH will never appear in Congress, though he or she may ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange, upon request. Monarch and consort will dress in ceremonial attire a few times a year. Politicians, power brokers and their consorts will join them and dress accordingly. Once a year, HRRH will dine at the White House. Horse and carriage will be the mode of transportation on these occasions. Soon the leaders of the blue and red parties will forswear their divisive ways and readily appropriate

Surely, we can find a royal cousin willing to take the job.

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a ton of money to maintain the royal establishments. The rich will grow richer, the privileged more privileged and the poor even more impoverished. Our stars will be perfectly aligned. And what of the citizen? The citizen will keep his head down. Days, nights and weekends he will toil, multitasking, doing three jobs, thankful to be paid for one. Distracted by foreign wars and royal spectacle at home, he will appear not to notice his enslavement to ever-longer working hours. And the disappearance of his children’s opportunities into the maw of the 21st century. The monarch, meanwhile, will attend the Super Bowl, with retinue in tow. Or imagine HRRH at the Kentucky Derby, knee deep in old money and fawned upon by the chosen. The Yeas and Nays of democracy will soon be drowned out by the Oohs and Aahs of our royalist fantasies. HRRH will captivate the men and wow the women. In our indifference to the corruption of our democratic tradition, we will be united. Political discourse will die and dissent become but a distant memory. What now of the citizen? The citizen has been silent, yes, but he is never indifferent. Weary, now, of frippery and sick and tired of war, he will soon rise up at the ballot box. Vote N.O.T.A. — NONE OF THE ABOVE (or throw the bums out) — will be his battle cry. Then, with regret (for the monarch is a good guy and a Yankees fan), he will fire the royal (with a year ’s notice, a good reference and, of course, a decent severance package). And we will start afresh.

SOUND OFF! Write a letter to the editor news@thevillager.com

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Vibe gone, savoring the vestiges CHANGES, continued from p. 1

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, continued from p. 6 death, but I’m glad things worked out in the end. If I may, I just would like to point out that my grandmother’s bar, Slugger Ann’s, was located on E. 12th St. and Second Ave., and not on E. Third St. and Avenue C as written. Jackie, my cousin, lived in an apartment behind the bar, not above it. I know these things could come across as petty corrections for some, but I like to heighten the awareness when it comes to the details of my family and our East Village history. Just a stickler for those things, I guess. Most of all, thank you for publishing such a warm tribute to our friend. He will be forever in our hearts. Joe Preston

ists and political activists, who are the type of people who founded it, he noted. “When I moved here, it was an expansive demographic group,” he recalled. “It was very warm and welcoming, and also scary and very grubby, which didn’t particularly bother me. But there was a sense of — we all decided to come here and invent ourselves, and we’re fellow travelers. And now, it’s so profoundly unsympathetic.” A real turning point for Lerner was when Alistair and Catherine Economakis, upon the threat of eviction, bought out their 15 rent-stabilized tenants at 47 E. Third St., between First and Second Aves., in order to convert the entire 11,500-square-foot tenement into their single-family residence. In 2007, the Economakises won a protracted court battle, allowing them to occupy the entire five-story building with their three children. “They built a mansion for themselves,” Lerner said. “That event was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me in the neighborhood.” Lerner would have liked to have seen more affordable housing and protections for working people and middleclass families to remain in the neighborhood. “The homogeneity of the enormous influx of wealth into the neighborhood makes me feel like I live in a luxury housing development,” he said. “Every move is programmed for maximum profit and profitability. The neighborhood used to be for creative people and outcasts, but now apartments on Bond St. sell for $23 million.” If he could think of anywhere else to go, Lerner would leave the neighborhood. In the meantime, he supports the local economy, and has frequented the same laundromat and shoe repair shop for about a quarter century. There is a familiarity and energy to the East Village that Lerner loves. “There are people I smile to on the sidewalk, and I have seen them for 30 years,” he said. “I don’t know who they are, but I’ve been walking by them for 30 years, and now I

recognize their kids, too.” Lerner described the pulse of the neighborhood as a “collective unconscious” that is close to the surface. While his wife is ready to bolt, for now, the two of them have a deal. “When the umpteenth bank comes through or the umpteenth storefront, we’ll leave, because the neighborhood won’t exist anymore,” he said. “But as long as some vestige is left in the neighborhood, we’re staying. “I’ve been walking out the same apartment door for 30 years,” Lerner said, “I never know who I’m going to see, or who I’m going to run into. There’s always that possibility, and it’s a nice feeling.”

Gardens, going forward

De Blasio’s horse sense?

To The Editor: Re “Magical mystery buy: New owner purchases former garden lot” (news article, Dec. 26): It’s great that Sarah Ferguson is covering this story for The Villager. The danger to community gardens in New York is real and present as witnessed also last week by the bulldozing of the Coney Island Community Garden. It’s a shame that Bloomberg would sully his reputation as an eco-activist and put such a capstone on his reputation as a pro-business bully. I hope the new mayor and the new borough presidents can bring the community gardens under Parks Department control in a comprehensive way that includes real democracy (unlike what Roland Chouloute and GreenThumb practice), and that they also place the gardens on New York City maps as permanent park space (which they currently are not).

To The Editor: Mayor DeBlasio is concerned for the safety of the carriage horses in New York City. Will his concern extend next to the police horses? Will they be the next to be taken out of service? Another question is what will happen to the stables across from the Javits Center that house the carriage horses, which are now prime real estate property near the end of the new No. 7 subway line extension and Hudson Yards? I just wanted to bring this to everyone’s attention since I am concerned about de Blasio’s real motives.

Jeff Wright

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January 9, 2014

PHOTO BY HEATHER DUBIN

East Side were a hot spot for crime, and fear was rampant. “I used to run home from the subway,” he recalled. Two years later, Lerner found a two-bedroom apartment in a less rat-populated location on Second Ave. and Second St., where he currently lives with his wife, Kristin Bebelaar. Initially attracted to the East Village for its thriving art scene and affordable rents, Lerner, a Chicago native, quickly took to the area’s lively and communal vibe. “All of a sudden my horizons were radically expanded socioculturally,” he said. “I was getting exposed to all sorts of great stuff that I hadn’t seen before.” Lerner spent time wandering around the neighborhood with friends, and going to restaurants and clubs. A favorite was 103 Second Ave., which he described as a 24-hour “snazzy diner,” now Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque. “We would go and have these incredibly long meals, start at breakfast, stay through lunch and yack endlessly,” he said. Lerner also loved to go to The World, a nightclub on Second St., and local flea markets. After they had saved up some cash, Lerner and his friends would hit Hawaii Five-O, a restaurant that used to be on First Ave. Elizabeth Murray, a painter, was a part owner, along with some other artists. “It was a bizarre conceptual thing,” he said. “The chairs had wheels, there was a diving board in a corner and the walls were painted blue. It was like being inside a pool.” Lerner, 56, has a half-dozen friends who have been in the East Village as long as him, and they still get together. Some may remember Bernard’s, on Avenue C and Ninth St., whose French chef rode his bike to the farmer’s market to buy produce. “That was at least 20 years ago before anyone was doing that,” Lerner said. The edge and diversity that once defined the East Village are gone, in Lerner’s view, and he laments the loss. The neighborhood has become cost-prohibitive to struggling art-

Daniel Lerner in the East Village.

Ruth Kuzub E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@ thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 515 Canal St., Suite 1C, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.

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Among powerful friends, Chin enters her second term CHIN, continued from p. 1

her persistence in securing disaster recovery aid after Hurricane Sandy. “Margaret, you have earned all this,” Schumer declared. In her own remarks after being sworn in, Chin proclaimed her support for de Blasio’s universal pre-K plan — although its accompanying tax hike may now have trouble getting the green light from Governor Cuomo. She further pledged to create more affordable housing, and also to continue pressuring the city to deal with public school overcrowding issues Downtown. “We have to build more schools so that our children will not have to be on a waiting list for kindergarten,” Chin said. Since the inauguration took place at P.S. 130, on Baxter St., Chin noted that she had, in many ways, come full circle in her career. A half century ago, she attended the school as a young girl. “And now here I am, at P.S. 130, where I first learned English and graduated in 1965,” she said. “I truly could not have imagined then that I would someday be lucky enough to represent this district that I love.”

PHOTO BY SAM SPOKONY

support for Chin. “She’s a powerhouse, and that’s why I love her dearly,” James said of Chin. They were later joined on stage by Emma Wolfe, the newly appointed director of intergovernmental affairs for Mayor Bill de Blasio, who extended congratulations. In other remarks at the event, Chin was also praised — always professionally, but sometimes on a deeply personal level — by U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, Congressmembers Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito (who was elected Council speaker on Wednesday — and whom Chin proudly announced she had supported for speaker) and state Senator Daniel Squadron, along with numerous others. “What we can say about Margaret is this: No one put a silver spoon in her mouth, and no one plucked her up and put her into high office,” said Schumer, who, among other things, would go on to describe Chin as a “tiger” when it came to

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver showed his support for Councilmember Margaret Chin at her swearing-in for her second Council term after a competitive primary election.

What are your New Year’s resolutions for 2014? Interviews at Christopher and Hudson Sts.

PHOTOS BY SAM SPOKONY

Melissa Zollo:

Tom Ruff (with his dog, Tank):

Andrea Christensen:

“To embrace inspiration, live joyfully and use my imagination constructively.”

“No resolution, but I just want to support peace on Earth.”

“To work on more creative projects outside of my job [at the Spike TV network], and maybe to start a blog.”

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January 9, 2014

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Judge rules that open-space strips are clearly parks NO STRINGS ON ‘ZIPPER’ BUILDING

N.Y.U. PLAN, continued from p. 1

FILE PHOTO BY ELISABETH ROBERT

is known as the “common-law public trust doctrine” was violated when the plan was approved without the required step of the parkland strips first being “alienated” — or removed as parkland — by the state Legislature. Under the N.Y.U. plan, led by President John Sexton, the university sought to construct four new buildings — a total of nearly 2 million square feet of new development — on its two superblocks, which are bounded by Houston and W. Third Sts. and Mercer St. and LaGuardia Place. The city and university argued that the four narrow park strips — running along the superblocks’ edges on Mercer St. and LaGuardia Place — have always been mapped as streets, and thus have been under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation, ever since the streets were widened in 1954 for an aborted Lower Manhattan highway project.  

The LaGuardia Corner Gardens — seen here in glorious full bloom — have been flourishing along a strip of city-owned land on LaGuardia Place at Bleecker St. since 1981. On Tuesday, a State Supreme Court judge ruled the garden is not a street — but a park.

‘IMPLIEDLY’ PARKS

DOG RUN GIVES JUDGE ‘PAWS’ However, she determined that the same cannot be said for the strip with the Mercer-

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January 9, 2014

FILE PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

But Mills ruled that three of the parcels have been “impliedly” used as parks for decades. In her decision, she cited affidavits given by former public officials — including former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern, former City Councilmember Kathryn Freed and former Transportation Commissioner Chris Lynn — stating their firm belief that the strips were always de facto parkland. Stern and Lynn further testified in their affidavits that N.Y.U. was constantly blocking the strips’ formal transfer from D.O.T. to Parks because it wanted to protect its development rights — even though it was clear that the strips would never again be used as streets. That the sites sport regulation Parks Department signage and are mentioned on the department’s Web site is more proof that they are indeed parkland, Mills stated in her 78-page decision. She further cited other precedent-setting cases involving similar park situations that support her decision. “The court…concludes,” Mills stated, “that land may become parkland by implication even, for example, where the land remains mapped for another purpose, as here.” The judge ruled that LaGuardia Park (on LaGuardia Place between W. Third and Bleecker Sts.) Mercer Playground (on Mercer St. between W. Third and Bleecker Sts.) and LaGuardia Corner Gardens (on LaGuardia Place south of Bleecker St.) are all clearly parks.

Last July, before the City Council voted nearly unanimously to approve the N.Y.U. 2031 plan, Council Speaker Christine Quinn cleared the Council Chamber’s balcony of protesters, who had started hooting and hissing. Above from left, Ruth Rennert, a Washington Square Village resident, and Paul and Marianne Edwards, 88 Bleecker St. residents, shouted their displeasure over the Council’s anticipated vote as they were ejected from the Council Chambers.

Houston Dog Run (on Mercer St. between Houston and Bleecker Sts.) because it doesn’t sport any Parks Department signage, and also because N.Y.U., not Parks, has maintained and repaired the dog run. (Ironically, on the same block, just north of the dog run, is a sunken children’s playground and a seating area that are closed to the public precisely because N.Y.U. has let them fall into disrepair and done nothing for their upkeep.) Mills noted that her ruling doesn’t mean the N.Y.U. plan can’t go forward — just that if the university wants to use the three parkland strips, they first must be alienated by the state Legislature. N.Y.U. wants 20-year “easements” for these three strips, which

would allow it to run construction vehicles over them and use them as staging areas during the lengthy, phased construction on the superblocks. In N.Y.U.’s plan, after the project’s completion, the strips were to be taken over by the Parks Department as permanent parkland. Under the 2031 plan, two “infill” buildings are called for on the northern superblock, while the southern superblock would see the Coles Gym rebuilt with a new so-called “Zipper Building” and the Morton Williams supermarket site rebuilt with a new N.Y.U. dorm that could contain a public school or, more likely, a community use, possibly a senior day facility, in its base.

Under Mills’s ruling, the “Zipper Building” project can proceed. N.Y.U.’s plan is to shift the current Coles Gym footprint to the east, taking over part of the Mercer strip for the new replacement building. The dog run would be relocated to the west of the new Zipper Building. But N.Y.U. would have to figure out some other way — without easements on the three other parkland strips — to build the other three buildings in the plan. (In the case of the Morton Williams-site project, N.Y.U. planned to build an access road through the LaGuardia Corner Gardens to the construction site. But an N.Y.U. source told The Villager, “There’s some flexibility there,” that the construction workers and machines could just “come in through the Bleecker St. side” instead of through the garden.) While Mills upheld the plaintiffs’ first argument — that the strips (or at least three of the four) are implicitly parks — she shot down five other arguments in the suit: namely, that N.Y.U. and the city failed to examine feasible alternatives to 2031; that the university’s plan violates the Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation Law; that there was insufficient environmental review; that the city’s ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) was faulty; and that there were violations of the Open Meetings Law by N.Y.U. and elected officials during the plan’s review process.  

VICTORY! Meanwhile, the plaintiffs were celebrating their amazing victory after Mills’s decision. Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who joined the suit, hailed the ruling, calling it “as important as it is exciting.” She vowed that she would never support alienating the parkland strips, though warned that the N.Y.U. fight probably isn’t over yet. “The court’s rejection of this attempt to usurp parkland without proper approval by the state Legislature reaffirms a crucial tenet of parkland protection,” Glick said. “This decision is a huge victory after years of work by the community as we united together to protect the Village from the overdevelopment proposed by N.Y.U.” However, she added, “I do not expect that this will be the end of our development concerns, or even our legal battles over the N.Y.U. 2031 plan, but this is a huge victory nonetheless.”

‘A CLEAR VINDICATION’ Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, called the decision an affirmation N.Y.U. PLAN, continued on p. 16

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Four cool fests bring the heat Under the Radar, Other Forces, PROTOTYPE and Gilded Stage

PHOTO BY SHINSUKE SUGINOU

PHOTO BY RULER

London sensation Kate Tempest (at right) brings her “Brand New Ancients” to St. Ann’s Warehouse, as part of the Under the Radar Festival.

BY SCOTT STIFFLER

BRAND NEW ANCIENTS

South East London resident Kate Tempest’s raps are vivid, meticulously weaved observations that mine the divine from life’s unpleasant realities. For Tempest, who cut her teeth as a writer during a “wayward youth living in squats, hanging around on picket lines, rapping at riot cops and on the night bus home,” it’s the “everyday odysseys” that give an epic glow to this tale of multiple generations from two families. “See, there’s always been heroes and there’s always been villains,” says Tempest in a YouTube excerpt from the

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show. “And yes, the stakes may have changed, but really there’s no difference. There’s always been heartbreak and greed and ambition and bravery and love and trespass and contrition.” All shifting shoulders and closed eyes that give way to forceful stances and contemplative squints as she stalks the mic, Tempest’s delivery can come across as blunt to the point of curt — but her mashup performance style (hip hop rhythms, poetic rhymes, classical music riffs) is anchored by a deep, rageleavening empathy for “the plight of the people who have forgotten their myths.” It’s what elevates her characters from the murk of everyday routine into the realm of “Brand New Ancients.”

Taeko Seguchi, in “The Room Nobody Knows” — at Japan Society (an Under the Radar Festival presentation).

The show plays St. Ann’s Warehouse after earning a Herald Angel Award, from its run at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The 27-year-old Tempest also drew critical accolades during an “Ancients” tour of prestigious London venues (including the Royal Court Theatre, the Young Vic and the Royal Opera House). Joined on stage by a live quartet (Raven Bush on violin, Natasha Zielazinski on cello, Jo Gibson on tuba and Kwake Bass on percussion and electronics), Tempest more than lives up to the hype that precedes her arrival in the states. Also part of The Public Theater ’s citywide Under the Radar festival (spotlighting new theater from the U.S. and

around the world): Performed in Spanish with English supertitles, “El Año en que Nací” (through Jan. 13, at La MaMa) features 11 Chileans born under Pinochet’s dictatorship, who don their parents’ clothes and reconstruct photos, letters and recordings. Playing at Japan Society through Jan. 12, “The Room Nobody Knows” (in Japanese with English supertitles) has Kuro Tanino’s Niwa Gekidan Penino theater company performing his tale of two brothers inhabiting a mysterious, dreamlike Tokyo apartment. “Helen & Edgar” (through Jan. 18, at the Public Theater) is written by, and stars, The Moth (storytelling slam) founder George Dawes Green. FESTIVALS, continued on p.12

January 9, 2014

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Choice cuts from four prime rib festivals FESTIVALS, continued from p. 11

Four decades after her game-changing victory over Bobby Riggs in 1973’s “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, “She is King” assesses the far-reaching impact of Billie Jean King on media, gender, sports culture, sexuality and celebrity. The staged reenactment of three interviews (conducted at the height of King’s athletic prowess and pop culture reach) also plays out, in real time, on nine extremely retro cathode ray tube television sets. Recreated by the cast are verbal volleys with CUNY-TV cable host James Day (1973), an appearance on Toni Tennille’s talk show (1980) and a 1981 sit-down with Barbara Walters (just before King was outed as a lesbian). King is portrayed by Laryssa Husiak, a member of the Obie Award-winning Two-Headed Calf and a founding member of its Dyke Division. A group of middle school students, who serve as the production’s run crew, underwent a workshop covering topics relevant to the play — including the history of women’s tennis and King’s efforts on behalf of equality and social justice. “She is King” is part of Incubator Arts’ annual Other Forces festival, running through Jan. 26. Created to showcase innovative independent theater artists, its other productions include “Take Me Home,” an interactive live performance (for three audience members only) that takes place inside a cab, as it navigates the city streets. “I am an Opera” is a collection of arias drawn from creator Joseph Keckler ’s accidental trip on hallucinogens. “#aspellforfaining” encourages audience members keep their smart phones on, then

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January 9, 2014

PHOTO BY CARL SKUTSCH

SHE IS KING

PHOTO BY KATHERINE BROOK

Helmed by longtime Moth artistic director Catherine Burns, it’s Green’s hilarious/heartbreaking tale of he and his sister ’s strange childhood in Savannah and their mother ’s struggle with madness. “Brand New Ancients” is part of The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival (now through Jan. 19). Performances take place Jan. 10-11 and 15-18 at 8pm, Jan. 12 at 5pm and Jan. 19 at 7pm. At St. Ann’s Warehouse (29 Jay St. in DUMBO, Brooklyn). For tickets ($20), call 866-811-4111 or visit stannswarehouse.org. Also visit katetempest.co.uk. Find a full schedule, and info on “5 for $75” festival ticket packs, at undertheradarfestival.com.

She battled sexism, and won: Light is shed on Billie Jean King’s personality, and persona, through the reenactment of three classic TV interviews. See “She is King,” in the Other Forces festival.

The opera-theatre work “Thumbprint” has its world premiere, as part of the PROTOTYPE festival.

use them to tweet photos and videos — as a solo performer, a sound artist and a video artist draw on everything from “Hamlet” to “American Idol” to investigate the chaos of creation. “She is King” is performed at 8pm on Jan. 10, at 5pm on Jan. 11, 18/19, 25/26 and at 7pm on Jan. 14/16 & 23/24. At the Incubator Arts Project (St. Mark’s Church-in-theBowery, 131 E. 10th St., corner of Second Ave.). For tickets ($18), call 866-811-4111 or visit incubatorarts.org.

fame. Based on classical world’s notion that different body fluids were linked to personality type (melancholic, sanguine, phlegmatic and choleric), the Sky-Pony troupe delivers unique sets on consecutive nights, each inspired by one of the Four Humors. Beats and live looping mix with opera, pop, jazz and soul — in “Elizaveta,” an evening of stylistic shifts meant to unite the 19th and 21st centuries, via musical means. “Thumbprint” is performed Jan. 10, 12, 14-18 at 7pm and Jan. 11 at 4pm. At Baruch Performing Arts Center (55 Lexington Ave.; enter on 25th St., btw. Lexington & Third Ave.). For tickets ($25, or $16.30 & $15, through PROTO pack festival pass), call 212-352-3101 or visit prototypefestival.org. For info on the PROTOTYPE cofounders, visit bethmorrisonprojects.org and here.org. PROTOTYPE productions also take place at HERE (145 Sixth Ave.), Brooklyn’s Roulette Theatre, Tribeca’s Trinity Church and The Public Theater/Joe’s Pub (both at 425 Lafayette St.).

THUMBPRINT

First presented at Galapagos Art Space in 2009 as a song-cycle, then further developed in 2011 at The Kitchen, “Thumbprint” has its world-premiere as one of seven productions in the second annual PROTOTYPE: Opera/ Theatre/Now festival (which presents fully realized chamber-sized pieces). Indo-American composer Kamala Sankaram (whose score features traditional Hindustani and Western classical music) sings the lead role of Mukhtar — the survivor of a 2002 gang rape committed as an act of retribution for her brother ’s alleged “honor crime.” Based on interviews with Mukhtar, the libretto by Susan Yankowitz explores how family ties and tribal traditions influenced Mukhtar ’s evolution from an illiterate, impoverished peasant to the human rights crusader (she was the first Pakistani woman to bring her attackers to justice) to founder/presi-

dent of her own school. Following the Jan. 11 performance, Peter McCabe will moderate a panel on International Human Rights — whose members include “Thumbprint” creators Sankaram and Yankowitz as well as Maitreyi Das (Lead Social Sector Specialist, World Bank), Mohammed Naqvi (director of the 2006 Mai documentary “Shame”) and Shantha Rau Barriga (Director of Disability Rights, Human Rights Watch). Mukhtar Bibi joins the conversation via Skype. Also featured in the PROTOTYPE festival (which is co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects and HERE): “Have a Good Day!” peers behind the chirpy, robotic greetings of shopping center cashiers to reveal their inner lives and personal dramas. “Paul’s Case” traces the defiant title character ’s escape from repressive turn-of-the-century Pittsburgh to glamorous (but not necessarily nurturing) NYC. Auditory hallucinations and paranoia deceive and derange, in “Visitations.” The first part of that double bill, “Theotokia,” has a man’s consciousness assailed by the mother of God. In part two, “The War Reporter,” Pulitzer Prize-winning combat journalist Paul Watson is haunted by the voice of an American soldier whose corpse he photographed in the streets of Mogadishu. Elsewhere in the festival, two fallen angels pining for earthly pleasures are rescued — then held captive — by a middle-class couple who see the winged creatures as their ticket to wealth and

EDISON’S ELEPHANT

Rub their face in too much wretched excess, and the people (plus an occasional elephant) will rebel — or at least become deeply resentful. That’s what prompted co-authors Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner to pen a novel whose title (“The Gilded Age”) was quickly co-opted as snarky slang for an FESTIVALS, continued on p.13

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Gilded Stage fest serves sweet justice FESTIVALS, continued from p. 12

PHOTO BY ANTHONY P. PENNINO

JT Wait as Thomas Edison, Rik Walter as Johansen and CJ Trentacosta as Albert, in “Edison’s Elephant” (part of the Gilded Stage Festival).

PHOTO BY ANTHONY P. PENNINO

America whose industrial czars, crooked politicians and newly minted leisure class enjoyed the fruits of cheap, plentiful, immigrant labor. Subtitled “A Tale of Today,” the 1873 satire of avarice could just as easily be an e-book with a 2014 copyright and a cover shot of Bill “Tale of Two Cities” de Blasio pledging a tax on the rich to feed the needs of the 99 percent. Although he didn’t program the Gilded Stage Festival with the new mayor in mind, it’s not lost on Metropolitan Playhouse artistic director Alex Roe — whose socially conscious, history-centric East Village theater is poised to further stoke the flames of its 20132014 theme: Justice in America. “This period,” says Roe of the eerily familiar Gilded Age, “is one of extreme wealth and success for some people — and, following immigration and the Civil War, a time of real struggle for others, before progressives made social changes.” Serving as the ninth entry in their ongoing Living Literature series, the festival showcases nine new works by emerging artists dedicated to exploring the lives and times of American writers and creators. No entry captures the era’s greed and cold calculation quite like “Edison’s Elephant.” A new play by David Koteles and Chris Van Strander, it centers on the ghastly, agonizing 1903 electrocution of a Luna Park pachyderm. When beloved Coney Island circus elephant Topsy responded to repeated abuse by killing his handler, famed inventor Thomas Edison, says Roe, “saw it as a chance to promote his reputation and knock other commercial purveyors of electricity” by executing the animal. Adding insult to injury (in the name of profit),

Jack London goes all Mary Shelley, in a scene from “A Thousand Deaths” — part of Metropolitan Playhouse’s Gilded Stage Festival.

Edison filmed the whole thing, and then released a short called “Electrocuting an Elephant.” Roe says the play’s “Rashomon”-like take on this dark, largely forgotten incident “captures the hubris of the age, and how it might go awry.” Two Edith Wharton works are also featured in the festival: Michèle LaRue will present a dramatic reading of “Roman Fever.” A staged reading of Linda Selman’s new adaptation of the Wharton novella “Bunner Sisters,” notes Roe, showcases plenty of “excess wealth and social splendor, but set against the real perils of poverty, in a time that seemed to define itself by social success and the accrual of riches.” The premiere of Peter Judd’s “Gilt on the Gold” finds an aged Frederick Law Olmstead looking back at his life, and relating the “particular accidents” that led to his design of Central Park. Recalling “Frankenstein” in its gothic tone, Anthony P. Pennino’s adaptation of the 1899 Jack London short story “A Thousand Deaths” concerns a man who — believing he’s found the cure for death — tests his theory (over and over) on a single human guinea pig. “It’s London responding in his own way to a disconcerting world of industrial discovery,” says Roe, alluding to what is perhaps the Gilded Age’s most damaging legacy — the arrogance that comes from using technology to hold sway over others. “Edison’s Elephant” plays Thurs., Jan. 16 at 7pm, Sun., Jan. 19 at 9pm, Fri., Jan. 24 at 9pm and Sat., Jan. 25 at 1pm. The Gilded Stage Festival plays daily, Jan. 1328, at the Metropolitan Playhouse (220 E. Fourth St., btw. Aves. A & B). For a full schedule of festival event, and to order tickets ($18, $15 for students/seniors, $10 for children 10 & under), call 800-838-3006 or visit metropolitanplayhouse.org.

Theater for the New City • 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net

UGLY IS A HARD PILL

Written by ANDREA J. FULTON Directed by LESLIE DOCKERY

Thursday - Sunday, January 9 - 12

Thu-Sat 8pm, Sun 3pm All Seats $18 Studt’s & Srs $15

PARKER & DIZZY’S FABULOUS JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE RAINBOW Book & Direction by PETER ZACHARI Music and Lyrics by DAMON MAIDA and PETER ZACHARI

Thursday-Sunday, January 9 - 26

Thu-Sat 8pm, Sun 3pm All Seats $15 Students & Seniors $12/tdf

ISLAND GIRLS

Written by BARBARA KAHN & NOELLE LUSANE Directed by BARBARA KAHN & ROBERT GONZALES, JR

Thursday - Sunday, January 9 - 26

Thu-Sat 8pm, Sun 3pm All Seats $12/tdf

TNC’s Programs are funded in part by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts

EastVillagerNews.com

January 9, 2014

13


Just Do Art BY SCOTT STIFFLER

THE CAROLE BAYER SAGER PROJECT: ALBUM ONE

January 9, 2014

After suffering the month-long indignity of being bumped from the schedule in favor of running those horrendous, holidaythemed movies, “The Golden Girls” are back on Hallmark Channel — but the real returnto-form news is playing out live, on a stage near you. Not-so-hot on the heels of sold-out runs in 2009 and 2010, “Thank You For Being A Friend” makes the great leap from its former East Village digs (at The Kraine Theater) to within walking (or walker?) distance of Broadway. Booked for a six-week run at W. 42nd St.’s Laurie Beechman Theater, this unauthorized musical parody suits up three original cast members in their best 80s fashions, for another go as thinly veiled versions of the iconic 60+ Miami roommates. Luke Jones is towering, brainy Dorothea, Chad Ryan is prolific vixen Blanchette and Nick Brennan (who wrote the book and also directs) is lovable airhead Roz. Joined by wisecracking elder Sophie, the four dead ringers must negotiate a plot as thin as the set’s twodimensional wicker furniture. Emboldened, perhaps, by his recently announced divorce, next door neighbor Ricky Martin is casting a pall over the Girls’ cheesecake-scarfing gabfests with his noisy outdoor sex parties. A musical variety solution presents itself, in the form of the upcoming Shady Oaks Retirement Home Talent Show. If the women win, the parties stop — and if the gays take the crown, the gals become the party’s cleanup crew. High culture it ain’t — but for lovers of the cult TV show who like a little good, clean, gayfriendly raunch, this one’s a Hump Day must. Wed., at 7pm, through Feb. 12. At The Laurie Beechman Theater (407 W. 42nd St., at Ninth Ave.). For tickets ($20, plus $15 food/drink minimum), call 212-3523101 or visit spincyclenyc.com.

Note-for-note perfection: Carole Bayer Sager’s 1977 album is recreated, in chronological order.

PHOTO BY MAX RUBY

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THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND: A GOLDEN GIRLS MUSICAL PARODY

ALBUM COVER DESIGN BY CLAUDE MOUGIN

Whether you don’t recognize the catchy name or have had her albums on rotation for decades, this chronological onstage performance of the “ten perfect pop songs” from Carole Bayer Sager’s 1977 debut album is poised to make the argument for her relavance and legacy while serving up a generous portion of nostalgia. Creator and director Thom Fogarty, who’s been active in the Downtown theater scene since 1977, calls the evening a “loving recreation of a particular time in the lives of those who came to NYC in the era of Studio 54 and punk music. The vibe of this album was a rite of passage into love, surviving love and love lost.” Crystal Rona Peterson stars as Carole, with Jenny Selig and Micah Bucey as The Carolettes. Michael Conley provides the musical direction. Old fans and new converts can take some comfort in a telling word within the evening’s title: “Project” implies that after this tribute to 1977’s self-titled debut, Fogarty and crew may return with gavelto-gavel coverage of 1978’s “Too” and 1981’s “Sometimes Late at Night.” And why stop there? Apart from her three solo efforts, Bayer Sager found great commercial success (along with pop song immortality) for her collaborative efforts — most notably, 1987’s Grammy Award-winning Song of the Year (“That’s What Friends Are For,” written with then-husband Burt Bacharach) and 1981’s Oscar-winning “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do),” written with Bacharach, Peter Allen and Christopher Cross. Free. Fri., Jan. 17 at 8pm. At Judson Memorial Church (55 Washington Square South, btw. Thompson & Sullivan Sts.). Then, Sat., Jan. 18 at 7pm — at The Duplex Cabaret and Piano Bar, 61 Christopher St., at Seventh

Ave.). $15 cover, two-drink minimum. For reservations: 212-255-5438 or theduplex.com.

Guys will be gals! The unauthorized “Golden Girls” musical parody pits four 60+ Miami roommates against noisy neighbor Ricky Martin.

EastVillagerNews.com


Here he is, Mr. Lower East Side Boozy annual pageant objectifies dudes, celebrates the weird BY REV. JEN (rev-jen.com)

Matthew Silver: Your Mr. Lower East Side, 2014 (center, flanked by Faceboy on the right).

PHOTO BY WALTER WLODARCZYK

EastVillagerNews.com

PHOTO BY WALTER WLODARCZYK

Fifteen years ago, I noticed a disturbing trend in the world of Downtown performance art: lots of female nudity and almost no male nudity. Boobs were flappin’ in the breeze on practically every stage below Houston Street, but there was nary a male pectoral to be found. For a lady to see a male striptease back then, you either had to go to a gay bar where the gents were unattainable or shell out your life savings at an “official” strip club in order to watch a mullet-haired, ‘roided up man shake his spray-tanned gluteus. I wracked my brain wondering how to make up for the clear dearth of entertainment involving the objectification of men. Eventually, I decided to remedy the situation by creating The Mr. Lower East Side Pageant. It would be similar to the Miss USA Pageant, if all the performers were hairy and liked Budweiser. Even better, any woman or gay man in attendance would get to vote on the winner. Straight men often complain about this, but I remind them that women in this country didn’t get the right to vote until 1920 — so I’m just making up for lost time. The pageant has three main categories: a one-minute talent competition, a swimsuit competition and evening wear combined with question and answer. To compete, contestants need not live on the Lower East Side — because honestly, who can afford it anymore? In fact, last year’s winner, Johnny Bizarre actually lives on the F Train. Competitors must simply possess qualities which would make them the proper representative of the LES (what those qualities are, I am not quite sure of). The chosen monarch gets a crown (complete with detachable bong), a slice of pizza from Rosario’s and the knowledge that he has been chosen by the people. Runner-up receives the dubious honor of “Mr. Tribeca” and gets to wear a smaller, vagina-shaped crown throughout the year. Other prizes are given for “Best Male Tits,” “Congeniality” and “Best Nutsack.” There is even a “Susan Lucci Award” for most consecutive losses. In my years as the pageant’s “Bob Barker,” I have seen many things. Moonshine Shorey, the pageant’s only triple-crown winner (who now has “Mr. Lower East Side” tattooed on his arm) once rescued a Barbie doll from a kiddie pool to the “Baywatch” theme song during swimwear. Two years ago, the crown went to Jason “J-

He left his shirt at home — but Raven Solano, who came equipped with a “Pageant Dad,” nabbed the title of “Mr. Tribeca.” In background: Rev. Jen and Faceboy.

Boy” Thompson — who, for evening wear, made his entrance to ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man” wearing nothing more than an extremely long beard and sunglasses. John Ennis won in 2002 via video from Los

Angeles. This he did by handing out informative brochures about the Lower East Side along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. “Maybe not so many stars on the sidewalk,” he quipped, “but lots of Art Stars

passed out on the sidewalk.” A few years ago, a rescued kitten named Pickles even entered the race. You will never hear me say, “I’ve seen it all” because just when I think I have, another Mr. LES Pageant rolls around and I see a grown man do something with a vegetable and an orifice that dumbfounds me. Also dumbfounding have been the changes I’ve witnessed in the neighborhood. The first several pageants were held at former Ludlow Street art hole, Collective Unconscious, which was razed in order to make room for luxury condominiums. For several years, it was then held at Bowery Poetry Club, which is now an upscale supper club. The pageant eventually moved back to Ludlow Street and found a home at music venue, Cake Shop. Despite all the changes, one thing has remained the same: Downtown is still full of eccentric artists. Anyone doubting this claim clearly wasn’t at this year’s pageant, which witnessed full throttle weirdness and an audience that, after a few beers, turned into the Roman Colosseum. A plethora of brave dudes took the stage as the crowd shouted a battle cry of “Show us your balls!” Former two-time winner, Mike Amato, who this year placed third, made onstage love to a blow-up doll and wore bloody pants as evening wear. Raven Solano, who came equipped with a “Pageant Dad,” nabbed “Mr. Tribeca” — despite answering the Q&A question, “Are you happy?” incorrectly (he answered “sure,” while the correct answer is always “no”). Despite this, he swung a mean pair of ass-tassels and sported tuxedo-themed lingerie while yet another contender named “La Bouchette” sported Octopus tentacles for arms. When all was said and done, ballots were collected and handed to filmmaker Kat Green, who sat at her computer (“The Ballsack 3,000”) and began to tally the votes. When the Ballsack abruptly began to malfunction, she was forced to hand count the votes, which only added to the anticipation. Finally, winners were announced. Johnny Bizarre, who last year drove a nail into his “member” while speaking highly of his mother (and therefore took the crown), did not place. It was a tight race — but it was performance artist Matthew Silver who careened onstage aboard a little child’s car whilst wearing a Speedo during swimwear (and who dressed as a “Number 2 Pencil” for evening wear) who took home the crown. In an official statement, he declared: “As the 15th Mr. LES, I will use my fart heart power to destroy the idea of the economy and have people welcome back their hearts. Because in a tough city everybody needs love and in reality, love is the only thing that’s real!” The Mr. Lower East Side Pageant: Keeping the Lower East Side Weird for Over 15 Years. January 9, 2014

15


N.Y.U. ruling came five days into de Blasio mayoralty N.Y.U. PLAN, continued from p. 10

of what the plaintiffs always knew. “The judge agreed with us that the property could not be alienated without action at the state level,” he said. “This is a clear vindication of our assertion that the city and the City Council did not act appropriately, and the N.Y.U. plan is not legal.” Regarding the alienation argument that Mills agreed with, Berman said, “This is the one that we were most confident we would win on, and really speaks to the heart of our assertion that the city acted completely inappropriately. “This is the decision, in many ways, we were hoping for,” he said. “It’s sad that it had to come to this, but it’s really important that the system of checks and balances is working in this case.” Berman noted that “now there is a new mayoral administration and a new City Council,” which bolsters the plaintiffs’ chances that the city might not appeal Mills’s decision. When Bill de Blasio was public advocate, his appointee to the City Planning Committee, in fact, notably voted against the N.Y.U. plan during ULURP, though, at the end of the day, de Blasio — an N.Y.U. alumnus — did support the megaproject.

CAAN DO — HARD WORK PAYS OFF Terri Cude, co-chairperson of Community Action Alliance on N.Y.U. 2031, or CAAN, noted that her group wasn’t a party to the lawsuit, since some member groups within her umbrella organization couldn’t sue N.Y.U. (For example, the tenants of 505 LaGuardia Place, a CAAN member, were negotiating a lease with N.Y.U. at the time the lawsuit was filed, and CAAN didn’t want to “break up” the coalition, Cude said.) Naturally, though, she was ecstatic at the news of Mills’s decision. “I am thrilled that the judge agreed in large part with what CAAN and Community Board 2 have said all along — that the open-space strips on the superblocks are parks,” Cude said. “We held so many community meetings, and the joint CAAN / C.B. 2 rally that featured speeches from all of our elected officials, all stating that obvious point.” C.B. 2 voted a unanimous “No” against N.Y.U. 2031. “I am, however, disappointed,” Cude added, “that the judge did not include the land in front of Coles Gym, currently home to the dog run, plus the water playground and reflecting garden that N.Y.U. was required to maintain but are sunken, unusable and locked by N.Y.U. That still leaves the possibility of the enormous, inappropriate, superblock-long Zipper Building.” David Gruber, Board 2 chairperson, said, “It is very gratifying that the court has agreed with the C.B. 2 resolution that the

16

January 9, 2014

park area surrounding the superblocks cannot be absorbed by N.Y.U. into their plan 2031 development scheme.

QUESTIONS COLES VERDICT “I do not understand, however, why the parkland in front of Coles Gymnasium was not included under the same legal reasoning of ‘park alienation,’ ” Gruber added. “That area would have been fully and actively used had N.Y.U. maintained it under their contractual agreement with the community, rather that fencing it off and padlocking it. In any event, I have to assume that this court action will trigger a new ULURP review.”

‘GO BACK TO SQUARE ONE’ Mark Crispin Miller, a leader of N.Y.U. Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, one of the main plaintiffs, lives on the northern superblock in Washington Square Village. His apartment overlooks the complex’s tranquil Sasaki Garden, which, under N.Y.U.’s plan, would have been bulldozed for two new infill buildings that would have been shoehorned into the block. Many faculty live in the airy complex, which was a driving force behind the creation of N.Y.U. FASP. “We’re delighted [at the ruling],” Miller said. “We think that the most appropriate thing for N.Y.U. to do would be to drop the whole thing and go back to square one with the faculty as partners in any future expansion.” (In fact, The New York Times reported that Randy Mastro, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, said that, based on the case’s outcome, the 2031 project should not be allowed to proceed piecemeal — and that, for example, all the environmental reviews for the whole project must be done again. But N.Y.U. says that was not Justice Mills’s order.)

RETURN FROM ‘LUXURY CITY’ Miller emphasized that N.Y.U. FASP members aren’t just concerned about the impact the 20 years of construction would have on them personally. “It’s time to move past Mayor Bloomberg’s ‘luxury city’ paradigm,” said Miller, a media studies professor. “We’re doing this out of a deep concern not only for ourselves but for the neighborhood. [N.Y.U. 2031] is too expensive. Our future students will not be able to afford it. The faculty will be driven away. There’s no good argument for it. The only good argument we heard for it is that: ‘Great institutions must grow.’ But that’s not an argument, that’s a mantra — and it’s false, dramatically false. Big universities mean more part-time faculty, more students per class. It’s already the most expensive university in the country.” Is the fact that Mills made her ruling just five days after de Blasio became mayor sig-

nificant? “We’ve asked ourselves that question — ‘Did the judge wait till now to make the decision?’ ” Miller said. “We’ll never know for sure. It is a clear sign of changing times. People will see it as an indication of tremendous change.” As for N.Y.U. FASP’s recent star-studded auction in support of the litigation, Miller said it netted $40,000. The suit is largely pro bono, but there are still some costs.

N.Y.U. STAYING POSITIVE Nevertheless, N.Y.U. put an optimistic spin on the case’s outcome. “This is a complex ruling, but the judgment is a very positive one for N.Y.U. — five of the six petitioners’ claims were dismissed, and most importantly, the judge’s ruling allows us to move forward with our first planned project — the facility to provide new academic space on the site of our current gym,” said spokesperson John Beckman, referring to the Zipper Building. That building would contain about half the total space of the 2-million-square-foot project as proposed by N.Y.U. (However, Miller observed that there was actually relatively little academic space slated for the Zipper Building. In previous iterations of the plan, at least, it was to include a gym, ground-level retail spaces, a student dorm and faculty offices.) Beckman pointedly added, “The petitioners and their lawyers are wrong and overreaching in the claims they are now making that this ruling would stop us from building on the gym site, or that the proposals must be resubmitted to the City Council through another ULURP. The court did not vacate the City Council’s ULURP approval, and specifically rejected the petitioners’ claim that the street adjoining the gym site is a park. “Our decisions about that facility will be guided by the faculty-led University Space Priorities Working Group, which in its draft report affirmed the need for additional academic space.  Its final report is expected in the coming weeks,” Beckman added. “The decision reaffirms the ULURP approval by the City Council,” he continued. “Once we have a chance to thoroughly review the decision with our planning team and determine the precise impact of the ruling on our ability to implement other elements of the plan, we will work with the city, as lead respondent, to determine our next legal steps.” N.Y.U. was not technically sued by the plaintiffs in the “Article 78” lawsuit but joined the city and state as a so-called “necessary party” in their defense of the project. Asked if the city would appeal Mills’s decision, senior counsel Chris Reo, of the city Law Department’s Environmental Law Division — speaking for both the de Blasio administration and the Law Department — responded, “We just received — and are reviewing — the decision.” G.V.S.H.P.’s Berman gave tremendous

credit to the law firm of Gibson Dunn, whose attorneys Mastro and Jim Walden won the historic case.

‘SEXTON PLAN IS DEAD’ Walden told The Villager, “We are thrilled with Justice Mills’s decision to protect three of our parks against development, as the law requires. With the Sexton plan now dead, we look forward to a more meaningful public review, which will certainly — with a new, progressive, community-minded mayor — result in a more inclusive public process.” Asked if the plaintiffs would challenge the decision allowing N.Y.U. to develop on the Mercer-Houston Dog Run open-space strip, Walden said, “We are looking into it, but I can’t say yet.”

CHIN LED PUSH IN COUNCIL The N.Y.U. 2031 site is in Councilmember Margaret Chin’s district, and she approved the plan. Other councilmembers — such as, notably, Rosie Mendez — said they voted for the scheme out of deference to Chin, since she was “the lead” on it, in that the project was in her district. Mendez, as she cast her vote, acknowledged that many of her constituents opposed the N.Y.U. plan, but that she was doing this for Chin, who she fondly called her “sister.” Former Council Speaker Quinn herself even tried to put the onus on Chin — telling The Villager near the end of her unsuccessful mayoral primary bid that the local councilmember ultimately is the one responsible for the vote. On Wednesday, The Villager asked Chin’s office for comment on Mills’s decision. “Preserving green space is one of my utmost priorities,” Chin responded in an e-mailed statement. “I am glad that Tuesday’s decision creates the opportunity for the LaGuardia Corner Garden and Time Landscape to enjoy the same protections as other parks in our community. Throughout the N.Y.U. 2031 negotiations, I worked to ensure that any construction is respectful of the residents that call this neighborhood home — and minimizing impacts on community green space was and continues to be an essential part of that goal.” (The Time Landscape is the long, fencedin plot south of the LaGuardia Corner Gardens, and is intended to represent Manhattan’s pre-Colonial foliage in its natural state. However, N.Y.U. has never expressed any interest in using the Time Landscape for its development plans.) The Villager, in turn, asked Chin if she is equally glad that the open-space strips on the north superblock will now — as a result of Mills’s ruling — enjoy park protections. Again, N.Y.U. would like to use these strips to help construct its 2031 project, but now cannot based on Mills’s decision. Chin did not respond by press time.

EastVillagerNews.com


Al Goldstein, 77, porn pioneer, free-speech advocate OBITUARIES BY ALBERT AMATEAU

A

l Goldstein, who pioneered the commercialization of pornography with Screw magazine, which he co-founded in 1968, died Dec. 19 in a Brooklyn nursing home where he spent the last several months of his life. Goldstein was 77. By the time Screw folded in 2003, pornography was a $10 billion mainstream industry, but Goldstein was virtually homeless and the fortune he had made was gone. Along the way, he was arrested for obscenity, lost and won First Amendment cases and more recently was convicted of harassing one of his ex-wives. Goldstein had started several other magazines, but all failed. Some of the titles included Death, Smut, Cigar and Mobster Times, according to a Page One obituary in The New York Times by Andy Newman. Goldstein also ran “Midnight Blue,” a cable TV show, but it too folded. In September 2004, considerably slimmed down from his top weight of 350 pounds after some hard times, Goldstein began what he hoped would be the beginning of a new career when he landed a job as the host of the 2nd Ave. Deli, at its former longtime location on E. 10th St. In an article at the time by Mary Reinholz in The Villager, he commented on his new job, saying, “I love it because I’ve always preferred food to sex. It doesn’t tell me I’m not big enough. It doesn’t take my house and it doesn’t take a testicle. So for

Al Goldstein.

me, as I walk by windows of food, it’s better than being in a topless bar.” Jack Lebewohl, owner of the restaurant since the unsolved 1966 murder of his older brother Abe, who had been an old pal of Goldstein’s from Brooklyn, told Reinholz how he came to give Al the job. Goldstein was living in a Manhattan homeless shelter after losing his palatial home in Florida, and was accompanied by a film crew recording his misadventures, when they walked into the deli near E. 10th St. Goldstein asked Lebewohl for a job. “I cried and said my life was over and Jack said, ‘What would my brother do?’ And he hired me on the spot,” Goldstein told Reinholz. “Ninety-five percent of your friends abandon you. Jack is one of the 3 percent of the people who stayed with me,” Goldstein said.

A victory for parks, and for the community EDITORIAL, continued from p. 6

area atop Coles Gym was earmarked for the community, but this (conveniently, perhaps) soon became inaccessible. It remains to be seen whether the plaintiffs will challenge the “not a park” ruling on this southern Mercer St. strip. And it remains to be seen whether the city — with a new mayoral administration and a new City Council leadership — will actually appeal Mills’s ruling. In her ruling, Mills indicates her belief that the “Zipper Building,” which would partly extend onto the southern Mercer St. strip, can be built. The community plaintiffs’ attorneys dispute this, saying the entire plan must be sent back to the drawing board and cannot now be implemented partially, in segments. But it will truly be hard for anyone to overturn Mills’s ruling on the three strips

EastVillagerNews.com

that she declared parks. Her reasoning is rock solid. N.Y.U. also is not even sure what exactly it would put in the “Zipper Building” — which we’re told is no longer being called that anymore. The entire justification for N.Y.U. 2031 was to increase the university’s classroom space to catch up with the school’s student population boom in the last decade-plus. If the building formerly known as “The Zipper” is not to be used for classrooms, then N.Y.U. must justify that. In that sense, the project indeed should go back to the drawing board. N.Y.U. says it will work with its faculty on what would go in the building. For now, at least, the community can celebrate a tremendous victory — a victory for livability, for open space and for the protection of our treasured parks.

Lebewohl told Reinholz that he first met Goldstein in the 1970s when his brother Abe catered a gigantic party at Plato’s Retreat, a swingers club on the Upper West Side where patrons were encouraged to get stark naked. The affair was Goldstein’s celebration of an acquittal on an obscenity charge. In 2002 Goldstein was convicted in Brooklyn Criminal Court of harassing a former secretary with telephone threats. The conviction was later overturned. But Goldstein later pleaded guilty to harassing his fourth wife by publishing her phone number in Screw and urging readers to call her, alleging that she turned his son, a Harvard Law School graduate, against him. Goldstein by that time had married for the fifth time and was living in Queens, but a few years later the couple became estranged. Lebewohl told Reinholz that Goldstein was “an excellent host” with a future in food service and catering. But in November 2004, the honeymoon was over. Goldstein lost his job at 2nd Ave. Deli over a difference of opinion. Nevertheless, Lebewohl said, “We parted friends.” Alvin Goldstein was born Jan. 10, 1936, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to Sam and Gertrude Goldstein. His father was a newspaper photographer. Al served in the Army, went to Pace College where he headed the debate team, and for a while was a photographer like his father. According to the Times obituary, Al Goldstein photographed Jacqueline Kennedy on a 1962 state visit to Pakistan and took unauthorized photos of Raul Castro, for which he spent several days in a Cuban jail. In his 2006 autobiography, “I, Goldstein, My Screwed Life,” he blamed a meek father and an adulterous mother for his

psychological complexes, according to the Times obituary. Before he found pornography, his pursuits included running a dime-pitch game at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, selling carpets and driving a cab, according to a book by Gay Talese quoted in Newman’s Times obituary. At one time, Goldstein got a job spying on a labor union that he had infiltrated. The experience outraged him and inspired him to write an exposé for the New York Free Press. He became friends with Jim Buckley, one of the Press’s editors and persuaded him to join him in a magazine covering the underground sex scene. The first issue of the new Screw in November 1968 was 12 pages of reviews of blue movies and porno bookstores, nude photos and Goldstein’s personal tests of an artificial vagina. Goldstein claimed the circulation hit 100,000 but it was never audited. He visited the city’s so-called “massage parlors” and reported on their services in the early 1970s. A 1973 issue with what purported to be a frontally nude photo of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis sold a reported 500,000 copies. Over the decades, Goldstein was the target of obscenity charges. His defense lawyers argued that Screw’s relentless articles against censorship made the magazine sufficiently political to be protected by the First Amendment. One suit was overturned and another ended in a hung jury. However, as pornography became more mainstream following Screw’s lead, the magazine’s dominance in sex advertising declined. In Reinholz’s 2004 article in The Villager, Goldstein said Screw folded “…because the Internet will give you all the porn you want.”

Worker falls, and work stalled at God’s Love We Deliver site BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

O

n Thurs., Dec. 26, a Fire Department Emergency Medical Service ambulance responded to 166 Avenue of the Americas, at Spring St., the God’s Love We Deliver headquarters building, after it was reported that a person had fallen at the scene, where the G.L.W.D. building is being expanded vertically. A Fire Department spokesperson said that one person was transported to Bellevue Hospital. Harry Pincus, a neighbor who lives across the street, reported on Dec. 26, “At about 1 p.m. this afternoon, there was an

accident at the God’s Love We Deliver site, and a worker was removed on a stretcher. I don’t know if there is a stopwork order, but there ought to be. The Spring St. subway entrance is completely exposed to heavy demolition work on the roof of God’s Love We Deliver, which includes jackhammering of brick walls.” In fact — in response to a complaint received on Dec. 27 — a partial stop-work order for the address is listed on the Department of Buildings Web site, with the description: “SECTION OF S/W SHED IS MISSING RIGHT ABOVE SUBWAY ENTRANCE. WORK DOES NOT CONFORM TO APPROVED PLANS.”

SOUND OFF!

Write a letter to the editor news@thevillager.com January 9, 2014

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July 18 - 24, 2013

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EastVillagerNews.com


PHOTOS BY SAM SPOKONY

Ramping up the fun Last Friday, the day after Hercules dumped 6 inches of snow on Manhattan, kids both little and big, had a ball in a Washington Square Park winter wonderland. Some of them built a “hill” to sled down on the side of the fountain, while others made snow angels. The park used to have three small play “mounds,” which were Downtown’s only hills. However, their replacements, in the park’s Phase III renovation project, which is slated to open sometime soon, will be depressed below ground level.

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January 9, 2014

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January 9, 2014

EastVillagerNews.com

JANUARY 9, 2014, EAST VILLAGER NEWS  

JANUARY 9, 2014, EAST VILLAGER NEWS

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