The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
January 15, 2015 • $1.00 Volume 84 • Number 33
Praise and excitement versus fear and loathing at Pier55 public hearing BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
PIER55, continued on p. 6
PHOTO BY ZACH WILLIAMS
epending on who was testifying Monday evening, Pier55 — the planned $130 million “arts island” off of W. 13th St. — will either be a dazzling new outdoor entertainment venue and park or a colossal disaster waiting to happen, à la the Hudson River Park equivalent of “The Poseidon Adventure.” As required for a “significant action” affecting the park, the public hearing was held to gather input on the proposed lease for Pier55, under which a nonprofit, Pier55, Inc. (or P55), headed by Barry Diller, would operate the pier for 20 years, with an option to extend the lease for another 10. Media tycoon Diller and his wife, the fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg, have committed to contribute $113 to build the new 2.7-acre pier, which would sit out in the river, north of the current Pier 54, connected to the rest of the park by
two walkways. The city has pledged to kick in $17 million for the project. Pier 54’s remaining deck would be removed, though its pile field would be left. A crowd of about 150 listened as, at the hearing’s start, the project was presented and described by Madelyn Wils, president of the Hudson River Park Trust; landscape architect Signe Nielsen, who teamed on the new pier’s design with Heatherwick Studio; and Kate Horton and George C. Wolfe, who will be part of the high-powered team programming the pier’s entertainment. Horton, former executive director of the National Theatre of Great Britain, noted, “It’s a park first — and we’re very mindful of that.” She said that, per Pier 55, Inc.’s mission statement, the performers would be a mix of emerging and established acts. The majority of entertainment, she said, would
One of the 500 people who rallied on Saturday in Washington Square for free speech and against religious-extremist violence.
After France’s 9/11: Drawing a line against fanatic violence BY ZAC H WILLIAM S
helsea resident Lawrence Walmsley began his morning on Wed., Jan. 7, perusing the news on his iPad when he came across what initially appeared to be an old story: There was a shooting in Paris. In another part of the West Side neighborhood, Ingrid Jean-Baptiste received a phone call informing her that two masked gunmen had just stormed the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Like people across New York City, they were shocked by the coordinated nature of the attack that left 12 people dead that day, they said. As attacks continued in the subsequent days, the underlying motivations behind the carnage emerged as the world learned that the alleged attackers were two French Muslims inspired by religious zealotry. In the pages of Charlie Hebdo, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi did not see humor in cartoon lampoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
They saw a target. Visual representations of the prophet are forbidden in Islam, but cartoonists Charlie Hebdo did not care. Staff at the magazine have long delighted in printing caricatures of the powerful and the prickly. A predecessor publication was banned by French authorities in 1970 for making fun of the death of Charles de Gaulle. A 2011 bomb outside the magazine’s office followed the publication of an issue CHARLIE, continued on p. 24
300, the Battle Against Charters....................page 4 When cops and protesters clashed...............page 10 Hunk’a, hunk’a burnin’ Elvis map.................page 13 Glick’s N.F.L. playoff picks..........page 27
Democrats club, and Civil Court Judge Adam Silvera. The swearing-in was followed by a reception at a Chinese restaurant on Mott St.
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January 15, 2015
Kathryn Freed at her swearing-in as a Supreme Court justice.
MOVIN’ ON UP: With many of her Downtown friends and allies on hand, Kathryn Freed was recently sworn in as a New York State Supreme Court justice. A former city councilmember for Lower Manhattan’s District 1, Freed was term-limited out of the Council, and in 2004 was elected a Civil Court judge. Last year, she was elected to State Supreme Court, which means she has a steady gig on the bench till 2023, if she wants it. Speakers at the ceremony included state Senator Brad Hoylman, Borough President Gale Brewer, Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin and — surprisingly to some — Assemblymember Deborah Glick. Glick ran against Freed and Tony Hoffmann for Assembly in 1991 in a tough race, with Glick winning. Whatever went down during the race, there were some hard feelings afterward, and the two women didn’t communicate for years. Glick admitted as much in her remarks, saying that 20 years ago, the two wouldn’t have spoken. But she acknowledged that Freed was a trailblazer and inspiration during her time in the City Council. Also at the ceremony were Jim Stratton, founder of the Downtown Independent
HORSES GOTTA HAVE PARK: Animal rights advocates want to know if Councilmember Corey Johnson is with them or against them on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed carriage-horse ban. Johnson previously told us he supported getting the horses off the city’s streets and putting them in Central Park. On Wednesday, a Johnson aide reiterated that position to us. Basically, the aide said, Johnson feels the horses should be stabled in Central Park, where they would be “cared for humanely.” The equines wouldn’t ever exit the park and go on the city’s streets, but would only work in the park. Johnson is a leading animal-rights advocate, his staffer added, noting that his boss has introduced four pro-pet pieces of legislation, including one to regulate irresponsible “puppy mill” breeders and another that would require background checks on pet purchasers. Johnson’s rep said a decision on the legislation won’t happen overnight, but rather “there will be a long period of discussion.” Told of Johnson’s position, Allie Feldman, a leading anti-horse carriage activist, said, “We appreciate that the councilmember recognizes the inhumanity and danger of forcing horses to pull flimsy wooden carts in the middle of chaotic Midtown traffic.” That said, Feldman fears that Johnson’s proposal is untenable. “There’s 200 carriage horses,” she explained. “To make it work, you’d have to have 16-foot-by-16-foot stalls for 200 horses, plus a pasture, which would take away a piece of the park the size of the softball fields or the Great Lawn. It’s just not a workable solution. What would you do — pave over the Jackie Onassis Reservoir? We told this to him, Councilmember Johnson is aware of this,” she added, saying she’s not sure why he continues to spout this line. “It’s not possible to put 200 carriage horses in the park. There are 68 carriages and each needs two to three horses working in two to three shifts per day. Even if you had just one shift, that’s 70 horses. You need at least one acre per horse. The whole park is 800 acres. So you’re talking about one-quarter of the park and turning it into basically a tourist trap.” Feldman is the director of NYCLASS (New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets). As for why Johnson’s rep said there will be a lengthy discussion about the legislation, Feldman explained that whenever the city plans to shut down an industry, under the New York City Charter, a six-month environmental impact study is required to investigate what the effects would be. A MAJOR TEACHABLE MOMENT: Renowned education pioneer Diane Ravitch, the former U.S. assistant secretary of education, will headline a parent-led “working strategy session” on testing at P.S. 3, at 490 Hudson St., on Wed., Jan. 21, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Titled “Join the Movement Against a Test-Obsessed System: How Can We Put the Focus Back on Learning in Our Schools?” the forum will call on public school parents and educators from around New York City to come together to formulate concrete alternatives and strategies. As Nick Gottlieb, Sara Carder and Shannon Agin, the P.S. 3 Parent Action Committee co-chairpersons, put it, the goal is to get to where “teachers have the time they need to teach, children the time they need to learn, and tests are used as truly valuable indicators of a child’s and a school’s progress. For more information, visit: ps3nyc.org/pac TheVillager.com
Figli di San Gennaro board members with students from the East Village’s La Salle Academy at the Jan. 6 presentation of charitable checks from proceeds from the Feast of Gennaro.
Figli di San Gennaro donates to Catholic schools, charities
n Tues., Jan. 6, Figli di San Gennaro (Children of San Gennaro), the nonprofit community organization that has been presenting New York City’s annual Feast of San Gennaro since 1996, donated a total of $149,500, representing net proceeds after expenses, from the 2013 and 2014 feasts to Catholic education, churches and other community organizations assisting children and seniors. The checks were presented at a reception at Most Precious Blood Church, at 113 Baxter St. in Little Italy, the national shrine of San Gennaro. Figli di San Gennaro donated $72,500 from the 2013 feast and $77,000 from the 2014 feast, bringing the total of donations to charity since 1996 to more than $2 million. Among local schools receiving checks were LaSalle Academy, Transfiguration School, Our Lady of Pom-
peii School and Xavier High School. Other organizations receiving checks included The Bowery Mission, Project Open Door, Mott St. Senior Citizen Center, Little Italy Street Art Order (LISA) and Sons of Italy Committee. The City Hall monitor who has overseen all the financial transactions of Figli di San Gennaro since 1996 approved all the checks and cosigned them. Next September, the annual feast, celebrating the patron saint of Naples, will be celebrating its 89th year. In announcing the charitable contributions, Joseph Mattone, president of the Figli di San Gennaro board of directors, said, “Presenting an event of this magnitude over a period of 11 days in New York City, can be very expensive, but I am happy to say we have been able to keep our pledge to support these organizations and we will continue to do so.”
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Councilmember Rosie Mendez, at podium with microphone, forged ahead with the hearing, even though the Department of Education had tried to cancel it at the last minute.
Mendez defies D.O.E., holds charter hearing
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January 15, 2015
he Department of Education tried to call off the hearing at the 11th hour, but that didn’t stop 300 people from turning out at P.S. 20 last Thursday night to voice their opposition to a proposed new Success Academy charter school co-location in School District 1. Councilmember Rosie Mendez forged ahead with the hearing, which D.O.E. had canceled with less than 24 hours notice. Success Academy is deferring opening a new charter elementary school in the East Side district until 2016, but apparently still plans to move ahead with the school. Whether the plan is that the charter would be co-located with one or more existing district schools in a school building, or would be sited in another location was not immediately clear. What is known is that no location for the proposed charter has been publicly identified yet. Joining Mendez at last Thursday’s hearing were Assemblymember Deborah Glick, as well as Lisa Donlan, president of Community Education Council District 1, and scores of parents and community members who came to share their frustration over the cancellation of the long-awaited hearing to discuss the charter school’s request to open in School District 1. In fact, last October, the SUNY Charter School Institute board of trustees had voted to approve a charter school for School District 2. Without notifica-
tion to the community or local politicians, Success Academy send a letter to the SUNY charter board requesting a change of location from School District 1 to Districts 2 or 6. Last Thursday’s hearing had been scheduled after Mendez and Councilmember Margaret Chin protested that a hearing for that change should be required, even though the bureaucrats dubbed it a “nonmaterial change.” D.O.E. cancelled last Thursday’s hearing, saying, “In light of the fact that D.O.E. is not planning to site a school in District 1, tomorrow’s hearing has been cancelled.” Yet, to date, Success Academy has not rescinded its request to change its application to School District 1. Plus, last week, a Success Academy spokesperson told The Villager that the new school’s opening is simply being “deferred” until next year. “It is very frustrating that the Department of Education would cancel a meeting with less than 24 hours’ notice to the community and elected officials,” said Mendez. “D.O.E. states that Success Academy Charter School gave notice that they will not open a site in School District 1. However, Success Academy hasn’t withdrawn its application nor provided said notice in writing. The parents of School District 1 deserve an opportunity to be heard, and D.O.E. has taken that opportunity away from them.” Glick said, “I find it incredibly concerning that this proposed public hearing on Success Academy has been can-
celled with less than 24 hours’ notice, especially in light of the fact that Success Academy has not made any formal commitment to remain out of District 1 in the future. Success Academy and D.O.E. need to publicly state their intentions for the record.” Donlan said it’s time to put a hold on new charters. “The lack of transparency, clarity and community input for this charter school proposal,” she declared, “calls into question the entire chartering process at the very moment when the state Legislature is discussing raising the charter cap in New York City and New York State. There can not be any more charters issued or co-locations considered until the chartering and siting process have been clarified and we can put the public back in public education.” Orna Silver, a School District 1 teacher and parent, said the charter operators are wrong if they think they can pull a fast one on District 1, which encompasses the East Village and most of the Lower East Side. “‘They’ think that the parents of District 1 won’t fight back,” Silver said. “ ‘They’ think that because many of us speak Spanish or Chinese that we are an easy target. ‘They’ think that we don’t have great schools and great choices. ‘They’ think that it will be easy to sneak in a Success Academy and we will run to send our children there. Let me tell you, ‘they’ are wrong. We have voices, we have rights and we will protect our children and our schools.” TheVillager.com
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Praise, excitement vs. fear, loathing at hearing PIER55, continued from p. 1
January 15, 2015
PHOTO BY THE VILLAGER
happen in the pier’s 700-seat amphitheater, which is “based on a Shakespearean house,” and which would not have electric amplification. The “Southern space,” at the pier’s south side, would be able to accommodate up to 200 people sitting on the surrounding lawns. Meanwhile, the central hardscape plaza would be able to seat up to 1,000 people for a show. Fifty-one percent of the events would be free or low cost, per the Pier55, Inc. lease agreement with the Trust. Wolfe, who had a residence at the Public Theater under the late Joseph Papp, said, “I consider myself a child of Joseph Papp.” He said he’d like to see students from local schools be ushers at Pier55 or even background actors for plays there — “as faeries in ‘Midsummer’s Night.’ ” He said he envisions different programming each year. “The first season could conceivably be the waterfront — of immigration, of Melville, of the drag queens along the pier,” he said. The floor was then opened up to testimony, first from elected officials, then from the rest of the public. Manhattan Borough President said her main concern was “assuring maximum public access to the pier and events.” Horton had assured that when the amphitheater, for example, would be in use, the rest of the pier would remain open to the public. Brewer also was concerned about disabled persons’ access to all parts of the pier. For example, the pier’s 71-foot-tall southeast corner would not be handicapped accessible, she noted. “It is very important to allow people with disabilities to access the same views that are available to others,” she noted. However, she said she was glad that a viewing platform at that corner of the pier now will be provided so that disabled persons can enjoy the same vistas. Brewer also worried the amount of programming on the pier. Under the lease, the pier would be allowed to have permitted events (events for which permits are required) six days per week. “From the Fourth of July to Labor Day, I ask that the days without permitted events be greatly increased,” she said. She also criticized the price range for ticketed “low cost” events — $5 to $40. “I am concerned that the higher end of the range — $20 to $40 —
Kate Horton described Pier55’s planned programming at the public hearing on the proposed Hudson River Park project.
would render large segments of this pier off limits to many New Yorkers,” she said. In his testimony, state Senator Brad Hoylman said that, currently, the process for “significant actions” affecting the park pales in comparison to the city’s seven-month-long ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) because local politicians don’t have a binding vote on it. “As a result,” he said, “I am considering a way to legislatively mandate a more inclusive process.” Similarly, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, in a statement, said, “Pier55 remains public space, and I’m troubled by the lack of public input on the pier’s radical reconstruction, which is actually a new development.” Glick also was worried about an “actors’ barge,” which, under the plans, would be moored off the pier, and the impact of this barge on the aquatic habitat beneath it. She expressed gratitude at the “very generous gift” of Diller and DvF and said the team led by Horton and Wolfe is clearly “incredible capable and thoughtful.” “Nevertheless,” she said, “the community should have a voice in its own public spaces.” Scott Lawin, vice chairperson of Friends of Hudson River Park, said Pier55 will be “a spectacular piece of design and architecture that will be enjoyed by everybody.” But Bunny Gabel blasted “Diller Island” as a disaster waiting to happen. Saying she was appealing to the Trust’s “common sense and humanity,” she pleaded, “Do not sign the
lease for the Diller Island. Building this ugly thing will cost a lot. It will reduce the property value of inland buildings whose views will be blocked. There’s no need for building in water — build on land.” The waterfront needs to be preserved, she stressed. “What will end up on Gansevoort Peninsula, just south of Dillerville?” she asked. “Oops! Where did the Hudson River go?” However, Adrian Benepe, the city’s former Parks Department commissioner, who used to sit on the Trust’s board of directors, was bullish on Pier55. “I think this is a spectacular thing for New York City and the neighborhood,” he said. Benepe noted the city’s tradition of philanthropy in building the 42nd St. Public Library building and the former Astor Library (the current Public Theater), among other magnificent edifices. “The city and state have put $400 million into this park already,” he pointed out, by way of saying that the park sorely needs this private sector help. The south side of the new heavily landscaped pier would be elevated and tilted upward to allow sunlight to penetrate to the water below, avoiding detrimental shading on the aquatic wildlife below. “I think, over all, for people, for plants, for music and for the fish, this is a perfect plan,” Benepe said. Philip Musegaas, Hudson River program director or Riverkeeper, said building the new Pier55 in a spot north of the current Pier 54’s footprint
is a serious environmental issue. “It’s a 2.7-acre pier being built in a new location,” he said. “That concerns us as stewards and guardians of the river. “And we’re concerned about the 4,000-square-foot barge. We’re not clear how often it will be there.” He said that a full environmental impact study must be done for the project. A less-extensive environmental study has been done. Will Rogers, from W. 16th St., said after giving it much thought, he came down against the idea. “I basically oppose this,” he said. “Why this location? This area is already impacted by the Meatpacking District, Chelsea Piers, the Village, which has a unique cultural history.” Joshua David, co-founder of Friends of the High Line, said his organization strongly supports Pier55. “Creating a pedestrian loop on the pier, instead of a dead end is a good idea” and will hook the pier into the park and High Line foot traffic, he said. He added that Diller and von Furstenberg were major supporters of the Gansevoort Historic District and the High Line. Others speaking for Pier 55 included Susanna Aaron, a board member of Friends of Hudson River Park. “The promise it holds for improving our cultural life is exceptional,” she said. The new pier would be built above the flood plain, which is part of the reason why it would be set out in the river and accessed by gently sloping ramps. Still, some environmentalists said there shouldn’t be any more building in the water. Andrew Lawrence, a member of the local Sierra Club chapter, referred to Westway, the highway-and-landfill mega-project that was defeated and replaced by Hudson River Park. As part of Westway, new development would have been added on top of the new landfill — and had it been built, it would have been devastated by Superstorm Sandy, he said. “If Westway happened, we’d be looking at four miles of catacombs,” he said. He said the Sierra Club would be “filing papers” before the deadline to submit written testimony. Marcy Benstock of the Clean Air Campaign, who helped defeat Westway, said Pier55 would be a burden for taxpayers and put first responders at peril because concertgoers would need to be rescued from it during superstorms. The “significant action” period started Nov. 17. Public comments will be accepted until midnight Jan. 23. On Feb. 11, the Trust’s board of directors will vote at a public meeting on whether to approve the Pier55 lease. TheVillager.com
Feeling quite chipper; Mulch ado about old trees
PHOTO BY DANIEL AVILA / NYC PARKS
Navigating the Affordable Care Act: Information Session on Signing Up for Health Coverage
New Yorkers celebrated the 19th annual MulchFest last weekend by recycling their Christmas trees at more than 80 locations citywide. The chipped trees become compost that will nourish parks, gardens and woodsy public areas around the city. At left, Mitchell Silver, the Parks Department’s commissioner, showed how it’s done as he mulched the program’s first trees this year on Thurs., Jan. 8, in Tompkins Square Park. Participants were invited to take a free bag of mulch home. In all, more than 30,000 trees were recycled. In a statement, Mayor de Blaiso said, “This city is committed to being the greenest big city in the world, and events like MulchFest are an important step toward achieving this critical goal.”
There has been a lot of talk in the news about what the Affordable Care Act means for people without health insurance. With the enrollment deadline coming soon, many are wondering what the benefits are, who should sign up, and how to sign up. The NYU Office of Government and Community Affairs, together with the NY State of Health, will host an info session aimed at answering some of those questions. Following the presentation, English and Mandarin speaking navigators from NY State of Health will be available to schedule free one-on-one appointments for stepby-step enrollment assistance with anyone
TUESDAY, JANUARY 20, 6:00-8:00 PM
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TO L E A R N M O R E A B O U T the Affordable Care Act in New York State, please visit nystateofhealth.ny.gov.
January 15, 2015
The ghosts of Christmas past The cityâ€™s streets were festooned with the forlorn figures of discarded Christmas trees and wreaths last week. If only they had been brought to MulchFest sites.
PHOTOS BY MILO HESS
January 15, 2015
POLICE BLOTTER Caught with O.P.P. Police say they caught a transit recidivist guilty of more than mere fare jumping. At about 10:50 p.m. on Jan. 9, police said, they observed Richard Caldwell, 49, entering the L train station at Eighth Ave. and W. 14th St. through an emergency exit. After detaining him, they searched him and found a debit card, reported missing on Jan. 3, and two bottles of prescription drugs, all in other people’s names. He was charged with felony criminal possession of stolen property.
Up in smoke A 23-year-old woman did not get a break from police after she reportedly broke two glass hookahs at Luxor Lounge, at 118 Macdougal St. The incident occurred at about 3:20 a.m. on Sat., Jan 10, according to a police report, which did not state the reason behind the incident. Responding officers searched Diahndree Crawley and found she had a marijuana joint in her pocket, as well as an active warrant. Crawley was charged with misdemeanor criminal mischief.
The Jane glass slash At about 3:30 a.m. on Sat., Jan. 10, police arrested a woman, 22, for throwing a glass into the face of a woman, 29, in a bar inside The Jane hotel, at 113 Jane St. The victim was transported to Lennox Hill Hospital to receive stitches for cuts by her mouth. Sadie Drucker, 22, was charged with felony assault.
Alleged “Bridge suspect No. 1,” in foreground. TheVillager.com
Bridge attack suspect
Police are still seeking the public’s assistance in identifying male “Suspect No. 1” wanted for an assault of two New York Police Department lieutenants, which occurred on the evening of Sat., Dec. 13, after the Millions March NYC, on the Brooklyn Bridge in the confines of the Fifth Precinct. Several other individuals who allegedly participated in the assault have either been arrested or turned themselves in. There is a $25,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the suspect.
Salmagundi spirits A thief with tastes for the finer things to drink took on the Salmagundi Club, at 47 Fifth Ave. The man entered the place at about 8:54 a.m. on Sun., Jan. 11, and went straight for the basement, police said. An employee of the club then observed via a security camera the man going through the pantry before fleeing on foot with several items. The employee followed the man while remaining on the phone with 911 dispatchers. When police arrived, they apprehended Joel McCray, 49, who was reportedly in possession of burglar’s tools. In his bag were bottles of Ketel One, Remy Martin and Grey Goose, cumulatively valued at $140. McCray was charged with felony burglary.
Sprawled in subway Arresting a man for lying down in the subway was not the easy task police officers might have expected on Thurs., Jan. 8. According to cops, at about 11:05 p.m., Gaston Ossou, 46, was sprawled outstretched with his feet on the seats causing a public inconvenience on the 1 train. Ossou did not want to leave the train at the Seventh Ave. and W. 14 St. station. Police said he resisted their arrest efforts by flailing his arms, acting violently and cursing. A police report said Ossou is a repeat recidivist in the transit system. He was charged with resisting arrest.
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January 15, 2015
When police and protesters clashed on the L.E.S.; BY CLAYTON PATTERSON
January 15, 2015
PHOTOS BY CLAYTON PATTERSON
t is hard to wrap one’s head around the death of a person at the hands of the N.Y.P.D., especially for something as incidental as selling loose cigarettes. In order to make the arrest of Eric Garner, the cops aggressively roll up on him. As they approach him, a cop reaches for Garner’s wrist and starts the arrest. A common response to this kind of action is to pull one’s arms away and ask what he or she is being arrested for, but by then the situation is out of control. We now have resisting arrest and a full-on takedown, resulting in an arrest. It seems that it is time to look at police procedures and education. Beginning on the night of Aug. 6, 1988, there was a protest over a curfew in Tompkins Square Park that resulted in what was subsequently dubbed a police riot. The previous week, the cops in the park had been involved in what they perceived to have been a compromised situation with some local anarchists. The police felt they needed to instill some respect for authority, so they convinced the community board to set a curfew on Tompkins Square Park, the only park in the city without a curfew. The cops made a deal with the homeless and the other late-night park hang arounds that they could stay in Tompkins as long as they kept away from the front section of the park, by the Avenue A and St. Mark’s Place entrance. Within minutes, the park’s front section was cleared and the conflict began to get out of hand. The angry police charged out of the park and into the streets, indiscriminately attacking anyone in their path, beating and shoving those who happened to have the misfortune to be on the streets. Eventually, the police settled on Avenue A and E. Sixth St. At least that is the location where I spent the rest of the night with Elsa. At 6 a.m. the curfew was over, the park was back open, and Elsa and I ended up with a 3-hour-and-33-minute videotape of the night’s goings-on. The tape exposed much police misconduct. There were more than 125 complaints related to police violence, and numerous residents — most of them unrelated to the protest — ended up in the hospital. These people had just been at the wrong place at the wrong time. The evidence on the tape led to six cops being criminally indicted, the Ninth Precinct captain moving out of the precinct, cops fired. But the most damning detail was the part of the tape where a commanding officer was
Protesters took over Avenue A — as they often did — in 1991.
attempting to exercise some control over the situation. The lower-ranking cops, however, paid no attention and took off chasing protesters. There was no respect for authority or the chain of command. The tape was a breakthrough in the use of the new technology, Civilian Journalism, the community’s defense against police misconduct. However, it sent me into 20 years worth of criminal, civil and departmental court battles, numerous arrests, and an inside look and education into the inner workings of the judicial system. It also was the beginning of a period of four solid years worth of protests, a number of riots, hundreds of arrests, and the reorganizing of the N.Y.P.D. In addition to my record of the events, there was another authoritative 20-minute videotape taken that night by Paul Garrin. In short, the Lower East Side became a hands-on training ground for the N.Y.P.D. On Aug. 6, 1988, cops on horses, in helicopters, along with several hundred riot police and a command center could not close a 10.5acre park on the L.E.S. But by 1992, the police could control the streets. In 2001, the cops, in a couple of hours, were able to shut down three airports, and all the bridges, tunnels, ferries, railways, subways, buses and street traffic. Early on, the focus of the protests was on police brutality, the ineffective Civilian Complaint Review Board (C.C.R.B.), the effort to impose a park curfew, the homeless crisis, the closing of the park, the tearing down of the park’s band shell, the housing cri-
In a grab from Clayton Patterson’s 1988 Tompkins Square Park riot videotape, Ken Fish is shown bloodied after being struck by police. A New York Times article on the riot reported that Fish, 29, was a bystander who had been clubbed by police and needed 44 stitches to close a 3-inch gash in his forehead.
sis, squat evictions and the encroaching gentrification that was starting to take over the neighborhood. In the beginning, it was ranking cops, like Captain Fry, pushing the blue shirts with his nightstick, screaming, “Form a line, form a line.” It was not unusual for a protest to go on for more than a day. For the cops, it was an overtime bonanza. During that time, a cop retired at his last year’s salary. It was possible to retire at double salary. For the smart commander, it became a golden ladder moving up the chain of command. Several chiefs of police came out of
the struggle, including Hoehl, Julian, Gelphan and Esposito. Esposito boasted that he would never have become a chief it had not been for the Tompkins Square Park conflicts. Dinkins became mayor and the administration focused on reorganizing the Police Department. Many older cops retired, and a new crop of younger cops was hired. The new Mollen Commission cleaned out a number of cops involved in the illegal drug business and started to centralize the department. The protesters could rule the L.E.S. streets until 1992. The police practiced different forms of organizing, including putting one sergeant in charge of six cops. They brought in scooters, tried a wedge formation, and after practice, practice, practice, by 1992 they gained control of the streets. If a protester stepped into the street, he would be arrested. The Police Riot was at the end of Koch’s third term. The department’s reorganization was under Dinkins. Giuliani inherited a well-organized, razor-sharp, paramilitary Police Department. Giuliani brought in Bratton as his police commissioner. Bratton partnered with the transit cop Jack Maple, and they changed the streets of New York City, probably forever. Bratton and Maple were influenced by the concept Safe Streets, which allowed police to believe that if they concentrated on petty crime, the number of more serious crimes would be cut. If the police could stop people from hanging out on street corners, CLASH, continued on p. 11 TheVillager.com
The cops won, but what were the lessons learned? CLASH, continued from p. 10
PHOTO BY Q. SAKAMAKI
in front of bodegas and outside the projects, that would thwart the opportunities of street criminal activity and would help bring order to a community. Bratton’s zero-tolerance policy initiated programs like stop-and-frisk. At the same time, Bratton worked on making the department more ethically diverse. Bratton was as hard on the precinct commanders as he was on those residents who were active in the inner-city street culture. He was influenced by a new community police management philosophy called Comp Stat — an analysis of computer statistics on crime for each precinct. A main focus of CompStat was holding commanders accountable for any rise in crime in their precincts. Crime took a dramatic downturn, and Bratton became the darling of mainstream America, even making the cover of TIME magazine — though he was not such a hero to many in the inner-city minority community. But in a universe where Giuliani had to be the center of attention, Bratton’s success became his downfall, and soon he was pushed out the door. Ghosts from the past can reappear. Bratton comes back as de Blasio’s police commissioner, and ex-Mayor Giuliani becomes an expert commentator for Fox TV. Giuliani’s tendency is to find fault in most black leaders — including President Obama, Attorney General Holder, Al Sharpton — and talk about family values. Yet, there is no question that Giuliani ended all the costly squat-eviction protests on the L.E.S. the day he made the remaining buildings legal, and the squatters became property owners. During the L.E.S. years of turmoil, the cops who became police chiefs had the ability and the expertise to deal with both the cops and the protesters, as well as, to appease City Hall. This was a delicate balance. The chief had to keep a close rein on the cops, as there were some who had the tendency to take the law into their own hands, with the belief that they had the right to deal out justice by inflicting severe punishment with the use of their nightstick. If a commander was too aggressive and antagonistic toward the protesters, the end result could be a riot, or at the very least, injured protesters or cops, and a conflict that could go on for a long period of time. On the other hand, to maintain respect and to have the confidence of the rank-and-file cops, the commander could not be perceived as being too passive or compromising in any way.
Clayton Patterson being swarmed and arrested by plainclothes police officers. For years after his infamous riot videotape, Patterson was a marked man as far as the police were concerned.
Police chiefs also had to evaluate whether the arrest was worth clogging the criminal courts or if a ticket would suffice. It was all about the bottom line. There were many times during the years of protests when the tensions between the protesters and the cops were high. But never, from what I am aware of, did anyone intentionally try to maim a cop. There were certainly no plots to kill a cop. Considering how many battles were fought, there were few permanent injuries on either side of the conflict. There is no question that there was hardcore resistance on both fronts, just as each side had their own radicals. The radical protesters did random acts of vandalism, broke windows, set fires on the street and burned down a homeless camp before it was evicted. They spray-painted resistance graffiti, threw bottles, flattened a few tires, but did not use Molotov cocktails, or any kind of deadly force. The radical cops would pepper-spray protesters in the eyes, whack people on the head with their nightsticks. They would also target individuals by making a questionable arrest and trump up the charges. And after an arrest, cops would bend the handcuffs, which caused severe pain, or tighten the handcuffs to the point of causing the hands to go numb. Another trick was they would make up a false complaint, go to an approachable judge, and get a search warrant. Both sides made verbal threats to each other. As time went on, though, the equation changed and there is no question that the police had more power. The recent vitriolic rhetoric by Patrick Lynch, the head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association — blaming the
mayor, civil rights leaders and protesters for contributing to the killing of the two cops — is using a terrible tragedy for political grandstanding. Perhaps he is making a play for his next election, or he is losing control. The cops turning their backs on the mayor — their boss, our elected official — is disregarding the will of the people, and is not only disrespectful but dangerous. I understand why white Americans — especially white cops — dislike Al Sharpton. He has the ability both to hold the system accountable and to bring mass public attention to a questionable death of a black person at the hands of the police. But he never calls for violence. Protests and free speech are protected under the Constitution. De Blasio, as a mayor of all of the people, was trying to be protect the rights of the protesters to express their point of view, and to give the cops enough authority to take control if a situation got out of hand, which I am sure the N.Y.P.D. can do. Too much resistance can incite violence and unnecessary hostility. Most protests will remain peaceful and “walk themselves out.” My experience taught me that the masses just want a way to express their outrage, not be violent. If you stop the protest march from crossing a bridge, the mass blockage stops traffic. If they march across the bridge, the inconvenience passes with the march. They need an end goal where they can hold a protest rally. The solution Lynch is suggesting — to give the police the ultimate authority — would mean we are living in a police state. And what is the problem with de Blasio, even as mayor, telling his children that because they are black, it can mean dealing with a dif-
ferent set of rules? No, I do not believe most cops are racist. The system is set up to be unequal. The divisions are wide. It took me a few years of living in a drug-saturated community to get an inside look at who sells drugs, who buys drugs, who uses drugs, the institutional racial discrimination. Starting with Operation Pressure Point in 1984, hundreds of people involved in the illegal drug business went to jail — and with the Rockefeller Drug Laws, it was not unheard of to get a sentence of 20 years or more. Over the years, hundreds of people involved in the drug trade were incarcerated. That is the law. But what the law doesn’t explain is why most of the people in jail are black and Hispanic. The majority of people coming into our community to buy drugs were white, often from New Jersey. It is a common practice for a buyer to be supplying more than just him- or herself. After President Reagan was elected, it was no secret: It was snowing cocaine on Wall St. Back then, there was all the glamour connected to cocaine — using hundred-dollar bills or specially designed gold spoons to sniff the powder, the keychain ornaments to hold your coke, the razorblade jewelry. The out-of-control celebrity types were being habitually arrested and going to rehab, and there were the ofttold public tales of rock’n’rollers’ use of illegal drugs, the Mollen Commission’s findings exposing the drug-related corruption in the Police Department, and on and on. Yet, the prison system does not reflect this difference. Illegal drugs are everywhere. Yet the ones ending up in jail are black or Hispanic. Just as the majority of individuals who end up dead in a situation involving the police are black men. We are in self-denial if we cannot see this point. We need an Al Sharpton to keep us aware of what is going on. Let the courts settle the matter. I believe the majority of New Yorkers — certainly including the mayor, Al Sharpton and most of the protesters — are outraged two police officers were assassinated. It is time for a little restraint and to start to actually deal with our social problems before things spin completely out of control. There have to be splits in the Police Department as the rhetoric starts to become so divisive. In the end, the police proved that by having a disciplined force, competent experienced leaders, using standard police procedure, they could control the streets. I am not sure how things got so out of control that the police needed to become so militarized. How did the police become so afraid of the citizens they are paid to protect? January 15, 2015
John Doswell, 71, activist on park and the waterfront OBITUARY BY ALBERT AMATEAU
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January 15, 2015
ohn W. Doswell, a founding chairperson of Friends of Hudson River Park, executive director of the Working Harbor Committee and member of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, died Jan. 2. He was 71. Diagnosed with cancer a year ago, he was responding well to treatment until he was admitted to the hospital shortly before his death, according to his wife, Jean Preece. Captain John Doswell (he held a U.S. Coast Guard master’s license for vessels, under power or sail, of up to 100 tons) was a prime mover of waterfront events for three decades. He was a member of the North River Historic Ship Society and Save Our Ships New York, among other maritime organizations. As director of the Working Harbor Committee, he organized annual tugboat races and coordinated international visits of historic ships. For the 2012 OpSail event, he found berthing for dozens of vessels from around the world. A Hell’s Kitchen community activist, John Doswell was an early member of Friends of Pier 84, a neighborhood group that successfully advocated for free public use of the pier off W. 44th St. For several years he was a member of Community Board 4, whose West Side district includes the Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen waterfronts. Madelyn Wils, president and C.E.O. of the Hudson River Park Trust, the city/state agency building the riverfront park, paid tribute to his contributions to waterfront redevelopment. “Captain John Doswell leaves an inimitable legacy of devotion to the New York City waterfront community he so loved and served during his rich and accomplished lifetime,” Wils said in a prepared eulogy. “A U.S. Navy veteran in the Vietnam War, John’s life was fully committed to the preservation and innovation of our working waterfront and environment. All of us at Hudson River Park Trust and Friends of Hudson River Park knew him as a tireless advocate. His vast maritime knowledge and skill in all things nautical made him a stalwart champion for numerous programs and educational activities. He brought unmatched calm, reason and a sense of fairness to every mission he undertook. His legacy will live on for generations.” The Metropolitan Waterfront
Alliance also paid tribute to John Doswell’s accomplishments, noting that he had crossed the Atlantic in a sailboat. He also occasionally piloted the restored 600-ton lighthouse tender Frying Pan, as well as the historic schooner Lettie G. Howard. “As a member of the Maritime Infrastructure and Permitting Panel, Captain Doswell contributed to Vision 2020, New York City’s 10-year waterfront plan,” the Alliance said. He also helped organize the Alliance’s City of Water Day, Hudson River Park Day, the Liberty Cup Hawaiian Outrigger Canoe Race, the Floating the Apple America Star Race and the Flotilla to Reclaim Governors Island event. John Doswell was one of the original group of friends who bought the decommissioned New York City fireboat John J. Harvey in 1999 and restored her to working condition. He was among the crew that brought the old fireboat to the World Trade Center site on Sept. 11, 2001, ferried residents away from the disaster and returned to pump water into the fire. And it was on the John J. Harvey that Doswell and Preece were married last July after living together for 40 years. They had met in 1961 in junior college in St. Petersburg, Florida. She was a dancer (as a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall and with roles in several Broadway musicals) and he became a producer of corporate events. Married to different partners, they were each divorced and began life together, for a while on a boat in the W. 79th St. boat basin. They got married on the advice of their accountant, and their waterfront friends took over the arrangements. John Doswell was born in St. Petersburg to Betsy Weeks and Claude Douglas Doswell. He was the oldest of five brothers, Warren, Willard, Douglas and Joe, who all survive, in addition to his wife and their daughter, Jhoneen. TheVillager.com
A couple from Charles St. puts Elvis on the map BY LESLEY SUSSMAN
PHOTO BY LESLEY SUSSMAN
lan Grossman doesn’t wear blue suede shoes or have long sideburns like Elvis did, and his wife, Andrea Shaw, isn’t exactly a Priscilla Presley lookalike, as you might expect from two people who are among the world’s most devoted Elvis Presley fans. But looks aside, what they have done to honor the memory of Elvis — to the delight of his millions of fans worldwide — is produce a must-have accessory for the thousands of die-hard Elvis fans who each year visit Graceland and want to see all the sites in town related to the performer’s life and times. Their homage to Elvis is an illustrated map of downtown Memphis that serves as a self-conducted walking tour and is filled with original illustrations and informative anecdotes of where the King of Rock ’n’ Roll once lived, worked and played. This unprecedented paper map — the first map with illustrated landmarks and former locations that lets fans visualize Elvis’s life in Memphis — was published in 2013 and sells for $9.95 at the Graceland gift shop, online (Memphismapforelvisfans.com) and elsewhere. It features more than 100 hand-drawn sites — some still in existence and others long gone — where Elvis lived, worked and played. Fans can visit sites such as the Baptist church where, between 1953 and 1955, Elvis and his then-girlfriend, Dixie Locke, attended evening services to hear gospel music, or the store where the singer and actor bought the furniture that wows visitors when they visit the “Jungle Room” at Graceland. The map is also the first-ever detailed map of the Elvis estate, the Graceland Plaza and the Visitors Center. So how did Alan, an attorney, and Andrea, a freelance writer, get caught up in all this Elvis madness? Well, it’s kind of a long story that begins with the day that Andrea first visited Graceland. Seated in their Charles St. apartment that has an Elvis cutout and other Presley memorabilia, Andrea is the first to answer the question — and rightly so, since she was the one who came up with the map idea in the first place. “It started 10 years ago when Alan and I went on Priceline and found a $38 round-trip ticket to Memphis for the weekend,” she said, unable to control her laughter at the memory. “I always wanted to visit Graceland because I had become an Elvis fan. “So we went there, saw Graceland and walked around the city a little bit. We walked past Sun Studio and then checked Memphis off our list.” Andrea paused for a moment, lost in a pleasant memory. “It was a visceral experience visiting Graceland,” she said. “And if you’ve ever been there, I think you know what I mean. “Over the next couple of years, I read Peter Guralnick’s two-volume biography on Elvis. That really turned me on and got me so interested in Elvis, that a couple of years after that, I said to Alan, ‘Let’s go back to Memphis and visit these places. I want to see where Elvis dated his girlfriend and where all this stuff happened — where he saw his first records pressed.’ ” Andrea said that when they returned to the city, they assumed there would be an Elvis map to guide them to the different Elvis locations, like in Hollywood, where there are maps tracing the
Alan Grossman, left, and Andrea Shaw in their apartment, which features a cutout of the King.
footsteps of classic movie stars. “There was no map at all,” she said. “None. Nothing. And that’s what started it.” It was now Alan’s turn to add to the story. “You know,” he began, “Elvis changed my life.” “Not God?” a reporter asked, as laughter shook the room. “They could be one and the same,” Alan replied jokingly. “When Elvis came on the scene,” he continued, “I was just about to become a teenager. It was that time of life when the only music on TV was ‘How Much is That Doggy in the Window?’ But when Elvis came along, he broke that little suburban Westchester shell I was in. It introduced me to teenage life in America. I saw stories about dancing and rioting in the streets when he showed up — things like that.”
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Alan recalled how he and his family would watch Elvis on television. “It just shook up everything,” he said. “And then one Wednesday when my parents went into the city, the babysitter came over and immediately called her boyfriend. He came over with Elvis’s first album, and they danced as my sister and I watched from a corner of the room. “That was my introduction to girls and sex,” he said. “I discovered there was something bigger out there than my room. I started listening to radio and became a big Elvis fan — the way he dressed and everything — and that connected me to a whole different world. But it was Elvis on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ crooning ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ that really got me hooked.” Although Andrea in her earlier years wasn’t as big an Elvis fan as her husband, she got a portent of things to come in her life involving the singer when she agreed to marry Alan. At their wedding reception in 1991, Alan and Andrea eschewed a large floral display, opting instead, at Alan’s urging, for a life-size cutout of Elvis. “He put a yarmulke on the cutout,” she recalled laughingly. “This was four days before our wedding and it was too late to call it off.” Alan recalled that when Andrea came up with the idea for an Elvis map, he thought it was a “brilliant idea.” “We each were coming at Elvis in different directions,” he said, “and I thought there couldn’t be anything better than this.” The rest was a lot of hard work, a big investment of their personal savings, lots of time spent finding the right talent to design and illustrate the map — and, finally, great persistence in convincing the Elvis Presley estate to officially license and sell the product. “There was also an awful lot of research involved,” Andrea noted. “I was reading more than 150 books on Elvis’s life.” “It was two and a half years of research,” Alan added, “and we were there in Memphis during the research 25 times looking for these sites.” “A lot of places just weren’t there,” Andrea recalled. “They were just empty lots. We found pictures of the places that were no longer there and had them illustrated for the map.” With the map now selling very well, having received 100 percent five-star reviews on Amazon and from new and seasoned Elvis fans alike, what’s next for this dynamic duo? What else but a similar kind of map for visitors to the West Village.
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No, sir! No slowdown in Soho! Spotted on Thompson St. in Soho last week, Officer Guitterez of the First Precinct was asked, “Are you doing a slowdown?” “No way!” he responded. He commented on a recent spate of burglaries in Soho, particularly on Sullivan St. with the robber’s M.O. being to enter through a window that is slightly ajar. “We’re talking to supers about making their buildings safe,” Guitterez said. In particular, he said, the idea is to have some sort of block or stop in the upper part of a window, so that even if the window is slightly ajar, it can’t be opened wide enough for the robber to get in.
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Can’t pay triple the rent To The Editor: I learned from Avignone’s owner, Abe Lerner, that this historic shop will be closing on April 30. Why? The building has been sold, the store’s lease is up for renewal, and Avignone’s new landlord is tripling the rent. Abe had indicated his willingness to negotiate a new lease with a higher rent, but one that’s three times what he is now paying is out of the question. Avignone — one of the Greenwich Village
Society for Historic Preservation’s 2013 Village Award winners because of their integrity, history and supportive involvement in the neighborhood — has been at 226 Bleecker St., just west of Sixth Ave., since 1929. Francis Avignone moved it there from 59 MacDougal, where it had opened as the Stock Pharmacy in 1832. (Francis Avignone had bought and renamed it in 1898.) Avignone has maintained an important role in the neighborhood community all of these years, continuing despite loss of its pharmacy to CVS a year ago. They contribute to Churchill Park and
Our Lady of Pompeii’s senior center and sponsor a Little League team. The conveniently located store provides a spectrum of basic products for home and health needs, with an ecologically responsible perspective wherever possible, and a wonderful selection of botanical products for skin and hair. Prices are often below those elsewhere in the neighborhood. And the store is a treat for the eyes, as well. It is shameful that there is still no law protecting such businesses and preventing the further destruction of the character of our neighborhoods, and the fabric that keeps our communities vital. Sheila Sperber Haas
No to faux Chumley’s To The Editor: Re “Chumley’s foes file appeal to block reopening; Hope to 86 historic watering hole” (news article, Jan. 8): Is it even Chumley’s anymore? I have watched the construction since day one and it looked like the entire building was gutted and a new place was built behind the facade. Not sure it is really Chumley’s or just a “Disneyfied” version of it. Do LETTERS, continued on p. 16
January 15, 2015
Flirting and fighting on the real ‘Mean Streets’ NOTEBOOK BY MINERVA DURHAM
He stepped back and paled. “I can’t do that,” he said. “I’m a married man, Don’t you see my ring?” He had never before said anything about being married. Maybe he had married recently and maybe I felt that his flirtation was halfhearted. For whatever reason, I had crossed a line and we never spoke again on the street. I suppose that from that point on, if he saw me coming he made himself invisible. Rumor has it that the character De Niro played in “Mean Streets” (1973), John “Johnny Boy” Civello, was based on Joe’s older brother. He had first been warned to stop committing petty crimes in the neighborhood and then was found dead one morning in a car parked on the street. As the story goes, older men in the neighborhood gave the go-ahead to the younger men to kill him. Vigilante justice was common and commonly agreed upon. Many residents here still remember the stink bomb thrown into the storefront of 226 Lafayette to protest that a methadone clinic was moving in. The Italian neighbors just east of
Many of the men had a kind of street smarts sharpened by their interest in women.
crossed Kenmare. An African-American man in sweats jogged by. A crowd gathered as the dark-skinned jogger turned around to confront Joe, grabbing the lid of a garbage can to use as a shield to defend himself against the bat. At that time there were garbage cans out in front of most of the buildings. I kept a safe distance away watching from between two parked cars as the jogger danced like a boxer. More than a match for Joe, he was a true athlete executing marvelous feints and admirable footwork, avoiding Joe’s swings, and saying, “Let me go.” From my safe distance I called out, “Let him go. Please, let him go,” a few times. All of a sudden, as though a bell had rung to end a round in a boxing ring, Joe brought the bat down to his side and walked away. The crowd dispersed quietly and the jogger ran on. Later Joe told me that his unleashed dog had been bothering the jogger and that he was angered when the jogger slapped the dog’s snout with his fingers. With a few exceptions, African-Americans were not welcome in the neighborhood. Like the jogger, they risked being harmed for just being there. Well-dressed black teenagers and the occasional worker were safe if they were known. The last time we ran into each other, he began his usual tease. I had no idea why I did what I did, but I said to him, “We’ve been flirting long enough, Joe. Let’s f---.” I didn’t feel desire for him, nor did I want to be lovers with him, nor did I expect him to accommodate my suggestion. I still have no idea why I challenged him at that moment.
Lafayette were angry because Virginia Admiral, having just converted 226 Lafayette into artists’ live/ work co-op floors, rented the empty storefront to the clinic. She saw it as a good interim tenant, and she carried through with her plans despite the neighbors’ objections. John Zaccaro was also angry. It was the first of many conflicts and arguments between Virginia and Zaccaro, in most of which, it seemed to me, Virginia came out ahead. The roadbed of Lafayette Street just south of Spring Street was one lane wider in the early ’70s, and there was very little car traffic. Many late afternoons through twilight, and sometimes into the night, boys played hockey on skates in the street. I remember watching them from Virginia’s kitchen window when I first came to New York, not thinking anything about it, not ever imagining that kids playing sports in half-deserted streets would ever disappear from the neighborhood. On the night of the stink bomb, a car drove up to the boys. The driver, a neighborhood man, rolled down the window, and told them to take their game to a different street. No questions were asked and the bomb found its way to its destination. They say that you can sometimes still smell that stink bomb near the front door of 226 Lafayette.
PHOTO BY CLAYTON PATTERSON
any local Italian-American men hung out all day long in Little Italy in the ’70s and ’80s, more than anyone might have realized. Shift workers, plaster and metal craftsmen, men between jobs, retired city workers or just plain gangsters, they may have been outside because their wives and children were cooking or bathing in their small apartments, or they may have got tired of drinking coffee in their social clubs, rented storefronts that the neighborhood men took refuge in. They had a way of making themselves invisible, mostly near street corners where they “kept an eye on the neighborhood.” You might walk three blocks thinking that the sidewalks were deserted while there were actually guys around being inconspicuous. Like Tasmanians pretending to be tree stumps in a barren landscape so that they would not be captured by European settlers sweeping across the island to imprison and exterminate them, these urban dwellers uncannily found architectural elements, columns, doorways, trash cans, light posts, awnings or railings, to disguise their presence. As I got to know some of the Italian men on the street, I realized that many had a kind of street smarts sharpened by their interest in women. They had ways to check out a woman’s availability without exposing their interest. Sometimes I thought that maybe they just had an extra sense informing them how recently a woman had had sex, how many minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or years it had been since she had had a sexual satisfaction. Of these men I write. There were three I became friendly with — Joe, Lou, and Sal. Joe C. worked evenings as a dispatcher. He spent a lot of time with Mike, the refrigerator man who had a storefront across the street from 86 Kenmare and provided used appliances to landlords Downtown. Joe and I spoke sometimes on the street. He had an athletic body and was proud of it. “Feel my thigh,” he boasted, “as hard as a rock.” It was. At the time, my knowledge of anatomy did not include awareness of the iliotibial band, connective tissue on the outside of the thigh that steadies the body and compresses the vastus lateralis muscle when the lower leg is kicked out. It is a struc-
ture that feels as hard as a rock on almost everyone. Joe liked to tease me. He would engage me in conversation up to the point that he would somehow cause me to blush, and then he would end the encounter smirking and complimenting himself. For years our relationship consisted of this ritual. One day I saw him run into Mike’s store and back out again swinging a baseball bat and screaming as he
Taking it to the streets Artist Roman “Primitivo” Albear setting up his stand on Prince St. in Soho.
January 15, 2015
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Continued from p. 14
we need to protect it as the “site where Chumley’s once stood?” As far as the B&T and tourists comments: It really has gotten difficult for those of us who have lived in the neighborhood before the TV show “Friends” ever filmed on that corner. People stand in front of my window with a bullhorn yelling at their tour groups. Others vomit in out plant stands after a long night out. I think the anger about the noise in our residential neighborhood is more than just one bar on one block. Karen Butler
Writers need Chumley’s To The Editor: Re “Chumley’s foes file appeal to block reopening; Hope to 86 historic watering hole” (news article, Jan. 8): Writing is a horribly lonely vocation, and some of the writers who visited Chumley’s were the saddest people who ever lived. But despite their personal tragedies, they told us stories about life in a way that made life seem more beautiful and more worth living, for generations upon generations to come. How generous, my God. What a gift. Chumley’s gave them, in return, however briefly, some moments of sustenance. And there are writers now who are waiting for that same thing. You can’t get it just anywhere. There are pockets where the past isn’t so distant — writers need that — and Chumley’s is one of those rare places. Some things deserve personal sacrifice, and literature and history are two of them. Neighborhood opponents will realize that the people writing Chumley’s future have good hands and good hearts and you can trust them. Clare Gailey
We don’t need charters To The Editor: Re “Charter debate hits Community School District 1” (news article, Jan. 8): As a District 1 elementary school parent, I can tell you that our neighborhood has many incredible public schools — most of which are severely
January 15, 2015
overcrowded as it is, and all of which are chronically under-resourced. We don’t need parasitic charter schools, bankrolled by hedge funders and backed by Albany opportunists, swooping in to steal scarce classroom space and public funds away from our schools. And many of our schools are genuinely innovative — unlike discipline-fetishizing, test-centric charter schools, which goose their test scores by cherry-picking the most advantaged students and casting aside special-needs kids. Let some other district serve as a laboratory for this twisted experiment, wherein disadvantaged kids are separated from more disadvantaged kids in order to game the testing system and pay people like Ms. Moskowitz half-million-dollar salaries. Or better yet, let those schools rely solely on the generosity of their high-rolling funders, and let Albany instead fund our public schools adequately enough to compensate for our city’s grotesque inequalities. Matthew Arnold
A shot of Tequila To The Editor: Re “Oink if you love Doris! Parties keep on coming” (news article, Jan. 1): Tequila Minsky’s photos and the accompanying article really captured the essence of the party. There was a lot of love shared that evening. We would also like to acknowledge our co-host Erin Rogers, who provided the fabulous handcrafted party favors and the unbelievable cake that rocked the house. Thank you, Tequila, for sharing your lovely energy. Hellen and Harvey Osgood
Bus service is a bust To The Editor: I have contacted many politicians about the very poor bus service here in the East Village, but have gotten zero response. I have, in the past few years, become a user of the M14A crosstown. The Downtown Select bus does not stop at E. Ninth St. as the limited bus did. As a result, there is a 17-block distance from 14th St. to Houston and Allen Sts.
Usually, when the bus was limited service, I would get off at the E. Ninth St. stop and walk a few blocks to Avenue A and E. Sixth St. Now I get off at 14th St. and change for the 14A. The ostensible schedule is every 15 minutes between buses — but the reality is 25 minutes or more. Also the ratio is allegedly three 14D buses to one 14A. It is more likely five or more to one. Last week it was nine 14D to one 14A, after a 30-minute wait. Most of the latter D’s go by empty. The 14A bus has a mix of passengers — white ethnics, Latinos, African-American, poor, the new gentrification citizens — who need public transportation. The Second Ave. Select bus stops at 34th, 28th and 23rd Sts. to accommodate those going to and from the hospitals on First Ave. But it’s crazy to skip the East Village stop at Ninth St., creating a 17-block distance to the next stop. So now the transfer I make at 14th St. becomes imperative. Again, I have written to our local politicians, and gotten no reply. State Senator Daniel Squadron has an electronic response, but nothing else. Who will help solve this bus-service crisis? Bert Zackim
Focus on the problems To The Editor: Re “Another angry sea of blue” (photo story, Jan. 8): I think the police union is acting like the police rule New York City. While we, the people, are saying that some police officers are rude, racist and gung ho, the cops think they are living in the wild, wild West. Whatever happened to shoot to stop, not to kill? New officers are not trained to bring these criminals to justice. They’re trained to shoot to kill, and that’s not correct. We, the people of New York, ask that you, the N.Y.P.D., respect the lives of our babies and black and Hispanic men. We want justice for our murdered babies and fathers — just as the N.Y.P.D. would want justice for their murdered brothers in arms.
Simply address the problems. Mayor de Blasio doesn’t owe the N.Y.P.D. anything. He was elected by the people, for the people, period. Denise Snell
Lenape Jersey pot jobs To The Editor: New Jersey’s native people, the Lenape, who were forcibly exiled to bleak reservations in Oklahoma and Kansas, should be invited to return home and start a pot business. Fort Monmouth, a recently closed U.S. Army base in central New Jersey — near New York City — with the infrastructure of a city, would make an ideal location for the first Lenape reservation in our state. The persecution and exile of the Lenape from New Jersey is eerily similar to the South African system of apartheid. Under apartheid, many blacks were shipped off to faraway “homelands,” where they were stripped of their limited civil rights. The federal government recently stated that tribal governments would be allowed to legalize marijuana in their jurisdictions for medical and recreational use, as numerous states already have. A legal marijuana industry operated by the Lenape in New Jersey would provide the necessary income for a successful return of the tribe. Fort Monmouth could become home to a vibrant Lenape-run cannabis industry that would provide jobs for people of all backgrounds. Call Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and tell her that now that Fort Monmouth is no longer in use by the federal government, the land should revert to its original owner, the Lenape nation. Eric Hafner E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to email@example.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY, NY 11201. 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.
Write a letter to the editor firstname.lastname@example.org TheVillager.com
At The Joyce, a new season and the promise of many more Dance scene staple close to owning its Chelsea home BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC
an a parent choose a favorite child? Linda Shelton, executive director for The Joyce Theater, has a similar dilemma when talking about the upcoming spring/summer season of dance. “I’m really looking forward to all of it,” Shelton remarked during a recent interview. “When I look at this list, I’m excited about every single one for one reason or another.” Equally exciting is the prospect of a long-term presence in Chelsea, once a matter of great uncertainty. The Joyce Theater was founded in 1982 and quickly established itself as a stable presence in the city’s dance scene. It faced a decisive moment in 2012 when, knowing the venue’s lease would expire in 2016, The Joyce started the process of buying its home at 175 Eighth Ave., at 19th St. “All the paperwork has been signed,” Shelton told this newspaper, “and we close in the coming months.” The upcoming season includes performers that will be at the Joyce for the first time — Ballet West, Liz Gerring Dance Company and Dorrance Dance — as well as what Shelton called “old favorites” — the Stephen Petronio Company and Ballet Hispanico. It kicks off with the Martha Graham Dance Company, from Feb. 10–22, which will be performing the modern dance maestro’s “classics that set the standards for geometric force,” as well as paying homage to her iconic solo, “Lamentation,” TheVillager.com
The always-dynamic Parsons Dance will present the NY premiere of “Whirlaway” during their Jan. 21–Feb. 1 run.
with the world premiere of four new pieces in “Lamentation Variations.” Also returning will be Cuba’s MalPaso Dance Company, from March 3–8, said Shelton. “The Joyce has had a big part in the development of this company,” she explained. “They’ll be bringing two brand new works, one by Trey McIntyre, and one by their company’s artistic director, Osnel Delgado.” MalPaso, which only recently formed, performed last year for the first time at The Joyce. The organization commissioned Ronald K. Brown, and arranged and paid for him to travel to Havana, she said. Brown created a piece, “Why You
Follow,” for the young company. This year, his company, Evidence, will be performing before MalPaso, from Feb. 24–March 1. Shelton described his style as incorporating some African dance and said much of his work had a spiritual element to it. As Brown’s style differs from McIntyre, a contemporary ballet choreographer, Shelton said it will be a very different piece that MalPaso will present this season. Jazz musician Arturo O’Farrill, Shelton explained, will once again play a live accompaniment for most of the performances. O’Farrill will play in the theater’s music area to the side, but Shelton said, “You will not miss him. He has a presence.”
She said that The Joyce tries to pair live music with dance whenever possible. Other international companies are also slated to perform. The French company, Compagnie CNDC-Angers, will make its first appearance at The Joyce from March 10–15. Its artistic director, Robert Swinston, a former Merce Cunningham dancer, has drawn from the extensive and excellent work of Cunningham’s cannon to create “Event.” Also on the roster is the Lyon Opera Ballet, from April 29–May 3, which has been at The Joyce several times, said Shelton, but is always a “special treat.” By the time summer arrives, it will be time for the Polish National Ballet, performing June 16–21. “We feel like we need to bring dance to our audiences,” said Shelton. “It does have to be a combination of both New York-based, USbased and international because we program for 48 weeks. We have enough room for all of it.” There are a myriad of factors involved when curating a season — when troupes are available, budgetary concerns, and the balance of different movement styles, Shelton explained, calling it a “big puzzle.” “First and foremost, we’re looking for artistic excellence in dance and at the same time, we’re looking for diversity so that we can fulfill the mission of The Joyce, which is inclusive and incorporates all different styles and genres of dance, JOYCE, continued on p. 20 January 15, 2015
Repairing strings with an ear for Tribeca’s past Gage known, loved by musicians around the world
BY MICHAEL LYDON
alker St. between Broadway and Church St., two short blocks below Canal, looks like Tribeca before it became Tribeca: battered loft buildings with dusty windows, a couple of unobtrusive art galleries, a semi-fancy restaurant at the Church St. corner, and one textile company left over from the days when this block was the bustling home to New York’s cloth market. Number 36 Walker, despite the aging coat of red paint around its front door, blends in with its grayfaced neighbors: five weather-beaten floors, three tall windows per floor, and a few old air conditioners clinging precariously to the sills. Come close and you can read the small oval sign that’s made the building known and loved by musicians all around the world: “David Gage String Instrument Repair.” Step inside the scarred door, say hello to the shop’s two cats, Luna and Oscar, and you’ll see why this no-frills address is so beloved: in our digital age when reality gets reduced to bits and bytes, David Gage String Instrument Repair (davidgage.com) is a true craftsman’s workshop. Since the craft is preserving wooden musical instruments that haven’t changed in centuries, the Gage shop has a timeless quality, its quiet broken only by the rasp of files on wood and mellow
January 15, 2015
jazz playing softly on the radio. The pungent perfume of sawdust and glue, wood oils and varnishes, add to the old-timey atmosphere. Shelves that climb eight feet up the walls are jam-packed with pots and paintbrushes, saws and sandpaper, clamps and carving knives, vises and planes and rags and rulers. One recent afternoon, in an alcove to the left of the door, Mike Weatherly, a gray-bearded fellow with an amiable smile checked the horsehair for a bass’ bow. Where did the horsehair come from? “From horsetails in China and Mongolia,” said Weatherly. “We pay $300 a pound for the hair, but women in China have so carefully cleaned and sorted it that I can use every strand in a hank.” Beside him, Sprocket Royer studied a bass balalaika — what could he do to get a better sound from its three thick strings? Deeper into the shop, Manny Salvador gently pushed a sharp knife under the pick guard on the beige soundboard of a vintage Martin guitar. “Plastic pick guards shrink over time,” he explained, “and tug at the wood. That made this crack” — and he pointed to a hairline gap near the guitar’s bridge. “Ah,” he said with a soft smile, “now the wood’s relaxing, but I’ll give it more time.” At the shop’s reception area, dozens of black and white photos of renowned bassists — Charlie Hayden, Charles Mingus, Christian McBride
PHOTO BY ELLEN MANDEL
PHOTO BY ELLEN MANDEL
Mike Weatherly, one of the craftsman at David Gage String Instrument Repair on Walker St.
Sprocket Royer, left, and Mike Weatherly hard at work.
— smiled down on friendly Aileen Marcantonio selling strings and picks, bows and bow cases, and taking payment for repair jobs from a gaggle of customers. Just past her, David Gage’s black-bearded nephew, Simon Propert, fitted a new neck on an old bass. The fresh piece of wood looked virginally white beside the bass’ timeworn brown body. “But,” said Propert, “after I stain it, only an expert could tell the neck is new.” On a workbench deep into the shop, David Gage is bent over a bass with its belly open to his prying eyes. At a dozen or more points, he had glued small wooden tabs to indicate spots that needed care. “Most instrument shops put their show room on the first floor,” said Gage, a tall, slender man with graying hair and an informal but serious manner, “and hide the repair benches upstairs, the nuts and bolts they don’t want the customers to see. But we have no elevator, and we couldn’t ask the repair guys to lug their instruments and tools up and down the flights of stairs. So we put the benches out front, and it turned out that musicians love seeing the craftsmen at work, seeing all we do to help them make beautiful music.” The shop repairs and restores all kinds of string instruments, but specializes in basses. David Gage, a New Englander, began playing bass in his teens, then studied at Boston’s Berklee College of Music and with
Bill Blossom of the New York Philharmonic. While playing jazz gigs in the Big Apple, he began building and repairing basses with master luthiers Chuck Traeger and Lou DiLeone, opening his first shop on Chambers St. in 1978, then moving to Walker St. in 1990. “The landlord made us a generous offer we couldn’t refuse,” Gage said with a grin. “We started on the ground floor, now we’re renting the whole building. Luckily, our landlord likes our handicraft work, so he’s kept the rent reasonable. And we don’t bug him about repairs — if the roof leaks, we fix it.” Like Gage, the seven luthiers in the shop emphasized that they learned their craft from generations of masters. Salvador, who’s been at Gage for 20 years, apprenticed with Miguel Luciano in Greenwich Village. Weatherly studied bow making with Lynn Hannings and George Rubino, and now makes his own line of bows. Dan Theisen, the shop’s violin specialist, got a diploma in violin repair at a Minnesota technical college, but, he said, “Years earlier, when I first set foot in Robert Young and Jason Viseltear’s East Village violin shop, that’s when I found my calling in life.” The store sells as well as repairs string instruments. In the shop’s GAGE, continued on p. 19 TheVillager.com
Gage makes things that make beautiful music GAGE, continued from p. 18
PHOTO BY ELLEN MANDEL
long high-ceilinged second floor showroom, 100 or more basses and nearly that many cellos rest in their stands like rotund brown men conversing peacefully among themselves. “Look closely and you’ll see that no two basses are exactly alike,” said sales manager Sam Finlay. “See, this one mimics the vigorous curves of a violin body, that one the smoother curves of the viola da gamba. Some have rounded backs, some flat. The most valued basses, like the most valued violins, come from Italy, but there are no million dollar basses as there are million dollar Stradivari.” The basses there, nearly all on consignment, top out at about $30,000, and bows get as high as $5,000, but Gage also carries instruments and bows in the $3,000 to $4,000 range. “We also rent inexpensive instruments to students and beginners,” said Finlay, “and fine ones to travelling orchestras who want to save the stress of taking their own instruments on tour.” Not everything at Gage is old school. Since the 1980s, the shop has sold an airplane-safe bass and cello case that’s both sturdy and lightweight. “It’s great,” famed jazz bassist Ray Brown has said. Another travel-friendly product, the “Czech- Ease Road Bass,” is a full-sounding bass with an abbreviated body designed by Gage and made in the Czech Republic.” For that,” said Finlay, “we use the slogan, ‘The Czech Ease Bass — it’s easy to check!’ ” On the shop’s third floor, Jason Borisoff sat with a soldering iron in his hand at a workbench assembling one of Gage’s newest and most popular products, a small sheet of cop-
per foil called the Realist transducer, an electronic pickup for string instruments. “Most electric guitar pickups create a sound unlike an acoustic guitar,” said Borisoff. “Our goal is to amplify the instrument and to be accurate to its original sound.” Gage now makes Realist pickups designed for basses and violins and other instruments that use bridges to carry the strings’ vibration to a soundboard. A Realist violin that comes with the pickup built in has become so popular — “over 600 sold” says Finlay — that Gage is renovating the fourth floor to create
more space for developing the Realist line. Back on the ground floor, the ageold craft work went on. Weatherly took a new hank of horsehair from a cabinet and ran a few strands between thumb and finger — “hmm,” said his expression, “that’ll do fine.” Royer kept studying the balalaika with a puzzled look on his face. Propert put the new neck on the old bass, took it off, made a tiny adjustment, then put it on again. “String instruments are high maintenance creatures, no doubt,” Gage said in a resigned tone, one hand resting affectionately on his
latest patient. “Heat, humidity and handling — that’s what we call the Three H’s from Hell. One bass in one town in one year can go through huge humidity changes. The change from wet to dry, that’s what makes them crack.” “But we love our work,” he added, looking over the shop. “Our clients are orchestral musicians, jazz cats, rock ‘n’ rollers, country and world music performers, pros and amateurs. We pride ourselves on the attention we give each player, each instrument…You’re only as good as the people you work with, and I work with the best.”
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Full season, bright future at The Joyce JOYCE, continued from p. 17
January 15, 2015
© CHRISTOPHER DUGGAN
from the well-known to the not sowell-known,” she said. “I think our audience looks for that kind of diversity.” The Joyce also commissions new work and Shelton said, “we try to give priority to getting that on the schedule.” She said it is difficult to fit everything in and sometimes a performance gets postponed. “Sometimes I wish we had more weeks in the year, but we program as many as we possibly can,” she said. “We have to make sure that we can afford it all too, because our ticket prices are pretty reasonable.” Several Joyce-commissioned pieces have made their way into the upcoming season. Michelle Dorrance is an artist-in-residence and received support to create new work. Her company, Dorrance Dance, will perform at The Joyce for the first time on April and 5. Former principal for the New York City Ballet, Wendy Whelan, begins a new chapter with four duets as part of “Restless Creature” from May 26–31. A new work was also commissioned for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, May 12–24, a company that is not afraid of versatility. Another artist-in-residence is Stephen Petronio, who is working on a new project called “Bloodlines,” said Shelton. He’s bringing in work from other choreographers, she explained, which many companies do, but in Steven’s case, he’s looking at choreographers with which he has a history — a kind of bloodline. “The first one [is] Merce Cunningham and it’s terrific. It’s ‘Rainforest’ — you don’t see that so often,” she said. His eponymous company will perform from April 7–12. Shelton said that she sees every company at least once. “I could talk all afternoon to you about all these things that I’m extremely anxious to see — I’d take up the whole newspaper,” she said with a laugh. She saw Liz Gerring perform “Glacier” at another venue and knew that she wanted to bring it to The Joyce. “I just loved the piece and I thought it needed to have another showing,” she said. “It’s just so powerful, just intensely physical. I was totally drawn into it. I was
Led by artist-in-residence Michelle Dorrance, the Dorrance Dance company makes their Joyce premiere on April 4 & 5.
riveted for the entire time of the piece.” The Liz Gerring Dance Company will be at The Joyce from March 31– April 2. Another upcoming event is Dance from the Heart on Jan. 26, a benefit for Dancers Responding to AIDS (DRA). Proceeds will go to 450 AIDS and family service organizations across the country. “We worked with them many times before,” said Shelton. “We have a hard time finding a date in the season when we can accommodate some of these outside projects, like galas or events. It’s very hard to find even one dark night in the season. We’re glad that we’re able to find one for DRA, because they really are fantastic.” Parsons Dance will perform at the benefit and is a part of The Joyce’s fall/winter season, from Jan. 21–Feb. 1. Chelsea Now got a sneak peek at the company practicing “Nascimento Novo” at the 92nd Street Y. Parsons Dance is performing well-loved pieces, such as “Caught,” as well as the New York premiere of “Whirlaway.” David Parsons, the founder of the company and a choreographer who has created over 70 works, said that the New Orleans Ballet Association commissioned “Whirlaway” last year. He was invited to pick a New Orleans musician and immediately choose Allen Toussaint. Toussaint let Parsons check out his repertory and the music chosen became the seed that sparked the piece’s movement. “I picked something that really was just a celebration of New Orleans,” he told Chelsea Now af-
ter stepping away from rehearsal. “New Orleans is a feel. It’s an environment that’s really rare in the United States.” His company, he explained, is known for a lot of physicality. “What we do is, when we start a new work, we really try and come up with a new vocabulary for each piece,” he said. “I think that is one of the reasons why we have lasted so long. I learned this from Paul Taylor: variety is an important thing. Especially when you have a one-choreographer company.” Parsons has danced for several companies, including the Paul Taylor Dance Company for eight years and MOMIX, and has worked with Mark Morris and Peter Martins of the New York City Ballet. “You see a lot of dance where it’s just the same movements all the way through the evening,” he explained. “I’ve always noticed that and always kind of fought against that.” “Whirlaway” debuted last May in New Orleans and Parsons said he wanted to make it sort of timeless. “The historic aspects of New Orleans just permeate everyday life down there,” he said. “We wanted to have a real funkiness to it.” Also on the program, are two pieces: “Train” by Robert Battle, the artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and a duet by McIntyre’s “Hymn.” “It’s really important for dancers and audiences to get a mix of [movement] — and why not — in a program,” he explained. “These are two choreographers that I admire.” Battle danced with Parsons’ company out of Julliard, he said. “It’s very ritualistic and it goes really well with the Parsons’ pro-
gram,” he said of the piece. Parsons has also known McIntyre for years and said that they are a good fit conceptually. “We just like to have people who speak our language,” he said. Parsons said he has been working with dancers in his company for 15 years to help them produce work. At The Joyce, Natalie Lomonte, who once was with the company, will perform “Within,” which will be a world premiere, accompanied by the music of Nina Simone. Parsons understands the struggle of a dancer trying to make the transition to choreographer well. When he first came to New York from Kansas City, Missouri he had a lot of jobs to make ends meet. A gymnast and dancer who had a trampoline forte, Parsons became known as a stunt model. He said he could hit things in the air and make incredible shapes. While doing a photo shoot with Lois Greenfield for The Village Voice, he found the inspiration for his well-known work, “Caught,” and began a collaboration with Greenfield that has lasted 25 years. “I came up with this thing where I lied on my back and I just popped myself up — straight up in the air like that, a foot off the floor and she shot it. And then I landed again. Smack,” he recalled. By throwing his body up, “you can see the shadow underneath you and Lois was like, ‘damn that’s cool.’” Parsons realized that the sequence of motion captured by Greenfield’s photo session could translate to the stage. “Caught” is a very athletic piece, he explained, with 100 jumps in five minutes, which gives the audience the idea that the dancer is flying or suspended in the air. At The Joyce, Parsons Dance member Elena d’Amario will perform the piece. D’Amario has had an interesting path to Parsons, winning the Italian talent show “Amici,” and by doing so, getting a scholarship with the company. Parsons, who was a judge on the show, is well traveled and speaks Italian. “Bachiana,” which Parsons likened to a love letter to ballet with “a modernist taking it on” is also a part of the program, which differs from matinee to evening. “I really like an arc,” he said. “It’s great for me to have an audience go through a real dark piece and actually laugh in the concert and then gasp in the concert and then just pull out all the emotions.” TheVillager.com
Korean-Chilean playwright’s ‘Tala’ is a world of bridges, built and burned
THEATER TALA Music by Svetlana Maras Choreography by Yin Yue Video by John Knowles Installation art by Jason Krugman At 8 p.m. Thursday, January 15 & 22 Friday, January 16 & 23 At University Settlement’s Speyer Hall 184 Eldridge Street (btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.) Tickets: $18 ($10 for students & seniors) For reservations, call 800-838-3006 Or visit universitysettlement.org Artist Info at kyoungspacificbeat.org
o man is an island? Try telling that to the man without a country. Casting its net across time, place, culture, the search for self and the need for a greater purpose, playwright Kyoung H. Park’s script for “Tala” is as tangled and conflicted and contemplative as you’d expect from that messy melting pot of thematic ingredients. Dashes of surrealism may sweeten the dish, but their presence has no ambition to overwhelm the bitter taste that lingers on the palate of every righteous fighter or melancholy searcher in the cast — even the ones who seem poised to find what they’ve been looking for. First-born son Park bases much of “Tala” on a fictionalized version of his own experience as a Korean-Chilean in America during 9/11, whose emerging identity as a gay man and an artist parallels our country’s defensive shift into a new era of military aggression abroad and paranoia at home. That uncomfortable genesis is accompanied by the tale of Pepe and Lupe. Two lovers inspired by Chilean
PHOTO BY MARIE YOKOYAMA
Written & Directed by Kyoung H. Park
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
L to R: Flor De Liz Perez, Daniel K. Isaac and Rafael Benoit play multiple characters, in Kyoung H. Park’s surreal saga of immigrant aspirations and revolutionary fervor.
poets Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral, their sand dune picnic takes place on September 10, 1973. It is, observes Park’s onstage counterpart Kyoung, “the night before the first 9/11” (aka the Chilean coup d’état). Resentful of colonialist incursions from the mainland, Pepe takes to burning bridges (literal and figurative), while former rebel Lupe pines for domestic tranquility on a distant and better island. Meanwhile, Kyoung attempts to return to the island of Manhattan from soul-searching trips abroad, only to be
red-flagged by airport security and his boyfriend — whose cutting breakup line could only be delivered in a post9/11 world: “You were deported and black-listed from my country. You’re a gay, North Korean terrorist. We can’t make this work.” Never mind that only portions of that assessment have any basis in fact. Kyoung, like countless other immigrants and struggling artists, is in for a world of hurt when he charts a course for home, then dares to stray from the set path.
Just Do Art BY SCOTT STIFFLER
TAYLOR MAC: “A 24-DECADE HISTORY OF POPULAR MUSIC: 1900–1950s”
PHOTO BY MELBA HUBER
Take your pick when referring to Taylor Mac, he of many hats (and heels, and the use of “judy” as a gender pronoun). A longtime presence on the NYC performance scene who continues to break new ground while leading the way, the venerable artist can be described as a playwright, actor, singer-songwriter, cabaret performer, director and producer. Through Jan. 25, you’ll get a little bit from all of the above — and leave with a song in your heart. Presented as part of The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival, this 1900-1950s outtake from Mac’s sprawling, century-spanning “History of Popular Music” project takes tunes from a particular decade and infuses them with various contexts pulled from the American subconscious. With Mac accompanied by a live band, the “performative ritual” concerts (each decade is one hour, each installment has three decades) feature dancing beauties, special guests and a lobby transformed by collaborator and Visual Designer Machine Dazzle. Arrive early (6:30 p.m.) for the Jan. 22 performance, when Dazzle will give a talk on his work for the project. The gig concludes on Jan. 25, with a six-decade, six-hour marathon. “1900s–1920s” is performed on Jan. 16 & 17 at 7:30 p.m. “1930s–1950s” is performed on Jan. 19, 20, 22, 23 at 7:30 p.m. The marathon (“1900–1950s”) is performed Jan. 25 at 3 p.m. At New York Live Arts (219 W. 19th St. | btw. 7th & 8th Aves.). Tickets start at $40 with select $15 seats available; tickets for the Jan. 25 six-decade marathon are $75. Purchase online at newyorklivearts.org, by calling 212-924-0077, or at the box office (Mon.–Fri, 1–9 p.m. & Sat./Sun, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.). For the full Under the Radar Festival schedule, visit pubictheater.org. For info on the artist, visit taylormac.org.
Hoofer Hank Smith is among the dancers, storytellers, and musicians telling then-and-now tales of the city, at Jan. 20’s “Tapping Into New York.”
TAPPING INTO NEW YORK
The cadence of language soars, hands keep a beat and feet meet the floor — in this unique collaboration between storytelling memoirists, tap dancers and musicians. Then-and-now tales of New York are told, when your host Kathryn Adisman (“K”) welcomes to the stage percussionist/poet Fred Simpson along with storytellers Kendell Kardt, Alice Klugherz, Ron Kolm, Su Polo and Armand Ruhlman. The tap dancers are Dolores Sanchez and Hank Smith. Tues. Jan. 20, 6–7 p.m. at Cornelia Street Cafe (29 Cornelia St. | btw. Bleecker & W. 4th Sts.). Admission: $8 (includes 1 drink). Reservations: 212-989-9319 or visit corneliastreetcafe.com/performances.asp. January 15, 2015
January 15, 2015
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After France’s 9/11: Drawing a line against CHARLIE, continued from p. 1
January 15, 2015
PHOTOS BY ZACH WILLIAMS
guest edited in jest by Muhammad with a cover reading: “100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter.” Charlie Hebdo’s sometimes crude brand of humor had a niche following among French people, but did not appeal to others. On Jan. 7 the magazine’s style of free expression assumed a significance unimaginable the day before. “[Charlie Hebdo] was provocative, so I was not a big fan,” said Jean-Baptiste. “However, I knew how I respected the work of the cartoonists. After all, they are artists and I appreciate everyone’s art, whether I like it or not.” Within hours of the Jan. 7 attack, “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) emerged from Twitter as the rallying slogan to which millions of people across France and around the world would respond. By the evening in the States, hundreds had gathered in Union Square to express their solidarity with the victims, as well as their shared belief that curtailing free speech was the attackers’ ultimate aim. As people across the world expressed similar sentiments, the Kouachi brothers remained at large. They were spotted north of Paris on Jan. 8. But it was in a southern suburb of the city where another man, Amedy Coulibaly fatally shot a police officer and injured another person that day. Hours later, the Kouachis died following a shootout with French law enforcement. But the killing would continue. “It was very overwhelming. It just kept going and going,” said Jean-Baptiste, who is co-founder of the Chelsea Film Festival. She would not learn until Jan. 11 that the father of a friend, Francois-Michel Saada, was among those gunned down by Coulibaly the day before at a kosher market in an eastern neighborhood of Paris. French authorities say there was a link among the three men, according to media reports. Searches continue for remaining suspects. Twenty people were dead — including the three gunmen — by the time the violence ended on Jan. 9, with 21 others injured in the worst terrorist attack on French soil since 1961. Thousands of miles from her homeland, Albane de Izaguirre could not find adequate comfort among her American friends. She would find solace among her fellow expatriates at Washington Square Park. Several hundred people congregated there as millions prepared to march in France over the weekend. They expressed their solidarity mostly through silence with pens and pencils held aloft. Occasionally they would repeat
“Ink doesn’t kill!” a boy’s sign read at the Washington Square rally.
Whether on signs or smartphones, the message was one and the same: “Je Suis Charlie.”
“Je Suis Charlie” in unison, as they held up signs, pencils and pens alike with hands reddened in the frigid air. Some fought back tears as the crowd sang “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem. “It’s really hard when you’re not in France,” said Raphael Bord, a Williamsburg resident. “You see what’s
going on but you cannot really participate.” Though predominately French nationals and their families, the crowd at the event also included Hell’s Kitchen resident Teresa Cebrian. She said she grew up in Spain amid the fallout from the 2004 Madrid bombing of a commuter train by an Al Qaeda-affiliated
group. Prior to that attack, she had thought that terrorism arising from Islamic extremism was a phenomenom relegated to other countries, she said. Even 10 years later, she said she does not feel safe from the dangers of radical MusCHARLIE, continued on p. 25 TheVillager.com
fanatic violence and in defense of free speech CHARLIE, continued from p. 24
PHOTO BY LIZA BEAR
lim militants. “It’s an attack on the freedom of expression in democratic societies and we’ve got to fight against that,” she said of the Paris shootings. The slaughter evoked memories of the Sept. 11 attacks among many people at the Greenwich Village rally. However, there is a key difference, according to Walmsley and his French wife, Sophie Thumashansen Walmsley. In Paris, the attackers emerged from a “tiny minority” within a native Muslim community living on the edges of French society, whereas the 9/11 hijackers were foreigners. Muslim immigrants were originally welcomed to France as laborers during more prosperous times. But as one generation gave way to the next, many Muslims in France struggled to assimilate even as second-generation citizens. Recently passed laws forbidding Muslim women from covering their faces in public stoked resentment among them. Radical clerics found a ready audience in recent years among disaffected men, such as the Kouachi brothers, who were children of Algerian immigrants. French police arrested Cherif in 2005 as he attempted to reach Iraq by way of a Syria-bound flight. Like more than 1,000 Muslim Frenchmen in recent years who have fought in Syria, he wanted to wage jihad, according to media reports. While thwarted in that effort, Cherif eventually achieved his purported goal of achieving martyrdom 10 years later. Fighting back against such an ideology necessitates a nonviolent approach, said participants of the Jan. 10 Washington Square rally. The attacks represent an opportunity to confront this fringe element of French society, Sophie Thumashansen Walmsley said. “This could be a rallying cry to get France together again to come up with a new French identity,” she said. The next day millions of people mobilized across France in similar fashion: toting “Je Suis Charlie” signs, pens and pencils. Hundreds more came to Lincoln Square Synagogue on W. 68th St. that night to mourn. Among the luminaries in attendance were Chelsea Clinton, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and keynote speaker Senator Chuck Schumer. When the meeting room filled to capacity, 100 more congregated in a hallway. Soon 100 more stood outside in the winter cold vainly hoping for admittance. As Schumer prepared to speak on U.S. support for France, Jean-Baptiste soon found her own place to mourn.
Women held a poster of the eyes of Jean Cabut, 76, a.k.a. “Cabu,” a staff cartoonist at Charlie Hebdo, who was targeted and killed in the Jan. 7 attack at the magazine’s Paris office.
Stuck outside, she joined a dozen others in a quiet Jewish prayer recited from smartphones. “Right now the only solution is to gather and be united,” she told The Villager earlier that day. As the new work week began, reports of reprisal attacks against French Muslims continued. At the same time, police were being deployed around Jewish businesses, schools and other “sensitive sites.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel was ready to accept with “open arms” Jews now fearful of living in France. Last year, amid rising anti-Semitism, a record 7,000 French Jews made aliyah to Israel. By Tues., Jan. 13, 10,000 soldiers were patrolling neighborhoods throughout the country and French President Francois Hollande had declared war on terrorism. That same day, Charlie Hebdo staff announced that the Prophet Muhammad would once again grace the cover of their magazine. This time, though, they printed 3 million copies rather than the magazine’s typical circulation of 60,000. On the magazine’s cover, the caricature totes a sign with the now-famous “Je Suis Charlie” slogan and sheds a tear of contrition. “Tout est pardonné,” reads the cover. “All is forgiven.”
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January 15, 2015
New School hoopsters getting radically gnarly SPORTS BY ROBERT ELKIN
he New School Narwhals basketball team is gearing up for the second half of their season, starting right after the winter break, against Pratt Institute in Brooklyn on Tues., Feb. 3. The New School is not a member of the NCAA and plays an independent nonleague schedule against such colleges as The Cooper Union, Vaughn College, Medgar Evers, Mt. St. Vincent and Culinary Institute of America, besides Pratt. The college tries to follow NCAA rules as much as possible and does play some games against Division III opponents. Toward the end of the schedule, they will compete in a Northeast Arts School Basketball Invitational (NASBI) tournament at the Baruch College ARC gym, at E. 24th St. and Lexington Ave. The Narwhals don’t have an on-campus home court, and the New School, in general, doesn’t have its own sports facilities. Their home games are basically held in nearby buildings — including office buildings — around the school area, with the athletic office located at 2 W. 13th St. Though known for its leftist academics, the New School is looking
Gnarls the Narhwal is the New School’s new mascot.
forward to growing its athletics in the future. Basketball is currently probably the school’s biggest sport. Coach David Privat-Gilman is in his second year helming the hoops squad, which is led by Henry Jesse “H.J.” Gaskins, the team’s high scorer and captain. The Narwhals are 5-3 so far and are certainly looking to post a winning record this season.
Team practices and games can be held at Washington Irving High School, Chelsea Recreation Center, Baruch College or elsewhere. Gaskins, from Philadelphia, is a 5-foot-9 combo guard who can play either the “one” or “two” position on the court. “I’ll do whatever it takes for my team to win,” he said. “I do the best on the court and control the tempo of
the game for my team — and I can shoot.” Actually, he is a transfer from Boston University where he saw action on the Division I team. “I’ve been around basketball and know my thing,” Gaskins added. “Being originally from Philadelphia, where basketball is a big sport, my high school sent players to Division I colleges.” He transferred to the New School because he got hurt, and also because, as an artist, he felt it would be a good move for his career. “My goal is to have the New School basketball program exist,” he said. “I want the people to know about it and for it to eventually have its own facilities.” Joining Gaskins, the other three starters are guard Dustin Sodano, the other captain; Jovan Johnson, at center; and Benjamin Irving at forward. The fifth starting spot is usually up for grabs at each game. Basketball is not the only sport at the New School. It also offers cycling, soccer, dodge ball, archery, running and intramurals. Diane Yee is the director of athletics and recreation. A few years ago, as part of an effort to boost the New School’s athletics, it was decided the school needed a mascot. In fall 2012, as voted upon by the students, the winner was the narwhal. Matthew Wolff Design won the bid to create the logo and named the character Gnarls the Narwhal.
Patriots should roll; Hawks will have a fight GLICK’S PICKS BY DEBORAH GLICK
s many of you know, besides being your local assemblymember, I am also a huge fan of the National Football League. Although I am foremost a New York Giants fan (unlike a nameless New Jersey governor who roots for the Cowboys!), I love to watch well-played games, and there are no better games to watch as the season winds down, and the weather gets colder, than playoff football. The esteemed editor of The Villager asked me if I would share my thoughts on the upcoming matches this weekend, and I am happy to oblige. The playoffs have been winnowed down to four teams who will play this coming weekend. Out of those games, the winning teams will face off in the Super Bowl. Football is all about the matchups between the strengths and weaknesses of teams. The key factors are the quarterback’s ability to determine what type of defense the other team is setting up and the ability of the offense to provide the quarterback with enough time to either pass the ball or set up a runTheVillager.com
Deborah Glick breaks down the championship games.
ning play. All four teams playing this weekend are excellent, and have excelled at doing exactly that all year. Now they must play each other. There were a few surprises in last week’s games, most notably the Indianapolis Colts beating the Denver Broncos, giving them the unenviable opportunity to face the New England Patriots. The Colts have a great young quarterback in Andrew Luck, but the team has several key injuries, and the Patri-
ots have a quarterback, Tom Brady, who has the best postseason record and the home field advantage. The Patriots almost always find a way to win, and their coach also has the best winning record in the postseason, so I think the Patriots will win. The second matchup pits the Super Bowl winners from last year, the Seattle Seahawks, against the Green Bay Packers. The Seahawks have an overwhelming defense and a great young quarterback, Russell Wilson, who can run as well as pass accurately. The team is young and fast and on a hot streak and will challenge the Packers’ offensive juggernaut. The Seahawks will be playing at home, where they have a notorious home field advantage, playing in a stadium that is known to be deafening for opposing teams. Adding to the Packers’ woes, their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, has a serious calf injury, and although his season’s performance has been fabulous, he is playing injured and will not be at his best. The Packers have a strong defensive squad. But the Seahawks have both a strong running game, as well as a Q.B., Wilson, who is healthy and terrific in every aspect of the game. If you can catch only one game, this is the game to watch. Seattle is the favorite, but I imagine that Green Bay will give them a serious run for their money. January 15, 2015
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