The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
January 29, 2015 • $1.00 Volume 84 • Number 35
Brewer wants younger voices to be heard more on community boards BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC
t had all the makings of a typical teen party — pizza and soda, excited chatter and, of course, young people. It was no party, though, but rather a meeting to discuss a serious commitment that some adults would shy away from: serving on a
community board. On Fri., Jan. 23, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer hosted an informational session for young people interested in serving on their community board. Last August, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation that allows 16- and TEEN C.B., continued on p. 11
BY ZACH WILLIAMS
eligious groups agree that through the music of their respective faiths a certain harmony prevailed on Jan. 25 at the sixth annual Spiritual Sounds of the East Village. Buddhists, Protestants, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians and Hindus
congregated that night at the Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection on E. Second St. to exhibit the sounds of their faiths, as well as tolerance for all people. Local Muslims had to cancel at the last moment, but 11 other ensembles performed music from persuasions as diverse as the BhakFAITHS, continued on p. 6
PHOTO BY J.B. NICHOLAS
Finding common ground in sound; Religious groups jam together for one love
Sheldon Silver, in handcuffs, is driven from F.B.I. headquarters to Federal Court last Thursday morning.
Silver’s long run as speaker flames out amid graft charges BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
political tsunami hit Lower Manhattan and all of New York State last Thursday as Sheldon Sheldon, the powerful speaker of the Assembly, surrendered to the F.B.I. on multiple corruption charges. According to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Silver’s alleged crimes include two forms of graft involving his outside income over the past 10 years: namely, accepting kickbacks from a real estate
law firm, as well as engaging in a quid pro quo involving asbestos patients and state funding, altogether totaling nearly $4 million. “These charges in our view go to the very core of what ails Albany,” Bharara said last week. “Lack of transparency, lack of accountability and lack of principle, joined with an overabundance of greed, cronyism and self-dealing.” Silver, 70, was charged with five counts of corruption, extortion and fraud, each carrying a maximum sentence of 20
years in prison. He turned himself in at 26 Federal Plaza at 8 a.m. Thursday. Then — with his hands cuffed behind his back — he was driven in a white Impala to nearby Federal Court and arraigned of his charges. Pleading not guilty on all counts, he was freed on $200,000 bond. Exiting court, as TV news reporters thrust microphones at him, he said just a few words — including, “I hope SILVER, continued on p. 4
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January 29, 2015
TOLD YOU SO! Former City Council candi-
date Pete Gleason called to say that we “had it first,” when Scoopy reported in October 2013 that Gleason, if elected Manhattan district attorney, would have investigated Silver. Of course, that was a very big “if.” Gleason, a Democrat
NO ILL WILL: There was a time, in particular before 9/11 — after which Silver seemed to become more present in the neighborhood — when some of his constituents north of Delancey St. were loudly complaining that the powerful speaker, occupied with Albany affairs, was neglecting their neck of the 65th Assembly District. The main critics were Clayton Patterson, the L.E.S. documentarian, and Marcia Lemmon, the late Ludlow St. scourge of bar owners. But this week, Patterson was reluctant to criticize the wounded Silver publicly. “I certainly don’t wish him any harm,” he said. “The biggest criticism I have of him was that he was inaccessible. I would have never thought of him as a criminal. I don’t want to kick him when he’s down.”
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COMMUTING TENSION? One local longtime Democratic political operative we spoke to last week was livid that state Senator Brad Hoylman had the audacity to come out early and call for Silver’s resignation. He quipped to us that Hoylman will now no doubt feel an icy chill in the car during his ride back and forth to Albany. That’s because his regular commuting buddy is Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who stressed, in her initial comments to The Villager, that Silver is innocent until proven guilty, and didn’t call for him to step down. But Hoylman told us that’s just plain silly. “Deborah and I are free to disagree,” he said.
running as a Republican, challenged Cy Vance in the general election, and was, not so unpredictably, trounced. “I think there is a lot of conventional wisdom about the cesspool of corruption in our own backyard, i.e. William Rapfogel,” he said back then. In short, Gleason stated, Rapfogel’s wife, Judy, who is Silver’s longtime chief of staff, along with Silver himself should both have been investigated in connection with the $5 million Met Council insurance fraud scheme, for which William Rapfogel was arrested in August 2013 and subsequently found guilty, and for which he is now serving jail time. “If I were the sitting Manhattan district attorney,” Gleason told us back then, “I’d have a full-blown investigation against Sheldon Silver and Judy Rapfogel.” Well, the now-defunct Moreland Commission and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara have more than taken care of the Sheldon Silver investigation. As for Judy Rapfogel, it looks like she might well wind up the only one left standing on her feet — even if her hubby’s insurance-scam skimmed cash was stored in their Grand St. closet next to her shoes!
B BIIS STTR RO O ******
SOME CUTTING WORDS: The day after probably the worst day in Sheldon Silver’s life, what did he do? He stuck to his routine, getting his regular haircut at Astor Place Hairstylists, where rates start at just $16. By chance, we happened to go there for a trim ourselves on Monday and couldn’t help recalling that Valentino Gogu, one of the place’s many speedy, top-quality coiffeurs, had told us a while ago (as we reported here) that Silver was a customer of his, coming there every three of four weeks for a cut — no, not of cash, of his hair! ...Just kidding... Anyway, as Gogu was working his scissors magic on a guy’s locks on Monday, we told him we remembered that Silver was his customer, and Gogu eventually let on that, in fact, the Assembly speaker had been there just the other day. As Gogu told us a few years ago, Silver’s now-infamous personal-injury law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, is right around the corner, just two blocks away, at Broadway and E. Fourth St., and he stops in for haircuts at Astor when he works there. “What you want me to tell you about that?” Gogu said with a smile, then Third Estate or Fourth Estate, it’s dished a little all just hair to Valentino Gogu. bit, “He was
here last Friday. I cut his hair, and that was it.” Well, there was one thing more. “He tell me, ‘I will beat them,’” Gogu added. Well, at least that’s what Silver was thinking last Friday anyway. Look, don’t try telling Gogu that Silver’s not a good guy. “He’s not guilty, man. I don’t think so. Now everybody’s saying he’s guilty,” the barber said. “When Bloomberg wanted to build a stadium, which would bring people, [Silver] said, ‘no.’ He won. When Bloomberg wanted to put a toll at 60th St., take money from the people, [Silver] said, ‘no.’ He won.” They talk about “six degrees of separation,” but at Astor Place Hairstylists, it’s more like two tushes of near-togetherness in the barber chair. “You know who I see today? William.” Wait a second, no...you mean? Yes, Gogu said, “Rashbaum.” When he had previously told us about Silver coming there for his haircuts, Gogu had also mentioned that a couple of top New York Times reporters, including William Rashbaum and Al Baker, also avail themselves of his tonsorial talents. Yes, it was, in fact, Rashbaum who broke the story last Thursday that Silver was facing imminent arrest — sharing a joint byline on the fateful Page One lead article with Thomas Kaplan and Susan Craig — and he and the Times reporters have since written a subsequent series of hard-hitting follow-ups, probing into the various alleged schemes and players. So, we asked, what did Rashbaum have to say about it all? But Gogu responded, “He say nothing.” Astor Place is really the political haircutting hotspot, as Mayor Bill de Blasio also still goes there, a habit he has kept from his student days at New York University. Hey, they talk about “three men in a room.” Maybe they meant Astor Place Hairstylists!
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Surviving the blizzard of snow hype in Tribeca PHOTO BY MILO HESS
Tuesday morning, a man stood on a cleared sidewalk in Tribeca next to an ad for a new TV show about hardcore extreme-weather survivalists in Alaska. As for the muchhyped New York City “snowpocalpyse,” it was pretty meh.
C.B. 2 is in the zone with University Place plan BY SERGEI KLEBNIKOV
fter the historic Bowlmoor Lanes closed its doors last July, the property’s owner presented development plans for a new project at the site that would radically change the area’s character. Billy Macklowe, the owner of 110 University Place, made clear his intentions to demolish the existing building and replace it with a new 23-story high-rise. After construction plans were filed last September, many community members expressed concern that the proposed 308-foot-tall luxury apartment building would be tremendously out of context with the rest of the neighborhood. Since then, local organizations and elected officials have been keeping close tabs on the situation. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, in particular, was among the first to take action, as it pressed Macklowe for a meeting to discuss possible alternative designs more in keeping with the surrounding neighborhood. As Andrew Berman, executive director of G.V.S.H.P., explained to The Villager last October, the current zoning laws for the University Place and Broadway corridors unfortunately allow for the type of out-of-scale conTheVillager.com
struction that Macklowe has been proposing. In short, under the current zoning, bigger sites have fewer height restrictions. Because 110 University Place is larger than any other development site in the neighborhood, it would be possible to construct a building there that is significantly taller than any others nearby. The current zoning offers an incentive for building tall structures, such as hotels or dormitories, in spite of the mainly residential buildings in the area. Although Macklowe refused to meet with G.V.S.H.P., he did agree to meet with City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, who had also reached out to him on behalf of the community. The developer reportedly refused to alter his plans, despite the local concerns. Development plans were presented to the councilmember’s office. However, as she described it, “Everything was ‘as of right’ and in accordance with the current zoning laws. So, essentially, there was nothing we could do about it.” Mendez subsequently reached out to Berman, who expressed his desire to meet and work on a plan for implementing contextual rezoning in the area. The councilmember’s office has worked closely with G.V.S.H.P.
and Community Board 2 in the past, particularly in rezoning the Third and Fourth Aves. corridors. Berman and G.V.S.H.P. proposed a similar plan for University Place and Broadway, to which Mendez agreed. G.V.S.H.P.’s contextual rezoning proposal, critically, would establish height caps for new construction in the area. Specifically, it calls for height limits of between 80 feet and 120 feet for new development. In addition, the proposal includes a provision and incentive for inclusionary housing, under which new developments could provide affordable housing units. The plan offers “the best of both worlds,” as Berman explained: Not only would the rezoning slash the size of new high-rises, but it would also help create more affordable housing. On Jan. 14, Berman presented G.V.S.H.P.’s contextual rezoning proposal to C.B. 2’s Land Use Committee, which gave it “an overwhelmingly positive response,” he said. More than 100 community members attended to show their support, and the committee voted unanimously in favor of the plan. The rezoning proposal next went before the full board of C.B. 2 for a vote last Thursday. Councilmember Mendez also attended the meeting to show her
support for the rezoning and thank those involved. All 45 C.B. 2 board members present voted unanimously to adopt the Land Use Committee’s resolution in support of the rezoning, and urged the Department of City Planning to “move expeditiously to pursue a contextual rezoning” for the University Place and Broadway corridors. “Support from C.B. 2 puts us in a strong position,” Berman explained, as the plan can now move past its initial stages. Having won full support from the community, the contextual rezoning must now go before City Planning, which will decide whether to serve as the applicant for the plan. If Planning agrees to sponsor the rezoning, it will start the formal process of putting the plan through public review. As a fail-safe, G.V.S.H.P. is also ready to serve as a private applicant for the plan, Berman noted. “Although this option is more expensive, we are willing to do it,” he said. “However, we’re hoping that the Department of City Planning will be enthusiastic about taking it on, especially because of the affordable housing aspect.” In the best-case scenario, the zoning change could happen in as soon as a year. January 29, 2015
Silver is arrested for massive graft scam; Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN
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All news cameras are focused on Sheldon Silver after he emerges from his arraignment on corruption charges last week.
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SILVER, continued from p. 1
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January 29, 2015
I’ll be vindicated” — then walked off. Last Friday, Silver, in conference with his fellow assemblymembers, laid out a scheme under which he hoped to retain his speakership while agreeing to delegate temporarily some of his powers — including negotiating the state budget — to a committee of five senior assemblymembers while he confronted the charges. But his plan was panned, and by early this week, it was clear that the majority of Assembly Democrats want Silver to step down as speaker. Joseph Morelle, the Assembly majority leader, initially conveyed to Silver the message that he had until next Tuesday to decide on whether to step down or face being ousted. However, as of this Tuesday evening, Assembly Democrats had agreed that Morelle, who is from the Rochester area, would temporarily assume the role of acting speaker for eight days starting next Monday, as the Assembly searches for a new leader. On Feb. 10, it was reported, an election will be held to fill the speaker position permanently. It was reported that Morelle said Silver “will not impede the transition,” while Silver said, “I will not hinder the process.” Silver said he would retain his Assembly seat since his constituents elected him. However, if ultimately convicted of a felony he would no longer legally be allowed to serve. In the days leading up to Tuesday evening’s news, calls for Silver to step
down had been mounting. “He should understand that he’s lost the confidence of a majority of our conference,” Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh said. Governor Andrew Cuomo offered that “it would be a good thing” if someone else took over as speaker, and that “governing by committee” doesn’t work. “It’s not time to step aside; it’s actually time to step down,” City Comptroller Scott Stringer declared. “We need one leader in the Assembly, someone who can guide these budget negotiations.” Other influential voices calling for Silver to throw in the towel included Assemblymember Keith Wright and Public Advocate Letitia James. It’s been a swift and dramatic fall for Silver, who has been the powerful Assembly speaker for the past 20 years. A native Lower East Sider, he has represented Lower Manhattan’s 65th Assembly District since 1976. Silver is accused of two separate schemes, occurring over the past decade. In the first, he directed real estate developers with business before the state to a small real estate law firm run by his former general counsel, for which the firm allegedly paid him $700,000. In the second, he is accused of secretly funneling two state grants totaling $500,000 to a Columbia University cancer researcher who, in turn, referred asbestos cancer patients to Weitz and Luxenberg — the law firm where Silver is a personal-injury lawyer — which, in turn, then paid Silver a total of $3.2
million in “referral fees.” However, investigators could not find evidence of Silver having ever done any actual work to earn the millions, and none of the allegedly ill-begotten cash was accounted for on Silver’s required Assembly financial disclosure forms. Over the years, Silver was famously well known for resisting efforts to make him reveal information about his outside income. He has said that he earns more than $650,000 per year from the law firm, though exactly what he did for it was always shrouded in secrecy. His government salary is $121,000. Bharara said warrants have now been issued to allow the federal government to seize $3.8 million in allegedly fraudulently acquired cash that Silver has deposited in multiple accounts in six different banks. The investigation originally grew out of the Moreland Commission, Governor Cuomo’s anticorruption panel, which focused on probing Albany legislators’ outside income and campaign finance. However, legislators took legal action to block the investigations into their outside income. Cuomo abruptly shut down the panel last year, but Bharara’s office continued its investigations. The Moreland Commission subpoenaed records from 18 law firms. “Stay tuned,” the U.S. attorney said last week, indicating more individuals may be charged. SILVER, continued on p. 5 TheVillager.com
Set to resign as speaker
ELEMENTS THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS SM
SILVER, continued from p. 4
News of Silver’s imminent arrest was first announced early Thursday morning in a New York Times article. State Senator Brad Hoylman was the first to call publicly — on Twitter — for Silver to step down. “Another shameful day in Albany,” Hoylman tweeted shortly after 7 a.m. Thursday. “When we should be discussing State of the State, we are mired in state of corruption. [The] public deserves better.” He followed that up with another tweet shortly afterward: “Speaker Silver should resign for the good of the people of New York.” Wednesday night, Cuomo had given his State of the State speech, with Silver seated prominently right beside him on the stage. Hoylman has previously called for “serious new restrictions” on state politicians’ outside income, which he said is often “shady.” Democratic District Leader Paul Newell, who ran a spirited race against Silver in the 2008 Democratic primary, issued an e-mail statement around 6 a.m. last Thursday on Silver’s “imminent arrest.” “If the report in The New York Times is true, this is a sad day for Lower Manhattan and a sad day for New York,” Newell said. “I can’t speak to the specific charges against the speaker, but I can say that outside income for legislators is a certain recipe for corruption. Speaker Silver and Majority Leader Skelos should have banned it long ago. The 65th Assembly District, and all New Yorkers, deserve better.” Asked by The Villager if he thought Silver should resign, Newell said, “If the allegations are true, certainly. If not, he has the right to defend himself.” Silver is a champion among many progressive Democrats for his support of bread-and-butter causes, like unions, teachers and programs for the poor. Indeed, in the wake of the shocking news, Mayor Bill de Blasio voiced support for the Assembly speaker, calling him “a man of integrity,” and saying that he was owed “due process.” Similarly, last Thursday, two of Silver’s longtime Assembly colleagues from Manhattan’s West Side, Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried, stressed that Silver had not been convicted of anything, and praised him for his work in the Assembly. Gottfried said that, in fact, in his view, Silver is nothing less than a political hero. And he indicated that he TheVillager.com
felt Silver should remain as speaker while the charges are being resolved. “Speaker Silver is presumed innocent until proven guilty, like every American,” Gottfried said in a statement to The Villager. “A criminal complaint is an accusation; it is not evidence. “I have confidence that Speaker Silver, with the strong support of the Assembly majority, will continue to do the job of working for a progressive agenda while the current charges are being resolved. New Yorkers need Speaker Silver and the Assembly majority doing that job. “There is no one in public life in New York who has fought more effectively, for decades, for almost everything I care about in public policy than Sheldon Silver.” Meanwhile, Glick, in a phone interview, told The Villager: “There are constitutional protections that apply to everyone, from the highest person to the lowest person. Those include the presumption of innocence. And I’ve been sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the State of New York. “I haven’t read the full complaint,” she said. “It’s a criminal complaint — not an indictment.” Glick added of Silver, “Obviously, he’s been upholding Democratic principles in this state.” Ticking off just a few of the key issues that Silver has been on the right side of, Glick noted that he backed “a woman’s right to choose, marriage equality, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity” — the successful effort to ensure that New York City got its fair share of the state’s education funding. “So he’s entitled to the presumption of innocence,” she said. Glick has served alongside Silver in the Assembly since 1991. Gottfried was elected 44 years ago, in 1970, before Silver had even come on the scene. Unlike Silver, though, neither Glick nor Gottfried, during their many years in elected office, has ever worked outside jobs to supplement their Assembly income. As momentum built in the Assembly for Silver to step down, Gottfried did not respond to a request for further comment. In response to The Villager’s request on Tuesday for further comment on the developing situation, Glick called back on Wednesday, after all the chips had fallen, and recapped the situation. “Shelly will step down as speak-
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SILVER, continued on p. 10 January 29, 2015
Religions find common ground in musical sounds
PHOTOS BY WILLIAM ALATRISTE / NYC COUNCIL
A lama tooted his own horn at Spiritual Sounds. FAITHS, continued from p. 1
ti Center — Hare Krishnas — to The Catholic Worker with The Filthy Rotten System Band. The event exemplified the possibility for unity among all people just as terrorism and war threaten to further divide people of different religions worldwide, according to organizer Anthony Donovan, who began life as a Catholic but now identifies as nondemoninational. Though “Kumbaya” was heard at the event, the roughly 100 people in attendance are not pining away about lofty ideals, he added in an interview. “This is not a naive notion that we have here,” Donovan explained. “This really is people standing up and saying, ‘No we know another way.’” In recent years the event has inspired greater dialogue among the groups, resulting in other joint-community events, he added. Local Jews and Muslims celebrated the end of religious fasts together following the outbreak of war in Gaza last year. That idea came from the Holy Land itself; but in New York City a local imam and rabbi knew how to work together after meeting at Spiritual Sounds in prior years, according to Larry Sebert, the rabbi at Town & Village Synagogue. A Buddhist monk from the Tibetan Nechung Foundation at the Jan. 25 event displayed additional eagerness for affiliation as he took a selfie in front of the synagogue’s choir as they sang. Though each religion began in a different place, the East Village is a place where they must cooperate in order to ensure a livable neighbor-
January 29, 2015
The Catholic Worker and The Filthy Rotten System Band got...filthy!
It was an open-and-shut case: The Bhakti Center laid down a mesmerizing beat.
hood for all, especially with the ongoing economic revitalization there, said Father Christopher Calin of Holy Virgin Protection. Like many longtime residents of the neighborhood, he has seen plenty of change as the drug addicts and punks gave way to the forces of gentrification. Though his cathedral has
had its ups and downs in attendance over the last two decades, he expressed confidence that religions of all types will remain a powerful influence in the local community in the 21st century, just as in centuries past. “We’re the constant,” he said. “We’re going to be here. We’ve been here. You know what I mean? And
everything has changed around us.” Seven years ago a “weird” visitor — Donovan — came to the cathedral saying that he wanted to promote greater unity among religious groups in the area, Calin said. At first he seemed like just another character FAITHS, continued on p. 7 TheVillager.com
FAITHS, continued from p. 6
from the East Village. But once Calin listened more closely to Donovan, he grew more enthusiastic about the idea of an interfaith happening. But it took some thought to determine just what type of event would work for people of all religions. Dietary restrictions precluded a group meal, Calin noted. The idea of a religious-tinged event with no specific references to an individual religion seemed to him and others as inviting as a “bland stew,” he said. Then the notion arose to promote unity through music from people of each religion or no religion at all. It’s a space for humans rather than dogma, participants explained. Other groups performing at the event included Middle Collegiate Church, Most-Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, The Sufi Center, St. Mark’s In-the-Bowery, Iglesia Alianza Cristiana y Misionera, and Sixth St. Synagogue. As the crowd dispersed afterward, smiles were visible all around. Hearing the musical sounds of different religions also inspired a certain eagerness among some that there need to be more events such as Spiritual Sounds. “It’s just very beautiful. I can say, ‘moving, awe-inspiring,’ ” said Susan
A flautist from the Sufi Center hit all the right notes.
Schiffman, a member of the Town & Village choir. “The time goes so fast.” On Tuesday, Donovan reported that he went to talk to Imam AbuSufian of the Medina Masjid — whom, he noted has “never missed a gathering or event” in the past — to ask
what happened Sunday. “He was sincerely shocked,” Donovan said. “He had misplaced the date and told his folks that it was the next Sunday. Recently returning from pilgrimage in Mecca, he turns his texting off some days. So he didn’t get
my reminding texts till the following morning. “He deeply apologized to all. We are planning a lunch gathering of faith leaders soon, further discussing ways to gather our youth together. He’s onboard.”
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POLICE BLOTTER Avenue A gunfire
Bad pizza takeout
Shots were reportedly fired in the East Village on Mon., Jan. 26, around 4:45 a.m., in front of 103 Avenue A, at E. Sixth St., the location of Hayaty, a Mediterranean restaurant and hookah lounge. Police responded after multiple callers reported hearing gunshots in the vicinity of the location. Officers conducted a canvass of the area and did not find any victims, but did find six .380-caliber shell casings in front of the address. According to the Ninth Precinct, an eyewitness stated that he was across the street from 103 Avenue A when he heard five to six shots ring out among a large crowd gathered there on the sidewalk. The eyewitness said the crowd members then dispersed, walking off in different directions, some leaving in vehicles. The witness told cops he didn’t know who had the firearm. Police said they are investigating whether the crowd was from Hayaty, which was apparently closing around that time. As for whether this shooting incident was in any way related to two shooting incidents last week on Avenues C and D, a Ninth Precinct source said it’s unknown at this point and is still being investigated.
Police arrested a man in connection with a Jan. 25 burglary of Ribalta Pizza, at 48 E. 12th St. Video surveillance captured footage of a suspect breaking in through the front door and taking $216 from the cash register at about 3:45 a.m. that day. Emilio Maldonado, 63, was charged with burglary.
Vladeck violence On Mon., Jan. 26, at around 11:29 p.m., police responded to a call of a family dispute at the Vladeck Houses inside of 338 Madison St., in a second-floor apartment. Upon arrival, officers determined that a male had barricaded himself inside the apartment with a female. Officers called in the Police Department’s Emergency Service Unit, which responded to the scene and established a dialogue with the suspect. While communicating with him, they heard the woman inside calling for help, stating she was being stabbed by the suspect. Facing a possible life-threatening situation, E.S.U. officers forcibly entered the apartment and observed the man holding a knife to the victim’s neck. The suspect then began to stab the victim, at which point they deployed a Taser to stop him, but it had no effect on the attacker.
January 29, 2015
Scent of a booster Police said the suspect used this knife to stab a woman during a Jan. 26 family dispute at 338 Madison St.
One officer then fired five shots at the suspect, striking him in the torso. E.M.S. medics responded and transported both the suspect — with three stab wounds to the chest — and victim, age 40, to Bellevue Hospital where the suspect was listed in critical but stable condition and the victim was in stable condition. One officer was also removed to Bellevue for ringing in the ears — as a result of the loud gunshots in the confined space — and was treated and released. Brian Quattrocchi, 27, was charged with attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon. His address was given as 1322 Bedford Ave., the Bedford-Atlantic Armory Men’s Shelter.
construction worker “buried up to his waste in soil and rocks” at 413 Grand St. The firefighters got him out.
Unlocky for him
Police reported that a person jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge and landed in the East River on Thurs., Jan. 22, at 11:20 a.m. The jumper was removed from the Manhattan side of the river near Pier 17 and, according to police, did not survive the fall. No further details were provided.
Making a few extra bucks cost one man a felony charge at the W. Fourth St. A train station on Wed., Jan. 21. The man approached a police officer, presumably not in uniform, that night at about 11 p.m., offering her a deal to swipe her through the subway turnstile. The officer then informed more police of the situation. When the other cops saw the wannabe entrepreneur, he sold them two more swipes for an overall deal of three swipes for $5. When the police arrested William James, 32, for illegally selling subway fares that night, they found something else interesting in James’s right inside jacket pocket. They asked him why he had a lock inside of a tied sock. “Because this is New York,” said James, according to a police report. He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon.
Struck by garbage truck Police reported that a man was struck by a garbage truck at Hudson and Barrow Sts. on Wed., Jan. 21, at 11:21 p.m. He suffered a deep laceration to the leg.
Grand St. cave-in On Wed., Jan. 21, at 4:23 p.m., firefighters responded to a report of a
Rivington St. shooting
On Mon., Jan. 26, around 7 p.m., a man, 22, was walking in front of 203 Rivington St. when another man approached and shot him four times in the back, police said. E.M.S. medics responded and transported the victim to an area hospital where he was listed in critical condition. The suspect was described as wearing white sneakers and a black jacket. The shooting’s motive was unclear.
A CVS employee caught a man red-handed as he slipped $63 worth of Dove deodorant into his jacket pocket at the chain store located at 75 Christopher St. The perpetrator attempted to flee after being confronted at about 1:15 a.m. on Tues., Jan. 20. When police caught up with him, they found credit cards and a check not belonging to him on his person, police said. Denys Surhayenko, 25, was charged with petit larceny.
On track for trouble Just after midnight on Wed., Jan. 21, a man sat down on a southbound subway train, then told a fellow straphanger that he had just gotten out of jail and wanted to see his daughter. After saying that, he then hit a 25-year-old man in the chest. Police arrested David Lawrence, 34, at the W. Fourth St. subway station and charged him with misdemeanor assault. Lawrence is a transit recidivist, police say. The victim refused medical attention.
Fat Cat bouncer attack Employees of the Fat Cat at 75 Christopher St. would not let an intoxicated man enter the bar at midnight on Sat., Jan. 24. But the drunken man tried anyway before being grabbed by an employee who planned to escort him back onto the street. Eric Leinward, 25, then allegedly punched the bar employee, 30, in the face, causing him to suffer some swelling, bruising and pain, according to police. Leinward was charged with felony assault.
Lincoln Anderson and Zach Williams TheVillager.com
Robert Marino and his beloved Akita, Bella.
Robert Marino, 61, leading voice for city’s dog owners BY ALBERT AMATEAU
obert Marino, the president of the New York Council of Dog Owner Groups (NYCdog) and an indefatigable advocate for dogs and dog owners, died Dec. 21 after an 18-month-long battle with brain cancer. He was 61. “Every dog and dog owner in New York City owes their use of dog runs and off-leash hours to Bob Marino,” said Lynn Pacifico, a longtime West Village resident and dog advocate. “Every dog and dog owner in Greenwich Village, Tribeca and Soho owes their recreational options in large part to Bob’s help and encouragement. I miss his voice and the wise counsel that he gave during our many midnight conversations. He was a natural leader with vision and a realistic sense of what could and could not be accomplished,” Pacifico said. Robert Marino led the NYCdog group to partner with the Department of Parks and Recreation in 2006 to save off-leash rights in city parks after a legal challenge that sought to enforce leash laws and would have required dogs to be leashed at all times, including in dog runs. An Upper West Side resident, he appeared several times at Community Board 2 meetings to support VilTheVillager.com
lage advocates seeking improvements to local dog runs. Raised on Long Island, Robert Marino attended Copiague High School where he was editor of the student newspaper, The Maverick, and led the struggle against school newspaper censorship. His anti-censorship efforts brought him to Albany where he confronted the governor at the time, Nelson Rockefeller, on the issue. Marino graduated from Syracuse University in 1975 with a bachelor’s of arts degree in political science, and soon moved to New York City where he became active in Democratic Party politics. He went on to study real estate finance at Columbia University Graduate School of Business, earning a master’s degree in 1982 and becoming a leading real estate appraiser. A passionate animal advocate, he adopted many cats and dogs throughout his life. His beloved Akita, Bella, motivated him to help organize NYC dog in 1999 to unite dog owners to promote the establishment and maintenance of dog runs in city parks and to advocate for the designation of offleash areas. His sister, Mary Marino McDonnell, took care of him during the last years of his life. His father, with whom he was very close, died shortly after he did.
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Silver ousted under a cloud after 20 years as speaker SILVER, continued from p. 5
er,” she said. “There’ll be an interim [speaker] for a week or so and then there’ll be an election for a new speaker. “Shelly was charged but is not guilty until the charges are proven,” she reiterated. “Because that can take months, the sense of distraction is something that this institution cannot sustain. “So, it’s sad. ... He had a huge number of key victories,” she said, again rattling off a number of these. “We don’t have a West Side stadium because he knew it was the wrong thing to do. Obviously, we have marriage equality because he put it on the agenda and we voted on it several times before the governor stepped in to help with the Senate.” She also claimed that Silver protected rent regulation. “He has a great record — and it’s very sad,” she concluded. Kavanagh, who has been outspoken in calling for Silver to step down, is a relative newcomer to the Assembly, having only served since 2007. Last Friday, City Councilmember Margaret Chin released a statement
Silver after leaving Federal Court last Thursday.
on Silver in which she stopped short of calling for him to abdicate the speakership. “The charges against Speaker Silver are deeply serious and deeply concerning,” Chin said. “The speaker has been a strong advocate for the Lower Manhattan community, and he has especially been a champion for local schools and affordable housing. I am personally very troubled by these allegations against the speaker, but I will refrain from pass-
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ing judgment on his current legal situation until the judicial process is complete. This must not deter or distract our community from continuing to fight for the renewal of strong rent regulation in Albany and the construction of new public schools in Lower Manhattan.” On the other hand, Councilmember Corey Johnson, in a statement to The Villager, said Silver’s remaining speaker could be a disaster for the city and that he should resign. “In the coming months, decisions will be made in Albany that will affect the lives of millions of New Yorkers,” Johnson said. “Our rent laws are under attack, threatening the ability of thousands to stay in their homes. Mayoral control of our schools is on the table. The legal troubles of Sheldon Silver are much more than a distraction. A leadership vacuum in the Assembly may have catastrophic consequences for New York. For this reason, I believe it is time for Sheldon Silver to step down as speaker or resign.” Similarly, the Downtown Independent Democrats political club, at a special meeting last Sunday, voted to call for Silver’s resignation and for immediate Albany reform. The D.I.D. resolution said: “Given the serious charges against Sheldon Silver and the important business for the people of the State of New York that needs to be attended to, the Downtown Independent Democrats call for Sheldon Silver to immediately step down as Speaker of the New York State Assembly.” The Village Independent Democrats have not yet considered a resolution on Silver since the story broke. But Nadine Hoffmann, the club’s newly elected president, said, in her view, Silver should step down. “My own personal feeling is that of deep disappointment,” she said. “As an assemblymember and speaker, Silver made important decisions that
benefitted New York City, including his budget battles that turned back many cuts to city services. While I believe in ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ he should resign his speakership until his innocence or guilt is proven.” V.I.D. next meets on Mon., Feb. 2, and “who knows what will happen then,” she noted. Among the names mentioned as the most likely permanent replacement for Silver have been Morelle, Wright, Joseph Lentol from Greenpoint, Carl Heastie from the Bronx and Cathy Nolan from Queens. Glick, too, has at times in the past been mentioned as a possible candidate for speaker. Asked about that last Thursday, though, she said, “I’m not going to engage in any musings or hypotheticals at this point.” In the eventuality that Silver is, in fact, convicted of a felony, meaning his Assembly seat would become open, there is no shortage of candidates who would be ready to run for the position. Some names that have been mentioned include his former primary opponent Newell; Julie Menin, the current Department of Consumer Affairs commissioner and former Community Board 1 chairperson; and Alan van Capelle, former executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda and current president of the Educational Alliance. “An Asian person would be a very good choice, considering the population,” offered Hank Sheinkopf, the veteran Democratic political strategist. As for Silver, Sheinkopf said, at the end of the day, his record on the issues that matter remains very strong and merits respect. “He has been absolutely on the right side of the big issues,” he said, “and he deserves his day in court — even if he didn’t do the right thing.”
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Younger teens can now be on community board team TEEN C.B., continued from p. 1
PHOTO BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC
17-years-old to be members of a New York City community board. As the application for this year is about to draw to a close — Jan. 30 at 5 p.m. is the deadline — this will be the first time that teenagers can apply and be legally appointed. In a packed room at her 1 Centre St. office, Brewer started the meeting by talking about the long road that led to the legislation’s passage. Brewer, who was a part of a community board for 10 years, said she first got the idea when she was a city councilmember and thought about having teenagers younger than 18 vote. “We should have young people vote in city elections,” she said. When that idea failed to gain support — although she says she hasn’t given up on it — she turned her sights to 16- and 17-years-old being a part of the community boards. “It’s a huge deal,” declared Brewer, who said that the teens could be a part of “real stuff that goes on in the neighborhood. I am so excited to have all of you here,” she told the group. The law applies to the city’s 55 community boards. Manhattan has 12 boards, and every year there are up to 300 seats potentially open. Each member serves a two-year term, and the borough president and local city councilmembers select them. Half of the members are up for reappointment each year. Brewer said the majority of community boards have been receptive, albeit with some a little nervous about the prospect of teens serving. She said later that some board chairpersons may have to be sensitized to the issue. “I’ve been to thousands of community board meetings in my lifetime and there is not a youth voice,” the borough president stressed. “The young people in some of these high schools are extraordinary. They’re voice needs to be out there.” Brewer said she thinks the youth can add “realistic agendas, things that need to be addressed.” There have already been several meetings to generate interest and Brewer said one in Washington Heights turned out 50 young people. Naturally, she said, the teens are very interested in youth-related issues. “When I speak about what the office is doing and I talk about land use and so on and so forth...,” she said. “And then I talk about 16- and 17-years-old, they all start clapping. Land use, nothing. There’s a huge interest.” At the meeting, each potential applicant took turns introducing him- or herself, stating their age and school or university. They ranged from 15 to 21 and people were from all over Manhattan as well as some from Brooklyn. Heebong Kim, 17, is a C.B. 1 hopeful and attends Stuyvesant High School in Battery Park City. “I never felt that I had political capital,” he said. “Especially as a youth where no one votes, I felt like the political scene was really dominated by older persons.” Passionate about environmental science, Kim lives in Flushing, Queens, but wants to serve on C.B. 1 — he is eligible since he attends school in the district — and has already gone to meetings. “I didn’t feel that government had a place for me,” he said. “To have a more active role in that process would just be incredible — especially at 17. I never thought I could do this even at 18.”
“We’re aware of that and it’s something that we will take into consideration,” said Brewer. “You could also serve a year, and then when you go off, we’ll have to find somebody else. It’s a hard one.” Brewer said that this doesn’t count against an applicant, and that there could be one, two or three teens serving on a community board. “We try to look for the best people to represent the neighborhood,” said Brewer. “I am really committed to making sure that every community board has young people on it.” A school project that focusLeila Eliot, 16, a new C.B. 3 member, second from left, and other young people interested in community boards and participants in a es on “social action” spurred Hector Hicks, 17, to come to the mock budget exercise. meeting. Hicks lives in Midtown and attends Pace High The meeting gave the teens the opportunity to learn community board basics and ask questions School, at 100 Hester St. The project to help the specific to their age and circumstances: balancing community got him and his classmates thinking board duties with school homework, going off to about the park near their school that they frequent, Sara D. Roosevelt Park. college and working with mostly adults. Hicks said the meeting spurred him to find out Leila Eliot, 16, was recently selected to be a part of C.B. 3 and talked about her experience of being whether the park is publicly or privately funded a teen board member. Brewer said Eliot is the first and whether they need to go before the commuyoung person to legally serve on a community nity board to get help renovating it. He’s unsure about applying since he is graduating this year, but board in the United States. “There is a big lapse in my community,” Eliot said, if he did, he would want to join a Lower Mansaid. “There are teenagers who don’t get to say hattan board, instead of one where he lives. At the meeting, the teens were broken up into what they feel, say what they think, have a voice in four groups for a budget exercise activity. With a their local community.” She attends Bard High School Early College, at $100 million surplus, each member had some time 525 East Houston St., and talked about how it is dif- to determine how they would spend the money for ficult to get homework done on nights that she has certain areas, such as affordable housing or parks. Then the tricky part: debating and discussing board meetings and the need for time management. “It’s definitely a time commitment,” agreed Aus- with the group how they wanted to allocate the tin Ochoa, who was 19 when he joined C.B. 4 last funds. It was harder than it looked, with one group going down to the wire to make the allocations. year. After each group presented what it would Ochoa, now 20, fielded questions about issues community boards tackle. He talked about C.B. 4’s spend, Matthew Washington, chairperson of C.B. focus on affordable housing and noted that the job 11, spoke about his experience of being on a community board. is “365 days.” Washington joined his community board at 22 “It’s going to be interesting to bring the next generation into the fold,” said Ochoa, who attends and at that time, he was the youngest member by City College and cites current City Councilmem- 15 years. He was elected chairperson at age 26 and ber Corey Johnson, who is a former C.B. 4 chair- has been at the helm for the past five years. “I think it’s incredible that you’re all here,” he person, as one of his idols. Some of the teens were concerned about leaving said. “It’s exciting because we get to give our voice to what is happening in our community.” for college after serving on the board for a year.
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Aftermath: Sifting through the wreckage in Gaza
PHOTOS BY Q. SAKAMAKI
January 29, 2015
In October, Q. Sakamaki, the renowned international conflict photographer and former longtime East Villager, was in Gaza documenting conditions after last summerâ€™s 50-day Israel-Gaza war. On this page, top, a Bedouin family on a donkey cart passed a destroyed building in Beit Hanoun. Below, Hala Islam Mislh, 4, held her tank-shell-melted car toy while posing in her heavily damaged house in Al Auda, in Beit Hanoun. She and eight other family members escaped harm because they had been out for a feast when the house was hit. Opposite page, top, a Palestinian man salvaged a door from the debris of his home, blasted by air strikes, in Alshjaia. Bottom, in Khozaâ€™a, near the Israeli border, a Palestinian family has breakfast at their home, which was damaged by air strikes. Though the house is dangerous to stay in, they cannot move or rent rooms, since there is almost no space available for rent after the war. TheVillager.com
January 29, 2015
When Silver was still a heavy hitter FILE PHOTO BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER
Sheldon Silver in happier days, throwing out the first pitch at the Downtown Little League’s Opening Day in 2013. Silver worked to get the Sandy-damaged Battery Park City ball fields back open in time for the start of the spring baseball season. The league moved the traditional Saturday Opening Day to Sunday so that Silver, who is Orthodox Jewish, could participate and they could thank them.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Real Chumley’s is long gone To The Editor: The headline on Karen Butler’s letter in your Jan. 15 issue said it all: “No to faux Chumley’s.” From across the street, where I’ve lived for the better part of 30 years, it’s clear that, except for the facade, 86 Bedford St., the former Chumley’s, has been completely torn down and rebuilt. The building is less than 10 years old from subbasement to roof. As a result (Butler’s letter said it well), 86 Bedford is nothing more than “the site
where Chumley’s once stood.” So much for historic authenticity. And another point: “No to faux nostalgia about Chumley’s.” In some alternative universe, talented writers “with good hands and good hearts” might, as Clare Gailey claimed in her letter in the same issue (“Writers need Chumley’s”), gather at a new bar at 86 Bedford St. to find “moments of sustenance” for their lonely literary work. But in the universe where we actually live, the people who used to flock to Chumley’s — like the
people who will pour in if the bar at 86 Bedford reopens — are a somewhat different crowd. As New York magazine put it, years ago: “[During prime drinking time...the crowd is more J. Crew than T.S. Eliot, making the place feel like a fraternity reunion.” One Yelp posting from 2007, before Chumley’s closed, confirmed: “Yeah, some great writers used to gather here, but not anymore.” Another highlighted Chumley’s as a “justification for true drunken debauchery.” My only quarrel with drunken debauchery is when it staggers out onto Bedford St. — late at night and early in the morning, in a noisy group whose members stand around saying stupid things to each other in very loud voices, arguing and occasionally fighting, until they finally get tired and move on. Before Chumley’s closed, that kind of disturbance was routine. It will be the same if Chumley’s make-believe successor opens at the same address. Bottom line: If the world really needs a DisneyChumley’s, put it in Times Square, where the tourists can get to it more easily, and the Bedford St. neighborhood will be spared yet another midnight choir of drunks. Bryan Dunlap LETTERS, continued on p. 24
January 29, 2015
Bob the Painter: Memories of Robert De Niro, Sr. NOTEBOOK BY MINERVA DURHAM
hat a handsome man he was when I first saw him in the autumn of 1977 standing in the kitchen of his exwife, Virginia Admiral, in her loft on the corner of Spring and Lafayette in Soho, New York City. Tall, lean, somewhat rugged but graceful, Bob De Niro, Sr. had a full head of brown curly hair, thin lips, a raspy voice, and a nose that arched just enough to give him a dignified profile. He was grateful, he said, for three things: “First, I am thankful that we donʼt have to go to Englewood, New Jersey, for Thanksgiving dinner; second, I am thankful that I donʼt live in Russia.” I didnʼt take note of the third cause of his rejoicing. It didnʼt matter. I knew right away that I wanted to be his friend. He grew up in Syracuse, N.Y. His parents met at a party in an Irish neighborhood in Syracuse. Henry De Niro crashed the party claiming to be a visitor from Cuba. He danced with Helen OʼReilly and walked her home. At her parentsʼ front door he kissed her. Engendered by that kiss were thousands of paintings and drawings, scores of movies and, eventually, billions of dollars worth of prime real estate deals in Manhattan. After kissing Helen OʼReilly, Henry De Niro confessed that he was Italian, not Cuban, and that he lived across town, not in Cuba. Helen was pleased by his confession and thought that he was a gentleman. They married, and their first-born was Bob, baptized Robert Henry De Niro. He was a beautiful child with blond curls, so beautiful that his father feared as he grew older that “pederasts” would seek him out and corrupt him. Henry beat his son. Bob never forgave his father, nor did he easily forgive his mother for allowing the beatings. As a teenager he found a second home at the Syracuse Art Museum where his talent was recognized and he was given a place to draw and paint. He ran away in his mid-teens to Goose Rockʼs Beach, Maine, where there was a teacher named Eliot OʼHara, the artist-author of two self-help books, “Making Watercolor Behave” (1932) and “Making the Brush Behave” (1935.) He arrived at the beach in the dark, late. OʼHaraʼs son suggested that he could sleep on the deck of OʼHaraʼs boat until morning. Finding Bob asleep early in the morning, TheVillager.com
Robert De Niro, Sr. and Minerva Durham at an art opening in the early 1980s.
OʼHara was furious and ordered him to leave. One wonders about the scene, though. Was the older artist reacting on some level to Bobʼs youth and beauty, or was he just angry that there was a stranger asleep on his boat? Virginia Admiral, a Midwesterner whose parents relocated to the far West when she was young, met Bob at Hans Hofmannʼs school in Provincetown in the early ’40s. Her teachers in California had studied with Hofmann earlier and they encouraged her to go east to study with him. Soon Bob and Virginia were lovers, but not exclusive lovers. Anais Nin has written about an argument that they had over Bobʼs being lovers with Virginiaʼs friend, Robert Duncan, the poet. The passage, I believe, is in Nin’s diary covering 1943. When Virginia’s younger sister gave birth to a son in California, she traveled to see the baby. Back in New York, she told Bob that they must marry so that she could have a child too. “We canʼt marry,” Bob told her. “I’m homosexual.” “No youʼre not,” she said. They married. Virginia was 28 and Bob was 21 when their son Bobby was born. Mariann Nowack introduced me to Virginia Admiral in October 1977, when I arrived in New York. She described Virginia as being an interesting woman, an artist, writer and political activist, whose son was becoming a famous actor. “Taxi Driver” had come out the year before. Bobby’s fame was just beginning to become a nuisance. Eventually everyone around Virginia learned the drill: Never tell anyone that she was the mother of the
famous actor. Never bring anyone to the loft who wanted to meet the mother of the actor. Deny that she was the mother of Robert De Niro if anyone were to ask. Virginia had just retired from running a small typing and printing company. She returned to painting and drawing but found it difficult to get started again and to spend long periods of time making art. She felt that she needed someone disciplined like me to keep her drawing every day. There was plenty of space in her loft and she had a large circle of friends, many of whom had worked for her as typists when she was running her business. I began to spend every day in Virginia’s loft with her, her friend Ruth Fortel and Mariann. We drew each other, nude or clothed, or drew the many plants in the loft, or we set up still lives. Occasionally we hired nude models. Nights I either stayed over with Virginia downtown or I slept at my sister’s on the Upper West Side. Virginia, loyal to the teachings of Hans Hofmann, did not approve of the way I drew. She considered my approach to be too realistic, academic and illustrative. “Canʼt you get her to stop drawing like that?” she once asked Mariann. Bob, a frequent visitor to Virginiaʼs loft, defended me, saying that it didnʼt matter how I drew, as long as I continued to work. He accused Mariann and Virginia of being jealous of me because I found it easy to work hard. Of course, I loved him for defending me. A year later I got a job proofreading and found a little tenement apartment on the corner of Kenmare and Mulberry, around the corner from Virginiaʼs loft. My teenage
daughter Teva came to New York to live with me. One late afternoon Dick Brewer, an old friend of both Virginia’s and Bob’s, made plans to see my drawings. He telephoned me on the way over to complain that Bob was insisting on coming too, and that he was sorry but he couldnʼt shake him. But I was delighted that Bob wanted to see my work. Teva and I lived in three rooms, a walk-in kitchen, a small middle room and an even smaller bedroom which was nearly all bed. In the middle room I pulled out recently drawn pastels for Dick and Bob to see, some life-sized nude portraits of friends, and tabletop still lives of fruit and memorabilia. Without being asked to comment on the work, Bob began a fierce critique. “The whole is not greater than the sum of the parts,” or “the whole IS greater...” sounded at first like a cliché, but I have used Bobʼs signature criticism for years since I first heard him say it. At one point I walked into the kitchen and Teva followed me. “Are you crying?” she asked me. “Crying? Why would I be crying?” I responded. “Arenʼt your feelings hurt?” she asked. “He is saying mean things about your drawings.” “No,” I said. “He is giving me just what I need. He has a good eye. Now I know which drawings can be shown, and which ones should be thrown out.” From that point on, I took Bob to be my mentor, but, to tell the truth, he never took me to be his mentee. But we were good friends, like family, going to openings and parties and performances together. For years I cut his hair because he had the sort of hair that I could cut and shape easily although I never studied hairdressing. The curls were forgiving and he wanted to save money. Looking back on the haircuts now, I view the experience as classic primate grooming behavior, asexual touching that reinforces bonds of affection. As the sun went down outside, the middle room darkened. “Turn the lights on,” Bob said. I told him the truth, which was that I hadnʼt replaced the overhead light bulb because I needed to spend all of our money on food. So Bob insisted that we go out then and there to buy some light bulbs at the nearest bodega. The four of us walked two blocks to Prince and Mott and stood giggling at the checkout counter of the bodega that used to be on the corner, and we chose a package of bulbs. Bob paid. It was “La Vie de Bohème” all over again. January 29, 2015
PHOTOS COURTESY P.S. 3 PAC
At the forum, Diane Ravitch, above left, urged parents to “opt out” of the deluge of prescribed tests. After her remarks, audience members broke down into working groups.
Ravitch urges parents to buck testing obsession
ast Wed., Jan. 21, around 200 parents, teachers and school activists attended a forum in Greenwich Village at P.S. 3 to protest what they slammed as the “test-obsessed” public school system.
January 29, 2015
Diane Ravitch, the former U.S. secretary of education, was the keynote speaker at the event, sponsored by the Parent Action Committee of P.S. 3. Ravitch urged audience members to join the “Opt-Out” move-
ment and refuse to allow their children to take the tests. If enough parents join the effort, she said, the powers that be will have to get the message. After Ravitch’s speech, the crowd broke down into groups to work on
alternatives to the testing system. Yet, the same night as the P.S. 3 event, Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his State of the State address, said teacher evaluations should be based even more heavily on their students’ test scores.
The Borscht Belt, Revisited Catskills photos tell a story of time, nature, people ECHOES OF THE BORSCHT BELT: CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARISA SCHEINFELD On View through April 12 © MARISA SCHEINFELD, 2011
At Yeshiva University Museum, at the Center for Jewish History 15 W. 16th St. (btw. 5th & 6th Aves.) Sun. Tues. & Thurs., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon. 5 p.m.–8 p.m. Wed. 11 a.m.–8p.m. Fri. 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Admission: $8 ($6 for students/seniors) Free Mon. & Wed. 5–8 p.m. Info: 212-294-8330 and yumuseum.org Visit marisascheinfeld.com
BY NORMAN BORDEN
n an era when weekend jaunts to Florida or weeklong Caribbean cruises are commonplace, Marisa Scheinfeld’s engaging images of the ruins of Borscht Belt hotels are a poignant reminder of a way of life that no longer exists. For generations of Jews, vacationing in the Catskill Mountains 90 miles from New York City was like a rite of passage. You would pile TheVillager.com
At the coffee shop of Grossinger’s Catskill Resort and Hotel, in Liberty, NY, all that’s recognizable are 10 dust-covered green stools.
into the family car, head northwest on Route 17 and soon you were in “the mountains,” also known as the Borscht Belt — a 250 square mile region that, over the years, would have a profound influence on Jewish culture and identity. The big resorts like Grossinger’s, The Concord, The Nevele and Kutsher’s pioneered the all-inclusive vacation: three meals a day, Kosher or Kosher-style cuisine, and no one blinked if you ordered two or three main courses plus four desserts. The big hotels’ menus also included golf, tennis, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, childcare, ballroom dancing, nightclubs, and…then it was time for breakfast again. Besides the food, another main attraction of the big hotels during their golden years — the 1940s, ‘50s, ‘60s and early ‘70s — was the enter-
tainment. Playing the Borscht Belt was virtually mandatory for young Jewish comedians. Some, like Mel Brooks, Danny Kaye and Red Buttons, started out as “tummlers,” a Yiddish word for someone whose job was to create excitement or laughter as guests left the dining rooms or swimming pools. Buddy Hackett, Billy Crystal, Woody Allen, Henny Youngman and countless other comedians toured the big hotels. There were also shows with performers like a young Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan and, well, you get the picture — the Borscht Belt rocked. In the mid ‘60s, at the peak of its popularity, there were over 600 hotels and 400 bungalow colonies in the region. Grossinger’s was serving 150,000 guests a year. Marisa Scheinfeld missed the
Borscht Belt’s golden years – she was only six years old when her family moved to a town near the Concord in 1986. Still, she says, “Kutsher’s and The Concord were a big part of my childhood. I spent weekends playing there. But I didn’t realize the hotels were virtually empty in the 1980s compared to what they were like in the ‘50s and ‘60s.” The fact is, by the late 1960s, the Catskills had lost their appeal for the younger generation. Jet planes, air conditioning and changes in society all played a role. As the hotels and bungalow colonies lost their customer base, they started to close one by one. Grossinger’s called it quits in 1986. The Laurels closed in the late ‘80s and burned down in the ‘90s. The Concord shut down in 1998 and was demolished in 2000. Now, all that’s left there are piles of rubble — and memories. Scheinfeld began photographing the hotels’ remains in 2009 when she was a graduate student at San Diego State. Her mentor had advised her to “shoot what you know.” Since she was very interested in documenting ruins and sites where events had occurred, shooting in her own backyard — The Catskills — made perfect sense. The artist explains, “I began the project by using my vacation time to go home and find old pictures of the area. I decided to use a technique called ‘re-photography,’ which involves finding an old picture of a place, then going to that site, lining everything up and photographing what it looks like now.” After taking a series of re-photography images, she realized they could become originals. CATSKILLS, continued on p.18 January 29, 2015
Contemplating the Catskills legacy FILM SCREENING, Q&A AND OPEN GALLERY On Mon., Feb. 2, trace modern standlistening to the tales of those who were there when it all began. Sid Caesar, Joe Franklin, Jackie Mason and Jerry Stiller are among those featured in the documentary “When Comedy When to School.” There will be a Q&A featuring comedian, singer and actor Robert Klein after the screening — which is preceded by a gallery viewing with “Echoes of the Borscht Belt” photographer Marisa Scheinfeld. Tickets: $8, $6 for seniors, students, CJH and YUM members. For reservations, visit smarttix.com. Open Gallery at 6 p.m., screening at 7 p.m. For info on the film: whencomedhywenttoschool.com.
On Thurs., March 26 at 6 p.m., Marisa Scheinfeld is joined by historian and Forward columnist Jenna Weissman Joselit for a lively discussion about the history, legacy and future of the Borscht Belt. Tickets: $8, $6 for students, seniors and YUM members through smarttix.com.
January 29, 2015
Pioneers of stand-up comedy join their modern counterparts, in the Catskills documentary “When Comedy Went to School.” Robert Klein does the Q&A thing following a Feb. 2 screening.
© MARISA SCHEINFELD, 2013
THE BORSCHT BELT — PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE
Doing more research, she found hotels she never knew existed. “I was searching for any traces of the era.” Local people, family, friends, and even the police helped (they helped her contact a hotel owner whose permission she needed). Scheinfeld comments, “I couldn’t have done this project if I hadn’t grown up around here.” Discovering sites like Grossinger’s, she says, “It was sad to see modern ruins where the rooms had become jungles and swimming pools had turned into outdoor ponds with fish swimming around. After I’d photographed a tree growing out of a floor in an indoor pool, I realized there was a story here although I didn’t know what it was at the time.” She concluded that her photographs could tell a story about the effects of time, nature and people on a place. “I saw that the ruins were really alive, but they were no longer being used as places of leisure as originally intended. Dining rooms had become paint ball war zones, kids had turned showrooms into skate parks and wild turkeys lived in other rooms.” The 23 large color images in the exhibition document many of these changes. In the Grossinger’s coffee shop image, all that’s recognizable are 10 dust-covered green stools. Their fading color is a sharp contrast to all the devastation, which looks man-made. Even more devastation is apparent in the picture of Grossinger’s lobby. The starkness, graffiti, paint ball splotches and inane scrawled profanities do grab your attention. The image of Grossinger’s indoor pool #2 feels ghostly; the chaise lounge looks pristine, as if someone had just left for a swim, but the green carpet underneath is very thick moss — it’s nature at work for decades. The
COURTESY OF THE FILMMAKERS
up comedy to its Catskill roots, by
CATSKILLS, continued from p. 17
Dining rooms had become paint ball war zones, kids had turned showrooms into skate parks and wild turkeys lived in other rooms, when Marisa Scheinfeld revisited the Catskill Mountains haunts of her youth. Here, what was once the lobby of Grossinger’s Catskill Resort and Hotel.
hotel building, still intact, is visible through the rear windows. Several re-photograph diptychs are also part of the show. In one, an undated publicity photograph of The Laurel’s indoor pool ringed by frolicking young adults is displayed next to Scheinfeld’s 2011 photograph of the same pool, devoid of life, filled with snow and surrounded by trees. And her collection of ephemera, ranging from hotel postcards and menus to a big Concord button that says “Ask about Big Thursday,” fuels the memories. They’re all signs of life, long gone. For those who spent time in the mountains, Scheinfeld’s work evokes waves of nostalgia and awe. I, for one, found the image of The Concord’s remains — giant piles of rubble — particularly sad. How
could the final demise of the Borscht Belt’s largest resort come so quickly and completely while other hotels died a slow death? No doubt a developer’s plans or hopes were waylaid, but it’s still not a pretty picture. But many here — in their own way — are quite memorable. Norman Borden is a New York-based writer and photographer. The author of more than 100 reviews for NYPhotoReview.com and a member of Soho Photo Gallery and ASMP, his image “Williamsburg” was chosen by juror Jennifer Blessing, Curator of Photography at the Guggenheim, for inclusion in the 2014 competition issue of “The Photo Review.” He is also exhibiting in Soho Photo’s annual Krappy Kamera ® exhibition, Feb. 4–28. Visit normanbordenphoto.com. TheVillager.com
A Romeo for the rabble
Well-trod staple plays like a spoofy comedy THEATER THE TRAGEDY OF ROMEO AND JULIET Through Feb. 8 Tues., Thurs., Sat. & Sun. at 8 p.m. Fri. at 7 p.m. & 10 p.m., with matinees every Sun. at 2 p.m. At The Gym at Judson 243 Thompson St. | btw. South Washington Square & 3rd St. Tickets: $45 PHOTO BY JON HESS
For $75, seating up front gets you one drink and the opportunity to interact with the characters Reservations at shakespeareinthesquare.com
BY DAVID KENNERLEY
he title is “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet” but that matters little to the upstart Shakespeare in the Square theater company, known as SITS. Its latest effort, a revamping of the well-trod staple, often plays like a spoofy comedy. And yes, the comedy is intentional. This conceit aligns perfectly with this troupe’s penchant for breaking rules and blasting expectations, all in service to making the Bard’s work more accessible to the common folk. Which, if you think about it, was the intent when the plays were first staged in the late 16th century. If the goal, according to director and SITS cofounder Dan Hasse, is to “blow the dust off Shakespeare’s plays and revive the original bear-baiting, beer-drinking rowdiness of Elizabethan theater,” then consider its mission accomplished. Polished production values, evenness of tone, and cadenced line delivery are not the priority here. It starts when you enter the austere black-box space at the Gym at Judson and are confronted with a booth selling beer and wine. Cast TheVillager.com
Elise Kibler and Taylor Myers in the Shakespeare in the Square production of “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.”
members are already at work, belting out spirited songs — though instead of Elizabethan ballads, we hear ditties by the likes of David Bowie. A host of sorts repeatedly beckons you to imbibe and enjoy. Calculated casualness is a large part of the evening’s appeal. Four lucky volunteers are escorted to the prime seats flanking the stage for a more immersive experience, a nod to the viewing gallery overlooking Elizabethan stages. During the Capulet masked ball scene, these VIPs join the revelry onstage and are given a free drink. From time to time, cast members cavort with these and other audience members. The setting is intimate — I counted only 60 seats in the house. This anything-goes spirit is at once genial and inclusive. Hasse allows his five actors, former NYU acting students who tackle multiple roles with abandon, a wide berth to interpret the iconic characters. Quite a few are played with the winking broadness of sketch comedy. Except for Juliet, female roles are played by men, as originally staged. While some theatergoers will be amused by this madcap approach, others will surely be rankled. As Romeo, the son of Mon-
tague, the strapping Taylor Myers, deftly handles the evolution from lovelorn reject to love-struck husband. Myers’ Lady Capulet is convincing, though he’s less successful delineating his minor roles. Chris Dooly brings a menacing intensity to the role of Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt, as he defends the honor of the House of Capulet, and his Paris makes a tantalizing suitor for the young Juliet. The lone female cast member, Elise Kibler, portrays 13-year-old Juliet with an alluring blend of innocence and pluck, though is less
confident with her secondary roles. In a few weeks, look for Kibler in her Broadway debut, where she appears alongside Elisabeth Moss and Jason Biggs in “The Heidi Chronicles.” The tireless Jack de Sanz plays Juliet’s nurse for laughs, and he often gets them. Rounding out the cast is Constantine Malahias, who shifts easily from the devoted Mercutio, Romeo’s best bud, to the gruff Lord Capulet. Forsaking period costumes, designer Liz McGlone mostly opts for everyday garb that appears pulled from the actors’ closets, such as tight black jeans for Myers and Dooly, and a basic black dress for Kibler. Although minor quick-changes help distinguish characters — a corset morphs Romeo into Lady Capulet, thick-rimmed glasses mark Paris — a few more identifiers would have helped. SITS prides itself on dissecting the First Folio, the definitive version of Shakespeare’s works published in 1623, and restoring original passages and correcting errors often included in modern productions. Accustomed to performing outdoors in Washington Square Park for a shifting, often distracted crowd, this is the five-year-old company’s first official Off-Broadway production indoors. The rough edges, however, are less easily overlooked by a paying audience in a bona fide theater. Not only is the troupe bent on delivering a good time to theatergoers, they are clearly having a blast themselves. Did actors improvise and crack each other up in Shakespeare’s day? This vibrant albeit warped production has us believing they did indeed.
January 29, 2015
Restaurant exhibit offers food for thought Anya Rubin’s surreal paintings are a visual feast
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
“Above the City” (2011-13 | Digital Rendering on Duratran, Light Box, 35x35).
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
“Tatiana Eva Marie” (2014 | Oil on Canvas, 40x40).
“Falling” (2014 | Digital Rendering on Duratran, Light Box, 48x36).
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
ANYA RUBIN: “A DUET OF ARTAND FOOD” At Duet Brasserie 37 Barrow St. at Seventh Ave. On view daily, from Feb. 3–10, during regular restaurant hours Visit duetny.com Call 212-255-5416 For artist info, visit anyarubin.com
January 29, 2015
ailed by the Italian publication Effetto Arte for her surreal works that integrate digital and traditional tools of the trade, painter Anya Rubin excels at depicting a culture struggling to evolve at the same pace as technology. Floating brains, human bodies with animal heads, selfie portraits and the frequent presence of a motherboard grid as backdrop are potent critiques of the current zeitgeist. Created with acrylics, enamels and oils (often back-lit within light boxes), her cutting observations are frequently accompanied by a sly dash of humor — one that seems rooted in curiosity and concern
rather than irony and disdain. That’s best illustrated in one of the light box works, “Falling.” Although connected through the computer, Rubin sees the human race as “more animal than brain-functioning beings. We are falling through the motherboard grid away from our brains — as if we were on an upward path to get to the brain but we just can’t make it and keep falling.” This salon exhibition is hosted by the West Village’s Duet Brasserie restaurant. Executive Chef/ Partner, Dmitry Rodov (who, like the artist, is of Russian heritage) has created a special dish inspired by Rubin’s vivid color palette and compositions. A percentage of proceeds from that dish, as well as from the sale of Rubin’s work, will be donated to The Museum of Russian Art in Jersey City, New Jersey. TheVillager.com
Just Do Art PHOTO BY JOSEPH BENSIMON
Audience members act out online dating scenarios, by following mp3 directions. “The Human Symphony” plays through Feb. 14.
COURTESY OF MONK IN MOTION
Brooklyn’s own Adam O’Farrill performs on Feb. 28, at the final “Monk in Motion” concert.
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center and the Thelonious Monk Institute’s annual partnership concert series returns, with performances by the finalists from 2014’s Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. Three top trumpet players emerged from a Gala Concert event last November, chosen by a judging panel whose members included Quincy Jones and Arturo Sandoval. Each will appear with their combos, performing selections that demonstrate the versatility and skill that made them winners. The winner, Chicago native and current NYC resident Marquis Hill, snared a recording contract with Concord Music Group and secured the opening Jan. 31 slot. On Feb. 14, Billy Buss (who backed up saxophonist Godwin Louis during last year’s series) returns to the “Monk in Motion” stage, this time as a runner-up. Brookynite and respected composer Adam O’Farrill (second runner-up) closes the series, on Feb. 28. All shows at 7:30 p.m. In Theater 2 at TheVillager.com
THE NEW YORK NEO-FUTURISTS present “THE HUMAN SYMPHONY”
Those hardworking New York New Futurists deserve a break, considering the pressure they’re under. This is the troupe that performs 30 plays in 60 minutes, twice a week, in the East Village (“Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind”). For their new mainstage production (created and directed by Dylan Marron), you might be the one tasked with breathing life into various permutations of the human condition. These funny, tragic, uplifting, depressing and deeply bizarre scenarios were culled from Marron’s trolling of the web for, well, people who troll the web…for love. The result, “The Human Symphony,” creates a performance ensemble culled from random-
PHOTO BY SHERVIN LAINEZ
MONK IN MOTION: THE NEXT FACE OF JAZZ
BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center (199 Chambers St. | btw. Greenwich Ave. & West St.). Tickets are $25 for each concert (students/seniors $15). Purchase by calling 212-220-1460, at the box office or at tribecapac.org. For info on the artists, visit monkinstitute.org. Stranger Cat is part of a female-fronted lineup, at the Feb. 6 installment of Chelsea Market’s new monthly music series.
ly selected audience members. They follow instructions given to them via mp3 tracks, providing the remaining viewers with firsthand accounts of Internet dating in NYC. Through Feb. 14. Mon., Wed. & Sat at 8 pm. Sun. at 3 p.m. At The New Ohio (the Archive Building at 154 Christopher St. | btw. Greenwich & Washington Sts.). Tickets are $18 online, $20 at the door. For reservations and info, visit nynf.org.
“CHELSEA NIGHTS” FREE CONCERT SERIES
The music in the air has a pleasing indie vibe, when a triple bill of talent appears in the February edition of this
new concert series, curated by Brooklyn’s Paper Garden record label. On the first Friday of every month, local artists perform in the halls of Chelsea Market, with occasional breaks to hand out some mighty sweet swag. This month, raffle winners will walk away with a Crosley turntable, a PGR vinyl pack, a Mailchimp hat, a Chelsea Market cookbook and more. The female-fronted lineup features Little Strike at 6:30 p.m., Stranger Cat at 7:15 p.m. and Salt Cathedral at 8 p.m. For a preview of their various strengths and styles, check out littlestrike.com, strangercat.com and saltcathedralmusic.com. Free. Fri., Feb. 6 with sets beginning at 6:30 p.m. At Chelsea Market (75 9th Ave. | btw. 15th & 16th Sts.). For more info, visit chelseamarket.com. January 29, 2015
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Continued from p. 14
Part of waterfront’s rebirth To The Editor: Re “Praise and excitement versus fear and loathing at Pier55 public hearing” (news article, Jan. 15): I am writing to voice my full support for the Pier55 project. As a resident of Greenwich Village, a theater director in the Downtown community and father of two children, I think it would be an amazing addition to the neighborhood. I have lived in New York City for more than 20 years and have seen up close the transformation of Hudson River Park. I feel the addition of performance venues and more green space that Pier55 offers could only be seen as a welcome addition. It is clear that more families are remaining in the city — rather than moving out, as they did in the past — so the culture and green space is needed now more than ever. Bob McGrath McGrath is director, Ridge Theater
Philanthropy and air rights To The Editor: Re “Praise and excitement versus fear and loathing at Pier55 public hearing” (news article, Jan. 15): Whether Diller’s pier is a gift horse or a Trojan horse, it still begs the question why similar philanthropy has not emerged to salvage the best and biggest pier in the park. One wonders if Madelyn Wils even broached the subject of using Diller’s bequest to rebuild Pier 40, which could easily support and accommodate a lot of performance spaces, as well as young athletes and us car parkers. Manhattan is chock-full of Dillers and von Furstenburgs who could enjoy seeing their name on the pier and the admiration and gratitude of all who want to save it. Where are they? Is it possible the Hudson River Park Trust is doggedly determined that Pier 40 must only become a commercialized profit center? As for the air-rights transfer legislation, the main problem is it’s 20 years too late. Most of the development sites along the river are already sprouting luxury buildings or just about to. It’s criminal that everyone of authority or influence dillydallied for two decades before doing the obvious. The best hope for Pier 40 and the best remaining site for its unused development rights is the St. John’s Center building, and I say, get on with it! Now. Sell them some air rights — but also get a permanent cash flow for the park from the commercial and luxury leases that the larger building there will create. The two structures are such a poetically matched pair. An old rail terminal and an old ship terminal. Let a large-scale private development of one sup-
January 29, 2015
port the preservation of the other as a large-scale public amenity. The riverfront is already being developed by the global influx of wealth into Manhattan, and that cannot be stopped any more than you can stop the tides of a Superstorm Sandy. Better to absorb some of that energy for good uses. Otherwise, I think Diller Island will provide a terrific viewing spot to watch Pier 40 and my car get washed away. Chris Gaylord
Art pier is great for kids To The Editor: Re “Praise and excitement versus fear and loathing at Pier55 public hearing” (news article, Jan. 15): As a father with a child in public school and an officer of the P.T.A. at P.S. 3, I am acutely aware of how much time and work is involved with giving children the most basic exposure to the arts. While we live in one of the great cultural capitals of the world, my wife and I are also struck by how few of those cultural opportunities are affordable. Sadly, we no longer live in a world where exposure to the arts is a given. The vision for Pier55 is very inspirational and encourages me that we can at least make a small dent in this problem. Additionally, as a parent, the lack of green space in New York is always a huge concern. As my son gets older and the playground holds less allure, I wonder how we’ll find ways and reasons to enjoy the outdoors in the neighborhood. This is an amazing gift and opportunity for us to combine two real needs; an opportunity that we would be foolish to turn down, especially when the alternative is an abandoned, decrepit pier. Robert Osborne
Excited about Pier55! To The Editor: Re “Praise and excitement versus fear and loathing at Pier55 public hearing” (news article, Jan. 15): I am writing to support the opportunity to develop Pier55 at W. 13th St. as a public park and performance space! As a resident of the Downtown community and as an advocate of the arts, I adore the idea of designating this pier to be developed into a park — and, more important, into a park with a performance space for the arts. My children attended P.S. 234 and we have enjoyed the benefits of waterfront parks from Rockefeller to Wagner as our preferred destination year-round. Each summer, we make special occasions to attend the offerings of musical and dance performances in these parks. The development of Pier55 will provide urban dwellers a much-needed destination of respite in a natural environment. Open green space has
long been heralded as having a positive impact on health, and combining that with the arts is a winwin for people of all ages. Hudson River Park Trust, I applaud the work you have done on the waterfront and am grateful for the existence of this park! I know that when given the opportunity, you will create something spectacular! Please continue the superb work that has been done in this direction and move forward with the plans to turn Pier55 into a public green space and a performance opportunity! Heather Church
Real B&B’s versus airbnb To The Editor: Re “Illegal hotel law inhospitable to B&B’s, their operators say” (news article, Jan. 22): Most cities and towns have legal allowance and regulation for real B&B’s, which are not hotels, nor are they fly-by-night-rent-my-apartment situations. They have specific zoning and regulations tailored to their size and kind of business. New York’s short-term rental law was a blunt instrument that damaged and made an endangered species of a well-respected and well-used product in the city. One element of the city said they have all along been O.K. with B&B’s — they happily collected lodging taxes from them — while another element of the city said they were out of bounds. An amendment to the law should be put into effect that supports the existence of B&B’s — which utilize the entirety of a small building, thus avoiding disturbing any residential tenants — while separately regulating the airbnb’s. B&B’s are a preferred experience all over the world. Historic homes and buildings have been preserved and opened to the public through these legitimate, small businesses. This isn’t the sharing economy. This isn’t Uber or airbnb. This is a decades-old industry with 17,000-plus properties around the United States alone. Think of food trucks. They are legitimate, have specific laws and have boundaries within which to play. B&B’s are like them. Legit. Lawful. Appreciated by the public. Imagine if anyone could sell hot dogs out of the back of their Honda. That’s the equivalent of the short-term rental problem the law was trying to quash. Fix the law! Jay Karen 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. TheVillager.com
PHOTOS COURTESY RAY’S CANDY STORE
Hayden Riots kicked off Ray’s birthday show with a high-energy countertop crawl and dance to “I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow.
Encore! Gal Friday made her third appearance on “the stage” at Ray’s.
Dancers and devotees of Ray celebrate his b’day
t may have been snowy and cold outside, but it was hot, with a sizzling capital “H,” at Ray’s Candy Store on Tuesday night as friends gathered to celebrate Avenue A hot dog slinger Ray Alvarez’s 82nd birthday. Now in its ninth year, the birthday extravaganza this year featured no less than six burlesque dancers, Hayden Riots, Gal Friday, Ginger Twist, Pearls Daily, Lickitty Split and
Pinkie Special. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” was all that an overwhelmed Ray — real name Asghar Ghahraman — could utter after the show. In honor of his birthday and his 40 years in business, Ray was presented with a scrapbook filled with photos and clippings from his four decades on Avenue A. Inside were nearly 200 photos of the hole-in-the-wall store-
Pearls Daily brought true burlesque style and sass to Ray’s Birthday burlesque extravaganza. TheVillager.com
front, Ray’s famous foodstuffs, friends and the man himself. Ray was truly touched. “When I die, I want to be buried with this book, some peanut butter and my iPhone, so I’ll have something to do,” he said. If Ray sticks it out one more year for the 10th annual birthday extravaganza, the party’s organizers promised him they’ll get 10 dancers for it.
Props go to the event’s organizers: Ilya S. for recruiting the talent, getting the delicious cheesecake from Veniero’s, and rigging up the colored lights; an under-the-weather DJ Shawn C. for providing the tunes once again; Francisco V. for providing his living room as a dressing space for the dancers; and emcee Matt R. for introducing the acts and putting together the scrapbook.
Amy Sanchez presented Ray with the cake.
January 29, 2015
January 29, 2015
Gronkowski could be the difference in Super Bowl GLICK’S SUPER PICK BY DEBORAH GLICK
unday is the Super Bowl. Not only will the winner determine the champion of the league but it is the most widely watched televised event in the United States. Last year the Super Bowl was watched by more than 112 million people and this year the number may be even greater. The Seahawks are seeking to repeat their Super Bowl triumph from last year, and the New England Patriots, led by a telegenic quarterback and a dour evil scientist for a coach, are back in the big game for a sixth time trying to break a 10-year drought since the last time they won the Super Bowl. But how did we get here? The championship games to get to the Super Bowl were both notable. As predicted, the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks game was the game to watch. Although the Seahawks were expected to win and did, anyone watch-
Deborah Glick says this Super Bowl, for a change, won’t be a mismatch.
ing the game up to the last four minutes would have expected a different outcome. The Packers dominated the game entirely, and if it wasn’t for a complete letdown in their defense, they would have won. The key play for the Seahawks victory was the recovery of an onside kick that gave them back the
ball, and the subsequent plays sent the game to overtime. At the end of the game, if you listened carefully, one could almost hear the hearts of every Green Bay fan shattering into a thousand pieces, as the Seahawks managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It’s safe to say that it was a loss that no Packer fan will
ever forget. The New England Patriots were expected to win and they did by blowing out the Indianapolis Colts. This victory has been overshadowed by alleged shenanigans of the Patriots, who appear to have deflated footballs to give their team a competitive advantage. This is a controversy that is silly, but as the Patriots have been found guilty of cheating in the past, it has overwhelmed pregame coverage. Historically, the team with the best defense usually wins the Super Bowl. Going by statistics alone, it would seem Seattle would have the advantage. However, the one flaw in their defense is a tendency to give up big plays to the opposing team’s tight end. New England’s tight end, Rob Gronkowski, is a freakishly large and fast player, who has devastated opposing teams all year. He certainly will give Seattle a run for their money. What this all means is that the Super Bowl will be a real game with the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. Both teams are well-rounded and have great offenses and defenses. It should be a barn burner of a game, well worth watching. Too often the Super Bowl is a mismatch and rather boring. That will not be the case Feb. 1.
Baruch forward cracks 1,000-point career mark SPORTS BY ROBERT ELKIN
he Baruch College basketball team has a very good chance of going all the way and winning the regular season title in the City University of New York Athletic Conference, and the Bearcats also have a chance of posting an excellent record in the process. In addition, they have a shot of entering the post-season circuit tournament as the top-seeded team, and if they win the playoff tournament, they get that automatic bid into the NCAA Division III post-season tourney. In order to possibly pull off the incredible, they have to rely on a team effort, led by their standout player in Granville Gittens. After nine conference games, the Bearcats (14-4) are undefeated in league competition, and along the way have put together two fivegame winning streaks through their first 18 games. Entering the Hunter contest, Gittens needed eight points to reach the 1,000 career point mark in a Baruch TheVillager.com
uniform. He hit on a layup from inside with about 5:40 minutes left in the first half and put the Bearcats in front, 29-19. The senior went on to net 18 points and grab six rebounds in 21 minutes in a runaway victory for Baruch, thus dropping Hunter to 6-12 over all and 3-7 in the league. Gittens became the 20th player at Baruch to score 1,000 or more points. All eyes were focused on Gittens
during the Hunter game at the ARC arena of Baruch College. He has all the moves and can do almost anything on the floor from the frontcourt position. If he continues at his present pace, and constantly improves, then he might attract the pro scouts, especially those from overseas. The 6-foot-6 forward/center would like to continue his basketball career in that direction, if possible. A prolific scorer, Gittens poured in 25 against the College of Staten Island, in a CUNYAC game for his onegame high this season. However, as a junior, he scored 35 points against Wesleyan in a nonleague game. Gittens possesses many strengths. “If necessary I can push the ball up the court,” he said after the Hunter game. “I can handle the ball, create plays, like to attack the basket from the wing position, and can post up with my back to the basket.” He also feels he can do almost anything on the court, including play the guard position, if needed, and provide good defense. “I feel that I’m a good defender and can guard quick players from the perimeter,” he said. “I want to be a player first and then a coach afterward,” he said. “There are a lot of opportunities to
play overseas.” At a young age he began playing baseball, and by age eight, basketball. He was introduced to the sport by his father, who has since passed away. He played in various leagues during the off-season to improve his game. At one time during his high school days, he was a regular at “The Cage,” playing in the schoolboy division of the W. Fourth St. League. “This league is a classic,” he noted. “The West Fourth St. League attracts the passerbys. They enjoy watching the games, and the players usually put on shows. It’s a great place to play, but very small.” Gittens also follows the competition in the NBA, especially the upcoming All-Star Game. “There will be a lot of commotion in the game,” he said. “I’ll see it on television. It would be nice to check it out, but a ticket will be very expensive.” He has named player of the week twice this season, as chosen by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association for Division II/III. After Gittens graduates Baruch in June, he would like to further his career in communications and psychology. January 29, 2015
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