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Volume 3, Number 8 FREE
East and West Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown
January 31 - February 14, 2013
nice guys don’t finish last; hoylman is sworn into office By LInCoLn anDERSon A week before a crowd of hundreds of thousands gathered in Washington to celebrate President Obama’s inauguration, a smaller, but no less passionate group of more than 500 gathered at F.I.T.’s Haft Auditorium in Chelsea for the swearingin of one of their own — the new state senator for the 27th District, Brad Hoylman.
Photo by Sam Spokony
Father Lorenzo Ato of St. Brigid and St. Emeric Church posed for a photo last Thursday overlooking the magnificently renovated interior of the former St. Brigid’s Church.
it’s a real miracle on Avenue B as st. Brigid’s church reopens By LInCoLn anDERSon After a 10-year community struggle to save St. Brigid’s Church from demolition, followed by a four-year-plus, $15 million renovation to shore up the historic structure and return it to its former splendor, the iconic Avenue B house of worship at last reopened on Sunday. The opening was celebrated with a joyful dedication Mass presided over by Archbishop Timothy Dolan. To the chagrin of members of the Committee to Save St. Brigid’s, though, which fought and filed a lawsuit to
keep the church standing, Dolan was joined in the celebration by former Archbishop Edward Egan. The latter had actually started demolishing St. Brigid’s before relenting in May 2008 and agreeing to accept a $20 million gift from an anonymous “angel” to fund the renovations, the parish and St. Brigid’s School. It was controlled chaos before the 5 p.m. Mass, as people crowded the front doors near Eighth St. to get inside the church, which has a capacity of about 400. Last year the parish of St. Emeric
Church, at Avenue D and 13th St., was merged with St. Brigid’s parish, so the reopened church on Tompkins Square’s eastern edge is now being called St. Brigid and St. Emeric Church. According to an archdiocese spokesperson, Governor Cuomo was invited to attend. He didn’t make it, though, but sent a representative. Seated in the front row were Councilmember Rosie Mendez and Congressmember Nydia Velazquez. The consulate generals of
The state Senate district includes Greenwich Village, Hudson Square, most of Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, part of the Upper West Side, Midtown and East Midtown and most of the East Village, plus Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. The 27th’s lines, which were recently redrawn, unite Greenwich Village in
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Board 2 asks city to review vendors jamming Broadway By Sam Spokony After heaps of complaints from Soho residents about the number of street vendors along Broadway, Community Board 2 is calling on Mayor Bloomberg to take action by reconvening a city review panel that hasn’t been used in more than a decade. The resolution, which C.B. 2 passed unanimously last week, ultimately seeks to limit the amount of ven-
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5 15 C A N A L STREET • N YC 10 013 • C OPYRIG HT © 2013 N YC COMMU NITY M ED IA , LLC
dors allowed to operate on the stretch of Broadway between Houston and Canal Sts. “The proliferation of vendors [along that] corridor constitutes a serious and immediate threat to the health, safety and well-being of the public and local residents on the weekends,” the resolution states, “in that sidewalks are too congested
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editorial, letterS PAGE 10
pUnk mag conFab PAGE 18
2 January 31 - February 13, 2013
Lower East Siders confront plague of youth violence By Sam Spokony Local residents and youths, community organizations and settlement houses, elected officials, police and other stakeholders are working to create new partnerships and dialogue in response to the Jan. 4 shooting that killed a 16-year-old Baruch Houses resident. While it was not their first meeting following the murder of Raphael Ward, those stakeholders gathered on Jan. 17 at Grand St. Settlement — only steps away from the site of the shooting, and a place where Ward was enrolled in recreational programs — for a landmark discussion about ideas to help quell the plague of youth violence in a Lower East Side neighborhood dominated by public housing. The gathering was basically a brainstorming session, but some of those present exuded a palpable sense of urgency. They made it clear that, in their eyes, this problem has fallen through the cracks too many times before, and that now is the time for action. Among the more concrete issues raised involved the possible expansion of youth center programming to include more activities, later hours of operation and more outreach within area public housing developments; more collaboration between schools, police outreach programs and other groups; the concept of creating a totally unified, antiviolence message for all stakeholders to impart to local youths; the importance of job skills training for young people at risk; and the equal importance of identifying and aiding parents who are struggling to raise their children safely. David Garza, executive director of Henry Street Settlement, was present at the Jan. 17 meeting, but he already has plans to expand his center’s programming, as told in an interview several days prior. Specifically, he talked about a proposal to extend hours of operation at the settlement’s building at E. Sixth St. and Avenue D from its current 6 p.m. closing time to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The building is currently open until 9 p.m. only Fridays and Saturdays. Garza said he hoped to expand the programming enough to include 200 additional youths in the center’s activities. “Key individuals in the community can catalyze larger movements, and we hope to use that strategy,” Garza said. “If we stay open longer and engage more young people, that can have a ripple effect and positively influence even more throughout the community.” Luther Stubblefield, the former tenant association president of Baruch Houses, came to the meeting to stress the importance of parent outreach and skills training for youths. He pointed out that some kids end up spending most of their time on the streets because they either feel like they have no future or because their parents are not taking the time to push them toward positive goals. “We need to communicate with the parents who are just sitting at home and aren’t being responsible enough, and that includes organizations like P.S.A 4 getting more involved to support those parents who are struggling,” Stubblefield said. “About 70 percent of our community is doing well and being positive, but now we have to focus on that other 30 percent.”
Photo by Sam Spokony
Mauricio Pazmino, right, community liaison for state Senator Daniel Squadron, spoke with youths from the P.S.A. 4 Explorers program during the Jan. 17 forum.
Police Service Area 4 is the Police Department unit dedicated to patrolling the public housing developments in Manhattan’s Fifth, Seventh, Ninth and Tenth Precincts. Alongside several police officers, some of the youths enrolled in the P.S.A. 4 Explorers program — which works with boys and girls aged 14 to 20 — were also present at the community forum, and this reporter asked several of them what they would like to see from the adults who aim to stop youth violence. “I really want to see adults show us what they’re trying to do as they’re planning it, and also for them to be clear with us about what they want us to do,” said Braulia Alvarez, 18, who lives in the Lower East Side’s Vladeck Houses. “Kids are mainly just connected to each other, and there’s not always good communication between us and the adults, so it’s not always clear what they’re doing or what they want.” Samantha Isales, 15, a member of the Explorers program who lives in Rutgers Houses, said she believes that, for boys, violence and other issues can often be chalked up to a lack of positive role models — partially echoing Stubblefield’s point about parent outreach. “Boys are too involved in money, and they always want things they can’t get, so they can impress their friends,” Isales said. “I think it’s maybe their older brothers or dads that are teaching them those things, and some don’t even have dads. It has a lot to do with families, but I don’t know if we can really do anything about that.”
A unified message?
While there was agreement on most of the general ideas raised at the Jan. 17 forum,
some disagreement later surfaced over the concept creating a unified message — some kind of mission statement against violence, gangs and drugs that would be promoted by all community stakeholders. During the meeting, Victor Papa, president of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, put forth that concept in a brief but passionate speech that drew applause from most of
‘Peace rallies will help to break down the turf wars.’ Lisah Ellison
those in attendance. It also mirrored some of the very points being made by youths in the P.S.A. 4 Explorers program. “What we need right now, as opposed to more services, is a common message that kids can hear, because that’s the core — and if we’re not doing that, then we’re not doing much,” Papa said. “In the case of [Ward’s] murder, there was a clear lack of understanding about what violence truly is. We need to focus on sending these kids a clear message if we want to change that.” But John Wenk, principal of Lower Manhattan Arts Academy, a high school at Grand and Essex Sts., said in a later interview that he believes the neighborhood’s diverse stakeholders’ points of view should not all be confined within a single message. “The truth is, everybody’s for peace, so the idea of a unified message might not be as meaningful as one would think,” Wenk said. “The strength of this community is in its
diversity, and so there should be a symphony of messages rather than a single one. My message is about working hard, doing your homework, and getting into college. Then the church has its message, and the community organizations have theirs, and so on.” Wenk, who was also at the forum, went on to say that, while he doesn’t favor a unified message, he does think there should be more collaboration between schools and other youth programming. He said he hopes representatives of organizations like the Grand Street, Henry Street or University settlements, as well as others, will come to his school in the near future and set up lunchtime presentations to expose students to the recreational and training programs available at their centers. “It depends on how many responses I can get, but we’ll be here waiting for them,” Wenk said. See something, do something Some community members’ remain skeptical about the current calls to action regarding youth violence, saying that they have seen plenty of discussion, but no concrete solutions, after past Lower East Side teen murders. Several locals at the forum explained that they’ve started a grassroots group called See Something, Do Something, in order to further pressure elected officials, police and community organizations to take real action. “We’ve been having shootouts in the neighborhood for a long time, and I always saw that people always talk about what needs to be done, but nobody was doing anything,” said group founder Lisah
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January 31 - February 13, 2013
week, the preservationist told us he thought he’d have an answer for us by early this week. But when we spoke to him on Tuesday, he said he wasn’t ready to make an announcement one way or the other. “As of today, I don’t have anything new to tell you,” he said. … And let’s not forget about another possible contender in District 3, who some have dubbed — O.K., we admit, it was us — “The Great Hetero Hope.” He too isn’t yet ready to say if he’s running. The mystery man tells us he has been “talking to people throughout the district,” listening to their issues and explaining his priorities on certain issues. He’s trying to see if it’s feasible to mobilize a new bloc of residents — probably folks who aren’t traditionally heavy voters — who aren’t already committed to declared candidates Corey Johnson or Yetta Kurland. District 3 has traditionally been known as the Council’s “gay seat.” The straight man continues to ask us not to publish his name, though Johnson called us the other week to say he knows who it is and that it’s not really such a mystery in political circles.
notebook “NOW I WANNA DANCE, I WANNA WIN”: The New York Post on Tuesday dissed Christine Quinn for her photo on the cover of New York magazine, dubbing her “Mayor Dracula” for her glam, goth-like getup, featuring a high black collar. But, hey, at least it was better than Allen Roskoff’s portrayal of the City Council speaker on his annual whacky holiday party invite. A fake pulp novel cover spoofing “Pulp Fiction,” called “Quinn Fiction,” it featured her lounging Uma Thurman-like as the “gangster’s wife,” with Mayor Bloomberg listed in “the credits” as “the gangster.” Others in “the cast” included Landmarks Commissioner Robert Tierney as “wrecking ball of gay landmarks” (apparently, referring to the historic gay activists’ building recently razed at Spring and Thompson Sts.); and Susan Stetzer, Community Board 3 district manager, as “noise enforcer.” (Known best as a gay activist, Roskoff is also an aggressive nightlife advocate.) And, umm, why is the gun pointed at Corey Johnson’s head?! Wait a second!!! Maybe it’s Yetta Kurland’s (former) gun? Only The Shadow… we mean, only Roskoff knows.
DORIS IN DISTRESS: One of the city’s longest-serving community board members, Doris Diether of C.B. 2 recently broke her shoulder when she was rushing to answer the door in her Village home. As usual, though, she sounded upbeat when we called her soon after to check up on her. But she subsequently contracted a severe case of laryngitis — which has lasted for a full month! She recently had an X-ray of her shoulder and a CAT scan of her throat and is awaiting results of both tests. Asked if anyone’s been helping her out, she said C.B. 2 members have been sending her get-well cards. A.G. SIGNS OFF ON SYNAGOGUE PLAN: The last functioning “tenement synagogue” in the East Village is soon due for a major makeover. The historic, 103-year-old Adas Yisroel Anshei Mezeritch synagogue, at 415 E. Sixth St., which was recently landmarked, has been the object of much attention from local preservation groups. The state Attorney General’s Office and Manhattan Supreme Court have now given their approval for a plan to renovate and upgrade the shul’s interior while keeping its neoclassical facade intact. Anshei Meseritz has signed over the rights to its second floor to East River Partners LLC as part of a 99-year lease worth roughly $1.2 million, according to documents filed in
CUDE, BERMAN...AND HETERO HOPE? So is Terri Cude going to run for City Council against incumbent Margaret Chin, as many have reportedly been urging her to do? Responding to our query, Cude said, “While I am truly honored that community members find my advocacy and energy beneficial, I am not running. I am, however, delighted that District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar is, because a competitive primary election in District 1 will ensure that many of the issues I care about will be publicly discussed and debated. For example, Jenifer staunchly opposed the N.Y.U. 2031 plan and stood alongside the many member groups of the Community Action Alliance on N.Y.U. 2031 (CAAN) at several events and hearings. A strong debate on N.Y.U. 2031 and many other issues in the district will be good for everyone.” … Although his name hasn’t been raised as a potential candidate, Jean-Louis Bourgeois said without hesitation that he’s voting for “the candidate who was against N.Y.U.” … Next question: Will Andrew Berman be running for City Council in District 3? Last
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4 January 31 - February 13, 2013
Before antigun march, Kavanagh calls for a buyback By Sam Spokony In advance of Thursday’s Unity Rally, a huge street march aimed at highlighting and combatting gun violence in the Lower East Side, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh said he thinks it’s time for another district attorney-sponsored gun buyback event. “There’s definitely a need for more buybacks, and while they’re not the sole answer to this whole problem, I think there’s a general consensus between law enforcement officials and policy makers that they can be a very useful tool,” Kavanagh said in an interview on Tuesday. The L.E.S. Unity Rally, which is being led on Jan. 31 by Borough President Scott Stringer, in association with Kavanagh, numerous other elected officials and a wide array of community organizations, was
arranged in the wake of the murder of 16-year-old Raphael Ward, a Baruch Houses resident. Ward was fatally shot near the corner of Columbia and Rivington Sts. on Jan. 4. “After an incident like that, it’s just a particularly good time to hold another buyback,” Kavanagh added. Gun buyback programs allow residents to anonymously turn their firearms over to the New York Police Department in exchange for cash. The Lower East Side had its first such event last October, which was held at the Rutgers Houses Community Center and ended up taking 50 guns off the street. The program has already been in use for many years in other parts of the city. At a Jan. 17 community antiviolence forum held at Grand Street Settlement — where Ward had been enrolled in recreational pro-
grams — a representative of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance told this newspaper that a second buyback event for the neighborhood is currently being considered. Kavanagh stressed that he didn’t want to overstate the program’s value — given that other efforts, such as improvements in community outreach, gun control legislation and mental health treatment, remain priorities. But he said that his office has had several recent conversations with the D.A.’s Office about the possibility of another buyback. He added that there hasn’t been any confirmation from D.A. yet, and that more funding will likely be required before such an event can be scheduled. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was the driving force behind the October buyback, but a spokesperson for him declined to com-
ment on any plans to ask for another one. It seemed that the speaker had not been part of any of the talks between Kavanagh’s office and the D.A. Instead, Silver sent a statement that pointed out gun control advocates’ recent success in passing statewide legislation, as well as focusing on the importance of schools and youth centers in the antiviolence effort. Representatives of youth centers and other neighborhood organizations, along with the residents involved with those programs, will likely make up a large portion of those marching in the Jan. 31 Unity Rally. “We must strengthen our commitment to education and to recreational programs, so we can help our young people make choices that have a positive impact on themselves and our community,” Silver said.
LES PEOPs Project by Fly - www.peops.org
Photo by Tequila Minsky
Dem bones gonna sell again
Young girls checked out a skeleton outside the Evolution store on Spring St. in Soho. The shop sells “natural history collectibles.”
SUPER BOWL SUNDAY
• • • • • • PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE • • • • • • The Hudson River Park Neighborhood Improvement District Steering Committee in conjunction with Friends of Hudson River Park will be hosting 4 Public Meetings on the proposed Improvement District. We hope you can join us to get more information, ask questions, and show your support at one of the following meetings:
Monday Feb. 4th @ 6:30pm Little Red School House (272 Sixth Ave.)
Monday Feb. 11th @ 3:00pm Fulton Center Auditorium (119 Ninth Ave.)
Tuesday Feb. 5th @ 6:30pm Hartley House (413 West 46 St.)
Tuesday Feb. 12th @ 6:30pm Manhattan Youth Downtown Community Center (120 Warren St.)
For more information please contact Jeffrey Aser at 212-757-0981 (Jaser@fohrp.org) www.HRPNID.org
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January 31 - February 13, 2013
police blotter sidewalk beating Police arrested two men for their reportedly vicious attack on another man outside a West Village restaurant early on Sun., Jan. 27. Security guards for Sushi Samba, at 87 Seventh Ave. South, told officers that they saw Robert DeMatteo and Michael Volkert, both 22, engage in a dispute with a 29-yearold man on the sidewalk around 12:30 a.m. The witness said that DeMatteo and Volkert then began repeatedly punching and kicking the other man, continuing the beating after their victim had been knocked to the ground. Police said that when they arrived at the scene several minutes later, the two aggressors were still punching the injured man, who was then taken to New York Downtown Hospital. DeMatteo and Volkert were both charged with assault.
Bathroom standoff Sixth Precinct officers searching for a thief early on Sat., Jan. 26, stumbled on a different pair of perpetrators, who reportedly locked themselves in a pizza joint’s bathroom with a sack of pot and a deadly weapon. Police said they walked into Karavas Pizza ’n Pita while on a canvass shortly after 3 a.m., and instead of finding the culprits for a recent grand larceny, store employees directed them to the bathroom, where Washington Garay, 49, and Andrew Miguel, 27, were holed up. The employees told cops that Garay had been asked to leave after refusing to pay for his food, but had instead locked himself in alongside Miguel. At first, the two men refused to open the door for the officers, with Garay pointedly telling them, “F--- you!” according to the police report, but when they eventually did, the officers noticed a strong marijuana odor. The cops then found a ziplock bag that held alleged marijuana, apparently belonging to Miguel, which was sitting on top of the toilet. He was also in possession of a box cutter, police said. Garay was charged with obstructing government administration, for hindering the officers in their attempt to get in the bathroom. Miguel was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and unlawful possession of marijuana.
strangled at the standard A bar fight at the Meatpacking District’s trendy Standard Hotel turned ugly on Jan. 25, when a man was arrested for reportedly choking his adversary until he passed out. The alleged victim, 29, told police that during a dispute with Gregory Tassin, 25, around 2 a.m. at Le Bain, the W. 13th St. hotel’s rooftop bar, Tassin punched him in
the face, giving him a black eye. He further said that Tassin followed up the strike by grabbing him by the throat and strangling him for several minutes, eventually cutting off his ability to breath and leaving him unconscious. Police arrived at the scene and the victim was treated by paramedics on site and did not need to be hospitalized. Tassin was charged with strangulation.
graffiti tagger bagged The cover of darkness wasn’t enough to protect a local graffiti artist, who was caught by police after a brief chase early on Fri., Jan. 25. Officers saw Christopher Johnson, 32, spray-painting the abandoned building at 354 West St. — formerly home to the Westworld adult video store — around 12:30 a.m., according to the report. Instead of surrendering once the police made their presence known, Johnson took off running, leading police up the block to Leroy St. before they could corral him. So in addition to the graffiti charge, cops slapped Johnson with resisting arrest.
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fire escape prowler After being spied by a sharp-eyed elderly resident, a man who was trespassing outside an apartment building near Union Square on the night of Wed., Jan. 23, was arrested. Officers arrived at the building, 50 E. 13th St., around 10:30 p.m. after a 70-yearold female resident’s report that there was a stranger on the fire escape. The woman was then able to point out the man, later identified as Javier Romero, 22, as he was climbing from the second to the third floor of the building. Romero was charged with criminal trespassing.
get off the tracks! By now, New Yorkers have heard all about the dangers of being pushed onto the subway tracks, but this guy still seemed to think that jumping down on his own would be a good way to make a shortcut to the other side of the station. Police in the 14th St. PATH station said they saw Wilkin Orgando, 22, walk across two sets of train tracks around 11:30 a.m. on Wed., Jan. 23, apparently just to cross to the other side. Orgando wasn’t injured by any of the live electrical rails he stepped over, but he quickly had to face the music once two bystanders helped him up onto the platform. He was arrested for reckless endangerment.
With Keynote Speaker Dr. Roscoe C. Brown, Jr. Director of the Urban Education Policy Center at CUNY Graduate Center; founder and former director of the NYU Institute of African American Affairs; former president of Bronx Community College; WWII Tuskegee Airman. NYU Kimmel Center, Rosenthal Pavilion 60 Washington Square South, 10th Floor Dinner will be included with the reception. This event is free and open to the public with photo ID. An RSVP is required: contact OGCA at 212-998-2400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
6 January 31 - February 13, 2013
nice guys don’t finish last: Brad hoylman sworn Continued from page 1 one district. Major additions are the East Village and part of Midtown, including Times Square, while lost was the Upper West Side north of 72nd St. For President Obama, his inauguration marked the start of his second term, as he now confidently settles into office for another four years, after mapping out a firmly progressive agenda in his speech on Monday. For Hoylman, on the other hand, it was just the start — yet, in a sense, also the end, as in the fulfillment of his long quest to hold elected office. In 2001, Hoylman ran in a crowded field of candidates for City Council in Lower Manhattan’s First District, finishing a close second in the primary election to Alan Gerson, losing by just 500 votes. Hoylman went on to rise to the chairpersonship of Community Board 2 — no easy feat in itself — and six years ago was elected the Village’s Democratic district leader, an unsalaried, party post. And yet the goal of higher elected office continued to elude him.
duAne steps Aside He was facing a race for City Council in the Third District coming up this year — against at least two tough candidates,
Photo by John Winkleman
Hoylman took the oath of office, administered by Judge J. Paul Oetken, as his fiancé, David Sigal, held his bar mitzvah Bible for Hoylman to put his left hand on and they both cradled their daughter, Silvia, 2.
Corey Johnson and Yetta Kurland — when, in June, state Senator Tom Duane suddenly announced he wouldn’t seek re-election. Shifting his sights to the state Senate, Hoylman was well positioned for a run and, facing only token opposition, won easily.
Fighting to make Lower Manhattan the greatest place to live, work, and raise a family.
In another connection with Obama’s speech, it was noteworthy, among other things, for being the first time a president has ever mentioned the word “gay” in an inaugural address. Referring to the journey “through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall,” the president linked the struggles of women, blacks and gays and lesbians for
‘When Brad became chairperson of C.B. 2, we were able to navigate some rocky waters, accomplish so much.’ Scott Stringer equality. Hoylman joins a strong contingent of openly gay and lesbian politicians — with one among their ranks, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, standing a good chance of being elected the city’s next mayor this year.
An L.g.B.t. continuum
Assemblyman Shelly Silver If you need assistance, please contact my office at (212) 312-1420 or email email@example.com.
Hoylman is the latest link in a chain of gay and lesbian political trailblazers coming out of Downtown Manhattan. In addition to Duane and Quinn, these include Assemblymember Deborah Glick, as well as Councilmember Rosie Mendez, and before her, Margarita Lopez and, to a certain extent, Antonio Pagan, who was more publicly ambigu-
ous about his sexuality. Fittingly, it was Glick — New York’s first openly gay or lesbian elected official — who emceed Hoylman’s swearing-in ceremony. Hoylman was given the oath by New York’s J. Paul Oetken, the first openly gay judge appointed to the federal bench. Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, a gay and lesbian synagogue, gave the invocation. “Brad Hoylman, you stand on the shoulders of many, many great people who preceded you,” she said. She exhorted him to work “to move things forward when so much has conspired to keep us back. … We pray to whomever, whatever to give you strength.” Seated to Hoylman’s side during the ceremony was his fiancé, filmmaker David Sigal. Together since 1992, they plan to marry later this year. They have a daughter, Silvia, 2, born via a surrogate mother in California. Glick noted that the event was actually a twofer — “a goodbye to a very good friend, Tom Duane, and a big hello to Brad Hoylman.”
pAcKed With poLiticiAns Among the many other elected officials seated on the stage were Senator Chuck Schumer, Congressmembers Jerrold Nadler and Jose Serrano, state Senators Liz Kreuger and Dan Squadron, Assemblymembers Richard Gottfried, Linda Rosenthal, Keith Wright and Brian Kavanagh, Councilmembers Margaret Chin, Dan Garodnick, Robert Jackson, Jessica Lappin, Gale Brewer and Jimmy Van Bramer, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and city Comptroller John Liu. Also on hand was Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the new leader of the Democratic State Senate Conference. She said she’ll be counting on Hoylman’s help in “fighting the good fight for everyone — making sure we do minimum wage, campaign finance reform, making sure we stand up for the L.G.B.T. community... especially for transgender people. “From the first day I met Brad...he was so ready,” she said. “He knows where we’re going.” She praised Hoylman as “obviously, so well-educated, an activist, an attorney.” Hoylman, originally from West Virginia, was a Rhodes scholar. When not wearing his C.B. 2 hat, he worked as the counsel for the New York Partnership, stepping down from that job when he launched his campaign for City Council last year.
quinn: ‘just good peopLe’ Quinn, in her remarks, said politics needs more individuals like the freshman state senator. “There are people you meet who des-
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January 31 - February 13, 2013
into office as new state senator, following Duane “political Twister.”
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The making of a senator
perately want to be elected officials,” she said, “and there are people who should be, because their compass points true north and they’re just really good, loving people. That’s Brad Hoylman.” Quinn praised Hoylman, in his tenure as C.B. 2 chairperson, for working “thoughtfully and deliberately” to create a forum “where everyone gets a chance to be heard.” Acknowledging the work over the years of her early political mentor, Duane, Quinn quipped, “There are enormously huge pumps to fill — enormously high stilettos,” eliciting laughter from the audience.
Schumer in Sunday form Schumer earlier in the day had given one of his famous Sunday press conferences, in this case, calling on Walmart and Sports Authority to stop selling assault weapons. He noted he’s the “N.R.A.’s Public Enemy No. 1.” The pro-gun group puts out a photo of Schumer with a bull’s-eye on his forehead, and he noted he gets 20 to 30 of them back each year with a bullet hole through them. That’s a symbol of what’s wrong with America, he said. On the other hand, he said, “Brad is a symbol of what’s so good about this country, because he works so hard, and always believed in community.” Unlike in New York City, there are no term limits in the state Legislature. Noting, “We don’t inaugurate new state officials very often,” Nadler said, it’s important to install good ones. Hoylman, he said, has the right stuff, and is someone “who knows that the aim of good government is not to balance the budget, but to protect civil liberties and empower communities.” Stringer, who oversees the Manhattan community boards and appoints their members, relied on Hoylman to help get C.B. 2 back on track after a leading chairperson candidate had hidden from the board a conflict-of-interest ruling about his restaurant and his relationship to the board. After serving two years, Hoylman stepped down, following C.B. 2’s selfimposed term limit for chairpersons, only to run for chairperson two years later and win again, only to have to face dealing with the review of New York University’s enormous and hotly debated 2031 development plan. The board voted an “absolute no” on the mega-plan.
Stringer: ‘Smart, strategic’ “He’s so smart, so strategic,” Stringer said of Hoylman. “When he became chairperson of C.B. 2, we were able to navigate some rocky waters, accomplish so much. … Then, with N.Y.U. coming in, all the issues coming, he re-enlists and does it again.” In a novel twist for a swearing-in ceremony, author Maureen McLane, one of Hoylman’s best friends from their days
Photos by Tequila Minsky
From left, in the front row onstage at Brad Hoylman’s swearing-in ceremony, former state Senator Tom Duane; Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the new state Senate Democratic Conference leader; U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer; and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
together in Oxford as Rhodes scholars and an N.Y.U. English professor, read a lengthy poem, written for the occasion, including lines the likes of: He’s not from Texas, he’s no oilman He’s state Senator Brad Hoylman Yes, it’s true, it’s no rumor He’s heralded today by Chuck Schumer See him head for Albany His Empire State of Mind’s like Jay-Z’s And if you heard just one faint boo It might be from expansionist N.Y.U. But I’m from there and say, Yahoo! Glick called the moment “bittersweet,” as it also represented the retirement from Albany politics of her longtime comrade Duane, who was elected to the City Council just one year after she won her seat in the Assembly. “Can it really be 30 years?” she asked, “I’m gonna plotz.” Pointing to the close friendships between the Downtown L.G.B.T. officials, she recalled how she met her partner while out petitioning for ballot signatures with Duane.
Duane passes the torch Yes, it was a political love fest, to be sure, but the sentiment was genuine. “I love Brad,” Duane said. He recalled sitting down to meet the aspiring politician in 2000 and thinking, “ ‘Wow, this guy is the real deal,’ ” Duane said. Again, pointing to the friendships between the tight-knit group of politicos, Duane said Hoylman had really supported him during one of the “most difficult times of his life,” though he didn’t elaborate. As it was finally time for Hoylman to take the oath of office, his daughter, Silvia, came
running up to the stage from the audience and he lifted her up with him. Silvia helped hold Sigal’s bar mitzvah Bible as Hoylman prepared to be sworn in, and he and Sigal both held Silvia. “This will be interesting,” Hoylman remarked, to the audience’s laughter. They finally managed to get everyone in position, after going through a sort of
In his remarks, Hoylman thanked his parents, who couldn’t attend, for instilling in him at an early age the belief “that politics could be an honorable profession — even as President Nixon was resigning [on TV] in our living room.” He thanked his allies for encouraging him to stay in politics after he lost the Council race in 2001, and to run for district leader. “And you said, ‘Don’t worry, a seat will open up very soon.’ And I waited...and waited — 11 years,” he quipped. But that waiting period only seasoned Hoylman for becoming a state senator. “I’m a better public servant today because you thought that political office should be earned the old-fashioned way, through hard work,” he told the crowd at F.I.T. Saying the 27th District includes “really the best neighborhoods in New York State,” he pledged to represent all its diverse areas, including the Village, its public housing complexes — like the Riis Houses, Campos Plaza and Chelsea-Elliot Houses — along with Penn South, the Westbeth artists’ complex and Manhattan Plaza, and Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village — the latter which, he noted, “is more than 10 times the size of
Continued on page 24
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L.e.s. confronts youth violence; ‘unity rally’ planned ning another gun buyback event as a response to Ward’s shooting. Last October, the Lower East Side’s first such event — which allows gun owners to anonymously turn in their firearms in exchange for cash — took 50 weapons off the street, including 14 semiautomatics. Since that buyback occurred at the Rutgers Houses Community Center, at Madison and Rutgers Sts., it could be likely that a second event would be placed closer to Baruch Houses, where Ward lived and was murdered, though the D.A.’s Office didn’t provide further information. Police said after the October buyback that four of the guns they received had been altered, indicating they even more likely had been used — or would have been used in the future — to commit crimes.
Continued from page 2 Ellison, 40, a Baruch Houses resident who has lived in the complex for eight years. “The situation of Raphael Ward’s death is near and dear to my heart, because I know his dad, and I really saw how it touched the community. So I formed an alliance, since we need to get our kids off the street and have all these meetings and reach a real solution.” Ellison added that, since starting See Something, Do Something shortly after Ward’s murder, there are currently seven residents involved in the effort. After attending the Jan. 17 meeting, she said she was in wholehearted agreement with ideas about expanding youth center programming and keeping the centers open later at night. In particular, she said she wants to see more evening space available for 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds, asserting that such a change would have an immediate impact on keeping crime rates down. Ellison also highlighted the problem of “turf wars” between youths in different housing developments. At the Jan. 17 meeting, another member of the group said that kids are often scared to enter other developments, and that many parents are hesitant to send their children to youth centers in other developments because of the perceived danger involved
Photo by Sam Spokony
Melissa Aase, executive director of University Settlement, introduced the forum on youth outreach and community collaboration, which was held at Grand Street Settlement.
in violating a particular gang’s territory. So Ellison’s group expressed particular excitement about one particular announcement at the forum, which was that Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, in association with other local state and city elected officials and numerous other community stakeholders, will lead a “Unity Rally” to highlight and address the problem of youth violence. A
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spokesperson for Stringer said the march will take place on Thurs., Jan. 31, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the corner of E. Sixth St. and Avenue D. “Peace rallies will help to break down the turf wars, and this is something we need because it shows we’re all serious,” Ellison said, adding that she hopes that similar community walks will take place more frequently after that, perhaps even once each week. But she stressed that, even with all the good intentions she’s seen so far, she won’t be satisfied until productive plans are actually implemented. “We liked the ideas at that meeting, but now we want to see them put into action,” she said. “It doesn’t stop here, and we all need to keep showing up to other forums, stay focused, and remember that we’re all in this together.”
Another L.e.s. gun BuyBAcK? Notably, a representative of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office was also present at the Jan. 17 meeting, and told this reporter that the D.A.’s Office is thinking about plan-
neXt steps In addition to the Jan. 31 rally, another community forum has been planned to continue this discussion. Melissa Aase, executive director of University Settlement, who led last week’s forum, said that the next meeting — which will focus specifically on the issue of coordinating all of the area’s youth-service organizations — is currently scheduled for Mon., Feb. 4. She added that “many more” next steps will be worked out as well, and said she was “truly heartened” by the diverse turnout at the initial forum. “The issues of violence, economic justice, housing and community safety are intertwined and complicated,” Aase said, following the meeting. “We want to take small, thoughtful steps that include all these voices, and coordinate what we already have that is so strong in this community. We have parents that care deeply, youth with big dreams and potential, and a strong range of youth-serving organizations and adult supports. “Like President Obama said in his inaugural address, all citizens’ voices are needed to solve social problems — not just our votes, but our voices and engaged action,” Aase said. “That’s what I saw on Thursday evening. That is what is strong and hopeful about our community, even when we are hurting.”
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January 31 - February 13, 2013
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Gala occasion at Girls Club on Martin Luther King Day The Lower Eastside Girls Club celebrated Martin Luther King Day with the screening of the movie “The Barber of Birmingham” and a photo exhibit and community reception for a stellar group of “Amazing Women of the Lower East Side.” At right, three of the “Amazin’s” are pictured, from left, Naomi Bibbins of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York; radical cartoonist Fly; and legendary activist and literary agent Frances Goldin, joined by Lyn Pentecost, the Girls Club’s executive director. The four other “Amazin’s” were Councilmember Rosie Mendez; Damaris Reyes, executive director of Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES); poet Hettie Jones; and Reverend Adriene Thorne of Middle Collegiate Church. At left, Girls Club members enjoyed the M.L.K. Day program.
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January 31 - February 13, 2013
letters to the editor
Landmark, then rezone The City Planning Commission’s recent approval of a major rezoning of Hudson Square means the clock is now ticking until the City Council takes up the application for a vote — in about a month and a half from now. An extremely serious concern is the impact that approval of a residential rezoning for the currently manufacturing-zoned enclave would have on the adjacent and vulnerable, proposed South Village Historic District. In short, the approval of the Hudson Square rezoning must be linked to the city’s designation of the full, proposed South Village Historic District. As we’ve stated before, for the most part, we support the Hudson Square residential rezoning and its various components. But there’s no crisis facing Hudson Square if the rezoning isn’t passed in a few months. On the other hand, as of now, the unlandmarked sections of the South Village are already facing development pressure. Should a residential boom start in Hudson Square it would surely spill over into and impact the South Village, jeopardizing the historic fabric of this world-famous area. In 2009, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission designated one-third of the historic district that was proposed by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, and there were indications that the rest would soon follow. But more than three years later, unfortunately, that pledge still hasn’t been fulfilled. So, while about 250 buildings in the South Village have been protected, 500 more remain vulnerable to outright demolition and gross and inappropriate modifications. Simply put, there should be a hold put on approval of the Hudson Square rezoning until Landmarks commits unequivocally to calendaring the remainder of the full, proposed South Village Historic District. More to the point, Speaker Christine Quinn should use her power to make sure that this critical landmarking goes first, and the rezoning second. This is the neighborhood where bohemians of yore and Beatniks famously made their scene, their art and their music, wrote their poetry and their novels. Some of the famed MacDougal St. coffee houses and clubs where Bob Dylan and his contemporaries performed, like Cafe Wha?, are still here. The Coen brothers’ highly anticipated new movie, “Inside Llewyn Davies,” about the Village’s ’60s folk music scene, will revisit, literally, this fertile ground. Caffe Reggio on MacDougal St., also still here, was where cappuccino was first introduced to America. Over all, though, beyond the cultural history, the critical goal is to preserve the South Village’s historic, low-scale architecture. After all, that’s really what makes the South Village what it is. The debate can go on about how tall new buildings should be allowed to be in Hudson Square, but what makes the South Village special is its low-rise nature. If the whole of the proposed South Village Historic District is not fully designated, but Hudson Square is residentially rezoned, there will surely be a rush to raze and redevelop in the former. There’s no urgent need for this plan to be passed immediately — though, yes, we’d be happy if the prohibitions in Trinity’s rezoning that would require special permits for large hotels were O.K.’d tomorrow. Meanwhile, people don’t come here from around the globe to visit MacDougal St. and Bleecker St. because of new glitzy architecture. It’s the history-soaked, low-scale architecture and historic cafes and venues that draw them. It’s time for the city to follow through on its commitment to landmark the rest of the South Village, and not squander one of New York City’s greatest architectural and cultural treasures. Let’s get our priorities straight, and not ruin what’s so special in a relentless drive for new development.
We can argue, but let’s be civil To The Editor: Re “Good guys getting bounced by liquor license politics” (talking point, by Clayton Patterson, Jan. 17): I wish there was this much uproar and support for the mothers, fathers, young people and youth organizations that met last Thursday night to find a way to end the child-on-child violence in our community. The most recent incident happened just a few blocks from this proposed venue. I understand that the applicants grew up here and know the issues here. People have reasons for their positions. People raising children in the neighborhood have reasons to want to halt the bar scene. And people want to make money, run businesses and stay in their community. Can we make common cause with efforts to make this place good for all of our children? We will disagree, but how we conduct our disagreements matters. The young people of our community — who we say need our guidance on ending violence — watch what we say and do. How do we conduct our disputes? By the way, I don’t think a community ever wants to make its neighbors feel that they either must adjust to living in an “entertainment zone” or leave. K Webster
Give the man a chance To The Editor: Re “Good guys getting bounced by liquor license politics” (talking point, by Clayton Patterson, Jan. 17): People, this applicant is bringing a star chef, John DeLucie, to our neighborhood, and also a menu of his family’s culture, with drinks that go with this menu. Why try to destroy him before he even opens? Jorge Medina
Why is this such a big thing? To The Editor: Re “Good guys getting bounced by liquor license politics” (talking point, by Clayton Patterson, Jan. 17): I’m in support of this application. There should be no reason why a restaurant closing at 2 a.m. should be a problem to anyone. Why is this such a big thing? The applicant is a person
who gives back to his community, helps out his church, and donates to charity groups and a Little League team from this neighborhood. Why would people do this? He’s a good man and we should stand behind a neighbor like this. Ruben Garcia
Sometimes right ain’t wrong To The Editor: The conservative right has been talking a lot lately about cutting back on government programs. And I couldn’t agree more. A good place to start would be to eliminate the drone program. And do we really need a military base in Australia with missiles pointed at China? Speaking as someone who served in the Army in Germany from September 1967 to December 1968, the only reason we left our troops in Europe after World War II was because the Soviet Union left their troops there. Well, not only does the Soviet Union not have its troops in Europe, it hasn’t even existed for almost a quarter of a century. Bringing those troops home would save billions, if not trillions, in tax dollars. Moving on to social programs: William Buckley once said, “It is time to take drugs out of the black market and put them on the free market.” Another conservative position that I agree with. This would not only take the burden off the prison system, but would eliminate many police and F.B.I. task forces, and would also do away with the D.E.A., once again saving taxpayers billions of their hard-earned dollars that would otherwise be spent on an unwinnable drug war. The list of programs that could be done away with could go on and on before touching even one penny that goes toward the comfort and well-being of the taxpayer. So, let me wrap this up with a final conservative opinion I agree with: Ronald Raygun once put his opinion on illegal immigration in the form of a Q & A. Q: “What do you call an illegal immigrant?” A: “A wiling worker.” Peace. Jerry The Peddler E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to the East Villager, Letters to the Editor, 515 Canal St., Suite 1C, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The East Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The East Villager does not publish anonymous letters.
WE NEWSP January 31 - February 13, 2013
Noho and Soho’s firewall against N.Y.U. is at risk talking point By Andrew Berman The mantra from the New York University administration throughout the public approval process for the school’s massive expansion proposal was “We’re making our plans transparent and predictable.” Even if you didn’t like the university’s overwhelming proposal, its argument went, at least you knew exactly what it was planning. Apparently, the N.Y.U. administration defines “transparent” and “predictable” a little differently than most of the rest of us. Literally within days of getting its final approval from the City Council to build more than 2 million square feet in the heart of Greenwich Village, N.Y.U. filed plans for an additional project it had never previously disclosed, with open-ended and deeply troubling implications for Noho and Soho. N.Y.U. is seeking a zoning variance to allow it to place physics labs, classrooms and other facilities in 726 Broadway, located at Waverly Place in the Noho Historic District. N.Y.U. has long had a presence in the building, and it was well known it had future plans for the building. But what the university never revealed was that these plans would violate the special zoning restrictions for Noho and Soho, require a precedent-setting zoning variance, and involve the addition of a highly intrusive, four-story mechanical penthouse atop the building. Now, just to be clear, no one is surprised that the N.Y.U. administration lied during the public review process — it’s certainly not the first time N.Y.U. has done so to help get a plan approved. What is more surprising is how brazen it has been about it, as well as the lack of response from public officials to whom the university administration (at least ostensibly) lied, and who approved N.Y.U.’s plans. N.Y.U.’s application for a variance from the zoning restrictions for the site is now before New York City’s Board of Standards and Appeals, which will ultimately decide if it is granted. And while the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, the Noho Neighborhood Association, the Soho Alliance, Community Board
2, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and several N.Y.U. professors have spoken out against the variance, there has been no word from any of the entities who approved N.Y.U.’s massive expansion plan. These include the City Planning Commission, Borough President Scott Stringer and the City Council (among whom only Charles Barron voted against
A 1970s special zoning bans most university uses, including dorms and classrooms.
the plan) — all of whom routinely weigh in on variance applications. By contrast, at the Community Board 2 hearing on the variance proposal, several N.Y.U. professors showed up to oppose the plan, saying the facilities N.Y.U. claimed it needed at 726 Broadway were exactly the same facilities the university told city officials it needed a few blocks away as part of the massive, 2 million-square-foot expansion plan which the officials had already approved. There is more than just deceit involved here. In spite of their proximity to N.Y.U., Noho and Soho have relatively few N.Y.U. facilities. Given the university’s seemingly boundless appetite for expansion and the ease with which it could seemingly gobble up much of these neighborhoods, this — the lack of N.Y.U.’s presence — may seem like inexplicable good fortune for the community. But it’s no coincidence. There is, in fact, a very good reason behind the conditions as they exist today. The special zoning created for Noho and Soho in the 1970s prohibits most types of university uses, including dormitories and classrooms. For this reason, N.Y.U. has never been able to expand much within these small but very distinctive neighborhoods located at its doorstep. That may all change soon. In seeking the
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variance from the B.S.A. for 726 Broadway, N.Y.U. is asking that this excluded class of university uses be allowed into the neighborhood. The university’s argument? It has no other place it can put these uses, and — to hear the university tell it — they absolutely have to be right next to N.Y.U.’s other existing facilities. If the B.S.A. accepts this argument, the firewall that has kept Noho and Soho relatively free from the N.Y.U. expansion onslaught will be destroyed. You can guess what the future will then hold for these neighborhoods. But the concerns about N.Y.U.’s proposed variance for 726 Broadway extend beyond just these issues of precedent. Neighbors have expressed very real worries about the health effects of allowing the university’s physics labs into the middle of an area with many residents, as well as the fact that the plan requires N.Y.U. to build a mechanical penthouse with ventilation equipment equal in size to a four-story building atop the existing structure. In addition to health concerns, this rooftop addition would have a jarring and very visible negative impact upon the hard-fought-
for Noho Historic District. So the N.Y.U. administration is up to its old games again, with only the mayor’s appointees on the B.S.A. standing between N.Y.U. and the floodgates protecting Noho and Soho. The outlook? Perhaps not as rosy as one would hope. At the hearing on the application, the B.S.A. chairperson openly complained that she could not understand why so many people were opposed to this variance (the B.S.A. had received scores of letters opposing the application via e-mail); why we thought it would change the character of the neighborhood; and why we felt N.Y.U. had been dishonest. And the B.S.A. vice chairperson questioned why we thought the board could ask N.Y.U. to prove its claim that the variance it was requesting was necessary, or that reasonable alternatives did not exist, saying that the law did not explicitly authorize the B.S.A. to do so. A decision on this case, and the fate of Noho and Soho, is expected soon. Berman is executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
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January 31 - February 13, 2013
Larry Selman, ‘Collector of Bedford St.,’ dies at 70 OBITUARIES By Albert Amateau Larry Selman, the Greenwich Village legend who collected more than $300,000 for various charities over the years, although he lived at the edge of poverty himself, died Jan. 20 in Beth Israel Hospital at age 70. He was the subject of an Oscarnominated 2002 documentary, “The Collector of Bedford Street,” by Alice Elliott, a Village neighbor. As a result of the film, Selman, who weighed 3 pounds at birth and was developmentally disabled, became known far beyond the neighborhood where he had lived since 1968. His obituary has appeared in The New York Times and The Jewish Daily Forward, as well as newspapers in Boston and Houston and on National Public Radio. Since 1970, Selman had been soliciting contributions, a dollar or so at a time, for causes that included cancer care, disabled firefighters, families of 9/11 victims, The Caring Community, St. Vincent’s Hospital and, most recently, a Jewish Association for Services to the Aged project to provide pets for the elderly. Larry Selman shared his small Bedford St. apartment with his dog, Penny, and a cat, Happy, the latter who died shortly after Hurricane Sandy. In a conversation before his death, Selman told Jon Kalish, an N.P.R. reporter, that he wanted to get another cat. Saving a cat was a mitzvah (blessing), he told Kalish. At Selman’s shiva (mourning reception) on Jan. 21, Kalish spoke to firefighters from the firehouse at Sixth Ave. and Houston St. who came by to pay their respects. “Larry the Raffle Guy” was a frequent visitor to the stationhouse to sell raffles benefitting charity, they told Kalish. On a Christmas Day some years ago, Selman appeared at a firehouse in East New York dressed as Santa Claus. Sally Dill, a neighbor who was a close friend of Larry Selman for the past eight
loneliness, invited homeless people to stay in his flat. Some of his neighbors took exception to his open-door ways and tried to get him evicted. But many others rallied to his defense. Selman agreed not to let homeless people use his apartment and his friends established a $30,000 trust fund for him, according to The New York Times obituary. The film “The Collector of Bedford Street” gave Larry Selman the opportunity to travel. Elliott took him with her to Los Angeles to the Academy Awards
in 2003. (A documentary on the World Trade Center towers won that year.) He also went with Elliott to a 2007 showing of the film in Qatar for the opening of a center for children with disabilities. In 2009, despite being confined to a wheelchair as a result of diabetes, he attended a ceremony on the occasion of his winning The Caring Award for outstanding volunteer work, which he shared with General Colin Powell. A celebration of his life will be held April 2, his birthday, at Greenwich House Music School, at 46 Barrow St.
Harold Kent, 86, founder of Economy Best Vision shop Larry Selman around the time of the 2002 documentary about him by filmmaker Alice Elliot.
years, told Kalish that Selman loved to travel. At one point in his youth he worked as a package courier from New York to Washington, D.C., and Boston and he was very good at it, Dill told Kalish. Born in Brooklyn to Minnie and Phillip Selman, Larry survived his precarious infancy and attended public school, but dropped out when he was told at the age of 16 that he would probably not be able to finish high school. He worked as a Parks Department laborer and lived with his parents until they died in 1968. With the help of an uncle, Murray Schaul, Selman moved into the Bedford St. studio. Schaul, who died in 2005 at age 81, used to visit Selman and helped supplement his S.S.I. income. When Schaul became ill in the 1990s, Selman became depressed and, in despair and
In Memory of Larry Selman Friend * Avid Mets Fan * Community Activist Incredible Fundraiser for Charity Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick 853 Broadway, Suite 1518, New York, NY 10003
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By Albert Amateau Harold Kent, founder of Economy Best Vision and Hearing on W. 14th St., died last September at age 86, but his son, Edward, who learned the business from his father, is carrying on the family tradition at the store between Seventh and Eighth Aves. The tradition goes back nearly six decades. “My father had three stores on 14th St.,” said Edward. “One branch of the family was in the eyeglass business, but he went on his own and opened the first Economy Best Vision between Sixth and Seventh Aves. about 55 years ago.” Later, the business moved to an upscale part of 14th St. between Fifth and Sixth Aves. where it was known as Optical City. “I remember sweeping the floor at that location when I was 9 years old,” Edward recalled. When commercial rents began to soar in the early 1980s, Edward, who was taking a bigger role in the businesses, found the present location at 223 W. 14th St. Back then, W. 14th St. between Seventh and Eighth Aves. still retained some of the aura of “Little Spain.” It was the site of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The church, dedicated to the patron saint of Mexico, has since moved into the merged parish of St. Bernard’s, between Eighth and Ninth Aves. on W. 14th St. A few Spanish restaurants and a Spanish bookshop have also gone, but La Nacional and the Spanish Benevolent Society are holding on. Nevertheless, some longtime merchants remain. Peter Wallach, doing business as owner of the nearby Frame Shop since 1978, said that local merchants share a pride in the neighborhood and patronized each other. Harold Kent was born in Brooklyn, the son of Bernard and Hannah Kent,
Over the years, Harold Kent’s eyeglass store was in three different locations on 14th St.
but the family moved to Florida at some point. “He used to talk about parking cars for hotel guests in Miami Beach,” Edward said of his father. “He played guitar and was a professional mambo dancer for a season in the Catskills. He served in the Navy for four years on a minesweeper. They picked up mines and blew them up. Two men from the Navy were at the funeral on Long Island in September and presented my mother with a flag. It was very moving,” he recalled. In addition to his son, also surviving Harold Kent are his daughter, Elizabeth, his wife of 55 years, Ida Rose Kent, and four grandsons, Louis, Victor, Brian and Andrew.
January 31 - February 13, 2013
St. Brigid’s reopens after $15 million renovation
Continued from page 1 Ireland and Hungary also attended. “May God the everlasting live in this place,” Dolan told the worshipers and celebrants packing the pews and the upstairs gallery. “If this isn’t a day of gratitude, I don’t know what is,” he said.
Dolan praises Egan He praised Egan, to his side, for saving the church, saying, “You made a rather daring decision” to resurrect St. Brigid’s in an era of belt-tightening by the archdiocese. Dolan recalled the waves of immigrants who have worshiped at St. Brigid’s, starting with the Irish, who built it in 1848, Germans, Hungarians and Ukrainians, Italians and Hispanics. Walking down the main aisle, the archbishop sprinkled congregants with water he had blessed, after which they quickly crossed themselves. Rolling up his shirtsleeves he then strode from the altar down the aisle to the church’s inner doorway, and grasping the door jam heartily, slathered holy water on it. Then he lit incense on the altar, which wafted in a great cloud up to the gallery on the church’s downtown side. Next, he lit candles on the altar. “We’ve used everything,” Dolan said, “sight, hearing, fragrance.” Tiny relics of St. Brigid and St. Emeric were also installed in an aperture in the altar. In his remarks, Egan said, in part, “I want to congratulate the community of faith — St. Emeric and St. Brigid’s. You’re a blessing to Alphabet City, here in the East Village. … I want to thank the wonderful donor and the community.” Members of the Committee to Save St. Brigid’s, however, were angry Egan was even up there speaking. Yet Edwin Torres, the committee’s leader, did get to speak from the pulpit and give a reading of scripture.
Ato to lead parish Father Lorenzo Ato, the pastor of the new merged St. Brigid and St. Emeric, who was formerly just the pastor at St. Emeric, also recalled the many different ethnic groups who have called the Avenue B church home. He’s been given a big responsibility to carry on the tradition, he said. “Now, we are living in a new era,” he said, “where St. Emeric and St. Brigid are united.” Among those sitting in the upper gallery during the Mass were Andrea Calamaras and Lois Rotella, who both graduated from St. Brigid School’s eighth grade together in 1965. “We had green uniforms and little green bowties, and a Peter Pan shirt collar,” recalled Calamaras, who now lives on Long Island. “Tuition was $3 a week. The things that go on today,” she added, “Monsignor Lynch wouldn’t have stood for it.” Seated in the row behind her was a new-
Photos by Jefferson Siegel
Former Archbishop Edward Egan, left, also participated in the dedication ceremony along with Archbishop Timothy Dolan, center, much to the chagrin of activists who fought against Egan’s efforts to demolish the historic church.
Daunting renovation job At a press preview last Thursday, the architect and contractor who oversaw the church’s reconstruction called it a daunting challenge. St. Brigid’s eastern wall had separated from the building, putting the church at risk of collapse. Michael Doyle of Acheson Doyle Architects said they were intent on preserving the reredos — the large, ornate, arch-like structures on the wall behind the altar — and really couldn’t have done this without preserving and keeping the wall standing during the renovation. St. Brigid’s was designed by Patrick Keely and built by Irish boatwrights who worked in nearby shipyards on the East River. “We never found any organized plans,” Doyle noted. “Everything was built from scratch, so to speak.” Lead contractor Michael J. Fitzgerald said he’s worked on numerous church projects for the archdiocese, but this was the most challenging — and, from the sound of it, the most satisfying. The two noted that the ground under the church — as in most of the East Village — is all swamp. “We found a river under the north tower,” Fitzgerald added. Fitzgerald said St. Brigid’s was built very well for its day in 1848, but that the subsoil conditions simply caused the church’s serious problems.
BUILDING A better foundation
Worshipers packed the church for the dedication Mass.
comer to the East Village, Ryan T., 28, who works in sales. For the past two years he has lived a couple of blocks away from the church, and now plans to attend services there. “I used to go to Old St. Patrick’s [on Mulberry St.],” he said. “That was a 15-to20-minute walk. This is two minutes.”
Critiques AND condemnation At a reception in the church’s lower hall after the dedication, Dolan posed for photos with parishioners and community residents as a mariachi band played. Speaking at the reception, Roland Legiardi-Laura, who lives across from the church, and has keenly monitored its renovation, said he’s disappointed the steeples weren’t restored atop the church’s two towers. He said steel beams could be installed inside the towers’ corners to bear the steeples’ weight.
“The key word is that it’s difficult,” he said. “It’s not impossible.” Meanwhile, Committee to Save St. Brigid’s members were fuming. One of them, Patricia Melvin said, “The committee is angry about the lies and the omissions [during the dedication Mass]. They didn’t once praise the Committee to Save St. Brigid’s. And they praised Egan.” “Egan didn’t do anything,” said local stained-glass artist Patti Kelly. “He actually wanted to bring down the church.” Torres, however, took the high road. “I’m ecstatic,” he said. “I don’t need any recognition. The only one I care about is the Lord. The Lord up there knows what we did.” “The rest of us are pissed,” chimed in committee member Courtney Weber. “Edwin and Dolly [Migdalia, Torres’s wife] should have been honored.” Raised Catholic, Weber is a Wiccan who honors St. Brigid, who is also considered a pagan Celtic goddess by Wiccans.
The building was constructed on top of wooden piles extending 26 feet down into the ground. Where the piles were submerged in the water, they were fine. It was in the area of the fluctuation of the water level — the top 6 feet of the piles — that they had become rotten, which was the reason the church was literally sinking, most obviously at its detached back wall. The solution was to cut out the tops of the wood piles and replace these sections with steel, then cement them together. On top of the fortified piles, a new, 20-inch slab of concrete was installed for the church’s lower-level floor, but not before lowering the floor by about a foot and a half to provide more headroom.
Window work As for the church’s windows, Fitzgerald said these were restored fairly faithfully. He said they found the remainder of the church’s windows that had been removed, and patterned the new stained glass after them. However, the angels that are featured in the middle of the windows ringing the church’s first floor were taken from Harlem’s Thomas the Apostle Church, which had been razed. St. Brigid’s original first-floor windows had featured saints and the names of Ireland’s counties. The small, circular medallions in the church’s western windows, facing Avenue B, are original, however, as are the “thistles,” the four, small, triangular-shaped windows high on
Continued on page 16
1 4 January 31 - February 13, 2013
January 31 - February 13, 2013
Photos by Sam Spokony
Renovated ‘famine church’ is a real feast for the eyes
During a press preview last week of the renovated St. Brigid’s Church — now renamed St. Brigid and St. Emeric Church — architect Michael Doyle and contractor Michael J. Fitzgerald, who teamed up on the project, joined Father Lorenzo Ato to give a tour of the historic “famine church” built by Irish immigrants fleeing the potato blight in their homeland. Opposite page, top left, Father Ato photographed on the church’s gallery level, overlooking the magnificent space; lower left, Doyle speaking about the project’s challenges; lower right, Fitzgerald explaining how they lowered the lower hall’s floor and also sheathed the metal columns — like the one behind him — with concrete for extra strength. This page, clockwise from top left, a gallery-level window showing stained-glass angels salvaged from a Harlem church; a window on the church’s western wall showing the small, round, painted-glass medallions that were salvaged from St. Brigid’s Church; above the original reredos and small “thistle” windows, an inscription and medallions were uncovered under layers of paint, and were then touched up with the same color paint — the inscription reads, “Oh How Delightful Are Thy Tabernacles O Lord of Hosts Glory to God”; plaster faces of the Irish boatwrights who built the church in 1848 adorn the walls along the second-floor gallery.
1 6 January 31 - February 13, 2013
Photo by Jefferson Siegel
Dolan anointed the reopened Church’s altar with “chrism,” or consecrated oil.
Resurrected church reopens Continued from page 13 the church’s eastern wall. St. Brigid’s original windows — some of which were sadly knocked out during the aborted demolition — weren’t stained glass but cheaper, painted glass, from Bavaria.
SOME Faces from the past
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Atop the church’s support columns in the upper-level gallery are plaster faces said to represent the original boatwrights who constructed the historic house of worship. Fitzgerald said these were recovered from Staten Island, where they were being stored. They’re painted gray so as to resemble stone. In general, the church’s interior color schemes are based on layers of paint that they found while doing the renovation. At one point early in its history, the church’s walls had actually been “gaudy,” festooned with stencils, Fitzgerald said. “There were more stencils than there was paint,” he said. However, in the 1960s, during Vatican II, the church’s interior was dramatically altered, covered with carpeting and basically whitewashed, Doyle said. As for the exterior, it was brownstone that didn’t age well. In the 1960s it was stuccoed and painted yellow. In the renovation, the church’s exterior walls were redone with precast concrete. The slate roof was redone with more durable — and some would say, more beautiful — copper cladding.
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Regarding restoring the church’s steeples, which were removed for safety reasons in the 1960s, Fitzgerald said he knows the community really wanted this, but the way the church towers’ walls were constructed, they just can’t bear the weight. The slabs of the brownstone exterior undulated in thickness and were then backed by layers of bricks of varying thickness,
so the walls don’t have the same load-bearing capacity as a more uniform wall, he said. In a final touch, the massive original bell from 1858 was recently placed outside in front of the church. For Doyle, the church was a special project, since he grew up nearby on E. 14th St. It was during a visit to St. Brigid’s as a child that he realized he wanted to be an architect. Father Ato noted that a number of things had been brought over from St. Emeric, ranging from the sound system (“very expensive,” he noted) to the wooden Stations of the Cross that are interspersed with the first-floor windows, as well as various statuettes of saints, plus a threeyear-old organ. “The people are happy,” he said. “The parishioners are happy. Everything is new. We have air conditioning, we have nice heat.” There will be two Masses in Spanish and five in English during the week, he said, in addition to 6 p.m. Saturday Mass in English and Sunday morning Masses in both languages. “Maybe we have so many Chinese, we will add Chinese. We have to see,” he added.
‘A win for the community’ Councilmember Mendez, speaking at the reception after the dedication, said she understood the committee’s feelings. However, she said, “At the end of the day, it’s the joyous occasion. It’s the struggle — this wasn’t easy, it wasn’t something that the archdiocese wanted to do. We’re grateful that the angel came forward.” Mendez noted that Democratic State Committeeman Michael Farrin has told her how the church, during the Tompkins Square Park riots, was a place to get medical help for activists and protesters injured by the police. “In this community, where we have fought and lost so much — and we have won a few things — this gives us hope,” Mendez said of the beautifully restored church. “This wasn’t just fought by the committee and St. Brigid’s Church, it was fought by a lot of people in this community, different backgrounds, different faiths — people who love this community, and love this building.”
January 31 - February 13, 2013
continental cleared of accusations about door policy By JEFFERSon SIEGEL A popular East Village bar has been cleared of complaints that its door policy was discriminatory. Continental bar on Third Ave. at St. Mark’s Place was the target of complaints filed with the city’s Commission on Human Rights, as well as several demonstrations that were organized by the group Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (A.N.S.W.E.R.). Two complaints filed with C.H.R. claimed people of color were denied entry to the bar while others easily passed the bouncers’ scrutiny. Protests drew dozens to the bar several times in 2011. There was even a Facebook page critical of the bar’s purported door policy. The bar’s owner goes by the name Trigger and sometimes Trigger Smith. “As I have said all along, my only interest in having any door policy whatsoever is to have a safe and comfortable atmosphere in my bar by keeping out any ‘over the top’ element, be it saggy/baggy jean wearers, Jersey Shore knucklehead types or anyone else that we feel might be more trouble inside the bar than keeping outside,” Trigger said when informed of the commission’s rulings. “I’d rather pass on the drink sales I’m losing by not letting them in, for the overall safety of the rest of our customers who just want to have a good time hassle-free,” he added. “Both complaints [against Continental]
let’s do something together at TRINITY WALL STREET
All Are Welcome All events are free, unless noted. 212.602.0800
TRINITY CHURCH Broadway at Wall Street 74 TRINITY PLACE is located in the office building behind Trinity Church
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SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3 & 10, 10am The Gospel, Times, Journal, and You Discuss the editorial pages of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the assigned gospel for the day. 74 Trinity Pl, 3rd Fl, Parish Library
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 6-7pm The Poet’s Corner From the Psalms to Walt Whitman— explore how the divine is communicated to us through verse. 74 Trinity Pl, 3rd Fl, Room 3
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3 & 10, 10am Discovery Epiphany Series: A People’s History of the Episcopal Church A history of the Episcopal church from the perspective of those who lived it. 74 Trinity Pl, 2nd Fl, Parish Hall
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7 & 14, 1pm Concerts at One International Contemporary Ensemble Trinity Church
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 7-9pm Community Bible Study: Mark 12 Delve deeper into this text to discover another level of meaning. 74 Trinity Pl, 2nd Fl, Parish Hall
worship SUNDAY, 8am & 10am St. Paul’s Chapel · Holy Eucharist SUNDAY, 8pm St. Paul’s Chapel · Compline – Music & Prayers SUNDAY, 9am & 11:15am Trinity Church · Preaching, music, and Eucharist · Sunday school and child care available MONDAY – FRIDAY, 12:05pm Trinity Church · Holy Eucharist MONDAY – FRIDAY, 5:15pm All Saints’ Chapel, in Trinity Church Evening Prayer, Evensong (Thurs.) Watch online webcast
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3 & 10, 1pm Writing God: Spiritual Journaling Further your own spiritual pilgrimage through journaling. Meets every Sunday. 74 Trinity Place, 3rd Fl, Room 2
an Episcopal parish in the city of New York
Photo by Jefferson Siegel
The city has dismissed complaints that the Third Ave. bar had discriminated against people of color.
are closed,” Clifford Mulqueen, deputy commissioner and general counsel of C.H.R., told The Villager last week. “We found no probable cause to believe discrimination occurred. The ownership of the bar provided us with videotapes showing customers that were going in and out. There was no indication that people of color were being turned away. People of color were being admitted." Mulqueen noted that there were no other similar complaints currently outstanding against the bar. One of the people who filed a complaint with C.H.R., Shaniqua Pippen, 25, from Brooklyn, claimed she and three friends were denied admittance to the bar one night in June 2010. Pippen asked one of the door bouncers, who was black, why they were being denied entry. “Do we need to be regulars or do we just need to be white?” Pippen said she asked the bouncer, and claimed he replied, “Your people don’t know how to act.” A request for comment to one of the organizers of the protests was not returned by press time. Continental, which opened in 1991, used to feature live rock bands nightly. But the music scene shifted to the Lower East Side and Brooklyn, and in 2006, Trigger reluctantly transformed it into a cheap shots bar — and finally actually started making money on the place.
1 8 January 31 - February 13, 2013
punk party brings back ’70 scenesters and memories By paUL DERIEnZo The book-signing party for “The Best of Punk Magazine” brought together an all-star cabal of artists and writers who were present at the beginning of punk rock in New York in the early and mid-1970s. Their platform at the time was Punk Magazine, which was started by three high school friends, John Holmstrom, Ged Dunn and Legs McNeil, in 1975 and published 17 issues in a short but influential run that came to an end in 1979. A few more issues came out in 2007 and the magazine is available on the Web. The new book collects the covers, articles, cartoons and artwork that defined the age of black-clad punks who turned the music world and American culture on its head, as the hope and promise of the 1960s faded into the jaded conformity of Reaganism. The book is the second attempt by Holmstrom, who did the back cover of the Ramones’ “Rocket to Russia” LP, his first book effort failing to attract its market. This time the “Best of Punk Magazine” sits at the top of the Amazon charts, and hundreds came to the Powerhouse Arena in DUMBO to meet former staff members, many of whom haven’t been together in a decade or more. Among the book signers were writer Mary Harron, who interviewed Sex Pistols front man Johnny Rotten in London in 1976 and returned to New York with a newfound appreciation for the English band’s combination of rebellion and jaded cool. Harron went on from Punk Magazine to direct “I Shot Andy Warhol,” “American Psycho” and “The Notorious Bettie Page.” “We started the movement” claimed Holmstrom. “There was something before punk rock but it was undefined,” he added. “By giving it a visual definition, we brought it to life.” Harron was in the news again as Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association vice president, told followers that “corrupt” video game, movie and music video creators “portray life as a joke, portray murder as a way of life, and then have the nerve to call it entertainment.” “We have blood-soaked films like ‘American Psycho,’ ‘Natural Born Killers,’ they’re aired on propaganda loops called Splatterdays, and every single day.”
Photo by Paul DeRienzo
From left, Tish and Snooky Bellomo and a friend at the recent book-signing party in DUMBO for “The Best of Punk Magazine.”
Editor Holmstrom seemed ecstatic as he recounted LaPierre’s slings at Harron’s work. Punk, he said, has been “attacked by the left and right,” recounting how Jesse Jackson “censored punk rock” by claiming it was “racist, sexist, fascist.” The charges are untrue said Holmstrom, who added that punk’s critics have often suffered from a lack of a “sense of humor.” In a recent conversation, Holmstrom opened up a copy of his book to a 1970s-era flier by a leftist group in Madison, Wisconsin, that was demanding a “Boycott of Fascist Culture” claiming that the Sex Pistols “wear swastikas” and that the Ramones had “instigated racial violence in New York City.” The flier went on to accuse punk of reducing women to “sex objects,” offering as proof that “one female group calls itself The Slits.” Holmstrom and Punk artist Bruce Carleton did work for Al Goldstein’s porn mag Screw, which tempered its arrogant sexism with biting comedy. But Holmstrom also worked for kid-
friendly MAD magazine, and with Will Eisner, award-winning creator of The Spirit comic character and many other innovative cartoons. Despite the sexism slag, Punk did feature its share of female groups and leads. Debbie Harry, whose music started as punk but soon crossed over to pop and even disco, wrote the forward to “The Best of Punk Magazine.” Blondie was also the cover of Punk issue No. 10 in 1977, with Debbie Harry’s cartoon figure performing live on the cover. A cartoon bust of Lou Reed graced the cover of the new magazine’s inaugural issue. Patti Smith was on the cover of the second edition, with Joey Ramone on the third. The Ramones lead singer, who died in 2001, was a co-editor of Punk Magazine. He was involved in naming the magazine’s “Punk of the Month” and in creating the magazine’s signature photo comics. Gathered in Brooklyn at the Powerhouse Arena party were the artists and performers who came to sign copies of “The Best of Punk Magazine.” Sisters Tish and Snooky Bellomo,
who sang backup for Blondie and still perform with their group the Sic F----, posed for photos, while cover artists Bruce Carleton and Steve Taylor signed books. Tish and Snooky also opened the first punk rock boutique on St. Mark’s Place, called Manic Panic, and market their own line of cosmetics. Rock photographer Bob Gruen, who documented punk personalities, was there, as were visual artists Curt Hoppe, Thom Holaday, Roberta Bayley and Robert Romagnoli. Bayley worked together with Holmstrom editing a fumetti by Legs McNeil called “The Legend of Nick Detroit.” A fumetti, Italian for “little puffs of smoke,” is a comic strip made with photos instead of drawings and with speech balloons. The story is of a former top international agent and super-killer named Nick Detroit battling the Nazi Dykes and their schemes for world domination. The story appeared in issue No. 6 of Punk and featured Debbie Harry, Patti Smith guitarist Lenny Kaye, and starred punk rocker Richard Hell in the title role. Does punk have a political agenda? Bands like MDC, a.k.a Millions of Dead Cops — later changed to Millions of Dead Chickens because band members were vegan — Dead Kennedys, Tom Robinson Band with their torch song “Glad To Be Gay,” and The Clash among others had a decidedly antiestablishment bent. But Holmstrom adamantly said, “No.” He also denied that the U.S. ever harbored a movement of fascist skinheads like some punks in England. He said instead punk started with a band called The Dictators. Their 1975 debut album was “Go Girl Crazy,” which included two songs, “Master Race Rock” and “Back to Africa” that generated controversy at the time, although most of the band members are Jewish. Holmstrom said that punks actually “were Jews making fun of Nazis.” “Go Girl Crazy” was a parody influenced by the progressive heavy metal band Blue Oyster Cult, according to Holmstrom, who calls it the first true punk album. He recounted an early conflict when Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators and Wayne County, rock’s first transsexual singer, now known as Jayne County, got into an altercation at CBGB that started as a
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it takes a Villager and an east Villager Your local news source
January 31 - February 13, 2013
EASTvillagerarts&entertainment HERE and now…and, also, then Culturemart offers first looks at new works THEATER
An Annual First Look at New Work in Development From Artists in the HERE Artist Residency Program Through Feb. 10 At HERE 145 Sixth Ave., entrance on Dominick St. Tickets: $10 in advance, $15 within 24 hours of show Student Rush: Free with Student ID (at the box office) For tickets & info: 212-352-3101 or here.org Full production schedule also available at here.org
BY SCOTT STIFFLER Like the image of fully stocked megastore shelves its last syllable conjures, the consumer-friendly content in this year’s sprawling CULTUREMART is a cut above products that have been rushed to market. As such, you’ll be spared the “works in progress” disclaimer that savvy audiences have come to associate with festivals offering an embarrassment of rich ideas bogged down by an embarrassingly underdeveloped presentation. Fully realized shows — fit for public consumption, yet destined to grow beyond their present state: That’s the promise made to audiences by CULTUREMART. “We call it a festival of workshop productions,” clarifies HERE Producing Director Kim Whitener upon request. “In our vocabulary, we have works in progress and workshops. The difference is real. You can throw a work in progress up with very little rehearsal and a couple of lights and invite a few people to see it as a way to give feedback and test ideas. Whereas with a workshop, we’re giving them [the artists] more time, a couple days of [pre-show] tech and more money. They usually take more time rehears-
ing, and they’re selecting a chunk of what this piece is going to be…and we charge a ticket price.” At $10, CULTUREMART offers a very low ticket price. But don’t mistake that deep discount for the implication that you’re getting bargain basement production values. What you see on the stage, Whitener assures, is as well-developed visually as it is philosophically. There is, however, an understanding between artist and audience that the still-evolving work “is a substantial piece of a project coming down the pike, and we’re inviting you into that process. It isn’t finished yet, but you’re going to get a very strong sense of what it is…and what it’s going to be.” In addition to works that have been seen in past CULTUREMART festivals (and three productions by alumni back with new projects in development), eight workshop performances are being staged by new members of the HERE Artist Residency Program (HARP). All of the productions are expected to fulfill HERE’s mandate that commissioned work “blur the lines between dance, theater, music, multimedia, puppetry and visual art” on its journey to a full mainstage presentation. HARP artists have a proven track record as writers, producers and performers — and although they may be well-known to Downtown audiences and within their particular discipline’s peer group, they’re not (yet) household names. “We wouldn’t call them established artists,” says Whitener, “but we don’t call them emerging. They’re mid-career, in the sense that they all have done full-length work before. They’ve been working five to ten years, and they have an established vocabulary. One of our watchwords is ‘artist-led.’ We give them money, time in our spaces, rehearsal space, we give them a lot of support and guidance and council but their vision comes first and we’re here to help make them happen.” Culled from around 200 applicants each year, the members of HARP are, along with their own unique voices, expected to speak the language of their sponsoring venue. “It’s important that the work be hybrid,” Whitener says of her desire to nurture artists able to draw upon “all manner of performance. It brings two or more genres together in a very contemporary theatrical work.” The venue’s multidisciplinary identity has, Whitener notes, “been more or less that way since the inception of HERE in the early 90s, and the establishment of the residency
Photo by Leah Schrager
In “The Wholehearted” (Feb. 8 & 9), collaborators Suli Holum (pictured) and Deborah Stein draw on Appalachian murder ballads and dubstep for this story of a proud but unreliable former champion who relives her glory days in a rundown boxing gym, dreaming of a comeback.
Photo by Vilem Benes
Performed by turns in darkness and in light the five performers in “Restless Nest” (Jan. 31 and Feb. 1) molt and mutate through the use of twist-ties, cardboard and old clothes collected over one year — reassembled into new forms that generate sound, light and choreography.
program in 1998. It was about providing a niche for this kind of work” — work which she describes as “emblematic of our times,” which could mean any time in the 90s just as
well as the here and now. The mid-career artists in HARP are, quite
Continued on page 20
2 0 January 31 - February 13, 2013
CULTUREMART stage shows ready for prime time Continued from page 19 literally, children of the digital age — early adopters of technology that allowed stage performance to fully embrace the notion that artistic output can be the product of “many inputs…film, music, media, online activities” and, in recent years, “social media. As our world became more complex, their work became more complicated. We’re all multitasking, and we’re all multifocused. We think audiences come here to be stimulated in that way, in the same way that our artists are not interested in being defined, or confined, by one medium.” That merging of styles — always, Whitener asserts, to serve a work’s central themes rather than simply providing compelling window dressing, can be seen in CULTUREMART projects such as Soomi Kim’s “Chang(e)” — which Whitener describes as “a political work that involves dance, movement and video” as well as original music. Based on the life and work of Philadelphia-based Asian American performance artist and activist Kathy Change, the work has already had its festival run (on January 28 & 29). Also working the theater/music hybrid aesthetic, Whitener says, is the February 4 and 5 run of mezzo-soprano Hai-Ting Chinn’s “Science Fair” — “which is a song cycle about the scientific world view. The two pieces couldn’t be more different, but they’re both saying, ‘I have a story to tell and I want to do it in this way.’ ” On a shared bill with “Science Fair” (and followed by a conversation on dance and visual art), Mei-Yin Ng’s “Lost Property Unit” concerns a woman in seclusion whose sole link to society is her cyborg pet. Inspired by Chinese mythology, surveillance and the seductive power of technology, the mixed-media dance piece merges elements of Hitchcock suspense, “Twilight Zone” sci-fi fantasy and the melancholy romanticism of filmmaker Wong Kar-wai. Don’t feel the need, though, to Netflix your way through the oeuvre of Rod Serling or become intimately familiar with cultural myths. What ends up on the
CULTUREMART stage is a distilled essence of hybrid influences, rather than a series of snarky, self-referential touchstones. That said, Whitener does hope that exposure to new performance styles, along with new ideas, will inspire audiences to appreciate what an unfamiliar genre has to offer. That’s exactly what happened to her, she recalled, when she began to talk up Robin Frohardt’s original puppet piece (“The Pigeoning”). “Ten years ago,” Whitener admits, “I’d be hard pressed to tell you what piece I loved from the puppetry world. But since then, it has just exploded as a form in New York City. Watching a puppet is this incredible experience of having a story told, but with this whole other world around it. The puppeteers are supposed to disappear, but you know they’re there, manipulating. You’re aware of the artistry behind it, but you get lost in the story. So I feel it’s multitasking in a very deep way.” Performed February 6 and 7, “The Pigeoning” uses five puppeteers, live music and no dialogue to tell its story of obsessive compulsion and pigeons. Robin Frohardt, whom Whitener calls “wonderful and mature, in terms of her artistry,” has created a piece that’s “quite deep, in that it explores a dark world that’s coming to an apocalyptic place. It feels very contemporary, and very real.” “The Pigeoning” is on a shared bill with Joseph Silovsky’s solo work, “Send for the Million Men” — which uses robotics, puppets and handmade projectors to examine how the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti impacted the world during the turbulent 1920s. If you’re reading this article past the run date of a particular show, CULTUREMART puts its audiences, along with its artists, in the unique position of knowing there’ll be a return engagement. As for those who do take in a work during the festival, Whitener hopes “they will then be invested in that project, and will want to come back when it [the full production] premieres. It’s our philosophy of involving the audience along the way. Typically, that process is hidden. But we feel it’s food for the artist, and the project, and the ultimate perfecting of the piece to have this opportunity.”
Photo by Robin Frohardt
Obsessive compulsion and winged creatures loom large, in Robin Frohardt’s “The Pigeoning” (Feb. 6 & 7).
January 31 - February 13, 2013
Youthful offenders and a marble renderer Work of Ross, Viale among compelling exhibitions BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN
Richard Ross: Juvenile-InJustice
Ross focuses on the lives and stories of incarcerated youth. The exhibition is composed of photographs Ross has taken, excerpts from his interviews with those in the juvenile courts and detention facilities and items he has seen during his visits to juvenile incarceration centers across the United States. Over the course of five years, Ross has visited more than 200 institutions in 31 states and has spoken with more than 1,000 juveniles. This exhibition is a moving reminder that the U.S.’s heavy reliance on juvenile incarceration is unique among the world’s developed nations. Through Feb. 16, at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts (31 Mercer St., btw. Grand & Howard Sts.) Hours: Tues.-Sat., 10am6pm. Call 212-226-3232 or visit feldmangallery.com.
O r g a n i z e d b y N e w Yo r k - b a s e d curator Alex Gartenfeld, this exhibition is inspired by Beltane — an ancient Gaelic festival celebrated in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. The custom included a cake, which would determine the sacrificial victim (whoever received the piece that had been blackened over the coals was pushed into the fire). Featuring works by Sam Anderson,
Continued on page 22
Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York
Richard Ross: “Orientation Training Phase, Youth Offender System, Pueblo, Colorado, 1” (2010, Digital Inkjet Print, 24”x38”). Orientation Training Phase (OTP), part of the Youth Offender System (YOS) Facility in Pueblo, Colorado. OTP performs intake and assessment of convicted kids and is set up to run like a boot camp, with staff yelling at kids all the time. All of the kids at OTP have juvenile sentences with adult sentences hanging, meaning that if they mess up, they will have to serve their adult sentence. For example, a juvenile could be the reserving a two-year juvenile sentence with 15 years hanging.
Courtesy of Team Gallery, New York
Tommy Hartung: “The Bible Part Two: Chapter Two (2013, single-channel HD video, color, sound, 5 minutes). See “Black Cake.”
Courtesy of Team Gallery, New York
Installation view of "Black Cake" (curated by Alex Gartenfeld, at Team Gallery, New York).
2 2 January 31 - February 13, 2013
Betbeze, Brand, Hutchins, Tonsfeldt — at Mitchell-Innes & Nash Continued from page 21 Ed Atkins, Cecily Brown, Monica Bonvicini, Massimo Grimaldi, Josephine Halvorson, Tommy Hartung and Steffani Jemison, among others, “Black Cake” examines artists’ use of sweetness across mediums and treatments. Through Feb. 16, at Team Gallery. At 83 Grand St., btw. Wooster & Greene Sts. and 47 Wooster St., btw. Grand & Broome Sts. Hours: At 83 Grand, Tues.Sat., 10am-6pm and Sun., 12-6pm. At 47 Wooster, Wed.-Sat., 10am-6pm and Sun., 12-6pm. Call 212-279-9219 or visit teamgal.com.
Fabio Viale: Stargate
Viale uses marble to render intentionally banal objects, such as crates and tires, or to reinterpret art historical icons. Stargate (2010/2011) refers to his recent realistic sculptures, which consist of stacked and attached plastic grocery crates crafted in marble on a large scale. They are totemic in stature, manifesting as gateways to other worlds and galaxies. Though using machinery to roughly carve blocks of marble, Viale finishes his sculptures by hand. Through Feb. 23, at Sperone Westwater (257 Bowery, btw. Houston & Stanton Sts.). Hours: Tues.-Sat., 10am-6pm. Call 212-999-7337 or visit speronewestwater.com.
Anna Betbeze, Josh Brand, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Josh Tonsfeldt
Josef Albers wrote that “the origin of art [is] the discrepancy between physical fact and psychic effect.” For the four artists in this exhibition, physical fact is a starting point. Josh Brand explores the simple interaction between objects, light and chemicals in the darkroom. Anna Betbeze uses pre-existing shag r u g s a s “ c a n v a s . ” J o s h To n s f e l d t reconfigures shipping pallets that have traveled through a cargo supply chain — and Jessica Jackson Hutchins creates sculptures with used household furniture. Through Feb. 23, at Mitchell-Innes & Nash (534 W. 26th St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). Hours: Tues.-Sat., 10am-6pm. Call 212-744-7400 or visit miandn.com.
Sharon Butler: Precisionist Casual
B u t l e r’s c a n v a s e s a r e s t a p l e d , washed, unstretched — and yet arranged on stretchers. Part precise and part casual, Butler’s abstractions are sparked by the urban setting, s t r u c t u r e s a n d H VA C a r c h i t e c t u r e she observes from the windows of her Bushwick studio. In this new body of work, stretchers are transformed from hidden supports into integral components of the work.
Courtesy Sperone Westwater, New York
Courtesy of the artist, Mitchell-Innes & Nash and Kate Werble Gallery Anna Betbeze
Fabio Viale: “Stargate” (2010/2011, marble, 82 x 63 x 47 1/4 inches; 210 x 160 x 120 cm).
Anna Betbeze: “Lava” (2012, Wool and ash, 123 by 62 in. 312.4 by 157.5 cm).
Wrapped with wrinkled tarps, for example, they provide both a sense of imperfection and balanced structure. Overall, Butler embraces the imperfect and incomplete to establish an enticing tension between impulsive-
ness and grounded rigor. Through Feb. 17, at Pocket Utopia ( 1 9 1 H e n r y S t . , b t w. C l i n t o n & J e f f e r s o n S t s . ) . H o u r s : We d . - S u n . , 11am-6pm. Call 212-375-8532 or visit pocketutopia.com.
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January 31 - February 13, 2013
Just Do Art! BY SCOTT STIFFLER
NANCY GILES: THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF THE ACCIDENTAL PUNDETTE
Nancy Giles is plenty funny on Twitter — where, out of necessity, she boils her essence down to “afro and attitude” while marketing her abilities as a “funny keynote speaker.” But the sly humorist is best appreciated in a medium that gives free reign to her stealthy circular logic (which takes some time to gel, but is well worth the wait). Tart without lapsing into cynicism, the always cerebral and occasionally silly “black gal on CBS News Sunday Morning” is perfectly suited to that format’s grand tradition of essayists who speak softly and carry a big satirical stick. So it’ll be interesting to see what trouble Giles manages to stir up with an evening’s worth of stage time. A long form version of her well-received contribution to Dixon Place’s 2012 Summer Shorts Festival, “The Further Adventures of the Accidental Pundette” includes new material and “technical values.” We’re not quite sure what that means — but so long as it results in more room for Giles’ wit than allowed by a Twitter posting, we’re all for it. At 7:30pm on Feb.1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22 & 23. At Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St., btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.). For tickets
Photo by Jim Moore
Why wait until Sunday morning? See Nancy Giles on Friday and Saturday nights, through Feb. 23.
Photo courtesy of the artist
The people that he meets when he’s biking through the streets: See Ken Brown’s “NYC Street Pop” exhibition can be seen at Chelsea’s Tekserve, through Feb. 24.
($15 advance online, $18 at the door, $12 for students/seniors), visit dixonplace.org or call 212-219-0736.
ART@TEKSERVE: NYC STREET POP
One good character, chronicling countless others: For over 30 years, Ken Brown has been biking around town, making short films and taking photos featuring “only in New York” moments of the city’s colorful citizens as they interact with ads plastered on walls, store window displays and the subway system. The end result? Brown’s wry, often comedic juxtaposition of famous things and fabulous beings produces a combined image that’s every bit as iconic as the famous landmarks (such as Coney Island) he holds so dear. Now, in celebration of their 25th anniversary on 23rd Street, Apple reseller and service provider Tekserve is presenting a collection of Brown’s films photos “and other fun stuff” as part of their ongoing Art@ Tekserve series. The “NYC Street Pop” exhibition will be shown throughout the store — and a Tekserve-produced 2013 calendar featuring Ken Brown’s photographs will be available, free with any purchase, while supplies last. Free. Through Feb. 24, at Tekserve (119 W. 23rd St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). Hours: Mon.-Fri., 9am-8pm, Sat., 11am7pm & Sun., 11am-7pm.
2 4 January 31 - February 13, 2013
Punk party brings back ’70 scenesters and memories Continued from page 18 staged fight but got out of hand with Manitoba hit by a mic stand. Since that incident, Jayne and Handsome Dick Manitoba have recorded together and are friends. But allegations that punk is violent or incites violence have dogged punk musicians from its earliest days. Is punk music violent? “Only when necessary,” Holmstrom said, adding that, “We live in a dog-eat-dog world.” But he doesn’t believe the N.R.A.’s allegation that punk is responsible “for murders in America.” “Look at the first punk band,” chided Holmstrom, referring to The Stooges. They’re “named after the Three Stooges,” known for their violent skits, he said, adding that “the most dangerous people in our society have no sense of humor.” But the controversy hasn’t made punk’s acceptance any easier. Holmstrom laughed as he recounted how “Maus” creator Art Spiegelman called him an “a--hole” at a party where a discussion of punk music came up. Holmstrom is often credited with helping launch punk as an artistic style. He credits as a major influence the mysterious magazine promoter, cultural bomb-thrower and marijuana smuggler known by several names including Tom Forcade, who in 1978 took his own life with a pearl-handled revolver in his West Village apartment. Forcade credits include High Times, the venerable pro-pot monthly he started in 1974. “Forcade was the biggest fan of punk rock I ever met in any life” said Holmstrom. “He paid for me to go on tour with the Sex Pistols.” The band and the Pistols’ U.S. tour were the brainchild of Malcolm McLaren, who operated the London boutique Sex, where he sold punkstyle clothing while plotting his takeover of pop culture. After being repeatedly rebuffed by McLaren, the determined Forcade had his film crew follow the Pistols’ tour, filming the seven performances across the Southeast and Texas, while interviewing the musicians and fans. “Malcolm didn’t want to play the usual venues,” said Holmstrom. “He wanted to cause problems.” “D.O.A.: A Rite of Passage” reportedly cost Forcade $400,000 to produce, and he died before it was released. The tour dates were mostly in the southern part of the country and were packed with fans that included rednecks, alienated teens and folks who were just curious. The band’s notoriety ensured a big police presence at every show and fans inside and outside the concert halls fought, drank and did drugs. In the film it appears that everyone had a great time, although the budding relationship between bassist Sid Vicious in his swastika T-shirt and Philadelphia-born superfan Nancy Spungen, who was Jewish, would end with both their deaths at the Chelsea Hotel within a few months. At the San Antonio show Sid Vicious uses his guitar like an ax to take out a heckler in the audience. Holmstrom recalled the incident but claimed that shortly before the band’s el
kabong moment, he saw “Sid take a beer can in the face” thrown from the audience, adding Sid glared back at the perpetrator with a look of “like hit me again mother------.” Holmstrom said at that moment “the lights and sound went off and it got scary.” Outside a man who said he was hit by the bass asserted, “I don’t like what they are doing, as far as I’m concerned they’re not worth killing.” Holmstrom is credited in the film with “titles and graphic design” along with Punk Magazine artists Taylor and Carleton. In the years after the breakup of the Sex Pistols punk separated into subgenres from commercial New Wave to skinhead, grunge and alternative rock, eventually penetrating into every corner of the world. Politically conscious punk, like its hip hop counterpart, confronted racist statements by some musicians and countered the growth of white nationalist groups in England. Activists were prompted to organize a concert with an antiracist theme, and what started as one concert soon spread across the Atlantic to New York where it caught the imagination of punk fans, politicos and members of the Yippies, based at 9 Bleecker St. The coalition put on concerts in Central Park’s band shell annually each May until they were forced out by the city after a legal battle
Photo by Paul DeRienzo
Also making her mark at the book signing was Mary Harron, who interviewed Johnny Rotten in London in 1976, and went on to direct the films “I Shot Andy Warhol” and “American Psycho.”
that went to the Supreme Court in 1989. Civil rights lawyer William Kunstler defended the concert’s use of its own sound system as inte-
gral to the musicians’ and activists’ artistic and free speech rights. But City Hall claimed the concerts were too loud, eliciting complaints from neighbors in tony neighborhoods blocks away. The court ruled against the organizers, in the end allowing the city to force Rock Against Racism to use a city-supplied sound engineer, effectively ending the use of the band shell for independent rock shows. Is punk dead? “It’s very much alive,” asserted Holmstrom. “It’s a worldwide phenomenon. It’s big in Japan and all throughout Europe.” Recently members of the Russian all-girl punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to prison for singing on the altar of a Moscow cathedral. “People said it would be a fad and it would die after a few years,” recalled Holmstrom, “but it was just starting.” According to him, the naysayers often repeated the opinion of others, but the lesson of punk music is just the opposite: “You have to think for yourself. You can’t let other people tell you what to think.” Whatever the criticism of punk, it’s definitely a movement of folks who think for themselves. DeRienzo is cohost of “Let Them Talk,” every Tuesday at 8 p.m. on MNN’s Lifestyle channel. Thanks to Joan Moossy for her contribution to this article.
East Village is new part of district Continued from page 7 my hometown in West Virginia.” He promised to work to keep Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village affordable.
Will fight for the 99% He vowed to work, as he put it, “to reverse the growing chasm between the rich and the poor, to fight for New York City’s fair share of education money and for parent involvement [in public schools], to ensure passage of GENDA [the Gender Non-Discrimination Act] and to keep our water safe from hydrofracking.” His comments on fracking elicited the loudest cheers of his bucket list of stated goals. He also said he’ll push for surrogate pregnancy to become legal in New York, one of the few states where it’s still banned. Hoylman indicated Albany’s infamously dysfunctional politics will be a challenge, but that he’s got hope. “It’s gotten to the point where, some of our members, during roll call, don’t know whether to say, ‘Present’ or ‘Not guilty,’ ” he said. “But it’s getting better under new leadership.”
‘East Village is important’
Asked afterward if he’ll face a learning curve in representing the East Village, since C.B. 2’s eastern border is the Bowery/Fourth Ave., Hoylman said, “It’s an important new part of the district. I have knowledge of East Village issues as a Village activist and former community board chairperson, where many issues have overlapped, such as N.Y.U., public schools, nightlife, tenants’ rights and historic preservation. Plus, I’m fortunate in having pre-existing strong alliances with C.B. 3, community members and local elected officials in the East Village, including Rosie Mendez, [Congressmember] Nydia Velazquez and Brian Kavanagh. But there’s a lot of work to do in this neighborhood and every part of the district!” Mendez missed Hoylman’s swearing-in because she was at Velazquez’s.
Helps pass gun laws Just days after Hoylman’s swearing-in at F.I.T., the state Legislature passed Governor Cuomo’s N.Y. Safe Act of 2013, implementing the toughest assault weapons ban in the country. Hoylman called the package of gun laws “an urgent necessity” and “long overdue.” Still, he said there is more work to do, including pushing for microstamping to link bullet cartridges to criminals
who fired them. “Voting on the gun bill was an exciting and momentous way to begin my legislative career in the Senate, demonstrating that we as legislators are no longer under the thumb of the gun lobby,” Hoylman told The Villager. As for how things are going so far, he said, “Everyone — senators and staff of both parties — has been incredibly welcoming and helpful. And I’m lucky to be sitting next to my colleague to the south, Senator Squadron, on the Senate floor, who has been generous in showing me the ropes.”
‘It’s nice to have hope’ Meanwhile, his supporters who helped him get there are pulling for him with a renewed sense of hope in Albany politics. Said Jo Hamilton, a former C.B. 2 chairperson and a close friend of Hoylman’s, “Brad has, deservedly, earned the respect of the community and elected officials. He is trusted and it seems that so many consider him a friend. It’s a great combination in a political world where it is too easy to be cynical. It’s nice to have hope.” Hope — in the form of a nice, highly intelligent, handsome guy with progressive politics elected to office. Hey, where have we seen that before?
January 31 - February 13, 2013
Soho wants new review of Broadway vendor situation Continued from page 1 by pedestrian traffic to permit the [current number of vendors].” Many Soho residents have said that those problems are compounded by a lack of consistency and overall effectiveness in the city’s enforcement of current street vendor regulations, such as one that is supposed to stop vendors from operating within 20 feet of a building’s entranceway. To address the entire issue, C.B. 2 now wants Bloomberg to convene the city’s Street Vendor Review Panel, which would include members of the departments of Small Business Services, Transportation and City Planning. The panel was first created in 1995, but it has not been convened since 2001 — the year before Bloomberg first took office. The Mayor’s Office did not respond to requests for comment. Pete Davies, a Broadway resident for more than 30 years and neighborhood activist, lauded the C.B. 2 resolution, saying that he and his neighbors — a group called the Broadway Residents Coalition — have been trying to “make some noise” about this issue over the past year. “We’re very happy to see this, since the review panel is really the key to getting things back together,” Davies said. “The system is just broken right now.” He explained that his group has been counting the number of vendors along Broadway each weekend for about a year, and claimed they’ve found that there are around 100 total vendors located between Houston and Canal Sts. during a typical weekend day. Around 30 percent of those are food carts, according to Davies’s estimations. The C.B. 2 resolution specifically highlighted those larger food vendors, which generally use their own diesel fuel generators and have garnered additional complaints for their allegedly careless disposal of cooking grease. Another of Davies’s points that was mentioned in the resolution was one regarding food carts left on the sidewalk overnight. To do so is a violation of city regulations, but Davies said that his group has found about a dozen carts left overnight, specifically between Houston and Broome Sts. Sean Basinski, director of a wing of the Urban Justice Center that advocates for the rights of street vendors, declined an inter-
view to discuss the matter, instead sending a statement that revealed an apparently hyperbolic and tangential interpretation of the C.B. 2 resolution. “Street vendors are a vital part of New York, and Lower Broadway is a busy commercial strip that is enhanced by the presence of vendors,” Basinski said. “Rather than trying to ban vending there, we encourage the community board to work with vendors to find solutions that benefit vendors, shoppers and residents alike.” C.B. 2 did not call for any kind of outright ban on street vending along Broadway. Instead, the resolution recommends — after the convening of the city review panel — that legislation should eventually be passed to limit the number of vendors there. Pedro Amin, 31, a full-time worker at the Tribeca Taco Truck, which has been located on Broadway between Prince and Spring Sts. for more than six years, said that he often hears complaints from local residents, even though he tries to keep his part of the street clean. “They mostly complain to us about the crowds on the sidewalk, or sometimes they just call the police,” Amin said. “I feel bad about it, because I just want to work, and support my family. And I always take the time to sweep the street around the cart.” Like nearly every food cart worker along Broadway, Amin does not own the cart in which he serves tacos all day. Davies stressed that he and his group understand that fact, and that they are not out to pick a fight with employees like Amin. “We understand that people who work out there are trying to earn a living, and they’re working their butts off,” Davies said. “And a bad part of this is that when the city issues a violation to one of the employees, rather than the owner, they’re penalizing the wrong person.” Instead, as the C.B. 2 resolution stated, Davies puts the onus on the city to analyze this situation and come up with effective solutions. “These food cart workers, along with the residents, are simply being ill-served by the city right now,” he said. “The mayor has allowed this problem to mushroom by not convening the Street Vendor Review Panel at all during his time in office, so of course it’s going to be much more difficult to fix now. It’s become an urban planning issue now. “We just want the city to seriously look at this,” Davies said, “so they can make a real determination about how to move forward.”
notebook Continued from page 3 court. Two or more residential condos will be constructed on the two-story synagogue’s upper level as part of the redesign, and the ground-floor-level sanctuary will be renovated. A Mezeritch board member told us that the developer is “working with the board of the synagogue to preserve their beautiful building.” He added, “Our hope is that the restored 20th-century facade will serve as an inviting gateway to a sanctuary that will be a focal point for community outreach, and that the renovation will ensure that the shul continue as a functioning synagogue for many years to come.” In 2008, as The Villager reported, the shul’s board of directors made a deal with Kushner Companies to raze the venerable building and rebuild the site with a new six-story building, the bottom two floors of which would be for the synagogue, while the top four would be for apartments. The designation of the East Village / Lower East Side Historic District in October 2012, however, curbed the ability of the synagogue to do a full-scale redevelopment of the property, since any such plans need approval from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. Congregation members have previously said that one of the new apartments would be for the synagogue’s longtime rabbi, Pesach Ackerman. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation had advocated for saving the shul. Andrew Berman, G.V.S.H.P. executive director, said of the latest plan, “Hearing that it will allow the synagogue to continue to operate and the building to be preserved certainly sound like good things.” When we spoke to Berman on Tuesday afternoon he was about to step into the City Council hearing on the E.V. / L.E.S. Historic District. Although L.P.C. approved the district, the Council still has the power to affirm or overturn it. But Berman said they expect the former. P.S. 3 HISTORY: Days after its 42-yearold shared zone with P.S. 41 was officially split by the Department of Education and the District 2 Community Education Council, P.S. 3 will once again be revisiting its history — this time without all the anxiety that led up to the zone split. The elementary school, on Hudson St. between Christopher and Grove Sts., will host a panel discussion on Sat., Feb. 2, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., featuring several successful alumni and former P.S. 3 educators. The moderator will be Calvin Trillin, longtime contributor to The New Yorker, bestselling author and former P.S. 3 parent. The event should be a great way to learn more about the origins and development of the school, which was founded in 1971 as a progressive, alternative learning space for Village kids, with a particular focus on the arts. We had a chance to speak with one returning alumni, Nat Oppenheimer, who graduated from
P.S. 3 in 1976 and is vice president of the structural engineering firm that’s overseeing, among other things, the development of the new Whitney Museum at the southern end of the High Line, at Gansevoort St. “I think an important part of this discussion is going to be less about getting nostalgic, and more about pointing out that real people grew up out of this school, that it wasn’t just some hippie experiment,” Oppenheimer said. “It shows that there’s real value to the school’s design.” But there’s always room for a little nostalgia, and it seemed like there were some fond memories that helped draw Oppenheimer back to his old stomping ground for a day. “It always felt like the school was part of the overall Village culture, but for us as students it felt very much like our own family, and a true community in itself.” A particularly special member of the Feb. 2 panel will be Viola Morris, who helped found P.S. 3, and who now lives in New Mexico after also spending several decades in Maine as the executive director of an early childhood education program. But when we spoke with Morris last weekend, she was still miffed by the decision, on the part of D.O.E. and the District 2 C.E.C., to split Greenwich Village’s shared school zone, which will effectively — starting in 2014 — end the choice for local families between P.S. 3 and P.S. 41. “Losing that choice goes against the grain of the school’s original goal of being an alternative, a choice for parents,” Morris said. “I thought we would come back to celebrate the school, but now it feels like we might be memorializing it, since that choice was so important.” RAYS OF LIGHT ON L.E.S.: It looks like one Lower East Side intersection is about to get a little bit safer, as the Department of Transportation plans to install a new traffic light at Madison and Jefferson Sts. by April 30. We heard the news from the office of state Senator Daniel Squadron whose concern about hazards at the intersection compelled D.O.T. to do a study on the need for additional signals there. But don’t get too excited… . In a Jan. 17 letter to Squadron, D.O.T. said that timeline for the signal’s installation had been “tentatively scheduled.” So, we’ll have to see how quickly the department can actually give this one the green light. And shortly before our deadline, we also heard from the office of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that another new traffic light is planned for the intersection of South St. and Rutgers Slip by the end of March. Silver, along with Squadron, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Congressmember Nydia Velazquez and Councilmember Margaret Chin, wrote a letter to D.O.T. at the end of December calling for a speedy installation of the signal for a crossing that the pols said is “known to be hazardous for pedestrians and motorists.” D.O.T. responded with a letter to Silver on Jan. 23, saying that the new light will be included as part of a water main and sewer repair project along South St., between Pike and Jefferson Sts. Once again, of course, D.O.T. said that end of March is an “estimated” timeframe for completion.
2 6 January 31 - February 13, 2013 September 9 - 15, 2010
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January 31 - February 13, 2013
Trying to save our community on a changing L.E.S. CLAYTON BY Clayton Patterson I have documented this community for many years and have witnessed the changes. I was one of the well-known, anti-gentrification radicals, considered by the gentrifies to be a part of the so-called rabble, branded one of the troublemakers, arrested several times, banned from the Seventh Precinct Community Council for asking questions about crime. At one trial, a Corporation Counsel (New York City Law Department) attorney stated to the jury that I was a highly skilled provocateur. Many of the so-called good folks in the community were against what we were doing, until later, when it was too late. Years later, I even had a high-ranking cop pull me aside and tell me that what we were trying to protect and the essence of the messages we were screaming turned out to be true. In came the money and out went our community. In came the anywhere-Americancorporate-cookie-cutter businesses like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Blockbusters, 7-Eleven, Kmart and so on. Out went the individually owned and run restaurants, music venues, neighborhood movie theaters, drama theaters, shoe repair shops, record stores, bakeries, coffee shops, local fashion designers, fabric stores, book stores and so on. We lost our hangouts, gathering spots, places to meet and mingle. The creative types lost the venues and fellow artists to criticize their work and to debate, practice and develop their creative crafts in front of a likeminded audience or peer group. The Lower East Side was one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse neighborhoods in America. Because so much of our history was closely tied to new immigrants, our roots were diverse. When the larger population moved on, there were always a few businesses from that particular group that remained in the community. The neighborhood’s ethnic influences were Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Japanese, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban, German, Irish, African-American, Caribbean, Bangladeshi, Indian, Jewish, Israeli, Yemenite, Chinese, Palestinian, Italian and Korean, among others. If politics were your interest, the L.E.S. was a fermenting hotbed of choices, and each choice had splinter factions to practically satisfy any need: Communists, anarchists, Libertarians, Democrats, Republicans, African nationalists, Puerto Rican separatists, white supremacists, Zionists and so on. My family had been pioneers. In the late 1940s my father and a Native American friend, traveling in a covered wagon, moved a herd of horses from Saskatchewan to Alberta. One of the blessings I received as a child was spending time with elderly Native Americans.
Photo by Clayton Patterson
A photo from Clayton Patterson’s “Front Door Book.” From the 1980s through the mid-1990s, Patterson photographed many members of the Lower East Side’s Latino community in front of the door to his Essex St. home.
These folks were the last survivors of what I would now call the pregentrification generation: The last of the indigenous people who lived the traditional life, whose roots can be traced back hundreds of years. As a young person coming from an extremely conservative, culturally limited, unsophisticated city and province that were less than 75 years old, all these differences, the endless choices, are what fascinated, fed and educated me, and what I fell in love with. In terms of the old L.E.S. that I came to love and be a part of, no question, gentrification has forever changed what was. But, basically, I have adapted to this New World Order, and have even found a way to participate and fit in. There are new businesses I can relate to and support. These new business tend to be a little more modern and upscale versions, related to a youth culture I am familiar with. Those of us who have been around are acutely aware of how many people and
businesses have been priced out, bought out, burned out, evicted, forced to move, or been the victim of changes in the laws and regulations that have eroded tenants’ rights. We tend to live in a right-now society. We concentrate on the issues and problems of today. However, photographs and videos are a way of remembering the past. When neighborhood people, myself included, go though some of the earlier L.E.S. photographs, videos and ephemera, we are always a little overwhelmed by how much has changed and how many people are gone. Because I have spent more than three decades living here, being involved in documenting, in one way or another, a wide cross-section of this community, I have gained some knowledge and insight into the changes. For example, I have been blessed to have been able to photograph hundreds of individuals from this area’s Hispanic community: business owners, politicians, landlords, postal workers, musicians, artists, poets, civil servants, murderers, criminals, drug dealers, drug addicts,
gangsters, stay-at-home kids, street kids, good guys, bad guys and in-between guys and women. I empathize, sympathize and fully comprehend how much of their community, culture, businesses, opportunities and people they have lost to gentrification. As a rule, the majority of Hispanics stay within their own, and do not cross over, or engage in, what is foreign to their culture. Soon two more bodegas on Stanton St. will be gone. The Pitt St. Boys’ Club is gone. Bloomberg, to save money, keeps wanting to cut back on school programs, such as art and sports, which offer a way out of the cycle of poverty. I came from the bad end of the working-class: Art saved my life. The mayor thinks cutting library hours helps save money. There are few after-school programs. CHARAS, which helped a number of people, is gone. The L.E.S. projects still do not have the security cameras that were promised and for which money was allocated. Even the Pathmark is gone, the place where families could save a little money and spend a little more on a few extras. What are the positive alternatives to keep a kid from being sucked into the negative street culture? Bloomberg wants to get rid of guns on the streets, but what alternatives is he offering? More jail time? More stop-and-frisk? More profiling? There are very few L.E.S. Hispanic heroes for the youth to look up to. Raphael Ward, the 16-year-old youth who was murdered on Columbia St., was an example of a young person who had a dream, and was doing his best to do the right thing. Why not name the corner of Rivington and Columbia Sts. after him? Do something to memorialize his time on this earth. We need heroes. He needs to be remembered. I know people were caught off guard by the amount of community support, mostly Latino, there was for Enrique Cruz, Orlando Rodriguez and Javier Rodriguez to get a full liquor license for a Latin bistro on Rivington St. I realize the Community Board 3 members were shocked at how much controversy and negative feeling this denial generated. I am amazed at the lack of appreciation and understanding there was from the community board on how important these guys are to our part of the neighborhood. These guys are local heroes, stand-up guys, who against all odds have succeeded and even prospered in this new gentrified L.E.S. Some of the comments, like “Who cares if they grew up here?”and “These people want to be the voice of our community?” are just offensive. Maybe because I have photographed such a wide cross-section of the Hispanic community, all I have to say is, look at these guys. No gangster, get-over guys here. Like these guys should be stopped and frisked. Please.
2 8 January 31 - February 13, 2013
East Villager News is the East side version of The Villager newspaper, NY States oldest weekly newspaper