The Paper of Record for East and West Villages, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown
February 6, 2014 • FREE Volume 4 • Number 6
Mendez snubbed by new speaker; Calls it payback BY SAM SPOKONY
MENDEZ, continued on p. 4
Sidewalk danger: Dogs getting jolted by stray voltage BY HEATHER DUBIN
tray voltage from a sidewalk in the East Village shocked three dogs during earlymorning walks with their owners last Sunday. Con Edison workers later determined a burned piece of service cable was to blame for the voltage, which was discovered in
scaffolding at a construction site on Second Ave. between E. Ninth and 10th Sts. where Icon Realty Management is transforming an old mortuary into luxury apartments. Meghan Serrano, an East Village resident, was walking Georgie-Girl, her year-old Border Collie mix, by the site when the VOLTAGE, continued on p. 20
Pete Seeger dies at 94.....page 14
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
egardless of all the talk of a sea change in progressive city government, Councilmember Rosie Mendez says she’s still O.K. with being punished in the name of politics. Even though she won reelection to her third term
with more than 90 percent of the vote, Mendez — who represents the East Village and Lower East Side — has now been essentially demoted by new Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and will likely finish out her term as one of the Council’s least powerful members.
A memorial to Philip Seymour Hoffman outside 35 Bethune St. included a Dec. 21, 2008, New York Times Magazine with a cover article, “Portrait of an Artist as an Actor’s Actor,” on Hoffman.
In private, tortured drama, Hoffman loses life to drugs BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
t was early Tuesday afternoon, and fans and admirers of tragic actor Philip Seymour Hoffman were stopping by to pay tribute outside his West Village building, each in his or her own way. Artist Kaz Morimoto stood writing on a watercolor painting he had done of Hoffman and his family —
“The Village will miss you” — then placed it down among the flower bouquets and candles that had been left on the Bethune St. building’s front step. Then he squatted down and put his hands together in silent prayer, holding still that way for a full minute. “I would always see him with his family,” the artist said, “and riding his bike. I’d wave to him.” He just seemed like a good guy,
Morimoto said. A few steps away, in another artistic expression in Hoffman’s honor, Arrowe, 23, was strumming away on a guitar and feverishly belting out a song — “For Lester Bangs” — that he’d written the night before. The title referred to Hoffman’s role as the iconoclastic rock journalist in the movie “Almost Famous.” HOFFMAN, continued on p. 12
Tallmer’s ‘Birth of a Voice,’ Chapter 1...............page 9 Bank gives counterfeit cash.............................page 23 www.EastVillagerNews.com
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February 6, 2014
Whoa! Here comes the Horse The Year of the Horse came trotting into Chinatown on Sunday at the annual Lunar New Year Parade. There were horses to pet, and undulating dragons to enjoy watching, to mark the start of 4712 on the Chinese calendar.
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Heavyweight champ Vladimir Klitschko — the huge guy in the rear — held aloft the Ukrainian ﬂag and rallied with local “Ukes” on Second Ave. in the East Village on Monday.
‘HOT DOG-GATE’ GRILLING ON HOLD: Due to Wednesday’s Slushapocalypse and the slippery condition of the sidewalks, the scheduled Feb. 5 Community Board 2 Parks/ and Waterfront Committee meeting was canceled. This was the meeting at which the Washington Square Park Conservancy members had been scheduled to attend and give an update on what they’ve been doing. (Though, thanks to muckraking — we know she likes that word — blogger Cathryn Swan, at this point, is there anything they’ve been doing that we don’t know?) At any rate, we hear that the Parks Committee is hoping to reschedule the meeting for later this month. Check the C.B. 2 Web site for updates. FIGHTING FOR UKRAINE: In one of the hubs of the Ukrainian community in New York, the East Village, Ukrainian world heavyweight boxing champion Vladimir Klitschko, a.k.a. Volodymyr Klychoko, spoke at the Ukrainian National Home Hall on Second Ave. Monday before more than 200 fellow “Ukes” and activists. He called for an end to the violence in Ukraine and denounced the rampant corruption there. Admittedly, some attendees, like Brooklyn resident Stan Terentyev, came just to see the champ. “He and his brother Vitali, who is also a boxer, made a tremendous career,” he said. “They’re a very good example of the Ukrainian people. It’s an inspiration.” But most in the hall came to hear Klitschko express solidarity with the Ukraine street protests aimed at the Eastern European country’s current government. Massive demonstrations were triggered in November, when, after months of preparation, President Viktor Yanukovych failed to sign the European Union Association Agreement. Subsequently, in mid-January,
the regime passed laws against public protest, and arrested, beat, kidnapped, tortured and murdered protesters, journalists and medics. Seven activists / journalists were killed. Nearly 100 people are missing. In mid-December, Vitali Klitschko, the elder of the boxing brothers, vacated his WBC heavyweight title to run for president of Ukraine in 2015. On a tight schedule on Monday, Vladimir Klitschko was quickly introduced to the crowd. He slammed the level of corruption in his homeland, which has brought the demonstrators into the streets. “It shows how much desire we have in minus 25 degrees Celsius (minus 13 Fahrenheit),” he said of the uprising. “It’s freezing, they’re getting sick and killed. [The protesters] have thousands of illegal weapons, but not one shot has been fired. They’re fighting for their rights and democracy in our country. We have to do what we can to stop the violence and killing.” Klitschko noted that other celebrities, such as Quincy Jones and Arnold Schwarzenegger, have publicly supported the protesters. Also among those at the packed Ukrainian National Home Hall was Natalie Stelmakh, who had just arrived in the U.S. from Ukraine five days earlier. Her anticorruption work had become too dangerous and she is now seeking political asylum in the U.S. Also attending was local resident Roma Shuhan, who has been living on E. Sixth St. since she came to New York from Ukraine as a young girl in 1952. “I’m here to support the opposition in Kiev,” she said. Her last trip to visit Ukraine was in 1996. “Corruption now is worse than ever,” she declared. “You have to pay someone to get a job, your kid in school, to get good grades. The whole system is corrupt and the salaries and pensions are so small. It’s worse than under Brezhnev.” The champ fielded a few questions, and then everyone in the hall emptied out onto Second Ave. in the swirling snow for a photo-op with him holding Ukraine’s blue-and-yellow flag.
KEY KORNER: An old familiar spot in the East Village, 7A Cafe, is changing hands. The 24-hour restaurant, on the corner of E. Seventh St. and Avenue A, served its last meal on Jan. 27. The windows are covered in paper, and the neighborhood must await what’s to come. A 30-day notice of the “corporate change” has been given to Community Board 3, and the new team does not have to present the board with its plans for approval. Moshe Hatsav is listed on the questionnaire section as the departing partner, and Paul Salmon will join the group as the “full-time manager overseeing all day-to-day operations.” Salmon, who has been involved in hospitality for more than 20 years, is behind Miss Lily’s, a Jamaican bar and restaurant on West Houston St., and Joe’s Pub on Lafayette St. A name has not been decided yet, but the application states, “As a nod to the venerable history of this establishment, the new owners plan to incorporate some variation of the current trade name 7A into the new trade name... .” Susan Stetzer, C.B. 3 district manager, explained that the method of operation for the restaurant remains the same, including occasional music and DJ’s. She hopes they stay family-friendly. “We have never had a complaint about 7A, but I have noticed there’s been an issue with crowds a bunch of times,” Stetzer said. “They’ve agreed to a stipulation to have someone manage the outside crowds, if necessary.” Salmon was elusive regarding the details and concept for what’s listed as the New 7A Café LLC. “I love the space there,” he said. “I’m very excited about it, and the new opportunity over there. We want to honor the tradition of the cafe concept at 7A.” They hope to open as soon as possible, and are currently in the “development stage.” Salmon lives in the Village, and understands fitting in with the neighborhood. “We want to work with the community and make it a successful place down there,” he said, “not only for people who visit, but from the community perspective as well.”
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February 6, 2014
Mendez, snubbed by new speaker; Calls it payback MENDEZ, continued from p. 1
Last month, Mendez was one of only four councilmembers who were not appointed to chair any committees — which she says is clearly retribution for the fact that she’d backed Councilmember Dan Garodnick in his race against Mark-Viverito for the speaker’s seat. “I’m disappointed, but I know that the reason I didn’t get to chair a committee was because I didn’t support Melissa,” Mendez told The Villager in a Jan. 31 phone interview. “And I think that’s a viable reason. I don’t like it, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.” In her previous term, Mendez chaired the Council’s Public Housing Committee — and as a lifelong housing activist, she had set her sights last year on entering 2014 as chairperson of the Housing and Buildings Committee. “I had made clear to [Mark-Viverito] that I wanted to chair Housing and Buildings, because that’s my life’s work, and I wanted to continue it,” she said. But that leadership position went to Brooklyn Councilmember Jumaane Williams, who initially ran against Mark-Viverito in the speaker’s race. A source close to the Council said that Mark-Viverito actually promised the Housing and Buildings job to Williams in mid-December — assuming she would win — after he agreed to drop out of the race and support her instead. This all comes during a transitional period in city government that, among other things, has been presented to the public as a shift away from the strong-arm tactics of former Speaker Christine Quinn. It would appear that, for now, reforms to the Council’s internal operations can only go so far. “If things were based solely on merit, I would think I would’ve been considered for [Housing and Buildings chair],” said Mendez, who has actually served twice as a member of that committee. “But I didn’t support the winner of the speaker’s race,
so I didn’t get a good position in the Council. Is that progressive? I don’t know. “The thing is that progressive politics are still politics,” she added. Mark-Viverito’s office did not respond to a request for comment. And the new speaker’s cold shoulder continued even after the committee chairperson appointments were handed out last month. In a Jan. 21 meeting with MarkViverito, less than two weeks after being snubbed for the Housing and Buildings committee, Mendez asked the speaker to create a subcommittee on Mitchell-Lama housing, presumably one in which the Lower East Side rep would take the lead. “[Mark-Viverito] said, ‘No, I’m not gonna do that,’ ” according to Mendez. “She didn’t give a reason, and I didn’t ask for a reason.” Meanwhile, a number freshman councilmembers have been awarded much more powerful positions at City Hall. Notably, Mendez was replaced as chairperson of the Public Housing Committee by Bronx Councilmember Ritchie Torres, a 25-year-old who is just entering his first term. And Downtown Manhattan’s newest face in the Council, Corey Johnson, was granted a key spot as chairperson of the Health Committee. But even without the authority of a leadership position, Mendez still hopes to accomplish some housing goals, saying that she will now approach the issue from a “broader policy perspective.” “I want to look at how we can have reforms that bring more permanent affordable housing to the city,” she said. “I want to make sure that residents have relief from construction problems and noise, and to make sure they have a right to go home and go to sleep without construction going on until 2 a.m., or starting at 6 a.m.” With that in mind, Mendez introduced a bill on Feb. 4 aimed at putting new restrictions on the city’s ability to grant after-hours work permits for construction
Rosie Mendez is among the Council’s handful of least powerful members.
projects. Under current rules, developers are often easily able to secure variances allowing them to do work before 7 a.m. or after 6 p.m. on weekdays, as well as on weekends. Mendez’s legislation would require the Department of Buildings to have a public comment period from local residents before granting any request for an afterhours construction permit, and would ban any construction work on Sundays. Her proposal would also limit the time allowed for construction work during weekday evenings and on Saturdays. “We can’t have the city just rubberstamping these requests anymore,” the councilmember said. “We need to know exactly why developers are asking for an after-hours permit, and we need to know how it will exacerbate quality-of-life prob-
lems for residents.” Mendez also has two other things going for her in the Council, even if they’re not particularly powerful posts. She leads the Council’s Gay and Lesbian Caucus — now a six-member group, which includes other openly gay representatives, like Johnson and Torres — and she co-chairs the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus. And in terms of the lack of recognition or prestige that has gone along with being overlooked by the new speaker, Mendez says it simply doesn’t faze her. “I think I got the recognition I deserved when I got 82.7 percent of the vote in last year’s primary, and then won the general election,” she said. “That let me know that I’m keeping my promise to my constituents, and that I’m doing my job. That’s the only recognition I need.”
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February 6, 2014
POLICE BLOTTER PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
Meatpacking cop bash
From left, Richard Ridge with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen at The New School’s new University Center this week.
University Center in starring role BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
he New School’s new University Center, on Fifth Ave. between 13th and 14th Sts., represents a major step up for the Village school — make that a whole lot of steps up. The 16-story building’s bottom half — its academic portion — is an airy, window- and light-filled space interconnected by a winding network of wide, gray stairways. For the renowned, left-leaning Village university, the just-opened $353 million building represents its first true campus, albeit a vertical one. The most prominent feature of the building’s academic portion is an auditorium with 600 raked seats that can be expanded to 800 by removing walls at its rear. This Tuesday afternoon, the auditorium was jam-packed for a conversation with legendary English actors Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen moderated by BroadwayWorld.com’s Richard Ridge. The two thespians recalled their first New York City theater productions back in the day — Stewart’s had been the more successful. “How things change,” drolly quipped McKellen — currently enjoying worldwide fame as Gandalf in the latest “Hobbit” movie — as the audience laughed warmly. At the event’s outset, New School President David Van Zandt said of the auditorium, “This is a public venue. We’re going to have many programs here. We want it to be open, not only to the Greenwich Village community, but the whole New York City community.” It’s one of Downtown’s largest such spaces, he noted. The theater’s paneling was sustainably built with bamboo. In fact, the entire project is one of the most energy-efficient academic buildings of its type in the nation. Only 35 percent of its exterior is covered by glass windows, helping retain heat. In the classrooms, white panels set beneath rows of narrow horizontal windows reflect light up onto the ceilings, maximizing natural illumination. The library, formerly in the basement in the New School’s previous building on the site, is now on the seventh floor, where it enjoys windows — and is ringed by a green roof of
rainwater- and heat-absorbing sedum. Much of the library’s collection is now electronic. On the second floor, at “High Line level,” so to speak, is a 200-person student cafeteria overlooking Fifth Ave. There is also a separate faculty and staff lounge. At several points, the stairways give onto “sky quads,” or open spaces where students can study or congregate. These were already being heavily used Tuesday, only the second day the building had been officially open. At the top of one stairway is a “social justice hub,” featuring two glass-paneled rooms for student groups’ organizing, plus an open “sky quad.” The building will feature pieces from The New School’s impressive art collection. On Tuesday, Sylvia Rocciolo and Eric Stark, the co-curators for the building, were strolling about the stairways and spaces considering what might go where. They’ll also be enlisting the help of students in the effort. In art of another sort, in a nod to the “hands-on” nature of The New School’s programs in fashion and other disciplines, orange and blue spray-painted construction markings have been prominently left on the raw concrete in some spots. Sitting atop the building’s base is a 600-bed student dorm, which is not all freshmen, but a mix. In general, the area in front of the building and the lobby were full of an exhilirating bustle of activity, with students and faculty going in and out of the building’s multiple doors. Many were catching cigarette breaks in front of the building, and dressed in black. The building design first proposed was a 500,000-square-foot monolithic slab. But, in the face of community pressure, the project — designed by Roger Duffy of SOM architects —was cut back to 375,000 square feet, with setbacks added in the formerly sheer walls. While he often clashed with the school’s progressive student body and faculty during a tumultuous tenure as president, Bob Kerrey, Van Zandt’s predecessor, was a phenomenal fundraiser, and New School officials admit the new building wouldn’t have been built without him.
Police arrested Michael Crew, 27, early on Feb. 2 after he allegedly attacked a police officer so viciously that the officer suffered a concussion and was briefly hospitalized. The incident started around 4:45 a.m., when cops said they were attempting to clear a group of people out of the road near the corner of W. 14th St. and Ninth Ave., after an apparent dispute. Crew was one of the people involved in that fracas, and reportedly refused to move after multiple orders from police. When one of the officers, a 23-year-old man, finally tried to escort him onto the sidewalk, Crew put him in a headlock and threw him down, smacking the officer's head against the ground, police said. As the officer was lying dazed, face-up in the street, Crew reportedly jumped onto his chest and began choking him, before other cops at the scene could drag him off. Even after he was pulled away, Crew continued trying to escape from the officers or wrestle them down until he was finally subdued and handcuffed, police said. The injured officer was rushed by ambulance to Beth Israel Hospital and treated for a mild concussion before being released. Crew was charged with assaulting a police officer, strangulation, resisting arrest and obstructing government administration.
Driving in a daze
Frederick Wande, 36, was arrested on Jan. 30 after he was caught driving while both drunk and high on marijuana, police said. Officers first spotted Wande around 11:40 p.m., as he sat behind the wheel of his Subaru Forester near the corner of W. 13th St. and Ninth Ave, reportedly smoking a joint. Although the car wasn't moving, his keys were in the ignition and the engine was running, cops said. When an officer approached the vehicle on foot, Wande apparently panicked and drove away, heading west on 13th St. But after he circled back minutes later, police pulled him over near the same corner where he was originally parked. The driver smelled strongly of pot and booze, while also slurring his speech and looking unsteady on his feet, according to police — and the officers at the scene said Wande's joint was still sitting on his inside door handle.
Wande quickly confessed to having two additional bags of weed in the car, which the officers recovered, and he also admitted to having had “a few drinks,” according to the police report. But the driver refused to submit to a breath test that would have shown his blood-alcohol level, and when cops asked him for a urine sample to test whether he had marijuana in his system, he also said no. “I smoke every day,” Wande reportedly told the officers, in response to their request for the urine sample. “I smoke on a daily basis. I don’t see the point.” Wande was charged with criminal possession of marijuana, two counts of driving while intoxicated (one for alcohol and one for drugs) and driving while ability impaired (a lesser, noncriminal charge).
Police arrested Rodney Spencer, 52, and James Hunt, 36, on Jan. 29 after they allegedly tried pulling off a drug deal inside the McDonald’s near the corner of W. 14th St. and Sixth Ave. Spencer was first seen inside the fastfood joint around 1:30 p.m., when cops said they saw him holding a bag of marijuana. Soon afterward, he reportedly handed the stash over to Hunt, who had just entered the restaurant, in exchange for cash. Officers stepped in moments later to arrest the pair and recover the drugs. Spencer was charged with criminal sale of marijuana, and Hunt was charged with criminal possession of marijuana.
Pee and run
Robert Chambers, 28, was arrested early on Jan. 31 after he was caught peeing on a parked car, police said. Officers spotted Chambers around 12:45 a.m. as he was urinating on the vehicle near the corner of W. 13th and Washington Sts., according to the police report. And when he saw that he had company, Chambers reportedly fled the scene — but he didn’t get far, as the officers chased him down moments later. Once he was caught, Chambers allegedly tried to prevent the officers from handcuffing him by pulling his arms away and twisting his body. So, in addition to the violation for public urination, he was charged with resisting arrest.
February 6, 2014
L.E.S. seniors demand reopening of stalled subway escalator BY SAM SPOKONY
PHOTO BY SAM SPOKONY
fter 18 months of delays and several missed deadlines for the M.T.A. to fix a broken escalator at the East Broadway subway station, Lower East Side residents and officials are still calling on the agency to fix the critical piece of equipment. That escalator inside the F train station — at the corner of East Broadway and Rutgers St., and which lacks an elevator — has been out of service since August 2012, preventing many elderly and disabled locals from using what is essentially a lifeline for citywide transit. “We need this done as soon as possible,” said Irene Alladice, a senior from the Gouverneur Gardens housing complex, at a Jan. 31 rally outside the station. Residents and advocates were joined at the rally by U.S. Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, state Senator Daniel Squadron and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Another local senior, Jocelyne CunyPanicker, 75, said that walking down the station’s 81-step staircase causes her intense back pain that worsens with each trip. “But I have to do it,” she added, shaking her head, since it’s the only station within walking distance for her. “I have no choice.”
John Raskin, executive director of the advocacy group Riders Alliance, noted during the rally that one of the first complaints his organization received, after its founding in 2012, was from an Essex St. resident who wanted the escalator fixed. “And it’s not just one person,” said Raskin, “because there are 13,000 people who use the East Broadway subway station on an average weekday, and many of them really need that escalator.” The M.T.A.’s work at the station began because the agency was replacing the previous 24-inch-wide escalator with a new 40-inch-wide model. The project was initially scheduled to be completed in August 2013, according to an M.T.A. spokesperson. The project was then reportedly stalled after Hurricane Sandy struck in October 2012, when agency resources had to be prioritized for other stations more heavily damaged by the storm, according to the spokesperson. Later, Con Edison interrupted the work on the escalator while replacing two generators within the station, the M.T.A. rep claimed, which pushed back the deadline to December 2013. Then, after apparent problems with some escalator equipment during recent tests, the transit agency has once again lagged behind schedule — now saying the escalator will be back in service
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (at podium), along with Congressmember Carolyn Maloney and state Senator Daniel Squadron (standing to the left of Silver), urged the M.T.A. to finally finish its work on the E. Broadway subway escalator.
by Feb. 28. In response to the latest missed deadline, the elected officials had a very clear message for the M.T.A. during their Jan. 31 rally. “We will not accept another delay,” said Silver. “We are a community of many seniors,” he continued, “and we pride ourselves on the fact that our seniors don’t need institu-
tionalization, because we provide services that allow them to stay here. This is one of those necessary services.” The electeds also declared they would be back on the scene for another rally if the job isn’t completed by Feb. 28. “It’s time for the M.T.A. to prioritize this challenge and get this escalator fixed,” Squadron said. “Not next month, not in three weeks, but immediately.”
‘Crossing Delancey’ is unsafe at Pitt St., say pols and C.B. 3 BY SAM SPOKONY
iting numerous accidents and injuries to both pedestrians and bicyclists, Community Board 3 and local elected officials are calling on the city’s Department of Transportation to consider installing safety-improvement measures at the intersection of Delancey and Pitt Sts. The awkwardly shaped intersection, which crosses under the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge, was the site of 20 car crashes between August 2011 and August 2013, according to Police Department data assembled by the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives. Four pedestrians and three cyclists were injured in these accidents, according to the data. A C.B. 3 resolution passed at the end of December asked D.O.T. to conduct a traffic study, to evaluate whether conditions at the intersection warrant the installation of new traffic signals, right turnonly lanes, additional lighting under the bridge or a pedestrian island within the crossing area. A month later, the coalition of elected officials — comprised of state Senator
February 6, 2014
Daniel Squadron, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Borough President Gale Brewer, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and Councilmembers Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez — followed with a Jan. 28 letter to new D.O.T. Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, stating the same request. This call on D.O.T. comes about a year and half after the agency last partnered with C.B. 3 and the elected officials, among other local stakeholders, to make similar safety improvements slightly farther west on Delancey St., along the corridor leading to the bridge’s entrance/ exit. “Delancey St. has been the scene of far too many tragedies, and [that previous] working group resulted in commonsense improvements — from shorter crossings to improved traffic flow,” the politicians’ Jan. 28 letter stated. “At Delancey and Pitt Streets, we have the opportunity to prevent future tragedies and ensure better safety measures for our constituents.” Responding to the letter, a D.O.T. spokesperson said on Jan. 31 that the agency “looks forward to discussing potential safety enhancements” at that intersection, and is reviewing the request for a traffic study.
N.Y.U. student reportedly shrooming before plunge COURTESY G.V.S.H.P.
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
he student who fell 15 stories to his death from the rooftop of an N.Y.U. dorm on Jan. 27 was naked and high on hallucinogenic mushrooms, according to witnesses. New York University and the New York Police Department Press Department this week both didn’t confirm reports by witnesses quoted in the Daily News and New York Post who said Titan Lee-Hai, 18, had been acting out of control in the Third North Residence Hall shortly before he fell to his death at around 3:20 a.m. However, the Post reported that a lawenforcement source said, “He was on mushrooms.” According to the Post, Shazi Khurshid, a fellow N.Y.U. freshman, said he was the last person to see Lee-Hai alive — and it was clear he was completely out of it. “I was in the elevator, and he just walked in and punched me in the face. He was naked when he walked in,’’ said Khurshid, 19. “So, it was pretty obvious he was not in his senses.’’ Lee-Hai reportedly urinated on the
Community is pumped as gym finally jerks down its jumbo sign BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
Titan Lee-Hai was an aspiring rapper.
ground floor before riding the elevator to the roof. He opened the roof door — triggering the fire alarm, and causing the dorm’s eventual evacuation — then fell or jumped. He was pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital. A native of Trinidad, Lee-Hai was an aspiring rapper who went by the stage name Trizzykid. A music video for “Do It Like Me,” a song he performs with fellow rapper Ronz, is upbeat, and Lee-Hai looks happy in it.
Fighting to make Lower Manhattan the greatest place to live, work, and raise a family.
quinox gym, at Greenwich Ave. and W. 12th St., finally took down its illegal, monster-size billboard on Monday. The signage was illegal in the Greenwich Village Historic District. And it’s not the first time the tony gym tried this: it also did it four years ago. “After Equinox consistently ignored violations served by city agencies, following our phone campaign and petition drive urging the company to take down their illegal billboard, they agreed,” said Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. “I am thrilled to report
that the sign was finally taken down. This is a great victory for the historic integrity of our neighborhood, and a reminder that corporations and building owners who try to subvert our city’s landmark law must and will be held accountable.” State Senator Brad Hoylman also kept up the pressure on Equinox to pull down the illegal signage. He wrote letters to both Equinox and the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the latter calling for the stiffest penalty. “I hope they get the maximum fine,” Hoylman said on Monday. “This is their second violation. It’s almost like the signs are the cost of doing business, which is disgusting.”
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February 6, 2014
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February 6, 2014
SCENE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Firecracker kids were the bomb: Local youths enjoyed the firecracker ceremony at Sara D. Roosevelt Park to mark
the start of the Year of the Horse.
So glad Tallmer’s back To The Editor: Re “Pitching horseshoes and column ideas with Billy Rose” (notebook, by Jerry Tallmer, Jan. 23): I’m totally delighted to see Jerry Tallmer’s writing in your pages again! I’ve missed him, was worried something had happened to him. As far as I’m concerned, he can write rings around any of your other contributors, and seeing him occasionally is worth the whole subscription to me.
superblocks ruling” (news article, Jan. 16) in which she admitted that, even though she was not in favor of it, she voted for N.Y.U.’s 2031 project because she was “doing it for Margaret Chin.” Will our public officials never learn that we elect them expect-
ing they will listen to their constituents, and vote along the lines of what we want, rather than ignoring us and voting for unpopular projects simply to pander to a fellow official? That is collusion, and it is against the law.
Community boards, preservation organizations, professors, students, everyday New Yorkers — all spoke out long and loud against the plan. But our concerns and fears were not even LETTERS, continued on p. 10
Even Gale Brewer… To The Editor: I was disgusted and appalled by Gale Brewer’s comment in “N.Y.U. now says it will appeal judge’s
Will the House Republicans O.K. Obama's agenda?
Birth of a Voice, Chapter I: The apartment on Perry NOTEBOOK BY JERRY TALLMER
he happiest place I ever lived was a one-room apartment — or one and a quarter rooms — one flight up at 62 Perry Street in Greenwich Village. It was a good-sized rectangular room — the tiny adjunct was the stoveless double-hotplate — facing south over a congregation of backyard gardens, one of which belonged to the three women who owned 62 Perry Street and were my landladies. Two of these women, Roz and Ruth — a book editor and an anthropologist — were what nowadays are called longtime partners, and inhabited the floorthrough (the garden apartment) just below me. The third landlady, call her Orchid, lived further upstairs, alone except for the come-and-go lovers, gender unknown, with whom she usually quarreled. You could hear the bitter recriminations — indeed, you couldn’t not hear them — through the ventilation grid at the head of my bed. This Orchid ran one of the new mushrooming crop of what would soon be called Off Broadway theaters, and was a didactic political leftist in that and other matters. Well, I guess they all were leftists, Roz and Ruth, too, if somewhat more quietly than Orchid. One night in the early 1950s I was invited to have tea and/or drinks with Roz and Ruth. When I arrived there were a couple of other guests already there — a large, formidable, argumentative woman thumping a huge heavy wooden staff into the floor to emphasize this point or that point, like Little John knocking Robin Hood into the rushing stream; and, seated nearby on the floor itself, a large, muscular, soft-spoken, red-headed young man sporting a big red beard. Gradually, it began to dawn on me that the formidable woman with the staff was none other than — wham! whack! — Ruth’s colleague, world-famous anthropologist Margaret Mead. But I was interested in the redbearded young man, who was so outraged about the rapidly despoiled and disappearing Greenwich Village — as was I — that he wanted the whole damn area from 14th Street down to below Houston Street declared an untouchable civic landmark. Said his name was Ed Fancher. Said he was a Greenwich Village furniture hauler who had been to college in Alaska and was now taking a course in journalism at the New School. I told him about the wondrous evening I’d had a year earlier, wandering through the Village with a girl named Peggy from bookstore to art store to magazine store to historic restaurant to another historic restaurant to one beautiful block after another, and then taking the same walk a year later and finding it all gone, ripped down, ripped out — gone with the wind of commerce and “progress.” To the red-bearded young man I said something banal, like, “More power to you,” and after a while went upstairs to bed. It would be maybe a whole year still later — when newlyweds Peggy and I had moved to a larger apartment, a skylight studio around the corner on West 11th Street — that I heard from Edwin C. Fancher again. “Remember me?” he said. “We met at Roz and Ruth’s. I’m calling because my friend Dan Wolf and I are going to start a new Greenwich Village weekly newspaper, along with Norman Mailer” — aha, the bait! — “and we thought you might want to come and talk with us… .” I said: Gee, thanks, but what I most need right now is
money; good luck and all that, but no thanks. A week later, as I was staring out the window at the pigeons on the cornices across the street and cursing my existence as a blocked writer, the phone rang again. It was Ed Fancher, inviting me to have lunch with him and this Dan Wolf at the scrungy Chinese restaurant on Eighth Street… .
Summer or winter, flowering or bare, the wisteria tendrils reached out like arms, hands and fingers along the top of that whole wall.
At 62 Perry Street, where I would move back after that interregnum on West 11th, the view faced, as I’ve said, to the south. You looked out over all those backyards through either of the room’s two tall windows, one of which, the one on the right, could never be fully closed, rain or shine or snow or hail or thunderstorm or
dark of night, because of the wisteria tendrils snaking up and through a three-inch gap at the top edge of that window. Summer or winter, flowering or bare, the wisteria tendrils reached out like arms, hands, and fingers along the top of that whole wall. Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. That whole side of the room, the invading wisteria side, was painted baby blue or light sky blue, depending on how you wanted to think about it. The opposite side, the side to your left as you entered the apartment and faced the windows, was entirely heart-stopping, built-in bookshelves, floor to ceiling, top to bottom, with a door in the center that gave access to the compact bathroom and shower. Imagine walking into that apartment for the first time and seeing that entire wall of empty bookshelves, and then, as quickly as time, energy, and money permitted, filling up those gaping shelves with all the millions of hard-cover and soft-cover words and people — Joyce, Proust, Stendhal, Yeats, Henry James, Hemingway, Mark Twain, Mark Harris, John O’Hara, Scott Fitzgerald, Irwin Shaw, Christopher Isherwood, Graham Greene, Edmund Wilson, and the whole regime of Barney Rosset’s Grove Press — that one wished to live and die by. And girls — girls came to that apartment, now and then, bringing new life, like the recurrent wisteria — E.E. Cummings’s ever-recurring spring. One of these rebels with a cause would be the 19-yearold from Long Island whom I married, but there were girls there after and even before the very end of the half-decade’s marriage to slim, daring, irreverent Peggy Muendel. The main such frequent lovemaking visitor, ever revisiting in my head all these decades later through the wisteria tendrils of memory, was for a whole year at the start of The Village Voice a loving, love-hungry editorial assistant who shall here bear the pseudonym Laura Gates Mason Worthy, thus disguised just in case, God be praised, she is today still alive and a happy greatgrandmother somewhere on this earth. Worthy was her salesman husband: Willy Loman turned inside out. In “Earth and High Heaven,” a pretty good postwar novel by Gwethalyn Graham, the Jewish guy says to the gentile girl: “Well, we’ve put our magazine to bed. Now let’s us go to bed.” That’s how it was for the two of us, Laura and myself, for a whole year and more, as The Village Voice was making its way into the world. Once a week, Laura and I and perhaps Ed Fancher or Dan Wolf and one or two others would, without any sleep for 24 hours, drive (Ed or I would drive) to a printer across the state, or out on Long Island, or whoever else would have us. We would spend almost all night there at the printer’s, would close the issue, would drive back to the city and the Village, let our colleagues (if any) out of the car, and then Laura and I would speed back to 62 Perry Street and fall into bed. Only first Laura — a great big healthy Scottish-Irish American blonde beauty — would insist that she and I go out around the corner to Fedora on West Tenth Street to get something to eat. Then back to 62 Perry Street and to bed.
SOUND OFF! Write a letter to the editor email@example.com February 6, 2014
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Continued from p. 8
acknowledged, simply because the development-above-all councilmember whose district this hellish expansion is in had to be pandered to. I have given up on Rosie Mendez, but had hoped for better from Ms. Brewer. Shame on her, on the unlamented, and thankfully gone Christine Quinn and on the rest of the Sleazy Council — whoops — City Council, save for Charles Barron, the only one brave enough to vote his beliefs on N.Y.U. 2031, rather than knuckle under just to perpetuate the corrupt, unethical practice of “go along to get along.” Lisa Ramaci
Free the carriage horses To The Editor: Re “Some horse sense from the L.E.S. on carriage horses” (talking point, by Clayton Patterson, Jan. 16): Horses belong in the natural world
Clayton Patterson evokes, but not schlepping carriages through the lights, traffic, noise, fumes and asphalt of 21st-century Times Square. New York City carriage horses don’t lift us, we debase them. As prey animals, horses are easily spooked in the modern city, causing dangerous accidents. They don’t belong on streets, breathing exhaust and prone to lameness. As herd animals, horses require pasture turnout with other horses. This is denied them. They work long hours in extreme weather. Drivers don’t rotate horses to give weekly pasture time, because it cuts profits. Let’s be clear: There is no unbroken tradition. In 1906, Outing Magazine described horse-drawn cabs as the elite’s quaint ostentation, and criticized the industry, announcing its replacement by the first automotive taxis. Horse-drawn carriages were quickly superseded and gone. The change was also done for equine welfare. But horse-drawn carriages were then brought back mid-20th century as a
Section 8 vouches may be cut if feds don’t give enough funds BY SAM SPOKONY
February 6, 2014
Big Brother is watching To The Editor: Did anyone really believe that Obama was actually going to do something about the N.S.A.’s spying on the American people? And what is a lackey “third party”
going to do with these records anyway? Just as soon as a paid-for judge gives the go-ahead, they are going to turn the records back over to the N.S.A. But the government spying on its people shouldn’t come as a surprise; it dates back at least as far as Richard Nixon tapping the phone of his own brother. And what does the future hold? In the guise or preventing crime and stopping “terrorism,” we will have medium-size drones flying overhead, keeping tabs on the general population, and insect-size drones hovering outside of windows, spying on people at work and at home. Of course, we know every bit of this is unconstitutional; but when anything is said, they will just drag out another paid-for judge to declare it legal. Then we can all sit back and relax, knowing that Big Brother really is watching us. Jerry The Peddler
E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 212-2292790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 515 Canal St., Suite 1C, NY, NY 10013.
PHOTO BY MILO HESS
f the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development does not receive at least $400 million in new funding as a result of the recent federal budget deal, the agency may have to revoke some of its current Section 8 housing vouchers, according to an H.P.D. spokesperson. The spokesperson said on Jan. 22 that, while rescinding vouchers would be a last resort, that baseline level of new funding will be required for H.P.D. to maintain the current status quo for its Section 8 program, which has already been significantly scaled back due to budget cuts. H.P.D’s Section 8 program provides vital housing subsidies to around 30,000 low-income residents in New York City, including nearly 1,200 who live in the East Village or Lower East Side. If vouchers are rescinded this year, some of those people — who, on average, make around $15,000 per year — will probably lose their homes. The deal recently approved by the U.S. Congress has made $17.4 billion in new funding available for the renewal of Section 8 vouchers nationwide. The decision of how to distribute that money to local
agencies will be made by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has until midMarch to announce its allocations. After taking a $35 million budget cut due the federal sequester, H.P.D. scaled down Section 8 last July by forcing voucher holders either to pay a greater share of their rent or move to smaller apartment. Although the move was — and continues to be — criticized by housing advocates and elected officials because it places a heavy burden on many struggling families, it kept the agency from having to rescind any vouchers. Basically, $35 million equals roughly 2,900 Section 8 vouchers — nearly 10 percent of its citywide total, according to H.P.D. If the agency had never scaled down the program last year, it would likely have had to rescind that many vouchers. And since H.P.D. did alter the program by forcing some people to pay more, it never had to take that step — that “last resort” — which probably would have caused even greater anger among housing advocates. But H.P.D. may not be able to hold on any longer if it doesn’t receive the additional $400 million for this year, in which case cutting down the number of voucher holders could be the only option.
moneymaking tourist trap. London, Paris, Toronto, Beijing and Las Vegas all ban horse-drawn carriages as cruel. It’s time New York City joined them: New Yorkers agree, by 80 percent. Operators can battery-motorize their horseless carriages, profitably and crueltyfree, as is done elsewhere. Homes and sanctuaries await these liberated beasts of burden. Rescued carriage horses change from worn, depressed nags to the glorious creatures of Clayton’s, and our, dreams. Free the horses, free our spirits. For nature-deprived New Yorkers, create city-subsidized buses that make nature runs to natural beauty beyond the city limits. Own the dream of horses, manes, tails streaming, running free in pastures — not bent down to harness on 42nd St.
At the annual Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown on Sunday, signs of love were in the air.
Politicians call for N.Y.U. to come back to table BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
aying they want to “extend an olive branch” and finally “end this war” with N.Y.U., the plaintiffs in a historic community lawsuit against the university’s superblocks megadevelopment plan gathered at a victory press conference last Thursday. The setting was the E. 11th St. headquarters of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which was one of the plaintiffs in the suit. Joining them in a unified front were a phalanx of local politicians — including Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who was a party to the suit — and actor and Village resident John Leguizamo. Also, during his own press conference the same day, Mayor de Blasio, when asked about the N.Y.U. ruling, said he wants to work closely with the community moving forward to reach a resolution. Specifically, de Blasio was asked if the whole N.Y.U. plan should be “reset” now and the cityʼs review of it start all over again. De Blasio responded that he felt the university’s earlier version of the plan was “too expansive,” and that as the then public advocate, he called for it to be scaled back, which is what happened. He said all lawsuits have larger ramifications for the city, and so he is withholding legal judgment until he hears more from his Law Department on this decision. But the mayor expressed support for the community. “I think a lot of the community concerns were valid, and we’re going to work with the community going forward,” he said. Jim Walden, who along with his partner Randy Mastro from Gibson Dunn, argued the winning case in court, was the emcee of the press conference at G.V.S.H.P. He called it “one of the most worthy land-use cases in quite a long time.” Dozens of community groups and residents joined the suit, along with members of a new ad hoc group, N.Y.U. Faculty Against the Sexton Plan. Many N.Y.U. faculty and their families reside on the superblocks. Not wanting to live in a 20-year construction zone, much less have four new buildings squeezed into the currently tranquil blocks, the faculty members were a driving force behind the lawsuit. On Jan. 7, State Supreme Court Justice Donna Mills ruled that three of four openspace strips along the two superblocks’ eastern and western edges, although currently under Department of Transportation jurisdiction, are de facto parks and thus cannot be used — such as for construction staging areas — for New York University’s ambitious 2031 expansion plan for the blocks. Mills ruled that the state Legislature would have to first “alienate” these strips — removing them as public parkland — before N.Y.U. could drive construction vehicles over them or otherwise negatively impact them. In bypassing this require-
ment, she said, the city had violated the “common law public trust doctrine” that safeguards public parkland. “Justice Donna Mills has spoken,” Walden declared. “There are three parks in the superblocks. It must remain open and accessible to the community. Period.” However, Mills ruled that one openspace strip, in front of Coles Gym on Mercer St. — which contains the Mercer-Houston Dog Run — is not parkland, mainly because it lacks official Parks Department signage and because N.Y.U. has maintained the dog run (though not other parts of the strip, which it has failed to keep up). Walden called on N.Y.U. now to come to the table, negotiate and bury the hatchet — because the plaintiffs aren’t done yet. “Absent a settlement of this litigation, we will continue to fight in the courts,” he warned. In other words, they will dispute parts of the decision they aren’t satisfied with, he assured. N.Y.U., however, says that Mills’s decision doesn’t stop them from starting on the Zipper Building, a 1-million-square-foot project that would replace Coles and sit on part of the open-space strip where the dog run is now. Walden and Mastro see it differently, and say the entire plan — which calls for a total of nearly 2 million square feet of space — must now go back to square one and go through city ULURP (uniform land use review procedure) all over again. “This is a plan that is, from our perspective, legally dead,” Walden stated firmly. Celine Mizrahi, district director for Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, read a state-
Actor John Leguizamo, center, urged N.Y.U. to end the “ice age” and thaw relations with the community by rethinking its N.Y.U. 2031 expansion plan. Corey Johnson, left, called N.Y.U.’s process “completely disrespectful” of the community. Attorney Jim Walden, right, declared N.Y.U.’s whole plan “legally dead.”
Mills ruled in favor of protecting open space. Preserving open space has always been a priority of mine.” “Let’s be clear,” said state Senator Daniel Squadron, “the decision confirms that the process failed to include half of the open parkland available to the community. Now we need a reassessment of the plan that accounts for all the open space.” Now a state senator, Brad Hoylman was chairperson of Community Board 2 when the board voted an “absolute No” against the entire N.Y.U. plan. “All of us in this community were up against some very powerful forces,” he noted. “Public land is sacrosanct — we need to preserve it. “N.Y.U. is in crisis — there’s no question about it,” Hoylman declared. “As they say, ‘A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.’ Meet us at the table,” Hoylman urged the university. “Help us protect what is important about Greenwich Village — our historic buildings, our playgrounds and our open space. Placing the victory in the context of Village activist lore, he added, “And somewhere, Jane Jacobs is looking down at us now and smiling.” Corey Johnson succeeded former Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who did her best to push through the N.Y.U. plan in the City Council in July 2012. The Bloomberg administration was a strong supporter of the university’s superblocks scheme. Last Thursday, Johnson gave one of the most impassioned speeches against the development scheme.
‘Somewhere, Jane Jacobs is looking down at us now and smiling.’ Brad Hoylman
ment on his behalf. “I stand with the community and ask that, in light of this decision, N.Y.U. reconsider the whole plan,” Nadler said. Glick added that, from the very start, N.Y.U. had said every aspect of the plan was crucial, that all the plan’s parts were “interlocking elements.” Referring to the open-space strips, Glick said, “These key elements have been removed from the plan. It seems only logical that N.Y.U. should go back to square one.” New Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said, “I am pleased that Judge
“We’ve seen too much over the past 12 years of needless overdevelopment,” he said. On the other hand, community consultation has been lacking. Referring to Mills’s decision, Johnson said, “I’m not an attorney, but I believe this does call into question the whole project. There was a final environmental impact statement — a key part of it was struck down [by Mills’s ruling]. …” Johnson praised the community’s activism in fighting the unwanted development project, and drew a comparison to another fierce struggle going on statewide to protect clean drinking water. “The only reason hydrofracking has not happened in New York State is because of activism,” he said. “I stand with community activism.” David Gruber, the current C.B. 2 chairperson, headed the task force on N.Y.U. that put together the board’s extensive resolution recommending denial of the required zoning changes for the project. “We worked really hard on this for years,” Gruber said. “We held some 25 public meetings — thousands of people showed up. N.Y.U. was completely tone deaf to us, they didn’t listen. One of the legs that support this table is off — N.Y.U. needs to sit down and re-engage with us.” Adding some Hollywood pizzazz to the press conference, actor Leguizamo said, “I’m here as a community member. All I want to say is, we want to work with N.Y.U. as a community — but, please, go back to the drawing board.” Andrew Berman, G.V.S.H.P. executive director, said, “We have no objection to N.Y.U. growing, but how does it impact the Village?” N.Y.U. LAWSUIT, continued on p. 23
February 6, 2014
In a final, tortured drama, Oscar-winner Hoffman HOFFMAN, continued from p. 1
I don’t know if I’ll be alive tomorrow I don’t know if I’m alive today... Suddenly, I hear the clocks ticking, yeah, ticking in my head and I know it’s going to be the end… Addiction don’t see if you got a lot of money… and f--- TMZ!
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
“He was an inspiration to me,” said Arrowe. “I’m from New York. He was just like a real New Yorker. He didn’t care about the glamour.” He said he was upset at the media’s coverage of Hoffman — particularly TMZ for showing photos of him passed out on an airplane. He also objected to those who say that the actor, since he was rich, could and should have easily overcome his habit by just getting the best help available. Speaking of media, as he talked, an entire crew of “Entertainment Tonight” was camped out on the sidewalk across from the building. Every few minutes someone else came by to take photos of the memorial. Christine Davis, from the Bronx, left a bouquet. “I’m a distant relative of Robert Falls, who directed him in ‘Long Day’s Journey,’ ” she said. “I just was shocked by the news.” Indeed, in a story that has shocked the entire world, the Academy Award-winning actor was found dead in his Bethune St. apartment Sunday morning, the victim of an apparent heroin overdose. The Police Department issued a statement, saying that at around 11:36 a.m., police responded to a 911 call for “an aided
Another photo of Philip Seymour Hoffman left at a memorial to him outside 35 Bethune St.
male” inside 35 Bethune St., the Pickwick House. “Upon arrival, officers located a 46-yearold male, unconscious and unresponsive, lying on the bathroom floor,” police said.
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Police outside 35 Bethune St. on Sunday after actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his apartment late that morning. Due to the large quantity of drugs found inside his place, police treated it as a crime scene.
February 6, 2014
“E.M.S. also responded and pronounced the male DOA at the scene. An investigation is ongoing by the N.Y.P.D. The Medical Examiner’s Office will determine the cause of death.” Police identified the deceased as Hoffman. Media reports stated that the famed actor was found in his underwear, lying on his right side, with a needle still stuck in his left arm and two small glassine bags of heroin nearby. Several other empty heroin bags were reportedly also found in a trash bin in the apartment. By Tuesday, though, it was reported that police had found as many as 70 small bags of dope, packaged for individual sale, in the apartment. Forty-nine bags were sealed, and 23 had been used. They were marked with dark lettering saying “Ace of Spades” or with a red ace of hearts stamp, street names for the drug. The bags reportedly sell for as little as $6 on the street. The actor’s Bethune St. apartment was said to have been set up “like a shooting gallery.” Also said to have been found were two charred spoons — apparently used to cook the heroin before shooting it — 20 used hypodermic needles in a cup and a small amount of cocaine. In addition, the New York Post on Tuesday further reported that police found in Hoffman’s unit an assortment of prescription pills, including Clonidine hydrochloride (a blood pressure medication), Buprenorphine (an addiction-treatment
drug), Vyvanse (a drug for treating attention-deficit disorder), Hydroxyzine (an anti-anxiety drug) and Methocarbamol (a muscle relaxant). Hoffman’s body was removed from the building around 6:40 p.m. Sunday. The M.E. will perform an autopsy and toxicology tests to determine the cause of death. Police checked to see if the heroin was laced with fentanyl, a powerful opiate that is more potentially dangerous than heroin alone, and has been linked to 22 fatal OD’s in Pennsylvania last month. But on Wednesday, it was reported initial tests found none of the additive. On Sunday, Hoffman had failed to arrive at 9 a.m. to pick up his three children — Cooper, 10, Tallulah, 7, and Willa, 5 — on Jane St., where they lived with his longtime partner, Mimi O’Donnell, a costume designer. O’Donnell called Isabella Wing-Davey, Hoffman’s personal assistant, who went with screenwriter David Katz and found Hoffman’s lifeless body. Police said he had been dead for some hours. In his early 20s Hoffman had struggled with drugs and alcohol, and recently had relapsed. In 2006, he described his battle with substance abuse on “60 Minutes.” TMZ reported that he had fallen off the wagon last year and had started taking prescription pills and was slipping into HOFFMAN, continued on p.13
succumbs to addiction, dies of apparent heroin OD HOFFMAN, continued from p. 12
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
snorting heroin. He revealed he had done a 10-day rehab stint. Police are investigating where Hoffman got his drugs. On Wednesday, it was reported that just after 8 p.m. on Sunday, Hoffman, “with two drug couriers” standing next to him,” had withdrawn $1,200 from the A.T.M. at the D’Agostino supermarket down the block from his place, and then handed the men $1,000 for heroin and coke. A witness and bank records were cited. Earlier that evening he reportedly had a cheeseburger and no alcohol at Automatic Slim’s with two people in what appeared to be a business dinner. The Post reported that on Jan. 24 he had attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at the Perry Street Workshop, where he had been going to A.A. for more than 20 years. The Post said that between Thursday and Sunday he had had stopped in at several other local eateries and bars, including Pizzetteria Brunetti, La Bonbonniere, Highlands pub, Chocolate Bar and The Standard Hotel. Hoffman — who had been a West Village resident for years — moved into the Bethune St. apartment about three or four months ago, while O’Donnell and his three kids continued to live on Jane St. O’Donnell reportedly had kicked him out after he started using again. Itʼs said that a few months ago he was spotted openly buying smack at a known drug den on Mott St. Hoffman grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and went on to study acting at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He won the Oscar for best actor for “Capote” in 2005. Like a chameleon, he artfully immersed himself in a dizzying array of character types. Among some of the many other films in which he starred were “The Master,” “Moneyball,” “Doubt,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “Mission: Impossible III,” “The Big Lebowski” and “Boogie Nights.” There was a huge amount of media gathered Sunday afternoon outside Hoffman’s building on Bethune St., between Greenwich and Washington Sts., where his fourth-floor apartment rented for close to $10,000 a month. John Anderson, 43, a newspaper editor from Rochester, happened to be in town to watch the Super Bowl with his brother Michael, who used to live nearby and would have drinks with Hoffman at the White Horse Tavern. “They had a little kinship,” he said. “It’s a small world.” In fact, their mother taught a teenaged Hoffman acting at Rochester Area Performing Arts, or RAPA. “She thought he was just a very talented actor,” Anderson recalled, “not necessarily that he would win an Oscar, but that he
A watercolor by local artist Kaz Morimoto that he left at Hoffman’s memorial on Wednesday.
was going places.” He said Hoffman grew up in one of the nicer Rochester suburbs, and attended Fairport High School. He added that the actor, in his Oscar acceptance speech, gave a shout-out to his hometown. “Rochester is in mourning right now,” he said. Anderson and his brother had met at the Corner Bistro on Sunday, and when he heard the news of Hoffman, he used his press pass to get past the police line on Bethune St., and filmed some video of the scene that he planned to upload for his newspaper chain. Hoffman’s isn’t the only recent Downtown drug-related death of a famous Hol-
lywood star to make headlines. In January 2008, Australian actor Heath Ledger accidentally OD’d on prescription drugs in his Soho apartment. On Tuesday afternoon, Nick, the super at 35 Bethune St., was chip-chip-chipping away at the ice on the sidewalk around the entrance with a long pole with a flat metal tip. He’s worked there 17 years. The building is mostly condo, some rentals, he said. Hoffman’s apartment was a two-bedroom. No, Nick said, no one called him when they found the body. Asked what Hoffman had been like during his brief stay there, he said, “He was normal — normal guy.” Gina Shamus, a senior artist from the
Westbeth Artists Residence just across Washington St., was taking photos of the memorial. She noted that in the 1970s she did arts and crafts with recovering addicts to help them rehab. “They thought they had the answer back then,” she reflected. “At that time, methadone was coming in...but methadone wasn’t that different.” She actually had not seen Hoffman’s movies, but that didn’t keep her from feeling the same thing that so many others have. “I just felt so sad,” she said. “I didn’t even know him at all — but it just seemed like he had so much to give.” February 6, 2014
Pete Seeger, folk singer, activist icon, dies at 94 OBITUARY BY ALBERT AMATEAU
February 6, 2014
PHOTO BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL
ete Seeger, a pioneer in the revival of American folk music whose performances and recordings were integral to his lifelong dedication to the civil rights, peace and environmental movements, died Monday. His death at the age of 94 at New York Presbyterian Hospital was confirmed to The New York Times by one of his grandsons, Kitama Cahill Jackson. His wife of 70 years, Toshi Ohta Seeger, who organized many of Pete’s concerts, died in July at the age of 91 at the Seegers’ home in Beacon, N.Y. Pete Seeger’s seven-decades-long career included singing for migrant workers in California with Woody Guthrie in 1940; reaching the top of the charts as one of the Weavers singing “Goodnight Irene” in 1950; a conviction (later overturned) in 1961, after several blacklist years, of contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about his previous Communist Party membership; many antiwar concerts, and singing with Bruce Springsteen at President Obama’s inauguration in 2009. While celebrated for his commitment to social change (“We Shall Overcome,” which he co-wrote, became an anthem of the struggle against racial segregation), Pete Seeger will also be linked forever with the restoration of the Hudson River. In 1966 he and his wife organized the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, to build a replica of the sloops that carried freight along the river in the 19th century, in order to promote Seeger’s campaign to clean up the badly polluted river. The 106-foot-long sloop, built in Maine, was launched in 1969 and a couple of years later was plying the Hudson. Public awareness of the pollution led to General Electric’s commitment in 2009 to cleaning up the toxic PCBs the company had been dumping for years near Schenectady. Pamela Wolff, a member of the Chelsea Waterside Park Association, which charters the Clearwater for an annual sail on the Hudson, recalled that Seeger would often visit the sloop in Manhattan in the early 1990s. Wolff, who volunteers as a Clearwater crew member for a week each year, also recalled a ferry trip about 10 years ago to Sandy Hook, N.J., the site one year of the annual Great Hudson River Revival concert, which Seeger and his wife organized. “I got on the ferry in Midtown and found Pete and his grandson Tao Rodriguez onboard,” Wolff said. “There were hardly any other passengers and we spent the trip talking. “I knew Pete before. I first met him when I was about 6 years old — he must have been around 20,” Wolff recalled. “My father, who was editor of the Nashville Tennessean, was giving a seminar one summer at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tenn. It
Pete Seeger in fall 1968 performing at a rally for U.S. Senate candidate Paul O’Dwyer at Madison Square Garden.
was a school that trained labor union organizers. There is a photo of me somewhere sitting on Zilphia Horton’s knee and Pete singing in the background.” It was at the Highlander school that “We Shall Overcome” was created, according to The New York Times. Horton, Highlander’s music director, had heard a version of an old gospel song, “I’ll Overcome,” from a striking tobacco worker. Horton taught a version, “We Will Overcome,” to Seeger, who changed it to “We Shall Overcome” and added verses. Seeger taught it to the singers Frank Hamilton and Guy Carawan, who later became Highlander’s music director. Carawan taught the song to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at its founding convention, according to the Times. Pete Seeger’s environmental commitment was recalled this week by Cy Adler, founder of Shorewalkers, a hiking and environmental organization. “Pete was a great shorewalker and a friend,” Adler said in an e-mail. “We started walking, talking and writing to each other in the 1960s. We explored areas of the Hudson together along the shore north of Peekskill and south of Poughkeepsie. Several times we walked legs of the Great Saunter [an annual 26-mile Shorewalkers hike around the perimeter of Manhattan] together. “He liked to take the train down to Spuyten Duyvil and join us at Inwood Hill Park,” Adler said. “Last year we wrote a song together against gun violence. To raise money for the N.Y.C. Friends of Clearwater, Pete
once sang in my apartment at a party of about 50 people — many musicians crowded in to perform. We have a recording of the event. Pete slept on my couch that night. “I never saw him in a suit,” Adler noted. “He told me he had trouble finding an old tuxedo when he was given a national award by President Clinton. Since he did not use a computer, we communicated mostly by phone and the U.S. mail. I have three thick folders of correspondence. Lots of postcards with his clear script and songs. Pete was a good, generous, creative, walking man. We will miss him,” Adler said. Pete Seeger was born May 3, 1919, in Chelsea’s French Hospital, on W. 30th St. between Eighth and Ninth Aves. His father, Charles, was a musicologist and his mother, Constance de Clyver Edson, was a concert violinist. Pete began playing the ukulele while attending Avon Old Farms, a boarding school in Connecticut. By that time, his parents had divorced and Pete’s father and stepmother, the composer Ruth Crawford Seeger, were collecting folk songs with the likes of John and Alan Lomax. Pete first heard the five-string banjo, which later became his instrument of choice along with the 12-string guitar, when his father took him to a North Carolina country dance festival. Pete attended Harvard where he founded a radical newspaper and joined the Young Communist League. But he dropped out after two years, and came to New York. Alan Lomax helped Pete get a job at the Library
of Congress in Washington transcribing folk music at the Archive of American Folk Song. Seeger returned to New York around 1940, then traveled west with Woody Guthrie, performing at union rallies and concerts, hitchhiking and hopping freight trains. He founded the Almanac Singers with Millard Lampell and Lee Hays, along with Guthrie, who joined later. Seeger was drafted into the Army in 1942 and married Toshi Ohta while in basic training in 1943. After the war he founded People’s Songs, which published political songs and organized concerts. Pete also began performing in clubs like the Village Vanguard, and in 1948 toured with the actor and singer Paul Robeson in Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party campaign for president. In 1949, Pete, Toshi, their son, Daniel, and two daughters, Mika and Tinya, moved to their 17-acre plot in Beacon, living in a tent while they built their log-cabin house. Around the same time, Pete, Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman began singing together as the Weavers. The group made hits in 1950-51 with songs like “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” and Guthrie’s “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You” selling about 4 million singles and albums, according to the Times. But around the same time, the anti-Communist publication Red Channels named Seeger as being suspected of Communist Party membership. Investigations by the U.S. Senate and House subcommittees followed. Although the Weavers broke up, Seeger continued to give concerts, tour campuses and record for Folkways, an independent label. In 1959 he was among the founders of the Newport Folk Festival, and in 1961 he was signed to Columbia Records. Nevertheless, he was barred from network television until 1967 when he performed an antiwar song for a recording for the “Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.” The song was dropped before the program was aired, but Seeger returned the following year to perform it for broadcast. Seeger was elected in 1972 to the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In the 1980s and ’90s he toured with Arlo Guthrie, Woody’s son. Pete Seeger won a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1993, and the following year President Bill Clinton awarded him the National Medal of Arts. Seeger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. The previous year he won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album, and in 2011 he won a Grammy in the Children’s Music category. On his 90th birthday in 2009, Seeger, along with Bruce Springsteen, Joan Baez and dozens of other artists, performed at a Madison Square Garden concert to benefit the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. That August, Pete sang at the 50th anniversary of the Newport Folk Festival. In addition to his son, two daughters and his grandsons, Tao and Kitama, six other grandchildren, two half-sisters and four great-grandchildren also survive. Mike Seeger, a half-brother who founded the New Lost City Ramblers, died in 2009.
Your Lower East Side Valentine’s Day Guide Rev. Jen, on making this ‘extremely stupid holiday’ fun, fun, fun
PHOTO BY WALTER WLODARCZYK
Do you believe in love? Then use Feb. 14 to celebrate “Cher Day.”
BY REV. JEN MILLER ren-jen.com
lot of people think Valentine’s Day is the worst holiday on earth — but it’s not. The worst holiday is actually Christmas, wherein you are expected to travel miles to see family and spend loads of money buying them presents that they likely do not want — only to realize a week later that it’s a new year and you are still as broken financially, mentally and physically as you were the previous year. At least on Valentine’s Day, you are only expected to see your significant other and do something nice for them (even though you should be doing something nice for them every day, all year long). If you are single, you get to enjoy the extra bonus of
the company of millions of other single people who might want to “de-pants” you simply because it’s Valentine’s Day and they are lonely. Despite this, some readers might still feel despondent. In that case, here are a few suggestions on how to make this extremely stupid holiday suck less!
CELEBRATE “CHER DAY” INSTEAD
A few years ago, I was talking to a friend and said, “I don’t even know who Saint Valentine was or what he did. Why don’t we celebrate someone whose work we are familiar with?” We thought for a moment and I said, “Cher! We should celebrate Cher because we like her movies and music and hers was the only Barbie doll I did not damage as a child because I have always had that much respect for Cher.”
Fake proposals are a great way to delight others, without the collateral damage of becoming trapped in an actual loveless marriage!
So just as Valentine’s Day is a make believe, not nationally recognized holiday, so is Cher Day. To celebrate, one should start their day by listening to Sonny & Cher classics, watching at least one Cher “vehicle” and then dressing up as either Cher or one of her former lovers and hitting the town. A few Valentine’s ago we had a “flash mob” Cher Day party at a pub where we all showed up dressed as Cher, Sonny, Greg Allman, Chaz, etc. and it was quite fun. Better to spend one’s money on wigs and outfits than candy and roses. They last longer.
PRETEND TO PROPOSE TO EACH OTHER IN STUPID PLACES
What’s better than getting married and having to spend your life with someone who you will eventually hate and proba-
bly divorce? Pretending to propose on Valentine’s Day at the least romantic places possible! Most local check cashing places could use some livening up, as could the laundromat, McDonald’s and the local bodega. This Valentine’s Day, acquire a few cocktails and a fake ring — then make others happy by performing “proposals” around town. Even more fun: Dramatically reject your suitor’s proposal.
GET YOUR LOVE A TATTOO
Courtney Fathom Sell, my boyfriend of several years (I can’t remember how many since we first met, played scratch-off, spent our earnings at Lucky Jack’s on beer and decided to start a motion picture studio), is fond REV JEN, continued on p.16
February 6, 2014
Tips for a Tantric, tattoo-filled February 14
PHOTOS BY WALTER WLODARCZYK
Love fades, but a tattoo of your girlfriend’s dog is forever.
REV JEN, continued from p. 15
of getting silly tattoos. This is cool by me, as long as he never gets my name tattooed on his body — because the last thing I want to see is a man walking around NYC with “Rev.” crossed out on his arm. That said, getting your lover a tattoo is quite romantic in that anytime they look at it, even after they’ve broken your heart and left you for someone much hotter and younger than you, they will immediately think of you. When it comes to getting tattoos, one rule applies (other than the aforementioned “no names” rule.) Think of something you love and get that inked on your skin, be it pizza, ice cream, a
butterfly or some nekkid lady. Courtney wisely chose an image of a sketch he did of my Chihuahua, Rev. Jen Junior, because even if someday he hates me, he will always love Jen Junior. Luckily my extremely lovely Art Star friend, Jasmin Cruz, just opened a tattoo shop in Williamsburg called Lions of Brooklyn (164 Havemeyer St.). Getting a tat from Jasmin is sort of like therapy. Her voice is so calming and her eyes are so pretty that you actually want her to poke your with needles repeatedly until you have an indelible image on your person. In fact, when we went back to take pictures of the place, I asked Jasmin to give me a tiny “Art Star” tattoo on my neck. Because my mane of hair conceals it, only you readers are aware of this tidbit.
At Lions of Brooklyn, Rev. Jen sticks her neck out, in the name of art — as Jasmin’s pretty voice and calming eyes make the pain downright bearable.
EAT A BURRITO
If you are lovelorn, food helps. Even if you’re not, food helps. A couple doors away from Jasmin’s tattoo parlor, stands the greatest burrito joint I have ever eaten at whilst on this planet. Note: I hate eggs and always have, but Stan’s Cafecito (at 172 Havemeyer) changed all that with his five-dollar breakfast burrito. It contains eggs and other magical things and I would eat it every day if possible. Stan, the man, was there — and he point-
ed Courtney and I to the most remarkable shelf of hot sauces I have ever witnessed. Some people say oysters are an aphrodisiac. But I prefer El Yucateco Green Habanero Sauce (just brush your teeth after eating should you plan on “visiting” your partner’s nether regions). Note: When we went back to have dinner and take pictures at Stan’s, we found out they had closed at five, so check the hours before attending. REV JEN, continued on p.17
ESTABLISHED SINCE 1880
Famous Dylan Thomas Watering Hole
White horse Tavern
567 Hudson St. NYC * 212-989-3956
February 6, 2014
Breakin’ their hearts on Valentine’s Day
Rev. Jen’s mane conceals a moniker only our readers are aware of.
Of shopping, spaghetti and Cher: V-Day musts
three-packs of porn and more! There have been unsubstantiated rumors of “Buddy Booths” in the back — but I am, journalistically, not brave enough to go further.
BUY A COPY OF “THE PORN SHOPPING COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO GO CONCLUDING THOUGHTS Sometimes, like Jack Bauer, you only If these handy suggestions don’t perk up TANTRIC SEX” AND STUDY got an hour and Tantric Sex is simply IT LIKE YOU ARE PREPARING not an option. That’s when porn comes your holiday, you could always choose to celebrate Halloween instead. Or, you could FOR THE BAR EXAM in handy. My favorite porn dispensary is While I wrote about Tantric Sex extensively in my book, “Live Nude Elf,” I will be brief: There is nothing better than getting in yab yum, soul-gazing and making like Shiva and Shakti. People think because it’s mostly hippies and Sting who espouse the virtues of Tantra, it’s gonna be cheesy, but trust me: Tantric Sex gives you the freedom to behave as
Blue Door Video (87 First Ave.). The best thing about the 60/40 rule is that Blue Door now sells 60 percent obscure non-adult videos like “Mr. T’s Be Somebody or Be Somebody’s Fool” alongside two-dollar Kung Fu films. However, at Blue Door you can also find blowup dolls, sleazy outfits, vibrators,
do many clichéd other things like take a bath together, massage each other, acquire a Whitman’s Sampler and take a bite out of every one of them until you find one that doesn’t disgust you, get blindingly drunk alone while wondering where it all went wrong as you cry and shiver next to the space heater or, better yet, move Valentine’s Day to summer when romance is more feasible.
Theater for the New City • 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net
Wednesday - Sunday, Feb 15 - Mar 9 Wed-Sat at 8pm, Sun at 3pm All Seats $20/Studt’s & Sr’s $15
TNC’s Programs are funded in part by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts
INDI VIDU AL & PART NER LESS ONS
, TEENS & ADULTS
THIRD STREET MUSIC SCHOOL SETTLEMENT TELEPHONE
235 EAST 11 TH STREET • NEW YORK, NY 10003 212-777-3240 • FACSIMILE 212-477-1808 • WWW.THIRDSTREETMUSICSCHOOL.ORG
“BAREFOOT AT THE END OF THE WORLD” Written by MATTHEW AQUILONE Monday, February 10th 7pm Sugg. Donation $5
MU SIC & DAN CE WO RKS HOP S
Thu - Sat at 8pm, Sun at 3pm All Seats $15/Studt’s & Sr’s $10/tdf The World Premiere of a new play Written & Directed by NILO CRUZ
NEW CITY, NEW BLOOD
TNC’s New Play Reading Series
Thursday - Sunday, Feb 6 - Mar 2
Friday - Sunday, February 7 - 9
Friday & Saturday at 8pm, All Seats $10 Family Performances Saturday & Sunday 3pm All Seats $10, Children under 12 $1
Written by DICK BRUKENFELD Directed by MELISSA ATTEBERY
Annual Dance Concert and Pow-wow
THUNDERBIRD AMERICAN INDIAN DANCERS
I’ve often thought it would be romantic to take my boyfriend on a vacay to Italy. Then I realize I make $218 dollars a week, have to pay the rent, Con Ed and my bar tab — so it likely won’t happen. The next best thing: Go to Rosario’s (173 Orchard St., at Stanton) and eat Italian food at this long-standing Lower East Side institution. Often, when I get a slice there, Sal, the celebutante pizza man, will hand it to me and say, “From my heart to your stomach” — making me feel less alone on this planet. If visiting with a partner, why not splurge on one of the $5.50
though you’ve never been hurt, to let your lover inside you heart and soul, and there is nothing more romantic than that.
EAT ITALIAN FOOD
pasta dishes and reenact the romantic scene from “Lady and the Tramp?”
REV JEN, continued from p. 16
COURTESY OF ALPHA
PHOTO BY WALTER WLODARCZYK
Staged love, Disney-style: At Rosario’s, Sal helps Rev. Jen and Courtney reenact an iconic scene from “Lady and the Tramp.”
It’s not just for hippies and Sting: Rev. Jen recommends boning up on this one, “like you are prepping for the Bar Exam.”
February 6, 2014
BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN stephaniebuhmann.com
THE AGE OF SMALL THINGS
Curated by Chuck Webster, this exhibition includes 53 works culled from studios and galleries, as well as private homes near and far. Conceived over the course of several months, the project started with a wish list — after which Webster gathered the works through traditional and unexpected sources (the latter including his dentist). This process of search and discovery mirrors the curator’s delight for things small that can easily be overlooked. Overall, it makes for a playful yet serious installation. Featuring Ellen Altfest, Donald Baechler, Balthus, Brian Belott, Jake Berthot, Katherine Bradford, Brice Brown, Charles Burchfield, Valerio Castello, Vija Celmins, Joseph Cornell, Carroll Dunham, James Franklin, Suzan Frecon, Ted Gahl, Robert Gober, Glenn Goldberg, Philip Guston, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Mary Heilmann, Alfred Jensen, Bill Jensen, Don Joint, John Lees, Brice Marden, Chris Martin, Joan Mitchell, Elie Nadelman, Francis Picabia, Sigmar Polke, Tal R, James Siena, Ross Simonini, Kiki Smith, Myron Stout, Richard Tuttle, Dan Walsh, Chuck Webster, John Wesley, Michael Williams and Terry Winters. Through Feb. 23, at DODGEgallery (15 Rivington St., btw. Chrystie & Bowery Sts.). Hours: Wed.-Sat. 11am-6pm and Sun., 12-6pm. Call 212-228-5122 or visit dodge-gallery.com.
Francis Picabia: “Deux danseuses espagnoles” (1923: watercolor, ink, pencil on paper 8 3/4 x 7 1/4 inches). At DODGEgallery, through Feb. 23. Part of “The Age of Small Things.”
COURTESY OF THE ARTIST, CHEIM & READ AND DODGEgallery (PHOTO BY MARTIN PARSEKIAN)
COURTESY OF THE ARTIST, MICHAEL WERNER & DODGEgallery (PHOTO BY MARTIN PARSEKIAN)
Buhmann on Art
Tal R: “INN (20.08.06)” (Wax crayon and pastel on paper, 11.625 x 8.375 inches). At DODGEgallery, through Feb. 23. Part of “The Age of Small Things.”
ELANA HERZOG: PLUMB PULP
February 6, 2014
COURTESY OF LMAKprojects, NY
COURTESY OF LMAKprojects, NY
For the past ten years, Herzog has stapled found textiles onto walls. Bedspreads and carpets, for example, are mounted by using thousands of metal staples. Parts of the fabric and staples are then removed and sometimes reapplied, leaving a vivid aftermath of shredded material and perforated wall surface in some areas, as well as dense built-up areas elsewhere. Physically, these “sculptural drawings” reflect vigorous acts of penetrating, distressing and ornamenting the skin of the wall. As products of a chain of actions and reactions, they serve as a metaphor for the basic process involved in all human technology. Feb. 15 through March 30, at LMAKprojects (139 Eldridge St., btw. Broome & Delancey Sts.). Hours: Wed.-Sat., 11-6pm, Sun., 12-6pm and by appointment. Call 212-255-9707 or visit lmakprojects.com.
Elana Herzog: Untitled (P81). 2013 (handmade paper, textile; 29 1/4 x 21 3/4 inches, 33 1/4 x 25 3/4 inches framed). From “Plumb Pulp,” on view at LMAKprojects from Feb 15-March 30.
Elana Herzog: Untitled (P83). 2013 (handmade paper, textile; 28 1/4 x 21 inches, 32 1/4 x 25 inches framed). From “Plumb Pulp,” on view at LMAKprojects from Feb 15-March 30.
It’s a love revolution Black Panther Party-based ‘Othello’ has heart, soul and claws THEATER OTHELLO: THE PANTHER Presented by Rebel Theater Company, Be. Do. Fly!, & The Nuyorican Poets Cafe Conceived, Written & Directed by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj PHOTO BY ADAM MACE
Co-Written by Jonas Goslow Based on Shakespeare’s “Othello, the Moor of Venice” Through Feb. 23 Thurs. & Fri. at 7pm Sat. & Sun. at 6pm (except Feb. 23: 2pm) At Nuyorican Poets Cafe 236 East Third Street (btw. Aves. B & C) Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 at the door To order, visit nuyorican.org
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
ressed in the common threads of the cause, fist raised and surrounded by an intense, engaged group of brothers and sisters, you feel like you’re an important part of something bigger than yourself. But beyond the surface of that determined call and response chant (“Power to the people! All the people!”), somebody’s plotting your downfall — and if they get the power, chances are it won’t be used to elevate anyone other than themselves. It’s 1982, and we’re in Oakland, California. After sixteen years of smear campaigns, harassment, infiltration and the jailing of its leadership, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense is on the ropes. Now comes word that the Harlem chapter has been raided, along with talk that the feds are “making mighty preparation to descend on Oakland” for a similar action that will also target the group’s free clinics and breakfast programs for “heavy disruption.” In the midst of crisis, though, there’s opportunity: Honorable Minister Ray has interrupted the group’s political education and synchronized callisthenic session
Come together, right now: A capable, 30+ cast gives “Othello: The Panther” its muscular kick.
to announce that good soldier Othello has been anointed to lead a defense and retaliation movement. Ordered to report to his new safe house at 7am, Othello and his new bride, Desdemona, will have a very short honeymoon. So the two lovebirds (one black, one white) retreat for a few hours alone — she, cooing Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” and he, slow-jamming Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.” But not everybody is singing a happy refrain. Desdemona’s would-be suitor, Rod Amigo, and her mother, Isabelle, are both locked into rage mode — and the leadership shakeup caused by Othello’s ascension puts Iago and Cassio at odds. With the movement forced underground, jealousy, ambition and love are about to do more far more damage than the best efforts of the media, the feds and local law enforcement. That’s the high-stakes plot of “Othello: The Panther” — an ambitious, charismatic and exceedingly well-done adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Othello: The Moor of Venice” that scatters its multicultural cast throughout the theater-in-the-round setting of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Mere feet from rubbing shoulders with them, the air crackles and the floor shakes with the coiled intensity of over two dozen Panthers ready to strike down outside aggressors or, more likely, turn on their own. Seen by this paper for review on the night before its official February 1 premiere, cowriter and director Rajendra Ramoon Ma-
haraj welcomed the audience with a few notes, and one disclaimer. His request to forgive common dress rehearsal gremlins such as blown lines, missed lighting cues and forced stops proved unnecessary. Every element of the production (a lean, muscular, two-plus hours) was ready for prime time — with its cast navigating the dense script (a 60/40 blend of new and old) with confidence, precision and ease (well, they made it look easy). Maharaj was similarly upfront about the production’s desire to shift hearts and minds from viewing the Panthers as violence-prone race baiters (a false image created by the media and government, he asserts). By setting his “Othello” in the movement’s waning days, all the better to emphasize their self-determination, community activism, racial inclusion and gender equality. Truth be told, the Panthers (in any stage of their existence) could do a lot better in that last department. That much is said, and more, in a frank discussion between Desdemona and Iago’s love, Emilia (Kubbi, in a particularly nuanced performance). It’s one of the play’s best scenes, with Emilia lashing out at the “childish jealousies” that are wreaking havoc with group cohesion and domestic tranquility. “Husbands must know,” she warns, that “their wives are human too: they see and smell and have all kinds of tastes for sweet and sour, as husbands have.” To their credit, Maharaj and his collabora-
tors (co-writer Jonas Goslow, and assistant directors/associate producers Adam Mace and Arielle Gannon) don’t let the movement (or mankind in general) off the hook for these, and other, transgressions. Like any group of people who come together for a single purpose (whether it’s the office Secret Santa pool or a political party), interpersonal conflict is always in a land grab with the big picture goals. As for sussing out the true nature of the movement, there’s more than one play to be written about the Panther Party’s writings, teachings and deeds. But this production, obligated as it is to follow the narrative of “Othello,” does very well by spending the lion’s share of its time exploring “the contemporary role that race plays in politics” and examining “conflicts in groups that advocate for progressive social change.” It’s a trip work taking, as much for the performances as for the political enlightenment. Initially written (and beautifully played) as a blissed-out hippie chick whose love revolution platitudes seem as empty as they are naive, Kaitlyn Schirard’s Desdemona quickly settles into her role as the production’s closest thing to a pure soul in possession of a solid moral core. That said, the writers (of the new stuff and the original) aren’t above taking a page from scheming Iago’s playbook, by planting seeds of doubt that grow into nagging suspicions. Doth the lady protest too much, when her forceful advocacy on behalf of Cassio is pegged for romantic interest? Hey, if she’ll lie about that, maybe she isn’t even pregnant. And what about the erudite, physically imposing, increasingly brooding Othello? He connects the dots of history, politics, race and class with surgical precision — yet remains blind to the fact that Iago (Jonas Earl Goslow, calculating and brilliant throughout) is feeding him cues that paint his closest allies as sinister traitors. Are we actually supposed to be rooting for this guy? For all but a few of his fellow Panthers, it’s an easy choice to follow the leader — thanks largely to the outward confidence that Kena Anae brings to his deeply conflicted Othello. When he implores his followers to remember him as “one that loved, not wisely, but too much,” we feel it. So who’s the real villain? It’s difficult to tell — a phrase that would make a fitting epitaph for the multitude of gravestones somebody’s going to have to pay for by the end of the play. This being a Shakespearian tragedy, it’s no spoiler to note that most of the main characters, whether drawn as black, white or gray, end up meeting the business end of a dagger. Only falsely accused Cassio (Nathanial Ryan, poignant in wounded mode and even better once redeemed) lives to see another day — and instructs his Panthers to be brave, seize upon the triumphs of past deeds, and know that all who define themselves through love and sacrifice are true revolutionaries.
February 6, 2014
Dogs keep getting jolted by sidewalk stray voltage VOLTAGE, continued from p. 1
rescue dog yelped, jumped and then fell down. “She’s only about 48 pounds — she really felt it,” said Serrano, who realized the culprit was stray voltage. Georgie-Girl was able to get up, but she was limping, and had to be carried home. “I was scared, very scared, it really freaked me out,” Serrano said. “I didn’t feel anything, but I was wearing rubber boots.” After calling 311, she returned to the site to show a Con Ed employee where Georgie-Girl was shocked. The worker measured 29 stray volts on the spot — which was more than enough for a dog to feel — and 10 stray volts on the other side of the street. According to Serrano, Con Ed informed her the construction group did not ground the lights to the scaffolding. The problem was not immediately fixed since the work site was empty. Instead, the area was cordoned off with tape. However, no warning signage about the voltage was posted. Around the corner from the site, Jodie Lane was killed by stray voltage while walking her dogs on E. Ninth St. near Second Ave. on Jan. 16, 2004. Her dogs had been shocked when they walked on an electrified junction box on the street. Lane wound up getting shocked as well, then fell down in the slush-covered street and was electrocuted. “When I called Con Ed, I told them someone had died two blocks near there, and this was unacceptable,” Serrano said. The second reported dog to experience a shock on the concrete Sunday was Mitchell, a black Labrador Plott Hound, 13 months old, who belongs to Amy Miketic and her husband Jim, East Village residents. “Mitchell was basically bucking like a horse and violently crying,” Miketic said. “My husband panicked, grabbed a 100-pound dog and lifted him 4 feet away. If my husband wasn’t there, I wouldn’t have been able to control my own dog.” The couple thought Mitchell was reacting to salt in his paws. They suggested to Khalid Haaziq, a neighbor, to avoid walking Sadie, his 9-year-old Rottweiler, by the site. Haaziq and the 90-pound Sadie stuck to the front of the building — however, that was not safe enough. “My dog screamed and jumped 3 feet in the air like a rabbit,” he said. “I could feel a little tingle myself — I had on some real thin tennis shoes — so I knew she had been electrocuted.” Haaziq used to work for the transit system in Washington, D.C., and was shocked by the third rail, which caused him to retire prematurely. “That’s how I knew what was going on — I had that feeling from before,” he said. Sadie needed five minutes to recover, and was on tiptoes for the rest of the walk. Haaziq also called 311, and waited a half hour at the site warning people of the danger nearby. All of the dogs were unhurt from the incidents. Their owners plan to avoid the block for now, and are wary and skeptical that the damaged line was properly corrected. Sidney Alvarez, a Con Ed spokesperson, stated that the amount of stray voltage at the site was 27 volts. He explained that the current, or amp, defines these types of situations. “You touch the electric socket in your house, it would be 120 volts,” Alvarez said. “Depending on where the dog, animal or person steps, it can be a very low range or a high number, with tons of variables, such as conduit factors of water or steel, and how much of a current or volt a person can withstand.” Alvarez also noted that salt and snow can get into the system, or cables can suffer wear and tear from street traf-
February 6, 2014
Georgie-Girl, here exercising safely in Tompkins Square Park, was shocked outside the construction site.
Mitchell was zapped, too.
Sadie was also victimized by the stray voltage.
fic, causing problems. According to Alvarez, the cable at the site was repaired, and the stray voltage was eliminated. “It’s an extremely serious matter,” he said. “We actually
ask the public for assistance — if you notice something, say something. Tell us so we can get a crew out there immediately.” Stray voltage is not new in the neighborhood. During December, several dogs sustained shocks on E. Seventh St. near Avenue C. Community Board 3 is scheduled to address this issue at its Transportation Public Safety Subcommittee meeting on March 11. Along with concerned dog owners, a Con Ed representative will be there to discuss signage and protocol. Early Wednesday morning, Mitchell and another dog were shocked on the sidewalk in front of Japadog, a hot dog restaurant on St. Mark’s Place near Second Ave. According to his owner, Mitchell, along with another dog, yelped and jumped right before reaching some scaffolding. Both dogs are fine. Meanwhile, Garrett Rosso, an East Village dog activist, is working with C.B. 3 to urge Con Ed to change the utility’s protocol when stray voltage is detected. Specifically, where areas are electrified, Rosso wants Con Ed to incorporate signage in the future, to clearly notify pedestrians of the danger and warn them to avoid it. Rosso has been involved in raising dog owners’ awareness about stray voltage ever since Jodie Lane’s tragic death. According to Rosso, the owner and training director of Village Dogworks Obedience & Behavioral Training in the East Village, many dog owners in the city inform him every winter of stray voltage shocks that they or their dogs have experienced. “It’s important that Con Ed understands the unique danger stray sidewalk voltage poses to dog owners,” Rosso said. “Normal pedestrians are insulated from sidewalk shocks by their shoes. However, a dog owner will stop the second their dog yelps in pain, and will then bend over to inspect their dog’s paw, placing their bare hand on the ground, where they may possibly receive a life-threatening shock.” Rosso is also on the board of the New York Council of Dog Owners Groups (NYCdog), which promotes dogs’ use of city parks. Currently, when an area is suspected of having stray voltage, Con Ed uses tape or cones to section it off, but no warning signs. “It’s also important for dog owners to know that if they think their dog received a shock to immediately turn 180 degrees around and walk away from the area,” Rosso stressed. He suggested that the voltage could increase if the dog and owner continue to walk forward in the same direction, and that the dog probably first reacts where the current is at its weakest. If the dog collapses from a shock, Rosso recommends using a leash or an insulated object to move the dog. “You are not going to be able to offer assistance to your dog if your hand touches the ground, and you receive a shock, as well,” he added. Susan Stetzer, C.B. 3 district manager, spoke with a Con Ed representative Tuesday to help facilitate action on signage, and to secure the March 11 meeting with the community board. Con Ed anticipates new signage and rules being in place prior to the meeting. Until then, Stetzer has urged community members to be proactive. “Signs aren’t ready. We need to take matters into our own hands,” she said. “If someone is aware of a shock, they have to call 911 immediately. I’ve taken it upon myself to tell people we need to put up signs that say, ‘Possible electrical hazard,’ to make sure people are alerted. “Snow and salt will continue, and we can’t blame Con Ed that it’s going to keep continuing,” she added. “It’s how it’s dealt with that can be managed.”
Actors, artists, activists, all in the mix on L.E.S.
PHOTOS BY CLAYTON PATTERSON
Tom Corn, artist and musician, left, and Grady Alexis, an artist from Haiti, hanging out at Bullet Space squat on E. Third St. in the early 1990s. The two collaborated on many art shows. Alexis was killed in 1991 when he got into an altercation with an off-duty police officer who was driving a Jeep and nearly sideswiped him and some friends as they were walking down Eighth St. Someone in Alexis’s group shouted out in protest. The officer, who was a boxer, and his pal in a second car hopped out and threw punches. Alexis was left dead on the ground. The two assailants got off on very light charges, sparking outrage and protests.
From left, Jose Rivera, Kathryn Freed and Felix Baez in 1992 at a community party at the garden at Clinton and Stanton Sts. The late Rivera, “The Mayor of Clinton St.,” was a school safety guard at P.S. 20 on Essex St., as well as the head of the Poor People’s Party and the garden. Freed, who today is a judge, was a city councilmember back then. “She was one politician you would see on the street and at different community events,” the photographer recalled. “She was a real community representative. From my perspective, she always did the right thing.” Baez was also into local politics and a cohort of Rivera.
Alice stood outside 9 Bleecker St., a.k.a. No. 9, Yippie Headquarters, a week and a half ago. She lived in the place for a long time, even as the court case on the Yippies’ hold on the building has been winding down. She did a lot of the design and layout for Overthrow, the Yippie magazine published out of No. 9. Corcoran realty is now seeking to rent out the building to new tenants. As for Alice, she said she’s “going down South.” Where Yippie leader Dana Beal will live once he is paroled from jail in the Midwest, where he’s been serving time for pot trafficking, is unknown. Alice is reportedly currently clearing out the place, while Beal’s stuff has been put in storage.
Mark Boone used to do a lot of underground performances on the Lower East Side with Steve Buscemi. Both went on to Hollywood, where Boone got into TV and film. Today, Boone plays biker/club treasurer Bobby Munson on the series “Sons of Anarchy.” Here he is in 1992 doing a two-person act with Buscemi at La Mama. February 6, 2014
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N.Y.U. ‘confident’ judge’s ruling will be overturned N.Y.U. LAWSUIT, continued from p. 11
SOUND OFF! Write a letter to the editor firstname.lastname@example.org EastVillagerNews.com
PHOTO BY BOB KRASNER
In short, the university should look to other neighborhoods and boroughs outside the Village to site its expansion projects, he stressed. “Justice Mills’s ruling is a wonderful opportunity for a do-over,” Berman said, “and to do it right — to really listen to the community. We invite N.Y.U. to work with us to move forward together.” Attorney Walden next introduced N.Y.U. media studies professor Mark Crispin Miller, praising him as “the soul of the plaintiffs group.” Miller noted that there were five faculty votes of no confidence against university President John Sexton over the development plan. “It is quite clear that it is not an academic plan, but a real estate deal,” Miller said of N.Y.U. 2031. “N.Y.U. now has an opportunity to mend fences, not only with the community, but with its own professorship.” During the Q&A, The Villager asked Walden about the position of City Councilmember Margaret Chin, whose statements on Mills’s ruling — while praising certain aspects of it — clearly seem to indicate she still supports the full N.Y.U. plan. Is Chin’s position — even though the superblocks are in her district — basically moot at this point in the face of such overwhelming political support for Mills’s decision, as witnessed by the many elected officials at the press conference? “The olive branch we extend also extends to Chin,” he said. “She was on the wrong side of this issue from the beginning. She has not taken a clear position now. We invite her into the tent. We invited her here today,” he noted. “She didn’t come.” Berman later told The Villager that Councilmember Rosie Mendez was also invited to the press conference. Mendez did not attend or send a representative. Asked by The Villager about the status of the Zipper Building now, as far as he’s concerned, Walden responded, “To be clear, in our view, the Zipper Building is as
dead as the rest of the plan. It was a oneshot approval” for the entire 2031 project, he said, and so Mills’s ruling has sunk the whole thing. Talking afterward, Berman drew a connection between the historic victories by Jane Jacobs and her Village allies two generations ago in the 1950s and ’60s against redevelopment projects and highway plans by powerful planning czar Robert Moses. It was very “apropos,” Berman noted, that the superblock open-space strips are leftover remnants from when Moses widened Mercer St. and LaGuardia Place for a crosstown highway plan that was ultimately defeated by the community. Ellen Horan, a leader of the LaGuardia Corner Gardens, located on the openspace strip along LaGuardia Place south of Bleecker St., was relieved the garden is now protected as a result of Mills’s ruling. N.Y.U. had planned to bulldoze a pathway through the garden to access one of its planned construction projects, slated for the current supermarket site. The flourishing, decades-old garden also would have been roofed over with a protective construction shed, blocking out natural light. But N.Y.U. had a solution for that. “They suggested grow lights for three years,” Horan said. In a statement in response to the plaintiffs’ Jan. 24 press conference, N.Y.U. spokesperson John Beckman said, “The recent judge’s ruling upheld the university’s ULURP approvals and it clearly permits us to move forward on the Coles Gym site, the first of the proposed projects. The litigants are simply wrong in fact and law. “The reality is that this is a good plan,” Beckman said. “It allows N.Y.U. to put needed academic facilities on blocks long dominated by large towers, on property N.Y.U. has owned for decades, and in ways that create beautiful new green spaces for the public; it creates thousands of new jobs; and it helps N.Y.U. maintain its edge as a top university. “Finally,” Beckman stated, “we are confident that Justice Mills’s application of the notion of ‘implied parkland’ will be overturned on appeal.”
Ruthie, the 15-year-old babysitter, holding a real $50 bill, along with the paperwork from Chase for the bogus bill one of the bank’s branches pawned off on her employer.
Holding a bank accountable for giving out counterfeit cash BY BOB KRASNER
t might be time to invest in those little pens that the delis use to check incoming dollars. On Fri., Jan. 3, Laurel Rubin went into the Chase bank at Broadway and 13th St. and made a withdrawal from the A.T.M. She then went to the teller and requested a $50 bill, having decided that her babysitter would enjoy getting paid with one. The $50 bill — which Rubin normally doesn’t like to use because “nobody takes them” — was subsequently delivered that night to 15-year-old Ruthie, the babysitter. The following day, Ruthie and her mother made a trip to another Chase bank, at 23rd St. and Sixth Ave., where the ninth grader attempted to deposit the bill in an A.T.M., only to have it rejected repeatedly. She then presented the 50 to the teller, who, after unsuccessfully attempting to put it through her own machine, eventually realized it was counterfeit. The teller informed Ruthie she was taking the bill, and that was that. Her mother stepped in and wanted to discuss the situation, but she was handed government paperwork for the phony bill, and the bank was done with it. Although one of the sections of the “Counterfeit Note Report” that Ruthie and her mother were given clearly asks, “Does the customer have any information as to the source of the counterfeit?” no attempt whatsoever was made to question the two as to the source of the bill. Yet, that section of the report had already clearly been marked “no,” as if the bank
had questioned them about it. Meanwhile, Rubin, upon being informed of the incident, was furious. “When I go to the bank to withdraw money,” she explained, “I expect real money, not Monopoly money!” Initial attempts to retrieve her money the following Monday morning and extract an apology for Ruthie were stonewalled. It was not until Rubin threatened to withdraw her funds from the bank that she received a credit. However, an apology is still awaited. Calls by this reporter to the Chase branch where the phony 50 originated were met with confusion, long hold times and an “accidental” disconnection. Apparently, as it turned out, neither the manager nor the assistant manager were available that day. Eventually, calls were referred to Melissa Shuffield, who is in charge of “media relations and community engagement.” After a week or so, she e-mailed the following note: “We have strict policies in place to spot and turn away counterfeit bills; our branch teams are instructed to hold people in possession of these bills accountable. It would be impossible to investigate each and every counterfeit bill we find (whether by sight or with the machine) but we do our best to prevent the bills from coming into the bank in the first place.” In other words: Sorry, but we just can’t handle checking all those darn bills. So maybe the money we’re handing out is real, maybe it’s not — who knows? We do our best, though. And as for holding those in possession of those bills accountable, well, maybe next time. February 6, 2014
February 6, 2014