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The Paper of Record for East and West Villages, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown
February 19, 2015 • FREE Volume 4 • Number 33
Two E.V. public-housing complexes are actually now half privately owned BY ZACH WILLIAMS
NYCHA, continued on p. 12
Bratton plan to felonize resisting arrest sparks alarm among activists BY GERARD FLYNN
nder current law in New York State, anyone who intentionally prevents or attempts to prevent a police officer — or any peace officer — from making an arrest can be charged with resisting arrest. Although the Class A
misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison, it’s not a sufficient deterrent, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told reporters Downtown last week. He wants the nearly 2,000 people in the city who are charged with resisting arARRESTS, continued on p. 13
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
he East Village’s Campos Plaza I is now half privately owned and there is no turning back, Shola Olatoye, chairperson of the New York City Housing Authority, told members of the City Council on Feb. 10. Members of the Council’s Committee on Public Hous-
ing said little notice was given before NYCHA agreed late last year to a 30-year partnership with two private developers for the plan, which, along with Campos Plaza, includes five other federally funded Section 8 developments. Among them is the low-rise E. Fourth Street Rehab, between Avenues B
Traffic, including a five-axle tractor-trailer and other trucks, streams off the toll-free Manhattan Bridge and onto Canal St.
Group hopes to build support for tolls on East River bridges BY PAUL LIOTTA
ew bridge and congestion-pricing tolls would help raise money for the region’s transportation needs, one leading transportation group says. Move NY, the organization behind the idea, has proposed an $8 toll, or $5.54 with E-ZPass, at all four East River crossings. The same toll would apply to all Manhattan streets that cross 60th St., including the West Side Highway and F.D.R. Drive.
The new tolls would apply — to drivers going in either direction — on the Ed Koch, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queensboro and Williamsburg bridges. The group unveiled its transportation master plan on Tuesday. According to the Move NY proposal, the plan would generate $1.5 billion in new revenue annually, with $375 million of that going to roads and bridges and the rest going to transit as a whole. Alex Matthiessen, the
campaign director for Move NY, said the plan can help deal with a wide range of transit difficulties. “There are a number of serious transit issues that have vexed New York for decades,” Matthiessen said. “This plan addresses those problems and does it in a way that maximizes fairness.” At the same time, the plan would cut tolls down in the outer boroughs. The oneBRIDGE TOLL, continued on p. 8
www.EastVillagerNews.com She was a sixth-grade Bigfoot!....page 21
ma bin Laden’s son-in-law, is at Canaan U.S. Penitentiary Satellite Camp, in Waymart, Penn. The prison’s Web site describes it as “minimum security.”
EVICTION IS TOO DAMN SOON: The Rent Is Too
Damn High’s Jimmy McMillan tells us that, according to the Human Resources Administration’s Adult Protective Services, his eviction from his rent-regulated E. Seventh St. apartment has been pushed back just a bit, but only till March 3. The Vietnam vet, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, said only three elected officials have offered to help him, Councilmember Inez Barron, Assemblymember Charles Barron and Public Advocate Letitia James. A spokesperson from Councilmember Barron’s office confirmed that she has reached out to McMillan. McMillan’s landlord maintains that the vet-turned-political candidate has another apartment in Brooklyn that is his primary residence. McMillan’s last-ditch try for an injunction to block his eviction was quashed in court.
PHOTO BY JOHN PENLEY
STIRRING IT UP IN STIR: Activist John Penley reports on Facebook that he recently received a long letter from “Inmate Stanley Cohen” from federal prison. Cohen, who pleaded guilty to tax obstruction and got 18 months, is currently working in the prison library and hopes to begin teaching GED classes soon. “The funniest line,” Penley relayed, “was that Stanley requested that he be allowed to teach a class on prison uprisings in America, and of course the warden said no f------ way. ... He also talks about overcrowded conditions and the food, and since he is a nonmeat eater I know it must be hard to get enough food.” The radical attorney, who has defended Hamas members and Osa-
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February 19, 2015
TRUCE OR CONSEQUENCES: The East Village’s Elizabeth Ruf-Maldonado will be directing a new musical, “Truce,” coming up at Theater for the New City April 9 to 19. A work by Barney Grifﬁn and Gene Rufﬁni, it’s inspired by the W.W. I “Christmas Truce,” when, 100 years ago, the British and Germans called a ceasefire and left their trenches to exchange gifts and talk, sing carols, even play soccer together. “Truce,” however, is set in the middle of the 21st century “after a U.S. invasion of Brazil... The action opens on soldiers from both sides celebrating a Christmas Truce with soccer and Brazilian dance.” The musical is still casting for talent, and it’s a plus if potential performers can play Latin percussion instruments and do Capoeira. If you can do a bicycle kick, you’re definitely in! Sounds cool! But why, we wondered and we asked, does the U.S. wind up attacking Brazil? Ruf-Maldonado responded: “Reasons: Natural resources? Spread of left-leaning politics and economic policies in Latin America? The play should leave audiences asking questions, finding out more and taking action.” Send head shots and résumés to firstname.lastname@example.org .
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HELL, YEAH! ROSEN DONE GOOD: The L.E.S. Dwellers’ Diem Boyd and Sara Romanoski don’t say it unless they mean it. They recently issued an e-mail press release from awash-with-alcohol Hell Square praising Dennis Rosen, the departing chairperson of the State Liquor Authority, while also expressing concern that his good work will be continued by his successor. Rosen has been tapped by Governor Andrew Cuomo to become New York State’s Medicaid inspector general, but will remain at the S.L.A. until a replacement is appointed. “Unlike his predecessors,” they said, “Chairman Rosen has allowed residents throughout the city to establish a rapport with the S.L.A. by encouraging them to file complaints and raise concerns directly with the authority. Previously, residents felt disenfranchised given that their valid complaints registered to 311, local community boards and police precincts were not always given the attention they deserved. After inheriting a dysfunctional, inefficient agency plagued by a history of corruption — an agency that was unable to properly regulate the city’s liquor license holders — Chairman Rosen leaves behind a more functional, accessible and accountable agency. We hope Chairman Rosen’s replacement will continue his vision and commitment to improving the agency, moving it forward with modern technology tools, while maintaining his senior staff, all of whom have been instrumental in the recent successes at the New York State Liquor Authority.”
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A rare photo of Stanley Cohen and his wife, taken at Nobu restaurant about five years ago.
VINDICATION: That was the subject line of Trudy Silver’s recent e-mail about her finally having “received the check in the mail” for being arrested while protesting with the War Resisters League and then held in jail for three days during the Republican National Convention in 2004. She and her cohorts had staged a die-in near Madison Square Garden, where the G.O.P’ers were holding their conservo confab. “Ten years ago, decked head to toe in white shrouds, heartened by the balmy August weather, we marched up Broadway toward the Republicans garrisoned in their fortress,” she recalled. “Two by two, some 50 strong, we planned a ghostly assault upon the world’s richest and most powerful assembly. Symbolizing Iraqi war dead, we lay in the streets and blocked access to the convention site.” Ultimately, the city paid out $17.6 million to demonstrators jailed during the convention, many of whom were held — notably at the Hudson River Park’s Pier 57 — without being charged for more than 24 hours, in excess of the norm. “The authorities seem to take the position that law-breaking motivated by conscience poses a greater threat to the body politic than simple criminal activity,” Silver scoffed. “The authorities had years to plan for this event. Did ‘Guantanamo on the Hudson’ [Pier 57] and the Tombs constitute the city’s best efforts?” Asked what the payout was, Silver told us, “I got $1,000. Legal Aid lawyers deservedly got most of the money.” As for her 5C cafe, Silver said, “We found two Jamaican brothers from Brooklyn, master barbers who do plumbing, electrical, carpentry. They are paying the bills and we hope to open a coffeehouse during the day. We have had three memorials for musicians and a couple of fundraisers recently. Hopefully we’ll have regularly sched-
uled events soon. The renovation from Sandy is finally done.”
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Pols, Irish Queers blast parade committee BY GERARD FLYNN
PHOTO BY GERARD FLYNN
ecause it falls on her brother’s birthday, local City Councilmember Rosie Mendez isn’t exactly sure what she’ll be doing this St. Patrick’s Day, when the floats and bands make their noisy way up Fifth Ave. past the cheering crowds. But despite a recent decision by the parade committee to allow an L.G.B.T. group to march for the first time, Mendez still won’t be marching, she told reporters Tuesday on the steps of City Hall. Last September, the parade committee announced plans for the first time to allow an L.G.B.T. group, Out@ NBCUniversal, made up of members of the network that televises the parade, to participate. That decision hasn’t won over many in the L.G.B.T. community, according to speakers at Tuesday’s press conference. Slamming the move as a cynical ploy by the organizers, they accused them of “trickery and bigotry.” The protest included Emmai Gelman of the group Irish Queers, who are among the many who are very unhappy that the parade organizers didn’t reach out to them before deciding to allow the NBC group to join in.
They suggested that corporate sponsorship may have played a role in the parade group’s decision. In a September interview with BuzzFeed, Irish Queers called including the NBC group a “deal made behind closed doors between parade organizers and one of their last remaining sponsors, NBC.” Insufficient room is being given as this year’s reason for the continued exclusion of other L.G.B.T. groups from the parade. But Queens Councilmember Daniel Dromm — who, like Mendez, is openly gay — called on the parade committee to follow Ireland’s all-inclusive example and have a change of heart. Veteran gay-rights activist, Allen Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, warned elected officials that march that they would be “watched.” “Too many elected officials are playing politics” over the parade, Roskoff declared, adding that he would be watching those who participate. He said he was “very proud of City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s decision not to attend.” Although she was not able to attend, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer issued the following statement:
Jeff Mulligan of Irish Queers blasted the “closed-door deal” to allow a group of L.G.B.T. NBC employees to join the parade on March 17.
“We have boycotted the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan for a simple reason: Refusing to allow Irish
L.G.B.T. New Yorkers to celebrate their heritage and their identity by marching in the parade is discriminatory.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Affordable Housing Policy: • April 2013: Then-Public Advocate Bill de Blasio criticizes former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s annual increases in water rates as a “hidden tax.” • February 2014: Mayor de Blasio increases water & sewer rates 3.6%. • June 2014: Mayor de Blasio calls for Rent Freeze (landlords wind up with 1% rent increase, lowest ever on record).
• November 2014: Mayor de Blasio calls for stricter rent regulations. • January 15, 2015: Mayor de Blasio announces a 13% increase on real estate tax assessments.
Increased Taxes and Costs + Rent Freeze = Landlords Cannot Repair, Improve, Maintain and Preserve Affordable Housing The de Blasio Affordable Housing Equation Just Doesn’t Add Up. EastVillagerNews.com
The de Blasio affordable housing policy hurts poor and middle-income families, those most in need of affordable housing – as well as landlords of rent-stabilized apartments, the largest providers of affordable housing.
It’s Time for New Solutions to an Old Problem. February 19, 2015
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February 19, 2015
nstead of a traditional State of the Borough speech, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer opted to host a panel discussion on Feb. 8 regarding the future of local communities. The hour-long discussion covered a wide range of topics, including affordable housing, education and community-police relations. Brewer also emphasized the role of technology in grassroots politics by staging a social media campaign to accompany the event, which was held up at Columbia University. Twitter posts with the hashtag #SOTB2015 streamed audience questions and comments onto a projection screen during the panel discussion. Local elected officials meanwhile posted their own six-second videos summarizing their ambitions for the upcoming year via the social media Web site Vine. “I really do believe in getting different ideas to solve problems,” Brewer said in an interview. She said an emphasis on youth brought Community Board 3 Chairperson Gigi Li to the panel, where she joined H. Carl McCall, the former state comptroller and current SUNY board of trustees chairperson; Ruth Messinger, the former former Manhattan borough president; and Jaime Estades, president of the Latino Leadership Institute. The panelists all agreed that more affordable housing will be needed to maintain middle- and low-income populations within the borough. Local community members need to maintain input throughout the development of affordable housing, said Li. As an example of an engaged community planning process, she touted the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA), where more than half of the 1,000 new units to be built will be affordable. People with a long-running presence in the neighborhood should receive preference for new units, she added. Many affordable housing projects are constructed under a so-called “80/20” plan — such as the Extell development underway on Cherry St. — under which a builder receives tax breaks in exchange for making 20 percent of the units affordable. But many affordable housing activists and local residents say that framework offers too much to developers and not enough housing for community needs. Plus, the units created are not permanently affordable. New market-rate housing in the East Village and Lower East Side also reflects the changing commercial orientation of the areas, which today host a booming nightlife. Community leaders need to confront prospective business-
PHOTO BY ZACH WILLIAMS
Member of the New York Press Association
Panelists talk housing, education, police at Brewer’s borough forum
Gigi Li was shown on a big screen as she discussed saving retail diversity at Gale Brewer’s State of the Borough panel event.
es and urge them to open shops that benefit local neighborhoods rather than just another loud bar, Li suggested. “Retail diversity has been a huge challenge in the Lower East Side and East Village where we are seeing a predominance of a particular type of industry,” she said. Improvements in the quality of high school education are also crucial to improving neighborhoods and aiding social mobility, noted McCall. Rising graduation rates are encouraging, but less so if students reach college only to enroll in remedial courses, McCall stressed. “The biggest issue we face right now is the fact that the students who are coming to us from New York high schools are not prepared for college,” he said. More technology could help reverse that, said Brewer. As The Villager reported last July, $480,000 in new funding came to Lower East Side schools last year for laptop computers, as well as interactive whiteboards and tables, the latter which are basically large, horizontal tablet computers. Teachers with a pre-Digital Age skillset need more training, Messinger said. Low-income families still face financial barriers to accessing pricey tech tools, Eastades added. Schools could also encourage a greater appreciation for healthy eating and environmental sustainability, according to Brewer. She said that New York City was the second-biggest purchaser of food nationwide after the U.S. Department of Defense. Yet, applesauce for
school children comes from China, she said, to gasps from the audience. Such purchases should be made from New York farmers, according to Brewer. Grassroots efforts can help improve frayed relations between the New York Police Department and local communities, the borough president added. At a recent forum in Upper Manhattan co-hosted by Brewer, private citizens engaged police brass and politicians in small groups, rather than in a town hall-style format that limits the ability for individual participants to directly engage each other, she said. “It wasn’t a microphone situation,” Brewer explained of the Jan. 30 forum. “People really exchanged ideas.” Such sentiments were the common theme throughout last Sunday’s event, at which panelists and Brewer urged that legislative and community initiatives must follow a bottom-up approach based on residents’ views. For the elderly that can mean determining bus routes by how many local seniors actually want them, said Brewer. For Li, that spirit translates well into immigrant-heavy areas of the borough, such as the Lower East Side. Government and community services should reflect an enclave’s inherent diversity rather than merely adapting to it, according to Li. “I think something what’s very important is cultural competency, communication, having police officers that speak the language,” she said, “understand the culture and neighborhoods they are patrolling in.” EastVillagerNews.com
Manitoba’s rocks on after settling A.D.A. lawsuit BY HANA RASKIN
PHOTO BY HANA RASKIN
n a bitterly cold Sunday evening in New York, a handful of patrons sat at the bar at Manitoba’s on Avenue B watching the Harlem Globetrotters’ antics on TV. In the background, a steady stream of punk rock music thrummed. The place’s walls are adorned with photos from punk rock’s past. There’s a signed picture of Iggy Pop, a shot of Bruce Springsteen with a Dictators T-shirt, and a photo of Manitoba’s owner, Richard “Handsome Dick” Manitoba, The Dictators’ lead singer. There are also a multitude of photos of musical legends in rock and the blues, including Muddy Waters. Manitoba’s has been in its home on Avenue B between E. Sixth and Seventh Sts. since 1999, and is one of New York’s few remaining punk bars. It was recently widely reported — both in the neighborhood and beyond — that Manitoba’s was at risk of closing. Many assumed the issue was the usual one about East Village bars — noise complaints. However, this case had nothing to do with decibel levels and perturbed neighbors. Last year, a wheelchair-bound man from Rye, N.Y., claiming he was unable to enter Manitoba’s, sued the bar
Handsome Dick Manitoba wasn’t about to let a disabled-access lawsuit knock out his bar.
under the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to Bedford and Bowery, the man, Luigi Garotto, has reportedly filed at least 12 different lawsuits against New York merchants for A.D.A. violations. The plaintiff sought $500 in damages and payment of his legal fees. The case was settled in December. In order to pay for the bar’s legal fees and also to help keep the place alive, Manitoba and his wife, Zoe Hansen, started an Indiegogo campaign. The effort, which kicked off
Jan. 19, had an original goal of $25,000. Contributors were offered an array of rewards, including a guitar signed by Joan Jett (which sold in less than two hours), posters of John Lennon and Yoko Ono or of The Dictators, Drew Friedman’s illustrations of John Lennon or Ernie Kovacs, or a signed bobblehead of Handsome Dick Manitoba himself. The Manitoba’s team was able to meet its original fundraising goal by the Feb. 18 campaign end date. But, according to Manitoba, there is still a
little ways to go. Manitoba’s lawyer gave him 60 days to come up with the payment. “The minute that happened, I went on tour with The Dictators NYC, so that dropped about 15 days,” Manitoba said. “I didn’t have time to look through Indiegogo with a fine-tooth comb, so I didn’t consider things like mailing costs. “I have to pay $20,000 to the quote unquote ‘lawyer’ and need to pay a company to come in and make sure all their complaints are up to A.D.A. code,” he explained. “I have to order 100 T-shirts, 150 photographs, a bunch of poster tubes, boxes and packaging for bobblehead dolls. I have to hire enough people to buy all the proper packaging, postage and for the labor of sending out hundreds of items one at a time. Indiegogo takes a percentage and PayPal takes a percentage. “I don’t want to put a penny in my pocket,” Manitoba said. “All I want to do is cover every expense.” Handsome Dick Manitoba started Manitoba’s to serve as a punk rock clubhouse, and that’s the way he still feels about it. “I do it for an occasional paycheck,” he said, “and I do it just as much or more for the culture I love that’s dying.”
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Group pushes for East River bridge tolls BRIDGE TOLL, continued from p. 3
way toll on the Verrazano Bridge, for example, would be lowered by $5. Tolls at the Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges would be lowered by $2.50. Tolls on the Henry Hudson, Cross Bay and Marine Parkway bridges would be cut by $1. The proposed toll reductions on these bridges is an incentive to gain outer-borough support for the overall plan. A new surcharge for taxis and other car services below 96th St., along with a removal of parking tax exemptions for people who live in Manhattan, are also included in the proposal. The plan is very similar to a 2008 proposal by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But Move NY, says its plan does more to make a fairer transit system for all New Yorkers — as seen in the reduction on outer-borough bridge tolls. Move NY was formed in 2010 in response to what its members call “the growing crisis facing the city’s
transportation system” — namely, inadequate service, escalating fares and tolls, and a dwindling funding base. The group’s Web site says it includes “a growing and diverse coalition of stakeholders representing regional business associations, trade unions, clergy, civic leaders, transportation and environmental advocates and good-governance organizations.” Move NY’s centerpiece is its master transportation plan — developed by traffic consultant “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz and the Move NY team — for the New York metropolitan region. Over all, the group says, the Move NY Fair Plan would generate the revenues needed to make major investments in maintaining and modernizing the city’s mass transit system and road network, bring toll equity to the region’s commuters and businesses, and reduce the grinding traffic jams that plague the metro region, its people and its economy. However, city and state officials obviously must first be brought onboard
the plan for it to get any traction. On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that a spokesman for Carl Heastie, the new state Assembly speaker, said in a statement: “We will review the plan with our members. In the past, the speaker has not supported tolls on East River bridges.” Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said in a statement: “We’ll review the plan, as will everyone who shares concern about seeing the M.T.A.’s capital plan funded and transit fares kept affordable.” Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office did not respond to requests for comment. Locally, in November, a Community Board 3 proposed resolution calling on the area’s elected officials to study the Move NY plan for East River bridge tolls hit a roadblock when the board nixed it. Back then, some C.B. 3 members warned that tolling the East River bridges would reduce the number of shoppers driving into the Lower East Side from other boroughs and would
put a damper on already-struggling local businesses. Others contended that the tolls would negatively impact low-income residents who do a fair amount of driving back and forth on the bridges. After the board’s November vote to scrap the resolution, C.B. 3 Chairperson Gigi Li told The Villager, “The issue is dead. At this point, C.B. 3 is taking no position on it. If board members want to take the issue up again in a different form it can be discussed.” Jonathan Matz, a representative of Move NY who responded to some Board 3 members’ questions at the November meeting, disappointed by the board’s action, said he was perplexed by the position of C.B. 3. “I’ve spoken to about 20 community boards across the city and I’ve gotten plenty of support from them,” he told The Villager. “I just don’t know about this board. Maybe they’ll change their mind over the next few months and I’ll have another opportunity to come back.”
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February 19, 2015
POLICE BLOTTER alyzer test at the scene, however, and was placed under arrest. A search of the car found a bit of marijuana near the passenger-side door, police said. Singh subsequent took a breathalyzer test at the Seventh Precinct, registering a .137 blood-alcohol content, close to double the legal maximum of .08 percent allowed to drive. Although he was not observed driving while intoxicated, he was nonetheless charged with driving while under the influence, a misdemeanor.
Accelerating to trouble
Sierra Carter’s unknown.
L.E.S. woman missing Police are seeking the public’s assistance in finding a Lower East Side woman reported missing on Fri., Feb. 13. According to police, Sierra Carter, 15, was last seen at 8:10 a.m. on Tues., Feb. 10, leaving her residence at 10 Catherine Slip. She was wearing a blue snorkel hooded ski jacket, black jeans and brown boots. She is 5-feet-2 and weighs 135 pounds. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the New York Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or texting them to 274637(CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.
‘Had four or five’ A man reportedly had a few stiff drinks before passing out inside a white 2012 Acura SUV parked in front of 538 La Guardia Place. A leg protruding from the open driver’s-side door piqued the curiosity of police at about 4:30 a.m. on Fri., Feb. 13. They reportedly found the engine running and Amandeep Singh, 24, slouched behind the wheel. Singh said he “had four or five” drinks and showed it, according to a police report, which noted the man’s watery, bloodshot eyes and crimson face. He refused a breath-
A double-parked car in an active traffic lane at the northeast corner of W. 14th and Hudson Sts. caught the interest of police on Sat., Feb. 14, around 10:30 p.m. Thirty seconds’ worth of knocking passed before police could wake the sleeping driver. But the man reportedly then quickly snapped to, hitting the gas as soon as he woke up. He nearly struck an officer and a taxi as he raced the 2012 BMW through a red light, according to police. Cops caught up with Joseph Barnes, 22, soon afterward. But when the arresting officer opened the car’s driver’s-side door, Barnes allegedly gunned the gas once again, lurching the car forward, further endangering the officer, police said. Barnes smelled of alcohol and marijuana, had bloodshot eyes and exhibited difficulty with proper enunciation, according to police. He reportedly blew a .02 blood-alcohol content — which is above the legal limit — during a breathalyzer test at the Seventh Precinct station and reportedly refused to offer his urine for analysis. Barnes was charged with felony reckless endangerment.
French Roast ruse An employee at French Roast restaurant, at 78 W. 11th St., skimmed $1,447.96 from the place over a sixweek period beginning on Jan. 2, according to police. Police said the cafe’s manager, Jai Alvarez, 36, was arrested for felony grand larceny. The perpetrator allegedly adjusted the sales totals for 41 transactions on six different dates,
pocketing the difference in cash. None of the money has been recovered yet, according to police.
Violent purse-snatching On Sat, Jan. 24, at 2:18 p.m., a 32-year-old woman was walking in the vicinity of Essex and Hester Sts., near Seward Park, when a man approached her from behind, pushed her to the ground and violently wrested away her purse, containing her cell phone, debit and credit cards and an undetermined amount of cash. The suspect then fled the location. The victim refused medical attention on scene. The suspect is described as a tall, dark-skinned male wearing a green snorkel jacket. Police provided surveillance video of the mugging and the suspect walking away afterward. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the New York Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or texting them to 274637(CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.
Cuticle culprit On Tues., Jan. 20, shortly before 1 a.m., a man entered Peony Nails Spa, at 542 Laguardia Place, through the front door, removed an undetermined amount of money from the cash register and a laptop computer, police said.
Cut her face According to police, on Sat., Jan. 31, at 1:25 p.m., a 30-year-old woman was inside a residential building near the intersection of Jefferson and Madison Sts. when she was approached by a man who, unprovoked, cut her on the right side of her face with an unknown sharp object. The woman yelled and the attacker fled the location. The victim was transported to Beth Israel Hospital where she was treated and released. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the
Police sketch of slashing suspect in Jan. 31 attack.
New York Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline.
E-zee to find him The E train attracts the homeless during winter months as one of only two completely underground subway lines. This helped a 30-year-old man identify for police a homeless man who, he said, had attacked him at the Canal St. station. It all began with the two men riding a northbound E train at about 7:20 p.m. on Fri., Feb 6. The homeless man asked the victim, “What are you looking at?” to which the other man replied he wasn’t looking at anything. Then the homeless man attacked him. The victim received some punches to the head and face resulting in a bloody nose and a fair amount of swelling, police said. A female acquaintance of the perpetrator, also homeless, reportedly joined in by elbowing the victim in the head, police said. Both assailants fled, but police caught Shawana Haidara, 39, and charged her with misdemeanor assault. She told police she didn’t attack the man, but that her purported husband did. He had fled up the stairs by that time, though. The next day the victim spotted Dwayne Lawson, 40, at the E train station at 14th St. and Eighth Ave. He alerted police via 911. Lawson was charged with misdemeanor assault.
Zach Williams and Lincoln Anderson February 19, 2015
Ralph Feldman, 79: Fought fires and to save shul OBITUARY BY ALBERT AMATEAU
alph Feldman, a retired fire marshal and longtime East Village resident whose sculpture honoring firefighters who perished in a 1966 fire is enshrined at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, died on Feb. 5 in his E. Eighth St. home of more than 40 years. He was 79 and in recent years had depended on an oxygen tank in his battle with lung cancer and emphysema. A city police officer for a brief time before becoming a firefighter, he served in firehouses in the Bronx and in Harlem, retiring in 1985 as a fire marshal. A nearly legendary presence on E. Eighth St., Ralph Feldman lived at 315 E. Eighth St. in a building he bought in 1969. lt was next door to the Eighth St. Shul, one of the last of the tenement synagogues. After years of dwindling congregation, fires and disrepair, the synagogue’s few remaining trustees moved to sell the building for development. In 1998 Feldman joined Clayton Paterson, a Lower East Side activist, and others in an effort to preserve the building at 317 E. Eighth St. as a synagogue. Feldman, a nonobservant Jew, told a local newspaper at the time, “I want it to stay Jewish — that’s all.” His actions matched his words.
Ralph Feldman in late summer 2013.
At his own expense and with much of his own labor, he replaced roof beams, installed a new roof, new water and sewer lines. “I thought if the congregation saw what I’ve done, they’d come back,” he said at the time. The congregation did not return and the building was redeveloped as a two-family residence by 2008. John Knox, the city’s longest-serving (1964 to 1998) uniformed fire marshal, recalled that he met his friend Ralph Feldman in 1964. “He had thousands of photos of buildings and fires, including a fivealarm fire right across Eighth St. where he lived,” Knox said. Last fall, Ralph Feldman told a local blog that there used to be as many as five fires a week on his block of mostly vacant buildings. “At the same time the Bronx was burning, the East Village was burn-
ing,” he told the blog. “All Brooklyn was burning. In the ’70s and ’80s, big portions of the city burned down.” Feldman began buying distressed properties in his neighborhood and in Williamsburg, “and turning them into something that people could live in,” Knox said. EV Grieve, an East Village blog, said that a tenant of Feldman’s told the blog that Feldman never raised the rents on his buildings. But some activists accused Feldman of being a slumlord. “I remember that he beat the crap out of one guy,” Knox said. “You either loved him or hated him,” said Paterson, Feldman’s partner in the effort to save the Eighth St. Shul. “He was known for marking graffiti, ‘Yuppie Squatters Out,’ around the Lower East Side,” Patterson recalled. John Penley, a former East Village resident and activist, said in a post on Facebook, “Thinking of Ralph Feldman and his passing: since he was an FDNY fire marshal for 27 years during a long period when there were many fires in the Lower East Side, Ralph had to have seen some terrible things on a regular basis because he would have been the one to go in after a fire and investigate it. That gives you some insight into some of the good and bad things about him.” Robert Perl, head of Tower Realty and the redeveloper of the Eighth St. Shul, recalled that Ralph could be either charming or aggressive. “He told me that after President Reagan sent in the Marines in 1983
to take over Grenada, he went down there with a lot of cash and bank checks to buy waterfront property,” Perl said. “I don’t know if he actually did it, but that’s what he told me.” Feldman was reputed to own 100 properties in the outer boroughs in conjunction with Joe Pogostin, his business partner of 47 years. Susan Roecker, a graphic designer and Ralph Feldman’s longtime companion and collaborator, met him 42 years ago when an acquaintance introduced them. “He was an imposing figure and a little shy,” she said. “He was wonderful to travel with because he was so very approachable to everyone who met him.” Roecker drew the presentation pictures for Feldman’s art projects, including the monumental “To the Fallen 12” honoring 12 firefighters who perished in a 1966 fire at 7 E. 23rd St. The work, a 30-foot charred wooden beam grasped by steel bars resembling fingers, was installed in St. John the Divine in October 1976 on the fire’s 10th anniversary. Rabbi Javier Bogner, of the Stanton St. Shul, officiated at Feldman’s funeral at Mt. Lebanon Cemetery in Ridgewood on the cold afternoon of Feb. 6, where an F.D.N.Y. color guard, firefighter friends, East Village neighbors, Hasidim and West Indians gathered to pay respects, Roecker said. Two nieces, Linda Corozzo and Joyce Feldman, and a nephew, Mitchell Feldman, survive, as do several grandnieces and grandnephews.
Remembering Ralph: L.E.S. was his Garden of Eden BY ELIZABETH RUF-MALDONADO
alph Feldman and I became friends when I moved across Tompkins Square Park to his block in 1992. He was a part of ABC Garden on Eighth St. between Avenues B and C when Miguel Maldonado and I got a plot in the garden in 1993. Ralph helped found De Colores Community Yard across the street when Giuliani bulldozed ABC. Eighth St. neighbors Carol and Cuba were already gardening there, growing vegetables and white roses. Ralph was tending a strawberry patch in the back and kept his motorboat (a large craft painted the yellow-orange color of caution lights with a face and teeth like a barracuda) parked along the eastern wall. Ralph was always present, marveling at women’s capacity for hard work. (I was pregnant with my daughter, Clara, at the time and carting out wheelbarrows full of rubble.) Nursing his daily 24 cups of cafe con leche
February 19, 2015
from Pedro’s (later Rebecca’s) bakery along with four packs of cigarettes, Ralph would converse for hours on end on pet topics like hard-working women, his adventures in the Fire Department and the Scriptures. (I was trying to read the Bible at one time but lost focus after the Pentateuch.) Ralph wanted to name our garden the Garden of Eden. I remember standing up at a Community Board 3 meeting in the mid-1990s to take Ralph’s part on some issue or other and a neighbor taking me aside after the meeting to inform me that Ralph was the Devil. Somewhere I have a photo of a mural on Eighth Street between B and C depicting a dream World Court with six international figures (Nelson Mandela, Rigoberta Menchú, et al.) and six folks from the neighborhood, one of whom was Ralph. I remember the ramshackle piano and the jazz concerts in the old shul Ralph was instrumental in rehabilitating two doors down from the gar-
den, the eight or nine guys looking like Hester St. a century ago, smoking pot (which one of them also famously supplied on a medical basis to the poor and afflicted) and looking for a minyan. I miss their music and obstreperous conversations and their camaraderie. I remember the shul’s beautiful miniature dioramas in glass cases depicting Jewish life in ancient Egypt and the irreplaceable frescos of the signs of the zodiac along the perimeter of the women’s congregation upstairs. That’s my kind of museum — hard to find its ilk in millennial New York City. Ralph’s sculpture of a huge metallic hand clutching the burning beams of a collapsing building still stands in the sanctuary at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Somewhere I have a photocopy Ralph gave me of a newspaper article about that work of art. The accompanying photo shows a swarthy, mustachioed young Ralph standing beside
his sculptural homage to fallen firemen, looking like Omar Sharif. There are so many stories. I was continually surprised over the years how Ralph managed to have his hand in so many things I loved about the Lower East Side in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. In the 1980s he produced an experimental musical, “Candy Store,” in the beloved reclaimed community space CUANDO on Second Ave. and First St. This piece featured a young artist now known as Angel Eyedealism, who, years later, has become my friend. As a landlord, Ralph helped many neighbors and artists with affordable space outside the nouveau gentry’s real estate racket. He could also be merciless. In the years I knew him, I saw how his habits aggravated his mood and vice versa, and how the whole situation took a harsh toll on his health. He behaved both irascibly and kindly, and there’ll never be another like him. EastVillagerNews.com
Exceeded benchmarks for closing the achievement gap & improving student growth Music every day for every child | Two K-5 public schools on the Lower East Side
The new citywide ferry service would fold the existing subsidized East River Ferry service into it.
Grand St. affordable ferry service to set sail by 2018 BY PAUL LIOTTA
n improved and expanded ferry system will soon be available to help New Yorkers get around town. At his State of the City address, Mayor de Blasio, announced plans to begin five new ferry services that will bring New York closer together. The mayor sees the project as another step in his fight against the “Tale of Two Cities.” He believes that the new ferries will allow New Yorkers in mass transit-deprived and far-off communities more economic opportunity. “For years the conventional wisdom has been that certain neighborhoods are doomed to isolation because of their geography,” the mayor said. “Residents of the Rockaways and Red Hook and Soudview will now be closer to the opportunities they need.” The first three ferry routes will set sail in 2017 — from Rockaway, South Brooklyn and Astoria. In 2018, two more ferry routes will be launched — from Soundview in the Bronx and the Lower East Side. All the new service will be knitted into the existing East River Ferry, which connects Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, and will be run and funded by the city. De Blasio said the ferry rides would be affordable, costing the same amount as a MetroCard swipe. The Lower East Side ferry, which
would arrive in 2018, would feature a stop at Grand St. From there, passengers could ride the waves one stop to Wall St./Pier 11, from where they could be whisked to points all over the city. All ferries will run through Pier 11, and by 2018 New Yorkers could go from Soudview to Rockaway entirely by water. City Councilmember Margaret Chin praised the plan to increase the access to transportation. “My local elected colleagues and I have advocated for a Grand St. ferry stop because we know it will create a much-needed transit connection for Lower East Side residents,” Chin said. In addition to Grand St. and Wall St./Pier 11, the East Side route will also feature stops at E. 23rd and E. 34th Sts. The Grand St. ferry stop would link commuters with a variety of other transportation options and would be located at an already-existing dock. Three buses stop at the planned Lower East Side ferry dock. The crosstown M21 and M14A stop there, as well as the M22 to Battery Park City. The mayor also proposed a new ferry service that would travel from Coney Island to Wall St./Pier 11 and feature a stop in Staten Island. That ferry has not yet been approved. To ensure that the new citywide ferry system stays afloat financially, the mayor announced that it would receive a $55 million subsidy from the city.
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February 19, 2015
Two public-housing sites now half privately owned NYCHA, continued from p. 3
PHOTO BY ZACH WILLIAMS
and C. In all, 900 units in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx are in the plan. The developers now control a 50 percent ownership stake in the buildings, in return for which they will pay NYCHA $250 million within the next two years, plus another $100 million over the next 15 years. In return for upgrading the units under their control, the developers will be eligible for federal funding to cover the difference between market-rate rents and what the Housing Authority charges for rent. The development team includes L&M Development Partners along with Preservation Development Partners (the latter a partnership formed by K&R Preservation and Donald Capoccia’s BFC Partners). Olatoye said that, under the plan, the developers will invest $80,000 per unit, installing new kitchens and bathrooms, in the 900 apartments. Building lobbies also will be renovated and security improved. In all, the private partners will reportedly pour more than $100 million into the buildings’ renovations. Olatoye assured that the deal would not lead to the developments’ future privatization. However, it is in fact possible that after the 30 years are up, the units could become market rate. Yet, NYCHA continues to own the land, plus can remove the private managers if dissatisfied with the arrangement. “With this transaction,” Olatoye told the committee, “NYCHA has forged a solution to the chronic and unyielding funding shortage suffered by these six developments, and raised money for the rest of our developments.” Residents of Campos Plaza I, located at 635 E. 12th St., who receive Section 8 vouchers will not see rent increases under Triborough Preservation LLC, the new public-private part-
NYCHA Chairperson Shola Olatoye, at left, answering questions from Councilmember Rosie Mendez, in foreground, at Tuesday’s City Council hearing, at which the deal bringing private developers into Campos Plaza I was discussed.
nership overseeing the developments. There’s no question the agency is strapped for cash. Funding cuts from local, state and federal governments created a $77 million budget deficit for the Housing Authority. The federal Section 8 units, in particular, have been among the hardest hit by federal funding decreases. Meanwhile, the agency needs $18 billion for repairs across the roughly 178,000 apartments it oversees, according to NYCHA. City councilmembers agreed that NYCHA indeed faces massive financial challenges. However, during the agency chairperson’s testimony, they expressed concern about elements of the deal. These included the extent of community input, fair-pay employment opportunities for residents at the developments and the long-term financial health of the six developments.
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February 19, 2015
Campos Plaza I — which has 270 apartments and an estimated 720 residents — is in Rosie Mendez’s City Council district. “NYCHA is between a rock and a hard place,” Mendez said in an interview. “They do not have all of the money in order to do the capital repairs and the day-to-day repairs that are needed. However, the way in which they are moving forward with this project is problematic.” Councilmember Darlene Mealy of Brooklyn said that she was “disgusted” by the deal because she had reached out to NYCHA in the past regarding the future of Saratoga Square, in Crown Heights, which is part of the private-ownership arrangement. “I come now two years later, the building halfway sold and you’re telling me it’s a done deal without coming to the elected officials?” she asked incredulously. Mendez asked Olatoye during the hearing why NYCHA only is maintaining 50 percent ownership in the new enterprise, in contrast to other public-private partnerships where the city has kept 51 percent, a majority interest. Mendez also requested the sign-in sheets from prior public hearings on the now-defunct NYCHA “infill” development plan in order to check if they were counted toward public input for this new deal. This new plan is an outgrowth of the aborted infill plan. Problems and confusion could have been avoided had NYCHA responded to requests for more public meetings
before the deal was made, Mendez told The Villager. But she did secure a promise from Olatoye to appear before Community Board 3 in the future to address neighborhood concerns. Explaining the differences involving units in the federal Section 8 program to public housing residents whose buildings are not part of the deal is key, Mendez said, since the other public housing residents will want to know why their units aren’t getting renovated, too. Olatoye assured the committee that NYCHA retains right of first refusal within Triborough and that 40 meetings were held with residents to determine the priorities for the deal. As for the plan’s 50/50 ownership breakdown, she explained that the 1 extra percent of ownership would preclude Triborough from eligibility for 4 percent low-income housing tax credits and city Housing Development Corporation tax-exempt bonds. Olatoye expressed confidence that if Triborough ever were to default, the city would rescue the developments. “I would imagine that it’s very much in the city’s interest,” she said of that hypothetical. Councilmembers said that only 30 years’ time will tell what happens to the developments given the volatility of the city’s politics and economics. In addition, under the agreement, the Section 8 units would become rent-stabilized should the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development not extend funding for the developments in the future, according to Olatoye. Due to annual rent increases, over time, rent-regulated units can become “decontrolled” and turn market rate. Most of the buildings in the six affected developments are too small to have their own community centers, Olatoye noted, in response to a question from Councilmember Laurie Cumbo of Brooklyn. But two of the buildings will receive on-site supervisors. And community centers that already exist will continue. Campos Plaza I will also have landscaping work done, not only to spruce up the place, but also to help manage storm water at the development, which was inundated during Superstorm Sandy, Olatoye said. Other resiliency work will place infrastructure outside or on top of the building rather than in the basement, she added. Olatoye said the deal is already making a difference for residents of the developments, who for years have had to put up with decrepit housing, mold and the uncertainty of a Housing Authority in a dire financial situation. “There is a real momentum forward here,” she said. EastVillagerNews.com
Plan to felonize resisting arrest sparks alarm ARRESTS, continued from p. 3
PHOTO BY GERARD FLYNN
rest each year to be hit with a felony, carrying the possibility of serious jail time. It’s a move that has infuriated free-speech advocates. Not surprisingly, the top cop is finding solid backing from the police unions. But 11 Assembly Democrats have also climbed on board the initiative, having introduced Bill A02899 weeks before Bratton’s announcement, with the intent of establishing “the Class E felony of resisting arrest in the first degree.” The bill is co-sponsored by Democrats Steve Englebright of Long Island and Felix Ortiz of Brooklyn. “The Legislature needs to take a look at the procedures taking place during an arrest to determine what penalties should be leveled against perpetrators who resist arrest and act violently,” said Jeff Wice, an Ortiz spokesperson. But the proposal is a pipe dream and will certainly fail, according to Marty Stolar of the National Lawyers Guild. “In my opinion, there is no need for such legislation and it stands zero political chance of passing the Legislature,” he told The Villager. Stolar has spent many hours in court defending Occupy Wall Street members accused of the offense, which he said a person can be tagged with for the flimsiest of reasons. “Protesters can get arrested and charged with resisting arrest just because they moved their wrist the
A protester being arrested at The Cooper Union in 2012 during a demonstration over the school implementing tuition. Her backup had the initials “NOYFB” on it — a stronger version of “None of your business.”
three-month stint on Rikers Island. She is writing a book on her experiences in the Occupy movement for The Nation, living in Atlanta and subsisting off the magazine’s stipend, she said last week. Her conviction — for felony assault on a police officer — has severely curtailed any employment opportunities, she said. McMillan, a veteran activist, said she knows many of the tricks to avoid arrest, such as letting one’s body go limp, which she called a “long-held historical practice in order to shift the balance of power in a protest scenario.” Yet she said there are numerous ways to be accused of resisting arrest. She called Bratton’s proposal “insane.” The move, she charged, is yet another attempt by Mayor Bill de Blasio to smooth things over with the police, after their well-publicized falling out after the nonindictment in Eric Garner’s chokehold-arrest death. Had resisting arrest been a felony several years ago, there might have
‘This charge is frequently used to cover up police misconduct.’
wrong way,” he said. “I have seen too many complaints.” The attorney suspects recent protests around the country and in the city go a long way toward explaining Bratton’s move. If the change is made, the net effect would be to deter people from participating in protests, he said. In recent days, the proposal has been generating a lot of Internet buzz, including an online petition on Change.Org that has garnered more than 250 signatures. That felony convictions come with “life-altering stains” was given as one reason for the petition. That’s an effect a former client of Stolar’s, Cecily McMillan, has been finding out since recently being released after a EastVillagerNews.com
been a much different Occupy movement, she noted. Calling New York “one of the least progressive cities I have ever lived in,” she said her felony conviction there means she must now virtually tiptoe around America lest she end back up in the slammer. “For five years I can’t participate in civil disobedience,” she said. “If I get into a misdemeanor, I am on the first bus back to Rikers and six years in prison for sitting down to protest the murder of a man,” she said. “This is criminalizing protest.”
Police unions did not respond to requests for comment. An activist group, the Justice Committee, issued the following statement from Loyda Colon, its co-director: “Recent analyses prove what our members and constituents have known through experience for years: that overly aggressive officers frequently use this charge to cover up police brutality and misconduct. “Upping the penalty for a charge that is so often used unjustly and illegitimately amounts to an attack against New Yorkers of color.”
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February 19, 2015
PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY
The key to a grand piano move-in How do you move a grand piano into the top floor of a five-story loft building on Broome St. in Soho? Like this!
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Lent diet is a real savior To The Editor: This Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period before Easter, when many Christians abstain from animal foods in remembrance of Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert before launching his ministry. But meat-free Lent is much more than a symbol of religious devotion to Christ. It helps reduce the risk of chronic disease, environmental degradation and animal abuse. Dozens of med-
ical reports have linked consumption of animal products with elevated risk of heart failure, stroke, cancer and other killer diseases. A 2007 United Nations report named meat production as the world’s largest source of greenhouse gases and water pollution. Undercover investigations have documented farm animals being beaten, caged, crowded, deprived, mutilated and shocked. Lent offers a superb opportunity to honor Christ’s powerful message of compassion and love by adopting a meat-free diet for Lent and beyond. After all, it’s the diet mandated in
Genesis I-29 and observed in the Garden of Eden. Our supermarket offers a rich array of plantbased meat and dairy alternatives, as well as the more traditional vegetables, fruits and grains. Entering “vegan recipes” in our favorite search engine offers more products, recipes and transition tips than we can use. Nico Young E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@ thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.
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Watch out! Putin is puttin’ on a new push in Ukraine. 14
February 19, 2015
Sheldon Silver’s real record on tenants’ rights TALKING POINT BY MICHAEL MCKEE
heldon Silver was elected speaker of the state Assembly 11 times, following the premature death of his predecessor, Saul Weprin, in 1994. This means Silver has negotiated renewal of the rent laws three times. How did he do? Let’s start with the Great Rent Wars of 1997. In December 1996, then-Senate Republican Leader Joseph Bruno announced that he would not allow a vote on a bill to renew the state rent laws when they came up for renewal the following June. That unleashed a firestorm of tenant activism, with tenants who had never been active banging on the doors of tenant organizations to ask how they could help. Silver immediately became the leader of the opposition, declaring that the Assembly would not pass the state budget until the rent laws were renewed. This was a gutsy move on his part. During the legislative session, Silver’s advocacy on behalf of tenants was heroic. But on June 15, the day the rent laws expired, he went into negotiations with Republican Governor George Pataki — who opposed rent regulation, but had let Bruno front the campaign to end it — and gave away the store in return for Pataki’s agreeing to renew the rent laws for six years instead of the expected four. The array of weakening amendments Silver agreed to have inflicted enormous damage on tenants and the supply of rent-regulated housing. The most damaging of these was the vacancy-deregulation provision, which made it impossible for New York City to repeal the similar law that the City Council enacted in 1994 without permission from the state Legislature, and also extended that deregulation to apartments in Nassau, Westchester and Rockland counties. Another amendment barred investigations into illegal rents from going back more than four years, thereby facilitating rent overcharging and illegal deregulation, and gutting the rent registration system. Others included making it harder for Housing Court judges to stop evictions; letting landlords raise the rent on vacant apartments by an extra 20
percent; removing aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews as family members eligible for the right to take over a lease when the tenant of record moves or dies; and making it easier to evict for demolition. And then Silver was caught asleep at the wheel in 2003. The next time the rent laws came up for renewal, in 2003, Silver made no effort at all. He and Bruno had a handshake deal before the session began to renew the rent laws without additional weakening amendments. But on the last night the Senate was in session, Bruno double-crossed Silver, passing an unprecedented eight-year extender with two new anti-tenant changes, and then adjourned for the year. An embarrassed Silver was faced with the choice of letting the rent laws expire or swallow-
Though at times heroic, Silver was tricked by Bruno, and later sold out on J-51.
ing the changes. The Assembly swallowed. Until then, tenant groups had been only mildly critical of Silver, hoping that he would try to undo some of the damage he’d inflicted on rent-protection laws. But after this dismal performance, Tenants & Neighbors organized a demonstration in 2004 outside his 250 Broadway office. Silver and other Assembly Democrats protested mightily: Why were tenants attacking their champion? Then there was Silver and Cuomo’s alleged “tenant victory” in 2011. Four years ago, Silver seemed to make an effort to negotiate meaningful changes to the rent-regulation system, made more likely by a muscular tenant campaign and the election of a Democratic governor who favored renewing the laws. But the final result was a disappointment. While tenants fought the real-estate lobby to a draw, getting the laws renewed without weaken-
ing amendments for the first time since 1993, the negotiated bill left all the rent deregulation mechanisms in place. It also preserved all the loopholes (major-capital-improvement increases, preferential rents, and the 20 percent vacancy bonus) that enable landlords to jack up regulated rents to the point where tenants can no longer afford them. And last but not least, in 2013, Silver sold out on J-51 renewal. Despite promising tenant advocates in 2012 that — unless he won important pro-tenant changes — he would not renew the expiring J-51 tax subsidy to landlords who renovate their buildings, Silver did just that. In January 2013, he pushed through a “One Big Ugly” omnibus bill that renewed this program, along with a tax break for co-op shareholders and condo owners. But the only pro-tenant change was one extending protection to a small number of loft tenants, most in north Brooklyn — important protections, but they apply to only a few hundred units. One million rent-controlled and rent-stabilized tenants got screwed again. The bill also included language that gave 421a tax breaks to five Manhattan luxury apartment towers that normally would have been ineligible because they contained no affordable housing. A Met Council on Housing report, “Tax Breaks for Billionaires,” blew the lid off this subterfuge a few months later, so the 421-a carve-outs are what most people remember about this bill. No legislator wanted to take responsibility for that giveaway. The bill’s lead sponsors, Democrats Senator Martin Golden and Assembly Housing Committee Chairperson Keith Wright, both told reporters that they were not aware the legislation included those provisions. Daily News reporter Dan Freedman eventually uncovered the information that Silver was the one who had included the 421-a carve-outs — at the behest of the Real Estate Board of New York. Aware that Silver was insisting on getting the bill passed, no Assembly Democrat spoke against it on the floor, and only seven voted against it. This column first ran in Tenant/Inquilino, the monthly newspaper of Met Council on Housing. McKee is a board member, Met Council on Housing, and treasurer, Tenants Political Action Committee
PHOTOS BY MILO HESS
The Hudson River is full of ice floes, but there were some signs of spring that painted a rosier picture in Tribeca this week, including on a bike’s chain guard on North Moore St. and on a wall on Pier 25. EastVillagerNews.com
February 19, 2015
Lois taps into wine — by the keg — on Avenue C BY TINA BENITEZ-EVES
February 19, 2015
PHOTO BY PATRICK J. EVES
igh school friends from Cleveland, Phoebe Connell and Nora O’Malley decided to embark on something a little wild last year: opening a wine bar in the East Village. The area hardly lacks a good spot for wine, but trying to find a good wine on tap can be tricky. Lois, at 98 Avenue C, which officially opens March 2, will serve up wines like most beer, from the keg. Only a handful of New York City establishments have tapped into this alternative to bottles, which can make tasting and trying new wines more cost efficient without the added cost of labels and shipping. Serving draft wine gives the co-owners a chance to offer customers wine by the glass starting at $4 to $10. “We’re really trying to change the format of drinking,” said Connell. Sandwiched between local beverage spots Alphabet City Wine Co., where O’Malley serves as store manager, and ABC Beer Co., where Connell is the food buyer and manager, the new 550-square-foot bar will truly complete the Avenue C trifecta of wine and beer establishments tailored to tasting and learning. The approach with Lois is to leave
Nora O’Malley, left, and Phoebe Connell say Lois will “change the format” of wine drinking.
any wine snobbery at the door. Patrons can toss out any wine drinking pretenses and just enjoy a different tasting experience. The wine bar will also give regular ABC Wine patrons the opportunity to have a laid-back experience. Here they can sit, relax and feel comfortable trying, tasting and learning about wine, whether
a Sancerre, Vermentino or Vinho Verde. On any given night, 14 to 16 wines will be on tap at Lois. “No matter your level of knowledge, there doesn’t need to be an air of pretension or an air of any insecurity to get exactly what you want at the end of the day,” O’Malley said. “We want to find that sweet spot between dictating what people are drinking and allowing them to discover a lot, and helping out in that process.” Kegged wine is still a new phenomenon. Gotham Project brought it to the East Coast market back in 2009 with a Finger Lakes Riesling. O’Malley said that more producers are recognizing the benefits of kegging their wine, and New York distributors are realizing that there’s a demand for this alternative to bottled vino. Today, there are a few hundred producers kegging wines, including Napa’s Saintsbury, one of the wines that patrons will find on tap at Lois. Like draft beers, wines will be switched out once they’ve tapped out, helping Connell and O’Malley rotate the selections on a regular basis. Local ingredients will be used whenever possible for Lois’s menu, which will feature five to six small dishes, including assorted charcuterie and cheeses. These can be paired with the wines on tap, a cheddar-topped ribollita baked up French onion soup-style and house-made, seasonal pickled vegetables. Connell received her master’s degree in food science at N.Y.U., and O’Malley first fell in love with wine while working a job in Italy after college. Cheese is Connell’s personal background, and she will concentrate on more domestic selections to pair with wines. Most cheeses served at Lois will also be available for pur-
chase next door at ABC Beer. Lois will serve two beers in addition to its wines to give people a little more variety when tasting. “I hope and envision a lot of people trying a bunch of things,” Connell said, “and finding their favorites, discovering favorites or being surprised by what they thought were their favorites with friends, and not be afraid about how much it’s costing them.” Connell and O’Malley took a modern and light approach to the interior decor and tapped interior designer Michael Groth to help bring that vision to light. The man behind another East Village establishment, The Eddy, plugged in his reclaimed aesthetic in Lois’s wood seating, lower ceilings, custom wood floors, poured concrete bar top and lighting fixtures. Keep an eye out for a 200-year-old kilim, a traditional Turkish rug, used as upholstery for the bar’s banquette. Additional light fixtures were also crafted by Philadelphia designer Robert Ogden, who also constructed Lois’s tables, mirrors and reclaimed wood chairs. Above all, Connell and O’Malley envision lots of laughter and a place where patrons can feel comfortable learning and talking about wine. “We don’t want to be too lofty,” O’Malley said. “We’re not trying to start a movement or anything. We just want to serve wine the way that we want to drink it.” “Beyoncé will definitely factor in,” said Connell, who added that their musical tastes are all over the place, from Motown to O’Malley’s love of Bruce Springsteen, and will be heard throughout the bar. “It’s just simple and fun,” she said. “We wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t fun.” EastVillagerNews.com
Buhmann on Art COURTESY OF NICELLE BEAUCHENE GALLERY
Installation view of “and the Cream Tones,” 2015.
JIM LEE “AND THE CREAM TONES” Through March 15 At Nicelle Beauchene Gallery 327 Broome St. (btw. Bowery & Chrystie) Wed.–Sun. 11 a.m.–6 p.m. or by appointment
BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN (stephaniebuhmann.com)
n the past, Lee has recast components of painting through a variety of experiments such as cutting, dismantling, slicing and sculpting. Testing the surface and structure of his canvases to the ex-
COURTESY OF NICELLE BEAUCHENE GALLERY
Call 212-375-8043 Visit nicellebeauchene.com
treme, he questions their traditional physicality and the general sense of preciousness that can be associated with the medium. Stapled seams and stacked canvases seen from the back as one sculptural piece, for example, reflect Lee’s talent in finding beauty in what many would consider mundane. In order to experience his works fully, one has to look at it closely, from various angles and while considering all perspectives. In Lee, the viewer joins the artist’s exploration of what distinguishes image and object, surface and interior, or the visual and physical for that matter. Devoid of one-sided distinctions, this work disobeys categorization and finds its own niche somewhere between drawing, painting and sculpture. In his new exhibition we can expect Lee to continue to astonish, startle and amaze us. He will draw from the lexicon of art history without overt references to any one specific source.
Untitled (Cream Tone #14) / 2015 / Oil, acrylic and flashe paint on linen with staples / 69 x 48 inches. February 19, 2015
Hearts in exile
A widowed African-American pianist and a white drag king seek a place to call home THEATER HOME IN HER HEART Written by Margaret Morrison Directed by Cheryl King Recorded Music by Cynthia Hilts Through April 19 85 minutes, no intermission At Stage Left Studio 214 W. 30th St., Sixth Fl. (btw. 7th & 8th Aves.) Tickets: $22 For reservation & info, visit stageleftstudio.net
PHOTO BY KEITH GEMEREK
BY DAVID KENNERLEY
n the arena of doomed lovers in drama, Romeo and Juliet have some pretty stiff competition from Jimmie LeRoy and Claire Hicks, the misunderstood misfits at the center of “Home In Her Heart,” now playing at Stage Left Studio. Jimmie is a white, Jewish, middle-aged male impersonator with a popular tap-dance act. The much younger Claire, an African-American pianist and composer who lost her husband in a car wreck, is her music director and lover. Which might not raise many eyebrows if the play took place in, say,
February 19, 2015
Margaret Morrison and Ava Jenkins in Morrison’s “Home in Her Heart.’
present-day New York. But this intricately shaded drama is set in London in August 1939, just as American expats are ordered to flee Britain in advance of Hitler’s invasion. For three magical years, the duo have managed to set up house in a cozy flat, enjoying the adulation of crowds and the joys of simply being themselves. All
on the QT, of course. Now forced to return to the States, where even the suggestion of a homosexual, interracial couple would have society up in arms, Jimmie and Claire must face up to some tough decisions. Originally from Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Jimmie was disowned by her family for being a “dyke” (her father sat shiva for her). Claire, who comes from a large, tight-knit family, is not ready to reveal her sexuality and risk rejection. Bringing shame upon herself is one thing, but disgracing loved ones is more than she can bear. Not that family is the only issue. Homosexual acts are illegal and also seen as immoral, and Claire is unnerved. “I’m not sure if what we do is sodomy,” she says, eliciting one of the occasional bursts of uneasy laughter from the audience. Is it worth fighting to stay together? That’s just one of the urgent questions that keep us on the edge of our seats in this thoughtful, vibrant twohander, written by the supremely multitalented Margaret Morrison, who
also plays Jimmie. Sporting cropped, graying curled locks, she embodies the tormented performer with a heady mix of grit and tenderness. Her tap dancing is impressive as well. Portraying Claire, Ava Jenkins is at her best during the ecstatic, hopeful moments — wrapped in Jimmie’s loving embrace or flush with excitement after playing an impromptu concert on the ocean liner bound for New York. Female piano players, it should be noted, were a curiosity back then. A “negro” female piano player was borderline scandalous. Staged with razor-sharp simplicity by Cheryl King, creator and producing director of Stage Left Studio, “Home In Her Heart” is much more than a gripping love story. Although set well over a half-century ago, the thorny matters of racism, sexism, and homophobia still resonate fiercely today. There is no real set to speak of, just a few key props, like stacks of Claire’s music charts and Jimmie’s costumes hanging on the wall. Scene changes are marked by evocative audio tracks of a bustling nightclub, air raid signals, a radio announcer issuing gas mask warnings, and an ocean liner horn — brilliant touches that immediately telegraph context. The production is perked up by well-chosen snippets of popular songs of the day, like “Embraceable You” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” by the Gershwin brothers. Recorded piano solos are performed by Cynthia Hilts. This raw, often haunting piece conjures some unvarnished, intimate moments, where the extraordinary couple, often in various states of dishevelment or undress, behave like any ordinary couple — warmly reminiscing, bickering over what to pack, or making love. Although Jimmie wears the pants, so to speak, it’s Claire who sometimes calls the shots. When Jimmie suggests she travel under the guise of her maid, for instance, Claire becomes outraged and refuses. The delicate, stunning scene where Jimmie needs Claire’s help in bandaging up her breasts to flatten her silhouette before she dons a striped, double breasted suit and pink paisley tie for their farewell performance, is like nothing you will see on any New York stage this season. EastVillagerNews.com
Just Do Art BY SCOTT STIFFLER
I WAS A SIXTH GRADE BIGFOOT
Whether prowling local burlesque stages as slinky and sweet alter ego Cherry Pitz or exposing her true self on the storytelling circuit, Cyndi Freeman has an uncanny knack for coaxing epic images from intimate moments. The two-time NY Fringe Festival award-winning solo performer — whose work as an instructor with The Moth Community Outreach Program has empowered disabled adults, nurses and the incarcerated tell their stories — has a brand new tale of her own, inspired by the long shelf life of radioactive lies. A world premiere in Horse Trade Theater Group’s annual Frigid Festival, “I Was a Sixth Grade Bigfoot” draws upon the myths, misunderstandings and outright lies that define an 11-year-old’s public image. Obsessed with the Bigfoot phenomenon, Freeman discovers that her homeroom classmates are far more adept at telling whoppers than those grown adults roaming the forest with footprint-shaped show shoes. By convincing the faculty that she was a violent pathological liar, parents lived in fear and only the bullies knew the truth. Writer/performer Freeman peppers this true tale of malicious falsehoods with fun Sasquatch trivia, perhaps arriving at some conclusions about what motivates us to spin yarns that can’t be controlled once that ball gets rolling. Occasional basketball columnist and burlesque performer Sara Peters directs. And that’s the truth! At UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place, btw. First Ave. & Ave. A). Feb. 19 at 7:10 p.m. Feb 22 at 3:30 p.m. Feb 28, at 10:30 p.m. March 4 at 8:50 p.m. March 8 at 5:10 p.m. For tickets ($10, $8 for students/seniors), visit FRIGIDnewyork.info. For info on the artist, visit heroicsinhotpants.com.
THE BRAINWAVE FESTIVAL
Say what you will about Taylor Swift — but even haters have to admit her “Shake It Off” song has planted in tween hearts and minds the notion that the path to inner peace begins at the point where we let go of toxic thoughts. Whether you’re still in your juice box years or a jaded adult in need of a philosophEastVillagerNews.com
Elusive truths and hidden agendas abound, in Cyndi Freeman’s look back on the high price of tall tales. “I Was a Sixth Grade Bigfoot” plays the Frigid Festival, through March 8.
ical reboot, the Rubin Museum of Art is the place to expand your mind and satisfy your soul. Now through April, their Brainwave Festival is exploring the Buddhist notion of attachment. “We’re looking at the basic idea of where satisfaction exists…through a diversity of perspectives on the very human tendency to cling to the things that we think will make us happy,” says RMA Director of Public Programs Tim McHenry, who has filled the festival with on-stage conversations, films and art that further the museum’s overall mission to “break down the ego-driven behavior that we have, and recognize that we are just one element of many that are connected.” Upcoming installments of their “Conversation” series, which pairs artists with scientists, include an April 8 event at which Shaolin Master Shi Yan Ming and neuropsychologist Tracy Dennis discuss “Discipline as an Art.” Curated by Oscar-nominated writer-director Guillermo Arriaga, the “Words with Gods” series (March 4–April 22) screens short cinematic meditations on faith and consciousness, followed by dialogues between
faith practitioners and scientists who study the mind. A Friday night film series addressing the theme of “fixation” includes Hal Ashby’s 1971 romp between a very young Bud Cort and a very old Ruth Gordon (“Harold and Maude” on April 17). A Wednesday lunchtime series (“Lunch Matters”) screens past recorded Brainwave events. On March 4, a 2014 conversation between Hunter College neuropsychologist Tracy Dennis and former NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski has the duo discussing the mindset required to
endure extreme space missions. Brainwave Festival events take place through April 22, at the Rubin Museum of Art (150 W. 17th St. at Seventh Ave.). Ticket prices vary. Museum Hours: Mon. & Thurs., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed., 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Fri., 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sat. Sun., 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Call 212620-5000 or visit RubinMuseum.org/ brainwave.
JUST DO ART, continued on p. 20
February 19, 2015
Just Do Art JUST DO ART, continued from p. 19
GREENWICH VILLAGE ORCHESTRA presents “MOMENTOUS MAHLER”
“Momentous Mahler” is performed on Sun., March 1, 3–5 p.m. at Washington Irving Auditorium (40 Irving Place, at 17th St.). Suggested donation: $20 ($10 for students/seniors). Visit gvo.org or call 212-932-0732.
AXIS COMPANY presents “THE GROUNDLING”
Set on playwright Marc Palmieri’s home turf, “The Groundling” gets its gears turning when Bob Malone comes upon an outdoor Shakespeare production somewhere in
Manhattan. Inspired, the Long Island landscaper returns home and resolves to pen a play depicting scenes from his troubled marriage. Cast with neighborhood oddballs and set to premiere in his cleared out garage, Malone hires two skeptical New York theater professionals to oversee the creative process — which, from your seat in the Axis Theatre, plays out like a heartfelt meditation on the waning moments of “Love’s Labour’s Lost.” That title’s last word is the operative one here, as the motley crew (all fish out of water in some sense) find themselves deeply affected by the shared experience of putting on a play. Feb. 19, 25, 26; March 4 & 5 at 7:00 p.m. Feb. 20, 21, 27, 28; March 6 & 7 at 8 p.m. Feb. 22; March 1 & 8 at 3 p.m. At Axis Theatre (One Sheridan Square, just off Seventh Ave.). For tickets ($50, $35 for students/seniors), call 212-8079300 or visit axiscompany.org.
COURTESY OF THE RUBIN MUSEUM OF ART
It’s a case of the Fifth on the first, when Greenwich Village Orchestra’s March 1 “Momentous Mahler” program comes in like a lion and never goes the way of the lamb. “From the opening fanfare to the closing chords, through marches, dances, storms and the famous Adagietto, a love song to his wife,” promises the GVO, “Mahler ’s Fifth Symphony will envelop you in an intense musical world filled with humanity, spirituality, and emotion. The classy cultural venue has yet to ban selfie sticks, so bring them to post-concert reception, in anticipation of mingling with Music Director Barbara Yahr and the musicians. GVO’s 12th season continues on April 12, when they return to
Washington Irving Auditorium for an all-Tchaikovsky program led by guest conductor Pierre Vallet (from the Metropolitan Opera), and featuring young virtuoso Siwoo Kim. May 17’s “Summer in the City” program has favorites by Gershwin and Rossini, with mezzo-soprano Naomie O’Connell singing Berlioz’s song cycle “Les nuits d’été” — and “Symphonie Fantastique” anchors the orchestra’s first-ever music video.
Monkey see, monkey want…but what happens when monkey gets? Rubin Museum of Art’s Brainwave Festival contemplates attachment and happiness.
Win Tickets to “ Horseplay: Or, The Fickle Mistress”
Jerry Matz, Kendall Rileigh (at table), Eva Kaminsky (by door), Benjamin Russell, Emily Kratter and Robert Ierardi in Axis Company’s “The Groundling.”
PHOTO BY DA PING LUO
Long before the first Madonna song or Kim Kardashian skin shot, Adah Isaacs Menken rode to international superstardom after being stripped, strapped to the back of a horse, and sent up a fourstory-tall papier-mâché stage mountain in the Broadway melodrama “Mazeppa.” Ridiculed in 1861 as “unhampered by the shackles of talent,” this reimagining of Menken’s life aims to reclaim her rightful place in popular culture and lore — but as what: Black? White? Jewish? Catholic? Lesbian? Poet? Actress?
PHOTO BY JOHN PAINZ
Photo by James Eden
Equestrienne? Written by this publication’s Downtown theatre columnist, Trav. S.D. — and presented by Theatre Askew as the latest entry its celebration of the history of queer presence in New York — “Horseplay: Or, The Fickle Mistress, A Protean Picaresque” stars Molly Pope as Menken and features longtime Ridiculous Theatrical Company member Everett Quinton. The winner of our giveaway will receive two tickets for the Thurs., Feb. 26, 8 p.m. performance. To enter, email HorseplayTix@TheVillager.com, along with your phone number (only enter once, please). A winner will be selected at random, and contacted by phone on Feb. 23. The show, which runs through March 1, takes place at La Mama’s Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. Fourth St.). But why leave it to chance? Purchase tickets ($18, $13 for students/seniors) by calling 646-430-5374 or visiting lamama.org.
The Greenwich Village Orchestra returns to Washington Irving Auditorium for three Sunday afternoon concerts, on March 1, April 12 and May 17.
February 19, 2015
The admirable inscrutability of ‘Young Bodies’ Betzer’s debut follows its vision, for better or worse FILM YOUNG BODIES HEAL QUICKLY Written & Directed by Andrew T. Betzer Runtime: 102 minutes Opens February 27 At Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Ave. (at Second St.) Info: 212-505-5181 or anthologyfilmarchives.org
BY SEAN EGAN
COURTESY OF FACTORY 25
he title of writer/director Andrew T. Betzer’s debut feature, “Young Bodies Heal Quickly” is a minor puzzle. That evocative, mildly cryptic phrase somehow seems fitting, despite the fact that its meaning is never made entirely clear. It’s the first indication of something that becomes increasingly obvious as the movie plays out: Betzer is not one to dispense meanings or morals. His film isn’t the kind that deals with niceties like conventional narrative structure, dialogue or character names. It’s an uncompromising, inscrutable movie that, for better or for worse, stays true to its highly unusual, distinctive vision. The plot, as it were, concerns two nameless brothers — one an adult (listed simply as “Older” in the end titles) and one a preteen (similarly credited as “Younger”). After an opening sequence in which some aimless destruction culminates in the accidental death of a young woman at the hands of the siblings, the film follows its leads as they go on the lam. The episodic tale that follows finds the two encountering a series of oddball characters: first their un-amused sister and her carpenter husband, then a French maid, and finally their gruff, estranged father — an Australian groundskeeper obsessed with war. The decidedly informal narrative is rendered even looser by the decision to have it play out with minimal dialogue. Thankfully, in Gabriel Croft (Older) and Hale Lytle (Younger) are capable of turning in performances that anchor the proceedings. While
Odd couple siblings Older (Gabriel Croft) and Younger (Hale Lytle) flex.
they don’t share much in the way of conversation, they expertly allow their body language play off one another and communicate the essence of their relationship — the hulking Older is all intense physicality and incessant beer swigging, while spindly Younger possesses wide eyes and observant facial expressions. Croft and Lytle let the physical tics of the characters speak volumes, and create acutely realistic characters — the two brothers simply are. The problem is, Betzer also lets “Young Bodies Heal Quickly” simply be. That is to say, the lyrical aura derived from the movie’s intentional lack of structure frequently veers over to the wrong side of indulgent aimlessness. This causes the pacing to suffer, and makes the film’s 100-or-so minutes feel far longer than they actually are — though admittedly, one’s mileage may vary when it comes to a feature as outthere as this one. Mileage may also vary when it comes to its strange tone. “Young
Bodies” can be quite sobering, sometimes moving into genuinely disturbing places — particularly in a sequence where Younger’s father pushes him to model some highly offensive war memorabilia. However, it also features a prominent comic streak, the effect of which makes the whole film feel uneasy. The longest verbal exchange, for instance, is a hysterical but narratively inconsequential deadpan argument between Older and his father (about crabs’ swimming abilities). And an attack by a meat cleaver-wielding chef (shouting about semen in French, naturally) is borderline surrealistic, more blackly comic than terrifying — though Betzer never explicitly encourages laughs. It seems then that Betzer and the movie love living in gray areas — and to its credit, this often pays dividends. This is most obvious in the intense final act, where the line between real and feigned violence becomes blurred, and the distinction between acts of caring selflessness and insid-
iousness is played with intriguingly. The film also probes at questions about masculinity, justice and the consequences of actions, though the way in which Betzer refuses to answer any of these questions (as well as obscuring causality and characters’ motivations) is both refreshing and frustratingly confounding. Nonetheless, the movie is never less than original — and if the narrative falters, it always looks amazing, thanks to Sean Price Williams’ cinematography. Shooting on gorgeous, grainy 16mm, and highlighting the everyday sprawl of rural America with his roaming camera, Williams gives the film a striking visual palette that makes it feel like a work out-of-time. Ultimately “Young Bodies Heal Quickly” is easier to admire than to love, and more likely candidate for appreciation rather than enjoyment. Hopefully it is just the opening salvo of a talented young director who will continue to sharpen his narrative and structural skills — without sacrificing his tenacity and clearness of vision. February 19, 2015
Birth of a Voice: John Wilcock, writer, mailman NOTEBOOK BY JERRY TALLMER
he birthplace of The Village Voice, and its cradle for the next couple of years — until we moved to larger quarters (two floors) next door to the Lion’s Head, a journalistic hangout on Christopher Street at Sheridan Square — was that little old floor-through one flight up at 22 Greenwich Avenue, not much larger than my beloved apartment on Perry Street. There was a main space, looking out on Greenwich Avenue and not much else; a tiny rear room containing a desk — Dan Wolf’s desk — and an ancient daybed; a bathroom of sorts; two or three desks upfront, a couple of battered Royal typewriters, an ink-splattering mimeograph machine, a broom, a wastebasket, and — not an odor exactly but a mustiness. A newspaper mustiness, even though there’d never before been a newspaper on the premises. I knew at once, as I stepped through the door, that this was it, for me. Even before I got there, there was somebody — a human presence — ensconced at a desk by the windows. This was John Wilcock, a chirpy little 28-year-old British refugee from Fleet Street and its Daily Mail, who’d made his Great Circle route to Greenwich Village by way of Toronto, Canada, and — quite separately from Ed Fancher, Dan Wolf or Norman Mailer — had wanted to start a newspaper more reflective of the onrushing Beatnik counterculture than was the neighborhood’s long-established doddery weekly The Villager. John Wilcock, the first News Editor of The Village Voice — until Dan took back that job for himself — had seized the desk by the windows with a double purpose. One was to look out at what was going on in life all up and down Greenwich Avenue, the other was — these were windows you could open — to use the window as a mailbox. He dashed off typewritten letters of varying length to this one and that one all day long, folded them, stuck them in envelopes, sealed and addressed those envelopes, and then blithely tossed them — stamp-less — out through the open window onto the sidewalk below. In the firm belief — I kid you not — that some good Samaritan would sooner or later come along, pick up the envelope, see that it wasn’t stamped, put a stamp on it, stick it in a mailbox. And it worked. It must have
February 19, 2015
The cover image of “John Wilcock: New York Years, 1954-1971,” an ongoing online biography by Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall in graphic novel / comic book style. Page four, about Wilcock’s dream of starting a new paper, has a dig at The Villager, whose contents back then he describes as “mostly bridge club party reports.” The comic book can be read at http://www.ep.tc/john-wilcock . Image © Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall
worked. I never heard John complain that one of his missives hadn’t reached its addressee. Wilcock lived only a short distance from the newspaper. He was always dashing out of the office and running home to see the latest event or program on that still relatively new phenomenon called Television. In fact John was the only person I can remember — Greenwich Village person — who in those days watched television. I certainly never did until I married Louise and we had our twins. Then I discovered baseball on television. ... So: John Wilcock was, at the start, News Editor of The Village Voice, and his idea of news was little 3-inch human-interest (or human curiosity) stories, each of which began, Fleet Street style, “A man who...” or “A woman who...” (“A woman who went roller skating with a Polar Bear in Central Park is a sadder and wiser woman today...”), even though John hated Fleet Street — O.K., hated England — well before anyone this side of the water (any water) had ever heard of Rupert Murdoch. He must have had something, though. He and Flo Ettenberg, one of The Voice’s two do-it-all secretaries, became an item, giggling and dashing here and there night and day. “You don’t understand him,” Florence ruefully said to me, and I guess I didn’t. When the News Editor job was taken away from him,
John came back with a weekly column of chitchat and profiles, “The Village Square,” which was copyedited every week by yours truly through gritted teeth and — I have to say it — drew a wide and appreciative readership week after week. There is always room in this world for anomaly. Imagine my shock, one icy wintry morning in a car returning from the printer’s in Washington, Pennsylvania, when John Wilcock suddenly begins reciting his way through the poetry of T.S. Eliot, beginning with the one poem that has spoken most to me all my life: “Let us go then, you and I / When the evening is spread out against the sky / Like a patient etherized upon a table...” That may have been the same day on which, earlier, en route the printer, I went into a skid on an icy overpass and was drifting uphill into the left lane when a car coming headlong at us was occupying the same lane at full speed. Luckily, I had practiced skids one icy morning back in college 15 years and a whole World War before, and now, turning into the skid, I wrestled us slowly back onto the proper side of the road, and thus saved the entire Village Voice staff — Ed, Dan, John, Flo, Laura, Sue Ryan, myself — from being wiped out at one fell swoop. John Wilcock also believed in reading a lot of letters. Our letters. Letters or memos or whatever to or from Ed, Dan, me. Anyone’s
letters. Everyone’s letters, in the pre-electronic era. If you were foolish enough to leave your mail lying around on desktops — in or out of envelopes — why, then, it was his to read. It was part of his moral code. It drove Ed, Dan and me crazy — especially Ed. By then he and Dan were established in the tiny rear room — the one with the daybed — and they made sure to stuff any mail, etc. in drawers and to lock that room whenever everybody went home for the night. John got in anyway. He came in through the transom over the door. Ed nailed the transom shut. John got in anyway. The Voice was immediately adjacent to the low one-story building of Sutter’s bakery. John somehow got onto the roof of Sutter’s and climbed through a small window into the tiny back room of The Village Voice. Oh well. Ho hum. I used to bump into John at wide intervals through the years, and he always bitterly felt he never got proper credit as one of the founders of The Village Voice. He was right. He didn’t. He was a pain in the ass, but an integral piece in this long-ago jigsaw puzzle. I Googled him just now. The most recent entry has him out in Ojai, California, publishing a weekly political and chitchat column “of lasting insignificance.” I wish him well. Florence has been married forever to somebody else, and I certainly wish her well too. P.S. anent that battered daybed. Years earlier, as a kid, I had read Jack London’s “The Sea Wolf.” In it, the hero was constantly throwing himself down on the deck for 10 minutes of flat-out restorative sleep. During the whole first six or eight months of The Voice, when I (and sometimes Dan) had to go straight through 16 or 18 or 24 hours of work on it without sleep, I took Jack London’s suggestion to heart, and would hurl myself down on that daybed for what my father would have called “40 winks” of rebirth. It amazed everybody who saw me do it. One other memory of that back room. It was the day Norman brought his ex-wife No. 1, Beatrice Silverman, and their then-8-or-9year-old daughter Susan — the first of Norman’s nine children — to the office. He planted the child on top of Dan’s desk. Sitting there, she looked around, searchingly, at Dan, at Ed, at me, at Norman, and then in loud, clear tones demanded: “What I want to know is, who is the boss here?” Tallmer, who died in November at 93, was a founding editor of The Village Voice. He was the paper’s associate editor and its first film and drama critic. For the past two decades, he was a prolific contributor to The Villager. EastVillagerNews.com
PHOTOS BY MILO HESS
Backstage pass: Primped-up pooches paws for pictures Canine contestants put on their best face Monday at Piers 92 and 94 and Madison Square Garden for the Westminster Dog Show.
February 19, 2015
February 19, 2015
Narwhals get shot down by Vaughn yet stay upbeat SPORTS BY ROBERT ELKIN
halk this one up as part of the learning curve for the new Narwhal Nation. The New School men’s basketball team got blown out, 99-54, by Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology on Mon., Feb. 9. As the basketball game progressed at the Elmcor Recreation Center in East Elmhurst, Queens, the point margin just kept on widening and widening. Vaughn College is a member of the NCAA Division III and is heading into a post-season Hudson Valley tournament, whose winner has a chance of going into the Division III tournament. The New School, on the other hand, plays an independent schedule during the basketball season, with no NCAA tournament at stake, and ends its schedule with a four-team local tourney at Baruch College this weekend. “We went up against a really good team in Vaughn,” said Dave Privat-Gilman, The New School’s coach, after the 45-point shellacking. Along with playing outstanding defense and offense, the Warriors pressed most of the time. The New School hoopsters didn’t have a chance of keeping it even reasonably close. Vaughn was admittedly the toughest game on the Narwhals’ schedule, with the loss dropping them to 6-4. “We have a good record and played against some good teams this season,” Privat-Gilman said. Jesse Futterman, a 6-foot-2 forward for the Narwhals, was upbeat despite the drubbing. “On the positive side this winter, there has been a certain cohesion from our game plan to our execution,” he said. “Early in the season, we looked disjointed and our game plan didn’t live up to our execution
The New School men’s basketball team.
throughout the games. But slowly, as our games went on, the ‘X’s and ‘O’s and the playing have come together.” Futterman is one of two freshmen on the team, the other being 6-foot1 forward Benjamin Irving. Futterman and the rest of his teammates don’t have a regulation-size gym at The New School for their practices and games. “It’s a grind,” Futterman said, speaking after the trouncing by Vaughn. “Sometimes we have to practice in undesirable and strange places. “Still, we have a close group who will practice even outside if we have to. But for my progress, this was my best game, even though it came in a loss.” Another Narwhal, Max Resetar, also has a positive attitude about the team’s progress. “I see a lot of play, pride and heart in being a member of the team,” said the junior guard. “And I think that’s the best way to play basketball. It’s
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fun to play with a group that cares.” Of course, The New School has always been known more for its leftist academics than athletics. In fact, it never really has been known for sports at all. Resetar, a journalism major, who
writes for The New School Free Press, said, “It’s interesting to play for this type of team at The New School. All the coaches and players are committed to play here — but the school and administration isn’t quite as committed as we want to be.”
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