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The Paper of Record for East and West Villages, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown

March 20, 2014 • FREE Volume 4 • Number 9

Tribes, exuberant East Village arts space, faces eviction BY SARAH FERGUSON


TRIBES, continued on p. 11

‘Let it be’; Pols urge mayor not to appeal ruling on N.Y.U. BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


athered round the Fiorello LaGuardia statue in LaGuardia Park last Saturday afternoon, local politicians, plus “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon, joined by a crowd of dozens of Villagers, once again urged N.Y.U. to scrap its embattled plan


ast week, the Howl! Festival announced that it had selected blind poet and playwright Steve Cannon to be 2014’s poet laureate of the Lower East Side. But the news of this latest feather in Cannon’s cap is bittersweet, because he and his iconic

E. Third St. gallery/performance salon, A Gathering of the Tribes, are now on the verge of losing their home. According to the terms of a legal settlement with his landlord, Lorraine Zhang, both Cannon and Tribes — which has operated out of Cannon’s sec-

for its two South Village superblocks and “go back to the drawing board.” Similarly, they told the de Blasio administration to drop any idea of appealing last month’s extraordinary court ruling that has thrown a huge roadblock in front of New York University’s 2031 deN.Y.U. PLAN, continued on p. 12

Theresa Byrnes holding her son, Sparrow Joe Louis, a few days after his birth on Feb. 13.

An East Village artist reveals her fierce path to motherhood



rtist Theresa Byrnes has never been one to shy away from a challenge. After being diagnosed at age 17 with a rare degenerative disease called Friedreich’s ataxia, she traveled to the Australian Outback and Brazilian rainforest, determined to explore the world on her own while her limbs

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could still carry her. When the disease, which causes progressive damage to the nervous system, forced her to begin using a wheelchair, she took on bodybuilding, Kundalini yoga and other disciplines to keep her muscles and spirit toned. Such drive earned Byrnes a Young Australian of the Year award in 1996 for her work in establishing a foundation to seek a cure for F.A. In

1999, she published her autobiography, “The Divine Mistake,” which chronicles her fearless path as an artist coming to terms with her disease. She’s mounted more than 25 solo shows and staged provocative performances — smearing herself with paint and oil, or mounting her near naked body on a giant spinning CREATING LIFE, continued on p. 6

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3/7/14 11:21 AM

Garden developers say building is for their own kids BY SARAH FERGUSON


embers of the Children’s Magical Garden filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court on March 10 to reclaim the portion of the garden that is now slated for development. They say their 30-year occupation of the lot at 157 Norfolk St. gives them a legal claim of “adverse possession.” They are asking the court to name C.M.G. as the lot’s rightful owner and are seeking damages against its previous owner, developer Serge Hoyda, whose workers fenced off the parcel last May, trampling plantings and effectively dividing this Lower East Side haven in half. Under New York State law, a person can claim adverse possession if they “openly, notoriously and exclusively” use someone else’s property continuously for 10 years, and believe they have the right to do so. “We’ve met the 10-year period, and our suit alleges we’re entitled to damages for having been deprived of the use of the land by the fence,” said C.M.G. attorney Benjamin Burry of the firm Sidley Austin, which is handling the case pro bono. “We are seeking a permanent injunction that will prohibit them from further trespassing or developing the lot in any way.” Whether C.M.G. members can prevail with an adverse possession claim now, after Hoyda just sold the lot to another developer for $3.35 million, will be a true test of this centuries-old legal doctrine. The new buyer, 157 LLC, is also named in the suit. A woman who answered the phone at Hoyda’s real estate firm, S&H Equities, in Long Island, dismissed the lawsuit out of hand: “Are you serious? Do you realize how ludicrous this is, that we don’t even own it now, and that it was a blight on the neighborhood?” responded the woman, who declined to give her name. The gardeners say they staked their claim to “lot 19” and two adjacent city-owned parcels at the corner of Norfolk and Stanton Sts. 30 years ago, when the place was an open-air shooting gallery festering with trash, rats and used needles. They chased out the junkies, put up a fence, and planted fruit trees and vegetables, transforming it into a green oasis and learning center for local children and neighboring schools. By contrast, the lawsuit claims that “for decades” Hoyda and preceding owners “abandoned lot 19 as a shameful eyesore and a danger to school children.” City records show Hoyda purchased the lot for $180,000 in 2003. Prior to that, the lawsuit alleges that in 1999, Hoyda or his associates tried to erect a “makeshift” interior fence around the lot, but community members tore it down. Over the years, Hoyda floated some development schemes, but did not seek to evict the gardeners until last May, when he enclosed the lot in a hurricane fence and hired a 24/7 security crew to keep activists out. C.M.G. members rallied and succeed-


March 20, 2014

Supporters of the Children’s Magical Garden came together on the morning of March 11, resolving to reclaim a lot that is slated for a development project.

ed in getting the garden’s two adjacent city-owned lots transferred to the Parks Department for preservation under the GreenThumb program. Despite such official recognition and appeals to keep the garden whole, last November Hoyda filed plans to erect a six-story, six-unit residential building on his parcel, complete with a penthouse and gym. Then in January, Hoyda sold the property to 157 LLC, a legal entity connected to the Yonkers-based development firm Horizon Group. (Horizon is currently putting up a swanky condo building down the block at 100 Norfolk St.) When contacted last week, Horizon spokesperson Brian Hamburger sought to distance his firm from the turf war. “This is really a lawsuit between the previous owner and members of Children’s Magical Garden,” he responded in an email. Hamburger also defended his clients’ “honest intentions.” He said the partners in 157 LLC were “longtime friends” who “raised their families in New York City” and were seeking to “develop homes for their own children and future grandchildren.” “They understand the importance of community and plan to work with the local Norfolk residents to maintain the garden while fulfilling their own personal

Tristan Weichers, a kindergartener at P.S. 20, spoke at the March 11 rally, along with his mother, garden member Emily Weichers.

goals,” Hamburger said. But C.M.G. members say they’ve invested heavily in the property, too. On the morning of Tues., March 11, parents, children, teachers and the principal of P.S. 20, the Anna Silver School, gathered near dawn to describe how the garden evolved over the years to become an open-air classroom for P.S. 20 and three other neighboring schools. Last year, kids at Marta Valle High School made pies from apples they picked from the garden’s apple tree, and children from P.S. 20 now grow herbs for their school lunches. The garden also hosts free jazz concerts and poetry readings, and offers summer camp programs to children in Head Start and the Cub Scouts. “Our claim represents decades of caring for and loving a particular piece of land,” said C.M.G. President Kate Temple-West, who has been mentoring children there for the past 17 years. “Every single tree and plant that’s growing here has been planted by the children in the community, with the help of members and teachers. Every plant means something to somebody.” Although the garden’s two other lots are now protected, bulldozing the interior “lot 19” — the space that gets the most sun, and where the children had their vegetable beds and meditation circle — would rip the heart out of this budding community haven, C.M.G. members maintained.

space at 131 Greene St., according to Faith Hope Consolo, of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, Bloomberg News recently reported. That’s just steps away from the Apple Store, on Prince St. “Google has been looking in Soho for a long time,” Consolo told Bloomberg. “They want to be near Apple, and they’ve been concentrating on Greene St. There are different streets that are in vogue, that have become hot, and it’s just now that Greene St. has become the street in Soho.”

SPARROW’S NEW PERCH: Walking down E. Ninth

St., we heard a call behind us. It was David Leslie, the East Village performance artist / Brooklyn Bridge Swim phenom, and he was dropping off the baby chair of his young son, Brooks, at artist Theresa Byrnes’s place. His son doesn’t need it anymore, but it’ll be perfect for little Sparrow Joe Louis, he said.

NATURAL HIGH: We caught up with Dana Beal, who recently was sprung after three years in Midwestern jails for pot trafficking. Speaking from Omaha last week, the Bleecker St. Yippie told us he’s confident he has found a place to live in New York that will be O.K.’d — namely, “in the top” of the Millinery Center Synagogue, on 38th St. and Sixth Ave. “I think that’ll pass muster with the parole board,” he said. “It’s a center of the Hassids.” Beal is Unitarian, but still there’s some sort of connection. “Re-

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penned the first six chapters of his autobiography, titled “Letters of Transit,” which takes its name from his favorite flick, “Casablanca.”

IF YOU ENJOY intricate, micro-detailed paintings, check out Philip Van Aver’s work at the Dorian Grey Gallery, at 437 E. Ninth St., where he’s currently showing with Lowell Nesbitt in an exhibit called “Secret Gardens.” You’ll need to use the magnifying glass, like the woman above, to appreciate fully the intricacy of Van Aver’s painting. Though he has lived in the same E. Sixth St. apartment since 1969, this collection of works, from 1976 to now, is Van Aver’s first gallery show in the Tompkins Square Park area. “Ever since I was a child, I have been drawn to small-scale objects and miniatures,” he said. “I am employing elements derived from classical antiquity, postcards, many kinds of decorative art, VILLAGER, continued on p.10

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GOOGLE IT — IN SOHO: Google, the search-engine giant, has been searching for a spot in Soho for its first stand-alone retail outlet. The company, which has expanded into smartphones, computerized eyeglasses and laptops, is considering leasing up to 8,000 square feet of


THE GOLD STANDARD: The new “marquee” above Jerry Delakas’s Astor Place newsstand says it all, “Victory.” The golden letters are the work of East Village artist Kelly King, who championed Delakas’s fight to regain the kiosk after he was evicted from it during the waning days of the Bloomberg administration. In the end, Mayor Bill de Blasio allowed Delakas to return, reducing the fine he owed and giving him a manageable schedule to pay it off. Last Saturday, another Delakas savior, Marty Tessler, above left, giving the “V” for victory with the news vendor, was at the stand buying some tickets for the $400 million Mega Millions lottery.

member Yitzhak Freed, the medical marijuana rabbi?” he asked. Of course, Beal can’t return to 9 Bleecker St., from which the Yippies were recently booted in a mortgage payment dispute. He said he’ll be back in the Big Apple in about a month, “unless this reality TV show comes through. Let’s put it this way,” he said. “It’s going to be bigger than ‘Duck Dynasty.’ It’s ‘The Yippies Re-Occupy’ — actually, it’s going to be called ‘Cures Not Wars.’ ” As for Beal, 67, he’s, well, turned over a new leaf. “I can’t smoke pot — I could be ‘P’-tested anytime,” he noted. “If I did, though, I’d use a vaporizer.” Which leads into Beal’s new health kick. After suffering two heart attacks and a near stroke in lockup, he’s given up beer, plus arteryclogging eats, and this from a guy who used to wolf down two eggs and home fries every morning at The Stage restaurant on Second Ave. next to “Stomp.” “This is the clean and sober Beal, man — actually, I get a lot more done,” he said with a laugh. “I lost a lot of hours, mainly at night. I’m like a born-again health nut. I just don’t want to die. I want to live to be 92. One egg yolk is worse than a pack of cigarettes,” he noted. As for reclaiming 9 Bleecker St., he said, they’ll be reaching out for help, including to George Zimmer, former chairperson of Men’s Wearhouse, who supports legalizing marijuana. “He’s a big pot guy,” Beal said. As for clean Beal, he’s so energized now, he’s already

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March 20, 2014


POLICE BLOTTER Truck-crash murder charge

The man arrested Feb. 12 for stealing a delivery truck and killing a city bus driver in a drunken crash at W. 14th St. and Seventh Ave. has been indicted for murder and aggravated vehicular homicide, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced on March 12. Events leading up to the tragic incident began on Feb. 11, when Domonic Whilby, 23, of Georgia, spent the night drinking heavily at various parties that continued into the next morning, according to the indictment. Around 5:30 a.m. Feb. 12, while still intoxicated, he reportedly broke into a commercial truck parked at the loading dock of the Dream Hotel, at W. 16th St. and Ninth Ave., started the engine and then drove away after first careening into the loading dock wall, a taxi and another truck, the D.A. said. After several minutes of a speeding joyride around corners and through a red light, Whilby was driving south along Seventh Ave. where he ran another red light at W. 14th St. and smashed violently into an M.T.A. crosstown bus passing through the busy intersection, the indictment said. As the bus plowed into nearby scaffolding, its driver, William Pena, was thrown from the vehicle and died at the scene. Four other people were injured in the crash. Whilby was arrested at the scene moments after the carnage occurred. At the time of the crash, his blood-alcohol level was at least .18 percent, the D.A. said — more than twice the legal limit. In addition to murder and vehicular homicide, Whilby was also charged with seconddegree vehicular manslaughter, first-degree burglary, first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and grand larceny.

Domestic danger

A 14-year-old girl was arrested on March 11 after she allegedly attacked her older brother and threatened him with a knife inside their South Village home. The boy, 17, told police that his sister was verbally abusing him throughout the day in the Thompson St. apartment, and then began to hit and scratch him on both arms. He further claimed that she then picked up the knife and menacingly approached, causing him to fear for his life, according to the police report. The girl was apprehended inside their home shortly after her brother called police. She was charged with assault, but was placed in the custody of a guardian and will face the charge in Family Court, police said.

at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site at or texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and entering TIP577.


Police arrested a teenage boy early on March 15 after he allegedly stole a Citi Bike and then drew graffiti on a W. Fourth St. apartment building. An officer said he spotted the boy, 15 — who lives just blocks away on LaGuardia Place — outside 132 W. Fourth St. around 3:50 a.m., using a paint bottle with a brush

attachment to tag his nickname, “Skeez,” on a glass encasement on the building’s front. Once the cop approached and questioned him, both about the graffiti and the Citi Bike lying beside him, the alleged vandal admitted to taking the bike from a nearby dock without paying for it, according to the police report. The bike hadn't been pushed all the way into its slot, the boy reportedly told the officer, so he took it. “I was going to ride it and put it back,” he said, according to the report. The boy was charged with making graffiti, possession of graffiti instruments and criminal possession of stolen property.

Sam Spokony

Craigslist con job

Police are searching for a shifty man who allegedly conned 10 women out of nearly $22,000 by posting fake East Village apartment rentals on Craigslist. The suspect — a photo of whom, below, was released by cops — claimed to be a rental agent while posting the false listings for 321 E. Sixth St. and 434 E. Ninth St., police said. During that time, he reportedly used the aliases David Horowitz and Michael Bryant, although his true identity is still unknown. Between Jan. 16 and Feb. 1, nine women paid the suspect cash deposits of $2,200 as down payment on the bogus E. Sixth St. rental, and the other woman paid a $2,100 cash deposit for the E. Ninth St. listing on Jan. 30, police said. Anyone with information about these incidents is asked to call the New York Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline

He’s a real jerk-off


March 20, 2014


Police arrested Ivan Garcon, 28, on March 11 after he allegedly exposed himself and masturbated in front of a 17-year-old girl onboard a PATH train. The victim told cops that she was riding the downtown train around 4:40 p.m. when Garcon approached her, pulled out his penis and began pleasuring himself. The girl said she tried walking to the next train car, but Garcon reportedly followed her and continued his gross display. The alleged perv was arrested inside the Ninth St. PATH station at Sixth Ave., where he had exited to continue following the girl after she stepped off and reported the incident, police said. Garcon was charged with public lewdness and harassment.

How to raise your reading level Police photo of alleged East Village rentals con man.

Last Wednesday, March 12, when the temperature was 60 degrees, a woman took the opportunity to read in a tree at St. Mark’s Church, at Second Ave. and E. 10th St.

U.F.T. co-founder George Altomare recalled using the Union Square pavilion as a freespeech platform in the 1960s and ’70s.

Rally blasts pavilion bistro as mayor remains mum BY SAM SPOKONY


s Mayor Bill de Blasio remains silent on the issue, a coalition of park advocates and politicians gathered near the Union Square Park pavilion on March 9 to call again for him to kill the Bloomberg-era plan to place a seasonal, high-end restaurant in the public pavilion. The advocates recently lost their legal battle against the plan, which will allow the Chef Driven Market bistro to open as early as a month from now. But the court decision that greenlighted the scheme also states that the city can terminate that contract at any time. So the restaurant’s opponents want de Blasio to block it now, before the public space — which has long served as a recreation area for local residents, especially children and seniors — can be privatized. State Senator Brad Hoylman attended the rally with his 3-year-old daughter, Sylvia, declaring that she and other local children should not lose a valuable playspace in an area already oversaturated by bars and eateries. “That’s why we’re asking Mayor de Blasio to put an end to this farce,” said Hoylman, “and make certain that the pavilion is returned to the people, and to park users like Sylvia.” Citing a severe lack of parkland around the Union Square area, Congressmember

Carolyn Maloney called the restaurant plan “one of the dumbest ideas I have ever seen.” Also at the rally, civil rights attorney Norman Siegel highlighted the pavilion’s history as a gathering space for labor leaders and other activists. He claimed that privatizing the property would deeply dishonor that history — while possibly also infringing on free-speech rights. Referring to de Blasio, the attorney said that the advocates’ request to keep the space public should not be a difficult task for a “progressive” mayor. “So, Mayor de Blasio, this is a test for you,” Siegel exclaimed, “to see whether your actions will meet your rhetoric.” One of the people who has, in fact, used the pavilion as a site for labor activism is George Altomare, a longtime East Village resident and a co-founder of the United Federation of Teachers. Speaking after the rally, Altomare, 82, fondly recalled speaking in Union Square in the 1960s and ’70s alongside legendary U.F.T. president Albert Shanker, among others, as they fought for teachers’ collective bargaining rights. He explained that he has already written to de Blasio, urging him to keep the space public. “I would be deeply disappointed in [de Blasio] if he doesn’t stop this,” said Altomare. “I’d honestly have to re-evaluate my opinion of him, as well as my vote for him.” The Mayor’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

New York University is proud to support the annual remembrance of one of New York City’s most pivotal and tragic events.

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire 103rd Annual Commemoration Tuesday, March 25, 2014 12:00 noon – 1:00 pm Washington Pl. at Greene St. Join Workers United (formerly the ILGWU) and the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition to honor those lost in the fire and pay homage to the workers’ rights reforms that have become their legacy. Triangle Fire descendents, elected officials, community activists, labor leaders, union members, and many others will gather for this moving ceremony. All are encouraged to join in this powerful yearly remembrance. Visit for details on upcoming commemorative events. Support for this event comes in part from the NYU Office of Government and Community Affairs. Visit for news about other upcoming programs.

March 20, 2014


Artist calls newborn son ‘my greatest creation — CREATING LIFE, continued from p. 1

wheel in the dead of winter — in works that explore the limits of her body and the fragility of life on the planet. Since moving to the East Village in 2000, her work has attracted patrons like Saatchi & Saatchi and Hollywood director M. Night Shyamalan. Yet at age 45, Byrnes says she is now confronting the biggest challenge of her life: being a mom. “When I first found out I was pregnant, I had no idea if I could carry a baby to full term, so the first thing I wanted to know, can I do this?” she recalled. She booked an appointment with her neurologist, Debra Shabas, at Beth Israel, who “was so overjoyed, I had to tell her to calm down,” Byrnes laughed. “She was like, of course you can do this!” Friedreich’s Ataxia is caused by a mutation of the gene for the protein frataxin (which regulates iron levels inside the mitochondria), but it can only be passed on if both parents are carriers of the abnormal gene. Since the baby’s father isn’t a carrier, there was no chance of Byrnes’s child developing F.A. Although the disease affects muscle control and coordination, studies show women with F.A. can deliver naturally and are no more likely to suffer complications during pregnancy than women without the disease. But other questions loomed. Beyond

the physical demands of giving birth and raising a child, Byrnes also had to confront how she would cope as a single mother, since the child’s father was not ready to commit to being a full-time dad. “I went down to the East River on a hot sunny day and just sat there for hours — really soul-searching and thinking about how I was going to do it, and how my whole life was going to change. I really had to think it through and take responsibility for my decision.” For more than 25 years, making art had been her driving force — and sole means of support. How would being a mom change that? And how would she take care of a growing child, given the increasing limits on her mobility? To attend to an infant, she would need someone there 24/7. “I don’t like getting a lot of help. So that was a really big issue for me — how much am I willing to let go of my own private space? As an artist, writer and a thinker, I need so much quiet time to percolate ideas. It felt like the death of my old self and rebirth of a new. It felt like letting go of my whole being. I was aware of all these things, but still this new life in me was undeniable. “Finally, I realized I am willing to make changes and put myself second,” Byrnes explained. “I thought, this is my last opportunity. It’s too special, too miraculous

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March 20, 2014

Theresa Byrnes performed her work “Measure of Man,” in which she was mounted on a 7-foot rotating disk, in her Suffer gallery on E. Ninth St. in 2010 during the Howl! festival. As she spun, engine oil pumped through her hair and around her body, dripping onto a canvas below her. The resulting creations were sold as paintings.

to deny,” she added, her eyes burning with excitement. As if on cue, as she was speaking, her newborn son, Sparrow Joe Louis Byrnes, gave a small gurgle and extended a tiny hand from beneath his blankets, nestled inside his white wicker bassinet. He was born at Beth Israel Hospital on Feb. 13 at 6:20 p.m., after 15 hours of momentous labor. Giving birth when you’re past the age of 40 tends to freak hospital staff out. As your due date nears, they start sonogramming like crazy and feeding you stats about the higher risk of stillbirth for older moms — regardless of your own health history. So it was surprising to hear that Byrnes’s midwife and her supervising physician both assured her early on that she could have a vaginal birth. “They didn’t want to give me a C-section because of the problems healing,” Byrnes revealed. “I use my core so much, so it would be really hard to cope with an incision there.” Byrnes says her pregnancy was relatively easy. But at 39 weeks, her doctors began pushing for her to be “induced” rather

than wait for her body to go into labor. “They felt it was better for me to go to hospital and have a team in place and ready,” she said. But Byrnes was afraid if she went in too soon, she could wind up with a C-section. Finally, she agreed to be admitted at 40 weeks and a day. “But I really wanted to steer clear of Pitocin,” the drug used to induce labor, Byrnes explained. “I had read studies showing the benefits to the mother and child of oxytocin,” the hormone released during labor that causes a woman’s body to initiate contractions. Pitocin is a synthetic form of oxytocin. Recent studies have shown it may have more adverse effects than previously believed — one study last year suggested children whose births were induced may have a higher risk of autism. “So I said, O.K., I’ll come in, but let me try to do the birth naturally first,” Byrnes said. To help bring on labor, her midwife inserted a small balloon to help expand her cervix. Then Byrnes asked the baby’s father to suck on her nipples to stimulate CREATING LIFE, continued on p. 7

the death of my old self, birth of something new’ CREATING LIFE, continued from p. 6

When asked how she thinks being a mom will affect her career, she rolled her eyes. “No idea. Obviously, I am going to paint portraits of my son all my life,” she said. “But I’m not driven by my work right now.” She’s holding a fire sale of her works to raise money for Sparrow from March 15 to April 6 (, then subletting her gallery for a year to devote herself to mommydom. A Los Angeles film company is making a movie about her life based on “The Divine Mistake.” And her literary agent is clamoring for her to finish her second autobiography. She’s returning to her homeland in May for a solo show in Sydney. So, even if this latest chapter in her life was very much unplanned, it seems like everything is falling into place. Still, doesn’t she worry that as the disease progresses, her son could be left someday without a

mom? Studies show most people with F.A. survive 30 to 40 years after diagnosis. “There’s no point worrying, ‘what if? what if?’ ” Byrnes responded. “People die all the time. I could be hit by a train tomorrow. I’m all right now, and I think I’m going to be around for a long time. “If I only have 10 years left, in 10 years things will work out — they always do,” she added, displaying her unflagging optimism. “I have amazing friends and family here and in Australia, so the right people will come forward if they need to. “I’ve never lived my life I fear,” Byrnes explained. “I trust that the universe will look after everything — it always has in my life. Look at my life and what I have achieved. Look at the birth. “People say, wow, you’re a force of nature. But it’s not me. Nature is amazing. I’ve embraced nature, and that’s what I’m going to teach Sparrow: To embrace nature and not live in fear.”


the natural release of oxytocin, which helped dilate her cervix further. “That got me to 10 centimeters, but my contractions were still very far apart. They broke my water to speed the contractions up, but it didn’t, it just made them unbearable. I was shitting and projectile vomiting from the pain, so they gave me an epidural, and then all the doctors wanted to give me a very low dose of Pitocin. “And I said no, just give me 20 minutes my way, and if it doesn’t work, we can do it your way,” Byrnes recalled. “They agreed, but they were all still bickering, so finally, I yelled, ‘O.K, shut up!’ I grabbed [the baby’s father] and said, ‘Let’s do this, stimulate my nipples.’ So he was holding my right leg up and tweaking my nipple, and my best friend Kevin was holding my left leg, and the contractions were coming. “Everyone was cheering as the baby was crowning. I was listening to Hindu chants to the goddess Durga playing over on my iPod. She is the goddess who gave birth to the universe,” Byrnes explained. “I thought if Durga can do that, then I can give birth to a child. “My body is very strong down there,” added Byrnes, who practiced Tantra yoga for many years. “I have a really strong connection to my core and control of my internal muscles. “And I did it. I pushed him out in 20 minutes!” Byrnes said triumphantly. Considering her son was 8.5 pounds at birth, that’s quite a feat. “At the breastfeeding class in the hospital, there were two younger women there, and they both had had C-sections. It made me so proud of myself,” she said. Now Byrnes has embarked on a new journey — being a full-time mom. “He’s totally what I felt from the beginning,” she said as she positioned her tiny boy on her breast to nurse. “Now I’m meeting him and he’s exactly what I felt: really strong, very determined, very calm and totally present.” With his shock of black hair, caramel skin and alert brown eyes, he is a startlingly beautiful baby — “my greatest creation ever,” Byrnes laughed. She decided on the unusual first name of Sparrow because of her special affinity for birds. “Sparrows have trained me for motherhood,” she explained. “Since 2007, I have found or received sick sparrows to look after till they’re well. The last one fell from the nest and my friend brought him over. I was really being his mummy bird — he consumed my whole life. Then one day he just died. “I was devastated,” Byrnes continued. “I did portraits of him, and then I had a whole exhibition of [abstract] paintings I made with with my hair and feathers, called ‘Sparrow Heart.’ It was about how connected I am to the birds. I wrote an essay about it for my blog (theresabyrnes. com/studiodiary), and then later that

night I conceived. So I really feel that my baby is a gift from the sparrows. “His second name is for Joe, my father, who is my favorite male human being on the whole planet,” Byrnes continued. “The boxer Joe Louis was a great man as well, and a distant relative of Sparrow’s father, so that’s how I decided upon Sparrow Joe Louis.” But as any mother knows, giving birth is a piece of cake compared to the real labor of caring for a newborn. Theresa’s mother flew in from Sydney to see her through the final weeks of pregnancy and is now staying with them. Theresa also has a home attendant who comes every day for several hours to help with the baby. But making room for Sparrow was another dilemma. Bynes customized her tiny studio on E. Ninth St. to live independently in a wheelchair. But the place is simply too small to accommodate a baby and all the gear that comes with him — especially with her mom moving in. After Byrnes hired a friend to create a nursery by winterizing what was essentially a greenhouse attached to her storefront’s back porch, the landlord sent an eviction notice, accusing her of erecting an illegal structure. “Initially, I thought I would have to go back to Australia and live with my parents,” Byrnes revealed. But now, thanks to a Lower East Side group, People’s Mutual Housing, she has been approved to move in to a two-bedroom apartment — big enough for her mom to stay on if she wishes, or for a live-in nanny. “I have a great life in Australia, but I really want to stay here,” Byrnes said of the East Village. “I have my whole life here, it’s my neighborhood.” In fact Byrnes’s family has roots in the East Village: Her great grandfather was bricklayer on the Lower East Side in the 1800s, and her great grandma a New York Jew. Byrnes herself first visited the East Village in 1998. “I met [performance artist] Penny Arcade, got a studio, and had an exhibition at the Angel Orensanz Center,” on Norfolk St. “After that, I knew the Lower East Side was my home. But I went back to Sydney to finish my book and then returned in 2000.” She first moved into a basement space on Rivington St. — not exactly wheelchair accessible. “I would paint in there for three days straight,” she recalled. “The art store would deliver my materials. And every three days, a friend of mine would carry me out. I’d go to the gym, the cafe, buy food — then I went back down again. It was hard-core!” she laughed. In 2003, she got a storefront on E. Fourth St. Every Sunday she opened her front door and turned her home into a salon. When a Chinese restaurant wanted to take over her space, her landlord offered her a lease on E. Ninth St. For a time, she rented a large painting studio in Chelsea. Then in 2010, she opened her E. Ninth St. gallery, Suffer — where she has hosted jam-packed openings, performances and film screenings.

Flipping out on Lower East Side as two taxis collide On Sat., March 8, at 8:30 p.m., two yellow taxis collided at the intersection of Broome and Eldridge Sts. One taxi, the sedan, was reportedly traveling northbound on Eldridge St. “at a high rate of speed.” An S.U.V.-style cab heading eastbound on Broome St. broadsided the sedan cab in the intersection, flipping it onto its side. The S.U.V. taxi didn’t have any passengers. The sedan had a female passenger, who was taken to Bellevue Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, as was that car’s hack. The sedan’s driver, standing at left, with a backpack on and with his back to camera, refused medical attention. At the time the photo was taken, no summonses had been issued.

March 20, 2014


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March 20, 2014

Concerned the city might not follow through on its Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic fatalities — and that promised Slow Zones might not be implemented — the activist group Right of Way, on Sunday, put up 20-mile-per-hour signs in 11 neighborhoods around town. Above, they attached the signs to poles in the Hudson Square neighborhood. They don’t want the exact locations printed in hopes the signs will stay up longer. The West and East Villages are among neighborhoods slated to get Slow Zones, which feature street humps near schools, lower speed limits and other traffic-calming measures. Pedestrians and cyclists are much more likely to survive a car accident if the car is traveling 20 m.p.h. versus 30 m.p.h., the advocates say. Mayor de Blasio has asked the state to authorize the city’s lowering its speed limit from 30 m.p.h. to 25 m.p.h. Uptown Assemblymember Danny O’Donnell is sponsoring a bill to cap the speed limit at 20 m.p.h.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR S.L.A. is listening To The Editor: Re “Lower East Side: A livable neighborhood in progress” (Progress Report, March 6): Over the past year the LES Dwellers have made numerous appearances before the State Liquor Authority. We are so fortunate now to have a considerate and open-minded commissioner heading the S.L.A., one who takes the community’s interest to heart. Our S.L.A. commissioner has made numerous statements indicating that he is well aware of the problems in Hell Square. Hopefully, this message is now getting through to the liquorlicense applicants’ attorneys who have been in attendance at these hearings. When the attorneys start honestly advising their liquor-license clients that this neighborhood is done — no more licenses, don’t waste your time

and money — then our neighborhood will be safe again. And many thanks to Michael at the Meatball Shop, at 84 Stanton St., for his efforts to put together a community-friendly restaurants group in the Hell Square area. Please support his business and his efforts to be one of the many good neighborhood businesses that we are lucky to have in the community. David Troutman

Bronx bummer To The Editor: Re “N.Y.U. cries foul” (letter, by Philip Lentz, Feb. 27): Apparently, Mr. Lentz was not an N.Y.U. employee when N.Y.U. owned the Bronx campus. Indeed, Mr. Leguizamo is quite correct that the university had a large Bronx campus. But, like so many mistakes the N.Y.U. admin-

istration makes, with the sale of its Bronx campus in 1973, N.Y.U. lost, along with academic buildings and dormitories, its athletic facilities and fields. N.Y.U. said it needed the site on Mercer St. to build Coles gym as a replacement, to attract students and maintain financial viability. Current N.Y.U. public affairs employees seem to have little grasp of the university’s 20th-century history. It’s also odd that N.Y.U. does not recognize it needs to go back to the drawing board. Its 2031 ULURP plan has changed significantly with Judge Mills’s decision, and the new N.Y.U. committee report released recently that now asks for housing for 500 students and 100 faculty families, plus 80 classrooms — all of which will add thousands of people daily traversing the area and requiring multiple city services. Certainly, a new environmental

impact study should be required. We call upon Mayor de Blasio to rescind the city’s appeal of Judge Mills’s decision on N.Y.U. 2031 and require N.Y.U. to submit a new ULURP that takes into account land use and requires a major impact study. Sylvia Rackow Rackow is a member, Committee to Preserve Our Neighborhood

I just don’t get it To The Editor: Re “HealthPlex E.R. opening June at St. Vincent’s site” (news article, March 6): All this language about emergency care, comprehensive care, “vast” capabilities, still means we don’t have a hospital. There’s an LETTERS, continued on p. 10

After director’s firing, WBAI sale is now rumored TALKING POINT

by Fuentes to fire Reese failed in February. She added that Fuentes has never been a programmer or board member of KPFA, yet made the motion to fire Summer without ever talking to her. There was reportedly no discussion among members during the telephone conference call meeting when Reese was fired. Also since Reese’s contract was signed a few months ago, she has not had her scheduled annual performance review yet. Rosenberg also claims that nearly




ummer Reese, the executive director of the Berkeley-based Pacifica Foundation, was fired on March 14 in a closed session of the Pacifica National Board. No official reason was given for the firing, which was announced two hours after Reese publicly announced that she had paid the overdue severances of the majority of WBAI’s employees laid off in a financial crisis triggered in part from damage from Superstorm Sandy. Reese’s firing is related to a recent election to the board of members of an opposing faction. After a bitter factional struggle in 2001, an expensive and unwieldy election system for board members was put in place. The latest election changed the makeup of the P.N.B. with 12 of the new members voting against Reese and 10 in favor. The new board members claim that they are not required to recognize Reese’s three-year $315,000 contract with Pacifica because it was signed by the previous board. Summer Reese, although a California native, has a connection to the Lower East Side. In the 1980s as a teenager she was often seen in the neighborhood at protests for the homeless and squatters, and around 1989 briefly stayed in a teepee soup kitchen erected in La Plaza Cultural, at E. Ninth St. and Avenue C. Reese is a friend of mine and I have always supported her career and hope her the best in this struggle. However, the problems faced by Pacifica and WBAI are much greater than the fate of one manager in a revolving door of 11 national managers over the past decade. WBAI, for example, has gone through at least five program directors in the past two or three years. While this fight reflects an internecine battle between factions at the Pacifica stations in Berkeley and Los Angeles, it may have a direct effect on WBAI. However, lately WBAI’s financing has come under control, with the layoff of most of its staff and a move to cheaper digs on Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn. Yet, according to Reese, there are powerful forces in California who are pushing hard for a sale of WBAI to bring in funds to endow the California stations. Reese referred in particular to a Bay Area attorney named Dan Siegel, currently a candidate for mayor of Oakland, who told her directly that he would “sell WBAI to save KPFA,” the Berkeley station. Reese said that a sale of WBAI could bring in between $50 million and $90 million. According to board member and Reese supporter Tracy Rosenberg, there is a “rumor” that “a small segment of the board has been in negotiations with an entity associated with Comcast news

Summer Reese in New York City in Midtown recently.

channel MSNBC to take over WBAI’s license.” Rosenberg maintains that while impossible to verify, she believes the rumor is true. According to a media release Monday morning, Reese and a small group of supporters removed a padlock installed at Pacifica’s offices the previous day and “informed staffers that business would continue as usual.” Rosenberg claims the firing was illegal because of the three-year contract held by Reese, adding that she has “no doubt” that the board was planning to fire Reese for political reasons. She pointed out that a recently elected KPFA board member and employee of the law firm of Siegel and Yee named Jose Fuentes Roman had brought up the motion to terminate. According to Rosenberg, a first attempt

and necessary, and we’re not in the business of disclosing information about personnel issues to the public.” In New York the WBAI local station board is also deeply divided. A former program director, Bernard White, was fired three years ago and lost a subsequent employment discrimination lawsuit against Pacifica. His supporters on the board have spoken out against Reese on several occasions, and White has expressed his desire to see WBAI sold. In an interview, White said, “It’s not really a bad idea — WBAI could sell for $350 million, and you can take $100 million and create a smaller radio station, and take the $200 million and buy smaller radio stations.” WBAI veteran programmer Gary Null is a supporter of Reese and he said during his Monday show that he believes the new management will remove him from the air. Null has often decried “mismanagement” at WBAI and claims that thousands of premiums provided to listeners in return for donations have never been delivered. A news release on the Web site of Null’s Progressive Radio Network claimed that insurance brokers have written the board claiming that, “Pacifica’s high level of employment litigation posed a threat of ‘uninsurability.’ ” It’s time for Pacifica’s leading programmers to put aside their differences and come to a unified agreement on what to do with their valuable radio properties. Whatever happens next in the Pacifica drama may decide the future of the entire embattled network.

Former program director Bernard White hopes WBAI is sold. Meanwhile, Gary Null fears his program will be pulled for his supporting Reese.

$80,000 “in missing event revenues” at KPFA has been “identified” and that KPFA administrators had refused to turn over the station’s books for an annual audit the morning Reese was fired. As of Monday, Margy Wilkinson, the chairperson of the Pacifica National Board who had been appointed interim executive director of Pacifica, was sitting in the network’s offices in a tense standoff with Reese and her supporters. Wilkinson has said that, “The board took an action that it felt was reasonable

DeRienzo is host of “Let Them Talk,” on MNN, Tuesday’s at 8 p.m.


In just a few months, our mayor has definitely made a strong impression.

March 20, 2014


SCOOPY’S, continued from p. 3 fashion and botanical prints, the movies of Luchino Visconti, old engravings and erotic material.” Van Aver, 74, is also active in the hood. In 1976, he became a member of the Citizens Committee to Keep the Ottendorfer Library Open. At the time, the New York Public Library was attempting to close 18 branches, including the historic one on Second Ave. He was also on the executive committee of the Lower East Side Joint Planning Council, which was mostly concerned with housing issues. And he was a founding member of CoDA, Coalition for a District Change, a Democratic political organization. In fact, it was Van Aver who, in 2005, wearing his CoDA hat, had the guts to speak out and tipped off The Villager about an investigation into former City Councilmember Margarita Lopez’s campaign finance shenanigans in her 2001 election race.

ROSIE AND THE ROSES: Well, we finally got Rosie Mendez’s take on Judge Mills’s decision. The East Village city councilmember came to last month’s Community Board 2 meeting, and after she had finished giving her report to the board, C.B. 2 member Lois Rakoff asked her opinion on the ruling. Mendez responded generally, but said she was giving it a lot of thought and even doing extra research on the decision. Rakoff, who said she, too, considers herself a “sister” of Mendez’s, told us she was satisfied with the councilmember’s answer. “She came out smelling like roses,” Rakoff said. Of course, Mendez, before casting her vote for the N.Y.U. 2031 superblocks project in July 2012, said she was doing it for Councilmember Margaret Chin, her “sister.” The hotly disputed project is in Chin’s district, and Chin was the Council’s lead negotiator on it. We spoke with Mendez at greater length outside the C.B. 2 meeting, and from the sound of it, she supports most of Mills’s ruling, but isn’t sure whether the LaGuardia Corner Gardens is, in fact, parkland. Mendez said it seems to her that Mercer Playground is clearly “implied parkland.” She cited the fact that former Councilmember Kathryn Freed allocated $200,000 in capital funding toward what she understood to be a permanent park. “And that’s not an easy thing to do,” Mendez said. “And they had a ceremony with elected officials… . The signs that were there with Parks Department leaf symbols. If it looks like, acts like a park, it probably is.” As for LaGuardia Park, she supports Mills on that one, too. “Allowing

a group to put in a statue,” she noted, citing the Fiorello LaGuardia monument. However, she said, “There’s one that I want to read a little more about — the GreenThumb garden.” She was referring to the LaGuardia Corner Gardens. She said that back when Eliot Spitzer was attorney general — when the battle was raging to save the East Village and Lower East Side’s gardens from development — there were some distinctions cited, as she recalled it, between GreenThumb gardens, for example, and other types of community gardens. “There are different types of garden structures and I just want to do a little more reading on that,” she told us. As for the strip with the MercerHouston Dog Run, Mendez said Mills’s position — that it is not parkland — is correct. “I think her decision was very persuasive, in terms that the dog run was private and you have to be a member,” Mendez remarked. Asked if she now regrets supporting Chin on the N.Y.U. 2031 project, in light of the lawsuit victory, Mendez answered, “I backed Margaret for several reasons. She did negotiate a better project than what was proposed, bringing down the height, scale and bulk. And she saved 505 LaGuardia Place. Getting permanent affordable housing at 505 LaGuardia — that to me was huge. Those families would have been displaced.” The affordable housing wasn’t part of the development project, but was being negotiated with N.Y.U. simultaneously. We told C.B. 2 member Sean Sweeney — who is the director of the Soho Alliance, a plaintiff in the community lawsuit — of Mendez’s uncertainty on the LaGuardia Corner Gardens. “What!” he exclaimed. “They’re growing plants and vegetables! What, is she crazy? That’s more of a park than anything.”

LOOK EASTWARD! St. Mark’s Bookshop is doing an online fundraiser at Indiegogo to help foot its moving costs to its new East Village location. So, does that mean they have a new spot nailed down? Not quite, Terry McCoy, the store’s co-owner, told us. “We have a draft lease for a space, and we have a lawyer reading the lease on our behalf,” he told us last week. The fundraising target is $50,000. “But we’d like it to be double that, really,” McCoy said. As a result, they’re thinking of doing a mid-June benefit concert. The musicians will be “people we know,” he said. As for the hoped-for space, it’s near Avenue A and smaller than their current location. “We feel good about relocating, and it’s close to the rent we have here,” he said. “And it really feels like the East Village over there.” As for the Astor Place / Cooper Square / Third Ave. area, he said, it has lost its soul due to “all these big, glassy buildings springing up.”

Continued from p. 8

awful lot we are being told — smoke and mirrors — but still no hospital. When are we getting our hospital? That “new concept” of care without a hospital is just to mask what we are not getting. It is a slap in the face to the community, a puppet show. “Emergency care” in this case is as much a misnomer as “urgent care.” In a true emergency this medical McMansion won’t help you. Heart attack? Stroke? Nope. You need hospitalization. “New concept”! Fie! We need a hospital. You know, sometimes we need to lie down and get real care, just as much as those who live in that hospital magnet for rich people, the Upper East Side. Rudin’s condos on the St. Vincent’s site are now encouraging neighborhood rents to skyrocket and people are being forced out of their homes. Perhaps when we’re sufficiently rich-ified, ah! — then we will get a brand new, real hospital. Carol F. Yost

Horse hoopla To The Editor: The concern for carriage horses in the city seems to be misplaced, as I hear nothing about the terror and pain of the horses that are being rounded up and slaughtered for food out West, or those sent to Mexico and Canada for slaughtering. Not a word is being spoken about that. Where is the real concern? Ruth Kuzub E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@ or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 515 Canal St., Suite 1C, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.

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MOVIN’ ON OUT: The School of Visual Arts will be leaving the building it has been leasing for a 100-bed residence hall at Third Ave. and E. 10th St. at the end of the spring semester. Javier Vega, S.V.A. director of admissions and student affairs, said the school is building a new 500-bed, 14-story residence at E. 24th St. and First Ave., and that

while the E. 10th St. dorm had a good 10-year run, it’s more cost effective for them not to lease it anymore. S.V.A. houses about one-third of its 3,500 students, including 353 at its new dorm at Delancey and Ludlow Sts. Vega said the L.E.S. dorm is for older students, since “there are a lot more distractions down there.” N.Y.U. spokesperson Philip Lentz said they’re not interested in the E. 10th St. building.


All your favorite St. Patrick’s Day Chocolates 325 W. 14th St. New York, NY 10014 (212) 242-1456 NY State law mandates that funeral trust funds for Medicaid recipients pay for funeral and burial only. The contracts are irrevocable.


March 20, 2014


Steve Cannon at A Gathering of the Tribes in June 2011.

‘The end of the free spirit’; Tribes faces eviction TRIBES, continued from p. 1

ond-floor apartment since 1991 — have to get out by April 15. While the 78-year-old Cannon has been battling to stave off eviction for the past three years, news of the finality of this legal agreement came as a shock to many of his supporters. “It’s the deathknell of a generation. It’s the end of the free spirit of the anarchoartist of the Lower East Side,” charged Bowery Poetry Club founder Bob Holman, who is on the board of Howl! “The era of the poets crashing on couches has been taken over by Airbnb. Tribes is the last holdout for the gallery/performance crash pad,” Holman opined. But though he may have lost his legal fight with Zhang, Cannon says he’s not ready to quit holding out just yet. In a letter last month to supporters, Cannon once again pitched the idea of finding a “benevolent donor” to buy back the four-story row house at 285 E. Third St. and help convert it into an artists’ residence. As the letter notes, Zhang, who purchased the property from Cannon for $950,000, is looking for a buyer — the property is currently listed online at $3.35 million. “It would be a tragedy to lose our space in spite of such ongoing recognition of the services we provide as an arts incubator on the Lower East Side,” reads the Feb. 19 appeal. “We are one of last places left that nurtures young aspiring artists in all disciplines. Please help, or help pass the word.

SAVE TRIBES!” Among Tribes fans, there’s now talk of a Kickstarter campaign to muster funds, or even a last-ditch occupation to “fill the place with bodies” and so pre-empt the marshals from carrying off the blind professor (along with his myriad books and poetry zines). “People should contact Steve, go by his house, the door is always open,” urges Holman. It’s all pretty 11th hour, which is why Cannon concedes he’s been looking for another apartment in the neighborhood where he might continue some scaleddown version of Tribes. “I could keep the Web site and publish a few poetry books a year,” he said. “That’s the backup plan. But, really, my hope is to find a way to stay here,” Cannon added, sunk into his living room couch where he has held court for decades. Zhang declined to comment and referred all questions to her attorney, Steven Gee. “We intend to enforce the litigation,” Gee told The Villager. “I hope he can relocate his organization. He should have been looking for a long period of time. There’s been plenty of notice.” Cannon first purchased the crumbling row house back in 1970 for $35,000, using the royalties from his first novel, “Groove Bang and Jive Around.” In 1989, after his failing eyesight forced him to quit teaching at Medgar Evers College, Cannon TRIBES, continued on p. 12

Free electronics lectronics ecycling! recycling! Events Are 10am to 4pm Rain or Shine March 22nd West 26th Street, Chelsea April 5th 6th Avenue, Greenwich Village Bring your old electronics to recycle, and you could win a MacBook Air! For additional locations and details, visit A Lower East Side Ecology Center program sponsored by

119 W 23rd St • 212.929.3645 • March 20, 2014


‘The end of the free spirit’; Tribes faces eviction TRIBES, continued from p. 11

began informally schooling young poets and writers on the stoop of his building, located just a block away from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and catty-corner to the old Living Theater. That stoop workshop became the genesis for Tribes, which morphed into a literary magazine, art gallery, poetry salon, periodic performance venue and perpetual hangout. Over the years, Tribes has received backing from the New York State Council of the Arts, the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the Andy Warhol Foundation and an abundance of private donors. In 2007, Mayor Bloomberg even issued a proclamation honoring Tribes for its role in hosting the East Village’s annual Charlie Parker Festival. Yet, over the years, Cannon fell into debt trying to sustain Tribes and maintain the crumbling building. (A fire in 1990 had gutted the top floors, and Cannon’s former partner ran off with the insurance money, he claims.) Frustrated with trying to play landlord as a blind man, Cannon sold the building to Zhang in 2004, with an agreement that he be able to continue living there, and holding “non-for-profit” [sic] arts activities in his apartment and the back garden for another 10 years. Cannon concedes it was a bad move to set a time limit on his and Tribes’ occupancy. “I was just looking for a good person to run the building,” he explained. “I thought I would let her take over the building and I would just stay here, that’s all. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

The initial agreement allowed him to remain for five years at a rent of $1,000 per month, with the option to renew for another five years at $2,200 per month. So, even if he didn’t get into a court battle with Zhang, legally he only would have the right to remain in his apartment until August 31, 2014. Cannon says he first realized he was in trouble in early 2011, when he found out that Zhang had listed the building for sale. Later that year, Zhang moved to evict Cannon, alleging that Cannon had never given notice of his intent to renew the second term of his possession agreement, and that Tribes’ late-night gatherings were disturbing other tenants and neighbors. Zhang also charged that Cannon’s use of his apartment for Tribes was illegal, citing a 2006 violation issued by the Department of Building, which claimed Cannon had converted his apartment into an “office and art gallery.” In fact, according to the city’s zoning laws, it’s legal to have a noncommercial arts space in one’s home under the so-called “home occupation” provision, as long that use does not exceed more than 25 percent of the space, or 500 square feet. (Whether the foot traffic or noise generated by Tribes’ at-times boisterous happenings would be permitted under that statute was never determined in court.) Faced with a trial and the possibility of having to pay Zhang’s legal costs if he lost, Cannon was urged by his attorney to settle the case. Initially, Cannon agreed he and Tribes would leave by May 30, 2014. But the date got whittled back to April 15 after Zhang moved to take Cannon back to court for violating the stipulation by allegedly holding more than 12 events over

the year. Zhang and her attorney declined to comment on the specifics of the case. “The pleadings speak for themselves,” Gee told the Villager. Indeed, Gee seemed exasperated by the continued uproar over Cannon’s loss of the space. “He wasn’t supposed to occupy forever,” Gee pointed out. “There was an agreement all along that he would have to move out. Now we’re at the end of the agreement, it’s not fair for Mr. Cannon to say it’s unfair. “If this case had gone to trial, he would have faced a shorter time. I don’t understand why now it’s such a big affair,” Gee added. For his part, Cannon says he regrets not taking the case to trial to present his side of the story. He claims that Zhang’s real motive for getting him out is financial. He says Zhang got into hot water after she subdivided the building’s other three floors and began renting out the rooms to students and tourists. In 2007, she was cited by the Department of Buildings for operating an “illegal hotel.” “She put 33 beds in two small apartments,” charged poet Chavissa Woods, who was living in Cannon’s back room at the time. “There were dozens of people moving in and out at all hours, and then the place got infested with bed bugs. Steve was covered in bites, and the neighbors were complaining,” Wood claimed. Gee declined to comment on any of these allegations. The Buildings Department slapped Zhang with [TK] in fines and issued a vacate order for the subdivided floors, leaving Cannon the only rent payer while

Zhang worked to restore the other apartments to single-family residences. City property records show Zhang now has more than [TK] amount in mortgages on the property. Still, Cannon probably didn’t help his case by allowing young artists to continue staging exuberant performances on both weeknights and weekends, some of which carried on into the wee hours. One neighbor forwarded a video she shot from her back window showing a stripper flogging herself in the backyard while a large audience seated on risers in the backyard hooted and hollered. Earlier this month, Cannon confessed he’d just had a punk rock group playing a show in his living room. “It was funny as all hell,” he quipped. Nevertheless, Cannon’s downstairs neighbor told The Villager he liked having Cannon and Tribes there. “I can’t begrudge a blind guy for wanting to maintain some contact with the community,” said the resident, who asked not to be named. Similarly, the neighbor who sent the newspaper the video said the noise problems had stopped two years ago, and even offered to write a letter in support of Tribes. According to supporters, the real problem is that Tribes’ freewheeling existence now clashes with the now-gentrified norms of the far East Village. “It’s not like he’s been doing anything different than he was doing in 1970,” observed Woods. “It’s that the people and everyone around him has changed. I think Steve has been operating with an antiquated notion of property on the Lower East Side. And yet the whole reason the neighborhood has become so valuable is because of places like Tribes.”

‘Let it be’; Pols urge mayor not to appeal N.Y.U. ruling N.Y.U. PLAN, continued from p. 1

velopment scheme. “We are here to celebrate a victory,” Assemblymember Deborah Glick told the crowd. “But we also want to send a signal to the city that they should cease and desist from any effort to appeal.” Everyone cheered. “All right!” someone shouted. “The city paved over is a death zone,” Glick declared. She promised to keep up the fight. To do otherwise, she said, “would be breaking faith” with previous generations of Village activists who fought off unwanted megaprojects. Added Congressmember Jerry Nadler, taking the bullhorn from Glick, “We’re here to celebrate victory, but we haven’t won yet. It’s very important to this neighborhood to say to this mayor: ‘Let it be — don’t appeal.’ This administration has shown it can step away from a case, from a decision.” A month ago, N.Y.U. suffered a major setback to its vision of packing four new buildings into the two jumbosized blocks. On Feb. 7, State Supreme Court Judge Donna Mills ruled that three of the four open-space strips along the edges of Mercer St. and LaGuardia Place, between Houston and W. Third Sts., are “impliedly” park-


March 20, 2014

land, even though they are under the Department of Transportation’s jurisdiction. Mills agreed with a community lawsuit’s argument that the strips have been used as de facto parks for decades. The ruling has crippled N.Y.U.’s ability to build at least two, if not three, of its planned buildings. For their part, the plaintiffs and politicians say none of the buildings should be allowed to be constructed at this point. “It’s a changed development with the court decision,” Nadler stated. “What remains is a difficult project and should be subject to a new review.” “Yes!” the crowd roared its agreement. “Negotiate a reasonable, contextual development that everyone can be happy with,” the congressmember urged the university. Actress Nixon noted she is “relatively new” to the Village, having moved here a year and a half ago. But she has quickly grown to love, like many local parents, the “Key Park” playground, which is located on the Washington Square North superblock, and which would be destroyed if N.Y.U.’s full plan was carried out. “I am here very much as a mother,” Nixon said. “We are here at the Key Park every week. If we were to lose this playground — there are very few in this neighborhood. We’re so gratified by Judge Mills’s decision. We

urge the city government, Bill de Blasio to stand with us. Listen to Judge Mills. Go back to the drawing board.” However, the university says it can still proceed with the construction of its planned, 1-million-square-foot Zipper Building — which would rise as tall as 300 feet at one point and sit on part of the strip along Mercer St. between Houston and Bleecker Sts., where Coles gym is currently located — since Mills ruled that lone strip is not a park. Attorney Jim Walden, of Gibson Dunn, who represented plaintiffs in the community lawsuit, declared, “We shouldn’t have to go to court to protect parks in our neighborhoods,” as the crowd cheered and clapped in agreement. The plaintiffs in the suit include Glick, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and N.Y.U. Faculty Against the Sexton Plan. The plaintiffs have filed a notice of appeal, and plan to challenge Mills’s ruling on the Coles strip, among other things. N.Y.U. has also filed notice of appeal to overturn the judge’s ruling on the three strips, and — backing up N.Y.U. — so has the city. The deadline to file the actual appeals is not until about eight months from now. N.Y.U. PLAN, continued on p.13

‘Let it be’; Pols urge mayor not to appeal N.Y.U. ruling N.Y.U. PLAN, continued from p. 12

The Mayor’s Office has not replied to requests for comment from The Villager on its apparent intention to appeal Mills’s decision. But a Law Department spokesperson said the city’s disagreement was over the open-space strips, and that this was a project that was approved under the Bloomberg administration. Councilmember Margaret Chin, in whose district the superblocks are located, has issued general, carefully crafted comments about Mills’s decision, being cautious not to say anything about its impact on the full four-building N.Y.U. project. Three years ago, an even larger crowd had rallied at the same spot, around the LaGuardia statue, warning the university to “Keep your hands off the superblock strips!” One notable difference between the rally back then and the one this past Saturday was the absence of Chin this time around. “These strips need to remain as public parkland,” Chin had declared at the December 2010 rally. “There are other places for N.Y.U. to grow.” Walden, meanwhile, praised new City Councilmember Corey Johnson, whose West Village / Chelsea district is adjacent to Chin’s, for boldly proclaiming that N.Y.U. should go back to square one in its development plans. Walden said Johnson has “taken the issue and tackled it to the ground,” even though councilmembers normally don’t oppose a fellow councilmember on an issue in the latter’s district. “N.Y.U. continues to say it wants to be a community partner,” Johnson said. “But these words have not been backed up in action in any way. We have seen enough privatization. Go back to the drawing board.” State Senator Brad Hoylman, who chaired Community Board 2 when it issued its unanimous, “absolute No” resolution on the N.Y.U. superblocks plan, said, “This is public land, bottom line, and we cannot let it go. We are standing up against powerful forces here, not just in the Village, but across the city.” State Senator Daniel Squadron said the Public Trust Doctrine, which Judge Mills cited in her decision, “is something real.” “What it means is, when you have public open space, you can’t short-circuit the people,” he said. Under the doctrine, the state Legislature must vote to “alienate” public parkland before it can be used for a nonpark use. Mark Crispin Miller, a leader of N.Y.U. FASP, said, “This has been an unprecedented town-gown alliance against a real estate development — right? We will not stand by and let them turn this into

an East Coast replica of Abu Dhabi, with steel towers that cut off light and air. We will not stand for that.” N.Y.U. has a campus abroad in that Persian Gulf city which has become synonymous with gleaming, new skyscrapers. Arriving at the end of the press conference, Public Advocate Letitia James declared it “a great day for open space and a great day for communities that want to remain intact.” Asked by The Villager if she would talk with her ally Mayor de Blasio about not appealing Judge Mills’s ruling, she said, “I haven’t had a conversation with him about the status of the litigation yet, but I will.” Then, addressing the crowd, she reiterated, “I know that the mayor has dropped appeals in other matters, and I’m going to ask him to drop this one. But if he says no — we’ll fight on.” Asked by The Villager why she, like all the other councilmembers — except for Charles Barron — voted to approve the N.Y.U. 2031 plan two years ago, James responded, “The circumstances were different. We had a Council speaker back then who ruled with an iron fist. Your support was linked to projects that needed to go forward. I had a district with a lot of needs. I was conflicted. But projects had to move forward.” Asked for comment on Saturday’s rally, Alicia Hurley, N.Y.U. vice president for government affairs and community engagement, issued a statement. “N.Y.U. is committed to improving and protecting the public open spaces on the superblocks before and after any construction takes place,” the statement said, in part. “In fact, N.Y.U.’s plan for the open spaces on the superblocks creates tremendous opportunities to revitalize and open to the public both N.Y.U. privately owned open space and existing public space. … “All existing public uses on the superblocks, including the dog run and playgrounds, will be replaced in kind and enhanced to create opportunities for the entire community to enjoy the benefits of a well-maintained public space. “Specifically, four new playgrounds will be built and opened to the public and offer such amenities as bicycle/ tricycle riding, toddler play areas and older-children play areas. These playgrounds will also offer new public seating, gardens and walking areas on both blocks. …” The statement added, “N.Y.U. is committed to taking extraordinary efforts to protect the LaGuardia Corner Gardens during construction of the Bleecker Building. The construction staging for the Bleecker Building will take place on Bleecker St., NOT on the community garden.”

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March 20, 2014


Hoylman’s ‘L’ of an idea: Get developer to add exit BY ZACH WILLIAMS



March 20, 2014

Extell Development Company plans to construct a seven-story mixed-use building on E. 14th St. at Avenue A.

said in an e-mail. While stations at First and Third Aves. both have only one exit, the former accommodates more than three times more riders, about 7.1 million annually, according to M.T.A. statistics. Subway riders interviewed by The Villager said crowds are denser and space on trains scarcer at the First Ave. station, making it harder to access the one exit as well. “It’s usually hard to get on,” said Maxine Senior, who lives in Midtown. Factors such as mechanical reliability and frequency of service helped the L line earn the distinction as the fifth best out of 19 subway lines ranked in the annual State of the Subways Report, released on March 7 by the Straphangers Campaign. Yet, at the same time, the line struggled with belowaverage rates of open seating and uncollected garbage on platforms. Crowding on the platform varies throughout the day. The morning and early evening rush hours with the L train shuttling people between the East Village and Williamsburg are a frustrating experience for some regular riders. “Oh, my God, yeah, it is,” said Luis Piabrasanta, a construction worker who said he has used the station for the past 25 years.


s one real estate developer seeks to build up, state Senator Brad Hoylman suggests they burrow below as well. Word, however, has yet to reach Hoylman in response to a letter to Extell Development Company suggesting the latter contribute to the construction of a second exit at the First Ave. station on the L subway line. Continued development in the East Village is causing a need for cooperation between government and private interests in updating the 89-year-old station, according to Hoylman. “With only one station entrance/exit at the western end of the platform, there is massive congestion at the stairs during rush hours,” reads the state senator’s Feb. 10 letter. “The lone exit also raises serious concerns about egress in the case of an emergency. It is clear that an eastern entrance at 14th St. and Avenue A will eventually be needed in order to ensure the safety and efficiency of this station.” The letter concludes with the stated hope that the developer will work with the city to ensure that, no matter from where funding derives, straphangers will eventually be able to exit the station via its eastern end. “Such improved station access would be a benefit to your new development’s residents as well as the neighborhood as a whole,” Hoylman wrote. Extell, one of the most prolific developers in New York City, plans to rebuild a significant portion of the block, which it leased in 2012 from Solil Management for $35.1 million, according to a report earlier this year by real estate publication The Real Deal. The resulting structure would be seven stories tall and have a mix of both residential and retail space, states the report. Although the developer has yet to respond to Hoylman’s suggestion to fund the proposed new station exit, changes to the current site are upcoming, according to Anna LaPorte, who works for a public relations firm that represents Extell. “While the plans for the site have not been finalized, demolition is slated for this spring,” she said in an e-mail. “Extell does intend to meet with members of the community in the near future.” Raising awareness of the issue was the primary aim of the letter, said Julia Alschuler, a spokesperson for Hoylman. She added that he will now seek a meeting with the developer as well as discussing other funding options with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Such private funding of a subway exit would be rather “unique,” said M.T.A. spokesperson Kevin Ortiz. Determining costs and the time needed to realize the proposed alteration cannot be done currently, he added. “It’s way too early to speculate on details and the process moving forward,” he

With only one exit at its western end, the 14th St. L station is often massively congested.

From the train station to the stage, grooves keep growing Underground Horns resurface to release third album


UNDERGROUND HORNS CD RELEASE SHOW WITH BROWN RICE FAMILY VIDEO LAUNCH PARTY At Drom 85 Avenue A, at E. Sixth St. Friday, April 4 Doors at 10 p.m.; Show at 11 p.m. $10 for advance tickets, $15 at the door For tickets, visit Visit and



or millenia, the harrowing descent into the underworld — whether it be Egyptian, Greek or Judeo-Christian — has left mythical travelers with some infinitely valuable knowledge or possession, some new sense of truth. And while I certainly wouldn’t claim that the New York City subway turns all its resident performers into Odyssian heroes, there are those musicians whose sound, like a thick, sweeter smelling steam, rises off the platform and up through the grating in what really could be called a most holy offering to the mortal world of man. Underground Horns, a multi-ethnic brass band who draw as much from the Afro-Cuban tradition as they do from that of New Orleans, is one of those groups that got their start — and their name — in front of subway foot traffic at Union Square or Grand Central. Now, along with maintaining that subterranean presence (generally on Friday or Saturday evenings), the group is also releasing their third studio album. When “Almost Blue” comes out on April 4, the band

Underground Horns celebrate the release of “Almost Blue” — April 4, at Drom.

will celebrate with a CD release show at Drom in the East Village — but it was actually recorded in 2012, presenting a seven-piece incarnation of the group that tears through both original material and a couple of perfectly suited covers. The 10-song release is packed with a robustly joyful spirit, which thrives on the typically soulful pairing of a persistent montuno pulse in the rhythm section (tuba, drum kit and djembe) with edgy horns (trumpet, cornet, trombone and sax) that shift between tightly close harmonies and individual flights of improvisation. Fittingly then, Underground Horns open the album by taking jazz bassist Charles Mingus’ 1959 tune “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” — which was composed as a slow, wailing elegy to tenor saxophonist Lester Young, who'd died that year — and deftly pumping it up into a dance-inducing, second line romp. The upbeat take on that much-revisited classic comes off successfully, rather than awkwardly or insensitively, both because of the band’s respect for Mingus’ powerful melodic theme and because the start-to-finish groove laid by tubist Chanell Crichlow and drummer Kevin Raczka provides such deeply solid support for the horn solos. Following that are a couple of nods to the group’s musical lineage, marked most directly by “Creole,” an original by djembist Okai Fleurimont that was written

to celebrate his home country of Haiti. It’s another tune that will get anyone with ears and legs up and moving, while never becoming overly self-indulgent or playful, with Fleurimont also providing vocals that bounce around the polyrhythmic beat and add a passionate spark to the mix. But the album’s top composer is, unsurprisingly, the German-born alto saxophonist Welf Dorr — who, along with contributing five tunes, ties the band together as both its leader and a perpetually vibrant, searching soloist. A good example of Dorr’s open-minded approach is “House Song,” which apparently takes its cues from the lively atmosphere of electronica, while translating those vibes into an acoustic setting that’s nicely propelled by punctuated group horn riffs. Backed by contributions from trumpeter Andrew McGovern, cornetist Patriq Moody and trombonist Kevin Moehringer, the saxophonist ends that tune with some welcome swirls of free improvisation, expanding the sonic range while never leaving the groove behind. Later comes the intense, head nodding rush of “Rag a Tone,” another Dorr original whose emotional chorus features the horns playing in tight harmony over a pounding, rock-influenced tuba bassline. This time, the saxophonist really tells a story with his solo by striding from honks, wails and calculated dissonance all the way back to outlining the triumphant chords of the main theme. And just as it began with a voice from the past, the album closes with another great cover. This time it’s “Mopti,” a tune by pioneering trumpeter Don Cherry, who famously began playing with free jazz icon Ornette Coleman in the late-50s and who wrote the aforementioned number after visiting an African town of that name. Underground Horns are once again able to put their own great spin on the tune, leaving some room for the individual brass voices to step out while holding true to Cherry’s stirring melody. So, whether you want to hit the dance floor or just feast on the aural complexities, there’s going to be something for everyone when the band plays through “Almost Blue” for their release gig at Drom. And there’s even more to get excited about, as fellow funkers Brown Rice Family — another group that knows a few things about how to blend musical traditions — will be joining the show in order to launch their new music video for “Latin Goes Ska,” a remix of the original 1964 tune by the Skatalites. March 20, 2014


The Springtime Adventures of an Underemployed Urban Elf



One less place to get cool stuff: Daniel’s Leather.

Louis Ressy and Nadeem Waheed — of the late Orchard St. institution, Daniel’s Leather.

Weather’s warmer, L.E.S.’s still hot

ity of bohemian extremism, I thought of the 1939 British Ministry of Information phrase (also now a phrase on every annoying magnet on earth): “Keep Calm and Carry On” — or, as my Scottish mother would say, “Haud yer weesht and get oan wae it.” It was time to stop listening to “Love Hurts” on repeat, put on actual pants and get on with it. After all, spring is about renewal. As Bette said, “It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance.” With the sun’s inevitable love, I would soon become a rose. Also, there was college basketball to look forward to and yet another excuse to hang out at Lucky Jack’s (129 Orchard St.). March is actually pretty cool. Ugly snow melts and crap blooms. So get out there, enjoy the madness of March and find reasons to dance in April showers. To help with this mission, I’ve prepared a handy guide to fun, springtime activities (though the simple fact that you can now leave your home in less than five jackets should be considered a fun activity at this point). Also featured in this column: a bit of important neighborhood news, which is where we’ll start.

would emerge from my den of iniquity and chat with “Lou” who stood outside, vending merch — whether there be snow, rain, heat or gloom of night (the local Post Office could take a cue from him). Daniel’s Leather was incorporated in 1995 and has sold jackets to Dog the Bounty Hunter, Ice T, CeeLo Green, countless tourists and residents. It’s leaving the neighborhood simply because “the rent’s too damn high.” Presumably, this paves the way for yet another douchey restaurant I can’t afford to eat in. Meanwhile, if you need a dose of the Lower East Side when it actually had personality, visit their Paterson, New Jersey location at 175 Main St.





s prophesied in my last column, my boyfriend of almost four years dumped me two days before Valentine’s Day. I realize I’m not the easiest person to date — but it’s not like I advertised sanity. (Note: hoping this is a Richard Burton/Liz Taylor temporary thing.)

Adding to the fun of this nightmarish February was the second wave of the Polar “BOREtex” — wherein moving within a foot of one’s radiator or space heater was out of the question. Laundry became unnecessary, as I didn’t change out of my paint-covered pajamas for a full month. And then I got the flu, which left me feeling like Mimi in “La Bohème” (only old, single and possessing the sinuses of David Bowie circa 1976). But as I lay in my sickbed pondering the futil-

130 Orchard St. While spring is all about change, this one kind of kills me. I have lived on Orchard Street for 18 years now (not an invitation to stalk me), and one of the things I love about my block (aside from Jack’s) is the hilarious staff who sells coats at Daniel’s. Every morning I


March 20, 2014


Old Man Hustle, 39 Essex St. Every Wed. at 8pm If it’s not obvious from the first paragraph, I am broken and lonely. So come to my open mic and perform. It’s free, and every performer gets six minutes and a perfect score of 10. Added bonus: Johnny Bizarre (Mr. Lower East Side 2013) now bartends on Wednesday nights. Old Man Hustle, 39 Essex St. Every Sun. at 8pm March madness continues at this funfilled weekly event. Performers Brer Brian, Monster and Jim Melloan host this musical/comedy/poetry free-forREV. JEN, continued on p.17

Wicca Wednesdays, worth the Brooklyn trek REV. JEN, continued from p. 16

I would never denigrate anyone else’s religion (unless you are a member of Westboro Baptist Church) — but it’s time for me to come out of the broom closet: I’m a Witch. Since this is not a treatise on Witchcraft, I will only say it’s a spiritual path that’s helped me a great deal, and I like Wicca because we sing, dance and sometimes make love potions that ruin my life — thus making my art better (though us Wiccans are so cool we don’t proselytize). One of the coolest Witches I know is Courtney Weber, a High Priestess, writer and performer. She is teaching a set of seminars at Catland (987 Flushing Ave.), Brooklyn’s premier metaphysical boutique and event space. They “aim to serve the local community of Occultists, Yogis, Pagans, Mystics, Thelemites, Witches, Chaotes and anyone interested in the enhancement of his or her spiritual self.” While I tried to avoid leaving “Sos-




all. Not to sound too much like I’m writing for Teen Beat (though that’s a goal), but Brer Brian is like my fave rave musician ever. Brer says, “I started Breraoke because I love open mics, singing and drinking, and I wanted to have something where, if I felt like it, I could play as long as I wanted to without being consigned to waiting forever for that ‘make-or-break’ two-song slot. Also, I love people playing together and I wanted to encourage like-minded people to do the same, without worrying about stepping on people’s toes or feeling like a stage ho.” Performers are invited to hang out and do their thing, usually for as long as they wish, in an informal round robin setting. Old Man Hustle is equipped with a keyboard, guitar, lots of weirdoes and beer. Always great fun. Get on down to Old Man Hustle, Sundays at 8, to see Monster (left), Brer Brian and maybe even Paige Danoff.

High Priestess, writer and performer Courtney Weber teaches at Catland, Brooklyn’s premier metaphysical boutique and event space.

ta” (my new term for South of Stanton, North of Canal) for this column, checking out her first seminar proved too tempting. Turns out “The Wiccan Path: Introduction to Wicca” series was educational and fun, like school but better and cheaper (20 bucks a class), and we did two meditations where I totally tranced out (not that I didn’t trance out in school, but this was strangely under the influence of nothing but meditation). Check it out and learn that us Witches aren’t so scary (we’re a lot more like Glinda than you think). Every Wednesday at 7.

rock ‘n’ roll with names that did not speak of badass behavior? When I hear “Maroon 5” my soul just sort of cries and all I can think of is Adam Levine Proactiv ads and yearn for a time when rock stars didn’t care what their skin or hair looked like. Not so with the Slut Junkies, who appear to actually be making rock ‘n’ roll (you might remember “Jurgen” of the Slut Junkies from this summer’s “mini golf experiment”). I recently went to see them at Grand Victory, which necessitated another trip to Brooklyn (245 Grand St.) — but it was worth the trek, as there were three great bands playing and apparently, excellent bands play there often. Nothing will pull you out of a depression quite like live rock ‘n’ roll music.


Guess what’s cool? Having a library

card! Turns out, you don’t need a Kindle or money to buy books if ya’ got one. My BFF, Faceboy, utilized his card to check out a copy of Freud’s “The Interpretation of Dreams.” He then came up with an activity that can be done anywhere and will save you money when you are bored and have no money to be saved: First, have your friends over (or one friend). Second, ask a question and throw out a page number. Third, have your companion turn to that page of Freud’s book. Your question will be answered.


Specifically, that of the “Slut Junkies.” Is it me, or was there a moment when bands began to denigrate the fabric of

REV. JEN, continued on p. 18

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March 19 - April 13

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A GUN PLAY AND OTHER NEW YORK PIECES Written by WALTER CORWIN Directed by DAN KELLEY Thu - Sat, March 13 - 30 Thu-Sat 7pm, Sun 2pm $10/tdf


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7pm Sugg. Donation $5

TNC’s Programs are funded in part by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts

March 20, 2014


Rev. Jen’s guide to getting on with it



Rev. Jen and Faceboy, armed with only a library card, are ready for Game Night.

Badass behavior and great music: The Slut Junkies rock. See for yourself on their YouTube channel.

at St. Anthony’s REV. JEN, continued from p. 17


Sunday, April 6th at Cake Shop (152 Ludlow St.), 8pm. Admission: 69 cents, exact change only Finally, ASS Studios, the most underfunded Motion Picture Studio in history, will unleash its first feature film upon the Universe (available everywhere March 25th from MVD). Di-


March 20, 2014

rected by Courtney Fathom Sell and written by me, it stars Faceboy, Janeane Garofalo, Robert Prichard and many other fine folk. Appropriately, the event is a Halloween-themed costume party. Bands TBA. There will be a screening, expired Halloween candy and other delightful surprises.


Lay off the social media for a second, the addictive Buzzfeed quizzes, the Zimbio quizzes, the crackbook, the iPhone, the Grindr (actually, don’t lay off that one) and everything else that distracts you from the fact that it is now Spring.

EVERY FRIDAY SATURDAY & SUNDAY 10 am till Dusk West Houston Street Between Thompson St. & Macdougal St. (718)332-0026



Under the baton of Music Director Barbara Yahr, the Greenwich Village Orchestra’s March 30 concert concentrates on works by 20th century masters. Originally the slow movement of his string quartet. Barber’s cathartic “Adagio for Strings” will strike a chord with film fans, likely to recognize its use in “Platoon.” Elsewhere in the program, Prokofiev’s “Symphony #5” was, the GVO tells us, a wartime work (1944) intended by the composer to function as “a hymn to free and happy Man, to his mighty powers, his pure and noble spirit.” For these selections, the Orchestra is joined by renowned violinist Hye-Jin Kim (the 2009 Concert Artists Guild Competition winner). Sun., March 30, from 3-5pm. At Washington Irving High School Auditorium (40 Irving Place). Suggested Donation: $15, $10 for students/seniors. Visit or call 212-932-0732.

Tag, he’s it: Stephen “ESPO” Powers’ collection of collaborative urban murals is celebrated, at the Strand’s March 25 book launch.




Even when working as “ESPO” and tagging late 1990s-era NYC with graffiti, the artful mark Stephen Powers was leaving on public spaces seemed to be just as much a product of genuine affection as expansive ego. These days, the indelible impressions he leaves around the world are legal and by invitation. His new book is a collection of collaborative rooftop and wall murals, featuring “visual jingles, often poignant affirmations and confessions” that deliver a message designed with a particular neighborhood’s unique occupants in mind. Those featured communities are as far away as Dublin, Belfast and Johannesburg, and as close to home as Brooklyn and Coney Island. To celebrate the release of “A Love Letter to the City,” Powers is doing more than just showing up at the Strand for a meet and greet. He’s also currently painting a mural on the exterior wall — and several of his small paintings will be displayed around the inside of the store. Tues., March 25, from 7-8pm. At Strand Book Store (828 Broadway, corner of E. 12th St.). Free, with purchase of the book or a gift card. For event info, visit or call 212-473-1452. For info on the book, visit

The Greenwich Village Orchestra’s next concert is March 30, at Washington Irving High School Auditorium.



For all his huffing, puffing and implications of a dangerous nature just waiting to wreak havoc once unleashed, most versions of “Beauty and the Beast” keep their beastly character’s dark impulses at arm’s length — which makes it ripe for an interpretation that replaces the chaste relationship with more skin than what’s on display at your average Downtown burlesque show. Real life husband and wife Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz are perfectly cast in this explicit take on the classic tale of opposites drawn towards each other. Song, dance, puppetry and frankly staged acts of physical intimacy are used to look at disability, sexuality and romantic love. For more info on what makes the two leads tick and click, check out and After that, you’ll understand more about why the March 29 performance is part of “Access All Areas: Live Art and Disability” — a free, daylong event looking at some of the radical approaches to representations of disability being taken by contemporary performance artists, particularly in the UK. March 20–23, 26–30 at 8pm. At Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand St., at Pitt St.). For tickets ($35), call 212-352-3101 or visit Also visit

Julie Atlas Muz, Jonny Dixon, Mat Fraser and Jess Mabel Jones (see “Beauty and the Beast”). March 20, 2014


Stripping down to the basics at Chelsea’s naked yoga HEALTH BY ANN VOTAW


udity is not about sex, according to Monika Werner and Joschi Schwarz, co-owners of Bold & Naked Yoga. The Chelsea business is the nation’s first nude yoga center, which recently expanded its male-only instruction to include women and co-ed classes. “It’s too new to say something,” said Schwarz about the format, which started in January. “It’s hard to answer right now. I think it’s the people we get. They’re very cool.” Schwarz, a spiky-haired blond from Germany, has a background in dance and medicine. He said when he sees a nude student, he examines bone and muscle alignment from a scientific perspective, not a sensual one. But he understands clients may be reluctant to take off their clothes. “I think people have a fear of being judged for not being good enough,” said Werner, also German. “Women compare themselves to supermodels who are airbrushed. This is how we’re supposed to look. Supermodels compare themselves to supermodels until there is no normal standard.

“Men have just as many body issues as women do,” she continued. “ ‘I’m not thin enough. I’m not ripped enough. Does my penis compare to others?’ I’m sure women have the same size issues with breasts.” To create a sense of security, Bold & Naked forbids photography and requires online registration. Observation by others is not permitted. “We want you to commit to a time slot,” Werner said. “You probably noticed that we don’t provide our address until you register. In our online registration, we ask about your yoga experience and what you expect from participating in Bold & Naked classes. Then we send you a confirmation e-mail telling you how to get here.” Schwarz and Werner greet students at the front desk, near two studios and a techinspired waiting area. Co-ed and women’s classes are taught one floor above. Before a Thursday session, Werner unlocked the expansive, top-floor room accentuated with a skylight and chandelier. Discarding Capri pants and tank top, she sat crosslegged in front of a wall installation suggestive of bamboo. She explained that she and Schwarz acquired this loft three years ago, an addition to the downstairs space they have owned for eight years. A former corporate headhunter and marketing event planner, Werner moved to New York in 2000. She and Schwarz also teach clothed classes. Their teacher-cer-


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tification program is recognized by Yoga Alliance, a national credentialing organization. “I want my students to be more connected, to embrace their bodies,” Werner said. “You’re so much more connected when you get dressed after class and go to your interview, your job, into your relationship. Think how much better sex will be when you accept your body. Once you accept your body and feel good about it, what a

difference.” “I want people to know that naked yoga is a liberating experience, that it’s an empowering experience,” she continued. “There’s nothing sexual or creepy about it. I really want to take this as far as it goes. I want to travel with this and bring it outside of New York and beyond. There are other people renting space and teaching nude classes, but we’re the only nude studio. We’re doing something different.”

New app Covers restaurant bills MR. TECH-KNOW BY PASHA FARMANARA


Hey, Mateys!


Monika Werner, left, and Joschi Schwarz, are co-owners of Bold & Naked Yoga.

aying for items with our cell phones is a new revolution that has taken over the app store. One new mobile payment app to hit the app store, Cover, is a big game changer for the restaurant business. Cover allows users to pay for their restaurant tabs with their smartphones instead of cash or a credit card. The app does not replace the cards, because it requires users to enter in their credit card information to pay for their meals. Cover was designed in New York City, and as of now, can only be used at select New York City restaurants. Among the first to use the app was Swine, at 531 Hudson St. “We were one of the early beta restaurants, so it’s been over a year for us. We started way before the public launch,” said public relations director Cris Criswell, “The only issue is teaching new servers about it. But after five minutes they get how it works.”

With Cover, diners can leave a restaurant whenever they please, without having to wait for a check. Cover is beneficial for the restaurants, too. Servers no longer have to spend time bringing the check to and from the table, giving them more time to wait on other tables. The mobile payment movement began with car service app Uber, which allows users to hail a car and then pay for their ride, all by using their smartphones. Deciding to test the app, I downloaded Cover onto my phone, and went to El Toro Blanco, at 257 Sixth Ave., which is now accepting Cover. After the meal was finished and it was time to go, I stood up and left. Walking out without paying a check felt uncomfortable. As Criswell put it, “Everyone feels like they are dining and dashing!” But after using Cover dining at other restaurants that don’t except it, asking for the check felt like using a typewriter or listening to a cassette tape. For now, Cover is only available through the Apple App Store, but will soon be available for all android devices. For a list of area restaurants that currently accept Cover and more information on the app, go to

Chin wants higher fines for harassing senior tenants BY SAM SPOKONY


sserting it will help to protect seniors from wrongful eviction and abuse, City Councilmember Margaret Chin on March 12 introduced legislation that would increase the penalties against landlords caught harassing their tenants. The bill would double the maximum fine for tenant harassment by increasing the penalties from the current range of $1,000 to $5,000 up to $5,000 to $10,000 per dwelling unit. Harassment can include refusal to make necessary repairs or accept rent payment, shutting off services like heat and hot water or threatening force. The legislation would also create a “blacklist” for offending landlords, by requiring the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development to post information about the violations — including the building address and owner’s name — whenever properties are found to breach city laws against tenant harassment. Chin, who chairs the Council’s Committee on Aging, noted that since many seniors are long-term residents of rent-regulated apartments — especially in Chinatown and the Lower East Side — they are frequent targets of landlords who hope to

force them out in order to then sell or lease the units at market rate. “This legislation puts the power back in the hands of the tenants by providing readily available access to records of landlord violations,” said Chin, in a March 12 statement. “With steeper fines and more comprehensive reporting of found violations, unscrupulous landlords will think twice before attempting to illegally drive seniors out of their homes.” Jennifer Vallone, director of Project Home, an eviction prevention program run by the Lower East Side nonprofit University Settlement, said that around 30 percent of her cases involve seniors. “Frivolous lawsuits against seniors, especially those living in rent-stabilized apartments, is something we see on a pretty regular basis,” she said. “A big problem for seniors in Chinatown and the Lower East Side is that many of them are more vulnerable to those actions because of their health or because they don’t speak English well.” Vallone added that she believes stiffer penalties for tenant harassment are a positive step forward, but that she also believes that the city’s Housing Court should be acting faster to enforce those penalties. “If a landlord is not doing what they should be doing, they should be held ac-

countable in a timely fashion, which isn’t usually the case as far as I know,” she said. “It can take years sometimes.” Also on March 12, Chin introduced two Council resolutions that would call on the state Legislature to pass laws aimed at stopping financial exploitation and physical abuse of seniors. One of those resolutions focuses on a bill that has already been introduced in the state Assembly and Senate, which would allow banks to refuse payment from an account when there is reason to believe that the account holder is being exploited through a scam, forgery or identity theft. Along with the fact that modern technology has increased the danger of scams, Chin stressed that cases of financial abuse against seniors can be difficult to investigate, since victims are often unaware of the exploitation, reluctant to come forward or incapable of giving proper consent to those controlling their finances. In addition, 64 percent of reported perpetrators of financial exploitation of a senior are actually family members, spouses or significant others, according to a 2013 study by the New York State Bureau of Adult Services. “Financial institutions have a duty to safeguard seniors’ hard-earned savings, and I urge the state to authorize banks to


fulfill that responsibility,” said Chin. The councilmember’s other new resolution calls on the state Legislature to create and pass legislation that would require certain professionals to report suspected elder abuse — physical, psychological, sexual or financial — to authorities. Those falling under that mandate, according to Chin, should include healthcare and social service workers, law enforcement officials, attorneys and investigators at district attorneysʼ offices and financial professionals. Currently, New York is one of only four states in the nation that do not have such a mandatory reporting law when it comes to suspected elder abuse. And according to a 2011 report by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, 120,000 seniors in New York City had at that time experienced abuse, but only one out of every 25 cases were officially reported. “Mandatory reporting in these fields will shed much-needed light on a silent epidemic facing older adults in our city,” said Chin. “Vigilance and proactivity in healthcare, law enforcement and financial sectors will be invaluable in identifying elder abuse before it’s too late, bringing perpetrators to justice and connecting victims with the support they need to recover and rebuild.”


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Denver’s Rocky Mountain high Former longtime East Village activist John Penley has been in Denver following the legalization of buying marijuana there earlier this year. Fifty-five percent of Colorado voters supported legalizing pot. Washington has also legalized marijuana sales, and four other states are expected to follow soon, including Alaska, California, Florida and Oregon, plus Washington, D.C. Pictured on this page, clockwise from above left, an employee tending cannabis plants in a greenhouse, a Pony Express monument, two women readying to light up, a store — the Green Solution — where pot can be purchased legally and Purple Haze.

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