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

April 3, 2014 • FREE Volume 4 • Number 10

Crack clears out Angel Orensanz Center during gala BY LINCOLN ANDERSON, SAM SPOKONY AND SARAH FERGUSON

CRACK, continued on p. 2

Occupier who says cop grabbed her breast is on trial BY BETSY KIM

I

n a potential blow to the case of Occupy Wall Street protester Cecily McMillan, State Supreme Court Justice Ronald Zweibel last week refused to allow review of the personnel file of Grantley Bovell, the officer involved in her arrest.

PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

T

he Lower East Side’s Angel Orensanz Center was evacuated the night of Mon., March 31, after wooden columns supporting the 19th-century build-

ing’s second-floor balcony gave a loud crack, causing the balcony to sag. The structural problems at the 172 Norfolk St. building — a former synagogue built in 1849 — became apparent during the annual spring gala of the Soho Repertory Theater, and around 500 people

The 25-year-old New School graduate student is charged with felony assault of a police officer and obstruction of governmental administration, stemming from the six-month anniversary of the O.W.S. protests in Zuccotti Park. If convicted in a trial scheduled for April 7, McMillan could face up to OCCUPIER, continued on p. 6

Some recent good weather provided a chance to break out the monster bubbles in Washington Square Park.

Thinking ‘Beyond the Grid’ about disaster preparedness BY SAM SPOKONY

W

e’ve all lived, seen or heard the stories. After Hurricane Sandy struck, many people across Downtown Manhattan and other storm-damaged areas struggled without electricity or Internet service, as government agencies had difficulty reacting quickly to those in need. In many cases, it was volunteer community

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groups that took the lead in providing food or charging stations, or reaching out to homebound seniors or disabled residents, as they recognized the vulnerabilities of the standard power grid and communication networks. “And when those disruptions caused delays for officials like police, firefighters and FEMA, we were the ones who had to take action,” said Paul Garrin, an activist, connectivity

guru and East Village resident. Garrin’s noncommercial WiFi-NY service brought the Internet back to his neighborhood several days before normal connections were restored following Sandy. His member-supported WiFi network, which has grown to serve the Lower East Side, East Village and western Brooklyn since he founded it MICRO-GRID, continued on p. 14

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3/7/14 11:21 AM


THE QUESTION:

Who is the new voice in morning radio that everyone is talking about?

THE ANSWER:

• He’s Funny • He’s Smart East Village punk killed by car • He’s Informative – and a great way to start your day! Lisa “Spike” Julian, right, in Tompkins Square Park, was fatally struck by a car near St. Mark’s Place last week.

East Village punk rocker Lisa “Spike” Julian was killed early on Thurs., March 27, after being hit by an S.U.V. while she was crossing the street near Cooper Square. Julian, 47, was crossing at St. Mark’s Place and Third Ave., around 6:30 a.m., when the Ford Explorer, driven by a newspaper deliveryman who’d just finished his rounds, slammed into her, police said. She was pronounced dead shortly after being taken to Beth Israel Hospital. The driver, Oliver Parris, 58, reportedly stayed at the scene, and told authorities that he had the green light while Julian was passing through the intersection, and

that he’d tried unsuccessfully to swerve away from her. Parris wasn’t charged with any crimes, police said. Julian, who lived at E. Seventh St. and Avenue D, was known to frequent Tompkins Square Park for rock concerts and for hanging out, and was friendly with many within the radical East Village crowd. “She did not deserve to go out this way,” wrote fellow East Villager Chris Flash, publisher of The SHADOW, in a Facebook post honoring Julian hours after her death. “She was definitely wild and over-the-top at times, but she was a good soul, lots of fun and a true L.E.S. character.”

PHOTO BY DANNY SANCHEZ

Crack clears Angel Orensanz Center CRACK, continued from p. 1

MORNINGS: 6-9AM

2

April 3, 2014

were evacuated, with no injuries, authorities said. A Department of Buildings inspection later revealed that vertical cracks had developed in the building’s columns, and the property was slapped with both a violation and a full vacate order, according to city records. The building was the first synagogue constructed on the Lower East Side, and served that purpose many years before being bought in 1986 by Spanish sculptor Angel Orensanz. His brother, Al Orensanz, now manages the building and is reportedly working to assess the situation and how it will affect the center’s future, and what needs to be done to repair the damage. Jenny Dembrow, associate director of the Lower Eastside Girls Club, was at the shindig with her father, Jon Dembrow, the repertory company’s board chairperson and the evening’s honoree. New York magazine’s Intelligencer reported that among the boldface names on hand were Richard Lewis, Bobby Cannavale, Steve Earle and presenters Gretchen Mol and Tim Blake Nelson. It was the theater company’s main fundraising event. “I’m heartbroken,” Jon Dembrow was

quoted saying. “This is very damaging to the organization.” Added Jenny Dembrow, “People had flown in for the event. It’s a total fiasco.” When L.E.S. documentarian Clayton Patterson heard what happened, he panicked. He said he’s known too many buildings on the Lower East Side where there was a rush to demolition after a fixable structural problem. “That’s the Carnegie Hall of Downtown,” he said. “To lose it would be like a death in the neighborhood. I did the Acker Awards there last year, and it was extraordinary. The Lower Eastside Girls Club, HOWL!, who hasn’t used that space? Al’s very community oriented. He’s done lots of things at no charge.” Patterson said it’s well maintained. “They put in new floor beams just a few months ago,” he noted. But before the Orensanzes took it over in 1986, he recalled, “It was a blight on the neighborhood. It was a big abandoned building, with people doing drugs in it.” Patterson said after speaking to Al Orensanz and hearing the updates, however, he felt relieved. “I think it’s under control,” he said.

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PHOTO BY THE SHADOW

JOE PISCOPO!


NEW BOOKSHOP SPOT? Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York reported last week that St. Mark’s Bookshop is looking to move into 136 E. Third St., just west of Avenue A, in the First Houses, which is part of the New York City Housing Authority. “We’ve been sent a proposed lease,” bookstore co-owner Terry McCoy told the blogger, “and we have a lawyer who has gone through it and sent comments to the landlord, who is the city, NYCHA. There’s a long way to go to signing a lease, though.” The bookstore is still working hard to raise funds for the move through an Indiegogo campaign. Landmark Vintage Bicycles, which is now on the corner of Avenue A and E. Third St., used to be in that First Houses storefront space. Asked why they left the NYCHA spot, a manager at the bike shop told us it wasnʼt anything against the housing agency. “We wanted to be on the corner,” he said. CITI GREASE: Citi Bikes definitely don’t move like greased lightning, but they’re sturdy and stable, and super-affordable for an annual membership. The bike’s seatposts, however, weren’t moving for a while there, especially once the weather turned cold, making adjusting the saddle height a hernia-inducing effort. It now appears, in fact, that some sort of “Citi Grease” lubricant has been smeared on many of the seatposts, so that they can be slid more freely up and down to the right height. But the black grease does come off on our fingers, and the seats now sometimes swivel unless you really tighten the clamp. Anyway, we can “roll with it” — but is it too much to ask for a Citi Rag to wipe the Citi Schmutz off our hand? GOOGLE IT? NOT HERE! Google might be thrilled about opening up its first-ever retail store at 131 Greene St., right near the Apple Store, as reports indicate is in the works, but some residents on the block aren’t happy at all. “It’s a very bad idea,” Bo Riccobono told us. “It will bring hordes of people to this quiet street with low-traffic, highend stores. Google should be on Broadway, West Broadway or Lafayette St. on a corner near a subway. Plus,” the C.B. 2 member continued, “I am looking into suspiciously quick Department of Buildings and Department of Transportation approvals at 131 Greene St. without a public hearing or the approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.” SAUCY RETORT: “Rest in pizza,” an article about Little Italy facing extinction, was the New York Post’s page one story Sunday. Eight eateries have closed in the past year in the famous enclave, including seven along Mulberry St.,

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the article reported, including the likes of S.P.Q.R., Positano Ristorante, La Bella Ferrara Cafe, Il Fornaio Ristorante and Giovanna’s. But Robert Ianniello, Jr., owner of Umberto’s Clam House and president of the Little Italy Merchants Association, said the article — in which he was quoted — was disappointing because it was so negative. “We survived the Depression, we survived the Great Recession. We’ll figure it out,” he told us. “It’s another article about the demise of Little Italy — they’ve been writing these for 30 years.” As for S.P.Q.R., he said, at 300 seats, it was simply too big for the area. “To operate that space, you have to fill the place every day,” he said. “Until the recession, there were parties in there.” A real nightmare has been the disruptive Grand St. reconstruction, which mercifully recently ended after two years during which subsurface utilities were moved around in connection with the Third City Water Tunnel project. “Yeah, finally,” Ianniello said. “Still another year of asphalt laying and rebuilding the curbs. It killed everyone. It was like putting gas on a fire. They would turn off the water, turn off the gas.” On top of that, throw in a brutal winter — plus a brutal spring, so far. “We’re hoping for a great April,” he said. They’re also retooling the Little Italy Restoration Association (which, Ianniello noted ironically, was formed back in the 1970s “because they felt Little Italy was dying”) as a local development corporation, to focus on installing new streetlights and sidewalks. “We avoid a BID here because it will give power to the landlords, not the businesses,” he said. “We’ll do it ourselves. … The real estate companies don’t want us here. They want the buildings. They want to put boutiques here. It’s all about greed.” He noted where his restaurant is, at 132 Mulberry St., the ground-floor storefronts, home to five restaurants, were bought as one commercial condo for $17.5 million. “I could buy a whole building across the street for $22 million,” he marveled. The restaurants have started to bounce back, though, but not all the way back yet. “It’s not 2005,” Ianniello said, “but it’s not 2008 or 2009. People are hanging on by a thread.”

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Former squatters fear bar next door will be a riot BY GERARD FLYNN

O

PHOTO BY GERARD FLYNN

f all the places in the world to hear noise complaints about nightlife, the once-anarchic C-Squat deep in the once-dangerous Alphabet City seems the unlikeliest. For decades the squat was an alternative outpost and transient kind of home to homeless punks, hippies — like Texan Jerry The Peddler — and heroin addicts, making all kinds of music — and mayhem. Today, however, said long-term dweller Brett “Pants” Lebowitz, the neighborhood has changed and so have the squatters. At 41 years old, so has he. “You can’t party all the time,” he said. And now he wants others, including rowdy frat boys at night, to follow suit and settle down, including those who use his front door as a latrine on nights out. You can’t spend your entire life in dank basements drinking beer, advised the musician, whose apartment overlooks the scene at Avenue C and Ninth St. In fact, the former squat is now an affordable co-op and the former squatters are now technically known as homesteaders. While Lebowitz understandably has “no objection to loud music,” he does feel there are “too many bars” around him, and news that nightclub Nublu is moving a few doors down only amplifies his anger. Nublu, which is currently located between Fourth and Fifth Sts., plans to move to its new and much larger location in September. Lebowitz said that the squat years ago listened to neighbors’ noise complaints about them and C-Squat cleaned up its act. The place now hosts less than a handful of parties annually, and inebriated patrons of Nublu should be considerate, he said. But Nublu’s clientele might be too young for that kind of fatherly advice. And, according to club owner Illhan Ersahin, a Swedish native with Turkish blood, the bargoers at his place will have a lot of fun times to look forward to when the construction is over. He said he expects a regular crowd of about 200 will fill the new venue, which will be open until 4 a.m. The nightlife operator said concern about noise at the soon-to-open location is news to him, and he looked quite perplexed that a quality-of-life complaint might be emanating from C-Squat. His bar will not be on the lookout for loud students and, in a nod to the pre-gentrifying pioneers, Ersahin eruditely observed that the East Village “has a tradition of cultivating culture...from Jack Kerouac to Talking Heads.” His club, he insisted, is just following that tradition. He said that the prior complaints have come from those

Two men working on the new Nublu space outside the site this week. Someone had written “NO MORE BARS” on the construction fence, which was later altered to read simply “NO MORE.”

who don’t even live close to the existing club and “are the same people that have been complaining about us pretty much since day one.” Nublu opened at 62 Avenue C in 2002, around the same time C-Squat was starting to undergo its conversion to an affordable co-op and market pressures from rising rents were being felt this far into Alphabet City, pushing gentrification eastward. Ersahin said the club has even remained on the good side of Community Board 3, which has “approved everything we have asked for,” he said, “because finally they know what we are doing.” He said he’s telling everyone “not to worry” and that the new place will have sound insulation. But Lebowitz isn’t reassured. Instead, he sees a “megabar, two stories high,” full of drunks, “who at closing time will pour onto our streets to

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fight and piss and make a mess.” Fights outside the 99-cent pizza joint below his window are common. More police response, anemic so far, is needed, he said. Shayne, another longtime C-Squat denizen, where the maintenance charge on units can run $600 per month, has taken a peep inside the project, which has a ceiling that he estimates rises 24 feet from the basement. He said the work has literally “shaken” the block, sending vibrations the likes of which the veteran construction and metal worker has never experienced before. For the more subdued Jerry The Peddler, who has lived there for 13 years, noise isn’t the issue. He’s less troubled by the bars than the “aging frat boys” who frequent them and who he feels somewhat sorry for. The graying 65-year-old, with a brush beard that a family of sparrows could squat in, went AWOL during the Vietnam War and to the stockade not long after. He advises the frat boys to grow up, mature even. In fact, Jerry The Peddler has lived within less than a half-block radius of C-Squat for 30 years, so he’s really seen the neighborhood’s transformation. He, too, cited the pizza place as a nighttime noise issue. Yet, as for mayhem and fights, he said it doesn’t depend on the bars or even the cheap pizzeria. “It’s Avenue C,” he said. “With or without bars, fights are going to happen.”

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POLICE BLOTTER 3 shots, 28 years

Bungled burger burglary Police arrested Robert Johnson, 49, and Thomas Wilson, 28, on March 28 after they allegedly broke into the basement of a Meatpacking District restaurant. Officers in the area first spotted the two men outside Bill’s Bar & Burger, at 22 Ninth Ave., around 6 p.m., as they reportedly cased the scene. Minutes later, Johnson dashed down and snuck in through the basement entrance, while Wilson stayed up top as a lookout, police said. Before the two could flee with any loot, the officers quickly swarmed the establishment and cornered the two men, who couldn’t give any legitimate reasons for their shady actions. Johnson and Wilson were charged with burglary.

PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

The man convicted of shooting at two police officers near a Lower East Side public housing complex in 2012 has been sentenced to 28 years to life in prison, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced March 28. Prior to the sentencing, Luis Martinez, 27, was found guilty on Jan. 31 of two counts of first-degree attempted murder and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Around 1:40 a.m. on Feb. 27, 2012, Martinez — a former Baruch College student who was at that moment selling marijuana — was approached by the two patrolling officers near Baruch Houses, after which he pulled out a 9-millimeter handgun and fired three shots at them, according to court records. Two bullets missed entirely, and one glanced off an extra ammunition magazine on the waist of one of officers, leaving him miraculously unharmed. The officers then sent a barrage of 14 bullets back at Martinez as he turned and tried to flee, striking him in the buttocks and leading to his arrest at the scene. “Thirteen N.Y.P.D. officers were shot

and injured in 2012 alone,” said Vance, in a statement released with the sentencing announcement. “If not for the metal gun magazine and leather pouch that prevented the bullet from piercing Officer Thomas Richards’s abdomen, he might not be alive today. There is no clearer example of how New York’s Finest place their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. I thank the jury for their service and for seeing that justice was done in this case.” Posters are up all over Downtown and in the subways asking for information on Jay Ott. The fashion designer, 31, who lives in the McKibbin Lofts in Bushwick, has been missing more than a week.

Rude awakening Kareem Ousmane, 34, was arrested March 29 after he allegedly attacked a police officer inside the W. 14th St. PATH station. The officer said he noticed Ousmane sleeping on a platform bench inside the station around 2:40 p.m., and simply nudged him to wake him up. After opening his eyes, Ousmane reportedly began furiously swinging at the officer, landing several punches. Even once the handcuffs came

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out, Ousmane kept fighting, forcing the officer to pepper-spray him to subdue him. After the action was over, the officer said he also found the attacker was carrying a small plastic bag of alleged cocaine. However, Ousmane was not charged with a felony for assaulting a police officer, but with misdemeanor attempted assault, resisting arrest and criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Drunk driver Police arrested Jeff Prevot, 31, early on March 27 after he allegedly drove drunk along Sixth Ave. Prevot, driving a 2001 Acura, was pulled over near the intersection with W. 11th St. around 4:30 a.m., moments after officers spotted him switching lanes without signaling. Approaching the car, the officers said they noticed Prevot’s breath smelled of alcohol, his eyes were watery and his speech slurred. They also found he was driving with a suspended license. Although he refused to take a breath test, Prevot was charged with driving while intoxicated — which he has been convicted of before, police said. He was also charged with driving with a suspended license.

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Occupier who says cop grabbed her breast is on trial OCCUPIER, continued from p. 1

PHOTOS BY BETSY KIM

seven years in prison. Hers is the last New York Occupy case to go to trial. Photos following her arrest indicate she was severely bruised, including above her right breast. Speaking on March 17, Attorney Martin Stolar, of the National Lawyers Guild’s New York City chapter, who is representing McMillan, said that Officer Bovell grabbed McMillan’s right breast from behind, and that, in response, McMillan threw up her elbow, hitting his cheekbone. Stolar said McMillan was only reacting to being groped, and never intentionally tried to injure Bovell. She did not even realize it was an officer behind her, thus could not have been trying to prevent him from performing his duties, the attorney said. Other officers joined the arrest, leading to what Stolar described as McMillan’s being knocked to the ground, beaten, then suffering seizure-like conditions, memory loss and post-traumatic stress disorder. “It was total over-policing, the use of brute force,” Stolar said. “And that is really a hallmark of how police reacted with most Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, gatherings and protests.” N.L.G. New York City chapter’s Web site shows a different policeman grabbing another female protester’s breasts.)

Cecily McMillan, center, at a Justice4Cecily fundraiser party in Brooklyn on March 1.

For their part, police say McMillan intentionally elbowed Bovell in the face.

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April 3, 2014

Bovell was internally disciplined in the Bronx ticket-fixing scandal. In another case, a 2011 civil lawsuit by Reginald Wakefield named Bovell as a passenger in an unmarked police car that intentionally drove into Wakefield, who was riding a dirt bike. That case settled, but Bovell was disciplined for failing to report the chase over the police radio. Bovell was also accused of kicking or beating two arrestees. Citing these four incidents, Stolar requested review of Bovell’s Police Department Internal Affairs Bureau personnel files to shed light upon his interaction with McMillan and the truth of the officer’s testimony. On March 19, the judge ruled Bovell’s personnel records were not relevant to McMillan’s case. However, Stolar plans to use these incidents to question the officer’s credibility at trial. On March 1, McMillan’s supporters hosted a party at the Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew in Brooklyn. A poster for the event read, “We won’t be silenced by their violence.” Messages on colorful, paper cutouts of police badges surrounded the sign. “I think, as the healing wall shows, when we asked people to share their police brutality stories, this was not an isolated incident that happened to me alone,” McMillan said. “We decided to have an event as a show of solidarity. This party was a celebration of standing together.” Justice4Cecily, a group supporting McMillan, collected donations for admission, pizza, beer and wine. Stolar is providing pro bono representation, but friends hope to help defray trial costs. Stan Williams, one of the organizers of the party, works with McMillan in union

organizing. For Williams, the evening was less about raising funds than focusing on encouraging the “99 percent” to continue its movement, to get to know one another, support ideas and build a community. Handwritten donation signs asking for $2 or $3 contrasted with media reports that, in 2010, JPMorgan Chase donated $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation. Some people at the party questioned the contribution: Were police at Zuccotti Park acting to protect the people — or rather as Wall Street’s security detail, motivated to shut down and discourage the protests? A JPMorgan Chase spokeswoman declined to comment for this article. Drew Mitchell said the case is about an innocent person, wrongly charged. In the context of the Occupy Wall Street protests, he hopes McMillan’s trial also highlights the First Amendment right of ordinary people to peacefully petition the government, and to assemble without fear of police brutality or criminal charges. Lauren Wilfong hoped the party would bring supporters to the trial. More than 50 people attended the hearing. A Popular Resistance petition bearing 1,944 signatures and an Avaaz petition with 1,106 signatures, as of press time, request that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. dismiss McMillan’s case. Diem Tran, the D.A.’s deputy press secretary, stated they can’t comment outside the courtroom on pending cases. Williams said McMillan turned down the prosecutor’s offer to plead guilty to a felony and receive probation. “A felony for being groped by a police officer?” he said. “No way.”

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Arrest is made in killing of Riis Houses teenager BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

A

man has been arrested in the killing of Deontay Moore, 18, who was fatally shot outside the Jacob Riis Houses last summer. Police reported on Saturday that Allah Dajon, 21, of 577 Roosevelt Drive, in the Baruch Houses, had been arrested and charged with second-degree murder. On Fri., July 20, 2013, at around 10:47 p.m., police responded to a 911 call of a shooting outside 118 Avenue D, in the Riis Houses. Moore was found with a gunshot wound to the head. E.M.S. responded and transported the victim to Bellevue Hospital in critical condition, where he was pronounced dead at 10:45 the next morning. According to the Daily News, two suspects on bicycles had fired several shots from a nearby courtyard, with one bullet hitting Moore in the back of the head. The victim lived around the corner in another building in the Riis complex, at 466 E. 10th St. A man entering 118 Avenue D Sunday evening, bringing home some chicken from the store across the street, only gave

his name, Jake, and age, 18. He said he had been in front of the building hanging out right next to Moore and others when the shooting happened. A scaffolding has since been erected over the walkway. “You see where that third rail is at?” he said, pointing to one of the scaffold’s support poles. “That’s where he was shot. “We didn’t get to see him,” he said of the gunman. “We just heard shots.” He said everyone “panicked,” and he himself immediately darted for the building’s door. “When he went down,” he said of Moore, “he went fully down. I didn’t stand there watching. I heard, ‘No! D! … He got shot!’ “It took a while for the ambulance to come,” he said, adding that police could have arrived sooner, too, considering the precinct is just a block away. “I heard a brawl happened before he got shot,” he added. It had been a warm night, and people were sitting on the benches out front and along the fence leading to the building’s doorway, he recalled. “We were all hanging out, listening to

C.B. 3 raps Beasties co-naming BY LESLEY SUSSMAN

Y

ou gotta fight for your right… .” That’s how LeRoy McCarthy summed up his feelings Tuesday night, when Community Board 3 voted to deny his proposal to co-name the intersection of Rivington and Ludlow Sts. as “Beastie Boys Square.” “There are many people within city government who do support this street renaming and honoring hip-hop and the Beastie Boys,” a disappointed McCarthy said afterward. “ ‘Fight for your rights,’ that’s what the Beastie Boys would say, and I’m going to see if we can do something to change this.” C.B. 3 guidelines say McCarthy must wait five years before reintroducing the measure before the board. So the Brooklyn man said his next step would be to take his idea to the City Council. He added that the close, 19to-13 vote by C.B. 3 indicated strong community support for the co-naming. Since January the board had gone back and forth on the proposal. The Transportation and Public Safety/Environment Committee initially told McCarthy to collect more signatures to show support before they could consider it. David Crane, the committee’s outgoing chairperson, said the band did not meet C.B. 3’s criteria for community involve-

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ment and dedication. McCarthy disagrees. “They’ve done so much for the community in charity work and artistic contributions,” McCarthy told the board. The Beastie Boys were the first big white hip-hop group. The trio wrote many of their raps in an apartment at 59 Chrystie St., and even recorded an early album in a basement on Avenue A. In 1989, the northeast corner of Rivington and Ludlow Sts. was immortalized on the cover of their “Paul’s Boutique” album. However, former board chairperson Dominic Berg said the co-naming for a local music group would “open a Pandora’s box.” “It would open the floodgates for conaming streets after so many important performers who lived in this neighborhood, like Madonna,” Berg said, drawing laughs. “We only have so many streets.” But Ayo Harrington, speaking for McCarthy’s idea, said, “If we were talking about another kind of music we wouldn’t be having this debate. Most of this board’s members are older and don’t relate to it.” Others noted that jazz great Charlie Parker only lived in the East Village four years, yet his residence at 151 Avenue B has been landmarked and the street renamed Charlie Parker Place. C.B. 3 Chairperson Gigi Li said, “We had a very spirited debate. It was a very close vote but we decided to support the application for denial.”

Deontay Moore, 18, was killed outside the Riis Houses on Avenue D last July.

music,” he said. “It was summertime. I was coming from the chicken store, like I am now, so I decided to hang out.” Asked how long he had known Moore, he said, “I know D since middle school. … We all know each other around here,” he said, as a couple of young men entered the building, giving him fist bumps on their way in. According to DNA info, Moore, who had dropped out of Murry Bergtraum High School in 10th grade, was studying to get his G.E.D. Last Sunday night, Franklin Pagan was

coming out of 118 Avenue D after having just paid a visit to his mother, 82. He grew up on E. 14th St. but now lives nearby in Waterside Plaza and works as a bouncer in Jamaica, Queens. Asked if he felt the area was safe, he said, yes, but “it depends what you run into.” When it’s freezing cold, like it was Sunday, it’s not dangerous, he said. But when it gets warm, that’s when trouble and violence can break out. “When it’s warm out, you won’t find me around here,” he said. “I’ll be far away — I’ll be in Coney Island.”

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April 3, 2014

Ban the horse carriages; Keep the Citi Bikes EDITORIAL

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wo topics that have been getting a lot of heated discussion lately are horse carriages and Citi Bike. In a way, they’re related, since they’re both modes of transportation — if horse-drawn carriages in New York in this day and age can be called such — but in a lot of ways, they’re very different issues. During the mayoral campaign, Bill de Blasio pledged one of the first things he would do if elected would be to ban the horse carriages. It’s simply the humane thing to do, he said. True to his word, he’s moving ahead with a plan to end the horse carriages that ply Central Park and the Theater District — mainly ferrying around tourists — and replace them with electric vintage cars. Ideally, many, hopefully all of the 300 carriage horse drivers would get jobs driving the cars. It’s the right thing to do. Yes, there has been no shortage lately in the daily newspapers of paeans to the unique, wonderful relationship between humans and horses that has existed ever since the latter were domesticated thousands of years ago on the steppes of what is now Ukraine, no less, or about how the horse helped build the modern city and so on. But society evolves, the world moves forward. There’s no reason these majestic creatures must continue to be beasts of burden — much

less on New York City’s mean streets. The “nose-to-tailpipe” argument is very valid: Horses walk with their heads down, right at the level of car exhaust pipes. They are easily spooked by noises and sudden movements, and so wear blinders. Some say that it would be O.K. if the equines are merely limited to Central Park and kept off the main city grid. Well, what about Smoothie, a 12-year-old mare who was startled by loud drumming in Central Park, then bolted, got her harness stuck between two poles, and died as she struggled to keep running? Yes, it’s nice to think about what horses mean to us, and how quaint their clip-clop on the hard asphalt is. But what about the horses? They’re out there in all weather, in blistering heat or bitter cold. One look at them in their queue on Central Park South shows they’re miserable; they look dejected, listless, exhausted. New York has more tourist attractions than anyplace, Central Park itself being one of the biggest. We don’t need the horse carriages. More important, it’s simply abusive to these poor creatures. And, hey, a lot of us have animals we can commune with already, namely, dogs and cats. We agree with de Blasio, PETA and — despite conflicting polls — many city residents. It’s time to ban horse-drawn carriages in New York City. As for Citi Bike, the tabloids, again, seem

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Lies and distortions To The Editor: Regarding your March 20 talking point, “After director’s firing, WBAI sale is now rumored,” by Paul DeRienzo: DeRienzo is no disinterested observer of this issue; he is a former WBAI employee and board member. I find it amazing that almost five years after my summary removal as WBAI’s program director, supporters of the faction responsible for my dismissal are still spreading lies and distortions about my tenure. DeRienzo attributes to me a quote purporting to support the sale of WBAI, deceptively implying that he interviewed me. Actually, the quote was lifted from a 2006 article in Black Star News, whose previous sentence read, “‘Many of them wanted to sell the radio station, so they [could] make some money,’ says White, who survived,

and is now the Program Director, referring to the Board members.” As I told the editor at the time, the (original) writer failed to clarify that the “quote” from me that followed characterized those board members’ position — not my own. Furthermore, to accuse me of wanting to sell WBAI flies in the face of all available empirical data: First, I was one of two people fired in December 2000 for opposing the faction on the board of the parent Pacifica Network that was interested in selling WBAI. Many unpaid producers were arbitrarily stripped of their programs and banned. Second, I was an intricate part of the 13-month-long Pacifica Campaign, which successfully fought those who were moving to sell WBAI. Third, I spent more time on air raising money for WBAI than any individual during my employment as program director. Finally, I raised more money

delighted that the new bike-sharing system is struggling financially. Let’s face it, it was a brutal winter and early spring, and that hasn’t helped daily ridership, which is how Citi Bike makes money, as opposed to the super-affordable annual memberships, which are only around $100, though there are murmurings that rates may rise. De Blasio announced he won’t “bail out” the privately financed Citi Bike with government funding, which was music to the ears of many of the “haters.” We’re not so sure that’s the right approach, however. Bike-share is now an integral part of the city’s transportation infrastructure. It’s nonpolluting, and we’re sure it’s far less expensive to operate than the M.T.A. subway or bus system. In other words, bikeshare is a bargain, and a healthy transportation option, for the city. To use the “P” word, it’s progressive, forward-thinking. Yes, at 45 pounds, the blue bikes are heavy, but they’re stable and slow, plus have excellent brakes — meaning they’re safer and less likely to be involved in accidents. Now that the warm weather is finally here, Citi Bike ridership will ratchet back up, and the program will have its first full summer of operation. Instead of rooting for this program’s demise, we’re hoping it becomes even more firmly established — and accepted — as part of the city’s transportation system. And, yes, we do support using public funding, if needed, to keep it running.

than any individual in the history of the institution in an effort to keep it alive. I actively fought against the sale of WBAI in the past, and although it is a poor shadow of its former self, I don’t support a sale, lease or signal swap, nor do my colleagues in the local board minority. Instead, on the 15th anniversary of the death of my friend and predecessor, Samori Marksman, I call on the listenership to help rebuild WBAI into something deserving of those who have given so much by writing to us at savewbai@gmail.com. I don’t usually respond to the fabricators who seek to promote themselves by pretending to present objective appraisals of what has happened to WBAI. However, this was a lie of such enormous proportion and it comes when the fate of the station is being decided, that I felt compelled to speak. The faction DeRienzo supports has been fully in charge of WBAI and Pacifica for the last five years. They are

responsible for the destruction of Pacifica’s finances and programming, setting the stage for those who would present the sale of WBAI as an easy way of saving the network. I am proud of my accomplishments at WBAI. Some of my colleagues and I were able to create a dynamic, community-focused media outlet that was well respected by listeners, activists and journalists around the world. We were able to achieve this in spite of the racism and duplicity that we faced on a daily basis. If you want to know what’s wrong with WBAI, ask people who listened six years ago what they think about the station today. Bernard White White is a current WBAI local board member, and was WBAI program director, 1999-2000, 2002-2009, and WBAI “Wakeup Call” co-host, 19922000, 2002-2005 LETTERS, continued on p. 10

EastVillagerNews.com


E-mail banter is great assist to the beautiful game NOTEBOOK BY MICHELE HERMAN

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EastVillagerNews.com

PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

wo years ago in these pages I published a story about my long-standing fandom/eavesdropping/spying on the entertaining e-mails of a group of guys who have been playing pickup soccer in East River Park for so long that when the group started there was no e-mail. My appreciation has little to do with soccer; I’m embarrassed to admit, I barely know the rules. But I have a soccer-loving husband who shares my home e-mail address, which has been on their routing list for more than a decade through a soccerplaying, former, next-door neighbor of ours. I never let on that I was writing about them — New York being a small world and The Villager being a widely read paper, I figured they would get wind of it on their own. Also, I was a little nervous about the fact that I was using their first names and quoting liberally from their e-mails. How would Blagoy, for instance, take it when he saw my citations from the game report of Oct. 30, 2011, the day of the freak slush storm: “Blagoy, in a moment of hypothermic madness, took off his shirt and had to be counseled by the remaining sane ones to put on something”? Two years went by, and they never found out. Then, recently, my husband asked if I would send them an invitation to a nutty soccer-related performance piece he was involved in at work, and I decided it was time to come clean. I sent the invitation followed by a link to my piece, with this note: “In case you’re wondering who the heck I am… .” Then I waited nervously. I needn’t have worried. The guys were delighted to have a moment in the sun, even if the moment was two years old. Eddie, the de facto leader and scribe, sent this around: “Omg! A woman in our midst!! What do we do?!?!?! Kenny — no more inappropriate posts and poses please!” And then this: “Just wanted to let you know that your coming out to us was definitely the event of the year (ok so we don’t get out much aside from soccer…).” Then Maurice ribbed Eddie and said he wished that I had supported the guys’ various charity athletic events over the years: “if you would have, I am sure the whole team would have come out full Monty if required.” Esteban added: “I am sure this was in the NSA leaks. I knew we should have read it all.” And so on. Once the teasing died down, I received a steady stream of moving thank you’s: “Thanks so much for outing yourself and for keeping silent for so long!” wrote one player. “I’ve been part of the game on and off for over 10 years and you’ve beautifully captured the essence of the friend-

ships and matches that occur within the group.” “I feel very lucky to be able to play with this guys pretty much every saturday,” wrote another. “Its one of my favorite things of the week.” Said another one of the weekend warriors, “Over the years I’ve come to enjoy the friendly email-banter almost as much as the beautiful game itself, it’s fun to read how you feel the same way without even playing… .” Yet another wrote, “Most of you don’t know me as I was a regular with the group till 2001 when I left the city and now only play once or twice a year when I am back visiting. Just like Michele, I too, twelve years later still open every single e-mail as if something important will be missed if I don’t. I guess it is ‘being part of the group’ that will be missed. Keep it up guys!” In solidarity with my own sex, here is my favorite, from the wife of one of the guys: “I felt that I just had to respond, since he dragged me over to the computer to read your article. I’ve known a number of the guys for years and what you wrote made me laugh OUT LOUD!!” One of the guys is going to interview me for his soccer blog. Meanwhile, they invited my husband and me to brunch. We met seven of them after the game at Grape and Grain, a warm, welcoming little place in Alphabet City where they are semiregulars. We shook hands and introduced ourselves by our first names. (My brain automatically filled in the long-familiar last names.) These guys, as I already knew, are not your run-of-the-mill jocks. I learned about Guillermo’s cutting-edge brain research, and the efforts of Stephen from Ireland to introduce a Japanese liquor called shochu (distilled from sweet potatoes, rice, barley and soba) to the U.S., and Blagoy’s triumph as a child actor in the Bulgarian theater. Soccer — what a great game.

The intriguing-looking bike had been spotted chained to a lamppost outside Arturo’s restaurant on Houston St. at Thompson St. Finally, later on, the cyclist was spotted in action, on Bleecker St., above. How he stops, though, is another mystery altogether.

SCENE

IRA BLUTREICH

Some New Yorkers love Citi Bike!

April 3, 2014

9


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Continued from p. 8

WBAI mail mess To The Editor: Re “After director’s firing, WBAI sale is now rumored” (talking point, by Paul DeRienzo, March 20): This is totally not in any relation to the weighty matters you are discussing, but something is very wrong at WBAI on the business side. I was surprised a few

days ago to receive two identical letters of acknowledgment of a donation of $10 I made in 2013. Both had a corrected street address but in two different hands. Both carried full postage, 48 cents. I don’t usually get such letters for my piddly donations, and considered this a waste of money. I wrote to the office manager. Yesterday I received two more such identical letters, stamped 48 cents. That makes four. What is going on there? This

year I gave them $15. Are they spending it on postage? The first two were an error that should not have happened, but two more looks like malfeasance. Zulema Seligsohn

Where’s the respect? To The Editor: Re “Lower East Side: A livable neighborhood in progress” (Progress Report article, by Diem Boyd, March 6): I agree that obnoxious, noisy businesses need to control the noise, but the cabaret law should be eradicated once and for all. That said, as someone who lives across the street from the DL, they should be shut down for their blatant disrespect for the community. Reverend Jen

Try party fundraisers To The Editor: Re “After director’s firing, WBAI sale is now rumored” (talking point, by Paul DeRienzo, March 20): WBAI should look at the operation of all-volunteer WFMU, which holds a huge record party fundraiser every year,

which is really like a party. Listeners aren’t turned off by being subjected to constant pitches for money and there are no factional infighting or other agendas. FMU staffers and D.J.’s are on the same page: bringing the listening public good radio. I would hate to think that WBAI has been infiltrated with COINTELPRO’ers. But while those methods are at play here, it is more likely the classic situation in which an opposing group would rather fight another group rather than plug the hole in a sinking ship. From my experience, fighting the other group is what an opposing group exists for — not to save the ship, but to let it sink so that the other side can’t have it or use it. Once they’ve accomplished their goal, they simply move on, usually looking to find another organization to join and dismantle from within. We have more on this in the current issue of The SHADOW. Chris Flash E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212229-2790 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 reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.

PHOTO BY BOB KRASNER

Villager lensman goes to the dogs Mascot Studio, a combination gallery and custom framing shop, at 328 E. Ninth St., that has been operated by owner Peter McCaffrey since 1982, is once again celebrating “the spirit of the dog” in its 15th annual exhibition of canine-oriented painting, illustration and photography. The Villager’s own award-winning photographer Bob Krasner is participating for the first time alongside local and national artists Katherine Streeter, Marcellus Hall, Anthony Freda, Scott Neary, Pamela Crimmins, Charlie Welch, Paul Moreno, Jill Pratzon, Karen Ruelle, Richard Sandler and others, including McCaffrey. The show has been extended through Tues., April 15. There will be a book signing on Sun., March 30, by the artist Kelynn Z. Alder, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, contact Peter McCaffrey at 212-228-9090 or info@mascotstudio.com.

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April 3, 2014

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PHOTO BY CLAYTON PATTERSON

Will cousins’ El Sombrero don a different hat? Lower East Side mainstay El Sombrero restaurant, at Stanton and Ludlow Sts., recently looked closed down. But it turns out that the cousins of the previous owners have taken it over. Whether they keep the same name and cuisine for the place wasn’t immediately known. “It was Dominicans cooking Mexican food,” said the photographer, Clayton Patterson. “We’ll have to see.” Above, the place’s chairs and tables were put on the sidewalk the other night as they gave the place a cleaning, and were then put back inside.

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Thinking ‘Beyond the Grid’ on disaster preparedness MICRO-GRID, continued from p. 1

in 2003, was a step ahead of highly staffed and better-funded government agencies simply because it was able to function independently after the grid went down. Following that principle, Garrin and some expert collaborators are now seeking funding for a plan that would strengthen disaster resiliency by creating a community-based energy and communications network, allowing residents to keep their homes powered and maintain access to vital resources in the aftermath of another storm like Sandy. The concept would initially be focused within the Lower East Side and Chinatown neighborhoods, potentially serving around 20,000 residents and hundreds of local businesses, Garrin explained. But he believes a successful start could lead to the practices being duplicated across the city. “Beyond the Grid,” as the proposal is known, would serve energy needs through the installation of large alternative-power sources — solar panels, microturbines, diesel or hybrid generators — at a handful of buildings within the target communities. Those power primary hubs would then be linked to other residences and businesses throughout the area, creating a “micro-grid,” fully independent from the standard Con Edison grid, that could be activated if a disaster were to shut down Con Ed’s power. That emergency power wouldn’t be enough for relative luxuries like cranking up an air conditioner or taking a hot shower. But it could give the networked buildings three or four hours of energy each day, according to Alexander Nadolishny, principal technology expert at the Louis Berger Group, an engineering design firm that is one of the partners in Garrin’s effort. Besides residential use, the energy would also play an important role for supermarkets and smaller food stores that require large-scale refrigeration in order to prevent products from spoiling. “The lesson everyone learned from Sandy is that getting a portable generator for those purposes doesn’t do you any good once you run out of fuel,” said Nadolishny. “That’s why these sources need to be preinstalled and linked up in advance.” And his group has, to some degree, already proved the superior efficiency of those alternative generators they hope to install. In the days after the 2012 hurricane, Nadolishny’s outfit brought one of their hybrid generators to an Occupy Sandy command center in the Rockaways, close to where FEMA was powering its own emergency medical center with a traditional fuel generator. Although their load was basically the same — running around 20 kilowatts of power — the FEMA generator required $200 worth of fuel per day, while the Louis Berger Group’s hybrid source only needed four gallons of diesel (around $16 worth)

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April 3, 2014

An illustration showing key aspects of the Beyond the Grid plan: alternative power systems, independently operating telecommunications networks and community hubs.

for two weeks of use, according to Nadolishny. That kind of efficiency could provide financial benefits to the Beyond the Grid hub buildings, even during nonemergency situations, while also keeping costs down if the micro-grid were activated for extended periods of time. The engineer also touted the micro-grid plan for its ability to empower residents and shop owners, and strengthen community ties. “During Sandy, there were problems implementing the government response plans partially because they were coming all the way from the top, and local residents didn’t feel any ownership of those strategies,” said Nadolishny. “Beyond the Grid would be important because it’s not coming through government decree, and it’s not coming from some rich investor. It’s done as a community initiative, through a mechanism by which everyone can contribute and then benefit.” The communications element of Beyond the Grid proposal would then expand on Garrin’s WiFi-NY broadband technology in order to similarly connect the target neighborhoods via Internet. Currently, WiFi-NY service is broadcast through a single transmission tower atop the East Village’s Christodora House, at the

corner of E. Ninth St. and Avenue B. To create a stronger and more complete L.E.S./ Chinatown network that would serve both residents and businesses, Garrin hopes to build at least two more of those elevated transmission towers — one near the foot of the Manhattan Bridge, by the corner of Rutgers and Cherry Sts., and another on top of the Confucius Plaza housing complex, along Bowery just below Canal St. As with the energy micro-grid, that resulting local network would be able to operate independently of commercial Internet service, if those providers were to be knocked out after a storm. Residents and businesses could then simply tap into the service via their computers or smartphones, in order to communicate or get important updates from emergency personnel. Cell phones and computers would be recharged and powered through the micro-grid. “The key here is that our plan would effectively build a backbone over the air, rather than relying on the landlines [used by commercial Internet providers],” said Garrin. Under the Beyond the Grid proposal, those Internet connections would also get their own layer of resiliency, since the transmission towers would be powered by

independent solar, wind or hybrid power sources. A third element of the proposal would also incorporate aspects of an already-existing project — namely, an ongoing L.E.S. collaboration between the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, a community advocacy group, and Urbane Development, a group focused on bringing innovative strategies to underserved communities. Since a vital Pathmark supermarket on Cherry St. closed in 2012, Two Bridges and Urbane have worked together to develop a neighborhood food guide for area residents — especially seniors with limited mobility — who needed to find alternative sources of fresh, affordable food. That NeighborFood guide, which was distributed to residents last December, lists around 80 such sources — including both large grocers and smaller shops for things like meat or fish — and was created based on visits to each of those locations, as well as conversations with their owners. Bringing both Two Bridges and Urbane in as partners in the Beyond the Grid plan, Garrin now hopes to utilize those connections to further increase the neighborhoodbased power of his proposed WiFi emergency network. Along with receiving upgrades for structural resiliency, some NeighborFood locations would receive digital kiosks, linked into the network, that could be used during a disaster to display or send emergency information. That additional connectivity would also allow those stores — aided by their important food stocks — to serve as safe, community meeting places during another storm like Sandy. And at all other times besides emergencies, those kiosks could also be used to promote local programs and even share recipes based on what’s offered in certain stores, said Lisandra Lamboy, of Urbane. Now, with his concept fully formed, Garrin is focused on securing some sizable funding in order to get it underway. Along with previously applying for money through the state’s post-Sandy New York Rising program, he recently submitted an application for nearly $7 million in seed funding through the RISE NYC competition, which is being run by the city’s Economic Development Corporation. RISE NYC is focused on small business resiliency with regard to preparing for future storms. So, the WiFi-NY founder said that winning an E.D.C. grant of that size would at least allow his team to install the proposed energy and communications networks for businesses within the target L.E.S. and Chinatown communities. He hopes that will allow him to display the feasibility and effectiveness of the plan, possibly aiding his attempts at receiving that additional New York Rising funding, which could be used to begin work on the residential component of Beyond the Grid. “First, we’ll have to prove it,” said Garrin. “We know it all can work. Now it’s just about doing what it takes to get it done.”

EastVillagerNews.com


Band expands horizons, and lung capacity Senior musicians in tune, on the same page BY MICHAEL LYDON

O

EastVillagerNews.com

PHOTO BY MICHAEL LYDON

n a grey and snowy Tuesday morning in the East Village, a trickle of seniors citizens, bundled up in puffy winter coats, hats pulled over their ears, scarves wrapped around their necks and instrument cases large and small in their gloved hands, made their way to the Third Street Music School (actually on 11th Street, near Second Avenue), stomped the slush off their boots on the door mat then made two left turns into the school’s brightly lit auditorium. Waving hello to friends already there, they doffed their wooly outerwear, sat down in the forest of music stands and got out their instruments, joking and gossiping as they inserted their mouthpieces and blew a few trial bleats and blaats. Then Brandon Tesh, the neat and youthful musical director, tapped gently but firmly on his stand with his baton. “Good morning, everyone!” said Tesh. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, so let’s warm up your breath first. We’ll breathe in for four beats, hold for four beats, then out for four beats. Ready? Let’s open up our lungs!” Tesh’s manner was informal and friendly, and with his jet-black hair he could have been the grandson of many of his players — but all the seniors instantly knew that chat time was over and work time had begun. This wintry Tuesday was a gathering of Third Street’s New Horizons Band — a program founded in 1991 at Rochester’s Eastman School of Music to bring seniors, who had played an instrument as kids, back to music. Local New Horizons groups, like Third Street’s, create their own program to suit their neighborhood and needs. Some are for seniors only, some are for adults of all ages — but all can get band arrangements both simple and sophisticated, as well as guidance

Brandon Tesh, standing, directs the New Horizons band.

and a sense of community, from the New Horizons International Music Association: newhorizonsmusic.org. “Many adults have had music teachers who told them, ‘Move your lips in chorus, but don’t make a sound,’ ” declares a New Horizons mission statement, “but we believe every person has musical potential that can become personally rewarding. New Horizons programs are for adults who haven’t played for years, even for those who have no musical experience.” Third Street offers interested seniors three New Horizons bands: a Beginner’s Group that meets Tuesday evenings at the School, an Advanced Beginner’s Group that meets Monday and Wednesday mornings at Hamilton-Madison House (50 Madison Avenue) and the Advanced Big Band that meets Tuesday and Thursday mornings. At every level, band mem-

‘I had to retire as a firefighter becaue of lung damage, but my wife said this could be good for me, and you know what? My lung scans keep getting better. All the breathing helps.’ tenor sax player Neal King

bership gives seniors challenging mental activity, the mission statement goes on, a group of like-minded friends and a way to experience and express “serious thoughts and joyful moments.” One New Horizons member put the benefits in practical terms: “Being old, retired and

widowed, I joined the band to have something to do. Now I don’t know what I’d do without it.” “Okay,” said Tesh after the seniors had huffed and puffed through the breathing BAND, continued on p. 16

April 3, 2014

15


Music keeps them young BAND, continued from p. 15

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April 3, 2014

PHOTO BY MICHAEL LYDON

exercises, “Now let’s see if we are in tune. Everybody play a nice strong A. One, two, three, go!” A mighty but muddy boom of sound arose from the nine flutes, three saxophones, three clarinets, three trumpets, two trombones, two tubas, two bassoons and one French horn. Tesh winced. “We can do better than that. Big breath this time, and make that tone good and strong. Go!” This time the huge boom had a crisp and satisfying clarity, and Tesh grinned widely. “That’s more like it!” For the next fifteen minutes, as the orchestra played long legato tones, short staccato tones, high tones and low tones, Tesh keeping up a flow of helpful suggestions: “Sit up straighter…bigger breath…keep your tone strong all the way to the end.” He focused first on each instrumental section, asking the others to sit silent, then he brought the whole orchestra back together to play a monster chord, the tubas plunging to the depths, the bassoons and trombones rumbling just above them, then the saxes, clarinets, flutes and trumpets climbing in ascending order to the very top of their ranges. The walls of the auditorium vibrated with the band’s tuneful roar. “Yeah!” said Tesh. “Now we’re ready to play some music! Please open your books to Chorale #5.” From shoulder bags slumped on the floor beside them, the players — half-and-half men and women, and every color of the American rainbow — pulled out their bold red and white Third Street folders and arranged their sheet music on their stands. The first run-through of the chorale ended weakly. “Oh, listen to that,” Tesh cried with mock annoyance. “You must give your closing notes full value, even when we slow down for the last few measures. Look, let’s sing the ending.” He counted off, and the players hummed the notes they had been playing. “Lovely,” said Tesh, “now let’s play it from the top.” This time, as if by magic, the harmony of the ensemble had become sweet and clear. First the saxes carried the melody, the flutes flying above, then the trumpets took over — and through their darting counterpoint came the bell-like tinkle of percussionist Linda Brown’s glockenspiel. “Here comes the crescendo!” called Tesh, and his orchestra responded with a sudden blaring push. “No, no,” said Tesh, waving his baton until the players stopped. “We’ve got to reach the climax little by little, poco a poco, as it says on your scores.”

Alan Yashin in the background, with tenor sax player Neal King flanked by Judy Bosco (in scarf) and Betty Rounds.

“Easy for you to say,” the French horn player muttered to the trombonist beside him. The players sitting nearby chuckled. Tesh wisely acted as if he hadn’t heard, but announced it was time to take five, and the players got up, stretched, sipped from their water bottles and chatted with this visiting reporter. “Oh, I love being in this band,” said tenor sax player Neal King, as he adjusted his horn’s reed. “Joined five years ago, had never played an instrument in my life, and would have bet I’d never learn to read music, but here I am! I had to retire as a firefighter because of lung damage, but my wife said this could be good for me, and you know what? My lung scans keep getting better. All the breathing helps.” “I played clarinet in high school,” said bass clarinetist Judy Bosco, “but until I heard about the New Horizons

band, I hadn’t played for years. What I love is: we’re all trying to improve, but there’s no pressure. It’s music for the fun of it.” Pam Pier, who owns the Dinosaur Hill toyshop on East Ninth agreed. “My flute had been in the closet for decades,” she said, “but when someone told me about a senior band that met only two blocks away, I said, ‘That’s for me!’ Like the toy shop, music keeps me young.” Tesh tapped his stand again; time to get back to work. All the warm up exercises now paid off, and the band romped through a half dozen tunes, including the lyrical “Air for Band,” a stomping blues, “Basin Street Barbeque” and the mellow “Samba for Flutes.” The samba had some tricky Brazilian syncopations, but backed up by Linda Brown’s steady beat on snare drum and cymbal, the ensemble kept up a sexy, swaying groove, the flutes leading the way through the playful melody, the two tubas poot-pooting down in the sub-basement. When the bells of St. Mark’s church rang noon, it was time to stop for the day. “That was a good session, everybody,” said Tesh, then asked for comments and questions. “What do we do if we screw up in a concert like we do when we practice?” someone called out. “Oh, don’t worry about it,” replied Tesh with a grin, “audiences are always kind.” “You know, Brandon, you’re always telling us to count out the tempo,” said one trombonist, “but really we keep on time by watching your body language.” “That’s fine,” said Tesh, then asking a question he’d asked many times before: “What’s the most important thing about tempo?” “Don’t slow down!” the orchestra answered in unison. “And who’s responsible for keeping a steady tempo?” “Everybody!” said everybody. Billy Lyles, a gray-haired flutist, raised his hand. “Yes, Billy?” said Tesh. “Even more important than tempo,” said Billy, “is for us to say a big ‘Thank you’ for all you’ve given us.” The whole orchestra clapped and cheered. Tesh blushed, and the orchestra, chuckling, began putting their instruments back into their cases, pulling their scarves and hats out of their coat sleeves, then headed back out into the cold. For more information, visit thirdstreetmusicschool.org, call 212-777-3240 or stop by 235 East 11th Street and pick up a brochure.

EastVillagerNews.com


Cross-Culturalism at the core of Meridian 23’s sounds and tastes New venue reflects the many interests of its multi-ethnic founders BY SAM SPOKONY

Theater for the New City • 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net

WORSHIP

The World Premiere of a New Play written by EDUARDO MACHADO Directed by MICHAEL DOMITROVICH Set Design by Mark Marcante Lighting Design by Alexander Bartenieff Sound Design by Elizabeth Rhodes Costume Design by Michael Bevins

Featuring: Crystal Field*, Quinlan Corbett*, Lori Fischer*, Sharon Ullrick*, Hugh Sinclair*, Heather Velazquez & Tatyana Yassukovich* *Appears Courtesy Actors’ Equity Association

Performances March 27 - April 13

Thursday - Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 3pm All Seats $15/Students & Seniors $10/tdf

PHOTO BY HEDWIG MARIA

Y

ou won’t need a plane ticket to experience sounds and tastes from across the globe, as a uniquely cross-cultural nightclub and live music venue will soon open its doors in Chelsea. Meridian 23, located at 161 West 23rd St. (btw. Sixth and Seventh Aves.), aims to bring a genre-blending mix of world music and DJ/ electronica vibes to the neighborhood, while drawing on years of planning by its multiethnic co-founders. Collaborating ever since they became friends while attending the United Nations International School on East 25th Street, club owner Ferdinand Galvis (whose roots come from Colombia, Germany and East Africa) and creative director Stefan Andemicael (who’s half Eritrean and half Austrian) explained that their idea for the new club developed in response to a changing NYC atmosphere that — amid so many individual “scene” hotspots — often seeks a fresh, eclectic voice. That means going beyond just dance beats or acoustic jams, while also bringing modern jazz, funk and other alternative music under one roof. “For me, seeking that feeling comes from my experience as a DJ,” said Andemicael. “When I’m on the decks, I span the globe, and that used to meet some resistance...[some] people tended to seek specific genres. Now an eclectic mix is more appreciated. The audience has caught up. Cross-culturalism is a genre onto itself. Cross-culturalism is the core concept for Meridian 23.” The two-level, 2,500-square-foot club — which will have a soft opening on April 5 — was constructed as a versatile space, which will cater to those diverse musical acts by featuring both a stage area for bands and an expansive floor for DJ parties. In addition, bar stations (four upstairs and one downstairs) will offer a cocktail menu that “playfully cir-

cles the globe,” according to the co-founders. Also important to the club’s vibe will be an equally interesting array of food choices — served until 1 a.m. — featuring tapas by Pierre Thiam, a Senegal-born chef who’s already brought zesty African culinary traditions to several New York restaurants. But in the end, it’s all about the sound — and the co-founders stressed that they’ve put in years of work to painstakingly fine-tune the sonic aspects of the space, electronically and physically, with tips from the same DJs and instrumentalists who will soon form the club’s broad community of performers. “We thought of Meridian 23 as a performance space first,” said Galvis. “With that in mind, I paid a lot of attention to what would make the room sound good. If the sound isn’t great, it doesn’t matter how great the band is.” Listeners will soon get a chance to test out those new acoustics at the club’s April 11 grand opening event, which will be highlighted by a free 9 p.m. concert by Meta and the Cornerstones — a perfectly eclectic choice to kick things off. Led by West African-born singer Meta Dia, the six-piece group brings together instrumentalists from three other continents while deftly fusing the danceable rhythms and harmonies of Afro-pop, hip-hop, rock and soul. Their second album, “Ancient Power,” released last April, also drew irresistibly headbobbing strains of reggae into the mix — and aside from actually being recorded in Jamaica, it featured contributions from Damian Marley and top artists from the genre. And the next night, also at 9 p.m., Meridian 23 will host a second grand opening concert — tickets cost $10 — this time featuring another group with roots in Africa, albeit with a very different vibe. The Feedel Band, a seven-piece group whose founders hail from Ethiopia, bring their engaging brand of jazz to the table, with both a drum set and percussionist combining with electric bass to lay a powerful rhyth-

Meta and the Cornerstones are a perfectly eclectic choice to play Meridian 23’s grand opening event (free, April 11 at 9 p.m.).

mic foundation for the group’s improvisers, which include sax, trombone, guitar and keyboards. Also inspired by the music of their home country, the band prefers to call their mix of musical languages “EthioJazz,” leaving plenty of room for great interplay and group dynamics. Looking to the future, the club hopes to follow those performances up with many more forays into the city’s myriad of live music scenes, while also staying true to its nightclub roots and drawing in those who just want to drink and dance. Part of that artistically diverse experience, according to Galvis and Andemicael, will also

involve creating a community for the artists themselves. So along with providing a stage for their sounds, Meridian 23 will set aside one night every few months just to hold a party for its musicians, seeking to foster new ties and collaborations that could help spark new crossovers between their various genres. “The idea is that a sense of community blossoms when artists feel a sense of belonging in the place, and the place belonging to them,” said Andemicael. “That’s why the bar will throw a party for the talent. People who haven't met each other, but who are part of something here, will get a chance to hang out.”

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Watch bartenders in action at your favorite bars!

N D E E T R’S R A B CORNER Y

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Colin Gregory!

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“And don’t forget to tip your bartender!!!” CALLING ALL BARTENDERS!

Contact Colin for a feature at: colin@thevillager.com

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

EastVillagerNews.com

April 3, 2014

17


Just Do Art

COURTESY OF THE ARTIST & CARTER BURDEN GALLERY

Thomas McAnulty’s “On the Wall” (public art installation, 180" wide x 50" tall, charcoal drawing). On view through April 10, at Carter Burden Gallery, which features emerging older artists.

BY SCOTT STIFFLER

THE CARTER BURDEN GALLERY COURTESY OF THE ARTIST & CARTER BURDEN GALLERY

Katherine D. Crone’s “Overflow” (16" tall x 5" x5", acrylic plastic, pigment print on Usuyo Gampi, nylon microfilament) is part of the “Looking Beyond” group photography show (through April 10, at Carter Burden Gallery).

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The Carter Burden Center for the Aging promotes the well-being of individuals 60 and older through direct social services, advocacy and volunteer programs oriented to individual, family and community needs. A few years back, they broadened the scope of their mission statement by helping to promote the work of NYC’s reemerging older professional artists. Today, The Carter Burden Gallery (formerly Gallery 307) has staked its claim as a unique presence in the Chelsea gallery district. Currently on display in the East Gallery, “Drawings & Sculpture” is the first Carter Burden solo show from Charles Ramsburg. Created in response to the artist’s woodland walks in the Adirondacks, the charcoal reductionist drawings “explores

his interest in the complexities of dimensionality and spatial contradictions”— while the sculptures (a collection of “Pathing Sticks”) examine the walking staff’s esoteric and functional history. In the West Gallery, Sara Petitt has curated “Looking Beyond” — a show of six photographers whose “recognizable and esoteric” works explore transformations, creations and elusive realities. Also in the gallery, Thomas McAnulty’s “On the Wall,” is a large-scale charcoal drawing that questions the “subtle and complex” relationship we form with often overlooked things to which we are deeply connected. Through April 10, at 548 W. 28th St. (#534, btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). Gallery Hours: Tues.Fri., 11am-5pm and Sat., 11am-6pm. Call 21256-8405 or visit carterburdengallery.com. JUST DO ART, continued on p. 19

EastVillagerNews.com


Just Do Art JUST DO ART, continued from p. 18

THEATER: LADY FROM LIMERICK

After last year’s well-attended and wordy (in a good way) inaugural event, McNally Jackson Books and Housing Works Bookstore Cafe are once again collaborating on the Downtown Literary Festival — a daylong celebration showcasing the literature and writers of New York City (with a focus on Downtown diversity and creativity). This year, the fes-

EastVillagerNews.com

PHOTO BY BEOWULF SHEEHAN

THE SECOND ANNUAL DOWNTOWN LITERARY FESTIVAL

PHOTO BY BOB GIGLIONE

Like so many others, she left Ireland to reinvent herself in New York City. But Kathleen Kelly Cregan was no turn-of-thecentury immigrant determined to escape a hardscrabble existence. The 2005 visitor to our shores was lured (recruited, really) by a doctor who’d been sued by numerous unsatisfied clients. A victim of botched plastic surgery, Cregan was removed from life support on St. Patrick’s Day. Journalist Claude Solnik — a 1990s contributor to The Villager and its sister publication, Downtown Express — was compelled to write this fictionalized account “because I was moved and because I wanted to try to prevent her tragedy from being forgotten.” The play’s co-producers also have a personal stake in raising awareness about the impact of medical errors on both victims and family members: Michael DeLuise only found out about his doctor’s many problems after cataract surgery gone bad, while Ilene Corina lost her son after he went in for a tonsillectomy (which prompted her to found PULSE of NY, a patient advocacy group). To further advance public debate on the play’s subject matter, five Talkback sessions will be held, immediately following certain performances. On April 10, William Liss-Levinson, Chief Strategy & Operations Officer of Castle Connolly (a website that helps in the search for top doctors), leads the discussion. April 12’s conversation features Randi Redmond Oster. The author of “Questioning Protocol,” she founded the group “Empowered Patients. Improved Outcomes” after caring for her elderly parents and a son with Crohn’s disease. For the full schedule: theaterforthenewcity.net. “The Lady from Limerick” is performed Thurs.-Sat., April 10-12 & 17-19 at 8pm. Sun., April 13 & 20 at 3pm. At Theater for the New City (155 First Ave. btw. 9th & 10th Sts.). For tickets ($15, $10 for students/seniors), call 212-254-1109 or visit theaterforthenewcity.net.

The cast of “Lady From Limerick” — at Theater for the New City, through April 20.

The Downtown Literary Festival has more books than you can shake a Noon at.

tival has expanded to three locations and has added children’s programming. The opening party (6-8pm) happens on Fri., April 10, at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe (HWBC). Ryan Chapman and Jason Diamond will DJ, and there will be free drinks (while they last). On Sunday, festival events at Bowery Poetry Club (BPC) and HWBC begin on the hour and last 45 minutes — allowing attendees just enough time to book it to the next nearby venue. At 11am, at BPC, “Natives and Newcomers: How Open Is New York City?” brings together Teju Cole, Hari Kunzru and Katie Kitamura for a discussion about the extent to which non-native New Yorkers can ever truly call the city their home. At noon, HWBC is the setting for “The Greatest 3-Minute Bad Apartment Stories” — a rapid-fire collection of horrible experiences with bad roommates, bed bugs, broker fees and slumlords. Maggie Serota, Sari Botton, Bob Powers, Jen Doll and Tyler Coates are among the intense and concise storytellers. Volume 1 Brooklyn’s Tobias Carroll hosts. Other events include visual presentations from Gabrielle Bell, MK Reed and Julia Wertz on the role NY’s cityscape has played in graphic stories (“Graphically New York: The City as Character,” 1pm at HWBC. At 2pm’s “Slaughterhouse 90210: Downtown Movies Edition” (also at HWBC), Maris Kreizman — creator of the blog and book-to-be “Slaughterhouse 90210” — talks about the intersection of New York City movies and literature. She’s joined by storytellers including Ka-

tie Heaney and Teddy Wayne. At BPC, at 2pm, the festival follows up 2013’s Frank O’Hara-themed installment of “The City Drifting” by focusing on the work of Alice Notley — this year’s choice for a featured poet who epitomizes Downtown literary culture. Timothy Donnelly, Lynne Melnick, John Godfrey, Stacy Szymaszek, Erika Caufmanmand Patricia Spears Jones are among those who will read a cherished poem by Notley. At 3pm, HWBC hosts “Closing Time: Stories of Shuttered New York City Venues.” Writers and musicians including Stacey D’Erasmo, Nelson George, Porochista Khakpour and Marc Spitz will revisit some of our ever-changing town’s fondly remembered DIY spaces, concert halls and arenas. Concurrent with that event, BPC takes a different approach to assessing the human cost of progress. “The Tale of Two Cities: Richard Price and Francine Prose in Conversation” has these born-andbred New Yorkers assessing the collateral damage of turning dirty and dangerous old Downtown into a zone that “no longer resembles the affordable, inclusive and diverse enclave it used to be.” At 4pm, at HWBC, what will become a perennial festival event — “NYC Through the Decades” — launches with a focus on the 1950s. The panelists are David Gilbert (on Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”), Amor Towles  (on Robert Franks’  “The Americans” photographs) and David Goodwillie (on Delmore Schwartz). Beginning at 10:30am, McNally Jackson Books will host four events custom-made

for the juice box set. First up: “Baby and Kids Storytime and Singalong” (ages 0–4) has Amy Virginia Buchanan and  Jo Firestone bringing a distinctly Downtown flair to their Storytime event (see amyvirginia.com updates on their weekly Wednesday gig, 10:30am, at HWBC). At 11am, “The Joshua Show” features Joshua Holden and his cast of puppet friends. Kids ages 4-8 will get a fast-paced primer on the genres of urban funk, blues, honky tonk and calypso genres — when Amelia Robinson plays interactive songs from the Mil’s Trills debut album “Everyone Together Now.” Village resident Greg Foley (the author/illustrator of “Willoughby & the Lion” and “Willoughby & the Moon”) is the guest for “Storytime With Rafael Jefferson” (at noon, perfect for ages 5-8). Also throughout the day at McNally Jackson, adults can get literary advice from Charles Bock, Fiona Maazel, Katie Roiphe and Adam Wilson—while Rosie Schapp pairs your reading list with thematically appropriate drinks. Then, rebel against the brave new age of the selfie, by popping into the Photo Booth to pose with your favorite book. Sun., April 13, from 10am-5pm at three venues: Bowery Poetry Club (308 Bowery, btw. Bleecker & Houston Sts.), Housing Works Bookstore Cafe (126 Crosby St., btw. Prince & Houston Sts.) and McNally Jackson Books (52 Prince St., btw. Lafayette & Mulberry Sts.). The after party (5pm) happens at Von Bar (3 Bleecker St., btw. Bowery & Elizabeth Sts.). For event info, visit downtownliteraryfestival.org. Also visit mcnallyjackson. com and housingworks.org/events. April 3, 2014

19


Units go from illegal hotel to illegal deregulation BY SAM SPOKONY

W

ould you like to pay $4,200 a month to live in an apartment that might actually be rent-sta-

bilized? Probably not. In fact, you might be pretty upset with the landlord and real estate broker who tried to sell you on that deal. And that might be why the broker who was advertising two Nolita apartments at market-rate prices hastily removed those listings on the afternoon of March 24 — just hours after this newspaper started asking about claims that both units are being unlawfully deregulated from rentstabilization. The apartments in question are units 1C and 3A of 19 Cleveland Place, a 16-unit building right off Petrosino Square — and they’re just two of a dozen units that some of the building’s longtime tenants, along with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, believe have been illegally deregulated by Fontana Realty since it became the building’s landlord in 2000. And, as has already been the case with many residential buildings across the city, the deregulation of 1C and 3A may have been aided by their use as alleged illegal hotel rooms. Starting several years ago, after they had spent decades on the state’s rent-stabilization rolls, leases on both of these apartments came into the hands of former real estate partners Yaniv Toledano and Pini Azulay, according to information obtained by The Villager. The two businessmen, under their co-founded company Staynovo, then reportedly rented both units periodically on the home-sharing Web site Airbnb, which is currently in a legal battle with the New York State attorney general over possible violations of the state’s illegal hotel law (which bans rentals of fewer than 30 days in residential apartments). Those Airbnb rentals created a shady and unsafe atmosphere within the building, according to some residents of 19 Cleveland Place, as tourists and other unidentified people strolled in and out using copies of the front-door key. Georgette Fleischer, a longtime rent-stabilized tenant of the building and founder of the advocacy group Friends of Petrosino Square, recalled that short-term renters regularly left trash and cigarettes in the hallways, turning the building into what she called a “transient flophouse.” And in the summer of 2012, while the Airbnb rentals were taking place, the apartment next to 1C was burglarized by a still-unknown perpetrator. Marna Lawrence, who lives in that rentstabilized apartment and was out of town when it was ransacked in 2012, told this newspaper that, based on the unsuccessful police investigation at that time, she’s still not sure whether the crime was committed by someone connected to an Airbnb rental. But she was sure about the fact that the rentals, brokered by Toledano and Azulay,

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April 3, 2014

severely impacted her quality of life. “It was just really disturbing to live next to what was basically a hotel room,” said Lawrence. “I never had any idea who was really living next to me.” A Fontana Realty representative, who refused to identify himself during numerous phone conversations, denied that any illegal hotel use had ever taken place in the building, although he also refused to respond to questions about his alleged association with Staynovo or Toledano and Azulay. In addition, the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, which investigates illegal hotel use, has visited the building but dismissed residents’ complaints regarding such activity, according to city records. O.S.E. did not respond to request for comment. In any case, Staynovo’s Airbnb listings for both 1C and 3A became inactive within the past year, according to searches on

proper process of deregulation, by doing substantial renovations to the units or allowing the legal, regulated rent to eventually rise to $2,500 per month? It’s unclear. Fontana Realty continues to refuse to answer questions on the subject, while Fleischer and Lawrence said they believe their landlord has in fact tried to flout state law and illegally deregulate the units. The interesting part came on the morning of March 24, when this reporter called Novo to ask about the listings for 1C and 3A, in order to learn about why they were being advertised at market rate. Since Toledano was reportedly out of the country and could not be reached, Novo’s managing director, David Roy Duenias, agreed to meet with the reporter at noon that day to discuss the topic. But when the time came to meet, Duenias was nowhere to be found. And when he was contacted once again, he had apparently changed his mind, nervously saying that he no longer had any interest in discussing the listings or their history. Minutes after that, both listings suddenly vanished from the Novo site. The next day, a followup call to Fontana — asking about the landlord’s knowledge of the Novo listing — was once again met with a refusal to comment, along with some palpable hostility, after which the representative hung up on the reporter. Meanwhile, New York State Homes and Community Renewal, the state agency that oversees rent regulation, has remained silent on this particular issue, primarily due to its self-imposed restrictions regarding the investigation of rent history and deregulation. Since only an apartment’s leaseholder can ask for the rent history of that unit, only Toledano or Azulay (while they held the leases) would have been able to trigger an H.C.R. investigation into the possibly illegal deregulations of 1C and 3A — something they clearly had no financial

‘Right now, everything is stacked against keeping units in rent-regulation.’ Gale Brewer

the Web site — and during that time, the company’s two founders parted ways, to some degree. In 2013, Azulay founded a boutique real estate firm called the Azulay Group, and Toledano around the same time founded his own new group, Novo International Realty. In a phone interview on March 24, Azulay said he no longer has anything to do with the two units at 19 Cleveland Place. But Toledano’s Novo firm remains linked to both apartments as a broker, while Fontana Realty has apparently begun trying to lease both of them to new long-term tenants for market-rate rents. Last week, 1C (a studio) was being advertised alongside Manhattan rentals on Novo’s Web site, and was listed at a rate of $3,500 per month. And 3A (a one-bedroom) was listed just below it, for $4,200 per month. Both rents were clearly thousands of dollars beyond what’s allowed under rent-stabilization, and would be unaffordable for the kind of middle-class tenants aided by rent-regulation. The key question is, why were these two units — which were leased under rentstabilization before their Airbnb period — being advertised at market rate? Did the landlord, Fontana Realty, go through the

interest in doing. The exception to that problem is H.C.R.’s relatively new Tenant Protection Unit, which announced in February that it had returned 28,000 units across the state to rent-stabilization rolls after random audits of building owners who had engaged in illegal deregulation. But the state agency has, so far, not expressed interest in doing such an investigation at 19 Cleveland Place, after multiple requests from Fleischer have gone unheeded. H.C.R. also did not respond to request for comment when this newspaper asked about the possibility of investigating the Cleveland Place deregulations. When it comes to illegal hotel units being passed off as being deregulated — as this newspaper previously reported has taken place at 79 Clinton St. on the Lower East Side and other Downtown buildings — Borough President Brewer said she believes the city and state need to be more proactive regarding the investigation of situations like this. Since the city’s O.S.E. is directly responsible for investigating illegal hotels (assuming that it does successful investigations), and H.C.R. is directly responsible for dealing with rent-stabilization, it only makes sense, she noted. “And a big issue is that H.C.R.’s Tenant Protection Unit is very understaffed, so I hope that Mayor de Blasio’s administration will take an interest in playing a greater collaborative role in this,” Brewer said. “The key is that we want more coordination between O.S.E. and H.C.R., because the way the system works right now, everything is stacked against keeping units in rent-regulation.” For now, it may only be a matter of time before 1C and 3A — as well as numerous other units at 19 Cleveland Place — are once again listed online at unaffordable rates. And Fleischer still thinks that action from the city, regarding illegal hotels, and the state, regarding deregulation, is long overdue. “I just feel like the city and the state have failed to do their jobs,” she said, “and they’ve failed us.”

SOUND OFF! Write a letter to the editor news@thevillager.com

EastVillagerNews.com


Explore. Imagine. Create.

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Triangle tragedy not forgotten

EastVillagerNews.com

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PHOTOS BY DONNA ACETO

The horrific March 25, 1911, Triangle Shirtwaist fire in the Asch Building, at Washington Place and Greene St., was commemorated Tues., March 25, for the 103rd time, with a ceremony at the site, now known as the N.Y.U. Brown Building. There were Triangle fire descendants, labor leaders and union members. Speakers included Borough President Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. In addition to a wreath of red and white carnations left outside the Washington Place building, there were chalked words of remembrance on the sidewalk in front of 35 Second Ave. in the East Village, where members of the Maltese family, who were among the fire’s 146 victims, had lived. Of the total, 123 were women and girls, mostly immigrant, who sewed “shirt waisters,” or women’s blouses. At the Washington Place memorial, a modern fire truck ladder was solemnly raised up to the building’s top floors. At the time of the fatal blaze, fire truck ladders couldn’t reach the factory on the eighth through 10th floors, and many of the victims leaped to their deaths.

Creative Steps Early Care & Education Center: a program of University Settlement 4 Washington Square Village, entrance on the corner of Mercer St. & Bleecker St. www.universitysettlement.org Contact: creativesteps@universitysettlement.org

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EastVillagerNews.com


BY TEQUILA MINSKY

Hello, yellow, nice to see you As the sun came out on Tuesday, a patch of blooming crocuses gave some reassurance that winter has really ended.

Wittenberg seating this summer; Astor Place plazas in two years BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

F

rom a new seating area to expansive plazas, a lot is in store for the Village Alliance business improvement district’s coverage area, which stretches from Eighth St. and Sixth Ave. over to St. Mark’s Place and Second Ave. At the BID district’s western end, at the intersection of Sixth and Greenwich Aves. and W. 10th Sts., the alliance plans to spruce up Ruth Wittenberg Triangle, which Bill Kelley, the alliance’s executive director, said they are dubbing the “Village Gateway.” (In a historical aside, after the Sixth Ave. El was torn down in 1938, The Villager tried with all its might to redub that intersection “Village Square.” But the name never took.) The BID plans to add seven or eight small tables with two chairs each to the small traffic island named for the legendary Village activist who helped get the Jefferson Market Library and other buildings landmarked. They’ll also add a couple of new planters and an information kiosk. The $20,000 project is fully funded, and it’s expected the more user-friendly plaza will be ready to go by July 1. Zoning on Eighth St. and much of Sixth Ave. doesn’t allow sidewalk cafes, which is partly behind the idea of setting up tables and chairs here, Kelley explained. Community Board 2 approved the idea, but veteran board member Doris Diether did pointedly note, “That’s a pretty small triangle.” Meanwhile, a few blocks to the east, work is already underway on a $16 million, cityfunded, reconstruction of Astor Place and Cooper Square. A lot of work is currently being done underground to reposition utility lines and pipes to allow the aboveground changes. Among those, the subway-stop

EastVillagerNews.com

triangle will be tripled in size and renamed “Astor Plaza,” while, to the south, a similar built-out area in front of Grace Church High School (which is just outside of the alliance’s district) will be dubbed “Cooper Plaza.” Also, Astor Place will be permanently closed between “The Cube” sculpture and the block downtown of it, creating yet another new plaza area. All the work is slated to be done by the end of 2015. One neighbor expressed concern that there are plans for lots of programming on Astor Plaza, too much, in his view. He was particularly worried about “Red Bull”type events. Kelley said he guessed there might be 50 events per year, mostly in the warmer months. “We don’t want it overprogrammed,” he said, adding that the BID would focus on things like kids’ activities or a lunchtime concert series there. So-called “Red Bull”type events would come from the city, not the alliance, he said. Jim Power, the “Mosaic Man,” called The Villager to say he is worried that the area’s reconstruction will jeopardize part of his famed “Mosaic Trail” of broken-tileencrusted lampposts. “Yes, the light poles throughout Astor Place will be replaced with a new style of energy-efficient LED light that requires new poles to be installed,” Kelley told us. “I have spoken with the Department of Transportation and Department of Design and Construction about the disposition of the old decorated poles, and we all agree that, although not officially sanctioned, they do contribute to the historic streetscape and character of Astor Place. “I believe that they will be salvaged and stored safely with the city until a process is determined for any future display or reuse,” Kelley said of the posts decorated by Power. “I am very optimistic that a good solution can be found to commemorate the Mosaic Trail through Astor Place.”

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EastVillagerNews.com

APRIL 3, 2014, EAST VILLAGER NEWS  

APRIL 3, 2014, EAST VILLAGER NEWS

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