The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
April 16, 2015 • $1.00 Volume 84 • Number 46
Alleged gas siphoning only further fuels turmoil at another E.V. building BY TINA BENITEZ-EVES
128 2ND AVE., continued on p. 12
Marchers throng streets once again after damning video of S.C. shooting BY ZACH WILLIAMS
ddressing racism takes time and patience but #BlackLivesMatter activists were eager to do something big on Tues., April 14, in their largest show of force in months. About 1,000 activists marched from Union Square
PHOTO BY RONALD ANDREW SCHVARZTMAN
early three weeks after the deadly explosion and fire at 121 Second Ave., which leveled three buildings and killed two men, tenants across the street from the site at 128 Second Ave. are still without heat and hot water.
On March 30, the city issued a full stop-work order for work in the building's basement — meaning the tenants may be left without heat and hot water for an extended period of time. One of these tenants is Stage Restaurant, a counter deli that has been on Sec-
down Broadway in a renewed push for more police accountability for their treatment of people of color. After reaching the City Hall area, they struggled against efforts by law enforcement to contain the protest, but activists ultimately succeeded in reaching the Brooklyn PROTESTS, continued on p. 7
Patti Smith and guitarist Lenny Kaye rocked the East Village fire benefit at Theatre 80 St. Mark’s Sunday night. See Page 4.
Pols and coalition feel burned by pavilion restaurant reversal BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
hey should have gotten it in writing. Then again, you can’t say they didn’t try. Last fall, both state Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried reported in their newsletters to constituents that, after discussions with de Blasio administration officials last April, it was decided that, for its second season, Chef Driven Market would have to operate on the blacktop
outside the Union Square pavilion. Yet, as The Villager reported last October, the local elected officials were starting to get worried that — after still not having seen any written agreement after more than six months — the administration might not make good on its word to boot the tony eatery from the historic structure. Now comes word that the seasonal concession, the Pavilion Market Cafe, will be returning for a second round
— not outside on the pavement, as purportedly promised, but right back inside the pavilion — as of Wed., April 15. Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Union Square Partnership business improvement district, hailed the news. “In its first year, the pavilion restaurant established itself as a wildly successful amenity within Union Square Park, and we can’t PAVILION, continued on p. 20
A special Villager supplement
Cops bag E.V. bodega bandit............................page 6 Four catastrophe cats still missing................page 8 The trials of Kasoundra Kasoundra...............page 11
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April 16, 2015
READY, SET...GO! Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, left, and Jenifer Rajkumar, co-chairperson of the Ready for Hillary National Finance Council, were all smiles at the final Ready for Hillary event on Sunday at a Battery Park City restaurant. “Three hundred-plus people came,” District Leader Rajkumar e-mailed us afterward about the turnout. “Did you see us on TV? Our event was even on the TV screens on the back of the taxi cabs. Most of the major news channels ended up coming to the event and even elected officials from other boroughs. SouthWest NY was packed.” Earlier in the day, Hillary Clinton had announced her campaign for president in a segment that was rolled out online. Former governor candidate and progressive darling Zephyr Teachout promptly tweeted out her assessment: “Clinton ad announcing campaign is surprisingly free of content, lacking autobiography, policy, vision. Hope she quickly holds press conf.” ROCK-STAR READING: Speaking of progressives, Senator Elizabeth Warren, above right, drew an equally big and enthusiatic crowd last Thurs., April 9, when she was at The Strand bookstore on Broadway in Noho to plug the release of the soft-cover version of her autobiography, “A Fighting Chance.” “She was ostensibly promoting the paperback of her book,” a source tells us. “She read from it. But it sounded like a campaign stump speech. It was in the rare books room at The Strand. Three hundred people were lined up outside around the corner to get in.” Needless to say, most in the crowd were hoping that Warren will eventually throw her hat in the ring, and that someone will give Clinton a strong primary challenge — if not more. Some of them wore “Run Warren Run” T-shirts, sporting a Web address, www.RunWarrenRun.org. G.O.P. candidate Rand Paul will be visiting The Strand next month. CRAZY ABOUT SKENAZY: Google “America’s Worst Mom” and you’ll quickly learn that Lenore Skenazy once let her 9-year-old son ride the subway
PHOTO BY JASON B. NICHOLAS
ES & MORE SINCE 1982 I P ! CO
alone. The columnist and reality show host got that title after writing about her boy’s remarkable experience safely getting from point A to point B without an adult by his side. But not everyone thought this was a good idea, and in response to the media blowback, she founded the bookblog and movement “Free-Range Kids.” Her feisty belief that our kids are safer and smarter than our culture gives them credit for has landed her on talk shows including “Dr. Phil” and “The View.” She has lectured internationally, from Microsoft’s headquarters to the Sydney Opera House, and she’s also host of “World’s Worst Mom,” a reality show airing on Discovery-TLC in most of the world (but, surprisingly, not America!). Now, Skenazy brings her brand of fun, engaging writing to the Community News Group and New York Community Media, where her new column “Rhymes With Crazy” will appear each week. A graduate of Yale, she lives Queens with her husband and two teen sons. Her writing has appeared in the New York Daily News, where she was a columnist for 14 years, the New York Sun, NPR and, of course, MAD magazine. So check out what Lenore has to say this week and every week in The Villager.
CORRECTIONS: Last week’s photo caption for a religious procession on E. Houston St. stated that it occurred on a Sunday and, due to a typo, that the congregants were from St. Mark’s Church. In fact, it was on Good Friday, and the marchers were from St. Mary’s Church, as well as Church of the Nativity, Most Holy Redeemer Church and Our Lady of Sorrows Church. Congregants of Nativity, on E. Third St., are fighting to keep their house of worship open in the face of a planned merger by the archdiocese. ... In Minerva Durham’s piece in last week’s issue on Soho super Matthew McGuigan’s wake, due to an editing error, McGuigan’s age was incorrectly given as 66, but he was 76. ... Also, The Villager’s article two weeks ago on the newspaper’s awards in the 2014 NYPA Better Newspaper Contest failed to mention that Associate Publisher Troy Masters and Editor Paul Schindler from our sister paper Gay City News “ ’Netted” first place for Best Web Site Home Page. Congrats! TheVillager.com
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April 16, 2015
Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association Editorials, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Best Column, First Place, 2012 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011 Spot News Coverage, First Place, 2010 Coverage of Environment, First Place, 2009
PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN
EDITOR IN CHIEF LINCOLN ANDERSON
SCOTT STIFFLER PHOTOS BY RONALD ANDREW SCHVARZTMAN
CONTRIBUTORS IRA BLUTREICH SARAH FERGUSON TEQUILA MINSKY CLAYTON PATTERSON JEFFERSON SIEGEL ZACH WILLIAMS
ART DIRECTOR MICHAEL SHIREY
GRAPHIC DESIGNERS ANDREW GOOSS CHRIS ORTIZ
Clockwise from above, Alan Kaufman, left, and Aron Kay, the “Yippie Pie Man,” at the East Village fire benefit, with performers Mollie King, Jesse Malin and On Ka’a Davis.
WEB MASTER TROY MASTERS
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES JACK AGLIATA ALEXIS BENSON ALLISON GREAKER JENNIFER HOLLAND JIM STEELE JULIO TUMBACO
CIRCULATION SALES MNGR. MARVIN ROCK
Rockers raise the roof for fire victims A benefit for the victims of the March 26 East Village gas explosion and fire drew a capacity crowd of 200 people to Theatre 80 St. Mark’s on Sunday night and raised $11,000. Taken together with a $36,000 contribution by Sting and others by Yoko Ono and Gertrude Stein of the Boris Lurie Foundation, the effort — led by writer Alan Kaufman — has raised more than $50,000. The funds will be given to GOLES (Good Old Lower East Side), the local tenant-advocacy group that has been working with residents displaced by the disaster. The evening's headliner was the legendary Patti Smith. “As I was getting dressed today, I touched everything I put on,” she said after taking the stage, “my T-shirt, my socks. I imagined what it would be like to go off to work or to shop and everything was gone — photos of my daughter...perhaps even my beloved cat.” Check thevillager.com for full coverage of the night.
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April 16, 2015
Biz crawl helps shell-shocked shops get cooking BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Cook Diego Rivera was cooking up “a hunk, a hunk of” flaming burgers.
PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY
t the northwest corner of Second Ave. and E. Seventh St. rubble removal has been going on steadily for the past two weeks. Just down the block from there, a handful of businesses are open — but most people wouldn’t know it. The stores are largely hidden from view behind tall plywood barriers. The gas explosion that has left a hole in the heart of the East Village has also heavily impacted the businesses on this block. To let people know that these places are “open for business,” the online campaign #SaveNYC organized a “Small Biz Crawl” for the Second Ave. explosion business mom-and-pop store survivors. Beginning at noon on Saturday, those who arrived promptly received #SaveNYC placards to carry. Fliers listed four stores on the avenue’s west side — Gem Spa, Paul’s Da Burger Joint, B&H Dairy and Himilayan Visions — that have been particularly impacted, as well as other nearby restaurants. Hungry patrons stopped at B&H Dairy restaurant but were disappointed to find it gated. The restaurant was still shut last Saturday. Andy Reynolds wore a T-shirt with “Challah! por favor” in green lettering. “It’s the same font as the awning,” he said. And he should know. A graphic artist, he designed the shirt for free — B&H info is on its back — so that the shop could make some money selling the T-shirts. “They’re supposed to open next week when they turn the gas on,” he said. “I normally eat here five days a week.” B&H Dairy has been in the E. Village since 1938, and is known for its challah. E. Seventh St. resident Jaime Vasquez, who was also milling around, said he eats there at least three times a week. He came out to see how things were going, stopping at Gem Spa for a chocolate egg cream. Many of those on the crawl were locals who live just blocks away. Kimberly Schwab of St. Mark’s Place and her boyfriend planned on stopping at most of the places on the list. Supporters came from other boroughs and neighborhoods, as well, to spend their money and show solidarity with the small shops. Carrying a placard, actress Pamela Dayton, who traveled from W. 181st St., stopped to refuel at Paul’s Da Burger Joint where Reynolds had just eaten. Business for this funky East Village staple, featuring 21 specialty burgers and seven specialty fries, has been really slow since the March 26 catastro-
Jaime Vasquez, with an egg cream at Gem Spa, thinks it’s hip to sip in support of the impacted businesses.
phe. The attention and buzz created by the crawl was a big help for them on Saturday. Cook Diego Rivera was working nonstop assembling burger creations. #SaveNYC’s flier included a brief history of the East Village, mentioning it as an incubator of the ’60s counterculture and a home to bohemians, artists, hippies and students, all attracted by the once-cheap rent, and the punk and Nuyorican movements. “In recent years,” the flier read, “there has been a cultural decline due in large part by gentrification, overdevelopment and rising rent.” April 16, 2015
POLICE BLOTTER E.V. bodega bandit bagged A suspect responsible for a recent rash of robberies of East Village delis and bodegas has been collared, according to police. Cops finally caught up with the gaunt suspect, whom they identified as Kenneth Nottage, 47, of 347 E. 18th St. He was charged with four counts of robbery, pertaining to the third, seventh, ninth and twelfth heists in his eight-day one-man crime wave. According to police, Nottage usually displayed a knife or simulated a firearm when he hit the stores, demanded money, removed cash from the register, then fled on foot. Following his seventh attempted job, a failed robbery at East Village Fruit and Vegetable, 229 Avenue B, on Tues., April 7, at 1:45 a.m., in which he failed to score any cash, Nottage may have felt the East Village was starting to get too hot for him. So, he set his sights farther Uptown. He went on to stick up four more stores, stealing $200 from Irish Green Cleaners, at 226 E. 53rd St., on April 8; and $190 from Crumbs Bake Shop, at 775 Columbus Ave., on April 9; plus an undisclosed amount of money from a Subway sandwich store, at 301 Cathedral Parkway North, also on April 9. But his downfall may have been going near donuts. He did two more robberies, at separate Dunkin Donuts shops on April 10, at 1630 Madison Ave. and 2103 Eighth Ave., making away with $294 and $100, respectively. But it proved to be the end of the line for Nottage. Police soon closed in and arrested him.
Armed man accosts her On Tues., April 7, at 10:45 p.m., a man followed a 24-year-old woman into an elevator at 78 Fifth Ave., between W. 13th and 14th Sts., police said. Once inside the elevator, the suspect brandished a firearm and demanded that the woman lead him to her apartment, A surveillance-camera where he would take image of the suspect in an her cash. But she told attempted armed robbery him she did not live inside 78 Fifth Ave. on there, and the suspect April 7. Here he is shown then demanded that going through the turnstile in the subway at 14th she follow him to an ATM, where she would St. and Sixth Ave. remove money for him. As they exited the building, the suspect held the victim’s hand while hailing a taxi. As the cab pulled to the curb, the victim broke free from the suspect’s grasp and fled to a nearby store. The suspect fled the location empty-handed. Anyone with information is asked to call the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-
April 16, 2015
TIPS. Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers. com, or by texting them to 274637(CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.
Former Pastis site fatality On Mon., April 6, at around 12:14 p.m., police responded to a 911 call of an aided male at 9-19 Ninth Ave., between Little W. 12th and 13th Sts., in the Meatpacking District. Upon arrival, officers discovered a 22-year-old male unconscious and unresponsive. E.M.S. was on scene and transported the male to Lenox Hill Hospital in critical condition where he was pronounced dead. The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation is ongoing. The New York Post reported that, according to police, the man was a construction worker who was killed when he was trapped by an avalanche of dirt at the site, the former location of Pastis restaurant. He had been shoring up a wall at the location when unstable soil gave way and he was buried, according to sources, the newspaper reported. Councilmember Corey Johnson said, “I am saddened and angered to hear of a worker’s death at the construction site located at 19 Ninth Ave. in my district. Preliminary reports indicate multiple safety violations on the work site. This loss of life reinforces the need for even stronger workplace protections and safety procedures. The safety of the public depends on it. I thank city authorities, including the N.Y.P.D., F.D.N.Y., E.M.S. and Department of Buildings, for their response to this terrible event.” Restoration Furniture has reportedly signed a 15-year $250 million lease for the full property, which is being reconstructed and vertically expanded. A partial stop-work order is currently in effect.
Sharp showdown Police said two men clashed with a machete versus a big knife in front of 80 University Place on Fri., April 10, around 2 p.m. Two witnesses said that a man wielding a machete cut another man brandishing a butcher knife on the shoulder and forearm. The police report stated the incident was also caught on video. Esmeling Baez, 20, who allegedly had the butcher knife, was charged with misdemeanor menacing. Felix Leonardo Martinez, 33, the man with the machete, was charged with felony assault. A Sixth Precinct officer could not immediately say what prompted the fight.
Gunshots on Avenue D On Mon., April 6, at 2 p.m., police said, Frank Maldonado, 16, exited 178 Avenue D, brandished a gun and fired several shots at a group of people. No one was struck by the gunfire and the suspect fled the location.
Police did not say what prompted the shooting. Anyone with information is asked to call the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577TIPS. Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers. com, or by texting them to 274637(CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.
Frank Maldonado is wanted for a shooting incident.
Wheels of fury A driver, 24, allegedly hit another man, 53, with his car near the northwest corner of W. Eighth St. and Sixth Ave. on Mon., April 6, around 6:20 p.m. after the two argued. According to police, the older man got in front of the younger man’s car in order to photograph him. But once the light turned green, the driver reportedly hit the gas and took off, striking his adversary. Two witnesses pursued the driver for six blocks, then caught up to him and held him at the corner of Sixth Ave. and W. 13th St. until police arrived and arrested him. Yusofjon Tuychiev was charged with misdemeanor hit-and-run.
Photo rage, Part II
A man did not take kindly to being photographed in front of 19 University Place on Thurs., April 9. He allegedly approached a 51-year-old man just before 2 p.m., requesting that he desist and delete the photos already taken. The photographer refused. Police said Correy Holder, 25, then allegedly put the man in a headlock. Holder was subsequently arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault.
Zach Williams a n d L i n co l n A n d e rs o n TheVillager.com
New shooting restarts #BlackLivesMatter movement PROTESTS, continued from p. 1
PHOTO BY ZACH WILLIAMS
Bridge where they blocked rush-hour traffic. About three dozen people were arrested there Tuesday night. Police said two officers were injured. Actions will need to continue on a consistent basis in order catalyze the systematic changes desired by many activists, marchers said. Demands include that charges be brought against New York Police Department officers accused of killing people of color without cause, notably in the case of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who was choked to death by police while they sought to arrest him for selling untaxed cigarettes. But the purpose of the protests extends beyond addressing the experiences of minority men, activists said. “This is not just for blacks,” said Michael Armstrong, a Harlem resident who participated in the April 14 march. “This is for everybody ’cause you could be shooting at me and someone else could get hit, so all lives matter. It’s not about color.” In recent weeks, fatal shootings of unarmed black men have remained in the headlines nationwide, including the April 4 shooting of Walter Scott, 50, in North Charleston, South
Carolina, following a traffic stop. A federal probe into Garner’s death remains ongoing, though a grand jury declined to indict an officer in the Staten Island man’s death last year. Federal officials declined to press civil rights charges earlier this year against Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Missouri, officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, 18, last year. However, the U.S. Department of Justice did issue a scathing report of that city’s police department, which led to the resignation of the local police chief, city manager and a municipal judge. Though scuffles with police did occur in New York City on April 14 — and two police were reported injured — activists said they were encouraged by the march’s overall peaceful nature. Largely organized by far-left groups, most participants were a bit more mainstream than the Revolutionary Community Party U.S.A., which staged a rally at Union Square. Activist intellectual Cornel West, a professor of philosophy at Princeton University, told the crowd that ongoing police violence against minorities demands a response by a broad coalition, even if he, as a “revolutionary Christian,” has differences in opinion with the communists. “Don’t confuse a jazz orchestra with
One of the first arrests on April 14 was of a man who disrupted Brooklynbound traffic in a lane leading onto the Brooklyn Bridge.
a military band,” West said. “In a military band everybody’s got to hit the note in the same way at the same time. I come from a jazz people. Everybody has to raise their own voice.” He likened the #BlackLivesMatter movement to other struggles against oppression worldwide. “Black faces in high places,” such as President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, have not brought a substantive difference in police accountability, he added.
Other marchers said that more white people should support the movement, especially by acknowledging that their societal status precludes them from experiencing the same type of treatment by police as minorities. The march amplified the activists’ need to increase their ranks while also demonstrating their intention to continue pressing for police and social reforms that would ensure a more equitable society, according to Charlie Mannings. The Chelsea resident said that he has been a regular participant in the movement in the last four months. The continued involvement of young people — including a contingent of about 100 students from Bard High School Early College, on E. Houston St., at the march — is particularly encouraging, he added. “We can resolve this immediately,” he said, “or we can just drag it on and on and on, but ultimately there will be changes.” In that vein, following Scott’s shooting in South Carolina — where a videotape showed that the officer shot the fleeing man in the back multiple times — former New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly conceded that the time has now come for all police officers to wear body cameras.
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Four of the East Village Eight are still missing BY YVONNE COLLERY
PHOTO BY DONALD CUMMING PHOTO BY MATT BROOKS
April 16, 2015
Leather Face is still lost.
Posters for Sago were the first to go up.
Sylvie was left behind as her building was exploding all around her. PHOTO BY LIPSKY
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
our extraordinarily lucky cats who went missing for a week during the aftermath of the Second Ave. explosion are not quite “home” yet, but all are all safely recovering with their “people.” Sebastian and Kitty Cordelia are now happily purring and snuggling up with Kathleen Blomberg at their temporary home. My Laszlo and Lulu are doing very well, although Lulu and Catarina, one of our host cats where we are now staying, are at loggerheads and growl and hiss at each other whenever their paths cross, which is often. Laszlo has made fast friends with Angus, our other host cat, and they take nightly walkabouts side by side and have been spotted happily napping together during the day. Sebastian, Kitty Cordelia, Laszlo and Lulu have all suffered though and miraculously survived a major disaster, but the same may not be true for Ryce, Leather Face, Sylvie and Sago. The ASPCA and Animal Care & Control said they are holding out the most hope for Ryce at this point since he is also from our building, 125 Second Ave., which is still standing unlike the buildings that Leather Face, Sylvie and Sago came from. That being said, we believe that more can still be done and should have been done to find our cherished missing pet neighbors. Ryce is a gorgeous young Siamese-mix cat belonging to Stuart and Kayoko Lipsky and their heartbroken 12-year-old daughter, Hannah. The Lipskys were able to take their other cat, Muffin, but were unable to find Ryce when huge burning pieces of the neighboring building were already crashing down onto the roof of the boutique Enz’s, which is next to their second-floor windows. The Lipskys believe that Ryce could have gotten out the smashed windows later and fallen into Enz’s space. No one has looked in there yet despite their many pleas. Hannah is a very strong and brave young girl, who has not missed even a day of school throughout this horrible time. Hannah with her sweet, brave face is an inspiration to us all. Sylvie, a winsome and lovely Tortie, the adored pet of Nora and Matt Brooks, jumped away and hid when their roommate tried to get her out when she had to leave as her building was exploding from under her. I spoke with Matt — master puppeteer and puppet builder for Jim Henson — about five days after the explosion at the GOLES meeting held for all of the survivors. This couple had already lost everything that they had in the entire world, and yet a miserable-looking and forlorn Matt was exchanging info with us, the other pet guardians of the
Did Ryce fall into the Enz’s space during the catastrophe?
East Village Eight. Leather Face, with his piercing blue eyes, a young Siamese/tabby mix (who looks very much like Ryce), is the spirit cat and beloved muse of Donald Cumming from 123 Second Ave. I met Donald at the Red Cross emergency center two days after the explosion. Donald, a very successful musician (The Virgins), had lost everything, and yet he didn’t speak a word about any of that. He was only speaking of Leather Face, a cat that he found and rescued in Tompkins Square Park two years ago. Donald has been putting up posters all over the East Village and has also paid for postcards to be sent to every apartment unit in the surrounding area. He is desperate to bring Leather Face safely home to wherever home may
turn out to be. Whenever I see Donald, he is holding a picture or poster of Leather Face. Donald is showing us all grace by example. Sago is a gorgeous 14-year-old Siamese. Sago’s poster was the first to go up after the disaster. None of the other East Village Eight people have met Sago’s people. That is because Tom Schmidt and Kim Modes were away from New York at the time of the explosion. Their friend Tom Walker very quickly put up the posters and also handed them to local people. Kudos to Tom Walker for being such a good and kind friend. From the outset, we were pleading with the ASPCA and ACC to do a thorough search in the interior of our square block (borders being E. Seventh St. and St. Mark’s Place be-
tween Second and Third Aves.). Obviously, our side of Second Ave. was off limits, but access could have easily been gotten from the west and north parts of the block. Historically, many “alley cats” have resided in these areas, and some missing felines from days of yore have been found in some people’s gardens and returned. We were asking that catch-and-release cat traps be put in these areas. It was never done. The agencies in question said that they could not gain access. This is mindboggling since the F.D.N.Y. had all sorts of top brass working at the disaster site, and since it is the F.D.N.Y that grants access, and has access to almost every building in New York City. We, the people of New York City and the pet owners who were let down, need answers. Some extraordinary people have been working indefatigably on behalf of us (the displaced pet guardians of CATS, continued on p. 31 TheVillager.com
JOIN GOD’S LOVE WE Public housing awash in ﬂood protection cash DELIVER FOR N THE VIP OPENING NIGHT OF In November 2012, Smith Houses residents grabbed emergency rations trucked in by the National Guard three days after Hurricane Sandy hit, knocking out electricity in southern Manhattan.
BY JOSH ROGERS
ine Lower East Side public housing complexes will be able to tap into a $3 billion federal fund to repair damage from Hurricane Sandy, Senator Chuck Schumer and Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced in Red Hook. The nine developments are part of 33 NYCHA projects around the city that will receive the Federal Emergency Management Agency money to repair and protect places damaged three years ago. At the March 31 announcement, the mayor and Schumer said it was the largest single grant FEMA has ever made. In Downtown Manhattan, the NYCHA complexes that will get this funding include the Smith Houses, LaGuardia Houses, Baruch Houses, Two Bridges, Wald Houses, Riis Houses 1 and 2, and Campos Plaza 1 and 2. “I know we have to protect our boilers because we had no water during Sandy,” said Aixa Torres, a tenant leader at Smith Houses next to the Brooklyn Bridge. “I am very happy about the 3 billion,” Torres said last. “I’m sure there’ll be another Sandy with this crazy weather… . “I think for too long the federal government has ignored public housing in general. We’re taxpayers like everyone else.” Underscoring that last point, NYCHA estimates that there is an additional $18 billion shortfall citywide on needed repairs at more than 300 developments. It’s not yet known how much money each housing project will get, but the average is slightly more than $90 million. Torres said all the needed repairs at Smith will cost $623 million, though not all of that is connected to Sandy damage. Smith needs backup generators and protection for its boilers, two projects eligible for the FEMA funds. Torres said the complex’s water tank TheVillager.com
was first damaged in 2011, first by an earthquake and then by Hurricane Irene, which did not hit New York City particularly hard, and then, a year later, by Sandy. After the superstorm, most Smith residents lacked power or water for a week. She said only half of Smith’s leaky roofs have been repaired and the elevators also need replacing. About half of the FEMA money will go toward repairs, and the rest will be for flood-protection measures, which is especially important for Smith, LaGuardia and Two Bridges. All three developments have been cut out of the first phase of the “Big U,” another federally funded project that aims to build a “U”-shaped barrier of protective berms and deployable walls around the southern half of Manhattan. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has earmarked $335 million to build at least part of the first section — along the East Side from Montgomery St. up to E. 23rd St. In a press release, Schumer said, “For thousands of hard-working New York families and seniors in some 200 NYCHA buildings from Red Hook to Coney Island to the Lower East to the Rockaways who were displaced and devastated by Superstorm Sandy, this massive and historic federal investment...will both restore decent living conditions to their buildings and fortify them against future storms and disasters.” Joining the release from the mayor were a long list of politicians, including on the local level, U.S. Representatives Nydia Velázquez and Carolyn Maloney, Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilmember Margaret Chin. Chin said the money “represents a huge step toward improving the lives of thousands of Lower East Side NYCHA residents who are still struggling with post-Sandy damage and the fear of being left unprotected.” With the funding, she said, “We can get much closer to truly protecting those public housing residents for generations to come.”
VERNISSAGE MAY 13 CORN EXCHANGE BUILDING NW CORNER OF 125TH ST. & PARK AVE.
April 16, 2015
16 is the new 6; Treating teens like toddlers RHYMES WITH CRAZY BY LENORE SKENAZY
hen Walt Disney was 16 he forged his parents’ signatures and lied about his age so he could join the American Ambulance Corps, which was part of the Red Cross. That’s how he found himself in Europe, just after World War I ended, driving ambulances. He loved it. He said it “added up to a lifetime of experience in one package.” And as he later put it: “I know being on my own at an early age has made me more self-reliant and less of a the-world-owes-me-a-living type than I otherwise would have been.” I have to thank the book “Teen 2.0” by Robert Epstein for that story, and for putting the whole idea that teens are lazy/incompetent/irresponsible selfies on trial. Is it that “kids today” are really so immature? Or is that we treat them as if they are, and they re-
spond the way most of us do when dissed or diminished: We disappoint. Over the past generation or two we have come to think of young people as less and less competent. I usually notice this with younger kids — how we drive them to school, as if it’s always too cold or too far. How we insert ourselves into their squabbles, as if they couldn’t sort things out by themselves. How we organize their lives for them — I’ve done this myself — as if leaving them to their own devices would mean wasted time, a teachable moment that we failed to fill. But teens, man! Lately we act as if there’s no difference between 13 and 3. Here in New York City, there is no specific minimum age for latchkey kids, thank goodness. But Illinois law states that no one should be home alone until age 14 — an age when many kids in my generation had already been babysitting for two or three (or four!) years. Now the 14-year-olds are the babies themselves. Or how about crossing guards? My crossing guard when I was a tyke was a 10-year-old. Now, in every place I’ve lived in New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens), the 10-year-olds are the tykes and the guards are all adults. Deliver newspapers? The folks who
bring ours here in Jackson Heights do it by car. Most newspapers require their delivery people to have a license and liability insurance. If you’re just a kid with a bike? Too bad. And as for the laws about sex, we act as if anyone with any stirrings of anything before 18 is either a perp or a victim. Sometimes they’re both. A case in 2006 involved a 13-yearold Utah girl who had consensual sex with her 12-year-old boyfriend. I don’t know of anyone who loves the idea of kids that young sleeping together, but here’s something worse: She was found guilty of having sex with someone under 14.
And so was he! That makes them both sex offenders (and both victims). As I learned from Nicole Pittman, an expert on the sex offender laws I heard speak at an N.Y.U. Law School symposium on Monday: Of the 800,000 or so people on the sex offender registry nationwide, 200,000 are under age 18. That’s because teens have sex with other teens — a fact that shouldn’t be news and, when consensual, shouldn’t be considered rape. Shackling a teen with the label of Sex Offender often means they are not allowed to go to school (because there are other kids there) or even live at home, if there are younger siblings in the house. Sometimes they can’t live near a park, a church, a daycare center...even though it’s not that they ever raped a toddler. It’s that they slept with someone around their own age, as teens always have. It’s only now that we’re treating teens like toddlers themselves that we are stunting them as humans, and hunting them down for having sex. Really, it’s time for someone to grow up. Us. Skenazy is a public speaker and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids”
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Fighting mad about Hillary To The Editor: Re “Ready, steady...announce!” (Scoopy’s Notebook, April 9): Gore Vidal wryly called our republic the United States of Amnesia. Clearly, the glamorous and blindly ambitious District Leader Jennifer Rajkumar demonstrates her own memory loss,
both locally and globally, by hosting an estrogen-fueled event for Over-the-Hillary Clinton. In 2006 when Senator Clinton was running for re-election, the Downtown Independent Democrats did not endorse the carpetbagger, due to her siding with the demented “I’m a War President” Bush and voting “yes,” alongside 48 Republican senators, for the Iraq War resolution. Any truly critically thinking person, not work-
ing for The New York Times, knew Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11, never attacked the U.S. and possessed no weapons of mass destruction. One needn’t have been a prophet to foresee that Hussein’s elimination would only return Iraq to seventh-century religious feudalism that has since spawned the ISIS crisis. Supporting Clinton is an endorsement of this immoral without-end war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Americans, cost trillions of dollars and bankrupted our country, while enriching Halliburton and the military industrial complex. Only a sterilized and obsequious corporate media, backed by craven Democratic Party hacks, maintains Hillary’s credibility and image of experience and inevitability. Carl Rosenstein
Everyone’s nightmare — the IRS!! 10
April 16, 2015
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The trials of collage artist Kasoundra Kasoundra BY PENNY ARCADE, DANA DAVISON AND MIKKI MAHER
suffocating and corrupt bureaucracy has grown up around social services for the elderly. Guardians, social workers, financial managers and other caregivers too often show a cavalier disregard for the welfare of their charges. And don’t imagine for a moment that it is only lonely, friendless, isolated denizens that become victims of abuse. If you are a senior caught in this bureaucratic quagmire, even your best friends can’t help you. Consider the case of Kasoundra Kasoundra. This very original New York Underground personality, now pushing 80, has been an avant-garde artist for more than half a century. When she arrived in Manhattan as a Midwestern college dropout in the early ’60s, she boldly knocked on the doors of celebrities such as Hermione Gingold and Bob Dylan simply to find out what made them tick. Modeling at the Art Students League to earn her living, Kasoundra inserted herself into the urban art underground, making friends with its creative geniuses while she perfected her own considerable talents as a witty collage artist. Brice Marden and Jonas Mekas, among others, collected her artworks, and Maurice Gerodias, founder of The Olympia Press, took her with him on trips to Europe. Kasoundra hung out with the Alice’s Restaurant crowd at the church in the Berkshires, and acted in Harry Smith’s “Mahagonny.” Her poster of Harry looking at himself in his own eyeglasses is a sought-after treasure. Flash-forward to January 2011, when Kasoundra was discovered lying on the floor of her kitchen and transported to Lenox Hill Hospital by Adult Protective Services. Kasoundra’s boyfriend had run off with her roommate, and despite her bad liver, Kasoundra had consumed an entire quart of vodka. When her friends finally located her in the hospital, she was yellow with jaundice. The physically feisty Kasoundra bounced back soon enough, but she was transferred to the hospital’s psych ward because she complained of depression. This proved to be a dangerous disclosure, because from that moment forward, Kasoundra was never to enjoy her freedom again. Although she has fought valiantly through three years of court hearings with three successive judges, Kasoundra remains marooned in a nursing home in New Rochelle with little hope of ever regaining her liberty. How could this happen? Kasoundra’s trials began with her landlord. As she stayed in the psych ward month after month, her rent fell increasingly behind, and the landlord sued for eviction. Kasoundra paid him $2,000 as a gesture of good faith until she could return home and get her affairs in order, but the landlord was not appeased and the eviction proceeding continued. Kasoundra had lived for 30 years in a rent-stabilized apartment on the Upper East Side, and under SCRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption) she paid $684 a month. With a modest renovation, Kasoundra’s four-room apartment —particularly in view of the new Second Ave. subway line — might easily fetch $3,500 per month in today’s inflated real estate market. Such apartments have become valuable assets to landlords, who often pay rent-stabilized tenants thousands of dollars to move out. Although the hospital helped Kasoundra acquire a pro bono lawyer to stave off her eviction TheVillager.com
A self-portrait collage by Kasoundra Kasoundra.
proceeding, the better course might have been to help her set up an automated bill payment plan at her bank so her rent could be paid on a timely basis. Kasoundra’s next problem was that her medical condition, hepatic encephalopathy, caused her liver function to wax and wane. This condition (and/ or the medication taken for it) can cause symptoms of grogginess and occasional forgetfulness — side effects that dissipate once the liver returns to normal and the medication is discontinued. In the meantime, the psych ward social worker was reluctant to send Kasoundra home to her apartment, a three-flight walk-up. The staff considered that she might be better off living in Lott House, an elegant, assisted-living facility in her neighborhood, where she could occupy a studio apartment and have her meals served in the spacious dining room with windows overlooking Central Park. Kasoundra loved the park, and had once been a volunteer gardener there. An appointment was made for a visit to Lott House, but after Kasoundra’s initial interview, her social worker sat on the application for months. No one helped Kasoundra apply for “Community Medicaid,” which, in view of her meager Social Security income, would be needed to pay for homecare services or for her residency at Lott House. Instead, the hospital applied for and received a “hospital Medicaid” payment for the hefty bill Kasoundra now owed the hospital. As the year drew to a close, Kasoundra’s social worker, who was about to retire, was under pressure to dispose of her cases. Because Community Medicaid had not been set up, Kasoundra could neither return home nor move into Lott House, and her social worker decided to dispense with the problem by seeking a court-appointed guardian under Article 81. For this purpose, Kasoundra was given the short form of the R-Bans Mental Status Test, and the social worker said afterward that Kasoundra had performed poorly “on one component of the test.” On this flimsy basis, the hospital applied to the New York State Supreme Court for a court-ap-
pointed guardian. Since Kasoundra had been adopted and her adoptive parents had passed away, she had no one who could intercede on her behalf or halt the impending termination of her rights and ability to control her own destiny. The first guardianship hearing took place in December 2011. Although Kasoundra was never sent court papers (a procedural violation), she asked one of her friends to inform the judge’s clerk that she wanted a “trial by jury,” and that she did not want the “court evaluator” to have access to her medical records, if the evaluator was going to base a competency judgment on the results of the paltry mental status test. Kasoundra was legally entitled to both of these options, but her requests were ignored. At the hearing, one of Kasoundra’s friends offered to become her guardian, but the social worker spoke out against this prospect, and the judge decided to appoint a professional guardianship agency. Ironically, just before the hearing took place, Kasoundra’s latest liver test had come back “negative,” which meant that her medication would be discontinued and her sporadic grogginess would soon dissipate, which it subsequently did. But no doctor or social worker from the hospital brought up the results of Kasoundra’s latest liver test –– or its import –– at the hearing. In her ruling, Judge Visitacion-Lewis stipulated that Kasoundra should be returned home with appropriate homecare services provided, or, if that proved too difficult because of the stairs, Kasoundra should be placed in an assisted-living facility “in her community.” (Since Lott House was the only such facility that accepted Medicaid, it was not only the most desirable but also the only option.) The judge also stipulated that the guardian should confer on all important matters with Kasoundra and work closely with her friends to insure that her needs were met. None of the judge’s directives were followed. Kasoundra’s third problem was her guardian, Judah Samet of United Guardianship Services. Ignoring the judge’s orders, he promptly whisked Kasoundra to a nursing home in New Rochelle — far from her community and friends. Kasoundra was confined to a bed with a loud buzzer that went off every time she tried to get out of bed. She received no physical exercise, and soon her leg muscles began to atrophy. Even after her friends discovered where she was, they were unable to contact her because she had no working telephone. She remained isolated and alone for months. Finally one of her friends brought a psychiatrist to the nursing home to evaluate Kasoundra. He gave her a routine mental status test and determined that her cognitive functioning was normal. He saw no reason why she should not live at home if she wished to do so. But when this good news was communicated to the guardian, Samet said he was giving up Kasoundra’s apartment, and if her friends tried to interfere, he would take out an order of protection to prevent them from ever seeing Kasoundra again. He made no appointments for her at Lott House and, in fact, Kasoundra was a “no show” at two successive Lott House interviews that were set up by her supporters. Her friends became alarmed that the guardian intended to keep Kasoundra in the New Rochelle nursing home for the rest of her life. Even the nurses told Kasoundra that she didn’t belong there. KASOUNDRA, continued on p. 29 April 16, 2015
Stage faces eviction over alleged gas tampering 128 2ND AVE., continued from p. 1
April 16, 2015
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
ond Ave. for 35 years. Not only has the restaurant been closed for more than two weeks, but Icon Realty Management, the building’s owner, is accusing the Stage’s owner, Roman Diakun, of tampering with the building’s gas line, and issued him an eviction notice on April 13. Stage must vacate the space by April 30, according to Joe Goldsmith, a lawyer for Icon. Just days after the explosion, Con Edison shut off the gas line to 128 Second Ave. on March 29, as a safety precaution after a tenant reported smelling gas. On March 30, a city inspector visited the building and discovered a gas pipe and fittings without a permit and issued a stop-work order for work in the basement. For its part, Icon says that it never sent anyone to work on the gas line and believes that a Stage “employee or agent” was tampering with it. “We’ve uncovered a device installed without the owner’s knowledge or consent siphoning gas from Con Edison directly to the Stage Restaurant and bypassing Stage Restaurant’s meter,” Goldsmith said. “We’ve also ascertained that the gas pipe connected to Stage Restau-
Stage Restaurant, closed since March 28, is accused of gas siphoning and is facing eviction.
rant’s meter, and through which gas should be provided to Stage Restaurant, is not actually connected to anything.” Icon took action against Stage for what it called “unauthorized and dangerous alterations,” according to Goldsmith. The Villager contacted Diakun’s son Andrew Diakun, who was unable to comment because they are in discussions with a lawyer. Closed since March 28, Stage
Restaurant was already struggling to reopen in the disaster’s aftermath, and a petition was recently launched (https://www.change. org/p/stage-restaurant-to-reopen) by Andrew Diakun to help reopen it. The recent stop-work order and eviction notice against the restaurant follow more than a year of court battles involving several other tenants of No. 128 and the landlord after Icon purchased the building in October 2013. Tenants claimed that after Icon purchased it, the building’s condition has declined drastically. Fire-escape steps and railings are broken, an extra front door for security at the building’s entrance swings open and there’s excessive construction dust, they say. Fire alarms and windows are also broken throughout the building, according to several tenants who spoke to The Villager. Attorney Goldsmith, however, said the landlord is working on all the building repairs, but that the main concern right now is getting the gas working again. “Step one is to the get the gas turned on,” he said. “Unfortunately, with a building of this age, whenever the gas gets turned off, Con Edison has to come for a pressure test before they turn it back on,” he added. “These type of pipes, because of the age of the system, are not capable of holding the pressure required under current testing. Most of the pipes will have to be replaced.” Meanwhile, John Serdula, who heads the building’s tenants association, charged that Icon is trying to clear out one half of the building, whose tenants are still rent-controlled or rent-stabilized, in order to renovate and rent out apartments at a higher market value. “We always had heat and hot water,” Serdula said. “Once Icon took over, we didn’t have heat for a month and then longer. They’re try-
ing to drive people out.” Regarding the recent heat and hot water shutoff, Goldsmith said the landlord sent notice to tenants about temporary arrangements — including a boiler, hot plates and reimbursements of $200 per day and hotel-room stays — until all the services restored. However, Serdula said that these notices were sent only to tenants of the newly renovated apartments that rent for upward of $4,000. Hot plates for cooking were delivered to tenants on April 5. “They’re running a heating system that takes forever to heat up, trickling hot water,” said another tenant, Jonathan Jones. “Living here is such a negative feeling,” said Jones, founder of 2001Films, an East Village production company. Jones, who has lived in the building with his wife since 2009, has also been in and out of court with Icon for more than a year, and said he may have to move out by the end of this month. He claims that Icon has been trying to overturn his unit’s rent-stabilization status, saying that he owes more than $50,000 in back rent. Jones said he has always paid his rent on time and has proof, and that Icon’s claims stem from the fact that they did not have full access to the previous landlord’s rental records. Tenants were further concerned when, on April 3, Icon suddenly posted fire guards from Epic Security on each of the building’s six floors. “The guys were walking around standing by our door, saying really loudly, ‘We smell smoke. We smell smoke,’ ” Jones said. “First of all, we don’t know why they’re here. Maybe we should call 911 if there’s smoke.” Serdula spoke with other tenants, who were hearing the same thing. He called 911 and request for police and firefighters to respond, and they arrived moments later. There was no smoke or fire. Goldsmith said Icon hired the fire guards to help maintain some order in case of an emergency after D.O.B. notified them that there were some issues with the building’s fire escapes, and that they would want fire guards to be posted at the building until things were repaired. Goldsmith said most of the tenants are exaggerating conditions. “The reason that they’re being so vocal is retaliation against the landlord for bringing cases against them,” he said. “They’re total dirtbags,” countered Roman Kaniuga, who has lived in the building nearly 20 years. There is a broken step on the section of the fire escape outside his window. Tenants and Icon went to court on Tues., April 14. TheVillager.com
PHOTOS BY LU CHIH-LAN
Members of the 75 Morton Community Alliance outside the future middle school, including, back row, from left, state Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and C.E.C. District 2 President Shino Tanikawa.
Moving ahead on 75 Morton and Bleecker Street schools BY JEANNINE KIELY
hanks to a long list of parent advocates and elected officials who have led the charge for a new middle school in Greenwich Village since 2007, 75 Morton is scheduled to open in September 2017, in time for students currently enrolled in third grade. With an opening date for the school now on the horizon, Community Board 2’s goal is to set up 75 Morton for success through continued parent and community engagement. Parents can see plans for the 75 Morton Middle School on Mon., May 11, at 6:30 p.m, when the city’s School Construction Authority presents at a joint C.B. 2 / Community Education Council District 2 meeting at the L.G.B.T. Center, 208 W. 13th St., between Seventh and Eighth Aves. A 177,000-square-foot, seven-story handicap-accessible building, 75 Morton St. is undergoing a gut renovation led by The DeMatteis Organizations. In addition to classrooms, science labs, art and music rooms, school-wide facilities include a ground-floor lightfilled cafeteria, library, double-height “gymatorium” — combined gym, auditorium and theater — and an outdoor play yard. In fall 2015 and winter 2016, the 75 Morton Community Alliance, a volunteer group established by the community throughout C.E.C. 2, will lead a series of envisioning meetings for parents to provide input to the Department of Education about what type of middle school parents want to see at 75 Morton. The Community Alliance held similar meetings in the past, which helped establish that 75 Morton TheVillager.com
would be a singular middle school. In winter 2016, the D.O.E. Office of New Schools will formally create a new school Working Group, which will provide suggestions to D.O.E. about 75 Morton’s programming, admissions policy and more. In addition to parent representatives from the Community Alliance, the Working Group will include representatives from the C.E.C., Presidents’ Council, C.B. 2, local politicians, students, principals and teachers. If you would like to get more involved, please attend the May 11 C.B. 2 / C.E.C. 2 meeting or e-mail: 75Morton@gmail.com .
Bleecker School In December 2014, thanks to conversation and pressure from parents, C.B. 2 and elected officials, N.Y.U. agreed to extend an almost-expired Bleecker School deadline to Dec. 31, 2018. This extension gives the S.C.A. more time to include the Bleecker School in its capital plan and extends the construction start date to July 31, 2020. If this had not happened, the option to build a 100,0000-square-foot school would have expired by Dec. 31, 2014. The school is planned for the current Morton Williams supermarket site, at LaGuardia Place and Bleecker St. Going forward, C.B. 2 will collaborate with D.O.E. to make sure that the Bleecker School is funded through an amendment to the D.O.E. capital plan for fiscal years 2015-2019 and that our hard-won school is built as a public school for our community. Kiely is chairperson, C.B. 2 Schools and Education Committee April 16, 2015
Fighting against development, for schools, women BY DEBORAH GLICK
t has been a busy year both in the district and in Albany. We have achieved many victories, and are steps closer to others. I am excited that our lawsuit against the New York University 2031 development plan will be heard by the Court of Appeals this year. The lawsuit is centered on N.Y.U.’s illegal use of public land as part of the development plans. I hope that we prevail and will set the precedent that public land belongs to the public, not private developers. We have also made great strides in realizing a middle school at 75 Morton St. The city’s School Construction Authority has been hard at work in order to open the school by fall 2017. The 75 Morton St. Alliance, Community Board 2 and the Community Education Council, along with other parents and advocates, have also been diligently working to ensure that the school is not just built with the spaces the community wants, but also that the school, as run by the Department of Education, is the best it can be, and is an integral part of our neighborhood. It is night and day working with this administration compared to the Bloomberg era. The Department of
Education under Chancellor Farina is choosing to partner, not fight, with parents and the community on the development of new schools. This is a long-awaited, much-appreciated attitude. Furthermore, D.O.E. has made the selection process for middle school more advantageous to parents and students. Previously, new unopened schools were not on the original listing of middle school choices that parents use to select middle schools. Now, D.O.E. will include all real options, including those that will open by the school year, in the listing of options. This will help 75 Morton St. be a real option for parents and students as they make a decision
on middle school. In Albany, I am pleased that my Reproductive Health Bill passed the Assembly with bipartisan support. This bill would update New York State’s laws to make them in line with the federal protections granted under the Supreme Court decision, Roe v Wade. Currently, New York State’s laws do not protect a woman’s right to an abortion if her health is in danger, only her life. This bill corrects that. While the current makeup of the state Senate makes a vote on this bill unlikely, the Legislature’s composition is always subject to change as people retire, leave for other jobs or fall ill. I look forward to the day that New York takes necessary measures to protect the women of this state to allow them continued control over their own health decisions. Pressures to develop continue all over. One of the recent threats to our neighborhoods is a zoning text amendment currently under evaluation by the Department of City Planning that, among other things, would allow the height limits in all contextually rezoned neighborhoods, including landmarked districts, to increase. There are serious concerns with this proposal, which I have expressed to City Planning, and I strongly encourage everyone to write to City Planning
to request a slower, more thoughtful process. And, as we all know, just weeks ago, there was a gas explosion in the East Village that caused the collapse of three buildings while several others sustained serious damages. My condolences go out to the families and friends of the two young men who were killed by this tragedy. By the time of this printing, it is clear that the explosion is the result of illegal work on gas lines. I will continue to work with those who have been temporarily displaced both in the short term and long term by this disaster. There is a long way to go before those impacted will have recovered both emotionally and materially. If you would like to contribute to the residents or businesses impacted by the explosion, you can do so through the Mayor’s Fund, earmarked for “East Village Collapse,” at http://www.nyc.gov/ html/fund/html/projects/east-village-building-collapse.shtml. As always, I look forward to working with neighbors on their concerns. If you have any, you can reach my office at 212-674-5153. Glick is assemblymember, 66th District (West Village, Soho, Noho, Hudson Square, East Village, Tribeca, Civic Center)
Starting to bring homeless kids in from the cold BY BRAD HOYLMAN
magine sleeping on the streets this winter, one of the coldest on record. That’s been the bitter reality for hundreds of homeless children across New York State, who were turned away from shelters this year in record numbers because of overcrowding and forced to resort to desperate measures to stay warm. Since 2008, the number of annual instances of kids turned away from specialized youth shelters has skyrocketed by tenfold — from 573 to more than 5,000, according to the most recent data from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. This past winter alone, shelter providers across New York refused entry to at least 400 children because of a lack of beds. A 20-year-old I met recently — I’ll call him Frankie — is one of these kids. Kicked out of his aunt’s house because he’s gay, Frankie is part of the roaming group known to West Siders as “pier kids,” since they hang out along the Lower West Side waterfront in warm weather. Winter is brutal for them because of the shortage of youth shelter beds. The evening I met him, Frankie was preparing to
April 16, 2015
sleep on the basement floor of a dropin center of a church on Christopher St. while temperatures outside hovered below freezing. A cement floor beats a night in the cold. For those not as lucky as Frankie, turning tricks gives them a warm place to spend the night. This heartbreaking phenomenon, called “survival sex,” was highlighted in a report last month from the Urban Institute. As one teen forced into the sex trade by homelessness said in the report, “All I know is just that I was starving. I was hungry, I was cold, so I did it.” Up to a quarter of homeless youth in New York City have traded sex for shelter, according to experts. Johns can be seen perched outside youth shelters, waiting to solicit kids refused entry through shelter doors. As outrageous as this depravity is, the government response has been anemic. Since 2008, funding for New York’s homeless youth shelters has been cut from $6.3 million to $2.3 million — a 66 percent decrease, when accounting for inflation. There are positive signs. Mayor Bill de Blasio added 100 additional youth shelter beds to the city’s budget last year, including some exclusively for L.G.B.T. kids. His 2016 budget in-
cludes $3.4 million more for shelter beds and an additional $1.3 million in funding for similar initiatives. And there’s more good news. I’ve been proud to be part of a broad coalition of elected officials and advocates who have been championing more state funding for homeless youth. We launched a campaign at the start of the state budget cycle called #5000TooMany to reflect the number of times kids are turned away annually from shelters due to overcrowding. We held rallies, started petitions and even enlisted the support of singer Miley Cyrus, who sent a letter to Governor Cuomo and
legislative leaders in Albany that was viewed nearly a quarter million times on Instagram. Our efforts paid off. In this year’s budget, funding for homeless youth shelters increased appreciably for the first time since 2008, by more than $2 million, nearly double the funding. Hundreds of new youth beds can be created to alleviate overcrowding. The new funds will strengthen the social safety net, as well, for a variety of wraparound services that vulnerable street kids need, like H.I.V. testing, addiction counseling, mental health services and legal help. Shelters can also put kids on the pathway toward more permanent transitional housing, plus education and training opportunities to make them productive members of society, saving taxpayer money in the long run. More resources are needed in future years, but this year’s budget lays the foundation to begin to help kids like Frankie — homeless through no fault of their own — who are just looking to come in from the cold. Hoylman is state senator, 27th District (West Village, Hudson Square, Noho, East Village, Stuyvesant Town, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, Lincoln Square) TheVillager.com
Working hard for seniors and our local community BY MARGARET CHIN
ver the past year, my staff and I have remained hard at work on key issues affecting our local community. I’m also proud to have passed four pieces of important legislation in 2014, while continuing my efforts to support and empower senior citizens as chairperson of the City Council’s Committee on Aging. During the first half of last year, I sponsored and passed the legislation expanding paid sick leave — for businesses with five or more employees — that has made such a profoundly positive impact on working families all across our city. The City Council also quickly passed my legislation to provide tens of thousands of more seniors with a rent freeze by expanding the NYC Rent Freeze Program (also known as SCRIE). Later in 2014, the Council passed my legislation to strengthen the penalties against landlords who harass tenants, as well as my landmark legislation to create the first-ever oversight and regulatory enforcement of privately run social adult daycare centers, which serve some of our city’s most vulnerable seniors. As part of my work as Committee on Aging chairperson, I’m currently urging Mayor de Blasio to create a respon-
sible city budget for fiscal year 2016 — which will have to be approved in just a couple of months — by providing some necessary funding increases for senior services in our city. In last year’s budget, I was proud to work with the mayor and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to secure more than $20 million in new funding for the city’s Department for the Aging. After years of deep cuts
under previous mayoral administrations, this surge of new funding allowed DFTA to maintain and improve senior centers, expand Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) and do more to prevent elder abuse, among many other things. This year, I was deeply disappointed to find that the mayor did not continue those advances in his FY 2016 preliminary budget, and instead chose not to provide any new funding to DFTA. To me, this just means that I’ll have to work a little harder alongside Speaker Mark-Viverito and my Council colleagues to get the job done. In particular, my staff and I continue to work closely with Community Board 2 and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to address and push back against the troubling trend of oversized retail in Soho, which can damage the character of this outstanding historic area. Here’s a key example: In October 2014, working in tandem with C.B. 2 and Borough President Brewer, I successfully pushed a developer to withdraw their application for large-scale retail at 19 E. Houston St., as part of a larger land-use application. The resulting application passed by the Council that month, with my support, will allow the developer to construct
their planned commercial building at the site, while also keeping that development within the current context of the Soho Cast-Iron Historic District. Another important issue I’m working on now is the preservation of Soho’s Joint Living-Work Quarters for Artists (J.L.W.Q.A., or more commonly known as artist housing), as well as rent-stabilized housing all around the neighborhood. Along with C.B. 2 and the borough president, my staff and I have been able to gain information allowing us to fully document and better protect rent-stabilized units that would have otherwise been forgotten. We have also been successful in negotiating for the preservation of current zoning uses where developers had sought to remove artist housing units. If you ever have trouble with your landlord, if you’re concerned about retail development in your neighborhood, if you need to access city services, or if you just want to discuss any of my legislation or ideas you have, please give me a call or send me an e-mail, at 212-587-3159 or chin@ council.nyc.gov . Chin is city councilmember, District 1, (Washington Square, Soho, Lower East Side, Tribeca, Two Bridges, Battery Park City)
Building resiliency together BY DANIEL SQUADRON
he experience of Hurricane Sandy, the damage it caused and the vulnerability it showed, makes clear that there’s a lot of work to do to protect our waterfront communities from future disasters. Community involvement is a big part of pushing to ensure that the efforts make sense, both for resiliency and for the community over all. And the community’s involvement has already had concrete impacts. On the Lower East Side — after engagement with the community and advocacy groups like LES Ready! — $335 million has been committed for the development of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project. This project aims to protect parts of the Lower East Side from storms, while also connecting the community to recreational spaces. This is an opportunity to coordinate this needed resiliency funding with the $16 million I secured with Senator Schumer for the redevelopment of Pier 42 into a worldclass waterfront park. We can push this park forward even further by aligning this resiliency project’s goals with our long-term effort to get the park built. CommuTheVillager.com
nity involvement is key to this effort. In Lower Manhattan, we got a commitment of $14.75 million for Battery Park flood-protection design and implementation, and for comprehensive flood-protection planning below Montgomery St. and around the tip of Lower Manhattan to the West Side. We were only successful because of a collaborative effort, including elected officials, community boards, advocacy groups like the Downtown Alliance business improvement district and empowered residents. In addition, the Federal Emergency Management Agency committed $3 billion to the city to repair the New York City Housing Authority developments damaged by Sandy. The NYCHA community was engaged on resiliency before this commitment, and even-further engagement will help ensure these funds have a big impact. When everyday citizens come together to keep our community protected, we have a much better chance to make change. We can continue to protect ourselves and build our community — all at once. Squadron is state senator, 26th District (Lower Manhattan, Greenpoint, DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Governors Island)
Monday May 11, 2015 | 4:45 PM W New York – Union Square, Great Room 201 Park Avenue South at 17th Street RSVP required: www.USPAnnualMeeting.eventbrite.com
April 16, 2015
Park is also about education and entertainment BY MADELYN WILS
n June 20, hundreds of children from the New York City Housing Authority’s Chelsea Eliot and Fulton Houses will join their families in Hudson River Park. The youths will be showcasing their homemade water filters and plankton models at Maker Mania, the culmination of the Hudson River Park Trust’s month-long estuary engagement initiative in partnership with the Hudson Guild’s afterschool program. But June 20 is far from an unusual day in the park. After all, in 2014 alone, our Environment and Education Department hosted 450 free and low-cost programs for more than 23,500 people — a 50 percent increase from 2013. We’re incredibly proud of this programming, and it fulfills a critical part of our mission as stewards of one of the largest estuaries in the country. And it’s that astounding growth of those programs that helped make 2014 such a success for the Trust. Our environmental education work is often overshadowed by more big-ticket projects in the park. Those were, of course, headlined by Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg’s donation of more than $113 million toward the construction of a fantastic new public park-pier and performance space that will replace the aging Pier
Madelyn Wils in Hudson River Park.
54. This is the largest private donation to a public park in the history of New York City. We also announced that RXR Realty will join developer Youngwoo & Associates to transform the historic Pier 57, in Chelsea, into a major retail and office hub, with a “sky park” and improved adjacent esplanade. This development will provide important longterm funding for park maintenance and operations. But we don’t just build and fundraise in Hudson River Park. We educate. Much of that work, like our Maker Mania program, is geared toward students. Last year alone, we hosted
nearly 300 school and camp fieldtrips — with more than half coming from boroughs outside Manhattan — for programs ranging from advanced fish biology for middle and high school students to animal- and plant-based scavenger hunts for preschoolers. Beyond our student programs, we also host large-scale events to help park visitors actively engage with, and learn about, the park’s natural environment. On Oct. 5, more than 4,500 people from across the city — and beyond — attended Submerge, New York City’s first and largest marine science festival, on Pier 26, in Tribeca. The daylong program, held in partnership with the New York Hall of Science, provided a unique opportunity to engage directly with scientists to experience the cutting-edge science, technology and engineering research responsible for helping us understand our coastal environment. Soon, Pier 26 will take on a more permanent role as the hub of our environmental and scientific educational programming. That’s because we reached a deal in December to partner with Clarkson University, Hudson River Clearwater and New York Hall of Science, along with other research partners, to oversee a new estuarium — a research and education center focused on river ecology — on Pier 26. Beyond our educational offerings, summer brings more than 100 free and
low-cost events in the park — truly something for everyone. We’re particularly excited about several new summer events for 2015 that we hope will become community favorites alongside our concerts and movies. On June 17 and 18, we’ll host the first Hudson River Park Dance Festival, a free event that will feature three of the best contemporary dance companies in the world: the Paul Taylor Dance Company, which just completed its Lincoln Center engagement, along with David Parsons and Ballet Hispanico. And on June 13, our partner organization, Friends of Hudson River Park, will host the inaugural Hudson River Park Games, a fundraiser that will include a 36-team pentathlon with dodgeball, kayaking, beach volleyball, flag football and an obstacle course. So while it’s understandable that the headlines typically focus on the large-scale development of the park, it’s clearly important to remember the events we host for New Yorkers from all five boroughs, and the educational environment we work to foster in the park every day. From thousands of people at our concerts and science fair down to a single student examining a plankton under a microscope, it’s these accomplishments that really bring the park to life. Wils is president and C.E.O., Hudson River Park Trust
HealthPlex brings healthcare back to the Village BY ALEX HELLINGER
he Lenox Hill HealthPlex emergency department became the first freestanding emergency department in Manhattan when we opened our doors to the public on July 17, 2014. This has truly been a mission-driven endeavor. We were aware of the hardships that the community had to endure due to the closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital and we wanted to do our best to address the healthcare needs of the West Village. When we looked at developing an emergency department, we wanted to think out of the box and lead in a new era of healthcare services. We stepped back and took a fresh look at how healthcare services should be delivered, from the patient’s perspective. Being able to develop an emergency department from nothing and having the vast resources of the North ShoreLIJ Health System to make the vision a reality was an amazing feeling. Prior to opening our doors we held a dedication ceremony. We were joined by about 200 guests, including elected officials, such as Manhatttan Borough
April 16, 2015
President Gail Brewer, state Senators Brad Hoylman and Kemp Hannon, Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried and City Councilmember Corey Johnson, as well as representatives from Congressmember Jerrold Nadler’s office. There was a true sense that we were being welcomed into the community. Our emergency department (which is open 24/7/365 and cares for all patients regardless of their ability to pay) has seen more than 20,000 patients, of which roughly 50 percent have come to us via ambulance from the 911 system. We’ve administered clot-busting medications to patients with strokes. We’ve provided critical care to hundreds of patients with heart failure, COPD, aneurysms, respiratory failure, pneumonia, influenza, diabetes, allergic reactions and more. We’ve cared for hundreds of psychiatric patients and thousands of patients with drugor alcohol-related emergencies. We’ve sutured more than 1,000 lacerations — including hundreds that required plastic surgery. Should a patient require admission or transfer, we use our on-site advanced life-support ambulances to im-
Alex Hellinger on a floor in the HealthPlex being built out to house additional health services.
mediately move them to the hospital of their choice. We put our patients first and keep them at the center of everything we do. Our patient satisfaction scores are in the 97th percentile nationwide and the 99th percentile for the region. Here at Lenox Hill HealthPlex we believe in community. We have sponsored the Greenwich Village Little League, an L.G.B.T. Sports League and renovation of the L.G.B.T. Center. We have opened our doors for innumerable tours of the facility, free flu shots and CPR classes, and our staff has per-
formed health screenings at various health fairs. In addition to the emergency department, North Shore-LIJ Laboratories has opened a blood collection center on the first floor. This means that if you have a prescription to get your blood drawn, you can come to the HealthPlex without an appointment. As for what’s next, construction has begun on the building’s fourth and fifth floors. The fourth floor will house an outpatient imaging center with a full spectrum of radiology services. The fifth floor will be an outpatient surgery suite offering the highest quality outpatient surgery technology and clinical care. Construction will begin shortly on the sixth floor. This floor will consist of doctors’ offices and conference room space that will be available to the community. The expected opening for all of these services is first quarter of 2016. We will strive to make our medical services the best they can possibly be, and we will also continue to build our relationship with the community. Hellinger is executive director, Lenox Hill HealthPlex TheVillager.com
At crossroads of affordability vs. exclusivity BY COREY JOHNSON
ew York City is at a crossroads. With change happening all around us, the decisions we make today will affect New Yorkers for generations to come. Are we going to be a city of luxury housing, with part-time residents from around the globe, where only the very wealthy need apply? Or, are we going to remain a city of families, permanent residents who send their children to our public schools, volunteer at neighborhood events and contribute to the fabric of New York? This is an urgent discussion — and it requires immediate action. At the City Council we are directly confronting the issue of affordability, with a goal of preserving and creating hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units, many in Council District 3. And over the past several months, I am proud to have introduced multiple pieces of legislation that stand up against Big Real Estate and stand up for everyday New Yorkers. Every three years, New York City must declare a housing shortage emergency, which allows our rent-stabilization laws to be extended. I am the prime sponsor of this legislation in
2015, which was passed last month by the City Council and signed by Mayor de Blasio on March 30. Vacancy rates are at roughly 3.5 percent, a housing shortage that constitutes a threat to the citizens of New York City, and creates a special hardship to individuals and families who do not happen to be wealthy. This bill extends rent stabilization for another three years beginning on April 1, 2015. Now Albany must do its part. I and many others will be traveling to Albany this session to demand that our rent laws be strengthened. In February I introduced legislation calling for reforms at the Rent Guidelines Board, the nine-member body that determines how much landlords can raise the rent on rent-stabilized
tenants. Every year since its inception, the R.G.B. has raised rents, even when landlord expenses stayed flat. One reason for this is that the method currently used for determining these rent adjustments is faulty; the process favors the real estate interests and it must be replaced. In short, the data shows that the R.G.B. typically overestimates landlords’ expenses by as much as one-third! The method also doesn’t take landlords’ profits into account. The reforms proposed, if adopted, would give tenants a fighting chance against the real estate industry. In June, the guidelines board votes again and I hope you will join us in advocating not for just a rent freeze, but for a rent rollback — a rent reduction for rent-stabilized tenants. If you’re like me, you’re shocked by the fact that it is perfectly legal for a luxury housing developer to hoist a sign saying that affordable housing tenants are not welcome to enter a gym, pool or green space in their own building. This is discrimination, plain and simple, and it is inconsistent with our values. Soon, I believe, it will be inconsistent with the law. In March I introduced legislation that would bar developers from discriminating against affordable housing tenants in the use of building amenities. Follow-
ing instances in which rent-stabilized tenants were prohibited from accessing gyms, play rooms, pools and other amenities in their own buildings, my legislation would require developers and building managers to provide equal access to such facilities. It’s the right thing to do. Pressing forward, the Council will continue to use every tool at our disposal to preserve affordability, including passing legislation that would establish the right to counsel for tenants who are taken to Housing Court by their landlord. I will continue to leverage the land-use decisions that cross my desk to create more affordable housing, while also fighting to preserve the hard-won contextual zoning districts that protect the character of our neighborhoods. As your councilmember, I am here to help. You can contact my district office at (212) 564-7757 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Mondays to Fridays. Please visit my newly launched Web site, www.coreyjohnson.nyc, for information on my other legislative initiatives and for real-time updates from my office. Johnson is city councilmember, District 3 (West Village, Hudson Square, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen)
Lois Rakoff, Community Director of the Poe Room, and NYU present:
CASTING LIGHT ON EDGAR ALLAN POE Friday, April 24, 2015 6:00 - 8:00 PM NYU School of Law 245 Sullivan Street Furman Hall, Room 216 (Between West 3rd and Washington Square South)
Join local artists and members of the community for an evening of entertainment that will illuminate Poe’s work and legacy through a variety of creative works. A reception will follow in the Poe Room. “Casting Light on Edgar Allan Poe” is free and open to the public and an RSVP is required. RSVP today at www.nyu.edu/nyu-in-nyc or 212-998-2400.
Community members and NYU come together and partner on the Poe Room event each fall and spring. For more information about other events, visit www.nyu.edu/nyu-in-nyc. TheVillager.com
April 16, 2015
Amid many frustrations, one shining celebration BY KEEN BERGER
ith so many political problems — among them, locally, fracking and healthcare; nationally, police and income disparities; internationally, Iran and Israel — I am often frustrated. I want to make things right; that is what district leaders are supposed to do. Yet, apart from attending an occasional rally, I am doing nothing on these problems. I try to remember that I am one of two unpaid district leaders for a small piece of Manhattan. With 6 billion people on Earth, but just 30,000 registered Democrats in the 66th Assembly District, Part A, I cannot make everything right by myself. Moreover, thousands of local people (including you, dear reader) are working on these issues. I can only do a small part, I must focus. When I was elected district leader, I chose three concerns, a local one, a national one and an international one — namely, public schools, Election Day processes and immigration. My progress report is about those three. The other reports in The Villager this week will show that hundreds of people are working on dozens of other issues. On public schools, the great news
is that our new middle school, 75 Morton, which was called “dead in the water” five years ago, will open for hundreds of students in September 2017. This coming Mon., May 11, at 6:30 p.m., the School Construction Authority will show the plans to the community. Everyone can come. It will be at the L.G.B.T. Center, on W. 13th St., between Seventh and Eighth Aves. The school’s design is beautiful. The 75 Morton Alliance, the Community Board 2 Education Committee and local politicians Corey Johnson, Brad Hoylman and Deborah Glick are shepherding, advocating and deciding with great success. The latest victory: retractable seating, so the that the gym and theater can both be used every day. There is much more to be done for 75 Morton, including getting a visionary, powerful and practical principal by September 2016. But I am thrilled at the rise of this phoenix and grateful for hundreds of parents. On the other hand, I’m sad that Governor Andrew Cuomo is so wrong, and furious at Eva Moskowitz. I want to tell those two that the tests are more harmful than helpful, that charters steal from our children, that Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina knows far more than they do. When Andrew and Eva see our world-class middle
school, maybe they will learn. On elections, there’s some good news. We four district leaders in the 66th A.D. had an open process to select our state committeeman to replace Alan Schulkin, who is now Manhattan’s Democratic Board of Elections commissioner. We chose Buxton Midyette to join state Committeewoman Rachel Lavine in representing us statewide. I have high
hopes for all three. We also have a new deputy for Manhattan elections, William Anthony Allen. I haven’t met him, so only have vague hopes so far. Lots more needs to be done. If anyone is a registered Democrat and wants to be a poll worker ($200 for making democracy work for one very long day), e-mail me at Keen5@ ix.netcom.com. As for immigration, this is the most frustrating of my triad. Locally, there have been some victories. Working with New Sanctuary, we got “ICE out of Rikers,” we saved some people from deportation, and we accompanied some undocumented immigrants to their hearings. But there’s no DREAM Act yet in New York State, national policy is a disaster and literally millions of immigrants in our nation are threatened. I want to understand how our nation of immigrants became so anti-immigrant. If I understood it, I could change it. Back to the first paragraph — that is what a district leader does: change things! Progress is much smaller, slower and more limited than I want, but I am on it. I am not always frustrated. Come on May 11 to celebrate with me! Berger is Democratic district leader, 66th Assembly District, Part A (Greenwich Village)
Zephyr, fracking, mom-and-pops...what a year! BY NADINE HOFFMANN
he Village Independent Democrats had a hectic 2014 leading into an exciting 2015. V.I.D. was the first Democratic club to endorse, and campaign for, the Zephyr Teachout-Tim Wu ticket in the 2014 Democratic primary for governor. Although losing to Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul, Zephyr and Tim romped in Greenwich Village and did astonishingly well statewide. Many in the community believe that Governor Cuomo’s decision to finally ban fracking in New York State was influenced by Teachout’s strong opposition to it, as well as her surprising strength in the primary. In March, V.I.D. co-sponsored, along with The Villager, “Solutions to Save Our Small Businesses,” a forum to discuss strategies for saving small businesses in the East and West Village. Sharon Woolums, a V.I.D. member, has been pursuing this issue for more than two years, and after coverage by The Villager and the success of the forum, the issue has gathered even more momentum. V.I.D. members will be out on the streets collecting signatures in support of the
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Small Business Job Survival Act, currently stalled in the City Council. Hopefully, other organizations and Democratic clubs will join in the effort. Will the bill get passed? Who knows? But our efforts are a prod. V.I.D. is a signatory in the campaign to veto a bill that would create a liquefied natural gas facility at Port Ambrose, off the coast of Jones Beach, and close to our three major airports. It is scheduled to be constructed in an area originally slated be a wind farm.
Liquified natural gas is natural gas that has been super-chilled, turning it into a liquid, so that large volumes can be shipped in tankers that are as long as the Empire State Building is tall. As a result of the Marine Maritime Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard receiving more than 62,000 letters from environmental groups, there will be a longer period of review before a final Environmental Impact Statement will be released. That’s a good start. In order to stop Port Ambrose, pressure must be exerted on Governors Cuomo and Chris Christie to veto this project. V.I.D. took part in a rally, “Veto Port Ambrose,” on Mon., April 13, outside of the Harvard Club, where Cuomo will be speaking. Will it help? Who knows? But 62,000 comments had an impact. Maybe a rally will add another step. V.I.D. District Leader Keen Berger was a founding member of the 75 Morton St. Task Force, the group that plodded along for seven years to finally turn 75 Morton St. into a middle school for the neighborhood. And now the task force is looking at plans for a wonderful new school, currently planned to enroll its first
class in September 2017. Does community involvement help? It sure did! V.I.D. is a co-sponsor of Candles for Clemency, a campaign to pressure Cuomo to begin issuing clemencies for carefully vetted people in prison. Working with the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, several political clubs, progressive organizations and celebrities were encouraged to join the campaign. The cornerstone of the effort was a rally and candlelight vigil in September on the front lawn of the governor’s home in Westchester. Almost 200 people holding candles walked quietly to Cuomo’s home and stood there solemnly for 15 minutes. If clemencies are not initiated in May, another, larger rally and candlelight vigil will take place on June 13. Will these actions help? Who knows? But it is a step forward. Over all, it has been a productive time for the Village Independent Democrats. If you would like to learn more, follow us on www.villageindependentdemocrats.org . Hoffmann is president, Village Independent Democrats TheVillager.com
Funding challenges in a new political landscape BY PAUL NEWELL
or the past two decades, Lower Manhattan’s impressive network of nonprofits and social service organizations has benefitted from representation at the highest levels of New York State government. That era appears to be at an end. It is essential that we find new and creative ways to fund these programs. Equally crucial is that we advocate for a better and more equitable funding system for the future. Though many of us recognized the system’s flaws, having our assemblymember as one of the “Three Men in a Room” has brought significant tangible benefits to our community. That dynamic has already begun to change as new leadership in the Assembly prioritizes other needs and other communities. Vital institutions like Gouverneur Health, venerable century-old settlement houses and Manhattan Youth, as well as smaller community groups, are rightfully concerned. Changes in Albany could lead to the loss of important programs, contracts and revenue. Indeed, the Lower East Side-based Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty — one of the largest
social service agencies in the city — is likely to disband this year. Surviving these changes — and growing through them — will be one of the premier challenges facing Lower Manhattan in the years ahead. In the short term, there will be hard work and hard choices. Leaders like state Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Brian Kavanagh, and Councilmembers Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez will have to redouble their efforts and advocacy. Unfortunately, stingy Republican leadership makes
it unlikely that Congress will step into the gap. One key area where the feds must be pushed is on long-term storm resiliency for Lower Manhattan and New York Harbor. Most of our community organizations will have to significantly step up their efforts to secure private and foundation funding — a process that many of them are already engaged in. Where shortfalls remain — and some will — organizations may have to consolidate services and, in some cases, cut them back. This will involve real pain for our neighbors and for these groups’ dedicated staffs. Fortunately, we still have a great deal going for us in Lower Manhattan. As one of the world’s most dynamic communities, located in the heart of our nation’s economic engine, the importance of a thriving Lower Manhattan cannot be denied by leadership in Albany or Washington. Leveraging these strengths will require energetic advocacy and innovative solutions. We will have to persuade the dozens of Fortune 500 companies based in our neighborhood that the continuing health of the surrounding community is in their interest. We’re also going to have to be more creative in how we
work with real estate developers to support local programs. One coming test of this will be securing the South St. Seaport Museum’s sustainable operation plan without compromising the historic character of the district. So, there will be pain, but there will also be solutions. Lower Manhattanites have time and again proven ourselves resilient, and this time will be no different. As we go forward, this must also become an opportunity to push for a better model of social service funding for all New Yorkers. Our current pickle is yet more evidence that allocating government resources based on who sits in what chair in Albany is arbitrary, irrational and poor policy. An even playing field — where social service funds are distributed to organizations based on community needs and provable outcomes — will serve Lower Manhattan and all of New York far better over the long term. Many of us have long known this. Now it is in our neighborhood’s interest to fight for it. Newell is Democratic district leader, 65th Assembly District, Part C (Lower East Side, East Village, Financial District, Battery Park City, Seaport, Little Italy, Nolita, Soho)
Paving the way toward community sustainability BY ELLEN BAER
s we approach our six-year anniversary, the Hudson Square Connection business improvement district is working harder than ever to make sure our neighborhood reflects the creative energy and commitment of the people who come here every day. To that end, we have several major projects in the works, which, when taken together, will make our neighborhood a model of urban sustainability. This year, the Connection, with our architects Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects and our partners at the city’s Parks Department, received the Best New Urban Amenity Award from the Municipal Art Society for creating the Hudson Square Standard, a platinum model for urban forestry that reimagines the potential for urban sidewalks and tree planting. Unveiled in 2012 as part of “Hudson Square Is Now” — our five-year, $27 million streetscape improvement plan — the Standard reimagines the potential for urban sidewalks by making small changes to streets’ design and structure that can yield major environmental and health benTheVillager.com
efits. Its innovation is best observed below the ground, where trees are planted in expanded subterranean plots to give their roots more room to grow. Bordered by tree guards, the plots are surrounded by permeable pavers over layers of structural soil that absorb and retain excess storm water — critical to relieving the city’s overburdened sewer system and mitigating flooding. With our contribution of $1.2 million to Parks and the New York Tree Trust, we have taken on the ambitious goal of planting and retrofitting 300 trees throughout the neighborhood over the course of a three-year period using the Standard design. To date, we have planted 80 trees, retrofitted another 58 and installed 5,200 square feet of permeable pavement throughout the neighborhood, which was previously comprised of impervious surfaces subject to combined sewer overflow after heavy rain. In addition, the Connection and the city are engaged in a public-private partnership for the $6 million renovation of the public space at the intersection of Spring St. and Sixth Ave. a.k.a. Soho Square. Our design will increase the number of healthy trees on the site from 36 to 42 using the Hudson Square Stan-
dard, which will, in turn, increase the park’s permeable surface by 27.5 percent, capturing 79.5 percent more storm water. The new park’s additional benefits will include a drinking fountain; four solar-powered compactors for waste and recycling; distinctive, energy-efficient lighting that will provide a safe, inviting atmosphere; and ample seating, with 120 moveable chairs, 29 moveable tables, 24 benches and 20 swivel chairs that will feature a unique design that
will be a first in the city’s parks. We anticipate breaking ground on the project in spring 2016. When our entire streetscape plan is complete, the Standard will produce some very impressive figures on an annual basis for our community: 2,480,700 gallons of storm water will be captured (equal to the amount of water used by 25 residences a year); 132,000 pounds of carbon dioxide will be reduced from the atmosphere (equal to 34 round-trip flights between New York City and Los Angeles); and 15,300 pounds of oxygen will be produced (equal to the amount of oxygen consumed by 40 people a year). The trees and plantings will also make Hudson Square six degrees cooler than it is today. Decades ago, when this area was the Printing District, our streets were for trucks and our sidewalks were for loading and unloading. We look forward to improving upon the quality of life for our workers and residents alike as we continue to beautify our public spaces, enhance the retail environment and create a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood — a place for people. Baer is president and C.E.O., Hudson Square Connection April 16, 2015
Pols, coalition feel burned on pavilion eatery PAVILION, continued from p. 1
April 16, 2015
wait for opening day of their second season,” she said in a statement on Mon, April 13. “The operators have been wonderful community partners and the Union Square Partnership is particularly excited about the efforts we will be partnering with them on again this year, which include free children’s programming on Tuesdays, a special Memorial Day luncheon for our local veterans, and a donation in honor of their opening day to benefit another terrific local nonprofit, Graham Windham.” The restaurant will donate 1 percent of opening day sales to the nonprofit, which works to create supportive environments for youth. The eatery’s season will run through Oct. 15. It will serve lunch and breakfast every day, and reportedly brunch on weekends. Last year, plans for breakfast fizzled due to low business. Working with the Partnership, Chef Driven Market, during 24 weeks from last May through October, providing some public programming for the community. Called Tuesdays@ThePavilion, a weekly program offered free arts-and-crafts sessions for children inside the restaurant. More than 300 children and their parents reportedly participated. The pavilion will offer the program again this season. Last October, however, a Department of Parks spokesperson told The Villager that the city would be “evaluating” whether or not the bistro would be back inside the former historic bandstand for a second season. Members of the Union Square Community Coalition have fought the city’s plan for commercial use of the pavilion for the past 10 years. They filed a lawsuit, arguing the use violated the concept of “alienation,” under which the state Legislature must first remove — or “alienate’’ — property from being public parkland before it can be put to a different purpose. But the city prevailed in court. Last Thursday, seven elected officials e-mailed a joint letter to Mayor de Blasio, urging him to boot the bistro onto the blacktop, just as they thought the administration, in their talks last April, had agreed to do. Signing the letter were Assemblymembers Gottfried and Deborah Glick, state Senators Krueger and Brad Hoylman, Councilmember Corey Johnson, Borough President Gale Brewer and Congressmember Carolyn Maloney. The politicians wrote in concern to de Blasio that they had heard he was “pulling back” from his commitments both to push the restaurant out
A worker setting up the Pavilion Market Cafe’s outdoor area last October. The restaurant is returning for a second season inside the pavilion.
of the pavilion and to dedicate the structure to use for year-round public programming. The pols said they heard the reason for this reversal was “due to difficulties of operating a restaurant on the plaza.” However, they noted, “This is not about the restaurant operator’s convenience” but about parks being for public use. “We believe that parkland is sacred,” the seven declared in their letter to de Blasio. “We ask for the city Parks Department to reclaim the pavilion for the community’s use 365 days a year. We urge you to stand by the principle that parks are for the people, not meant to be cash cows.” According to a source, Chef Driven Market Union Square — its seasonal pavilion cafe, plus its year-round kiosk in the park — is projected to rake in $3 million in revenue in its first full year of operation, with $300,000 of that going into the city’s coffers. Helping generate that green were high-priced items on last year’s menu, including the likes of whole Branzano ($28.50) and organic Salmon pot au feu ($22.95) The place will also reportedly employ 100 people. Jack Taylor, a U.S.C.C. board member, said it definitely sounds to him like there was an agreement in place, but that it wasn’t upheld. “I think when seven elected officials make the accusation that the mayor is going back on his stated commitment, the seven elected officials must know what they’re talking about,” he said. The pavilion was built in 1930, originally designed as a bandstand, noted Taylor, who is a leading local preservationist. “It was a prime feature for the mass protests and demonstrations on the
north plaza,” he said of the pavilion. “It played a number of roles, but never as a cash cow — until Bloomberg came along.” The pavilion concession plan was hatched under former Mayor Bloomberg. De Blasio actually had opposed the plan as public advocate. Bill Borock, another U.S.C.C. board member, said four members of the group — himself, Carol Greitzer, Geoffrey Croft and Eadie Shanker — met with new Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver last year at the Arsenal to check on the pavilion’s status, but that Silver, noting he was new to the job, was noncommittal. “Shortly after that, Gottfried and Krueger put out newsletters saying the restaurant would be kicked out onto the plaza,” Borock said. “Then, all of a sudden, Bill Castro [the Manhattan borough Parks commissioner] calls Carol Greitzer up and says, ‘It didn’t work out. The restaurant is going back in the pavilion.’ ” On Wed., April 8, Silver spoke at a meeting of the Chelsea Waterside Park Association, at which Borock again asked about the pavilion. “We said we feel that the pavilion should be used for the community,” said Borock, who heads the Council of Chelsea Block Associations. “Silver’s answer was that there was no agreement. I said we had heard there was a verbal agreement.” Gottfried also attended the meeting, but wasn’t there at the same time as Silver. At the meeting, Borock updated the assemblymember on what the Parks commissioner had just said. “Gottfried said it was a verbal agreement but they never put it in writing,” Borock said. The next day, the seven politicians fired off their joint letter to the mayor. Based on the presumed oral O.K.
from City Hall, Borock said, U.S.C.C. had been busily planning community uses for the pavilion — which the coalition planned to fund on its own. “We were talking about having programs there with senior citizens from the Andrew Stein Center,” he said. “There’s a school for the deaf in the area. There’s a group, Story Pirates, that could do programs for deaf kids. “It’s frustrating and disheartening,” Borock said of the bistro aboutface, “especially when you see all the restaurants around the park, and we don’t have services for the community. We know the city needs money. But there needs to be a balance.” In a statement however, the Parks Department said it simply wasn’t feasible to relocate the restaurant outside onto the pavement. “NYC Parks’ decision to allow the pavilion restaurant to remain inside the building and on a small portion of the plaza, rather than [fully] on the plaza, was driven by concern for public convenience,” the statement said. “Although Parks initially intended to negotiate moving the restaurant entirely onto the plaza starting in 2015, after a review of the restaurant’s operations in the first season, the city determined that relocation was not feasible. “The altered footprint,” the statement added, “would have a number of significantly negative impacts on New Yorkers’ use of Union Square, forcing pedestrians to walk through the playground to access the pavilion, potentially impacting the safety of children in the playground and their use of it. Further, a move to the plaza would encroach on the Union Square Greenmarket, increase sidewalk congestion, eliminate emergency vehicle access lanes and negatively impact ADA access.” In addition to the Tuesdays@The Pavilion crafts session and fitness and holiday programming offered by the Partnership, Parks is adding an additional day of programming during the restaurant’s operating season, with free Shape-Up group exercise classes in the pavilion. Parks will keep the pavilion open and accessible to the community from November to March, when the restaurant is not in operation. A BID spokesperson said, “The Union Square Partnership hosts over 100 events over the summer months each year, including fitness classes, children’s programming, music, dance and interactive community events. The Partnership would discuss opportunities to further enliven the park with anyone who can offer credible ideas and partner to fund them. This includes discussing ideas for additional programing of the pavilion during the off season.” TheVillager.com
Two Sure Things, Sight Unseen
Have faith in these Tribeca Film Fest selections
COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES CLASSICS
L to R: Sage (Julia Garner) and Elle Reid (Lily Tomlin) in “Grandma.”
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
GRANDMA Take the well-traveled but reliable road trip formula, place Lily Tomlin behind the wheel of a vintage Dodge, put Paul Weitz in the director’s chair and charge him with helming his own screenplay. That’s reason enough for us to place this comedy-drama at the top of our sight unseen, must-see list. Tomlin — who excels at playing difficult people redeemed by a sharp tongue and a sympathetic spark — stars as an “acerbic aging poet” still pining for her deceased partner and freshly burnt from a bad romance. Onto the back burner her own problems go when teenage granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) arrives, desperate for $600 and in need of grandma’s wheels. So off they ride, all around town, in a daylong quest to raise the funds. Laverne Cox, Sam Elliott and Marcia Gay Harden are TheVillager.com
among the supporting cast of old friends and flames, each with a secret to keep or tell. Mon., 4/20, 9:30pm at BMCC Tribeca PAC (199 Chambers St. btw. Greenwich & West Sts.). Tues., 4/21, 6:30pm, at Regal Cinemas Battery Park (102 North End Ave. at Vesey St.). Tickets: $18 ($3.50 phone & web reservation fee). Visit tribecafilm.com/festival or call 646-502-5296.
MAGGIE Love him or hate him — as an actor, husband or governor — you can’t say you weren’t warned. This summer, the man who ushered a thick Austrian-accented “I’ll be back” into the American lexicon makes good on that promise, yet again, when Arnold Schwarzenegger returns with another “Terminator” installment. We need another one of those like we need another zombie film. And we mean that — if
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Wade and Abigail Breslin as the titular character in “Maggie.”
the zombie film in question has as much potential to bring new life to the walking dead as “Maggie” does. Before he hits the screens as a cyborg this July, Schwarzenegger can be seen at the Tribeca Film Festival — playing dedicated dad Wade, who makes his way through the outbreak’s neighbor-against-neighbor chaos to check his infected daughter out of the hospital and back to a picturesque Midwest farm. Henry Hobson makes his feature film debut, with a “quietly observant yet thrilling approach” to the zombie genre. Betting on his inner strength to save the day as Maggie’s progressive disease turns her into a
ravenous and powerful threat, Wade attempts to guide her through that difficult age where kids care more about eating brains and ripping flesh than hitting the books and obeying curfew. Wed., 4/22, 6pm at BMCC Tribeca PAC (199 Chambers St. btw. Greenwich & West Sts.). Thurs., 4/23, 9:15pm & Sat., 4/25, 9:30pm at Regal Cinemas Battery Park (102 North End Ave. at Vesey St.). Tickets: $18 ($3.50 phone & web reservation fee). Visit tribecafilm. com/festival or call 646-502-5296. On May 8, “Maggie” begins its theatrical run and becomes available On Demand.
April 16, 2015
Black and White and Deep All Over ‘Cronies’ is a confident, layered debut from Michael J. Larnell TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW CRONIES Written, Directed, Edited & Produced by Michael J. Larnell Runtime: 85 minutes Wed., 4/22, 6:15pm & Sat., 4/25, 8:30pm at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea (260 W. 23rd St. btw. 7th & 8th Aves.) PHOTO BY CRISTIAN CARRETERO
Fri., 4/24, 6:45pm & Sun., 4/26, 2pm at Regal Cinemas Battery Park (102 North End Ave. at Vesey St.) $18 ($3.50 phone & web reservation fee) Visit tribecafilm.com/festival or call 646-502-5296
L to R: Zurich Buckner (Jack), George Sample III (Louis) and Brian Kowalski (Andrew).
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
satisfying mix of documentary-style interviews, contemporary scenes, childhood flashbacks and music by local artists, this St. Louis-set film is as sharp and compelling as its two-color palette. Writer, producer, editor and director Michael J. Larnell juggles a multitude of obligations with far more success than his onscreen alter egos…or so it seems, at first. Slow to reveal the hidden depths of its characters, Larnell’s feature film debut — expertly shot in
April 16, 2015
crisp black and white by Federico M. Cesca — explores red meat matters of growth and stagnation, as three young men bond over the course of a 24-hour quest. It begins early on a day that’s already reached 93 degrees, with a web series host hyping his show from 82.0 on your radio dial. This week, the town’s roving oral historian will check back in with “a special group of guys who were involved in a very tragic accident a little over ten years ago.” Where are they now, he wonders, and are they still friends? As engines go, it’s a powerful driving force for the next 85 minutes — whose events, we’re quick to realize, have already happened. This puts
us one up on the trio, each of whom take actions that would be ill-advised if they had our grasp of the big picture…or so it seems, at first. There’s that phrase again, and it’s what gives “Cronies” enough chewy marrow to upgrade it from a well-done buddy movie to something that aims, and reaches, much higher. A vow to raise cash for his daughter’s birthday gift, and ultimately rise above his job washing cars, is what motivates “cool-ass nerd” Louis Johnson (George Sample III, channeling the ‘80s look of executive producer Spike Lee, but trading Mars Blackmon’s hyperactive bluster for introspective stares). When a clingy childhood pal arrives expecting to light one up and hang out, Jack (Zurich Buckner) suffers back-to-back indignities: first by having the front door shut in his face, then by encountering Louis’ new (corn-fed white!) friend from work, Andrew (Brian Kowalski). Marking territory he’s already lost but refuses to cede, Jack inserts himself into their plans by taking the back seat position in Andrew’s jeep. Now the stage is set for a day’s worth of carnal pursuits, recreational drugging and unexpected detours. With Jack and Andrew busy trading jabs in the custody battle for Louis, the object of their affections is slowly coming to regard his small world as
a relic of the past. This makes Jack a victim of his friend’s personal growth, especially when the jilted buddy casually reveals the details of that “tragic accident” as a way to one-up everything Andrew has to offer. What Jack regards as ultimate proof of their bond, Louis sees as a betrayal — but soon, he’ll have real trouble diverting from his high ground long enough to tell the difference between a bid for redemption and an act of loyalty. “I don’t see myself livin’ life without you,” Jack tells him. It’s the best of several sparse, quiet, well-written and wonderfully underplayed scenes during which Larnell uses old and new relationships to investigate the tense complexity of platonic love among men. After failing to muster the sort of courage that flows from Jack (easily and often), Louis sees his old pal in a new light. A comfortable truce appears to set in, made believable by an ensemble of actors who know when to pour it on or hold back. When both are invited into Louis’ house, only Andrew accepts. Jack stays behind and, seemingly in anger, walks out of the frame — but it’s what happens next that will leave you contemplating which of the three best embodies the definition of a true crony, fed to us during the film’s early frames: “a close friend or companion.”
Different People in a Common Pursuit ‘Autism’ plumbs the mysteries of human endeavor TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW AUTISM IN LOVE Directed by Matt Fuller Documentary Runtime: 75 minutes Thurs., 4/16, 5:30pm at Regal Cinemas Battery Park (102 North End Ave. at Vesey St.) PHOTO BY SCOTT UHLFELDER
Fri., 4/17, 5:30pm & Sat., 4/18, 6:30pm & Tues., 4/21, 3:30pm at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea (260 W. 23rd St. btw. 7th & 8th Aves.) $18 ($3.50 phone & web reservation fee) Visit tribecafilm.com/festival or call 646-502-5296
BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN
n March of 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new, alarming statistic. In the United States, one in every 68 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. That is nearly twice as many as reported in 2000. Current studies question whether autism is an unfortunate bi-product of modern immunizations, dietary shifts or genetic mutations, or whether our heightened awareness and knowledge have caused this
The next logical step? Lindsey and David, a couple for several years, are on the verge of considering marriage.
rapid increase in diagnosis. While much debate can be traced through the media these days, Matt Fuller’s spectacular film covers a less prominent aspect within this subject. “Autism in Love” explores the lives of four autistic adults as they pursue and manage romantic relationships. There is the twentysomething Lenny, who lives at home with his mother. While searching for the perfect woman, Lenny is battling various insecurities rooted in his obviously being “different” and not having been able to follow his friends to college and pursue a higher education. We also get to know Lindsey and David, who have been a couple for several years and who
are on the verge of considering marriage. It’s the logical next step to cement their union, and an especially important one to Lindsey. Finally, Fuller introduces Stephen, who had to face the loss of his wife and best friend due to cancer. The manifestations of autism affect everyone differently and Fuller’s film reflects this beautifully. In contrast to Stephen, for example, who works in manual labor and whose communication is abrupt and pedantic, Lindsey is highly reflective and insightful about her emotions and condition. She also is a classically trained pianist. No matter how different, Fuller succeeds in portraying all his sub-
jects with both respect and tender compassion. This is largely achieved through the words and gestures of the individuals portrayed, as well as through added reflections by some of their parents. This feature-length documentary doesn’t employ a narrator’s voice-over guide, nor do we hear the filmmaker’s prompting questions. Instead, the structure is somewhat loose and, like love, unpredictable. Though we rhythmically move from one individual’s contemplations and story to the next (and back around), the various portraits feel intuitive. This film is made of a series of conversations, but we only get to follow the interviewee’s side. Because there is no overall narrative, we stumble upon surprising facts slowly, each aiding in building the viewer’s compassion for the subjects. Autism remains a broad label for a vast spectrum of afflictions. Though it’s widely discussed, much remains unknown. If one looks up the term on Wikipedia, one reads: “Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication.” If you look up the definition of love on the same site, for example, you will find: “Love is a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes that ranges from interpersonal affection to pleasure.” These two descriptions seem incompatible with each other. However, by looking at Fuller’s four well-nuanced portraits, “Autism in Love” reveals that things are hardly this simple. The human endeavor is a mysterious one, and love most certainly so. This applies to all of us, no matter what our exterior and interior struggles.
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April 16, 2015
‘Far From Men’ Cuts Close to the Bone A journey through rugged terrain becomes a battle of wills TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW PHOTO COURTESY TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL
FAR FROM MEN
BY RANIA RICHARDSON
n a spare tale that considers the futility of neutrality during wartime, writer/director David Oelhoffen’s “Far From Men” (Loin des Hommes) is an absorbing look at the nascent Algerian War for Independence in the 1950s. Daru (Viggo Mortensen), an Algerian-born Frenchman, and Mohamed (Reda Kateb), his Arab charge who is due to stand trial for murder, find themselves paired unwittingly for an expedition through the desolate French-occupied North African country. Daru was a Major in the French army before turning to a reclusive life teaching language, history and geography to local Arab children in
In 1954 Algeria, Mohamed and Daru (L–R, Reda Kateb and Viggo Mortensen) attempt to act with honor based on codes from their own traditions.
a one-room French school. In this conflict-laden environment, education could be the key to uplifting their young lives. Bound by ropes, Mohammed is brought to the schoolhouse by officials with orders that Daru must escort him to the authorities in Tinguit, where he will likely be sentenced to death. Daru’s resistance to the task marks his refusal to be implicated, until he is left with no choice. What could have been a straightforward journey through
rugged terrain becomes a battle of wills and morals, as the two men attempt to act with honor based on codes from their own traditions. Subtle but powerful performances by a steely Mortensen and a languid Kateb elevate the film, along with handsome cinematography by Guillaume Deffontaines and a minimalistic score by Nick Cave and his frequent collaborator, Warren Ellis. Mortensen, a well-known polyglot, speaks convincing French and Arabic.
(In his recent turn in “Juaja,” we hear him speaking Spanish and Danish.) Inspired by “The Guest,” a short story by Albert Camus, the tale examines the idea of “the other” through Daru’s background as a Pied-Noir or “Black-Foot,” denoting that he is of European ancestry, living in French North Africa — the background Camus himself had. A Western of the international variety, “Far From Men” is the story of men in severe circumstances, with prostitutes the only women in a vast, dusty setting marked by violence and sacrifice, colonizers and indigenous peoples. Deliberately paced and slow to reveal itself, the film reaches its impact in its final scenes in which both men “trust in the Creator” and adhere to their convictions in personal ways. Written & Directed by David Oelhoffen. In French with English subtitles. Runtime: 102 minutes. Tues., 4/21, 8:30pm at SVA Theater (333 West 23rd St. btw. 8th & 9th Aves.). Fri., 4/24, 9:30pm & Sat., 4/25, 3:45pm at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea (260 W. 23rd St. btw. 7th & 8th Aves.). Tickets: $18 ($3.50 phone & web reservation fee). Visit tribecafilm.com/festival or call 646-502-5296.
It’s The New Preview Revue
Coming right at you! THE WOLFPACK
Our First Critic Says: One is left with so many questions after viewing “The Wolfpack,” it’s hard to believe that no broadcaster is considering this. How can we know more about this odd group? Ingenuity has trumped consumerism in their lives. Is it possible that being indoctrinated by the fantasy world of Hollywood was better than being “contaminated” by the outside world?—Rania Richardson
April 16, 2015
Read the Full Reviews: Online, as of April 19. See it at the Tribeca Film Festival April 18, 20, 22. More info at tribecafilm.com/festival.
Synopsis: Amy Kohn’s documentary offers a peek into the practice of
PHOTO BY CRYSTAL MOSELLE
Synopsis: Everything the Angulo brothers know about the outside world they learned from obsessively watching movies. Shut away from bustling New York City by their overprotective father, they cope with their isolation by diligently re-enacting their favorite films. When one of the brothers escapes, the world as they know it will be transformed.
Our Second Critic Says: It is both ironic and fitting that a family cloistered from the outside world by a delusional, alcoholic patriarch finds itself on the large screen. I left the film chilled with the knowledge that I pass their Lower East Side housing project every day. I was able to pinpoint it in scenes where they gazed out the windows, and was reminded of the many times we read of a “house of horrors” with nobody around to notice anything amiss. One can only hope that their journey towards claiming their lives continues.—Puma Perl
The Angulo brothers eat dinner while watching a movie. L–R, back: Narayna, Govinda, Jagadisa and Bhagavan. Front, from L: Mukunda and Krsna.
Christian courtship, wherein a woman hands over the responsibility of finding a husband to her parents and the will of God. Such is Kelly’s path, enlisting her adopted spiritual family to find her Mr. Right. Our Critic Says: In a world where swiping right on a photo connotes romantic interest, this beautifully shot documentary explores the concept of Christian courtship by following one
woman’s journey with her “spiritual parents” to find a husband. Director Amy Kohn told this paper that she wanted to use romance as a lens to look at religion and perhaps start a conversation. “A Courtship” could do just that.—Dusica Sue Malesevic Read the Full Review: Online, as of April 19. See it at the Tribeca Film Festival April 18, 19, 21, 22. More info at tribecafilm.com/festival. TheVillager.com
‘Lampoon’ is a Seriously Good Comedy Lesson Documentary will satisfy longtime fans and the uninformed TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: THE STORY OF THE NATIONAL LAMPOON Documentary Runtime: 92 minutes Directed by Douglas Tirola Thurs. 4/16 & Tues. 4/21, 9:15pm & Fri. 4/24, 8:45pm at Regal Cinemas Battery Park (102 North End Ave. at Vesey St.) COURTESY OF NATIONAL LAMPOON
$18 ($3.50 phone & web reservation fee) Visit tribecafilm.com/festival or call 646-502-5296
BY SEAN EGAN
hile not everyone can claim intimate familiarity with the early work of National Lampoon, the highly influential magazine’s distinctive brand of humor and ideology is certainly still felt today. The Lampoon and its alumnus successfully reached their tendrils into almost every medium of entertainment, making the publication ground zero for modern American comedy. With everything from “Saturday Night Live,” “The Simpsons” and the films of John Hughes and Judd Apatow claiming ties to National Lampoon, preserving the history of this long-defunct publication for modern audiences seems all too important. Douglas Tirola’s new documentary attempts to catalog all of the crazy, live-wire, drug-addled energy and inspiration that went into producing the Lampoon in its ‘70s heyday. It’s a lively, irreverent and well-researched film that works as a zippy primer for any unfamiliar with National Lampoon, and an entertaining exercise for those already well-versed in its unique comedy styling. The film impressively captures the magazine’s tone and style through TheVillager.com
L–R: Garry Goodrow, Peter Elbling, Chevy Chase, Chris Guest, John Belushi, Mary-Jennifer Mitchell and Alice Peyton.
its use of stylish animation, created via manipulations of actual Lampoon illustrations and photographs — giving the feeling that scenes from the film were ripped right off the page. In addition, rare archival footage from offices, stages and recording studios (often featuring comedy icons like Bill Murray, John Belushi and Harold Ramis) immerses audiences in the world of the Lampoon. Set to an era-appropriate soundtrack featuring the likes of David Bowie, the movie lives and breathes the Lampoon’s countercultural vibe. Tirola also does well capturing lesser-known, behind-the-scenes personalities — which were often just as outsized as any of the actors associated with the publication. Colorful characters such as the stoic and reserved co-founder Henry Beard, misanthropic writer Michael O’Donoghue, no-nonsense publisher Matty Simmons and straight talking art-director Michael Gross populate the Lampoon’s story, and watching the clash of personalities is thoroughly entertaining. Most importantly however, Tirola takes significant time to highlight the tragically short life of Doug Kenney, the brilliant and beloved co-founder and editor — who by all accounts provided the magazine (and
by extension this documentary) with its heart. In aid of this, Tirola assembles a wide swath of interview subjects, ranging from big-name celebrities (Apatow, Kevin Bacon, Billy Bob Thorton) to the surviving staff members themselves. The interviews are both nostalgic and celebratory. Everyone agrees that working at the Lampoon was something special and important, some of the best times of their life — and everyone who encountered the Lampoon cites it as a formative influence. While this is nice enough to hear, and the subjects often inject humor into their talking head clips, it’s more diverting than particularly illuminating. This lens of nostalgia becomes slightly problematic though, when considering some of the content of the magazine itself. For better or for worse, National Lampoon was a publication that pushed boundaries, coming firmly from the free speech, “everything can be made fun of” camp. While this certainly resulted in sublime satire (much on display here), it also produced some of the Lampoon’s more tasteless pieces (often dealing in ugly stereotypes and slurs that wouldn’t fly today).
In its adoration of the magazine, the film allows a lot of these pieces to be uncomfortably passed over without much critical scrutiny — only halfheartedly defending its status as satire. But things become more interesting when the subjects get more self-reflexive. This is illustrated best by a disarming sequence in which Chevy Chase describes the final days he spent with Kenney, his best friend, before his untimely death. Recounting a trip to Hawaii with bittersweet humor, Chase speaks candidly about their bond and struggles with substance abuse and depression. It’s a raw and emotionally affecting scene. “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead” does a lot to convince audiences of the rock star status of the publication’s comedy icons, but is even more engrossing in these instances where it lets its subjects be relatable, and sometimes painfully human. By allowing these more emotional elements to come to the fore while tracing the magazine from its inception to its inevitable end, Tirola makes a compelling case for National Lampoon’s continued importance and vitality — and a fitting tribute to its legacy. April 16, 2015
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April 16, 2015
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April 16, 2015
The trials of collage artist Kasoundra Kasoundra KASOUNDRA, continued from p. 11
PHOTO BY DON SNYDER
Shocked by the guardian’s disregard for the judge’s orders, and worried about Kasoundra’s bleak future, one of her friends went to State Supreme Court and filed an “Order to Show Cause,” asking for the removal of the guardian and the full reinstatement of Kasoundra’s autonomy. Friends wrote letters of support, and the psychiatrist provided a notarized letter detailing the results of the mental status test and his conclusion that Kasoundra had no symptoms of dementia and could successfully live at home. By taking the guardian to court, Kasoundra’s friend hoped to get answers to the following questions: (1) How had Samet been selected as the guardian? He appeared to have deep ties to Lenox Hill Hospital, which seemed like a conflict of interest since the hospital had brought the guardianship case against Kasoundra; (2) How had the guardian spent Kasoundra’s income? Due to her overly long hospital confinement, Kasoundra’s Social Security income had built up to $20,000 when the guardian took over, and $1,000 kept coming in every month for the two years he remained guardian; (3) Why hadn’t Samet followed the judge’s orders to return Kasoundra to her apartment or place her in Lott House? (4) Had the guardian been negotiating with the landlord to receive money for surrendering Kasoundra’s apartment, and if so, why hadn’t he disclosed this to Kasoundra? (5) Why had Samet purchased a $6,500 burial plot for Kasoundra when she had always wanted to be cremated? Where was the burial plot deed and/or the receipt for the purchase? (6) And perhaps most important, did her guardian intend to keep Kasoundra confined in the nursing home forever? Judge Visitacion-Lewis did not reopen the case, but it was transferred to Judge Kennedy of Landlord Tenant Court who was presiding over Kasoundra’s eviction hearings. Her pro bono lawyer was still ardently struggling to keep Kasoundra’s apartment from being lost. A lawyer from Mental Hygiene Legal Services (MHLS) was assigned by the court to represent Kasoundra in the guardianship matter. But when the friend’s Order to Show Cause came before her, Judge Kennedy threw it out, saying that it was not written in the proper legal language. Because the order wasn’t heard, the friend’s candid questions for the guardian were never asked or answered under oath, and Samet ultimately provided the court with only a very vague account of his disbursement of Kasoundra’s income. Judge Kennedy invited the MHLS lawyer to bring the same suit before her couched in the appropriate legal
A photograph of Kasoundra Kasoundra from Don Snyder’s book “Aquarian Odyssey: A Photographic Trip Into the Sixties.”
language. But when the new suit was filed, the MHLS lawyer did not ask for the reinstatement of Kasoundra’s autonomy; she asked only that the guardian be replaced. Then began a lengthy series of hearings that dragged on interminably and never seemed to go anywhere. Sometimes the hearings were about the guardian, and sometimes they were about the landlord’s eviction proceeding. Nothing ever seemed to get resolved. Judge Kennedy would tell the guardian to do certain things, and he would come to the next hearing two months later without having done them. A psychiatrist was appointed by the court to evaluate Kasoundra, but the hospital would not provide her medical records until they were subpoenaed, so his report was endlessly delayed. When the court-appointed psychiatrist finally testified, his assessment of Kasoundra’s cognitive status and her ability to live at home was virtually the same as the opinion provided three years earlier by the other psychiatrist. Meanwhile, Kasoundra, who could walk perfectly well when she was in the hospital psych ward, was now confined to a wheelchair that set off an alarm whenever she tried to enter
the elevator. No aide ever seemed to be available to escort her to the second-floor rooftop, which provided the only access to fresh air in the nursing home. Whenever she tried to walk, Kasoundra was told to get back in her wheelchair, and she spent her days wheeling herself up and down the hall. The staff members were apologetic but said they had to follow the written orders of the guardian. After considerable pressure was applied by Kasoundra’s friends, she finally received a brief, five-week stint of physical therapy. But when the therapist recommended that Kasoundra be transferred to the “walker program,” the guardian wouldn’t authorize it. Meanwhile, the guardian never visited Kasoundra in the nursing home except once, when her friends finally persuaded him to do so. Kasoundra begged him not to give up her apartment or dispose of her artwork and possessions. She pleaded with him to let her go back home. As the case dragged on, Kasoundra’s supporters began to reach out to foundations to help pay Kasoundra’s back rent when and if her case was ever decided. The HOWL! Emergency Life Project suggested that Kasoundra might like to live in the lovely Lillian Booth assisted-living home in New
Jersey. Kasoundra’s MHLS lawyer obtained a pass for her to leave the nursing home to visit the Lillian Booth, which was surrounded by acres of verdant grounds and had a resident cat. Its occupants were elderly actors and jazz musicians, and the ambiance was lively and attractive. The staff welcomed Kasoundra and placed her on the waiting list. When Judge Kennedy learned of the Lillian Booth initiative, she heartily approved, and she quickly replaced Kasoundra’s guardian with Integral Guardianship Services of Coney Island. She gave permission for the new agency to dispose of Kasoundra’s apartment, and instructed them to pursue Kasoundra’s application to the Lillian Booth. She then terminated the hearings, leaving Kasoundra with no judicial oversight. This proved to be tragically premature, because the new guardian, Alan Shapiro, immediately disposed of Kasoundra’s apartment but made little effort to acquire the documents needed for Kasoundra to be admitted to the Lillian Booth home. He said that it was just “too much trouble” and that there was “too much paperwork” involved. And although Judge Kennedy had ruled that an inventory be made of Kasoundra’s artwork, and its value professionally assessed, no such inventory was made before Shapiro moved it to a storage facility in Brooklyn. The MHLS lawyer told Kasoundra’s friends that she had seen many cases where guardians stopped paying the storage fees, and their clients’ possessions were then permanently lost. A final eviction hearing took place in Judge Masley’s courtroom, where it was determined that Kasoundra and a friend could visit the storage facility and make an inventory of her artwork and effects. But in spite of repeated requests, Kasoundra has not been allowed access to her possessions. More than six months have passed since Kasoundra’s case was closed, and she is still in the nursing home in New Rochelle, far from her community and friends. It is rare for visitors to make the time-consuming and expensive train trip to New Rochelle to see her, and Kasoundra often feels despondent. Four long years have elapsed since the fateful night she was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital and subsequently lost her right of self-determination. She worries about her artwork and how long it will be preserved by the guardian. She wonders if her furniture and memorabilia were put in storage or thrown away. She is fearful when she contemplates the very real possibility that she could remain trapped in the nursing home against her will until she dies. April 16, 2015
April 16, 2015
They’re not tripping: New travel team can hang SPORTS BY JAYSON CAMACHO
PHOTO BY JAYSON CAMACHO
ast fall, Greenwich Village Little League introduced a new, more competitive team to its league. This was the 10U (10 and under) travel team, that would play in the Westchester Baseball Association. The idea for this new squad came from Rob Goergen, the team’s manager. He recounted how it all began. “The prior fall season, my son, Bo, and another player on the team, Teddy, were invited to play on a 10U fall travel team up at Randalls Island, through an uptown baseball club,” he said. Goergen said that the kids had a wonderful time playing with the team, but they sadly had to break up due to the age limit. This is when he decided to give a call to former G.V.L.L. President John Economou. “Do we have anything like this at G.V.L.L.?” Goergen asked him. “We don’t, we’ve never gotten around to building a travel team,” Economou admitted. They continued talking and eventually agreed to start up a 10U fall baseball team that would be sponsored by G.V.L.L. They brought the idea to the league, and the league agreed it would be a good idea to bring this more-competitive team to a league that, up until now, has been more recreational. Goergen had some goals for the team. One was that he wanted to give the kids a chance to play competitive ball in a season separate from the spring. Another was to improve the players’ skills. Finally, he idea was to field a competitive team in a new league. First, they had to find a league to play in, and they settled on the Westchester Baseball Association. Next, they had to find a field to call home. This is never easy. Luckily, they were able to get a field at Randall’s Island for half of the fall season. When it came to forming the team, they already had a good foundation to start with. They tried to put the team together using the players who participated in the Memorial Day tournament this past spring. Once they were able to craft their “Dream Team,” they needed to know that the players would be able to commit weekends to play. They didn’t want to have players missing games due to other sports or vacations. Luckily, Goergen didn’t have much trouble convincing the parents to make this commitment. They played their first game against the MYB Bulldogs and won 12-0. They did well all season, winning nine games and losing only three. The team
The G.V.L.L. 10U travel team is back for its second season.
would make the league championship, but lost by a couple runs to the top-seeded New Rochelle Braves Blue. The G.V.L.L. travel team was brought back for this spring season and participated in their first tournament this past weekend. Unfortunately, they lost back-to-back games during their doubleheader and would lose another game the next day. But the team didn’t lose their composure and the players still had a good time. Former G.V.L.L. President Economou, the team’s current coach, shared some of his ideas for them. “It’s exciting to able to offer players the opportunity to compete at a higher level,” he said. “It brings the proper balance between competitiveness and fun. It’s been a great experience so far with this good group of kids who have played together for the past year. “This team helps boost ideas about community, and the players have built many friendships,” he said. “The team has faced challenges with new rules in the tournaments. Some of these new rules include balking and leading off, but the boys are adapting to them really well. We’ve yet to come up against a team we can’t compete with.” This new addition to G.V.L.L. is a great step forward in bringing more-competitive baseball to a league that’s generally been focused on community and fun. Here’s hoping the team plays well the rest of this year, and best of luck going forward.
4 catastrophe cats still missing CATS, continued from p. 8
the East Village Eight and our missing cats.) Cathryn Swan, of the Washington Square Park Blog not only covered our plight and individual stories, but has actively helped in our ongoing search. She has made many many phone calls to the various agencies involved, has gathered facts and has found people to help us who have expertise outside of the agencies that we have been dealing with. Another local advocate is Chrissy Hursh, a local dog walker with both feet and ears to the ground. Chrissy has relayed information about any cat that might fit the descriptions of the East Village Eight. She has combed the Web sites of all the city’s animal shelters. Chrissy also hooked us up with the Find Sugar Web site. Sugar’s people, desperate to find their beloved missing pit bull, gave the East Village lost cats space on their site. Many people also reported sightings of cats that they thought might be ours. Randi Klein of Whiskers Holistic Petcare on E. Ninth St. also linked us to her site and volunteered the Rescue Ranch as a drop-off spot. Bideawee Animal Hospital also linked our lost pets to their Web site and network. The Villager has been very helpful to us from the get-go, unlike the mass
media, which would not initially put our pleas to find our missing pets in their newspapers or on the network news. The major media only showed interest after Laszlo was saved by the F.D.N.Y., which I first wrote about in The Villager two weeks ago. At that point, the mass media were clamoring for interviews and photos of cute cats and handsome firefighters. I preferred to tell my story myself and stayed with the alternative media. The return of Kathleen Blomberg’s cats was covered by all the major papers, and later young Hannah Lipsky was interviewed, and that was very helpful, as she is desperate to find Ryce. We who have had the joy of having had our pets rescued and returned are feeling deeply for our friends and neighbors who are still waiting, hoping and praying for some happy news. Could we not as a community help them? Let us all put pressure on our elected officials to ask the ASPCA and ACC to go into the gardens, alleys and courtyards of the interior of the block and to also search Enz’s store and basement. We, the people of this disaster, may be feeling beaten down and battered, but we are nonetheless still strong and we are as one. We need to help our smallest neighbors and we need to do it now. April 16, 2015
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THE VILLAGER, APRIL 16, 2015