The Paper of Record for East and West Villages, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown
April 17, 2014 • FREE Volume 4 • Number 11
Report says L.E.S. has many ‘intensely’ segregated schools BY ZACH WILLIAMS
DISTRICT 1, continued on p. 5
‘Shame!’ Advocates blast gov, Albany at charter protest BY TEQUILA MINSKY
hey came from all boroughs. Hundreds of parents, with their placard-carrying children in tow, standing alongside educators on the steps of the New York Public Library’s 42nd St. and Fifth Ave. main branch building on Thurs., April 10.
PHOTO BY SARAH FERGUSON
ews coverage about a new report on severe segregation in New York City public schools has focused on lack of student diversity in schools in Harlem and the Bronx. However, the report also noted another area where school segregation is particularly
heavy, though it has received little media coverage: the East Village and Lower East Side. In short, policy makers — by decreasing emphasis on maintaining classroom diversity while increasing support for alternative education models — have created the highest levels
The multi-generational crowd was passionately protesting the co-location of charter schools within public schools, while, they charged, the needs of mainstream public school students continue to go unmet. Public education advocate Noah Gotbaum led CHARTERS, continued on p. 4
Steve Cannon standing in the empty Tribes gallery. During an auction, patrons were urged to take what remained of the storied arts salon, founded in 1991 in Cannon’s E. Third St. apartment.
Steve has left the building, but takes piece of it with him BY SARAH FERGUSON
he dismantling of the legendary East Village arts salon A Gathering of the Tribes was a painful spectacle. All week, supporters young and old came out of the woodwork to pay tribute to the space and its founder, Steve Cannon, as they worked to extract the blind 79-year-old poet from the only home
he’s known for the last 44 years. Diehards wanted to occupy the place, at 285 E. Third St., to express their outrage at Cannon’s ouster by landlord Lorraine Zhang, who purchased the building from Cannon back in 2004 with the proviso that he and Tribes be able to stay on for another 10 years. After three years of legal battles with Zhang, the rancor was deep. But at the last minute, a handicap-
accessible apartment was secured for Cannon on the ground floor of a former homestead building on E. Sixth St., just three blocks away. So instead of occupying, friends held a two-night auction / moving party to pack up or sell off the myriad books, zines and art left over from 23 years of shows and performances at Tribes, which operated out of CanTRIBES, continued on p. 12
What’s developer got cooking for Bereket?.......page 7 Vets keep fighting.............page 21 A howl from Hell Square for police help............page 9 www.EastVillagerNews.com
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Detail of Interconnecting Blood Vessels and Channels; painting 12 of a set of medical paintings; Tibet; ca. 17th century; pigments on cloth; Pritzker Collection
LaPlacaCohen Publication: Reservation #: Insertion date: Size:
BODIES IN BALANCE: THE ART OF TIBETAN MEDICINE
PHOTO BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL
Prez had a lot on his plate As a police detective kept a watchful eye, President Barack Obama appeared to loosen his tie in the back of the presidential limousine as he sped away from the Gramercy Park Hotel last Friday night. Obama was in town to attend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network conference in Midtown on Friday afternoon, and later made a surprise dinner stop with his wife, Michelle, at Maialino, Danny Meyer’s trattoria in the E. 21st St. hotel. Arriving around 5:30, the couple and friends stayed until after 8, when POTUS and the first lady dashed off to attend Broadway’s “A Raisin in the Sun,” starring Denzel Washington.
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FALLON NIAGARA ?UESTIONS? What exactly went down when Jimmy Fallon reportedly got caught in the middle of a brawl at rocker Jesse Malin’s Niagara bar on Thursday night we may never know. A band — no, not ?questlove and The Roots — had just finished playing when things apparently got out of hand. The Daily News said “The Tonight Show” host was “pretty shaken up” and “was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and chaos erupted him.” Yet, the same article noted, “A witness said Fallon was peripherally involved in the 10:30 p.m. imbroglio, but his connection to the combatants, if any, remained unclear.” All we know is that Fallon was looking like a pretty serene dude in this selfie taken while chilling with East Village Facebook phenom Shawn Chittle. STILES ♥ CITI BIKE: The U.K.’s Daily Mail Online really went over the top Monday with a same-day report on a sighting of actress Julia Stiles spinning around the Village on a Citi Bike. But the Mail was far more focused on Stiles’s fashion style than her cycling style. “She wore a transparent patterned long-sleeved mini-dress over a black tank top, stockings, and pair of leather booties while on the ride,” the Mail said, “a pair of aviator sunglasses...and gold necklace around her neck which had a crescent moon shaped pendant on it. … [She had] her medium-sized black leather purse in the basket of the bike… . The actress was also seen walking on the same day, but this time wearing a white denim jacket over the ensemble.” Julia’s mom, Judith Stiles, The Villager’s former sports writer, confirmed that her famous daughter is a big fan of the Big Apple’s new bike-share transportation system, and that she’s been riding bicycles forever. “Yes, she loves the Citi
FACE(BOOK) THE NATION: Since this Scoopy’s column seems to be pretty celebrity oriented this week (Scoopy TMZ?) and since we’ve mentioned Facebook, let’s not forget about the City Council’s most Facebook friendly member. Of course, we’re talking about Corey Johnson. On April 7, “CoJo” posted this selfie of himself and Lena Dunham of “Girls” at the Point Foundation Gala at the Public Library’s main branch on 42nd St. (The foundation empowers promising L.G.B.T.Q. students to achieve their full academic and leadership potential.) Johnson’s Facebook posts never fail to inform and amaze. Back on March 9 he shared the story of his his biological father, who had just passed away. His real dad left Johnson and his mom when the future councilmember was just a baby. Johnson’s dad was born in Korea to an American G.I. and a Korean woman and put in an orphanage. He was adopted as a young boy by an American couple who took him to the States for a better life. “I never was able to meet him in person,” Johnson shared on FB. “But we were able to speak many times over the phone these past few years and I got to tell him that I wasn’t angry, resentful or hurt. I got to tell him he didn’t have to worry, that I had a great life because of my mother and stepfather. He told me he loved me and that he wished he could have changed the past. … With no regrets, no remorse and with an open heart, I say, thank you, David Johnson and wish you peace.” Whoa! What a story! As they say, “Thanks for sharing.” WARNING TO WITKOFF: West Village activist Jean-Louis
Bourgeois called us to say he’s now finally ready to stop Steven Witkoff’s 150 Charles St. residential project right in its tracks. O.K., so admittedly the building’s 16-story superstructure — planned to contain 98 luxury units — has already been fully built. “It may be built, but I call it the ‘Ghost Castle,’” the scion of legendary “spiders” sculptress Louise Bourgeois scoffed. “No one is going to be able to live there. There’s a major sewage problem. We’re going to bring at least one suit.” He said he wasn’t at liberty to give us more details right now.
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NOT JUST NITTY-GRIDDY: An article in last week’s Villager, “Thinking ‘Beyond the Grid’ about disaster preparedness,” omitted the structure of the Beyond the Grid project and didn’t name all of its participants. In fact, Beyond the Grid is the effort of a consortium led by Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, composed of consultants with expertise in community development (Urbane Development, LLC); wireless technology (WiFi-NY), resilient design (Milestone Architecture, PLLC, with Alex Nadolishny’s consulting expertise in energy systems and emergency response) and green jobs training (Green for All). The article also mentioned FEMA as operating a medical operation in the Rockaways, whereas the operation was run by a well-known nonprofit relief organization, not FEMA. April 17, 2014
Advocates blast Cuomo, Albany at charter protest CHARTERS, continued from p. 1
April 17, 2014
The signs said it all at last Thursday’s rally against Albany’s support of charter schools. State Senator Brad Hoylman was among the politicians who addressed the crowd.
class-size reduction,” Brewer continued. “In too many Manhattan school districts, pre-K seats have been eliminated to make room for kindergarten seats; and, year after year, class sizes continue to rise. New York City must have the ability to determine best uses for our public school buildings without intervention from Albany.” Former City Councilmember Eva Moskowitz, the wellpaid head of one of the city’s most prominent charter school outfits, Success Academy, has become the chief punching bag of the United Federation of Teachers and school advocates. Charters like Moskowitz’s are blasted as union busters. Yet, despite the advocates’ fear and loathing of charter schools, they remain phenomenally popular with many
PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY
off the rally by denouncing the recent passage of a bill in the state Legislature that supports charter schools’ free presence within public school buildings. Along with their chants, children and parents held up a sea of signs further amplifying their sentiments: “All Kids Matter,” “Who Protects the 94%?” “Wall Street Hands Off $$$ for our Children” and “Protect Our Public Schools” were just a few of the slogans. As Gotbaum spoke, at one point, the crowd spontaneously broke into a boisterous “Shame on you!” directed at Albany. State Senator Brad Hoylman, the first of the elected officials to speak, told the crowd why he voted against the bill. “About 10 years ago, the powers that be told us we needed mayoral control,” he said. “Now that they don’t like the results, they want to take away local control, and that is wrong. “Did anyone ask you what you thought of this bill — that your art room, your science room should be taken away?” he asked. “No!” came the resounding response. “We as parents were not consulted,” Hoylman declared. Gotbaum reiterated that Hoylman was one of the few state senators to reject the bill that the governor pushed the Legislature to approve. Also speaking was City Councilmember Daniel Dromm, who chairs the Council’s Education Committee. The Queens representative was formerly a teacher for 25 years. “We do not want a separate and unequal school system in New York City,” Dromm told the crowd. He blasted as “academic apartheid” the situation where, in the same building, charter-school students have music and dance rooms, while other students down the hall have “holes in their classroom ceilings.” “We are going to fight back and this is going to grow citywide and statewide,” he said. The crowd responded, “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Governor Cuomo’s got to go!” Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference, also decried what the advocates call unfair conditions. “While some children are playing soccer, others are eating lunch at 10:30 in the morning,” she said, referring to the lack of space and overcrowding at many schools that forces an extended “lunch hour” to start soon after children arrive in the morning. “I will stand with you as long as it takes,” Dukes vowed. Liz Krueger, chairperson of the state Senate’s Finance Committee, blasted Albany for wresting budgetary power over New York City schools away from Mayor de Blasio whereas the state politicians had previously bestowed it on his predecessor, former Mayor Bloomberg. “Why should Albany gain control over your schools?” she asked the crowd. After the speeches, the parents, children and union members marched along E. 41st St. to Governor Cuomo’s office on Third Ave., where children presented his representative with a large, signed postcard, with counterfeit dollar bills attached. Gale Brewer, the Manhattan borough president, also weighed in with a statement: “It would be a mistake for Albany to force the city to provide public space for all charters or else require the D.O.E. to pay charter rent for private space,” Brewer said. “Our city doesn’t benefit from Albany’s meddling; it can only breed resentment and the vast majority of New Yorkers will not stand for it. “If Albany truly wanted to be helpful, it would make funding available to alleviate overcrowding and support
inner-city families, who see them as offering their children a better education and a chance at a brighter future. Indeed, the number of applicants for a single seat in certain charter schools is reportedly greater than for a spot at top Ivy League colleges. In turn, hedge-funders, foundations and philanthropists are eager to finance the charters.
With reporting by Lincoln Anderson
Report cites lack of diversity of separation along racial and economic grounds in Manhattan south of Harlem, according to a March 26 study by the UCLA Civil Rights Project. While some public schools in the East Village and Lower East Side’s Community School District One have seen increased integration in recent years, minorities comprise more than 90 percent of the students at a dozen other elementary schools in the district, according to the researchers. The district is bounded by E. 14th St., the East River and Fourth Ave., Delancey and Clinton Sts. “The ending of the diversity-based admission system in [Community School District One] of the Lower East Side is a prime example of the effects of a free or so-called colorblind school choice policy, as the area has experienced rising school resegregation ever since,” the report states. Increased funding in the state budget for charter schools — 97 percent of whose students in Manhattan are minorities, according to the study — has sparked the ire of district educators, who charge that such schools threaten the funding base and diversity efforts of traditional public schools. Governor Cuomo, in a March 31 statement, touted an increase in the budget of per-student funding for charters of $250, $350 and $500 in upcoming consecutive years. Eligibility for the newly approved universal pre-kindergarten program and new access to funding to provide space for charter schools will also promote the schools through the budget, Cuomo noted. In the wake of the end of civil rights-era integration efforts, such as busing and consideration of race in school admissions, charter schools have been offered by policymakers, such as former Mayor Bloomberg and Cuomo, as a chance for students from disadvantaged backgrounds to get a better education. “That’s the mythology they are perpetuating,” said Lisa Donlan, president of Community Education Council District One. The city’s Department of Education did not respond to requests for comment on the issue of the district’s racial segregation. According to a study the C.E.C. released last fall, white students and racial segregation have simultaneously increased within District One. The phenomenon is enabled due to the district’s unzoned nature. Similar to only two other districts in the city, District One allows its students to enroll in schools throughout the district regardless of their residential address, Donlan explained.The white population residing within the school district has increased by 14 percent in recent years, and is now at 32.4 percent. Correspondingly, white students in 2011 comprised 16.6 percent of district students, an increase of 10 percent from 10 years before. Among 23 district schools, four were more than 40 percent white while 15 schools had less than 10 percent white students, according to the C.E.C. study. The P.S. 188 building on E. Houston St.,
which houses four schools, includes the Island School, which is 96 percent minority, and Girls Preparatory Charter School, whose students are 99 percent minority. The charter was labeled an “apartheid” school by the UCLA study. The fifteen public schools, plus several charter schools, with less than 10 percent white students were ranked only slightly better on diversity, earning the label “intensely segregated.” Such discrepancies represent an education system that neglects diversity when determining a school’s relative success, according to Donlan. “There has been a sense over the last 10 to 12 years that separate can be equal, but in my experience that has not been true,” she said. Attending schools fully representative of local communities has been known to raise performance among all students, regardless of personal family income, the UCLA study noted. Among that study’s policy recommendations were the implementation of civil rights standards in education policy, as well as greater efforts at ensuring equal access to school choices for low-income families. Poorer families, more often than their wealthier and white counterparts, lack the means to negotiate the complicated public school enrollment process, the study notes. “The concentration of poverty in a school influenced student achievement more than the poverty status of an individual student,” the UCLA report states. “This finding is largely related to whether or not high academic achievement, homework completion, regular attendance, and college-going are normalized by peers. This correlation stems from relationships established with other students as well as teachers.” P.S. 363 — The Neighborhood School, on E. Third St. — has a white student population of 43 percent. It has yet to receive a response from D.O.E. for the school’s programs aimed at increasing student diversity through “a set-aside admission program for low-income students and English Language Learners,” the study noted. Principal Dyanthe Spielberg and about 20 of the school’s students and teachers were among hundreds who demonstrated in Midtown on April 10 against Cuomo and the increased support for charter schools. “It’s about reflecting the community of the Lower East Side,” Spielberg said. New groups are still arriving in one of the most historically diverse neighborhoods in New York City. But some longtime L.E.S. residents worry, not about the intentions of incoming immigrants from China and Central Asia, but rather about the inflow of white residents accompanying the area’s ongoing gentrification and development, who they fear will push out poorer minorities. However, one local resident of 42 years recalled a time when the government was the instrument of greater cultural understanding through bold integration efforts. “I remember getting off the bus,” said Bradshaw Liddie, a community advocate who was among the first black students to integrate an Upper East Side high school in the 1960s. “It needs to be diverse,” she said.
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PHOTO BY DANNY SANCHEZ
DISTRICT 1, continued from p. 1
April 17, 2014
POLICE BLOTTER employee’s left hand before fleeing the scene, police said. The wounded employee was later treated at Bellevue Hospital, receiving stitches to his hand, police said. Based on surveillance footage, the suspect is described as white, about age 35 and around 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 200 pounds.
Consulting firm swindled
A consulting firm that says it specializes in “crisis intervention” recently had a crisis of its own, when an employee spent more than $20,000 in company cash for her personal use, police said. Candice Lee, 32, once an employee of J.F.C. Professional Services, at 60 W. 13th St., was arrested April 8 after her boss told police that Lee was found to have made dozens of unauthorized transactions since last November. That included 56 purchases on a company credit card, totaling around $3,600, and the writing and cashing of 37 company checks, totaling around $18,000, police said. The J.F.C. boss, a psychologist, stressed in her report to cops that Lee was never given permission to use any of those funds for personal use. Lee, who has since been fired from J.F.C., was charged with grand larceny and forgery.
A police sketch of alleged East Village sexual-assault suspect.
Police are hunting for an unknown man who allegedly snuck into an East Village woman’s bedroom and tried to rape her early on Sun., April 13. The victim, 32, whose address was not disclosed, told officers she woke up around 3 a.m. to find the suspect, pictured in the sketch above, standing on her bed. She said that the man then sexually assaulted her, but fled after she continued to struggle. The suspect is described as Hispanic, in his 20s, about 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighing 160 pounds.
Police are also looking for an unknown man who they say robbed an Eighth Ave. convenience store and stabbed an employee early on April 7.
A surveillance camera image of alleged slashing suspect.
The suspect walked into the Mobil Gas Station Mart, at Eighth Ave. and W. 13th St., around 1:50 a.m., cops said. He then reportedly snatched a cigarette pack and ran out, after which a male employee, 18, chased him outside. The suspect, pictured above, pulled out a knife, turned around and slashed the
Five-finger discount Police arrested Heayoung Park, 37, on April 10 after she allegedly stole groceries from the Whole Foods Market in Union Square. Employees at the 40 E. 14th St. supermarket told cops that Park walked out with $46 worth of stolen goods — a box of waffles, pomegranate seeds and an assortment of
fruits and vegetables — around 5:15 p.m., but she was spotted and quickly detained by store security after exiting. Police arrested her at the scene, charging her with petty larceny.
Where there’s smoke... Police arrested a teen on a South Village sidewalk early on April 12, after he was allegedly smoking marijuana and also carrying an illegal knife. Patrolling officers said they spotted the boy, 17, smoking a joint on Minetta St. between Bleecker St. and Minetta Lane around 4:30 a.m., stopped him and searched him. The officers then reportedly found a gravity knife in his pocket. The teen was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of marijuana.
Standard snatcher A sneaky phone thief struck in the bar of the Meatpacking District’s Standard Hotel early on April 13, police said. The female victim, 25, told cops she was hanging out with her friend at the bar around 4:30 a.m., when she asked her pal to watch her purse for several minutes. When she returned, the woman found that her Samsung Galaxy S4 phone had been lifted from inside the bag, although her friend later told officers that she never saw anyone reach in and grab it. There were no witnesses and no description of a suspect, police said.
Council approves new South Village Historic District BY SAM SPOKONY
our months after the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the South Village Historic District, the City Council on April 10 resoundingly seconded the motion. By a 47-to-0 vote, the Council officially landmarked the new historic district, which is roughly bounded on the west by Sixth Ave., to the north by W. Fourth St., on the east by Sullivan St. and LaGuardia Place and to the south by W. Houston St. “This new historic district will protect centuries of history,” said Councilmember Corey Johnson after the vote. He noted the pressure of potential development throughout the area that “threatens to forever scar the low-slung, light-filled Village.” The 13-block swath, which includes around 250 buildings, was an affluent area in the early 19th century, and later became an immigrant enclave after around 1850, when existing build-
April 17, 2014
ings were repurposed for multi-family dwellings and new buildings were constructed to house waves of Italians and other newcomers. The South Village also gained fame in in the 1950s and ’60s as a bohemian scene that welcomed iconic artists like Bob Dylan and other folk singers to the neighborhood. “The South Village is an enduring testament to the vibrant cultural and immigrant history that makes New York City so unique,” said Councilmember Margaret Chin. “The South Village Historic District will ensure that this neighborhood’s rich architectural character is preserved and protected in the face of the city’s rapidly changing landscape.” Meanwhile, local preservationists are still pushing for the city to landmark another section of the South Village that was notably left out of L.P.C.’s recent designation. That triangle-shaped portion would extend the historic district south of Houston St. to Watts St., bounded on the east by a line midway between West Broadway and Thompson St., and on the west generally by Sixth Ave. “We’re hoping whoever the new L.P.C. chairperson is will
be more open to including that section,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, referring to the fact that Mayor de Blasio will likely soon appoint a new L.P.C. head, since current chairperson Robert Tierney is a holdover from the Bloomberg administration. De Blasio has not given any clear indication as to who will take over from Tierney. “But when it happens, we’ll certainly be reaching out to the new chairperson immediately to push for that addition,” said Berman. In addition, last month, the federal government finalized approval of G.V.S.H.P.’s proposed full South Village Historic District, so it is now on the National as well as the State Register of Historic Places. That means that state and federal tax breaks and financial aid are now offered for restoration work on properties in the district. The area is now also protected from harmful state and federal actions, and the use of state and federal monies is subject to historic preservation review.
Eateries worry something’s cooking for their corner BY ZACH WILLIAMS
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PHOTO BY ZACH WILLIAMS
ne East Village landlord remains quiet as community concerns grow that development will envelop the corner of E. Houston and Orchard Sts. that he owns. Sam Mangano, owner of parcels at 187 E. Houston St. and 196-198 Orchard St., has taken several steps toward making more money out of the properties. Insurance investigators conducted an audit of the properties two weeks ago, and one business owner received an offer from Mangano seeking to buy out the remaining five years of his lease. However, current tenants remain largely unaware of what plans are in store for the space in which their businesses operate. Mangano, who owns Houston Real Estate No. 2, did not respond to multiple phone calls and a written letter from The Villager requesting comment. “He’s very evasive,” said Phillip Barraza, who owns the taqueria at 198 Orchard St. with his wife, Andrea. He said that in a recent meeting, he refused the landlord’s monetary offer for a buyout. Mangano told him that online rumors that Magnum Real Estate Group would buy the property were untrue, Barraza said. The landlord added that he intended to swap current tenants for national retailers, according to Barraza. “We have to let him know that we are not interested in leaving,” the taqueria owner added. The restaurateur has retained legal counsel in order to resist any effort to remove his business from the property and replace it with a new development, which, he claimed, was the “not-so-well-kept secret” behind Mangano’s recent actions. “I have no problem battling this out in public,” Barraza stated. City records indicate the properties are still owned by Mangano. More than a halfdozen messages left at an office number for Ben Shaoul, the president of Magnum, went unanswered. An assistant there said she could not confirm whether the com-
pany was in talks to acquire property from Mangano. Other proprietors at the location said they have heard nothing from the landlord even as insurance inspectors entered their businesses. Turgut Sulo, the owner of Bereket Turkish Kebab House, said “many people” have been coming by the shop recently checking things on behalf of the landlord. However, Sulo said he has been unable to discern what it means for the location of the business he has overseen for two decades. “We don’t know what is going on here,” he said. A manager of AAA Ichiban Sushi, which sits between the kebab house and the taqueria, briefly showed a written notice of such an inspection to this reporter, who she mistakenly assumed represented Mangano. “The landlord has not contacted us. So we haven’t heard anything,” she said in Mandarin Chinese before declining to comment further on the issue. Additional inquiries made at adjacent businesses were referred to the owner of Ray’s Pizza, at 195 E. Houston St., who is Sam Mangano. Visits and phone calls to the establishment did not yield a comment from him. Longtime Bereket customers expressed concern that they would lose a regular haunt in an area that has lost other family and immigrant-run businesses to expanding real estate development in the recent past. Halil Ocak, a taxi driver from Midwood, said he comes almost daily to the eatery, which is one of the few places in Manhattan where he can speak his native Turkish. A mother-daughter pair from Spanish Harlem meanwhile come every week for the lentil soup and the familiar atmosphere where they know the warmest spot is always right in front of the counter. Ida Lincoln, the daughter, said the customer service and cuisine make them regulars. Losing the restaurant would disrupt a routine going back to her school days in the East Village, she added. “That would be a shame,” said her mother, Kaye.
A low-rise cluster of small restaurants at E. Houston and Orchard Sts. is being eyed as a new development site.
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April 17, 2014
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April 17, 2014
Time to pull the plug on trouble-plagued club EDITORIAL
he name of the club is Greenhouse, but it might as well be called Mayhem House. In the latest incident tied to the crimeplagued Hudson Square hot spot, early last Friday, two former University of South Carolina football players were reportedly involved in a vicious beating, while a third was stabbed. When this eco-chic club opened at Varick and Vandam Sts. in 2008, it seemed it would be the antithesis of a violent trouble spot. There were thousands of tiny, glittering energy-efficient LED lights arrayed around the place. Lounge areas were made of recycled materials. But appearance and reality haven’t meshed. In the latest violence, Victor Hampton and Kelcy Quarles, both 22, are wanted for questioning after a brutal attack inside the club. The two were allegedly involved in an assault that left a 28-year-old man with severe injuries that required four hours of facial surgery at a hospital, police said. The victim, a club promoter, said he was inside Greenhouse around 3 a.m. when he entered the V.I.P. section, where Hampton and Quarles may have been sitting, according to witnesses. Someone — possibly one of the football players — argued with the promoter and told him, “Get the f--- out my section,” after which the promoter was whacked over the
head with a hookah pipe and then beaten by several men. Less than an hour later, another former South Carolina football player was stabbed near Greenhouse, after a dispute police said they believe is not connected to the first beating. Chaz Sutton, 24, told cops he was in Greenhouse around 3:45 a.m., and got into a beef with an unidentified man. According to police, Sutton said he left the club to avoid a fistfight with the other man, and began walking back to his Trump Soho hotel room. The antagonist allegedly followed, and confronting Sutton near the hotel, at Spring and Varick Sts., pulled out a knife and stabbed him in the left shoulder, before fleeing up Varick St., police said. W.i.P., Greenhouse’s underground space, is the site of the infamous June 2012 bottle-throwing bar brawl between hip-hop stars Drake and Chris Brown, who were feuding over singer Rihanna. Eight people were injured, including NBA star Tony Parker, who suffered a potentially career-threatening scratched cornea. Greenhouse and W.i.P. were shut down for a while, but reopened. Last year, a woman received multiple fractures to her face and eye socket after being attacked with a broken bottle at Greenhouse. Earlier this year, a fight there left a woman blind in one eye. Again, the State Liquor Authority suspended the place’s license. Again, the club eventually reopened.
According to the Sixth Precinct, in 2013 alone there were 32 larcenies, eight misdemeanor assaults and five felony assaults, among other offenses, at the premises. In the first three months of this year, there were at least five assaults there. We’re told there are 35 lawsuits currently lodged against Greenhouse. Meanwhile, the club is seeking a renewal of its liquor license, which expires April 30. Community Board 2 has recommended the renewal be denied. State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Councilmember Corey Johnson have all written S.L.A. Chairperson Dennis Rosen urging the agency to reject the application. The S.L.A. has — in a “notice of pleading” — started a proceeding to revoke the license. Greenhouse will get to “plead” its case for its license renewal. However, this operator has already promised too many times to change its ways, yet each time without any change. We hear a prominent board member of the Hudson Square Connection business improvement district is the club’s landlord. We sincerely hope he’s working to get this bad operator out. The only reason this place is allowed to remain under Hudson Square’s new rezoning — which bans large clubs — is because it’s grandfathered. The S.L.A. should do the right thing and pull the plug on Greenhouse, its LED lights and its violence. This Greenhouse long ago went rotten, and is not sustainable.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR PETA-perfect piece To The Editor: Re “Ban the carriage horses; Keep the Citi Bikes” (editorial, April 3): On behalf of PETA and our thousands of members in Manhattan, thank you for the kind and lucid editorial about the carriage horses. It frames the issue perfectly. Dan Mathews Mathews is senior vice president, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)
Great horse sense To The Editor: Re “Ban the carriage horses; Keep the Citi Bikes” (editorial, April 3): I just wanted to say thanks so much for the wonderful editorial about the carriage horses. I can’t
say thank you enough for your willingness to take a stand in such a hostile climate right now. Allie Feldman Feldman is executive director, NYCLASS (New Yorkers for Clean Livable and Safe Streets)
Who’ll take them? To The Editor: Re “Ban the horse carriages; Keep the Citi Bikes” (editorial, April 3): If there is somebody or some company that will pay to take the horses to retirement farms and let them live out their lives there, it would be humanitarian to ban the horse carriages. If there is no such benefactor, then the horses would be slaughtered. The horses, almost certainly, would prefer a hard life to death. George Jochnowitz
Missing the old WBAI To The Editor: We discovered WBAI almost 50 years ago. We were at Fire Island painting somebody’s house. We were listening to the radio and “The Lone Ranger” came on. We took off our jackets, lit a fire and started listening to WBAI — the old-time radio programming, the fabulous music, four great broadcasters (Bob Fass, Larry Josephson, Chris Albertson and Steve Post) and radio programming that one could call “fair and balanced.” And it really was. A good example was Dale Minor’s reporting from Vietnam. He was not embedded, he was reporting — a calm and intense voice of reason from the front lines. Even the fundraising was creative. One time we brought all our pennies and some toilet paper to
the station. And I’ve always regretted that we did not respond to the appeal that, for $25, our four favorite guys would cook dinner in somebody’s (anybody’s) kitchen. Not that they all would fit into our tiny kitchen. Over the years, life changed, and so did WBAI. While the station still provides alternative programming, it is more strident, less objective and much less interesting these days. The diversity of opinion is gone. Bob Fass nailed it a few days ago when he spoke about the wonderful, democratic experiment that had been WBAI. I hope that all this need for power (or whatever is going on) will dissipate and that the staff and the board will return to the cooperation that somehow was possible even with the differing opinions in those good old days. “Radio Unnameable” is about all LETTERS, continued on p. 10
Hell Square needs ‘broken bar’ crackdown by police TALKING POINT BY DIEM BOYD
ill Bratton’s return as commissioner of the New York Police Department brings with it his trademark “broken windows” policing policy. Bratton’s strategy advocated for a hard-line approach on low-level crime and quality-oflife violations predicated on the belief that a “disorderly city is a dangerous city.” The crack in Bratton’s “broken window” strategy of the ’90s is that this policy overwhelmingly targeted the poor and minorities — where a police record for petty crimes had such devastating long-term effects as risking housing and work eligibility among these groups. Now, in the Lower East Side’s Hell Square, new-old Commissioner Bratton has a chance to fairly implement the “broken windows” style of policing that avoids the failures of past policy that may have disproportionately targeted minorities and the poor. Currently, loitering and open containers in Hell Square is more lawful than in the Bronx or Bed-Stuy. A mere nine-block area, Hell Square is bounded by E. Houston, Essex, Delancey and Allen Sts. In this small section of New York, the city has created a destination playground for outsiders from Connecticut, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and college students to party and commit offenses that would get other New Yorkers ticketed in their own neighborhoods. The disparity in the implementation of the “broken window” policy — against the poor and minorities — should compel Bratton to address how lawless this section of the Lower East Side has become. If “broken windows” are symbolic of unaccountability, then this is a community of “broken bars” with little-to-zero accountability. In the last five years, the escalation of low-level crimes in Hell Square — such as public urination, open containers (people drinking alcohol on the sidewalk and in public spaces), public intoxication, littering, verbal harassment, loitering, disorderly conduct, etc. — has increased discomfort and fear among neighborhood residents. The accumulation of these incidents forces residents to retreat as a sense of neglect pervades the area. A reduction of community efficacy has resulted in more serious crime, such as grand larceny (often theft of personal electronics), felony assault (up 32 percent in the first quarter of 2014), drugs, vandalism, trespassing and violence, plus greater signs of incivility, perpetuating a spiral of neighborhood decay. The rampant anti-social behavior resulting from high alcohol-outlet density in Hell Square demands a police policy shift from passive crowd control and traffic mitigation to active, real-time policing of crimes consistent with citywide policing of other neighborhoods.
The open-container law is regularly flouted in Hell Square, as seen in this recent photo, contributing to the area’s qualityof-life nightmare, the writer says.
To start fixing this community that is suffering “broken bar” neglect, we need to strictly enforce regulations against public urination and vomiting, open containers, public intoxication, littering, loitering, verbal harassment and disorderly conduct. Ticketing will send a message that the Lower East Side is no longer a place where negligent behavior is above the law. Through hyper-focused concentration on enforcement centered around a zerotolerance policy for minor offenses and disorderly behavior infractions, the negative impacts of alcohol saturation in this community can be significantly reduced. Moreover, police officers simultaneously must develop an understanding of which venues are the source of these issues, not
just limit focus to the end result on the street. Once the root causes can be identified, responsible liquor license holders will be among the beneficiaries of a commercially and socially viable community. Situating “broken windows” policing within the broader context behind community policing is the vision we see to help advance the changes necessary. The prevailing perception among residents is that we have been unable to exert any social control over our community, and seemingly have been left out of the process. And despite the strong police presence, enforcement is not addressing the immediate concerns and problems this community faces from high alcohol-outlet density at the hands of negligent operators and offenders. Moreover, enforcement may not be familiar with the rules, regulations, stipulations or procedures needed to effectively address community concerns and safety, especially regarding particularly bad operators. One solution is Bratton’s “conscious uncoupling” with the ’90s version of “broken windows” toward a modern implementation of the policy: one that emphasizes police integration into communities, developing trust and a working partnership between enforcement and residents to solve problems and crime. This approach will decrease the assumption by police that anyone in a particular area is a potential criminal. But at its base level, “broken windows” policing has to take a blanket approach toward all low-level crimes in all parts of the city, treating all offenders equally. A strong relationship between residents and police officers is paramount to reversing the current course. We advocate for having officers that patrol the neighborhood get to know residents in order to help solve problems. Under the leadership of new commanding officer Joseph Simonetti at the Seventh Precinct, there is an
opportunity for police and community collaboration to directly address immediate problems and persistent crimes, promoting a lawful environment for all members of this community. Reliance on the city’s 3-1-1 quality-oflife complaints hotline cannot substitute for the community policing needed in Hell Square. The 3-1-1 system separates the community from government agencies, delaying resolutions to nonemergency, yet urgent, problems. In this data-driven system, there is no accurate way to truly measure the needs of a community or hold government agencies and / or businesses accountable for resolving issues and conflicts. By redirecting the police focus toward community safety and quality-of-life infractions, any disconnect between data and actual conditions on the ground will be self-correcting. Past strategies have failed, and trust in our governance has eroded. As liquor licenses ballooned, overtaking an entire community, low-level crime has become epidemic. Licensing without emphasis on strong and consistent enforcement is a recipe for the social disorder found in Hell Square. Reversing this community’s blight will only succeed if residents and the local police precinct establish a trusting, working relationship. We need the collective will and participation of these three parties — residents, all business owners and the police — with substantive support from the New York State Liquor Authority and our elected officials. By marrying “community policing” with “broken windows” policing, all of us working together — residents, responsible liquor license holders and non-alcohol businesses — can restore social order and create an opportunity for a sustainable future that allows for economic diversity and a livable community. Boyd is founder, Lower East Side Dwellers
Reverend Al’s informant past is a new species of scandal.
April 17, 2014
Villager wins for design, editorial page, headlines
inning for overall design, headlines, editorial page, photography and more, the Villager took home eight awards in the New York Press Association’s 2013 Better Newspaper Contest. One hundred fifty-eight newspapers — mostly community weeklies — from around New York State submitted entries for the contest, which this year was judged by members of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association. Last year, Jennifer Goodstein, who became The Villager’s publisher in August 2012, spearheaded an ambitious redesign of the newspaper. Updating the look of a classic paper like The Villager, which was founded in 1933, was no small undertaking. Every design element was considered, from the vintage photo of Scoopy the office cat in Scoopy’s Notebook to the paper’s iconic front-page masthead itself. Goodstein handed off the responsibility to Michael Shirey, The Villager’s senior designer, who crafted the top-to-bottom redesign. Out went the historic, hand-cut lettering of The Villager’s original-style masthead, replaced by a bolder, modern font. (In practical terms, the cleaner, more streamlined logo is also far easier to read on a smartphone’s small screen.) Goodstein, along with Editor in Chief Lincoln Anderson and others, provided input and feedback along the way during the process. The paper’s redesign was launched with the Oct. 17, 2013, issue, which featured color on every page, and also contained a photofilled 80th anniversary special section. The issue was laid out by graphic designer Chris Ortiz, who also designed the cover of the anniversary special section. There was praise from some readers, yet also some stinging criticism. But the Better Newspaper Contest judge for this category was singularly wowed — Shirey’s redesign had knocked it out of the park! The Villager was awarded first place
A special Villager supplement Pages 15 to 50
The Villager’s redesign was unveiled in its Oct. 17, 2013, issue, which also included a photo-filled 80th anniversary specialsection insert.
for Overall Design Excellence. In his or her comments, the judge effusively wrote, “New logo — new look for a paper that has been around 80 years! Love it. The Villager is exactly what a weekly community newspaper should look like. Nice ads, photos, use of color, consistent look, not too cluttered.” In addition, Milo Hess won first place for Picture Story for his photos of the Westminster Dog Show. Hess went backstage to capture the canine competitors getting their fur blow-dried or just lounging around while waiting to be judged. “Just when you think you’ve seen all the Westminster photos you could possibly have seen,” the judge wrote, “here comes a presentation with uniqueness, humor and a display of incredible photographic talent. A great job. To take a subject that’s been photographed a million times and still deliver something so different, even better, that’s incredible.” Hess also, umm, “scooped up” honorable mention for Art Photo.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Continued from p. 8
that I sometimes listen to these days. Susan Leelike
Nublu is cool To The Editor: Re “Former squatters fear bar next door will be a riot” (news article, April 10): As a squatter (with family) and a native New Yorker, I can’t wait for Nublu to open! This is far from a frat boy bar. This is a place of innovative, beautiful music, similar to The Stone on E. Second St.
April 17, 2014
I have been to their place down the block many times over the years. I remember Butch Morris and On Davis (homeboys from E. Seventh St.) jammin’ there with their bands. C-Squat should be happy to have them for neighbors. Hopefully, they would have sufficient soundproofing. Mac McGill E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to email@example.com or fax to 212229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 515 Canal St., Suite 1C, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for conﬁrmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.
The Villager garnered second place for its news headlines, which are written by Anderson. In most of the competition’s categories, awards were handed out in two, three or even as many as five divisions, based on newspaper circulation size. But for Headline Writing, all of the state’s papers were competing against each other, lumped into one so-called “open division.” So, The Villager can be said to have the second-best headlines in the state. Among the paper’s winning headline entries were “Blogger skewers conservancy over hot dog purge in the park,” “Typewriter repairman’s job has been punctuated by changes,” and “Weiner, not going down easy, keeps on waging campaign.” “Great plays on words. None made me groan,” the judge wrote. In an award in a very prestigious category, The Villager took third place for Best Editorial Page. This category includes the editorial, opinion pieces (talking points and notebooks), letters to the editor, editorial cartoon and any other illustrations or photos. The winning entry included editorials on Soho street vendors, the mayor’s large-size soda “ban” and the city’s designation of the South Village Historic District. Opinion pieces included Jerry Tallmer’s reflections on his aborted assignment to accompany Ed Koch to a movie and write about Hizzoner as a film critic (Koch pulled out, worrying he would come off looking bad), Ann Votaw’s thoughts on being a struggling Village dancer after seeing “Inside Llewyn Davis,” Chad Marlow’s talking point arguing why Daniel Garodnick would make the best City Council speaker, and Scott Oglesby’s first-person piece on his experiences as a veteran New York City cyclist. “Editorials are really well-written,” the judge commented. “Typography and size of columns keep readers’ interest. Strong opinion pages. These writers definitely work well together, and it shows in this quality paper.” In addition, in another “open category,” The Villager won third place for Coverage of Religion. The winning entries included Anderson’s article on the “miracle” reopening of St. Brigid’s Church on Avenue B after a major renovation saved the building from demolition; Tequila Minsky’s report on the salvaging of the ark at Anshe Meseritz on E. Sixth St. as the building was being redeveloped for residential condos; and Lesley Sussman’s obituary on Rabbi Pesach Ackerman, of Anshe Meseritz. The St. Brigid’s article was extensively illustrated by a two-page spread of Villager reporter Sam Spokony’s terrific photos of the church’s interior, as well as Jefferson Siegel’s photos of Archbishop Timothy Dolan leading the rededication service. “Varied content. Good use of art,” the judge wrote. Bob Krasner won third place for Art Photo for his shot of an artist painting an ornate pair of eyes at Art Around the Park at the HOWL! Festival at Tompkins Square Park. “An interesting juxtaposition of an artist and his work,” the judge in this category
wrote. Ira Blutreich received third place for Editorial Cartoon for his take on surveillance. His toon shows a couple in their living room watching TV while cameras, in turn, watch them from every angle — even from the TV itself. In the foreground, two goldfish in a fishbowl wryly comment on how it’s a shame no one has any privacy nowadays. “Is anything really private anymore?” the judge commented. “A very timely subject matter.” In terms of points won in editorial categories, The Villager finished in the top 10 in the state — exactly 10th, in fact. The awards were announced last weekend at NYPA’s annual spring convention Upstate in Saratoga Springs. Publisher Goodstein was thrilled at the paper’s strong showing, particularly with the top design honors. “Once again, The Villager (along with her sister papers, Downtown Express and Gay City News) captured a number of awards in NYPA’s Better Newspaper Contest,” she said. “As publisher, I was delighted, but not surprised. The dedication, creativity and journalistic excellence Lincoln Anderson brings to The Villager every week ensures quality and style that is sure to be recognized by his peers. “One award was particularly exciting: First Place, Best Overall Design for The Villager. As our loyal readers know, The Villager redesign was launched in October as part of our 80th anniversary edition — this was the winning entry! The redesign was fun, exciting, challenging and, well…scary. It’s an 80-year-old paper, after all. “For how good it feels to be part of a great paper, it feels even better to be part of a great team. The Villager redesign took a village (or at least the entire team at The Villager) to achieve. Every single person in the company weighed in on the changes and offered ideas to freshen the look without losing the paper’s rich legacy. Michael Shirey, our lead designer, created a new, modern look and shepherded the paper through the design process, while Lincoln used his editorial eye to ensure the integrity of the paper was not diminished at the expense of design. The end result: an award-winning design. Way to go team!” It was also a banner year for Gay City News, which won first place in the Magazine category for its Wedding Pride publication and also for Coverage of Religion for articles on the impact of Pope Francis, plus second place for Special Holiday Edition for its Gay Pride issue, and third place for Coverage of Police, Crime and Courts. Editor Paul Schindler won second place for Coverage of Elections and Politics. Downtown Express won third place for Obituaries, including pieces on James Gandolfini and Liz Berger, former president of the Downtown Alliance business improvement district. Over all, NYC Community Media finished fifth in the state in total editorial points for group or chain newspapers.
T I C K E T S O N S A L E E X C L U S I V E LY T O D O W N T O W N R E S I D E N T S A P R I L 13
FREE FILM SCREENINGS TR I B E C A A N D AT&T PR ES E NT F R E E S C R E E N I N G S A L L D AY, A P R I L 2 5 D E TA I L S AT TR I BEC A FI L M .COM/FI L M FO R A L L
S I G N AT U R E S P O N S O R S
S I G N AT U R E M E D I A S P O N S O R S
April 17, 2014
Steve has left the building, but takes a piece of it TRIBES, continued from p. 1
April 17, 2014
PHOTO BY SARAH FERGUSON
non’s second-floor apartment. According to the terms of a legal settlement, the place was to be empty and “broom clean” by midnight on Tues., April 15. Monday night, the eve of his departure, was typically chaotic. The invite for the party went out the same day, and no one seemed to know what we were auctioning or when. Piled on a table in the front room were copies of the debut issue of Tribes magazine from 1991 and other archival materials mixed in with poetry chapbooks, photographs, paintings — even old pots and pans from the kitchen where Cannon never cooked. The maestro Steve was where he always was — sunk in his living room couch — ensconced in conversation with an attractive young actress named Phoebe Halkowich. She and Cannon met two years ago when she answered a Craigslist ad he placed seeking people to read to him. “We became instant best friends,” she joked as Cannon beamed. (Though blind, Cannon’s always had a keen eye for the ladies and remains a chick magnet, even at his age.) Eventually, Cannon’s longtime ally Bob Holman, founder of the Bowery Poetry Club, arrived to start the auction. “Remember, none of us here has any money, so you can bid with things other than money if you want,” Holman told the sparse crowd of poets and artists. He held up a pair of poetry books by frequent Tribes contributor Quincy Troupe, with the opening price of $2.50. Prices never climbed much higher. “Think of the history of tonight,” Holman exhorted. “We started this thing in the summer of 1990, inspired by the reopening of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in 1989,” he explained. “There was this great upsurge of spoken word performance — so many new faces and talent bursting on to the scene — and that caused Steve to realize we needed a magazine to document and preserve it. It was Steve, ‘Mr. Oral Tradition,’ who rescued the literary tradition by realizing there needed to be a written record. And then we had all these poets coming to our stoop workshop to prove their mettle. So that’s how we came to make Tribes,” Holman said as he fished out more items to sell from the hodgepodge on the table. Someone unearthed a parchment painted with a pink cherry blossom and Chinese calligraphy. Could it be the work of famed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, designer of the Olympic stadium in Beijing, who once contributed his art to Tribes magazine? No one was sure. No less than three documentarians were on hand to capture every last filament of Tribes’ existence. But where were the heavy hitters — the folks like Tracie Morris, Paul Beatty, Edwin Torres and Darius James who found their feet at Tribes workshops or hung around drinking and schmoozing into the wee hours. Some, like composer Butch Morris, poet and comrade Amiri Baraka, and spoken word artist Maggie Estep, had recently passed away. So many others had moved on, part of the great Tribes diaspora. Despite all the years of funding and recognition from groups like the Andy Warhol Foundation, Lincoln Center and the Whitney — a proclamation from Mayor Bloomberg! — and being cited by City Lore’s Place Matters as one of the New York City places that really matter — none of this could save Tribes as an institution from the ravages of New York real estate and the frailty of an old man who’d run into debt and squandered his hold on this historic 1800s row house. In truth, the place felt like a dirty, hollowed-out husk, an old ship that had run aground with nothing left but a bunch of nattering poets sniping about the demise of the neighborhood as they sifted through the remains. Steve seemed alternately buoyed and bitter about the situation.
During Tribes’ second-to-last night, Miguel Algarin, founder of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, stopped by to wish his friend and fellow bard Steve Cannon well.
“I think I made a grave mistake, starting this organization and helping people,” he confessed. “I lost a million dollars helping these people. I’ve helped over 1,000 f------ writers and artists, publishing them, letting them have shows here, and you think these bastards give back?” he demanded. “The best thing I could do now is go sit on my ass and write my memoirs.” Just then, Miguel Algarin, founder of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, arrived and let out a big Boricuan howl. “Get rid of it, Steve, move on,” he urged, advising him to assume the stance of no regrets. “Yeah, plenty of s--- happened here, most of it fights and thunder. F--- this s---. He should move on. Steve is making a forward move,” Algarin insisted. “I’m not here to cry, I’m here to steal things,” Algarin quipped as he pried a photo of Cannon from the wall to hang at the cafe in honor of the Nuyorican’s only “professional heckler.” Cannon seemed more than happy to have his visage preserved there. For his part, Holman said he was greatly relieved that an affordable apartment had been found for Steve. “If that hadn’t happened, it would have been everyone holding out here, going down in flames for an idea, and eventually we would have lost and he would have been off to New Orleans,” Holman said of Cannon’s hometown. “The main thing is, Steve is happy,” Holman added. “Before, he would always be angry or concerned about having to oversee the event. Now he doesn’t have to worry about what’s going to be booked next and how is he going to pay for it. “As long as there’s Steve Cannon, there’s gonna be Tribes, and that’s the truth. This doesn’t end here,” Holman added. With all the videographers hovering about, Holman even joked about setting up a livecam in the new apartment to stream “Live from Steve’s Couch,” so we can enjoy Cannon’s every waking moment. And it wasn’t all sad. The fact that so many folks came round to pack him up is testament to the love and respect Cannon has engendered over the years. What’s always been unique about Tribes is Cannon’s ability to attract new enthu-
siasts. At one point, a young Indian chanteuse, who’d taken the name Naima after John Coltrane’s first wife, stopped by to sing the blues. Though she’d only met Cannon three weeks ago at the last open mic, she sat down on the couch with Steve and sang Lead Belly’s “Goodnight Irene” like they were soulmates. The auction crowd was bigger on Tuesday, the final night, but things got hectic when word came down from Cannon’s lawyer that Zhang would be changing the locks the next day. Instead of bidding on art, supporters began hauling boxes of books and stereo equipment through the sleeting rain to the new apartment. Concerned about getting the piano out, Cannon got so upset he called the police to advise him of his rights, and whether Zhang could really force him out without an eviction order. Besides the piano, he still hadn’t figured out how to preserve the painting that conceptual artist David Hammons had installed on the wall in back of his couch. A year ago, a German collector bought the rights to reproduce the piece, which originally featured coils of AfricanAmerican hair, for $1.2 million. But Cannon still owned the rights to the wall and didn’t want to leave it behind. So Holman agreed to camp out with Cannon for the night to protect it, as more calls were made. Early Wednesday morning, a crew of art preservationists came and carefully sawed the whole wall out for safekeeping. (They put up a new wall in its place.) Though Tribes as a destination is gone, Steve says he will keep publishing poets and hosting events at other venues. On Fri., April 18, Cannon will be performing with drummer Billy Martin at The Stone on Avenue C. And on Wed., April 23, there’s a big benefit at the Nuyorican to honor Cannon and Tribes, featuring many Tribes all-stars. (See tribes.org for details.) In addition, last month, Cannon was named 2014’s poet laureate of the Lower East Side by the board of the HOWL! Festival. HOWL! had been slated to occur in Tompkins Square Park and around the East Village and Lower East Side on May 30 through June 1 but has been postponed.
New York CitY’s teaCher exodus 516 Orange/
Former New York City Teachers
730 In addition to one of the highest percentages of needy children, New York City has the largest class sizes and the lowest teacher salaries in the region.
ew York City is in the midst of a teacher exodus. More than 32,000 teachers walked away from jobs in New York City classrooms in the last eleven years, with more than one in eight leaving for jobs in nearby suburban systems that have higher pay, lower class sizes and better teaching conditions. The previous mayor claimed poverty while rolling up multi-billion-dollar surpluses. His Department of Education raised class sizes, focused instruction on test prep rather than real learning, and forced teachers to generate reams of unnecessary paperwork. Tens of thousands left, and more than 25 percent of all city teachers are now contemplating leaving within three years. For me as an educator, the most troubling part of this teacher exodus is that the number of resignations among mid-career teachers (6-15 years of experience) nearly doubled between 2008 and 2013, even
Class Size Grade 3
Half Hollow Hills
in the teeth of the recession. These are teachers who have honed their craft, know how to reach struggling students, and are invaluable as mentors for their newer colleagues. But under the circumstances it’s hard to blame the thousands of teachers who left our classrooms for the suburbs – or the
Attrition of Mid-Career Teachers is Growing ---------------------- vs. ---------------------In 2008, mid-career resignations were 15% of the total. In 2013 they were 43%. 1000
teachers who say they are now planning on leaving. Or the thousands of highly qualified graduates who will choose one of these districts rather than New York City for their first teaching job unless conditions improve. Obviously teachers have a personal stake in this. But so does every public school parent. If New York City is serious about having a first-class school system, it has got to find a way to slow the loss of teachers, particularly to the suburban areas where pay and working conditions are so much better. The city’s economy is steadily improving, and honest budgeting will show that new resources are available from the city and the state.
ritics keep saying that New York City cannot afford to treat its teachers and students fairly. But the real question is this — can we afford not to? — Michael Mulgrew
Resignations ons off teachers h with h 6 to 15 years’’ exper experience. Source: NYC DOE payroll
United Federation of Teachers A Union of Professionals
• 52 Broadway, New York, NY 10004 • www.uft.org
Officers: Michael Mulgrew President, Emil Pietromonaco Secretary, Mel Aaronson Treasurer, LeRoy Barr Assistant Secretary, Mona Romain Assistant Treasurer Vice Presidents: Karen Alford, Carmen Alvarez, Catalina Fortino, Anne Goldman, Janella Hinds, Richard Mantell, Sterling Roberson
April 17, 2014
Inventions, Jell-O and fun gel at Cooper’s block party BY SAM SPOKONY
April 17, 2014
PHOTOS BY SAM SPOKONY
he weather couldn’t have been better for the Cooper Union Founder’s Day block party, on Sun., April 13, on Astor Place between Broadway and Lafayette St. The event honoring the college’s namesake, Peter Cooper (who was born 223 years ago on April 4), featured some innovative work undertaken by both current students and alumni of the institution. The party was kicked off with a ribboncutting ceremony, bottom right, by, from left, Richard Lincer, Cooper Union board of trustees president; Jamshed Bharucha, Cooper Union president; and John Leeper, the Alumni Association president. It was certainly an interesting moment, after the many alumni-organized protests against Bharucha’s and the board’s decision to charge tuition, starting this fall, at the formerly cost-free college. Among the projects on display was an early prototype of the Cooper Lumen, a solar-powered device that’s being designed to provide emergency energy for WiFi connections, lighting and cell phone charging in the event of a natural disaster. Shown with the Lumen, top right, are Professor Toby Cumberbatch, front left, whose class included the project; Cooper alumnus Paul Garrin, who brought the concept to Cooper, and two of the students — Jay Dalal, left, and Elliot Curran — who helped build it. Another interesting product was pre-
sented by alumnus Theo Stewart-Stand, who has invented the eco-friendly Unitensil, which consists of a single piece of foldable, reusable plastic that can become a spoon, fork or knife — allowing users to cut back on the waste caused by disposable plastic utensils. The block party also featured the firstever “Peter Cooper Jell-O Challenge” (since Cooper obtained the very first patent for the manufacture of powdered gelatin in 1845). The winner of the design contest — which included three entrants — was alumna Carol Wolf, whose presentation, “Jello: The Most Important Meal of the Day,” above left, featured the desert molded into the finely crafted shape of a breakfast platter. Gaining an honorable mention in the contest (in other words, third place) was alumnus Barry Drogin, who earlier that day had won an annual Alumni Association award for “extraordinary service” to the college, after founding The Alumni Pioneer, an online publication that helped spark and inform the fight against charging tuition. Drogin’s two-part contest entry, top left, continued that protest by showing the structural difference between a full cup of Jell-O (representing full scholarships) and a half-filled cup (half scholarships). “It’s not sustainable! I was right!” Drogin later declared, after the Jell-O in the half-filled cup eventually flopped over under its own weight.
RE/Mixed Media Festival embraces the theoretical and the practical New tech intersects with the old art of creative appropriation RE/MIXED MEDIA FESTIVAL IV Sat./Sun., April 26/27, 10am-5pm Various locations, at The New School (55 W. 13th St. | at Sixth St.) Sat., April 26, 6-10pm At Culture Hub (47 Great Jones St., 3rd Fl. | btw. Bowery & Lafayette) Tickets & schedule: remixnyc.com Use coupon code VILLAGER for 30% discount on a festival pass
BY TOM TENNEY
n November of 2009, four Brooklyn artists sat at a dinner table in Bushwick, discussing the phenomenon of “remix culture,” the informally connected network of students, scholars, organizations, writers and policymakers who advocate for copyright reform and the artistic practice of systematically reworking and transforming existing works of art in the creation of new ones. Remix, these artists agreed, was nothing new — it had been the de-facto methodology of art making for centuries. With contemporary discourse about remix focused on piracy and copyright infringement, these four wondered how contemporary artists could have more of a voice in a conversation that seemed to be increasingly dominated by corporations, lawyers and mass media. The result was the first RE/Mixed Media Festival, which premiered in May 2010 as an 11-hour marathon event in DUMBO, featuring such artists as Moby,
Lev Manovich’s keynote speech highlights the “remixability” of software as a cultural phenomenon.
Steinski, Jesper Juul and over 60 other musicians, performers, artists, designers and activists. Now in its fourth year, the festival will cross the river into Manhattan, where the weekend-long event will be hosted on April 26 and 27 by the School of Media Studies at The New School in the West Village, and at CultureHub, La MaMa’s art and technology incubator on Great Jones Street. Established in 1975, The School of Media Studies holds the distinction of being the first media studies program in the United States, with a reputation for embracing both the theoretical and practical elements of media, making it the perfect breeding ground for an event that aims to wed critical theory with real-life aesthetic practice. RE/Mixed Media Festival began their partnership with CultureHub in November 2013, as co-curator for a night of performances at REFEST — CultureHub’s annual celebration of new work
PHOTO BY BOB GRUEN
COPYRIGHT QUALCOMM INSTITUTE AT CALIT2
Registration at Arnhold Hall
Tammy Faye Starlite (here, as Nico) will perform an adaptation of her acclaimed performance piece, “Nico/Chelsea Mädchen.”
emerging at the intersection of art and technology. RE/Mixed Media Festival is itself a remix, a hybrid. Built on the idea that the creative work of artists and theoretical work of scholars are merely two sides of the same coin, the festival aims to infuse the traditional academic conference with films, performances, installations and exhibits. Operating on a theory of “cross-pollination,” a festivalgoer may wander from a lecture entitled: “The Next TV: The Aesthetic Possibilities of Online Remix Audiovisual Rhetorics” and into a film screening or installation which puts the academic theories into practice. In fact, this element of discovery is fundamental to the festival’s mission. The event presents itself as a collaborative work, the whole adopting the shape of its constituent parts. While the festival embraces both the theoretical and the practical, its focus leans decidedly towards the aesthetic.
The very word remix has an artistic pedigree, coined in the 1970s as DJ lingo for extended dance versions of disco songs, created by reworking the original or mixing in new elements, often appropriated from other recordings. This practice evolved into sampling, a sine qua non of early hip-hop, in which DJs used segments of existing recordings as building blocks in the creation of new tracks. “Paul’s Boutique,” the Beastie Boys’ 1989 acclaimed second album, included over 100 samples, and became one of the best-selling hip-hop records of all time. Sampling survived as a popular practice amongst DJs and musicians until 1991, when rapper Biz Markie was sued by 70s pop musician Gilbert O’Sullivan over the former’s use of his 1972 hit, “Alone Again (Naturally).” Markie lost the case, and the judgment changed the REMIX, continued on p.16
April 17, 2014
RE/Mixed explores the intersection of art and technology REMIX, continued from p. 15
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April 17, 2014
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sound of hip-hop music forever, requiring that all musicians using samples must first acquire permission from the copyright owners — a practice that, by definition, requires the payment of royalties prohibitive to most emerging artists. As digital technologies took root in the 1990s and professional production tools became available to consumers, the term remix began to be adopted by other arts, such as film and video makers who used these tools to appropriate and re-arrange media content, often as a subversive cultural critique of the original. Video remixers, or “vidders” as they came to be known, created fan-videos of movies and television shows, often constructing alternate narratives by cutting and pasting pieces of the original content. As these practices grew in popularity, they caused more than a few raised eyebrows in Hollywood, and resulted in further lawsuits, anti-piracy campaigns and proposed legislation that would limit technology’s ability to share content across digital networks. Although the word remix has only been in the cultural lexicon for four decades, one point that the RE/ Mixed Media Festival hopes to drive home is that creative appropriation — borrowing, sampling and reworking existing texts — has been used as an aesthetic practice for centuries. Nearly all of Shakespeare’s plays, one of the festival’s producers pointed out, rely on plots borrowed from other stories and poems, a practice not uncommon at the time. “King Lear,” for example, is a retelling of “Historia Regum Britanniae,” written in the 12th century by Geoffrey of Monmouth. In the 20th century, entire genres of art relied on appropriation, such as the Dadaist practice of photomontage, the Pop Art of Warhol and Lichtenstein and the sound experiments of Pierre Schaeffer. By building on these traditions and exhibiting work that continues to utilize such tactics, the producers of RE/Mixed media festival hope that festivalgoers will come away with a newfound appreciation of creative appropriation, as well as its historical importance. Some artists embracing remix culture argue that its foundational principals reach beyond both the aesthetic and political and into the realm of metaphysics. Robert Prichard, one of the festival’s producers and former owner of the downtown NYC performance space Surf Reality, is a practicing Buddhist. He explains his conception of remix by quoting Gertrude Stein, who said, famously, “There’s no there, there.”
Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, curates an exhibit that functions as a companion piece to the forthcoming anthology, “The Imaginary App.”
According to Prichard, Stein’s statement sums up both the Buddhist approach to ontology and the concept of remixing, i.e. creating new works out of old. “There is nothing intrinsic to a table that makes it a table,” Prichard explains, ”and a good carpenter can make it into a bookshelf or a chair by altering its arrangement and the interdependence of its parts.” The oft-misunderstood Buddhist concepts of emptiness and interdependence, he says, mean “nothing has a fixed meaning or identity, but is constantly shifting and moving, things arise from other things, relationships change and everything is dependent on something else. So according to Buddhism, the nature of reality is constant flux, or remix.” As technology continues to evolve and nations around the world struggle with their own questions surrounding copyright, piracy and file sharing, remix culture has become a global movement. International artists have had increasingly strong representation as RE/Mixed Media Festival has grown over the past three years. In 2012, festival producers teamed up with Italy’s nascent MashRome festival, an annual event that celebrates remix in film, and the partnership resulted in a nearly threefold increase in submissions from international artists. This year, nearly a third of the festival’s artists reside outside of the United States, and represent a total of 13 countries. There are plans in the works to create versions of the festival in Berlin, Tokyo and Amsterdam, in addition to other cities within the US. This broadening of the festival’s talent pool and audience, along with this year ’s move from Brooklyn to the more centrally located Manhattan, has also attracted sponsors hoping to reach an international and culturally engaged audience. One of the 2014 sponsors, ThoughtWorks, a Chicago-based software company, is an outspoken champion of the opensource ideal, and sees the festival as an opportunity to expose their company’s work to a new generation of programmers. Since its inception, RE/Mixed Media Festival has attracted artists of all disciplines who embrace the concepts of collaboration, sharing, appropriation and a strong cultural commons from which they draw, and to which they contribute. This year, one of the most out-
spoken proponents of remix culture, Paul D. Miller — aka DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid — will curate an exhibit at the festival entitled “The Imaginary App.” The exhibit is a companion piece to Miller’s forthcoming anthology of the same name, edited by Miller and Svitlana Matviyenko. “The Imaginary App,” as noted on the festival’s website (remixnyc.com), features original icons of nonexistent apps contributed by artists and designers from around the world. Lev Manovich, author of the 2013 book “Software Takes Command” as well as the seminal 2001 text “The Language of New Media,” will deliver the festival’s keynote speech on Saturday, highlighting the “remixability” of software as a cultural phenomenon. Another featured speaker, author David Shields, will speak about his 2010 literary mashup, “Reality Hunger,” a manifesto constructed entirely from existing texts ranging from Picasso to Jonathan Lethem. In addition to speakers and exhibits, and true to its credo, the festival will also feature a variety of installations and performances throughout the weekend. One of the performers, electronic musician and singer Erin Barra, recently released “Dear John,” a single from her upcoming album “Undefined,” through the website blend.io — an online collaboration tool for musicians that has been used by Moby, Prefuse 73 and Plus/Minus. Barra’s strategy is to make the “stems,” recorded segments of the song, available online to fans for “listening, remixing, and reimagining.” Barra maintains that the sharing of culture is a win-win proposition for musicians and audiences alike. “It’s the inheritance of the masses,” she said. “A 15-year-old kid in Lithuania gets to have the files and mess around with them because that is his right and I have granted it and whatever he does with that is his own prerogative. I’m alright with that.” Another performer at this year’s festival, Tammy Faye Starlite, has been a staple in the NYC and international music and cabaret scenes since the mid-1990s. Starlite, who is best known for her satiric characterization of a bible-thumping country singer, has recently charted new territory with her portrayal of Nico, erstwhile Velvet Underground singer and Warhol superstar. On Saturday afternoon, Starlite will perform “Ein Nacht Mit Nico: A Funereal Cabaret,” a production that has been adapted from her much-lauded performance piece, “Nico/Chelsea Mädchen.” All told, the 2014 RE/Mixed Media Festival will host over 70 artists and speakers over the course of the weekend, with Saturday programming broken into two parts — daytime events will be held at The New School from 10am-5pm and, after a break for dinner, will continue at CultureHub from 6-10pm. Both halves of the day will employ the “cross-pollination” programming strategy and include performances, installations and discussions. Sunday is dedicated mainly to hands-on workshops in everything from media literacy to hip-hop. At the festival’s closing event on Sunday, Erin Barra will perform a live remix of all the festival’s works — the films, music, talks and installations — a fitting culmination to a weekend devoted to the art of remix. Tom Tenney — a contributor to this publication on the topics of music, media and technology — is an artist, educator, writer and producer. He is the co-founder and director of the RE/Mixed Media Festival, a contributor to the forthcoming anthology “The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies” and a professor of media studies at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.
Just Do Art BY SCOTT STIFFLER
MICHELE CARLO’S “FISH OUT OF AGUA” at THE NINTH ANNUAL ONE FESTIVAL
Michele Carlo speaks with a comedic voice as pure and refreshing as agua.
into the tale of how a car accident on the way to her father’s burial forced her to deliver the eulogy with a wired jaw. The story resonates, in a way that no punchline-driven routine could ever hope to. In that moment, Carlo finds herself welcomed into the Downtown “performance comedy” scene, and in possession of a creative voice that sets the tone for better days to come. The childhood through college section of Carlo’s 2010 memoir gets the stage adaptation treatment, in her upcoming appearance at The ONE [solo theater] Festival. In 30 minutes, you’ll hear about everything standing in the way of taking that 6 train into the future — including, according to the author’s own press, “her family, her neighborhood...and sometimes, herself.” Wed., April 23 at 8pm & Sat., April 26 at
PHOTO BY JIM CHOW
PHOTO BY JASON THOMPSON
Overcautious children of helicopter parents and grown-ups afraid to follow your bliss, listen up. That woman firmly planted on a soapbox — literal and figurative — is Michele Carlo, and she’s about to unspool a gritty New York story that began back in the day when “the ‘D’ in Avenue D stood for Death…and Drugs. There was no Park Slope South or Williamsburg East or Harlem Light. My New York had junkies and bums and drunks, graffiti and garbage and punks.” Just the same, mothers sent their children out the door in the morning — unchaperoned — with explicit instructions not to return until supper, if even then. You’d think all that freedom of movement would make it easy to leave the old neighborhood and realize her dream of living the artist’s life. But nothing worth having was easy for this redheaded, freckle-faced, Puerto Rican girl from a top-floor tenement walkup in the Bronx. Years later, Carlo put the whole story down on paper, in “Fish Out Of Agua: My Life On Neither Side of The (Subway) Tracks.” Recently, she performed excerpts from that book’s back half at a People’s Improv Theater workshop. The highlight was a touching but defiantly unsentimental connection of the dots between leaving her family and finding herself. Barely making ends meet as a mid-90s Manhattan resident, she draws a blank after summoning the courage to sign up for an open mic slot. The host comes on stage with much-needed words of encouragement, to no avail. Still unable to recall her jokey material, she launches
Crawford M. Collins and Dan Haft, in Armand Ruhlman’s East Village Chronicles play, “Resistance” — part of the East Village Theater Festival.
2pm. At the 4th Street Theatre (83 E. 4th St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.). Purchase tickets ($20) at the door, or online at smarttix. com. For info on the artist, visit michelecarlo.com. For a full festival schedule: theonefestivalnyc.com.
THE FIFTH ANNUAL EAST VILLAGE THEATER FESTIVAL
“Everybody talks about the weather,” quipped Mark Twain, “but nobody does anything about it.” The same might be said for the general sense of loss that comes with each devolutionary shift of the Lower East Side’s demographic plate. Clayton Patterson leaving town and A Gathering of the Tribes closing down? Nobody can say
what the ongoing residential and creative exodus means for the neighborhood — but at least somebody’s hard at work, year after year, making sure there’s a public record of their contributions. Currently at the tail end of a season dedicated to exploring the theme of “Justice,” the Metropolitan Playhouse has always had our admiration for calling attention to forgotten American plays of the past. So it’s worth noting that once a year, their East Village Theater Festival documents the “ever-vital life and lore” of a neighborhood whose identity may be changing, but whose artistic spirit is still very much alive. Now through May 4, short plays and monologues will depict past and present life in the East Village, accompanied by a lobby exhibition of neighborhood photographs by Lower East Side native John Milisenda. The festival brings into alignment two series currently celebrating their 10th year: The East Village Chronicles and the Alphabet City Monologues. “Resistance” is one of the six short “Chronicles” plays. Written by East Village resident Armand Ruhlman and set in the early 2000's, it’s still-timely theme concerns an eccentric group of artists and offbeats “feeling threatened by the predatory nature of New York.” The “Alphabet City” monologues are derived verbatim from conversations with local residents and performed by the interviewers. This year’s crop of six includes Sari Caine as Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Theater for the New City, Crystal Field and Amar Srivistava as L.E.S. Prepatory High School teacher Rian Keating. Through May 4. Mon.-Sun. at 7pm, Sat./ Sun. at 1pm & 4pm. At the Metropolitan Playhouse (220 E. Fourth St., btw. Aves. A & B). Tickets are $20, $15 for students/seniors, $10 for those under 18. To purchase, call 800838-3006 or visit metropolitanplayhouse.org.
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April 17, 2014
Drug mule’s tale suffers from its share of bull Well-acted ‘Traitors’ betrays audience with painfully slow pace PHOTO BY BENOIT PEVERELLI & NIKO TAVERNISE
FILM REVIEW TRAITORS Written & Directed by Sean Gullette In Arabic, English & French with subtitles Runtime: 86 minutes 4/20, 6:30pm | 4/22, 9:45pm | 4/24, 5:30pm | 4/26, 6:30pm At Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea 260 W. 23rd St., btw. 7th & 8th Aves. Info: tribecafilm.com or 646-502-5296
BY REV. JEN MILLER
isclaimer: I am a screenwriter, an underground movie star and a filmmaker. Yet I am not a fan of film festivals, since they charge entrance fees that anyone who is actually underground can’t afford. This is why, two years ago, I founded “Assdance Film Festival” along with filmmaker Courtney Fathom Sell and actor Robert Prichard. Assdance had no entrance fees and the only requirement to get in was that your film had to have been rejected by another film festival. It was a huge success. That said, I give anything a chance — especially when shit’s free. I am also, in no way, a film critic. I am actually currently lying in my sweaty bed gazing at my film collection and noticing that it contains masterpieces such as the Mark Harmon vehicle “Summer School” and the pivotal �80s film, “Hardbodies.” The only movie I like that lacks sex, drugs and violence is “The Wizard of Oz” — probably because it makes me feel like I’m on drugs. (Though it could
At the mic: Chaimae Ben Acha, as Malika, does what she must to help mom and lay down some tracks.
be argued the poppy field scene is ripe with drug references, the house falling on the witch is violent and there’s no sex but they make up for it with midgets.) But when offered a chance to review a movie at the Tribeca Film Festival, I jumped at the chance, since my sparse unemployment earnings generally go to booze and scratchoff tickets, not movie tickets. My trusty editor assigned me to review a film called “Traitors,” which the press release announced was about the female leader of a fictional allgirl band that wants to make a record but can’t afford to. So the lead singer becomes a drug mule. Unfortunately, the pre-festival screening was scheduled at TEN IN THE MORNING ON A SATURDAY and I’d been up for six days on a post-break up sex and beer bender — so not only did I wake up at noon, I also didn’t realize it was Saturday. Luckily, they gave me a screener. Since my BFF, Faceboy, is also too impoverished to watch the moving picture shows, I suggested we watch “Traitors” together. The first thing we noticed about the film is that it was in a language we couldn’t recognize. “Is that French?” Faceboy asked. “I don’t know. I’ve been drinking.” “I don’t like to read at the movies.” Speaking of reading, I’d misread the press release and thought the movie was set in Tasmania. (Turns out it was
actually set in Tangier, but thinking it was in Tasmania was more fun.) “Where are the spinning Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devils f**king sh*t up?” Faceboy wanted to know. The second thing we noticed is that all the subtitles were in WHITE. “Why are the subtitles WHITE?,” I screamed. “I can’t afford reading glasses!” Despite our inability to discern the dialogue, we soon began to follow the plot, in which a young singer named “Malika” turns to transporting drugs to save her mother from eviction while trying to make a record. “Traitors” is beautifully shot and well-acted, but the pace is painfully slow. As Face noted, “My fave thing about this movie are the cigarette breaks I’m taking.” One scene involves Malika fixing a car for four minutes, after which she pronounces, “I don’t drink and I don’t smoke” — which could explain the slow pacing. All film characters should drink and smoke, a la Dom DeLuise and Burt Reynolds landing a plane in a strip mall in order to pick up more Budweiser in “The Cannonball Run.” Drinking and smoking are great plot devices because they induce characters to make bad life decisions. Eventually, Faceboy grew frustrated. “When is Bruce Willis gonna show up and just start shootin’ everyone?” Sadly, Bruce never does show up. The movie could have used some bj’s, some of the aforementioned Willis, some titties and a bank robbery. When Malika gets arrested and hosed down by cops, my digits were crossed that it was about to turn into a Linda Blair/woman-in-prison-style flick — but it never does. This doesn’t mean this is not a noteworthy movie; it’s just not my cup of tea. I’m depressed enough as it is.
April 17, 2014
Best laid schemes THEATER OF MICE AND MEN At the Longacre Theatre 220 W. 48th St. (btw. Broadway & Eighth Ave.) Through July 27 Tues.-Sat. at 8pm Wed., Sat. at 2pm Sun. at 3pm Tickets: $35-$147 Visit telecharge.com or call 212-239-6200
BY DAVID KENNERLEY
urely James Franco has a lavish walk-in closet to store his many hats. A hyperactive, red-hot celebrity mostly known for his film and television roles, he is also a cutting-edge director, screenwriter, producer, book author, poet, grad student, teacher, visual artist, Academy Award co-host, sex symbol, and shameless selfie model. Just last week, his show of photographs opened at the prestigious Pace Gallery in West Chelsea, plus he had a surprise cameo on “SNL.” In recent years, critics have accused the 35-year-old overachiever of spreading himself too thin, often sacrificing quality for quantity. So it was with no small amount of trepidation that I entered the Longacre Theatre where John Steinbeck’s 1937 drama based on his iconic novella “Of Mice and Men” is being revived after a 40-year absence. Franco plays George, the bossy itinerant farmhand teamed with the sweet, slow-witted Lennie, portrayed by Chris O’Dowd (best known for the hit film comedy “Bridesmaids”).
This marks the Broadway debut for both leads and much of the supporting cast. In fact, Franco’s Playbill bio lists no theater credits whatsoever (though the back cover features a debonair Franco in a Gucci men’s fragrance ad). For the most part, the superbly muscular and resonant production is a success. After a shaky first scene, which establishes the symbiotic bond between the two lonely drifters camping out in the Salinas Valley of California before their next ranch gig, Franco hits his stride and delivers a solid, sensitive performance. Even a Broadway veteran would find this drama demanding — it’s a lean character-driven, Depression-era period piece with heavy cowboy-esque accents and dialogue that requires uncommon skill and dexterity. Franco is at his best in the lighter moments, like when he tells the emphatic, childlike Lennie the story about getting their own little farm on a couple of acres, with a cow and some pigs and plenty of rabbits, where they can “live off the fat of the land,” answering to nobody. Lennie knows the story by heart, but insists George tell it over and over. “It ain’t the same if I tell it,” Lennie says. Lead producer David Binder, who is having a boffo season with “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” opening April 22, actually handpicked Franco for the role. Franco has a track record of interpreting American classics — he directed and starred in William Faulkner’s “As I Lay Dying,” for example — and has said in interviews he has an affinity for the material, growing up in Palo Alto not far from where the action takes place. He also identifies with the fiercely independent characters. As the gentle giant Lennie, O’Dowd has the tougher role, mastering the tics and mannerisms of a mentally impaired person. Yet he is quite convincing, articulating Lenny’s childlike wonder in petting fragile, furry creatures and his violent temper tantrums with fluidity. Leighton Meester (“Gossip Girl”), another
PHOTO BY RICHARD PHIBBS
James Franco makes his Broadway debut in a sturdy Steinbeck classic
James Franco and Chris O’Dowd in the revival of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.”
Broadway neophyte, is spot-on as the wife of the ranch owner’s son, Curley (she’s not given a name). The sole female character in the 10-person drama, she’s a flirty, bored “tart” who upsets the men-only balance of the bunkhouse. With just the right mix of pushiness and vulnerability, Meester elicits our sympathy for Curley’s wife being stuck with a jealous husband (an excellent Alex Morf) in the middle of nowhere. This “Of Mice and Men” owes much of its quiet intensity to director Anna D. Shapiro, who won the best director Tony for “August: Osage County.” It’s a pure, gimmick-free production that respects the text and time period, aided by Todd Rosenthal’s detailed set of a grimy, dilapidated bunkhouse. And if you’re hoping to see Franco shirtless, you’ll need to look elsewhere (try Instagram). Even though most of us know the inevita-
ble, doubly tragic climax from reading the novella in high school, it still lands brutally hard, like a sucker punch to the gut. Refreshingly, Shapiro adds a soft touch to a normally testosterone-drenched story, bringing out the tender side of George and Lennie’s partnership. While there is no trace of the homoerotic, there is a strong homocentric streak. The idea of two guys who “string along together” is almost unheard of and raises eyebrows among the ranch hands. The rootless duo’s dream of shucking convention and going off to create a life together — no woman is mentioned in this fantasy — where they can take care of each other is not unlike LGBT folk who have been forging their own nontraditional families for decades. “I ain’t got no people,” George explains. “Him and me… got kinda used to each other after a little while.”
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April 17, 2014
Behind blue prison bars in Tbilisi
‘Brides’ a fine addition to the incarceration chronicle genre FILM REVIEW BRIDES Directed by Tinatin Kajrishvili Screenplay by Tinatin Kajrishvili & David Chubinishvili In Georgian, with English subtitles Runtime: 95 minutes 4/18, 7pm at AMC Loews Village 7 (66 Third Ave., at 11th St.) 4/20, 4:30pm | 4/21, 9:45pm 4/26, 1pm at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea (260 W. 23rd St., btw. 7th & 8th Aves.) Info: tribecafilm.com or 646-502-5296 PHOTO BY GOGA DEVARIANI
BY RANIA RICHARDSON
young Georgian woman struggles to hold her life together as she waits for the father of her children to finish a ten-year prison sentence in this fine addition to an everexpanding body of international incarceration chronicles. The drama is even more poignant with the knowledge that director Tina-
The brides, waiting to meet their imprisoned husbands.
tin Kajrishvili and her co-writer, husband David Chubinishvili, based it on their own true-life experiences when he was behind bars. The debut feature for Kajrishvili world-premiered at the Ber-
lin International Film Festival in February. Turbulence in post-Soviet Georgia left many families with members in prison — and here, seamstress Nutsa (Mari
Kitia) awaits Goga (Giorgi Maskharashvili), who is in jail for an unspecified crime. “They’re all here for ‘stealing a bike,’ ” sighs one official in the correctional facility. A new rule allows women to visit their men for an hour each month if they are married, so women of many generations gather there for a quick function that will legalize their unions and make them “brides.” The quiet film, shot in dusty hues, focuses on quotidian life and unremarkable moments. The tale is infused with an element of suspense after Goga describes a short story by Yukio Mishima to Nutsa, in which a prisoner and his wife commit mutual suicide. Eventually Goga’s children and friends drift away emotionally. Nutsa is attracted to a customer who comes to her for sewing alterations, but her heart is with her husband. When conjugal prison visits are finally allowed, Nutsa unearths the polka dot dress from their first date to join him in a motel-like development surrounded by blue prison bars. “I’ve been sleeping with 40 men for four years,” says Goga, incredulous that he can finally lay with his wife. The two share “forbidden” chewing gum and listen to the other prisoners singing to their loved ones. Their faces register the emotions of sorrow, even as their reunion seems joyful on the surface.
TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL VENUES & TICKETING INFO VENUES
BOW TIE CINEMAS CHELSEA 260 West 23rd St. (btw. 7th & 8th Aves.)
APPLE STORE, 14th St.
approximately 45 minutes prior to scheduled start times at the venue.
401 West 14th St. (at 9th Ave.)
Admission will begin approximately 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start time, based on availability (limit, one Rush Ticket per person).
BARNES & NOBLE UNION SQUARE 33 East 17th St. (btw. Broadway & Park Ave.)
Purchase at the event’s screening venue, or by calling 646-502-5296.
333 West 23rd St. (btw. 8th & 9th Aves.)
AMC LOEWS VILLAGE 7 66 Third Ave. (at 11th St.)
SINGLE TICKETS Evening/Weekend screenings are $17 (after 6pm, Mon.-Fri. & Sat./
SAME DAY TICKETS Tickets are available at venue box offices during the festival, about one hour before the venue’s first screening/event of the day.
BMCC TRIBECA PAC
Sun., prior to 11pm). Matinee/Late Night screenings (prior to 6pm,
199 Chambers St. (btw. Greenwich & West Sts.)
Mon.-Fri. or after 11pm daily) are $9. Tribeca Talks are $30.
APPLE STORE, SoHo
103 Prince St. (btw. Greene & Mercer Sts.)
Screenings and events that have no more advance tickets avail-
(with proof of residency). Service charges and fulfillment fees
able will be listed as Rush (aka stand-by) Tickets. Lines will form
April 17, 2014
DISCOUNTS Discounts are available at Ticket Outlets for students (with valid ID), seniors (age 62+) and select Downtown Manhattan residents
Veterans keep fighting — against curfew for memorial BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL
PHOTO BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL
group of activist local veterans have put the lie to General Douglas MacArthur’s famous saying, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” For the fourth time in three years, several indomitable gaffers were arrested late last Friday night at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Water St. in Lower Manhattan. Their chief complaint has been the memorial’s posted closing time of 10 p.m. The vets feel they should be able to visit their own monument anytime. “We believe that the need to grieve, and the need for reflection, cannot be legislated,” said Bill Perry, 67, a disabled veteran, who was one of three vets and three supporters arrested. Just before the 10 p.m. closing time, Walter Gafforio, 67, stood in the rain holding a banner reading, “Nightmares of War Don’t End at 10 p.m.” “I can’t see how the police arrest a bunch of old vets for standing in front of their memorial, when they leave the bankers alone,” said Gafforio, who served in the Army in Vietnam. A police commander gave several warnings through a bullhorn, before officers,
their belts holding clumps of plastic handcuffs, began lining the six up against a glass wall of the memorial. “There’s no reason for this park to be closed,” said John Spitzberg, 76, a member of Veterans For Peace, before he was led away. As the crowd chanted, “Shame,” the six were walked to a police van, where their photos were taken before they were loaded inside. Perry, a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, said police were patient and respectful of those who were cuffed. They were taken to the 7th Precinct, given summonses and released an hour later. At their trial last July, more than a dozen vets arrested for trespassing under similar circumstances in 2012 were found guilty but had their charges dismissed. At that trial’s conclusion, Judge Robert Mandelbaum, looking over a courtroom of defendants aged 50 to 86, reasoned that, “Justice cries out for a dismissal.” However, Mandelbaum cautioned, “A dismissal here can in no way be taken as a license for anyone here to return to the plaza after 10 p.m.” The six will be back in summons court on June 18. While past demonstrations at the memorial have coincided with the anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan,
Richard Lynch of Staten Island, a constant presence in Zuccotti Park during Occupy Wall Street, being arrested at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on April 4.
last Friday’s was part of Wave of Action, a worldwide effort marked by gatherings and protests at former Occupy Wall Street locations.
Almost lost in the cluster of Friday’s events was another sad milestone, as 2,301 Americans were listed killed in Afghanistan since the start of that war.
John Lesch, 69, founded alt paper, lived in the East Village OBITUARY
ohn Paterson Lesch, a former resident of the East Village, where he briefly ran an alternative newspaper, died .....Feb. 28 in Pennsylvania. The cause of death was cancer. He was 69. John was born in Misericordia Hospital in the Bronx in 1944 to Samuel, an editor at The Wall Street Journal, and Margaret Lesch. For the first few years of his life, the family lived at Clinton Court, a small “back building,” at 422½ W. 46th St., located in a courtyard in the block’s interior. The family moved to Greenwich, Connecticut, in the early 1950s. John went to Cherry Lawn High School in Darien and graduated from Greenwich High School in 1963. He attended Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. There he met and married Jane Ward. They moved to the Barre-Montpelier area in Vermont, where John worked as an editor at the Times-Argus. They had four boys: Shawn, Jason, Damien and Forrest Lesch-Middleton. In the late ’70s, the marriage ended, and John relocated back to New York City where he founded a short-lived alterna-
tive newspaper, The Other Paper, in the East Village. He lived in the East Village nearly 20 years, and worked for Save the Children and McNamee Consulting, as John Lesch. well as Dinosaur Hill, a children’s store on E. Ninth St., where he set up its computer systems. In the ’90s, Lesch moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He settled in Kingston, and spent about 10 years living in a tent in bucolic Kirby Park by the Black Diamond Bridge. He was estranged from his family. About a year ago, with help from some friends, he was able to move indoors, and was in the midst of fixing up his apartment, working on writing projects and renewing his interest in shortwave radio. His call sign was K1VSW. He is survived by his children, his sister, Margradel Hicks, of Burlington, Vermont, his nieces, Laura and Geneva, and a few good friends. Pam Pier, Dinosaur Hill’s owner, said of Lesch, “He was brilliant, unusual, intense and funny...and many others loved him.” April 17, 2014
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Lady Furies are raring to represent L.E.S. in Series SPORTS BY LAUREN VESPOLI
PHOTOS BY DAMIEN ACEVEDO
ans of the 1979 action thriller “The Warriors” might recall the Baseball Furies — a fierce group with painted faces and New York Yankees-inspired uniforms — as one of the movie’s many gangs. Well, a new group of Furies is taking Downtown by storm: The Lady Furies, a 10-and-under softball team that will be the first girls’ squad to represent the Lower East Side in the Little League World Series, which will take place this August. Early last Saturday morning on a field overlooking the East River, the Furies practiced hitting, throwing and running in their red-and-white game-day uniforms. Under the instruction of coaches and parents Damien Acevedo, Rey Lorenzi and Ron Ortiz, the girls practiced rounding first base and preparing to steal second. “Be aggressive!” Acevedo encouraged a player as she sprinted toward first. A lifelong resident of the Lower East Side, Acevedo spearheaded the team’s founding last November after meeting Lorenzi at Corlears Hook Park on Jackson and Cherry Sts. Acevedo was practicing softball with his daughter Kayla, and the two men hit it off after realizing they were both lifelong baseball players with young daughters. In addition to Kayla and Lorenzi’s daughter Madison, Acevedo recruited 11 other 9- and 10-year-old girls to the team and began winter clinics in November. “We’re working with these girls literally all year,” Acevedo said. After the spring and summer competitive seasons comes fall ball and then winter clinics, he said. “There are really only two or three weeks out of the year when they’re not playing,” he noted. For the other 50-odd weeks, the girls are engaged in a rigorous training regimen that echoes the ferocity of their namesake. “We make it very clear to the parents, you’ve gotta be committed,” Acevedo said. During the spring season, the team practices three times per week, with games on Saturday and Sunday. A professional pitching coach trains five of the girls every Wednesday, and local pitching coach Annaly Gonzalez works with them one or two times per week. For cross-training, on Fridays the team attends mixed martial arts self-defense classes, taught by the New York Police Department at P.S. 142. “It’s a three-hour workout, and another way for the girls to bond,” Acevedo said. However, bonding seems to have come naturally to the team, none of whom had known each other previously. Outside of practice, the players and their families spend time socializing together through activities such as team barbeques and sleepovers. “We’re really close-knit,” Acevedo said.
The fledgling Lady Furies softball team practices 50 weeks out of the year, and even cross-trains with mixed martial arts.
“They’ve had to get to know each other,” Lorenzi added. “We want them to say, ‘These are my sisters.’ ” “I like my team because they’re really strong and nice,” said Madison. “They don’t make you feel bad if you hit an out. They’ll cheer and give you high fives.” The Furies’ first game of the spring in the Felix Millan Little League — which holds the Lower East Side charter for the Little League World Series — is this Saturday against Yorkville. The Downtown team is ready to begin making a lasting impression
in the league and begin its journey to the championship series in Portland, Oregon. “We play to win. We want to be the face of the Lower East Side,” said Acevedo. “When people think softball, we want them to think Lady Furies.” However, the team still needs players, noted Lorenzi, and the coaches can teach beginners over the summer, but they have to be “willing to work.” Acevedo has come a long way with his daughters — the eldest plays in the 14-and-under league. He recalled how,
initially, they didn’t think they wanted to play softball. “I got them in a batting cage, and they changed their minds,” he said. Now, the Furies boasts 13 members excited to play year-round. “The girls’ dedication is amazing,” Lorenzi said. “This team is always going to be here,” chimed in Acevedo. “We’ll be representing the Lower East Side in the Little League World Series year in and year out. Next year we’ll be even better.” April 17, 2014
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April 17, 2014