The Paper of Record for East and West Villages, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown
May 1, 2014 • FREE Volume 4 • Number 12
C.B. 3 is lacking leadership diversity, member charges BY LESLEY SUSSMAN
t was a rough night for Community Board 3 Chairperson Gigi Li, who found herself under sharp attack by a fellow board member who accused her of “consistently and regularly” failing to appoint any African-American or Latino
members to high-ranking positions on the board’s committees, subcommittees and task forces during Li’s one-year tenure. The stinging accusation, with its thinly veiled suggestion that racial bias was behind it all, was made by board member Ayo Harrington, who is AfricanC.B. 3, continued on p. 6
BY JOSH ROGERS
ayor de Blasio last week put Julie Menin in charge of one of his signature priorities — providing paid sick leave to small business workers — when he tapped her to be the city’s next Consumer
Affairs commissioner. Menin, 46, the former chairperson of Community Board 1 and a former candidate for borough president, said Tuesday that there will be a massive outreach campaign to workers and owners so they understand the rights MENIN, continued on p. 23
PHOTOS BY SAM SPOKONY
De Blasio taps Menin as new commissioner of Consumer Affairs Chelsea Clinton, left, and Hillary Clinton were the featured guests at a Lower Eastside Girls Club forum, which was held as part of the Clinton Foundation’s “No Ceilings” initiative for girls across the world.
Drawing strength from an idol, teen says she’s undocumented BY SAM SPOKONY
t a high-profile forum at the Lower Eastside Girls Club last Thursday, all eyes were initially on the organization’s featured guests, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, who were there speaking and taking questions as part of the
Clinton Foundation’s “No Ceilings” initiative to empower girls across the world. But for one teen in attendance, the event’s Q&A period quickly became one of the most important moments of her life. Nova Bajamonti, 19, a student who began attending L.E.S. Girls Club
programs several years ago and has now become a proud Girls Club employee, raised her hand, stood up and made an admission that drew gasps and applause from the crowd. “For the first time publicly, I want to say that I’m an undocumented SPEAKING OUT, continued on p. 14
Gay man wins $450K for false arrest..................page 4 Keeping up with Gale ........page 11 Will the 3D economy set you free?......................page 9 www.EastVillagerNews.com
PHOTO BY STEVEN BRENER
Garden lovers spring into Lower East Side pageant On Saturday, about 100 Lower East Side gardeners and supporters took part in a new pageant intended to celebrate the neighborhood’s abundant green spaces, while calling attention to the need to make all community gardens permanent. Called Spring Awakening, the event harkened back to the Earth Celebrations pageant of old, with homemade costumes, music, a “poetry romp” and street revelry. Four different parade groups set off from different locations and meandered through the neighborhood visiting various green havens, then converged on El Jardin del Paradiso, on E. Fourth St., which is home to a massive tree fort. Above, everyone gathered for a group photo in All People’s Garden, on E. Third St. Herman Hewitt, Community Board 3 first vice chairperson, is at left in first row, in green sweatshirt.
Tribes poet to be ‘Cannonized’ all throughout the weekend PHOTO BY SARAH FERGUSON
May 1, 2014
Steve Cannon laughed with poet Jesus-Papaleto Melendez, one of the many bards who came out to serenade him at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe last Wed., April 23. The benefit was organized by friends to raise money to help defray Cannon’s moving expenses, after he was forced out of his home of 40 years. This Saturday, Cannon will be hosting a release party for the latest issue of Tribes magazine, at Bowery Arts & Science, at Bowery Poetry, 308 Bowery, at 1 p.m. And on Sunday, Cannon will be named a “Lower East Side Community Hero” at a presentation in the East River Park, part of the inaugural Lower East Side History Month celebration (leshistorymonth.org).
YOU GO, ELF GIRL! Congratulations to the Lower East Side’s Reverend Jen for landing the cover photo on this week’s Time Out New York! The elfin-eared Villager contributor is the veritable symbol for the mag’s take on “The City’s Secret Weird Side — It’s still out there, you just have to look for it.” Well, if you’re a Villager reader, you don’t have to look hard for Reverend Jen: You can frequently find her right in the paper’s art section, where she writes her quirky “Adventures of an Underemployed Urban Elf” column — ranging from inebriated mini golf excursions in Hudson River Park to cheap L.E.S. thrills. “I am stoked to be on the cover!” Reverend Jen told us. “Though of course it means I’ll have a dozen new stalkers. But it also means that maybe someone out there will buy one of my five published books and perhaps I’ll get a royalty check for the first time ever. Maybe someone will even publish one of the two books I wrote last year. I don’t know, but right now I don’t have a phone, a computer, rent money or any sense of stability whatsoever. Hoping this helps! I do like that they didn’t photoshop out the lines around my eyes. I earned those lines. And, in reference to The Villager, I have had a blast writing for it. Of course, anytime you get your writing out there, it puts you in the public eye, so no doubt it helped.” READ ALL ABOUT IT! Astor Place newsstand vendor Jerry Delakas is back in action at his kiosk after taking a little time off to recuperate. “He’s back on track,” Speedy at Astor Place Hairstylists told us. Delakas, who had felt short of breath coming up a subway stairway a while back, said he’s feeling a bit better, but still not 100 percent. He’s going for another test this Thurs., May 1, up at New York Presbyterian Hospital on W. 168th St. “They’re going inside,” he said, pointing to his chest. Speedy said he just wishes Delakas, for his own health, would stop smoking. And, hey, what happened to Kelly King’s cool “Victory”
sign in gold letters that used to be at the top of Delakas’s stand? Surely, some Consumer Affairs inspector must have pulled it down? The veteran vendor just shrugged. “They took it in the night,” he said. “I don’t want to point fingers.”
BIKE-LANE BLUES: The Noho-Bowery Stakeholders’ Zella Jones was not happy when the Department of Transportation started moving forward with the construction of the Fourth Ave./Lafayette St. protected bike lane. In fact, according to Shirley Secunda, chairperson of the C.B. 2 Traffic and Transportation Committee, Jones had been asking for a three-year moratorium on constructing the lane, so that all the construction projects along the street could finish up. But this is New York — does construction ever stop? PLAYGROUND SURFACE FIX: In more park-related news, over at Union Square Park, the playground is closed for a few weeks for a $150,000 renovation of the safety surface. A spokesperson for the Union Square Partnership business improvement district told us: “Thanks to the generous contributions from local residents and businesses who support the Partnership’s work, they’re able to make this happen. This work is necessary because of the heavy use that the wildly popular play space has experienced since it opened in December 2009. Work will start at the end of April and take between two to three weeks, and the playground will be open for use before the start of the busy spring/summer season.” THIS WEEK IN OUR ONLINE EDITION, at thevillager. com, read Sarah Ferguson’s latest report on East Village radical attorney Stanley Cohen: “Stanley Cohen speaks out about tax charges, as supporters rally to his defense.”
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May 1, 2014
City pays out $450,000 for porn shop false arrest BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
Fighting to make Lower Manhattan the greatest place to live, work, and raise a family.
Assemblyman Shelly Silver If you need assistance, please contact my office at (212) 312-1420 or email email@example.com.
May 1, 2014
PHOTO BY VADIM SHEPEL
gay man who charged he was falsely arrested for prostitution in an East Village porn shop in 2008 has settled the federal civil rights lawsuit he brought against New York City for $450,000. “Settling this case was in the best interest of all parties,” Nick Paolucci, the deputy director of communications in the city’s Law Department, wrote in an April 25 e-mail. Robert Pinter, who brought the lawsuit, said he will receive $50,000 in the settlement, and the remaining $400,000 will compensate his attorneys, Jeffrey Rothman and James Meyerson. Pinter, 58, was one of 41 men known to have been arrested for prostitution in six Manhattan adult shops in 2008 and early 2009. Pinter, who was then 52, was arrested in Blue Door Video, on First Ave. near Fifth St., by officers in the Manhattan South Vice Enforcement Squad. He first agreed to consensual sex with a much younger man, who turned out to be an undercover police officer, but as they were leaving the store, the younger man then said he would pay for the sex. Pinter was arrested after he said nothing to the offer of money. Pinter initially pleaded guilty to a lesser
charge and received an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. He eventually withdrew the plea and his case was dismissed. The Manhattan district attorney also dropped prosecutions of some other gay defendants. Pinter said he was caught off guard by the undercover officer’s offer of money and quickly decided there was no possibility he would in fact have sex with him, though the two, according to Pinter, continued engaging in “playful banter” while leaving the store. Several men who were also arrested by vice cops spoke to Gay City News, The Villager’s sister paper, in 2009 and said they were also offered cash after agreeing to consensual sex. Some were arrested despite refusing the money. Others arrested said they never even agreed to the consensual sex, let alone to exchanging cash for sex. Those men pleaded not guilty and their cases were dismissed. The city, which had been on a campaign to shut down porn shops since Rudy Giuliani was mayor, cited the prostitution arrests in nuisance abatement lawsuits that were brought against the porn businesses in an effort to close them down. Four other men also sued the city in 2009 and settled their federal cases in 2011, with one getting $25,001 and the other three getting $45,001. The same vice cops also made
Robert Pinter at a 2009 rally protesting the arrests of gay and bisexual men at Manhattan adult video stores.
prostitution arrests in spas, and another gay man, who was arrested in a spa, sued in state court and that case is ongoing. Pinter sued in 2009 and has battled the city since, with the Bloomberg administration designating his case as “no pay,” meaning there would be no settlement. Mayor Bill de Blasio has indicated an interest in ending high-profile lawsuits, such as the case brought in 2002 by five men who were convicted based on false confessions in a 1990 rape of a woman in Central Park. The Pinter settlement follows the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ denial of the city’s appeal of U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin October 2013 ruling allowing Pinter to proceed with his lawsuit. In separate letters in recent months, the six openly gay and lesbian city councilmembers and a group of prominent L.G.B.T. community leaders urged the Law Department to settle Pinter’s case. The councilmembers’ letter said Pinter’s “lawsuit involves insidious entrapment of a gay man. Such policing tactics, especially when a gay man is involved, bring up very painful memories of an oppressive time in this country when such actions were even more widespread.”
The 14 prostitution arrests in Blue Door were notable because nine of the 14 men busted there were over 40. Only one of the 14 had a prior arrest and that was for grand larceny. Men arrested in the other five video shops ranged in age from their late teens to early 40s. New York Police Department documents suggest that racial profiling in addition to the targeting of older gay and bisexual men may have played a role in the prostitution arrests. Over all, 18 of the 41 arrestees were Latino and 14 were African-American. Seven were white and two were Asian. Seventyeight percent of the men arrested were either Latino or African-American. N.Y.P.D. records suggest that police were not arresting prostitutes. Among the 41 men arrested in all six shops, 15 had prior arrests with a few with extensive criminal records, but just two out of the 41 had prior arrests for prostitution. The same vice cops who made the porn shop busts also made at least 16 other prostitution arrests of men and a few women in two Manhattan spas. Those spas were also sued in nuisance abatement lawsuits.
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POLICE BLOTTER Police arrested Niklas Bergstrom, 41, early on Sat., April 26, after he allegedly beat up his girlfriend in their room at the Standard Hotel. Officers responded to a call from the 848 Washington St. hotel — known for its achitectural straddling of the High Line — around 2:30 a.m. They reportedly found Bergstrom and the girlfriend (whose name and age were not released) still inside the room, both bloodied. The couple were visiting from Sweden, according to a police source. The girlfriend, who was wearing only a towel, had blood on her mouth and teeth and scratch marks on her arm, and claimed that Bergstrom hit her and tried to suffocate her with a pillow, police said. Bergstrom also had a small cut on his left hand, which officers believed may have been caused by striking the woman, according the report filed with the Manhattan district attorney. Bergstrom was charged with two counts of assault, criminal obstruction of breathing and harassment.
Just a few sips? Police arrested Brian Gonzalez, 29, after they said he drove drunk through the West Village early on Thurs., April 24. Gonzalez, driving north on Greenwich St. in a 2010 Mercedes-Benz, was pulled over around 1:30 a.m. after he blew through the stop sign at Gansevoort St., police said. He reportedly smelled of alcohol and couldn’t hide his watery and bloodshot eyes, eventually admitting to the officers that he “had a few sips of my girlfriend’s drink.” Cops said Gonzalez, who has a prior D.W.I. conviction, was also reportedly driving with a suspended license. And although Gonzalez refused to take breath tests at the scene or back at the precinct, he was slapped with felony charges for both D.W.I. and the suspended license.
Basement burglar Michael Davila, 25, was arrested early on April 25 after allegedly breaking into a vacant basement near Sheridan Square. A witness told officers he spotted Davila pulling on the cellar doors of 51 Grove St. — formerly Betel, an upscale Thai restaurant that closed down in September
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Marked-up mailbox Police arrested Yevgeniy Volkov, 25, after he allegedly tagged a mailbox in the Meatpacking District with graffiti early on April 23. Cops said they spotted Volkov by the green U.S. Postal Service box — the color of which, according to a U.S.P.S. rep quoted in a Gothamist article, designates it’s for “official postal use only” — around 1:30 a.m., with a white pen in hand. The alleged vandal may not exactly have been an expert, because the officers, in their report, declared his tag on the official box to be “illegible.” Volkov also failed when it came to footwork, since he reportedly tried to flee the scene but was quickly chased down by the arresting officers. He was charged with criminal mischief, making graffiti, possession of graffiti instruments and resisting arrest.
Card collar Jose Galvez, 23, was arrested early on April 25 after allegedly clogging up a West Village subway station while toting a stolen credit card. Officers said they saw Galvez blocking a turnstile at the W. Fourth St. station around 1 a.m., preventing some transit riders from entering and exiting, while also asking passersby for a free MetroCard swipe. When they subsequently stopped and searched him, police found the credit card — which belongs to a woman and had previously been reported stolen — in his pocket. Galvez was charged with criminal possession of stolen property.
PHOTO BY DANNY SANCHEZ
— around 2:15 a.m. After several tries, the would-be burglar was reportedly able to yank open the doors and walk inside. But the witness had, by that point, already called police to report the incident. Officers soon found Davila inside the basement, which is currently under construction — rumors on foodie blogs state that a different restaurant could be opening up soon — and the red-handed perpetrator claimed that he was there to “take scrap metal,” according to the police report. But he reportedly had no such permission, and was charged with burglary.
May 1, 2014
C.B. 3 lacks leadership diversity, member charges C.B. 3, continued from p. 1
American, at Wednesday night’s C.B. 3 full board meeting at P.S. 20, at 166 Essex St. The matter is scheduled to be investigated by the city’s district office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission following a letter Harrington wrote to Li and the Borough President’s Office regarding the issue. Harrington’s remarks sparked a heated one-hour discussion about the board’s current appointment policy in which all the chairpersons of the various committees, subcommittees and task forces are selected by the board’s chairperson. Some board members called for a complete overhaul of the system. A visibly upset Li angrily denied the suggestion that race played any role in her decision-making. She told Harrington that as a Chinese-American woman, “the issue of diversity is not lost on me. It’s something I think about every single day.” Li took over the leadership of the community board about a year ago when former C.B.3 Chairperson Dominic Berg resigned. At Tuesday night’s meeting, she said she was “extremely upset by the manner in which these allegations have been made and communicated. “I’ve worked tirelessly to increase diversity on this board,” she said. “I take this very seriously and I’m pleased that an E.E.O.C. investigation will take place.” The controversy began last year when Harrington, who has an extensive background in children’s education, asked Li to be named as the replacement for the outgoing chairperson of C.B. 3’s Human Services, Health, Disability & Seniors/Youth & Education Committee. In Harrington’s letter — copies of which were distributed at Tuesday’s meeting — she said that Li told her “a member had to be on the community board for a year before being considered” for a chairmanship. Harrington further noted that two other board members — one of whom is AfricanAmerican — asked to jointly co-chair the committee but were also rejected by Li, who said that C.B. 3’s bylaws do not allow for
Ayo Harrington, above, accused C.B. 3 Chairperson Gigi Li of bypassing African-American and Latino board members for committee chairperson positions.
committee co-chairpersons. “While it is correct our bylaws do not allow for co-chairs,” Harrington wrote, “you subsequently appointed two White members as co-chairs of that committee, one of which had been on the board for six months.” Harrington continued, writing, “In the past year there have been several opportunities for chair appointments…yet not one has resulted in a Black or Latino being appointed as a committee chair by you. “Currently, there are eleven White and
three Asian members who chair all the committees, replicating a pattern of Black and Latino exclusion from appointed leadership on the community board.” In a copy of Li’s response to the letter, which was exclusively obtained by this newspaper, Li wrote that she was “disturbed and appalled by the baseless allegations stated in your letter… . The focus of a community board should be about service, and I remain dedicated to the work of serving all in Community Board 3.” Harrington told board members at the
meeting, which was attended by about 100 local residents, that Li’s response to her letter infuriated her. “I’m disappointed by her reaction,” she said. “These are not ‘baseless allegations.’ I want this issue of race to be discussed and not ignored by the chairperson.” Harrington’s remarks drew applause from many board members. “This is not an attack on the chairs or Gigi,” she stated. “My concern is about the longtime overtness of there being no Black and Latino committee chair and how critical this matter is to us.” However, several board members spoke out strongly in support of Li. One of those, Herman Hewitt, C.B. 3’s first vice chairperson and an African-American, said he has served on the board for nearly 35 years “and I wouldn’t have remained if I found one trace of racism. “Over the years,” he said, “we’ve had many African-Americans serving as chairs. Gigi is not a person who discriminates. We don’t discriminate against each other on this board.” Former C.B. 3 Chairperson Berg, who held the position for four years, also called it unfair to insinuate that Li might be guilty of racial discrimination. “This is an unfortunate conversation,” he said. “Making appointments is always a really sticky situation. It’s always a challenge to get the right people to do the work. You have to take a lot into consideration — including politics. “It’s not about race,” Berg said. “This is the most diverse group of board members I’ve seen serving on the board for some time.” Harrington was criticized by board member Joye Meghan for bringing the matter to the attention of the Borough President’s Office and the E.E.O.C. instead of having an internal discussion. But Harrington staunchly defended her action. “This is not the first discussion that I’ve had with Gigi about race,” she said, “and the subject has always been dismissed. That’s why I sent the letter to The Borough President’s Office. My interest was to make this discussion happen.”
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May 1, 2014
A new saint, and a selfie on Seventh St. Sunday afternoon, just hours after Popes John Paul II and John XXIII were canonized and made saints, a woman stood in front of the former’s bust at St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Roman Catholic Church, on E. Seventh St. between Avenue A and First Ave., either talking on the phone or taking a selfie or video of herself with the pope. Earlier, hundreds of congregants at this primarily Polish-speaking church packed all three morning Masses to honor John Paul II, who was pope from 1978 until his death in 2005. He was the second longest-serving pope in modern history and, as a Pole, the first non-Italian since Pope Adrian VI, who was Dutch and died in 1523.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Just say no to Nublu To The Editor: Re “Nublu is cool” (letter, by Mac McGill, April 10): Let me start off by saying that Mac McGill and I have been good friends for many years. Next, let me point out that I am not particularly for, or against, the new bars. Because Community Board 3 sold out the neighborhood years ago, the new bars are here and I don’t believe there is a whole lot that we can do about it. Will all of that said, I would remind Mac that he and his family live on what is basically a quiet, residential side street. He does not have a late-night al fresco sports bar almost directly across the street. His building is not sandwiched between a latenight bar/garden restaurant and a cheap pizza parlor that caters to the late-night bar crowd, which is also right next door to the Nublu
site, which just happens to be two doors up from a late-night al fresco restaurant/bar. One last thing (that I can think of) that Mac does not have to deal with is dozens of people hailing cabs every morning between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. (after 4 a.m. on weekends). If Mac and his family find Nublu to be such a good neighbor, perhaps they can go up and down their block with a petition and bring Nublu… . No, wait a minute, Nublu tried that, and while they obviously made good money as a semi-neighborhood bar, they have decided to go for the big money and cater to — guess who? — the late-night bar crowd a.k.a. the aging frat boys. Jerry The Peddler
Contextual coverage To The Editor: Re “Inventions, Jell-O and
fun gel at Cooper’s block party” (news article, April 17): Thank you for your wonderful and contextual coverage of the Cooper Union Founder’s Day block party. It was indeed “interesting” to see the alumni association president, the board of trustees president and the college president and his bodyguards out in public together, especially since the president has gone into a sort of self-imposed quarantine from the campus for a year. Two minor corrections. First, Peter Cooper was born 223 years ago in 1791 on Feb. 12 and died 131 years ago in 1883 on April 4. Neither date is connected to the time or location of the Founder’s Day celebration. The event was, for the first time, “open and free to all,” to quote Mr. Cooper, and was, like many other recent alumni events, held at no cost to the college, thanks to many generous alumni donors and volunteers. Second, it’s true that sev-
eral of the awards — including the Alumnus of the Year award, given to Sean Cusack of the Cooper Union Task Force, and the Young Alumnus of the Year awards, given to Henry Chapman, of Friends of Cooper Union, and Victoria Sobel, of Free Cooper Union — are given annually. But the awards given to Mike Borkowsky, Jeffrey Gural and myself were special awards not given annually. I’ll be sponsoring another event “as free as air and water” on Sun., April 27, at 1 p.m., the First Annual Visit to Green-Wood Cemetery to watch Peter Cooper spin in his grave. It will be a solemn gathering to mourn the trustee decisions on Sundays in April (in 2012 and 2013) to kill the full-tuition scholarship for graduates and undergraduates. Barry Drogin LETTERS, continued on p. 10
The 3D economy and the transcendence of the state TALKING POINT BY GREG BEATO
ast May, Cody Wilson produced an ingeniously brief but nuanced manifesto about individual liberty in the age of the ever-encroaching technostate — a single shot fired by a plastic pistol fabricated on a leased 3D printer. While Wilson dubbed his gun The Liberator, his interests and concerns are broader than merely protecting the Second Amendment. Wilson is ultimately aiming for the “transcendence of the state,” as he has said. And yet because of the nature of his invention, many observers reacted to his message as reductively as can be: “OMG, guns!” Local legislators were especially prone to this response. In California, New York and Washington, D.C., officials all floated proposals to regulate 3D-printed guns. In Philadelphia, the City Council successfully passed a measure prohibiting their unlicensed manufacture, with a maximum fine of $2,000. But if armies of Davids really want to transcend the state, there are even stronger weapons at their disposal: toothbrush holders, wall vases, bottle openers, shower caddies and tape dispensers. All these consumer goods and more you either can or will soon be able to produce using 3D printers. Imagine what will happen when millions of people start using the tools that produced The Liberator to make, copy, swap, barter, buy and sell all the quotidian stuff with which they furnish their lives. Rest in peace, Bed Bath & Beyond. Thanks for all the stuff, Foxconn, but we get our gadgets from Pirate Bay and MEGA now. Once the retail and manufacturing carnage starts to scale, the government carnage will soon follow. How can it not, when only old people pay sales tax, fewer citizens obtain their incomes from traditional, easy-to-tax jobs, and large corporate taxpayers start folding like daily newspapers? Without big business, big government can’t function. 3D printing is a painstaking process, with extruders or lasers methodically building up objects one layer at a time. Most consumer-level devices currently only print in plastic, and only in one color. At online platforms such as Thingiverse. com — where 3D printing enthusiasts share open-source design files and post photos of their wares — the final products often look a little rough around the edges, without the spectacular gloss and streamlining we’ve come to expect from, say, a Dollar General toilet bowl scrubber. In many ways, 3D printing barely seems ready to disrupt the monochromatic knickknacks industry, much less the world. When it takes hours to produce a pencil cup, transcending the state may prove to be a tall order. And yet in the industrial realm, where 3D printing has been around for decades
and goes by the name “additive manufacturing,” companies such as Boeing and General Electric are using much more sophisticated machines to produce parts for jet engines. Medical device companies use them to custom-manufacture hearing aids, replacement knees and designer prosthetics. In time, Cornell University professor Hod Lipson predicts in the 2013 book “Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing” (Wiley), 3D printers will be capable of constructing houses with plumbing and wiring in place, and printing “vanity organs” for people who want new or improved athletic abilities. Inevitably, such technologies and capabilities will trickle down, and probably faster and more radically than many people anticipate. While MakerBot Replicators may still look a little too DIY for those of us who have yet to fully exploit the capacities of our microwave ovens, ease of use is evolving rapidly. In January, Adobe announced that it is adding 3D printing capabilities to Photoshop, giving users the ability to design three-dimensional objects and send them to their own printers or 3D printers in the cloud. A California startup called AIO Robotics is developing a machine that points the way toward a future where the goods in the picture-frame aisle at Target become just as easy to duplicate and manipulate as Metallica’s back catalog. It’s called Zeus. It looks like an unusually stylish kitchen appliance, and its creators, who met as students at the University of Southern California, describe it as the “world’s first 3D copy machine.” Place an object in its central chamber, then push a button. Zeus scans the object in 3D. Push another button, and Zeus uses the 3D file it has created to reproduce an exact plastic replica of your object. In essence, Zeus makes “making” even easier than consuming. If you decide you really, really like the pasta bowl your mom gave you for Christmas, you don’t even have to go to the
mall, or surf Amazon.com to get another. Just throw it in Zeus and push a button! In almost all visions of the 3D-printed future, manufacturing changes dramatically. If a high-end 3D printer can fabricate a pistol or a panini press on demand, why bother with huge production runs, global distribution networks, warehoused inventories and the cheap human labor that only under-regulated developing nations can provide? While it will still make sense to produce some goods in large quantities using traditional methods, manufacturing is poised to become a far more local, justin-time, customized endeavor. But if the nature of manufacturing is poised to change dramatically, what about the nature of consumption? In many ways, it’s even harder to imagine a city of, say, 50,000 without big-box retailers than it is to imagine it without a daily newspaper. So perhaps 3D printing won’t alter our old habits that substantially. We’ll demand locally made kitchen mops, but we’ll still get them at Target. We’ll acquire a taste for craft automobile tires, but we’ll obtain them from some third party that specializes in their production. Commercial transactions will still occur. But if history is any guide, more and more of us will soon be engaging in all sorts of other behaviors, too. Making our own goods. Sharing, swapping and engaging in peer-to-peer commerce. Appropriating the ideas and designs of others and applying them to our own ends. Combining resources and collaborating on extremely large and ambitious projects we couldn’t hope to accomplish alone. And, over time, these new behaviors will have consequential impacts on scores of products, companies and industries. Already, according to a study authored by Joshua Pearce, a Michigan Technological University engineering professor, and six others, there are significant economic incentives for consumers to pursue 3D printing. According to Pearce’s calculations, a person
who constructs an open-source 3D printer called the RepRap, at a cost of around $575 for parts, can theoretically avoid paying between $290 and $1,920 a year to retailers simply by using the device to print 20 common items (iPhone case, shower curtain rings, shoe orthotics, etc.). If you are willing to invest some time in its construction — Pearce estimates that the RepRap takes around 24 hours to build — the printer can quickly pay for itself, even if you don’t use it all that often. If you start making orthotics for your neighbors, who knows, it could even turn into a profit center. Soon, we’ll begin to see the rise of manufacturing Matt Drudges and printer-sharing Reddits. So many different producers will be churning out so many different products that it will become harder and harder for even well-established and trusted brands to charge for anything but the scarcest and most coveted goods. In a bid to survive, places like Walmart and Best Buy will begin to offer stuff as a subscription — you’ll get 200 pounds of goods per year for a monthly fee of $19.99. But maybe even that will seem too steep to you, or just not as autonomous as you’d like. Ultimately, 3D printers and the distributed manufacturing they enable will democratize and mainstream survivalism. You won’t need five remote acres, heavy equipment and a lot of practical knowhow to live off the grid. Be prepared, however, to expect some pushback from your local regulators. Consumers must be protected against strawberry balsamic jam made in home kitchens. Travelers must be protected from cheap rides from the airport. When government realizes that self-produced plastic shower curtain rings are far more potentially disruptive than self-produced plastic pistols, it’ll be more than libertarian entrepreneur-iconoclasts at risk. Beato is a contributing editor at Reason magazine
More Business owners are mugged in New York than anywhere else in the country. May 1, 2014
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Continued from p. 8
Disturbing arrests To The Editor: I moved to the East Village 40 years ago, on April 1, 1974. The area was mostly Italian, Sicilian. Mary Help of Christians Church was still standing. The priests and the Mass were Italian. People would sit outside, speaking Italian. I got my little apartment because I spoke Italian. There were bakeries, butcher shops, fish stores and at least four fruit and vegetable stores in the same area. E. 11th St. was all Italian, from Second Ave. to Avenue B. There was a Catholic school on E. 11th behind the church. Slowly, things changed. In the ’80s, “artists” moved in and, one by one, the stores disappeared and bars moved in — together with restaurants that one cannot afford anymore. Then the church disappeared, too. But when there still was a church, they ran a flea market in its backyard. How happy I was to go there. Even if I didn’t buy anything, there I would see people from the past who have moved out. Priced out. When Mary Help of Christians was sold,
the flea market moved to the church on E. 14th St. between Avenue A and First Ave. On Saturdays and Sundays, people would sell stuff outside where the flea market used to be. They were mostly homeless from the neighborhood. I know most of them. It was tolerated, mostly. From time to time, a police cruiser would come by and the cops would tell them to move on. On Sun., March 9, around 1 p.m. I was walking the dog. I thought to say hello to the guys. A big black man was saying to a small Hispanic man, “Stop screaming at me.” I didn’t realize he was a cop. “He is not screaming,” I said. “He talks like this.” I walked to the end of the block where I knew somebody. He was about to say hello to me. Suddenly, out of nowhere, another black man came, giving him a bear hug, pushing him against a car and slapping handcuffs on one of his hands. The cop used brutal force on him to cuff the other hand. Another man was also being arrested. So I went to the big black man and told him, “Stop harassing these men. The cops are here.”
“I am the cop,” he tells me. Then another cop came out, arresting someone else. These undercovers looked like homeless themselves. What a disguise. A man selling books was arrested, too. What about the First Amendment? I screamed, “A black man to a black man, a Hispanic to a Hispanic. Bunch of Uncle Toms, motherf------. I am a honky. I would never treat someone, white or black, that way. You are worse than us white people. You are like the KKK with a black face.” How I do remember years back, when I was assaulted and left for dead. When I recognized one of the attackers and cops wouldn’t budge to arrest him. Or when I was burglarized and 11 years of my research gone, how they were laughing. P.S., I have a master’s in criminal justice from John Jay. I am 77 years old and hope to make it until I am 80. Ginette Schenk
Developers vs. parks To The Editor: Re “Squadron touts ‘20 percent solution’ for needy parks” (news article, April 3):
As someone who has had a strong interest in public space and the New York City Parks Department, I applaud state Senator Daniel Squadron’s efforts to address city park inequity. If “taxing” the affluent conservancies doesn’t work, another form of tax — say, perhaps on plastic bags — could be dedicated to the upkeep and maintenance of the city parks system. The income from concessions often goes to the city’s general fund. As Assemblymember Glick pointed out, the city’s budget has been radically slashed over the last 60 years. And we know why. By keeping the Parks Department impoverished, it makes it easier to alienate parkland for developers who perceive parkland as undeveloped real estate. It also makes the city less liveable for the less well-off, encouraging spatial deconcentration — the push of low-income residents out of the inner city. Jack Brown E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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Gale Brewer, the hardest-working woman in government BY HEATHER DUBIN
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
here are seven events on deck tonight, and Manhattan’s 27th borough president, Gale Brewer, wants to hit them all. This should come as no surprise. Brewer, a Democrat, formerly was the city councilmember for the Upper West Side’s District 6 for 12 years, during which she was on 10 different committees. From passing legislation to restrict large storefronts on the Upper West Side and sponsoring paid sick leave for workers, to preventing tenant evictions and leading technology initiatives, Brewer is determined. The office of borough president includes land-use oversight in Manhattan, under which Brewer can weigh in with advisory opinions on development projects. In addition, she can introduce legislation in partnership with a city councilmember. She chairs the Manhattan Borough Board, which includes representatives from all 12 of Manhattan’s community boards. She also appoints a member of the City Planning Commission, as well as all the community board members, and controls a portion of the city’s capital and expense budget. At the borough president’s office on Centre St., before the mad scramble begins, press secretary Stephanie Hoo goes over the schedule, skeptical they’ll be able to complete it — especially since the first stop is a Community Board 1 meeting with real estate on the agenda. And then there are logistics — traveling from Tribeca to the Upper East Side, with stops along the way in Harlem, Midtown, the Upper West Side and Hell’s Kitchen. Hoo offers a quick tour of the office. Aldrin Bonilla, deputy borough president for community and borough operations, is making his own Xerox copies. The tour is followed by an in-depth discussion of the vending machine down the hall. Much to the delight of staffers, the vending machine — previously stocked with healthy treats under Mayor Bloomberg — now sports junk food. “It literally happened last week — unannounced,” Hoo said. “There are Twizzlers and actual potato chips.” Brewer emerges from her office slightly after 6 p.m., coat on, holding a stack of manila file folders crammed with papers, and leads us out at a rapid clip. Her day started around 6:30 a.m., with letters, followed by an 8:30 a.m. meeting on business improvement districts and a press conference at 10:30 a.m. “And from there, on and on,” she said. Usually, after a busy day, she has an additional five to six meetings per night. After work, Brewer catches Errol Lewis’s “Inside City Hall” on NY 1 on TV. “FiOS won’t make a dent in New York because of Errol Lewis,” she said. “I try to get home by 10 p.m. to watch him, and
Borough President Gale Brewer had it “made in the shades” at the Earth Day festivities in Union Square on Tuesday.
then I read two newspapers. Read, read, read — watch the news, and have dinner.” Then she views MSNBC news programs, with a 12:30 a.m. bedtime. It’s now 6:30 p.m. as Andre Davis, the borough president’s driver, drops us at Hudson and Canal Sts., where Hunter College’s new master’s of fine arts program is based. A Community Board 1 meeting is being held here tonight. A South St. Seaport working group was implemented to advise developer Howard Hughes Corporation, which plans to build a 50-story residential-and-hotel tower and create a new market in the former Fulton Fish Market’s Tin Building. This working group of community members, politicians and a developer is unprecedented. “I’m new to this job, but not to bringing people together,” Brewer told the audience of roughly 100. She acknowledged the community’s role, touting the working group’s diversity and balanced perspective. Back in the car at 7 p.m., we deconstruct the meeting. Brewer thinks the working group concept is a good one. “You don’t need it for everyone,” she said, “just the big projects.” The conversation turns to affordable housing, one of the issues Brewer campaigned on. She recalled the J-51 tax abatements under former Mayor Ed Koch, which allowed landlords to renovate apartments, and then bring them to market rate, which started the neighborhood’s gentrification. “That was happening on the West Side,”
Brewer said. “They weren’t renovated. No way. They might’ve been if it was monitored correctly. What you need is a balance. It’s tipped over.” Brewer is an advocate of Mitchell-Lama housing. The program was created in 1955, designed to give working moderate- and middle-income families affordable apartments. There are more than 44,600 Mitchell-Lama units — both rentals and co-ops — in New York. “They’re in your block association, parent / teacher associations, and book groups — all things that make the neighborhood,” she said of Mitchell-Lama residents. “If the rents are high, then they’re worried about that.” “We all dream about another MitchellLama program,” she added. “State Senator Jeff Klein mentioned it the other day. He indicated he would want that.” It’s 7:22 p.m. and next up is a town hall meeting hosted by state Senator Brad Hoylman at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, on W. 59th St. One hundred and forty people have turned out to learn about and voice their views on the mayor’s “Vision Zero” traffic and pedestrian safety plan. “Vision Zero” aims to eliminate trafficrelated fatalities within a decade. On the same subject, Brewer shared how deeply affected she was at a recent press conference on pedestrian deaths in traffic accidents. “I’m glad I was wearing glasses,” she said, clarifying with emphasis, “sunglasses. There were about 30 families with pic-
tures of family members killed.” The “Beep” did not mince words concerning bicycle delivery workers. “Merchants have to talk to delivery people in other languages, and explain rules and regulations,” she said. “It’s important.” It’s 7:43 p.m. On to Harlem, but running a bit behind schedule. “There are so many events, and tonight, I have people at every one of them — from precinct meetings to community boards,” she said. “I like to cover small meetings, as well — ears to the ground, then I can see what needs to be done.” An Uptown “storefront office” for Brewer on 125th St. is in the works. Unlike her Downtown one, it will be open daily, with no identification required to enter and get assistance. “It’s going to be awhile,” she said of her Harlem H.Q. “City agencies are so slow.” We reach P.S. 133, at 130th St. and Fifth Ave. slightly after 8 p.m. for a meeting, but everyone has already left. The next two events are nixed for time. At 8:15 p.m., Davis next ferries us to the Four Freedoms Democratic Club Kick-Off Party at Off the Rails, a bar on the Upper East Side. Davis began as a driver for the Borough President’s Office in 1987 for David Dinkins, when the former mayor was B.P. There’ve been several more who have held the office since then. “Gale is affectionately known as ‘Number Five,’ ” he said. “Andre is very much adored in New York,” Brewer said. “You go places and that’s who people know. When I say he’s outside, people come running out.” At the steering wheel, Davis keeps the car easily flowing with traffic. “I try to keep it low key,” he said. “It’s a little less stressful with Gale.” At 8:30 p.m., the political club’s party is in full swing. Brewer speaks briefly on affordable housing and healthcare. “This is what seems to be the most preeminent group in the district,” City Councilman Ben Kallos said of the mixed-age crowd. We edge toward the door at 8:45 p.m., waiting for various people vying to talk to Brewer. Our final destination, at 9 p.m., is a shelter, which can’t be named. Brewer spoke candidly with staff workers about preventing homelessness in preparation for testimony at a Council hearing on shelters that week. Forty minutes later, we get into the car one last time, exhausted. It was a long day, which will be repeated — by Brewer — again and again. Most of those she encounters probably don’t realize how busy her days are. “People have no idea,” she said. “They see you and they want you to solve their problems.” May 1, 2014
Hell’s Kitchen is heating up with riverfront renewal REAL ESTATE This real estate section covering the broader Downtown area is a new feature of NYC Community Media and will appear periodically in The Villager. Email questions, comments and story ideas to email@example.com. BY LAUREN PRICE
May 1, 2014
PHOTO COURTESY RELATED COMPANIES
ot so many years ago, not everyone would have been excited about living in Hell’s Kitchen. Today, the revival of what was once a roughand-tumble swath of tenements, factories, warehouses and parking structures into a white-hot neighborhood –– from Eighth Ave. west to the Hudson River, between 30th and 57th Sts. –– is the talk of the town. Driving forces behind the transformation include the evolution of the Hudson River Park, the nation’s secondlargest waterside urban open space, the development of the High Line and Chelsea Piers, and, most dramatically, the sale of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s rail yards to make way for the creation of the mixed-use Hudson Yards community on what is Manhattan’s largest undeveloped parcel of land. Some Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood favorites, of course, have been around for decades. Officially dubbed Restaurant Row in 1973, the block of 46th St. between Eighth and Ninth Aves. offers diners the choice of some 35 eateries. Established in 2000, Theater Row, on and around 42nd St. mostly between Ninth and Tenth Aves., is a beloved complex of renovated historic theaters, including the Acorn, the Beckett, the Clurman and the Lion. The weekend-long Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market, since 2003, has turned the block of 39th St. between Ninth and Tenth Aves. into a value-hunter’s paradise. There, vendors hawk everything from greenmarket goods to vintage clothing, antique jewelry, collectibles, furniture, books and toys. The Hudson Yards property, however, is a historic, even unprecedented game-changer. “When there is an opportunity to develop a very large area of land, builders have the freedom to create projects that cannot be accomplished elsewhere in Manhattan,” said Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats. “As our city continuously evolves, Hell’s Kitchen has steadily grown into a booming neighborhood where everyone wants to live.” Take the no-fee rentals at Gotham West –– a new building at 550 W. 45th St. with LEED certification (a green construction seal of approval) –– as an example of how the neighborhood is changing at lightning speed. Inhome amenities include floor-to-ceiling windows, wideplank quarter-sawn oak floors, washers and dryers, and kitchens outfitted with KitchenAid appliances and granite worktops. Some have walk-in closets and separate kitchen pantries. This full-service building boasts complimentary weekday breakfasts, curated artworks, a business center, a demo kitchen used by invited professional chefs, a billiards room, a fitness center, three outdoor spaces –– including the Sky Terrace with an outdoor movie screen –– a bike porter for last minute tune-ups, complimentary shuttles to Sixth Ave. for weekday morning and evening commutes, and on-site parking. The block-long Gotham West Market features artisan vendors and excellent dining choices. Rents begin at $2,975 per month. (gothamwestnyc.com) No-fee rentals are also on tap at the brand new LEED Gold-registered Abington House at 500 W. 30th St. Leas-
A view of the High Line from Related’s Abington House at 500 W. 30th St.
ing studios to two-bedroom units with open plans, the building offers some units with private outdoor space. All homes feature large windows, oak floors, and washer/ dryers, with some also affording breathtaking views of the High Line, the Hudson River and the skyline. There are three communal terraces, one of them dedicated to barbecuing, along with party rooms, indoor/outdoor screening rooms, lounge areas and the exclusive grooming, walking, training, and playdate services offered by Dog City. Rents start at $3,000 per month. (related.com) The Ohm at 312 Eleventh Ave. at 30th St. was built with no-fee rental units ranging from about 560 to 1,020 square feet, 20 percent of them in the affordable housing category. They all showcase floor-to-ceiling windows, hardwood floors, open kitchens, washer/ dryers and safes. Communal amenities include a lounge, a sky deck, a fitness center, complimentary shuttles to and from Penn Station for weekday morning and evening commutes, and on-site parking. Rents start at $2,695 per month. (ohmny.com) For no-frill renters willing to pay a broker’s fee –– especially those who don’t mind living in a building without an elevator –– the Oxford Property Group has dozens of listings in Hell’s Kitchen from as low as $1,600 per month for a renovated studio with new Thermopane windows, high ceilings, hardwood floors, a walk-in closet and granite worktops in the kitchen. For $2,100 a month, this brokerage also offers a number of one-bedroom apartments. (opgny.com) For buyers who prefer mid-rise dwellings, 540West, on 49th St., is made up of two seven-story interconnected buildings. The unit mix runs from studios to two-bedrooms, including duplexes and penthouses, from 501 to 1,625 square feet. As expected in a newer building, this one offers residences with floor-to-ceiling windows, white oak floors and washer/ dryers. Resident-only ame-
nities include a fitness center, two roof decks, a lounge, a courtyard with reflecting pool, an open-air movie theater and a pet spa. This building is sold exclusively through Halstead Property Development Marketing and priced from $725,000. Owners can expect to move in by year’s end. (540west.com) Meanwhile, Related Companies’ massive, 28-acre Hudson Yards development project, between 30th and 34th Sts. west of 10th Ave., will include 17 million square feet of commercial and residential space, including 100plus stores (negotiations are reportedly underway with Neiman Marcus), 20 restaurants, a luxury hotel, park areas and a 750-seat public school. An extension of the number 7 subway line from Times Square to 34th St. and 11th Ave. is set to open toward the later part of this year. The LEED Gold-registered 10 Hudson Yards commercial tower, with a direct link to the High Line, has inked deals to lease commercial space to world-class names including Coach, L’Oreal and German software powerhouse SAP. An enormous Fairway Market will be developed under the High Line. The first residential tower, LEED Gold-registered 15 Hudson Yards will open in 2017. Comprised largely of condominiums, the building will have a 20 percent setaside for affordable rentals. Adjacent to that, the Culture Shed, the much talkedabout multipurpose venue offering seven levels of flexible performance and gallery space — to host a dizzying range of art, design and special events, including New York City’s Fashion Week — is also slated to open in 2017. Also LEED Gold-registered, 30 Hudson Yards, a commercial tower with the city’s highest outdoor observation deck, will be ready by 2018. Time Warner has already acquired more than 1 million square feet of office space in this building for about 5,000 employees from corporate operations, including HBO, Turner Broadcasting and Warner Bros. Condos, a hotel and both retail and entertainment spaces at LEED Gold-registered 35 Hudson, with direct access to the High Line, Hudson River Park and Hudson Boulevard & Park — a planned ribbon of parkland that will wend its way between 10th and 11th Aves. — is also expected to open in 2018. (relatated.com/hudson-yards) With new builds and conversions proliferating on the Far West Side, there are a number of available posh penthouses facing the Hudson River, for both rental and purchase. Penthouse seekers might check out the 959-square-foot two-bedroom with river views in the Atelier’s 35th floor at 635 W. 42nd St. The asking price is $1.9 million, and there’s a tax abatement through 2018. Communal amenities include a resident-only lounge with complimentary weekday breakfasts, a basketball court and gym, a swimming pool, two roof decks with grill areas, complimentary shuttles across 42nd St. for weekday morning and evening commutes, and on-site parking. (halstead.com) No-fee renters willing to pay sky-high to live skyhigh will find the 2,200-square-foot, convertible fourbedroom penthouse (including two master suites) on the 61st floor of the LEED Gold One MiMA Tower, at 460 W. 42nd St., just the ticket. Building extras include an Equinox and indoor lap pool, full-size basketball and volleyball courts, three landscaped terraces with private dining pods and barbecue areas, party rooms/catering kitchens, outdoor/indoor screening rooms, an Internet cafe and business center, a game room, and on-site training, grooming, walking and scheduled playdate services from Dog City. This home will set you back $19,000 a month. (related.com)
Recreation rocks on the river REAL ESTATE BY LAUREN PRICE
PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY
estored and reimagined piers, dazzling water views, lush grassy expanses and a leg of the nation’s most heavily used bikeway are among the highlights at Hudson River Park, which has become the elegant front lawn for Manhattan’s West Side neighborhoods. Comprised of multiple ball fields, tennis and basketball courts and myriad aquatic pleasures, the park is also home to an 18hole miniature golf course, a children’s carousel with hand-carved wood figures of Hudson River Valley animals, a trapeze school that had Carrie Bradshaw flying through the air on “Sex and the City,” and seasonal beach volleyball. Annual summertime events for all ages are neighborhood favorites, too. Starting July 12, kids can enjoy movies at Pier 46 at Charles St. in the West Village, while adult fare will be screened at Riverflicks at Pier 63 at 23rd St. in Chelsea. Pack a picnic dinner for concerts at RiverRocks beginning July 11 at Pier 84 at 44th St., and, from July 14 on this same pier, you can dance the night away to some of the
best bands around at MoonDance. Pier 84 also offers the annual Blues BBQ Festival on Aug. 24, an outdoor water play area and bicycle rentals. Hudson River Park hosts youth enrichment programs throughout the year, ranging from Riverside Rangers, in which kids explore the river’s ecosystem through discovery-based science experiments and nature-inspired crafts, to Big City Fishing –– all led by experts. “Our educational programs are a vital resource for thousands of families and students,” said Nicolette Witcher, the park’s vice president of environment and education. “This summer, our lineup is better than ever. And we’re thrilled to be partnering with New York Hall of Science this fall to present SUBMERGE!, a free, daylong marine science festival devoted to New York City’s coastal waters that will feature noted marine scientists, interactive demonstrations and hands-on activities for all ages.” (hudsonriverpark.org) Summertime is a particularly active time for youth at Chelsea Piers, with 16 specialty sports camps for youths, ages 3 to 17. Programs include golf, gymnastics, soccer, iceskating, bowling and basketball. Camps run from June 16 to Aug. 29, and enrollments range from one week to 11 weeks. Sign up before May 23 for early-bird pricing. (chelseapiers.com/camps)
Legendary art-supply store Pearl Paint, at 308 Canal St., closed Thurs., April 17. It had occupied the six-story building — now for sale — since around 1960. Before then it was on Church St. where it opened in 1933. Last Saturday, someone had covered the place’s shuttered gate with “Gentrification in Progress” crime scene-style tape.
Chin calls for more SCRIE reform BY SAM SPOKONY
ollowing the state Legislature’s recent plan to include thousands more lowincome seniors in a city-administered rent-freeze program, a group of city councilmembers are calling for passage of another state bill to provide further housing security by tying future expansions of the program to regional cost-of-living increases. The Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption, or SCRIE, program freezes housing costs for rent-regulated residents older than age 62 who already pay more than onethird of their income for rent. The current maximum annual income for SCRIE eligibility is $29,000, though the state budget deal, approved March 31, would raise that income cap to $50,000, pending City Council approval. Consideration of the new state provision has been underway since April 10, when Margaret Chin, who chairs the City Council’s Committee on Aging, introduced a bill that, if passed, would make the increase official. Meanwhile, the state is still considering a bill that would eliminate the need for future legislative action to increase SCRIE income limits. That bill — first introduced in January 2013 by Assemblymember Joan Millman and state Senator Bill Perkins — would require the state’s top housing agency to increase the income limits at each year’s start, to reflect any annual increase in the
regional Consumer Price Index that covers New York and northern New Jersey. The C.P.I. — released monthly by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — considers prices for things like food, clothing and shelter and transportation fares. Proponents of the Millman-Perkins bill have long claimed that tying SCRIE increases to the C.P.I. would ensure that thousands more city seniors — especially those in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods — would not be displaced from their homes by rising rents. Now, Chin is once again trying to help push that SCRIE reform forward. A new Council resolution, introduced jointly on April 29 by Chin and Councilmembers Karen Koslowitz and Julissa Ferreras, would call on the Legislature to pass the Millman-Perkins bill. “Our seniors have the right to age in place without fear of being priced out of their lifelong homes and neighborhoods,” Chin said. “As New York City’s costs of living continue to rise, SCRIE serves as an essential safety net for seniors whose housing would otherwise be in jeopardy. “By quickly enacting legislation linking SCRIE to regional C.P.I., the state can guarantee that more seniors can afford to remain in their homes.” New York and northern New Jersey’s C.P.I. increased 1.3 percent from March 2013 to March 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Pearl Paint was doing a brisk business, with an everything-must-go sale, about a week before it closed. May 1, 2014
In presence of a hero, teenager declares her status SPEAKING OUT, continued from p. 1
immigrant,” said Bajamonti, speaking through tears. “It’s been very hard for me because I don’t have the documentation I need to get a job, to vote, which is essential to women’s representation, or to buy an apartment, or to take out a loan for college,” she continued, going on to explain she came with her parents from their native Croatia at age 5 and has lived in America ever since. Bajamonti, who now lives in Woodside, Queens, with her mother, later said she’s soon graduating from the Borough of Manhattan Community College, and will be going on to Brooklyn College next fall. She’s struggled after her green card application was denied — her mother’s has been pending since 2006, and her father’s was also denied, leading him to leave America. But Bajamonti now works at La Tiendita, the L.E.S. Girls Club booth in the Essex St. Market, which sells products made by club members and is operated through a job-training program that focuses on professional development and culinary arts training. The Girls Club’s new main center, where the Clinton Foundation forum was held, is located in the East Village on Avenue D. During her question for the Clintons, the teen went on ask: “What do we need to do to make [immigration reform] a priority when it comes to Congress? Because this is an extreme glass ceiling for me that I can’t even control.” Before answering, Hillary Clinton took a moment to praise the girl for her courage to come out with the truth on her status. “That was really brave, and I thank you for doing that,” said the former U.S. secretary of state, “because it’s important to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. One of the big hopes I have is that we can get back to being a country where people can understand what others are going through, and have empathy for it, and really try to help each other.” Clinton went on to stress her strong support for immigration reform legislation that has passed the U.S. Senate — a bill that would create a path to citizenship for Bajamonti and America’s 11 million other undocumented immigrants — but has not made it through the Republican-dominated House of Representatives. Later, Bajamonti said that response from one of the world’s most idolized women made her declaration worthwhile. “It was very empowering,” she said. “It was a very big and liberating moment for me. I’ve been keeping this secret in order to protect myself for so many years. But after seeing inspiring women and seeing this conversation, I felt empowered to say what I’m going through, and what I’ve had to live through all my life. “When we’re talking about empowering women, it’s great to get politics involved,” she continued, “because of the fact that I
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Nova Bajamonti, 19, breathed a sigh of relief after the Girls Club forum, during which she revealed the long-kept secret that she is an undocumented immigrant.
can’t apply for the same jobs, can’t get financial aid to help pay college tuition, and I haven’t seen my family [in Croatia] in seven years. It’s just my mom and I here. And so all of that is why I felt the need to share my story.” Also after the forum, L.E.S. Girls Club founder and Executive Director Lyn Pentecost said she had no idea Bajamonti was going to declare her status publicly that day, but felt proud of her for doing so. “I was moved,” said Pentecost, beaming. “How could you not be moved by that? And it was really the most appropriate venue to come out about this very important issue.”
Pentecost explained that she learned Bajamonti was undocumented about four years ago, while the teen was enrolled in education programming at the Girls Club. A group of girls in her program were scheduled to take an annual trip to Chiapas, Mexico, but Bajamonti wasn’t able to go because she couldn’t get a passport. “So we knew about it, and we’ve known about the struggles Nova and her mother have gone through,” she said. A Girls Club staff member, Annette Rodriguez, who teaches sign language and dance at the organization, said she’s friendly with Bajamonti and knew that she’s had a hard life, but didn’t realize she
was undocumented until her announcement at the forum. “It was heartwrenching,” Rodriguez said of the teen’s speech. “It made me tear up. Because all the girls that attend here, and especially if they become employees, we treat them as if they’re our girls. So it feels like she’s one of my daughters. “The fact is that a lot of our girls have had their share of struggles,” she continued, “but that’s part of what makes the Girls Club so wonderful. Because these girls are able to come here, to come together, and we help each other find ways to overcome those obstacles. We’re like a family.”
RE/Mixed Redux A festival evolves, faster than the speed of 5G
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
n 1967’s “Trout Fishing in America,” the genre-splicing counterculture author Richard Brautigan based “The Kool-Aid Wino” — one of the book’s many self-contained entries — on a destitute childhood friend who stretched his lone nickel package of the powdery substance far beyond its suggested two-quart yield, transforming it (sans essential ingredient sugar) into a gallon’s worth of day-long drinking. “He created his own Kool-Aid reality,” the story goes, “and was able to illuminate himself by it.” Although driven by economic necessity rather than artistic vision, the
character ’s knack for repurposing his source material kept coming back to me throughout this past weekend’s RE/ Mixed Media Festival — whose concerts, installations, workshops, exhibits and lectures (held at The New School and La MaMa’s Culturehub) addressed “remix culture” on a multitude of theoretical and practical levels.
WHO OWNS THE BEAT THAT’S BEEN TURNED AROUND?
When DJs of the 1970s began to craft longer, dance-friendly club versions of disco songs by adding material not in the original recording, remixing was born. While the term is relatively new, the practice is as ancient as the second
PHOTO BY JH SOUNDS
PHOTO BY PETER DRESSEL
From b-boy to bee sampler: Patrick Rosal’s early exposure to remixing came from the business end of a Matchbox track.
Kriolta Welt and “Carousel” curator and host R. Sikoryak give voice to Popeye and Olive Oyl, for the short version of a long “Odyssey.”
iteration of the first expression of the human condition. Whether you call it remix, mashup, hybrid, cross-pollination or adaptation, the act of creative appropriation, festival organizers note, “has been the de-facto methodology of art making for centuries.” But if we’re all copycats, does the debt to our predecessors include a royalty payment? To what extent can anything shaped from the collective unconscious be claimed as a fresh take worthy of “intellectual property” protection? Those are questions the festival’s been asking since its 2010 debut — with the answer becoming more nuanced and elusive as 20th century copyright law is left in the dust by rapidly advancing (and increasingly accessible) technology.
Festival Director Tom Tenney, in a conversation with this paper two days after RE/Mixed IV closed, noted a shift in tone from past editions. With 48 hours of hindsight, Tenney’s already making adjustments based on the realization that remix culture “is a misnomer. It should be ‘remix cultures.’ ” With an increasing amount of international guest presenters and audiences comes a desire to broaden the conversation beyond remixing’s strictly domestic implications. “Back in 2010,” recalls Tenney, “we were focused primarily on copyright issues — and that still does loom over everything. But not everybody who participates is necessarily a copyright REDUX, continued on p. 18
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‘Extraterrestrial’ knows its history, a little too well Wildly fun monster movie a sweet taste of things to come FILM EXTRATERRESTRIAL Directed by Colin Minihan PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FILMMAKERS
Written by The Vicious Brothers Runtime: 106 minutes
BY SEAN EGAN
he filmmakers call themselves The Vicious Brothers, and they’ve called their film “Extraterrestrial.” That should be enough information to give you a good idea of whether or not you’ll dig their new movie. If you’re searching for subtlety, don’t come looking around here. But if you’re the kind of person who can appreciate an honest-to-goodness take on the monster movie genre, you’re in for a good time. With “Extraterrestrial,” the Vicious Brothers (Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz) have created a stylish and fun creature feature, done with reverence and respect for the home-invasion horror, sci-fi thriller and cabin-in-the-woods genres — which is something to value in a market saturated with ironic and detached takes. This reverence, however, proves to be the biggest weakness of the movie — their script follows the conventions of the genre to a tee. The Brothers’ debut cult hit feature, the low-budget, found footage horror “Grave Encounters,” was funny and self-reflexive, excelling at playing off horror conventions to achieve moments of unexpected comedy and seat-jumping scares. Unfortunately, “Extraterrestrial” doesn’t have the same
A Vicious (Brothers) threat from outer space: This extraterrestrial can’t be placated with Reese’s Pieces.
spark as their earlier effort. It’s so concerned with faithfully abiding by the formula that it never provides a fresh spin on the tropes. There are some attempts at self-awareness, but the Brothers’ tongues are planted just far enough in their cheeks to know that they’re aware of the clichés they’re playing with, but not deep enough to do anything different with them. The close adherence to established structures also unfortunately diffuses any real terror that could be derived from the alien invasion premise. Fortunately, though the script is lackluster, the Vicious Brothers are able to stick the landing due to the total commitment of everyone in front of and behind the camera. The direction, credited to Minihan, is stellar. Shedding the limitations of the found footage genre, the film reveals that the Brothers are more than capable genre stylists, and this film works as a highlight reel for their impressive talents, with showy camerawork on display throughout. The
frenetic editing and direction help to create tension during the action sequences, despite the predictability of the story (which is no small feat). The cinematography and special effects are also worth mentioning. They look just as good as productions with much larger budgets, and help draw you into the world of the film. The cast is all game too. Michael Ironside is a highlight, hilariously infectious as the resident stoner/UFO-expert/grizzled Vietnam vet. Jesse Moss and Brittany Allen fare well as the kids in the woods, with Moss in particular going all out with his jerkwad best friend routine, and Allen providing the film with a sympathetic center. Plus, it’s hard to hate a movie with such a bonkers ending. In the final reel, the Brothers zoom from a disturbing, dark fortress in the stars and back to Earth — whiplashing between tones and wrapping things up with a spectacular tracking shot. If the Vi-
cious Brothers can unite the wit and scares from their debut with the polish and filmmaking prowess on display here, their next effort could be a classic. As it stands, they’ve produced a wildly fun modern-day midnight B-movie that fits like a comfortable shoe. While it’s nice to watch in the moment, one hopes that it will be a stepping stone to something even bigger. CORRECTION In last week’s arts section, the review for “Extraterrestrial” — then playing at the Tribeca Film Festival and currently without a theatrical release date — did not, in fact, contain the actual review. Instead, we ran the text for “Summer of Blood,” whose review appeared on the same page. Although arts editor Scott Stiffler would like to blame outside intervention from a sinister alien presence, it was, in fact, plain old human error. He apologizes to you, the reader — as well as the filmmakers, who are hopefully more forgiving than their name (The Vicious Brothers) would indicate.
Theater for the New City • 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net
NICHOLAS NICKLEBY A New Musical
Book by ROBERT SICKINGER Music & Lyrics by ALARIC JANS Directed by LISSA MOIRA
Wednesday-Sunday, April 30 - May 4
Wed-Sat at 8pm, Sun at 3pm All Seats $18/ Students & Seniors $12/tdf
CHARLOTTE’S SONG Written by NANCY FERRAGALLO Directed by MARIO GOLDEN & ANDREAS ROBERTZ
Thursday - Sunday May 1 - 11
Thu-Sat at 8pm, Sun at 3pm
All Seats $12/tdf
DIARY OF A THOUGHT
Written & Directed by BINA SHARIF Thursday - Sunday May 1 - 18 Thurs-Sat 8pm Sun 3pm All Seats $10/tdf
TNC’s Programs are funded in part by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts
May 1, 2014
Pills, potatoes and teenage perils
FILM BENEATH THE HARVEST SKY Directed by Aron Gaudet & Gita Pullapilly Screenplay by Aron Gaudet & Gita Pullapilly Runtime: 116 minutes Opens May 2, at Cinema Village 22 E. 12th St. (btw. University Place & Fifth Ave.) Call 212-924-3363 or visit cinemavillage.com Also available on iTunes & VOD
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
ith excellent acting, a timely plot about today’s exploding prescription-pill drug trade and an overall impressive authenticity, “Beneath the Harvest Sky” is a powerful movie that will stay with you after the viewing. A full-length independent feature film, it was co-written and co-directed by husband-and-wife team Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly, who live in Bar Harbor, Maine. The two met while working for Midwestern TV news stations, and their journalistic, fact-gathering training, no doubt, helped add to the film’s realistic feeling. They shot it in Van Buren, in northern Maine, where they — as well as the film’s actors — did extensive research, learning all that they could from the locals. “We talked to everyone,” said Gaudet, who grew up in the state. New York City native Emory Cohen, 24, a graduate of Greenwich Village’s own progressive Elisabeth Irwin High School, on Charlton St., turns in a stellar performance in the film’s main role of Casper Coty. Casper and his best friend, Dominic, portrayed by Australian actor Callan McAuliffe, are saving up money to buy a car and get out of their small, dead-end town. School isn’t for Casper, who gets booted out of English class and into trouble for act-
ing disrespectfully during a discussion, fittingly, of the classic S.E. Hinton coming-ofage novel, “The Outsiders.” While Dominic is working, at least parttime, in the potato harvest (the area’s traditional economy), Casper is immersed in the family business: the drug trade. However, Dominic, unfortunately for him, is also involved in the latter as Casper’s sidekick. When Casper’s girlfriend, Tasha — played by Zoe Levin — tells him she’s pregnant, he is determined to become a provider and score a big deal he’s working on to smuggle drugs across the border to Canada. Meanwhile, Dominic’s harvest girlfriend, Emma — Sarah Sutherland, Kiefer Sutherland’s daughter — is striving for a better life, too, but it’s through college, and she doesn’t see Dominic as part of her future plans. In one of the film’s lighter moments, Casper and Dominic go around to local seniors’ homes and buy up all their pill supplies. The seniors gladly sell their bottles of prescription painkillers (no doubt, opioids, like Oxycontin) to the teens, at a presumably marked-up price. The Drug Enforcement Agency soon gets on the case, and the two friends find themselves in far deeper than they ever expected — with tragic consequences. Throughout the movie, the landscape and culture of northern Maine is richly and lovingly depicted. This reviewer is no fan of the shaky handheld camera technique, where the frame is always restlessly shifting and jiggling slightly to lend a “realistic” feeling. But, in the end, it doesn’t detract too much here. And the cinematography is terrific, with images that linger in the mind’s eye — a distraught Emma walking on the train tracks in golden afternoon sunlight; the whooping youths in a truck at night shining a floodlight at a fleeing moose on the highway; and the ever-churning, spud-laden conveyor belts of the potato harvest. Little snippets of French are occasionally dropped — “C’est bon,” Dominic tells a man selling a car. Meanwhile, Cohen’s Maine accent is very natural and convincing. Talking about Cohen, Gaudet told Portland’s WCSH TV, “People think, like did you find him in Aroostook County? Be-
PHOTO BY STEVE CAPITANO CALITRI
‘Harvest Sky’ delivers an insider’s look at troubled outsiders Tasha (Zoe Levin) has a talk with Casper (Emory Cohen, in a “stellar performance”).
cause he just seems like he’s from the county, he’s just like this so full-on county kid.” In another presumably authentic touch, Casper totes around a mini Howitzer-like “potato gun,” which he likes to blast at stuff for destructive kicks. The minimal score is funky blues-rock that fits the mood. Like “The Outsiders,” this movie has a strong emotional pull. Just as in that novel, the main characters are likable and sympathetic, yet caught up in a no-win situation.
Unlike so much of today’s schlocky teen entertainment, this film’s narrative feels completely real, to the point of being almost like a documentary — again, no doubt, owing to the filmmakers’ news background, plus the cast’s fine acting. “To me,” Gaudet said in a TV interview, “I connect with it because I grew up in a small town in Maine and dreamed of something bigger. And that’s the heart of the story, these two kids that kind of want to go out and forge this path to some future.”
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May 1, 2014
They created their own Kool-Aid reality REDUX, continued from p. 15
activist, and that’s okay. Remix is coming to mean different things to different people. That’s good, because it’s not just a response to corporate and copyright control. It’s a tool to express yourself, using appropriative techniques.”
BEEN THERE, USED THAT
PHOTO BY JH SOUNDS
“Remix owes a debt to people from postcolonial societies,” asserted Patrick Rosal, who had no problem acknowledging the shoulders he stood on. In fact, that’s largely what he came for. Immediately following the festival’s keynote address, “Breakbeat Poetics & the Digital Realm” had the Rutgers-based poet, essayist, DJ and academic paying tribute to DJ Kool Herc. The Jamaicanborn innovator, Rosal noted, laid the groundwork for everything from rapping to the DJ’s cut (multiple copies of a record, aligned to the same section, for use as a sort of callback chorus). “It’s the first technique of the remix,” said Rosal, who likened cutting to “a No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to pose! Kriolta Welt’s bone dry observations accompanied her boxer ’s jab” — the base line connector “Pictorial Anatomy of 007.” to all other techniques. For a chronicle of how Kool Herc’s Bronx beat-juggling that back-crackin’ move [The Suicide] of the printer, printing out the names begat everything from turntabling to that I’d ever seen.” Later, the dancer of the dead.” He recorded the printer, rapping and sampling, Rosal cited Jeff confessed that his game-over display of chopping its raw audio into single wave Chang’s 2005 tome “Can’t Stop Won’t brilliance was the product of improvisa- forms that served as percussive and Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Genera- tion, not intent (his shoe flew off, and he bass sounds over which Filipino artists tion” as required reading that will given worked it into the act). recited numbers that both individualIt was lesson learned for Rosal, who ized the victims and called attention you an education without feeling like an to this day keeps a sharp eye out for to the shocking scope of the event. Anassignment. Peppering the lecture with his own how “the art of the accident” can be other project in the works will layer a poetic raps, Rosal also spoke of the hu- used an instrument to play “the truth recording of bees from the Cloisters and man body as “the fist machine of the told slanted.” scanner sounds over young men of color Excerpts from a work in progress il- interviewing victims of police violence. remix.” For a vivid illustration, he time tripped us back to the Jersey City Boys lustrated that. In response to a politicalAlthough DJ Herc was a frequent Club, circa 1986. Locked in combat with ly motivated massacre that took place touchstone, Rosal traced his own remix a rival crew, one of his b-boys went be- while on a 2009 Fulbright Fellowship to aesthetic all the way back to dear old yond the obligatory display of poppers the Philippines, Rosal printed out a list mom and dad. “My mother constantly and windmills, to score a decisive win of the victims. As heard from the oth- used things in a way they weren’t inby executing “the slickest version of er room, he was “seized by the sounds tended to be used,” he noted, recalling
May 1, 2014
how she produced a handful of cooked rice when he ran out of glue, which allowed his Arizona flag classroom project to get back on track. Just as successful, but the stuff of more painful memories, was his father ’s discovery that a bright orange Matchbox track could be used to “beat us in the behind.” Giving due respect to this artful use of a found object, Rosal admitted that, b-boy dance floor injuries notwithstanding, it was his best example of how “remix can be painful.”
FUNNY THINGS HAPPENED IN THE FORUM
Electronic beats gave way to comedic ones, when Rosal’s 11am lecture was followed by a rare daylight “Carousel” display. Curated and hosted by R. Sikoryak, the monthly traveling slide show features a revolving cast of cartoonists and artists reading from their work. This particular edition was downright loopy, while drawing a straight line between the featured authors and the festival theme. Neither the voice nor the steady hand of Sikoryak trembled with guilt, as the “Masterpiece Comics” writer/illustrator did his best uncredited Jack Mercer impression — a necessary conceit, to invoke a certain sailor man whose iconic look and voice were shamelessly cribbed to tell the story of “Popysseus” (Homer ’s “Odyssey” cast with characters from “Popeye”). “I miss me sweet Penelope,” he says in the first panel, leaving the isle of Calypso to reunite with a wife who looks very much (okay, exactly) like Olive Oyl. The long-suffering Miss Oyl was voiced by the next presenter, Kriolta Welt, whose bone dry delivery accompanied illustrations from her “Pictorial Anatomy of 007” — in which familiar scenes from James Bond films were dissected, literally, to reveal REDUX, continued on p. 19
RE/Mixed Media Festival moves beyond copyright concerns
PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER GORSKI
PHOTO BY LIVIA SANTOS
The joke’s on her, and sometimes you: Tammy Faye Starlite, as Nico, sings like angel and gives the devil his due during between-song patter. REDUX, continued from p. 18
the fleshy mechanics allowing the composed British superspy to make strained eye contact with a poisonous spider on his shoulder or extend his handcuffed arm (in a manner, Welt noted, eerily similar to a 19th century anatomical illustration). Elsewhere in the festival, Tammy Faye Starlite (aka Tammy Lang) performed a truncated version of her acclaimed concert, “Nico/Chelsea Mädchen.” The gifted satirist, a longtime presence on the Downtown comedy scene (mostly in her country/gospel persona), sang a “cavalcade of non-hits” from the catalog of the late Teutonic chanteuse Nico. Supported by the deeply credible musicianship of two guitarists, Starlite’s interpretation of songs including “All Tomorrow’s Parties” and “Femme Fatale” was played largely straight. Laughs, and there were plenty of them, came from glory day tales of functioning as dysfunctional muse for the likes of Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, David Bowie and Lou Reed. “He took this from me and reflected it upon himself,” she said of Reed, while making a weak but confident case for her intellectual ownership of “I’ll Be Your Mirror.” Starlite as Nico was similarly dour and clueless, when attempting some illadvised bonding. “That was a very communal experience,” she said, longing for the umbilical comfort of the stage after one number spent prowling the room
while speculating on the sexual kinks of audience members. “It’s very difficult to both sing and walk at the same time,” she observed, specifying that Mick Jagger ’s technique didn’t count because it was “more of a jog.” With that, she gave the audience their leave: “Only two more songs,” she said, “and you’re free to go — as free as you can be in this predetermined world.” The joke was on her. We would have stayed for more.
WHEN THE IMAGINARY (APP) BECOMES REAL
The festival’s second day began with a presentation from composer, multimedia artist, editor and author Paul D. Miller. Known internationally as DJ Spooky, he at one point mentioned that his tag line moniker, That Subliminal Kid, was taken from the William S. Burroughs novel, “Nova Express.” It wasn’t the only time a RE/Mixed participant made reference to — and expressed reverence for — a literary figure who advanced the form with cutting and stream of consciousness techniques familiar to the DJ. Patrick Rosal, for example, gave props to Keats and Dickinson, noting, “A poet is one who ‘breaks’ into language.” For his part, Miller traced the sci-fi-tinged work of Burroughs (who called language “a virus from outer space”) to William Gibson (whose cyberspace vision of the 1980s came to fruition before century’s end). Pointing to “The Imaginary App” ex-
The iconic DJ Spooky traced the app icon’s rectangular frame back to the record cover sleeve.
hibit that surrounded him, Miller traced the imagery used to communicate the function of an app back to the work of Alex Steinweiss — who, upon adding pictorial content to the record cover sleeve, created a visual shorthand that found its perfect fit inside the rectangle. “People reduce a song to an image,” Miller said, noting how this “frame of experience” finds similar expression in a museum painting, the record album or the familiar shape housing everything from social media logos to app icons. Set for release in August, the book version of “The Imaginary App” gathers essays and articles by writers, artists and theoreticians — and features a group of satirical (often ridiculous) apps. Among the apps featured in the book’s exhibit form: The impossible achievement promised by “Weather Changer” is self-explanatory, while “Queerify” lets you give anything a gay upgrade, simply by tapping the screen. That’s assuming you’ve not used “Assault on Battery” — which grants some off-grid downtime to the user by “turning on the most waste-tastic combination of components on your phone,” thus providing “an excuse for ignoring friends, family, co-workers that no one can blame you for.” The imaginary app allowing one to erase a building from the skyline of a photo, Miller said, is one of several nolonger-imaginary apps. Either through self-fulfilling prophecy on the part of the contributor or sheer coincidence springing from the
zeitgeist, the line between brave new idea and globally available product dissolved before the “App” project wrapped up — causing this reporter to wonder if there was an app for synergy, which would alert you when somebody with the same idea obtained legal rights and took it to market before you did. That inquiry took its final form just after the Q&A session had concluded, but no matter: Miller referred any follow-up questions to his @djspooky Twitter account. That minds think alike is not particularly surprising. But Miller, noting that billions from China, Africa, Brazil and elsewhere will soon be adding their online voices to the mix, wondered what the face of immersive media would look like when we’re all surfing the same 5G wave. When network systems move with a speed comparable to the imagination, the DJ “will be all about the mobile,” Miller said. That confident assertion recalled something brought up by Lev Manovich — who, in the festival’s keynote address, boiled the remix down to our biological urge to interface. Referencing a slide of social media communications in NYC before, during and after Superstorm Sandy, he called attention to the amount of dots representing activity during the blackout. “People still take pictures,” he said. “They don’t give up.” For more information, visit remixnycom.
May 1, 2014
Multimillion-dollar condos, but an underpaid staff BY SAM SPOKONY
May 1, 2014
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
mid a massive overhaul by an elite developer, the West Village’s Printing House has become one of the most stylish and expensive condo buildings in the city — but behind the scenes, a labor struggle is brewing. Non-union doormen, porters and maintenance workers at the 421 Hudson St. building — which includes units offered at prices up to $7 million — make as little as $13 per hour, with unaffordable healthcare packages, and are being prevented from unionizing by their wealthy bosses. “This is a war,” said Kevin Samuel, 58, a porter who has worked at the Printing House since 1986, and is now leading the charge toward unionization. “We have to protect ourselves, and we’re gonna keep fighting until they make this right.” Samuel makes $16 per hour — more than most of the handful of his fellow workers, due to his long tenure. But he hasn’t gotten a raise in seven years, and he’s forced to hand over nearly $200 out of every biweekly paycheck just to keep his medical and dental healthcare packages. A union standard contract would bring Samuel and his comrades up to a living wage of $21 per hour — or around $44,000 per year — but they’ve never had a chance to even bargain for that kind of increase. And back in 2012, Samuel was asked by management to take care of the Printing House after Hurricane Sandy struck and left the neighborhood flooded and without power. The porter said he had to stay on the job nonstop for a full week in order to keep the Hudson St. building functioning. After it was all over, he didn’t get the thousands of dollars in overtime pay he was expecting. Instead, Samuel’s bosses offered him a choice: a week’s vacation or $500. “I took the money because I needed it,” he told The Villager. “But I couldn’t believe that. I didn’t even have a chance to go home to my family during the storm, to see how they were doing. And what did I get for it? Basically nothing.” These are things that new buyers of the Printing House’s magazine-worthy condos may not be aware of. And that’s not surprising, given that Myles Horn, the developer leading the conversions and renovations that have so steeply raised the building’s prices, seems more interested in taking care of business than taking care of the workers, according to supporters of the underpaid employees. Horn, along with two multibillion-dollar investment firms, purchased 104 of the building’s 184 condo units in 2011, and has since undertaken a massive effort to convert those units into 60 larger, redesigned spaces. Most of the conversions are done, and some of the new units have already sold, with 750-square-foot studios starting at more than $1.5 million, and two-, three- and four-bedroom units climbing up to $7 million. Last year, Horn and the Printing House condo board — which he now essentially controls — got wind that Samuel and his
A pro-staff protest planned outside the Printing House was rained out Wednesday. Resident Frank Nervo, right, showed solidarity with doorman Arturo Vergara, left, and porter Kevin Samuel.
fellow workers were planning to unionize, according to the workers and some longtime building residents who support them. In an apparent attempt to stifle their push for unionization, the board immediately took the employees off the Printing House payroll, and hired an outside building-service organization, Planned Companies, to manage the workers. Planned Companies reportedly has a long history of union busting, and has threatened or intimidated workers in other buildings who have supported S.E.I.U. 32BJ — the city’s building workers’ union — according to violations issued by the National Labor Relations Board. At the Printing House, Planned Companies allegedly targeted Samuel with that kind of intimidation last fall, when the managers gave some of the workers a small raise, but specifically — and publicly, in front of the other employees — snubbed the porter, as well as another long-term employee, by denying them a raise. “I asked about my raise, and they said, ‘Maybe next year,’ ” said Samuel. “But the thing is, they know that I was the one leading a lot of the discussions about trying to unionize, and I could tell that they were trying to make me mad, trying to divide us and turn us against each other. “They don’t have any respect for people who’ve been there a long time,” he continued, “and I think they wish I was gone, and they’re trying to make my life miserable, but they can’t do it. I’m still here.” Since last year’s payroll shift, the workers have gotten a great deal of support from 32BJ, which has helped lead protests outside the Printing House — many featuring “Scabby,” the famed inflatable rat. “The conditions for workers at this building are unconscionable,” said Héctor Figueroa, president of 32BJ, in a statement e-mailed to The Villager. “Not only are they subjected to safety hazards due to the con-
do conversions, but in a building filled with the ultra-rich, these workers are struggling to make ends meet. It is buildings like this that contribute to the massive inequality and tale of two cities in New York.” Alongside the union, state Senator Brad Hoylman also wrote a letter to Horn on March 28, to express worries about the developer’s decision to bring in Planned Companies and apparently prevent unionization. “The opportunity for workers to organize, free from retaliation or intimidation, is a well-established right in American law,” Hoylman’s letter stated. “I am very concerned that [Planned Companies] is engaging in unfair labor practices and interfering with this right. “Therefore I urge you and your fellow members of the Printing House Board of Managers to take these allegations extremely seriously and take swift action to remedy the situation on behalf of workers at 421 Hudson Street, including terminating contracts with [Planned Companies],” Hoylman wrote. That letter has not received a response, according to Hoylman’s office, and the 32BJ-led protests have also been met with silence. Neither Horn nor Planned Companies responded to requests for comment. Meanwhile, dozens of longtime Printing House residents — the vast majority of those living there before Horn’s conversions — have also supported the workers, and are still attempting to start a dialogue with their building’s board about letting the workers unionize and receive better wages. But their efforts to get answers from Horn and the board — including a petition sent directly to the board — have also apparently been ignored. “I just don’t see what’s wrong with paying our guys fair wages, because it’s the right thing to do,” said Bonnie Simon, who
has lived on the sixth floor of the Printing House since 1990. “We want these workers to get a fair shake, because they’re like our extended family.” Both Simon and Frank Nervo, who has lived on the building’s second floor since 1994, told The Villager they believe Horn is preventing the workers from unionizing in order to help facilitate sales of the newly converted condos. By keeping their staff’s wages low, the developer can also minimize the condos’ common charges — basically, monthly maintenance charges, which pay the workers’ salaries — and potentially advertise those small charges as a benefit of buying a unit in the building. An unsold one-bedroom condo is currently listed on the Printing House Web site for slightly more than $2.1 million, with common charges prominently displayed at only $570 per month. A much larger threebedroom unit, selling for nearly $6 million, features common charges of only $1,576 per month. Simon and Nervo said they’ve tried many times to ask the building’s board about this, but have never received a response. “It seems to me that there’s no answer from the board because it’s an indefensible position,” said Nervo. “On a dollars and cents basis, it seems entirely indefensible.” The two residents added that, according to figures they received from 32BJ, putting the Printing House’s workers on union standard wages would only increase common charges about 20 percent. For the $2.1 million condo mentioned above, that would mean a rise of only around $115 per month — an amount unlikely to cause a super-rich buyer to go elsewhere. “And to keep the common charges that low just to help with sales, and to do it on the backs of working people, is just deplorable,” said Nervo, who added his strong belief that paying the building workers fair wages also benefits the residents. “We want to have reliable, loyal workers here, because we rely on these folks,” he said. “We trust our families, our pets, our packages to the workers...and when the toilet floods, who do we call?” Another resident, Melissa Dent, who has lived on the sixth floor of the Printing House since 1993 — and whose husband passed away last year, leaving her on her own at home — expressed similar feelings. “I wouldn’t be here without these workers,” she told The Villager. “They’re my family, they’re here for me. And it really makes me angry that they’re selling apartments here for millions, but they’re paying these guys horrible wages. I think it sucks.” She also pointed out that many new residents of the recently converted condos — who often fit the “yuppie” persona, according to Dent and others — simply aren’t aware, or are least not worried, about the conditions faced by their building’s workers. “The problem is that there are a lot of those people who are just buying units now PRINTING HOUSE, continued on p.21
Bill Honan, 83, Villager editor who took on De Sapio BY ALBERT AMATEAU AND LINCOLN ANDERSON
COURTESY NANCY BURTON
illiam H. Honan, a distinguished journalist who was editor of The Villager and an important force in the Reform movement’s toppling Carmine De Sapio from Democratic Party leadership, died Monday in Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut of cardiac arrest. He was 83. A correspondent and editor at The New York Times for 30 years, Bill Honan had also been an associate editor at Newsweek and an assistant editor at The New Yorker, according to his New York Times obituary. But in a career that included several books and the management of Ed Koch’s early political campaigns, his time at The Villager from 1957 to 1960 stood out. John W. Sutter, owner and publisher of The Villager from 1999 to 2013 and a friend of Honan’s, recalled that Bill said that The Villager was the most important job he ever had. In a 2003 interview for the 70th anniversary issue of The Villager, Bill recalled how the paper turned away from the political path of least resistance (support for the De Sapio-led Tamawa Democratic club) and joined the reform movement that ended De Sapio’s reign. The Villager’s publisher at the time, Merle Bryan Williamson, had inherited the paper from her sister, Isabel Bryan, a co-founder of the paper. “She ran a Holiday Inn in Missouri and became The Villager publisher on sheer courage,” Honan said of Williamson. In 1959, Honan convinced the assistant publisher, Jim Bledsoe, to back the reformers, led by Mayor Robert Wagner, former Governor Herbert Lehman and Eleanor Roosevelt. The Villager had never endorsed political candidates before. “We went to Merle and told her what we wanted to do,” Honan said. “She was
Bill Honan around 1970.
85 years old but she was from Missouri where the Pendergast machine ran Kansas City. She said, ‘Well boys, you better do it right. If you don’t you’ll be stretched out in a church and people will be saying how natural you look.’ If her sister were still running the paper, it would never have happened,” Honan said. A 2,500-word, full-page editorial on the paper’s back page detailed the case for the Reform candidates and against De Sapio. Essentially, the editorial stated, while De Sapio was trying to pass himself as a reformer, he was still an old-line machine politician, more interested in providing patronage jobs and Christmas turkeys to supporters than really addressing the community’s needs — not really a district leader but a “district dispenser” as The Villager put it. “In its early days, The Villager never would have taken a position like that,” Honan noted in an article in The Villager’s 75th anniversary issue. “They were play-
Multimillion-dollar condos, but an underpaid staff PRINTING HOUSE, continued from p. 20
and moving in, and they think everything’s great,” said Dent. “It seems like they’re more concerned with just enjoying their new apartments.” Samuel, the porter, has gotten that feeling as well. He recalled a recent protest in front of the building, with the union’s inflatable rat prominently on display, during which a young woman — one of the Printing House’s new residents — came outside and spoke to him. “She was mad,” said Samuel. “She told
us she didn’t want us to have the rat in front of the building, because she had friends coming over to see her. “And honestly, we get that,” he continued. “You know, nobody likes the rat. We tell the yuppies that we don’t want to be doing it either. But if they want us to stop, they should call their board members, and tell them to get off their butts, take care of business and let us unionize, and all this would disappear. Everything would be fine. “The way we see it is, that something’s not right, so we have to protest. I mean, what do you want us to do? You want us to keep getting stepped on until we’re too old to fight back?”
ing footsy with the powers that be. There were pages of notes at the old Grosvenor Hotel and about widows playing backgammon, and who won the backgammon game was considered news. “Everybody said all the advertisers would desert us, we’re doing a terrible thing,” he recalled. But the paper prospered. Honan said a judge offered to bribe The Villager — in support for De Sapio the paper would be supplied with legal notices, like those found in the back of this newspaper. “That was worth several thousand dollars a week — significant bucks,” Honan recalled. De Sapio, in fact, won by what The Villager in its headline called a “Razor Margin,” 4,857 to 4,271. Yet, the paper correctly ascertained in its editorial that it was “the last hurrah” for Tammany and De Sapio, who lost in ’61, ’63 and ’65. A note apologized to readers for lack of the paper’s prompt delivery due to a press breakdown and “the high-handed interference of political partisans.” “Sheer courage” is an apt description of Honan himself. Committed since a teenager to nonviolence, he was drafted into the Army in the early 1950s during the Korean War, according to his daughter, Edith Honan. “After submitting to a nine-hour interrogation, he was granted status as a conscientious objector,” she said. “The Draft Board did not take kindly to Gandhi-quoting atheists. Most of the CO’s who served with my dad were Seventh Day Adventists. But the military was not prepared for the kind of answers he gave: ‘Do you believe in a higher being?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Would you name that higher being?’ ‘Myself.’ “My dad went through basic training as a CO armed with a billy club and trained as a medic, but the military transferred him to Fort Devens [Mass.] where he became editor of the post newspaper, the Fort Devens Dispatch. That was his start in journalism,” she said. Anti-violence was an important aspect of Bill’s life, his daughter said. “My dad and his brother, Park Honan, hitchhiked across the country when they were young to hear Albert Schweitzer speak at Aspen,” she said. “My dad wrote a lot about the antiwar movement and anti-violence. “My dad told stories about his days at The Villager,” his daughter recalled. “He met Eleanor Roosevelt, who told him, ‘You’re the man who brought down Carmine De Sapio,’ and invited him to lunch. Walter Cronkite called him for an interview. It was a big deal,” she said. During Honan’s tenure the ongoing big issue was fighting Robert Moses’ plan to build a major road through Washington Square Park and the community’s wish to close the park to traffic. The Villager published a front-page editorial. Thanks to the persistence of a united community and The Villager’s coverage and editori-
als, the road project was defeated and the park closed to cars. Bill met his second wife, Nancy Burton, in 1970 when he was an editor on the Times’s Magazine desk and she was a “copyboy.” There were no “copygirls” at the Times in those days, she noted. An earlier marriage, to Sally Trope, ended in divorce. Burton not only would go on to marry Honan, but also to work at The Villager as a news and feature writer, a job that she loved. “I was a college student in Boston at the time in a cooperative education program in which I would study three months and they would place me in a job for three months,” Nancy recalled. “After I met Bill, we were inseparable for 44 years! I quickly transferred to N.Y.U. to the journalism program, and there happened to be an opening for a reporter at The Villager. I was able to both do reporting and pursue my B.A. degree, after which I went on to become a reporter in the New York bureau of the Associated Press. “Bill was so loved by all!” she said. “His crusading spirit, humanity and compassion drew me to him, not to mention his disarming charm, grace and wit. “Bill was a sailor, too,” she added. “He loved serving as captain at the helm at The Villager, guiding the paper forward with his awesome navigational skills.” William Holmes Honan was born in Manhattan in May 1930. His father, William was a thoracic surgeon who died when Bill was five years old. His mother, Annette Neudecker, was a journalist. He earned a B.A. in history from Oberlin College and a master’s degree from the University of Virginia. Among the books that he authored are “Visions of Infamy: The Untold Story of How Journalist Hector C. Bywater Devised the Plans that Led to Pearl Harbor,” and “Treasure Hunt: A New York Times Reporter Tracks the Quedlinburg Hoard.” In addition to his daughter, a reporter for Reuters, and his wife of 37 years, Nancy Burton, he is survived by his sons, Bradley and Daniel, and two grandchildren. His brother, Park, a retired professor of English at Leeds University, England, also survives. Carol Greitzer and James Lanigan, of the Village Independent Democrats club, beat De Sapio and his female running mate in the ’61 district leader race. Greitzer went on to be elected city councilmember. “He was the one who really change the nature of The Villager,” she said of Honan. “The paper had a lot of news about De Sapio’s people. And it had a lot on graduations and weddings, photos with short stories. The Village Voice was reporting on Democratic politics. He changed The Villager from a little society paper into a newspaper that reported the news. … I can still picture all those wedding and graduation photos.” May 1, 2014
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May 1, 2014
PHOTO BY ROB BENNETT FOR THE MAYOR’S OFFICE
Bill de Blasio last week named Julie Menin the Department of Consumer Affairs commissioner.
Menin is appointed D.C.A. chief MENIN, continued from p. 1
and responsibilities of the new law, which covers businesses of more than five employees. Currently the Department of Consumer Affairs has information on the law in eight languages, and that will soon expand to Arabic, Bengali and then “many more,” Menin added. Although shop owners and other businesses ultimately will be subject to fines for violating the law, Menin said, “We hope to not get to that point… . “The mayor has made it very clear that fines not be punitive,” she said. “We will be extremely collaborative with small businesses so they understand the regulations to all D.C.A. rules.” In making the announcement April 24, de Blasio repeated his criticism that under former Mayor Bloomberg, “some real boundaries were overstepped in the name of revenue production. Many small businesses were treated unfairly.” De Blasio naturally was effusive in his praise for Menin, but it seemed to be more glowing than average for his hiring announcements. He said that after 9/11, “There was a desperate need for people to step forward and
innovate and come up with solutions. Julie was one of the people who did that — and won tremendous acclaim for her ingenuity, her energy, her sense of optimism… .” After the attack, Menin created Wall Street Rising, a nonprofit advocacy group, which held events to drive more foot traffic Downtown and help small businesses. At the time, she owned Vine restaurant in the Financial District — one of the businesses unable to survive the added security measures around the New York Stock Exchange. Menin later joined C.B. 1, where, as the mayor pointed out, she received high marks for finding consensus on divisive high-profile neighborhood issues like Occupy Wall Street and the Islamic center near the World Trade Center, a.k.a. “the Ground Zero mosque.” Menin officially starts work supervising a staff of 328 this Monday. The sick leave law, which the mayor signed in March, provides the agency with money to hire 17 people to implement it. A second priority for Menin will be to use the department’s Office of Financial Empowerment to help as many as “835,000 unbanked New Yorkers” get their first bank accounts.
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May 1, 2014
Taste of Tribeca Kick-Off Party at Bouley Botanical
Please join us for the 2014 Taste of Tribeca Kick-Off Cocktail Party honoring our 20-year Golden Participants on Friday, May 2 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM at Bouley Botanical, 281 Church Street. Price per person is $90 which includes one Taste of Tribeca ticket. Specialty cocktails and hors dâ€™oeuvres will be served. EastVillagerNews.com
MAY 1, 2014, THE VILLAGER