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

May 14, 2015 • FREE Volume 5 • Number 6

Stage restaurant sues landlord as residents fight for gas and repairs BY TINA BENITEZ-EVES


2ND AVE., continued on p. 10


month and a half after three Second Ave. buildings collapsed in a fiery gas explosion, tenants across the street at 128 Second Ave. are still without gas and only just got their hot water turned back on. One tenant in particular, Stage restaurant, has

been closed since March 29 — three days after the explosion — and is now locked in a heated legal battle with the building’s landlord, Icon Realty Management. The Villager previously reported that Icon issued an eviction notice to Stage on April 13, accusing the restaurant, which has been at No.

Living Theatre lives on in all those Malina touched BY ALBERT AMATEAU


he Living Theatre did not die on April 10 with the passing of Judith Malina, the Living’s founder and guiding genius, say her friends and colleagues who shared their memories of her with The Villager last week.

Bob Fass, talk show host of many years on WBAI, recalled the first time he met Malina and her husband, Julian Beck, the theater troupe’s co-founder. “I was in the Army at the time, 1959 or ’60, and I heard they were putting on Pirandello’s ‘Tonight We ImproMALINA, continued on p. 8

A Cinco de Mayo reveler — not really succeeding if he was trying to camouflage himself — rode the subway last week en route to a celebration Uptown.

‘A signal moment’: First Lady and mayor dedicate Whitney BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


irst Lady Michelle Obama, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Whitney scion Flora Miller Biddle were among the speakers at the dedication of the new Whitney Museum of American Art last Thursday. The ceremony was held on Gansevoort St., the $442 million, 220,000-square-foot new museum’s home in the heart of the Meatpacking District. “I took a brief tour and I fell in love with the build-

ing,” Obama said. “This was the most beautiful freight elevator I’ve ever ridden on. Just about every space in this building is magnificent.” Robert Hurst, the museum’s co-chairperson, noted, “Rarely does one have the opportunity to build a museum from the ground up in New York. … This defining location places the Whitney among the city’s cultural icons.” Renzo Piano, the architect who created the massive “floating ship,” spoke over

the occasional din of traffic from the nearby West Side Highway. “Mama mia!… What a joy. Welcome to the brand-new piazza,” he said. “Some like to call it the lobby. I’m Italian, I call it the piazza. It’s a place of meeting — it’s a place of city life. …” The piazza is specifically the 8,500-square-foot public plaza beneath the museum’s dramatic, cantilevered entranceway. WHITNEY, continued on p. 4

Cops shoot, catch hammer 6 Talkin’ turning 20s into ‘Tubmans’ 16 Astronaut takes kids on space 27 Penny Arcade 19 | May 14, 2014



From left, Tim Wu, Chuck Schumer, Shantel Walker and Zephyr Teachout at the V.I.D. annual gala

wich Village.

TO REBNY ON THE REBOUND: Supporters of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act are quick to point out that Christine Quinn never let the bill come up for a vote when she was the speaker of the City Council. The legislation would allow businesses in good standing to renew their leases for 10 years through mediation or, if necessary, binding arbitration. The Real Estate Board of New York, not surprisingly, is steadfastly against the bill. As Steven Spinola, the property-owning group’s president since 1986, told The Villager in March regarding the S.B.J.S.A., “This is a constitutional taking, and it will be legally challenged.” Interestingly, Jamie McShane, Quinn’s former director of communications, is now a senior vice president in charge of communications, at none other than...REBNY. Wham! ... That was us imagining the sound of small business advocates hitting the roof as they read this. ET TU, BREWER? However, really angering small business advocates — and we mean, really! — is Borough President Brewer’s proposal for a bill that would supplant the S.B.J.S.A. Among the many faults advocates find with her measure, it would only offer a one-year renewal. Asked why she’s shunning the S.B.J.S.A. and proposing an al-





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May 14, 2015

SCOOPY’S, continued on p. 3




LOTS O’ MATZO DOUGH: Bowery Boogie reports that Streit’s Matzo officially unloaded its historic 90-year-old factory on Rivington St. for a hefty

* **


ternative, Brewer sent us a statement saying she basically feels the former is going nowhere. “The S.B.J.S.A. has been floating around for decades and hasn’t gained momentum,” she said. “We’re proposing to institute a mediation period, require landlords to notify small business tenants of their intentions six months before a long-term commercial lease ends, and provide a one-year lease extension option as a safety valve. These are commonsense solutions that can pass, and would save small businesses that right now live in a world where they can find out that their rent is tripling with only a week left in their lease. S.B.J.S.A.’s reliance on caseby-case arbitration that’s binding for one side but not the other makes it impractical, and its creation of a right of first refusal for existing tenants could make it even tougher for new small businesses to find spaces of their own. I agree with S.B.J.S.A.’s goals, but I’m trying to pass a workable plan that will make a difference for both existing and new small business owners, rather than rallying around a bill that’s spent decades collecting dust.”


V.I.D., THE PLACE TO BE: The Village Independent Democrats’ 58th annual gala on Thurs., April 30, was packed to the gills with progressive politicos. Luckily for them, the event was held for the second straight year at Jimmy and Rocio Sanz’s Tio Pepe, at 168 W. Fourth St., near Cornelia St., so that they could enjoy the Spanish restaurant’s paella, flan and other delicious fare. Zephyr Teachout, who gave Governor Andrew Cuomo a run for his money in the Democratic primary last year, pointed out that progressive political organizations like V.I.D. have a powerful influence on public policy in New York State, noting the club’s strong opposition to fracking. With its early endorsement, V.I.D. helped launch Teachout’s insurgent campaign against Cuomo, which propelled her to national prominence. Teachout’s running mate in the primary, Tim Wu, lauded recent progressive successes, including halting the Comcast takeover of Time Warner and the F.C.C.’s renewed commitment to “ ’Net neutrality” — a term he coined — as the guiding principle for broadband service. Shantel Walker represented Fast Food Forward, a New York City-based organization that is part of a national movement to raise the wages and improve the lives fast-food workers. State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, City Councilmember Corey Johnson and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer were among the elected officials who joined in V.I.D.’s celebration. A surprise guest at the gala, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, also lauded V.I.D.’s progressive efforts and captured the exuberant spirit of the evening with an optimistic assessment of the Democrats’ chances of keeping the White House and regaining a majority in the Senate next year. Founded in 1957, V.I.D. is one of the oldest progressive political clubs in New York City and the first in Green-

Corne r of Jane & West 4th St. (at 8th Ave.) 212-2 42-95 02

SCOOPY’S, continued from p. 2

A BRIDGE NOT TOO FAR: In case you haven’t heard, thousands of New Yorkers will be marching to protect and strengthen the rent laws on Thurs., May 14. The Rally to Save NYC will gather at 5 p.m. at Foley Square for a demonstration, after which they’ll march over the Brooklyn Bridge. Momentum finally seems to be on renters’ side, with Mayor Bill de Blasio pushing to increase protections, and a possible rent freeze for rent-regulated apartments in the offing. The resignation of scandal-scarred Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is seen as

CORRECTION: A photo in last week’s Police Blotter showed Inspector Elisa Cokkinos, the Sixth Precinct’s commanding officer, on Wed., April 29, holding a large, rolled-up orange net that she was getting ready to unfurl at the BlackLivesMatter protest Streit’s is raking in the dough for the sale of its historic Rivington St. march. The caption said she would factory on the Lower East Side. use it to arrest protesters, if necessary, the way the orange nets were used to scoop up protesters by the dozens in street actions and marches during the 2004 Republican National Convention. However, in this case, the nets were actually used — not to net the protesters — but to keep them from marching southward into the Village and toward the Brooklyn Bridge.


$30.5 million, according to the deed recently filed with the city. The buyer is Cogswell Realty, a Midtown-based real estate firm that specializes in “flying under the radar” with its property acquisitions. Umm...not this time, Cogswell!

another plus. About 2.5 million New Yorkers live in rent-regulated housing. According to the rally’s organizers, “This moment may provide the best opportunity in decades to establish fair rent laws for all New Yorkers.”

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May 14, 2015

From left, Whitney Director Adam Weinberg, Michelle Obama and Mayor de Blasio at the dedication of the Whitney Museum on Thurs., April 30.

“sending the same message.” Even a little exposure can go a long way. “One visit, one performance, one touch — and who knows? — you can change a life,” Obama said. “You can find the next Edward Hopper — or who knows? — the next Barack Obama.” After the ceremony, Weinberg invited everyone inside for a glass of champagne. Attesting to the new Whitney’s community-mindedness, the crowd was full of local politicians, community board members and neighborhood fixtures. “I think it’s a beautiful building, iconic and now an anchor for the neighborhood,” said Councilmember Corey Johnson, “nestled between the High Line, the meatpackers, Hudson River Park and Westbeth.” “It’s great,” said Tobi Bergman, chairperson of Community Board 2. “It’s going to be a real change for the Village — a good change for the Village.” Jonathan Kuhn, director of Arts and Antiquities for the Parks Department and a West Village resident, said, “From the beginning, I think the architect set the tone — to make it about humanity... and being a friendlier face than many of our cultural institutions. It starts at the top with Adam Weinberg.” State Senator Brad Hoylman said he’s glad his 4-year-old daughter will have the Whitney right nearby as she grows up. “I find it so appropriate that the Whitney is coming back Downtown,” he said. “And to have this asset Downtown is going to mean so much for the community — and my family.” A former C.B. 2 chairperson, he said that, from the start, the Whitney had al-



“I wanted to make it fly,” Piano said of the design of the building, which sits on enormous support poles, suspended over the glass-enclosed first floor, as if on air. However, Piano quipped, “It’s 28,000 tons — so it doesn’t fly. “Art is freedom,” he said. “Especially American art — a bit wild.” As a result, the building must mirror that feeling, he said: “It’s got to be brave, flying...a bit unpolite.” The museum’s 18,000-square-foot fifth floor is the largest column-free museum exhibition space in New York. “I love making buildings, but I especially like making buildings for public use,” Piano said. “Art and beauty make us better people. Beauty builds curiosity and desire. … I’m pretty sure that beauty will save the world. “Thank you for coming,” he concluded. “The building is yours.” Adam Weinberg, the Whitney’s director, said, “People are calling the building ‘generous’ — airy, open, light, but comfortable and warm.” Mayor de Blasio dubbed the dedication “a signal moment.” “This is an extraordinary day for New York City, for this nation, for art,” he said. Eighty-four years and four locations later, the museum has returned to the neighborhood where it all began. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, an artist, art patron, collector and member of one of America’s wealthiest families, started the museum back during the Great Depression. Back then it was known as the Whitney Studio Club and was located in her apartment on MacDougal Alley. She would hold salons there. Biddle, her granddaughter, received a standing ovation before she spoke. “The need for art has never been greater,” she said, “for art can lift us and tell us who we are and who we need to be.” Both Obama and de Blasio emphasized that art and culture — and the museum — are for everyone, and for all the city’s children and students. Weinberg praised de Blasio for last year increasing the budget for arts funding in the city’s schools by $23 million. “We are fortunate to have a mayor that shows a belief that art is a right not a privilege,” he said. The mayor added, “Our first lady knows that the arts are essential to the development of our young people.” Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Obama recalled, she didn’t think places like the Whitney were for her. Too many children today still feel that way, she said. She and President Obama have strived to open up the White House to the people, she said, adding that the Whitney is



WHITNEY, continued from p. 1

Architect Renzo Piano described the design of the new museum as “flying.”

ways worked closely with the community board, keeping it abreast of its plans for the project. John Jobbagy, an owner of J.T. Jobbagy meats in the “meat co-op” building on the same block as the museum, said of the new Whitney, “Fabulous. An incredible addition to the neighborhood.” He said he had noticed an increase in foot traffic down Washington St. in the weeks leading up to the museum’s opening. “I can’t wait to get my membership,” said Assemblymember Deborah Glick. Arianna Huffington, editor in chief of the Huffington Post, was also among the upbeat crowd mingling in the lobby after the dedication. “Oh, absolutely lovely,” she said of the new Whitney. “As someone who lives in Soho, I love what they do for the neighborhood, and opening it up to children... .” The museum officially opened the following day, Fri., May 1. Admission is $22. (Seniors/students, $18. Under age 18 and members, free). Annual membership is about $80.


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May 14, 2015


POLICE BLOTTER found no flames. Walker was later arrested and charged with making a false report of an incident, a felony.

Cops catch hammer attacker Police said that the suspect in two hammer assaults on women in the Union Square area was shot by police in Hell’s Kitchen after he wielded the tool menacingly at an officer on Wed., May 13. According to police, the suspect’s first attack was on Mon., May 11, at around 7:36 p.m., when he approached a woman, 28, sitting on a park bench in Union Square, removed a hammer from inside of a bag and struck her in the head. EMS medics responded to the scene and transported the victim to Lenox Hill Hospital in stable condition. Ten minutes after the first attack, the same suspect, police said, came up behind a woman, 33, walking westbound on W. 17th St. between Fifth and Sixth Aves. and struck her in the back of the head, causing a scalp injury, before fleeing. Two days later, at around 10 a.m., Officers Geraldo Casaigne and Lauren O’Rourke were responding to an unrelated assault at W. 37th St. and Eighth Ave. After completing that job, they were walking southbound along Eighth Ave. when they observed an individual fitting the description of the suspect wanted in connection with the two assaults. When they approached the suspect, he produced a hammer and swung it violently, with the claw side facing out, at O’Rourke, police said, causing her to step back and fall to the ground. Casaigne then fired his gun four times, striking the suspect twice, once in the right arm and once in the torso. O’Rourke sustained abrasions and lacerations to the back of her head and back and was transported by EMS to Bellevue Hospital. Casaigne was also transported by EMS to Bellevue and treated for tinnitus. Both officers were treated and released. The suspect was taken into custody and transported by EMS to Bellevue Hospital in critical but stable condition. The hammer was recovered at the location.

Shady situation The proprietor of the Sunglass Hut at 755 Broadway called police on Mon., May 4, expressing worry that a crook was scoping out the place. Officers arrived at about 4:30 p.m. and went to the rear of the store to view surveillance footage. As they checked for indications that someone had aims on the store, two thieves coincidentally made their

Skater flips out A panhandler made a 67-year-old woman driver pay once she refused to give him money in the early hours of Wed., May 6. He took a skateboard and smashed her rear car window in front of 18 E. 10th St., police said. A super from a nearby building intervened and held Hector Orozco, 24, until police arrived. Orozco was charged with felony criminal mischief. The hammer of the alleged Union Square attacker, left on the sidewalk in Hell’s Kitchen after he was shot by police and arrested on Wednesday.

way inside. The pair allegedly grabbed four pairs of luxury sunglasses worth $1,231, but the cops quickly caught on. Tahlik Davis, 18, and Al Housseinou Sy, 19, were arrested and charged with felony grand larceny.

Bump to beating A younger woman who bumped into a middle-aged woman in front of 63 Perry St. got violent on Thurs., May 7, according to police. Police said a 58-year-old woman was walking her dog there at about 7:20 p.m. when Rahwa Berhe, 23, collided with her. Berhe reportedly did not take kindly to admonishment for the collision as she subsequently pummeled the older woman’s head. The victim suffered swelling over her left eye and scratches on her left arm, according to a police report. As Berhe was being arrested for misdemeanor assault, an acquaintance jumped in. Darnell Garling, 23, allegedly grabbed the arresting officer’s arms and tried to push him away. He then pinned his arms to his chest in order to avoid the handcuffs, police said. Garling was arrested for harassment, a violation.

Kooky party pooper

Police said a belligerent man ruined the party on Fri., May 8, at Negril bar, at 70 W. Third St. According to cops, Clint Walker, 26, began acting rudely at about 11:20 p.m. that night before getting too touchy-feely with female patrons. Bar staff then escorted Walker On May 28, 2015 at 10:00 a.m., a public hearing from the premises, at which point he allegedly will be held in the City Council Committee Room, said he would get a gun, 2nd Floor, City Hall, Manhattan, for the purpose of come back and start shooting. On top of that, considering a local law which authorizes a change in he then allegedly dialed 911 and told emergency the method of assessment upon which the district services that there was a fire at the bar. charge is based and modifications to the existing Firefighters responded to the scene and services in the Lower East Side Business


Bedford burglar bagged Something did not appear right to a man, 52, observing a suspicious character trying to leave an enclosed courtyard at 100 Bedford St. on Sun., May 3. The witness did not know the man, but did notice he was carrying some cumbersome bags. A chase ensued once the perpetrator jumped over the fence and fled on foot, dropping his bags as he went. Police soon joined in and apprehended Kameele Bussey, 22. A search of his person and the bags revealed an Xbox video game console, accessories, a large quantity of antique coins and a box of hockey trading cards, as well as a knit New York Rangers cap, altogether worth $4,979. Police said all those items did not belong to Bussey. However, two ziplock bags of reefer found in his front-right pants pocket were his, according to police. Bussey was charged with felony burglary.

Double-teamed Two robbery suspects were caught after a police officer noticed one man grabbing onto another man’s pants and jacket in front of 110 Seventh Ave. South around 4 a.m. on Wed., April 29. The officer confronted the alleged grabber, Stephon Williams, 31. His victim, 26, told police that he was standing earlier in front of a store when the other man, later identified as Kenneth Edwards, 22, allegedly cornered him and told him to empty his pockets. Edwards then cut the victim’s lip with a few punches to the face, police said. Williams then ran up to the victim and started rummaging through his pants before emptying his wallet of $65 cash. He then sliced the victim’s jacket open with a razor blade and took a black Samsung phone. Edwards meanwhile fled the scene. Police located Edwards later inside the subway station at W. Fourth St. and Sixth Ave. Williams and Edwards were both arrested and charged with felony robbery.

Zach Williams and Lincoln Anderson

Improvement District. 6

May 14, 2015

EV: 05/14/2015

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce & The East Villager Support

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he “East Village Loves� campaign is conceived by the East Village Independant Merchants Association (EVIMA) and encourages residents and visitors to shop local at their favorite East Village spots. Many businesses affected by the blast have re-opened and are ready for your visit.

The campaign is a celebration of the rich, diverse, and historic neighborhood in lower manhattan, characterized by a concentration of mom-and-pop establishments that are becoming less common throughout the city


May 14, 2015


Living Theatre lives on in those Malina touched MALINA, continued from p. 1


May 14, 2015


vise.’ I studied improvisation with Sanford Meisner, so I went to the theater on 14th St. to see it. After the show, I went backstage and told Judith that I had gone AWOL to see the performance. She told me not to go back and to stay and work with the company — I wasn’t willing to do that,” Fass said. “I was friends with a lot of people in the Living Theatre,” Fass said. “Steve Ben Israel was one of them. He went with them to Brazil sometime in the ’70s where they held workshops with kids in a village and developed a play from the dreams the kids told. The company was arrested after one performance. At least one of them, Jim Anderson, was tortured. But Steve escaped and turned up at my house in New York. He started a campaign that drew outraged responses from all over the world. They finally let the company go after four months,” Fass said. Fass recalled how Living Theatre’s convention-shattering methods broke down the barrier between audience and actors. “I was in the audience at one of their shows — I think it was ‘Paradise Now,’ in the 1980s at Brooklyn Academy of Music — and took off my clothes along with a few others in the audience,” he recalled. “I was in ‘Poland 1931,’ a play by Jerome Rothenberg that the Living Theatre did on the Lower East Side in the ’80s. It was about some intellectual Jews who leave the shtetl and get caught up in a Nazi-inspired pogrom. I played Judith’s husband,” Fass said. “She was very courageous,” Fass said. “In her 80s she got naked playing a homeless woman befriended by a model. They were both naked in a bathtub — giving each other a bath.” Joanie Fritz Zosike also recalled acting in “Poland 1931.” A singer and musician, she eventually supervised music for the Living’s productions. “I was kind of scared of her,” she said of Malina. “She was very exacting. Judith and I did solo pieces together a few years later,” said Zosike, who served as the Living’s managing director from 1990 to 1993. “In 1990 we all went to Bergamo, Italy, and then to Augsburg, Germany, Bertolt Brecht’s birthplace,” Zosike recalled. For a time, the company found a home for its productions on E. Third St. between Avenues C and D. “Judith had been a singing waitress early on at a West Village cafe run by Valeska Gert,” Zosike said. “I know that was a big influence on her — along with Erwin Piscator at The New School. “Judith could be diplomatic or blunt, direct and simple. She was forceful but she was nervous driving a car, and nervous when the telephone rang — she hated being on the telephone,” Zosike recalled. Joanee Freedom recalled meeting Malina and Beck in 1983 in Europe when she was dating their son, Garrick Beck. “Garrick and I were a couple at the time,” she said. “The Living Theatre was in Nantes and I came up from Paris to become a costume apprentice to Julian. He was a painter and designer. I spent my first day sitting next to Judith and rolling joints for her while she was blocking the play that was in rehearsal at the time,” Freedom said. When the company returned from Europe, Freedom designed Living Theatre shows at the Joyce Theater in Chelsea and Theater for the New City in the East Village.

Judith Malina performing “Six Public Acts” in Amiens, France in 1978.

Julian Beck died in 1985. Hanon Reznikov, who wrote several works for the Living Theatre and subsequently married Malina, died in 2008. So, what about the future of the Living Theatre? It is alive and thriving, said Garrick Beck, who makes his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but frequently visits New York. Although true to the Beautiful Non-Violent Anarchist Revolution ethos of Judith and Julian, the Living Theatre is now a little more structured than before. Garrick Beck is president and board chairperson, Brad Burgess is artistic director, From left, Julian Beck, and Tom Walker, the Barcelona in 1977. most senior member of the Living Theatre, is chief archivist. “Until I was about 14, I thought everybody was an artist — a painter, an actor, a dancer. They might have jobs, but their life was pursuing their art,” said Garrick, who was born on the Upper West Side in 1949. “Julian was a painter and his friends were painters — Expressionists.” What was it like in such a household? “Well, they let me stay up as late as I liked,” he recalled. “The first productions were in our living room.” He went to college out West and returned to New York for several years, living at Avenue B and Sixth St. “I got involved in the neighborhood, the Ave-

Judith Malina and Tom Walker performing in

nue B Garden, Children’s Liberation Preschool,” he said Beck expects the Living Theatre to be a collaborative exercise. In the near future, the Living Theatre will be in the street with three performances of “No Place to Hide” in front of the New Museum on Bowery at Stanton St. on Sat., May 30. Members of the company will also take part in the Lower East Side Festival at Theater for the New City, at First Ave. at E. 10th St., on Fri., May 22. And in June, the Boo Hooray Gallery, at 265 Canal St., will present an exhibit of the Living Theatre and Judith Malina. In the fall, at a time and place to be announced, there will be a memorial for Malina.

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May 14, 2015


Restaurant sues as residents demand gas, repairs 2ND AVE., continued from p. 1

128 for 35 years, of tampering with the building’s gas line. Con Ed initially shut off the building’s gas on March 29 after a tenant reported smelling gas a few days after the disastrous explosion across the street. In a statement, Stage’s owner, Roman Diakun, said that Con Ed told him that because he had a separate gas line going into his restaurant, if he hires a licensed plumber to check the pressure in the pipes, he could possibly restore gas service to the restaurant. Diakun said the plumbers did realize that there was a leak and started to disconnect pipes in an attempt to find it. As a result, he said, he was fined since there was a stop-work order from the Department of Buildings in effect due to dozens of violations by Icon throughout the building and unrelated to Stage. Diakun, who also lives in the building, paid the fine and hired a master plumber to obtain the necessary permits to get Stage back open, but was denied a work permit by the landlord and soon thereafter was asked to vacate the property by the end of April.

Stage subsequently sued Icon, while Diakun’s son, Andrew, started a crowdfunding campaign to help raise $10,000 for their legal fees. Stage is not the only tenant having trouble getting the gas turned back on. The entire building is still without gas. Hot water was turned on last week but is only warm in some apartments, according to some tenants. It’s just another setback for the residential tenants, many who have their own individual apartment issues, and have been in ongoing legal battles with the landlord, which purchased the building October 2013. Prior to the catastrophic building collapses across the street, tenants at No. 128 filed an “action for repairs and services” with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development against Icon. Tenants have accused Icon of trying to push out rent-stabilized and rent-controlled tenants by means of inconsistent heat, broken fire escapes, lack of fire alarms and other violations. The Cooper Square Committee, a neighborhood housing advocacy group, has been heavily involved in helping tenants at No. 128 with their ongoing building issues and legal battles.

“Initially, it was a shot across the bow to get them to the table to discuss the building issues and tenant harassment,” Yonatan Tadele, a tenant counselor at Cooper Square Committee, said of the H.P.D. complaint. “Then the explosion happened.” On April 14, the tenants and Icon signed a stipulation in court addressing all the issues under the H.P.D. complaint. Icon agreed to resolve all issues — including restoring the building’s gas and addressing other individual repairs — within 45 days; hot water was to be turned on within 24 hours. Icon is also addressing individual tenant repairs and other issues piecemeal, according to Tadele. “This case is emblematic of Icon’s strategy of legal cases,” he said. ‘It’s ‘Landlord 101.’ You buy a building, shake the tree, rattle the branches and see what falls out.” Prior to the collapse of the three tenements across the street, Icon only had 15 to 20 violations at 128 Second Ave., according to Tadele. More issues came to light following the March 26 gas-explosion tragedy. Violations at the time of the tenants’ court hearing numbered 89 and today stand at 107. “I’ve never seen a case with a building that has had so many violations in so little time,” Tadele said, “from the Second Ave. collapse to now.” He added that the new violations may be repeats of older violations that have not been resolved within an appropriate time frame, including the hot water, which took longer than 24 hours from the court date to restore.

“A lot of them have to do with the lack of gas in the building,” he said. “H.P.D. just re-registers the violation, and it counts again in their system.” Icon recently told The Villager that it is working repairing the building and that the gas is the owner’s main concern. However, because of the 1920 building’s age, there’s concern that the gas pipes are old and may need to be replaced. According to the recent stipulation, Icon has until the end of May to get the building’s gas back up and running. Tadele added that the tenants are meeting this week to discuss other pending legal matters and the recent resolution in court. Meanwhile, in another issue, Christopher Dobrowolski, a rent-stabilized tenant who has lived at No. 128 since 1987, is being accused by Icon of running an illegal hotel. He admitted that he does travel often and has had friends and family stay at his apartment and stop in to care for his two cats. But Dobrowolski stated that he has never run an ad for, or rented out, his apartment, and that he’s not planning on going anywhere, despite the costly legal fees to defend his rent-stabilized space. “I love the East Village,” he said, “and I will not let them [Icon] scare me into moving out. It’s not going to happen. I’m confident that I did nothing wrong, and I have a belief in the justice system, and that it will find that I haven’t done anything.”

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May 14, 2015





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After fire, return has been slow, but revealing BY YVONNE COLLERY



even weeks have gone by since the March 26 gas explosion, and the moving-back process has been slow, painfully slow, slothclimbing-a-tree slow. One of the main stumbling blocks delaying tenants from returning is that the tenants from both 41 E. Seventh St. and 125 Second Ave. have been asking for environmental testing of the air, dust and debris, to check for carcinogens and toxins. The Environmental Protection Agency has tested across the street from these buildings — but not inside where testing is most needed. These tenements are more than 100 years old, and contain materials no longer permitted for safety and health reasons. In some apartments, including my own at No. 125, there are heaps of debris — crumbled and crushed plaster with paint, in piles and all ground into everything. My apartment is not alone in this condition, and all sorts of things are being tracked on people’s shoes throughout the buildings and is most likely floating around in the air. The majority of the tenants are holding firm that this testing must be done before they move back in. No city agency will pay for this nor will the Mayor’s Fund. Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) and the Cooper Square Committee are trying to find a donor to pay for this. In the meantime, a tenant leader, Lindsey Bornstein of 41 E. Seventh St., has started a GoFundMe page to cover the $3,900 cost for the testing of the two buildings. At 41 E. Seventh St., residents of 11 of the 22 units have moved back. All of the vacate orders have been lifted. But there is a strong smell of smoke in many of the apartments and issues, such as cracked plaster. During inspections by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, it was duly noted that the apartments of the long-term tenants are in differing states of neglect and disrepair. The cooking gas has not been turned on and the landlord is in the process of installing the new pipes needed to turn the gas back on. Apartment walls need to be cut open to allow this, which is adding to the mess and confusion. At my building, 125 Second Ave. — which abutted the northernmost building destroyed by the explosion and fire — there is severe damage on its south side and its top two floors, making the return process slower still. Only residents of six of the 26 units have moved back as of this writing. There are still three units with full-vacate orders, two gutted by the fire. The renovation of the

casual approach to the gas lines caused this tragedy, the tenants are now vigilantly watching to see if permits are filed, whether the Department of Buildings has given approval, if permits are posted, and to see that licensed workers do the work correctly before our gas is turned back on. A good number of the market-rate tenants in all of the buildings have done the necessary research to find out the rent histories of their apartments. Some have already discovered that their rents should be lower and that they should have the same protections as the rent-stabilized Hundred-year-old fallen plaster, paint and tenants. They are plandebris left in a tenant’s apartment, which was ning to file rent-overalso water-damaged by firefighters who battled charge complaints and deciding how or if they the massive blaze next door. want to take legal action most-damaged units won’t be fin- against the landlords. Now that city inspectors are in ished until the beginning of October. The installation of the new gas the picture, hopefully the rent-conpipes has not yet started. All tenants of 127 Second Ave. moved back within three weeks of the disaster. Some units on that building’s south side have some cracked walls and minor damage. But the cooking gas has been turned off and some of the residents are planning to withhold a portion of their rent until the it is restored. Everyone affected in these buildings was a victim — tenants, merchants and the landlords themselves. We all bonded as one and acted in unity in the days and early weeks after the disaster. But now some divisions are beginning to surface. Some of us had renter’s insurance and some did not. We have market-rate tenants, rent-stabilized tenants and some rent-controlled tenants. Many of the tenants are new to New York and the East Village, but many others are longtime East Village residents. Most of the tenants have always had good or at least uneventful relationships with their landlords and have either overlooked or accepted the lackadaisical and sluggish delivery of services. However, since this disaster — which almost blew the heads off of our shoulders — was allegedly caused by this casual and lax style of the landlords, the veil has now been ripped off. The tenants want transparency, and rules and procedures to be followed according to the law. Since a breezily

trolled and rent-stabilized apartments will get the needed repairs of the many violations that their occupants have been living with for years. Stephen Silva, a longtime rent-stabilized tenant at 41 E. Seventh St., said he has no choice but to return to his apartment, despite the catastrophe’s noxious fallout. “We do not have the option of not moving back in, as the market-rate tenants have,” he explained. “Many of us have financial constraints that would force us to live in ‘the death dust,’ if that is what it is, come what may.” It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out. Everything has been run in such a casual and folksy way for so long — laws ignored and with substandard conditions festering in some apartments for years, and the newer tenants hoodwinked into paying more than they legally should. Now that we and our many problems have been catapulted into the light of day, we hope that our elected officials, city agencies and our good neighbors won’t forget about us. We desperately need the help of others, just as we are now organizing to help ourselves.

Wing it, but don’t fling it!

Read t the Easr! Village May 14, 2015


Ukrainian fest will give 10 percent to fire victims BY YVONNE COLLERY


e sure to come to the 39th annual St. George Ukrainian Festival this coming weekend, on E. Seventh St between Second and Third Aves. You will see no socks or funnel cake sold at this fair. This unique and well-loved East Village festival will transport you to the enchanting world of Ukraine. You can feast on delicious homemade Ukrainian specialties, such as pierogi, bigos (hunter’s stew) and holubtsi (stuffed cabbage). A dizzying array of homemade sweets and pastries appear like magic throughout the three days. You can also buy beer from McSorley’s and Burp Castle. Veselka and other neighborhood restaurants have booths. Beautiful and colorful imported traditional handicrafts, jewelry and clothing, as well as music CDs, magazines and books from Ukraine are sold at locally sponsored tables. Spectacular Ukrainian dance and music is performed nonstop on the festival stage. This year, Yavir, a Ukrainian dance ensemble from To-

ronto, and Vatra, a band famous in Ukraine, are the featured acts. Many other fantastic acts, including children’s and youth dance groups, will also perform. Prepare to be delighted by the many adorable children dressed in splendid and colorful flower-adorned costumes. This has been a very dark and hard year for the tight-knit East Village Ukrainian community. After seeing the horrors of the invasion and bloodshed in their homeland, this community was also in the center of the recent epic disaster of the Second Ave. gas explosion. This partly occurred on the festival block where both the St. George Church and school are located. The Ukrainian community has nobly and generously decided to give 10 percent of all funds raised at the festival to the Mayor’s Fund for the victims of the Second Ave. disaster. There will also be tables fundraising for humanitarian aid for the widows, orphans and children of the fallen in Ukraine and to bring seriously injured soldiers from that war-torn country to the U.S. for needed medical treatment unavailable over there.

Among the entertainment at the Ukrainian Festival, kids in colorful costumes will sing and strut their stuff in traditional folk dances.

Please join our community for a much-needed weekend of fun and celebration! The festival is sponsored by and benefits St. George Church and St.

George Academy and runs from Fri., May 15, through Sun., May 17. Hours are Friday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.


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May 14, 2015

In Chinatown, trying to hold up vs. harassment BY GERARD FLYNN


onna Chiu is a housing attorney with Asian Americans for Equality, a nonprofit in Chinatown, and with more than 10 years on this beat, she has never seen a break in tenant harassment. Recently, residents from a five-story multiple dwelling at 211 Madison St. have been pouring into her office, located nearby on Division St., to get help. They say that their landlord, Silverstone Property Group, is trying to push them out of their rent-stabilized apartments so they can be converted into market-rate units, which command exorbitant prices in gentrifying Chinatown. The 20-unit building was constructed in the 1920s. Its current residents, Chinese immigrants, mostly speak limited English, making them much less likely to fare well in Housing Court. But that’s where their landlord has been taking them since taking control of the building last November. “A lot of owners are coming into Chinatown and the Lower East Side, where long-term tenants are,” Chiu said. “They know the tenants are afraid to speak out,” she said. “They don’t

know their rights. A lot of our residents are getting court papers and saying ‘Oh, my God. What am I gonna do? I don’t even speak English.’ ” Tenants are alleging that representatives from Silverstone, which declined to comment for this article, are banging on their doors and urging them to take buyouts. They say the landlord representatives are even suggesting that noncompliant tenants could face imprisonment, as they also refuse to make repairs and initiate baseless lawsuits in Housing Court. Not speaking English or knowing the ins and outs of Housing Court, Chiu said, places landlords at a significant advantage over the tenants. Housing Court papers in English might not be read by Chinese-speaking tenants, leading to a default judgment against them. “If they don’t know there is a default judgment against them and time lapses, the landlord can get a warrant of eviction,” she explained. “We have seen that happen.” Ted De Barbieri, an assistant law professor at Brooklyn Law School, recently remarked that “nowhere is the gap between rich and poor as stark as in New York City Housing Court.” Chiu noted that almost all land-

lords are represented by an attorney, while most tenants have little or no legal assistance. While tenants at 211 Madison St. have started to organize, they are terrified, Chiu said, about their prospects and insisted on speaking only anonymously to The Villager. One tenant described how many tenants are getting offers of a measly $16,000 to leave. Another told the newspaper that “the new landlord is not taking a downstairs tenant’s rent. Since January they have been returning her rent.” Another tenant is facing a Housing Court action because the landlord charges he is violating the terms of his lease by living elsewhere — a claim the resident vigorously denied. At another building, 43 Essex St., tenants are also alleging harassment, including ominous visits from the infamous Michel Pimienta, a “tenant relocator,” who is also in the pay of Samy Mahfar of SMA Equities. They recently sued their landlord. In October, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman slapped Pimienta with a $40,000 fine and made him agree to stop his relocation activities. Tenants say the owners of 43 Es-


sex St. are doing illegal construction that has compromised the building’s integrity and caused structural damage to apartments. There are gaping holes in ceilings and walls, they say, and one tenant reportedly can see through her bedroom floor into the apartment below. The owners have also allegedly used the building’s air shaft as a makeshift garbage chute, resulting in heaps of construction waste and black dust entering tenants’ apartments through windows and cracks in the walls. In addition, the apartments lack heat and hot water, forcing tenants to boil water for showers. Plus, the building also lacks gas; tenants must use portable gas stoves and purchase ready-made food. Offering hope had been a proposed Chinatown/Lower East Side Special District. But it was recently rejected by the Department of City Planning, under its chairperson, Carl Weisbrod. Without that bulwark, Chiu has a stark vision of Chinatown in 10 years time. “For sure, it’s going to be full of yuppies,” Chiu predicted, “a tourist destination, with pockets where you still see immigrants living in horrendous conditions. Even now, I hear that all the time in Chinatown.”

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Women lead push to turn twenties into ‘Tubmans’ Members of the City Council’s Women’s Caucus on Wednesday held a press conference on the City Hall steps to announce a resolution calling for the federal government to have a woman be the new face of the $20 bill. The councilmembers were joined by leaders of the fast-growing #WomenOn20s movement, as well as the leadership of the National Organization for Women – New York City (NOW-NYC). #WomenOn20s announced the results of their nationwide online vote to consider potential new faces of the $20 bill. More than 600,000 people voted over 10 weeks, ultimately choosing legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman, above, as the winner. The movement aims to have President Obama take Jackson, the nation’s seventh president, off the greenback, partly because “Old Hickory” distrusted the banking system and paper money, plus was a slave owner (like George Washington, whose face is on the dollar bill, and Thomas Jefferson, whose profile adorns the nickel) and passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR A pretty chilling message To The Editor: Re “Outspoken critic of Li’s leadership of C.B. 3 is booted from E.V. board” (news article, April 30): First, I have to express my anger and disgust that Ayo Harrington was not reappointed to Community Board 3, and I am not alone in my feelings. C.B. 3 might be a community board that people want to get on, but not a board people want to stay on. This year we had around a 20 percent

turnover. Nearly half of those members whose terms were up didn’t even reapply. What kind of a signal is it that people are appointed to fill seats but then won’t speak up? In Ayo Harrington, we had an eminently qualified member of this community, a hard worker with a track record of doing a lot of good, who was censured for speaking honestly about injustices she saw on this board. And because of what she chose to speak up about, she was not invited back? What message does this send to the rest of


The mayor’s huge budget leaves the police and libraries twisting in the wind! 16

May 14, 2015

us? A pretty chilling one, I would say. This country has a history of people speaking out against injustice: George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc. They may have offended people, but perhaps those people needed offending.   Anne Johnson Johnson is a member, Community Board 3

Dude, what are you doing? To The Editor: Has the Department of Parks and Recreation decided that the Tompkins Square basketball courts need to be upgraded for future mediaevent tournaments that do not serve our community? I know of no complaints about the current state of the basketball courts. The commerce in our neighborhood well serves young people with disposable income. But the basketball courts are one of the few amenities that serve all the local youth. This renovation will take several weeks during what would normally be the peak time of court use. What’s the purpose of this decision? Was the community board consulted? Rob Hollander

Our deepest fear and the lasting legacy of Etan RHYMES WITH CRAZY BY LENORE SKENAZY


s we settle in to the reality that we will probably never know what happened to Etan Patz after he disappeared that May morning in 1979, maybe we can finally come to terms with the legacy the crime left behind. The legacy of constant, crippling fear. I promise I won’t only be writing columns about helicopter parenting, but indulge me this one, because of the circumstances. You see, a reporter who called me for comment after the Patz trial ended in a hung jury asked me the question that I get asked, one way or another, all the time. Sometimes the question comes from parents trying to feel less anxious. Sometimes it is asked by the media, trying to stir that anxiety up. Either way, it is this: “What would you say to parents who are interested in letting their kids walk home from the park but are

too nervous that their child might be the next Etan?” Oh, so much. ... Parents afraid that their child might be the “next Etan” are understandably fearful, since we have been hearing about this case for 36 years. It is our New York catechism. We have been trained to reflexively picture the saddest possible fate — basically, Etan’s — before we let our kids do anything on their own. I call this “worst-first thinking” — thinking up the worstcase scenario first, and proceeding as if it is likely to happen. It is depressing. It is paralyzing. And it isn’t really keeping our kids any safer. Too see why, try this: Imagine if, 36 years ago, a child —

call him Frederick — had died falling down the stairs. It is a rare way to die, but it happens. Now imagine that Frederick’s case had received inordinate media attention. Article after article. Television story after television story. “Remembering Frederick” would be the headline on the cover of People magazine, and the name of a docudrama. But would it make sense for parents to feel heart-stopping fear every time their kids wanted to walk down the stairs? Of course not. One terrible, tragic case that happened when a child was doing something that is generally very safe and normal should not change the way we go about everyday life. Certainly not for 36 years. We would have to try to keep it in perspective. After all, since 1979, 120 million Americans have been 6 years old and not appeared on the cover of People, because nothing bad happened to them. That is a hard perspective to keep in our predator-obsessed society. But a couple of things help me. One is this: For my book, “Free-Range Kids,” I asked the British author Warwick Cairns to solve this problem for me: “How long would you have to leave a child outside, unattended, for it to be statistically likely that the child would be kidnapped by a stranger?”

This is sort of like asking, “How many lottery tickets would you have to buy to be statistically likely to win the jackpot?” He crunched the numbers and responded: It is 600,000 years. And after the first 100,000 years or so, your child isn’t technically a kid anymore. Another calming thought is that there has never been a safer time to be a child in America, and New York is particularly safe. Our city’s crime rate is actually below the national average. And if we’re talking murders (which we are), there were 328 homicides in our city last year — “the lowest number since at least 1963, when reliable statistics were first kept,” according to The New York Times. That means that walking to school, playing in the park, and waiting at the bus stop are safer for our kids than when we were kids and our parents let us go outside. So, we can live in fear of very rare, very random events that we can’t possibly predict in the course of everyday life. Or we can remember the best aphorism anyone ever sent to my blog: “All the worry in the world doesn’t prevent death. It prevents life.” Skenazy is a public speaker and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids”


Put on your dancing shoes (now try to dance!) Organizers and performers — one of them sporting some “fashionable” footwear — from the upcoming eighth annual DanceParade tapped and twirled their way around City Hall’s plaza on Monday to highlight the upcoming hoofing hootenanny. This year’s grand marshals are Robert Battle, choreographer and artist director of the Alvin Ailey American DanceTheater, and DJ Rekha, a pioneer of bhangra music in America. Also kicking it in this year’s parade will be a stilt-walking band from Bond Street Theatre, plus a group of 30 at-risk youth from The Door — at risk, that is, of having a great time once the parade steps off from Broadway and 21st St. on Sat., May 16, at 1 p.m.

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Counterculture as cure for New York’s ‘sugar coma’ Penny Arcade, on the slide from Apple to Cupcake BY TRAV S.D. (



ne of the strongest links bridging the contemporary Downtown arts world with its avant-garde heyday of the late 1960s is the continued presence of performance art legend Penny Arcade. She was still a teenager when she moved to New York and had the good fortune to be immediately embraced by John Vaccaro and his Playhouse of the Ridiculous, which led to working with Jackie Curtis at La MaMa, which led to the Andy Warhol-Paul Morrisey film “Women in Revolt” (1971), in which she shares the screen with Curtis and fellow drag legends Candy Darling and Holly Woodlawn. After this, she spent a decade in Europe, returning to New York just in time for the explosion in performance art just then getting under way. Through the ‘80s she worked with the likes of Jack Smith, Charles Ludlam and Quentin Crisp, and began to develop her first solo work. She was to become best known for her 1990 piece “Bitch! Dyke! Faghag! Whore!” which mixed elements of monologue, comedy improv and erotic dancing, and which she has toured all over the world. Now with 30 years of being a solo performance star under her belt, she is developing a new show called “Longing Lasts Longer” which is being presented at Joe’s Pub on four successive Mondays, beginning May18. It’s all about change and gentrification in the town Arcade refers to as “The Big Cupcake.” “It used to be the Big Apple,” she says, “and the apple has always represented the fruit of knowledge. But New York has changed in the past 20 years. It was the city that never sleeps. Now it’s the city that can’t wake up. It’s in a sugar coma. People are careening from one cupcake shot to another.” The “knowledge” she refers to is New York’s famously rich, vibrant, multi-ethnic culture which seems to be rapidly disappearing. “I’ve lived here almost 50 years. I watched people much older than me and now I’m much PENNY, continued on p. 20

May 14, 2015


‘Longing’ more call to action than look back in anger PENNY, continued from p. 19


May 14, 2015


older than a lot of people, and I see a world that I once knew becoming homogenized. The people who are coming here now are changing it. There has always been a deep resentment in the rest of American about how New York was different. Giuliani sold New York to the rest of America as the same, and so we’ve had all this free market capitalist destruction. Developers are destroyers. They’re not developing anything here, they’re destroyers. So I thought I needed to make a show with my point of view. I could express what I see happening.” “People say New York has ALWAYS changed,” she says, “but historically it had always brought the past with it. We are now into the first generation where that remarkable tapestry that has influenced the rest of country and the rest of world is being cut off. What the blacks brought, what the Italians brought, what the Chinese brought, the German beer halls, the beatnik coffee houses, the hippie head shops, all these different cultures. Each new generation had access to these things and internalized these histories and moved forward and now we are at the end of history and people are coming to New York not because they want to be like New York, but because they want New York to be like them. They hate history, but love ‘vintage.’ It used to be you would leave your hometown and give up comfort and come to New York for its urbanity. It was anonymous. You’d have a relationship with the city itself the streets. Now, it’s becoming suburban. Take walking down the street. People in New York used to have their own choreography. People bump into you now and have con-

Penny Arcade’s new work puts the onus on New Yorkers to remedy isolation and champion individualism.

versations at the top of the subway steps. They are not used to having to live with people.” “People keep talking about the problem of high rents. But there is gentrification of ideas as well as of buildings. The whole sense of community that characterized the counterculture has been eroded away. ‘Longing Lasts Longer ’ is a standing up for that. There is so much isolation now. The Internet is not fulfilling its promise the way the old community spirit of Downtown New York used to. It separates people more and more. It erases the sense of city space.” But at the same time, claims Arcade, New Yorkers (including its artists are allowing political correctness to stifle their famous individualism.

“Traditionally, New York people formed their own opinions. Most came from somewhere else because we needed to follow our own star. We don’t want to be told anything. We’re interested in your opinion as long as we can have our own opinion. The problem with political correctness is that it’s a consensus activity. Human beings are herd animals biologically. We need to be with other people. This can be acted out in two ways: being part of a crowd or being part of pack. The crowd operates by consensus: you have to agree with everyone in crowd. But a pack is a group of individuals, it operates by expansion. You don’t need to agree but you’re allowed to expand. You can’t have own opinion among people who traffic in political correctness. You have to agree. Political correctness hijacks the conversation.” This is a drum that Arcade has been beating for quite a while now: “My 2002 show ‘New York Values’ was about ‘the New York you miss’ or ‘the New York you missed.’ The person who reviewed it for Time Out New York was very annoyed by it. They claimed I was saying that anyone who’s not a starving artist is uncool. It’s never been that. Bohemianism has always been a set of values. It’s never been about being poor. It’s about what your values are.” “Longing Lasts Longer,” says Ar-

cade, “is not a swan song but more of a call to action. We need to restore our own personal authenticity. The only thing that is constant in our life is change,” she says, “and the thing that lasts longest is longing. Anyone of a certain age who complains of the way things are today is accused of nostalgia, but longing is different from nostalgia. It is a yearning not only for the past but who you were in the past. Longing attaches to our values, to our desire. It’s not tied to our time and place. We’re longing for the future. We’re living in a culture that’s so ageist that if you’re over 50 you’re really not allowed to have an opinion on the present. But I like that my whole 48 years of performing comes into play onstage. Art is one of the few things in life where you get better as you get older. The media keeps telling people that aging is some kind of failure, that the last 40 years of your life are inferior. People are buying into that. People in their early 30s, people are panicking. I want this show to be a vindication for people over 50, inspiration for people under 50.” “Longing Lasts Longer” is performed at 7 p.m. on May 18 and 25, June 1 and 8 at Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette St. btw. Astor Pl. and E. Fourth St.). For tickets ($20), visit For artist info, visit

Just Do Art




The Cast of “Little Wars,” one of five plays by Steven Carl McCasland in rep through May at the Clarion Theatre.

The Filipino-American troupe Kinding Sindaw will join dozens of other performers, playwrights and musicians at Theater for the New City’s free, family-friendly Lower East Side Festival (May 22–24).


THE LOWER EAST SIDE FESTIVAL STEVEN CARL McCASLAND: Although the milestone about to be achieved isn’t quite equal to what we Americans designate as legal FIVE PLAYS IN REP


The Empire State Building has it beat on height — but mere blocks away, an equally iconic (and just as sexy) structure straddles Fifth & Broadway, has a district named after it and played The Daily Bugle in several “Spider-Man” films. Now, New York’s only building shaped like an old school Monopoly piece gets the top billing it’s always deserved. “The Flatiron Hex” takes place in a parallel, post-plague, near-future city surrounded by a toxic swamp and threatened by ghosts, elemental spirits and evil demigods. Created by 2014 Jim Henson Award recipient James Godwin, “Hex” uses puppets, masks and noirish visuals to tell the story of contract sorcerer Wylie Walker, who must decode an enigmatic document in order to channel the Flatiron building’s occult power and to save NYORG from an impending Super Storm. May 15–30, Fri. & Sat. at 7:30 p.m. At Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St. btw. Rivington & Delancey). For tickets ($16 in advance, $12 at the door and for students/ seniors), call 866-811-4111 or visit

drinking age, there’s nothing sober about the lineup for year #20 of the Lower East Side Festival. This totally free, family-friendly, somewhat subversive and “slightly anarchistic throwback to carnivals and festivals of old” is so jam-paced with art, theater, acrobatics, dance, film, and music that it takes every last drop of Memorial Day weekend to soak it all in. Nearly 100 performers will be seen on the various stages at Theater for the New City, as well as at a block party outside the theater on the festival’s final day. It won’t cost you a dime to see Penny Arcade, F. Murray Abraham, Hotsy Totsy Burlesque host Cherry Pitz, Tony-winning actress Tammy Grimes, and dancers from Latin, American Indian, Asian, and disabled/abled ensembles — plus far too many other comedians, playwrights, and musicians to mention. Bonus activity: dozens of Lower East Side artists will have their work displayed in the lobby. Free. Fri., May 22, 6 p.m.–1 a.m. Sat., May 23, noon– midnight. Sun., May 24, 4 p.m.–midnight. At Theater for the New City (155 First Ave. at 10th St.). For full performance schedule, visit

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James Godwin pulls the strings, as creator and performer of “The Flatiron Hex.”

With biting words and intriguing speculation by Steven Carl McCasland, a cast of 25 brings some of history’s most intriguing and conflicted characters to life. “Little Wars” finds tensions running high — and not just because war is coming to 1940 France. An imaginary gathering of Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker, Gertrude Stein, Agatha Christie, Alice B. Toklas and Muriel Gardiner finds the formidable group drinking, baring their souls and scoffing at their demons. This remounting of “Wars” is being presented in repertory with four other works by McCasland. “What Was Lost” follows stage actress Laurette Taylor (1883-1946), sober for the first time in a decade and attempting a return to the boards as Amanda Wingfield in Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.” Featuring arias by Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Strauss, “Der Kanarienvogel [The Canary]” explores the love affair between legendary soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Reich Minister Joseph Goebbels. JUST DO ART, continued on p.23

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he New Museum’s Triennial signifies the only recurring international exhibition in New York City devoted to early-career artists from around the world. Besides providing an important platform for an emergent generation of contemporary art-



Eva Kotátková: “Not How People Move But What Moves Them” (2013, various mediums).

From the New York-based artist collective, DIS: “The Island (KEN)” (2015).

social and psychological effects of digital technology. The increasing tension between the newfound freedoms and threats of today’s society marks the core of their contemplation. The artists here explore a culture replete with impressions of life, be they visual, written, or construed through data. They present a world in which most of us move through streams of chatter, swipe past pic-

ists, it embodies the institution’s 37-year commitment to exploring the future of culture through the art of today. This year ’s edition, which is organized by curator Lauren Cornell and notorious video artist Ryan Trecartin, features 51 artists and collectives from over 25 countries. While incredibly varied, the Triennial reflects the curator ’s overall passion for probing the

tures of other people’s lives, and begin to frame our own experiences in digital format. Through May 24 at the New Museum (235 Bowery btw. Rivington & Stanton Sts.). Hours: Tues.–Wed. & Fri.–Sun., 11 a.m.–6 p.m.; Thurs., 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Admission: $16 ($14 seniors, $10 students). Free admission every Thurs. from 7–9 p.m. Call 212219-1222. Visit



L & R, Installation images from the New Museum’s 2015 Triennial: “Surround Audience.”


May 14, 2015

Just Do Art JUST DO ART, continued from p. 21


Inspired by the 1994 case of Susan Smith (who drowned her sons in a lake, then claimed the vehicle they were strapped into was carjacked). “Neat & Tidy” focuses on the desperation behind a murderous act and its aftershocks. The Kennedy’s Hyannis Port compound is the setting for “28 Marchant Avenue,” which takes place over the course of five summers and concerns family skeletons (with a focus on the lobotomy of Rose Marie Kennedy). Through May, at The Clarion Theatre (309 E. 26th St. btw. First & Second Aves.) Tickets are $18 per play, $75 for the five-play package). For reservations and more info, visit

This year’s Dance Parade New York will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the civil rights legislation embodied in the Americans with Disabilities Act.



The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum will host week of activities and interactive displays, to coincide with the 27th Annual Fleet Week (May 20–May 26) — America’s premier tribute and “thank you” to the men and women who serve in the armed forces. The celebration kicks off on Wed., May 20, as Naval and Coast Guard ships with men and women manning the rails sail up the Hudson River into New York City, traveling past Intrepid’s Pier 86 before docking at Pier 92. Four U.S. Naval Academy Yard Patrol boats will dock at the Intrepid Museum’s Pier 86. They will be open for free public tours until 5 p.m. Throughout the day, live demonstrations, scavenger hunts and a family aviation gallery walk will be presented by Intrepid Museum educators, and Fleet Week themed Tour Guide Talks will take place on the hangar deck (these activities also take place on other days throughout Fleet Week). On Fri., May 22, the Intrepid kicks off its Summer Movie Series with the most appropriate film possible, given the screening’s flight deck setting: “Top Gun.” Scott D. Altman — a former NASA astronaut who, in 1986 was a young Navy F-14 pilot serving as the flying double for Maverick (Tom Cruise) — will introduce the film. This event is free. Lawn chairs, picnic baskets and blankets are permitted (and highly recommended). Doors open at 7 p.m. and the film begins at sunset, weather permitting.

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum celebrates Fleet Week, May 20–26.

Space is limited. Seating is on a first come, first served basis, and there is no admission after 8:30 p.m. On Sat., May 23 at 12:30 p.m., meet pilots Scott D. Altman, Ron Garan and Greg C. Johnson at a panel discussion moderated by their friend and former NASA colleague Mike Massimino, now Senior Advisor, Space Programs at Intrepid and Professor, Mechanical Engineering Department, Columbia University. This program is free with museum admission. Throughout the day on Sat. and Sun., Pier 86 will host displays and hands-on activities from NASA, the Office of Naval Research, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, the American Legion and the American Red Cross. Four U.S. Na-

val Academy Yard Patrol boats will be open for free public tours. Live demonstrations, scavenger hunts and a family aviation gallery walk will be presented by Intrepid Museum educators, and free Fleet Week themed Tour Guide Talks will take place on the hangar deck. On Memorial Day, Mon. May 25, an 11 a.m. ceremony honors the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the United States

Armed Forces. All activities take place at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and on Pier 86 (46th St. & 12th Ave.). Events on the pier are free and open to the public. Events in the Museum are free with Museum admission. For Fleet Week info, visit For Museum info, visit Regular Museum Hours: Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sat./Sun., 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Admission: $24 ($20 for students/ seniors; $19 for youth 7-17; $17 for veterans; $12 for children 3-6; and free for active military, retired military and children under 3).


Everybody dance now! There are plenty of colorful and coordinated troupes on display in the street — but sidewalk spectators are just invested in the hip-shaking action, when Dance Parade New York snakes its way down Broadway, through Union Square, past the Grandstand on Eighth St. and University Place, all the way to five stages in Tompkins Square Park. On a moveable mission to inspire dance through the celebration of diversity, over 10,000 dancers will showcase dozens of dance styles — making this event the world’s largest display of cultural diversity. The Grand Marshals are choreographer/dancer Carmen de Lavallade and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director Robert Battle, as well as Dancing Wheels founder Verdi-Fletcher and DJ Rekha (pioneers of Indian bhangra dance in North America). This year’s Dance Parade will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the civil rights legislation embodied in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Verdi-Fletcher, whose physically integrated troupe was the first professional company in the U.S. to bring the talents of dancers with and without disabilities to the stage, will lead the parade while dancing in her wheelchair. The Ninth Annual Parade and Festival will kick off on 21st St. & Broadway at 1 p.m. on Sat., May 16th. Visit for details.

May 14, 2015



Reaching for the‘liquid sky’ in Washington Square Park The “Bubble Lady” is really “blowing up” lately. She has kids in the park going bananas for her supersized sudsy creations.

Spider and Foxy work it on the Lower East Side PET SET BY LINCOLN ANDERSON



May 14, 2015


.E.S. documentarian Clayton Patterson and his wife, artist Elsa Rensaa, usually wear black, so their two schipperkes are perfectly color-coordinated with them. Schipperkes (pronounced “skip-per-kee”) are originally from Belgium. “Schipperkes are working dogs,” Patterson noted. “They used to keep the rats off houseboats.” “They’re both rescue dogs, so they’re a little bit nuts,” he added. They got them from a schipperke rescue society. They got Spider, a male who is 13 or 14, first, then Foxy, a female who is 12, a bit later. Spider is named after tattoo artist Spider Webb. Foxy’s namesake is the pet fox that the late eccentric Australian artist Vali Myers had when she lived in Italy. Spider tends to be a bit “suspicious,” while Foxy is more “upbeat,” Patterson said. “They both like to have people sitting down, so there’s no movement,” he noted. “Visitors put them out.” As for why they adopted schipperkes, Rensaa had one when she was a kid growing up in Canada.

“I have to pick up Foxy whenever I’m sitting down,” said Rensaa. “They make a lot of noise when someone is at the door. They also associate the phone with the door because we don’t have a doorbell. When someone comes by, they must call first — so, phone...door... dog barking.” They have a black-and-white cat, Mickey, too, also a rescue. Rensaa was sitting on a stoop when a woman came by with a box marked “Animal Control.” Rensaa saw the box move and asked what was inside. The woman explained she was giving the cat to Animal Control, and Rensaa took it.   When Foxy and Spider are near and Spider Mickey, it’s “a standoff.” Before their current dogs, they had another schipperke, Dick. He was named after Dick Le May, a friend of Patterson’s that he grew up with who was a machinist. “A funny story, Dick was always attracted to and loved black men with dreadlocks,” Patterson recalled. “Elsa would be walking down the street with Dick and all of a sudden a black guy with dreads would be there — and Dick would pull himself over to be petted by that person. His first owner must have been a black guy with dreadlocks. The first owner must have been very good to him.”

Clayton Patterson and Foxy, left, and Elsa Rensaa at their Essex St. home.

The breed is known for its intelligence and ability to respond to myriad commands — handy when aboard a working barge. Foxy and Spider, unfortunately, don’t share that trait. “No, they’re f------ dumb,” Patterson said. “We got them when they were a bit older, so we didn’t train them.” They don’t even fetch. “Kvetching, maybe,” Patterson said. “Fetching, no.”

LOST DATA? DON’T PANIC. Taking a trick shot at Tompkins Square Park.

No joke: Dude Perfect pledges ‘perfect court’


n Monday, YouTube and the Parks Department announced plans to renovate the basketball courts in Tompkins Square Park to create the “perfect court” with help from YouTube stars Dude Perfect. During Monday’s event, the Dude Perfect guys were on hand to shoot hoops with their fans and community members. Dude Perfect, who recently topped 5 million subscribers, are best known for their trick shots and comedy videos. The renovations will include resurfacing the basketball courts entirely with new concrete, new hoops and new paint. The revamped courts will reopen at the end of June. “Tompkins Square Park is one of New York’s best-loved green spaces, and the basketball courts have played host to generation of players,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver. “NYC Parks is grateful to Dude Perfect and YouTube for their generous effort to give the East Village a refurbished place to shoot hoops this summer.” Gale Brewer, Manhattan borough president, said, “I’m proud to

work with YouTube and Google as a whole, a tech industry leader that takes its role in our community seriously.” Adam Relis, head of YouTube Space New York, said “For myself and the rest of the 4,500 employees at Google and YouTube here in New York, this too is our neighborhood,” he said. “On behalf of them and our YouTube stars here, Dude Perfect, we’re renovating this important community space.” Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006. Dude Perfect’s members include Coby and Cory Cotton, Garrett Hilbert, Cody Jones and Tyler Toney, all former high school basketball players and college roommates at Texas A&M University. They have worked with sports celebrities from around the world, as well as charities, including Charity Water. Hilbert said, “We at Dude Perfect believe in the importance of having fun with those in your community — that is how we all come together! We hope this new court will encourage people to get outside, get some exercise, shoot some hoops and make every day game day.”

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May 14, 2015

Astronaut takes students on a journey into space BY TEQUILA MINSKY



ouston, do you copy?” You’re in the space command center, practically expecting to hear something along these lines. But, where are you? You’re on Henry and Montgomery Sts. on the Lower East Side, and once you’ve walked through the doors at the end of the ground-floor corridor of the Corlears Complex of three middle schools, you’ve entered another world. You’re in the NYC Center for Space Science Education, which has a mission control center, an “airlock” and a facsimile spacecraft. High school-certified earth science educators staff the program of the Challenger Learning Center, but more on that later. On Fri., April 17, middle school students at 220 Henry St. filled their auditorium to hear special guest Captain Chris Cassidy, a NASA deputy chief astronaut. Cassidy participated in two space missions: the first, in 2009, on the space shuttle Endeavor, followed in 2013 by a longer five-and-half month mission on the International Space Station. Cassidy gave the students the quick version of how he became an astronaut: He grew up in Maine, joined the Navy, became a Navy Seal and was asked to apply to the astronaut-training program. “Half the current astronauts are from the military,” he said, adding that the others are educators, doctors and scientists, pilots and nonpilots alike. Cassidy showed a video of his participation in the two missions, with fascinating images of floating weightless, doing physical exercises and rehydrating dried foods. “Sixty percent of our time, we were doing experiments,” he noted during the video. On the International Space Station, 25 percent of the time was devoted to maintenance and repair. During free time, they would enjoy gazing back at the Earth. “We love to be in the window, like a tank turret, watching the oceans, bodies of water, rivers on Earth. We were traveling five miles a second,” he said. (That’s equal to more than 17,000 miles per hour.) After his presentation, Cassidy generously answered questions, the first bunch prepared by the students. How about problems in space? he was asked. There was a serious malfunction on a colleague’s spacesuit during a space walk, he recalled, but it worked out. Did you get sick? When you first arrive, he said, there is a time of ac-

NASA’s Captain Chris Cassidy told students at the Center for Space Science Education about his experiences in outer space.

Students can man posts at the command center.

Captain Cassidy pulled some middle-school students into his orbit after his presentation.

climation. What do you do when you get bored? You don’t get bored, Cassidy said. How did your parents feel? Excited when he first joined NASA, then a little emotional as the time to blast off into space drew near. How do you contact your family? Call on the phone, videoconference once a week. How about going to the bathroom? You have to aim into a bag. They asked about relations with the Russians. “They have a space program and we cooperate,” the astronaut explained, admitting that sometimes things can get sensitive. He also told The Villager that part of his work, as an astronaut, is to participate in education programs like this one. Usually, private organizations, such as, in this case, Positively Speaking, pay the expenses for the outreach programs. After the presentation, Cassidy toured the L.E.S. space education center. During the school year, the center is open for student field trips. It also has an after-school program and summer camp sessions. When classes visit on a field trip, they meet the “mission commander” and are given an overview of their objective and assignments. The class divides. Some are located in mission control; the others pass through an airlock into the spacecraft. At the nine-year-old NYC Center for Space Science Education, students can take simulated missions into space or learn how airplanes fly in the NASA education lab. Classes come for one two-hour program, or a full-day, combining two programs. The lab is equipped with flight simulators, a wind tunnel, model airplanes and specialized software. Curriculum studies include variables in aeronautics, forces and motion, and the effects or weather. Yes, we’re talking physics here. The space mission program for grades four through high school focuses on comets; for grades seven through high school, a Mars mission is included. High school teachers know how hard it can be sometimes to get students enthused, but the center’s programs break through that apathy. “We take kids to space,” said Zohar Ris, the center’s instructor. “That’s the joy of doing this. They’re in another world.” He remembers hearing one high school student saying as he left, “This is the best field trip ever.” May 14, 2015





Proudly serving the neighborhood for over 39 years, the Union Square Partnership is the leading advocate for the Union Square-14th Street community, working collaboratively with area residents, businesses and cultural and academic institutions to ensure the district’s continued growth and success. Our mission is to enhance the neighborhood’s quality-of-life by creating a safer, cleaner and more enjoyable environment. 28

May 14, 2015