The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
May 14, 2015 • $1.00 Volume 84 • Number 50
Chelsea parks, Village library loo are big winners in participatory budgeting BY ZACH WILLIAMS
n the end, slightly more than 500 votes was sufficient for local improvement projects to receive funding through the participatory budgeting process. Councilmember Corey Johnson announced the results from the April 11-19
vote on Sat., May 9, at the inaugural West Side Summit, held at Civic Hall, at 156 Fifth Ave. at W. 20th St. The event featured an hour’s worth of remarks from local elected officials on issues pertaining to City Council District 3 — one of 24 Council districts that held participatory budP.B. VOTE, continued on p. 14
BY TINA BENITEZ-EVES
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. 2ND AVE., continued on p. 28
PHOTO BY MILO HESS
Stage restaurant sues landlord as residents fight for gas and repairs
Here’s looking at you...head. This oversized wooden sculpture that recently appeared in Tribeca Park was getting some looks, and giving some back.
Pols, law profs, Sierra Club back N.Y.U. plan antis’ suit BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
he Sierra Club, a bipartisan group of 23 New York State legislators, 27 law professors from across the U.S. and others recently filed amicus briefs to stop the New York University expansion plan, protect parkland and uphold the Public Trust Doctrine. Many of the organizations and individuals are not from New York and got on board because the court case will have national ramifications,
especially for so-called implied parkland everywhere. A total of five amicus briefs have been filed in support of the petitioners in the case — Glick v. Harvey — which is to be heard by the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, on Tues., June 2. The case has been wending its way through the court system since it was filed in September of 2012. Attorney Randy Mastro, a partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, which has represented the petitioners on a
pro-bono basis, said, “We are extremely gratified to have such a broad, diverse coalition of parties coming forward to support our appeal, to safeguard the Public Trust Doctrine, and to protect one of our most precious resources — our public parks.” The amici, or “friends,” who have filed briefs in support of the lawsuit include a bipartisan coalition of five state senators, including Brad Hoylman, Dan SquadN.Y.U., continued on p. 10
Friends remember Judith Malina...................page 6 Printing House workers go on strike.............page 13 Cops shoot, catch hammer attacker...............page 16 When Baltimore burned................page 8
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May 14, 2015
From left, Tim Wu, Chuck Schumer, Shantel Walker and Zephyr Teachout at the V.I.D. annual gala
ical clubs in New York City and the first in Greenwich 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 alternative, 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.”
LOTS O’ MATZO DOUGH: Bowery Boogie reports that Streit’s Matzo officially unloaded its historic SCOOPY’S, continued on p. 3
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PHOTO BY ZELLA JONES
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 polit-
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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 Ma-
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.
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
90-year-old factory on Rivington St. for a hefty $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!
jority Leader Dean Skelos is seen as 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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No closure as Etan case ends in mistrial Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association Editorials, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Best Column, First Place, 2012 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011 Spot News Coverage, First Place, 2010 Coverage of Environment, First Place, 2009
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May 14, 2015
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
fter 18 days of deliberations, and with the jury in the Etan Patz for the third time saying they could not reach a unanimous verdict, the judge last Friday declared a mistrial. It had been one of the longest jury deliberations in recent memory in New York City. Pedro Hernandez, 54, had been on trial since January, accused of kidnapping and murdering the 6-yearold boy in a Soho bodega’s basement in 1979. The jury twice had previously told the judge — State Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley — that they were deadlocked and could not reach a verdict. Twice he told them to keep trying. However, last Friday, after they had sent their third message to the judge saying they were hopelessly deadlocked, Wiley announced, “I think at this point, I would have to call the deliberations at an end and dismiss them.” The jury reportedly, at one point, was evenly split 6-6, but the numbers went through several swings. Toward the end, there were two holdouts, then, finally, one — with 11 members wanting to convict and one member unconvinced by the testimony that Hernandez was guilty. In a front-page headline on Sunday, the Daily News dubbed the lone holdout, Adam Sirois, “One Angry Man,” riffing on the famous courtroom movie “12 Angry Men.” After the trial, however, Stanley Patz, Etan’s father, said he felt Hernandez did it. He called for a retrial. “This man did it. He said it,” he said. “How many times does a man have to confess before someone believes him? It’s not a hallucination.” Some jurors were quoted saying that Sorois was bullying and sometimes flew off the handle. However, Harvey Fishbein, Hernandez’s lead defense attorney, said, from what he could tell, the holdout juror’s approach was completely “rational.” Fishbein told The Villager, “The comments posted in reaction to the [news] articles regarding [Sorois’s] position and/or the jury deliberations appear to strongly support him and for good reason. Based on the articles, it appears his approach to the deliberations and his evaluation of the evidence was rational and pursuant to the judge’s instructions. It is not the job of a juror to convict but rather to determine if the evidence proves his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If not, the verdict should be not guilty.” According to a source, a decision on whether there will be a retrial will be made by June 10. Etan Patz went missing on the first
ligence and other mental problems, and so is highly suggestible, and that the confession was coerced. As the trial was winding down, the jurors, among other things, asked about whether interviews at New Jersey police departments must be taped and whether a defendant can be convicted on his words alone. Jose Ramos, long the primary suspect in Etan’s disappearance, is currently in jail in Pennsylvania for failing to register an address under Megan’s Law after his release from prison on child-molestation charges. Ramos was reportedly the boyfriend of the Patzes’ babysitter. Ira Blutreich, The Villager’s cartoonist — whose wife, Iris, used to have a puppet-making A missing-child poster from 1979 for Etan Patz studio in Soho back in the that was shown to Pedro Hernandez by police 1970s — previously told during his first confession, in Camden, N.J., the newspaper that Ramos in 2012. At one point during the confession, was known as a homeless Hernandez wrote on the poster that he was sorry drifter who rambled around he had choked Patz. Soho late at night wearing a Mexican blanket and a cap day that his mother, Julie Patz, had festooned with buttons and pins and allowed him to walk alone the short accompanied by a large dog. distance to the school-bus stop to P.S. The defense brought Ramos to New 3. He would have walked from their York City for Hernandez’s trial, but home on Prince St. just west of Greene he refused to testify, citing his Fifth St. two blocks west to West Broadway. Amendment right not to incriminate Julie Patz testified that Etan had $1 himself. in his hand and was planning to buy a Before the Hernandez trial, Stansoda with it at the bodega. Hernandez, ley Patz always had felt Ramos was in his confession, claimed he lured the guilty. Each year, on the anniversaries boy into the store’s basement with the of Etan’s birthday and disappearance, promise of a free soda. he would send Ramos a copy of Etan’s There is no physical evidence in the missing-child poster, with “What did case. Etan’s body was never found. you do to my little boy?” written on Neither were his pilot’s cap and a tote the back. bag filled with toy cars, his lunch and Cy Vance, Jr., the Manhattan district pencils. attorney, had campaigned for election Hernandez claimed, in confessions on a promise that he would reopen the to police, that, after strangling the boy, long-unsolved case. he put him — still alive — inside a Following the mistrial, Vance issued bag and sealed it and then inside a ba- a statement, in which he reasserted his nana box. He said he then dumped the belief that Hernandez murdered Etan. body in an alley on Thompson St. — a “We believe there is clear and corblock from the bodega at West Broad- roborated evidence of the defendant’s way and Prince St., where he was then guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” working. Vance said. “The challenges in this In 2012, renewed focus was brought case were exacerbated by the passage to the infamous cold case when, based of time, but they should not, and did on a tip, the F.B.I. searched a basement not, deter us.” at Prince and Wooster Sts. looking for The D.A. added, “I would like to evidence, but found nothing. How- thank the Patz family for the courage ever, a brother-in-law subsequently and determination they have shown tipped off authorities that Hernandez, over the past 36 years, and particularly then living in New Jersey, had previ- throughout this trial. The legacy they ously spoken of killing a boy to family have built in the four decades since and church-group members. this tragedy occurred, both in raising The former bodega worker was ar- awareness about the plight of missing rested, and after a lengthy interroga- children and through the creation of tion, confessed to police in Camden, laws to protect them, has made our N.J. But, during the trial, his defense city, and our society, safer for chilteam countered that he has low intel- dren.” TheVillager.com
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May 14, 2015
Living Theatre lives on in those Malina touched BY ALBERT AMATEAU
May 14, 2015
PHOTOS COURTESY DANIELA MARSHALL
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 Improvise.’ 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.
Judith Malina performing “Six Public Acts” in Amiens, France in 1978.
“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. 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? From left, Julian Beck, Judith Malina and Tom Walker performing It is alive and thriving, said in Barcelona in 1977. Garrick Beck, who makes his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, New York for several years, living at Avenue B but frequently visits New York. Although true to the Beautiful Non-Violent and Sixth St. “I got involved in the neighborhood, the AveAnarchist Revolution ethos of Judith and Julian, the Living Theatre is now a little more structured nue B Garden, Children’s Liberation Preschool,” than before. Garrick Beck is president and board he said Beck expects the Living Theatre to be a collabchairperson, Brad Burgess is artistic director, and Tom Walker, the most senior member of the Liv- orative exercise. In the near future, the Living Theatre will be in ing Theatre, is chief archivist. “Until I was about 14, I thought everybody was the street with three performances of “No Place an artist — a painter, an actor, a dancer. They to Hide” in front of the New Museum on Bowery might have jobs, but their life was pursuing their at Stanton St. on Sat., May 30. Members of the company will also take part art,” said Garrick, who was born on the Upper West Side in 1949. “Julian was a painter and his in the Lower East Side Festival at Theater for the New City, at First Ave. at E. 10th St., on Fri., May friends were painters — Expressionists.” 22. And in June, the Boo Hooray Gallery, at 265 What was it like in such a household? “Well, they let me stay up as late as I liked,” he Canal St., will present an exhibit of the Living recalled. “The first productions were in our living Theatre and Judith Malina. In the fall, at a time and place to be announced, room.” He went to college out West and returned to there will be a memorial for Malina. TheVillager.com
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PHOTOS BY BYRON SMITH
A pair of Baltimore residents found themselves confronted by a line of riot police during the unrest after Freddie Gray’s death.
Baltimore burned with rage after Gray’s killing After Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Baltimore resident, died on April 19 from a severed spinal cord suffered a week earlier following his arrest by police, protests and rioting rocked the Mid-Atlantic city. A number of buildings, including a large CVS store, and more than 100 cars were torched in several neighborhoods. The National Guard was called in, and New Jersey and Pennsylvania also sent police. A curfew was imposed and the public was barred from Baltimore Orioles baseball games. Gray’s was the latest in a string of deaths of unarmed black men while being arrested or in police custody which have fueled the Black Lives Matter movement.
On Tues., Aug. 29, a youth tried to restrain a girl who had been involved in a minor scuffle that had been broken up around the corner from where police were holding a line.
May 14, 2015
Connor Wolf, a reporter from the Daily Caller, received aid from fellow reporters after he was slugged in the face by a rioter on the first night of the violence in Baltimore. TheVillager.com
Firefighters battled blazes in residential buildings during the rioting.
A phalanx of Baltimore police, sporting plexiglas shields, leg guards and extra-long clubs, held a line on the streets during the turmoil.
On Mon., April 26, protesters faced off with police after the 10 p.m. curfew during the second day of riots following Grayâ€™s funeral. TheVillager.com
Protesters rejoiced on Fri., May 1, hours after charges were brought against six Baltimore police officers in Grayâ€™s death. May 14, 2015
Pols, law profs, Sierra Club back N.Y.U. antis N.Y.U., continued from p. 1
May 14, 2015
FILE PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
ron, Liz Krueger and Bill Perkins, and 18 assemblymembers; plus the Sierra Club — the pre-eminent national parks advocacy organization, with more than 2 million members and supporters, 40,000 of whom live in New York State — New York Civic, an organization dedicated to transparency and fairness of government conduct, led by the city’s longest-serving Parks Department commissioner, Henry Stern; a group of several dozen law professors who are experts in the Public Trust Doctrine; the Village’s LaGuardia Corner Gardens, Inc., and other community and neighborhood organizations. The final outcome of the lawsuit, which passed through two lower courts with differing results, could have massive ramifications for the way that the city and the state deal with public parks in the future. The legislators’ amicus brief argues that the City Council’s decision in 2012 to authorize N.Y.U. to use public parkland for development violated the Public Trust Doctrine, and that the state Legislature is the only entity that can legally make such an authorization. At stake in N.Y.U.’s proposed development plan are four parks — two children’s playgrounds, a communal garden and a dog run — on LaGuardia Place and Mercer St. between W. Third and Houston Sts. that have been continuously used for recreation for decades. The full N.Y.U. plan would add nearly 2 million square feet of space in four new buildings on the two superblocks. On Oct. 14 of last year the Appellate Division’s First Department overturned Justice Donna Mills’s January 2014 decision that would have spared three of the park strips — Mercer Playground, LaGuardia Park and LaGuardia Corner Gardens — from destruction under the university’s expansion plan. According to the lower court’s ruling, all three strips have been used as public parks for many years, making them “implied” parkland, with the city funding, labeling and maintaining them as parks. Alan Gerson, a member of Sierra Club N.Y.C.’s Group Executive Committee said, “This decision is not only about the four parks at issue here. The permissible destruction of these parks in New York City will open the door to the destruction of parks and open spaces throughout not only New York State, but the country.” Daniel E. Estrin, who teaches law at Pace University, was one of 26 law professors who signed onto their own amicus brief. “City parkland is a vital, nonrenew-
Last September, BAMRA (Bleecker Area Merchants’ and Residents’ Association), Community Board 2 and LMNO(P) co-sponsored a Kids’ Learn To Ride afternoon at Mercer Playground — one of the parkland strips at risk under N.Y.U.’s planned mega-development project. With instruction provided by Bike New York, 31 local children, ages 5 to 12, from the West Village to the East Village had the chance to ride a bike for the first time or hone their balancing and pedaling skills. Another Learn To Ride afternoon is planned in the playground for Sat., May 30, from noon to 2 p.m.
able resource with enormous tangible, and intangible, health benefits to communities,” Estrin said. “In congested urban environments like Lower Manhattan, the need to preserve every remaining inch of recreational space is even more paramount. For the citizens that have grown to depend on them, these small public spaces are their Central Park, their Prospect Park, and they deserve protection just as do those crown jewels of the city park system.” Daniel M. Sullivan, counsel for New York Civic, said, “Parks can’t be taken from the public without a vote by state legislators. A decision against the Greenwich Village residents would upend more than 100 years of precedent that has protected our public spaces, including those the public has used as parks without their being formally designated as such.” State Senator Hoylman said, “The law is clear that N.Y.U. should have sought the approval of the New York State Legislature for the alienation of this public parkland. But the only thing the university ended up alienating was the goodwill of the Greenwich Village community. I’m proud to stand with Assemblymember Deborah Glick and my colleagues in the Senate and Assembly on this important point of state legislative prerogative, which exists to help thwart hasty local governmental decisions, such as the very kind in this case that would result in the destruction of our pre-
cious public parks.” Added Squadron, “In our state, public parkland cannot be alienated without approval by the New York state Legislature — a doctrine we urge the court to recognize in this case.” Glick is one of the petitioners on the lawsuit. “For many years, park alienation legislation has come to the Legislature from communities all over the state, including New York City,” Glick said. “The desire to assist a powerful private institution should not obviate the normal processes of government.” The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation is also a petitioner in the lawsuit. “There’s a lot on the line here, not just for the Village, but for all of New York City,” said Andrew Berman, the society’s executive director. “The question is can our own government violate the law and give away public land to powerful and well-connected institutions, or will the modest protections we have for public space and resources be allowed to stand? Every New Yorker has a stake in ensuring that the Court of Appeals upholds Justice Mills’s ruling and does not allow the N.Y.U. plan to proceed.” Another one of the Assembly amici, Jeffrey Dinowitz, who represents Riverdale, recalled the battle over building the massive Croton water-filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park, which is in his district. “When New York City insisted it
could build in Van Cortlandt Park without first coming to the Legislature, we proved them wrong,” he said. “Likewise, N.Y.U. should not be able to build without the Legislature authorizing park alienation.” Signers of the legislators’ amicus brief include state Senators Hoylman, Squadron, Krueger, Perkins and Gustavo Rivera, along with Assemblymembers Dinowitz, Keith Wright, Daniel O’Donnell, Harry Bronson, Ellen Jaffee, Kevin Cahill, Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Victor Pichardo, Barbara Lifton, William Colton, Catherine Nolan, Steve Englebright, Steven Otis, Michelle Schimel, Jo Anne Simon, Fred W. Thiele, Jr., Andrew P. Raia and Chad Lupinacci. Naturally, N.Y.U.’s response to the flood of amicus briefs was not friendly. In a statement, university spokesperson John Beckman said, “A reversal of the Appellate Division’s decision would confront not only New York City but town and city governments throughout the state with a dilemma: Give up much-cherished temporary uses of municipal land — such as community gardens or recreational use of empty lots — or give up using the land in the future for other important municipal needs, like low-income housing or building healthcare facilities. Governments will logically choose the former, and the ironic result is that instead of preserving green space, as the opponents claim, New York will end up with fewer green spaces. By way of example: The majority of spaces managed by the city’s Parks Department are not parkland, and an adverse ruling would compel the city to have to rethink those uses. “And there’s another irony,” Beckman added, “the opponents’ position on what it takes for land to be deemed implied parkland — a de minimis standard of people simply thinking it is a park — actually circumvents and undermines the established democratic processes our city has established for deciding land use. City property would become parkland with no City Council votes, no ULURP reviews, no public comments and no hearings.” Beckman noted that N.Y.U. has some amici, too, namely, amicus briefs in support of the university and the city in their legal fight for the mega-development plan, including the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials, the Association of Towns of the State of New York, the City of Rochester, the City of Syracuse, as well as New Yorkers for Parks, the Greater Hospital Association, the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, the Association for Neighborhood Housing Development, and the New York Housing Conference, among others. TheVillager.com
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Printing House staff strike after doorman fired BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
orkers at the Printing House luxury condo building went on strike Wednesday after a leader in their ongoing struggle to form a union was abruptly canned by management. Arturo Vergara, a doorman for 15 years at the tony residence, at Hudson and Leroy Sts. was fired on Thurs., April 30. Two days earlier, he had done something he and other staffers had frequently done in the past: He had another worker cover his shift. The night doorman, Vergara has two young children who he takes care of in the morning, and sometimes, after only getting four hours of sleep every night, he finds himself running late to work — just like most people do. However, he was given no warning afterward, but was simply summarily fired. “I think it’s retaliation,” he told The Villager. “They saw the two or three leaders of the campaign. We just want a decent wage — but also representation, so that this kind of thing can’t happen. At the end of the day, we’re at the mercy of the employer.” He has had no complaints against him in all his years at the building.
Printing House workers picketed on Wednesday and rallied for fired doorman Arturo Vergara.
Vergara said threats have been made to other workers that they’ll “be next” to be fired.
The building staff are employed by a contractor, Planned Companies. They want to join 32BJ, the union for
doormen and porters. Planned Companies is a subcontractor of AKAM. A man who answered the phone at AKAM on Wednesday, when asked about Vergara’s firing, said, “I actually have no comment. This is a nonunion building,” before hanging up. The building’s eight other workers, joined by Vergara, went on strike Wednesday and picketed in front of the building. “My job has been threatened a lot. Everybody’s job is threatened,” said doorman Wendell Campbell. “Planned Companies is not treating us right at all.” A large portion of the building’s residents support the union effort and want Vergara reinstated. One hung a “Bring Arturo Back” banner outside his window on Hudson St. “Arturo epitomizes the best in somebody you would want to work with or work for you,” said Frank Nervo, a unit owner. “For 15 years, Arturo has always been reliable and professional.” The workers have filed unfair labor practices over Planned Companies’ threats and the firing. They say they are ready to keep fighting until they get the respect they deserve.
May 14, 2015
Parks, restrooms, pedestrian safety win funding P.B. VOTE, continued from p. 1
PHOTO BY ZACH WILLIAMS
geting this year. A keynote address on the makings of an ideal neighborhood came from Margaret Newman, executive director of the Municipal Art Society of New York. “There are certain buildings, parks, intersections that bring meaning to our neighborhoods that provide tangible and intangible benefits,” Newman said. “One working definition is that a successful place is one which attracts a diverse set of users, helps spark social, cultural and economic enterprise and contributes to a sense of community and global citizenship.” About 2,500 residents of at least 14 years of age cast votes in the participatory budgeting process — about 10 percent of the turnout for the last City Council election. Nonetheless, Johnson stuck an upbeat tone as he announced the projects that will receive funding of about $1.1 million through his office’s discretionary budget upon approval of the city budget in early summer. The big winner was an effort to create a park at 136 W. 20th St. (between Sixth and Seventh Aves.), which received 1,342 votes — nearly 600 votes more than its closest competitor. The funds will pay for the demolition of a Department of Sanitation building there, as well as environmental cleanup of the site. City records indicate that the city still owns the building: Sanitation vacated the property and relinquished it to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services in March 2013. But it will be difficult to predict just how much more money it will take to realize the community’s hope of establishing a public space there. It’s been a dream already five years in the making. According to Parks, additional funding hasn’t yet been identified for the project. Creating a new park requires a three-part process: design, procurement and construction. A project becomes official when it has secured full funding and has a designer assigned, according to Parks. Local resident Pamela Wolff was nonetheless pleased that the proposal prevailed in voting, even though the effort’s ultimate success remains to be determined. She noted that this current project is progressing faster than the three-decade-long effort to create another prominent local park. “This is five years, which is not long given how long it took to get Chelsea Waterside Park to get off the ground,” she said.
pilot-project raised pedestrian crosswalk at W. 45th St. and Ninth Ave. ($250,000 — 532 votes). A vote indicates that a proposal received at least one out of the five allowed preferences among the 17 items on the ballot. Teenager Liam Buckley was one of the “delegates” who backed one of the competing proposals during the months of preparation before the voting. He said he put in roughly 25 hours of work toward the cause, including attending meetings with Johnson’s staff, as well as LAB School community members. The proposal to get money for a new public address system for the school fell short. But a concerted effort to rally support through the P.T.A. and among students “flushed out” the vote for the Councilmember Corey Johnson announced the winners of the bathroom idea, though city funding District 3 participatory budgeting vote. will ultimately come through another channel. An $85,000 idea to create an interactive garden for Cooperation among residents and politicians, as local children about ethnobotany and native fauna demonstrated through the participatory budgeting at Chelsea Waterside Park (at 11th Ave. between W. process, gets to the heart of how the democratic pro22nd and W. 24th Sts.) received the second-highest cess plays out on the West Side, according to state vote tally, 748 votes. Senator Brad Hoylman. The call of nature, however, was what ultimately “It’s back to the fundamentals of what makes us determined the extent to which multiple projects democrats, and I don’t mean capital ‘D’ Democrats could receive funding. but small ‘d’ democracy,” he said. “Because we Bathrooms for Jefferson Market Library in the have seen in our system of government where peoWest Village (648 votes) and restroom improve- ple want to make decisions without consulting the ments at the LAB School in Chelsea (594 votes) each people who they are supposedly representing.” had a $500,000 price tag. Johnson said before the Hoylman took a swipe at Republican legislators voting that there was a chance that his office would in Albany for inaction on climate change. City fund projects beyond the intended $1 million al- Comptroller Scott Stringer highlighted his support lotted to each district for participatory budgeting. for a $15 minimum wage. Congressmember Jerrold These two projects, however, came in at third and Nadler, meanwhile, spoke about the need to overfourth place, making the top four projects require come congressional opposition to ongoing negotianearly $1.3 million in funding. tions over Iran’s nuclear program. The Trans-Pacific However, three more projects became eligible Partnership economic agreement must be stopped for funding through participatory budgeting after from getting “fast track” support, he added. the city’s School Construction Authority agreed to Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal took praising pay for the new bathrooms at the LAB School, ac- Johnson to a new level, following the three other cording to Johnson. The beneficiaries of that devel- elected officials, who already had given quite a few opment were sidewalk repairs on W. 26th St. at the compliments to the freshman councilmember. Chelsea-Elliot Houses ($50,000 — 578 votes), library She praised Johnson for the full six minutes she modernization at P.S. 3 ($35,000 — 533 votes) and a spoke. Indeed, their cats are friends, she said.
Aixa Torres honored as a ‘Woman of Distinction’
tate Senator Daniel Squadron selected Aixa Torres as one of New York’s “Women of Distinction,” honoring her last week at the annual state Senate celebration recognizing outstanding women throughout the state. “Aixa has proven time and time again — as president of the Smith Houses Residents Association, the Department of Education’s Lower East Side Family Advocate and a dedicated mother and grandmother — that she is a woman of distinction in our community,” Squadron said. “Her passion and resolve inspire others every day, and her contributions to the Lower East Side continue to have a big impact on the community.” Torres was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, and moved with her parents and sisters to New York City in 1955. She attended public schools and grad-
May 14, 2015
State Senator Daniel Squadron, second from left, with Aixa Torres, far left, and family at the State Senate on May 5.
uated from CUNY and Lincoln University. She married the late George Carmona, Jr. in 1971, and had two children, George III and Liza Noemi. For more than 50 years, Torres has lived on the Lower East Side, where she still lives with her daughter and grandchildren, Mia N. Daniel and Elijah M. Daniel. She retired from the Department of Education in 2014 as the Lower East Side’s family advocate. Torres became Smith Houses president in 2010. She led the evacuation of hundreds of residents ahead of Hurricane Irene and advocated effectively for her community after Superstorm Sandy. She worked with Squadron to fully repair the Lower East Side housing complex’s old, faulty gas pipes that sometimes forced residents to go without cooking gas for weeks or months at a time. TheVillager.com
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POLICE BLOTTER 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.
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 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.
May 14, 2015
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.
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 from the premises, at which point he allegedly said he would get a gun, come back and start shooting. On top of that, he then allegedly dialed 911 and told emergency services that there was a fire at the bar. Firefighters responded to the scene and found no flames. Walker was later arrested and charged with making a false report of an incident, a felony.
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.
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
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.
Quoth the Raven: Busted Two twentysomething women noticed on Sat., May 2, that their property was in the hands of two teenagers inside the Raven lounge, at 55 Gansevoort St. Security personnel subsequently confronted the two 17-year-olds. Once police arrived, they found that the two suspects were in possession of items beyond the wallet, cell phone and credit cards that the first two victims said were taken from them. A search of the perpetrators possessions revealed three iPhones, keys, cash, identification cards, Converse shoes and other items belonging to a total of four female patrons. The loot had a cumulative value of about $4,500, police said. The two minors were charged with felony grand larceny.
Holy church fight, Batman! Words led to blows in the doorway of St. John’s Lutheran Church on Fri., May 8. Police said four men were arguing in front of the 81 Christopher St. church at about 4:30 p.m. when Lauren Calderon, 22, and Manuel Nunez, 18, allegedly attacked the other two men. One man, 29, suffered a lacerated lip, while a church employee, 30, got cut on his neck. The two assailants then reportedly broke a wooden bench belonging to the church, as well as other property. The alleged attackers were arrested and charged with felony criminal mischief. They both had open warrants for unspecified charges, according to a police report.
Zach Williams and Lincoln Anderson TheVillager.com
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Keith on walls, arms, feet At the opening of the Whitney Museum of American Art in the Meatpacking District on May 1, Keith Haring art was in evidence. Yes, of course, in the museum’s exhibition, “America Is Hard To See,” but also on people waiting in line to get in. As the photographer was getting a shot of one Whitneygoer’s Haring tattoo, another guy on line kicked up his sneaker heels to show pink babies, one of the artist’s signature motifs.
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The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce & The Villager Support
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l i V t s a eE
ess n i s u b age l l i V t s Ea last e b t i e r h o t v y r fa ed b u t o c y e ff p a o Sh hose t t r o p p and su
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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
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 Dude, what are you doing? To The Editor: Re “No joke: Dude Perfect pledges ‘perfect court’ ” (news article, May 7): 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
Robbing the local economy To The Editor: Re “Tax credit gets an ‘F’ on church-state separation” (talking point, Deborah Glick, May 7): Religious organizations already receive more tax breaks than they deserve — doubly so for the mega-churches. Businesses giving tax-credited money to religious schools robs the local economy of taxable income. And to double the damage done, the religious organizations spend the money, and again taxes are not paid. Rodney Hinds
Keep religion out of it
The mayor’s huge budget leaves the police and libraries twisting in the wind! 20
May 14, 2015
To The Editor: Re “Tax credit gets an ‘F’ on church-state separation” (talking point, Deborah Glick, May 7): “Tax benefits” are public funds — funds that are required to be paid by the taxpayer, for public services. The government handles taxation. Separation of church and state means that tax benefits cannot be — however they arrive there — granted to religious organizations. You dress it up and dress it up, and call it this LETTERS, continued on p. 22 TheVillager.com
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”
PHOTOS BY MILO HESS
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. TheVillager.com
May 14, 2015
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR LETTERS, continued from p. 20
or call it that, but it remains the same — an end-around, accomplishing the same goal. You could have one middleman, or 20, but you are taking money from the state or federal treasury, and causing it to be used for religious purposes. Patrick Shields
Needs wider exposure To The Editor: Re “Long-lost Hitchcock Holocaust film to show at Jewish museum” (news article, May 7): Will this be available via PBS in the near future? Will this be available as a DVD? Frank W. Towers
To heck with hierarchs To The Editor: Re “The long goodbye is over for
old Lithuanian church in Hudson Square” (news article, April 30): It is a crying shame that ethnic monuments are in the hands of hierarchs who are ready to sell them and destroy them for money. The federal, state and city statutes for monument preservation are defective. The parishioners put up a valiant fight, but were abandoned by America’s and Lithuania’s hierarchs. They were supported by sedevacantists and their spiritual leaders. This is a lesson for tomorrow to build ethnic Catholic churches free from Roman Catholic hierarchy. Saulius Simoliunas
Disabled get screwed To The Editor: Able-bodied Westbeth artists leave the building through the main entrance at 55 Bethune St. and down four steps to the sidewalk. The mobility impaired who can’t maneuver the steps come and go through
READY, SET, SUBSCRIBE!
the entrance on 744 Washington St., designated by the Department of Transportation as the official place for pickup and drop-off by accessible vehicles. It also has an indoor waiting area with chairs. Sometime ago, the board of directors, in violation of city law, narrowed the already narrow Washington St. sidewalk to an illegal 3-foot width — not wide enough for maneuvering a wheelchair — when scaffolding posts were placed directly on the sidewalk. In June 2014 the board’s executive director announced that the scaffolding was improper and would be replaced by October 2014 with a wider, legal one. In December, not only had it not been replaced, it was extended, and a violation was issued by D.O.T and the Department of Buildings. Last week the board, with unthinkable arrogance, and the tacit approval of D.O.T. and D.O.B., had the Washington St. sidewalk lined with concrete barriers, banning assessable vehicles from the pickup zone, and instructed Access-a-Ride passengers to wait on the corner of Bethune St. or Bank St. instead. The mobility-impaired who cannot navigate the scaffolding posts or the stairs are now forced to take the following route:
leave the elevator, go through the mailroom, up a ramp with no rail or platform, through a glassed-in foyer, into the inner courtyard, through the underpass, down a too-steep ramp, across the broken surface of the outer courtyard, turn left at Bank St., and go half a block to Washington St., and wait on the corner of Bank St. or Bethune St. for their ride — rain or shine. Last week, a screwdriver fell eight floors from the scaffolding to the corner of Washington and Bethune Sts., nearly missing an artist in a wheelchair and another passerby. Nevertheless, this potentially dangerous situation, the board tells us, will continue until the end of the summer. To quote Clint Eastwood: “Are you feeling lucky?” Margie Rubin Rubin is a member, Disabled in Action E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to email@example.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.
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Ron English’s new mural on the famed “graffiti wall” at E. Houston St. and the Bowery is titled “AllAmerican Temper Tot.” The parody advertisement highlights Post Golden Crisps cereal’s exceedingly high sugar content. Indeed, in 2008, a Consumer Reports nutritional study of 27 cereals, found the puffed-wheat breakfast fare to be one of the two cereals with the highest sugar content — more than 50 percent by weight. No wonder kids are becoming “temper tots” — if not heading down the road to obesity and eventual diabetes — after gobbling all that glucose. TheVillager.com
Counterculture as cure for New York’s ‘sugar coma’ Penny Arcade, on the slide from Apple to Cupcake BY TRAV S.D. (travsd.wordpress.com)
PHOTO BY STEVEN MENENDEZ
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. 24
May 14, 2015
‘Longing’ more call to action than look back in anger PENNY, continued from p. 23
May 14, 2015
PHOTO BY JASMINE HIRST
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 publictheater.org. For artist info, visit pennyarcade.tv.
Just Do Art
PHOTO BY JIM MOORE
COURTESY THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY
PHOTO BY SAMANTHA MERCADO-TUDDA
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).
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
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 FLATIRON HEX
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 dixonplace.org.
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 theaterforthenewcity.net.
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.27
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May 14, 2015
BUHMANN ON ART
2015 TRIENNIAL: SURROUND AUDIENCE
BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN (stephaniebuhmann.com)
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-
PHOTO BY HEJI SHIN, COURTESY THE ARTISTS
COURTESY NEW MUSEUM, NEW YORK (PHOTO BY BENOIT PAILLEY)
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 newmuseum.org.
COURTESY NEW MUSEUM, NEW YORK (PHOTO BY BENOIT PAILLEY)
COURTESY NEW MUSEUM, NEW YORK (PHOTO BY BENOIT PAILLEY)
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. 25
PHOTO BY LEONARD ROSMARIN
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 BeautifulSoup.Showclix.com.
This year’s Dance Parade New York will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the civil rights legislation embodied in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
FLEET WEEK at THE INTREPID SEA, AIR & SPACE MUSEUM
COURTESY THE INTREPID SEA, AIR & SPACE MUSEUM
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 fleetweeknewyork.com. For Museum info, visit intrepidmuseum.org. 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).
DANCE PARADE NEW YORK
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 danceparade.org for details.
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 vi-
olation, 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.”
A water-shred moment for identity protection
kateboarders and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles do it, and so should folks trying to prevent identify theft. That was the message — minus the skateboarders and T.M.N.T. — at a recent community-shredding event in front of the Morton Williams supermarket, at Bleecker St. and LaGuardia Place. The shred-fest was sponsored by the Bleecker Area Merchants’ and Residents’ Association, Washington Square Village Tenants Association and 505 LaGuardia Place, along with Sixth Precinct police. Using a special shredding truck, close to 100 peo-
ple obliterated their sensitive documents at no cost — freeing up space in their apartments. They could also register their electronics, so they could be tracked and returned if stolen. Terri Cude, first vice chairperson of Community Board 2 and a BAMRA member, led the shred-apalooza. She also brought people waiting on line for the “shred-mobile” to arrive water, chips and cookies at the supermarket “to keep everyone hydrated and happy!” “I so love running events like this that are win/wins,” Cude said, “help neighbors, solve problems and fun!” At the shredding event, from left, Nora Beyrent, Judith Callet and Jean-Luc Callet, all of BAMRA; Community Affairs Officer Martin Baranski and Auxiliary Officer Alexander Lois, of the Sixth Precinct; Ray Cline, of BAMRA; Crime Prevention Officer Robert Jackson of the Sixth Precinct, and event organizer Terri Cude.
May 14, 2015
After fire, return has been slow, but revealing BY YVONNE COLLERY
PHOTO BY YVONNE COLLERY
even weeks have gone by since the March 26 gas explosion, and the moving-back process has been slow, painfully slow, sloth-climbing-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
Hundred-year-old fallen plaster, paint and debris left in a tenant’s apartment, which was also water-damaged by firefighters who battled the massive blaze next door.
are still three units with full-vacate orders, two gutted by the fire. The renovation of the most-damaged units won’t be finished until the beginning of October. The installation of the new gas pipes 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 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 tenants. They are planning to file rent-overcharge complaints and deciding how or if they want to take legal action against the landlords. Now that city inspectors are in the picture, hopefully the rent-controlled 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.
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 Among the entertainment at the Ukrainian Festival, kids in colorful cos- will transport you to the enchanting world of Ukraine. You can feast tumes will sing and strut their stuff in traditional folk dances. TheVillager.com
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 imFESTIVAL, continued on p. 35 May 14, 2015
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
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
PHOTO BY DAN LEVIN
.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.”
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May 14, 2015
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May 14, 2015
Student sailing program really floats their boat BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
udson River Community Sailing kicked off its season with its Return to the River event at Pier 66 in the Chelsea section of Hudson River Park on Sat., May 2. It was a day of workshops, the launch of 9-foot-long wooden boats built by students in the year-round youth program and solo sails. There was the boat blessing before the launch, in which students in the ninth-grade Sail Academy program participated in the millennia-old tradition of blessing the vessels before the craft were smashed with ceremonial bottles of water. There was food and music along with nautical activities, like knot tying, on the pier
throughout the celebration. Each year, Hudson River Community Sailing’s Youth Development Program partners with eight Chelsea public high schools to offer academic credit to 120 underserved students by teaching math, science and character as the students build their own boats during the winter and then sail them in season. It’s a free, four-year program. “What we look forward to most at this event is seeing our talented students launch and sail the boats they created by hand this winter,” said Robert Burke, HRCS executive director. “Through HRCS, these students are learning valuable lessons in teamwork, self-reliance, persistence and other qualities necessary for college and career success.”
Chelsea students returned to the river — with the boats they built — on May 2.
At the intersection of sitting, noshing, info, art
uth Wittenberg Triangle reopened last week as the Village Alliance business improvement district installed tables and chairs at the once-underutilized public plaza. The BID also opened its Village Information Kiosk, featuring neighborhood, city and transit maps, plus information on local businesses. In addition, the city’s Department of Transportation will be implementing several pedestrian-safety enhancements at the intersection of Sixth and Greenwich Aves. and Eighth and Ninth Sts. to shorten crossings and make them more visible to vehicles. Safety improvements will also be made along all of Eighth St., with landscaped pedestrian refTheVillager.com
uges and bicycle parking, signal-timing changes and high-visibility striping and lane channels. Later this summer, D.O.T. will expand the triangle to allow for more seating and landscaping and a more-welcoming environment. As if that wasn’t enough, emerging artist John Schriner installed his site-specific work “In Flux” on the triangle. Collaborating with Scribble Art Workshop, the Village Alliance commissioned the temporary art to enliven the triangle in the two months before D.O.T. reconstructs it. “In Flux” is described as “an installation of six unique ‘sculptural paintings’ whose organic forms emerge from the soil and coil upward in an abstract contrapposto.”
People can now munch a lunch, sit and relax or chat with a friend on Ruth Wittgenstein Triangle. At right and left are two parts of John Schriner’s “In Flux” art installation. May 14, 2015
May 14, 2015
G.V.L.L. Pioneers are blazing their own trail SPORTS BY JAYSON CAMACHO
n May 2, the Greenwich Village Little League Pioneers faced the West Side Dragons at James J. Walker Park. The Pioneers are one of the two teams that make up G.V.L.L.’s softball Juniors Division. Their head coach is Andy Hort. Andy manages three teams in G.V.L.L. — two softball teams and one baseball team — and has been coaching softball for the past five years. He has three children, and all of them play in the league. One is in the baseball Minors, another is in softball tee-ball and his daughter Persy is on the softball Juniors Pioneers. “We’re a young team,” Andy said of the Pioneers. “These girls show amazing camaraderie toward each other. They love each and support each other. “I was thinking about the difference between boys and girls,” he reflected. “When a boy strikes out, he hangs his head and sits on the bench. When a girl strikes out, every girl puts their arms around her. They are just so much more supportive of each other and what teams really should be like. And they have so much fun together.”
Pioneers players proudly took the field at Pier 40 at this year’s G.V.L.L. Opening Day parade.
The Pioneers players have all been together as a team for the past five years, having started together in teeball. Next year, the whole team is going to move up to the Seniors Division, even though they have nine players who could stay in the Juniors Division. That shows how much these girls care for each other and want to stick together. Andy’s daughter Persephone a.k.a. Persy is a pitcher and is one of the team’s key players. She’s an eighth grader at Leman Manhattan Prepa-
ratory School in Tribeca. She’s been playing softball for five years, since she was 9 years old. As for why he enrolled his daughter in softball, Andy said, “I want to empower my daughter. I want her believing she can do what she wants. Everything I have seen, read and heard tells me the organized girls sports are more important to girls than boys.” Persy was the starting pitcher for the Pioneers against the Dragons. The G.V.L.L. team took the field first,
and Persy came out throwing heat! She struck out the side in the first inning...and again in the second. As the Pioneers took their turn at the plate in the first inning, Lucy hit a leadoff triple and eventually stole home to put the Pioneers up 1-0. Grace hit an R.B.I. infield single with the bases loaded to stake the Pioneers to a 2-0 lead at the end of the first. Persy stayed on fire throughout the game, striking out 14 batters and allowing no hits! She threw her first-ever no-hitter, leading the Pioneers to a 5-0 win. Asked how she felt after her stellar performance, she quipped, “It hurts... In all seriousness, it feels really good because I just came off of an injury.” Her dad said, “While I’m proud of Persy, I’m also very proud of the entire team. We hit well, we ran the bases well and we fielded well. I’m very thrilled for Persy on the accomplishment!” The Pioneers have already made tons of improvement from last season. They are 3-0 so far this year, surpassing their win total of one last season. Andy is proud of this group of girls for their hard work and dedication to playing for the team. Their game versus the Dragons was a great one to watch. The Pioneers have five more games left this season and I recommended that you go check them out!
Ukrainian fest will give 10 percent to fire victims FESTIVAL, continued from p. 29
ported 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 Toronto, 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 TheVillager.com
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. 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.
The G.V.L.L. Pioneers, top row, from left, Coach Raul Ramirez, Ava Spiner, Lucy Stone, Manager Andy Hort, Brett Zakheim, Grace Rocker, Mika Simoncelli, Liz Gellert, Talia Kirshenbaum and Head Coach Matt Stone; bottom row, from left, Persy Hort, Fraya Salzman, Izzy Stern, Ruby Gary, Luisa Ramirez and Sophia Wilson.
May 14, 2015
THIS IS BIG NEWS FOR THE SMALLEST NEW YORKERS.
OUR KiDS EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT IS NOW OPEN TO SERVE THE CHILDREN OF NEW YORK. Children get sick, children have accidents. The good news is that NYU Langone has opened the KiDS ED to provide urgent medical attention in ways only children and parents can appreciate. It’s a kids-only treatment facility. In fact, the only adults you’ll find here are some of the world’s best pediatric doctors and nurses, all specially trained to have a delicate understanding of how to treat children of all ages. To learn more, visit nyulangone.org/KiDSED.
May 14, 2015
MAY 14, 2015 THE VILLAGER