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The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933

May 21, 2015 • $1.00 Volume 84 • Number 51

Police ID a suspect in vicious Dallas BBQ gay bashing in Chelsea BY PAUL SCHINDLER

P

olice have identified the suspect sought in connection with an assault on two gay men at the Dallas BBQ in Chelsea on May 5. According to multiple media reports, the man named by police is Bayna El-Amin,

41, who has a lengthy rap sheet. He was previously arrested a total of 18 times — including for assault, shoplifting, drug possession, credit-card fraud, forgery and possession of stolen property — in New Jersey, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Michigan, as well ASSAULT, continued on p. 6

BY LISSA PHILLIPS

I

t’s 1999. A line of about 1,000 concertgoers snakes clear across Avenue A. The rumor is the Beastie Boys will be performing at a benefit show at the East Village’s renowned rock club Brownies, known at the time for uncovering the music scene’s budding artists.

Brownies’ music booker Mike Stuto emerges outside to deliver disappointing news to anxious fans — the group’s anticipated arrival just as quickly became a departure. “This apparently happened twice,” Stuto recalled of the Beastie buzz. “Once it might have actually happened, except the word got HIFI, continued on p. 24

PHOTO BY MILO HESS

Once Brownies, HiFi Bar tunes into the ‘new vibe’

Glitter danced onto and around the face of a woman as she got ready for the DanceParade and Festival last Saturday. See photos, Pages 8 and 9.

Parents get their first look at 75 Morton middle school BY SARA HENDRICKSON

A

t a public meeting on Mon., May 11, at the L.G.B.T. Center to “unveil” the Village’s new middle school at 75 Morton St., the crowd of 150 people had a few anxious questions, but most of all, the mood was gleeful celebration that the school would finally open its doors in fall 2017. The 75 Morton success story of community activism is well known by now. It’s been a 10-year slog by parents and

community leaders to pressure city and state officials to provide a desperately needed middle school in the Village. The tireless group identified the Morton St. building — which was partially occupied by a state agency that was being relocated — and convinced local politicians to champion the cause. David Gruber, former chairperson of Community Board 2, offered glowing opening remarks. “Our challenge was to get the building out of the state’s

grip and to land the plane,” he said. “Mission accomplished.” City Councilmember Corey Johnson, who represents District 3, applauded the efforts of Assemblymember Deborah Glick and state Senator Brad Hoylman in pushing for the school, noting it was “bittersweet that they are fighting the good fight in Albany and cannot be present tonight.” Johnson pushed hard for NEW SCHOOL, continued on p. 28

Indian Point nuke fears flare again................page 12 Dirt Candy — worth the cheddah?.................page 14 V.I.D. petitions for small biz bill.......................page 17 A Souk-cessful reopening...........page 13

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RS of SERVING 50 Y E A THE

fast scene for Uma Thurman’s 2009 film “Motherhood,” plus, even made it into the trailer. This is just one reason why Thurman is one of our favorite actresses. Now, we hear from a “product placement coordinator” that the plan is to use The Villager in the new indie film “Wolves,” starring Amy Ryan, Michael Shannon and Taylor John Smith. The movie, most of which, like “Motherhood,” takes place in the West Village, begins shooting June 19. The main character is Anthony Keller, 18, a.k.a. “Saint,” a high school basketball star “who does his best to live up to his name.” But he faces big challenges. Mainly, his family life is a mess because his troubled dad has a gambling addiction. Anyway, the plan is to show The Villager with some sports articles (fictitious, obviously) about young Keller’s exploits on the court. Again, we are hoping it makes the cut for the trailer.

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LET’S DO LUNCH: Former Downtown arts icon Lydia Lunch spoke about No Wave and the Lower East Side in the 1970s on Sun., May 17, at the new Howl! Happening gallery on E. First Street. Joining her in a panel discussion were Bob Bert, the ex-Sonic Youth drummer; Bibbe Hansen, ex-Warhol Superstar and alt musician Beck’s mom; cultural critic Carlo McCormick and Transgressive filmmaker Kembra Pfahler, with moderator Weasel Walter, who plays with Lunch in the reunited Jesus and the Jerks. An exhibit on Lunch’s career, “So Real It Hurts,” featuring posters, photos, vintage magazines, vinyl 45s, and more, is on view through June 5.

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“It’s worth the trip down the street!”

Anthony Edwards perused The Villager in “Motherhood” — not giving Uma Thurman his full attention!

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! It looks like The Villager is going to have yet another movie cameo. The paper’s front page was notably featured in the break-

I N THE

HEART OF

CORRECTION: An article in last week’s issue, “Pols, law profs, Sierra Club back N.Y.U. plan antis’ suit,” incorrectly stated that LaGuardia Corner Gardens was one of the groups that had filed an amicus brief on behalf of the community plaintiffs’ lawsuit against the N.Y.U. 2031 mega-project slated for the South Village superblocks. In fact, LaGuardia Corner Gardens is one of the petitioners in the lawsuit.

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69 MacDougal St. (Bet. Bleeker & Houston St.) 212-673-0390 • 212-674-0320 Open Mon. - Sat. 12-11pm • www.villamosconi.com

PHOTOS BY PATRICK O’REILLY

Lydia Lunch, who now lives in Barcelona, is back visiting the ’hood.

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May 21, 2015

Bibbe Hansen was on the panel of art luminaries. TheVillager.com


Cafe Pick Me Up’s cup runs dry at Ave. A corner BY TINA BENITEZ-EVES

F

PHOTO BY PATRICK J. EVES

or 20 years, Cafe Pick Me Up has anchored the corner of E. Ninth St. and Avenue A. It started out as a coffeehouse back in 1995 and, a decade later, had grown into a full-service restaurant. But it will all come to an end in less than two weeks. The restaurant will close its doors for good on Sun., May 31, following a reported rent hike by landlord Icon Realty Management. Cafe Pick Me Up fills adjoining spaces in two different buildings with separate leases. Last April, Icon Realty purchased 145 Avenue A, which houses the larger, cafe section of the restaurant, for $10.1 million from previous owner Bethany Realty. Cafe Pick Me Up’s kitchen and additional seating are located in a narrower space on the ground floor of 147 Avenue A, owned by 9300 Realty. By the end of the month, the main cafe section of Cafe Pick Me Up, on the corner, will close. The fate of the cafe’s smaller space, in No. 147, is still unknown. For years, Cafe Pick Me Up has been a respite for locals in need of caffeine or a momentary work or people-watching post. Serving up mostly

The new landlord is seeking a new tenant for the larger part of the Cafe Pick Me Up space.

java and pastries, Cafe Pick Me Up also offered a medium-sized menu of favorites, from nizzarda, caprese and other salads, gnocchi al pomodoro and more under the cafe’s pasta selections, soups, sandwiches and breakfast dishes, such as farm-fresh eggs and potatoes or the restaurant’s tofu scramble. Like a restaurant constructed from thrift shop finds, Cafe Pick Me Up’s interior sports wobbly wooden tables and chairs, velvet-upholstered banquette and ottoman seating, antique gas lanterns and a sprinkling of kitschy wall art. The restaurant cultivated and retained its artsy coffee bar

feel throughout the years. Now, the popular corner hangout is on the market. Icon is currently listing the 600-square-foot space, which also includes a 724-square-foot basement, for $15,000 a month. The Villager was unable to reach the restaurant’s management, but one employee shared the owners’ sentiment on the restaurant’s closing. “It’s terrible,” said Connor Peterson, who was worked there for a year and been a Cafe Pick Me Up patron for more than five years. “What they are asking for is ridiculous,” he said of the rent hike. But Joe Goldsmith, a lawyer for Icon

Realty, said Cafe Pick Me Up’s rent was never raised and that the restaurant was having difficulty paying its rent under the previous landlord. “This was their decision,” said Goldsmith. “They decided to leave. [Icon] would have worked out a renewal with them, but they weren’t interested.” Luckily for regulars who need their morning pick-me-up, the cafe will reportedly live on in some form down the street at Gnocco, on E. 10th St. near Avenue B, which is also run by Cafe Pick Me Up’s owners. The cafe part of the restaurant will reportedly continue serving breakfast at this nearby Italian eatery. Along E. Ninth St., near Cafe Pick Me Up, other retail spaces are also on the market, including the former Cloak & Dagger location, at 441 E. Ninth St., and 445 E. Ninth St., which used to house Bridal Veil Falls, a wedding-accessories shop that recently closed after 10 years in business. Both retail spaces are also owned by Icon. “I guess that’s what Manhattan is now,” Peterson said. “It’s about ruining businesses and pushing people out. I don’t believe in it. I don’t believe in raising the rent in a place like this where people are already struggling.”

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Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association Editorials, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Best Column, First Place, 2012 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011 Spot News Coverage, First Place, 2010 Coverage of Environment, First Place, 2009

PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN

EDITOR IN CHIEF LINCOLN ANDERSON

ARTS EDITOR

SCOTT STIFFLER

CONTRIBUTORS

ART DIRECTOR

PHOTOS BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL

ALBERT AMATEAU IRA BLUTREICH SARAH FERGUSON TEQUILA MINSKY CLAYTON PATTERSON JEFFERSON SIEGEL ZACH WILLIAMS SHARON WOOLUMS

A marcher with the “Holy Grail” of reforms that tenants seek.

MICHAEL SHIREY

GRAPHIC DESIGNERS ANDREW GOOS CHRIS ORTIZ

WEB MASTER TROY MASTERS

EXECUTIVE VP OF ADVERTISING AMANDA TARLEY

All marching to one tune: Rent freeze! Hundreds of tenant activists gathered in Foley Square Downtown last Thursday to call for strengthening the rent laws that affect 1 million rent-regulated tenants in the city. Following the rally, they all marched across the Brooklyn Bridge. Last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio called for a rent freeze, but the Rent Guidelines Board voted for increases of 1 percent on one-year lease renewals and 2.75 percent for two-year lease renewals. Although hopes for a rent rollback (as in, an actual rent decrease) for rent-regulated tenants have faded, advocates are again calling for a rent freeze when the R.G.B. makes its final vote next month.

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES JACK AGLIATA ALLISON GREAKER JENNIFER HOLLAND JIM STEELE JULIO TUMBACO

CIRCULATION SALES MNGR. MARVIN ROCK

PUBLISHER EMERITUS JOHN W. SUTTER

Member of the New York Press Association

Member of the National Newspaper Association

The Villager (USPS 578930) ISSN 00426202 is published every week by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 (212) 229-1890. Periodicals Postage paid at New York, N.Y. Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $29 ($35 elsewhere). Single copy price at office and newsstands is $1. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2011 NYC Community Media LLC. PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR

The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for others errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue. Published by NYC Community Media, LLC One Metrotech North 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (718) 260-2500 • Fax: (212) 229-2790 On-line: www.thevillager.com E-mail: news@thevillager.com © 2012 NYC Community Media, LLC

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May 21, 2015

East Village artist Kelly King, who fought to save Jerry Delakas’s Members of Good Old Lowe East Side (GOLES) wouldn’t Astor Place newsstand, was marching for rent reform. have missed this march.

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A man on a clarinet “blew his horn” in favor of tenants’ rights. TheVillager.com


Weeknight Service Changes

L May 18 – 22 Mon to Fri 11:30 PM to 5 AM No L service between 8 Av and Lorimer St A F J , M14 and free shuttle buses provide alternate service L service operates between Rockaway Pkwy and Lorimer St only Travel Alternatives:

• M14 buses provide alternate service between 8 Av and 1 Av. • Free shuttle buses operate between Lorimer St and the Marcy Av J station, stopping at Bedford Av. • Transfer between free shuttle buses and J at Marcy Av. • Use out-of-system MetroCard transfer between the Lorimer St J and Broadway G stations. • Consider using the A or J to/from Manhattan, via transfer at Broadway Junction. Stay Informed

Call 511 and say “Current Service Status,” look for informational posters in stations, or visit mta.info where you can access the latest Planned Service Changes information, use TripPlanner+, and sign up for free email and text alerts.

© 2015 Metropolitan Transportation Authority

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May 21, 2015

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Police ID suspect in vicious Dallas BBQ assault ASSAULT, continued from p. 1

as New York. According to the Daily News, Robert Boyce, chief of detectives of the New York Police Department, said El-Amin is suspected of having fled the state. The department’s office of public information did not immediately respond to a request to confirm the information reported in other media. Police released a photo and video footage of the suspect on May 7, two days after the attack. The press release described the man sought as a light-skinned black man A photo released by police of a suswearing a black blazer and a white shirt. pect, identified as Bayna El-Amin, A photo still in the release appears to be 41, wanted in connection with the from a security camera, presumably in recent assault on two gay men at the restaurant, and is time-stamped at the Dallas BBQ in Chelsea. 10:20 p.m. on May 5, roughly 45 minutes Snipes sustained bruises and cuts to before the man was caught on amateur video slamming a chair over the heads the right side of his face and head, inof Ethan York-Adams, 25, and his boy- cluding a long gash running from his ear. York-Adams was brought to the friend, Jonathan Snipes, 32. That assault occurred at the end ground when hit by the chair, while of roughly one minute during which Snipes sat down and appeared dazed. As the melee unfolded, others in the Snipes was twice seen on the floor, as the assailant, a large bald and beard- restaurant broke it up on two separate ed man, appeared to be kicking him. occasions, with people holding the atThe scene was captured in a video that tacker back and York-Adams trying to Isaam Sharef, a customer at Dallas BBQ, steer Snipes away. Screams and cries “Stop! from the crowd can be uploaded to his Instagram and YouTube 15.PR.3929_1.qxp_Layout 1 4/21/15 11:40of AM PageStop!” 1 heard throughout the video. pages in the hours after the assault.

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An authentic Spanish and Mexican restaurant located in New York’s West Village. Since 1970, Tio Pepe has been serving up Spanish cuisine at its finest. Their recently revised menu showcases the simple, traditional food flavors of Spanish culture.

Snipes and police both said the two men declined medical attention after an ambulance arrived on the scene at 23rd St. on Eighth Ave. Snipes’s mother, Trish Snipes, was contacted by Gay City News, The Villager’s sister paper, at her home in Alabama. She said her son was concerned about the cost of emergency room care, which he understood would consist primarily of overnight observation for a concussion. She expressed concern, however, that he might lose some teeth, which she said were loosened in the assault. Jonathan Snipes told DNAinfo.com that the attack began when he accidentally knocked over a drink and, “a table near us audibly started making pretty gross comments about the two of us, like, ‘White faggots, spilling drinks.’ ” Snipes said he then confronted the men, and a fight ensued. Hours after Gay City News posted an initial story about the attack on the evening of May 6, however, Sharef sent a message to the newspaper saying, “Snipes didn’t go to the table to confront him. He went over and punched the guy in the face. Then the guy got up and attacked him.” Neither Snipes nor York-Adams responded to online and telephone requests for comment. Sharef did not respond to a follow-up question about whether he witnessed anything before what he described as Snipes’s first punch. Sharon Stapel, the executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, said the incident was being investigated as bias-related by the Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force. Snipes’s mother told Gay City News that her son told her that a waitress at Dallas BBQ, whom she described as having a ponytail, urged the attacker to “hurry up and leave before the police

arrive.” The man in the video is seen leaving the restaurant immediately after smashing the chair over Snipes’s and York-Adams’s heads. Eric Levine, whom the restaurant identified as its spokesperson for the incident, did not return an e-mail seeking comment on the attack and the allegation that an employee may have helped the attacker elude capture. On May 8, state Senator Brad Hoylman and City Councilmember Corey Johnson, both openly gay Democrats who represent the neighborhood, joined a group of activists, including members of the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, in front of the Dallas BBQ to hand out fliers about what they termed a hate crime. Asked if they were concerned about the allegation that Snipes, in fact, threw the first punch, Johnson noted that the police, who presumably know more about the incident than anyone else, were treating the matter as a bias crime. “The N.Y.P.D. takes these types of incidents very seriously,” Johnson said. “At this time, they have determined this to be a hate crime… . This was a brutal, out-of-control attack. That’s unacceptable.” “The details as we know them have shaken a lot of members of our community,” Hoylman said. “We need to let Chelsea know that we’re standing alongside the victims.” Anyone with information about the Dallas BBQ attack or knowledge of El-Amin’s whereabouts can call the N.Y.P.D.’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 646610-6806, visit NYPDCrimeStoppers. com, or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES), and then enter TIP577, or can call A.V.P.’s 24-hour hotline at 212-714-1141.

With reporting by Duncan Osborne

Etan Patz retrial is planned Our Executive Chef Jose Zamora is a native of Tarragona, Spain. Beginning his career at a family friend’s restaurant, he received two culinary degrees, one from Cordon Blue in the U.S. and one from the Institution Culinario de Cambrils in Spain. His cooking is inspired by both Spanish and French cuisine. Jose is devoted to using the best ingredients and implementing a simplistic stylist technique with dynamic presentation. His goal is to provide a memorable dining experience through passionately created culinary dishes.

A family run business since 1970 — and 6

May 21, 2015

still running strong!

C

y Vance, Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, said on Monday that he will retry Pedro Hernandez for the kidnapping and murder of Etan Patz, 6, following a recent mistrial that resulted in a hung jury. Hernandez’s trial ended on May 8 with the jurors deadlocked after 18 days of deliberation. At the end, there was one holdout versus the other 11 jurors who were ready to convict. Hernandez, 54, a former Soho bodega worker, was arrested in 2012 in New Jersey, where, after a six-hour interrogation, he confessed to cops that he killed Patz, who was walking to the P.S. 3 school-bus stop by himself for the first time. But his defense team argued that his confession was coerced and that he has a low I.Q. and

various mental problems. Speaking on MSNBC’s “The Cycle,” Vance told the show’s host, Abby Huntsman, “The Etan Patz case, certainly. I intend to retry the case. And I think the evidence put in by our prosecutors was compelling, and it was clear. And, it is a challenging case — I’ve never said otherwise — but it’s a case that we believe should be prosecuted, that’s why we did [it]. In our system, it happens from time to time that jurors cannot be unanimous, and this was one of those cases.” Vance said that prosecutors will announce at a court date on June 10 that they will retry Hernandez.

Lincoln Anderson TheVillager.com


POLICE BLOTTER

Take Charge of Your Health Today!

Avenue C shooting

4th Annual Community Health Forum: “Listen to Your Heart”

A man was shot in the leg on Avenue C near E. Fifth St. on Sat., May 16, around 10 p.m., police said. According to a police spokesperson, two men, both 18, were walking southbound on Avenue C when they were approached by a group of unknown males. One member of the larger group stole a gold chain from one of the two men, after which there was an altercation. A silver handgun was pulled out and four shots were fired. One of the two men was hit once in the upper left thigh, and the other suffered a broken left hand in the scuffle. Both victims were treated at Bellevue Hospital and released. An investigation is ongoing.

Kicked while he’s down The walk of shame got a little rowdy on Thurs., May 14, at Employees Only bar, at 510 Hudson St. A resident of Singapore committed some type of party foul, resulting in his ejection from the premises at about 10:40 p.m. that night. As the 37-yearold expatriate made his way toward the door, Robert Fisher, 35, and Milos Zica, 33, allegedly shoved him to the ground. A third man, Mitar Prentic, 30, then kicked him, causing bruising and contusions to his chest, police say. The attacking trio was arrested for misdemeanor assault.

Senior bounces burglar A young burglar met his match when a senior Villager found him trying to loot his apartment at 1 Bank

St. The older man, 67, was sleeping when the burglar, 23, allegedly entered the dwelling after failing to open another unit’s front door just before 5 a.m. on Thurs., May 14. Once inside, the prospective thief was purportedly contemplating where to start with the aid of a flashlight. The other man awoke, reportedly confronted the intruder, then physically removed him from the apartment. Police arrived soon after and arrested Orlando Whitfield, 23, for felony burglary.

Village throw down Port Authority police came to the aid of a woman, 61, on Tues., May 12, in front of 502 Hudson St., at Christopher St. The woman told them that at about 4 p.m. she had been thrown to the ground by another woman while talking to a neighbor. When confronted by police for her alleged role in the incident, Tenine Massey, 44, reportedly told them that the victim “has chased me since the 1920s,” police said. Massey was arrested for misdemeanor assault.

‘Broken Windows’ bust Police arrested a man on Mon., May 18, at 1:30 p.m. as he allegedly walked between subway cars, a violation, in the L train station at Eighth Ave. A background search had revealed that he had an open warrant for an undisclosed crime, according to a police report.

Zach Williams and Lincoln Anderson

Public Notice  

The New   York   State   Department   of   Environmental   Conservation   (DEC)  has  received  a  Brownfield  Cleanup  Program  (BCP)  application   from   540   Hudson   Street,   LLC   for   a   site   known   as   538-­‐544   Hudson   Street,  site  ID  #C231097.    This  site  is  located  in  New  York  City,  within   the   County   of   New   York,   and   is   located   at   538-­‐544   Hudson   Street.     Comments   regarding   this   application   must   be   submitted   no   later   than  June   26,   2015.    Information  regarding   the  site,  the   application,   an d   how   to   submit   commen ts   can   be   foun d   at   http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/60058.html   or   send   comments   to   Shaun   Bollers,   Project   Manager,   NYS   Department   of   Environmental   Conservation  –  Region  2,  One  Hunter’s  Point  Plaza,  1st  Floor,   47-­‐40   21st   Street,   Long   Island   City,   NY   11101;   shaun.bollers@dec.ny.gov;   or   call   718-­‐482-­‐4096.    To  have  information   such   as  this  notice   sent   right   to   your   email,   sign   up   with   county   email   listservs   available   at   www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/61092.html.  

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May 21, 2015

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PHOTOS BY MILO HESS

DanceParade whirls its way to Tompkins Square Saturday’s Ninth Annual DanceParade and Festival saw 10,000 hoofers high-kick and “Do the Hustle” from 21st St. down Broadway to Tompkins Square Park. They dazzled with more than 75 unique dance styles, everything from ballet to break dancing. The post-parade dance party in Tompkins featured four stages, aerial performances and free dance lessons.

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May 21, 2015

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Will sun set on E. Houston indie movie theater? BY ZACH WILLIAMS

T

PHOTO BY ZACH WILLIAMS

he Landmark Sunshine Cinema on E. Houston St. could become the latest victim of dual forces threatening movie theaters both locally and across the country. All seemed normal on a Monday night earlier this month when the theater featured a closed screening for an HBO documentary. But behind the scenes, the owner of the building, which the theater leases, is looking to sell the property to real estate developers who are all too eager to find another spot for luxury redevelopment in the East Village and Lower East Side, The Real Deal reported on May 8. Sources told that publication that the owner, Steven Goldman of S & G Houston Realty, wants $35 million for the property at 139-143 E. Houston St. Efforts are currently underway to redevelop historic theaters in other boroughs. Files have been planned to convert Brooklyn’s Pavilion Theater, in Park Slope, into residences. Attempts have also been made to redevelop the landmarked RKO Keith’s Theater in Queens. Goldman could not be reached for comment on the reported effort to sell the E. Houston St. building. While the building is historic, the site of an early movie theater, it is not a designated city landmark. “We’re not privy to any of that,” Lauren Kleiman — a spokesperson for California-based Landmark Theatres, which owns the Sunshine Cinema — said in a telephone interview. She declined to provide details about whether the Lower East Side venue has struggled financially or whether it has been subject to steep rent increases like those experienced by

The landlord of the Sunshine Cinema hopes to sell the property to developers.

other local businesses in recent years. The cinema previously tried to boost revenues by obtaining a full liquor license but Community Board 3 only offered its support for a beer-and-wine license. Kleiman said, whether or not the building is sold, Landmark Theatres remains committed to keeping a presence in the neighborhood. “We love the East Village,” she said. “We love being there and our customers, and we feel they feel the same way about us.” The theater, which opened in 2001 and specializes in independent films, has cultivated a devoted clientele, according to reviews on Yelp.com, where it enjoys a 4.5 out of five stars from 274 reviews. Some reviewers noted the impressive refreshments menu while others said the comfy T:8.75” ambience, film offer-

ings and general funkiness make the place particularly inviting. Whether the theater survives current real estate pressures is not the only challenge it faces. SeungHoon Jeong, an assistant professor of Cinema Studies at New York University, said that the future is not particularly optimistic for Lower Manhattan movie theaters. “If theaters can’t make enough money to survive in New York City,” he said, “they may disappear from Downtown and wander around the edge of the city like nomadic phantoms.” The role of movie theaters in American culture has changed in recent decades, especially with the increase in home-entertainment options, including streaming video. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, while movie ticket prices have gone up, the number of tickets sold in the U.S. fell 11 percent between 2004 and 2013. Movies once were made of physical material, but film in the future will be more of an information flow than an actual object, Jeong said. This further disperses the community of movie watchers from their previous places right next to each other in a physical space, he added. There is hope, however, for true movie lovers who desire to return to the old ways in the future, according to Jeong. “Though reduced in number, there are always cinephiles and people who just like to go to movie theaters, even alone, even occasionally,” he said. “I guess if the cinema as community is still wanted or needed, the city community would figure out how to protect it. If not, that’s the life of cinema.”

THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO IF YOU THINK YOU T:5.5”

SMELL A GAS LEAK IS NOTHING. Smell gas. Act fast. Don’t assume someone else will call 911 or 1-800-75-CONED (26633). Leave the area immediately and make the call yourself. You can report a gas-related emergency anonymously, and not even be there when help arrives. For more gas safety information, visit conEd.com and take safety into your own hands.

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May 21, 2015

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L.E.S. leader Modica honored in street co-naming BY TEQUILA MINSKY

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PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY

or 34 years, Frank Modica served as director for Hamilton-Madison House, a nonprofit settlement house, now more than 100 years old, dedicated to improving the quality of life of individuals and families primarily in the Chinatown and Two Bridges neighborhoods. Modica died in 2013 at age 81. Immediately after his funeral, those who knew and worked with him brainstormed on how they could honor this man who so completely took the Lower East Side into his heart and made it his life’s work. On a picture-perfect day last week, at the far reaches of the Lower East Side, between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, family, friends and colleagues of the late community activist gathered at Rutgers Slip and South St. to co-name the street Frank T. Modica Way. Victor Papa, a board member of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, beamed with pride talking about the history of the neighborhood. Gesturing to the East River just north of Brooklyn Bridge, he said, “Immigrants — mostly English and Irish — disembarked here in the early 1800s.” Pointing to an expanse of housing along South St., he said, “This is the Two Bridges Urban Renewal District — 1,500 units of affordable housing. It’s a flagship project that houses 60 formerly homeless families and a building for seniors only.” Tenant leader Elaine Hoffman expressed how much she loved Modica. “He was a former priest,” she noted. “As director of Hamilton-Madison House, he grew it for the people and the services they needed.” Modica was the settlement house’s director from 1976 to 2010, and was also board chairperson of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council. During the street ceremony, Papa said that the L.E.S. leader had also worked in Europe and lived elsewhere. However, he said, “Frank Modica was one of us. He was a Lower East Sider and we got to have him.” Also among those at the event were seniors and other Two Bridges tenants, former co-workers of Modica’s, representatives of local politicians and a slew of kids from after-school programs. “This is your first foray into civic action,” Papa told the younger generation. “He did a lot for us and I am so proud and so happy. He was my family, too,” he said of Modica. Then, looking up at the sign, he said, “Keep on shining on us.” City Councilmember Margaret Chin mentioned a number of local

At the dedication, Frank Modica’s son, Sean, and Frank’s wife, Kathleen, held a copy of the sign that was given to them to keep. Also among those at the event were, from right, Judy Rapfogel, chief of staff for Assemblymember Sheldon Silver; Mark Handelman, executive director of Hamilton-Madison House; Councilmember Margaret Chin, and Elaine Hoffman, with flowers.

Victor Papa, right, received a proclamation from state Senator Daniel Squadron’s representative that honored the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council on the street co-naming.

initiatives that Modica was responsible for setting up, including Head Start and mental health programs. With Modica’s widow, Kathleen, looking on, his son, Sean, also paid tribute. “This was his city and his people,” he said. “He was dedicated to serving this community and worked to make it a better and safer place. Maybe people will see the sign, Google his name, get inspired and follow in his footsteps.” May 21, 2015

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Fire is latest flashpoint at nuclear power plant BY PAUL DERIENZO

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fire that knocked out one of two reactors at the Indian Point plant over Mother’s Day weekend caused oil and fire-retardant foam to spill into the Hudson River. The oily sheen was observed by local fishermen and activists with Hudson Riverkeeper, an environmental watchdog group, which posted video of the slick’s deceptively beautiful rainbow on its Web site. The nuclear plant in Buchanan, N.Y., about 40 miles north of the city, usually provides 2,000 megawatts of electrical power for the city and Westchester County. The fire began at a transformer roughly 300 feet from the reactor building, and the reactors were not directly affected. Witnesses reported hearing a loud blast, then seeing a huge black ball of smoke rising over the plant, the latter which was also documented on video. Alarms were heard throughout the town and an ominous voice announced, “This is not a drill” from surrounding loudspeakers. Fire trucks rushed in from surrounding communities. The plant’s owner, Entergy, tweeted, “Indian Point is in safe, stable condition following transformer fire. No

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danger to community or employees at any time.” The company said the incident at the plant fell into its lowest of four emergency levels. However, the fire was difficult to fight and the transformer reignited after fire crews had extinguished the initial blaze. “The history of fire safety at Indian Point is one of mistakes, illegality and failure by both Entergy and the N.R.C.,” said Paul Gallay, a spokesperson for Riverkeeper. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversees and licenses nuclear power plants. At least one of the Indian Point power plants has operated past its original 40-year license period and has had its license temporarily extended. A similar aging plant at Oyster Creek, N.J., about 100 south of New York City on the Jersey Shore, has had its licensed extended, but after public outcry an agreement was made to shut the plant by 2019. Governor Andrew Cuomo has long pressed for a shutdown of Indian Point and appeared there on the Saturday night of the fire and again the next day. He said there was no threat from the fire to surrounding communities, but he said it was “inherently problematic” to have a nuclear power

The Indian Point nuclear power plant is less than 40 miles from New York City.

plant near the nation’s most densely populated region. “This was a relatively minor situation,” the governor said, “but when you’re talking about a nuclear power plant, there are no minor situations.” The state Department of Environmental Conservation said “the verdict is not really in yet” on how much escaped oil was in the river. The oil tank that served the transformer that exploded held 20,000 gallons, but just 900 gallons were found after the fire was put out. According to the state official, most “went up in smoke” or was collected by cleanup crews. The transformer explosion was the third transformer failure at Indian Point in eight years. In 2000 a more serious “stage 2” event occurred when a pipe ruptured, spilling 20,000 gallons of radioactive water into the Hudson. In 2007, after another fire, The New Times reported the plant’s “history of transformer problems.” And in 2010 Energy paid the state a $1.2 million fine after a transformer explosion dumped thousands of gallons of PCB-contaminated oil into the river. In the same year, 600,000 gallons of radioactive steam was released into the atmosphere when a valve was left open in error. During peak summer months, Indian Point provides about 15 percent of the electricity used by New York City. Its two reactors have been operating since the 1970s. Another plant at the site, Indian Point 1, was built in 1962 but shut down after a decade because it no longer met safety standards. New York was once among the friendliest states to nuclear power. In the 1960s former Governor Nelson Rockefeller set up the New York State Atomic and Space Authority to bring in more investment for the industry. However, the intractable problems with the disposal of nuclear waste ended Rockefeller’s nuclear experiment. Now the New York State Energy

Research and Development authority, created in 1975, divides its efforts between advocating alternative energy and managing the state’s considerable nuclear waste problems, which date back to the Cold War. New York State now has six nuclear plants producing 30 percent of the state’s power, making us the fifth-largest nuclear state in the nation. Indian Point 3 had completed its biannual refueling in March, and had been offline for nearly a month, before going back on line last month. Spent fuel from Indian Point and every commercial nuclear plant in the U.S. must be kept on site until Congress decides on the location for a permanent waste repository, a political debate that has been going on for decades. Indian Point’s spent fuel is kept in deep pools of water for at least five years as its intense radioactivity cools, then moved to dry casks. The pools are substantially built but are not protected by the thick concrete domes that encase the reactors. Since the Fukushima accident in Japan, in which spent-fuel storage areas were compromised by a massive earthquake, there has been growing concern that a newly discovered earthquake fault line beneath Westchester County might put Indian Point at a similar risk. There has also been ongoing debate over the plant’s vulnerability to a terrorist attack similar to the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. Environmentalists had been asking for a summertime shutdown of Indian Point to spare millions of baby fish that are sucked from the river into its cooling pipes and killed every year. Entergy had refused the changes because summer is the time of peak energy demand. But this year the shutdown due to the transformer fire will apparently spare many young fish and reportedly improve the ecological health of the river. The plant is expected to be out for a few weeks. TheVillager.com


PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY

JOIN US FOR THE 22nd ANNUAL MEETING OF THE VILLAGE ALLIANCE WEDNESDAY, JUNE 17th

A Souk-cessful reopening After being closed for a couple of months after an electrical fire, Le Souk reopened last Thursday. One of the “neighborly” neighborhood restaurants, the LaGuardia Place hot spot hosts many political and community events — including an annual free Thanksgiving dinner for community members who don’t have a family dinner to attend. The reopening night featured belly dancing, a horse, an Aladdin’s lamp, a snake charmer and many of the eats for which the restaurant is known.

4:30–6:00pm

LITHOGRAPHER’S HALL 113 UNIVERSITY PL, 3fl RSVP IS REQUIRED (212) 777-2173 info@villagealliance.org

GUEST SPEAKER: TOM MILLER Author, “Seeking New York” STAY UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST NEWS & EVENTS GreenwichVillageNY

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May 21, 2015

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Dirt Candy is beet, doesn’t live up to the hype BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC

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PHOTO BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC

Dirt Candy’s distinctive sign on Allen St.

that had plants and vegetation dancing above them. The host was inviting — which cannot be said for all restaurants — and our server was friendly, attentive and answered all food queries informatively. The meal started off well with complimentary bread, with colors like deep green and beet red. The bread was displayed like flowers in a pot — an irresistible bouquet, albeit slath-

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PHOTO BY MEGHAN LOUTTIT

xpectations are funny. This thought kept running through my head while eating at Dirt Candy, which recently reopened in February in a larger space at 86 Allen St. I enlisted the help of two companions, my sister and a good friend, to dine with me after finally scoring a 5:30 p.m. slot on a Wednesday. Chef Amanda Cohen is the woman behind Dirt Candy and she had lamented that every review of her previous smaller location on E. Ninth St. began with reservation woes. The new digs were supposed to ameliorate this, but I saw no evidence of that. It took months of seeing 10:30 p.m. slots on Open Table for me to call and secure the early dining time. (Indeed, when we ran into my sister’s friend at the restaurant, the first thing she asked was how long it took us to get our reservation. Her answer: two months.) On a warm spring day, other reservation holders and foodie hopefuls waited outside the restaurant, as the late-afternoon sunlight played on the restaurant’s bold sign. The eatery itself is a happy, beautiful spot — clean and modern white, with red banquettes

The broccoli hot dog was underwhelming.

ered with delicious garlic butter, that was ready to be plucked and gobbled. So far, so good — Dirt Candy has been praised up and down for its innovation. We tried to order as much as we could eat — and afford. This amounted to about a third of the menu. Next up were two dishes that were deemed snacks: the Korean fried broccoli and jalapeno hushpuppies. You always have me at spicy, but the puppies lacked any kick. They were filling, in that deep-breaded way. The fried broccoli seemed as if it was at war with itself, not meshing the vegetable with its outside flavors. This duo did not feel imaginative at all. But there was more to come, so we bucked up and drank some crisp rosé. For our next course, we ordered a dish called spinach, described on the menu as “spinach mille-feuille with grapefruit ricotta and smoked pistachios.” It was presented beautifully, though just a tiny portion at $15. I was not a fan at all, and felt it was overwhelmed by bitterness, but my companions liked it better. Last but not least, we had the Brussels sprout tacos — the photo you’re likely to see accompanying an article

about the restaurant. Again, it got marks for presentation. But the taste... The tacos come with several condiments, such as salsa verde, pickled red onions, tortilla chips and jalapenos. I was prepared to love this dish, but just felt meh — I had had better Brussels sprouts elsewhere. Along with the $30 tacos, we had broccoli, which, the menu explains, is “grilled and smoked broccoli dogs with broccoli kraut and mustard barbecue sauce.” That description may be a bit of a reach for broccoli on a bun. Ultimately, it was disappointing. The bun and mustard were good, but the star — the broccoli — lacked any burst of flavor. We had the curried fries and they were smashing — I could have eaten another bowl. Dirt Candy should have been my jam, but mostly I was let down. Had I expected too much? My sister and my friend also felt that the food lacked originality and that for a restaurant that only serves vegetables, the veggies did not shine. All three of us love vegetables and maybe that was the problem — maybe the restaurant is for people who don’t eat or like vegetables, who need them hidden. TheVillager.com


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Keyed up for playing sweet music in the park It looks like Colin Huggins, “That Crazy Piano Guy,” has some competition. Former Brit Michael Cullen was in Washington Square Park last weekend twinkling the ivories on classic tunes like “Midnight in Vermont,” “Tea for Two” and “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” Unlike Huggins, he uses an upright not a grand piano. PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Just not getting this ‘joke’ To The Editor: “Pols, law profs, Sierra Club back N.Y.U. plan antis’ suit” (news article, May 14): “A reversal of the Appellate Division’s decision would confront New York City [and] 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

EVAN FORSCH

housing or building healthcare facilities.” Does Beckman intentionally go for laughs, or do you think this was inadvertent? John Malecki

Closer look at N.Y.U. ‘friends’ To The Editor: Re “Pols, law profs, Sierra Club back N.Y.U. plan antis’ suit” (news article, May 14):

“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.” Interesting bedfellows.  The affordable housing groups made it clear they were not in “support or opposition” to N.Y.U.’s plan. They just don’t want a precedent set that might preclude building affordable housing on spaces that are under the city’s jurisdiction. Fair enough.  An amicus brief from New Yorkers for Parks is a bit more problematic. The organization — I read elsewhere — “warmed to N.Y.U.’s promise that its expansion will ultimately result in more green areas in the neighborhood.” Neighborhoods, however, don’t work like that. It takes decades to build a community, and gardens are often the hubs that make that possible. People aren’t widgets: They like the places they’ve cared for, and aren’t going to be made happier because you offer something “larger.” Gardens exist in the tradition of local stewardship. They are hotbeds of civic unrest and independent thought. Gardeners and “parkies” aren’t volunteers in that passive sense. We tend to see ourselves as caretakers of our community and its spaces. These aren’t “amenities” for us — they are our living, breathing homes.  LETTERS, continued on p. 18

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Sign V.I.D.’s petition! Help save small businesses TALKING POINT BY SHARON WOOLUMS

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ince the forum “A Community Call to Action: A Solution for Saving Small Businesses,” held at Judson Church on March 5 after a heavy snowstorm, so much excitement and activity has been generated, it’s been hard to keep up with all the developments. Numerous newspapers have subsequently run front-page articles about the crisis of small businesses and calls to save them. The Villager, which led the city with the first published article, starting in June 2013 — continuing with my half-dozen other articles through January 2015 — was the first New York City community newspaper to call for a vote on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. The Villager’s March 12, 2015, editorial calling for democracy and a vote on the S.B.J.S.A. brought the first public outcry from the president of the Real Estate Board of New York, Steven Spinola.  Spinola’s statements in The Villag-

At the recent V.I.D. gala, Sharon Woolums, left, and Ed Yutkowitz held one of the club’s petition sheets in support of the S.B.J.S.A.

er’s March 26, 2015, issue explained why REBNY is so concerned about blocking a vote on the S.B.J.S.A. As The Villager then explained: “In general, as REBNY members see it, the S.B.J.S.A. would put way too much power in the hands of retail tenants.” Meanwhile, the spiraling-out-of-control rents are spreading citywide and the public is “mad as hell” that nothing is being done. This public outcry recently produced not one but two proposed bills, one introduced in Albany, plus Borough President Gale Brewer’s proposal for voluntary mediation and a one-year extension, to be introduced

in the City Council. Regrettably, both of these bills were written by the real estate lobby, both give no rights to the small business owners and both ensure the status quo.  Now the public must make their voices heard even more loudly and call for a vote on the S.B.J.S.A., and a stop to the landlords’ bills. Many new city councilmembers have signed onto the S.B.J.S.A. since the recent push for it ramped up in The Villager and elsewhere. In the meantime, activist groups have sprung into action and start-

ed to get the word out. Block associations and community boards are discussing the bills, and bloggers are now taking on the issue, as well. Other forums are being planned, one in Brooklyn on June 4. Several political clubs in Lower Manhattan have written resolutions in support of the S.B.J.S.A. But it was the Village Independent Democrats, which co-sponsored the first community forum with The Villager, that has taken the lead in fighting for the passage of the S.B.J.S.A. and saving the businesses in the Village. V.I.D. kicked off its two-weekend petition drive to save our businesses this past Saturday at the Bedford-Barrow-Commerce Fair. With small businesses closing each month, this may be the last opportunity for citizens to take action to save them. This is the last round of a 30year fight where mom-and-pops have been knocked down many times and got back up. But to survive this final round, embattled local merchants need the public’s help on their side. To help volunteer, contact Sharon Woolums at haroses19@yahoo.com or visit www.villageindependentdemocrats.org . Woolums is a member, Village Independent Democrats

What a rush: The sweet science of grocery shopping RHYMES WITH CRAZY BY LENORE SKENAZY

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ot everyone shares my hobby, but let me put it out there. It is grocery shopping. Nothing I enjoy more. And since we live in the city, I’m shopping all the time, because who has space for those container ports of Country Crock the folks in the suburbs stock up on? But if I’m tingling every time I wander down the cereal aisle hoping that Kellogg’s just might have scored another home run like Kraves (basically, wafer cookie meets molten chocolate cake meets “breakfast”), I can’t help wondering who’s yanking our collective chain when it comes to the items on sale. I realize this is the dictionary definition of First World problem, but when the sign in the supermarket window screams, “Oreos, $2.99!” I expect to find Oreos for $2.99. And TheVillager.com

by “Oreos” I mean the most popular cookie in America, consisting of two chocolate cookies separated yet also bound together (talk about your existential metaphor!) by “cream.” On sale weeks at my local grocery, these are harder to find than a “Jeb for President” button in George Stephanopoulos’s accessory drawer. Oh, there are piles and piles of Oreo options, all right: Double Stuf, Mint, Fudge Coated. There are “Heads or Tails Oreos,” which have a vanilla cookie on one side and a chocolate

one on the other. (I tried to describe these to a friend as “black and white Oreos,” to which she replied, “Aren’t all Oreos black and white?”) Actually, missy, they aren’t. Because now there are “Golden Oreos,” which are albino. And then there’s always the nearly pristine stash of “Birthday Cake Oreos” — Oreos with sprinkles embedded in the cream, sought after by the same demographic that demands M&M’s in its brownies. I left that demographic about four decades and 17 cavities ago. My frustration on finding a sea of Oreos and not one sleeve of the Platonic Oreo ideal is matched only by my fury at the Friendly’s ice cream selection at sale time. Drawn in by that same promise of a $2.99 treat (never $3, of course), I make my way to the freezer case and scorn all the other ice creams that are not on sale that week. Turkey Hill for $5.69. Doesn’t it realize how ridiculous it looks? Who would buy that? (Until next week when it goes on sale, I mean.) And the store brand, at $3.99? Don’t make me laugh. Then look! There’s Ben & Jerry (& Unilver)’s, the megalithic corporation that pretends to dream up its flavors

lying on its back in the haze of a Grateful Dead concert. One pint-sized container of Ben/Jerry/Uni costs more than the entire carton of delicious vanilla Friendly’s I am about to grab — except, of course, there is no vanilla! Oh, there’s Moose Track galore. Rum Raisin by the barrel. If you’re looking for Rocky Road ice cream with Raw Cookie Dough Chunks, my friend, you are in luck. But if you want vanilla ice cream without a swirl? Vanilla on its own, unflanked by strawberry and chocolate flunkies so short on self-esteem they are excited to be purchased, even though they’re riding vanilla’s coat tails? But wait...behind the mint chip... could it be? Yes! There’s one bashed carton of vanilla with a sticky trickle down its side. I can see the little crystals formed where a piece of the lid was ripped off. Oh wait — it is low fat. And sugar free. And actually, it is yogurt. Who cares? I grab it and head home, ecstatic. It’ll taste fine, once I crumble some Birthday Cake Oreos on top. Skenazy is a public speaker and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids” May 21, 2015

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR LETTERS, continued from p. 16

New Yorkers for Parks has made dubious contributions of late to the entire discussion on privatization and parks. Their white paper (produced in conjunction with the New York League of Conservation Voters and presented with N.Y.U. Wagner’s Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems) suggested ways to “creatively” fund parks. Some are useful. But if I read this white paper correctly, it supports a dangerous erosion of citizen input into decision-making about public parkland. Invoking eminent domain, greater authority for conservancies over public agencies or the sale of mitigation credits to developers to solve parkland problems costs the public its right of self-governance. N.Y.U. was begged to build in Community Board 1, for the good of that community, after 9/11. Instead it has chosen overreach again and again into the Village, to the destruction of much of what makes this community unique. Many of us understand the political realities that force our hand at times. For instance, truly affordable housing

in real quantity usually trumps, for me — especially if a neighborhood’s gentrification generated the removal of its poorer members, and the green space does not have decades of public usage. But gardens and public spaces that have sustained a community are vital for the civic life of a city — and, yes, after 35 years, can be safely deemed parkland. They are the hubs of an active populace. And they are worthy of protection. K Webster

Staff deserve better To The Editor: Re “Printing House staff strike after doorman fired” (news article, May 14): What this article doesn’t mention is that these gentlemen have all been reliable and dedicated to the building and its residents for years. Yet, the board of this condo has refused to provide them with raises or any reason why they shouldn’t get raises, for over seven

With fired doorman Arturo Vergara, far left, striking Printing House building staff picketed outside the tony residence last week, continuing from left, Kevin Samuel, Michael Suggs, Wendell Campbell, Omardath Rooplal and Jose Rios.

years for most of them. The unit owners have implored and repeatedly petitioned, in writing, the board to provide raises and treat these good folks respectfully, to no avail. Planned Companies, an outsourcing firm, was retained by the board only 18 months or so ago, without a doubt for the purpose of preventing unionization. Previous to that, the staff was directly employed by the Printing House Condominium, and could have become unionized easily. Unionization would run the unit owners (most of whom do not object) an average of $40 per month total, not per employee. The condo board’s obvious goal: To keep common charges as artificially low as possible until all the newly refurbished units and $14 million townhouses are sold. Welcome to the new Greenwich Village. Frank Nervo

Thanks for a great read To The Editor: Re “Morton neighbors celebrate preservation champion” (news article, May 14): Thanks for another insightful article, Albert Amateau. Micaela Amato

Living Theatre vs. death To The Editor: Re “Living Theatre lives on in those Malina touched” (news article,

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May 14): Glad to see you did the follow-up article to Judith Malina’s obituary that I suggested to Lincoln Anderson. For the story, I spoke to your writer Al Amateau about the anti-death penalty street theater actions that the Living Theatre did in Times Square, as a fairly recent example of Judith and the others’ commitment to social justice and opposition to capital punishment. But, unfortunately, Al didn’t mention it in the article. So I wanted to write this letter, so people know about it. John Penley

Cude’s a cut above! To The Editor: Re “A water-shred moment for identity protection” (news article, May 14): Not a shred of doubt about it — no one is more committed to the community than C.B. 2 First Vice Chairperson Terri Cude. Thanks, Villager, for the winning write-up and the fab photo of this event. Susan M. Silver E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.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. TheVillager.com


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May 21, 2015

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Once Brownies, HiFi Bar tunes into the new vibe HIFI, continued from p. 1

PHOTO BY KYLE DEAN REINFORD

out, so it didn’t. They never showed up.” It wasn’t a fluke that Brownies regulars believed one of the most notorious rap groups could be dropping in at the local neighborhood club. First opened in 1989, Brownies consistently hosted up-and-coming bands — like Spoon, Interpol, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Death Cab for Cutie and My Morning Jacket, to name a few — in the 1990s and early 2000s. The place was a quintessential neighborhood music staple in an era when any indie band with a guitar and a cheap band T-shirt to sell could get a record deal. Fast-forward 16 years and in its place is The HiFi Bar, which serves as a completely modified Brownies. Stuto is still there, but he’s now the bar owner instead of the music booker. You may not find the Beastie Boys there anymore, but as a bar that has outlived most of its local counterparts, HiFi has successfully capitalized on the East Village’s evolution while simultaneously remaining true to its roots as a music-infused neighborhood hangout. Stuto’s involvement in the rock club-turned-bar began when he took over as Brownies’ full-time music booker in 1994 — a fitting position given his rock credentials, including involvement in A&R (talent scouting and artist development), marketing, artist management and radio promotion. The combination of Stuto’s connections and the steady rise of the club’s live-music scene established its status as one of the East Side’s most talked-about A&R hangouts. Beginning in the early 2000s when Brownies was at its music-booking peak, Stuto began to envision a turning point for the club. “I just started to get tired of booking bands, and it was very hard to make money because the stage and the bar were in the same room. So if someone came to see the 10 o’clock band, they’d cross the street to have a drink before the band went on,” he said. “It was just hard to maximize the bar income when you had a show in the same room.” In 2002, Brownies was replaced with The HiFi Bar. Despite some resentment from the Brownies faithful, who still longed for four-band bills and Marshall max-amped sound, HiFi was a quick success, especially among bands who had previously performed there — transforming the bar from a place they used to gig into a place in which they hung out. Meanwhile, rents kept going up and the East Vil-

Indie rock musicians Bob Mould, right, and Ted Leo performing at Mike Stuto’s 20-year anniversary party in May 2014.

lage continued to gentrify, and so the neighborhood clientele changed. According to Stuto, the area went from bohemia and blue collar to something he never imagined would occur at his doorstep. “You never saw someone with a jacket and a briefcase and tie coming out of an apartment in the morning when you were going to work. There were none of those,” Stuto said. “I still remember the first time I saw one of those people in the neighborhood. “The people who use the East Village as a destination today versus the people who used this neighborhood as a destination 20 years ago or more, they’re just different people,” he said. And so, with the area’s change, so came the bar’s second evolution. After three months of construction in late 2013, HiFi now houses an intimate back room perfectly suited for the private parties, acoustic sets, amateur standup comedy shows, reading series and trivia nights that the bar now hosts. Record covers now line the dimly lit bar’s refurbished exposed-brick walls, along with a collection of local artists’ work. Beyond the back-room acous-

tic sets, the place has recently started hosting bigger concerts in the main room where Brownies’ stage once stood. Despite the bar’s transformation, longtime HiFi-goers can breathe easy. The place is still home to the vintage photo booth that utilizes real film and the digital jukebox (“El D.J.”) that holds more than 4,000 records, plus a return of Brownies lovers. Singer/songwriter Matt Keating is one of those former Brownies fans. On an evening in April, Keating and his band set up for their first performance at HiFi since the Brownies era. “I’m having flashbacks!” Keating joked as Stuto detailed the bar’s overhaul to him. At the front of the place, twentysomethings came in from an intramural softball game, wearing matching gray team T-shirts trimmed in red. They were quick to celebrate with shots, beer and loud laughter, unaware and seemingly uninterested in the show that was about to begin. As Keating’s band began to play, the group halted their conversation, if only for a few minutes, to turn their attention to the sounds of past and present.

E. Seventh St. was in bloom for Ukrainian Festival PHOTO BY CLAYTON PATTERSON

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May 21, 2015

Women sold paper flowers to wear in hair or on a blouse at the Ukrainian Festival on E. Seventh St. between Second and Third Aves. last weekend. Ten percent of the festival’s proceeds will go toward helping the survivors of the March 26 gas-explosion fire on Second Ave. TheVillager.com


PHOTOS BY CLAYTON PATTERSON

Hardcore bands and fans thrash at Webster Hall The Black ’N’ Blue Ball at Webster Hall was nothing less than a two-day all-out aural assault of extreme agony and ecstasy. The annual hardcore music festival this year featured the likes of The Regulators (with members of the Bad Brains and Cro-Mags), plus Madball, Earth Crisis, Mizery, Sick of It All, Leeway (with Eddie Sutton, who did a surprise takeover of the mic, right), Booze & Glory, Everybody Gets Hurt (below left), Wisdom in Chains, Heavy Chains and Suburban Scum (below right), to name just a few. “To me, hardcore kind of represents working-class culture,” said L.E.S. photographer Clayton Patterson. “Plumbers, workers, it’s kind of the voice of these kinds of people. It’s about brotherhood, camaraderie. Rock ’n’ roll is about drugs, it’s kind of about privilege. This is working class. All these guys end up being soldiers, thugs, police, plumbers, electricians — you know, blue-collar stuff. It’s a place you would see black-and-blue beads rather than gold chains.”

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May 21, 2015

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With 75 Morton school designs unveiled, focus NEW SCHOOL, continued from p. 1

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May 21, 2015

PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY

the school to have a student health center, which will be located on the basement level. Primary care, dental, vision and mental health services will be offered to students. Melanie La Rocca, chief of staff to School Construction Authority C.E.O. Lorraine Grillo, presented a series of poster boards showing floor-by-floor architectural renderings for the school. For starters, all of the seven-story building’s windows — which are now on the small side — will be enlarged to allow in lots of natural light. The first floor will feature a large lobby and a very spacious cafeteria with floor-to-ceiling windows. The second floor will be dedicated to the 100 or so District 75 students with special needs, such as autistic spectrum disorder. The fourth floor will house a spacious library with oversized windows to allow natural light to stream in. Multiple specialty rooms dedicated to music, art and science labs will fill the fifth and sixth floors. Adjacent to the “L”-shaped building will be a street-level outdoor play area on Greenwich St. There will also be a “gymatorium” — a regulation-sized gym convertible to an auditorium / theater. The space will feature retractable tiered and floor seating for an audience in “the low 500’s” according to La Rocca. Advocates are hoping there will also be a “green” rooftop area for gardening and hands-on science projects, although parent fundraising would be needed to build out this area. This perhaps could also be a future project to vote for under participatory budgeting. The DeMatteis Construction Corporation is the contractor for the ambitious renovation project. Following the presentation, during the Q&A some parents pined for a separate gym and auditorium. La Rocca said that, in recent years, all schools built by the S.C.A. for the Department of Education have had gymatoriums, since D.O.E. believes these provide maximum flexibility for a variety of events, from basketball games, to black-box theater, to full-scale theater productions. The gymatorium can also be divided in two with a temporary partition at half-court. Before the presentation, Jeannine Kiely, chairperson of the Community Board 2 Schools and Education Committee, made a recruiting push for parents to join the 75 Morton Community Alliance, to provide input on the new school process before the middle school admissions season be-

Shino Tanikawa held up a design rendering of the exterior of 75 Morton St., showing how its windows will be enlarged.

gins in fall 2016. The alliance is a coalition of parents from School District 2 elementary schools and has been a key player in the school’s planning, working in tandem with C.B. 2 and Community Education Council District 2. Between now and next fall, the alliance will host two or three “envisioning meetings” — as it has done during the last two years of planning for the school. The goal will be to gather parent input on critical issues, such as admissions criteria, desired qualities of the principal, and programming for both the middle school and District 75 school. “We need representatives from every District 2 elementary school to participate,” Kiely said. “We don’t want just the loudest voices to be heard.” One of the key items for the school’s successful launch is hiring a principal before the fall 2016 admissions season. That’s when parents want to meet principals face to face and learn first-hand about academics, educational philosophy, programming, extra-curriculars, teaching styles and the ethos of the school. D.O.E.’s current plan has a principal starting date of January 2017, which local parents feel is too late. Tours of the 75 Morton building won’t be possible, since a temporary certificate of occupancy allowing vis-

Melanie La Rocca pointed to the design rendering for the sun-filled fourthfloor library.

itors is not issued until about three months prior to opening day. So, parents and school advocates feel, it is important for a principal to be in place to embody the school’s mission for prospective families. In place of an on-site school tour, the hope is that, with the help of a tech-savvy parent volunteer, a virtual building tour could be created online to tout

the new school’s state-of-the-art facilities. One of the hot topics parents will want input on is admissions criteria. As C.E.C. 2 President Shino Tanikawa explained, there are several middle school admissions processes. These range from “unscreened,” in which NEW SCHOOL, continued on p. 29 TheVillager.com


turns to admissions, programming, principal NEW SCHOOL, continued from p. 28

any student can apply without being evaluated; to “screened,” where a variety of metrics, such as grades, writing samples, interviews and test scores, are used to make admissions decisions — although many middle schools do not take standardized test scores into consideration. There are even a handful of “zoned” middle schools in District 2, such as Baruch and Wagner, for which admission is simply based on home address. According to Tanikawa, D.O.E. has historically controlled admissions policies for new schools — not allowing parental input into the process. But C.E.C. 2 has been studying various approaches to middle school admissions and is pushing D.O.E. to allow it to have an advisory role to institute changes. Given the shortage of school seats in District 2, the maze of middle school admissions has only exacerbated the stress felt by families of fifth graders. The number of students that will attend the 75 Morton school is also up in the air. Although the S.C.A. says it designed a school with a 900-student capacity, D.O.E., not the S.C.A. will dictate enrollment. But that won’t be without input from C.B. 2, C.E.C. 2 and parents, insisted Kiely. “The D.O.E. knows where we stand,” she said. “We don’t want a sardine model. We want a ‘rightsized school’ of 600 to 700 students.” Kiely anticipated that the school will open with a sixth grade and add a grade each year, although D.O.E. approval of the rollout has not yet been finalized. The successful collaboration between the community and D.O.E. is expected to continue, as the agency has committed to bimonthly phone calls with representatives from C.B. 2, C.E.C. 2 and the 75 Morton Community Alliance. Thankfully, the S.C.A. has a stellar track record of building best-in-class new schools and meeting scheduled opening dates, so these deliberations can focus less on construction progress and more on the next big questions. Who will lead the school as principal? What kinds of academic and enrichment programs will be offered? How best to fill the school with a diverse mix of students from across District 2? P.S. 3 parent David Colby, who has a daughter in third grade who would join the inaugural 75 Morton class of sixth graders, said he is “really motivated.” “At P.S. 3, parents helped design our school’s unique curriculum and didn’t have to answer much to the Board of Ed,” he said. “So if we mobilize for 75 Morton, maybe we can avoid the morass of testing and TheVillager.com

Jeannine Kiely displayed a poster board with a design of the school’s spacious cafeteria.

flawed admissions and create an amazing school.” At one point during the meeting, it was asked how many in the room were the parents of current third graders, and about half of those present raised their hands. Advocates stressed that now is the time for parents to step up and have a voice in shaping 75 Morton into a top-notch middle school. Parents can get involved by contacting the 75 Morton Community Alliance at 75morton@gmail.com . The kickoff to plan the envisioning meetings during the next school year will take place on Mon., June 1, at 6:30 p.m. at P.S. 33, 281 Ninth Ave. (between W. 26th and 28th Sts.). “The incredible designs we’ve seen today came from unprecedented communication between the D.O.E., parents, community and elected officials,” Kiely told the crowd. “If we work together and continue to give the D.O.E. our input on admissions, programming, partnerships and more, just think of what we can create!” Looking at the design renderings after the meeting, Nadine Hoffmann, president of the Village Independent Democrats, remarked, “I wish I had a young kid to go to this school. My kid went to LAB School. It was a wonderful school — but the physical plant, it looked like a jail from the outside.” Terri Cude, first vice chairperson

The “gymatorium” will have retractable seating on its northern and eastern sides, windows on its southern (Morton St.) side and a stage on its western side.

of C.B. 2 said, “Of all the issues we deal with on the community board — all the victories, the defeats — this is a win.” Tony Hoffmann, Nadine’s husband, said, “They fought so hard and so long for this. It’s such an example of community action. What I love

about it, is that only in the Village can they fight for these details — and get them.”

With reporting by Lincoln Anderson May 21, 2015

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May 21, 2015

TheVillager.com


Orioles soar from behind to beat the Athletics SPORTS BY JAYSON CAMACHO

PHOTO BY JAYSON CAMACHO

O

ne of the weekend’s most anticipated games of G.V.L.L.’s Majors American Division was Sunday’s battle between the Orioles and the Athletics at James J. Walker Field. There were few clouds in sight as the teams eagerly warmed up on opposite sides of the field. But there was lots of excitement in the air as the A’s were set to put a stop to the O’s five-game win streak. Orioles Manager John Economou was warming up his pitcher in the right-field corner when this reporter asked him about their strategy. “We need to play errorless baseball,” the manager said. “We also need to make sure that we limit walks; there’s no secret there.” The team’s starting pitcher, Michael M., 12, attends City and Country School in the Village. Asked about his game plan, he said, “Throw strikes and get outs.” And that’s what he would go on to do. Michael started off the game by striking out the leadoff batter and then getting the next batter to ground out to first. He gave up a single to heavy hitter Brett, who would get injured trying to steal second base and was unable to return to the game. This would prove to be a blow to the A’s. Max D. took the mound for the A’s, and started off hot with a 1-2-3 inning, including two strikeouts.

An A’s batter went mano a mano with an O’s pitcher in Sunday’s battle between the two powerhouse G.V.L.L. teams.

Both pitchers continued to pound the strike zone and get outs. The A’s started to gain momentum in the fourth inning following a leadoff double and a bunch of infield errors. O’s Head Coach Josh Levine decided it was time for a pitching change and turned the ball over to the lefty Noah C. Noah struggled to get outs and gave up three runs before getting out of a chaotic inning. The A’s seemed to have all the momentum in the game, with a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth, but the O’s didn’t give up.

Noah helped his own cause by rapping a leadoff single and then stealing second base. Elijah M. hit a shot to left center for a double. Noah stole home following a walk that loaded the bases. Max D. continued to struggle for the A’s, allowing three more runs before being replaced by Daniel T. Daniel gave up another four runs before striking out two batters and getting a groundout to first. Noah tossed a quick fifth inning. Sixty-four percent of his pitches were strikes in his two innings pitched. He struck out four, allowed three hits, and walked two batters. Both walks came in the sixth inning, leading to a bases-loaded no-outs jam for Noah. The O’s went to the bullpen, calling in Caleb T. to get them out of the inning and secure the win. The O’s were able to play solid defense and turn a double play, sacrificing a run. The next batter hit a grounder to Caleb to end the game. The Orioles won, 9-4, extending their win streak to six games. After the game, Economou said, “I think we made some errors in the beginning. But then they came around and played some really good ball. The difference today was our hitting. The hitting was huge. The pitchers did their job. And we even had a little luck.” The Orioles finished the game with six hits and six walks. Their pitches were also did a good job, with a combined 71 percent strikes thrown and striking out 10 batters. The win moved the Orioles to 7-3, giving them a two-game lead on the Astros. They have two more games remaining before the start of the playoffs.

Xavier racket men are hoping to make a net gain BY ROBERT ELKIN

I

n terms of athletics, Xavier High School is known for its rugby, basketball, football and track teams. Like many Manhattan schools, for outdoor sports, there is usually travel involved to get to fields, court and running courses. For instance, Xavier’s tennis team practices in Astoria Par, in Queens. Xavier is in Division A of the Catholic High School Athletic Association, along with such powerhouses as St. Francis Prep of Queens, Fordham Prep of the Bronx, and Iona Prep of New Rochelle, in Westchester. Tennis is a small program at Xavier, with only 10 players on the team. “We have a lot of guys at Xavier who are a Lower East Side and Stuyvesant Town guys,” said Michael Mulé, the team’s head coach. “Their dads and uncles are a lot of LaSalle High School guys. It would be nice if LaSalle had a tennis team, but it doesn’t.” Last year Xavier’s tennis team posted a 2-7 record. Their won-lost record has been like this for a number of years. Similarly, the team general carries a small roster of 10 players each year, said Mulé, who is a Xavier alumnus. TheVillager.com

The Xavier High School tennis team, from left, Vincent Tozzi, Gianluca Milea, Liam Cooney, Jose Agregado, Owen Sterling, Peter McKee, Andrew Arabian, Brando Cristofoli, Coach Michael Mulé, Hank Michels and Xavier President John Raslowsky.

“For the most part, there are guys who do it as their only sport,” Mulé noted. “Even though tennis at Xavier feels like it’s a minor sport, it is a high-level commitment sport for the guys who do it. “We are drawing from a pool of kids who have tennis backgrounds

or whose families have been playing tennis,” he said. At the same time, he noted, in the end, academics are, and should be, the priority. “We tend to have a very, very good record with the grades our guys have and colleges they are getting into,”

he said. One of Xavier’s tennis players is Vin Tozzi, who will be attending New York University-Stern School of Business come September. However, he hasn’t decided if he will continue to play the net sport in college. “I’ll talk to the N.Y.U. coach,” said Tozzi, who is completing his fourth year playing high school tennis. “I’ll see what college tennis is like. I was given a full academic ride, but did not get anything for tennis.” After the current season, Tozzi’s first concern is to focus on his studies in college. “Tennis is a great sport but it is more of a hobby for me,” he said. “Last year he got a few wins for us at first singles,” the coach added. “It was tough for him because he played against a lot of first singles players.” This season, Xavier’s tennis team has gotten off to a slow start and so has Tozzi. As of this article’s writing, the team had not won a match in five outings. “He’ll end up with some wins,” Mulé assured of his top player. Tozzi has only captured one singles match this season, a victory over a player from Iona Prep. He hopes to enter into the Mayor’s Cup to close out his high school career. May 21, 2015

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