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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 28, 2015 • $1.00 Volume 84 • Number 52

Mayor brings new focus and funding to suffering public-housing system BY ZACH WILLIAMS

M

NYCHA, continued on p. 8

City Planning tweaks heights in zoning plan, but concern is still high BY ZACH WILLIAMS

T

he city has scaled back its plans to raise height limits in contextual zoning districts within some parts of Chelsea, but proposed changes remain that could result in buildings as much as 30 feet taller than rules currently allow.

PHOTO BY CLAYTON PATTERSON

ayor Bill de Blasio plans to transform the New York City Housing Authority by streamlining operations, raising tenant fees, shifting funding and seeking partnerships with private developers. The authority’s finances

have only further deteriorated in recent years with nearly $17 billion in outstanding repairs among its 334 housing developments and an overall $1 billion loss in operating revenue since 2001. Years of divestment by the state and federal governments requires that the city

City planners are in the midst of outreach to local community boards regarding the plan to increase affordable housing by loosening construction restrictions in order to maximize the permitted space within buildings. Community Board 4 was the first board in Manhattan to receive ZONING, continued on p. 9

L.E.S. documentarian Clayton Patterson recently covered Austria’s Wildstyle and Tattoo Messe, where Enigma, above, was quite the cutup. For more photos, see Page 24.

Will Board 2 drum loud music out of Wash. Sq.? BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

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ashington Square Park is known around the world as the iconic heart of Greenwich Village. Just shy of 10 acres, the landmarked park is famed for its freewheeling spirit — and, as an expression of that, its music. However, Community Board 2 is now set to take a hard look at whether it might be time to rein in things a bit in the park, specifically loud music, such as

people playing full drum sets and other percussion (white spackle buckets, pots and pans) and trumpets, among others, as well as the times when tunes can be played. The board’s Executive Committee recently discussed possible measures that could be implemented, including a “quiet area” in the park, possible limits on hours when music can be played and banning certain types of instruments from particular parts of the park.

The issues will be aired further at the upcoming C.B. 2 Parks and Waterfront Committee meeting on Wed., June 3, at 6:30 p.m., at the N.Y.U. Silver Building, at 32 Waverly Place. It’s possible that the committee could draft an advisory resolution with specific recommendations, which would then be voted on by the full C.B. 2 board and become the board’s official position on the park. Of course, any move to MUSIC, continued on p. 10

Slings mud but is slammed by V.I.D...............page 2 Win-win solution for Eliz. St. Garden.............page 6 Gerson and Clyde movin’ ’n’ groovin’.............page 27 The Upper Room elevates...........page 21

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RADO, RENO AND ERIN THE RED: The Theater for the New City was the place to be this past weekend for an exciting and dizzying smorgasbord of incredible performances. We stopped by the East Village venue on Saturday night, and were lucky enough to see James Rado, co-author of “Hair,” performing the American premiere of the song “Hippie Life.” The number never made it into the groundbreaking ’60s musical’s American production but was done in the European tour. Rado was joined by a crew of cavorting flower children onstage, and they all, of course, grooved to “Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In” for the finale. Reno — accompanied by cute canine sidekick Edie — provided some sharp comic relief. She savaged country life, plus related how she recently went out and personally calmed traffic near the Holland Tunnel after police declined to respond, saying it wasn’t their job. Torch singer (and Marilyn Monroe performer) Louisa Bradshaw wowed, hitting all the right notes. Morton Millen, a singer / songwriter from the East Village by way of England, wearing a snazzy white suit and hat reminiscent of a better-dressed Boss Hogg, played some beautiful songs on guitar accompanied by Ben Shapiro improvising runs on electric guitar. The gothic group Ondyne’s Demise enveloped the audience in entrancing dark melodies as Erin The Red mesmerized with sultry fire dances. Inma Heredia’s flamenco comedy was both hilarious and sensuous, while — in shades or Daniel Rakowitz — Rhonda Hansome told a story about how her mom convinced her to eat a stew allegedly made of her husband. Crystal Field, the theater’s artistic director, shared emceeing duties.

D.L. DONNYBROOK: Village activist/psychologist Gil Horowitz recently announced that he intends to challenge incumbent Arthur Schwartz for Democratic district leader in this fall’s upcoming election. Speaking to us a couple of weeks ago after the community forum on the new 75 Morton St. middle school, Horowitz proclaimed there are “1,000 reasons not to vote for Arthur Schwartz” — which he’ll get into in more depth as the campaign progresses. Plugging his cred as a gay activist, Horowitz said he was at “the second night” of the Stonewall Riots, and has been in the Village for 60 years. Also, he said, if elected, he’d make a great team with Keen Berger, the Village’s female district leader, since, as he put it, “We’re both psychologists.” Also, Horowitz warned, that while he was going easy on Schwartz for the moment, he would definitely “go negative” later and get down and dirty. All that said, things got off to a pretty rocky start for Horowitz last week when the Village Independent Democrats club voted to endorse Schwartz for re-election. The tally was 13 for Schwartz, 9 for no endorsement and 0 for Horowitz. Apparently, Horowitz’s pledge to rein in the negativity didn’t last very long. “V.I.D. endorsed me despite a blistering negative attack from Gil,” Schwartz told us afterward. One of the upstart’s main attack points is a comment he claims Schwartz made at a meeting of the Village Reform Democratic Club about “six lesbians.” Basically, he alleges that Schwartz said he could easily find a number of candidates to run against Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Schwartz’s political nemesis. But the district leader vehemently denies uttering it. “I welcome the challenge,” Schwartz said of Horowitz. “I have been on the frontline of numerous Village battles for 24 years, from Hudson River Park and funding local parks to fighting inappropriate development, keeping a Costco off of 14th St. and gaining a Y, returning the newsstand to Jerry Delakas at Astor Place, and on and on. Of late, I have gotten two seniors out of nursing homes that they didn’t belong in and am suing the Catholic Church to keep Nazareth Nursery School in Chelsea open. Perhaps most importantly, I was a core member of Zephyr Teachout’s team; I was her treasurer. Gil is a nice guy and has almost always been a supporter, but I don’t think he can touch my record.” Horowitz conceded that Schwartz is a “brilliant” attorney. “I do not question your brilliance — nor mine,” he told Schwartz. Horowitz claims that Berger recently asked him to withdraw from the race, but he declined. He declared, “As Herman Gerson, former district leader, often says: ‘Let the voters decide.’ ”

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Things got “Hair”-y when James Rado, in orange shirt and cap, center, and flower children took the stage at the L.E.S. Festival of the Arts. TheVillager.com


Hey! Ho! Let’s go! Joey Ramone B’day Bash rocks on BY TINA BENITEZ-EVES

O

PHOTOS BY PATRICK EVES

n what would have been the Ramones lead singer’s 64th birthday, the annual Joey Ramone Birthday Bash rocked The Studio at Webster Hall on Tues., May 19. The annual event was started by the Ramones frontman in 1997 at the Continental, as his opportunity to showcase local bands and a medley of punk friends. The event has continued on, with a posthumous 50th birthday party for him, pulled together by his mother, Charlotte Lesher, and brother, Mickey Leigh, in 2001, shortly Joey Ramone’s death from lymphoma. After Lesher passed away in 2007, Leigh has kept the annual tradition going. This year’s birthday bash also benefitted the Foundation for Lymphoma Research through ticket sales, a raffle and silent auction. The emcee was Punk magazine founder John Holmstrom, who illustrated the Ramones’ “Rocket to Russia” and “Road to Ruin” album covers. Fit for a punk king, Joey Ramone’s party kicked off with a one-song set by My World that faded into a 1-23-4 rendition of “Rockaway Beach” before Long Island’s Serontones took over. Jiro got the room jumping to an anthemic “Punk Rock Generation” before The Independents, one of Joey Ramone’s favorite bands, who played the very first birthday bash and were once managed by Joey. “The Ramones began the punk rock movement,” said David Peel, who was next in line. David Peel and The Lower East Side paid tribute to their late friend by performing “Happy Birthday to Joey Ramone” before they launched into their own 1978

Mickey Leigh playing at the birthday bash.

single “Uptight Manhattan.” Stop played new songs from their current album, “Stop,” while the Sic F*cks, featuring Russell Wolinsky and Manic Panic sisters Tish and Snooky, continued the momentum. They were joined by the Alice Cooper Band bassist Dennis Dunaway playing “Pet Semetary” before a fitting “School’s Out.” Carrying punk from over the pond, original Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock joined in, first playing an acoustic punk set, then plugging in for the Pistols’ cover of “Stepping Stone” by The Monkees before a “Pretty Vacant” close. In his fifth appearance at the annual bash, Matlock, who flew over from England for the event, told The Villager that the Ramones managed to help pull the two ends of punk together. “The Ramones were part of this with us,” he said. “It’s like putting your arms across a punk rock friend-

ship.” In America by way of Greece, the Barb Wire Dolls bolted on stage next with petite, platinum-haired vocalist Isis Queen sporting a torn, ripped white crop T with “Make Riot Not War” scribbled on it. “The Ramones are inside every one of us,” Mickey Leigh said before introducing the band’s long-

time tour manager, Monte Melnick, who then introduced C.J. Ramone, the group’s bass player from 1989 through the Ramones’ disbandment in 1996. C.J. Ramone paid homage with an all-Ramones eight-song set, closing with Motorhead’s tribute “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.,” a song he was often tasked with singing when touring with the band. The former Ramone returned along with several guest singers for the next Ramones set. Walt Stack was joined by Bullys band mate and singer Joey Lanz for “Psycho Therapy,” before Andy Shernoff took over for two songs, “Stop Thinking About It,” which he co-wrote with Joey for his first solo album, “Don’t Worry About Me,” posthumously released in 2002, and the Ramones’ “Leave Home” track “Swallow My Pride.” Leigh finished the remainder of the set, starting off with “Something to Believe In” from the Ramones’ 1986 release “Animal Boy,” and sprinkling in more of Joey’s own music, including his homage “New York City” and his rendition of “Wonderful World.” Leigh was joined by the son of Bob Thiele, who co-wrote “What a Wonderful World,” on guitar. Jackass and District Pipe Band closed the show with Leigh looking on.

Isis Queen of the Barb Wire Dolls TheVillager.com

May 28, 2015

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Stuy Town weighs in on storm-protection plan 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 ALBERT AMATEAU IRA BLUTREICH SARAH FERGUSON TEQUILA MINSKY CLAYTON PATTERSON JEFFERSON SIEGEL ZACH WILLIAMS SHARON WOOLUMS

ART DIRECTOR MICHAEL SHIREY

GRAPHIC DESIGNERS ANDREW GOOS CHRIS ORTIZ

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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 28, 2015

BY LESLEY SUSSMAN

A

two-and-a-quarter-mile section of the East River waterfront from E. 14th St. to E. 23rd St. will, possibly within two years, have a variety of new features that would provide protection from future hurricanes while also allowing the community easier access to the park. The project would include such new amenities as a scenic bike path, a cafe, small retail shops and even an elevated park. At least this was the prediction of city officials and a representative of the design firm in charge of the storm-surge protection project who appeared May 19 at Washington Irving High School to update Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper residents on what’s in store for their section of the waterfront. In addition to a large turnout of local residents and Community Board 6 members, the workshop was also attended by officials from the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, the city’s Department of Design and Construction, the Department of Transportation and the Parks Department — agencies that are all co-sponsors of the plan. It was the first of three workshops scheduled for this month to discuss ways to reduce risks from extreme weather and climate change. Local residents are being asked for their input into what the final version for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Plan — being funded by a $33 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant — should look like. The second workshop, on May 20, focused on the resiliency plan in the section between Houston and Montgomery Sts. The third workshop, on Thurs., May 28, at St. Brigid’s Church, 119 Avenue B, will focus on the section between E. Houston and 14th Sts. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; meeting starts at 7 p.m. The finalized resiliency project calls for the construction of the “Big U,” a 10-mile-long protective barrier system to be built along the East Side from E. 42nd St. down to the Battery and then up the West Side to 57th St. At the May 19 meeting, Jeremy Siegel, a representative of the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), the Danish design firm in charge of the project, said ideas that his firm are considering include a series of rolling hills and bridges between the east side of the F.D.R. Drive and the river, a new landscaped berm between 10 feet to 20 feet high depending on the location, levees, collapsible flood barriers, an elevated park on top of a levee, a kayaking area, cafes, small retail shops and a bike path Siegel emphasized that the most important challenge his firm faced was to protect Lower Manhattan from storm surges, yet without walling the water-

SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE

Resiliency infrastructure can double as infrastructure for people

An illustration from the PlaNYC East Side Coastal Resiliency Project, showing how a bike path and landscaped park area would be incorporated into a protective berm along a section of the East River waterfront.

27

front off from the city. Part of the project, he added, was to devise ways to fix areas that were heavily damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Other ideas floated by Siegel included a “wiggle wall” flood barrier that would also be a “piece of art” — basically, flood-barrier panels that could be stored until extreme weather hits — and a basketball court. In general, he said, the concept design at this point calls for rolling hills that complement the park, yet are tall enough to keep the river from spilling over during a storm. “It’s all really a juggling act,” Siegel said. “We’re trying to protect the city from storm events. but we want the other 365 days of each year to have the best urban design, and not create a visibility issue with the river. But we want to get a lot more community feedback before we finalize the design plans.” Siegel said this particular section of the waterfront — between E. 14th and E. 23rd Sts. — posed many design challenges because of the presence of the Con Ed plant with a more than 100-year-old infrastructure, Stuyvesant Cove Park, Asser Levy Playground, the Veterans Affairs Hospital and the F.D.R. Drive viaduct. He also noted that not every stretch of the waterfront had the width to accommodate a full berm, particularly around the Con Ed plant. As a result, Siegel said, at some locations a simpler floodwall would be built, while at others, a deployable surge barrier would be installed. However, he said, a berm offered the most effective protection. Another challenge, he added, was how to create storm-protection barriers without creating “a visibility issue.” “We also want to see how existing trees might be impacted by the new

landscape,” Siegel said. Siegel also reported that his firm had finished 95 percent of the land survey for the overall project, as well as 70 percent of the inspection of bridges from 42nd St. to Battery Park. He said that an underwater structural survey by divers of most of the waterfront had also been completed. One city planner reported that three workshops held last March on design plans for this strip of the waterfront were attended by more than 135 local residents. “The majority of residents who attended wanted a nature walk and a cafe in Stuyvesant Cove Park,” she said. “They also said that 20th St. was the major access point to the river and were concerned about safety for pedestrians and bicyclists who crossed there to get to the park.” Carrie Grassi, from the city’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, told workshop attendees that the agency has “a very ambitious timetable.” “We want ground to be broken by 2017,” she said. “The city is committed to this project and is prioritizing it,” she said. “Community input is crucial to this process and that’s why we’re going to have two more sets of workshops sometime in July.” Grassi said that the city was also working closely with Community Boards 3 and 6, which recently formed a Waterfront Resiliency Task Force, and with other interested parties, as well in smaller focus groups. C.B. 6 Chairperson Sandro Sherrod is the task force’s chairperson. “I’m eager to hear more about how some of the berms and other structures that might block views and might block access to the park will be incorporated into the final design plan,” he said. TheVillager.com


Bill on tenant notification on repairs passes Council

WANT TO HELP

SMALL BUSINESSES

BY ZACH WILLIAMS

A

TheVillager.com

FILE PHOTO BY ZACH WILLIAMS

bill recently passed by the City Council would require landlords to provide at least 24 hours notice before doing work that would disrupt building services, such as heat, water and electricity. Mayor de Blasio is expected to sign the measure into law in the near future following a 50-to-0 vote by the Council on May 14 in favor of the legislation. The bill requires landlords to give 24 hours notice before most type of work, with a mandatory 10 days notice for major alteration work. The suspension of elevator service for more than two hours would also require a day’s notice, under the legislation. Councilmember Rosie Mendez and Borough President Gale Brewer — the bill’s primary sponsors — said in a May 14 statement that proper notification would let tenants plan ahead of building construction, as well as figure out the intentions of their landlords in conducting work. “Today, a wheelchair-bound tenant could leave for work in the morning and return in the evening to find the elevator offline for hours, having never heard a whisper about it,” Brewer said. “Tenants deserve fair warning and an opportunity to plan around disruptive maintenance work.” Brewer also noted that predatory landlords often use renovation work to harass and force out rent-regulated tenants so they can increase rents. Affordable housing advocates say such practices are common in the East Village and on the Lower East Side. Currently, tenant-protection laws do not require landlords to give such notice, creating a loophole that not only invites abuse but also dispenses with common courtesy, according to Mendez. A Brewer spokesperson said that mayoral staff took part in navigating the bill through the Council legislative process. There have been no indications that de Blasio would not support the bill, a Mendez spokesperson said, though a date has not been set yet for when the mayor would sign the bill into law. Services included under the legislation are any heat, hot water, cold water, gas or electricity service expected to be affected for more than two hours. Exceptions would be allowed for emergency work, with the understanding that notice subsequently be given to residents as soon as possible. The city Department of Housing Preservation and Development would assume responsibility for en-

SUCCEED IN GREENWICH VILLAGE?

Last August, James Peterson, a tenant at 309 E. Eighth St., showed his hand after wiping it over the construction dust that was then coating his door. The East Village building is owned by Steve Croman. Tenants charge that the landlord was using construction to harass them and force them out of their rent-regulated apartments.

forcing the law, as well as determining applicable rules, like what form notice is given, such as English and Spanish, as well as other applicable languages. A department spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. “ ‘Construction as harassment’ is a huge problem in the East Village and Lower East Side,” said Brandon Kielbasa, director of organizing for the Cooper Square Committee. “New laws, like this one, that give tenants more rights for dealing with this issue are a step in the right direction.” He added that, with the anticipated new law in place, tenants would be better able to argue in Housing Court that their landlords were conducting work without notification in order to harass them. Kielbasa said few of the landlords he has encountered in his work currently offer tenants notification. The noise and vibrations from renovation work are one headache for rent-regulated tenants who suspect their landlords have nefarious motives. And then there is also the construction dust that often accompanies the conversion of apartments into luxury housing. Of equal concern is the lack of advance notice to prepare for interruption of water, heat and / or electrical service. As previously reported by The Villager, these predatory landlords, for their part, have defended their work by claiming they gave prior notice to their tenants for this type of work.

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5


Win-win solution found for Elizabeth St. Garden BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

C

ommunity Board 2 has identified an alternative site for affordable housing project that could save the Elizabeth St. Garden. City Councilmember Margaret Chin and the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development want to develop the Elizabeth St. Garden with around 60 units of affordable housing. These units were a last-minute “add-on” to the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area project on the Lower East Side, meant to increase that project’s overall affordable housing percentage. But C.B. 2 members have repeatedly stressed that they were never notified of the Little Italy plan or given a chance to review it until the Bloomberg administration and Chin had already hashed out the deal. Meanwhile, after finding out two years ago that the Elizabeth St. Garden, located between Prince and Spring Sts., was in fact city-owned land — albeit privately leased — community residents in open-space-starved Little Italy have embraced it wholeheartedly and have been waging an all-out struggle to save it and get it designated an official New York City park. In a recent meeting about the

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May 28, 2015

thorny issue convened between C.B. 2 members, Chin and H.P.D. officials, Tobi Bergman, the board’s chairperson, offered that a far better solution would be to site the affordable housing at Hudson St. between W. Houston and Clarkson Sts., where work is concluding on a water shaft to the Third City Water Tunnel. C.B. 2 in the mid-1990s identified this Hudson Square site as a potential spot for a future park after the shaft work was done, and at the time went on record supporting this. But, as Bergman told The Villager, since that time, Hudson River Park has been built and Pier 40, at W. Houston St., has become a heavily used youthsports mecca. “That’s a position that the board hasn’t reviewed in 15 years,” Bergman said of the idea of converting the Hudson St. site to a park. “And we haven’t reviewed it in the context of the affordable housing crisis.” In addition, according to Bergman and Jeannine Kiely, the president of the Elizabeth St. Garden, due to the Little Italy Special Zoning District, if affordable housing were to be built on the garden, the only open space would be in the rear, since building walls must come out to the street — to provide a continuous, uniform street

Local kids, like this girl at a worm release, love the Elizabeth St. Garden.

wall — under the special district’s rules. They both said that this would never work for open space, since, for starters, people wouldn’t really want to use it, and, second, if they did, the residents in the new building would only complain about the noise. “It won’t work as both” a site for housing and open space, Bergman told The Villager. “I think if you talk to most people in the community, they want the open space [to be preserved].” Indeed, in February 2014, more than 140 Little Italy and Soho residents turned out at a C.B. 2 full-board meeting to support saving the garden. The board voted overwhelmingly, with only two “No” votes, to safeguard the garden, while pledging to search for other sites for the affordable housing. “Hudson St. is a better site,” Bergman said, speaking this week. “You have the ability to rezone that area. It’s across the street from the Hudson Square rezoning.” And, as opposed to low-scale Little Italy, the Hudson St. site is surrounded by tall buildings, he noted, such as the sizable Carpenters Union building, the huge federal building and the enormous Saatchi & Saatchi building. Also, indoor recreation facilities could be included in the new housing project, as a sort of annex to the nearby Dapolito Recreation Center, he added. The Elizabeth St. Garden, which has been open to the public for two years now, is 100 percent staffed by volunteers. On Sat., May 30, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., they’ll be celebrating in the garden to mark the second anniversary of its volunteer movement. There will be a cookout, pot luck food, live music and a post box in which people can leave their “love letters” to the garden, plus hula hooping, hopscotch and much more. Preserving the garden is an absolute priority for C.B. 2.

“The Elizabeth St. Garden is a miracle in terms of just offering space and light in the middle of a very dense neighborhood,” Bergman said. “Also, its history is one of open space — until 1975 there was a school there and that school had a very large schoolyard. The school was there since 1903, so for more than a century there was a historical precedent of open space.” Meanwhile, Soho and Little Italy currently have only 3 square feet of open space per person, Kiely said at last week’s C.B. 2 meeting as she gave a report on the garden. Standing next to her, a fellow garden activist held up a sorry-looking square of green to illustrate just how little open space the neighborhood has per capita. The Friends of Elizabeth Garden has also just released its annual report. In addition to Kiely as president, the garden group’s chairperson is Kent Barwick, former president of the Municipal Art Society. The garden offers a full slate of free programs, from yoga, art classes and movies to educational activities for kids, like worm releases, gardening and more. However, Councilmember Chin isn’t sold — at least not yet — that the Hudson St. site is the better solution. In a statement, she said, “When we have an opportunity to build 100 percent affordable housing within what is currently one of the city’s least affordable areas, I think we need to embrace it. We have that opportunity on Elizabeth St., and we can make it happen while preserving open space for the neighborhood. That’s why H.P.D. made an affordable housing commitment on this site back in 2012, and it’s why I’ve continued that discussion. I’ve worked hard to help build and preserve affordable housing in Chinatown, Soho, the Lower East Side and throughout our district — and I’m always proud to continue that work.” But what about the fact that all the open space would be crammed into an uninviting “courtyard” in back of the affordable housing? A Chin spokesperson responded, “There is no finalized proposal yet and there are multiple potential configurations for that.” For more information about that concern, he said H.P.D. should be contacted. The spokesperson added that Chin can’t comment on the idea to put the affordable housing at the Hudson St. location since it’s not in her City Council district. But Bergman said that Chin does represent part of Community Board 2 — so constituents from her Council district could stand to get units in a new project there. The board would advocate for 50 percent of the units to be earmarked for C.B. 2 residents. TheVillager.com


THE BLEECKER STREET Art and Commerce Festival Sunday May 31st 2015 Join Pop Up New York Events, and the people of Greenwich Village, to celebrate and raise funds for The Jefferson Market Garden. Artists and Artisans along with Food and Beverage Purveyors, will line Bleecker Street from Hudson to Christopher Streets. Sunday, May 31st from 11am until 5pm

Bleecker Street Hudson to Christopher Streets TheVillager.com

11am until 5pm

Sunday 5/31 May 28, 2015

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De Blasio brings new focus and funding to NYCHA NYCHA, continued from p. 1

PHOTO BY GERARD FLYNN

make its own way in ensuring the financial future of NYCHA, which comprises about 8 percent of the city’s rental housing, de Blasio said at a May 19 press conference announcing a plan called Next Generation NYCHA. “This is, at this moment, the worst financial crisis in the history of NYCHA,” he said. That’s what these years of disinvestment have taken us to. And I say that with pain.” He added that his administration has already taken several measures to relieve some pressure from authority finances by waiving the fees NYCHA pays for police services — a $70 million annual savings — or property taxes to the city — a $30 million annual savings. About $300 million in capital funds were committed for capital repairs and safety. The plan aims to save $4.6 billion in repair needs over the next decade, according to de Blasio. “So we’re going from an organization that’s one month away from going over the edge, in terms of its expense budget, to one that, over the next decade, will produce a $230 million surplus,” he added. There are 15 elements of the plan organized into four overall goals: achieving financial stability, operational efficiency, building and maintaining affordable housing, and improving services for tenants. NYCHA will make efforts to improve its rent-collection rate from its current level of about 75 percent. Parking at developments will increase

The Alfred Smith Houses is one of a number of large public housing complexes in the Lower East Side and East Village.

toward market rates. Tenants’ concerns will now be processed via 311 as part of the process of shifting 10,000 NYCHA employees to other city agencies. About 13,000 units of new housing will be created, most of which are intended to be nearly 100 percent affordable housing, while some will have market-rate tenants in order to raise revenue for the authority.

New partnerships among city agencies and community groups will allow the authority to concentrate more on its core mission of housing provision rather than social services, according to the plan. The location of the new developments will be announced in August. Councilmember Corey Johnson expressed support in a statement for the plan. “NYCHA residents have been treated like second-class citizens for too long,” he said. “No tenant should have to wait several months or longer for basic repairs. No child should have to play on broken playgrounds and no senior should have to walk on cracked pavement.” Even when repairs are made, they are often shoddy, said Chante Smith, a resident of the Baruch Houses on the Lower East Side. One plumbing repair resulted in a big hole in a wall, offering a prime opportunity for rats to scurry through the building, she recalled. Weeks can go by unless a situation is so dire that it must be addressed immediately, such as in the case of flooded apartments, said Jessica Vasquez, another Baruch resident. Sixty percent of NYCHA buildings are more than 50 years old. James Johnson, a longtime resident of the Baruch Houses, said management at the aging complex needs to improve. Johnson said that he had a toilet that when flushed would flood his bathtub. But if tenants try to make their own repairs it only results in management holding a grudge against them, he said. “It’s f----- up,” he said. “It needs help.”

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May 28, 2015

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POLICE BLOTTER iPhone muggers Three men teamed up to allegedly rob a 30-year-old of a $400 iPhone 5 on Sun., May 24. The victim was walking to the subway at about 4:45 a.m. when he got jumped near the southeast corner of W. Fourth St. and Seventh Ave. South. He suffered multiple contusions and cuts to the face, which required treatment at the nearby Lenox Hill HealthPlex. Police arrested three suspects, Andrew Robinson, 23; Steven Robinson, 22; and Dwayne Webster, 28, charging all three with felony robbery.

PATH to arrest An ironic tattoo helped police track down a suspect who recognized an opportunity to steal when he saw one. A New Jersey man was waiting for the PATH train at W. 14th St. and Sixth Ave. just after 10 p.m. on Thurs., May 21, when someone removed his iPhone before fleeing. Video surveillance provided a description of the suspect, who had a clown face tattoo with the words: “Laugh Now, Cry Later.” Divene Sanabria, 20, matched the description and was arrested by a responding unit. He copped to the crime by stating to police that, “Yeah, I took the phone. The guy was wasted,” according to a police report. Sanabria promptly sold the phone to an unidentified individual on the street. No proceeds were recovered,

police said. The homeless perpetrator was charged with felony grand larceny.

Loosie raid Police executed a search warrant inside of 200 W. 14th St. on Wed., May 20. They found a quantity of Virginia tax-stamped cigarettes there and arrested Moussad Elgahmi, 20. The Yemen native was charged with misdemeanor possession and selling of unstamped cigarettes.

Baruch elevator rob On Fri., May 8, around 1:30 a.m., three females followed a 34-year-old woman inside the lobby of 120 Columbia St. in the Baruch Houses, and continued to follow her inside the elevator. Once inside the elevator, they assaulted her while forcibly removing her earrings and bracelet, then fled to parts unknown, according to police. The victim refused medical attention. The perpetrators were all described as Hispanic. One was about 5-feet-2 and 100 pounds, with brown eyes and long, brown curly hair. The second suspect was about 5-feet-5 and 135 pounds, in her early 20s, with brown eyes and long, brown curly hair. The third was about 5 feet tall, 120 pounds, also in her early 20s, with brown eyes and long, blonde hair. One woman wore a white hoodie and another wore a black hoodie with a large green Under Armour

logo on the chest. Anyone with information is asked to call the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS. Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting them to 274637(CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.

Laptop liquid hit On Sat., May 16, around 3 a.m., according to police, a male entered the front door of 138 East Broadway, walked up to the second floor where a computer and Web design business is located and removed $50 in cash, head phones and poured an unknown liquid onto a laptop. The suspect then left the location. The suspect is described as a young male Asian, wearing eyeglasses and holding a book bag. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline. All tips are confidential.

Way too touchy A Brazil native allegedly would not keep his hands off a female patron at the recently reopened Le Souk Harem, at 510 La Guardia Place. He reportedly grabbed a 24-year-old woman’s buttocks several times as she repeatedly told him to stop. She told him one last time to stop harassing her. The man allegedly then

punched her in the face at about 4:35 a.m. on Sun., May 24. The victim went outside and flagged down a police car. The man’s buddy then allegedly grabbed and interfered with two officers who were trying to arrest the groper, police said. Nicholas Coelho was arrested and charged with obstruction of government administration. Wanderson Dasilva was charged with misdemeanor forcible touching.

Punchy pickpocket A 25-year-old man enjoying a latenight snack in front of 72 Christopher St. felt a hand in his pocket on Wed., May 20, around 2:15 a.m. He turned around and saw that another man was trying to remove his wallet. But the pickpocket challenged his mark. “You wanna fight for it?” the perpetrator reportedly asked. “I’ll f--k you up,” he added, according to a police report. The perpetrator then began rummaging through the wallet before informing the victim, “I’m taking something from this.” He punched the victim when he tried to get his billfold back, the fled on foot. Police arrived and arrested Brooklyn resident Hasson Woods, 23, charging him with felony robbery. The wallet, a MetroCard and $77 in cash were returned to the victim, police said.

Zach Williams and Lincoln Anderson

Concern still high over plan to increase heights ZONING, continued from p. 1

a presentation from the city Department of Planning on how the effort to update contextual zoning would affect its neighborhoods. Contextual zoning regulates the height, width, setback from street and other elements determining the proportions of what is known as the “building envelope.” Board 4 members remained skeptical at a May 18 joint meeting of the Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen Land Use Committees that the effort would result in more good than harm despite changes to the plan announced at the meeting. A previous version of the department’s scheme would have increased permitted building heights in the neighborhood in several areas. Four TheVillager.com

contextual zoning districts within the area bordered by Sixth and Eighth Aves. from W. 14th to W 23rd Sts. would have received increases of 10 feet for new buildings. But changes presented to C.B. 4 removed that proposed increase. Another type of zoning in Chelsea would have new building heights increase by 5 feet, according to current plans. That same type of zoning would allow increased heights of 25 feet for the construction of senior and inclusionary housing in an area now allowing buildings up to 120 feet, according to City Planning. C.B. 4 members reiterated at the meeting previously stated concerns that the proposed changes undermine years of work invested in the board’s own neighborhood housing plan. Some members also said that

while certain proposed height increases are more modest now, City Planning still wants to permit even greater heights for inclusionary and senior housing on the West Side. Proposed construction projects in historic districts and for individually designated landmarks would still fall under the purview of the city Landmarks Preservation Commission. Special districts in Hell’s Kitchen and West Chelsea could have heights boosted by either 25 or 30 feet if the new buildings include senior or inclusionary housing, according to City Planning. Current regulations allow such buildings to only reach a height of 120 or 145 feet. Current regulations for such socalled contextual zoning districts were set in 1987. This zoning’s intent was to make new buildings conform

to neighborhoods’ overall architectural character — with firm height caps being an integral element of maintaining that objective. Building practices and other regulations have changed since then, according to the agency. For example, City Planning officials say, floor-toceiling heights have increased, additional infrastructure such as fire sprinklers further crowd space between building stories. The current attention on contextual-zoning districts is one element of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing by 2024. Public review of the proposed text amendment will likely begin later this summer. City Planning’s proposal will ultimately require the City Council’s approval. May 28, 2015

9


C.B. 2 members pound loud music in Wash. Sq.; MUSIC, continued from p. 1

d a l g h a y t Arch ’n r u o y g n i d a to be re ? r e p a p s w e n y t i n u m m co Don’t miss a single issue! ! r e g la il V e h T o t e ib r c s b Su Call 646-452-2475 10

May 28, 2015

FILE PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

limit music in Washington Square could potentially blow up in the board’s face. However, some leading board members say that the problem of noisy drums and late-night music has simply gotten out of hand, and that there have numerous complaints about it. A particular concern is that music being played at higher volumes — even if unamplified — is overpowering the acoustic folk music for which the park has traditionally been known. “On the one hand, there’s nothing we treasure more than freedom of expression in Washington Square Park,” stated Tobi Bergman, C.B. 2 chairperson, who grew up playing in the historic park as a kid. “On the other hand, when people can go into Washington Square Park and play very loud music, others playing quiet acoustic music can’t really do it because they’re drowned out. “At what point,” Bergman asked, “is protecting the freedom of expression of a small number of people actually preventing the freedom of expression of a much larger number of people who are being drowned out? “Percussive instruments, by their very nature — including the piano

— do tend to drown out other instruments, particularly guitars and banjos and people singing folks songs,” he noted. Another factor coloring board leaders’ thinking is that the high-profile loud acts are commercial, meaning they are busking, or collecting money, for their performances. “This is something that happens in the world anyway,” Bergman noted. “Very commercialized culture tends to drown out noncommercialized culture — which is why we so treasure the traditional, noncommercial culture of Washington Square Park.” Tic and Tac, the popular tumbling and standup comedy buskers, are accompanied by a drummer on a drum set, Bergman noted. Of course, any discussion about restricting music in Washington Square is likely to bring up the First Amendment and the protection of freedom of expression. Bergman, however, said, “I’m not 100 percent persuaded that people have a right to use public parks for commercial purposes. I’m not taking a position on that — but I’m not sure that expressing a position gives a person the right to do commercial activity in the park. “I can’t say I know what the solu-

Coyote & Crow jamming in Washington Square Park in April. An acoustic string band, they also use a suitcase bass “drum,” played with a foot pedal, but no one seems to be complaining that it’s too loud.

tion is, but there is a solution,” he assured. In a nutshell, the crux of the problem is music that is “too loud, too constant,” he said. The Parks Department a few years ago tried to crack down on busking and art vending in Washington Square Park with a series of new rules, but in the face of opposition, “backtracked,” Bergman noted. The June 3 committee meeting will allow for multiple points of view on the issue to be aired, out of which, it’s hoped some consensus ideas will emerge, the board chairperson said. “That’s what community boards are good at,” he noted, “trying to come up with those solutions.” Giving insight into where some of the stakeholders stand on the issue, the C.B. 2 Executive Committee meeting notes state, “The Parks Department will support a quiet area in the park and possible hours of limitation but won’t take the lead against music in the park. There’s a complex debate because of constitutionality / freedom of speech. Assemblymember Deborah Glick doesn’t want to restrict music and doesn’t want the debate to lead to locking the park at night. Washington Square Park is the only park without gates and this means a great deal to the community. ... No one wants

to change the spirit of Washington Square Park, but the noise is impacting quality of life for passive park use and surrounding residents.” Rich Caccappolo, chairperson of the C.B. 2 Parks and Waterfront Committee, said there have been complaints, specifically about loud, unamplified music, “trumpets at 8 in the morning, drums at 10 o’clock at night — or something like drums.” “We understand that people have a right to express themselves,” Caccappollo said, “but not necessarily at the expense of someone far away from them. “There have been ideas about what times music can be played,” he said, “quiet areas, what types of instruments can be played in certain parts of the park. “Some of the most passionate people on this issue are fans of folk musicians, who just feel it’s been drowned out by very loud music.” There are rules pertaining to amplified music, he noted, in that permits are required. But drums and other loud, unamplified instruments also need to be monitored, he said. Asked exactly how many people have complained to him or the board about loud music in WashingBOARD 2, continued on p.11 TheVillager.com


May push for new rules MUSIC, continued from p. 10

ton Square Park, Caccappolo said he couldn’t put a number on it. But he said the complaints are being voiced at the committee’s meetings by his fellow committee members, who are hearing the noise for themselves, as well as being told about it by others — whether they be local residents, parkgoers visiting from outside the neighborhood or folk musicians. Asked if the new Washington Square Park Conservancy is pushing for music regulations, Caccappolo answered, “No, I haven’t had a single conversation with them at all.” He noted that, a few years ago, there was a problem with loud music in Father Demo Square, at Bleecker St. and Sixth Ave., where Colin Huggins, “The Crazy Piano Guy,” used to play his grand piano around the illuminated fountain in the evenings. A pretty setting, for sure, but the piano’s sound reverberated too loudly in the small square. So, community activists — including David Gruber, the former C.B. 2 chairperson, who lives nearby — prevailed on Huggins to stick to Washington Square. Bergman actually thinks Huggins’s playing can be a bit loud. But Caccappolo said Huggins doesn’t play in Washington Square Park either very early in the morning or late at night, and so doesn’t seem to be a problem. “People don’t seem to really complain about him,” he said. “I do think he had a tougher time in Father Demo.” The big issue, as Caccappolo sees it, are the beats — as in, the drums. “I mean, I was walking through the park a few times this past weekend, and you could hear the drums throughout the park,” he said, “whether you were on MacDougal St. or all the way on the east side of the park, or even if you walked down a block away from the park or on Fifth Ave. There was one real drum set and someone else was playing other equipment.” Caccappolo, like Bergman, feels Parks is currently reluctant to enforce against overly loud, unamplified music in the park. “I think Tobi’s right, the Parks Department has backed off,” Caccappolo said. “In that sense, the pendulum has swung too far. Right now, it’s laissez-fair, hands-off.” He said he wonders if PEP officers know how to correctly use their sound meters to check if music is exceeding permitted decibel levels. Nearly a year ago, C.B. 2, in a resolution from Caccappolo’s committee, complained about skateboarding, bike riding and loud music in Washington Square. But, Caccappolo said, it’s not clear that, following that resTheVillager.com

olution, enforcement was ratcheted up too much by Parks Enforcement Patrol officers. So, in addition to possibly drafting a resolution after the June 2 meeting, he said, another option could be to create a task force to delve into the issue on a more sustained basis. In short, he would like to see some more-concrete results this time. But what exactly will emerge from the committee meeting remains to be seen at this point. “If there’s a uniform perspective coming out of this, and any other good ideas, we would do a resolution and might form a task force,” Caccappolo said. A resolution would also “give Parks a sense of how the community feels” on the issue, he added. The subject of drums in the park flared up in summer 2009. Back then, local activist Gil Horowitz recalled that in the late 1950s or early ’60s, some drums were actually banned in Washington Square. “Bongos were permitted. Congas were prohibited — because of the deep percussive sound,” he said. Plus, he noted, “Under Ed Koch as mayor, half the park was a quiet zone.” Koch, however, at that time told The Villager that he did not recall any quiet zone or conga ban. “We’re getting more complaints about that than anything,” Horowitz said six years ago about drumming in the park. “More than the drug dealing — even more than the skateboarding on the new polished-granite benches.” Koch went as far as to tell The Villager that drums should be banned in parks. “I’m against drumming in any local park,” said Hizzoner, who lived on Fifth Ave. right off the park. “I think that disturbs in an unreasonable way people who come to enjoy the park. I am for folk singing. … “You can’t dream when people are drumming,” Koch said. “Parks are supposed to be places where people can dream and smell the flowers.” When C.B. 2 Chairperson Bergman used to play punch ball in Washington Square Park as a kid, there were no full-on drummers or “Crazy Piano Guys” pounding out classical or pop music on grand pianos on wheels. “Oh yeah, there was none of that then,” Bergman said. “The most that I remember were small groups of people sitting around playing guitar.” What about the fight over bongos and congas back then that Horowitz remembered, but that Koch played down? Maybe the drummers were there, Bergman said, but he just didn’t notice. “When you’re young, you don’t mind those things,” he said.

Take Charge of Your Health Today! 4th Annual Community Health Forum: “Listen to Your Heart”

Sponsored by New York University and VillageCare

Wednesday, June 3, 2015 11:00 am to 2:00 pm Free and open to the public.

Moderated by Dr. Max Gomez CBS Emmy award-winning TV medical reporter

A panel of expert health care professionals will address: * Understanding how the heart affects our physical and mental health * Preventing, recognizing, and learning ways to reduce stress * Incorporating nutrition and exercise into your daily life to reduce your risk for heart disease * Learning practical ways to develop your own program of heart healthiness

NYU Kimmel Center Rosenthal Pavilion 60 Washington Sq. South, 10th Floor RSVP at (212) 992-7323 NYU Office of Civic Engagement Closed Captioning Available

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May 28, 2015

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Saving the soul, sights...and smells...of Soho BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

S

PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

oho has a unique and fascinating history as a renowned artists’ enclave that was carved out of a dying manufacturing zone. But now the last vestiges of that arts colony are, in turn, fading fast, trampled asunder by the feet of millions of shopping tourists as the district has morphed into a glitzy designer-goods destination. Yukie Ohta, who grew up in the area when it was being settled by artists, and who still lives there today, is earnestly trying to retain some of that history through The Soho Memory Project. So far, it has only existed as a blog. But now her goal is to create a mobile, pop-up display cart — and, in the long term, hopefully secure a storefront location. On May 7, Ohta held a launch party in a Greene St. loft for a Kickstarter campaign to raise $20,000 to create the mobile display. She reached the amount with four days to spare, with 139 backers having contributed $20,260 as of this past Monday. The cart will be designed by The Uni Project, a nonprofit group devoted to pop-up learning experiences around the city. Uni Project currently uses a cart with book-laden shelves to encourage reading in public places like Tompkins Square Park. “I would like The Soho Memory Project to eventually have a permanent physical space,” Ohta said, “a historical society where people can come to learn more about our neighborhood, where we could hold public programs and exhibitions and house an archive and digital gallery. But before I can apply for grants to sustain a permanent home for The Soho Memory Project, I need to have something tangible to show funders that demonstrates my knowledge and commitment. So this mobile exhibition is a starting point, not an end goal.” The Kickstarter cash also will be used to create the initial display to be featured on the cart, which

Yukie Ohta models a Viewmaster containing photos from one of three distinct eras of Soho from the cart’s “History” section.

it is hoped will be rolled out between fall 2015 and spring 2016. To chronicle Soho’s evolution from rural farmland to high-end retail hub, Ohta — who is a trained archivist — uses unconventional media. At the launch party, a bookshelves-style Uni cart featured in one cubbyhole Viewmasters loaded with photos form Soho’s different eras. Another section featured a “smell station” with three jars. One with pepper in it was meant to evoke the pepper factory that used to be on West Broadway, Ohta

‘We all played with factory surplus.’ Yukie Ohta

PHOTO COURTESY THE SOHO MEMORY PROJECT

Other parts of the cart feature a “Home” section, with information on how to build a loft, and a “Food” section about the restaurant of the same name. TheVillager.com

explained, as she sniffed it for effect. Another was labeled “Bakery,” and contained a somewhat artificial-smelling white pastry mix. “There used to be industrial baking,” Ohta said, “not croissants — like Little Debbie.” A third jar held small strips of leather. “Where Balthazar is there were a lot of leather businesses,” Ohta said. Back in the 1970s and ’80s, there was also a lot of detritus left on the sidewalks by all the manufacturing places. Ohta picked up a large cardboard tube. “These things — we had hours of fun,” she said, swooping it around as a sword, then looking through it like a telescope. From a plastic bin, she picked up one of a bunch of plastic doll heads discarded from a long-since-defunct doll factory. “We all played with factory surplus,” she said. Perched on another part of the cart was a D.I.Y. binder, “How To Make a Loft,” that Ohta put together. Creating walls around the bathroom was

one of the key first steps, she noted with a grin. A small-scale wooden model illustrated a toilet sitting on a palett without walls. There was also a black-and-white photo print that Stanley and Julie Patz — the parents of Etan Patz — gave her showing their raw loft space before they renovated it. “The idea that you could live and work in the same place was very revolutionary,” Ohta noted of Soho’s joint live-work quarters zoning that was specifically created for artists. Another binder she made is an homage to Food, the groundbreaking restaurant that ran from 1971-’74. “They had an open kitchen, fresh ingredients,” Ohta recalled. “It was the first of its kind.” Assuming she is able to get a physical space, she hopes to also use it to house the project’s archives, which are growing. People give her their own archives, she noted. In short, Ohta’s project will embody Soho residents’ memories of living life on mostly empty sidewalks and in enormous lofts, and the special community that once was. “When I was growing up here, I remember walking down desolate streets,” she said. “There were no stores or restaurants, but I felt safe because everyone who lived here knew each other. I learned how to ride a bike in my house. And I also often slept in my coat because we didn’t have heat after 5 p.m. “When people think of Soho today, they think of high-end shopping and expensive lofts. Nobody thinks of it as a tightknit community where children roamed free and people actually knew and liked their neighbors. That was the Soho of my childhood. That was the Soho out of which ideas such as the adaptive reuse of buildings and loft living were born, ideas that influence how we live today. “Soho currently has no neighborhood society dedicated to preserving its history, and I think it deserves one!” Ohta declared. “If we preserve Soho’s past,” she said, “present generations will understand our neighborhood’s rich history, and this understanding will inform how we all shape its future.” For more on the Soho Memory Project, visit www.sohomemory.com May 28, 2015

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PHOTO BY MILO HESS

Still fighting — just to stay alive SCENE

About two weeks before Memorial Day, a Marine Corps veteran’s sign at 14th St. and Seventh Ave. offered a sad commentary on the fate of far too many who have served their country.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Shut down nuke plant

Broadway sign bummer

To The Editor: Re “Fire is latest flashpoint at nuclear power plant” (news article, May 21): Well, I didn’t get arrested for nothing on Aug. 6, 1979, when I and others took part in a civil disobedience protest at the nuke plant at Indian Point. I still say, “Shut it down now.” I wonder where have all the anti-nukers gone.

To The Editor: Day after day, month after month, year after year, I have been crossing Broadway at Eighth St. Passersby frequently ask me where Broadway is. I tell them that they are on Broadway, and that if they walk a block north or a block south, they will see a sign telling them so. There are signs at that corner saying “E. 8th St.” Once in a while, a sign appears saying “Broadway,” but then it vanishes. The city

Aron Kay a.k.a. The Yippie Pie Man

IRA BLUTREICH

Only a sucker believes the employment reports. 14

May 28, 2015

ought to signs put up signs saying “Broadway” at that intersection and keep them there. George Jochnowitz

M11 bus driving me crazy! To The Editor: The night of May 17 was just another example of the fact that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority really doesn’t care about its customers — especially seniors. As for the M11 route, which ventures north from Bethune and Greenwich Sts. to Ninth Ave. and W. 14th St. and Tenth Ave., the service seems worse than ever! On May 17, I arrived at the M11 bus stop at W. 46th St. and Ninth Ave. at 10:45 p.m. Some 30 minutes later, with two other potential passengers still waiting — one told me she had been there more than 20 minutes when I arrived — here comes a bus. All hopes were high!  But its sign read: “NEXT BUS PLEASE.” To make matters worse, the driver gave us two honks. Just what we needed. Finally, at around 11:30 p.m., Bus No. 6415 arrived. Before boarding, I announced how long I’d been waiting, plus the two others who had LETTERS, continued on p. 16 TheVillager.com


Bodegas and mom-and-pop shops nourish our lives RHYMES WITH CRAZY BY LENORE SKENAZY

I

t is the place you can grab a gallon of milk or a can of frosting at midnight, but is it possible it is also one of those amazingly New York things that, like Central Park, makes us all a little calmer and happier? The bodega is what we’re talking about today: That humble store, often as tall as it is wide, stocked with every item you didn’t expect to find there. (Except you sort of did, or why’d you go there in the first place?) Muffins mummified in cling wrap, plantain chips both salted and un, Hershey bars slightly reshaped by global (or at least store) warming — all these are staples at the typical mom-and-pop bodega. But you can also find these staples — cheaper, bigger, less lumpy — at the local supermarket, which is often just a block or two further. So why would anyone patronize the dinky little deli when there is a bona fide grocery right across the street? “Speed!” says Bill Dysel, an opera singer and tech manual writer. (Yes. Both.) “I often run into my local bo-

dega, pay, and get out within 60 seconds. At the grocery everything has to be scanned and there are long lines. Somehow bodega cashiers always know what everything costs from memory.” “And it’s across the street!” says Brooklyn’s Isabel Kraut, a mom of two. Convenience is the key. “You can send your kid to get milk without any wayward glances,” adds another mom, Liz Gustafson. There’s also something of the scavenger hunt about the bodega. You go in there and think, “They can’t possibly have a strawberry syrup.” Or, “I don’t want to go to the supermarket just for one package of onion soup mix.” And then you look way, way, waaaaay up on the shelf

— and there it is! Maybe slightly past its sell-by date. Maybe 29 cents more than at the grocery. But still. Score. But even beyond the speed and clown-car quality of being stuffed with a million items you can’t believe all fit, there is another draw. “The cat!” says Eileen Mullin, a Web designer in Rego Park. Well, yes, but beyond that, too. I’m talking about the two-footed friends. The people. “I’ve run to my local bodegas to grab sodas or snacks a few times and realized I didn’t have enough cash on me. And rather than run to the ATM and back, the owners — who know me as a regular — have let it go with the promise that I’ll bring back the full amount the next day,” says Inwood’s Jena Tesse Fox, a writer. “You can’t do that in a supermarket.” “On Monday when I needed an avocado, I went to get one at the bodega and the owner said, ‘They’re not so good, but they’re the only ones we have today,’ ” reports social researcher Marla Sherman. She skipped the purchase, but that is the way bodega owners win hearts. They’re on our side. “When I lived on 10th St., I liked the bodega on Second Ave. and 10th because they would feed snacks to Dooley — little pieces of turkey,” says journalist Adrienne Press. Dooley was her basset hound. Homemade food also lures us in. In

the backroom or upstairs, some grandma is making pakoras, or tacos. I was in an East Elmhurst bodega the other day that sold homemade glazed fruit. And the smells are irresistible, too. “At the bodega on my corner, they always seem to be making bacon,” says lawyer Diane Glass. She keeps kosher, but it’s not verboten to pass by and sniff! As the years go by and relationships deepen, the family bodega owners become our extended family, too. “When my mom had a severe stroke, the owner of the local mini-market saw me through his window, walking home from the hospital in tears,” marketing consultant Amanda Hass recalls. “It’s a bit of a blur, but he made sure I had food. And, years later, he made the platters to feed folks after she died. He let me ‘borrow’ his best worker to help me move her belongings. Twice. So hell yeah, I don’t mind paying a premium.” When you live in a city where the people who sell you your gum also lend you money, love your dog, and see you through life’s biggest transitions, you live in a city that cushions the slings and arrows of daily life. Let us raise a cup of $1 coffee, then, to the very best bodega in New York City. The one down your block. Skenazy is a public speaker and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids”

Johnson takes a new ‘can-do’ approach to trash

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n Tuesday, City Councilmember Corey Johnson was joined by Kathryn Garcia, commissioner of the Department of Sanitation, at the corner of W. 14th St. and Eighth Ave. to unveil new “big belly”-style trash cans and tout increased collection times for his Council District 3 (West Village, Hudson Square, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen). Johnson allocated nearly $70,000 to provide the new trash cans at key intersections throughout the district, including three intersections along W. 23rd St.; at W. 14th St. and Eighth Ave.; at Christopher St. and Seventh Ave. South; at Bleecker and Carmine Sts. and also Cornelia St.; and at Leroy St. and Seventh Ave. South and also Bleecker St. Additional pickup service started last September, including the area between Seventh and 10th TheVillager.com

Aves., from 14th St. to 23rd St., on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. “We worked hard to pinpoint the areas that were in need of new heavy-duty bins, as well as increased service,” Johnson said. “After consultation with constituents, block associations and community boards, I am proud to say that 32 new trash bins have been installed at street corners across District 3.” Garcia added, “The Department of Sanitation is pleased to partner with Councilmember Johnson to provide additional high-end litter baskets and additional collection services that will enhance the cleanliness of busy Manhattan streets. I’d like to thank Councilmember Johnson for his continuing commitment, and we look forward to working with him in the years to come.”

Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, left, and Councilmember Corey Johnson unveiled a new “big belly”-style trash can at W. 14th St. and Eighth Ave.

May 28, 2015

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PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

‘I woke up in a Soho doorway...’ (no, that other Soho) Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who rocked Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Tuesday night May 26. Their 1965 smash hit about teen rebellion, “My Generation,” famously features the sneering lyric “Hope I die before I get old.” But at 71 and 70, the duo are still consummate showmen, with Townshend doing his famous windmill guitar strum and Daltrey starting the show by flinging out his microphone, then reeling it back in by the cord. However, their current “The Who Hits 50!” tour is, according to Daltrey, admittedly the “start of the long goodbye” for the defining British rock band.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR LETTERS, continued from p. 14

been waiting. “Where have you been?” I asked. The driver responded, “You don’t want to know about my day!” From pickup to Horatio St., with the driver actually speeding! — he must have been close to getting off work! — I was at my stop at 11:50 p.m. I don’t know how bad his day could have been. It was late on a Sunday, and traffic was flowing. Who rides these buses? A lot of seniors, who have some problems. And long waits only exasperate the situation. Why can’t service be more reliable? The M.T.A. has added an M12 bus that goes up the West Side Highway to Columbus Circle.  I’ve ridden that bus three times, once in the late morning and twice in the early afternoon. On two of those rides I was the only passenger; on another one, I was one of two! What service is this bus providing?  And why can’t some of those empty ones be used on the M11 route instead of crossing 42nd St. empty?

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May 28, 2015

I am always puzzled that the M11 never earns a spot on the “longest wait” lists. Unless one is very lucky, waits are up to 40 minutes. This is a disgrace in a city such as New York City. A puzzling disgrace! And the bus is supposed to have a dedicated lane. Why doesn’t the city enforce this? And why do the buses have to creep along at five miles an hour? Many Third World cities I’ve worked in have far superior bus service. And yet the M.T.A. does nothing! Nothing! How about finally doing something!   Ellis Nassour

fountain — the sidewalks around the park remain in disrepair. You would think New York University, given its proximity to the park and its eagerness to “improve” our neighborhood with its park-stealing N.Y.U. 2031 building program, would have asked for repairs. Why is the de Blasio administration not fixing our infrastructure? So when, oh when, will someone in authority order the repairs? Or should we all be delighted that our Village is going to pot? Sylvia Rackow Rackow is chairperson, Committee to Preserve Our Neighborhood

Fix Wash. Sq. sidewalks!

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.

To The Editor: Our Village is going to pot. Our streets are filled with unfilled potholes that remain unfilled.  Even worse, after all that money they spent to fix Washington Square Park — and even moved the

TheVillager.com


The All-New Adventures of an Aging Urban Elf Rev. Jen on trudging through life with creativity and grace BY REVEREND JEN (rev-jen.com)

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his morning, I had a conversation with my boyfriend, Joe, which went something like this:

Me: I would really love a burrito from Puebla Coffee Shop. Joe: It’s closed. Me: We could go to Benny’s Burrittos. Joe: It’s closed. Me: A falafel from Bereket? Joe: Closed. I wish we could go to Olympic Diner. Me: Closed. I wish we could go to Jade Liquor. Joe: Closed. Me: I know! Let’s go to the bank! They’re all still open. (We both fall back asleep.)

TheVillager.com

PHOTO BY JOE HEAPS NELSON

No doubt, the city is changing. I moved here when I was 18. I’m now 42 and a lot of the things I once loved in New York City have vanished (including dudes), replaced with banks, unaffordable bars and luxury housing. Don’t mean to overstate the obvious, but every day that I walk into my bathroom, it amazes me no one’s installed an ATM next to the toilet. But what am I gonna do? Move? Hell no! As a New Yorker, it’s my duty to stay here and bitch about pretty much everything. I’m also changing, physically and philosophically. I realize that due to medical science and advanced cosmetology, 42 isn’t that old. However, when you are a female and in showbiz, the world treats you as if you age in dog years. Maybe,

L to R: Reverend Jen Junior, Reverend Jen and Tina Trachtenburg defy age while doing their part to keep NYC weird.

if they do a remake of “Cocoon,” I can get a job as an unpaid extra and that’s actually about it. But really, I’m not that vain, though I would like to have my face Botoxed to a point where I look like a plastic Mattel version of myself. I’d like to have ass fat removed and used to make prosthetic elf ears, then have my ass remodeled to look like a Kardashian’s. I want teeth whitening, laser facials and all grays erad-

icated from my scalp. But I can’t afford any of these things so I remind myself that lions don’t dye their hair and they are the most beautiful animals on earth. Of course they’ll all likely be extinct in 40 years, and I write this while staring at a bottle of hair dye on my vanity. Aging is confounding but the payoff is in sight. When I was younger, I thought the world owed me something. Now that I am old-

er I realize I owe the world something. This is a sentiment shared by four of my best friends, all of whom recently turned 50. So this is a column for them, about transformation, aging and the wisdom that comes from realizing that, even if you live to be 100, your life is already half over! Tina Trachtenburg, Bruce Ronn, Tom Tenney and Faceboy have all reached this pivotal year, trudging through the shit-show of life with aplomb, creativity and grace. All are involved in projects that make New York City fun despite the fun police (landlords) trying to ruin everything. Let’s start with Tina Trachtenburg — who I first met years ago when she came to my open mike with her daughter, Rachel and her husband, Jason. They were the “Trachtenburg Slide Show Family Players,” the first unsigned band to ever perform on “Conan” and three of the coolest people I ever met. They invited me to be their opening act because, as Tina said, “You are so weird you make our family look normal.” We traveled the country together and eventually London, where I was gossiped about even more than I am here. All three are animal rights activists who don’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk. Tina spent the winter building cat shelters out of storage boxes, which she insulated and provided with tunnels so the kittehs could enter and exit. She also just took a course on trap/ neuter and release to help control the stray population and thus save many a kitteh from doom. I met up with Tina in Washington Square, where she’s turned her REV JEN, continued on p.18 May 28, 2015

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With creativity and drive, aging art stars keep on truckin’ REV JEN, continued from p. 17

May 28, 2015

Bonnie Hall and her half-century-old son in Washington Square Park, at Faceboy’s happy, healthy, family-oriented birthday party.

PHOTO BY GEORGE COURTNEY

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PHOTO BY GEORGE COURTNEY

passion for animals into art, selling handmade, felt-fabricated pigeon replicas of the winged New Yorkers to park-goers, thus garnering a bit of income while raising awareness about the oft-loathed species. “I always loved pigeons,” Tina said. “Ever since I moved here in the ‘80s. I didn’t understand the hatred. I have 20 pigeons on my roof. Some I’ve rehabilitated and released. Some I feed every day.” If you think of pigeons as “rats with wings” you might wanna Google “Cher Ami,” a female pigeon who saved more than 500 men in World War I. Or, just visit Tina in the park and she’ll school ya. (Note: Tina’s pigeon-themed art installation is mobile so check out her Twitter: @motherpigeon, her website: motherpigeon.com and Instagram: @motherpigeonbrooklyn for info on where she’ll be.) On to Bruce Ronn. If you read my last column, you know that he and I just started our own publishing imprint: Art Star Scene Press. We did this because we didn’t want to deal with big publishing companies who, today, would reject “Catcher in the Rye” or “On the Road” because they are stupid. The first title we put out is my filthy S&M novel, “June.” The second, soon-to-be-released novel, “Talking About the Weather,” is by Bruce and focuses on a character suffering through Chicago’s ‘95 heat wave. Check us out on Facebook. (We don’t know how to make a website!) For Bruce’s 50th birthday, I threw a 1965-themed party at the Troll Museum, where we listened to ‘60s music and dressed like Beatniks. (Oh wait…we always do that…) Anyway, several guests hopped into the bathtub, which draws visitors because it’s in my kitchen. They then regaled in a sing-along to “Eve of Destruction” — which was written in ‘65 along with pretty much every great song ever composed, including “Satisfaction.” Can I please time travel to ‘65 for undiluted acid and the absence of “American Idol?” Actually, ‘65 wasn’t exactly a trip to Cancun. Lyndon B. Johnson was in office and the Vietnam War was getting started. However, it’s appropriate that the party was held at the Troll Museum because Lady Bird Johnson was a troll collector. Tom Tenney: Yet another of my

Rev. Jen plays football with Walter, adorable spawn of Art Stars Tia and Warren.

friends who just turned 50 and ages like fine wine yet never slows down has launched a new, ambitious project along with Robert Prichard, producer of “Radical Vaudeville” and former proprietor of Surf Reality. The Bushwick-based Radio Free Brooklyn is an online station being broadcast from their studio in the basement of the Brooklyn-Velo Bike Shop on Dekalb Avenue, and can be heard on radiofreebrooklyn.com and mobile devices.

RFB offers both live and pre-recorded original programming created by the community of artists and performers that Tenney and Prichard have been a part of for decades. Some of the shows lined up for the first season include “Live from the Hipster Triangle,” hosted by comedian Liam McEneaney, “Lunch with Legs,” a live bi-weekly talk show hosted by burlesque artist Legs Malone, and “The Brooklyn Curmudgeon Hour,” a

weekly round table on community issues, featuring a rotating panel of borough residents. According to the station’s mission statement, “Radio Free Brooklyn aims to build a communication infrastructure to strengthen the community of artists who have been driven from the Manhattan neighborhoods we once called home before being scattered to the corners of the outer boroughs.” Note: I am still trapped in Manhattan. However, I made the trek out to Brooklyn for the RFB launch party at Lucky 13, where it seems more and more Art Star events are transpiring. Radio Free Brooklyn will also feature a show hosted by Faceboy, my friend of over 20 years, who hosted the infamous “Faceboyz Open Mike” at Surf Reality and helped me start my own open mike. “Art Star Scene Radio,” an hour-long weekly talk show with occasional musical guests, broadcasts live every Saturday at 7 p.m. In addition to promoting the many wild and wonderful things birthed from the Art Star Scene, Faceboy will also focus on serious topics like healing (ourselves, others and the planet). This past week we celebrated Faceboy’s 50th birthday with a shockingly non-debauched picnic in Washington Square Park. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in drinking, smoking and screwing, we forget the simple pleasures in life — like sitting on the grass and noticing a round ball in the sky that provides us with a strange phenomenon called sunshine. Also, some of our friends actually have children now, so we can’t be bad all the time. At said family-friendly picnic, I had the opportunity to borrow a football from a group of bros and teach two of my friend’s kids (Walter and Miranda) to play. Then we played Frisbee, played with water guns and walked Reverend Jen Junior. It was so much fun, I almost forgot the contraband rum and soda I’d snuck in. As Faceboy pointed out, if you’d asked him ten years ago how he wanted to celebrate his 50th, it would have been something “unprintable” — but the entire day made him supremely happy. Face also noted that Earth Day was founded in 1970, which officially makes him older than dirt. To all my wonderful friends who are now older than dirt, I salute your creativity and drive. TheVillager.com


Chelsea author dreams up new book Nocturnal visions of a novel became reality BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC

PHOTO BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC

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ongtime Chelsea resident David Finkle did not have a choice when it came to writing his new novel “The Man With the Overcoat” — the germ of the idea came to him in his sleep. “I didn’t decide to write a novel,” he said with a laugh. “I had a dream, which is now the first couple pages of the novel. When I woke up from the dream, I thought, ‘Hmm, there’s something there. I think I can do something with that.’ ” In the dream, he is standing in front of a bank of elevators in what seemed like a Fifth Avenue office building, but not necessarily to board one, Finkle explained. It is the end of the workday and the first man to get off the elevator is in a business suit and carrying a briefcase. As he exits he passes another man, dressed similarly, whose holds out an overcoat. The man passing takes the overcoat. The man who takes the proffered overcoat becomes the book’s protagonist, Skip Gerber, Finkle told Chelsea Now during a meeting at Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company (Eighth Ave. btw. 24th & 25th Sts.). Finkle started to write about Gerber to find out who he was and discovered that he was a real estate lawyer, who “kept following his nose and clues” to return the overcoat. He had written 20 pages when he realized that the story would all take place in 24 hours. During his overcoat odyssey, Gerber bumps into and meets many other characters. Finkle said the characters fascinated him — they just cropped up

and spoke. While this may be Finkle’s first novel, he is no novice writer — he has written about the arts for several outlets for decades, including the Huffington Post and the Village Voice, and published a short story collection, “People Tell Me Things.” Growing up in Trenton, New Jersey, Finkle loved books. He went to Andover and then studied literature at Yale. He took a writing course with Robert Penn Warren, who wrote the Pulitzer-winning “All the King’s Men,” and who encouraged Finkle to send his short story around to editors. He moved to New York City and got his first big break: a job for a trade magazine about the music business called “Music Vendor” in 1962. After going to the Army Reserves, his job was waiting for him when he returned. But change was afoot at the magazine, which was bought by two men from another trade magazine called “Cashbox.” (“Cashbox” was second only to “Billboard” at the time, noted Finkle. The magazine got a new name: “Record World.” Finkle said that the ’60s were probably “the best, most exciting decade for music. I was in a position to cover music during a very important and exciting time. I went to everything and I met everybody.” Finkle was at Shea Stadium when the Beatles played, Carnegie Hall for the Rolling Stones, met Janis Joplin and reviewed every record that came out — except for country — for the next decade. Finkle had his own musical interests and ambitions as well. While at Andover, he met Bill Weeden and they would become writing partners and a nightclub act. They

David Finkle discusses his new novel at Chelsea’s Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company (Eighth Ave. btw. 24th & 25th Sts).

toured the country, but Finkle ultimately went back to journalism. Now focused mainly on theater, Finkle says that he goes to five or six performances a week and sees around 250 to 300 shows a year. He also reviews cabaret and books when he can. “It means I don’t get to movies as much as I’d like,” he said. “But that’s what I came to New York to do. I’m one of the lucky ones.” Finkle said he always knew he wanted to live in New York. He rented in several neighborhoods before deciding that he wanted to buy. After looking awhile, he said the nicest thing he saw was in Chelsea. “I don’t see myself leaving Chelsea,” said Finkle, who moved to the neighborhood in June 1985. He lives on W. 20th St., which he called wonderful, and recalled some of his famous neighbors like artist Louise Bourgeois, whom he would exchange pleasantries with in French.

“I’m a big stoop sitter,” he explained. “I was brought up sitting on stoops on the wrong side of the tracks in Trenton, New Jersey. We had a wonderful stoop.” He is often on his stoop — people ask for directions to the High Line or stop and chat on their way to or from the Atlantic Theater. Finkle also loves that much of the art world is in Chelsea and he often goes to galleries in between writing projects. When he comes back, his “gears have been changed.” He did, however, lament the adult bookstores on Eighth Ave. between 20th and 21st Sts. Art has informed some of his short stories. In “Rembrandt paints again,” the famous Dutch painter comes into the life of someone in New York City temporarily, he said. In turn, that story triggered another collection that Finkle recently sent his agent: a famous dead person comes back to help the narrator solve a problem. Titled “Great Dates with Some Late Greats,” Finkle explained that it has a unifying theme, and the first and last stories are told by the person who compiles the rest of the tales. It was daunting to start writing fiction, he said, because for a long time he felt he couldn’t be as good as his literary idols Marcel Proust, William Faulkner, Philip Roth and John Cheever. Eventually, he found his voice and began writing short stories in the late ’80s. “Stories just kept coming to me and I kept writing,” he said. David Finkle’s “The Man With the Overcoat” was released by Nth Position Press in April, 2015. For more info on the author, visit davidfinkle.com.

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May 28, 2015

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Keeping up with Mr. Jones

What was new 50 years ago, pussycat? BY JIM MELLOAN

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May 28, 2015

RARERECORDS.NET

ometime in 1965 or '66, I recall seeing an album by Tom Jones in Baron’s, the local drug store in Westfield, NJ. I thought he was the ugliest man I’d ever seen. Looking back on his album covers now, I can’t imagine which one it was. He doesn’t look at all bad to me now on his first album, released in the U.S. as “It’s Not Unusual.” Obviously I had a lot to learn about what appeals to women. Fifty years ago, his first hit, the song by the same name, was climbing the Billboard Hot 100. On the May 22 chart, it was at No. 15, and it peaked in the U.S. at No. 10 the following week. In the U.K. it went to No. 1, helped to the top by heavy play from Radio Caroline, an offshore pirate radio station. It was a spectacular song that launched a spectacular career. Jones will turn 75 next month, and remains active. Jones, born Thomas Jones Woodward in Treforest, South Wales, hooked up with manager Gordon Mills, also from South Wales, in 1964. Mills, who co-wrote “It’s Not Unusual” with Les Reed, had Woodward change his name to Tom Jones to capitalize on the popularity of the 1963 movie of that name. It was the first of several iconic tunes that epitomize what Jones does best: brassy bombast. “It’s Not Unusual” was followed up by the even more audacious “What’s New Pussycat?” — the Bachrach/David theme song to the first movie scripted by Woody Allen. That one went to No. 3 in the U.S. “Thunderball,” the theme to the James Bond movie, was written

“It’s Not Unusual” has reached the half-century mark, having aged just as well as Tom Jones.

by John Barry and Don Black in an admirably similar thunderous vein, but it did not do very well, and so for a while Mills turned Jones to country songs, with the biggest hit being “Green, Green Grass of Home,” a No. 1 hit in the U.K. at the end of 1966. My family lived in London from 1966 to 1970, and I remember my mom bought that one (not sure if it was a present or because she liked it). Wasn’t really my cup of tea, but I have since enjoyed performing it myself; it’s easy to play.

In 1967 Jones first played Vegas, where he met Elvis Presley, and the two were good friends until Presley’s death in 1977. It was here that his stage presence developed: gyrations, unbuttoned shirts, and tight pants, which provoked female hysteria of a much more sexual sort than that enjoyed by The Beatles. The panties and hotel keys started to be flung onstage. Jones estimates that for a while he was bedding about 250 groupies a year. He stayed married to the girl he married at age 17 (they had a son, Mark, Tom’s only offspring, in 1957). Once, though, she beat the shit out of him for his infidelities. Among his hookups was Mary Wilson of The Supremes. Cassandra Peterson, better known as Elvira, says she lost her virginity to him.

In 1968 Jones returned to form with the magnificent “Delilah,” followed by “Help Yourself.” His TV show, “This Is Tom Jones,” ran on ITV in the U.K. and ABC in the U.S. from 1969 to 1971. You want a hot party? Check out his duet with Janis Joplin on “Raise Your Hand” from that show. As the culture continued at fever pitch into 1970, he was a guest on an extravagant Raquel Welch special “Raquel!” along with showbiz stalwarts John Wayne and Bob Hope. In 1971, “She’s a Lady” — one of many “Lady” songs from that era — was perhaps a futile attempt to appease feminists by raising the pedestal. And then, for a long time, not much. From 1980 to 1988 Jones released a lot of country material, including nine songs that made the U.S. Country chart, but there were no crossovers. But then, in 1988, he came back with a vengeance, teaming up with The Art of Noise to cover Prince’s 1986 hit, “Kiss.” The video shows him in fine form, sure of himself, full of himself, and onto himself. That song made No. 5 in the U.K. but didn’t chart here. In 2000 he released a similarly self-aware hit with “Sex Bomb,” a “duet” with a German DJ/producer named Mousse T., who mutters along to the words and does seem to wear a lot of mousse, and bears some resemblance to Charlie Sheen. Jones has had a couple more Top Ten U.K. hits since then, and since 2012 he has been a coach on The Voice U.K. Wow, you really do know what’s happening, don’t you, Mr. Jones? Jim Melloan is a writer, actor, musician, and editor. He does occasional columns for this publication on pop music from 50 years ago. His radio show “50 Years Ago This Week” airs Tuesdays from 8–10 p.m. on RadioFreeBrooklyn. com.

TheVillager.com


Just Do Art BY SCOTT STIFFLER

THE UPPER ROOM

TYONDAI BRAXTON: HIVE

Experimental musician Tyondai Braxton’s upcoming three-night residency presents a new work

COURTESY RADY&BLOOM COLLECTIVE PLAYMAKING

What happens to the back-to-theland movement when the sea threatens to claim the soil meant to sustain its participants? Set on an island off the north coast of Maine, the members of a one-thriving commune can all fit around a lone table. There, they gather to confront the changing environment — in the form of rising waters, and unexplained ailments sustained by certain members of their dwindling ranks. Employing dark humor, spiritual meditations, antique scuba suits, overhead projections and a musical score that’s mixed live, “The Upper Room” is spearheaded by the husband-andwife team of Jeremy Bloom and Brian Rady. Their Rady&Bloom Collective Playmaking projects emphasize high energy, mythological storytelling, stripped down production values and raw material created not just in collaboration with the ensemble, but strongly influenced by their individual strengths and eccentricities. Through June 12. Tues.–Sat. at 8 p.m. At the New Ohio Theatre (154 Christopher St. btw. Greenwich & Washington Sts.). For tickets ($18, $15 for students/seniors), visit NewOhioTheatre.org or call 888-596-1027. For artist info: RadyAndBloom.com.

The tide is high, but they carry on. In “The Upper Room,” dwindling members of a commune gather to confront strange changes, inside and out.

marking his debut as a recording artist on the Nonesuch label. The eight pieces on Braxton’s “HIVE” album (his first release in six years) have been in development since 2013, with live performance stops at the Guggenheim, the Sydney Opera House and London’s Barbican Centre. This series, at The Kitchen, is accompanied by a site-specific work by mixed-media artist Grace Villamil, and has Braxton and his fellow musicians sitting crosslegged atop their own spaceage oval pods. Light emitting through the perforated pod walls changes according to the sonic mood created by the performers, whose singular purpose and

deep connection embodies the hive mind and the “HIVE” music. Wed., June 4–Sat., June 6, at 8 p.m. At The Kitchen (512 W 19th St. btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). For tickets ($20), visit thekitchen.org or call 212-2555793. Artist info at tyondaibraxton. com.

WELCOME HOME SONNY T

As members of Staten Island’s African-American and Mexican communities face mounting gun violence, an older generation must confront their own legacy. “Sonny T” spotlights the social impact of alienation and unemployment on young black males, as well as the declining influence of the church. Part of a seven-member cast, Rich-

ard Pryor Jr. (son of the comedian) plays a prominent black minister and former ‘60s radical grappling with his own inability to restore order. The first in a five-part “Gunplay” series, this staged reading is followed by a talkback session with the cast and playwright/director William Electric Black. With part two in the series (“When Black Boys Die”) having recently closed a run at Theater for the New City, part three (“Body Bags or Why Calvin Wants A Superhero”) will premiere in 2016. Visit gunplays.org for more info. “Welcome Home Sonny T” happens Mon., June 1, 7 p.m. at the Castillo Theatre (543 W. 42nd St., btw 10th & 11th Aves.). Tickets are $10. For reservations, call 212-941-1234 or visit castillo.org.

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PHOTO BY LEE WEXLER

PHOTO BY DUSDIN CONDREN

Experimental musician Tyondai Braxton celebrates his new album with a residency at The Kitchen (June 4–6).

A mother grieves over the death of her son, in “Welcome Home Sonny T.” The first in William Electric Black’s “Gunplay” series will have a June 1 reading. May 28, 2015

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PHOTOS BY CLAYTON PATTERSON

Don’t try this at home — or anywhere! L.E.S. documentarian Clayton Patterson is also a documentarian of the Wildstyle and Tattoo Messe in Austria, from which he just returned. The event — part carny sideshow, part tattoo exhibition — is now in its 20th year. (“Messe” means “fair” in German.) Among Wildstyles’ notable performers are Enigma, who revs up the crowd with chainsaw stunts; Zombie Boy, who has no qualms about threading a live snake through his nose and mouth; and Maria Hose Cristerna a.k.a. the Tattooed Vampire Woman. Among the more tame acts are aerialists performing on silks — without roaring chainsaws or nose snakes.

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May 28, 2015

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Bridal Fashion Bridal Center

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May 28, 2015

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May 28, 2015

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Movin’ and groovin’ for Sophie Gerson kids group YOUTH / SPORTS BY TEQUILA MINSKY

A

PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY

trendy restaurant lounge on the far West Side in the 30s actually sports a mini-basketball court. When it’s Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s place — Clyde Frazier’s Wine and Dine — that’s what you get, and it was an appropriate venue for the 2015 benefit for Sophie Gerson Healthy Youth. Healthy Youth focuses on the mental and physical health of underserved middle school students, partnering with more than 10 programs that include basketball, dance, space education, tennis and performing arts. The foundation, named for the late Village activist Sophie Gerson, continues her legacy as a New York City public middle school phys ed and health teacher and president of Community School Board 2. Along with the crowd of supporters at the tony lounge were a slew of middle school boys served by a Sophie Gerson Healthy Youth partner, Team First, who shot hoops on the mini-court. The boys are coached by Ty Grant, whose Team First is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping academically underperforming children with a passion for basketball reach their full potential.

Alan Gerson, left, and Walt Frazier — a two-term city councilmember and two-time NBA champ, respectively — were stylin’, profilin’ and smilin’ at the Sophie Gerson Health Youth benefit.

For the second year, the benefit brought community-minded Villagers, physical education advocates and local politicians to an “All-Star” award ceremony that recognized New Yorkers who work tirelessly making this city a better place to live. Honors this year went to Steve Ashkinazy, an early pioneer in the L.G.B.T. rights movement; Pastor Pedro A. Cardo Jr., a labor movement worker and vice president of Teamsters Local 210; Michael Fortenbaugh, founder of the Manhattan Yacht Club;

Virginia Kee, a community leader in Manhattan’s Chinatown community and, for more than three decades, a junior high school teacher; and Harry

Malakoff, the founder and commissioner of the Malakoff Girls Basketball League at Greenwich House. A lifetime achievement award was presented to former NBA great Frazier. The point guard led the New York Knicks to two NBA championships in 1970 and 1973 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987. Dr. Manny Boxer, a member of the event’s host committee, who works with the city’s Department of Education to bring star athletes into the schools as role-model speakers, made the connection between the restaurant and Healthy Youth. This year’s benefit raised money to send more kids to camp this summer — 20 children to one-week sleep-away camp and 40 children to day camp. “We’re providing opportunities for sports and healthy activities,” said former Councilmember Alan Gerson, Sophie’s son, who is board president of Sophie Gerson Healthy Youth. “And some of these children have never been out of the city,” he noted. “Even our summer program is fully integrated into the school for yearround continuity,” he said. “Teachers report that students who participate have greater confidence, more motivation and are better students all around.”

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Local youths who are being helped by the initiative shot hoops on the former NBA great’s restaurant mini-court. TheVillager.com

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