Drag racer injures four, p. 11
East and West Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown
Volume 3, Number 18 FREE
June 20 - July 3, 2013
C.B. 3 committee pitches in to save children’s garden BY SARAH FERGuSON The embattled Children’s Magical Garden got a resounding thumbs up from the Parks Committee of Community Board 3 last week. C.M.G. came under attack last month when developer Serge Hoyda — who has a history of power plays on the Lower East Side — fenced off one of the three lots which make up this garden on the
Photo by Sarah Ferguson
Children’s Magical Garden supporters, kids and parents alike, turned out in force at last week’s C.B. 3 Parks Committee meeting.
Solomon to judge ‘Soho Wild Man’ BY HEATHER DuBIN Richard Pearson, a mentally ill man who has been terrorizing residents and merchants around Spring St., will appear before Judge Charles Solomon in State Supreme Court on Tues., June 25, for allegedly throwing a brick at a person’s head on May 17 in Soho. Arrested on May 22, Pearson is charged with second-degree assault, a felony. A grand jury has indicted him.
According to Soho and Nolita residents and merchants along Spring St. and in the surrounding area, Pearson has wreaked havoc on their lives by verbally and physically harassing people. At a Fifth Precinct Community Council meeting on June 29, locals expressed concern for their safety, shared stories about Pearson’s behavior and asked police for help. Assistant District Attorney Kaitrin
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Roberts advised those at the meeting to write letters to the judge, detailing their experiences with Pearson, which could potentially impact the case. Next week Pearson is scheduled to be arraigned, when he will enter a guilty or not-guilty plea. Solomon will then determine the next course of action. Pearson could be held in jail without bail, or a new bail amount could be set.
corner of Norfolk and Stanton Sts., effectively bisecting this small green haven. Last Thursday, C.B. 3’s Parks Committee voted unanimously to endorse the gardeners’ request to transfer the garden’s two other lots — currently owned by the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and
Continued on page 13
A dozen occupiers still hold Cooper president’s office BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL Just before lunchtime on May 8, several dozen students made their way to the office of Cooper Union President Jamshed Bharucha in what they described as a “nonviolent direct action.” They came to deliver a statement of “no confidence,” with plans to occupy the office until Bharucha resigned. Their dramatic action was spurred by The Cooper
Union’s plan to begin charging tuition, up to $19,000 a year, in 2014. Last Tuesday afternoon a dozen current students and recent graduates sat quietly around a table in Bharucha’s office. The occupiers, many who have been in the seventhfloor aerie for five weeks, sat calmly, working on their computers.
Continued on page 4
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June 20 - July 3, 2013
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N.B.A. great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar posted up next to theoretical physicist Brian Greene, co-founder of the World Science Festival.
Kareem, scientists — and the brain — team up for fest Trevor came in from Queens for the World Science Festival and went home with some major bragging rights, having had the chance to hold an actual human brain. Washington Square Park and some of the adjoining streets were taken over Sun., June 2, by the festival, a very kid-oriented event that was fun for pretty much everyone. National Geographic, Con Ed, Columbia University and the American Museum of Natural History were just a few of the institutions that lent their presence to the fair. Topics included climate change, alternative energy, robotics and the aforementioned brain. Live music and science demonstrations ran constantly on several different stages, with the celebrity slot filled by basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was promoting his latest book, “What Color Is My World? The Lost History of African-American Inventors.”
Kids could sample a cerebellum.
June 20 - July 3, 2013
P.S. 64 schoolyard, at E. Fourth St. between Avenues B and C. The weekly school fundraiser will feature a variety of vendors, selling both new and vintage merchandise, including many formerly from the Mary Help of Christians flea market, at 11th St. and Avenue A. Vendors and customers are welcome. For more information, contact Jeanette at 212-979-2186 or Bill at 718598-6604 or visit www.eastvillagecommunitymarket.com.
$4,282.95. Making things even better, Ray — given name Asghar Ghahraman — also got an “A” on his Sanitary Inspection Grade from the city’s Department of Health. He had always been galled by his previous “B” and vowed he wouldn’t rest until he achieved an “A” — and, well, he done it! Speaking to East Village blogger Shawn Chittle, Ray held up the lease and said, “I couldn’t believe my own eyes. I got a new lease and the ‘A’ on the same day. It was exciting. Good news, good things happening in my life.” Ray celebrated by buying a new blue polo shirt and getting a haircut. This all deserves an egg cream — with a side of beingets, and — hey, why not? — some fried Oreos, too! Congrats!
RIVER RHYTHMS: As we were pedaling up the Hudson River bike way Sunday, making passing maneuvers around all the slow-moving Citi Bikes blinking like UFO’s, we were drawn onto Pier 54 — along with, of course, three excitedly whooping Citi Bike riders — by the sound of pounding drums. Batala NYC, an all-women’s Afro-Brazilian samba-reggae drum corps, was holding a rehearsal on the W. 13th St. pier, and parkgoers were lovin’ it. “We have permits,” Stacy Kovacs, the group’s fearless leader, told us, “Sundays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. during the summer, and people are welcome to come dance.” Batala is an international movement started by Giba, a Brazilian drum master. Kovacs had the option of starting a co-ed group or an all-women group, and chose the latter, since guys tend to dominate the solos in drum bands. “In this country, little girls, when they want to play an instrument, they’re told not to play drums because they’re too loud,” Kovacs noted. “Women aren’t supposed to be loud. … This is a traditional male thing that we’re taking and owning.” Just a year old, in December, Batala NYC opened for the Rolling Stones at the Barclays Center, marching in while playing the drum intro to “Sympathy for the Devil” and wearing gorilla masks, a nod to the cover of the Stones’ new hits compilation, “GRRR!” Batala NYC is a diverse group, with both straights and gays — and one member who identifies as “them.”
FLEA MARKET’S HOPPING: The East Village Community Market will kick off its 2013 season on Sat., June 22 — and will run every Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. — in the
CORRECTION: In last week’s article on 6th and B Garden’s stage-roof fundraiser, Nora Kolosiej’s name was spelled incorrectly. Sorry, Nora!
Photo by Shawn Chittle
Photo by Scoopy
RACER XXX? As we were walking up West St. recently we noticed a new race car-themed graffiti mural on the building at the corner of Clarkson St. where a “gentlemen’s club” is planned. We thought we recalled that Thomas Wolfe, the proprietor of what was going to be called Platinum, had mentioned to us last fall that he would be doing some sort of artistic graffiti around the place’s new sign. Was this it? And, if so, was it too inappropriately kid-centric for a men’s topless club? Jennifer Economou and her son Lucas, 12 (above), were passing by on their way to watch a makeup ballgame at nearby Pier 40. They said they were O.K. with the colorful cars mural. It’s better than the gaudy sex clubs along the West Side Highway in Midtown, noted Jennifer, who is married to John Economou, president of Greenwich Village Little League. Jennifer said she’s not so much worried about the business’s impact on local kids as by “the kind of guys that would hang around.” Soho activist Bill Dobbs, who was spinning by on his bike, said he’s in favor of sex districts and the mural, too. “Keep New York sexy,” he said, adding, “It’s a G-rated mural.” Great cities need sketchy areas — at least this is Dobbs’s opinion. But when we called Wolfe this week, he said he didn’t commission the race car piece. According to Wolfe, whoever painted it also did a similar one up in the 40s or 50s on the West Side Highway. “I do not know who this guy is,” he said, adding, “We’re going to cover it up in two or three weeks.” As for the jiggle joint, he said it’s now called Mystique and should open in a few months. “We pretty much have our liquor license as long we comply with certain things they asked for,” Wolfe said. He had wanted to open at lunchtime, but has agreed his operating hours will be 5 p.m. to 4 a.m., though will close at 2 a.m. on Sundays. Asked if he still feels the club’s bouncers and exterior lighting will make Clarkson St. safer for Little Leaguers going to and from Pier 40, he said, “Of course, yes.” FOIE GRAS TO PHARMA FLIERS: Well, the long-vacant, ground-floor, commercial space in the Philip Johnson Urban Glass House, at Washington and Spring Sts., is finally being filled. It’s going to be a digital printing and promotion company, churning out materials for pharmaceutical companies and the like. Two guys there last week, as metal studs were being installed to divide the space up into offices, said a high-end restaurant had been planned for the space. “But then that came,” one said, gesturing to the Department of Sanitation mega-garage being built across the street. RAY’S INCREDIBLE DAY! Ray Alvarez of Ray’s Candy Store proudly displayed his new lease last week. After decades working at his hole-in-the-wall hot dog-and-fries shop on Avenue A, Ray, 80, feared his rent of $4,100 would be doubled in a new lease this month, beyond what he could afford. But he wound up getting a one-year renewal, with only a minimal increase to
Photo by Scoopy
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June 20 - July 3, 2013
12 occupiers still hold Cooper president’s office Continued from page 1 As sun streamed in through large windows with stunning views to the east and south, the students spoke of their dedication to their school and their motivations for being confined to a room for more than a month with constant supervision by private security guards. “It’s becoming a life-changing experience,” said newly graduated Mauricio Higuera, 28, who plans on attending Rutgers in the fall for his M.F.A. Higuera praised Cooper Union as the only art school that was able to provide financial help to him, an undocumented immigrant from Colombia. Higuera, a painter, found his artistic horizons broadened at Cooper. “I succeeded in making paintings more,” he said, “but I also studied sculpture, photography, video, sound art and printmaking.” Higuera and several other occupiers who spoke to The Villager are newly minted graduates, so the imposition of tuition will not affect them. Regardless, they feel obligated to champion a larger issue. “The reason Cooper Union is in trouble is because money is wasted,” Higuera said. “There’s a hiring freeze but the school hires overpaid development and public relations teams.” He noted the school used to promote free education in its mission statement but now only emphasizes excellence, “like any other school.” According to the administration, the school,
Photos by Jefferson Siegel
An occupier at Cooper Union opted for a leisurely spot.
which had been free to all students for 100 years, must impose an annual tuition because of financial necessity. The occupiers challenge the school’s reasoning and have made three demands. First, they demand that President Bharucha step down, charging that he doesn’t believe in Cooper’s mission and thus divides the school. Also, they are calling for restructuring of the school’s governance to enable more participation by students, faculty, staff and alumni in decision-making. Finally, the occupiers say, the school must reaffirm its free education mission statement and replicate the model elsewhere. “This is why we’re here,” said Vincent Hui, 23, who just graduated from the architecture
school. When Hui first applied to Cooper he was turned down. He took a well-paying job in interior design but felt compelled to reapply the following year, when he was accepted. “Two percent of applicants get in,” Hui said. “The architecture school is tougher than Harvard. That’s the beauty of it, if you’re here, you know you’re not here by luck!” “Once the notion of free education is gone from this school,” he continued, “your struggle is merely the same as at other schools.” A week after the occupation started, Bharucha made a surprise visit to his office after midnight. As the room filled with faculty, staff, alumni and students, and as hundreds more tuned in on a Livestream broadcast, Bharucha, his back literally to the wall, listened to the occupier’s concerns. But, according to many who were there, the president appeared disinterested at best. Several students asked Bharucha why they were threatened with dismissal or with not being allowed to graduate before Bharucha or any of the school’s board members even offered to negotiate with them. After raucous applause, Bharucha replied, “That’s fair enough,” to which one student retorted, “That’s not an answer.” Bharucha raised his hand, saying, “Let me speak. I speak the way I speak and I tell the truth. If you don’t like it...” he started to say, before the same student interrupted him with, “You’re beating around the bush.” Students went on to describe other problems, including confrontations with guards and the locking of bathrooms and turning off of water fountains. “When you manage an institution, you don’t tell people every little detail,” Bharucha said. A day after the occupation started, tensions soared when police and firefighters were called to the school’s Foundation Building. Many occupiers and their supporters worried the group would be removed. The first responders gathered on the second floor but, after being filled in about the situation, declined to take action and left. The occupiers have sent various messages to the streets below, from using red lights to illuminate the windows to projecting an image of school founder Peter Cooper on the building’s exterior with the slogan, “You can’t evict an idea whose time has come.” In interviews this week, occupiers complained of both school guards and private security guards blocking access to fire exits. At the occupation’s outset, bathrooms were
locked with metal plates on the doors. Hui said the students simply unscrewed the plates and they have remained open ever since. Despite the calm atmosphere inside the office, students described an ever-present feeling of tension. Two private security guards sit at either entrance to the president’s office. A third sits among the occupiers in the office itself. Several occupiers claim miscommunication between the administration and security guards effectively forms an unhelpful buffer between the students and administration. From the outset, the private guards tried to stop students from taking photos. As recently as a week ago, when three students went to the lobby and started taking photos, they were quickly surrounded by six guards. “A supervisor saw this on camera, walked over and told the students they now had to ask permission to take photos,” Higuera recalled. He countered by telling the supervisor that he didn’t need so many guards. Other troubling incidents were described to The Villager. A female student said that one night, while female students tried to sleep, they saw male guards watching them intently. Early in the occupation, a male guard said to several female students he was enjoying his job because he’s in a dark room with three college girls. Many of the occupiers are troubled by what they consider to be overt intimidation. Hui said he’s tried to complain to the school’s security supervisor, only to be told the incidents are only his opinion. When he pressed the issue, Hui said his complaints are dismissed with the accusation that he’s trespassing. On Memorial Day, Hui said that, while holding his laptop in an elevator, he was grabbed by one of what he called the “rent-a-cops.” He went to the lobby to file a complaint but was told they had run out of complaint forms, even though Hui saw a blank one on the desk. Students said the guards in the president’s office are often disruptive during quiet times like meditation sessions. “They play music on their phones loud,” Higuera said. “The guards try to intimidate us by walking around and looking at our stuff,” Hui added. A day earlier, Hui said a guard had called him an “asshole and a jerk.” Hui filed a complaint; however the guard was still on duty a day later. Hui added that on weekends, when the building’s air conditioning is turned off, the guards get noticeably testy. Tension and intimidation notwithstanding, the occupiers give every indication of staying put for the long haul. “It’s a real testament to the issues many institutions of higher education are facing,” said Victoria Sobel, who just graduated from Cooper with a degree in fine arts. “This is a very solvable problem,” she said. “The administration and board have not exhausted all that the community and alumni have to offer. They also take away a lot of the social capital built over a century.” Ultimately, Sobel believes the board’s failings are about ego. “They don’t want to seem like they’re giving in,” she said. Cooper Union did not respond for a request for comment by press time.
June 20 - July 3, 2013
Police BLOTTER Indicted in anti-gay murder The defendant accused of fatally shooting a gay man on a Greenwich Village street, after shouting anti-gay slurs and threatening to kill several other people, has been indicted on a charge of second-degree murder as a hate crime, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced on Tues., June 18. Elliot Morales, 33, was also charged with five counts of criminal possession of a weapon and two counts of menacing, including one count of menacing a police officer. According to court documents, the May 17 incident began when Morales urinated outside a restaurant on Barrow St. around midnight. After a restaurant worker confronted him, Morales then walked into the establishment and began making anti-gay remarks, and allegedly displayed his gun and threatened to shoot various diners. After he left the restaurant, Morales is believed to have walked past Mark Carson, 32, who was with another man near the corner of W. Eighth St. and Sixth Ave. Minutes later, shortly after midnight, Morales reportedly confronted the two men, again shouted anti-gay slurs, and then shot Carson in the head, the D.A. said. Carson was later pronounced dead at Beth Israel Hospital. In addition, when he was spotted by police officers on W. Third St. minutes after the
shooting, Morales allegedly pointed his gun at an officer before being tackled and arrested. Morales’s next court date is scheduled for July 30.
Surprise shoe smash A taxi driver, 33, told police that he was driving west on Christopher St. around 4:30 a.m. on Sat., June 15, when he spotted a woman — later identified as Lambert Kaleikini, 33 — near the intersection at Hudson St., and pulled over next to her. He claimed that Kaleikini then, without provocation, took off one of her shoes and used it to hit the front driver’s-side window, shattering the glass over herself and the driver, but without causing any injuries. Kaleikini reportedly then tried to flee the scene, but police caught her during a canvass almost immediately after the cabbie called in to report the incident. She was charged with criminal mischief.
Gun in their faces An apparently crazed man allegedly pulled a gun on three unsuspecting pedestrians early on Wed., June 12 — but didn’t pull the trigger.
The three victims, all men, ages 17, 18 and 57, told police they were walking past the corner of Bethune and Washington Sts. around midnight, when a strange man — later identified as Charles Maraia, 54 — walked up to them, pointed a handgun in their faces, and then fled on foot. The men called the police, who quickly caught Maraia during a canvass of the area, using the description provided by the victims. According to police, Maraia was packing a fully loaded, .25-caliber handgun. He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and menacing.
Windshield wiper mayhem Police arrested Jonathan Jenks, 22, early Sun., June 16, after he reportedly ripped a windshield wiper off a car parked near the corner of Leroy St. and Seventh Ave. South, and then used the wiper to bash in all of the car’s windows. Fortunately for the car’s owner, a witness down the street called police to report the incident as it was happening, around 4 a.m., and Jenks was caught minutes later by responding officers. He was charged with criminal mischief.
Photo by Tequila Minsky
With a banjo on his knee, a cymbal under one foot and a bass drum pedal under his other foot, with which he thumped a beat on his suitcase seat, this guy was a one-man band.
June 20 - July 3, 2013
After fire, Village View man fights eviction effort BY CLARISSA JAN-LIM A resident of the Village View apartment complex faces an uphill battle to keep the home that he inherited from his parents in the middleincome co-op. Bohdan Rekshynskyj’s ordeal began on March 1, when his two-bedroom apartment, at 60 First Ave., at E. Fourth St., caught fire while he was out. Rekshynskyj, 53, has since been served with two holdover notices that, if upheld in court, would see him evicted due to complaints of hoarding, as well as “obnoxious odors” being emitted from his apartment. Usually, in such cases, a certification of eviction must first be obtained from a hearing officer with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development before proceeding to Housing Court. In this case, due to the “emergency nature” — the tenant’s allegedly cluttered apartment and odors — H.P.D. has reportedly granted a waiver to allow the matter to go directly to Housing Court. Since the fire, he has been able to return to his home only three times, while under close watch by security, and otherwise has been unable to enter his apartment because the building’s management changed his door. Although he confesses to being a messy person, he said of his apartment, “It’s not a hoarder place like you see on TV. I’m just messy by nature,” he said. “I’ve been to other apartments, and a lot of people are messier than I am.” He also said that his love for cooking means there is the occasional accident, hence the smell.
“Maybe sometimes I burn a plate or two,” he said. Initial investigations by the Fire Department indicate that the blaze was accidental in nature. However, the building has been abuzz with rumors that it was arson, according to a source close to Rekshynskyj, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals. “If it was arson, the police would have arrested him by now,” the source said. “They’re spreading all these rumors about him... . There’s a guy going around saying he’s a terrorist.” As for the charges about smells, he retorted, “I do not have any obnoxious or noxious odors coming out of my apartment.” Rekshynskyj said that despite having been promised that his place would be cleaned and the windows fixed up after the fire, the management has yet to do so. “They are lying to me, consistently, about the renovations going on,” he said. “It’s been since March 1. They’re just lying, and lying and lying.” He also charged that his belongings have been rummaged through and some even stolen. “I have ancient coins which I would sell off to pay the rent, and I think they have stolen them,” he said. “I do not know for sure.” The source said Rekshynskyj was denied access to his apartment because the Fire Department deemed it inhabitable, but, she noted, “It’s never going to become habitable because he can’t go and clean it. It’s a Catch-22.”
Rekshynskyj’s efforts to speak to the complex’s manager, Joanne Batista, proved futile. “She refuses to talk to me,” he said. His attempts to discuss his situation at a Village View board of directors meeting on Tues., June 11, were also not acknowledged. Most recently, he had temporarily been living in the single-room-occupancy Sun Bright Hotel, at Bowery and Hester St., a place his friends helped him find. But he had to leave the S.R.O. on Tuesday. Speaking on his last day at the hotel, Rekshynskyj said he doesn’t know what will happen to him now. “These people are completely evil,” Rekshynskyj said, referring to Village View’s management and board. “I’ve never been this vulnerable. … I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow. I’m really in a desperate situation.” When contacted for comment, both the
board’s president, Adam Silvera, and an attorney for Village View, Robert Cecere, declined to speak about the situation due to legal reasons. Cecere instead referred questions to what he called Rekshynskyj’s court-appointed “guardian.” Rekshynskyj admits he has a “medical condition,” though did not want to specify its details. Village View maintains that he cannot take care of himself and needs help. However, Rekshynskyj and the source said he does not have a guardian. “Absolutely not,” Rekshynskyj said. “I don’t need a guardian. I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself.” Rekshynskyj’s court date for the holdover case is set for July 1.
With repor ting by Gerard Flynn
Fighting to make Lower Manhattan the greatest place to live, work, and raise a family.
Assemblyman Shelly Silver If you need assistance, please contact my office at (212) 312-1420 or email email@example.com.
Photo by Clarissa Jan-Lim
Bohdan Rekshynskyj visited his building last week at Village View, but was not allowed access to his apartment. In the photo above, he picked up what he called a letter of support that had been left outside his door.
June 20 - July 3, 2013
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June 20 - July 3, 20133
Conservancy concerns This Thursday evening June 20, Community Board 2 may — or may not — vote on whether or not to recommend approval of a new conservancy for Washington Square Park. We have no issues with a private, nonprofit group raising funds for the park. Indeed, there are already groups that do so, such as the Friends of Washington Square Park, which is the Washington Square Association’s fundraising arm. However, this new conservancy seems somehow different — and this raises questions and concerns. The main issue is whether a conservancy — if not initially, but eventually — would assume control of policy and activities in the park. In general, as sincerely well-meaning as this new group may be, there has been a lack of transparency about this effort. We have tried to set up a meeting with the four women who are the conservancy’s founders, but so far, due to scheduling issues, have not done so. We look forward to meeting with them soon. However, it’s unclear why Sarah Neilson, Washington Square Park’s new administrator, would also be the director of this new Washington Square Park Conservancy. This seems to blur the boundaries uncomfortably, in our view. In addition, if all that this group wants to do (at least, for now) is raise funds for a horticulturalist for the newly renovated park’s plantings, and ensure the park is kept clean, then we don’t see why they can’t just move forward as an independent, nonprofit entity, with no Parks Department connection. Also, the presence of not one — but three — Parks officials at this month’s C.B. 2 Parks Committee meeting where the issue was discussed, indicates Parks is strongly invested in this. Joining Neilson were Bill Castro, the Manhattan borough Parks commissioner, and Steve Simon, Parks chief of staff. Castro stated Parks would maintain its authority and operational jurisdiction over the park, and that the conservancy would never have a contract, license or memorandum of understanding with Parks. It’s troubling, though, that no one has seen the conservancy’s bylaws yet, or knows who will sit on its board other than the four founders. We also must say we have some concerns about how C.B. 2’s review of this initiative has proceeded. A resolution from the board’s Parks Committee was not readily forthcoming after its meeting two weeks ago. Indeed, we were only able to obtain a “draft” resolution late on Wednesday afternoon. We’re told that all C.B. 2 members will have a chance to review this resolution — “but not 100%” of it — before the full board meeting. The draft resolution includes caveats C.B. 2 wants the conservancy to include in its bylaws. Based on the assumption — key word — that the conservancy would accept these caveats, then, the resolution states, C.B. 2 “appreciates and endorses the effort of this group…to create an organization to build community stewardship of the park, raising additional funds for maintenance, plantings, horticultural activity, increased PEP [Park Enforcement Patrol officers] presence, and organizing volunteers and the like… .” The draft reso states: “W.S.P.C. will not have a role in policy, planning or event creation, and all policies concerning the park will continue to be set by Parks with input from C.B. 2,” also that funds raised by the conservancy won’t be mixed in with and used for the park’s general budget. But shouldn’t Board 2 wait until this group produces its bylaws, showing that these points have been incorporated? Washington Square isn’t just any park. As the C.B. 2 draft resolution states, Washington Square “serves as our community’s ‘flagship’ park” and is a “world-renowned landmark.” Over all, this process has been much too rushed. The board, in our respectful view, should table this vote until at least next month’s meeting — if not until September after the August break. There is absolutely no rush to approve this Thursday night. But there is definitely a need for more review. Table it.
letters to the editor Sorry state of the gardens To The Editor: Re “Garden hero — or partier amid the plants? Or both?” (news article, June 6): For two decades I have fought passionately to save and safeguard the precious community gardens of our fair city. Indeed, Ron Kuby defended me when I was arrested (with activist Fran Luck) for interrupting Giuliani’s second inaugural speech in 1997, two days after Giuliani bulldozed the Chico Mendez Mural Garden. All too often I hear people express negative opinions of the gardens. They see many gardens that are locked with no open hours posted. They see gardens with only one member. They have gone to gardens and been discouraged or prohibited from joining. They find an ossified and abusive power structure — as is the case at Dias y Flores. Though some people are derisive of my efforts to ensure fairness and transparency in gardens, I am proud to have the nickname “Bylaws Jeff.” Without bylaws and rules the gardens quickly become “Lord of the Flies.” The clichéd pablum that Ron Kuby and Everett Hill spout that the “gardens are for children,” is hyper-hypocritical, given that it is my friends and I who always color the Easter eggs and help the children tend the fire. We started Bring Your Own Puppet Day. We opened the gate on Halloween in the blackout after Hurricane Sandy. The people the board kicked out didn’t break the rules. But the board did and continues to do so. All plots are supposed to be “turned by June 1” or they revert back to the membership. Board member Claude Kilgore’s plot and Ron Kuby’s partner Marilyn Vasta’s plot are two weeks delinquent. Fran McGorty repeatedly interrupts people at meetings, counting out loud how many seconds they have left and demanding there be “No whispering.” Julie Friesner interrogates would-be members and told someone to “Go to hell” at a meeting. Everett Hill recently allowed a member to miss the “mandatory annual meeting,” do her hours during another member’s slotted time and host an event without the required advance notice — a triple play of rule breaking. These are the people GreenThumb is allowing to ruin the garden. Deputy Director Roland Chouloute has chosen to cast a blind eye. Thank you to The Villager for shedding light on this ugly situation. P.S. The bulldozers are still circling…. . Jeffrey Cyphers Wright
Déjà vu all over again To The Editor: Re “Garden hero — or partier amid the plants? Or both?” (news article, June 6): The other day, when I picked up The Villager, and began to
read Lincoln Anderson’s article, I was hurled back in time. The late 1990s were a demanding time for the community gardens of the East Village and Lower East Side. We fought hard and furiously to preserve our gardens from the developers. After the Chico Mendez Garden was slated for development, Jeff was looking for another garden to join. Because of his seeming zeal and commitment, he was welcomed as a member of Green Oasis, the garden to which I belonged. At the Green Oasis, he behaved in exactly the same ways as the members of Dias y Flores now describe him as behaving in that garden some 10 to 15 years later. After a couple of years of this, including late-night parties where underage kids jumped into our koi pond, and our asking Mr. Wright and his girlfriend at that time to follow the rules of the garden and GreenThumb, etc., they would not cooperate. We had a few very difficult meetings, then voted them out. We ended up going to adjudication with a city ombudsman. One of the adjudicators asked us if it had occurred to us that Wright and his pals might be trying to take over the garden.The result of the meetings (if I remember it correctly) was that they were asked to leave for the remainder of the season, but they could reapply. They didn’t. We were very relieved. Through his contacts, he had brought Pete Seeger to the Green Oasis. He noted this as an example of what he had done for our garden. He asked another lawyer to represent him at that time. Is Jeff Wright living though his own tragic version of “Groundhog Day”? He is the sword and the wound. Pamela Pier
The ‘parties’ aren’t that wild To The Editor: Re “Garden hero — or partier amid the plants? Or both?” (news article, June 6): This article was a very one-sided account of reality, in my opinion. These so called “parties” have been improperly characterized as being boisterous, loud and offensive to a residential neighborhood. In reality, these backyard barbecues, typically between the hours of 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., with a few running as late as the ungodly hour of 8, have been attended by a small group of middle-aged artists and other middle-aged Lower East Siders. They resembled the one that the reporter attended on Memorial Day more than the ones that the reporter wrote about. These backyard cookouts have never actually been as large as claimed in the article, as most have been in the dozens, not in the hundreds, and never in the thousands. Hardly a loud “party” by any standards, of any community in America. Opponents of these barbecues have greatly exaggerated the so-called “incidents,” none of which I was involved in, as falsely
Continued on page 10
WE NEWSP June 20 - July 3, 2013
An old Villager entertains a newcomer at her place NOTEBOOK By Kathryn Adisman It’s not just the bike stations all in a row, metallic gleam — sterile as stainless steel — an ad for a bank. Uh-oh! Here comes the grumble of the old West Villager. There seems to be a concerted effort to put the West Village on the grid. As someone who’s spent her entire life off the grid, I take it personally. This used to be a walker’s paradise built for rambling. But they haven’t killed the spirit. This little corner of the globe sturdily refuses to die. “Greenwich Village is a calling,” wrote Suze Rotolo in her memoir about the ’60s. Even when I arrived in the ’80s, I was drawn here by its bohemian history. Ironically, now my neighborhood is morphing into something else — namely, prime real estate. My local bank branch financial adviser represents the new demographic. He owns a co-op in Queens and wants to buy my apartment as a pied-à-terre where he can crash after nights out entertaining clients. He’s an eager beaver. When I approached him a year ago, anticipating it would be a good time to sell, I had to pitch the virtues of a 250-square-foot back studio facing a brick wall. Now he’s chomping at the bit to replace me. I regale him with the history of the building — with my history. I started as a subletter in 1984. Six months earlier I could have bought my unit for less than $20,000. Instead I end up paying quote “fair market value” rent to an overtenant for 20 years. I’m living the life of the starving artist in the garret. Meanwhile, the woman I sublease from is getting published, a successful chick-lit novelist. Before she finally decided to sell in 2004, I considered moving to the Upper West Side. The broker took one look at my application. “Oh, you live in the bordello district,” he remarked. “What did he mean by that?” asks the banker, who has come to see my place today. “Once upon a time, there was a prostitution ring upstairs on the fourth floor… .” “Really?” He can’t help glancing upward. “And then there was the young lawyer who had a different girl here every week,
Asian mostly.” “No kidding?” “My next-door neighbor uses his place for trysts with his quote ‘girlfriend,’ ” I continue. “I’ve heard this used to be a sailors’ hotel.” The young banker’s eyes widen. I did my own entertaining here. Oh, I could tell him a tale or two that would makes his eyes pop. Casually, I reach for the box of color snapshots on the desk. “You’re never going to believe this… .” I hand him the box. There’s a photo of a woman wearing red: red lace top, red velvet skirt and red purple lipstick. She has black hair. She’s standing behind a bar in front of a mirror with a shelf full of liquor bottles, smiling as she pours.
‘You’re never going to believe this… .’ I hand him the box. There’s a photo of a woman wearing red: red lace top, red velvet skirt and red purple lipstick.
“Do you know who that is?” Hint: It’s not Manet’s portrait of the barmaid reflected in the mirror. “Is it…you?” “Good guess. That’s me bartending more than 20 years ago.” He leafs through the pics of me and another woman with our arms around each other. “Who’s that?” he asks. “I can’t remember her name, but that woman cost me my job,” I say. “She was a regular customer who worked at St. V’s. Used to come in at noon on her lunch hour to get her quota of Rolling Rocks, and she’s pissed the bar’s not open yet. So I turn to the owner, ‘It’s your fault we’re not open on time.’ ” I’ll never forget the look on his face. As he kicked cartons around the back of the bar, I greeted every customer: “I think this is my last day.” I was fired, but… “…The story isn’t over yet” is all I say the last time I go by the bank and my adviser escorts me out onto the street in his uniform suit and tie to catch a ray of Member of the New York Press Association
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sunlight. He thinks he’s calling the shots, this young hotshot, but he doesn’t know what shots I’ve poured. At my place I’ve finally hooked up my turntable to the Bose so I can play my old LPs: The songwriter for Was (Not Was) — the ’80s soul-rock band out of Detroit my friend David formed with his buddy Don — “He was here,’’ says the ex-groupie in me. In the file cabinet, a folder marked “Coney Island” contains a photo of the cast and crew of “Kid Twist,” the play by my N.Y.U. prof about the Coney Island gangster, produced on site, circa 1987 — “He was here, too” — not the head of Murder, Inc., but of Coney Island U.S.A. — “in two different decades!” This place — I see myself referring with
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a grand gesture to my apartment the size of a closet — has seen a few things (and people) in its day. His eyes still wide from the “bordello” reference: “Yeah?” “Yeah! Everything you’re thinking? It’s all true.” “The Meatpacking District — it used to be transvestites,” the banker informs me, as if it were a fact out of Ripley’s. “I know.” I don’t tell him about the night I was mistaken for one. “When did it change?” “It started in the ’90s under Giuliani.” It was September 1999. I remember I went to vote after work and the polling place had been moved from the L.G.B.T. Center temporarily there. This little man in wire rims who could have been the banker taps me on the shoulder from behind. “Got a light?” Ah, the good old days when we still smoked. I produce my Bic and light his cigarette. Then, he asks me, “Where have all the heshe’s gone?” “The what?” “You know,” and he describes them.
Publisher Jennifer Goodstein Editor in Chief Lincoln Anderson Arts Editor Scott Stiffler Publisher Emeritus John W. Sutter
“Oh! Did you think I was one?” “I was hopin’!” Considering I’d once been mistaken for Howard Stern on the street, I wasn’t fazed. I don’t mention to the financial adviser how Wire Rims and I pass an hour together at Hogs and Heifers commiserating — two outsiders sharing simpatico stories, singing “The Song of the Freak.” Neither of us fits in. This was the night I’d been passed over for a promotion at People. And he has a boring office job and his Italian Catholic wife never wants to…you know — do anything unconventional. And I won’t tell the financial adviser how Wire Rims gets me to go with him down a darkened, wharf-bound street in pursuit of two he-she’s in heels strolling arm and arm, leading us on, when suddenly one of them turns around and confronts us: “What do you want?” she demands. “She wants to watch me do you,” W.R. says, pointing in my direction. “Who? Me?” I never said that. Do what? The two of them burst out laughing in his face, our face, and turn tail. Their mocking laughter chases us down the street long after they are gone. “Oh, well,” says my little friend, resigned to call it a night, as we shake hands to part. He promises to think of me later as he gets off. Thanks, I guess. “Will you think of me?” he asks. Yes. … …My prospective buyer shakes my hand at the door. Primed for the kill in his red sweat suit, he’s off to the nearest branch of New York Sports Club, before heading home on the subway to Queens. He’s a small-town kid in a corporate job. What does he want with my place? The old aura of freedom in Greenwich Village still has the power to lure a new generation…off the grid. Like any good museum curator who knows the value of his collection, I’m reluctant to sell. But thanks to the curiosity of my visitor, I see the “real” estate I now own is not bounded by four walls. It will accompany me wherever I go. Greenwich Village, says Rotolo, is “a state of mind.” Maybe it’s time to come out of the closet, literally. Even if it means venturing onto the grid to tell her story — the story of the woman who lived here, once upon a time. Where’s the nearest bike station?
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June 20 - July 3, 2013
Avant-garde stars shine at first Acker Awards clayton BY CLAYTON PATTERSON On June 6, at the Angel Orensanz Center on the Lower East Side, the first annual Acker Awards were held. The Acker Awards were created by myself and Alan Kaufman. Soon we expect other cities to join in. (See ackerawards.com.) The Acker Awards are a tribute to members of the avantgarde arts community who have made outstanding contributions in their discipline in defiance of convention, or else served their fellow writers and artists in outstanding ways. It’s named after novelist Kathy Acker, who in her life and work exemplified the risk-taking and uncompromising dedication that identifies the true avant garde artist. The award itself was created by San Francisco graphic designer Sammy Dwarfobia. Those who attended also received an awards poster created and printed by legendary San Francisco rock poster artist Chuck Sperry, as well as a box containing a piece of ephemera selected by an award recipient and given to me. The box was assembled with the help of Celina Leroy. Also critical to making the event happen was Klara Palotia. Klara was the intellectual energy that kept everything working and in motion. We much appreciate and are honored that Angel Orensanz allowed us to use his venue to hold the New York ceremony. Angel’s building is the Carnegie Hall of Downtown New York. The night started off with a solo sax performance by Avram Fefer. A local Lower East Side musician, Avra also is a clarinetist, bandleader and private teacher. He recorded with The Last Poets, Archie Shepp and many others. He now has 10 CD releases as a leader or co-leader and is featured on numerous recordings as a sideman. The night was filled with positive energy and the recipients were grateful to be given such an honor. Steve Cannon of Tribes probably summed it up best, by saying so many of the recipients were the people always giving and so seldom are they thanked or appreciated in return for their service to community. At the Acker Awards, Cannon was honored to be
Photo by Clayton Patterson
Standing, from left: Chandra Ratner, a documentary filmmaker who is making a film on Fred Jordan; Ken Jordan; an unidentified woman; Ron Kolm and Jim Feast, award recipients in the editor section. Fred Jordan (in wheelchair), is former vice president and editor in chief at Grove Press, where he worked for more than three decades starting in 1956, and was managing editor of the company’s magazine, Evergreen Review. Authors who he worked with as editor include Samuel Beckett, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Pablo Neruda, Vaclav Havel, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Marguerite Duras, Harold Pinter, Eugene Ionesco, Tom Stoppard, Abbie Hoffman, David Dellinger, Alan Lomax, David Mamet, Monty Python, William Vollmann, Art Spiegelman, Alan Kaufman and Kathy Acker.
remembered. He went on to say that it was highly unusual to have such a wide range of avant-garde culture covered by one award, thus bringing together in one place so many of the amazing contributors to New York City avant-garde culture. The award was a true representation of so much that the old creative L.E.S. stood for. This night was like all the
letteRS to the editoR Continued from page 8 reported by The Villager. Ron Kuby has never attended any of these events, to my knowledge, so his point of view is more based on what he has heard than what he has actually seen. Conversely, I have been a regular attendee, and insist that these backyard
different creative factions uniting under one roof for a brief moment in time. Thank you, Steve. There were many high points during the ceremony. Jerry Pagane was the most enthusiastic winner. He could hardly contain his joy and gave a very heartfelt thank you. Peter Missing summarized how impossible it is for an artist to remain living and creating in this new, gentrified New York City. Patricia Smith, a winner in the poetry section, a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history, treated the audience by reciting one of her award-winning poetry slams. Cynthia Carr, winner in the biography section, was a little more modest because of how overwhelmed she was feeling having recently won a Lambda Literary Award for memoir/ biography and having been a finalist for the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, awarded by Columbia Journalism School and the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University, for her book “The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz,” and now an Acker Award, as well. The evening in New York was a memorable one, and Alan Kaufman was just as pleased with how successful the San Francisco program worked out. This is just the beginning. There will be more to come. The only dark spot, if this could be seen as one, was the lack of presence of Soho House. Those trying to sell Soho House to the L.E.S. were talking about how great the L.E.S. is, how they love and are so enamored with the creative L.E.S. So much in love that they did not send one representative or show any connection to the award ceremony. The last note I got was from one of the Acker winners, who said the principals involved in Soho House had promised her they would contact her, but after they were rejected by Community Board 3 for a liquor license, she didn’t hear from them again. It seems that Soho House feels the same way toward the old-school, creative L.E.S. as the old-school, creative L.E.S. feels toward Soho House. I see them as just another version of a “Housewives” show — all gossip and no meat. To each his own.
At least someone is interested!
barbecues do not fall into the category that they have been pushed into by this lopsided article and its uninformed point of view. The Memorial Day “party” was actually much more like the typical “party” than the ones I read about in the article. Jerry Trudell
To The Editor: Last week I wrote and asked, “Who wants to know” in this “see something say something world”? The Nosuch Security Agency wants to know. Do you think they would respond to an emergency phone call about cars parked in bike lanes or someone comatose on the sidewalk? What’s the N.S.A.’s 800 number, or do I just rely on Verizon to put me through? Renee Feinberg E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to lincoln@ thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The East Villager, Letters to the Editor, 515 Canal St., Suite 1C, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The East Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The East Villager does not publish anonymous letters.
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June 20 - July 3, 2013
Drag-racing driver careens onto sidewalk, injuring 4 A driver allegedly drag-racing against another car lost control and careened up onto the sidewalk at Second Ave. and E. Fourth St. on Wednesday morning, injuring four people on the pavement in a horrific crash. According to news reports, the driver may have been drunk or high on drugs, and was seen swerving down Second Ave. before his white Nissan Altima fly up onto the sidewalk just before 7 a.m. Following the terrifying crash, the carâ€™s driver, identified as Sean Martin, 32, was arrested at Bellevue Hospital, where he was being treated for his injuries. He was reportedly found to be carrying hashish in his sock. He refused to take a Breathalyzer test and was charged with D.W.I. The Daily News said that Martin has a prior D.W.I. and a bust for cocaine possession. Among the four people injured on the sidewalk were a male cyclist, 37, who had been aboard a Citi Bike, as well as two other men, ages 39 and 54, who were all listed in stable condition. Mohammed Akash Ali, 62, who manned the flower shop outside the East Village Farm market on the corner, was the most seriously injured and was listed in serious condition at Bellevue Hospital. A female passenger in the Altima was bleeding but able to walk under her own power after the crash. The News reported witnesses saying that the Nissan had been roaring at 80 miles per hour and weaving through traffic minutes before the crash. As it went up onto the sidewalk, the Nissan also knocked down a tree and tore a fire hydrant and a Muni-Meter out of the ground, as well as mangling bikes that were chained up to poles.
Photos by Lincoln Anderson
The white car, its front end smashed in, came to rest in the crosswalk at Fourth St., but the second car sped off, according to witnesses. Later on Wednesday morning, the sidewalk along the west side of Second Ave. from midway on Fourth St. down to midway on Third St. was cordoned off by police as they conducted an investigation of the accident scene.
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June 20 - July 3, 2013
Meseritz ark destined for new life, new synagogue By Tequila Minsky The last tenement shul above East Houston St. is being converted into condos. But the heart of the shul, its two-story-tall ark, will be saved. In what is being hailed as a true-life story of b’shert (destiny), Anshe Meseritz’s 100-yearold, hand-carved ark — the housing for the Torah scroll — was saved from some unknown future, perhaps Demolition Depot, when the new Downtown Jewish congregation Tamid made it its own. Meseritz synagogue, at 415 E. Sixth St., between First Ave. and Avenue A, is an exterior landmark. Rabbi Darren Levine, founder of Tamid, went to meet Pesach Ackerman, 85, the shul’s longtime rabbi, and his son, Sandy, who did not want the ark to be lost forever. (Rabbi Ackerman died this past Friday at age 84. See obituary, right). Jason Friedman, an architect with the residential conversion project, upon seeing
the stunning ark, felt it could be salvaged. Meanwhile, Tamid member Salvo Stoch — who runs Found Objects, a company that travels the world finding unique furniture and gallery items — visited Meseritz and evaluated the ark. He determined it could be safely extracted, stored properly and retrofitted for use as Tamid’s own ark. And so it is. The ark, which was disassembled into 30 pieces, is currently being kept in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The hope is that once the new synagogue gets a permanent space, the full ark will be incorporated into it. Said Levine, “It’s not every day in New York that a new synagogue like Tamid opens in the same year that a historic one closes.” Levine sees this whole process as giving new life to Jewish ancient tradition, of Tamid’s being a historical caretaker while creating new Jewish roots in the Village and Lower Manhattan. “This, in a word, is b’shert,” he said. Tamid, which Levine described as a liberal
Photo by Tequila Minsky
The two-story ark at Anshe Meseritz on E. Sixth St. before it was disassembled and removed last month.
congregation, holds its Friday-night Sabbath services once a month in a church, St. Paul’s 9/11 Chapel. Tamid is also pushing into the Lower East Side, where Levine noted, “Do you know there is no liberal presence [below East Houston St.] in the Lower East Side? And there are a lot of young families moving into the area.” The new synagogue hosts monthly book discussions at Pushcart Cafe on East Broadway. By early last month, the interior of Meseritz
Synagogue’s sanctuary was gone. However, the stained-glass window, since it is part of the building’s exterior, is also landmarked and remains. There will be prayer services at the E. Sixth St. building in the future, but on the groundfloor level below the former sanctuary. Due to the upstairs sanctuary’s condition, the groundfloor hall was actually where most of the regular prayer services actually were held in recent years. The upstairs sanctuary was only used during the High Holy Days.
Rabbi Pesach Ackerman of Anshe Meseritz dies at 84 OBITUARY By Lesley Sussman Rabbi Paul (Pesach) Ackerman, the popular longtime rabbi of the Anshe Meseritz synagogue, 415 E. Sixth St., died on Fri., June 14, at Beth Israel Hospital of complications from pneumonia. The much-loved rabbi, 84, worked for 44 years as spiritual leader of his Orthodox congregation, without salary. In his final days, Ackerman was instrumental in working out a development deal for the badly deteriorating synagogue building that will revitalize the landmarked structure and also guarantee that space will be reserved there for the synagogue for the next 99 years. The building’s upper levels will be developed as residential condominiums. Friends described Ackerman as a deeply religious, kind, humble, selfless and generous man with a sense of humor that uplifted all who came in contact with him. At a time of dwindling synagogue attendance in the area, the rabbi attracted a loyal following that allowed services to be held there seven days a week. This writer regularly attended services there for the past 15 years. I was not religious when I first met the rabbi, and he patiently and gently instructed me on Jewish law to a point where I now consider myself a Modern Orthodox Jew. He was so loving and a guiding spirit in my life. Another Donovan, a leader of the East Village-based Local Faith Communities group, said, “He was a great presence in the neighborhood and part of its history. I will miss him and never forget him.” Robert Rand, the president of Meseritz synagogue, said that the rabbi, “just like Moses, was among the humblest of men — a true folk hero of the neighborhood. The love and care he displayed for all those whom he came in contact with, whether Jewish or not, was mirrored by the community,” Rand said. “He presided over a diverse congregation that epitomized the diversity of the neighborhood, from wheelchair-bound senior citizens to dreadlocked hipsters and everything in
Rabbi Pesach Ackerman.
between. His wit and charm touched all who passed through the synagogue gates.” Other congregants recalled that the rabbi was often more concerned about their wellbeing than his own, and that his “joy of life, deep faith and gratefulness to God for all that he was given — despite many of his own personal problems and hardships — was contagious.” The rabbi, who lived at 40 First Ave., was born in Manhattan on Dec. 24, 1928. His father and older brother, Leon, operated a modest shoe store business that they opened in 1936 at 29th St. and Second Ave. The store grew, moved to a new location and later became a successful brand known as Tiny Ackerman. The rabbi’s wife, Helen, died on April 5, 1983. He is survived by his daughters, Shelley and Sharon Ackerman, who live in the East Village, and two sons, Sandford Ackerman, who also lives in the East Village, and Mark Ackerman, who lives in New York City and Mexico City. The rabbi is also survived by two nephews, Gary and Jim Ackerman. Funeral services were held on Sun., June 16, at Sherman’s Flatbush Memorial Chapel, 1283 Coney Island Ave. He was buried at Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Fairview, N.J.
June 20 - July 3, 2013
C.B. 3 committee supports saving L.E.S. kids garden Continued from page 1 Development — to the Parks Department for preservation under the GreenThumb program. The committee further recommended that the Bloomberg administration offer Hoyda a deal to swap his relatively small interior lot for a comparable city-owned lot elsewhere. The full board will vote on the committee’s resolution on Tues., June 25. But since the community board generally approves the recommendations of its committees, such unequivocal backing was critical for C.M.G. At the meeting’s outset, Councilmember Margaret Chin told board members she had reached out to both H.P.D. and Parks to discuss ways of preserving the garden, but said she needed the board’s “strong support” to move forward. “This garden has been in the neighborhood for 31 years, the same age as my son,” Chin noted. “H.P.D. says their mission is to build affordable housing. But I think this site, because it has been here so long, I’ve said it is important to preserve the green space. That’s what I’ve talked to [H.P.D.] about, but we need the community board to support that, so I hope you will listen to them,” Chin said, gesturing to the gardeners and supporters who filled the meeting room at the Bowery Residents’ Committee off Delancey St. Earlier, Chin accompanied scores of garden fans — including many children dressed as superheroes, sprites, fairies and even a couple of “Angry Birds” — as they rallied at C.M.G., then marched to the meeting site. “Gardens are forever!” and “Make it permanent!” they chanted to the beat of a bass drum played by a member of the Rude Mechanical Orchestra. At the meeting, C.M.G. members presented a short video documenting the history of the garden and a petition signed by nearly 2,000 people, calling on Mayor Bloomberg to preserve the space. They also submitted letters of support from 35 local businesses and the principals of the four public schools that front on the garden, as well as nonprofit groups that utilize C.M.G. as a play and learning space. Mimi Fortunato, the principal of Marta Valle High School, located across the street from C.M.G., spoke earnestly about its role in an area notably lacking in green. Youth leaders from Marta Valle meet every week at C.M.G., and this year the school’s culinary classes even used eggs from the chickens C.M.G. housed to make quiche. “This kind of connection to the real world around us is an essential, essential, essential thing,” Fortunato stressed. C.M.G. treasurer Dave Currence, owner of Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop on Rivington St., said his restaurant composts its kitchen scraps at the garden. C.M.G. board president Kate TempleWest, a writer and herbalist, said she had been tending plants — and children — at
Photos by Michael Natale / Gammablog
On Thursday, children and parents marched from the Children’s Magical Garden to the Community Board 3 Parks Committee meeting.
C.M.G. since she was a 19-year-old theater major at New York University. Now 36, Temple-West choked up as she described the evolution of the kids she’s helped mentor there. “There are people I would not know if it weren’t for this garden,” she said. “Over the years, I’ve spoken to teachers who say their children, some of whom have trouble in their classrooms, behave differently in the garden. I get emotional because it’s hard to explain what this community garden means to the children. These children inspire me every day I get to be with them.” Her emotion was echoed by Rachel Kramer, a single mom who spoke with her 7-year-old daughter, Frances, by her side. “In this neighborhood, my kid gets to see people behaving pretty poorly,” said Kramer. “Here she gets to play with chickens and worms. “I grew up in New York City,” Kramer added. “I never dreamed about seeing my child on Stanton St. hold a chicken in her hands. It makes me feel like a good parent.” Shaun Joseph, an architecture student, said he and other college students with the group Freedom by Design were working on projects to improve C.M.G. — like installing a new pond with a solar-powered pump and a nicer exterior fence — using a grant awarded to C.M.G. by the Citizens Committee for New York City. Many spoke to the way the garden has become embedded in their lives. Emily Wiechers said her 5-year-old, Tristan, walks by the garden every day on his way to kindergarten at P.S. 20, and often plays there
after school. Now P.S. 20 is working with C.M.G. to teach its students how to compost and grow tomatoes and herbs as part of the “Wellness in the Schools” program. Yet when security guards and police arrived last month to fence off Hoyda’s lot, Wiechers said young Tristan was told by an attorney for the developer that he could be arrested for trespassing if he and his father did not leave. “It would be a real shame to do anything but preserve it where it’s been for the last 31 years,” Wiechers told the committee, her voice edged in anger. Hoyda and his representatives declined to appear before the committee. The only voice of dissent came from a neighbor, James Gregg, who said he has lived two doors down from the garden for the past seven years. Gregg said he spoke on behalf of “a group” of fellow residents who felt C.M.G. did not benefit the wider community. Specifically, Gregg complained that C.M.G. did not have the “recognized attributes” of a community garden — “welltended grass, posted hours and specific policies about what is allowed and what is not.” “The area continues to be a blight on the community,” Gregg told the committee,
Continued on page 14
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June 20 - July 3, 2013
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C.B. 3 committee pitches in to save children’s garden Continued from page 13 using a term frequently used in condemnation proceedings. “It was rat-infested for over a year. It’s full of junk and generally poorly maintained.” Gregg’s comments were met with loud “boos” and shouts of “Who paid you?” A board member asked Gregg whether he or any of the others in his group had children. He conceded they did not. Thomas Wu, the Parks Committee’s chairperson, asked whether the city had ever agreed to swap a city lot for private land in the past. “There have been past swaps of land where gardens were involved,” Matt Viggiano, director of land use policy for Councilmember Chin, responded. “But H.P.D. has never said to a private owner that it would swap private land for cityowned land elsewhere.” “That’s not to say that with lots of pushing and prodding it’s not possible,” Viggiano added. “But it would be a unique
experience for the agency.” When The Villager first asked H.P.D. about the possibility of swapping a private lot for a city-owned one, a spokesperson termed it “not a common practice” by any stretch. Hoyda, however, may be more open to the idea. C.M.G. board member Aresh Javadi, co-founder of the activist group More Gardens!, told the committee that when he and Temple-West pitched the land swap idea to Hoyda last fall, the developer told them he might welcome the idea. “I think he would be open to some swap or some other incentives — like getting a zoning bonus at another project,” Javadi told the committee. Hoyda, Norfolk Development Corp LLC, Hoyda’s property management firm S&H Equities, and lobbyist Greenberg Traurig LLC did not respond to The Villager’s requests for comment. But Javadi remains optimistic. “I think we can do this,” he told the committee. “I already see the garden fence going down. With the help of our elected representatives, it’s absolutely doable.”
June 20 - July 3, 2013
Garden revokes his membership again, and throws away the key BY LINCOLN ANDERSON Accusing him of “creating a hostile environment” at Dias y Flores, the E. 13th St. garden’s board members last week voted unanimously to revoke the membership of embattled member Jeff Wright. Another gardener, Debra Jenks, an ally of Wright’s, also had her membership revoked. The board sent them letters Saturday night informing them their memberships were ended. The garden’s board had also revoked Wright’s membership a little more than a month ago, but the action was rescinded on May 5 by Roland Chouloute, GreenThumb’s deputy director, after Chouloute led a tense arbitration meeting at the garden. However, Claude T. Kilgore, a board member, said the latest revocation was based on “a number of destructive activities that occurred even since our arbitration.” The lock on the garden’s gate has now been changed, and members have been coming by to pick up their new keys. “The overwhelming impression is a sense of relief and peace,” Kilgore said. “The garden looks great! The shed is nearly complete. We’re happy and excited to move on with all of the garden’s summer programs.” The plants in Wright’s plot were all reportedly removed and potted. He has been given time to come pick them up, and if he doesn’t, they will be planted in garden common areas. Among Wright’s latest violations, according to the board, were failing to post a notice about his Memorial Day party on the garden’s shed a week in advance, plus “vandalizing” the shed by conspiring with Jenks to paint a new “coat of arms” on it, without the board’s O.K. In addition, Julie Friesner, another Dias y Flores board member, said that a video by The Villager of Wright’s Memorial Day party posted online showed there had been alcohol — technically a violation of GreenThumb rules. On Memorial Day, the garden’s board had decided to crack down with a strict “no tolerance” policy on booze. The Villager video showed Wright playing guitar and singing an original impromptu song, “Ten Little Indians” (“How Many Indians?”) The camera panned across the crowd a couple of times, showing others clapping along and garden member
Annie Wilson walking by with her African rock dove, Lovi Dovi. But, toward its end, as Wright was winding up the song, singing, “I’d follow Crazy Horse any day…” the video inadvertently captured one of the revelers removing a bottle of white wine from a blue plastic bag on the picnic table. He is seen discretely hiding the bottle from sight under the table, then furtively refilling his coffee cup, before placing the plastic lid back on the cup. Partiers that imbibed — there were about two dozen poets and visual artists in all at the fairly tame event — used lidded paper coffee cups, trying to avoid detection. (The Villager had not even noticed the man’s actions until Friesner mentioned it to the newspaper this week. Clearly, the Dias y Flores board watched the video intently for any violations.) Asked what he’ll do now, Wright told The Villager, “As John Paul Jones said, ‘We have not yet begun to fight.’ ” He charged that he is the one who has been harassed by the garden’s board for whistleblowing. Wright e-mailed GreenThumb’s Chouloute stating, among other things, that his plants had been “illegally destroyed.” “They have again revoked my membership and the membership of another garden member based on outright lies and misinterpretations of our bylaws and rules,” Wright wrote Chouloute. “We expect our memberships to be restored as I have broken no rules, just as I had not last time. “This time the board members have destroyed my plot and dug up all my plants without warning. I am sending you a bill for $300 to take care of this and I fully expect my plants to be replanted.” Wright also charges that the shed was painted gray previously without proper approval. If his new “coat of arms” keys are painted over, he warned, there will be consequences. “I want you to understand,” he wrote Chouloute, “that painting over artwork is a crime under the Visual Artists Rights Act and artists can be recompensed according to their reputation.” Wright also objected that he and Jenks are being unfairly accused of hosting the
The Dias y Flores board says this “coat of arms” painted on the garden’s shed on Memorial Day — without board approval — is vandalism. Jeff Wright warns painting over it would violate the Visual Artists Rights Act.
Memorial Day party — even though he did send out the invites for it. If anything good can come from all this garden mudslinging, it may well be its artistic legacy. Wright is a poet and the editor of Live Mag! He told The Villager, “I have written a play
based on the situation called ‘Clubhouse on East 13th.’ The play has been accepted for the Boog Festival in August.” Also, when Wright’s Dias y Flores key was first taken away a month ago, his friends all presented him with keys at a “key ceremony,” which apparently was filmed. “The ‘Key Ceremony’ will have its film debut this fall,” Wright said. “The 41 keys from the ceremony will be made into a mobile by Judy Rifka, Ford Crull and myself and should be in fall show at the Theater for the New City.” It’s not clear at this point if GreenThumb will attempt to hold another arbitration after this latest meltdown. Chouloute last month told Wright he would find another garden for him in which he could throw his monthly parties, which have become an issue over the past few years. “It’s not the parties per se,” Friesner told The Villager. “It’s extreme disruptive behavior. He formed an unelected steering committee to oversee the elected board. It’s really just that he was trying to take over — that’s what this was all about.” But the parties were also an issue. Friesner, who lives next door to the garden, recalled, “The Martin Luther King Day party, I came home around 7 p.m. and heard someone playing guitar and singing at the top of his lungs, ‘I’m a drunken pirate!’ ” Somehow, that didn’t exactly seem to be in the spirit of Dr. King, she said.
June 20 - July 3, 2013
Noodles Ginsberg howled for return for second serving BY CLARISSA-JAN LIM Allen Ginsberg’s favorite noodle store is returning to the East Village. The Beat legend loved Mee Noodle Shop and Grill, a simple, no-frills eatery on First Ave. between 13th and 14th Sts. But Mee was forced to leave the location in 2007 due to infrastructure issues, or a “crack epidemic,” as real estate broker Conrad Bradford put it. There were serious cracks in the wall and the building was starting to collapse. Joyce Chi, an employee whose 10 years at the restaurant have seen her work at both its current Midtown location on 49th and at the former East Village spot, said Mee Noodle had been looking for a new place back in the area ever since it was shut down because “it’s a good location.” Bradford sent out a notice of the deal last month, prior to which there had been no news of Mee’s return to First Ave. Until then, the reopening was expected to be a low-key event that only some customers know about. But the ensuing media coverage helped change that. For those former customers already in the know, Chi said, she thinks “they are happy” that the East Village will soon once again have a Mee Noodle Shop and Grill to call its own. Bradford, the real estate agent behind the deal, said he was approached by the restaurant’s management after his company, Miron Properties, put the space on the market. Bradford struck a favorable deal with the landlord that allowed the restaurant to set up the space without having to pay rent for the duration
Photo by Bob Krasner
Derrick Pendavis Extravaganza, a dancer with Riki Colon’s Men in Skirts, performed in front of a banner with Allen Ginsberg’s image at the recent HOWL! Festival.
of construction. Mee Noodle’s determination to snatch up the space was evident. According to Bradford, the deal was made in just five days — a record time, by real estate standards. “We had three offers within 14 days,” said Bradford. “They [Mee Noodle] came from
behind… . But when they came onboard, they acted as quickly as possible.” According to Chi, the restaurant will be reopening in about five months, at 223 First Ave., a mere two doors away from where it used to be. Part of the place’s fame is due to Ginsberg’s
frequent visits to the former East Village branch for his fix of Chinese food. His 1997 obituary in The New York Times quoted a waitress at Mee Noodle Shop and Grill saying, “When he came in, we knew what he wanted,” referring to the particular dish that Ginsberg favored, steamed flounder in ginger sauce.
June 20 - July 3, 2013
EASTvillagerarts&entertainment Two Tickets to Ride Film festivals put the focus on cars, bikes Auto-Cinema Through June 25 At Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Ave., at E. Second St.) Tickets: $10 ($8 for students/seniors/ children 12 or under) For tickets, visit the box office before the show For info, call 212-505-5181 or visit anthologyfilmarchives.org BICYCLE FILM FESIVAL June 26-30 At Anthology Film Archives & other venues For a schedule, and to purchase tickets (prices vary), visit bicyclefilmfestival.com
Image courtesy of the distributor and Anthology Film Archives
Stuck in traffic: A Wall Street whiz kid loses his fortune while cruising around town, in David Cronenberg’s “Cosmopolis.”
BY SEAN EGAN With the unveiling of Citi Bike, the MTA increasing subway fare and the seasonal rise in gas prices, the best (and most cost efficient) way to get from point A to point B has been at the forefront of many New Yorkers’ minds. With many now seriously considering the pros and cons of different modes of transportation, it seems particularly timely — and relevant — that Anthology Film Archives is providing two film series which focus on two very different kinds of vehicles. The Anthology-curated Auto-Cinema series (now through June 25) presents a collection of previously released films that prominently feature automobiles, in an attempt to examine their role in cinema as well as society at large. Soon thereafter, Anthology will host the annual Bicycle Film Festival (June 26-30), which not only promises to present films concerning its titular vehicle, but also a number of other exciting bike-related events.
Auto-Cinema scrutinizes the function and significance of the commonplace machine most take for granted. The series was reportedly inspired by
the relatively close release dates of two of 2012’s most interesting auteur-driven movies: David Cronenberg’s “Cosmopolis” and Leos Carax’s “Holy Motors.” While the films differ wildly in tone and content, they both featured inscrutable protagonists who spend a large portion of the film riding around sprawling metropolises (New York and Paris, respectively) from the back seat of state of the art stretch limousines. With this coincidence sparking their interest, Anthology dug deeper to find other films raising similar thematic questions through the lens of the car. In “Cosmopolis,” writer-director David Cronenberg — the master of body horror and all things icky and technological — adapts Don DeLillo’s 2003 novel about a gifted twentysomething Wall Street financial wizard, Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson), who loses his fortune over the course of the day while stuck in traffic. This simple summary does not do Cronenberg’s slow burn of a film justice, as he uses the limitations of his setting to make a deeply paranoid and unsettling picture. Through claustrophobic camerawork, moody lighting and vaguely science-fiction-y iconography, the limo becomes a hermetically sealed capsule, which keeps out the (literal) anarchy of the outside world (and, in the process, potently uses the vehicle as a metaphor for the
modern world’s over-reliance on gadgetry). These themes of isolation and lack of concern for the world are aided immeasurably by Pattinson’s distant and detached performance as the nonchalant Packer, and the inscrutable, steely grimace he wears for the majority of the film. Both incredibly relevant to today (especially with its presentation of the “one percent” and Occupy-like protests), and timeless in its ideas, “Cosmopolis” is highly recommended viewing. No less potent a rumination on the dangers of technology now than when it came out, Cronenberg’s 1996 psychological thriller, “Crash,” is also an official selection of the Auto-Cinema series. Highly controversial upon release (due to its twisted and explicit portrayals of sex and violence), Cronenberg again uses the automobile to criticize the modern world and unsettle the audience. Set in a future not unlike our own, the film follows a ragtag cast of characters (headed by James Spader and Holly Hunter) who become sexually aroused by violent car crashes and the destruction they produce. The film is classic Cronenberg, liberally and thoughtfully intertwining sex and violence, and the human with the mechanic — all while conjuring up disturbing imagery that would make even the bravest filmgoer squirm (the “leg scene” in this film is defi-
nitely not for the faint of heart). “Crash” uses the automobile as an example of how people in the modern world frequently fetishize machinery and technology to the detriment of the ones they love and society as a whole. If Cronenberg’s films show the car to be indicative of a larger, more sinister problem with technology eating at the heart of society, Carax’s “Holy Motors” is a vibrant and inventive movie about the transformative potential of the automobile and technology. The plot of this mind-bending, genre-hopping, whacked-out film — if you can call it a plot — concerns a man named Oscar (Denis Lavant), who uses his limo as a state-ofthe-art changing room to get into elaborate costumes while riding to various “jobs” in Paris that seemingly require him to perform as a variety of distinct characters, for some mysterious and/or unknown purpose or audience. This conceit allows for the film to gleefully shift tones on a dime, careening with aplomb from slapstick comedy to intimate drama to violent thriller to full-scale musical numbers. The car becomes a symbol with a multitude of potential meanings: as the place where we are most vulnerable and in touch with our real selves, as a place of
Continued on page 18
June 20 - July 3, 2013
Wheels in motion, at Auto-Focus and Bicycle Film Festival Continued from page 17 reinvention where we shape our identities or as the backstage to some grand-scale theatrical performance. These are just some of the heady themes one can mull over once this wickedly clever and visually stunning film has faded from the screen. Celebrated Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, like Cronenberg, has a pair of features being screened for the Auto-Cinema program. “Taste of Cherry” (1997) and “Ten” (2002) both take place almost exclusively within the confines of normal cars, but the scope of the ideas Kiarostami explores within them know no limits. “Taste of Cherry,” a winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or, concerns a man who wishes to commit suicide as he drives around Tehran, interviewing potential candidates for people to bury his body. With its long conversations and beautifully shot landscapes, the film becomes a meditation on life and death, with the car also acting as a place for open dialogue between individuals. Stripping away the sumptuous cinematography of “Taste of Cherry” in favor of a couple of dashboard mounted digital camcorders, “Ten” explores similar themes, focusing exclusively on a series of conversations between a young mother and her various passengers. These conversations span from the incredibly personal ones with her obstinate son, to encounters with friends, sex workers and a religious old woman. Kiarostami here shows the car to be a space where people can debate and examine societal norms and the “big questions” (particularly those concerning women in society and sexual politics), as well as have intimate and honest conversation with others, including family. The festival is rounded out by a few more screenings of rare works held by Anthology. An impressive short film program promises to be interesting, featuring five films examining the automobile from different social, political and environmental lenses. Chip Lord’s feature length video, “Motorist,” features Richard Marcus as a driver on a road trip, commenting on his surroundings and the nature of cars, while director Saul Levine presents a conversation in a car with his friend Katha Washburn in a single 82-minute take, as part of his “Driven” video series. These last selections help to ensure Anthology’s Auto-Cinema program will be expansive, thought-provoking and something audiences can’t find anywhere else.
BICYCLE FILM FESTIVAL
After Auto-Cinema wraps up, Anthology Film Archives will serve as the main venue for the Bicycle Film Festival,
a totally unique kind of event that is centered around the bicycle, both in cinema and in real life. The festival was conceived in New York City by founder Brendt Barbur over a decade ago, after he was hit by a bus while riding his bike. Wanting to turn this accident into something positive, Barbur (an avid cycler and film aficionado) decided to put on a film festival, noting that he “felt that film and art were a great way to express what’s positive about bikes.” The first Bicycle Film Festival (BFF) was held in New York City 13 years ago — and in fact took place at Anthology Film Archives, where it found an enthusiastic audience and received great press. Today, the festival has expanded worldwide to dozens of cities, with thousands in attendance. Barbur says that the festival’s “spirit hasn’t changed at all, and it’s still very community oriented.” The New York BFF remains special, though, despite all the global expansion. “It’s our hometown,” says Barbur (whose office is located in Chelsea), who feels “very honored to have the 13th year of the festival at Anthology.” He continues, noting that “New Yorkers are becoming more excited about bikes. You can see it. Certainly 13 years ago, we did not see the same amount of cyclists. The increase is evident.” But what of the films? Barbur prides his festival on being a place where a wide range of genres are screened, and where special and unique films — “like a movie directed by a 17- or 18-year-old without a million dollar budget” — can find an audience of cyclists and general movie enthusiasts alike. The one thing unifying these films is the bicycle itself. “At the Bicycle Film Festival, the bike is the star,” says Barbur, who asserts that “In Hollywood, the bicycle has been shortchanged.” He notes that cyclists in Hollywood films are usually presented negatively, as kind of nerdy, immature or weak (think Pee-Wee Herman in “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” or Steve Carrell in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”) — which is a far cry from all the healthy, good-looking, well-educated and welladjusted cyclists who populate the streets of cities like New York. The BFF seeks to be a place where this trend is reversed. This year’s festival is no exception, featuring many exciting bike-centered films, with positive portrayals of cyclists. Danish documentary “Moon Rider” is a festival highlight, and tells the story of a young Danish cyclist named Rasmus Quaade attempting to become a world champion professional cyclist. The film
Image courtesy of the filmmaker and the Bicycle Film Festival
Danish Cyclist Rasmus Quaade dreams of turning pro, in the documentary “Moon Rider” — part of the Bicycle Film Festival.
will receive its United States premiere at the BFF. Noted photographer Peter Sutherland (who has worked with clients ranging from “Vice” to Adidas) follows up his 2001 bike-doc “Pedal” with “The Way I Roll,” which offers portraits of many different cyclists. “Basikeli” is a new documentary that focuses on the Kenyan National Cycling Team. In the film, the team hopes to be as successful in cycling as their country has been with running in the past, and introduce the sport to a wider audience in Kenya. The fun isn’t just limited to the theater. Over the years, the BFF has become a multimedia enterprise. Its current incarnation features a concert series (whose previous performers include Matt & Kim, Dan Deacon, Deerhunter, No Age and others) as well as an art show (which in the past has included work by distinguished figures like Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze and Albert Maysles). This BFF will also include a June 29 video exhibition, with the Hester Nights at the Eventi Hotel in Chelsea — as well as an art show at the same location. BFF has
planned a huge street party in Seward Park, which will include music, food and, of course, bikes. Barbur, though, is still looking to the future of the BFF and getting word out about the benefits of cycling. He is currently in the process of directing his first feature film, “The Commentator” — a movie about a Danish filmmaker who goes to the Paris-Roubaix race, influenced by and honoring the work of Jorgen Leth, and featuring camerawork by Albert Maysels and others, and music by alt-rock band Blonde Redhead. Barbur continues to do what he does because he thinks that the festival has helped to provide a voice to the cycling movement, stating that continuing to promote bike usage motivates him. “I don’t ride a bicycle because I’m an environmentalist, but because it is the best way to get around,” he says, joking, “Who wants to wait for a subway and watch rats run around?” Ultimately, he wants people to recognize and celebrate the bicycle. “Hopefully people are inspired. I know at least one person has been inspired, and that’s enough for me.”
June 20 - July 3, 2013
Events so gay they make a picnic basket look butch Sexy and soulful LGBTQ arts happenings BY SCOTT STIFFLER
Host Bob Montgomery’s long-running showcase of queer, questioning and lavender-friendly stand-up comedy comes — to Gotham Comedy Club — on the first Wednesday of every month. So don’t feel left out just because you missed the ultraout Pride edition of “Homo Comicus.” Yes, it’s true, you’ve blown that June opportunity to catch “funny that way” comics Curt Upton and Janine Brito. But they’ll likely be back doing their “Homo” thing soon enough (a soft touch with high standards, Montgomery always books those who kill for repeat offenses). Next up, however, a fresh crop of cock-sure comics will get their Yankee Doodles on — in a star-spangled July 3 celebration…of July 4! Erin Foley (from “Chelsea Lately”), Claudia Cogan (from NBC’s “Last Comic Standing”) and Justin Sayre (creator/host of the hit Downtown show “The Meeting”) are on the bill. Don’t forget to drink up, as you go down…to Gotham! Wed., July 3, at 7:30pm. At Gotham Comedy Club (208 W. 23rd St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.) $20 cover, 2-beverage minimum. For reservations, call 212367-9000. Visit homocomicus.com.
Image courtesy of SUNY Press
“L is for Lion” author Annie Lanzillotto reads at Bluestockings (June 26) and Housing Works Bookstore Cafe (June 27).
Dudes in drag, dykes on bikes and queer contingents of every conceivable configuration make their way down Fifth Avenue (in parade form, at least) but once a year. But just below Houston, Bluestockings Bookstore has your rainbow back covered on a regular basis. Now celebrating its 14th year of literature, feminism, activism and community, the ultra-inclusive Safer Space hosts social justice, cultural criticism and queer identity events nearly every night of the week. Once a month (along with events like the Feminist Book Club and the Dyke Knitting Circle), Bluestockings is home
Photo courtesy of the artist
Still standing: “Last Comic” vet Claudia Cogan is among the gaggle of gay (and openminded) humorists on the next “Homo Comicus” bill.
to a Women’s/Trans’ Poetry Jam & Open Mike. This month’s edition takes place on Tues., June 25, at 7pm (the start time of most Bluestockings events). Vittoria Repetto — “the hardest working guinea butch dyke poet on the Lower East Side” — hosts, inviting you to deliver up to
eight minutes of your own poetry, prose, songs and spoken word. The featured writers are LuLu LoLo (who will perform excerpts from two of her plays) and Tammy Remington (reading her new story “Giving Ground”). Visit vittoriarepetto. wordpress.com for more info.
On Wed., June 26, lesbian storyteller and performance artist Annie Lanzillotto (along with special guests) will read from “L is for Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir.” Born into a “brutal but humorous” Italian family, the 1960s tomboy makes the great leap from the stoops of her home borough to cross-dressing on the streets of Egypt and haunting the 1980s NYC gay club scene — with stops along the way to explore, absorb and endure the “wide world of immigration, cancer treatment, mental illness, gender dynamics, drug addiction, domestic violence and a vast array of Italian American characters.” Lanzillotto, who certainly gets
Continued on page 20
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June 20 - July 3, 2013
Put me on your Pride plate Continued from page 19 around, will migrate from Bluestockings to Housing Works Bookstore Cafe for another reading on Thurs., June 27. At Bluestockings Bookstore (172 Allen St., at Stanton St.). Suggested donation: $5 (nobody is turned away for lack of funds, and the space is wheelchair accessible). For more info, visit bluestockings. com or call 212-777-6028. Join them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter (@ bluestockings).
PRIDE WEEK READING AT HOUSING WORKS BOOKSTORE CAFE
The Housing Works mission, to end homelessness and AIDS, is made possible in part by the proceeds from a dozen funky (in the best sense of the word) thrift shops located, among other places, in the Village, Soho, Tribeca and Chelsea. But apart from racking up sales (from the sales rack) to fund the provision of lifesaving services to those in need, the organization recognizes the need for brick and mortar community. That’s where the volunteer-run Housing Works Bookstore Cafe comes into play. In addition to providing a great place to meet friends, relax and shop, “the best book, movie and music selection in New York City” has great live events (including author read-
ings and in-store concerts). On June 27, the Pride Week Reading features Charlie Vasquez, Gil Cole and “L is for Lion” author Annie Lanzillotto (hot off her June 26 Bluestockings Bookstore appearance). Vasquez’s latest collection of poetry, “Hustler Rave XXX,” examines the lives of the boys of the night — and the generous older men who patronize them, in every sense of the word (by providing financial support, while objectifying their bodies). Gil Cole will read from “Fortune’s Bastard or Love’s Pains Recounted.” Published by local imprint Chelsea Station Editions, the Shakespeare-inspired novel puts a gay spin on the swashbuckling romance/adventure genre, with a palpable whiff of the pain and suffering endured by a Lifetime movie lead. Lusting for broader horizons (and other men), young Antonio flees the religious hysteria of Renaissance Florence and eventually becomes a notable merchant of Venice (after traversing the Mediterranean as a pirate, an itinerant actor and a fugitive). Free. Thurs., June 27, at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe (126 Crosby St., btw. Houston & Prince Sts.). For info, call 212-334-3324 or visit housingworks.org.
ECCE HOMO: THOMAS LANIGANSCHMIDT AND THE ART OF REBELLION
If every sister who swore she threw
Courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery, NY
Fred W. McDarrah (1926-2007): “Celebration After Riots Outside Stonewall Inn, Nelly (Betsy Mae Koolo), Chris (Drag Queen Chris), Roger Davis, Michelle and Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt.” (RC Print, 1969. 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches).
a brick at Stonewall were standing in her truth (as Suze Orman likes to say), they’d still be cleaning the debris from Christopher Street. He’s not claiming to have gone all Ignatz on the fuzz that night, but Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt was definitely part of the 1969 rebellion — as evidenced by the late Fred W.
McDarrah’s photo (which is part of the exhibit at Pavel Zoubok Gallery). “Ecce Homo” pays tribute to the ripple effects of contributions made by Lanigan-Schmidt — but not for his role in LGBT rights (the Obamas already covered that base, when the artist was invited to the White House, along with other Stonewall veterans). Subtitled “The Art of Rebellion,” the exhibit celebrates Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt as well as those whose aesthetic bears his imprint (including Nayland Blake, Arch Connelly, Tony Feher, Oliver Herring, Christian Holstad, Greer Lankton, Hunter Reynolds and Christopher Tanner). Foil, glitter, cellophane and found objects are among the building blocks of Lanigan-Schmidt’s work — but despite this kitschy collage treatment, the use of religious iconography imbues the tragic suffering of his subjects with a transcendent dignity. As Pontius Pilate said when he presented a bound, beaten and crowned-with-thorns Jesus Christ to a mob of angry onlookers just prior to the Crucifixion: “Ecce Homo.” In other words, “Behold the man!” Through July 19, at Pavel Zoubok Gallery (531 W. 26th St., btw.10th & 11th Aves.). Hours: Tues.-Sat., 10am6pm. For info, call 212-675-7490 or visit pavelzoubok.com.
Let Freedom Ring
G AYC I T Y N E WS .CO M FRANCESCO@GAYCITYNEWS.COM 646-452-2496
June 20 - July 3, 2013
The New Adventures of an Underemployed Urban Elf Rev. Jen, on why Downtown still kinda rocks BY REV. JEN Saying Downtown is dead is like saying disco is dead. It’s not. As long as weddings and bar mitzvahs exist, someone, somewhere in this world will dance to KC and the Sunshine Band or The Village People. But like disco, Downtown can be unbearable at times — especially on Saturday nights, when Ludlow Street turns into “Girls Gone Wild Cancun” without the tans or bikinis. If you live Downtown, as I do, there is oft a night when two Benadryl and two earplugs are required just to block it out, sleep and face the next day. Despite this, Downtown still kinda rocks. Here’s a few reasons why. Let’s start with my favorite subject: me! After 12 years of working at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, where I provided stellar customer service and yuks, I was fired — without warning, a severance package or any trace of humanity. Rather than curl up in the fetal position, drinking and crying for several days (okay, I did do that), I bounced back and did what the Lower East Side is best at: I turned the lemons into lemonade. As many of you know, I have run my own “Museum” since 2000. “Reverend Jen’s Lower East Side Troll Museum” is located in my apartment, where my collection of over 400 troll dolls is displayed — surrounded by my psychedelic paintings and a level of eccentricity most consider as outmoded as the cotton gin. The Troll Museum is kind of like Warhol’s Factory without the money, fame or recognition. So upon my job “termination” I decided the thing to do was to create a historic stroll of the neighborhood combined with a visit to the Troll Museum. I also added a bikini-clad assistant and a musical guest. Immediately, people signed up. Why? Because the Guggenheim, MoMA, Met, the Tenement Museum and even the Museum of Sex have no trolls, bikini-clad assistants or musical guests. We began our stroll on the Southeast corner of Orchard and Delancey. I wore a sandwich board advertising the Troll Museum and my “Barker Beauty” Amanda Pearson (a burlesque performer who has also posed for “Penthouse”) wore a hot pink bikini while holding up an applause sign as guests gathered. Among them was a child who wanted me to autograph her troll dolls and a young man wearing elf ears. The child brought along a portable fan with which to cool down other guests. Our first stop was Bereket Turkish Kebab House (187 E. Houston St.). As one Yelp reviewer pointed out, Bereket’s food is a great weapon against hangovers. It’s also where our musical guest, Super Bad Brad, who’s appeared several times on “Amateur Night at the Apollo,” greeted us. Armed with a giant boom box, ill-fitting '70s attire and a voice like Marvin Gaye, he busted out hits ranging from “Ave Maria” to “Me and Mrs. Jones.”
Photo by Andrew Marks (andrewmarksphoto.com)
Don’t call it a tour, but DO tip your guide: Rev. Jen (inside sandwich sign) and crew, on the inaugural Troll Stroll.
After dancing in the streets, we waved goodbye to Brad and went by Katz’s Deli (205 E. Houston St.), a dining establishment that's survived two World Wars and the Great Depression. Why? Because people love a good swinging sausage party. This was followed by my “Gentrification Puppet Show” wherein I used poorly made cardboard puppets to reenact the Dutch “purchasing” Manhattan from the Lenape. The fun didn’t end there. After several other stops, which included a visit to the empty lot that is now the resting place of Collective: Unconscious (where I used to do my open mic), we made our way to B&B International LLC, Discount Center (110 Ludlow St.), where you can look at holographic art featuring tigers, Jesus and the Virgin Mary for a lot less than a visit to MoMa. There, one visitor even procured a pair of hot pink goggles, which matched Amanda’s bikini perfectly. We then stopped by Jade Fountain Liquor Corporation (123 Delancey St.) — a store I’ve frequented for two decades due to their prices. As yet another astute Yelp reviewer observed, the money they’d saved shopping there will buy them “a new liver” when the time comes. Since temperatures were soaring above 90 degrees, we cut out other stops and climbed “Mount Rev” (my six-floor walkup) to the
Troll Museum — where visitors regaled in the bewildering variety of trolls on view. I think most Troll Strollers would agree that it was an experience unique to the Lower East Side and unlike any other experience on earth. The next one will leave from the Southeast corner of Orchard and Delancey on Saturday, June 22nd, at 3pm. FREE (though donating money to your extremely poor “guide” is heavily encouraged). Aside from the Troll Stroll, if you’re looking for cool stuff to do on the Lower East Side, there's plenty of activity. The day after the Stroll was a Sunday. This is considered by many to be a day of rest. However, when you’re on “funemployment,” every day is a day of rest. I decided to go out. For over a year, my friend, Tom Clark, has produced a music show called “The Treehouse” at 2A (25 Ave. A), a favorite bar of mine — not just because it features great talent, but also because the address is in the bar’s name (it’s on Second and A). So no matter how banged up you get on government cheese and Budweiser, you can find it. Also, Tom doesn’t book crappy musicians. Ever. This week, I saw a renowned musician named Ann Klein play a cover of Glen Campbell’s “Gentle on My Mind” that offered me a catharsis. And, amazingly, that catharsis was free. Check out the Treehouse every Sunday at 8:30pm. The musicianship will amaze you.
Finally, they say laughter is the best medicine — and as somebody who can't afford medicine, I couldn’t agree more. Tuesday nights offer two great opportunities to laugh away crippling depression (I would have written about Mondays but until I can also afford Botox, I need a day off). My first stop Tuesday was Lucky Jack’s, a pub that hosts a free comedy open mic. If you are a neophyte comedian or a potential audience member who wants to laugh while drinking a properly poured Guinness, go there (every Tuesday, 6pm, 129 Orchard St.). You can find even more yuks immediately after (at 8pm) at No Fun, a bar just two blocks away (161 Ludlow St., btw Stanton & E. Houston Sts.). Don’t let the name fool you. No Fun is fun! Host Todd Montesi books a comedy show that will make you forget you are suffering. So there you have it. The Lower East Side isn’t completely lame. There is plenty to do that doesn’t involve velvet ropes or excessive cash. So get out there and support the avant-garde, the experimental and the 99 cent-plus places of Downtown NYC. The opinions in this column are those of one very specific urban elf, and do not necessarily reflect those of the staff, interns or drinking buddies of this fine publication. For all things Rev. Jen, visit revjen.com.
June 20 - July 3, 2013
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June 20 - July 3, 2013
Photo by Lincoln Anderson
Photo by April Sandmeyer
Alan Merrill, who wrote “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll,” rocked the 6th and B stage.
A trio sat in the fallen tree’s crook, from left, Nora Kolosiej, Lucas Haluska and Manny Vega.
I luv 6th and B, so now put another roof up, baby! By Lincoln Anderson Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Village’s 6th and B Garden hard. An enormous willow tree was sent falling diagonally across the Avenue B green oasis, shearing off two other trees’ branches on the garden’s south side as it came crashing down. The superstorm’s winds also blew off the stage roof’s fiberglass panels, leaving them scattered all over the place. The panels were gathered up and tacked back onto the roof frame, but it was just a makeshift job. So, on Sun., June 9, 6th and B held a “Raise the Stage Roof” party, with the target of pulling in $2,500 to install a sturdy, new, polycarbonate canopy. Roger DeGennaro, the garden’s event committee chairperson, explained that a watertight roof is needed to keep the wooden stage below from rotting and also to protect its electrical system. Gracing the stage last Sunday were the Hayes Greenfield Trio, Marni Rice of Mad Juana, Maya Caballero, Joff Wilson of the Bowery Boys, Rick Eckerly and Alan Merrill, who, in 1975 while in the band Arrows,
wrote the classic rock anthem “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll.” Merrill was the lead singer on the infectious rockin’ riff, which didn’t chart due to poor promotion. But in 1981, the song was famously covered by Joan Jett. The 6th and B bash also rocked some great grub courtesy of Gruppo Pizza, which donated 20 large pies; Veselka, which contributed sandwiches; Metropolitan Market (a.k.a. Met Foods), which helped out with hot dogs, hamburgers and condiments; and Veniero’s, which contributed cookies. Afterward, Sally Young, the garden’s president, reported the fundraiser had been a good haul. “We’re halfway to our goal,” she said. “We’ll do some garden rentals and other stuff, but we’ll get it done.” Trees whose branches were sheared off by the falling willow also need pruning, she added. They hope to install the new roof by July. “It will look very similar to what’s up there now, but it’ll be strong, much stronger,” Young said. “Hopefully, it’ll withstand another hurricane.”
Photos by Lincoln Anderson
The gardener of the plot with this piece at 6th and B is more into art than plants, it seems. But members are concerned about his use of sharp glass shards to cover the plot’s surface.
Carmine was selling vintage rock posters — this one for just $30 — to raise bucks for the garden, while simultaneously effortlessly continuing to grow his beard. It’s his new thing, and he said his goal is to attain “ZZ Top” length.
June 20 - July 3, 2013
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