The Paper of Record for East and West Villages, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown
June 26, 2014 • FREE Volume 4 • Number 16
Li wins a third term to lead C.B. 3, beats Marlow by 31 to 15 BY LESLEY SUSSMAN
ommunity Board 3 Chairperson Gigi Li easily coasted to re-election to a third term at Tuesday night’s full-board meeting, beating challenger Chad Marlow. Li won about two-thirds of the board, by a vote of 31 to 15.
Marlow has been a frequent and outspoken critic of Li’s leadership of the 50-member volunteer board. Four members were absent for the vote. Marlow is aligned with a faction of board members who recently accused Li of racial insensitivity because C.B. 3, continued on p. 6
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
n the ongoing legal slugfest over N.Y.U.’s superblocks plan — which has been left reeling on the ropes after a judge’s ruling — last Friday, a coalition of opponents threw another punch, filing a “cross-appeal” in state Appellate Court.
In January, Justice Donna Mills ruled in State Supreme Court that the city had violated state law by allowing New York University to take over three public parks for construction-related purposes during the school’s 20year South Village expansion project. N.Y.U. LAWSUIT, continued on p. 7
PHOTO BY MILO HESS
N.Y.U. plan foes say run is a park, doggone it, as appeals are filed
A woman wore a tasty costume at Saturday’s Coney Island Mermaid Parade. See page 4.
Soccer scores a goooooal! as Cup fever grows in U.S. BY SERGEI KLEBNIKOV
he World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world. According to FIFA (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association), some 3.2 billion people watched at least a few minutes of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Now, four years later, media experts say that the Brazil 2014 tournament will become the most watched
sporting event in history, as record numbers of television viewers are likely to tune in. Large domestic audiences, new technologies, timing of matches and the sport’s growing fan base in countries where other sports take precedence will all contribute to increased viewership around the world. One key component to more viewers in recent years has been the growth of “the beautiful game” in the U.S., the world’s biggest sports market. U.S. soccer has in-
deed seen significant development in recent years. Youth programs around the country are becoming increasingly effective in producing stars of future generations. The national team has slowly earned more global respect with increasingly solid performances on the world stage. The TV industry has played a large part, as well, with broadcasting companies like NBC Sports, which WORLD CUP, continued on p. 12
Extell two-tower plan called ‘segregated’.......page 2 Not a rent freeze, but a bit of a thaw................page 9 L.E.S. Dwellers’ call for change at C.B. 3.......page 11 Haring reno goes swimmingly...page 9 | May 14, 2014
Extell L.E.S. project blasted as ‘segregation’ BY ZACH WILLIAMS
ary Barnett, the head of Extell Development, told the C.B. 3 Land Use Committee last week that his company would replace the former Lower East Side Pathmark supermarket, as well as construct 204 new affordable housing units at the site. However, at the June 18 meeting, committee members and residents alike criticized the current plans for the project, which will include a 68-story condo tower at 250 South St. — plus a supermarket in the building’s base — while the affordable units will be in a separate 13-story building on the same parcel, with a separate address, 229 Cherry St. “Segregation is segregation and that’s what this is,” said Nancy Ortiz, a committee member. But financing a mixed-use building under current market conditions would be impossible, Barnett said. Furthermore, prospective condo buyers would not be able to secure mortgages through banks and Fannie Mae if their properties were to be located in the same building as affordable housing units, according to Barnett. “If we had to put all the affordable
[units] in the building, it would now be 15 stories higher, that much taller, longer to build, much more expensive,” he said. Responding to numerous residents’ concerns, Barnett said his company would work with Community Board 3 and residents to mitigate construction noise and traffic disruptions; install more nighttime lighting at the site to improve safety; and give additional updates throughout the construction. The presentation from Extell included numbers aimed at garnering support from residents, including a planned 50 percent lottery preference for C.B. 3 residents applying for the affordable housing. There will be 49 studio apartments for $833 per month, 50 one-bedroom apartments for $895 per month, and 105 two-bedroom apartments for $1,082 per month. A commercial plaza between the buildings would accommodate a 25,000-square-foot grocery story and 8,000-square-foot pharmacy, as well as a smaller business, such as a coffee shop, Barnett said. Foundation work at the site will begin in three months with completion of the entire project expected about three years later, according to Extell. Specific commercial operators have
yet to be determined, but Barnett added that the developer welcomes the community’s suggestions. Current real estate prices and construction costs, however, make building affordable housing more difficult than it once was, according to Barrett, who earlier said that “perfection is the enemy of achievement.” “Most of the affordable housing that’s been done in the city has been stand-alone projects,” he explained. “There’s been a lot of stand-alone projects where you could get the land cheap; so, you could afford to build affordable housing by itself.” By constructing the affordable housing units on site as 20 percent of the project’s overall residential space, the company will qualify for tax breaks over the next two decades. Eventually the company will cede ownership of the affordable housing units to a community organization yet to be determined, Barnett said. “One of the benefits of a separate building is that all of the units are permanently affordable,” he stated. Committee members and residents disagreed with the notion that it would be “impossible,” as Barnett said, to mix affordable housing with condominiums in the residential tow-
er. They said examples of mixed-income housing abound. Affordable housing’s presence in the same building would not likely affect the ability of a condo buyer to secure a mortgage, according to Lawrence J. White, an N.Y.U. economics professor and expert on the mortgage industry. “It seems odd that Fannie would not buy an individual mortgage loan from an originator by an otherwise perfectly suitable borrower who had all the requisite conditions,” he said in a phone interview. Contention at the meeting, though, didn’t end with Extell’s presentation. Local resident Samuel Vasquez charged that the lack of Spanish translation kept some people from actively participating. “This board needs to show a real reflection of the community. These people out here, they are minority groups,” he said of the audience members. “Up here, the majority is what? Caucasians,” he said of the committee. The comment elicited some applause, gasps and a stern response from Ortiz, who suggested Vasquez has priorities beyond fully participating in the community board process. “You don’t show up until the cameras come out,” she said.
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June 26, 2014
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PHOTO BY CLAYTON PATTERSON
“It was really humbling to win a national award.” Sando also described how special it was for P.S. 41, as a public school, to be honored with industry leaders in the building community. When the project was started six and a half years ago, there were a lot of issues, Sando recalled. Millions of dollars went into the green roof, and the effort was a result of the hard work of an entire team that included school Principal Kelly Shannon and officials from the city’s Department of Education and the School Construction Authority. As the green roof idea’s founder, Sando served as project leader and accepted the award on behalf of the entire team. “Everybody was part of the process,” she said. The Urban Green Council presented the EBie Awards in an Oscar-style award ceremony. The EBies (short for “Existing Buildings”) recognize improved environmental performance in existing buildings, and put a spotlight on the leaders who have found solutions for improved efficiency. P.S. 41’s green roof won in the Verdant Brainiac: Green Renovation Innovation category. “It was a very lively ceremony,” said Sando, who referred to the “good energy and great group of people.” She added that she has a lot of respect for the Urban Green Council, which made “every nominee present feel special.” After launching the city’s largest green roof on a public school, P.S. 41 has reportedly inspired more than 20 other schools to begin building their own rooftop learning labs and incorporating green roofs into their science programs. In addition to improvements in education, the 15,000-squarefoot modular tray system dramatically increased the building’s energy efficiency. The roof also provides several ecological services, such as absorbing stormwater and providing habitats for urban wildlife. Several schools have toured the green roof, and are now eager to start similar projects, Sando noted, adding she hopes the project can continue to set a good example for others around the city.
FROM FISH TO CHICK: The former Max Fish bar space on Ludlow St. is now Sweet Chick, a comfort-food place. John Seymour, above right, Sweet Chick’s owner, posed for a photo with Ricky Powell, a.k.a. the “Original NYC Street Photographer.” Powell, a Greenwich Village native, rose to fame with the Beastie Boys. THEY’RE GELL’IN! The GELL Project at P.S.
41, which is now home to New York City’s largest green roof on a public school, won an EBie award on June 9 at the Urban Green Council’s Third Annual Award Ceremony. Known as The Greenwich Village School, P.S. 41, on W. 11th St. at Sixth Ave, was honored at the rockin’ ceremony, which took place at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. A juried competition that celebrates innovators behind significant improvements to building efficiency, the EBie Awards recognize finalists from all over the country. Among this year’s winners — and the only one from New York — the Green Roof Environmental Literacy Laboratory (GELL) Project was founded in 2006 by Vicki Sando, the environmental science program developer at P.S. 41. “It was a huge honor,” she told The Villager. EastVillagerNews.com
HEALTHPLEX E.D. TOUR: This summer, on
the ground floor of the former St. Vincent’s Hospital O’Toole Building, North Shore/LIJ Health System will debut the first phase of its Lenox Hill HealthPlex facility — a 24/7 freestanding emergency department. Over the next year, other elements of the medical center (on the upper floors) will begin providing health and wellness services. In anticipation of the E.D. becoming operational, the public is invited to attend an open house, during which they can ask staff questions about services, and learn about current and future plans for the HealthPlex. The open house will be on Sat., June 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (tours last about 30 minutes), at the Lenox Hill HealthPlex, at 30 Seventh Ave., between W. 12th and 13th Sts. To attend, RSVP by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or just stop by. For more info on the facility, visit lenoxhillhealthplex.org .
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‘Coney Island babies,’ from mermaid mama to big Bill Saturday’s Coney Island Mermaid Parade saw all manner of mermaids and mermen, plus plenty of pirates, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was accompanied by New York’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, as a blue mermaid. Their children, Dante and Chiara, were chosen to be King Neptune and Queen Mermaid of the annual boardwalk confab.
June 26, 2014
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I N PROU D COLLABORATION WITH
June 26, 2014
Li re-elected chairperson with two-thirds vote C.B. 3, continued from p. 1
of her failure to appoint any African-American or Latino members to chair C.B. 3 committees. Li and her supporters have strongly denied the accusations. Marlow also argued that Li had mishandled several other high-profile flare-ups during her twoyear tenure. Marlow, a senior policy adviser with the city’s Department of Health, had pledged that, if elected, he would appoint an executive committee and committee chairpersons that “reflect the diversity of the community board and the community it serves.” After the results of the paper-ballot vote were announced Tuesday evening, Li told The Villager, “I’m excited and thankful that there were enough board members who felt that I should be afforded a third year to make some changes and continue on the projects that I’ve been working on.” The C.B. 3 chairperson added that she was more than willing to work closely with those board members who opposed her re-election. “Everyone plays a really important role on this board,” she said. Li added, “There have been some real issues that have been raised in this process, and I think a lot of those can be addressed with structural and leadership changes.” In her earlier, two-minute, pre-vote comments, Li, who is director of the Neighborhood Family Services Coalition, acknowledged it had been a challenging year for her. Addressing an audience of more than 100 local residents, she focused her remarks on her years growing up in an immigrant family on Canal St. “This community is my home,” she said. “The hopes and dreams that my parents had for me are the same hopes and dreams that many of the residents of this community continue to strive for — and those are opportunity, access and equity. These are the same values I bring to you as board chairperson.” Marlow, during his pre-vote remarks, chose not to speak about his personal background, but about the need for change on the community board. “I think, unfortunately, because in large part how this board had been operated, the community has lost a lot of faith in our board,” he said. After the election results were announced, Marlow told this newspaper that he was “not disappointed” with the outcome. “I think the board got to raise some important issues that need to be discussed over the next year,” he said. “I think we’re going to need to move forward and work on them together. “For anyone to challenge the existing power structure is difficult, but what’s most important is that we now all come together,” he added. “I think the board is going to do that, but in order to bring the community in and make them feel better about this vote, it’s going to take some work. I think we’re all going to have to engage in that work.” Ayo Harrington, an African-American C.B. 3 member, helped fuel the revolt against Li with her stinging accusation of racism. Harrington filed a complaint with the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, charging Li with refusing to appoint qualified black and Latino members who wanted to chair committees.
June 26, 2014
Gigi Li, left, held off challenger Chad Marlow in Tuesday’s C.B. 3 chairperson election.
Harrington, a strong Marlow ally, said she was “very, very disappointed by the outcome.” “I think for this community board to have facts in front of their faces that are irrefutable, and then not vote for change after Li’s proven two-year record of exclusion of minorities and the inefficiencies of her running of board meetings is inexcusable,” she said. Harrington, however, did offer a conciliatory note. “Regardless of who won,” she said, “all of us are members of a 50-member board and we’re all going to have to work together.” She emphasized, though, that that doesn’t mean she thinks things at C.B. 3 are all kumbaya. “I’m not saying this is a call for unity because I’m not going to pretend that there’s unity on this board,” she said. “We’ll see whether or not changes are going to be made, but I strongly suspect that changes will be made because someone feels forced to make them rather than knowing that it’s the right thing to do. And therein lies the hurt to the community.” Board member Kate Webster, one of Li’s most ardent supporters, said she believed Li was “going to move the board forward.” “The board will get smarter and we’ll unify,” Webster said. “I think the point that was made was an important point and now we need to move forward. That’s what a good board does.” Former C.B. 3 Chairperson Dominic Berg stated he was pleased by the whole process. “Gigi heard about some issues and she’s going to make changes,” he said. “I think a large majority of the board saw that, which is why they voted for her.” Despite the dramatic buildup to the election, with charges and denials of racism flying back and forth, the evening’s proceedings were relatively sedate, without the excitement or divisiveness that
many board members had anticipated. Only Li and Marlow were involved in a contest, while all other candidates for board officer positions — ranging from treasurer to recording secretary — were unanimously re-elected. Herman Hewitt was re-elected first vice chairperson; Ricky Leung, second vice chairperson; Carlina Rivera, secretary; Jamie Rogers, assistant secretary; and Bill LoSasso, treasurer. The Villager, in a special online editorial last week, endorsed Marlow, saying he would bring change, activism and inclusiveness to C.B. 3, plus make the board more responsive to the community. Before the election, Marlow sat down for an endorsement interview with The Villager, but Li declined the opportunity to make her case to the newspaper for another term. Most Manhattan community boards have term limits of from two to four years, but C.B. 3 does not. Susan Stetzer, C.B. 3 district manager, provided The Villager with the election vote sheet, showing who voted for who. Voting for Li were David Adams, Dominic Berg, Karen Blatt, Karlin Chan, Jimmy Cheng, MyPhuong Chung, David Crane, Enrique Cruz, Morris Faitelwicz, Flora Ferng, Gloria Goldenberg, Herman Hewitt, Linda Jones, Meghan Joye, Lisa Kaplan, Carol Kostik, Ben Landy, Mae Lee, John Leo, Ricky Leung, Alysha Lewis-Coleman, Li, Bill LoSasso, Alexandra Militano, Chiun Ng, Richard Ropiak, Christopher Santana, Josephine Velez, Kathleen Webster, Justin Yu and Thomas Yu. Voting for Marlow were Lisa Burriss, Justin Carroll, Jan Hanvik, Ayo Harrington, Anne Johnson, Vaylateena Jones, Marlow, Ariel Palitz, Carolyn Ratcliffe, Joyce Ravitz, Carlina Rivera, James Rogers, Susan Scheer, Nancy Sparrow-Bartow and Rodney Washington. Not present were Penina Mezei, Teresa Pedroza, Julie Ulmet and Zulma Zayas. EastVillagerNews.com
N.Y.U. plan foes say run is a park, doggone it N.Y.U. LAWSUIT, continued from p. 1
PHOTO BY THE VILLAGER
The park strips are located on N.Y.U.’s two jumbo-sized blocks between Houston and W. Third Sts. N.Y.U. and the de Blasio administration filed notices of appeal after Mills’s ruling, and N.Y.U. filed its appeal several weeks ago. The city filed its appeal in May. The coalition includes more than 20 community members and groups. Their legal brief maintains that the lower court “got it right” in finding that the three city-owned parcels — Mercer Playground, LaGuardia Park and LaGuardia Corner Gardens — are public parks, since the city treated them as such and the public has used them as parks for decades. The coalition is now asking the Appellate Court to require the city and N.Y.U. to “halt the project, re-examine the building plans and city approvals that were based on the illegal alienation of public parkland, and conduct a proper environmental review that takes the protected status of these parks into account.” Mills ruled that the state Legislature must first “alienate” the park strips — removing their park status — before they can be used as con-
Roger, a friendly Italian Spinone, 5, lounged in the Mercer-Houston Dog Run on Wednesday.
struction staging areas. The coalition is also asking the Appellate Court to rule that the Mercer-Houston Dog Run is parkland, too. Mills stated that this open-space strip is not a public park, partly because it charges a nominal membership fee and N.Y.U. maintains it. However, the opponents will argue that the city “openly intended the [dog run] land to be used by the public for recreation, and it has been used in exactly that way for over 40 years.” If N.Y.U. is to get its paws, so to speak, on the dog run, to use its footprint for its new “Zipper Building,” then this strip, again, must first be alienated by the state Legislature, the coalition says.
The university’s “N.Y.U. 2031” project called for 2 million square feet of development on the two university-owned superblocks, which N.Y.U. considers part of its “campus core” area. N.Y.U. maintains it can still at least build the “Zipper” — including about half of that space — based on Mills’s ruling. Responding to the coalition’s cross-appeal, N.Y.U. stressed that the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP — the city’s official approval process — for the full, four-building project remains valid. However, Mills’s ruling effectively blocks construction of at least two, and possibly three, of those planned buildings. In a statement, the university said, “N.Y.U.’s core plan that provides for the university’s academic space needs was overwhelmingly approved by the City Planning Commission and the City Council in 2012 as part of the city’s ULURP process. That process included an extensive environmental review. Justice Mills, in her decision, upheld the ULURP process and the environmental review… . The status of the Department of Transportation strips — whether or not they are determined to be ‘implied parkland’ —
has no impact on the validity of these ULURP approvals. “Similarly, Justice Mills ruled that the strip of land that includes the Mercer dog run was not ‘implied parkland,’ so there are no legal impediments to construction on the site of the current Coles gym… . “As for the...other three D.O.T. strips,” N.Y.U.’s statement continued, “the university respectfully disagrees with Justice Mills’s decision that these strips are ‘implied parkland’ and has asked the Appellate Division to overturn this part of the justice’s decision. … We believe the city should make land available for recreational and other uses without having to permanently dedicate it as parkland. ...” In its own brief to the Appellate Division, N.Y.U. said, “The lower court failed to appreciate the legal significance of the fact that these [D.O.T.] parcels are mapped as streets… . New York City streets are held in trust for the public, and cannot be permanently dedicated for another use — whether as parkland or anything else — without a public review process and legislative action.” Oral argument is expected in September.
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June 26, 2014
POLICE BLOTTER Mass-transit medley
According to police, on Mon., June 23, at 12:34 p.m., officers observed William Perry, 30, riding a Citi Bike on the sidewalk on Bedford St. and Seventh Ave. Upon further investigation, it was determined that Perry was “not in lawful possession” of the bike, according to the police report. When approached by police, however, he fled into the subway at Christopher St. and Seventh Ave. South, allegedly jumping a turnstile and running down the platform. Perry was seen jumping down onto the tracks, before crossing over and climbing a ladder onto the other side. A passerby then notified police that the man had gotten onto an M.T.A. bus heading down Seventh Ave. South. Police found and stopped the bus, and arrested Perry for felony criminal possession of stolen property.
While running a car’s licence plate through his scanner on Tues., June 17, a traffic agent came across a car that was reported stolen from Yonkers. The car was pulled over at 3 p.m., on W. 14th St., and police questioned Derrick Williams, 54, and Isreal Robinson, 22. An officer spoke with the car’s owner and verified that it was being used illegally. One of the men admitted “that he did drive the vehicle,” and without permission, according to the police report. The two men were charged with criminal possession of stolen property, a felony.
ing in concert” with another unidentified accomplice, according to police, snatched an iPhone 5S, a Kate Spade wallet and a Coach keychain from a female victim, 20, in front of 54 W. 14th St. at 11:15 p.m. The phone was worth $600 the wallet, $170, and the keychain, $180. The accomplice, Pino, then reportedly met him at a different location, where he allegedly “gave him his shirt” to disguise the other’s appearance, according to reports. Several witnesses observed and took photos of the clothing exchange, and police quickly arrived on the scene to take the two youths into custody. A “show-up” was conducted with the victim and witnesses, and the robber was picked out of the lineup. The victim’s cell phone was recovered from the juvenile’s back pocket.
Teen robbing team
Citi Bike kicks
A 17-year-old and an accomplice Thomas Pino, 19, were charged for grand larceny on June 19. The 17-year-old — whose name was withheld due to his age — “act-
Police were informed by a witness at 12:30 a.m. on Tues., June 17, that a teen was observed illegally removing Citi Bikes from their docking stations. The youth, 16 — whose name was not released by police due to his age — was seen by a female witness, 24, in front of 224 W. Fourth St., reportedly removing two bikes by kicking the locked tires until they came loose and causing damage to the docking stations. He was seen giving the bikes out to accomplices Mario Jiminez, 18, and a female, 17, whose name was also not released due to her age. When police arrived, Jiminez and the female fled the scene, but eventually were caught. Reportedly, they both flailed their arms and refused to put their hands behind their back while being arrested, but apparently were not charged with resisting arrest.
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The three youths were charged with felony grand larceny, and the two stolen Citi Bikes, valued at $1,200 each, were recovered.
Trailer bash Five people were arrested last Thurs., June 19, for breaking into a construction site trailer in the West Village and remaining there overnight. Brian Cowan, 22; Alexis Moreno, 19; Dominic Logue, 21; Aaron Prince, 24, and an underage female, 17, reportedly broke into the locked trailer — owned by a trailer rental company, Cassone — by breaking a side window, causing over $250 in damage. The five perpetrators then remained inside the commercial trailer, located in the courtyard of a residential building at 155 Bank St., before they were apprehended by police at 4:10 a.m. They were charged with a felony for forced entry and burglary.
Swiper and sleeper Also last Thursday, police in the subway station at Eighth Ave. and W. 14th St. reportedly observed Arnulfo Teapila Garcia, 38, stealing $26 from a sleeping man on the platform. The victim, 25, had his wallet removed from his front left pants pocket while sleeping on a platform bench at 5:40 a.m. Garcia removed the $26, before throwing the billfold onto the platform and walking away. He was arrested for grand larceny, a felony, and the stolen money was recovered from his pocket. Police apprehended him without incident, but did find that he had a previously open warrant.
PUBLIC NOTICE NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, PURSUANT TO LAW, that the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs will hold a Public Hearing on Wednesday, July 02, 2014 at 2:00 P.M. at 66 John Street, 11th floor, on a petition for MILLER’S NEAR & FAR LLC to establish, maintain, and operate an unenclosed sidewalk cafe at 65 RIVINGTON STREET in the Borough of Manhattan for a term of two years. REQUESTS FOR COPIES OF THE REVOCABLE CONSENT AGREEMENT MAY BE ADDRESSED TO: DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS, ATTN: FOIL OFFICER, 42 BROADWAY, NEW YORK, NY 10004. Vil: 06/26/2014
www.GrowNYC.org/clothing 212.788.7964 GrowNYC’s Office of Recycling Outreach and Education is a NYC Department of Sanitation funded program
June 26, 2014
Rent board bucks de Blasio’s call for a freeze BY ZACH WILLIAMS
ity landlords scored a political victory Monday night, even as the Rent Guidelines Board voted to enact the smallest rent increase in the history of the city’s rent-stabilization program. Hopes were high before the meeting that a historic rent freeze would win approval, especially after Mayor de Blasio reiterated his support earlier that day. The board instead approved a 1 percent increase for one-year leases and a 2.75 percent increase for two-year leases by a 5-to-4 margin. The new rates will take effect this Oct. 1. Board members accused each other of political bias and intellectual disingenuous. In the end, R.G.B. public member Steven Flax — a de Blasio appointee — countered expectations by casting the deciding vote in favor of the increases. He accused board members who represent the interests of building owners of appropriating his proposal through duplicitous means. “I’ve had intense pressure from both the right and the left, some of it dirty some of it principled,” he said. “I gotta vote my conscience. This is
my proposal. I apologize, but I vote in favor of the motion.” Raucous audience members in the Great Hall of The Cooper Union were not happy. Dozens quickly swarmed in front of the stage, but a small squad of security men in suits quickly formed a defensive line, as board members promptly exited through the rear of the stage. Advocates of raising rents said that not doing so would endanger rent-stabilized housing over all by depriving owners of sufficient funds to maintain facilities and pay increasing costs of labor, taxes and utilities. R.G.B. board member Magda Cruz, a partner at real estate law firm Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman, said the proposal for a “radical” rent freeze would “completely ignore the evidence” of landlords’ burdensome costs, in favor of political motivations and the “financial pressures faced by some tenants.” Keeping rents at current levels would “exasperate housing inequality,” she argued. Supporting rent increases strengthens the rent-regulation program by keeping affordable housing profitable for building owners who would otherwise operate at a loss,
added David Wenk, a public member of the board. He said that proponents of a rent freeze were misdirecting their efforts. “I think the process is really broken down here,” he said. “Our intellectual rigor, I think, has been sidestepped by selective use of data, leaps of logic that turn a blind eye to those facts which don’t support the political agenda.” Rent-freeze supporters, though, argued that prior board decisions had jacked up rents so much that the time had come to give tenants relief. Prior estimates of increased costs on landlords were too high, yet were approved anyway, charged Sheila Garcia, an R.G.B. tenant member. “We keep ignoring one important increase, which is that year after year even they didn’t merit increases, they got them,” she said of landlords, speaking before the vote. “As much as [landlords] try to ignore it, tenants’ plight is just as important in this conversation.” After the vote, tenant advocates expressed dismay that their best chance in recent years to secure a rent freeze had failed. Brandon Kielbasa, an organizer with the Cooper Square Committee, said another
year of rent increases disappoints him, but the fight will continue next year when the board votes again. “Not what we wanted at all here,” he said. Experiences in recent decades and during the civil rights movement inspire Ernest Russell, a Lower East Side native, to view rising rents as just one more indication of a wider threat to longtime residents, people of color and the elderly. The playing of an unofficial New York City anthem as dozens of activists demonstrated in front of the stage after the vote indicated a lack of respect toward those with more radical political inclinations, he added. “I really believe the icing on the cake was when they put on the song ‘New York, New York,’ ” he said. “This wasn’t a party, and they disappointed the people. Everybody’s disappointed. And then they put that song on. That’s what they think of us,” he said. “There’s a lot of contempt, particularly in the Lower East Side. It’s a progressive, radical neighborhood and this is a way to destroy it, and they damn near destroyed it. They’re bringing in people without the values which we had down there.”
PHOTO NYC PARKS/JONATHAN KUHN
Mural fix went swimmingly The Parks Department’s Citywide Monuments Conservation Program has restored Keith Haring’s 1987 “Carmine Street Swimming Pool Mural” at the Tony Dapolito Pool, at Clarkson St. and Seventh Ave. South. And it’s just in time for this week’s outdoor pool openings at city rec centers. The mural was repaired and selectively repainted. Work to clean and repair the concrete wall was done in collaboration with Parks masons, while Louise Hunnicutt and Associates, LLC, along with Jane Nelson, “in-painted” portions of the mural that required care. The project was sponsored by the Keith Haring Foundation. EastVillagerNews.com
June 26, 2014
Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN
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CONTRIBUTORS IRA BLUTREICH SARAH FERGUSON TEQUILA MINSKY JEFFERSON SIEGEL JERRY TALLMER PHOTO BY KIM FRACZEK
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Buzz-alujah! Last call for Reverend Billy’s Bee-in Last Sunday was the finale of Reverend Billy’s “HoneyBeeLujah!” show at Joe’s Pub. The gospel-style review featured Reverend Billy evangelizing about the link between mass die-offs of bees worldwide and the widespread use of “neocotinoid” pesticides in factory farming. The show also featured the most evolved performances yet by the 40-member Stop Shopping Choir and their Not Buying It Band — who bring foot-stomping fervor to songs about climate change and species loss. During the show’s eight-week run, Billy honored local activists and beekeepers on stage. The previous Sunday, he “cannonized” the Cooper Union students who staged a 65-day occupation of the president’s office to protest the imposition of tuition fees. The Rev. also invited members of the Lower Eastside Girls Club Choir, above, to perform their own ode to bees. Last Sunday, he conferred sainthood on Ronnie Cummins, founder of the Organic Consumers Association and a “legend” in the safe food movement. Afterward, Billy invited folks to join the choir for an after-party/fundraiser at Swift’s Hibernian Lounge, on E. Fourth St. They’re mustering funds for another theatrical “invasion” of Harvard’s Microrobotics Lab — where researchers are developing a “Robobee” to replace the real bees that our pesticides are killing. It’s a Dr. Strangelove-like travesty that Billy says can only be defeated by public exposure and “magic surrealism.”
PUBLISHER EMERITUS JOHN W. SUTTER
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June 26, 2014
To The Editor: Re “C.B. 3 problems loom large in chairperson race” (talking point, by Anne Johnson, June 29): As a lifelong Lower East Side resident and an L.E.S. advocate, I have applied to become a member of Community Board 3 for the last five years. I have helped leaders of this community on more projects than I care to remember. Yet, I have not been given the opportunity to serve on the community board, as a resident who has stood up against the current practices within C.B. 3. As a community advocate, I’m certainly happy to hear that these practices are currently being looked into by our Borough President’s Office. May divinity be her guide. Furthermore, after reading Anne
Johnson’s column, I can say from firsthand experience that the practices that are alleged at the community board do exist, and, yes, there is a lot of backroom politics occurring that will hinder the true diversity of this great, historic community. This problem needs to be addressed and corrected, now! I certainly feel that C.B. 3 needs more minority leadership, and, yes, that more minorities need to be appointed to the board. There have been many upstanding residents who have helped the community’s struggles over many years to keep this wonderful community’s diversity alive. Yet their work will have been in vain if this practice by C.B. 3 is not legally addressed now. Has the time come for real change? I will continue to observe from the outside. Samuel Vasquez
L.E.S. living levee To The Editor: Re “‘Living barrier’ will protect East Side from storm surges” (news article, June 5): We are very pleased that the construction for this area will take place very soon and that it will be completed in less than four years! Elisabeth Kennedy E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 515 Canal St., Suite 1C, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters. EastVillagerNews.com
Until C.B. 3 is fixed, L.E.S. has no democracy TALKING POINT BY DIEM BOYD
vigorous democracy is what we deserve but not necessarily what we get. These days, our democracy is slipping away, skating perilously close to a full-blown plutocracy. As wealth and power narrow political options, people have become increasingly alienated and have even dropped out of the political process entirely. Yet, the lifeblood of any healthy democracy is civic engagement, i.e., the right of ordinary citizens to determine the public good, set policies that seek the good, and reform institutions that stifle that pursuit. This right is the cornerstone of a democratic society. New York City’s 59 community boards serve as our most immediate and local form of government. These boards were envisioned as a mechanism to empower communities — and, by definition, they must give ordinary citizens a real voice in shaping the development and character of their own neighborhoods. Setting aside the fact that community boards are comprised of individuals appointed by the Manhattan borough president and city councilmembers, community boards were intended to be the most effective and available structure for local citizens to participate in the political process in a significant way. However, when residents feel that they have no place at the table at this most entry level of the body politic, they must find alternative ways to participate in the political process, or continue to call for substantive reform. Many people living on the Lower East Side have become frustratingly disconnected from their community board process and have been obliged to redirect their concerns to their elected politicians, who, while often sympathetic, are more removed from and less engaged with the actual burning issues that affect community residents’ lives. Essentially, citizens have been bumped back one step in the pecking order — in a sense, one step removed from the actual structure that should enable them to participate in the full expression of their own community. Elected politicians have been able to address issues that have been of concern to individual community residents. Earlier this year, Councilmember Margaret Chin helped a resident settle a Department of Environmental Protection nuisance problem and helped press for the correction of major street-condition issues outside a property falling into disrepair. She also helped a small business owner quickly get back into operation by intervening with the agency that had been unreasonably holding up permits. Another example is when, at the request of residents, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver convinced the Police Department to return the streets to community residents by reopening Ludlow, Essex and Rivington Sts. to traffic in the late evenings. Each of these interventions occurred as a result of swift action taken by our local elected leaders. Unfortunately, the sheer number of constituents makes it an impossible task for our representatives to address every person’s individual concerns. An exemplary instance of the way democracy should function is when, on April 27, state Senator Daniel Squadron hosted a well-attended Communi-
ty Convention. Here, residents of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn had access to and dialogue with a key political representative. That afternoon, many residents were able to voice their concerns and suggest solutions to a host of urgent problems in their community. The essential benefit of this kind of public forum is the promotion of an active democracy — one more complicated and perhaps less predictable, but one that holds a directly elected representative accountable to his or her individual constituents. The April 27 convention not only gave a voice to those already active though previously unheard, it was also a call for all citizens to actively engage in their communities rather than stand idly by until the next election or give up hope in the political system entirely. More opportunities for in-person interaction — following the example of the Squadron’s Community Convention — will help to bring elected officials closer to their constituents. Any impediment to direct political access breaks the connection between voter and representative. In this city where a layered governmental system empowers appointed, non-elected representatives as the most powerful link between voters and elected officials, it is essential that the operation of that intermediary body be scrutinized to ensure transparency, integrity and bona fide community representation. When these intermediary bodies — community boards — become entrenched with insulated operations, such as the manipulation of both community district bylaws and board composition, all efforts to challenge the status quo, no matter how justified or pressing, are rendered DOA. This serves to concentrate the power of the board at the expense of the community at large. The end result is that the a priori function of government — to serve the public interest — has basically evaporated. Wall St. might seem an unlikely place to dig for a solution, but a recent trend there is instructive. Socalled activist investors have been effective in shaking up stagnant, entrenched corporate boards. The activists have taken control of boards at several major publicly traded companies. These reinvigorated companies have yielded more competitive returns by virtue of having made tough decisions that replaced those people and practices that had stunted the companies’ growth and bottom line.
Activist investors have justifiably rebranded themselves as shareholder advocates. Playing the “shareholder watchdog” role, they press for change among the boards of directors of underperforming corporations. These bad boards have arranged the corporate bylaws and capital structure so as to perpetuate their own vested financial interest at the expense of broad shareholder interest. Activist investors challenge these entrenched boards and ultimately dislodge them. With income gaps continuing to widen across the nation, it is hard to be a cheerleader for hedge funds and Wall St., but the private-sector lesson here shouldn’t be ignored. Substitute communities for corporations, community boards for corporate boards and active community residents for activist investors and we have a template that might reverse the ossification of insulated community boards, therein reconstituting these bodies as the true advocates for the communities they represent. The failures seen on the Lower East Side are not inherent to the nature of community boards. Rather they result from practices and vested interests unique to this neighborhood. Other community districts have shown that a community board can function as a powerful body that advocates solely on behalf of community residents. It’s clear that the raison d’être of each district’s community board is to heed and respect the voices of the community, so that neighborhood issues from “A” to “Z” are settled most beneficially for all — not in a way that benefits a particular special or vested interest. Put another way, appointed, non-elected boards must represent the community instead of elected officials or special interests, especially financial ones. With entrenched policies and an exclusive rather than inclusive culture, Community Board 3 has been unable to exert a balanced representation of this community. C.B. 3 must focus on rebuilding trust with the public by encouraging robust, innovative ways to give citizens a way back and access to decision making within the existing system. An imperfect system has to be made better in order to restore democracy to the Lower East Side. Boyd is founder, LES Dwellers
The “new kid” moves into the Republican Upper East Side. June 26, 2014
World Cup kicks soccer mania into high gear WORLD CUP, continued from p. 1
June 26, 2014
PHOTOS BY JASON B. NICHOLAS
bought television rights for the Barclays Premier League, England’s primary domestic league, last year. Sports giant ESPN has also been a regular broadcaster of big games, and currently has viewing rights for all of the World Cup matches. ESPN and Spanish-language network Univision had a combined 16 million Americans tuning in to watch the U.S. beat Ghana in their first game, a competitive 2-1 match. This set records for both networks for a soccer game. But with World Cup fever still growing, the U.S.’s next match, against Portugal, shattered that mark, notching a new all-time viewing record, with 24.7 million American viewers. Fueling the excitement around the tournament here is the fact that New York is such a truly global city. Crowds gather everywhere to watch the games — in bars and restaurants, or in outdoor screening venues. The World Cup is “good from a nationalistic point of view,” said a British tavern-goer at Churchill’s Tavern, at 45 E. 28th St. “It’s war without guns,” added a German fan at Zum Schneider, 107 Avenue C, as he sported his country’s colors with a red-yellow-andblack Viking hat on. Of course, all die-hard soccer fans will be following the tournament. But the widespread interest in this year’s tournament is also bringing in new fans. “People are getting involved in World Cup fever who might otherwise not be interested in soccer,” said Sol Metcalfe, an employee at Churchill Tavern. Even local youth soccer programs have been caught up in the spreading futbol mania. Tom Frambach, general manager for Downtown United Soccer Club, talked about their summer camp. With more than 1,000 kids participating, the club has “lots of themes and activities revolved around the World Cup,” he said. At DUSC’s camp, kids are encouraged to participate in fan brackets, trading cards and mini-tournaments. “It’s ingrained in our culture as a club,” he said of the World Cup. “It is important for kids to watch the games as well, because the more accessible they are, the more the kids can aspire and relate to their favorite professional players.” With World Cup fever spreading throughout the city, there are many great venues to watch the world’s biggest sporting event in an exciting atmosphere. One is the above-mentioned Churchill Tavern, which claims to be New York’s finest English-style pub. How-
Brazil fans rejoiced at Sushi Samba, at 87 Seventh Ave. South, as their team trounced Cameroon, 4-1, in World Cup play Monday.
A dancer samba’d outside Sushi Samba before the game.
ever, England’s team already bowed out of the tournament in disappointing style. “It makes the place a livelier environment,” said Sara Perez, an employee there. “There are usually fans here for whichever game is on.” There was a lively atmosphere there to watch the Netherlands demolish defending Cup champs Spain, 5-1. Spain would go on to be
eliminated ingloriously in the next game. The East Village’s Zum Schneider is another hot spot to watch the games. This German beer garden and restaurant has transformed into World Cup central — they show every game live, with replays shown at night. For the first time, the bar is offering a special World Cup menu with traditional Brazilian dishes.
This is the local for German football fans. “Everyone knows if you root for Germany, you have to go to Zum’s,” said a fan outside the bar. During Germany’s highly anticipated opening match against Portugal, the entire street was flooded by a sea of fans wearing German leis, skirts, tops, jerseys, flags, face paint, scarves and hats. Zum Schneider filled up almost immediately, with people lining up several hours before the game to get in. German fans spilled over into nearby bars, restaurants and cafes all along the block to watch the games there and support their team. As the German national team demolished Portugal in an impressive 4-0 win, widespread celebrations kicked off. Inside the bar, fans waving large pints of beer yelled out chants as a DJ played music. People ran out to celebrate in the street, madly waving German flags at stopped traffic. “It is amazing to be with other Germans and to watch in a German community,” said two girls visiting from Germany, who were among the masses gathered for the game. “The mood was amazing,” said Sylvia Lochmann, the place’s manager. She went on to describe how, for big games, like Germany versus the U.S., as well as the semifinal and final matches, they will close the restaurant and move to E. 23rd St. along the East River, where they will have open-air screenings on a massive LED screen, as well as live bands performing. And of course, there is Nevada Smith’s. Described as a “soccer mecca,” the East Village bar, at 100 Third Ave., is perhaps one of the most popular spots to watch the sport in the city. Nevada Smith’s boasts more than four floors, 40 flat-screen TVs and two projectors. There is a reason their motto is “Where Football Is Religion” — the fans are hardcore and passionate about the sport. “Everybody knows this is the real place to watch football,” said Shak Diabi, who was manning the front door. Manager Eric Silva described the “excellent market” the World Cup generates for the bar, including various fan apparel for the games that is sold at the front door. During the U.S.-Ghana match, the place was packed to the brim, with the line to get inside stretching well around the block. More than 300 cheering and yelling fans filled the multilevel watering hole for the game. Other local venues worth noting are Felix, at 340 W. Broadway at Grand St., a French bistro with a large Brazilian fan base, and Mr. DenWORLD CUP, continued on p. 23 EastVillagerNews.com
Wig On, Gloves Off Lady Bunny weighs in on haters, assimilators, and lost club culture
THEATER LADY BUNNY IN “CLOWNS SYNDROME” Open Run: Tuesdays, 8 p.m. At La Escuelita Cabaret Theater 301 W. 39th St. (btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.) Tickets: $19.95 (plus one-drink minimum) Purchase at the door or at brownpapertickets.com/event/629583 Online ticket sales end two hours before showtime Cash only at the door & for drinks Visit enyclub.org & ladybunny.net
B Y SCOT T ST IFFL E R
PHOTO COURTESY OF DDPR
Long in the legs, and even longer in the tooth, Lady Bunny is mad as hell — and you’re going to take it, when the self-proclaimed “old pig in a wig” lipsynchs, struts, swears, mugs, and muses her way through an evening of “very, very independent theater” during which you’re constantly aware of how an iconic, once-grand lady has been inexorably altered by changing times and tastes. Now, wait just a minute. Why would you think we’re talking about Bunny when we say “lady?” That’s transphobic…or is it? “There’s a loss of flavor in the area. It’s unbelievably sad to see New York City now, with XL as our only large gay nightclub,” says Lady Bunny, whose “Clowns Syndrome” is a relentlessly funny and joyously filthy one-drink-minimum
show that lobs equally aggressive salvos at the gay community and the larger culture at hand. It’s sexually charged gay adult entertainment performed within cruising distance of Times Square — a defiant stand against respectability that’s as out of synch with the surrounding neighborhood as a nuclear family would have been three decades ago. That’s around the time when Jon Marc Ingle began to work the high heels and the even more vertically formidable hair that gave rise to Lady Bunny — and, soon after that, gave birth to the annual outdoor drag festival that brought crimes against good taste and gender conformity to the Village for over 20 years. Wigstock is consigned to history now, taking its place alongside recently closed Chelsea bars like Rawhide and Splash. “That’s how I made my living,” recalls the 51-year-old veteran performer and promoter. “I DJ’d at the closing party of Splash,” notes Bunny, who, although “never a circuit queen,” did spin wax at various stops along the once-robust Manhattan gay bar and club grid that kept many a queen in stockings and various stuffings. “Now,” she says, “there is no way that you could pretend New York City is a nightclub destination. It’s very embarrassing when my friends come to town and ask me, ‘What is there to do?’ ” More on that soon. When we recently spoke with Lady Bunny, her thoughts at the outset of our conversation were as far from the Big Apple as her physical self — which, last week, had just deplaned in Kalamazoo. “I’m performing at their Gay Pride tomorrow,” noted Bunny, who admitted to having never set foot in that part of Michigan before. “I wasn’t sure Kalamazoo was a real place. It sounds fictional, like a fairy tale. But here I am.” Far from the hardened Gotham venue that hosts “Clowns Syndrome,” would
Long may she reign: Lady Bunny’s got a lot to get off her chest, in the open run of “Clowns Syndrome.”
the good people of Kalamazoo be getting the same level of obscenity that endeared our trampy lady to a recent La Escuelita Cabaret Theater preview audience? “I tone it down a bit whenever I leave New York,” admits Bunny. “Some of these Gay Pride festivals are in the daytime, and sometimes, gays have fami-
lies or invite the straight community. I like offensive and vulgar comedy, but I don’t like to offend. So I do it where it’s appropriate. One year, I performed at a Virginia Gay Pride and it was a little bit THEATER, continued on p. 14 June 26, 2014
Lady Bunny sexes up our too-tame Times Square area THEATER, continued from p. 13
THE “T” WORD LADY BUNNY: I know the word tranny from the London club scene, where it is used affectionately as an abbreviation for transvestite or transsexual. It’s never been a slur in my book and since it’s an abbreviation for transvestite, I’m free to use it. I wouldn’t use it to refer to a trans woman who doesn’t like it. I’m a drag queen. But I’m not going to be censored if I want to refer to myself as a tranny. A transvestite is someone who wears the clothing of the opposite sex, whether that’s Marlene Dietrich in a men’s suit or [The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s] Frank N. Furter, or a man who wears women’s lingerie and masturbates at home. Drag queen typically means a type of transvestite who performs, who is normally, when they’re not in drag, a gay male. What’s really hurtful is that drag queens have always been the most accepting of the transgender community. So this infighting doesn’t make sense. They have every right to say “I don’t like it,” but they don’t have the right to tell me to stop using it. If you don’t like the word, you can take its power away, because you are what you answer to. I have a friend who is a post-operative transsexual and she actually coached Jared Leto on how to play a transsexual and these militants were slamming her and calling her a drag queen even though she is a post-op. If you are that, a drag queen is just about the mean-
e To The
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in the James Brown House
A LANDMARK FOR FINE FOOD AND GROG The Ear Inn is inside The James Brown House, one of the very few Federal Houses left in the city, and a designated Landmark of the City of New York on the National Register of Historic Buildings of the U.S. Department of the Interior. It is largely in the original condition it was when it was built two centuries ago and features a wood post construction with a Flemish brick bond facade. The noted architectural critic Ada Louise Huxtable writing of Federal houses in her book Classic New York, notes, “Their value is... a sudden sense of intimacy scale... evocative of another century and way of life. The Ear Inn hopes you enjoy its historicity and home cookin’. Please tell us if you see any ghosts!
326 Spring Street, New York City 10013 • (212) 226-9060 14
June 26, 2014
est thing you can call someone. These activists are crying about being called ‘tranny,’ yet they are using hate speech themselves against members of their own community. Or against RuPaul. One of the most vocal of them tweeted, “I f***ing hate RuPaul.” I think that’s hate speech, when you say you hate someone. What’s really bizarre to me is that while they’re putting Laverne Cox on the cover of Time magazine and mainstream America is beginning to understand and accept what a transsexual is, the gay community is infighting — and that’s preventing us from moving forward on the goals that affect all of us. The real challenge that trans people face is not words on a silly reality show [“RuPaul’s Drag Race”]. The challenges they face are the same as drag queens and gay people. They’re discriminated against for jobs and housing and they’re targets for violence.
The gay movement is very conservative now. Fighting in the military is an establishment goal. Getting married? While I support equal rights, let’s be real. Marriage is often about property transferral. The gay marriage movement seems to be run by gays with money, and who are they? A friend of mine who’s black said he went to the celebration outside of Stonewall when New York got gay marriage, and he said he was the only person of color there. It just all seems very conservative to me, different than it was when we created Act Up and Queer Nation. These were radicals. They were taking on the Catholic Church and Big Pharma. Now, these gay men seem like, “Let’s kiss the government’s ass and achieve all these very conservative goals that uphold the establishment.”
There’s a couple of things going on. Clubs are hit by the recession and they don’t take any chances with smoking cigarettes or people selling drugs. Let’s face it, that’s a reason people go to clubs. Now, to stay in business, they have this bottle service, which is geared to people who are dumb enough to pay $500 for a bottle of vodka that costs $50 in the liquor store. If you’re doing that, then you must be a banker trying to impress your model-slash-hooker girlfriend. I don’t know any fun people who have that kind of money to burn. If you do, chances are you’re not a good dancer, you’re not in a colorful outfit, and you’re not any of those other things that made New York great. I remember when you didn’t have to pay to be a VIP. You either were or you weren’t. That [attitude] is an insult to what nightlife used to be. Rawhide was where
PHOTO COURTESY OF DDPR
too much. There was a dildo incorporated into the act, and some church group took a picture of it dangling near a little girl. So no more of that. I don’t want to be known as a Typhoid Mary who closes down Pride because they can never get their permits again.” Free to let loose when performing “Clowns Syndrome” at La Escuelita, Bunny actually seemed disappointed that nobody’s hand went up when she requested a straight person head count. “What is this,” she asked with mock indignation, “Callen-Lorde?” Like a good many other jokes that night, it was followed by a well-timed rimshot. Ripped from the Vaudeville playbook, that time-honored punchline drumroll device, applied to Bunny’s act, was equally capable of giving a camp bump to the proceedings or leavening the bitter aftertaste of material calculated to provoke. Another calculated move on Bunny’s part: the show was co-written by Beryl Mendelbaum. “She has a comic persona on Facebook as a kind of bitter, seething, mean-spirited Jewish retiree from Boca,” says Bunny, “and we’ve become friendly [through Facebook]. Beryl is able to write for me in my voice.” That’s of particular value when Bunny abandons the lip-synching, broad physical comedy, onstage costume changes, and Shirley Bassey tributes to make forays into more sober territory. “I want to get some serious information out there,” says Bunny, “and Beryl has helped me soften those issues with a joke, so it’s not just a show of tirades. “When I’m saying that militant trans activists are going too far by saying that Jared Leto should not have played his trans role in ‘Dallas Buyers Club,’ that they should have used a real trans women, I say that Bruce Jenner was not available.” Is that funny, transphobic, neither, or a little bit of both? In “Clowns Syndrome,” it’s a question that Bunny constantly
asks herself and the audience, often with a honey-sweet yet insincere pledge to strip all future versions of the show (DVD, viral videos) from any mention of offending words, deeds, and references. But what’s in a word, and who has the right to use it? In our Manhattan-to-Kalamazoo phone conversation, we challenged Bunny to a bit of word association — which ended up being more of an inkblot test. Here’s what Bunny said, when asked about the meat and potatoes soapbox topics she covers in “Clowns Syndrome.”
Last man standing: Lady Bunny and a member of the La Escuelita staff, at the tail end of an audience participation segment.
you went to hook up with a minimum of conversation, but clubbing wasn’t just about finding sex. It was about learning new dances, and seeing fashion. And remember the lost art of conversation? Can we get an app for that? Grindr and online hookups also helped to kill the gay clubs. Gays don’t need to pay a cover charge to find a sexual partner. So today, I guess our safe spaces are online. But in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the clubs were the only place where you would see a large group of gay men converge. That’s where we fell in love. That’s where we ran to the dance floor with our hands in the air for every Diana Ross or Madonna song. That’s where we lived. Club culture was gay culture. Now, gays are assimilating into straight culture, and what do we have? A lot of younger gays feel comfortable in straight bars, and that’s great for them — but for me, I say I want all the equal rights that straights have, but I don’t want their culture, because I’ve always felt gay culture is better. We have better taste. It’s being lost on the younger gays who like the same Top 40 as everybody else. Straight DJs used to come to the gay clubs to find all the good music.
One positive thing that’s happened over the past few years, is how a lot of gay bars have opened up in Hell’s Kitchen, which they’re calling “Hellsea.” Chelsea was all about the circuit queens. Now, Hell’s Kitchen is for the twinks. When I moved to New York, it was the older gays and the clones in the West Village and the more alternative gays in the East Village. How is it the gays always move to whatever neighborhood is trending? I guess they’re just fickle. I’ve been around for a while and I’ve seen different scenes come and go. I’ll say this about New York, it is safer. That’s one plus. But it’s almost a little too safe. EastVillagerNews.com
Cycle of life ‘Bike Shop’ is a full circle trip from damage to repair THEATER BIKE SHOP: A NEW MUSICAL Book by Elizabeth Barkan Lyrics by Caroline Murphy Music by Youn-Young Park Directed by Gretchen Cryer Performed by Elizabeth Barkan & The Bicycle Band Through July 6 No shows on June 29 or July 4 Mon. – Sat. at 7:30 p.m. & Sun. at 3 p.m. At Theater For The New City 155 First Ave. (btw. Ninth & Tenth Sts.) For tickets ($15), call 212-254-1109 or visit smarttix.com Also visit BikeShopMusical.com & theaterforthenewcity.net
B Y SC OT T ST IFFL E R Life has a way of abruptly putting the brakes on — or at least taking the air out of your tires. When we first meet 17-year-old Bobby, she’s a highly skilled, hellon-two-wheels bike messenger who seems to care about little other than getting her adrenaline fix and delivering her package on time. Brushing off an occasional trip across the hood of a car as the cost of doing business, that reckless nature serves her well — until a breakneck trip though Union Square causes a truck to swerve, jump the curb, and take out an innocent pedestrian. Two years later, wracked with guilt and stuck in slow gear, Bobby’s former mode of transport (and livelihood) hangs on the wall of her family’s Brooklyn bike shop — where she does self-imposed penance by using her skills to repair every conceivable broken thing except herself. It’s painful to watch this likable, sweet, and once-fearless young woman so haunted by a split second misdeed EastVillagerNews.com
I’d love to go outside And take a ride Somewhere with you But so much here needs fixing As more rolls in So thank you But no thank you You should have seen me before I’d have gone out every night I used to be someone else I wish I had stopped at that light The passion project of former bike shop owner, bicycle messenger, and competitive racer Elizabeth Barkan, “Bike Shop” is a sharply written, poignantly observed, and nimbly performed one-act musical that — while anchored in regret — has far more to offer than the tale of one person’s gloomy struggle to get back on track. It’s also an exuberant, century-spanning tribute to the hopes, dreams, and survival skills of a bike-obsessed Brooklyn clan. In their capable grease monkey hands, the bike becomes a vehicle for emancipation, economic empowerment, and even religious awakening. (Bobby’s uncle, a would-be rabbi, teaches a spinning class — and her grandmother landed on Ellis Island in 1935 with little more than a penny farthing bike, mechanical know-how and entrepreneurial chutzpah). With instrumental support from a four-piece “Bicycle Band,” Barkan shifts from character to character, while building and fixing real bicycles on the stage. In a bid to encourage zero emission commuting, real-life spinning instructor Barkan wants cyclists to ride their bikes to the theater and park them on the stage. If the wheels you arrive on are a bit worse for the wear, slip the stage manager a note before the show. You just might be sent home with a repair job as thorough and satisfying as the one Bobby undergoes.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PRODUCTION
Music Direction by Gerry Dieffenbach
that she’s unable to even entertain the notion of accepting a customer ’s flirtatious advances. With no obvious flaws, she says, he’s not damaged enough to be a suitable match. Well, she doesn’t say it, so much as sing it:
Elizabeth Barkan spins a tale of recklessness and redemption.
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June 26, 2014
The golden age of graffiti When subway art was all about respect
© NORMAN BORDEN
An installation view of “Moving Murals.”
Through July 10 At City Lore Gallery 56 E. First St. (btw. First & Second Aves.) Hours: Wed. – Sun., 12 – 6 p.m. Call 212-529-1955 or visit citylore.org/ the-gallery
B Y N O R MAN B OR D E N Like so much else in New York City, graffiti isn’t what it used to be. Oh sure, street art is still around in many forms (thank you Banksy), but not the way it was. In the 1970s and early '80s, the state
June 26, 2014
of the art was subway graffiti, which many New Yorkers (including then Mayor Ed Koch) considered vandalism. Others called it an art form. Whatever you thought, it was a cultural and sociological phenomenon. Teenagers armed with spray cans were surreptitiously painting subway cars with bright, bold graphics, trying to outdo each other’s artwork and make a name for themselves — among themselves. As one artist said, “It was all about respect.” The painted subway cars and the controversy are long gone, but much of the period’s subway art and portraits of the artists were captured through the determination, persistence, and talents of photographers Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper. It’s now all on display in the “Moving Murals” exhibition at City Lore Gallery’s handsome new space. The unique format of the show is both fascinating and mind-boggling. It includes over 825 of Chalfant’s individual car images and 84 of Cooper’s portraits
© MARTHA COOPER
MOVING MURALS: HENRY CHALFANT & MARTHA COOPER’S ALL-CITY GRAFFITI ARCHIVE
Under cover of the night, back in the day: Martha Cooper was there to capture Dondi in action, during “the golden age of graffiti.”
stacked floor to ceiling, which prevents many from being viewed up close. No matter, there’s still plenty to look at. Viewed from a distance, the images look like wallpaper, but it’s a wall-to-wall mosaic that creates a graffiti train yard environment. In effect, it’s a big picture of what New Yorkers had to endure — or enjoy — when the trains rolled by. A multi-media presentation, which includes artist interviews and Chalfant’s iBook of his graffiti archive, adds another
perspective. In explaining how he got started with the project, the artist says, “I moved here in the early '70s when graffiti was already evolving, from just tags (artist’s personalized signatures like ‘Taki 183’) to ‘pieces’ (masterpiece or complex painting) to subway cars. I saw a painted train one morning and thought it was fun. I was an artist myself — a GALLERY, continued on p. 17
‘Moving Murals’ freezes and preserves a cultural phenomenon
© HENRY CHALFANT
Blade was called “The King of Graffiti.” Active from 1972 to 1984, he painted over 5,000 cars, using his own characters instead of appropriating imagery.
GALLERY, continued from p. 16
Norman Borden is a New York-based writer and photographer. The author of more than 100 reviews for NYPhotoReview.com, he’s a member of Soho Photo Gallery and ASMP. One of his images in the juried show, “Impromptu” (now at Darkroom Gallery, Essex Junction, VT), was awarded an Honorable Mention. Visit normanbordenphoto.com.
© MARTHA COOPER
sculptor — and liked it aesthetically. I also was drawn to the rebellious aspect. Once I was more familiar with the city, I started taking pictures and went to the outer boroughs for shots of the elevated trains.” Since this was the pre-digital, pre-Photoshop era, Chalfant had to take several photos of each subway car with his 35 mm SLR, and then splice them together to create a panoramic image. Once the artists got to know him, they often gave him advance notice of a train they had just “tagged” so he could take pictures before the train was cleaned off or covered up by other graffiti. Still, he says, “It was very catch as catch can.” Chalfant spent seven years on the project, and during that time, he and Martha Cooper produced the 1984 book, “Subway Art,” which became the howto manual for graffiti artists around the world. The 25th anniversary edition was published in 2009. He also co-produced the documentary “Style Wars” in 1983, which featured interviews with graffiti artists, Mayor Koch, cops, art critics, and others. It became the indispensable record of subway graffiti and hip-hop culture, winning the Grand Jury Prize: Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival. Some segments are in the gallery’s multi-media show. With so much to see, where do you begin? Chalfant offers his “Tales of Ten Train Cars” as a guide. I liked the car painted “Dump Koch” because it was so in-your-face and of the times. Chalfant explains that it was created around 1981,
when the mayor was graffiti’s sworn enemy. The “John Lennon” car was considered so sacred that even the Transit Authority car cleaners wouldn’t touch it. The car stayed in service for years without being cleaned or painted over by other artists. In contrast, “Buffed Train” stands out because it was freshly whitewashed — it had just gone through a train yard’s special car wash that used giant brushes and toxic chemicals to buff and remove the graffiti. Check out “BLADE,” who Chalfant called a complete original. His mural covered the entire car including the windows. I also liked “Ski Hicki,” a tribute by the artist SEEN to Hickey and Ski, two Transit cops who were retiring from their job of catching young graffiti artists. You see two cartoon-like guys in flowered shirts on a tropical island showing their badges. Very cute. There’s a lot more to see here, of course. I liked the car that says, “ I (heart) Zoo York.” And Cooper’s portraits put real faces on these guys (except for the infamous “Taki 183,” who hides his face). Other artists don’t. You see many at work, spray cans in hand, trying to make a name for themselves — long before YouTube and social media made it easy.
Dondi pioneered many styles and techniques still in use today. The first graffiti artist to have solo shows in the Netherlands and Germany, his work is collected by European museums.
© HENRY CHALFANT
SAK was a prolific graffiti artist who began writing in 1979 and teamed up with Rize from 1981 to 1984. EastVillagerNews.com
June 26, 2014
Hell’s Kitchen moves up to the head of the pack REAL ESTATE
lounge with a fireplace, a fitness center, two roof decks, a courtyard garden with a reflecting pool, an outdoor lounge with a movie screen and a pet spa. Sold by Halstead Property Development Marketing, prices start at $725,000. (540west.com)
BY LAUREN PRICE
ts established roots are still very evident. Hell’s Kitchen has always been a closely knit neighborhood rich in cultural opportunities and old New York history. But while the West Side area bounded by W. 37th and 57th Sts. was once dotted with warehouses, parking lots and walk-ups, for more than a decade developers have been eyeing the possibilities of building luxury rentals. Residential revitalization –– coupled with expanded dining, shopping and nightlife options –– is now the order of the day. And as of two months ago, sale prices and rents here now surpass the averages for Manhattan as a whole. “There is no doubt that Hell’s Kitchen is undergoing an exciting transformation,” said Stephen McArdle, senior managing director of Halstead Property Development Marketing. “Reaching this milestone demonstrates that savvy homesteaders who now choose to live and invest in New York City not only see the potential of this particular neighborhood, but also want to be at the forefront of its revitalization.” It might seem as though Hell’s Kitchen has become a labyrinth of glass-wall residential towers and luxury loft conversions. But there remain plenty of mid-rise apartment buildings and walk-ups — especially closer to Ninth Ave. — preserved in good measure due to specific zoning laws that have long been in place.
GOTTA LIKE GOTHAM WEST Developed by the Gotham Organization, Gotham West, at 420 W. 45th St., leases studios to three-bedroom homes, replete with condo-like finishes and amenities, such as quarter-sawn oak floors, washer/dryers, floor-to-ceiling windows and kitchens outfitted with the likes of KitchenAid appliances and honed Absolute Black granite worktops. Some units offer walk-in closets, separate kitchen pantries and Hudson River views. Gotham West’s communal amenities list is long and includes a lounge, which serves daily breakfasts, a business center, a screening room, a demo kitchen used by invited professional chefs, and a game room with a handcrafted pool table. The fitness center has a motion studio and yoga / spinning classes. The building also includes three
June 26, 2014
A luxury four-bedroom unit is for sale at the Piano Factory on W. 46th St.
outdoor spaces: a huge courtyard garden; the Perch, with an outdoor fireplace overlooking that garden; and the Sky Terrace, with misting walls, a bar and an outdoor movie screen, with an adjacent Sky Lounge. Amenities also include playgrounds, a bike porter for last-minute tune-ups, free weekday shuttles to and from 42nd St. and Sixth Ave. for evening and morning commutes, onsite parking and doorman / concierge services. The ground-level indoor / outdoor block-long Gotham West Market features artisan vendors and restaurants. No-fee monthly rentals currently begin at $2,900. (gothamwestnyc.com)
SILVER TOWERS SHINE From Silverstein Properties, Silver Towers is an enormous complex with million-dollar views of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline. Located at 42nd St. and 11th Ave., two glass towers offer studios to two-bedrooms, including lofts and penthouses. Some have private outdoor space. All feature high, floor-to-ceiling windows, Afromosia wood floors and washer/ dryers. Floors two through seven in the North Tower are outfitted with furnished units for corporate residents. Open kitchens boast stainless-steel appliances, custom-designed wenge wood grain laminate, and aluminum-framed glass cabinetry with engineered stone worktops. Porcelain-tiled bathrooms come with Carrera marble-topped floating vanities, as well as vessel sink vanities, rain showers and soaking tubs. For tenants, the Entertaining Terrace has cabanas, chaises, daybeds and
misting showers, a BBQ grill and a wet bar. The fitness center offers spa and nail services and a yoga room. There’s a 75-foot indoor pool and sundeck, too. Other communal amenities include a lounge, a screening room, a playroom, on-site parking and concierge services. Complimentary weekday shuttles connect residents to and from multiple locations during morning and evening commutes. A quarter-acre public park designed by Thomas Balsley showcases pavilions, a kids’ area, an enclosed dog run, a mist fountain and an area for lounging and picnicking. There is also an on-site Sunac Fancy Foods market. The Spot Experience dog daycare will soon be a part of Silver Towers. No-fee monthly rentals currently begin at $3,190. (silvertowers.com)
GO 540WEST, YOUNG MAN! A condominium developed by Fortis Property Group and Wonder Works Construction Corp., 540West, on W. 49th St., expects to have units ready for move-in by year’s end. A complex of two interconnected midrise buildings, the mix runs from studios to two bedrooms, including duplexes and penthouses. Some have private outdoor space. Apartments range from 501 to 1,625 square feet. In-home amenities include floorto-ceiling windows, white oak floors, custom-built wardrobes, and washer / dryers. Kitchens are outfitted with appliances by Liebherr, Bertazzoni and Blomberg, and have Silverstone quartzite worktops. Master baths are dressed in Italian porcelain and boast shower / soaking tubs with oversized rain showerheads. Communal extras include a lobby
The real estate development team of JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group, in partnership with Starwood Capital Group, is bringing the latest Ralph Walker conversion to Hell’s Kitchen –– Stella Tower, at 425 W. 50th St. Originally designed by Walker in 1927 for the New York Telephone Company, the condominium has one- to three-bedroom residences ranging from 1,000 to 2,200 square feet, though penthouses boast as much as 3,600 square feet. Units feature oversized tilt-and-turn windows and soaring ceiling heights, and select residences have fireplaces and private outdoor space. Stella Tower will have a 24-hour attended lobby, a fitness center, a lounge with a pantry and bar and a garden lounge. Sold through Douglas Elliman, prices are from $1.8 million. (stellatower.com)
4-BR UNIT IS ON KEY The Piano Factory, the conversion of an 1870s building at 454 W. 46th St. where Wessell Nickel & Gross built pianos, has 48 loft-like units. An enclave-like complex, it features a European-style interior courtyard where plants cascade down from restored iron catwalks that connect two buildings. Town Residential is now offering a four-bedroom penthouse duplex with an enormous terrace. Light-filled with wonderful skyline views, this home has hardwood floors and high ceilings –– including a vaulted ceiling in the living room –– pocket doors and a laundry room with a Bosch washer / dryer. The very large eat-in kitchen, which opens onto a second terrace, is outfitted with cherry wood cabinets, granite countertops and a radiant heat floor. Appliances are by Jenn-Air, Dacor and Bosch. The master suite has a dressing area, two full closets and an en-suite bathroom. The owner will have roof rights, so with board approval, a third deck can be added. Priced at $4 million. (townrealestate.com/sale/id-452084/454west-46th-street-ph-6bs-midtownwest&scroll=1) EastVillagerNews.com
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June 26, 2014
The quiet allure of Tribeca L U X U RY R E N TA L S BUILDING UPON EXCELLENCE FOR 40 YEARS
REAL ESTATE BY LAUREN PRICE
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June 26, 2014
unning from Canal St. south to Barclay St. and from Broadway to the Hudson River, Tribeca is a neighborhood of some 16,000 residents that has grown up amidst cavernous cast-iron warehouses set on historic cobblestone streets. Home seekers can find light-filled, loft-like layouts that typically fetch sky-high prices, or they can look to the new luxury buildings, some with units for sale, others with rentals. When artists in the 1970s began searching out less expensive studios and homes, the residential transformation of the neighborhood that only then came to be called Tribeca began. It is now one of Manhattan’s most sought-after neighborhoods. Smart shops, art galleries, performance spaces and prime eateries, like Kutsher’s, Bouley and Nobu, are now the public face of the neighborhood. And when Lower Manhattan was staggered by the 9/11 attacks, Robert De Niro and other Hollywood bigs rallied spirits by launching the Tribeca Film Festival –– though its success in recent years has led it to seek larger venues uptown. Considered a quieter alternative to its equally expensive neighbor Soho, Tribeca is chockablock with tony shops, such as the boutique retailers Steven Allen, Patron of the New, Nili Lotan and By Joy Gryson; specialty cutlery shop Korin; and the bicyclist’s haven Adeline Adeline. Whole Foods, the Amish Market, the All Good Things artisanal market and Grandaisy Bakery offer the very best alternatives for residents who take their cooking seriously. The Lower Manhattan locales of world-class retailers like Bloomingdales, Hermès and Tiffany are just steps away. The neighborhood is well served by subways, with ready access to the 1, 2, 3, A, C and E, and another half dozen or so lines available nearby at City Hall. With Stuyvesant High School and P.S. 150 and 234, the public schools are a draw, as well. According MNS’s May 2014 report, Tribeca’s median per-square-foot purchase price for a one-bedroom residence is $1,131. For two-bedroom units, the median price is $1,392. The same report indicates that average rents for studios in doorman buildings run at $3,400, with one-bedrooms coming in at about $4,736. Marketed by Corcoran Sunshine Group Marketing, the landmarked Cast Iron House, at 67 Franklin St. at
Broadway, is a conversion developed by Knightsbridge Properties. The building has 13 duplexes, including two penthouses on newly constructed levels atop the original structure. All sport soaring ceilings (from 17 to 25 feet), vaulted windows, washer / dryers and quarter-sawn white oak floors. Ranging from three- to five-bedrooms, some with outdoor space, in the original portion, square footage is from about 2,850 to 4,890. The four-bedroom penthouse is about 3,800 square feet, with 1,530 square feet of outdoor space. The five-bedroom unit at the top is about 4,560 square feet, with 1,430 square feet of outdoor space. Appliances by Gaggenau and custom lacquer cabinets topped with Corian grace open kitchens. Marble-slab master bathrooms boast white mosaic glass-tile walls and radiant-heat floors. Communal extras include doorman / concierge services, a courtyard garden, an exercise room, a hydrotherapy spa and treatment room, a dance studio, a water room, a playroom, a game room and private storage. Prices begin at about $4.97 million. (castironhouse.com) About 3,000 square feet with keylock elevator access, a duplex co-op at 74 Reade Street just off Church St. is now for sale through Urban Compass. In a converted office building originally erected in 1964, this flexible live / work space’s current configuration has two bedrooms. The space features double-height windows, hardwood floors, a skylight, exposed brick walls and piping and 15-foot pressed tin ceilings. The open kitchen with a large pantry is dressed in sleek wood cabinetry and high-end stainless-steel appliances. Residential extras include a roof deck and video intercom. Priced at $3.1 million. (urbancompass.com) The World-Wide Group made the decision to convert 50 Murray, a 1964 office building between Church St. and West Broadway, just before 9/11. By 2002, they were renting loft-like studios to three-bedroom units, ranging from about 500 to 2,000 square feet, some with outdoor space. You’ll find 11-foot beamed ceilings, kitchens with stainless-steel appliances, sleek white cabinetry, black granite countertops and two-tone penny-tile mosaic bathroom floors. Residential extras include a laundry room on every floor, a bi-level roof deck, an outdoor basketball court, a lounge and screening room, a game room, playrooms, a parking garage and doormen / concierge services. Both Equinox gym and the Amish Market are on site, as well. Currently, no-fee monthly rentals start at $2,900. (50murray.com) EastVillagerNews.com
June 26, 2014
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June 26, 2014
Fans erupted at Cafe Cambodge, next door to Zum Schneider — which was packed with German fans — on Avenue C last week as Germany scored a goal in its 4-0 win over Portugal.
Tourney is one kickin’ Cup WORLD CUP, continued from p. 12
nehy’s, at 63 Carmine St., an Irish bar with a staff full of soccer fans and a comprehensive World Cup screening program. During the Brazil-Mexico game, Felix was full of fans crowding inside and spilling out onto the sidewalk, in a sea of clashing green and yellow jerseys. This past Sunday evening, when Clint Dempsey scored a late go-ahead goal against Portugal, the place went nuts. A guy in a large, floppy Uncle
Sam hat waved an American flag as people cheered, yelled and hugged. But soon afterward, Portugal scored a last-gasp equalizer on a long, pinpoint crossing pass by — who else? — superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, and the elation was replaced by a massive groan. The U.S. still has a chance to advance from “The Group of Death,” but they face powerful Germany on Thursday. Sounds like it’s going to be another packed house at Zum Schneider!
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June 26, 2014
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June 26, 2014