The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
July 16, 2015 • $1.00 Volume 85 • Number 7
Borscht mecca still struggling to reopen after 2nd Ave. blast BY YANNIC RACK
n March 26, when the East Village was rocked by a colossal gas explosion on Second Ave., Fawzy Abdelwahed was in Williamsburg picking up his son from school. His restaurant, the kosher dairy B&H at 127 Second
Ave., although on the same block, was unaffected by the blast and subsequent fire that would destroy three buildings. But the effects are still felt more than three months later. “We haven’t served a cup of coffee since March,” Abdelwahed said, standing in B&H continued on p. 11
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
rthur Schwartz, the Village’s Democratic district leader, turned himself in for arrest at the Sixth Precinct on Tuesday and was charged with grand larceny. At 11:30 a.m. he was handcuffed behind his back as
he was driven by police to central booking, and stayed cuffed till 3:30 p.m., when he was arraigned in court and released on his recognizance. A return court date was set for Aug. 10 when a grand jury will begin hearing the case. A longtime Village activCAMERAS continued on p. 8
Kickin’ it in the Canyon.................page 6
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Village district leader arrested after removing landlord’s spy cameras
Corey Johnson, left, and Adam Weinberg at the end of the W. 59th St. pier as a paperladen barge is floated out into the river.
Paper, plastic, park...maybe even art in Gansevoort mix BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
dam Weinberg, the director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Councilmember Corey Johnson stood on the westernmost tip of the W. 59th St. pier on a recent Thursday morning. Floating next to them in a long slip sat a giant open hopper barge filled with 400 tons of discarded paper. As the two watched, a crew of men working power winches and thick braided
ropes slowly eased the immense load silently — and, thankfully, odorlessly — past them and out into the Hudson River. The tide took hold of it and pulled the now-bobbing barge out further. Ernest Mack, who manages the pier operation, heartily shouted back and forth with a crewmember perched on the prow of a waiting tugboat, which then started to push the massive blocklong bin on its slow journey downriver. With his burly physique and suspenders,
Mack looked straight out of “On the Waterfront.” “This is fascinating! This is so cool!” Weinberg enthused. “This is impressive.” “As you can see, nothing is a rushed movement,” Tom Killeen, director of solid waste management for the Department of Sanitation, said cooly of the careful choreography of the gargantuan garbage barge. It was a “fluff load,” he added, meaning it was dry, GANSEVOORT continued on p. 10
What was One if by Land arch age?................page 3 Wash. Sq. plaza trees are the pits..................page 12 A ‘lot’ to like about L.E.S. Shakespeare.........page 17 www.TheVillager.com
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July 16, 2015
PARK PANDEMONIUM: While loud music, particularly drumming, is the issue du jour in Washington Square Park, in Tompkins Square Park, homeless people sprawling on flattened-out cardboard boxes on the lawns has now become a concern. The New York Post last week ran an article with photos documenting what residents and park workers described as a “scary” situation at the East Village park. And it sounds like the city is taking the complaints seriously. Saturday night, a woman who works on the park’s daytime crew told us Bill Castro, the Manhattan borough Parks Department commissioner, had been there scoping things out the previous day. “He came by incognito — I know what he looks like,” she said. She added, “There were police and PEP officers all over the place today.” On Tuesday afternoon, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton also reportedly swung by to check things out. “Bratton is in tsp right now,” Villager correspondent Jim Flynn messaged us on Facebook. “I don’t have the balls to take a pic. he’s by the junkies on the ninth street walk through.” Flynn, in fact, documented the Tompkins homeless scene in his 2003 book, “Stranger to the System,” which features 20 Studs Terkel-like biographies. Meanwhile, back at Washington Square Park, we hear the Park Enforcement Patrol officers have started wielding sound-level meters. Veteran Community Board 2 member Doris Diether told us she was recently in the park and witnessed an officer going around with a meter and occasionally telling buskers to keep the volume down. Earlier this month, in fact, Sarah Neilson, the park’s administrator, wrote to Rich Caccappolo and Susanna Aaron of the C.B. 2 Parks Committee in response to their request for “an update on the sound situation.” Neilson responded to them, in part: “Parks has trained a team of experienced Park Enforcement Patrol officers in the use of decibel-reading meters to allow them to measure noise within the park and to educate musicians on how to comply with Parks’ prohibition on ‘unreasonable noise.’ We will begin the measuring process soon, and will spend several days working with musicians in the park with the goal of overall noise reduction and compliance with Parks’ rules. In addition, PEP officers are patrolling the park after 10 p.m. to address late-night noise, and we have engaged the N.Y.P.D. to support this late-night effort.” Neilson added, “The Parks Department recognizes the complexity and sensitivity of this issue.” However, on the last point, after 10 p.m. is precisely when a long-standing group of acoustic guitar players love to jam, and their supporters are miffed at the new crackdown. Civil rights attorney Norman Siegel said this is actually a problem. “If the police officers are instructing singers and non-amplified guitar players that they cannot sing or
play in Washington Square Park after 10 p.m., they are engaging in misinformation. Under the law, you can have sound between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. as long as the sound is below 7 decibels above the ambient sound. Another section of the law prohibits amplified sound between the hours of 10 p.m. and 9 a.m. Perhaps the officers are confusing these two sections. My suggestion,” Siegel said, “is that we ask for a meeting with the precinct commander to discuss this.” As for Tic and Tac, who have found themselves in the crosshairs of the loud-music crackdown, Diether said the tumbling twins and their drummer, who only perform in the park on weekends, actually aren’t nearly as loud as the Tic and Tac imitators who busk there during the week. In addition, Robert Lederman, president of A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists’ Response to Illegal State Tactics), is continuing to sue over Parks’ restrictions on art vending and busking after having lost in the U.S. courts. The case is now at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in Washington, D.C., according to Lederman’s attorney, Julie Milner. “We are alleging treaty violations regarding the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mankind,” she said. Asked for a response to that, Parks spokesperson Sam Biederman said, “NYC Parks looks forward to working with Community Board 2 to address unreasonable noise complaints in Washington Square Park. Regarding Mr. Lederman, I imagine that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights might be otherwise occupied with matters of more pressing hemispheric significance.” Lederman argues that Parks’ rules make it virtually impossible for art vendors or buskers to operate in Washington Square Park — though so far the regulations are only being imposed on artists, which is selective enforcement, he charges.
GET WELL SOON: Our best wishes to Frieda Bradlow who is recovering from back surgery. Bradlow, who was the late Councilmember Miriam Friedlander’s campaign manager and stalwart ally, recently returned to her Hudson Square home after two weeks of rehab at VillageCare on W. Houston St. She bought a “Grabbar” to pick up stuff she drops, and through Medicare has what she calls a “Cadillac” — a walker with four wheels, a basket, a seat and brakes — to help get around. And she added, “Fortunately, I came home with a monster supply of Oxycodone. If you hear that I am in rehab again, it will most probably be for reasons other than my back surgery.” RAY’S RETURN: Speaking of recovery, Ray of Ray’s Candy Store on Avenue A returned home Wednesday. He had spent two weeks at VillageCare following two weeks at Beth Israel Hospital, where he had two heart valves replaced and a pacemaker put in — it’s actually in his shoulder, he said. We spoke with him a few hours after he got home and he sounded good. “It’s a good operation,” he said. “The pacemaker keeps everything in control. I died five times...yeah, completely,” Ray told us of the touchand-go situation before the emergency operation. “It was really tricky,” he said of the surgery. “The doctor told me it was risky. ...I signed the paper. I said, ‘I’m older, do what you want.’ I had also pneumonia on top of that, and my age, 82 ½...yeah, it was tricky.” Ray said he’s going to take it easy, but planned to stop into the store Wednesday to see how it’s going. He’s lost some quickness and his legs are feeling a bit weak. “I love to work. I’ll do light things — somebody wants a pack of cigarettes or an egg cream,” he said. “I can’t climb to clean my ice cream machines or change the oil, it’s too heavy. I need a break.” TheVillager.com
Whoa, Nellie! Barrow St. arch may date from 1897 BY YANNIC RACK
n the Village, there’s usually more to a building than meets the eye. The plaster facade of One if by Land, Two if by Sea at 17 Barrow St, which was taken down by the restaurant’s owners two weeks ago amid much community outrage, turned out this week to have a longer and richer history than many thought. Andrew Berman, the director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, dug up a tax photo of the building from 1940 that shows the two-and-a-half-story brick structure with its signature archway already in place. This contradicted a statement from the restaurant owners, who sought to justify their actions by claiming to restore the building by exposing its original 1834 steel beams underneath the facade, and said they believed the plaster archway to date only from the late 1960s. It is still unclear what the Landmarks Preservation Commission will decide in respect to the archway. It could request that the facade be reconstructed as it was before, which is also what the building’s owners would prefer. “We are meeting with the owners [of the restaurant] after the 17th and they have assured us that they will comply with Landmarks’ decision,” said Coleen Goujane, who still lives above the restaurant with her husband, Oscar. The couple sold the restaurant to its current owners in February. “As the owners of the building we are very happy to see that there is affirmative proof that the facade dates from an earlier time,” she said. “We are confi-
A 1940 tax photo of 17 Barrow St., provided by G.V.S.H.P.’s Andrew Berman, showing that the stucco arch above the current One if by Land’s doorway, in fact, was in place at that time. At some later point, the arch was painted white.
dent that Landmarks will allow us to build it back as it was in the photograph from 1940.” But it turns out the archway might be even considerably older than that. Ellen Conway Bellone, whose grandfather William Aloysius Conway bought 17 Barrow in the early 20th century, told The Villager that the facade was added in 1897 — more than 40 years earlier — when the building was turned into a blacksmith shop. She said her grandfather worked for a man named Michael Hallanan at the time, who was the inventor of an elastic horseshoe made of vulcanized rubber that made him wealthy. “The object of my invention is to provide a rubber horse shoe forming a complete closure of the hoof, and having an improved means of securing it to the hoof, and which shoe will form a combined shoe and pad, including a frog, the whole affording a firm bearing for the horse, and yielding to avoid all jar,” reads the patent description, published in 1893. Hallanan employed Conway and later sold the shop to him (the men were both immigrants from Ireland), but the archway had already been added by then, to make the building accessible to horses. “It was done because they needed an opening to get the horses in the shop, and that’s a given. Before that it was a different kind of opening,” Bellone said over the phone from New Orleans, adding that the archway was only painted white after it was sold by her uncle in the 1960s and became One if by Land. Bellone still owns a newspaper clipping from 1928, when the New York Times Magazine interONE IF BY LAND continued on p. 26
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July 16, 2015
Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association Editorials, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Best Column, First Place, 2012 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011 Spot News Coverage, First Place, 2010 Coverage of Environment, First Place, 2009
PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN
EDITOR IN CHIEF LINCOLN ANDERSON
CONTRIBUTORS ALBERT AMATEAU IRA BLUTREICH SARAH FERGUSON TEQUILA MINSKY CLAYTON PATTERSON JEFFERSON SIEGEL ZACH WILLIAMS SHARON WOOLUMS
ART DIRECTOR MICHAEL SHIREY
GRAPHIC DESIGNERS ANDREW GOOS CHRIS ORTIZ
POLICE BLOTTER Soho baby daycare death
Drunk means ‘No’
On his first day in daycare, a 3-monthold boy died Mon., July 13, at an unlicensed operator in Soho, police said. Police were called a little after noon to Soho Child Care at 69 Greene St., and the baby, Karl Towndrow of Brooklyn Heights, was taken to Lenox Hill Hospital where he was pronounced dead. During that morning, the boy had been given a bottle and was put down to nap, according to several news reports. When the daycare’s owner, Maryellen Strautmanis, went to check on the infant, his lips were blue and 911 was called, according to reports. The daycare was unlicensed, according to police, which could mean that certification for emergency procedures, such as administering C.P.R., were not in place. Police said that there is no criminality suspected, though the city Administration of Children’s Services is reportedly investigating the matter. The medical examiner is investigating the cause of death.
In front of 548 LaGuardia Place was where Adeniyi Silva, 33, allegedly sexually violated a 30-year-old woman on Sat., July 11. Police said the victim was drunk and incapable of consenting to the reported sexual contact, which occurred at about 2:30 a.m. A police report did not state whether Silva also had too much to drink. He was arrested and charged with felony sexual abuse.
Jefferson St. shooting
WEB MASTER TROY MASTERS
EXECUTIVE VP OF ADVERTISING AMANDA TARLEY
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES JACK AGLIATA ALLISON GREAKER JENNIFER HOLLAND JIM STEELE JULIO TUMBACO
According to police, on Sun., July 12, at 3:35 a.m., a 34-year-old Manhattan man was shot once in the left leg in the rear courtyard at 65 Jefferson St. in the LaGuardia Houses. He was removed to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition. Police did not provide a description of any suspects or the motive. An investigation is ongoing.
CIRCULATION SALES MNGR. MARVIN ROCK
PUBLISHER EMERITUS JOHN W. SUTTER
Member of the New York Press Association
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July 16, 2015
Mugged for her bag A 30-year-old woman was walking near the northwest corner of W. Houston St. and Broadway just before 4:30 a.m. on Sun., July 12, when she was accosted by a group of three young men and one woman. “Give me your f---ing bag,” one of the assailants said to the woman, according to a police report. The victim resisted and in response was punched several times in the face and head by the attackers. At least three witnesses observed the incident. They described the suspects for police and the robbers’ vehicle, a 2005 Dodge Stratus, and gave the license plate number. Police caught up with the silver, fourdoor sedan nearby. A search of the vehicle allegedly revealed a Brazilian-made 9-millimeter pistol in the glove compartment. Police arrested Barshae Cherry, 22; Ernest Wilson, 22; Shanee Spence, 22; and a 16-year-old girl in connection with the incident. They were all charged with felony robbery.
W. 14th St. beating Police are not sure what the attacker said or the relationship he had with his victim. But John Goyco, 22, certainly got the better of a 30-year-old New Jersey resident in the early morning hours of Mon., July 6, in front of 458 W. 14th St. Around 2:45 a.m., Goyco reportedly struck the other man repeatedly in the face and head, resulting in bruises and pain. The victim, an Upstate resident, declined medical attention but did file a complaint against Goyco, who was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault.
Fashionable tagger Sandro, a Parisian fashion house, inspired a Virginia man to allegedly pursue low-level crime in commemoration of Bastille Day. Police said that Boris Stubbs, 35, hit the Village streets with graffiti on his mind. The cops encountered him near the southwest corner of W. 11th and Bleecker Sts., around 3:30 a.m. on Sat., July 11, as he reportedly tagged a street light with “Let them paint #SandroBastille.” The phrase stems from a promotion urging the fashion company’s fans to snap photos when they came across posters with the phrase and post them on Instagram. The person whose photo got the most “likes” stood to win an invite to Sandro’s Bastille Day party and a $500 gift card. Stubbs admitted to police that the street light, was not the first place he tagged that night, according to a report. He was charged with making graffiti, a misdemeanor charge.
he saw him grabbing the purse and a laptop from a woman sitting in front of Wafels & Dinges across the street, causing her to fall. Gonzales said he had been watching the thief after recognizing him from security footage that only hours earlier had been pulled by detectives looking for the man: The same man had been caught on camera allegedly stealing a purse on Sun., July 5. This time, the chase was also captured and the video shows Gonzales carefully running alongside the surprised culprit. After they turn around the corner at Houston and Avenue B, roughly 10 more men can be seen joining in the pursuit, among them four more Top Notch Security employees. By that time, three undercover police officers who were looking for the suspect tackled and arrested him, according to another store employee. The employee added that cops said they had been looking for this particular snatcher for six months. The suspect was charged with grand larceny and robbery for the July 5 and 9 incidents, respectively.
Anti-Muslim attack Police said that on Sat., July 11, at about 10:40 p.m., a 19-year-old woman was approached by an unidentified man in front of 109 East Broadway, and they became engaged in a verbal dispute. The man reportedly made anti-Muslim statements and then started to spit and punch the victim in the face. He then continued walking on Eldridge St. and fled to parts unknown. The woman suffered a fractured jaw and was transported to Beth Israel Hospital in stable condition. The suspect is described as a black man, about 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10 tall, wearing a hat, pants and shirt that were all dark colored and carrying a plastic bag. Police posted video of the suspect walking on Eldridge St. and in Chinatown after the incident. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the New York Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www. nypdcrimestoppers.com, or texting to 274637(CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.
Security firm saves day A purse-snatcher was caught in the East Village last Thursday thanks to a security firm technician who apparently takes his job description very seriously. Matthew Gonzales, of Top Notch Security on Avenue B, didn’t hesitate to sprint after the perpetrator when
Zach Williams , Yannic Rack, Dusica Sue Malesevic and Lincoln Anderson
Still striving for zero, a vision of safe streets BY CHRISS WILLIAMS
PHOTOS BY CHRISS WILLIAMS
t Union Square on Tuesday evening, activists said that much progress has been made in the last year to realize Vision Zero, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initiative to eliminate traffic-related fatalities in the city. Speaking from a small stage located behind a gurney covered in yellow carnations, elected officials, family members of traffic victims and their supporters expressed optimism while acknowledging the challenges that remain. “As I look out at a sea of yellow, the color of hope, I am hopeful that together we can build a legacy for those we have lost and in a safer and more caring city,” said Amy Cohen, a Brooklyn resident who lost her son Sammy Cohen-Eckstein in 2013. In the past six months, traffic crashes have claimed 127 lives and resulted in 24,890 injuries citywide, according to Transportation Alternatives, which organized the vigil in cooperation with Families for Safe Streets. Such crashes are not “accidents,” activists said. Street redesigns and stricter traffic enforcement can prevent incidents such as the one that resulted in Cohen-Eckstein’s death as he chased a soccer ball into a street near Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Cohen was not alone in sharing a personal tragedy. The solemn and often tearful crowd held up photos and signs with names of their loved ones and other traffic victims. One group came from Japan for the event in recognition of Ryo Oyamada, who was struck by a New York Police Department patrol car as he crossed a street in Queens in 2013. Oyamada had been having a great time in the city as he studied English, according to his mother, Chie. The family is currently involved in a wrongful death lawsuit against the department. City councilmembers and state assemblymembers, meanwhile, read
Politicians, including, from left, Councilmembers Margaret Chin and Jimmy Van Bramer and state Senator Brad Hoylman, joined the vigil for safe streets.
aloud the victims’ names chronologically as members of the crowd pounded their chests in solidarity after each name. New Jersey resident Rebecca Harris-Lee came in support of her friend’s 22-year-old daughter Ella Bandes. A reportedly distracted M.T.A. bus driver killed Bandes in Brooklyn several years ago as she was crossing the street. But it is not just bus drivers who need to be vigilant about traffic safety, Harris-Lee added. “We are in an epidemic of distracted drivers and we are also those drivers,” she said.
Harold and Debbi Kahn with a photo of their son, Seth, who was attending F.I.T. and studying toy design before his death.
July 16, 2015
PHOTO BY MILO HESS
Kickin’ it in the Canyon
July 16, 2015
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Amid a shower of ticker tape and the cheers of thousands of exuberant fans, the victorious U.S. women’s soccer team paraded up the Canyon of Heroes last Friday after defeating Japan 5-2 in the World Cup the previous Sunday. The team’s 23 members traveled on a dozen floats, two of which bore Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Mario Cuomo. “I think this victory sends a message about the strength of women, the power of women,” the mayor said at the City Hall ceremony, before handing the players the keys to the city.
PHOTO BY MILO HESS
PHOTO BY MILO HESS
PHOTO BY MILO HESS
PHOTO BY MILO HESS
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
July 16, 2015
District leader arrested for taking spy cameras CAMERAS continued from p. 1
July 16, 2015
PHOTO BY JESSICA BERK
Arthur Schwartz disconnecting the surveillance cameras on June 11. The blue object is his cell phone.
PHOTO BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL
ist and a top union lawyer, Schwartz was also the treasurer for Zephyr Teachout’s primary campaign last year against Governor Cuomo. He readily admits that on June 11 he mounted a stepladder and removed five small surveillance cameras that were hidden — albeit not very well — behind a molding in a public hallway outside the 95 Christopher St. apartment of Ruth Berk, 91. Schwartz kept the cameras for a while, then sent them to state Attorney General Eric Schnederman’s office. The building’s landlord, BLDG Management, pressed charges and told police that the cameras were worth $4,000 total, which is above the bar of $3,500 when a theft is classified as grand larceny. But Schwartz checked out the cameras’ price online, and said they are worth closer to about $500 total. He found the cameras when he was at Berk’s apartment as part of a court-ordered assessment of repairs that were needed. Schwartz, who is Berk’s legal guardian, helped get her released in May from a nursing home: Berk, a former cabaret singer, convinced a judge to spring her from the senior facility by wowing her by belting out “Summertime” and “My Funny Valentine” in court. Jessica Berk, her daughter, who lives with her in the Village apartment, said they have a decades-long running dispute with the landlord. “Before I was born, my parents were in litigation with them,” she said. She said the landlord wants their rent-regulated apartment, for which the pair only pay $783 per month, but which could probably fetch 10 times that amount. “It’s a two-bedroom penthouse apartment with a huge penthouse” she said. “We have one of the best apartments in the building. I’m sure the landlord would like it back.” The New York Times reported: “The Berks acknowledged that they are tens of thousands of dollars in arrears on rent, but said they had withheld payment because of damages in the apartment that the landlord would not permanently fix, like leaks from the roof and peeling paint. Their eviction case is pending.” Calls to BLDG Management and its attorney, Lawrence Wolf, were not returned by press time. Schwartz said that that surveillance cameras were not hard to spot because the molding had five conspicuous small holes in front of them. He had been told they were there by Jessica Berk. She told The Villager last week that she previously hired
Arthur Schwartz and his wife, Kelly Craig, leaving criminal court on Tuesday after his arraignment. He had spent about four hours handcuffed behind his back.
a private detective to check if any of the apartment building’s other apartments had surveillance cameras outside of them, and the detective found none. Similarly, Schwartz checked out the rest of the building and didn’t see any similar cameras anywhere else. As a result, he said, that means it’s “selective harassment” of the Berks. It’s harassment, he said, since the Berks had previously complained about the cameras, yet the landlord kept them there. In fact, the harassment extends beyond the cameras, Jessica Berk said. “The harassment began the day after my father died,” she said. “That was when I was 20. I’m now 55, and it hasn’t stopped.” As The Villager exclusively reported last year, last March Jessica Berk was arrested after an unloaded .22-caliber handgun was found in their home during a court-ordered
cleanup of the then-cluttered apartment. Jessica Berk said the gun might have belonged to her late father, who ran the Waverly Lounge — where her mother performed — and later worked a liquor store near the old St. Vincent’s Hospital. The Manhattan district attorney dismissed the weapon-possession charge against her, however, saying that it “could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt” that the gun was hers. At the time the gun was found,
Ruth Berk was in the nursing facility. Schwartz said local politicians state Senator Brad Hoylman and City Councilmember Corey Johnson called the Sixth Precinct on his behalf to try to get him a desk appearance ticket rather than face criminal charges. “I got an e-mail from Arthur about this,” Hoylman said. “Videotaping a 93-year old rent-stabilized tenant with five surveillance cameras, as alleged, seems like tenant harassment to me. I tried to get some of the facts from the precinct, but it’s up to them to make a determination on the charges.” Community affairs officers at the Sixth Precinct said that it’s up to the complainant, BLDG Management, to state the value of the confiscated property, and that it will be up to the D.A. to determine the cameras’ value. Schwartz didn’t know beforehand whether he’d be put into a holding cell with other prisoners or allowed to sit in court until he was arraigned. He said he brought a book by Maya Angelou along to read to pass the time. He wound up sitting in court the whole time, hands cuffed behind his back. “I was lucky,” he said, “because my wife was there and she fed me a protein bar and a bagel with cream cheese from Murray’s and a Snapple diet iced tea.”
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Doorman Arturo Vergara is happy to be back at the Printing House.
Printing House staff still hope door will be open for a union BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
t the end of last month, Arturo Vergara returned to his job as the evening doorman at the tony Printing House condos at Hudson St. between Clarkson and Leroy Sts. A month earlier he had been abruptly fired after missing a day of work, and his co-workers briefly went on strike in response. However, the real reason Vergara was let go, he and his co-workers say, is because he was a leader in their efforts to unionize. As a result of negotiations between Planned Companies — the contractor that employs the Printing House workers — and the 32BJ union, Vergara was brought back and the rest of the building’s staff all received raises. As of Aug. 1, veteran staff members will be close to, but not quite at, the full union wage of $22.50 per hour for doormen. Others will have a minimum wage of $15.75 per hour. “At a personal level, this is very rewarding,” Vergara said. “I think, over all, the guys are very pleased with the victory because after fighting for two years, we have a small victory under our belt toward our end goal of bringing the union into our building.” However, he added that, as opposed to union members, they still only have individual healthcare plans — their families aren’t covered — and they don’t have pensions. As part of the effort to foil their unionizing effort, the workers say, TheVillager.com
the Printing House’s board brought in a large contractor, Planned Companies, to employ them. As a result, the bar was raised from unionizing the building’s eight staff to all of Planned Companies’ 2,000 workers. Vergara told The Villager the workers’ goal is now to get the Printing House’s board to sever their contract with Planned Companies and again let the building’s staff try to organize. “I talked to the guys and we realized that because of what happened to me we don’t have any protection,” he said. “We know for a fact that we do need the union to represent us, or otherwise we’ll be at the mercy of our employer. Having the union will help us fight back so another person isn’t fired. “We’re going to keep going to make sure we get all the benefits we want and deserve by becoming union members.” As for why Planned Companies agreed to reinstate Vergara and give his co-workers a raise, he said the alternative was potentially years of dragged-out litigation by 32BJ in federal court over the company’s allegedly anti-union activities, including Vergara’s firing. Speaking last month, Sal Vitiello, the head of the Printing House’s board and an 18-year building resident, said, “The proposal that Planned Companies made to the union has been approved by the board. [Vergara’s] coming back and there will be a significant raise that we think they’ll be happy with.”
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Recycling, learning, park, art in Gansevoort mix GANSEVOORT continued from p. 1
July 16, 2015
PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY
not waterlogged from being in the rain. No, this was not some kind of industrial performance art project — at least not yet, that is. (Weinberg may have some ideas along those lines, but more about that later.) It’s how Manhattan’s waste paper is currently sent to Staten Island for recycling. Much of the repurposed pulp ends up as white pizza boxes, with Tuscan scenes stamped on them. Very likely, there are some landscape paintings of the West Side’s working waterfront in the Whitney’s collection. But, again, that’s not why Weinberg was out there. Johnson set up the event to observe first-hand what goes on at the pier. The museum director is one of the councilmember’s appointees on a nine-member community advisory group, or “CAG,” that has been set up to weigh in on Gansevoort Peninsula’s redevelopment into a park. The mayor, borough president and Johnson each have three appointees on the CAG. Plans for Gansevoort even call for it to sport a beach on its southern side. Yet, the peninsula won’t only be a park. Part of it, in fact, will be dedicated to a new marine waste-transfer station. Specifically, the paper-barging operation from W. 59th St. will be relocated to Gansevoort, which also will handle all of Manhattan’s glass, plastic and metal recyclables. All of these recyclables will be shipped from Gansevoort to a recycling facility in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The Whitney is a glittering newcomer to the Meatpacking District. On the other hand, across the West Side Highway, to the west of the museum, Gansevoort Peninsula has long been home to trash — as in, municipal garbage-related uses — since at least the mid-20th century. Gansevoort once even sported an incinerator, the ominously named Gansevoort Destructor Plant, which was later converted into a garage for city garbage trucks, its current use. In an earlier incarnation, the peninsula was a lively open-air farmers market. But the advent of supermarkets with refrigeration ended that use. Before they went out to the pierhead to watch the barge maneuvers, Weinberg and Johnson observed several garbage trucks dumping the final loads of paper into the heaping barge. “Boom! Boom! Boom!” came a thunderous clanging from one truck. The cacophony lasted a few seconds. “That’s him banging the hopper blade,” Killeen explained. “He’s trying to empty the truck.”
A garbage truck adding a final load of recyclable paper to an open hopper barge, which had already been filled over the past days with about 400 tons of paper. The facility sends five barges per week to Staten Island.
The Gansevoort transfer facility will have 12 bays, six each on its east and west sides, from which the garbage trucks will dump their recyclables into waiting barges in either of two slips. The peninsula’s existing marine waste-transfer structure — which has not seen use in decades — will be totally rebuilt in the same location. The bays on one side will be for paper, and those on the other for metal, glass and plastic. “Recycling is neater than any of the other materials we pick up,” Killeen assured. Later, responding to follow-up questions, Gregory Anderson, Sanitation’s chief of staff, said because the Gansevoort facility will be out on the water and also enclosed, noise shouldn’t be a problem. Each day, about 50 to 60 garbage trucks will dump about 5 tons of recyclables at Gansevoort. Each truck will make one trip per day. The heaviest days for recycling pickups will be Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The trucks will arrive at Gansevoort from mid-to-late morning, with 11 a.m. being peak time. Anderson said there will be some garbage trucks that come in the evening, namely those that pick up from schools. Again, he assured, even if there are a few garbage trucks that come at night, the facility will be quiet and won’t affect any residents who happen to live within earshot of Gansevoort.
Ernest Mack, who runs the pier, shouts to the tugboat, which will transport the barge to Staten Island where the paper will be made into pizza boxes, among other things.
As for garbage trucks crossing the heavily used Hudson River bikeway and park esplanade, he said, “Our drivers are very attentive. They know there’s a heavy volume of traffic there. There will be some sort of stop light there.” The garbage trucks that currently park on Gansevoort cross the bikeway and there currently are traffic lights for both the trucks and bikes. According to Anderson, construction of the marine transfer station, or M.T.S., on Gansevoort is included in the city’s fiscal year 2020 budget — so
won’t start before then — and should be at least a two-year project. Until 2020, the W. 59th St. pier will be used for barging recyclable paper, while recyclable metal, paper and glass will continue to be sent to New Jersey or the Bronx by trucks and then barged. Meanwhile, the plan for the W. 59th St. facility is to convert it to handle “C and D” waste, or construction and demolition debris. To get to the Gansevoort M.T.S., the garbage trucks will drive along a GANSEVOORT continued on p.26 TheVillager.com
B&H dairy restaurant still struggling to reopen B&H continued from p. 1
PHOTO BY YANNIC RACK
front of his shuttered storefront on Fri., July 10, while contractors were working inside. The dairy, which has served up borscht and other classic fare since 1938, was closed by the Department of Buildings and Con Edison inspectors who surveyed the buildings in the area in the aftermath of the explosion. Abdelwahed, an Egyptian native who runs B&H with his wife, Alexandra, has since had to upgrade his fire-suppression system at a cost of $28,000 and replace all of the place’s gas piping. On top of that, his monthly operating costs run up to roughly $30,000. “On March 26, we worked and everything was fine. After it, my life stopped. I don’t know what we have done wrong, I don’t understand. I really don’t understand. We really suffered very much,” Abdelwahed said, as customers stopped by in regular intervals to express support and ask when the restaurant would reopen. One of them, Erik Lewis, who passed by on his bike with his daughter Zoë, said he used to frequent B&H in the Sixties when he was a taxi driver. “I love the place. I used to live in the neighborhood and come here all the time,” he said. “I took my mother here once and it was the previous owner, but the same kind of style. The food is delicious, and not too expensive either. I’m bringing my whole family — one at a time.” With permits from D.O.B. and the Landmarks Preservation Commission now finally in hand, the contractors started work last Mon., July 6. Abdelwahed hopes he will finally be able to open his doors in early August, but stressed that he won’t hold out any longer. An online fundraiser for the restaurant was organized in April and brought in $25,000, but the money has come and gone. Another one was set up last week by Andy Reynolds, who has been a loyal customer since he moved to the neighborhood in 1993, 10 years before Abdelwahed and his wife took over. Reynolds has been lending a hand by reaching out to the media and local blogs, as well as liaising with the city agencies involved in the ongoing renovations. The YouCaring campaign, which runs until mid-August, has already raised more than $7,500 in the first week. “Everything is going as well as it can right now; they’ve got all the permits they need, they got the contractors there,” Reynolds said. “It’s been a real financial blow. I have faith that they’re going to re-
Owner Fawzy Abdelwahed inside B&H kosher dairy restaurant as repairs were being made this week.
open but he’s out of money. Hence the crowdfunding campaign — which is going to be a drop in the bucket. With all the expenses they have, the money from these campaigns is helpful but it basically evaporates,” he said, adding that B&H didn’t collect any insurance because the building wasn’t directly impacted by the explosion. After it emerged that apparently illegal tapping of the gas lines had been made in one of the buildings involved in the explosion, the remaining businesses on the block and in the neighborhood were put under the microscope by city inspectors as well as Con Ed. “One minute Con Ed said, ‘You’re fine, we’ll turn the gas back on next week’, which was like the week after the explosion, and then they turned on the gas for other buildings but they didn’t turn it on for the building where B&H is,” Reynolds said. “And then the guy was telling them they need to do these upgrades, and it got complicated.” Now that the permits are approved and work is underway, both Abdelwahed and Reynolds are quick to praise the cooperation with city agencies over the past months, especially the Department of Small Business Services. “Following the East Village explosion, S.B.S. has worked with more than 40 impacted small businesses,” a department spokesperson wrote in an e-mail on Wed., July 15. “S.B.S. has helped these businesses through the recovery process, with insurance matters, accessing documentation to
recoup for lost or damages goods, and a number of other services. S.B.S. has been working very closely with B&H to help guide them through the recovery process, and expedite licenses and permits.” The e-mail also mentioned the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, which announced back in April that it had raised $125,000 to support businesses and families affected by the disaster. “It is truly characteristic of our city to join together in the face of adversity, and to show compassion and love to our fellow New Yorkers when they need it most,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement in April. However, City Hall didn’t reach out with an application to B&H until last week. A request for comment from the Mayor’s Office was not returned by press time. Now, before the restaurant can go back to business as usual, final approval is still needed from the buildings and fire departments, as well as Con Ed and the Department of Health. The eatery’s staff, some of whom have found part-time work, will all return once the kitchen is up and running again. “It’s just got a long history in the neighborhood, so people really want this place to make it,” Reynolds said. “If B&H were to disappear from the East Village, it would be like a hole in the block.” The restaurant has been a local staple since the 1930s, when Second Ave. was known as the Yiddish Broadway and the restaurant attracted its share
of actors and actresses. Its founder, Abie Bergson, opened the dairy with the help of credit from the surrounding restaurant supply stores. The deal was sealed “on a handshake” back then, according to Florence Bergson Goldberg, his daughter, who sent a letter to the mayor urging him to support the restaurant. Goldberg, who was born in 1941 and now lives in Florida, last week described how she and her older brother grew up in the restaurant. “It was wonderful, we knew everybody,” she said over the phone, speaking in an unmistakable New York accent. “Everybody was very attentive to us as children. They were like second parents almost; if we had to go some place, somebody would take us across the street or take us over to the movies, different things like that. They would look after us. A lot of them had their businesses in the area. “To me, it’s like a landmark, it’s the only surviving dairy restaurant in the whole area from that era,” she said. “You know, the smallest one lasted the longest,” she said, adding that they used to dot every other block. Of course, the most famous of the dairy restaurants was Ratner’s on Delancey St., which closed in 2004. Goldberg’s father sold B&H in 1969 and it has passed through multiple owners since then. Despite the changes, some customers have been coming since as far back as the Fifties. Goldberg said her father actually wanted to be an actor, a fact he reflected upon in his unfinished memoirs, of which she possesses the only copy. “He had a lot of stars come into the store,” she said. “They used to come in and eat and talk, schmooze around. “He always aspired to be an actor but life didn’t take him there. So this place, when it opened, to him it became his stage. And everybody in the store, whoever worked there and whoever came in, they were all the characters in the play. It was entertainment, and that’s how he described his own business. He was the director and everybody was an actor, and they all played a part in this ongoing play.” Almost 80 years on, Abdelwahed said he still feels the same way when he stands behind the counter serving up challah French toast and matzo ball soup. “It feels like a show that runs every day,” he said, one that all involved hope will resume very soon. “Knock on contractor’s ladder,” Reynolds added with a smile. July 16, 2015
It’s time to redesign park’s pitiful tree pits TALKING POINT BY SHARON WOOLUMS
July 16, 2015
PHOTOS BY SHARON WOOLUMS
ate to say “I told you so”... but, actually, isn’t there always a bit of delicious satisfaction knowing we were right… right? In a way, yes, but no, this is too dire. Desperately needed trees dying left and right, being replaced again and again to no avail — no fun gloating here! It’s too sad and pathetic to watch all of us clamoring to find a square inch of shade around the fountain of one of the most famous parks in the world. Unfortunately, without trees, our beloved Washington Square Park more resembles a corporate plaza than a park. Once upon a time in Washington Square Park there were huge trees surrounding the fountain, comfortable benches to sit on, and musicians that respected each other’s auditory space. But that was pre-redesign. Regular park users have bemoaned some of the changes resulting from the $32 million project ever since. When the main reconstruction of the park was finished, I wrote about “the spontaneous creativity that happened naturally here” and the hope that “that glorious time will not die, like the tree in the circle.” Never could I have imagined having to add an “S” to tree! Now three zelkova elms around the “Tisch Fountain” are down, with five to go — and yet another just turned brown! Once again, and then again and again, recently replaced trees didn’t make the transplant — some say they died of a heartache! Without shade, musicians and their audiences are finding the park, along with its hot-as-hell (freezing-in-winter) black granite mausoleum benches around the fountain, downright user-unfriendly! Though some regulars have left, others, though diminished in number, despite the discomfort, are determined to keep the spirit of our park alive — and they do it well! Tobi Bergman, the Community Board 2 chairperson and a former Parks Department employee, mentioned in a recent C.B. 2 Parks Committee meeting that the current design for these eight trees is not working and they should be planted at ground level. In 2009 I did a walk-around of the park with a tree expert, Richard
One of the three empty tree pits around the fountain plaza at Washington Square Park. Gates and plywood were put around the hole — making it even more unsightly — to keep parkgoers from tripping over the low railing and injuring themselves.
Hawthorne of Hawthorne Bros. Tree Service, Inc., of Bedford Hills, New York. He recognized then that there would be little hope for the survival of these trees, given the tree pits in which they were planted. Lacking proper drainage, this decision — without benefit of a reputable arborist’s expertise — was a huge mistake on the part of the architect who designed the park’s reconstruction. As Hawthorne explained, “A tree’s root system extends three times the length of the radius of the drip line” — the tree’s outermost leaves — “where roots have the freedom to grow without any constrictions or impediments. “Instead of planting them in a pit,” he said, “they should have been planted at ground level, with a small retaining wall built around them, the same diameter as the pits — preferably larger, making sure holes are built at the base of the walls to allow excess water to drain off. The walls could even double as a bench for people to sit on while listening to music, for which our park is known,” he noted. Hmm...similar to what we had before…just sayin’! Even in 2009, Hawthorne noticed tips of the other fountain trees were “dying back,” meaning they were in the process of dying. Since the tips are farthest from the feeder roots, it means the tree does not have enough strength to send nutrients to the branches’ ends
A man on a cell phone walks by another one of the “accident-waiting-to-happen” empty tree pits.
— which are the first to show the effects of stress. The small offshoots near the tree’s base, called “sucker growth,” found on the fountain trees, are indicative of the same problem. And then there are the telltale cracks in the bark, yet another sign of an advanced state of decline. Of course, the bark and roots of dying trees are more susceptible to being invaded by insects and disease. We all crave the shade in the heat of summer, but due to increased skin sensitivity for those on medications, as well as children and the elderly, lack of shade is a serious problem. Chopping down trees, transplanting and replanting is prohibitively expensive. Nobody wants the disruption of tearing up the heart of the park once again — it’s the pits! Excuse the pun.
But mistakes were made. It is time to acknowledge that, own up, and finally redesign the redesigned pits for future park lovers. Park activists who fought valiantly against the recent redesign had admonished, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Now the fix is in...but it’s broken! We have a right to expect shade in the most important part of the park, and we have a right to oxygen too… and some of us have earned the right to complain! Tree huggers unite…we still have some bark left in us! Woolums is a public member, C.B. 2 Parks and Waterfront Committee, and in the mid-2000s was the point person on the lawsuit by Emergency Coalition Organization to Save Washington Square Park (ECO) against the Washington Square Park reconstruction project. TheVillager.com
‘Aid in dying’ isn’t a tough pill to swallow RHYMES WITH CRAZY BY LENORE SKENAZY
gony is not something most of us want to live through, especially when the end result is not something great, like childbirth, or learning to walk again, or recovering from cancer. Agony when it is the last stop before death — or, worse, a long layover en route — is just plain bad. So why does New York State not let doctors prescribe the medicine that terminal patients need to shorten their torment? Right now there is a case in our state Supreme Court, as well as four bills with bipartisan support in the New York State Legislature, that all have the same goal: Let the dying die without suffering unbearable pain. The old term for this — “assisted suicide” — got it all wrong. Suicide is when you kill yourself because you don’t want to go on living.
“Aid in dying” is for folks who don’t have any choice. They are terminally ill. Many would love to go on living — like that young woman with brain cancer last year, Brittany Maynard — but they are terminally ill. Death is around the corner, but first can come a period of screaming pain or torment. A prescription can offer a quicker exit from the torture chamber. When Brittany learned her cancer was terminal, she moved to Oregon, because that state has allowed doctors to give aid in dying since 1997. When her glioblastoma reared up for its final blow, the 29-year-old scored the only victory she could against it. She said goodbye to the world and the people she loved, then raced past the grue-
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some final scene by taking pills — pills her doctor gave her. That sounds like compassion to me. In New York State, it is a crime. Currently, our law prevents doctors from even discussing the possibility of a less drawn-out ending. What that means is that people like Sara Myers, a New Yorker with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, are looking at a day when, as she puts it, “this disease will rob me of my ability to breathe. There is no medicine to stop or even slow the progression of this disease.” A doctor can’t save her life. But a doctor could save her the terrifying moment that she finds herself unable to breathe, by giving her the pills to leave peacefully. New Yorker Steven Goldberg has AIDS and his case is far gone. “I’ve had to have toes amputated, I’m unable to swallow solid food,” he says. He also has cancer of the larynx, his body is wasting away and he is in “chronic severe pain.” Is it compassionate to make him linger in this state when he is going to die soon anyway? Eric Seiff, a New York lawyer, has bladder cancer. “Should I decide my dying becomes unbearable, I want my physician to be able to prescribe medication I can
take to achieve a peaceful death,” says Seiff. Just knowing that this is possible would be a great comfort. Indeed, in Oregon, for every 300 people requesting aid in dying, only one person actually takes the pills. But knowing they can, makes the illness much more bearable. Sara, Steven and Eric are three of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case here. “Advances in medicine and technology have allowed people to live longer,” says David Leven, executive director of End of Life Choices New York, a group that is also part of the lawsuit, represented by the Disability Rights Law Center and Debevoise & Plimpton. But while doctors are allowed to prescribe feeding tubes for people with dementia, and invasive treatments for those with terminal cancer — sometimes without the patient’s explicit consent — they can’t prescribe the lethal dose that the patients must ask for while they are sound of mind. A peaceful death as life draws to a close is not suicide. It is the ending most of us hope for. It should not be a crime to grant our dying wish. Skenazy is a keynote speaker and author and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids”
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July 16, 2015
Disabled displayed their pride PHOTO BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL
Participants in the inaugural Disability Pride Parade on Sunday walked and wheeled their way down Broadway from Madison Square Park to Union Square’s northern plaza.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR A really sad day To The Editor: Re “Court of appeals green-lights N.Y.U. mega-project” (news article, July 2): It’s a really sad day when judges stop a mall from taking public parklands in Willets Point, Queens — under the Public Trust Doctrine — but we in Greenwich Village are denied those rights. We grieve for the loss of our precious green spaces, including the LaGuardia Corner Gardens, the Mercer St. Playground, LaGuardia Park — with that lovely toddler park — and
putting the dog run under residents’ windows only adds to the insult. If those judges think that N.Y.U. will maintain the spaces after their 20 years of construction debris, they ought to have looked at how poorly N.Y.U. currently maintains its own properties throughout the Village. There must be something wrong with our courts and the current legal system to allow private rights to surpass the community’s public interest. This poorly designed N.Y.U. expansion will be a huge burden to not only our community but the university and New York City, as well.
The de Blasio administration has again failed us and we shan’t forget. Sylvia Rackow Rackow is chairperson, Committee to Preserve Our Neighborhood
Exciting news To The Editor: Re “People for Bernie” (Scoopy’s Notebook, July 9): I was thrilled to read that Arthur Schwartz is set to organize for Sanders. If I were still in New York City, I would be tempted to un-retire and join him. Good luck, Arthur. Howard Hemsley
Favors facade from ’40 To The Editor: Re “One if by Land, Two if by Sea — and three if facade is torn down!” (news article, July 9): Personally, I think the facade looks best in the tax photo taken in 1940. And I’m sure my late father, who was an artist who specialized in etchings of New York street scenes and landmarks from the 1920s to the 1960s, would agree. Joe Dolice LETTERS, continued on p. 16
July 16, 2015
How I became a Catholic Worker in my later life NOTEBOOK BY MARIANNE LANDRE GOLDSCHEIDER
he Catholic Worker is many things to many people. Its founders were Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. Dorothy Day became a well-known figure. Today she is being considered for canonization as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. Her memoir, “The Long Loneliness,” is still in print. Born in Brooklyn in 1897, she and her family moved to San Francisco and then Chicago. Her father was a sports writer. Later the family moved back to New York City, where she became a journalist, writing for The Masses. She was part of a bohemian crowd in Greenwich Village that included Eugene O’Neill and Malcolm Cowley and Agnes Bolton, among others. This was in the nineteen teens. These were lively years; she was a lively young woman. At one point, she became pregnant. Her lover told her to get an abortion or he would leave her. She did, and he left her anyway, as is so often the case. She regretted the abortion for the rest of her life. Dorothy then studied nursing at King’s County Hospital. In the meantime she wrote a novel, “The Eleventh Virgin.” She met a young man, Forster Batterham, who stylized himself a naturalist, though he was not a trained scientist. She fell deeply in love with him and they lived in a cottage on Staten Island, which she had purchased from having sold the rights to her novel to Hollywood. They lived an idyllic life by the sea. She recalled in her memoir how wonderful she felt lying next to his body, smelling of sand and sea. In 1926 their daughter Tamar Teresa was born. She and Forster were not married, however. Dorothy had always had an interest in the Bible. She grew more intensely religious. Seeking an anchor, she was drawn to the Catholic Church. She had her baby baptized a Catholic. She herself converted the following year. Forster hated religion and would not marry her. They parted but remained friends for the rest of their lives. Dorothy now found herself a single mother and describes in “The Long Loneliness” her struggles. She lived for a while in Mexico, then in Los Angeles, writing film scripts, supporting herself and Tamar, finally moving back to New York City, living with a sister in what was then called the Gaslight District, an area later razed to build Stuyvesant Town. As a reporter, she went to Washington, D.C., in December 1932 to report on the Bonus March of veterans of World War I. This was the time of the Great Depression. Returning to New York City, she found a guest at her apartment named Peter Maurin, a Frenchman who was 10 years older than her. Peter had been a Christian Brother teacher in Paris, who later immigrated to America by way of Canada. He was a vagabond who did odd jobs, a kind of hobo with a keen intellect. Dorothy instantly was inspired by him and his ideas to put the social teaching of the Church about economics and justice into practice by starting a monthly newspaper. On May 1, 1933, the newspaper The Catholic Worker was launched. It sold for a penny a copy, which is the price to this day. They peddled it at TheVillager.com
Dorothy Day in 1934, shortly after founding The Catholic Worker newspaper.
Union Square. Although Dorothy’s apartment was small, Peter said, there is always room for hospitality. He and Dorothy believed in practicing what Catholics call the Works of Mercy described by Christ in the 25th chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel. Their faith and dedication where contagious and soon others joined them, eager to help. Thus, the Catholic Worker movement began, dedicated to living the Gospel, helping the poor, advocating for justice and peace, favoring ownership of property for all, not just for a few, and small farms. They wanted a decentralized political order where people could be free and responsible.
At the Catholic Worker people are treated with a very tolerant kindness.
Today the movement is now 81 years old, with much history, solid traditions and an appealing philosophy: Dorothy and Peter were faithful, devout Catholics. They loved the Church, yet wanted to remain independent — also independent of the state — so they never became a tax-exempt nonprofit and have never sought state funding. They declared themselves anarchists. Well, that’s a very brief, incomplete history of the Catholic Worker movement. Here is my story. In 1968 I was a teacher of German at Columbia University, involved with a young protester. He had heard of the Catholic Worker movement and its farming community at Tivoli, New York, on the Hudson, where he wanted to take me, and also about its House of Hospitality for the homeless, St. Joseph’s House on E. First St. In the 1970s
another house, Maryhouse, was opened on E. Third St. One evening he took me to St. Joseph House, but as we lived Uptown and so much was going on in our lives, we did not return. We had no time to go to Tivoli. Some years later I met a Spanish painter named Paco and moved to his loft on Second Avenue between 11th and 12th Streets — minutes from the old Third Street Music School, which Dorothy Day had bought in 1975 as a home for women. Peter Maurin was long dead, having passed in 1949. Dorothy Day was in her late 70s. Maryhouse is modest and barely visible. I am not a Catholic. It was not until 1991 that I first set foot inside Maryhouse, myself then a year shy of 60. My career at Columbia had come to an end in the student unrest of the ’60s; the father of my two sons had divorced me. My sons had left New York. My artist friend Paco had moved to East Hampton. My mother, who had died in Vienna in 1982, left me a little money, enough to subsist below the poverty level. The Catholic Worker lives what they call “voluntary poverty”; I preferred involuntary poverty to tedious jobs. I became one of many poor, old, lonely women, drawn to a community that would eventually warmly embrace me. I went to a Friday night meeting, one of a series of free, open-to-the-public lectures the Catholic Worker holds on Friday nights from September to June. Interested and fascinated by their presence in the neighborhood, I joined them. I now lived in a walk-up on E. Sixth St., next door to the Gandhi restaurant. My rent was low, my needs minimal. (I grew up in wartime Prague). I had time on my hands. A friend had asked me to speak at a rally of the squatters at Tompkins Square; my audience was perhaps 10 people, among them a woman poet, who promised to help me publish my writings (all unpublished to this day). One day she went to see a clairvoyant, who suggested she visit the Catholic Worker. She took me along. We were met by Jane Sammon, in many ways a successor to Dorothy Day — a wonderful and brilliant woman, who welcomes all visitors. She asked me a few questions and noticed my German accent; Jane loves Germans. This was my entree into the Catholic Worker. She gave me a copy of “The Long Loneliness.” I asked what I owed and she said, “All is free in our house.” I asked if I could make a contribution. “Yes,” she said. I liked this house and continued coming to Friday night meetings. Roger O’Neill, a member of the community, had come to some squatter meetings. One squatter actually said to me that Roger had an interest in me; he did, but not in the way the squatter insinuated. He saw in me a congenial soul. With a lot of time on my hands, I wanted to do some volunteer work. But skeptic that I am — I had tried this and that — I decided I wanted paid work. Roger invited me to come to St. Joseph’s House — “when the redhead is there” — and help cook for the two houses. At one time, I was also joining Women in Black vigiling for peace outside the public library on 42nd St., which they do to this day. It was the day the redhead was cooking. Still, I could help cook and join the vigiling women by 5:30 p.m. The squatter movement of which I was a part MARYHOUSE continued on p. 16 July 16, 2015
How I became a Catholic Worker in my later life MARYHOUSE continued from p. 15
was lively, but very different from the faith-centered Catholic Worker. Yet as the ’90s progressed, the city was cracking down on squatters more and more, evicting them from their buildings. One day in 1997 I was at Maryhouse. A woman named Cathy Breen was there; she had spent 10 years in Bolivia as a Maryknoll lay missionary. She heard my German accent and a new chapter in my life began. Cathy, in her friendly, outgoing way, addressed me, and we quickly found an affinity. She was new to the city and eager to make new friends. I was 65 years old by then, 15 years older than her. Many of my friends had died, and others left a New York that was no longer affordable. I saw myself in the category of old, poor, lonely women in New York. I was attracted to the Catholic Worker, where people are treated with a very tolerant kindness. Cathy drew me in. Until then I had been coming to Friday night meetings, and also had begun coming one afternoon to St. Joe’s to help with the cooking for 80. There is cooking for those who live in the houses and their friends, a group I became part of by becoming Cathy’s friend. I once was offered keys but declined, feeling my role was too negligible. Since there is no bell I had to
knock on the broken plexiglas in the door. Sometimes somebody would come sprinting down the stairs immediately; sometimes it would take awhile. I could come for breakfast, lunch and dinner — all lovingly prepared. I’ve almost never come for breakfast, but now I come for lunch and dinner, at times with great frequency, at times with lesser. Living alone, I’m happy to break bread with friendly folk, rather than eat alone and be prone to fall into bad habits of the elderly, such as eating standing up or eating little and not regularly. At St. Joe’s cooking is done for a group called the “guests” but their coming is restricted. For the ladies at Maryhouse a meal is served Tuesday through Friday from noon to 2 p.m.; admission is unlimited, no money is asked, no praying required. The men at St. Joe’s line up outside in the morning at 9:30 and are served soup. Many of the people are homeless. At Maryhouse showers are offered; there is a clothing room in both houses, where donations accumulate. I am more familiar with Maryhouse. The work is done by volunteers and keeping it all running smoothly — as it does — takes managerial skills and efforts. Cathy asked me to join her in the kitchen in the mornings to help her prepare the lunchtime meal served at 11:30 to residents and guests at noon. Until Cathy asked me to help her I found it difficult to find volunteer work that suited me; too much was
rigid and demanding. At the Catholic Worker, commitment is valued. Yet those who come less regularly are also welcome. No hours are set. Cathy, like other volunteers, also had outside paid work. She worked for an asthma project in Harlem, and also began looking for a small apartment outside the house, as many workers have done. But prices had already skyrocketed, a closet on Avenue D going for $500 a month. The many years of inexpensive housing in the area were over. When rents were cheap, Dorothy Day was able to help with rent payments until the renters were back on their feet. In 2002 Cathy accepted an offer from Kathy Kelly, who had founded Voices in the Wilderness, to accompany her to Iraq and stay there until May 2003. Cathy fell in love with the Middle East and its people and has since spent a lot of time there. For a while I still did volunteer work distributing the Catholic Worker newspaper. I had worked as an editor, was familiar with the layout, proofreading, copyediting. I helped manually paste address labels onto the newspaper — now with a circulation of about 30,000, published seven times a year. I immediately investigated barcoding — how most publications are sent out today — and found out it’s actually cheaper than hand-labeling. Labeling is part of the worker philosophy, and through it I met a delightful Frenchman, Roger, a member of the Little Brothers, a
Catholic religious community. In Paris, he had been a chauffeur to Jacques Maritain, the French philosopher, who taught at Princeton during World War II. Roger spent time in Dachau, the German concentration camp; he had been in Africa, and was part of the French worker-priest movement. Unfortunately, he died before too long, and I was asked to write his obituary for the newspaper. Things in life are coming to an end, and by now it’s a quarter of a century since I, in the most informal and accidental way, joined the Catholic Worker. I have learned about its philosophy — a philosophy very congenial to me and that I have lived in many ways: Restrict your material needs to a minimum, do paid work to meet those needs, but have as much time as possible to have time — the most precious commodity. This is often maligned in corporate and academic worlds, where your greatest value is your material value, and where we cite people’s “worth” in dollars and cents. My Harvard Law School grad ex-husband firmly believed productivity is measured by what you earn, and your value measured by the wealth and possessions you have accumulated. He accumulated a lot after he divorced me in 1967 and never shared a cent with me, telling our sons I was a lazy loser. Coming to the Catholic Worker has given me value: the value of being a good human being.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR LETTERS continued from p. 14
Bucks and back to basics To The Editor: Re “Bharucha and board allies are gone, but Cooper Union probe, tuition suit remain” (news article, July 9): The school’s new board must be comprised of some heavy hitters committed to raising the necessary funds to restore Peter Cooper’s legacy: a return to no tuition for students, excellent salaries for the faculty and a restoration of the school’s endowment. Timothy Linn
Will miss those little looks To The Editor: Re “Something feels missing as mailbox store closes” (news article, July 9): You will always be in our hearts and in our
July 16, 2015
memory. I will miss those little looks, which said so much. Love you, Lenny. Barbara Gilhooley
Nobody does it better To The Editor: Re “Riots at the Stonewall and magic at Caffe Cino; Gay revolution in Greenwich Village in the ’60s” (Gay Pride, June 25): I can think of no one better than Robert Heide to have written this piece. Besides all the theater and books he and John have created, he is the go-to guy if a researcher is looking for Greenwich Village history and gay history of the 1960s forward. I include Andy Warhol’s scene in his expertise. I know Robert was a resource for John Strausbaugh when he was writing his well-received “The Village: 400 years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues, a History of Greenwich Village.”
Thanks, Robert, for writing this. Clayton Patterson
Write time for Cino book To The Editor: Re “Riots at the Stonewall and magic at Caffe Cino; Gay revolution in Greenwich Village in the ’60s” (Gay Pride, June 25): Bob, advising you as a friend, please take all these bits, pieces, columns, and get the real book done. Madeline Hoffer E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to email@example.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published. TheVillager.com
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Paper, plastic and a park GANSEVOORT continued from p. 10
ramp on the peninsula’s northern edge, adjacent to the fireboat access road, then turn left and go up to the facility. The entire trash-barging scheme is part of the citywide Solid Waste Management Plan, or SWMP, a.k.a. “SWAMP,” which was pushed by Mayor Bloomberg and is being continued under Mayor de Blasio. “It’s a fair, equitable, environmentally sound plan,” Anderson said. “Each borough shoulders its fair share of trash. It gets trucks off the road by relying on barges and rail. Traditionally, majority-minority low-income communities got hammered with garbage.” Upper East Siders, however, have notably been battling an M.T.S. in their neck of the woods. Construction on that facility — which could start operating as soon as mid-to-late 2017 — was able to start earlier than the one slated for Gansevoort, Anderson said, because Gansevoort’s salt shed and garbage trucks first had to be relocated. What’s left of the old Gansevoort Destructor also must be demolished, and the peninsula’s soil needs some remediation to ensure it’s safe for park use. “As far as remediation,” Anderson said, “we’ve already completed a lot of work on the incinerator in order to allow it to function as a safe garage space for employees. Post-demolition, we will excavate soil as needed — approximately 5 feet — and replace with clean fill.” Meanwhile, a new three-district mega-garage at Spring and Washington Sts. is expected to be completed by this year’s end. The garbage trucks currently on Gansevoort, from Sanitation Districts 2 and 5 — which serve Community Boards 2 and 5 — will then relocate to the new Hudson Square garage, which will also house the garbage trucks from District 1, which currently are squeezed into Pier 36 on the Lower East Side. A new shed for road salt at Canal and West Sts. will replace the one on Gansevoort. The Gansevoort M.T.S. is also planned to have a “recycling education center,” where schoolkids and others can learn how gar-
bage is repurposed for reuse. The Gansevoort M.TS. plan, though, still hinges on whether the state and city can agree on a payment to the Hudson River Park Trust in order to “alienate” the part of Gansevoort that will be needed for the M.T.S. The state Legislature already voted some years ago to alienate the parkland, and a figure of $50 million has been cited. However, the state has been reluctant to pay half of that sum, arguing that the M.T.S. is part of the city’s garbage plan and thus not a state issue. “We’re confident there will be a resolution,” Anderson stated. The design of the actual M.T.S. structure is in the “very, very preliminary stages,” Anderson added. Weinberg indicated that he just hopes the shed is as low as possible. Over all, Weinberg was inspired by the tour of the W. 59th St. barging operation. “I don’t think Villagers even understand this is going on. Coming up here, you see what a great educational experience it is,” he said. “I think the Whitney ought to do something with artists and recycling,” he added. “We can plan this.” For his part, Johnson said that, above all, the whole operation in the Village will need to be done safely. “I appreciate the Sanitization Department’s willingness to work with the community as the Gansevoort Peninsula transfer station is built,” Johnson said. “Touring the W. 59th St. facility gave us a feel for what will be built at Gansevoort. “While I recognize that the city has an obligation to process our recyclables, it is also responsible for safeguarding the health and safety of our residents and respecting the Hudson’s fragile ecosystem. My community advisory board appointees and I are looking forward to working closely with the Department of Sanitation to ensure that our recyclables are processed in a safe and responsible manner.” Johnson is currently setting up two more tours, one of the Sunset Park recycling facility — specifically to look at a recycling education center there — and another of Gansevoort Peninsula.
Arch may date from 1897 ONE IF BY LAND continued from p. 3
viewed Conway about his plans for the future, now that automobiles were slowly replacing horses and the need for horseshoes. She also likes to tell the story of when her grandfather made a giant horseshoe for Charles Lindbergh to accompany the aviator on his famous 1927 flight from New York to Paris. Her grandfather eventually converted his operation into an artisan workshop, where anyone could pay to use the forge. Later, when he and his wife started spending more time in Florida, he rented out the ground floor as a spaghetti restaurant called simply “17.”
July 16, 2015
Conway died in 1944 but the family kept living in the building until it was sold by Bellone’s uncle; she once spent a summer there herself and remembers the building well, even though she left New York City in 1960. “I think it should be restored to the archway because it was made an archway so that horses could go through,” the 79-year-old said. “For most of its life it was a blacksmith shop, you know. I think it’s called Greenwich Village because it was a village. It’s quite a leap of the imagination to think of it as a village now, and I think to keep the artifacts that remind you that once it was a village, is important. And a blacksmith shop certainly reminds you of that.” TheVillager.com
She’s dancing on air with spot in top troupe BY ALICIA GREEN
Clara Ruf-Maldonado performing a solo from George Balanchine’s “Divertimento No. 15” at the School of American Ballet’s 2013 workshop performances.
PHOTO BY ROSALIE O’CONNOR
PHOTO BY PAUL KOLNIK
hen Clara Ruf-Maldonado was nine years old, she scored the opportunity of a lifetime dancing with the New York City Ballet as Marie in George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker.” Now, at age 18, the young East Village ballerina will once again join the NYCB as an apprentice. “Oh, I cried, of course,” Ruf-Maldonado said. “I was very emotional. I think it still hasn’t hit me because this is kind of what I’ve been working toward for so long and it’s been my dream for so long.” Ruf-Maldonado still wonders how it all happened. “Every morning I wake up and say, ‘Wow! This is real.’ ” For the last 11 years, she watched as students from the School of American Ballet, at Lincoln Center, were chosen as apprentices for the NYCB. “When I was younger, I was like, ‘That’s what I’m doing to do,’ ” Ruf-Maldonado said. “It happened to me this year, and I still can’t believe it.” SAB and NYCB were both founded by Lincoln Kirstein and Balanchine, the former in 1934 and the latter in 1948. Ruf-Maldonado was one of five people chosen by Peter Martins, NYCB ballet master in chief, to be an apprentice. She said the students were all together in the office of Kay Mazzo, school’s co-chairperson of faculty, when Martins shared the exciting news with them. “It’s interesting,” Ruf-Maldonado said, “to come back and be in a new role.” While her major dancing break came with her lead performance in “The Nutcracker,” she has additional dancing credits with the NYCB, including parts in “The Sleeping Beauty,” “Circus Polka,” “Harlequinade,” “Coppélia” and “Double Feature.” Ruf-Maldonado’s ballet career goes back even further than her days with NYCB. When she was only three years old, her mother, Elizabeth Ruf-Maldonado, enrolled her in ballet classes at The Ailey School. “I remember we had to gallop around the studio,” Clara said of her earliest dance memories. “It was a really simple step, but I couldn’t stop smiling.” Elizabeth — who is an actress and activist on community gardens, among other local issues — said that Clara simply always loved movement. “She was dancing around all the
Clara Ruf-Maldonado in a partnering class at the School of American Ballet, with SAB Artistic Director Peter Martins looking on.
time, and she was really already showing a lot of talent from the time that she was a baby,” she said. When Clara was seven, she joined School of American Ballet, from which she graduated last month. Her most recent performance was in the wedding pas de deux from “The Sleeping Beauty” for SAB’s annual workshop performances. “Honestly, I’ve been a wreck for the past two months,” the young Ruf-Maldonado said. “I think after 11 years, you’re kind of past the point of being ready to go. It’s just so second nature. It’s so weird that I’m leaving. It’s definitely the biggest thing that I’ve accomplished, graduating from that school and being there for so long.” Mazzo said it’s been a treat to watch Ruf-Maldonado “grow into the beautiful young woman she’s become” after having her in class for so many years. “Fortunately for us, SAB and NYCB are part of the same big family, so we don’t really have to say goodbye to Clara,” she added. “We expect to see her often in our classrooms alongside other members of NYCB, serving as a wonderful role model to the younger students at our school.” While Ruf-Maldonado is sad to leave SAB behind, she said the dedication she has learned from her time there is something that will always stick with her. “I don’t think there is anything that takes as much work as trying to become a professional dancer,” she said. “Going in there every single day for that many years — and not only coming in, but having the motivation to work as hard as you possibly can, with all the sweat and everything that goes in with that. It’s definitely shaped all of our personalities because it makes us like that in our everyday lives. We can kind of push to be successful.” And Clara Ruf-Maldonado is definitely no stranger to success. She was one of three recipients of the 2015 Mae L. Wien Awards for Outstanding Promise, an annual award given to several SAB students. Her success is far from over. But for now Ruf-Maldonado — with the goal of one day hoping to become a principal dancer — will work during her year run to prove she deserves a core contract with the NYCB. Her first performance with the company will be in Martins’s “Swan Lake” this September. “I can’t imagine not dancing,” Ruf-Maldonado said. “It’s what I’ve always been doing, what I will be doing for so long. It’s always going to be with me.” July 16, 2015
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