The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
August 6, 2015 • $1.00 Volume 85 • Number 10
Gottlieb Gansevoort St. plan would gut landmark protections, critics cry BY YANNIC RACK
he Meatpacking District might soon get a significant makeover, if plans to demolish and redevelop a row of its historic low-rise market buildings on Gansevoort St. are given the go-ahead. William Gottlieb Real Es-
tate, which owns the one- and two-story brick buildings on the south side of the street, recently filed plans with the Department of Buildings to replace some of the structures with an eight-story tower and build additional floors on top of the others. But the company, which is GANSEVOORT continued on p. 6
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
t all happened in one horrific, violent flash. Roberta Bayley, the famous punk rock photographer, was taking her little pug, Sidney, for her morning walk over to the Washington Square Park dog run last Saturday. As they stepped out of Bay-
ley’s building on St. Mark’s Place between Third and Second Aves. around 8 a.m., she noticed a young man sleeping on a couch out in front with an extremely large pit bull next to him. Bayley thinks the dog was on a loose leash, but she’s not sure. “Crusty punks” — also SIDNEY continued on p. 7
PHOTO BY BOB KRASNER
Famed punk photog’s dog dies after attack by big ‘crusty’ pit bull
Lorcan Otway reminiscing with memorabilia of his father, Howard Otway, at Theatre 80.
Trying to keep the show going on St. Mark’s Place BY BOB KRASNER
t 9 years old, Lorcan Otway was side by side with his father and brother, digging dirt from the space that would become his father’s dream — Theatre 80 St. Mark’s. Formerly a speakeasy where the City Council drank during Prohibition, the space, at 80 St. Mark’s Place, just off of First Ave., has had a few different lives. Prior to its becoming Theatre 80, Frank Sinatra was
a singing waiter there, and Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman graced the stage when it became a jazz club. Howard Otway, a Quaker actor, singer, novelist and playwright, bought the place in 1964 and spent a lot of time hauling dirt from that basement with his sons to his property in Westchester. Lorcan Otway began his career as an usher and moved through stints as concession manager, house manager and even as a
stage manager, by his early teens. During one evening’s performance, while the actors onstage were performing in the very successful original production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” he was offstage breaking up a fight between two actors that had carried out into the street. “That gave me nightmares for years,” Otway remembered. Bob Balaban and Gary Burghoff got their start THEATER continued on p. 26
Tompkins homeless sound off...........................page 3 Cude launches TLC campaign............................page 4 Is East Village now Airbnb Village?....................page 5 Biking, sliding and zipping!.........page 14
JACKO IS BACKO! We hear from park activist Sharon Woolums that at least one pigeon may have miraculously survived the recent brazen birdnapping at Washington Square in which 200 to 300 local avians were abducted. “Larry and Paul the Pigeon Man told me a man named William McCloud a while back tagged seven of the park pigeons,” Woolums said. “So a couple of days ago, Jacko landed on Paul the Pigeon Man’s shoulder, causing him to shout out, ‘Jacko’s back!’ Jacko found his way back home! Everyone was so excited and welcomed Jacko home! They all know them by name!” IT’S NOT OVER: Well, Gigi Li is no longer running against Jenifer Rajkumar for district leader, after Li last week dropped out of the race in the face of a lawsuit charging serious petition fraud allegations — not to mention without having collected the required 500 signatures from registered Democrats living in the district. But that doesn’t mean everything is just hunky-dory, as far as Rajkumar’s supporters are concerned. Sean Sweeney, a leading member of Downtown Independent Democrats, indicated they may now be setting their sights higher. The lawsuit, filed by two D.I.D. members, accused Coucilmember Margaret Chin’s chief of staff, Yume Kitasei, of fraudulently signing off at the bottom of 15 of Li’s petition sheets as a “subscribing witness,” when in fact, the suit charges, Kitasei did not witness the signatures as they were made, as required. And another 50 signatures were allegedly forged by another supposed subscribing witness. “Chin’s staff cannot just blatantly break the law and then expect there to be no consequences,” Sweeney told us. “We have many avenues available to preserve the integrity of our
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GREEN DAY: The West Village will soon have a new upscale healthy food option when Mrs. Green’s opens on Wed., Aug. 19, at 585 Hudson St., at Bank St. The store, in the 10,200-square-foot space formerly occupied by a Duane Reade, will be the company’s first in New York City. We’re told the place will have one full row devoted to New York products, such as Brooklyn Cure and Piggery sausages, Brooklyn Brine pickles, Brooklyn Dark vegan chocolate (with hemp), a “huge variety” of New York-made cheeses and much more. Local 1500 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, after pushing to unionize Mrs. Green’s for about a year, last summer reached a settlement with the store: Fired workers were rehired and Mrs. Green’s agreed to create an intimidation-free environment for its employees. But the union hardly is throwing in the towel, judging by a hard-hitting statement that Joseph Fedele, their spokesperson, sent us this week. “The West Village community is already well aware of their new neighbor’s abusive history as a labor law violator,” the statement said. “The multinational corporation has been flagrantly abusing New York’s workers for years. In the past 24 months the federal government has charged them with over 20 federal labor violations, including for firing em-
ployees illegally. Our fight to help the workers at Mrs. Green’s, who face threats and intimidation, won’t let up until workers have the respect they deserve.”
RADICAL CAMPOUT: Organizers are getting stoked for this weekend’s Campout New York Post in Tompkins Square Park, which will coincide with two days of live music by punk bands to mark the 27th anniversary of the 1988 park riots. More than 200 people have said on the campout’s Facebook page that they’re planning on attending, while 500 hardcore and crustcore punk fans have clicked “going” on the concerts’ FB page. “I think it’ll go down in Tompkins Square history,” John Penley, who is organizing the campout with Paul DeRienzo, told us. “It’s been so long since anything happened over there, it should go down in history.” Former East Village photojournalist Penley, who now lives in the South and recently dusted off his camera to cover the Carolina Confederate flag flap, is coming up north expressly for the campout. The idea for the event was sparked by the N.Y.P.D.’s recently putting up what the activists deride as a “sniper tower” in Tompkins, apparently in response to the New York Post’s recent reports about a spike in homeless men snoozing in the park during the day. Penley said they plan to kick things off at midnight on Friday with a “buy-in” at Ray’s Candy Store to support Ray, who is recovering from double heart-valve replacement surgery. Another highlight will see the Living Theatre, led by associate artistic director Leah Bachar, perform a new police-focused piece, “No Place to Hide,” at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday near the park’s “Hippie Hill,” the weekend campout’s H.Q. Following the performance there will be an “open mic check” to memorialize Judith Malina, the theater troupe’s legendary co-founder and leading luminary. There may also be readings of some of Malina’s Tompkins-themed poetry. In addition, one of the main organizers from ACT-UP, Brandon Cuicchi, will talk about homelessness and H.I.V. and other issues. The punk music shows, featuring local favorites, organized as usual by Chris Flash, will be Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m to 7 p.m. Penley said at night, the campout contingent will sleep on E. Seventh St. outside the park — “the dark street where no one walks.” They’ll make sure to leave two-thirds of the sidewalk open, as legally required. He added they asked civil rights attorney Norman Siegel to be on call, in case there are any problems, but he’ll be on vacation. “He said he had already planned it, but would have been there if he could,” Penley said. For his part, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton recently commented that the police can’t solve homelessness in the East Village park, or elsewhere, for that matter, by “arresting it away.” “He’s right,” Penley said. “We agree with him on some things.”
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election process. This is not over.” Sweeney didn’t get into specifics, saying that, like a boxer, “We don’t want to tip out punches.” Asked for his take, Chad Marlow, who ran against Li for Community Board 3 chairperson two years ago, said he sees no need for Li to step down as head of the East Village board. “Right now, the only thing out there against Gigi are allegations,” he noted. That said, he offered, “She seems like ‘Teflon Gigi.’ All that she’s done in her past, nothing seems to stick to her. But this may be different because there are suggestions of illegality. Specifically, it sounds like conspiracy to commit election fraud.” Marlow stressed that he’d like to see the Manhattan district attorney, as well as the U.S. district attorney, investigate exactly what went on with Li’s petitions. He added that just because the Board of Elections ruled Li had too few signatures and she bailed out of the race, that doesn’t mean she’s in the clear. “If you rob a bank and give the money back, you still robbed the bank,” he noted, adding, “These are allegations of messing with a U.S. election.” Like Sweeney, Marlow says Kitasei’s role is of major concern. “If these actions were taken at the direction of Margaret Chin, Chin’s career is over, done,” he maintained. “We may lose a councilmember over this.” A Chin spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment. As for District Manager Susan Stetzer, who collected a sheet of signatures for her boss, Li, Marlow said, “In my opinion, Stetzer has done nothing wrong.”
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‘We are not doing nothing’: Tompkins homeless BY GERARD FLYNN
PHOTO BY GERARD FLYNN
ith the sun beating down a few minutes before 11, Sunday morning in Tompkins Square Park a couple of weeks ago couldnt have been more picturesque. As usual, there was a pocket of homeless folks who have made the leafy shade by the chess tables near the corner of Avenue A and E. Seventh St. their perennial home. Most sat drinking all sorts of stuff, cooling off under the trees, listening to transistor-radio music. But one beat red (and very high) transient down from Harlem was attempting to venture far from the madding crowd, perhaps to a vacant seat on nearby Crusty Row, which has been suspiciously empty in recent weeks of its typically blitzed “travelers.” After spying his intentions, two eagle-eyed cops, parked in a car outside the New York Police Department’s surveillance tower near the Krishna Tree, drove their cruiser into Saidaziz M.’s bodhisattva path, blocking it, before enlightening him, as he sat strung out on one of the sunbaked benches, that he wasn’t welcome. “You can’t stay here. You gotta move on,” one cop pointedly told him. The man somehow managed to haul himself over to the railing, where his mouth opened involuntarily and managed to deliver a hardcore cocktail of vomit that made both cops turn away and cringe. Within minutes, backup arrived and with six of New York’s Finest breathing down his neck, Mr. M. somehow managed to make it back to the chess-table benches where he curled up comatose under one and waited as the cops called the paramedics. With soda and sandwiches in hand, do-gooders from #Hashtag Lunchbag, however, got to him before the EMS medics, their voices rousing him like a Pavlovian bell. And while the man sat there squirting ketchup on his sandwich,
A man slept on a bench in Tompkins Square Park two weekends ago, when the police observation tower was still posted in the park.
one volunteer, Bryan Kellar, denied the homeless population amounted to any kind of threat. He affixed the “blame” for the N.Y.P.D. tower on reports from Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, which has been running articles about transients’ bad behavior in the park in recent weeks. “The homeless population,” he said, “is not that different than it has always been. It’s fine.” Karen, who declined to give her last name, has been living in the neighborhood since the 1980s, and remembers when the park was a veritable homeless encampment known as “Tent City.” That’s before a “police riot” in August 1988 cleared it of many of its occupants. The homeless population since that highpoint, she said, has been fluctuating, but she is “seeing far less now.” “It shrinks and expands over the years but this is small,” she said, looking around her at the few who were there with chess pieces.
She quizzed the six cops for their opinion on the observation tower and learned its presence was for surveillance purposes and some. “They were trying to say that the community wants it, but they know it’s not the community,” she said of the police. She speculated that a meek mayor was throwing the N.Y.P.D. brass a bone and also wants the homeless shifted out of the high-profile East Village spot. “There are too many homeless people in the park,” she said a white cop told her, even going so far as to accuse them of dealing drugs. Meanwhile, she said, a minority cop speculated that the tower was permanent “until there is pushback in the media.” There was pushback, but from the community not the media, in the form of a petition and a “campout” protest planned for this weekend, which is still on. After slightly less than a week in the park, the tower was removed on Tues., July 28. Due largely to drug addition and
mental illness, “Diego” has been homeless since 1998. He was filling his shopping cart as the commotion around the chess tables continued. Would the tower drive the homeless out? “No,” he said, adamantly. “We are not doing nothing anyway. A lot of people bring us food.” He called the police tower “funny.” “It’s senseless to put a gun turret in the middle of trees,” he said. “Who can you look at?” While the homeless were having their fun, with one hiding a can of Rolling Rock brew behind his duffle bag as he B.S.’d cops, a veteran of the United States homeless crisis was sitting quietly hunched over another table, two luggage bags by his side. Tyree Isabel, a retired military veteran, was almost inaudible as he described a life spent almost entirely on the streets or in the shelter system since leaving the Armed Forces in the early 1970s. He hails from Kansas and said that in one month — with the help of a Union Pacific Railroad pension bequeathed to him from his father — he was hoping to return to his home state and spend the rest of his days renting a single room there. He didn’t seem to mind the sun as he smoked his hand-rolled cigarettes and sipped his hot coffee, one hand curled up into a fist on the chess table and looking severely disfigured from a nightmarish skin disease. All of his family is dead, including his mother and sole sibling, his sister, who he lived with in the 1960s when he went to school in Jamaica, Queens. He didn’t seem too sure why he came to New York City of all places, having left a state hospital in Indianapolis one month earlier, arriving here by Amtrak, but he was sure he would be leaving. Not a regular at the park, he was not sure where he would be staying that night. “On the streets,” he said, “or in the shelter.”
More than 800 lost electricity in the Village BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
power outage disrupted electrical service to about 839 customers in the Village on Thursday evening. The outage began around 6:30 p.m. and the affected blocks were between Seventh Ave. South and W. Fourth St., including TheVillager.com
along Bleecker, Jones, Morton, Leroy and Cornelia Sts. According to Joy Faber, a Con Edison spokesperson, as of 1 p.m. the following day, most of the customers’ power had been restored, with the exception of 113 customers along Bleecker St. between Jones and Cornelia Sts. It was estimated the remaining customers would have
power fully restored by early that evening. As for what sparked the outage, Faber said, “The exact cause is still under review. However, problems can develop with electrical equipment during intense heat periods.” Nitia Sin, a server at the Cornelia St. Cafe, said they did lose power Wednesday night, but only partially.
“We did get some outages,” she said. “We tried to adapt as best we could. I saw some restaurants closing left and right. We had barely enough electricity to cook and for lighting. Some track lights were out. The lights in the bathrooms were out. Business was slower and we had to use a more abbreviated menu with things that we cooked.” August 6, 2015
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August 6, 2015
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
he kickoff for Terri Cude’s district leader campaign brought about 50 backers to Panchito’s Mexican restaurant on MacDougal St. on July 27, in what Cude and her allies hailed as an impressively strong and broad show of community support. Cude is running in the 66th Assembly District, Part B, which extends from the South Village down to Battery Park City, versus incumbent Jean Grillo. Cude’s running mate is Dennis Gault, who is challenging another incumbent, John Scott, for Part B male district leader. District leader, which is unsalaried, is the lowest-level party position, with the main duty of turning voters out to the polls at election time. The Friends of Terri Cude event attendees each paid from $75 up to $250 to fund a campaign for “new and dynamic energy and representation in the district.” Jenifer Rajkumar and Paul Newell, the district leaders from the neighboring 65th Assembly District, Part C, were on the host committee. There was grassroots support from the area’s various political clubs, including Jeanne Wilcke, president of Downtown Independent Democrats; Bradford Sussman, president of Village Reform Democratic Club, and members of Village Independent Democrats. There were even some prominent local Republicans in the house, including G.O.P. District Leader Janet Hayes along with Connie Masullo of 505 LaGuardia Place. Also cheering on the Cude campaign were members of the Elizabeth St. Garden, LaGuardia Corner Garden, Friends of LaGuardia Place, BAMRA (Bleecker Area Merchants’ and Residents’ Association), Noho Neighborhood Association, Community Action Alliance on N.Y.U. 2031 (CAAN2031) — including Cude’s co-chairperson on that group, Marty Tessler — Sophie Gerson Healthy Youth and many neighbors from both nearby and throughout the district. In her remarks, Cude noted she has “a big mouth” and is not afraid to use it to speak up for her community. “There’s a history of that,” said former Councilmember Alan Gerson. He noted that the Village has a proud tradition of activist district leaders with big mouths, notably Ed Koch, who led fights against the powers that be, such as to get cars and buses out of Washington Square Park. He added that his late mother, Sophie Gerson, would be “watching” to make sure Cude and Gault take good care of the Village. “Sophie would have approved that you use your voice to help the Village,” he said of his late mom, who was a leading member of the community school board.
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
ANDREW GOOS CHRIS ORTIZ
Cude vows to hold pols’ toes to fire
Terri Cude, left, and Dennis Gault at Cude’s recent fundraiser for her district leader campaign.
Cude assured the guests that all parts of the district would get “TLC,” which, in addition to meaning “tender loving care,” also happens to be her initials. At another point, speaking to The Villager, she offered as her motto, “A day without a backhoe — make that an N.Y.U. backhoe — is a good day in the Village.” The community recently suffered a crushing defeat when the state’s highest court approved the university’s massive four-building South Village development plan. But Cude said the fight isn’t over. “The developers find loopholes to build stuff. We’ve got to find loopholes to delay it or make it more appropriate for the Village,” she said of the nearly 2-million-square-foot N.Y.U. project. Cude is a business consultant who lives on Bleecker St. Gault is a teacher for autistic students and a union leader at P.S. 19, the Asher Levy School, at First Ave. and E. 11th St., who lives in Battery Park City. The running mates said that with Gault — a longtime Executive Committee member of Community Board 1 — in the lower half of the district, and Cude — first vice chairperson of C.B. 2, in addition to a board member and
volunteer for many community groups — in the upper half, the entire district would be well covered if they win. The district leader Part B also needs some “northern exposure,” she added, since both Grillo and Scott live in Lower Manhattan. “I’m trying to balance this out and get some representation north of Canal St.,” she said. “And I work hard,” she added, referring to local free events that she has led educating people on identity theft, as well as providing document shredding, children’s ID’s and kids’ bicycling classes. It could well be a close race, Cude predicted. “This is going to be a such a low-turnout election,” she said. “This could turn on very few votes. It’s an off-year election.” Asked why he is running for district leader, Gault said, “The governor has been a great motivation because he’s underfunding our schools.” Cude assured that she doesn’t have her eye on higher office. “This isn’t a stepping stone. This is the goal,” she stated of district leader. “I never had political ambitions. I’m doing this because we need someone to hold our elected officials’ toes to the fire.” TheVillager.com
Study: 28 percent of E.V. rentals are on Airbnb BY YANNIC RACK
he “home-sharing” service Airbnb was under fire once again this week, after affordable housing advocates released a report that they say details the extent of the company’s staggering number of often-illegal rentals in New York City. The study, published by New York Communities for Change and Real Affordability for All, found that more than 20 percent of the apartments in some of the city’s least affordable neighborhoods are offered for shortand long-term stays through the site. The East Village topped the list, with a whopping 28 percent of its units available on Airbnb, according to the study. Also in the top 10 were the West Village, Lower East Side and Greenwich Village, with roughly 23, 20 and 18 percent of apartments, respectively. By analyzing census data as well as listings on the site itself, the survey also found that nearly 60 percent of the offers were categorized as entire homes or apartments, which would make them illegal. It also claimed that the site has taken over about 10 percent of the city’s available housing stock. “This report confirms what we have known for a long time,” said City Councilmember Corey Johnson, whose district includes the Village.
“Illegal hotel rooms are eroding our affordable housing stock. By overloading the market with expensive shortterm rentals, they are reducing the supply of housing and driving rents up.” Last October, a report by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman found that nearly three-quarters of rental units listed on Airbnb violated state or local laws. The state Multiple Dwelling Law, which is cited most often in these cases, prohibits rentals of less than 30 days within dedicated residential buildings. The exception is where someone rents out a room while still occupying the home or apartment at the same time, with all parts of the dwelling made available to the paying guest. “This area is very thick with Airbnb, the 10012 zip code, which they’re identifying as Soho but which is also Little Italy,” said Georgette Fleischer, who has lived at 19 Cleveland Place, a 16-unit building off Petrosino Square, for 20 years. “It’s a real problem. It’s kind of come to a breaking point here in New York,” she said, adding that the number of people living in her neighborhood who are not legal residents is increasing steadily. The Villager last year reported on the illegal deregulation that residents said was going on at Fleischer’s
rent-stabilized building, paving the way for illegal hotels. According to Fleischer, two of the building’s tenants had been periodically — and professionally — renting out their units while living elsewhere, charging more than double the market rate for the apartments. The visitors often left bags of trash in the hallways and in front of the building and even broke the front-door lock. “It was harrowing,” she said, adding that she believes illegal short-term rentals are still going on in at least one of the building’s units. “Airbnb is swallowing up entire apartments and charging tourists more than 300 percent of the average rent in areas of my Senate district, including the East Village, the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village,” state Senator Brad Hoylman said in response to the latest report. “We need to put New York City families first and make sure they have access to affordable housing,” he said. Hoylman, as well as Johnson and a host of other politicians, is part of the Share Better campaign to fight the spread of illegal hotels in the city. Airbnb maintains that most of its users utilize the site to earn some extra cash while they’re out of town. But the study’s authors say that the average
rental was available for 247 days a year, and actually rented 109 nights a year. Airbnb did not respond to a request for comment, but a spokesperson quoted by the New York Daily News dismissed the report as “lies, fuzzy math and faulty stats.” “The notion that 1 in 4 apartments in the East Village is rented via Airbnb is not just ludicrous, it is also not supported by a single piece of data,” a spokesperson told the News. Heather, a 37-year-old Arizona resident, is one of the many out-of-towners who have recently used the service to visit New York. “I’m a fan of Airbnb because hotel rates are often prohibitive for a cost-mindful traveler,” she said. During a five-day stay in June, Heather rented a private room in an East Village apartment, near Houston St. and Avenue C. “It’s a great way [for the host] to earn extra income. If the only way you can afford anything in New York is to sublet, then I see no issue with that,” she said, adding that her host was living in the apartment during her entire visit. She also said she wouldn’t stay in an apartment that was illegally offered through Airbnb. “I’m not a proponent of anyone breaking the law,” she said.
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August 6, 2015
Gottlieb Gansevoort plan ‘offensive,’ critics cry GANSEVOORT continued from p. 1
August 6, 2015
PHOTO BY YANNIC RACK
partnering on the project with Aurora Capital Associates, is facing opposition from residents and preservationists who want the iconic Meat Market buildings left intact. The Real Deal first reported on the plans in June, writing that the nine buildings, stretching from 46 to 74 Gansevoort St. — the whole south side of the street, between Greenwich and Washington Sts. — were to be renovated and converted into three main lots comprising almost 111,000 square feet of commercial space. Martin McLaughlin, a spokesperson for Gottlieb, which is one of the largest owners of property in the West Village, confirmed the redevelopment plans on Tuesday. According to McLaughlin, the proposal calls for the demolition of Nos. 50 and 70-74 Gansevoort St., with a new eight-story building replacing Nos. 70-74, at the western end of the block, as well as three- and four-story additions to the row of two-story buildings at 60-68 Gansevoort St. But it is unclear whether the Landmarks Preservation Commission would allow any changes to the buildings, since all of them are located within the Gansevoort Market Historic District, which was designated in 2003. “This new proposal is really a bridge too far,” said Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. While there have been numerous changes and new developments allowed in the district since its designation, Berman and other local activists think that this would be far and away the most dramatic. “It would seem to almost obviate the notion of this being in a historic district at all,” he said. Since the buildings on Gansevoort St. are not in “pristine condition,” Berman fears that L.P.C. might greenlight the plans, arguing that the buildings’ use has evolved over time and that continued evolution is acceptable. “Our fear is that they will actually take this proposal seriously and approve it, or just a slightly modified version, like they did in the case of the Pastis building,” he added. He was referring to the glass structure that is being added atop 9-19 Ninth Ave., the building that once housed Keith McNally’s popular French bistro, which is set to reopen on Gansevoort St. next year. McLaughlin said they have not decided on a use for the buildings yet, and he remained vague when pressed about the future character of the street. “There a number of permitted
Viewed from atop the High Line, the south side of Gansevoort St. between Greenwich and Washington Sts., which is owned by the Gottlieb company. An eight-story tower is planned at the west-end corner, in the foreground. Rooftop additions would be added to the buildings midblock, though not above the Gansevoort Market food hall. At the far eastern end of the block, Gottlieb plans to demolish 50 Gansevoort St., though has not made public its ideas for that site yet.
uses we can use on that site. We can use it as a gallery space and a number of other permitted uses,” he said. He added that residential and other types of commercial use, such as office space, could all be in the mix. The D.O.B. application, filed in June, is for the renovation work, change of use — from commercial to business — and the combining of 60-74 Gansevoort St. This would create the three lots on the site: one comprising Nos. 46-50 on the block’s western end and one spanning Nos. 60-74 on its eastern end, with the existing Gansevoort Market food hall in the middle. The area’s current zoning allows a range of options, such as offices and hotels, as well as light manufacturing — a zoning use that remains from when meatpackers worked in the buildings. Current zoning would not, however, allow for any residential use. The only residential units now allowed in the Meatpacking District are those that were previously grandfathered in when the city’s zoning was put into place decades ago. A restrictive declaration is also in place on this street, which means that the buildings can only be used for certain kinds of retail and office spaces, according to Berman. Overturning the restrictive declaration, which some residents believe is being planned, would require a lengthy review process by the City Council and the City Planning Commission. Although no formal application has been filed with L.P.C. yet, representatives for Gottlieb have been in talks with the commission, and they seem certain that construction will begin later this year. McLaughlin said they plan to start work on the project within the next six months. Danny Rooney, who works for
Goldcrest, a post-production company located around the corner at 799 Washington St., said the company received a letter last month notifying them of the coming construction on Gansevoort St. And according to Thomas Hassler, who works for the Rapha Cycle Club on Gansevoort St., workers arrived a few weeks ago to drill for bedrock samples on the sidewalk in front of the buildings. “I rolled up to the store one morning and there were these massive drilling derricks. At 8 in the morning, they just started hammering pipes into the ground,” he said, adding that the work went on for two weeks. “It was a pain in the ass because you’d be walking down the street and they’d have half the sidewalk blocked with these machines,” he said. “There was slew and sludge all over the street, coming out of the ground.” Rapha, at 46 Gansevoort St., is one of the last businesses still operating inside the row of buildings that Gottlieb wants to develop. Hassler said their two-year lease is up at the end of this year and that he didn’t know what the owner planned to do with the space once they were gone. Apart from a temporary pop-up, the only other recent tenant in the buildings comprising the future western lot was a clothing store that occupied the corner, at 809 Washington St., for three and a half years. Now, the windows there are covered up and a notice is affixed on the door, announcing a re-launch in 2016. “It’s strange because a lot of the stores down here have just been intentionally vacant,” said Hassler, adding that the redevelopment plans had probably been drawn up a while ago. “I think they did that knowing that they were going to renovate,” he said. In a follow-up phone interview, Mc-
Laughlin, the Gottlieb spokesperson, said that no plans have been made for the rest of the buildings on the street. Although he confirmed that 50 Gansevoort St. is slated for demolition, it was not immediately clear what would replace the building, which currently still houses The Griffin, a cocktail lounge. Also on the block’s eastern end is Macelleria, an Italian steakhouse, at 48 Gansevoort St. The owners there were not available to respond to rumors that the restaurant was moving to a different location. But the manager, Katie Martinez, on Tuesday said that they have signed a lease and obtained a liquor license for a different space within the Meatpacking District. “We’re continuing our relationship with our current landlord,” she said. In addition to the uncertainty of the block’s uses in the future, residents are worried enough about the prospect of seeing an eight-story building rise up on the street. “We’re concerned. A lot of it was about the low-scale buildings,” said Elaine Young, referring to the designation of the Gansevoort Historic District. Young lives just south of the Meat Market and is a member of Community Board 2. The development would raise the skyline to almost four times its current height. The eight-story “tower” replacing 70-74 Gansevoort St. would be 111 feet high, according to the D.O.B. filing; currently, the highest buildings on the street reach a mere 27 feet. “It’s dramatically out of scale,” Young stated. “We’re used to air and light and we’ve spent a lot of energy trying to get the area landmarked. And now these guys come along and just try to smash it to bits. This isn’t right, it’s offensive.” “It’s not just changing one building, it’s going to radically alter the streetscape,” added Clora Kelly, who lives on W. 11th St. and is part of the Save Gansevoort group that is campaigning against the proposal. The group set up a Web site this week and has also started an online petition. Zack Winestine, who is the co-chairperson of the Greenwich Village Community Task Force and lives on Horatio St., is also part of the effort. He said that Gottlieb representatives originally planned to meet with residents to lay out their plans last month, but then canceled with only two hours’ notice. The meeting hasn’t been rescheduled yet, but Winestine expects it to take place some time in August. “There’s going to be widespread opposition, because this is a cherished street,” Kelly said. “We’re getting ready.” TheVillager.com
Famed photog’s dog dies after pit bull attack
PHOTO BY GODLIS
getting enough air. Bayley said pugs normally have trouble breathing, and that the attack and surgery apparently caused the dog’s soft-tissue airways to swell up. The vet told her they were going to perform an emergency tracheotomy, but before it could be done, Sidney died. Bayley was on her way in a cab to check on Sidney on Sunday afternoon when she found out the sad news. The bill came to $6,000, but she said she would have gladly paid $20,000 if it could have saved her beloved canine companion. She said that, even before the attack, she had been preparing for Sidney to go at some point, though pugs can live up to age 20. “I had her since she was eight weeks old. Yeah, that’s my whole life,” she said, her voice cracking with emotion as she spoke. “That’s the most important thing for me, and I don’t know what I’m going to do. I was just really bonded with my dog. It’s just really, really hard for me. I only wish I got to
see her one more time. I saw her when she was dead.” Bayley filed a report at the Ninth Precinct where a woman logged it in as a “dog bite.” Last year, as reported by The Villager, to raise funds for the Washington Square Park dog run, Bayley allowed her classic Ramones photo from their 1976 debut album to be used as the cover image for a calendar for the dog run. However, for the calendar cover, the Ramones’ heads were replaced with the heads of four pugs from the run. Bayley stressed that she isn’t out to bash crusties, travelers or the homeless. She said that after Saturday morning’s attack, the crusty travelers vanished from in front of her building. On Monday, she scoured the East Village looking for the man and his dog, and couldn’t find any crusties anywhere. She figured that maybe after the attack on Sidney, plus a recent negative SIDNEY continued on p. 9
Roberta Bayley with Sidney, her pug, in 2013 in a photo for an article in The Villager about the Washington Square Park dog run calendar. She allowed her classic photo of the Ramones, behind her, to be used for the calendar’s cover, except with the band members’ heads replaced with the heads of four pugs from the run. SIDNEY continued from p. 1
PHOTO BY GODLIS
known as “travelers,” if they migrate about the country — regularly hang out at the spot, since it’s right next to a $1 pizza joint. Bayley thought about snapping a picture with her cell phone, but then quickly dropped the idea. “It was kind of cute,” she said. “I started to reach for my phone. I know I’m a professional photographer, but I can hardly use my iPhone.” Within that split second, the pit bull — an unneutered brown giant — lunged off the couch. It went straight for Sidney’s throat and, with its iron jaws, clamped down mercilessly. As Bayley screamed her head off for help, five or six men jumped in and, along with Bayley, tried to free Sidney from the monster’s grip. “People were bashing the dog on his head with a stick,” she said. “Someone screamed to me, ‘Grab the balls!’ and I squeezed that dog’s balls as hard as I could. He didn’t let go. I tried to pick up his legs, which I was told you’re supposed to do. “I was just screaming and screaming. Godlis heard me screaming — he couldn’t see what was going on,” she said, referring to her neighbor, another of the East Village’s iconic punk rock photographers. “I was hysterical,” she said. “Every piece of my strength was trying to
help her.” Sidney only weighed 20 pounds, the pit bull about 100. “If all those guys hadn’t been there,” she said, “that dog would have been ripped to shreds.” After they had finally pulled the ferocious pit off of Sidney, the pug was left with a huge flap of skin hanging gruesomely from her ravaged neck. A man volunteered to drive Bayley and the wounded pooch up to the vet, Blue Pearl, at W. 15th St. and Fifth Ave.; but he couldn’t go crosstown due to the Summer Streets program, which had closed Fourth and Lafayette Aves. to traffic, so cyclists and pedestrians could enjoy car-free streets. “The guy was screaming, ‘It’s an emergency! The dog’s dying!’ ” she said. Bayley had to carry Sidney from Third to Fifth Ave. to the vet, where they told her she had to take the dog up to their branch at W. 55th St. for surgery. She spoke to The Villager on the phone on Tuesday. Sidney, who was 14, lasted the night after the attack, but unfortunately did not pull through. The vets said they were just going to cut off the hunk of hanging skin and then stitch her back up. Bayley noted that pugs have loose skin, so Sidney likely could have survived that. The dog was intubated and put in an oxygen tent, but still had problems
Roberta Bayley with the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious, during the sound check before the Pistols’ Dallas show, when she was the photographer for Punk magazine. Her pug Sidney was actually named after Sidney Falco, Tony Curtis’s character in “Sweet Smell of Success.” But “depending on who asked,” she would sometimes say it was for Sid Vicious. August 6, 2015
POLICE BLOTTER Groped in her bed Police on Monday arrested a Staten Island man who, they said, had entered a Village building early the previous Thursday morning and grabbed a woman as she slept. Police said that on July 30 at 5:10 a.m., the suspect entered a residential building in the vicinity of Hudson and W. 10 Sts., going in through the front door. Once inside, he went to the rear of the building, where he reportedly scaled the fire escape and entered a second-floor apartment. He then grabbed the buttocks of a 43-year-old woman as she was sleeping. According to police, the victim awoke and the suspect fled the location. Jeffrey Joseph, 35, was charged with burglary and sex abuse.
No lights led police Police stopped a gray 1992 Lexus sedan as it operated without headlights near the intersection of Little W. 12th St. and 10th Ave. on Thurs., July 30, about 2:40 a.m. The driver had neither license nor proof of ownership, according to a police report. A police officer subsequently discovered that Trevor Pinder, 25, had a suspended license and some alleged cocaine in his possession. Pinder was taken to the Sixth Precinct stationhouse where a strip search yielded more, including cocaine, marijuana and mysterious “leafy brown papers.” He faces a felony charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Pier perp A man, 26, reportedly offered sex before robbing a woman, 43, at the Christopher St. Pier on Fri., July 31. The woman handed over her purse after Elias Navarez allegedly displayed
a knife at 5:50 a.m. Police caught up with him later that morning and found the purse and its contents — $60 cash and an ID — in his possession, according to a police report. The cops would search his person after arresting Navarez for felony robbery. They said that marijuana and a pipe were found on his person. A strip search of his person at the NYPD’s Sixth Precinct station house did not yield anything further, the report states.
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Swipe and spend The money went quickly for a man standing in the Sheridan Square traffic triangle at Grove and W. Fourth Sts. and Seventh Ave. South on Tues., July 28. Police said that the 47-year-old man had $35 in his hand just after 2 a.m. when Ajion Carlisle, 20, swiftly grabbed the cash and fled on foot. But he didn’t make it far before he was arrested for felony grand larceny. However, police said the victim only recovered $15 of the loot.
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Theft at VillageCare Police said that a 42-year-old woman snatched $1,015 in cash from an 84-year-old disabled woman’s bag at about 1:30 p.m. on Thurs., July 30, as the victim was receiving physical therapy at the VillageCare Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, at 214 W. Houston St. A search of the younger woman reportedly revealed the cash, plus a stolen $40 Macy’s gift card inside her bra. Arlene Yeboah was arrested and charged with felony grand larceny. A police report did not state whether she worked at the location.
Zach Williams and Lincoln Anderson
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PHOTO BY ALAN BAILLE
Looking a bit like Obi Wan Kenobi, Sidney in the Washington Square Park dog run.
Photog’s pug dies after attack SIDNEY continued from p. 7
New York Post article about travelers camping and crapping behind Cooper Union on Taras Shevchenko Place (“It’s Pooper Union: Vagrant camp at E. Village college”), they had all fled town. But on Tuesday she finally found them back in front of her building — without any dogs this time, though with a different couch. She said they told her that the man whose pit bull savaged Sidney isn’t a traveler. Bayley said she could believe that since the man had pale skin — not tan and weathered like a true traveler — didn’t have piercings, and his clothes, while black, didn’t have the distinctive stitching of the travelers. (After the attack, she did research about crusty travelers on East Village photographer Steven Hirsch’s Crustypunks blog and learned about these characteristics.) They told her the man’s name was something like “Naytoss,” which, they said, is actually “his name backwards.” When she asked them to repeat his name, “they got paranoid.” “They said they already took his dog away,” Bayley said, though it wasn’t clear if other crusties now have the animal, or if the police took it away. Bayley said she just feels Naytoss is an idiot, first of all, because he should have had the dog securely tied to him when he fell asleep on the couch. “He probably wasn’t a crusty kid,” she said. “He was probably just a f---d-up kid, wearing black. He was probably drunk and just saw a nice couch and went to sleep, but he should have tied the dog to him. “I don’t want to prosecute the guy,” she said, “I want to kill the guy.” She said she is friendly with some of the crusties who camp out in front of her place and sometimes gives a couple of them $5. Some of them were TheVillager.com
sympathetic to her when she spoke to them Tuesday, but she said one woman was “nasty and snotty,” feeling Bayley should have gotten over it by now. Bayley said, so far, she hasn’t shared the tragic story on social media. In fact, The Villager only found out about it by chance, because the paper’s photographer Tequila Minsky happened to be doing a shoot of Godlis last weekend when he received a call about it from Bayley. She did send out a group e-mail to friends, including Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie fame. “Debbie e-mailed me back and said she knows people who had the same thing happen,” she said. “Debbie has Chins, little Chinese dogs.” Bayley reiterated that she doesn’t want to demonize the crusty travelers — that the Post is already doing that more than enough — but that they have to take responsibility for their dogs, cats and rats, etc. More to the point, she said, she now simply feels pit bulls are too dangerous to have as pets. “There are good pit bulls,” she said. “But I think they’re too unpredictable. A lot of them are rescues, and you don’t know what they went through. Some of them were bred to fight. If their ears are cropped, they were fighting dogs. You can never breed out of them what was bred into them. Everybody tries to make excuses for pit bulls. And there are good pit bulls. But if they’re not trained properly, they’re vicious — and that’s what this dog was, I’m sorry. Unless you know the owner and the dog, it’s best to get out of the way.” At first, Bayley thought of just putting a brief mention of Sidney’s death in The Villager, but then decided an article would help get the message out. “I’m conflicted by the whole subject,” she said, “but if an article could prevent just one dog’s death, that would be enough for me.”
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Water-pipe torture killing W. 10th St. business BY TINA BENITEZ-EVES
August 6, 2015
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
he beginning of construction was the end for Amy Miceli’s business. As soon as the construction started along W. 10th St., where Miceli and her husband ran the coffee / breakfast nook Ciao for Now for seven years, business slowly started to dry up. Ciao for Now, at 107 W. 10th St., served up freshly made spinach-and-feta biscuits, peanut butter and jelly bars, quiches, frittata, polenta-lemon muffins and other small, delectable breakfast and light lunch treats. But more than a year of work along W. 10th St. between Greenwich and Sixth Aves. started heavily impacting nearly a dozen businesses. There were closures due to random water shutdowns and phone-line cutoffs — which prevented stores from accepting credit cards or using their point-of-sales systems. Ciao for Now finally was forced shut its doors on June 25. “It started right away for us and got bad,” said Miceli, who first started closing on Sundays, then for entire weekends last summer, to offset slowed business around the construction, which had just started at the time. “We tried everything we could do,” she said. “We really wanted it to work. The more I talk about it, I just get really upset. We had such a great business over there, and people were really dedicated to what we did.” Last March, work started on the Department of Design and Construction’s project “MED 617” to upgrade existing water mains, some of which are more than a century old, throughout the city, including along W. 10th St. from West St. all the way to Fifth Ave. Although the street work was reportedly scheduled to end within a year, it continued on through this spring and early summer along W. 10th St. between Sixth and Greenwich Aves., forcing some businesses to close during peak business hours because of water shutdowns and other disruptions associated with the project. The owners simply could not figure out how to keep their cafe in business around the construction. Employees still needed to get paid, and the Micelis, who brought in freshly made foods, were losing large amounts daily. “We tried every angle,” she said. “My husband and I are very hard-working people. We made it through the Con Ed explosion in 2010 and Hurricane Sandy. It almost did us in, but after seven years of making up for years of things that you don’t get any money back for, it’s awful.” The Con Ed explosion gutted the
A parked tractor and stacked pipes are still blocking a lane of the street on W. 10th St. between Greenwich and Sixth Aves., and are still negatively impacting businesses along the street.
former Village Paper and Party Store on the corner of Greenwich Ave. and W. 10th St. Although the street work has currently shifted over to Seventh Ave. South and W. 10th St. and between Fifth and Sixth Aves., the installation of a catch basin at W. 10th St. and Greenwich Ave. is still pending, according to a D.D.C. representative. To continue this work, the city has left the construction site between Greenwich and Sixth Aves. intact, including cones lining the downtown side of the street and a parked tractor near the corner of Sixth Ave. and W. 10th St. — all of which the remaining merchants and restaurateurs believe has brought down their business even more. The leftover construction staging area is preventing cars from parking and, according to businesses owners, is a hindrance to general foot traffic along the quaint West Village street, where businesses stretch from corner to corner. These include Southeast Asian restaurant Cafe Asean, the bar Happiest Hour, newcomer Gingersnap’s Organic — a raw vegan cafe — a barbershop and more. A D.D.C. spokesperson told The Villager that the project, which also includes work on roadway surfaces, curbs and — in some locations — sidewalks, in addition to installing new distribution water mains, now is expected to be completed by spring 2016. (Con Ed is also using the excavation work to upgrade gas lines along the project sites.) “N.Y.C. Department of Design and Construction is working closely with local businesses and community members in order to be good neigh-
bors in those communities experiencing our construction activities,” said Shavone Williams. “We are currently working to finish our water main project in a safe and timely manner… . Efforts will result in new water infrastructure for the neighborhood. We will replace a 100-yearold water main, in order to provide the community with better and more efficient water services.” Richard Ahn, owner of Elite Shoe Repair, at 105 W. 10th St., doesn’t rely as heavily on water as some of his neighboring businesses, but said that he has still seen his receipts drop by 10 to 15 percent since construction started. Business really dropped this year when the street work became more sporadic, and merchants were randomly forced to close during peak operating hours, he noted. Like other businesses along W. 10th, Ahn has to ask suppliers to park around the corner and then walk supplies to his store due to the stacked pipes and parked tractor blocking the street. When clients want to pick up items, they have to park in front briefly and hurriedly grab their goods. Having operated on W. 10th St. for the past 18 years, Ahn said he has never experienced such a big work disruption — not even following Hurricane Sandy in 2012. “This year was worse,” Ahn said. “Do you know how many times they have been digging and covering it back up? I don’t know why they said construction would last one year.” For a time, the city did not even inform the businesses beforehand about upcoming water shutoffs, Ahn added, but they eventually started
giving some advance notice. However, Miceli said often the notices only came the evening before, not giving the stores and eateries enough time to prepare. Gingersnap’s Organic opened this February at 113 W. 10th St., in the former Bees Knees coffee shop space. It hasn’t been around long enough to feel the work’s full negative impact, unlike neighboring businesses, yet has experienced some water disruptions. “We have had our water shut off a couple of times,” said manager Anna Lownes. She added that when the city didn’t inform them one day about an upcoming water shutoff, they couldn’t prepare food and beverages or even clean dishes. “We haven’t been here long enough to notice any crazy change or if it’s really affected us yet,” she said. “It seems like other people on the block have had serious issues.” As for the Micelis, they’re now focusing on Ciao for Now’s original East Village restaurant at 523 E. 12th St., between Avenues A and B, which has been operating for more than 13 years. The couple want to expand the restaurant’s menu and wine list, but have no plans to reopen a second location again. “I don’t think I can do this again,” she said. “Getting through Hurricane Sandy and the Con Ed explosion were the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with in my life. We were dealing with insurance companies and bureaucratic crap and then coming out the other end with nothing. I’m just getting too old for this. I have three young children. We can’t make it through another hard time.” TheVillager.com
With tree memorial, keeping son’s memory alive BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC
PHOTO BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC
tree grows as a memorial in Union Square, near E. 17 St. and Broadway. The well-tended tree and blooming bed commemorates Kyle Larson, a 20-year-old New York University student who was rushing to turn in a term paper when he was fatally hit by a delivery truck in November 2012. For his parents, Nancy and Robert Larson, making the journey every weekend from their home in Manhasset, Long Island, to the city to take care of the tree and the memorial has become a way to keep their son’s memory alive. “We come in on Sunday mornings because it gives us a chance just to remember him for a few quiet moments,” Nancy Larson said on Sun., Aug. 2, seated with her husband at the new pedestrian plaza near where the accident happened. “He’s always in our thoughts — there isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t think of him countless times.” The Larsons chose this particular tree, in front of McDonald’s and the former Heartland Brewery, because a few days after the accident, the NY Longboard Association held an event to honor Kyle, an avid skateboarder, who had been riding his longboard the day of the crash. The association designated that tree because it had been the closest to where the incident occurred. The Larsons had found out about the memorial through Facebook. “We almost weren’t going to come,” Nancy recalled. “It was really cold that day. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving and we came in. We were blown away. So many people showed up — there were at least 100 people. None of them knew him — they just knew that he was a skateboarder that had been involved in an accident.” People were chalking messages — very beautiful thoughts — and the area around the tree was lit with candles, she said. The group also gave the Larsons a skateboard without wheels that they had painted with their son’s name. They keep it in their dining room because it is so special, Nancy said. After that, the Larsons decided to make that tree the spot where they could come and continue to honor their son, as well as the group that showed so much kindness, she explained. At the foot of the tree is a photo of Kyle, sitting cross-legged in front of N.Y.U.’s Institute of French Studies. To the left of the picture is his full name — Kyle Andrew Larson — and underneath it a quote that the Larsons found in his journal: “To the world you may be one person but to one person you
Robert and Nancy Larson with the memorial to their son, Kyle, on Union Square West.
may be the world.” “N.Y.U. was his only choice. He didn’t want anything but N.Y.U.,” said his mother. “He just loved the city. He loved this whole area, so that’s a blessing. I just know that he’s at peace here.” The couple described their son as resilient and compassionate, always willing to reach out to others dealing with problems. “He helped other people,” his mother said. In addition to skateboarding, Kyle loved video games, scuba diving, skiing and music. “He was extremely talented, he played four instruments,” Nancy said. A drum major for his high school marching band, Kyle played clarinet, saxophone and guitar. He also sang. “Sophomore year of high school he discovered he had a voice,” she said. “And he was surprised and he was so nervous to sing a cappella.” Kyle wasn’t quite sure what he would major in at N.Y.U., but he had a strong interest in sociology and philosophy. “Everything reminds us of him,” his mother said. “Every Sunday morning, we’re here. Bob and I are able to just have a few moments where we’re completely in touch with each other and then with Kyle.” His father works in commercial real estate in Midtown and often comes down during the week to check on the tree bed, clean and water it. “Somebody said to me the other day, ‘It was like a little oasis here in the park because of the flowers,’ ” he said. Nancy, a nurse practitioner, said, “In the beginning it was just such a mess. The earth is hard as a rock, so we would work it.” They added in topsoil and fertilizer
to make it easier for flowers and plants to grow, she explained. Ivy has been planted, as well as whatever flowers Nancy happens to find at their neighborhood Whole Foods Market. They plan to plant mums in September, pansies in early spring and a small spruce at Christmas. They also put out candy canes
during Christmas for children who walk by with their parents. Nancy said they wanted to involve the different seasons and holidays, in the hope that when someone passes by, they see Kyle’s photo but also the flowers and “it would bring a smile to their day as they passed.” “So many people have stopped,” she said. “So many people in the area who were there or who pass it every day, stop and wish us well. They’ll say to us, ‘We say hi to Kyle every day when we walk by.’ ” “It makes us feel good,” she added. “Because as a parent the only thing that’s worse than not being able to have him in our lives is to think he’s forgotten. I don’t want that to happen.” The Larsons have gotten to know many people who work in the Union Square area, including some of the vendors, as well as managers and workers from nearby stores and restaurants. The Larsons said if the tree at some point needs to be replaced, they would like to put a permanent marker for Kyle there. “It’s about the memory — just about the memory,” said his mother. “He was way too young. He was way too young.”
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August 6, 2015
es and Amanda Anderson arrived in New York from Indiana this past Thursday night and headed straight to Times Square, as many tourists do. But as they gaped at the billboards and read the news zipping by in lights — “19-Year-Old Sentenced to 25 Years as a Sex Offender” — they stopped dead in their tracks. That 19-year-old is their son, Zach. “It took a minute to absorb — it was 1 a.m.,” Amanda told me. I met the Andersons for lunch in Chelsea on their second and final day in the city. They’d come to tape a talk show with the popular preacher, T.D. Jakes. “Nightline” had filmed them in their Elkhart home a few days earlier, and they’ve also been on CNN and in The New York Times, all because of a date their teenage son made earlier this year. Zach had gone on an app — Hot or Not? — and met a girl who lived just over the border in Michigan, who said she was 17. They met up and had sex. But when she didn’t get home on the dot, her worried mom called the cops, because her daughter has epilepsy. When she got home, the cops found out where she had been and also her true age: 14. Zach was arrested for rape. The judge at the trial knew all these facts. What’s more, the girl and her mom both came to testify on Zach’s behalf. “I don’t want him to be a sex offender because he really is not,” the girl’s mom declared. The judge ignored them and sentenced Zach to 90 days in prison — followed by 25 years on the Sex Offender Registry. “He just turned around and looked at me like, ‘Help,’ ” said Les, choking up as we sat in a Seventh Ave. deli. The town rallied around the family. “We’re praying for your son every morning,” one business associate told Les. A mom told Amanda, “All the parents are talking about is, ‘This could happen to any of us!’ ”
The South Bend Tribune did an amazing write-up and Zach’s case became a cause célèbre. But you can be a cause célèbre and still have to live under Sex Offender Registry restrictions. That means that three weeks ago, when Zach got out of jail, he could not go home. As a sex offender, he cannot reside with anyone under 17, and that includes his younger brother. The Andersons broke into their savings and bought Zach a small house far from any school or playground (another registry requirement). Each night, he must be home by 8. The police can come at any time to do a search, and already have. What were they looking for? Movies. Not dirty ones — clean ones. Zach can’t have any G-rated movies like “Home Alone,” on the assumption that watching kids will trigger his urge to rape them. Zach also cannot have a smartphone. “We got him a flip phone and we had to bust the camera with a screwdriver to break it,” said his dad. Zach can’t have any access to the Internet, either, which means he has to change his college major: computer science. And he’s not allowed into a library, skate park or mall, because there are kids around. He couldn’t even accompany his parents to New York. Probation restrictions. His mom told me, “I asked Zach, ‘Did they ever teach you this in high school? Did they cover the Age of Consent laws?’ He said yes, which is why he asked the girl how old she was.” But there, as here, if a minor lies about her age, that doesn’t make her partner any less guilty. So here are the laws in New York, according to criminal-defense lawyer Ron Kuby: • Third-degree rape is defined as being 21 or older and having sex with someone under 17. • Second-degree rape: If you are 18 or older, and have sex with someone under 15, unless the defendant is less than four years older than the victim when the act occurred. • First-degree rape criminalizes any person who has sex with someone under 11, or someone 18 or older who has sex with someone under 13. This Wed., Aug. 5, Zach goes back to court to request a retrial. Me, I’d like to request a retrial of the laws that are creating “sex offenders” out of normal, horny young people. Skenazy is a keynote speaker and the author and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids” TheVillager.com
Doris Corrigan, 87; Go-to activist was Chelsea OBITUARY BY ALBERT AMATEAU
PHOTO BY DONATHAN SALKALN
rying desperately to find a phone number for a Chelsea activist to interview for an obituary, it suddenly occurred to the obituary writer, “Of course, Doris Corrigan will know.” But alas, it was Doris whose obituary I was writing. She was the person to go to in Chelsea for neighborhood advocacy, progressive causes and Reform Democratic Party organization over the past 40 years. She was there at the founding of the Chelsea Waterside Park Association. She was president of the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club, and fought to promote affordable housing and to defeat the plan for a football stadium on the West Side. It’s hard to accept that she is gone. Mae Doris Corrigan died July 23 in the Amsterdam Nursing Home where she had been a patient for several months. She was 87. Her health began to deteriorate in 2011 when she was hospitalized after a fall, said Laura Morrison, a community liaison for state Senator Brad Hoylman and an old friend of Doris’s. Morrison and Tom Schuler, a former Democratic district leader for Chelsea, would visit Doris in her W. 20th St. apartment, and take care of her grocery shopping and medica-
Doris Corrigan manning a petitioning table for getting local candidates on the 2010 ballot.
tion regimen. Together with Steven Skyles-Mulligan, current Democratic district leader for Chelsea, they made it possible for Doris to remain in her Chelsea apartment for as long as possible, and found her the nursing home on W. 112th St. where she spent her final months. Mae Doris Clark was raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and went to Wayne University in Detroit. She moved east and married Frank Corrigan, a journalist. Although they had been separated for a while, Doris became his full-time caregiver when he became seriously ill. He died in 1982. “There are Clarks in my family. I
used to tease Doris and say that we were related,” said Schuler. “I first met Doris on a June day in 1976 when she arrived at our West 200 Block Association fair,” recalled Pamela Wolff, of the Chelsea West 200 Block Association. “A tiny figure in a pink sunbonnet, she asked how she could help. I assigned her to the flea-market table, which she took over with typical zeal, and sold just about everything we had,” Wolff said. Wolff recalled that several years ago she had been sheltering a little orange cat left to her by a homeless man. Wolff asked Doris, whose old gray cat had just died, to foster the orange cat for a while. The fostering became permanent and the cat, Sunshine, remained Doris’s familiar until it died years later. “Doris had a trained cat named Sunshine, who I believe once scratched someone for not paying sufficient attention at a meeting in her apartment,” quipped Donathan Salkaln of the Chelsea Reform club and secretary of the Chelsea Waterside Park Association. Robert Trentlyon, former publisher of the Chelsea-Clinton News and founder of the waterside park association, said he couldn’t recall when he first met Doris. “She was just there, at meetings of the Chelsea Reform club, at the first meeting of the waterside park association in 1982,” he said. “She was always dependable and then indispensable. She came to the Chelsea-Clinton
News office on 24th St. in the late 1970s after she lost an advertising job somewhere. I gave her a clerical job at first and she soon learned how to lay out ads. She took care of the details in everything she did.” “She was famous for her short stature [just under 5 feet] and a short temper that went with it,” said Kathy Kinsella, former president of the Chelsea reform club. “She was impatient at times, yet a very thorough teacher. She was our go-to person who knew everything and got it all done. Fierce and forceful, kind and generous, Doris will always be with me. I am so thankful for all that she taught me and all that we shared,” Kinsella said. “Doris was Chelsea,” said Corey Johnson, the District 3 city councilmember. “She was involved in every community win and every battle over the last generation. Chelsea will miss her deeply, but we will never forget the impact she made on our lives.” “I knew and worked with Doris for over 30 years,” said Assemblymember Richard Gottfried. “In everything she did, whether service on Community Board 4, or as president of the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club, and later as Chelsea’s Democratic district leader and then Democratic State Committee member, Doris Corrigan was always forceful and energetic and fought for what she believed,” Gottfried said. A memorial for Doris Corrigan will be held Sun., Oct. 4, from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Hudson Guild, 443 W. 26th St.
Advocates to Gov: Don’t Bogart the medical pot BY PAUL DERIENZO
ast week the New York State Department of Health announced that five companies have been selected for licenses to grow and distribute marijuana in the state. New York now joins 23 states and Washington, D.C., that either allow medical marijuana or have legalized pot altogether. Despite the apparent victory for pro-pot reform groups, the licenses have attracted criticism. Marijuana activists say that the law is too narrow in scope and the selection process for marijuana suppliers lacked transparency. Under the state’s Compassionate Care Act, signed last year by Governor Andrew Cuomo, medical marijuana will be limited to the five licensees, who will set up four dispensary sites each for a total of 20 pot shops serving the state’s population of nearly 20 million. California’s law, the result of a voter referendum in 1995, uses a broader definition of caregiver and patient TheVillager.com
than New York. Almost any malady, including depression, can be used to justify the use of the drug, and unregulated dispensaries popped up all over the state. New York’s law is much stricter, requiring potential pot patients to be certified as having a “severe debilitating or life-threatening condition,” including cancer, H.I.V. or AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and “any other condition added by the commissioner.” Doctors who prescribe cannabis in New York also must take a four-hour course and be certified by the state. Dr. Howard Zucker, commissioner of the state’s Department of Health, called the licensing “a major milestone.” Cuomo had originally opposed medical marijuana in the state, but relented and signed a law that was designed to subject would-be suppliers to a “rigorous and comprehensive” review. Rules approved by the Health Department require a $10,000 application fee and a $200,000 registration fee. Despite the fees, 43 businesses ap-
plied to be one of the chosen five. Dennis Levy is president of the New York State Committee to Legalize Marijuana, a 20-year-old organization founded to organize black and Latino AIDS patients. Levy is critical of what he branded the “corrupt, politicized and racist” process used to select the marijuana providers. He charged that the Compassionate Care Act is freezing out longtime activists who know the patient community but don’t have big-time financial backing. Cuomo has been flip-flopping between support and opposition since his campaign for governor. Historically, the state Senate’s Republican leadership has opposed pot liberalization. But with more than 80 percent of voters in favor of medical marijuana, the opposition to pot reform cracked. Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, has been championing a medical marijuana bill for years. He said the 20 dispensaries allowed by the state’s Compassionate Care Act is “insufficient.“ He added that the act won’t meet patient
needs, “especially for very ill patients in rural areas.” The medical pot companies are required to begin distributing cannabis within six months. A spokesperson for Columbia Care, a company running a dispensary planned for E. 14th St., said the facility would be “pleasant, supportive and airy,” though “everything is a medical operation.” Also, some physicians say there are other patients who can benefit from pot besides those with life-threatening illnesses. “For the majority of my patients, medical marijuana benefits them in controlling their chronic pain,” Dr. Matthew Jackson, an Upstate internist, told Medical Daily. “It helps them not use as many narcotics. I also see the benefits to treat seizures and migraines.” North Shore-LIJ, which operates the Lenox Health Greenwich Village E.D., applied to have a pot dispensary but didn’t make the cut. August 6, 2015
Biking, sliding and zipping... PHOTOS BY MILO HESS
Summer Streets on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. had a little bit of everything, but mainly a car-free route from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park at E. 72nd St. At Foley Square in Lower Manhattan, cyclists, joggers, pedestrians, skaters and everyone else in motion could “pause” to take a trip on a zip line or down a giant water slide. Summer Streets will occur again on Sat., Aug. 8 and 15.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Welcome to local politics To The Editor: Re “Gigi Li ends campaign for leader, but denies fraud charges” (news article, July 30): I liked Jenifer Rajkumar immediately when I first met her at a meeting of the Parks Committee of Community Board 2 four years ago. We — Georgette Fleischer, Lora Tenenbaum, myself and others — were fighting a plan for a food cart in tiny Petrosino Square park before the dread bikes arrived. Rich Caccappolo, the committee’s chairperson, started the meeting by asking us activists if we opposed any and all food carts in any
and all parks. My jaw dropped. Why would a grandmother like me oppose a hot dog stand in immense Central Park near the immense children’s playground with its marvelous sprinklers? I was not aware yet of the lines that are often drawn between the citizens who serve on the community boards and the activist troublemakers whose ranks I was joining. I began to understand how screwed up we all were when, within seconds, it appeared to me that Geoffrey Croft and Tobi Bergman were locking horns in serious battle, much like the stags in my favorite diorama at the American Museum of Natural History.
As for Rajkumar, she was calm and as helpful as she could be. But only Councilmember Margaret Chin could get us out of that one, which she did. The food cart was a throwaway for Chin. I still think in my heart of hearts that Chin needs only to snap her fingers and the Citi Bikes would evaporate from Petrosino. But we did not support Chin’s re-election and instead endorsed Rajkumar. Minerva Durham
Statement was a fraud, too To The Editor: Re “Gigi Li ends campaign for leader, but denies fraud charges” (news article, July 30): Gigi Li’s statement to the press denying her fraud is unadulterated nonsense and knowingly false. The fraud was clearly documented in photos and videos and supported by eyewitnesses. She knows that and that’s why she quit, even though the Board of Elections found she had collected less than 500 valid signatures and she could have challenged that. Li and and Councilmember Margaret Chin’s staff are up to their eyeballs in this and Li should have had the courage to admit what she did. That’s leadership and that’s integrity. She has neither. Disgraceful. Jack Suarez
Has the press underestimated Trump? 14
August 6, 2015
LETTERS, continued on p. 16 TheVillager.com
Showing up and speaking up, even against the odds TALKING POINT BY MICKI McGEE
FILE PHOTO BY THE VILLAGER
n June the Community Board 2 Land Use Committee met to hear details of the mayor’s rezoning plan that threatens to eviscerate years of neighborhood and community-based zoning in a giveaway to real estate developers under the rhetoric of creating affordable housing. The standing-room only neighborhood crowd — who sharply detailed the flaws in the plan, “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” — recalled a similar meeting two and a half years ago, when scores of South Village residents packed a C.B. 2 Land Use meeting to object to a so-called “minor modification” that would allow God’s Love We Deliver to sell its air rights to luxury condo developer Quinlan-Tavros. At issue in that November 2012 meeting were the deed restrictions on the two-story G.L.W.D. building at 166 Sixth Ave. The former cityowned building was sold in 1993 to G.L.W.D. at well below market value. With the deep discount came deed restrictions limiting use to very specific community-service purposes. Some of us had lived in the neighborhood long enough to remember when then-Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger worked hard to craft a deal that would protect the low-rise character of our neighborhood, but allow the food-service charity to move its headquarters to Spring St. But in 2012, less evenhanded political forces were at work, and a crafty developer and nonprofit president hatched a plan to seek a zoning modification that would allow them each to build bigger and taller than any of us could have imagined would be allowable. To achieve this aim they concocted a narrative that strained credulity. As The Villager reported at the time: “In an unusual twist, the open-space requirement of the adjacent planned apartment building will be fulfilled by G.L.W.D.’s garden rooftop. To access the social-service organization’s garden rooftop, the residents would cross G.L.W.D.’s third-floor rooftop, then take an elevator up to the fifth-floor rooftop. G.L.W.D. officials don’t know if the residents will actually want to volunteer in the organization’s garden rooftop — though they hope they will — but this access will be provided to meet the open-space requirement.” For residents of the South Village,
Last July, when this photo was taken, construction was going on simultaneously on two major projects on Sixth Ave. between Spring and Vandam Sts., the God’s Love We Deliver building, at right, and the neighboring new luxury residential building, at left.
the rooftop garden fable didn’t pass the smell test. How, neighbors asked, could anyone possibly believe this story, or affirm this shameless end-run around the zoning laws and the deed restrictions in place on this property? Whether our elected and appointed officials believed this fable or not, endorse it they did. From C.B. 2 — which agreed to endorse the plan in a December 2012 full board meeting that was memorable for a maudlin appearance by a former state senator pleading the nonprofit’s case, prompting shocked exclamations of “the fix is in” from neighborhood residents — to the City Planning Commission to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, everyone fell in line with the powers that be to endorse this trumped-up plan. Everyone, that is, but the residents of the South Village, who set out to see if it might not be possible that zoning laws and building regulations could be enforced. Nearly three years, three lawyers and many thousands of dollars later, we learned that neither zoning laws, nor construction laws, nor noise regulations would be enforced. Chronicling the many instances of these regulatory failures would take volumes rather than a few hundred words, but consider just these few: There was that Thursday morning in February 2014 when — after our neighbors had filed more than two dozen complaints of excessive construction noise that were dismissed without investigation by the Department of Buildings and the Department of Environmental Protection — we finally had two D.E.P. inspectors in our building taking sound readings. They only responded after we’d reached out to the Public Advocate’s Office, and provided detailed documentation
of countless unresolved complaints dating back months. We watched as the D.E.P. inspectors used their decibel meters to take the ambient and peak sound levels. With a backhoe-mounted jackhammer cracking away at concrete and masonry just yards from the window, they came up with a decibel reading of 40 decibels peaking at 49. (As a point of reference, 40 decibels is lower than the sound of the average conversation.) Our meter showed 97 dB peaking at 109 dB. But their official meter reading, however skewed, trumped ours. Rigged? You tell me. Then there were the endless, illegal after-hours variances (so-called A.H.V.’s) granted by D.O.B. at the multiple construction sites in our neighborhood, allowing thunderous construction noise after 6 p.m. and on weekends. City law is very clear about the conditions that allow for A.H.V.’s, limiting them to very specific circumstances. But never mind that. D.O.B. routinely granted illegal A.H.V.’s to G.L.W.D., Quinlan-Tavros and later to Madison Equities at 120-140 Sixth Ave., even when fraudulent applications were filed. In the case of illegally issued A.H.V.’s, one’s complaint is not with the developer or construction firm, but with the agency that granted it, in this case D.O.B. In such cases one is told by the helpful operators at 311 to file what is known as an “agency complaint.” We filed many. You might be surprised to learn, as I was, that the agency charged with investigating an agency complaint against D.O.B. is none other than the Department of Buildings itself. Yes, the agency is authorized to regulate itself. Here an expression concerning foxes and poultry houses seems relevant.
Just when we thought things could not get darker, something changed. For a brief period starting in spring 2014, we had a break from weekend variances, when two dedicated staffers in the office of newly elected District 3 Councilmember Corey Johnson made it their business to try to get the A.H.V. law enforced. We had a few weekends without construction noise. But sadly, in mid-February of this year, the councilmember broke it to us that this was simply taking too much of their time: Since he’d been in office, he said, one staffer was spending at least half of his or her time on noise and construction complaints from just our neighborhood. They just couldn’t continue to do that. There were other things they had to work on, other neighborhoods with construction issues, and other priorities. The councilmember advised me that we should endorse the new A.H.V. legislation that he was co-sponsoring. Unfortunately, endorsing the proposed modifications to the city’s laws regarding A.H.V.’s will do nothing to solve the enforcement issue, since the current version of this legislation still has Buildings regulating itself. The lack of regulation of D.O.B. — among the most notoriously corrupt agencies in the city, with more than a dozen inspectors and supervisors arrested in February 2015 for even more serious offenses than we experienced in our neighborhood — points to the failure of the city and its agencies to abide by the city’s own laws. Although the Manhattan district attorney indicted inspectors for the egregious illegality of taking bribes that helped landlords evict rent-regulated tenants, lesser violations of the law that we experienced in our neighborhood seem to be wholly unregulated. That is, when D.O.B. issues illegal variances to politically well-connected charities and developers, no one stands ready to see that the city’s laws are enforced. Since that discouraging conversation with our councilmember, and in the wake of the arrests at D.O.B., the agency has released a plan to reform itself — yet the new “Building One City” plan leaves intact D.O.B.’s authority to police itself. This may all seem quite discouraging. I’d be lying to you if I said it wasn’t. But when our neighborhood got into this fight we knew that our chances were slim. The rule of thumb in such legal and political matters is that the party with the most money wins. The smart money was on the developer and the star-studded charity whose fundraising and other special events give our politicians more opportunities to mingle with prospective AGENCIES continued on p. 16 August 6, 2015
These Huskies are very cool with dining al fresco NYCritters BY FACEBOY
PHOTO BY FACEBOY
n June 16, the so-called “Dining With Dogs” bill was overwhelming passed by the Assembly. It now awaits Governor Cuomo’s signature. Once signed into law, it will allow companion dogs at food-service establishments in outdoor dining areas in certain conditions. On the likelihood that Cuomo will approve the bill, spokesperson Rich Azzopardi has stated, “We’ll have to review this legislation. However, the governor has a strong record of increasing rights and protections for all New Yorkers, four-legged or otherwise.” These two gorgeous girls were recently spotted by The Villager in the South Village at Trattoria Spaghetto, where they are served steamed broccoli with smiles by the staff. Their mom, Debra Miller, assures that we
are far from the only ones to marvel at the pooches’ beauty. “Wherever I go, they’re totally showstopping dogs,” she said. “I call them celebrity dogs. When we sit at a place like Da Silvano, where there are regularly celebrities, my dogs are constantly being photographed.” Named after Mt. Denali where their pup poppa, Roger Byron, has a cabin, Deni and Ali are 12-and-ahalf-year-old purebred Siberian Huskies with some interesting personality traits. Ali is a slow walker and Deni is a singer and talker. “‘American Idol’ was on TV and she started singing to it and I had it videotaped,” Miller said of Deni’s singing prowess. “I just thought it would be cool to have it and call it, ‘American Doggy Idol.’ I have a couple of videos of her singing songs to become the next Doggy Idol.” The American Kennel Club describes Huskies as extremely energetic, but this is not the case with Ali. “I call her Dillydally Ali because she’s a really slow walker,” Miller said.
Deni and Ali enjoy a tasty dish of steamed broccoli when eating out in the South Village.
“You’d think she’d want to charge like everyone says Huskies do, but Ali just dillydallies down the street.” Many people assume that her dogs suffer in the summer more than other breeds. “I’m constantly getting snickers about having Huskies in the summer weather and how ‘It’s not their weather,’ ” she said. “But the truth is they have a down-like insulating fur that protects them from the heat and
the cold. They adjust to seasons quite well.” Dogs are what got Miller into the upholstery business. She’s owned her Tribeca shop for 26 years. “I got a little dog and wanted to stay home and be with her 24/7,” Miller explained. “I was taking a simple sewing class and ended up quitting my day job in the printing business to do slipcovers in my apartment, which led to upholstery and draperies.” You can bring business to Tribeca Upholstery and Draperies while keeping these pooches in Purina. Miller’s shop, at 103 Reade St., is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. or anytime by appointment, 917-566 8559. Trattoria Spaghetto, at 232 Bleecker St., is open Sunday through Thursday, noon to 12 a.m., and Friday to Saturday. noon to 12:30 a.m., 212-2556752. If you do dine with your doggy anywhere in the winter, please heed the warning of the late, great Frank Zappa, “Watch out where the Huskies go, and don’t you eat that yellow snow.”
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Showing up and speaking up LETTERS continued from p. 14
Activists seeking a cause To The Editor: Re “Tower of Brat-Blaz is removed in Tompkins but ‘campout’ is coming” (news article, July 30): Yeah, big deal...drug dealing is rife in Tompkins Square Park. Your article is specious and irrelevant. DeRienzo is an activist who would look for a cause without reason. I rarely if ever go into the park. I get up to Union Square, which is exciting and safer. I learned to ride a bike and roller skate in Tompkins Square in the late ’40s and early ’50s when this Lower East Side park was a real park and not a dumping ground for lowlifes. Rats abound. Bert Zackim
E.D. does have two beds To The Editor: Re “Stand-alone E.D. saw 29,000 patients in first year” (news article, July 30): The article is inaccurate about this stand-alone emergency department having no inpatient hospital beds attached to it. As the certificate of need filed with New York State notes,
August 6, 2015
Lenox Hill Hospital transferred two medical surgical beds to the Lenox Health Greenwich Village emergency department.
Eileen Toback Toback is executive director, New York Professional Nurses Union
God made the pigeons To The Editor: Re “Feathery felony in park as perps net hundreds of pigeons” (news article, July 30): These pigeons are all very gentle, and once people get over the fear of them they handle them very easily with the help of Larry. Those birds are like his children. This is heartbreaking. I think they are all beautiful. God made them, too, just like he made you and me. Karen Bartolo 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, 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.
AGENCIES continued from p. 15
campaign donors. So why’d we do it? So very many people asked us that: What’s the use? You’ll never win. Give it up, they said. We didn’t quit because we believed, and continue to believe, that getting us to give up is how they win. Community apathy and pseudo-democratic participation favor developers and the politicians who support them. Democratic neighborhood activism and genuine civic participation do not. We like to believe that having just rules and regulations that apply to everyone is a fundamental principle that orders a just society. We note that this principle of fairness is very seldom followed. But where there is selective enforcement of the regulations and laws of society — or unfair norms, regulations and laws — the result is something that folks in the business of sociology, as I am, call anomie. Apathy and detachment are the hallmarks of anomie. And apathy is how they win. Some people would say that the residents of the South Village lost. Two monstrous buildings have risen to block the sunlight to our parks, playgrounds and gardens. D.O.B. and D.E.P. have failed to do their jobs, allowing after-hours construction and unmitigated con-
struction noise to destroy the quality of life in our neighborhood. And our elected officials have either looked away, or worse yet, joined in the celebration as G.L.W.D. cuts the ribbon on the tin-and-brick junk architecture they have visited upon our neighborhood. But to those who say we’ve lost, I’d say, think again. Look at every community board or City Planning Commission meeting where you see neighbors speaking out. While there have always been neighbors willing to speak their minds, now there are even more of us. And our numbers are growing. If this is failure, then let’s embrace it. Or, in the words of a mid-century Irish playwright, “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” To beat the mayor’s troubling rezoning plan before us, to stop the closing of our local small businesses, to keep our neighborhood storefronts from all becoming chain stores or bars and lounges as commercial rents skyrocket, we’ll need every neighborhood and hundreds of neighbors ready to step up, show up, and speak up. To do that, we’ll have to be ready to try, to fail, and especially, to fail better. McGee is an associate professor of sociology at Fordham University and a founding member of South Village Neighbors TheVillager.com
Mike Geffner wants you to express yourself ‘Inspired’ series powered by comedy, poetry, music, storytelling
PHOTO BY MIKE GEFFNER
A class photo from a recent Inspired Word gathering, snapped by Mike Geffner, the camera-shy series founder.
BY PUMA PERL
ometime in the spring of 2009, a guy named Mike Geffner contacted me through a friend. He had started a poetry venue in the unlikely setting of a Forest Hills vegan restaurant, and invited me to read. He wasn’t a poet. He didn’t even know many poets, so where did he come from? Anyway, I went. Geffner was friendly and a bit reserved, spending most of his time observing the goings-on. Six features, a comedienne as host, a makeshift stage with an iffy microphone and the background noise of clattering trays and dinner TheVillager.com
customers, few of whom were even slightly interested in the event. But the performances were good, and he’d managed to attract a respectable, enthusiastic crowd, and, well, I’d certainly been through worse. I kept my eye on the series, and noticed that he was booking some of my favorite local poets and engaging visiting artists as well. Suddenly, it seemed, he was everywhere. Despite the location, the venue took off. I remember running into Geffner on Avenue B one Saturday afternoon. I was on my way to the Shout-Out, a defunct series at Otto’s Shrunken Head, and he was leaving B Cup Cafe,
where he often worked on his writing assignments (he was still freelancing as a sports writer). Although en route to an appointment, he reacted excitedly when I told him about Otto’s. “Take me there!,” he demanded, following me in, taking notes and running off to his next stop. Good journalist that he is, he was doing his research. Recently, I visited “Titillating Tongues,” an erotica series at (Le) Poisson Rouge, one of five venues for Geffner’s Inspired Word series. The friendly, reserved man I’d met seven years earlier had just stepped off the stage after singing a couple of his favorite Sinatra songs. This was a first
for him; you still rarely see him under the spotlight, but he has become the ultimate host, friendly and welcoming to all. I’d always been curious about how he found his way onto the poetry scene, and, especially, the secrets to the success of his venues. We sat down a few weeks later at the Monday night edition of his open mic series (at Parkside Lounge) to talk. The beginnings were as serendipitous as they were unlikely. Geffner happened upon Tierra Sona, a lovely vegan organic restaurant. He enjoyed the food and began dining there nightINSPIRED, continued on p.18 August 6, 2015
The many faces of the Inspired Word
PHOTO BY LYNN CAPPIELLO
A performer at “Titillating Tongues,” an Inspired Word erotica series at (Le) Poisson Rouge.
INSPIRED, continued from p. 17
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August 6, 2015
PHOTO BY PUMA PERL
ly, often chatting with the owner, who eventually requested his help in initiating a poetry series. He was, at first, disinterested. “If you run it, we’ll give you free food,” promised the owner. And so it began. “When I do something, I put everything into it,” Geffner stated. He delved into researching the scene online, and opened the series four months later. Not long after, the restaurant went belly up — but he was hooked. Assisted by his longtime friend, Marvin Mendlinger, he began searching out new locations. Mendlinger was recently retired, and had the time to help out, albeit not without protest. I remember the early days with Mendlinger (also known as Starvin’ Marvin) at the door, surveying the crowd. We used to joke that he stashed a shotgun under the podium.
I later learned that he had attended many readings in his youth, and was strongly influenced by the Beat poets. He has stayed with it, and now visibly enjoys socializing with attendees and performers, and has developed considerable expertise in photography. Geffner has been a writer his entire life. He was a longtime Village Voice sportswriter in its heyday, and he was the first sports columnist to have his name on the front page; running poetry venues was the last thing he saw himself ever doing. “But I saw journalism changing, and not for the better,” he said. “Everyone puts information out. You can’t find the truth anymore. I’ve never had any other type of job, except for one year as a social media manager. I’ve made great money. This life is a great second act for me. How many people get to find something they love to do twice in a lifetime?” The Inspired Word is an umbrella
Aimee, one of the Inspired Word hosts.
name for an ongoing series of gatherings that draw poets, musicians, singers, jugglers…you name it. It has evolved from the traditional formula of open mic and featured performers. Today, Geffner no longer seeks out the most well known names. His focus has changed. “I think of it like a Rubik’s Cube,” he told me, “I just keep tinkering with it.” His open mic nights not only fill the house, but performers are willing to pay the admission fee (usually seven or ten dollars, depending on the venue) and in some cases, including the Monday night at the venue I visited, reservations are made in advance to get on the list. “How did this happen?” I wondered aloud. “I am a crazy person,” he replied. Crazy, driven, with a vision — a good formula for success, I thought. “I used to book some of the biggest names on the poetry scene, sometimes still do. They come, they’re great, they leave. I realized that concentrating on stardom was not building community. Today, we have talented performers of all kinds, not just poetry. They watch and support each other, they work-
shop new material, see each other grow. It’s a new community. Like his pal Mendlinger, he always had an interest in poetry, but did not concentrate on it in the past. He is writing again and has also begun photographing the shows. Community, poetry, performance, photography — like the man said, a great second act to a life. The Inspired Word series takes place in five Manhattan and Long Island City venues. The open mic happens every Mon. at Parkside Lounge (317 E. Houston St. at Attorney St.), 7-11 p.m. ($7, 21+). At Funkadelic Studios (209 W. 40th St. at Seventh Ave.), open mic every Tues., 7-11 p.m. ($10, all ages). The “Titillating Tongues” erotica in poetry & prose open mic (21+) happens on the third Thurs. of the month, 7-9:30 p.m. at (Le) Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker St. btw. Sullivan & Thompson). $10, 21+. For the full schedule, vsit inspiredwordnyc.com. Puma Perl and Friends will appear at Sidewalk Cafe (94 Ave. A at Sixth St.) Aug. 28. Info at pumaperl.blogspot.com.
Buhmann on Art Yoko Ono at MoMA PHOTO BY THOMAS GRIESEL © 2015 THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
PHOTO BY THOMAS GRIESEL © 2015 THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
Installation view of “Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971.”
Yoko Ono’s “White Chess Set” (1966) in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden.
BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN (stephaniebuhmann.com)
YOKO ONO: ONE WOMAN SHOW, 1960–1971
Through Sept. 7 at the Museum of Modern Art (11 W. 53rd St. btw. Fifth & Sixth Aves.). Hours through Aug. are Sat.–Wed. 10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. & Thurs./Fri. 10:30 a.m.–8 p.m. Hours as of Sept. are Thurs.–Sat. 10:30 a.m.– 5:30 p.m. & Fri., 10:30 a.m.–8 p.m. Admission: $25, $18 for 65+ $14 for students. Call 212-708-9400 or visit moma.org.
PHOTO BY RYAN MUIR © YOKO ONO
This major survey of the early works of Yoko Ono brings together 125 objects, works on paper, installations, performances, audio recordings and films, alongside rarely seen archival materials. The works were made in New York, Tokyo and London: three cities where Ono lived during the first decade of her long career. “Painting to Be Stepped On” (1960/1961) is a good example for this early body of work. Many of these pieces are based on text — and especially on instructions for the viewer — reflecting Ono’s pioneering contribution to the international Conceptual art movement. In the instructions for the piece, Ono asks her audience to
walk over a piece of canvas that is laid directly on the floor. This work questions the traditional concept of art as something precious, and as something that needs to be set apart from daily life. It also reflects Ono’s ongoing dedication to making art that can be experienced as an integral part of everyday activities and thought. At times poetic, humorous, sinister, and idealistic, Ono’s early oeuvre continues to appear groundbreaking. In a world increasingly filled with noise, her intelligence and the simplicity of her message is as inspiring as ever.
Yoko Ono with “Apple” (1966) at the press preview for “Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971” — on view at MoMa through Sept. 7.
August 6, 2015
Flowers in the basement Installation is novel twist for Jefferson Market Library BY SCOTT STIFFLER
PHOTO BY SCOTTO MYCKLEBUST
oss has never had much of a chance to grow on the Jefferson Market branch of the New York Public Library. The triangle of land on which it sits has done time as a courthouse, a market, and a women’s prison. For the past 40 years, a city-run community garden has enjoyed an unofficial (but cozy) relationship with the neighboring Victorian Gothic library — which recently turned over a new leaf by adding another page to its ever-evolving story. Walk through the main doors, make a sharp right, then descend the black wrought iron spiral staircase — and before you reach the Reading Room, you’ll pass through the newly established Little Underground Gallery. That’s where Village resident and West Chelsea studio artist Scotto Mycklebust has created “Everything in the Garden is Rosy.” This immersive, floor-to-ceiling in-
Scotto Mycklebust invites you to immerse yourself in nature, by entering an artificial realm.
stallation beckons you to stand on a carpet of fresh AstroTurf, contemplate the dreamy bird tweets, and groove to the variety of larger-than-life flowers covering the gallery’s brick foun-
dation walls (along with strategically placed windows, where the view is nothing but blue skies and white puffs of cloud). Mycklebust regards his artificial garden as “a bridge between our
two lives, inviting our examination of both — in relation to where we are, where we have been, and where we are going as organic beings in an increasingly electronic community.” Like the lush greenery of its aboveground counterpart, this compelling display of nature’s intensity won’t last forever. Each month, a new Village resident will show their work in the Little Underground Gallery, which is being curated to represent a wide range of creative disciplines and artistic sensibilities (a Halloween-themed October exhibit has already been booked). The Mycklebust installation is on view through Aug. 31 during library hours (Mon & Wed. 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Tues. & Thurs. 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m.). In the Little Underground Gallery at the Jefferson Market Library (at the corner of Sixth Ave. & 10th St.). For atist info, visit scottomycklebust.com. For Jefferson Market Library info, 212-2434334 or nypl.org./locations/jefferson-market. Community garden info at jeffersonmarketgarden.org.
New gizmos, taken for a test run
These tech toys are more than playthings BY CHARLES BATTERSBY
E Week — the ninth annual consumer electronics event — came to New York June 23–25, filling Chelsea’s Metropolitan Pavilion with cutting-edge gadgets and tech enthusiasts. We got our hands on several gizmos that are particularly useful for the typical New Yorker, whose life is centered around a tiny apartment and crowded subway cars. Bluetooth headsets for cellphones started out as a cool toy for technophiles, but quickly became the mark of self-importance. The clip&talk ($39.99–$159.90, clipandtalk.com) is a new headset that helps users avoid looking like a jerk who walks around with a headset on all the time. It is intended to be turned off and clipped to a pocket when not in use. When the user gets a call, they switch on the headset, and in the 2–3 seconds it takes to put it in their ear, it automatically connects with their phone and is ready to go. In our trial, we
August 6, 2015
Attach a Seek Thermal Camera to your smartphone and locate electronic hot spots or take still pictures and video in the infrared spectrum.
found that the device does connect quickly enough that it can be kept off when not in use, and activated in about the same time that it takes to answer a phone. There are several models of clip&talk. The “Fashion Matrix” has a colorful metallic finish for a more
fashionable look. There is a “Me” model that has an attachable second earbud so that the headset can be used as a pair of wireless headphones (and a conversation starter). An executive “Aluminum” model has a slot for a micro SD card, and can double as a USB flash drive. In the near fu-
The Sengled Pulse, a set of wireless Bluetooth stereo speakers built into LED light bulbs, draws its power from the socket.
ture, some models of the clip&talk will have an attachment for tracking health properties with a device that fits in the earpiece. The App Store has several apps that let users pretend to have night vision by mimicking the aesthetics CE WEEK, continued on p.21 TheVillager.com
Electronics worth consuming, from CE Week
The Flygrip is a simple accessory that helps the user keep a firm grip by wedging their fingers between two thin plastic notches.
CE WEEK, continued from p. 20
of night-vision scopes, but the Seek Thermal Camera ($249–$299, thermal. com) is the real deal. It’s a camera that attaches to smartphones, and can take
still pictures and video in the infrared spectrum. On the most superficial level, it will let users run around pretending to be the Terminator — but it also has practical uses. It’s especially handy for gadgeteers who want to see which
The “fashion matrix” model of the clip&talk, a headset device that can be turned off and clipped elsewhere when not in use. TheVillager.com
components inside a computer are overheating, and The Power 360 is a surge protector that shows when it’s been triggered by over-voltage, or what electronic devices are if there has been a blackout or brownout that heating up surrounding might damage electronic equipment. gadgets in an entertainment center. The Seek Thermal has its own app, and can be used to show the temperais between a power strip and a surge ture of multiple objects at once. It can protector. The Power 360 ($39.99, panalso be set to only show items above amax.com) is a surge protector that a certain temperature — useful for helps dispel the mystery and provide spotting living creatures (like miss- clear information about when elecing pets) at night. In some situations, tronic voodoo is afoot. It has a colit can even track warm footprints left or-coded light, which displays inforbehind on floors. mation about the wiring in the socket The Sengled Pulse ($169.99, sen- it has been plugged into. It also shows gled.com) is a set of wireless Bluetooth when its “SurgeGuard” has been stereo speakers that are built into LED triggered by over-voltage, or if there light bulbs. It’s a simple idea that is has been a blackout or brownout that extremely practical. The bulbs can be might damage electronic equipment. screwed into ordinary light sockets, Among all this high technology, and draw their power right from the there were some surprisingly lowsocket. The volume and brightness tech ideas. The Flygrip ($29.95, flyare controlled from an app, and they grip.com) is a simple accessory that can be paired with smartphones, tab- sticks to the back of a smartphone, lets or desktop computers. The Pulse and helps the user keep a firm grip frees up shelf space, gets rid of cords, by wedging their fingers between and provides a major “wow” factor two thin plastic notches. It folds up to for guests when they realize that mu- about a quarter of an inch thick, so the sic is coming out of the lamp, or the phone can still be carried in pockets. ceiling lights. It’s also handy to have It can also be folded into a different a centralized location for speakers position so that it can be used as a when they’re used with ceiling lights kickstand to prop up a phone on tain the center of the room. Sengled has ble. With smartphones getting bigger, put several other gadgets inside light while tablets keep getting smaller, the bulbs too. There is a Wi-Fi booster that Flygrip is a clever way to deal with enhances the range of Wi-Fi signals, a these unwieldy “Phablets.” camera with a motion detector, and a solo speaker. CE Week is an annual event in New When it comes to charging and pro- York, whose 2016 edition will take place tecting these new gadgets, casual us- June 20–24. For more info, check out CEers might wonder what the difference weekNY.com. August 6, 2015
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To Advertise Call: 646-452-2490 LegalAds@TheVillager.com Deadline â€“ 12 noon Wednesday
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An E.V. mom-and-pop theater struggles to survive THEATER continued from p. 1
PHOTO BY BOB KRASNER
in that play and Billy Crystal was once an usher there. “He was a handful — but fun,” Otway recalled. As actors continued to perform downstairs in the intimate off-Broadway theater (maximum audience capacity of 199), Howard and his wife, Florence, had dinner parties / production meetings in their apartment upstairs as they found projects to pursue outside his establishment. Lorcan remembers the many meals, which included the likes of Robert DeNiro, Sally Kirkland and Shelley Winters, who had written a play that was to be produced by Otway. “DeNiro was always the first one to get up and help clean up,” Lorcan remembered. Otway also found other pursuits. He has been a busker — he plays the uilleann pipes and the harp, among others — a maker of Bodhran drums, a photo assistant, a photojournalist, a boat builder and a lawyer. After he found that he didn’t much care for the lifestyle of a commercial photo studio, he set off for Ireland, where he pursued a career in socially relevant photography, covering the war there. More recently, he also has photographed and written for The Villager, covering everything from Tompkins Square’s red-tail hawks and the late “crusty godfather” L.E.S Jewels to divers working underwater beneath East River Park. In his absence, the St. Mark’s Place theater became a movie house, showing vintage Hollywood films,
Lorcan Otway playing the traditional Irish harp in his St. Mark’s Place home above Theatre 80.
but it later returned to presenting live theater. Shortly before his father died, Lorcan promised him that the venue would continue as an off-Broadway house. And he plans to continue doing just that, if the venue’s current financial challenges can be surmounted. After the death of his mother, the theater was left to Lorcan and his brother, a theoretical mathematician who has no interest in the enterprise. The triple whammy of an inheritance tax, the need to buy out his brother’s share and the tripling of his property taxes has left this East Village stage’s future in jeopardy.
For Lorcan and his wife, Genie, Theatre 80 is more than a way to make a living; it is a way for the neighborhood to hang on to its identity. In an age where mom-and-pop stores are rapidly vanishing, this mom-and-pop theater is a treasure that needs to be preserved. Elena K. Holy, artistic director of the the New York International Fringe Festival, agrees. Her company uses Theatre 80 as one of its venues. “Since 2012, Theatre 80 has been a generous and welcoming space for some of our largest — and most complicated — shows,” she said. “In an age where venues are disappear-
ing from the East Village and Lower East Side, we cannot imagine what the loss of this historic and gorgeous venue would mean to independent theater in New York City.” Otway laments that in the last 20 years, at least 12 theaters have disappeared from a five-block radius in the East Village. He has done what he can to revive his space, installing the Museum of the American Gangster upstairs and a small throwback of a neighborhood watering hole, the William Barnacle Tavern — featuring authentic-style absinthe — adjacent to the theater. He and his wife now live in his parents’ former apartment above the theater. Since taking over operations, he said, the longest that he’s been away from the building is a half a day. “It takes tremendous dedication,” he said. But dedication, unfortunately, is not enough, and so he has set up The Howard Otway and Florence Otway Opportunity Project as a way for supporters to make tax-deductible donations to the theater. Beyond that, Otway is searching for what he called an “angel” who would be willing to contribute a substantial sum in exchange for naming rights for the building. The theater itself would not be renamed, but the building that houses it, the bar and the gangster museum all would be. For more information about the Howard Otway and Florence Otway Opportunity Project, see https://www.facebook. com/hofopro . For information on Theatre 80, visit https://theatre80.wordpress.com
Finally, a peaceful French eatery on Christopher BY F. SEIDENBAUM
fter being vacant for many years, commercial space at 20 Christopher St. is now graced by Delice et Sarrasin, owned and run by the Caron family from Toulouse: Mme. Yvette, M. Patrick and son Christophe. It’s a rarity: a peaceful, cheerful haven...a respite from loud rock music and TV screens. It has 30 seats but almost feels as if a family converted their living room into a restaurant. Friendly ambiance promotes a relaxing read or chat with friends over a latte and croissant. Practice your French, or meet those at neighboring tables: locals, French families with children, tourists. When Christophe Caron came to New York four years ago for a modeling job, he couldn’t find good crepes, just “fast-food ones,” and none made with authentic sarrasin (buckwheat)
August 6, 2015
From left, M. Patrick Caron, chef Yvette Caron and Christophe Caron, the family who run Delice et Sarassin.
flour. He explained that in Europe, crepes have complex cooked fillings and are eaten in regular restaurants. He spent more than a year researching and studying beforehand, and was surprised to find he loves the 12-
hour days because it’s his restaurant. His parents feel the same. They joined him last November; choosing the West Village because it feels European, especially the restaurant’s tree-lined, quiet block, with its small boutiques and beautiful century-old wisteria vine partially overhanging their window. Yvette Caron has always loved cooking. She and her husband gave up their careers (she was a chef in France) to join their son. All she wants is to be sure people enjoy her food and to share a little of France with them. Delice et Sarrasin specializes in crepes: savory St. Jacques de Compostelle filled with leek confit, scallop, creme fraiche, egg and cheese; and sweet, light La Grande Crepette, crunchy, small crepes filled with pastry cream. Toulouse specialties include Mr. Rabelais, a traditional spicy sausage, creme fraiche, mustard and
cheese; and La Toulousiane, orange, caramel and roasted banana. There are also salads, plus the dish du jour, which can be coq au vin, boeuf bourguignon or hachie parmentier (ground beef and potatoes topped with baked, crusted cheese). Almost everything is made in-house, from mustard, mayonnaise, creme fraiche, whipped cream to jams, breads and pastries. Homemade ginger dessert bread comes with Yvette’s secret pastry cream, delicately flavored with rum. Or try crepe Suzette or madeleines. The space is bright and cheerful, fresh flowers on the white tables, family photographs and friends’ art. Delice et Sarrasin, 20 Christopher St. between Waverly Place and Greenwich Ave., 212-243-7200, www.delice-sarrasin.com , Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., weekends, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. TheVillager.com
Breaking: Newswomen’s Club going strong at 93 BY MARY REINHOLZ
he National Arts Club in Gramercy Park is officially closed for the summer. But neither heat of day nor dark of humid night can keep intrepid female newsies from entering the Victorian mansion if there’s a seminar or meeting concerning their craft. Guardians of the august building admit them when they flash cards showing membership in the Newswomen’s Club of New York, a venerable institution that has had access to the N.A.C.’s facilities and cash bar for about 25 years. Early in June, less than a month before the N.A.C. shut down, about 15 members of this old girls’ network gathered in Room 205 to mark their organization’s 93rd anniversary. “Congratulations, ladies,” said club president Toni Reinhold, who’s in charge of Thomson Reuter’s New York desk. “We’ve made it to our 93rd anniversary and we’re already planning for our 100th. We’re thinking of holding it at the Plaza or the Waldorf Astoria,” she added in a nod to the good old days when the club, founded by prominent newspaperwomen who had covered the suffragist movement, hosted A-list parties at swank hotels. One of its past presidents was famed gossip columnist Louella Parsons. Reinhold, an energetic blonde who first won election in 2009 after a contentious race for the top slot, focused much of her remarks on the club’s prestigious Front Page Awards,
Louella Parsons, the famed gossip columnist, was a president of the Newswomen’s Club of New York.
an annual competition held since 1937 to honor high-achieving women in the news business. Entries will be accepted up until Sept. 6 for work published, issued, broadcast or e-published between Sept. 1, 2014, and Aug. 31, 2015. Reinhold and her recently re-elected slate of officers have been urging newswomen of all stripes to enter the competition. Membership in the club is not required for applicants to submit entries in categories like spot news and in-depth reporting, so long as they are based in the New York metropolitan area. All entries must be filed electronically on the club’s Web site, where rules and entry fees can also be found, http:// www.newswomensclubnewyork. com/front-page-awards-applica-
tion-2015/ . Winners will be feted Nov. 12 at a black tie gala held in the ballroom of the Down Town Association’s building at 60 Pine St. Tickets for this year’s awards presentation cost $175 for nonmembers and $125 for members, a price that includes a threecourse dinner. This freelance reporter, an onagain, off-again club member for years, asked Reinhold about current judges of the entries in an e-mail. The club president did not identify any by name but characterized them as professionals “who understand quality and factual journalism.” She noted that proceeds from the event cover the cost of the competition. The balance, she said, helps to maintain the club and its programs. Longtime club member Betsy Wade, a former top copy editor at The New York Times who edited the Pentagon Papers, said winning a Front Page Award is hardly equivalent to garnering a Pulitzer. “But it’s a chance for women whose work might not get on the front pages of The Times or the Washington Post to get recognition for good stuff,” she observed. Winners receive a glass trophy with an engraving of the club’s distinctive logo — a stylish newswoman astride Pegasus, the flying horse of Greek mythology, churning out copy on a typewriter. There are no cash prizes. Rosalind Massow, a former club president, has won three Front Page Awards. She said the most memorable was one she earned in 1960 for
her series on anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union for the New York Journal-American. “I went to Russia in 1959 and could have been arrested,” she recalled. She added she received a certificate back then, “which I framed.” There are now 220 members of the Newswomen’s Club, up from 180 last year. Becoming a member is no easy task,especially for freelancers, said Alana Esposito, the club’s first vice president and chairperson of its membership committee. “First, you have to prove you’re a newswoman,” Esposito, herself a freelancer, said. “We require a certain number of clips — three clips from the past six months — and we go over them with a fine-tooth comb. We also ask staff writers for clips” when they apply, she added. She noted that writers engaged in public relations work would not be allowed to renew membership in the club if “PR is their primary profession.” Members enjoy a variety of benefits, such as opportunities to network at “No Agenda” meetings Tuesday nights at watering holes like the White Horse Tavern in Greenwich Village. Esposito said some formal educational programs can cost $25 or less and many are free. Students and aspiring journalists can join as associate members for $75, the same annual fee paid by members for years. For information on joining the club or obtaining tickets for the Front Page gala, email email@example.com.
A daring expedition: To the clock atop Ol’ Jeff FLASHBACK BY YANNIC RACK
PHOTO COURTESY NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY
he neighborhoods and block associations of New York City have a long and rich history of organizing in support of causes, whether it means keeping a community garden from being developed or saving the last cobblestoned street in the Village. On July 28, 1960, The Villager reported on a local effort that had an especially elaborate name: the Committee of Neighbors to Get the Clock on Jefferson Market Courthouse Started. The article, by Peter English, described in much detail an expedition up the stairs of the courthouse — which is now a branch of the New
York Public Library — to examine the inside of its clock tower. “Long before the first objective was reached it became strongly evident that the local fauna of the structure consisted in the main of pigeons. Plenty of them,” wrote English, who had an apparent knack for infusing some humor into his stories. “A handkerchief held at the ready to guard against possible nosebleed from heights became quite useful. But not for nosebleed,” he went on, jokingly comparing the ascent to Edmund Hillary’s scaling of Mount Everest on more than one occasion. Three members of the city’s Department of Real Estate made the trip along with a representative from a Bronx clock firm, a photographer and Margot Gayle, the chairperson of the clock committee. The building had not been used as
The community saved the former Jefferson Market Courthouse from being torn down in 1960, after which it was converted into a library.
courthouse since 1945 and a group of community preservationists, including Gayle and poet E.E. Cummings, had just recently saved it from being torn down. One year after the article was published, the former courthouse would become a library branch. On the way up the tower, the Real Estate Department officials pledged continued support for the project and even promised a donation to the clock fund. Money was precisely the issue holding back the repairs needed so the clock could run again — to fix cracks in the glass of the northern and western clockfaces, English noted. He closed the article with an address where checks could be sent: Anything from $1 and up was welcome. The clock would tick again on Oct. 16 of that same year. August 6, 2015
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