The Paper of Record for East and West Villages, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown
September 3, 2015 • FREE Volume 5 • Number 14
Crusty punk whose pit bull terrorized East Village is dead BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
NATAS continued on p. 6
Foodies steamed after wonton rent hike, taxes force out Charlie Mom BY LINDAANN LOSCHIAVO
t was a clean, well-lit place, affordable, reliable, popular, an unpretentious spot where you could dally over the dumplings, canoodle in between mouthfuls of spicy Chinese cabbage and, most importantly, hear yourself talk in
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
atas, the crusty traveler whose aggressive pit bull, Jax, went on a bloody rampage in the East Village early last month — viciously attacking both a pug, which later died, and a man — has himself died, according to sources.
Jordy Trachtenberg lives in the same St. Mark’s Place building as Roberta Bayley, whose pug, Sidney, was attacked by Jax on Aug. 1 and died the next day at the vet after undergoing surgery. Trachtenberg told The Villager that on Thurs., Aug. 27, he saw a Facebook post at
between the courses of Cantonese specialties. Unfortunately, Wed., Aug. 26, was the last business day for Charlie Mom Chinese restaurant, at 464 Sixth Ave., near W. 11th St. Wayne Han, president of Chi Wan Corp., opened his 1,600-square-foot eatery in CHARLIE continued on p. 24
Speaking at Tuesday’s rally, a student who only gave her working names — “Alex or Johanna” — said she was driven into prostitution by N.Y.U.’s high tuition.
‘N.Y. Corporate U.’ is crushing us, critics cry BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
n June, the state’s highest court ruled against a community lawsuit seeking to block N.Y.U.’s massive South Village development plan, clearing the way for the nearly 2-million-squarefoot, 20-year project to finally move forward. But as disheartening as that loss was for the opponents, it hasn’t lessened their will to rail against New York University’s ongoing institutional sprawl in historic
Greenwich Village, as well as the school’s sky-high tuition costs and associations with repressive foreign regimes. About 200 people turned out for a wide-ranging rally — under the catchall banner of “fight the corporate university” — in Washington Square Park on Tuesday. Assemblymember Deborah Glick was the only elected official at the rally, since many people are now out of town on summer vacation. In her remarks, speaking from the small stage south of
the Garibaldi monument, she fired up the crowd. “We are here to continue the fight,” said Glick, who was a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the N.Y.U. 2031 project. “The fight is not over.” She said the four-building development project slated for two of the university’s superblocks first “got legs” under the Bloomberg administration, “who said N.Y.U. has raised Villagers’ property values.” N.Y.U. continued on p. 10
WWW.EASTVILLAGERNEWS.COM Facing homelessness................page 16 | May 14, 2014
order to prohibit commercial activity on them — i.e. the desnudas — Cude had a flash of inspiration: Since the state’s high court refused to recognize the openspace strips along Mercer St. and LaGuardia Place as parkland, then maybe a few desnudas doing what they do there might change that perception. “I actually was ready to hire some of them for an hour or two and take their picture and send it to the Post and say, ‘We are parks,’ ” Cude told us. “I actually didn’t do it, though I was ready to.”
SHE’S NO BOOB! There’s a reason many voters — well, many, relatively speaking, for a district leader race — are gravitating toward Terri Cude. For one thing, she definitely thinks outside the box. For example, after hearing that Mayor Bill de Blasio was mulling designating the Times Square plazas as parks, in
PIER 40 MOVES: The Real Deal recently reported that Westbrook Partners paid more than $200 million to take a majority stake in the 1.1.-million-squarefoot St. John’s Building, at Houston and West Sts., in a deal that values the property at $650 million. Westbrook bought out its partner, Fortress Investment Group, at the four-story building, which sits across from Pier 40. Atlas Capital Group still owns a minority stake in the property. According to the Real Deal, the site has an additional 280,000 square feet of unused development rights. And, as previously reported, the St. John’s owners last year were in talks with the
Nadler hears it from both sides Dueling rallies near the federal building at 201 Varick St. last Friday supported and protested Congressmember Jerrold Nadler’s position on the Iran nuclear weapons deal. Older demonstrators, some of them Holocaust survivors, called on the West Side representative to buck the president’s plan, saying it poses a threat to both Israel and America. Others from MoveOn.org and other progressive groups, above, turned out to support the pact.
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CONGRATS! Joseph Simonetti, the new commanding officer of the Village’s Sixth Precinct, was promoted on Monday from captain to inspector. He took over at the precinct in late June.
BRAVE NEW WORLD: Troy Masters, a founder of Gay City News and its predecessor, LGNY, recently left the publication to start a biweekly paper in Los Angeles. Gay City is a sister paper of The Villager and East Villager. Masters’s new paper, The Pride L.A., will be part of Mirror Media Group, the publisher of the Santa Monica Mirror and five other community publications focused on West L.A. neighborhoods. Surprisingly, L.A. currently has no gay paper, and Masters has always been a pioneer. The launch is planned for October. We wish Troy well.
GREEN SCENE: The Jefferson Market Garden will be celebrating its 40th anniversary with a fundraiser on Wed., Sept. 9, at The Lion restaurant, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Barry Benepe, whose vision gave New York City the Greemarkets, and his son, Adrian Benepe, the former commissioner of the city’s Parks Department, will be honored. Bette Midler, who is committed to the greening of New York City, is the evening’s honorary chairperson. For tickets to attend or to contribute, email Jmg.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-242-2594.
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
COULDN’T BE SAVED: Since the Lenox Health Greenwich Village stand-alone emergency department on W. 12th St. is not a trauma center, some readers may have wondered why Idrissa Camara, the security guard who was shot at 201 Varick St. on Thurs., Aug. 20, was brought there, as opposed to, for example, Bellevue Hospital. Camara, 53, was pronounced dead at the Village E.D. Providing an explanation, Alex Hellinger, the new health hub’s executive director, told us: “EMS protocols require major-trauma patients to be taken to the closest trauma center. However, if a patient is deemed too unstable to survive the trip from the scene to a trauma center, then EMS protocols are that they go to the nearest E.D. for stabilization. CPR was performed on the patient en route to Lenox Health, but he was unresponsive. The staff at Lenox Health continued to perform standard resuscitation procedures in an attempt to stabilize and revive him. The patient received the same standard resuscitation measures that are used in all emergency rooms. However, due to the severity of his injury, all attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. The gunshot wound was to the head, and all appropriate protocols were followed.”
OH PLEASE, OBAMA: City Comptroller Scott Stringer recently wrote to President Barack Obama calling on him to designate Christopher Park, outside of the Stonewall Inn, as a national monument. Stringer has a long history of supporting L.G.B.T. rights. In 2010, he got hitched in Connecticut to protest New York’s lack of same-sex marriage. “As the birthplace of a historic fight for freedom, Stonewall is already a rallying point for the community,” Stringer said, “and once it is elevated to the status of national monument, it will also serve as a beacon of hope for all those engaged in the fight for equality.”
Hudson River Park Trust to buy $100 million worth of air rights — or 250,000 square feet — from the run-down sports pier. The owners were considering a condo project with 450,000 square feet of condo space and 100,000 square feet of retail, according to handwritten notes from a meeting between the owners and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Around 110,000 square feet of the project was being proposed as affordable housing for seniors. Asked his thoughts on the latest report, Tobi Berman, chairperson of Community Board 2, said Fortress selling its share seems to indicate that there’s some progress on the mammoth project. Under the park’s new airrights legislation, the money paid to the park for Pier 40’s surplus development rights would be funneled back into the pier for its repair.
Corne r of Jane & West 4th St. (at 8th Ave.) 212-2 42-95 02
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Cottages are creamed by fire A fire tore through “cottage” penthouses on the top of 203 E. 13th St. at Third Ave. last Thursday afternoon. One of the penthouses reportedly recently sold for more than $4.4 million. The building is known as Pear Tree Place, in reference to the pear tree that Peter Stuyvesant once planted at the site. Kiehl’s beauty store is on the 19-century building’s ground floor. There were no injuries and no one was home when the blaze struck. The fire’s cause is still under investigation but is not suspicious, according to a Village Independent Democrats Fire Department spokesperson. 26 Perry Street New York, NY 10014
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We urge your tovote vote the following judical delegate We urge you to for for the following judicial delegate delegate candidates candidates who will represent our community at the First at the candidates who will represent our communty Judicial Convention. This convention nominates Democratic FirstState Judicial Convention. This convention nominates Jennifer Hoppe Supreme Court Justices who will serve in New York City. Democratic State Supreme Court Justices who Arthur Z. Schwartz will serve in New York City.
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Democratic Primary Democratic Primary Jennifer Hoppe THURSDAY,SEPTEMBER SEPTEMBER 10, THURSDAY, 10,2015 2015 Arthur Z. Schwartz Polls open 6 AM - 9 PM Polls open 6 AM-9 PM by: Jenifer Endorsed Rajkumar Maria Passannante-Derr Nadine K. Hoffmann Allen N. Roskoff The Village Reform Democratic Club
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Dick Manitoba has fought to keep his eponymous Avenue B bar open. But without legislation to protect small businesses from rent gouging, is he now facing a losing battle?
A punk rocker ponders his bar’s future
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ick Rock’s haunting blackand-white “Transformer”-era shot of Lou Reed. A young, pre-Pistols Sid Vicious working at Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s London SEX shop. With walls plastered with snapshots of punk’s past, Manitoba’s is like a rock ’n’ roll museum, offering a glimpse back in time for those who were there, those who dreamed of being there and anyone new to it all. Manitoba’s is among the last of its kind in the East Village, but all good things must come to an end. That’s Richard “Handsome Dick” Manitoba’s mantra when it comes to the future of his punk rock dive bar at 99 Avenue B, and he’s sticking to it. Opened in 1999 by Manitoba, and co-owned and managed by his wife, Zoe Hansen, the rocking watering hole may or may not close its doors within the next year. Its future depends on how much the rent goes up, the punk icon told The Villager. “We’ll revisit the lease when it gets closer to ending time,” said Manitoba, who does not know exactly when his current lease ends, but is afraid that the rent will rise significantly. “I don’t want to sign another lease now and pay more rent a year in advance. If it’s a lot more, I’m out — because I can’t afford a lot more. I’m not going to work for nothing.” Earlier this year, Manitoba’s nearly shut its doors following a settlement of $25,000, after a man named Luigi Girotto
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sued Manitoba’s and 27 other businesses, including the bar’s former neighbor, Casimir — since reopened as Pardon My French — for failing to provide wheelchair accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act. After a successful Indiegogo campaign, Manitoba raised more than $32,000. Nearly 700 donors pledged funds in return for an offering of memorabilia from Manitoba’s band, The Dictators, and other collectibles from Manitoba’s personal stash of T-shirts, bobblehead dolls in his likeness, Godlis photos and even autographed guitars donated by Joan Jett and Blondie. Although Manitoba’s survived the lawsuit, the neighborhood’s punk past has nearly been wiped away. Handsome Dick is a survivor, but whether Manitoba’s will ultimately survive, he can’t yet stay. The camaraderie — fans who come to recapture a taste of the old days — is what makes it worthwhile for Manitoba. “I don’t love the bar business,” he said. “I love having that bar. I love having that history. I love having that clubhouse.” While he enjoys keeping a bit of that old punk culture alive in the East Village, the Bronx native has seen the neighborhood change over the years from its grittier roots to something more polished, with everything being driven by ever-higher rents. Manitoba said he sees through his son’s eyes and understands how today’s younger generation might miss out on special places, after they are gone. His son wonders what it was like for Manito-
ba to hang out at the factory with Andy Warhol or check out the Peppermint Lounge in 1962 when he was just eight. “At 11 life is exciting, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” said Manitoba, who first fell in love with the idea of having a bar during a trip to Manhattan with his father when he was 10, and they had a chance meeting with boxer Jack Dempsey at his bar and restaurant in Midtown. “What are we supposed to do, miss what we lost?” he asked. “It’s a type of loss. Life is a death. Life is about a bunch of deaths.” It gets to a point, said Manitoba, when, “You are just another old person talking about how great the old days were.” It’s still a labor of love for Manitoba, but only time will tell if the little punk bar that serves Mother’s Milk, leaves its $5 photo booth open at all hours and its jukebox ready to play anything — even some pre-punk oldies — will keep the history alive. “When people come to New York City, there’s no more CBGBs,” he said. “There’s no more…fill in the blanks. So I’m one of those stop-offs now where people have a drink and take a picture. That means a lot to me.” Manitoba knows that another piece of punk in the East Village would die if Manitoba’s closes, because, he said, it’s a different kind of bar from the rest. “Where are you gonna go for Manitoba’s?” he said. “Where is there a place that has that little niche? When you want White Castle you can’t go to Burger King.” Yet, he added, “When it’s gone, it’s gone. Then something else will rise up.” EastVillagerNews.com
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Crusty punk whose pit terrorized E.V. is dead NATAS continued from p. 1
around 11 that morning by a young woman he knows who does outreach to the crusties and travelers. “I am very sorry to say that Natas (David McKee) passed early this morning,” the woman wrote, in part. In response to The Villager’s query, Julie Bolcer, a spokesperson for the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office, responded, “We are investigating the death of someone identified with the name you provided. The cause and manner of death are pending further studies at this time.” The Police Department’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Information did not have a record of David McKee’s death or an OD in Tompkins Square by him in August. A few days after attacking Bayley’s pug, and just a few blocks away from there, Jax attacked Michael Puzzo, an East Village man who was walking his girlfriend’s dog, Bobito, on E. Sixth St. In each of Jax’s attacks, Natas had been sleeping or passed out on substances, with the brown pit bull beside him, when the dog — reportedly unleashed each time — suddenly lunged for the smaller dogs. Puzzo managed to shield Bobito from Jax’s jaws, but got chomped on his arm. Either that same day or the next, again in the same neck of the East Village, another local man, Ed Vassilev, was savagely bitten on the arm by a different crusty pit bull as he tried to protect his puppy, Misha, from being attacked. Vassilev was left with permanent nerve damage. Trachtenberg provided a phone number for the outreach worker, Sally (not her real name), who spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity. Sally said she received word of Natas’s death from a worker in another local organization that does outreach and offers a needle-exchange service — providing fresh sharps to reduce the spread of infectious diseases between IV drug users. Sally said she had seen Natas recently. He told her that he was trying to get Jax back from Animal Care and Control and that his plan was then to return to New Jersey, where he is originally from. In an effort to notify his family of his death, she left a message for Natas’s sister, but has not heard back. “He wanted to get out of the city and take his dog out of the city,” she said. Sally said she didn’t know a lot about Natas, whose street name was Satan spelled backwards. His Facebook page offers a few details about him. It says he attended Rutgers University and was in the class of 2000 at Pennsauken
September 3, 2015
David McKee a.k.a. Natas, wearing a Philadelphia cap under a hoodie, in a photo from his Facebook page.
High School, which would have made him around age 33. His hometown is listed as Delair, N.J., and his current residence as Blackwood, N.J. His page’s “About” section features one statement: “what is there to say. all who know me know im highly unstable”; and one quote, attributed to “deadly dee”: “until my black heart ceases to beat in my cold dead chest, i will seek retribution or my soul will not rest.” His posts over the years alternated between laments about the state of man — and his own state — musings on death, and — befitting his devilish nickname — quotes in Latin about Satan and Lucifer. In one post, in English, he reassured that people would have nothing to worry about if he returned as the antichrist. “I don’t know if he was using when he died,” Sally said. “That’s what people just assume — us, too. I had only really just come across him in the last couple of months. I had just seen him two days before he died. He said they told him they couldn’t give his dog back to him unless he had New York State ID.” Sally considered helping him get Jax back, but said Natas hadn’t asked her directly, and that she wasn’t sure if she would do it. “If he was going to be leaving with the dog, I thought about it,” she said. “I don’t want his dog put down. Dogs are a very touchy issue, particularly with this crowd.” Basically, the travelers are very close to their dogs, most of which are “well trained,” she said. Obviously, Jax was not, though, and was extremely aggressive. As for Natas, she said, he wasn’t a fake crusty traveler — or fauxbo, as they call them in New Orleans. “He had a very difficult childhood,”
she said. “Beyond popular belief, he was not a rich trust-fund kid. He was just a homeless kid.” As to whether he died due to heroin, alcohol or a combination of them or mixed with other drugs, that will be determined by the medical examiner’s autopsy. Sally said Natas, in fact, may have been trying to get clean. “He had a bad laceration on his forehead, from falling during a seizure,” she said. “That could have been alcohol related, or he could have had a condition. Some of these kids do have conditions, but this often happens with alcohol withdrawal. Heroin and cocaine are awful to come off of — but alcohol is actually physically dangerous to come off of. I know he was saying he was trying to get clean and get off the streets. I know he did use [heroin and alcohol] at some point. I don’t know if he was using at the time he died.” The travelers will soon be leaving the city once the weather turns cool, heading for warmer climes in New Orleans and elsewhere. “Around September, they’ll start leaving, to get settled for the winter,” Sally said. However, she added, now with global warming, they’ll probably be hanging around here a bit longer. Many of them are already up in Maine now picking blueberries, she said. In fact, there were fewer crusty travelers around the East Village this summer, just as there have been in recent summers, according to her. The travelers have spread out to Brooklyn or even further Uptown in Manhattan, which actually makes it more dangerous for them, she said. “Now, I literally spend half a day walking around looking for people,” the outreach worker noted.
For example, the travelers no longer camp out in front of St. Mark’s Church, at Second Ave. and E. 10th St., after crusties there three years ago smeared graffiti in white paint all over the front of the historic house of worship. “That ruined it for everyone,” she said. “Most of them don’t hang out here anymore. They don’t feel wanted or welcome.” She can relate to that feeling, since she herself was formerly one of the homeless youth, but managed to pull her life together. “As someone who’s been homeless before, I’ve never felt such hatred as when I was homeless,” she said. “People urinating on me, pouring alcohol on me, trying to set me on fire, masturbating on me while I’m asleep. “The homeless are easy victims — people take their frustrations out on them.” She said this kind of abuse can partly explain why some crusties are obnoxious and yell at people on the street. Her organization has a client base of 300 mostly young crusties and travelers — only about 100 of whom pass through New York City each year. Last year, there were 32 deaths among this group, mostly from heroin OD’s, along with Hepatitis C, liver failure, alcohol and opiates. Mon., Aug. 31, was actually Overdose Awareness Day, she noted. Having found out about Natas’s death from Trachtenberg, Bayley, a famed punk rock photographer, said the whole experience has left her “very sad.” “I wouldn’t wish death on anybody. It’s an irresponsible person, not an evil person,” she said of Natas. “The owner fell asleep — it wasn’t intentional. I wish the dog possibly could be put down or taken away. I think it’s a very dangerous dog, so I hope it’s taken off the street.” Recovering from Sidney’s death hasn’t been easy. “I’m doing acupuncture and getting therapy. It’s just awful, it’s a big hole in my life,” she said. “But I don’t think I’ll stay this way forever. I just hope some good can come from Sidney’s death, and I think it has, in terms of raising awareness. But you have to keep the awareness up. I think I’m going to do some activism about it at the City Council.” She’s also down on the crusty travelers now, who often use their dogs as money magnets when panhandling. “We have enough real homeless,” she said, “that I don’t think we need kids thinking it’s cool to live on the street, take heroin and have a dog. Just go home. Sorry if I sound like an old NATAS continued on p. 24 EastVillagerNews.com
Suit settled, Cooper committee to focus on restoring free tuition BY PETER KOO
n Wednesday, the board of trustees of The Cooper Union entered into a consent agreement with the Committee to Save Cooper Union and the Office of the New York State Attorney General, according to court papers in New York State Supreme Court. The agreement ends the litigation over the new financial plan adopted by The Cooper Union’s board of trustees in 2013 and allows for the continued sliding-scale scholarship model for undergraduate students while providing for continued steps to strengthen the governance of the institution and for evaluating the possibility for a return to a full-tuition scholarship model. The accord precludes further litigation of the claims asserted in the current lawsuit. Under the agreement, which must be approved by the court, Cooper Union will increase transparency and participation by broadening the involvement of its students, alumni, faculty and staff in the school’s governance. The composition of the board of trustees will include two current students, with voting rights. Also, between five and nine of the trustees will be elected by the alumni through the Cooper Union Alumni Association, with one serving as chairperson or a vice chairperson. The board also will publish annual statements outlining fiscal-year dollar-value and percentage-change performance of Cooper Union’s non-real-estate investments. In addition, the trustees will create a new committee, to be known as the Free Education Committee, to include student and alumni trustees, with an alumni trustee serving as committee chairperson. The committee will be charged with developing a strategic plan aimed at returning The Cooper Union to a full-tuition scholarship model. The plan will be presented in January 2018, with progress reports and interim recommendations presented in January 2016 and 2017. The board of trustees will vote on the strategic plan proposed by the Free Education Committee at its regularly scheduled meeting in March 2018. The agreement acknowledges that, in undertaking a good-faith effort to determine the viability of the full-scholarship model, it is uncertain if or when it could be achieved. In a statement, the school administration said that Cooper “has experienced decades of substantial operating deficits caused by a consistent pattern of cost increases that have exceeded the growth of its revenues.” To provide support and build EastVillagerNews.com
transparency, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will appoint a financial monitor, responsible for evaluating and reporting on Cooper Union’s finances. The financial monitor will make recommendations to the board regarding its proposals on the finances of Cooper Union and will prepare annual reports. In addition, the monitor will provide analysis and opinion on the feasibility of the Free Education Committee’s strategic plan. The settlement includes an acknowledgment that, by entering into the agreement, Cooper Union is not admitting any wrongdoing. Richard Lincer, chairperson of the school’s board of trustees, said, “This agreement will enable us to turn our focus to the future of The Cooper Union in a manner that is inclusive of and transparent to our community. We hope that this framework will enable us to develop and build support to sustain the strengths of this great institution for future generations of students.” In a statement, the Committe to Save Cooper Union said, “We are proud to be part of a settlement finalized today between the school, the Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and C.S.C.U. that aims to return Cooper Union to its tuition-free and merit-based mission; ensure the school’s fiscal recovery; and establish better governance structures.” The effort to reinstitute free tuition, provide a full accounting and implement greater oversight was initiated by a C.S.C.U. lawsuit filed in May 2014, which was overwhelmingly supported by alumni, students and faculty. Schneiderman launched a confidential investigation into the school, brought about by the lawsuit, which culminated in the announcement. Richard Emery, attorney for C.S.C.U., said, “A tragic chapter in this great school’s history has ended. For the past several years, a lack of fiscal restraint, conflicts of interest and a failure of educational vision banished Peter Cooper and his spirit from the school he founded. Cooper built a completely free, merit-based learning institution that encouraged free thinking and produced some of our nation’s greatest minds in the arts and sciences. These recent years abandoned those values in favor of financial manipulation and debt. Because of the litigation settled today, Peter Cooper is back. Justice for Peter Cooper and all those who benefited from his great experiment is now a promise that must be kept. “Now, what Peter Cooper needs is all those who share his vision for free education to come to the aid of his school with their time, talent and donations,” Emery said. “We have the tools to succeed but we need the support to finish the work.”
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Army Corps agrees to study surge barriers BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC
lmost three years after Superstorm Sandy devastated parts of New York and New Jersey, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conduct a $3 million study of the region. The study will also analyze possible protective measures, including a storm surge barrier spanning the five miles between the Rockaways in New York and Sandy Hook in New Jersey. For Robert Trentlyon, a longtime Chelsea resident, former community newspaper publisher and waterfront and park advocate, this is welcome news. “It feels wonderful,” Trentlyon said in a recent interview. “I’m in a constant state of euphoria. I feel that something has been accomplished.” Trentlyon, who helped with the creation of Chelsea Waterside Park and Hudson River Park, has been sounding the alarm about rising sea levels and the need for storm surge barriers since 2009. He had what he termed a “moment of discovery” when he retired that year. “I said, ‘New York is going to be hit by a major, major storm and we’re not ready for it,’ ” he recalled. “ ‘What we really need are probably storm surge barriers.’ I’m not quite sure why I was so prescient.” Trentlyon, who is neither a scientist nor an engineer, embarked on a journey to learn more, and found Stony Brook University professors Douglas Hill and Malcolm J. Bowman. Both are part of the school’s Storm Surge Research Group, which was formed in 2002. While he couldn’t offer technical expertise, Trentlyon had something else to bring to the table: deep roots in the community and access to elected officials. “I had a special talent that none of them had, and that was I knew the territory,” he said. “I knew all the elected officials. I knew all the heads of community boards.” Trentlyon is also the founding president of the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club. A friend asked if he was interested in starting a political club in Chelsea, he recalled of how C.R.D.C. came to be. “I have this terrible habit of whenever I get involved in something, I immediately become the president,” Trentlyon said with a laugh. He began talking to community boards about the need for storm surge barriers, starting with Community Board 4, where he once was a public member. He also gave presentations to Community Boards 1 and 2.
September 3, 2015
A flood protection barrier similar to this one in St. Petersburg could also sport a highway or railway on top linking New York and New Jersey.
By spring 2012, Trentlyon went before a monthly meeting of the Manhattan Borough Board — comprised of community board chairpersons and the borough’s city councilmembers. The board passed a resolution in favor of studying the barriers. Comparing himself to Paul Revere, who warned the colonialists that the British were coming, Trentlyon said, “I’m telling you, ‘The storm surge is coming.’ ” In early 2012, The Villager had dubbed Trentlyon a “storm surge prophet.” Later that year, on Oct. 29, Superstorm Sandy hit the city and became the second most costly U.S. natural disaster, with some estimates putting the storm’s cost at $50 billion. The Army Corps study will cover the New York-New Jersey Harbor and will look at a variety of alternatives to reduce the risk of coastal flooding, according to an Army Corps spokesperson. The study is in its early stages and is expected to take three years, though it could take longer, as well as cost more than the $3 million estimate, given the large area and population, he said. At this time, it is unknown whether storm surge barriers will be implemented, and the study will also look at levees, floodwalls and other
measures to determine which are feasible economically, and also take into account the environment and public acceptability, the spokesperson said. The Army Corps has undertaken the study, he said, as part of President Barack Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget, which recommended doing it. The results of the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study identified New York Harbor and its tributaries as an area warranting study to reduce coastal flooding risk, the spokesperson said. “I’ve been hoping that the Corps would do this for a long time now,” Bowman, a professor of physical oceanography, said. Bowman has been studying storm surge barriers since the 1990s, and after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, wrote an op-ed about them in 2005 for The New York Times. “When I wrote that, I felt something like old Noah in the Bible saying, ‘There’s a big flood coming, you better start building the ark,’ ” he said. He was also a member of the New York City Panel on Climate Change during parts of the Bloomberg administration, during which he said people were hostile to the idea of storm surge barriers, saying that they were too costly and huge. Bowman’s idea was that there
would be one storm surge barrier between Sandy Hook and the Far Rockaways, rising about 20 feet above the water. The gates, Bowman said, swing open and closed like saloon doors, and would be open the majority of time, but shut tight if a storm or hurricane was on its way. Another smaller barrier would be placed on the East River, near Throggs Neck, in the Bronx, he said. Other cities, such as London and St. Petersburg, have storm barrier systems. Trentlyon has visited the Thames River Barrier. “There hasn’t been a drop of water [from flooding] in Central London since they built it,” he said. Both Trentlyon and Bowman said that the St. Petersburg system might be a good example for New York City. That city has a 16-mile flood-protection barrier that has a highway on top of it. Bowman said something similar could be created in this region. For example, the connection between the two states could also be used as an interstate toll road, he offered. Another possibility could be a train between J.F.K. and Newark airports. “It’s not a New York City problem,” Bowman said. “It’s not just a New Jersey problem. It’s a regional problem. Finally, we’re making some progress in that the Army Corps will do such a study.” EastVillagerNews.com
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Glick: We’ll block bulldozers for N.Y.U. project N.Y.U. continued from p. 1
September 3, 2015
PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY
But Glick said the university is the one benefiting from its association with the Village, not vice versa. “N.Y.U. used its location in this iconic neighborhood to attract its student body — not the other way around,” she stressed, adding, “And upon graduation, their students learn they have a mortgage on their education and they suffer forever with a yoke of debt around their neck.” The lawsuit delayed the start of the project for three years. “We have an opportunity to continue dragging it out — by joining hands when the bulldozers come,” the assemblymember declared, to cheers from the crowd. At every turn, the community is facing overdevelopment, she said, from Gansevoort St., where developers want to raise the building heights on a historic, landmarked low-scale block, to Hudson River Park, where, she said, “an individual wants to build a new-fangled pier,” referring to Barry Diller and the Pier55 “arts island” project. Similarly, the city is trying to shoehorn residential buildings into Brooklyn Bridge Park, she said. Concluding her remarks, she told the crowd, “We’ll see you when they come with the bulldozers!” to cheers. Representatives of N.Y.U. student and faculty groups blasted the school for having, in their view, overpaid administrators and underpaid faculty, which, they charged, is hurting the students’ education. Meanwhile, tuition at the Village school now stands at more than $46,000 a year. Mark Crispin Miller, the leader of N.Y.U. Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, delivered cutting comments against outgoing president John Sexton. Miller, like many of the school’s faculty, lives in N.Y.U. housing right in the middle of the future construction zone. Meanwhile, he said of Sexton, “He’s probably on Fire Island in his beach house — built with a million-dollar loan [from N.Y.U.], built across three lots.” The British-born Andrew Hamilton will be taking over as N.Y.U. president this coming January. Contrasting him with Hamilton, Miller scoffed at Sexton — known for freely giving warm bear hugs and sporting a Yankees cap — for his effusiveness and boosterism. “I’m sure he’s got a lot more class than John Sexton,” he said of the new university head, “but that should make us uneasy, because he’s hired by the same board as Sexton, with the same program.” Next, came what was the event’s highlight — or perhaps, some might say, it’s lowlight.
Members of “STOMP” performed in support of the rally.
Finding common cause: Displacement, high rents and tuition will be the focus of a rally on the Lower East Side later this month.
A young woman walked onstage wearing an elaborate, black-feathered mask. It was modeled after the one worn by Mandy, a prostitute in “Eyes Wide Shut,” the 1999 movie starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman about high-end sex parties. A rising N.Y.U. junior, she said that to afford her tuition she had to turn to working as a dominatrix in an S&M den. After the bruises became too much, she switched to being a bodyrub girl in a tantric massage house, where “happy endings” were expected. She is just one of many young college students, she said, who have had to turn to the likes of craigslist, backpage.com and SeekingArrangement just to make ends meet. “Before I became a prostitute, I was
a top student,” she said, her voice trembling slightly. As a first-generation college student, she explained, she didn’t want to give up on her education. But as she continued to do sex work, her grades slipped and she found she was always handing in her papers late. Her sole living parent had expected a settlement from an accident, which was going to help fund her daughter’s education, but it never panned out, and then the mother died. “I tried to transfer — but no university I applied to, either public or private, would take N.Y.U.’s credits,” she said. This was because the department she is in at N.Y.U. is a unique, liberal, creative one, a friend later explained. Most of the other young women she
worked with in the dungeon or tantric massage place were, like her, college students. “Some were Sarah Lawrence girls, some were from CUNY — but the vast majority were from N.Y.U.,” she said. “Masseuse, stripper, escort, prostitute — it is an epidemic. We come to the universities to better our lives. No girl should have to sell herself for a better life.” Right now, she has enough cash to last the next three months. “I am lucky. I’m out,” she said. “But I’m afraid if things don’t work out, I might have to go back.” Finishing her wrenching story, she turned and walked off the stage to sustained applause. “That took a lot of guts — even with a mask on,” Miller said. A recent article in the Atlantic reported that N.Y.U. is the first university to “cross the 1,000 sugar babies” threshold” on SeekingArrangement, a site that connects young women with wealthy “sugar daddies.” Among those at the rally were three women representing three generations of a family from 505 LaGuardia Place, which is located on one of the superblocks where N.Y.U. would build. Sarah Soffer, who grew up in the building with former Councilmember Alan Gerson and attended Stuyvesant High School with him, said she only wished Gerson had been re-elected to a third term, feeling he would have fought the university’s project forcefully, unlike Margaret Chin. “I feel that Chin has a large district with a varied constituency and didn’t realize the damage this would do to N.Y.U. continued on p. 12 EastVillagerNews.com
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September 3, 2015
Cude: Town and gown are united against this N.Y.U. continued from p. 10
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
the community,” she said of N.Y.U. 2031. “I went to all the hearings, and I never heard anyone who wasn’t either in construction or from N.Y.U. speak up for the plan.” Other councilmembers automatically deferred to Chin, since the project is in her district, she said, whereas if Gerson had been fighting it, it wouldn’t have sailed through. Meanwhile, Community Board 1, in Lower Manhattan, actually was begging N.Y.U. to build down there instead, she recalled. Her daughter, Eve Liberman, 14, sat next to actor Matthew Broderick in the City Council three years ago when they both took turns testifying against the project. Asked if her thoughts about the N.Y.U. plan have changed since then, she said no. “No, it hasn’t,” she said. “Back then I was in sixth grade, I was 11. I was traveling out of the neighborhood by subway to school. And if I was doing that, why couldn’t the N.Y.U. students? I’m traveling even farther now to get to school,” she said. In that vein, her mom added that cramming all of the students into a campus “core” in the Village doesn’t serve them well, either. “The nature of coming to New York City as a student is to embody the city at large,” she said. “This is New York — either it’s for you or it isn’t. I think many students see N.Y.U. as a place to explore New York.” Asked for her view, grandma Shirley Soffer — an original tenants of 505 LaGuardia — said, “I don’t agree with the destruction of the community. We need to have the open space.”
Do they have to “throw shade”? Three generations of a Village family all say no to the N.Y.U. plan, from left, Shirley and Sarah Soffer and Eve Liberman.
District leader candidate Terri Cude summed it all up succinctly: “Flowers not towers; parks not perks.” “Everyone talks about town-gown conflict,” she said. “We are town and gown together against a real estate developer that shares its name with a university.” Although none of the opponents’ celebrity supporters were on hand, they did help the cause digitally. Padma Lakshmi, Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo and John Leguizamo all tweeted about the rally, while Matthew Modine — whose number of followers is blowing up with the success of his new series, “Proof” — did a retweet about it. John Beckman, the university’s spokesperson,
countered the charges made at the rally with some statistics. He said N.Y.U. has increased its financial aid budget by 185 percent since 2002 and provides nearly $270 million annually in scholarships. Since 2010, he said, N.Y.U. has reduced the average debt upon graduation by more than $13,000 — with the average debt for an N.Y.U. graduate below the national average. Also, he noted, N.Y.U. for the past 10 years has continued to be ranked in the top five of the Princeton Review’s “dream schools.” Financially, the university’s endowment has tripled since 2002, and both S&P and Moody’s have rated N.Y.U.’s bonds in the AA range, he noted. Plus, 20 percent of incoming freshmen, he pointed out, are the first in their family ever to attend college. N.Y.U. is planning to keep Coles gym, on Mercer St., open through at least Nov. 15. The university plans to start the N.Y.U. 2031 project there, by tearing down Coles and replacing it with a far-larger building, currently known only as the “Zipper Building,” which would have a new gym in its basement level. The current gym serves 3,000 people daily during the school year. N.Y.U. says it will meet the needs of its student athletes and swimmers at its Palladium building on E. 14th St. and “through other arrangements at nearby external venues.” N.Y.U. is also readying a new fitness facility at 404 Lafayette St. that will contain cardio training and recreation classes. Miller protested, “Is there another major university without a proper gym for its entire community? Considering how much it costs to go to N.Y.U., there is no good reason to deprive our students of that indispensable resource.”
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Half of SPURA work could finish in next 3 years BY YANNIC RACK
PHOTO BY YANNIC RACK
ost of the 10 lots that make up the $1 billion SPURA redevelopment project currently underway on the Lower East Side have been lying dormant for decades. But last month, construction work finally began on the first two sites, between Delancey and Grand Sts., after the developers closed on the construction financing at the end of June. The 1.65-million-square-foot project, dubbed Essex Crossing, will add 1,000 housing units to the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area over the next decade and also create a new home for the historic Essex Street Market, as well as a shopping and entertainment corridor along Broome St. Isaac Henderson is a senior project manager at L+M Development Partners, one of the companies that make up Delancey Street Associates, the consortium created to build the entire project. Last week, in an interview with The Villager, he gave a progress report. The first two sites that are now commencing “full-speed ahead,” according to Henderson, are Numbers 2 and 5, located at the southeast corner of Delancey and Essex Sts. and the northwest corner of Clinton and Grand Sts., respectively. “It’s basically a nine-year construction period, but a large portion of it starting right now,” he said. Both building sites will have around 200 rental apartments each, with half of these affordable (the same is true across the entire project), and also house a range of commercial tenants. At Site 2, a 24-story building, a Regal movie theater will share space with the new and bigger home of the Essex Street Market, as well as the “Market Line,” a 20,000-square-foot food-oriented market space. “For the last four or five weeks we’ve been in the process of doing soil removal and beginning the foundation work there,” Henderson said. He also revealed that the new Essex Street Market, which is getting up to 10 new tenants and will open in 2018, won’t have its own subway entrance inside the building as previously hoped. “There’s a subway station right now, it’s going to remain in the same location,” Henderson said. “But the subway will not have direct access to the market. Financially, it wasn’t feasible for everybody to make that happen. “At the end of the day, you’re still going to see that there’s a giant, exciting new market right off the subway,” he added. “And hopefully that will entice people to go in.” In addition, at Site 5, there will be a number of retail uses that haven’t
Excavation work at Site 2 of the SPURA project is underway, above. This site will be home to the future tallest building of the development project, and will also house the relocated Essex Street Market.
been finalized yet, most likely a gym and a supermarket, according to Henderson. Right now, they’re still in the process of beginning early foundation work and completing the demolition of the last remaining building on the project site. Henderson said that, over the next few weeks, they would complete the razing and then proceed with foundation and construction work in September. The two sites are part of the project’s first of three phases, which encompasses 1 million square feet, or roughly half of the overall development. Phase one also includes a 55-unit building where apartments will be for sale, with one-fifth of them affordable, according to Henderson. “We’re looking to close and acquire the property [from the city] in early to mid-December and begin work full-speed ahead during that period of time,” he said. This new building, slated for Site 1, currently a small parking lot at the northeast corner of Broome and Ludlow Sts., will also be the home of a Splitsville bowling alley and a “cultural facility,” yet to be determined. The Pittsburgh-based Andy Warhol Museum originally planned to occupy the 10,000-square-foot space but bowed out of the project earlier this year. “We’re currently looking for a replacement,” Henderson said. The last site where construction is set to kick off this year is Number 6, the easternmost lot at the northeast corner of Broome and Clinton Sts. “That’s going to be 100 units of affordable senior housing, and we hope to begin construction on that in late September, early October,” Henderson said, adding that they are also hoping to attract a medical
facility to the building. The rest of the sites, three of which are north of Delancey St., are not scheduled for construction until 2017. Site 9, the current home of Essex Street Market, north of Delancey St., can’t be developed until the market has relocated to its new home. Similarly, Site 10, the northernmost lot on Essex St. in the project area, currently houses the Commu-
nity Health Network, which holds a lease on the building for another five years. But the buildings on the four lots that make up phase one will all be open long before 2024, the prospective completion date for the last of the developments. “Roughly in the next 30 to 36 months, all those buildings should come online,” Henderson said.
Read t the Easr! Village September 3, 2015
Jeans to Jordans: Fashion-forward...or backward? RHYMES WITH CRAZY BY LENORE SKENAZY
ou get up in the morning and walk out the door clad in history. Every item you’re wearing owes a debt to the genius of yesteryear, just as surely as Elvis owes a debt to Muddy Waters, and vegans owe a debt to vegetarians. The problem is, it’s hard to see how the flappers of the 1920s influenced the hippies of the ’60s, or who bequeathed us the skinny jeans of today, until you take a look at the sweep of fashion history. That’s exactly what Daniel James Cole and Nancy Deihl do in their new book, “The History of Modern Fashion.” “Fashion always interlocks with culture,” says Deihl, director of the master’s program in costume studies at New York University. For instance, adds Cole, who also teaches fashion history at both the university and the Fashion Institute of Technology, just look at the jeans you’re probably wearing right now. (I am!) Denim is a uniform for many of us today, but most likely it was first used in Europe as a boat covering, says Cole. The word “denim” comes from “de Nimes” — French for “from the town of Nimes.”
It was those classy Italians in Genoa who turned the boat cloth into pants. The word “jeans” sounds like “Genes,” the French word for Genoa. While Levi Strauss is often given credit for inventing the iconic pants — which it seems, he didn’t — “He was still a genius,” says Cole. That’s because Strauss realized jeans were the perfect thing to make and market in 1849 San Francisco, epicenter of the gold rush. The miners there spent a lot of their time knee-deep in the river, panning for gold nuggets. The woolen pants they were wearing rotted when wet. Denim, a strong cotton weave, did not. It could handle mud, water, and a lot of wear. And it still can. That’s one of the reasons jeans are still around. “You can buy Levis today that are essentially the same design as the 1850s,” says Cole.
You can also buy jeans that are very different. For their book, six years in the making, Cole and Deihl pored over images from every era. In a 1920s magazine they found an ad for denim gardening overalls in pastel colors for women. Bingo! That’s when denim leapt the gender barrier. By the 1950s, movies starring brooding young men showed those men brooding in blue jeans. Marlon Brando in “A Streetcar Named Desire” and James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause” wore jeans tighter than you’d want to wear if, say, you were panning for gold. But they were perfect for making audiences swoon. Pretty soon if you wanted to look young and sexy, you were wearing jeans, rebelling against the establishment by refusing to wear neatly pressed pants or dresses. The first Gap store opened in 1969, its name a salute to the chasm between the generations. Jeans were the Gap’s specialty. By the disco era, the designer world caught on and gave us jeans by Calvin Klein, Gloria Vanderbilt and Yves Saint Laurent. Now jeans could be fancy. Those who think deeper about fashion than the rest of us have realized clothes provide three things: utility, status and seduction. Jeans do all three. No wonder they’re still so popular. But of course, they’re not the only fashion item out there. The book takes readers on a beautifully documented romp from the 1850s through today, with stops at every decade, from the
Gibson Girl to Kim Kardashian. Each era introduced some new idea of beauty. In the early 1900s, says Deihl, the perfect figure was the hourglass, with a bust and butt almost cartoonishly pillowy. Garments were lined with padding and ruffles to make slim figures look full. As for legs, who cared? No one saw them. Screeech! By the 1920s, the female ideal was the exact opposite — flat flappers were dancing in knee-baring skirts. “Suddenly your legs were on display,” says Deihl. “That was kind of traumatic for people.” Maybe not for the guys, but gals had to figure out how to display a body part they’d never bothered with before. And it hasn’t gotten any easier. The ’30s demanded curves again, and World War II gave us broad-shouldered broads as they took on the jobs the menfolk left behind. The ’50s saw a lot of matchy-matchy perfection. And then came the ’60s as almost an echo of the ’20s — another rebellion against the old guard, complete with even shorter skirts (and more leg for ladies to worry about presenting). The hip-hop revolution of the ’80s gave us tracksuits as fashion, major jewelry for men, and our current obsession with sneakers. Today, says Deihl, fashion is busy mining the past for the next big thing. Seems like it always has. Skenazy is a keynote speaker and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids”
Born and bred: The Beastie Boys rocked my world BY ELANA RABINOWITZ
he first rap album ever to hit number one was birthed in Brooklyn. From three Jewish guys — how was that possible? I grew up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, way before any hipsters burrowed there. The gritty outer borough, where my suburban Jewish camp friends didn’t want to visit, was where my liberal therapist parents bought a 14-room Victorian home for under $40,000 due to white flight. The only thing I enjoyed more than listening in on my mother’s sessions in our living room, was listening to the infectious music of the Beastie Boys. I was a junior in high school when I first heard their music in the back seat of a tan Oldsmobile. I went with a group of seniors to the Kingsway Movie Theater in Gravesend to see “Top Gun,” when my friend put his white cassette inside the car radio. “Brass Monkey, that funky Monkey... .”
September 3, 2015
From the first riff, I was drawn in. Within minutes everyone in the car was singing and bopping their heads fiercely to the beat. “Got a castle in Brooklyn, that’s where I dwell. ...” I liked it. I felt a little funky. At 16, I was just becoming me. This group hit the world a few times over, but for us natives their beats resonated differently. Something about their mere existence, their baseball caps and boyish good looks, gave us street cred. Suddenly, our borough was not a mob spoof or big hair, it was three bright boyz from the county of Kings, and I began to feel like a queen, just due to my zip code. We grew up in a different era, where you could go around the corner and get a Jamaican beef patty, then stop at a bodega to buy something to wash it down. No ID, we could still get a 40 or a Bartles & James wine cooler and sip it in a brown paper bag on a stoop in Park Slope with friends, chain smoking
Newports. Getting whiffs of music pouring out of boom boxes passing by, smirking when a Beastie Boys song was playing. I spent endless nights on the D train, going to see my older brother’s band in the city, forcing me to grow up sooner than I should have. My brother was the same age as MCA; both musicians, they hit the Downtown scene when CBGB was synonymous with the LES. They were white. They were Jewish. They were from Brooklyn and cool. Maybe I was. There were a group of us who didn’t quite fit the mold of how the media portrayed young Brooklynites to be. We wore black, but not in a goth way, and though we were white, we had a little color. We were bridge-and-tunnel before there were million-dollar lofts, but we were aight. Like most teenagers of the time, I memorized every lyric to every song the Beastie Boys ever sang. As I got older and their music meant more, I felt like I was growing up along with
them. Adam Yauch redefined himself, and like any good Jewish boy, became a Buddhist. I left New York, first for college, and then to travel the world. Yet, when “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” came on, no matter where I was, no matter who I was with, I danced and sang like I was home, clenching my fists and raising them high in the air. When I heard that Yauch died, I felt a hole shoot through my body, so deeply that I thought I might not mend. I put on my black hoodie sweatshirt and danced my ass off, like I was 16 again. I danced for the memory of a man I barely knew, for a time that had slipped away all too quickly. Today I conjure up these memories when my confidence wanes. I listen to the Beasties’ songs on my iPod and I am at peace. When I visited the trendy Smorgasbord in Downtown Brooklyn, I found myself at Adam Yauch Park and I smiled. EastVillagerNews.com
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September 3, 2015
The real face of homelessness; People need help
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
or the past week, Diane Majett has been sitting in Pershing Square on a little stool, next to the Citi Bike station by the Park Ave. Viaduct. Her luggage, containing her possessions, is arrayed behind her, and her cat, Buttercup, calmly sits nearby on a little leash. Majett, in her 40s, is one of the city’s nearly 57,000 homeless. Born in Brooklyn and a former supermarket manager, she said she fell on hard times after she decided to follow her passion — art and fashion design. Straphangers, commuters and Citi Bike riders, as they rush by, might notice her knitting, as she was this Wednesday, her bare feet on the warm asphalt. She makes coats and blankets for cats, and also shawls for people. (You can find her creations — modeled, of course, by Buttercup — online at “Represent Buttercup Catwalking Madyna Pet Gear. 2015”.) Incredibly, somewhere hidden behind the pile of luggage, her son, Joshua, 26, was sleeping. He was conceived in a former boyfriend’s apartment on E. Houston St., she said. She admitted that Joshua smokes too
Diane Majett, clamping one of her knitting needles in her teeth while holding up Buttercup, who models Majett’s hand-knit cat coats.
much pot, which is probably why he doesn’t have a job, and that he needs to go into detox. For her part, Majett said that back when she got pregnant with him she was drinking a lot, but she seems to be sober now. Lately, as Mayor de Blasio has come under attack in the daily tabloids — notably the New York Post — for the city’s homelessness problem, the focus has been to portray individuals like The Urinator on the Upper West Side or homeless drunks crashed out on cardboard boxes in Tompkins Square Park. The Post has also negatively profiled the East Village’s crusty travelers
for allegedly turning Taras Shevchenko Place behind Cooper Union into a toilet. And, of course — as covered by The Villager — at least two of the crusties’ pit bulls were recently running wild, leading to the death of photographer Roberta Bayley’s pug Sidney, plus viciously attacking two men trying to defend their dogs. But the overall demonizing of the homeless is not fair to the many homeless, like Majett, who are peaceful and conscientious, yet simply lack a roof over their heads. Majett, like so many of the homeless, doesn’t want to go into one of the city’s shelters, feeling they are unsafe and unpleasant
— and can you blame her? Individuals in the shelters who are troubled need to be “separated” from those who just want to be left alone, she said. More to the point, she needs a real home so she can get her life back on track. It’s said de Blasio is taking a more humane approach toward the homeless — which is great. But the question is: What is being done about people like Diane Majett? She told us that, in the week she has been sitting there, no outreach worker from the city has contacted her about helping her get off the street. The Grand Central Partnership business improvement district has told her she can fill out an application for housing, but nothing is available right now. We’re not professionals in the field, but she seems to us like a perfect candidate for supportive housing. But right now, she seems to be falling through the cracks — and it’s happening in broad daylight in one of the busiest places on the planet. In short, let’s look beyond the sensationalistic tabloid headlines about The Urinator et al. There are hundreds and thousands of Diane Majetts out there who need help — and, above all, permanent housing. Is anyone doing anything to help them? In the meantime, if you see Majett in Pershing Square, check out her cat coats. The prices are negotiable.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Time to snip those pits To The Editor: Re: “Crusty pit bull victims hurt and howling mad” (news article, Aug. 20): Roberta Bayley, whose dog died after allegedly being attacked by a pit bull, suggests that it may take a pit bull eating a celebrity baby for the city to do something to prevent more attacks by unrestrained dogs. But pit bulls and other dogs have attacked and killed babies — and each one was a
celebrity to his or her family. The city is being pressured to increase “save rates” at its animal shelters at any cost, making it much more likely that aggressive and dangerous dogs will remain on the streets and even be released into the community. This pressure also results in animals being handed over to anyone who will take them, including people who are unable to properly care for them. Many shelters are concentrating solely on statistics and throwing out vital safeguards in attempts to avoid euthana-
sia. Irresponsible “life at any cost” policies are a formula for more suffering, not saving lives. The humane way to reduce the need for euthanasia, as well as the incidence of dog bites in the city, is to focus on spaying and neutering — which prevents more animals from being born only to end up homeless, and can reduce dogs’ aggression, making them less likely to attack. We must work together to push for mandatory spay/neuter laws, lobby to outlaw pet shops and puppy mills, and make sure that every animal in the community is sterilized and being humanely cared for. Visit www.PETA.org to learn more. Teresa Chagrin Chagrin is an animal care and control specialist, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 212-2292790 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.
A natural spot for Biden to put out ‘feelers’ for a run? 16
September 3, 2015
Rent and creativity: The coffeehouse connection TALKING POINT BY STEVEN WISHNIA
within walking distance — people didn’t have to commute, and could run into each other repeatedly and spontaneously. This could be summed up as the need for a community — of audience, collaborators and colleagues. It’s much more crucial in the collective arts, like music and theater, but it also benefits the more solitary creative types, like writers and cartoonists. Lower Manhattan was so fertile for much of the 20th century because it contained multiple, overlapping genres and subcultures — punk rock and free jazz, Nuyorican poetry and Off Off Broadway theater. Replacing that kind of community is made much more difficult by landlords using young artists as pawns for gentrification, with the yuppie bishops and castles inexorably following as they advance stop by stop along the L train. That process also segregates neighborhoods by age. The need for cheap rent and community is about much more than the arts. The New York of the ’70s was crime-ridden and decaying, but it was a place where if you were working, you could afford an apartment; if you had a middle-class income, you could afford a nice one. No more. The economy is broken for many of us. Having skills no longer means being able to find a decent-paying job. Working no longer means making enough to pay rent. The solution to this isn’t job training, “giving peo-
ple the tools they need to compete.” No matter how educated people are, many will still be deli-counter workers, cabdrivers, clothing-store clerks, home healthcare aides and janitors. They need places to live, too. Do we want to be a city where people can raise children, where the young can live independently and get to know the people who were there before them, where the old can live around people who’ve known them for decades? Or do we want to be an American version of Dubai, a place where all the good spots are occupied by millionaires, and servant-class workers are crammed into rooms on the outskirts? What can be done? For residents, a good start would be stronger rent controls and the construction of massive amounts of genuinely affordable new housing. That means rents low enough for the half of New York households that make less than $50,000 a year, the one-third who live on less than $600 a week, instead of the current formula, which subsidizes $3,000-a-month apartments as “below market.” For businesses, some form of commercial rent control would help. None of this is likely to be politically possible without quasi-revolutionary change, one that creates a society that respects working people and their leisure instead of worshipping the tsunami of money that “creatively” destroys everything in its way.
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
here are more coffeehouses with live music and poetry in Tryon, North Carolina, population 1,200, than there are in all of Greenwich Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. The Trade St. Gallery and Coffeehouse, where eight years ago I was guest bassist for an Appalachian swing band called Cantankerous, still exists. Think about that for a minute. The Village and San Francisco’s North Beach were the places where the Beats adapted the Italian social institution of espresso coffeehouses into a venue for live poetry, for spieling skeins of spontaneous bop prosody. There are none left, at least as far as I know. Gizzi’s on W. Eighth St., which closed around three years ago, is the last one I remember. Who would have ever thought that Staten Island would have more coffeehouses with poetry readings than Greenwich Village? I’m referring to the rather hippiefied ETG bookstore/ cafe in Tompkinsville, down the block from where Eric Garner was killed. The coffeehouse as a place for live performance or simply to hang out for a few hours is no longer economically sustainable in most of Manhattan. “You can only charge so much for a cup of coffee,” a co-owner of the Big Cup — whose yellow walls with daisy-age painted flowers provided a haven for gay men and others in Chelsea — said when it closed in 2005. Its rent had more than tripled in the 11 years it was open. The model that is sustainable once commercial rents rise that high is a place where you sit for 25 minutes and leave, where people are far more likely to be on Facebook than having a conversation with an in-the-flesh human. “Neighborhoods change, and these coffeehouses are being replaced by others,” goes the answer. “You just have to go to Brooklyn.” But they’re not being replaced. Yes, there are places like Espresso 77 in Jackson Heights (which occasionally features live rembetica music, the Greek counterpart of 1930s viper blues), but coffeehouses that are social and artistic centers are inevitably short-lived. They have been reduced to transitional businesses for gentrification. They appear soon after the first artist types arrive in Flatbush or Bushwick, and get pushed out when the real money comes in. If they are
replaced, it’s usually by a Starbucks. The Flying Saucer, a UFO-themed coffeehouse on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, where I wrote several bits of my second novel, disappeared around the time its block became dominated by the kind of boutiques that have one rack of severely expensive dresses. The existence of coffeehouses as venues and hangouts is one aspect of how cheap rent is essential to the social ecology of both the arts and the city as a whole. To have a viable scene in any of the arts — music, theater, writing, painting, whatever — artists need to be able to survive and do their work; to have places to perform; to be able to find an audience; and ultimately, to have a community. Cheap rent is essential for all of these. First, unless you’re already commercially successful, being an artist requires working a second job — writing, rehearsing, drawing, plus hustling to get gigs or published — on top of your day job. If the amount of work you have to do just to make your rent leaves you drained, you can’t create. Second, venues that don’t have Damoclean overhead can afford to put on more varied genres and lesser-known performers — or merely survive. The math is simple: A venue paying $15,000 a month rent has to bring in 50 people spending $10 every single night before any other expenses. (If 50 people doesn’t sound like much, there are hundreds of talented musicians in the city who are lucky to draw 10.) Anyone who has followed the music scene here over the last decade can list the losses: CBGB, Tonic, the Lakeside Lounge, Southpaw in Park Slope, and a slew of do-it-yourself spaces in Williamsburg, including 285 Kent, Death by Audio, and the Brooklyn Rod and Gun Club. The presence of big names obscures the destruction of the roots, the places where younger people develop their craft and older ones who haven’t “made it” keep at it. Yes, you might have to wade through a lot of mediocrity and amateurishness to find the gems, but this is the soil that nurtures them and encourages them to keep going. Third, venues need audiences who have time and money to see them, who aren’t too broke or overworked to come out, or spun out to the far reaches of the city, where getting home means an hour on the late-night subway. While it’s healthy that live music, poetry, theater and art have blossomed outside Manhattan, one reason Greenwich Village, the East Village and the Lower East Side were once such fertile creative communities was that so much was
Big ballet in Tribeca The French street artist JR recently installed a large-scale photo mural of a ballerina on a 75-foot-by-100-foot wall in Tribeca. The artwork is on the side of a residential building at 100 Franklin St. JR also recently made a documentary on ballet, “Les Bosquet.” September 3, 2015
Exodus of Jewish businesses — plus a pizzeria
PHOTOS BY CLAYTON PATTERSON
Jeffrey Markinson at Silver Monuments, which will be moving to Queens.
Slices joint can’t cut it with new rent: Vic’s Pizza will be closing.
here I live, it used to be kind of a tombstone place — a monument place. It’s kind of like the end of the old Jewish businesses,” said Clayton Patterson, the Lower East Side documentarian. Silver Monuments, at the corner of Essex and Stanton Sts., is in the process of moving to Queens. The company had been on the Lower East Side since the 1960s. About five years ago, after demolition of the building to its north destabilized M. Schames & Son Paints’s northern wall at 3 Essex St., the business moved from its historic home to a new location at 90 Delancey St. The paint store had been at the Essex St. address since 1927. Meanwhile, a bit farther to the east, Vic’s Pizza, near the corner of Grand
September 3, 2015
and Essex Sts., will also be closing after 45 years after its lease expired. It has always been a favorite of highschool kids from the Seward Park Campus across the street, blue-collar workers and many others. Patterson hopes it will reopen somewhere nearby — but with today’s skyrocketing rents, who really knows? “All the small, eccentric businesses on the Lower East Side are disappearing,” he said. “And so many Jews have moved out. And now in my area, there are a billion dollars’ worth of hotels. It’s almost incomprehensible how much has been lost. It’s like Hurricane Sandy came in and swept everything away.”
Losing the local color: M. Schames & Son Paints had to relocate about five years ago. EastVillagerNews.com
Fall Back: Annual Autumn Festivals
PHOTO BY LEE RAYMENT
Somewhere that’s green: Communal Spaces sets its short play fest in Manhattan and Brooklyn community gardens.
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
ike fall, that fleeting sweet spot between summer ’s messy swelter and winter ’s bone-chilling cold, we’re keeping this introduction brief — all the better to get right down to the business of presenting our totally subjective picks from the robust harvest of fall festivals in and around Manhattan. It begins!
COMMUNAL SPACES: A GARDEN PLAY FESTIVAL
Green gathering places are an integral part of the show (and sometimes get cast as central charEastVillagerNews.com
acters), when Communal Spaces presents short plays in Manhattan and Brooklyn community gardens. The Alphabet City venue gets title billing, in Sarah Bernstein’s “Catfight at the Oasis,” which has long-suffering but dedicated garden administer Joanne tasked with brokering peace between the pro-cat lobby and bird fanciers who want to ban feline strays from Green Oasis Community Garden. Angela Santillo makes her fifth consecutive contribution to Communal Spaces with “Welcome to The Fall,” in which a contemporary tour guide experiences fallout from a smokejumper ’s 1973 crash landing on property occupied by a meteor strike survivor. The plays run at 2:30 & 3:30 p.m., respectively, in Green Oasis
PHOTO BY WHITNEY BROWNE
Limited stage space serves as inspiration for DANCE NOW artists.
Garden (E. Eighth St. btw. Aves. C & D). Charly Evon Simpson’s “An Apple Today” finds two sisters meeting at Warren St. Marks Garden (619 Warren St. in Park Slope, Brooklyn) to speak in confidence. When they encounter a former classmate, memories of playground romances and acts of emotional agression come flooding back. You’re already there for the 5 p.m. “Apple,” so it’s job accomplished when Dominic Finocchiaro’s “enter a garden” beings at 6. “Leaves turn from green to red to brown and fall to the ground. Life happens.” That’s all the playwright is divulging about the plot. Free. All plays run Sept. 12–27, Sat. & Sun. For more info, as well as a description of what’s on the boards
(or brick pathways) in Bed-Stuy’s Classon Ful-Gate Community Garden and La Perla Garden (76 105th St. in Manhattan), visit communitygardenproject.wordpress.com.
DANCE NOW AT JOE’S PUB
From its first year in 1995, those who’ve created content for DANCE NOW have been both constrained and inspired by the festival’s unconventional venues — which included swimming pools, firehouses, and galleries — until landing on its feet for good at Joe’s Pub, where the “less is more” mantra came with a mandate for FESTIVALS, continued on p.20 September 3, 2015
No drama involved in this guide to FESTIVALS, continued from p. 19
COURTESY ESPERIMENTI DANCE COMPANY
Feast on a Mediterranean diet of theater and dance, Sept. 8-13 at Between the Seas. Pictured: “Per…Inciso” grooves to Italian pop songs.
“brevity, clarity and effect.” The 2015 edition will feature contributions from 50 New York-based choreographers who’ve presented over the past 20 years. Some, such as David Parker and Jeffrey Kazin will revive works (“Old Fashion Wedding,” a duet from 2009), while others will reimagine them (Heidi Latsky and Lawrence Goldhuber ’s “Head Duet”). Established artists like Aszure Barton, Doug Elkins, and Ellis Wood (once up-and-comers) will be joined by emerging choreographers including Jordan Isadore, Cori Marquis, and Donnell Oakley. At 7 p.m. Wed. Sept. 9–Sat. Sept. 12 at Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette St. btw. E. Fourth St. & Astor Place). Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Encore Performance of 12 “producer’s picks” Thurs. Sept 24. ($25 advance, $30 at the door). To order: 212-967-7555 or joespub.com. Also visit dancenownyc.org.
THE WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK FOLK FESTIVAL
Veterans of the 1960s Greenwich Village scene share the bill with young groups from today’s New York City, at folk promoter Eli Smith’s fifth annual forward-looking throwback to the time when “the likes of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger came together on Sunday afternoons to play music and socialize in the park.” From a stage in the southeast portion of the park, by the Garibaldi statue, the legendary John Cohen (of the New Lost City Ramblers) will appear with old time string band The Down Hill Strugglers. Also booked for the afternoon: Balkan and gospel-influenced singer and songwriter Feral Foster; country blues guitar and fiddle duo Hoodoo Honey Drippers; Jalopy Theatre house jug band The Whisky Spitters; and square dance caller Alex Cramer, who’ll guide you in matters of partner-spinning and do-si-doing. Free. Sun. Sept. 13, 1–5 p.m. in Washington Square Park. Visit WSPFolkFest.com.
BETWEEN THE SEAS PHOTO BY PAULA REY JIMENEZ
The third annual Chelsea Film Festival, Oct. 15-18, focuses on women in film and media.
September 3, 2015
Day in and day out, they say a balanced Mediterranean diet is the best thing for you — but there’s
nothing wrong with binging once a year, at least when it comes to that region’s culture. The fifth annual Between the Seas festival returns to The Wild Project with six days and nights of theater, dance, and performance art. From Catalonia, “Dreams of the Mediterranean” is an atmospheric storytelling performance in which illustrator Borja González speed paints, with sand, on a light table. Ephemeral images are projected on a giant screen, as large-scale puppets and the live music of pianist Roc Sala swirl around him. In the New York premiere of “A Palo Seco,” the contemplative words and fiery movement of Rebeca Tomas express her inner dialogue about motherhood and the Spanish art of flamenco. Lebanese playwright Issam Mahfouz’s “The Dictator” gets a new English translation and minimalist staging. The 1969 absurdist exploration of tyranny (eerily applicable to our 2016 presidential race) concerns a “mentally disturbed individual under the illusion that he is humanity’s long-awaited savior.” A creative team from France and Catalonia has built “Hearts Beating Like Drums” around the stories of women impacted by living through war. A series of low- or no-cost discussions and performances on the first day address the experiences of Mediterranean refugees and migrants. Sept. 8–13 at The Wild Project (195 E. Third St. btw. Aves. A & B). For tickets (most shows $20, $15 with student/senior ID), call 212352-3101 or thewildproject.com. Full schedule at betweentheseas.org.
WEST AFRICAN CULTURAL FESTIVAL at CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF THE ARTS
This edition of CMA’s Cultural Festival series puts the spotlight on Nigeria, with events throughout the museum — including performances from Brooklyn Music School’s World Percussion Department, the chance to design and animate your own Ibibo Puppet in the Media Lab, and workshops teaching techniques to make Yoruba masks, Adire cloth fabric designs and a traditional Nigerian FESTIVALS, continued on p. 21 EastVillagerNews.com
fall comedy, dance, theater & more FESTIVALS, continued from p. 20
board game. Other fall Cultural Festivals are Caribbean (Oct. 25), Mexican (Day of the Dead theme, Nov. 1), Indigenous People (Nov. 15) and Native American (Nov. 22). Sun., Sept. 20. All Cultural Festivals take place 10 a.m.–5 p.m. at the Children’s Museum of the Arts (103 Charlton St. btw. Hudson & Greenwich Sts.). Free, with general admission (infants free, $12 for ages 1–65, senior admission is pay-asyou-wish). Call 212-274-0986 or visit cmany.org.
THE CHELSEA FILM FESTIVAL
It was named for the place where every screening happens, and where its founders live — but the shorts, documentaries and features chosen for the Chelsea Film Festival have always had an international flavor. This year ’s edition, the third, retains that programming penchant while dedicating itself to the theme of women in film and media. A day of panel discussions (Oct. 17, 10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.) will focus on emerging international markets, On Demand distribution, and the value of financing films made by women. Before the festival, free panels (topics to be announced) take place at the W. 14th St. Apple Store on Sept. 30, Oct. 7 and Oct. 14. Establishing a presence far past its four days in October, CFF will be launching a new monthly series at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea (23rd St. & Eighth Ave.) — to debut on Nov. 9 with a 7 p.m. screening of the 2015 Grand Prix Winner. Future installments will present an indie feature that has appeared in the festival’s programming, followed by cast/filmmaker Q&A and a networking reception. Oct. 15–18 at the SVA Theatre (333 W. 23rd St. btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.) and other Chelsea locations. Visit chelseafilm.org, where the roster of films will be announced in midSept.
THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY’S DREAM UP FESTIVAL
Some people never go below 14th St., while others refuse to EastVillagerNews.com
PHOTO BY JANA MARCUS
An immigrant family relocates to California, in the musical memoir “Escaping Queens” (part of Theater for the New City’s Dream Up Festival).
venture above it. For the first time in its six-year history, Theater for the New City’s Dream Up Festival ministers to both stubborn groups, while encouraging them to broaden their horizons. Although most of the action is staged in TNC’s sprawling East Village home, some of it takes place at a Hell’s Kitchen venue equally adept at multitasking (the Producers’ Club Theaters and Bar). So there’s no excuse not to catch one of Dream Up’s 27 musical, drama, improv, dance or aerial performances (they’ve also got a “Scratch Night” series of works in development). Comedy is not pretty, Steve Martin told us with his 1979 album title, hinting at the ugly reality that life as a stand-up comic is largely about treading water once you leave that little island with the mic, the laughs, and the applause. “The Boom” takes place in a shabby condo owned by the management of Pittsburgh’s Steel City Funny Factory. Three comics on the bill are thrown together: a past-his-prime veteran, his second banana pal, and a new guy whose viral video appeal both eludes and confuses the old guard. This dynamic of foxhole friendship and cutthroat competitiveness is something the cast and creators of “Boom” know intimately (though they’ve learned to laugh about it). Club circuit comic, TV pundit and ghostwriter Vinnie Nardiell makes his debut as a playwright, FESTIVALS, continued on p.22
PHOTO BY ANGELA MCCONNELL
You’re about to get lucky. Style, seduction and skin are on display at the New York Burlesque Festival.
COURTESY 1ST IRISH
Des Bishop’s “Made in China” charts his quest to learn the language for a Chinese stand-up audience. Part of the 1st Irish Theatre Festival. September 3, 2015
Fall festivals you won’t want to leaf leave seem also figure into Hassem Khemiri’s immigrant and tolerance-themed “Invasion!,” which has its ensemble of four playing multiple characters. Teenagers Yousef and Arvind are the main focus, as they navigate New York’s hip-hop culture while challenging stereotypes. An Italian/Puerto Rican immigrant family discovers you can’t go home again, after “Escaping Queens” and settling in California. The musical memoir of Joe Ortiz — a melting pot of Latin beats, Sicilian ballads, bluesy riffs, jazz and 1950s radio hits — makes its New York debut after a well-received run at Cabrillo Stage in Aptos, California. The Dream Up festival plays through Sept. 20 (but not every show runs until then). Mon-Fri, 6:30 & 9:30 p.m. and Sat./Sun. at 2, 5, & 8 p.m. At Theater for the New City (155 First Ave. btw. 9th & 10th Sts.) and the Producers’ Club (358 W. 44th St. btw. 8th & 9th Aves.). For tickets ($12, $15, $18, $20), visit dreamupfestival.org or call 212-686-4444.
NEW YORK BURLESQUE FESTIVAL BLACKROCKCOALITION.ORG
The Black Rock Coalition celebrates its 30th year, with daily events in September.
FESTIVALS, continued from p. 21
with Amoralists Theater Co. member Mark Riccadonna directing for the first time. Working comics Dan Stern, DJ Hazard and Richie Byrne play the quick-thinking, hair-trigger trio. Dream Up mines matters of home, family, assimilation and reinvention in a multitude of productions, including Rachel Graf Evans’ drama “Inch by Inch,”
which gives Bridget a house and a garden — and the chance to dig up old questions about identity — when her mother ’s death requires a hasty return to her old childhood home. Andrea Fulton’s “Roof-Top Joy” is a musical comedy/drama concerning two new tenants of an upscale Brooklyn high-rise who discover what’s below the thin veneer of wealth and power that lurks behind every door. People who aren’t what they
You may have the right to go topless in Times Square, but there’s a good chance those painted ladies would land in the hoosegow if their bare-breasted busking was accompanied by the sort of bumping, grinding, twirling tassels and unabashed sexuality on display at the New York Burlesque Festival. Those who like their skin with a side of seduction are set to get lucky, when the fest’s 13th edition celebrates “glitter and glamour in Gotham with over 100 performers from around the Globe!” Brooklyn is the location for a teaser and premiere party on Thurs./Fri., with a “Saturday Spectacular” at B.B. King Blues
Club (W. 42nd St.), a free Sun. 2–7 p.m. showcase/bazaar at The Tippler (in Chelsea Market), and The Golden Pastie Awards at The Highline Ballroom (W. 16th St.). Some featured talent you’ll be able to finally put a face (or other body parts) to the name: Bunny Buxom & Schaffer the Darklord, Sizzle Dizzle, Dr. Lucky, Francine “The Lucid Dream,” Tigger, Julie Atlas Muz, Dirty Martini, Matt Knife, Scotty the Blue Bunny, Gal Friday, Kitten LaRue, and Cherie Nut. Sept. 24–27. Tickets are sold through each venue, with a four-day VIP pass ($125.19) available at thenewyorkburlesquefestival.com.
ORIGIN’S 1ST IRISH THEATRE FESTIVAL
Forget everything you know about entertainment that flows from the Irish people’s supposed penchant for pain and suffering, high drama, and excessive drink. A river of tears most certainly runs through Origin Theatre Company’s 1st Irish, but the salty stream is from excessive laughter — because comedy is the theme for this eighth edition of the city’s only theater festival dedicated to Irish playwrights. Dublin’s New Play Company returns for the fourth time, with Donald O’Kelly’s “Fishamble,” a comedic road trip-cumdark thriller that finds an ex-con and a nun being chased across Ireland, as they search for a roll of film. Comedian Des Bishop, who’s made a name (and a niche) for himself by creating solo performances based on his immersive cultural experiences, brings “Made in China” to 1st Irish, after its March 2015 limited run at The FESTIVALS, continued on p. 23
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Spring forward to fall festivals FESTIVALS, continued from p. 22
Barrow Street Theatre. The solo show recalls his travels to China on a quest to learn Mandarin, in order to perform stand-up for Chinese audiences. The lessons must have stuck: Bishop has relocated to his native Flushing, in order to launch a Chinese-centric comedy club called “The Humor Section,” at Huang Cheng Gen Tea House (135-14 Northern Blvd.). Opening weekend is Sept. 26 & 27. See desbishop.net for more info. Limerick’s Bottom Dog Theatre brings “Language UnBecoming a Lady” to Chelsea’s the cell (a frequent presenter of Irish subject matter). The “Lady” is Liam O’Brien, who plays an aging drag queen hunkered down in her dressing room, recalling pivotal moments of her life. Equal parts tart and sweet, Eugene Pack’s “Celebrity Autobiography” series at The Triad (which features celebrities reading passages from often howlingly bad celeb-written bios) goes all-Irish for one night only. The precise tome is under wraps — but announced readers include Michael Urie (“Buyer and Cellar”) and Tate Donovan (“24”) Ensconced at Union Square’s DR2 while his W. 22nd St. Irish Repertory Theatre undergoes a game-changing renovation, director Ciaran O’Reilly will premiere a 1st Irish entry just two weeks after the having helmed IRT’s long run (closing Sept. 5) of “The Weir,” a bone-chilling collection of one-upmanship ghost stories told by a country pub crowd. “The Quare Land” is a comedy by John McManus, about a prickly Irish farmer who — while taking his first bath in four years — is interrupted by a golf course developer intent on getting a contract signed. The 1st Irish Theatre Festival runs through Oct. 4. For tickets and schedule, visit 1stirish.org.
AND SO VERY MUCH MORE
To celebrate its 30th year, the volunteer-powered Black Rock Coalition is presenting 30 concerts during the 30 days of September, in recognition of how “Black musicians have a central, vital role to play in shaping edgy, righteous, driving rock.” Festival co-founder and guitarist Vernon Reid (of Living Colour), Tamar-kali and Pillow Theory are among the artists EastVillagerNews.com
PHOTO BY MATHILDE DELAHAYE
Iranian artist Ali Moini makes tension tangible, in his Crossing the Line Festival performance.
on the roster, along with listening sessions, retrospectives, showcases and a BAMCafé (Sept. 18–19) concert from the BRC Orchestra, playing the Jimi Hendrix “Band of Gypsys” album. See blackrockcoalition.org for more info. The New York Comedy Festival (Nov. 10–15) schedule includes Billy Crystal conversing with David Steinberg, and new “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah (both at Town Hall). In a festival replete with marquee names (Bill Maher, Margaret Cho, John Leguizamo), the must-see is Kathy Griffin, in a Nov. 12 Carnegie Hall gig that will hopefully have her conducting an acerbic postmortem on her time in the main “Fashion Police” chair. Purchase tickets and access the full schedule at nycomedyfestival. com. The 10 shows presented by The New York Gypsy Festival (Sept. 18–Oct. 4) include Georgian folk ensemble Zedashe, NYC’s Underground Horns and Slavic Soul Party, and the NYC debut of French/ North African brass orchestra Fanfarai. Ticket prices and venues vary. Visit nygypsyfest.com. Thespis, a competition-structured festival that brings new work to the stage, takes place through Sept. at Hudson Guild Theater (411 W. 26th St.). Playing Sept. 14, 16 and 19, “Brush Strokes” is a musical that finds aging art lovers Virginia and Eric drawn together, but wary of their controversial pasts. See thespisnytheaterfestival.com for tickets and the full schedule of shows. In collaboration with found-
er/curator Peter Michael Marino (whose “Late With Lance” just played the Edinburgh Festival Fringe), The Peoples Improv Theater brings back their loopy and eccentric (often to the point of insane) SOLOCOM Festival of one-person storytelling, music, stand-up, improv and cabaret performances — Nov. 20–22 at their E. 24th St. home base, and the newly-opened PIT Loft on W. 29th St. The shows (dozens of them) range from 15 to 60 minutes. Get info at thepit-nyc.com/ solocom. The NYC nonprofit service and advocacy organization Community Access holds its 11th Annual Mental Health Film Festival at Village East Cinema (Second Ave. & 12th St.) on Sept. 26. The features and shorts, all addressing life with mental illness, include the US premiere of “No Letting Go,” about a family whose middle child is diagnosed as bipolar.
Filmmakers and cast members for the features will be in attendance for an audience Q&A. Visit MentalHealthFilmFest.nyc for the full schedule, and communityaccess. org for info on the event sponsor. The French Institute Alliance Française cultural and language center ’s Crossing the Line Festival showcases the work of interdisciplinary artists from around the world, in a variety of premiere venues and public spaces. Iranian artist Ali Moini’s “Lives” (Sept. 29 & 30 at NY Live Arts on W. 19 St.) is a dance of tension between his fictional, political, mythical and real selves — while NY-based Elana Langer ’s “WhatILiveBy” is a free, interactive happening that will pop up at festival events and kiosks throughout the city, all in the service of launching her fantastic new “product-less” brand. Visit fiaf.org for the full schedule of performances (Sept. 10–Oct. 4) and venues.
September 3, 2015
Wonton rent hike, taxes force out Charlie Mom CHARLIE continued from p. 1
1982. Its odd “L”-shaped configuration pleasantly muffled the avenue’s traffic hum and also distanced its customers from its own fast-paced reception desk, where efficient Chinese women patiently answered phones, packed take-out orders and dispatched bike messengers. A sharp right turn into Charlie Mom’s sunny brick-walled enclosure facing W. 11th St. led patrons to an old-school dining experience that’s become a rarity: no music, no eye-popping monitors, no rushing. Whether it was a cast party for 20, a jolly family celebration or a private tête-à-tête, waiters served with great dispatch and neither the kitchen nor the restroom was an embarrassment. So why did they close? Was it the competition across the street, from newly opened Shu Han Ju, at 465 Sixth Ave. “No, Shu serves spicy Szechuan-style, oily food, very different from our chef,” explained David, a former manager. In a hushed tone, he added, “Rent going too, too high!” But Conrad Bradford, an associate
Charlie Mom, at Sixth Ave. and W. 11th St., closed last Wednesday after 33 years at the location.
broker at Miron Properties, who has leased commercial space in the Village and Midtown to many restaurateurs, had the advantage of an insid-
Punk with bad pit is dead NATAS continued from p. 6
fogy, but that’s how I feel.” As for Trachtenberg, in addition to feeling furious about what happened to Bayley’s dog, he said he’s tired of the crusties hunkering down in front of their building, which they like to do since it’s right next to a 2 Bros. $1 pizzeria. “This is a super-sad ending to a super-sad story, but it is an ending,” he said. “There are no winners here or really anything to learn from this jackass’s death. Maybe there’s some closure here, but I’m not even sure about that.” There are three types of crusties, in his experience: locals, travelers and ones who just come in from Jersey or the suburbs for the summer and wind up spiraling down while “living in the dirt.” “These kids don’t take care of themselves and really don’t have the ability to take care of a dog,” he said. “They s--- and piss on our building’s front door. They are very agro ‘spanging’ for cash. They are loud and don’t care who they disturb. Trust me, all of this will come out when a crusty kid’s dog attacks a child. It’s just a matter of time. I’ve seen many close calls.” In related news, concerns are growing about a homeless encampment
September 3, 2015
around P.S. 63 and McKinley Playground, on E. Third St. between First Ave. and Avenue A. Garrett Rosso, the manager of the Tompkins Square Park dog run, said “a whole mélange of homeless kids” are camping out there, as well as a family that sleeps on a mattress, plus travelers during the summer. “Debris and human excrement surround the park’s vegetation at McKinley Playground and line the steps of P.S. 63 elementary school,” he said. “Meanwhile, three off-leash pit bulls rummage around the playground while their owners sleep in the park. It was so bad last year that the school had to cancel fire drills because of the number of campers and debris outside the school. Now the campers have moved into the park playground. “The school’s playground is jointly operated with the Parks Department,” Rosso noted. “Who is empowered to clean this park, as well as the two elongated sidewalk bridges in front and behind the school? The sidewalk bridges for school construction have been filled with campers, off-leash dogs and debris for the past year, which is hazardous to pedestrians and students.” The school grounds and park need to be cleaned, not periodically, but every single day, he stressed.
er’s view. Three years ago, when he showed Han a vented space in the East Village that was available at a below-market rate, Bradford learned that Charlie Mom’s current lease obligated the owner to pay 65 percent of the real estate tax increase. In a 12-month period, that tax had jumped from $80,000 a year to $110,000. “It’s a combination of factors here,” observed Bradford. “Mr. Han is now 87 years old; he has a staff of 23, many of whom wish to retire; real estate taxes went sky-high; and whenever a lease ends, many merchants will find the new rent increases insupportable. “What’s crushing entrepreneurs and small businesses in Manhattan,” he added, “is the burden of a serious rent, along with the double whammy of high, unpredictable taxes. The only safe harbor is to buy a building or settle into a commercial condo.” Interior decorator Martin Hutner, who moved to Greenwich Village in 1969 and recalls partying with Marlon Brando at Trude Heller’s famed club, at Sixth Ave. and Ninth St., agrees. His suppertime standby, Gene’s Restaurant, at 73 W. 11th St., is next door to Charlie Mom and has been serving “Continental Cuisine of Distinction since 1919” — thanks to a long-ago purchase of their premises. Marilyn Dorato, the former Greenwich Village Block Associations president — whose in-laws enjoyed running the classic West Village hangout Fedora’s for several decades, and who also owned their stately townhouse at 239 W. Fourth St. — was shocked to hear about Charlie Mom’s demise. “I’m so sad,” she said. “We ordered from there several times a month and I am going to miss their Peking duck.” Leslie and David Burgin, members
of the W. Ninth St. Block Association, who moved to the Village in 1967 and were die-hard Charlie Mom fans, also registered their dismay. “For me, they were an institution,” Leslie said. “The staff treated everyone well, the tables were nicely spaced, and it wasn’t so dim that older people cannot read the menu. We patronize many neighborhood places to enable them to stay in business. Then they vanish anyway. What can we do?” Longtime Village resident and activist Gloria Gilbert, noting that one of Charlie Mom’s pluses was that they never nuked the vegetables, emphasized that the Village is losing the affordable, ethnically diverse eateries that used to be a big attraction. “If only we could do something to stop one more bank, nail salon or CVS from eating up this neighborhood,” she lamented. Ironically, lower Sixth Ave. was once darkened by an elevated railway that significantly reduced real estate values — even long after it was demolished, leaving many three-story 19th-century houses intact, including the Charlie Mom’s address. In 1892, two disgruntled landlords fought back. Maria and Henry Hoops had improved a Sixth Ave. property near St. Joseph’s Church, only to see their investment decline in value, thanks to the steam, smoke, cinders and vibrations from the overhead trains. So they sued the Metropolitan Elevated Railway Company, charging it for lost real estate income, as well as the loss of the peaceful enjoyment of their multistory dwelling, hidden beneath the sunless tracks and unrentable at prime market rates. Now if only we could get that dirty old El back. EastVillagerNews.com
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Gotta try the Burrata — a perfect lump of gooey, salty mozzarella on deliciously ripe local tomatoes.
Frankly, Supper is my fave EATS BY NEELOU MALEKPOUR
nofficially, Supper is the most successful member of Frank Prisinzano’s East Village Italian restaurant empire, and it’s the perfect date spot. This cash-only restaurant, at 156 Second Ave., is always packed and doesn’t accept reservations, but you can wait for your table at their bar next door. The extensive wine list trumps their specialty cocktails, and whether you want to drink by the glass or the bottle, the knowledgeable staff will help you choose a wine perfect for your palate. The black-and-white family photos lining Supper’s brick walls, along with mismatched tables and chairs, antique chandeliers and frayed red-velvet lampshades, all lend a casual, eclectic feel. Similarly, the staff are friendly and relaxed. The restaurant is divided into multiple sections. The sidewalk cafe is delightful in summer. Downstairs is a private room perfect for private gatherings. The rear dining room boasts views of the wine cellar but can become uncomfortably crowded. On the other hand, the front dining room, with its communal tables and views of the tiny, open kitchen, is the best spot to dine with friends. While Lil’ Frankie’s, at 19 First Ave., specializes in pizzas and Prisinzano’s Italian-American home cooking, Supper serves northern Italian fare, focusing on simple, fresh ingredients. They serve daily specials, including a Daily Risotto and a Daily Supper — including local rabbit on Saturday evenings. Their killer weekend brunch offers three-for-one drink specials and the best egg in New York City. (It even EastVillagerNews.com
has its own hashtag and cult social media following, #crispyegg.) To start, each table is served fresh bread and a mixture of cannellini beans, olive oil and spices. (The focaccia alone is worth the trip.) Skip the Salsa Cruda (typically bruschetta at other restaurants); while delicious, it’s simply too filling unless you’re in a large group. Choose the Black Kale Panzanella (the best appetizer by far) over the Black Salt Caesar; but beware, vegetarians — it doesn’t taste like it and the menu doesn’t mention this, but it’s made with anchovies. The Burrata is to die for — a perfect lump of gooey, salty mozzarella served on deliciously ripe local tomatoes topped with basil, and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The Watermelon & Basil Salad is interesting but wouldn’t be my first choice. For supper, the Chicken Parmigiana with Spaghetti came highly recommended — a large chicken breast pounded thin, covered in bread crumbs and cooked to perfection before being smothered in melted mozzarella and tomato sauce, then served with a side of perfectly cooked spaghetti. Our server’s other recommendation, the Pappardelle with Asparagus, Peas and Tomatoes, although fresh, was rather bland. The Spaghetti Al Limone, however, was delectable. Order it with the priest stranglers (strozzapreti) instead of spaghetti, to sop up even more of the tangy sauce with each bite. The Tagliatelle Bolognese is both heavenly and hearty, but Lil’ Frankie’s does a better version with their Mezzi Rigatoni Polpettini Ragu. To finish, the Hazelnut Panna Cotta, served with fresh berries and homemade whipped cream, drenched in ribbons of warm chocolate sauce, was delicious, but the Tiramisu, although traditional, was on another level — and probably the best we’ve ever had.
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