The Paper of Record for East and West Villages, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown
September 4, 2014 • FREE Volume 4 • Number 21
Cooper protest continues as new tuition kicks in, new security comes on BY ZACH WILLIAMS
TUITION, continued on p. 13
Katz’s reportedly sells its development rights, but deli will be staying BY GERARD FLYNN
ecent news reports and rumors that a developer will be hoisting luxury condominiums atop Katz’s on the corner of Houston and Ludlow Sts. aren’t true, Jake Dell, the famed deli’s owner, told The Villager this week.
“The look, the feel” of Katz’s, now in its 126th year, will stay the same, Dell said. He did confirm, however, that he had made a deal to sell “air rights,” also known as development rights, to a developer, whom he declined to identify. But an agent from KATZ’S, continued on p. 6
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
tudents began the new semester at The Cooper Union on Tues., Aug. 2, with a reminder outside of the school’s Engineering Building that the fight to keep the 155-year-old college tuition-free continues. The Committee to Save
Cooper Union deployed a table, signs, pamphlets, a top-notch P.R. representative and plenty of vitriol toward the school’s administrators and board of trustees. I nc om i ng f r e s h me n , though, were their overall target as the group comprised of alumni, students
Governor Cuomo, left, marched on Eastern Parkway Monday with Mayor de Blasio, Chirlane McCray and their children, Dante and Chiara, at the West Indian Day Parade. His challenger Zephyr Teachout was also there. See page 20.
Dorm plans O.K.’d for former CHARAS; Mendez vows to fight BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
ast November, Gregg Singer, the owner of the former CHARAS/El Bohio building, assured The Villager he would eventually get the city’s O.K. to convert the interior of the landmarked, old former school into a college dormitory. Singer had gutted the space, but then the work ground to a halt. “Just waiting for approv-
als,” he calmly said back then. “You know — it just takes time.” On Aug. 14, the Department of Buildings approved Singer’s plan application to “build out” the University House dorm inside the old P.S. 64, at 605 E. Ninth St. However, while permits are now likely to follow, they still have not been issued to allow work to start. “University House is an exciting new state-of-theart college living experience
with a grand opening for the 2016/17 school year in the heart of the East Village,” reads a description on the project’s Web site (www. university-house.info/project_info.html). “The redevelopment and historic restoration of this century-old landmark, a former New York City elementary school, will be transformed into a modern, amenity-rich home deDORM PLAN, continued on p. 12
They’re getting TUFF for L.E.S........................page 4 Rebecca Lepkoff in words & photos..............page 8 Accordionist is in tune with it all.....................page 14 Nico: Underground ......................page 19 | May 14, 2014
THE REVOLUTION WILL BE TELEVISED!
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KINDA FUN! NOT SO NUMB: Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda and his wife, Anna, were recently at Bluestockings bookstore, at 172 Allen St., for Anna’s reading of her debut novel, “Learning Not to Drown.” It’s a semi-autobiographical tale about growing up in a family in which someone is incarcerated.
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Advocates for ibogaine, naturally led by recently freed but displaced Bleecker St. Yippie Dana Beal, rallied on City Hall’s steps Wednesday morning. They called attention to the fact that Afghanistan will now be allowing treatments with the drug, which they champion as the most effective cure for heroin addiction, but which is not sanctioned in the U.S. Anwar Jeewa, an ibogaine expert currently living in Sweden, arrived in Kabul on Tuesday and in six weeks will set up a clinic for dosing addicts. There can be a few complications, though. “We’ll also need a heart monitor, a blood pressure monitor and a defibrillator — sometimes there’s a reaction,” Beal told us. “The heart slows down and the brain can add a beat, which is why we need a defibrillator.” Meanwhile, the ibogaine will be sent in from Durban, South Africa. “This is a global effort,” he declared. “Ibogaine is sanctioned under sharia law,” he said, though adding, it’s not quite that simple. “There was a fatwa from the grand ayatollah in Iran that applies to Afghanistan. So, it’s halal under the Shiites — but the Sunnis are really down on drugs.” At Wednesday’s rally, the advocates called for Mayor Bill de Blasio to allow a “large open-enrollment trial” of the drug in New
PHOTO BY SCOOPY
VALOROUS VENDOR: In a first, the Vendy Awards — the city’s leading food truck competition — this year will honor a nonfood seller with the Heroic Vendor award. The honor will be bestowed on Barre Batchiri, who was stabbed by Richard Pearson, the “Soho Wild Man,” back in June. Batchiri, who sells cell phone accessories in front of 590 Broadway, near Houston St., was minding his own business when the mentally ill, violent street character got into an argument with a passerby, then set his sights on Batchiri. Pearson grabbed the vendor’s scissors and plunged them into his chest. Despite being wounded — just inches from his heart — Batchiri tailed his attacker to a nearby subway station and pointed him out to police, who made the arrest. He still has pain and trouble sleeping because of the stabbing, but bears no bitterness toward Pearson, according to a Vendy Awards source. “He is being honored for his generosity and friendliness to everyone in the neighborhood — even the mentally ill homeless guy who almost killed him,” a press release for the Sept. 13 event on Governors Island said. The Heroic Vendor award was started in 2011, after a street vendor spotted the Times Square car bomb and reported it to police. Last year’s Heroic Vendor award was given to a collective of 40 food truck vendors who helped serve meals in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Allen Roskoff is burned up over the governor’s medical marijuana program.
York City. “It’s time to bite the bullet,” Beal said. ... On another front, Beal dropped a little info about the new reality show he has in the works, “Beal’s Revolution.” “The contract is signed,” he told us. “We haven’t actually signed with a network — we have someone representing us, Etan Edwards. ... I would think the show would be a natural for Nat Geo, but I can’t say who’ll pick it up. It will be centered in New York, but there will be some stuff in Afghanistan and Baja, where they have 10 ibogaine clinics; they’re charging about $7,000.” Beal, 67, likely wouldn’t be able to travel to Kabul since he’s on parole following his release from jail in the Midwest for repeat cross-country pot trafficking in a car. (He still claims it was all medical marijuana.) Some scenes might be filmed in the Millinery Center Synagogue, at Sixth Ave. and 38th St., which is slated for demolition for a new tower, but where Beal has been allowed to live for the meantime. “I want to thank Rabbi Wahrman for doing something that is going to help so many people of so many faiths,” the ibogaine crusader said. So will Aron Kay, a.k.a. “The Yippie Pie Man,” be on the series? “Yeah, he’s a fixture,” Beal replied. “He’s a large fixture — wherever he goes!” (Rim shot, please!) How about East Village journalist Paul DeRienzo and medical marijuana advocate Kenny Toglia? “They’ll both likely be figures in it — and Priya [Warcry],” Beal answered. And, yes, no doubt, Dylanologist / garbageolist A.J. Weberman will also see screen time, he assured. “A.J. will probably come in as an expert on J.F.K., the Yippie conspiracies... .” (At last, maybe we’ll get to the bottom of it all.) However, SCOOPY’S, continued on p. 24
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Police Department are asking for the public’s help in locating a suspect wanted for a robbery in the East Village. According to police, on Tues., Sept. 2, at about 5 a.m., the suspect approached a 35-year-old female from behind as she walked past 405 E. Sixth St., displayed a knife and demanded her property. The victim dropped her purse containing $300 and an iPhone and fled unharmed. The suspect was captured on surveillance video immediately after the robbery holding the victim’s property. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the New York Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS. People can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS. COM, or by texting to 274637(CRIMES) and entering TIP577.
Police said they found a 16-year-old boy in possession of a stolen Citi Bike near 148 W. 14th St. on the evening of Thurs., Aug. 28, around 7:15 p.m. Officers pressed the boy a bit more, allegedly finding a small amount of marijuana in his possession. He was charged with criminal possession of stolen property, a felony. His name was not released due to his young age.
Le Bain bust
A Brooklyn woman, 38, alerted security after she observed a man take her $1,500 purse at Le Bain, a bar inside the Standard Hotel, at 444 W. 13th St., around 4:20 a.m. on Sun., Aug. 31. Security staff confronted Anton Marakulin, who was in possession of the purse and several of the woman’s credit cards, according to police. He was charged with grand larceny.
Police are asking the public’s assistance in identifying two suspects wanted for burglary in the South Village. Police said that on Sun., Aug. 31, at midnight, two unknown male suspects entered the Mermaid Oyster Bar restaurant, at 79 MacDougal St., while it was closed and removed more than $1,000 from its office before fleeing. As recorded on surveillance video, one suspect appeared to be carrying a black handgun. No injuries were reported in connection with the incident. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the New York Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS. People can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS. COM, or by texting to 274637(CRIMES) and entering TIP577.
Wheels of justice A would-be bike thief was caught in the act of filching a pricey ride, on Sat., Aug. 30, around 12:30 a.m., across the street from 333 Sixth Ave., at W. Fourth St. Police arrested Corey Prioleau and charged him with petty larceny, a misdemeanor. The bicycle was valued at $900 but its owner is unknown, according to a police report.
A man came to Off the Wagon with a big appetite at about 1:30 a.m. on Mon., Sept. 1. He ate, drank, and drank some more at the bar, at 109 MacDougal St. But when it came time to pay his $191.30 tab, he refused. The bartender reported the incident to police, who arrested Keith Arias, 27, and charged him with theft of services, a misdemeanor. Police did not pay the bill, but did pick up the receipt as evidence.
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Bike cop keeps on top of cyclists On Tuesday, Sixth Precinct Police Officer Richard Raimero patrolling on a bike ticketed a cyclist at Bleecker St. and Sixth Ave. for going the wrong way, plus running a red light. The officer explained the ticket to the cyclist, above. “Bicycles are supposed to follow the rules of the road,” Raimero told a Villager photographer afterward. Operation Safe Cycle, during which police targeted cyclists for violating traffic rules, recently ended, but police are still keeping on top of scofflaw cyclists. “To ticket cyclists not obeying the law is a directive from the mayor to cut down on the amount of accidents,” Raimero said. Meanwhile, he said, he enjoys being out on the bike and getting exercise. He’s the precinct’s only officer who rides a bike while on duty. EastVillagerNews.com
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residents have a voice in our neighborhood and I think that’s the main concern for most of us.” Time is of the essence as wealthier people move into the neighborhood, potentially diluting the future political sway of longtime residents, Richardson added. More tenant associations are in talks with TUFFLES on possible membership, according to Aaron Gonzalez, another board member. About two months ago, Holland was just an audience member listening as Extell Development representatives updated residents on the Cherry St. project. Plans for the site called for two separate buildings, one a 68-story luxury highrise, and the other slated for affordable units. When Extell President Gary Barnett presented the plans to the C.B. 3 Land Use Committee on June 18, the audience directed outrage not only at him but also at the committee itself, which they said didn’t sufficiently reflect representation from the affected neighborhood. While frustrations with the community board played a role in TUFFLES’s creation, the Extell project exemplifies the greater forces at play in the community, according to Richardson. “It’s just so emblematic of the problem, having a poor building right next to a luxury building,” he said after the Aug. 27 meeting. “I just think it violates the fundamental spirit of putting lower-income folks in the same buildings as high-in-
B BIIS STTR RO O 4
TUFFLES board members at the group’s Aug. 27 meeting, from left, Grace Mak, Daisy Echevarria, Aaron Gonzalez, Marc Richardson, Trever Holland and Tanya Castro. Not pictured are Sheila Hart, Alena Lopez and Brenda Siders, who were not present.
PHOTO BY ZACH WILLIAMS
he tables turned for a group of Lower East Side residents expressing their community grievances on Aug. 27. In recent months they had to sit and listen as others explained their visions for the neighborhood’s future. But at this meeting, held at 82 Rutgers St., representatives of Borough President Gale Brewer, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Community Board 3, state Senator Daniel Squadron and Councilmember Margaret Chin came to listen as Tenants United Fighting For Lower East Side, a.k.a. TUFFLES, unveiled their new organization’s agenda and observe their growing critical mass. “I just didn’t think that this area was being represented,” said board member Trever Holland, about the motivation for forming TUFFLES (pronounced “tough L.E.S.”) which currently consists of the tenant associations from Two Bridges Tower and Lands Ends 1 and 2. They formed the group earlier this year following their frustration with developments in the Two Bridges area that they say lacked adequate input from residents living near the East River esplanade, including the Extell Development project at 229 Cherry St., as well as Basketball City and other community amenities that TUFFLES members say are overly accommodating toward nonresidents. Although the group’s members all live in the same area, settling on organizing strategies doesn’t come easy, according to Marc Richardson, a resident of Lands End 1 on Cherry St. and a TUFFLES board member. “It’s a challenge even for us to all get these three different tenant associations in the room and agree upon how we are going to advocate for one issue or another,” he said. “I think that’s even a greater challenge for external groups to do because they are not informed by being actual residents.” At the meeting, the politicians’ liaisons gave verbal commitments to TUFFLES for future cooperation on issues such as securing a new supermarket to replace the now-demolished Pathmark at 229 Cherry St. Asked whether their advocacy departs from the traditional building-centric focus of tenants associations, Holland, who is president of Two Bridges Tower Tenant Association, said yes. “I think the main concern is not so much quality of life,” she said. “It’s making sure that we as
come folks.” The for-profit Basketball City, meanwhile, is another example of a neighborhood facility that falls short of meeting nearby residents’ needs, according to TUFFLES board member Daisy Echevarria. The 70,000-square-foot sports facility at Pier 36 opened in 2012 after years of delays and legal wrangling. But TUFFLES members repeatedly charged that the venue acts more like an event space than a community resource. While many of the pertinent decisions affecting the pier were made years ago, it is never to late to revisit old issues, according to Gonzalez. “It doesn’t benefit the community that is right in front,” Echevarria said. “All these corporations, they have these big gallery openings. We never hear about it. We’re never invited.” Crime in public housing, as well as overnight commercial truck parking on side streets, among other issues, also concern TUFFLES members. Another annoyance, Holland said, is teenage skateboarders who now practice “edging” along the long, rectangular seating on the East River esplanade. When Gonzalez was a child, walls down by the waterfront sufficed for games like handball. In recent years, though, new facilities seem to be ignoring the Lower East Side’s traditional athletic needs, he said. Furthermore, Little League and recreational league teams from farther Downtown and elsewhere dominate the use of local sports fields, he added. Again, perhaps prior consultation with nearby residents could have avoided the situation, TUFFLES board members say. “They knocked down the wall that you play handball and paddleball on, and what did they start making? Field hockey, volleyball,” Gonzalez said. “These are not things that we play, so who are they making them for?”
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Now Cuomo is investigating a landlord for harassment BY ZACH WILLIAMS
tate government scrutiny of local landlords extended on Aug. 20 to Marolda Properties for alleged tenant harassment in Chinatown and the Lower East Side. Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a subpoena to the company that day as part of an ongoing investigation under the state Tenant Protection Unit. Tenant grievances against Marolda include eviction proceedings, low buyout offers, poor building services and the denial of lease renewals for longtime tenants, according to a statement by Cuomo. “This case is especially egregious because it appears this landlord preys on many tenants who are elderly and whose primary language is not English,” Cuomo said in the statement. Cuomo’s announcement follows on the heels of state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s probe into the practices of landlord Steven Croman. For its part, Marolda has also investigated tenants in an effort to acquire evidence that their primary residence is elsewhere, allowing it to begin eviction proceedings. “The landlord’s been sending a lot of notices to people saying that we don’t live in this building, that
we have property somewhere else.... I’ve lived here all my life,” said one 20-something tenant who requested her name be withheld due to pending litigation. The tenant will appear in Housing Court later this month to attempt to disprove Marolda’s allegation in a lawsuit against her that her primary residence is in Brooklyn rather than on Elizabeth St. Marolda Properties owns about 70 buildings throughout the five boroughs. Phone messages left for Fred Marolda were not returned by press time. A Marolda representative who answered the phone Aug. 25 and identified himself as Greg declined to comment. At a Marolda-owned building on Forsyth St., outgoing tenant Grier Newlin said there were months of seemingly endless noise as the landlord renovated the place’s interior. Then tenants and building management met, with management agreeing to post better notice, in both English and Chinese, of upcoming work. Nonetheless, the building’s makeup has changed significantly in those 11 months, according to Newlin, who said he is moving out in a few weeks. “It was primarily Chinese when I moved in and now it’s not,” he said.
Such a change reflects an ongoing trend in Chinatown, according to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. In a report released last year on Chinatowns in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia, AALDEF notes that white residents are the fastest-growing demographic in the neighborhood. “Tenants have experienced more harassment by landlords in the past decade,” the report states. “The occupants of rent-regulated units have shifted from immigrant family households to a younger demographic, including young professionals and students.” Marolda opponents cite the case of an elderly woman reportedly refused a lease extension by the company. An effort to evict her failed once her links to a local community senior center, among other things, buttressed her claim that she had lived in the building for 40 years. “Her entire social structure is limited to the five or so blocks surrounding her building,” said Cathy Dang, executive director of the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence Organizing Asian Communities, in a statement. “Marolda’s actions fly in the face of the history of Chinatown and the Lower East Side — commu-
nities built by immigrants, and communities sustained by affordable housing that contribute to the unique culture of New York City.” Meanwhile, in the court of consumer opinion, tenant reviews of Marolda Properties on Yelp are mixed. The company received a twostar rating among 20 online reviews from what appear to be relatively new tenants. “I lived in a Marolda building (262 Elizabeth St.) for two years,” wrote a poster under the name Ty M in April 2013. “The building was always clean and well-maintained, and they were perfectly fair with my security deposit. Yes, they were a little difficult to get a hold of; but I believe I had an above-average renter experience with them.” However, 16 of the reviews were negative in tone. “I’ve thought about a dozen different ways that I could write this review and how best to describe how much I loathe this company,” wrote Brett M. in Aug. 2013. “But, I figured it was best to just lay it out there: they’re horrible. “They’re the least professional people I’ve ever encountered, and every time I interact with them, I feel like I just got punched in the brain because of the incompetence.”
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September 4, 2014
Katz’s is said to sell air rights, but deli will be staying KATZ’S, continued from p. 1
a nearby real estate company, ambivalent about being named, said he was “99 percent sure” it is Benjamin Shaoul, head of Magnum Real Estate Group. Strong rumors to that effect have been circulating for weeks in the neighborhood. Shaoul, also known as the “Sledgehammer,” didn’t return a call from The Villager for comment. Now more likely to be feted in real estate trade magazines and snapped by celebrity photographers, Shaoul has been the focus of many news articles about his removing rent-stabilized residents from their apartments, before putting the units back online as market rate. “The bottom line is Katz’s storefront is going to stay as is,” Dell said. “We are staying. I am fifth generation and I am going to make sure Katz’s lasts at least another 50 years.” Having witnessed so many changes in the area over the years, Dell said he’s fine with new construction on the block. But for another beloved restaurant on the other corner of Houston St., the prospect of more luxury condos brought closure after nearly 20 years in business.
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Bereket, a Turkish and Middle Eastern kebab shop, shuttered at the end of June. Its departure marked the beginning of the end for other stores along the strip. A small deli a few storefronts down doesn’t look like it does a lot of business, but it has been here for even longer, its owner Abdul said. His lease expired in May, but he has been given two reprieves and is looking at November as a termination date. He estimated that Bereket had been forking over $20,000 a month for around 1,000 square feet of space. When Abdul started out at the location, he said he would pay $2,500 a month in rent. And today? “If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me,” he said, adding that he works hard seven days a week just to earn a salary. The realtor speculated that with current zoning imposing a height cap of 120 feet, the unused space above Katz’s Delicatessen might be “transferred” to allow increased density and thus more apartments at adjacent sites along Orchard and E. Houston Sts. Bowery Boogie reported on Aug.
29 that Katz’s had sold its development rights, and the Web site speculated that perhaps a new development would “cantilever” over Katz’s. The unnamed realtor who spoke to The Villager praised the arrival of more luxury development and the towering hotels under construction nearby because, he said, retail stores need a lot more foot traffic. Boutiques on side streets below Houston St. on Labor Day were struggling, with some shuttered and others selling merchandise for half price. But not everyone is happy with the upmarket changes the Lower East Side has seen in recent years. No sooner then she had plopped herself down on a stoop around the corner on Ludlow St., a dismayed Susan Scutti asked, “What ever happened to Max Fish?” Max Fish was a popular haven for artists. The bar opened in 1989, when the neighborhood was still ragtag and drew celebrity names like Johnny Depp. “Oh, my God,” she said in dismay, as she surveyed what was left of that scene. “This is not the Lower East Side, after all.”
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To be or not to be? Shakespeare & Co. to close BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC
PHOTO BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC
nother rose on the vine of independent bookstores has withered. The East Village’s Shakespeare & Co. will close its doors on Sat., Sept. 6. The bookstore opened at its 716 Broadway location in 1987 and can now no longer afford the rent, said manager Margot Liddell. In addition to high rent, there are other factors that have played a part in the bookstore’s demise. Textbook sales have been affected by students downloading textbooks or buying secondhand books online. “That’s hurt too,” said Liddell, who continued to work while she was being interviewed by The Villager. “The Internet definitely has a role in this whole problem.” While handing bags back to customers and making jokes, Liddell said she would miss talking about books, having access to them and being surrounded by the written word. She started as a night manager in 1981 at the since-closed Shakespeare & Co. store on W. 81st St. and Broadway on the Upper West Side, and helped open the East Village Shakespeare & Co. in 1987. She has been the store’s manager for the past three
years. “It’s kind of like a second home,” said employee Teri Yoshiuchi, a fan of science fiction authors like Isaac Asimov. “I always think of this as my bookstore.” Liddell said several customers offered to start a fundraising campaign with sites like Indiegogo, but there just wasn’t any way the store could be saved. One customer paused after a purchase to say how sorry she was to see the bookstore go and that there will be a big hole left behind. Lee James, 25, attended New York University and still comes to Shakespeare & Co. despite now living in Customers perused the selection at Shakespeare & Co. the Ridgewood-Bushwick area. “In between this and the St. Mark’s [Bookshop], I’m definitely sad to see ready closed. authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald and it go,” said James, who said the book“The really intelligent selection of Ernest Hemingway. Manager Liddell, who talked store had “a good vibe, offered a nice, books with an edgy, creative focus” comfortable space, and was more cu- was what Steven Stark, 54, said kept about her love of authors Stewart O’Nan, Marilynne Robinson and Alrated in its book choices than other him coming to Shakespeare & Co. stores. “I’m going to miss all the book- ice Munro, showed The Villager what Another former N.Y.U. student and stores that have closed,” lamented made the bookstore famous back in current Upper East Side resident, Jon- Stark, a former Chelsea resident who the day: a section of shelves titled athan Turner, 34, also kept returning now lives in Connecticut, citing how “Drinking, Smoking & Screwing,” to the bookstore. Rizzoli Bookstore recently shuttered. that featured Beat authors like Jack “It’s hard not to miss a bookstore,” Bryce Polk, 25, moved from Virgin- Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, said Turner, who also said he liked ia to Crown Heights a year ago and and Charles Bukowski. The section, explained Liddell, used to fill three the place’s open space and selection. got a job at Shakespeare & Co. Turner was disappointed that theT:8.75” “Its been a good team — like a large bookcases, but tastes, like the store’s downstairs section had al- family,” said Polk, who favors classic East Village, are a-changin’.
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September 4, 2014
Rebecca Lepkoff, L.E.S. photographer, dies at 98 BY ALBERT AMATEAU
September 4, 2014
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
ebecca Lepkoff, a renowned photographer who recorded the street life of the Lower East Side, where she was born and raised, died Sun., Aug. 17 in her home in Townshend, Vermont, where, in addition to her home in Manhattan, she lived part of the year with her family for the past 60 years. She died two weeks after her 98th birthday. She bought her first camera, a Borlander, with money she earned as a dancer at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair. At a 2012 exhibition of her photos in the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side, she told a reporter that she went outdoors with her camera because “everything happened in the streets. People would go out with their baby carriages. They’d sit on the stoops,” she said. “People lived in the streets. You didn’t have to worry about kids’ safety. They were playing stickball on the street in front of you.” She was born on Aug. 4, 1916, in a Hester St. tenement, the daughter of Russian immigrants. Her father, a tailor, moved the family to increas-
ingly better homes in the neighborhood, on Clinton, Division, Monroe and Ridge Sts. and on East Broadway. Rebecca attended the College of the City of New York, graduating in 1938, and studied dance with Martha Graham, one of the founders of modern dance. She also joined a National Youth Administration (a Depression-era government agency) photography program from 1939 to 1941. By the time she married Eugene Lepkoff in 1941, she had become an experienced photographer of life on the streets. In 1945 she joined the Photo League, founded in 1939 by a group of socially conscious photographers. Among the league’s early members who became distinguished photographers of the era were Arthur “Weegee” Fellig, Bernice Abbott, Helen Levitt, Lisette Model, Paul Strand, Lewis Hine, Morris Engel and Walter Rosenblum. In its heyday, the league had 300 members and served as a school, darkroom, gallery and discussion club for people who believed that photography should chronicle social conditions and help change them. However, the league dissolved in
Rebecca Lepkoff at an opening of a show of her photos at the Tenement Museum in March 2012.
1951 after the U.S. attorney general listed it as a subversive organization. In the 2012 interview at the Tenement Museum, Rebecca Lepkoff contended that when the league first started, most photography was commercial and fashion. “The Photo League said, ‘The world is out there, and we should go out there and bring back life to be seen,’ ” she said. The best of her photos of the era are in “Life on the Lower East Side: Photographs by Rebecca Lepkoff, 1937-1950,” collected by Peter Dans and Susan Waserman, published by Princeton Architectural Press. Although urban renewal projects obliterated many of the streets where she grew up, Rebecca Lepkoff continued to photograph the neighborhood into the 1980s. “It’s a part of my history, my life,” she said in the 2012 interview. “It’s very familiar but so very different now. As I walk along, I superimpose, the double vision. I see it [as it was] then, you know, and I have it now. It’s interesting.” In recent years, she has photographed the streets of Harlem near her home in Washington Heights. “I witness the relationship between people, parents with children, a lot of fathers with babies. The mothers are nannies taking care of other people’s kids,” she said in the 2012 interview. “I always looked up to her as being a very elegant lady,” said David Channon, an Upstate resident whose mother became a friend of Rebecca’s when they met as civilian office employees of the U.S. Army during
World War II. “I remember a party at Becky’s and Gene’s. I must have been six years old. Pearl Primus was there with other dancers and a lot of bongo drums,” Channon recalled. Primus, an anthropologist and dancer who introduced African dance to the U.S., was a member of the National Youth Administration along with Rebecca in the early 1940s. In 1950, Rebecca and her husband Gene bought a house in Windham County in southern Vermont, where Helen and Scott Nearing, an economist and radical social activist, and their circle, lived. Rebecca’s photos of the Nearings and their friends, collected in “Almost Utopia: The Residents and Radicals of Pikes Falls Vermont 1950,” was published in 2008 by the Vermont Historical Society. “Lots of people would come and live [Nearing’s] style of being close to the earth,” Rebecca told the local newspaper in 2010. “The book is called ‘Almost Utopia’ because people stayed a long time and then gave up. They couldn’t quite live there forever,” she said. Two decades later, in the 1970s, a new generation inspired by the Nearings came to Windham County and Rebecca photographed their way of life in a series, “Vermont Hippies,” which was last shown in a 2010 exhibition at the Vermont Center for Photography in Brattleboro, according to The Commons, an online source of Windham County news and opinions. Rebecca attended her 98th birthday party in Vermont at the Jamaica Historical Society, according to The Commons. In the past few years, she and her husband, 96, who survives, have been making their home in an assisted-living residence in Townshend. “She lived a long and incredible life. She was an amazing artist and mother and an amazing person,” said her son, Jesse Lepkoff. Rebeca was a regular at the Townshend Farmers Market where her booth — Rebecca Lepkoff and Family — featured her signed books and handmade pottery. Her daughter-inlaw, Tamara Stenn, said the family will continue to run the booth into September and perhaps October. “We have quite a collection of Becky’s porcelain and hand-printed vintage museum-quality photos and are seeking homes and ideas for them,” Stenn said. A memorial for Rebecca Lepkoff is being planned, with a time and place still to be determined. EastVillagerNews.com
Some of Rebecca Lepkoff’s photos of the Lower East Side from the 1940s and ’50s.
©REBECCA LEPKOFF, COURTESY HOWARD GREENBERG GALLERY, NEW YORK
September 4, 2014
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Last week, in Queens on the E train, before the 46th St. station, a team of energetic acrobats displayed their limber skills — including high-fiving a passenger while hanging upside down — as their boom box blasted a beat. Police Commissioner Bratton is enforcing a crackdown on subway train dancing — which might explain why these youths made a hasty exit after riding only one stop.
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September 4, 2014
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR A.G. doing A-O.K. To The Editor: Re “E. Eighth St. tenants are suing Croman over ‘harassment’ ” (news article, Aug. 21): Eric Schneiderman may be one of the few Albany guys who seem to be guided by conscience. It’s about time Croman gets his due — and tenants finally get justice in one of his real estate holdings. Croman has a long and atrocious history of harassing tenants. Go, Brad Hoylman, as well. Gloria Sukenick
It’s about time! To The Editor: Re “E. Eighth St. tenants are suing Croman over ‘harassment’ ” (news article, Aug. 21): Well done! Thank you, Zach Williams, for your excellent articles. It’s about time Steve and Harriet Croman are exposed. They’ve gotten away with this for years. Our deepest gratitude to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for his
investigation of Steve and Harriet Croman, and also to our wonderful state Senator Brad Hoylman for helping the effort.
Justice Bannon ruled it was a trust, not commercial matter. Trust cases are judged on the intent of the benefactor that set up the trust.
Cooper must be free
E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.
To The Editor: Re “Cooper Union tuition fight continues in court” (news article, Aug. 21): There’s nothing misguided about requiring the school’s board of trustees to follow the trust agreement that formed the school (as well as the board itself.) Thousands of alumni, students and faculty have donated to the legal fund and signed petitions of no confidence in the school’s president and trustees. Read the petition to the court and you’ll understand how serious the issues are and how important it is to fight for Peter Cooper’s vision. The trust document says the school must be free. That’s what is being reviewed by the State Supreme Court. The trustees tried to have the case moved to Commercial Court but
SOUND OFF! Write a letter to the editor
Standing up for Gaza but not with certain groups TALKING POINT BY BILL WEINBERG
n July 28, the same day 10,000 people joined a “New York Stands with Israel” rally at the U.N., my frustration was compounded by a demoralizing encounter outside St. Mark’s Church. I was biking down Second Ave., and saw the “FREE PALESTINE” banner outside the church, and stopped to check it out. To my disappointment (but not, alas, surprise) it was one of the highly problematic groups that have mobilized around that issue in New York City. In this case it was the group If Americans Knew. It is obvious from its name that this is basically a right-wing nationalist formation with (at least) an anti-Semitic streak. Right, I think every time I see their name, “Americans” are pure and righteous (never mind Gitmo and Abu Ghraib and “shock and awe”), but are being hoodwinked into supporting atrocities by those wily Jews... . I nonetheless took one of their fliers just to see what it said, and was dismayed to find it was a big quote from Gilad Atzmon, a practically open Jew-hater (notwithstanding his own Jewish origins), with a Web site full of Holocaust revisionism, claims that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was “in direct response to the declaration of war on Germany by the worldwide Jewish leadership,” and other such gems. When I told the woman who handed me the flier I don’t like Gilad Atzmon, she smiled smarmily and said, “He’s awesome.” And that wave of existential loneliness swept over me yet again... . With death raining down on the Gaza Strip, Israel’s atrocities must be opposed — urgently, uncompromisingly. But groups like If Americans Knew and figures like Gilad Atzmon just play right into the propaganda ploy that any opposition to Israel is anti-Semitism. Their presence on this issue is worse than useless: It is deeply counterproductive. It has actually been hard to find protests I can join against the aerial terror on Gaza. New York is a tough town to be a pro-Palestinian dissident in. Our “progressive” Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered a private speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) shortly after taking office, where he assured the assemblage (his comments leaked in spite of his efforts to
keep the affair under wraps) that support for Israel is part of the mayor’s “job description.” The city’s entire congressional delegation attended the “New York Stands with Israel” affair. Jews who break ranks with the pro-Israel consensus are assailed as self-haters or worse. But a pro-Palestinian dissident is what I am, and have been since I was old enough to understand the conflict at all. The foremost point right now is that the frightening Israeli consensus for the aerial campaign in Gaza is part of the general dynamic on this planet of normalization of mass murder. This is also seen in the spiral of sectarian massacres in Iraq, Bashar Assad’s use of poison gas and “barrel bombs” against the Syrians, and innumerable other conflicts, from the killing fields of South Sudan to the mass graves along the Mexican border. The notion that the clinical form of mass killing
It’s a tough town for a pro-Palestinian dissident.
witnessed in Gaza is justified because of Hamas’s improvised rockets, or its supposed use of the strip’s population as “human shields,” is perverse on the face of it. (As I write, more than 2,000 Palestinians have died since the bombing began, overwhelmingly noncombatants, and 67 Israelis, mostly soldiers; every major human rights group has condemned Israel’s air-strikes as “disproportionate,” and Amnesty International has called for an International Criminal Court investigation of possible “war crimes.”) Hamas’s ideology is reactionary and its tactics often criminal, but its demands for a lifting of the Gaza siege — letting in food and aid, allowing the Gazans freedom of movement, and the right to fish off their own coast beyond a circumscribed three nautical miles — must also be our demands. The position that Hamas must disarm before Israel meets these demands is an absurd double standard; the Gazans demonstrably have much more to fear from Israeli firepower than vice versa, yet
Comptroller Scott Stringer holds the mayor’s feet to the fire! EastVillagerNews.com
nobody is calling for Israel’s disarmament. Hamas has offered a 10-year ceasefire (amounting to de facto recognition of Israel) if these demands are met. Opposing the aerial terror means looking at the problem unflinchingly. The two-state solution, rendered meaningless by Israel’s continued colonization of the West Bank, has failed. I am among those Jews who support a single secular democratic state in historic Palestine, with equal rights for all. Yes, the anarchist in me would prefer a “no-state solution” of autonomous communities and worker assemblies. But with Israel becoming more of an oppressive apartheid state each day — the demolition of Bedouin villages in the Negev to make way for Jewish-only housing developments, the internment of African migrants in desert camps, the ongoing theft of Palestinian lands and water on the West Bank — a single secular state seems ambitious enough, thank you. We must demand the dismantling of this system, the lifting of the Gaza blockade, and an end to the West Bank “Apartheid Wall” (or “security barrier”) that encloses Palestinian farmlands and was ruled illegal by the World Court a decade ago. While the 5 million Palestinian refugees (by the U.N. estimate, which includes descendants of those displaced in 1948) obviously cannot all return to villages that in many cases no longer exist, there must be some real justice for them, arrived at with their consent and active participation. Palestinian civil society has called for a boycott, sanctions and divestment (BDS) to pressure Israel on these demands, and it is incumbent upon those of us who are allies of the Palestinians to support this time-honored nonviolent strategy. So I’ve become quite used to getting it from both sides, and even take some pride in it — baited as a self-hating Jew by Zionists when I protest Israeli atrocities, baited as a Zionist by Jew-haters when I protest anti-Semitic attacks. Even after the looting, vandalism and swastika-scrawling at synagogues and Jewish-owned shops in Rome and Paris, I hear from too may “progressives” that anti-Semitism is just an exaggerated Zionist propaganda ploy. That’s actually the least dishonest response. Worse is being told in ritualistic manner that “anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism” — as if vandalizing a synagogue was legitimate protest against Israel. Such responses, again, just play into the Israeli propaganda that any anti-Zionism necessarily is anti-Semitism. Another frequent response is the sophistry that anti-Semitism can’t exist because “Arabs are Semites too.” As if Jew-hatred is somehow diminished by an imprecise name for it. Sometimes I am even told that Arabs are “real” Semites and Jews “false” ones, which betrays Nazi-like genetic-determinist ideas about ethnicity. But “anti-Semitism” is the name historically applied to Jew-hatred, and we Jews didn’t invent it — the anti-Semites did. (Google “Wilhelm Marr.”) And Jew-hatred is something I see nearly every day, on my Facebook feed and in “real life” — whether of the vulgar “Hitler was right” variety or the more subtle propaganda about how the Israeli tail is wagging the imperial dog and Washington is “Zionist occupied territory,” that the U.S. didn’t invade Iraq to secure the planet’s most strategic oil reserves but because of the mysterious powers of the Chosen People. Since the missiles began raining on Gaza on GAZA PROTESTS, continued on p. 25 September 4, 2014
Old P.S. 64 dorm plans O.K.’d; Mendez vows fight DORM PLAN, continued from p. 1
signed, built and managed for 535 students for New York’s participating colleges and universities,” the site advertises. “Ideal for all students with safety and amenities as the top priorities. University House will become the perfect place for New York City’s students to live, study and socialize.” So far, The Cooper Union and Joffrey Ballet School have signed contracts with Singer for space in University House. The ground floor and first floor are slated for 50 and 82 beds, respectively, for Joffrey. Cooper Union has a 15-year lease for 98 beds on each of the second and third floors, for a total of 196 beds. The fourth floor, with space for 98 beds, has not been leased out yet, nor has the fifth floor, which is planned for 109 beds. Ever since he bought the old, decommissioned school building at city auction in 1998 for $3.2 million, Singer has faced staunch opposition from local politicians and community activists who want the building returned to use as a community center. An early plan of his to demolish the existing building and replace it with a sleek, 23-story dormitory tower was shot down by the city. He then pitched another scheme to retain just the building’s front facade and add a smaller tower. But, in 2006, the building was landmarked, putting an end to Singer’s tower dreams. Speaking last week, City Councilmember Rosie Mendez said she was extremely angry that two letters she wrote to D.O.B. challenging the project’s legality have gone unanswered. “I’m not in a very good place. I’m very upset,” she said. “I wrote the Department of Buildings a year ago, stating my belief that, according to the deed restriction, this was not a legal lease. Then I sent another letter regarding my concern with the Joffrey Ballet.” Specifically, in her April 30, 2013, letter to D.O.B., Mendez expressed concern that the lease with Cooper Union was “overbroad, speculative and nonconforming to the requirements of the Dorm Rule, and potentially lacking certain legal requirements of a binding contract.” In short, under the agreement, Cooper Union has the “right of first refusal” on up to 196 beds, which its students will have the option to rent or not to rent. In turn, Cooper can sublease the unused beds to another school.
September 4, 2014
Under a developer’s plan, the former CHARAS/El Bohio would become a 535-bed college dorm.
“The whole lease was written in a very fraudulent way,” Mendez told The Villager last week. “The Dorm Rule was created because people were building dorms but didn’t have leases. They were building bigger by using the community-facility bonus.” According to Mendez, the lease with Cooper Union also doesn’t guarantee that there would be, as required under the Dorm Rule, an “institutional nexus” — or a nonprofit entity that would manage or control the dorm for at least 10 years. In her more recent, April 25, 2014, letter to D.O.B., Mendez again expressed her “grave concerns” about the dorm project, as well as her frustration at the agency’s lack of response to her first letter. Mendez questioned the fact that during the summer months, Singer would have control over the building’s beds, meaning there won’t be a “continuous institutional nexus” throughout the year, which is a violation of the Dorm Rule, she charged. She also expressed frustration that Cooper Union is not revealing how many beds it plans to use, depriving the public of transparency about the plan. Asked for clarification by The Villager regarding Cooper Union’s plans at University House, including how many beds it foresees its students actually using, Justin Harmon, the school’s vice president
for communications, issued a terse e-mail response. “To my knowledge, the terms of the agreement have not changed,” he said. Singer did not return calls for comment. As she did in her letter regarding Cooper Union’s lease, Mendez similarly challenged the legitimacy of Singer’s agreement with Joffrey Ballet School, which came on board the project after Cooper Union. Mendez argued that the Joffrey lease’s terms are “ambiguous.” “[The lease] only requires Joffrey Ballet to rent a minimum of 10 beds out of 132 beds,” Mendez wrote D.O.B. in April. “My concern is that any and all remaining beds outside of the 10-bed minimum requirement will be rented out as student hostel beds (as previously proposed by Gregg Singer), which will violate the permissible use of the premises. Therefore, I ask that D.O.B. limit the scope of the permit application and demand further information. ... “I request that D.O.B. refrain from approving this application until the owner clarifies all ambiguities and my office is granted a meeting with D.O.B. to discuss the contract’s adherence to the law,” Mendez concluded the second letter. Mendez and community activists are also querying the characterization of Joffrey Ballet School as an academic institution, countering that it’s really a vocational institution. However, Mendez told The Vil-
lager, “D.O.B. made a decision Joffrey is a nonprofit with sleeping accommodations.” Asked now what her next move will be, Mendez resolutely warned, “I will take any legal measures necessary. They have not responded to my letters. They should have responded to my letters.” Sara Romanoski, executive director of the East Village Community Coalition, said that, contrary to rumor, the group has not yet retained a lawyer at this stage to fight the dorm project. “The former P.S. 64 building should be restored to a true community facility that upholds the intention of the [community use] deed restriction instated at the building’s sale,” she said. “We are committed to ensuring that the building is developed in strict accordance with the zoning code, a standard that previous plans failed to meet.” Roland Legiardi-Laura is a founding member of E.V.C.C., which battled Singer’s dorm tower plans and helped push to get the building landmarked. A filmmaker and poet, he lives a block away from the old school building. “I’m sure that someone can bring an Article 78 lawsuit, but it has to be legitimate,” he said, regarding a potential legal challenge to city approvals for the project. “Can he get the other floors rented?” he questioned. “Is Cooper Union really committed to this? He’s got to produce legitimate leases with these people.” Ideally, Legiardi-Laura said, the building would be restored as a community center for the neighborhood, like “a CHARAS on steroids,” as he put it. Singer evicted the Latino community and cultural organization a few years after buying the old school. Perhaps Mayor de Blasio really could take the place back by eminent domain, as Community Board 3 has implied he should, but that would mean a “legal pit-bull battle for a few years,” he noted. On the other hand, Legiardi-Laura offered, “At a certain level, I’m not so infuriated that there are going to be a few hundred kids there. They’ll be mostly transient.” He mused fatalistically, “How can someone really get angry at a bunch of ballerinas walking around and smoking and not eating? I mean, am I personally going to be offended? No, I’m probably going to enjoy looking at their...faces, and will be smiling at them pirouetting through the streets.” EastVillagerNews.com
Cooper flap continues amid new tuition, security COOPER, continued from p. 1
PHOTO BY ZACH WILLIAMS
and faculty seeks new supporters. “The incoming students are super-, super-involved compared to last year,” said Harrison Cullen, a senior who was among the dozen students and alumni representing the committee on Aug. 2. Freshmen will pay about $20,000 in tuition this year, in contrast to students who in past years received a free education. It’s a necessary change in order to address the school’s future operating deficits, according to administrators. With the new cost of attending the school, students are also finding new ways to relate to the community there, as well as each other. “It actually brings us together because we’re stuck in the same boat,” said Gabe Frasier, an incoming freshman from North Carolina, who expressed his support for the committee as he made his way to class. Another first-year student said the ongoing struggle over tuition catalyzed her early-decision application last year. “A lot of the reason I did decide to apply was to become a part of the movement, to sort of be inspired by faculty and upperclassmen who are so devoted to the school,” said Claire Klermann. She added that, to keep costs down, she will live with her family on E. 18th St. Some new students reported that they haven’t had to pay any tuition this year because of their lower-income status. According to Cooper Union, a higher proportion of students are eligible this year for Pell Grants, available to those whose family income is less than $50,000. In recent years, about 17 to 20 percent of students qualified for this aid. This year, however, 22.4 percent of freshmen can receive such financial aid, according to school spokesperson Justin Harmon. “This is likely to be a reflection of the fact that these students receive both a full-tuition scholarship and need-based aid that covers more of the cost of attendance, such as living expenses, materials and the like,” Harmon said in an e-mail. An ongoing lawsuit by the committee against Cooper Union’s board of trustees aims to nullify newly implemented tuition for incoming students. Arguments were heard on Aug. 15 in State Supreme Court, with a critical factor being the court’s interpretation of Cooper Union’s founding documents, which the plaintiffs argue mandate a tuition-free institution for enrolled students. Representatives of the board of trustees disagree, The Villager reported on Aug. 21. According to the committee, financial mismanagement resulted in the
A member of the Committee to Save Cooper Union held up one of their buttons, with the school’s Foundation Building in the background, on Tuesday.
announcement from the trustees in 2013 to institute tuition on a sliding scale beginning this fall. In protest, a group of students occupied the office of President Jamshed Bharucha from May to July 2013. By January 2014 the trustees rejected alternate plans from faculty, alumni and students to deal with Cooper Union’s financial challenges. Harmon pointed The Villager to a 2013 online video by Robert Spencer, listed in the clip as part of interim financial leadership at the Cooper Union. Spencer said in the video that the whims of the real estate market caused revenues from the college’s land under the Chrysler Building to not keep pace with rising expenditures. Committee members further allege that college administrators are tampering with free expression regarding the tuition issue. A documentary on the life of Peter Cooper, Cooper Union’s founder, by an alumna, for example, did not receive approval for screening during freshmen orientation because free tuition was discussed prominently in it, they say. But Harmon said that critics have misunderstood the situation. Last spring, a member of the Cooper Union Alumni Association approached the Joint Student Council about hosting an event to show the documentary, but there was no follow-up, Harmon said. By the time last week that an alumnus approached Dean Stephen Baker about the idea, orientation week activities had already been finalized, Harmon. But they are welcome to screen the movie later in the semester, he added. In addition, the recent hiring of a new security firm led by a TV pundit who has made charged remarks about the shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has raised eyebrows. The committee says that, by hiring Bo Dietl and Associates, the Cooper Union administration is further departing from the traditional spirit of the institution. According to Harmon, the retaining of new security resulted from a study about campus security and is
not meant whatsoever to counter potential civil disobedience from critics. “Bo Dietl maintains a high public profile and has made statements about various issues that reflect a different worldview than that of many — perhaps most — members of the Cooper community,” Harmon said in the e-mail. “However, his personal statements have no bearing on how the BDA-provided security guards
are to carry out their responsibilities.” Student activist Cullen said that the local community should not be surprised if a fresh round of civil disobedience kicks off later in the semester. Right now, though, he said, the focus of the committee and its two dozen or so active members remains outreach. On the first day, however, students waiting for their classes said while they vehemently support a tuition-free Cooper Union, the time comes when other priorities gain relative importance compared to campus activism, even while stories circulate about incoming students disadvantaged by tuition payments. As his last year as an undergraduate begins, art student Aaron Fowler said this semester’s beginning is making him consider life after Cooper Union. “I’ve been dealing with this for the past two years,” he said, “and I’ve sacrificed my own education for this failure of a school, and I need to worry about myself now.”
Thirty percent of Orchard hotel jobs will be for local residents BY YANNIC RACK
ower East Side residents searching for work have something to look forward to when the new Hotel Indigo opens next year. Thirty percent of the more than 100 jobs that will be created at the hotel, at 180 Orchard St., are now earmarked for local residents, it was recently announced. The hiring target is part of a memorandum of understanding, or M.O.U., between the InterContinental Hotel Group, the owners of the Indigo, and the Lower East Side Employment Network, or LESEN. David Garza, executive director of the Henry Street Settlement, one of the founding partners of LESEN, signed the M.O.U. on behalf of the network. Speaking on Thursday, Garza said that although there have been agreements like this before, “none were this detailed.” Garza added that there might be more good news on the way, as LESEN is currently in “active and open conversation” about a similar agreement with members of Delancey Street Associates, the Essex Crossing development team. Work on the giant development between Delancey and Grand Sts. — in the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area — will start next spring. According to Garza, the employment target would include construction jobs as
well as the permanent jobs that will be created once the commercial and residential tenants move in by 2023. “A lot of that is contingent on who the tenants ultimately are,” Garza said. “But I know that the whole spectrum of jobs is in conversation now.” The mega-project offers potential for a broad array of employment opportunities. “So this serves as a model that can be replicated and, hopefully, scaled up,” Garza said of the Hotel Indigo agreement. In a press release hailing the announcement, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, “Once they are members of the New York Hotel Trades Council, workers at this hotel will be on the path to the middle class, with solid wages, free family healthcare and retirement security.” LESEN has secured previous working partnerships with the Hotel on Rivington, the Thompson LES hotel (now SIXTY LES) and Basketball City. The network includes Community Board 3, Chinese American Planning Council, Chinatown Manpower Project, The Door, Henry Street Settlement, University Settlement, GOLES and — since July — Grand Street Settlement. The organization provides job training and other skills to local residents, and works with businesses to place them in jobs. September 4, 2014
Through all the changes, accordionist plays on BY YANNIC RACK
September 4, 2014
PHOTO BY YANNIC RACK
eroin, Heineken, Haagen-Dazs and Henry. In that order.” These are the things that Helen Stratford gave up on her way to discovering the accordion, the last one on the list being her husband. “Being a musician was never on the list of things to do,” she said. On a sunny day you can find Helen, 58, sitting on a bench in Tompkins Square Park, in the heart of the East Village that she first called home in the late ’70s. In fact, back then she was actually living in the park, homeless. “I came here because I was sort of an addict and an artist — and in the late ’70s, the two were compatible,” she said. “The East Village really romanticized and glamorized the underworld, and you could come here and hide. You could just dress like a bohemian or a character edited out of ‘Kojak’ and get underneath the radar, and people would say ‘artist’. I’ve slept in this park. There were times when I was sleeping in stairwells, in parks and on rooftops.” Nowadays, you’ll find her much more cheerful and life-affirming, playing for herself — and without a box for change — in a bright turquoise Chinese dress and an elegant straw hat over her shoulder-long blonde hair. But long before you see her, you will hear the heavy sound of her accordion, one of six she owns, with her first name inscribed down the front in bold silver letters. She has a wide repertoire, enriched during many travels, and readily strikes up Eastern European tunes, French classics and German folksongs, often singing along in the original language. The very first song she ever learned on the accordion, after buying a used one in a pawnshop in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, was “Amazing Grace.” “I was married at the time and my husband was off at work,” she recalled. “I figured out how to play ‘Amazing Grace’ on the accordion, and I was so proud of myself. And when my husband came home from work — and he happened to be German — I said, ‘Hey Ralf, watch this’, and I brought out the accordion and I played ‘Amazing Grace’ and he said” — at this point, she falls into a broad German accent — “‘Very good, Helen, but you’re holding the accordion upside down.’ So I had figured out how to play the accordion all by myself, upside down!” Since then she’s improved, playing in bars and clubs around the East Village, like Joe’s Pub, P.S. 122 and Sidewalk Cafe, but also carrying her music — which she often writes her-
Helen Stratford playing one of her accordions in Tompkins Square Park.
self — to places as far away as India, Morocco and all across Europe. “My accordion took me all over the world,” she said, ”and it’s opened up all kinds of borders for me.” She once played an engagement party in Egypt and has just come back from a trip to Paris — where she was staying with someone who first heard her play in Thailand. Helen says she grew attached to the accordion in Czechoslovakia, which she visited when the Berlin wall came down. “When I got to Prague, I sort of fell in love with the city,” she said. “It combined three elements that you don’t often see in unison, which were beautiful architecture, poverty and intelligence. In those days, no one there had any jobs, life took place on the street and on park benches, and you’d see all these people with their shoes duck-taped together, missing teeth, speaking very passionately about Christian existentialism versus Jewish existentialism — it was very passionate and very beautiful. And there would always be the sound of the accordion, somewhere off into the distance.” Helen mainly plays in the park to escape the isolation of her apartment and has stopped playing for change.
“If you put a box out, some people will ignore you and keep walking,” she noted. “This way, they can just listen to me!” A heavily tattooed young man on his lunch break told her how much he loved her music, and an Orthodox nun stopped by to say hello. Spending time with her makes the East Village still seem like a village. When, in the distance, a white-haired man walked by with his dog, she called out to see if it was Jim Power, the famous street artist who has been installing his mosaics all over the area for 40 years. (It wasn’t.) “New York and the East Village — you know, people came here because they were artists, and original,” she said. “When I moved here, the East Village was poor. But, like in Prague, there were poor intellectuals, poor artists, every nationality, every race and every ethnicity. It was like a refuge.” Does she still like it now? “Um…it’s a little yuppie, it’s a little antiseptic,” she offered. “Back in the late ’70s, it was like war-torn Beirut or something. I mean, most of these buildings didn’t exist. Tompkins Square Park was very dangerous and ominous and full of homeless and down-and-outs and derelicts
and denizens. The East Village used to offer promise, much like Berlin or Krakow or Edinburgh now.” Helen Stratford herself is clearly a part of the old East Village, an East Village that still hangs on. She shared a little anecdote as I walked her to her next appointment of the day, along St. Mark’s Place. She was walking home from the park recently and saw Jim Power riding his “old people’s bike,” a red mobility scooter, across the street, she says. “Do you know [the movie] ‘Easy Rider?’ Yes? Well, me and Jim, we’re that generation. So I called out to him, ‘Hey Jim, born to be wild!’ And he loved it.” Before we said goodbye, she played me one of her own songs, a sentimental melody called “Autumn Rhapsody” that she wrote as a tribute to Tompkins Square Park and her history with it. “There’s going to come a point in mid-October when all of these leaves are topaz and gold, and it’s just beautiful,” she explained. Then she started singing the first two lines of the song, echoing more than just her own past and present: “Well hello, do you remember me? I’m not the girl I used to be.” EastVillagerNews.com
The Adventures of an Underemployed Urban Elf Rev. Jen tries to keep 400 Trolls from a life on the street BY REV. JEN (rev-jen.com)
PHOTO BY JOHN T. FOSTER
hen I saw the envelope that had been slid under my door, a chill ran up my spine, the kind I get when I see a massive water bug or some other gross thing unwelcome in my apartment. I knew what it was. Since having my unemployment cut off, I have struggled to pay my rent. Selling off much of what I own, excluding my ass, has hardly helped. I have looked for work, pretending to be “normal” — though no amount of smoke and mirrors can conceal the fact that I’m a 42-yearold elf who suffers from hypomania, panic disorder and a skewed sense of reality. The fact that I’ve written seven books and had five published isn’t taken into account when applying to become a Target Team Member. Despite the fact that I was recently on the cover of Time Out New York, I have approximately as much money as I did when I was seven. Opening the dreaded envelope of doom, I saw what was expected: a date with Landlord Tenant Court and the threat of eviction. I always knew I would end up in either a straightjacket or a cardboard box. I placed the letter on the table next to my $500 overdue Con Ed bill. You can have one fridge, a single light bulb and a hairdryer you use once a week and somehow always owe 100 bucks at the end of the month. Therefore, many New Yorkers let the bills pile up, making believe gas and electricity are free. Con Ed is used to this game of make-believe, so they generally only send turn-off notices when the bill is exorbitant. And mine was. Life is Dickensian enough with electricity. I can only imagine it in the dark. I needed a plan, money, a job, a therapist, a lawyer and a whole lot of things that seemed out of my reach. Luckily, a beer was well within reach. A little background on my apartment: It’s on the Lower East Side and I’ve lived in it for 19 years, before the magical land below Houston was infested with people who subscribe to the
Rev. Jen test drives future affordable housing options, while remaining hopeful that a recent benefit and a current gofundme.com campaign will prevent her Trolls from losing their home.
Wall Street Journal, order overpriced drinks containing more than two ingredients and reenact what appears to be “Girls Gone Wild Cancun” on Ludlow Street every Friday and Saturday night. Living in a crumbling tenement hasn’t been easy. In 2002, my kitchen ceiling collapsed. I was eating a sandwich at the time, and was already so used to crap falling apart that I calmly finished my sandwich amidst the rubble before calling my super. In 2010, a steam pipe explosion caused by a rotted valve flooded my entire apartment while I was at work. The heat and steam were so in-
tense that my singular cabinet fell off the wall, my paintings warped in half, my computer was destroyed and my beloved Chihuahua [Rev. Jen Junior] almost died. There are still holes in the walls and my ceiling still bears cracks the size of the San Andreas Fault. When you are rent stabilized, requests for repairs go largely ignored. Despite this, I love my apartment. The light is great for painting, the ceilings are high and my neighbors are cool. Because of its convenient Downtown location and because of my friends’ REV. JEN, continued on p.16 September 4, 2014
Carry through on even the craziest ideas
© WALTER WLODARCZYK
© WALTER WLODARCZYK
Slide show quiz: In an effort to make boys like Troll Dolls, in the 1990s the series mashed up the Trolls with what action figure brand?
Janeane Garofalo, at the recent Save the Troll Museum Benefit Party.
REV. JEN, continued from p. 15
September 4, 2014
PHOTO BY JOHN T. FOSTER
predilection for booze, it has also served as an aging youth hostel for many art stars, especially during the polar vortex (despite inefficient heat). More importantly, it has also served as the world famous Lower East Side Troll Museum for 14 years, an undertaking that began whilst having a pint (or several) with my friend, Tony, at the old Ludlow Street Luna Lounge. “You know, Tony,” I said, “people pay good money to go to the Tenement Museum and view a place that looks exactly like my apartment but is nicer. I should take my massive Troll Doll collection, put it on shelves and invite visitors over. Like the Met, I’ll make admission a suggested donation, only I’ll make it a 3,000 dollar suggested donation and maybe some rich person will throw me a bone.” “Great idea,” he said. Actually, it was an insane idea — but one of my mottos is “Carry through on even the craziest ideas.” So, a few weeks later, the Troll Museum was created. It has since gotten more worldwide press than the Kardashians and has become a haven for celebrities — including actor Alan Cumming, who once marched in front of the Met with me, handing out flyers promoting the Troll Museum. Clearly, I cannot let this important cultural institution go to ruin. Otherwise, 400 Trolls, a Chihuahua, a rescued cat, a dude and an elf will all end up on the streets. Luckily, I have friends who sometimes give me good advice (but
Decked out in blue and white stripes to support Argentina, avid World Cup fans CC John and Rev. Jen are on their way to “hang out like idiots” at tolerant bro bar, Hair of the Dog.
mostly bad advice given at four in the morning). My friend, Kat, suggested I start an account on gofundme.com, which has been an excellent resource wherein I’ve been trading art for donations and have almost reached my 5,000 dollar goal. You can donate to the Troll Museum and get cool art at gofundme.com/by5bzs. The next solution was obvious: Throw a big goddamned party. This is my solution to everything (when the steam pipe explosion happened, I threw a “Troll Hairdressing Party”). The kind folk at Cake Shop (152 Ludlow St.) provided a venue, and my celebutante friends performed — including actress and long-term Troll Museum supporter, Janeane Garofalo, along with Faceboy, The Slut Junkies, Mr. Lower East Side Matthew Silver, and more. It was an action-packed
night full of fabulosity, despite my inability to afford a red carpet. Unfortunately, Landlord Tenant Court wasn’t so awesome. How does one find escape from such a nightmare? Because I never want this column to be absolutely depressing and because it’s my job to promote fun things to do, here are some suggestions on how to avoid reality.
HAIR OF THE DOG
(168 Orchard St. at Stanton St.) Community Board 3 hates this place, but I love it. It is noisy and it might be viewed as a “bro bar,” but it has two very important things going for it: cheap ass drinks and working televisions that show sports. As an avid sports fan with a broken TV and not a lot of money to spend on drinks, this is vital to my survival. The bartenders
there are kind — so kind, they let my friend CC John and I hang out dressed like idiots, painted in blue and white stripes, in support of Argentina, during the entirety of the World Cup. Argentina might have lost, but we won in savings. Note: Lucky Jack’s (129 Orchard, btw. Delancey & Rivington) is still my fave bar — but unless I’m going to move a cot into the place and actually start sleeping in the bar, I have to limit my hours spent there.
SWIMMING IN THE EAST RIVER
A lot of people say that the East River is filthy. Guess what? So am I. The East River can only improve me. CC John and I recently tested the waters to find out. Maybe we were trying to drown ourselves over Argentina losing in overtime, but what we discovered is that the East River gets a bad rap. Plunging in, fully clothed at our friend, Jessica Delfino’s album launch party (on the shore of the river), we were pleasantly surprised, as the water seemed to cleanse us of negativity. Maybe my landlord should go for a swim.
THE ALLEN STREET MEDIAN STRIP
This is an underused venue. There are benches you can sit on and enjoy the end of the most perfect summer ever while carrying on conversations with questionable characters. Just don’t take my bench! REV. JEN, continued on p.17 EastVillagerNews.com
Median strips, East River dips help you avoid reality
PHOTO BY MATT GREENSTEIN
PHOTO BY JOHN T. FOSTER
They love that dirty water: Rev. Jen and CC John are cleansed, spiritually at least, by a dip in the East River.
REV. JEN, continued from p. 16
“BAYSIDE! THE MUSICAL!”
(at Theater 80 St. Marks | baysidethemusical.com) Personally, I never watched “Saved by the Bell.” I was too busy going to college and taking LSD — but even if you’ve never watched the show, this musical is hilarious, well-choreographed and acted. And it stars Dustin Diamond, who played Screech on the show and went on to make a salacious porn video!
GETTING’ A GOOD HAIRCUT
(Misin Shin Salon, 122 Orchard St., btw. Delancey & Rivington) These guys cut hair as if they were performing brain surgery. Ev-
ery strand is valued. Because they knew I was broke and in need of fabulousness, I was thrown a freebie. Normally, I would be traumatized if someone cut off four inches of my mane (being a Leo), but my hair looks frigging awesome. There’s nothing like a superficial solution to internal problems. I now look like an existential, aging “That Girl” and it suits me perfectly.
I know I’m supposed to write only about Downtown NYC, but something very strange happened to me this summer: I went to Boston three times. I had never been there in my life — but in rapid succession, I was invited. The first time was for a dog-sitting gig, the second was to go to my friend, Tom Tenney’s high school reunion and the third was for a wedding. The high school reunion was by far the wackiest event, as Tom request-
Sure cure for the blues: “Bayside! The Musical!” has “Saved by the Bell” star Dustin Diamond — and much more — going for it.
ed I dress as my male alter-ego “Steverino” in order to freak out his former classmates. My identity as a woman was quickly discovered when my ‘stache fell off, but the event was much like living a “Three’s Company” episode. The
dogs I watched were awesome, as was the wedding where I was surrounded by trees, flowers, smart people and my BF. I never thought I’d say this, but I don’t hate Boston that much. Maybe we should all try to get along.
A FESTIVAL OF TRANSFORMATIVE ARTS AT BARUCH PERFORMING ARTS CENTER.
Laverne Cox & M. Lamar
Sept. 9 at 8PM / $20 / $100VIP
On Men, Women, & the Rest of Us Sept. 12 at 8PM / $30 / $60VIP
Theater for the New City • 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net
TNC’S AWARD-WINNING STREET THEATER COMPANY in EMERGENCY!!! or THE WORLD TAKES A “SELFIE” A New Musical for the Street Written, Directed and Lyrics by CRYSTAL FIELD Music Composed by JOSEPH VERNON BANKS
An Evening with
August 2 - September 14 Saturday & Sunday, 2pm The Final Four Shows are: Sat, September 6th, 2pm- Corporal Thompson Park @ Bdway & Wayne St., Staten Island Sun, September 7th, 2pm- Washington Square Park, Manhattan Sat, September 13th, 2pm- Wise Towers at W. 90th St. btwn Columbus & Amsterdam, Manhattan Sun, September 14th, 2pm- St. Marks Church at E. 10th St., Manhattan ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ALSO AT THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY: TNC’S 5TH ANNUAL DREAM UP FESTIVAL Come enjoy the final week of the Dream Up Festival! For more information & ticket prices, visit our website: www.theaterforthenewcity.net/dreamup.htm TNC’s Programs are funded in part by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts
Sept. 13 at 8PM / $25 / $50VIP Tickets: 212-352-3101 or online at www.baruch.cuny.edu/bpac
25th St between Lexington & Third Avenues For more information on GenderFluid, visit www.SpinCycleNYC.com September 4, 2014
Buhmann on Art
There were no “blacks only” benches in Johannesburg — blacks sat on the curbstones. Gelatin silver print | 8 5/8 x 12 5/8 in. (22 x 32 cm). © THE ERNEST COLE FAMILY TRUST/ COURTESY THE HASSELBLAD FOUNDATION
According to Struan Robertson, a photojournalist and a friend of Ernest Cole’s, tsotsis (thugs or street criminals) used the extreme crowding on black trains to rob passengers, especially on payday. From “House of Bondage” | 1967 | Gelatin silver print | 8 5/8 x 12 5/8 in. (22 x 32 cm).
September 4, 2014
© THE ERNEST COLE FAMILY TRUST/ COURTESY THE HASSELBLAD FOUNDATION
© THE ERNEST COLE FAMILY TRUST/ COURTESY THE HASSELBLAD FOUNDATION
Township mother fights losing battle to keep son, age nine, from running off to live life on the streets. She tries to assert authority with threats: “What’s your future going to be like without an education?” But it is too late. The boy — called Papa — is out of control. From “House of Bondage” | 1967 | Gelatin silver print | 7 7/8 x 11 3/8 in. (20 x 29 cm).
BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN (stephaniebuhmann.com)
ERNEST COLE: PHOTOGRAPHER
Born in 1940, Ernest Cole was one of South Africa’s first black photojournalists. In 1958, when working as a darkroom assistant at DRUM magazine in Johannesburg, he began to acquaint other young black journalists, photographers, jazz musicians and political leaders in the burgeoning anti-apartheid movement. After becoming increasingly radicalized in his political views, he started working on a book that would communicate to the rest of the world the corrosive effects of South Africa’s apartheid system. In 1966, a year before said book with the title “House of Bondage” was published, Cole was forced out of South Africa for good. The images he captured before his exile — many of which will be on display — compassionately depict the lives of black people as they negotiated apartheid’s racist laws and oppression. Migrant mineworkers waiting to be dis-
charged from labor, parks and benches for “Europeans Only,” young men arrested and handcuffed for entering cities without their passes, and crowds crammed into claustrophobic commuter trains are just some of the scenes that Cole focused on. While the cruel realities of segregation, destitution and violence weave through many of these moving images, others depict lighter, intimate moments between mothers and children, couples and friends. This exhibition will feature more than 100 rare black-and-white gelatin silver prints, accompanied by captions from “House of Bondage.” Organized by the Hasselblad Foundation in Gothenburg, Sweden, which holds Cole’s stunning archive, this marks the first major solo museum show of Cole’s work. It is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue. Through Dec. 6. Reception: Mon., Sept. 8, 6–8 p.m. At Grey Art Gallery (100 Washington Square East, btw. Waverly & Washington Places). Hours: Tues./Thurs. Fri. from 11 a.m.–6 p.m. | Wed., 11 a.m.–8 p.m. | Sat., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Call 212-998-6780 or visit nuy.edu/ greyart.
Just Do Art BY SCOTT STIFFLER
HUDSON PARK LIBRARY’S MEL BROOKS FESTIVAL
PHOTO BY PECULIAR WORKS PROJECT
Three men and a doctor all play God, in the sanctuary of Judson Memorial Church. See “3Christs.”
PHOTO BY LIVIA SANTOS
Hudson Park Library’s free film series spends every Thursday in September paying tribute to what’s arguably the very best of Mel Brooks’ cinematic output — bookended by a pair of 1974 classics (“Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein”) that made it very difficult to ever again take westerns and horror films seriously. Bonus stroke of comedic genius: Madeline Kahn, in any scene from either film. Brooks’ own on-screen work in 1981’s “History of the World Part One” isn’t too shabby either (he’s especially good as Torquemada, in the eightminute-plus Spanish Inquisition song). Decades later, he’d bring that golden age Hollywood production number savvy to Broadway, in the musical reboot of “The Producers.” The original 1968 version rounds out the roster of this mini-festival. Free. All screenings are at 2 p.m., Thursdays in Sept. At the Hudson Park Library (66 Leroy St., btw. Seventh Ave. South & Hudson St.). For the schedule, call 212-243-6876 or visit nypl.org./locations.hudson-park.
One great persona deserves another: A Warhol superstar is interpreted by longtime Downtown performer Tammy Faye Starlite, in “Nico: Underground.”
PHOTO BY BOB GRUEN
Peculiar Works Project continues their tradition of site-specific productions, by setting “3Christs” in the sanctuary of Judson Memorial Church. Co-playwrights SM Dale and Barry Rowell based their script on a psychological study that took place in Michigan’s Ypsilanti State Hospital from 195961. Betting that he can cure three paranoid schizophrenics with one harsh dose of reality, Dr. Milton forces them to live together. Eventually, he reasons, all will have to admit that they can’t possibly be the one true Jesus Christ. Good intentions, bad idea. The overconfident doctor soon finds himself playing God — to varying degrees of success. As the delusional patients are manipulated by a series of indisputable truths and convenient lies, the nurse charged with overseeing their day-to-day existence begins to question both the ethics and effectiveness of destroying one’s
She’ll be your mirror: “Nico: Underground” reconsiders the artistic legacy of a woman who was much more than a Warhol muse.
core belief system. “Perhaps,” she reasons, “psychosis represents the best terms some people can come to with their lives.” Fri., Sept. 5–Sun., Sept. 28. Thurs.–Sun. at 7 p.m. In the sanctuary of Judson Memorial Church (55 Washington Square South, at Thompson St.). For tickets ($18), call 866811-4111 or visit peculiarworks.org ($10 preview tickets, until Sept. 7’s opening night).
Personapalooza! It’s yesterday once more, when Theater for the New City hosts 1960s Warhol superstar and Velvet Underground centerpiece Nico. Born Christina Paffagen in pre-war Cologne, Germany, she’d grow up to assume the guise of a Teutonic chanteuse who captivated Bob Dylan, David Bowie and Jim Morrison — while making her mark as a distinctive artist whose glum monotone was (and is!) ripe for parody. Something much more than that is offered by gifted satirist Tammy Lang. A longtime NYC performance scene presence as country/gospel crooner Tammy Faye Starlite, Lang as Starlite channels the singer/songwriter ’s genuine greatness and undeniable goofiness, in “Nico: Underground.” Anchored by Starlite’s deadon vocal performance, the show functions as a jukebox musical (a “cavalcade of non-hits”) as well as a recreation of actual encounters Nico had with journalists (via Jeff Ward’s portrayal of The Interviewer). While Nico’s dour worldview is played for laughs, this production has genuine artistic merit. Starlite does a fascinating job of coaxing emotion from that iconic monotone, and the classic songs (including “Femme Fatale” and “I’ll Be Your Mirror”) benefit from the top-notch musicianship of Keith Hartel (bass, guitar), Richard Feridun (guitar), Ron Miracle Metz (drums), Dave Dunton (keyboard) and Craig Hoek (sax, flute). Sept. 11–28. Thurs.–Sat. at 8 p.m. and Sun. at 3 p.m. In the Cabaret Theater, at Theater for the New City (155 First Ave., btw. 9th & 10th Sts.). Tickets: $15. For reservations, visit theaterforthenewcity.net. For info on the artist: facebook.com/tammyfayestarlite. September 4, 2014
Teachout keeps heat on Cuomo as primary looms; BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
September 4, 2014
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
s the Democratic primary for governor headed into the homestretch, set for Tues., Sept. 9, Governor Andrew Cuomo and challenger Zephyr Teachout both marched in the West Indian Day Parade on Labor Day. Cuomo marched with Mayor Bill de Blasio and his family — wife Chirlane McCray and children Chiara and Dante — who did their signature “smackdown” dance. De Blasio, despite clashing with Cuomo earlier in the year over taxing the rich for pre-K funding, among other issues, has been supporting the governor’s re-election. Before Teachout entered the Democratic primary, the mayor backed Cuomo over her for the Working Family Party’s nomination. Insiders say de Blasio is just being politically expedient, in that, he knows Cuomo ultimately will win, and that they’ll have to work together for the next four years. Meanwhile, Teachout marched with her running mate, Tim Wu, who is campaigning to be lieutenant governor. For her part, Teachout, at one point, impressively was dancing even though no music was playing. Talk about “dancing to a different drummer.” On Tuesday, former Public Advocate Mark Green endorsed the Teachout-Wu ticket. A small group of press gathered outside the Municipal Building, on Centre St., for the announcement. “Today I am endorsing two fellow progressive Democrats for governor and lieutenant governor,” Green said in his remarks. “At first I was content to sit on the sidelines as a commentator this summer, until I thought about Zephyr, who I’ve been impressed with since I heard her lecture about money in politics at the Brennan Center two years ago...and until I watched the governor ran roughshod over the Moreland Commission, then refuse to debate her while disingenuously blaming someone by the name of ‘my campaign.’ “While the governor surely has accomplishments, I held him up to his own high standards of openness, progressiveness, reform...and held him up to the special progressive leadership our blue state has enjoyed, from Franklin Roosevelt to Pat Moynihan, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer. “I had hoped for a governor more principled than political, more candid than transactional, more progressive than hair-splitting,” Green said. “True, as The New York Times editorial put it, Zephyr and Tim are
Zephyr Teachout marching at the West Indian Day Parade. Teachout even danced without music at some points.
Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu, left, receiving Mark Green’s endorsement on Tuesday.
inexperienced in official public office,” Green continued. “Experience in public office can certainly be a virtue. But there are times when experience takes a back seat to the kind of fresh idealism that can truly shake up politics-as-usual in Albany. “Can a smart, progressive law professor do well in government? Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren seem to be doing fine. So I’m today endorsing Zephyr and Tim as ‘change we can believe in.’ ” Green, who was the Big Apple’s first public advocate, added that if
a split ticket is elected, with Cuomo and Wu winning, rather than Cuomo’s running mate, Kathy Hochul, it would be a situation that could work very well. In short, Wu could be a “statewide public advocate,” reviewing the performance of state agencies, as the public advocate does in New York City. “Many pundits consider them Titanic underdogs,” Green said of Teachout and Wu. “But to quote our Lotto motto, ‘Ya never know.’ ” In response to Green’s support, Teachout said, “I am proud to accept the endorsement of a great Democrat
like Mark Green. We think we’re on the verge of a historic upset. The endorsements keep rolling in, and voters are excited about the prospect of electing our first female governor, and our first Asian-American ever to be elected statewide.” Wu said, “We are honored to accept this endorsement. I hope to make the lieutenant governor office into a statewide public advocate position, and will be looking to Mark Green for guidance and support.” As Green had mentioned, later that night Cuomo would indeed refuse to show up at NY 1’s TV studio to debate Teachout. At the press conference, Teachout said she and Wu actually were considering endorsing each other, since New Yorkers deserve a debate and an airing of the issues. Meanwhile, Randy Credico, another candidate, blasted Teachout for not pushing to include him in the hoped-for debate, too. On Wednesday, actor Mark Ruffalo — a staunch fracking opponent — joined representatives of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter in announcing his backing of the progressive pair of candidates. Ruffalo applauded their call for a statewide ban on fracking. “More than this just being a political endorsement of two candidates,” the actor said, “I’m endorsing the vision and policies that they are promoting for a statewide ban on hydrofracking and [their] drive to make New York State the renewable energy capital of the country.” Ruffalo referenced the comprehensive scientific “compendium” that was recently authored by New York’s medical and health professionals, citing hundreds of studies and demonstrating water and air contamination across the country, public health impacts and the economic downsides and fallacies of fracking. “Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu have reached this scientifically sound position that fracking must be banned and I’m proud to stand here with them in support,” he said. Last week, as part of their “Whistleblower Tour,” Teachout and Wu visited a fracking site in Pennsylvania to see the shale-drilling method first-hand and talk to residents about their experiences living in the gas fields, where, they say, data just confirmed at least 243 cases of water contamination. After Ruffalo’s remarks, Teachout said, “Mark is a thoughtful and passionate New Yorker who believes that all of New York State deserves PRIMARY, continued on p. 21 EastVillagerNews.com
Governor ducks TV debate in frontrunner strategy PRIMARY, continued from p. 20
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
to be safe from the dangers of fracking and that we should be leading the country in renewable energy — and we couldn’t agree more. And he’s the Hulk!” Representatives from the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter were also present, highlighting their recent endorsement of Teachout and Wu. The environmental group’s Roger Downs said, in a statement, “Like Mark, we’ve been inspired by the Teachout-Wu vision to rebuild New York through a robust, clean energy economy and reinvigorate a democracy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy and well-connected. We look forward to working with Mark and so many New Yorkers who want to change history on Sept. 9.” Fracking-impacted residents from Pennsylvania who met with Teachout and Wu on their recent fracking tour also came to the press conference to support them. “The oil and gas industry is lying to the people of New York, just as they have lied to the people of Pennsylvania and every other state that Stand-up comic Randy Credico, who is also on the Democratic ballot for governor, handed out fliers at the West Indian Day Parade. has fracking,” said Ray Kemble, an ex-gas worker and affected resident from Dimock, Pennsylvania. “I came sues to technology. He is the one who issue — which many inner-city fam- When running for Congress Upstate, down to New York City today to tell coined the term ‘’Net neutrality’! ilies feel offer their children a better she was endorsed by the N.R.A. She the truth about what is happening Timothy Wu is a...Harvard-educated education and a chance at a brighter supported weakening environmento those of us on the front lines who lawyer, renowned author and fighter future. Co-location remains the most tal protections in some areas, and have had our water and air poisoned for the consumer. fraught aspect of the ongoing charter voted against aspects of Obamacare, and our communities made sick by “ ‘Zephyr’ is a word for a breeze school debate. as well as a bill to allow undocuthis industry.” or a light wind. Along with Timothy Teachout has also made campaign mented immigrants to get driver’s On Aug. 28, Downtown Indepen- Wu, we need this fresh air in our gov- finance reform in Albany a campaign licenses. Reporters also asked Teachout dent Democrats endorsed Teachout ernment.” plank, and is a critic of the Common and Wu. In doing so, they joined the Also endorsing Teachout were Core state-standards school curricu- about accusations that she recently ducked repeated opportunities on Village Independent Democrats, Co- Paul Newell, a Lower East Side Dem- lum. alition for a District Alternative and ocratic district leader, as well as a In addition, both the Times and Fred Dicker’s Albany politics radio the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic number of publications, including Daily News — which endorsed Cuo- show to take a position on the recent Club. D.I.D.’s endorsement was unan- The Nation, Rochester City Newspa- mo — said Teachout lacks executive Gaza war. At the time, Cuomo was in Israel. imous. per, Metroland (Albany) and the Red experience. In her most detailed response yet, “Zephyr Teachout zeroes right in Hook Star-Revue. Asked by The Villager about her on issues of great concern to us: FrackThe New York Times didn’t en- lack of executive experience or busi- she said on Tuesday, “New York has a ing, government corruption, infra- dorse either Cuomo or Teachout, but ness leadership background — for very special relationship with Israel.” New York has the world’s second structure investment, schools, natural hammered Cuomo for “hobbling” example, Mike Bloomberg ran a mulresources, the business economy up- his own anti-corruption Moreland tinational corporation before becom- largest Jewish population outside of state and downstate,” a D.I.D. press Commission’s activities, while add- ing mayor — Teachout said that one Israel, she noted. “As governor, it will be part of my release on the endorsement said. “Her ing that many voters might well see in 12 U.S. lack such executive expelegal and academic expertise are well Teachout — a corruption fighter — as rience. However, she countered, her job to be supportive of that relationsuited to the job at this time in our an attractive alternative. The main experience as an educator and head- ship,” she stated. Asked afterward in a follow-up history. She is an expert on political reason for the Times’s lack of an en- ing a good-government nonprofit corruption and antitrust/big bank dorsement was Cuomo’s hypocrisy group are just as valid qualifications. question by The Villager about her issues. She’s clerked in the U.S. Court on the corruption issue, the paper She is often retained as a consultant position on the Israel-Hamas conflict, of Appeals, was a director in Howard said, since he came into office claim- on startups for businesses and non- Teachout, said, “I’m not running for president. The way I feel is the way Dean’s campaign, and was part of a ing to clean up Albany. His actions profits, she added. foundation that focused on the role of on the Moreland Commission flew in “I am very confident about my most New Yorkers feel — which is for peace and compassion.” money in politics and advocating for the face of his own pledge, the Times management ability,” she asserted. Taking a stance on Israel certainly policy changes. She also hang-glides. said. Green also chimed in on Teachout’s We like the whole package. On the other hand, the state’s econ- behalf, noting, “Bloomberg made risks alienating some left voters, sim“Timothy Wu has the attitude and omy is doing well and Cuomo has money — she made policy. [Mitt] ilar to how Cuomo would lose some forward voice to push New York State whipped the State Legislature into Romney ran a big company,” he add- support if he were to make a decision into the future,” the D.I.D. release shape in some regards, repeatedly ed. “But it’s obviously not the only on fracking before the primary. Currently, he continues to say the state is continued. “He believes in open de- bringing the budget in on time. He consideration.” mocracy as well as an open Internet. won gay marriage and passed the The Times did endorse Wu over studying the health issues involved in That works for us. His background nation’s toughest gun laws. He stood Hochul, though. Hochul has been fracking. State voters are estimated to is extraordinary, from antitrust is- up for charter schools — a hot-button criticized as being too conservative. be about evenly split on fracking. EastVillagerNews.com
September 4, 2014
From T.R.’s townhouse to soaring new tower, REAL ESTATE BY LAUREN PRICE
Fall REAL ESTATE
Preview On September 18 & 25 NYC Community Media will present it’s Fall Real-Estate Preview Section, written by Lauren Price.
For Advertising Opportunities Contact: Bill Fink email@example.com | 646-452-2467 Reservation closing date is Wed. Sept 10 / Creative Materials due Sept 12
September 4, 2014
The most noteworthy historic site in the neighborhood is at 28 E. 20th St., where Theodore Roosevelt was born in 1858 (nps.gov/thrb/historyculture/places.htm). Fun facts about the area surround the history of Danceteria, a disco-era club formerly at 30 W. 21st St., where Madonna, who worked as a coat-check girl there in the early ’80s, had her debut performance. The club also served as the disco setting in her first film, 1985’s “Desperately Seeking Susan.” By the mid-19th century, mansions framed Madison Square Park. The well-to-do families who inhabited the area included the grandparents of Winston Churchill, who owned 41 E. 26th St. Across the street was the Jerome Mansion, which by 1867 had morphed into the Union League Club. Over time, the building changed hands to the University Club One Madison as seen from Madison Square Park. and finally the Manhattan Club, where members such For the week ending Aug. 6, the avas Grover Cleveland, Al Smith and erage listing price for homes was $3.86 Franklin D. Roosevelt dropped by for million, a decrease of 1.2 percent, or cocktails and bonhomie. Next door was the Madison Square Hotel, where $45,918, compared to the prior week. Streeteasy (streeteasy.com) recently up-and-coming Hollywood actors reported that the median annual rent such as Henry Fonda and James Stewper square foot for NOMad (North of art roomed in the 1930s. Though the Jerome Mansion ob- Madison Square Park) is $69. Thus, tained landmark status in 1965, two an 800-square-foot unit would be years later the city permitted its owner about $4,600 a month. For the Flatiron to demolish the 1859 mansion, along neighborhood, they report that the with the Madison Square Hotel, to median rent per square foot is $78, build the New York Merchandise translating to $5,200 per month for an 800-square-foot unit. Mart, which opened in 1974. Delmonico’s restaurant was located Developed by Related Compaat Fifth Ave. and 26th St. between 1876 nies and HFZ Capital Group in partand 1899 and attracted the Gilded Age nership with CIM Group, the Cetra elite. Said to be the birthplace of Lob/ Ruddy-designed One Madison, ster Newberg, it claimed bold-faced diners the likes of Oscar Wilde, Mark overlooking Madison Square Park Twain, Charles Dickens, J.P. Morgan, at 23 E. 22nd St., is now selling conFrance’s Napoleon III and Britain’s dominiums (onemadison.com). A King Edward VII while he was prince slender 53-unit, 60-story bronze-andglass tower, it sports gorgeous views of Wales. from a mix of studios to four-bedroom homes with keyed elevator acON THE MARKET cess. The building also includes two townhome residences in a contiguous Trulia (trulia.com) reports that the five-story building. The main enFlatiron District’s median sales price trance to One Madison, on 22nd St., between May 14 and Aug. 14 –– based was designed BKSK Architects. on 16 sales –– was $2.167 million. A select number of units have Compared to the same period a year private outdoor space and eat-in ago, that represents an increase of 81.1 kitchens, and all the full-floor units percent –– or $970,556 –– though the showcase panoramic views from number of sales decreased from 21. both inside and the terraces. Rupert Average price per square foot was Murdoch recently bought a one-of-a$1,967, an increase of 39.7 percent compared to the same period last year. FLATIRON, continued on p. 23 EastVillagerNews.com
DAVID SUNDBERG/ ESTO
iven the multiplicity of ways Manhattanites identify their neighborhoods geographically, when some people mention the Flatiron and Madison Square Park neighborhoods, others have in mind sections of Gramercy Park, Chelsea, Murray Hill and Union Square. The Flatiron neighborhood is widely thought of as the blocks bordered by 20th St. and Union Square, running from Sixth or Seventh Aves. on the west to Lexington Ave. or Irving Place on the east. The Madison Square Park neighborhood surrounds the park’s historic district and, broadly speaking, is bounded by 25th and 20th Sts. and by Sixth and Lexington Aves. Notable historic landmarks throughout the bustling Flatiron District include the New York Life Insurance Building, at 51 Madison Ave. at 26th St., the MetLife Tower, on Madison Ave. near 23rd St., the Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State, on Madison between 25th and 26th Sts., and, of course, the iconic tri-
angle-shaped Flatiron Building, at 175 Fifth Ave. and 23rd St. When built in 1902, the Flatiron Building became one of the city’s first skyscrapers north of Union Square. The 1909 Hecla Iron Works clock outside the front entrance of 200 Fifth Ave., at 25th St. –– formally known as the Toy Building –– won Landmarks Preservation Commission designation in 1981. The neighborhood boasts two national historic districts: the Ladies’ Mile Historic District (preserve2.org/ ladiesmile), which was a shopper’s paradise from the mid-19th to the early-20th century. Running between 15th and 24th Sts. from Sixth Ave. to Park Ave. South, early former locales for department stores such as Lord & Taylor (Broadway and 20th St.), B. Altman’s (Sixth Ave. between 18th and 19th Sts.), and R.H. Macy’s (14th St. and Sixth Ave.) reigned supreme there. When it opened in 1896 on Sixth Ave. at 18th St., Siegel-Cooper was thought to be the largest department store in the world. For its opening day, the store hired some 9,000 employees (clerks, packers and drivers) because they expected their debut to attract nearly 200,000 shoppers.
Flatiron is at crossroads of history and the hot ances. Doorman services are aroundthe-clock. Priced at $1.35 million, this residence includes private storage within the building. Currently, a tenant is occupying the unit through February 2015. (townrealestate.com/ listing.html?webID=712130)
FLATIRON, continued from p. 22
kind five-bedroom penthouse triplex, along with one additional unit (more than 7,000 square feet) for $57 million. Loft-like interiors were created by both Yabu Pushelberg and Cetra / Ruddy, providing buyers with two design options. Yabu Pushelberg offers wide-plank quarter-sawn herringbone-style solid oak flooring and kitchens with custom gray-stained veneered African ayous wood cabinetry, honed Calacatta Ondulato marble countertops, and integrated Miele appliances. Spa-like master baths are dressed in a Blue Cipollino marble throughout, including the tops of the gray-stained European oak cabintry. Cetra / Ruddy features include nine-inch-wide quarter-sawn solid white oak floors, Indian laurel-veneered kitchen cabinetry, honed Calacatta Borghini marble worktops, and integrated Gaggenau appliances. Master baths feature a selection of dimensional Italian travertine marble surfaces and bleached maple vanities topped with honed Crema Delicato marble. The building’s One Club includes a lounge, a parlor and screening room,
The garden feel of Birreria atop Eataly on Fifth Ave. at E. 23rd St.
along with a dining room with a catering kitchen and butler service for private parties. Other top-notch extras include a fitness center, an indoor pool, a playroom, and round-theclock doorman and concierge services. (onemadison.com) At 16th St., 108 Fifth Ave. is now listed with Town Residential. Measuring about 825 square feet, this
completely renovated, one-bedroom condominium with new hardwood floors, custom built-ins, and a washer / dryer features floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors in the living room, leading to a private balcony with views over Fifth Ave. The master suite has a walk-in closet and en-suite bathroom done up in marble. The kitchen is outfitted with frosted glass-fronted cabinetry and stainless steel appli-
Warburg Realty is selling a three-bedroom duplex at 50 W. 15th St. between Fifth and Sixth Aves. Coming in at about 2,440 square feet of indoor space with 12-foothigh ceilings, hardwood floors, and double-pane windows, the unit has a private garden of more than 1,000 square feet, as well. On the upper level, the living room’s floor-to-ceiling window and doors provide access to the south-facing outdoor space. An open kitchen overlooks the living room. This floor also contains the master bedroom, with a walk-in closet and en-suite bath with a soaking tub and glass-enclosed steam shower, as well as the other bedrooms, both garden-facing. On the lower level, there’s a spacious home theater, a powder room, and a laundry room. A full-service building with doorman services, this residence is priced at $4.295 million. (warburgrealty.com/ property/132772620140620)
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September 4, 2014
Spray, hey! Well, that’s one way to keep clean As the sweltering late-summer heat wave continued on Wednesday, one man got ready to cool off — plus get clean by taking a bath — in the Washington Square Fountain. It’s not exactly an approved use, but hopefully he was not too grungy and was at least using some soap with all-natural ingredients.
SCOOPY’S, continued from p. 2 activist John Penley “decided to bow out,” according to the Yippie veteran. “He thought there should be a separate John Penley reality show,” Beal quipped. “Penley’s got a big ego.” Penley responded to us via Facebook: “First of all, I don’t even know that it is even gonna happen, and honestly, I just don’t want to do it. I don’t want my own show either. I want to party in NOLA.”
PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY
September 4, 2014
BURNED UP: Speaking of medical marijuana, Allen Roskoff and his Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club members are burned up over Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recently approved New York version. We got a shot of these custom Jim Owles-approved lighters (on page 2) back when the club was getting ready to endorse Zephyr Teachout over Cuomo for governor, which was only a bit before
Cuomo approved medical marijuana. However, the lighters’ message still applies today, Roskoff recently told us. He angrily blasted Cuomo’s medical pot plan as way too watered down, fuming, “It’s something you’d expect in Texas — not New York!”
WASH. SQ. WILLIAMS: Local park activist Sharon Woolums told us about her encounter with Robin Williams about five or six years ago, when the hot topic was the park’s redesign. She said she had taken her neighbor’s dog to the dog run, and found out that Williams was shooting a film in the park. “And there he was,” Woolums said. “So I went out to ask him if he’d like to comment on the redesign controversy. He said he’d love to know more about it. Much to the delight of the dog walkers and owners, he came into the dog run to get the information. He was very sweet and I am so very sad he is gone.” EastVillagerNews.com
With Gaza, but not some groups GAZA PROTESTS, continued from p. 11
July 8, I have marched against the bombardment twice — both times in rallies organized by Adalah NY, a Palestinian-led group that advocates for BDS. But there have been several other rallies I have not been able to bring myself to join because of their ugly politics. These have been in the sway of three related entities: the International Action Center (IAC), Al-Awda and ANSWER. In case anyone doesn’t know, IAC is a front group for the Workers World Party, a deeply reactionary (as well as ungrammatical; note missing apostrophe) formation that is an avid serial cheerleader for dictators and mass murder. They supported the Tiananmen Square massacre as a necessary crackdown on “counterrevolutionaries,” cheered on the Bosnian Serbs in their genocidal campaign against Muslims, rallied uncritically around Saddam Hussein, and now thusly rally around Vladimir Putin and Bashar Assad. Al-Awda, a group that advocates for “right of return” for Palestinian refugees, is unfortunately in the orbit of IAC. ANSWER also started out in the orbit of IAC and Workers World, although it broke from them in a faction fight
a few years back. It shares the same toxic politics. The most recent march, on Aug. 20, was organized by a new coalition, supposedly initiated by former Occupy Wall Street people, calling itself NYC Solidarity with Palestine. In response to my queries about the leadership on the group’s Facebook page, I was informed that “only” one representative from the noxious ANSWER was on the organizing committee (as if this was supposed to comfort me). I decided to go to the rally and then decide whether to join the planned march over the Brooklyn Bridge on the basis of the atmosphere. When I reached the gathering point in Cadman Plaza, my cynicism seemed vindicated — once again. I was greeted by a sea of mass-produced placards from IAC, ANSWER and Al-Awda. Also prominent was Neturei Karta, a group of Orthodox Jews who oppose Israel on the obscurantist grounds that any Jewish state is apostasy before the coming of the Messiah. The only prominent banner from a group I saw as legitimate was that of Jewish Voice for Peace. Adalah NY had no visible presence. Nor did War Resisters League, another group I have worked with over the years. I didn’t see anyone I particularly wanted
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to march with, and a great many I consciously did not want to march with. At least I only saw one banner with a swastika on it, but (as with the ANSWER rep on the organizing committee) that’s one too many. I started to head home. Yet I wound up marching in spite of myself, overcome by curiosity as to which contingent would actually be leading the march. Amid all the annoying banners (and depressing paucity of good ones), there were a couple of high points. As we marched, some activists on the south side of the Manhattan Bridge, in full view to us, dropped a huge banner off the walkway with a Palestinian flag reading: “Gaza in Our Hearts; Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions on Israel.” It hung for several minutes before the police reeled it in. That was wonderful to see. And the Rude Mechanical Orchestra was making its usual joyous racket, with an especially good fellow on the bagpipes. But it was frustrating that it was in the service of such a problematic coalition. When I finally managed to get ahead of the march, my cynicism was vindicated yet again. The lead contingent was wielding a forest of mass-produced placards from IAC and its satellite group Al-Awda. Disgusted, I biked down the bridge and back home to the East Village. I didn’t join the rally at One Police
Plaza. I honestly do not get it. How can you march against mass murder in Gaza at the hands of Bibi Netanyahu with people who support far greater mass murder in Syria at the hands of Bashar Assad (as they supported mass murder in Bosnia at the hands of Radovan Karadzic, supported mass murder in Beijing at the hands of Deng Xiaoping)? Of course if you ask them, they will deny they support mass murder — as those who support mass murder always do. They will give the same kind of justifications currently offered by Israeli leaders in defense of their war crimes in Gaza — oblivious to the irony. I assert that it is ethically bankrupt and tactically suicidal to coalesce with Workers World and its spinoff and satellite entities. Or, for that matter, with If Americans Knew, which has tagged along at some of the IAC/Al-Awda rallies. Unity has to be based on principle, and there has to be a line you cannot cross. Gilad Atzmon and Bashar Assad, and their respective fans and apologists, are well on the other side of that line. Any unity with them hurts the cause of standing up to the Zionist machine here in New York City. Weinberg blogs at WorldWar4Report.com
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September 4, 2014
September 4, 2014
PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY
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Anna Jardine, third from left, held her first-place overall women’s trophy, joined by, from left, Robert Farafola, Parks deputy commissioner for management, budget and public programs; emcee Kim Vandenberg, a bronze medalist in the 2008 Olympics in the women’s 4-x-200-meter freestyle relay; and John Hutchins, Parks aquatics director.
Lap contest is a splash hit SPORTS
very summer for the last 32 years, when the Parks Department’s recreation center outdoor pools are open, swimmers can participate in a lap competition. There are eight pool sites citywide in the competition, including Tony Dapolito, in the West Village, and Hamilton Fish, on the Lower East Side. This summer, more than 10,000
people participated, swimming a total of more than 14,800 laps. On Wed., Aug. 27, a ceremony was held at Hamilton Fish honoring the first-, second- and third-place winners for each pool, and the top male and female lap swimmers over all. The top female swimmer, Anna Jardine, logged nearly 116 miles at Tony Dapolito, while the top male swimmer, Gary Weeks, tallied 130 miles at Astoria Pool. The event was catered by Katz’s.
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Lew Peterla, of the Village, won three trophies: second place in the Night Owl adult swim at Tony Dapolito; third at the Night Owl swim at Crotona Pool, in the Bronx; and second for the Crotona Early Bird swim. EastVillagerNews.com
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SEPT. 4, 2014 EAST VILLAGER NEWS