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The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933

September 24, 2015 • $1.00 Volume 85 • Number 17

Politicians put on push for Obama to hurry up on Stonewall park BY ANDY HUMM


STONEWALL continued on p. 4

No hope for a visit by pope in East Village, but a few score tickets BY MARY REINHOLZ


ope Francis, known for his devotion to the poor and marginalized, could find plenty of  people  fitting that description in the  rapidly gentrifying  East Village —  if, that is, his motorcade had been  scheduled to  pass by


he political, community and activist stars are aligned to make the area outside the Stonewall bar, scene of the 1969 rebellion that sparked the modern L.G.B.T. movement, a national park run by the National Park Service.

In a rare display of unity, New York leaders from Congress, Albany and City Hall stood with L.G.B.T. activists and West Village community leaders to call on President Obama to use his power under the Antiquities Act to designate Christopher Park across the street from the bar

places like the shuttered Church of the Nativity, at 44 Second Ave., when he arrives in New York City  Thurs., Sept. 24, for a whirlwind visit to Manhattan. There,  a couple of  homeless men in their 30s huddled against the church door on a recent  Sunday  mornPOPE continued on p. 8

Barry Benepe, 87, stopped to smell the roses in the Jefferson Market Garden before the garden’s 40th anniversary celebration earlier this month, at which the Greenmarkets founder and his son, Adrian, were honored. See Page 15.

A hard row to hoe: Garden or housing at Little Italy lot? BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


n estimated more than 200 supporters of the Elizabeth St. Garden packed a hearing last week to protest against funds being allocated to help build affordable housing at the Little Italy location. Notably joining them was Assemblymember Deborah Glick. Far fewer, about 50 people — many of them seniors from Chinatown — came to advocate for the housing. City Councilmember Marga-

ret Chin, the project’s main sponsor, spoke in favor of the project, and then sat up in the front of the main hearing room for the duration. The pro-garden group was so large that the crowd filled two overflow rooms, plus a balcony outside the 13thfloor hearing room. The venue was Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Fiterman Hall, just north of the World Trade Center. There an advisory committee for the Lower Manhattan Devel-

opment Corporation heard testimony in support of applications for federal funding for what it called local “potential projects.” These ranged from restoring the historic Seward Park fountain, to tearing down the pier shed at Pier 42 on the Lower East Side to create an open park there, to keeping the 9/11 Tribute in Light beaming skyward for the next few years. But only the contentious GARDEN continued on p. 6

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Bill Di Paola gave us an update on the Adam Purple memorial, which is set for this Sat., Sept. 26, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Purple, the gardens godfather of the Lower East Side, died Mon., Sept. 14, while biking over the Williamsburg Bridge. Saturday’s East Village memorial will be happening both outdoors and indoors simultaneously. There will be speakers at La Plaza Cultural community garden, at the southwest corner of E. Ninth St. and Avenue C, including Chris Flash of The SHADOW and Bill Weinberg. Anyone else who wants to speak is invited to briefly share memories of the Purple Man and his legendary Garden of Eden. Everyone is encouraged to wear purple and bring a white T-shirt to tie-dye in La Plaza. But won’t the shirts need to dry? we asked. “I think we’re going to hang them up for a while,” Di Paola said. There will be a corresponding indoor exhibit at the nearby Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MoRUS), at E. 10th St. and Avenue C, remembering Purple with photos from the community, video by Harvey Wang, articles about Purple’s life and work, his own books and writing, and some of his famous purple garments, as well as George Bliss’s barrel-drum contraption that he used to plaster Manhattan’s pavement with looping purple footprints leading back to the besieged garden. MoRUS will keep its Adam Purple Memorial Show up for two weeks through Oct. 10. ... Di Paola said they have cleaned out Purple’s room at the Time’s Up space in Williamsburg, and made a shocking discovery — beans! Lots and lots of beans. (Hey, he was a vegetarian, after all.) The copious cans have been duly added to his memorial at the Time’s Up space in South Williamsburg. ... Finally, although we reported that Purple apparently died while crossing the bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan, it sounds like he actually may have been headed back the other way, returning to Time’s Up, after doing some shopping at Commodities, perhaps, in the East Village. A couple of people have posted on that they saw Purple on the Lower East Side the day he died. In addition, Di Paola told us that he spoke to someone on the phone this week who reported to have seen Purple at 1:30 p.m. that day at the corner of Allen and Rivington Sts. “So he was definitely in Manhattan,” Di Paola said. “It looks like he was heading back to Brooklyn.” Last exit to Brooklyn. ... R.I.P., Adam Purple. ... On one more note, former Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe tweeted out his memory — one shared by many others, it seems — of seeing Purple “harvesting horse manure” in Central Park for his Forsyth St. garden. Benepe also tweeted out an image of Purple on his bike along with one of R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural with a long white beard on a kick scooter, with the text “separated at birth.”

Adam Purple’s book and some of his purple garb will be on display at MoRUS.

It’s bean great to know ya... . Adam Purple left behind a lot of legumes.

COOKING ON A HIGHER LEVEL: We got a tip that a Downtown restaurant owner / chef will be cooking for Pope Francis on Thursday. However, when we called the restaurateur, he said he strictly couldn’t comment until after the meal. As we spoke to the chef on the phone on Monday, a police officer who would be escorting him up to cook for his eminence had come by to touch base with him. The chef said to call him after the meal and we would get the scoop. EQUINOX — THE TIPPING POINT? With hopes fading that a much-needed Trader Joe’s will occupy the ground ground-floor retail space of Ben Shaoul’s new building on Avenue A between E. Sixth and Seventh Sts., word is that a pricey Equinox gym has outbid everyone for the space. Oh, well...get ready for more hard bodies flexing and flaunting along the avenue. COMIC RELIEF (FROM THE COMIC CANDIDATES): You think Donald Trump is outrageously

ridiculous? Well, check out the new Campaign Comedy Countdown at the William Barnacle Tavern, at Theatre 80 St. Mark’s, at 80 St. Mark’s Place, at 8 p.m. on Sundays, for more political insanity. The hosts are Randy Credico and John McDonagh. Forget all those G.O.P. clowns. Here’s a lineup that’s really scary: Dan Vitale, Scott Blakeman, Barry Weintraub, Rhonda Hansome and Chilean guitarist Andres Rieloff. We asked Credico what he thinks of Bernie Sanders, and he immediately broke into a convincing, slightly stuttering impression of him. “He’s the best of the worst,” he conceded of Sanders. O.K., can you do Trump, we asked? “I’m working on it,” he said. How about Hillary Clinton? Does he do women? Apparently not. “Hopefully, I’ll get someone to do that,” he said. Sun., Sept. 27, is the kickoff date.

POLICE BLOTTER Theft grinds to a halt Police said they caught two men red-handed trying to steal a bike near the corner of Washington and Barrow Sts. on Wed., Sept. 16. One of the men was allegedly cutting through a “U” lock with a grinder while the other acted as a lookout. As police approached the pair at about 2:30 a.m. the lookout reportedly said: “Stop! Stop! Stop!” The cutter then threw his tool away, pushed a cop and fled on another bicycle. The second suspect tried to flee as well. Neither of the suspects made it very far before police caught them. They had two screwdrivers, multiple grinder blades and a grinder wrench in their possession, police said. Juan Calderon, 19, and Brian Genao, 18, were arrested and charged with the felony tampering of physical evidence.

Wash. Sq. rape arrest An 18-year-old woman entered her apartment near Washington Square on Sat., Sept. 19, and quickly ran into

trouble. One man allegedly forced her to have sex with him while two associates held her down and groped her at about 4 a.m. The victim was later taken to Bellevue Hospital. Police did not state in a report how the three suspects gained entry to the apartment and whether they knew the victim before the incident. Daniel Saraiva, 18, was charged with felony rape. Lawrence Shub, 18, and a 17-year-old male were also arrested. All three suspects were charged with forcible touching and unlawful imprisonment, both misdemeanors.

Bank job bust A man attempted to rob the Chase bank branch at 26 Astor Place on Mon., Sept. 21, at 11:50 a.m., according to police. He entered the high-profile location and approached a teller, demanding money. It wasn’t immediately clear if he was given any cash, but police said that Sidney Williams, 47, was arrested and charged with third-degree attempted robbery.

Early-a.m. beatdown Five men and a woman reportedly jumped a man near the corner of W. Fourth and Macdougal Sts. on Sun., Sept. 20, police said. The victim was with a friend when the four suspects allegedly began punching him at about 3:20 a.m. Police did not state the victim’s age but did say that he is an East Harlem resident. He was taken

to Lenox Health Greenwich Village to treat swelling and minor bruises. Anthony Ruane, 24, Carlos Verni, 27, Malanie Ceballos, 27, Ramon Delacruz, 27, and Sushant Khatiwada 28, were arrested charged with misdemeanor assault.

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September 24, 2015

the “Stonewall National Monument.” The exact parameters of the park have yet to be solidified, but it will require the intermediate step of New York City ceding the parkland to the federal government — a move city officials and neighborhood leaders back. Community Board 2 recently unanimously voted to support the initiative. The press conference announcing the campaign, led by the private National Parks Conservation Association, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, was held on Sept. 20, a placid, late-summer afternoon — a sharp contrast with the six sweltering nights of angry demonstrations in late June ’69 when police conducting a routine raid on the gay Stonewall Inn were met with fierce, militant resistance. The spirit of Stonewall was resurrected by Martha Shelley, a Stonewall participant and founder of the Gay Liberation Front that emerged in the uprising’s wake. She said that it was the mass organizing that arose right afterward that made the rebellion historic. “GLF was a coalition of radical gays from those mainstream organizations, gay radicals from socialist organizations, and street queens and dykes who’d never been organized before,” she said. “We made alliances with other groups that shared our dreams of a just society, like the Black Panthers and the women’s liberation movement.” She went on to celebrate the success of “in-your-face tactics” and bemoan the ongoing oppression of women and people of color, American militarism then and now, and the excesses of “the filthy rich.” Nadler, who was credited by state Senator Brad Hoylman with “a terrific job” of building support for this designation through an almost “block-by-block” campaign, said it would be “the first unit within the park system dedicated to L.G.B.T. history.” Nadler said, “You can now walk by the Stonewall Inn without knowing anything about the history that took place here. We’re fighting to make sure these stories are not lost.” More than 65 percent of the nation’s 400 national parks are sites of historic or cultural interest. Gillibrand was one of several speakers who linked the Stonewall to both Seneca Falls, N.Y., which has a park built around its significance to the 19th-century emergence of the women’s rights movement, and parts of Selma, Alabama, which has a park explaining that city’s significance in the 1960s civil rights movement. The linkage of Stonewall, Seneca Falls and Selma was one that Obama himself made in his second inaugural address. Gillibrand said that subsequent victories for the L.G.B.T movement “were borne from the modern equal rights



STONEWALL continued from p. 1

Stonewall participant Martha Shelley, with Tobi Bergman, behind her to the left, and Jerrold Nadler, right.

movement launched at Stonewall.” Democrats Nadler and Gillibrand are introducing legislation to make the Stonewall National Monument designation, but no one expects that to pass a Republican-led Congress. Obama’s administration has yet to take a public stand on using his power under the Antiquities Act to designate the park. But Nadler believes the president would do so once the necessary preliminary steps have been completed. Congressmember Carolyn Maloney noted that Stonewall is where the community gathers after victories, defeats and tragedies. “This is already the heart and center of the L.G.B.T. movement in America,” she said. “We need the government to catch up with the people.” Among the other political heavy hitters on hand to voice support for the campaign were Public Advocate Letitia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilmember Corey Johnson, who, like Hoylman, represents the West Village. Several other endorsements, perhaps more significant, came on Sunday as well. The city’s Parks commissioner, Mitchell Silver, was on hand, and he will be responsible for leading efforts within the administration of Mayor de Blasio –– who has also voiced support for a park commemorating Stonewall –– to cede the land to the feds. Also there was Tobi Bergman, C.B. 2 chairperson, who said the board awaits a final proposal on exactly what the park will look like and whether it will include features such as a visitor’s center.

The park will not include the bar’s interior, which is not the original ’69 dive bar design. The real estate company that owns it has been resistant to selling it, including to those who want to make it into a museum. But the city did landmark the building’s exterior earlier this year, which carries more protection than its earlier ones from the National and New York State Registries of Historic Places. Bergman called Stonewall “a place of liberation” that trumps some traditional neighborhood concerns about noise and congestion. But he doesn’t want the existing physical park to change. Gay civil libertarian Bill Dobbs, a spectator at the press conference, said, “The federal designation sounds great, but let’s see the details — especially how people who use the park are going to be treated.” Christopher Park is already home to George Segal’s “Gay Liberation” statue of one gay and one lesbian couple and is a rare place in the West Village where neighborhood residents, including homeless people, can rest on benches. The National Parks Conservancy Association is hosting a nationwide online petition to the president asking him to “use his executive authority to create a national park for Stonewall.” Go to for more information. Historian David Carter, author of “Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution” — widely considered the definitive account of the events of that June — was also in attendance. “Our history has to be made an integral part of U.S. history,” he said, “and making this into a national park legitimizes that history.”



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Garden supporters and housing advocates GARDEN continued from p. 1


September 24, 2015


garden issue saw anyone actually testify in opposition — and that organized opposition was tremendous. Indeed, it’s rare for anyone to testify against an L.M.D.C. funding application, much less in such a massive and impassioned manner. The L.M.D.C.’s funding pot is $50 million. The city is requesting $6 million of this for the project at 21 Spring St., the garden’s address. The agency is expected to make public its decision on the garden’s fate as soon as next month, according to Chin’s office. Eric Wilson, associate commissioner of planning and development at the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, briefly presented the housing plan. “New York City is in the middle of a housing crisis,” he said, adding that Mayor de Blasio’s plan calls for 200,000 affordable units to be created over the next 10 years, with 40 percent of them newly constructed units. The 21 Spring St. development would include 60 to 100 apartments in a seven-story building, with a price tag of $20 million to $24 million, he said. The $6 million L.M.D.C. grant, Wilson explained, would help H.P.D. to “target deeper affordability,” in terms of who could live there. He said H.P.D., within the first three months of next year, would release a competitive request for proposals, or R.F.P., for developers to build the housing. “It’s very early in the process,” he said. Chin spoke of growing up just five blocks from the future garden when the neighborhood was known only as Little Italy — long before the trendy acronym Nolita was coined by real estate types. The garden was just a vacant site back then. “I grew up in Little Italy, on Mott St. near Hester St., with many Italians,” she said. “For many years, I heard from neighbors about this site, that they wanted to have housing there.” Chin noted that the city designated 21 Spring St. as a site for affordable housing back in 2012. This was done because 100 percent affordable housing — which most would say was never an obtainable goal — could not be achieved in the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area development project, which is actually in Community Board 3. The garden, however, is in C.B. 2. “The city surveyed all of the cityowned sites in the district and found this was the best space for affordable housing,” Chin said. Yet, C.B. 2 was never notified of this decision by the city until after the fact. Chin said she likes parks and gardens, but explained, “As a councilmember, you have to make tough

Chinatown seniors came to the hearing by van from Hamilton-Madison House, which is located about a mile from the garden.

choices and take the long view. Seniors right now are struggling to climb stairs in four-story walk-ups.” The new building would have elevators. “Fourteen years after 9/11, there’s a new housing boom in Lower Manhattan,” the councilmember said, adding, “The vast majority of this new construction is luxury housing.” She added that while affordable housing is achievable at 21 Spring St., H.P.D. needs the L.M.D.C. grant to ensure that the project would be for seniors. Chin was formerly a leading member of Asian Americans for Equality, a group active in developing housing Downtown. Meanwhile, Glick, in her testimony, urged L.M.D.C. to deny the application — at least until the community has been included in the process and discussion, which affects the district’s open space. “I am gravely concerned about the location of this project,” she said. “While there is no denying that we need more affordable housing, there is also no denying that this community has the second-least amount of open space in the city and this project would eliminate a well-used and public community garden. Furthermore, it is troubling that this application has never been presented to Community Board 2, as outlined in L.M.D.C. protocol, and raises the question whether H.P.D. is even eligible for funds. “While this site was raised as a potential location during the SPURA land use review, that project is solely taking place in C.B. 3, and there were

Wenjii Zhou, a garden member, spoke to the Chinatown seniors in Chinese, telling them of the importance of the garden to the heart of the Little Italy community.

no presentations or hearings regarding this site’s role in the project at the time. Members of C.B. 2 and the elected officials in the area were not part of the SPURA discussions.” Glick added that C.B. 2 has identified an alternative city-owned site that is larger and could hold even more units of affordable housing — at Hudson and Clarkson Sts. — “and equally important, it would would do so without the destruction of existing commu-

nity open space.” Also speaking for the garden were Tobi Bergman and Terri Cude, C.B. 2 chairperson and first vice chairperson, respectively. Echoing Glick, Bergman said, the housing project “was sited in our board, but Community Board 2 was not notified until after the fact.” He further told the L.M.D.C. panel, “You may hear today that this affordable housing project will happen anyway and that this is just about whether it will be senior affordable housing — that’s not true.” Bergman urged that the housing could instead be built at the alternative Hudson Square site — a block-long former open-air parking lot that was used to drill a water shaft down to the new City Water Tunnel No. 3 — where “generous height and zoning allowances could allow it to be five times bigger — more units,” he said. As first reported last week by The Villager, Councilmember Corey Johnson has announced that he supports developing affordable housing at the West Side site, which is in his district. Bergman said if L.M.D.C. won’t let C.B. 2 review the housing project first, then it should just “pull it.” Cude two weeks ago was elected a Democratic district leader. “When I was campaigning,” she said, “I talked to many people and heard them say there was a need for green, open space where people can meet and congregate — and, most important, commune with nature. Seniors, adults and children love this space and participate in its dozens of free programs each week.” The city should use the Hudson St. site for housing, she said, “and keep the livability, garden and the respite that is so vital.” Jeannine Kiely, president of the Friends of Elizabeth St. Garden, said park activists who live near the gated property — which is festooned with stone monuments — did not realize until June 2013, that it was owned by the city, at which point they began to organize around using the space and saving it. “We were unaware of the affordable housing plan deal, but had recently heard it was a city-owned site,” she said. “Thousands of people are on our garden’s mailing list. Our community is incredibly behind saving this.” Kiely noted that the Soho / Little Italy area has just a paltry .07 acres of open space per 1,000 residents. Kent Barwick, a former chairperson of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission and president of the Municipal Art Society, is F.E.S.G.’s chairperson. A neighborhood resident for decades, he told a different story than GARDEN continued on p.7

square off at L.M.D.C. hearing on funding GARDEN continued from p. 6

Chin. “I have different memories of that lot,” he said. “There used to be talk of making it a soccer field. “We do not accept that it’s a Hobson’s choice — that we can have the housing or have the garden,” Barwick said. “There’s a choice.” F.E.S.G. is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to turn the garden into a permanent park. The garden is also supported by the Downtown Independent Democrats club, Soho Alliance and Noho Neighborhood Association, plus Bowery Babes, a vibrant group of more than 2,500 Downtown moms and their families. Speaker after speaker told of how the garden has brought a magical change. One was an 84-year-old woman who said she bought an apartment nearby it as a retirement home. “I had chosen Little Italy because it felt like a neighborhood,” she said. “Now — because of the garden — it’s become a community.” A group of young activists began to protest, “This is not right! This is totally not fair!” saying their side wasn’t getting equal time at the microphone.

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Garden leaders Emily Hellstrom, left, and Jeannine Kiely proudly displayed a banner for the Elizabeth St. Garden.

Before the L.M.D.C. officials cut off the pro-garden testifiers for a while, Wenjii Zhou took the mic, then spun around to face the crowd instead of the panel. Speaking in English and then translating into Chinese, while gesturing expressively with her hands, she addressed the Asian seniors. She said that while she understood the need for

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housing, the neighborhood also had a great need for the open space and community feeling provided by the garden. But Teresa Chan, a member of the 90-year-old Gee Hong Chan Association, said build the housing. So did West Village activist Jim Fouratt.

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“I’m 74 years old and I live in a sixthfloor walk-up,” he said. “There is no senior housing.” He said he was part of the creative class of people who were once drawn to Greenwich Village and have now aged here. “We do not make a lot of money,” he said. “We have no place to go. There is no housing for senior creative people. This is a critical situation for us.” K Webster is co-chairperson of the M’finda Kalunga Garden, at Rivington St. in Sara D. Roosevelt Park, but spoke against preserving the Elizabeth St. Garden. The alternative site in C.B. 2 is not suitable for senior housing, she argued. “It’s in a high-traffic, high-density area with no grocery stores nearby — not even expensive ones,” she said. Meanwhile, she derided the garden as “a showcase for pricey artifacts.” Allan Reiver has leased the lot from the city since the 1990s to display his artifacts and monuments. He supports the garden wholeheartedly. Republican District Leader Carmela Livoti, who is a senior, lives in the LIRA (Little Italy Restoration Apartments) affordable housing on the GARDEN continued on p. 26

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September 24, 2015


Frank thoughts about Francis on eve of his visit POPE continued from p. 1


September 24, 2015


ing. One of them identified himself as  Jon Bivona and claimed  to be a rock musician who just had his $2,000 guitar stolen from him by thieves in the night. He sleeps under plastic sheeting propped up by an umbrella, and talked about encounters with junkies and gang members from the Crips and the Bloods. Emerging  from his improvised tent around 9 a.m., he also railed against the Archdiocese of New York, which is coordinating the papal schedule in New York. The Secret Service is coordinating all the security with some 50 government agencies, including the New York Police Department, the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security. Cops of all stripes will be swarming  through the city when  his holiness shows up with his own papal entourage for a visit that will include his addressing the U.N. General Assembly  Friday morning.  Numerous other world leaders will be there, including President Obama, creating the prospect of a traffic nightmare and a major challenge for police.   “The cops are the least of my problems,” said Bivona, who seemed to be more concerned about keeping Nativity safe from developers, predicting without substantiation that the archdiocese “will turn this church into multimillion-dollar condos for a bunch of hedge-fund managers. These are the kinds of people coming into the neighborhood. They don’t even know who  The Ramones are. It’s disgraceful!” Bivona made it plain he would not be heading uptown to catch a glimpse of  Francis arriving for Vespers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Thursday evening.  And he’d need a ticket from a city lottery to join the tens of thousands of people expected to jam West Drive in Central Park to see the Jesuit pontiff in his popemobile in a processional after he leaves Our Lady Queens  of Angels school in East Harlem Friday afternoon. As Bivona ranted, several Latina women stood nearby  reciting the Rosary outside Nativity, which closed Aug. 1 when its parish merged with that of Most Holy Redeemer, at 173 E. Third St., during a  massive realignment of churches within the archdiocese. Would they  show up at the 9/11 memorial where Francis, the first Latin American pope, would lead an interfaith  prayer service at  11:30 a.m.  Friday  morning? How about when he arrives at Madison Square Garden Friday evening to celebrate Mass in a throne-like chair? “No, I’m not going —  there will be too many people,” said Mirayes Tores, 65, an immigrant from the

Women, with their children, outside the Church of the Nativity, who still pray the Rosary outside the shuttered church.

Dominican Republic. She leaned on a cane and said she was praying for Nativity to reopen. Her comely 41-year-old daughter, Noeimi, who described herself as a “first-generation American” living on the Lower East Side, said she would be looking after her two children, ages 3 and 5, who sat beside her in a stroller, when the pope arrived in town.  Others in the East Village  were more enthusiastic about his visit, among them Martha Hennessy, a granddaughter of Dorothy Day, the late co-founder of the pacifist Catholic Worker movement and a candidate for sainthood. Hennessy, who lives on a  Vermont farm but stays at the Catholic Worker’s Maryhouse  when she’s in New York, acts as one of the volunteers for the needy who come by the residence, at 55 E. Third St., for food, clothing and showers.                              Asked about her feelings about Francis’s visit, Hennessy said, “I’m excited and rejuvenated,” noting she had obtained tickets to attend Francis’s Mass at The Garden from the Dorothy Day Guild, a group seeking to advance the cause of her grandmother’s canonization. The group operates out of the archdiocese’s offices at 1011 First Ave. Dorothy Day, who advocated for the poor through nonviolent “acts of mercy,” already has been accorded the title “servant of god,” by the Catholic Church, a preliminary step on the road to sainthood. Hennessy was scheduled to speak Sat., Sept. 19, at the new Sheen Center in Noho about the parallels between  Day and the pontiff.  In a phone conversation, Hennessy said that  Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglia, had “suffered” in his own way during the “dirty war” in his native Argentina in 1976, when priests,

Jon Bivona, right, and another homeless man camped out next to the Church of the Nativity, on Second Ave.

including Jesuits, were among those imprisoned and tortured by the last military dictatorship in that country. Since his election as pope in 2013, Francis, once head of the Jesuits in Argentina, has been haunted by accusations from journalists that  he  failed to help two  Jesuit priests who were abducted by the military, because of their activism in the Buenos Aires slums, charges the Vatican has strongly denied. Francis has said he helped to hide people during that repressive era. For her part,  Hennessy believes Francis has “much to offer” Catholics in New York. But she noted many of them and members of other faiths won’t be able to attend his Mass at The Garden, which  has a  seating capacity of about 20,000, “because of

the security issues and the logistics. I’m disappointed we don’t have a bigger venue.” She noted that multitudes of pilgrims came to Francis’s 2013 Mass held outdoors at the Copacabana beach in Brazil  — a reported 3 million — many splashing in the surf. In 2008, Benedict XVI, Francis’s now-retired predecessor, celebrated Mass at the old Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, drawing 60,000. It was the third papal Mass at the stadium. Joseph Zwilling, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of New York, said the Vatican “planners” had asked that all papal events be held in Manhattan so that the pope could spend “more time with people and less time traveling around.” Zwilling also noted that the main focus of the pope’s first U.S. visit would be on the weekend events in Philadelphia, where the Vatican wanted to have a “major outdoor Mass. We were asked to keep our Mass on a smaller scale.” Neither Zwilling nor a spokesperson for Mayor de Blasio could provide estimates of the costs of the pope’s visit to the archdiocese or to the city “at this time.” Most parishes held drawings for the relatively small number of tickets that the archdiocese distributed for the M.S.G. event, sources said. Most  Holy  Redeemer parish  received only nine, said its pastor, the Right Reverend Sean McGillicuddy, while he was greeting worshipers leaving a 9 a.m. Sunday Mass. “We picked names out of a box,” he explained. McGillicuddy will hear confessions when the pope arrives for Vespers at St. Patrick’s, a prayer service open only to clergy, all chosen by lottery. He expects the experience to be “uplifting.” Mercedes Sanchez, a 32-year-old former congregant  at Nativity who now attends Most Holy Redeemer, won a ticket to Francis’s M.S.G. Mass, even though she didn’t enter her name in the lottery. Her cousin, Cristina Tejada, 36,  did that when Sanchez was attending a friend’s wedding and called her when she won in the live church drawing Sept. 8. Sanchez, a leader of a group of Catholics  that unsuccessfully sought to keep Nativity open, said she was “astonished” at getting so lucky.  “I don’t know if it’s divine intervention or what, but I am in awe at how three people who played a role in the efforts to keep Nativity open won tickets to see Pope Francis,” she wrote in an e-mail. If she had a chance to speak to Francis, Sanchez said, “I would ask him what he planned to do with POPE continued on p. 12

Subway gunman is shooting to be animal E.M.T. BY YANNIC RACK



ernie Goetz is fighting back against the landlord who is trying to evict him from his apartment of more than 30 years — for allegedly harboring pet squirrels. Goetz, 67, the notorious subway vigilante who shot four men on a train in 1984, has been facing the boot for keeping the animals in his W. 14th St. apartment, but has denied the charge in housing court despite being known to care for the critters. He declined to talk about the case, which is not the first time he has come under fire for keeping rodents at his rent-controlled apartment. But his attorney, Spencer Sheehan, said that he was mounting a new defense. “He’s on the road to becoming a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, Class I, under New York State law. So he’s going legit,” Sheehan said last week. “The building will just have to live with it.” According to Sheehan, Goetz took the test for the license in August and just recently received confirmation that he passed. The rest, Sheehan said, should just be a matter of paperwork. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which issues wildlife rehabilitator licenses, all that’s left to do now is an interview with a D.E.C. representative. After that, Goetz will be allowed to provide care “for injured or debilitated wildlife for release back to the wild,” including mammals, reptiles and amphibians, small birds like pigeons and sparrows, and even game birds like turkeys and pheasants. The license is valid for five years and allows its holder to capture, house, feed and provide emergency treatment to the animals, but not keeping them long-term, according to D.E.C. The city Health Department, however, prohibits the housing of wild animals like squirrels. Due to a recent change to the health code, the agency also no longer allows rehabilitators to possess, harbor, yard or keep the ani-

Bernie Goetz outside criminal court in March as he fought a charge for getting caught last year selling a small amount of marijuana to a persistent undercover cop outside Union Square Park.

mals unless they obtain a special permit, a department spokesperson told The Villager. But Sheehan said that, as a rehabilitator, Goetz would be allowed to temporarily possess and provide treatment for an animal until it is euthanized, goes to a sanctuary or is released back into the wild. Goetz’s squirrels have been a common sight dating back at least 10 years, when court papers say he was “observed washing a wild squirrel in the building’s laundry room,” according to the New York Daily News. His landlord, Courtney House LLC, filed a holdover proceeding in May, citing lease violations based on his alleged possession of the squirrels and the accusation that Goetz’s apartment was a hoarder’s dump — an allegation that has been resolved, according to Sheehan. “There was an issue of hoarding, the specific accumulation of material positions,” the attorney said, “but that

issue has been resolved and the apartment is no longer in that condition.” The defense still denies that any squirrels are, or have been, housed in the apartment off Union Square, where Goetz has lived for more than three decades. “Even if it’s proven that he possesses a prohibited animal, such as an eastern gray squirrel,” Sheehan said, “the building has to prove that the mere existence and presence of a squirrel in the apartment is a nuisance under the laws of the state of New York.       “Meaning they would have to show that, by his possession of the squirrel, it has caused an unreasonable interference with the property interests and the use and enjoyment of other tenants.” Sheehan said the landlord has brought numerous actions like this in the past, asking that Goetz get rid of his alleged squirrels and agree not to house any prohibited animals, but that this was the first time the tenant had actual leverage. According to the attorney, the building exterminator who first claimed to have seen a squirrel in the apartment back in March — which prompted the court case — is expected to testify at the trial, scheduled for Fri., Sept. 25. In a letter sent to Sheehan in July,

Robert Holland, a partner at the law firm that represents the landlord, also wrote that he had received a complaint from one of the tenants at Goetz’s building. The tenant allegedly claimed to have seen a large squirrel climbing up and down the window ledge inside Goetz’s apartment. The letter goes on to say that the tenant and a friend will be called to testify at the trial. “Mr. Goetz’ history of harboring squirrels and/or other rodents is a chronic and ongoing nuisance,” Holland wrote in the letter, “and this most recent incident is, my client contends, additional proof that your client is unwilling or unable to comply with his obligations under his lease for the apartment and applicable provisions of law.” Holland could not be reached for a comment. Once Goetz is back in court, it will become clear whether the acquisition of the license will effectively “cure” the alleged violation. Either way, Sheehan isn’t worried. “I think that we’ll either be successful in getting their case dismissed, or we’ll come to a stipulation that is, to use a poor pun, toothless, without incisors,” he said.

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September 24, 2015


Yo! Brooklyn in the house! D’Ago spot to go Moe BY MICHELE HERMAN


didn’t realize this until the other day when I interviewed Moe Issa, founder of Brooklyn Fare supermarkets, but all my life I’ve been looking for the perfect grocer. I treasure Trader Joe’s, but you can’t do a complete week’s shopping there — where are the Corn Chex and the aluminum foil? I appreciate Western Beef’s rock-bottom prices, but it’s not the most welcoming environment. Chelsea Market is full of first-rate stuff — the Manhattan Fruit Exchange, Amy’s Bread, Italian imports — but it’s a madhouse. I tolerate D’Agostino because it’s two blocks from home, and am still warily circling Mrs. Green’s. But now I’ve spent an hour talking to Issa and think maybe I’ve found my man. He won me over so completely that I’m crossing my fingers that he isn’t too good to be true. His third Brooklyn Fare will be the surprising future occupant of the huge space in the Archive building, at 666 Greenwich St., that D’Agostino will be vacating on Oct. 15. (The official story of how D’Ag lost its lease is strange and unconvincing, involving some post-Sandy paperwork that didn’t get filed in time to the landlord, Rockrose. Patricia Dunphy, Rockrose senior vice president, said the company was not at liberty to speak yet. Understandably, D’Ag didn’t return my call. Issa says that Rockrose aggressively recruited him once they knew that D’Ag was leaving.) Issa, who was born in Israel and moved as a teenager to the U.S., growing up in Park Slope, is a self-described regular person. He used to be a distributor for Pepsi. He didn’t much like the feel of the supermarkets where he spent his days. “I’m not knocking anyone,” he told me, “but the others are basically corporate. They send a store plan and the employees have to follow it.” So he decided to revive the tradition of the neighborhood grocery. He opened his first store in 2009 on Schermerhorn St. in Downtown Brooklyn, with a tiny, much-celebrated restaurant attached to it, Chef’s Table. He opened his second store two years ago in a new apartment building on far W. 37th St. in Hell’s Kitchen, where he was also actively wooed by the landlord. He is trying to be all things to all people. “We honor requests,” he said. “We do anything the neighborhood wants.” To understand the M.O. of Mo’s Brooklyn Fare, you need to learn a bit of grocer-ese. S.K.U. stands for “stock-keeping unit” and it refers to any particular piece of merchandise for sale in a store. The average supermarket carries 10,000 to 30,000


September 24, 2015

The Brooklyn Fare supermarket on Schermerhorn St. in Downtown Brooklyn, the growing chain’s first location.

S.K.U.’s. Suburban superstores carry 30,000 to 60,000. Issa says that his 37th St. store, between Ninth and Tenth Aves., carries 89,000. That’s because it’s really three stores jammed into one quite small one (11,000 square feet). First, it has all the unglamorous supermarket stuff — Saran Wrap, Birds Eye vegetables, etc. It’s also a high-end store with cheery graphics, gluten-free options, Bob’s Red Mills grains, a huge line of Meyer’s Clean Day products, and the biggest wall of premium ice cream I’ve ever seen. Finally, it’s a gourmet shop whose cheese department includes five kinds of Manchego, plus pastries and prepared foods that are mostly organic. These latter are all made from scratch in the large basement by chef Cesar Ramirez of Chef’s Table, which scores 27 out of 30 in Zagat’s and is Brooklyn’s only Michelin three-star restaurant. The prices? Surprisingly — almost weirdly — reasonable. The other day, Haagen-Dazs was $4.99 a pint, not as good as Western Beef’s $3.99, but the selection is much bigger. Barilla pasta was $1.59 a pound, 16 ounces of Smucker’s peanut butter $4.29. Breakstone’s butter was on sale for $3.99 a pound (at the Archive D’Ag it was a whopping $8.95). A croissant was $1.95. When D’Ag leaves in mid-October, Brooklyn Fare will spend about three months renovating. Though that store, around since 1987, still looks appealing to my untrained eye, Issa said that everything, particularly the refrigeration, needs serious updating. He is excited about having 15,000 square feet to play with in Manhattan. “It allows me to do what I really want to do,” he said. I said, sounding like a cynical, change-wary Villager, that surely his West Village rent would be far more

than he’s paying on 37th St. (a truly terrible block, hard by the Lincoln Tunnel, jammed with buses and the squeal of their brakes) and he would pass along the increase to his customers. Not so, he said, and I might have kissed him had we not been talking on the phone. “We’ll have the same pricing as in the other stores, with a single Web site everyone can shop from.” He did admit that there may be a little variety from store to store. For instance, one store might offer a special aged steak at a premium price. But he hastened to add that they will always offer more modestly priced cuts. “We won’t have the absolute lowest prices, because we really focus on quality,” he said. “We could give you meat for $1.99 a pound, but you might get a stomachache or lose your teeth eating it.” I asked him whom he considers his nearest competitors in the West Village. “There’s not much out there,” he responded. I asked how his prepared foods would stack up against, say, Citarella. He said, without hesitating, go ahead and do a taste test. It just so happens that I had an exceedingly unneighborly first Brooklyn Fare experience. I was jotting down a few prices at the W. 37th St. store, having just done the same at the D’Ag in the Archive. But the aisles at Brooklyn Fare are much narrower and my secret shopping turned out to be rather conspicuous. The store manager began yelling at me, demanding that I stop, saying that I had no right to write down prices. He remained hostile even after I introduced myself and explained that I had called the company and was able to produce the name of the contact person.

Meanwhile, a good friend who lives near that store told me that she loves it except for one serious ongoing irritation: the cashiers overcharge some 20 to 30 percent of the time. “I’ve yet to be wrong,” she said, but each time the cashier has to zigzag through the maze of the store to check the price. “They never apologize,” she added. When I raised these issues, Issa was blessedly undefensive, explaining the challenges of syncing-up the signs and the prices of those 89,000 S.K.U.’s. “I’m working very hard on it,” he said. “Much happens between Friday and Saturday when the sale prices change,” he explained, “and we switched our grocer supplier in January, and my system and their system did not match. If you saw how much effort goes into the pricing, you’d be pulling your hair out.” He also said that customers constantly try to game the system, which can wear the cashiers down. As for the yelling manager, he said it was a major overreaction, and explained why: “It’s a copycat business.” A store in Queens, he said, copied his entire formula, down to the colors of the Web site. Issa is particularly proud of his produce. “I’m a big fruit person,” he said. “The quality is really, really good and the prices are reasonable. I send my produce manager to the market two to three times a week. We check case by case and try everything. If it’s not to my liking, it goes right back.” Produce is marked with the country of origin, generally U.S., Canada and Mexico. I didn’t find the prices great: heads of organic leaf lettuce from Mexico for $2.99 each, Canadian heirloom tomatoes $5.99 a pound. Unlike Mrs. Green’s, he does not list the region: “I don’t want to do overkill with details, but we do have a lot of local products.” In the Archive store, the extensive cheese department will be at the entrance next to the produce. “It will be big and beautiful,” he said. Not only that, if a neighbor upstairs doesn’t feel well or if a babysitter runs out of milk, he’ll have it sent up. He will also offer a discount program that earns customers $10 off for every 300 points earned (1 point equals $1 spent). “We will not disappoint anyone,” he insisted, perhaps sensing my mingled hope and skepticism, particularly given the fact that the restaurant that was supposed to open in conjunction with the W. 37th St. store has been delayed for ages. “Anything a customer needs — they can approach me directly.”



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Mercedez Sanchez, a former Nativity congregant, sitting in a pew at the recently merged church of Most Holy Redeemer. She won a lottery ticket to the pope’s Mass at Madison Square Garden.

Frank thoughts on Francis POPE continued from p. 8



THURSDAY, OCT. 8th 2015 at Madison Square Garden ENTER NOW AT


September 24, 2015

closed Catholic churches. I would ask him if he will consider reopening some of them. And if not, would he turn some of those buildings into homes or centers for the homeless?” Sanchez said other former Nativity members will be seeing Pope Francis at his Central Park procession, noting they signed up for  the city’s lottery online. Her cousin, Cristina Tejada, who also is a former Nativity parishioner now attending Most Holy Redeemer, stood in line to put her name in the lottery, as well, but wasn’t selected. “I wasn’t disappointed,” she said. “Things happen for a reason.” She’s prepared to spend up to $5,000 to  see Francis when he visits Poland next year. “I want to travel to Poland because he’s a lovely person,” she said. “He’s head of the Church and a person who is an example of the Christian life.” Reverend Monsignor Kevin Nelan, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, at 414 E. 14th St., said 22 parishioners would be going to The Garden to see Francis celebrate Mass. “And I have a ticket to St. Patrick’s,” he added. Nelan has been present at three other papal visits to New York. The first was in 1965 when he was a mere lad of 14, and traveled by subway from his family’s home in the Bronx to see Pope John Paul VI, the first pontiff to visit the Americas, being

driven in a limousine through Central Park en route to Yankee Stadium. There was no popemobile then, he recalled. “And no tickets,” he said. “It was so much different than it is today. There was no security like there is now. No one thought about terrorism.” Those attending The Garden event will have to report there at 2 p.m. because of security concerns, and wait at least four hours before the pope celebrates Mass, according to news reports.  To keep things moving along, the archdiocese has arranged for a two-hour show starting at 3 p.m.,  featuring celebrity  performers, like Harry Connick, Jr., Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Hudson and James “D Train” Williams. They will perform in a devotional program called “A Journey of Faith.”  Unremarkably, there will be religious merchandise for sale. The lavish event seems to run counter to the pope’s preference for a humble style. But it is in keeping with the Church’s much-noted skill for providing dramatic forms of worship over the centuries, among them the traditional Latin Masses with incense and the tinkling of bells. Those Masses dwindled significantly after the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965, observed Jane Sammon, a longtime volunteer at Maryhouse who knew Dorothy Day up until her death there in 1980 at age 83. “Smells and bells are what used to run things,” Sammon said. “People used to say it was a theatrical church. Not so much anymore.”

Dreaming of reforming our incarceration nation RHYMES WITH CRAZY BY LENORE SKENAZY


artygoers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice on Sunday night nibbled spinach puffs and sipped their wine. Men in suits chatted with ladies in cocktail dresses. College President Jeremy Travis took to the podium, thanked them for attending, and said he had just one word to describe their goal. “Wimpy.” What!?!  The entire room erupted in cheers.  “Yes!” Time to dream bigger. Dream huge! Dream of getting even more human beings out of their prison cells and back into glorious, everyday life — just like them.  This was the graduation gala for Just Leadership USA, a company dedicated to teaching formerly incarcerated people the leadership skills they need to change America’s love affair with prison. The group’s official goal is “half by 2030” (#halfby2030): cutting the prison

population by 50 percent in the next 15 years. That’s the goal Travis declared “wimpy.” We may not think of ourselves as a vindictive country, but consider his point: Getting us back to the incarceration rate of 1972 — hardly ancient history — would require an 80 percent reduction in the number of Americans in prison today. That’s how overboard we’ve gone when it comes to putting people in cells. The 19 Just Leadership fellows who just finished the yearlong course had been chosen from 117 applicants nationwide, all former prisoners, on the basis of the good they’d been doing since they got out.  Ronald Simpson-Bey spent 27 years behind bars in Michigan until his sentence was reversed for “prosecutorial misconduct” — including using inadmissible evidence and false testimony against him. (Long story short: He was one of four people in an armed robbery. Two testified against him and got out in two years, one is still inside.)  Once released, he started a letter-writing campaign to long-term prisoners, so that if and when they ever get out, they can adjust a little better. But even on the inside, Simpson-Bey had already become a leader. He raised $5,000 for the Special Olym-

pics. He studied law and helped other prisoners with their appeals. And every year he held a Kwanzaa ceremony where he’d give a copy of the book that changed his life — “Visions for Black Men,” by Na’im Akbar — to the youngest prisoner present. Many of those young men are still in touch with him, as are eight prisoners he helped get out — all on mistrials. But when I ask, “What’s the best thing you ever did?” those aren’t it. The best thing began on Father’s Day, 2001. Simpson-Bey’s only son, Ronald, Jr., 21, called the prison that morning to say he was coming by to celebrate. The day got later and later — no son. At last, Simpson-Bey was called to the phone. Ronald, Jr. had been shot. He was dead. The murderer was a 14-year-old. Ronald, Sr. knew exactly what would happen to him if he was tried as an adult and found guilty of premeditated murder. Life in prison, without parole. From his cell, he begged for the boy to be tried as a juvenile. The young man served seven years and is now out — and still in touch with Simpson-Bey. It isn’t a surprise Simpson-Bey was chosen for the Just Leadership program, because the organization believes that long sentences, “three

strikes” and the war on drugs are all squandering the human potential of entire generations. Glenn E. Martin, the group’s founder and president, spent six years in New York State prisons, and insists that “those closest to the problem are closest to the solution.” That’s why the other fellows included Bill Cobb, a Philadelphia man who lost job after job because of his record, now fighting for the employment rights of ex-offenders; and Khalil Cumberbach, a young man from Queens who spent most of his 20s in prison. Now he’s 33, a dad, and employed at the Legal Action Center, helping others with criminal histories turn their lives around. The lesson Cumberbach learned through Just Leadership is one that I told my own son when I came home: “Understand that everything you do has consequences, and these can be good or bad.” At the party, the consequences of the fellowship were easy to see. Family members crying for joy. Donors dabbing their eyes. A college president urging them to dream even bigger. And not a wimp in the house. Skenazy is a keynote speaker and author and founder of the book and blog “FreeRange Kids”



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September 24, 2015


Gardens cultivate our livability and community EDITORIAL


eading through our current issue of The Villager, you’ll quickly get a sense of how critically important gardens, parks and open space are to this community. On Page 1, there is a photo of Barry Benepe, 87, who pioneered the Greenmarkets, who was honored earlier this month, along with his son, Adrian Benepe, the city’s former Parks commissioner, by the Jefferson Market Garden. That garden has brought tranquility and nature to a spot once home to sorrow and anguish, the infamous Women’s House of Detention. On Page 2, in Scoopy’s Notebook, you can find out about the upcoming memorial for Adam Purple, the environmental icon whose Garden of Eden was one of the wonders of the Lower East Side, until it was plowed under for an affordable housing project. Readers’ response to our article last week that broke the news of the sustainability pioneer’s death at age 84 was overwhelming. Nearly 30,000 people read the article in a single day alone, and it has garnered more than 16,000 “likes.” Clearly, Purple and what he stood for resonate deeply — and not just here,

but around the world. Thanks to Google Analytics, we can see exactly where readers are when they read our articles online. And they were reading about Purple everywhere: from New York to New Delhi, from Seattle and San Francisco to Sydney, from Copenhagen to Khulna, from Wellington to Wailea-Makena. And then there is the Elizabeth St. Garden, our lead Page 1 story this week. More than 200 supporters of this magical garden turned out at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s hearing last Thursday to protest the Department of Housing and Preservation’s application for a $6 million grant to help build senior affordable housing on the site. To our knowledge, there has never been this kind of massive opposition to an L.M.D.C. funding application. L.M.D.C. is tasked with revitalizing Lower Manhattan by supporting projects where there is significant community support — this is written into the agency’s own regulations. Yes, there were also 50 supporters of the senior housing project there. But, let’s be clear: The garden advocates are the community in this case. They are the people that live right around the garden, and they are the ones that have claimed it, maintain it, use it and keep it open to the public. The garden has a mailing

list in the thousands. The space’s regular free events attract children and seniors alike, many of the latter from the affordable housing that already exists right on this same block, the 130-plus LIRA apartments. LIRA was built after a public school on the site was torn down. That school had open space, a large playground — so there is precedent on this block for open space. This garden has transformed this neighborhood into a real community. For it now to be destroyed by a housing project would be a crime. And let’s not forget: This was a stealth project from the very beginning. It was quietly hashed out by Councilmember Margaret Chin and the de Blasio administration. Community Board 2, not to mention other local politicians, were never notified till after the fact. This site was basically an “add-on” to the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area project, which is not even in the same community board. Yet, while SPURA underwent intensive community review over years, ending in a hard-won consensus among stakeholders, this Elizabeth St. site was slipped into the mix — with zero public review. That is a blatant violation of the public process that is owed to each and every community in this city, for each and

every project. Mayor de Blasio, when discussing the N.Y.U. 2031 project, pledged that, from now on, the city would be taking a “bottom up” approach on development projects, involving the community at every stage. That pledge has been egregiously flouted here. C.B. 2 has identified an even better alternative site for affordable housing, a city-owned property at Hudson and Clarkson Sts. Five times as many units could be built there, and Councilmember Corey Johnson has stated he supports the idea. Returning to La Plaza, in the past there were repeated attempts to build senior affordable housing there, too. But each time, they were defeated and the garden was saved. Eventually, the senior housing was built — but somewhere else in the district. As Allan Reiver, who created the Elizabeth St. Garden in the formerly blighted space, testified at last week’s hearing: If you put a building on a garden, that building will never be removed to create a garden again. Alternative sites can — are and will be — found for affordable housing. But a magical garden that has created a sense of community and livability where none existed before is irreplaceable. What would Jane Jacobs say?

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR D.I.D. ‘went Rove’ on us To The Editor: Re “Cude and Gault win big in district leader election” (news article, Sept. 17): I congratulate Terri Cude and Dennis Gault on their election as district leaders in Part B of the 66th Assembly District. They did a good job of meeting voters by knocking on doors and standing outside of supermarkets and I wish them


well as they go forward. Jean Grillo and I totally respect the will of the voters. As district leader, I always felt it was important to conduct our progressive politics in a positive fashion. And I am certain that Terri and Dennis would have been successful without the negative campaigning from local Democratic clubs, specifically, the Downtown Independent Democrats. I fully understand the rough and tumble of politics. But mailers that stated that Jean and I were personal recipients of city funds were an

outrageous attack on our integrity and honesty. There is no other word for these statements other than lies, and it needs to be said so our future local elections don’t look like the national campaigning that we all think is so dreadful. The public, which we were honored to serve, can make decisions without this mudslinging and really deserve elections that simply provide the positions of candidates and their qualifications. Finally, the suggestion that elected officials automatically support incumbents is not accurate and a review of recent elections proves that. But the most important takeaway is that all future candidates in our very special corner of the world should commit to running positive campaigns and reject the Karl Rove-style tactics that the Downtown Independent Democrats used. John R. Scott

Opponents spread lies To The Editor: Re “Cude and Gault win big in district leader election” (news article, Sept. 17): The most recent district leader election was won by Terri Cude and Dennis Gault and I wish them well. I especially hope they never face the type of LETTERS continued on p. 24


September 24, 2015

Honoring Benepes’ benefits to gardens and more


a bad time. The rest is history. Great New York history. "Today we have 59 Greenmarkets in the five boroughs and the Union Square Greenmarket is the jewel among Greenmarkets. Barry Benepe’s Greenmarket concept has changed the way we shop and eat.” Of the younger Benepe, Butson said, “The onetime city park ranger who always loved parks rose to become New York’s Parks commissioner under the Bloomberg administration. During his 11-year tenure as Parks commissioner, Adrian was instrumental in restoring historic parks, adding 730 acres of new parkland and laying the groundwork for an additional 2,000 acres. Under his leadership, the Parks Department put parks in schoolyards, parks on old brownfield industrial sites, parks on derelict railroad spurs” — referring to the enormously popular High Line — “spreading green spaces around the city. "We honor Adrian today for his dedication and outstanding accomplishments to make New York City a place where gardens, parks and public spaces matter.” Adrian Benepe is currently at the Trust for Public Land, where he is the senior vice president and director of city park development, focusing on public/private partnerships.


embers and supporters of the Jefferson Market Garden earlier this month celebrated its 40th anniversary with a fundraiser at the Lion restaurant, at 62 W. Ninth St. The green oasis was famously created in the heart of the central Village, at Sixth and Greenwich Aves., on the site of the former Women’s House of Detention after the jailhouse was razed. The garden members honored longtime West Villager Barry Benepe, whose vision gave New York the Greenmarkets, and his son, Adrian Benepe, former commissioner of the city’s Parks Department. They both received the coveted Brooke Astor Award for Outstanding Contributions to Urban Gardens. At the brief ceremony, Elizabeth Butson, the Jefferson Market Garden’s chairperson and The Villager’s former publisher, said of the elder Benepe, “Almost 40 years ago, Barry Benepe, a young and idealistic urban planner, decided that New York City needed greenmarkets. The farmers were having a difficult time. People in the city were shopping in supermarkets and missing the taste of fresh produce. "In 1976, the first Greenmarket opened at 59th St. and Second Ave. Soon after, Barry was asked to revive Union Square, which itself was going through

Barry Benepe displaying his Brooke Astor Award. It’s only the second time in its history that the garden has bestowed the coveted honor.

The Benepes, Barry and Adrian, with their Brooke Astor Awards in the Jefferson Market Garden before the fundraising event and ceremony at the Lion restaurant.

Rip REBNY rent / landmarks study as ‘ludicrous’ BY YANNIC RACK


reservationists last week slammed a new study that proclaims to prove that landmarking has a detrimental effect on affordable housing, with Greenwich Village and other historic neighborhoods in New York losing their rent-regulated apartments at a much faster rate than other parts of the city. The data analyzed by the Real Estate Board of New York, a trade association, shows that, from 2007 to 2014, the decline in the number of rent-regulated apartments within landmarked properties was four times higher than in non-landmarked parts of the city. “Contrary to statements made by advocates, affordable housing is not preserved at higher levels in NYC’s historic districts,” concludes the report, “Rent Stabilized Units in Landmarked Properties.” “The data shows that properties located within New York City’s historic districts showed a greater net loss of rent-regulated apartments than those located in non-landmarked parts of the city.” The historic districts that had the highest decline

of rent-stabilized units, according to the study, include Greenwich Village, with a loss of 1,432 units over seven years, or more than 25 percent of the neighborhood’s rent-stabilized apartments. But the author of the study’s data last week refuted the conclusion made by REBNY and said that, to the contrary, the numbers show that landmarked areas actually preserve their rent-stabilized units at a higher rate than non-landmarked areas in the same neighborhood. “I am disappointed to see REBNY claim the rent-stabilization data I gathered proves that landmarking does not protect rent stabilized apartments,” said John Krauss, who collected the numbers from “scraped” tax bills available online. He explained that most apartments leave stabilization through “high-rent vacancy decontrol,” which occurs when an apartment’s rent is higher than $2,700 when a new lease is signed. He also added that the study released by REBNY does not take neighborhood rents into account. “All they have shown is that landmark areas have higher rent,” he said. “The loss of regulated units in such areas could have been worse without landmarking. Without landmarks, developers

would be incentivized to buy out existing stabilized tenants and replace the buildings.” Krauss countered that comparing the changes in the number of rent-stabilized units between 2007 and 2014 by community board actually shows that landmarked areas preserved their stabilized units better than non-landmarked areas in many neighborhoods. Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, similarly called the real estate group’s study highly misleading. “REBNY’s claim that because of landmark designation more rent-stabilized units are being lost in neighborhoods like Greenwich Village or Brooklyn Heights than in Washington Heights or Brownsville, is as ludicrous as it is irresponsible and false,” the preservationist said in a statement. “For REBNY, a main architect of our city’s affordability crisis, to blame landmarking  for the loss of rent-regulated units is like pouring gasoline on the house next door,” Berman said, “tossing a lighted match, and then pointing to the fire as evidence that your neighbor is a bad caretaker of their property.” September 24, 2015


Straitlaced rev way too uptight for the Village FLASHBACK BY YANNIC RACK


onsidering the Village’s bohemian past and present, it might not seem like the ideal place to lead people onto the straight and narrow path to God. That was the same conclusion that Reverend Roger Fulton came to after eight years preaching in the area, when he was profiled in The Villager on Nov. 6, 1980. “People around here aren’t exactly falling all over themselves to come to Jesus,” he told reporter Mike Tyler back then for a profile of him and his place of worship, the small non-denominational evangelical Neighborhood Church on Bleecker St. Fulton had founded the church on W. 10th St. in 1971 and moved it to Bleecker St. two years later, where it still occupies a ground-floor space today and regularly puts on concerts and art shows. Growing up in Maryland, Fulton turned to God when he was seven years old. “By 11, he’d preached his first sermon, and decided that the life of the pastor was for him,” the article noted.

The Villager’s Nov. 6, 1980, article on Reverend Roger Fulton.

“For more than eight years the church has eked out an existence in the Village, working to nudge as many of the unconverted as it can onto what it sees as the proper moral path to God,” Tyler wrote. “The progress has been slow.” According to the article, the congregation started with a flock of 10 believers that had recently swelled to 40. Its members supported the church by the tithe system — donating 10 percent of their salaries.

But the church’s adversarial stance on many issues, including abortion, the American Civil Liberties Union, détente with the Soviet Union and pornography were not popular among their neighbors. “Obviously these kinds of views don’t exactly jibe with the rest of the bohemian Village,” Tyler wrote. “In an area full of writers and artists, Fulton preaches censorship of such authors as D.H. Lawrence and, as he puts it, ‘other literary garbage.’ ”

In the interview, Fulton complained that his statements were routinely misrepresented by the press — damaging his image, especially among the gay population of the Village, who were already more than wary of him over his ardent opposition to gay rights. “Because of this, many gays consider his church a real eyesore,” Tyler reported, adding that it had been picketed more than once and was even vandalized by a radical gay group, whose members broke a window and spray-painted graffiti urging Fulton and his followers to get out of the Village. In the article, Tyler also described Fulton’s apartment above the church, which, with its stiff-backed furniture and polished baby grand piano, had one quality in common with the preacher’s flock. “It seems transplanted lock, stock and barrel from the Midwest,” Tyler noted. “In fact, so do the members of the church often seen milling around in front of the Bleecker St. storefront.” He asked Fulton how many of them were actually native Villagers, and the preacher laughed: “[He says] that though the church doesn’t demand it, people who turn to God also seem to turn to a more conservative style of dress — even Villagers.”

D.I.D. did not help our slate in the 65th A.D. TALKING POINT BY GEORGETTE FLEISCHER


aveat petitor (candidate beware). The Villager’s Sept. 11 frontpage article “Cude and Gault win big in district leader election” — which features a triumphalist Sean Sweeney as leader of the “powerful” Downtown Independent Democrats club — needs a sober corrective. I was one of 10 candidates asked to run on the D.I.D. reform slate in the 65th Assembly District, for judicial delegate or judicial delegate alternate. All 10 of us lost. My understanding is that this result is not something that has happened before; in short, never has a coalition of indicted former Assembly Speaker


September 24, 2015

Sheldon Silver’s Truman Democratic Club, the United Democratic Organization and the Lower East Side Democrats swept all 10 delegate positions. What happened? Nothing. That is, D.I.D. did nothing to help me, or as far as I know, any of the other 10 candidates who would have been tasked with selecting Supreme Court justices, after D.I.D. asked us to run on its reform slate, in my case, in order “to help out.” Sweeney stated he would be mailing out a campaign flier on our behalf a week before the election; I know of only two voters in my election district who got one, one of whom is myself. Realizing a couple of days before the election that no one in our area had any idea an election was happening, let alone what the issues were, I and another candidate scrambled to do something on our own in our respective election districts. I am grateful to the voters who came out in pouring rain, and who made the count remarkably close at

my polling site, the DeSoto School, at 143 Baxter St. (our slate lost 201 to 199, for judicial delegate; and 209 to 199, for alternate), even though I was able to put in only a few hours of campaigning around my heavy teaching schedule. Had the election been based on my election district alone, the vote would have been evenly split, with five of our reform delegates/alternates winning election, plus five from the other slate. But, the numbers across all 96 election districts were devastating: We lost by 5,862 to 4,073, with 52 write-ins, for judicial delegate; and 5,806 to 3,520, with 34 write-ins, for alternate. The upshot? Judy Rapfogel, Assemblymember Silver’s longtime chief of staff and wife of William Rapfogel, currently in prison for multimillion-dollar theft from the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, will be selecting our Supreme Court justices. She won election to the final slot by 50 votes. Based on figures I have, the 65th

A.D. is 43 percent Asian and 15 percent Hispanic. Yet D.I.D.’s sole piece of campaign literature was not even translated into Chinese or Spanish. In a post-election e-mail blast based on The Villager’s article, “Election Results: Soho Romps!” Sweeney called D.I.D. “the Soho Alliance’s political wing,” and the “ ‘official’ Democratic club for the district” — I guess that would be the 66th A.D. If D.I.D., whose executives live in luxury lofts and condos in Soho and Noho, condescends to engage with the Lower East Side and Chinatown for politics, should it not have the decency to address those heavily immigrant, public housing and other rent-regulated constituents in language they understand? Moreover, does a political club not owe something to the candidates that it asks to put their names, their reputations and their aspirations for fair elections and corruption-free government on the line? How about a readable flier and a campaign plan?

Tomorrow’s talk of the town, now at NYFF 53rd New York Film Festival has a vast body and a strong core BY RANIA RICHARDSON


utumn is upon us, and with it comes the onslaught of fall season arts events that can overwhelm even the most organized New Yorker. Luckily, the New York Film Festival (NYFF) shines as a beacon at this time of year, with a highly curated selection of movies which quickly become the talk of the town, and fuel awards season speculation for months to come. The 53rd New York Film Festival will screen selections from the best of world cinema from Sept. 25–Oct. 11, in Alice Tully Hall and other venues at Lincoln Center. While just 26 films comprise the highly anticipated main slate, the lineup also includes programs of documentaries, shorts, interactive experiences, experimental work, revivals, and director discussions. The festival’s opening night film, Robert Zemeckis’ “The Walk,” world premieres one day later than usual — Sat., Sept. 26 — in anticipation of transportation snarls due to the visit by Pope Francis. The film focuses on the true story of a high-wire amble between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing the role of acrobat Philippe Petit. With a cadre of co-conspirators, he mounts stakeouts and rehearsals, and weathers close calls and betrayals to execute his audacious plan. Will the film be as riveting as the documentary, “Man on Wire,” that mined the same territory in 2008?  The PG-rated drama will


“The Walk” focuses on 1974’s high-wire amble between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Philippe Petit.

be projected using a specially installed RealD system, effectively giving audiences the feeling of being right in the action. Billed as a “technical marvel,” “The Walk” boasts a 3D re-creation of Lower Manhattan in the 1970s that makes this a must-see. Three other films will world premiere at the festival: “Miles Ahead,” the directorial debut of Don Cheadle, who also wrote and stars in the Miles Davis biopic; Steven Spielberg’s Cold War-era “Bridge of Spies,” starring Tom Hanks as a lawyer who negotiates the exchange of a U-2 pilot for a Soviet agent; and “Don’t Blink Robert Frank,” a documentary portrait of the seminal photographer/filmmaker by Laura Israel.

For many film festivals, world premieres are essential to build excitement, exhibit industry leadership, and gain attention from the press. Other festivals use their platform to bring already lauded work from around the globe to local audiences. The NYFF does both, with a tilt towards the latter, significantly culling from major international festivals. The programmers keep a keen eye on award winners from what is considered to be the preeminent film festival in the world — Cannes. Held in the south of France in May, it is far enough in advance of the fall season to be a key source for the NYFF. Several of these award winners are among the selections that orig-

inated at Cannes. Yorgos Lanthimos envisions an absurdist future in “The Lobster,” where single people must pair up or turn into animals. “Carol,” the latest from Todd Haynes, is based on Patricia Highsmith’s semi-autobiographical novel, and stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as lesbian lovers in the 1950s. Hou Hsiaohsien’s “The Assassin” may be a delicately plotted and glacially paced Tang Dynasty royal court drama, but viewers can luxuriate in stunning cinematography, sets, and costumes, and gain a new appreciation for sound design. Slotted in the special events section, “Son of Saul” does not NYFF continued on p. 18 September 24, 2015


A kaleidoscope of people and places at NYFF NYFF continued from p. 17

shy away from immersing viewers in disturbing events. The debut feature from Laszlo Nemes tells the harrowing tale of a man in Auschwitz who delivers his fellow Jews to the gas chamber. At Cannes, the film divided critics. The special events section also includes work from performance artist Laurie Anderson, Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow, and Paul Thomas Anderson. Also included is a new work by Athina Rachel Tsangari, a cohort of Yorgos Lanthimos in the quirky style referred to as the “Greek Weird Wave.” Tsangari is currently the filmmaker-in-residence at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the nonprofit organization that hosts the NYFF in the fall, New Directors/ New Films (in conjunction with the Museum of Modern Art) in the spring, and general programming year-round. During her residency, Tsangari will be shooting footage for her new film in New York. A city with seemingly limitless stories, New York appears frequently in the NYFF lineup. Besides “The Walk” and “Miles Ahead,” there is “Maggie’s Plan,” a romantic comedy by Rebecca Miller, and John Crowley’s “Brooklyn,” about a girl who leaves Ireland in search of a better life. Among New York filmmakers presenting their work are Laura Israel (of the aforementioned “Don’t Blink”) and Michael Almereyda, two Downtown denizens who came of age creatively in Greenwich Village in the 1980s. Israel made music videos for Patti Smith, Lou Reed, John Lurie, and many others before embarking on her first feature about her friend, Robert Frank, for whom she has been archiving video work. During his decades of independent filmmaking, Almereyda’s imaginative undertakings have included shooting with a toy camera and adapting “Hamlet” to the present day while preserving Shakespeare’s dialogue. His new film, “Experimenter” (starring Peter Sarsgaard), follows the social psychologist and researcher Stanley Milgram, whose experiments included instructing participants to administer electric shocks to other subjects. Beyond our borders, countries around the world have berths in


September 24, 2015


“The Lobster” envisions a future where single people must pair up or turn into animals. Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz star.


In John Crowley’s “Brooklyn,” a girl leaves Ireland in search of a better life.


Jia Zhanke is on both sides of the camera at NYFF, as the filmmaker of “Mountains May Depart” (pictured here) and as the subject of a documentary.

the lineup, with a good showing from Asia — Thailand, Taiwan, China, Japan and South Korea are all represented in the main slate. Both Hou Hsiao-hsien and Jia Zhangke will be on hand to discuss their oeuvre with festival director Kent Jones. Jia Zhanke will also be on both sides of the camera, as director of the then/now epic of loss and progress “Mountains May Depart,” and as the subject of a documentary on his life by Walter Salles. Todd Haynes and Michael Moore will also participate in discussions of their life’s work. Moore continues to kick up controversy — although this time with a lighter touch — with “Where to Invade Next,” in which he travels extensively to examine the policies of other countries. Another provocative film on tap is the latest from Danny Boyle, who takes on a new genre, the biopic, with a revealing if fictionalized story of a genius, in “Steve Jobs.” Make a few selections from the well-curated 53rd NYFF program, and you are guaranteed to hit the bullseye. For the full schedule of events and tickets, visit

Joe Jackson’s back with what you want ‘Fast Forward’ is brilliant piano pop rock BY KEITH VALCOURT


ooking sharp and sounding reinvigorated, the true prince of the thinking man’s piano pop rock is back with a brilliant new CD and US tour. Okay, to be fair, Joe Jackson has never really gone away. Throughout his five decades of creating captivating music, he has continued to release solid album after solid album, supported by live tours around the world. Also true is that some of those albums have proven too challenging for the general public. Yes, I’m talking about “Will Power,” “Night Music” and 2012’s collection of Ellington covers (“The Duke”). Fans can relax and rejoice — because the upcoming “Fast Forward” finds Jackson returning to his roots, to stunning effect. Jackson’s first disc of original material since 2008’s underrated gem, “Rain,” this collection is structured like a classic double album, and thematically divided into four distinctive “sides,” each of which features four songs recorded in a specific city: New York, New Orleans, Berlin, and Amsterdam (there are 14 originals and 2 covers). For the New York recordings, Jackson enlisted a myriad of top-notch talent, including jazz violinist Regina Carter and guitar guru Bill Frissel. I was able to get an early listen to a handful of the songs, and was beyond pleased at both the writing and scope. The title track is an emotion-drenched mid-tempo ballad that easily recalls the Jackson hits “Real Men” and “Breaking Us In Two,” while the song “A Little Smile” is a rollicking and sly look at dating in the digital age that is sure to draw favorable comparisons to his bestknown hit, “Steppin’ Out.” And the sublime cover of Tom Verlaine’s “See No Evil” is so perfect it may make you forget the original by Television ever existed. Yes, it is that good. If you’re planning to see him live, get there on time, since there will be no opening act. With a catalog of hits that includes “Hometown,” “Sunday Papers,” “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”


Joe Jackson, who never went away, returns to classic form with a new 16-track CD and a US tour that plays Town Hall on Oct. 20 & 21.

and dozens more, there is no need for a warm-up. Jackson will play a full evening packed with old favorites and highlights from his illustrious career as well as new material. Joining Jackson on tour will be his longtime bassist, Graham Maby. The rest of the ensemble is fleshed out by New York stalwarts Teddy Kumpel on guitar and drummer Doug Yowell. Jackson recently remarked, “We’re all strong singers. We’ll

sound like a lot more than four singers. This tour is gonna be a lot of fun. Can’t wait.” Neither can we, Joe. Neither can we. “Fast Forward” is released on Oct. 2. The tour kicks off in Seattle, WA on Sept. 29 and continues through early Nov. — with two shows at Town Hall (123 W. 43rd St. btw. Sixth Ave. & Broadway) on Oct. 20 and 21. Get tickets ($60–$110) and info at

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September 24, 2015


What’s on Off-Off

Metropolitan Playhouse celebrates America’s theatrical legacy ABOUT

Now in its 24th season, focusing on the theme of “Hope,” Metropolitan Playhouse is devoted to the exploring and enriching America’s theatrical legacy, and the discovery of that tradition’s place in world theater. Metropolitan focuses on three types of productions: forgotten American masterpieces, new plays based on America’s history and literature, and works from around the world that put these American works in context.


A second marriage comes with more than one second chance, in “The Awful Truth.” It’s the first revival of Arthur Richman’s never-published 1921 hit comedy, which revolves around New York socialite Lucy Warriner — who, before she can remarry, must put to rest the rumor that her first husband divorced her because she had an affair. While enlisting her ex to reassure her new fiancé’s family, he tells Lucy privately that he knows she cheated on him. She denies it, and they give very different accounts of their failed marriage. One thing is not in dispute, however: they are more in love now than they were then. Equal parts wit and warmth, the play asks what chance friendship, love, or marriage have if they depend on knowing “The Awful Truth.” Through Oct. 18. Thurs.–Sat. at 7:30 p.m. and Sun. at 3 p.m. Also Wed. Oct. 7 & 14 and Sat. Oct. 10 & 17 at 3 p.m. At Metropolitan Playhouse (220 E. Fourth St. btw. Aves. A & B). For tickets ($25, $20 for students/seniors, $10 for children), call 800-939-3006 or visit


Nov. 13–Dec. 13, “Alison’s House” is Susan Glaspell’s 1930 Pulitzer Prize winner about a family struggling with how to celebrate and protect the legacy of a famous, but famously reclusive, ancestor. A January 2016 festival has guest companies celebrating the most hopeful of American writers and thinkers: The Transcendentalists. From April 11–May 1, 2016, the Seventh Annual East Village Theater Festival will present all-new one-act plays inspired by COURTESY JACOB J. GOLDBERG PHOTOGRAPHY the life and lore of the Lower East Side. Alexandra O’Daly and Nate Washburn confront “The Awful Truth.”


September 24, 2015


M e t r o p o l i t a n Playhouse is one of the jewels of the Downtown theatre scene, with a unique mission that it fulfills admirably and engagingly. It specializes in American plays of the late 19th and early 20th century, offering occasional works that one has heard of but rarely (if ever) seen, and much more often works which, even when popular in their own day, have been undeservedly forgotten. Wi t h invariably strong casts and illuminating d i re c t i o n , Metropolitan gives new life to these works — revealing their theatrical power and, not infrequently, their continuing relevance to today’s social, cultural and personal concerns. Season themes tie the works together and put them in dialogue with each other, but the real achievement of the theatre is in the revelation of worthy but undeservedly forgotten dramas from our country’s theatrical past. Their ongoing work continually enriches and deepens our national dramatic heritage, and the many pleasurable evenings I have spent in this theatre have proven a most rewarding blend of entertainment and enlightenment.

Marvin Carlson

Sidney E. Cohn Professor of Theatre The Graduate Center The City University of New York

Buhmann on Art

‘Collecting Paradise’ at the Rubin Museum of Art BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN


ollecting Paradise: Buddhist Art of Kashmir and Its Legacies” focuses on the art and cultural impact of Kashmir, where exceptional Buddhist sculptures, paintings and manuscripts have been created since the 5th–6th centuries. Kashmir, which extends between present-day Pakistan, India and China, had  significant cultural impact, especially in the Western Himalayas and West Tibet. In fact, it was the many Western Himalayan pilgrims to Kashmir who furthered cultural exchange, by collecting art there and bringing it to the new monasteries that were being built at home. In addition, these pilgrims invited Kashmiri teachers and artists to work together, in order to create a new Buddhist culture. Over time, the Buddhist art of Kashmir became deeply imbedded in the  cultural identity of Western Himalayan Buddhists. This elegant exhibition succeeds in tracing the continuity  of the art of Kashmir in the Western Himalayas for over a millennium. It begins

with the delicately carved ivory and metal sculptures from Kashmir that were brought to the Western Himalayas in the 7th–12th centuries and it continues with the presentation of sculptures and paintings created by Kashmiri and local artists in the Western Himalayas in the 11th–14th centuries. The survey concludes with examples from the 15th–17th centuries, when Kashmiri aesthetics were revitalized during an economic and religious revival in West Tibet.  Besides showcasing many stunning artifacts, the exhibition pays homage to Western  Himalayan Buddhists, who played an important role in collecting and preserving the art of Kashmir. Through Oct. 19 at the Rubin Museum of Art (150 W. 17th St. btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). Museum Hours: Mon. & Thurs., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed., 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Fri., 11 a.m.–10 p.m. (free admission to galleries after 6 p.m.). Sat. & Sun., 11 a.m.–6 p.m. $15 general admission ($10 for students/seniors; free admission for seniors on the first Monday of the month; free for kids 12 and younger, and RMA members).Call 212620-5000 or visit


Folio from “The Perfection of Wisdom” manuscript depicting Gate-keeper of the eastern direction Vajrankusha. Tholing Monastery, Western Tibet; 11th century; Ink, opaque watercolor and gold on paper.


Four-Armed Mahakala. Tholing Monastery (?), Western Tibet; 15th century; Pigments on cloth; 90 x 70 cm.

Crowned Buddha Shakyamuni. Kashmir or Gilgit, present-day northern Pakistan; 8th century; Brass with inlays of copper, silver and zinc. September 24, 2015



September 24, 2015

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR LETTERS continued from p. 14

lies that were directed at me and John Scott and deeply hurt our families. It’s said that a lie travels around the world before the truth even gets it boots on. Never has that been truer. There appear to be some folks who think that politics is just a game and it doesn’t matter what you say because there is no downside to slander during an election. But I believe that we risk turning off more voters and certainly deterring many good people from getting involved if these activities are not challenged. I don’t think the distortion and lies were necessary for my opponent’s success, but someone did. The notion that I wrangled a cushy job with the Board of Elections, or that I was paid a ridiculously high salary is a dangerous figment of someone’s imagination. I’m an employee who started at the bottom ($11.99 an hour) and I’ve risen to the extravagant salary of about $40,000. What’s dangerous is the six-figure imaginary sum printed, for all to believe, in campaign mailings — obviously, the total of all those $40,000s. The fact is, I could lose my rent-stabilized apartment if that fake salary meant I was inching close to earning something near the luxury decontrol cap, which I clearly do not. But the most disturbing attack was on the Tribeca Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). These are neighborhood residents who stepped up after the World Trade Center attacks and were trained by the city’s Office of Emergency Management to assist neighbors in the event of a disaster. I’m proud of these individuals and I’m proud of my service with them. The City Council provides grants for the supplies required by the team, and O.E.M. has a detailed inventory of those supplies, from flashlights to communication radios to safety gloves. But a last-minute mailing filled with distortions or lies suggesting these grants went to me personally left no opportunity for rebuttal. Ambush politics may be the stock and trade for a few destructive people in our community, but it is up to the press to shine a spotlight on these schemes and retrieve fair play for our future elections. Jean B. Grillo

An icon is gone To The Editor: Re “Adam Purple, gardens godfather, 84, dies biking on Williamsburg Bridge” (news article, Sept. 17): Adam Purple was an icon in a pre-gentrified East Village. I used to see him all over New York City on his bike seeking horse manure for his Garden


September 24, 2015

of Eden — which was trashed by the Koch administration. He did undergo persecution in the name of regress. Let’s remember him as one who was into saving the Earth. I used to take my daughter, Rachel, there when she was small. It’s unfortunate my grandkids wont get to know him. Aron Pieman Kay

A Purple salute To The Editor: Re “Adam Purple, gardens godfather, 84, dies biking on Williamsburg Bridge” (news article, Sept. 17): He was a radical gardener working in the world’s most urban landscape. His point was not that it could be done. His point was that it should be done. It is a lesson learned with great admiration for the teacher. Yes, I am wearing purple as I work in the garden today. Lawrence White

Living with Adam Purple To The Editor: Re “Adam Purple, gardens godfather, 84, dies biking on Williamsburg Bridge” (news article, Sept. 17): I lived at 184 Forsyth St. from 1977 to ’79 before the hoopla but in front of the stupendous garden. Perched on the third floor, I watched it grow. Adam’s letters to the city continued to get bombed-out buildings torn down, plus there was the organized arson of the times. So while I started with sun from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., two years later I had sun from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.! Adam allowed me in for $50 a month, which was used for oil. In that abandoned building, I studied and warmed myself by oven light and heat. Adam stopped firefighters from smashing my windows to fight the fire in No. 182. He had me remove all the slate stairs from the frames on all six floors and flip them off the fire escapes to make a walkway around the garden. Additionally, he noted, it would cut down on the vertical junkie traffic in the building. He eventually had me fill the place up to the third floor with chairs, toilets, couches and furniture in order to stem the horizontal traffic, as well. He would tell me to photograph the neighborhood since it was unbelievable. But as a 16-year-old I was too young to realize that decades later it would be a different type of unbelievable. I feel like Rutger Hauer in “Blade Runner” since with Adam Purple gone, “all those moments will be lost.” I recall the map I drew for my

girlfriend when she would come to babysit Nova Dawn, Adam and Eve’s newborn daughter from that time. I directed her to go past the three-piecesuited old-school Bowery “bums,” I put a skull and bones for her to avoid Forsyth Junkie Laden Park, told her to grab me some food at Yonah Schimmel, then go past the very last strip of hookers that dotted Forsyth, past No. 186 — boarded up and taken over by fleas — to the white door, then lift up the mail slot, reach in and to the right and ring the bell. When Adam let’s you in, I told her, grab some of the magazines in the doorway (addressed to names like Bilme Lader or Takin Fofree) for reading material. It’s a time in my memory that is difficult to relay to others. There was the year he grew an entire concentric circle with weed and the Keystone Cops routine event that played out when the cops found it — wow! The events of the ’77 blackout, particularly along Orchard St., a few blocks east. The material is almost seemingly endless. Adam Purple, a truly unique Zoo Yorker, R.I.P. I wish I had seen you in modern times to say thank you. Larry Friedman

Diamond in the rough To The Editor: Re “Adam Purple, gardens godfather, 84, dies biking on Williamsburg Bridge” (news article, Sept. 17): Adam Purple was a gardener on Forsyth St. when it was very rough here. I lived on Forsyth from 1978 to 1990, so I do remember it well. He built, out of love and sweat, one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve ever seen. The phrase I remember most, from one of the (many) community meetings trying to ward off the looming destruction of his garden and home: “I’m from Missouri — show me.” Missouri is known as the “Show Me State,” in honor of a state congressman who famously said: “Frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.” Adam Purple built a garden here when it mattered, amid burned-out buildings and no hope during a time when we didn’t even merit real estate speculation. K Webster

All about Mama Earth To The Editor: Re “Adam Purple, gardens godfather, 84, dies biking on Williamsburg Bridge” (news article, Sept. 17): I loved seeing Adam, Eve and the

young ones blading up First Ave. like a snake moving along the asphalt. It always shifted my perspective on the day, seeing them that way, knowing their lives were thoroughly intentional and about Mama Earth. Adam exemplified the back-to-theland movement, except he did it in the concrete jungle! Peace to you, Adam. Leslie McEachern

The Original Mr. Natural To The Editor: Re “Adam Purple, gardens godfather, 84, dies biking on Williamsburg Bridge” (news article, Sept. 17): Digging my hands in horse dung I learned how bacteria can save the planet Each turn of soil, each plant, each brick or slate laid Give back to the People what remains ours, always So let the worms relieve my bones of marrow and give beauty and nourishment to those who follow me Richard Chilton

Great churches coverage To The Editor: Re “A tale of two Catholic churches in the East Village, now merged” (news article, Sept. 10): This was a sensitive and extremely well-informed article about a deeply emotional subject. Similar events are happening in other cities as neighborhoods change, religious views shift and the Church adapts to the modern age. The Villager and the writer, Mary Reinholz, should be congratulated for this coverage. Nat Segaloff E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to or fax to 212229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.

September 24, 2015


Garden or housing? GARDEN continued from p. 7

block, whose address is also 21 Spring St. Jabbing her finger in the air, she said the garden stays. “Now we got something going, and they can take it over?” she said. “Over my dead body! That garden is a wonder...all our children, our grandchildren use it.” Jennifer Romine said, according to a petition signed by the LIRA tenants, 95 percent — or 131 households — strongly oppose the garden’s destruction. These tenants are comprised of 60 percent senior households and 40 percent families, she said. Garden booster Sharon D’Lugoff, who has lived on Elizabeth St. for 40 years, indignantly said there are seven vacant affordable units in her own former TIL (Tenant Interim Lease) low-income building right now. Having a green space on the block has been a game-changer for her and her young daughter, Ace, she said. “I’ve walked to Washington Square and Tompkins Square for grass,” she said of her past treks to get to a park that really felt like one. Housing advocates argue that there are other parks nearby, including Sara D. Roosevelt Park and DeSalvio Playground. However, Adam Woodward said, “All the other parks they mentioned are concrete, paved... basketball courts.” Veronica Lee, of CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, said Chinatown is losing affordable and rent-regulated housing. Meanwhile, she said, “The garden has attracted wealthy newcomers who have pushed out the longtime affordable tenants.” Kenny Mei, also from CAAAV, offered a novel idea: Put a park on top of the new building, like the elevated High Line park. This elicited some exasperated tsks and sighs from the audience. John Benscoter, the garden’s treasurer and a 25-year Elizabeth St. resident, presented the L.M.D.C. panel with several boxes containing more than 1,300 petition signatures supporting saving the garden. Tom Connor, chairperson of the Greenwich House Senior Advisory Board, said he thought there was “room for both” housing and the garden on the Elizabeth St. site.


September 24, 2015

“I’m using all of all of my Social Security to pay my rent,” he said. “I love gardens, but I don’t want to have to sleep in gardens at night.” Similarly, Deborah Gonzalez, a tenant leader at 10 Stanton St., supported the affordable housing in an era of spiraling costs. “We used to be a community,” she said, “now we’re a commodity.” But Soho’s Lora Tenenbaum, her voice trembling with emotion, said the garden is irreplaceable for the open-space-starved area. “I am a senior and I need this garden,” the former C.B. 2 member said. “On 9/11 my home was filled with dust. I wore a mask inside. I need fresh air, I need green space — and that is something that seniors like me need.” Christabel Gough, of the Society for Architecture of New York, said, “The proposal to build on this site shows an incredible shortsightedness.” Stuart Zechman could barely contain his emotion as he said, “It is cynical, false and divisive to make us choose between our grandparents and our children. Don’t make me go home and tell my daughter she can never play in the Elizabeth St. Garden again.” After the hearing, C.B. 2 Chairperson Bergman told The Villager that the opinion of people who actually live near the garden should take precedence. The Chinese seniors were driven over to the hearing from Hamilton-Madison House, a settlement house in C.B. 3. Similarly, Coalition for a District Alternative, an East Side political club in C.B. 3, last week voted unanimously to do a letter-writing campaign in support of the housing project. “Everyone has a right to speak,” Bergman said, “but it’s always better when people know something about what they are speaking of. People who live a mile away in another community are unlikely to understand the community value of the garden.” Bergman said neither the housing advocacy organizations nor H.P.D. had reached out to C.B. 2 to “exchange ideas about how to get the most possible affordable housing built in our district.” Of H.P.D., specifically, he said, “They do not seem to embrace the idea of working with us as a partner.”

New preschool gets urban kids back to the land BY CODY BROOKS


f you turn the corner past the Burger King on Delancey St. and walk up Suffolk, out of the corner of your eye you may see a stretch of bamboo leaves reaching over a wooden wall in between the concrete and brick buildings. Beyond that wooden wall is Elements Preschool, a nature-based preschool where the point, to the fear of many New York City parents, is for kids to run amok and get dirty. Newly opened in June, Elements is the work of owner Shilpa Sethi, who designed the preschool based on both Scandinavian “forest schools” and her own experiences growing up in rural India. According to Sethi, the concept of a forest school is straightforward: A child’s inquisitiveness is the best tool for learning, and the rich world of nature has a lot to be inquisitive about. Popularized in Scandinavia in the 1950s, these schools prize not just the intellectual rewards from a teacher-led walk into the woods, but the emotional, almost meditative learning from simply being in nature. They were designed to combat what New York Times best-selling author Richard Louv called in 2005 “nature-deficit disorder,” when a child has so little contact with nature that psychological problems can develop, such as attention disorders or anxiety. It makes sense then that the large outdoor area of Elements is the preschool’s leading selling point. A walk through the bamboo-forested alleyway opens into a verdant rectangular backyard, sectioned off into distinct little universes so children can explore different facets of nature. A dirt mound in the middle of the yard is a big hit, children spraying it with water hoses to make mud, which they stomp in and dig up. A large tree rises from the woodland area, littered with pinecones, where Sethi has brought in ladybugs and other insects to encourage a small ecosystem. Ten feet away is a garden with cucumbers and strawberries, among other fruits and vegetables, which the children use in the preschool’s kitchen to learn spelling, literacy and mathematics and to expand their palate through cooking. Sethi’s prime worry is getting more New York parents onboard with the concept. At first, she explained that most of the interest has been from parents with a more European mindset, only to concede after a pause, “Well… they’re all actually European.” One mom took a tour and loved the idea of the place, only to ask Sethi if her son could be removed from playing with

Tykes log some time painting in Elements Preschool’s nature-based backyard.

the dirt and other grubby things outside. Sethi responded that Elements would likely not be a good fit for them. This apprehension is something Sethi tries hard to solve while maintaining the principles of Elements. The dirt used in the outdoor area is “clean dirt,” she explained with a laugh. The preschool found a farm on Long Island with dirt free from harmful chemicals and other irritants and had shipped it to Manhattan. Sethi wants the children to get dirty. From a child’s point of view, the natural world can be thought of as an infinitely varied set of Legos, allowing kids to explore how natural elements work and encouraging them to use their imagination to manipulate and build. Another benefit of dirty learning is that being exposed to the bacteria within dirt “boosts their immune systems,” Sethi pointed out, which is true. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration points out that epidemiological studies link First World cleanliness to increased rates of allergies and asthma; children need exposure to germs early on while the immune system is developing so that it learns how to fend for itself, the study notes. Not wanting to be overly bohemian, Elements makes sure its children learn basic math and literacy skills to prepare them for kindergarten — just from a different angle, such as through cooking, for example. Instead of kids being “huddled from one corner to the other,” as Sethi puts it, the teachers provide regimented segments of learning and also free play, which turns into a free-for-all that the teachers watch and direct when opportunity strikes. As an illustration of this, take what teachers did one day when it started

raining. They and children used bamboo and a clear plastic tarp to make a tepee. They sat inside it, watching droplets of water pitter-patter above their heads and slide down to the ground. This gave the teachers a chance to explain what rain is and

why it does what it does, all while the children experienced it viscerally. Elements is a novelty in New York City, though forest schools are still popular in Scandinavia today. Sethi hopes the concept will finally jump over the Atlantic.


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Profile for Schneps Media

The Villager • Sept. 24, 2015  


The Villager • Sept. 24, 2015