killer goes from soho house to big house, p. 21
Volume 3, Number 25 FREE
East and West Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown
October 3 - 16, 2013
Green candidate’s seed of an idea: Wall St. ‘fair tax’ By heather duBin With no Green Party candidate in sight for the City Council District 2 race, Miles Budde decided to step up to the plate. A few months ago, a friend of Budde’s told him the Green Party was looking for a candidate to run in the East Side district. Budde agreed to help with the search, and said if they could not find anyone, he would take it a little further and be the candidate — and the offer stuck.
Photo courtesy Bowery Boogie
David McWater giving his resignation speech from Community Board 3 at P.S. 20.
David mcWater leaves C.B. 3; led board on rezoning, SpurA By lincoln anderson An oversize presence on Community Board 3 for more than a decade, David McWater announced his resignation at C.B. 3’s monthly full-board meeting on Tuesday evening, Sept. 24. As first reported in a special online article in The Villager, McWater told the newspaper that Monday afternoon that he would resign the following day. Speaking after the full-board’s public session, McWater gave a brief, 10-minute speech. He thanked former City Councilmember Margarita Lopez, who he said, “really salvaged me when I was a goof-off at 27, 28.” He thanked Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, and former fellow board
member Harvey Epstein for being “unsung heroes” on the East Village / Lower East Side rezoning and also, in Epstein’s case, the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. McWater also thanked C.B. 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer and other fellow board members who were his allies in the initiatives he led, or who had mentored him when he first came on the board. McWater said the decision to leave the board was his own, and that he wasn’t pressured out, that he had the support of the Manhattan borough president. He said his father died earlier this year, adding, “I had decided sometime ago not to reapply for reappointment in April.” “Any of you in this room who may have mistreated me, I forgive you,” he said. “And if there are any of you who feel
mistreated by me, I hope you’ll forgive me, too.” Then he handed over the microphone for the last time and briskly walked up the aisle and out the door, and was gone down the sidewalk. Before his remarks, board members — some probably already having learned the news by reading The Villager article — had come over to McWater to wish him well. On Sept. 23, McWater spoke to The Villager in two telephone interviews, during the latter of which he said he planned to resign from the board. During the second conversation, which was more than an hour long, he reflected on his C.B. 3 career and its high points, as well as his frustrations.
During an interview this week at Ost Cafe in the East Village, the 23-year-old spoke about the Green Party, and what he would do if elected. Budde’s opponent in the November general election is City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, who has represented the district — which includes the East Village, part of the Lower East Side, Union Square, Gramercy, Kips Bay
Continued on page 5
Chin doesn’t want to gamble on new casino bus stops By saM sPokony New permit applications from intercity bus companies continue to flood Chinatown and the Lower East Side after statewide permit legislation took effect in July. Councilmember Margaret Chin is calling on the city’s Department of Transportation to be more stringent in its consideration of new permits, especially for “casino buses” that she said can do more
Continued on page 8 5 15 C A N A L STREET • N YC 10 013 • C OPYRIG HT © 2013 N YC COMMU NITY M ED IA , LLC
damage than good for the community. So-called casino buses transport riders from Manhattan directly to casino resorts in the Northeast, for the primary purpose of gambling, as opposed to typical intercity buses that provide a more affordable way to travel and visit family members around the country.
Continued on page 11
editoRiAl, letteRS PAGE 12
At no loSS FoR WoRdS PAGE 29
October 3 - 16, 2013
openhousenewyork at New York University October 12-13
New York University is proud to participate in the 11th Annual openhousenewyork Weekend. Striving to promote a greater appreciation of the city’s built environment, the University invites members of the general public into spaces around NYU’s campus that hold deep architectural and historical significance. Access is free. Reservations, where required, can be made at OHNY.org, where you can also find a full schedule of other openhousenewyork activities.
Is this what the future holds for the Washington Square Arch?
Jane Marx Tour of Greenwich Village Saturday, October 12 and Sunday, October 13 at 1:00 pm Take a tour of Greenwich Village with celebrated tour guide Jane Marx. Tours meet under the Washington Square Arch. Space is limited and reservations are required. NYU Institute of the Study of the Ancient World 15 East 84th Street (between Madison and 5th Avenue) Saturday, October 12 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm Get an intimate look at a triumph of 19th century architecture. Guided tours are available every hour on the hour from 12:00 to 5:00 pm. Space is limited and reservations are required. Edward Hopper Studio 1 Washington Square North (entry from University Place) Sunday, October 13 10:00 am - 3:00 pm Step back in time in the studio where artist Edward Hopper lived and painted with his wife Josephine from 1913 until his death in 1967. The Historic Landmarks Preservation Center has honored this site with a Cultural Medallion. No reservations required. Learn more at nyu.edu/nyu-in-nyc »
first Citi Bike, next…Citi Arch? According to posters that recently popped up all over the Village, the Washington Square Arch could soon be gaudily festooned with more brand names than a Vegas strip mall. “The City of New York is selling corporate naming rights to Washington Square Arch,” declare the posters, from a group
calling itself Save Our Village.org. However, Parks spokesperson Philip Abramson denied the iconic monument could soon be known as Citi Arch. “No, that must be some kind of joke or prank,” he said. “No truth to it.”
October 3 - 16, 2013
notebook Feeling the chill: Alec Baldwin and his wife, Hilaria, with their baby, were sitting at Liquiteria, at Second Ave. and E. 11th St., last Thursday morning “enjoying” their pricey cold-pressed juices. We use the term loosely for the photophobic Alec because he looks like he’s about to bite lensman Bob Krasner’s head off. Kraz told us he quickly snapped the shot right as Baldwin appeared to notice out of the corner of his eye that he was in the cameraman’s crosshairs, and then quickly went on his way. He was probably wise to pick up on the vibe emanating from the veggie juice joint’s bench. Last June, another contributor to The Villager, Jefferson Siegel, had a run-in with the hot-tempered Emmy winner when he was exiting the city’s Marriage License Bureau. “He said, ‘Stay away from me, or I’ll break your f------ teeth,’ ” Siegel, who was on assignment for the Daily News, was quoted saying at the time. “Then he grabbed my camera lens, and tried to shove my camera to the ground.” Marcos Santos, another News shooter, was nearby and didn’t take kindly to Baldwin’s bullying of Siegel, who is genuinely one of the nicest photogs in town. Santos warned the star to back off when he reached for Siegel, and the “30 Rock” actor responded by rocking him with a punch to the face. Our advice to Baldwin: Keep on drinking those cold-pressed Liquiteria juices — and chill out already! Michelle meets local L.G.B.T. leaders: Village Democratic State Committeewoman Rachel Lavine and her spouse, Roberta Kaplan, who recently won the landmark Edie Windsor DOMA case, recently hosted First Lady Michelle Obama at a roundtable in their home to discuss issues facing the L.G.B.T. community and the country. Comebacks (?) and kickbacks: The night before the public advocate runoff, we bumped into former Councilmember Alan Gerson, who told us he was definitely interested in running for Daniel Squadron’s state Senate seat should he pull off a win against Tish James. But the hopeful “Comeback Kid” expected James, his best friend on the Council when he was a councilmember and whom he endorsed, would win due to her heavy union support, which is exactly what happened. We also asked Gerson his thoughts on the shocking case of William Rapfogel — in which the former head of Met Council was recently arrested and charged with
It takes a Villager Your community news source
Photo by Bob Krasner
embezzling $1 million from the poverty charity over a 20-year period, allegedly storing at least $400,000 of the ill-begotten cash in the bedroom closet of his Grand St. apartment on the Lower East Side and also at a country home in Upstate Monticello. “He was always a mensch,” Gerson stated in support of Rapfogel. Judy Rapfogel, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s chief of staff, is saying she had no clue whatsoever that hundreds of thousands of dollars were stored right in her very own closet. If anyone could be so oblivious to something like that, it could only be someone like Judy Rapfogel, Gerson noted in her defense, saying, “Well, she’s always been so hardworking.” According to the Daily News, “friends insist the couple do not discuss work with each other.” As for Silver, he made the following statement on Aug. 12 as news of the massive kickback scheme came to light: “I am stunned and deeply saddened by this news. While there is still much that
we don’t know, we do know that the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty has given tens of thousands of New Yorkers of all faiths and backgrounds lifesaving help over the past four decades. Met Council also played a critical role helping our communities recover from Superstorm Sandy, and its work should in no way be diminished by these developments.” Paul Schectman, Rapfogel’s attorney, told the News that his client’s wife — and the Assembly speaker, as well — were totally in the dark. “Categorically, Judy and Sheldon Silver had no knowledge of any wrongdoing,” he said. Congrats! Sarah Sanchala, formerly Sarah MalloyGood, has been promoted to the position of deputy chief of staff within the office of Assemblymember Deborah Glick. She will continue to attend meetings of Community Board 2, so you can congratulate her when you see her in person!
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October 3 - 16, 2013
James wins bitter, and costly, runoff for public advocate By Gerard Flynn Signaling what may be the beginning of a left-leaning trend in city government, Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia “Tish” James easily defeated state Senator Daniel Squadron in the Democratic runoff election for public advocate Tuesday night. In a bitterly fought campaign, James took close to 60 percent of the vote. With no Republican opposing her in the November election, she is expected to be the first woman of color to hold citywide office, and will take over the position from mayoral candidate and close friend Bill de Blasio. On Tuesday evening, a tearful James thanked her supporters and promised as public advocate to be a strong voice for the city’s underserved. She also used her acceptance speech to criticize congressional Republicans, as well as the New York Police Department’s policies of “stop-andfrisk” and its controversial surveillance program targeting Muslims. To raucous cheers and applause, she declared to the jubilant crowd, “We don’t need any more Bloombergs!” Squadron — whom James accused of being too close to Bloomberg and real estate interests — in a statement, congratulated James on her win. “She’ll be a great advocate for New Yorkers without a voice, without highpowered lobbyists, without City Hall on speed dial,” he said. The office of public advocate, created in 1993, acts mainly as an ombudsman for citizen complaints or watchdog on wrongdoing. While it can play a role in shaping government policy, the office has very limited powers. In addition to being second in line to the mayor, the public advocate can introduce legislation and has powers of appointment to some city agencies. It can also influence City planning, the budget process and the management of retirement funds. The advocate, however, cannot vote in the City Council. Perhaps more importantly, the position is also seen as a springboard to higher office, which may explain why Senator Squadron spent more than $3 million on his campaign for an office with a budget of $2 million. Of the three former office holders, two, Mark Green and of course de Blasio, have pursued mayoral ambitions while in office. In addition to drawing blank stares from many members of the public when asked to name the current public advocate, the race drew little media attention — until the runoff election. In recent days, the runoff contest’s $13 million price tag drew calls for reform, as The New York Times recently reported. Instead of holding costly, low-turnout runoffs, New York City should switch to instant runoff voting, the Times reported critics as urging. An instant runoff is based on voters being asked to rank the candidates in the
Photo by Tequila Minsky
Letitia James campaigning in Chelsea a couple of weeks ago.
primary election. The Times reported that in some cities, if no candidate surpasses the minimum threshold of 40 percent required to win an election outright, “the last-place finisher is eliminated, and those votes are redistributed according to the preferences on the ballots. The process continues until a candidate crosses the threshold.” While James was heavily backed by organized labor, and opposed the extension of terms limits and the controversial Atlantic Yards development project, Queens state Senator Tony Avella endorsed Squadron in the race. A longtime critic of the often-close ties between real estate developers and city politicians, “progressive” and otherwise, Avella said the progressive brand has been a calculated hallmark of citywide elections this season. He expressed doubts that James’s populist rhetoric reflects little more than a
“good, manufactured image” and does not follow with her voting records in the City Council. Avella said he found Squadron to be “more transparent” and an advocate of good government and affordable housing. “In the City Council, when myself and Charles Barron would oppose some of the city’s projects because of no affordable housing component, she would get up and say it’s no good, then vote the other way,” Avella charged. Despite the leftist tone at Tuesday night’s celebrations, concerns that a leftleaning de Blasio victory on the heels of last night’s news may run the rich out of the city were unfounded, said supporter Alan Schulkin. Calling James’s color and gender a “major influence” in her victory following Christine Quinn’s defeat, he said James and de Blasio are “too smart” to be tagged with the “class
warfare” label. “While having leftist tendencies, they are not extreme left wing and will work to keep this tax base in the city,” Schulkin said. Standing outside the West Side club where James’s runoff party was being held, as supporters celebrated inside, Corey Johnson, who is set to take office as a new addition to the City Council, echoed Schulkin’s views. James’s victory followed by a de Blasio one in November will not, Johnson said, panic the rich and send them running out of the city. A de Blasio win in November, Johnson said, following on the heels of James’s win would be a good result for “ascendant progressive views.” He said that he is excited by her victory and looks forward to a city with candidates advocating for affordable housing and improving the lives of the working class.
October 3 - 16, 2013
Green candidate is calling Exclusive Pre-Sail Sales! with the for ‘fair tax’ for Wall Street Continued from page 1 and Murray Hill — for two terms. An undergraduate at The New School studying digital media part time, Budde (it’s pronounced “like pirate’s booty,” he said) is originally from New Haven, Conn. When he was a teenager, he also lived in Gramercy, and has been a resident there for the past six years. After high school, Budde worked at various jobs in the food industry for a few years, and has always been involved in activism. The Green Party appeals to Budde for its positions on social justice, nonviolence and a clean environment. “We don’t accept corporate donations,” he said, “and we are the only party in a unified stance on gay marriage or L.G.B.T. issues.” Budde feels the party is gaining momentum,
and, according to him, there are currently 150 Green Party politicians in office nationwide. Budde said these are mostly city councilmember-type positions, but he proudly included Mayor Gayle McLaughlin of Richmond, Calif., and Mayor Jason West of New Paltz, N.Y., on the list. “We are gaining some prominence so far,” he said. “Lynn Serpe in Astoria, Queens, is running for City Council, and she stands a shot.” Budde attributes the rise of the Green Party to people’s frustration with “corporate parties,” who do not serve the American public’s everyday interest. He referenced the Occupy Wall Street movement, and stated that many activists in it did not favor the Democratic Party. Budde advocates for third parties as a solution — and multiple parties as a necessity — for a true democracy. “I think people are dissatisfied with President Barak Obama’s administration, and people want to restore the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” Budde said. That amendment protects the people’s right to be safe from unreasonable searches and seizures, and is a hot topic these days in light of recent revelations about sweeping surveillance by the federal National Security Agency. As a city councilmember, Budde would create what he called a “fair tax.” He explained
that Wall Street does not pay sales tax on credit default, student loans or bundled mortgages. Budde claimed if Wall Street paid the same rate as everyone else — 7 percent — it would create significant revenue for New York City. Budde claimed the taxing mechanism already exists, but is not enforced. “After doing that, if we introduce a capital gains tax, we can create $5 trillion in revenue if we applied a pre-applying tax,” Budde stated. He would then hand over $30 billion of this money to New York City Housing Authority to create 1 million new apartments in “green” buildings, which save energy. He speculated this would produce a total of 10 or more residential apartment buildings throughout the five boroughs. Budde would also use some of the $5 trillion to make public transportation free, and estimated that cost at $4 billion a year. In addition to transit, Budde wants the City University of New York to be free, and noted it was until 1976. In terms of specific plans for the Second Council District, Budde said he would seek to “seize Gramercy Park and make it public.” Again, the newly applied Wall Street sales tax would help cover the cost for the city’s Parks Department to incorporate Gramercy Park into its system. Budde also wants to improve the quality of public education. He would do this by limiting classroom size to 15 students, hiring more teachers and creating more teaching colleges. When questioned about future hurricane preparedness for the district, Budde suggested constructing a barricade along the water’s edge. He would also like to create more wind energy. “When the power plant was blown out, that wouldn’t happen with wind energy,” he said, referring to the Con Ed plant at 14th St. and Avenue C. Other aspects of his campaign include making it a Class E felony to fire employees who try to unionize workers, and ending police brutality by changing the curriculum at the city’s Police Academy to focus on the “declaration of human rights” and ethics. While out campaigning, Budde has met many people in the district, and asked them what issues matter to them. A woman with multiple sclerosis told him she has difficulty using subway stations without elevators. Budde is now seeking her help to create a bill that would ensure subway stations are handicap accessible. Although not in office yet, Budde is already working on a few bills, such as the Cancer Elimination Act, which would sample and analyze carcinogens throughout the city in fourmile increments. He is collaborating on the bill with William Edstrom, who was the Green Party candidate for the Bronx’s 80th Assembly District last year and will run for Congress next year. In pursuit of the City Council seat, Budde finds his age an asset when it comes to enlisting the support of fellow New School students, “but a lot of people don’t take me seriously,” he said. “A few years ago I didn’t see myself running for office anytime soon,” Budde said. “I definitely plan on studying politics now.”
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October 3 - 16, 2013
Photo by Lincoln Anderson
Officers let residents of 188 Sixth Ave. back across the police line on Sept. 19 so they could listen to city officials tell them if they could re-enter their homes.
Sixth Ave. buildings evacuated after new project causes shift By Lincoln Anderson Responding to concerns by nervous residents, the Department of Buildings and firefighters evacuated 188 and 190 Sixth Ave. of their residents on the afternoon of Sept. 19. Also evacuated was the ground-level Ciccio restaurant, which had more than 90 reservations for that evening. Residents of No. 188 had complained that construction next door was destabilizing the building. One woman, in particular, the occupant of the rear first-floor apartment abutting the construction site, said she couldn’t get in or out of her apartment on Sept. 16 because the door jam had shifted, and had to call a locksmith to first get her in — and then, later, back out again. There were also new cracks in the plaster on the hallway walls and arches. Workers next door are excavating the site for One Vandam, a new 14-story luxury condo project. (Vandam St. actually ends on the west side of Sixth Ave., but apparently the developers thought the name sounded classy.) Because the foundation for the new building is deeper than that for the old sixstory building, the workers are doing underpinning under the foundation edge of the older building — basically, pouring cement under it to shore it up, so they can build next to it. Apparently, it was the underpinning that caused the old building to shift
perceptibly. While the situation was being checked out for safety by engineers with the project and D.O.B. representatives, some residents were allowed back in just quickly to get their pets. Assemblymember Deborah Glick was on the scene talking to police, officials and residents. There need to be special protocols for construction in historic districts and next to old buildings like this, she said. After about four hours, residents of 190 Sixth Ave. were finally allowed back into their homes, and then an hour after that, the 188 Sixth Ave. residents were allowed to return to their apartments. Timothy Lynch, a D.O.B. forensic specialist, told reporters, “Little bit of movement in there, but nothing of substance.” He explained that old buildings like this are “ductile,” in that they are unreinforced masonry and so get “a little creaky as they age.” The building that is currently under construction got the benefit of added bulk by buying air rights from God’s Love Deliver We Deliver’s site just to the south on Spring St. At the project four days later on Sept. 23, workers said a D.O.B. stop-work order had been lifted that day. But they said the stopwork order was still in effect for a 5-foot-wide strip just south of 188 Sixth Ave.
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Socked a security guard Police arrested Isaiah Almenas, 20, after he allegedly attacked a security guard at the Cable Building, at 611 Broadway, on the afternoon of Sept. 26. A security officer for the building, at Broadway and East Houston St., said Almenas came through the door around 1
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ping bag she was holding. When the bag tore and fell to the ground, the victim said Leclerc then started pulling on her backpack, attempting to rip it away from her. The victim said she was able to fight off Leclerc, and the would-be thief just walked away. The victim called police, and Leclerc was spotted and caught later that day at W. 10th St. and Sixth Ave. Leclerc was charged with attempted grand larceny and jostling.
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A New Jersey man was convicted of assault and drunk-driving charges stemming from a 2012 car crash on the Lower East Side that permanently injured two people, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced on Sept. 25. A State Supreme Court jury found Joseph Darlington, 43, guilty of aggravated vehicular assault and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, along with other felony charges, the D.A. said. According to court documents, Darlington was driving east on Delancey St. during the early morning hours of March 11, 2012, after a night of drinking. He blew through a red light at the intersection of Delancey and Allen Sts., colliding with another car before spinning into the median and hitting the two pedestrians. Darlington is expected to be sentenced on Nov. 15, the D.A. said.
p.m. carrying a messenger bag, presumably to make a delivery, but refused to sign the delivery log. According to police, a verbal dispute ensued, and Almenas punched the guard in the face before fleeing the building — and leaving his bag behind. The guard immediately called police, and officers arrived at the scene to speak with him. Shortly after that, Almenas returned for his bag, but to his chagrin, that second encounter ended with him in cuffs. He was charged with assault and harassment.
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October 3 - 16, 2013
McWater resigns from C.B. 3; Led on rezoning, SPURA and not act like that. “She said I had showed up at the meeting just for that one issue,” McWater said of Romanoski. “All I said is, ‘You have no right to talk to me that way.’ “It’s frustrating,” he said. “The S.L.A. stories always get framed in the context of me being a bar owner.” The LES Dwellers group was the driving force behind the defeat of the 106 Rivington application, and they have also been fighting a liquor license application for Soho House on Ludlow St. in what’s known as “Hell Square” by residential neighbors.
Continued from page 1 McWater said that he initially had considered only stepping down from the board’s State Liquor Authority Committee, but that a few hours later, after thinking it over, he decided to resign from the board completely.
‘Too tired, too frazzled’ “I’m just too tired, too frazzled and don’t have the time that I used to,” he said. “It’s very time-consuming and it’s very emotionally debilitating,” he said of serving on the board. McWater, 47, chaired the East Village / Lower East Side community board for four consecutive one-year terms from June 2004 to June 2008. A bar owner, he currently owns three bars, Doc Holliday’s and The Library, both on Avenue A, and Milano’s, on East Houston St. near Mulberry St. In the past, he owned more bars. McWater said he is most proud of two major initiatives he shepherded through to approval, the 2008 East Village / Lower East Side rezoning — which added height caps for new construction for a 110-block area — and, more recently, the redevelopment plan for the long-dormant Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. Two weeks ago, Mayor Bloomberg held a press conference to announce that developers had been selected for the massive $1.1 billion SPURA project, located at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge. The first telephone conversation began with The Villager asking McWater about a tip the paper had received: that it seems he does not live in New York City anymore, which would bar him from being a community board member. McWater countered that what the paper should be calling him about is the recent selection of a developer for the SPURA project site. He also took a shot at a certain Community Board 2 member, who he accused of having taken a free “threeyear membership” from the Meatpacking District Soho House, who then turned around and opposed Soho House’s Ludlow St. liquor-license application. That’s another story The Villager should do, he countered.
On Soho House opposition
In May 2006, at a City Hall steps rally to celebrate the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s decision to consider designating the old P.S. 64 / Charas / El Bohio, from left, then C.B. 3 Chairperson David McWater, Councilmember Rosie Mendez, local activist / dancer Clara Ruf-Maldonado, Congressmember Nydia Velazquez and Borough President Scott Stringer.
East Side could ever have — and I believe, in my heart, we saved the homes of hundreds and possibly thousands of people, protecting them from being harassed out of their homes by landlords and developers to build buildings. “When I started SPURA, people said, ‘You’ll never be able to do it,’ ” he continued. “All the votes on the Lower East Side zoning and SPURA — despite people wanting to make me a lightning rod — every committee vote, every full board vote, every City Planning vote, every Borough Board vote, City Council — unanimous. “It was miraculous,” he said of SPURA. “We took one of the most fractious communities in Manhattan and we brought a consensus. It was remarkable, it was a lot of work. We got 500 affordable units, 3,400 construction jobs and 1,600 permanent jobs.”
‘Third-largest rezoning EVER’
taught people that we could do it. “I’m proud of my legacy,” he stated. However, at the same time, he said, “I’m tired of fighting over State Liquor Authority issues.” After stepping down as the board’s chairperson in June 2008, McWater has been chairperson of C.B. 3’s Land Use, Zoning, Public and Private Housing Committee, and also a member of the board’s S.L.A. Committee, which weighs in on liquor license applications. Anti-bar resident groups have recently gained momentum following the denial of a liquor license at 106 Rivington St. both by C.B. 3 and the S.L.A. Often, C.B. 3 recommends denial of a liquor license for a nightlife establishment, only to have the S.L.A. approve it. But in the case of 106 Rivington, the authority supported the community board, which opposed the application last October.
Clash caught on video
Touts his triumphs
‘I’ve done more than any community board member in the history of New York City.’ David McWater
“I’ve done more than any community board member in the history of New York City,” McWater declared. “Nobody in the last 20 years did anything like the Lower East Side rezoning and SPURA. The community owes me a debt — nobody’s ever done what we’ve done. Nobody — nobody ever did anything like SPURA and the rezoning. “The proudest moments in my life were the Lower East Side rezoning and SPURA,” he said. “With the Lower East Side rezoning we stopped N.Y.U. in their tracks at Third Ave.; except for a few areas, you can’t go over eight stories. We stopped the dorms, we stopped the hotels. It’s the greatest bulwark against gentrification the Lower
Regarding the East Village / Lower East Side rezoning, he said, “It’s the third-largest rezoning in the history of Manhattan. The only people who did anything bigger were Bloomberg on the Hudson Yards and a big rezoning by Robert Moses. It was a very big deal. “I defy anybody to find two accomplishments by any other community board member like that. Find just one,” McWater declared. “SPURA never would have happened if we didn’t do the Lower East Side rezoning — it
Things recently came to head on Mon., Sept. 16, at the board’s S.L.A. Committee meeting over an application for a new licensed establishment at 120 Orchard St. by a group calling itself Pure 120. Neighborhood opponents said they don’t want another nightclub there. McWater arrived at the meeting late because he had been at an earlier meeting with officials from the city’s Economic Development Corporation regarding SPURA, for which the mayor would announce the developers two days later. When McWater got to the S.L.A. Committee meeting, Sara Romanoski, an Orchard St. resident, who also happens to be the executive director of the East Village Community Coalition, accused him of only attending so he could vote on the 120 Orchard St. application. The much bigger McWater lost his cool and got in the smaller woman’s face in an incident that was captured on several videos and went viral. He was subsequently publicly chided by the committee’s chairperson, Alexandra Militano, that as a board member he has to hold himself to “a higher standard” of behavior
As for Soho House, McWater said, “It’s not on my radar. I couldn’t care less about it.” However, he added, “I think the Dwellers were crazy not to make a deal with Soho House. Soho House owns the building — they will get a hotel license.” In general, he said, all the sturm und drang over liquor licenses, in the end, accomplishes little, since nine times out of 10, the S.L.A. approves the application no matter what. “It’s just song and dance, it’s just theater,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if the community board votes yes or no.” On the other hand, he said, the stipulations for the bars’ operating hours, noise-abatement measures and so forth that the community board adds to its resolutions do matter. Basically, he said, LES Dwellers and E.V.C.C. want “No” votes on all liquor license applications in the areas that they cover. Blasting these two as overly narrowly focused groups, McWater said, “I don’t think one-issue people should be on community boards, and I don’t think one-issue groups should be given credence. Crusaders don’t make the best community board members,” he added. “Crusaders don’t reach consensus. “People want to organize, they want to attack me,” he said. “Yeah, the Dwellers are like a million groups — they want to organize. I just don’t want to go through it again.”
Questions about residency In addition, McWater was being dogged by questions about whether he currently lives in New York City. Community board members can live outside of the district for the board on which they serve if, for example, they have a business or work on an organization within that district. But, according to the City Charter, if a person resides outside of New York City, he or she is prohibited from serving on a New York City community board. According to information obtained by The Villager, it appears that McWater’s legal residence, in fact, may be in Lambertville, N.J. A Lexis search of court filings shows that the State of New York has issued at least 11 warrants for back taxes — a couple for as much as $47,000 and $25,000, others for four-figure amounts — owed by McWater. In each case, the address these warrants were sent to was in Lambertville,
Continued on page 28
October 3 - 16, 2013
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Mayer Vishner, 64, Yippie, antiwar activist, editor OBITUARY By Albert Amateau Mayer Vishner, antiwar activist, editor and cultural critic, died Aug. 22 at the age of 64 in the MacDougal St. apartment where he made his home for more than 30 years. His death, for which he had long planned and called his “Existential Project,” came after he took an overdose of Seconal. It was a project often delayed because Mayer wanted to be as considerate of others in death as he was in life. A week before he died, he had gone with a friend, the filmmaker Justin Schein, to visit a writer friend, Michael Ventura, in Lubbock, Tex., with whom Mayer left his cat. “He could not be dissuaded,” said Paul Krassner, writer and editor of The Realist, a 1960s publication, who spoke with Mayer by phone the morning that he died. “I told him I would miss him, but that was my problem not his. He said, Thank You. The purpose of his life was to end it. Mayer dictated the death notice that I put in The New York Times, ‘Vishner, Mayer. Forced into this life Feb. 13, 1949. Left on purpose [Aug. 22, 2013].’ I had to fill in the last date,” Krassner said. Afflicted with depression for many years, Mayer was in physical pain the last few years, according to Schein, who was Mayer’s partner in the LaGuardia Corner Gardens where, unlike most gardeners, Mayer grew vegetables. Mayer was a Yippie activist and an associate of Abbie Hoffman. He was a friend of the singer Phil Ochs, of Tom Forcade, founder of High Times magazine, and of Ed Saunders, a Yippie co-founder and member of The Fugs. In 1971, Mayer edited “When the Mode of the Music Changes: An Anthology of Rock ’n’ Roll Lyrics.” Long associated with the War Resisters League, Mayer wrote for their magazine, Win.
Mayer edited the L.A. Weekly, a counterculture paper in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s. He returned to New York at the end of the decade, and became an assistant manager of St. Mark’s Bookshop. In an obituary of Mayer by Mary Reinholz in Bedford + Bowery, Bob Contant, co-owner of St. Mark’s Bookshop, was quoted as saying, “Mayer was a character, a New Yorker type that’s hard to describe, you had to experience it. He could have an abrasive personality and people could take him the wrong way.” Aron Kay, the “Yippie Pie Man,” told Reinholz that he was with Mayer at antiwar protests and at the anniversary in 1998 of Abbie Hoffman’s death, as well as the Democratic National Convention in 1996. “He never dropped his values,” Kay told Reinholz. Arrested often with fellow protesters, Mayer told Schein, “You can’t live the life of a moral person without getting in trouble with the police occasionally.”
Mayer Vishner was born in the Bronx. His father was a cutter in the garment industry. A rebel as a teenager, Mayer was a student at Newtown High School in Queens when he wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Times that was published in 1963 equating homework to slavery. He left home early to join the political ferment of the times. “He was like an adolescent rebel all his life,” Schein said. Mayer was heartened by the Occupy Wall Street movement but was disappointed that his skills of “phone tree” organizing were obsolete in the age of Internet social media. As a member of the LaGuardia Corner Gardens, he was deeply concerned about New York University’s expansion plans. In Schein’s 2009 documentary film “No Impact Man,” Mayer appears in a few scenes in the LaGuardia gardens questioning the relevance of fellow Villager Colin Beavan’s experiment to live for a year making a minimal environmental impact, along with his wife and young daughter. “For the past four years, I’ve been making a film about Mayer,” said Schein, who hopes to complete the editing next year. Two brothers, Ira, of Boston, and Mark, of California, survive. Last September, Mayer called The Villager to register a complaint about new birdbaths that had been added to the LaGuardia Corner Gardens. “The people at the LaGuardia Corner Gardens who are determined to support the vermin — the pigeons, the rats, the sparrows and mice — have extended their vermin support to the mosquitoes by putting out four illegal birdbaths,” Vishner said. He added that the garden’s treasurer should be asked if people who contribute money thinking that they’re fighting N.Y.U.’s mega-development project on the South Village superblocks know, in fact, “that it will be used to pay for the health fines” from the West Nile virus that the bird baths would surely cause.
Carmen Vega Greiss, 91, dancer, singer, Jacobs ally OBITUARY By Albert Amateau Carmen Vega Greiss, dancer, singer and community activist, who fought to preserve the Village alongside her late husband, the artist Abe Greiss, and neighbors like Jane Jacobs, died Aug. 14 in her home on Greenwich St. She was 91. She sustained a stroke in April and had been confined to home since then, according to her daughter, Victoria Greiss. “She sang folk and protest songs with the likes of Pete Seeger and was part of the movement that defeated Robert Moses’s plans that would have destroyed the Village,” Victoria said. “A peace activist and marcher in the cause for civil rights, she was a member of the Communist Party,” her daughter added. Carmen Irma Vega was born Aug. 31, 1922, in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, to Ramona and Pelegrin Vega. At the age of five, Carmen came to New York with her aunt and her older brother, Antonio. Her mother had come to the city earlier to prepare the way by working as a seamstress in a garment factory.
“As the story goes, my mother almost fell out of the porthole of the ship they were on. But my aunt caught her by the feet just in time,” Victoria said. “At the time she told me this, I was 12 and I thought that if that happened I could never have been born,” Victoria said. “She met my father around 1954 at the fountain in Washington Square Park. She was playing the recorder and her best friend, Maya, was playing the guitar,” Victoria said. Abe Greiss, a sculptor who had an art gallery on Charles St., was in the park at the time with an old Army friend who was going out with Maya. “My mother was engaged at the time to a Russian dancer and actor, Gregor Taksa, and was supposed to meet him in San Francisco,” Victoria recounted. “She even had a plane ticket. But when my mother met my father, she ditched the fiancé, tore up the ticket and never left New York.” Carmen at the time was a flamenco dancer with Margarita Flores’s company. She had also acted in a play at the Cherry Lane Theatre and was a supernumerary in Metropolitan Opera productions of Carmen, La Bohème and other presentations. Later,
Carmen Vega Greiss and Abe Greiss in 1956, bottom, and in the early 2000s, top.
she sang with the New York Labor Chorus. Carmen and Abe got married in 1956 and lived in their Greenwich St. house that shared a backyard fence with Jane Jacobs. “My sister and brother and I played with the Jacobs boys and went on demonstrations together with our parents,” Victoria recalled. “Around the time my parents met, my father sketched a picture of my mother with her friend Maya, the way she must have looked that day in Washington Square Park. It was the start of many portraits, statues and paintings of my mother. I didn’t realize until later that my mother was actually his muse, the subject of all his nudes,” Victoria said. “I always thought my mother lived a life from a romance novel, a true heroine,” she added. In addition to Victoria, another daughter, Aviva Petersen, of Jersey City, and a son, Jeffrey, of Bucks County, Penn., survive. The memorial for Carmen Vega Greiss was on Aug. 17 at Redden’s Funeral Home, on W. 14th St. The family plans to combine Carmen’s and Abe’s ashes and bury them at Washington’s Crossing Memorial Park in Titusville, N.J.
October 3 - 16, 2013
Chin doesn’t want to gamble on Chinatown casino buses Continued from page 1 Last month, Community Board 3 debated two permit applications for new dedicated casino bus stops in Chinatown — at 30 Pike St. and 9 Chatham Square. As part of the new permit legislation, the Department of Transportation is required, among other things, to receive a recommendation from the local community board before approving or denying a request. The two entities, Asian Express Travel and A&W (which are actually part of the same company), sought to provide service to and from Bethlehem, Penn., whose main attraction is the Sands Casino Resort. Chin wrote to C.B. 3 on Sept. 9 — a copy of the letter was also sent to D.O.T. — advising the board to recommend denying the two applications, citing a lack of transparency in the bus company’s proposal and community engagement, as well as the “oversaturation” of bus stops that Chinatown already faces. C.B. 3 agreed, and recommended that D.O.T. deny the permit applications. But under the law, D.O.T. does not require C.B.’s O.K. in order to approve new permits. As of Sept. 24, D.O.T. did in fact approve the permit application for an Asian Express Travel bus stop at 30 Pike St. A department spokesperson said the application for 9
Chatham Square is still under review. In an interview, Chin said that conflicts regarding the new permitting process have compelled her to schedule an Oct. 9 meeting with D.O.T. representatives, to stress the importance of issues like transparency, community engagement and recognizing the negative impacts that can be caused by crowding too many new bus stops into the neighborhood. “We really need to sit down and review the purpose of that legislation,” Chin said, adding that she tried previously to broach the subject during D.O.T.’s public hearing on the permit system in June. Chin also explained that part of her meeting with D.O.T. will be devoted to pointing out the problems of casino buses essentially masquerading as typical intercity buses. “The casino buses don’t respect the community, they don’t help the community, and that’s why we’ve already gotten complaints about current casino bus stops [outside Confucius Plaza],” said Chin. “It was not the intent of the legislation to allow these types of buses to get permits.” Even Wellington Chen, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership, who often touts the economic benefits of intercity buses, took a strong stand against casino buses.
The Church of the Ascension Fifth Avenue and Tenth Street
Invites the Community to their Special Fall Events for All! October 6th The third annual “Blessing of the Animals” service will be held next Sunday, October 6th in the front garden at approximately 12:30 p.m. Join us as we celebrate all God’s creatures great and small. Bring your dogs, cats and birds for a special blessing by the clergy. Treats and toys will be provided. Service of Meditations and Sacrament Every Sunday at 7 p.m. in the Sanctuary. This special service of chant, interfaith readings and communion is an interesting addition to our spiritual formation and for those who are looking for a time of respite to bring closure and new birth to their week.
Parish House (offices and mailing address): 12 West 11th Street, New York, New York 10011 Telephone: (212) 254-8620, Facsimile: (212) 254-6520 Internet Address: www.ascensionnyc.org
Councilmember Chin is chipping in on the effort to restrict casino buses, saying they masquerade as normal city buses but “they don’t respect the community.”
“Chinatown buses can be a lifeline for the community, but the casino buses take those lifelines away,” said Chen. “All they do is draw people out to gamble away their money, and it destroys families here.” Four additional new bus permit applications will be debated by the C.B. 3 Transportation Committee at its next meet-
ing on Oct. 8. While one of the proposed bus stops is also slated for 30 Pike St., it’s unclear whether any of the applications are for casino buses. A Chin spokesperson pointed out that such uncertainty is part of the ongoing transparency problem the councilmember hopes to tackle when she meets with D.O.T.
October 3 - 16, 2013
Get rid of runoffs
Two qualified candidates for public advocate faced off in a runoff Tuesday, with Councilmember Letitia James defeating state Senator Daniel Squadron. The turnout was extremely low — only 187,000 of the party’s 3 million registered Democrats went to the polls. Meanwhile, the cost of the city’s running the runoff, $13 million, far exceeds the small budget of the Public Advocate’s Office, $2.3 million. All of which raises the question whether runoffs for citywide offices — except for mayor — should be abolished in favor of so-called “instant runoffs.” Currently, if no citywide candidate garners 40 percent of the vote in a primary, there is a runoff between the top two finishers. Basically, the instant runoff is the better option, since it would save the city from having to hold these extremely low-turnout contests, while — importantly — saving millions of dollars. Under this alternative, voters would rank their top choices, in descending order. If no candidate secured 40 percent, the bottom candidates would be knocked out and their votes allotted to the other candidates proportionally. As for mayor, the runoff should remain. The period between primary and runoff gives voters (and the media) a closer look at the remaining candidates. That sort of extra vetting is needed for anyone who would be mayor.
McWater’s legacy Last week, David McWater resigned from Community Board 3. The Villager first reported early on Tues., Sept. 24, that the influential former C.B. 3 chairperson would announce he was stepping down from the East Village / Lower East Side board that night at the full-board meeting. The week before, McWater had been caught on video losing his temper with a much smaller woman, a member of the LES Dwellers anti-bar group, at a C.B. 3 State Liquor Authority Committee meeting. The videos went viral. Yes, McWater lost his cool. And, his critics charge, he could be an intimidating force on the S.L.A. Committee, pushing for applications he supported. That he is a bar owner always rankled quality-of-life activists. Yet, we hear what may have been the final straw, pushing McWater to resign, was our article, first published in last week’s issue of The Villager, which raised questions about whether McWater lives in New Jersey. If he does, then he shouldn’t have been on C.B. 3. And yet, there’s no question he did a great deal of good, most notably, getting the East Village / Lower East Side rezoning passed, and leading a deeply divided community to consensus on redevelopment guidelines for the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. Yes, he’s tough, and yes, he has, shall we say, a bit of an ego. But perhaps that’s what it took to get these very large, contentious plans passed. McWater got his start on the Lower East Side when it was a much tougher neighborhood than it is today. He forged friendships with former Councilmember Margarita Lopez and her successor, Rosie Mendez. Though not a politician, he’s a political animal, and those qualities helped him get the rezoning and SPURA passed. No, he’s not perfect. He’s not the only board member we know who can get a bit too forceful or passionate. His presence on the S.L.A. Committee, in retrospect, was probably always problematic. Again, he’s not the only board member with an agenda or bias. As for whether McWater was truly the “greatest ever,” time will tell. But he’s right to say the community does owe him for his work, especially on the rezoning and SPURA, on both of which he did an amazing job.
letters to the editor McWater will be missed To The Editor: David McWater’s resignation from Community Board 3 is a great loss to the board and to the Lower East Side community. Regardless of his temper, he was definitely one of the hardest working board members we have had in my memory (31 years). In addition, he set an example of how to run bars that are not burdens to the communities where they operate. I agree that he has probably done more than any board member in a long time. We were very lucky to have him. What troubles me as well is that David can be condemned for his temper. Why aren’t board members, all of whom serve for no pay and volunteer their time to make this community a better place to live, allowed to get angry when they are attacked? Whatever he does next, I wish him well. He will be sorely missed. Anne K. Johnson Johnson is a member, Community Board 3
Will Johnson be there for pets? To The Editor: Re “Why Quinn hit the wall” (editorial, Sept. 19): I cannot understand why anyone would wonder why Quinn lost the election. I also wanted a sharp woman as our mayor, but Quinn proved herself a poor politician, consistently disappointing and making enemies. When, at every opportunity, Quinn chose in favor of special interests, why would I vote for her? Our district has a critical shortage of parkland, but with Gansevoort, the only natural peninsula on our waterfront, not only did she allow a recycling center to be put there, she allowed the Spectra pipeline to run there also, next to the children’s play pier. We could have had a grove of trees, a lawn where you didn’t hear traffic and maybe a “get-down” to the water, but instead she put our children at risk, and we will get constant garbage truck traffic. We continue to have injuries in the Leroy St. dog run. Recently, my puppy slipped while at the run when attempting to jump onto a bench and instead smashed her face into it. She bled all the way home. Six years ago the Hudson River Park Trust agreed to allow dog owners to put in a new, less slippery surface at our own expense but has since stonewalled us. We received no help from Quinn, who ignored her (large) dog-owning constituency. In effect, for 12 years we have had no City Council representation at all.
Quinn began as Corey Johnson has, as a tenant advocate, but then betrayed us. Pet owners are hoping that Corey will be more responsive and help us. Lynn Pacifico
Thinking creatively at SPURA To The Editor: Re “Mayor announces developers for $1.1 billion SPURA project” (news article, Sept. 19): I’m thrilled that the Andy Warhol Museum is going up in the ’hood. Also, although I initially opposed this, the new Essex Street Market, which is more than twice as big as the current one, might work nicely. What is important, I think, is less preserving the old — these are parking lots with nothing much to preserve — than imagining creatively in an area that is overloaded to the east with bland residential buildings. For example, I hope this project provides impetus to the Lowline. Joseph Hanania
R.I.P., L.E.S. Jewels To The Editor: Re “L.E.S. Jewels, godfather of crusties, is dead at 43” (news article, Sept. 19): Awahhh, rest in paradise, Jewels. I hope you are finally now at peace. Me and Matthew and my son, Aiden Skye, will miss you! Love. Alysha Marie E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 515 Canal St., Suite 1C, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.
William Rapfogel, as C.E.O. of a poverty program, was a real “pro.”
October 3 - 16, 2013
lack of cash putting a scare into halloween parade tAlkinG point By elissa stein The city has been buzzing with the news that the Village Halloween Parade, a Downtown tradition for 39 years, is not definite for 2013. If the parade producers don’t raise $50,000 by Oct. 21, the annual event won’t take place this year. Sixty thousand participants won’t be showing off their costumes. Two million viewers who pack Downtown streets will have to find alternative festivities. And the city won’t reap the millions of dollars it has in the past. Jeanne Fleming, the parade’s producer for the past 33 years, maintains the October extravaganza takes care of the city’s spirits, that New York City’s largest annual free gathering is a cultural event about creativity and imagination. It was the first major event to take place in the city after 9/11. And after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, organizers hired two New Orleans bands to come up and participate in the parade. From its humble start with revelers winding through Village streets, to the worldwide phenomenon it is now, the parade has become an institution much larger than the neighborhood it takes place in. Last year, 12 hours before start time, the
parade was canceled. In Superstorm Sandy’s aftermath, the Village was still blacked out. Surrounded by such devastation, organizers knew it wasn’t an appropriate time for largescale celebrating. But the cancelation created this year’s financial challenges. Along with disappointment from participants, not hosting the parade will affect the Village as well.
One child of mine is devastated the parade might not happen. The other hates the noise and congestion.
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costume gazing. My own home is split. One child is devastated the parade might not happen — it’s a dream of hers to walk in it when she’s older. The other hates the noise and congestion that prevent us from going outside. This year the parade’s theme is “Revival! Hallelujah Halloween!” embracing how New York City comes back no matter what it’s challenged with. Promoters are hoping that everyone will chip in to keep the event on the calendar. They’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary funds. Should they be successful, Jefferson Market Library’s giant spider will be back.
“It’s a huge day for our local businesses…I think it’s a shame,” said William Kelley, executive director of the Village Alliance business improvement district, when asked about the potential of no parade. Tom Gray, executive director of the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, concurred, saying the event brings people to the
“I of the Beholder” was the theme of the 2011 Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, inspired by French surrealist painter Odilon Redon’s “Eye Balloon” —— hence the eyeball balloons. The 2012 parade was canceled in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
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neighborhood, and that hopefully people will pull together and help make it happen this year. One longtime resident said that while he wasn’t a fan of the parade, not having it would strip the Village of part of its cultural history. Some fondly remember the event’s earlier years, when police barricades weren’t necessary and one could easily move through the neighborhood in spite of the revelry. Some bemoan the music-filled floats passing by late into the evening and sidewalks packed too tight to walk on and streets that can’t be crossed. Meanwhile, others feel it’s a fun annual celebration starting with early trick-or-treaters and ending with late-night
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A marcher in the 2010 Greenwich Village Halloween Parade portrayed Gede, the Haitian Vodou goddess, who is a protector of graves in cemeteries.
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October 3 - 16, 2013
panel tears the lid off the culture of surveillance On Sept. 23, James Bamford, a leading expert on the history of the National Security Agency and its ever-expanding snooping capabilities, joined Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, and independent journalist Paul DeRienzo for a forum on “Ethics, Law and Surveillance Culture” at the Great Hall at Cooper Union. Also speaking were radical attorney Stanley Cohen and Cooper alumnus Paul Garrin, founder of the Internet domainname service Name.Space and WiFi-NY. Recent revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden and our own unwitting collusion with government and corporate surveillance via the use of cellphones and social media sites like Facebook and Instagram were the jumping-off points for the forum, which attempted to answer the question: “If I have nothing to hide, why should I care?”
It takes a Villager! Your Downtown News Source! Photo by Sarah Ferguson
At the surveillance forum, from left, Paul DeRienzo, James Bamford and Donna Lieberman.
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Other panelists included East Village Internet entrepreneur Paul Garrin, left, and radical attorney Stanley Cohen.
October 3 - 16, 2013
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October 3 - 16, 2013
Photos by John Penley
At the L.E.S. Jewels memorial, there was art, music and reading material, including a Bible, last week’s article on him in The Villager and cult writer Charles Bukowski’s novel “Women.”
Friends howl for L.E.S. Jewels at Tompkins memorial By Gerard Flynn Friends and fellow gutter pirates held a memorial Friday evening for Joel Pakela, a.k.a. L.E.S. Jewels, the 43-year-old godfather of gutter punks and hobos who have made the Crusty Row section of Tompkins Square Park their temporary home for more than 25 years. Its benches were the scene for some of Jewels’s craziest antics, and drew a goodsized crowd on the night to remember the much-loved New Jersey native, who died on the morning of Sat., Sept. 14, of unknown causes. Family and friends are awaiting the results of an autopsy from the medical examiner’s office, which is due in early October. Though police said they are not treating his death as suspicious, the investigation is still open. In attendance at the memorial was a person who one crusty pointed out as his “murderer,” whose presence drew gasps and steely-eyed stares from some. In addition to having an outlandish reputation for some of his antics, for harassing bystanders for liquor money when intoxicated or for crapping on cop cars, Jewels was also known as a spoken-word poet of considerable merit. His poems were read, as were dirges to his memory, by his ex-wife, Amy Sanchez. Sanchez, who believes Jewels died as a result of an assault days before his death, said he was the “pirate of the street” who lived to be free. “He was a pirate of the trash and the filth who was on his way out to sea to be a
pirate of the sea but that never happened,” she said. The memorial lasted a couple of hours. Besides the poetry and sad crusties there was the smashed Jerry Saust lying across a bench intoning that it was the despairing world that had driven all the gutter pirates to the bottom of the bottle. Sanchez said Jewels told her that he had been kicked in the head by a crusty and left bloodied several days before he died. At around 6:30 a.m. on the Thursday morning before his death, an ambulance was called to Andrews House on the Bowery, which provides transitional supportive housing for homeless people. Jewels had been renting a room there for more than three years for a small weekly fee. Staff at the former flop house wouldn’t let him go to his room because he was in such bad shape, with blood and bruising, Sanchez said. “They cleaned him up and he left against medical advice. He often waived medical advice,” she said. “He didn’t know he had a concussion.” She said that she saw him with symptoms pointing to concussion. She has reported all of this to the police, she said, adding that the assailant bragged to her face about the attack. She said police found Jewels on Saturday morning. Because Jewels often drank himself into a stupor, several friends who saw him passed out thought nothing of it when they saw him on the street dur-
ing the early hours of Saturday morning. Sanchez is convinced he died because of the assault, which took place in the early hours of Wednesday morning. But she’s
awaiting the medical examiner’s findings, which will be released in early October, she said. He will then be cremated and a ceremony will follow.
October 3 - 16, 2013
Artist recalls her brief marriage with crusty rebel By Gerard Flynn For close to three and a half years, Amy Sanchez, 25, a soft-spoken artist from North Carolina, was married to Joel Pakela, a.k.a. “L.E.S. Jewels.” Jewels was a regular on “Crusty Row” and godfather to the street kids and punk travelers from across the country who frequent that section of Tompkins Square Park and the East Village, an area synonymous with an appetite for alcoholism, heroin addiction and rebellious estrangement from social mores. While the Crusty King had a criminal record, including for assault, Sanchez, 18 when she tied the knot, saw a softer, happier side of Jewels, who died last Saturday morning at age 43 at Beth Israel Medical Center. While the police are not viewing his death as suspicious, the investigation is still open as the police await the results of an autopsy report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. In an interview, Sanchez shared her memories of Jewels. How did you meet Jewels? I met him in Tompkins Square Park. I had broken a broken ankle and had crutches that were too big. He said he had a spare cane in C-Squat so he said, “Come to C-Squat,” and that’s how I met him. My initial impression: He seemed like a nice guy willing to help. He was neighborly. For someone new to the area, he was a stranger in the park who greeted me, asked me my name, told me who he was and he looked a bit scary. But he wasn’t. He was friendly. What happened next? We would hang out all the time. We would hang out with the crusty kids and the neighborhood people. I was an artist and would draw him and the crusties. And you married him when you were 18? It was his idea to get married. I wasn’t opposed to it. There wasn’t much thought put into it. It was more spur of the moment. What was it like being married to L.E.S. Jewels for three and a half years? It was nice. It was hard at times — because he kept drinking and going to jail. I’m not opposed to drinking but his going to jail was too much. I didn’t like to have to take care of him when I had to take care of myself. But there were many times when he would take care of me. So it was balanced out. He showed me I could do the kind of things I never thought I could do. He was very helpful and fun and it was pleasant. But I gave up because he went to jail. I was graduating from college and found someone new. And of course he was upset with that at first, but we got to remain friends and I was lucky. I am happy. He told me he was happy to be my friend. He understood me being
Photo by John Penley
Amy Sanchez, who married L.E.S. Jewels when she was an 18-year-old School of Visual Art student, read some of his poetry at Friday night’s memorial.
with someone else. It hurt him, and he had anger toward this other person, because he told me. What kind of person was Jewels? He evolved wherever life took him — into someone newer and better than before but he was always the same person. People who know him from childhood would say, “Yeah, that’s the same Joel.” He was the same person all his life but he just evolved into different situations. He had many jobs and been with many girls and been to many states, done many different things, including fishing. He went to Rutgers. He liked Rutgers. He didn’t finish. He also went to culinary school. Yet he became a crusty? I didn’t know him when he decided to f--it all. Maybe he gave up or lost his place. I’m sure there’s a reason for it. Maybe the street offered him more freedom. He was free to be a poet. He was a performance artist. He did his own thing. It’s not bad that he was on the street. He did a lot of good. He did have enemies too, and did get drunk and poop on a park bench in public. But over all, he did wonderful things, even when he was on the street. How do you feel about the news? Awful. I feel he didn’t deserve to die. I feel he had a concussion from being beaten or kicked and I feel it was untimely. He didn’t deserve to die that way and it was a horrible way to die. He wasn’t afraid to die, but he shouldn’t have in that manner on a sidewalk on Avenue A and he was probably very lonely when he died. I saw him every day the week of his death and I didn’t think he was going to die. We are waiting for the result of
the autopsy, but he could have died of natural causes. But there are sightings of him being hit and beaten, just too coincidental that it was a natural death. I feel it was unnatural
and all I can do is wait for the medical examiner’s report. Somehow karmic justice will come around for him and for whoever may have harmed him.
80 Proof Tears By L.E.S. Jewels October 10, 2009 at 12:35 p.m. Now you know there ain’t no Santa, Nor is there any elves no one you can trust except for yourself and love it might not even exist at all sometimes your sorry ass just need someone else to care so you have to do as you please not as one says it’s a cross that freedom bares and escape from reality is needed by all Lord knows that’s why we abuse Sex, Drugs, and Alcohol and I’m crying Lord I’m crying 80 proof f----n’ tears and I’m crying Lord I’m crying 80 proof tears Twisted minds scars of mispent youth my childhood robbed from me grew up fast and f-----d up faster no future do I see Bottle of booze and I can’t lose just take me away you can rob my future as was my youth I am social decay yet, I live for that drink toward my escape High, alone and free and I see a grave freshly dug damnation belongs to me
and hell’s fires rise to my demise another ruined fate I’ll have that drink now anyway The Devil can mutha f----n’ wait and I’m crying yes I’m crying 80 proof f----n’ tears and Half my life forgotten and lost in these bottles of booze too young to die fight to win yet I fight to lose the booze decay wasting away and forever echoes insanity on my mind all the time the punk ass suicide I can so easily wake up to be instead I choose to be a man, slowly booze and poison my mind away to many Blackouts, Arrests, and Forgotten Nights and I’m just rock and roll decay and I’m crying Lord I’m crying 80 Proof F----n’ tears More of L.E.S. Jewels’s poems are on his Facebook page (Joel Pakela) under his notes. His former wife, Amy Sanchez, has some that are handwritten that she has yet to type.
October 3 - 16, 2013
Harvest hauls in food lovers for Union Square Park The 18th Annual Harvest in the Square, New York’s premier local food and wine tasting event, took over Union Square’s northern plaza on Sept. 17. Chefs from the hottest Union Square restaurants prepared signature dishes using fresh farm produce right from the Union Square Greenmarket. The food fest is sponsored by the Union Square Partnership
business improvement district and is a fundraiser for the park. Tickets were $125 and $400 for V.I.P. perks. The Partnership raised $347,095 from this year’s Harvest in the Square. More than 1,200 people attended the event. Over the past 18 years, the Partnership’s Harvest has raised $4.45 million for park maintenance and public programming.
Photos by Robert Ripps and Rick Gilbert/Skyhook Entertainment
Above left, Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Union Square Partnership, and Danny Meyer, C.E.O. of Union Square Hospitality Group. Above right, Janette Sadik-Khan, commissioner of the city’s Department of Transportation; Ray Kelly, Police Department commissioner; and Cas Holloway, deputy mayor for operations.
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October 3 - 16, 2013
East Village has transformed, but she’s not moving PEOPLE
let’s do something together at TRINITY WALL STREET
All Are Welcome All events are free, unless noted. 212.602.0800
TRINITY CHURCH Broadway at Wall Street 74 TRINITY PLACE is located in the office building behind Trinity Church
ST. PAUL’S CHAPEL Broadway and Fulton Street CHARLOTTE’S PLACE 107 Greenwich Street btwn Rector & Carlisle Streets The Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, Rector The Rev. Canon Anne Mallonee, Vicar
Photo by Heather Dubin
Nina Choi and her sidekick Star in Tompkins Square Park.
after a quick glance toward the flower garden, Choi noted how nice the landscaping looks in the park.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 3 & 10, 10:30am-12pm Fellowship Gathering: Job Seekers’ Group Join others seeking to improve and effectively market their job skills. 74 Trinity Pl, 3rd Fl, Room 2 SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6, 1-3pm Poetry Writing Workshop A participatory workshop led by J. Chester Johnson, published poet and Trinity parishioner. All writing levels welcome. 74 Trinity Pl, 2nd Fl, Parlor TUESDAY, OCTOBER 8 & 15, 6pm Mark’s Gospel Uncovered Bible Study Dig deeper into this Gospel’s essence through a close examination of Mark’s writing style. 74 Trinity Pl, 3rd Fl, Library TUESDAY, OCTOBER 8 & 15, 7:30pm The Blessing Group Learn how to bless your way through every day and bless others you meet along the way. 74 Trinity Pl, 3rd Fl, Library WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 9 & 16, 5:15pm Trinity Yogis Explore the spiritual realm of body movement and form through the practice and art of yoga. Meets every Wednesday. 74 Trinity Pl, 2nd Fl, Seminar Room
While she initially moved to the East Village for its music and arts, Choi now laments their diminished presence.
“It’s sad, but everything changes,” she said. But Choi, in turn, put an optimistic spin on things, and spoke about change as a catalyst for growth and improvement. Some of her go-to restaurants in the neighborhood — ChikaLicious (for dessert), Caracas Arepa Bar and South Brooklyn Pizza ($4 a slice) — would not be here if it were not for change, in her view. “I’m just always on to the next,” she said. Choi hopes to stay in the East Village, and has not yet decided to abandon ship for Brooklyn, which she thinks is more tailored to artists nowadays. She will, though, if the neighborhood becomes unbearable and no longer feels like home. For now, she’ll stick to visiting the outer borough when a friend drags her there to hear music. “I have crossing-the-water phobia and a phobia about getting home,” she joked. With the recent L subway service cuts, she is not alone in her fear. As for the East Village, Choi loves it. She never has to leave the neighborhood since there are so many restaurants, and all her friends come here to hang out. “It’s still awesome,” she said. “Anyone I know that’s still a diehard here feels the same way — they’d rather be in a shoebox here in the city. I feel like we’re so lucky as artists to be living here in the city still.”
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 3 & 10, 1pm Concerts at One Oct. 3: Jessica Muirhead, soprano, and Julian Wachner, piano, perform works of Britten, Berg, and Dvorák. Oct. 10: Decoda performs works of Britten and Brahms. Trinity Church
MONDAY—FRIDAY, 12:05pm Trinity Church · Holy Eucharist
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6, 10am Discovery: Students and Reconciliation in a World of Chaos The Rev. Stuart Hoke and the Trinity Youth Group. 74 Trinity Pl, 2nd Fl, Parish Hall
SUNDAY, 8am & 10am St. Paul’s Chapel · Holy Eucharist 8pm - Compline by Candlelight SUNDAY, 9am & 11:15am Trinity Church · Preaching, music, and Eucharist · Sunday school and child care available
MONDAY—FRIDAY, 5:15pm All Saints’ Chapel, in Trinity Church Evening Prayer Watch online webcast
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 6 & 13, 9:45-11am Sunday School for Children & Youth Instruction and formation for children ages 6 months through 18 years old. 74 Trinity Pl, 3rd Fl
an Episcopal parish in the city of New York
By Heather Dubin Spotted at her favorite place in the neighborhood, Nina Choi was recently soaking up some mid-September sun on a bench in Tompkins Square Park. The 22-year East Village resident sat across from a flower garden in the park’s southeast corner with her dog, Star, as she waited for a friend. Choi owns her apartment on the park, and has been there for three years. She has previously lived in lots of different apartments throughout the neighborhood. Over the past two decades, the 39-yearold photographer and director of commercials has seen many changes in the neighborhood. Luxury housing, which has been on the rise in the East Village for years, is part of a national trend. “I don’t think it’s bad; I don’t think it’s good,” she said. “The whole city has turned into a white-collar, upper-middleclass to upper-class place, and there’s definitely some arts that are suffering that I would like to see more of.” But Choi also pointed out a few positive aspects that gentrification has accelerated. “The neighborhood has really been cleaned up, and my roommates aren’t getting robbed or stabbed,” she said. And
October 3 - 16, 2013
God’s love gets a facelift as rivers, Kors pitch in By lincoln anderson Joan Rivers emceed and Michael Kors spoke at Wednesday’s groundbreaking event in Soho for the expansion and renovation of the God’s Love We Deliver building, at the corner of Spring St. and Sixth Ave. The comic and the fashion designer are both longtime supporters of the nonprofit, which cooks and delivers meals to people living with severe illnesses in the metropolitan area. The G.L.W.D. project will more than double both the organization’s space — from 18,000 square feet to more than 44,000 square feet — and its capacity to prepare meals — from 1 million to 2 million meals a year. “Today marks the beginning of a project of great significance to not only all of us at God’s Love, but to a growing number of people across the metropolitan area who rely on our services,” said Karen Pearl, president and C.E.O. of God’s Love We Deliver. The God’s Love expansion project was made possible, in part, by a city grant and private gifts, including $5 million from Kors, who was named to the group’s board of directors earlier this year. In recognition of Kors’s contribution to the expansion project, the new facility, designed by Gerner Kronick and Valcarcel, will be named in his honor. The project also benefited from G.L.W.D.’s sale of several million dollars’ worth of air rights to the adjacent One Vandam luxury residential high-rise project. Signifying construction’s start at the God’s Love Sixth Ave. facility, guests of the ceremony used giant knives to cut an equally giant cake with an image of the future building. “I’ve loved and worked for God’s Love We Deliver for many years, and I know how important their nutritious, individually tailored meals are for our neighbors who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves,” said Rivers. “Today’s expansion is the beginning step toward fulfilling a dream for all of us associated with this wonderful charity.” “I am so excited to be here today to break ground on the Michael Kors Building for God’s Love We Deliver,” Kors said. “I’ve been working with God’s Love for over 20 years now, and I’ve always been amazed by the work that they do. With this expansion, I know that we can help feed even more people and continue to reach all of those in need.” The God’s Love expansion, which is expected to be completed in late 2014 or early 2015, comes as demand for the organization’s
Photo by Jessica Frankl
At the groundbreaking for the God’s Love We Deliver headquarters vertical expansion and renovation, from left, Karen Pearl, God’s Love We Deliver president and C.E.O.; Michael Kors, fashion designer and G.L.W.D. board member; Blaine Trump, G.L.W.D. board vice chairperson; comic Joan Rivers, a G.L.W.D. board member; Scott Bruckner, G.L.W.D. board chairperson; and Mike Moran, a member of the G.L.W.D. Chairman’s Council.
services is up by more than 60 percent in five years, according to G.L.W.D. Without a significant increase in space in the immediate future, God’s Love would — for the first time in the organization’s 28 years — be forced to have a waiting list for clients. During the renovation, God’s Love has temporarily relocated to South Williamsburg in Brooklyn, so that the organization’s services can continue uninterrupted. Begun as an H.I.V./AIDS service organization, today God’s Love provides for people living with more than 200 individual diagnoses. Meals are individually tailored for each client by one of the organization’s registered dietitians, and all clients have access to unlimited nutrition counseling. All of the agency’s services are provided free of charge. Soho neighbors are suing over the city’s approval of the airrights transfer from the G.L.W.D. site to the One Vandam project, charging that a deed restriction on the former prohibits it.
Happy & Safe ColumbuS Day!
A rendering of how the G.L.W.D. building will look when the project is completed.
October 3 - 16, 2013
Photo by Jefferson Siegel
Nicholas Brooks being walked into Manhattan Criminal Court earlier this year on May 6. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in the murder of his girlfriend at Soho House almost three years ago.
Soho House to big house The man convicted of murdering his girlfriend in a Meatpacking District membersonly hotel in 2010 has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced on Sept. 23. Nicholas Brooks, 27, was found guilty of second-degree murder by a state supreme court jury on July 11. Shortly after midnight on Dec. 9, 2010, Brooks and his 33-year-old girlfriend, Sylvie Cachay, who was well known as a fashionable swimsuit designer, checked into a room at Soho House, on Ninth Ave. near W. 13th St., according to court documents. Sometime between 12:30 a.m. and 2:15
a.m., Brooks strangled Cachay and forcibly drowned her in the hotel room’s bathtub, the D.A. Said. “In 2010 — the year Nicholas Brooks murdered Ms. Cachay — nearly 1,100 women were killed nationwide by a husband or boyfriend,” said Vance. “Society tends to associate violent crime with tragedies that happen to strangers on the street. But, too often, domestic violence victims become homicide victims in their own homes. We have come a long way in our recognition and understanding of domestic violence, but there is much more we have to do to better protect individuals like Ms. Cachay.”
October 3 - 16, 2013
Playing or fixing them, pianos are key in his life By Bob Krasner Electric pianos? Don’t talk to Ray Santiago about electric pianos. “I hate electric pianos!” he said, emphatically. The 59-year-old has been playing on natural “88’s” since he was 10 years old and nothing has taken him away from his love for the instrument. He was 7 years old when he emigrated from Puerto Rico to the East Village, a time when Avenue A was paved with cobblestones. Music was a big part of his family life. “Every Friday night was party time,” he said. “Put the records on and let’s dance!” By the time he was 13, he had a band that rehearsed and played gigs in a club on E. Ninth St. between Avenues C and D. Although they were in the midst of some rough characters, they managed to stay out of trouble, but were well aware of what was going on around them. “We knew who killed who,” he recalled bluntly. At the age of 16 he was leading a ninepiece band and doing regular gigs at The Bronx Casino, a popular nightspot that is now defunct. How did his parents feel about his becoming a musician? Santiago laughed and said, “Well, they bought me the piano! They came to the shows and danced.” A string of albums on Salsoul Records Photo by Bob Krasner
Ray Santiago with the 1901 Knabe grand piano he is lovingly restoring.
with the groups Saoco and Saoco Originale kept him busy, but he held onto a day job at Bellevue Hospital, finally quitting in 1983. He met his second wife in 1984 and he credits her with his current state of well-being. “I’m alive because of my wife,” he said. Santiago played regular weekend gigs with Papa Colon and Menique and Cheo Rosario (frequently playing with two bands on the same night). Then the singer Henry Fiol, a former member of Saoco, brought him on board for four albums.
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He plans to turn a ground-floor space into a nonprofit, free, music school for local kids. In 1988 the East Village piano man finally recorded as a leader, with Julian Llanos on vocals. Three more records under his own name and gigs followed, but Santiago said he got “fed up with doing regular gigs” around 2008. He began to spend his time restoring pianos in his East Village storefront apartment, where he’s lived for more than 30 years. He finds unwanted pianos in need of repair, or someone will lead him to a good one and
Santiago will bring it back to its former glory and resell it. For him, there’s nothing like playing on a beautiful old instrument. “Even badass piano players that I know, don’t know what it’s like to play on a real piano,” he said. Case in point is his current project, a 1901 Knabe grand. It’s going to be worth a lot of money when Santiago gets done with it, but it’s doubtful that he’ll be letting go of it anytime soon. “To me, it’s priceless,” he said. “The only way I’ll let it go is if I find another one that’s better.” Another project that you can’t really measure in dollars is his current goal — a groundfloor space in need of repair that will house a nonprofit, free, music school for local kids. He’s got the pianos and other instruments waiting and he’s in the process of looking for funding. “I’m doing it to keep the music and the culture going — not for the money,” he explained. In the meantime, he’s still got a regular gig, Wednesday nights at Luca Bar on St. Mark’s Place. “It’s a living and I love doing it,” said Santiago. “I’m still doing the gigs, man. It’s a hustle every day.” To contact Ray Santiago regarding gigs, piano restoration or the school project, e-mail email@example.com or call 646.755.2193.
October 3 - 16, 2013
eastvillagerarts&entertainment A good guitar is a work of art Axe fanatic Lydon, on what strums his strings BY MICHAEL LYDON (michaelydon.com) Guitar players are all a little nuts — I know, I’m one myself. We love our axes, as we call them, and we’re proud of their history that stretches back to the cithara of ancient Greece. We dream of the day when we’ll wow screaming crowds as our guitar heroes have done — Django Reinhardt, Muddy Waters, George Harrison, Eric Clapton and (you fill in the blank). We lug our guitars to gigs, auditions, jam sessions and lessons. We swathe them in softly padded cases, rub them down with soft cloths and make sure the air they breathe is moist — but not too moist! Much as we love our own guitars, we yearn for the dream axe hiding just around the corner. Vintage — that’s the magic word for guitar nuts. Vintage means a guitar that’s at least 40 years old, most likely a Martin or a Gibson — or, if electric, a Fender with a time-softened finish, worn frets, bent tuning pegs and a few cool scratches that give the axe an “aged in the wood” patina as smooth as a smoky old bourbon whiskey. White-coated scientists may say a battered 1937 Gibson L-50 sounds no better than a shiny new Taylor, but guitarists will never take a techie’s word over their own experience. Put a few dents on that Taylor, get drunk and write a few country weepers on it, cross the country with it above your head in a Greyhound luggage rack, then, maybe, it’ll have the sweet-souled sound of an axe that Hank Williams might have played. Downtown guitarists, whether veterans shopping for a vintage treasure, beginners looking for a first instrument or inbetweeners who need a new set of strings, are lucky folk — the East and West Villages are home to a dozen of the best guitar shops anywhere in the Northeast. Give yourself three hours for a Saturday afternoon stroll and you’ll be able to visit them all. Note: these shops stock steelstring folk and electric guitars. You’ll only find a few classical, nylon-string guitars on your stroll. For good classical stores, go to Google. Since Guitar Center is on the north side of 14th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, it’s not a true Village store, but it’s the guitar Home Depot, so a good place to start. Guitar Center has guitars aplenty — new and vintage, electric
Photo by Shira Goldberg
First Flight owner Danny Wollock, with ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons.
and acoustic, cheap and through-the-roof expensive. It’s also got keyboards, drums, amps, PAs, recorders, computer programs — everything an ambitious rocker needs to set out on the yellow brick road to stardom. Guitar Center prices are competitive, and if you sign onto their mailing list, you’ll get discount cards and notices for upcoming sales. The helpful clerks know their business (but watch out for the hard sell lurking beneath the smiles). Head southeast to First Avenue, and when you see a airplane propeller spinning in a second story window between 10th and 11th Streets, you’ve found First Flight Music — a homey neighborhood shop with no Guitar Center glitz. “Guitars are our core item,” says owner Dan Wollock, who opened First Flight 18 years ago. “But we sell anything our customers need — amps and amp repairs, drum sticks, saxophone reeds. We sold a bassoon a few weeks ago!” Attached to the store is a small music school with about 20 students signed up for guitar, piano and voice lessons. First Flight stocks a variety of medium-priced new guitars ($200 to $600). In August three road-scarred Fender Telecasters were on sale in the $4,000-$5,000 range; a lovely old Martin had just sold for $8,000. First Flight is my local shop, and I’m in there every week for strings and picks, a chat with Dan and the friendly clerks and to drool over those Tele’s — sadly too rich for my pocketbook. A few blocks south, among the tiny theaters on East Fourth Street between Second and Third Avenues, you’ll see the guitar-filled windows of “NYC’s Best Little Guitar Store” — Howie Statland’s Rivington Guitars (73 E. Fourth St.). There, you’ll find strings and tuners, plus one or two beginner guitars (the cheapest a steal at $149), but at Rivington, vintage is king. “Vintage guitars are better than new, no question," says Howie. “Made better in the first place, and time enriches a guitar’s tone.” The stock that he finds on trips to Nashville, Memphis and Austin is half acoustic, half electric — and it’s gorgeous: mellow old flat-tops, delicate jazz arch-tops and rock ‘n’ roll Stratocasters raring to go on the road. Rivington also has fine vintage amps, including a sweet Fender Princeton for $1,000 — and even vintage effects pedals, including a Maestro Fuzztone Jimi Hendrix might have wailed
Photo by Michael Lydon
Owner Howie Statland moved his shop to E. Fourth St. (from Rivington) five years ago.
Continued on page 26
October 3 - 16, 2013
“We Are” serves up gore, and food for thought Mickle’s remake a rare horror film for adults FILM WE ARE WHAT WE ARE
Written by Nick Damici & Jim Mickle Directed by Jim Mickle Rated R 1 hour, 40 minutes At Landmark Sunshine Cinema 143 East Houston St. (btw. First & Second Aves.) For screening times, call 212-260-7289
BY SEAN EGAN Jim Mickle’s newest feature, “We Are What We Are,” is a strange and contradictory beast. Though ostensibly a horror movie, one could mistakenly take the film for just another dark family drama — at least its first half. While technically a remake of Mexican director Jorge Michel Grau’s 2010 film of the same name, it differentiates itself enough from its source material to become almost unrecognizable from the original. By taking an outlandish concept which practically begs to be portrayed campily, and treating it with deadly seriousness, the “remake” distinguishes itself as one of the greatest horror movies in recent memory. Working from a skeletal outline of the original’s plot, director Mickle and coscreenwriter Nick Damici transplant the action to the Catskills, during a period of intense storms. The film concerns the Parker family, who are set adrift after their mother suddenly drops dead of a mysterious ailment.
Photo courtesy of the filmmakers & distributor
Julia Garner and Ambyr Childers star as sisters with a dark secret, in “We Are What We Are.”
Despite this loss, family patriarch Frank Parker (Bill Sage) insists his eldest daughter Iris (Ambyr Childers) assume his late wife’s duties, in order for the family proceeds with their traditional observance of the upcoming “Lamb’s Day” — a dark ritual that involves unspeakable acts. While the Parker clan prepares for their grisly festivi-
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ties, a local doctor with a personal motive (Michael Parks) investigates clues brought out by the storm, which bring him closer to discovering the Parker’s secrets. While this story has the makings of a pulpy thriller, Mickle wisely treats the material seriously. The film unfolds slowly and deliberately, allowing room for the characters and their world to be established, without Mickle ever overplaying his hand and revealing too much about the secrets to come. Cinematographer Ryan Samul captures the gorgeously melancholy grays, greens and earth tones of the foggy, rain soaked Catskills in addition to the darkness of the Parker’s home, which hearkens back to olden times. Though there is gore, as well as a couple of effective scares, the emphasis of “We Are What We Are” is placed more on its moody, contemplative atmosphere. Mickle has clearly made a mature horror film for adult audiences, filled with prodding questions on the nature of man and man’s capacity for evil — and his direction makes this distinction clear. Understandably then, Mickle and Damici’s screenplay is not as concerned
with corporeal horror as much as it is with the underlying cause of it — the domestic horrors of misguided religious fervor. This concept is embodied by Sage’s Frank Parker, a formidable presence that dominates the film. Sage plays Frank as an intimidating, mumbling, Bible-quoting patriarch with almost total control of his family, who seem to love him and fear him in equal measure. Unremorseful and even proud of the violent atrocities he’s committed and the trouble he’s put children through in the name of his ancestral faith (a relatively nebulous faith largely drawn from a pioneer-era journal and Christian Fundamentalism), he is a true figure of destruction and evil, and a damning portrait of religion gone awry. The film might get too heavy and unpleasant to bear, were it not for the efforts of the other actors in the cast, who are across-the-board stellar. Childers performance makes Iris’ internal struggle both sympathetic and terrifying in equal measure. Even better is Julia Garner as the younger daughter, Rose — a fragile, pale presence whose existential quandaries
Continued on page 25
October 3 - 16, 2013
Surprisingly savory horror films Continued from page 24 and growing doubts about her faith and father place her squarely as the heart of the film. As Doc Barrow, Michael Parks is genuinely likable, and imbues his character with a quiet sadness and understated cunning. Kelly McGillis and Wyatt Russell round out the cast, as sweet and earnest individuals unfortunate enough to become entwined with the destructive lives of the Parkers. The methodical, controlled buildup of the film gradually ratchets up the stakes, until the film reaches a quiet fever pitch. For the most part, the violence is merely uncomfortable to watch, while the Parker daughters’ interactions with their father are what are what truly disturb and unnerve. Indeed, there is a greater sense of unease and dread at the Parker family dinner table than there is during any scene of violence in the movie — that is, until the final sequence. This carefully executed method is largely what allows that finale to be as incredibly effective a payoff as it is. The climax is absolutely shocking, unexpected and satisfying — one that serves the characters well, gives the audience food for thought and provides gore-hounds with an exquisitely disgusting scene of blood and guts. Balancing a nuanced character drama within the confines of a horror movie is a difficult balancing act — but it’s one “We Are What We Are” pulls off with style and smarts to spare.
MORE MOVIES TO DEVOUR
If you enjoy “We Are What We Are,” or this review has piqued your interest, the following films will satisfy your craving for deliciously disturbing and offbeat horror. “We Are What We Are” (Jorge Michel Grau, 2010) Jorge Michel Grau’s original is a completely different (but complimentary) viewing experience to Mickle’s film. Employing the same essential premise,
Grau forgoes religion and family drama, and instead concocts a clever social allegory set in a sprawling Mexico City — shown here to be a cinematic hellhole. Punctuated with dark humor, grimily stylized cinematography and sly nods to the work of Guillermo del Toro, the original should be required viewing for any foreign horror fan looking for a unique directorial vision. “Red State” (Kevin Smith, 2011) Comedy director Kevin Smith tries his hand at horror. It mines the same ideas of religious zealotry “We Are What We Are” deals with in a more direct manner, to unsettling effect. It also features another wonderful turn from Michael Parks, who shines in the villainous role of a preacher with a distressing sense of conviction — and gets to deliver a chilling extended sermon that’s worth the price of admission alone. While whiplash shifts in tone don’t always serve the film well, the abundance of ideas and game supporting cast (John Goodman, Melissa Leo) keep the whole show afloat and make “Red State” highly enjoyable and well worth watching. “Funny Games” (Michael Haneke, 2007) This might be one of the most fascinatingly nihilistic films ever put to celluloid — and certainly the only to be captured twice. Director Michael Haneke filmed a shot-for-shot English language remake of his home invasion psychological horror-thriller after his original version failed to reach his desired audience a decade earlier (namely, Americans). Chock full of ideas, “Funny Games” is as much a thesis on movie violence and the nature of the horror genre as it is a feature film, and uses gloomy, gray cinematography and long, deliberate takes to create tension and discomfort. Like “We Are What We Are,” it uses scenes of shocking violence in order to make its audience think deeply about what they’re watching.
Photo courtesy of Lion's Gate
Michael Parks stars as a hypnotizing, horrifying pastor — in “Red State.”
“Let Me In” (Matt Reeves, 2010) This Americanized adaptation/remake of a foreign horror film is more faithful to the source material than “We Are What We Are.” Moody, dark and deeply bittersweet, it has just the right ratio of character work and neck-biting gore one would expect from an adolescent coming of age film/vampire movie hybrid. As in “We Are What We Are,” it’s anchored by great performances from young actors (particularly Chloe Grace Moretz), and examines the way that the horror violence presented profoundly effects its characters, their psychology and the realistically drawn world around them. “The Silence of the Lambs” (Jonathan Demme, 1991) The deserved winner of five Oscars, the movie has aged incredibly well — thanks in no small part to Demme’s assured direction and Anthony Hopkins’ iconic portrayal of the dignified, deranged Dr. Hannibal Lecter. What’s more, “Silence” helped to bring mature, adult horror into the mainstream after a decade dominated by campy Krueger and Voorhees-driven slashers.
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October 3 - 16, 2013
Best of the West (and East) Village Guitar Shops
Photos by Michael Lydon
At Carmine Street Guitars, owner Tim Kelly does some repair work.
TR Crandall and Alex Whitman, in the Village’s newest high-end vintage store.
Continued from page 23 on. Buy your axe at Rivington and you’ll be in good company: rock guitarist Joe Walsh recently snapped up a ’57 Stratocaster. How much did he pay? Howie’s not telling. Continue another block south to East Third between Avenues A and B, and you’ll come to TR Crandall, the Village’s newest high-end vintage store. For years Tom Crandall, a quiet guy with a Midwestern drawl, headed the repair department at
Matt Umanov’s Guitars (more on them in a bit). Repairing guitars led to buying and selling them, and he’s now a connoisseur who don’t need no stinkin’ serial numbers to date, almost to the month, any fine American guitar. This past April, Crandall and partner Alex Whitman opened their neat-as-a-pin shop (at 179 E. Third St.) with a few dozen superb acoustic and electric vintage instruments drawn from his own collection hanging warmly framed against the red brick walls. “Yes, we’re vintage only,” said Crandall. “Well, we sell strings but we keep them behind the coun-
ter!” The store’s prices would make anybody gulp — the cheapest guitar currently sells for $1,300 and a pristine Gibson J-50 has an $8,000 tag — but the prices are backed up by Crandall’s expertise and by the repair shop he’s built in the basement. Cross Houston Street (carefully, please!) at Ludlow Street, and halfway down the first block you’ll see the gleaming windows of Ludlow Street Guitars. Step inside and be dazzled by the hundred or more guitars of every shape, color and brand hanging on the high-ceilinged walls. Ludlow Street, you could say, is the Guitar Center stripped
down to its guitar and guitar amp basics. The stock mixes new and vintage, electric and acoustic guitars (with an emphasis on new electrics) and covers a wide price range. TR Crandall is for the rarefied topof-the-guitar market. Ludlow Street has a good guitar at a good price for anybody. Turn your steps back across Houston, and a few blocks into the numbered streets you’ll find two stores close on the map but at far ends of the guitar spectrum. At 76 E. Seventh St., Warwick is a glossy New York showcase for the German maker of Framus Guitars and Warwick basses. At 21 E. Third St., the East Village Music Store is a jumbled holein-the-wall shop crammed with dusty guitars, amps, keyboard, pint-size violins, trombones, even a glockenspiel — “any and everything musical,” says owner Claude Campbell, “except acoustic pianos.” Prices of the two shops also contrast: Warwick’s version of a Gibson-335 costs $6,500, the Stratocaster version $3,775. At East Village Music, you can find a $100 beginner guitar and a funky old Telecaster for $550.
Continued on page 27
October 3 - 16, 2013
For axe fans, guitar shop tour is no grind Continued from page 26 East Village Music suits my wallet and my style better than Warwick — but I’ll admit, the Warwick axes look and sound gorgeous. Now’s the time to hoof crosstown to the West Village. Stop first at peaceful Carmine Street Guitars, just below the Bleecker-Sixth Avenue intersection. Carmine Street is the home of Kelly Guitars, and you’re likely to find Rick Kelly himself either at the front of the shop repairing an old Martin or back in the sawdusty workshop turning century-old beams salvaged from demolished buildings into brand new Kelly solid body guitars. Carmine Street stocks a wide range of vintage acoustic guitars — recently two spick and span Gibson L-48s hung inconspicuously in a dark corner — and an attractive line of beginner and intermediate Blue Ridge guitars, their prices ranging from $250 to $1,000. An added plus: a good collection of classical guitars. “Most stores don’t bother with classical,” says Kelly, “but I’ve always loved that nylon string sound.” Go up to Bleecker, turn left for half a block and you’ll have found your way to Matt Umanov Guitars, the oldest guitar store in the Village — “You mean the oldest in the world!” says owner Umanov — with perhaps the Village’s most complete and widest ranging stock. Beside acoustic, classical and electric guitars, Umanov’s carries basses and banjos, mandolins and harmonicas, books, straps, strings, amps and accessories of all kinds — and you’ll be helped by a helpful sales staff of fine guitarists (including Umanov himself). Umanov’s has new Takamine guitars in the $400 range, Taylors $600 and up, and even Martins well under a thousand. For the star items in the store’s vintage collection, the prices soar: a 1947 flat-top Gibson J-45 for $8,000, a jazzy Gibson-175 for about $6,000. Recently a glistening new Martin held the store’s top price, $10,000, and when Umanov strummed a booming chord for a customer, the rich sound proved the axe was worth every penny. Umanov’s also has a repair shop with a national reputation. Walk up Jones Street (stopping perhaps at Caffé Vivaldi for a restorative latte) and at 169 W. Fourth St., you’ll see the jumbled windows of The Music Inn, the oddest of all the shops we’ve visited. You’ll find guitars at the Inn, including one made in the shop basement whose polished body resembles a horseshoe crab. You’ll also find autoharps, lutes, sitars, ukuleles, cymbals, xylophones, ram’s horn shofars, a stringed rebab from Borneo with a neck made from a thigh bone — “every instrument you never heard of,” said a bearded clerk, “from Adodo bells from Ghana to Zarb goblet drums from Persia.” The Music Inn’s exotic jumble is as good a place as any to halt our caravan. I hope you’ve enjoyed this downtown guitar
hegira as much as I have. You’ll return on your own to those shops that suit your fancy and your budget. Guitar shops worth visiting exist, of course, beyond the East and West Village limits. Chelsea Guitars has moved from the east to the west side of the fabled Chelsea Hotel’s entrance on W. 23rd St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.) — but the funky hangout still has a Warholian cool that dates back to the punk ’70s. Rudy’s Music (at 461 Broom St. in Soho) displays a museum-worthy collection of handmade 1940s and 50s D’Angelico and D’Aquisto archtop jazz guitars in polished glass cases, as well as lovely new guitars by boutique luthiers I’d never heard of: Eastman, Collings and Knaggs. At Guitartech, a neat fourth floor space on the north side of West 14th, Paul Nieto turns out pristine solid body guitars popular among R&B guitarists and, when requested, the occasional jazz archtop. “Sure,” said a clerk at one shop, a wide grin on his face, “we can drive ourselves crazy hunting for the perfect guitar, but I say: a good guitar is just a work of art you can have fun with — big fun!”
Photo by Michael Lydon
Music Inn (169 W. Fourth St.) has guitars, of course — plus “every instrument you’ve never heard of.”
Photo by Michael Lydon
Take it from the owner: Matt Uminov Guitars is oldest guitar shop “in the world!”
October 3 - 16, 2013
McWater resigns from C.B. 3 amid questions on residency Continued from page 8 N.J. Ten of these state tax warrants are dated April 23, 2013, and one is dated earlier, May 24, 2011. The tax liens are filed for entitites identified on the court filings as, among others, “NGE,” probably referring to Nice Guy Eddie’s, a former McWater bar on Avenue A, as well as “Lower East Side Entities LLC” and “Preserve Milanos Inc.” McWater told The Villager that he acquired the historic Milano’s bar around 2006 “when they were going to tear down the place and turn it into a hipster lounge for kids.” He said that, when he was starting out, he learned the ropes of the bar business working at Milano’s, and so felt obligated to preserve it.
B.P. was on the case The borough president appoints and has the power to remove community board members, all of whom are unsalaried volunteers. Asked last week if McWater is a New York City resident, a spokesperson for Borough President Scott Stringer responded, “This matter is currently under review.” McWater said he lives on First Ave. between E. Third and Fourth Sts., and even invited The Villager over to verify that he lives there. “You’re welcome to come over and have a drink with me at my home,” he said. He said he’s lived at four places in the East Village and Lower East Side since 1989, including E. 11th, Stanton and E. 12th Sts., as well as on First Ave. As for the Lambertville address, he said, “I do have an address out there — I have a summer home out there.” He added that he has had a summer home since 1996, though not always in Lambertville.
‘I live in the city’ However, McWater wasn’t comfortable with the line of questioning. He also blasted “the blogs.” “This is the new age of TMZ and all that bulls—,” he said with annoyance. “I live in the city.” Asked point blank by The Villager where he files his taxes, he said, “I’m not answering any more questions about this. I can’t believe you’re stooping this low.” A bit later, he said his taxes are “very complicated.” Asked how often each week he’s at the Lambertville address, he again said, “I’m not answering any more questions about this.” The first phone conversation ended. McWater then e-mailed The Villager back a bit later saying to call him. It was during this second conversation that he said he planned to resign.
Dave McWater circa 2004 coaching his L.E.S. Gauchos baseball team, a free program for local youth.
Built up baseball team In addition to his work with C.B. 3 on SPURA and the E.V. / L.E.S. rezoning, McWater, wearing another hat — a red baseball cap — has always been immensely proud of his work with the L.E.S. Gauchos youth baseball program.
As for what’s next for him, his love of sports will be in the mix again. He said he’ll be “managing some fighters — on the Eastern Seaboard, Philly, Atlantic City.” In the early 1990s he also managed boxers, but that was around when his bars were starting to do well, so he got out of the sport.
Blasts ‘single-issue people’
‘This is the new age of TMZ and all that bulls—. I live in the city.’ David McWater “At our peak we had eight teams on the field, 150 kids coached by two former big leaguers, all free,” he said. “I didn’t just run it, I coached it. I coached eight seasons on the field. We went to three N.A.B.F. World Series. One of our players, Jonathan Gonzalez, played in the minor leagues for two years.” Stomach problems forced McWater to the bench a few years ago and he’s been less active with the team. A brief stint as a movie producer didn’t turn out as successfully.
Though not on the community board, he’ll still be around, he assured. “I’m not going to retire — I’m not that old,” he said. “It’s not like I’m leaving. I’m involved in my community. I’m not like these single-issue people.” But it was the single-issue people who, in the end, helped him reach his decision. “This last controversy is the end,” he said of the flare-up at the Sept. 16 S.L.A. Committee meeting. “I mean, SPURA’s done,” he added. Originally from Oklahoma, McWater attended New York University, where he studied Third World politics. “I wanted to be a revolutionary and save the world,” he recalled.
Inspired by Lopez campaign He has very fond memories of working to help get Margarita Lopez elected to
the City Council in 1997, which he said sparked the birth of his own community activism. Back then, he introduced the candidate around to his many friends — “I knew a lot of people,” he said — to build support for her. “That was a grassroots campaign. We were in people’s kitchens,” he recalled. “The neighborhood was in such flux, the neighborhood could have gone either way. “Margarita awakened the best part of me — the service part,” he said. “This is the thing I was good at.” McWater was subsequently appointed by then-Borough President C. Virginia Fields to a special committee to study New York City nightlife, which ultimately led to his getting appointed to C.B. 3 in 2000. “I’m probably a mediocre businessman. This will probably be the biggest accomplishment of my life — I mean, SPURA was a $1 billion deal. I’ll never equal that in another realm. I don’t even know how I would. I’m not going to coach big league baseball. “I like making things happen,” he said. “I like having a vision. It’s like the Gauchos — we were a national power for a few years there, and definitely a city power.”
October 3 - 16, 2013
Word up! Artists reopen gallery in ‘novel’ fashion By Bob Krasner Artists wore their books on their sleeves when Central Booking gallery, on Ludlow St., held its reopening bash on Thurs., Sept. 12. The Lower East Side gallery, which is dedicated to the idea of the book as art, hosted hundreds of guests, who packed the new 2,700-square-foot space for what Maddy Rosenberg, the gallery’s executive director and curator, called “a thrilling night.” Revelers included Warner Lehrer, the renowned book artist and graphic designer; Florence Neal, founder of Kentler International Drawing Space; and Peter Fend and Coleen Fitzgibbon, formerly of Colab; as well as sculptor Tom Otterness. The evening’s highlight was thREAD, a fashion show of book-themed outfits. Participants, many of whom created their own outfits, included Desiree Alvarez, Marlene Weisman, Beatrice Coron and German visitors Linn Annen and Brandstifter. Central Booking, at 21 Ludlow St., is open Thursday to Sunday, 12 noon to 6 p.m. For more information, call 347-7316559 or visit www.centralbookingnyc.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org . Photos by Bob Krasner
At Central Booking’s reopening, the look was literary, literally.
October 3 - 16, 2013
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PROFESSIONAL OFFICE SPACE SPECTACULAR MEDICAL OFFICE TO SHARE Beautful Architectual Space in the heart of TriBeca. 2 or 3 examination rooms available most days. Call 917-213-7494
PAINTING SABBY PAINTING Interior-Exterior Painting Free Estimate Our price fits your budget. 917-837-0811 Insured,Licensed
Thousands of Successful Immigration Cases Over 35 years Immigration Law Experience
Law Offices of William Pryor
277 Broadway, Suite 1208 New York, NY 10007 212-227-7150
October 3 - 16, 2013
Free Electronics Recycling! Events Are 10am to 4pm • Rain or Shine Oct 5
Stuyvesant Town, East Village
Grand Street, Lower East Side
For additional locations and details, visit tekserve.com/recycling
Recycle with us for a chance to WIN a MacBook Air For questions about recycling, contact:
212.477.4022 • lesecologycenter.org
A Lower East Side Ecology Center program sponsored by
Photo by Milo Hess
flowing with the warm spell It’s still so unseasonably hot outside that the foot-washing feature on the High Line is still ﬂowing.
119 W 23rd St • 212.929.3645 • tekserve.com
October 3 - 16, 2013