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October 8, 2015 • $1.00 Volume 85 • Number 19

In praise of Purple: Sharing colorful memories of the gardens godfather BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

drawing of Purple’s own

L

with its concentric circles of plantings and double yin yang symbol at the center. Purple died at age 84 on Sept. 14 while biking over the Williamsburg Bridge. He may have been returning from shopping for natural

a Plaza Cultural was a sea of purple on Sat., Sept. 26, as more than 150 people gathered for a memorial to legendary gardener Adam Purple. Chalked on the asphalt pavement in the garden’s center was a pinkish-purple

PURPLE PRAISE continued on p. 6

BY CHRISTINA E. L. HARMAN

O

n a cool Monday night, freshly published memoirist Aspen Matis rushed into the West Village’s French Roast and into its back room out of breath but full of energy. She juggled two oversized Barnes & Noble shopping

with $300 worth of books — the plastic possibly tearing at any moment. In her left hand, the 25-year-old author held a half-eaten pint of chocolate-peanut butter ice cream with a plastic spoon sticking out of it. She apologized for runTREK continued on p. 10

PHOTO BY BOB KRASNER

After trekking 2,650 miles, writer finally finds a home, and a book, in the Village

Julie Atlas Muz and Mat Fraser in their Lower East Side apartment, which is in a bit of disarray due to a renovation.

For L.E.S. ‘sideshow couple,’ sky’s the limit for creativity BY BOB KRASNER

M

arried performers Mat Fraser and Julie Atlas Muz have succeeded in upending any notion of a traditional husband and wife and may even manage to beat the couples who work together. From their meeting in 2006 at the Coney Island Freak Show to their wedding, which included 30 “zombie schoolgirl” bridesmaids, they have created their own world

— one where tradition walks hand in hand with outrageousness. Fraser was born with drastically shortened arms as a result of his mother’s thalidomide intake, but he also possessed an ability to turn a disability into an asset. The British performer’s willingness to put himself out there resulted in a gig as “Seal Boy” at the Brooklyn beach sideshow, where his path crossed with Muz, a modern burlesque performer who has no problem showing off

her assets. Although they began to collaborate together in performance, their initial attraction had to be put on a back burner while they “extricated” themselves from their respective spouses. knot, with Fraser clad in full Tartan dress to represent his a sexy Disney princess, surrounded by the previously mentioned zombies. COUPLE continued on p. 3

Participatory budgeting wants you!.................page 4 Squadron: No to housing at garden.................page 11 Cappocia to renovate E.V. squats.......................page 12 Skenazy crazy about Queens.........page 16

www.TheVillager.com


lous, imaginary — and everyone else looking for some Westbeth Flea Market aka the Westbeth Basement Sale. Nov. 6-8 and 14, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Nov. 15,

ket go to projects that beautify Westbeth and the public areas surrounding the historic artists’ housing complex. For more information, contact Gina Shamus, a

legible ones at least, for judicial delegate in the 66th Assembly District have been released by the city’s Board of one write-in vote each for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Mike Blumberg, Brian Lehrer, Ayo Harringon, Ayodelene Harrington, Ayo De Le Harringon, Terri L. Cude, Teri Cube, Paul Newell, Paul Noell, Dennis Gault, Dennis J. Gault, Robert Pinter, Sara Romanoski, Tony Hoffman, Dan Alterman, Alexander Meadows, Marc Wallace, Marc William Wallace, Wei Hi Tjong, Wei Li Tjong and Wei Lit Jong, plus 14 were recorded as "Unattributable Write-In."

ELECTION SNOOZE...UMM...NEWS: Speaking won’t really be much to speak of on the ballot — mainly uncontested candidates for Supreme Court justice. “Next year we will have four elections to make up for this year,” said Tony Hoffmann, former president of the Village Independent Democrats club. “April 19 will be the presidential primary, June will be the federal primary, September the state primary and November the general election.”

GO WESTBETH, YOUNG PICKER: Since this election will be a dud, write-in candidates — real, ridicu-

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“It’s worth the trip down the street!” 2

October 8, 2015

HALLOWEEN LIGHT: A ghoulishly good time for all is the goal at the 42nd Annual Village Halloween Parade along Sixth Ave. between Spring and 16th Sts. on Sat., Oct. 31, from 7 p.m. to midnight. The uplifting theme of this year’s extravaganza is “Shine a Light.” On the event’s Web site, Jeanne Fleming, the parade’s artistic and producing director, in explaining the theme, quotes Dr. Martin Luther King: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.” Says Fleming: “Bring the light! Bring the love! Shine Your Light! Join us! Hallelujah Halloween!” This year’s lineup includes puppets created by Basil Twist’s studio and others, music by the Hungry March Band and the On the Lam Band, plus more

DESNUDAS, FAUXCADE...O.M.G.! Last week’s Scoopy’s item on the Times Square Task Force’s plan to create a “Times Square Commons” incorrectly said that the idea is to transfer the jurisdiction of the plazas from

ing windows?... Yup, that’s it. The fauxcade is there to conceal an emergency subway exhaust-fan plant. How did we get to this point? As the more in-depth online article explains, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, four years ago, told M.T.A. NYC Transit that this particular site never really had a full row house on it, but rather had utilitarian, service-type buildings or perhaps just a partial row house, owing to the cut-through that created Seventh Ave. South, but that even that building was not used residentially. The NYC Transit, rejecting a design for a full fauxcade that would have covered the structure’s exterior to make it look like a phony Federal-style building. So — we got this! Some of the 9/11 tiles that used to hang on the chain-link fence around the site might be slapped into the cement at the structure’s base — that is, presuming they can be located, much less retrieved, at this point. cial tender, Dusty Berke, had removed them for “safekeeping,” to an undisclosed location. As for the request of Community Board 2 that NYC Transit at least try to soften the facility’s raw concrete exterior with some Boston ivy, Ortiz said they can’t do it because it would encroach on a neighboring property, but that they are doing everything else C.B. 2 wants, including planting a tree in the triangular space in front of the fauxcade. Shirley Secunda Committee chairperson, said while NYC Transit is saying now that they are working with the board, just getting them to agree to the tree was a major effort.

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was a rookie working the crowd. Now I’m higher up.”

strips — is being challenged as unconstitutional by civil rights attorneys, and so might well be scrapped. However, City Councilmember Corey Johnson and his fellow task force members disagree that the idea is illegal, and have not given up on it, said Erik Bottcher, Johnson’s chief of staff. “Despite Ron Kuby and Norman Siegel’s claims, time, place and manner restrictions á la Times Square Commons are constitutional and have survived court review,” Bottcher said. … In addition, the caption in last week’s article on the M.T.A.’s “fauxcade” at Mulry Square incorrectly stated that the structure’s gaping window frames would eventually be “prettied up.” As reported in an expanded version of the article on thevillager.com, M.T.A. spokesperson Kevin Ortiz

******

WRITE ON!...? Well, in case you were waiting

GO WEST, YOUNG TOWER: When the Police Department’s SkyWatch tower appeared in Tompkins Square Park in July, it nearly started a riot, and was taken down after just a week. Meanwhile, the “eye in the sky” recently landed in Sheridan Square, yet seemingly without any ado. An anonymous dedicated Twitter account, NYPD Tweet Tower, duly noted the watch post’s West Village presence. But Detective Jimmy Alberici “I didn’t get any complaints. It’s going to be moving around Manhattan,” he said of the erector set-like elevated box. “I think every community is going to get it for two weeks.” As for why the thing was put in Sheridan Square, he said, “That’s our busiest area...but nothPope Francis

the Department of Transportation to the Parks Department. In fact, the plazas would stay under D.O.T. control, but the agency would have more power to regulate activity on the spaces. In addition, the item noted that it’s been reported that a key part of the Commons plan — to segregate the desnudas, Naked Cowboy,

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For L.E.S. ‘sideshow couple,’ sky’s the limit COUPLE continued from p. 1

Fraser describes himself as “a multidisciplinary performing artist and writer, whose work talks about the disabled experience.” Muz, originally from Detroit, is somewhat more succinct, summing herself up in one word — “showgirl.” Fraser objects, reminding her that she is also a “performer, director, choreographer, actor and so much more.” Muz concedes that she is also a “feminist artist” and a “boob clown.” “But I really think,” she adds, “that ‘showgirl’ encapsulates all of it. If you are a showgirl, you know what you have to do.” Together, their restless creativity — each of them spends their downtime writing for various projects — has resulted in two major collaborations. “Beauty and The Beast,” their extremely well-reviewed X-rated version of the classic tale, has been performed by the pair around the world, as far away as Croatia and Australia. Another original stage work, “The describe as “a lewd, crazy, over-thebecome a movie.

Living together in a modest apart-

two cats and making sure that Muz has dinner when she comes home. Their many projects have earned them almost as many accolades. Muz

working side by side has forced the pair to adopt strategies that allow them to be productive and not drive each other crazy. They have adopted the methodology of “Open Space Technology,” which allows them both the freedom and the restraint necessary to get things done. Then there are times when they will set a timer for an hour and not speak to each other during that period, while they take the time to write. During those moments, Fraser is currently using the times to create a screenplay while Muz is adapting a favorite novella into a musical. Finally, whenever necessary, one of them can ring the “a--hole bell,” when one feels that the other is being, you know what.

2006, and the couple were honored as king and queen of this year’s Coney Island Mermaid Parade. Fraser’s star turn as “Paul the Illustrated Seal” in the last season of “American Horror Story” has made him the most recognizable of the pair, and they have found a way to deal with that as well. “I’ll take the picture as soon as possible,” chimes in Muz. “And every time Mat gets recognized, I get a kiss.” Their next collaboration will be this year’s Halloween costumes and it’s Fraser’s turn to choose, since last year Muz Whatever the next big show they produce together will be, you can be sure it will push the boundaries of theater. Muz, who The New York Times said, “isn’t beholden to any of [theater’s] rules —even those observed in the form’s most experimental crannies,” is already thinking about the next project. Fraser, who is “proud of having played in a freak show,” has also cu-

have an a--hole bell.” When one of the two is involved with an extensive project, as Fraser was with “American Horror Story,” the other steps in to provide backup. Now that Muz is in rehearsal for her co-starring role with Joey Arias in the latest Basil Twist extravaganza “Sisters’ Follies,” Fraser is content to be a “house husband,” taking care of the

rated “Cripfest,” a celebration of disabled performers, mixing standup comedy, music and burlesque. Muz was the only nondisabled performer in the show, which recently was staged at BAM Fisher. It ended with the two doing a striptease in a rousrobatic effort by Muz: She did a split while doing a headstand in front of a machine-gun-wielding Fraser, who gave Muz an...ahem...special salute. Fraser is also a black belt and the drummer in a band, The Spazms. In fact, there is no reason to believe that the pair will not accomplish whatever they set their minds to. Fraser sums up the main thing that drives their engine: “I must have my head in the clouds, because I believe that anything is possible.” Tickets are available now for Basil Twist’s “Sisters’ Follies: Between Two Worlds.” For more information, visit: http://www.abronsartscenter.org/ performances/basil-twist-sisters-follies.html . As for Fraser and The Spazms, they’re looking to gig around town sometime before the end of the year. A taste of their music can be sampled at: soundcloud.com/mat-fraser .

PHOTOS BY BOB KRASNER

Julie Atlas Muz, in her overflowing closet in her Lower East Side apartment. Muz is starring this month in Basil Twist’s “Sisters’ Follies: Between Two Worlds,” at the Abrons Arts Center, on Grand St. TheVillager.com

Mat Fraser, who in July curated “Cripfest” at BAM Fisher. His band The Spazms will be playing around town.

October 8, 2015

3


Participatory-budgeting projects sought Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association Editorials, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Best Column, First Place, 2012 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011 Spot News Coverage, First Place, 2010 Coverage of Environment, First Place, 2009

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D

eciding how to best spend $1 million in public funding will be no small task for residents of City Council District 3. budgeting” meetings for the district was held on the evening of Wed., Sept. 30, at the Hudson Park Library, at 66 Leroy St., and was attended by slightly more than a dozen residents from the Village area, each with their own suggestions of projects needing funding in District 3. The West Side district, which stretches from W. 63rd St. to Canal St., is represented by Corey Johnson. Attendees gathered to share and collaborate on ideas in search of the most

PHOTO BY AMY RUSSO

SCOTT STIFFLER

BY AMY RUSSO

Also present were David Moss and residents and their representative. The evening commenced with a

Young people brainstormed about participatory-budgeting ideas for District 3 last week at the Hudson Park Library.

the participatory budgeting process in which members of District 3 will be allowed the opportunity to propose projects deserving of funding. The $1 million falls under the category of discretionary funds, which are divided into two types: expense funds ward people and services while capital funds go toward infrastructure or socalled “bricks and mortar” projects. The costs of suggested projects must fall between $35,000 and no more than $1 million, though partial funding may be given if a project exceeds the million-dollar mark. Following the presentation, attendees split into two groups and listed all possible ideas for funding, selecting their top three choices at the end. Some popular proposals from the -

nology upgrades in the library of the Museum School, at 333 W. 17th St., the development of underutilized space in Hell’s Kitchen and upgrading broken computers in the teen lounge of the Ave. in Chelsea. Participants in the second group, led by Moss, proposed adding safety measures at the dangerous intersecupgrades for the Hudson Park Library, and increased signage and reminders to cyclists to make use of bicycle lanes throughout the Village. For his part, Moss cited energy-saving roofs, better street lighting and hurricane preparedness as particularly viable options to which locals may want to give further consideration. It was noted

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The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for others errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue.

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October 8, 2015

stated at the meeting. “We really just want to hear what your ideas are and what the community needs.” Councilmember Johnson’s district is one of 27 New York City Council districts conducting participatory budgeting for the 2015-16 cycle. The initiative gives residents the unique opportunity to advocate for programs they feel are of importance. It’s the second year Johnson’s district will have participatory budgeting. In the inaugural effort, about 2,500 people voted, with the winning projects ranging from an effort to build a new park at 136 W. 20th St. to bathrooms at the Jefferson Market Library, at Sixth Ave. and W. 10th St. tion of the funds will be held in March and those who are District 3 residents and at least 14 years of age will be eligible to vote. Implementation and monitoring of chosen projects will begin in April, when councilmembers submit the winning ideas to the City Council’s Finance Division. A Web site will be launched soon to collect additional proposals as preliminary discussions continue. Another participatory-budgeting meeting for District 3 will be held in the Village this month on Tues., Oct. 13, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at P.S. 3, 490 Hudson St.

community process will continue with more meetings throughout the winter, as volunteer participatory-budgeting

Published by NYC Community Media, LLC One Metrotech North 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (718) 260-2500 • Fax: (718) 260-2592 On-line: www.thevillager.com E-mail: news@thevillager.com © 2012 NYC Community Media, LLC

damage after Hurricane Sandy, and that protective measures should be taken for the future. “For the purpose of assemblies, any

A flow chart illustrating the participatory-budgeting process.

concrete proposals.” TheVillager.com


At Saturday’s ribbon-cutting for the new Li-Lac Chocolates store, clockwise from front row left, Assemblymember Deborah Glick; Anthony Cirone and Chris Taylor, Li-Lac’s co-owners; Anwar Khoder, Li-Lac’s master chocolatier; Anthony Cirone, the co-owner’s father; and state Senator Brad Hoylman with his daughter, Silvia.

Sweet! Li-Lac opens new flagship store on Bleecker BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

B

leecker St. between Sullivan and Thompson Sts. was chockfull of chocoholics on Saturday for the grand opening of Li-Lac ChocOne would have thought it was the latest iPhone or Nike sneaker launch, judging by the size of the line stretching outside the place. The new location, at 162 Bleecker St., is the second in the Village for Li-Lac, which also has a shop at 40 Manhattan’s oldest chocolate house, Li-Lac dates back to 1923, immigrant, opened his shop at 120 Christopher St. On Saturday, chocolate lovers cause Li-Lac was offering 1923 pric-

There were balloons and Oompa Loompa characters for kids, plus live also complimentary chocolate and wine pairing by Chelsea Wine Vault. In 2005, after rent became too high at the Christopher St. location, Li-Lac — to the sadness of P.S. 3, St. Luke in the Fields Church parish and other neighbors — moved its Village shop to Industry City in Brooklyn. There branch, opened in 1999. State Senator Brad Hoylman was on hand, along with Assemblymember Corey Johnson, to do the ribbon-cutting. “It’s always great to support a local Village business,” Hoylman said, “especially one like Li-Lac Chocolates that’s been around since 1923 and gives back to the community by

counter was available at the 1923 got 1-pound boxes of French assortments at the 1923 price of $3.59. TheVillager.com

like the NYC Anti-Violence Project and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I’m excited to see Li-Lac thriving and expanding to their newest location.”

@GrnVillageNYC

GreenwichVillageNY October 8, 2015

5


Praising Purple: Memories are shared at garden PURPLE PRAISE continued from p. 1

D’Intino then broke into a heartfelt a cappella rendition of “When I’m

to the Time’s Up space in South Williamsburg, where he had lived with the bicycling / environmental group for the last three years. The cause of death was an apparent heart attack. Speakers at La Plaza praised him as a visionary environmental pioneer, while at the same time fondly recalling him as famously quirky hippie who stubbornly stuck to his ideals. At its peak, his lush garden, at For-

Ochs. “Adam was sort of the living embodiment of the principle that lands that are abandoned by the landlords return to the inhabitants of the area,” said journalist Bill Weinberg, who leads tours of the neighborhood’s radical history. “Adam’s garden was going to conother blocks and the neighborhood and through the city,” Weinberg said. “Very visionary — or very eccentric — depending on your point of view.” As they were gathered in the tranquil green space at La Plaza, featuring four towering trees, two of them graceful willows, Weinberg contrasted its

to 15,000 square feet. He and his wife,

friend present at Purple’s “green burial” at a special environmental cemetery in Upstate Ithaca. Kelleher later showed The Villager a photo on his phone of Purple’s body about to be lowered into the ground — he was wrapped in a white shroud and tied with rope to a plywood board. On his chest were a clutch of purple, white upbeat ceremony with the cemetery workers. “There were no prayers,” he said. “We said poems. He was an atheist. … We laughed and giggled.” “He was not practical,” Howard Brandstein, executive director of the dens to live.” battle to save Purple’s garden raised other gardens and the need to defend them. Purple lived in an abandoned tenement on Forsyth St., but he never allowed it to become a community like the neighborhood’s squats. “A few guys tried to live with him,” Brandstein recalled, noting it didn’t work out. “He said they were vegetarians —

6

October 8, 2015

PHOTOS BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

collected in Central Park — and also their own excrement, which Purple called “night soil.” He and his family ate the food grown in the garden and shared it freely with neighbors. But in 1986, in a devastating blow to Purple, the city bulldozed the garden to make way for a low-rise public housing development. Purple was apparently estranged from his family, none of whom were at the memorial. There also did not appear to be any of his former Purple People present — devotees of his who used to wear purple nonleather clothes and were vegetarian, like him. One of the speakers, Quent Kelleher, was an 11-year-old kid on the Upper West Side when he met Purple in Central Park and wound up helping “move

Carmine D’Intino sang Phil Ochs’s “When I’m Gone” in Adam Purple’s honor. In the song’s refrain, the singer actually says he or she better take action “while I’m here,” since, when you’re gone — you can’t change anything.

but they wouldn’t s--- in the garden,” he said to laughter. “He set a high bar.” Listening in the crowd, Frank Morales, a former leader of the squatter movement, knowingly remarked to those within earshot, “He didn’t want anyone else in the building.” Summing up his thoughts of Purple back when he met him in 1978, Brandstein said, “This guy’s incredible, but he’s kind of nuts — but he is a kind of messiah.” Another speaker, Jacques, recalled how he came upon the stricken Purple on the bridge and got the word out. “I was going up the bridge, where I encountered a lot of people trying to resuscitate someone,” he said. “I suddenly realized it was Adam Purple. I was told that about 15 minutes before there were two people giving him CPR trying to save him.” He called his friend Bill Di Paola, executive director of Time’s Up, who spread the news. Jacques said he had been among a group of people who went into Purple’s building back in 1999 right before the city demolished it, which is how he knew about him. Carmine D’Intino, a longtime friend of Purple’s who lived with him at various times, hailed him as an “hombre de la calle — a man of the streets.” “People wouldn’t harm him when he walked down the street,” he said.

Although the city succeed in razing Purple’s garden in the middle of winter in 1986, the next year it was a differand Avenue C, was similarly targeted for housing, Weinberg recalled. “The community organized — and we won,” he said, as the crowd applauded. But Purple wasn’t perfect, noted Marlis Momber, the veteran Lower he opposed abortion, sending a ripple of disapproval through the listeners. He wouldn’t let her take his photo at legendary female gardeners, she added, referring to Carmen Pabon, “The who used to feed the homeless at her garden on Avenue C. In his turn at the microphone, Mosaid, “Adam was the most thoroughgoing revolutionary I ever met — the politics of s---! He was so diverse in son, Whitman, Buddha, Jesus, Marx... so incisive. “I’m still in denial,” he said of the

An image of the Lower East Side’s Garden of Eden was chalked on the ground at La Plaza Cultural.

“It’s good to see the family,” he told the tight-knit activist crowd gathered in the garden. Maria Batas was a School of Visual Arts student when she interviewed Purple years ago for a project and was blown away by the encounter. “He was intellectual, funny, very cryptic and had a lot to say,” she said. “He was a genius.” Chris Flash, publisher of The SHADOW, called Purple an “urban survivalist.” “He showed me how to make soil from manure and sawdust,” he said. “In winter, I was with him once and I was freezing, and he was just wearing PURPLE PRAISE continued on p. 26 TheVillager.com


T:8.75”

IT ONLY TAKES A DAY TO PREPARE FOR THE ENTIRE STORM SEASON.

It’s storm season. To be prepared, update your contact information and get helpful tips on what supplies to stock up on to weather the weather at conEd.com.

TheVillager.com

October 8, 2015

7


City swipes homeless man’s stuff for second time BY JOANNA PURPICH

A

beloved local homeless man is being targeted, residents said, after somebody took his possessions on Sept. 17 for the second time this year. Katsuyuki — a 72-year-old homeless man who has lived on the street

same corner, Jimmy Tarangelo, said that he saw Department of Sanitation workers take Katsuyuki’s things. “The outreach people came with the sanitation cops and they took some of his stuff out,” Tarangelo said. “He had to much stuff on the ground, he kept expanding. He’s got to stay with it.” “They take everything,” Katsuyuki said, “clothes, blankets, everything.” Among the missing items were a recyclables, eating utensils and other personal belongings. Diane, a local resident who request-

PHOTOS BY JOANNA PURPICH

March — said that he left his possessions unattended that morning when he went to collect bottles as part of his daily routine. He returned latsions gone. Another homeless man who lives in

Katsuyuki on Clarkson St. two weeks ago next to his cart and possessions.

name, said she believes that the police target Katsuyuki. She pointed out two other homeless encampments on the same block that remained untouched. “Why pick on a homeless man who does nothing to no one?” she said. Department spokesperson Keith Millis said that the agency does not have a record of sanitation workers being in that area on Sept. 17. A police spokesperson also was unaware of any cleanup targeting homeless

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DR LONNIE SMITH Live at the Metropolitan Room on Tuesday, October 20

people’s possessions at Clarkson and Katsuyuki moved to a desolate stretch of Clarkson St. between March shortly after experiencing a similar incident this past February when his encampment was at the Sts. He now sleeps along the side of a parking garage that takes up most of the block. Katsuyuki, a Japanese man, came to the U.S. in 1976. He has been homeless in the West Village for at least 10 years. In that time, he became a part of the community, residents said. “He’s the nicest man on earth and all the neighbors around here love him,” Diane said. “He has nothing. What is the use of taking his stuff?” When asked why Katsuyuki’s things were taken, Tarangelo speculated that Katsuyuki, who only understanding instructions when the police tell him to clean up. “He goes out in the day and he brings more stuff back,” Tarangeplants, makes it look like a garden. I

guess you can’t have too much.” When this reporter interviewed Katsuyuki, he had jugs of water on the ground next to his single cart, as well as a small pile of newspapers, including both The New York Times and a Japanese paper. However, when the sanitation workers recently descended on his belongings, Katsuyuki had as many as three carts packed with items he collected off the street, according to Diane. “Someone keeps calling the police,” said Andrea, a homeless woman who sleeps on Katsuyuki’s block. “I think they’re probably calling on us, too, but we put everything in our cart and push it away.” The Department of Sanitation investigates and cleans up homeless settlements after police receive complaints from residents. The agency also notivices, a sanitation spokesperson said in an e-mail to The Villager last February, when the paper reported on the “As with many of our street homeless, our outreach teams are working diligently to engage this individual and offer him services,” a D.H.S. spokesperson said in a statement. However, the homeless are disproportionally affected when the city throws out their things, advocates say. Caseworkers lose touch with clients, according to Picture the Homeless, an advocacy group that has recently spoken out against police attempts to disperse the homeless from Park Ave. Katsuyuki said his passport was among the items thrown out in February. But the sanitation spokesperany of his personal belongings then. Since the latest incident, Katsuyuki now takes his cart with him during the day. However, he continues to sleep on Clarkson St. He just wants to be left alone. “No trouble,” he said. “Stay here.”

Includes Meet & Greet and an Autographed CD

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October 8, 2015

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POLICE BLOTTER Now urine trouble! Police said they caught a 32-yearold man urinating on the sidewalk on Sat., Oct. 3, around 2:15 a.m., near the intersection of Minetta Lane from cops at about 2:15 a.m. but police soon caught him. He suffered a small laceration to his head during the arrest but refused to visit a hospital, according to a police report. Sameer Tanakia was charged with resisting arrest, a misdemeanor.

A fight for the ages A 42-year-old woman allegedly punched an 81-year-old man on Fri., Oct. 2, inside an apartment at 16 Charles St. The reported attack followed a verbal dispute that erupted between them at about 11 p.m. The victim told police that they live together, though a police report states otherwise. A Sixth Precinct representative — apparently referring to the age differential — said that the two people have “some kind of strange relationship [with] some things I’m thankful for not seeing.” Police arrested Angelique Doudnikova and charged her with misdemeanor assault.

Right way to arrest Police stopped a woman driver in a red jeep going the wrong way on a one-way street on Thurs., Oct. 1. They pulled the vehicle over in front of 410 W. 13th St. a few minutes before 11 p.m. Officers said the

woman smelled of booze and had a notably flushed face. She blew a .19 blood alcohol content at the scene, according to a police report. The woman then allegedly refused breath and coordination tests at the Seventh Precinct staLaura Ince, 34, was arrested and charged with misdemeanor drunk driving.

Dopey dope dealer There was more than just pot in the possession of a man hanging out on the western side of Washington Square Park on Sat., Oct. 3, according to police. Cops said they observed an apparent drug sale and approached the suspect at about 6:15 p.m. As they came near, he allegedly dropped a small stack he was arrested. He then reportedly shouted his refusal to get into a police vehicle. “I am not getting in the car. You are going to have to kill me,” he cried, according to a police report. The man did not give up even when they got him into the car. He subsequent ride to the Sixth Precinct stationhouse on W. 10th St. During a strip search, he reportedly toilet, but police managed to secure the evidence. Shequan Williams, 26, was charged with felony criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Zach Williams

openhousenewyork at New York University October 17-18

OPEN HOUSE NEW YORK WEEKEND AT NEW YORK UNIVERSITY New York University is proud to participate in the 13th Annual Open House New York (OHNY) Weekend. For two days each October, OHNY Weekend unlocks the doors of New York’s most important buildings, offering an extraordinary opportunity to experience the city and meet the people who design, build, and preserve New York. As a part of OHNY Weekend, NYU invites members of the general public into spaces around the University’s campus that hold deep architectural and historical significance. Space is limited and reservations are required for all events. RSVP and find a full schedule of other OHNY Weekend activities at www.ohny.org JANE MARX TOUR OF GREENWICH VILLAGE Saturday, October 17, and Sunday, October 18 1:00 pm Take a tour of Greenwich Village with celebrated tour guide Jane Marx. Tours meet under the Washington Square Arch at 12:45. EDWARD HOPPER STUDIO 1 Washington Square North (entry from University Place) Sunday, October 18 10:00 am - 3:00 pm Step into the studio where artist Edward Hopper and his wife Josephine lived and painted for more than fifty years.

Space is limited and reservations are required for all events. RSVP online at www.ohny.org

TheVillager.com

October 8, 2015

9


West Coast trek leads to Village literary journey TREK continued from p. 1

her counselor from RAINN: “No one causes rape but rapists.” As a result, Matis is donating 5 per-

ning slightly late, but she couldn’t resist buying each book that caught her attention and did not have time to stop by her apartment on MacDougal St. before heading over to her favorite coffee shop. After settling in, she started passing the books around, from Sean Doyle’s “This Must Be The Place” to A.M. Homes’s “May We Be Forgiven.” “If you’re endlessly curious, your stories are endlessly interesting,”

book to the anti-sex abuse organization and raising an additional $1 million to fund its anonymous hotline. After walking the length of Amered around different locations, like Berkeley Hills, California, with her ex-husband, “Justin” in the novel — who she met on the trail — before lage in August 2011. She wanted to become a writer and realized that

these literary works will help her discover new things. the Woods,” she tells how she embarked on a trek of the 2,650-mile PHOTO BY MISHA SESAR

California, to overcome the trauma of being raped on her second night of college and to break free from her mother’s overprotective embrace that Matis endured growing up. While achieving these ends, she meets new covers her strength and is able to rebuild herself anew. “You are more powerful than you are,” she said.

Aspen Matis, author of “Girl in the Woods,” writing her new novel, “Cal Trask,” in Stumptown Coffee, at 30 W. Eighth St.

“walking hours” where students can come and walk with her for an hour around Washington Square Park. Because Matis lives just around the corner and is, obviously, an avid hiker, Shapiro said that the young writer was always available and wanting to walk. Shapiro hosts book-writing seminars that Matis regularly attended and the New School prof became her guide through her memoir. Shapiro said Matis was an extremely diligent and very serious student and is proud to call Matis her protégée. “I am extremely impressed with

months by navigating the trail alone with no map and inadequate resources. Throughout her journey, all she carried in her pack was a pair of iPod, dried fruits and trail mix and day that she risked her life, and the to drink were limited. Her love of the outdoors stems from growing up backpacking, camping and hiking with her parents and two brothers in Colorado near her grandparents’ house. Matis described her family, when they would set out on their trips, as becoming a harmonious tribe. “I found the security of love amid those gorgeous landscapes,” she said. Looking back on it now, talking about her family almost brings her to tears. Her eyes grew large as she spoke about her mother and father — both Harvard-educated lawyers — two brothers, and their adventures while hiking. Prior to her memoir’s release, she sent copies to her entire family for their approval. Both of her parents were supportive and proud of her accomplishment, she said, though she did not always shed a positive light on them. “My intention is to raise $1 million for RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, not to make my parents look like saints,” she added. Before hiking the entire P.C.T. after

10

October 8, 2015

“Manhattan is a wilderness,” she said. “I built a life here and I never built a life anywhere else.” Matis restarted her college education and enrolled at The New School where she met her current mentor, Susan Shapiro. After taking her 15-week-long course, “Writing for New York City Newspapers and Magazines,” Matis took four other classes taught by Shapiro. She took each chance she had to learn more from the writing guru.

work extremely poetic and I have a strong connection to it.” In the past decade, Shaprio has students to become journalists and authors, but Matis deeply touched

Aspen Matis during her trek along the scenic Pacific Crest Trail.

dropping out of college her freshman year, Matis had spent the two previous summers hiking parts of the trail. She wanted to break free from her dependency on her mother, so she left her hometown of Newton, Massachusetts, for points west. “I was 17, I lied to my parents and essentially ran away,” she said. “I walked 220 miles through the wilderness alone. I totally lost my parents’ trust then.” As a teen hiking solo, Matis for

that “everything my mother told me felt in control and competent. Later, when she dropped out of college and hit the P.C.T. to walk its full length, Matis started to shed the shame of her rape and learn to overcome her weaknesses, but she had help along the way. In a recent article in Interview magazine, she spoke about how deeply affected she was by a message she received from

Woods” to her. “I’ve had 85 students that have published books in the last 10 years,” Shapiro said. “I’ve been thanked in most of them but never have been dedicated. I feel honored.” When Matis isn’t spending her nights lapping Washington Square Park, she regularly visits Village spots Joe, at 141 Waverly Place, The Third Rail Coffee, at 240 Sullivan St., and French Roast, at 78 W. 11th St., as places to write or escape into her reading. Matis refers to French Roast TREK continued on p. 24 TheVillager.com


Squadron opposes housing on the Elizabeth St. Garden BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

A

nother local politician is now urging that an application for federal funding for an affordable housing project proposed for the On Wed., Sept. 30, state Senator Daniel Squadron wrote Joseph Chan, chairperson of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, calling on the agency to deny the $6 million grant. Instead, Squadron — whose district includes the highly popular garden — said the city should work “an appropriate location” for the housing — one that won’t destroy the green oasis — and should “take into account” the local community board’s position on the issue. C.B. 2 is on record — twice now — strongly supporting the permanent preservation of the garden in openspace-starved Little Italy. The city’s Department of Housing and Development, however, hopes to use the L.M.D.C. money to help build from 60 to 100 units of senior affordable housing on the garden, and Prince Sts. The L.M.D.C. funds the project’s cost. “Open space and affordable housing are both urgent needs for communities throughout Lower Manhattan,” Squadron wrote Chan. “The city should work with C.B. 2 and ensure these affordable senior units are built in an appropriate location within C.B. 2. “I believe it is important to take into account the concerns of the local community board. Therefore, I believe L.M.D.C. must seriously consider this resolution and not approve funding applications to develop at Councilmember Margaret Chin — whose district also contains the garden — is the housing project’s main sponsor. She and the Bloomberg administration quietly earmarked the garden site for affordable housing ing C.B. 2 — as an “add-on” to the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area development. Yet the SPURA project is located in C.B. 3, not C.B. 2, and underwent years of painstaking review by C.B. 3 and local stakeholder groups until, after tremendous poly reached. Meanwhile, the plan for end-around, undergoing zero public review before the unique spot was stealthily targeted for development. However, two weeks ago, at an TheVillager.com

L.M.D.C. hearing on the funding application, much to Chin’s chagrin, yet another Downtown politician, Assemblymember Deborah allowing housing there, saying the development should instead be shifted to an alternative city-owned site that C.B. 2 Chairperson Tobi and Clarkson Sts. Square site is larger, so could hold even more units of affordable housing — “and equally important, it would do so without the destruction of existing community open space.” district by a block or two — depending on which side — nestled in a small indentation on the edge of her district. However, she obviously represents constituents who live near the garden and use it. According to Bergman, there is strong support on the board for affordable housing at the Hudson St. building it there, as opposed to at the Little Italy location. While the affordable housing plan under the Bloomberg administration, Mayor de Blasio, so far, has shown no signs of reconsidering it, and H.P.D. — disregarding the will of the community as represented by C.B. 2 — is refusing to negotiate at all with the community board. Bergman has been taken aback by the cold shoulder he’s received from H.P.D. He called on de Blasio to do the right thing and achieve a democratic win-win solution, by preserving the garden while building even more affordable housing on the expansive West Side site. “He may have been elected too late to correct the harm done by Bloomberg at N.Y.U.,” Bergman said of de Blasio, referring to the university’s N.Y.U. 2031 South Village mega-development plan. “But no land-use decision has been made at opportunity to correct the autocratic decision of his predecessor.” According to Chin, L.M.D.C. will make its decision on the funding application sometime this month. Howdent, said, “The process has a lot of steps. It is our hope that funds will be available [for the selected projects] by

Open House | City and Country Wednesday, November 13, from 6-8pm

How a child learns to learn will impact his or her life forever. Progressive Education for Two-Year-Olds – 8th Grade

Open House | City and Country Wednesday, November 13, from 6-8pm

a child learns tolearn learnwill will HowHow a child learns to Please visit www.cityandcountry.org for information and application materials. impact his or her lifeTel:forever. impact his orNew her life 146 West 13th Street, York, NY 10011forever. 212.242.7802 Progressive Education for Two-Year-Olds – 8th Grade

Progressive Education for Two-Year-Olds – 8th Grade

Open House | City and Country School Wednesday, November 18, 6-8pm Wednesday, November 13, from 6-8pm

Open House | City and Country

board may next meet in November. West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011 Tel: 212.242.7802 There will also be a 30-day public Please146 visit www.cityandcountry.org for information comment period for the applications that L.M.D.C. approves for funding, and application materials. he said. 146 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011 Tel: 212.242.7802

www.cityandcountry.org October 8, 2015

11


Former squatters vacate homes for renovations BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

FILE PHOTO BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL

T

he city is quietly moving ahead with a plan to renovate

housing group have been unable to accomplish the feat. Under the plan, the denizens of the have vacated the buildings by this Wed., Oct. 7. An earlier vacate date of Sept. 30 was extended one week. According to the city, the renovations will last two years, after which the former squatters will be allowed to return and buy their units at a low, insider’s price. Meanwhile, a private developer, BFC Partners, led by principal Donald Capoccia, will rehab the two buildings as affordable housing, in return for which BFC will get development rights in the form of an “inclusionary hous— usable to build market-rate housing elsewhere nearby. The city is temporarily offering the former squatters units in Stuyvesant Town, for which they would pay a discounted rent — not to exceed 30 percent of 30 percent of area median income. The developer will cover the

The troubled former squat at 544 E. 13th St., above, will be fixed up by a private developer under the city’s plan.

balance of the rent. But many of the tenants are dispersPhiladelphia and elsewhere, where they have better deals for the next couple of years. In 2002, ending years of fractious squatter evictions, the city sold 11 reto the squatters, under a deal brokered by the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, or UHAB. Under this deal, the squatters were required to bring the tenements up to the city building code, after which they would become affordable co-ops, and the former squatters — now redubbed “homesteaders” —

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could buy their units at a low price. squats steadily moved toward conversion, these two have stalled, and at minent foreclosure. That building has been riven by a feud between two factions, one of them led by Isabel Celeste Dawson, the mother of actress Rosario Dawson, who grew up in the building. The Dawson clan — Isabel, her brothDawson, and son Clay — will reportedly get four units in the renovated building. The lead agency on the project for the two squats is the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. In a statement to The Villager, an H.P.D. Village buildings have languished for many years, the city has come up with a plan working with UHAB to bring them back from the brink and provide affordable homeownership in an increasingly expensive neighborhood. If the two properties had been allowed to foreclose, they could have been sold and converted to market-rate units. So this is a great outcome for the buildings’ tenants, who will not only see their homes manent affordability under the city’s Inclusionary Zoning program.” The buildings are currently owned BFC Partners have jointly applied

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through the Participation Loan Program. BFC Partners has agreed to pay off the liens on both properties. with a mix of private debt and city funds, according to H.P.D. BFC will sell the inclusionary housing bonus to another developer, and use these bomortgage. Although two additional city-owned squats — had earlier been included in this plan, the scheme now only involves the two former squats. These two other buildings are located on the east side of playground near Avenue B.

The current residents will be allowed to buy their units for $2,500 — H.P.D.’s standard insider price for co-op homeownership — provided they meet established criteria, including income restrictions and homeownership training. To preserve the units’ long-term affordability, their resale price will be restricted in perpetuity. As for how the inclusionary housing bonus will work, the H.P.D. spokesperson said, it “depends on where the developer sells, and it is up to the developer to privately negotiate a price per square foot.” She said, however, the bonus must be used within Community Board 3, or within a half-mile of the site in an adjacent community board. As for exactly how much new F.A.R. for development this deal will translate into, the spokesperson explained, “The bonus ratio is determined by the zoning of the receiving site — which is where the bonus is used.” Asked for examples, she did not elaborate. Village’s squatter movement in the St. building. He said their problem struck the former squat set them back, however. “It just took time to get our building accomplished, due mostly to the more costly than the others,” he said. “An important point is that we — the residents of No. 377 — have over the last decade and a half cooperated with all that UHAB, H.P.D., the mayor et al. have asked — who have in recent years threatened foreclosure. So don’t blame us for the time it took. At the end of the day, we are looking to maintain control of our homes, homes we made and managed for ourselves via the blood, sweat, time, tears and cash we invested!” Dragan Vlad said he originally it was a vacant building and its windows and doors sealed shut with cinderblocks. He said the city will hire its own management for the two renovated buildings, which will bring them under better control. The Villager, Juan Scott, a cousin of the Dawsons’ who had been staying at 544 rested and charged with the attempted rape of a Stuy Town woman, plus two Meanwhile, in May 2013, Manuel was arrested there for criminal possession of two semi-automatic guns, plus intent to sell a controlled substance for bags of hallucinogenic mushrooms and 44 tablets of Xanax, as well as $13,000 in cash. TheVillager.com


Sheldon Kravitz, media ad exec BY LORI KRAVITZ

GREENWICH VILLAGE

CHELSEA

CHAMBER OF COMMERCE 6TH ANNUAL

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media advertising businessman who was known as “a real-life ‘Mad Man,’ � died on Sat., Oct. 3. He was 85. Shelly was born in Brooklyn, the son of Dr. Daniel Kravitz and Lillian Kravitz. Shelly, who lived on the Upper years, Lori, and the apple of his eye, 15-year-old son Daniel. Shelly was a truly devoted father. He also leaves behind his only brother, Paul, and his family of friends whom he adored. Shelly’s versatility started with his love of football, which began when he started playing the sport at Poly Prep. He went on to medical school, and also earned a law degree. He was an accomplished trumpet player, starting his own swing band. His love of music expanded to his own home recording studio, where he would create voiceover introductions on tapes and CD’s, so he could share his passion with others. Shelly’s decades as an advertising man were highlighted by his years spent as TWA’s head of advertising. He spoke fondly of his years spent at the airline company. Shelly was best known to his

Shelly Kravitz.

friends by his bigger-than-life personality. He was an engaging conversationalist. In his presence, all felt they were with someone with a generous spirit and enormous heart. Shelly spoke of all the famous people he knew, never realizing just how famous he was. My darling Shelly, in the words of Billie Holiday: “We’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places.

VILLAGE JAZZ ALIVE DR. LONNIE SMITH LIVE AT THE METROPOLITAN ROOM TUESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2015 :

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Acting as a for profit organization. Crematory fee is not included, death certificates and disposition permits not included in service fee.

TheVillager.com

October 8, 2015

13


Historic rent freeze is a win for affordability EDITORIAL

L

ast Thurs., Oct. 1, the new rent adjustments for rent regulation in New York City went into effect. In the historic vote, held at the end of June at The Cooper

no increase for one-year lease renewals and a 2 percent increase for twoyear renewals. The new adjustments apply to all rent-stabilized leases up for renewal between this Oct. 1 and next September. What had never been achieved in Many in the raucous crowd, featuring passionate housing groups from the Bronx and elsewhere, shouted in want? Roll-back!” That would have meant an actual rent reduction for New Yorkers living in the city’s 1 million rent-stabilized units, which is slightly less than half of the city’s total stock of 2.2 million rental apartments. At the news that there would only be a freeze, many started angrily crying out, “Shut It Down!” -

mer chairperson of Community Board the crowd, calming the mood in the auditorium, putting things in perspective: “Let’s realize, this is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. This is about today, this is about the future. We’ll be back next year, to keep doing better and better.” In other words, the guidelines board, as currently composed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, will have at least two more go-rounds in the mayor’s current term — and then in a possible second de Blasio term — to either keep instituting a rent freeze or even call for a rent rollback. exaggerated landlords’ projected operating expenses, using these faulty numbers to justify rent hikes for hard-working New Yorkers trying to living simply keeps going up and salaries are not keeping pace. But the landlords’ price index that creases this year was its lowest since 2002. Meanwhile, landlords have seen of 34 percent since 1990. Yet, even if there is not a rollback next year, two more years of rent freezes would go a long way toward helping

tenants get by. As it is, 35 percent to 40 percent of city residents are currently paying half their income toward rent, “rent burdened.” Three-quarters of a million New Yorkers are living below the poverty line. One setback and these people are simply left reeling. It’s an untenable situation. Mayor de Blasio has explained this situation very clearly, as seen in his State of the City speech earlier this year. Indeed, freezing rents was a huge step in addressing the city’s “afDe Blasio has taken his share of police crisis to the homeless crisis — the latter which is probably going to wane now that it's cooler. But the rent freeze was a dramatic display of de Blasio’s power to shape the city. What always seemed impossible is now a reality. He couldn’t quite hadn’t yet gotten full control of all the driver’s seat in year two, he made good on his pledge to hold the line on rents. vote, we were particularly inspired by our local freshman Councilmember Corey Johnson, who showed real leadership — and faith in de Blasio’s wherewithal — in championing early

on the push for a rent freeze and preferably a rollback. It was good to see Johnson among the crowd at Cooper Union giving cast their votes and shouting, “Si, se Jumaane Williams, a leader in the Council, was also there, lending his voice to the call for a “Roll-back!” Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh was in the house, too. Landlords and real estate organizations obviously are apoplectic over the rent freeze. “This is myopic,” complained a landlord representative on the board. However, property owners will still last, the unfair rent gouging is being stemmed. person, so aptly put it: “Tenants are struggling, while landlords are doing O.K. Our charge is not to widen the gap, but to make the system equitable.” Bravo! raise the cap for vacancy decontrol. He boosted the amount only around a couple hundred dollars. That is a problem because it means more affordable units will be lost. Still, it doesn’t diminish the historic rent freeze.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Gardens as green lungs To The Editor: We might want affordable housing. We might want an urban garden. But what we need, and will die without, is oxygen. York City parks and gardens — provides

EVAN FORSCH

beauty and respite. But more importantly, the mature-growth trees and plants provide life-sustaining oxygen to breathe, act like a sponge to soak up toxins in the air, and mitigate climate change. Protecting and preserving New York City’s green lungs is necessary for public health, environmental health and quality of life.

Gardener: Put housing first To The Editor: A publicly accessible garden — not the private began only after it was known that this was slated for affordable housing. There are poor people all over this neighborhood — often invisible to those who feel more that forced many out. Then there is the issue of whose “speech” gets heard to write an op-ed on their behalf? Who has the wherewithal and agency to lobby for what they want? I’m a gardener. I garden in three gardens in Sara D. Roosevelt Park. These gardens and the historic of us who live in the Little Italy district joined these gardens. Though all references the night of the L.M.D.C. hearing were to Soho and Noho, just as close by. The fallacy of the comment worrying about expenses for seniors at 21 Spring St. — anyone trying to save money shops in Chinatown! K Webster LETTERS continued on p. 16

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October 8, 2015

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Adam Purple and me; Fond radical remembrances NOTEBOOK BY BILL WEINBERG

A

dam Purple, my late estranged eccentric uncle. Did you know that I invoke your name and works every week? For the past three years that I’ve been doing walking tours on the radical history of Alphabet City for the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space

PHOTO COPYRIGHT HARVEY WANG

tourists and students and travelers about the successful struggle to save it from the bulldozers in the late ’80s. Then I sit them down in the garden’s gazebo and tell them that the struggle for La Plaza was immediately preceded by one for another impressive garden, south of Alphabet City, in the that one. The rap goes something like this... Back in the ’80s, the city government was using a divide-and-conquer strategy to break up the community gardening movement. They foresaw that but all this land that had fallen outside of bureaucratic control — abandoned by the city and taken under control was a form of counterinsurgency. But back then, you couldn’t just take over a community garden to build a luxury development still a “bad neighborhood” and the yuppies didn’t want to come here yet. And there was still enough working-class power in the neighborhood — a local political machine linked to the left wing of the Democratic Party — that they couldn’t get away with it. Later, in the ’90s, it became possible to bulldoze a garden for “market-rate” housing. But back in those early days it wasn’t. So the city used a divide-and-conquer strategy... They’d say they needed the “empty lot” project. This was an attempt to play the housing advocates off against the gardeners. There was a lot of overlap between the two groups — some housing advocates were also gardeners — but this was a means of driving a wedge between them. And there was one locally famous case where it dridge St. Adam Purple was an old hippie who was the last guy living in one of the last tenements left standing on the block. He’d been there since the early ’70s. The landlord had abandoned the building, all the other tenants had moved out, and he was squatting all alone, with no heat or electricity. Most of the rest of the block was a big vacant lot. And he started turning that expanse of blighted waste into a garden. In the middle was a perfect Tao symbol made of out from the Tao symbol were concentric rings — one growing corn, another growing vegetables, another with fruit trees — until it covered the en— to other vacant lots around the neighborhood, and then throughout the city, breaking down the TheVillager.com

Adam Purple at the top of his fire escape on Forsyth St., overlooking his Garden of Eden.

grid pattern and replacing it with a circular one Adam looked the part. He had a long white beard es. He had a bicycle that he rigged with a wheelbarrow in the back, and he’d bike up to Central Park, tilize his garden. And that blitzed site, thusly nurtured, put out. He was growing food that he lived on and shared with his neighbors.

Adam called the destruction of the garden a ‘political hit,’ with complicity going all the way up to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Then, in 1985, the city announced plans for a housing project on that site. The community was divided. Some people rallied around Adam’s garden; some rallied around the housing project. There was litigation. And in the end, the city bulldozers came in and destroyed it — in the dead of winter, in Januwas hard to mobilize people to the streets.

The following year, the city tried to do the same thing at La Plaza Cultural. That time, the community organized, fought back, and won. La Plaza of garden destruction in the late ’90s and early ’00s. I got to know Adam in ’85 when I was a young activist, amid the struggle to save his garden. His took acid in the garden one night. Adam called his creation an eARThWORK — since it was both an earthwork and an artwork. In addition to horse manure, Adam used his own s--for fertilizer — “night soil.” He maintained that his strict vegetarian diet made his own excrement no more foul or hazardous than horse droppings. In one of his many alter-egos, Adam called himUranus. This was another pun. For Adam, we had to start thinking about how to integrate into the environment the stuff that comes out of your anus, and stop dumping it in the sea. “You don’t piss in your bathtub, do you?” he posed rhetorically. Adam called the destruction of the garden a “political hit,” with complicity going all the way up to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. And while I’m not sure about conscious federal designs, I think he was right. The tip-off is that there were plenty of vacant lots really in the immediate area. The bureaucracy clearly chose that one in order to wipe out Adam’s anarchistic experiment. But there was also a depressing racial undertone Adam’s supporters were from the white hippie, punker and squatter element in the neighborhood. project were the older Puerto Rican and Dominican PURPLE continued on p. 24 October 8, 2015

15


Churches to chickens, Jackson Hts. film has it all RHYMES WITH CRAZY

cal place that, for many of us, has been off-limits. Then he shows us the faces of the men there — some intense and mournful, but some just plain sleepy — and slowly this “other world” starts to feel familiar. Maybe you’ve never been in a mosque. But you’ve probably been in a religious service at some point in your life, and you have proba-

BY LENORE SKENAZY

Q

ueens! As if it wasn’t enough that Lonely Planet recommended it as the No. 1 tourist destination in all of America this year, along comes the world’s leading docWiseman debuted his movie at the New York Film Festival Sunday night, and stayed to answer questions, beginning with, “Why Jackson Heights?” His answer: “Because it’s the most diverse place in the world.” It also happens to be where I live. So perhaps you’re wondering what it is like to see so much of your own neighborhood on the big screen — its people, food stands, puppy groomers, Hindu temples, jazz musicians, taxi driver teachers, 98-year-old jokers and, in the one scene that will make rest of the century, its live chickens as

they go in a matter of minutes from cage to knife to de-feathering vat to being sawed into chicken parts? Frankly, it is appalling, And at othhilarating. Sometimes it is hilarious, sometimes it is embarrassing and sometimes — too many times — it is boring in the way that real life can also be arm-gnawingly dull. is known for making the proverbial ries: no narration, no explanations, no captions except for translations. The scenes speak for themselves. So when he drops into a cramped mosque where the imam is chanting Ramadan prayers, all we know is that this is a lo-

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Likewise, when he wanders into an eyebrow-threading salon and watches a worker plucking out facial hairs with the speed of an AK-47, there is something familiar about her, too. She is as focused as a surgeon. The exotic, once again, becomes a little less so. That, to me, was what was so embarrassing about the movie. As a gal who lives here and likes to feel I really know my neighborhood, the shameful truth is that I’ve poked my head into only a tiny fraction of the places Wiseman sallied into. He takes us into belly dancing classes and transgender support groups. locaust memorial. A conference call in Councilman Daniel Dromm’s ofclose — to the tough toenails being clipped at a mani-pedi salon. I don’t think I’ve ever looked that closely at my own toenails, much less a stranger’s. There is nothing that Wiseman isn’t curious about. The church just two blocks from where I live — the fantastically beaupacity for services in Spanish, with a priest who is simply enthralling. But I don’t speak Spanish and I’m

LETTERS continued from p. 14

What would Purple say?

I recall walking through this garden in the 1970s when I lived at 131

TACHS # 202

Accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges & Schools

TACHS # 202 16

October 8, 2015

complete with, once again, a sleepy parishioner. Like a great painter, Wiseman highlights the humanity in all his subjects — including, sometimes, the human capacity to drive people crazy by talking too much. This is what will keep some viewcounterpoints his fascinating chunks of daily life with stupefying meetings. A community meeting about commercial rents. A community meeting about age and sex and gender, transgender, economic, gay, ethnic discrimination. A community meeting where participants discuss, at length, where to hold the next community meeting. Then another and another and another. Most of these seem to feature one speaker who gets up, takes the microphone, and then manages to ignore all the other people in the room as they being barely able to remain polite as the minutes tick by. To be able to sit through those meetings is perhaps the biggest testament to Wiseman’s heart. They’re part of the fabric of Jackson Heights life, and he wasn’t going to miss them. Though, frankly, I’d rather watch a toenail trimming. Skenazy is a keynote speaker and author and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids”

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR To The Editor: Re “Adam Purple, gardens godfather, 84, dies biking on Williamsburg

50 East 56th Street, New York, NY 10022 Accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges & Schools (212) 688-1545 ~ www.cathedralhs.org

not Catholic, so I’d never wandered in. Wiseman is not a Catholic and he doesn’t speak Spanish, either. But he

beautiful spot and a respite from the concrete jungle that is Manhattan. I do recall a big sign posted in the garden that warned people not to vandalize it at the risk of being shot with a shotgun. This individual, Adam Purple, was obviously a rebel, an iconoclast of sorts — but a constructive rebel. Creating a beautiful garden provided access to nature for people living in city buildings, amid cars, machines, etc. agement destroyed a beautiful garden — although they left untouched the circumference, which includes many

trees and some grass and land. The motive was to build a playground to attract apartment buyers. And now being threatened by a plan to build affordable housing there. There is obviously a strong need for affordable housing but, I can imagine Adam Purple’s response: “My son, Michael, the destruction ization of your society in general. That is, the loss of humanity in the masses of Americans drives the destruction of these gardens.”

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters Brooklyn, NY, NY 11201. Please include Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published. TheVillager.com


Women in sharp focus at Chelsea Film Fest

Courtesy Chelsea Film Festival

Courtesy Chelsea Film Festival

Sasha Krane’s thriller “Solitary” (starring its screenwriter, Katharine Lee McEwan) opens the festival.

1970s Turkey is the backdrop to a teenage girl’s rebellion against her actor father, in “Drawers.”

BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC

a better place through cinema by

N

message. Much of the work presented in the lineup this year, Jean-Baptiste

ow in its third year, the Chelsea Film Festival has a fresh theme, and is launching two new programs. This time around, the Oct. 15–18 festival is setting its sight on women in film and media. “It’s something that we decided to focus on this year,” Ingrid Jean-Baptiste, the festival’s co-founder, explained in a phone interview. “However, it’s always been an element that was never really named. We tried to make it equal in terms of having ers.” The festival, which focuses on global issues, has always had the tagline “Making the World a Better Place,” she said. That phrase is how the whole festival started — making the world TheVillager.com TheVillager.com

wrote six. Ruth Berdah-Canet, for instance, directed the documentary “For You Were Once Strangers,” which looks at three South Sudanese families that

really gorgeous as well,” observed Jean-Baptiste. The festival opens with “Solitary,” directed by Sasha Krane, and starring Katharine Lee McEwan, who also wrote the screenplay. Jean-Baptiste called the thriller, which explores what happens when childhood secrets are revealed, “very powerful.” “Valley,” directed by Sophie Artus,

will close the festival. In Artus’ debut feature, she portrays the lives of three teenagers dealing with violence in an isolated Northern Israel town called Migdal HaEmek. Films for the festival are carefully chosen. A selection committee re— this year Jean-Baptiste said there were 1,000 — from Jan. to the end of the July. premiere status, as Jean-Baptiste said it is important for the festival to feature New York premieres. This year, over 60 works will be shown, including features, documenwill compete for the festival’s Grand Prix. The idea for the Chelsea Film Festival was spurred by wanting to “proJean-Baptiste explained. After thinking about how that could be accom-

plished, it was decided that some type of event would be needed, she said. “It came about that it would be a Chelsea...hence the name.” Jean-Baptiste moved to Chelsea from Paris in 2010. “I was working as a journalist in Paris and then I came to New York “I enrolled in the Actors Studio with Lee Strasberg. I graduated from there and decided to go further into this learning of the acting, and the craft of acting.” After a terrible car accident, Jean-Baptiste focused on creating a festival. She asked her mother, Sonia Jean-Baptiste, to help — and together, they founded the festival. “My mom and I are really close, and we do a lot of things together. It CFF, continued on p.18 October October 08,8,2015 2015

17 17


Fresh voices, new programs at third Chelsea Film Fest

COURTESY CHELSEA FILM FESTIVAL

Ruth Berdah-Canet’s “For You Were Once Strangers” documents three Sudanese families living in Israel.

CFF, continued from p. 17

just seemed logical for her to be involved,” she recalled. media carries over to the festival’s Q&A sessions. Jean-Baptiste noted that it is important not just to screen tion afterwards. In film, the “magic hour” refers to the period shortly after sunrise or before sunset, frequently used for shots — which is where the Reel Magic Hour derives its name. This

new program, to be inaugurated at the festival, is a series of five panels that will feature high-profile industry insiders, from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Sat., Oct. 17, said Jean-Baptiste. The lineup is yet to be released, but it will be held at the Fashion Institute of Technology (227 W. 27th St. at Seventh Ave.). Another new program established in conjunction with the festival is the Kino & Vino Series at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea (260 W. 23rd St. btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.), a monthly event.

COURTESY CHELSEA FILM FESTIVAL

October 8, 08,2015 2015

on Nov. 9 at 7 p.m., when the festival’s 2015 Grand Prix Winner will be screened at the Bow Tie, and followed by a Q&A and a wine reception. and Jan., but will resume in Feb., Jean-Baptiste said. Jean-Baptiste highlighted a num-

rebels against her father, an eminent actor and writer. “This year…will be very special we’ve received,” Jean-Baptiste said.

son, who returns from Iraq and tries to adjust to life after war. “Imminent -

Oct. 15–18 at the SVA Theatre (333 W. 23rd St. btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.) and other locations in Chelsea. For more

its citizens’ civil liberties.

The “docu-fiction” film “The Fiances of Imilchil” receives its US premiere at the Chelsea Film Festival.

18

COURTESY CHELSEA FILM FESTIVAL

Protesters fight for their civil liberties in “Imminent Threat,” a documentary on the effects of the War on Terror.

COURTESY CHELSEA FILM FESTIVAL

Hailing from Belgium, the dramedy “Marry Me” is indicative of the diverse offerings at Chelsea Film Festival.

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‘Long Stories Short’ condenses a career, captures cities Freedman’s newly released photos revel in vintage New York

COURTESY STEVEN KASHER GALLERY, NEW YORK

“Surf ’n Turf” (1979) captures the irony of an apparently homeless man sleeping on a Manhattan sidewalk next to paintings of crashing ocean surf and quiet country landscapes.

BY NORMAN BORDEN

photographer’s best work.

I

t would be hard to make a long story short out of Jill Freedman’s 40-plus-year career — but that’s exactly what the Stephen Kasher Gallery has accomplished with “Long Stories Short,” their new exhibit of some of the

FREEDMAN, continued on p.20

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Seeing a new side of Freedman’s ‘Stories’ FREEDMAN, continued from p. 19

-

Back in the day (the ’60s and ’70s), Freedman

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COURTESY STEVEN KASHER GALLERY, NEW YORK

COURTESY STEVEN KASHER GALLERY, NEW YORK

“Poor People’s Campaign” (1968) was used for the cover of Freedman’s first book, “Old News: Resurrection City.”

“Tivoli Fashion Shop” (1973) jumps at the viewer, with the man’s dejected look a sharp contrast to the snooty attitude of the mannequin.

-

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Huh?

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ing an ice cream cone, and another is staring

of anything out of the orThere’s a lot going on

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“Jill Freedman: Long Stories Short” is on display through Oct. 24 at the Steven Kasher Gallery (515 W. 26th St. btw. 10th & 11th Aves.), Tues.–Sat., 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Visit stevenkasher.com. Artist info at jillfreedman.com.

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Buhmann on Art

COURTESY ALEXANDER GRAY ASSOC., NY | ©2015 JACK TWORKOV/LICENSED BY VAGA, NY, NY

“View of Bay, Provincetown” (1931). Oil on canvas, 20.13h x 30.06w in (51.1h x 76.4w cm).

BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN

his work until 1948, Tworkov found his

(stephaniebuhmann.com) A founding member of the New York School’s famous Eighth Street Club — which included artists such as Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and Ad Reinhardt — Jack Tworkov (1900-1982) was

of Tworkov since recently becoming the representative of the artist’s estate. Ambitious, and with an eye for providing an overview, it examines Tworkov’s stylistic progression by fea-

post-war New York art scene. Though at the forefront of Abstract Expressionism, he was also among the

However, this exhibition also highlights Tworkov’s conceptual approach during later years by presenting a selection of paintings from the 1960s and 1970s.

COURTESY ALEXANDER GRAY ASSOC., NY | ©2015 JACK TWORKOV/LICENSED BY VAGA, NY, NY

“Departure” (1951). Oil on canvas, 45h x 42w in (114.3h x 106.7w cm).

THE SOUNDS OF A NEW CENTURY (SONiC) FESTIVAL BY SCOTT STIFFLER

es were rooted in European art — especially the work of Paul Cezanne, who inspired him to shift his focus from literature to painting. While references to European artists can easily be seen in

Through Oct. 24 at Alexander Gray Associates (510 W. 26th St. btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). Hours: Tues.–Sat. 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Call 212-399-2636 or visit alexandergray.com.

Here comes the SON — as in, those whose scholarly knowledge and aesthetic appreciation of the past can be felt in the grooves and curves of the stamp they put on our present soundscape. SONiC celebrates over 80 up-andcoming composers representPHOTO BY BECKY OEHLERS ing “every conceivable style,” Chamber choir The Crossing plays the SONiC by presenting 15 ensembles at Festival as part of a free concert, Oct. 16 at Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. 10 venues throughout NYC. Opening night’s 7 p.m. concert at WQXR (44 Charlton St.) features the resident ensemble at Westchester County’s Aaron Copland House. Oct. 16’s “New York Stories” (Winter

Rouge (158 Bleecker St.) at 7 p.m. on Oct. 19, and Oct. 20’s 10 p.m. “Hybridity” after-hours event at DROM (85 Ave. A) features, among others, the 15-piece, multi-generational Eco-Music Big Band. The festival happens Oct. 15–23 at 10 Manhattan & Brooklyn venues. Tickets range from free to $50. Festival passes (which provide codes to purchase tickets discounted by at least 20%) are $25. Visit SONiCfestival.org. Follow on facebook.com/SONiC.SoundsOfANewCentury. On Twitter and Instagram: @SONiC_Fest. Participate using the hastag #SONiCfest. TheVillager.com TheVillager.com

COURTESY ALEXANDER GRAY ASSOCIATES

Installation shot from “Jack Tworkov: Mark and Grid, 1931–1982.” October 08,8,2015 October 2015

21 21


West Coast trek leads to Village literary journey TREK continued from p. 10

as her “safe golden light in the night” whenever she wants a late night coffee. The Third Rail is her “lock-in” for intensive writing since it’s Wi-Fi free and, she said, “No one I know goes there.” gained attention for dealing with her rape in a unique way. She subsequently became a member prominent writers defending the freedom to write her life story rights and is in the process of producing a TV series based on her memoir. from other authors and creative. Actress Lena Dunham praised her memoir as “beautiful and so

Aspen Matis reading her new adventure memoir outside of Joe, at 141 Waverly Place, where she can always be seen with a cup of coffee.

wildly engaging.” Matis is astonished by the amount of attention her book is receiving and keeps a packed schedule of interviews and meetings — but that doesn’t stop her from writing. She is currently working on a novel about a woman whose nature is evil but has tremendous self-awareness and desperately wants to be good. Taking Matis by surprise, her former school, Colorado College, invited her back to campus to talk to students about her rape. It was “impossibly surreal,” she said, to go back to the place where they denied the existence of her rape and to speak about it. But the current campus movement highlighting sex-abuse stories inspired Matis to speak out. “Truth has power,” she exclaimed happily.

Adam Purple and me; Fond radical remembrances PURPLE continued from p. 15

— and foremost among the speI began writing about him for the

residents. One of the most aggressive

Joint Planning Council. This was a body that coordinated low-income the city bureaucracy, a pillar of the local machine. Advocates of the housing project baited Adam as a loner, and said his productive artwork wasn’t really a community garden. And while he did share his produce and had some volunteers helping him out, it was Purple — don’t know where she is now — and a coterie of young Purple People who looked to the couple as The housing project is there today, with the antiseptic name of human-scale than many such projects around the city, but numbingly

Downtown, where I did a column on city environmental issues, I made the point that his intransigent personal stance conveyed a needed sense of urgency. Technocrats at the big enviro groups were putting out white papers on the impacts of burning fossil fuels and dumping sewage at sea — while continuing, day after day, to drive cars and s--- in toilets. Adam continued to hang on in his old building facing Forsyth St. where of that time squatting, although he build housing for the deaf on the site around 1999. He did get a payout from the city government, in recognition of his legal tenancy. He left the city for a while, but returned — drifting, on the edge of society. After 9/11, a group calling itself the New York Psychogeographical Association issued a statement calling for -

security cameras. It is the cultural antithesis of Adam’s intricate spiral garden, which was a living embodiment of the ethic of “building a new society in the vacant lots of the old.” In addition to his unswerving vegetarianism, Adam scrupulously refused to even set foot in an automobile. He would have no part of the petrochemical system at all. And even as a bicyclist, he always rode against he never got ticketed for it. For me, Adam was making a real statement about human survival in tensive archive of journalism about the garden and his own esoteric writings the Species Survival Library

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October 8, 2015

of skyscrapers. I took up this call, and had an opinion piece pushing the proposal in Newsday in 2002. I put Adam on WBAI radio, where I was then a producer, to plug the idea. Of course, I knew it was completely “unrealistic,” but I felt it was important to propagate, as a critique of the Cult of er development models are possible. And then in 2005, I made my faux pas that I don’t think Adam ever really forgave me for. Starting with the previous year’s Republican National Convention protests, the N.Y.P.D. had launched a big crackdown on the Critical Mass bicycle rides. We took up the slogan “Still We Ride” to express our deter-

mination to be recognized as having a right to the road. And weekly public rallies in support of Critical Mass were held at Union Square, under the name “Still We Speak.” Political Siegel, Reverend Al Sharpton — and Margarita Lopez, by then city counSo when I heard they’d invited Adam to speak at one of the rallies, I had a slight foreboding of trouble. When I got up to Union Square that ing purple, since the destruction of the stage, looking dejected. I wish I had picked up on that, but I didn’t. I thought Margarita was going to be since she’d spoken at the previous week’s rally. And I knew Adam had never forgiven her. Half in jest, I said, “Adam, do me a favor — when you speak, don’t diss Margartia.” I didn’t anticipate his response. Without a word, he hopped on his bike and pedaled out of there, headHe never spoke to me again after that. A few days later, I sought him Mexican restaurant on Allen St. The folks there had taken him in, feeding him rice and beans for his help around the kitchen. I apologized, told him that what I’d said had been “very un-anarchistic.” At this he nodded vigorously, but he wouldn’t say a word or look at me. Adding to my chagrin, the next week’s Villager had a photo of Lopez with her arm er Park redevelopment plan. Later, she would endorse Bloomberg for re-election, then get a post in his administration. I came to bitterly regret my words.

In the decade after that, I’d wave at Adam when we passed each other on our bicycles, and he’d wave back. But never a word — not even to return my “hello.”

Adam. At the big inaugural party for the museum in December 2012, Adam was brought in to speak. By this time, he was crashing at the Williamsburg space of the urban environmental group Time’s Up, whose leadership overlaps with that of the MoRUS. I saw my opportunity to show Adam some love and respect, and maybe atone for my old error. I got there just as he was supposed to activist events typically run behind schedule. Wouldn’t you know this was the one time they were actually ahead of schedule? I arrived minutes after Adam had left. I never got another chance. On Sept. 14 , Adam died at the age of 84 — apparently of a heart attack while bicycling over the Williamsburg Bridge. I think the fact he died on his bicycle is appropriate. On Sat., Sept. 26, there was a memorial for Adam, with artifacts of his life and works on display at MoRUS and testimonials around the corner in La Plaza Cultural. It was announced that he’d been given a chemical-free “green burial,” at a place that provides such services in Upstate’s that Adam was himself composted. I wish he could have heard me say in life what I said of him at the memorial — that he was one of the few true revolutionaries that I have known, and that I loved and respected the hell out of him. Adam Purple, you tough, stubYou sure were hardcore. TheVillager.com


TheVillager.com

October 8, 2015

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Praising Purple at memorial PURPLE PRAISE continued from p. 6

a T-shirt. I admire him living on his own terms — stubborn, curmudgeon.” Larry Friedman was a student at Stuyvesant High School when he moved into Purple’s building at 184 Forsyth St., paying around $50 a month for oil to heat his stove. “I had oil and we had water,” he recalled, “and he was working on electricity. He stole electricity from the street — and we had electricity. I studied with the stove for warmth Living with Purple in the crime-ridden war zone of the Lower up the teen. Friedman had grown up in public housing in Inwood but had to leave his family situation. At his door, which didn’t have a lock yet. “When I was afraid of the junkies, he said, ‘Listen to the crickets.’ Now there were crickets in the backyard,” Friedman recalled of the garden’s magic. “He said, ‘When the crickets stop making noise, someone’s in the garden.’” Friedman, today a physician’s assistant at Beth Israel Hospital, also changed his diet due to Purple. “He took in a kid who didn’t know from vegetarians,” he said. “Now I’m a vegetarian.” Friedman had unique insight into Purple from living with him. He saw one of the gardening icon’s less. She wanted to make money for their daughter, Nova Dawn, and move away. She did it. I heard her say, ‘I made $1,000 last night!’ My girlfriends didn’t have to babysit anymore because she moved away. That was the only time I heard them Then there was what Friedman dubbed “The Year of the Weed.” Pointing to one of the rings on ground, he said, “It was all weed. car with the weed. They had to get a paddy wagon, too. The junkies were running in and grabbing plants, dropping dirt. Cops would chase after them. It was hilarious!” Describing the garden, he said, ors of the rainbow coming out. In the middle was the purple, and this was the green circle,” he said, pointing to one of the rings. “Do people know these things? Maybe someone should write a book.” Friedman added that, to get other tenements around him torn down,

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October 8, 2015

Purple footprints led from the garden memorial along Avenue C to the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, a block away, where Adam Purple newspaper clippings, photos, videos and other memorabilia, including George Bliss’s purple footprint machine, were on display.

so that he could expand the garden, Purple had Friedman’s student friends from Stuyvesant sign petitions to the city saying that the dealers — which was probably true. Daniel Bowman Simon has postego,” online. It’s more of a scrapbook of Purple’s writings, along with newspaper articles about him his college report card, sporting mostly “A” ’s. Also included are letters of support for the garden from former Cultural Affairs Commissioner Bess Myerson and renowned architect James Polshek. beauty in a bleak place, communal harmony, something the neighborhood cares for, even a little food,” “It is a humane development in the city. In architectural and economic preserved. Please consider all this and communicate your sentiments to the necessary agencies.” Simon found a copy of the book in The New School’s library and has posted it at 596acres.org. Outside the memorial event at the garden, purple footprints led down the sidewalk along Avenue C to the Museum of Reclaimed Urwhere a “Purple Pop-Up Show” — recently extended — is being held. Watching vintage video of Purple

the 1980s, to raise awareness about the embattled garden, laid down 40 miles of purple footprints around the city leading back to Forsyth St. Among the videos was one of Purple and Bliss being interviewed by Regis and Kathie Lee, with Regis in his clipped tones trying to get to the bottom of the housing vs. gar“Because it was circular, it posed a threat,” Purple explained. “The birds, bees and insects came back.” Another video showed Purple busily trundling a wheelbarrow up and down ramps in a rubble-cleared space in the growing garden, and ash, to add to the new soil. “Incredible. I’ve never seen this,” Bliss marveled. As for the footprints, the original machine he used to make them — a drum barrel with foot-shaped sponges, behind which Bliss drilled out holes — sat on display in a corner of the museum. Bliss would foray out at 3 a.m. with the barrel hidden inside a shopping cart that he would roll along the sidewalk. An earlier prototype — tubes running down the inside of his pant legs — was a bust, because the purple paint would create a puddle when he had to wait for the light at crosswalks. Bliss doggedly continued plastering the city with the footprints. “After the destruction,” he said, “I was even more determined to have the media cover it, as a way to force them to tell the story.” TheVillager.com


laza Cultural. e Lower East Side’s Garden of Eden was chalked on the

g Purple at memorial

For CrossFit couple, East Village is perfect fit SPORTS / FITNESS BY LISSA PHILLIPS

I

Ninth St. and Avenue C, chances are you’ve seen them — a crowd of athletes dodging pedestrians at top speed, entering and leaving a garage boldly painted in black, red and white. The artwork on the otherwise quiet block loudly proclaims: Crosskind of chaos. There is the clanging of barbells echoing within the

Take them to the river: CFER members push it on the running track in East River Park.

speakers instructing athletes to begin Island, in 2010. What became a natural

the name implies — an hourlong metabolic conditioning session designed to make you

convincing to convert to.

open gyms, the Beast River

for this CrossFit thing,’ ” Melissa said. “I didn’t even know what it was.” She reluctantly surrendered to CrossFit in 2011 after her previous workouts failed to yield the results she was seeking for her approaching wedding. “It was humbling to say the least,” Melissa said. “I’m a competitive person, so that brought out the competitive ‘me versus me’ factor and I just fell in love with it.”

and required foundations sessions for beginners.

encouraging cheers of athletes to their last-standing counterparts; and then near silence as athletes collapse to the heavy breathing. A quick scan of the box yields little equipment that gyms typically feature: no treadmills, no ellipticals, no bikes and no lifting machines. Instead, barbells, weights, rowing machines, gymnastics rings and pull-up bars grace the box, sending a message as clear “We are the machines.” was an abandoned garage sporting a “For Rent” sign. The door was Leon to crawl under. The former warehouse with pink walls lined with cartons of wine certainly didn’t scream sweat and squats back then, but Leon knew it was just the spot they had been looking for. the truck and said, ‘That’s going to be the gym. You have to go look,’ ” Melissa Leon said. “We ended up signing the lease in May 2013 and opened a month later in June.” cently celebrated their two-year anniversary of converting the abandoned wine-storage unit into a fully integratgram designed for athletes to perform functional movements that are constantly varied at high intensity. The couple met in 2009 while Melissa was working as a reporter in New year at New York University. Before perusing the Internet. He began teaching himself the movements from the Web site to train for the U.S. Army AirTheVillager.com

Fit Salerno at a NATO base in Khost, Afghanistan, while stationed in that country in 2012. This ignited the idea of opening up a box with his newly CrossFit-converted wife. After a few continents-spanning e-mail exchanges, the couple decided they would pur-

the Leons’ decision to set up shop in Alphabet City. The couple instantly felt that the neighborhood’s sense of community directly correlated with the goals they had for the box. munity and a neighborhood to us,” Melissa said. “Whereas you go to some other neighborhoods in the city where

ing more appearances at local weightlifting meets as a team, derful means of connection to

hosts events such as “WOD and Wine” ladies’ nights and parties at local neighborhood hangouts, bringing members together beyond the barbell. “We really pride ourselves on having a community,” Melissa said. “We’ve heard feedback from visitors and current members that it’s just a nice community vibe here, and that’s what we’ve always wanted. That’s the type of CrossFit we love and that affected us.” Community continues to ring true as the Leons look to the future for the box. With two years under their belt, one goal remains constant for the couple in the next two years — ensuring outsiders that this CrossFit community can be anyone’s community. “We want to make sure we keep CrossFit, as it was intend-

W

it’s not as apparent as when you come Two years and 250 members later, the couple have created their own com-

is an open-source model and everything is online for free, I think it’s invaluable to have a set of eyes watching you do the movements and being involved in a community that cares if you are doing them correctly. “There’s not a price on that.”

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October 8, 2015

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