The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
October 22, 2015 • $1.00 Volume 85 • Number 21
St. John’s plan includes 500 affordable units, small park, maybe hotel BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
n what Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Councilmember Corey Johnson are calling a win-win for both Pier 40 and affordable housing for Lower West Side working families and seniors, on Wednesday, the de Blasio administration, Johnson and the Hudson River
Park Trust announced a new plan for a major development project on the St. John’s Center site. The developer is St. John’s Partners, which includes the building’s owners, Atlas Capital Group, LLC, and Westbrook Partners. According to a spokesperPIER 40 continued on p. 3
E.V. school kids fuming over Styrofoam reversal BY YANNIC RACK
hen a judge struck down the city’s ban on plastic foam food containers late last month, among the many environmentally conscious New Yorkers who disapproved were a group of East Village public school students who had cam-
paigned for the ban as part of their mission to achieve zero-waste school cafeterias. “The students and teachers were so disappointed and shocked, because they had worked so hard on this. I don’t think anyone expected that this was not going to go through,” said Debby Lee STYROFOAM continued on p. 10
As part of a new development plan, the current W. Houston St. overpass of the St. John’s Center would be replaced with an elevated park, shown in rendering above, similar to the High Line park.
O.M.G.! Now on the menu at God’s Love: Roof parties BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
he new God’s Love We Deliver building had already been a visual assault to the sensibilities of Soho illustrator Harry Pincus. Its aluminum-tile cladding reflects the bright sunlight across Spring St. right into his family’s fifthfloor apartment — and it’s only been getting worse since the meals provider’s expanded headquarters opened this summer.
“By now, we are living behind closed curtains 24/7,” Pincus said. “I bravely opened the curtains to see what the afternoon light was like in the fall, but it’s impossible to keep them open. “The glare off of the aluminum siding is truly blinding. People stand on the street and just marvel at it. Looking out my window is like looking directly at the sun. A few seconds of exposure would literally be blinding.” Caught without curtains
on his north-facing windows, the artist has been using Styrofoam poster boards of his illustrations — pretty much anything he could lay his hands on — to try to block out the solar onslaught. The $28 million G.L.W.D. project — completed in a year and a half — transformed the nonprofit organization’s former building, a squat, two-story, 60-yearold structure, into a gleamG.L.W.D. continued on p. 8
Yo, Givenchy! L.E.S. kids looking good!..........page 4 Gallery owner grew Eliz. St. Garden...............page 9 Memories of music man Joe Budnick.............page 12 Blood Manor wants yours!..........page 21
CANDID CAMERA COURT: District Leader Arthur Schwartz tells us he appeared in court last week and the district attorney made a motion to reduce his charges from grand larceny to petit lar-
CHUMLEY’S NOT 86’ED: Famous West Village speakeasy Chumley’s moved one step closer to reopening on Bedford St. last week, after spending some eight years in limbo. The tavern, once popular with the likes of John Steinbeck and William Faulkner, closed due to a wall collapse in 2007 and has been slow in reopening because of opposition from a small group of locals, who have filed a string of lawsuits against the bar, as well as city and state agencies. One suit was dismissed last year and another is still pending. But last Thurs., Oct. 15, the bar scored a win when Community Board 2’s S.L.A. Licensing Committee gave its thumbs up to the application by the bar’s operator, retired Firefighter Jim Miller, to the State Liquor Authority. The committee’s only condition: The hours of operation should be reduced to midnight from Sunday to Thursday, and until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. After the meeting, Barry Mallin, the lawyer who represents the opposing neighbors, protested, “The block has changed, it’s become more family oriented. It’s not appropriate.” Yet, Kathryn Donaldson, the president of the Bedford-Barrow Commerce Block Association and a resident of Bedford St., said she backs the bar. “I always found that
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CORRECTION: An article in last week’s issue, “Pier 57 hawkers market plan ruffles some feathers,” misrepresented a statement made by Christine Berthet, the Community Board 4 chairperson, at a meeting of the Chelsea board. The article incorrectly stated: “Board Chairperson Christine Berthet said that the applicant had met with the Hudson River Park Trust and C.B. 4’s Business License and Permits Committee about the proposed restaurant and would next go before the City Council’s Business and Licensing Committee.” However, correcting the record, Berthet told The Villager, “I reported the fact that we had discussions with Google, but there have been no conversations with the applicant yet. The meeting with the Trust relates to a different applicant.” The correct applicant is RXR Reality, and the project, slated for Pier 57 at W. 16th St., calls for both a 155,000-square-foot international food market by Anthony Bourdain and 250,000 square feet of office space for Google.
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GOURMET GRUB HUB: George Bliss tells us that a new, interesting type of market is planned for the former Charles St. space in the West Village where his The Hub bicycle store used to be. The Hub, which was at 139 Charles St. for more than four years, and before that at 73 Morton St. for five years, closed in December 2014. Bliss blamed Citi Bike. At any rate, he tells us that Michael Spalding is planning Mercato Fabrica (meaning, “a market where things are made”) at the Charles St. spot. He was able to wrangle a two-year lease for it, while the property owner originally wanted to limit it to only one year and possibly put a vendors’ cart depot there, Bliss said. Ultimately, the 5,000-squarefoot site is reportedly earmarked for development. Spalding, who Bliss said, “knows everybody in the food business,” is planning to create an artisanal Italian-inspired food market, and also plans to grow food on the place’s roof. It sounds a bit like a mini-Eataly. In addition, a small area will be set aside for Bliss to sell his upright-style bikes. Mercato Fabrica won’t be opening till the spring since the space is still be being built out. “He’s got five months of work at least,” Bliss said.
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the old Chumley’s was very supportive to us and Jim has demonstrated that he wants to be a good neighbor,” she said. “I see no reason not to support Chumley’s, for the fact that it’s a neighborhood institution.” An online petition to reopen the bar has already garnered more than 1,800 signatures and the application will now go before C.B. 2’s full board at its meeting on Thurs., Oct. 22.
O-FENCE-IVE! Opponents of the N.Y.U. 2031 mega-project recently had their hopes up after the project suffered a setback at the Public Design Commission, which sent the design plans for the fence on the north side of Bleecker St. between Coles gym and the Morton Williams supermarket back to the drawing board. The demolition of Coles gym to make way for the “Zipper Building” — the first of four planned new buildings on the university’s South Village superblocks — was on hold until this fence issue was resolved. However, the P.D.C. unanimously approved the plans at its Oct. 5 meeting. Not only does this now allow the Coles demo to proceed, but what was O.K.’d wasn’t even very good, according to Terri Cude, co-chairperson of Communtiy Action Alliance on N.Y.U. 2031. There will actually be two fences, an outside one 2 feet tall, and an inner one 2 feet 10 inches tall, which will replace a 7-foot-tall iron fence that’s there now. Signe Nielsen, the head of the P.D.C., said, “I am sympathetic to those that say the design is underwhelming. However, this is an acceptable design.” Said Cude, “All we’re getting is some plantings and a fence. And folks are saying people will be jumping over the low fence.” As for Coles, N.Y.U. is now saying it will stay open through the end of the fall semester. To provide court space for its sports teams, N.Y.U. has “entered into long-term agreements” with Hunter College, Pace University and other local colleges to use their facilities for basketball and volleyball practices and games.
ceny, a misdemeanor, in connection with Schwartz’s taking five mini-cameras from outside Ruth Berk’s apartment at 95 Christopher St. in June. Schwartz contends he only took the spy cams — which he later sent to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office — because he wanted to stop the harassment of the elder Berk, 92, for whom he is the appointed guardian. “Big victory!” Schwartz said of the lowered charges. The judge also offered him an A.C.D. (Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal) — under which, after six months without arrest, the charges would be dismissed and the record sealed — plus payment to the landlord of $2,600 restitution for taking the cameras, which are only worth about $400, according to Schwartz. “I said, ‘No deal,’ ” he told us. The judge set dates to move to dismiss the case “in the interests of justice” and for failure to charge petit larceny, as opposed to the more serious grand larceny, Schwartz said. The next court appearance, including the decision by the judge, is set for Dec. 9. Meanwhile, no one can even find the cameras anymore. “The A.G. says they gave them to the D.A., but the D.A. says not true,” Schwartz said. As for why the requested restitution was $2.6K when, by Schwartz’s reckoning, that’s more than six times the cams’ value, were only worth one-sixth that amount, he said the landlord “hired a very expensive A/V company to plug them back in.”
Corne r of Jane & West 4th St. (at 8th Ave.) 212-2 42-95 02
St. John’s plan includes 500 affordable units, park PIER 40 continued from p. 1
son, under the scheme, the developer would purchase 200,000 square feet of unused development rights from Pier 40 for a new mixed-use project on the east side of the West Side Highway, on the St. John’s site, which stretches between Washington and West Sts. from Clarkson St. to Charlton St. The developer would pay $100 million for those development rights. In turn, under a 2013 amendment to the Hudson River Park Act that allowed the park to sell its unused development rights, that cash would be funneled back into Pier 40 to repair the aged pier’s severely corroded metal support piles. A recent report by the engineering firm The Halcrow Group revealed that 57 percent of Pier 40’s 3,500 steel pilings are suffering severe deterioration, up from 38 percent five years ago. Due to the pier’s poor condition, the Trust in recent years has had to shut down sections of it for safety reasons, then spend millions of dollars to repair its rotting roof. Saving Pier 40, which local families and youth leagues have come to cherish as the neighborhood’s irreplaceable “sports pier,” has been a top community priority for years. Yet, plans to save the 15-acre pier by means of a development project on the actual pier itself have repeatedly sunk, one after the other over the past 15 years, from the world’s largest oceanarium, to a waterborne FedEx delivery depot, to a “Vegas on the Hudson” featuring Cirque du Soleil, and more recently the local youth leagues’ pitch for two luxury residential towers to be built in front of the pier. Under the new plan, the St. John’s Center — the onetime terminal of the High Line elevated railway — would be razed and replaced with five buildings. Four of these would be residential and one commercial, possibly a hotel. The tallest building would rise 430 feet, sporting 34 floors, and the smallest 240 feet, with 21 floors. The total project’s size would be 1.7 million square feet, with 1.3 million of that residential, and 400,000 square feet commercial. Harkening back to the site’s former use as an elevated freight-rail hub, the bridge-like part of the St. John’s Center that now spans W. Houston St. would be replaced with a facsimile of the High Line, with a park on top of it, similar to the High Line park that stretches north of Gansevoort St. This park would amount to 14,000 square feet of new publicly accessible open space. Of the St. John’s Center project’s estimated 1,586 residential units, TheVillager.com
The current St. John’s Center building where it spans W. Houston St. The whole building would be demolished under the plan and this section rebuilt with an elevated park, resembling the High Line park.
500 would be permanently affordable. Of that amount, 200 would be for low-income seniors; the rest would be for low- and moderate-income families. Affordable apartments would be allotted by a lottery — with preference given to Community Board 2 residents — to be run by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. Although 30 percent of the project’s total residential units would be affordable, apparently due to some differences in unit sizes, only 25 percent of the total residential F.A.R. (floor area ratio) would be affordable. Some of the affordable units would have river views, the spokesperson said. The current St. John’s Center building would be demolished and the new project built in three phases. There is still a tenant, Bloomberg, in one section of the building, and that would be the last to be razed. The “north site” would have two new residential buildings, one of which would be all market rate and the other dedicated to affordable housing for seniors. The plan for the “center site” calls for two residential buildings, one of which would be market rate, the other mixed market rate and affordable; according to the spokesperson, the affordable units would be “evenly distributed” throughout the building and there would be shared entrances and amenities. “There will not be a ‘poor door,’ ” the spokesperson stated.
The “south site” building would be commercial, possibly a hotel or even offices. The project will be designed by world-renowned architectural firm COOKFOX. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, it will be built for “extreme weather and resiliency, with state-of-the-art flood mitigation,” the spokesperson said. Although some local residents, in the past, have expressed a strong desire for a hospital and / or public school at the St. John’s site, those are not envisioned. “There are currently no plans to put a hospital or healthcare facility there,” the spokesperson said. In terms of retail uses, the spokesperson said there would be retail frontage on Washington, West, W. Houston and Clarkson Sts. “The goal is to have retail that the residents and the larger community as a whole want,” he said. “Likely, there would be a food store.” The spokesperson added that there could be the possibility of a big-box store, to be mostly located underground, but that this would be up for review. “There are limitations of doing bigbox retail under the current zoning,” he said. The developers hope to break ground in 2017. Each of the project’s three phases is expected to take two to three years, meaning all of the construction could take from six to nine years to complete. The St. John’s site needs to be rezoned to allow residential use and
to create a special district to receive the park development rights. This is what’s called the “scoping” period, during which an environmental review is done, which will analyze the project for its potential impacts on the surrounding community. City Planning and St. John’s Partners have already started the environmental review process. After the rezoning, the project would go through the city’s ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure), which typically takes six to nine months. This would include review by Community Board 2, the Manhattan borough president and the Department of City Planning, before a vote by the City Council and, finally, the mayor’s approval. After the ULURP is done, the Park Trust’s board of directors would have to approve the sale of the development rights after an independent appraisal process. Under the current plan, the rights are being valued at $500 per square foot. According to Johnson, the ULURP won’t start till February or March 2016. In a statement, Mayor de Blasio said, “This is a tremendous opportunity to save Pier 40 and to build the permanently affordable housing this community so badly needs. Councilmember Johnson’s leadership has helped maximize the amount of permanently affordable housing created by this rare opportunity. It’s a winwin, and we look forward to working with everyone in the neighborhood through the process ahead.” Johnson said, “At long last, we have a great plan that would address the urgent situation at Pier 40 and give this community treasure back to local families while fulfilling the city’s mission to create new permanent affordable housing units. I am pleased this project will go through a process where New Yorkers will have their voices heard to ensure a win-win for community residents, parkgoers and New Yorkers facing a housing crisis.” Johnson told The Villager he is looking forward to working with local state legislators on the project, including state Senators Brad Hoylman and Daniel Squadron, and especially Assemblymember Deborah Glick. Glick did not return a call for comment by press time. Johnson added that the affordable senior building would feature “wraparound” support services. “All of these previous iterations weren’t a good fit for the community,” he said of earlier Pier 40 plans, calling this one a “win-win for both sides of the highway. PIER 40 continued on p. 11 October 22, 2015
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October 22, 2015
P.S. 110 kids work it — and hope it works!
n Tues., Oct. 13, on the basketball courts of P.S. 110, the Florence Nightingale School, on Delancey St., students came out in force and with enthusiasm to shoot a video plea directed to the French fashion label Givenchy. They were asking for a donation to the P.S. 110 P.T.A. Family Giving Fund. The fashion label last month paid big bucks to rent the parking lot next door to the school for their New York Fashion Week after-party. Givenchy emptied out the lot and closed off the sidewalk leading to the school for its celebrity-studded soiree. Walking to Deee-Lite’s song “The Power of Love” — the after-party’s theme — 110 kids walked the runway, which in-
cluded pallets donated from Key Food, which were very similar to the wooden staircases constructed for the actual fashion show. The students wore deconstructed and embellished P.S. 110 T-shirts, styled by the wardrobe department of “Law & Order: SVU,” as they each held up poster boards detailing the reasoning for their “ask.” The video was shot by P.S. 110 parent and director Chris Roberson. The final cut is being sent directly to designer Riccardo Tisci and others at the House of Givenchy. “I don’t know how they are going to say no to these bright, talented and deserving kids after they see this video!” said Kathleen Keene, P.S. 110 P.T.A. president. TheVillager.com
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Safely and Properly Dispose Your eWaste Sunday, October 25th Lower East Side 10am to 4pm • Rain or Shine Stop by with your old electronics for eco-friendly recycling. All participants will receive a coupon for up to $20 off a qualifying purchase at Tekserve.*
For more locations and details, visit tekserve.com/recycling *Coupon valid for $10 off any single purchase of $50 or more; $20 off any single purchase of $100 or more. Expires December 31, 2015.
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PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
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Armenta Jeffry, left, and Kimberly Ortiz after their release by police Monday night.
Protesters arrested Two women who are a part of a regular group that demonstrates on Monday evenings against police killings were arrested last Monday night outside the 13th Precinct, at 230 E. 21st St. Kimberly Ortiz, 31, and Armenta Jeffry, 22, said police abruptly grabbed them and charged them with disorderly conduct and obstruction of vehicular traffic. They said they protested at the 13th Precinct since it’s near Union Square, where they initially gathered. The group is affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement. Ortiz, who works for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said they plan to return to doing die-ins in the concourse at Grand Central Terminal once it gets colder. At Monday’s protest they decried the death of Jeremy McDole, 28, a disabled, wheelchair-bound Delaware man who was killed by police last month. A video of the incident shows police repeatedly yelling “Hands up!” at McDole — who fails to comply and appears to be possibly reaching for something in his lap — before they shoot him multiple times.
Strap-on attack suit The Daily News reported that police frisking a man at the Sixth Precinct stationhouse on W. 10th St. mocked him after discovering he was wearing a sex toy and repeatedly beat him after he talked back, a new lawsuit charges. Michael Watson said in his federal court lawsuit the brutality began when he was arrested on Jan. 10, 2013, for pot possession. At a bathroom at the Sixth, police told him to undress, papers say. He pulled down his underwear to reveal a sex toy “strapped to his waist by a Velcro belt,” the suit reads. That led to three police beatings separated by three trips to Beth Israel Hospital, the suits says. “We’ll review the specific allega-
tions once we are served,” a Law Department spokesperson said. Police did not respond to requests for comment.
Republic robbers Employees of the Banana Republic store at 111 Eighth Ave., on W. 15th St., alleged that two men tried to steal $275 worth of merchandise on Wed., Oct. 14. The workers alerted police, who arrived at the store around 6:45 p.m. and arrested Midtown resident Frank Calauce, 43, and East Harlem resident Wesley Murphy, 36. The two were charged with misdemeanor petit larceny.
Park punch A punch to the face on Mon., Oct. 12, disrupted a 51-year-old Brooklyn man’s enjoyment of a bench in Hudson River Park near the northwest corner of Christopher and West Sts. Police said the victim suffered a cut lip with plenty of swelling. The alleged attacker fled on food around 9:30 p.m. and did not appear to know the victim. Azariah Brundage of Queens was found nearby and arrested for misdemeanor assault.
Laptop squeeze An employee of The Squeeze Juice in the Gansevoort Market building, at 52 Gansevoort St., figured he could settle a money dispute with his employee by taking a $1,400 Apple laptop on Mon., Oct. 12. Police said Demitri Gaspard, 22, grabbed the laptop from the boss’s hands as they bickered around 5 p.m. Gaspard then left the place, but police soon caught up with him and recovered the computer. He was arrested and charged with felony grand larceny.
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PHOTOS BY HARRY PINCUS
Revelers mingling among the mannequins and enjoying the “Party on 5” space at God’s Love We Deliver on Sept. 10 during Fashion Week. One man took in the view above them from “The Roof.”
O.M.G.! Now on God’s Love menu: Roof parties G.L.W.D. continued from p. 1
ing new five-story facility, more than doubling its space to 48,000 square feet. Adding to Pincus’s dismay, though, on top of the visual nuisance, the building has now also become an aural headache for him and other Soho residents, to hear him tell it. In short, God’s Love is renting out its fifth floor, which features an outdoor terrace, and also its roof for special events, with amplified music. On Oct. 10, G.L.W.D. hosted a “disco event” on its fifth floor, according to Pincus. At least the music sounded like disco to him — and he and others could definitely hear it. He forwarded video clips he filmed of the bash, with songs like Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and DeBarge’s “Rhythm of the Night” blaring out from the building. There was another event there on Sept. 15. The guests mingled among mannequins, apparently a design touch for Fashion Week. As an annoyed Pincus shot photos of the revelry, some of the people waved back at him, which he said was “creepier than the mannequins.” Although Pincus is known for his outspokenness, it’s not just him who has been bothered by the volume from the G.L.W.D. building. According to him, his friend, Alan Messer — who is known as “Johnny Cash’s photographer” — was visiting from Nashville on Oct. 10 and went out to dinner nearby on West Broadway, where he was surprised that he could hear the music from God’s Love, three blocks away on Sixth Ave. “On Saturday night, Alan and I had been having a lot of fun talking about his life on tour with the Man in Black, when the mayhem interrupted us,” Pincus related. “Then he had to leave for a dinner date, and called me a few minutes later from the restaurant, which was several blocks away, to report that the noise from G.L.W.D. was disturbing the diners inside! He couldn’t believe the goings-on.
October 22, 2015
Further infuriating neighbor Harry Pincus, partiers at the mixer-amid-the-mannequins at God’s Love We Deliver waved and smiled at him as tunes pumped out from the Fashion Week event at “Party on 5,” the new building’s indoor / outdoor party space, which is available until 10 p.m. seven days a week.
“There are small children, as well as elderly and ill people on our block,” Pincus said. “They shouldn’t be subjected to this.” God’s Love’s free meals — it cooks 5,000 a day — are sent to those who are seriously ill, suffering from AIDS, cancer and a variety of other serious diseases. The feel-good, volunteer-fueled organization is supported by many high-powered New Yorkers in design, fashion and entertainment, from Michael Kors, whose name graces the new building, to Anna Wintour and the late Joan Rivers, for
whom the God’s Love bakery is named. But longtime Soho residents — Pincus has been there since 1975 — while largely dismissive of the glitz, can’t ignore the noise. Pincus said “Cozi” Schwartz, 87, who has lived in the neighborhood since the 1940s, where she is a familiar sight with her dog, Duke, reported that her friend Diane Mendez, who lives in a loft blocks away on West Broadway, also was disturbed by the G.L.W.D. continued on p. 24 TheVillager.com
Gallery owner: I created garden to beautify block BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
hile it’s abundantly clear that the Elizabeth St. Garden has rapidly become a much-loved community space in Little Italy, how the garden came to be is not as well known. Supporters of the city’s plan to build a $24 million affordable housing project on the half-acre site dismiss the garden as a mere outdoor showcase for pricey private sculptural pieces and ornaments. However, Allan Reiver, who has leased the lot from the city since 1991, said the garden is about a lot more than that. He moved to the area in 1989. His apartment, on the east side of Elizabeth St., directly overlooks the space, which back then was a garbage-strewn lot. The block at that time sported a pair of 24-hour commercial bakeries, and a building on the corner of Prince St. whose five upper floors were all vacant and derelict. “In all of Little Italy, it was the only block that was totally dilapidated,” Reiver recalled. “I looked out my window and I saw the mess and then I heard it was going to be sold as a parking lot,” he recalled of the empty lot. The spot had formerly housed a public school, and was planned to get a new one. But Little Italy residents protested and killed the project. Reiver, 72, who was “a developer in a past life,” as he put it, had collected valuable monuments and pieces from historic estates to be used in his projects. He had the idea of displaying them in the open-air lot. “The lease originally called for it to just be storage, but I decided to make it a garden,” he said. “Everything in there, I planted. I built the garden.” The garden’s signature pieces are its lions, probably 19th- or 20th-century copies of Italian originals, he said. The gazebo is from a garden designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the famed landscape architect who created Central Park and Prospect Park. Historic balustrades from Lynnewood Hall, a Gilded Age mansion in Philadelphia, line the garden’s pathways. “Everything’s very significant,” he said of the garden’s pieces. “They’re all displayed in a very thoughtful manner. It’s not a random jumble. It’s all carefully placed.” Until the summer of 2012, however, neighborhood park activists didn’t realize that the garden was on cityowned land. As soon as they did, they mobilized to gain access to it and have since turned it into a thriving community hub in open space-starved Little Italy. As reported by The Villager last week, former Parks Commissioner
People enjoying the Elizabeth St. Garden on a weekend this past summer.
Adrian Benepe strongly supports saving the garden, describing its effect on the neighborhood as nothing short of “transformational.” Assemblymember Deborah Glick and state Senator Daniel Squadron also oppose the housing project at the site, saying the garden should be preserved. Meanwhile, City Councilmember Margaret Chin and the city are pushing for the housing. Reiver has been all for allowing public access to the garden, and is an enthusiastic supporter of turning the spot into permanent parkland, as advocated by Community Board 2. As for why he didn’t allow the public into the place before, he said the conditions weren’t right. “The front door to your home is not open to the public, either,” he noted. But once a group of volunteers emerged to run the garden as a public space, he got on board with the idea right away. “Now there was a group of volunteers,” he said. “Before, there was a question of liability, of kids falling over...vandalism. Not so much theft — it’s hard to steal 2,000-, 3,000-pound monuments. That people would be sleeping in there was a concern. “I planted trees and planted grass. But if the gates had been wide open, it would have been filled with garbage again in a week or two. It’s human nature. “Now the garden is open when volunteers are there to supervise it,” he said. “They maintain it, clean it, and it’s doing beautifully.” Reiver rents out the garden for a few events per year, usually two or three, such as weddings, he said. In 2005, he opened his gallery in a former firehouse adjacent to the garden.
Both the garden and gallery are “highly, highly curated,” he stressed. The gallery features objects like an old kayak skeleton and an early airplane. The garden’s official operating hours are Wednesday to Sunday,
noon to 6 p.m., but it’s been open more than that — whenever a volunteer decides to pick up a key at the gallery and open up the gate — he said. The garden will hold its third annuGARDEN continued on p. 27
PIER 26 AT N. MOORE ST. HUDSON RIVER PARK
NOON to 5PM
Magic, storytelling, face painting, cotton candy, rides and much more!
Costume Contest sponsored by
HALLOWEEN KIDZ KARNIVAL
SAT OCT 31 October 22, 2015
E.V. school kids are fuming over ’foam reversal STYROFOAM continued from p. 1
October 22, 2015
On the People’s Climate Movement Day of Action, Wed., Oct. 14, two volunteers carried the giant Styrofoam puppets up to Flatiron Plaza, where the out-of-control environment-destroying monsters turned against each other, as a woman tried to break up the clash.
PHOTO BY ATSUKO QUIRK
PHOTO BY YANNIC RACK
Cohen, the executive director of Cafeteria Culture, a grassroots organization that works in partnership with schools across the city. Cohen said the fifth-grade students at P.S. 34 in Alphabet City, among other area schools, had played a role in helping to achieve the unanimous City Council vote that banned the use of polystyrenes, more commonly known as Styrofoam, citywide. “There’s often a lack of art and environmental funding for those schools,” Cohen said. “So it’s very cool that the kids in this school helped us — they learned to be advocates and we held debates on whether polystyrene should be banned or not.” In November 2013, the fifth graders stood on the steps of City Hall with councilmembers from across the city, advocating for a ban with the help of giant puppets made out of Styrofoam food trays. The “data puppets,” so called because they visually show the massive amount of polystyrene products previously used in the schools, were built by community members young and old at the Sixth Street Community Center. “Our whole goal was to get people to laugh first and then go, ‘What is this?’ so we could give our elevator pitch,” Cohen said. The ban, which was proposed by former Mayor Mike Bloomberg and implemented by Mayor Bill de Blasio this July, was overturned in State Supreme Court on Sept. 22. Justice Margaret Chan, in her ruling, called the ban “arbitrary and capricious” and denied the city’s claim that recycling used polystyrene containers was neither environmentally effective nor economically feasible. The judge ordered the Department of Sanitation to reconsider the ban in light of a proposal by the Dart Container Corporation, one of the biggest manufacturers of plastic foam products for the food industry. Dart said that it would pay for better machines to clean and sort the material and keep most of it out of landfills. A group of manufacturers and recyclers, including the Restaurant Action Alliance, had sued the city in April to stop the ban, arguing that it was actually possible to recycle the containers and even save the city money in the process. Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia determined last December that the material was not recyclable. But Dart claims that it
A student from East Village Community School looking at the giant Styrofoam puppets in the Dinosaur Hill toy store window on E. Ninth St., their permanent home.
can recover more than 90 percent of the foam. In addition, a recycler in Indiana said he would buy the Styrofoam waste for the next five years. The judge accused the city of ignoring these options when making the decision to ban the material, but the mayor immediately announced that he was not backing down. “We disagree with the ruling,” a spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office wrote in a statement. “These
products cause real environmental harm, and we need to be able to prevent nearly 30,000 tons of expanded polystyrene waste from entering our landfills, streets and waterways. We are reviewing our options to keep the ban in effect.” The ban, passed in January and effective since July, includes a sixmonth grace period, so businesses would have until Jan. 1, 2016, to comply. After that, violations would
be punishable by fines, though the city says that for the first year it would only hand out warnings. Some proponents of the ban say that the court challenge comes too late anyway because the administration’s efforts already pushed the city’s businesses over the line. Ron Gonen, a former deputy sanitation commissioner, told Crain’s New STYROFOAM continued on p. 27 TheVillager.com
Preservationist slams plan as ‘wall of towers’ PIER 40 continued from p. 3
“I’m pushing for an affordable grocery store,” Johnson said, adding, “I do not want a big-box store as part of the project.” Said Madelyn Wils, the Trust’s president and C.E.O., “The Department of City Planning’s proposed Hudson River Park Special District will allow us to raise the funding needed to repair the piles at Pier 40 and keep this vital resource open for the community. This is a rare opportunity that we cannot miss. We look forward to working with the de Blasio administration, local elected officials and the community to secure the funding we need to move ahead with these critical repairs.” Tobi Bergman, chairperson of C.B. 2, said, “I want to thank Councilmember Corey Johnson for his leadership on behalf of the community. At long last we have a real opportunity to save the extraordinary park resource at Pier 40. At the same time and of equal importance, we finally have a project in our district that will help sustain the diversity that is integral to the social fabric of our community and our city.” Paul Kazilionis, C.E.O. of Westbrook Partners, said, “We couldn’t be happier to be working with our partners in government and in the community to help get Pier 40 repaired quickly and provide much-needed affordable housing for seniors and
families. We look forward to a public and transparent review process that will show we have created a plan that will transform the St. John’s Center — a building long considered an obstacle to the waterfront — from a barricade into a gateway.” However, Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, slammed the plan and its high-rise “wall of towers.” “It’s deeply concerning that the extremely controversial process of selling air rights from the Hudson River Park to increase development in our neighborhood is moving forward, while alternatives for funding the park which community groups have suggested have been ignored,” he said. “At the same time, the city has also turned a deaf ear to rezoning proposals in our neighborhood which would preserve the existing built environment while allowing opportunities for the creation of affordable housing, such as in the South Village and the University Place / Broadway corridors,” Berman said. “It’s difficult to understand why the city has refused to listen to pleas from this community to protect these areas from out-of-scale development and preserve the character of the neighborhood while allowing for the creation of affordable housing and generating income for the park, and has instead focused solely on plans like this, which would increase such development, in this case with a wall of towers along the waterfront.”
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Joe Budnick, 68, a mentor for singer-songwriters OBITUARIES BY ALBERT AMATEAU
FILE PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
he music scene in Washington Square Park lost a much-loved voice on Oct. 10 when Joe Budnick, who for 45 years led impromptu groups of singers and guitarists drawn to the park by his warmth and enthusiasm, died at the age of 68. Absent from his usual northeast corner of the park in recent weeks because he was hospitalized, Joe had heart problems since his youth and had undergone bypass surgery at one time, according to Skip Mitchell, a longtime friend. “I think his father had a heart condition and died when Joe was young. A brother died of heart disease, too,” Mitchell said. For the past two decades, Joe (Ernest Joseph Budnick) ran UMO.com, “The Official Site for Acoustic Music and Singing in Greenwich Village, USA since 1995.” He ran the site (UMO stands for Underground Music Online) while conducting open-mic sessions on Sundays during the winter at Bagott Inn, a Village venue that closed a few years ago, and later at Limerick House, a club in Chelsea that also closed. In 2003 and 2004 Joe produced CDs of “The 14 Best Singers and Songwriters of Greenwich Village,” compiled from a juried selection of open-mic performers. From April to November, Joe and his friends played and sang in the park, welcoming newcomers who often became regulars. It was strictly acoustic; Joe was a stickler for the park ban on amplified music and boom boxes. He didn’t like loud drumming, either. The emphasis was on “free.” Joe never solicited donations, but he vigorously solicited people to play and sing. “I have so many happy memories of Joe in the park,” said Lori Behrman, a singer and songwriter who performs at various clubs in Manhattan and Brooklyn. “He was an amazing, supportive person, encouraging my songwriting — nagging, actually. He was a good nagger,” Behrman said. “Joe hasn’t been in the park much over the past year since he’s been sick,” Behrman said. “He
Joe Budnick playing guitar in Washington Square Park in May 2011.
brought such positive energy to the park. It won’t be the same anymore.” Margie Rubin, a Village resident and regular at Joe Budnick’s Washington Square gatherings, recalled one Sunday-in-the-park session when about 175 people gathered round to listen. She also recalled being urged to sing, but resisted. “I was happy to be a listener,” Rubin said. Village park activist Sharon Woolums said it was Artie Stewart, a well-known Washington Square musician, who urged Budnick to start playing music in the park. “Joe had been very shy about it,” she said, “and Artie sort of pushed him onto the stage, and the rest is history.” Stewart died in April 2013. Joe’s death has been especially hard for Skip Mitchell. Joe was best man at Mitchell’s wedding 15 years ago. “Joe was always the life of the party. He loved people. We all became his friends — really fam-
ily,” said Mitchell, a songwriter and keyboard artist who has performed at various venues, including the old Village Gate. “Joe was a brother to me,” Mitchell added. Joe had worked as a tech employee of Salomon Brothers, the Wall St. firm. “He was involved in computers there in the 1970s,” Mitchell said. “I remember him telling me that computers would change the world one day. I told him it sounded like it would be a pretty cold world.” According to Mitchell, Joe was raised in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and moved to W. 14th St. more than 20 years ago. Joe met Susan Swingle, who later became his wife, while both were working at Salomon Brothers. She died in September. Mitchell and Lori Behrman plan a memorial service for Joe Budnick at a date and time to be announced.
Joe always enjoyed seeing other musicians shine BY B. STEWART
rnest J. Budnick, known to most of his friends as “Joe,” was a musician and a major presence to those who would frequent Washington Square Park. But he was also a man of many other talents and accomplishments. He was a writer (author of a book on business technology), a video producer (Bernard Friedman Video Rock — a cable music program that debuted around the same time as MTV), an entrepreneur (in the early 2000’s he hosted an open mic at the Baggot Inn on W. Third St. in Greenwich Village that led to the release of several compilation CDs by many of the artists who performed there). Joe was inquisitive,
October 22, 2015
well read and knowledgeable on a variety of subjects. As one friend put it, “He knew a lot of stuff.” “He was one of the kindest human beings that ever was,” said Bernard Friedman. Joe started playing in a band as a teenager in Brooklyn. He later went on to form groups — Full Moon being one — with various singers and musicians he met while hanging out in Washington Square Park. Another one of his groups, Just Friends, held a residency at the legendary Village Gate. An earlier incarnation of Just Friends recorded a 45 single, “Keep On Playing.” “We always had a lot of fun together...going out to different places, with Joe always being the upbeat,
sometimes goofy guy that made everyone around us laugh,” recalled Skip Mitchell, a singer with both Full Moon and Just Friends. In later years, Joe could be found playing in the park on any given day. He would always be inclusive and encouraging, welcoming other singers and musicians, beginners or professionals, to join in. He also loved to interact with both the tourists and local members of his audience — taking photos and posting them on his Web site at umo.com. “Joe had the unique quality of truly enjoying seeing other people shine, prosper and most importantly have fun,” said Lori Behrman. “It was largely because of his constant encouragement and nagging I start-
ed singing in Washington Square Park, started a band, played in clubs, and wrote songs. He instilled in me the importance of surrounding yourself with positive and life-affirming people, and that life was too short to spend unhappy and unfulfilled. Even though he’s gone, the lessons I learned from him will stay with me forever.” Joe had health issues for many years but they never hindered him from rocking out with exuberant performances to the delight of onlookers. On many occasions he would be asked by people who would stop and listen, if he played in the park often. His reply usually was “I’m here seven days a week.” He will always be here seven days a week. TheVillager.com
, “Dorothy Ryan, anti-demolition, ticle for the paper’s 75th anniversallager, recalled of the debate in an As Reed Ide, the then-editor of The rve both the young and the old. e as a recreational center that could enter on Sixth Ave. and W. 10th St. for r renovating the Women’s Detention In 1973, she was a strong advocate ew York University. e first teach-in against the war at ar. Dorothy also helped organize ace in 1961 to oppose the Vietnam he marched in the Women Strike for rious community-oriented issues. nvictions and being a champion for as known for having passionate olved at the grassroots level. She ildren, Dorothy was politically inIn the 1960s, while raising her three nd actors. me involved with a group of writers t. She and her husband, Paul, berly from Hartford, s at1950s a rally in her activist Connectiheyday. Dorothy came to the Village in the y family. eacefully in her sleep, surrounded e had lived since 2012. She died , in Dennis, Massachusetts, where wich Village, died on Sept. ist in 1960s and ’70s Greenorothy Ryan, a popular activ-
Y ALBERT AMATEAU
Dorothy Ryan, outspoken activist in ’60s, ’70s
orothy Ryan, a popular activist in 1960s and ’70s Greenwich Village, passed away on Sept. 30, in Dennis, Massachusetts, where she had lived since 2012. She died peacefully in her sleep, surrounded by family. She was 87. Dorothy came to the Village in the early 1950s from Hartford, Connecticut. She and her husband, Paul, became involved with a group of writers and actors. In the 1960s, while raising her three children, Dorothy was politically involved at the grassroots level. She was known for having passionate convictions and being a champion for various community-oriented issues. She marched in the Women Strike for Peace in 1961 to oppose the Vietnam War. Dorothy also helped organize the first teach-in against the war at New York University. In 1973, she was a strong advocate for renovating the Women’s Detention Center at Sixth and Greenwich Aves. for use as a recreational center that could serve both the young and the old. As Reed Ide, the then-editor of The Villager, recalled of the debate in an article for the paper’s 75th anniversary, “Dorothy Ryan, anti-dem-
However, members of the Manhatour senior citizens… .’ ” for desperately needed facilities for This building…can be put to good use nots” what they should not have!… continuously dictate to the “havethat the “haves” of Greenwich Village wrote to the editor, ‘It would seem
More than 300 children from the comLibrary to protest library budget cuts. Children’s March on Jefferson Market In 1975, Dorothy organized the turned into a community garden. It was eventually razed and the site tion sought to demolish the prison. tan borough president’s administra-
Dorothy Ryan speaking to TV news reporters at a rally in her activist heyday.
olition, wrote to the editor, ‘It would seem that the “haves” of Greenwich Village continuously dictate to the “have-nots” what they should not have!… This building…can be put to good use for desperately needed
facilities for our senior citizens… .’ ” However, members of the Manhattan borough president’s administration sought to demolish the prison. It was eventually razed and the site turned into a community garden. In 1975, Dorothy organized the Children’s March on Jefferson Market Library to protest library budget cuts. More than 300 children from the community participated. Fiercely independent, she helped form the New Village Democrats in 1978. The club later merged with the West Side Democratic Club to oppose Mayor Ed Koch’s Village Independent Democrats, who Dorothy believed catered to a small elite. Dorothy served three terms as president of Community School Board 2, from 1973 to 1981. She was also instrumental in helping to conceive and launch Mario Cuomo’s bid for mayor of New York City in 1977. In 1982, in a bold move, she ran against 12-year incumbent City Councilmember Carol Greitzer but lost. She had affiliations with the Chelsea-Village N.A.A.C.P, Friends of Public Libraries and Friends of Christopher Park. Dorothy did administrative work at the Children’s Aid Society from 1984 until she retired in 1998.
Told of Ryan’s death, former Villager editor Ide said, “Dorothy Ryan was one of the last surviving stalwarts of a now-vanished era, a time when no item that arose in the life of Greenwich Village was too small to be fiercely debated. She cared deeply about her neighborhood, about her community. She served both exceptionally well: as a citizen, and as a member of Community School Board 2. She sometimes found herself on the losing side, but that did not once stop her from expressing firmly, often eloquently, her concerns and opinions. I can still hear her tempered anger in the debate over the Women’s House of Detention. I have lost an old friend. Greenwich Village has lost a lover. When we seem to need it most, we have all lost a valued citizen’s voice.” She is survived by her daughters, Suzanne Ryan of Dennis, Mass., and Bronwyn Ryan of New York City, and a son, Connolly Ryan, and daughter-in-law, Maryellen, of Florence, Mass. She is also survived by three grandchildren, Charlie, 13, and Sarah and Phoebe, both 11. Dorothy was predeceased by her husband, Paul Ryan, who died in 2011.
who died in 2011. ceased by her husband, Paul Ryan, Phoebe, both 11. Dorothy was predechildren, Charlie, 13, and Sarah and She is also survived by three grandin-law, Maryellen, of Florence, Mass. a son, Connolly Ryan, and daughterBronwyn Ryan of New York City, and Suzanne Ryan of Dennis, Mass., and She is survived by her daughters, until she retired in 1998. the Children’s Aid Society from 1984 Dorothy did administrative work at pher Park. lic Libraries and Friends of Christosea-Village N.A.A.C.P, Friends of PubShe had affiliations with the Chelcilmember Carol Greitzer, but lost. against 12-year incumbent City CounIn 1982, in a bold move, she ran of New York City in 1977. launch Mario Cuomo’s bid for mayor strumental in helping to conceive and from 1973 to 1981. She was also inident of Community School Board 2, Dorothy served three terms as prestered to a small elite. Democrats, who Dorothy believed caMayor Ed Koch’s Village Independent West Side Democratic Club to oppose 1978. The club later merged with the form the New Village Democrats in Fiercely independent, she helped munity participated.
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October 22, 2015
You’re it! Trying to save vanishing childhood play RHYMES WITH CRAZY BY LENORE SKENAZY
ince lately there’s almost no aspect of childhood that isn’t bewailed, it should come as no surprise that the existence of “recess consultants” is evidence to many that the apocalypse is at hand. But it isn’t. Despite articles, editorials and tweets like, “Oh good dear sweet God in heaven, save us from ourselves,” the consultants do not strike me as helicoptering killjoys. And I say that as the founder of FreeRange Kids, the entire movement devoted to more freedom and less adult supervision of kids. How does that square with a program that places young adults outside at recesses across the country — including 30 schools in New York State — teaching kids how to play some age-old games? It is because I think of Playworks, which trains and provides these con-
sultants, as something akin to Lady Bird Johnson. What? Lady Bird Johnson was President Lyndon Johnson’s wife and she had a pet cause: wildflowers. Thanks to development and pollution, these were dying out. So she set about deliberately planting some of the wildflowers that were disappearing. In other words, she used completely artificial means to bring back the natural landscape. That’s what the Playworks coaches are doing. They are artificially reviving a natural part of childhood that has been dying out: playing. I have no idea who taught me kickball as a kid. But there was a game of it in front of my suburban house every night, so I just kind of absorbed it. Who taught me four square? Hopscotch? Jacks? Chinese jump rope? Who taught me “Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack – All dressed in black, black, black?” Or even the double-Dutch rhyme, “Cinderella, dressed in yella – Went downtown to meet her fella – On the way her girdle busted – How many people were disgusted?” I may be middle-aged, but even when I was a kid, girdles were on their way out. Way out. Which means that the rhymes I was learning came from long ago, handed down older sister to
younger, to neighbor, to kid down the block. Until there were no kids playing on the block anymore. One recent study found that the number of kids age 9 to 13 playing outside, unsupervised, for even one hour a week is 6 percent. The number of kids walking to school is about 11 percent. So all those games, rules and songs we learned by osmosis are not being learned by an entire generation of kids. We may like to think of play as innate, but what’s innate is the desire to play. It isn’t innate to come up with the rules of four square, or a rhyme about a wardrobe malfunction. Those are things handed down from generation to generation. Enter the Playworks coaches. They are trying to bring back childhood games because those games were not coming back on their own. I was invited to a Playworks conference at Columbia a few years back, because I, too, had ridiculed them. Then the organization’s founder, Jill Vialet, told her story. She’d come to an Oakland, California, school to talk about starting an art program. But when the principal emerged from her office trailed by three 9-yearold boys who looked like they’d just
been chewed out, she snapped at Jill, “You know what I really need? I need someone to fix recess.” Too many of the kids weren’t playing. With no experience in organizing their own games, or solving the inevitable conflicts, the kids resorted to an even more basic behavior: They walloped each other. And got in trouble. So Jill decided to see if she could bring back some of her childhood — the fun she’d had playing every day after school. Lady Bird re-seeded the hills with wildflowers. Playworks is trying to reseed the playgrounds with joy. Their goal is to let the kids take over, once they learn some games, and some quick techniques for solving conflicts, like “Rock-Paper-Scissors.” As far as I can tell, Playworks is not about micromanaging recess, or forcing participation, or insisting, “Everybody wins!” It’s about giving kids back that precious thing we took away from them: time with their friends outside, on their own, learning games as old as girdles. And probably older. Skenazy is a keynote speaker and author and founder of the book and blog “FreeRange Kids”
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Amen, Rev. Jen!
McD egg pledge a small step
To The Editor: Re “Rev. Jen: Straight outta Bellevue” (arts article, Oct. 15): I was wondering just exactly what was happening with you. Thank you for sharing such personal stuff in a painfully witty and honest way. But after all, that is your thing, Ms. Miller, and the reason I am one of so many people that feel a kinship and admiration for you, despite never having met.
To The Editor: McDonald’s recent pledge to start using cagefree eggs is only a small step in preventing the staggering suffering endured by millions of birds. Hatcheries that annually supply 200 million female hens for U.S. egg production, including cage-free, also kill the same number of male chicks at birth by grinding them up alive in industrial macerators or suffocating them slowly in plastic garbage bags. The female laying hens endure a lifetime of misery, crammed with five to
John Jude Ragazzo
six others in small wire-mesh cages that cut into their feet and tear out their feathers. Eggs are common carriers of food-borne bacteria, including salmonella, campylobacter, listeria, and staphylococcus. The U.S.D.A. estimates that salmonella alone accounts for 1.3 million U.S. illnesses and 500 deaths annually. Eggs contain saturated fat and cholesterol, key factors in incidence of heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. They are a common cause of allergies in children. Waste from millions of egg-laying hens ends up in waterways, rendering vast areas unsuitable for recreation or water supply. The good news for compassionate, health-conscious, eco-friendly consumers is that our local supermarkets offer a number of delicious egg substitutes and egg-free food products. Entering “eggfree” in a search engine returns tons of recipes. Nelson Yancy
E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to email@example.com or fax to 212-2292790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.
October 22, 2015
Me and Sandy Koufax...and Mom’s squeeze play NOTEBOOK BY HARRY PINCUS
iewers of the Mets’ delicious triumph over the Dodgers last week were treated to the apparition of an old man with suspenders, wearing a “Brooklyn” cap, seated behind home plate. It was clearly Larry King, the retired eminence of CNN. Don Newcombe, the great old Dodger pitcher, was also there, but 87-year old announcer Vin Scully was temporarily missing in action for a medical “procedure.” The cameras also sent a flash of the great Sandy Koufax, seated in a box. These men had all journeyed from Ebbets Field in old Flatbush to the sunny palms of Chavez Ravine. Before Brooklyn was cool, it was great. I was a very minor player amidst this greatness, just an awkward Jewish kid with orthopedic shoes, a Sluggo haircut and two parents who couldn’t behave in public. They’d only had one fight. It had begun long before I was born, and lasted into eternity. As Jackie Mason used to say…“If he said one more woid… .” Nobody knew what that word was. I also had the kind of plastic eyeglasses currently favored by hipsters, but they burdened me, and I refused to wear them. This was no help for my remarkably poor athletic abilities. My father, Irving, a free-thinking subway conductor and avid handball player, loved the Dodgers with all his heart...and suggested that the only position I was capable of playing in the Little League was “left out.” Sandy Koufax was my prince and my inspiration. As a kindergartener at P.S. 221, I had seen the lights of Ebbets Field aglow down the Empire Boulevard, just before they faded forever. Koufax too had played at the Parade Grounds and kept the faith on Yom Kippur. Now he was the Greatest Pitcher on the Planet! If Sandy Koufax could do it, couldn’t I rise up in the world and at least do something? During the ’63 World Series, when I was 11, I read in the New York Post that the Dodgers were staying at the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown. Someone had smuggled a little transistor radio into our sixth-grade class, in hopes that our inspired teacher, Mr. Salz, would allow us a bit of leeway. Sure enough, Koufax broke all records that day, striking out 15 Yankees in the World Series! I must have floated home, and later that afternoon, actually summoned the audacity to call the desk at the Roosevelt TheVillager.com
“The Brooklyn Boy,” self-portrait, by Harry Pincus.
Hotel to ask to speak to my hero. “I’m his cousin, from Brooklyn,” I lied. Within seconds, a deep and refined voice answered. “Mr. Koufax,” I squealed, “I’m Harry Pincus from Brooklyn, and I play with the Lincoln Pennies at the Parade Grounds, and you are my greatest hero!” “Well, thank you, Harry,” said my hero. “I used to play at the Parade Grounds, too.” The most sensational pitcher of all time had just struck out 15 Yanks in the Series, and he sounded as if he had all the time in the world for me. Before I could even believe it, the spell was broken. My mother, Blanche, sometimes described as the Jewish Mother from Central Casting, had picked up the extension. “Mr. Koufax,” said Blanche, “I’m Harry’s mother, and you’re doing a real mitzvah talking to my son.” A mitzvah is a blessing, but I knew and dreaded where this was going. “Mr. Koufax, Harry is a disturbed child because his father, Irving, has quit the job as my husband, to run off with kauvres and bummakes!” (Yiddish for whores and bad ladies).
OH NO! THERE SHE GOES AGAIN! NOT TO SANDY KOUFAX! “Well, Mrs. Pincus, Harry sounds like a very fine young man to me,” said Sandy “and I hope he’ll call me again when we’re in New York.” But, après Blanche, I never did. Years later, on the old “Tonight Show,” Johnny Carson asked Buddy Hackett if Brooklyn had really been as great as they say. “Of course it was,” said the great comedian. “I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but I actually babysat Sandy Koufax! Yeah, we lived in the same building, and his name then was Braun. His parents were divorced, and his mother hadn’t yet met that nice Irving Koufax.” It occurred to me then that my call from Brooklyn must have seemed ironic for Koufax, as he sat on top of the world after striking out all of those Yanks in the Series. Many years later, after our neighborhood had been attacked on my son’s second day of preschool, I was hustling my family angrily down Sixth Avenue following a rather desultory parent-teacher conference at P.S. 41. My usually lovable son, Isaac, by then in second grade, had encountered a teacher who didn’t quite ap-
preciate his sense of humor. I don’t usually notice men’s legs, but there were two locomotive jackhammers walking toward me, attached to a powerful older man with gleaming white hair. The man was attached to a younger blonde. KOUFAX!!! My wife thought I was suddenly yelling at someone, or having a fight. In fact, I had instantly reverted to my 11-year-old self, and ran after my hero, yelling, “Mr. Koufax, Mr. Koufax... I called you after you struck out 15 Yanks in the World Series and you were so kind to me!” The impressive gent with the young blonde in tow didn’t so much as break stride. “I don’t know who you’re talking about,” he said. “But you had just struck out 15 Yanks in the Series, and I called you in your hotel room... .” “I don’t know who you’re talking about,” he repeated, somewhat slyly. He just looked straight ahead and kept on with enormous strides. It was surreal, as if I had just met George Washington and he had denied being George Washington. I realized that Koufax wasn’t going to stop, or even look at me. He certainly wasn’t going to admit to his real identity as Superman. In a modern world of stalkers, lawyers, geeks, creeps, sports agents, media hounds, paparazzi and professional “fans,” there were no telephone booths to be found. My great Jewish Hero was going to remain Clark Kent. I wanted to salvage the debacle by complimenting him...wink wink, nudge nudge, in front of his girlfriend. “You’re still my hero, and you’ll always be my hero,” I said as he stopped for the light. He looked at me out of the corner of his eye, as a slight grin crossed his lips. Sandy Koufax then strode purposefully across Waverly Place. It seemed like an unacceptable conclusion. A bad Hollywood ending. Had the world changed so much? This year, the High Holy days of the Jewish religion arrived with sad news. My friend’s brother, the founder of an avant-garde record label, had passed away, and I was on my way to attend his memorial on 14th Street. I trudged up Sixth Avenue, dreading everything, especially my friend’s grief. In the bright sunlight, a halo of white hair caught my eye. It was Koufax. I quietly walked over, and wished him a Happy New Year. We shook hands as if we were old friends, and walked off into the setting sun. Pincus is an award-winning illustrator and fine artist. He lives in Soho. October 22, 2015
The East Village is home; I want to improve it TALKING POINT
over managing that property, open violations have fallen by 70 percent. For those tenants who remain skeptical of our management, we are continuing to work with them to ensure that every issue they are facing is resolved. As evidence of my commitment to the East Village and its community, I acquired an additional 16 properties last month and have received very encouraging feedback from the tenants. By having an open dialogue, my team is in a better position to provide superior tenant-relations services. My plans for these buildings are simple. We want to renovate the apartments and common areas, improve the outward appearance and take suggestions from tenants for how to make the East Village the ultimate live / work / play community. Beyond that, we are committed to making meaningful contributions to improve the welfare of the community. I have been engaged with a number of organizations to fi nd out what we can do to help, and I look forward to announcing new partnerships in the next few weeks. But in the meantime, what you need to know is that my company is here to make the East Village a better place. My team is taking the time to get to know our neighbors, and we invite all of you to get to know us. I know that you will fi nd we are here for the right reasons.
BY RAPHAEL TOLEDANO
ver the last year, I have had the incredible good fortune to take an ownership stake in a number of residential and commercial buildings in the East Village. The reason I chose to grow my business in this beautiful neighborhood is simple: I believe in the East Village. I am not here to transform this community, rather I am determined to become a part of the fabric of the neighborhood that so many wonderful New Yorkers call home. As a business owner I learned early on that treating customers â€” in my case, tenants â€” with respect and decency is most important in order to gain their trust. Over the last few months, Iâ€™ve had the pleasure of getting to know my new tenants in this community and it has been an extremely rewarding experience. By understanding their needs and concerns, I will be able to form a personal bond with the residents and better serve them. There are always going to be doubters and cynics, people who wonder what my motivations are. But I invite you to look at my track record. Recent press reports about one of the buildings I acquired, 444 E. 13th St., do not paint an accurate picture of the effort I have made to work with residents. In the last four months since I took
Last month, Raphael Toledano, above, purchased a portfolio of 16 East Village buildings for $97 million.
Toledano is president and founder, Brookhill Properties
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October 22, 2015
Haunted by Houses
Night and day, odd occurrences at Merchant’s House and Bartow-Pell BY SCOTT STIFFLER
COURTESY MERCHANT’S HOUSE MUSEUM
n the dark and stormy pages of fiction; in movies, when heirs to a fortune must brave a creepy old mansion from dusk to dawn; and on TV shows whose jumpy investigators wear infrared goggles as they navigate narrow catacombs: these are the scenarios popular culture tells us are necessary to have a paranormal encounter. But why would a spirit need, or even want, to wait until the sun goes down in order to materialize? That witches’ brew of nighttime shadows and nervous tension says more about our own fleshly insecurities than it does about the world that awaits us when we draw our last breath and give up the ghost. Rest assured, strange things do happen in the stark light of day — and year-round, at two of New York’s most lovingly preserved, historically significant homes, you can roam the grounds, climb the stairs, and quite possibly join the ranks of those who are confident they’ve seen, heard, or spoken with the dead.
MERCHANT’S HOUSE MUSEUM
In 1835, having made his fortune as a NYC hardware merchant, patriarch Seabury Tredwell moved his brood to a lavishly decorated, recently built row house in the swanky Bond Street neighborhood. Over the next nearly 100 years, dozens of family members and Irish servants would live at 29 East Fourth Street. Along the way, eight family members died in the house, including spinster daughter Gertrude (18401933). The youngest Tredwell child TheVillager.com
Members of the Tredwell family lived here over a period of 100 years. Some say they never left.
shuffled off her mortal coil while occupying the very same bed she was born in — also where Seabury met his maker in 1865. First opened in 1935, the Merchant’s House Museum remains accessible to
the public five days a week. Self-guided tours afford history buffs and paranormal enthusiasts the opportunity to walk among the furniture, artwork, clothing, tools, and everyday items that have been here since the mid-19th
century — along with, many believe, former residents whose lack of a pulse doesn’t stop them from making playful, protective, or sociable appearances. “It’s safe to say that each year we average roughly a half-dozen documented reports of occurrences to staff, workers, or visitors,” says board member Anthony Bellov, whose inexplicable experiences are among the “over one hundred reported incidents [during the course of the Museum’s life], since we started seriously archiving them about fifteen years ago.” One of the most-witnessed sightings in Merchant’s House history, which you can hear about on their upcoming Ghost Tour (and can read about in Bellov’s “Some Say They Never Left” gift shop booklet), took place in broad daylight — and makes a convincing argument for the notion that certain Tredwell family members didn’t fly the nest once they crossed over. “It’s a very famous story involving neighborhood children playing in front of the House,” Bellov says of the 1933 summertime incident. “Gertrude came rushing out the front door to chase them away. Many neighborhood people saw it, and the long-timers on the block all recognized Gertrude. The only problem is, Gertrude had been dead for several weeks at that point.” Another daytime incident, this one from 1995, was reported by a visitor who had a top position in the NYS Judicial Department. Unaware of the building’s haunted reputation, she gave an account of a tattered and musty gentleman who engaged her in conversation, upstairs, while they perused old family objects in a display case. “He spoke at length about what it was like to live in the house,” Bellov HAUNTED HOUSE continued on p. 18 October 22, 2015
Where history comes alive, the dead may roam HAUNTED HOUSE continued from p. 17
October 22, 2015
COURTESY BARTOW-PELL MANSION MUSEUM
recalls of the eyewitness account. “She turned away from him for just a moment, and he was gone.” Minutes later, there was another sighting on the main floor — where he told her to come back for another visit. Presented with a book of photos after reporting the event to staff members, the woman identified her new acquaintance as black sheep son Samuel Tredwell (1825-1917). Although sightings of head-to-toe apparitions are rare, even by Merchant’s House standards, plenty of other odd and possibly otherworldly incidents take place — so many, in fact, that Bellov says “almost everyone involved with the Museum has had at least one unexplainable thing happen to them. The noteworthy thing is that people have experiences separated by several decades that are identical in every way.” Those experiences include hearing phantom notes from a piano that long ago ceased to function, and the sound of light snoring coming from a sofa (incidents taking place in the front Greek Revival parlor — replete with Tredwell family furnishings, some of which date back to before Gertrude was born). The Grecian sofa, notes Bellov, is now in the downstairs family room, where “there have been no further reports of invisible nappers.” Are these occurrences merely sounds once made in the house, that play on a loop and can be perceived when the certain atmospheric or psychological conditions are just right? If so, that in and of itself is pretty impressive proof of…well, something beyond what we experience in day-to-day life. And how, then, to explain how several people can be in a room, yet only some will be certain that they see, smell, or hear things? Such events took place with startling regularity during monthly visits throughout 2011 by the Sturges Paranormal team of veteran investigators, uninformed newbies, certified mediums, and this curious but sometimes less than brave reporter — who, in addition to finding similarities in the team’s accounts (during post-investigation one-on-one interviews), logged hundreds of “hits” on TriField Natural EMF (electromagnetic field) Meters. EMF fluctuations often corresponded with requests that any “spirit” present manipulate the device, via “once for yes, twice for no” responses to questions. Many times over the course of the year-long investigation, this reporter observed positive responses to the team’s request that anyone (or anything) present but not observable travel from meter to meter, thereby eliciting the buzzing sound that indicates a fluc-
The living aren’t the only ones free to walk around the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum.
tuation (three meters were typically placed in various locations around the room we were in). Proof of a sentient, otherworldly force interacting with us? No. But another possible explanation, that investigators themselves cause EMF meters to move by a psychic extension of wishful thinking, is every bit as provocative. Also experienced by some — but not all — of the group (five or six at any given time), as we were within feet of each other: a strong scent of tobacco in the bedroom of Seabury Tredwell, and disembodied Christmas carolers who were heard in the front parlor, accompanying the living. Discovered on audio or video upon leaving the house were bells, voices, and footsteps (most of which were not heard at the time of the recordings). Two investigators (Bellov and a purported psychic) both described, in their exit interviews, the same blue mist snaking its way down the staircase — at the top of which a family member is believed to have tumbled, sustaining injuries that would soon cause her death. The official Merchant’s House take on all of this, says Bellov (who was present during all of the Sturges investigations): “We’ll never say the Museum is haunted until we have actual, incontrovertible proof, whatever that may wind up being. All we can say is, ‘Strange things we can’t explain happen here very often.’ If it’s the Tredwells, we’re happy they’re still watching over their home, and we hope they approve of our own efforts to preserve it for future New Yorkers.” Tidbit-packed guidebook in hand, you can tour the house and court your own daytime encounter with the Tredwells or their servants — or take your chances during one of the atmospheric Candlelight Ghost Tours, during which
many have reported brushes and tugs while surrounded by nothing but thin air. With the house decorated in 1865 funeral parlor chic (black crepe, coffin in the parlor, mourning attire on display), living history will come back to haunt you, as the guides give a roomby-room rundown of ghostly encounters through the years. The 50-minute tours begin every half hour, 6:30–9:30 p.m. on Oct. 23–24 and 28–30. Prices vary ($25-$35) according to tour time and a “Super-Spooky” option that includes a visit to the fourth floor servants’ quarters. For reservations (required) and more info on the Oct. 24 “Parlor to Grave” funeral reenactment/graveyard procession and a Halloween night dramatic reading of Gothic literature, visit merchantshouse.org or call 212-777-1089. Open Thurs.–Mon., noon–5 p.m. Admission is $10 ($5 for students & seniors, free for children under 12). Merchant’s House Museum is located at 29 E. Fourth St. (btw. Lafayette & Bowery).
THE BARTOW-PELL MANSION MUSEUM Constructed over an eight-year period beginning in 1836 in order to accommodate the family of Thomas Pell (then an English doctor from Connecticut), the Grecian-style stone Bartow-Pell Mansion and the 220-acre estate it sits on opened to the public in 1946 — providing a rare glimpse into upscale 19th century country life in the Pelham Bay Park area. Many of its original occupants are still on site, in a graveyard filled with the remains of six Pell family members. Visitors can tour the garden and grounds, and explore the house (either on their own, or on guided tours). Either way, you might not want to go it
solo — unless you have the intellectual curiosity and intestinal fortitude to find out what it’s like to be “alone” when you get the distinct feeling that you’re being watched, followed, or brushed up against (all things experienced by the public as well as staff members). In her decade at Bartow-Pell (first as a volunteer, then as Education Director and Curator), Margaret Highland can’t claim an unexplained encounter of her own — but she’s heard the stories. The upstairs, she notes, is prime real estate for paranormal occurrences. “When Dan [Sturges, of Sturges Paranormal] was in the bed chamber of George Bartow,” Highland recalls, “one of the psychics said he [George] had a disappointment in love.” Later, in a sound bite not heard by the group at the time, “Dan’s [tape] recorder picked up a voice saying it wasn’t the girls’ fault. The psychic said that George’s fiancée broke off their engagement.” In addition to sightings of a child’s ghost on the third floor (described similarly by witnesses through the years), indentations are frequently discovered on the Lannuier bed. Highland, who has seen them, speculates that it’s “probably the down settling, but who knows?” When Sturges asked the person responsible for sitting on the bed to identify themselves, he “picked up a voice that sounded like ‘Nathan Walker.’ We don’t know who he was, but we do have a piece of [19th century] embroidery made by an Abigail Walker.” Elsewhere in the Mansion, music, (absent the presence of instruments) has been heard, and “a tour guide thought he saw a person in a long skirt disappearing quickly,” Highland says, adding that others “have heard footsteps in the attic when we knew nobody was up there.” Short of claiming that the Bartow-Pell Mansion is haunted, Highland doesn’t hesitate to supply this explanation: “What I say is, ‘Anything’s possible.’ ” A “Cemetery Walk and Tombstone Talk” will take place on Thurs., Oct. 29, at 6 p.m. — first, with a candlelit trek to the Pell Cemetery, then inside for a lecture by tombstone expert and carver Robert Neal Carpenter. Cost: $20 ($15 for seniors and students). Registration required. The garden and grounds are open daily from 8:30 a.m. to dusk (free). Mansion hours are Wed., Sat. & Sun., noon–4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors & students, free for children under six. At 895 Shore Road, Pelham Bay Park, The Bronx. Call 718-885-1461 or visit bartowpellmansionmuseum.org. TheVillager.com
Poe Cottage is a Bronx trip worth pondering He of limitless imagination was a man of modest means BY TRAV S.D.
COURTESY HISTORIC HOUSE TRUST
’ve only lived in New York for over 25 years — without ever getting around to visiting the Edgar Allen Poe Cottage, the home of one of my favorite writers. New Yorkers, you know the reason why. All together: “It’s in the Bronx!” Not because the Bronx is bad, but because it is far. From my house in Brooklyn, it’s nearly two hours away. It takes longer to get there than it takes to tour the museum. One strategy is to double your trip up with another nearby destination. I bundled my recent visit up there with a stop at the star-studded Woodlawn Cemetery. I highly recommend it. New York is one of four cities which have a Poe House Museum — the others being Philadelphia, Baltimore and Richmond. I intend to visit them all. The Edgar Allen Poe Cottage is maintained by the Bronx Historical Society. It’s where Poe lived and wrote from 1846 through his death in 1849, along with his child bride Virginia Clemm and her mother (who also happened to be his aunt — you do the math). Sadly, Virginia only lived there for a few weeks. Stricken with T.B., she perished on the premises. The bed where she expired is on view at the Poe Cottage. Most of the furniture, while historically appropriate, wasn’t part of the house when Poe lived there. Poe only outlived his wife by less than three years. It’s safe to say he never ceased mourning. A lot of his time was spent wandering around the still-rural Bronx, traipsing the High Bridge, and walking to Fordham (then St. John’s College) to rap with the Jesuit priests. It’s melancholy to contemplate. His modest house was surely the farthest thing from a distraction — more like the lifestyle of
This cottage in the Bronx is where Poe lived and wrote from 1846 through his death in 1849.
a monk. (Yes, I know this was Poe — a certain amount of his time was no doubt spent at taverns!) Still, I found the little cottage surprisingly bright and cheery, although I happened to be there on a bright, sunny Sunday afternoon. But if you go there at night, who knows? There could be ghosts. The tour guide at the little museum was terrific: enthusiastic, animated and knowledgeable. Much of what I’ve already included in this article came from him. He also pointed out some other cool stuff:
• An ironic newspaper clipping announcing Poe’s intention to start a new literary publication, The Stylus. The clip was from Oct. 7, 1849, the day Poe died while on a speaking tour in Baltimore.
The Edgar Allan Poe Cottage is owned by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, and operated by The Bronx County Historical Society, and is a member of the Historic House Trust. Hours: Thurs.–Fri. 10 a.m.–3 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sun. 1 p.m.–5 p.m. Admission: $5 ($3 for students, seniors, children). Visit bronxhistoricalsociety.org and historichousetrust.org.
• A mysterious blemish in a period mirror in the shape of, I dare say, a raven. • The house’s last remaining original pane of glass. Believe it or not, it’s fascinating, and the difference is noticeable (older glass is much less uniform and sheer, and full of swirls).
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Fans of Poe’s writing will be interested to know that this is the house where he wrote the poem “Annabelle Lee,” about his deceased bride, and the impressionistic short story “Landor’s Cottage,” which some critics think may have been partially inspired by his home in the Bronx. Above all, your main takeaway is that this man of limitless imagination, this national treasure, was a man of very modest means, and that is instructive. It’s been said that Poe was one of the first Americans ever to make his living entirely from writing. He was clearly just about able to eke it out. Support your artists while they live, ladies and gentlemen! That is the lesson I draw from the Poe Cottage.
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October 22, 2015
What makes a pumpkin patch worthy?
Schulz knows the struggle for sincerity ain’t just peanuts BY MAX BURBANK
IMDB/UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE INC.
n October 27, 1966, CBS debuted an animated family Halloween special based on Charles M. Schulz’s syndicated newspaper comic strip, “Peanuts.” While seemingly a children’s cartoon, the themes on display were disappointment, alienation, neurosis, delusion, and despair. These were concerns Schulz gnawed over daily for decades on the “funny” pages of our nation’s newspapers — but here, they crystallized to a razor sharpness that still cuts as cleanly and deeply as the first time it was unsheathed. We watch it annually — and so, by repetition, we are desensitized to the childhood horror which is the true subject matter of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” The story is made up of three character arcs: the events of a single Halloween night and following morning as experienced by Linus Van Pelt, Charlie Brown and his dog, Snoopy. In this essay, I will examine each arc, arriving at some semblance of what Schulz intended to convey through the narrative.
Is Linus engaging in a culturally sponsored make-believe, or does Schulz intend us to see him as actively delusional?
October 22, 2015
IMDB/UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE INC.
Is Linus clinically insane? Certainly he is neurotic. He sucks his thumb, he carries a blanket, he is sickened by the Freudian image of his sister gutting a Pumpkin. These almost Ibsen-esque weaknesses are taken as given, but does his belief in the “Great Pumpkin” indicate a diagnosable delusional state? How does Schulz intend us to see this? There are several distinct possibilities. Certainly, the Great Pumpkin is a parody of Santa Claus. Millions of children believe in a magical being in a flying sled, bringing an impossible number of gifts to an impossible number of people in a single night. Since this is a culturally endorsed myth, children are encouraged to engage with it, and so the question of mental health never arises. Here, though, Schulz grafts a similarly bizarre myth onto Halloween. Every year the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch, then finds the most “sincere,” and flies through the air delivering toys to good boys and girls. But beyond removing the Santa myth from its usual context to illustrate its absurdity, what do we make of this? In Schulz’s universe, has Linus
did not come because he allowed himself an instant of doubt, saying “if” the Great Pumpkin comes instead of “when.” This hairline crack in his perfect faith is all it takes for him to be cast out, and it is here he is found and taken in late that night by his sister. This would seem comforting, but think: where are his parents? It is Halloween night and their child has not returned home, and is in fact sleeping alone outdoors. Where are the police? Where is the amber alert? No. It falls to his sibling, a child herself, to care for him. In Schulz’s universe, any appeal for adult succor goes unanswered. They exist, but are always unseen and non-functional. Producer Bill Melendez exploits this alienation to advantage, by rendering adult voices as unintelligible bleats on a muted trumpet.
The use of Charlie Brown’s head as a model for a Jack O’Lantern is a concrete demonstration that he’s a non-person.
created the Great Pumpkin myth himself? Does he assume that since Christmas has Santa, Halloween must have something similar? Are we to believe the practice of writing to, and waiting for, the Great Pumpkin — while rare compared with the practice of trick-or-treating — is recognized? Is Linus engaging in a culturally sponsored make-believe (like Santa), or does Schulz intend us to see him as actively delusional? If yes, his need to drag others into his belief system is disturbing. Linus exploits young Sally Brown’s crush on him and tries to indoctrinate her into the quasi-religious practice of waiting for the
Great Pumpkin. She, in turn, personifies childhood’s fear of societal rejection. By believing in him, she has opened herself to ridicule, and missed the group affirmation of tricks or treats. Initially she offers her love, but this is soon replaced with blame and threats. Their status quo now completely reversed, Linus’s final emasculation comes in the form of a fainting spell when he believes he is having a religious experience and is witnessing the arrival of a god, but is in fact merely looking at a dog. He will lie on the ground, alone and unloved, convinced of his own unworthiness. The Great Pumpkin
Charlie Brown, initially elated at having been invited to a Halloween party, is soon informed the invitation is a mistake. Not content to leave his alter ego isolated by simple exclusion, Schulz makes his singularity public through the ruse of a further mistake — his costume, a bed-sheet ghost with multiple eyeholes. A self-inflicted wound, he had trouble with the scissors. On a second level, as eyes are seen in literature as the “windows of the soul,” Brown has externalized his vulnerability. His soul is raw, open, unprotected. Compare his shame to Pigpen. Similarly individualized by his omnipresent cloud of filth, his pride and obvious self-esteem serve to cast Brown’s self-loathing in high relief. It is while trick-or-treating, however, that we see the true depth of Brown’s predicament. At each stop, as the costumed children describe their treats we learn Brown has received a rock instead of candy. What conclusions is Schulz inviting us to draw with these rocks? Are we to assume that the unseen, unreachable adults recognize Brown’s innate lack of human worth? Or is the universe itself casting him out? Does candy undergo a miracle of reverse transubstantiation, passing from food (the stuff of life) to rock (un-life) inside his trick-or-treat bag? Whereas Linus believes he is punished for sin and weakness, Brown is punished simply for existing. CHARLIE continued on p. 21 TheVillager.com
Blood Manor delivers classic scares and a sense of humor The haunted house institution continues its winning streak BY SEAN EGAN
PHOTO BY BPS PRODUCTIONS, COURTESY BLOOD MANOR
hen it comes to haunted houses, Blood Manor is one of the oldest games in town — and, barring the year-round tourist trap, Times Scare, might be the only game of its kind in Manhattan this year. This season, after more than a decade, the folks behind Blood Manor have doubled down on their winning formula. Blood Manor has always stood out for its broad appeal, never leaning on the extreme, oppressive tactics that have recently been in vogue for horror attractions. Indeed, its well-lit halls are open to teens as young as 14 by themselves, and rely mostly on creatively icky props and set designs, and ol’ reliable jump scares (though you’re guaranteed not to be touched by the actors). This year they deliver all that is expected of their (not quite) family-friendly, creepily campy, bloodsoaked brand. Individuals brave enough to enter the attraction will forge their way through with a group, on an approximately 20-minute tour of the Manor. The tenants of this (presumably rent-controlled) Manor include horror stalwarts such as killer clowns, mad scientists, chainsaw wielding psychos, and even demonic strippers. Almost all of these rooms are self-contained, so what it lacks in sustained tension and unity, it makes up for in variety. They’ve smartly kept some of their best set pieces this time around, including a disturbing butcher shop, and a demon carnival maze, rendered in delightfully headache-inducing neon colors (enhanced by the use of 3D glasses). One of Blood Manor’s strongest suits is its sense of humor, which is prominently on display. Whether it be the loopy, darkly humorous visual of a vivisected gorilla tied up and thrashing around, or a flamboyant actor warning you at the onset of the tour that you’ll have your “soul ripped out through your sphincter” if caught using cell phones during the visit, the Blood Man-
Blood Manor delivers all that is expected of their (not quite) family-friendly, creepily campy, blood-soaked brand.
or crew recognize the value of eliciting laughs as well as screams. Much of the credit for making the humor and scares work well goes to the actors (though the production design is also great and gorgeously gory throughout). They’re quick on their feet and witty, which helps to lend the whole production an infectious, energetic edge. It’s hard not to crack a smile after every jump scare when it’s clear that underneath all the makeup and prosthetics, the actors are having a blast digging into their dark and demented characters. Their commitment to their roles throughout is admirable, and the experience is all the better for it. Overall, it’s not incredibly scary — more jaded
thrill-seekers should definitely look elsewhere for their kicks — but maybe it’s better this way. It’s got enough gory and goofy tricks up its sleeve to make traipsing through the house engaging and lively — and as a fun, good-natured, classic celebration of Halloween season, you probably can’t do much better than Blood Manor. After all, tradition is tradition for a reason. Blood Manor runs through Sat., Nov. 20. At 163 Varick St. (btw. Charlton & Vandam Sts.). Tickets are $30 (plus $3.50 handling fee) online and by phone, $35 at the door. R.I.P. express tickets are $45 (plus $3.50 handling fee) online and by phone, $50 at the door. For tickets and info, call 212-290-2825 or visit bloodmanor.com.
Patchy logic, power of myth: A ‘Great Pumpkin’ analysis CHARLIE continued from p. 20
Later, at the party, Lucy will use his head as a model for a Jack O’Lantern, a concrete demonstration that Brown is a non-person. Think back to the opening scene where Lucy gutted a Pumpkin and Linus accused her of “killing” it. Is she metaphorically killing Brown now? Or are we meant to see her use of Brown as model pumpkin as a declaration that Linus’ moral inclinations are useless? And yet, it is Lucy, the ultimate denier of the piece, who alone demonstrates compassion when she later retrieves Linus from the pumpkin patch, delivering him from the place of his humiliation and failure to home and safety. Brown never even thinks to look TheVillager.com
for Linus, and perhaps this weakness is all the justification needed for his lowest of all tribal status.
SNOOPY In Snoopy, Schulz presents the classic Wise Fool as alternative. With this dog there is no line between fantasy and reality. What he imagines (in this case that he is a World War I flying ace) simply is, for as long as the belief suits him. When the time seems right, belief is abandoned without guilt. Compare this to the agony suffered by Linus over his crisis of faith, or Brown’s utter helplessness. It is worth noting that the exact moment Snoopy abandons his hero fantasy is his kiss
with Lucy, a kiss that utterly (if briefly) destroys her status mastery. Snoopy is free of guilt, free from expectation, immune to claims of tribal status. But Snoopy is a dog. He can ape humanity, but is not human. Linus and Brown are allowed to see the successful alternative he represents, but are barred from embracing it by their essential nature. Like Brown’s ersatz party invitation, Snoopy’s lifestyle is a reward that is never truly on offer.
CONCLUSION In the universe of “Peanuts,” can one hope for growth or change? Sadly, no. In the closing scene, Brown assumes the experience in the pumpkin patch
has caused Linus to abandon faith and embrace a more existential approach. Linus is insulted. His faith is, if anything, stronger. And why shouldn’t it be? Linus and Brown both come to the same unrewarding end. No toys for the unfaithful Linus, no candy for the unlucky Brown. Why learn the lesson of experience if it yields us nothing? False hope trumps nihilism because false though it may be, it’s still hope. In the end, it is the struggle for sincerity and not the sincerity itself that makes the pumpkin patch truly worthy. “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” will air on ABC at 8 p.m. on Thurs., Oct. 29. “The Peanuts Movie” opens nationwide on Nov. 6. October 22, 2015
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Neighbor hits roof over roof parties
Why Pay More?
G.L.W.D. continued from p. 8
loud music. “Richie Gamba, my 78-year-old friend who is often called ‘The Mayor of Spring St.’ lives next door at 203 Spring St., and is practically apoplectic about all of this,” Pincus added. “A monster sound system has been installed,” the artist said, “and the use of this weapon is absolutely despicable. The people who are running this operation are fully aware of what they are doing. They are advertising it in brochures. Pincus discovered that God’s Love is advertising the spaces online as available for “special events” seven days a week. The 2,600-square-foot rooftop, a.k.a. “The Roof,” billed as having a capacity of 230 people for cocktails, or 18 seated, rents for $8,000 for corporate or private events or $4,000 for nonprofit events. The fifth floor, or “Party on 5,” which has 1,280 square feet of indoor space and 2,100 of outdoor terrace space, also has a 230-person capacity for cocktails, or 90 seated inside, plus 60 seated outside, with the same rates as the roof. And a roof-plus-fifth floor combo is advertised for $12,000 private/corporate or $6,000 nonprofit. The available hours are listed as 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. For weekend events, an extra $2,500 is tacked on. “Meetings and special events only. Fundraisers are not permitted,” the site states. “The Roof” is marketed as providing “a premier private event destination in Manhattan’s Soho district. With breathtaking city views...and an open air herb garden, The Roof is a luxurious and lush setting for your next celebration. … The easily accessible Soho location is ideal for social or corporate functions of all occasions.” With its combination of indoor and outdoor space, “Party on 5,” meanwhile, is described on the Web page as “perfect for any special event, combining state-of-the-art sound and light technology and stunning Soho views. … God’s Love We Deliver is the perfect venue to host corporate functions, fashion shows or weddings.” There is also a luncheon or breakfast rental for the fifth floor, a.k.a. “Meeting on 5” — with “100 seated classroom style,” inside the fifth floor — from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., for $4,000 private/corporate or $2,000 nonprofit. Pincus said Sean Sweeney, director of the Soho Alliance, told him that even though G.L.W.D. doesn’t have a liquor license, they are likely getting around this by having the events’ caterers obtain liquor licenses on a case-by-case basis. Tobi Bergman, chairperson of Community Board 2, said the board did not know G.L.W.D. would be using its building for open-air evening parties with amplified music. “This looks like an event business and it comes as a complete surprise,” Bergman said. “C.B. 2 supported the controversial expansion because we were told the purpose was to provide space for the group’s operations to serve more people. Rooftop
parties always cause a nuisance in a residential area, and that’s just not acceptable. That said, we look forward to bringing the neighbors together with God’s Love We Deliver to assure their future ability to use their building productively without causing disturbance.” The “controversial” aspect of the G.L.W.D. construction project that Bergman referred to was the organization’s selling of $6 million worth of its air rights to an adjacent luxury residential development. Neighbors who opposed both projects protested that because a deed restriction on the God’s Love property — which was formerly a city-owned library — mandates community use, the development rights could not then be transferred for a private, market-rate use. But Karen Pearl, God’s Love’s executive director, said the deed didn’t cover air rights. However, Bergman said the only discussion of outdoor use that G.L.W.D. presented to the board during the project’s public review was that neighbors from the new residential building would technically have access to the meals provider’s rooftop — which, in turn, helped fulfill the residential project’s open-space requirement. As reported by The Villager in April, in the case of the new Whitney Museum of American Art on Gansevoort St., the museum was upfront about the use of its outdoor terraces for events, and the community was intimately involved in the discussions. Ultimately, local activists Elaine Young and Zack Winestine negotiated what Young called “a very complicated S.L.A. agreement” with the Whitney, under which there will only be six events with amplified sound on the terraces per year. The State Liquor Authority approved the stipulations, according to Young. In a statement, a God’s Love spokesperson said, “From the first day and throughout the application process, we informed the public that we have a multipurpose space that can accommodate a variety of functions, including educational, volunteer recognition, staff, fundraising and donor cultivation events. We will continue to ensure that we and all those using the space comply with applicable ordinances and regulations moving forward.” According to a source, God’s Love — despite its pitches for the spaces’ use on its Web site — does not envision they will be used that heavily, mainly due to the cost. “The pricing is such that it won’t be hosting that many events,” the source said. “The idea is for the space to provide very limited events. They’ve made it available to some nonprofits already for free. A few smaller nonprofit receptions have already taken place, like two or three.” However, Pincus will believe that when he sees — or rather, hears, or doesn’t hear — it, and is ready to take action, if needed. “If this big noise is not silenced, I will make plenty of noise myself in the name of this community,” he vowed. “I’m not going to be driven out of my home by these people, and we will band together to take legal action if the press and pols don’t care.”
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Gallery owner grew garden GARDEN continued from p. 9
al Harvest Fest on Sat., Oct. 24, from noon to 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Replacing the garden with housing means the open space would be lost forever, Reiver said. On the other hand, housing can always be built at another location — such as at a far larger site identified by Tobi Bergman, chairperson of Community Board 2, at Hudson and Clarkson Sts. “I don’t think there’s any question,” Reiver said, “nobody in New York City will ever tear down a building to create a park. And once the park is destroyed, it’s destroyed forever. “I was a developer for many years and I was a lawyer, as well, and there’s a simple solution to the problem of affordable housing,” he offered. “You merely require that anyone building housing provide a certain amount of affordable housing. In return, you give them additional F.A.R.,” he said, referring to “floor area ratio,” which is the amount of allowable development square footage.
In fact, the de Blasio administration currently is proposing to do exactly this, but only for districts or specific projects where a rezoning is involved — as opposed to all building projects, in general. Reiver has been paying the city the same rent for the garden lot since 1991 — $4,000 a month, or $48,000 a year. He said he sells about one or two of his pieces from the garden each year. However, the garden is really a “branding mechanism” for the gallery, he said, which actually does most of its business online and from a warehouse. “I could have very easily stored stuff on top of dirt and gravel,” he said of the garden. “It was a way of creating something beautiful. It was an ugly lot and I could make it pretty. I did it in 1991 because I lived across from it and it looked like s---.” Reiver direly predicted, “If you’re going to build on the Elizabeth St. Garden, Central Park will be next. If you look in the history books, you’ll find three or four proposals to develop buildings in Central Park.”
Harvest/Halloween fun at Eliz. Garden If you want to enjoy the Elizabeth St. Garden in full swing, check out its third annual Harvest Fest on Sat., Oct. 24, from noon to 4 p.m. (Rain date Sun., Oct. 25). Enter on either Elizabeth or Motts Sts., between Prince and Spring Sts. It will be a full day of free activities for all ages, including live music — such as Jason Harrod & Friends — and “lite bites” donated by neighborhood eateries. There will be an “edible garden tour” with Dr. Gabrielle Francis, a holistic physician and herbalist. Also on tap
is a cooking demonstration by Alan Wise, the chef de cuisine of PUBLIC. People will be able to design their own greeting cards with pressed leaves by Open Window. For kids there will be face painting, pumpkin decorating, scientific garden exploration and a “Ghastly Garden of Ghouls Halloween Party,” with art by McNally Jackson Books, featuring Liniers, the Argentine cartoonist and children’s book author. On top of all that, you can plant daffodils and, for early birds, do vinyasa yoga at 11 a.m.
Kids fuming over Styrofoam reversal STYROFOAM continued from p. 10
York that the vast majority of food-serving businesses in the city had already stopped, or never started, using Styrofoam products — a list that now includes the city’s two biggest former offenders, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. The city’s school cafeterias, including those in the East Village, are already Styrofoam-free, which Cohen said won’t change, no matter what happens with the ban. In May, six of the nation’s largest school districts, including New York City, ditched polystyrene trays for eco-friendly compostable plates. “Technically, [the ruling] doesn’t affect it at all,” Cohen said of the absence of Styrofoam in the city’s schools. Polystyrene trays are around one-third the cost of compostable ones — about 4 cents apiece, compared to about 12 cents. “It’s a five-year contract and who knows who the mayor will be then,” Cohen said. “But they now have a product that’s not quite cost-neutral, but almost, and prices will come down. The main reason for not doing it was the cost, and now it’s dropped down, and will continue to go down.” The Styrofoam puppets made at the community center recently made an appearance as part of TheVillager.com
the People’s Climate Movement Day of Action on Wed., Oct. 14, when two volunteers carried them from their permanent home in the storefront of toy store Dinosaur Hill, at 306 E. Ninth St., to the Flatiron Plaza, at E. 23rd St. and Fifth Ave. Artie Athas, one of the volunteers, said his son Hudson, a fifth grader at The Earth School on E. Sixth St., was one of the kids involved in advocating against polystyrene. “He participated in spreading the word among his fellow classmates and his teachers. He just wanted to make a positive effect in his school,” Athas said, in between shouting “Happy Climate Action Day!” to passersby. “It’s about keeping the ban, keeping it going,” he said. “It doesn’t look like it will affect the schools, but we certainly don’t want it to get that far.” As for the rest of the kids at P.S. 34 and elsewhere, Cohen didn’t rule out taking further action, adding that she was hopeful the ban would prevail in the end. “We are still deciding what to do. We’re considering doing some sort of petition or boycott,” she said. “But we might not need to, because there’s a lot of energy and momentum around this.”
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