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

November 12, 2015 • $1.00 Volume 85 • Number 24

Meatpacking plan would butcher iconic block, say opponents at Landmarks BY YANNIC RACK

A

“managed evolution,” “extraordinary,” “an architectural flourish.” “Out of scale,” “inappropriate,” “a giant, hulking, monotonous mass.” The two sides in the continuing fight over plans to redevelop a historic block on Gansevoort St. are as hard to bring together under one roof as they sound. They clashed once again this Tues., Nov. 10, at a hearing of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission on the proposal, which would drastically remake an entire, low-slung block of market-style buildings on the south side of the street, located in the landmarked Meatpacking District. “We are frankly disturbed that such a proposal would even be considered,” said Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Society for Historic Preservation. He was one of dozens of residents, property owners and preservationists that

NYC DEPARTMENT OF DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION PHOTO BY YANNIC RACK

Andrew Berman of G.V.S.H.P. testifying against the proposal, said, “This is not change. This is obliteration.”

crammed into the commission’s hearing room on the ninth floor of the Municipal Building on Centre St. to deliver passionate testimony against the redevelopment. “This is not change. This is obliteration of the scale, GANSEVOORT continued on p. 4

Checking out the second burial vault on Washington Square East last Thursday, the day after it was found, from left, D.D.C. Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora, Assistant Commissioner Shah Jaromi (in charge of Manhattan infrastructure) and on-site archaeologist Alyssa Loorya. An opening to the vault — where a large stone was removed — is visible by Loorya’s hand. See Page 6 for article.

Core values top academics at 75 Morton theme meeting BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

I

f you could start a brandnew middle school, and could make it anything possible you wanted it to be, what would it be like? That was the question that School District 2 parents began to grapple with at an “envisioning” meeting for the Village’s new 75 Morton St. school, held on Mon., Nov. 2, at the Clinton School for

Writers and Artists, at 10 E. 15th St., near Union Square. More than 100 parents attended the meeting, seated on movable chairs set out on the floor of the airy gym in the school’s new building. (Apparently, this is a “gymatorium,” which 75 Morton will also have — a gym that can also function as an auditorium and theater space.) Heather Campbell, a member of the 75 Morton Com-

munity Alliance, opened the meeting with introductory remarks. What is known about 75 Morton is that it will be opening in fall 2017. It has no principal yet. The School Construction Authority says the middle school is being designed for 900 students, but local school activists counter that it should be a “right-sized” school, with only 600 to 700 students. 75 MORTON continued on p. 14

Sue-elujah! Rev. Billy takes on M.T.A..............page 10 Politics, polls and pubs with Kornacki...........page 17 The (Hudson Park) turn of the screw..............page 29 Kids flock to Halloween parade...page 30

www.TheVillager.com


BORIMIX BIG-BAND BLOWOUT: The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Education Center a.k.a. The Clemente, at 107 Suffolk St., was definitely the place to be last Friday night. That’s because it was the opening party for the Teatro SEA’s Borimix, a month-long celebration of Puerto Rican art, film, music and performances. Making Friday night truly special was the performance by drummer Bobby Sanabria and his 20-piece big band, who played a sweet mix of Puerto Rican and Cuban songs as the hopping crowd enthusiastically hit the dance floor. The Grammy-nominated Sanabria, who is like a walking encyclopedia of the history of Latin music, hit all the right notes, from Tito Puente and Celia Cruz favorites to classics like “Bésame Mucho” and even managed to mix in some Earth Wind & Fire. The diverse crowd was all ages, though it was really the old-timers who had all the right moves. Among those making the scene was former Councilmember Alan Gerson, who a decade ago helped mediate the bitter feud between the building’s Latino and Anglo artist factions that was threatening to rip the place apart. Reveling in the good vibes, Miguel Trelles, one of the building’s artist leaders, said he’d love to see the place have dance parties like this on a monthly basis. Trelles has also started his own cottage industry in the art center, a framing business, Frames and Stetchers.com, which he said is perfectly legal. He said he researched it, and the former public school building’s zoning allows for 20 percent commercial use. He’d like to see more uses like that in the building. “We don’t want a Starbucks,” he said. Hmm, sounds a lot like what the C-Squat folks were saying

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before they found a good, community-oriented tenant for their long-disused Avenue C commercial storefront: the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MoRUS).

FEEL THE BERN! (A BIT LESS): This doesn’t quite rise to the level of controversy seen in the Republican presidential debates, but it seems there’s a divergence of opinion on the final numbers in the straw vote for the recent political club-sponsored debate in Chelsea between surrogates for the Democratic presidential candidates. No one disputes that Bernie Sanders was the winner in the Nov. 1 show of hands. The Villager ’s Mary Reinholz reported that Sanders won with 89 votes to Hillary Clinton’s 59 and Martin O’Malley’s 54. However, two members of the Village Independent Democrats, Tony Hoffmann and Marti Speranza, say Clinton actually got 20 more votes than that, with the final tallies, Sanders 89, Clinton 79 and O’Malley 54. “Even though the article was excellent and captured the event accurately, Mary’s numbers were wrong,” Hoffmann told us. And to hear him tell it, Sanders and Clinton both have strong support among local Democratic activists in the community. “V.I.D. has been doing voter registration and taking informal presidential polls in our community over the past couple of months,” Hoffmann said.

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“The results of our very informal polls showed Hillary on one Saturday winning by 10 votes, Bernie winning by 10 votes on another Saturday, and the two candidates being virtually tied on the third Saturday.” In addition, due to an editing error, the article said the presidential forum was sponsored by about a dozen local Democratic clubs — only about that many were actually cited on the event listing on the V.I.D. Web page. In fact, as Reinholz had written, two dozen clubs co-sponsored the forum.

HURL HERO: Little Italy activist Lil Tozzi called us with the uplifting (upchucking?) news that her nephew Brandon Williams, 15, saved a fellow student’s life. Both kids, who are autistic, attend I.S. 24 on Staten Island, where they’re in a special-needs class. The girl was eating something, choked and was turning blue. Williams thought and acted fast, giving her the Heimlich maneuver. “When they asked him where he learned that, he said, ‘SpongeBob,’ ” Tozzi said incredulously. “He’s always watched ‘SpongeBob’ since he was a kid. “It made the front page of the Staten Island Advance,” she noted of her nephew’s heave-inducing heroics. “NBC covered it, WINS. Channel 7 is there right now,” she said, as she was speaking to us last Friday. His family also believes that Brandon learned how to swim by watching ‘Sponge Bob SquarePants,’ the cartoon series created by a marine biologist and set in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom. Apparently, watching ‘SpongeBob,’ beyond sheer entertainment value, has some real benefits for students. CORRECTION: As of press time last week, the first meeting of the Community Board 2 Pier 40 Air Rights Transfer Working Group had been set for Mon., Nov. 16, at Greenwich House. C.B. 2 subsequently changed the meeting date and venue because Borough President Gale Brewer is also holding a forum on Nov. 16 on the city’s new plan for mandatory inclusionary zoning, and C.B. 2 did not want its meeting to conflict with that one. The meeting was rescheduled for Thurs., Nov. 12, at 6:30 p.m., in the N.Y.U. building at 194 Mercer St., Room 306. TheVillager.com


Jacob a. Riis Revealing New York’s Other Half Inequality remains a fact of life in America. A century later, this New York master’s photos still explode with outrage.

“heart - rending retrospective ” – The New York Times

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November 12, 2015

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Don’t butcher Gansevoort: Opponents Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association Editorials, First Place, 2014 News Story, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Best Column, First Place, 2012 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011 Spot News Coverage, First Place, 2010 Coverage of Environment, First Place, 2009

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The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for others errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue. Published by NYC Community Media, LLC One Metrotech North 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (718) 260-2500 • Fax: (212) 229-2790 On-line: www.thevillager.com E-mail: news@thevillager.com © 2012 NYC Community Media, LLC

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November 12, 2015

GANSEVOORT continued from p. 1

sense of place, history and identity of the defining street of the Gansevoort Market Historic District,” Berman said, to applause from the audience, which spilled out into the waiting room outside. Before the critics had a chance to voice their opposition, the architects behind the proposal laid out their vision to the L.P.C. commissioners. Heavy on details, the presentation referenced many of the same historical remnants that locals say they are fighting to preserve. Community Board 2 last month rejected the proposal in a unanimous vote, but the plans have not been changed in response to the pushback. “This is an extraordinary opportunity,” said Harry Kendall, a partner at BKSK architectural firm, who presented the plans with his colleague Todd Poisson, as well as Cas Stachelberg of the preservation firm Higgins Quasebarth & Partners. “There has been a tremendous amount of change in this district,” Stachelberg said. “This notion of adaptive reuse and change is really sort of inherent in the DNA of this district.” William Gottlieb Real Estate owns the block and is partnering with Aurora Capital Associates to redevelop it. The two companies have recently teamed up for another project on nearby Ninth Ave., where they are constructing a “glass cube” addition atop the old home of local restaurant Pastis, which is planning to reopen next year on Gansevoort St. if the redevelopment is approved. That other project also faced staunch community opposition, but — after the original design was modified slightly — was ultimately approved by L.P.C. Under the Gansevoort St. plan, some of the block’s one- and two-story brick buildings would be restored, while others would be demolished entirely and replaced by much higher structures up to eight stories tall. The site has three lots. The first, at the eastern corner of Greenwich St., includes two separate two-story buildings at 46-48 and 50 Gansevoort St. The former would be largely preserved with minor renovations, while the latter would be replaced by three new stories. The second lot is currently occupied by the Gansevoort Market, an indoor food court that opened last year, and would remain a two-story building. Work would be done on the cornice, and a new canopy, as well as new doors and windows, would be installed, according to the plans. The third lot, 60-74 Gansevoort St., is split in two under the proposal: Nos. 60-68 would have an additional three floors added atop their existing two stories, plus another sixth floor that would be set back 20 feet. The one-story building at 70-74 Gansevoort St. would be

PHOTO BY YANNIC RACK

Villagers, shown listening to testimony at the Landmarks Preservation Commission, turned out in numbers to speak out against the plan.

demolished and replaced by a six-story building with a two-story setback penthouse vaguely resembling an oversized rooftop water tank. While local residents are most angered by the proposed height of the buildings, the plan’s architects emphasize that the block historically featured much taller buildings than are there now, and note that the commission has approved changes to other landmarked buildings in the district in the past. “We call this ‘The Rise and Rise and Fall and Collapse of the South Side of Gansevoort St.,’ ” said Harry Kendall of BKSK, showing a slide of the street’s changes in height over time. He said most of the former tenement buildings lining the block were cut down to their current size in the late 1930s, when the meatpackers in the area “butchered” their buildings to reduce maintenance costs during the Great Depression. “We don’t suggest that, because some of these buildings were taller, we have an inherent right to bring them back to their original height,” Kendall said. “Rather, we look at the district and say, which buildings were purpose-built, how much care was taken in their transformation, if any, and what is the story of the district that this block tells, and could tell a bit more eloquently, if you approach it with care and thought?” But the plan’s opponents point out that the street’s current market-style incarnation is the one protected by landmark status. “We have deep reservations regarding this project and the negative impact it will have on the cityscape of the Gansevoort Market Historic District, which we have fought hard to create and preserve,” said Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who read a joint statement with state Senator Brad Hoylman at the hearing. “That there have been intrusions in

the past should not grant additional intrusions,” she said, to an outburst of applause from the audience. Glick, together with Hoylman, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Councilmember Corey Johnson, and Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, sent a joint letter to L.P.C.’s chairperson, Meenakshi Srinivasan, last week, slamming the proposal as inappropriate and out of scale. Apart from the increased height, residents are also concerned about the buildings’ future use. Due to zoning restrictions, the owner is currently barred from using the buildings as residential, hotel or office space. But Jared Epstein, vice president of Aurora, has signaled that the upper floors could be used as offices if the restrictions were lifted in the future. “It’s just a battle we didn’t want to fight at this time,” he told The New York Times recently. “We do hope that down the road, the community realizes that office tenants would be beneficial to the neighborhood.” Sitting in the front row, Epstein remained silent throughout the entire hearing on Tuesday, and only shook his head occasionally while listening to a long line of critics decrying his proposal. He declined to comment on the hearing afterward. Of the more than 40 people who testified, only two spoke in favor of the proposal. One was said to be a resident of the area, but his testimony was read by an Aurora employee, who claimed that the resident had to leave before it was his turn to speak. The other, Jeffrey Holmes, is a vice president of Delshah Capital, a real estate investment firm that owns two buildings on the other side of the street, 55 and 69 Gansevoort St. GANSEVOORT continued on p. 8 TheVillager.com


I have

-- raised four children in the Village, all of whom attended Village and Downtown schools -- served 24 years on Community Board 2, chairing the Parks or Waterfront Committee most of that time -- been a tenant, a co-op owner, a condo owner or a townhouse owner in the Village since 1981 -- worked as a civil rights lawyer in Village or Downtown offices since 1979 -- helped shape and plan Hudson River Park, and was a founder of Friends of Hudson River Park -- won the lawsuit which resulted in the construction of ballfields on Pier 40 -- served as District Leader or Democratic State Committee member for the Village and Downtown for 20 years -- founded and led the West Village Community Alliance for Parks and Playgrounds, which brought millions of dollars to Village parks, leading to a playground renaissance -- owned popular small businesses in the Village and Tribeca -- saved the jobs of hundreds of people and won landmark cases about harassment in the workplace, union democracy and protecting whistleblowers -- attended the 2008 Democratic Presidential Convention representing the Lower West side -- served as Zephyr Teachout’s State Treasurer in her 2014 run for NYtS Governor -- sued to force the State to replace St. Vincent’s Hospital -- served as a volunteer guardian for West Village seniors, getting myself arrested fighting for their rights -- successfully sued to maintain Gerry Delakas in his Astor Place newsstand, beating a callous Dept of Consumer Affairs -- successfully sued to keep a Costco off of 14th Street and won a YMCA in its place And much, much, more...

TheVillager.com

November 12, 2015

5


City uncovers ancient tombs in Wash. Sq. — again BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

C

ity workers were “fixing a gasket,” but wound up uncovering hoary caskets, along with scattered human remains, last week on Washington Square East. According to a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Design and Construction, the agency is in the process of replacing century-old trunk and distribution water mains under the street on the east side of the park, near the intersection of Waverly Place. Shavone Williams said D.D.C. was “being proactive” in replacing the existing 50-year-old mains, which have a 100-year lifespan. The first of two underground burial vaults, containing skeletal remains in disarray, was encountered on Tuesday. The following day, a second vault, containing about two dozen coffins, was found south of the first one. At that point, construction on the project was halted, Williams said. The vaults are each 4 feet below street level, 8 feet high, 15 feet wide and 20 feet long. Archaeologists and anthropologists from D.D.C. and also the Landmarks Preservation Commission were called in to investigate the vaults. This is being done with probing cameras, as opposed to entering the spaces. Both vaults’ contents are believed to date to the early 1800s and be connected to Presbyterian churches then on Pearl and Cedar Sts. In a statement, Commissioner Peña-Mora said, “D.D.C. will prohibit work at the specific location, to permit further evaluation by archeologists and anthropologists. Working together with the Landmarks Preservation Commission, D.D.C. will continue to evaluate the extent and significance of the vault and its contents.” The D.D.C. spokesperson added that the water-main project is currently being redesigned so as to “minimize the impact” on the historic tombs. The New York Times reported that both the Cedar St. and Pearl St. Presbyterian churches were associated with the Scotch Church. Both had burial plots in the vicinity of Washington Square, which by 1800 had been designated by the city as a potter’s field, a burial ground for unknown or indigent people. The Cedar St. Church evolved into today’s Fifth Ave. Presbyterian Church, at E. 55th St. and Fifth Ave. That church does have records in its archives. In a Nov. 7 note to members, Scott Black Johnston, the church’s senior

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November 12, 2015

NYC DEPARTMENT OF DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION

Two views — a long view and a close-up — inside one of the two burial vaults. This vault’s contents — including coffins with metal nameplates — were in better shape than the other one, which contained scattered skeletal remains previously disturbed by a 1960s Con Ed project.

pastor, wrote, “We are in touch with the archaeologists and have offered our help in matching [our] archival records to the physical evidence that rests below Washington Square. “What makes this discovery all the more fascinating,” he added, “is that it comes on the eve of our anniversary. The Cedar Street Church was organized on Nov. 8, 1808 — exactly 207 years ago tomorrow.” If the remains are associated with what became the Second Presbyterian Church, at Central Park West and 96th St., however, researchers will be out of luck, since that church did not keep records, the Times reported. Meanwhile, some slammed as boneheaded the city’s decision to dig in the same spot, since the first vault and its bones had been disturbed during a Con Ed project 50 years ago to install a transformer. “Shame on the planners of this project!” Mary Johnson, a former Community Board 2 member who lives on the east side of the park, wrote to a D.D.C. community liaison for the project. “What I know is that at least two church cemeteries — one on Waverly Place and one on Washington Place and what today is Washington Square East — were moved into Washington Square at the time its perimeter was renovated

into park space in the 1800s. “Good grief! This is the Greenwich Village Historic District! Was there no research done by your architects and engineers? What about Con Ed’s records — I cannot believe they once again disturbed this same burial place! Very poor planning. And how can they be so surprised?”

Similarly, Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, making no bones about it, said, “I certainly would say it was a reasonable assumption, if you’re going to be digging in this location, there was a good likelihood of hitting burial sites.” TheVillager.com


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PHOTO BY YANNIC RACK

Jared Epstein, vice president of Aurora Capital, said he hoped local residents would come to realize that office use on Gansevoort St. would be “beneficial to the neighborhood.”

Gansevoort plan slammed GANSEVOORT continued from p. 4

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“We think that this is contextually appropriate, and that it fits with the scale of the street,” Holmes said of the proposal. “We have a vested interested in maintaining the character of the neighborhood, and we think that this is a responsible design that does that.” According to its chairperson, Srinivasan, the commission also received a petition in support of the proposal with 800 signatures from residents, workers and visitors to the district. An Aurora spokesperson said petitions had only been circulated for a brief time. Some opponents reported seeing and overhearing petitioners over the last few days, telling people on the street about their plans to “beautify” the block. “They hit the streets about three days ago,” said Elaine Young, a Community Board 2 member who lives just south of the Meat Market. “They were all over the place.” Young is one of the founders of the group Save Gansevoort, which has been mobilizing opposition against the project and even chartered a bus to bring about two dozen locals to the landmarks hearing. Their own petition has also been submitted to the commission, which received more than 2,300 letters and e-mails in opposition to the plans, according to Srinivasan. The hearing marked what could be the last chance for opponents to weigh in on the application. After public testimony concluded, Srinivasan said the proposal would be discussed at a future public meeting of the L.P.C., yet to be scheduled. Under the commission’s normal way of doing business, there would be no more chance for spoken testimony from the public, even if the commission decides to send the architects back to the drawing board. Normally, in that case, any altered plans would only be discussed by the commissioners and the developer. Members of the public would be allowed to submit written comments. However, G.V.S.H.P.’s Berman said that, in this particular case, given the scale and significance of the project,

the hope is that L.P.C. will operate differently and allow for continued public review and testimony. “There definitely has been a push here, that if there’s anytime where a proposal would go back through the public process, this would be it, because this is such a complicated proposal,” Berman said. “There are so many different moving pieces here. Local elected officials have requested this, as have we and many members of the public.” Being able to submit written testimony is one thing, “but there’s no substitute for being able to talk faceto-face to the commission about your concerns,” he noted. Also, in the past, the commission has typically released updated designs very late in the process, often on the day of its public meetings, giving people little chance to digest the revised plans. Again, the hope is that, in this case, the public will have more opportunity to consider any changes that may be made to the plans. By the time Tuesday’s hearing concluded, many in the audience had already left. But throughout their testimony, they had asked the commission to remember its mandate to protect the city’s history, and urged the commissioners not to set a negative precedent that could send the district’s landmark status down a rabbit hole of exemptions and alterations. “It’s not an accident this district is called the Gansevoort Market Historic District,” said Zack Winestine, another member of Save Gansevoort, who lives on Horatio St. “The market is essential to the district’s history, and there is no block that represents this history better than the one discussed here today.” Young, his co-leader on the ad hoc activist group, also pointed out that it is no accident that the cover of L.P.C.’s 2003 designation report for the district bears a photo of the block taken in the mid-20th century. “I can only think that they thought this was a very special building,” Young said of the commissioners that originally designated the area. “I hope this current commission, you people, will uphold what they did back in 2003.” TheVillager.com


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Halle-sue-ya! Rev. Billy taking M.T.A. to court BY COLIN MIXSON

L

aw have mercy! Reverend Billy, the activist and performance artist, is suing the Metropolitan Transit Authority, claiming its officers ran roughshod over his God-given rights as an American by arresting him for a peaceful, legal protest at Grand Central Station earlier this year. “My First Amendment rights to freedom of expression were completely violated,” said Billy Talen, who takes on the persona of a Southern preacher to sermonize against the many-horned demon of consumerism and other social ills. Talen, who currently lives in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, got his start in the East Village and is a wellknown figure on the Downtown activist scene. He filed a federal suit last Friday, claiming the transit authority not only violated his constitutional freedom by silencing his protest, but also falsely arrested him and then defamed him by publicly suggesting he had assaulted authorities first. The hellfire-and-brimstone dissident said he was two minutes into a sermon at an anti-police-brutality rally inside the concourse of Grand Central on Jan. 6, when transit cops

Reverend Billy is perplexed over his arrest by the M.T.A. in Grand Central earlier this year.

— alongside officers from the New York Police Department and Homeland Security — descended on the gathering and took him away in cuffs to spend a night behind bars. As a political activist who often engages in civil disobedience, Talen accepts spending time in the slammer as part of his job description. But this was not an act of civil disobedience, said his lawyer — Talen was merely exercising free speech in a public place, and authorities targeted him

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as a high-profile rabble-rouser. In fact, Talen’s sermon came near the end of a 24-hour vigil commemorating black people killed by police officers that kicked off at 5 p.m. on Jan. 5, and it wasn’t until the following day at 1 p.m. that cops swooped in to silence the firebrand, his attorney said. “[Grand Central Station] is a modern-day public square. He was engaging commuters, engaging citizens, and not blocking anybody,” said lawyer Wylie Stecklow. “This is

a very well-protected First Amendment activity and for no other reason than it was Reverend Billy they decided to take him away in cuffs.” After the incident, a transit authority spokesman told the media that protesters at the event had “got physical” with police — which Talen believes falsely implied he had acted violently. “There was nothing violent from me, no bad words, no tension in my arms or my hands,” said Talen, who ran for mayor in 2009 but garnered less than 1 percent of the city’s vote. Footage of the arrest appears to show the performance-artist preacher complying peacefully as police handcuff him. The incident occurred shortly after a crazed gunman killed two police officers in Bedford-Stuyvesant, which was a particularly bad time to have a reputation as someone who violently attacks authorities, said Stecklow. “To claim he is a threat, when the police are on edge and he deals with police all the time, you are putting that figurative target on his back, and that is just not O.K.,” he said. “The M.T.A. needs to be more responsible.” The transit authority declined to comment.

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November 12, 2015

TheVillager.com


POLICE BLOTTER Crime bites Two women robbed a 33-year-old man near the southeast corner of Greenwich and Horatio Sts. on Fri., Nov. 6, according to police. The perpetrators reportedly approached the victim at about 3:30 a.m. They forcibly removed the man’s wallet, containing $250 cash. When he tried to get it back, one of the women bit him. A police report did not state the extent of the victim’s injuries. Police arrested Anne Marie Kerr, 39, and Antoinette Davis, 32, and charged them with felony robbery.

Bleecker beating Police said that a man, 46, went on a jealous rage on Sun., Nov. 8, and hit his girlfriend at about 2 a.m. inside their 88 Bleecker St. home. The 41-year-old woman, who was apparently struck multiple times, was left with a bruised left eye, swollen lip and a crimson right arm and back. A police report did not state a possible motive. Jerry Brost was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault.

Name game fails

St. and Sixth Ave. Police said the man failed to signal for a turn around 12:30 p.m. When an officer approached the vehicle, the driver said he did not have ID. The officer warned him three times to state his real name before running a background check on the purported “Paul Nsiah.” Police soon identified him as Olasunkanmi Famakinde and found he had been arrested six previous times for driving with a suspended license. Famakinde was charged with false personation, a misdemeanor.

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Chippy on Charles St. A middle-aged woman left a younger woman with a swollen face after an argument on Fri., Nov. 6, police said. The older woman reportedly gave the victim a fist sandwich at about 12:50 a.m. before fleeing the scene near the southwest corner of Greenwich and Charles Sts. A police report did not state a motive for the attack or whether the two knew each other. Police took the victim to the Sixth Precinct stationhouse where she refused medical attention. They tracked the alleged suspect down at the intersection of Hudson and Charles Sts. and arrested Diana Taylor, 47, charging her with misdemeanor assault.

A 53-year-old man gave a fake name during a traffic stop at W. Third

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Guiding trans youth, and families, through changes BY BOB KRASNER

I

f you find the idea of a person being transgender to be confusing, you can only imagine how complex it is for a young person who is realizing that he or she is not living in the correct body. Lucas Mogerley was a 10-year-old girl when he became aware of the term “transgender.” His parents, though they suspected he might be gay, were not fully prepared for this news and had no cultural reference points to which they could relate. Currently, we actually have two reality TV shows concerning the subject — “I Am Cait” and “I Am Jazz” — as well as numerous magazine articles, books and movies. But when Lucas was young, he knew of only one movie about a transgender person.  “It was the story of Brandon Teena and he died at the end,” he recalled. Luckily, though, his parents  not only wanted to help him but also found a place where they could get him, and themselves, aid and counseling — the Gender and Family Project, a branch of the Ackerman Institute for the Family, located near W. 23rd St. Director Jean Malpas said the organization is there to aid, for example, “the 3-year-old boy who won’t leave the house without a dress,” but also the boy’s family. In other words, Malpas’s mission is not only to guide his young clients through their transition, but also to help their parents and the community, as well, through this process. Lucas came out to his parents when he was 16. His mother, Mary Mogerley, is enormously grateful for the guidance of the institute.  She found the parents groups at the Gender and Family Project to be “tremendously helpful. For a parent who is vulnerable and upset, just learning the vocabulary is very important,” she said.

PHOTO BY BOB KRASNER

From left, Mary Mogerley; Jean Malpas, director of the Gender and Family Project; and Lucas Mogerley.

Lucas concurred, saying, “The institute was a stable place where I could learn the words to talk to other people. And to have people around me who were going through the same thing made it a less lonely experience.” “When someone transitions, their family transitions with them,” explained Malpas. He has seen families

not just “transition, but also transform, for the better.” And, with any luck, the community will transform along with them. G.F.P. makes it a point to do outreach to schools, churches and community centers to educate the general public. One teacher noted that, after one presentation by G.F.P., there was an immediate change in the way that

the kids spoke about gender. In Downtown Manhattan, the group has consulted with and provided training for, among others,  the 14th St. Y and the East Village Community School. G.F.P. provides resources and clinical services to a large number of families from the Downtown area, and has provided training to mental health professionals throughout the five boroughs.  Referring clients to proper legal and medical help is also a part of its service.  Lower Manhattan, Malpas said, is a “wonderful place, where we are working with very diverse economic and social classes and we have had a great response.” He also noted that they offer gender guidance services for Spanish-speaking youth. He is very impressed with the large number of parents and kids who call for information, and said the number of groups that they organize has risen dramatically. “There is a real desire,” he said, “for people to understand gender in a more complex way.” He stressed the importance of working with the entire family of a “gender expansive” child. Lucas Mogerley and his family have certainly benefitted from their time at G.F.P. Lucas, who is on his way to a fresh start in college, sums up his current state of mind.  “We’ve gone through a lot in the last two years,” he reflected. “I don’t feel that I have to apologize for anything. I’m proud of who I am and I try to reflect that to other people. I look at where I am now compared to where I was in high school...and I’m kind of normal for once.” For more information about the Gender and Family Project, call 212-8794900 ext. 150, or email gfp@ackerman. org or visit the Web site www.ackerman. org/gfp/ .

Hank Penza, owner of old-school dive Mars Bar OBITUARY

H

ank Penza, owner of the Mars Bar, Hank’s Crystal Palace and other Bowery haunts since the 1950s, died on Oct. 29. He was believed to be 81 or 82. “He was the most legit bad a-New Yorker ever,” said artist Anthony Zitto. “His stories were the greatest. Whatever may have remained of the New York he knew left this earthly plane with him. Always the greatest character New York has ever known — there will never be another.”

12

November 12, 2015

PHOTO BY CLAYTON PATTERSON

Hank Penza.

“He was one of the last real oldschool warriors left in the ’hood,” said L.E.S. documentarian Clayton Patterson. Other bars that Penza reportedly owned at one time included Willie’s, the Penthouse and Bowery East. Mars bar, at Second Ave. and E. First St., opened in the early 1980s and lasted until July 2011, when it was forced to close to make way for a redevelopment project. Penza’s father immigrated to New York from Italy. When he was younger, Penza made a living using his muscle to “clean up” bars of undesirables, before eventually moving into owning bars himself. TheVillager.com


The germ of a new idea: Microbes are our friends! RHYMES WITH CRAZY BY LENORE SKENAZY

I

t’s time for a microbes’ rights movement. Too long have we reviled the misunderstood microbe as an evil to be sprayed, slathered or scrubbed away. Too long have we demeaned this vast and variegated group with hateful terms like “bug” and “germ.” Too long have we ignored the contributions made by this mighty if microscopic clan, subjecting it to the horrors of microbicide. It is time to say, “We’re sorry.” That is basically what the fascinating new exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History is doing. “The Secret World Inside You” is a paean to the literally trillions of microbes that live on and in each of us, from the depths of our belly buttons to the moist and teeming twists of our intestines, where these minute organisms are busily digesting our food and, quite possibly, determining our mood. More on that later. Until recently, says genomic scientist Robert DeSalle, co-curator of the exhibit, most people thought of microbes only in terms of illness. “I don’t like the word ‘germ’ because it harkens back to the old way of looking at health: ‘Let’s kill them to make us healthy,’ ” he said. Today, researchers are realizing we let a few bad apples influence our outlook.  “There are so few bad bacteria in our bodies relative to the good ones that it gives all microbes a bad rap,” says DeSalle. “I think actually they should be patted on the back, because without them, we would be a very sick organism.” Sick for lack of germs? Yes, indeed. Mice bred to have guts completely bereft of bacteria — sterile — “are much happier when you put some microbes into them,” DeSalle said. It is normal for us all to be crawling with microscopic critters.  Many of those critters are on display at the museum, magnified a zillion times, and just be glad they’re normally microscopic. But here’s the latest: Scientists are starting to think of them sort of like genes. We each have our own “microbiome” — a set of microbes — that lives on and in us. No two person’s microbiomes are the same, TheVillager.com

and our microbiomes change depending on what we eat, where we live, and even our age. Most significantly, they change when we take antibiotics. These kill off a whole lot of microbes, some bad, but many good. It can take a long time for them to grow back, and not all of them will. It’s sort of like replanting a garden after a nuclear attack. That’s why doctors are trying to prescribe antibiotics more sparingly these days. We’re not at all sure what all the different microbes do yet — there can be 100 to 200 different microbial species in just your mouth — but more and more, scientists are beginning to suspect that they play a big role not just in sickness, body odor and tooth decay, all that bad stuff, but actually in fighting off disease. You have probably heard by now (if only because it is so weird) of “fecal transplants.” That is, taking the fecal matter from someone healthy and transplanting it into the gut of someone sick. People suffering from Clostridium difficile, an illness of the stomach and intestines, have been cured when they received someone else’s stool.  How come? Apparently, some of those germs that we’re so grossed out by actually conquer the illness. Score one for the germs! What could be stranger than a fecal transplant? How about the idea that some microbes — or some constellation of them — could actually be responsible for how we behave? The exhibit discusses an experiment involving two breeds of mice. The “anxious” breed lingered several minutes before leaping off a platform to explore a new space. The impulsive breed lingered just a few seconds. When scientists exchanged their gut microbes — just the stuff swishing around in their intestines — guess what? The anxious group jumped off a minute earlier, and the impulsive mice now waited a minute longer.  The mice did not receive new organs or new genes or new training. Just some new germs. So next time you’re squeamish about holding the subway pole, or you’re reaching for antibacterial goop and it isn’t because you’re about to perform surgery, remember: Most germs are our friends.  Er...most microbes are our friends, I mean. Old habits die hard. Skenazy is a keynote speaker and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids”

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Concern for middle schoolers’ well-being, 75 MORTON continued from p. 1

The meeting’s focus was what the “theme” of 75 Morton should be. Technically, it’s not required for the new school to have a particular theme or specialized focus. But the idea of a school theme and philosophy was used to drive the discussion about what attributes and core mission 75 Morton should have. For example, should the new Village-area middle school be laser-focused on academic excellence, or are there other qualities that local parents would prefer emphasized in their children’s education? As became clear by the meeting’s end, most parents in attendance favored a middle school that would instill a “core value system” in their children, rather than an elite sort of “Stuyvesant Middle School.” Bonnie Laboy, superintendent of School District 2, gave a general explanation of themed schools. There are “pure theme-based schools,” she said, giving the example of Ballet Tech, a fourth-to-eighth-grade district school where students are on a path to become ballet dancers. There is the Harbor School on Governors Island, where students study marine science. Yet, even theme-based schools have a larger liberal arts core, she noted, adding that it’s best for young people not to be pigeonholed too early into specific fields. “Middle school should be a place for and of exploration for them,” Laboy said. “I hope that you keep this in mind.”

District 75 concerns There were some parents of District 75 students in the audience who expressed concern that the new school will separate out these 100 special-needs students by giving them the building’s second floor, while the rest of the students will be on floors three through five. This will create two “separate entities,” these parents protested. However, Gary Hecht, superintendent of District 75, responded, “It’s one school. It’s a one-school model.” Unconvinced, a parent of a former special-needs student, said, “I find it’s a throwback to an earlier era. The idea that you would deliberately segregate them.” Who chooses the principal? another parent in the audience asked. That answer was more clear-cut. “I choose the principal, yes, that’s my responsibility,” Laboy said authoritatively, with a smile. Next a panel of education experts took seats on the gymatorium’s stage,

14

November 12, 2015

PHOTOS BY LU CHIH-IAN

Shino Tanikawa, president of C.E.C. 2, making a point in one of the breakout groups toward the end of the three-hour meeting.

where they shared their thoughts and experiences about the process of forming a new middle school, and then growing it. Like Laboy, Terri Ruyter, principal of the Battery Park City School,

ing, she said. “When you put a basketball in a kid’s hands, they become a different person,” she noted. “Science classes take students’ minds in a different direction.” She added that the middle school will naturally evolve. “You’ll find that at Morton St., it will be a work in progress,” she explained.

‘We want our kids to be good citizens, with a love of learning, social responsibility and inclusiveness.’

Jonathan Levin, principal of the Clinton School for Writers and Artists, which is a themed school, said, for him, it’s a balancing act between staying true to the school’s core principles but also ensuring that the students get a balanced education. “We have to remember that these are fifth graders,” he said, adding that, at this point, it’s often really the parents who are directing their young children into these specialized areas of study. Like Ruyter, he said, “In the first few

Heather Campbell

stressed the importance of adolescent students being able to explore different directions and try on different identities. “Most students change their majors in college,” she noted. Sports, music and science are also key parts of students’ school experience, as well as their general well-be-

Keeping a balance

years, the school is going to be growing and changing. That’s why it’s important to keep the dialogue going.” Ann Wiener, an education consultant who was the founding principal of a middle school, emphasized that students at this age are going through tremendous upheaval. “Only 2-year-olds change as much as adolescents,” she noted. Keen Berger, a former president of Community School Board 2 and an education professor, concurred. “In middle school, students’ brains are zigzagging between the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex, where they are trying to figure it all out,” she said. “So I want to see a school with a lot of social interaction.” Likewise, Leona Casella, a teacher, said, “At the end of the day, relationships are the most important thing in middle school. As Keen said, the brain is all over the place.” Mark Alter, an educator and professor, said starting a new school is a tremendous opportunity, and that parents won’t go wrong if they just let the students do their thing. “You’re in an incredible state now — kids learning,” he said. “Just don’t get in their way.” 75 MORTON continued on p. 15

TheVillager.com


core values at meeting on theme for 75 Morton 75 MORTON continued from p. 14

Diversity, bilingual, tech... A parent in the audience said it was important to her that the school be racially integrated, which she said would make her child both “a better person,” plus better equipped to deal with a diverse society. Another parent expressed her hope for a dual-language school. Another school mom, Linda Ferrando, noted that many professionals today in fields like music and journalism have an inadequate understanding of digital technology and are “suffering” because of it. The school should make sure to instill tech skills in its students, she recommended. Parents had a chance to offer further input as the audience was separated into four “breakout” groups for more discussion on a possible theme for the new school. Holly Noto, a volunteer with 75MCA who helped run the meeting, urged the audience members to use Post-It pads and pens that were left under their chairs to jot down their “wants” for the school. “Those Post-It notes under your chair are your voice,” she said. Giving an example, she said, “If we all write down that we want chocolate cupcakes, we’re gonna get ’em.” Again, in the breakout groups, just as on the experts’ panel, concern about the young students’ well-being and development took precedence. “I work in technology, but technology creates isolation,” offered one parent on the dual-edged nature of tech in the classroom. Opined a father, “Since it’s a big school, diversity and collaboration could be the centerpiece.” A woman in his group chimed in, “I went to a Quaker school. Their theme was caring, cooperation.” As the parents gave their ideas, 75MCA members jotted them down on large pieces of white paper on the wall and also stuck the parents’ Post-Its with their written thoughts alongside them.

Connect to Google? Another mom suggested that 75 Morton be an “art and technology” school and form relationships with the new Whitney Museum of American Art and Google, which are both in the neighborhood. “I’m thinking about where the school is, what the context is,” she explained. “We are near the Cherry Lane and the Atlantic Theater,” added another woman in her group, on the same page in terms of forming local arts connections. However, one father pointed out, “We don’t have to have a theme. It could be the Greenwich Village School of Excellence.” Campbell, though, who was co-moderating this breakout group, pointed out that a theme is useful “to give some guidance to the hire that’s going to be made,” referring to the school’s principal. Also, Campbell added, “The theme is part of the sales pitch. We have to differentiate the school.” However, the father — apparently hoping for an academically rigorous school — persisted. “I keep coming back to the theme of excellence,” he said. “The Greenwich Village School of Excellence — isn’t that what every school wants to be?” But the woman who had suggested an TheVillager.com

Terri Ruyter, principal of the Battery Park City School, stressed the importance of giving middle schoolers a full and balanced educational experience.

arts-and-technology-based school was concerned at the sound of that idea. “I like the term ‘excellence,’ but I don’t really know what that means,” she said. “I hear ‘excellence,’ I think of a very academic idea. But there’s also excellence in emotional intelligence.” Another woman sitting in the circle pitched in: “I’d like to support the idea of excellence in communication skills.”

Beyond academics As the meeting, which lasted more than three hours, drew to a close, the moderators of the breakout groups each recapped their groups’ discussions. “An academic theme, while wonderful, was a little too limiting for us,” Campbell reported of her group. “We want our kids to be good citizens, with a love of learning, social responsibility and inclusiveness.” The moderator of group number two said their priorities included “being part of the community: The school should be accountable to the community and vice versa.” A moderator for group number three reported, “The primary topic was inclusion over here.” In group four, the moderator announced, “We didn’t like going as hardcore as Ballet Tech. There was talk of potentially being bilingual.” Noto said she would collect all the input and give it to the Department of Education and Community Education Council District 2. “And District 75!” called out a parent of a special-needs student in the audience. Speaking afterward, Emily Hellstrom, said, “The school doesn’t have to have a theme. It’s really what the community wants. It could be any-

thing that we envision. I think D.O.E. really wants to know what we have to say because D.O.E. wants buy-in. We’re going to get a top principal and top-level staff.” Admissions for the school — whether it will be zoned or screened and so on — will admittedly be a “thorny” topic, as it always is for any school, Hellstrom said. But, above all, she said, “This is a win-win for District 2 because it’s a badly needed school, and it’s going to be a great school.”

‘Not separate but equal’ As for the concerns about the District 75 students being on a separate floor, Campbell clarified, “It’s not separate but equal or relegated, but rather floors that are focused and take into consideration special needs, and then can meet those needs — creating classrooms tailored to the children in D75. The second floor is dedicated to D75 classrooms and the third-to-fifth floors are dedicated to general education classrooms. But the entire first, sixth and seventh, fourth-floor library, playground and potential green roof are shared by all students. There are all types of inclusion possibilities as well: core classes, electives courses, after-school classes, etc.” Michael Markowitz, a former member of C.E.C. 2, told The Villager that he is pushing for 75 Morton to be named the Jane Jacobs School, after the famed late Village activist and urban planner. Berger, who is a core member of 75MCA, reflected that she has found the process of community involvement in the startup of 75 Morton truly inspiring. “I was president of the school board 20 years ago,” she said, “and this 75 Morton thing is amazing.” November 12, 2015

15


Envisioning an outstanding new middle school EDITORIAL

T

he “envisioning” meeting on programming for the new 75 Morton St. middle school on Nov. 2 was truly eye-opening, in that it was so inspiring. To take a step back, the idea for this desperately needed school — currently being created in a seven-story, former state-owned agency office building at Morton and Greenwich Sts. — began seven years ago as a dream in the mind of local parents, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Community Board 2. After the community identified the building, however, it took some anxious years before the city and state finally agreed to sale terms in 2012, in a deal brokered by thenCity Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who was running for mayor. As a sort of salve to the community, the 75 Morton deal was spun as part of the city’s approval of the highly unpopular plan to redevelop the former St. Vincent’s Hospital site as luxury residences. The purchase agreement for 75 Morton was signed the next year for $40 million.

Fast-forward to the present, and now the school is at last becoming a reality, set to open in fall 2017. The building is being retrofitted with bigger windows to fill it with natural light. There will be a “gymatorium,” a combination gym, auditorium and theater. Local parents had wanted a separate gym and theater, but the School Construction Authority convinced them that one large, convertible space is better than a few smaller ones. The school will even sport its own health facility. But beyond the physical “box” of this school, what is critical is what goes on inside this gleaming new space — namely, the programming. Also of paramount importance is the selection of the principal, in particular, and the staff. The earlier the principal can be chosen, the better, since the school can then focus sooner on its programming. But first there needs to be consensus in terms of what the school’s overriding theme will be. It was clear, at the Nov. 2 meeting, what parents said they didn’t want the school to be like. They generally said they don’t want it to be as “hardcore” as Ballet Tech, for example, a Union Square-area middle school that admits students purely

based on ability in classical ballet. In addition, many parents said they don’t want a school focused singularly on academics. In short, what most parents said they wanted — and what a panel of education experts vigorously endorsed — is a school that nurtures adolescents as individuals, helping them develop confidence, social skills and their unique abilities. Beyond that, many parents said it’s extremely important to them that their children be instilled with “core values,” that they are good citizens who will help make their community, and their world, a better place. There was also talk of having an arts theme — not surprising for a Village-based school — and tapping into technology. At the same time, there was trepidation about going too far toward tech, at the risk of warping students’ social skills. Making the meeting happen and facilitating it were members of the 75 Morton Community Alliance. This group of Village-area parents and education leaders is the outgrowth of the early community effort to create the 75 Morton school. Many of them are mothers whose

children will attend this new middle school, so they have a vested interest in making it as great as it can be. Obviously, parental involvement is a key to a school’s success. In this case, though, this group of parents has taken an incredibly proactive role in helping to shape the school. Their names are too many to mention here, but they are true community heroes in every sense of the word. First, 75MCA focused on the school’s physical space, working with S.C.A. on the design layout. Now, they are starting to focus on programming. Admissions criteria — never an easy process — will be down the road. Issues were raised about District 75 students being relegated to their own floor. However, these special-needs pupils will have access to all the building’s common spaces. The key will be to foster a sense of sensitivity so these students don’t feel second-rate in any way. But, from the sound of it, at this school, that won’t be a problem. The envisioning meeting clearly set the tone for what parents hope this school will be: a nurturing environment that will help develop outstanding, and caring, individuals.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Voter registration made easy To The Editor: On a hot and humid Saturday in September, I stood under the Washington Square Arch, wondering if it was going to rain. Above my head floated a large poster cutout of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate for president. Next to me was my friend and fellow Village Independent Democrat Joe Gallagher, waving a Bernie Sanders head. We were waving these faces back and forth

and attracting the usual jeers and cheers. Over the summer, we at the Village Independent Democrats club started a new campaign to register young people in our neighborhoods to vote. We have set up booths at Washington Square Park, Union Square and at local street fairs. We wave signs, and work with people to fill out voter registration forms. We’ve signed up hundreds of new voters. However, elected officials in New York State have proposed legislation to do this automatically.

IRA BLUTREICH

Automatic voter registration, through the Voter Empowerment Act, has been supported by state Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh. Under this legislation, every eligible citizen would automatically be registered to vote, while only those who opt out would be excluded. This would register more than 2 million new voters in the state. The Voter Empowerment Act would also benefit current voters, plus allow preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds. Please sign our petition by going to Change. org and typing in “Support Automatic Voter Registration in New York.” Erik Coler

Guns on the left and right

Will Sheldon Silver’s defense have wings? 16

November 12, 2015

To The Editor: Re “Sanders is changing U.S. politics — but must think bigger” (talking point, by Joe Allen, Nov. 5): Joe Allen asks, “What are we saying to them about building a bigger, more relevant socialist left today?” It seems to me that Sanders is not saying enough about socialism but instead is saying things like, “Wall St. regulates Congress.” Sometimes he reminds me of Sarah Palin, who has complained about “crony capitalism” and has said that we must support Main St. against Wall St. LETTERS continued on p. 29 TheVillager.com


Talking politics, polls and pubs with Steve Kornacki PROFILE

S

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON teve Kornacki lives and breathes politics. But he drinks Narragansetts. At least, that is, when he’s outside of the MSNBC studio and enjoying the bustling bar scene in the neighborhood he calls home, the East Village. In a quick interview with The Villager in between TV segments on a recent Friday afternoon, Kornacki, 36, laid out the landscape of both the presidential race and his favorite local watering holes. Kornacki, who grew up in Massachusetts, has become one of cable news’s top up-and-coming anchors. He currently hosts MSNBC’s “MTP Daily” on Monday afternoons, and is the station’s political reporter and fill-in host, subbing for Rachel Maddow, as well as Chris Matthews on “Hardball,” as needed. Until last month, he hosted “Up With Steve Kornacki,” an early-morning show on the weekends, which, he admits, put a crimp into his barhopping. He cut his teeth in journalism in New Jersey, where he wrote for a political news site, then went on to cover Congress for Roll Call, before joining the staff at Salon in 2010. In a 2011 Salon article, he came out as gay — at the age of 32. His ongoing assignment now is the 2016 presidential election. It’s a dream beat for this political junkie, who is known for his fact-laden, deep-divestyle reporting. He also recently covered the “House chaos,” as he put it, that saw Paul Ryan elected speaker. He’ll currently break into the newscast at any given moment to report on the latest developments in the presidential race. And in this wacky election, there has been more than ample opportunity. “I just think, to cover this one...this is the most interesting campaign I have ever watched or covered,” he said, speaking after just having wrapped his “The Top of the Two” segment. “The Republican race, it’s just so volatile…the possibility of Trump being the nominee. We were thinking it could be a two-week flash in the pan — and it’s November and he’s the front-runner. “When you break down where his numbers come from, people who call themselves moderate and liberal Republicans, he is cleaning up with them,” he noted of Trump. “And when you see how Mitt Romney won the nomination, he won the moderates. Those are the same voters who are with Trump right now. You’d think they should be with Bush for Chrissake.” O.K., so assuming Trump really does win the G.O.P. nomination, The Villager asked Kornacki, could the Donald actually beat, say, the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, in the general election? Or is that just too ridiculous a thought to even contemplate? “I know the conventional wisdom is this is Hillary Clinton’s dream opponent,” Kornacki offered, though adding, “I look at the breadth of his support on the Republican side. He is such a unique character. There’s such an unpredictability.” That said, Kornacki noted, “I tend to think Rubio is the best bet” to snag the Republican nomination. As for Clinton, he feels, as others pundits do, that she’s starting to look more confident. “I really think that debate performance and TheVillager.com

the Benghazi thing just reassured Democrats,” he said, referring to last month’s debate and Clinton’s comportment in the Benghazi hearing. Does progressive favorite Bernie Sanders have a chance of upsetting her in the primary? The Vermont senator recently won a straw poll of 300 Manhattan Democratic political club members in Chelsea held after they watched a debate between surrogates for the three candidates. Yet, Kornacki explained, while Sanders is polling strongly in Iowa and New Hampshire, two heavily white states — “these would be Bernie Sanders’s dream states,” he pointed out — the South Carolina primary could bring him crashing back to earth. South Carolina is 55 percent black, and Clinton is leading Sanders among black voters by a whopping 70 points. “He has basically no support among black voters,” Kornacki stated. “He’s been trying to hit the right issues and getting no traction.” In other words, even if Clinton tanks in Iowa and New Hampshire, she still has the numbers in the long run.

‘Mitt Romney won the nomination with the Republican moderates. Those are the same voters who are with Trump right now.’

Flashing back to previous presidential elections, Kornacki, the student of politics, noted, “I am pretty sure Bill Clinton got 80 percent of the black vote on Super Tuesday in 1992. Walter Mondale crushed Hart with black voters in the South in 1984.” In short, he said, “Sanders has half of what Obama had in ’08,” namely because Clinton seemingly has a firm hold on the lion’s share of black support. In ’08, Obama had support from white college-educated liberals, just as Sanders does now. But black voters, initially skeptical of Obama, flocked to him once he proved he could win by upsetting Clinton in the Iowa caucuses. Kornacki simply does not foresee a similar scenario where black voters rally behind the socialist senator. Asked what he thinks of the Ben Carson phenomenon — another nonpolitician riding surprisingly high in the polls — Kornacki said, “It’s coming from evangelical voters — it’s the source of his strength. Maybe it’s his humility, his humble bearing. It’s a symbol of how topsy-turvy this election has been.” As for New York City politics, Kornacki said, “I’m an observer.” However, with Mayor Bill de Blasio trying to have a role on the bigger stage, local and national politics are intersecting. Regarding de Blasio’s long-delayed endorsement of Clinton, it went over like a lead balloon. The Clinton campaign released a list of 130 PROFILE continued on p. 27 November 12, 2015

17


We need to make the Pier 40 deal our deal TALKING POINT BY ARTHUR Z. SCHWARTZ

L

ast month, the media reported what only a select few knew up to that point. Namely, that two possible scenarios are on the table for the St John’s Building, the massive, hulking structure sitting across the street from Pier 40 (which, if you don’t know, is at the foot of W. Houston St). Under one scheme, a 48-story hotel would be built “as of right,” meaning no zoning changes would be required. Under the other scenario, a massive development of apartments, up to 34 stories tall at its highest point, with 1,586 residential units, would be constructed. It is not clear whether this second option would be all rentals, or part rentals and part condos, but what is clear is that 30 percent of those apartments would be “affordable.” According to the Mayor’s Office, these affordable units will include moderate-income and low-income units and senior housing. In return for getting the zoning changes they need, the developers would “buy Pier 40’s air rights” for $100 million (which would be used only to repair Pier 40), commit to a perpetual contribution to Hudson River Park, and would open up the tunnel-like end of W. Houston St. by creating a publicly accessible garden that light can filter through. Let me get one thing out of the way first. Once upon a time, everything related to Pier 40 was open and transparent. In fact, everything related to the Hudson River Park was open and transparent. Then sometime around December 2013 / January 2014 we heard about a secret deal involving the St. John’s Building and Pier 40. We heard about it only because someone blabbed to The New York Times. The public outcry led to the secret deal’s demise. Not long thereafter, we heard about an even bigger secret deal, the one to build “Pier55,” just south of W. 14th  St. Intricate plans had been negotiated for a year or more with entertainment millionaire Barry Diller to build, with more than $100 million of his own money, an “island” for the performing arts. We were told that if the negotiations had been made public, the deal would not have come to fruition. Now, as the Pier55 deal goes through a public review process involving the Army Corps of Engineers, with very limited public input, only a few cosmetic details will change. (The plan is facing a legal challenge

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on environmental grounds, though, and may still be killed in court.) The Hudson River Park Trust once again withstood a barrage of criticism over its secrecy, but has forged ahead. This St. John’s deal had a little more input. Councilmember Corey Johnson played a major role in negotiations, as, no doubt, did Community Board 2 Chairperson Tobi Bergman and possibly other C.B. 2 leaders, but the plan has been shaped, thus far, by a small group. I actually think that public projects can be shaped with public input and knowledge, and that having a community learn about a major development through the morning newspaper is not a way to build genuine community support. That being said, the “Affordable Apartment Plan” (my name) looks to me like a winner, but it is likely to come under attack. Notice that other local elected officials, most especially Assemblymember Deborah Glick, have not signed on to the plan, and do not appear to have been part of the negotiations, which centered around the application of city zoning laws. But the lack of a supportive announcement about the plan from Glick could foretell a public fight. One key player in the plan is Mayor de Blasio, and a second is City Planning Commission Chairperson Carl Weisbrod, who not long ago was heading up an effort to figure out how to get more funding for Hudson River Park. Those are important friends to have, in part, because they have a major role in the final decision, but also because the mayor wants to be re-elected and wants us voters to be happy. So we have to look at this plan, figure out why it is good, and then figure out how to make it better. And we have been promised that the

A massing study from the scoping document for the St. John’s Center project, above, showing what the developers, St. John’s Partners, would like to build. They will need a zoning change to allow residential use.

An option showing what could be built under the current zoning.

Commission hearings, to City Council hearings and debate — will be open to genuine community input, unlike so many other ULURP proceedings (such as those about the St. Vincent’s Hospital site). First, this plan is great because it will pump $100 million into Pier 40, a key to the recreational needs of West Siders — young and old — from Midtown to Battery Park. The pier is deteriorating and Governor Cuomo seems to have no interest in putting state funds into it.  Perhaps this money will also save the Hudson River Park Trust from ever having to turn to the private sector to make Pier 40 work. But that’s a big perhaps, and we have seen some horrific proposals for the pier come out of the private sector because the Trust wants to make a huge amount of money from the Pier 40 operation.

It is great that there will be ‘affordable’ housing in the Village, something that has largely disappeared, and even better that there will be senior housing. ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) process — which sees zoning changes move from community board hearings, to City Planning

Those efforts have failed a number of times since 2003. So Community Demand Numbers One and Two need to be that there be genuine public input into shaping the pier’s future, and that those plans  not  be centered around commercial uses or developers who will generate large profits for the park. Three, we need to make sure that this doesn’t become the beginning of a South Village real estate boom that envelopes the existing historic district just to the east. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has had an application pending for years to landmark the whole South Village. That application needs to move forward and be approved as part of this deal. Not only will this landmarking prevent the destruction of buildings east of Greenwich St. and north of Houston St., it will preserve existing affordable housing stock, which will only become more vulnerable as the St. John’s development comes to fruition. It is great that there will be “affordable” housing in the Village, somePIER 40 continued on p. 27 TheVillager.com


Give ’Em That Earth Time Religion

Reverend Billy and Choir appeal to our better nature BY SCOTT STIFFLER

T

he charismatic scourge of consumerism has an idea he wants to sell you on. “Earth justice and human justice are, and need, to be the same thing,” asserts the man on the other end of the phone, who announces himself in the guise of a Bible salesman offering Old Testament brimstone and New Covenant wisdom that you can’t afford to ignore. Empowered by righteous anger, prankster activism and a young daughter set to inherit this profit-before-people world, Reverend Billy brings his ministry — without invitation and sometimes resulting in jail time — to chain stores, bank lobbies, and corporate offices. You’ll also find him on picket lines, in protest marches, and at sites of environmental despoliation. His message varies (workers are suffering, species are disappearing, toxins are polluting, consumers are overspending), but his method is the same: aggressive satire and strength in numbers. Beginning on November 15, Reverend Billy brings his deadly serious, laugh-out-loud brand of street theatre to the great indoors. That the six-week run takes place during the height of gift-giving season is no mere coincidence. Although its mission continues to evolve, The Church of Stop Shopping is still firmly rooted in the notion that most folly visited upon this planet stems from mankind’s unchecked appetite for disposable pleasures. With a 30-member choir and a guitar/drum/keyboard combo filling the Joe’s Pub stage up to its brim, Reverend Billy’s 70-minute Sunday service (seen by this publiTheVillager.com

PHOTO BY ERIK MCGREGOR

When Rev. Billy, the 30-member Stop Shopping Choir and a three-piece band set up shop, Joe’s Pub overflows with earthy activism.

cation in previews) effectively distills the essence of his many causes. “Our hot experiment,” says Reverend Billy, “puts out the idea that the issues we embrace integrate and become a simple human value in our fabulous worship. I have this incredible wave of punk gospel blowing through me. To be on stage with activists who sing, and singers who risk arrest, is a revelation.” That risk is real, every time the Church takes their crusade against avarice and injustice into the public sphere. Stop Shopping Choir members — who recently retired their trademark robes in favor of extinction-themed honeybee chic — have been arrested “many times over the past fifteen years,” according to Church spokesperson Marnie Glickman, and have been subject to

bodily harm more times than they care to count. A member of the Choir met the business end of a Doorbuster stampede back in 2008 during a group pilgrimage to the Valley Stream, NJ Walmart, where they attempted to reason with the mob. Bargain-hunters didn’t get the joke, which is tough to do when you’re laser-focused on a mission. Happily, the Church doesn’t have a problem finding humor amidst chaos (which is downright infectious if you’re the right audience). In 2014, over two dozen Church members found themselves in Ferguson, MO Walmart and Target stores — without incident, this time, but joined by “young African Americans,” recalls Reverend Billy, who were “shouting ‘Hands Up,

Don’t Shop.’ So we affirmed our decades-long fetish not only against consumerism, but what we call ‘Consumerracism.’ ” From the minimum wage, to the revolving door between business and government, to the toxic glyphosates “banned in most European countries but still being sprayed here in our great liberal town,” to police forces meeting protesters while dressed in military-grade gear, Reverend Billy says we “keep finding consumerism is always there, in a big way.” In the Reverend’s slogan-packed proselytizing, as well as in songs like “We Are The 99%,” all of these topics were given stage time at Joe’s Pub, along with a chance to declare BILLY continued on p.23 November 12, 2015

19


Fall into festival mode

More good stuff on deck than there are leaves on the ground

COURTESY JAY MICHAELS ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

PHOTO BY SEAN SHAPIRO

No tall tales, just real life — when 6’ 1” former pro b-baller Terri Mateer’s “A Kind Shot” holds court at MITF: Fall.

Stripped bare: “Flyer Guy” dissects David Lawson’s days as a Times Square promo man — part of Nov. 20-22’s SOLOCOM.

BY SCOTT STIFFLER

Whether working every angle on the court or navigating the field of life, former pro basketball player Terri Mateer has taken plenty of hits — but that hasn’t diminished her drive to score. Performed with an athlete’s grace and confidence (but none of the indulgent swagger), the 6’ 1” Mateer’s “A Kind Shot” (Nov. 17, 21, 22) has plenty of insider anecdotes and famous names that will appeal to fans of street, college and pro sports. Besides her experience in these worlds, Vermont-raised Mateer also worked as a model, a stripper, and a designer. Raised by a single hippie mom and an African American surrogate father, and mentored by numerous others, she credits them with giving her the fortitude to confront sexual abuse and harassment. “The point of my story,” Mateer says, “is to inspire people to look out for each other.” MITF: Fall performances take place through Nov. 22, at the Workshop Theater’s Jewel Theater (312 W. 36 St. btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves., fourth floor). For tickets and info on all shows, ($20), visit midtownfestival.org.

MITF: FALL

We had mid-summer weather for most of last week — so why not have an autumnal version of the annual July/August Midtown International Theater Festival? This desperate stab at linkage is probably not what led founder John Chatterton to cook up “MITF: Fall.” A more likely inspiration is the year-round bumper crop of applicants, whose forceful personalities are more than enough to compensate for the fest’s no-frills staging. Those who make the cut are rewarded with free rehearsal space, a three-performance run, and the chance to exit the fest with a lifetime calling card to the rest of the world: the fact that you’ve performed in the heart of Manhattan, before rising sea levels from years of mid-70s November temps render it navigable only by canoe. We don’t know when that scenario will play itself out, but these performances are destined to take place over the next few weeks: Accounts from family members and soldier’s letters — from the American Revolution to Afghanistan — are enacted by Douglas Taurel, in “The American Soldier,” with particular focus on the challenges veterans face upon re-entry to civilian life (Nov. 18, 20, 22). In playwright Cameron Fife’s dark comedy “Killing Diaz,” five close friends conspire to commit the titular murder, in an extreme but effective attempt to avoid an awkward conversation (Nov. 18, 20, 21).

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SOLOCOM

Ah, the moment of birth: a little messy and sometimes accompanied by swear words, it is — for those of us not doing the grunt work — our one shot to say we were there at the start of something big. And so it goes at SOLOCOM, the world’s “only world premiere solo comedy festival.” Presented by the Peoples Improv Theater, at their always-packed E. 24th St. base and

their recently reclaimed loft space on W. 29th St., this year’s three-day fest will present never-before-seen works of sketch, storytelling, standup, physical comedy, music, multi-media, improv, cabaret, and clowning. With 120 offerings, numbers aren’t its only strength. Brevity (shows range from 15-60 minutes) keeps things moving at a brisk clip, and gives the artists plenty of room to develop their newborn into a bigger, stronger work with long legs. For example: British comedian Maggie Gallant grew up with parents whose idea of style was an itchy knit swimsuit, and whose ideal present for her 11th birthday was a leather briefcase. Convinced she wasn’t part of this odd brood, Gallant got a shock when she looked up the family tree. “A Fate Worse Than French” has her confronting the shocking truth, and dealing with its aftermath (Nov. 22). Closer to home, “Flyer Guy” is a collection of David Lawson’s strange and possibly traumatic stories, from three years spent eking out a living as one of those poor souls tasked with convincing Times Square tourists to take their flyers (Nov. 20). In “Dammit, Jim! I’m a Comedienne, Not a Doctor!,” Canada’s Polly Esther tells of how a casual virgin viewing of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” plunged her into a two-year voyage through every cinematic and TV permutation of Gene Roddenberry’s universe, culminating in her trip to a Las Vegas convention (Nov. 21). Thinking Continued on p. 21 TheVillager.com


Autumn fest harvest time Continued from p. 20

man’s boylesque entertainer and sex toy test drive blogger Lucas Brooks — sweet and tart and occasionally baring more than his soul in Feb. 2015’s cautionary STD tale “Cootie Catcher” — comes to SOLCOM with another tasty venture. “I Am My Own Cast Party” is a blur of cattle call auditions and artistic oddities, through which Brooks totally crushes on that cocky little heartbreaker known as the American stage (Nov. 21). SOLOCOM happens Fri., Nov. 20th through Sun., Nov. 22nd at The People’s Improv Theater (aka The PIT, at 123 E. 24 St. Park Ave. & Lexington) and The PIT Loft (154 W. 29th St. btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). For tickets ($25 festival pass, $10 single tickets), visit ThePIT-nyc.com/solocom.

DOC NYC

Social justice struggles and curtain-peeling looks at show business (both geo and local) distinguish this year’s installment of America’s largest documentary festival. From a roster of over 200 films, many of the directors and their subjects will be in attendance. The fest opens with filmmaker Jon Alpert and HBO Documentary Films head Sheila Nevins in conversation, after the world premiere of Alpert’s short film “Mariela Castro’s March: Cuban’s LGBT Revolution.” Also on opening night, director Barbara Kopple (Oscar winner for the influential 1976 coal mining labor strike doc “Harlan County, USA”) is on hand along with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, for the US premiere of “Miss Sharon Jones!” On Nov. 16, director Michiel Thomas is in attendance for the NYC premiere of “Game Face,” about the

public lives of a transgender Mixed Martial Artist and a gay college basketball player. Shot at NYC’s Joe’s Pub, David Kornfield’s “The Red Umbrella Diaries” has monologues from seven sex workers (Nov. 16). Director Adam Sjöberg is expected to appear on Nov. 15 and 17 for “I Am Sun Mu,” about a former North Korean propaganda artist who applies those skills to satirical pop art. Brooklyn-based and Chelsea-born Hillevi Loven makes her directorial debut with “Deep Run,” in which a teen trans man comes of age in deeply evangelical North Carolina. Executive producer Susan Sarandon joins Loven for at Q&A at the Nov. 17 screening, with subject Cole Ray Davis also in attendance for the Nov. 14 NYC premiere. “Daddy Don’t Go” (Nov. 14) is Emily Abt’s two-year look at four low-income fathers. Executive produced by Omar Epps and Malik Yoba, it’s a positive if not always uplifting look at the daily challenges faced by young men dedicated to raising their children. While “Daddy” offers a new image of the American family, Peter Flynn’s “The Dying of the Light” (Nov. 18,) is equally concerned with preserving the old ways. Focusing on career film projectionists in the New York area who continue to unspool celluloid in an age of digital domination, “Light” also provides a ray of hope, by charting the effort to restore over 100 projectors needed for 70mm screenings of Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.” DOC NYC happens Nov. 12–19 at the IFC Center (323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St.), the SVA Theatre (333 W. 23rd St. btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.) and Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas (260 W. 23rd St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). For tickets ($17, $15 for seniors/children), visit docnyc.net.

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COURTESY WINTERSONG TASHLIN, WINTER WIND PHOTOGRAPHY

Stop draggin’ his heart around! Lucas Brooks flirts with theater, in SOLOCOM’s “I Am My Own Cast Party.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FILMMAKERS

Brooklyn-based, Chelsea-born filmmaker Hillevi Loven’s “Deep Run” screens Nov. 14 and 17 as part of DOC NYC.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FILMMAKERS

“Daddy Don’t Go,” Emily Abt’s two-year look at four low-income fathers, screens Nov. 14 at DOC NYC. November 12, 2015

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The existential dread of a clown

Brilliant, bleak ‘Entertainment’ wanders out west BY SEAN EGAN

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ick Alverson’s brilliant new feature, “Entertainment,” is an emotionally overwhelming sensory experience, which will leave those who can handle its unflinching bleakness dazed, confused, shaken and depressed. And Alverson wouldn’t have it any other way. “We’ve been taught for three quarters of a century in the United States and in American popular cinema to read our films in a traditional literary, narrative style, and essentially we’re looking to unpack that experience,” Alverson says. “What movies seem to bring, the potential of them is sort of in this tonal, temporal experience. The intellect being stimulated and activated and engaged could be a wonderful by-product of that, but you know, I think that it mostly is engaged when the experience doesn’t fit neatly into those prescribed categories; when the intellect isn’t just an arbiter of and a reader of the film, and has to wrestle with what the content is, and what the form is.” The film’s “plot,” as it were, concerns a character known simply as the Comedian. Played by Gregg Turkington (who co-wrote with Alverson and alt-comedy mainstay Tim Heidecker), the Comedian cuts a prickly but tragic figure, marching through the desert on a tour of dead-end clubs and dive bars. When not performing, he skulks around in near-silence visiting underwhelming tourist traps, and leaves his estranged daughter daily voicemails that go unanswered. Onstage, however, he springs to life, wearing an oversized tux and cradling drinks, delivering material

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COURTESY MAGNOLIA PICTURES

Gregg Turkington as the Comedian, in a position of stark isolation — his natural habitat.

(as incredibly dated as it is blue) in a nasal whine, with stilted timing that all but guarantees audience confusion and/or hostility. It’s a riff on Neil Hamburger, Turkington’s longtime anti-comedy performance art standup persona that Alverson and co. expand upon here. Juxtaposing the Comedian’s ill-received performances and his miserable personal life allows the protagonist to slowly unravel, and creates the mounting existential dread that provides the thrust of the film’s narrative. “Even more than sympathy, I think it’s a character that’s pitiable, which I think, as audiences, is something that’s even more attractive to us, because it allows us to elevate ourselves in relation to this person,” Alverson

comments on the decision to work from the Hamburger archetype and explore his off-stage identity. Almost as significant a character as the Comedian is the barren, oppressive sprawl of the western desert itself. Alverson admits to using motifs from American popular cinema as “raw materials” to shape the film’s structure, from the “stereotype of the spiritual journey in the desert, to the unlimited potential of the west,” and also notes his “obsessions and interests” that worked their way into the movie. “One of them is an American utopian bent — you know, this idea of the unlimited potential of things,” the director reveals. “And I’m obsessed with the idea that that’s the source of a lot of, if not all our global problems, is the outsourcing of this dream, that can’t expire, that has no limits or edges. You know, when the world is full of limitations, and limitations are beautiful and necessary.” As a deconstruction of the utopian myth of the west, it plays on the tropes of road movies admirably — and it’s clear its uncompromising, iconoclastic style shares some DNA with ’70s-era American independent cinema. “Five Easy Pieces” is even directly name-checked, though with its dream-like segues, emphasizing of sound and music over dialogue, and expressive use of color, it calls to mind another Bob Rafelson joint — the psychedelic fever dream/Mon-

kees vehicle, “Head.” Overall, the formal mastery on display creates an uneasy, immersive atmosphere of quasi-hallucinatory isolation. “Dialogue is not a narrative driver in any of my movies, and it won’t be, largely because I have this aversion to this unpacking and reading of the thing, and being essentially pulled by the author,” Alverson explains. “The intention was to deal with that totally formally as opposed to narratively,” he continues. “I think that the thing was made to be slippery. It starts off very naturalistic, and you do lead it like a traditional narrative, and everything becomes apparent. It’s very one-dimensional and very simple and standard, about the journey and this sort of thing. But then it becomes slippery and harder to actually wrestle out a compact meaning or experience of the thing, so that it becomes more surreal.” Indeed, trying to pull out a succinct lesson from the movie is difficult. A cousin played by John C. Reilly seems to be a warning against compromising or commercializing art, and a crass clown (Tye Sheridan) on tour with the Comedian is a stand-in for the empty, debased entertainment people regularly consume. For his part, Alverson sees the film as something of a “welcome swan song to the white, European, ENTERTAINMENT continued on p. 23 TheVillager.com


‘Entertainment’ an unflinching, overwhelming experience ENTERTAINMENT continued from p. 22

male dominant culture that we’ve had for centuries,” and hopes the film makes its audience consider the impact entertainment has on them and the world at large. “We outsource this concept of limitless American potential, and the attainable American dream for all of the population, which is absolutely impossible. So, you know, I think that in our entertainment and our media, is a tool by which that narrative is facilitated,” Alverson explains. “If we don’t think every time we turn on a show on Netflix, or television, or click on a story on a page that it’s not promoting or selling something, whether it’s a concept, or an ideology, or goods, then we’re kidding ourselves.” Alverson’s view isn’t entirely nihilistic however, as he recognizes there’s “the promise of art as something that’s distinct from disposable entertainment” — though as a caveat, he believes art should “upset and animate and have some sort of constructive potential.” “Entertainment” upsets and challenges both its audience and its characters in the best of ways. Throughout the film the Comedian repeatedly brays the question “Why?” as a setup to his hackneyed jokes, becoming

COURTESY MAGNOLIA PICTURES

John C. Reilly (right) tries to shift Gregg Turkington’s Comedian to the mainstream.

something of an obnoxious catchphrase. But as things progress, the phrase starts to sound less like a joke, and more like a desperate plea for anything to make sense in his life — and a cue for viewers to question what they’re watching. And like the God of his film, Alverson offers no easy answers to this inquisition. “I’ve taken this approach to not so

much talk about the content of the thing, because I think there’s this imbalance where all we talk about is content. You read ninety percent of criticism of movies, everybody just says, ‘This is what something’s about,’ ” Alverson claims. “Well what did you see and hear? That’s the experience. It’s a little frightening because there’s something hap-

pening there that people seem to be unaware of, that’s what they’re seeing and hearing — the actual physical experience of the thing.” “Entertainment” runs 102 min. Opens Nov. 13 at Landmark Sunshine Cinema (143 E. Houston St. btw. First & Second Aves.) and On Demand. For tickets and info, visit landmarktheatres. com/new-york-city.

Preaching ‘punk gospel’ at Joe’s Pub and beyond BILLY continued from p. 19

victory on at least one front. The Nov. 8 preview came on the heels of Obama’s Keystone decision. Proof, Billy noted, that “Earth Culture stopped the pipeline.” That made for a nice segue to the upbeat “Gratitude Song,” a golden oldie Church hymn that canonizes activist saints, willing martyrs, and innocent victims — but the majority of selections land on the side of active struggle rather than cautious optimism. “Get home safe” and “run for your life” are alternately hushed and urgent refrains in two early selections, causing Reverend Billy to note, “Even when the dogs don’t bark, they can bite your ass.” “Make that anger righteous, not reckless,” a Choir member shouts. Good advice when Reverend Billy asks us to ponder both sides of the protest line: “Two institutions with TheVillager.com

PHOTO BY ERIK MCGREGOR

Reverend Billy and The Church of Stop Shopping take a message as big as Times Square and squeeze it onto the intimate Joe’s Pub stage, Sundays through Dec. 20.

pavement between us,” he says. “We’ve got to fill that pavement with bacteria and birds and nature.” With the Choir clapping, music thumping, and Reverend Billy giving every syllable in “Earth-a-lujah!” its own sense of end times urgency, you don’t know whether to tap your toes or change the world. This is one church service that puts you back on the street convinced life is at its best when we strive to do both, preferably at the same time. “Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir: The Earth Wants YOU!” plays through Dec. 20, Sundays at 2 p.m. (doors open at 1:30 p.m.), at Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette St. btw. Astor Pl. & E. Fourth St.). For tickets ($15, plus $12 food or two-drink minimum), visit joespub.publictheater.org or call 212-967-7555. Get info on Church activities, and their new “Resist Extinction” album, at revbilly.com. November 12, 2015

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PHOTO BY CODY BROOKS

Dr. Dave Ores, left, presents chef Chris Santos with the first Healthy Skillet Award.

Stanton chef makes sure workers’ health is on menu

BY CODY BROOKS

T

Advertise Your Job Opening In Our

HELP WANTED SECTION Call 718.260.2555 26

November 12, 2015

he Restaurant Worker Referral Program hosted its inaugural R.W.R.P. award luncheon on Oct. 28 at Amali restaurant, on E. 60th St., presenting celebrity chef Chris Santos the first ever Healthy Skillet Award for his early and ongoing support in providing free healthcare to his uninsured restaurant workers. Santos, the owner/chef of The Stanton Social, at 99 Stanton St. and Beauty and Essex, at 146 Essex St., has appeared as a judge on Food Network’s “Chopped.” He provides free healthcare for his uninsured employees with the help of R.W.R.P., a nonprofit founded in 2007 by Lower East Side doctor David Ores. R.W.R.P., which is currently active in New York City and Philadelphia, is a grassroots initiative that works because Ores — a.k.a. Dr. Dave — keeps the whole process lean. R.W.R.P. does not use medical insurance and is not a substitute. Instead, restaurants themselves put money into a healthcare pot, and when workers need it, they simply go to Ores at no cost to them. This allows Ores to forego hunting down insurance claims and the additional cost of hiring employees to keep the subsequent paperwork orderly. The cost is very low. The minimum base fee is $75 per month for restaurants with under five workers. For eateries with from five to 14 workers, another $75 is added on, and for every 10 additional workers beyond that, another $75 is added. (R.W.R.P.’s Web site notes that this pricing is approximate, depending on the needs of the restaurant). Ores collects about 20 percent from this

monthly fee to help keep himself afloat and, for example, cover group vaccines for the restaurant workers. An important facet of R.W.R.P. is that it is nonprofit, meaning it is tax exempt. “If we weren’t, it would be one-third of the money,” making the plan unviable, Ores noted. Ores explained that he created R.W.R.P., in part, because he saw patients that held off seeing him until their medical issues were severe. “For a decade I was seeing workers that came in too late,” he said. “They were coughing for two months, or their hand got infected up to their elbow. I started getting annoyed.” He spoke to the restaurant owners and developed what became R.W.R.P. to encourage workers to see him earlier for “a first look.” It is all the more important because these patients work at restaurants. “Coughing over food, bacterial infections,” Ores said, noting that this model of healthcare helps everyone, including restaurant customers. According to the group’s Web site, 98 percent of the time, the issue is handled by the R.W.R.P. doctor. Beyond R.W.R.P., Ores provides healthcare to the poor and uninsured in the East Village and Lower East Side at his office on E. Second St. between Avenues A and B. Ores cannot provide all services — he is a general practitioner who refers patients to hospitals if they need it. But he noted at the award luncheon that he tries to end his patients’ problems during their visit to him, as opposed to at that hospital, so that he does not defeat the purpose of R.W.R.P. TheVillager.com


Kornacki: Politics to pubs PROFILE continued from p. 17

mayors who are supporting her, and de Blasio wasn’t even listed first. “They tried to make the endorsement an event,” Kornacki noted of the de Blasio camp. “Instead, they alienated the Clinton people. He ran her 2007 Senate campaign. She’s responsible for his success, in a sense.” In fact, he said, it’s her opponent Sanders, not de Blasio, who has been pushing Clinton to take more liberal positions. If the New York mayor is hoping to affect the Iowa vote, polls show voters out there don’t really have a sense of who he is, Kornacki noted. Kornacki has lived in the East Village in two separate stints, the first for two years, in 2007 and 2008, and now for the last three years. Asked what he enjoys about the neighborhood, he said, “I like that it’s a cool mix of the old and new. There are a lot of young people from all over the place. But you walk down Second Ave. and you see the Ukrainian social club and the Ukrainian federal credit union. My family on my mother’s side is Ukrainian. And there are the big old Catholic churches” — well, at least those that haven’t been knocked down for development yet. “To be honest, I love the bars,” Kornacki said. “I hate fancy bars with expensive drinks, where you have to dress up.” Some favorites he listed are Sophie’s, 7B / Horseshoe Bar — “whatever it’s called,” he said. “I call it Horseshoe Bar. My friends all call it 7B.” “Lucy’s might be my all-time favorite because of Lucy,” he said. “Standings sports bar on Seventh between Second and Third, it’s gotta be the coolest sports bar in the country. … Seventh and First, we all call it ‘Tile Bar.’ I love Coal Yard, at Sixth and First Ave. Oh, oh! — Drop Off Service, at 13th and A.” His go-to brew is Narragansett, not surprising given his New England roots. He’s a little concerned, though, that the East Village scene is starting to morph for the worse. “Avenue A feels like the bar scene is changing a bit,” he said. “There was a place that had a rope line — like the West Village was moving in, or the Meatpacking District…sort of like the bridge-and-tunnel crowd. Not to be derogatory, but… .” In terms of local places to eat, he likes Gruppo for pizza and Fonda for Mexican food, Little Frankie’s and Supper restaurants, plus Barnyard for sandwiches. Before the interview, an MSNBC handler expressly told The Villager not to ask Kornacki about his sexuality. But, as it turned out, the news TheVillager.com

host wasn’t adverse to a question about it. Basically, coming out felt like it would be a big deal, but when he did it, it really wasn’t.

‘I had fears about coming out.’

“Honestly, it’s sort of I don’t think about it,” Kornacki said of his current view of his sexuality. “I had a lot of stress about it for a long time. Once I wrote that essay a few years ago. … I think I pretty much figured it out in high school, but I didn’t deal with it till I was like 30. I had fears about coming out. But being it — and everything is exactly the same — now I’m not paranoid about it.” The interview was winding down, as Kornacki had to jump back in front of the camera. He explained he had to do an interview with the Carson campaign about the “revolt” by the Republican candidates against the networks’ debate format. Between the time of The Villager interview and the writing of this piece, there were, of course, more wild developments in the election, particularly in the Republican race, such as, for starters, the media’s accusations that Carson has been lying about his biography. The Villager, this week, asked Kornacki for his take. “I don’t think the Carson controversy has hurt his core support at all,” he responded in an e-mail. “There’s enough gray for the people who already believe in him to believe him when he says he’s being persecuted by the media.” How about Trump’s turn on “Saturday Night Live” and the accompanying “Basta Trump!” protest outside NBC studios at Rockefeller Center? “SNL got big ratings with Trump, so once again he gets to go out and brag about what a big star he is,” Kornacki said. “The protest is nothing new — it’s what he’s been facing since he made his comments at the start of the campaign. As long as he’s at or near the top of the polls and bringing in big ratings hosting SNL, he has the ammunition he needs to dismiss the protests.” Over all, despite what the polls say, how this election turns out, as usual, is anyone’s guess. And Kornacki’s very informed, ongoing take is as good as any. “I look at this pretty much is that I have a one-year sprint to the presidential election,” he said.

Undercover candidate

PHOTO BY MILO HESS

It was a wrap for Donald Trump this past week on a light pole on Broome St. in Soho. Whether this poster’s “message” was pro- or anti-Trump was unclear. “No idea — that’s what intrigued me,” said the photographer. “Though I lean toward anti because he seems to have gold teeth added.”

We need to make the Pier 40 deal our deal PIER 40 continued from p. 18

thing that has largely disappeared, and even better that there will be senior housing. Linked together with West Village Houses, which still remains largely affordable, the far West Side of the Village could provide an oasis of middle-class living lacking west of First Ave. But how will those people eat and clean their clothes? Community Demand Four has to be for space made available at reasonable rents to an “affordable” grocery chain (like Trader Joe’s or Fairway), the provision of reasonable rental spaces for amenities like a cleaners, a shoe repair shop, a pharmacy, a hardware store, a bakery, a pizzeria and some fair-priced eateries. Demand Five  has to be for additional elementary school classroom space. The 1,500 apartments at the St John’s Center will generate a lot of kids who won’t be able to pay $44,000 per year to attend Village Community School, Little Red or Avenues. And there needs to be subsidized nursery school space and a new elementary school (since P.S. 3 and P.S. 41 are exploding, each with waiting lists for pre-K and kindergarten). Demand Six has to be for a healthcare facility. We won’t get a hospital out of this deal (but why not on Pier 40?) but there will need to be an “affordable” place for folks to see a doctor, a dentist and an optometrist.

There should at least be a large managed care facility that takes all sorts of insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare, and which specializes in signing children up for Children’s Health Plus. Demand Seven? How about the long desired Gay and Lesbian Youth Center being sited on Pier 40, now that the pier has money? As long ago as 2003, a Pier 40 Working Group I chaired recommended that such a center be created on the pier, as an alternative to gay and lesbian youth wandering up and down Christopher St. Neighbors, we need to unite behind this plan, whether it is to keep your child playing soccer at Pier 40, to restore some economic balance to our community (perhaps even some racial balance), to bring some affordable stores back to the West Village, and to expand educational options for parents who make less than $250,000 per year. Do not let the naysayers have their day. But tell the mayor and the City Planning Commission that there are things that need to be done to make this work and to restore some semblance of economic sanity to the West Village.  Someone is going to make a lot of money out of this and we need to get everything we can, as a community, out of this from those making the money! Schwartz is the male Democratic district leader for the Village November 12, 2015

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PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

Madelyn Wils, Hudson River Park Trust C.E.O., has it made in the shades as she pitches some compost into the hopper.

New composter augers well for Hudson River Park plants

H

udson River Park recently got even “greener,” as park officials tossed the first batch of compost material into the waterfront park’s new composter, officially opening the Hudson River Park Composting Center. The composting center will turn the half ton of weeds, branches and other plant waste generated by the park daily into reusable compost to help keep the park’s plants, trees and shrubs healthy and vibrant. Friends of Hudson River Park procured the new automated composter with the support of donor Chris Fiore and L Brands Inc. The 8-foot-wide, 16-foot-long composter is near the park’s Chelsea section, and has a greenhouse-style covering to trap heat and keep out the elements. A giant auger (picture a huge corkscrew) inside the machine automatically churns the materials for 30 minutes twice a day to speed up the composting by aerating the materials. According to Hudson River Park Trust horticulture special-

ists, the best compost is made like a soup. Green compost, such as weeds, grass clippings and other herbaceous materials, acts as a base — like a broth. This is mixed with brown waste, like branches and dried leaves, which are like the vegetables. Finally, it’s topped off with composted food items, like coffee grounds and banana peels, that are packed with nitrogen. The composter then churns and mixes these ingredients, while heating them to 140 degrees to keep the weed seeds from spreading. In 25 days, the compost is ready to use. The composter will help the park save “green,” too — about $40,000 in waste-removal costs — while creating compost worth about $20,000 that would need to be purchased. For now, the food waste in the composter is coming from the Trust’s offices. The park agency is collecting about 25 pounds per week of food waste, and eventually hopes to expand the program and collect compost from the park’s tenants.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR LETTERS continued from p. 16

Bernie Sanders voted against the Brady Act, explaining that he represents a rural pro-gun state. He is not the only person of the left who has expressed progun ideas. In 1970, Bernardine Dohrn, a member of the radical Weather Underground, gave a speech entitled, “A Declaration of a State of War,” in which she said, “Guns and grass are united in the youth underground.” Dohrn sounds like retired Representative Jay Dickey, Republican of Arkansas, who said, “We have the right to bear arms because of the threat of TheVillager.com

government taking over the freedoms that we have” (cited in The New York Times, Jan. 25, 2011). Is Sanders a socialist or is he a rightist? George Jochnowitz E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager. com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters 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. November 12, 2015

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©NYU PHOTO BUREAU

Three grand marshals were feeling grand, from left, Maria Diaz, executive director of G.V.C.C.C.; N.Y.U.’s Laurence Maslon; and Elizabeth Butson, The Villager’s former publisher; receiving a proclamation from state Senator Brad Hoylman.

Chickens flocked Halloween Parade.

to

the

Children’s

Kids enjoy ‘other’ parade so much, that it’s scary!

T

A “Frozen” family thought the event was totally cool.

Kids enjoyed taking a spin on the carousel.

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November 12, 2015

his year marked the 25th anniversary of the Greenwich Village Children’s Halloween Parade, sponsored by Community Board 2 and N.Y.U. Frequently called New York City’s “other” Halloween parade, the Greenwich Village Children’s Halloween Parade was founded in 1990 by C.B. 2’s then-District Manager Arty Strickler. The annual Village Halloween Parade was a large, noisy and not-so-kid-friendly nighttime event.  Strickler, with the help of New York University, established the smaller daytime parade designed especially for area kids.  That first year, the kids’ parade started off small, with about 1,000 paradegoers circling Washington Square Park. The event ended inside the park, with entertainment by the N.Y.U. Pep Band. Back then, N.Y.U. and C.B. 2 handed out some 700 treat bags. In following years, face painters were added, as well as a couple of Moon Bounces to help entertain the children. Strickler died in 2006 at age 60. In 2008, in response to the parade’s growing popularity, its closing festivities were moved out of the park and onto LaGuardia Place to provide additional entertainment. In addition to the Moon Bounces, the organizers have added two giant slides and a carousel.  Popcorn, cotton candy and live entertainment, such as Gazillion Bubble Show, Shira and Friends and performances by Making Books Sing have made the event a success.    This year’s 25th anniversary drew more than 3,000 participants and 1,500 treat bags were handed out.  Hot Peas N’ Butter and DJ Ben the Beyonder entertained the crowd.  The parade grand marshals were selected for their commitment and service to the Greenwich Village community. They included Laurence Maslon, associate chairperson / art

professor at the graduate acting program at N.Y.U.’s Tisch School of the Arts and chairperson of the Superblock Stewardship Advisory Committee; Maria Diaz, executive director of the Greenwich Village - Chelsea Chamber of Commerce; Inspector Joseph Simonetti, Sixth Precinct commanding officer; and Elizabeth Butson, vice chairperson of Jefferson Market Garden and a board member of VillageCare. “This time-honored tradition continues to bring C.B. 2, N.Y.U. and the community together in celebration of Halloween and has grown to be one of the biggest parades we know of for children in Manhattan,” said Arlene Peralta, assistant director of N.Y.U. Community Affairs. “It was also such an honor to receive a proclamation from state Senator Hoylman honoring N.Y.U. and C.B. 2 on our 25th anniversary.” Marie Spears, administrative manager for N.Y.U. Government and Community Affairs, has been part of the parade’s organizing from the very beginning. “As a parent who loves Halloween, I love the creativity of the parents and kids,” she said. “My favorite part has always been the homemade costumes or the families that come as a themed unit. The best costume, even to this day, was the kid who took a clear umbrella and covered it in iridescent plastic to become a jellyfish.  The family that came as honeybees, including the honeycomb and beekeeper was also very clever. It’s been fun to watch the trends, too. One year there were 100 Harry Potters running around! Our 25th anniversary was a huge success due to a combination of factors, including great weather, a Saturday Halloween, Hot Peas N’ Butter and awesome volunteers. It was one of the best in memory and I’m proud to be a part of a muchloved event.” TheVillager.com


PHOTOS BY CLAYTON PATTERSON

Throwing down moves in a breakdancing competition at Overthrow, in the former Yippies building, at 9 Bleecker St.

Punching and partying at Overthrow boxing gym SPORTS

From left, Carlos Castillo, Adam Gonzoga and Joey Goodwin during a break in the action at Overthrow. Castillo, from Monterey, Mexico, and Hell’s Kitchen, worked with famed light-heavyweight champ Archie Moore and also trained his own son, who was a Golden Gloves champion. Gonzoga, an amateur fighter, is being trained by Goodwin a.k.a. “Soho Joe,” who runs Overthrow.

Dr. Dave Ores worked on the heavy bag, held by Dan Halen. TheVillager.com

Until recently, No. 9 Bleecker St. was the longtime home to the Yippies. A hub for organizing for the peace movement and drug legalization efforts, among other issues, it was also where the Yippies published their radical newspapers, including the Yipster Times and Overthrow. Around two years ago, after a court battle, the Yippies lost control of the building. Today it has been remade into a hip boxing gym and workout spot, with the name Overthrow, an homage to the Yippies and their defiant attitude. Also, in the spirit of the Yippies, when they aren’t pounding heavy bags or each other in the ring, the Overthrow crowd likes to party hearty.

Things got hairy as Power Malu, a writer, rapper and actor, emceed the action. November 12, 2015

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The Villager • Nov. 12, 2015  

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