The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
November 13, 2014 • $1.00 Volume 84 • Number 24
Chin calls for safety study on truck routes after Canal St. deaths BY ZACH WILLIAMS
ddressing the hazards of commercial trucking on Canal St. requires more than a 25-mile-per-hour speed limit, according to Councilmember Margaret Chin. The city Department of Transportation should study
how designating that street and other major thoroughfares as trucking routes affects pedestrian, cyclist and driver safety, asserted Chin, who will introduce a bill to that effect next month. In addition, the inequitable Verrazano Bridge toll situation continues to enCANAL ST., continued on p. 10
BY JORDAN MUTO
he West Village’s popular Christopher St. drag queen bar Boots N Saddle has finally found a new home. Boots N Saddle’s owners appeared before Community Board 2’s State Liquor Authority Licensing Committee on Tuesday to seek
approval for a liquor license at the former Actors Playhouse at 100 A Seventh Ave. South, between Grove and Barrow Sts. The new space was a suggestion by the community board after the bar failed to get liquor licenses approved for two other locations in the neighborhood. BOOTS, continued on p. 4
PHOTO BY MILO HESS
Boots N Saddles corrals a new home; Drag bar will move to 7th Ave. S.
Legendary journalist Jerry Tallmer died Sunday at age 93. Among his many honors, he was inducted into the Players Club Hall of Fame in October 2012, above. See pages 16-17.
Pier 40 issue looms large in C.B. 2 chairperson race BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
or the first time in eight years, there is a contested election for Community Board 2 chairperson. Three board members are running to succeed David Gruber as head of C.B. 2. Following the board’s self-imposed term limits, Gruber will be stepping down after serving two one-year terms in a row. However, this year, extending Gruber’s last term by five months, the elec-
tion was pushed back from June to November, which is when the board will hold its elections from now on. C.B. 2 covers between W. 14th and Canal Sts., west of the Bowery / Fourth Ave. The area encompasses one of the city’s largest landmark districts, and sports among the city’s densest concentrations of nightlife and sidewalk cafes, plus includes some critical sites for the community’s future, namely, Pier 40, the St. John’s Center and the New York Universi-
ty superblocks. The three chairperson candidates include Tobi Bergman, Bo Riccobono and Richard Stewart. The 50 volunteer members of C.B. 2 will vote at their full-board meeting on the evening of Thurs., Nov. 20, in the Scholastic Building, at 557 Broadway. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. The board’s last contested chairperson race was back in 2006, when David Reck unsuccessfully challenged C.B. 2, continued on p. 24
They can’t stop fighting Croman...................page 3 Still waiting for M.T.A. on bus fixes..............page 11 Former squatter’s true fish story...................page 15 Bowery Gallery: A look back........page 19
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VYING FOR VICE CHAIRPERSON: On Thurs., Nov. 20, Community Board 3’s Executive Committee will meet to pick a board member to fill the second vice chairperson position. The seat has been open since Ricky Leung stepped down from it earlier this year. We’re told there are four candidates in the running, including Chad Marlow, Ayo Harrington, Enrique Cruz and Alyssa Lewis-Coleman. Marlow has been on C.B. 3 the longest of them, two years, though previously served on C.B. 2 and represented the Yankees at Bronx community board meetings when the team’s new stadium plan was under review. Harrington and Lewis-Coleman have been on the board about a year, and Cruz a bit less than that. It will be interesting to see the Executive Committee’s thinking on who they’ll pick, since it could offer insight into how the board is dealing with some of the contentious issues that too often dominated C.B. 3 last year. It’s also a strategic position, since vice chairpersons can often climb the ladder to become board chairperson. The meeting is open to the public, though nonboard members can only observe, not actively participate in the discussion. Stay tuned!
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November 13, 2014
DYNAMIC DUO: Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Union Square Partnership business improvement district, and Ernie Anastos, the Fox TV news anchor, were honored by the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce last week at the chamber’s annual Business Awards Breakfast. “The Union Square Partnership is honored to be named 2014 Neighborhood Business Advocate of the Year by the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce,” Falk said. “Our collective efforts on behalf of our business community have greatly contributed to the district’s overall success and have made Union Square one of New York City’s most dynamic neighborhoods. We look forward to bringing even more amenities and community programs to Union Square and continuing to support the vibrant businesses that attract people from all over the city and world here each day.” Anastos was named New Yorker of the Year. Tim Zagat, of restaurant guide fame, and Jill Kaplan, publisher of Crain’s New York Business, were the lead award presenters. CORRECTION: Our item last week about possibly tainted peanut butter being found smeared in the Leroy St. dog run cited a dog activist’s belief that there had been similar incidents in the Washington Square dog run. But Eileen Shulock, a board member at the latter, said the talk this past summer was that poison was allegedly found along the sidewalks of the Washington Square Village residential complex to the south of the park — not in the park — though she was never able to confirm if this was true with any vets in the area. However, she assured, “No dogs have been poisoned in Washington Square Park dog run!” CREATING SOME BUZZ...: Reverend Billy, a.k.a. Billy Talen, and his choir will be holding a “Standing With Ferguson” fundraiser with famed folk singer Joan Baez at Middle Collegiate Church on Wed., Nov. 19. The funds will go toward for their bus trip to Monsanto headquarters in St. Louis, where they will host an “organic Thanksgiving” to highlight the chemical and seed giant’s devastating effects on the world’s bee population. They’ll also give additional money from the show to activists in nearby Ferguson who are keeping up the protests over the police shooting of Michael Brown. Before that, though, Billy and his Stop-Shopping Choir will open their holiday run at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre, with their show called — guess what? — “Monsanto Is the Devil.”
Jennifer Falk and Ernie Anastos. TheVillager.com
Two tenants keep up constant fight vs. Croman BY GERARD FLYNN
PHOTO BY GERARD FLYNN
ary Ann Miller, a host on WBAI radio, recently recalled an encounter she had this year with landlord Steven Croman’s “private investigator” Anthony Falconite. As she was coming down the stairs of her building on Prince St., Miller heard a terrible disturbance heading her way. “Someone was pounding really heavy with the flat side of his fist yelling, ‘I have to get in here. I’m an independent contractor. I have to check the plumbing,’ ” she recalled. “My neighbors are Chinese and their English is very limited and were scared to death,” she said. But Miller, whose tenant activism goes back to 1970, was not. Falconite’s job, she said, was to frighten tenants, then offer them a low amount of money to move. “I said to him, ‘What are you doing and why are you doing this?’ ” The bulky ex-cop, when asked by Miller to produce credentials, refused, she said. Instead he turned around, “furiously yelling all the way down the stairs.” This alleged incident wasn’t Falconite’s first job for Croman, who is currently being probed by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office, possibly for using illegal tactics to oust tenants in rent-stabilized buildings. In July, the A.G.’s office slapped the Croman goon with a cease-and-desist order, and he “has now been assigned to desk duty,” Miller chuckled. “He did this to the elderly, mostly to people who couldn’t speak English,” she said. “He terrorized them.” Falconite has also been known to push the door open, force himself inside, then photograph everything around him. According to a Croman spokesperson, Falconite denies ever having met Miller. Miller was involved in the first Stop Croman Coalition, which died. Five years ago, its second incarnation was born when she was hosting a feminist program on WBAI and got a call from Cynthia Chaffee, another distressed tenant of Steve Croman. Chaffee, who uses crutches, had been battling Croman in and out of Housing Court since he took over her rent-regulated apartment building on E. Sixth St. in May 1999, clearing out most regulated tenants in the process. She’s been to court with him eight times, alleging, among other things, a flood of water pouring down the ceiling light onto the front room floor, plus no heating or hot water. “She wanted to restart the Stop Croman Coalition,” Miller recalled. Despite their failing at first try to revive the group, the two women later met up with 70 Croman tenants on, of all days, July 14, Bastille Day. “I thought it was a good day to begin a fight,” Miller mused. But the momentum eventually slowed down as the “horrendous stories” of “aggressive harassment” began to build up: no heat or hot water, aggressive buyouts, etc. “You name it he was doing it,” Miller said. But the coalition’s second coming struggled with declining support from Croman’s tenants. Chaffee and Miller, however, will never forget the efforts of state Senator Brad Hoylman and his predecessor, Tom Duane, whose work on their behalf they praised. The Stop Croman Coalition recently made a third comeback. The group now numbers about two doz-
Cynthia Chaffee and her husband, Peter, inside their E. Sixth St. apartment, where she stores her voluminous files on her landlord, Steven Croman.
en dedicated members, with about half of them doing the demanding work of documenting harassment and identifying Croman’s large property portfolio throughout the city. The likelihood of their future success could hinge on the A.G.’s investigation. Both women have been visited by members of Schneiderman’s office, which declined to discuss the ongoing investigation with The Villager. Chaffee is currently in Housing Court with Croman. Like Miller, she is not afraid to face down her deep-pocketed and well-connected foe. Croman is a philanthropist and Democratic Party donor. “I have had open-heart surgery — that I am afraid of. But not Croman,” she said. “He’s a punk. With all my heart and soul, I will not stop until they put a stop to him because what he has done to people is horrible.” Driving around the city for years and researching online, they have compiled a list of his citywide portfolio, which at last count, numbers more than 180 buildings. Chaffee also boasts a room half filled with files on his properties. Chaffee wants to know why Croman has for years been allowed to get work permits from the Department of Buildings, when for years he has owed the agency an allegedly huge sum in unpaid fines for violations. Both women hope the attorney general’s investigation will yield some results and perhaps even prison time for Croman. But they dismissed the recently amended Tenant Protection Act, co-sponsored by City Councilmember Margaret Chin and Jumaane Williams. Miller described the act as “timid.” A $10,000 fine, she said, is hardly a deterrent for the likes of Croman, a view some in legal services share. “They don’t pay their fines, now,” Chaffee said. “He owes almost a million in fines, not including sanitation fines or tax liens. It’s unbelievable.” Few landlords have been fined by Housing Court
judges since the act was passed in 2008 — “possibly” 42 out of 3,200 cases brought by tenants, according to Department of Housing Preservation and Development records. As a veteran of Housing Court, Chaffee said, “A court case drags on for more than a year because landlords want to wear tenants down emotionally and financially.” As if that wasn’t enough, then “there is blacklisting,” she said, referring to a disputed move by Housing Court, which places tenants’ action in Housing Court on a nationwide database, thus affecting a prospective tenant’s credit rating and likelihood of being offered another apartment. On a final note, Chaffee described the case of another tenant of Croman’s, an elderly man living Uptown who, like her, had open-heart surgery. “They knew he was sick and vulnerable and recuperating,” she said, adding they stopped depositing his rent checks. After more than a year of threats of court action, “he caved in,” she said, leaving behind a potentially lucrative seven-room apartment, and is now a resident of the Salvation Army somewhere uptown. In a statement, a spokesperson for 9300 Realty, Croman’s company, said: “We provide high-quality, reliable housing for New Yorkers and prioritize the safety and well-being of our tenants above all else. These two individuals are part of a small group of tenants who have a long history of litigation and making unfounded accusations about conditions in our buildings. “It is our company policy to promptly address and make repairs wherever they are needed, or when requested. Our ratio of violations per unit is very low and the majority of the ones that remain open are due to the tenant’s refusal to grant us access to make repairs. “We are proud of the work we have done to beautify and maintain our buildings, which include several historically significant properties in the Village and East Village.” November 13, 2014
Boots N Saddles finally corrals a new space Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN
EDITOR IN CHIEF LINCOLN ANDERSON
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November 13, 2014
The new space allows the bar to more than double its current capacity. Boots N Saddle plans to continue at the new venue with its nightly drag queen shows. The bar is also pursuing adding a food menu served by drag queens à la the former Lucky Cheng’s. “We will have more space, so more people can come. If you get in here with 80 people, it’s elbow to elbow,” said Robert Ziegler, co-owner of Boots N Saddle. The new space also brings a new co-owner, Sandy Kauffman, a longtime patron of the bar and friend of co-owners Ziegler and Ron Silver, in order to help operate the larger establishment. “It will be the same old Boots, but more opportunities for more people,” Kauffman said. One of the concerns was people on the street, mentioned Robert Ely, co-chairperson of the State Liquor Authority Licensing Committee. The liquor licensing committee supported the new location as long as the bar controlled the crowds with three security guards. The setup of the underground old Actor’s Playhouse space will keep all of the bar’s activities below street level, assuaging neighbor’s previous concerns of noise and rowdiness. “Personally, I think it will be great because it’s underground,” said Lois Rakoff, a member of the C.B. 2 committee. Rakoff was also concerned about the drag queens smoking cigarettes on the street in costume. But Ziegler assured her they would have a roped-off smoking area to accommodate eight to 10 smokers at a time. Unlike the previous meetings where many community members were in attendance, Tuesday’s meeting only had two people voice their concerns. “I feel dubious about all of the promises because they were not lived up to on Christopher St.,” said Dave Poster, president of the Christopher St. Patrol, a volunteer anticrime group. Poster said he actually was not ini-
PHOTO BY SANDY KAUFFMAN
CHRIS ORTIZ ANDREW GOOS
BOOTS, continued from p. 1
Drag queen performers have become a mainstay of Boots N Saddle’s business. At the bar’s new location, food may soon be added to the menu, in the vein of the former Lucky Cheng’s.
tially planning on attending Tuesday’s meeting, but felt compelled to attend after encountering rowdy crowds on the sidewalk near Boots N Saddle twice last Friday night. “I come home late at night on the subway and never have any qualms about walking down the street,” said Nancy Paisley, who has lived at 36 Barrow St. for the past 40 years, in reference to Seventh Ave. South. “I don’t want to walk down Christopher St. because I’m afraid to,” she added. Despite the concerns, the committee approved the liquor license for the new
space. As Boots N Saddles co-owners Ziegler and Silver exited the meeting, the group supporting the bar cheered. “It feels like a weight off my back,” Ziegler said. “It feels so great.” Boots N Saddle will stay open at 76 Christopher St. until its new location is ready for occupancy early next year. The next step is for the liquor license application to go in front of the full board for approval at it meeting on Nov. 20. “We still have some bureaucratic hoops to go through,” Ziegler said. “Over all, it’s good for us.”
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November 13, 2014
Conservancy hopes to help historic Seward Park BY ZACH WILLIAMS
group of Lower East Side regulars are banking that their private effort can make the critical difference in scrubbing Seward Park of urban grime. They established a nonprofit conservancy last month devoted to restoring the park, which opened in 1903 as the country’s first municipally built children’s playground. Their ambitions include restoring historic features, updating infrastructure and improving public access to the park, located at Canal and Essex Sts. As gentrification continues on the Lower East Side, the park provides longtime residents a way to be proactive about influencing their neighborhood, according to conservancy member Emma Culbert. “Instead of letting the change take us over, we are trying to curate it in a way that both preserves the great things about the neighborhood and fixes the things that need to be fixed,” she said. An area of high concern is the central fountain area of the park, where a mosaic-tiled map of the neighborhood has fallen into disrepair. Barefoot children often get injured from metal objects that jut up as they frolic there during the summer heat, she added. “I see them falling down all the time,” Culbert said.
Also of concern is a patch of asphalt in front of the public library located on the park’s southern edge. Remaking this area with more absorbent materials would help relieve pressure from the sewer system, as well as offer park visitors a new area to frequent, according to Linda Jones, a member of both Community Board 3 and the conservancy. Upgrading the park’s water system could remove archaic features, such as “Bruckner boxes,” which require a “quill” to access. Eventually, the park could reuse wastewater for irrigation, Jones suggested. The park boosters also dream of transforming a storage building into public space, as well. And they noted that several sculptures in the park are damaged, including the seals that evoke William Seward, who was a New York senator and governor before engineering the purchase of Alaska for the U.S. in 1867 as secretary of state under President Andrew Johnson. But for now, the new conservancy’s main task has been figuring out how to acquire more funding for the park. The city Parks Department received $600,000 in the 2015 city budget to repair the Seward Park basketball courts, according to a spokesperson for Councilmember Margaret Chin, who secured the funding at the urging of C.B. 3. The Founding members of the new Seward Park Conservancy, from left, Linda Jones, Amy Robinson, Tobi Elkin, Emma Culbert and Pamela Brown.
PHOTOS BY ZACH WILLIAMS
Sketching the currently nonfunctional Schiff Fountain in Seward Park.
November 13, 2014
project, though, has yet to go through the design and procurement process, according to a Parks spokesperson. Conservancy members plan to supplement such public funding through private donations, which are already in the five figures, according to Amy Robinson, the new group’s president. She said that a good place to use money to redefine the park “for the 21st century” would be through the restoration of Schiff Fountain — built in 1895 and moved to the park in the 1930s — which lies unused along the park’s western edge. The fountain is named for philanthropist and financier Jacob H. Schiff, who played a key role in establishing Seward Park, according to local historian Joyce Mendelsohn, author of “The Lower East Side Remembered and Revisited.” “We would like to get that refurbished because we feel that a fountain like that would be beautiful and it would be an anchor for the park,” Robinson said. Schiff bankrolled much of the work of Lillian Wald, a nurse who worked helping the neighborhood’s poor. She
established Henry Street Settlement in 1893, which emphasized manners, as well as literacy, as key to helping the Jewish and Irish immigrants who dominated the Lower East Side then, according to Mendelsohn. She added that Schiff bought Wald the property at 265 Henry St. that would host Wald’s first playground — a novelty for a time when child labor was still a common condition nationwide. “It was really the settlement house movement that was behind Seward Park rather than the anarchists,” Mendelsohn noted. A 1902 Parks Department report noted that the lack of safe play space for children could be blamed as a cause of crime and social unrest. The opening of Seward Park a year later drew about 20,000 people, a 1904 report noted. “Seward Park was right in the middle of everything,” Mendelsohn said of its prominence then. Today the park continues to appeal to a diverse set of cultures, she added. “Early in the morning you see all the Chinese doing tai chi and all kinds of exercises,” she said. TheVillager.com
POLICE BLOTTER 7 women vs. 1 A war of words between women escalated to a seven-on-one melee at Hudson and Morton Sts. around 4 a.m. on Sun., Nov. 9. A group began punching and kicking a woman, 37, in front of 438 Hudson St. The victim suffered serious injury to her right eye, according to police. Arrested for gang assault were Jennifer Hall, Malgorzat Branch-Piatkowski, Keisha Blair, Shakima Smith, Tiara Donaldson, Gabriella Rowe and Jaquaya Clark, all in their early to mid-twenties. It was not immediately clear if the incident had any connection to Henrietta Hudson, the lesbian bar located at that address.
Wok window throw A man needed 40 stitches to his face after being thrown through a Chinese-food restaurant window at about 5:30 p.m. on Sat., Nov. 8, according to police. The altercation occurred in front of King Wok, at 222 Varick St. Police searched the area and found
Raheen Jones, 35, nearby in front of Houston Hall, at 222 W. Houston St. Three witnesses identified him as the perpetrator, according to police. He was charged with felony assault.
Brought to heel Police learned of an assault in the subway station at W. Fourth St. and Sixth Ave. at about 4:20 a.m. on Sat., Nov. 8. According to two witnesses, three men attacked a 25-year-old man with their fists and also a high-heeled shoe. The victim required medical attention for a laceration and minor cuts to his face. Shanique Campbell, 20; Kevin Gil, 21; and Danay Howard, 21, were charged with felony assault.
Meatpack attack Four individuals got away after attacking a 36-year-old man in front of The Griffin nightclub, at 50 Gansevoort St. Two other suspects
weren’t so lucky. The group of six attacked the victim at about 4:30 a.m. on Sat., Nov. 8, police said. They kicked and punched the man, causing facial and body injuries requiring him to be transported to Bellevue Hospital. A woman, Rama Motakhabi, 29, and a man, Jermaine Morrison, 34, were arrested and charged with gang assault. Police did not provide descriptions of the other suspects.
High thief’s low point Marijuana smoking in the subway led to the arrest of a cell phone thief on the morning of Fri., Nov. 7. At about 5:40 a.m., an officer observed a man puffing on a joint in an unidentified station, according to a police report. When the officer approached, the man threw the reefer onto the rails. The officer searched the man upon arrest and found a stolen cell phone in his left pants pocket. Suspected cocaine was also found in a jacket pocket. According to police, the cell phone was stolen from a 24-year-old male outside the McDonald’s at 136 W. Third St. Hector Cuevas, 24, was charged with grand larceny
Three days later, Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner Bratton announced that persons caught with 25 grams of pot or less — a quantity presumably for personal use, not for sale — will now only be ticketed, not arrested. Smoking pot in public, though, is still subject to arrest.
‘Clipped’ in subway Finding an illegal switchblade came easily for one astute police officer during the night of Thurs., Nov. 6. A man, 43, was win the subway station at Eighth Ave. and W. 14th St. at about 11:30 p.m. that night. The cop noticed a metal clip protruding from the man’s right pants pocket. He stop and frisked the suspect, finding the black-handled knife. Julian Dorville, whom a police report stated is a transit system recidivist, was charged with criminal possession of a weapon. As detailed in a recent Village Voice article, possession of any pocket knife that can be opened with the flick of one hand — as opposed to using two hands — is an arrestable offense.
Y O U T H O U G H T T H E Y RE P O RT E D THE G AS LE A K . T H E Y T H O U G H T Y O U D I D . “Smell gas. Act fast.” Those are the words we want you to remember. Don’t assume that a neighbor will call 911 or 1-800-75-CONED. Just leave the area immediately and make the call yourself. If you prefer, you can report a gas-related emergency anonymously. You don’t even need to be there when help arrives. Visit conEd.com for more gas safety information and take safety into your own hands.
November 13, 2014
COURTESY BKSK ARCHITECTS
Tammany Hall, at E. 17th St. and Union Square East, was landmarked just last year.
A rendering of Tammany Hall with the proposed tortoise shell-top addition.
A shell of a plan! A look at Tammany turtle top
s The Villager reported last week, Community Board 5 voted unanimously to deny a proposal to replace the former Tammany Hall’s slate mansard roof with a 30-foot-high dome evoking a turtle shell. Here are images from the project architect, BKSK, showing the shelltop addition. Built in 1927 as Democratic Party headquarters, 44 Union Square East, at E. 17th St., was designated a city
landmark only last year. The proposed turtle-top dome is part of a gut renovation and facade restoration, planned by BKSK Architects, that would add 27,000 square feet and two stories to the Colonial Revival-style building on the east side of Union Square. With the rooftop addition, the building would be about 85 feet tall at its highest point. (Last week’s article incorrectly reported that the addition itself would be eight stories.) The turtle-shell concept was in-
spired by a statue in a niche on the building’s north side depicting Chief Tamanend standing on a turtle, a reference to a Native American creation myth, according to BKSK partner Harry Kendall. Also called Tammany, the chief helped establish peace between the native Lenape and the European settlers, for his efforts becoming an iconic figure. Community board recommendations are advisory, however, and the city’s Landmarks Preservation Com-
mission will make the final decision. Kendall said the plan, in fact, has previously been shown to L.P.C., where “staff members were comfortable with removal of the mansard roof. They didn’t seem to feel it was a significant architectural feature,” he stated. But the mansard roof was important to the committee. “Removal of original architecture protected by landmark designation is a major problem,” a committee member objected.
November 13, 2014
COURTESY BKSK ARCHITECTS
A close-up of Chief Tamanend’s feet atop a tortoise on a Philadelphia statue. A similar statue on the exterior of New York City’s Tammany A view of the proposed turtle shell-topped Tammany Hall plaza from the west. Hall was the inspiration for the terrapin rooftop addition’s design.
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November 13, 2014
PHOTO BY ZACH WILIAMS
Heavy trucks on Canal St., such as at Bowery, above, mean the boulevard is at greater risk of fatalities, according to Councilmember Margaret Chin, victims’ family members and activists.
Chin calls for new safety study on truck routes courage trucks to be funneled dangerously onto Canal St. and through Lower Manhattan, in general, Chin and others charge. Family members of accident victims and representatives of Community Boards 1 and 3 joined her on Mon., Nov. 10, at the intersection of Bowery and Canal St. not only to call for increased safety, but to demand that drivers in three recent fatal collisions be criminally charged. “To end a life and not be held accountable is something New Yorkers everywhere should be very concerned about,” Chin said. Motor vehicles struck and killed three elderly residents crossing local streets within crosswalks between Aug. 28 and Oct. 14 of this year. Details are less clear in the death of a 59-year-old Canadian man who was struck at an unknown location along Canal St. on Oct. 30 by a private sanitation truck, which continued moving until stopping at
the intersection at Centre St. While the first three incidents did not involve commercial trucks, Chin said that diverting such traffic elsewhere could ultimately save lives. While Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative has led to improvements in traffic safety, more must be done along the entirety of Canal St., according to Chin and activists. “I believe that if we do take the trucks off Canal St., we will see a safer place for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers — and that includes both tourists and residents,” she said. According to data compiled by nyc.crashmapper.com, there were 267 traffic collisions at the intersection of Canal and Bowery between August 2011 and February of this year. Further west, 110 such incidents occurred at Canal and West Broadway during the same period. More than two collisions per month occurred at the intersection where Sau Ying Lee, 90, died on Oct. 14 just steps from the curb at Elizabeth and Canal Sts.
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“Legally, my mom had the right of way when she crossed the street,” said Michael Cheung, Lee’s son, who added his opinion that the driver lied when telling investigators that he could not see Lee. The driver of the S.U.V. that killed his mother faces no charges, though that and the other incidents remain under investigation, according to Chin, who said she recently discussed the matter with the District Attorney’s Office. She and others have called for criminal charges against that driver, as well as those who struck Shu Fan Huang, 82, on Aug. 28 and Sui Leung, also 82, on Sept. 25. The purported lack of accountability on the part of drivers is a “disgrace,” according to attorney Steve Vaccaro. He said that responsibility for pursuing such cases can fall by the wayside amid the city’s bureaucracy. “There are plenty of laws on the books but they are not being enforced the way they should be,” he said. Trucks and buses exacerbate traffic congestion on Lower Manhattan streets, resulting in overcrowded streets and a greater likelihood of fatal collisions, according to C.B. 1 Chairperson Catherine McVay Hughes. Some outside-the-box thinking would help address the situation, according to C.B. 3 Chairperson Gigi Li. She referred to recent cooperation between C.B. 3 and D.O.T. on Allen and Delancey Sts. as reasons for optimism. “We really need to think about how we can proactively redesign and be smart about vehicular patterns,” Li said. But for family members of crash victims, there is a sense that the death of a loved one must be properly acknowledged and commemorated. Without justice in these cases, Vision Zero cannot succeed, according to Hsi-Pei Liao, whose 3-year-old daughter died in a traffic collision last year in Queens. “We just want to see justice happen,” he said. TheVillager.com
Still waiting for the buses TALKING POINT BY SHIRLEY SECUNDA
wo weeks ago, state Senator Daniel Squadron issued a news release announcing that M.T.A. NYC Transit had agreed to assess service on the M5 and M21 bus lines. This claim hardly grazes the tip of a very rigid iceberg. In fact, it barely touches Community Board 2’s call to restore several previously longstanding bus routes, voiced in two resolutions this past June and one in September, which were dispatched in response to the very serious needs and pleas of our community. In 2010, three of these routes, the M1, M3 and M5, were significantly altered, and one, the M6, was discontinued, based on budget cuts, depriving the community of the well-placed bus service it had depended upon for years. The M1 had run north on Centre St. to Lafayette St. to Park Ave. and Uptown, and south on Fifth and Park Aves. to 14th St., where it headed down Broadway to South Ferry. It now turns east on Eighth St. from Fifth Ave., ending at Fourth Ave., where it starts another Uptown trip at Ninth St. The M3’s northern route had been from Ninth St. along University Place to 14th St., where it turned east and north again on Union Square East to head Uptown. This was shifted to Fourth Ave. where it now goes Uptown at Ninth St., like the M1, duplicating the starting place and route of not only the M1 but the M2, while robbing M1 and M3 users of their former accessibility and punishing them with long distances to walk that many find difficult or can’t handle at all. The M5 had gone up Sixth Ave. and Broadway to 178th St., and down Riverside Drive, through the West Side and along Fifth Ave. to Broadway, where it turned west on Houston St. and terminated. It now extends down to South Ferry, still going far north Uptown, pinch-hitting for the missing M6. The result is an excessively long M5 trip, creating bus backups, bunching delays and 45-minute waits. It’s a longer haul to catch the bus, too. We had expected that the old bus routes that served us so well would be reinstated, heartened especially when the crosstown M8 returned on weekends. After innumerable, unheeded requests and increasingly desperate
community appeals, C.B. 2 held a meeting in June to gather people’s input and work to get the needed service back. The meeting room was filled with people of all different ages and pursuits, including many with walkers, canes or in wheelchairs. The disabled, along with the elderly and infirm, are the one segment of our population (and a large one) that relies on buses as their only viable means of transportation. Fully dependent on convenient bus service, they’re stymied by the longer treks to reach it. Many of them expressed disillusionment with NYC Transit, whose actions, they felt, have disenfranchised them from getting around independently. In addition, parents who bring their children to school on their way to work miss handy bus access to shorten their trips. Those who traveled on the M1 and M6 to FiDi for work now face more crowding and waiting with only the M5 to transport them. With the M1 route north from Lafayette and Centre Sts. gone, Soho and the Village’s Houston St. residents no longer have direct access to major transit, shopping and healthcare hubs, such as Union Square. Since a southbound bus on Broadway from 14th St. to Eighth St. no longer exists, Soho denizens shopping on 14th St. for lower-priced food and goods can’t easily get home with their heavy packages. Some of these concerns were repeated at a town hall meeting Squadron led in July. The senator’s office then submitted a list of questions to NYC Transit, and the agency responded in favor of the status quo. C.B. 2, as yet, has not received a direct response from NYC Transit to the board’s three resolutions. While C.B. 2’s resolutions didn’t include the M21, its infrequency, with long waits, is well known. We appreciate the efforts to remedy this, although linking the M21 to Uptown routes would involve riders changing buses more than once and extended waits for connecting them, less desirable than a direct Uptown route. We also appreciate the efforts for the M5, but recognize the need for C.B. 2’s own involvement. C.B. 2 would welcome the opportunity to sit down with NYC Transit and our elected officials to discuss how our community’s bus service priorities can best be addressed. We hope that occasion comes soon. Secunda is chairperson, Community Board 2 Traffic and Transportation Committee
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November 13, 2014
PHOTOS BY ARLENE GOTTFRIED
Street shooter Westbeth resident Arlene Gottfried’s photo show, “Sometimes Overwhelming: New York City in the ’70s and ’80s,” opened at Daniel Cooney gallery, at 508 W. 26th St., Suite 9C, on Nov. 6 and will be running through Dec. 20. The sister of comedian Gilbert Gottfried, Arlene is also known as the “singing photographer.” Her arresting street photographer is certainly something to sing about — including these images, “Pituka,” “Wolverine,” “No Wheels El Barrio” and “Kiss.”
November 13, 2014
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Eye on the sky An interesting contrast to the photographer’s eye was the gleaming new One World Trade Center soaring in the distance with an old-style Corvington, long-armed lamppost in the foreground, with perching city pigeons that, well, weren’t exactly soaring.
PHOTO BY MILO HESS
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Bike anarchy on the streets To The Editor: Re “Push for protected bike lanes on 5th, 6th Aves.” (news article, Oct. 30): A cultural shift among New Yorkers is needed in order to reduce aggressive driving, jaywalking and other dangerous behavior on the streets, they say. Why is dangerous behavior by bicyclists never mentioned? You cannot walk down a block without seeing a bicyclist going the wrong way, riding on the sidewalk, riding without lights at night,
riding with headphones on... . The bicycle explosion has been a disaster for the elderly, the visually handicapped, the cognitively challenged, and anyone whose head doesn’t spin around 360 degrees. A cultural shift among cyclists is needed — along with vigorous enforcement of existing laws about what bicyclists can and cannot do. Ned Sublette
Let’s float more ideas To The Editor: Re “L.E.S. residents mutiny over Pier 42 kayak plan” (news article, Nov. 6): I find this fascinating! I cannot agree with a kayaking proposal because the East River is incredibly unsafe. At the same time, I do think as a community we need to think beyond outdoor pools — of which the city does have several. This is an opportunity to create something for both the local demographic and for visitors alike that is a step up from the current public services. Let’s think a bit bigger, please, and maybe poll for good ideas rather than have one group say “kayak” and another say “pools.” I can’t believe that we can’t get a bit more creative here. Helen Avery
A better berm and bridge To The Editor: Re “New storm-surge berm for L.E.S. could begin taking shape by 2017” (news article, Oct. 30): Does anyone know if the berms will be placed
Some Republicans seem to be salivating over a Clinton candidacy. 14
November 13, 2014
LETTERS, continued on p. 18 TheVillager.com
From the Cliffs to L.E.S., an urban fish story NOTEBOOK BY ANDREW CASTRUCCI
grew up on the lower Hudson River. I fished the piers from Hoboken and Edgewater to under the G.W.B. Fishing the Hudson River since I was 12 years old, I caught thousands of eels, hundreds of tommycods, shad, perch, snapper and cocktail blues, bullhead catfish, blue crabs — and my first striper in 1974, the year they passed the Clean Water Act. Watching the Hudson come back to life was a fascinating experience for a young teen. From my kitchen window growing up in Cliffside, I stared daily at the Seatrain pier off the cliffs in Edgewater, wondering if life existed in these waters. I was always on the lookout for fishermen. But most of the time, the action on the pier was criminal mischief, a place to ditch your car or have a secret meeting. Finally, in 1972, Chippy Quinn and I gathered our gear on a rainy Saturday morning. At the river, we were greeted by the strong odor of saltwater, urine and a toxic brew of an old forgotten industrial era. The Seatrain dock had rusty cables swinging, a constant whisper of loose rattling steal — you could feel the ghosts, some sort of time warp like it was 1950. Our bait was sand worms...2-ounce weight, No. 2 hook, as the tide started to move. We were on the longest pier on the Hudson. Its corners had two huge steel bulkhead ties the size of massive breasts, holding boats loading freighter ghost ships. We caught six eels each that day. My hands were slimed as I struggled to unhook them. I sold all of mine for a dollar a pound to my German neighbor Willie Walter on Adolphus Ave. They stayed in his basement sink overnight, still alive. In the morning, he nailed them to a tree and peeled their skin, then pickled them. Eels were a delicacy for the Italian and Germans from the old country, especially during the holidays. At this point in time, I was afraid to eat the fish from the Hudson. Chippy Quinn and I, and later, Mike Petrosino, Paul Clark and Frank Napoli returned every weekend in those days to fish the Seatrain pier. We were getting used to the bite habits of migratory and native fish. Tommycods with colder water, stripers till December, catfish when the cherry trees blossomed. One day, Willie Walter was waiting at the top of the cliff, knowing from his binoculars that the bite was hot that day. He was waiting like a TheVillager.com
Andrew Castrucci with a keeper striped bass that he caught in the East River.
child for his candy, but I wanted $3 a pound for my first keeper striper. I settled on $2. That equaled $15 for a fat-bellied striped bass, plus an extra $ 5 for five eels. Oooh did he love those eels! He lived to 94. Later, Willie would try to catch his own eels — until they stole his Mercedes hubcaps. I soon became Willie’s hired fisherman. I had good cannabis money at age 13. By my late teens, the Seatrain pier was becoming a big hangout 24/7. We hopped freights back and forth to the Meadowlands, typical juvenile behavior. It took me 23 years to cross the river. It felt like I was crossing an ocean, to the newfound land. In the early ’80s, I moved to the Lower East Side and opened up the A&P Gallery with my brother Paul on rough-and-tumble E. Fourth St. between Avenues B and C, later moving into a squat on E. Third St. between Avenues C and D — from the frying pan into the fire — later calling it Bullet Space. A strong cultural scene was developing Downtown mixed with the
criminal element — squatters, junkies, punks, runaways, graffiti artists and art school dropouts. A lot of fish roamed Alphabet City at this time. It was junkie haven... CBGB’s, St. Mark’s Place. There were Gringo, Harley, Squid, Slim, Bubblegum, Cheese, Jimmy Gestapo, Charlie Bananas — names like out of a “Bowery Boys” episode or a Charles Dickens novel. There were squats, abandoned buildings, the fallen American dream, a dystopian landscape. Abandoned cars littered the area under the F.D.R. The city was slowing coming out of its recession. Reagan was elected president. I needed to find some beauty, an escape from the decadence around me. Art didn’t fully cut it for me. Between gallery openings, on my days off, I started trekking the East River. Striped bass where making a big comeback. PCB’s where being reduced in river fish. Mostly Puerto Rican and Chinese immigrants fished the river. Fishing was a religion to the Chinese. Puerto Rican men were dreaming of their island youth; in-
stead of living on subsistence diets with food stamps, they caught their own food. East River striper fishing soon became a black market on the sidewalks of Chinatown. Puerto Rican kids made some loose change on these sidewalks — loose change that turned into 30 pounds of bass for $60 to $90, sometimes topping $100, in a 30-minute rush hour. This was mostly under the cover of night under subway bridge overpasses, hidden around corners. I felt an adrenaline rush, like a sexual buzz, from passing Chinese workers with stripers laid out on newspaper on the sidewalk. They knew fresh fish when they saw them: clear eyes, red gills. They sold them for only $2 a pound when the fish markets ran up to to $6 a pound. The river was starting to get cleaner by the late ’80s. It was safe to eat stripers, one a month. I would keep only younger fish, “schoolies” — 22 L.E.S. FISHING, continued on p. 31 November 13, 2014
Jerry Tallmer, founding Voice editor, legendary OBITUARY BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
n oversize presence in the world of New York journalism for six decades, Jerry Tallmer, died on Sun., Nov. 9, at the Dewitt Hospice on the Upper East Side. He would have turned 94 in December. Tallmer was a founding editor of the Village Voice in 1955 — as its first film and drama critic and associate editor. In later years, however, he was a regular and prolific contributor to The Villager. He had been in and out of the Dewitt facility over the past year. While at the Voice, Tallmer founded the Obie Awards to honor the best in Off Broadway theater. During his career, Tallmer interviewed everyone who was anyone in theater, as well as many figures in film, jazz, literature, politics and even sports. According to his daughter, Abby Tallmer, a freelance editor and writer who lives in the Village, he reviewed and publicized the first production ever of Jean Genet’s “The Blacks,” and played a pivotal role in doing the first write-ups on the work of Edward Albee and on Tom Stoppard’s work in the U.S. He also reviewed and publicized the first U.S. production of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” she said. When Stoppard first came to New York and had nowhere to stay, Tallmer arranged for him to sleep on a cot in the Voice’s office. But after seven years at the fledgling alternative weekly, Tallmer, then a new father of twins, moved to the New York Post to make decent money. Starting the Voice was the idea of its co-founders, Ed Fancher and Dan Wolf. Norman Mailer was an early financial backer of the paper and had a weekly column. Tallmer was quickly brought on board. He had honed his newspaper skills early on in college as an editor of The Dartmouth. “Jerry was somebody very special,” Fancher told The Villager. “A great loss. ... We followed his pieces in The Villager. We’re subscribers. ... Jerry was a wonderful person. And one of the ironies was, when we started the Voice, we were in competition with The Villager — and Jerry wound up writing for The Villager.” Tallmer and Mailer famously feuded, in large part because the bombastic Mailer would always turn in the copy for his column, “An Advertisement for Myself,” so late on deadline, and sloppily written. Mailer would then get furious if it wasn’t proofread perfectly. Things came to a head when one phrase in one of his columns came out
November 13, 2014
Jerry Tallmer with Julie Harris in 1962 when he received the George Jean Nathan Award in Drama Criticism.
“nuisances of growth” when Mailer apparently had meant for it to read “nuances of growth.” “Norman would come in very late with his copy,” Fancher said. “And Jerry was working 20-hour days. ... Norman was crazy in those days, nutty.” Mailer, in a closed-door meeting, told editor Wolf and Fancher that it was either him or Tallmer — that one of them had to go. They told Mailer to take a hike. “Mailer didn’t want to edit. He just wanted to talk about sex, drugs and jazz,” said Tallmer’s daughter. According to her, her father always did, in fact, consider himself one of the “four founders” of the Voice. However, Fancher said, “Whether you consider him a founder or not — I don’t give a good goddam. He was very important to us. I don’t think we could have put the paper out without him.” In fact, Fancher said, if Tallmer had stayed at the Voice, he would have surely succeeded Wolf as the paper’s editor. “Dan was nine years older than I was. He wasn’t well,” he said. “Once we began to make a little money, Jerry would have made a better salary.” As for which one of them actually thought of the name the Village Voice, Fancher said no one is really sure. Jules Feiffer, the famed cartoonist, who was discovered by Tallmer, recalled the Voice’s beginnings — and how Tallmer helped create what came to be known as New Journalism. As they were moving ahead with the idea of starting the Voice, he said, Fancher, Wolf and Mailer “looked around for someone who knew something about putting out a paper, because Ed, Dan and Norman were intellectuals and theorists, so they didn’t know about this other stuff — like
every Wednesday, your paper somehow gets on the newsstands. So they hired Jerry, who, at least, had worked on a newspaper once. And by the time I walked in the door a year later, Jerry had taught himself what he needed to know to put a paper together that didn’t read or look like any other. “And since a cultural organ operating out of the Village must have a critic who reviews plays, Jerry took on that job, as well. And in no time, in a voice and style that was not lofty, not all-knowing, not out to prove how superior the critic was to the play under review, Jerry introduced openness to theater criticism. ... He helped invent the kind of voice that, within a few years, almost everyone was trying out in one form or another. Talking to the reader as if he’s a friend. He was my friend. He and his comrades at 22 Greenwich Ave. changed my life. And I am but one of many.” Ever since being laid off from the Post by Rupert Murdoch in 1993 — when Murdoch broke the paper’s union and fired more than 250 Post employees — Tallmer had been a contributor to The Villager, as well as its sister papers, Downtown Express, Gay City News and Chelsea Now. Tom Butson, a former editor of The Villager, eagerly snapped up the renowned scribe upon hearing he had been cut by Murdoch. Elizabeth Butson, Tom’s wife, was publisher of The Villager when they owned the paper from 1992-’99. “We were thrilled when Jerry Tallmer joined us as a columnist for The Villager in 1994,” she said. “They don’t make them like Jerry anymore. He was the consummate columnist. You hardly had to edit his copy. Knowledgeable just about on anything on New York. His big love was the theater and New
York City memories. Mention a name and he would tell you a story about that person. His prose glided and treated you with some tender turn of phrase. The Villager will miss you, Jerry. I certainly will.” Tallmer continued writing for The Villager under its next publisher, John W. Sutter, who owned the paper until two years ago. “One of New York City’s greatest writers of the past 60 years is gone,” Sutter said. “Over the years Jerry Tallmer regaled us with his unparalleled understanding of the New York City arts scene, its lineages, its deep wiring. Jerry understood talent and wrote about it with intelligence, wit and an unstoppable energy. It was one of my great pleasures as publisher to work with him.” Under Sutter, Tallmer helped start a specialty publication for older New Yorkers, Thrive, under which he could really show off his writing chops in longer-format articles. “Jerry helped me launch Thrive in 2005, and gave it its pulse,” Sutter said. “He knew everyone in the theater, art and literary worlds, and his Thrive interviews appeared to pick right up from conversations he was having with all of them. Barney Rosset, Peggy Pope, Cindy Adams, Edward Albee, Steven Lang, Earle Hyman, Eli Wallach, Tony Bennett, Leroy Neiman, Peter Falk, Marian Seldes, Jules Feiffer, Joe Franklin, Sidney Zion — the list goes on and on. Jerry was committed to making Thrive thrive, and some of his best writing was in there. Thrive had a great five-year run, but went down in the 2009 recession.” Tallmer was married four times, with the first three marriages ending in divorce. His first marriage was to Peggy Muendel, who was an “eccentric artist,” according to Abby. “She moved to New Mexico. My cousin Jill told me she had a pet monkey, that’s all I know,” she said. He next married Louise Tilis, a freelancer at the Voice who wrote its “Voice Feminine” column, with whom he had his children. She died in 1992. His son, Matthew, of Alexandria, Virginia, is a senior staff member for Congressmember Darrell Issa. Tallmer was next married for about 20 years to Marsha Levant, the daughter of “An American in Paris” actor Oscar Levant. For the past 20 years, he was married to Frances Monica Tallmer, a Spanish and ballet dancer who was doing P.R. for Art Insight Gallery when they met. They met there at an art opening. “He loved writing,” Frances said on Monday. “He was a very kind and gentle person, really. I loved him. I miss him terribly. I can’t get over it.” TALLMER, continued on p. 17 TheVillager.com
theater critic and Obies founder, is dead at 93 TALLMER, continued from p. 16
In general, as a columnist, Tallmer deftly wove his memories and personal experiences together with contemporary events, providing a unique perspective. His pieces were always written fluidly and beautifully. In a fitting recognition, in 2012, Tallmer’s talking point and notebook columns in The Villager won first place for Best Column in the New York Press Association’s annual Better Newspaper Contest. The judge wrote that he or she wanted to get a subscription to The Villager just to read Tallmer. The previous year, his Villager columns had won second place for Best Column. In 2003, a moving piece of Tallmer’s on the 40th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, in which Tallmer recalled how he reported the events of that devastating day, helped The Villager win first place for Best Editorial Pages. “This one is for Tallmer,” the awed judge simply wrote in his or her comments. Due to his having known so many influential figures, couple with his wonderful writing, Tallmer also helped The Villager win Best Obituaries numerous times in the NYPA awards. In October 2012, in recognition for his pioneering theater criticism, he was inducted into the Players Club Hall of Fame, where he was effusively praised by Albee as the country’s pre-eminent theater writer. Over the past two years, The Villager ran a number of Tallmer’s columns in which he reflected on the early history of the Voice. These were part of a collection of his writings on theater, his own life and the Voice that comprised his as-yet-unpublished autobiography. Tallmer’s last piece in The Villager, “Blue Moon Johnny; I wasn’t my brother’s keeper,” a reflection on his difficult, early family life, ran on the paper’s op-ed page just three weeks ago. The piece, however, had been submitted earlier this summer. Up until the very end, though, Tallmer was still writing on his laptop, with the help of Jonathan Slaff, an actor and theatrical press agent, who would assist him remotely if Tallmer had any problems with the computer. “I installed an application on his computer called TeamViewer,” Slaff said. “If he couldn’t figure out how to make the text larger, or needed to rename a file, I’d help him.” Even while at the nursing facility, Tallmer continued to pen previews of plays — by reading the scripts. Last year, Tallmer previewed “Daylight Precision,” a play at Theater for the New City about the dropping of TheVillager.com
Jerry Tallmer, center, in front of the old Village Voice building on Greenwich Ave., with Ed Fancher, left, and Dan Wolf, right.
the atom bomb on Nagasaki. For this one, though, the cast members all came to his room at the nursing facility for the interview. The play held special significance for Tallmer, because he had been aloft in a U.S. military plane when the bomb detonated, and he had chillingly witnessed the horror of the mushroom cloud. When The Villager called him last Friday, Tallmer, though now bedridden and very weak, said he hoped to get his laptop back soon and start writing again. About a month ago, Tallmer had been transferred to Lenox Hill Hospital and then spent a short time at Bellevue Hospital’s hospice, before being transferred back to Dewitt. In the interim, his wife, Frances, had taken his laptop — given to Jerry by former publisher Sutter — for safekeeping. Slaff brought the computer back to Tallmer on Sunday. “He had called Friday, asking could I look up Tom Stoppard’s new play and could I bring him the laptop,” Slaff said. “Sunday, I brought it to him. I stayed for an hour, and then I left.” A few hours later, Tallmer had died. “A nurse said he had called and said he knocked the laptop off his table tray,” Slaff said. “I think he was trying to look up the Tom Stoppard show. I think he was trying to open Google. Jerry loved Tom Stoppard — and Tom loved Jerry, too.” Albert Amateau, The Villager’s former veteran reporter, who was about a dozen years Tallmer’s junior, said — from one pro to another — Tallmer
Jerry Tallmer with his wife, Frances, in 2006 when he received a Legends of the Village Award from VillageCare.
was the tops. “He was a consummate newspaper man, in my opinion,” he said. “He could to anything. He could report, write, edit, layout, design.” Although due to never having a pension — thanks to Murdoch — Tallmer always had to keep writing...and writing, as much to survive, as for the sheer joy of it. “He always needed money,” Amateau recalled, “and health insurance... . I loved him.”
One Sunday afternoon, Amateau, who had an especially heavy writing load that week, came in to The Villager’s office to work on an article. He found Tallmer there, writing away, as he usually did on Sundays. “Why don’t you get a life, Tallmer?” he cracked wise. Tallmer looked up from his keyboard and, with a light laugh, said — “This is my life.” Funeral arrangements were still being worked out. November 13, 2014
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Continued from p. 14
on the west side of the F.D.R., effectively making the park bigger by the Grand St. co-ops? Or will they be built on the east side, on existing parkland? Also, has any thought been given to widening the bridge over the F.D.R. from Corlears Hook Park to East River Park, effectively making the two parks into one large park with the bridge serving as part of the berm? Building the berm on the west side of the F.D.R. and widening the bridge to join the two parks together would not only provide protection against flooding, but would also give the LES a much larger — and needed — park.
And the problem keeps getting worse. Congress refuses to deal with the problem. The National Weather Service is woefully understaffed. The insurance companies are not writing flood insurance policies. The repair work from Sandy is taking much too long, and it is questionable if much of it will ever be completed. Why is Europe so far ahead of us in dealing with its flooding problems? They have 50-year plans for the future that they are dealing with now. They are not playing catch-up like we are. Robert Trentlyon
Lost without labyrinth
Sobering thoughts To The Editor: Two years after Sandy, what is being planned will help. But it won’t solve the long-term problems of climate change and storm surges.
To The Editor: Re “Union Square pavilion restaurant could be cooked, local pols say” (news article, Oct. 16): I have long mourned the fact that the public no longer had free use of the pavilion in Union Square. I remember sitting there having snacks
and quiet conversation with neighborhood friends back in the early ’70s. Later on, we never got over being stopped from entering the structure unless you paid to get in. It is a community park, after all is said and done! Community life is not all about money, kids and dogs. We also are saddened that the wonderful labyrinth, which used to be just to the north of the pavilion, was paved over and never redone. Many people actually took meditative walks in that labyrinth — at all hours. Once you began the walk, it was amazing how the traffic sounds and city’s bustle retreated as you centered your thoughts and energy away from them. It had become a tradition for many — now it is lost. George Jones
High marks for art To The Editor: Re “High above and just beyond” (arts article, Nov. 6):
This is one of the very best exhibits that I’ve seen this year or any year! Ellen is an extraordinary painter whose use of color, handling of light and perspective are amazing. What skill she exercises in these High Line pictures! One of the most difficult things for any artist to do is to paint descending views. Yet, she succeeds in doing so in her vital and interesting canvases. Great, great exhibit! Ken Ratner
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Bowery Gallery’s radical notions persist Exhibit features work from artist-run co-op’s founders BOWERY GALLERY FOUNDING MEMBERS 1969 Free Through November 29 Wed.–Sun. 1–6 p.m. At Westbeth Gallery 55 Bethune St. (corner of Washington & Bank Sts.) Visit bowerygallyer.org and westbeth.org
BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC
resh out of Cooper Union, the School of Visual Arts, Pratt and the New York Studio School, a network of young artists banded together to start a co-operative. Nearly 45 years later, their legacy is being highlighted in an exhibition that showcases work from the late sixties to the present. The 23 young artists who founded Bowery Gallery first met through their professors, neighborhoods and various drawing classes. There was also a gathering called the Alliance of Figurative Artists, which took place for every Friday night on East Broadway, recalled original Bowery Gallery member Anthony Santuoso. The Jewish organization that owned the building, which was called the Educational Alliance, let the artists use the space for free. There would be dialogues, discussions, panels and critique of work, which would sometimes get very savage, he said. “It was like an Italian opera. If they don’t like it, they would throw rotten tomatoes at you,” said Santuoso, who paints, in a phone interview. The Bowery Gallery was an outgrowth of those meetings, and several members said that Lawrence Faden was the catalyst, the connector who got the group together to found Bowery Gallery in 1969. TheVillager.com
at the docks with another founding member, Howard Kalish. Another member, the late Tony Siani, once told him that there was a wealthy benefactor who would back a new gallery for the artists. But Faden, who paints, grew tired of waiting. “One day I got disgusted and I just said ‘I’m starting a gallery,’ “ he said. “I invited other people to participate.” For young, still-evolving artists, said Faden, it was hard to get the art world interested. “We wanted to have this place to examine our work in public,” said Faden. “We got a place in the Bowery that was a total wreck.” The space had no floor. The artists had to patch up and paint the walls, put in lights and install a floor. Several of them were working in construction while they pursued art. Faden said Richard Uhlich, who was a painter and watercolorist, also had carpentry skills. “We had to build the Lawrence Faden: “Wild Bird” (1971, oil/linen, 40 x 30 in.). place ourselves,” said Santuoso. “He basically gathered people together and Nancy Beal says she remembers taking a wire made it seem like it was possible,” said Santuobrush to scrape the walls of the gallery. Beal, so, who grew up in New Jersey. who was from Pittsburgh, knew Sam Thurston, It was an idea whose time had come, Faden who invited her to join. told Chelsea Now in a phone interview. Faden, who grew up in Brooklyn, was working BOWERY, continued on p. 20 November 13, 2014
Bowery Gallery exhibit features founding BOWERY, continued from p. 19
COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
“I was onboard right at the beginning,” she said in a phone interview. “It was a very exciting time, 1969. When we did get together, we became fast friends so quickly.” Beal, who was a grade school teacher, said she remembers hauling the garbage that had been inside and the group sitting on the heap of junk to take their first photo. “We pulled it together somehow,” said Beal. Beal says that she paints outdoors, which is also her subject: “What I paint is what I see.” The co-op gallery was opened October 31, 1969. Out of the Bowery Gallery, two more were started: Prince Street Gallery (at 530 W. 25th St.) and First Street Gallery (at 526 W. 26th St.). A co-op gallery is one where the members pay a monthly fee and are then guaranteed to have their work shown, explained Lynda Caspe, who paints and sculpts. To become a member, the others vote an artist into the gallery. In 1969, it cost $10 a month to be part of the Bowery Gallery, Caspe told Chelsea Now during an interview in her Tribeca apartment. “It turned out to be the best investment I ever made in my life,” said Caspe about her apartment, which she brought in 1973 in a neighborhood that has now transformed. Caspe grew up on the Upper West Side, but attended university in the Midwest and traveled through Europe before returning to New York City. She lived in an apartment on Delancey St. for $25 a month and lived around the corner from Faden. Both had attended the New York Studio School. Many art schools were focused on teaching figurative art, such as Cezanne, said Caspe, but figurative
Anthony Santuoso: “Friending Death” (2014, oil/canvas, 56 x 64 in.).
art was not in vogue. “Students came out steeped in figurative art and the art world was not into that kind of thing,” she said. Caspe said that at first the group showed together and then there were individual shows. The gallery moved from the Bowery to Greene St., and is now at 530 W. 25th St. BOWERY, continued on p. 21
PHOTO BY ROBERT GORDON
November 13, 2014
members’ work, 1969 to present BOWERY, continued from p. 20
She stayed with the Bowery Gallery until 1976. Caspe came back to the Bowery Gallery in 2001 and stayed for the next decade. During that time, she was the director and had thought about a show that would feature the work of founding members. Caspe, along with Santuoso, both credit Eugene Maiese as the driving force behind this current exhibition at the Westbeth Gallery. The venue is connected to the Westbeth Artists Housing, which provides space for artists, and has been showing its resident artists, international artists and other artists for the past 40 years. Maiese wanted to draw attention to the group, said Santuoso, and what happened in that time period. In his essay that begins the Bowery Gallery catalog, Maiese writes that the artists “dared to challenge the conventions of the day” and “believed in the radical idea that artists could represent themselves, that they didn’t need to be presented in
fancy galleries, or represented by agents or supported by big money.” The Bowery Gallery, at its current location, said Caspe, would not be big enough for this exhibition, which features 19 of the 23 original founding members. “This Bowery Group had a certain connection,” said Beal, who was recently at the gallery to help put up her work. “I was thrilled to see the new paintings. I am so impressed how good people got over time.” Beal said this exhibition was an opportunity for those who hadn’t been able to show their work recently. Some of the founding members have died, some have moved on from art, but several still create art as well as teach, such as Santuoso, who now teaches at the Fashion Institute of Art. “You would think that, lots of the time, [galleries] evolve for a period of time and then they dissipate and disappear,” said Faden. “These galleries have become a consistent thing on the scene. How many things have lasted 45 years?”
COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
Linda Caspe: “Autobiography” (2014, bronze, 23 x 15 in.).
COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
Nancy Beal: “Melo Mel Red Tub” or “Cat on the Porch” (1977, oil/canvas, 28 x 21 in.). TheVillager.com
November 13, 2014
Jerry Tallmer, 93, wrote with heart about the soul BY SCOTT SITFFLER
PHOTO BY JONATHAN SLAFF
hen a theater critic passes away, those in his workplace orbit don’t normally rush to pen glowing testimonials. Most of them simply aren’t moved to do so, while the rest are too busy jockeying for position on the graveyard backhoe. The reaction to Jerry Tallmer’s death was, like his work, beyond the scope of standard protocol. A New York City native, Tallmer was just weeks shy of his 94th birthday when he died on November 9, taking with him an unyielding drive — and an exceedingly rare ability — to communicate the essence of an author’s message, an actor’s method, or a person’s life. While lesser human beings (and, therefore, lesser writers) are miserly with generating content that doesn’t bolster their opinion or assert their authority, the arts and entertainment features written by Tallmer for this publication regularly surrendered long stretches of his available word count to excerpts from the script. This was done in the service of calling attention not only to the playwright’s craftsmanship, but also to the heart and soul of the work. Combine that with Tallmer’s ability to place contemporary productions within the context of versions seen decades ago, and the scope of his loss begins to take shape. Not exactly given to hyperbole or fits of unearned praise, show business historian (and The Villager/East Villager’s Downtown theater columnist) Trav S.D. recalls that upon meeting Tallmer a decade ago, “He gave me a look, the sort of expression only a New Yorker could love, not of bewilderment, but of fatigue, a look that said, ‘What’s that? Some kind of a joke name? I got no time or energy or patience for even trying to understand what you’re telling me.’ But I sure knew who he was. Small in physical stature, he was a giant (or ought to have been) in Off-Broadway. After all,
Jerry Tallmer, at his 2012 induction into the Players Club Hall of Fame.
he was the man who named it. He was the guy who reviewed all of those legendary experimental productions for The Village Voice in the late fifties and early sixties, and founded the Obie Awards. He encouraged thousands of artists to be brave. In essence, he was midwife to the very culture that
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inspired me to adapt a pseudonym in the first place. Theater in the sixties operated according to the premise that this is a world of infinite possibility. We need the likes of Jerry Tallmer right now more than ever.” The ripple effects have never abated from that decisive moment when Tallmer (then with The Village Voice) committed to frequent ventures below 14th Street, in the interest of spotlighting a new form of theater. His method of covering Downtown paralleled that less formal world of shoestring budgets and a black box sets, resulting in an equally unique and personal style of criticism. Those familiar with his many years of feature/review hybrid work in this publication will recall, hopefully with fondness, how Tallmer frequently went off-topic. Childhood memories and pop culture references from the first half of the 20th century were momentary diversions, though, and lovingly (though not always strongly) anchored to the topic at hand.
Readers only saw in passing the physical effort it took to cover a story. Half of any job, after all, is showing up — and Tallmer, at every stage of his life, did it with gusto. Actor and theatrical press agent Jonathan Slaff recalls a lasting impression, while Tallmer was working for the New York Post: “I was amazed at how many small theaters he would cover for a big paper. Like the time in the very early 1990s when he came to review a version of ‘Hamlet’ set in 1930s Bulgaria at the House of Candles Theater on Stanton Street. It was maybe the second show after that new space opened. There was torrential rain that night. Transit was broken and cabs were scarce. He was already elderly and seemed frail. I wondered how he would get to the theater. He did. He came splashing to the theater on time. The audience, what there was of it, sat there dripping wet. He began his review, ‘This swimmer...’ He came to the work of new artists with an eye for discovery. He was not only a discerning critic, he was also a great reporter. That was the difference between him and many other people who write about the arts.” Rolling Stone co-founder Michael Lydon, a musician on the current Village performance scene, only knew Tallmer through his work. As a writer who recently handed in, early, an assignment to this publication’s arts section, Lydon had no reason to reach out to us this week, other than to note, “I always felt he was on the artist’s side. He knew and sympathized with the struggles to do original work, meaningful work, and also, the struggles to get gigs, recognition, bodies in seats. New York is a tough town. Jerry Tallmer understood the whole battle and did his best to cheer us on.” When I became The Villager/East Villager’s arts editor several years ago, Jerry left the polite greetings in the dust and got down to the real work of forcefully advocating for his favorite artists and producing entities (he was a soft touch, rightfully so, for anything from the Mint Theater Company). We often clashed on what to cover — but agreed that bad reviews, even at two words (“Don’t go!”) were not the best use of finite newsprint space. So began the process of messengers delivering scripts to Jerry’s apartment, where he’d put aside the best and consign the also-rans to the dustbin. When it came time to whittle that list down even further, Jerry never played the “Obie” card or reminded me of the fact that his legacy as a writer and editor predated my birth. He didn’t have to. Jerry got the gig like he covered the show: on merit. For more on Jerry Tallmer’s life, see the obituary in the news section of this paper — also available on the website, along with an archive of his arts and entertainment articles. TheVillager.com
Just Do Art BY SCOTT STIFFLER
DOC NYC: DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL
Revelations wreak havoc on relationships, in “Negative is Positive.”
niors/children. Panels and Master Classes: $12 adults, $10 seniors, $9 students.
NEGATIVE IS POSITIVE
A little honesty is all it takes to level the playing field and change the game — in Theater for the New City’s world premiere production of “Negative Is Positive.” Christy-Smith Sloman’s slow-burning dramedy centers around the suspicions, ambitions and expectations of driven pastry chef Simone, whose husband David has given up a steady gig to pursue an unlikely goal. Recently transplanted to Gowanus from the Upper West Side, the newly married couple’s dynamic is about to become as ugly (and potentially toxic) as “the weird brown goo that bubbles up from the drain every so often.” When Simone makes a shocking confession just before happi-
ly coupled George and Brianna arrive for a pleasantly sociable night of binge viewing, all four find themselves occupied by the ripple effects of their own selfish, and very human, actions. Through Nov. 30. Thurs. Fri. & Sat. at 8 p.m. & Sun. at 3 p.m. At Theater for the New City (155 First Ave., btw. 9th & 10th Sts.). For tickets ($15), call 212-868-4444 or visit smarttix.com. For info: negativeispositivetheplay.com and theaterforthenewcity.net.
CultureHub Presents REFEST
An experimental incubator where multiple disciplines and mediums intersect, the annual art fair and technology festival known as REFEST touches down at La MaMa’s CultureHub from Nov. 21–23. On opening night,
PHOTO BY SCOTT ANGER
“The Return” considers the unique reality of being Jewish in contemporary Poland (Nov. 18 & 20, at IFC, as part of DOC NYC).
“Soul Boys of the Western World” charts the rise, fall, and rise of Spandau Ballet (Nov. 15, as part of DOC NYC).
PHOTO BY MAGALI CHARRON
PHOTO BY LYNN GOLDSMITH
True crimes, intimate struggles, epic personal journeys and sweeping social movements are among the tales told — dozens of them by local directors — when America’s largest documentary film festival unspools on the screens of SVA, IFC and Bow Tie Chelsea cinemas. Consult the DOC NYC website (docnyc.net) for a complete list of the 150+ films and events. We’re highlighting these three on the strength of their premise, as well as the fact that the filmmakers will be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A (as is the case with many of the festival selections). “Soul Boys of the Western World” looks at the rise and fall and rise of Spandau Ballet, a group of working class Brits who made 1980s synthpop safe for introspective lyrics, while making ravenous fans of both sexes swoon over their trend-setting clothes and voluminous hair. Director George Hencken convinced the members to tell their own stories, and intertwined that with period footage and never-before-seen home movies. Nov. 15, 9:45 p.m. at Chelsea’s SVA Theatre. Visit spandauballetthemovie.com. Sentenced to death for a 1892 double homicide that took place in a Chicago park, Anthony Porter was 48 hours from being executed — when an investigation by Northwest University journalism students led to the confession of Alstory Simon and the exoneration of Porter. “A Murder in the Park” argues that there are holes in this too-good-to-be-true plot twist, and that both men in question were “just pawns in a much larger plan.” Nov. 17, 9:30 p.m. at IFC Center. More info at facebook.com/PorterMovie. Filmed in Israel, Prague and Brooklyn, longtime Village resident Adam Zucker’s “The Return” looks at the religious and cultural awakening of four Polish Catholic women who discovered their Jewish identity while in their teens, then struggled to create a community in a country that was once the epicenter of the Jewish world. This film screens Nov. 18 & 20 at IFC, as part of DOC NYC, then has a Dec. 3 screening at the Museum of Jewish Heritage (in Battery Park City). Visit thereturndocumentary.com. Through Nov. 20, at the IFC Center (323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St.), Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas (260 W. 23rd St., btw. 7th & 8th Aves.) and the SVA Theatre (333 West 23rd St., btw. 8th & 9th Aves.). For schedule info & tickets, visit docnyc.net. Regular screenings: $17 adults, $15 se-
“WordHack” (8 p.m.) uses code poetry, digital and e-lit, and devArt to explore the intersection of language and technology. At 9 p.m., “Close Up” is a full-immersion art party hosted by media artists Tal and Omer Golan and dancers from LeeSaar The Company. It encourages well-lubricated attendees to ditch the notion of audience passivity and become active participants in “an ever-changing environment that combines live dance, theater and music with interactive video and audio recorded, mixed and projected in real time.” The evening concludes with Bubblyfish’s 9:30 p.m. performance of “Moori,” which incorporates the SMS of a smart phone. Nov. 22’s 11 a.m.–5 p.m. offering challenges kids and their parents to explore an arcade full of 3D games. At 5 p.m., Anna Barsan hosts a salon where artists present projects designed to subvert the practice of video surveillance. At 7:30 p.m., an electroacoustic performance by foci + loci considers the usage of video games as virtual sound stages. At 8 p.m., “Artcade” is This Near Future’s merging of old school video arcade socialization with contemporary, independently designed video games. The final event, at 8 p.m. on Nov. 23, brings the festival concept of interactivity and technology full circle — when The Fast Food Collective’s Eric Barry Drasin curates an evening of audio-visual speed dating. REFEST happens Fri.-Sun., Nov. 21– 23. At CultureHub (47 Great Jones St., 3rd Floor, btw. Bowery & Lafayette). For event prices, schedule and more info: culturehub.org/refest. November 13, 2014
Pier 40 is a focus in the C.B. 2 chairperson race; C.B. 2, continued from p. 1
CHAIRPERSON Q&A During the Q&A on Oct. 23, the three candidates sat amicably, shoulder to shoulder at a table at the front of the meeting room as board member Shirley Smith moderated. The first question was on business
November 13, 2014
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
incumbent Maria Passannante Derr, who was re-elected to a second oneyear term. In something new for C.B. 2, Gruber decided on having a question-and-answer session at last month’s full-board meeting, during which the candidates responded to board members’ pre-written questions. Bergman, though, had to answer a series of additional questions, posed only to him, about his special and unique relationship to Pier 40. Bergman, who has served on C.B. 2 the longest of the three, is a leading Greenwich Village-area youth sports advocate. A former president of P3 (Pier Park & Playground Association), he has worked for years, first, to get athletic fields installed on Pier 40, then, once the fields were in place, to ensure that the crumbling pier itself is repaired, to preserve it as a youth sports mecca into the future. Last year, Bergman led a new group called Pier 40 Champions — a coalition of Lower West Side youth sports leagues — in their pitch of a concept plan for building luxury residential towers in Hudson River Park at the foot of Pier 40, whose revenue would fund the pier’s repairs. But the plan failed for lack of political support. Bergman has previously served as chairperson of the C.B. 2 Parks Committee, and currently chairs its Land Use and Business Development Committee. In his professional life, he previously worked for the city Parks Department. Riccobono, the board’s first vice chairperson, is a leading member of N.Y.U. Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, the group spearheading the legal fight against the university’s South Village superblocks mega-development plan. He teaches as an adjunct at N.Y.U. and also owns some property, though not in C.B. 2. Stewart co-chaired the board’s S.L.A. Licensing Committee for years before stepping down after announcing his plan to run for board chairperson. A fine-art collector, Stewart is also the Village’s Republican district leader — the lowest-level political elected office, which is unpaid. He is a former board president of One Fifth Ave.
Tobi Bergman, seen here at the Elizabeth St. Garden’s recent Harvest Fest, has been a staunch advocate for preserving the garden as permanent open space, and an opponent of a plan by the city and Councilmember Margaret Chin to build affordable housing on it. Earlier this year, his Land Use and Business Development Committee passed a unanimous resolution recommending saving the garden, which was then passed overwhelmingly by the full C.B. 2 board.
improvement districts, or BIDs. “Some residential members of the community say BIDs exploit their position, and use their influence for businesses, not for residents,” Smith read from her question sheet. Bergman, who lives in Hudson Square, noted that he sits on the Hudson Square Connections BID board as the C.B. 2 representative. “I think we have had good experiences with BIDs in C.B. 2,” he said. “There are overly powerful and arrogant BIDs in some parts of the city. But the Village Alliance and Hudson Square BID, they’ve really worked well with us.” But he added, “The devil’s in the details. You have to stay on top of it.” Stewart said, “I do believe BIDs have a place in the city, as they do around the U.S.” The key, he said, is to “just have a fair dialogue.” For his part, Riccobono answered, “BIDs can be very effective. But the Soho BID, we were not very happy on how that turned out; it’s really a very small area on Broadway — but there is fear that they will try to expand. You do have to make residents feel represented — or it’s a very, very bad experience.” On what basis would the candidates appoint the chairpersons of the board’s various committees? Smith
asked. Riccobono said it’s up to board members to make the case for why they should chair specific committees, and that he would look at their experience. Stewart said he’d “watch out for conflict of interests.” “Can they commit the time? We all know that the S.L.A. Committee is a lot of work,” Stewart said, referring to the committee that reviews liquor-license applications. “I think a committee chairperson has to have some proven leadership component.” Bergman answered succinctly: “Length of service, expertise, willingness to put in the time...demonstrated collegiality and leadership.” Smith’s next question: What would you, as board chairperson, decide on your own and what would you consult your fellow board members on? Stewart said he didn’t think he’d ever be comfortable making decisions without input. Riccobono referred to his novel “board restructuring” idea, under which, if elected, he would rely on the help of his first and second vice chairpersons “on a regular basis.” “I think the chairperson should consult on all decisions, all issues,” Bergman stated.
A QUESTION OF VISION Next came the “vision question”: Why are you running for election and how will your being chairperson benefit C.B. 2 and the community? “I’ve been on the board 17 years,” Bergman answered. “It’s something I’ve enjoyed very much. I feel we accomplish a lot. I’m very, very optimistic about doing what we do. I would bring that optimism to issues.” Stewart said that, during his 10 years on C.B. 2, he’s enjoyed feeling that he was always learning. “There’s always some new issue to learn about,” he said. “My vision: three key words — consensus, collaboration and transparency.” Riccobono said, “I’ve been first or second vice chairperson for the past 10 years and sort of in the shadows. I felt I gave good counsel. A key thing to do would be to open up paths to new leadership on the board.” Next question: What do you think are the most important issues C.B. 2 will face in the next two years, and what will you do about them? Riccobono mentioned gentrification, and said he supports state Senator Brad Hoylman’s proposal for a special tax on wealthy foreigners
who own residential property in New York City. “It alters the character of the Village,” he said, lamenting the loss of most of the area’s “quirky stores.” Bergman said his priorities would include affordable housing in C.B. 2, supporting Hudson River Park and Pier 40, and parks in general. “Parks are the place that community happens,” he noted. Stewart said the big issues, in his view, would be Pier 40, the N.Y.U. 2031 mega-development plan, affordable housing, preserving the Elizabeth St. Garden as open space, and making the jobs of the board’s paid office-support staff easier.
BERGMAN AND PIER 40 Then followed a series of questions specifically for Bergman concerning his relationship to Pier 40 over the years. He was asked to reveal how much money the nonprofit he formerly helmed, P3, received from C&K Partners, which previously ran the parking operation on Pier 40, and how long these payments went on for. Bergman answered that it was $5,000 a month, and spanned from 1997 to 2003, totaling $360,000. As a result of these payments to P3, the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board had ruled that Bergman had a conflict of interest when he voted on a redevelopment plan for Pier 40 proposed by C&K Partners, and thus should have recused himself from voting. “I’m not going to challenge what the [COIB] ruling was,” Bergman told C.B. 2 during last month’s Q&A. “I paid the fine. ... “It was based on a court settlement,” he added of the monthly money funneled to P3. “C&K had to make the payments.” He added that the cash “didn’t affect” how he voted on the competing Pier 40 plans back then “because essentially the vote was locked-in. ... The vote involved was a unanimous vote.”
AIR-RIGHTS TRANSFERS In another question for Bergman, he was asked: As board chairperson, what would be your position on the transfer of air rights from Pier 40 to the St. John’s Building? “I don’t know what my position would be yet,” he said, though adding, “I do think our elected officials C.B. 2, continued on p. 25 TheVillager.com
Three candidates seek to lead the Village board C.B. 2, continued from p. 24
In a follow-up interview with The Villager, Bergman said he was fine with the extra questions on Oct. 23. “I thought it was great,” he said. As for the vote on Pier 40 that the Conflicts of Interest Board said he should have recused himself on, TheVillager.com
In September, at a party at his One Fifth Ave. apartment celebrating Doris Diether’s 50th anniversary as a member of Community Board 2, Richard Stewart presented Diether, left, with an honorary proclamation from Borough President Gale Brewer, right.
AIR FRANCE PIER 40
’03 CONFLICTS RULING
provided a very good way to fund the park.” (Under Hudson River Park legislation passed last year in Albany, profits from any development rights sold from Pier 40 would specifically have to be used for that pier’s renovation and maintenance. Earlier this year, the St. John’s Center’s owners signed a secret agreement with the state and the Hudson River Park Trust, pledging to buy $100 million worth of Pier 40’s unused development rights. The St. John’s project would have been done under a General Project Plan, or G.P.P., as opposed to a city-run Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP. But the secret agreement — after finally coming to the attention of local politicians, who were outraged at the idea of a G.P.P. — was subsequently scrapped, and any project there will now be done under ULURP, which gives the City Council binding power to modify any development proposal.) Bergman said that, in figuring out the mechanism of how the park development-rights transfers will actually be done, “there’s going to be a balance worked out of three things: the park, preservation and affordable housing.” There were still more questions for Bergman regarding the massive, 14acre W. Houston St. pier, including: As chairperson, would you be able to step away from your personal history with Pier 40 and do what’s best for the community? “The board chairperson position is not to be an advocate for anything but the community,” he responded. Another questioner — while calling Bergman’s advocacy for Pier 40 “admirable” — queried: Would it maybe be better to remain an advocate, and run for board chairperson later? “No, that’s not the only issue I care about,” said Bergman. He has been active, for example, on other parks around the district and liquor-license applications, such as Greenhouse, among other things, in addition to his responsibilities as Land Use Committee chairperson.
stood to make money based on his votes. Going back to how it all began, then-Governor Pataki had promised waterfront park advocates a 70,000-square-foot athletic field on Pier 40. It was expected this field would be located on one half of the pier’s huge indoor courtyard. But the field that was ultimately provided in the late 1990s — on the southeast corner of Pier 40’s rooftop — was only 40,000 square feet. As part of a legal settlement, a 20,000-square-foot indoor soccer field on the pier was also subsequently “kicked in,” created in a refurbished space that formerly housed jail cells for the Department of Probation. Also part of the settlement were the payments to P3.
In March 2013, Bo Riccobono, right, led mayor candidate Sal Albanese, left, on a tour of the N.Y.U. South Village superblocks. Riccobono is a leading member of N.Y.U. Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, which is fighting the university’s nearly 2-million-square-foot development project. Albanese, who didn’t take any campaign contributions from real estate interests, later came out against the university project.
Bergman said it was actually two votes he cast — one as a then-member of the board’s Waterfront Committee and then one subsequently at the fullboard meeting, approving the Waterfront Committee’s resolution. This was all back in 2003. The Park Trust had put out a Request for Proposals, or R.F.P., for private developers’ proposals for Pier 40. The Trust was pushing for a plan that featured what would have been the world’s largest oceanarium — basically a supersized aquarium sporting a whale. But many park advocates were coalescing behind the C&K plan, which featured a rooftop “art garden” and a marine FedEx operation involving barges. However, in hindsight, Bergman said, both rival plans were for “shop-
ping malls at Pier 40. ... We ended up supporting C&K because it wasn’t as bad.” Bergman wouldn’t reveal to The Villager the amount of the fine he paid to COIB. “Funds were mixed,” he said of the C&K payments to P3, along with its other monies. “We did extensive renovations of all our spaces on Pier 40. At the time, we managed the picnic house [on the finger pier at Pier 40’s southwest corner], which was open to the public for most of the year. We renovated the picnic house. We got $5,000 a month from C&K. We put a lot more into the spaces.” Bergman stressed that he didn’t have a “business relationship” with C&K because the payments were court-ordered, and that he never
In addition, separately, Bergman was flown to Paris on C&K’s dime so that he could offer advice to the architect working on the plan on how best to incorporate sports fields into it. Bergman explained to The Villager that he had “offered to be a resource” to any of the three developers who were proposing competing Pier 40 plans back then. “The only one that took us up on that was Ben Korman [of C&K],” he said. “This idea that I went there on a junket,” Bergman scoffed. “I arrived there on a Friday night, and I left there on a Sunday. P3 agreed Ben would pay for airfare and P3 would pay for the hotel and everything else. It’s not like I received something from this. All I received was going to Paris and meeting with an architect, which led to adding a ball field to the design.” Ultimately, then-C.B. 2 Chairperson Aubrey Lees — alarmed that a bigbox Lowe’s hardware store would be plopped down on Pier 40 as part of the C&K plan — abruptly slammed the brakes on the whole process, purged the Waterfront Committee and filled it with new members, and had the board redo its review of the competing plans for the pier. In the end, the R.F.P. process sank. But in the aftermath, the Trust did create what it then called an “interim” sports field in Pier 40’s courtyard, which has since become a beloved family-friendly amenity that the community can’t conceive of losing. As for how many of the 50 C.B. 2 members were actually on the board when all this happened back in 2003, it might be less than a dozen, or about one-quarter of the current board. November 13, 2014
November 13, 2014
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November 13, 2014
PHOTOS BY Q. SAKAMAKI
Ancient rituals in the Old City during Sukhot WORLD
ast month, during the Jewish harvest holiday of Sukhot, Q. Sakamaki photographed November 13, 2014
the scene in Jerusalem’s Old City, including at the Western Wall. In these photos, a Hasidic, ultra-Orthodox Jew prays at the Wall, with the date-palm frond of his lulav — held during Sukhot prayers — projecting above his
head; a young boy reads the Torah by the Wall; a group of female Israeli soldiers walk by the Wall; a Palestinian woman and boy walk near the Old City’s Damascus Gate; and a young Jewish woman’s reflection is seen in
the window of the bus in which she is riding. Sakamaki, an internationally renowned documentary and conflict photographer, was a longtime East Villager before relocating to the Upper West Side a few years ago. TheVillager.com
November 13, 2014
November 13, 2014
From the Cliffs to L.E.S., an urban fish story L.E.S. FISHING, continued from p. 15
inches to 26 inches long — safer to eat. Big ones were carrying too many toxins. I also threw back stripers under 20 inches. One out of 50 fish was a legal 28-inch keeper. We had to hide our catches. I was getting better at finding stripers. I became a dock rat. Pre-9/11, docks were freer to roam. I was beating out the Chinese and Puerto Rican master striped bass fisherman. I had the touch. Reeling in not too fast, a few jiggles of the lure, 20-pound test line, shad lures weighted down soaked in bunker oil. Some guys used spark plug weights, anything you could recycle out of abandoned cars that littered the area under the elevated F.D.R. Drive. I was catching about a 100 stripers a migration cycle, returning half back to the sea. On Pier 17, a Chinese man quoted me a proverb: “You will live a long life since you return some fish back to the sea.” But the Chinese were the worst, keeping everything — even 12-inch stripers. As soon as I caught a striper, I would bleed it right away, cutting it above the tail fin. When I got home, I gutted them. At first, with no running water in my squat, I washed them outside and gutted them with fire hydrant water. I had to fight off junkies cleaning their needles. My next step was cutting out the belly fat, dark meat, then eliminating the skin. These three cutouts eliminated most of the toxins. Later, in 2006, when my squat was legalized and we had gas, hot water, electricity, I would bake bass in the oven. I would first soak the bass in wine for a few hours, add some salt, pepper, lemon, a little butter, then cook for seven minutes at 350 degrees, a white light meat. I would often serve it with brown rice, asparagus and white wine. Cooking became a lot easier when we our squat was legalized. But it was amazing how much we learned to cook on a hotplate with jimmied wires. Sometimes I would cook on my potbelly stove. We collected wood crates in Chinatown, and washedup logs under the Brooklyn Bridge. I carried a 5-gallon jug of water up five flights of stairs every other day. I didn’t need to go to a gym: I chopped wood and carried water. When my squat was legalized, I sort of fell apart and gained 15 pounds. On the Lower East Side, the Chinese taught me a lot about fish. They were the best fishmongers. When I overfished a few stripers and needed some extra money, I would sell a few on the sidewalks of Chinatown during the nighttime rush hour. I sold my fish a few hours after I caught them. I would always find ice at the South St. Seaport market while they where unloading trucks. My presentation was sharp, with the fish laid on top of burlap on the sidewalk, sprayed with some ice and river water. In 10 to 15 minutes, I had sold out. I once sold a 32-inch, 16-pounder for $50. I had to be fast and quick. I felt like a drug dealer. I escaped into the night, after a quick hit-and-run. I felt like a true New Yorker eating fish from the East River, a real dock rat. I became that Edgewater Rat of my youth, the ones the Cliffside Boys would battle in gang fights if caught climbing the cliffs. I started growing a tail, moving faster, growing fins. My skin started to shine in silver, iridescent lines. I became slippery, not with olive oil skin, but with fish oil. My sense of smell increased, I could see in the dark. I became a hardcore urban angler, addicted to the bite. I became a junkie with a fishing pole and hook, trying to get the big one that got away last TheVillager.com
Andrew Castrucci with another massive East River striper, inside the entranceway of Bullet Space, on E. Third St.
night. I stalked the piers at night, where the only people out were junkies, hookers, tranies, suicide jumpers, fishmongers, South St. fish market workers unloading with gaffe in hand, around a 50-gallon drum fire, staying warm in November cold spells. With my visions, I was seeing tears showing up in the sidewalk cracks where stripers formerly roamed. I become an expert on finding them, under docks, rips, rock formations — in the sidewalk
cracks, abandoned cars, in the canyons of the Lower Lower East Side. Full moon, new moon. ... Slack tide, ebb tide. ... Two days before, two days after spring and fall migrations. ... I became that fish, that striped bass. Like they say, you are what you eat. This piece will appear in an unconventional cookbook, to be published in Italy next year, in which artists share their personal stories and recipes. November 13, 2014
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NOV. 13, 2014, THE VILLAGER