The Paper of Record for East and West Villages, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown
November 14, 2013 • FREE Volume 3 • Number 28
Advocates file suit to stop NYCHA luxury infill plan BY SAM SPOKONY
INFILL, continued on p. 5
Monumental battle in Nolita over fate of garden site BY GERARD FLYNN
and use issues at community board meetings can generate strong feelings, and a special public hearing held by Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee Monday evening was no exception. Community residents
are upset with city plans to turn the Elizabeth St. Garden, a 20,000-squarefoot, city-owned lot in Nolita into affordable housing units. The open space was tacked on last year to the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, or SPURA, NOLITA, continued on p. 8
PHOTO BY SAM SPOKONY
pponents of the New York City Housing Authority’s plan to lease public land to private developers have filed a lawsuit against the agency in an attempt to stop the plan from moving forward. The Urban Justice Cen-
ter and New York Environmental Law and Justice Project announced on Tuesday that they filed suit in State Supreme Court to prevent NYCHA from accepting any bids to construct primarily luxury residential buildings in five of the eight developments targeted for Bill de Blasio reached out to give a supporter a high-five at his election night celebration in Brooklyn. See article, Page 2.
De Blasio is de man!
Charter school is settling in at Washington Irving home BY HEATHER DUBIN
hree months into the school year, Success Academy’s Union Square location is beginning to smooth out some logistical kinks. The kindergarten and first-grade classes at the charter school are now able to walk to their recess destination from 40 Irving Place, at E. 16th St., to Union
Square Park in six minutes flat. Success Academy has the second floor at the Washington Irving High School campus, as well as its own cafeteria and entrance, which is separate from the main lobby entrance, where there are metal detectors in place for the students from the six high schools that share the building. Success Academy was founded in
2006 by former City Councilmember Eva Moskowitz, who is the growing charter network’s C.E.O. On a recent tour of the new Union Square charter school with Principal Paola Zalkind and Ann Powell, senior managing director of communications for Success Academy charter schools, CHARTER SCHOOL, continued on p. 16
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De Blasio destroys Lhota; Vows to take ‘new direction’ BY SAM SPOKONY, HEATHER DUBIN, GERARD FLYNN AND LINCOLN ANDERSON
November 14, 2013
PHOTO BY SAM SPOKONY
ill de Blasio trounced Republican Joe Lhota in the race for mayor and will be taking over City Hall in January. De Blasio, who will be the first Democratic mayor in 20 years, won with 74 percent of the vote. In his victory speech to a crowd of around 2,000 supporters in Park Slope, Brooklyn, de Blasio drilled home the points he made throughout his campaign — all which were fundamentally based on a left-leaning, progressive approach to tackling the city’s problem of social and economic inequality. “Today you spoke out loudly and clearly for a new direction for our city, united by a belief that our city could leave no New Yorker behind,” said de Blasio, currently the city’s public advocate. “The challenges we face have been decades in the making, and the problems we’ve set out to address will not be solved overnight. But make no mistake, the people of this city have chosen a progressive path. “I’ve spoken throughout this campaign about a tale of two cities,” de Blasio continued. “That inequality, that feeling of a few doing very well while so many slip further behind — that is the defining challenge of our time. … Making sure no son or daughter of New York falls behind defines the very promise of our city. “The city has overcome hurricanes, terrorist attacks, but the gutsy New Yorkers always prevailed,” he said. “But the challenge today is different. The creeping specter of inequality must be confronted, and will not weaken our resolve.” On one point, de Blasio has already surpassed Bloomberg. De Blasio also addressed the crowd in Spanish, and his accent was much better than that of the mayor, who has been regularly ribbed for his bilingual forays. Among the Democratic politicians in the packed auditorium were Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Congressmember Caroline Maloney. Exit polls showed de Blasio took almost the entire black vote and close to 90 percent of Hispanics, but just around 50 percent of the white vote. Despite all the left-leaning talk — plus, longtime ally Letitia James, the new public advocate, on the big screen promising equal opportunity for all — no dramatic change in the fortunes of the wealthy, a key tax base, is coming, insisted Joel Giambara. The former Erie County executive and friend of de Blasio’s going back to the latter’s HUD days, said a de Blasio administration would be governed from the center. “He understands the need for moderation,” Giambara said. On top of minor tax hikes on the wealthy to pay for universal
Bill de Blasio gave the thumbs up to the crowd as he announced his victory on Tuesday evening.
pre-K, he said, de Blasio would look to re-appropriate funds through trimming wasteful spending.
reflect a citywide racial divide, but rather that the new administration would mirror the values and ideals of a united city. The mayor-elect’s strong showing was matched Downtown, where interviews with voters indicated strong support. “I think de Blasio is more in touch with the real population of New York, not just wealthy business people,” said Yvette Velez, 40, a Tribeca resident. She added that she likes current Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but believes that he has focused far too much on the city’s affluent community. Downtowners also said they liked de Blasio’s emphasis on expanding pre-K programs and taxing the wealthy to pay for it. John Scott, a Democratic district leader from Independence Plaza, said he thinks the tax plan has a good chance to pass in Albany despite what others have said. “I remember that Governor Cuomo was originally against raising the millionaire’s tax, but he changed after people put a lot
‘That inequality, that feeling of a few doing very well while so many slip further behind — that is the defining challenge of our time.’ Bill de Blasio
City Coucilmember and fellow Democrat Robert Jackson, who ran unsuccessfully for Manhattan borough president, said that the election’s racial disparities don’t
of pressure on him,” Scott said. “I’m excited about the fact that the new City Council is much more progressive,” Scott added. “And I think that will have an effect on helping de Blasio’s plans.” East Villagers who turned out for de Blasio on Election Day sounded off on education and housing, as well as the tiny, sixpoint font used on the ballots. At the Girls & Boys Republic Club poll site, on E. Sixth St. near Avenue D, Sheryl Nelson, 52, said she voted for de Blasio because, “Lhota’s nuts, not overly nuts — not Tea Party nuts, but nuts enough.” The mother of a 9-year-old son, Cole, in public school, she said, “De Blasio has a better feeling for what it’s like to navigate the city with kids, and I would like to think that makes him more forward-thinking.” On the ballot referendum question on whether 80 should be judges’ mandatory retirement age, Nelson voted “yes,” because, she said with a smile, she realized women live longer than men, so decided, “Let’s stack the courts with women.” Of the six-point-type ballot measures, she scoffed, “I’m a graphic designer and a calligrapher, too. That’s ridiculous. This is DE BLASIO, continued on p. 4
optimistic about the future of the legislation, especially since Tuesday’s voter complaints will bring plenty of buzz back to the issue. “I think the Senate will work with us on it,” Kavanagh said.
The garden has been trashed by the developer, who has now brought in a drilling rig to take soil samples — usually a prelude to a construction project.
GARDEN DEFENDER: An early backer of Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, actress Cynthia Nixon has also become a fan of the embattled Children’s Magical Garden on Stanton and Norfolk Sts. On Halloween, she brought her toddler son to C.M.G.’s costume party and posed in front of a banner calling on Mayor Bloomberg to help restore the portion of the garden fenced off last summer by developer Serge Hoyda, whose firm Norfolk Development Corporation LLC, purchased the lot back in 2003. A day before the
PHOTOS COURTESY CHILDREN’S MAGICAL GARDEN
Cynthia Nixon in the Children’s Magical Garden on Halloween.
party, on Oct. 30, Hoyda dispatched a drilling rig to the site, which plowed through the “meditation herb circle” and other plantings made by neighborhood children. The rig was there to take core samples, presumably in preparation for developing the site, though no plans have been filed with the Department of Buildings. Hoyda did not respond to requests for comment. The garden’s other two lots are owned by the city.
KAVANAGH’S GOOD ‘POINT’: Aside from their choice
in the mayor’s race, there was one thing that many New Yorkers agreed about on Election Day — they could barely read the ballots. The six-point font used by the city’s Board of Elections caused both figurative headaches and literal eye strain throughout the day, as many voters took to social media to gripe about the tiny print. But state Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh replied with a tweet of his own Tuesday, reminding New Yorkers that he has sponsored pending legislation that would require the B.O.E. to use the largest possible print size on ballots — up to 12-point font for candidates’ names, and up to 11-point font for all other words. “Poll workers have told me that up to half of all voters are saying that they can’t read the ballots,” Kavanagh told this newspaper in a phone interview Tuesday evening. “That’s just unacceptable.” The East Village assemblymember asserted his belief that if the bill were to become law, the B.O.E. would in fact use a more reasonable font size, allowing voters to see their ballots without squinting. Kavanagh’s bill was passed by the Assembly in both 2012 and 2013, but has yet to make it through the state Senate — something Kavanagh chalked up to “some minor differences in language” on the Assembly and Senate versions of the bill. But he remained
GUILTY PLEA IN ‘WILD’ CASE: Richard Pearson, a.k.a. the “Soho Wild Man,” a mentally ill man who many Soho merchants and residents say “terrorized” them by physically and verbally harassing them, pleaded guilty in State Supreme Court on Wed., Oct. 30, for possession of cocaine. Pearson, 48, has consistently pleaded not guilty since May 17, when he was charged with seconddegree assault, a felony, for allegedly throwing a brick at someone’s head. Pearson was indicted by two grand juries for possession of a narcotic, a misdemeanor, but was not indicted on the assault charge. Judge Charles Solomon is the presiding judge on the case. In a phone interview, Alex Grosshtern, Pearson’s attorney, expressed his opinion on the case. “He accepted responsibility and / or pleaded guilty to the only charges he’s guilty of, which is the misdemeanor narcotics possession,” Grosshtern said of Pearson. “He trusts that the court, and this judge, will render a just and proper sentence for this misdemeanor charge — the sole misdemeanor charge, and the sole charge the grand jury found appropriate,” Grosshtern said. “So he pleaded guilty without being made any promises.” 7-ELEVEN ASESSMENT? So, after all the rallies and protests, and sturm und drang over slurpies and corn dogs, the 7-Eleven has opened at 11th St. and Avenue A. We stopped by Saturday night, and things inside were pretty mellow there, sterile-seeming, bright white. The man working the register during the night shift was friendly and agreed to have his photo taken, but he didn’t give out his name and said he wasn’t really allowed to say anything about the store, the anti-7-Eleven protesters or anything else. We recently met a couple from E. 11th St. at a rooftop garden meet-up in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, and they said a lot of people in that building preferred a 7-Eleven over a bar. But Councilmember Rosie Mendez told us that she knows a lot of the building’s residents opposed the 24-hour chain food mart. What’s more, Mendez said, the noise and vibrations from the new store’s HVAC system in the rear is negatively impacting a lot of neighboring buildings. She said the Cooper Square Committee has been on the case, and that, even worse, the HVAC structure is blocking a fire escape ladder. She said they’ve asked the Fire Department to do an inspection. And the HVAC problem is more widespread in the district than just 7-Eleven, she added. More to the point, Mendez said, “I miss the mom-and-pop shops that we keep losing.”
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De Blasio destroys Lhota; Vows to take ‘new direction’ DE BLASIO, continued from p. 2
PHOTO BY SAM SPOKONY
the stuff we should be able to read.” Willis Johnson, 75, a former trumpet player, also voted for de Blasio. But he didn’t weigh in on the referendums since he couldn’t read them. At the poll site at Theater for the New City, on First Ave. near 10th St., most voters interviewed said they also ignored the referendum questions. Nora Szilagyi, 47, a freelance video producer, voted for de Blasio and also to reelect City Councilmember Rosie Mendez. “She is our councilwoman and she’s been busy and helpful on the block, except for P.S. 122 on the corner,” she said. The school used to house a daycare center, and Szilagyi charged that Mendez “killed it for an artist space.” There was also a garden next door, which is empty now, 10 years later, she added. Evdokia Sofos, 47, an administrative law judge, also voted at the theater poll site. Asked if any candidate stood out to her, Sofos quickly responded, “Their stances are all what the public wants to hear. They’ll try to pander to everyone, just whitewashing everything. When they get in, everything will remain status quo. I hope I’m wrong.”
Bill de Blasio greeted jubilant supporters as he took the stage to declare victory on Tuesday night.
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Norman Cole, 62, voted for an entirely different reason. “I feel the entire city is going to crap because of the socialists and communists that have taken over the Democratic Party, and I feel it is my duty to throw sand against the tide,” he said. Cole did not reveal his picks. At the Sirovich Senior Center, on E. 12th St. near First Ave., Rudy Peart, 59, who lives and works at the center as a custodian, voted for de Blasio. “I won’t vote for Mr. Lhota,” he said. “He was in charge of the M.T.A. and didn’t want to give unions their due when he was representing them. He’s going to try to try to shortchange any way he can to make himself look good.” David Bassin, a 34-year-old writer living in the East Village was thrilled to fill in the circle for de Blasio. “I’m a huge Bill fan, and I believe in a very progressive agenda for New York,” he said. Bassin showed a photo of himself and de Blasio at his brother’s apartment in Fort Greene, where they held a small fundraiser for the public advocate two months before he surged in the polls. Bassin voted “yes” on the casino ballot measure. “I want casinos because I think it’ll generate jobs and lower property taxes,” he said. “The cost outweighs the benefit.” Additionally, Bassin, who noted he has a law degree, voted against extending judges’ retirement age based on a higher
chance of conservatism with age. “I also believe in the spirit of rotation,” he added. In the West Village, at 505 LaGuardia Place, Karin Cardone, a consultant for business improvement districts and a Republican, said she darkened the oval for Lhota. “New York is a city that can very quickly become unmanageable,” she said. “I remember in the ’80s when you couldn’t walk in Washington Square Park at dusk. I mean, my grandfather was beaten in his store — that was the late ’70s.” Her family used to own the Italian Food Company, on Bleecker St. Councilmember Rosie Mendez said she was telling people to “Vote ‘no’ on 1 and 5,” the casino issue and a measure to allow a mining company to acquire 200 acres of Adirondack parkland Upstate. “People talk about casinos as jobs, and they do bring jobs,” she said. “But we need a diversity of jobs. I think we need to think of other ways of jumpstarting the economy.” Elsewhere, Corey Johnson won election to the City Council in District 3, but G.O.P. District Leader Richard Stewart, who repeatedly told The Villager he actually was endorsing Johnson, won nearly 13 percent of the vote. Stewart did not campaign at all or spend a dime on the “race.” Some speculated that some of the Stewart votes were by supporters of Yetta Kurland, who lost to Johnson in the primary.
Advocates sue to stop NYCHA luxury infill plan Veterans, service members and families, we’re here to help.
A rendering from a NYCHA “discussion document” on what kind of development could occur — in this case, a 500-foot-tall tower (at center right) at Smith Houses — under the infill plan. INFILL, continued from p. 1
the authority’s “infill” land lease plan. The five developments involved in the lawsuit are Smith Houses, on the Lower East Side; Meltzer Tower and Campos Plaza, both in the East Village; and Carver and Washington Houses, both in East Harlem. The new buildings would be so-called “80/20,” 80 percent market rate, 20 percent affordable. In August, NYCHA issued a request for expressions of interest, or R.F.E.I., to garner bids from private developers who want to build within the complexes — in some cases on lots currently used as parks and community gardens. The authority set a deadline of Nov. 18 to receive the bids. The lawsuit claims that NYCHA violated state and federal laws by failing to conduct environmental reviews and floodplain analyses — which determine possibilities for flooding on the planned construction sites — before issuing the R.F.E.I. The suit also claims that the agency violated the public trust doctrine — which dictates that certain resources should be reserved for public use — because it failed to obtain necessary legislative approval before offering leases that would eliminate some parkland within the developments. “Without a proper environmental review process, NYCHA is trying to shoehorn in deals with luxury housing developers before the window closes on the Bloomberg administration,” said Joel Kupferman, director of N.Y.E.L.J.P., at a press conference outside City Hall on Tuesday. “It is especially irresponsible, not to mention unlawful, to rush into a bidding process for large-scale construction at NYCHA developments that are still reeling from Hurricane Sandy’s devastation, and where FEMA’s best available data shows the greatest flood hazards in Lower Manhattan.” Many public housing residents oppose
NYCHA’s land-lease plan, and tenant associations from the five developments in the suit have joined as plaintiffs. “Based on what happened in my development after Sandy, I’m shocked that NYCHA has not thought about the environmental impacts the land-lease program could have on our community,” said Derese Huff, president of the Campos Plaza Tenant Association, at Tuesday’s press conference. The City Council filed a lawsuit against NYCHA over this same plan slightly more than a month ago. However, that suit instead attempted to prove that state law prohibits the leasing of public housing property to market-rate tenants. City Councilmember Margaret Chin was at Tuesday’s press conference to show support for the litigation. “This lawsuit is a further indictment of NYCHA’s failure to meaningfully engage the community in a plan that directly impacts the day-to-day lives residents and their families,” Chin said. “At a time when affordable housing, especially public housing, is diminishing, it is more important than ever for the city to protect what public land we have.” Congressmembers Jerrold Nadler and Nydia Velazquez also back the new lawsuit. In October, NYCHA responded to the Council’s legal action by arguing that its plan — which would grant the private developers 99-year leases — would generate $50 million annually, to be used for much-needed building repairs, among other things. Last week, NYCHA declined to give specific answers to questions about environmental reviews or floodplain analyses. “It’s unfortunate that there is any attempt to block a proposal that would generate significant revenue for the New York City Housing Authority — money that would go directly into developments and capital improvements for NYCHA residents,” an agency spokesperson said.
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Third section and more art on track for High Line BY SAM SPOKONY
PHOTO COURTESY OF FRIENDS OF THE HIGH LINE
hen the High Line’s third section opens in 2014, it will have been 15 years since Joshua David and Robert Hammond — two neighborhood residents — founded the nonprofit group that helped save the old elevated railway and turn it into one of the city’s most popular parks. The Friends of the High Line, which undertakes fundraising and oversees maintenance of the nearly 1.5-mile park, has by all accounts become a model for others across the world who want to successfully operate a modern, engaging and elevated public space. “When we started in 1999, this was very much considered to be an underdog project,” said David, in a phone interview on Nov. 1. “We just had this dream of going all the way from Gansevoort to 34th St. And now that it’s actually going to come true — at first I was thinking that 15 years is a long time — but I realize that it’s actually not so long at all.” And while the High Line’s emergence onto the city landscape has certainly been swift, both the park and the Friends are now transitioning into changes that will define the park’s future as a Downtown icon. Hammond announced in February that he
Jenny Gersten will take over as executive director of the Friends of the High Line in January.
will step down as executive director of the Friends at this year’s end after which David will remain as the organization’s president.
PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE On November 26, 2013 at 10:00 a.m., a public hearing will be held in the City Council Committee Room, 2nd Floor, City Hall, Manhattan, for the purpose of considering a local law, which authorizes an increase in the annual amount to be expended in the Lower East Side Business Improvement District not to exceed $974,600. This increase will be staggered over a five-year period following the construction of new large-scale commercial properties. The following increases are anticipated in each fiscal year: FY15 $445,100, FY16 $474,400, FY17 $513,200, FY18 $561,325, FY19 $974,600.
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In October, it was announced that Jenny Gersten would be the Friends’ new executive director, after her selection by the group’s board of directors. She begins in January. While the High Line has hosted plenty of unique programming since the park’s official opening in 2009 — from public art exhibits to community engagement for teenage and adult residents of Chelsea’s public housing developments — Gersten’s hiring represent a shift toward further emphasis on new programming. Currently, the artistic director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival in the Berkshires, Gersten brings a strong background in theater production, including past work on several Shakespeare in the Park productions in New York. David acknowledged that more diverse programming that focuses on the arts, family activities and niche interests will be a “greater part” of the High Line in years to come. “We knew that programming was something that we really wanted to expand for the future, and that made [Gersten] a great candidate,” said David. “She’s a really wonderful and talented person, and I think this entire community will see how valuable her skills are.” In addition to new opportunities for events, tourists and residents alike will have more park to enjoy next year, when construction on the third section — nicknamed “High Line at the Rail Yards” — is completed. The final piece will not only extend north from W. 30th St. to W. 34th St., linking the West Village to the entirety of West Chelsea, but it will also swing west from 10th Ave. to 12th Ave., bringing visitors right near the waterfront. “It’s a whole new thing for the High Line, which is fantastic, and I think that the connection to the riverfront will make a big difference for people visiting the park,” said David. And once that’s finished, the Friends will be on the cusp of yet another turning point as the Hudson Yards development — which will span the 26-acre space between W. 30th and W. 33rd Sts. and 10th and 12th Aves. — continues its own road to completion. Construction on the mixeduse Hudson Yards site began in 2012, and the first buildings are expected to open in 2015, with the rest of the site to be built on over the next several years. With 13 million square feet of new commercial and residential development, Hudson Yards will undoubtedly have an effect on Manhattan’s entire West Side. “It’s really great for us that the rail yards area — which is a place that people generally had very little awareness of — will become a very dense, multi-use neighborhood,” David said. “And the thing that’ particularly thrilling is the fact that people on the High Line will have a front-row seat to urban transformation.”
It was recently reported that Hudson Yards developer Stephen Ross, chairperson of The Related Companies, plans to spend as much as $75 million on an artwork — not yet designed — that will become the centerpiece of the new development’s four-acre public plaza. Thomas Heatherwick, the British designer, has been selected for the project. The Wall Street Journal reported the space will draw inspiration from Rockefeller Center and Rome’s famous Piazza del Campidoglio. As for art on the High Line itself, park visitors can sign up for walking tours to view sculptures by Brooklyn artist Carol Bove that have been placed along the park’s unfinished third section. Reservations can be made at thehighline.org. Earlier that morning, David had given a particularly emotional walking tour of the High Line to members of the Obletz family — a name that any lover of the park should hold in the highest esteem. Peter Obletz, a former West Chelsea resident and Community Board 4 chairperson, was the passionate train enthusiast who spent more than a decade of his life attempting to save the elevated railroad tracks when they were in danger of being demolished in the 1980s. Obletz unexpectedly swooped in to buy the High Line for $10 in 1984, after its private owner was in the process of abandoning it. While that sale was eventually overturned by a federal judge, and Obletz’s dream was not realized during his life — which ended in 1996, after a battle with cancer — he remains something of a folk hero. “He was the first saint of the High Line,” said David. And on the morning of Nov. 1, the cofounder of the High Line’s current preservation group met with Peter Obletz’s brother, Doug Obletz, who was visiting New York with his family from Portland, Oregon. It was the first time that an Obletz had ever seen the vibrant, pulsing green space that is the High Line of today. More than 15 years after Peter’s death, and three decades since he made that famed purchase, Doug Obletz was able to witness the fruits of his brother’s vision. “It was so moving to show them something that’s basically a continuation of what Peter had done,” said David. “Robert [Hammond] and I have stayed in touch with his family ever since we started in 1999, but it was incredible to finally be able to share this experience with them. “Plenty of people come to the High Line and think it’s beautiful, but very few of them really understand what it took to do this,” David said. “There have been challenges for all of us along the way. It’s amazing that we’ve made it through them. And it’s a privilege to be one of the people who knows the story of what Peter did. So now we’re going to keep our own story going.”
Small shops already feeling the crunch from 7-Eleven BY PASHA FARMANARA
new 7-Eleven opened on E. 11th St. and Avenue A on Tues., Oct. 31, despite much opposition from East Village residents in the area. Fitting for the
group says they are “taking a stand against the increasing flood of chain stores like 7-Eleven which threaten the free market, damage the local economy and whitewash the character of our communities.” After the convenience store’s opening, the group held a boycott rally on Sun., Nov. 10, with a turnout of about 20 core supporters. “We handed out fliers and spoke with people, the vast majority of whom are sympathetic [to our cause]. It’s like a big support group,” said Paul Parks, a leading member of No 7-Eleven. “Many New Yorkers suffer quietly from chain-store fatigue and are excited and heartened to see a group of citizens bringing attention to their concerns.” Although 7-Eleven is a cheaper alternative to traditional mom-and-pop stores, the majority of local residents The Villager recently polled about the new store agreed with No 7-Eleven. They said they would rather preserve the small businesses in the area than save money. “I think if it was a 24-hour deli that was run by somebody local, I would be much more appreciative. This neighborhood is more about local business, so I would like to see it taken away,” said Jeremy, an East Villager who only gave his first name. Residents have noticed an influx of corporate-owned stores in their neighborhood, and despite their disapproval, are expecting to see this trend to continue. In fact, the 7-Eleven
date, Halloween, the store’s appearance was the realization of many neighbors’ worst fears. Opponents formed the No 7-Eleven campaign, and over the past year, rallied and fought to prevent the store from opening. In their mission statement, the No 7-Eleven
on E. 11th St. and Avenue A is the national chain’s fifth store in the surrounding area. “It changes the ambiance of the East Village,” Brian Appell, a 13-year neighborhood resident, said of the E. 11th St. 7-Eleven. “Next there will be a Starbucks. Everything unique about the East Village is disappearing.” The new store has already put pressure on small businesses in the area. Tompkins Finest Deli is one of the many businesses that are finding it hard to compete with the chain’s low prices. “I don’t like it because they take my customers, my business,” the deli’s manager said of the new 7-Eleven. “They are selling everything for half of my prices — but if people want to do something, there is nothing we can do.” Many feel incapable of stopping chain stores from opening in their neighborhood. Linda Anderson, a shopper at the new 7-Eleven, pointed out that the way to protest the establishment is to avoid it. “I understand they are coming in everywhere,” she said. “Corporate America has taken over. People talk about how they miss old New York and its mom-and-pop shops. But customers have a choice, and the only way we can talk is with our pocketbooks.” Currently, the No 7-Eleven coalition plans on growing their social media presence, and also intends to hold a community meeting to discuss the future of chains and franchises in the East Village.
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Monumental battle in Nolita over fate of garden site NOLITA, continued from p. 1
PHOTO BY DON MATHISEN
project, a mixed-use development at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge. SPURA will include 1,000 housing units, of which 500 will be permanently affordable for residents earning 30 percent of area median income, which for New York City is $90,000. While recognizing the need for affordable housing, the project’s opponents want to preserve the site as a permanent public green space, for their well-being and that of their children. They reminded those at the hearing that Little Italy and Soho have one of the lowest ratios citywide for park space — .07 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents — and that in a sea of concrete, the soft touch of grass is crucial to for local kids growing up in the neighborhood. The Elizabeth St. site was a blighted lot until 1991, when it was transformed into a sculpture garden by Allan Reiver, owner of the adjacent Elizabeth Street Gallery. Reiver denied charges that the garden was not open to the public until news got out in June about the city’s housing plans. He said that due to insurance concerns about some of the valuable artwork on display at the site, access has been through his gallery since 2005. However, since news of the housing plan got around in June, local volunteers have helped make the garden increasingly accessible to the public. One speaker at Monday’s hearing remarked that a person could not “stand in that garden for one hour and think that it ought to be a building.” An online petition has garnered nearly 800 signatures since June, and a recent October “Harvest Festival” brought an estimated 1,500 residents to the garden. City Councilmember Margaret Chin attended the hearing and later expressed hope for a compromise on the issue. She said she “would love to see” a mixed use for the site — affordable housing with additional on-site space accessible to the public. She said while nothing is set in stone at this early stage, the units will probably be affordable for applicants at 30 to 40 percent, and even up to 80 percent of median area income. Although a city planner from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which will oversee the project, kickstarted the meeting’s discussion with an overview on affordable housing and possible designs for the site, the proposal is in its preliminary stages and neither a design nor a developer have been chosen. Because the site is in the Little Italy Special District, there is a height cap of 75 feet, equal to about seven stories, for new construction.
Differing from most community gardens, the Elizabeth St. Garden is chock full of large-scale ornaments.
When asked why local residents can’t instead just use other green spaces, like Tompkins Square Park, Aaron Booher, an architect and member of the Elizabeth Street Garden Committee, said the Nolita garden must be preserved because other green spaces are too far away. While most of the roughly 200 people at the meeting raucously expressed their disapproval of the housing plan, not everyone wanted the garden preserved. Debbie Gonzalez said she admired the Elizabeth St. lot, but only learned it was open to the public in June. She was dismayed when she heard some opponents at
the meeting voice fears the project would bring low-income residents into the neighborhood and drive property prices down. K Webster said that many who want to preserve the Elizabeth St. site as green space were “well-heeled” and so didn’t need affordable housing. But many elderly in the neighborhood live in walk-ups, she added, so new housing is more sorely needed than open space. She added that if she can use other green spaces farther afield, like Tompkins Square Park, the project’s opponents can, too. Tobi Bergman, chairperson of the C.B. 2 Land Use Committee, said afterward, “I was surprised that the community spoke out in such a unified voice. Fifty-three people, all nearby residents, spoke with passion for preserving the garden. The only people who spoke in favor of affordable housing were one resident who needs a bigger apartment for his family, his grandmother and two community organizers who live in Community Board 3. It was very persuasive.”
November 14, 2013
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Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN
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November 14, 2013
Boehner’s ENDA end around EDITORIAL
hen the U.S. Senate last week, in a 62-34 bipartisan vote, approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the achievement was noteworthy primarily for one reason –– it was the first time either house of Congress had approved such a measure with protections for transgender Americans included. The House passed the bill in 2007, but incorporated only provisions regarding sexual orientation, not gender identity as well. The Senate action likely does not foretell ultimate victory on this measure, which would remedy the failure of 29 states to provide any gay rights protections and 33, including New York, to offer relief to the transgender community. That’s because even before the bill got its final vote on the Senate floor, Republican House Speaker John Boehner put out the word that it would lead to “frivolous litigation” that would kill “small-business jobs.” Ten G.O.P.
senators saw through that reflexive type of response, but Boehner, as usual, is playing to the far right in his House caucus. If the House Republicans are unwilling to stanch their losses among Latino voters by taking on immigration reform, it’s probably not surprising they can’t see how increasingly out of step with the American public they are on L.G.B.T. rights as well. The unlikelihood of ENDA’s enactment in the current Congress should be seized on by the L.G.B.T. community to right a wrong in the bill passed by the Senate –– its craven surrender to the religious right on the question of religious exemptions. The 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination in areas like housing and public accommodation as well as employment, made use of the concept of religious exemptions to allow religious organizations to base decisions such as their hiring on religion. A Catholic parish could show a preference for hiring Catholics; a mosque could staff itself with Islamic adherents. What such institutions could generally not do is base employment
decisions on other proscribed categories. A synagogue was not free to use racial tests in hiring, for example. At the same time, the Catholic Church, of course, is free to limit its choice of priests by gender. Using a religious exemption to practice discrimination otherwise outlawed could be justified only by showing a close and reasonable nexus between the discrimination and the religious tenet being protected. As gay rights protections matured, the concept of religious exemptions began to be stretched further in that same direction –– based on the widespread belief, even among liberal friends of the L.G.B.T. community, that religious objections to homosexuality typically have more validity than any religiously based objection to a person’s race or gender. Like women, a gay man’s status is seen per se as incompatible with service as a priest –– or as a clergy member in many faiths. Gay people, furthermore, could be excluded not only from the role of clergy but also from many other activities within a religious organization. Where the L.G.B.T. community has generally been successful in
drawing the line has been on the question of public accommodations. While a church or parish house can limit employment, a Catholic hospital, university or social service agency that provides its services more generally to the public at large can typically not discriminate under most state and local L.G.B.T. rights laws. That same protection is not afforded by ENDA. Defenders of the religious exemption language in the bill adopted by the Senate argue they have simply “cut and pasted” the language from the 1964 Civil Rights Act. What that means, however, is that a religious organization’s ability to differentiate employees based on their religion is now extended to their sexual orientation and gender identity as well. It’s unfortunate that leading L.G.B.T. legal advocacy groups, who recognize the danger here, have elected to hold their fire, hoping to amend the bill after a new Congress takes office in 2015. A longer version of this editorial first appeared in Gay City News, The Villager’s sister newspaper
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Kudos to Stringer and Dwellers
Dwellers are doing a good job
that doesn’t pander to the bar owners.
To The Editor: Re “Stringer asks C.B. 3 to ‘reconsider’ ban of LES Dwellers group” (news article, Oct. 24): Stringer should be applauded for calling into question Community Board 3’s suspension of a very legitimate community group called the LES Dwellers. That group is only trying to defend its neighborhood from the effect of an onslaught of liquor licenses coming to the Lower East Side. Like the L.E.S., other Downtown areas, like the Meatpacking District and Petrosino Square, are turning into a living hell for residents due to the rowdy crowds and terrible traffic brought on by the increasing number of late-night / early-morning venues with liquor licenses. Groups like the LES Dwellers are doing a public service for locals in the area now unfortunately called Hell Square.
To The Editor: Re “Stringer asks C.B. 3 to ‘reconsider’ ban of LES Dwellers group” (news article, Oct. 24): How do I sign up for LES Dwellers? As a longtime resident of the East Village, I can attest to the inordinate amount of noise on weekends until 4 a.m. and the vandalism that ensues. We need fewer bars and new community board leadership
Bonnie Rosenstock E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to email@example.com or fax to 212229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 515 Canal St., Suite 1C, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.
Elaine Young Young is a member, Community Board 2, and former member, C.B. 2 Executive Committee
Bill de Blasio plans to reshape the landscape.
What I was doing the day John F. Kennedy was shot NOTEBOOK BY CAROL GREITZER
ifty years. Hard to believe. Like most people, I can easily remember many of the terrible events of that day, possibly because other happenings that very same day were so meaningful to me and to other Villagers. It was a day that started out so beautifully, and ended so tragically. I thought about these events a few weeks ago when, at the Museum of Modern Art, I ran into Barbara Fisher, an artist who used to llve in the Village. It must have been 40 years or more since we last saw each other, and as we reminisced about artists housing, I recalled the important milestone that took place the morning of the Kennedy assassination. To go back to the beginning — it all started when West Villager Ann Lye, a real estate broker who was also the wife of a noted artist, Len Lye, discovered two loft buildings at 12th and Greenwich Sts. that were up for auction. The city had taken possession because of nonpayment of local taxes and there was still a federal tax lien. The premises contained some artist studios, but only two AIR’s (artists in residence) could live there legally because the buildings were zoned for manufacturing. Ann convinced several Village activists that artists should be able to live legally in their studios, and felt that these two buildings were architecturally suitable to become a pilot project — if we could get the city to go along. So was formed the Committee for Artists Housing. In addition to Ann and myself, members included Marty Berger, Tony Dapolito, Bob Jacobs, Wally Popolizio, Pierre Tonachel, Carey Venema, Rachelle Wall and Ruth Wittenberg. Artist Ruth Richards became our liaison to the artistis community. We reached out to Jack Kaplan (of the Kaplan Fund) who generously lent us seed money and paid off the $47,000 federal tax lien. Mayor Wagner agreed to forgive the city taxes and structured the auction so that the property could be sold only to a nonprofit group committed to providing facilities for artists. Thus we came to the morning of November 22, 1963, date of our first sit-down with Buildings Department commissioners and other officials to discuss steps that had to be taken to make the premises acceptable as living spaces. We met at the Tribeca office of Max Lehman, the city administrator, an office that does not seem to exist today. Everything went smoothly; the agencies were cooperative, and I left in an ebullient mood, emerging into the brilliant sunshine. It was a gorgeous, warm day, unusual for late November, and I decided to walk home. (Interesting that years later, 9/11 occurred on a similar day of brilliant sunshine shining
President John F. Kennedy in a White House photo portrait.
down on the dazed people walking up Sixth Ave. from Lower Manhattan.) When I arrived home, the first thing I did was phone Mary Nichols of the Village Voice to tell her about the meeting. Mary was holed up in a local hotel (I think the Albert) to work on an article away from the distractions of her family. And that’s how I learned that the president had been shot. Mary knew that much. But there was no radio or TV in her room and she was unable to get an outside phone line, so she couldn’t find out what was happening. I turned on my radio (I didn’t own a TV then), and held it close to the phone. Mary and I listened together to the news accounts, talked about the ramifications, and probably shed a few tears when the end was finally announced about half an hour later. No Walter Cronkite in that radio coverage… though I have often, in recent years, seen rebroadcasts of his effort to control his emotions
Elation over an affordable housing deal is followed by the tragic news of the assassination of the United States’ 35th president. as he announced the sad news. Odd that in my long walk from below Canal St. to 12th St. I got no inkling of this tragedy. The rest of the day — even the next few days — are much less vivid in memory — a blur of shocked reactions to subsequent events and speculation about the new president.
As for the artists housing project, the work proceeded. Ann Lye worked with an expediter to move things through the Buildings Department. The two buildings became one, with one bank of elevators being converted to bathrooms, and 799 Greenwich St. was on its way. A major hurdle was overcome when Assemblyman Jerry Kretchmer sponsored an amendment to the Multiple Dwelling Code to allow artist occupancy in “M” (manufacturing) zones. Our pilot project created just 12 residential units, but we paved the way for later larger residential conversions at Westbeth and Soho. A few words about Ann’s husband, Len Lye. Though not too well known today in this country, Len did innovative film work years ago on then popular “March of Time” newsreels. He is famous today in his native New Zealand for his fascinating and unique kinetic sculpture. It was a privilege to be invited to a “showing” of these motorized works at his West Village studio. I particularly remember a 12- or 15-foot-long piece of sheet metal. When its motor was turned on, it wriggled like a meandering river making metallic clanging noises. Even more memorable was another piece — a circular metal band about 3 feet long that seemed sexually turned on when its motor was activated. The piece undulated sensuously, writhing to the accompaniment of suggestive erotic wails as it slowly turned itself inside out. November 22 invokes sad recollections. I like to remember J.F.K. at happier times. The only time I met him was in September of 1960 when leaders of the Democratic Reform movement, many of whom had supported Adlai Stevenson for president, were invited to meet with the candidate. It was a small suite at the Waldorf crowded with district leaders and the few public officials that reformers had managed to elect at that time. I was there as president of the Village Independent Democrats, which was still an insurgent club and had yet to elect district leaders. While waiting for Kennedy, some of us — mostly women — gathered around Marietta Tree (later the U.S. representative to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights), who had recently returned from filming “The Misfits,” in which she had a small role. Just as she started to give us a firsthand account of what it was like to kiss Clark Gable, our candidate arrived. Kennedy addressed the problem he perceived he had with us head on. “I know I’m not your first choice,” he said, “but I’m all you’ve got…so I hope I’ll have your support.” The charm and charisma were better than kissing Clark Gable. We were converts…and we mourn his loss today. Greitzer was a New York City councilmember from 1969-91, representing the Village and other parts of Downtown. Prior to that she was the Village’s Democratic district co-leader with Ed Koch in the mid-1960s. November 14, 2013
Amid a sea of bleakness, Reed was the inspiration BY STEVEN WISHNIA
PHOTO BY PATRICK SHIELDS
discovered the Velvet Underground’s banana-stickered first album in the $1.49 bin of a Long Island record store when I was 15. All I knew was that they were some kind of East Village underground band from ’67-’68. A misfit in the Island’s centerless carscape, I found solace in music. But the blues-based white rock of the era sounded counterfeit after I heard Muddy Waters, and the old blues didn’t have the crazed electricguitar noise and drive I craved. I found it in the Velvets. It had the sound of the city, the chaos of swerving taxis, the clattering screech of an I.R.T. express train. “Gonna take a walk round Union Square / you never know what you might find there.” It also had a soft side, the bells of “Sunday Morning” three minutes of tentative peace before the onslaught of “I’m Waiting for My Man.” Almost none of my friends liked it. The Velvets and Lou Reed are venerated icons now that New York City is commemorating its punk-and-graffiti ’70s the way Paris flogs its Toulouse-Lautrec 1890s, but they were decidedly unpopular back then. The Velvets’ second album, “White Light / White Heat,” also got remaindered, and their third didn’t even make
Posters of Lou Reed, with his wife, artist Laurie Anderson, appeared on lampposts at Bedford and Downing Sts. the day before Halloween, two days after Reed’s death.
it that far, despite now-classic tunes like “What Goes On,” “Some Kinda Love” and “Pale Blue Eyes.” On the other hand, this was a good thing for a teenager whose musical hunger exceeded his finances. I scored “White Light / White Heat” for $1.99 a few years later. “Sister Ray” was the first song I learned to play on guitar. I wasn’t the only one listening. Joy Division
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November 14, 2013
would later cover “Sister Ray.” Up in Boston, Jonathan Richman with the Modern Lovers twisted its two-chord lick into “Roadrunner.” David Bowie covered “I’m Waiting for My Man,” and the Patti Smith Group opened shows with “We’re Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together,” a Velvets song not released until 1974, four years after they broke up. For the proto-punk generation of musicians and fans, Lou Reed was crucial. The early to mid-’70s were a golden age for R&B, reggae was bubbling up from Jamaica, and hiphop was brewing in the burning Bronx, but it was a pretty dry time for rock ’n’ roll. The music was overwritten and the lyrics dumb, whether cock-rock or mystical. Rockers looking for something better found common ground in the Velvets, the Stooges, the MC5 and the forgotten ’60s garage bands on Lenny Kaye’s “Nuggets” compilation. The New York Dolls gave hope for a while, but foundered in the bogs of commercial failure and drug abuse. Reed, along with Bowie and Mott the Hoople, was what was accessible if you weren’t in with the hip or lucky few catching the nascent scene at CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, or scouring the import bins for Neu, the German band that put a Teutonic clockwork beat on Velvetian grooves. Lou Reed put out a string of brilliant and spotty albums. “Transformer,” in 1972, produced by Bowie, yielded the Top 20 hit “Walk on the Wild Side,” its one-verse vignettes of drag-queen actresses Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling riding a jazzy two-chord bassline. (The “Sugarplum Fairy” character was an old boyfriend of Harvey Milk’s.) He followed that up with the tragic “Berlin.” A 10song cycle depicting a love triangle involving a self-destructively loveseeking woman and her violently jealous bisexual boyfriend, flying and crashing on mountains of amphetamine, it’s arguably the most depressing album ever made. The “Rock ’n’ Roll Animal” live set, recorded at the Academy of Music on 14th St. at the end of ’73, established Reed in the hard-rock mainstream. Aided by Midwestern guitarists Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner, it turned Velvets and “Berlin” songs into concert-rock epics, including a Bach organ interlude in the middle of “Heroin.” The follow-up, “Sally Can’t Dance,” was his most commercially successful album. It included “Kill Your Sons,” based on his experience getting shock treatment when he was 17 — “Every time you tried to read a book / You couldn’t get to page 17” — but much of it was decadencecliché hackwork. “Metal Machine Music,” in 1975, was a double-LP set of feedback he pitched as an avant-garde classical album. Amid the era’s pretensions and cult of technique, Reed posited an intellectual-primitive aesthetic, one of literate lyrics and musical simplicity. He could write a vivid, incisive character sketch or turn a phrase like “between thought and expression,” and blend it with music as
brilliantly simple as Woody Guthrie’s: The Velvets’ version of “Heroin” is a basic D chord answered by the open top strings of the guitar. It set a style and attitude shared by the great New York City rock ’n’ rollers who followed, including Patti Smith, the Dolls and the Ramones. The harshness of Reed’s world also made his happier songs feel more real, more earned, than what was out there in the smiley-face ’70s. “Coney Island Baby,” inspired by the Excellents’ 1962 doo-wop tune, perhaps put it best: But remember that the city is a funny place Something like a circus or a sewer And just remember different people have peculiar tastes And the glory of love might see you through I didn’t follow Reed that much after 1980 or so, but almost every album has songs worth coming back to, like “The Blue Mask,” his collaboration with genius guitarist Robert Quine, or the singing newspaper “New York.” “Songs for Drella,” his and Velvets violist John Cale’s 1990 memorial to Andy Warhol, is one of the rare records that grabbed me the first time I heard it on the radio. Over music that ranged from stately to chaotic, Reed wrote with compassion about the man who had both mentored and slagged him, praising his work ethic and evoking his ultimate loneliness despite the “resentments that can never be unmade.”
His music moved and inspired me and kept me semi-sane, and did the same for a lot of others.
I never met Lou Reed, so I can make no judgment about his personality. Some people say he was charming and warmhearted, others say he was an attitudespewing creep. It would probably be both accurate and euphemistic to say he didn’t suffer fools gladly. Yet even much-canonized musicians like Bob Marley and John Lennon had their dirt and their dark sides. What matters now is that Lou Reed’s music moved and inspired me, helped keep me semi-sane in key parts of my life, and did the same for a lot of others. Wishnia is author of the novel “When the Drumming Stops”; works as a journalist specializing in housing, labor and drug issues; and played bass, guitar and keyboards in the 1980s punk band False Prophets. He currently plays music in artist Mac McGill’s multimedia show.
Lou Reed, 71; Rock poet lived Downtown, backed local causes OBITUARY BY ALBERT AMATEAU
ou Reed, who died Oct. 27 at the age of 71, was recognized as an artist who explored themes of joy as well as death and depravity that he brought to rock ’n’ roll as a songwriter, guitarist and lead singer since 1960. Patti Smith, writing in the New Yorker of Nov. 11, said, “He was our generation’s New York poet, championing its misfits as Whitman championed its workingmen and Lorca its persecuted.” A more skeptical judgment was Richard Goldstein’s Village Voice review of Reed’s Velvet Underground of the 1960s: “An important group pretentious to the point of misery.” The tributes last week included a frontpage obituary in The New York Times and eight pages of articles in the Voice. There were hundreds of messages on Twitter and on YouTube. Reed died in the Amagansett, Long Island, home he shared with his wife, performance artist Laurie Anderson. In April he received a liver transplant in Cleveland but the transplant began to fail and he chose to return home when his medical options ran out. Reed and Anderson also had a home on Greenwich St. for more than 10 years. In 2010 Reed joined his Hudson Square neighbors, including the late James Gandolfini, in opposing the city’s three-district Department of Sanitation garage at Spring and Washington Sts. The city however, prevailed and the garage is nearing completion. Ever the rebel, Reed also supported the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. Louis Allen Reed was born in Brooklyn on March 2, 1941, to a tax accountant father and homemaker mother. The family moved to Freeport, Long Island, when Louis was 11. A precocious and troubled youth, he underwent a week of electroshock therapy at Creedmoor Hospital in Queens when he was 16, purportedly to “cure” him of his bisexuality. He went to New York University but later transferred to Syracuse University, where he became part of a circle around the poet and English professor Delmore Schwartz. Reed, whose poetic and literary references ranged from the modern classicism of Schwartz to the transgressive work of William S. Burroughs, also admired Hugh Selby, author of “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” the mystery writer Raymond Chandler, and the poet Allen Ginsberg, according to the Times obituary by Ben Ratliff.
Lou Reed, right, with his wife, Laurie Anderson, left, and James Gandolfini, center, were among the celebrities at a March 2009 fundraiser to oppose the city’s three-district Sanitation garage in Hudson Square.
Reed was ever ambivalent about Bob Dylan, in turn dismissive and admiring. After graduating, Reed worked as a songwriter for Pickwick International. With John Cale, he was part of the Velvet Underground, a band that played Cafe Bizarre in the Village around 1960. Andy Warhol caught the act there and included them, with the German singer Nico, as the lead act in his traveling show. Around 1970 Reed left the Velvets and began a solo career in which his songs, including “Walk on the Wild Side,” “Sweet Jane,” “Heroin” and “Dirty Boulevard,” chronicled the lives of hustlers, addicts and transgender people. His songs never reached the top of the charts but in the mid-1970s “Walk on the Wild Side” rose into the top 40. Despite the dissonance of albums like “Metal Machine Music,” many of Reed’s songs were simple ballads. “Anyone can play my guitar music,” he said in an interview. “Anyone can learn to play ‘Sweet Jane’ in 10 minutes.” Reed married Bettye Kronstad in 1973 but the marriage did not last long, and Reed and a transvestite known as Rachael kept company for a few years. In 1980 Reed married Sylvia Morales. They also parted, and in 1990 Reed met Anderson, with whom he lived in the West Village and married in 2008. In the New Yorker article, Patti Smith said of Anderson, “She was his mirror. In her eyes you could see his kindness, sincerity and empathy.” Smith said she saw Reed as longing to board “the great big clipper ship” from his lyrics for the song “Heroin.” “I envision it waiting for him beneath the constellation formed by the souls of the poets he so wished to join,” Smith wrote. In addition to Anderson, Toby Reed, Lou Reed’s mother, and Merrill Weiner, his sister, also survive. November 14, 2013
the once-in-a-lifetime convergence of Chanukah and Thanksgiving, The Village Temple and Judson Memorial Church are cohosting the annual Greenwich Village Interfaith Thanksgiving service. Participants from many congregations and faiths will gather for poetry, song and reflection, in the spirit of Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation of October 3, 1863, declaring Thanksgiving a national holiday celebrating “peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.” Festivities begin at 6:30 by the Washington Square Hanukah lamp, with singing led by The Village Temple Children’s choir, followed by services inside Judson Memorial Church at 7. Open to all! For more information: Please contact Sandy Gonzalez Wilson or Sandy Albert at email@example.com and 212-674-2340 ext 5 or ext 6.
Parade was a thriller, with angels and demons After a one-year hiatus after Superstorm Sandy struck days before last year’s Village Halloween Parade, the ghoulish good times returned to Sixth Ave. last Thursday. Also back was the zombified “Thriller” dance.
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November 14, 2013
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New Success Academy settling in near Union Square CHARTER SCHOOL, continued from p. 1
November 14, 2013
PHOTO BY BYRON SMITH
following close behind, the inner workings of three different classrooms were revealed. Zalkind was a kindergarten teacher at Success Academy’s flagship school in Harlem, starting from when it was founded in 2006, and has eight years of teaching experience under her belt. She began teaching in New Orleans, and then landed a position at the Harlem charter, where she was intrigued by the program’s model of education, and later taught third grade. After completing her master’s degree at Columbia Teachers College, Zalkind, 32, was an acting principal for Success Academy Upper West — on the Upper West Side — and Harlem in 2013. In a brightly decorated classroom with six tables, a calendar and alphabet cutout letters on the wall, kindergarten students sat on plush carpeting for guided reading with their teacher, Ms. Crane. The students were all dressed in uniform — girls in plaid jumpers and boys in orange shirts with dark pants. Crane’s classroom is named Syracuse, which is the university where she attended college. Each of the rooms for the five classes at the school, which currently enrolls 125 students total, is assigned the lead teacher’s alma mater as a means of motivation. Zalkind explained that the students are presented with a number story, and the challenge that day involved a boy named Emmanuel, who has 18 apples, but his family ate 11. Students are encouraged to choose their own method to solve the problem of how many apples Emmanuel has left. Periodically Crane reminded her students in a strict tone to, “Sit up nice and tall.” On her command, the class’s students appeared to have grown two inches. When one student stood in front of the class to present her answer to the problem, Crane instructed the class to “Show her love,” and the students quieted down to give her their attention. “We say the problem over and over again because they can’t read it,” Zalkind said. Outside the classroom, a teacher’s assistant was working on visualization techniques with students in rotating small groups to better understand the problem. The next stop was the Vanderbilt room where Ms. Kahle’s class was focused on number stories. Again, the classroom was well-equipped and inviting, with students working in small groups at tables with a timer counting down the minutes projected onto a screen. Zalkind noted that the kindergarten students were working on comprehension of 10 as a unit. A writing workshop on narrative stories was taking place in Mrs. Waldman’s firstgrade Hartford classroom. “We want them to try to communicate something very important to them,” Zalkind said. One student read her story aloud for a visiting reporter about when her baby brother came home from the hospital. Using a checklist, students also revise their own work and
Teacher Jennifer Waldman gives special attention to a first-grade student at Success Academy Union Square.
ish food, and one student was sitting in the corner reading a book. Zalkind noted that the books in the room, at this grade level, were mainly for inspiration, but this student “just felt like reading.” Zalkind, who has not taught in a New York City public high school, was unable to comment on whether there was a difference of curriculum or financial resources between the two school systems. At Success Academy, students have a longer school day that begins with breakfast at 7:15 a.m., classes start a half hour later, and the day ends at 4 p.m. for kindergarten and 4:15 p.m. for first grade. According to Zalkind, the Washington Irving Campus high school students arrive after 8 a.m. At Success Academy, each classroom has a lead teacher and an assistant teacher. “Teachers have a lot of flexibility,” Zalkind explained. Art and sports are taught twice a week, and science daily. There is also exposure to music, which Zalkind makes a priority in her school.
‘I’ve seen a huge turnaround in our son. He’s excited about school and his subjects.’ Monica Thorton add dialogue if necessary. The final classroom on the tour was also named Vanderbilt, with Ms. Macy, another graduate of that school, working with kindergartners and blocks. Classes are 45 minutes, and blocks are allocated for half a class period. “We’re trying to get them to do more collaboration, be creative and work together,” the principal said. Two girls were building a “restaurant” where they were making Span-
“In kindergarten we have to keep them moving, academic or nonacademic,” she added. There are 6,700 students in the Success Academy network of 22 charter schools in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan. Each school is allocated $13,527 per pupil per year in public funding. Powell pointed out that this amount is substantially less than what public schools receive, which is reportedly $18,000 to $19,000 per pupil. Similar to the public school system, students are admitted to the Success Academy Union Square by lottery, with neighborhood residents of Community School District 2 given precedence. “Charter laws require 80 percent of students to live within the district,” Powell said. For the first year, a charter school is run on deficit, with grants from foundations and gifts from private donors to help finance its first three years. There is no capital funding, and a charter school must fundraise to open. “Each elementary school runs about $1.8 CHARTER SCHOOL, continued on p. 17
‘Chartering’ new course in Un. Sq. CHARTER SCHOOL, continued from p. 16
million deficit over three years, which includes start-up costs and salaries,” Powell said. “By the third year, our elementary schools are able to operate solely on public funding.” Currently, charter schools do not pay rent in public schools. During his campaign, Mayorelect Bill de Blasio called for charter schools that can afford it to pay rent in city-operated facilities. Zalkind’s office contains a very large flatscreen television near a round conference table with several ergonomic chairs. When asked where the funding came from for the television, Powell noted that charter schools have flexibility in how they operate. The TV is used for teacher professional development to watch videos to improve their own teaching. Additionally, Powell said, “Principals from all 22 schools and network professionals regularly video-conference to review curriculum and teaching challenges.” Success Academy students are required to wear uniforms, and parents foot the bill — $146 to $231 for boys, and $199 to $238 for girls. Vouchers are also available to families in need. After kindergarten graduation, boys add a tie to their uniform. Girls, no matter what age, are not allowed to wear pants. All students are expected to buy laceless black shoes; girls wear Mary Janes, and boys are allowed Velcro-strap shoes. Student uniforms are a bonus for parent
Randi Bayroff, 43, who lives in Gramercy and works in financial services. In a telephone interview, she expressed her admiration for Success Academy Union Square, where her son Max, 5, attends kindergarten. “That’s another great thing,” she said. “I don’t have to deal with clothes and negotiation in the morning.” According to Bayroff, Max would want to wear shorts and a tank shirt, but since he knows he cannot, it is a nonissue. “Everyone’s on the same playing field,” she noted. As for academics, Bayroff is extremely pleased with Max’s progress. “Six months ago, he couldn’t write more than the three letters of his name,” she said. Now he can write the entire alphabet, spell, and he started reading last week. Bayroff considered Public School 40, on E. 20th St., but she was more impressed with Success Academy Union Square. “Science every day, they have chess,” she said. “And now all he wants for the holidays is a chess set.” Max actually wants to do homework and is excited to go to school in the morning, she said. Bayroff did have reservations about the school’s location, but feels it is “on top” of security. “What’s amazing is the level of communication,” she said. “There are action fliers and I’m constantly in touch with the school.”
In a separate interview, Monica Thorton, a Chelsea resident and a lawyer, spoke about her son’s experience at Success Academy Union Square. Sebastian, age 7, is in first grade after repeating kindergarten twice at two different public schools. “For us, it’s been an absolute savior,” she said. “Short of us not having a just fantastic experience, we were going to have to move.” She and her husband were not happy with what they found in traditional public schools, which Thorton dubbed as “a complete disaster for us.” They decided to give Success Academy a shot, figuring it could not be worse than what they had previously endured. “We’ve been blown away,” she said. “It’s a much superior experience. The teachers are stronger, the commitment is stronger, and the efficiency and effectiveness of the school is noticeable.” Thorton admits the school’s administrative side is different, and is conducted in a “strict and stern way,” but she also finds it “kind and thoughtful.” Sebastian has improved academically the past three months. “He’s gone from the bottom to being at the top,” his mom said. She feels the students at Success Academy are challenged, and the students feel that everyone knows their name. “I’ve seen a huge turnaround in our son,” she said. “He’s excited about school and his subjects. He gets up himself and wants to go to school to the next day. For us, that’s worth a lot.” Thorton does have concerns about security,
and noted there was a breach that day. A followup e-mail with Powell on Wednesday explained that a man was arrested after entering the massive building through a delivery entrance, and the incident is under investigation. Success Academy has done well on New York State tests, with a pass rate of 82 percent in math and 58 percent in English in 2013. Smaller class size, better resources and teachers receiving more support may be the secret behind the equation. Eventually, the school will grow to 500 students in grades K to 4. It will be linked to a middle school at another, yet-to-be-determined location. Co-location of charter schools in existing public school buildings continues to be a hotly debated issue. This April, Gregg Lundahl, Washington Irving High School’s veteran union chapter leader, speaking to The Villager, said of Success Academy Union Square, “I anticipate that the charter school will be entirely barricaded from the other schools.” “We believe that she [Moskowitz] will want to expand into the first floor,” Lundahl predicted then. They definitely wouldn’t be rolling out the welcome mat for Moskowitz and Co., he added. “Eva will not find co-locating at Washington Irving comfortable,” Lundahl vowed. “We are dead set against her due to her legacy of not playing fair with space.” Lundahl did not respond to a request for comment for this article.
The Trinity Youth Chorus Presents
Friday, November 22, 6pm Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall Street The composer Benjamin Britten is renowned for his works involving young people. This all-Britten program includes The Golden Vanity, Missa Brevis, Friday Afternoons (used in the recently released film Moonrise Kingdom), and The Children’s Crusade. Melissa Attebury, conductor.
Free and open to all. trinitywallstreet.org 212.602.0800
an Episcopal parish in the city of New York
November 14, 2013
POLICE BLOTTER Gunman gets 22 years
Police sketch of Mulberry St. rape suspect.
Rapist got in by fire escape
Police are hunting for a man who allegedly raped a woman on Mulberry St. in her Little Italy home early on Mon., Nov. 11, as the woman’s 7-year-old daughter was sleeping alongside her. The woman, 42, told cops that the unknown man entered through the fire escape window of her Mulberry St. apartment around 3:30 a.m., threatened her with a knife and told her to be silent, then raped her in her bed. The child, who was beside her the whole time, was not injured, police said. The alleged rapist then reportedly left through the woman’s front door and fled before police arrived on the scene. The woman was taken to an undisclosed local hospital following the attack. Police released a sketch of the suspect, above.
Shot dead in Smith Houses
An unknown gunman shot and killed a man early on Nov. 10 at Smith Houses on the Lower East Side. George Taliferro, 30, a Smith Houses resident, was found by authorities around 4:15 a.m. on the ground outside 15 St. James Place, unconscious and with three bullet wounds in his torso. Police had responded to the scene moments after the gunshots were fired and a witness called 911. Taliferro was taken to New York Downtown Hospital and pronounced dead on arrival, police said. There have been no arrests made yet, and the investigation is still ongoing, police said.
November 14, 2013
A man convicted of shooting and wounding three people on the Lower East Side in 2010 has been sentenced to 22 years in prison, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced on Nov. 7. Mario Rodriguez, 25, was found guilty of second-degree attempted murder, firstdegree assault, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment in May. Around 8:45 p.m. on Oct. 26, 2010, Rodriguez was arguing with another man in front of 195 Stanton St. when Rodriguez pulled out a 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol and began firing at him, according to court documents. The man was shot in the torso, and two bystanders — a man, 44, and a woman, 52 — were also struck by Rodriguez’s bullets, the D.A. said. After the attack Rodriguez fled to Jersey City, but he was later arrested there by members of the New York Police Department’s Seventh Precinct Detective Squad. In addition to the prison sentence, Rodriguez will face five years of postrelease supervision, the D.A. said.
A surveillance camera image provided by police of the alleged suspects in an attempted robbery at the Jane Hotel.
Jane clerk pistol-whipped
On Sat., Nov. 9, at about 4:40 a.m., four suspects entered the Jane Hotel, at 113 Jane St., wearing hooded clothing, when one of them brandished a firearm and demanded money from the desk clerk. Another employee was struck in the head with a firearm by the man with the gun while the other three suspects grabbed him and demanded that he get them money from the back office. The suspects fled the location without any money. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the N.Y.P.D.’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. Tips can also be submitted at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting to 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. All calls are confidential.
Glass smasher, cop basher
Police arrested Daniel Engler, 22, on the night of Fri., Nov. 8, after he allegedly smashed a Meatpacking District bar’s glass door and then attacked officers as they apprehended him. An employee of The Chester, at 18 Ninth Ave., told cops that Engler walked in around 10:30 p.m., ordered numerous drinks and then sat down with a group of unidentified people near the back of the establishment. Minutes later, Engler reportedly got up, drunkenly walked to the glass front door and shattered it with a punch. The employee tried to stop him and quickly flagged down a police car, but Engler continued to fight once the officers approached, hitting one of them hard enough to send him to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries. Once he was subdued, Engler was charged with assaulting a police officer, criminal mischief and resisting arrest.
Police arrested John Brickman, Jr., 23, early on Nov. 5 after he allegedly punched an officer in the face. A Sixth Precinct source said that Brickman, Jr. was a car passenger who suffered very minor injuries in a three-vehicle accident on Fifth Ave., between 13th and 14th Sts., around 1:30 a.m. Brickman, Jr. was reportedly loaded into an ambulance at the scene, but when a police officer opened the emergency vehicle’s back door to check on him, Brickman, Jr. allegedly socked the cop right in the nose. As officers tried to handcuff him, Brickman, Jr. continued to resist until he was eventually subdued, police said. It was unclear why Brickman, Jr. chose to attack the cop. He was charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.
Police are seeking up to four individuals in a robbery pattern consisting of seven robberies of jewelry stores in Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn, always striking in the afternoon or early evenings. According to police, one suspect enters the location armed with a handgun and two to three additional suspects jump over the counter and remove jewelry. No injuries have been reported. On Sept. 10, at 4:15 p.m., the robbers struck at 169 Canal St.
They hit 66 East Broadway on successive days, first on Oct. 17 at 6:35 p.m., then on Oct. 18 at 4:30 p.m. The suspects are described as male Hispanics.
A surveillance camera image of the gunman in the jewelry-store robbery pattern, according to police.
Police arrested Rebecca Pierre-Louis, 18, a week after she allegedly racked up nearly $400 in unauthorized purchases on a co-worker’s debit card. Pierre-Louis’s co-worker at the C.V.S. at 360 Washington Place told police that he gave her the card on the afternoon of Nov. 2 so she could buy him lunch during her shift break. Two days later, the man realized that his card had also been used to buy a MetroCard and various items at Bloomingdales and other fashion stores. The angry co-worker reported the alleged crime immediately after recognizing the bogus charges, and police tracked PierreLouis down and apprehended her on Nov. 8. She was charged with grand larceny.
Hit owner with skateboard
Police say that on Fri., Nov. 8, at about 5:35 p.m., four suspects entered Eastern Supermarket, at 335 Grand St., removed merchandise and attempted to exit without paying. The storeowner, 50, approached the group and was struck in the face with a skateboard. Police said he was injured, and was treated New York Downtown Hospital, and subsequently released. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the N.Y.P.D.’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. Tips can also be submitted at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting to 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. All calls are confidential.
Sam Spokony and Lincoln Anderson
The new black box has global reach La MaMa’s CultureHub uses tech to connect cultures
FESTIVAL PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
REFEST A CultureHub presentation November 29 through December 1 At 47 Great Jones St., 3rd Floor (btw. Bowery & Lafayette For tickets & schedule, visit culturehub.org
Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, will be at REFEST to present work he’s been developing with the Seoul Institute.
BY TOM TENNEY
n 1961, Ellen Stewart revolutionized the New York performance scene when she opened Café La MaMa in the basement of an East Ninth Street tenement. The African-American fashion designer-cum-impresario imagined the new space as an alternative to popular OffOff Broadway venues like Caffe Cino and the Gaslight — small spaces that were relics of, and still very much associated with, the Beat coffeehouse scene. Those early venues had been created with a particular ambience and with a specific audience in mind. Stewart’s innovation was to create a truly neutral performance venue to serve as a tabula rasa for emerging playwrights, allowing them to create new work on their own terms. La MaMa was truly a “black box” — a theatrical architecture that inspired future generations of underground performance, and spawned what might be called a microtheatre movement in the East Village and the Lower East Side that continues to this day. But the black box wasn’t the only experimental innovation happening in the 1960s New York art world. Early in that decade, ideas driving the convergence of art with cybernetic and computer technology, being con-
ducted in Europe by Roy Ascott and others, reached the United States. In 1966, American composer and sound-art pioneer Max Neuhaus teamed up with NYC radio station WBAI to create “Public Supply” — an experiment in twoway aural public space in which listeners could contribute to a composition in real time by phoning in to the station and having their voices electronically transformed into components of a musical composition. The project is considered be one of the first successful artistic collaborations over an electronic network in real time. The very same year, renowned abstract expressionist Robert Rauchenberg met an engineer from Bell Telephone Lab named Billy Klüver. Together, they launched Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), with the aim of connecting artists and technologists to launch experimental explorations into the intersection of art and technology. Meanwhile, Ellen Stewart was connecting La MaMa with theatrical communities around the world, and building a global circuit of independent theatrical practitioners. Networking, collaboration and technology were all emerging into the cultural zeitgeist — blending, morphing and generating new art forms and schools of thought. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that in 2009 La MaMa launched CultureHub — its own art and technology in-
cubator, in partnership with Korea’s Seoul Institute of the Arts. The collaboration is dedicated not only to blending technology with performance, but also to using tech as a tool to continue the theatre’s long tradition of connecting cultures around the world. The new laboratory’s stated mission is to provide “a shared space for artists to collaborate, share ideas and create interdisciplinary works of art that explore emerging mediums and technologies.” For the past four years, they have been doing just that. In addition to presenting art/tech hybrids in their wired black box studio on Great Jones Street, CultureHub is equally invested in youth media and educational initiatives, conducting workshops for students, teens and young artists. Virtualab, one of their flagship programs, is dedicated to connecting students and professional artists via distance learning. One of the core technologies utilized by CultureHub specifically for this purpose is something called telepresence, which might be thought of as a hyper-customized version of teleconferencing. As opposed to participants sitting around a table and projecting to a single screen, telepresence uses live video to build virtual environCULTUREHUB, continued on p. 21
November 14, 2013
Just Do Art PENNY JONES & CO. PUPPETS: MOTHER GOOSE TALES
HERE’s 2013-2014 season opens with this ambitious fusion of experimental music, visual installation and live performance by composer, director and designer Joe Diebes — who will mix sound for his “broken word opera” live on stage throughout the show. Described as “more of a processing system than a traditional score,” the action in “Botch” unfolds as the audience watches the libretto scroll on a telepromopter whose stream-ofconsciousness content flows from text written by the ensemble. That text will change each night, as the cast of four become improvisational code writers — cutting, pasting, reversing and generally pulverize language, all in the service of exploring “the voice and its mutations in contemporary digital culture.” Hand signals, and a chalkboard diagram created on the floor in close proximity to the audience, put additional layers of human touch onto this exploration of electronic multitasking — a state, say the creators, where “sending and receiving messages trumps all else.” Through Nov. 23. Tues-Sat. at 7pm (no performance Nov. 21, additional performances Nov. 22 at 10:30pm & Nov. 23 at 7pm). At HERE (145 Sixth Ave., just below Spring St.). For tickets ($20), call 212-352-3101, visit here.org or the Box Office (5pm until curtain on show days).
No storm is super enough to pull the strings of Penny Jones and Co. Puppets. “When our season was hitting its stride,” recalls Jones, “We got nine feet of water in the basement, no electricity, heat, water, elevator, stove, telephone, Internet, laundry. We had to cancel all 2012 shows after Sandy. Our performing space here [at Westbeth] was being used for informational tenant meetings.” Services returned gradually, and kind words poured in almost immediately. “We need you guys performing again,” read a typical email. Like their Village host space, Jones and Co. bounced back — and on November 24, they’ll be back at Westbeth, with the same sort of stories, songs, games and audience participation that won the company’s Early Childhood Puppet Theatre a Jim Henson Foundation Family Grant. Stage managed by Mother Goose’s dog Toby, Penny’s cast of handmade puppets will tell the tales of The Three Bears, The Three Bill Goats Gruff and Little Red Riding Hood — with a few silly Mother Goose rhymes thrown into the fast and funny mix. Sun., Nov. 24, at 11am & 3pm. At the Westbeth Community Room (155 Bank St., btw. Washington & West Sts.). Admission: $5. For more info, visit pennypuppets.org or call 212-924-0525.
Westbeth hosts three tales, twice told by Penny’s Puppets (11am & 3pm, Nov. 24).
PHOTO BY STEVEN SCHREIBER
BOTCH: A BROKEN WORD OPERA PHOTO COURTESY OF PENNY & THE PUPPETS
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
TROBADORS: A SYMPOSIUM ON OCCITAN POETRY Tribeca’s 50,000-volume-strong literary center — Poets House — has partnered with the NYC cultural heritage non-profit City Lore and the NYC/France artistic collaborative NY’OC Trobadors for this landmark symposium. Poets, artists and scholars will share their perspectives on the history of Occitania (a region encompassing the southern half of France, the Occitan Valleys in the Italian Alps and the Aran Valley in the Spanish Pyrenees). Performers bring musical life to the “lyrical, secular, and often subversive verse-commentary on the culture, politics, and love affairs” of the region’s 11th century trobadors and trobairitz – whose influence can be traced to contemporary American artists such as Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. It’s not all words and music, though. An overview of Occitan cuisine will be provided, in a reservation-only Gacon Buffet created by foodie favorite Ariane Daguin (owner of D’Artagnan). That dinner is preceded
November 14, 2013
John Rose and Christina Campanella in “BOTCH: A Broken Word Opera” — at HERE, through Nov. 23.
by 2pm’s “Topologies of Occitan Language & Culture” and 4:30pm’s “Occitan Literature Through the Ages.” The evening culminates in a music and poetry performance featuring bicontinental artists Joan Francés Tisnèr, Jakes Aymonino, Domenja Lekuona, Pierre Joris and Nicole Peyrafitte. Sat., Nov. 23, from 2-9pm. At Poets House (10 River Terrace, at Murray St.). For tickets ($10, $7 for students/seniors), visit poetshouse.org. Reservations for the 5:30-7pm dinner ($25, includes evening performance) are required. Contact Joe at 212-431-7920 x12832 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit citylore.org.
Transforming the black box for the new century CUTLUREHUB, continued from p. 19
PHOTO BY EVE COMPERIATI, COURTESY OF CULTUREHUB
ments, utilizing multi-camera viewpoints and projecting video to an entire wall, creating an atmosphere of virtual “liveness.” CultureHub Artistic Director Billy Clark says that by incorporating this technology on a larger scale and using multiple cameras, you can “get to a certain level of abstractly feeling like you’re there.” CultureHub has already implemented this technology for several projects, including workshops conducted with students at their partner organization in Korea, and a virtual spoken word workshop connecting youth from New Orleans and New York City in collaboration with the Hip Hop Re:Education Project (reeducate.org). The latter experiment was so successful that, after the workshop, the students in Louisiana raised their own money to travel to New York to meet their “classmates” in person. “It’s never going to be entirely like being physically present,” said CultureHub Managing Director Anna Hayman, “but you do make eye contact, you do hear people breathe.” She also pointed out that the technology seems to increase the engagement of its participants, particularly kids. “They feel like they’re being treated to something special. It’s actually more engaging than a conventional classroom where they’re just sitting there. Kids forge real relationships in that environment.” Though the young organization represents an exciting new direction for La MaMa, CultureHub recognizes its place in a continuum of artists working with technology — and acknowledges that, while the work they create and support is innovative, it also builds on decades of experimentation by prior artists. Clark concurs noting, “The ideas aren’t that new. Nam Jun Paik was doing this in the late 70s and early 80s. But now the technology is more ubiquitous, it’s cheaper. High-speed Internet is on all the time.” That ubiquity has necessitated a cultural space for artists — some of whom have never used technology in their work — to begin experimenting with tech in a low-risk environment. “We’re trying to support artists in their very early stages of development,” Clark said. “We want to give them a space where they have access to technology and can just try something, like a sketch. Some might get developed, and others end up as more of a one-off. It’s a learning experience.” Having worked on a project-to-project basis since its inception, CultureHub is borrowing a page from the theatrical establishment by launching its first-ever “season” of technologically based works (running until the end of the year). The centerpiece of that
From 2012’s REFEST: Joshue Ott, Baba Israel and Neel Murgai perform “AudioVisual Meditations.”
season is REFEST — a three-day festival of mediated performance, interactive installations and talks taking place from November 29-December 1, at CultureHub’s Great Jones Street studio. REFEST kicks off on Friday night with an evening of performance curated in collaboration with the annual RE/Mixed Media Festival (which returns in April 2014 at The New School). In addition to performances by Adriano Clemente and David Commander, Friday’s kickoff event will feature a piece called the “Long Table” — a discursive art form pioneered by performance artist Lois Weaver that begins with eight artists seated at a table discussing a topic provided by the curators. As the conversation progresses, audience members are invited to come to the table and add their voice to the discussion, and may even ask for one of the participant’s seats if the table happens to be full. Saturday and Sunday will continue with work by, Culture Hub says in a press release, revealing “how new technologies are changing performance practices, how networked screens and communications technologies are changing the way artists collaborate and create, what the exhibition/ performance venue of tomorrow might look like, and how the nature of storytell-
ing is becoming cross-media, multi-modal, and multi-locational.” Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, will also be on hand to present work he’s been developing with the Seoul Institute which, according to Hayman, will involve “new hardware and software and have a performative element.” The partnership with RE/Mixed Media Festival in curating the first night of REFEST is demonstrative of the collaborative ethos that CultureHub has inherited from La MaMa. “So often in the not-forprofit world, you’re forced to have your head down,” Clark said, “you don’t have enough resources, you’re always too busy, you’re trying to scramble. But a lot of us are scrambling in the same direction, without taking the time to look up and say ‘Hey, they’re doing something similar. What if we worked together?’ We certainly can’t solve that whole problem, but the spirit is one of collaboration.” In recent years, New York’s micro-theatre movement activated by Ellen Stewart’s “black box” has foundered in the wake higher rents and aggressive real estate development. Several storefront theaters that flourished in the Lower East Side in the 90s — Surf Reality, Todo Con Nada and Collective Unconscious, to name just a few — have disappeared. But the loss of
physical space doesn’t necessarily mean that those artists have stopped working. Surf Reality has resurfaced as a producing entity that dabbles in the technological, and Collective Unconscious recently collaborated with Three Legged Dog to produce a 3D cinematic adaptation of their 1999 theatrical experiment, “Charlie Victor Romeo,” a film that was lauded at Sundance and other festivals throughout the country. Other organizations exploring the intersection of art and technology such as Eyebeam and IMC Lab + Gallery have developed performative works with independent artists. Perhaps for the performance community, the current circumstance isn’t one of loss, but one of transition — one that may require we revisit the ideals of community and collaboration embraced by Ellen Stewart. CultureHub claims they are “transforming the black box for the new century.” Their MaMa would be proud. Tom Tenney is a performer, producer, sound artist and founder of the annual RE/Mixed Media Festival in Manhattan (remixnyc.com). He currently teaches media theory at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. Follow him on Twitter at @tomtenney, or follow his blog at inc.ongruo.us. November 14, 2013
Easy on the Ears Storytelling is a perfect marriage to the podcast world BY OPHIRA EISENBERG
November 14, 2013
“Soundtrack Series” host Dana Rossi has built a show around musical memories.
PHOTO BY SPENCER RITENOUR
PHOTO BY D. ROBERT WOLCHECK
en years ago when my friend told me that I should listen to his podcast, I have to admit I was pretty skeptical about the entire medium. I remember saying, “So let me get this straight — you plugged a microphone into your computer and talked about what was on your mind for an hour? And you’ve put that out in the world for people to download and enjoy?” I just couldn’t wrap my head around why anyone would be interested in listening to an uncurated, self-produced, un-regulated, zero-budget Internet “radio show.” Was podcasting the new blogging for people too lazy to write? Would it become the most narcissistic Internet endeavor yet? And, yes, this is coming from me — someone who has written a memoir. Thankfully, I was wrong on many counts. Sure, there are plenty of podcasts out there that are exactly as I described. But what I didn’t understand then (and I am incredibly grateful for now), is that the advent of podcasts basically revitalized audio entertainment on every level. It helped stand-up comedy tremendously, even made people’s careers. It brought back the longform interview format, made room for the buddy banter show and definitely popularized storytelling. As a genre, storytelling is a perfect marriage to the podcast world. At its core, it’s a one-to-one relationship. Many people are already subscribers to the popular Moth podcast — and if you want to feel good about humanity, go to iTunes and read the reviews. It’s hosted by the dry and very funny Dan Kennedy — and if you haven’t read his latest novel, “American Spirit,” now you know what to do over the holidays. The Moth stories are culled from live Slams and Mainstages across the country and the world (look for the Melbourne Writer’s Festival show), all of which are recorded beautifully and make you feel like you are right in that room. Known for stories that will break your heart and make you laugh out loud, I listen to this podcast occasionally while going through my day. But it’s so affecting, I’ll find myself paralyzed in the middle of a CVS, completely entranced in someone’s tale, unable to make it to the cashier until it’s over. Kevin Allison’s “RISK” is another storytelling podcast that has millions of
listeners throughout the country (I know firsthand, from meeting some of them after a show in Portland). Kevin’s been in the comedy and podcast world for many years and draws from a great pool of talent, so you’ll hear stories from a lot of wellknown comedians. Many of the stories are recorded live at his monthly shows, but he also produces some in the studio. The over-arching theme, as the title indicates, is that these stories are almost too risky to tell — a theme that Kevin lives up to with his own material, setting the bar pretty high for the others. I mentioned Ben Lillie’s “Story Collider” show in my last column, and I should point out here that his podcast is gaining prominence (recently hitting a million downloads). “Story Collider” features stories about the science of our lives — and if you haven’t added it to your listening schedule, do it now. Many other storytelling events in the city offer podcast versions of their live show, allowing you to follow the show when you can’t be there in person, take them with you on vacation and, of course, allow those not fortunate enough to live here a taste of what we can go out and witness in person almost any day of the week. Some of the shows are given the classic podcast treatment with intros, extras and behind the scenes commentary, while others simply rebroadcast the live event. I’ll never forget slow dancing with Brad Moore to “Stairway to Heaven” at our seventh grade school dance — and Dana Rossi, host of “Soundtrack Series,” has built a show around such musical memories. Dana herself connects much of her life to different songs, and the “Soundtrack Series” was an experiment to see if others do the same. After a few sold-out shows, it seemed like a crime to NOT podcast people pouring out their hearts about the music that mattered to them so deeply, and nothing sounds more like a perfect audio experience to me than a show that combines music and storytelling. Plus, it draws some amazing influential people, including Ken Caillat — a Grammy-winning producer, who tells the story of making of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors.” “Soundtrack Series” shows happen monthly, at The Gallery at Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker Street). The next show, on November 21 at 7pm, is “The Hip Hop Edition” — guest curated and co-hosted by Dan Charnas, author of “The Big Payback: The History of the Business
Pop culture nostalgia meets storytelling, at “Geeking Out” (host Kerri Doherty, in photo, swoons over Tom Hanks).
of Hip Hop.” Visit soundtrackseries.com. “Ask Me Stories” is a comedy storytelling variety series run by two excellent storytellers in their own right — David Crabb and Cammi Climaco. You might recognize David Crabb as frequent Moth Slam host, and Cammi is a gifted visual artist whose work has been featured in galleries throughout the world. Together, they make a somewhat unlikely but very funny duo, who bounce off of each other effortlessly. They created “Ask Me Stories” for all the right reasons — because they just loved storytelling and were excited about the form. The podcast came soon after, once they figured out that David knew how to sound edit and Cammi knew how to code. Beyond booking a solid lineup each show, David and Cammi go out of their way to create a party. Unforgettable moments happen pretty much
every show, like at their “Happy Birthday George Michael” show — when, and after a night of stories that all referenced George Michael, everyone in the audience was given a kazoo and they all closed the show by playing “Faith” together. I’m not saying “Faith” was meant for the kazoo, but wouldn’t you have loved to be there? Listen to the podcast and relive that magic (kazoo not included). “Ask Me Stories” is monthly, at the Axis Theatre (1 Sheridan Square). The next show is December 9 — a holiday-themed show for which they’ll be covering the stage with fake snow. You won’t be able to hear that on the podcast, but I’m sure the holiday cheer will resound. David Martin is one of the most crePODCASTS, continued on p. 23
Podcasts more than blogging for people too lazy to write PODCASTS, continued from p. 22
PHOTO BY LINDSEY BOURQUE
ative people I have had the joy of performing with. He also hosts the long-running monthly storytelling show at UCB, “Nights of Our Lives.” Seven years ago, the original impetus was to have a place for improvisers at the UCB to try their hands at storytelling, and the show quickly grew to encompass stand-ups, writers and, of course, storytellers. Each installment of “Nights” revolves around a theme, with four storytellers and David as the host, who presents a monologue up top. An absurd and inspired take on the theme, it’s always completely originally and very funny — the kind of funny that makes you think, “I don’t know how this guy’s brain works, but I love it.” The performers follow, each telling a true story that fits the theme. The “Nights of Our Lives” podcast is hosted on Breakthru Radio (Breakthruradio.com), which re-broadcasts the show in its entirety. Scanning the “Nights” podcast library, you’ll recognize many names — but be on the lookout for Curtis Gwinn, to hear him close out the show after drinking an entire bottle of red wine, or “Nights” staple Adam Wade, regaling the crowd with his tale of food sickness and crapping between two PATH train cars. Seasoned UCB stars John Flynn and Anthony Atamanuik are regulars on the Los Angeles chapter of the show, but spare yourself the JetBlue fare. They can be enjoyed here in New York between your ears. The “Nights of Our Lives” live show happens monthly at the UCB Theatre (307 West 26th Street). The November 20 show’s theme is “Failure.” On Dec 18, the theme is TBA (but it will definitely be something high-risk and holiday related). If you’re wondering if the average storyteller has a face made for podcasting, think again and navigate to “Geeking Out.” It’s
Frequent Moth Slam host David Crabb and visual artist Cammi Climaco are the dynamite, albeit unlikely, duo behind “Ask Me Stories.”
not only a comedy storytelling show, but also a web series. The show brings together a collection of writers, comedians, storytellers and actors for a night of shameless nerding out over the bands they love, the celebrities they obsess over and the video games that gave them thumb spasms. Think nostalgia meets storytelling. Most of the stories also involve a visual component, be it a PowerPoint presentation, sketch, or relevant costuming — whatever they need to properly represent their super fandom. Kerri Doherty started Geeking Out as an outlet for her own obsessions (“The Golden Girls” being one of them), and wanted to create an environment where her fellow comedy/storytelling friends and could get up onstage and talk about their guilty pleasures. Soon after, she created the “Geeking Out” web series, which included the live show, plus awkward celebrity interviews, pop culture news, sketches and vlogs. As you can imagine, a show of this nature is
filled with great moments. One of Kerri’s favorite was convincing Matthew Gubler from CBS’s “Criminal Minds” to dance with her Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love to You” while dressed in prom attire. “Geeking Out” is monthly, 8:30pm, at Union Hall (702 Union Street, Brooklyn). The next show, on December 3, features Jason Zimbler (actor, “Clarissa Explains it All”), Steve Heisler (writer for The AV Club and Vulture), Mara Herron (comedian, seen on VH1 and Comedy Central), and The Vigilante (an improvised Comedy Band that’s performed at The Brooklyn Comedy Festival). In 2009, Happy Ending Lounge in the Lower East Side put a call out to find a new monthly show and Sarah Brown, the creator of Cringe, recommended Blaise Allysen Kearsley. At the time, Blaise was working on a personal essay about how she learned about sex — so she pitched “How I Learned” and produced her first show less than three weeks later. On ev-
ery show, Blaise and the performers muse about How They Learned…something (like to find happiness, lie, cheat, steal or conquer failure). I have been to this show many times, and each time it was a packed, standing room only crowd that would be lit on fire as the show progressed. There are a couple of important things to note about Blaise’s series. One is that storytellers are permitted to read, if that’s how your material is served best — which means it also draws a lot of brilliant writers. Second, it is currently in search of a new home. Sadly, after producing there for five years, this former Broome Street massage parlor turned lounge, music venue and performance space, closed it’s doors. Let’s hope its next incarnation isn’t a Chase Bank (but I wouldn’t make that bet). However, Blaise’s show will be back. It’s too good to go — and in the meantime, thanks to technology, you can enjoy the podcast. The “How I Learned” series is monthly. Venue TBA. As I was doing my research and inquiring to a few of my other favorite storytelling shows as to whether they podcast, a couple of the producers replied with a sigh, “No. I never did that. I probably should have. Do you think it’s too late to start?” Clearly, I know nothing when it comes to digital trends — but I can say with confidence that I’m so glad these people decided to plug a microphone into their laptop and press record. And yes, I know it doesn’t really work like that. Ophira Eisenberg is a standup, storyteller and host of NPR and WNYC’s trivia comedy show, “Ask Me Another.” Live tapings take place at The Bell House almost every week (amatickets.org). It is also available as a podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and TUNE-IN. She is the author of “Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy” (Seal Press).
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November 14, 2013
WINESHOP owners have cultivated a love for the grape BY HEATHER DUBIN
here is a story behind almost every bottle of wine on the elegantly constructed shelves at the East Village’s new WINESHOP. Co-owners Michael Sullivan and Aaron Thorp have chosen wines for their store that reflect integrity in the creative process, and an end result they can stand behind. The couple, who have lived in the neighborhood for nine years, opened WINESHOP on Ninth St. near Avenue A in mid-April. Their focus is on organic, natural, biodynamic (using specific agricultural practices) and sustainably made wines — both domestic and international. In an interview, Thorp, the wine director at the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District, and Sullivan, who runs WINESHOP full time, spoke about their role as a communitybased business, and their wine selection rationale. Wines mass-produced with pesticides are not available at WINESHOP. Instead, Thorp fills the shop with wines that adhere more to green-farming techniques and usually come from family-owned vineyards. “You can make great wine from organic grapes or industrial grapes,” he said. “But for me, it’s always been important to support the people who make that commitment and say, ‘We’re stewards of the line, we don’t want to farm synthetic pesticides in our stuff. This is the right thing to do, we’re not going to deplete the soil, and all the nutrients — even if that means our vines won’t be as productive as our neighbors’.’ ” Originally from Napa Valley, Thorp, 37, grew up in wine country and experienced community resistance to pesticides used in wine production firsthand. Sullivan, 33, is from Chicago. The couple met in Northampton, Massachusetts, a decade ago, and have been together ever since. WINESHOP has been years in the making, and Thorp’s background in wine has given them a decisive edge. Sullivan, who was a retail manager at Tekserve, brings his own skill set to the mix, and is learning lots about wine these days. Thorp will join him at the shop on weekends when he can, but for the most part, Sullivan flies solo. The couple wanted to set up shop in the neighborhood and had tried for three other spaces before this one. While searching for a spot, the couple had to consider State Liquor Authority restrictions, which prohibit a wine or liquor business from proximity to a school, church or another alcohol beverage store. “You can’t apply for a license until you sign a lease,” Sullivan said. “There are so many catch-22s.” They also needed a financial loan to secure the space, and there was no guarantee they were going to get a license once they found a location. The couple funded the business with help from family, and a loan from the Lower
November 14, 2013
Aaron Thorp, left, and Michael Sullivan in WINESHOP, their new wine store on Avenue A.
East Side People’s Federal Credit Union on Avenue B. They signed a 10-year lease without a license, but they had a clause to break the lease if the S.L.A failed to come through. “We were very fortunate and had a great lawyer for our license application and hearing,” Sullivan said. “We were able to get a license within three months of signing the lease.” The couple also took on a major threemonth renovation to redo the space. They had to tear down the ceiling, remove tile, sand and restain the floor, and expose the partial brick wall. “If we were going to work this hard, we wanted to do it ourselves,” Sullivan said. Their hard work has paid off, and the result is an intimate small neighborhood shop, which is exactly what they had in mind. “We wanted it to be a throwback to what people would have almost 100 years ago,” Sullivan said. They also wanted to be a part of the community and share their knowledge of wine. “We want to enhance the experience of living in the East Village,” Thorp said. “There’s no place in the East Village where you can get these wines.” Thorp enthusiastically gave some examples, like Matthiasson, produced by Steve and Jill Klein Matthiasson in Napa Valley, who pick grapes at 3 a.m. to ensure a specific level of acidity for their Linda Vista Chardonnay. Thorp was in Napa last week to sample their new blend on the front steps of the Matthaissons’ weathered old yellow barn, and offer his opinion on
their expression of cabernet, which is not on the market yet. “They took me through the vineyards, and because they pick grapes in the middle of the night, there was a lot of fruit left on the vines that they didn’t see,” Thorp said. He explained how the Matthaissons pulled fruit off a vine that afternoon, and decided to make a late harvest that would yield less than a barrel. “They make use of what they can, nothing goes to waste,” he said. “It would be irresponsible on their part to let the fruit die. I love that.” And then there is Carema, created by Produttori di Nebbiolo di Carema, an Ital-
Their focus is on organic, natural, biodynamic and sustainably made wines — both domestic and international.
ian cooperative formed by 45 farmers in 1960. Thorp noted that their vineyards were decimated after World War II, and that it can sometimes take five years for a vine to produce grapes, and even longer to develop flavor and complexity.
“Each of those farmers had less than a hectare, [2.5 acres] on a mountain, and they said, ‘Why are we trying to fight against each other and sell disparate products? Let’s unify the label,’ ” he explained. It worked, and this cooperative is still producing that same wine today. Another wine, Domaine Weinbach, is made by mothers and their daughters in Alsace, France. “It had always been a historically male line,” Thorp said. “Then the dad died, and the women took it over. Women are carrying on the legacy of it. We wanted to buy it because there was something that resonated with us about these particular products.” He feels there is a difference of expression between men and women when it comes to making wine. One is not better than the other for him, but he finds a varied approach. Thorp’s work at The Standard has informed WINESHOP’s philosophy. “These are family-owned wineries for the most part, and at The Standard we can give them much bigger exposure,” he said. “Between here and The Standard, it’s kind of cool.” Some customers have popped into WINESHOP and told Sullivan they are wary of organic wines based on previous bad experiences. He noted that organic wines are frequently sold as a sales tool, and not necessarily for the product. “What is important is that the wine is good, and that we love the wine. It so happens, we’re choosing the ones that fall into that category,” he said of organic wines. “We’ve tasted every single one of these wines with the winemaker or the distributor,” Thorp said. “I don’t know if you could stay that about Astor Wines or Union Square Wines.” Prices at WINESHOP range from $12 to $150 a bottle, with table wines $15 and under. Thorp wants neighbors to use WINESHOP as a retail sommelier for whatever they are cooking that night. The couple tried a Mosse Cabernet Franc with Thai food recently, and were pleasantly surprised. “It has an unfiltered, textural quality which envelops the spice a little bit. It has an amazing ability,” Thorp said. He recommended it to a customer who came back to tell them how great it was. “I always say to people, if you find yourself back here, I want to know what you think of the wines,” Thorp said. “Even if it’s a month later.” A French man in the neighborhood came in to try his first domestic Pinot Noir. Thorp directed him to the Hirsch Vineyards Bohan-Dillion from the Sonoma coast. The man returned an hour and a half later and poked his head in the shop. “I just have to say, the wine was fantastic,” he pronounced. “If that’s the introduction to California wine, I’m sold.”
Apartment 13 makes diners feel at home, offers discount EATS BY HEATHER DUBIN
ohn Keller and Lorrae Doig want you to feel at home in their restaurant. They even named it after their own apartment. Apartment 13, modern American cuisine with Japanese and Caribbean influences, opened in August on Avenue C near Eighth St. They hoped to open last November, but then the superstorm hit. “We had the space two weeks before Sandy, and we had to redo everything,” Keller said. They spent more than $50,000 revamping the basement, the electrical system and the walk-in refrigerators. The space had sat empty quite a while before they took it over. “We put a lot of makeup on this place,” said Keller, 36. With its cozy fireplace and friendly staff,
Apartment 13 is comfortable, with different rooms and levels, like an apartment. The couple want the restaurant to emulate their own Lower East Side home, the actual Apartment 13 where they have lived for 13 years. At Apartment 13, the restaurant, there is an oyster bar downstairs. Upstairs is the fireplace, with tables nearby and an outdoor seating area. Currently, the couple are deliberating over a couch and some chairs for the front entrance in front of the long bar. A heater will be installed for the outdoor space, and they will have blankets for customers at the corner table, Doig’s idea. Keller finds it liberating to have his own restaurant and call the creative shots. “Being able to just do something like that, and not having to clear things with someone — like the blankets,” he said. From the Baltimore area, Keller attended New York Restaurant School, then began his culinary career at Nobu, with an internship at Le Bernardin. He returned to Baltimore, working in restaurants, but came back to New York.
Mimi’s Maryland Crabcake is a mouthwatering favorite at Apartment 13.
Lorrae Doig and John Keller want you to feel relaxed at Apartment 13.
He was an executive chef at Bruno Jamais Restaurant Club, Celsius in Bryant Park and Co-op Food and Drink and Viktor and Spoils, which he opened, at The Hotel on Rivington. That’s where, he said, he met “the love of my life,” Doig, 27, who was born in the States, and grew up in Jamaica. Keller traveled between jobs, which helped him rebound back to the kitchen after feeling burned out. “You pick up things you like, and it’s usually about the mom-and pop-shops,” he said, “people who have been cooking the same way for hundreds of years.” Keller takes culinary inspiration from local cuisine rather than five-star restaurant fare. “I’d rather go to the country and go to the shacks on the side of the road where everybody goes for street food,” he said. At Apartment 13, Keller draws inspiration from New York’s melting pot of multicultural cuisine. “I’ve been a chef since a young age,” he noted. “I’ve worked in Nobu. I’m impatient, and I cook what I like — I don’t want to be put it in a box.” He crafts seasonal dishes with local produce whenever possible. Keller also wants to build signature dishes, like his oyster pairings. Additionally, every menu item is paired with a wine, beer or spirit, picked by beverage directors Steven Olson and Leo DeGroff.
“It’s taking the guesswork and responsibility from the guest, like it’s a dinner party in our home,” Doig said. “It’s thought through, and tasted for you.” Menu highlights include Mimi’s Maryland Crabcake, Keller’s grandmother’s recipe. “I grew up eating it,” he said. “Every holiday in season, we’d eat crabs.” Fish Tea is also a favorite entrée, made with halibut, miso butter, lemongrass dashi, baby bok choy and hon shimeji mushrooms. Doig tastes all the dishes, and Keller makes new ones each week. She tries to get Keller to cook for her at home, but that “never” happens, she said — except for Sandy and her birthday. “I don’t want to take work home with me,” he said. “Our kitchen is too lowbrow for him,” Doig responded with a laugh. To show their neighborhood appreciation, the couple are “indefinitely” offering “Hood Love” — 13 percent off a meal for residents of the 10009 and 10002 zip codes. A New York State ID card must be presented. “This is one of the last great streets in Manhattan,” Keller said of Avenue C. “Everybody knows each other, and they look out for each other. We want to take care of the neighborhood, let people see what we can do, and give back a bit.” November 14, 2013
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Free Will Astrology Week of November 14 - 20 BY ROB BREZSNY ARIES (March 21-April 19): There’s something resembling a big red snake slithering around in your mind lately. Not literally, of course. I’m talking about a big red imaginary snake. But it’s still potent. Whether it ends up having a disorienting or benevolent influence on your life depends on your relationship with it. Respect it but let it know you’re the boss. Give it guidelines and a clear mandate so it serves your noble ambitions, not your chaotic desires. If you do that, your big red snake will heal and uplift you. TAURUS (April 20-May 20): In my astrological opinion, almost nothing can keep you from getting the love you need in the coming days. The only potential problem: You might have a mistaken or incomplete understanding about the love you need, which could interfere with you recognizing and welcoming the real thing. Here’s my prescription: Keep an open mind about the true nature of the love you actually need most, and stay alert for the perhaps unexpected ways it might make itself available. GEMINI (May 21-June 20): “People fall so in love with their pain, they can’t leave it behind,” asserts novelist Chuck Palahniuk. Your assignment, Gemini, is to work your ass off to fall out of love with your pain. As if you were talking to a child, explain to your subconscious mind that the suffering it is used to has outlived its usefulness. In fact, I recommend you conduct a ritual severing. Tie one side of a ribbon to a symbol of your pain and the other around your waist. Then cut the ribbon in half and bury the symbol in the dirt. CANCER (June 21-July 22): “You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again,” said painter Joan Miró. “You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life,” he added. The coming days will likely bring you none of the former kind of experiences and several of the latter, Cancerian. It’s a numinous time in your long-term cycle — when you’re likely to encounter beauty that enchants you and mysteries that titillate your sense of wonder for a long time. How do you like your epiphanies? Hot and wild? Cool and soaring? Comical and lyrical? All the above? LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): There’s a new genre of erotic literature: dinosaur porn. E-books like “In the Velociraptor’s Nest” and “Ravished by the Triceratops” recount steamy encounters between people and prehistoric reptiles. While now is a good time to add explore pleasure’s frontier, I think you should remain rooted in the real world, even in your fantasy life. Plus, it’s safer. You don’t want to explore the frontiers of pleasure with cold-blooded beasts. Either travel alone or else round up a warm-blooded compassion specialist with some skills in the arts of intimacy. VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): The saxifrage is a small plant with white flowers. It flourishes in subarctic regions and cooler parts of the Northern Hemisphere. “Saxifrage” comes from the Latin saxifraga, meaning “stone-breaker.” Indeed, the plant often appears in the clefts of boulders. In “A Sort of a Song,” poet
William Carlos Williams celebrates its strength: “Saxifrage is my flower that splits the rocks.” I nominate this little dynamo as your metaphorical power object this week, Virgo. May it inspire you to crack through barriers with subtle force. LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): You’re not being swept along in a flood of meaningless distractions and irrelevant information, right? I’m hoping you have a sixth sense about which few stimuli are useful and meaningful to you, and which thousands of stimuli are not. But if not, now would be a good time to take strenuous action. The universe will conspire to help you become extra stable and secure if you resolve to eliminate as much nonsense from your life as you can. SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): To be healthy, you must give and receive sweetness regularly. But you can’t flourish on sweetness alone. For balance, you need the other tastes, including saltiness, sourness, bitterness and savoriness. From what I understand, you are headed into a phase when you’ll thrive on more bitterness and savoriness than usual. To get an idea of this, meditate on what the emotional equivalents might be for bitter tastes like coffee, beer and olives, and for savory tastes like mushrooms, cheese, spinach and green tea. SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): When you procrastinate, you avoid an important task. You goof off, doing something fun or just puttering around. What if you could avoid an important task by doing other tasks somewhat less important but still quite valuable? For example, you could postpone your search for the key to everything by throwing yourself into a project that will give you the key to one small part of everything. CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): In his utopian novel “Looking Backward,” Edward Bellamy wrote: “It is under what may be called unnatural, in the sense of extraordinary, circumstances that people behave most naturally, for the reason that such circumstances banish artificiality.” Relief and release await you, Capricorn: an end to pretending, a dissolution of deception. Amid extraordinary circumstances, you will act with brave authenticity. Take full advantage.
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AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): “I have your back.” Is there anyone who feels that way about you? If not, now would be an excellent time to work on getting such an ally. Cosmic conditions are ripe for bringing greater levels of assistance and collaboration into your life. If you already have confederates of that caliber, you can deepen your symbiotic connection even further. PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): More than 100 countries celebrate a holiday called Independence Day, memorializing when they broke free of another nation to form a separate state. I encourage you to create your own personal version of this festival. It could commemorate a past breakthrough moment when you escaped an oppressive situation, or achieved a higher level of autonomy. A fresh opportunity of this kind is available to you. Any day now might be a good time to declare a new Independence Day.
Annie: Music Maker, Tekserver.
119 W 23rd St • 212.929.3645 • tekserve.com November 14, 2013
November 14, 2013