The Paper of Record for East and West Villages, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown
November 28, 2013 • FREE Volume 4 • Number 1
Developer files plan for six-story building on former garden lot BY SAM SPOKONY
C.M.G., continued on p. 2
East Villagers map out strategy to keep chain stores in check BY GERARD FLYNN
ecently at a meeting of the East Village Community Coalition, about 20 local residents and merchants gathered to share their views on the impact that the influx of so-called “formula retail” stores is having on their lives and on
PHOTO BY SAM SPOKONY
developer has officially filed plans to construct a six-story, 70-foot-tall residential building on a contested lot that was part of a Lower East Side community garden for more than 30 years. Supporters of the Chil-
dren’s Magical Garden, at the corner of Stanton and Norfolk Sts., were dismayed this past spring when developer Serge Hoyda fenced off a portion of the garden’s land that he purchased in 2003. The sliver has been privately owned for decades, accord-
their neighborhood. Chain stores like the Gap or 7-Eleven — the latter which brought demonstrations recently when it opened on Avenue A at 11th St. — were the focus of much of the evening’s discussion. Yet, while the talk was indignant in some FORMULA, continued on p. 4
A memorial to George Taliferro was placed at the site where he was fatally shot in Smith Houses.
A murder in public housing reveals both feuds and fears BY SAM SPOKONY
t Smith Houses, statistics can be deceiving. The New York City Housing Authority development, which includes 12 buildings and houses more than 4,000 residents, seems like a pretty quiet place to most passersby. Its Lower East Side loca-
tion — bounded by St. James Place and Madison, Catherine and South Sts. — is just steps away from 1 Police Plaza, the headquarters of the New York Police Department. And according to figures put out by the N.Y.P.D., it might seem that relatively little violence — particularly gun violence — takes place at Smith Houses. The Fifth Precinct,
which covers the complex, lists a total of only three reported shooting incidents in the entire precinct so far in 2013, according to reports published online. But that’s not what some residents of the public housing development say. This past week, one L.E.S. MURDER, continued on p. 5
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Developer files building plan for a former L.E.S. garden lot C.M.G., continued from p. 1
ing to city records, but it was used continuously by the garden in the absence of any development projects. Both before and after Hoyda fenced off the lot, supporters of the garden made numerous attempts to convince him to agree to a “land swap” that would have kept C.M.G. fully intact. But on Nov. 22, Hoyda’s representatives filed a job application with the city’s Department of Buildings, seeking the agency’s approval to begin construction on the site. On Nov. 26, D.O.B. assigned a plan examiner to evaluate the application for the six-story building, and a decision is still pending, according to city records. The address of the new building — which, according to Hoyda’s application, would include six full-floor apartments — would be 157 Norfolk St. “The community gardeners are meeting right after the Thanksgiving holiday to vote on the best solutions for the community garden, and for the many children who consider our garden to be their second home,” said C.M.G. Director Kate Temple-West, in a statement responding to the news of Hoyda’s application. “Soon we’ll be convening a town
TheaTer for The New CiTy Crystal Field, Executive Director presents
iNfiNiTy DaNCe TheaTer Kitty Lunn, Artistic Director
Cynthia Marcelino, 17, and Dalia Rodriguez, 18, put up signs back on May 20 to protest developer Serge Hoyda’s actions on land used by the Children’s Magical Garden.
hall meeting to share our ideas with the wider community. We welcome and will hold a place at the meeting table for the developer.” The city-owned portion of C.M.G. gained permanent community garden status this past summer, through inclusion in the city’s GreenThumb program.
New and revived modern dance works by Peter Pucci, Carla Vannucchi, Alice Sheppard, and Kitty Lunn, with new music composed and performed live by William Catanzaro
UnboUnd: dancing from Here to tHere December 6–8, 2013
Janie Ellis Morrison Trust Photo by Sofia Negron
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November 28, 2013
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participants, and implement a comprehensive safety plan. SantaCon needs to sober up and clean up its act or be canceled.” Meanwhile, the political outcry over SantaCon is, well, snowballing. On Tuesday, eight other local pols joined Hoylman’s call for the alcoholfueled midwinter bacchanal to adopt “good-neighbor principles.” They included state Senators Liz Krueger and Daniel Squadron, Assemblymembers Richard Gottfried, Deborah Glick and Brian Kavanagh and City Councilmembers Rosie Mendez and Margaret Chin. “‘A group of drunks in Santa suits walk into a bar ’ might sound like the start of a joke, but there’s nothing funny about SantaCon,” said Gottfried, who represents Hell’s Kitchen / Clinton. “If the organizers and participating bars can’t protect the public, the police and the State Liquor Authority need to act.”
DELIVERED THE SAD NEWS: Although he wasn’t actually reporting the news 50 years ago when John F. Kennedy was killed, Don Mathisen was very closely in touch with it — since he was delivering it. He was a paperboy for Newsday, which was then an afternoon, primarily subscription newspaper, on Long
PHOTO BY SCOOPY
HOYLMAN LAYS DOWN THE LAW: Outgoing Police Commissioner Ray Kelly surprised some when, last week, he wholeheartedly endorsed the raucous SantaCon. Earlier in the week, a police lieutenant in Hell’s Kitchen had declared the annually ever-larger, Santathemed pub crawl / open-air vomitorium and urinal a disgrace, saying local bar owners should shun it. But, as reported by the Daily News, Kelly retorted, “This is an event that we support. It’s what makes New York New York. There have been some rowdy actions by a small handful of people in the past. I think that’s why the officers in Midtown North were trying to… alert the tavern owners.” Taking a far harder line on SantaCon, state Senator Brad Hoylman in October reached out to the St. Nick-themed booze fest, urging them to clean up their act and create a plan for how they’ll do that, to be shared with local police precincts and community boards. “I’m disappointed in Commissioner Kelly’s comments brushing off the negative impact of SantaCon, which seem way out of touch with New Yorkers and his own police force,” Hoylman told us. “Marauding droves of drunken people isn’t what makes New York special, and I hope the commissioner really doesn’t believe his police force should facilitate this brand of lawlessness. Instead, we need to hold SantaCon responsible by requiring them to make public and follow defined routes, ensure respectful
PIZZA PIE GOODBYE: The Roio’s Pizza (formerly Famous Ray’s) at 11th St. and Sixth Ave. was set to close this Wednesday, according to our intrepid Central Village correspondent Elissa Stein. They’ll be making ’za until they run out of ingredients, she told us. “Apparently, the family owned the building before, so they never paid rent,” Stein reported. “The building was finally sold and they can’t afford to pay what the new people are asking. … Honestly, they’re not all that busy anymore. I remember when they were open until 3 a.m. on Saturdays. Now it’s empty much of the time.” Stein plans to give the whole recap of the Ray’s multigenerational saga — which is the real Famous Ray’s? etc. — for us in next week’s issue. Last we checked with her, she was heading to the place to get a slice of white pizza. We can’t believe this is really the end, though, and are certain that a new Original Famous For-Real Authentic Ray’s will open there soon. … Meanwhile, Stein also informs us that Chipotle will be opening at the “haunted and doomed retail corner” at Sixth Ave. and 13th St. Yeah right…we’ll see how long that one lasts. … As for another original Ray, Ray of Avenue A fame told us he recently received an order at 2 a.m. for 900 beignets. “You better have the money!!!” he warned the caller, then hustled back to the fryer to start churning out the irresistible dollops of dough. The guy showed up — with the cash — and relieved Ray of the freshly cooked golden beignets. Now that must have been a hot party!
Island. Mathisen was in school in Lindenhurst when he heard J.F.K. had been shot. School let out, he went home, dropped off his schoolbag, then delivered the regular paper on his bicycle, then went back out on another round to deliver the extra on the assassination. Mathisen, who lives on Grand St. and is a longtime video and radio journalist, brought this old copy of the extra edition, above right, to our office last Friday, Nov. 22, the five-decade anniversary of Kennedy’s death. “It might have been Newsday’s last extra, I’m not sure, but it was the last one I ever saw,” Mathisen said. “I didn’t keep a copy. I was 13 years old, I didn’t care. But one of my uncles kept it, it was in his attic — we found it when he died.” As for what Mathisen did after delivering the extra — not to us, but to the Long Island readers back in the day — he recalled, “There was a Boy Scout camping trip planned that day. There was some question as to whether the camping trip would be canceled, but we went, and then came back early. … I was very interested in the news then and John F. Kennedy,” he recalled. “He was young, he was new. Eisenhower was old. My dad liked Eisenhower — he was in Patton’s army. He hated Patton but he liked Eisenhower.”
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East Villagers map out plan to keep chains in check FORMULA, continued from p. 1
quarters, it was mostly quiet, if not nostalgic, for a neighborhood that has gone through a veritable “gut renovation” of gentrification for the last 20 years or so. As groups sat around with colored markers mapping out their consumer habits or browsing a specially created pocket map showing alternatives to 7-Eleven, Melanie Trohn, a policy analyst with E.V.C.C., outlined the social forces driving the long-term trend. Mostly, she said, the loss of the neighborhood’s former retail character is driven by the bottom line. A bakery might only be able to pay $9,000 a month for a coveted spot, but the “corporate complex” can pay a landlord $30,000 or more, she noted. Also, unlike the small business owner, the formula-retail store can draw upon a large pool of cash and credit to stay afloat in hard times, whereas the small business sinks from few customers, she explained. In other words, the small store just can’t compete. On top of that, landlords might not even rent to small business owners, but rather hold out for the bigger payout. A credit-card culture also favors the larger retailer, drawing in many more customers, since competing independent business owners might not take plastic. Hence, the old-time bakery becomes an upscale juice bar. Jack Kerouac’s East Village becomes a mere dharma-bum brand. As formula-retail outlets roll through her old neighborhood, one East Village resident, Kate Puls, said, “It’s hard to say, but I’m scared to think what the neighborhood might look like in 10 years.” She has seen the continuing loss of local character, as shoe repair stores, fish markets and bakeries disappear. What formula-retail stores and banks are creating, said local activist Rob Hollander, is a kind of corporate monoculture, a “homogenization” of a neighborhood that was once renowned for its cherished cultural and commercial diversity. As if the newcomers have a caffeinated preference for corporate culture, Puls recalled how a local chain, The Bean, lost one of its
November 28, 2013
At the E.V.C.C. workshop, mapping out a strategy to preserve local mom-and-pop stores, from left, Udo Drescher, an East Village resident; Gayle Raskin, owner of Jane’s Exchange children’s and maternity consignment store; Karen Loew, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s director for the East Village and special projects; and Tania Vargas, owner of Goat-Milk kids’ wear.
three stores to Starbucks, which she heard paid $38,000 for about 1,000 square feet. Hollander pointed to the strip along 14th St. on either side of Union Square, where many small stores have been swallowed and supplanted by standardized replacements. But what can be done in a market economy when corporations have every right to pay a landlord the market rate in rent and push out anyone who can’t? Actually a lot, some said. A “resurgence” in opposition to formula retail is on its way, so there’s hope for the 400 or so small businesses that remain in the East Village, it was noted. As one activist stated, “Politicians may not listen to hippies, but they will listen to business owners.” There was a loud call for considerably more political influence to be brought to bear on the issue, from the City Council and Community Board 3, to state government in Albany. “Anyone looking for an issue can just look out the window,” one activist reminded everyone, as the evening came to an end and as the talk turned more militant to street protests. As if on cue, state Senator Brad Hoylman stepped into the room, just as a recorded church bell was pealing 8 p.m. When asked what’s objectionable about larger commercial establishments pursuing their lawful right to do
business in the East Village, Hoylman pointed to the loss of mom-and-pop stores and the subsequent erosion of the East Village’s uniqueness. These retail “pioneers,” he said, gave the neighborhood its distinct quality in the first place, long before the arrival of the chain store. In addition to looking at zoning as a means to curb the chain stores’ spread, he said that C.B. 3 and politicians like his colleague
state Senator Daniel Squadron “would and should” get more involved as the issue gains community traction. At the workshop, Hoylman heard from a participant about a bill related to formularetail zoning that began in the Hamptons. According to Sara Romanoski, E.V.C.C.’s executive director, Hoylman subsequently wrote her last Friday to report he has now signed on to that bill.
Worker in fatal fall at N.Y.U. BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
man doing facade work at a New York University building died last Friday after he fell from the sixth floor onto a third-floor roof. On Fri., Nov. 15, at 11:30 a.m., police responded to a report of an injured man at 19 University Place. They found a Hispanic man in his 40s on the rooftop of 269 Greene St. with body trauma. Emergency Medical Service medics transported him to Bellevue, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. According to Phil Lentz, a university spokesperson, the man had been doing brickwork on the facade. After the accident, N.Y.U. released the following statement: “An employee for D.P. Consulting Corp. working on a construction project at 19 University Place, N.Y.U.’s Languages and Literature Building, apparently fell and suffered fatal injuries this morning.
N.Y.U. immediately shut down the construction site, where facade work was underway. The university has also shut down all facade work at the university to ensure that our contractors are in compliance with their safety plans. N.Y.U. prides itself on its excellent safety record and will cooperate with any government investigation of this tragic incident. Our deepest sympathies go out to the worker’s family.” Lentz said the work wasn’t related to Local Law 11, which requires the maintenance of building exteriors. Earlier this week, all N.Y.U. exterior work was still on hold. Lentz said, “We are hopeful this review will be completed this week and construction work will resume Friday for all exterior projects — except for those projects by D.P. Consulting Corp., the contractor at 19 University Place. There is no timetable for resuming projects by D.P. Consulting pending the investigations by OHSA and the Department of Buildings.”
Murder at Smith Houses reveals both feuds and fears L.E.S. MURDER, continued from p. 1
Smith Houses resident claimed that she’s heard gunshots within the project around 10 times so far this year, and another said gunfire has happened around once a month. Early on Nov. 10, tensions at Smith Houses came to a head when George Taliferro, 30, was shot to death on a walkway between two of the development’s buildings at 7 and 15 St. James Place. Around 4 a.m., in the dark before that day’s dawn, police found Taliferro lying in the courtyard, bleeding out, with bullet wounds in his torso. He was pronounced dead shortly after being rushed to the hospital. The prime suspect in that fatal shooting, Christopher Delrosario, 19, was arrested several days later in the Upstate town of Port Jervis, according to police. He has been charged with second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon. Delrosario is a resident of 46 Madison St., in Smith Houses. Taliferro was raised in Smith Houses, and his family — both his older blood relatives and his three young children — still lived there at the time of his death. But according to those who knew him, Taliferro actually lived in a NYCHA development in Brooklyn. He had gotten out of jail in August 2011, after serving more than three years in state prison for weapons possession. He still sold a little marijuana on the side, according to a 60-year-old Smith Houses resident who said she had remained friends with Taliferro after watching him grow up so many years ago, but that didn’t make him a bad person. “George was a good guy,” she said. Some at Smith Houses believe that Taliferro became the victim of a cross-borough turf war, one in which he’d never meant to get caught up. Others think that it was fiery disputes within the development that boiled over and led to his end. But it’s unclear exactly what happened on the morning of Sun., Nov. 10. A 24-year-old woman who lives at 15 St. James Place said she was walking into her building that morning, around 3:30 a.m., and saw Taliferro sitting outside the building with a group of five or six other men. “It looked like he was just hanging out with some friends,” she said. “It didn’t look like anything was wrong.” Half an hour later, four shots rang out. One missed; the other three struck Taliferro and laid him out. Even before Delrosario was arrested and charged with the murder, the woman said she and many of her neighbors were practically certain that the crime had been
committed by a Smith Houses resident. “A lot of people around here don’t like each other,” she said. And although plenty of residents might even have thought that it was Delrosario that did it, most of them were too scared to talk about it, she added.
‘They go back and forth, and they all look like friends, and all of a sudden it’s a shoot-out.’ Smith Houses resident
The aforementioned 60-year-old Smith Houses resident, who said she knew Taliferro ever since he was a kid, was sure that it wasn’t just a random act of infighting. “It was definitely turf-related,” she said. She noted that, in her 35 years living at Smith Houses, she has seen various turf wars develop between Lower East Side NYCHA residents and those who live in public housing in Brooklyn, particularly around the East Flatbush area. “They go back and forth,” she said, “and they all look like friends, and all of a sudden it’s a shoot-out.” The woman explained that, regardless of how quiet the area might seem to visitors, the knowledge of drug- or gang-related violence keeps her and many other older Smith Houses residents in their homes after dark. “I only go out to the store late at night if it’s an emergency,” she said. “I’m really just worried about my safety.” Another older Smith Houses resident, an 82-year-old man who said he’s lived there for more than four decades, echoed that sentiment. He enjoys sitting outside in the courtyard on nice days, but never past 5 p.m. “Every time you worry, because you don’t know who’s good and who’s bad,” he said. “You just have to mind your business and go home, and that’s it. You can’t do anything about it. Even the police can’t do anything about it. I just go home early, and I stay home.” Across the courtyard, two 25-year-old men — friends who both live in the development — were walking out of their building toward the street. When asked whether or not they felt unsafe because of
drug or gang feuds that might spill over into the complex, they said they didn’t — but mainly because they’re rarely ever around the neighborhood at night. “There’s nothing here besides that stuff,” one of them said. “That’s why we don’t hang out here.” Yet another Smith Houses resident — a man who said he knew not only Taliferro but his parents and grandparents as well — explained that tensions within the development, compounded by the 30-year-old’s violent death, were apparently painful enough to actually push them out of the place they once called home. “The day George died, his whole family moved out,” the man said, shaking his head. On the walkway between the two buildings at 7 and 15 St. James Place, at the very site of the fatal shooting — and mere steps away from the home of the man alleged to have committed the crime — there sits a makeshift memorial to George Taliferro. It’s a large sheet of heavy paper, signed by friends, propped up against a railing. Taped above that is a photo of the deceased, with a simple line written across it: “R.I.P. George.”
After conducting interviews around the courtyard of Smith Houses, the reporter stopped in front of the memorial, first just to look at the image, and then to take a photo of it for this article. A young man, probably around 18 years old, walked up to the reporter and asked him what he was doing there. But he didn’t think that writing a story about the murder, or taking a photo of Taliferro’s memorial, was acceptable. “Delete those f------ photos,” he said. “Delete those photos, or I’ll make a call, and then you’ll be f------ sorry.” As the reporter walked away, the young man followed close behind. “And don’t come around here anymore.”
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November 28, 2013
POLICE BLOTTER Fatal stabber pleads guilty
A man charged with fatally stabbing a patient at a Lower East Side treatment center in 2011 has pleaded guilty to firstdegree manslaughter, a district attorney spokesperson said. Charles Meredith, 48, pleaded guilty on Nov. 25, and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 15. Around 3:20 a.m. on May 11, 2011, Meredith got into an argument with Stewart Rhodes, 50, who was being treated for mental illness at Stanton House, located at 190 Stanton St., according to police reports. Meredith then picked up a kitchen knife and plunged it several times into the torso of Rhodes, who was pronounced dead after being rushed to the hospital. Meredith had been a patient at the treatment center before the attack, and was reportedly once Rhodes’s roommate.
Police are searching for two suspects who robbed a South Village liquor store at gunpoint on the night of Sat., Nov. 23. The two unidentified men walked into Thompson Wine and Spirits, at 222 Thompson St., around 10:20 p.m., pulled out a gun and demanded cash, police said. The store’s employee handed over the money, after which the robbers fled the scene. No injuries were reported.
Surveillance camera images of the alleged liquor store robbers, according to police.
Police arrested James Degivenchy, 50, on Nov. 23 after he allegedly attacked a New York Police Department sergeant because he was angry that his car was being towed. Around 2 a.m., a traffic cop was in the process of towing Degivenchy’s illegally parked vehicle on W. 13th St., between Washington St. and Ninth Ave., when the driver returned to the scene. Degivenchy reportedly became irate and jumped into his car, continuing to sit inside it even while it was lifted up onto the tow truck, police said. Degivenchy at first refused to get out of the car, even after the police sergeant arrived and instructed him multiple times to do so. When he finally did get out, the angry driver reportedly stood on the back of the tow truck and got into a fighting position, prompting the sergeant to take out his taser, police said.
When Degivenchy continued to be aggressive after coming down from the truck, the sergeant used the taser on him, but the man was apparently unfazed by the electric shock and punched the sergeant in the face, police said. The sergeant was eventually able to pepper-spray Degivenchy, and, with the help of officers who arrived to provide backup, he was finally subdued. On top of that, the alleged attacker’s wife, Gina Degivenchy, 46, tried unsuccessfully to stop the officers from arresting her husband once he had been apprehended, police said. James Degivenchy was charged with two counts of assaulting a police officer, as well as resisting arrest. His wife was also arrested and charged with obstructing government administration.
A man was busted for groping two women at the Hotel Gansevoort on Fri., Nov. 22, police said. Jaime Crespo, 31, was reportedly standing outside a bathroom in the hotel, at 18 Ninth Ave., around 3:15 p.m., when, according to a 32-year-old woman, he grabbed her genital area as she was walking by. A 28-year-old woman said that, moments later, Crespo grabbed her breast as she was walking toward the bathroom. By the time those incidents were reported and police had arrived, the alleged perv was also spotted banging on a metal door
inside the hotel, causing some damage to it. Crespo was charged with forcible touching, sexual abuse and criminal mischief.
Beer brings on knife bust
Police arrested Kevin Willis, 51, on Nov. 22 after he was caught carrying an illegal knife while strolling down the sidewalk. Willis was spotted by officers around 7:30 p.m. near the corner of W. 14th St. and Eighth Ave., and was stopped and searched because he was reportedly drinking an open can of beer. He was then found to be carrying a gravity knife in his front pants pocket, police said. Willis was charged with criminal possession of a weapon.
Teen tagger gets tagged
A teenage graffiti artist was caught tagging the wall of the subway station at 14th St. and Sixth Ave. on Nov. 23, police said. Officers spotted the 17-year-old on the Uptown side of the B/D/F/M station around 12:30 p.m., as he was writing “Ramer,” apparently his nickname, on the wall with a white permanent marker. After interrupting the teen’s work, the officers also found that he was carrying a fake Virginia driver’s license. The teen was charged with forgery and making graffiti.
Funding set for gun buybacks; Will L.E.S. get one? BY SAM SPOKONY
unding is available for 10 new gun buyback events across the city, but it’s unclear whether one of those will be held for the Lower East Side’s public housing developments. In its fiscal year 2014 budget, the City Council set aside $150,000 to fund the buybacks, which offer cash to residents who anonymously turn in guns to their local police precinct. The New York Police Department has also provided a matching contribution of $150,000. In October 2012, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver worked with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to sponsor the first-ever Lower East Side gun buyback event, which took 50 firearms — including four illegally altered, semiautomatic handguns — off the street.
“The scourge of gun violence has brought tragedy to far too many families in our community, particularly on the Lower East Side, which recently saw yet another fatal shooting,” said Silver in an e-mailed statement last week, referring to the Nov. 10 murder of 30-year-old George Taliferro in Smith Houses. “I would welcome another gun buyback and I am continuing my strong effort to curb gun violence,” Silver said. The 10 locations for the new buybacks will be chosen through discussions between the City Council, N.Y.P.D. and D.A.’s Office, according to a D.A. source. “Every illegal firearm taken off our streets means lives saved and crimes averted, and that is why gun buyback programs are an invaluable tool in keeping New Yorkers safe,” said Councilmember Margaret Chin, who has also allocated $800,000 for the installation of security
cameras in public housing developments. “Curbing gun violence in our communities is of the utmost priority, and I expect the next administration to give this issue its full attention.” The Council also allocated more than $4.5 million in funding for other antigun violence initiatives in its F.Y. 2014 budget. But that money is all focused on five neighborhoods — in Harlem, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island — that have statistically higher rates of shootings than the Lower East Side. Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, in an interview with The Villager, called for a second Lower East Side gun buyback earlier this year, following January’s fatal shooting of Raphael Ward, 16, a Baruch Houses resident. Since Ward’s murder, there have been a total of eight more shooting incidents reported in the Fifth, Seventh and Ninth pre-
cincts, which collectively cover Chinatown, the Lower East Side and the East Village. The N.Y.P.D. did not respond to a request for comment. Christopher Delrosario, the 19-year-old Smith Houses resident who was arrested in connection with Taliferro’s death, has been indicted for second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon. He is scheduled to be arraigned in State Supreme Court on Dec. 12, according to a D.A. spokesperson. In interviews conducted at the Smith Houses following Taliferro’s death, residents of the development generally supported the idea of bringing another gun buyback to the Lower East Side. But one woman, who has lived there 35 years, was bluntly critical of the program. “It’s bulls---,” said the 60-year-old woman. “For every gun they turn in, there are still five more on the street.” November 28, 2013
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November 28, 2013
With SWAMP stuck, it’s now time to start over EDITORIAL
s we enter the last month of Mayor Bloomberg’s third and final term, one of his signature initiatives remains in limbo: SWAMP. That is, the mayor’s Solid Waste Management Plan, as part of which, all of Manhattan’s residential recyclable waste was to have been barged from Gansevoort Peninsula to a new recycling plant in Sunset Park. Because Gansevoort Peninsula — which juts into the river west of the Meatpacking District — is in Hudson River Park, legislation was needed to allow the “alienation” of parkland for a marine waste transfer station. The state Legislature passed the required legislation six years ago. Yet, the plan has lain dormant because a key memorandum of understanding, or M.O.U., is unsigned. In return for alienating 1.36 acres of parkland on the 8-acre peninsula — needed for a road for garbage trucks to reach the M.W.T.S. — the Trust, under the M.O.U., would receive $50
million, we’re told. But the mayor, governor and heads of the Assembly and state Senate all must sign the M.O.U. Bloomberg is ready to sign, but the state clearly doesn’t have the desire to do so. So, the clock will run out on Bloomberg with SWAMP unapproved. That will come as good news to many Villagers who don’t relish the idea of 60 or more, diesel particulate-belching garbage trucks rumbling daily across the park’s bikeway and walkway onto the peninsula. Adding to parents’ concerns, just a few hundred feet away is a popular children’s water-play pier. Five years ago, the Friends of Hudson River Park and local elected officials, including Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried, proposed Pier 76, at W. 36th St. in Chelsea, as an alternative site for the M.W.T.S. The city responded that retrofitting part of Pier 76 as a transfer station would be too expensive, costing millions more than siting such a facility at Gansevoort. Calling city officials “disrespectful,” Glick charged they barely even “flipped through” the alternative proposal. Ross Gra-
ham, then-co-chairperson of the Friends, declared they were reserving the right to sue over the M.W.T.S. In fact, back in 2006, Community Board 4, which covers Chelsea, actually supported the Pier 76 alternative, feeling Gansevoort — which is near Chelsea — is the better site for park use, plus, the area around Pier 76 isn’t residential. The most controversial — or highly publicized — part of SWAMP calls for a transfer station at E. 90th to export Manhattan’s other garbage to whichever municipalities want us to pay them to take it. So where are things now? The Brooklyn recycling center has been completed. But it’s been a decade since the Bloomberg administration launched the SWAMP idea, and all we have is that one facility. As for Pier 76, also included — along with park air-rights transfers — in the recent legislative amendment to the Hudson River Park Act that Governor Cuomo finally signed, is a provision under which commercial revenue from Pier 76 now all will go to the Trust. Previously, the city was to get the commercial revenue
generated on half of the pier. The other half of the pier will be developed for recreational park use. Meanwhile, Gottfried and others still want another amendment, to allow hotel use at Pier 76, which, if approved, surely would nix a garbage-barging operation there. Farther south, it’s expected the new Spring St. megagarage will be completed by 2015, allowing the garbage trucks currently parked on Gansevoort to relocate there, paving the way for the peninsula’s redevelopment into a genuine park. There was a study 10 years ago about sending Manhattan’s garbage out of the city by freight rail. Other activists note many cities now use “closed-system technology” to turn putrescible garbage into methane gas or biodiesel. In short, 10 years is a long time. And the Village will have more than its fair share of garbage trucks just with the new Spring St. threedistrict megagarage alone. With a new administration, it’s time to scrap SWAMP — and completely reassess the city’s approach to waste management with a fresh eye.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR What’s a degree with no planet? To The Editor: After travelling across the country by train and visiting numerous schools on the East Coast, I have observed a growing number of students who are concerned with the investments of their institutional endowment. I am one of these concerned students. While colleges and universities across the nation accept and teach the science of climate change, they backhandedly invest their money in the very companies that perpetuate the climate crisis. This double standard can exist no longer. Students from more than 350 colleges have actively started to point out this contradiction between their schools’ values and their investment philosophy. New York University, the college that I proudly attend, is one these schools that has taken a moral stand on climate change. The school has recognized and taken steps to address the fundamental
reality that the unabated burning of fossil fuels will bring about globally felt consequences. I myself have been driven to direct action and activism because of the reality that my generation and our children will face. I want to live in a world that is not plagued by frequent droughts, fires and superstorms. I am part of N.Y.U. Divest and
we are here to ask President Sexton and the N.Y.U. board of trustees to divest the New York University endowment from the companies that produce these toxic fossil fuels. President Sexton, what is the use of my degree if I don’t have a planet to live on? Please divest for our future. Alex Suber
E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager. com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 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.
Even the politically correct machine can’t “glamorize” Obamacare.
I was a grunt in Georgia the day that J.F.K. died NOTEBOOK BY DANIEL B. MELTZER
n the Friday that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated I was a P.F.C. in training to become a Morse code and radio-teletype operator at Fort Gordon, outside of Augusta, Georgia. I was looking forward to a weekend pass and two days in Atlanta. We were learning how to tune Army radios, which were actually mobile radio stations, the numerous components filling a “hut” the size of a small truck. To college grads like us — many of us had enlisted or been drafted right after commencement in June — the complex electronics and the by-the-numbers military approach to everything made it all more complicated than seemed necessary. Each of us had a miniature radio set to work on. You had to power up, calibrate your transmitter and receiver, synchronize them, dip and load your antenna coil…a long list of steps just to get going. The room was quiet except for the occasional slam of a hand to the tabletop, and “God damn this f------ thing! Suddenly the classroom door flew open. A sergeant stuck his head in and called out, “The president’s been shot, get it on your
sets.” You never saw a bunch of liberal arts majors zip through those steps so fast. We were restricted to base that evening. No rides to Atlanta or even into dreary Augusta: bars, tattoo parlors, pawnshops and hookers that none of us could afford. Someone in our barracks had a transistor radio. We heard the news as it unfolded. The next day a memorial parade was arranged, with a platoon from every unit on the base marching. Participants were chosen by size: Tallest, next tallest and so on, front rank to rear. They had enough before they could get to me. Normally, this would have been a relief. Marching in step for hours with an M1 rifle on your shoulder is not fun. And then standing stiff at parade rest without moving a finger for the speeches and then at full attention as the base commander reviews the troops can and does cause genuine physical pain. I didn’t care. Like everyone else in my family, I admired J.F.K., saw him as the brightest, gutsiest and coolest president ever. I had met him when he came to ABC in New York in 1960, where I was a page in the studio during his debate with Richard Nixon. I wanted to march in that parade. For two packs of Camels, I took another guy’s place. He thought I was
nuts to actually pay him to get him out of parade duty. It rained. It poured. The uniform of the day was Class “A” khakis freshly starched, spitshined combat boots, trousers bloused above the boot-tops. Due to the weather, ponchos were added. We could have been naked under those ponchos except for the boots. But we were marching instead, over wet grass and through mud with our rifle straps pressing down, and our cardboard-stiff khakis cutting into our necks, elbows and knees. My
Like my family, I admired Kennedy, saw him as the brightest, gutsiest and coolest president ever.
eyeglasses were fogged, rain-smeared and sliding down my sweaty nose. In their speeches, the high-level brass
seemed to bend over backward to avoid outright praise of the slain president. They didn’t like him, I recognized. I wondered why. Much later I came to understand the reason. He had been reluctant to commit U.S. troops to a major land war in a place called Vietnam. The Gung Ho guys were itching to go. The next day I was put on KP. I was mopping when someone came running into the mess hall yelling, “Oswald’s been shot!” I ducked out and snuck over to the day room, where there was a TV. Officers were lounging on the leatherette sofas and easy chairs. In my water- and grease-soaked fatigues, mop still in hand, I saw the videotape replay of Ruby shooting Oswald. Walter Cronkite was at the anchor desk. Dan Rather was reporting from Dallas. I stood riveted, until the mess sergeant stood toe to toe in front of me with a very large knife in one hand and shouted and sprayed his miserable breath into my face to get my “f------ a-- back into that kitchen or I’ll…!” He didn’t have to complete the sentence. Random violence at military installations was not unusual even back then. Years later, I would become a writer for CBS News. As it happened, I started the week that was Walter Cronkite’s last. He was replaced the following week by Dan Rather. Meltzer’s most recent book is “Outsiders,” a collection of short fiction
A local architect’s assessment of The Greenwich Lane TALKING POINT BY CARL STEIN
ecently, there has been much discussion in the community and in the press about The Greenwich Lane, the Rudin development on the old St. Vincent’s Hospital site. Either tacitly or explicitly, much of this discussion centers on attempting to define what constitutes appropriate development, particularly in communities with strong historic or cultural pasts. This is a highly complex question with no simple answers. Cities are evolutionary. Preservation of historic districts must be a high priority — but needs change, as do the technologies to meet these needs. On the one hand, for the case in point, the design for buildings currently under construction on the old St. Vincent’s site could have been far worse than it is. However, it could also have been far better. Having just returned from three days in Dallas, I’m struck by the wonderful qualities of Greenwich Village and reminded how little The Greenwich Lane has to do with these qualities. This is partly a function of architecture, of scale and texture. It’s also partly a function of the potential for creating an enclave — a gated community — in what
is otherwise a very open and interconnected neighborhood. But more than anything else, what this new development does is accelerate the trend away from a place that accommodated an incredibly wide range of residents. The essence of the Village has been its diversity. It has accommodated the wealthy in large, single-family townhouses and gracious apartments. But it has also been home
ago, my neighbors included writers Donald Barthelme, Grace Paley, Kirkpatrick Sale, Steve Gaines and Israel Horovitz. There were at least three architects living on the block, and there were at least three doctors and a dentist all practicing in the area. The sculptor Gonzalo Fonseca lived and worked in the house where his family still lives. There were two feature writers and a wine critic for The New York Times, at least one senior editor for a major publisher, a tenor in the New York City Opera and a cabaret chanteuse. The block was a microcosm of the best of urban life — and my apologies to all I’ve left out. One Village block had all this, and there was still room for St. Vincent’s Hospital to occupy nearly half of the north side of the block and P.S. 41 one-third of the south. While real estate economics of recent years discourage these demographics, The Greenwich Lane makes an unprecedented leap away from that archetypal Greenwich Village block. Then there is authentic sense of place — genius loci. While I was in Dallas, I saw a lot of interesting — and in some cases quite good — architecture. However, it all seemed isolated both in time and place. It may be that over time, downtown Dallas will acquire some sense of history. But, for now, it feels like a massive space station that has re-
The Greenwich Lane is a leap away from that archetypal Greenwich Village block.
to a significant creative population, many of whose works had limited commercial potential. That it was a cultural center was not only important to the artistic population itself, but was also a benefit to all who lived in the Village, and was a major reason that many people who could have afforded to live on Park or Fifth Aves. chose the Village instead. When I moved to 11th St. a mere 42 years
cently landed on the prairie. The Village, though, has more than 300 years of continuous history. Some of its oldest features exist only in its irregular street patterns. But there are significant numbers of surviving, well-used buildings approaching 200 years in age. The challenge is to maintain this fabric, and the continuum of Village architecture, in ways that support the vibrant urban conditions that the Village has been known for — while preserving the authenticity that only comes with the passage of time. I think of the appraiser on “Antiques Roadshow” saying, “That’s a lovely piece but it’s a shame that you cleaned away all of the wonderful patina that built up over the centuries. You’ve removed most of the value.” The “value” of patina is not just for collectors. We care about it, we value it for its integral connection to the historical / cultural continuum. Of course, there needs to be the possibility for new construction in places like The Greenwich Village. My own view is that this ought not be slavish copies of older buildings but should respect the underlying criteria that define this special place. Unfortunately, I believe that here, The Greenwich Lane falls short. Stein is a Fellow of American Institute of Architects (FAIA) and principal and founder, elemental architecture LLC November 28, 2013
Developer claims dorm on track for old CHARAS site BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
November 28, 2013
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
lthough all is quiet on the old P.S. 64 front, developer Gregg Singer assured The Villager that the vacant, landmarked building will soon enough be transformed into an in-demand, state-of-the-art student dormitory. “Just waiting for approvals,” he said calmly in a recent, rare phone interview. “You know — it just takes time.” Singer purchased the former city-owned building at auction for a mere $3.2 million in 1998, but his plans to develop the property with a high-rise dormitory tower were shot down by the city, and ultimately defeated when the Bloomberg administration landmarked the building in 2006. Until the end of 2001, the address was home to CHARAS / El Bohio Cultural and Community Center. A group of local Puerto Rican activists, CHARAS had cleared the run-down eyesore of junkies and hookers and transformed the place into a neighborhood activist and arts hub. This April, the determined developer pitched a downscaled dorm plan to house up to 530 students in the existing, “H”-style, turn-of-the century school building. It would house students from The Cooper Union and Joffrey Ballet School, he said. But in May, more than 150 community activists, joined by local politicians and CHARAS Executive Director Chino Garcia, marched from the old school building, at 605 E. Ninth St., to Cooper Union’s Foundation Building to warn Cooper, “Don’t get in bed with Singer!” At the time, the developer’s workers were busy gutting the building for its upcoming makeover into a high-tech dorm. But more recently, the work suddenly stopped. However, Singer maintained all is going right according to plan. “We’ve completed all interior demolition, and we’re waiting for approvals to renovate the building,” he said last week. “Now it’s all just open [inside], and it’s ready for the construction. We’re just waiting for permits.” The interior construction should start “sometime in 2014,” he said. He expects that by August 2015, the new dorm will be ready for occupancy for that upcoming school year. So far, Singer said, four floors of the sixstory building (counting the basement) are spoken for. Joffrey Ballet is slated to get the basement level and ground floor, and Cooper the second and third floors. The basement level will also have a game room, health center, fitness center and theater. The plan is to open up the E. 10th St. street wall by adding windows, which “will add life to the street,” he said. He’s still looking for a school to lease out the top two floors. Asked if the dorm would take random university students from various schools, he said, no, the tenant or tenants
Developer Gregg Singer said his plan is to open up this wall on the E. 10th St. side of the old P.S. 64 with windows, which would “add life to the street.”
for these floors “would have to be affiliated with an institution.” He was confident he’ll be able to fill the building. “We did a study,” he said. “There is a 57,000-bed shortage for students. New York has 112 colleges.” He said that — although he doesn’t need to do this — he will be restoring the building’s exterior details that he had lopped off in a failed effort to overturn the building’s landmarking seven years ago. (At the time, one of his lawyers bluntly stated they were “scalping” the building.) The new facsimiles will be made of glass-fiber reinforced concrete, or G.F.R.C. Singer still thinks his modified tower plan for the site — the second, slightly shorter version, a 19-story dorm that would have preserved the old school’s front — was a great idea. “The tower — it was really a clever idea,” he reflected. “It was set back from the street. It was the same height as the Christadora House, and it was going to give the community $2 million.” Singer’s scheme called for a nonprofit to own the dorm, and for $2 million of the facility’s annual profit to be funneled to local nonprofit groups. In fact, he said, he only chopped off the old school’s exterior ornaments “to keep the ability to go up” and “preserve the cash flow
for the community,” adding, “The city gave the permit to do that work. “But they didn’t want it, so…,” he said of the defeated dorm tower scheme. “If you’re not building up, you might as well put them back,” he said of the facade details. The current cost of fixing up the building for the new dorm is around $40 million, he said. “Yeah, terrible condition,” he noted of the former CHARAS’s state. “It’s a full, gut renovation.” Asked if there would be any community facility inside, or if the community would be able to hold meetings there, he answered, “It’s a college dormitory. No, it doesn’t make any sense. … We tried that for years. We tried to do it that way, to do space for the community, space for their meetings. The councilmember didn’t want it,” he said, referring to Rosie Mendez. Like the neighborhood activists who have fought Singer’s plans for 15 years, Mendez supports turning the facility back into a community center. Susan Howard was part of the group arrested at CHARAS on the frosty-cold morning of Dec. 27, 2001. One hundred, helmetwearing riot police had massed on E. Ninth St., ready to carry out an eviction of the activists. Any potential demonstration was nipped in the bud as the police quickly swooped in
and arrested the activists, whose arms were chained together inside PVC tubes. “Giuliani did not, on his last day in office, want a protest,” she said. Howard, now a leader of the group SOCCC64 (Save Our Community Center CHARAS 64), said she looked at photos of the gutted space on the Massey Knakal real estate brokerage Web site and fears that Singer has cleared out the interior so aggressively that the whole building could well collapse. In fact, she believes that’s exactly his intent. “He’s removed all the interior walls,” she said. “There are just some thin beams there now. I can’t tell if they’re existing support beams or ones he’s installed.” Singer didn’t respond to follow-up calls about whether he is, in fact, trying to demolish the building under the guise of renovating it. Howard accused the developer of still harboring his dream of erecting a towering dorm on the site. But what about the East Village / Lower East Side rezoning that caps building heights on side streets at around eight stories? she was asked. She countered that Singer could always go to the Board of Standards and Appeals for a waiver. “How long should the building sit there unused?” she said. “If he can’t develop it, he should just return the building to the community.”
Post-Sandy initiative putting residents’ views ‘on the map’ BY SAM SPOKONY
new interactive, online map is helping Downtown residents provide input on post-Hurricane Sandy community reconstruction. The New York Rising program, an outgrowth of Governor Cuomo’s Office of Storm Recovery, now features interactive maps for six communities involved in the statewide effort, one of which focuses on Manhattan south of 14th St. The Lower Manhattan map can be accessed by visiting lowermanhattan.nyrisingmap.org. Visitors to the site can identify and label key neighborhood locations, including residential buildings, commercial centers, infrastructure systems and city parks. Residents are also able to highlight areas they believe contain particularly vulnerable populations, and they can provide additional input by writing comments on each location. “As a member of New York Rising’s Lower Manhattan Planning Committee, I’ve been actively trying to ensure that the consultants hired by the state have,
and use, the most accurate information about our neighborhood,” said Kerri Culhane, associate director of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, whose presence is already being felt on the interactive map. “This process is intended to be community-driven, and I encourage anyone with computer access to review the map and add comments.” Residents who want to get involved in that process can also attend New York Rising’s second public meeting for Lower Manhattan, which will take place at University Settlement’s Houston St. Center, at 273 Bowery, on Mon., Dec. 2, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Lower Manhattan Planning Committee hopes to produce a final plan by March 2014, which will help decide how up to $25 million in state funding should be used to rebuild parts of the neighborhood that were affected by Hurricane Sandy, and to build resilience against future storms. The committee is co-chaired by Catherine McVay-Hughes, the chairperson of Community Board 1, and Dan Ackerman, the chief of staff for the Downtown Alliance business improvement district.
Explore. Imagine. Create.
Creative Steps Early Care & Education Center: A play-based and child-centered program that supports children’s exploration and learning. Our state-of-the-art facilities with four preschool classrooms and one infant/ toddler classroom at 4 Washington Square Village opens January 2014.
New law broadens eligibility for tenants of Mitchell-Lamas BY SAM SPOKONY
newly adopted change to the Mitchell-Lama housing program will allow a wider range of middle-income families to enter the program. On Nov. 14 Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that makes it easier for a family with fewer than two dependents to qualify for a Mitchell-Lama unit. The law went into effect immediately. Now, any household that brings in more than 100 percent but less than 125 percent of the area median income will be eligible for the state-subsidized housing, even if they don’t have children. Families within that income range will still have to pay a rental surcharge in order to get a Mitchell-Lama unit. The legislation was sponsored by state Senator Daniel Squadron and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. “Thanks to our legislation, more families will have the chance to make a life here, no matter what their family looks like,” said Squadron, in a statement released on the day his bill was signed into law. “With the cost of housing steadily ris-
ing and income levels remaining stagnant, it is more important than ever to make affordable housing more accessible to a greater number of families,” said Silver, in a statement released that same day. New York City’s area median income for 2013 — as determined by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development — is $60,200 for an individual, $68,800 for a family of two, $77,400 for a family of three and $85,900 for a family of four. And 125 percent of that area median income is $75,250 for an individual, $86,000 for a family of two, $96,750 for a family of three and $107,375 for a family of four. Victor Papa, president of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and also a resident of Southbridge Towers (a Mitchell-Lama development), praised the newly approved expansion. “Anything that broadens eligibility and improves the Mitchell-Lama program is always welcome,” said Papa in a phone interview last week. “It’s noteworthy that Squadron and Silver sponsored this, and hopefully they’ll continue to be active in supporting legislation that will save Mitchell-Lama in a city that sorely needs it.”
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Creative Steps Early Care & Education Center: a program of University Settlement 4 Washington Square Village, entrance on the corner of Mercer St. & Bleecker St. www.universitysettlement.org Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
November 28, 2013
Appeal to fight co-location at L.E.S. high school BY SAM SPOKONY
pponents of a proposed co-location at a Lower East Side high school have filed an appeal with the city’s Board of Education to try to stop it. The Department of Education proposed in August to co-locate a new high school (designated 01M203) in 200 Monroe St., currently home to University Neighborhood High School. Although D.O.E.’s Panel for Education Policy voted in October to approve the colocation, the plan has faced strong opposition from U.N.H.S. staff and parents, as well as the District 1 Community Education Council and local politicians. Opponents say the U.N.H.S. building lacks the space and resources to support a co-location, especially since the new high school would be a Career and Technical Education, or C.T.E., school. C.T.E. schools combine typical academic study with workforce-skills programs, and generally require additional, specialized educational resources. “This is not a facility that lends itself to sharing space, and it just doesn’t have the infrastructure to support two schools,” said Lisa Donlan, District 1 C.E.C. president. “We’re not opposed to the existence of the new school, but we really just don’t think this is the right co-location.” She noted U.N.H.S. currently has no real gym, auditorium or cafeteria space. U.N.H.S. students use the school’s lobby for all those purposes. Plus, U.N.H.S. currently enrolls around 250 students — which already crowds the building’s hallways — while the new public school would add roughly 500 students to the same space. Before a lawsuit is filed in State Supreme Court against the co-location, opponents must file an appeal with the Board of Education, D.O.E.’s governing body. If that appeal is denied, the lawsuit can proceed. Arthurt Schwartz, a local Democratic district leader and civil rights lawyer, filed an appeal with B.O.E. on Nov. 14, seeking to stop the U.N.H.S. co-location. He said, if the appeal is denied, he would proceed with a lawsuit. “The [U.N.H.S.] faculty, administrators and students are all united on this issue,” Schwartz said the day after filing the appeal. “It’s simply not a well-thought-out plan by D.O.E., and they clearly haven’t taken into account public opinion.” The appeal lists Councilmember Margaret Chin, plus a parent and a student from U.N.H.S. as the petitioners. “We filed this petition in solidarity with the students, parents and educators whose voices have been ignored by D.O.E. in its shortsighted plan to co-locate another school within U.N.H.S.,” Chin said. “This co-location would rob students of their right to an enriched and meaningful educa-
November 28, 2013
tional experience.” Chin previously wrote to D.O.E. opposing the co-location. She also held a rally against the plan in August, and testified twice against the proposal before its approval. D.O.E. declined to comment on the appeal, since the legal action is pending. Schwartz also plans to file a federal lawsuit against D.O.E., on the grounds co-location would violate the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. According to D.O.E. statistics, under IDEA, 28 percent of U.N.H.S.’s students require special education services. Also, U.N.H.S. currently enrolls seven disabled students requiring wheelchairs. The school only has one elevator for those students, and it can only hold one wheelchair at a time. “It’s clear the proposed co-location will make it impossible to provide the space and resources needed for disabled students,” Schwartz stated. D.O.E.’s proposed co-location at U.N.H.S. may have initially been planned to include a charter school, sources contend. “My understanding was that the new public high school was originally planned to be co-located with Murry Bergtraum [High School],” said Donlan. She added that she and many others familiar with the situation believe those original plans were to co-locate a Success Academy charter school with U.N.H.S. Yet, a current D.O.E. proposal calls for colocating a Success Academy charter school at Murry Bergtraum. “Whatever happened between D.O.E. and Success Academy on that issue was not done transparently,” said Donlan, adding that D.O.E. officials have never fully answered her questions about that. Some believe Success Academy was unfairly allowed to choose where to co-locate, given that D.O.E. is supposed to assign colocations impartially. “Eva was told D.O.E. wanted to co-locate her at U.N.H.S., and then she looked at the building and said it was inadequate,” Schwartz claimed, referring to Eva Moskowitz, Success Academy’s founder and C.E.O. “So D.O.E. let her choose Murry Bergtraum instead,” he said, “just to make her happy.” Asked if Success Academy originally had the option to co-locate at U.N.H.S., a D.O.E. spokesperson did not deny that. Instead, the spokesperson declined comment, again citing the pending legal action against the U.N.H.S. co-location. A Success Academy spokesperson, asked the same question, at first denied the claim outright. But when the reporter informed her that D.O.E. had not officially denied it, the spokesperson acknowledged Success Academy may have had an opportunity to see U.N.H.S. and other possible co-location sites before D.O.E.’s formal proposal. Success Academy representatives were “shown spaces” to see what the facilities were like, and so reps could “see why one was good or better than the others,” she said.
Is Village View eyeing going private via new rules? BY GERARD FLYNN
nder the New York City Charter, each city agency is allowed to make internal rule changes it deems necessary to carry out its function, without a vote before the City Council. This gives agencies like the Department of Housing Preservation and Development the authority to make sweeping changes with potentially broad implications, such as recent rule changes to an affordable housing program dating back to the 1950s. Before the rules can be implemented, however, the public must be given a chance to weigh in. And on Nov. 6 at H.P.D.’s offices, many individuals did, upset at proposed changes to the Mitchell-Lama program, enacted in 1955 to make housing affordable for low- and middle-income people. Some of the proposed rule changes are minor and have even drawn praise. But a number of them provoked the scorn of irate tenants, housing activists and even city politicians, who see the changes as facilitating the deregulation of thousands of affordable units currently protected under the program. Chief among their concerns is the rule governing succession rights. Specifically, the proposed modification
would eliminate succession rights for uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces. Also, H.P.D. would only authorize succession if the primary leaseholder has died or been transferred to a nursing home, leaving the next applicant with 90 days to apply, much too short, critics said, for a relative in mourning. Ambiguity about what exactly defines a “surviving” spouse has also left many L.G.B.T. activists demanding clarification, amid concern that the parameters may be discriminatory. Local City Councilmember Rosie Mendez submitted testimony at the hearing. She did praise changes that give preference to veterans. But she slammed the rest of the proposed rules because they “would have a disparate impact on heterosexual or L.G.B.T. couples who choose not to marry.” Mendez expressed grave concern about one of the provision’s proposals, which, many charge, would facilitate Mitchell-Lamas transforming into Housing Development Fund Corporations (H.D.F.C.’s). Allowing such a change would eventually end the MitchellLama program as we know it, she said. Because state tax subsidies also fund the Mitchell-Lama program, D.H.C.R. is charged with oversight of many these developments in the city. However, the new rules strictly affect buildings under the oversight of H.P.D. At Village View, an East Village Mitchell-La-
ma complex, tenants raised these fears, amid concern the rule changes would accelerate deregulation and result in a loss of their rights and, ultimately, eviction. Some tenants spoke approvingly of news that single occupants in two- and three-bedroom apartments would face a shift to smaller units. But deregulation for a fixed-income tenant could spell serious trouble, noted Sue Susman, a retired Brooklyn College law professor who lives in a former Mitchell-Lama that privatized. Tenants in a privatized buildings, for example, can make demands on management, such as for major capital improvements (M.C.I.’s), tacking substantial increases onto maintenance costs and creating serious problems for elderly tenants with only a pension and, thus, the inability to meet a substantial maintenance hike. At Village View, many tenants must pay around $20,000 to get an apartment, after spending time on the waiting list. That is substantially less than the kind of mortgage private shareholders would be forced to pay. However, rumors about impending privatization are unfounded, said Dr. Frank Gardner, the treasurer of the complex’s board of directors. Village View, which opened in 1964, today has just under 1,300 units. Gardner said that, if anything, complaints the board is getting from many tenants about the proposed rule changes
Heart Expertise Is in Your Community
may drive them closer to privatization. “These rules are making people ask, ‘Why should we stay with H.P.D.?’” he said. He added that H.P.D. has too many rules as is, effectively making tenants “vassals” to the agency, and with less control as a consequence. Since news got around about the proposal, tenants have been getting increasingly irate and have been asking a lot more about privatization, he noted. Gardner added that, while he isn’t an expert on the issue, and while the board has no intentions, at this stage, of deregulating the complex, he is getting up to speed, because of increasing chatter from tenants. So, he said, he feels “a responsibility to know more” about privatization. In a letter to state Senator Brad Hoylman, Daisy Klein, an elderly resident, pleaded for his attendance at the hearing. She told Hoylman the new rules are “giving ammunition to those who want Village View to go private,” and that the changes would “greatly handicap” attempts to keep Village View in the Mitchell-Lama program. Hoylman and fellow state Senator Brian Kavanagh, whose districts include many buildings in the program, agreed with Klein. In a letter submitted at the hearing, they criticized the proposed changes in succession rights and the proposal’s provisions that undermine the affordable housing program.
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November 28, 2013
Illegal hotel group gone, now landlords cashing in BY SAM SPOKONY
ven though one of the city’s illegal hotel kingpins has now been shut down, housing advocates say that the resulting loss of rent-stabilized apartments is still a major problem. A year after the city filed a lawsuit against Smart Apartments — also known as Hotel Toshi — for violating a state law that bans tourist rentals of less than 30 days in residential apartments, Mayor Bloomberg announced on Nov. 19 that a settlement had been reached. Smart Apartments will pay a $1 million penalty to the city, and is now permanently prevented from doing business in the Big Apple, according to a statement released that day. The city’s lawsuit cited about 50 buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn that contained units used by Smart Apartments as illegal hotel rooms. Seventeen of those buildings are located in the Downtown Manhattan area — 14th St. and below — according to a list released by the Mayor’s Office. This newspaper learned last week that, in at least one of those buildings, apartments that were formerly rent-stabilized
— and which were, for years, used by Smart Apartments as illegal hotel units — are now being leased by the landlord for market rate rents. “Our landlord was completely in cahoots with [Smart Apartments],” said a resident of 79 Clinton St., one of the buildings cited in the lawsuit, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal from the landlord. “Before [Smart Apartments] came in, the whole building was rent-stabilized,” the tenant said. “Then, they started using five of the apartments as illegal hotel rooms. And now that the illegal hotels are gone, we know that all those units now have tenants who are paying market rate.” Gilman Management Corporation, the owner of 79 Clinton St., did not respond to a request for comment. Housing advocates believe that landlords are now capitalizing off their association with Smart Apartments — which allowed them to use residential units for years without listing a legal tenant — by illegally deregulating apartments that were once rent-stabilized. Those advocates are also criticizing the state’s department of Homes and Community Renewal — which oversees rent regulation — for not launching an inves-
tigation into these allegedly illegal practices by the landlords. “What we’re seeing is landlords using the vagueness of H.C.R. regulations to install illegal hotels in rent-stabilized units,” said Tom Cayler, who leads the West Side Neighborhood Alliance’s Illegal Hotel Committee. “And if the landlords get caught, it’s actually a win-win situation for them, because even though they no longer have an illegal hotel unit, they now have a free market unit. And H.C.R. is doing nothing to rectify it. They have no interest, as far as I can see, in reregulating units that were used for illegal hotels.” Cayler added that he believes many units across the city have been unlawfully deregulated as a result of illegal hotel use, and that the full impact of this practice will not be revealed until a thorough investigation is conducted. H.C.R. did not respond to a request for comment. State Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, whose district covers parts of Hell’s Kitchen and the Upper West Side, has also been pushing H.C.R. to investigate this issue, after learning that 89 rent-regulated apartments in a W. 73rd St. building may have been unlawfully deregulated
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through illegal hotel use. In a July 2012 letter to H.C.R., Rosenthal asked the state agency to examine the rent histories of each unit in the building, to determine which had been illegally deregulated and to “aggressively enforce” rent regulations for those units. Rosenthal followed that up with another letter this past January, but never got a response from H.C.R. in writing, she said. Instead, an H.C.R. representative reportedly told her that investigating the allegedly illegal deregulations was not a priority for the agency at that time. “I thought it was such a wasted opportunity,” said Rosenthal, speaking last week. “When all those units suddenly became deregulated after the illegal hotel operation was gone, it was a perfect time for [H.C.R.] to step in and recapture them. There are just too many New Yorkers in need of affordable housing for this to be overlooked.” Rosenthal continued to call on H.C.R. to launch an investigation, especially now that Smart Apartments has officially been shut down. “I would love for H.C.R. to take a stronger stand on this now,” she said. “It’s such a simple case to make, but it just requires some effort.”
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November 28, 2013
Art and tech intersect in an East Village toy store BY BOB KRASNER
PHOTOS BY BOB KRASNER
oys have changed. When this writer was a kid, we made some pretty cool stuff out of cardboard boxes. And we didn’t have cell phones — but we had two cans and a piece of string that stretched all the way over to my next-door neighbor’s house, making late-night conversations possible without the help of the phone company. Nowadays, though, all you need to make something really cool is a program like CAD or ZBrush that will produce an STL (Surface Tessellation) file that will be processed by GCode, so that the build file can be fed to an Additive Manufacturing device that will output in either ABS or PLA. Sorry if I lost you along the way. Although the technology has been around for 30 years, 3D printing is just now making its way into the culture. And thanks to the proprietors of the tiny East Village toy shop CUBO, at 521 E. 12th St., it has become accessible and even affordable. Proprietors Victor De Los Angeles and Julie Kim met when their previous occupations — hotel manager and floral designer, respectively — intersected. Between them they had various art, graphic design and computer science backgrounds, but they bonded over their love of what are known as plush and art toys. It didn’t take long for them to realize that they were not going to be happy unless their careers changed direction. The initial idea for their store was that it would be a something-for-everyone source for collectable art toys, with everything from a Happy Labbit Blind Box ($5) to oneof-a-kind works, such as the customized Munny (a blank form created by Kidrobot) creature that co-owner De Los Angeles is working on now (estimated price, $700). They realized, however, that selling plush toys and DIY (do it yourself) creatures was not going to sustain the business. Enter the 3D printer, which De Los Angeles, luckily, had an aptitude for. The 3D printing process is not as simple as dropping an object into a slot and, a few minutes later, a bell chimes and a perfect reproduction comes out the other end. In fact, it’s a bit more complicated. First, a three-dimensional file — the aforementioned STL — must be created. If the artists can produce the files themselves, they are halfway there. If not, De Los Angeles is adept at taking a two-dimensional drawing and creating the necessary 3D file, and he charges exceptionally reasonable rates to do so. Once the file is ready, there’s plenty of time to catch up on your reading while the printer slowly puts layer after layer of plastic down to create the desired object. It took 13 hours to create the pair of 9-inch-high horns
Victor De Los Angeles checking the 3D-printed horns that he had just applied to his creation.
(which would retail for $45 each) that adorn De Los Angeles’s work in progress. DIY art toys are not the only use for the technology. Inventors instantly realized that the 3D printer would be an affordable way to create prototypes, and they have been doing so, avoiding the previously expensive costs of machining, injection molds and such. (Unfortunately, some are even using it to make plastic guns that fire real metal bullets.) De Los Angeles’s pricing makes it possible for just about anyone to produce a tangible facsimile of the idea in his or her head. Speaking of ideas, CUBO’s owners have plenty of them. Future plans for the store include having smaller printers running in the middle of the place, turning out CUBO souvenirs while you shop. Also in the works are book signings, art shows and new-release parties for limited-edition and unique pieces, in conjunction with the artists. Ah, progress. Of course, I love the idea that I can produce a 3D file of myself and put a mini-me on the shelf. But I also think that it’s pretty cool that you can still make a phone out of two cans and some string. CUBO, 521 E. 12th St., 646-370-3351, www.CuboNY.com. To join the mailing list, write to email@example.com.
Victor De Los Angeles and Julie Kim in their E. 12th St. shop CUBO. Kim is holding a “Worrible,” created by artist Andrew Bell. November 28, 2013
‘Hello, President Sexton?... Can you hear us now?’ BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
ast Friday, alumni members of N.Y.U. Divest held a call-in day of action that generated dozens of telephone calls into President John Sexton’s office, urging the university to divest from the top 200 fossil fuel companies. Four alumni and several students braved the rain to kick off the call-ins in Washington Square. The alumni call-ins followed a panel discussion at N.Y.U. the week before that drew more than 60 students and leading activists on the issue. Activists say that, after building a new cogeneration plant and taking other laudable sustainability measures, N.Y.U. must “continue to fulfill its mission of global leadership by divesting from fossil fuels.” The university provided a statement to administrators on Friday to “help them respond” to the divestment phone calls. “N.Y.U. believes that the most important step it can take to reduce climate change is to reduce our carbon footprint,” the statement said. “That’s why we have invested nearly $125 million just a few years ago to create a state-of-the-art cogeneration plant that, together with other steps — such as installing high-efficiency lighting and automatic switches to reduce electrical consumption — has enabled N.Y.U. to reduce its carbon
footprint by approximately 40 percent over the last six years. Through our widely recognized and ongoing sustainability efforts, we continue to actively pursue steps to reduce our carbon footprint even further.” The statement continued, “The role of the endowment is to provide financial resources for students and faculty now and in perpetuity. Like other universities [the N.Y.U. statement linked to a statement by Harvard University], N.Y.U. believes it should be cautious and circumspect about using the endowment as a vehicle for expression of political opinion. This is partly because our focus should be on maximizing returns that can support the university financially, and partly because, in a university as diverse as N.Y.U., there are a wide range of political opinions on any matter, including whether divestment is the best route to combat climate change. “As we have said in the past,” the statement concluded, “there is a mechanism for judging whether the weight of campus sentiment about a political issue is sufficiently great that it should be taken into account in our investment strategies, and that is for the matter to be considered by the University Senate. So far, this issue has not come forward there.” An N.Y.U. spokesperson did not immediately answer The Villager’s question on whether Sexton will agree to meet with N.Y.U. Divest. But the statement did say that other top university administrators have previously met with the group.
N.Y.U. alumni, with student activists in Washington Square, placed calls to President John Sexton’s office on Friday, urging that the university divest from major fossil fuel corporations.
Essex Market vendor fights to hold on to her stall BY HEATHER DUBIN
November 28, 2013
PHOTO BY HEATHER DUBIN
hen Carmen Salvador arrived at work last month, she found her stall at the Essex Street Market closed, with a new lock on the gate. Inside, there was a note from the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which operates the Lower East Side market space, informing her it was responsible for shuttering her stall, Three Brothers. E.D.C. also stated it would not renew her lease, and informed Salvador she could contact a maintenance worker to retrieve her merchandise, which is currently still locked inside the stall. E.D.C. has filed a lawsuit to evict Salvador from the space. In a telephone interview, Carlina Rivera, director of programming and services at Good Old Lower East Side and a Democratic district leader, spoke about the case. Rivera has accompanied Salvador to Civil Court twice regarding the matter. Salvador is a native Spanish speaker, and has difficulty understanding English. According to Rivera, Salvador has maintained Three Brothers — where she sold clothing, Avon products and other items, such as lighters, sunglasses and jewelry — for 23 years. The stall is named for Salvador’s three sons she raised on the Lower East Side.
The city has padlocked Carmen Salvador’s Three Brothers stall — with Salvador’s merchandise inside — in the Essex Street Market.
Vendors at the market, at Delancey and Essex Sts., are expected to have their stalls open during specific time frames and days, which is mandated in their contract. Planned absences also require advance notice to the E.D.C. “The language does say in the contract that they can terminate at will,” Rivera said of E.D.C. “And if the vendor doesn’t adhere to guidelines, then they will issue a violation.” Salvador received a letter from the agency on Aug. 19, stating her one-year lease would terminate Sept. 30, and that she was not eligible for a renewal. “Typically she’d sign every year or every two years, and there wasn’t an issue,” Rivera said. “Twenty-three years she’d been there.
“E.D.C. never issued her any violations. They mentioned a lot of their warnings were verbal. The security guard translated at least once to her, but he’s not an interpreter. They had talked to her about her attendance.” Over the past few years, Salvador has experienced some medical issues that have prevented her from maintaining perfect attendance. Rivera asserted that Salvador had previously produced a doctor’s note, and had been in compliance with the contract for most of her 23-year tenure. Salvador also had surgery outside of the country, and had submitted documentation before she left. Rivera noted that an E.D.C. attorney claimed Salvador was shut down due to her attendance. The city has been increasing food vending at the market, but Salvador has a non-food stall. “One comment made by their counsel was that they’re leaning toward a pure food market,” Rivera said of E.D.C. Rivera is concerned that when the Essex Street Market is relocated to its new site close by as part of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area project, current vendors under contract will not be protected or receive comparable rents. “They did say they were going to honor everyone’s original contract, even if you weren’t a food market owner,” Rivera noted. “We want to make sure what was originally agreed upon is followed strictly.”
Salvador’s case has been adjourned a few times. The judge recommended Salvador be placed on a probation period, and if she failed to have perfect attendance for 100 days, the judge would order her to vacate the space. However, E.D.C. has refused to negotiate, and maintains Salvador’s contract is terminated. Salvador now has legal representation, and the case was adjourned on Nov. 14 to allow for review. The next court date will likely be in January. “Carmen Salvador has no income, and she wants to work,” said Rivera, who is also a member of Community Board 3. “She might apply for benefits to pay rent; she can’t rely on her family. This could turn out to be a very long case.” When asked for comment, a city Law Department spokesperson e-mailed a statement saying the department could not respond because the matter is in court. “However,” the statement added, “we strongly dispute Ms. Salvador’s version of events and allegations that E.D.C. violated the law.” In a separate e-mail exchange, city officials also stated that Salvador’s stall has not been leased to another storeowner. However, her permit has expired, and the stall is no longer under her control. Additionally, city officials assert that Salvador can access her stall to retrieve her items, but has declined to do so.
The Adventures of an Underemployed Urban Elf ing football for over 30 years and generally spend every Sunday watching the games at my fave watering hole, Lucky Jack’s (129 Orchard St., btw. Delancey & Rivington Sts.). I highly advise going there to play pool, drink perfectly poured Guinness and support the most awesome neighborhood bar on earth. It is one of the few “douche-free” zones left on the Lower East side and every afternoon there is like an episode of “Cheers” — but way weirder.
Rev. Jen, on drunk arcade driving and leaving one’s comfort zone BY REV. JEN (rev-jen.com)
FOUR WAYS TO EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS
his month’s column is all about leaving one’s comfort zone, trying new things — and, of course, utilizing funemployment until the inevitable, tragic day when one becomes reemployed. Herein, as usual, I will share tips on how to have fun in the “city that never sleeps” even when said city is so heavily medicated that most residents do nothing but sleep and/or bore you to death. There’s still cool stuff to do every night (or day) of the week in Fun City, even if you are broke and suffering from existential despair.
Since this month’s installment of “Underemployed Elf” is about expanding one’s horizons with no budget, ambition or self-esteem, I momentarily forced myself off of the barstool on a Sunday in the name of experiential journalism. For this column, I even left the borough of Manhattan. I realize I am not a war correspondent, but it wasn’t easy. Yet from my hard labor ye shall now reap the benefits and learn about cheap, unusual stuff to do here. Maybe you even have a date you’re trying to impress but can only stretch the $200 dollars a week you “make” on unemployment so far. No worries. There are at least four ways that you can still rock, people.
A BEAUTIFUL RUT
Let’s start with Sunday. It’s generally considered a “day of rest.” Though I have never been to church and find the Bible totally confusing, I think this is because God was so exhausted after creating the world that he or she had to sit on his or her ass for at least one day. Adding to the confusion, someone years later created football — wherein everyone who isn’t actually playing gets to sit on their collective asses imbibing frothy beverages while continually checking their “Fantasy Football” stats. For those of you not in the know, Fantasy Football is like Dungeons and Dragons for 40-year-olds, minus the wizards and elves. Because I enjoy watching men in tight pants play with balls, I have been follow-
TWO BITS ARCADE
What to do that’s even less intellectually stimulating than watching football? Getting inebriated and playing arcade games! Luckily, there is now a retro arcade on the Lower East Side that caters to this activity. Two Bits Arcade (153 Essex St., at Stanton St.) features a plethora of totally bitchin’ games that help you kill time before you die! When you are 41, unemployed, unemployable and feeling lost, this is the answer to your prayers. Despite the fact that my only video game At Two Bits arcade, Rev. Jen demonstrates the only way to drive drunk.
REV. JEN, continued on p. 18
November 28, 2013
Cheap thrills, on a field trip to Brooklyn REV. JEN, continued from p. 17
experience consists of mastering “Pong” as a child, upon entering Two Bits, I immediately fell into a downward spiral of extreme video game addiction. In “real life” I would never compromise anyone’s safety by drinking and driving — but the good news is that, at Two Bits, you can drink a lot of beer and then get in a make-believe car featured in a game called “Cruisin’ World.” I am terrible at it, but that is not a deterrent from inserting my life savings (which can be counted in quarters) into Cruisin’ World’s slot in hopes that I might someday rise above 10th Place. Luckily, when I lift up my couch cushions, there is enough spare change hiding under the pink velour to feed a nation (don’t tell my seven roommates!). Sadly, I am still in 10th Place (also known as last place) even after “turning my friends on” to this paradise and visiting about 30 times. After my boyfriend witnessed me playing Cruisn’ World, he simply said, “I’m never getting in a car where you are behind the wheel.” While it is obvious that I am a terrible driver, I am apparently adept at hunting. Like drunk driving, hunting is not something I would do in real life — but “hunting games” are a whole other story. On a recent visit to Two Bits, my comedian friend, Mike Raphone, introduced me to “Big Buck HD,” a game where you can pretend to hunt and kill animals even if you love animals very much and have been a vegetarian for 15 years. It involves pointing fake guns at fake animals and temporarily inhabiting the spirit of an asshole hunter. Not to toot my own horn too profusely, but I am a natural at this. The only thing holding me back is that I have trouble killing a moose — even a virtual one.
Two Bits also has pinball machines. So it’s the perfect destination if you wanna feel like an extra in “Tommy.” Since I do want to feel like an extra in “Tommy,” I only wear retro outfits to the retro arcade, which enhances the experience (hence the denim jumpsuit). Also enhancing the experience is the fact that Two Bits serves cheap beer and pizza! Switching gears and also realizing some readers of this column might actually be sober adults who don’t drink beer, watch football or play video games, I attempted, as mentioned previously, to leave the borough of Manhattan and do something intellectually more stimulating. Unsurprisingly, this led to disaster — and the second portion of this column: “Field Trip to Brooklyn.”
RIDING THE SUBWAY FOR ENDLESS HOURS
The impetus for my field trip was a kindly friend who gave me a gift certificate to Film Biz Recycling — a non-profit prop shop located at 540 President Street in Brooklyn. Founded with my partner, Courtney Fathom Sell, A.S.S. Studios (a.k.a. Art Star Scene Studios) is the most underfunded motion picture studio in history. It’s so incredibly broke, we look for any opportunity to obtain props. Our new feature, “Werewolf Bitches From Outer Space,” has an approximate budget of $28, which means we can afford beer for the cast and not much else. However, we made our first feature, “Satan, Hold My Hand” for $27, so we’re moving on up. Unfortunately, the first stop on my field trip was the subway where I learned that the one place the MTA isn’t going is “my way.” Generally, I only take the subway when the phrases “open bar” and “free food” are involved — but in this instance, my commitment to the film outweighed my hesitation. Leaving one’s neighborhood puts one
at risk for many things, death chief among them. The New York City subway is known to induce panic attacks, nausea and high blood pressure. When I’m on the subway, it will often stop in a dark tunnel for over five minutes and I think either, “terrorists” or “apocalypse.” However once I’m off the subway I’m always thankful that I’m still alive. The subway reminds us that life is precious. With this in mind, I boarded a local R Train, hoping for the best. Almost immediately, the train was rerouted due to a mysterious fire on the tracks and I remembered my mantra: Never leave your neighborhood — and if you do, bring beer. After about an hour, the train then inexplicably dropped me off in the Wall Street region.
UNEXPECTED TRIP TO WALL STREET
I have no desire to occupy Wall Street. In fact, I want to stay as far away from it as humanly possible, given it’s full of a-holes. But, since the MTA dropped me off there, I had little choice. Luckily, I was wearing sneakers so I ran back to the Lower East Side.
FILM BIZ RECYCLING
I needed at least 24 hours to recuperate from my MTA experience and find someone willing to endure a subway ride with me. Luckily, my friend Kat, who hails from Boston, arrived in town the next day, as she was escaping the Red Sox parade. The subway might be terrible, but a Red Sox parade is worse. Together, we fearlessly boarded the R. We hoped, after visiting the prop shop, to swing by Beacon’s Closet (88 N. 11th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn). It’s my fave vintage store and Kat hoped to sell a pair of boots there that she was carrying. But when we made it to
Union Street and Kat tried to disembark, her boots somehow got caught in the closing subway doors and the ensuing chaos resembled a scene from “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.” Finally, the doors reopened and we made it to our destination. The first thing that greeted us upon entering Film Biz was a skeleton in an electric chair. Awesome! Putting an impoverished screenwriter in a prop shop is like putting a kid in a candy shop. I simply could not believe my eyes. There were vats of fake body parts, bouffant wigs, buckets of blood, vintage electronics, a creepy O.J. Simpson mask, tons of scary baby dolls, a “Traction Kit,” crazy costumes, a disco ball and more. Sadly, the body parts, which I need for the film, are available on a rental basis only and there were no werewolf masks. However, we managed to pick up two cop uniforms, a bucket of blood and a ridiculous bonnet for a scene wherein a werewolf eats a member of the Westboro Baptist Church. We never made it to Beacon’s Closet, because we stayed at Film Biz till closing time. The only other places I stay at until closing time are bars. This speaks volumes about the awesomeness of Film Biz. If you are a low-budget filmmaker, it is heaven. So there you have it. Unfortunately, my days of video game-addicted, boozesoaked madness might soon come to an end, as I’ve actually been on a few job interviews recently. *Fingers crossed* no one hires me, because I’m having way too much fun. Originally from Middle Earth, Maryland, Saint Reverend Jen Miller is an “Art Star, Troll Museum curator, writer, painter, Voice of the Downtrodden & Tired and Patron Saint of the Uncool.” Her latest book is “BDSM 101.” Rev. Jen’s Anti-Slam, a free event, happens every Wed., 8pm, at Old Man Hustle (39 Essex St., btw. Grand & Hester Sts.). Visit rev-jen.com.
Theater for the New City • 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net
SAMANTHA AND THE GLASS CEILING Written by TOM ATTEA Directed by MARK MARCANTE Music Composed by ARTHUR ABRAMS Choreography by ANGELA HARRIELL
Thursday - Sunday Nov 29 - Dec 1 Thu-Sat 8pm, Sun 3pm All Seats $10, tdf@9
THREE OF A KIND SHAKESPEARE AND ELIZABETH I: WITH TWO THE REALITY SHOW WILDCARDS Written & Directed by BOB HOMEYER
Wednesday - Sunday Nov. 27 - Dec. 1
Wed - Sat at 8pm Sun at 3pm & 8pm (No Perf. Thursday, 11/28) All Seats $15 $10 Studt’s/Sr’s tdf@$9
Written by PHOEBE LEGERE Directed by DAVID “ZEN” MANSLEY Thursday - Sunday Nov. 29 - Dec. 15 Thu-Sat 8pm, Sun 3pm All Seats $15/tdf@$9
TNC’s Programs are funded in part by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts
November 28, 2013
Complex Cosme’s good cause Filipino photographer’s NYC debut will help typhoon relief
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST & TALLY BECK CONTEMPORARY
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE ARTIST & TALLY BECK CONTEMPORARY
“Mater Dolorosa Protectrix” (digital photograph on canvas, 34 1/8 x 27 1/8 in, 2013). Niccolo Cosme’s solo exhibition is on view through Dec. 22, at Tally Beck Contemporary.
ART THE ALTAR BOY: NICCOLO COSME’S SOLO EXHIBITION Through December 22 At Tally Beck Contemporary 42 Rivington St. (btw. Eldridge & Forsyth Sts.) Gallery Hours: Tues.-Sun., 12-6pm Call 646-678-3433 Visit tallybeckcontemporary.com
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
urrently living in Manila, Filipino photographer Niccolo Cosme says that although his city was spared from the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, “We started to feel its impact day by day. We have never seen anything of this magnitude, where communities, towns and provinces were washed out. We found ourselves in volunteer work every night, assisting in relief operations, at the airbase where the refugees are flown from the typhoon-affected areas. It felt like we were at war. Work, family, the whole Philippines is affected by this event.” When Haiyan hit just over a week before Cosme was set to make his NYC debut as a solo artist, November 20’s opening night reception at Tally Beck Contemporary was hastily reorganized as a benefit. All of the
“Sagittae Sebastiani” (digital photograph on canvas, 22 ½ x 19 ½ in, 2012), part of Niccolo Cosme’s solo exhibition at Tally Beck Contemporary.
usual festivities took place, but the evening’s centerpiece was an auction of artwork by Cosme and fellow Filipino artist Lenore Lim — which raised $900 for Red Cross relief efforts. Donations will accepted at two upcoming talks directly related to the subject matter covered in Cosme’s solo exhibition. On December 11, Tally Beck (whose gallery specializes in Asian contemporary art) discusses Cosme’s use of religious imagery in “The Art of Ecstasy: The Legacy of Sexuality in Counter-Reformation Religious Art.” On December 17, Tally Beck Contemporary will present “Family Tree: Niccolo Cosme and the Photo Personification” — a lecture by NYU’s Anne Hoy (who teaches art history). Both events begin with a reception at 6pm, followed by
the talk at 7:30pm. As for the basis of these talks, Cosme’s “The Altar Boy” is comprised of 16 large-scale “personification photographs” drawn from the artist’s background as a gay man growing up in the intensely Catholic culture of the Philippines. Inspired by the manner in which Christian imagery was adjusted to the context of different cultures, Cosme uses live models to stage photographs whose hyper-realism, says Beck, “recalls the surrealism of Pierre et Gilles” while referencing ecstatic and hagiographical imagery — Reformation-era religious painting and sculpture “that focused on emotionally charged images of saints. These works also blurred the lines between sexual and spiritual ecstasy, and we see this ambiguity in Cosme’s personified photographs.” November 28, 2013
Shocking! Mink Stole is ‘warm, gentle and surprisingly normal’ CD delivers a theatrically emotional, quiet cabaret set BY TRAV S.D.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
ver the course of her long career, Mink Stole has been associated with many shocking projects. But the big shock about her new CD, “Do Re Mink,” is how tasteful it is. After all, her frequent collaborator John Waters wrote the book on bad taste — literally (it’s called “Shock Value: A Tasteful Book About Bad Taste”). So I think I can be forgiven for expecting the album to contain punk music, something sort of Patti Smith-like. Or perhaps some sort of
big tacky parody. One can easily picture something along the lines of Tracey Ullman’s 1983 hit song and video, “They Don’t Know.” But while Stole’s most famous screen characters can best be described as monstrous, in real life she comes off as warm, gentle and — a most surprisingly — normal, a sort of Baby Boomer Shirley Jones. Compared with my preconceptions, “Do Re Mink” is what I would describe as a quiet cabaret set. It’s not without funny nods to her famous persona, though. Tunes include the theme song to the Waters film “Female Trouble” and an anthem to Bal-
Mink Stole’s CD is a tasteful treat.
timore by Randy Newman. Most of the tracks are jazzy and piano-based, and like I say, quiet, with a brushed drums kind of mood. Mink’s voice is lovely, relaxed and theatrically emotional. Almost all of the songs have some kind of ironic edge, subtly juxtaposed with her straight-faced renditions, which must go over like gangbusters in live performance. One of the highlights of the record is her French language version of the 1966 Sonny and Cher classic “Bang Bang (I Shot My Baby Down).” But the best new find of the bunch has to be a tune called “No Nose Nanook,” a mock lament about an Eskimo girl with a very special handicap. It seems this is the Mink Stole record fans were expecting after all. “Do Re Mink” can be purchased by visiting minkstole.com ($15, $25 for an autographed copy).
Just Do Art A JOHN WATERS CHRISTMAS From having doggie doo for dinner to fending off the unwanted advances of a giant lobster, John Waters has a knack for making bad taste feel good. Of course, in Waters’ capable hands, there’s a big difference between celebrating bad taste and elevating what’s just plain distasteful. You need look no further for an example of that than the nearest “Housewives” reality show. Their trashy,
train wreck shenanigans are far less appealing than the Baltimore filmmaker’s self-proclaimed “celluloid atrocities” in early works such as “Multiple Maniacs” and “Pink Flamingos.” Waters’ up-for-anything drag collaborator Divine may be gone — but the renegade aesthetic they cultivated is alive and well, and placed under a tree that’ll be toppled if Santa doesn’t deliver on those coveted cha-cha heels (see “Female Trouble” for the priceless context of that reference — a scene based on an incident from Waters’ childhood, when the holiday tree fell on Grandma). Create some precious memories of your own, by attending “A John Waters Christmas.” Performed only twice this December, the filmmaker, essayist and bane of the Catholic League’s existence will “cruise into town on his sleigh full of smut, spreading yuletide cheer and lunacy.” That boils down to, we’re told, an evening in which the troubled Waters discusses everything from his “compulsive desire to give and receive perverted gifts to his religious fanaticism for Santa Claus to an unhealthy love of real-life holiday horror stories.” Fri., Dec. 13 and Sat., Dec. 14. At Stage 48 (605 W. 48th St., btw. 11th & 12th Aves.). Doors 7:30pm, show 8pm. For tickets ($45, $99 for meet & greet), visit stage48.com/events .
DOCUMENTARY: ALL THE WAY THROUGH EVENING PHOTO BY GREG GORMAN
John “The Pope of Trash” Waters puts the “X” in Xmas, in his terribly inappropriate holiday solo show.
November 28, 2013
“I have vivid recollections of the food program they had for men really debilitated by the illness during the horror years of it all,” says Mimi Stern-Wolfe of Middle Collegiate Church’s efforts during the height of the AIDS crisis. Reacting to the loss of many creative contemporaries, Stern-Wolfe channeled her experience as a pianist, conductor and teacher into a new effort — and in the process, became an activist and producer whose Benson AIDS Series (founded in 1990) keeps alive the memory, and the music, of local composers lost to AIDS. “I could see the outreach they were doing,”
PHOTO BY DUNCAN HEWITT, COURTESY OF TA-DAH! PHOTOGRAPHY
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
L to R: Reverend Jacqui Lewis, Ph.D, pianist Mimi SternWolfe and director Rohan Spong (whose documentary “All the Way Through Evening” screens on Dec. 1 at Middle Collegiate Church, then opens at Village Cinema East on Dec. 6).
says Stern-Wolfe of Middle Collegiate’s AIDS ministry, “and it seemed like a good fit with what I was trying to say with the concerts.” On December 1, as part of Collegiate’s World AIDS Day Art & Soul worship celebration, Stern-Wolfe will be on hand to once again play a few solo piano works from the Benson series repertory. The service will also include a screening of Rohan Spong’s “All the Way Through Evening.” The Australian director’s acclaimed musical documentary looks at SternWolfe’s longtime (and ongoing) efforts to collect, archive and perform the moving final compositions of her friends. Before the film screens, the service will feature music from members of the Middle Church Jerriese Johnson JUST DO ART, continued on p.21
Mad diary of ‘Anne Franxploitation’ In Salkind’s satire, Hollywood plays the Holocaust for laughs
THEATER ANNE FRANK SUPERSTAR: A ONE-WOMAN SATIRE OF ANNE FRANXPLOITATION Written & Performed by Betsy Salkind Presented by Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company Dec. 5-7 at 8pm & Dec. 8 at 2pm At The Kraine Theater PHOTO BY GAIL A. HALAHAN
85 E. Fourth St. (btw. Bowery & Second Ave.) For tickets ($25), visit smarttix.com For info: betsysalkind.com and playhousecreatures.org
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
Not for the easily offended: Betsy Salkind, as Ethel Spiliotes, in “Anne Frank Superstar.”
est coast comic Betsy Salkind cut her choppers in 80s-era Boston — when stand-up was still an insular (mostly white) boy’s club. During a rare turn at the mic, she staged her own infamous tea party. The Emperor’s Getting F***ed,” a confrontational screed about toxic misogyny and racism in local comedy clubs, got Salkind effectively banned from the professional circuit. That pushback ended
up driving her even deeper into the city’s emerging sketch, improv and performance art scene — where she found kindred spirits (and new fans) by performing in non-traditional venues. A few years later, times and tastes caught up with her ability to mix blunt political material with the silly and the surreal — earning Salkind bookings in New York and LA comedy clubs, a job writing for the sitcom “Roseanne”
and a staff position on Roseanne Barr’s short-lived, criminally underrated FOX sketch show (you’re in good company if you don’t remember “Saturday Night Special”). Salkind emerged from a brief appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” with a signature bit and a cult following. That memorable creation, a cracker-munching “Squirrel Lady,” somehow makes its way into the multicharacter solo show soon to touch down
in the East Village (courtesy of Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company). Based in no small part on her own experiences, “Anne Frank Superstar” is Salkind’s take on the age-old battle between artistic integrity and profit. Opening on the last night of Hanukkah (a happy coincidence, we’re assured), this “one-woman satire of Anne Franxploitation” looks at what happens when television executives decide that the tragic story of a brave little girl in an attic has mainstream hit potential…if they just add a few laughs. Bad idea meets even worse taste, when precocious little 11-year-old Ethel Spiliotes is manipulated into headlining the ill-advised sitcom, “Let’s Be Frank.” As much a commentary about the ease with which we bury unimaginable tragedy as the entertainment industry’s ruthless drive to copyright the next big thing, “Superstar” is Salkind’s latest — but hardly her first — experience with slaughtering sacred cows. Those not easily offended by her Holocaust humor should check out “Betsy’s Sunday School Bible Classics.” Now available for the iPad, it’s a 240-page, NC-17 version of religious morality tales — liberally interpreted by a woman who, prior to becoming a comedian, wrote an MIT Sloan School of Management master ’s thesis titled “Can’t You Take A Joke? A Study of Sexual Harassment Among Peers.” No matter what medium she’s working in, Salkind knows how to audit hypocrisy.
Just Do Art Gospel Choir (named for its founder and director, who died of AIDS). Half of the night’s offering will be donated to the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (gmhc.org). Former minister Rev. Gordon Dragt, who pastored during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, will return and co-preach with Rev. Jacqui Lewis. “All the Way Through Evening” screens at Middle Collegiate Church (112 Second Ave., at Seventh St.) at 7pm (World AIDS Day service begins at 6pm) on Sun., Dec. 1. Then, the film opens on Fri., Dec. 6, for a theatrical run at Village East Cinema (189 Second Ave., at 12th St.). Q&A sessions are currently scheduled for opening weekend. For more info, visit allthewaythroughevening.com. For info on the
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FILMMAKERS
JUST DO ART, continued from p. 20
Play on: Mimi Stern-Wolfe’s efforts to preserve the work of others is, itself, captured for the ages — in Rohan Spong’s musical documentary.
World AIDS Day service, visit middlechurch. org. For more info on the Benson series, visit downtownmusicproductions.org.
November 28, 2013
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November 28, 2013
GET HELP WITH MORTGAGE PAYMENTS! CATSKILL VILLAGE DUPLEX FOR SALE A lovely affordable duplex. Live in the 3-bedroom unit and rent out the 2-bedroom one to minimize your living expenses. Both units offer spacious rooms and off-street parking. 3-bedroom has 1 1/2 baths; 2-bedroom has 1 bath. Units are partially renovated; new kitchen appliances, new flooring, new carpets and new paint throughout. Walking distance to town, stores and restaurants. Asking $99,900 Contact Karen Deyo at Rip Van Winkle Realty 518-943-5303, or Colin at 646-641-9327.
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Print shop is flying high BY HEATHER DUBIN
PHOTO BY HEATHER DUBIN
n a tiny space crammed with six pieces of office machinery and packed with supplies from Elmer’s Glue to rubber stamps, Santo and Margaret Mollica make it happen. The couple have run The Source Unltd print and copy shop on E. Ninth St. in the East Village since 1982. Together, they have provided the neighborhood, where they also live, with more than 30 years of service. For their long staying power, and connection to the area, the two were recently honored with the 2013 Outstanding Pigeon Award from the East Village Community Coalition. A celebration was held at La Mama on Oct. 22 at E.V.C.C.’s annual gala, where the couple were presented with the small business award. Local restaurant Veselka, another business mainstay, catered the event. The Mollicas recently talked with The Villager about their shop, the neighborhood and their new elevation to “Pigeon” status. The two stood behind the counter of their small, 300-square-foot store as they spoke, while customers filtered in and out. With the Mollicas was Curtis, their 3-year-old pit bull, a rescue dog who is named for soul singer Curtis Mayfield. “It was the first one they ever gave out. We want the rat one next year,” Santo joked of the E.V.C.C. honor. Santo, who is also a musician, noted that the neighborhood has drastically changed from when they first opened shop during the height of the East Village’s drug scene. “Now it’s more commercial — there’s us, and two to three other storefronts,” he said. Margaret — who maintains the store’s Web site — recalled how art galleries popped up in the area in the mid-1980s, and a new group of people surfaced to patronize their shop. The couple have had a few court battles with their landlord, in the 1990s and early 2000s, but they prevailed, allowing them to remain on E. Ninth. Affordable rent has also contributed to their longevity. Margaret estimated rent for new stores on the block at $6,000 to $7,000 per month. “It’s the survival award,” Santo deadpanned. “We’re here still after all that’s gone down. We’re still doing it.” Business blossomed after Santo started doing layouts and design for people. “As an industry, the business started growing, too,” he recalled. “There was no FedEx or Staples back then. It was a printing world, and more complicated.” Computers have been pivotal in reshaping the future of print and copy. While today a person can make a magazine at home, the Mollicas are still in business, partly because one cannot print while mo-
Santo Mollica, holding E.V.C.C. Outstanding Pigeon Award, and Margaret Mollica at their The Source Unltd store in the East Village.
bile. Additionally, out-of-control prices for print cartridges have also helped. “To save time, we tell customers to email us their files, and we’ll do it for you,” Margaret said. “Now we reach more people, believe it or not.” The couple made labels for the current Dutch Masters painting exhibit at the Frick Collection, and a rubber office stamp for the American Museum of Natural History. “It’s stuff you wouldn’t expect,” Margaret noted. Other customers are international travelers, like the person from Australia who needed to print out “The Book of Mormon” theater tickets, or people in town for a business trip who need a presentation printed for a conference. “It used to be neighborhood local jobs, but now the neighborhood is global,” Santo said. He was positive about this transformation, noting he has reaped business from Yelp, as well. “It opens things up,” he added. They get more than 100 walk-in customers daily, plus e-mails. There is a bulletin board outside the shop covered with fliers about shows, sales or neighborhood events, reminiscent of a time when the East Village was covered with such signs everywhere. Margaret tries to buy products locally when she can, and features greetings cards by local artists in the shop. Surprised by the award, the couple were humble about their role in the community. “We’ve been here all this time, doing our own thing,” Santo said. “We haven’t been part of any group.” “We still love it here, despite all the changes,” Margaret said. “It feels like home to me.”
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December 2-6 10PM to 5AM, Monday to Friday
No F trains at B’way-Lafayette St, 2 Av, Delancey St, East Broadway, and York St F trains are rerouted via the A in both directions between W 4 St and Jay St-MetroTech Free shuttle buses, D and J trains provide alternate service In Manhattan: • Free shuttle buses run between B’way-Lafayette St and East Broadway, making station stops at 2 Av and Delancey St. • Use free shuttle buses to connect with D service at B’way-Lafayette St. • Transfer between D and F trains at W 4 St. In Brooklyn: • Free shuttle buses run between York St and Jay St-MetroTech, where F service is available. • Transfer between free shuttle buses and F trains at Jay St-MetroTech. Stay Informed We understand the inconvenience this may cause you, and we will do everything possible to help you get to your destination safely and easily. For updated information, look for station posters, visit mta.info to sign up for free email or text message alerts, or call 511.
2013 Metropolitan Transportation Authority
November 28, 2013