The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
December 3, 2015 • $1.00 Volume 85 • Number 27
N.Y.U. plan opponents are exercised over date to shutter Coles gym BY YANNIC RACK
ritics of New York University’s 20-year development plan say the school is jumping the gun on closing the heavily used Coles gym, robbing students, faculty and Villagers of much-needed workout space. The Jerome S. Coles Sports Center, on Mercer St. be-
tween Bleecker and West Houston Sts., will soon be razed to make way for the first building of the university’s massive South Village “N.Y.U. 2031” development project. “The issue is very simple: They don’t have an adequate replacement space,” said COLES continued on p. 26
With harsher tone, Black Lives marchers decry Midwestern shootings BY ZACH WILLIAMS
vents a thousand miles away drove hundreds of #BlackLivesMatter activists out onto Manhattan’s streets last week. People of color had once again been on the receiving end of a nationally prominent shooting. This time a group of white men in
Minneapolis, Minnesota, allegedly shot five people who were part of ongoing protests sparked by the Nov. 15 fatal shooting there of 24-year-old Jamar Clark by police. Supporters quickly took the attack to be an attempt to stifle the oneyear-old movement against BLM continued on p. 10
PHOTO BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL
Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver leaving federal court in Lower Manhattan on Monday after being found guilty on all counts in his corruption trial.
Après Shelly Silver, le deluge of candidates? Or maybe not BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
enifer Rajkumar, Paul Newell, Gigi Li, Jenny Low, _____ (fill in the blank)… . Who will be the next person to represent the 65th Assembly District? Whoever it is ultimately, one thing is for certain: The Assembly seat will remain vacant until April. Monday’s conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on seven federal corruption charges cemented what seemed fair-
ly inevitable ever since his shocking arrest back in January — namely, that, after Silver’s decades-long political reign, Lower Manhattan will be getting a new assemblymember. Word on the street had been that, regardless of the trial’s outcome, the “tarnished Silver” wouldn’t run for re-election next year. However, following his felony conviction for engineering $4 million in what prosecutors called kickbacks through referrals to
his lawfirm, Silver was instantly stripped of his political office. His Assembly home page was immediately scrubbed clean — a search for it yields “Not Found” above a blank white page — and phone calls to his Assembly office are now automatically redirected to the office of Carl Heastie, who replaced Silver as Assembly speaker in February. Silver could face up to 20 years in jail, though he is appealing. ELECTION continued on p. 8
Glick: Ban outside jobs in Albany...................page 4 L.E.S. ‘bicycle rapist’ surrenders....................page 14 ‘Cha Cha,’ 69, ‘Mayor of Little Italy’.................page 15 John Waters’s crazy Christmas!...page 17
ANOTHER T’DAY SOUK-CESS! Le Souk was the place to be on Thanksgiving Day. In an annual tradition, the 510 LaGuardia Place restaurant and hookah hot spot once again served up free dinners with all the fixin’s, plus good times all around. There were two seatings, with 150 people served at each meal. Although the dinners were complimentary, donations were accepted. All proceeds go to Visiting Neighbors, and will be matched by Le Souk, nearby Falucka restaurant and lounge and BAMRA (Bleecker Area Merchants’ and Residents’ Association). Le Souk owner Marcus Jacob, bottom right, proudly held up the latest addition to the Egyptian-themed restaurant, his new baby. Jim Fouratt, second from the bottom at far right, looked happy with the spread. Novac Noury, “The Arrow Keyboard Man” of the disco era, was twinkling the keys in a flashy jacket, second from top, far right. And a woman we know only by her nickname – “They call me Pocahontas,” she told us before — was grooving and shaking her Indian-style braids on the dance floor. As usual, volunteers helped fuel the feel-good event, including new District Leader Terri Cude, who rocked a red fez on her head for the occasion.
PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY
CLARIFICATIONS: Following the publication of the Nov. 26 Villager article “Village Fight Club: Norton and Co. sock it to Blaz on rezoning,” Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, contacted The Villager to clarify that he believes the current Billy Macklowe luxury residential tower project at the former Bowlmor site on University place could be brought under the proposed G.V.S.H.P. rezoning — including a height cap and an affordable housing component — if the city would only move quickly to implement the rezoning. Also, the Nov. 19 Villager article “Architect and developer try to build the case for St. John’s project,” quoted Berman saying that St. John’s Partners should “just give the money to the park,” rather than buying air rights from the Hudson River Park that would then make their development project bigger. A fuller and more accurate description of Berman’s statement is that he called for a dedicated tax to be placed on the project, under which the developer would pay an assessment to the Hudson River Park.
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December 3, 2015
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
ssemblymember Deborah Glick, a longtime colleague of Sheldon Silver’s in the state Assembly, called the former speaker’s conviction on corruption charges on Monday “a sad day.” She also vigorously called for the elimination of outside employment for all legislators, saying it can be a pitfall, as Silver’s case clearly shows. “This is a sad day in Albany and New York State,” Glick said in a lengthy statement. “The verdict in the Sheldon Silver corruption case is extremely disheartening for all the honest and hardworking legislators. The charges against former Speaker Silver were shocking, as he has advanced many key democratic initiatives, but this case has highlighted the potential conflicts that outside income can have for legislators. “Those of us who believe government can help solve the problems we face depend on our fellow citizens to trust government. Today’s events make trust in government that much harder,” Glick said. “I have always served as a full-time legislator, as have many of my colleagues, and I have long supported the elimination of separate employment for all legislators,” she continued. “I hope that today’s verdict can be the impetus to make the necessary changes to see the elimination of dual employment.” The New York State Legislature is only in session for half of each year, from January through the end of June, and legislators are allowed to have outside jobs in addition to collecting their salaries as politicians. In Silver’s case, he was convicted of profiting from $4 million in what the U.S. attorney argued were effectively kickbacks in connection with two schemes in which he provided referrals to the outside lawfirm he worked for. In one scheme, Silver helped funnel asbestos patients to the lawfirm, while in the other, he benefited from a real estate scam, prosecutors charged. Furthermore, Glick said, Albany needs campaign finance reform. “In addition,” Glick said, “our system of financing campaigns needs to be revamped. The Clean Money Campaign, led by Citizen Action, has been the model for reforms repeatedly passed by the Assembly, including the closure of the LLC loophole, which has unfortunately stalled in the state Senate.” Yet she also put some of the onus for stalled reforms on the voters — particularly for not supporting a pay hike for legislators. “The public has demanded change in Albany but has also been resistant to some of the changes necessary to eliminate outside income, such as a
review of the compensation for legislators,” Glick noted. “We need a diverse Legislature, and if eliminating outside income, we must ensure that the position is not just left to those with family and financial resources to serve. Nor can candidates for public office be limited to the wealthy. Public financing of campaigns must be on the agenda in the upcoming session. “In addition, we must work diligently to ensure the highest standards of ethical behavior,” she said. “I am honored to serve the 66th Assembly District and will continue to do so with integrity. I look forward to the start of the next session, where we can tackle not just restoring the public’s trust in the Legislature, but also passing effective legislation that makes New York an even better place to live.” Unlike Glick, Richard Gottfried, another longtime colleague of Silver’s in the Assembly’s Manhattan delegation, didn’t have anything to say publicly on Silver’s conviction. Brice Peyre, a Gottfried spokesperson, said, “He is going to refrain from commenting.” After Silver’s arrest in January, both Glick and Gottfried had jumped to his defense, saying he was, of course, “presumed innocent until guilty.” Silver championed bread-and-butter Democratic causes, such as supporting social-service programs, education and unions. “There is no one in public life in New York who has fought more effectively, for decades, for almost everything I care about in public policy than Sheldon Silver,” Gottfried told The Villager then. “Obviously, he’s been upholding Democratic principles in this state,” Glick told The Villager, regarding the speaker.
A hard-hitting Daily News editorial about Silver this Monday (headlined “Sheldon Silver’s Accomplices”) referenced Glick’s quote, above, and perhaps — in noting that Gottfried described Silver as a “hero” — referred to another line in the same Villager article where the word “hero” was used: “Gottfried said that, in fact, in his view, Silver is a political hero.” (The Villager — not Gottfried — used the word to describe Gottfried’s view of Silver.) At any rate, the News blasted the pair of West Side pols as the former speaker’s enablers, calling Glick Silver’s “consigliere” and Gottfried Silver’s “Manhattan underboss.” For her part, Councilmember Margaret Chin came out with a strong statement Monday: “As an elected official who proudly represents some of the same people who repeatedly put their faith in one man to further their best interests in Albany, I have been troubled by the steady stream of revelations regarding Mr. Silver’s conduct,” Chin said. “Today’s verdict by a jury of his peers confirms the worst of those allegations. By committing the crimes of which he now stands convicted, Mr. Silver betrayed the trust of voters who have the right to expect honesty, integrity and ethics from their elected representatives.” Silver had memorably raised a beaming Chin’s hand in a victory salute at her post-election party in 2009. In January, after Silver’s arrest, state Senator Brad Hoylman came out early and forcefully calling for his resignation in a pair of tweets — and no doubt took flak from Democratic partisans furious that he would dare inject himself into the Assembly crisis. “Another shameful day in Albany,” Hoylman had tweeted, later adding, “Speaker Silver should resign for the good of the people of New York.” A longtime local Democratic politico, practically worked up into a raging froth, told The Villager at that time how outraged he was over Hoylman’s audacious tweets. But after Monday’s verdict, a spokesperson said Hoylman was not commenting. Greenwich Village District Leader Arthur Schwartz blasted Silver, as well as his political nemesis, Glick. “Shelly Silver’s conviction shows how deep the problems are in our political process,” Schwartz said. “Silver blatantly and openly pursued his personal-injury lawsuit scheme for years, and his colleagues failed to challenge him — and some, like our assemblywoman, Glick, stuck with him till the end. We need term limits, we need public financing of elections, and we need to end contributions by corporations or LLC’s to campaigns.” He said Glick should resign. TheVillager.com
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December 3, 2015
ILLUSTRATION BY ELIZABETH WILLIAMS
Guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty...and three more
On Mon., Nov. 30, Sheldon Silver sat flanked by his defense team, Joel Cohen and Justin Shur, while Judge Valerie Caproni read aloud the seven guilty verdicts from the verdict sheet handed up by the jury foreperson (not pictured). By the judge’s order, courtroom artists were not allowed to depict the jury members in this case. Silver reportedly had a slight grimace on his face as the guilty verdicts were read.
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Still loved by many voters BY JOSH ROGERS
heldon Silver’s conviction this week on federal corruption charges may have ended his 20-term Assembly career, but it won’t erase his Downtown legacy, or the place it has earned him in the hearts of his constituents. Throughout Silver’s trial, Community Board 1 member Tom Goodkind kept a photo of Silver throwing out the first ball of a Downtown Little League game as the screen saver on his phone, even though co-workers suggested he remove it. “It’s hard for Downtown to think of him as anything but our local hero,” Goodkind, a C.P.A. and Battery Park City resident, said Monday shortly after Silver’s conviction on all counts. “It’s almost like someone hit me in the gut.” Silver, described by the gossip site Gawker last week as the “despised New York Assemblyman,” nevertheless remained popular in Lower Manhattan even after his arrest in January. As speaker of the Assembly for two decades, Silver used his power to get things like new schools built in Lower Manhattan, and to protect the homes of people living across from the World Trade Center in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. “He saved my block after Sept. 11 when the [Port Authority] wanted to do a land grab,” a supporter posted on Facebook after the verdict. It was actually the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation that suggested razing the block after 9/11, but backed off after pressure from Silver and others. At the end of 2001, it was Silver who pressed Governor George Pataki to name then-C.B. 1 Chairperson Madelyn Wils to the L.M.D.C. board, thus ensuring a community leader was behind closed doors when decisions on the $2.8 billion fund were made. Silver also convinced the L.M.D.C. to expand its residential grant program to include Chinatown and the Lower East Side, which were hurt by post-9/11 security measures — particularly the closure of Park Row. In 2005 he brokered a deal between the city and developer Bruce Ratner to build the Spruce St. School to help reduce the area’s chronic classroom overcrowding. He used the vote he controlled on the Public Authorities Control Board to press for the extension in 2006 of rent protections at Gateway Plaza, the largest housing complex in Battery Park City. Goodkind, a Gateway resident, said he’s not sure what he would reply to someone who says Silver was corrupt and got his just deserts, but he’s confident “the person doesn’t live in our area.” Downtowners were standing with TheVillager.com
their long-serving assemblyman against criticism even before his arrest on corruption charges earlier this year. Silver was honored by Gateway tenants two years ago at a time when he was coming under heavy fire for improperly protecting former Assemblymember Vito Lopez, who was forced to resign amid sexual harassment accusations. Silver’s critics saw a connection with his decision to allow an accused rapist, Michael Boxley, to remain on his staff for years until a second sexual assault accusation surfaced. But Downtown leaders, women and men alike, continued to appreciate what he delivered for his district. “Since Speaker Silver has represented us, he has created four K-to-8 schools in Community Board 1 and we’re hoping we’ll get another one soon,” Catherine McVay Hughes, C.B. 1 chairperson, said at the 2013 Gateway Plaza event feting Silver. Before 9/11, there were often grumblings from Downtown activists upset with Silver, but those dwindled as his Albany clout produced real benefits for a community that was struggling to rebuild. When he faced his first primary challenge in 22 years, amid the 2008 Lopez/Boxley scandal, Silver won 68 percent of the vote. And even Silver’s main primary opponent, Paul Newell, now a Democratic district leader and a likely candidate to succeed him, was careful not to criticize Silver directly in a prepared statement issued immediately after the verdict. He called it “a sad day for Lower Manhattan,” but added, “no court will end Albany’s culture of corruption and cronyism.” The jury this week found that Silver collected nearly $4 million in legal fees in exchange for steering state money toward a particular doctor’s cancer research and helping two real estate firms with legislation. But prosecutors did not charge Silver with any crimes connected to his local work, which included highly praised task forces, notably one focused on school overcrowding in the fast-growing district. Silver was forced to give up the powerful speaker’s post after his arrest in January, but city Department of Education officials continued to attend the schools task force meetings. Whether they will now, after his banishment from the Assembly remains to be seen. Goodkind said it would take a generation — if ever — for another Downtowner to equal Silver’s influence. After the current Gateway Plaza rent deal was negotiated, Silver said he expected to be speaker in 2020 at age 76, when the agreement would need an extension. “There’s no question about that,” he said then. December 3, 2015
Special election slated to pick Silver successor ELECTION continued from p. 1
The day after the momentous ruling, Governor Andrew Cuomo clarified the situation regarding how Silver’s successor will be chosen. According to the New York Observer, during a press conference on Tuesday, Cuomo when asked about whether he planned to call a special election to fill Silver’s former seat, said it would be held in April on the same day as the presidential primary. Cuomo, who has been reluctant to call special elections in the past, said that holding one for the Lower East Side seat and two other vacancies on that day would save money. As opposed to an open primary, the local Democratic and Republican county committees would each pick one candidate who would then face off in the special election. The winner, though, could face a challenge six months later in a traditional primary in September. Silver was Assembly speaker for 20 years, making him one of the state’s most powerful politicians, if not the most powerful. He represented the Lower East Side in Albany for twice that long. His fall represents not only a huge sea change for Lower Manhattan, but a rarity in a state Legislature where, without term limits, winning election basically means a job for life.
A rare opening “They’re like the Aurora Borealis,” Hank Sheinkopf, the veteran Democratic political consultant, said of open seats in the Legislature. “You don’t see them very often.” It’s no surprise, but the Democratic candidate will be overwhelmingly favored to take the special election. “Unless Mars collides with Venus, the Democratic nominee will win,” Sheinkopf quipped. “For the Republican to win — you’d have a better chance of finding gold in the Gowanus Canal.” Rajkumar and Newell, who are co-Democratic district leaders are also members of the same political club, Downtown Independent Democrats. Newell ran against Silver in the 2008 primary, while Rajkumar gave Councilmember Margaret Chin a strong challenge in 2013. The September primary could well be a “freefor-all,” Sheinkopf predicted. There’s no campaign finance system at the state level, he noted, meaning the government offers candidates no matching funds, which is a way to even the playing field for less well-funded candidates. So it boils down to “who can put up the money” to wage a campaign, he said. “Rajkumar can raise money,” he said. “Paul Newell has run [for Assembly] before, so he probably feels he has a claim on the seat. “If Gigi Li were in the race, it would be a different story,” Sheinkopf said, referring to the Community Board 3 chairperson.
Li in limbo? Li, who would be expected to draw the district’s Chinese-American vote, ran into trouble this past summer when she tried to topple Rajkumar as district leader. The petition signatures that Li’s supporters collected to put her on the ballot were riddled with fraud, a lawsuit filed by two D.I.D.
December 3, 2015
members charged. Ultimately, Li dropped out of the race, though denying the fraud allegations, and saying it was because she didn’t collect enough petition signatures.
dict proves it is up to us to reclaim our government. No court will end Albany’s culture of corruption and cronyism. If we, as voters and citizens, continue to accept a government that favors those who buy power and influence, then that will be the government we get. But, if we want a government that is fair, transparent, and works for all of us, we must reclaim it ourselves. We can and must do better. The time for us to act is now.” Asked for comment on Silver’s fall, Rajkumar said, “Lower Manhattan residents must now come together across neighborhoods, income levels and ethnicities, investing in a sense of collective destiny as we tackle the district’s pressing challenges of affordability, school overcrowding and small business survival. We must also come together to address larger national issues of gun violence, national security and equal pay for equal work. Working together, we can replace the culture of corruption in Albany with a culture of service. I look forward to being a part of this movement in any way that best serves our community and ensures honest and effective leadership for the future.” As for when the Democratic County Committee will meet to pick the nominee, it wasn’t immediately clear, but some think January or February.
‘I’m not ready to endorse anybody. We just had a freakin’ disaster here.’ John Quinn
Local politicos speculate that Li won’t now make a try for the Assembly seat. She did not respond to a request for comment this week on whether she might run. However, Diem Boyd, founder of the LES Dwellers quality-of-life group, said she has been hearing rumors that Chinatown’s United Democratic Organization might be thinking of pushing Jenny Low for the open seat. Low has been a district leader for 10 years. In addition, Lower Manhattan activist Arthur Piccolo is advocating for Catherine McVay Hughes, C.B. 1 chairperson, to run for the seat, saying she has the “character and intelligence” that would serve the district well.
Ready for change Newell was the first to blast out a statement after Silver’s conviction was announced Monday. “This is a sad day for Lower Manhattan and a sad day for New York,” Newell said. “Today’s ver-
‘Take a timeout!’ Meanwhile, John Quinn, the outspoken Lower East Side Democratic state committeeman, said everyone should just take a timeout for a month or so, in the wake of Silver’s epic flameout. The fierce jockeying for political support by Newell and Rajkumar has been going on ever since Silver’s arrest earlier this year, he said. “They’re both from the same club,” Quinn said, with exasperation, speaking Monday after Silver had been slapped with guilty verdicts on all seven charges that he faced. “I had breakfast with Paul this morning — he asked me to ELECTION continued on p. 27 TheVillager.com
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With harsher tone, Black Lives marchers decry BLM continued from p. 1
police brutality and institutionalized racism. In addition, a video of a police shooting in Chicago from last year was finally publicly released. Supporters responded in New York City by highlighting their grievances in the most public way possible, by rallying, marching and chanting through the streets of Manhattan. A feeling of uncertainty shadowed a nighttime rally at Washington Square Park on Wed., Nov. 25. While reports of threats against the activists could not be confirmed, organizers acknowledged that new adversaries had emerged against their one-year-old movement. “We refuse to be intimidated,” Vienna Rye, a Millions March NYC activist, told the crowd. “If they think these attacks will scare us away, let me just say they massively underestimate the power of the people.” This opposition includes a segment of American society represented by West Side resident Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Trump supporters at a Nov. 21 Alabama rally for the candidate attacked an activist who was chanting “Black Lives Matter” in the crowd. Protests in New York City have been peaceful aside from sporadic scuffles with police at demonstrations. But that could change, said Josmar Trujillo of the Coalition to End Broken Windows. “We are in a state of war. Self-defense is the minimum that we should be doing,” he told the protesters. “We need our communities because these mother-----rs are going to shoot at us… . It’s gotta be an escalation because this s--- is escalating all around us.” The collective power of several hundred activists depended that night on their success in evading the dozens of police officers who followed them, aided by a police helicopter and a cavalry of motorized scooters. In the West Village, the marchers briefly blocked streets until the police caught up. They repeated such efforts by making abrupt left or right turns when police moved forward during the march, all the while deploying a harsher rhetoric than seen in protests months ago. They carried signs with slogans stating that police work hand in hand with the Ku Klux Klan, and their chants punctuated the accusations with profanity. The faces of people of color killed by police stared from photographs printed above words like “Justice” and the eponymous movement’s slogan, “BlackLivesMatter.” There was little time for thinking when clashes would break out between the police and activists.
December 3, 2015
PHOTOS BY ZACH WILLIAMS
Preacher Robert Price told the marchers, “We’re worried about what’s going on — that black lives still don’t matter.”
Several hundred protesters rallied at Washington Square during the night of marching on Wed., Nov. 25.
Sometimes the activist invited arrest, such as when a member of the Chelsea-based Peoples Power Assemblies obstructed a policeman riding a scooter on St. Mark’s Place. The crowd rushed forward and police
shoved them back. Other times the police ventured into the crowd to track down an activist amid the tangle of bodies. Pedestrians were relatively few on the cold autumn night, but a few raised
their fists in solidarity, while most simply viewed the spectacle with a certain dismissiveness. Marchers banged on the windows of restaurants and urged BLM continued on p.11 TheVillager.com
A protester was arrested during the four-hour action, which saw marchers use more charged rhetoric than at some previous events.
BLM continued from p. 10
patrons to join them. A young black man claimed victory when he convinced a young woman to utter “Black Lives Matter” as he passed. That was what they said as they entered the Macy’s flagship store at Herald Square. There was nothing to stop them as they marched down the shopping aisles, but customers gave them little attention as they shopped the night before Thanksgiving. The police detail did not follow them into the store but was waiting on the other side, on Seventh Ave., when the protesters emerged there. By then the crowd of a few hundred had dwindled by at least one-third. Those left continued the cat-andmouse game with police until arriving at Times Square about four hours after the march’s start. It was there at TheVillager.com
the start of the demonstrations that a charismatic young preacher named Robert Price had addressed the crowd. He noted that many of them had participated in numerous local actions in the past year, but that progress continued to be slow. During that time, a national debate on police and criminal justice reform began. But the events of November 2015 show that the overall goals of #BlackLivesMatter remain unfulfilled, Price said, adding that a disturbing phenomenon persists. “For those who come here tonight saying that we’re just here because we want to hear ourselves: You have not been here when we marched all year long,” he said at the rally. “We’re worried about what’s going on. We’re worried that black lives still don’t matter. And so what I want to say is that this is a systemic thread woven through the fabric of our United States.” December 3, 2015
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De Blasio’s L.E.S. / Chinatown tale of two cities TALKING POINT BY DIEM BOYD
he time Mayor de Blasio has spent raising his national profile as champion of progressive economic policies and populism in places like Puerto Rico, Nebraska and Wisconsin, is time away from improving the lives of everyday New Yorkers. His focus should remain here, on the millions of low- and middle-income New Yorkers who face forced displacement due to concessions and incentives extended to developers. This is a continuation of Bloombergera developer giveaways that spurred a frenzy of luxury condo development, triggering the domino-like effect of destabilizing gentrification, depletion of affordable housing stock, the closure of small, independent businesses, and a rate of homelessness not seen since the Great Depression. While New York City has the second-largest millionaire and largest billionaire population of any global city, the city’s poverty rate is 6.5 points higher than the national average. New York has become the “capital of inequality,” a tale of two cities, indeed, where the abject poor and the working middle and lower class have not benefitted from the economic recovery experienced by the top 5 percent of the wealthiest New Yorkers. Maybe it’s time our mayor tended his own garden? In 2013, de Blasio galvanized the progressive base with stump speeches about New York City’s growing economic inequality. We came to the polls, delivering him a decisive victory, invigorated by his message to end the economic policies of his predecessors that favored the wealthy and to reform a lopsided criminal justice system that preys upon poor and low-income New Yorkers. We shared his outrage that one in three of the city’s children live in poverty while those individuals at the top of the economic ladder have seen incomes skyrocket. Twice this fall, 1,000 community members from the Lower East Side and Chinatown have marched on City Hall, demanding that Mayor de Blasio take a stand against the displacement of working middle- and lower-class families and people of color by supporting the Chinatown Working Group Rezoning Plan. Most recently, on Oct. 28, seniors, mothers with infants, college students, schoolage children and workers, marched together in a torrential rain, deterTheVillager.com
PHOTO BY YANNIC RACK
At a march on City Hall in late September, protesters held up signs of the “Building From Hell,” Extell’s planned high-rise that has become a symbol of overdevelopment in the Lower East Side and Chinatown.
mined that the mayor hear them. They asked for the fulfillment of City Hall’s promise for equal protection after their neighborhoods were excluded from the 2008 East Village / Lower East Side rezoning — a process that gave contextual zoning protections to the relatively wealthier areas of Community Board 3, pushing grossly disproportionate luxury and commercial development into Chinatown and select parts of the Lower East Side. Without zoning protections, mass displacement accelerated, with the Latino, African-American and Asian communities being hardest hit. Evictions on the Lower East Side and Chinatown have increased at an unprecedented rate at the hands of real estate-friendly giveaways and predatory landlords. Small businesses, momand-pop stores and services have been uprooted, replaced by businesses and services that cater to the new wealthier residents, droves of disruptive weekend transients and tourists. By failing to take a stand on the Lower East Side and Chinatown, Mayor de Blasio is capitulating to developers like Extell, which plans to build an 80-story gated community, One Manhattan Square, in the middle of a public housing complex on the L.E.S. waterfront. The development includes a 13-story segregated “poor door” building, shabbily diminutive next to the behemoth of privilege. Beyond the discriminatory and unequal housing practice, in reality, the minimal “affordable” housing will be unattainable for most lowand middle-income area residents. Further ensuring that this “tale of two cities” is fact, not fiction, Extell is marketing One Manhattan Square as a real estate investment to affluent overseas buyers who will live parttime, if at all, in the towering monolith. In place of the Lower East Side and Chinatown’s vibrant ethnically
and culturally diverse communities will be a ghost town of investor properties and a theme park of $65 “Basquiat burgers” and $18 “Mr. Purple” cocktails catering to those living in the gated fortresses. Over the past seven years, the community, with broad support, drafted a comprehensive and sensible rezoning plan to protect and preserve Chinatown and the Lower East Side from privatization of city-owned properties and displacement and harassment of tenants. More than 10,000 individuals signed petitions in support of the plan that was adopted by the Chinatown Working Group. Unfortunately, the Mayor’s City Planning Commission reviewed this plan with tepid courtesy and then decided it to be too “far reaching” and “ambitious.” Yet, Mayor de Blasio is steamrolling a broad, massive rezoning of the entire city under the misnomers of “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” and “Mandatory Inclusionary Honing.” Who is being too ambitious and far reaching now? De Blasio campaigned on a promise to be different than Bloomberg, whose policies and projects advanced the interests of the wealthy elite, leaving the rest of New Yorkers behind. De Blasio vowed to listen to the very people who were ignored when Bloomberg rezoned one-third of the city, unilaterally targeting 122 neighborhoods. This massive rezoning was a Trojan horse for gentrification, transforming working- and middle-class districts into sought-after, affluent neighborhoods that priced out low- and middle-income residents. The difference between the two mayors is hard to distinguish when de Blasio continues to privatize the New York City Housing Authority. And his reforms to the 421-tax abatement plan — which he vowed
to eliminate — remain developer-friendly, while netting insignificant affordable housing in exchange for substantial developer tax breaks. This is precisely why the Real Estate Board of New York applauded de Blasio’s concessions and developers rushed to file unprecedented numbers of new high-end construction permits this past year. In describing why so many Democrats lost in the 2014 midterm elections, de Blasio said they “lost sight of their core principles, opting instead to clip their progressive wings.” But do those same words apply to him? It would seem so. For example, nothing shows how similar de Blasio is to Bloomberg more than the former’s digging in and ramming his pro-real-estate citywide rezoning plan down communities’ throats, despite overwhelming opposition by constituents, housing activists and community boards. By embracing a sweeping upzoning that will irrevocably recontextualize the cityscape — that might even put Robert Moses to shame — in exchange for “inclusionary zoning” of 25 percent to 30 percent affordability, de Blasio aligns himself with Bloomberg and wealthy real estate interests, rather than with classic New York liberals, like Mayors La Guardia, Dinkins, Koch in his earlier years or even the liberal Republican Mayor John Lindsay. Under de Blasio’s plan, the rapid sprawl of gilded glass towers piercing the skyline will rob everyday New Yorkers of affordability, history, sunlight and perhaps most important, their precious sense of community and neighborhoods. A comprehensive citywide affordable housing plan is long overdue, but de Blasio’s proposal is disproportionately favorable to luxury developers. A community-led rezoning, like the Chinatown Working Group Rezoning Plan, is clearly the sensible alternative. There is no better opportunity for Mayor de Blasio to prove his mettle than at the upcoming NMASS town hall meeting on Sat., Dec. 5, at 4 p.m., at Seward Park High School, at 350 Grand St. He can face the people on the front line of displacement, seeing first-hand how “inclusionary” zoning and sky-high development have devastated the Lower East Side and Chinatown in the name of “affordability” and “progress.” This all begs the question, Mayor de Blasio — are you a true beacon of the new left, like Sanders and Warren, or just another right-leaning centrist, bought by big real estate interests, cloaked in progressive rhetoric? Boyd is founder, LES Dwellers December 3, 2015
POLICE BLOTTER L.E.S. ‘bike rapist’ surrenders On Sat., Nov. 28, a man wanted in connection with a rape in East River Park three days earlier surrendered to authorities. According to police, on Wed., Nov. 25, around 7:30 p.m., a 26-year-old woman was jogging in the East Side park, near Cherry St., when the suspect, riding a bicycle, approached her and motioned for her to be quiet. The victim turned around and started to run in the opposite direction, but the suspect grabbed her hair, put his arm around her throat and pulled her into the nearby East River Park amphitheater, where he raped her. The suspect then reportedly stole the woman’s phone and credit cards and fled the scene. The victim was removed to Beth Israel Hospital where she was treated and released. Police circulated video surveillance of the suspect using the victim’s credit card in a deli, and requested that confidential tips be sent to the N.Y.P.D. CrimeStoppers hotline. “Numerous tips” reportedly flooded in, leading to the victim being identified as Paul Niles, 28. Police then released a photo of Niles from an October 2015 arrest for endangering the welfare of a child in the 106th Precinct, in south central Queens. After he turned himself in to police in Queens, Niles — who had shaved off his short dreadlocks after the alleged rape — was charged with first-degree rape, second-degree robbery and third-degree identity theft. During the course of the investigation, a second woman, 56, reportedly told police that she was groped by the suspect, also on Wed., Nov. 25, at 6:45 p.m. — 45 minutes before the other woman was raped in the amphitheater. The second woman said that while she was walking in the vicinity of the F.D.R. Drive and Grand St., the suspect approached her and attempted to engage her in a conversation before grabbing her buttocks and fleeing the location on a bicycle. In connection with that earlier incident, Niles was additionally charged with forcible touching. The New York Post reported that Niles was homeless and has “numerous arrests” in New York and Maryland for assault, gun possession and robbery. The tabloid said that Niles threatened to shoot the woman before raping her in the amphitheater. His defense attorney reportedly said his client had not admitted to raping the woman and “had been in and out of homeless shelters prior to the attack.”
Canned in Duane Reade Plenty of cans came in handy for a 40-year-old woman who refused to leave a Duane Reade at 378 Sixth Ave. A store employee asked her to leave the premises numerous times on Thurs., Nov. 19. But instead of honoring that request, Sara Laurentz allegedly threatened to beat the 26-year-old female employee with a bagful of cans, police said. Laurentz was arrested and charged with misdemeanor menacing.
N.Y.U. ‘fleshman’ Police arrested a 46-year-old man on Sat., Nov.
December 3, 2015
Piss-poor excuse Police said they found “dangerous weapons” on a man who they saw urinating on a public telephone on Fri., Nov. 27. The suspect was allegedly relieving himself near the northeast corner of Eighth Ave. and W. 14th St. when police approached him at about 5:20 p.m. They reportedly found a crack pipe and pepper spray in his possession. Price Coifed, 55, told police that he uses the pepper spray for protection. He was charged with felony weapon possession.
Not-so ‘civic’ driver Police said an intoxicated driver crashed a silver 2014 Honda Civic on Mon., Nov. 23, in front of 534 Hudson St. A police report did not state whether any other vehicles were involved in the incident, but police surmised a cause at about 3:30 a.m. when they saw the driver’s allegedly bloodshot eyes and caught the odor of booze on his breath, according to the report. Police said Paul Niles, 28, turned himself in on Saturday in New Jersey resident Srdan Glisic, connection with a rape committed last Wednesday in the East 29, reportedly blew a .19 blood alcohol River Park amphitheater. level at the Seventh Precinct stationhouse following his arrest and was 21, for allegedly exposing himself inside an N.Y.U. charged with misdemeanor drunk driving. building eight days earlier. A police report stated that Sam Moto, 34, entered 18 Washington Place on Fri., Nov. 13. He sat down at about 2:30 p.m., then Subway sleazo undressed and exposed his penis to an employee, A 60-year-old man had a way of getting caught police said. A police report did not state how police for allegedly getting his sexual kicks in the subway found him more than a week later. Moto was charged with public lewdness, a mis- system on the night of Wed., Nov. 24. Police said that he boarded a southbound 1 train and rubbed demeanor. the left leg of a 13-year-old girl sitting next to him as the train rolled into the Christopher St. station at about 11:30 p.m. He stayed on the train and poSoup ’n’ slug lice were unable to catch him until he popped up After Manraj Multani, 20, broke two plates at several hours later at the W. 28th St. station. The perpetrator walked up to a token booth clerk, Soup ’N’ Burger at 739 Broadway, a store employee told him to leave on Sun., Nov. 22. The 28-year-old exposed his genitals and began playing with them employee approached Multani just before 5 a.m. at 3:40 a.m., according to a police report. Police came and requested that he beat it. But he refused, po- to the station and arrested Connecticut resident Jelice said, and slugged the employee in response. sus Ayala for misdemeanor sexual abuse. Police arrived soon after and arrested Multani for misdemeanor assault.
Wheelie short chase The chase began shortly after 5 a.m. on Sun., Nov. 29. Police said they tried to stop a cyclist who ran two red lights. But instead of obeying, the biker tried to escape by riding on the sidewalk on W. 13th St., Sixth Ave. and W. 12th St. However, the cops were able to catch the suspect at the northeast corner of W. 12th St. and Seventh Ave. shortly afterward. A police report stated that Michael Palacios, 24, had a glass pipe with narcotics residue on his person. He was arrested and charged with resisting arrest, a misdemeanor.
Asking for a free swipe into the subway resulted in a trip to jail for a 21-year-old on Fri., Nov. 27. Police said they saw Terry Pittman asking for a free fare at the Eighth Avenue L train station at about 6 p.m. They searched his person after arresting him and discovered a scalpel blade in the possession of the transit recidivist, according to a police report. Pittman vainly pleaded that the blade was for personal protection. He was charged with felony weapon possession.
Zach Williams and Lincoln Anderson TheVillager.com
John ‘Cha Cha’ Ciarcia, 69, ‘Mayor of Little Italy’ OBITUARY
ohn “Cha Cha” Ciarcia, a wellknown restaurateur, boxing promoter, actor, celebrity manager, radio host, producer and longtime owner of Little Italy’s popular Cha Cha’s In Bocca Al Lupo Café on Mulberry St., died Nov. 21, at N.Y.U. Medical Center, following a brief illness, it was announced by his wife and business partner, singer Karen King. He was 69. A former boxing promoter who worked with middleweight and welterweight champions Emile Griffith, Vito Antuofermo and others, he also managed and promoted Tony Danza, before the actor went on to a TV career. Cha Cha was known as “The Mayor of Little Italy,” a title bestowed on him in the 1970s by Madison Square Garden announcer John Condon. His Mulberry St. cafe became a popular hangout over the years for such film luminaries as Danza, Danny DeVito, Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Hugh Grant and Vincent Pastore. He was born and raised on Mulberry St. to an Italian family who
John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia, a.k.a. “Chach.”
had immigrated to the United States from Calabria and Naples. He began his show business career when Scorsese hired him as associate director of casting for “Goodfellas,” providing work for 400 extras.
His film credits include “Goodfellas,” “Hoffa,” “A Brooklyn State of Mind,” “Mamamia” and “Death to Smoochy,” among others. Most recently, he was featured in the HBO series “The Sopranos,”
playing Albie Cianfione. On radio, he was co-host of the weekly Sirius Satellite Radio program “The Wise Guy Show.” He also appeared regularly as a guest co-host on Joey Reynolds’s nationally syndicated late-night radio talk show. His wife, Karen King, along with Danza, recently assumed ownership of one of Little Italy’s oldest cheese shops, Alleva Dairy, at the corner of Grand and Mulberry Sts. In addition to his wife, Ciarcia is survived by a sister, Marie “Mary Anne” Gentile, four aunts, one uncle, five nephews, five nieces, three grandnieces, three grandnephews and one great-great-niece. “Chach,” as he was also known, was a great friend to many and a real lover of his neighborhood and the city of New York. He was one of a kind, and a bright light has gone out on Mulberry St. A wake was held Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, on the afternoon and evening of each day, at the Youth Center of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral, 268 Mulberry St., between Prince and Houston Sts. The Funeral Mass of The Resurrection was held Wed., Dec. 2, at Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral, at Mott and Prince Sts.
Join us for breakfast as we discuss
Estate Planning and Medicaid Basics December 8 at 10:00 AM
Petite Abeille 401 East 20th Street, New York, NY 10010
RSVP at (212) 867-3520 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org TheVillager.com
December 3, 2015
Upstate Maloney’s egregious vote on refugees EDITORIAL
nyone who wonders whether Congressmember Sean Patrick Maloney regrets having given up his days and evenings as a Manhattan attorney in exchange for the life of a minority party House member sitting through long D.C. committee hearings and weekending in his Upstate district to attend pancake breakfasts and ribbon-cuttings should consider just what the openly gay Democrat is willing to do to keep his job. Two weeks ago, the Republican House, in a wildly xenophobic reaction to the Paris tragedy, voted essentially to shut down the entry of Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the U.S. by imposing — on top of already zealous screening procedures — the requirement that the head of the F.B.I., the secretary of Homeland Security, and the director of National Intelligence personally certify that each refugee poses no threat to national security. Democrats who opposed the measure argued that the personal-certification requirement was a cumbersome, infeasible requirement that would effectively block the
Obama administration’s plan to allow entry of 10,000 Syrian refugees fleeing the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in their homeland. Those voting for the measure ignored pleas to consider the plight of women, children and the elderly who are flooding into Turkey, and from there, on into Europe. The president rightly termed the G.O.P. action “hysteria.” This hysteria, of course, has in good measure been “trumped” up by G.O.P. presidential hopefuls, who have wildly inflated the number of refugees headed here — the Donald has used the figure 250,000, with no shame — and the prospective dangers they pose. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has pledged to use the threat of a filibuster to forestall action on the measure. The surety that the refugee measure would remain a “one-house bill” may have comforted the almost four-dozen Democrats who deserted the president to vote with the G.O.P., nearly giving the bill a veto-proof margin. In other words, with Senate action unlikely, House Democrats may have been given leave by their party leaders to cast a “political” vote. There are issues, however, where the ethical considerations should out-
weigh any political calculus, and this is certainly one of them. Maloney was one of the 47 Democratic defectors, and bad as his vote was, his explanation for it was even more egregious: “Our nation has long stood as a beacon of freedom, but after the events of the last few weeks some leaders have given into fear and turned their backs on refugees. These actions are reprehensible, and present a false choice between our values and our security. It’s understandable that people are scared, and Americans have a right to know that the process we use to screen refugees will keep us safe. I have faith in our system, and I don’t believe these refugees — the overwhelming majority of whom are women, elderly and children — threaten our communities or national security. So instead of slowing the program or pausing it, the administration should agree to immediately certify refugees if they pass the current extensive screenings and we should all refocus on actual threats.” Maloney’s assertion that the refugee program can continue despite the legislation’s new constraints is disingenuous, and his effort to distance himself from what he terms the
“reprehensible” actions of his allies on this bill is, in itself, reprehensible. One reader of Maloney’s Facebook posting of his statement — skimming it, clearly — “liked” it, under the false impression that Maloney had stood up to the G.O.P.’s efforts to block refugees. That misimpression probably troubles the congressmember little. Two years ago, Maloney was one of nine Democrats who voted with the Republicans when they shut down the government in their effort to scuttle Obamacare. Despite the fact that Maloney first won his House seat narrowly during the 2012 election, when the president swept New York State and outperformed him in his 18th congressional district, Maloney has repeatedly distanced himself from Obama, while routinely calling himself a Clinton Democrat. Beyond that glibly convenient characterization, Maloney really needs to figure out exactly what kind of Democrat he is and what the heck he is doing in Washington. And it would be reassuring if Hillary Clinton could demonstrate that she is not a Maloney Democrat. This editorial first appeared in Gay City News, a sister publication of The Villager
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Affordable and low height To The Editor: Re “Village Fight Club: Norton and Co. sock it to Blaz on rezoning” (news article, Nov. 26): I live in Chelsea, on 17th St. and Eighth Ave., and we’re running into the same problem — giant buildings, little affordable housing, an overcrowded infrastructure and big changes in our demographics. While there are places for the bigger buildings, and affordable housing is critical (that is, if it real-
ly is affordable), I don’t think the mayor’s plan is working. You need to respect the character of neighborhoods to make constructive change. I really hope the mayor listens to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, because they speak for many Village and Chelsea community members. We want truly affordable housing, but we don’t want to lose the character of our neighborhoods. Martha Gotwals
A false sense of security To The Editor: Re “Are we all sex offenders?” (Rhymes With Crazy, by Lenore Skenazy, Nov. 26) and “Chelsea ‘dark dentist’ busted on meth, child porn charges” (news article, Nov. 26): The true sexual predators rarely get caught because they victimize small children who are unreliable witnesses. These predators know that their victims are defenseless and voiceless, which makes their sexual deviancy even more heinous. The existing sex-offender registry is a very sad state of affairs because it provides a false sense of security and it is filled with names of people who pose no risk to the public. Such is life in the U.S.A. Question: Was Dr. John Wolf’s name on the sex-offender registry? Answer: No it was not. In fact, 97.5 percent of all sex crimes are perpetrated by people not on the sex-offender registry. Paul Martin
Do tombs hold answers? To The Editor: Re “Burial vaults’ discovery once more unearths park’s past as a potter’s field” (news article, Nov. 26): As someone who has ancestors from both LETTERS continued on p. 26
December 3, 2015
John Waters, from Christmas craziness to Caitlyn have to switch — you have to get your hair done in a different neighborhood once a year, like jury duty, and send your kid to school for a year, have a drink in a bar in the economic opposite of where you live, and I think that would turn out to help a little. It’s tough, but Baltimore, I still love it! I have an apartment in New York. But Baltimore is the only city left where you can be a bohemian. You can in Baltimore, it’s so cheap.
INTERVIEW BY LINCOLN ANDERSON Like a wayward savior for the Christmas damaged, John Waters, the legendary filmmaker (“Female Trouble,” “Hairspray,” “Serial Mom”), raconteur and author will take the stage at City Winery on Sun., Dec. 6, as part of his tour for “A John Waters Christmas: Holier and Dirtier,” his 70-minute one-man show. Coming to town toting a bag full of sticks and stones, he’ll be spreading yuletide cheer and lunacy with his madcap rapidfire stand-up performance. Waters a.k.a. “The People’s Pervert” a.k.a. “The Pope of Trash” acknowledges that he personally feels “Christmas crazy,” and as always, is “needy, greedy, horny for presents and filled with an unnatural desire to please.” His “Christmas massacre” monologue asks questions like, “Is Santa erotic?” and “Are the holidays a better time for criminals?” He delves into his hatred of holiday gift cards and much, much more. On a recent visit to New York, Waters, 69, who lives in his native Baltimore, but still keeps a place in the Village, took a moment out of his busy schedule to talk to The Villager on the phone about his show and life in general.
V: Generally speaking, where is your apartment Downtown? W: It’s not the East Village, it’s not the West Village — historic Greenwich Village! I’ve had this apartment since 1990. I miss the lunch counter at Bigelow, that’s how long I’ve been coming to this neighborhood, since I was a 17-year-old runaway staying at the Hotel Earle [the current Washington Square Hotel], scariest hotel in the whole world. I remember the Women’s House of Detention. I remember the Eighth St. Bookshop. In a way, no kid today could come and hitchhike here and wander around the Village and find a place to crash. There isn’t really a place to do that anymore — but there isn’t anywhere, except Baltimore!
VILLAGER: Can you tell us a bit about the Christmas show? WATERS: I’m constantly putting new material in it. I change it, I’ve been memorizing it today. It’s about how to be happy at Christmas, even if you’re crazy, even if your family’s nuts, even if you don’t believe in Christmas, if you hate Christmas. Christmas brings out lunatic behavior in people, so I try to cover that and give you advice on how to survive it.
V: You can buy a house for peanuts in Detroit now.
V: Sounds great! O.K., to move right to a more heavy topic, regarding the Freddie Gray shooting and riots in Baltimore earlier this year, how is that city healing? And also what do you think of Martin O’Malley, a former mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland, running for president?
W: Well, I’ve always been against separatism. My gay fans don’t even get along with other gay people. They have trouble even in the gay community. … I think “gay” is not enough anymore — it’s a good start.
W: Hah! You know, he’s my friend. … I thought this was about my Christmas show! … Certainly, he comes to my Christmas party every year. I hope he’s not going to be too busy on his campaign to come to my Christmas party this year. I’m a big fan of his wife. She would make an even better first lady than Bill Clinton. I’m a fan of both Hillary and the governor. So, who knows what’s going to happen. In Baltimore, I’ve always said that the problem is that nobody explores the other neighborhoods. And that’s the issue there, that everybody should TheVillager.com
W: The problem is Detroit isn’t near anything, Baltimore is! V: You recently said at a college graduation speech that gays shouldn’t get stuck in the “gay ghetto,” so to speak.
V: People say you were obsessed by things like gore and violence as a kid. W: Well...I’m not a violent person. I don’t think I’ve ever hit anybody in my entire life. But I’m interested in extremes and behavior that I can’t understand, yes. If I wasn’t a filmmaker, I would be a defense lawyer. V: Interesting. Where do you think that comes from in you?
PHOTO BY GREG GORMAN
A real stand-up guy, John Waters is interested in all kinds of extreme behavior — such as that exhibited during Christmas, for example.
W: Because I try to understand even the most depraved people. And WATERS continued on p. 31 December 3, 2015
What would Francis do? Voting on the S.B.J.S.A. TALKING POINT BY SHARON WOOLUMS
uring his heralded visit to our city in September, Pope Francis sent a powerful message to elected officials to use their office for the good of those most in need, reminding them of their obligation to employ morality and ethics when making political decisions that could lessen the suffering caused by unbridled greed. Two years ago, in criticizing capitalism, Francis said, “Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.” For 30 years while City Hall continuously gave the New York City real estate industry a pass, economic justice has been denied small business owners. During this longstanding public-policy vacuum, a tremendous “Darwinian” redistribution of wealth has taken place in New York City — the life’s savings of small entrepreneurs flowing to uninhibited real estate speculators, wreaking havoc on the character of our neighborhoods and instilling fear and uncertainty for small merchants’ futures. Prayers for compassion and spiritual values when determining their fate have remained unanswered for most businesses. The longest debate in the City Council will soon come to an end. At the center of this debate is the question: Do we need a law regulating commercial landlords upon expiration of leases, granting rights to fair lease-term negotiations? Upcoming City Hall public hearings on this issue will be different from all past ones: It won’t just be small businesses versus landlords, rather democracy versus oligarchy, and progressive values versus a corrupt political machine. Small business owners argue that speculators and profiteers have manipulated the commercial market through warehousing storefronts, flipping properties or demanding exorbitant rent increases. The rents demanded, merchants groups argue, have no relationship to the actual costs of operation or reasonable return for landlords. A commercial lease renewal agreement, they say, is little more than an “indentured servitude agreement.”
December 3, 2015
The pope’s description of the “powerful feeding on the powerless” also applies to the plight of the city’s small merchants, the writer says.
The real estate lobby counters that development revitalizes run-down neighborhoods. Older, declining businesses are being replaced by those that new residents welcome, they say. Government should stay out of the commercial real estate market, they warn, or future development and our city’s economic prosperity will be hurt. Several proposals will soon come before the City Council for a hearing and a vote on whether they would
waterfall, in a “trickle down” economic policy. REBNY spokesperson Steve Spinola’s sense of entitlement was exposed when asked by The Villager about the S.B.J.S.A.’s chance of passing (“REBNY president fires back; Says shoppers like Duane Reades, want Walmarts” [news article, March 26, 2015]): “In general, as REBNY members see it, the S.B.J.S.A. would put way too much power in the hands of retail tenants,” Spinola told The Villager. But small business owners with no power — without divine intervention — will go out of business unless a law passes giving them rights to survive. Mayors Koch and Bloomberg, with Speakers Vallone and Quinn, worked in collaboration with REBNY, to stop a vote on the S.B.J.S.A. from ever happening. Otherwise, the bill would have been certain to have passed by now. Now, with the Council’s “progressive” makeup, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in power, and 27 sponsors already signed on to the bill, it could easily pass — if democracy doesn’t get passed over once again at City Hall. But de Blasio and the speaker have been largely silent on this issue — except for murmurings about fines and loans being the major problems facing small businesses. We hope there is not again a plot to stop a vote on the S.B.J.S.A. and substitute a feckless bill
Will our city’s ‘progressive’ leaders heed the pope’s message?
become a law. Each bill’s supporters claim theirs is the one that offers the solution to stop small store closings. What changed after 30 years to finally allow a vote by the full council on the real solution, the Small Business Jobs Survival Act? During that time, the real estate lobby became the number one power in New York City, beginning under Mayor Koch, expanding under Giuliani and enhanced by Bloomberg. An anti-small business/entrepreneur environment was created by placing the Real Estate Board of New York on top of the
in its place. The major pathway for upward mobility for low-income immigrant families has been through small businesses. But politicians have simply watched as the foundation for immigrants’ future crumbles and the American Dream deteriorates into a nightmare of despair. Carlos Menchaca — chairperson of the City Council’s Immigration Committee and the only Hispanic member of the Small Business Committee — along with other city’s immigrant leaders, met with Pope Francis, who called upon them to rely upon morality and ethics as they stand with immigrants. Agreeing with Francis’s message and the need to protect struggling immigrant merchants, Menchaca recently became the S.B.J.S.A.’s 25th sponsor. Immigrants — and Hispanic immigrants above all other groups — comprise the largest number of owners of the city’s small businesses. Which New York City elected officials most need to be guided by Pope Francis’s message? Mayor de Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito and Councilmember Robert Cornegy could have the greatest impact. Mr. Progressive, Mayor de Blasio pledged to take the city in another direction from Bloomberg and end economic inequality. However, Sung Soo Kim, “The Godfather of Small Businesses,” summarized our current mayor’s true record on small businesses. “In my 30 years advocating for small business, no elected official has exhibited as dramatic a change in small business policy as de Blasio,” Kim said. “He has gone the gamut, changing his assessment of the crisis from ‘rent gouging and extortion’ to ‘fines and lack of access to loans,’ a complete flip-flop from his public advocate election when he championed the S.B.J.S.A.” If de Blasio signs a “do nothing” law that merely keeps intact the status quo benefiting only landlords, the cry of betrayal would give new meaning to the word “hypocrite,” in stark contrast to the pope’s message. With this vote, Speaker Mark-Viverito’s legacy, leadership and reputation will be put on the line. As the first Hispanic speaker in New York City, presiding over a diverse Council, will she implement the pope’s message of compassion, creating legislation to correct unregulated greed’s dire consequences? Or will she, like past speakers, thwart a vote, even with the Council’s majority ready to pass a real solution? Councilmember Robert Cornegy, chairperson of the Small BusiS.B.J.S.A. continued on p. 26 TheVillager.com
Everything was ‘ella’ at the Caffe Cino
Magie Dominic recalls the birth of Off-Off Broadway BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC
earning the lingo of the famed Caffe Cino — for many the birthplace of Off-Off Broadway — is easy. Start with “phonaca.” Longtime Chelsea resident, author, artist and Caffe Cino chronicler Magie Dominic explained a “phonaca” is a person who is a real phony, or something that is real pretentious. Next up, “ella,” which could be either a person or a thing, Dominic recalled in a phone interview. “Everything was ‘ella.’ Bring the ella back and put the other one on ella’s table,” she continued. “His inflection probably helped you understand what he was talking about. For some reason, after awhile, it became understandable, and you know what the ella was and what ella to bring back.” Joe Cino, the man behind the influential and iconic Greenwich Village cafe of the ’60s, is the focus of Dominic’s upcoming presentation at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center on Dec. 7, at 6 p.m. Cino ran away from home when he was 16 and came to New York City, Dominic said. “He worked for 10 years and saved every cent, because he had this dream of having a little art gallery and a little Italian café,” she said. “He wanted to show art. That was it. That was his dream.” Dominic met Cino through a friend of a friend. Originally from Newfoundland, Canada, Dominic first moved to Pittsburgh for her studies, and then to New York City sometime around 1964. She immersed herself in the city’s TheVillager.com
PHOTO BY JAMES GOSSAGE
Tourists peeking through the Caffe door, in August of 1966.
poetry scene, much of which was intertwined with the peace movement. “I was writing a lot and reading a lot in coffeehouses, in churches, wherever people were congregating,” she recalled. Someone at a reading introduced her to La MaMa — the experimental theater started by Ellen Stewart. Dominic was working as a stage manager for a show at La MaMa when she encountered playwright
Tom Eyen, now best known for “Dreamgirls.” Eyen introduced her to Cino. “We just got along really well, and I was there from that moment on, until the day it closed,” she said. Dominic acted, worked on sets and costumes, and was a stage manager and assistant director for productions. When Cino opened the Caffe in late 1958, he started by having his friends’ artwork on the wall while
serving coffee and pastries. Then there were poetry readings. Those led to staged readings of plays, and eventually to productions. “That happened really fast,” she explained. “It just took off because there was no place like it.” A lot of the playwrights were gay men that had no other place for their voice, she said. “People felt safe there,” Dominic noted. “It was a very troubled time. The country was exploding with the anti-war movement, the gay rights, civil rights, women’s rights. All these struggles were happening all at the same time.” Dominic said Cino only had one rule about the plays: they had to be under 30 minutes. “Joe said the seats were so uncomfortable no one would sit any longer,” Dominic recalled. The tiny storefront at 31 Cornelia St. had small ice cream parlor chairs and tables, said Dominic. “It wasn’t even a stage, it was just, like, the space between tables,” she said. “The place was officially full when two people were sitting on top of the cigarette machine. That was it, door was closed.” The first original play performed at the Caffe Cino was the anti-war “Flyspray” in the early ’60s, said Dominic. The play’s poster is now part of the Magie Dominic Caffe Cino Archives at the New York Public Library. Discussing pieces from the archive will also be part of her talk. For instance, one of the items in the archive is the Caffe’s menu, which states on its back a $1 miniCAFFE CINO continued on p.20
December 3, 2015
Joe Cino’s ‘magic time’ CAFFE CINO continued from p. 19
mum per person for the shows. “For a dollar, you could get a coffee and an Italian pastry and see a show,” Dominic said. “That was a pretty good deal.” It was also a bargain because of the caliber of talent — actors and playwrights — on display. That list includes Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Tom Eyen, Bette Midler, Edward Albee and Bernadette Peters. “The Cino was [a] very small place, but ended up being incredibly important ’cause so many people got their start there,” she said. Dominic said that at the Caffe Cino they were like family, and she is still in touch with many of them 55 years later.
“I am stunned at how that little place that began with such a humble intention has turned out to be, historically, so important,” she said. “It really changed the face of modern theater. It gave voice to new people.” “Magic Time at the Caffe Cino” with Magie Dominic will be presented on Mon., Dec. 7, 6–8 p.m. at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center, Bruno Walter Auditorium (111 Amsterdam Ave., btw. W. 64th & W. 65th Sts.). Admission is free. Reservations suggested via eventbrite.com/e/magic-timeat-the-caffe-cino-tickets-18824519645. For NYPL info, call 212-642-0142. For artist info, visit magiedominic.blogspot. com. Twitter: @magiedominic
PHOTO BY JAMES GOSSAGE
The cast and crew of “Why Hanna’s Skirt Won’t Stay Down” (1965). Its playwright, Tom Eyen, at right in sports jacket; Joe Cino standing, left, with sleeve rolled up; stage manager Magie Dominic at center, in black.
COURTESY MAGIE DOMINIC
PHOTO BY JAMES GOSSAGE
This poster for the venue’s first original play is part of the Magie Dominic Caffe Cino Archives, open to the public for viewing at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
Lanford Wilson in Claris Nelson’s “The Clown” (1967).
PHOTO BY JAMES GOSSAGE
Joe Cino, left, and the director Marshall Mason.
December 3, 2015
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No humbug here
‘Christmas Carol’ at Merchant’s House is Dickens done right BY TRAV S.D.
have verified empirically what we have all sensed instinctively: there are way too many versions of Charles Dickens’ 1843 story “A Christmas Carol.” It is a powerful, affecting tale and a brilliant piece of writing — but familiarity breeds contempt. If there is anything calculated to turn me into Scrooge, it’s Tinseltown’s plethora of “Christmas Carol” versions, certainly all of the ones made after 1971. That said, live theatre ain’t film. Theatre offers much that film can’t, no matter what’s up on screen. For those things on the screen are far away. They are not here. Whereas, at the 183-yearold Merchant’s House Museum, you step into an environment, really the only environment for an evening of animated Victorian storytelling by a first-rate actor. The cozy old home of the wealthy Tredwell family is decked out for the holidays now, with holly and ivy, pine wreathes and garlands and poinsettias. This is the setting for John Kevin Jones’ solo version of “A Christmas Carol,” a brisk hour in which the spellbinding actor transports us to Dickens’ London, inhabiting at least a couple dozen diverse characters in the bargain. If you’re feeling grumpy (it’s been known to happen to New Yorkers at Christmas), this would be a good way to swing out of it. If you’re feeling jolly, it will make you jollier. As we used to say at theatre school, Jones has an excellent “apparatus” — a terrifically resonant voice, and a practiced skill at deploying it. Those would avail
PHOTO BY JOEY STOCKS
John Kevin Jones’ acting and the setting will make you glad you saw this version of Dickens’ oft-told tale.
nothing if he didn’t know how to entertain, but he does. The true measure: there were two little boys in attendance when I saw it, each under 10 — and Jones held their attention the entire time. With live solo theatre in an old house. In the age of electronic game addiction, this is the true
Christmas miracle. Dec. 10–24 at Merchant’s House Museum (29 E. Fourth St., btw. Lafayette & Bowery). For schedule and tickets ($50–$60, with pre-show celebration option available), visit dickensinnewyork.brownpapertickets.com or call 800-838-3006. Venue info at merchantshouse.org.
‘The Wannabe’ aims for the big leagues Sandow’s first time at bat has reach, but stays in the park BY PUMA PERL
xecutive produced by Martin Scorcese, this is actor Nick Sandow’s first time out as both writer and director. Based on real-life events, it tells the story of Thomas Greco (Vincent Piazza), a Gotti-obsessed, unwelcome hanger-on. Desperate to find his “in” with the mob, Thomas concocts a delusionary and naïve scheme to fix Gotti’s trial. Along the way, he hooks up with Rose (Patricia Arquette), a much older, beenaround-the-block (including the prison block) kind of gal. Their first meeting occurs at a Howard Beach block party outside the Gotti headquarters. He preens like John Travolta in his white suit. She flirts like a neighborhood Flamenco dancer, using her People Magazine as a fan. “Who the hell is he?” asks her friend, Annie. “The ice cream man?” Eventually, one of Gotti’s henchmen confronts Thomas, demanding to know who invited him. Rose steps in. “He’s with me,” she announces, shoving a sausage sandwich into his hand. And, from then on, he was. In a lifestyle where the greatest badge of success TheVillager.com
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE FILMMAKERS
Thomas (Vincent Piazza) and Rose (Patricia Arquette) form an intense alliance, in Nick Sandow’s cinematic debut as a writer/director.
is to be “connected,” Rose and Thomas form an intense alliance, and bit by bit cast aside all traces of respectability. Both have despairing brothers who try to help in any way they can. Michael Imperioli, decked out in an unlikely ponytail and large glasses, plays the small but pivotal role of Thomas’ soft-spoken brother, a florist continuing the family
business. Nick Sandow does a great job doing triple duty as Rose’s policeman brother, accurately conveying a mix of rage, frustration and intense familial love. Meanwhile, the couple not only continues their insane plan to free Gotti, but descends into a drug-filled haze, deteriorating before our eyes. A clinical diagnosis of this pair might be folie à deux — a madness shared by two. The Scorcese name brings up images of his gritty New York City films, and the actors in his original stable. This is not “Mean Streets,” and we do not see the likes of a young De Niro. But the acting is uniformly good, particularly from Patricia Arquette, who brings a ferocious blend of hilarity and heartbreak. Courtroom scenes, actual news footage, and depictions of city characters and events bring added authenticity to a film that doesn’t quite measure up, but is a definite wannabe. Written, directed and co-starring Nick Sandow. Runtime: 90 minutes. Opens Dec. 4 at AMC Empire 25 (234 W. 42nd St., btw. Seventh & Eight Aves.). For screening times, visit amctheatres.com. December 3, 2015
‘Hitchcock/Truffaut’ is fun, inessential fluff Impressive talking heads gush, but fail to illuminate BY SEAN EGAN
lfred Hitchcock was not always considered an exceptional director, let alone one of the all-time greats. Indeed, critics and audiences saw him as more of a popular entertainer than a serious artist. Much of the credit for rehabilitating his image from frivolous thrill-peddler to masterful cinematic artist goes to Francois Truffaut — the erstwhile French auteurist from Cahiers du Cinema turned New Wave director, who harbored a great deal of admiration and respect for the portly British filmmaker. In 1962, following the release of such celebrated films as “The 400 Blows,” Truffaut contacted Hitchcock to arrange a week-long interview, in order to publish a serious review of Hitch’s oeuvre. The result of this meeting between the two towering figures of film history — and the ostensible subject of the eponymous new doc from Kent Jones — was Truffaut’s “Hitchcock/ Truffaut,” a book-length conversation that outlined Hitchcock’s creative process, ingenuity behind the camera, and outlook on the world. Any semi-serious student of film is likely to know this book, which has become something of a sacred text for filmmakers — no less an authority than Wes Anderson pops up in the movie to admit to always having his beyond dog-eared copy (which he describes as just a stack of papers) with him while working on his own films. The main problem with “Hitchcock/Truffaut” is that it’s not really about the monumental work at its center — in fact, it’s not even really about the relationship between the two directors. Mostly, it’s an excuse to trot out a plethora of impressive talking heads in order to gush about Hitchcock’s impact on cinema and influence on them — with some archival photos from the Truffaut interview sessions, excerpts from the book, and audio recordings of the chat brought out to supplement their comments. For the type of film buff or scholar likely to get excited by a documentary brandished with the title of one of the most famous written works on film, “Hitchcock/Truffaut” provides very little in the way of information that would not be common knowl-
December 3, 2015
PHOTO BY PHILIPPE HALSMAN, COURTESY COHEN MEDIA GROUP
Alfred Hitchcock and Francois Truffaut strike a pose for a promotional picture.
edge to them, nor does it prod its notable interviewees to delve into Hitch’s work in critical or illuminating ways. It seems doubtful that a casual Hitchcock fan, who might learn something from it, would have the drive to queue up a feature-length doc on the man (they’d do better to simply watch more of Hitchcock’s films, or pick up any of the excellent biographies or critial surveys of his work). Anyone looking for a more revealing look at Truffaut would best look elsewhere, as the treatment of his life and creative output is looked at quickly and cursorily, and his pro-
cess in prepping for and editing the central book remains largely unexamined beyond “he did it.” The movie, however, is quite enjoyable — a hagiographic fluff piece, but one of the highest order. It’s fun to see luminaries like Martin Scorsese, Richard Linklater and Peter Bogdanovich earnestly geek out about one of their favorite directors. David Fincher, in particular, is hilariously candid with his straight-shooting language and dry sense of humor when expressing his admiration for (and debt to) Hitchcock. At a sprightly 80 minutes, “Hitch-
cock/Truffaut” doesn’t overstay its welcome, and integrates its film clips and archival material seamlessly. Still, for a man whose literary adaptations (“Rebecca,” “Psycho,” “The Birds”) repeatedly defied the axiom “the book is better than the movie,” it’s disappointing that Jones couldn’t produce a documentary that followed suit. “Hitchcock/Truffaut” runs 80 min. Written by Kent Jones and Serge Toubiana. Directed by Kent Jones. Through Dec. 15 at Film Forum (209 W. Houston St., btw. Sixth Ave. & Varick St.). Call 212-7278110 or visit filmforum.org. TheVillager.com
Merry and bright
Holiday songs and sales BY SCOTT STIFFLER
WASHINGTON SQUARE TREE LIGHTING AND CAROLING
From Charlie Hebdo to Black Lives Matter to last month’s Paris attacks, Washington Square Park has been a gathering place for expressions of grief, solidarity, and resolve. As this violent year draws to a close, “Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men” is a sentiment that will ring out in grand, communal style — when The Washington Square Association hosts two carol singing sessions backed by the Rob Susman Brass Quartet. On Dec. 9, Santa Claus (candy canes in hand) will lead the illumination countdown, after which the switch will be flipped on a 45-foot tree under the Arch, and yuletide songs will be sung. The caroling takes place again on Christmas Eve. At the Washington Square Park Arch (Fifth Ave., one block south of Eighth St.). At 6 p.m. on Wed., Dec. 9 and at 5 p.m. on Thurs., Dec. 24. Call 212-2523621 or visit washingtonsquarenyc.org. The tree will be lit for the season, daily, between 4 p.m. and 1 a.m.
23 DAYS OF FLATIRON CHEER
The Flatiron Partnership’s list of riches puts “The Twelve Days of Christmas” to shame — without asking you to provide housing for calling birds, pipers, and the other 10 gifts. The public plazas near the iconic Flatiron Building may have ample room for maids to milk and ladies to dance, but this 23-day event has more practical (and fun) uses in mind. Performances, social media contests, holiday-themed walking tours, fitness classes and hot beverages are among the quality freebies. Give back by donating to a drive, which supports the Food Bank For New York City. A Dec. 22 event invites you to create Solstice Stars, with the help of staff from the nearby MoMath (National Museum of Mathematics). Through Dec. 23, at the public plazas beside and across from the Flatiron Building (23rd St. at Fifth Ave. & Broadway). Access the schedule at FlatTheVillager.com
PHOTO BY KEN HOWARD
PHOTO BY 3M, COURTESY FLATIRON PARTNERSHIP
The Rob Susman Brass Quartet provides music, The Washington Square Association supplies songbooks, and you lend your voice: Dec. 9 and 24.
The crystalline “Nova” installation provides visual stimulation and creative photo ops for those attending “23 Days of Flatiron Cheer” events.
ironDistrict.nyc. Facebook: FlatironDistrict.nyc/facebook. Twitter & Instagram: @FlatironNY. Use the hashtag #NovaFlatiron when posting holiday images on Twitter and Instagram to be entered into social media contests.
THE ARChive OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC HOLIDAY RECORD & CD SALE
No matter how good you’ve been or how politely you ask, Santa can’t leave a downloaded song under the tree — and why would he want to, when the busy elves at ARCHive of Contemporary Music have lined their shelves and bins with over 50,000 tactile items of interest? Proceeds from this annual sale help support the nonprofit music archive, library and research center, which collects, preserves and provides information on popular music from 1950 to the present. Among the sounds and sights up for grabs at this sale: collectible LPs priced
IMAGE COURTESY ARChive OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC
The ARChive of Contemporary Music has something for at least 50,000 people on your “Nice” list.
below book/online value, 20,000 CDs (starting at $3), ’60s psychedelic posters, audio equipment, music magazines, videos, DVDs, and an Astroturf Yard Sale section full of vintage kitchen wares and clothing.
Dec. 5–20, daily, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. At the ARCHive of Contemporary Music ground floor office, 54 White St. (3 blocks south of Canal St., btw. Broadway & Church Sts.). Call 212-226-6967 or visit arcmusic.org. December 3, 2015
To Advertise Call: 646-452-2490 LegalAds@TheVillager.com Deadline â€“ 12 noon Wednesday
December 3, 2015
To Advertise Call: 646-452-2490 LegalAds@TheVillager.com Deadline â€“ 12 noon Wednesday
December 3, 2015
N.Y.U. plan antis exercised over Coles closure COLES continued from p. 1
Mark Crispin Miller, a professor of media studies at the school and a leader of N.Y.U. Faculty Against the Sexton Plan, which opposes the development. “We don’t believe that this real estate plan is in N.Y.U.’s best interest,” he said. “But for the time being, at the very least, we can’t see any sense in closing a huge facility for which they don’t have an adequate replacement.” According to a memo sent out on Nov. 13 by Christopher Bledsoe, N.Y.U.’s assistant vice president for student affairs and director of athletics, the gym will close on Jan. 22. Matt Nagel, a university spokesperson, said the school tried to accommodate users during the closure — until a new facility opens in the “Zipper Building,” which will replace Coles — by lowering prices for community members who are not affiliated with N.Y.U. and providing access to three replacement gyms over the next few years. The “Zipper” will be the first building of the four-building project to be constructed. In a statement, Nagel said, “We developed these plans in as responsive a fashion as we could, while also accomplishing our three main goals of permitting student athletes to continue to compete; enabling others to
exercise and stay fit; and minimizing layoffs for Coles’ student and professional staff members.” The replacement facilities include the Palladium dorm athletic facility on E. 14th St., the Brooklyn athletic facility at the N.Y.U. Tandon School of Engineering (formerly N.Y.U. Polytechnic) campus in Metrotech in Downtown Brooklyn, and a new facility in a building N.Y.U. is renovating on Lafayette St. that will open once Coles closes. But the school’s plan isn’t enough for Miller and his fellow critics, who decry the alternatives as insufficient and ill conceived. “It won’t even come close to being adequate,” said Bo Riccobono, an N.Y.U. adjunct professor and a longtime member of Community Board 2. “It’s total nonsense,” he said. According to N.Y.U.’s Web site, the low-rise Coles facility currently covers 142,000 square feet and serves up to 3,500 people every day. The university did not provide information for comparison on the size of the three replacement facilities before press time, and also didn’t specify how large the new gym in the “Zipper Building” would be and when it is expected to open. A flier from N.Y.U. FASP, however, claims the three fitness centers only add up to less than 50,000 square feet.
“The fact is that all three of those spaces comprise a fraction of the space in Coles,” Miller stated. Miller said the university administration has mostly been unresponsive to pamphlets and e-mails on the issue sent out by faculty and students; but he still hopes N.Y.U. might decide to delay demolition until a more appropriate alternative is found. “What is the big hurry? Why are they rushing into this?” he said. “If they do it prematurely, everybody is
going to suffer here.” Speaking of Tandon, in addition, on Wednesday, members of N.Y.U.’s graduate students union protested outside of Coles, decrying a list of 15 grievances against the university, including that Coles “was the site of a massive job loss for graduate workers from...Tandon.” Tandon, the protesters note, has a largely international student population who are ineligible to work off campus.
PHOTO BY JONATHAN ALPEYRIE
The Coles gym on Mercer St. is heavily used by N.Y.U. students and faculty, as well as non-university-affiliated community members.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR What would Francis do? LETTERS continued from p. 16
groups — one ancestor from the Scotch Presbyterian Church who died of the fever in 1801, and my other ancestors, his African-American cousins and children who traveled with him — I hope enough survives from this discovery to do some DNA testing and comparisons. I have extensive genealogical records of my Scottish ancestor but very little of the African Americans, because of the restrictions of the time and the laws banning the preservation of records of black people. At least in Jamaica, the Scots were defiant enough to keep records. So
far, though, I have not found any civic or church records in New York, except for the obituary and Scotch Presbyterian Church connection of my Scottish ancestor, Joseph Smellie. Pearl Duncan E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to email@example.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.
SOUND OFF! Write a letter to the editor
December 3, 2015
S.B.J.S.A. continued from p. 18
ness Committee — having the central role and responsibility for the future of small business — will decide if entrepreneurs get a fair and honest debate on all proposals and a vote by the full Council, or if government will again rig the system, with career bureaucrats scheming with the real estate lobby to deny democracy. “Hard to employ” and underemployed African-American young males’ best job opportunities come from the breaks small businesses give them. The right solution will ensure that pathway remains open, not closed. If this crisis worsens, it will end hope and opportunity for those needing jobs to ensure stability in their families and neighborhoods. Cornegy’s top priority also must be to protect jobs that African-American working single mothers — with the cost of living skyrocketing — can’t afford to lose. Will Cornegy heed Francis’s wisdom? In my nine prior columns on this topic, I viewed solving this problem as a moral imperative. But it took the pope
to frame it in no uncertain terms and so definitively that this subject cannot be denied. Francis has injected economic inequality into the equation and is challenging politicians to step up. In this time of crisis, our representatives must finally represent our interests. The “game” is over: No more angling for how little they can do to say they did something. It is no longer O.K. to drag hard-working people through the muddy waters of uncertainty and leave them to drown because you can. We can no longer stand by and watch our mom-and-pop stores disappear into the sinkhole of neglect and apathy by a so-called “progressive” administration that pretends to care. Deceit is shameful and insulting — especially when it’s obvious. But no amount of “Hail Marys” can persuade a hardened heart corrupted by a political machine with just one goal — political ambition, the bottom line — truly, political bottom feeders. It’s time to go fishin’ folks. “They” won’t have a prayer if you get out and vote — and vote with your conscience. TheVillager.com
Silver, who once had the juice, now faces jail ELECTION continued from p. 8
endorse him. I said, ‘How about getting the endorsement of your co-leader? Or how about you endorse your co-leader?’ “This is all too soon,” Quinn said. “Take a deep breath. This is a terrible thing for Silver. This is a terrible thing for the community. I’m not ready to endorse anybody. We just had a freakin’ disaster here. It’s not a good thing. Give it a rest.” Plus, there are other parts of the district yet to be heard from, he added. “What’s happening on Grand St.?” he asked, referring to Silver’s base. “Has anybody spoken to the Chinese? I’m waiting for Virginia Kee to weigh in,” he said of the U.D.O. co-founder and president emeritus. U.D.O. won’t be frantically rushing to tout its candidate to succeed Silver, if it has one, he said. “In that community, respect is very important,” he noted.
No Loeser “If Jessica Loeser was here, she would be the heir apparent,” Quinn said, referring to the former district leader and Silver staffer. But he said he spoke to Loeser a few months ago, and she doesn’t plan to return to the Lower East Side. “She’s happy, she has kids,” he said. “She’s in Riverdale, it’s beautiful.” Meanwhile, Karen Blatt, Loeser’s successor as district leader, isn’t as well known, Quinn said.
Recalls early Silver Quinn, who was a strong Silver supporter, said he remembers how, early in the assemblymember’s political career, he was a real neighborhood presence, waging battle on behalf of community issues. “When we had the prison barge down here, at the end of Montgomery St., Shelly fought it,” he recalled, “and he got rid of it. Two guys had broken out and hid in the bushes by the school. “Before he was speaker, he was always at war with Ed Koch — over the prison barge, over everything. He and Ed Koch didn’t get along.” And Silver was in the community, he added. “I remember Shelly giving me a coupon for Pepsi in Pathmark,” Quinn recalled. “He said, ‘I got a coupon for Pepsi, it’s on sale.’ “He was in the community, he knew what was going on. He used to play basketball in the park, Sol Lain Park / Ed Garcia Park. He was a basketball player.” A few weeks ago, Quinn told The Villager he thought both Newell, 40, and Rajkumar, 33, lacked the community experience to be assemblymember. He hasn’t backed away from that stance. In addition, Quinn said the 65th A.D. is an “East Side seat” — with a large amount of public housing on the Lower East Side — so D.I.D., which is based in Soho, shouldn’t expect to be the kingmaker.
Cancel not a candidate Meanwhile, anonymous posters on thevillager. com accused Quinn of actually wanting his wife, TheVillager.com
ILLUSTRATION BY ELIZABETH WILLIAMS
Bob Townley, executive director of Manhattan Youth, the Tribeca-based youth program, at Silver’s trial on Mon, Dec. 23, during the case’s closing statements. Silver helped Manhattan Youth get its start and supported the group over the years.
District Leader Alice Cancel, to run for the open seat. But he said it’s not true. “O.K., I think she’d be great,” he said. “She said if I started pushing her to run, she’d divorce me. I’d love to keep my marriage intact.” For Quinn, losing Silver and his clout is something the state committeeman still can’t get over. “Shelly was the greatest thing to happen for the neighborhood since Alfred E. Smith was speaker,” he said. “Did he get schools built, programs funded? He had the juice to do it. The Spruce St. School, that was totally Shelly. He put the pressure on [for funding and projects], and he brought stability to the community.”
‘Time to move forward’ But for many others, Silver’s ouster is a breath of fresh air, a long-awaited chance for a new start and political reform in Lower Manhattan. “Justice in Lower Manhattan has been served, and now it is time to move forward,” said the LES Dwellers’ Boyd. “We still have a long way to go to fix our battered democracy. But for the first time in 40 years, there is a real opportunity to shake up the system and end the machine politics and pay-toplay culture in the 65th Assembly District.”
East Side cred claims To those that say the two young co-district leaders from D.I.D. don’t have enough community experience, both Newell and Rajkumar said that’s far from the truth. “I am a proud Lower East Sider,” Newell said, “the fourth generation of my family to live Downtown. And Quinn’s right that the bulk of the population is on the East Side. But all Lower Manhattan neighborhoods need representation and fighting for.
“Public housing is indeed very important in the district, as are Mitchell-Lamas, co-ops, rent-stabilized units and project-based Section 8 housing,” he added. “Maintaining our diversity of housing stock will have to be a priority for anyone looking to represent the district.” As for Rajkumar, she responded, “Anyone who has followed my career at all knows that as district leader and in my professional life, I’ve developed a tremendously strong connection to the Lower East Side. Just this year, I organized a free legal clinic offering housing law services in Spanish, Chinese and English to over 1,000 residents of public housing, Mitchell-Lamas and co-ops on the Lower East Side. We had a packed house. “I’ve worked repeatedly with community and housing groups on the Lower East Side and in Chinatown, and I’m part of the SWEAT coalition fighting to pass a workers’ rights bill in Albany that would help workers recover stolen wages. I’ve met personally with hundreds, if not thousands, of residents of the public housing complexes to discuss their interests and issues. I’m enormously proud of the work I’ve done on the East Side and of the wonderful relationships I’ve built there.”
Silver’s lingering clout Sean Sweeney, a leading member of D.I.D., acknowledged Quinn is right, that it is an East Side district. He said he expected that more people will come forward who are interested in the seat — and also that Silver will exert his considerable influence. “I bet other names will emerge,” Sweeney said. “There is always the oddball gadfly that no one can predict. And I am sure Shelly would not want a D.I.D. member to replace him. I don’t think he has ever supported a D.I.D. candidate for any office — save for Alan Gerson for City Council in 2001. So, I bet the other clubs will search desperately to make sure the Reform Democratic club — D.I.D. — has an opponent.” December 3, 2015
December 3, 2015
December 3, 2015
PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Horn players blew sweet sounds as they rode in the vintage subway cars.
Riding in style, circa 1930s.
‘Take the “A” Train’ rides again to mark composer’s centennial BY TEQUILA MINSKY
he subway train’s location and departure were very hushhush. It was a nostalgia train painted a flat green with wicker seats, ceiling fans and 1930s-era ads in the vintage cars from the New York Transit Museum’s antique fleet. The train was brought out to celebrate the centennial of the birth of Billy Strayhorn, the composer of “Take the ‘A’ Train,” and to kick off the holiday season. Seven years after the opening of the A subway line, Duke Ellington gave jazz composer and musician Strayhorn directions on how to get to a new job in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem. This was the inspiration for Strayhorn’s famous standard, which became the Ellington band’s signature tune and a soundtrack of sorts for millions of straphangers. By late Sunday afternoon, the waiting train on the D train track at the W. 145th St. and Amsterdam Ave. station delighted those who found their way there. Meanwhile, Strayhorn family members, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and her husband, Cal Snyder, and dozens of straphangers circled the bevy of jazz musicians performing on the station’s lower platform. The day’s jazz artists, the Donald Malloy Quartet and the Evan Sherman Entourage, are part of the M.T.A.’s Music Under New York program.
December 3, 2015
When the train took off around 5 p.m. the musicians joined the crowded train, playing in two cars, sometimes serenading select riders during the entire A train express ride with stops from W. 145th St. to Columbus Circle. The bands continued to play while riding up the escalator, then switched to New Orleans style while marching along Broadway to Jazz at Lincoln Center. The nostalgia train rode on along the A train route. The A train went into service in 1932. It’s the world’s longest subway route at more than 32 miles. Three hundred cars were originally ordered under contract R-1. As the IND expanded through the ’30s, orders were placed under contracts R-4, R-6, R-7 and R-9, adding 1,703 new cars to the IND system. The nostalgia train included a selection of the vintage subway cars. More than 350 musicians currently are in the M.T.A.’s music program, playing blues, classical folk, jazz, Latin, reggae and rock, performing on fiddles, guitars, harps, horns, koras, saws, and steel drums, at 31 sites throughout the subway system. The program began in 1985. M.T.A. Arts & Design produced the celebratory day of travel, jazz and history, with collaborators Jazz at Lincoln Center, NYC Transit, the Transit Museum and the Music Under NY team. In June 2016, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will wrap up the season by celebrating Billy Strayhorn with Wynton Marsalis. Strayhorn died in 1967.
Borough President Gale Brewer and hubby, Cal Snyder, were “all aboard,” as they grooved to the classic jazz tunes.
Straphangers checked out the vintage ads. TheVillager.com
Waters crazy about Christmas WATERS continued from p. 17
I always am intrigued by human behavior I can’t understand. That’s what my humor is about, that’s what my Christmas show is about. ’Cause Christmas makes everyone act in a way that is not human! [laughs] V: You have lobbied for a member of the Manson Family to get out of jail. Why? W: That is way too complicated for a quick answer. I wrote a whole chapter in my book “Role Models” explaining why. I believe Leslie Van Houten, who after three trials was given a life sentence with the possibility of parole has served enough time — 45 years. She has an excellent prison record, looks back on her crime with shame, horror and guilt, and takes full responsibility for her part. Be glad your children never met Manson. V: Transgender issues are so big now… W: Oh, I’ve done that! I’ve covered all that. To me drag kings are much more interesting. I cheer on Chelsea Manning more than Caitlyn Jenner. I’m for all of them, it’s all good. But it’s not new to me. I had a transgendered comedian in “Pink Flamingos” in 1972. It doesn’t seem new to me — suddenly it’s new everywhere. I’m all for everybody being what they want to be. But I am against why do gay people have to be so serious now? We can never make jokes? We have to give trigger warnings? Is there a gay trigger warning we have to give every time we make a comment? Every professor in rich-kid schools has to give trigger warnings, so they will not offend the feelings of the students — which I thought that’s why you went to college. V: So, “I Am Cait,” is that interesting or not interesting to you? W: I didn’t watch it. There’s also a porn movie out called “Caitlyn Gender,” I think that’s funny, too. He is a Republican reality star. I think Caitlyn probably has a sense of humor, hopefully. He’d have to. And I am politically correct. I think I’m completely politically correct. Nobody ever gets mad at anything I say anymore. V: When you’re back in the Village, what do you like to do? W: This morning, I went to about seven art shows today, very quickly. I went over to Chelsea and saw a lot of new art. TheVillager.com
V: Do you have places you like to eat, or bars you like? W: I wish we had a real food store here. What happened to the regular A&P, where you could get not-recycled toilet paper? [laughs] I miss a general food store, everything’s so fancy. I miss A&P. I like the fancy stores, too, but I don’t buy paper towels at Whole Food. [laughs] My beef is that suppose I want just a regular jar of peanut butter? Maybe I don’t want organic paper towels. V: Was getting kicked out of your dorm for smoking pot while you were a student at N.Y.U. actually a positive for you? W: Well, it made me go home to Baltimore and get off my pot-smoking a-- and make my second movie, “Roman Candles.” It wasn’t really N.Y.U.’s fault — I would have been thrown out of any school at that point in my life. I do chuckle when I walk by Joe Weinstein dorm. I mean, to this day, no one who has ever paid me one cent has ever asked if I had a college degree. V: You read The Villager, right? W: I’m a subscriber! I get 100-andsome magazines a month, but yours is the only one I get delivered to my New York apartment. All the rest come to Baltimore. I might be away for a month, and I get four of ’em at once and I read ’em, I really catch up. I think it’s a very, very good paper. V: So, you’re really interested in local news? W: Well, I always read the crime stories. [laughs] And you cover old bohemians and old beatniks and people that I forgot — I think, “Oh, my God, I remember that guy!” I think you really cover the history of the Village very well, too. V: I hear you also like our sister paper Gay City News. W: I also think Gay City News is really good, and covers the politics here in an aggressive, smart way. I am a big fan of both those papers. For tickets to “A John Waters Christmas,” at City Winery, at 155 Varick St., on Sun., Dec. 6, go to http://www.citywinery.com/newyork/johnwaters120615. htm or call 212-608-0555. Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m. V.I.P. tickets include a meet-andgreet with Waters after the show.
PHOTO BY ARTHUR DE GAETA
Running back Michael Chiarovano and Xavier High School’s offense ground out the hard yards against Fordham Prep in the championship game.
Xavier champion football team was on another level SPORTS BY JOSEPH STASZEWSKI
imply the best. That’s what this year’s Xavier football team ensured it is with a 15-13 victory over rival Fordham Prep in the 92nd annual Turkey Bowl at Aviator Sports Complex, near Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field, on Thanksgiving Day. The win made this the first Knights club to win 11 games in a season. Add that to a Catholic High School Football League Class AA title and the first four-game Thanksgiving winning streak since 1983-86 and it makes for an impressive résumé. It is one that left no question in Coach Chris Stevens’s mind where the 2015 team ranks in the history of a program that began playing late in the 19th century. “It’s not maybe. It’s not arguably,” Stevens said. “It’s the best team ever.” The achievement didn’t come easy. Xavier (11-1) beat Holy Trinity 14-7 in its regular season finale, trailed Kellenberg by a score before winning 2914 in the quarterfinals, beat St. John the Baptist by just 14-0, and needed a touchdown thanks to a blocked punt late in the fourth quarter to beat Christ the King for the C.H.S.F.L. AA crown. The Chelsea team’s lone defeat came to C.K. on a last-second touchdown pass. “They got grit, they got moxie and character,” Stevens said. “We find a way.” The Turkey Bowl was no different. The Knights needed to withstand one last push from Fordham after the Manhattan squad took a 15-7 lead on a 3-yard touchdown run from Michael Chiarovano with 3:03
to go in the game. The Bronx team engineered a 12-play, 74-yard scoring drive. It ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass from the Rams’ Matt Valecce to Jack Casella with 29 seconds remaining. Valecce (12 of 28 passing, for 80 yards) threw behind Casella on the 2-point conversion, though, and Xavier was able to exhale and celebrate. “It’s 130 years and we can take on any of those teams,” Chiarovano said. “It’s an amazing accomplishment.” Things didn’t start as well in this game as they ended, though. Fordham (7-4) led 7-0 at the half and intercepted Xavier twice, including in the end zone in the closing seconds of the second quarter. The Knights finally got on the board when they went 80 yards in 15 plays for a score on the opening drive of the second half. Chiarovano (41 carries, 157 yards) capped it with a 2-yard touchdown run, but Matthew Lydon’s extra point attempt was no good off the right upright. The Rams still led 7-6. But Lydon, who also had an interception, redeemed himself. He collected an interception and pinned Fordham at its 2-yard line with a punt. The field position led to a key play in the game. Xavier, like it did most of the game, got pressure on Fordham QB Valecce. Fordham was called for a hold while trying to protect him. It resulted in a safety and an 8-7 lead for Xavier with 9:19 to play in the contest. The Knights never relinquished the lead and claimed the title of best Xavier team ever. The feat still felt like a dream immediately after the game. “I think it is going to take a couple of days for me,” said Frank Masella, the game’s most valuable player. “This was my last game with everybody on this team. It’s going to set in in a couple of days. It hasn’t settled in, maybe when I am eating some turkey.” December 3, 2015
Jacob a. Riis Revealing New York’s Other Half Inequality remains a fact of life in America. A century later, this New York master’s photos still explode with outrage.
“heart - rending retrospective ” – The New York Times
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December 3, 2015
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