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

December 4, 2014 • $1.00 Volume 84 • Number 27

Ho! Ho! Ho! No joke; Senator Hoylman pushes idea of sober SantaCon BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


SANTACON, continued on p. 5

C.B. 3 slams the brakes on push to ask politicians to study tolls on bridges BY LESLEY SUSSMAN


proposal that would call on politicians to explore the possibility of putting tolls on all three East River bridges to help cut congestion in parts of Community Board 3 hit a roadblock at last month’s full-board meeting. C.B. 3 voted 21-12 against the reso-


t sounds a bit like the Yule Log without a flickering fire, eggnog without any eggs, or the Grinch without a diabolical plan to steal Christmas from the residents of Whoville. Yes, state Senator Brad Hoylman is proposing what

some might call a truly radical idea: a booze-free SantaCon. Which would also mean a SantaCon without puking, urinating, stumbling and shouting on the sidewalks. Hoylman spoke on the phone briefly Tuesday evening with a purported rep-

lution, which was drafted by the board’s Transportation and Public Safety/Environment Subcommittee. For several months now, C.B. 3 and the subcommittee have been trying to address the problem of traffic bottlenecks along Clinton, Canal and Grand Sts. that are largely caused by the huge TOLLS, continued on p. 11

On Tues. Nov. 25, following the Ferguson verdict, city councilmembers of color walked down City Hall’s marble staircase while chanting, “Black lives matter.” At the stairs’ bottom, they held a vigil-like press event, ending with a chant of “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” In the forefront were, from left, Andy King, Rosie Mendez and Margaret Chin.

Youth march against brutality, hope to spark new movement BY ZACH WILLIAMS


igh school students led the way through Midtown on Monday as about 1,000 people marched in protest against police brutality. They gathered at Union Square before marching along a meandering path to Times Square where they sat in silence to honor Michael Brown, the 18-year-old from Ferguson, Missouri, fatally shot on Aug. 9 by former Police Officer Darren Wilson.

The Nov. 24 decision by a grand jury not to indict Wilson catalyzed protests across the country, including in New York City. Following the announcement, thousands of New Yorkers took to the streets that night in Midtown and Downtown Brooklyn, blocking East River bridges and traffic. Actions continued throughout the week, including on Black Friday when demonstrators swarmed Macy’s at Herald Square. Wilson resigned

from the Ferguson Police Department on Nov. 29. Police officers who shoot people of color face too few consequences, protesters say. Investigations continue in some cases, though, including the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while being arrested by New York police officers, one of whom used an illegal chokehold on him. “We need justice in America. It’s false advertising YOUTH, continued on p. 9

Editorial: Pier55 and public 12 Where do pols stand on Taylor Swift? 14 Cannoli crisis as pastry shops 16 A Murray little 20


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IN THE BAG? An article in last week’s issue of The Villager stated that the Citizens Committee would do a giveaway to shoppers on Mon., Dec. 8, of 200 large cotton tote bags opposite the C-Town, at E. 12th St. and Avenue C, the go-to supermarket for many Alphabet City seniors on fixed incomes. The location is in the district of Councilmember Rosie Mendez, who, as of last week, wasn’t on board with legislation co-sponsored by Councilmember Margaret Chin to charge shoppers a 10-cent surcharge on single-use plastic and paper bags. The Citizens Committee, which supports the proposal, clarified that while the action was set for during the week of Dec. 8, an exact date hadn’t been nailed down. Saleen Shah, an organizer with Citizens Committee, said they are still holding out hope that Mendez will join them at the bag giveaway, though they have not heard back from Mendez’s people about it for a week. Nevertheless, they plan to forge ahead with the tote distribution, which, as we were going to press, we were told has now been set for Fri., Dec. 13, at 9:30 across from the C-Town. Peter Kostmayer, C.E.O. of Citizens Committee, will be there along with local students from P.S./M.S. 54, urging constituents to avoid paying the 10-cent fee by getting into the habit of bringing their own reusable bags. If she’s a no-show, they’ll call on Mendez to support the bill. Shah added, “We will also encourage our environmental-minded grantees in the district to arrange for face-to-face meetings with Councilmember Mendez and directly mention that they are beautifying her district and that plastic bag pollution is a nuisance and that this bill addresses their concerns.”

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Parishes are merged due to demographic changes BY ZACH WILLIAMS



Most Precious Blood Church, at 109 Mulberry St., will merge into the parish of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, two blocks to the north.

initiatives, such as affordable housing and education programs, according to the statement. The archdiocese, along with many of the local parishes, did not respond to requests for comment by press time. However, in a letter published last year in Catholic New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan outlined how Lower Manhattan parishes exemplify the challenges facing the archdiocese. There are 29 parishes below 14th St. among the more than 80 in Manhattan, he noted then. Yet Manhattan parishes comprise about 25 percent of the archdiocese’s total while only serving about 10 percent of the Catholic population of more than 2 million people he oversees, according to the letter. An anticipated shortage of priests further strains the archdiocese’s ability to man so many parishes, Dolan added. “Having this large number of parishes certainly made sense when they were established, mostly in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries,” he said in the letter published Oct. 3, 2013. “They no longer make sense now in the 21st century and on into the future.” At Most Precious Blood Church, at 109 Mulberry St., on a recent Sunday morning, the grandiose architecture contrasted starkly with the scant attendance. The church first opened its doors in the 1880s when Italian immigrants dominated the area. Outside, a sign informed worshipers that the church would not conduct afternoon services. No more than two dozen parishioners were attending morning ser-

vices in a building that could seat many more among its pews. Nonetheless, the church will continue to host regular Sunday and Saturday Masses and services even as it integrates into the nearby parish of the




wo local Catholic parishes will cease holding regular Mass services as part of a reshuffling of church resources in Lower Manhattan and throughout the Archdiocese of New York. A handful of area parishes will each absorb a neighboring parish as part of a plan unveiled on Nov. 2 by the archdiocese. In most of these cases, however, regular services and sacraments will continue at individual churches that are not the designated parish church. But for the Lower East Side’s St. James and St. Joseph Church, at 5 Monroe St., and the East Village’s Nativity Mission, at 44 Second Ave., there is an extra degree of uncertainty as their parishes respectively merge with Church of the Transfiguration, at 29 Mott St., and the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer, at 173 E. Third St. For staff, clergy and parishioners, many details remain undecided at the soon-to-be closed churches throughout the archdiocese, which covers Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island and seven Upstate counties. Among the lingering questions are who will lead the combined parishes, as well as the future of unused church properties in the hot local real estate market. “At the present moment, I am not sure what they will do with me,” Father Lino Gonsalves, pastor of St. James and St. Joseph, said. Combining the two parishes with Church of the Transfiguration necessitates decisions on everything from administrative details to parish clergy — a process that, he added, should conclude by the archdiocese’s Aug. 1, 2015, deadline for the announced mergers. By that time, 112 out of 368 current parishes in the archdiocese will combine to form 55 new parishes, according to a Nov. 2 statement. Farther north, in Chelsea, St. Columba Church, at 343 W. 25th St., will merge with Guardian Angel Church, at 193 Tenth Ave. While St. Columba may still be used for special occasions, Mass and services will no longer be held there. “Everyone’s learning a new dance,” Father Joseph Tyrrell of St. Peter’s Church, at 22 Barclay St., said. Under the archdiocese plan, which was five years in the making, his parish will absorb that of nearby Our Lady of the Rosary, at 7 State St., though the latter will continue to hold regular Mass and sacraments. Additional mergers could still be announced in the coming months, the statement added. Details also remain unclear on what will happen with underutilized church-owned real estate, in order to further social

basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, at 263 Mulberry St. Connie, a parishioner who declined to give her last name, said she was glad she can still regularly attend Most Precious Blood, which her family has attended since her grandparents immigrated to America from Naples, Italy. She said she still hopes that eventually attendance there will turn around, so that this family legacy continues. Everywhere she looks within the church, she said, she sees the places where family members married, got baptized and worshiped among the faithful as they lived their lives. Meanwhile, fellow worshipers concede, given the Catholic Church’s struggles in many communities, combining parishes made sense. “I’m hoping that it will attract more people to one central location to pray and worship,” said Melissa Soto, a Grand St. resident, “and that it will help provide more funds to create a stability within a church community that’s been unstable for so long.” In addition, the Church of St. Andrew, at 20 Cardinal Hayes Place, will merge with Our Lady of Victory, at 60 William St. Masses and services will continue to be held at St. Andrew, however.

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A ‘Souk’-cessful Thanksgiving







“Souk” is an Arabic word meaning an open-air marketplace. But, in the Village on Thanksgiving, Le Souk — as in Le Souk restaurant, on La Guardia Place — means teaming up with BAMRA to host a delicious dinner and good times with fellow community members. In what has become an annual tradition, 325 locals — over the course of two seatings — enjoyed a traditional holiday meal with turkey, stuffing, mashed or sweet potatoes, roasted veggies and — if they still had room for it — pie or angel food cake for dessert. There was also a vegetarian option. Le Souk had to borrow some chairs (les chaises) from Le Poisson Rouge around the corner on Bleecker St. They also added light bulbs for brighter lighting, since this event was all about belly filling, not the usual belly dancing. And they ran the elevator to the place’s third level for improved accessibility. Local volunteers pitched in to help serve the meal. Novac Noury, a.k.a. the “Arrow Keyboard Man” of Studio 54 fame, provided the tunes to make the dinner go down all that much sweeter. The meals were free for those in need, but those who could pay gave a contribution. The proceeds will go to Visiting Neighbors, and were matched by both Le Souk and BAMRA (Bleecker Area Merchants’ and Residents’ Association).


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December 4, 2014

Ho! Ho! Ho! No joke; Hoylman wants dry SantaCon SANTACON, continued from p. 1


resentative of the annual winter booze fest to see what he could find out about this year’s New York City event. Hoylman then relayed his findings to The Villager. The event’s date is set for Sat., Dec. 13. “They do not have the route planned,” Hoylman said. “They will not tell us where they are planning. “They said they are in touch with the Parks Department, and they plan to be in touch with local police precincts and community boards before their event. They told us they will tell the route before it occurs.” Last year, due to pressure by Hoylman and other politicians, SantaCon conceded to give them the route, though not until right before the event occurred. “I don’t know if they want to exploit the element of surprise or they’re just disorganized or what,” Hoylman said. During the bar crawl, the cell phone-toting Santas follow Twitter to get updates about where to go. According to a Parks Department source, SantaCon organizers reached out to the agency to inquire about “potential meet-up locations.”

A trio of Santas at the 2012 SantaCon made their way to the next bar.

“No arrangements have been made at this point for a site that could potentially accommodate their numbers,” the source said. Hoylman said he hopes to speak

to the representative again, who only gave his name as Stefan, and who was the same rep Hoylman similarly dealt with last year. Local politicians, in a joint letter last year, called for

SantaCon to behave — or else — with Hoylman acting as the pols’ point person. At one point during Tuesday’s phone call, Hoylman hit Stefan with an idea that might have struck him like an ice fastball hurled by Snow Miser. “I’ve also encouraged them to organize an alcohol-free SantaCon because I think that’s where most of the problems have originated,” the state senator said. “If they organize it as an alcohol-free event, it potentially becomes a family attraction,” he added. “I think partying and drinking on the streets, they are menacing to family members and seniors. Binge drinking is the problem — it only takes a few to give an event a bad name.” Hoylman said the self-appointed SantaCon rep didn’t seem averse to the proposal, feeling it’s more in line with the event’s origins, or so the man claimed. But he told Hoylman he wanted to confer with others before making any commitments on the idea. “He said they want to be a New York City holiday event,” Hoylman reported. “He said he wants to bring SANTACON, continued on p. 6

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Hoylman tells bar-crawling Kringles: Try dry SantaCon SANTACON, continued from p. 5

Santa Con back to where it was more of a family event and it wasn’t raucous bad Santas. He said he wants to take it back to the group [to discuss].” Last week, Susan Stetzer, district manager of Community Board 3, announced at the monthly fullboard meeting that SantaCon won’t be partying in the East Village and Lower East Side this year. Hoylman said that’s also his understanding about C.B. 3, and that he knows it was also Stefan that Stetzer spoke with. Hoylman specifically asked the SantaCon spokesperson about all the Manhattan community board districts in his state senate district — including Community Boards 2, 4, 5 and 7, which collectively stretch from the Village to the Upper West Side — but didn’t get any concrete answers. “He said they will be in Manhattan,” the elected official confirmed. Exactly where, though, is still a mystery. Bushwick community leaders and bars also do not want SantaCon, and Gothamist recently reported that the event has crossed the Brooklyn hood off its list. “Nobody wants them!” Hoylman said.

Locally speaking, last year’s SantaCon went better than in previous years, Hoylman acknowledged, though he attributed that, at least partly, to snowy conditions. However, prior to last year’s bar crawl of inebriated St. Nicks, Hoylman had gotten Stefan to agree to three main conditions: namely, that the route would be shared with local police and community boards in advance; there would be “people watchers” to help control the crowds; and fliers would be posted urging the revelers to be “good neighbors.” Despite these steps, Hoylman said, “Really, I think the snowstorm dampened their numbers.” Also, he was a bit skeptical about the whole process of dealing with SantaCon, which is more hazy flash mob than organized event. “There’s nobody in charge,” Hoylman said with some frustration. “Here I am speaking to this individual I never met, and he won’t give me his last name. It’s impossible to determine if he has any authority.” At any rate, he said, “They promised to be back in touch once they have their permits.” An e-mail query sent to the contact listed, “blitzen,” at the nycsan- Web site, asking whether the Santas would be sober this year, received a lengthy statement in response, which didn’t mention anything about teetotaling. The statement read, in part, “Whether it’s good news or bad, SantaCon’s colorful characters, fantastic photo opportunities, ballooning popularity, and inherently controversial nature make for great press. “So who is ‘Santa’? WE are Santa: a group of about 30 volunteers. We are accountants and artists, bright-eyed students and grizzly workforce vets, small business owners, freelancers and corporate vice presidents. We’re blue-collar and white-collar…but on SantaCon we’re all fur-collar. “We all share a passion for absurdity and a love for N.Y.C. Nothing makes us happier than seeing the creativity of SantaCon play out against the backdrop of the city where we live, work and play. “SantaCon isn’t just a charity event — it’s a 100% volunteer-run charity event where every cent of the proceeds goes to N.Y.C charities. Last year, we helped the Food Bank for New York provide meals to hungry New Yorkers. For FIGMENT, a small nonprofit that runs

free, hands-on arts events for children, SantaCon was literally a lifeline, providing almost 40% of the operating budget in 2013. “We still see the Santa Pros as greater than the Santa Cons. We hope that this year, you will too.” The statement ended with, “Love from the North Pole, Santa” The event’s Web site is full of instructions on how the Santas should behave, such as: “Santa’s nice to kids: He makes them laugh, not cry” and “Santa respects the city: Santa doesn’t piss on the streets, start fights, block streets, climb on cars or deface property.” The page also warns that the costumed carousers shouldn’t have open alcohol containers on the streets, urinate in public, jaywalk or litter — or generally get too intoxicated. In short, putting it in a way even drunken Santas can understand, the site warns participants not to violate the four “F” ’s: “Don’t f--- with kids, cops, bar staff or N.Y.C.” As for the route and what bars they’ll visit — assuming they don’t all get on the sleigh, or rather, wagon this year — the site notes, “Santa could tell you, but then Santa would have to kill you. Part of the fun of SantaCon is never quite knowing where the jolly horde will go next!”

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Valery Daniels, 59, an artist active in causes OBITUARY

master’s of fine arts at Yale University, where she received the Tallix Foundry Fellowship and the Susan Wheedon Award. Her second career was as an art therapist, for which she received her degree from the School of Visual Arts. She brought deep creativity and compassion to her work with the mentally ill on the inpatient psychiatric unit of Bellevue Hospital. She lived in a loft that she and her husband, Andrew Knox, built in the early 1980s on Allen St. near Rivington St. The whole building was ini-



alery Daniels, a Lower East Side artist and sculptor, died Nov. 16 at age 59, encircled by family and friends. She succumbed to a rare cancer after three brave, hard years. Daniels completed her bachelor’s of fine arts at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts of Tufts, and her

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tially in terrible shape, and they repaired it with a group of other artists. Her husband and their two children still live there. Her husband is an architect who mainly works on New York City schools. An active member of her neighborhood, Daniels was generous and effective in her actions on behalf of many individuals and causes. At the East Village Neighborhood School in 2004, she was instrumental

in getting a beautiful new library built, beneficial to the entire school community. Two schools continue to share this extraordinary space: P.S. 63 (the STAR Academy), and P.S. 363 (the Neighborhood School), where the library has become the heart of the school. The library’s mission statement echoes Daniels’s life and work ethic: “To promote the love of reading, inspire curiosity, and cultivate the skills that are necessary for critical thinking and lifelong learning.” In 2006, when Daniels was interning at Bellevue Hospital, she learned that the cherished Sobriety Garden, a resource for patients and staff, was slated for demolition to create parking. Rapidly and effectively, she built awareness and consensus to ensure that the garden would remain a healing space of growth and of nature. Valery Daniels is mourned by her beloved daughters, Annamariah and Claudia Knox, and dear husband, Andrew Knox, family and an enormous community of wonderful friends. A memorial service to celebrate her life will take place at a later date.

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Youth march and organize against police brutality YOUTH, continued from p. 1


what we have here,” said Mia Luna, a student at New York Harbor School on Governors Island who, like many participants, said she learned of the march through social media. Police mistreatment of minorities should coalesce into a national movement against racism, activists said, adding that protests must continue for that to happen. A handful of local teenagers did their part by organizing through last weekend to make sure that New York City would not be left behind. But before they could take the streets on Mon., Dec. 1, some students had to overcome the resistance of school administrators reluctant to let them participate in political action at the expense of their studies. The problem was particularly acute at New York Harbor School because the waters of New York Harbor also stood in their way. According to student-organizer Shana Buckstad, 167 students at the school congregated at the island’s ferry terminal at about noon, but they were given seats onboard only after a half-hour sit-in. “We sat there on the ground with our hands up and said, ‘Hands up! Don’t shoot!’ and then we were ready and we got on the ferry,” said Buckstad. Students came to the Midtown march in large numbers from four other schools, according to student organizer Mojique Tyler, who attends Bard High School Early College, at 525 East Houston St. Representatives of a dozen more schools were also present, he added. Students networked last week following the grand jury announcement in the Wilson case, according to Buckstad. After meeting on Nov. 28 with representatives of the Ferguson Action Team — a coalition of activists organizing protests in 70 cities —the student activists said they had found their way to get New York City students more involved as students nationwide prepared to walk out of classes on Dec. 1 “The young people are leading like they were leading in the Sixties, and I came out to support them and say, ‘Let’s do it together,’ ” said Geoffrey Davis. His brother, James Davis, was a city councilmember who was gunned down in City Hall by a political rival in 2003. The action team and other activist groups provided the signs, which included slogans borrowed from activists in Ferguson. Tyler created a Facebook group from which word spread. Hundreds of students responded —

The marchers paused in Times Square to enjoy watching themselves on the big screen.

a greater than anticipated number, he said. Adults would also join the march, by the time it got moving at about 1:15 p.m., comprising an estimated twofifths of the total turnout. Activists first circled Union Square, moving through the square’s seasonal Holiday Market in the process. They then headed east on E. 15th St. before turning north on Third Ave. Over the next two hours, they zigzagged their way toward Times Square, all the while highlighting what they charged is the disparity between police treatment of white people and communities of color. Annmarie Jackson of Canarsie, Brooklyn, said her teenage son is regularly harassed by police, sometimes twice per day. “Police treat us like we don’t matter, and for what it’s worth we do matter,” she said. Confrontation between cops and activists was minimal on Dec. 1, but the former kept a tight watch over the marchers, threatening to arrest those who ventured into the street from the sidewalk. At certain points, activists attempted to swarm streets, only to retreat as police steered them back onto the pavement with scooters and stern warnings. About a half-dozen protesters were

arrested over all, said an observing 300. Some passersby paid little attenattorney for the National Lawyers tion to the demonstration, but others Guild. It wasn’t clear if a cyclist arrest- expressed delight. ed at Eighth Ave. and W. 48 St. was acMike Simmons, who works in the tively participating in the march. tourism industry, said fear of the Arriving in front of the New York N.Y.P.D. discouraged him from civil Police Department stationhouse in protest after police officers entered Times Square, activists gathered for his home in October without reason, four-and-a-half minutes of silence according to him. Police treatment in recognition of the four-and-a-half of minorities requires personal expehours that Brown’s body remained on rience to fully comprehend, he said, the street following the Aug. 9 shoot- but people need to unite against it ing. But they were not done follow- nonetheless. ing the die-in — or the rabblerousing “You understand it,” he said, oratory. They took off once again at “but when it happens to you, it’s about 3:30 p.m. heading further into mind-boggling.” Hell’s Kitchen. They tried once more to escape the police detail, briefly flooding onto Eighth Ave. near W. 45 St. Police quickly regained their position as the march turned toward the Hudson River at W. 48th St. A half-dozen students If you appreciate peace of mind, you’ll understand why it makes at Professional Perform- sense to preplan with us. ing Arts High School We know of no other policies that work as this: your family from making detailed decisions at an emotional time cheered the marchers on •• Spares Ensures that wishes are expressed • Prevents overspending and can lock in costs as they passed by. By 4 p.m. they were We’re experts at preplanning and know all of the issues that may arise. Call us, you’ll be glad you did back at Times Square, 325 W. 14th St. New York, NY 10014 though their numbers (212) 242-1456 had decreased to about NY State Law mandates that funeral trust funds for Medicaid recipients pay for funeral and bural only. The contracts are irrevocable.

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325 W. 14th St. New York, NY 10014 242-1456 December 4,(212) 2014


POLICE BLOTTER Attempted-rape case


Holster your credit cards! On Black Friday, protesters angry over the lack of an indictment in the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, marched through Macy’s during the shopping frenzy, then up to Times Square chanting, “Hands Up, Don’t Shop!” Above, a woman blocked traffic in Times Square.


Cordially Invite You to Hear


“NET NEUTRALITY AND ITS IMPACT ON YOU” Tim Wu coined the expression “net neutrality”. He will speak as to why net neutrality should be the law of the land. At VID Meeting on

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11TH – 7:45 PM St. John’s Lutheran Church Annex 83 Christopher Street


Zephyr Teachout will be our guest on April 9th.


December 4, 2014


Juan Scott pleaded not guilty in court on Nov. 25 to charges of attempted rape, sexual abuse and burglary in connection with three separate East Village incidents involving three different female victims. The prosecution recommended a 20-year sentence. The next court date is set for Jan. 27. Scott, 26, a cousin of actress Rosario Dawson, was arrested on Oct. 17 for an attempted rape of a 20-year-old N.Y.U. student in a Stuyvesant Town elevator three days earlier. According to news reports, the woman is a junior at the school. She had just gotten out of a cab when Scott reportedly followed her into the building. The incident was caught on video camera, including the attacker shimmying down a tree onto E. 14th St. The victim’s parents flew in from Riverside, California, to attend the court hearing. The parents, who asked that their names not be printed to protect their daughter’s identity, said she is determined to keep living at Stuy Town and finish up at N.Y.U. “She’s a strong woman. She’s not going to let this trash get the best of her,” her father said angrily. “Women should never be subjected to people like this.” After his arrest, Scott was connected to two earlier crimes, an assault of an ex-girlfriend on E. 13th St. in September and another incident in June where he allegedly followed a woman into her E. 11th St. building. Scott was arrested at his mother’s home on Long Island. He had been living for the summer in 544 E. 13th St. — a former squat — and was working as a restaurant deliveryman. Rosario Dawson grew up in the building, and her mother, Isabel Celeste, and uncle, Juan Scott’s father, Nicky Scott, still live there.

Knock, knock? A man received plenty of attention after incessantly banging on the front door of 81 Bedford St. a bit before 7 a.m. on Sun., Nov. 30. According to a witness, the perpetrator kicked the door repeatedly, causing more

than $250 in damage to the property. Responding police searched the area and found Andrew Detres, 28, charging him with criminal mischief.

Bar thief gets bagged Alert staff stopped a man with a pricey Rebecca Minkoff designer handbag as he tried to leave Up and Down bar, at 244 W. 14th St. The bag and its contents had been left unattended in the place round 3 a.m. on Thurs., Nov. 27, according to a witness. Police arrived and arrested Alessandro Manca, 24, charging him with grand larceny. The bag, plus a Tory Burch designer wallet and an iPhone 4S — valued at $745 altogether — were returned to the owner, a 21-year-old woman.

Couldn’t hold it Police arrested a man for urinating in front of 321 Sixth Ave. around 4:10 p.m. on Fri., Nov. 28. The incident occurred near a children’s playground, police noted. Serge Theronier, 28, was charged with public lewdness.

Claimed he was cop A manger at the Standard Hotel told two men who were yelling and causing havoc in front of the place, at 848 Washington St., around midnight on Sat., Nov. 29, to move along, or else he would call the cops. “I am a cop and work at the 47th Precinct,” retorted one of them, Partiot Kuka, 27, according to a police report. Asked to provide ID, Kuka stated he should be taken at his word. The manager called police. When an officer arrived, Kuka reiterated his claim that he was an officer at the 47th Precinct. He was reportedly “flailing” his arms as an officer arrested him for criminal impersonation. Meanwhile, Ilir Kuka, 23, broke a window inside a police vehicle by kicking it, and was charged with criminal mischief. The report did not state whether the men were related.

Zach Williams and Lincoln Anderson

C.B. 3 slams brakes on resolution on bridge tolls TOLLS, continued from p. 1


volume of cars, cabs and trucks taking advantage of toll-free crossings on the Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. The subcommittee’s resolution asked politicians to “undertake a review of public policy proposals” that address the vehicular congestion problem, including a “Fair Tolling and Transportation Reinvestment Plan” proposed by Move NY, a nonprofit transportation consulting group. Move NY has been advocating for bridge tolls rather than fare hikes to help pay for maintenance of the city’s bridges, roadways and transit system. At the Nov. 25 C.B. 3 meeting, at P.S. 20, on Essex St., many board members objected both to the idea of tolls and the wording of a section of the resolution that called for “immediate support” for any proposal that elected officials felt effective, including the Move NY plan. Some board members said that tolling the East River bridges would reduce the number of shoppers driving into the Lower East Side from other boroughs and put a damper on already-struggling local businesses. Others said the tolls would negatively impact low-income residents who do a fair amount of driving back and forth on the bridges. Regarding the resolution’s wording, board member Joyce Ravitz questioned why “immediate support” was necessary. She was joined by C.B. 3 Treasurer Bill LoSasso, who said, “The proposal needs to be much broader, not just gearing in on buzz words.” Richard Ropiak, chairperson of C.B. 3’s Economic Development Subcommittee, added, “We don’t have a Macy’s or large department stores in this area. All our businesses are small businesses, and a reduction of traffic would impair these small businesses. We don’t want to discourage traffic to Chinatown and other neighborhoods.” Voicing her objection, board member Vaylateena Jones said, “I don’t want low-income people in my community having to pay tolls to drive across a bridge. That’s why I’m against it.” Another objection was raised by Herman Hewitt, the board’s first vice chairperson. “I’m definitely against it,” he said. “There’s no way of controlling the level of prices once tolls are established. Every year they will raise the tolls. It’s the same thing they’ve done on the Verrazano Bridge and the Holland Tunnel.” Board member Morris Faitelwicz, meanwhile, said, “Putting the bridges under the control of the Metropol-

Traffic, including a five-axle tractor-trailer and other trucks, streams off the toll-free Manhattan Bridge and onto Canal St.

itan Transportation Authority is a horrible idea. The money from tolls would be used for salaries and other things and not on infrastructure repairs.” John Leo, a Transportation Subcommittee member, spoke in favor of

Li added that “this was not the first time” that the board has not taken a stand on a “controversial” community issue. The vote surprised some board members, who said that unless some action is taken soon, in addition to continued traffic tieups, the three East River bridges will fall into major disrepair over the next decade. One Transportation Subcommittee member, who asked to remain anonymous, said that maintenance on bridges, roadways and the mass transit system is currently deficient due to inadequate funding. “The bridges will fall down in 10 years if more funding isn’t found,” he said. “We don’t want to wait for that. Someone has to look at the problem. That’s all the resolution was asking. The vote was ridiculous. The proposal simply asked that elected officials look at plans put together by qualified people.” Jonathan Matz, a representative of Move NY who responded to some board members’ questions at the meeting, said he, too, was disappointed by the board’s action. “I wish I had more of an opportunity to address board members’ concerns,” he said. “Their protocol didn’t allow me to do that. But I’ve spoken to about 20 community boards across

‘The issue is dead. ... C.B. 3 is taking no position on it.’ Gigi Li

the resolution. “The committee has taken into consideration all objections and concerns” before drafting its proposal,” he said. He noted, for example, that a section of the resolution regarding “fee discounts where warranted” wasn’t in the first draft but was added in response to concerns about the impact tolls could have on low-income residents. After the vote, C.B. 3 Chairperson Gigi Li told The Villager, “The issue is dead. At this point, C.B. 3 is taking no position on it. If board members want to take the issue up again in a different form it can be discussed.”

the city and I’ve gotten plenty of support from them. I just don’t know about this board. Maybe they’ll change their mind over the next few months and I’ll have another opportunity to come back.” Bridge traffic congestion in the Chinatown and Grand St. area has been a growing problem. Right now, traffic backs up for several blocks on Grand, Clinton and Canal Sts. during afternoon rush hours. In other board business, C.B. 3’s Executive Committee elected Alysha Lewis-Coleman, a longtime Lower East Side resident and tenant leader, to serve as second vice chairperson. Ricky Leung held the post, but resigned from the community board earlier this year. Lewis-Coleman defeated two other candidates, Enrique Cruz and Chad Marlow. A fourth candidate, Ayo Harrington, dropped out before the vote. And in news that drew cheers from many of the nearly 100 local residents who attended the board meeting, C.B. 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer announced that SantaCon would not be partying in the East Village and Lower East Side this year. There has been a vociferous backlash from residents in C.B. 3 and throughout the city about this annual bar crawl in which thousands of people dress like Santa Claus and elves and generally create drunken havoc. “The news reports that SantaCon will be back are not true,” Stetzer said. “I’ve been told by the organizers that the C.B. 3 area is not on their route this year.” December 4, 2014


Pier55 and public process in Hudson River Park EDITORIAL


y now, everyone has heard about the new Pier55 plan for Hudson River Park. The high-powered husband-and-wife team of Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg have pledged $113 million to build a new 2.7-acre “fantasy island” for “world class” performances off of W. 13th St. The city will kick in an additional $17 million toward the construction. In something new for Hudson River Park, the glitzy square-shaped pier would sport a rolling landscape — some might say it looks more like a rollercoaster — with three corner “peaks,” one of them towering 71 feet tall, or equal to about seven stories. The pier would sit higher than other existing piers to be safely above the floodplain in the post-Sandy era. Because of the pier’s higher elevation, the idea was — instead of jamming it up next to the historic bulkhead — to site it out in the river, accessible by two bridge-like entry

paths that slope up to reach it. The new structure would replace the existing historic Pier 54 (where the Titanic’s survivors debarked) and be situated just north of it — hence, Pier55. There would be three performance spaces, including a 750-seat amphitheater, as well as a large central hardscape plaza surrounded by hilly grass lawns, the combo of plaza and lawns being able to seat up to 3,500 people total. Fifty-one percent of the pier’s performances would be free or low cost. However, it’s currently not publicly known what ticket prices are envisioned for the other events. And it’s not known — again, at least not publicly — how many shows there will be during peak summer season or the whole year. The shows’ revenue would be funneled back into the pier’s programming. According to an environmental assessment conducted for the plan, the idea is for programming to include “vocal, instrumental and other music; dramatic works, opera, theater and public readings of prose or poetry; public talks by academics, writers and public figures; performance art; dance

performances; art displays, installations and exhibitions; films; and other similar events.” Also according to the environmental assessment, crowd sizes at “peak events” would be comparable to what they would be on a rebuilt Pier 54 — around 5,000 people. However, the report acknowledges that Pier55 could become an attraction in and of itself, and would draw an estimated 6,700 visitors on weekdays and 9,400 on weekend days. The overwhelming majority, 87 percent, would come on foot, the study says. The study uses visitation figures from the nearby 5-acre High Line park proportionally adjusted for the size difference. In short, the study states that Pier55 would get 33 percent as many daily visitors as the wildly popular High Line. To accommodate the crowds using the new pier, utilizing $18 million in state funds, the park’s esplanade will be widened between Gansevoort Peninsula and W. 14th St., in what is being called the Pier 54 Connector Project. And a new crosswalk, federally funded, will be created across the highway at W. 13th St.

As for noise levels from Pier55 events, the study says they actually could be lower than those formerly held on Pier 54, since, in some cases, the speakers would be pointed toward the southwest, away from Manhattan. In terms of environmental impacts, the assessment states that pile driving of fewer than 400 new “pot”-style piles for the new pier (Pier 54 originally had more than 3,500 piles) won’t negatively impact endangered migrating sturgeon or sea turtles, or 21 other species for which the Pier 54 area is considered an “essential fish habitat,” including three types of flounder, two types of mackerel, Atlantic butterfish, scup, cobia, bluefin tuna and sandbar shark, to name just a few. Most of the fish in this group are present in Hudson River Park in the larvae, juvenile and adult phases. The fact the pier deck’s south side, in particular, would be elevated would allow sunlight to reach the water below, avoiding detrimental shading of the marine ecosystem. Questions about whether view corEDITORIAL, continued on p. 27

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Pier55 as historic misstep To The Editor: The North River Historic Ship Society and the larger historic vessel community is disheartened by the proposed Pier55, which will result in the loss of a pier long promised for the docking of historic vessels. The current Pier 54 is one of only three piers — the others being Piers 25 and 97 — that were designated for the use of historic vessels in Hudson River Park. Our community has been


looking forward to the rebuilding of Pier 54 for this purpose since the availability of affordable, publicly accessible, appropriately equipped berths for such ships in New York City is limited. Including such vessels in the park is key to meeting the legislative mandate to draw on maritime heritage, as described by the Hudson River Park Trust in its recently released request for proposals (R.F.P.) for “Historic Vessel Long Term Docking and Programming” at Pier 25. New York City has a long and rich maritime history. Its vast surrounding waterfront areas

were utilized for the transportation of people and goods for many years, including those areas along the river on Manhattan’s West Side that now comprise Hudson River Park. The Trust has been charged with the planning, development, operation and maintenance of Hudson River Park. Part of the Trust’s legislative mandate, per the Hudson River Park Act of 1998, is to draw upon that maritime history and seek ways to preserve, enhance public awareness of, and afford the public educational opportunities to learn about that maritime history. These opportunities will be reduced with the loss of berthing at Pier 54. Mary Habstritt Habstritt is president, North River Historic Ship Society

Transparency is the key To The Editor: Re “Tobi Bergman is elected C.B. 2 chairperson; Gruber is praised by pols” (news article, Nov. 27) and “Pier 40 issue looms large in C.B. 2 chairperson race” (news article, Nov. 13): As reported in the Nov. 13 Villager article on the three Community Board 2 members who ran for chairperson, during the board’s Q&A of the LETTERS, continued on p. 24


December 4, 2014

The final lace-up: My last pair of high tops NOTEBOOK BY SCOTT OGLESBY



hey had to be plain, simple and white, like me. And my new high tops fit the bill — all leather, a discreet logo and a minimum of stitching. Not a whoosh in sight to remind me of sweatshop gals toiling in Bangladesh; and none of those trendy lime-green / hot-pink combos with wild stripes and swirly windswept patterns that remind me of muscle-car paintjobs. No plastic doohickeys or wedgy inserts to pump up for more bounce. Just a humble pair of tennis shoes, thank you very much. I had another requirement — they couldn’t look like walking shoes, a screaming sign of old age. Now, I do still walk and I’m undeniably old, but I think like a senior athlete, not a senior citizen. I need athletic shoes, not some overdesigned foot mattress to pamper my bunions. Something for biking, tennis and basketball. And by all means, spare me the bright fluorescent orange or yellow running shoes, for visibility at night, I guess. Shoes not to be caught dead in, let’s call ’em. I think of jogging as a pure form of torture for the nonathletic. (The indoor version is Pilates.) Myself, I reserve running strictly for loose balls, closing subways doors, scribbling meter maids, and to escape anyone in the street approaching with a clipboard. But yeah, I make sporting attempts at sports and qualify for Medicare, as well. Not a big deal these days; practically every elder I know is a gym rat or die-hard sportster of some sort. We toil, sweat and suffer for health and status, hoping to avoid the reaper, dementia or the worst — invisibility on the street. This current crop of kids won’t see you, that’s for sure. They’ll look right through you if they bother to glance up from their little screens. And forget the big screen — except for an occasional Redford flick, British telly and movies are the last outlet for actors with wrinkles. All these thoughts are buzzing in my head when I begin to ponder that my new high tops could be the last pair of shoes I’ll ever buy. My closet is already piled with footwear for every conceivable occasion, past and future. Wedding shoes, wingtips and loafers, Earth shoes and Roots; hiking, biking, beach and pool shoes, snowshoes and deck shoes, moccasins and cowboy boots. The more I accumulate, the less likely any of them will ever wear out, right? Last week I was shocked, walking into some old geezer’s apartment to find it in total disarray — old books

The writer’s last pair of high-top sneakers.

and mags stacked willy-nilly, rootbound primeval cacti, hundreds of dusty LP’s, and a faint odor of cat urine. Then suddenly I realized it was my apartment, I was the old geezer! Weird, because in the mirror my bushy hair still looks blond, so I’m always surprised by photos where it shines white as Arctic snow. Talk about an old fool. And just this morning on Bleecker St., I saw a gray-bearded cyclist on a road bike, fitted with dental-size mirrors on his handlebars. He was in blue and yellow spandex, and looked like a skinny Big Bird. O.K., guy, I thought, whatever works, I’m an active dude too. But realistically, how many more half-court games do my splotchy old legs have in them? I have no deep desire to be an octogenarian, but if the only other choice is a doornail simile, then bring on the ball court. Pacing is the secret enabler for senior sports: Except for golf, too much physical activity can be dangerous. And as my physical therapist loves to repeat, “Ice is your new best friend.” For-ev-er. Even then, morning stiffness is a major bugaboo — hard to play ball when you have trouble lacing your sneakers. I’m convinced it was a creaky, aging God who invented velcro. My current wife (who hates that reference) accuses me of trying to be the kid I never fathered. She might be onto something — four barren marriages are prime fuel for my insomnia, along with the car parked legally, and my poor choice of college majors — sociology and elementary ed. Please! Saucer-eyed in the wee hours, I become a dedicated re-hasher of life’s unfinished business. Wait till you have 70 years of loose ends wrapped

around your brain. Another factor is my invisible, sometimes shady career history. But at least I’ve been consistent, honing skills all my life that would rarely earn me a legal dime. Call me the original crowd-sourcer. More about that never. Lately, I’ve been prone to pronounce that I’m retired, having worn out the “living the writerly life” ruse — the busy work of self-publishing, submitting stuff, sulking and shredding rejections. No wonder most of my friends laughed. “Retired from what?” they sneered. I admit my retirement looks remarkably like my life before. One thing’s for sure, exercising for longevity demands a richer long-term care plan than mine. In every senior home I visit, the folks manning the wheelchairs are jawing mushy food, sipping cold coffee and sporting warehoused stares. Medicaid ain’t springing for hot yoga, Jamaican companions or nails — unless they’re in your coffin. Fact is, we’ll be treated a lot differently in our golden years. It’s inevitable as Western culture keeps focusing more money and attention on ever-younger citizens. They’re “branding” four-year-olds, for God sakes. So why bother staying fit, you might ask, if it’s only going to get harder? Especially the hearing faculty. I read an article about how some oldsters decipher only about every other word in conversations (those damned consonants). We’re forced to improv — using intuition, learning to read lips, bodies and minds. And God help me, movies and TV are still a bitch to follow. Try reading instead, my wife harps, sick of repeating (Oc-

cupy style) every word the actors say. It’s not my fault that they all mumble, I mumble. And it takes forever to read a book — I get in bed and three pages later I’m zonked out. I’ve been reading “Infinite Jest” for eight years now, sadly the depressed author checking out before I could finish. There are possibly worse things on the way. Sometimes I’m afraid that I’ll inherit “neuralgia,” a main complaint of my late grandmother. Whatever it is, it sounds terrible and untreatable. Or my Dad’s nasty demeanor that I dub chronic sardonica. (It’s similar to ironica, but edgier.) Stairs bring out my most secretive behavior — if no one’s around, I’ll drop to all fours and waddle up those suckers. Don’t laugh, those chimps know the ropes, or vines, whatever. And sparing the details, my immediate future requires either ditching java or suiting up in adult diapers. Come to think of it, given the coffee boom and the growing boomer bubble, both might be smart investments. There’s always low-impact sports, like the elder hobby of ogling young girls, but fading lust is tiresome to keep up, so to speak. Not sure which is more oppressive — the compulsive chase of eye candy or stifling the guilt of my inner dirty ol’ man. At least I haven’t gotten addicted to The Weather Channel. Pried away from their Doppler radar, my oldest friends are always calling up, warning me about the latest storm front. Better stay home, they plead, head for high ground; it’ll hit your area in five minutes. Get a life, I wanna yell and slam down the phone. I understand that most of these thoughts are just senile panic attacks and they usually pass, but eventually something kicks them off again. Last summer it was an invite to my 50th high school reunion. Surely they got the wrong guy, I figured, but I sent a donation anyway and received a class annual with photos of former classmates. Who are all those old people? That was my first reaction, but it quickly morphed into fascination at how different their lives were from mine. I must apologize for all this — my thoughts are like confused old people, they tend to wander off. This week it was to the courts in my new tenni’s. Remember the new high tops, my last pair of shoes? And believe me, I’m aware there’s something sadly hilarious about a 70-year old guy bouncing around in high tops. For millennials this can be especially disconcerting. But you can bet they’re never going to “like” us ancients having sex either. Maybe I’ll really gross ’em out and hit the streets in my favorite old footwear — Birkenstocks...with white socks, of course. December 4, 2014


Bingeing, crime and the economics of SantaCon TALKING POINT BY DIEM BOYD


he cataclysmic yearly event that Lower East Siders (and much of New York City) have come to dread, SantaCon, did not get here on its own. It’s simply a natural outgrowth of the unbridled expansion of New York University and the ferocious lobbying efforts in Albany, which promoted alcohol as the way to “save” our “blighted” neighborhoods. As nearly every available storefront is now liquor-licensed, the promise of sustained long-term economic growth, an improvement in quality of life and public health and a reduction in crime has unfortunately turned out to be one large, cruel joke. Our streets are not significantly cleaner, our schools are not significantly better, the hard drugs are still here (with heroin making a comeback among the white middle class), homelessness is at record-high levels, and overall crime has not precipitously dropped with our neighborhoods awash in alcohol. Research has shown that neighborhoods with high alcohol density — irrespective of economic, ethnic or age demographics — simply have more crime. While there was a drastic drop in crime citywide in the mid-’90s, there have only been modest reductions since 1998 in the Lower East Side’s Seventh Precinct. Most disturbing is the fact that rape — a violent felony that is causally linked to alcohol — has actually increased in alcohol-saturated Hell’s Square, up from zero in 2013 to three in 2014 year to date, accounting for nearly 50 percent of rapes reported in the Seventh Precinct.

Meanwhile, felony assaults, which are also often fueled by alcohol, have leapt by 33.3 percent so far in 2014, with 129 this year in the Seventh versus 97 at the same point last year. Hell Square’s tiny, densely liquor-saturated land area covers just 4.2 percent of the Seventh Precinct’s jurisdiction. Yet in 2013 the area was the location of a disproportionate 28 percent of major crimes in the precinct. This trend continued through October 2014. This small square’s double burden is that, first, it has been inflicted with a concentration of the worst crimes seen in the Seventh Precinct

of tiny liquor-saturated communities like Hell Square. Undoubtedly, those living outside of New York City would never allow their communities to suffer the blight of densely oversaturated liquor zoning, nor the havoc of a SantaCon march binge-drinking its way through their communities. Like Albany, SantaCon organizers cite the ostensible economic benefit of alcohol consumption at local watering holes as the key argument in support of the event’s existence. In reality, though, the extremely narrow economic benefit limited to the types of bars and fast-food joints serving SantaCon exists at the enormous cost of a community stripped bare of all diversity. SantaCon is simply a grotesque manifestation of displacement, where the overwhelming dominance of alcohol-outlet density has supplanted residents, small businesses and local services. People and local-friendly businesses, including mom-andpop restaurants and bars, disappear; they are all unable to pay the staggering rents resulting from the dominance of large taverns and nightclubs (including those within hotels) that are primarily devoted to drinking, with emphasis on binge-drinking, bottle service and drink specials. These businesses have a monopoly that can undercut traditional bars and restaurants, given their lower product and distribution costs. SantaCon, the massive pub crawl attracting the fraternity crowd of overwhelmingly white, suburban, non-hipster 20-somethings, feeds into this economic model. With a city

Areas with high alcohol density have more crime.

(rape, felony assault, grand larceny and burglary), and, second, that it must somehow survive the assault on quality of life that has rendered the area nearly unlivable for the thousands of residential tenants and apartment owners along Ludlow, Orchard, Stanton, Rivington, Essex, Houston, Delancey and Allen Sts. With New York State Liquor Authority licensing fees and fines income generating the second-largest agency revenue stream for Albany, New York City in general and Hell Square in particular are essentially picking up the tab for the rest of the state. Albany fills its coffers benefitting New York State at large at the grossly disproportionate expense

drowning in bars, there is no shortage of SantaCon-friendly options blasting middle-brow commercial music, under the glow of too many similarly blasting TV’s, with a narrow selection of cheap beers and two-for-one shots for the congregation of Santas ready to binge drink for 12 hours. Unfortunately, the incidence of binge drinking on the Lower East Side and in the East Village — as seen in SantaCon — is skyrocketing and shows no signs of abating. Consider that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, excessive drinking and binge drinking cost the U.S. $223.5 billion — or $1.90 a drink — in 2006 due to losses in productivity, healthcare, crime and other expenses. The cost to federal, state and local governments is roughly 62 cents per drink, while federal and state income taxes on alcohol totaled only about 12 cents per drink (“CDC Fact Sheet: Binge Drinking,” Jan. 16, 2014). SantaCon may be a once-a-year event. Yet it stands as the poster child for years of poor and often corrupt economic decision making, with no foresight, vision or concern for livable, balanced communities. The primary purpose of government is to secure the health, safety and peaceful security of all citizens regardless of where they live. This function has been abrogated when, in the total absence of any civic control, any given community becomes a kind of unlivable Wild West dumping ground for out-of-control binge drinking and the litany of negatives that follow on its tail. Such is the reality of Hell Square, Lower East Side, New York City. The time for action is long overdue. Boyd is founder, LES Dwellers

Where are our politicians on Taylor Swift?! TALKING POINT BY CLAYTON PATTERSON


have been impressed by the number of passionate and intelligent responses I have been getting from the Taylor Swift column in the comment section, as well as in e-mails and phone calls. Responses from around the globe. No question, many people are offended by the fact that New York City cannot find a New York City talent to represent New York City. What surprised me the most was learning how much young, creative talent has left the city. Yes, we know about the mass exodus from Manhat-


December 4, 2014

tan to Brooklyn. And yes, the adventurous ones are heading to places like Detroit and Cleveland. Many have been lured to cheaper rent and paying opportunities in L.A. But others have headed for Prague, Barcelona, Berlin, parts of Italy. It seems London has become too expensive as the same type of gentrification is happening there. Have our political leaders forgotten the fact that most of the creative genius that came out of N.Y.C. was connected to cheap rent and the chance to live an inexpensive lifestyle? And it was out of Downtown Manhattan that so many of our great cultural leaders came. What do our fearless politicians say about this brain drain and the fact that N.Y.C. has chosen Taylor

Swift as our cultural ambassador because we cannot find a N.Y.C. talent to represent N.Y.C.? We want to hear from Silver, Mendez, Chin, Squadron, Glick, Velazquez, Maloney, Nadler, Hoylman, Kavanagh, Johnson, Brewer, Gottfried. Our politicians love to give speeches. So here is an opportunity for them to let us know what they think. Or are they really as corrupt and bought-off as our local Columbia-trained medical doctor Dr. Ores says? Dr. Dave’s prescription: “Let’s stop calling them ‘politicians’.” Politicians are employees of large corporations and super-wealthy donors...American and foreign. Sadly, many people agree with this observation. But let’s be fair and give them an

opportunity to respond to the question of why Taylor Swift? And why cannot N.Y.C. find a N.Y.C. talent? People are angry about how so many local businesses have been forced to close, and how people are losing their homes; about the rent being “too damn high,” the oversaturation of bars, and the loss of community services; the loss of community, the proliferation of corporate cookie-cutter businesses, the exporting of jobs, the loss of creative opportunities. But this importing of talent in a city that used to be thought the cultural center of the world is way too much. We have to import talent? Yes, let’s hear from our politicians — or are they too deep into the pockets of Wall St. and the multinational corporations?

Bicycle shop owner says CitiBike mowed him down BY TEQUILA MINSKY


George Bliss is angry about CitiBike, saying it has put him out of business.

their stolen bicycles. His bikes range from used ones that are under $200 to imported European models up to $1,500. His gross revenue has dropped by half, from $1 million to $500,000, he said. His rent is $10,000 a month. He will be out of the space before the slower season of winter sets in. Calling CitiBike a “subsidized system,” he asked, “How can I compete?” CitiBike’s exclusive contract makes it a monopoly, Bliss added. He questions the justification of giving this to one company. “Ninety-nine percent of New York isn’t served,” he charged. “It’s a ban on bike-sharing.” The docking station in Harlem was pulled out, he said. “This is not serving people in neighborhoods who can’t afford bicycles,” he pointed out. Bliss said that he takes all forms of collateral for a bike rental — such as a driver’s license or house keys — while CitiBike requires a $1,200 credit card limit, the value of the bike. He also questioned, “Where are the bicycles and docks made?” But if the question is whether CitiBike has helped increase the number of people cycling on New York’s streets, then CitiBike has clearly been a success story. The hundreds

What’s next? he wonders. Walmart Ave.? Google Park? McDonald’s Bridge?

rying advertising on street bicycles.” In addition to bike sales, Bliss makes money on rentals and repairs. In what he charged is the crux of the problem, he said, “There are five docking stations within five blocks” of his business. This is the reason, he contends, that instead of renting out up to 80 bikes, the way he used to, he now only rents out about 30. Not only are repairs down, but previously people would replace


or nine years George Bliss’s the HUB (Hudson Urban Bike) shop has sold and repaired bicycles for adults and children in the far West Village, first on Morton St., then occupying a large garage on Charles St. But by mid-December, the HUB will be gone. CitiBike is the simple reason, according to Bliss. “I have to compete against a bank,” he said. “This is the first example of corporate-branded infrastructure,” stressed Bliss of the Citigroup-sponsored program, whose thousands of bikes, he complained, flood the streets “with an ad every time someone turns a corner.” “I couldn’t have ads on my pedicabs,” he noted, of the previous business he operated in Soho for six years. Bliss sees CitiBike as providing bike-sharing at less than its real cost. The free market, he said, “what people are wiling to pay,” should be the determining factor. “What’s the real cost?” he said. “And let them pay it.” “It’s not sustainable,” Bliss continued. “They’re losing money. They just got bailed out — $60 million over 10 years.” Obviously, CitiBike riders — especially members, who, until recently, had only been paying $100 annually — aren’t complaining. He added that one of the primary expenses for CitiBike is “rebalancing” the bicycles by repositioning them every day where the docking stations are low on or empty of bikes. “I’m in favor of bike-sharing,” Bliss added, “but there should be competing systems. They should not be car-

CitiBike users, like this cyclist in the Village near Bliss’s the HUB store, enjoy the convenience and affordability of the new bike-sharing program.

of miles of bike lanes installed in the last seven years and CitiBike have considerably boosted the number of New Yorkers using bicycles as transportation, according to Caroline Samponano, senior director of campaigns and organizing at Transportation Alternatives, the local bicycle advocacy organization. “There is a demand for more bicycle lanes across the city and they are talking about extending CitiBike to Bed-Stuy, northern Manhattan, western Queens and farther into Brooklyn,” Samponaro noted. She added that the City Council is aware of some of the obstacles and limitations of the bike-sharing ser-

vice and is grappling with issues of increasing accessibility. Samponano also acknowledged that it will take time for the city’s bicycle industry to stabilize and adapt to CitiBike being an integral part of New York’s transit system. She suggested that since CitiBike has gotten more people out riding bikes, in the long term, it will be good for the bicycle businesses. Ron and Rene Harris, Turtle Bay residents, were spotted lunching, with their own non-CitiBike bicycles beside them, in Washington Square Park on Monday. They co-write a bicycle blog. Ron observed that the city has definitely become more friendly, in general, to cyclists. “When I’m riding over the Williamsburg Bridge, most of the many cyclists are not on CitiBikes,” he said. They are also annual members of CitiBike, which they use at night, when going out to a movie or to eat. “I don’t have to worry about the bikes being stolen,” Ron said. He also reported that the other day he had attempted to dock a CitiBike at 16 docks — “I counted” — before he found an empty spot that wasn’t “pin-locked.” The manager of Bicycle Habitat, on Lafayette St., another longtime local bike shop, said that some storeowners are not actively trying to court CitiBike users. Nevertheless, the manager, who asked that his name not be printed, said, Citi Bike users are “slowly coming back to bike shops to get nicer bikes for pleasure rides.” As predicted, with the recent sale of CitiBike, the annual membership rate has increased — a 53 percent hike, from $95 to $145. Regarding what he called “branded infrastructure,” Bliss thinks that CitiBike gets a pass because it is dealing with bicycles. In his nightmare futuristic imagining, he suggested this could lead to Sixth Ave. becoming Walmart Ave., Central Park becoming Google Park and the Brooklyn Bridge becoming McDonald’s Bridge — with its arches painted golden yellow. Next week, prior to his vacating the HUB, Bliss plans to hold a press conference at the 139 Charles St. location. Bliss, who originally hails from Connecticut, has been in the bicycle business for 21 years. “I hate automobiles,” he stated. “On a bicycle, you feel alive, you see the world, you don’t pollute.” He said that with the current bikesharing system, one is no longer independent and self-reliant. “You have to get it back in 45 minutes,” he said. “You’re part of a system and no longer free.“ December 4, 2014


Sad adieu to Bruno’s over cappuccino and cannoli BY TEQUILA MINSKY



Pina Settepani, the owner of Pasticceria Bruno, right, and her son Joseph Settepani on the cafe’s final day.

birthday cake order for her 18-year-old son, she nostalgically reflected, “Bruno’s made our wedding cake” Community gardeners were huddling over their final coffees. “We have our board meetings here,” said Sara Jones of LaGuardia Corner Gardens — just across LaGuardia St. Jones and Barbara Cahn, the beekeepers of the garden’s newly established breakaway hive — “they squatted in a cabinet in the garden” — were later joined by other garden members for a last farewell. “We come here in the summer to cool off and in the winter to warm up,” Jones said. On Sunday afternoon, N.Y.U. film professor Bob Stam, who lives in Silver Towers, was sitting outside the place. He is such a regular that his name should have been engraved on one of the seats. It’s been his “second home,” he said, since he moved from Little Italy, 29 years ago. From his outside perch, Stam drinks iced coffee summer and winter. “I’ve met so many people sitting out here,” he reminisced, while eating a mini lemon tart with a fellow professor. He recounted the different phases of wait staff he’s seen. “There were the Ethiopians, and later, the Brazilians.” Meanwhile, during a stop on a

“chocolate walking tour” of the Village, tourists sampled Bruno’s signature mini cannolis before moving on. Nestled in the far corner were musicology professors and neighbors David Cannata and Rena Mueller, who lunch there every weekend. Cannata finished off his last Bruno’s meal with a cream cannoli. “People don’t understand,” he said. “To be called the ‘Cannoli King’ in a ‘Throwdown! with Bobby Flay’ is something simply extraordinary.” He elaborated that cannoli is “the pastry for Sicilians — it’s in their DNA.” Mueller’s last dessert was a Ferrero Rocher, chocolate cream with nuts. “I’m sad, despondent,” she said.


here were a lot of long faces and heartfelt hugs at Pasticceria Bruno / Bakery & Café last Sunday, as community members, some who had been customers for as long as the shop has been open, made their final orders. Most said their long goodbyes while drinking cappuccino with a pastry. Sunday was the last day for the LaGuardia Place shop, which has served up its baked goodies and Italian coffee drinks — and Italian breads, too — for 41 years. The place was buzzing. Clubhouse, hangout, office and home away from home were just a few of the functions served by this centrally located neighborhood staple. Villagers and Soho residents will have to go elsewhere for their tarts, mousses, sfogliatella, biscotti cookie assortments and special order cakes. The “To our loyal customers” notice on the front window read, in part: “We would like to thank our landlord for the opportunity to make this work, but since September 11, 2001, it’s been a continuing struggle to stay in business. Times have changed in our business and we cannot financially stay. New York City and some of their agencies make it impossible to survive.” While some of Sunday’s customers had just found the place for the first time, it was pretty much filled with neighbors and regulars. Over a croissant and tea, Soho resident Roma Mostel — a cousin of Zero Mostel — and Villager Roberta Pugh, over cappuccinos and hamantaschen, were having a final Bruno’s meet-up. They said it was a de facto community center, and that everybody met each other there. “This is a major change in the neighborhood,” Mostel said. Pugh mentioned how she regularly bought Bruno’s ciabatta or semolina breads . As a neighbor picked up a chocolate

“We’ve been eating here since 1972.” Mueller said she also remembers the family matriarch, Bruno’s mother. As Sunday’s “wake” continued, regulars drifted in and out, hugging wait staff and owners alike. Owner Pina Settepani was careful to say that it wasn’t about the landlord. It was just hard to make it as a small business in Manhattan, she explained. She mentioned, in particular, Health Department fines for “any little thing” that really killed them, along with taxes and insurance. “We don’t want to leave,” she said. “We just can’t afford to stay.” Pasticceria Bruno still has two other locations on Staten Island, where the Settepanis live. Their children are also in the family business. Salvatore is the executive pastry chef and owner of one of the Staten Island locations. Youngest brother Joseph has been baking mouthwatering, calorie-loading pastries on LaGuardia St. for one year; he studied pastry and baking arts at Culinary Institute of America. Joseph had planned to take over the Village store, but remained upbeat. “In four or five years, I’ll be back in Manhattan,” he said. The whole family gathered at the bakery during its final hours. The other grown children, while posing for a last photo, echoed their brother’s prediction: “We’ll be back!”

Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Installation, Operation and Management of an Outdoor Holiday Gift Market at Union Square Park, Manhattan In accordance with Section 1-13 of the Rules of the Franchise and Concession Review Committee (“FCRC”), the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (“Parks”) is issuing, as of the date of this notice, a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the installation, operation and management of an outdoor holiday gift market at Union Square Park, Manhattan. All proposals submitted in response to this RFP must be submitted no later than Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at 3:00 PM. There will be a recommended proposer meeting and site tour on Tuesday, December 9, 2014 at 2:00PM. We will be meeting at the proposed concession site which is located at the south side of Union Square Park, Manhattan. If you are considering responding to this RFP, please make every effort to attend this recommended meeting and site tour. Hard copies of the RFP can be obtained, at no cost, commencing on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 through Wednesday, January 7, 2015, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., excluding weekends and holidays, at the Revenue Division of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, which is located at 830 Fifth Avenue, Room 407, New York, NY 10065. The RFP is also available for download, commencing on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 through Wednesday, January 7, 2015, on Parks’ website. To download the RFP, visit and click on the “Concessions Opportunities at Parks” link. Once you have logged in, click on the “download” link that appears adjacent to the RFP’s description. For more information or to request to receive a copy of the RFP by mail, prospective proposers may contact the Revenue Division’s Project Manager, Thomas Mathai, at (212) 360-3495 or at TELECOMMUNICATION DEVICE FOR THE DEAF (TDD) 212-504-4115


December 4, 2014

Downtown’s cannoli crisis After more than a century in business, De Robertis Pasticceria and Caffé, at E. 11th St. and First Ave., will close for good this Fri., Dec. 5. Taken together with the closing of Pasticceria Bruno on LaGuardia Place, it’s a perfect storm of pastry shop closings for Downtown Manhattan. A traditional, no-frills pastry shop, De Robertis first opened its doors in 1904, and was immortalized on screen in Woody Allen’s “Manhattan Murder Mystery,” Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X” and “Sex and the City.” John De Robertis, the grandson of the founder,  said the decision to close was based on the remaining siblings’ health concerns and a change in consumer tastes. The family owns the building, which they are reportedly selling for $12 million.

Ho Ho, Let’s Go



The Rob Susman Brass Quartet, and free songbooks, will make the season merry and bright (Dec. 10 & 24 at the Washington Square Park Arch).



There are, of course, other trees in town this time of year — but our favorite is the 45-footer artfully framed by the Washington Square Park Arch. Tastefully (never overly) decorated, you’ll find no pricey skating rink standing between you and the photo

op that’s served as more than one true New Yorker’s holiday greeting card. It’s enough to make even the most grizzled Grinch break out into song — and The Washington Square Association will help make that happen, by handing out complimentary songbooks and providing accompaniment from the Rob Susman Brass Quartet. The tree’s lights will be turned on for the first time this season on Dec. 6, when the very busy Santa Claus appears to lead the traditional illumina-

tion countdown. Then, Yuletide carols will be sung by an informally convened choir — dressed up like Eskimos if weather permits. The festivities repeat on Dec. 24. Free. Wed., Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. and Wed., Dec. 24 at 5 p.m. At the Washington Square Park Arch (at the foot of Fifth Ave., one block south of Eighth St.). The tree is lit from 4 p.m.–1 a.m. daily, through the season. For info, call 212-252-3621 or visit

Steeped in tradition but never stuffy, the West Village Chorale has been celebrating the classics since 1971— while providing their audiences with friendly, informal opportunities to sing along. Their participatory “Summer Sings” series may be as distant a memory as 70-degree temperatures, but December presents ample opportunities to add your voice to the joyful noise. On Dec. 7, the audience becomes the choir — as conductor Michael Conley leads the annual “Messiah Sing.” On Dec. 12 & 14, the “All That Glitters” concert marks the Chorale’s third year at Judson Memorial Church. Brass ensemble, harp and piano fill the 1890 Village landmark church, in a program that features Gregorian chants, Irving Berlin classics and 1940s bandleader Fred Waring’s period arrangement of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” The audience is invited to join the Chorale in singing a few carols — a helpful warm-up to Dec. 20’s annual Greenwich Village Caroling Walk. Since 1974, they’ve been hosting this stroll through the historic, Dickens-like Village neighborhoods. Songbooks are provided, so no pressure to remember all the words. The Walk concludes back at Judson — where refreshments await, along with much conviviality and more singing. The “Messiah Sing” happens Sun., HOLIDAY GUIDE, continued on p.18 December 4, 2014




From 1965: a Rilke poem transcribed by Robert Duncan, alongside the card’s exterior (designed by Duncan’s partner, Jess). See this and more inspirational holiday correspondence, at Poets House.

HOLIDAY GUIDE, continued from p. 17



December 4, 2014

The West Village Chorale’s “Messiah Sing” happens Dec. 7, with seasonal concerts Dec. 12/14 and a caroling walk Dec. 20.


Courtesy of The 23rd Street Partnership, this annual three-week event fills the Flatiron Building’s public plazas with food, contests and family-friendly activities — most of it free, and all of it featuring good stuff from local merchants. Highlights include performances by the Peoples Improv Theater, 90-minute, holiday-themed walking tours (Sundays, 11 a.m.), balloon and candy cane giveaways, and complimentary gift-wrapping to anyone showing $25 or more in receipts from a Flatiron establishment. Spin the Flatiron Wheel and you might win a prize from area shops and restaurants. Post images on public Instagram and Twitter accounts of your encounter with the art installation (using the hashtag #NewYorkLight), and you’ll be entered to win prizes from Flatiron businesses. Nonperishable food items will be accepted at the North Public Plaza, and then donated to the Food Bank For New York City. At Broadway & 23rd St. For the “23 Days” events calendar, visit Facebook: Twitter & Instagram: @FlatironNY. Email: HOLIDAY GUIDE, continued on p.19


At your wits end when it comes to finding the right thing to say inside all of those holiday cards you’ll be mailing or including with gifts? This exhibition of correspondence by famous poets is a great source of inspiration — or, in desperate circumstances, outright theft. A great poet in his own right, Robert Duncan chose the latter option, by transcribing Rainer Maria Rilke’s “The Child.” He kept the universe in balance, though, by sending it in a card designed by his artist partner, Jess. On view through March 21, “Winter Wedding” features holiday cards, valentines, birthday greetings, annual original compositions and more, from some of the last century’s most beloved poets — including Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Alice Notley, Ted Berrigan, Seamus Heaney and Marianne Moore. Free. Through March 21, 2015, at Poets House (10 River Terrace, in Battery Park City). Hours: Tues.–Fri., 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sat., 11 a.m.–6 p.m. For info, call 212-431-7920 or visit


Dec. 7 at 3 p.m., at Judson Memorial Church (55 Washington Square South, at Thompson St.). Tickets are $15 ($10 for students/seniors). The “All That Glitters” concert happens at Judson: 7 p.m. on Fri., Dec. 12 and at 3 p.m. on Sun., Dec. 14. General admission, $25 ($10 for students/seniors). The Caroling Walk happens at 4 p.m. on Sat., Dec. 20. This free event (donations accepted) begins in the Meeting Room of Judson. For info on all Chorale activities, call 212-517-1776 or visit

It’s 23 Days of Flatiron Cheer, when the public plazas are filled with free events and entertainment.


When the wrapping paper comes off, the beat goes on — but first, you need to scope out the ARChive of Contemporary Music’s 30,000+ collection of CDs, LPs, books, videos, DVDs, music magazines, audio equipment and vintage psychedelic posters. There, you’ll find the perfect gift for every jazz, folk, funk, punk, pop, classical, world music and rock fanatic on your list (without having to decimate your piggy bank). This annual sale benefits the non-profit archive, library and research center’s mission to collect, preserve and provide information on popular music from 1950 to the present. Most of the items are donated by record companies and private collectors, and all are skip, scratch and warp-free. With hundreds of CDs at $1 and new items starting at $5, you can walk away with a tactile gesture of holiday cheer that’s cheaper than downloading. Need a gift for somebody who doesn’t like music? You’re still in the right place! Peruse the Astroturf Yard Sale for vintage kitchenwares and clothing. Join ARC as a member, and you’ll get an invite to their Dec. 11 cocktail party (with food, booze, schmoozing and first dibs on everything up for grabs when the sale starts two days later). The sale happens from Dec. 13-21, daily. Hours: 11 a.m.–6 p.m. At the ARChive of Contemporary Music (54 White St., 3 blocks south of Canal St., btw. Broadway & Church Sts.). Call 212-226-6967 or visit

Kiddie rockers Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights are the marquee entertainment, when the Museum of Jewish Heritage hosts “Menorah Madness.” Geared toward children ages 3 to 10, the afternoon offers crafts and a minitour of the galleries (free with your concert ticket). After years on the NYC alt music scene (with gigs at The Bitter End, The Living Room, Arlene’s Grocery and CBGB’s), singer/songwriter Leeds shifted her focus to children’s music — and the little ones gobbled up CDs such as “Challah, Challah” and “City Kid.” Even parents have been known to request repeat listens! Hearing is believing, though, so catch Leeds and her Nightlights perform songs from their new release, “Good Egg.” On Dec. 25, Joshua Nelson brings his

“Prince of Kosher Gospel Music” Joshua Nelson performs at the Museum of Jewish Heritage on Dec. 25.

Cheaper than downloading: ARChive of Contemporary Music’s Holiday Record + CD Sale happens Dec. 13-21.

Kosher Gospel Choir to the Museum for two concerts. Known for his fusion of Hebrew tunes and gospel style, the African-American “Prince of Gospel Music” will perform “Lecha Dodi,” “Adon Olam,” “Mi Chamocha,” “Ein Keloheinu” and “Eli, Eli,” among others. “Menorah Madness” takes place on Sun., Dec. 14, 1-4:30 p.m. (crafts 1-4, tour at 1:30, concert at 2). Tickets: $10, $7 for children 10 and under. Museum members: $7 and bring up to 3 children for free ($5 for each additional child). Joshua Nelson performs at 1 & 3:30 p.m. on Thurs., Dec. 25. Tickets are $35 for adults, $25 for students and seniors, and $20 for members. At The Museum of Jewish Heritage (Edmond J. Safra Plaza, 36 Battery Place). To order, call 646-437-4202 or visit


Winter Garden’s 10-story barrel-vaulted glass roof sparkles and shines with an intensity that increases throughout December, as the mirrored and jeweled discs embedded in veteran theater designer Anne Militello’s “Metamorphosis” light instillation provides a dramatic backdrop to a series of free holiday events at Brookfield Place. Santa’s Winter Garden returns on the weekend of Dec. 5-7, offering photo ops with the jolly old fellow (for kids, of course, but adults are welcome to snap a selfie). Free 12:30 p.m. concerts on Dec. 11 & 14 feature jazz and blues vocalist Catherine Russell and the National Yiddish Theatre, respectively. The Grammy Award-winning Russell will put a swing spin on classics from the American songbook, while the Yiddish Theatre’s “Songs of Chanukah” will celebrate the Festival of Lights with traditional holiday melodies and hot Klezmer music. Free. Through Dec. 31, at Winter Garden and Waterfront Plaza at Brookfield Place (220 Vesey St., at West St.). For info:





HOLIDAY GUIDE, continued from p. 18

The 10-story light installation “Metamorphosis” shines over the Hudson River, and provides a backdrop for many of the holiday events at Brookfield Place.

December 4, 2014


Ho, Ho, Ho and Ha, Ha, Ha

Holiday shows with the gift of humor A MURRAY LITTLE CHRISTMAS PHOTO BY ORLANDA MARRA

“A Murray Little Christmas” has the middle-aged showbiz schmoozer hosting a highball-friendly evening of bawdy entertainment. Dec. 13.


A touch of Mink: Baltimore’s Stole brings her own brand of holiday spirit to NYC, Dec. 11–14.

It’s not quite the same as being eternally young, but classy impresario Murray Hill has been living up to his “hardest working middle-aged man in show business” moniker for two decades now, even going back before the iconic drag king’s 1996 mayoral bid. What a different town this would be had he won! Fortunately, there’s no need to indulge in “It’s a Wonderful Life”-type speculation. For one show only, the naughty times are back — and even Santa must think that’s nice, considering the fact that he’s been booked for the gig. Full of more burlesque royalty than you can shake a tassel at, “A Murray Little Christmas” finds the affable Mr. Hill hosting a recreation of his infamous bachelor pad holiday cocktail parties — where the only thing blue about Christmas is the humor. So kick back, down a highball and enjoy Murray’s road tested roster of seasonal skits, cheesy songs and the kind of dazzling production numbers that come from another era (back when people actually rehearsed for these things!). Guests include burlesque sensations Trixie Little, Perle Noire and Mr. Gorgeous, carnal chanteuse Bridget Everett and Carmine Covelli (a.k.a Sebastian The Elf) — plus swinging backup from The Craig’s List Quartet. Rudolph and the aforementioned Mr. Claus will appear, but they’ll have a hard time upstaging Murray’s traditional (and potentially traumatizing) appearance as The Little Drummer Boy. This non-returnable gift of unfettered jubilation is not for young eyes or prudish ears. As Murray says, “All denominations, orientations and sexual proclivities will be celebrated!” Sat., Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. At (Le) Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker St. btw. Sullivan & Thompson Sts.). Tickets: $20 standing, $25 seated. Reserved front VIP seating, $55. Reservations at Info: 212-505-3474. Visit Murray at Twitter & Instagram: @Murray_Hill.


Few in this town can honestly claim to have been good all year long — so it’s best not to question why Santa has gifted us with shows starring Mink Stole two years in a row. After turning in a wonderfully vulnerable and understated performance in the New Ohio Theatre’s 2013 revival of Tennessee Williams’ “The Mutilated,” the Baltimore native and John Waters muse is returning to NYC, this time with a show of her own creation. Filled with celebratory music and revelatory anecdotes from Christmases long,

long ago, “OMG!” promises to expose fans to hidden dimensions of the underground legend’s range (vocal and otherwise). Accompanied by a trio of longtime collaborators dubbed Her Wonderful Band, songs include “Stay a Little Longer Santa,” a French version of “The Little Drummer Boy” and a sing-along to “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Next year, look for her back on the screen, in “Sweet Charlotte.” Directed by Billy Clift, it’s a drag parody of the Bette Davis thriller from 1964 — two years before Stole would begin her own stellar career of cinematic atrocities, with an appearance in John Waters’ “Roman Candles.” Thurs.–Sun., Dec. 11–14 at 8:30 p.m. At The Laurie Beechman Theatre (407 W. 42nd St., at Ninth Ave). Tickets: $25 ($40 VIP gets you preferred seating and backstage meet and greet). Reservations: 212-352-3101 or Visit

NOT THE MESSIAH (He’s a Very Naughty Boy)

He co-founded Monty Python, he created “The Rutles” and he blogged as recently as last week — but all of this creative output was just mere practice, practice, practice for Eric Idle’s Dec. 15 & 16 gigs at Carnegie Hall. There, the man who wrote the book and lyrics for the long-running Broadway hit “Spamalot” will shepherd another Monty Python film to the stage — with assistance from Victoria Clark, Marc Kudisch, Lauren Worsham, William Ferguson, conductor/director Ted Sperling, the Collegiate Chorale and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Created in 2007 with longtime musical collaborator John Du Prez, this comic oratorio is based on the 1979 film, “Life of Brian” — Monty Python’s exceedingly sharp satire of mistaken identity and deification. “Not The Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy)” incorporates elements of pop, country, Broadway, doo-wop, hip-hop, and Greek chorus. It also includes an audience participation version of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” Sung during the crucifixion scene toward the end of “Life of Brian,” the Idle-penned tune was recently cited as Britain’s most popular funeral hymn. Mon. & Tues., Dec. 15 & 16 at 8 p.m. At Carnegie Hall (Seventh Ave. at 57th St.). For tickets ($30), call 212-2477800 or visit For more info on the artists:, and

—Scott Stiffler


He may not be the Messiah, but Eric Idle excels at adapting very naughty Monty Python films for the stage. His “Life of Brian”-based oratorio plays Carnegie Hall on Dec. 15 & 16.


December 4, 2014


Book & Lyrics by Bill Russell Music by Henry Krieger Directed by Bill Condon Runtime: 2hr 30min., with intermission Tue. & Thu. at 7 p.m., Wed., Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m. At the St. James Theatre 246 W. 44th St. (btw. 7th & 8th Aves.) Tickets: $49-$155 Visit or call 212-239-6200




ans of the original “Side Show” may be in for a jolt when they see the first-ever major revival, now at the St. James Theatre. After catching the new production, one such “freaks” freak –– who had seen the 1997 debut multiple times before it was shuttered a mere 10 weeks after opening on Broadway –– shook his head. “How could they cut ‘Tunnel Of Love?’ It was the best number in the show,” he lamented. That’s hardly the only element altered from the legendary musical, based on the once-famous conjoined twins, Daisy and Violet Hilton, forced into a traveling sideshow and searching for a normal life. For this production is not so much a revival as a fullon reboot. Visionary dramatist Bill Condon (best known for directing the movie versions of “Chicago” and “Dreamgirls”) has helped Bill Russell retool the book, giving key characters richer backstories in an attempt to deepen the drama. The soaring, electrifying score is by Russell (lyrics) and Henry Krieger (music), who trimmed a few numbers and added others. No longer sung through like an opera, the endeavor is now a traditional book musical. With all due respect to die-hard superfans, the revisions have paid off big-time. This iteration of “Side Show” not only delivers all the thrills and chills you expect, but does so with an abundance of empathy and soul, unafraid to wear its heart on its sleeve. For starters, the production is extremely tight, thanks in part to out-of-town stints at La Jolla Playhouse and the Kennedy Center. David Rockwell’s impressive set transitions seamlessly from grimy to glamorous. Stunning images of enlarged sepia-toned posters and newspapers underscore the sensationalism that surrounded the twins in the 1930s, and shadow puppetry vignettes amp up the action. Paul Kieve is credited with designing the nifty illusions. The realistic looking freaks in the “odditorium” — a lizard man, a dog boy, a bearded lady, a man with three legs, miniature Cossack dancers, a human pin cushion, among others — look wondrously awesome. Quite a contrast to the original, which merely implied the physical deformities.

Emily Padgett and Erin Davie in “Side Show.”

Revamped cult musical about conjoined twins gets its act together this time The main attraction, of course, is the duo of Daisy (Emily Padgett) and Violet (Erin Davie), who, although joined at the hip, manage to sing and dance and look radiant. (Fun fact: their undergarments are reinforced with super-strong magnets to keep the twins well connected.) Abused and treated like slaves since birth, they are soon rescued by a wily, handsome team of promoters, Terry (Ryan Silverman) and Buddy (Matthew Hydzik), who develop tender bonds with the girls even as they exploit them. After dance lessons, vocal coaching, and a makeover with spunky new hairstyles, the Hilton sisters become the highest paid performers on the vaudeville circuit. The transformation is dazzling. As the beleaguered “freaks” seeking true love and validation under the unforgiving spotlight, Padgett and Davie are exceptional, keenly locating the emotional center of each character. Padgett brings a warm fragility to the fearless, fame-seeking Daisy, while Davie allows the shy, shrinking Violet to tap into a secret reservoir of strength. Any lack of physical resemblance is easily overlooked once the pair begins to sing — angelic and mellifluous, they sound as if they share the same DNA. “Side Show” is more than just an eye-popping freak show. Perhaps too tidily, Daisy falls for Terry and Violet for Buddy, who returns her affection with a

marriage proposal. Is it true love, does he pity her, or is it simply a publicity stunt? The fact that Buddy has a taste for men complicates matters further. In a rather force-fitted subplot, Jake, who in the sideshow was billed as the “Cannibal King” from the “inky jungles” of Africa, develops a crush on one of the girls. As delivered by a fervent David St. Louis, the thunderous ballad, “You Should Be Loved” is a showstopper. Other outstanding numbers include the captivating opener, “Come Look at the Freaks,” the tearjerker “Who Will Love Me As I Am?,” and “I Will Never Leave You,” a triumphant ode to codependency. Ultimately, the endearingly sincere “Side Show” is a melodious celebration of misfits — and fits in perfectly with a Broadway populated by the likes of “Kinky Boots,” “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” and “The Elephant Man.” As you might suspect, the overarching message is that, relatively speaking, we’re all freaks, whether three-legged or black or gay or, heck, even a gawking audience member. The money-grubbing Auntie (Blair Ross) and Sir (a delightfully smarmy Robert Joy) who mistreated the twins in their early days are even more grotesque than “God’s mistakes” in the sideshow tent. As the tiny Cossack woman quips after Buddy makes an ingratiating speech, “He’s just as weird as the rest of us.” December 4, 2014



December 4, 2014

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December 4, 2014


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Continued from p. 12

candidates, when asked “What would you, as board chairperson, decide on your own and what would you consult your fellow board members on?” Tobi Bergman replied: “I think the chairperson should consult on all decisions, all issues.” Outgoing C.B. 2 Chairperson David Gruber put in a lot of work as chairperson and I acknowledge that work and those efforts. However, to point to the Washington Square Park Conservancy as one of his “accomplishments,” as he reported in The Villager’s Nov. 27 article, brings up a host of issues. This is an “accomplishment” that was done through Gruber’s private meetings with the conservancy’s four founding members, and he kept the information largely to himself for more than a year. Gruber was well aware of sentiment in the community against a conservancy for Washington Square Park, having been involved to a great degree at meetings surrounding the redesign. And he should have been aware that the agreement with the Parks Department had been that any such proposed body would be open to full community input and oversight from the ground up. Other C.B. 2 Executive Committee members, including Keen Berger, had no idea for a year this was in the works until it was announced as basically a fait accompli. Tobi Bergman also met with the conservancy founders and coached them before they appeared in public. Is this acting in the interest of the community when all the decks are stacked and the moves plotted out? Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) documents later obtained by the Washington Square Park Blog show that never revealed were plans for a license agreement, theatrical productions and programming for park “patrons,” discussions around N.Y.U. money for the park with university higher-ups, the moving and potential banning of the hot dog vendors and more. When questioned by The Villager about all of this, the conservancy bobbed and weaved, and backed away from the plans — for the moment.  When this information came to light, instead of rolling back the conservancy and starting over with a full investigation and review, the C.B. 2 Parks Committee allowed a farce of a


December 4, 2014

meeting to occur in early March 2013. At that meeting, Bergman, who was on the Parks Committee, was clearly on the side of the conservancy, not the community, and even tried to shut everything down at one point. Now, as board chairperson, Tobi Bergman has a chance to set things right to ensure that the entire community board — including its committees — is conducting business in an inclusive, transparent manner and to correct mistakes that were made in the past.  Cathryn Swan  Swan is editor, Washington Square Park Blog

‘Swift boat fiasco’ To The Editor: Re “Swift as N.Y.C. ambassador is not welcome on the L.E.S.” (talking point, by Clayton Patterson, Nov. 27): Clayton’s video is a hilarious and much-needed antidote to the plastic Swift boat fiasco currently pulling the wool over many eyes. The heart and soul of New York City — eclipsed by decades of malignant landlordism, rampant gentrification and an invasion of pod people — is still inside some of us.  Artists, entertainers, working people, the crazy, the homeless and even public servants attuned to the pulse of the city were once essential components of what made New York City livable. That’s mostly gone now.  New York City is now comatose thanks to plastic people like Taylor Swift and the corporate takeover of everything. Authentic counterculture is now so far underground you’d need an archaeologist with a mining crew to find it. The giant simulation in place has been designed to erase all of us.  Clayton’s video is a cry in the wilderness. Let’s all take notice. Extremism in defense of liberty should be our goal. A new extremism that screams the truth. An extremism that rejects compromising with a global elite and a ruling class whose primary objective is to kill each of us. Resist. Rebel. Question authority. You’ve got to say, I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!  Nick Zedd

Face of the new N.Y.C.? To The Editor: Re “Swift as N.Y.C. ambassador is not welcome on the L.E.S.” (talking point, by Clayton Patterson, Nov. 27): Thank God, Clayton is still in there pitching! Great column, and the video is well done. Unfortunately, Taylor Swift is the face of what New York City has become, or is becoming. She is so thin, and so white, and so rich, she almost doesn’t exist — anyone can read anything they want into her. She’s as safe as a glass of milk. For what it’s worth, I feel that the period we’re living in is vaguely analogous to the late ’50s, and I don’t see anything remotely like the Beats on the horizon. Almost all of the music I hear in the city now is retro, a copy of something that happened years ago. Clothing styles and haircuts are all from the past. It’s as if the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s never happened. Perhaps this is a reaction to 9/11 — denizens of the empire retreating into safer, duller waters. It would be nice if Clayton’s film signaled the start of something new! Ron Kolm

New York is not vanilla To The Editor: Re “Swift as N.Y.C. ambassador is not welcome on the L.E.S.” (talking point, by Clayton Patterson, Nov. 27): New York, to me, has always been a place that embraced complexity, diversity and co-existence. There are many incredible and amazing cities around the world, and I have been lucky enough to perform in quite a few of them. But one thing that has always stood out about New York City is its inherent “take me as I am” attitude. Tourism plays an important role for many great cities and these cities, in turn, make an effort to accommodate these tourists. In New York, tourists who wanted the “New York experience” always got one — but they were obliged to deal with New Yorkers. They came here and accommodated us, in our natural environment, and not the other way around! New York maintained a wild,

untamed, natural, expressive and artistic experience. It was not “more of the same” old consumerist mainstream culture that America has become famous for since WW II. Instead it was an antidote for that white-bread American feeling that has been alive and well on these shores for centuries. New York was edgy, challenging, engaging, maybe even a bit dangerous, but it had its own culture — its own extreme version of everything and everyone else. More than just the “tired, huddled masses,” New York City attracted both the rejects and the most ambitious and talented from everywhere else. If you didn’t fit in anywhere else, then you definitely would fit in in New York City! And even though we never made it easy for anybody, we did always seem to take pride in our tough love uniqueness and individual warm-heartedness.  Now, we seem to be creating a New York City that lacks many of these qualities and is less and less maintaining its own special and difficult character. We are like someone in a relationship who tries so hard to become only what the other person likes, that we end up losing our own personality and the relationship to boot! There are double-decker tour busses everywhere; we are constantly being looked at like zoo animals (instead of the predatory animals we used to be). And more and more it seems like I’m late to an appointment due to tourists standing in the middle of a crowded intersection/sidewalk/turnstile. I am not sure what the point of a cultural ambassador is — and if we really need one, he or she damn well better represent the heart and guts of the city. If all we need is a song, and if the default is no longer Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” then maybe I would nominate Alicia Keys — at least there’s some inherent diversity and a pretty good tune.  Even though I am a musician, I have to admit that I have no idea who Taylor Swift is, and certainly no idea what her music sounds like. She seems to be very young, white, female, rich and blonde — perhaps the perfect ambassador for some city somewhere, I guess. Avram Fefer LETTERS, continued on p. 25

LETTERS, continued from p. 24

Time to repay the favor To The Editor: Re “Good P.R. for police” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Dec. 27): In regard to the lead Scoopy item, it was activist attorney and soonto-be federal prison inmate Stanley Cohen who advised Michael Julian not to take a disability pension when Julian retired from the New York Police Department. Julian and Stanley had developed an adversarial relationship over the years in the neighborhood. But, believe it or not, Julian reached out to Cohen and asked his advice about taking disability. Not taking it cost Julian a lot of money over the years, and Stanley and I sometimes talked about how Julian must have been pissed at Stanley for giving him the advice. Looks like in the long run Stanley’s advice worked out to be good for Julian since if he had taken the disability pension, he would not have been allowed to return to the N.Y.P.D. If Julian sees this, I suggest he send some contributions to Stanley Cohen’s commissary fund in federal prison over the next 18 months starting on Jan. 6.  John Penley

Breach is widening To The Editor: Re “Cooper, alum association reach détente” (news article, Nov. 27): The lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court has not “led to a tremendous amount of misinformation.” Quite the opposite. The Committee to Save Cooper Union’s petition filed with the court makes a cogent and compelling argument that Cooper Union’s president and board of trustees are in clear violation of the trust agreement they’re required to uphold. I suggest everyone read it. Despite Cooper spokesperson Harmon’s characterization that, “honest disagreements have ensued over the best use of scarce resources,” this is actually a fight against a fundamental breach of the trust

and charter by the president and the majority of trustees. The current situation is not a kind of détente. The separation of the Cooper Union Alumni Association from the school is an ominous sign of the widening breach between President Jamshed Bharucha, on the one side, and alumni, faculty and students, as well as city and state legislators, on the other. It’s time for President Bharucha and the trustees to follow the practical recommendations of the Working Group to live within their means and reverse their disastrous decision to start charging tuition after 155 years of “free.” If not, the course they are on will lead to a precipitous drop in alumni financial support, falling student “yield” rates, dismal rankings and potentially, the loss of the unique PILOT tax exemption that is critical to the school’s financial survival. Scott Lerman

RCN hooked us up To The Editor: Re “Chico loses Loisaida wall to New Jersey upstart” (news article, Nov. 27): For the record: Although RCN changed their mind about letting the Girls Club use their Avenue C wall, they did come through with a very generous grant, which allowed the Girls Club to pay all the artists and interns who painted the mural on E. First St. We parted on good terms with RCN. The “Women Who Change The World” mural is still up in the garden and in relatively good shape. Lyn Pentecost Pentecost is executive director, Lower Eastside Girls Club

Alumni prez clarifies To The Editor: Re “Cooper, alum association reach détente” (news article, Nov. 27): I am the current president of the Cooper Union Alumni Association and I have some small corrections to this informative article. The Nov. 21 meeting for agreements was for discussion with representatives of three parties: the Cooper

administration and Alumni Affairs Office, the board of trustees and the Cooper Union Alumni Association. Neither the trustees nor CUAA can enter into agreements without their respective bodies approving them. CUAA, as a result of a decision by the Cooper administration, can resume meeting on campus after a brief period in which permission was denied. CUAA has never had direct access to the Cooper Union alumni database, as far as I know. CUAA recently developed its own database and started communicating directly with alumni. Previously, all CUAA communications to alumni were made through the Cooper Unionowned and -administered cualumni. com Web site and thus were mediated communications.  The Cooper administration did not support CUAA activities last year except for its generous support of the Founder’s Day Award Ceremony. If the Alumni Affairs Office has been strengthened recently, CUAA is unaware of this. Our understanding is that there are fewer Alumni Affairs Office employees than in the past. Perhaps the administra-

tion is referencing the growth of the Development Office. The Annual Fund, previously administered by CUAA and staffed by the Alumni Office, has been administered and staffed by the Development Office since last year. Traditionally, alumni have given to the Annual Fund on an annual basis and CUAA was engaged in that campaign. CUAA representatives are engaged in discussions to find ways that CUAA’s traditional mission of serving Cooper and its alumni can best be effectuated within the current state of affairs at the Cooper Union. The CUAA Council will determine the direction CUAA will take going forward. John Leeper E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to 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. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.


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December 4, 2014

Pier55 and public process in Hudson River Park EDITORIAL, continued from p. 12


ridors would be blocked are also addressed in the study, which says only the view of the river down W. 13th St. would be affected — though at least the river would still be visible underneath the extra-high, raised pier. Pier55, with its unique “noncontextual design,” wouldn’t be visible from most of the landmarked Gansevoort Historic District (Meatpacking District), the report notes. The Hudson River Park Trust, which runs the 4-mile-long waterfront park, has been saying that the current Pier 54 is no longer viable as a main performance pier for the park. A large section of the pier dropped into the water a few years ago, and other parts of it were subsequently judged unsafe, resulting in major events now being held elsewhere in the park. Plus, because of its long, thin shape and relatively narrow entrance area, it didn’t make sense to rebuild Pier 54 in its current configuration, the Trust says. This conveniently opened the door to the Pier55 project, for which the Trust found a very generous donor — Diller and DvF — willing to fund not only the new pier’s construction, but also its operation, maintenance and programming for the next 20 years, with an option to extend that another 10 years. A nonprofit, Pier55, Inc., helmed by Diller would operate the pier and program it with top performers. Many will say this project is absolutely wonderful, a win-win in every sense — a beautifully landscaped and fully funded park “arts pier” that will be a stunning venue — like “Venice on the Hudson,” as von Furstenberg put it. As Assemblymember Deborah Glick told The Villager two weeks ago, “It’s a very difficult thing not to be happy about.” At the same time, Glick has said the whole process was “shrouded in secrecy” up until recently. And she’s absolutely right. The plan was simply rolled out to the media as a virtual fait accompli. And this does certainly seem to be a pattern with the Trust and its current leadership and staff. Of course, two years ago, stealth legislation — and it can’t be called anything other than that — was passed at the end of the state legislative session to allow the park to sell its unused development rights across the highway. Virtually no one was aware of this legislation before it was suddenly rammed through. That was, of course, eventually followed by the “secret M.O.U,” the memorandum of understanding signed between Governor Cuomo, the Trust and Atlas Capital Group, under which Atlas conditionally committed

A design concept for Pier55, showing the pier viewed from the south. A small stage — one of three performance areas — is planned for the pier’s south side.

to buying $100 million worth of development rights from Pier 40, at West Houston St., for its planned mixed-use mega-project at the St. John’s Center site. After the M.O.U. came to light — as well as the fact that a ULURP was not planned — the outcry from local politicians resulted in a commitment from Cuomo that there will at least be a ULURP for this process. All that said...getting back to Pier55 — as the assemblymember noted, when major donors give this supersized sort of money for a project, they tend to control the design tightly, because they “don’t want to deal with the messy public process.” And, in a period when government funding for the park has declined sharply, the Trust says it needs this kind of big philanthropy. After all, 30 percent of the park still remains to be built. Then again, the sale of development rights will be a financial windfall for the park. Nevertheless, many neighbors and park activists will cry that there has been zero public review of this project so far — even as Pier55 was being cooked up clandestinely and designed for the past two years. Glick has also expressed concern about the idea of a nonprofit — “a private interest,” as she called it — controlling public space in Hudson River Park.

According to the Trust, Pier55 is solely a park pier, as opposed to a pier designated either fully or partially for commercial uses, and so a sevenmonth-long city-run ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) process isn’t required, as would be mandated for redevelopment plans for Pier 40, for example. State Senator Brad Hoylman, speaking at C.B. 2 last month, explained that a ULURP isn’t required because the Trust, as a government entity, is a “bizarre hybrid,” in that it’s a statecity authority. What is legally required, though, is a public hearing. The Villager received a presentation of the project last month from Madelyn Wils, the Trust’s president, and theater executive Kate Horton, a member of the team that would program the pier. The public is now getting its chance to hear and see the presentation at two public hearings. The first of these was at the Community Board 2 Parks Committee meeting on Wed., Dec. 3, at the Village Community School, at 272 W. 10th St. In advance of the meeting, David Gruber, the board’s outgoing chairperson, told The Villager that it’s not certain, at this point, if the C.B. 2 full board will vote later this month on a resolution recommending sup-

port or denial of the project. He said he would confer with incoming C.B. 2 Chairperson Tobi Bergman on how the board will proceed. For its part, the Trust is required, as part of a 60-day public review and comment period, to hold a public hearing on the project, since Pier55 is a “significant action” with regard to the park. This mandated hearing had previously been scheduled for Dec. 17, but has been pushed back to Mon., Jan. 12, from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the N.Y.U. Kimmel Center, Eisner and Lubin Auditorium, 60 Washington Square South, fourth floor. The public will have an opportunity to comment on the plan at this hearing. (Photo ID is required to enter the building.) The reason the meeting date was changed was reportedly because — due to the holiday schedule — it worked better for the community board. Despite all the answers provided in the environmental assessment, not all will find them satisfactory. As Glick put it, “This is an amazing gift but there are questions that still need to be answered.” The two hearings will provide that opportunity for an extremely unique and potentially exciting project that has, however, just dropped out of thin air, as it were — or more appropriately, popped right up out of the river. December 4, 2014


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