The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
December 10, 2015 • $1.00 Volume 85 • Number 28
Toledano tenants unite to fight eviction efforts in East Village buildings BY YANNIC RACK
enants in rent-regulated apartments in the East Village are fighting eviction by their new landlord, who is already a well-known figure in the neighborhood for allegedly harassing long-term renters into giving up their homes. As The Villager has pre-
viously reported, Raphael Toledano, who purchased more than a dozen properties in the area this year, hasn’t made the best of impressions on his new tenants, who have reported late-night phone calls and ominous visits by his associates that leave them feeling TOLEDANO continued on p. 4
After 50 years, famed fashionista Patricia Field closing Downtown store BY TINA BENITEZ-EVES
atricia Field is in a good place. Decked out in purple-sparkled arm warmers, shiny pink lace-up loafers and half-fatigued pants and crowned by flaming red hair, the 73-yearold designer — known for dressing Carrie Bradshaw and crew in “Sex and the
City” and the cast of “The Devil Wears Prada” as well as clothing rockers, actors, drag queens, writers, students, locals and everyone in between — will close her 4,000-squarefoot shop at 306 Bowery by this March or April. Field’s style is a punk rock orgy of shreds, leather, FIELD continued on p. 5
PHOTO BY MILO HESS
These kids were definitely feeling very bubbly in Union Square.
NYCHA will build on ‘hot’ East Side, chief assures BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
hen Mayor de Blasio appointed Shola Olatoye chairperson and C.E.O. of the New York Public Housing Authority in February 2014, he gave her two assignments: first, to “reset relationships with residents,” and, second, “to come up with a plan” to save North America’s largest public housing authority. With 607,000 residents, NYCHA’s population is larg-
er than Las Vegas, Atlanta or Miami. If it were a city, it would be the country’s 30th largest. One of every 14 New Yorkers lives in NYCHA housing. In an interview with the editorial staff of The Villager and NYC Community Media last Friday, Olatoye laid out some of the major features of that new 15-point plan, NextGeneration NYCHA, including, most notably, the authority’s intention to build new housing that is 50 percent affordable and 50
percent market rate on open land within existing NYCHA developments in “hot” neighborhoods. In September, the sites of the first two of these “50/50” so-called “infill” projects were announced — NYCHA’s Wyckoff Gardens in Boerum Hill / Gowanus, Brooklyn, and Holmes Towers on the Upper East Side, which would respectively see up to 650 and 400 new units built on their grounds NYCHA continued on p. 6
Grace Church’s ode to a Roman urn..............page 10 Luxury reaches new heights on L.E.S...........page 14 ‘Nutcracker’ is cracking good.......page 19
gobbles up dog poop, Waters proclaimed, “We did it for anarchy,” as the audience applauded. Someone in the crowd noted that the famous transgender actor / drag queen Holly Woodlawn (“Holly came from Miami, F-L-A…”) had just died, to which Waters said it was the first he had heard of it. “I loved Holly Woodlawn,” he said, adding, “I think one day Andy Warhol’s movies will be as recognized as his art.” As for Donald Trump, he said, “Good! I hope he wins [the Republican nomination], ’cause he’ll lose.”
SORRY, NO TRUMP BOOKS! More than once, Donald Trump has said, “I’m, like, a really smart person.” Yeah, right! Well, McNally Jackson bookstore, at 52 Prince St., for one, begs to differ, recently tweeting out: “A bummer to disappoint a customer, but it is also a relief that we don’t carry any books by low IQ person Donald Trump.”
PHOTO BY DANA (DISTORTION) YAVIN
John Waters sported this snazzy suit at his City Winery show.
HOLY NIGHT, DIRTY NIGHT: Filmmaking legend John Waters did not disappoint at his sold-out “A John Waters Christmas: Holier and Dirtier” show at City Winery Sunday evening. Not to give away his material, but in one of his nuggets, he said being transgender isn’t a big deal anymore — what he’d really like to see is someone have the courage to say they made a mistake, and then go back under the knife and transition to their original sex again. He also gave a shout-out to the former Hellfire sex club in the Meat Market. “Jerzy Kosinski would be there every night,” he recalled. “I see there’s a fancy restaurant there now — I don’t know if I’d want to eat there!” During a Q&A after his stand-up, he explained, “ ‘Pink Flamingos’ was a pothead comedy. I was on pot when I made that.” As for the infamous scene where Divine
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December 10, 2015
‘IT’S NOT SEXIST!’ Some anonymous posters on thevillager.com have accused John Quinn, the Lower East Side Democratic state committeeman, of being sexist for saying District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar was too dressed up when he took her to visit a homeless shelter. But Quinn disagrees. “It’s not sexist!” he retorted. “These are people that have never even seen clothes like that. So you want to work with them — don’t make them feel like crap!” For his part, Paul Newell, Rajkumar’s co-district leader, said he doesn’t take Quinn’s criticisms personally, such as when Quinn said Newell and Rajkumar needed more experience. “I took no offense at his comments, he’s a brusque guy,” Newell said. As for Quinn’s sartorial swipe at Rajkumar, he shrugged, “It was an irrelevant point. Look, she’s a well-dressed woman.” Rajkumar, however, asked if she felt Quinn’s comment was sexist, tersely said, “I don’t think that comment warrants a response.” Meanwhile, nearly everyone who posted comments on the Nov. 5 Scoopy’s item scolding Quinn for his remark is anonymous, with evenly distributed geographic handles like LESVoter, GatewayRes, Downtowner, BPC Voter, West Sider, RectorGal, Village Girl, Battery Voter and Villager. Hmm, a very neat cross section of the 65th Assembly District. … Makes you wonder! Is someone trying to “spin” the story with anonymous comments? Is this the new politics? GROWING BERNIE STAFF: Last time we checked, the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign was all-volunteer in New York State, which, no doubt, only added to his appeal for some voters. But now Arthur Schwartz, the Village male Democratic district leader, tells us that he has been retained as counsel for Sanders’s Empire State campaign. “He has a New York operation,” Schwartz said, “two people hired this week, besides me, and people already lined up to run for delegate in every congressional district in the state. As a lawyer, I am on staff, not a volunteer. As a delegate candidate, I am a volunteer. Bernie has almost as much money on hand as Hillary.” … Meanwhile, a decision in the court case over Schwartz’s removal of the landlord’s spy cams outside of the elderly Ruth Berk’s apartment at 95 Christopher St. is likely in late January, he said. Schwartz contends he was not stealing the inexpensive cameras, merely trying to stop the owner’s harassment of Berk, for whom Schwartz was acting as guardian. BULL’S-EYE! Following our recent article on Allan Reiver’s original Coney Island Mangels shooting gallery, we hear that Lisa Mangels-Schaefer, the great-granddaughter of William F. Mangels, was
planning to visit Reiver’s Elizabeth St. Gallery to check out the iconic amusement attraction.
ROSIE PICTURE: East Village District Leader Carlina Rivera has been working at Councilmember Rosie Mendez’s office since September as the director of legislative affairs. We hear this is to help groom Rivera for Mendez’s seat as the heir apparent in 2017. We had thought Anthony Feliciano, Rivera’s co-district leader, was being positioned for the seat, but now we’re hearing it’s more Rivera. Word is that Harvey Epstein, former Community Board 3 chairperson and now at the Urban Justice Center, also had announced to people that he would be running for City Council. But now we’re hearing Epstein might have changed gears. Epstein didn’t respond to a request for comment. GAS, AT LAST! Ayo Harrington tells us the gas should finally be going back on soon at 125 Second Ave., the tenement left standing directly north of the March 26 Second Ave. gas-explosion site. Harrington put on the pressure by calling up the building owner and saying that the city was going to come in and do the repairs, which finally got the landlord on the stick. It was basically a bluff, she admits — but apparently it worked! FOR THE RECORD: Court sketch artist Elizabeth Williams tells us that the courtroom in which the closing arguments were given in Sheldon Silver’s corruption case was the same one where the trials for Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, Martha Stewart and John Mitchell and Mitchell Stans were held.
The cover photo for Eden Brower, John Heneghan and R. Crumb’s new podcast album.
CRUMB’S COMPLAINT: East Village musician and blogger Eden Brower recently put the word out on her Slum Goddess blog that R. Crumb was furious about the recent profile of him by Jacques Hyzagi in the New York Observer, “Robert Crumb Hates You.” “Robert is VERY unhappy about what they published,” Brower told us. “He asked me to post his response to the article on my blog as he feels the need to set the record straight about all this.” Crumb writes, “I regret that I ever consented to give this interview, that I let the journalist, Jacques Hyzagi, come to my home and hang around for two days talking to me. I should’ve known better. I was warned about this paSCOOPY’S continued on p. 30 TheVillager.com
December 10, 2015
Toledano tenants unite to fight evictions Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association Editorials, First Place, 2014 News Story, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Best Column, First Place, 2012 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011 Spot News Coverage, First Place, 2010 Coverage of Environment, First Place, 2009
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December 10, 2015
TOLEDANO continued from p. 1
threatened. And now some are fighting to stay in their longtime apartments after the young real estate mogul — who goes by “Raffi” — served them with eviction notices. “It’s kind of endemic of what’s going on in the East Village right now,” said Craig Smith, who has lived with his family in a two-bedroom apartment at 233 E. Fift St. for the last 12 years. He said he refused to take a buyout offer from Toledano earlier this year, only to find his lease wasn’t renewed at the end of October. “And then the next thing I got was an eviction notice,” he said. Smith is one of a number of tenants on E. Fifth St. and elsewhere in the East Village who fear losing their homes after Toledano acquired their buildings — 16 in total — this September. “In the last month, Raffi has been refusing to renew leases and serving court papers to selected rent-regulated tenants, a few per building,” said Nina D’Alessandro, who has lived at the neighboring 231 E. Fifth St. since 1978. “In every case, the court papers seem to precede inquiries as to whether the tenant will take a buyout,” she said. “So one can assume that this is another pressure tactic designed to evacuate apartments.” But Jonathan Weinstein, a spokesperson for Toledano, told The Villager that the new landlord’s intentions were good. Regarding Smith’s case, which has now moved to housing court, Weinstein said the apartment has been deregulated ever since it was vacated by the previous owner in 2003, a claim that Smith and his lawyer dispute. “The current lease expired on its own terms on Oct. 31 and under the law there is absolutely no obligation to renew the lease,” Weinstein said. “When the current tenant signed his lease in 2003, the apartment was a free-market apartment. To imply otherwise is just not accurate.” In July, D’Alessandro started the “Toledano Tenants Coalition,” a selfhelp group for Raffi’s tenants. The coalition now meets every month and includes residents from around 20 of Toledano’s buildings in the East Village and Chelsea. “Our work is essentially just trying to keep people from taking crappy buyout offers and knowing their rights,” said Ben Lebovitz, who successfully fought his own eviction from another Toledano-owned property, 97 Second Ave. “Being a tenant who has to defend your lease in court is very stressful and expensive,” Lebovitz said. “Espe-
PHOTO BY MONTY STILSON
Craig Smith and his family, in their E. 5th St. home, from left, Tesfahun SmithStone, Elise Stone, Craig Smith, Sandy Stone, Hakima SmithStone and Kerem SmithStone.
cially when you’re going up against a landlord who has a hundred-million-dollar real estate portfolio.” In addition to their own efforts, the tenants have also received help from Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), a housing and preservation organization, and the Urban Justice Center, which is representing some of the buildings’ tenants in court. Lebovitz said last year that five of the 10 rent-regulated tenants in his building were served with notices to cure violations or vacate their apartments after Toledano acquired them. Lebovitz’s own case was eventually settled. His lawyer, David Frazer, currently represents three Toledano tenants, all in rent-regulated apartments in the East Village. “Two of the cases that I currently represent involve completely madeup allegations by the landlord, one of which they’ve already caved in on and given my client a renewal lease,” Frazer told The Villager. The attorney said that case involved a tenant who had a pseud-
onym listed on his mailbox from the beginning of his tenancy, which the landlord used as evidence to claim that the man was illegally subletting the apartment. “He’s just throwing spaghetti against the wall [to see what sticks],” Frazer said of Toledano. D’Alessandro hasn’t faced a direct threat yet herself, since her current lease runs through next September. But she said she’s just thinking ahead. “We’re all in this together, and we’re really gonna need each other,” she said, adding that the coalition was preparing to fight more evictions in the months to come. As for Smith, he said his next court date is scheduled for mid-January. “Of course I’m worried. We’ve lived on this block for over 30 years,” he said. Two of his children still go to school in the East Village and his theater company is also located in the neighborhood. “Our plan is to stay here, because our life is here,” he said. TheVillager.com
Famed fashionista Field is closing Bowery store FIELD continued from p. 1
pleather, feathers and frills. But she is not being pushed out by extreme rent hikes. She’s closing shop because it’s time. After years of ignoring offers to sell the building, which she owns, she finally yielded to pursue other projects in designing, branding, TV and film — including work on a script for Erica Jong’s 1973 novel “Fear of Flying” — selling her property to Thor Equities, which purchased the property for an undisclosed amount. “It’s been 50 years, and here I am,” said Field. “I did it. I’m proud of it, and fortunately, I bought a good piece of real estate in the year 2000. Things have changed, but I’m still standing.” In 1966, Field opened her first shop, on Washington Square East near her alma mater, New York University. A New York City native, Field started out with very little money but knew the shopping patterns around the university. Just five years later, she was able to expand to a larger space at 10 E. Eighth St. After more than 30 years at that location, she moved her business to the Bowery, first to No. 302, then expanding into No. 306, between Bleecker and Houston Sts. She has won one Emmy Award for her work for “Sex and the City” and been nominated for four more. Making fashion more accessible was always Field’s M.O. “This place is my philosophy, that fashion should be accessible, positive and fun,” she said, during an interview in the shop earlier this week. “I like to entertain my customers. I consider my shop a fashion bazaar. It’s not a designer boutique. It’s not a collection boutique. When you walk in there’s always going to be some surprise.” Field made it O.K. to crave fashion at any price, whether it was something tripped out by Tripp, dazzling Dior or something for $10. “I always felt that my eye has to see it and like it, and I have to feel like
PHOTO BY TINA BENITEZ-EVES
Patricia Field in her downstairs office in her Bowery store this week. She goes to the store every day.
it’s worth the money,” she said of her store’s mix of new, funky and vintage garb. “So I created this bazaar based on what I love. Fashion is a fun, creative medium, and that’s how I always looked at it, personally. I’m glad I could make a career out of it, and sometime during the development, establish a brand out of it.” Blondie’s Debbie Harry, a longtime fan and friend of Field’s, will miss having around the fashion refuge, which was often likened to Trash & Vaudeville and other specialty clothing shops long gone. “Her story, style and shop will be a huge loss to New York City, and sadly missed by many people,” Harry told The Villager. For her part, what Field will miss most is the customers. “I will miss most people coming in telling me how much they love being in the store, that it’s so unique and it’s so much fun and they come in here
to get happy,” said Field, who hopes to throw a big party before her store closes for good. “That’s a wonderful thing for me to hear. “I’ll continue my outside projects
that don’t require me 24/7. And when it’s over, it’s done — there’s a beginning and an end,” she said. “It’s not like that in retail. After 50 years, I feel like it’s time.”
Jacob a. Riis revealing new york’s other half
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Friday December 18th at 8:00PM Saturday December 19th at 2:00PM
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mcny.org 1220 FiFth ave at 103rd st
December 10, 2015
NYCHA will try infill again on East Side: Chief NYCHA continued from p. 1
under the plan. Currently, those are the only two projects in the pipeline for this program. However, when asked by The Villager if the authority — as it had done under Bloomberg — would set its sights once again on the open spaces in East Village and Lower East Side public housing developments for these mixed-income projects, Olatoye said, yes, definitely. “We’re doing it in areas where there are strong real estate markets,” she explained. It might not be tomorrow, but NYCHA will certainly be looking to build within the East Village and Lower East Side housing developments, she said. “Oh, they will be — eventually,” she said. “This is a 10-year program. We’ve started with two [projects]. There will be others. Look, there’s no secret — there’s only a hot market in certain neighborhoods, right? We undoubtedly will get to some of these hot properties. It’s a dynamic process, and we’ll be adding more sites going on. We have real financial challenges, and our land is one of our only resources.” PHOTO BY JONATHAN ALPEYRIE
Community engagement But “a big difference” between this administration and the prior one, she noted, is that “a very extensive community-engagement process” is being done with the residents affected by the infill projects. For example, she said, NYCHA has impressed upon Wyckoff Gardens residents that that complex has a $40 million need for critical capital repairs, including for roofing and new pipes. Money from the developers’ lease will fund the complex’s repairs. Over all, the authority has nearly $17 billion in unmet capital needs for its aging buildings. Meanwhile, under NextGeneration NYCHA, the agency will generate modest annual operating surpluses totaling more than $230 million over 10 years, instead of piling up a $2.5 billion deficit over the same period were no action taken. Due to a 30 percent decrease in federal capital funding since 2001, the agency has lost $1.16 billion. Former Mayor Bloomberg announced a scheme in 2013 that, similarly, would have seen new infill housing built within a greater number of NYCHA projects, but which was far more skewed toward the affluent: 80 percent of the units would have been market rate and only 20 percent affordable. The idea crumpled under criticism from public housing residents, who both objected to it on principle and protested that they hadn’t been included in the planning process. Local East Side housing developments included in Bloomberg’s 80/20 infill plan were Smith Houses, Meltzer Tower, Campos Plaza, LaGuardia Houses and Baruch Houses. Under the new NYCHA plan, the affordable housing in the new 50/50 towers will be dedicated to families earning no more than 60 percent of area median income — about $46,600 for a family of three in 2015. As under the previous, scrapped Bloomberg plan, the city-owned land for the new towers would be leased long term to the developers, since NYCHA cannot sell its land, Olatoye noted.
December 10, 2015
The Smith Houses on the Lower East Side had been earmarked for infill towers under Mayor Bloomberg, and possibly could be again under Mayor de Blasio. Above, a resident relaxed on a bench on the complex’s airy, light-filled grounds.
million to $600 million [in revenue for NYCHA].” Many of the authority’s developments were constructed in the mid-20th-century “towers in the park” style, which leaves open space to build on, Olatoye noted.
‘Density is the way’
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
Shola Olatoye, the chairperson of NYCHA, speaking with NYC Community Media’s editorial staff last week.
‘Massive development’ The agency’s construction efforts are part of Mayor de Blasio’s goal to create 200,000 units of affordable housing within 10 years. Of that number, NYCHA projects creating 10,000 units over that span. “This is going to be a massive amount of development,” Olatoye said. “In totality, the development program as a whole [would generate] $300
However, asked by The Villager if the agency will be trying to squeeze too much onto its developments’ grounds, the chairperson disagreed. “I would say we’re not,” she said. “That was a different time and place. It was a luxury that we had, to have that kind of space. We’re looking at just seas of red, in terms of how this place is operating. I think it would be irresponsible for us not to take advantage of the tools at our disposal. Obviously, you have to do it within the context of what’s the impact on the surrounding community, schools, quality of life? “I also say that, this is New York City, we’re a dense place, right?” Olatoye continued. “This administration has said density is the way that we’re going to address this incredible pent-up housing demand. There’s no question that this is not easy. And I think the challenge for us is, a New York City without public housing is not something that any of us want.” It will be about two-and-a-half years from now, before shovels are in the ground on the two current 50/50 projects, she noted. As for public housing residents’ feedback on the new infill plan, she said, “You know, the response... this is New York — it’s been dynamic. Some people are, like, of course you have to do this. Some people are not happy with it. It’s always easier to stand on the sidelines and scream. And it’s harder to come up with solutions. In the meantime, these NYCHA continued on p. 30 TheVillager.com
POLICE BLOTTER Meatpacking shooting A man was shot in the Meatpacking District on Tuesday morning during a dispute over a car accident, according to police. The incident happened on Gansevoort St., around 4 a.m., after three men had left a nightclub. The trio tried to pull their BMW out of their parking spot, but a gray van backed into them, trying to park — then backed into them again. A heated argument ensued and the van’s driver reportedly suddenly pulled out a gun and started firing, shooting a 27-year-old man in the car in the right shoulder and right hip, then got back into the van and drove off. The victim and his friends drove up to W. 14th and Washington Sts. before calling 911 for help, according to news reports. The wounded man was taken to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition and is expected to survive. The suspect remains at large.
Physical putdown A disgruntled former employ-
ee, 48, took it to an older man, 66, outside a work function on Thurs., Nov. 19. Police said that the younger man was in front of 421 W. 13th St. when he shoved the senior to the ground at about 10 p.m. The push resulted in scratches and scrapes, though the victim refused medical attention. Four days later, the victim reported the incident to police, adding that the impact caused some bleeding from his elbow. Police arrested Gregory Mattson on Dec. 3 and charged him with felony assault because he is more than 10 years younger than the older man.
From 1 arrest to 3 Police said they spotted a butterfly knife in public view at the southwest corner of Minetta Lane and Macdougal St. on Sat., Dec. 5, about 3 a.m. As they were arresting Derek Johnnie, 30, for the knife, two of his friends tried to intervene, according to a police report. Paulette Soltani, 27, jumped on the back of a police officer as Johnie was being collared. And Bruno
Martins, 29, leaped in front of a police car and tried to use his bicycle to block it. Soltani and Martins were both arrested and charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, with Martins getting an extra charge for obstructing government administration, a misdemeanor.
Not very sporting A man, 28, allegedly shoved a computer monitor into the face of woman, 35, at the New York Sports Club, at 232 Mercer St., for unknown reasons on Wed., Dec. 2. The attack occurred inside the gym’s lobby around 3 p.m., according to a police report. Damage caught on video footage included a laceration and swelling to the victim’s face and a broken computer monitor. Police said the victim refused medical attention. Kamara Black — who did not know the victim — was arrested and charged with felony assault.
Zach Williams and Lincoln Anderson
Big art at Mini Storage
till looking to discover that special holiday gift for the loved ones on your list? You can browse the paintings, photography, handmade decorations and more of 20 local artists at Manhattan Mini Storage, at 260 Spring St., on Sat., Dec. 19, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event will feature Monica Shane, Elizabeth Engelhardt, Beth Kanell, Ketih Major, Eugene Ortiz, Sarah Langsam, Steve Gould, Patricia Ayres, Cecilia Monteverde, Sharon Smith, Thelma Blitz and Rochelle Gore. The idea came from Michelle Langsam, director of marketing for Edison Properties, who was inspired by her daughter, who is an artist. “She’s always interested in trying to sell some commercial items at street fairs but can never afford the rental fee for the booth,” Langsam said. “We believe we have many artists storing in our 260 Spring St. location. Thinking that many of them are likely in a similar situation, we got the idea to offer them a venue to try to sell holiday gift items, free of charge.” If the event is a success, she said, they hope to make it an annual event.
2015 SoHoliday Art Market! Our local customers are showcasing their original works of art - many for sale, just in time for the holidays! • Paintings • Photography • Hand-Painted Decorations • And more!
11am – 3pm
260 Spring Street
(Get ready to win the “Best Gift EVER Award”)
December 10, 2015
Indian Point shutdown raises new safety concerns BY PAUL DERIENZO
nother troubling mishap at the Indian Point nuclear power plant last Saturday prompted a shutdown, or “trip,” of one of the two reactor units and the dispatch of inspectors from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Office made the announcement that the reactor was “forced to shut down,” but New Orleans-based Entergy, which owns the plant, said there was no release of radiation or chemicals from the incident. The company said magnets holding control rods failed when power was lost, allowing the rods to sink into the reactor vessel, as designed, which shut down the nuclear reaction. Control rods are a feature of nuclear reactors that allow the nuclear reaction to be adjusted or shut down. Coincidentally, N.R.C. Chairperson Stephen Burns was visiting the plant and the agency reported on Monday that the power loss was caused by a short-circuit in a roof fan. Cuomo, who has called for closure of the 40-year-old plant, said that he had “directed the Department of Public Service to investi-
gate and monitor the situation.” The second of the two operating units at Indian Point was not affected and remains on line. Burns was met by a demonstration on Monday at a hotel in Tarrytown, N.Y., where he was holding meetings. The protesters are opposed to construction of a natural gas pipeline that will pass near the nuclear plant. The pipeline has been approved and construction will begin in March. Protesters say they fear a potential gas explosion might threaten the nuclear plant. This is the second incident at Indian Point this year. In May, an electrical transformer exploded, releasing 3,000 gallons of oil into the Hudson River. The catastrophic failure ignited the oil, and black smoke billowing from the fire was visible for miles. A report by the N.R.C. released earlier this month said that the transformer fire itself was never a threat, but the subsequent flooding of an electrical switching room may have caused a loss of power to the reactor. A little known fact of nuclear reactors is that they must always be connected to a power source independent of the reactor itself. The outside power allows the reactor to be controlled even if it has
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December 10, 2015
to be shut down. Although Indian Point was never in danger of a meltdown, a loss of outside power has been implicated in some of the worst nuclear disasters, such as at Fukushima, where a tsunami flooded the electrical system, and Chernobyl, where outside electricity was purposely cut off as part of an experiment that quickly raged out of control. A meltdown happens when a reactor core becomes so hot from a loss of cooling water that the fuel elements melt into a radioactive blob. A partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in 1979 sparked the anti-nuclear movement and made it
numerous reactors but are often considered low priority by the N.R.C. In 1994, Entergy admitted that potential flooding caused by water pipes breaking in an earthquake was a significant possible problem at Indian Point. The N.R.C. didn’t require plant operators to make changes and nothing was done by Entergy to address its own findings. The four-decade-old reactors at Indian Point are under review for relicensing by the N.R.C. Entergy is requesting a 20-year license extension. There are currently 99 operating commercial nuclear power reactors in America. About 30 percent of New York State’s electricity is generated by nuclear plants. Governor Cuomo has come out in support of closing down Indian Point because he says it’s too close to the city. Entergy recently announced it was closing its money-losing Fitzpatrick nuclear generating station in Upstate Oswego. However, Cuomo wants to keep that plant operating, which has sparked a bitter dispute, since Indian Point is a profitable enterprise. Throughout the country, most of the aging fleet of nuclear reactors have quietly had their licenses extended, some for up to 80 years, longer than an average human lifespan. The biggest problem with these reactors has been disposal of their waste. Federal law requires commercial plants to keep spent fuel stored on-site in pools of water or specially designed dry casks. Approval for use of an underground dump already built near Las Vegas has been blocked in Congress, and currently several private dumps have been vying for the right to temporarily store highly radioactive commercial waste until a permanent repository gets the O.K. Although nuclear reactors are touted as “carbon free” and therefore not contributing to global warming, that doesn’t take into account the fact that mining and processing of uranium, construction of plants and waste disposal actually produce large amounts of carbon, as well as the dangers of radiation releases or accidents. The original 40-year license for Indian Point Unit 2 expired in September 2013 and the license for Unit 3 is set to expire Sun., Dec. 13. Entergy is allowed to keep operating the reactors until N.R.C. decides on the renewal application.
Power loss was implicated in the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters.
much more difficult to build nuclear reactors in the U.S. According to the N.R.C. report on the May incident, when sensors detected a rise in temperature caused by the fire, large “deluge valves” were triggered, flooding the area with water to put out the fire. The water began to rise, flowing under a door and flooding the “switchgear” room, where it pooled on the floor. Sensors designed to shut off the valves, as well as a drain in the room and storm drains outside the building, were discovered to be partially obstructed by debris. The rising water threatened the electrical equipment involved with transmitting power from off-site to the nuclear plant. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, if the water had risen a few more inches, it could have caused a “blackout condition” at the plant. Problems with drains at Indian Point should have not taken its operators by surprise, as happened last weekend, says the U.C.S. A report by the N.R.C. in 2012 had issued a “green” alert, meaning that there is a problem, but not especially serious, with a blocked drain. According to the U.C.S., the drain was subsequently tested but in a non-rigorous manner that failed to isolate the problem, which was discovered after the transformer fi re. The U.C.S. said that flooding problems have been a problem at
Out of the zone! Boards blast Blaz building plans BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC
he mayor’s sweeping plans to relax zoning rules recently faced another gust of blowback, with a smackdown by the Manhattan Borough Board. The board — made up of the borough’s 12 community board chairpersons, City Council delegation and the borough president — passed two resolutions of “conditional disapproval” of the zoning proposals at a special meeting on Nov. 30. The resolutions essentially rejected the mayor’s two proposals, recommending that the Council vote them down unless significant changes are made. The first proposal, called “Zoning for Quality and Affordability,” aims to promote below-market-rate housing for seniors and mixed-income housing in exchange for reducing parking requirements near public transit, and easing building rules to allow elements such as courtyards and bay windows. It would also allow buildings to be 5 feet taller or more to encourage ground-floor retail, which requires high ceilings. Downtowners who fought for height restrictions in their neighborhoods, such as the East Vil-
lage and Lower East Side, are particularly concerned about allowing additional height. The second proposal, “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing” would apply to future large residential developments that need zoning variances, and would require that 25 to 30 percent of the units be kept permanently below market rate. But it would not apply to Manhattan below 96th St. on the East Side and 110th St. on the West Side. The borough board’s resolutions were based on the many concerns Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and other officials had spelled out in a Nov. 17 letter. They asked for changes to increase oversight, guard against abuses and preserve particular restrictions involving narrow streets and midblock building heights. The resolution on the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing proposal also demanded the removal of a loophole allowing developers to sidestep participation if the Board of Standard and Appeals deems it a “hardship.” The borough board approved the resolutions 12 to 0 with 4 abstentions. All the community board chairpersons present voted for the resolutions while almost all councilmembers
The city’s presentation on “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” says this relatively new building in Brooklyn, at Fourth Ave. and Baltic St. — which it calls an example of “flat, dull buildings in medium- and high-density contextual districts” — is an example of why zoning needs to change.
present abstained — except for Rosie Mendez of the East Village, who voted with the community board leaders. Borough President Brewer will issue her office’s formal recommendation on the zoning proposals by Dec. 11, and the City Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing on the proposals on Wed., Dec. 16. As in Manhattan, nearly all community boards across the city have opposed the proposals, and every borough board that has voted on them
so far has likewise passed resolutions recommending rejection unless there is a litany of changes to the proposals. But most councilmembers have remained mysteriously mum, refusing to take any position publically, and either abstaining in borough board votes, or skipping them altogether. Like it or not, councilmembers will eventually have to make their views known when the zoning amendments go before the Council for a vote early next year.
Renewing Struggling Schools by Michael Mulgrew President, United Federation of Teachers
Cities and school districts across the country have tried a range of strategies to deal with the problems of poor children and struggling schools. Under former Mayor Bloomberg, New York City relied on a “shutdown” strategy, eventually closing 150 schools, including some that the Bloomberg administration itself had created. While Bloomberg’s cheerleaders lauded his approach, the fact is that many of our schools – both older ones and those started during Bloomberg’s tenure – continue to struggle. In contrast, the de Blasio administration has listened to teachers and members of school communities.We know that it is difficult, but struggling schools can succeed – if provided the proper support and resources, and a team approach that brings all a school’s stakeholders together.
The city’s new Renewal program, created with input from stakeholders, is designed to focus on some of the neediest schools in the system. Early returns show that many of these schools have stabilized and in some cases are started on the road to improvement.
coaches, social workers and other professionals, along with professional development for the staff on the skills necessary to work with children facing these challenges. While in 2013-14 nearly one-third failed to meet targets for student achievement, the 2014-2015 School Quality Report shows that now 87 percent of the renewal schools are moving in the right direction, measured by better attendance, more family involvement and other criteria. As a group, they showed gains in both reading and math on state tests.
Students in these schools start out with deficits. Nearly 20 percent are English Language Learners and almost a quarter are classified as special education. Thousands live in shelters or are doubled up with relatives. Many are hungry, lack winter clothes, or have medical needs, including glasses and hearing aids. Many have parents who are Many of these schools have a long way to go. unemployed or who work long hours at minimumTurning them around is difficult, particularly in wage jobs. the face of years of cutbacks and systemic indifTeachers at these schools see these problems ference. These schools will require a multi-year not as excuses, but as issues that need to be strategic intervention built on sound education addressed to ensure that all kids have an equal practice, including custom-tailored supports for opportunity to learn. each school’s particular needs. With its Renewal program, New York City is taking on tough work Renewal schools are being paired with non-profit that no one in the country has attempted before agencies to deliver services like health care and on this scale. counseling to students and their families. What’s more, the nearly $400 million the administration is investing in these schools over the next three United Federation of Teachers years includes funds for hiring teachers, academic A Union of Professionals
December 10, 2015
Grace dolium gets a well-‘urned’ restoration BY ALBERT AMATEAU
ou may not have noticed that the giant urn that has graced the Rector’s Garden at the landmarked Grace Church for the past 130 years has been gone since last May. Noticed or not, the 5-foot-tall urn, dating as far back as 2,000 years to the Roman Empire, returned on Thurs., Dec. 3, to the Grace Church yard on Broadway at 11th St. For the past few weeks, a 10-foot white weatherproof tent has been occupying the space where the urn was reassembled last week. The Reverend Donald Waring, rector of Grace Church, took the occasion to speak with The Villager about the urn that has long decorated the front yard of the 1846 church designed by James Renwick. “Last Easter we noticed that a huge chunk had broken off the urn,” Waring said. “It had sort of an iconic status in the neighborhood; the downtown side of the subway station even has an image in tile of the urn, so we thought we should have it restored.” Center Art Studio, a 96-year old restoration firm, was called and discovered that the terra-cotta urn was in really bad condition after more than a century of exposure to the freezeand-thaw cycles of New York winters. So the firm took it to their W. 38th St. studio. “Aside from Cleopatra’s Needle in Central Park, this urn — “dolium” in Latin — is the largest piece of ancient outdoor art in the city,” said Lansing Moore, owner of Center Art. “The place in Rome where it was found in the 1880s was the site of Nero’s palace. “It was in much worse condition than we expected,” Moore said. “We contracted Auer’s Rigging, the oldest riggers in the city — they move and store art for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other institutions. But the urn was spalling — layers of terra-cotta were flaking off the outside — and it broke up. We took it to the studio in about 90 pieces,” Moore recalled. Grace Church had expected a neighborhood outcry when the urn, more than 5 feet tall, 4 feet around at its widest, and sitting on an 18-inch marble base with a 19th-century Italian bronze ring, was gone in the beginning of May. “We thought we’d get anxious questions because it was such a neighborhood curiosity,” Waring said. “It didn’t have a lid, and people used to toss pennies into it, and sometimes teens would climb into it. But no one asked us anything; we didn’t hear a peep.” At the Center Art Studio, the urn, whose walls are about 3 inches thick, was painstakingly reassembled into
December 10, 2015
PHOTOS COURTESY CENTER ART, LTD.
Conservators Lansing Moore (holding a bottle of Hextal epoxy) and Melissa Barton, right, and a team of riggers reassembling the renovated Roman urn in the Grace Church yard last Thursday. The plan was to let the epoxy holding the urn’s pieces together “cure” for a few days, before removing the protective white tent over the urn.
seven large pieces. Melissa Barton, a restorer at Central Art, began researching terra-cotta restoration and found Roma Bio, of Atlanta, Georgia, a company that developed a modern epoxy resin based on the ancient pozzolana cement perfected by the Romans. “We sent them a sample of the terra-cotta and they matched the color,” said Barton, adding “It has an important added benefit; it’s freeze-andthaw resistant.” So how did a Roman urn wind up at Grace Church? In the 1880s, Grace Church helped fund the building of a new rectory for an American Episcopal Church in Rome, St. Paul’s Within the Walls. The excavation for the new building
uncovered 12 huge terra-cotta urns buried in the basement of what was apparently a Roman public eating place, according to Waring. The then-rector of Grace Church, William Reed Huntington, was in Rome at the time and took a liking to the urns. “He suggested to the rector of St. Paul’s Within the Walls that in consideration of Grace Church’s monetary gift for the new rectory, St. Paul’s should give one of the urns to Grace Church,” Waring said. The rector of St. Paul’s agreed. “Then, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, an art collector and prominent benefactor of Grace Church — her portrait is on a wall of the Grace Church rectory — said ‘I’ll have one, too.’ Her urn
is in her Newport, Rhode Island, mansion. It’s now a school, and the urn is in great condition, never having been exposed to the weather,” Waring said. Wolfe was one of the 106 founders of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the only woman. “The urns would have been buried up to their necks in the basement of the original refectory,” Waring said. “They probably held wheat, rice or other grains. In the subsequent centuries, the original Roman building was demolished and the urns were buried and forgotten, until the excavation for the new St. Paul’s Within the Walls rectory brought them to light again.” Last Thursday, it took four hours for a crew from Auer’s Rigging to get the seven pieces of the reassembled urn in their final position. “We couldn’t have done it without Auer’s and Roma Bio in Atlanta,” said Moore, who also acknowledged the help of Pete Hogden, in charge of buildings and grounds at Grace Church. The complex and expensive project was being completed under the heated tent this week. Once the urn’s epoxy has “cured,” the tent will be removed. The restoration of the dolium cost more than the $25,000 bill that Center Art submitted to the church. “We love antiquities, and we do things like this for nonprofit institutions at a discount,” Moore said. “We’ll gladly accept donations from a benefactor whose name could be put on the marble base of the urn,” said Waring. TheVillager.com
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December 10, 2015
PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Colored by holiday spirit A whole lotta latkes goin’ on! The Jefferson Market Garden got into a festive spirit with a holiday tree lighting on the afternoon of Sat., Dec. 5. In addition to the tree lights and a dog that was painted red and green, there was entertainment — both Christmas and Chanukah songs — and fun for kids, including decorating cookies. Hot cider and muffins were provided by Citarella, across the street from the garden, at Sixth and Greenwich Aves.
December 10, 2015
PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY
On Sunday, the first night of Chanukah, latkes were fried up in a pan on Thompson St. in Soho — as they were in countless other kitchens around town — and were then enjoyed with sour cream, applesauce and even some salmon eggs on top. The first candle of the eight-day holiday was lit, and the dreidels were broken out for the kids, and maybe some adults, too.
Rajkumar backed by women’s group; Convention idea floated BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
s the political maneuvering continues in the effort to select a Democratic candidate to run for Sheldon Silver’s former Assembly seat in an upcoming special election, a group of prominent women this week launched a Women for Jenifer committee to support District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar’s potential candidacy for the seat. A week earlier, State Democratic Committeeman John Quinn, a leading member of the Lower East Side Democratic Club, told The Villager he is pushing the novel idea of a “community convention” at which all potential candidates could be vetted and have their say. Meanwhile, Sean Sweeney, a leader of the Downtown Independent Democrats club, of which Rajkumar is a member, said word has it that Chinatown political organizations are planning to champion a Chinese-American candidate for the open 65th Assembly District seat. A national coalition of women leaders, Women for Jenifer includes Ninfa Segarra, a former New York City deputy mayor who lives in Lower Manhattan; Michigan Congressmember Kristy Pagan; Siobhan “Sam” Bennett, former president and C.E.O. of the Women’s Campaign Fund and She Should Run; Demie Kurz, a professor and co-director of women’s studies at the University of Pennsylvania, who was once Rajkumar’s professor; Jodi L. Ochstein of Hillary for America; and Monica F. Guerra, co-founder of WIN.NYC. If elected, Rajkumar would be the first South Asian member of the state Legislature. “From Alice Paul to Indira Gandhi to Eleanor Roosevelt to Golda Meir to Malala Yousafzai to Hillary Clinton to Jenifer Rajkumar, the message stays the same: Empowerment, equality and perseverance,” said Ochstein. “Throughout history, women like Jenifer have undauntingly shown leadership by sticking to their principles, doing what’s best for their entire community, and never backing down from a fight. Jenifer is a daughter of immigrants and has intimate knowledge and a deep appreciation for the unique challenges and opportunities women of diverse backgrounds encounter every day.” Rajkumar’s co-district leader, Paul Newell, has also expressed interest in the open seat. Meanwhile, Quinn said, “I’m looking to have a convention — for leaders in the community who actually do things in the community. TheVillager.com
Jenifer and Paul actually agree with this,” he said, adding that Sweeney does, too. “We don’t want a smoke-filled room,” Quinn stressed of the process by which the Democratic County Committee will pick the sole Democratic candidate to run in April in the special election. “We want this to be totally aboveboard. There would be speeches. There would be a format that would be set up.” However, Sweeney didn’t sound too high on the convention idea. “I am unsure what it will accomplish,” he said, adding, “There is now a Chinatown candidate — some unknown person — being pushed by lobbyist Chung Seto and Councilmember Margaret Chin. So, I don’t see what a convention would accomplish.” Sweeney said he asked Quinn if the convention would replace the county committee process, and Quinn said no, it would be separate, and the 190 committee members would indeed pick the nominee. “It seems a good idea, but all I foresee is a lot of posturing,” Sweeney said. “Whoever comes out of the County Committee meeting — likely in January — will surely win the special election in April. But as sure as night follows day, that person will have at least one challenger in September. Of that I am certain.” Sweeney conceded that, as Quinn has said, most of the votes will come from the East Side part of the district. D.I.D., on the other hand, largely covers other parts of the Lower Manhattan district — Battery Park City, the Financial District and the West Side — though does also cover “Hell Square” and some other East Side spots. Other clubs involved in picking the Democratic nominee will be Chinatown’s United Democratic Organization and former Speaker Silver’s Truman Club, based along Grand St. D.I.D. and L.E.S.D.C. each have about 30 percent of the 65th A.D.’s election districts, while Truman and U.D.O. split the remaining 40 percent about equally. Asked if she backed Quinn’s convention idea, Rajkumar said, “Great. I will participate in any forum that is thrown. My guess is that it will be challenging to get candidates — all of whom are unannounced — to participate in it at this early stage, and with the holiday season. “Perhaps you should wait on this until Governor Cuomo officially calls the special election, and until the date of the County Committee vote is set. A forum could then be sometime in January.” Newell did not respond to a request for comment.
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‘Vertical village’ to loom luxuriously over all BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
t 80 stories, the new One Manhattan Square tower, being built by Extell just north of the Manhattan Bridge, will soar to a height never seen before on the Lower East Side. And a brochure for the new project — targeting overseas buyers — advertises a level of luxury the neighborhood has never seen before, either. “A vertical village on the Lower East Side,” the brochure states. “On the edge of the East River, with epic views of one of the world’s greatest cities, is One Manhattan Square. A modern tower at the center of New York’s most historic neighborhood; a place buzzing with energy, culture and style. … “This new landmark will redefine city living. A vertical village surrounded by lush private gardens and every amenity imaginable. “One Manhattan Square promises the most dramatic...panoramas imaginable, from one of Downtown’s highest perches. “Meticulously designed homes...lightfilled spaces with postcard perfect views,” the hype continues. “A modern garden square, offering an unprecedented 100,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor amenities, fosters physical wellness, social recreation and tranquility.” The residences reportedly are going for from $1 million to $3 million, and the brochure notes they have been designed to “rival five-star resorts.” The project will feature a one-acre “private village green,” with gardens, a tree house, “social fire pits” as well as “romantic fire pits,” a tea pavilion, a sumac meander and a covered dog run. There will also be an outdoor barbecue area with views of the Manhattan Bridge and river, a culinary lounge, a bar (to be called the Cellar Bar), a performance space and screening room, a children’s playroom, a billiard hall and two-lane bowling alley, studios for yoga, spin classes and dance, golf simulators, a full-court basketball court and a 75-foot swimming pool. Why ever even leave the building? Well, just in case the residents might want to, the brochure also touts the neighborhoods that the massive One Manhattan Square will tower over: “With the charms of Chinatown and Little Italy on its doorstep, the gravitas of the Financial District and the culture and cool of Tribeca around the corner, this alluring address is a short walk from the bars, bistros and boutiques of Orchard Street, Nolita, Soho and the East Village.” Critics of the project are outraged that the building is being heavily marketed to overseas buyers, who reportedly are being given the first dibs on apartments. Indeed, many of the figures shown in the brochure’s renderings are clearly Asian — seen enjoying the exercise facilities, a “romantic fire pit” and the screening room, for example — and if they can afford to buy in One Manhattan Square, it’s a good chance they are not living in Chinatown.
December 10, 2015
The mirror-glass-clad One Manhattan Square, next to the Manhattan Bridge, will be one of the tallest buildings in all Downtown Manhattan.
The new Lower East Side? Gucci, stilettos, youth, looks, killer apartment views and the de rigueur cute puppy.
Why even go out to the movies? Residents at One Manhattan Square will be able to enjoy films in the building’s screening room, complete with popcorn-serving ushers. TheVillager.com
Hundreds call for Chinatown rezoning at town hall BY VILLAGER STAFF
town hall meeting on Saturday drew an outpouring of several hundred concerned residents to Seward Park High School to demand zoning changes to protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side from overdevelopment and displacement. “It was a huge turnout,” said Diem Boyd, founder of the LES Dwellers. “The community is energized — in large part because Sheldon Silver was found guilty, giving people renewed hope that things can change for the better down here.” The event was organized by the Coalition to protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side, and included workers’ organizations, public housing tenants and many activist groups. The organizers made a point of inviting Mayor de Blasio to attend, so they could ask him why his administration has rejected a community-led rezoning of the area by the Chinatown Working Group. But the mayor didn’t show, only sending a representative. The liaison indicated to the crowd that perhaps a compromise could be achieved, but that wasn’t
“Since 2008’s when the East Village rezoning plan was approved, which gave protection from displacement to the majority-white, wealthier community just north of us,” she said, “we’ve seen so much more luxury development in the L.E.S. and Chinatown — because we were excluded from protection! We want equal protection. Is that asking for too much?” Added Norma Ramirez of Action by the Lower District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar helped rally the East Side, “Twice our comcrowd at Saturday’s town hall meeting against munity marched to City displacement. Hall. We have repeatedly reached out to de what they wanted to hear. Blasio, urging him to adopt our com“You say compromise. By com- munity-led rezoning plan. His abpromise you mean you want to sence here today is a slap in the face. push out all the Chinese, all the Instead of representing the working Latinos, all the African Americans, people who put him in office, he has all the poor!” shouted one audience shown that he, like Sheldon Silver, member. represents the developers who want Local resident Jacqueline Herran to destroy our community.” said the community, which desperRallying the crowd were Conately needs new zoning protections,T:8.75” gressmember Nydia Velazquez and hasn’t been treated fairly. District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar.
“I support the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side,” Velazquez said, drawing applause. “The local community must have a voice in decisions that shape our neighborhoods and our day-today lives. We must stand against housing discrimination and work to bring under control rising rents in the Lower East Side and throughout our city.” Rajkumar said, “We stand in solidarity to save our neighborhood. We stand against the displacement of thousands of families on the Lower East Side.” Since they feel their homes are being threatened by the administration’s inaction, participants at last Saturday’s meeting resolved to take the battle to de Blasio’s home. “Are we ready to go to Gracie Mansion?” the crowd was asked, to which they responded with a resounding, “Yes!” They plan to rally at Gracie Mansion on Wed., Dec. 16, at 4 p.m. That same day, the City Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing on two new zoning proposals by the de Blasio administration — “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” and “Mandatory Inclusionary Housing.”
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Constant fear of shootings is simply off target RHYMES WITH CRAZY BY LENORE SKENAZY
ave we really all become convinced that we are under constant terrorist threat? The New York Times seems to think so. In the wake of the San Bernardino shootings, it ran an article titled, “ ‘I Think About It Daily’: Life in a Time of Mass Shootings.” But is this true? Seems to me that since 9/11, we’ve learned we’re made of, if not sterner stuff, then at least more rational stuff: We know that violence is random and rare. Yes, rare. Especially here. Let’s talk about local crime for a sec. In New York City, as in most of the country, crime peaked around 1993 and has been going down pretty steadily since then. In 1990, there were 2,245 murders in the city. Last year the number here was 333. That’s an amazing drop. But what about this very instant?
Isn’t crime suddenly “surging,” as the headlines suggest? The Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law crunched the numbers we’re hearing about. It found that while the murder rate is projected to go up 11 percent in America’s 30 largest cities this year — a stat that does sound alarming — the numbers are still far lower than 10 or even five years ago. Here in New York, the projected number of murders by year’s end is 357. That is sad, of course. But as the report notes, “in absolute terms, murder rates are so low in many cities now that even an increase or decrease of just a few occurrences can cause a large change in percentage terms.” For instance: If one person in a million dies from a deadly spider bite and the next year two people die this weird, icky way, that’s a 100 percent increase. But it’s not as if deadly spiders are taking over America. (Yet!) The picture gets clearer if we think in terms of deaths per 100,000. “In 1990, there were 29.3 murders per 100,000 residents,” according to the report, which cited F.B.I. and police statistics. “In 2000, there were 13.8 murders per 100,000. Now there are
9.9 per 100,000.” So while the “Murder Rate Up!” makes for a paper-selling headline, “Americans Far Safer Than They Were 20, 10 and Even Five Years Ago!” is just as true. When I spent 14 years at the New York Daily News, my editor would sometimes remind me that people read the paper because, “They want to know what can kill them.” But that isn’t precisely the case. No one is writing thumb-suckers about the fear of heart disease. Only the most shocking and unpredictable deaths get this kind of treatment. And these reinforce the idea that simply by stepping out of your home — or, God forbid, letting your child step out of the home — death beckons. The Times chose to reinforce the idea that not only we are all panicking about mass shootings, but that this dread is normal and perhaps even sensible after the California and Colorado murders. It did this by surveying the public with an online question: “How often, if ever, do you think about the possibility of a shooting in your daily life?” Naturally, the people who answered are those for whom this question resonates — many of them apparently crippled by an all-consuming
fear of random violence. “I would say I think about the possibility of a shooting in my life regularly,” wrote one 15-year-old. The parents who responded sounded even more terrified. They wrote things like, “The oldest of my three children is in kindergarten. They have lockdown drills. I imagine the fear and chaos of a school shooting. The children, my son, the life and love that can be taken away. How will I live with myself if something happens to them? I’m so scared.” And another: “Is this the day? Will a shooter pick my daughter’s school because it only has one access road? What will she be thinking as she cowers in a closet? Or under a desk? Will she be crying for me?” But the odds overwhelmingly say she will simply go about her day and take her math test. Crime is at historic lows. We are lucky to be living in such safe times. Until we embrace reality instead of the headlines, we will not be able to enjoy life or let our kids outside. That is a tragedy. Skenazy is a keynote speaker and the author and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids”
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR ‘A few issues with Shelly’ To The Editor: Re “Après Shelly Silver, le deluge of candidates? Or maybe not” (news article, Dec. 3): Shelly Silver may still be loved by many voters, but they must have short memories. Beyond his being found guilty on all counts, there are a few other issues many of us have with Shelly. All of the money he brought into his district was simply doing the job he was elected to do. There were many issues he took up, such as trying to
reopen Park Row after 9/11; stopping the city from putting a service station for all city agency cars on an East River pier; and helping World Trade Center neighbors get back in their apartments and get the help they needed, to name some. Yes, he had influence, and yes, he probably brought more money into the district than he would have had he not been speaker. But let’s remember what he did not do, at his own housing development on Grand St. He did not stop the systematic racist exclusion of African Americans and Latinos at the Grand St. co-ops. He
Will Governor Cuomo be next? 16
December 10, 2015
did not stop those co-ops from going private — even though he had the power to do so — and by going private, more than 6,000 units of affordable housing were lost. He benefited personally from both the exclusionary policy and the privatization. Silver’s influence on Community Board 3, when many of the appointees from Grand St. consistently voted against affordable housing, was legendary. I even remember one Grand St. appointee, just before a vote on a property, asking if it were above or below Delancy St. When she was told it was above, she voted for it. Had it been anywhere near the Grand St. co-ops, she would have voted against it, as all of the Grand St. appointees did with regularity. Silver also never supported the desire of those of us in and around Smith Houses to create a high school to train students to take care of the elderly in a school building that had closed. Instead he allowed the Catherine St. shelter to be put in the building. The idiocy of placing a shelter in the middle of a housing project is something I will never understand, and Shelly refused to take a position against it. Of course, as long as no shelter was placed near his precious Grand St. houses, that is all he cared about. I could go on and on. My memory goes back a long time. I know others who could remember more. Anne K. Johnson Johnson is a member, Community Board 3 LETTERS continued on p. 18 TheVillager.com
Speaker leads interfaith speak-out against Trump
PHOTOS BY WILLIAM ALATRISTE / NYC COUNCIL
n Wednesday morning, on the City Hall steps, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, left, led councilmembers, other elected officials and interfaith leaders in condemning what they called Donald Trump’s “ongoing racist and anti-immigrant remarks.” “Enough is enough. Ya basta!” Mark-Viverito declared. “There is nothing left to say about Donald Trump other than he’s a disgusting, racist demagogue who has no business running for president, period.” The press conference came on the
heels of Trump’s saying that immigration to America by all Muslim immigrants — and even the return here by Muslim Americans traveling abroad — should be banned for right now. In his defense, Trump referenced the Japanese internment camps during World War II. Among the others at Wednesday’s press conference were Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, Councilmembers Margaret Chin and Ydanis Rodriguez and Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of the gay-and-lesbian Congregation Beth Simchat Torah synagogue.
December 10, 2015
A Coney Island of the East Village at City Lore BY TRACI KAMPEL
hen most of us think of 1980s New York, things like nightclubs, Gordon Gekko types and graffiti-ridden subways come to mind. But a new exhibit at the East Village’s City Lore — co-sponsored by the Coney Island History Project and Coney Island Hysterical Society — captures a different, quirkier side of that era, bringing the inimitable Coney Island boardwalk to E. First St. “Boardwalk Renaissance: How the Arts Saved Coney Island” is a collection of relics and pieces by artists who came to the declining Brooklyn neighborhood in the ’80s and vowed to restore its glory through their work. Like Coney Island itself, the exhibit is a place where creativity, mystery, the unconventional and the past all meld. Step back in time via photographs to the aging “World in Wax Musée,” a dime museum showcasing what artist Philomena Marano calls “gruesome tableaus” and reproductions of everyone from violent criminals to Albert Einstein, whose lifelike head floats in a gallery display case. Also reincarnated in photos is one of the movement’s earliest efforts: the daylong Halloween 1981 performance piece “Tricks and Treats at the World in Wax,” by Dick Zigun, the artist credited with sparking the famed seaside spot’s renaissance and whose many titles include founder/artistic director of Coney Island USA; reviver/producer of the famed Coney Island Circus Sideshow; and unelected “Mayor of Coney Island.” “Coney Island is a special place within the city,” Zigun said. “In New York, everything’s regulated, everything’s paved over, everything’s on a grid. Coney Island is unstructured. It’s a place to wander.” Visitors can continue their wandering along “Jones Walk,” Marano’s playful homage in hand-
“25 Shoot,” by Richard Eagan and Philomena Marano, a diorama-like re-creation of an original William F. Mangels shooting gallery.
cut paper to the Spook-a-Rama, in which a crosseyed skull and the artist’s trademark signage lure passersby with the promise of beachy thrills. “Lionel’s Chair” honors the old Thunderbolt and Lionel Butler, a shotgun-toting “elderly gentleman from the deep South” who kept watch against vandalism while offering painting advice. The print of Marano’s bold paper collage depicts Lionel’s onthe-job view, the massive rollercoaster he guarded in front of him, the Parachute Jump dimmer behind it. His empty chair, tiny in comparison, sits
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR LETTERS continued from p. 16
Rajkumar has my vote! To The Editor: Re “Après Shelly Silver, le deluge of candidates? Or maybe not” (news article, Dec. 3): If Jennifer Rajkumar decides to run for Mr. Silver’s former seat, I would wholeheartedly endorse her. She is a brilliant young woman with exceptional legal skills who would be a fine assemblywoman representing Lower Manhattan. Sylvia Rackow Rackow is a member, Committee to Preserve Our Neighborhood
Hiding and sniping To The Editor: Re “Après Shelly Silver, le deluge of candidates? Or maybe not” (news article, Dec. 3):
December 10, 2015
Much respect to Sylvia Rackow. Whether I agree with her or not on Rajkumar, I appreciate that she used her name. She stood up. All the other bickering and name-calling on the online versions of these articles by anonymous people is just noise. If you have an opinion state your name. What is the use of free speech if the speaker is hiding in the shadows, pretending to have something intelligent to say? It is like a child pointing his finger and pretending it is a gun — Pow! Pow! Silly, really. Clayton Patterson
Blaz bad for small biz To The Editor: Re “De Blasio’s L.E.S. / Chinatown tale of two cities” (talking point, by Diem Boyd, Dec. 3): Walk down any block in any neighborhood and you can see what de Blasio really is. When he ran for public
almost sadly in the corner. The Thunderbolt looms against a stark, royal blue sky in the mixed media “Fred’s House,” by Richard Eagan, who founded the Hysterical Society with Marano. Under its tracks stands the pale pink Kensington Hotel and its ever-rattling living room, fictional home to Alvy Singer in Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” and actual home to the ride’s owners, Mae Timpano and Fred Moran. City Lore executive director Steve Zeitlin, a folklorist, said the pair would often find random possessions that had fallen from the sky mid-ride, most notably a set of false teeth. “One of the things that drew us was the people,” said Eagan. “The crazy, old-timer-type characters.” Other highlights include the Eagan/Marano collaboration “25 Shoot,” a diorama-like re-creation in primary colors of an original William F. Mangels shooting gallery; a car from the Spookhouse “ridethrough gallery”; publicity posters from events Zigun and Eagan produced to draw in crowds; video clips from the very first Mermaid Parade; and an array of memorabilia that encapsulates Coney Island’s special brand of Americana. More Coney Island-themed work can be seen out at the source, at Coney Island USA’s “Sodom by the Sea,” the sister exhibit to “Boardwalk Renaissance.” So what is it about Coney Island that inspires all this art? “I think it’s an outlaw spirit,” Marano said. “It’s beautiful and curious and ideal for escapism. It’s that unusual place at the end of the line where the city meets the sea.” “Boardwalk Renaissance: How the Arts Saved Coney Island,” through March 13 at City Lore, 55 E. First St.; Wednesdays through Fridays, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 6 p.m. For more information: 212-529-1955 or coneyisland.com .
advocate, he was the strongest voice for passage of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, to give rights to business owners to renew their leases and negotiate fair lease terms. But as mayor, de Blasio kept intact Bloomberg’s pro-landlord agencies and never once mentioned the S.B.J.S.A. or giving any rights to small business owners to end their crisis. Every neighborhood is seeing its core businesses closing, and the mayor will not support any legislation to stop it. Savenycjobs.org gives the facts: De Blasio is a fraud. Steve Null
Go you gardens! To The Editor: Re “Gardens now seen as key part of future storm-defense plan” (news article, Nov. 5): This is a legacy we can be proud of: forty-seven gardens here on the good old Lower East Side. Born of neglect and taken over by dedicated volunteers — the once-embattled lots
are now embedded in the fabric of the world’s imagination. The idea of a “community garden” represents a heroic, ongoing struggle to impose dignity and democracy on our common destiny. To aid the green movement further, the Parks Department and GreenThumb should host a citywide registration day when people can join gardens. That would be revolutionary. And one more thing: As our politician friends have learned, term limits are necessary. Term limits for garden-held offices should be part of a new, more inclusive and transparent governing structure in the gardens. Jeff Wright E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to email@example.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published. TheVillager.com
Rush to the right place: Company XIV
Disciplined dance troupe has core strength to burn BY SCOTT STIFFLER
nce you get past leering at the bare buns, lean frames and tightly wrapped packages on display — which will take some time, but is time very well spent — an immense appreciation sets in for the years of skill acquisition and the daily maintenance it must take for Company XIV’s “Nutcracker Rouge” cast to bend, stretch, prowl and leap with such artistry, expression and precision. Staring slack-jawed at this world-class display of fully realized human potential inspires silent promises to join that gym or hit that dance floor; or at least decide against a third pass at the holiday buffet table. Then, the realization sinks in that even if you’re able to reinvent yourself as a criminally smooth Fred Astaire, the 14-member ensemble is — to paraphrase an old argument for the superiority of Ginger Rogers — doing everything you can, but backwards…and in high heels! That’s the point at which your mind undergoes a course correction, from dreams of self-improvement back to carnal fantasies — which is a very good space to occupy when in the company of this troupe that takes its cue (and name) from the decadent court of Louis XIV. Enthusiastic consumers of body-twisting acrobatics, pole dancing, fetish gear and good old-fashioned peep booth voyeurism will experience eye-popping flashes of recognition, and rushes of blood to all the right places. As conceived, choreographed and directed by founder Austin McCormick, Company XIV’s dreamy, roguish, two-hour tour is steeped in tradition — and not just the type we’ve come to expect from Tchaikovsky’s oft-reimagined classic. The familiar plot (girl gets toy nutcracker, navigates strange lands, finds her way home) is told, more or less, through burlesque and carnival-inspired acts of balance, upper body strength and uncommon endurance. The best of these take place while swinging from the rafters, alone or in pairs, and always without a net. (Marcy Richardson’s extraordinary turn suspended above a mirror, twirling on a hoop while filling the intimate PHOTO BY MARK SHELBY PERRY
L to R: Lea Helle, Marcy Richardson and Laura Careless. TheVillager.com
COMPANY XIV continued on p. 23 December 10, 2015
Sculptor finds new place to park his art BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC
onrad Stojak has a different canvas than other artists: old parking meters. He transforms the reviled relics into sculptures of tribute to the city where he was born and raised, with tiny dioramas depicting the city’s skyline and landmarks, inhabiting the space where once the clock ticked down to a driver’s doom. The first piece he completed after his initial experiments depicts a completed World Trade Center complex, featuring the four towers, the reflecting pools of the 9/11 Memorial, and construction workers toiling away. That diorama helped him land his current studio digs — inside one of the buildings it depicts. Larry Silverstein, the developer of the new World Trade Center complex, has invited artists to use vacant space at the site in exchange for some type of art donation. Stojak will donate his World Trade Center parking meter, which will be put on public display at some point, he said. Having a studio is a first for Stojak, who studied film and also takes photographs. “I never even had a space before this,” he said. “I was in a friend’s yard working on stuff. I never had a studio in my life, other than that and maybe part of my living room. This is like a big, big step up.” Quite literally — Stojak’s studio is all the way up on the 67th floor of 4 World Trade Center, where he has been since this June. “You can’t beat it,” said Stojak of the view, which showcases 1 World Trade Center and Battery Park City. Raised in Woodhaven, Queens, Stojak has vivid memories of visiting Lower Manhattan as a child to have lunch with his father, who worked at 90 West St. near the Twin Towers. His father would take him to Windows on the World, where Stojak would press his forehead against the glass and stare down at the miniature world below. There are echoes of that view in the diminutive scenes under glass that Stojak now creates. He got the idea two years ago when he was jogging in Queens and saw a bunch of old parking meters still standing sentinel, but with all their insides removed. “That’s what they did originally,” Stojak explained. “[The city] took out all the working parts first and left these shells of the meters on the street. I found one that was easy to get into, and I bought a bunch of army men at this bodega and kind of just stuffed it with army men.” Pleased with the effect, he decided to see where he could go with the idea. “I started finding more meters, using smaller figurines,” he said. “Then I started building sets and then installing the sets inside the meters themselves.” Those early pieces are long gone now, he said, because the city is still in the process of removing the old meters, which have to be jackhammered to get them out of the ground. As the empty meters disappeared from the streets, Stojak began contacting city agencies to
December 10, 2015
PHOTO BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC
Artist Conrad Stojak puts art inside old parking meters in his swanky studio on the 67th floor of 4 World Trade Center looking out onto 1 World Trade Center.
see if they would donate meters, or even if he could buy some. “I came out of the blue,” he said. “They had no idea who I was, what was I talking about it. ‘Look, I just want some meters.’ ” Eventually he got a donation of 30 defunct parking meters, which he is slowly filling with scaled-down scenes of the city. Stojak has completed eight meters so far, including a purple ode to the oft-delayed 7 train featuring a crowd of people waiting for it, and a miniature, motorized Rockefeller Center ice rink with tiny skaters spinning around. “Anything that has a New York flavor,” he said. Even if it leaves a bad taste in your mouth — one of his dioramas depicts the old, seedy, pre-Disneyfied Times Square, complete with a flasher, a homeless guy, and a woman beating a ruffian with an umbrella. “’Cause that’s what I remember Times Square to be,” he said. “It was this very, very dark place.” It takes Stojak about three weeks to complete a piece. The first challenge is lugging the 75-pound meters to his studio. Then Stojak says he has to “Swiss cheese” it — drilling through the thick
steel to get the locking mechanism off so he can remove the top of the meter. His difficulties come with his medium, he admits. “That thing was built to not be broken into, so it takes some time to kind of drill it open,” he said. “I go through drill bits like potato chips. These things are so impossible to open.” With the hard part over with, Stojak scuffs up the surface so the spray paint can adhere to it, then picks out the colors and figures he wants to use, designs the scene, and works on the parts that make the miniatures move. “Little by little it just starts to come together,” he said. Stojak hopes eventually to create many more meters — anywhere from 200 to even 2,000 if he gets some help — and then “replant” them on sidewalks throughout the five boroughs. Parking meters make for an ideal venue for public art, according to Stojak, because they’re a familiar icon at home anywhere in the city. “Everyone recognizes it, everybody knows it, and you could put it anywhere in the city, in any neighborhood,” he said. “That’s what I like about the idea: it can truly be democratic.” TheVillager.com
An empowering gamer gift guide
“Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection” brings the original three games to Sony’s newest console, the PlayStation 4.
All in one: “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” is a coveted compilation of previous games in the series, updated for the Xbox One.
BY CHARLES BATTERSBY
V KontrolFreek thumbsticks clip onto controllers, and come with logos of popular games like “Call of Duty.”
ideo games are ubiquitous during the holidays — but gamers frequently have to feign delight when they receive the dreaded “wrong game” from a well-meaning (albeit ill-informed) relative. With dozens of seemingly interchangeable games on the market, it can be difficult to keep up with which game is the killer app for that new console under the tree. These recommendations will arm you with the knowledge to pick the right gift for the gamer in your life.
Hardcore gamers will argue about the minute technical differences between a PlayStation 4 and an Xbox One. For many consumers, though, the choice of which console to buy comes down to which games are available for that system only. When the holidays roll around, gamers will often want these exclusive titles. The first Halo game was the sole reason why many people bought the original Xbox back in 2001. This science fiction shooter series is known for both its multi-player experience, as well as the ongoing story that is continued from game to game. “Halo 5” is the first in the series to debut on the new Xbox One. People who are upgrading from an Xbox 360 are likely to have already played the previous games in the series, so “Halo 5” is the best choice for them. If this is someone’s first Xbox system, “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” is the way to go. This is a compilation of the previous games in the series, updated for the Xbox One. “Rise of the Tomb Raider” will eventually come to PlayStation and PC, but for now it’s one of best reasons to own an Xbox One.
ACTION WITHOUT ARMS
For people who don’t like shooters, there is an-
other exclusive on the Xbox this season: “Rise of the Tomb Raider.” “Tomb Raider” has been around for two decades, but the series has had a resurgence in popularity lately. “Rise of the Tomb Raider” will eventually come to PlayStation and PC, but for now it’s one of the best ways to make people jealous of your new Xbox One. It’s also available for the old Xbox 360, for those who haven’t joined the current generation yet. “Tomb Raider” inspired another big franchise: “Uncharted.” Instead of Lara Croft, “Uncharted” features a male protagonist named Nathan Drake, who raids tombs in exotic locations all over the world. This series was one of the PlayStation 3’s best exclusives, and a new “Uncharted” game is coming to PlayStation 4 next year. In the meantime, the newly released “Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection” brings the original three games to Sony’s newest console. Players who have a PlayStation 4 but never played the old “Uncharted” games will find this to be a must-have.
A major exclusive for the PlayStation 4 is “Bloodborne.” This came out earlier in the year and might slip under the radar during the holidays. Gift-givers should take care in who receives this game, though, because “Bloodborne” is for hardcore gamers only. From the developers of the notoriously difficult “Souls” series, “Bloodborne” has a merciless difficulty level that will be appreciated by players who pride themselves on their skill and dedication. The Nintendo 3DS has been around for four years, but Nintendo keeps updating its hardware with slight revisions. The latest is the New NinGAMER continued on p. 22 December 10, 2015
Gift list in play GAMER continued from p. 21
tendo 3DS, which is fully compatible with all of the games for the previous versions (and most games for the original Nintendo DS). While there are some newer, flashier games for this platform, “Animal Crossing: New Leaf” is the ideal gift for both kids and adults with their first 3DS. It is a cute, whimsical “life simulator” that is intended to be played a little bit every day — for years on end. Many other games can be “beaten” after a few hours, but “Animal Crossing” is a gift for the long run. But players who are dying to have something that takes advantage of the special features of the New 3DS will appreciate “Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate.” Most games are not exclusive to any particular platform, though. “Fallout 4” was released last month, and is currently the big new game on both consoles and on the PC. It’s a free-roaming adventure through a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and players can spend hundreds of hours exploring it. Despite the post-nuclear setting, there is a heaping dose of humor to this game. Older teens and adults will enjoy the dark comedy, although its use of gore and drugs means that it’s not suitable for younger players.
KEEPING UP WITH THE DOWNLOADS
Many of the best games from the past year aren’t actually available as physical gifts. Consoles, handheld platforms, and desktop computers can all download games without needing a physical disc. Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Nintendo’s eShop, and the popular PC digital distributor Steam all sell physical gift
cards that can be put under the tree or in stockings. One notable game that can only be downloaded is “Life Is Strange.” It goes against some of the stereotypes about video games. There are no zombies or space marines — rather, it is a thoughtful and emotional story about a teenage girl who mysteriously gains the ability to rewind time. She uses her new power to address the countless “what if” situations that people encounter every day. Eventually the story tackles more serious fare, like teen suicide, sexual assault, and euthanasia. It is highly recommended for teens, as well as adults.
Plenty of people still play their games on PCs, and serious PC gamers will appreciate a mouse built specifically for their favorite game. Razer makes special mice with additional buttons intended for certain genres. The Razer Naga is designed for MMOs (massively multiplayer online games) like “World of Warcraft,” while the Hex is for MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arenas) like “League of Legends.” They’re a fun extravagance for someone who already has the game they want.
Finally, for those who are stumped about what to get the gamer who already has everything, consider accessories for their existing controllers. KontrolFreek thumbsticks clip onto controllers to add functionality and flair. They come with logos of popular games like “Call of Duty,” and are designed to enhance performance of specific kinds of games, like shooters. Grip-iTs offer similar features, but at a stocking stuffer price point.
CALL TO SUBSCRIBE
The thoughtful and emotional story of a teenage girl who gains the ability to rewind time, “Life Is Strange” is a great alternative to games about zombies or space marines.
CALL TO SUBSCRIBE 646-452-2475
December 10, 2015
Sexually charged ‘Nutcracker’ delights and delivers
The Company XIV cast are a talented bunch, for sure — such a shame about their bodies, though! PHOTOS BY MARK SHELBY PERRY
Steven Trumon Gray and Laura Careless as the Nutcracker Cavalier and Marie-Claire. COMPANY XIV continued from p. 19
Minetta Lane Theatre with her piercing operatic soprano, reaches its crescendo to thunderous applause.) Down on the floor, but just as fully removed from the earth at times, the sexually fluid cast is thrust into Jungian dreamscapes filled with shadows, silhouettes, and backlighting — where the loss of innocence-cum-sexual awakening story arc of Marie-Claire (Laura Careless) is told through cancan, tap, fan dancing, and, at times, devoutly pure ballet — all performed with lusty grace by a cast decked out in set and costume designer Zane Pihlstrom’s high-functioning heels, glittery G-strings, and intricate corsets. Like Marie-Claire’s internal struggle to break free (and boy does she, when a tepid attempt at handling a riding crop warp speeds into the realm of gleeful expertise), “Nutcracker Rouge” is a flood of diverse images and influences, only occasionally overwhelmed by its desire to explore and experiment — as is the case with pop music in Act II’s trip to Sugarplum territory (“Material Girl,” “Peppermint Twist”), disappointingly presented with a winking silliness that is incompatible with the evening’s sexTheVillager.com
ually charged current and beautifully dark tone. Quibbles aside, “Nutcracker Rouge” is a worthy addition to your holiday calendar — this year, or for years to come. It’ll give your out-of-town guests something to talk about, and it just might lead to some pillow talk with the person sitting next to you. All good theater should have that effect! “Nutcracker Rouge” contains partial nudity (16 and over admitted). Tues.–Sat. at 8 p.m. and Sun. at 5 p.m., through Jan. 17, at the Minetta Lane Theatre (18 Minetta Lane, btw. Sixth Ave. & MacDougal St.). Tickets are $50–$85. Premium & VIP seating is $100–$175. To order, visit ticketmaster. com or call 800-745-3000. Rush tickets ($30) are available at the box office beginning two hours prior to curtain, for patrons under the age of 30 (limit, one ticket per ID). The next Company XIV production, “Snow White,” plays Jan. 26–March 12 at the Minetta Lane Theatre. Artist info at CompanyXIV.com. Follow them on Twitter: @Company_ XIV and on Instagram: @CompanyXIV. Like them at facebook.com/CompanyXIV.
THE NEW SOUND OF
BROOKLYN The Community News Group is proud to introduce BROOKLYN PAPER RADIO. Join Brooklyn Paper Editor-in-Chief Vince DiMiceli and the New York Daily News’ Gersh Kuntzman every Monday at 4 pm for an hour of talk on topics Brooklynites hold dear. Each show will feature in-studio guests and call-out segments, and can be listened to live or played anytime at your convenience.
LISTEN EVERY MONDAY AT 4PM ON BrooklynPaper.com/radio December 10, 2015
To Advertise Call: 646-452-2490 LegalAds@TheVillager.com Deadline â€“ 12 noon Wednesday
December 10, 2015
To Advertise Call: 646-452-2490 LegalAds@TheVillager.com Deadline â€“ 12 noon Wednesday
Why Pay More?
Call noW 646-452-2490 to advertise all your legals and naMe Changes TheVillager.com
December 10, 2015
PHOTOS BY Q. SAKAMAKI
Swords into plows...rebounding amid the rubble WORLD
This past summer, photographer Q. Sakamaki was in Gaza, where he documented Palestinian youth doing parkour amid the wreckage of the 49-day Israel-Gaza conflict of 2014. Created in France, parkour is based on fast-paced military obstacle course training. Sakamaki, formerly of the East Village, is a renowned international conflict-zone photographer.
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NYCHA will try infill again on East Side: Chief NYCHA continued from p. 6
buildings are literally crumbling; two-thirds of our buildings are over the age of 60. And there is no white knight, there is no silver bullet,” as in a hoped-for spike in federal funding that is unlikely to come, she noted.
Campos Plaza deal In another effort to staunch its cash gap, NYCHA at the end of last year closed a deal with a group of private developers — including L&M Development Partners and Preservation Development Partners (including Donald Capoccia’s BFC Partners) — under which the developers now own 50 percent of Campos Plaza I, as well as E. Fourth St. Rehab, in the East Village. The deal — described as a “30-year partnership” — also included other federally funded Section 8 developments in Brooklyn and the Bronx, for a total of 900 units in three boroughs. In return for their half ownership stake, the developers will pay NYCHA $250 million within the next
SCOOPY’S continued from p. 2 per, that it was owned by the ruthless real estate developer Jared Kushner, that the editor, Ken Kurson, was an old friend of Kushner’s who was once “deputy director for communications at Giuliani Partners,” that Jared Kushner is married to Donald Trump’s daughter and that they pal around with Rupert Murdoch. You’d think I would know better than allow myself to be had by these people, having received this information. Hyzagi got me to talk about sex pretty openly, asking me what my favorite positions were, and I naively described to him some favorite positions. … It was only afterward that I realized, wait a minute! What am I doing, telling an interviewer what my favorite positions are?! How did I get sucked into doing that?? What a vain ass I am! After he sent me the first draft I wrote back to him and urged him strongly to take out what I said about my favorite sexual positions… . I believe they were trying hard to make me look like a nasty pervert. Okay, it’s all in the comics, but, you know, I control what I put in the comics. It’s my own slant, my own take on my crazy sexuality. … Just to set the record straight,” Crumb says at another point, “it was Hyzagi who said that he went to Zuccotti Park to check out Occupy Wall Street, and opined that the people were fools, but it’s not at all clear the way it’s written that it was him saying that. ...” The cartoonist’s complaint ends by warning, “I just want to say to any left-liberal media
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two years, plus another $100 million over the next 15 years. The developers are investing around $80,000 per unit, installing new kitchens and bathrooms, in the 900 apartments. Building lobbies are also being renovated and security improved. In return for upgrading the units, the developers will be eligible for federal funding to cover the difference between market-rate rents and what the Housing Authority charges for rent. Speaking in February, Olatoye had assured that the deal would not lead to the buildings’ future privatization. However, it is, in fact, possible that after 30 years, the units could turn market rate.
Too many cameras? At a panel discussion on gentrification in October, organized by writer Alan Kaufman, Jose “Cochise” Quiles, the former leader of the Lower East Side’s notorious Satan’s Sinner Nomads street gang, complained about the new security cameras that
personality or writer, artist, musician, whatever, be very wary if you are approached for an interview by anyone working for The New York Observer. They are out to skewer you.” For Crumb’s full message, visit http:// slumgoddess.blogspot.com/2015/11/ r-crumb-doesnt-hate-you-r-crumbhates.html. We tried to reach The Observer for comment, but couldn’t even get a live person. There was no response to our phone and e-mail messages. Meanwhile, Brower, her boyfriend, John Heneghan, and Crumb are teaming up on “John’s Old Time Radio Show,” an album of podcasts coming out in February. Brower and Heneghan, of the East Village String Band, have previously put out a pair of records of old-time American blues featuring Crumb — a huge fan of the genre — playing on mandolin. “The album is John, Crumb and I talking in between playing 78s from both their collections,” Brower explained. “We did side one in New York City with John’s records and side two in France with Crumb’s collection. Some songs are ‘Fixin’ to Die,’ by Bukka White, and ‘Ohio Prison Fire,’ by Bob and Charlotte Miller. It’s not our music on it but the chatting in between is funny.” The record’s cover photo features an exasperated-looking Brower with Crumb intently gazing at one of the old shellac 78s. Explaining the “action,” Brower said, “John and Robert are going on and on about their 78s and stuff and I’m making fun of their obsession.”
are being added all over Campos Plaza, at 635 E. 12th St. He said that whole families are now at risk of losing their apartments if the cameras show someone living with them who is in trouble with the law or illegally “doubled-up” with them in their apartment. Told of Quiles’s comment, she responded, “Have you talked to the residents who live there? That right there typifies my job,” she said, adding he sounded a bit like “a crazy person.” “People are angry that there is more security there and not the building across the street? Why is that building getting new kitchens and bathrooms and the other isn’t?” she asked.
‘I understand that fear’ “I hear your point. I think fear, unfortunately, is a terrible place to start,” Olatoye said. “And I understand that fear. I think people look at development in neighborhoods, and they feel housing insecure. Their wages are stagnant. They see the reality that the bodega that was there yesterday is now gone and there are condos. “It’s not wrong,” she said. “People’s perceptions are the reality. I understand the fear. But this mayor and this administration have been clear from Day One that the public housing in New York City will remain public. And the rights that tenants in good standing have come to expect, they can continue to count on that as a source of housing for their families.” Olatoye noted that, technically, Campos Plaza and the other buildings in this deal were “not public housing,” in that they were both owned and administered by NYCHA under the Section 8 program. They were “incredibly expensive” for NYCHA to run, she said. Public housing, on the other hand, is known as Section 9.
Huge cash upfront “Our ability to partner with a developer provided a huge upfront cash payment to the authority that allowed us to actually balance our budget for the first time in 15 years last year,” she said of the deal involving Campos and the other buildings. “It also will allow for more than $80 million of capital repairs that would not otherwise have gotten done in those 10 housing projects. “I live two blocks from one of them, I can see the development happening,” said Olatoye, an East Harlem resident. “For the first time in a very long time, these buildings have on-site supers. They have doors
that work. They have laundry rooms that work; NYCHA really got out of the laundromat business because it couldn’t take care of laundries in the face of defunding.” She said the financing structure for these Section 8 buildings, in fact, has been changed in a “transparent way.” NYCHA residents “need to see” the results, she added, noting, “We actually have done a fair amount of bringing NYCHA residents to some of those buildings and saying, ‘Look at what this partnership allowed us to do.’ ”
Baruch Houses security On another issue, Olatoye was asked about a rape last month at the Baruch Houses that saw the criminal gain entry to the building through a front door with a constantly broken lock. What can be done, she was asked, to ensure that these locks are fixed in a timely manner to ensure tenants’ safety? “Horrible, horrible incident,” Olatoye said. “Thankfully, cameras were working. We were able to pull the tape, work closely with P.D. [police] to find the alleged perpetrator. That typifies our challenge. Doors get broken constantly. Staff respond. They’re broken the next moment, again. My men and women leave at 4 p.m. So, the reality is that door is probably going to stay unlocked until someone shows up at 8 a.m. the next morning. That is a function of my labor contract.” Asked if there is an overnight crew that can respond, she said, “We do have overnight emergency services, who are focused on emergencies — gas, fire, electrical things. Not that doors are not an emergency. They are in our priority list. But it remains a huge challenge for us.” NYCHA is installing stronger doors with “layered access” technology, linked to the police, using money it has received through a district attorney program. But a big problem, she noted, is that security and safety measures in NYCHA buildings are not funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, so the money has to be allocated by the City Council. In addition, residents also simply have to take responsibility for “closing the door,” she said.
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Sharing a world of compassion on World AIDS Day BY TEQUILA MINSKY
illageCare’s AIDS adult day healthcare program on W. 20th St. has been serving those in need for more than 30 years, one of the first such facilities in this region. On World AIDS Day, Tues., Dec. 1, many of the program’s clients headed uptown to the Apollo Theater for a major commemorative event that also launched a community campaign to end AIDS in New York State by 2020. It was three days later, on Friday, when the VillageCare day program held its own, more personal and intimate World AIDS Day observance. This year’s theme: “Passing the Light.” As the community room filled, members of the Open Drumming Session began pumping out pulsating rhythms — six members on percussion and one on a shekere — shells strung around a gourd — the rhythm bringing everyone together. Staff member Kelly sounded the bell to acknowledge people deceased from or living with H.I.V. Then, each person tied a red string around the wrist of his or her neighbor — the strings another symbol both of remembrance and determination of living with H.I.V. The “Reflections” segment of the observance was the most moving. “I remember Miss Ally before she passed away; she’s always with us,” one man recalled to agreeing murmurs in the room. Tasha, a drummer, shared that she came to this program because other programs don’t have music therapy. “I got my music therapy certificate,” she stated proudly. A man’s voice from the far end of the room boomed, “We need to fight to stay strong and fight for a cure. But today is about caring — to climb the mountain together.” He reminded everyone, “We stand on the shoul-
PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY
The ceremony concluded with lit candles and the singing of “This Little Light of Mine.”
ders of Act Up, when there were no medicines,” referring to the early AIDS activist group. Another added, “I have to take care of myself to maintain good health and be positive. It’s an ongoing process.” After the formal program, Elizabeth Vega-Lebron, VillageCare’s program director, pointed out that the day was also about celebrating individual successes — those who have been able to stay sober and clean — and a commitment to compassion. “H.I.V. isn’t the issue — living is the issue,” she said, listing the needs for housing, education and jobs. Joe Gomez travels from Queens for the support, the staff and the freedom
Drum rhythms helped bring the group together. TheVillager.com
to talk about his problems. “This is a model that helps people, a source of information,” he said. “I’ve been coming for more than 20 years and that’s why I’m still here.” Taking a break from her drumming, Tasha, who has been attending the program for five years, said, “One day there might be a cure, but until then I go on living.” AIDS observance day wrapped up on W. 20th St. with the passing of a flame, from one candle to another around the room, as the voices joyously harmonized together, singing, “This Little Light of Mine.”
A staff member rang a bell to acknowledge both those who have died from or are living with the virus.
Participants tied red string around each others’ wrists, as a symbol both of remembrance and determination in the face of living with H.I.V. December 10, 2015
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