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The Paper of Record for East and West Villages, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown

August 7, 2014 • FREE Volume 4 • Number 19

Speed on Houston St. Bowery, Sixth Ave. will be slowed to 25 m.p.h. BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


n the coming months, 14 more corridors — including Houston St., the Bowery and Sixth Ave. — will be added to the city’s growing number of so-called “arterial slow zones.” The Department of Transportation announced the

second batch of new arterial slow zones on Fri., Aug. 1. The city’s first two arterial slow zones were launched in May, when it was also announced that Canal St. would also become one — Downtown Manhattan’s first slow zone — by June. In June, state lawmakers SLOW ZONE, continued on p. 23



ocal politicians joined the fray last week with a joint statement praising recent action by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Office against the practices of landlord Steven Croman, who has been the subject of nu-

merous tenant complaints over the years. A representative of 9300 Realty — which oversees Croman properties in the East Village and Lower East Side — denied wrongdoing, saying that the company has actively tried to resolve disputes to no avail, and with no CROMAN, continued on p. 10


Croman ongoing ‘pattern of tenant harassment’ must end, politicians say

Christo and the hawks take Tompkins! See pages 20 to 21.

Dashane’s sign is a symbol of the need for safer streets BY ZACH WILLIAMS


here’s a sign now at Clinton and Delancey Sts. showing that out of needless tragedy some good can emerge. The co-naming of that intersection as Dashane Santana Way recognizes a safer intersection compared to that through which Santana crossed on Jan. 13, 2012, when a Williamsburg Bridge-bound automobile killed the 12-year-old aspiring performer.

At a Sun., Aug. 3, unveiling of the new street co-naming sign, local elected officials and family members spoke to the community efforts following the accident, which led to extended crossing times and traffic islands, among new other safety measures. “The Lower East Side community will never forget her,” said Councilmember Margaret Chin, who sponsored the co-naming with fellow Councilmember Rosie Mendez. “Out of

Dashane’s tragedy came an inspiring community movement that forced the city to make permanent changes to Delancey St. that have saved lives. That’s her enduring legacy.” Dashane Santana was walking home from Castle Middle School, on Henry St., when a 2008 Toyota fatally struck her as she bent down to retrieve a dropped book bag. The intersection of Clinton and Delancey Sts. DASHANE, continued on p. 6

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space, get a liquor license for it. Not too far away, Mexicana Mama, on Hudson St., has also reportedly closed. “At Ready to Eat next door, they said the rent did it!” reader Bruce Martin told us. “We are losing all our beloved small businesses!” As if all that wasn’t enough, another neighborhood institution, the Broome St. Bar, may close by December, we hear, since the building was recently sold.



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“It’s worth the trip down the street!”

Richie Gamba, “The Mayor,” outside the shuttered Hair Box.

CLOSED! There has been a sudden wave of store closings in the South Village and Soho area, and longtime patrons are devastated. The Hair Box, on Spring St. near Sullivan St., recently felt the cut, and has shuttered. Richie Gamba, “The Mayor of Spring St.,” can usually be found seated on a chair outside the place. “It’s a shame,” he said. “The owner, Patricia, is being forced out due to the rent. This barbershop has been around for 104 years. Landlords should stop the gouging of the rents, so we can have businesses for family-oriented people.” Other recent closings include Ruben’s Empanadas, on Broome St. (one of our personal favorites). Of course there was Miladay’s bar, on Prince St., though it still has a Web I N THE HEART OF G REENW I CH V I LLA GE — Recommended by Gourmet Magazine, Zagat, Crain’s NY, Playbill & The Villager — page for former fans to keep in touch. And it looks “Gold Medal Chef of the Year”. — Chefs de Cuisine Association like Once Upon a Tart, on Sullivan St., will be transNorthern italian Cuisine • Celebrating Over 36 Years formed into yet another nightlife hot spot — that is, 69 MacDougal St. (Bet. Bleeker & Houston St.) 212-673-0390 • 212-674-0320 if Navy’s operators, who hope to expand into the Open Mon. - Sat. 12-11pm • 2

August 7, 2014

POUNDING PARK DRUMS: Concern is peaking again — as it seems to do every few years — over noise in Washington Square Park. Even Sharon Woolums, a public member of Community Board 2’s Parks Committee who is a huge fan of music in the park, is saying things have gone too far. The real issue, according to Woolums, is that people are bringing in full drum kits — though even just white spackle buckets are plenty loud — and really pounding up a storm of noise, which is drowning out other quieter musicians, like acoustic guitarists who just want to gently jam on their Beatles tunes in peace. At its recent full-board meeting, C.B. 2 approved a resolution by the Parks Committee that stated, “The pendulum has swung too far: Loud music is impeding general enjoyment of the park. Those who are breaking the rules or exceeding the guidelines are disrupting park use for the rest of the community.” Skateboarding in the park is also an issue, with the shredders doing tricks on park furniture and setting up ramps to do aerial stunts, especially near the Garibaldi statue, the board noted. Finally, people are hanging out in the park past the curfew and playing recorded music — which is technically amplified — and, needless to say, they don’t have a sound permit to do that. In short, C.B. 2 is calling for better enforcement in the park regarding excessively loud noise, skateboarding and violation of the curfew. On the latter, the board said the French barriers currently used to block the park entrances after the curfew are no obstacle to late-night parkgoers. As for the tunes, David Gruber, the board’s chairperson, said the real problem, as he sees it, is specifically latenight music, which “really penetrates the windows” of residents who live around the park’s northern and western edges. Phil Abramson, a Parks spokesperson, said the department will be assigning three more Park Enforcement Patrol officers to Washington Square, which already has three PEPs. “Two or three will be on duty at the same time, allowing for full coverage throughout the day and evening,” he said. The Washington Square Park Conservancy referred questions regarding the whole quality-of-life to-do to the Parks Department. Sarah Neilson, the conservancy’s executive director, said, “These issues are Parks Department matters and the Washington Square Park Conservancy has no involvement.” BORICUAS DO PARIS: Coach Damien Acevedo tells us that actor Luis Guzman, after recently hanging with the Lower East Side Lady Furies at the girls softball team’s last practice, was off to Europe, where he’s now busy filming his new flick, “Puerto Ricans in Paris,” which is slated for release next year. POLITICAL SCENE: Lois Rakoff recently attended a fundraiser at the famed Gargiulo’s on Coney Island for Domenic Recchia, who is challenging incumbent Michael Grimm for Congress in a Brooklyn-Staten Island district. Rakoff was a health and phys-ed teacher for Recchia when he was a teen growing up in Coney Island. “If he wins, New York will be all Democrat,” Rakoff noted of the city’s congressional delegation.



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August 7, 2014


D.I.D. members latest to be blown away by Zephyr BY LINCOLN ANDERSON



n May, the Downtown Independent Democrats voted “no endorsement at this time” for governor and lieutenant governor in the September Democratic primary. The Working Families Party was endorsing the next day, and D.I.D. was curious to see how that would turn out. Andrew Cuomo went on to win the W.F.P. nod over Zephyr Teachout, who then quickly decided to challenge Cuomo in the Democratic primary. Taking up unfinished business, then, D.I.D. members convened on July 28 at club president Jeanne Wilcke’s Bleecker St. loft apartment to hear a brief presentation by Teachout, and reconsider if they would endorse. The meeting didn’t include the full D.I.D. membership, since some members are out of town now, but rather was just the club’s Executive Committee. Teachout — a first-time candidate and Fordham Law School professor, has been embraced by Downtown progressive clubs, having won the support of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Village Indepen-

though she’s not ready yet to call what happened illegal. “I think we are at a really crucial point in our history,” Teachout said. Saying Cuomo has failed on his promise to clean up Albany, she said, “We are more beholden than ever to the oligarchs who say who gets tax breaks.” New York State has the most segregated schools in the nation, plus “a governor who will not answer if we will have fracking,” she added. Zephyr Teachout addressing the She said she wants to help small D.I.D. Executive Committee. businesses and prevent everything from becoming a “CVS, Duane Reade dent Democrats and Coalition for a or Bank of America, where every street looks the same.” District Alternative. New York must increase its renewThe week before, The New York Times published a bombshell Page 1 able energy, she continued, saying, article, reporting that Governor Cuo- “We have all the sun and wind and mo had hobbled his own now-defunct water we need.” She admitted she’s an underdog. Moreland Commission from probing groups with ties to him or issues that However, she said, “I am running to be governor, and I want to be govermight reflect poorly on him. Teachout has made fighting corrup- nor. Asking Teachout about campaign tion a key campaign plank. After the Times article, she called on Cuomo finance reform, District Leader Jenifer to resign if it’s true that a top aide of Rajkumar noted that a dissenting Suhis influenced the direction of the al- preme Court justice in the Citizens United case had cited Teachout. legedly independent panel. “We are one justice away from overOn Monday, she said Cuomo is T:8.75” “under a dark cloud” right now, turning Citizens United,” Teachout re-

sponded, beaming a smile. Pete Gleason, a former City Council candidate, asked about “local corruption,” specifically, the William Rapfogel case, in which embezzled funds were found in the former Met Council president’s residences, which he shares with his wife, Judy Rapfogel, chief of staff to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Rapfogel last week was sentenced to three and a half to 10 years in jail. “How does $450,000 wind up in the closet of [Silver’s] chief of staff, and the guy falls on his sword, and it goes away?” Gleason asked. In response, Teachout recalled how railroad barons and industrialists once ran the country, noting that unions, among other things, weakened their power. The D.I.D. members then reconvened at Von lounge, across the street, to discuss if they would endorse. “Overwhelmingly, the committee voted to recommend that D.I.D. members, at the next full membership meeting, endorse Zephyr Teachout for governor and her running mate, Timothy Wu, for lieutenant governor,” Wilcke later reported. “The general membership will decide the final endorsement in late August.”

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August 7, 2014

Nabe rallies to save Dr. Dave


ithin six days, 669 people joined the effort to keep Dr. David Ores right where he is. Ores received word two weeks ago that he had just five days to vacate his office, at 189 E. Second St., due to outstanding commercial taxes that his landlord, Permanence LP, said he owed. He quickly set to work not only to contest the outstanding taxes in court but also to secure $30,917.76 — the amount due, according to his landlord — through an online crowdfunding effort. By the time of his Housing Court appearance on the morning of Tues., July 29, he had received $34,715 in donations via By the time he left the courtroom, he and his landlord had agreed to enter into negotiations under which Ores will pay a still-undetermined amount of the back taxes, while avoiding any further threat of eviction from the space he has occupied for the last two years. “I want to pay my fair share,” Ores said after leaving the courtroom. Permanence LP representatives could not be reached for comment by press time. The two parties have until

Sept. 5 to reach an agreement, which will require the landlord to provide a certificate of tax before negotiations on a settlement can begin. Ores said the dispute began after he returned from a trip to New Orleans only to receive the five-day eviction notice. In his absence, he had missed a court appearance, of which he said he was unaware, resulting in Permanence LP receiving a default judgment against him. After contacting his landlord, Ores received a letter back in which the owner agreed to nullify the judgment. The ease with which his landlord helped him schedule a new court date demonstrated a desire to retain him as a tenant, Ores said. However, the cooperation came at a strange time, considering the ongoing legal case brought by Permanence LP against him, he added. “That’s a funny way of showing it,” Ores said. “I don’t think they’re being hostile,” he added. “I just think we should just have a payment plan.” Going to court could have been avoided, Ores said, had the landlord let him know within the last two years that he was expected to pay commercial taxes on his space. That he only found out at the very last minute that



Dr. Dave on Tuesday afternoon showing the latest total up to that point on the crowdfunding effort to help him keep his office space.

he would have to pay up or relocate his medical practice didn’t help the situation, either, he added. “This all happened because I did not have $30,000 in my pocket, and then the eviction guy came,” Ores said. Since hanging his shingle in the East Village, Ores has garnered media attention and community support for his “pay what you can” sliding-scale patient fees. Sporting heavily tattooed arms and a quick wit, he offered free food and medical care after Hurricane Sandy. In short, he represents a different type of doctor in a city filled with professional peers making the big bucks. Asked by The Villager how he makes a living with such a business model, Ores explained that he keeps costs down by running the office without any staff, while also cutting off those patients who have the means,

and make promises, but ultimately do not pay for his services. Josh Bisker, one of his patients, said Ores is an “East Village folk hero” whose “brusqueness” accentuates a certain type of gritty altruism. Contributors to the online fundraising effort added small notes of gratitude explaining how, in their time of need, Dr. Dave spared neither expense nor effort in helping them. Such a collective effort aimed at keeping him doing what he does makes Ores feel as if he were Jimmy Stewart’s character in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” he said. “This man saved me several times,” posted a contributor under the name Rex Roberts. “One time I fell over and needed 12 stitches on my knee. I had no insurance and Dr. Dave saved the day... . He helped my friend Carlos with his pinkeye, and he didn’t have any papers or insurance either.”

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Street sign dedicated for talented, tragic youth DASHANE, continued from p. 1


was the site of 129 total injuries — including to motor vehicle occupants, cyclists and pedestrians (10) — between 2006 and 2010, as well as one fatality from 2006 to 2012. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said in a statement that it took cooperation between the state and city to address the numerous safety concerns at the eastern end of Delancey St. that existed two and a half years ago when Dashane was killed. At that time, Dashane — who had a special ability for her age to forge relationships across generations — had her first job lined up at the U.S. Open, Borough President Gale Brewer said. The young girl’s tragic legacy will ensure the future safety of children and adults who cross the wide intersection just before the Williamsburg Bridge, added Brewer, whose own 14-year-old nephew died in a bicycle accident. Dashane’s name, Mendez said, will become synonymous with the ongoing effort to make the streets safer for all. Naming streets after traffic victims, she noted, can highlight the underlying goal of Vision Zero — the city’s effort to reduce traffic-related fatalities.

At Sunday’s dedication of Dashane Santana Way, from left, Teresa Pedroza, Shamika Benjamin — Dashane’s mother — Borough President Gale Brewer, Brian Bacchus Dashane’s grandfather — and Councilmember Rosie Mendez.

“If something good comes out of a tragedy, while it’s still sad, we need to be happy for the good,” Mendez said. Shamika Benjamin, Dashane’s mother, could not hide her grief as she spoke to the roughly three dozen people assembled for the occasion. Tears came to her eyes as she summed up the loss of her beloved daughter in one sentence.

“She’s gone but she will never be forgotten,” she said. Classmate Siniya Waller also succumbed to emotion as she addressed the crowd. She saw Dashane the day

RID leader beats gun rap BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


essica Berk, the leader of Residents in Distress, is feeling relieved after beating a gun charge. On March 31, during a court-ordered cleanup of the Christopher St. apartment she shares with her elderly mother, an unloaded .22-caliber pistol was found in the place. Berk — who founded the controversial anticrime group RID more than a decade ago — denied knowing the gun had been there, and said she didn’t know who it belonged to. Nevertheless, she was charged with misdemeanor criminal weapon possession in the fourth degree. A police escort had been requested for the cleanup, and so officers were there when the gun was found. Berk said her family has been in litigation with building management for 27 years. The gun reportedly fell from a file cabinet, either from on top of one or from a drawer. After the firearm’s discovery, Berk said she was taken to the Sixth Precinct, where she was held for 11 hours, much of that time with both a hand as well as an ankle cuffed to a bench. Two weeks ago in court, though, the weapon charge against the lifelong Villager, 55, was dropped. “The case was dismissed because it could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Joan Vollero, a


August 7, 2014

before her death, but would not attend school the next day. Another friend of Dashane’s, Turahn Woody, consoled Waller as he spoke of moments Dashane will never share with them. “If she was still here with us, she would have graduated with us in the same class, with a prom,” he said. Teresa Pedroza said in an interview that she found a new calling after her granddaughter’s death. Pedroza soon became involved not only in transportation activism but also housing and environmental justice. For the past year, she has also served on the Community Board 3 Transportation and Public Safety / Environment Committee. Pedroza’s helping others navigate the challenges of living in the Lower East Side all stems from the calamity of Dashane’s untimely death three weeks before her 13th birthday. “They don’t know how the system works,” Pedroza said, “and I just got caught up in this whirlwind and here I am today.”

spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney. According to a source, there was never any evidence of anyone owning the gun, and given the apartment’s extremely cluttered state, it simply couldn’t be proven whose it was. However, Berk rejected that justification for the case’s dismissal, retorting to The Villager, “The apartment wasn’t cluttered on the day the gun was found.” In April, Berk told The Villager she thought the pistol perhaps could have been planted by someone — multiple cleanup workers had been going in and out of the apartment at the time — or might have belonged to her late father, Leo Berk, who ran the Waverly Lounge from 1950 to 1970 and “dealt with a lot of gangsters.” Berk also wondered why police only arrested her and not her 90-year-old mother, who shares the apartment, though was staying at a facility at the time. Berk, who has sued the Sixth Precinct before for false arrest, is now preparing to sue again. “I’m suing the N.Y.P.D. and for damages for being shackled for 12 hours,” she said. “Of course, there are going to be supervisors who were involved who are liable in this. ... This arrest was a deliberate attempt to harass me.” The Sixth Precinct declined comment.

Dameht punks up the Pyramid club Friday nights The Pyramid has been hopping with free Friday night shows by pop-punk band Dameht (“The Mad,” backwards), who currently have a residency at the iconic Avenue A club. They’ll be there — featuring guitarist Lucas, below — for at least the next two Fridays, said Clayton Patterson, a big fan of the band. “It’s fun and it’s free,” Patterson said. “Drinks are cheap. It’s a great location. It’s the last venue — the last original club — that’s still in existence, that survived the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s.”


August 7, 2014


POLICE BLOTTER Homophobe slashes her

the strongest possible terms,” Chin said. “The woman who confronted this man during his hate-filled rant must be commended for her courageous and noble action, and I am deeply thankful that she did not suffer life-threatening injuries. My thoughts are with her, and I wish her a speedy recovery. “I thank the N.Y.P.D. for quickly arresting this suspect, and I hope and trust that he will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

According to police, around 10:40 p.m. on Fri., Aug. 1, a 32-year-old man walked up to a group of friends — a woman and two men — who were standing at the corner of Delancey and Essex Sts. and starting shouting antigay slurs at one of the men. The woman, 29, attempted to intervene by confronting the shouter and asking him to stop. When she approached him, the alleged perpetrator slashed her across the left side of her face with a sharp object, according to police. An off-duty police officer was reportedly exiting the nearby subway station, and chased down the assailant. The alleged attacker — identified as Takeam Brison, 32 —was arrested and is currently charged with felony assault as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon, a pocket knife. In addition, after he was in police custody, Brison reportedly also stated an antigay slur against the woman he slashed, according to police. According to the New York Post, Brison is a Bowery homeless shelter resident with a record dating back to the 1990s. The slashing victim was removed to Bellevue Hospital, where she received five stitches and was released, according to the Post. On Tues., Aug. 4, Councilmember Margaret Chin strongly condemned the attack and called for justice for the victim. “As with any violence that targets our L.G.B.T. New Yorkers or their supporters, I condemn this attack in

Damaged safe At 7:15 p.m. on Fri., July 25, police received a call alerting them that an unknown suspect broke into Creative Edge Parties, a catering business and store, at 110 Barrow St., while it was closed. The man is wanted for felony burglary charges. The unidentified man allegedly damaged a safe inside, but no property was stolen. According to police reports, it is unknown how the perpetrator entered the store, but there is video surveillance showing him leaving through the front door. The police investigation is still underway.

Sale goes to pot Two men were arrested at 5:50 p.m. last Friday for allegedly making a drug deal “open to public view” across the street from 26 Washington Square North, according to police reports. William Bogart, 45, and George Washington, 51, were arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for




A man, 28, reported at the Sixth Precinct on Sun., July 27, that his bag was stolen from the restaurant at the new Marlton Hotel, at 5 W. Eighth St. When he arrived at the stationhouse at 9 p.m., the man described leaving the bag unattended in the corner of the restaurant while he was eating, only to find, after his meal, that it had been taken. The backpack contained a black Lenovo laptop and a pair of prescription Ray-Ban sunglasses. The suspect — who is unknown at this time — is wanted on felony grand larceny charges. Police are currently investigating.

Meatpacking swipe At midnight on Sat., July 26, a female victim, 21, reported her bag stolen while she was at the Provocateur bar and nightclub, at 18 Ninth Ave. She told police she left her handbag on a bar counter for about five minutes, and “forgot about it.” As soon as she remembered, she went back to get it, but it was gone, according to police reports. Inside the bag was an iPhone 5s, valued at $200; a New York driver’s license; a Bank of America credit card; a Chase debit card, and a set of keys. The victim was alerted that her debit card was later used at


Coke, cash ’n’ computer On Mon., July 28, a 36-year-old man told police that while he was walking on MacDougal St., he was approached by a man who offered him cocaine. The man stated that he refused the offer, which was made at 5:50 a.m. in front of 333 Sixth Ave. The stranger — later identified as Melvin Johnson, 49 — then told the victim to sit down, making him “fear for his safety,” according to reports. The victim offered $20 so that he could be left alone, but Johnson reportedly asked for $60. The victim agreed, and went with Johnson to the store, where he reportedly purchased a pack of cigarettes in order to make change. Before going inside, he left his laptop with a man identified as Johnson’s friend, who was “watching his computer,” according to the report. When the man went back outside, Johnson’s accomplice and the laptop were gone, and Johnson then shoved the victim aside before attempting to leave. The victim was uninjured, and quickly alerted police. Johnson was arrested and charged with petty larceny, a misdemeanor. His accomplice is currently still wanted for stealing the laptop, valued at $700. Police are investigating the case.

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two different locations: a charge for $62 at Supreme Service, and a still pending charge at Shell Oil, at 117 Morningside Ave. The victim did not have a tracking app on her phone. A lost-and-stolen property report was filed by police, who are investigating.

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criminal sale of marijuana. One of them was observed exchanging a small object with the other for U.S. cash in a “manner visible to onlookers,” the police report said. When officers searched the two men, they recovered the alleged marijuana.


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The historic former farmhouse at 121 Charles St.

Fear that a developer could plow under little farmhouse BY SERGEI KLEBNIKOV


o Villagers’ dismay, a cherished farmhouse, one of Greenwich Village’s oldest buildings, recently went up for sale as a “development site.” The quaint former farmhouse sits at the corner of Charles and Greenwich Sts. Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, called the little white house “an icon and emblem of the historic West Village.” The 1,000-square-foot structure, plus its surrounding grounds, was listed for sale last month for $20 million by owner Suri Bieler, who bought it in 1988. The total property, at 4,868 square feet, offers the potential to “execute a wide variety of potential visions, from boutique condominiums, apartments or a one-of-a-kind townhouse,” according to the listing. After buying the house, Bieler and her husband, Eliot Brodsky, restored it and added a room for their young son. Bieler told The New York Times in 2008 that she had “pined for the house since she was a child in the 1960s.” Her broker, Andrew Greenberg, of ERG Property Advisors, didn’t respond to requests for comment. The house is believed to date from the 1800s, but wasn’t in the Village until 1967. It was formerly located at York Ave. and E. 71st St. But when the Archdiocese planned to raze it for senior housing, the owner moved it by trucks down to Charles St. The house has literary and cultural significance, too. Margaret Wise

Brown, author of the children’s picture book “Goodnight Moon,” lived in it in the 1940s. The farmhouse is in a historic district, so it is landmarked. Berman detailed the lengthy process a developer would face to try to demolish the building and rebuild on the site. After filing an application, the developer would have to present the plan publicly at both Community Board 2 and the Landmarks Preservation Commission, before a final, binding vote by the latter. A Department of Buildings permit would be needed to modify or raze the existing structure. “Any application would face strong opposition,” Berman assured. However, none have been filed. “Right now, it’s just a lot of speculation,” he noted. G.V.S.H.P. is “closely monitoring the situation,” he said. The society is collecting historical information, to be prepared to fight a potential project. Thomas and Elizabeth Glass, the son and daughter of the owners who moved the farmhouse to the Village, have reportedly reached out to G.V.S.H.P., offering historic information on the building and their help to protect it. Outside 121 Charles St. this week, local residents and Village lovers expressed concern about the building’s fate. One neighbor, walking her dogs, said, “It would be a shame,” if it were razed. Martha Botts, who frequently visits her daughter, who lives nearby, said destroying the humble home would be “against the spirit of the West Village.”

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Croman ‘pattern of harassment’ must end, pols say CROMAN, continued from p. 1

response from local housing advocacy group Good Old Lower East Side, or GOLES. In a statement, the company said, “9300 Realty takes its obligations as a landlord very seriously. Our track record of providing safe and reliable housing for both market-rate and rent-stabilized tenants speaks for itself and should not be marred by a small but vocal group of individuals. We have reached out to GOLES on multiple occasions to address any concerns they may have about the building or its management. Despite this good-faith effort, GOLES has so far been unresponsive to our requests to engage in a constructive dialogue on this issue. As a landlord, we take pride in having positive relationships with our tenants and we invite them to keep us informed of any issues in need of attention.” “The building” in question is 346 E. 18th St., where — as profiled in an article in last week’s issue of The Villager — tenants charge they have faced harassment, as well as struggled to have outstanding building violations addressed, among other issues. Wasim Lone, director of housing services at GOLES, confirmed that the organization chose not to respond to Croman representatives. He said that he, along with members of the Stop Croman Coalition, instead decided that providing their side of the story to the Attorney General’s Office would be more “productive.” “Given the severity of the harassment taking place in multiple buildings, the coalition made the decision that we would not sit and negotiate with him,” he said. Saying they have fielded a litany of complaints against Croman from their constituents, a group of local politicians — Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, state senators Daniel Squadron and Brad Hoylman, Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilmembers Rosie Mendez and Margaret Chin — issued their joint statement on July 31. “Steven Croman’s pattern of tenant harassment must come to an end,” they said. “Tenants from his buildings have contacted us with accounts of chronic harassment and intimidation — including disruptive building maintenance, frivolous lawsuits and, most egregiously, the dispatching of a ‘private investigator’ to apartments to intimidate tenants.” Schneiderman’s office declined to comment for this article on whether Croman’s company is actually currently subject of an investigation. According to a source, however, at least one local politician and one local housing advocacy agency have supplied information to the A.G.’s office. In addition, the Daily News, in a July 26 article, reported that, according to a source, Croman is now being probed for using illegal tactics to force out rent-regulated tenants. For the article about Croman in last week’s issue, the A.G.’s office did issue a statement, which was first published in The Villager. “We are prepared to take action against landlords who use illegal tactics to force rent-regulated tenants out of their homes to raise rents,” the statement read. Longtime tenants allege that Anthony Falco-


August 7, 2014

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

nite, a former New York Police Department officer, would enter their homes under false pretenses, then badger them in hopes of proving that they were not living full-time in apartments. Falconite would also pressure tenants to accept buyouts to vacate their apartments, tenants say.

‘We are prepared to take action against landlords who use illegal tactics.’ Eric Schneiderman

Two weeks ago, Schneiderman issued a “cease and desist” order against Falconite, barring him from further alleged harassment. Falconite has not responded to requests for comment from this paper. Additional tenant allegations against Croman specify that requested repairs have not been made, unsafe construction has been performed and frivolous lawsuits launched against long-

time tenants who refuse to move out. “We went to court on July 30 and the Legal Aid lawyers tried to get the case dismissed, but Croman’s lawyers refused to drop it, and instead are trying to evict us,” said Cynthia Chaffee, a 37-year resident of E. 18th St., in an e-mail. “We have another court case scheduled for Sept. 4, so that we must now subpoena [representatives of] Section 8 to appear on our behalf.” She has battled Croman for years to accept the Section 8 federal rent subsidy, as well as on other issues since 1999, she said. “When we were first accepted to the Section 8 program in 2007, Croman refused to accept our Section 8 voucher,” she said. “Croman did not sign it until 2008, when we were finally able to begin Section 8 on Nov. 1, 2008. We wouldn’t have it without [then-] state Senator Tom Duane having his staff personally go to Croman’s office and wait there until they signed the papers, and then personally hand-deliver it to the Section 8 office in the Bronx,” she added. In contrast to other notable local developers, such as Ben “Sledgehammer” Shaoul and Jared Kushner, Croman tends to hold onto properties for the long term rather than flipping new acquisitions for a quick profit. The sheer size of the Croman real estate portfolio (about 150 buildings in Manhattan) also distinguishes him from other landlords in the East Village and L.E.S., where longtime residents continue to try to resist the pressures of gentrification. “He has a really wide reach,” said Yonatan Tadele, an organizer with the Cooper Square Committee. “When you couple how many units he has with his behaviors, you have a really dangerous influence in our area.” Investigations by the state attorney general into city landlords are “not uncommon,” according to Lucas Ferrara, an adjunct professor of real estate at N.Y.U. School of Law and a practicing attorney. He said that landlord-tenant issues in the city have always been “contentious” and “adversarial.” The nature of the city’s housing system leads to inevitable clashes, especially considering the money at stake, he added. “When you have a statutory structure — like rent control and rent stabilization — that maintains rents at artificially low, below-market thresholds, that will often serve to fuel conflicts,” he said. “You’ve got some tenants gaming the system — hoarding regulated units, even though they really live elsewhere. As long as there’s an upside to having a below-market tenant legally and lawfully evicted, so that rents can be raised, why wouldn’t an owner want to exercise that right?” However, an investigation of Croman by Schneiderman seems like it would be more than a typical one, from the sound of it. And the fact that the A.G. has already ordered Falconite to cease and desist from alleged harassment of tenants isn’t exactly common, either. Finally, the sheer volume of tenant complaints lodged against Croman, over so many years, in so many buildings, and in multiple neighborhoods — and the fact that a half dozen local politicians are now declaring that this “pattern of harassment” must end — doesn’t seem so common, either.

Planned Service Changes

ACE Aug 11-15 10 PM to 5 AM | Mon to Fri No trains at ACE stations between 59 St-Columbus Circle and Jay St-MetroTech. A and E trains are rerouted via the 6 Av Line. C service ends early each night. A trains are rerouted via the D and F as follows: 1. Trains run via the D between 59 St-Columbus Circle and 34 St-Herald Sq. 2. Trains run via the F between 34 St-Herald Sq and Jay St-MetroTech. E trains are rerouted via the M and F in Manhattan as follows: 1. Trains run via the M in both directions between 5 Av/53 St and 34 St-Herald Sq. 2. Trains run via the F in both directions between 34 St-Herald Sq and the 2 Av F station, the last stop. No trains between World Trade Center and 7 Av. TRAVEL ALTERNATIVES • Use 6 Av DF stations to connect with rerouted AE trains. • Take 123456 for service to/from Lower Manhattan. • Take 12 for service to/from 34 St-Penn Station and Times Sq/42 St-Port Authority Bus Terminal. Stay Informed Call 511 and say “Current Service Status,” look for informational posters in stations, or visit where you can access the latest Planned Service Changes information, use TripPlanner+, and sign up for free email and text alerts.

2014 Metropolitan Transportation Authority

August 7, 2014


However... Professor Irwin Corey turns 100!

Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN











Professor Irwin Corey, “The World’s Foremost Expert,” celebrated his 100th birthday Tuesday evening at the Actors Temple, on W. 47th St. Among the more than 100 friends in attendance at the stand-up great’s b’day bash — many of them actors and comics — were Joe Franklin, who told a few jokes; Gilbert Gottfried; Randy Credico, at far left, the comedian turned Democratic governor candidate —  yes, he is on the ballot! — Larry “Ratso” Sloman, author of autobiographies on Bob Dylan and Mike Tyson and ghost writer for Howard Stern; Jim Drougas, owner of Unoppressive, NonImperialist Bargain Books, on Carmine St.; vaudeville scion Janna Ritz; songwriter Irving Drake, not doing too shabby himself at age 95; Villager Jessica Berk, of Residents in Distress; and of course, Rabbi Jill, of the Actors Temple. The event was organized by Bob Greenberg, and Joe Friendly filmed the whole thing to be made into a movie. There were two open mics, one at Corey’s table, and a steady stream of jokes and responses. Corey told the one about when the Communist Party wouldn’t let him join in the 1940s — because he was too much of an anarchist. Corey wore a few different hats, literally, including one with his famous opening line, “However.” “It was just fun,” said Drougas, who has been a lifetime fan of Corey and a friend for the past 15 years. “There was just a whole sweetness throughout the evening. I’ve been to a lot of his birthday parties, but this was special.”



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The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for others errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue. Published by NYC Community Media, LLC

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Woo! Do the bump(s)!

Schneiderman is the man

To The Editor: Re “New E.V. slow zone, with 20 m.p.h. limit, is fast approaching” (news article, July 24): The speed bumps will be launching platforms for skateboarders and may screw up snow removal. But over all, for an old codger like me with poor sight and hearing, the 20-mile-perhour zone could be a lifesaver.

To The Editor: Re “A.G. orders Croman goon to stop harassing rent-regulated tenants” (news article, July 31): Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is the best thing to happen to tenants in New York in decades. He runs circles around the governor in defending our rights and making things better for workaday renters. Thank goodness we elected him.

Richard Kopperdahl

SOUND OFF! Write a letter to the editor

Schneiderman’s fight against Croman, and what the A.G. did for that building on Linden St. in Brooklyn — just amazing. I’m a rent-stabilized tenant and I know he has my back. Thank you, Eric. Marina Metalios

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 515 Canal St., Suite 1C, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.

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August 7, 2014

Jobs, A to Z: My alphabet soup of a working life NOTEBOOK BY JENNY KLION


ear Human Resources,

And as for L, I’m a Letter Writer, both professional and otherwise. See The New York Times, New York Daily News and the bottom of my desk drawer.   I’m also a Mother, obviously, been a Mask Maker, and even a bad Magician for a while, when I was that Emcee that one time, before that was a thing.   I’ve worked for Nonprofits, had a Newspaper Column, and was a Natural Foods Breakfast Cook at a theater school in the middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin. I was also an Opera singer in Edinburgh and Philadelphia, playing Mrs. Rockefeller, among others, which demonstrates I know how to hang with the big boys.   I work in Publishing, as a Proofreader, sometimes; am a Playwright, kind of, I like to say so; and also have Performed as a Puppeteer with Big Apple Circus, among others. You can actually see part of my shadow-Puppet act in Woody Allen’s movie “Alice,” which was way before HE had a thing.   I’ve even nearly been a Quadriplegic, though not exactly, though I once had to spend over four weeks in the spinal cord injury rehab center at Mt. Sinai Hospital. This wasn’t a job per se, but it seemed like it was.   I’ve been a Receptionist, and still work as a Reader, of book manuscripts and film lit, a thankless job for sure, no matter how many times I am right. I was also on the Rigging Crew for Philippe Petit, when he walked a high wire across the constellations at the top of Grand Central Station.   I was a Sax player, at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco — ripped a Solo on “Frosty the Snowman” — been a Scallop Shucker, Sandwich Maker, Sauté Cook, Short Order Cook — on


Governor Cuomo should be careful what he says he’s wishing for.


Your assistant mentioned you were having trouble placing me, so I’ve enclosed a revised résumé, alphabetized, mostly, for your convenience. Thanks for taking a closer look.   Best, Jenny Klion     I’ve been an Apprentice for the Pickle Family Circus in San Francisco, but that was a long time ago.   Also, a Barista at a comedy club in San Francisco, before Barista was a thing. I’m always there before something is a thing. I even flirted with that old “SNL”’er Rob Schneider there, before he was a thing...   I’ve been a Comedian, for like two seconds, a Circus Clown, and a Cook on a fishing boat. Also, a Copy Editor for a variety of smut houses — because grammar is very important in pornography.   I was a Dental Assistant, for one Day, and also a Dancer. Plus a Dishwasher at an Italian restaurant when I was 17, which was so Disgusting, I left to be that Cook on a fishing boat.   I’ve been an Essay Writer, an Essay Writer Winner, and an Emcee at a performance art club, before that was a thing. But also a French Fry Cook at a Hard Rock Cafe, where I first started to question the nature of my existence.   I’ve been a Grant Getter, and Game Show Writer, plus a Hollywood Studio Executive, for Jim Henson Pictures, during which time my beautiful daughter was born.   I Interviewed Dick King Smith, of “Babe” fame — in case anybody remembers that sweet pig movie — for a Scholastic magazine.

Also a Juggler, Jewelry Maker and my personal favorite, Jewelry Finder. This means I find jewelry and gems everywhere, and turned THAT into a business.   K, maybe I’m a Kiss Ass, it’s possible.

Jenny Klion in a coyote shadow mask, at Big Apple Circus’s “Grandma Goes West,” in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park in, 1989.

the midnight shift even — plus a Script Adaptor, Script Consultant, Seamstress and Substitute Teacher.   Also, Trout Cook, at a restaurant designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and once worked one half of one day at a Taco Bell, in Santa Cruz, California. You had to wear that horrible uniform, clean the counters every five seconds, and when I saw my then-crush walk through the front door, I left on my lunch break and never went back.   I’ve been an Understudy, an Underground Bakery Owner and an Unemployment Receiver.   V is for Violin, but no, I never did that. I never ran a Victory Lap either. Though maybe in that rehab center, when I could walk again, after I couldn’t. Further information upon request.   I’ve been a Waitress, and a Wire Walker myself, but don’t get too excited — the cables were crotch level only.   W is also for Writer, Writer’s Assistant and Wishing I’d gotten the credit I deserve on that Tony-nominated musical and that celebrity chef memoir.   I’ve been an Xtra on a number of movie sets, almost always in black films, including for Spike Lee and Eddie Murphy, and even twerked in the house of a Run-DMC video, before that was a thing.   Young Playwrights, NYC hired me for my first script-reading job.   And, nothing Z. I’m a lot of hot air, actually. Though Zachariah Zembrowsky was the name of my daughter’s first — and last — boyfriend. August 7, 2014


Carey Vennema, 93, leader in Save the Village effort OBITUARY BY BETSY HUMES


arey Vennema died peacefully in his home in the West Village on July 24, surrounded by his family. He was 93. Vennema was an iconic Village character, recognized by his wild head of hair as he sped along the neighborhood’s streets on his threespeed bicycle, legal briefs strapped into the child seat. An eccentric intellectual activist, he found his calling in community engagement to protect the artistic, offbeat and tolerant West Village where he made his home. He was born March 18, 1921, to Mildred Carey and Augustus Whiton Vennema in Passaic, N.J. He attended the Passaic Collegiate School, and graduated from the Choate School and Amherst College. He received his law degree from New York University School of Law in 1958. Vennema was a World War II veteran, having trained in the French-speaking cryptologic unit of the U.S. Army. During law school, he met Mary Holly Webb, then a student at Union Theological Seminary, and the two married in 1956 and lived together in Greenwich Village. Following law school, he became involved with numerous West Village civic organizations. Evicted from his brownstone apartment on Charles St., which was razed to make way for an apartment building, he understood first-hand the threats facing his neighborhood during that era: Real estate development, rising rents and urban renewal projects were causing the disappearance of the bohemian lifestyle and the marginalization of the artistic community. To combat the relentless pressure from real estate developers, he joined Save the Village. Working with Ed Koch on the group’s Attorneys Committee, Vennema passionately pushed the organization’s agenda to fight evictions, seek rent protection and lobby for legislative and zoning amendments to preserve the architecture and character of the Village. As Robert Moses targeted the Village and surrounding neighborhoods for urban renewal, Vennema worked with Jane Jacobs to defend the streets and blocks of the Village through grassroots efforts, mobilizing the expertise of local residents — from engineers to politicians to real estate agents. Vennema and his colleagues meticulously surveyed the area to document house, street and block conditions, and also used demographic information about residents to refute claims of urban blight


August 7, 2014

Carey Vennema.

in their neighborhood. His innovative use of tax records to disprove claims of urban blight was later recognized by Jane Jacobs as a key strategy to vanquishing Robert Moses’ plan to demolish large swaths of the Village. Seeking to maintain the Village’s bohemian culture, Vennema worked with Carol Greitzer as treasurer of the Committee for Artist Housing. He served as the lead attorney for the group, securing support of local assemblymembers and the Department of Buildings to amend the building code to allow artists to live legally in their studios. This amendment resulted in the initial conversion project at 799 Greenwich St., which served as a blueprint for artist housing at Westbeth and later, Soho and Tribeca. On April 29, 1969, 10 years after the establishment of Save the Village, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission made the groundbreaking decision to declare a 65-block area of Greenwich Village a historic district, the largest of its kind in the United States, and the prototype for other neighborhoods, such as Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope and others across the country, preserving historic neighborhoods for future generations. Putting his expertise in zoning to service for his beloved summer community on Swan’s Island, Maine, Vennema worked with the island’s selectmen to draft the first Shoreland Zoning Ordinance and Clam Ordinance to preserve and protect the island’s natural resources. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Holly; his children, Amy Vennema and Betsy Humes, of Park Slope, Brooklyn, Willa Vennema, of Portland, Maine, and Kenneth Vennema, of Sugar Land, Texas; 10 grandchildren and an extended family of loving in-laws. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Elder Care Outreach of Swan’s Island c/o Donna Wiegel.

An organizing flier by Save the Village to fight Robert Moses’ urban renewal plans in the Village.

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A fresh batch of usual suspects Themes emerge among FringeNYC’s 200 shows


The New York International Fringe Festival A production of The Present Company Through Aug. 24 Weekdays, 2 p.m. – midnight Weekends, 12 p.m. – midnight Tickets: $18 Advance Purchase: By Smartphone: Credit Card purchase at the Box Office Cash sales only at FringeCentral PHOTO BY REBECCA SEAMAN

(114 Norfolk St., btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.)



eneral Manager Christian De Gré is happy about the large dark cloud hovering over this year’s New York International Fringe

Festival. Other than its abbreviation — FringeNYC — there’s nothing small-scale about this 17-day, 18-venue East and West Village marathon of comedy, drama, music, and dance. For the 200 applicants chosen (out of roughly 800 hopefuls), being part of FringeNYC gives them a globally recognized resume credit whose implied credibility will never fade. So why all the glum faces? “This year, in terms of submissions,” says De Gré of the jury process, “we had a lot of shows about death and suicide.” They include “The Most Fun Funeral,” “Fatty Fatty No Friends,” “Depression: The Musical,” “The Death Monologues,” “Clive Barker’s History of the Devil” and “Campo Maldito” — which, De Gré says, “is about ghosts and Santeria priests. There’s also a lot of [shows about] bullying and abuse, so it’s

Tennessee’s Drifting Theatre company’s “Human” gives body to the unseen changeling boy character from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

darker than usual.” Every year, notes De Gré, FringeNYC seems to have at least one recurring motif. Audiences should consider themselves lucky to find so much doom and gloom on the boards in 2014, given the alternative. “As we were doing the panel work one year,” recalls De Gré, “a Martha Stewart theme emerged.” Happily, times have changed and the zeitgeist has shifted — so this year, you won’t see any self-satisfied residents of Connecticut demonstrating the proper technique for fashioning birdhouses out of gourds. There will, however, be another entry in the very long tradition of wringing comedy and pathos from Utah’s favorite religion. Years before Broadway embraced “The Book of

Mormon,” FringeNYC was on that bandwagon, presenting more than a few shows in which Mormons struggled with their sexuality (a topic that’s produced both compelling and cringe-worthy iterations). At least this year’s entry, “The Mormon Bird Play,” has a legitimate claim to being original — billing itself as “a Mormon fantasia” in which “six men play little girls who become birds that manifest themselves as Mormon temple workers and pioneer women.” Oh, and also? There’s burlesque! “The festival is reflective of the submissions,” says De Gré, in an attempt to bring some sense FRINGENYC, continued on p.16 August 7, 2014


Plays, characters, arcade games: FRINGENYC, continued from p. 15


“Twelfth Night” happens twice at this year’s Fringe — first, in the form of a time/space-tripping production from the Manhattan-based Helikon Rep company. Billed as a “spinning, provocative exploration of desire,” their gender-bending production of “The Sun Experiments” has, among its three love triangles, the pursuit of Eros by philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. With 10 songs inspired by the play’s opening line (“If music be the food of love, play on”), Essential Theatre Group’s “Twelfth Night” reimagines the comedic tale of shipwrecked siblings as a folk musical. A FringeHIGH (as in, High School) production, it’s fit for consumption by all ages. Find out how director Tony Lance made Shakespeare’s text sing, when he takes part in an Aug. 12 panel discussion about stage adaptations (see the FringeU section, at When you’re playing a character who’s feigning madness, it helps to possess a spark of genuine insanity.



of logic into a juried process that would champion the supremely odd abovementioned narrative. “We find the interesting ones,” he proudly asserts, in what might be the understatement of the year. Hey, if you want the spit, polish and safety of a Broadway production, take the train a few dozen blocks Uptown. Below 14th Street, for two weeks in August, it’s all about embracing the edge by surfing the Fringe. Even the odd stuff, though, tends to break down along party lines — so here are our top picks from this year’s batch of (highly unusual) usual suspects. Crowded head case: David Carl plays one guy playing all the characters, in “Gary Busey’s One Man Hamlet.”

That’s the beautiful logic behind this farce from comedian David Carl. “Gary Busey’s One Man Hamlet” finds the off-kilter Hollywood actor using homemade puppets, videos, live music and poetry to mount his own production. The personal demons Busey injects into his melancholy Dane might just pale in comparison to the indignities suffered by “BURBAGE: The Man Who made Shakespeare Famous.” In this comedy from the Bay Colony Shakespeare Company, Richard Burbage (“the world’s first Hamlet”) sounds off on life as an interpreter of the Bard — which includes copious amounts of backstage politics and sex! July on Fire Island turns out to be no vacation, when four unsuspecting men are stranded there by “The Hurricane.” With book, music and lyrics by Bjorn Berkhout, this take on “The Tempest” has the transgender Madam Sparrow assuming

Prospero’s function — by using a mojo-infused monkey paw to conjure the titular storm and trap her quarry. Can she and teenage daughter Ariel exact their revenge before the spell’s 24-hour winds die down? Three productions use good old Willy S. as a key ingredient or jumping off point. “Wing to the Rooky Wood” is a multi-media production by Brooklyn’s Renaissance Now Theatre & Film company, which incorporates elements of Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights” and Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” Photographic imagery and dynamic physical gestures are used to tell the story of all three classics. MAUS Theater of Berlin also does the mash, with “Come Thick Night,” in which a young woman’s nightmare about patricide has elements of Ingmar Bergman movies, Elvis Presley music and “Macbeth” plot points. Coming to us by way of a New Orleans Fringe run, the Elizabethton, TN-based DriftingTheatre company’s rumination on an unseen character from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is heavy on forests, fairies and fanciful backstories. “Human” fleshes out the changeling boy — here, imagined as a mortal named Kellen who must navigate a destructive, planet-endangering rift between Queen Titania and King Oberon.


By day, Samuel Pitt Stoller teaches psychology to undergraduates at Hunter College — but by night, the Great Neck, NY-born headshrinker has been toiling away at the largely thankless job of budding comedy writer. His throwback subject matter: the pipe-traversing plumbers Mario and Luigi, whose Nintendo/ Super Nintendo adventures left an indelible impression on the 1984born gamer. But where are they now? Stoller’s musical comedy, “Jump Man,” answers that question, then sends the brothers on a redemptive quest. Retired from the rescue racket, our story opens in an unassuming Brooklyn plumbing shop. Having taken former Mushroom World princess Peach as his bride, Mario’s content — while Luigi dreams of past glories (when he’s not out cold due to excessive alcohol consumption). Then fate comes knocking, when people start mysteriously disappearing from the neighborhood. Could long-dead nemisis Bowser be the culprit? Luigi jumps at the chance to be a hero again, but Mario wants to stay put. Stoller’s musical parody has all the thematic tropes and visual trappings FRINGENYC, continued on p. 17

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August 7, 2014



Who says donkeys don’t work hard? First it’s a game, then it’s a film, now it’s a show: Amber Ruffin and Lauren Van Kurin, in “King of Kong: A Musical Parody.”

FringeNYC has the classics covered FRINGENYC, continued from p. 16

of the games he grew up on — but why do his plumbers sing? “The musical compositions in the Mario Brothers series are legitimately masterful,” he asserts, on the project’s successful Kickstarter page. Poised to make its debut at Theatre 80, Stoller’s hoping to score some points with tunes of his own. Elsewhere in the East Village (at The Players Theatre), another classic arcade game gets the musical comedy treatment. Written by “Late Night with Seth Meyers” scribe Amber Ruffin and Second City alum Lauren Van Kurin, “King of Kong: A Musical Parody” is a two-person comedy. It’s inspired by the 2007 documentary, “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters” — an alternately poignant and pitiful look at two men vying to reach the highest Donkey Kong score.

Back in 2012, longtime West Village resident D’Yan Forest (then, age 77) became the oldest solo show performer in FringeNYC history, with “I Married a Nun” — her ukulele-strumming tale of bisexuality. Since then, she’s been touring with the equally zesty (and somewhat less smutty) bilingual cabaret show, “Around the World in 80 Years.” A trio of 2014 shows are generating the kind of pre-performance buzz that Forest enjoyed, and not just because they fit the senior-themed profile (although they’re not above using that as a hook). “Tales From Geriassic Park: On the Verge of Extinction” finds seventysomething Verna Gillis (“Her niche is aging!”) embracing the march of time. It’s no wonder this gig is billed as a “One Older-Woman Reading” of a work in progress. You’d need notes too, if you had earned a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology, spent 1972-1978 recording traditional music throughout the world, founded the American International Sculptors Symposium, developed the Poetry in Public Places initiative, and opened Soundscape — the first multi-cultural music performance space in New York City (1979-1984). You’ll hear about it all, plus get some zingers from her recently published book of one-liners (“I Just Want to be Invited — I Promise Not to Come”). Not to be outdone in the life-livedwell department, Joan Shepard’s “Confessions of Old Lady #2” garnered four stars from the London



In “Murder Margaret and Me,” Janet Prince does double duty: as British thespian Margaret Rutherford and Miss Marple creator Agatha Christie.

Times. It’s a musical memoir of her long career — which goes from an age seven appearance in Laurence Olivier’s 1940 Broadway production of “Romeo & Juliet” all the way up to a recent gig on HBO’s “Girls.” Between those brackets, she was a radio Quiz Kid and a pioneer of 1950s television who founded the River Rep Theatre Company with actor husband Evan Thompson, raised two kids and had memorable runins with Lenny Bruce and Elvis. She gives James Bond and Sherlock Holmes a run for their money, when it comes to successful screen adaptations — but when Margaret Rutherford was cast as Miss Marple, Agatha Christie voiced displeasure at having her unassuming spinster sleuth played by “the funniest woman alive.” As told by the solo show “Murder Margaret and Me,” Christie eventually forged a bond with Rutherford — then did some sleuthing and excavated a few dark secrets that could have been torn from the pages of a Marple mystery. Janet Prince brings the author and the actress to life, in the show’s U.S. debut (it’s been garnering raves ever since

a sold-out run at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe).


None other than Dave Chappelle — a genuine comedic genius — has declared Filipina-American character actress Nicole Maxali’s “Forgetting The Details” to be “funny, heart-warming and funny again.” The funny part comes from Maxali’s ability to add fresh ingredi-

ents to a familiar solo show recipe (the old family conflict and ethnic heritage routine). The heart-warming part comes from her witty and rambunctious grandmother’s slow slide into an Alzheimer’s haze. The funny again part? Well, that’s the good news. Maxali never really does stop finding amusing ways to mine humor from the nasty scars made by her absentee mother, pothead father and reckless youth. Neglecting her ailing grandmother while using the family as material for comedy shows, Maxali is all alone by the time she links that genetic predisposition for abandonment to her own years of isolation and rebellion. It’s a stunning realization that stays with you long after the last joke is told. Lifting its title from a song lyric that expresses the bliss of finding crystal clarity on the FM radio dial, “No Static At All” is Alex Knox’s quest to locate his own perfect frequency — by reconstructing how an intense bond with his best high school friend, Josh, was forged and broken. When confident Josh ventures into the world only to have his mind further clouded by each new idea he embraces, Knox clings to occasional moments of contact with his fading friend — then finds comfort in the Walter Becker/Donald Fagen dynamic behind Steely Dan’s complex musical arrangements. He also sees himself in a Biblical tale of twin brothers, eventually grasping at a possible connection between his own estranged relationship and a recently unearthed relic in Israel. Writer and performer Knox is more than a conspiracy theorist throwing a pity party. He’s an introspective searcher working his way towards the realization that nobody can depend on a single band, buddy, or belief system. Vote of confidence: FRINGENYC, continued on p. 18

Theater for the New City • 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit




Coming August 2nd...




THE WORLD TAKES A “SELFIE” A New Musical for the Street Written, Directed and Lyrics by CRYSTAL FIELD Music Composed by JOSEPH VERNON BANKS August 9 - September 14 Fri (6:30PM), Saturday & Sunday, 2pm This Weekend’s Four Shows are: Sat, August 9th, 2pm- Tompkins Square Park at E. 7th St. & Ave. A, Manhattan Sun, August 10th, 2pm- Herbert Von King Park at Marcy & Tompkins, Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn Fri, August 15th, 6:30pm- Coney Island Boardwalk at W 10th St., Brooklyn Sat, August 16th 2pm- Jackie Robinson Park, W 147th St. & Bradhurst Ave., Manhattan TNC’s Programs are funded in part by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts

August 7, 2014


FringeNYC FRINGENYC, continued from p. 17

“No Static At All” won the Best Solo Performance award at the 2013 Hollywood Fringe. Bonus vote of confidence, followed by a metaphor: This show has lots of Steely Dan music — with Knox making the case for its lasting appeal, despite some acknowledged shortcomings. Okay. Strictly speaking, it’s not a solo show. Writer and performer Marianne Pillsbury does, after all, share the stage with a Greek chorus that gives life to the multitude of voices in her head — and there are so many, they handily outnumber the amount of people on stage during the curtain call at “Les Misérables.” Now add in a few dancing prescription pills, a therapist named Joy and a recurring bit that has Pillsbury channeling Bob Newhart (by way of one-sided phone conversations with her well-intentioned, soul-crushing mom). The result, we’re happy to report, is “Depression: The Musical.” Built on the solid foundation of a time-tested comedic device (the

self-deprecating neurotic), writer and main performer Pillsbury graduates quickly from Woody Allen territory by functioning as more of a tart observer than a cynical nebbish. Presenting her story as a “darkly humorous but ultimately uplifting pop-rock musical about falling apart and putting yourself back together” (that’s her one-line pitch) also sweetens the pot — and then, there’s the sudden appearance of a lesbian love interest whose own baggage gives new AA member Pillsbury the self-improvement project she’s been looking for. “When you do get some relief from fixating on yourself and everything that’s wrong with your own life, it might occur to you that you can help fix someone else!” says Pillsbury, who soon finds herself alone again and forced to take a good, long look in the mirror. Fortunately for us, her life-altering breakthrough comes in the form of a song whose title makes a pretty good mantra, no matter what your state of mental health is: “Oh, I’ve Gotta Let Go.”


The Tao of Dan: Steely fan Alex Knox seeks clarity, in “No Static At All.” PHOTO BY RAY JUN

Nothing but boxes and memories: “Forgetting The Details” has Nicole Maxali reconstructing her relationship with a victim of Alzheimer’s.


Funny, in a tragic kind of way: Marianne Pillsbury and the Greek chorus cast of “Depression: The Musical.”


August 7, 2014

Get summer schooled at FringeU Educational arm of FringeNYC has creative reach PANELS FringeU Part of FringeNYC Runtime: 75 min. Free At 1 p.m. Mon., Tues. & Wed. Aug. 11-13 & 18-20 At FringeCENTRAL 114 Norfolk ST. (btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.) After conversation at FringeCENTRAL & on Also visit




welve years and a few months ago, I said — in public, without thinking much about it — “ will review every show in the New York International Fringe Festival this year.” I said it because it seemed like a cool idea — one of those Mount Everest-ish sort of milestones worth trying to accomplish — and, much more importantly, because every show that participates in FringeNYC deserves to get at least one review (and too many of them weren’t getting that). Well, we figured out how to review every show in the 2002 FringeNYC. Since then, published a review of every show, every year. We did it in the blackout year, and we did it in the year when a hurricane forced the festival to close early. This year, the same comprehensive coverage moves to our new online home, (the successor to Our approach is to have dozens of theater artists write the reviews. Many of them are FringeNYC veterans, while others are relative newcomers to the NYC theater scene, looking to immerse themselves in

Noah Diamond is a panelist at the Aug. 12 FringeU discussion about stage adaptations. Seen here as Groucho, Diamond used old press clippings, original author notes and new material to bring a 1924 Marx Bros. stage revue (“I’ll Say She Is”) to FringeNYC.

their community. So please bookmark nytheaternow. com/Category/FringeNYC/2014, for reviews of all 200 shows in the festival, plus a host of preview features — from interviews with playwrights, to podcasts, to a series of articles that I’ve written based on many hours of research and surveys (honest!) of this year’s participating artists. One of the most potent aspects of FringeNYC is that it brings well over 100 new American plays and musicals to NYC theatergoers for its twoweek stay in the Lower East Side,

East Village and West Village. Think about it: commercial and mainstream nonprofit NYC theaters support perhaps a few dozen new American plays per season, while FringeNYC provides the opportunity to see more than a hundred in just two weeks — most of them from emerging, undiscovered, and/or underrepresented voices. It’s not only exhilarating, it’s essential and vital. Understanding this is what made me decide to launch Indie Theater Now ( in 2011 with a collection of scripts from

FringeNYC’s beginnings in 1997 through the present. Indie Theater Now is a place where you can discover great new American dramas in script form. We’ve published collections of excellent, innovative new scripts from each FringeNYC since then, and we’ll be searching for plays for our 2014 collection this month as well. As I say, it’s all about discovery! We want folks to find the work that will speak to them, in performance and in person, and later on the (virtual) page, to read, study, and perhaps perform on their own. We’ll be engaging with the FringeNYC audience and artists in one other important way this year, via FringeU. Indie Theater Now is co-producing FringeU — the festival’s educational arm. FringeU offers another way to immerse yourself in indie theater, at a time when there are no shows going on. Each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon during the festival, FringeU offers programming at FringeCENTRAL, where FringeNYC artists and FringeNYC fans will discuss how theater is made and how it is brought to audiences. There are six FringeU events in all. I will lead an open discussion about how to write about theater in the post-newspaper-theater-critic/ Web 3.0 world. I’ll also moderate a discussion with Jeffrey Sweet about the roots and practice of improv (Jeff wrote the seminal book “Something Wonderful Right Away”). FringeNYC’s Producing Artistic Director Elena K. Holy will be part of a very exciting panel focused on global perspectives in creating and presenting fringe/indie theater. We’ve got three other panels filled with current and former FringeNYC artists, plus a host of folks from the indie theater and academic world, covering the craft of adaptations, bringing theater to the classroom, and devising theater techniques at colleges and universities. I hope we’ll see lots of you at FringeU or elsewhere at the festival. Let us know what you think of our “gavel-to-gavel” coverage on And mainly: happy Fringe-ing! August 7, 2014


Raptors hold bird fans’ rapt attention in park; BY ZACH WILLIAMS



hen danger threatens a hard-working father like Christo and his family — or pretty much whenever they decide to spread their wings — Tompkins Square Park bird enthusiasts flock to them. Admirers of Christo, a red-tailed hawk, eagerly chronicle his life as well as the development of his three eyases and the comings and goings of his longtime mate, Dora. The raptors, whose wingspan can reach up to four-and-a-half feet in adult birds, have a rapt audience of locals who feast on their activities in the park. Local photographer Laura Goggin has followed the development of the family over the last year, seldom missing a day. Her photo blog ( began with shots of the now-shuttered Mars Bar, but gradually began to focus more and more on her encounters with the hawks. Observing the birds, she said, has changed her perspective of the park, which she has regularly visited since moving to New York City 15 years ago. Goggin admits she had a lot to learn about birds when she began shooting them with her Canon 70D camera last year. She now astutely listens for the cackles of blue jays and mockingbirds in the park, signs that one of her beloved hawks may be near. “Once you tune into the birds, a whole new world opens up,” she

said at the park this past Saturday. Christo’s carnivorous nature can lead to trouble, she noted, as was the case the day before when she received an ominous phone call from a fellow birder. “They said, ‘You need to come to the park right now,’ ” she recalled. About two dozen people rushed to Christo’s rescue after a fan of a rival ornithological species — perhaps absentmindedly — placed a pigeon on a railing near the ravenous Christo, who hunts for about a half-dozen meals per day. Before long, the ravenous raptor was airborne with the pigeon, dodging flying projectiles thrown by the man, a park regular. Things got a little physical between hawk supporters and the pigeon feeder but Christo escaped unscathed, according to Goggin, who was on the scene by then. Community members also rallied back in June when the first flight of one of the baby hawks went awry. The hawks’ nest was perched on a seventh-floor air conditioner overlooking Avenue B at the Christodora House — hence Christo’s name. As the birds were under webcam surveillance, observers quickly noticed that one of the young hawks was missing. “Around 6:15 p.m. after persistent searching, a resident of Ninth St. found the hawk in an airshaft between buildings. The cavalry was called and a rescue commenced,” a June 23 blog entry reported. They named him Shaft.

Blogger Laura Goggin, at left in purple dress, and park rangers, along with other hawk watchers and parkgoers, watch one of the juvenile red-tailed hawks.

A juvenile red-tailed hawk, one of the offspring of Christo and Dora, swoops through the park, drawing stares from parkgoers. It’s difficult to distinguish the juveniles, so it’s not known if this was Shaft, Middle Child or Number Three.

HAWKS, continued on p. 21


At the hawks’ Christodora House aerie, mom Dora clears away a not-so-fresh, leftover rat, while dad Christo and their three eyases look on. (An eyas is a baby hawk that has not yet fledged, or learned to fly.)


August 7, 2014

Sandwiched between photographers, one of the red-tailed juvenile hawks looks back curiously toward one of them.

Christo, Dora and kids have a talon for hunting HAWKS, continued from p. 20

Helping with the rescue was an urban park ranger, who also helped save a fledgling hawk in Washington Square earlier this year. The hero to bird lovers could not speak on the record due to Parks Department restrictions, but intimated that birds of prey factored in a job hunt about 10 years ago. “That’s the whole reason I became a ranger, to be around hawks all day,” the ranger said. The East Village’s topography makes for ideal living space for redtailed hawks, which appear to enjoy the concrete jungle as much as moderately covered forest land. Observers, however, have noticed how the city-slicker hunting birds have to fall down a bit before learning what to expect from the area’s more natural features, such as thin branches that a more-experienced hawk would instantly recognize as an inadequate perch. “Bird did not even know what a tree is because he grew up on an air conditioner,” said Dennis Edge, as he watched one of the newborns fumble about on a tree branch. He added he wasn’t sure whether it was Shaft or siblings Number Three or Middle Child he was looking at, since the young are difficult to differentiate from each other. The red-tailed hawks’ rebounding in Downtown Manhattan, though, ironically spurred a growth in Tompkins Square’s rat population several years ago, which got so bad it was dubbed “Ratpalooza.” When hawks take up residence and procreate, nearby rat-poisoning efforts must be suspended, to protect the hawks’ young from ingesting poison through rodent meat brought to them by their parents up to several times a day. Following a July 2011 article in The Villager about the Tompkins rodent explosion, Parks Department officials brought the rats under control with traps, garbage-control and eventually restarting the use of poison. The ongoing saga of Christo and Co. gives a renewed sense of hope for one longtime resident. Gentrification tamed much of the neighborhood, but the re-emergence of the magnificent winged park denizens illustrates that something wild still resides within the East Village, according to Edward Arrocha. He has avidly followed red-tailed hawks around the city since 1996. “For me, it’s a gift,” he said, “because I remember when there were none in the park.”

With the Con Ed building in the background, Dora flies homeward with a leafy branch for the Christodora House nest.

Some young girls cautiously approach one of the young raptors, which don’t pose a threat to humans — though, by some accounts, they sometimes prey on small dogs and cats. August 7, 2014



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August 7, 2014

Houston, Bowery, Sixth speed set to be 25 m.p.h. SPEED LIMIT, continued from p. 1

authorized the city to lower its socalled default speed limit — which is 30 miles per hour, unless signs are posted stating otherwise — to 25 miles per hour. The reduction won’t begin until 90 days after Governor Cuomo signs the bill into law, which he is expected to do. Although the arterial slow zones will be posted with 25-mile-per-hour signs, the same reduced speed limit will soon apply to the city as a whole. The rollout of the program’s second phase was “planned months ago, long before any legislative action in Albany,” a D.O.T. spokesperson explained. Last Friday, it was announced that the Bowery corridor arterial slow zone, from Chatham Square to Cooper Square, will launch in November. This 1-mile-long section of roadway saw five fatalities from 2008 to 2012. In addition, the speed on Houston St. from West St. to Baruch Place will also be reduced by 5 miles per hour starting in November. There was one fatality on the 2-mile-long cross-town boulevard during the four years ending in 2012. Sixth Ave. for 3.8 miles, from Central Park South to Franklin St. in Tribeca, will also be an arterial slow zone as of December. There were five fatalities along this corridor in the four-year period. Seventh Ave. from Central Park South down to W. 11th St. also will be

included in the program as of August. This 2.4-mile stretch saw four fatalities from 2008 to 2012. Distinctive blue-and-white signs with the new lower speed limit will be put along the reduced-speed routes, and will complement the signage around new “neighborhood slow zones.” The latter designate entire communities as 20-mile-per-hour districts, such as the new Alphabet City-Tompkins Square Park neighborhood slow zone — featuring 20 new speed bumps — set to go into effect this month. For anyone contemplating being an arterial slow-zone scofflaw, according to D.O.T., “The locations will also benefit from increased enforcement by the N.Y.P.D., with temporary speed boards installed at key locations to alert drivers of the new speed limit.” D.O.T. will update signal-light timing to maintain mobility along the slowed-down stretches and prevent diversions to side streets. The arterial slow zone program is one of 63 initiatives that are part of Vision Zero, Mayor de Blasio’s initiative to prevent traffic fatalities and improve street safety. Citywide, major traffic arteries account for 15 percent of the total road mileage but a disproportionate amount, 60 percent, of pedestrian fatalities. Polly Trottenberg, the D.O.T. commissioner, said the arterial slow zones are “a critical and widely endorsed element of Vision Zero.” Speaking in June about the city’s

hanced signage, traffic light timing and enforcement will bring us one step closer to ending traffic fatalities in our city,” said state Senator Brad Hoylman. Assemblymember Richard Gottfried added, “It’s time to slam the brakes on speeding motorists who put pedestrians at risk, and to accelerate the pace of traffic-calming measures that will increase safety.” Said City Councilmember Corey Johnson, “I applaud the expansion of slow zones across the city and in my district, and look forward to working with D.O.T. on expanding the much-needed West Village neighborhood slow zone.” A few months ago, Hoylman wrote to D.O.T., echoing the call by P.S. 41 Principal Kelly Shannon and Community Board 2 for expanding the planned West Village neighborhood slow zone a block east to Sixth Ave. On June 25, the state senator received a response from D.O.T., stating that the agency would consider the additional area as “a second phase.” “While I am disappointed that D.O.T. did not commit to an expansion at this time due to planning and time constraints,” Hoylman said, “I am encouraged by the agency’s commitment to consider the additional area as a second phase to the slow zone. Additionally, to alleviate risk in the short term, D.O.T. will be conducing a feasibility study for the placement of speed humps near the schools within the additional area.”

plan to reduce its overall citywide speed limit, Trottenberg assured that driving efficiency is often “determined by the intersection far more than it’s determined by the speed on the straightaways.” Local politicians uniformly hailed the new arterial slow zones. “Keeping traffic flowing along our most important thoroughfares need not come at the expense of people’s safety,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. “By creating arterial slow zones, D.O.T. will make essential improvements to our most dangerous roads, which will save lives. I applaud Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Trottenberg for making our streets safer.” Councilmember Margaret Chin’s district will have three of the latest slowed-down stretches. “These new arterial slow zones are fantastic news for all New Yorkers who want a safer city for their families,” Chin said. “I’ve heard from many constituents about the need for slower speeds on the Bowery, Houston St. and Sixth Ave., and I’m excited to see the positive impact these changes will have in our community, especially for our seniors.” Said Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, “There have been drastic accidents in my district. Reducing speeds will save lives and reduce the number of accidents. This program has my full support.” “Lowering the speed limit and encouraging compliance through en-

Board 2 tosses paper for tablets at its meetings BY LINCOLN ANDERSON



ust call them C.B. 2.0. Community Board 2 is leading the way among community boards by going paperless for its full-board meetings. Normally, at the once-monthly meetings of the full 50-member board, C.B. 2 members get a plump, legal-size envelope packed full of papers, including all the resolutions from the board’s committee meetings, which the full board then votes on. However, at its recent July meeting, C.B. 2 members could be seen peering intently at computer tablets and laptops — and, no, they weren’t reading The Villager or even updating their Facebook status. Under an initiative led by David Gruber, the board’s chairperson, they were all diligently scrolling through a PDF of the committee resolutions that they would be considering that evening.

Board members were encouraged to bring their own tablets or laptops to the meeting. Meanwhile, Gruber used a fund of extra community board cash to buy 20 tablets for use by board members lacking one. At noon the day of the meeting, the board office e-mailed out a single PDF to the members. “It’s like a newspaper deadline, all the committee reports are in there,” Gruber noted. The various committee reports had been assembled into one long file. Board members then uploaded the PDF to their tablets. Local residents can also download the PDF by going to the C.B. 2 Web site. “We want the public to download it,” Gruber stated. Paper printouts of committee resolutions were still available to the public at the July meeting. If a board member brings a tablet to the meeting but hasn’t uploaded

C.B. 2 members read the committee resolutions on computer tablets and laptops at the July full-board meeting.

the PDF, it’s no problem. There will always be a flash drive with the file on hand that can be plugged into the laptop and uploaded in seconds. Or, if they have an iPad, board members can upload the file via WiFi, assuming the meeting room has adequate reception. The board chairperson bought Acer tablets because, unlike iPads, they have a standard port to accept a flash drive. After the meeting, the board’s Acer tablets were collected from the members who used them. Each tablet has a number on it, so the board can keep track of them. Gruber said he’s been fielding calls from other boards curious about how they might replicate the C.B. 2 process. Asked about her experience using a tablet, board veteran Doris Diether, 85, said, “I thought it was kind of interesting. I didn’t know we had to give them back. I was just getting the hang of it!” August 7, 2014


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