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

June 2, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 22





Activists call on C.B. 3 to take a stand against wave of luxury high-rises BY LESLEY SUSSMAN


ommunity Board 3 got an earful last Tuesday night from a coalition of Lower East Side activists who complained that the board was dragging its legs in the battle to stop the proliferation of luxury high-rises, hotels and other upscale developments that are displacing poor people who live in the neighborhood.

Members of the Chinatown Working Group — a coalition of grassroots organizations whose goal is to draft a master plan that would preserve housing affordability in a wide swath of Lower Manhattan — spoke out angrily at the full board meeting at P.S. 20 on May 24. They repeatedly demanded that C.B. 3 at C.B. 3 continued on p. 16

BBQ basher found guilty of attempted assault In Chelsea chair attack BY DUNCAN OSBORNE


fter deliberating for roughly two days, a Manhattan jury last week convicted BaynaLekheim El-Amin on four of five felony charges resulting from a 2015 fight he had with two gay men in a Chelsea restaurant. “There was no justification for this brutal attack,” Cy

Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, said in a May 25 statement. “Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin struck both victims in a public restaurant with a heavy wooden chair, knocking one of them unconscious. I commend the victims for their courage and my office’s prosecutors for ensuring this defendant is held accountable BBQ BASH continued on p. 12

Fukushima 5 years later....p. 14

An N.Y.U. graduate proudly accepted a diploma on behalf of his individual school last Wednesday. Because of N.Y.U.’s size, one person accepts a degree for each school, such as Tisch School of the Ar ts or Stern School of Business. See Page 6.

Cries to close nuke plant and go green gain energy PAUL DeRIENZO


t’s been a busy season for environmental activists in New York City. Last week, an “emergency petition” and legal action was filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by environmental watchdog group Friends of the Earth to prohibit the restart of Indian Point Unit 2. That reactor was shut down after a control-rod failure last December. F.O.E. is also demanding an immediate shutdown and inspection of the plant’s Unit 3. The two reactors, located in Buchanan, N.Y., less than an

hour’s drive from New York City, are more than 40 years old and operating under temporary licenses. The reactors have experienced numerous mishaps over the past year and Governor Andrew Cuomo has called for their shutdown. The fate of Indian Point figures into a plan announced by the governor late last year, directing the state’s Department of Public Service to implement a Clean Energy Standard, “mandating that 50 percent of all electricity consumed in New York by 2030 result from clean and renewable energy sources.” The goal is to reduce green-

house gas emissions in the state by 40 percent while increasing reliance on solar energy and continuing the state’s reliance on nuclear power. Nuclear power produces dangerous waste products that require many years of storage. Public opposition has stymied plans for a nuclear waste dump in Nevada, and so reactor waste is being stored at nuclear plants in underwater pools. The F.O.E. suits claimed that the recent discovery at Indian Point 2 that a quarter of the nearly 1,000 Unit 2 ENERGY continued on p. 8

Fake Uber robs L.E.S. hail, threatens rape.......p. 10 Readers sound off on Beth Israel plan..............p. 24 www.TheVillager.com

homeland security and local emergency preparedness after 9/11. The brothers Solomon were top scholar-athletes at Collegiate High School on the Upper West Side, where they were both known as “Solly.” When John became sick, James resigned from Community Board 2, on which he had been an active member, especially on Chinatown issues, and put the film on hold for a several years, which is partly why it took so long to make. For fans of journalism and true crime stories — with a definite emphasis on “the truth” — “The Witness” is a must-see.

CANDIDATES ASSEMBLE AT D.I.D.: As The Villager was going to press, the


Filmmaker James Solomon outside his Soho home.


Soho’s own James Solomon spent years putting together a riveting documentary on the infamous Kitty Genovese murder, “The Witness,” and now it’s finally opening at the IFC Center, on Sixth Ave. at W. Third St., on Fri., June 3. Solomon is best known as a writer for both TV and the big screen (“The Bronx Is Burning,” the HBO series about the Yankees and 1970s New York, and “The Practice,” as well as “The Conspirator,” a film about the Lincoln assassination). “The Witness,” which Solomon also co-wrote, is his first foray into directing. The film’s hero is Bill Genovese, the tragic victim’s wheelchair-bound youngest brother, with whom she shared a special bond. The film focuses on two questions. First, was the seminal New York Times article on Kitty’s murder in March 1964 overly sensationalistic — and, more to the point, was it extremely misleading? The article came to symbolize concerns over urban apathy and what is now commonly known as “Genovese Syndrome.” Second, the film answers the question: Who really was Kitty Genovese? For one thing, the film proves that the alleged 38 “eyewitnesses” that the Times article claimed watched the grisly murder but didn’t intervene were, in fact, in many cases only “earwitnesses,”

in that Kitty and her killer were circling a block of buildings, which meant that they would have physically been out of view of many of these witnesses at certain points. A.M. Rosenthal, the legendary former Times executive editor, who even wrote a book in 1973 based on the story, “ThirtyEight Witnesses: The Kitty Genovese Case,” is buttonholed in the film, and bristles at the mere suggestion that the original article could have exaggerated residents’ callousness. There are also interviews with other journalistic legends, like Gabe Pressman and Mike Wallace, which definitely give a more nuanced perspective on the accuracy of the now-classic article. The film’s hero is Bill Genovese. He lost his legs as a young scout in Vietnam when an explosive device was remotely detonated right after he had spotted it. Each time he is shown lifting himself into his chair, or hauling himself up a flight of stairs with his powerful arms in Kitty’s old Kew Gardens, Queens, neighborhood, the viewer feels a deep respect for his resolute quest — to find out the truth of who his older sister really was beyond a hollow media character. We find out she was lesbian and lived with her partner, that she managed a bar in Hollis, Queens, working its day shift, which started at 8 a.m., and drove a sporty red Fiat. In short, she was fun and interesting. She was also a very intelligent, popular girl when she was growing up in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The famous photo that we have of her was in fact a mug shot, from when she was busted for taking bargoers’ bets on the horses for a bookie. Solomon and Bill Genovese first met through Andrew Blauner, the literary agent. But Solomon also had another deep bond with Bill — in that he, too, lost a beloved sibling, his older brother, John Solomon, to leukemia, in 2010. An accomplished journalist, John Solomon also became a top blogger on


SINCE 19 82!


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Downtown Independent Democrats club were voting on who to endorse for Assembly in the 65th District in the September primary election. Sean Sweeney of D.I.D. confirmed that Alice Cancel — who won the April special election to fill the seat left vacant after Sheldon Silver was convicted on federal charges — plans to run for re-election in the primary. “Yes, Alice is running,” Sweeney told us. “John Quinn came from the Lower East Side to my loft at a D.I.D. meeting last week to speak on her behalf, while she was in Albany. She originally told people she wouldn’t run after the special election, but has since changed her mind.” Quinn, a Democratic State Committee member who is Cancel’s husband, recently told us that Cancel had a flare-up of diabetes during the campaign, which had her second-guessing whether she should run again, but that she is now set on trying to hold the seat against a big field of candidates. No doubt, the D.I.D. vote will be a heated contest — mainly between District Leaders Paul Newell and Jenifer Rajkumar, who are both D.I.D. members. Neither district leader has been willing to step aside in their hunger to achieve higher office, causing a deep division in the club. Quinn has said it’s too late at this point, that the split will rip the club apart, though Sweeney says that’s overstating things. The race similarly has multiple Asian candidates, threatening to dilute the power of Chinatown’s vote in the heavily Asian district.


Over on the West Side, things are no less chippy — actually, more so — in the race for the 66th Assembly District primary election. The Stonewall Democratic Club of NYC last Wednesday strongly endorsed longtime incumbent Deborah Glick over challenger District Leader Arthur Schwartz — but not before Schwartz came in for some bruising questions from the pro-Glick crowd. A longtime Stonewall member who requested anonymity called us to gloat over Glick’s romp, noting that she is “an icon” in the club, as the state’s first openly gay elected official. He added that Schwartz was grilled by some club members on whether he supported banning outside income for state legislators, or at least capping it, or putting it in “a blind trust” while in office. Schwartz, who is running as a reformer, said no to all those ideas. “Deborah has come up with this one as her response to my challenge to her being an enabler of Sheldon Silver,” Schwartz told us afterward in a lengthy e-mail response. “She had three questioners planted to ask me about my position on outside income. One person — reflecting what Deborah said — stated that allowing elected officials to make outside income was at the root of corruption in Albany. That is so untrue,” Schwartz protested. “Sheldon Silver took bribes. Dean Skelos directed business to companies that hired his son. John Sampson SCOOPY continued on p. 19

“It’s worth the trip down the street!” 2

June 2, 2016


Great News for the Downtown Community!

Mount Sinai Announces $500 Million Investment to Create “Mount Sinai Downtown” Network New Mount Sinai Downtown Beth Israel Hospital on 14 th St. with inpatient beds & brand New Emergency Department Expanded & Upgraded Outpatient Services Convenient to Home & Work NEW YORK (May 25, 2016) – The Mount Sinai Health System today announced a plan for the sweeping transformation of Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, by investing over $500 million to create the new “Mount Sinai Downtown,” an expanded and unified network of state-of-the-art facilities stretching from the East River to the Hudson River below 34th Street. The Mount Sinai Downtown network will include a new Mount Sinai Downtown Beth Israel Hospital on 14th Street with inpatient beds plus a brand new state-of-the-art Emergency Department. The new ED will have observation beds and will be equipped to treat patients with heart attacks and strokes. An expanded and upgraded network of outpatient services, including expanded behavioral and mental health services, and physician practices will also be part of the Downtown network. Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s Emergency Department will remain open until the new ED is up and running.

The current Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital will remain open during this transformation and all services will be available throughout the Mount Sinai Health System. Patients will be able to continue to see the doctors they know and trust.

For additional updates and information, please visit our website: www.mountsinai.org/downtown


June 2, 2016


Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association News Story, First Place, 2015 Editorial Page, First Place, 2015 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









Spirit of kabbalah burns on Delancey With music, dance and the traditional bonfire, Jews on the Lower East Side celebrated the festive holiday of Lag B’Omer last Thursday evening

outside the Lutowisker Synagogue, at 262 Delancey St. The holiday celebrates the day on which Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai revealed the deepest

mystical secrets of kabbalah in the Zohar (“Book of Splendor”). There were no reported Madonna sightings on Delancey last Thursday, however.



Member of the New York Member of the National Press Association Newspaper Association

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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 One Metrotech North 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (718) 260-2500 • Fax: (212) 229-2790 On-line: www.thevillager.com E-mail: news@thevillager.com © 2016 NYC Community Media, LLC


June 2, 2016


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Hamilton steps into the box at N.Y.U. graduation


Andrew Hamilton, the new president of New York University, stepped up to the plate at Yankee Stadium on Wed., May 18, to preside over the university’s 184th commencement ceremony. Receiving honorary degrees were French microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier; Congressmember John Lewis, a hero of the civil rights movement; Margaret Hilary Marshall, former chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court and the first woman to hold that position; comedian Billy Crystal, an N.Y.U. alumnus; and Darren Charles Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. In his address to the Class of 2016, Walker urged them to ask how they can help others share the education that they enjoyed. “How can we extend the ladder of opportunity, so that more people can sit in these...bleachers in the years ahead and

experience what you all have experienced?” he said. Speaking in a clipped English accent, N.Y.U President Hamilton noted that the graduates have had a lot of help from their families in getting to where they are today. He urged them to “turn around and give them thanks,” and, with a roar, the grads heartily obliged. Having taken over the university’s leadership from John Sexton in January, Hamilton, at least so far, has kept a pretty low profile in the wider Village community. Which is perhaps not so surprising, given the impassioned opposition to the N.Y.U. 2031 South Village expansion mega-project. While Sexton was known for wearing his trademark Yankees baseball cap at commencement, Hamilton — a chemist who could very well be a cricket fan — sported a traditional mortarboard.

New N.Y.U. President Andrew Hamilton broke from recent tradition by not wearing a Yankees cap.


June 2, 2016


with lineup of heavy hitters up at the stadium


June 2, 2016



Environmental activists rallied at Cit y Hall on Tuesday, saying Governor Cuomo’s “Clean Energy Standard” has no teeth.

Push to close Indian Point amid plans to boost clean energy ENERGY continued from p. 1

“baffle-former” bolts are either missing or damaged “is a major failure that affects the safety” of the plant. The 2-inch bolts hold the assembly that surrounds the reactor’s uranium core and directs water flow. According to F.O.E., “Failure of these bolts could…[deprive] the core of necessary cooling water and potentially result in a meltdown.” A “meltdown” means that the nuclear fuel has partially melted and potentially released radiation into the environment. However, Entergy, the company that owns Indian Point, has said that the plant is safe and is in the midst of hearings before the Atomic Safety Licensing Board aimed to extend their licenses for 20 years. Cuomo has said he wants to close Indian Point but wants to continue operating the James A. Fitzpatrick nuclear power plant near Upstate Oswego, N.Y. Entergy, though, plans to close Fitzpatrick this year. The dispute has contributed to the furor over the role of nuclear power, which currently supplies one-third of the state’s electricity. On Tuesday, activists carrying white cardboard windmills, yellow and red antinuclear banners and demanding “clean energy” rallied outside City Hall


June 2, 2016

to criticize the governor’s plan. They said Cuomo’s proposed scheme has no teeth and that the new Clean Energy Standard “won’t live up to its promises.” In a statement, the environmentalists said the standards need to be “enforceable” and must “compel” utilities to buy energy from renewable sources. They also slammed the governor for failing to propose more wind power, such as offshore windmill farms. At a hearing earlier in the day before the City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection, panelists dis-

cussed New York City’s commitment to solar power. Advocates called for city programs to encourage low-income New Yorkers to take advantage of solar power through lowered utility costs. Currently, the city provides a property-tax abatement to benefit solar projects, which advocates want to see renewed and extended. Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he wants to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050, by issuing a “Carbon Challenge” to city-based institutions to reduce their emissions.

The Fire Department of New York also shared its concern regarding firefighters’ safety when they respond to emergencies in buildings with rooftop solar installations that have been approved on a case-by-case basis. Advocates say they want the city’s Department of Buildings to issue standardized guidelines for construction of solar facilities, so that first responders know what to expect when they arrive. TheVillager.com






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POLICE BLOTTER multiple items, and threatening other workers after being told he was fired. No one was injured. The man was arrested the next day in front of 75 Christopher St., when one of the restaurant’s employees saw him and pointed him out to an officer. Christopher Bates, 23, was arrested for felony criminal mischief.

Monster bash An staff member of the Monster bar at 80 Grove St. was assaulted early Sunday morning, police said. On May 29 at around 2 a.m., a man struck an employee at the bar several times, causing substantial pain. Police arrested Jovan Lopez, 36, for misdemeanor assault. A police sketch of the alleged phony cab driver.

Robbed by fake Uber On Sun., May 15, around 1:30 a.m., a woman entered a car that she thought was an Uber taxi she had requested in the vicinity of Mangin and E. Houston Sts., near the F.D.R. Drive, after the driver stated that he was there to pick her up. As the woman rode in the black fourdoor sedan, however, she began to realize the man was not driving toward her residence. And as the vehicle passed the E. 96th St. exit on the F.D.R. Drive, the driver suddenly demanded money while threatening to shoot and sexually assault her. The victim complied with his demands and gave her property to the driver as he exited the highway at an unknown location in northern Manhattan. The victim was able to escape the car while it was stopped at a red light on Park Ave. The woman was not injured and the driver fled with the victim’s iPhone, wallet, $20 in cash, a debit card, a MetroCard, a jacket and a pair of gold earrings. The individual was described as in his 30s, with short hair and a beard. Anyone with information is asked to call the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS. Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting them to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.

Fired, flipped out An employee of Spur Tree at Norman’s Cay restaurant at 74 Orchard St. reportedly did not handle getting fired very well. On Sun., May 22, at 1:30 a.m., according to police, the former worker began flipping tables, breaking


June 2, 2016

With friends like this… On Mon., May 23, at around 4:30 p.m. at the southwest corner of Washington Square South and Thompson St., two acquaintances got into an argument, when one man got physical. He struck the other man with a blunt instrument on his head, neck and hand, causing physical injury, police said. The assailant then took property from the victim, including a duffle bag, items of clothing and $50. A canvass was conducted and police located the alleged perpetrator at Mercer Playground, on Mercer St. between Bleecker and W. Third Sts. He was positively identified by the victim and the stolen property was recovered. Matthew Pritchett, 45, was arrested for felony robbery.

Soda threat fizzles The CVS at 360 Sixth Ave. was the scene of a robbery on Thurs., May 26, police said. At 12:50 p.m. that day, a man reportedly entered the location and was observed by the store manager placing four sodas in his duffle bag. The manager removed the sodas from the man’s bag and told him to get out. However, as the man was exiting the store, he got into a verbal dispute with the manager and then displayed a knife while stating, “Come outside to finish this.” The man then fled on foot to Washington Square Park, where an officer who had received a photo of the man arrested him. Upon a search, a crack pipe was recovered. Jonathan Liu, 36, was arrested for misdemeanor criminal possession of a weapon.

Emily Siegel and Lincoln Anderson TheVillager.com

Rapper is accused in fatal Irving Plaza shooting One man was left dead and three people were injured in a wild shooting inside Irving Plaza at a rap concert last Wednesday night, police said. Gunfire — reportedly at least five shots — broke out just after 10 p.m. on May 25 in a green room at the Gramercy music club, right before Atlanta rapper T.I. was set to take the stage. According to news reports, a 33-year-old man was shot in the stomach and died at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital; a 34-year-old man, shot in the chest, was taken to Bellevue Hospital in critical condition; and a woman, 26, was wounded in the leg and expected to survive, according to police. In addition, Brooklyn rapper Troy Ave — the alleged shooter — accidentally blasted himself in the leg, according to reports. Troy Ave, real name Roland Collins, 33, was subsequently arrested at N.Y.U. Langone Hospital. The deceased, Ronald (Edgar) McPhatter, was Troy Ave’s bodyguard. Another rapper, Maino, had just finished performing when the shooting broke out. According to reports, Troy Ave had a beef with Maino. One media outlet said the fight started after someone from one group bumped into someone from another group. The gunfire is said to have lasted five minutes. The shots sparked a panic inside the concert hall with — as shown on video that was released — people stampeding off the floor to try to reach safety. The venue had metal detectors and a police detail at the door, but it is believed the gun was snuck in a back entrance that performers come in through. McPhatter — who was known as “Banga,� according to one Web site — was facing felony charges for allegedly shooting at a man last November outside the


Police officers, detectives and emergenc y personnel responded to Ir ving Plaza, at E. 15th St. and Ir ving Place, on the evening of Wed., May 25, after deadly gunfire broke out at a rap concer t. At the time of this photo, the victims had already been removed from the scene.

Flatiron District bar Pergola, at 36 W. 28th St. One of the bullets allegedly grazed a female bystander, according to DNAinfo. The Daily News reported that, in court this Tuesday, attorneys for Troy Ave claimed that the rapper

was, in fact, the “real victim� in the incident and that he did not shoot McPhatter. Although video shows Troy Ave barging into the room and firing five shots, his attorneys said there was more to the story than seen in the clip.

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June 2, 2016


BBQ basher found guilty BBQ BASH continued from p. 1

for this horrific attack.” The jurors, who appeared to be at loggerheads at points in their deliberations, found the 42-year-old guilty of two counts of attempted assault in the first degree for the fight with Jonathan Snipes, 33, and Ethan York-Adams, 26, plus two counts of second-degree assault. El-Amin was acquitted on a fifth count that charged him with seconddegree assault for allegedly stomping on Snipes’s head. When he is sentenced on June 14, El-Amin could get up to 15 years in prison. Jurors began deliberating on May 23 and very quickly sent a note to the judge, Arlene Goldberg, saying they could not reach a verdict. On the morning of May 25, jurors asked what would happen if they reached a verdict on only four of the five counts. They were then allowed to announce their verdicts on the four and instructed to continue deliberating on the outstanding charge of first-degree attempted assault on Snipes. They returned a guilty verdict on that charge later in the day. The case has been fraught from the start. The fight broke out on May 5, 2015, at the Dallas BBQ at Eighth Ave. and W. 23rd St. in Chelsea. The day after the fight, Snipes contacted the press, claiming that he and York-Adams, his boyfriend at the time, had been the victims of a hate crime perpetrated by two men. One video showed El-Amin hitting York-Adams with a wooden chair as York-Adams and Snipes stood with their backs to El-Amin. The incident received some press attention, and one protest was organized

outside the restaurant that included Councilmember Corey Johnson and state Senator Brad Hoylman. Both politicians are openly gay and both represent districts that include Chelsea. More complete video of the incident, which went public a few months after the story broke, however, showed that it was Snipes, in fact, who started the fight and that only one man fought with Snipes. El-Amin was not charged with a hate crime. In fact, according to his lawyer, El-Amin is also gay. When he testified, Snipes said he heard someone say the word “faggot” and he believed that person was ElAmin, so he hit him with his purse. The incident, which lasted about one minute, had three discrete parts. At the trial’s outset, prosecutor Leah Saxtein said that El-Amin was not charged with any crime relating to the first part of the fight, when El-Amin pounced on Snipes after being struck. In the videos that were played in court, Snipes appears to strike El-Amin in two of the parts of the fight. The third part, where El-Amin used the wooden chair, was always the greatest threat to him because both Snipes and York-Adams are turned away from him. Yet, El-Amin’s attorney argued his client was acting in self-defense throughout the incident. Both Snipes and York-Adams testified that they were drunk and both men received medical attention from an E.M.T. medic following the incident. They both refused a trip to an emergency room, though, saying they did not have insurance and could not afford the trip. This suggested they did not believe their injuries were serious.

A sur veillance photo of Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin in Dallas BBQ the day of the May 5, 2015, incident that was released by the police.


June 2, 2016


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Frozen clocks, face masks and fear: Five years


In March, Q. Sakamaki, a globetrotting conflict photographer and former longtime East Villager, returned to his native Japan to document the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Fukushima is considered the world’s second-worst nuclear power plant accident in history, after Chernobyl in Ukraine in the former Soviet Union in 1986. The Japanese nuclear accident was triggered by an earthquake and tsunami that deluged Fukushima and killed more than 15,900 people — while more than 2,500 people remain missing to this day. This page, clockwise from top: On the disaster’s fifth anniversary, Fukushima firefighters look for victims’ remains in Ukedo, in Namie, inside the evacuation zone; a broken laptop computer in an abandoned elementary school in Ukedo; an abandoned school in Namie;


June 2, 2016

a man cleans a radiation-contaminated area in Odaka in Minamisoma, where the restriction on entry into the evacuation zone was supposed to be lifted this spring, but was delayed. Opposite page, clockwise from top: Schoolgirls pass a panoramic view of Fukushima city, the capital of Fukushima Prefecture, where — although the area has been declared safe from radiation — people worry about their future due to the area’s depopulation; a checkpoint on the way toward the radiation-contaminated evacuation zone in Tsushima, in Namie; Fukushima’s “frozen time” — a clock in a Ukedo elementary zone that stopped right as the tsunami was knocking out the nuclear plant; radioactive waste collected in the evacuation zone at Ukedo, an area that was destroyed by the tsunami and exposed to radiation.


later, inside the Fukushima evacuation zone


June 2, 2016


C.B. 3 is urged to take a stand vs. development C.B. 3 continued from p. 1

its next monthly meeting issue a strong statement of support for the coalition’s housing preservation agenda. “We want you to sign a pledge at your June meeting that says ‘no’ to more luxury development,” a C.W.G. member said. “This community board must stop dragging its legs on this issue. Low-income people on the Lower East Side and Chinese people in Chinatown are being treated as second-class citizens by the city and developers.” A representative of the National Mobilization Against Sweatshops pointedly asked C.B. 3 Chairperson Gigi Li whether the community board was being “complacent “ on this issue. “Do you stand with us or with de Blasio and the developers,” he said. “Are you going to leave us vulnerable to high-rise developers?” Francisca Benítez, a member of C.W.G. and Chinatown & Lower East Side Artists Against Displacement, or CLAAD, made a desperate plea for action. “Passing the C.W.G. plan is now more urgent than ever, with Extell and other skyscrapers being built on the Lower East Side waterfront,” she said. “C.B. 3 should support the community’s demand to stop Extell, and


June 2, 2016

to ensure that no public subsidies or public assets be used to build luxury high-rises. Please sign the Chinatown Working Group pledge, and make a commitment to stand by the plan in full. We need C.B. 3 to help move the plan forward.” Li responded that the community board is very involved on the issue, which will, again, be on the agenda of next month’s Land Use Committee meeting. Li later told this newspaper that the community board has been working hard to come up with a plan that would stop the proliferation of high-rise luxury development on the Lower East Side. “We’ve been very involved with the Chinatown Working Group for the past seven years,” she said. “We remain involved and will continue to discuss how C.B. 3 can be most effective in moving the group’s zoning plan forward. It’s understandable that there’s frustration about the time it’s taken to work out the details. Hopefully, we can soon work out a benefi cial plan.” Board member Enrique Cruz, meanwhile, said after the meeting that the community board supports C.W.G. on the issue of curbing rampant development, but that C.B. 3, unfortunately, does not have the fi nal call on this issue.


A design rendering showing the planned 77-stor y 247 Cherr y St. tower, at right, and Extell’s 80-stor y One Manhattan South, currently under construction, at left.

“We’re wholeheartedly on the side of the groups who want to stop massive high-rise and luxury development buildings in the area,” he said. “The board has already approved the Chinatown Working Group plan. But the problem is that there are different pockets of land involved, so it’s taking longer than expected to fi nalize a cohesive plan. The board has already reached out and met with city planners on this issue. But we’re not the fi nal decision makers and I understand the frustration of these groups.” The de Blasio administration rejected the C.W.G. plan for a Chinatown / Lower East Side Special District in March of last year, calling it “not feasible at this time.” C.B. 3 member Vaylateena Jones said that the situation is urgent. “What can we do quickly?” she asked. “There’s an onslaught of gigantic buildings being put up in our neighborhood that are charging gigantic rents. How can we halt this?” On another matter, the names of candidates who will be running for C.B. 3’s leadership positions next month were announced. Li — who is running for Assembly — is not seeking re-election to a fi fth straight one-year term as board chairperson. Instead, three candidates will vie for the board’s top post, incuding Anne Johnson, Jamie Rogers and Enrique Cruz. Karlin Chan and Alysha Lewis-Coleman, the board’s current second vice chairperson, are running for fi rst vice chairperson. Herman Hewitt, the board’s current fi rst vice chairperson, is running for second vice chairperson. David Crane is run-

ning for treasurer, and Meghan Joye for secretary. It was also announced at the meeting that Seward Park was the winner of the Parks Without Borders Competition. The Lower East Side greensward was one of eight recipients throughout the city that will split a $40 million grant for large-scale park renovations. Residents have long complained that the park was not up to par, pointing to its fountain, which has long been out of use, play equipment with chipped paint and few entry points. In other board business, C.B. 3 unanimously recommended approval of the creation of a two-way bike lane on Chrystie St. The plan also calls for the reconfiguration of traffic islands at Chrystie St. north of Canal St. and at Second Ave. north of Houston St. in order to improve traffic flow and increase pedestrian safety. The current Chrystie St. bike lane is highly unsafe, especially on its downtown side, which is often blocked by double-parked vehicles and forklifts, leading to many accidents in recent years. The board also approved a measure asking that C.B. 3 be allowed to participate in decisions made by the state Liquor Authority regarding the new Alcoholic Beverage Control Law. Governor Andrew Cuomo last year announced the creation of a working group of industry leaders to recommend revisions to the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Laws. The group will review existing provisions and explore approaches to clarify and modernize the 80-year-old statute. TheVillager.com

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June 2, 2016


L.E.S. housewives carved up meat price gougers The historic Stanton St. Shul and the Siempre Verde Garden, the Lower East Side’s newest garden, were the setting last weekend for the re-enactment of a historic protest by local women more than a century ago against an outrageous hike in the price of meat. The women’s boycott became a model for future street protests and rent strikes. The Meat Trust had raised the price of kosher meat from 12 cents to 18 cents, an amount local housewives could not afford, eventually leading to the Kosher Meat Boycott of 1902. The ladies protested, marched into


Re-enactors, from left, Claire Costello and Ilyse Kazar, along with an audience member, cheer in Siempre Verde Garden upon hearing the news that on June 5, 1902, the Lower East Side housewives had won their fight to have meat prices lowered.

the street, into butcher shops, taking out meat and rendering it inedible by soaking it with gasoline. They marched into the synagogues, eventually getting rabbinical support. At the protest’s high point, 20,000 women banded together in the effort. As The New York Times reported on May 17, 1902, the boycott sparked a “riot,” with 85 women, 75 of them Jewish, arrested. During the mayhem, one woman even slapped a cop’s face with a piece of liver. The resistance worked: On June 9, meat prices dropped back down to 14 cents.

Re-enactors at the Stanton St. Shul, clock wise from left, Laura Zelasnic, Ilyse Kazar, Jonathan Boyarin and Leslie Levinson, depict the events of Sat., May 17, 1902, when women went into synagogues on the Sabbath to obtain rabbinical suppor t and to ask that the boycott be announced and endorsed.

Brooklyn Fare will have mo’ of everything: Moe BY MICHELE HERMAN


ne supermarket door closes and another opens. At the north end of the West Village, we have lost the Associated despite spirited protests. But at the southern end of the neighborhood, in the Archive Building, the new Brooklyn Fare has a firm opening date of July 22. I’m just back from a walk-through of the space. It’s in the latter stages of a gut renovation, started right after D’Agostino vacated last fall. This will be the third Brooklyn Fare store, the first two being in Downtown Brooklyn and on the far West Side of Manhattan. Owner Moe Issa, an Israeli immigrant with a quiet, no-nonsense demeanor, has a lofty goal for the new store, one that few if any have ever attained: He wants to please all Villagers. How will he do it? “Through volume,” explained the former Pepsi distributor who went into the grocery business believing he could do a better job of it than the corporations that run — and tightly control — most supermarkets. “You have to carry everything to make it work,” he said. “You can’t be one-dimensional. You have to


June 2, 2016

The awning of the Brooklyn Fare supermarket on Schermerhorn St. in Downtown Brooklyn, the growing chain’s first location.

serve the masses.” Issa’s business model involves carrying more product than other stores, so that high-end customers and budgetminded ones alike can do their regular shopping there. For quite a few months, the space’s huge windows at the Archive, along Greenwich St. at Christopher St., have been covered, leading some locals to fear that the deal had fallen through. Issa’s original projection of a spring opening date was optimistic, yet he said progress has been rapid. “All supermarket equipment has to be made to order and requires 12 weeks of lead time,” he noted. He has hired some key positions, and

will do additional hiring in the next few weeks. He said that former D’Ag employees are welcome to apply. Soon the windows will be opened up, revealing not just the bakery department but the actual bakery. All baking for the three stores will be done on the premises, which helps keep down prices. Also notable: All the meat and dairy cases are enclosed. “It keeps products at a steady temperature,” Issa explained, “and is much more efficient and a better use of space.” A low wall separates the aisles from the cash registers to streamline traffic. Throughout, there’s lots of fresh carpentry, flagstone, white tile and vast

swaths of counters and cases. Issa said that everything in the space, down to every wire, has been replaced. He held his first open house last week and hopes to do a couple more. He reports that he got great feedback. He also said that he used the event “to feel the pulse of the neighbors.” Since the store is larger than his other two, he will be able to stock more items, possibly expanding his organics. “One thing I noticed is a lot of families,” he said. “So I might stock cereal boxes in larger sizes.” He will wait and see what else the neighborhood wants. “We have to get a feel in the first few months,” he said. “We count on feedback. Our demographics are similar at all the stores, but there are always differences.” When asked why other supermarkets have such a hard time staying in business, let alone appealing to wealthy and budget-minded customers alike, he said that he can’t speak for other operators. “But it’s all about philosophy and vision,” he offered. “It’s hard to run an operation like mine. It’s about staying on top of everything. It’s much more work, but I’m not afraid to put in the hours.” TheVillager.com

SCOOPY continued from p. 2

embezzled money he was appointed to hold in escrow and then lied about it. Thomas Libelous lied to agents from the F.B.I. who were examining his son’s hiring at a politically connected law firm. Malcolm Smith offered to bribe Republican leaders to put him on the ballot. Pedro Espada stole from a nonprofit to which he directed public money. William Boyland was convicted of bribery, mail fraud and extortion. William Scarborough used $40,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses and filing false claims for $40,000 in travel reimbursements. Shirley Huntley embezzled $87,000 in public funds and attempted to cover it up. None of this had to do with income earned from legitimate outside employment. Assemblywoman JoAnn Simon, who has a law practice similar to mine, though principally focused on disability discrimination, doesn’t agree

with this ‘cap’ business either. Then there is the question of spouses. Brad Hoylman has no earned income other than his state Senate salary. (I’m sure he has lots of investments after years as counsel to the Partnership for New York City.) But his partner, David Sigal, is a highly successful filmmaker. Glick’s spouse, Leslie Sharpe, is a successful writer and educator. Deborah stated at Stonewall that assemblymembers should have no outside income. Same rule, she says for assemblymembers with no children, or six children. My principled response: The solution is full disclosure. Make tax returns public. Make legislators detail the sources of all of their income, so that conflicts are apparent. Understand, I have nothing to hide. My income fluctuates between $125,000 and $225,000 a year, depending on what cases settle. I need that money to pay tuition for two children, to pay for music lessons, gymnastics, summer camp, feeding four people,

paying $40,000 per year in property taxes, helping my daughter with law school, and even helping my employed son out every once in a while, and paying $2,000 per month toward the cost of my mother’s assisted living. To set limits would bar both legitimate employment and bar political figures from being people with families. And, oh my — how about saving for the $400,000 each child will need to go to college! Deborah even planted someone to say that I was one of the most successful lawyers in New York. I expect to hear a lot more of that as she deflects questions raised about her support of Silver. I’m successful because I win a lot of good things — yes. Financially successful — I wish!” For her part, Glick — who has never had an outside job during her Assembly tenure — blasted Schwartz’s frequent references to his family as “coded language,” in that, in her view, it’s clearly an effort to portray himself as the only straight candidate in the race. “That’s ridiculous,” the district leader retorted. “Brad Hoylman talks about his daughter more than I do, and brings her to political events.” Meanwhile, Schwartz, while not nabbing the prominent gay club’s nod — which was expected — was endorsed by the Village Reform Democratic Club and Transport Workers Union Local 100 last week, and was previously


endorsed by the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Zephyr Teachout, Yetta Kurland and Liz Abzug, among others.


Jeannine Kiely, chairperson of the Community Board 2 Schools and Education Committee, reported that the Community Education Council for District 2 recently voted against putting a “carve-out” affecting W. 12th St. and W. 13th St. residents into the zone for the new 75 Morton St. middle school. Instead, the zoned middle school for these blocks will be M.S. 104, Baruch, at E. 21st St. and Second Ave.


Due to an editing error, last week’s article “Soho ‘firetrap’ party space flouts vacate order” said that the former Once Upon a Tart space had become Navy restaurant. However, Navy is located next door to the former tart shop space. In addition, the article stated that The Hub space is zoned for art gallery use, when, in fact, it is technically zoned for retail use. Also, the article referred to Sean Sweeney as “the self-described ‘caretaker of Soho.’ ” According to Sweeney, what he actually said was that he was the “director of the Soho Alliance — the caretaker of Soho’s zoning,” meaning the alliance is the “caretaker” and not him.

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June 2, 2016



My big fat Greek Jewish festival on Broome St.


ehila Kedosha Janina, at 280 Broome St, is the only Romanioterite synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. Romaniote Jews — who have lived in and around Greece for 2,000 years — have different cultural traditions from Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews. The Lower East Side congregation was founded in 1906 by Greek Jewish immigrants from Ioannina. The Broome St. synagogue was built in 1927 and now houses a museum. On Sun., May 22, the synagogue hosted its second annual street festival. There was music, food, educational and craft vendors, glorious weather and a big, joyous crowd. There may even have been a sighting of a member of one of the “lost tribes,” top.


June 2, 2016




June 24 Event to celebrate the start of NYC Pride

VIP ROOFTOP PARTY June 25 The Hottest Pride Party Of The Year


June 25 NYC Pride’s exclusive Saturday event for women.

MARCH REVIEW STAND June 26 Stand at Fifth Ave and 8th


June 26 Celebrate with biggest and best talent from around the world

www.GayCityNews.nyc/Pride TheVillager.com

June 2, 2016



STAY SAFE WHEN DRIVING IN WET WEATHER Drivers must modify their driving habits when weather compromises their visibility and makes road conditions unsafe. Rain can fall any time of year, but tends to be most problematic in spring. According to the Federal Highway Administration, wet roadways, and rain in particular, are the main cause of weather-related vehicle crashes. The National Highway TrafďŹ c Safety Administration notes that, between 2004 and 2013, rain caused 573,784 crashes. To drive safely in the rain and avoid accidents, drivers should follow certain precautions.


June 2, 2016

s-AINTAINWINDSHIELDWIPers. Inspect and, if necessary change windshield wipers regularly to ensure they are working optimally. Always test wipers before driving in rainy weather. s 4URN ON LIGHTS WITH WIPers. Reduced visibility is a major contributor to wet-weather accidents. Drivers’ views may be hampered by falling precipitation and glare from wet roadways. Cloudy conditions and fog also compromise visibility. When using windshield wipers, turn on your headlights as well. This makes your vehicle more visible to other motorists and improves your own ability to see the road and

pedestrians. sÂŹ 2ECOGNIZEÂŹ CHANGINGÂŹ ROADÂŹ conditions. Roadways accumulate oil and engine uids that can oat in rainwater, creating slippery road surfaces. This is usually a problem during the ďŹ rst few hours of a rainstorm or in areas that receive little precipitation and then are subjected to downpours. These uids make rain-soaked roads even more slippery. Slow down, leave more room between vehicles and try driving in the tracks left by vehicles ahead. sÂŹ 2EDUCEÂŹ SPEEDÂŹ 4HEÂŹ AUTOmotive group AAA says hydroplaning, when the tires rise up on a ďŹ lm of water, can occur with as little as 1â „12 inch of wa-

ter on the road. The group goes on to say that tires have to displace a gallon of water per second to keep the rubber meeting the road. Drivers should reduce their speeds to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway. New tires can still lose some contact with the roadway, even at a speed as low as 35 mph. Therefore, reducing speed and avoiding hard braking and turning sharply can help keep the rubber of the tire meeting the road. s 2ELY ON THE DEFOGGER 5SE the car’s windshield defroster/ defogger to improve visibility. Turn it on early and keep it on until the rain has stopped and visibility has improved.

s2ECOVERFROMASKID3KIDS can be frightening, but when skidding, resist any temptation to slam on the breaks. Instead, continue to look and drive in the direction you want to go and slowly ease up on the accelerator. s3KIPTHECRUISECONTROL)TS important to maintain control over the vehicle in rainy conditions, so avoid using cruise control. s -AINTAIN TIRES 0ROPER ination and tire tread levels can improve traction. AAA recommends checking tread depth by inserting a quarter upside down into the tire groove. If you can see above Washington’s head, start

shopping for new tires. Check tire pressure on all tires at least once a month. Get an accurate reading when tires are cold and adjust air pressure accordingly. sÂŹ !VOIDÂŹ OTHERÂŹ DISTRACTIONSÂŹ $ISTRACTEDÂŹDRIVINGÂŹCANÂŹBEÂŹHAZardous during good road conditions and even more dangerous when visibility and other factors are compromised. Switch phones and other devices off so you can fully focus on the road and other drivers. Rainy weather can contribute to poor driving conditions. Drivers should make changes to speed and other factors to make wet weather driving as safe as possible.


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June 2, 2016


Diving into summer, but maybe not that swimsuit? RHYMES WITH CRAZY BY LENORE SKENAZY


t’s, like, so much fun getting ready for the summer. Here’s my to-do list: • Get new bathing suit. • Come on. Who am I kidding? Get out old bathing suit. Ignore the fact it predates the Bush era. • The W. Bush era, that is. It’s not like I never get a new bathing suit • It would just be nice if someday they invented an elastic that stayed elastic instead of getting crunchy after a decade or two. • Also, if someone made bathing suits that don’t go out of style every two (in glacial terms) seconds. • Quit obsessing about age of bathing suit! • Quit obsessing about age! “Only as old as you feel.” • Or is it “Only as young as you feel”? • Positive affirmation: I feel younger than springtime!

• Of course, springtime has been with us for a while. Ever since the Earth started spinning on its axis, right? Or at least since the evolution of plants? I do, for sure, feel younger than that. • Just not in my bathing suit. • Anyway: Buy sunscreen! • Choose: White glop no one in the family ever will use because it’s like slathering

on blue cheese dressing and pretending that that’s a normal way to walk around? The Buffalo wing look? • Or the clear spray-on stuff that costs more per ounce than Chanel No. 5? • Buy both. Mere presence of gloppy white stuff in medicine cabinet will protect family from skin cancer by appeasing angry Coppertone god. Can stay there for years. In fact, has. • Ignore whole article glimpsed yesterday that said a responsible family would go through a whole bottle of sunscreen in a day at the beach, reapplying after each swim. • I suppose this is the same family that cleans the coils behind its refrigerator on a monthly basis, as the manufacturer suggests, to “boost cooling efficiency.” As if it is so easy to move a fridge every month. • Or ever. • Which could explain our electricity bills. • Quit thinking about things you didn’t do in the middle of “to do” list! • To do: Get son’s health form. • Also to do: Stay on hold for 45 minutes waiting for pediatrician’s office to remember you are alive, on the phone, and had cheerfully responded, “Sure!” to “Can you please hold?” hoping that your

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Where are our leaders? To The Editor: There once was a time when the Village had caring, honest politicians, like Ted Weiss, who worked in cooperation with amazing citizens who worked hard to protect and improve the community — like Jane Jacobs, Verna Small, Ruth Wittenberg, Bill Bowser and Jim Shaw. The Village team defeated Zeckendorf when he wanted to bulldoze the historic houses; they set up a landmark district; they defeated the Lower Manhattan Expressway, which would have divided the city; they stopped Westway’s $4 billion interstate highway in the Hudson River that would have killed off a nationally important aquatic habitat. Where has the spirit of the Village gone? We are


overcome by greed, by politicians who don’t even care enough to save our only hospital and who work only for their own power and advantage. We are betrayed at every turn by those who are chosen to protect our community. Our beautiful neighborhood is being trashed by greedhead real estate schemes. Our lovely river is being hidden behind ugly development projects. Where are the heroes we once had? We need leaders with courage and honesty, not the go-alongs who are letting our Village decline.

chipper sympathy for their “crazy day!” would get you better service. So much for that. You want a crazy day? Try calling the doctor and, after the first 10 minutes on hold, realizing you really have to go to the bathroom. • Quit drifting off topic! Summer! Coming! Soon! Start exercising! • Start exercising God-given right to enjoy life without jogging, stretching, crunching. • If I want crunch, I’ve got the elastic in my bathing suit. • Get ready for guests: paper plates, napkins, tablecloths. • Feel guilty about using too much paper. • Feel guilty about not inviting people about not to be invited (but at least you’ll be using less paper). • Make guest list for festive (if small) barbecue and swim party! • SWIM? • In what? • To do: Buy bathing suit. • Or not. Happy summer!

Skenazy is a keynote speaker and author and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids”

mini-hospital” (news article, May 26): This is a real estate deal, plain and simple. Doing the right thing was always off the table. There are radical changes in patient services that are occurring that will reduce the need for much of the hospital labor force. For example, in a 10-day period, I spent two threeday admissions at Mount Sinai Beth Israel; the first time, they brought a big, heavy scale on steel wheels to each bed, removing the patient for weighing; on the second visit, the attendant simply plugged a device into the bed that weighed the whole bed, patient, bedding and all. Richard Kopperdahl

Bunny Gabel

More ‘efficiency,’ less care

Perils of new ‘golden age’

To The Editor: Re “Prognosis for Beth Israel: New E. 13th St.

To The Editor: Re “Prognosis for Beth Israel: New E. 13th St. mini-hospital” (news article, May 26): There’s a new disease afflicting all the great cities of the world: Midas-itis. At first, the inhabitants laugh hysterically all the way to the bank. But eventually they all sicken and die as everything turns to gold. Are the hospital emergency rooms ready for this plague? Minerva Durham

Don’t believe hospital spin To The Editor: Re “Politicians demand ‘clarity’ on whether Beth Israel is closing” (news article, May 19): The mayor won’t, unfortunately, stop this. He LETTERS continued on p. 38


June 2, 2016



Fleet Week lands in The Battery On Saturday outside Castle Clinton in The Batter y, Marines and Nav y officers showed how they do it, from t ying a Nav y neckerchief, to pull-ups to hand-to-hand combat. Vehicles and weapons were on display.


June 2, 2016



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Diversity initiative rejuvenates 13th Street Rep New cast keeps long-running ‘Line’ relevant



An injection of new talent, on stage and behind the scenes, is giving one of Downtown’s anchor theatres a few new pillars.

“Black Panther Women” plays at 13th Street Rep through Aug. 7.


Director, Joe Battista.” Battista, whom Michaels describes as a “journeyman theatre artist with a lot of experience,” is a graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, who has been on the staff of 13th Street for many years. One of Battista’s first official acts in his new position was to revisit one of 13th Street’s primary programming staples — the four decade-plus production of Israel Horowitz’s “Line.” To lead the effort, he hired Jacqueline Wade, founder and executive producer of Women of Color Productions (wocproductions.com), to recast and direct a rebooted version of the absurdist classic about a group of strangers jostling for first place in a line for some unspecified


ow comforting it is to know that in this too-too transient city, where beloved institutions bite the dust daily, there are some that still endure. A case in point is the 13th Street Repertory Theatre, an anchor in New York’s Downtown theatre scene since 1972. Two pillars of the company are New York institutions in their own right. Founder and Artistic Director Edith O’Hara turned 100 years old this year, and continues to serve the company in an emeritus capacity — and the company’s landmark production of Israel Horovitz’s “Line” has been open for an astounding 42 years (surpassing


the original run of “The Fantasticks,” which lasted from 1960 through 2002). But like relationships and sharks (to misappropriate a Woody Allen line), a theatre must keep moving or it will die. And this company is very much alive and kicking. To find out their secret, we spoke with 13th Street’s public relations representative, Jay Michaels. “Phase two for 13th Street began in 2014 when Susan Merson came on board as Managing Artistic Director, and she began the resurgence and rejuvenation the company is now experiencing. She brought in lots of new companies into the space. While she remains very much involved with the board and staff of 13th Street, last month she was succeeded by our current Artistic

event. The now-predominantly African American, multiracial cast is designed to “reflect the diversity” of contemporary New York and has been tweaked to include such facts of 21st century reality as the smartphone and earbuds. The resulting production’s success prompted Battista to throw the theatre’s support behind an entire series of works created by, and about, African Americans. According to Michaels, “Joe liked ‘Line’ so much, and Jacqueline had all these wonderful ideas about how to push the envelope and make a statement. So he asked her, ‘What else you got?’ ” REP continued on p. 28 June 2, 2016



L to R: Jenny O’Hara, Edith O’Hara, Carol Schaefer, Joe Battista and Arturo Toulinov.

REP continued from p. 27

The next show out of the pipeline was “Black Panther Women,” an original ensemble piece written and directed by Wade. This historical drama features an all-female, all-African American cast of a dozen, who tell the story of the rise and fall of the controversial Black Panther Party (1966-1982) from the point of view of its female members. The two-act docu-play focuses especially on key players in the party’s evolution, like Elaine Brown, writer,

singer and Black Panther Party Chair from 1974 to 1977; and Afeni Shakur, mother of hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur. The cast also portray male characters in the history, such as Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, and J. Edgar Hoover. Audiences have been flocking to the groundbreaking drama. According to Michaels, houses have been selling out. “Black Panther Women” is slated to play through August 7. Also part of 13th Street’s diversity initiative is “Yaki Yim Bamboo,” a family musical set on an imaginary


The current version of 13th Street Rep’s long-running “Line” acknowledges 21st century realities, such as smartphones and earbuds.

Caribbean island, which plays through June 12. And, coming in July, Michaels is directing his own one-man steampunk production of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” starring Matt de Rogatis. The company’s revitalization has been so effective that it has attracted independent work by outside producers, such as “The Over Share Cabaret: Sex, Love and Show Tunes,” a regular variety show presented in the 65-seat space by performer Mel DeLancey, who calls it a “fun place to work” that allows her “more ownership of the perfor-

mance space than you would have in a typical cabaret venue.” She first rented the space back in February and according to DeLancey, “The managers liked my energy and wanted a more youthful presence in the space.” From a theatre company that’s approaching the half-century mark that’s a healthy sign. The 13th St. Repertory Theatre is located at 50 W. 13th St. (btw. Fifth & Sixth Aves). For info, visit 13thstreetrep. org or call 212-675-6677.

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June 2, 2016


Back in Chelsea, Irish Rep makes a play for home ‘Shining’ is a fitting first for a revamped theatre BY SCOTT STIFFLER


nyone who’s ever introduced a nail to the business end of a hammer will eagerly testify that a clear vision of things to come is no match for the shocking lack of respect construction projects have for deadlines. So it’s more a product of steely resolve than luck that the Irish Repertory Theatre’s W. 22nd St. space is back in business on time, and, for the most part, functioning as planned — but it took a bold public declaration to ensure their line in the sand didn’t stray from its original location. “When we put a poster up outside the theatre with the date of May 17 as the first preview, and announced ‘Tickets are now on sale,’ everybody knew the doors had to open,” said Ciarán O’Reilly, Producing Director of the Irish Rep, regarding their return to a vastly improved version of the place they’ve called home since 1994, when the nomadic company put down roots in Chelsea’s 1911-built Stanwick Building. “We thought we would be in more toward the end of last year than now,” said O’Reilly, who admitted in an early May phone interview that this best-case scenario existed purely “in our dream world. So everybody thinks, as far as construction goes, we’ve ended up in an extraordinary place.” For a man whose stock and trade involves the fine calibration of drama to achieve maximum effect, “extraordinary” may actually be an understated description of the very nearly realized $13 million “Campaign For a Permanent Home” project that began in September 2014 — when Irish Rep co-founders Charlotte Moore and O’Reilly stood at the tip of stage left, gripped their


Matthew Broderick and Billy Carter in “Shining City,” at Irish Rep through July 3.

hands around a single sledgehammer, and took the first of many hefty swipes necessary to bring major structural changes and technological improvements to the two floors that their nonprofit arts organization had just gone from renting to owning. Although O’Reilly would spend the next 20 months making frequent visits to the site, it was the last time he’d wield an instrument of

destruction in the name of progress. “I wore the hard hat, that was mandatory,” he recalled, “but handling the tools would not have been allowed. There were four different contractors on the job, and it was run by the city,” whose $6 million IRISH continued on p. 30



New seats give the space some green cred (not to be confused with the silver LEED rating earned by the new HVAC and electrical systems).

Irish Rep co-founders Charlotte Moore and Ciarán O’Reilly administer a little tough love to the wall of their W. 22nd St. theatre, in 2014.


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IRISH continued from p. 29

contribution to the project was administered through the Department of Design and Construction. “There’s an awful lot of moaning about the city,” O’Reilly acknowledged. “But, at the end of the day, we had huge respect for them, working within a system that can be extremely complicated and dense. So you can grind your teeth and say, ‘Why is this or that not happening?,’ but they have a process to go through to make the system work for us. It took thousands of pages of paperwork, just to make things right. It’s taxpayers’ money at work, and has to be accounted for.” Irish Rep’s facade, box office, rehearsal, and administrative spaces underwent changes, ranging from the radical to the cosmetic. All of the major tasks are complete, although O’Reilly was quick to point out that visitors should note, “It’s not 100 percent. There’s a good number of finishes that are still on back order; wood paneling on the walls, special lighting for the pillars. That will happen throughout the summer. In the fall, we’re going to have the opening of the whole institution.” Certain signature flourishes remain; the lobby’s distinctive stained glass windows, for example. Other features are new, such as the air conditioning system, which divides the building into 14 different zones. The second floor rehearsal studio also underwent major changes; all the better to be occasionally cast in the role of community room and gallery space (through June 24, the newly christened Irish Rep Gallery presents Geraldine O’Sullivan’s “16 Letters” exhibition of collages based on correspondence before, during, and after the Easter Rising and the First World War). Spacious new bathrooms (both of them unisex, one wheelchair accessible) were added to the second floor, with a similar pair on the ground level inside the Francis J. Greenburger Mainstage — whose expanded height (now 24 feet, from its previous 12) creates, for those familiar with the original facility, the perception of having suddenly entered a grand loft space more likely to be found in an altogether different part of town. “You’re looking at two floors now instead of one, when you’re sitting in the theatre,” O’Reilly noted. To access the new 40-seat balcony, a wall was knocked down, during the addition of a lighted staircase (outfitted with a metallic mesh railing that furthers the aesthetic of openness). In doing so, it was good riddance to a portion of the theatre whose sight lines were a source of contention for


June 2, 2016


The Francis J. Greenburger Mainstage space, after its ceiling height was raised to accommodate a new balcony.


A staircase takes visitors to the newly installed balcony (in a later phase of its construction, wire mesh further contributes to the theatre’s newfound sense of open space).

audiences, actors, and directors alike. “We were very conscious of what we used to call our ‘jury’ section,” he said, recalling with very little fondness how it “forced us to cater to the audience to our right as well as to our main section in the front, where most of the seats were. In the old space, the couch [the focal point of their current production] would have to be much further back. Now, we can bring the actors right into the spotlight

and not have to worry about serving a profile audience. There’s a wing section where the ‘jury’ seats used to be, so we have a backstage that allows us to roll on scenery. We also have a beautiful new revolving stage.” Don’t expect to be dazzled by any of the imagery and action that sort of technology can achieve, should you (and you should) attend “Shining City,” the production chosen to launch Irish Rep’s

revamped facility. A brooding tale of the emotionally bruised and physically displaced, “City” manages to pack a wallop without deploying any of the flashy tech upgrades. “They’re permanent installations, to be used when a play requires five, six, seven scenes,” O’Reilly notes, of the tracking and revolving options. “I don’t think Charlotte and I would pick a season based on showing off those things,” he asserts, while politely declining to tip his hat regarding a summertime announcement that will list the choices for their next season. “It has to be the right thing to do,” he says of their new toys, “but it’s good to know that when the time comes, we can pull it off.” O’Reilly did, however, happily confirm that despite significant changes to the Mainstage space, Irish Rep’s good working relationship with sound waves remained intact. “We were living in dread of it,” O’Reilly said, recalling their maiden voyage with a full house. “It had somewhat perfect acoustics before. You really could whisper on the stage and be heard in the back row. And we were afraid, with double the ceiling height, we were going to lose that, which seems to not be the case. Sound travels well. The actors need to look up a little bit more to acknowledge the presence of the balcony, but it’s just a slight adjustment of the head, really.” More significant adjustments were required, however, when keeping every element of production in-house was no longer an option. Irish Rep’s W. 22nd St. base, O’Reilly notes, “had become a pretty well-oiled machine” before the walls came tumbling down. “We have really missed that feeling of going to one place where rehearsals happen, and where our offices are,” he said, noting that his schedule on any given day during the past year-and-a-half might involve an early morning visit to check on progress at the Chelsea theatre, office work in Midtown (on Park Ave., in the same building as the Irish Consulate), rehearsals at A.R.T./New York (Eighth Ave. & W. 36th St.), and then off to Union Square’s DR2 Theatre, where much of the past two seasons took place. It’s something more than coincidence, then, that “Shining City” speaks to the universal longing for a place to call one’s own, and functions as a reunion on more than one level. This is the first NYC revival of “Shining City” since its 2006 Broadway run — and it marks yet another Irish Rep presentation of Conor McPherson’s work, following IRISH continued on p. 31 TheVillager.com


Billy Carter as novice counselor Ian and Lisa Dwan as his estranged girlfriend Neasa in “Shining City.” IRISH continued from p. 30

“Port Authority” and “The Weir” during their time at DR2 (both polished and highly enjoyable productions, and similarly wrenching as “City” in their raw portrayal of those who yearn for roots while coping with loss). O’Reilly, who directs “City,” expressed gratitude and pride for the theatre’s “terrific rapport with Conor, whom we think is one of Ireland’s top living playwrights.” This work, he notes, “is almost all about dislocation. All of the characters are out of their homes, and trying to find a home within

themselves. It’s a quite seemingly simple play — one set, four actors; and at this time, with so much else going on, it seemed to have the right feel for us coming back.” Having old friend Matthew Broderick on board is another coup for O’Reilly, who notes, “I just sent him the script, not really thinking he was going to say ‘yes.’ But it was such a good script for him; quite different. It allows him to bury deep into something. He’s better known for musicals and comedy, which he has a huge flair for — but this was a different attack.” Stopping short of a review (“Shining City” is embargoed for such scrutiny until

A creative menu brought to you by Chef Franco Barrio with locally sourced produce serving New York style food in the heart of the West Village.

its official premiere), this publication can happily confirm that even in previews, Broderick’s performance as a guilt-ridden man — driven to seek counseling after a jarring encounter (real or imagined?) with his deceased wife — hits home, especially when confronting the sequence of events that led him to lose control, then lose his bearings. It’s a facet of the human condition that’s utterly appropriate, O’Reilly notes, for Irish Rep’s return to form after being “suddenly scattered to the wind. We were so used to steering our own ship, so we really missed the neighborhood. We never got over that.”

“Shining City” is currently in previews (then, running June 9–July 3). At the Irish Repertory Theatre (132 W. 22nd St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). Irish Rep’s 2016 Gala Benefit (“Finian’s Rainbow: In Concert”) happens Mon., June 13, 7pm, at The Town Hall (123 W. 43rd St.). The performance (hosted by Saoirse Ronan, with Tony Award winner Jim Norton in the title role) will be followed by dinner at Bryant Park Grill (25 W. 40th St.). For reservations to the Gala (single tickets start at $100; premium seating/dinner packages start at $500) or tickets to “Shining City” ($70), call 212-727-2737 or visit irishrep.org.

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

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR LETTERS continued from p. 24

promised he wouldn’t allow more hospital closings. But while I think he ran for office with high hopes, I think his “pragmatic,” money-minded side is coming through too much now. I don’t believe the hospital’s spin. I don’t. I’ve heard this before. “Too many beds”? Come on, now! I realize the hospital seems to be struggling, but I wish healthcare wasn’t based on money. Far too often it is. Medicare and Medicaid are being cut, aren’t they? They shouldn’t be, but they are. That’s unfair to all of us. That hurts the hospital. But I can’t believe the wild, phantasmagorical promises we’re getting from the hospital administration. They’re trying to seal their concept, just like a new brand of coffee. We’re supposed to be very impressed. We’re supposed to feel we’ll all be better off. Hey, if a hospital downsizes, who benefits? Our population is expanding, isn’t it? Carol Yost

Beth Israel North went quietly To The Editor: Re “Politicians demand ‘clarity’ on whether Beth Israel is closing” (news article, May 19): Do you know that Beth Israel North closed in 2004 in the face of only scant protest and media coverage? I wrote a column about it and I also got The New York Times City section to cover it — I was quoted in the article. Beth Israel North was located on East End Ave. across from Gracie Mansion. Once called Doctors Hospital, it had a wonderful emergency room, which saved my life in 2000 when I had bilateral pneumonia. It was just a great hospital that doctors still talk about missing. But I wonder if the mayor knows about it and that it was replaced by ultra-luxury condos. I’ve been told that many of its tenants rarely live there. You will agree losing these places of healing is disastrous. Bette Dewing

St. Vincent’s saved so many To The Editor: Re “AIDS Memorial supporters are the community, too” (talking point, by Keith Fox, May 26): St. Vincent’s Hospital and the Sisters of Charity provided healthcare to millions of New Yorkers for more than 160 years. For most of this period, patients relied on charity to fight disease and disability, often during a time when medical science didn’t provide the know-how to treat dreadful disease and disability. We’re talking about influenza (the 1918-19 epidemic), polio, TB. The list goes on and on. Without St. Vincent’s many would have died and/or suffered from disability. Not to mention infants and mothers who would have died without proper care. Whole families could have been wiped out. Let us not forget the “clouds of witnesses” overseeing relief to the sufferers. As horrible as AIDS was, we shouldn’t allow the years of help and compassion of 160 years of St. Vincent’s now to be buried under


June 2, 2016

the splendor of a billionaires’ playground. Let’s not forget our values. Gemma Fastiggi

Put hospital in memorial To The Editor: Re “AIDS Memorial supporters are the community, too” (talking point, by Keith Fox, May 26): Leaving St. Vincent’s Hospital out of the memorial is despicable. Without St. Vincent’s nurses and doctors, there would be no memorial. Eileen Dunn RN Dunn was president of the nurses union at St. Vincent’s Hospital

Stairway to heaven To The Editor: Re “Trees tower in P.B. vote” (news article, May 26): It’s great to see the DeWitt Clinton staircase funded. This will completely change the nature of that side of the park, as close to connecting it to the Hudson River Park as you can make it. These visual and accessibility cues matter. More to the point, I know it is something dear to Phyllis Waisman, an epic participatory-budgeting volunteer and facilitator. Great job by all of you, and a special thank you to Ms. Waisman, a genuine doer, who makes everyone else’s projects happen, with grace and civility. Patrick Shields

More shady developer deals? To The Editor: Re “No way! C.B. 2 pans Jane tower plans” (news article, May 26): Neighbors worry how something so bizarre could be built on beautiful, landmarked Jane St. We also worry that, helped along by staff at the Landmarks Preservation Commission and maybe the mayor, developers are encouraged to break with the standards of landmarking. Is there a bribe here? Certainly sounds like a possibility based on the pay-to-play schemes that de Blasio is being investigated for. A rightly cynical public is always wary about what deals are being made in the background. And guess what? Who is the lobbyist working for this inappropriate residence at 85 Jane St.? James Capalino, the ever-present wolf at the door. Elaine Young

C.B. 2 kicks the can, again To The Editor: Re “No way! C.B. 2 pans Jane tower plans” (news article, May 26): Thanks for nothing, Community Board 2. You

passed a unanimous resolution against 85 Jane St. because of its “monolithic glow-in-the-dark presence on a quiet Village street.” But when the Washington Place Block Association, the Greenwich Village Block Associations and others came to you with the same objection to the reflecting steel beams proposed for the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire building, all we got was a worthless town hall meeting that accomplished nothing and resulted in the royal brush-off from you. We had asked for a hearing before your Landmarks Committee, just like Jane St. residents got; we asked for a board resolution, just like Jane St. residents got. We needed you to tell the the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission that this ugly, noncontextualized “art” installation is “a stark, self-referenced intrusion on the... streetscape… .” We got nothing. Noreen Shipman

B.O.E. training is to blame To The Editor: Re “B.O.E. blames poll workers for chaotic primary” (news article, May 26): I am angry but not surprised that the Board of Elections says the problem with the primary on April 19 was that there were not enough savvy poll workers. I have for 10 years repeatedly advocated two measures that would increase the number of available poll workers: First, allow half-day shifts. Currently, poll workers must work from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. — an 18-hour shift. This is not true anywhere else in the nation. New York State allows half-day shifts, but the B.O.E. has not even answered my repeated request for split shifts. Recruitment would be a lot easier if a person could work from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., or 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. — but the Board of Elections has refused. Next, improve the training. Currently, poll workers must sit through a four-to-six-hour “training,” which is often confusing and demeaning, in part, because trainers are not vetted for competence but for politics. The classes are composed of a mix of new and repeat poll workers, so neither group is well-served. Then, the students must pass a multiple-choice test that is very poorly written — and many fail. I have repeatedly suggested ways to improve the skill of the trainers, the validity of the test, the relevance of the curriculum, and quality control for the poll workers. As a college professor of psychology, I am appalled at many aspects of the training — but the B.O.E. has never responded to my suggestions. These two changes — in hours and in training — are just a start. I know a dozen more aspects of the voting process that need reform. As a Democratic district leader, I have recruited many poll workers, telling them, “If you want to help your country, you can sign up for Afghanistan or for New York City primary day.” Some accept the challenge, and then tell me they will never do it again. The poll workers who show up, year after year, are heroic, working despite the B.O.E. The next primary is June 28 — will the B.O.E. improve by then? Keen Berger Berger is Democratic district leader, 66th Assembly District, Part A E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 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


Going for a spin at night in Washington Square Hula hoops with lights inside of them, photographed with a long shutter speed, made for some interesting patterns.


June 2, 2016



June 2, 2016


Profile for Schneps Media

The Villager  

June 02, 2016

The Villager  

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