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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 23, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 25

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2nd Ave. tenants sue city, Con Ed, landlord for ’15 gas explosion BY YANNIC R ACK

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round three dozen tenants have fi led a nearly $19 million lawsuit against the city and others in the wake of the fi ery gas explosion that killed two men and leveled three buildings in the East Village last March. A roster of current and

former tenants, including lead plaintiff and “Sopranos” actress Drea de Matteo, fi led a civil suit in Manhattan Supreme Court last Tuesday that blames the city and Con Edison for not cracking down on the illegal gas hook-up at 121 Second Ave. that led to the blast and subsequent fi re on LAWSUIT continued on p. 30

Punk photog makes ‘History’ on Kickstarter with new CBGB book BY BOB KR ASNER

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ew York, East Village, 1976. A local street photographer leaves his St. Mark’s apartment, walks into a bar full of punks and the rest, as he says, is “History Is Made At Night,” the eagerly anticipated monograph of images shot in and outside

of CBGB by Godlis. (He has a first name, but prefers not to use it.) The limited edition art book is about to hit the shelves, thanks to a very successful Kickstarter campaign and Godlis’s determination to produce a book with integrity. Godlis spent three years — 1976 to ’79 — on the GODLIS continued on p. 4

PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

P.S. 3 fifth-grade students sang about peace and tolerance outside the Stonewall Inn on Monday. See Gay Pride special section, Pages 17 to 23.

U’ground Railroad’s spirit keeps chugging Downtown BY ALBERT AMATEAU

T

wo events last week hearkened back to the days when New York was a station on the Underground Railroad and a center of the abolitionist movement that led up to the Civil War. One of those events was a reunion in Greenwich Village of the descendants of Sydney

Howard Gay, the editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard weekly newspaper, and of Louis Napoleon, a free man of color who conducted hundreds of fugitives from slavery through New York City to freedom in Canada and elsewhere. The June 14 reunion at the home of Otis Kidwell Burger, great-great-granddaughter of Gay, was organized by Don Papson, co-author of “Secret

Lives of the Underground Railroad in New York City: Sidney Howard Gay, Louis Napoleon and the Record of Fugitives.” Attending the reunion was Angela Terrell, great-great-granddaughter of Louis Napoleon on her mother’s side. Napoleon, born in 1800 and who signed his name with an X, nevertheless was instrumental RAILROAD continued on p. 6

Editorial: R.G.B. must back a rent rollback ..... p. 14 La Plaza Cultural rocks 40th anniversary .......p. 36 Handy Trump in Soho slam .....p. 8

www.TheVillager.com


State Committee race: A competitive race for Democratic State Committee is shaping up in the 65th Assembly District after John Quinn announced he is not runnning for re-election. Quinn has been busy helping out his wife, Alice Cancel, who, in an April special election, won the district’s Assembly seat left vacant after former Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted on corruption charges. Now that the Assembly session in Albany has ended for the year, maybe Cancel will learn to drive, Quinn said. “I drive her up. Keep her office tidy,” he said. “She doesn’t drive yet. She will take lessons. She knows not to let her husband teach her to drive. We want to stay married,” he quipped. Anyway, getting back to the race to fill Quinn’s seat, there are currently at least four candidates, including Dodge Landesman, Pedro Cardi, Christopher Marti and Lee Berman, who are running for the low party post, which has no salary. We hear Berman is being supported by District Leader Paul Newell. Landesman — son of Broadway theater producer Rocco Landesman, who was formerly chairperson of the National Endowment for the Arts — recently kicked off his campaign with a rooftop fundraiser at his parents’ Gramercy pad, at which he pulled in $10,000. Sharon Woolums, a member of the Village Independent Democrats political club, attended the shindig and said Landesman was great. “Dodge gave a brilliant speech full of passion and caring — hitting all the right notes — and I am totally on board with him,” she said. “The young lady running with him is also a great speaker and has her priorities straight.” Woolums was referring to Yuh-Line Niou, who, like Newell, is running for Assembly in the 65th A.D. in the September Democratic primary. Woolums said she met Dodge’s “illustrious” dad and can vouch that he definitely “is all that.”

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June 23, 2016

Photo by Bob Krasner

Brunchers can now beging knocking back Bloody Mar ys two hours earlier on Sundays in New York.

Cancel will also be running for re-election in that race, which features a crowded field of candidates. Landesman and Niou clearly are hoping that their newfound political relationship will be mutually beneficial, translating into more votes at the polls for each of them.

More St. John’s ULURP: Last week we reported that Community Board 2 would be weighing in on the St. John’s Partners mega-project, across from Pier 40 at W. Houston St., at its full board meeting this Thurs., June 23. However, the board’s Pier 40 / St. John’s Terminal Working Group, at an executive session the previous week, in fact, had decided they wanted more time to craft their resolution. We did not attend that executive session and the board’s online meetings agenda for June has not been modified to reflect that change. Long story short, C.B. 2 has gotten permission from the city to extend its deadline another month, so will vote on its advisory recommendation on the plan at its meeting next month, on July 21. The community board is reviewing the project, which will feature 1,600 apartments, nearly 500 of them permanently affordable, as part of the first leg of the city’s sevenmonth-long Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP. Tobi Bergman, the board’s chairperson explained the reason for the change: “We were trying to complete our resolution in time for the June full board meeting because the return date for our resolution is July 18, three days before our July full board meeting. While we have completed our public hearing process, the working group needs more time to write a comprehensive and responsive resolution. Fortunately, City Planning and the borough

president understood the problem and will give full consideration to our resolution if returned a few days late. Between now and the July meeting, the working group will meet a few more times in executive session, always in a public place to be announced on our calendar, and always encouraging the public to come listen. Our current goal will be to complete a draft resolution by July 15 for consideration at our full board meeting on July 21.” The public is free to attend the executive sessions, but cannot participate in the discussions. During the previous month, there were a series of public hearings held by C.B. 2 on the project at which the public could testify.

LA II on view: Fans of LA II, who famously collaborated with Keith Haring back in the 1980s, can see some of his new work — including painted mannequins and paintings — at Art Hamptons this week. LA II is represented by Lawrence Fine Art, which has a gallery in East Hampton, as well as in L.A., as in Los Angeles. “All I can tell you is his contribution to the art of his time is long overdue for reappraisal,” the gallery’s owner, Howard Shapiro, said of the local graffiti legend. “And he was cut out of it because he was a brown-skinned, Spanish-speaking Puerto Rican kid from the Lower East Side who didn’t know how to navigate the system. We are big fans of LA — he’s a humble, sweet guy who didn’t deserve this. In the past couple of years, his work has really come alive. There’s just a vibrancy to his art. It’s like he’s at peace with himself and the world. … We held a show for him three years ago called ‘LA ROC: Not Keith Haring.’ ” TheVillager.com


Brunch boozing can now start at 10 a.m By Colin Mixson

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mendments to the state’s archaic Alcoholic Beverage Control Law sailed through both houses of the state Legislature last week after Senate and Assembly majority leaders reached a compromise on the “brunch bill.� City bars and restaurants will now be able to start slinging drinks at 10 a.m. on Sundays. The changes to the Sunday drinks bill has resulted in a more moderate law, and locals are more-or-less pleased with the changes. “I don’t think it’s a problem,� said Tobi Bergman, chairperson of Community Board 2, “at least not in our neighborhood.� As originally proposed, the brunch bill would have allowed booze to be served at 8 a.m., as opposed to the noon prohibition currently in effect on Sundays. That legislation was based on recommendations by the 23-member Alcoholic Beverage Control Law Working Group — a so-called “blue ribbon� panel of industry professionals and their lawyers convened by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The working group included Steven Harris, president of the New York State Beer Wholesalers Association, and Kelly Diggins, senior counsel for North American Breweries. The group included only one local representative, however, Ebenezer Smith, the district manager of Community Board 12, which covers Washington Heights and Inwood in Upper Manhattan, leaving other local leaders feeling slighted that the state had left them out of the loop. “I think that some of the people who came up with these changes don’t know anything about our neigh-

borhood, and that’s why the laws shouldn’t be changed this quickly,� said Jeff Ehrlich, co-chairperson of Community Board 1’s Quality of Life Committee. Protesting the lack of local input was a cadre of Manhattan state and city politicians, including state Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblymembers Alice Cancel, Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried and Councilmembers Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez, who rallied together outside City Hall on June 3. They appealed to the state to provide locals with a more substantial opportunity to give input on Cuomo’s new legislation. With the bills now passed, some locals are still sore that changes reflecting their communities’ concerns were only made after local elected officials and community boards rallied during the very brief window of time between when the bills were announced in late May and voted on in June. “We have no way of knowing if the working group’s recommendations would have become law without the last-minute input from the community boards and elected,� Ehrlich noted. “What works for small towns Upstate does not necessarily work for a dense metropolis like New York City.� Another main gripe among locals with the suite of changes to the so-called ABC Laws was the threat of significant alterations to the “200-foot rule� for bar / restaurants. Changing that rule would have opened up the possibility of watering holes — albeit, only those with a kitchen — situating themselves adjacent to houses of worship and schools, and posing very real quality-of-life concerns for Manhattan neighborhoods already oversaturated with nightlife operators. Locals were concerned that bars would surround

cherished community institutions. But the bill that was ultimately voted through contained no changes to the “200-foot rule.� As to the Sunday brunch law, locals are generally satisfied that serving mimosas at 10 a.m. won’t infringe upon their beauty sleep on the day of rest. “We don’t see 10 on Sunday as a problem,� said Pat Moore, co-chairperson of Community Board 1’s Quality of Life Committee. “Eight o’clock is kind of ridiculous. I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t think it’s a problem. Most New Yorkers don’t go out to brunch until noon anyway.�

Photo by Bob Krasner

Brunchers can now beging knocking back Bloody Mar ys t wo hours earlier on Sundays in New York.

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June 23, 2016

gODLIS continued from p. 1

Bowery, late at night, documenting  the denizens, employees and the not particularly famous stars of that legendary rock ’n’ roll dive, knowing from the start that there was a book in it. “Galleries are great for showing your work,” he explained. “But with a book, for a reasonable price someone can take home your work.” Unfortunately, in the early ’80s the only publishing offers were for cheap quickies designed to make a few bucks. And that’s not what Godlis had in mind, as he planned to emulate the printed work of his inspirations, Brassaï, Robert Frank and Diane Arbus. The years went by and in 1997 the photographer was featured with several of his peers in a book called “Blank Generation Revisited — The Early Days of Punk Rock.” (Godlis’s shot of Patti Smith was on the cover.) But the book that he had in his mind still did not exist. Not that he didn’t try: That book had been rejected by numerous publishers over the years. Proof of his earlier efforts to push the book is a mixtape of C.B.G.B. bands, including The Ramones and Talking Heads, among others, that he had compiled as a promotional tool and distributed to potential publishers with a then-current technology — a cassette tape.  Time went by and  a few years ago a collector asked two questions while buying a print. The first was the one Godlis had been hearing for years: Why isn’t there a book? The second was the kicker (pun intended): Why don’t you do it yourself with Kickstarter? It hadn’t occurred to him before,  but Godlis knew that it wouldn’t be that simple. So, before he pushed the “launch” button, he spent months researching and developing the Kickstarter proposal, getting advice from photographer Henry Horenstein (his former teacher), Robert Gurbo (curator for the Andre Kertesz Foundation) and Michael Gramaglia (director of the Ramones documentary “End of the Century”), who would all go on to help with the book, as well.  Reward levels and strategies were decided as Godlis pre-

Photo by Bob Krasner

Brunchers can now beging knocking back Bloody Mar ys two hours earlier on Sundays in New York.

pared for the daily task of updates and promotion for the site. Daily postings would relate to song titles. Thirty-second advertisements — styled to look like Jean-Luc Godard 1960s movie trailers — would be uploaded to Instagram and Facebook. “It demanded a lot of attention,” he noted. “No one should do it unless they are really going to like doing it.” Generally a KS campaign will run for 30 days. He decided to run his for “40 days and 40 nights.” What he didn’t foresee was that the ensuing deluge would consist of money — even more than he needed. Early backers like Chris Stein of the band Blondie helped him reach half of his $30,000 goal in three days.  Within 48 hours  there was a Google alert on the project and  in six days, to Godlis’s astonishment,  he had actually reached the goal. But the project did not rest on the seventh day — it went crazy. “I thought someone had hacked my account,” he recalled. “Because Kickstarter

had put me on the main page as a recommended proposal, I was getting a new backer every 30 seconds. I felt like I had a hit record! I was prepared for everything to go wrong, but everything went right.” He ended up with $115,000 — minus KS fees — more than enough to do it right. He had more than 1,000 backers, having presold 850 books and 100 prints. “The numbers are overwhelming to me, and it was great, but you still have to make a book,” he noted. He hired award-winning designer Laura Lindgren, who is also the publisher of Blast Books, to do the design. That left a few open positions for Godlis. “I’m basically the editorial department, publicity department, accounting and production departments —  and the publisher,” he said. “This project is very close to my heart, and I wasn’t going to screw it up.” Blurb was the tool of choice for prototypes. But once the size, shape and the number of images were determined, it was

the editing and sequencing that proved to be the difficult part. “I spent two months putting the puzzle together — I didn’t think it would be that hard,” he said. But it still wasn’t right. A friend convinced him to put it aside for two weeks, which he did. It was the right move. “I came back and finished it in one day,” he said. “And once I had done that, I had to do a really great cover.” Since he was his own boss, he was able to choose the shot for artistic rather than commercial reasons. “A publisher would have made me put Patti Smith on the cover, and it was not a book about Patti,” he noted. The cover features a 1978 shot of a group of No Wave punks, including Harold Paris, Kristian Hoffman, Diego Cortez, Anya Phillips, Lydia Lunch, James Chance, Jim Sclavunos, Bradly Field and Liz Seidman. The title was easy, since he had chosen it years ago from an old Charles Boyer movie — “Not a very good one, though,” he noted. The foreword was handled by his “friend from back in the day,” director Jim Jarmusch. “I was overwhelmed by how much time he spent on it,” Godlis said.  Once the 2,500 books landed in the warehouse, the artist began the monumental task of signing and numbering the presold books, as well as packaging them with prints and sending them out to his backers.  The only thing left was to hand over the distribution to Matthew Leifheit of Matte Magazine, who is handling it under his Matte imprint. “I’m really proud of it,” Godlis said. “When I look at it, I can see every decision that I made. I shed a little blood for each page. I’m ready to get it into people’s hands.” The book launch is Thurs., June 23, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at Howl Happening Gallery, 6 E. First St. The gallery will feature a slideshow from the book on Thurs., June 30, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. For a history of the Kickstarter campaign, visit https://www.kickstarter.com/ projects /1745732143/cbgbpunk-photos-by-godlis-19761979-the-book?ref=discovery . For more on Godlis and his photograpy, visit his Web TheVillager.com


TheVillager.com

June 23, 2016

5


Spirit of abolitionists and Underground Railroad

Photo by Don papson

Otis Kidwell Burger, left, and Angela Terrell together last week at Burger’s house on Bethune St. Burger is the great-great-granddaughter of Sidney Howard Gay, a leading abolitionist newspaper editor, and Terrell is the great-great-granddaughter of Louis Napoleon, who conducted hundreds of slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. In a celebrated case, Gay and Napoleon worked together to ensure the freedom of George Kirk, a slave who had fled to the Nor th as a stowaway aboard a ship from Georgia. railroad continued from p. 1

in filing writs of habeas corpus in New York courts to enable fugitives from slavery to escape the clutches of slave catchers. The other event was the June 18 rally by Chelsea activists and local officials to preserve the Hopper-Gibbons House, at 339 W. 29th St., Manhattan’s only remaining Underground Railroad site. Demonstrators at the rally demanded that the owner of the 1846 building, Tony Mamounas, remove the fifth floor that he and his late brother illegally added in 2009. The building had been landmarked as part of the LaMartine Place Historic District. Preservationists won a court order to remove the fifth floor and the ruling was upheld on appeal in February 2015. “Still, after seven years, nothing has happened,” said Fern Luskin, an art history lecturer at LaGuardia Community College and a leader of Friends of the Hopper-Gibbons Underground Railroad Site. Luskin noted that Mamounas has lost the right to appeal further, but the Department of Buildings has failed to enforce the order to remove the addition. What’s worse, the owner recently ap-

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June 23, 2016

plied to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission with new plans to legalize the addition, according to Kelly Carroll, of the Historic Districts Council. “The persisting presence of the illegal fifth floor is an affront to our history, our culture and the law,” Carroll said. Preservationists especially resent the illegal fifth floor because the house was under siege during the Draft Riots of July 1863. The Hopper-Gibbons family climbed to the roof of the four-story building and fled east from rooftop to rooftop to Eighth Ave., where friends had a carriage waiting to take them to safety. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer told the rally that she had just come from a Juneteenth celebration in Harlem. The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, when federal troops landed in Galveston, Texas, to announce that the Civil War had ended and that all former slaves were free with rights equal to their former masters. “This building is part of our history and we don’t want to forget our history,” said Brewer, who remembered voting for the LaMartine Place Historic District when she was a city councilmember in 2009. Lesley Doyel spoke for Save Chelsea and the Council of Chelsea Block Associations.

PHOTO BY Daniel Kwak

At Saturday’s rally, Councilmember Corey Johnson looked up at the illegal fifth-stor y addition of the Hopper-Gibbons House on W. 29th St.

“We are all stunned that the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission is providing the scofflaw owner of this building with the opportunity to present new legalization plans for 339 W. 29th St.,” she said. City Councilmember Corey Johnson and aides to state Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried also called for the removal of the illegal fifth story of the Hopper-Gibbons house. “Why isn’t this guy in jail?” Johnson asked of Mamounas, adding that L.P.C. must not “reward bad behavior.” “Enough is enough,” he declared. “The city needs to come down with its full force of power and law [now] to stop this from happening in the future.”

Pat Waldo, a tour guide who is studying historic preservation at Pratt, said that the house’s history in the Draft Riots provides a symbolic warning during the “rise of Fuhrer Trump,” as he put it, of “how white working-class fears can be provoked in ugly and deadly ways. Now, more than ever,” he said, “it’s important for us to examine that connection.” Don Papson’s book about the Underground Railroad in New York City narrates the link between the families of Sydney Howard Gay and James S. Gibbons, owner of the house at 339 W. 29th St. Gibbons’s wife was Abby Hopper, the daughter of Isaac Hopper, a Quaker abolitionist known as “The Father of the Underground Railroad.” TheVillager.com


burns in descendants, Hopper-Gibbons struggle Gay’s wife, Elizabeth Neall, was the daughter of a prominent Philadelphia Quaker and abolitionist Daniel Neall. The Gay and Gibbons families were close in the tight little community of abolitionists and free people of color in a mostly hostile New York City. At the time of the Draft Riots, Gay, who had given up the National AntiSlavery Standard, was managing editor of Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune. The angry mob besieged the Tribune because Greeley, although not a supporter of President Lincoln, had come out in favor of the draft, with the option of allowing draftees to opt out by either providing a substitute to serve for them or paying $300. Gay, contrary to Greeley’s orders, brought arms into the Tribune office to hold off the mob. Greeley was also a friend of James Gibbons and a frequent visitor to his house at what is now 339 W. 29th St. Among the Draft Riots mob that attacked the house were men who egged them on shouting, “Greeley! Gibbons! Greeley! Gibbons!” The close association of Louis Napoleon and Gay is first documented, according to the book, in October 1846 in connection with George Kirk, who fled slavery as a stowaway on a ship from Savannah, Georgia. Napoleon and Elias Smith, a journalist with Gay’s Anti-Slavery Standard, conducted Kirk to court to prevent his return to Savannah. On Oct. 23, 200 black men gathered in New York City at City Hall Park to support Kirk’s bid for freedom. At one point, Kirk hid in the Standard office and was spirited out in a box. He was recaptured but freed after a trial in front of a sympathetic judge. Gay and others hired John Jay, the son of one of the Founding Fathers, to defend Kirk, who continued on to Boston. Papson’s book is based on the 79 boxes of Gay’s papers in Columbia University’s Butler Library of Rare Books and Manuscripts. The trove of documents was sold to the library 50 years ago by the mother of Otis Kidwell Burger, who hosted the June 14 reunion at her Bethune St. home. Sydney Howard Gay, born in 1814, died in 1888. He was buried in Hingham, Massachusetts, the town where he was born. His wife died in 1907 and is buried beside him. Louis Napoleon died in Brooklyn in 1881, three days short of his 81st birthday. He was survived by his third wife and was buried in Pleasant Plains, Staten Island, but the exact location is not known. Although filled out years after the end of slavery, his death certificate lists his occupation as “Under Ground R.R. Agt.”

With reporting by Sean Egan TheVillager.com

Photo by Daniel Kwak

Councilmember Corey Johnson and Borough President Gale Brewer, right, with preser vationists and activists who are fighting to get the city to remove the historic building’s illegal addition.

Photo by Daniel kwak

A Hopper-Gibbons activist hung flags before the rally to preser ve an iconic piece of American histor y.

June 23, 2016

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‘Teleprompter Trump’ in Soho slam vs. Hillary Donald Trump picked his grossly overbuilt Downtown Manhattan property, the Trump Soho hotel, for his speech Wednesday morning bashing Hillary Clinton. Trying to sound more “presidential,” he read from a teleprompter — something he has blasted other candidates for in the past. So we now have “Lyin’ Ted,” “Little Marco,” “Crooked Hillary” and, well...“Teleprompter Trump.” One news site, Wonkette, mocked his speech as “low energy” and said it made The Donald appear as if he was “under heavy sedation.” Said one observer, “He has a completely different

demeanor. He read a fact-filled speech for 30 minutes.” In his remarks, he called Hillary Clinton a liar, charged she made money off the Clinton Foundation in deals she cut as secretary of state, and doesn’t have the temperament to be president. He said the U.S. is the highest taxed country in the world — which is not true — and said that, if elected president, he would bring back good jobs to America. The front one-third of the room was filled with handpicked supporters, while the back two-thirds was press. Trump didn’t take any questions.

Photos by Tequila Minsky

Donald Trump chose his Trump Soho hotel for the setting for his big anti-Hillar y speech.

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COP PULLS GUN ON BIKER BY SCHOOL By Michael Ossorguine

P

.S. 41 had a scare on Mon., June 13, after word spread through the school of a “gunman on the loose” nearby on Greenwich Ave. What school administrators didn’t know was that the man with a gun was an off-duty police officer who had drawn his weapon against a group of bicycling deliverymen. The cyclists were led by Dejaune Jones, 21, who was arrested on charges of weapon possession, criminal mischief, menacing and harassment after on-duty police arrived at the scene. It wasn’t immediately clear why the off-duty cop brandished his firearm — whether he was incensed by Jones “smacking” his side-view mirror as he rode by or he feared Jones had a weapon of his own. Jones and his friends contend that the officer was cutting them off in a bike lane, and that the officer never showed his badge. (Greenwich Ave., though, does not have a bike lane, while W. 10th Photo by C4P St. does.) An off-duty police officer pointed “I was in fear for my life when his silver a gun at Dejaune Jones, above, afHonda darted out in front of me like that,” ter the cyclist smacked in the cop’s Jones said, adding he quickly pushed in car’s side-view mirror as Jones was the motorist’s mirror to squeeze by. “He trying to pass the car, which Jones T:4.313” then got out of his car, and walked tosaid was cutting him off.

ward me with his hand in his pocket. I went to pull out my cell phone when I walked back to his car. As I was doing that, one of my tools fell out for my bike, and I went to pick it up, and then he pulls out a revolver and points it directly in my face telling me to ‘Get down and drop what was in my hands.’ ” A video of the incident taken by Jones’s friends shows the bicyclists angrily shouting at the officer, “Put that away! Put that away! You’re on camera!” Jones can be seen advancing on the cop, though an alleged “8-inch ice pick” was neither seen on the clip nor later found. No weapon other than the officer’s gun was seen in the video. No shots were fired. Jones said what fell out of pocket was an Allen wrench — a small tool that is not a dangerous weapon. Meanwhile, the scene inside P.S. 41 was panic, as the altercation was witnessed during dismissal. One day after the devastating massacre in Orlando, any news of a gunman was enough to alarm school leaders, leading to a “shelter-in.” “The kids were sent into the auditorium and locked in there,” said an angry school parent who identified himself as a “physician in the area.” “Parents were hysterical. My babysitter said it best, ‘People could have trampled one another.’ ” Asked for comment, a Department of Education spokesperson did not fault the

school’s handling of the situation. “The safety and security of students and staff is our top priority,” Toya Holness, deputy press secretary for D.O.E., said. “All the students are safe.” The officer who pulled the pistol, Sergeant Gregory Abbott, was named the Sixth Precinct’s Cop of the Year in 2011 by the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce for his work leading the precinct’s narcotics unit. In this most recent situation, however, some say he was definitely overzealous. “I cannot fathom how it would be an appropriate response to draw your gun,” said Heather Campbell, a P.S. 41 parent. Abbott was not charged or punished for the incident, to the chagrin of some school parents and the accused bicyclist. Jones was released from the Greenwich Village precinct with a desk appearance ticket. The case is currently under police investigation. In addition, a P.S. 41 parent lodged a complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board against Abbottt, feeling he was too quick to pull his weapon. According to Eyewitness News, the cyclists were working as deliverymen for a caviar shop. Jones said the group was on their 3 p.m. lunch break, and were on their way to Mighty Quinn’s BBQ to celebrate one of their friends getting a job offer.

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10

June 23, 2016

BEFORE A SHELTER IS YOUR ONLY OPTION.

If you’re at risk of becoming homeless, call 311 or visit nyc.gov/homebase today.

Department of Social Services

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POLICE BLOTTER Wald murder collar On Monday, police announced that they have made an arrest and publicly identified the victim in the June 3 killing in the East Village’s Lillian Wald Houses. The deceased has been identified as Michael Ayala-Rodriguez, 21, of the Bronx. Police initially had been withholding his name pending notification of his family. Terrance Pugh, 24, a resident of 691 F.D.R. Drive, in the Wald Houses, has been charged with second-degree murder and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon. According to police, on Fri., June 3, at 1:52 a.m., officers responded to a 911 call of a male shot in the courtyard area of 890 E. Sixth St. Upon arrival, officers found the victim with gunshot wounds to the torso. E.M.S. medics transported the man to Beth Israel Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Earlier this month, a police spokesperson told The Villager that the victim had previous arrests for pot, plus a number of sealed arrests. “Could be narcotics related,� the spokesperson said. “He has a narcotics past. It looks like he’s a marijuana player.�

‘Stez’ gets stung

Nab neck puncher

around 1 a.m. His tag read “Stez� in silver spray paint. Upon a search, the officer found two cans of spray paint on the man, according to a report. Seamus Decker, 19, was arrested for misdemeanor making graffiti.

Scratch attack A woman was assaulted in front of 321 Sixth Ave. early last Friday morning, police said. The victim told police that around 2 a.m. on June 17, she was hit by a female stranger, causing scratches and bleeding on her right lower back. The victim was able to point out the woman to police. Shandaya James, 23, was arrested for misdemeanor assault. Police did not give a motive for the attack.

Hairy arrest Police received a report on Fri., June 17, at 10:30 p.m., from a witness who said he saw a man remove an item from the shelf and put it in his waistband at the CVS store at 65 Fifth Ave. The man allegedly did not attempt to pay for the stolen property — a CVS hair trimmer valued at $13. Police recoveredthe item. Joseph P. Stuart, 44, was arrested for misdemeanor petit larceny.

An officer said he observed a man making graffiti in front of 271 W. 10th St. on Fri., June 17,

A man leaving work in the Village on Thurs., June 16, at 5:45 p.m. was allegedly punched in the neck by a stranger in front of 526 Sixth Ave. The victim said he felt substantial pain and swelling.Carlos Samot, 39, was arrested for misdemeanor assault.

Emily Siegel and Lincoln Anderson

Sound off! Sound off! Sound off! Sound off! Sound off! Sound off! Sound off! Write a letter to the editor. News@thevillager.com

Sound off!





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CONGRATULATIONS TOWE THE GAY CITY NEWS IMPACT HONOREES — & THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMMITMENT IN MAKING NEW YORK THE BEST PLACE TO LIVE. ARE NOW ACCEPTING RESERVATIONS FOR THANKSGIVING TheVillager.com

June 23, 2016

11


Books, bar, arts, preservation and all that jazz

I

Steve Cannon receiving his Village Award from Andrew Berman, director of G.V.S.H.P., left, and East Village journalist Sarah Ferguson, who helped the blind poet find a new home on E. Six th St. after he lost Tribes’ longtime space at 285 E. Third St. t wo years ago.

conic local merchants and arts institutions, plus an ad-hoc group desperately fighting the planned redevelopment of low-scale Gansevoort St. in the Meatpacking District were the honorees at the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s annual Village Awards ceremony on Tues., June 14. This year’s honorees were Strand Book Store, family-owned for 89 years; East Village Meat Market; the Jaffe Art Theater for its interior restoration; Julius’ Bar, site of the famous “sip-in” protest, when several gay men, members of the Mattachine Society, claimed their right simply to order a drink in a public bar; Smalls Jazz Club; Steve Cannon, poet, playwright, novelist and proprietor of the East Village’s A Gathering of the Tribes art space; and Save Gansevoort, the winners of G.V.S.H.P.’s Regina Kellerman Award. Adding a light touch and wit to the evening, Bob Holman, founder of the Bowery Poetry Club, was the event’s emcee.

Andrew Berman presents the owners of Julius’ Bar, site of the historic 1966 “sip-in,” with a Village Award.

Zack Winestine, left, and Elaine Young, leading members of Save Gansevoor t, accepting G.V.S.H.P.’s Regina Kellerman Award for their effor ts in fighting the “Gansevoor t Row” project, which would redevelop and boost building heights on an entire low-scale block of the Gansevoor t Historic District. Shockingly and sadly, the cit y’s Landmarks Preser vation Commission recently approved the project.

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June 23, 2016

Photos by Tequila Minsky

Fred Bass getting a kiss from his daughter Nanc y Bass W yden at the Village Awards. The two run the historic Strand Book Store. TheVillager.com


ADVERTORIAL

DROWSY DRIVING CAN BE AS DANGEROUS AS DRIVING IMPAIRED The public is well educated about the dangers of driving while impaired by medication, alcohol or illegal drugs. But drivers may not be aware that driving while tired can be just as dangerous. Driving when tired can be a fatal mistake. Just as alcohol or drugs can slow down reaction time, impair judgment and increase the risk of accident, so, too, can being tired behind the wheel. Drowsy driving is reportedly what caused the fatal crash in June 2014 between a limousine and a Walmart truck that ended the life of comic

James McNair and seriously injured fellow comedian Tracy Morgan. The driver, Kevin Roper, was going 20 miles over the speed limit and was almost at his drive time limit, according to preliminary reports by the National Transportation Safety Board. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 100,000 car crashes in the United States each year occur as the result of an overly tired driver. Various studies demonstrate that drivers who have remained awake for 18 hours prior to driving

mimic the driving performance of intoxicated motorists. In fact, drowsy driving can be confused with driving with a high blood alcohol content. Sleepiness can arise relatively quickly, and according to Thomas Balkin, PhD, director of the behavioral biology program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and a leading expert on sleep and fatigue, it’s difficult for drivers to assess just how sleepy they are. “Sleepiness affects the part of the brain responsible for judgment and self-awareness,”

he says. “When you’ve reached the stage where you are fighting sleep, the effect of any method of reviving yourself can be very short-lived.” Furthermore, people do not have to be in a deep sleep to actually be asleep behind the wheel. Micro-sleeps occur when certain brain cells temporarily shut down for a few seconds. A person is not completely asleep but in a sort of fog as if they are asleep. When sleepiness sets in, the best course of action is to pull off the road. Opening the window, turning on the radio

or blasting cold air is, at best, only a temporary solution. If driving with passengers and feelings of sleepiness appear, hand the keys over to a passenger and have them take over driving, if possible. Otherwise, a short nap and a cup of coffee can be used in combination to increase alertness. It’s also a good idea to avoid beginning a long road trip in mid-afternoon around the hours of two or three o’clock. While alertness generally dips in the evening hours, due to the circadian rhythm, alertness also dips in the late after-

noon, prompting drowsiness. A 2010 study by the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety found that as many drivers reported falling asleep at the wheel in the afternoon hours as reported falling asleep late at night. Driving in a warm, quiet car also may spur drowsiness, as would driving after a heavy meal. Driving tired is just as dangerous as other impaired driving. Slow reaction times and unawareness of surroundings can contribute to accidents that are otherwise avoidable..

June 23, 2016

13


R.G.B. must vote for a rent rollback this time

EDITORIAL

O

n Tuesday, 20 members of the New York City Council wrote to the Rent Guidelines Board, urging them to support a rent rollback at their final vote this Mon., June 27, at 6:30 p.m. at the Great Hall of The Cooper Union in the East Village. We were glad to see that among the letter’s 20 signers were all of the local councilmembers in The Villager’s coverage area, Margaret Chin, Corey Johnson, Rosie Mendez and Dan Garodnick. We’re heartened by this strong outpouring of support for a rent rollback — and not just a rent freeze. Because by now, as well all know, so many New Yorkers are, by definition, “rent burdened,” meaning they are paying far too much of their monthly income toward their rent. And this reality cuts right to the heart of the city’s affordability crisis: In short, as former mayoral candidate and East Villager Jimmy McMillan put it so well, the rent is too damn high. And this isn’t just opinion, the rent really is too damn high. It’s backed up by the data. Three, four and five years ago — even during the depths of the

financial crisis — the R.G.B. repeatedly rubber-stamped rent increases based on exaggerated projections of landlords’ operating expenses. But now, under progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio and an R.G.B. composed entirely of his appointees, the board has been taking a hard look at the data and finding that rent increases aren’t warranted. For example, this past year, even though property taxes went up, fuel costs actually dropped steeply, lowering landlords’ operating expenses. In fact, because of the unjustified increases that landlords had been receiving over the years, what is now warranted is not just freezing rents, but lowering them — as in, a rent rollback. In May, the R.G.B. set a preliminary range for its recommendations on how it would vote, which has then been followed by a series of public hearings around town to gather input from the public. The board’s proposed recommendations this year call for 1-year increases for rent-regulated apartments to be somewhere in the range of between 0 percent to 2 percent and 2-year leases to be between 0.5 percent to 3.5 percent. In fact, these are the same as last year’s recommendations, which

resulted in a historic rent freeze for one-year renewals and a 2 percent increase for two-year renewals. Last year was the first rent freeze in the nearly 50-year history of the R.G.B. The year before, the board recommended a 1 percent increase for one-year renewals, which was the lowest ever at that point. Monday’s vote will impact the city’s 1 million rent-stabilized apartments, which house close to 3 million New Yorkers, or nearly 36 percent of the city’s entire population. De Blasio has, thankfully, made the affordability crisis an absolute cornerstone of his administration, and he pledged when campaigning to have a rent freeze. It’s long overdue after 20 years of mayors — Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg — who were unsympathetic to the plight of New York City residents. At the same time, the state Senate, led by Upstate G.O.P. members, has pushed laws over the past two decades that have severely eroded rent protections in New York City, such as adding vacancy decontrol and luxury decontrol caps — points at which, when a rent reaches a certain level, apartments can be removed from rent regulation. In short, the city is hemorrhaging affordable units due to these anti-tenant

Letters to the Editor A little about Deborah Glick To The Editor: Re “Sticks it to Glick” (letter, by Patrick Shields, June 16): Deborah Glick is a dedicated, hardworking member of the New York State Assembly, representing the 66th District, which encompasses Greenwich Village, Soho and Lower Manhattan. I have known Deborah Glick since the mid-’70s. We are neighbors — we live in the same apartment building in Greenwich Village. More than 30 years ago, I was fortunate to work closely

Evan Forsch

with Deborah. She was involved in organizing our building’s tenants when we were all faced with the landlord’s co-op plan. On behalf of all tenants, Deborah diligently worked with the negotiating team. Her major concern — a provision that protected non-purchasing tenants from paying for major capital improvements — was successfully negotiated. Deborah then served, in its early days, as president of the co-op, and afterward was an active participant in shareholder meetings. Deborah Glick’s record of success in Albany includes strong action on women’s reproductive health. She led the charge to codify Roe v. Wade in New York State law, sponsoring a bill to guarantee contraceptive coverage.

measures. To his credit, Harvey Epstein, a former chairperson of Community Board 3 who is now on the R.G.B., along with the board’s other tenant representative, did recommend a rent rollback, of -4 percent for one-year lease renewals and -2 for two-year renewals. Meanwhile, the board’s two landlord representatives, not surprisingly, voted against a rent freeze. However, a majority of the board — its remaining five members, including its chairperson — voted for the current proposed recommended ranges. Meanwhile, Met Council on Housing, a leading tenant advocacy organization, says what is justified by the numbers is actually a far steeper rollback — as much as one-third of current rents. Some say, though, it’s unlikely that the R.G.B. will vote for a rent rollback — that the recommended ranges determine their final vote. But then what are the public hearings for? In short, the R.G.B. is not bound by their preliminary recommendations. More to the point, the New York City Rent Stabilization Law of 1969 was enacted specifically because of “sharp increases” in rents that were RailRoad continued on p. 38

Glick sponsored the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) and marriage equality, highlighting L.G.B.T. rights. She is chairperson of the state Assembly Higher Education Committee. In that capacity, she has been fighting to fund CUNY and SUNY and has been a leading voice against the governor’s attempts to decimate CUNY with unconscionable funding cuts. She won that fight. She also has sponsored bills to protect students against predatory lenders and campus sexual assault and to keep tuition within reach of middle-class students. New York State public colleges have among the country’s lowest tuition rates. Deborah has always fought for our community. Just recently, she led the fight to keep the Elizabeth St. Garden for our community and was a plaintiff in the lawsuit that tried to prevent N.Y.U.’s overexpansion on its South Village superblocks. Deborah is a full-time legislator and is proud of it. She feels our community needs and deserves full-time representation. Anything less would be a disservice to her constituents. Deborah Glick has been endorsed by U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressmembers Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, New York City Controller Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, state Senator Brad Hoylman and Councilmember Corey Johnson. Glick is our honorable New York State assemblymember — who must be re-elected. Annette Zaner, Ph.D.

LETTERS continued on p. 38

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June 23, 2016

TheVillager.com


Returning to high school — this time as a lesbian

Notebook By K ate Walter

I

walked upstairs into the main banquet room and saw a bunch of old people. Am in the right place? I wondered, as someone shouted “Kate” and ran over to hug me. I was at my 50th high school reunion in New Jersey. When I graduated in 1966 from St. Joseph’s, a small co-ed Catholic school in Paterson, I was 17, and straight. My alma mater closed decades ago, but the reunion committee tracked us down. Would I be the only openly gay person there? After I came out, I’d bolted from my home state to Greenwich Village. When I’d left my Manhattan apartment that morning, I felt good about my outfit, my haircut. I’d even put on mascara. Then I got on the crowded A train to the Port Authority. “Would you like a seat?” asked a polite young woman with a nose stud. “No I’m fine, thanks,” I said, wanting to tell her I’d been practicing yoga for two decades and walk a mile to my full-time job as a college professor. When I got to the bus terminal, I stood on line behind a cute young lesbian couple who were kissing and touching. I’d been single for the past decade, ever since my long-term female partner dumped me after 26 years together, leaving me broke and brokenhearted. I hoped I wouldn’t be the only single person at this event. We’d had a reunion many years ago, but this time we were now senior citizens. I bet that’s why the party was in the afternoon. Maybe people had stopped driving at night. The restaurant was in Wayne, the suburb of Paterson, where many residents moved to after the riots in the ’60s. We grew up as the city exploded. I was guided to a table with name tags with our yearbook photos. Like all the girls in my class, my hair was teased really high and sprayed in place. We wore white V-neck blouses and a cross pendant. The guys wore jackets and ties. Thank God for the name tags. Some classmates were hard to recognize with wrinkles, weight gain, hair loss. Others had aged well. Everyone said they knew me right away. “Same face,” a woman told me. We greeted each other with hugs and kisses in an Italian restaurant called Amore. I felt sad when I viewed the poster honoring seven deceased classmates, including Clare, who pierced my ears at the Jersey Shore. Everyone was fascinated by old home-movie footage playing on an iPad — a wicked game of girls’ volleyball in our crummy gym space, a pep rally with cheerleaders doing cartwheels and splits. Our team was the “Fighting Irish,” although the school was a mix of Catholic ethnic groups: Irish, Italian, Polish, a few Hispanics. I looked at memorabilia — the program for the talent show, and recalled a big fight I had with my conservative father that night because he hated my bohemian folk singer outfit. I was well-liked but not on the A-list of girls, who were all cheerleaders. My status changed in senior

TheVillager.com

Kate Walter as a senior in her 1966 high school yearbook photo.

A clueless teenager, lacking queer role models, I didn’t come out until I was 25. Kate Walter

year when I started writing editorials for the school newspaper. Reading old issues, it was obvious my thinking skills needed work, but my voice and style were clearly emerging. I was a teenage columnist, and my classmates started paying attention to my opinions. I decided to become a journalist. I was well-liked but not on the A-list of girls, who were all cheerleaders. My status changed in senior year when I started writing editorials for the school newspaper. Reading old issues, it was obvious my thinking skills needed work, but my voice and style were clearly emerging. I was a teenage columnist, and my classmates started paying attention to my opinions.  I decided to become a journalist.  At the senior year talent show, I harmonized with a folk group and appeared solo playing my beat-up guitar and singing two original protest songs. I was

a hit! By graduation time, I was known as “our own Joan Baez.” I’d gone from a polite, smart Catholic girl to outspoken political writer, earning status without being a cheerleader. It was upsetting to learn our one black classmate, a star basketball player, didn’t want to come because he felt high school was not a good time for him. That shocked the guys who recalled good times shooting pool and playing basketball together. I could identify with his feeling like an outsider. I always felt different but I easily passed as straight. Clueless as a teenager, lacking queer role models, I didn’t come out until I was 25. Yet I was not the only gay classmate. I heard one missing grad was traveling with his husband. I wound up sitting at a table with six women (and two of their spouses) who I’d gone to school with from kindergarten to high school graduation! We reminisced about the nuns and lay teachers — kindly nuns, mean nuns, old nuns who should have retired. “Remember Sister Rita? She read the obits aloud every day in class.” “And pointed out where this dead person used to sit,” I added. “And told us where to find her pills if she had a heart attack,” said Linda. I was thrilled to see Sister Barbara, my old Spanish teacher at the reunion. Still a nun, now in her 80s and stooped over, she was a great teacher. I took three years of Spanish. After the buffet dinner, we table-hopped. I tried to say hello to everyone. When we had to vacate the room, we spilled outside and had drinks on the patio. No one wanted to leave. My old boyfriend, Bill, now a travel writer, was as funny as ever. He looked good. Fit from mountain biking, he sported a gray goatee. We recalled the first time we smoked grass in a VW van at a graduation party, noting the weed back then was not potent. A good friend (who dated him before me) said, “I love you, Kate. If I were not straight and married.” I was pleasantly surprised when Linda, an old friend, walked up with a copy of my recent memoir for me to sign. “That was an amazing journey,” said another classmate about my story of recovery from my bad breakup. As a small group gathered, I was touched to realize several of them had read my book. Under my yearbook photo, it had said: “Has a flair for writing.” Some classmates had been married more than 40 years to the same person; others were on their third marriage or were divorced and single (like me). Most had kids, grandkids and many lived in suburban New Jersey. I felt no qualms about being a single, child-free gay woman who lived in a loft in Manhattan. Our shared roots connected us. Someone even started a team cheer: “We are the Irish! The mighty Fighting Irish!” I was queer, but I felt a bond with these men and women, who got me then and now. Straight or gay. I was still me, except this time I was totally present.

Walter is the author of “Looking for a Kiss: A Chronicle of Downtown Heartbreak and Healing” (Heliotrope Books, 2015) June 23, 2016

15


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June 23, 2016

TheVillager.com


y a G de i r P

l a i c e p r S A ge nt a e l l Vi plem p u S

Pages 17 to 23 Photos by Tequila Minsky

Almost two weeks after the Orlando nightclub shooting, a memorial to the victims remains in front of the Stonewall Inn and across the street on the fence of Christopher Park. TheVillager.com

June 23, 2016

17


P.S. 3 kids shine a light for peace and tolerance By Michael Ossorguine t P.S. 3, the children say they feel a responsibility to stand up against hatred and violence. On Monday, a graduating fifth-grade class of 10- and 11-year-olds demonstrated this audibly. Instead of celebrating the end of the school year in their classroom, they sang a peace anthem outside the Stonewall Inn as a prayer for the victims of the Orlando massacre. At 8 p.m., as dusk was falling, a flash mob gathered, including teachers, advisers and school parents. Passersby also paused in their commutes to watch the chorus. The kids shouted, “Pray for Orlando!” as teachers quickly handed out candles. The mob held up signs saying “No Hate,” “No Guns” and “Now More Than Ever, New York Loves Orlando.” Before long, fifth-grade teacher Alan Tung started playing a karaoke tune on a boom box, and the class began singing, “When the Lights All Shine,” a plea for world peace. “The song has a great message,” Tung said. Tung — who is married to City Councilmember Margaret Chin — spent the whole year helping the class rehearse the multipart harmony, and has become a favorite teacher for many of the kids. “When the Lights All Shine” is a choral tune about people lighting candles in ethnically diverse cities all over the world until the Earth glows with their combined light, and “the journey to peace has begun.” “What happened in Orlando was terrible,” said a boy from the class, who enthusiastically held up a rainbow gay pride flag during the vigil. “The guy who did it was awfully wrong.” “We’re doing the right thing,” another boy said. The kids seemed ecstatic to be demonstrating in the name of peace and love. “I’m so happy we’re doing this,” a girl said after the song ended. “We could be in the classroom eating cake — or out here singing. I mean, this is a party.” Besides the Stonewall sing-in for peace, P.S. 3, in general, is very involved in activism and civil rights movements. The school community also includes many openly gay leaders. P.S. 3 conducts fundraisers and also “FUNraisers,” such as bake sales, “drum-a-thons” and “sing-a-thons,” and generally makes educating its students about justice and equality a priority. Alicia Saltzer expressed it well in a notice to the press summing up event. “The kids are devastated by the hatred and lack of progress they see in moving toward a world more like their own, where gay and straight, Muslim and Jew study together and play together more, and weep together less,” she said.

A

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June 23, 2016

Photos by Tequila Minsky

The young students’ song, “ When the Lights All Shine,” called for unity.

According to Saltzer, P.S. 3 students kids join their parents and friends in the annual Pride March through the Village every June. Saltzer, who is openly lesbian, is happily marrying her longtime partner this weekend. P.S. 3, known as the Charrette School, is described as a “child of the 1960s.” The Hudson St. school’s vision for a learning environment was crafted through a community workshop in the 1960s, and the same nonhierarchical structure and arts focus exists today. Coincidentally, another antiviolence rally convened outside the Stonewall Inn only minutes before the P.S. 3 vigil. Black Lives Matter protesters handing out fliers saying, “NYC SHUT IT DOWN,” gathered in Christopher Park, angrily shouting, “On our streets, on our blocks, we don’t need these killer cops.” The protesters demonstrated in the park for about 15 minutes, leaving just as the voices of the P.S. 3 children could be heard from Christopher St.

Proud P.S. 3 parents cheered their children’s per formance and their song’s message of world peace and understanding.

TheVillager.com


47 years after the Stonewall riots, New York University joins Greenwich Village in celebrating a turning point in LGBT civil rights.

We salute the leaders, friends, and allies, then and now, whose tireless advocacy continues to further equality, inclusion, and support for individuals from every community —

in New York City and beyond.

TheVillager.com

June 23, 2016

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Photo by Tequila Minsky

Unveiling the new Sergeant Charles H. Cochrane Way sign, from left, Cochrane family members, along with, from right, Borough President Gale Brewer, Councilmember Corey Johnson and Chief of Depar tment James O’Neill.

Pride at St. Luke’s

Brave officer’s name now flies proudly over Village By Tequil a Minsk y he officers, about 30 of them, were lined up two abreast, those with gold shields in the front. They were out and they were proud. Standing to the left of the seating area set up on Washington Place and Sixth Ave., these New York Police Department officers were celebrating, along with family, other officers and V.I.P.s, the co-naming of this stretch of Washington Place as Sergeant Charles H. Cochrane Way. Thirty-five years ago, at a contentious City Council hearing on a bill for gay rights, Sergeant Cochrane announced that he was gay. It was 1981, and Pat Burns, the vice president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, spoke against the bill at the hearing. Burns testified that he didn’t know any officers who were openly gay. It was at that point that Cochrane stood up and came out as a gay member of the N.Y.P.D. In opening remarks at Village ceremony last Friday, Police Chief of Department James O’Neill said, “Charlie had come out as a gay cop during a time when gay cops were afraid of losing their jobs and being physically harmed.”

T Now more than ever

Standing strong with our LGBTQ Community

REMEMBER AND HONOR |with music Fri. June 24, 7:30 pm The Cheah Chan Duo will present "Pride and Prejudice” songs by LGBT composers, poets, and allies celebrating Pride and honoring the memory of Matthew Shephard. In the wake of the recent tragedy in Orlando, the recital is being dedicated to victims of hate crimes. Phillip Cheah and pianist Trudy Chan with soprano Kathleen Conroy Cantrell . Tickets available at the door or online at prideprejudice.brownpapertickets.com.

MARCH WITH US | Sunday, June 26 (Meeting time and place TBD) St. Luke’s will be marching with the Diocese of New York and many Episcopal churches, led by the LGBT Concerns Committee. Meeting place and time for Sunday will be posted on St. Luke’s Facebook, Twitter and website on Friday June 24.

WORSHIP WITH US | Sunday, June 26 at 7:00 pm

Our festive PRIDE Evensong features our guest preacher The Rev. Steven Paulikas, Rector of All Saints, Park Slope, Brooklyn and our own Choir of Saint Luke in the Fields. This event is open to the public. All are welcome!

The Church of Saint Luke in the Fields | 212.924.0562 | www.stlukeinthefields.org 20

June 23, 2016

The first meeting for gay cops — members of Gay Officers Action League, or GOAL — was held in the St. Joseph’s Church basement, right at that intersection, which is why Washington Place was picked to honor Cochrane. Detective Brian Downey, the current president of GOAL, spoke movingly of the pioneering sergeant. “Today is a celebration, a celebration of a great man, a celebration of a man who exhibited great courage,” he said. Cochrane died of cancer in 2008. A color guard started off the ceremony, with the rainbow pride flag, a symbol of the L.G.B.T. community, flying alongside the N.Y.P.D. and American banners. Councilmember Corey Johnson spoke at the dedication as did Cochrane’s sisters Mary Anne Cochrane Dundresh and Nancy Cochrane Akgun. The sisters were presented with a painting of Sergeant Cochrane done by a fellow N.Y.P.D. officer. Following the unveiling of the new sign, Borough President Gale Brewer and journalist Andy Humm compared notes. They were both at that City Council meeting when Sergeant Charles H. Cochrane came out. TheVillager.com


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June 23, 2016

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We’ve got the Answers you neeD.

OFFICIAL PRIDE PARTNER

MetroPlus Health Plan cares about the health, safety and overall wellness of our LGBT members. We have compiled resources that are specifically committed to assisting your needs. You will find assistance with primary care services, health and legal support as well as information on marriage, family planning, and more. Visit MetroPlus.org/LGBT-NYC.

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June 23, 2016

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It’s in the bag: Surcharge to start in February By Michael Ossorguine bill requiring grocery stores, delis and bodegas to charge customers a minimum 5-cent fee for using disposable plastic and paper bags passed the City Council for the second time on Tuesday. The measure already passed the Council in May by a tight 28-to-20 vote. However, due to a threat from the state Legislature to pass a bill banning cities from imposing such fees, amendments were made to give the law a later effective date of Feb. 15, 2017. This would give businesses more time to prepare for the law’s implementation. These amendments forced the bill back to City Council for another vote. Following the City Council Sanitation Committee’s approval on Monday, the full Council again passed the bill on Tuesday in a 38-to-11 vote. The bill’s journey has been long and arduous, and has opposition from various interest groups since 2014. “People say they support fighting global warming, and they want to elect someone that’ll do something about it — but they have a problem with carrying a reusable bag in their coat pocket,” said former Congressmember Peter Kostmayer, C.E.O. of the Citizens Committee of New York. Among the bill’s sponsors, named

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were Councilmembers Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez, the latter who earlier had been an opponent, but came around to the idea. Disposable bags will now have a mandatory “surcharge” attached starting next February. The law’s goal is to limit the use of disposable bags and replace them with reusable cloth or mesh tote bags. Data from other municipalities that have enacted similar legislation show that the fee will cause a “drastic reduction” of the use of plastic bags. Supporters say the bag initiative will help lower the consumption of oil — from which plastic bags are made — and save taxpayer money spent on cleaning up the “urban tumbleweed” littering the city’s streets, rivers and tree branches. But opponents counter that the fee is a “regressive tax” that will hurt lowincome consumers who use the bags for multiple purposes, as well as harm the domestic plastics industry. Among those worried about the fee’s burden on low-income families is The Black Institute, a Wall St.-area think tank focused on concerns of the U.S. black community. “It is outrageous that this tax is not going toward further initiatives to benefit our environment or create jobs, but rather right into the pockets of private businesses,” said Bertha Lewis, the in-

stitute’s president and founder. “We need to go back to the drawing board and create a plan that engages communities about their environment.” The opposition is incorrect in calling it a government tax, however. Rather, it is a required fee that goes directly to the merchants. Councilmember Chin responded to the bill’s criticism in May. “The amended bill...is the result of months of discussions with my Council colleagues about how best to balance our need to reduce the billions of singleuse bags discarded every year with our desire not to unfairly burden low-income New Yorkers,” she said back then. “Plastic bags wreak havoc on our storm-drain systems and our waterways,” added attorney Jennie Romer, who was involved in writing the legislation. Her argument is seconded by the city’s Department of Environmental Protection. “We’re concerned with the physical stewardship of our city,” Kostmayer said, noting that more than 9 billion disposable plastic bags are used in New York City every year. The American Progressive Bag Alliance spent $3 million lobbying in California to delay an effective ban there on all plastic carryout bags. The effort may have paid off, as the ban was delayed, and awaits another referendum vote.

The A.P.B.A. had been actively attempting to delay the New York measure, as well. On the Web site bagthetaxnyc.com, key opposition talking points are listed, disputing the idea that all plastic bags are nonrecyclable and single-use, charging that low-income residents will have to pay more for their groceries and stating that “plastic bags comprise less than 2 percent of the New York City waste stream.” However, Romer countered, “It’s an avoidable fee,” saying that low-income families can easily bring reusable bags, including some that are handed out for free in city-sponsored giveaways. According to Romer, the City Council Sanitation Committee recently authorized the giveaway of around 2,000 reusable bags as the law’s implementation date approaches. The Citizens Committee is also planning more tote-bag giveaways. The bill reportedly lacked enough support when the fee was set at 10 cents per bag. In a compromise, the surcharge was shaved to 5 cents to secure majority support in the City Council. In addition, liquor stores and delivery orders are not subject to the mandate. Families that are in the federal SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) or WIC (supplemental food for women, infants and children) programs are also exempt.

TheVillager.com


An outsider sees it all

‘Psychic spy’ Ingo Swann was also an artist of vision

COURTESY LA MAMA LA GALLERIA

Installation view: “Ingo Swann: A Remote View.”

BY SCOTT STIFFLER

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prolific visionary held in high regard by peers from the realms of art, psychic phenomena, gay erotica, and Cold War counterprogramming, the multiplicity of paths blazed by Ingo Swann (1933-2013) are remarkable not simply because they are the achievements of a man ahead of his time, but also because he did not regard his abilities as exceptional gifts. We are all capable of tapping the cosmic consciousness, Swann insisted, if properly motivated to learn how. TheVillager.com

For Swann, that spark of desire was ignited in a Lower East Side apartment, when a recently acquired pet chinchilla became evasive before each night’s return trip to its cage. If this furry little creature could sense the plan well in advance of the action, then why, Swann wondered, did that same ability elude him? Within a few years, by the early ’70s, the self-taught artist had secured his legacy as a founding father of “remote viewing” — a phrase he coined to describe the practice of being given coordinates distant from one’s physi-

cal body, then describing the location in seven stages of progressively greater detail. Honed while at the Stanford Research Institute, Swann’s abilities and developmental techniques led to his employment at various clandestine agencies, where he became a valued member of the US government’s remote viewing program. Spurred by Soviet efforts to militarize extrasensory perception, the Star Gate project (original name, “Gondola Wish”) ran from 1977 to 1995. In later years, Swann would express regret for his time as a “psychic spy.” But by all

accounts, he never disavowed his firmly held belief that a penis — extracted from the pages of a men’s skin magazine — can never be too big, when recruited for use as the focal point of a multi-layered collage. Colorful and compelling and epic as all of this might seem, it merely scratches the surface of the tidbits, testimonials, insights, and aesthetic observations shared with a curious and receptive audience during June 19’s panel discussion. Held in conjuncSWANN continued on p. 26 June 23, 2016

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COURTESY LA MAMA LA GALLERIA

Ingo Swann: “Proto Adam” (1988-89; 52 x 61.75 inches).

COURTESY LA MAMA LA GALLERIA

Ingo Swann: “The Demonstration Showing How It’s Done: Social Comment Series” (Collage, 9.438 x 18 inches, on loan from the Collection of Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, gift of the Ingo Swann Estate).

tion with the exhibit “Ingo Swann: A Remote View” (through July 3 at La MaMa La Galleria), the well-informed panelists were every bit as eclectic and probing as the scope of their subject’s output during his 80 years on this particular plane of existence. To panelist Elly Flippen, Swann was a “cigar-chomping enigma.”

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Despite having lived with her uncle for a number of years over three separate periods, Flippen couldn’t say for sure if Swann had sustained romantic relationships, or explain with certainty why his decades of artistic output stopped a full 13 years before his death — but she did speak of him with great fondness, and a

glint in her eye that recalls the mischievous humor present in Swann’s most sexually charged visual compositions (such as the ’90s-era collage, “The Demonstration Showing How It’s Done: Social Comment Series,” in which a bearded leatherman straddles his male partner, while a phalanx of straightlaced ballroom debutantes wit-

ness the act of anal penetration from their background vantage point). Asked by this publication to what extent Swann lived as an out gay man, Flippen recalled, “Well, he dressed as a nun and went to Studio 54” — a jarring, but not necessarily contradictory, detail, when one brings that knowledge to a viewing of “Madre Doloroso.” Evocative on many levels, the 1986 painting conveys Swann’s adoration of the Virgin Mary (arms folded, she looks downward in a state of compassionate contemplation), his merging of the sacred and the cosmic (a cross-shaped constellation), and his concern for the fate of man (an atomic mushroom cloud, just beneath the Virgin’s torso). That painting, which graces the cover of Swann’s 1996 book, “Great Apparitions of Mary: An Examination of Twenty-Two Supranormal Appearances,” almost didn’t make it into the current exhibit. Panelist Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, Founder and Director of Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM), told the story of attempting to secure the painting: “Swann was particularly fond of the work, which he reluctantly sold,” Hoffberger noted. When the buyer passed away (followed by her husband a short time later), “nobody knew where that painting was.” With the search at a standstill, Hoffberger placed a copy of “Great Apparitions of Mary” under her pillow. The next day, the new owner contacted AVAM, expressing his willingness to sell. The asking price was beyond their reach — but Hoffberger kept the work, and Ingo, on her mind. Unbeknownst to her, the owner independently contacted Harrison Tenzer, curator of “A Remote View,” and moderator of the panel. Ultimately, the piece found its way back to Swann’s family, who will gift it to AVAM — where it will join five other paintings by Swann, as well a huge triptych that appears in the museum’s three-story central stairwell. Hoffberger does not regard this narrative as meaningless serendipity, nor does she view Swann’s art as “just a flight of imagination.” Citing frequent invocation of auras, spirit animals, gender fluidity, and swirling galaxies in his work, Hoffberger asserts Swann’s organization of subject matter and technical mastery of SWANN continued on p. 27 TheVillager.com


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any given expressive medium are the work of a man who is “tapping into something more” than wishful thinking and whimsy. “A remote viewer has to be in touch with reality, in order to project to a coordinate,” she said, praising Swann’s ability to execute the intangible act of creation, while also functioning as “a precise reporter, not an imaginative one” in his role as a remote viewer, and, later, an equally gifted teacher of that skill. Also marveling at the scope of Swann’s self-taught accomplishments was fellow panelist Hunter O’Hanian. As Director of Soho’s Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, O’Hanian described a common occurrence: leading museum tours, where Photoshop-savvy Millennials marvel at the discipline and resourcefulness of Swann’s collage work. This was an era, O’Hanian noted, when “cut and paste” meant the use of an X-Acto knife and rubber cement (whose strong fumes, Flippen recalled, left the uncle and niece feeling “really happy” as they toiled in his dark, congested basement studio — where, one surmises, good air circulation was not among the amenities). O’Hanian asked the audience to rise from their seats and join him to discuss six 8x10 collages, on loan from Leslie-Lohman’s permanent collection (which boasts 200 of those works, along with 16 paintings by Swann). The gallery’s rear alcove was a fitting location; tucked away from the large works of cosmic themes and import, an air conditioner situated mere feet away served to cool down the hot and bothered. “He was 36 in 1969, the year of Stonewall,” O’Hanian noted, taking those assembled through the gay imagery that Swann had access to, when building collages (eight layers deep in some cases) around naked men cut from the pages of gay skin mags like “Honcho” and “Drummer.” This technique necessitated other visual elements, such as the background environment, to be taken from art, historical, or decorative publications of the time; chosen not only for the mood they conveyed, but in a manner that complemented how Swann’s dirty magazine denizens were lit — as with “Awaiting Reincarnation and the Ecstasy of Re-Embodiment,” in which a disproportionately small farmer in overalls looks upon a naked young man, who sports a welcoming grin and TheVillager.com

a throbbing erection. “Who is he making these for?” O’Hanian wondered. It was one of many unanswered questions that, for all of their scholarship and insider knowledge, the panel was at a loss to fully explain. This seemed a fitting testimony; not so much to Swann’s enigmatic nature, as to what Flippen described as a “compartmentalized” existence in his latter decades, when artists, celebrities, clairvoyants, Manhattan socialites, and students from his remote viewing days were drawn to the building he owned on Bowery and East Fourth Street — the same space where, years before, a chinchilla who preferred not to be caged set his owner on a journey of sexual and spiritual freedom. “From an early age,” Flippen said of her uncle’s extrasensory instincts, “he was taught to suppress it, that it’s evil; like being gay.” “Ingo Swann: A Remote View” can be seen through July 3 at La MaMa La Galleria (47 Great Jones St., btw. Bowery & Lafayette). Free admission. Gallery Hours: Wed.–Sun., 1–7pm or by appointment. Artist info, and e-Books available for purchase, at ingoswann.com. Also visit lamama. org/lagalleria, leslielohman.org, and avam.org.

COURTESY LA MAMA LA GALLERIA

An installation view of Ingo Swann’s “Madre Doloroso” (1986, 50 x 42 inches).

COURTESY LA MAMA LA GALLERIA

Installation view: “Ingo Swann: A Remote View.” June 23, 2016

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Infinite talent’s beautiful teaser

Queer Art Organics is packed with naturals BY PUMA PERL

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PHOTO BY STACIE JOY

Queer Art Organics host Aimee Herman bares body and soul — and prompts others to do the same.

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imee Herman, a performance poet, writer, and educator, is very clear about her reasons for founding Queer Art Organics, a monthly series held at Dixon Place. “I wanted to create a space specifically for LGBTQ writers and performers, and to celebrate the immense range of talent in this city,” she told me. “We’ve had new writers and established ones as well. I wanted this series to be less about one’s bio and more about having an encouraging space to share work with a welcoming audience. I started going to open mics at age 18, and I still remember how it felt to be given three minutes to untangle my soul onstage.” As host and curator, she selects people she’s seen perform, but also responds to queries from people wanting to be featured, and to recommendations by friends and participants. Some of the artists are as new to her as they are to the audience. “Amazingly,” she told me, “I have never been disappointed.” The stripped-down, one-hour show, which Herman calls “a beautiful teaser of infinite talent,” consists of three or four performers, and does not limit itself to poets. Storytellers, comics, musicians, and performance artists of all kinds — including belly dancers and sword balancers — have been featured. My recent visit to the series demonstrated Herman’s success in presenting performers who vary widely in their experience. One of the artists, Charlotte Marchand, was reading in public for the first time. She enjoyed great support from the friends she had brought along and from the listeners, as she read excerpts from letters written by her late father. The prose piece was titled, appropriately, “Coming Out to My Dead Father,” and referenced the author’s experience in the women’s movement of the late ’60s and with the Weatherman, two topics that don’t often arise at readings. Trae Durica, another of the night’s features, describes himself as “genderqueer masculine.” Although he’s had some experience reading in public, Durica said he still feels like “a ball of anxiety and introversion wherever I read. But I do like reading in a queer, safe space, since I often write about my big queer life. I feel so much support in these spaces, where my story resonates with many others.” Accompanied by Herman on ukulele for the first few poems, Durica’s reading included work from his 2014 chapbook, “Cacophony Worth Remembering.” I was particularly moved by one of what he calls his “Decisions” pieces, in which ORGANICS continued on p. 29 TheVillager.com


ORGANICS continued from p. 28

he asked the questions “normal” people never get asked. “When did you decide you were straight?” it began. “When did you decide you were the same gender as what’s on your birth certificate? When did you decide to wear clothes that make you look straight?” “I feel that we need to keep creating these queer spaces where it’s safe for us to tell our stories for as long as it’s unsafe to be queer anywhere in the United States,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I want to read in any space where people are paying attention to performers instead of their cellphones.” The third feature of the evening, John J. Trause, opened his set by announcing, in a deadpan tone, that he wished to pay homage to Sappho — then, in a hilarious high-pitched voice, recited one of her poems in the original ancient Greek Aeolic dialect. “I’m a performance poet,” Trause told me, “but I hate being labeled that way. I am also a visual poet, a conceptual poet, a metrical poet, a spiritual poet.” Trause is the Director of New Jersey’s Oradell Public Library and his list of writing credits and published books is long. On this evening, he read some pieces from his brand new book, “Exercises in High Treason,” (great weather for MEDIA, 2016). He describes it as “a work of fictive translations, found poems, and manipulated texts.” In keeping with his self-description, the book is playfully arranged with a highly visual and conceptual appeal. “Even though I am a writer and librarian,” he said, “I love to reveal how words betray us. Since I have some real and some fake translation in my book, as well as other verbal transformations, I am committing high treason.” Queer Art Organics started at Brooklyn’s Branded Saloon in October of 2014, and moved to Dixon Place in February of 2015. “Dixon Place, which is all-encompassing, is my favorite New York City venue,” Herman declared, “because of its resiliency and incredible support to the queer community and to artists in general. I love that they offer free and low-cost shows.” This summer, the HOT! Festival, which is the world’s longest-running TheVillager.com

PHOTO BY LINDA RIZZO

Trae Durica reading from his 2014 chapbook, “Cacophony Worth Remembering.”

LGBTQ festival, returns to Dixon Place — and Herman is thrilled to have the series included in it. As usual, Queer Art Organics will offer what she describes as “a myriad of language.” “I want to continue to be inclusive and never feel elite in any way,” Herman said. “Any queer humans out there reading this who would like to perform are welcome to contact me by email: aimeeherman@ gmail.com. Sometimes the very best are the ones who’ve never taken the stage before. That’s so often when the magic happens.” Queer Art Organics is held at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St., btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.), usually on the second Wed. of every month. It is a free one-hour event and starts at 7:30pm. The next show is Tues., July 19, as part of the HOT! Festival (which runs July 5–Aug. 6). The series skips Aug. and returns in Sept. For more info, visit dixonplace.org. Recent work by Aimee Herman and John J. Trause PHOTO BY PUMA PERL can be purchased at greatweatherSappho tribute artist John J. Trause, with his latest book. formedia.com/books. June 23, 2016

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Market’s colorful wall says, ‘Come in, y’all’ By Yannic R ack

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he Essex Street Market got a makeover this month, when a Brooklyn-based artist took up paint and brush and covered the food hall’s brick facade in a colorful mural designed to attract foot traffic to the longtime neighborhood staple. The 76-year-old market off Delancey St. is moving into brand-new quarters in 2018, and its managers say the artwork is meant to remind locals that the market’s current location is still open for business — despite the fact that some seem to think otherwise. “When we announced that we would move to Essex Crossing in 2018, that created the impression for some people that we weren’t open anymore,” explained Lauren Margolis, the market’s vendor services coordinator. “But we want everyone to know that the market is still very much alive!” The historic market’s Essex St. facade now features a 200-foot-long mural by Brooklyn-based artist Gera Lozano, whose work has also graced the  Time-Life Building in Midtown and been featured at Art Basel. The mural — getting its finishing touches this week — features bright renderings of fresh produce and specialty foods, evoking the cornucopia available inside the market. Lozano also completed five separate canvases inside the market, spanning above the entryways and over the vendors’ stalls. Most of the market’s 23 merchants will relocate to a larger space in the long-awaited Essex Crossing megadevelopment across the street in two years. Margolis said the move would hopefully once again revitalize the venerable food hall. “We’ll have space for seven or nine additional vendors,” she said. “And the developer has agreed to cov-

Photo by YANNIC RACK

A color ful mural now graces the outside of the historic Essex Street Market.

er moving costs and new equipment for the vendors, so we’re really looking forward to it.” The mural isn’t the only way the market’s vendors association has been promoting its profile. A planted street seat was installed out front earlier this year and now invites passersby and customers alike to linger. In addition, the market has been spruced up on the

inside with a wall of black-and-white photographs taken at the market by Marcia Bricker Halperin in 1977. The vendors association is also planning to install an infographic that will tell the history of the food hall. The market was originally created as an enclosure for pushcart vendors, to keep them from clogging up the streets.

2nd Ave. tenants sue over gas explosion disaster LAWSUITS continued from p. 1

March 26, 2015. In their complaint, the tenants allege that the defendants failed “to observe significant and dangerous ‘red flags’ and malfeasance” on the part of the building’s owners, managers and contractors — who are also listed in the lawsuit and were already indicted on criminal charges in connection with the blast earlier this year. The defendants also failed to “properly test the gas lines” and relied “upon an illogical and antiquated system of enforcement, inspections and unreliable self-certification,” according to the suit. Maria Hrynenko, the owner of 121 Second Ave., her son Michael Hrynenko, contractor Dilber Kukic and plumber Athanasios “Jerry” Ioannidis illegally tampered with the building’s gas lines and failed to warn residents about the danger, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, who brought criminal charges against them in February. Prosecutors back then described

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an illegal scheme in which the defendants allegedly twice installed unsafe gas systems in the basement of the building — hiding the second one from inspectors’ view after the first was found and shut off by Con Ed. When a leak from the illegal setup of valves and hoses finally caused an explosion, Moises Locón, an employee of Japanese eatery Sushi Park, and Nicholas Figueroa, a diner there, were killed. The ensuing fire quickly spread to neighboring buildings 119 and 123 Second Ave., and all three structures eventually collapsed, dislocating scores of tenants. “Our clients have waited patiently for this investigation to near completion,” the tenants’ lawyers, Scott Agulnick and Mark Friedman, said in a statement. “They have lost their homes, belongings and have been financially devastated. We look forward to their day in court, and holding all those responsible accountable for their actions and inactions.” The civil complaint charges that, “in their construction...defendants illegally placed certain gas hook-ups and attachments to the gas mains and lines at the premises.”

It adds that the workers “failed to properly cap the gas lines and mains, [and] allowed gas to escape while working at the premises.” The residents charge that Con Ed also failed to obtain the proper permits for gas-related construction at the building and never alerted anyone when workers reported smelling gas. They further say the city was “reckless, careless and negligent in failing to properly maintain the utility infrastructure [and] gas delivery instrumentalities.” Stuart Lipsky, who lives with his wife and daughter at 125 Second Ave., said he signed on as a plaintiff to the lawsuit because he wanted to see the city and Con Ed held accountable — although the shock from the blast and the loss of his beloved cat will stay with him forever, he said. “What they took from me, I can’t get back: my peace of mind and my kitten,” he said. He quickly added, though, that many of his neighbors lost much more than that. “When you look out the window — their lives, they used to be there,” he said of the empty site where the three tenements formerly stood.

“For 22 years that was my home, my children’s home,” de Matteo told the Daily News last week. “We lost every memory, photograph, hard drive.” A spokesperson for the city’s Law Department said it was reviewing the complaint, and a Con Ed spokesperson said the utility company would respond to the lawsuit in court. In February, federal prosecutors indicted the owners of No. 121, which housed Sushi Park, and their contractors in connection with the blast. The Hrynenkos and their workers now face criminal charges of manslaughter, assault, negligent homicide and reckless endangerment. In addition, plumber Andrew Trombettas, was charged with “renting” his master plumbing license to Ioannidis so that the latter could get work on the property approved. All five are named as defendants in the civil suit, in addition to Neighborhood Construction Corp., Beta Plumbing and Heating Corp., SK Piping & Heating Corp., Stavros Kalogeropoulos, Sushi Park Inc., and Hyeonil Kim. TheVillager.com


Kids roll with it at annual Learn To Bike Day By Tequil a Minsk y

K

ids with bikes and helmets, under the watchful eyes of their moms and dads, were all abuzz at Mercer Playground on a recent perfect spring day. They had convened at the concrete-paved Parks Department strip that was constructed in the 1990s by the community group LMNO(P), with inline and roller skating, running games, scooters and bicycling in mind. And that’s why they were all  there during that beautiful May afternoon. “My original intention was to hold an event that is useful and brings the community together, and focuses attention on Mercer Playground, which is slated for destruction due to N.Y.U. 2031,” explained community activist Terri Cude, who organizes the Learn To Bike Day, now in its third year. “Best of all, it’s so much fun.”  N.Y.U. 2031, of course, is the university’s mega-redevelopment project, which will add nearly 2 million square feet of space to its two South Village superblocks. Cude and crew partner with Bike New York, an organization that brings an expert instructor — this year, it was Greg Paxton — plus volunteers to assist, and uses a special technique for teaching kids to ride. Ray Cline, resident chairperson of Bleecker Area Merchants’ and Residents’ Association, was the event’s bike-modifier-in-chief. “We first take the pedals and any training wheels off, so the kids practice balancing and gliding,” he said. “When they’ve gotten the hang of that, we put just the pedals back on and they learn to propel the bike while maintaining balance. It really works!” “Our event here in the Village is one of Bike New York’s best attended in Manhattan,” Cude said, beaming a smile. Cude booked the May date with Bike New York back in February and applied for the Parks permit, which was granted a few weeks later. The event, posted on Facebook, local blogs and parent e-mail groups, in pediatric-care facilities and in bicycle stores, attracted 30 kids — the maximum — ages 5 and up. In addition to local kids from the East, South and West Village and Downtown, children and parents traveled from Stuyvesant Town, Dumbo and even Jersey City to learn to ride. Most of the parents were not experienced or had previously been frustrated trying to teach their children to ride a two-wheeler without training wheels. Josh Wotman from Stuy Town brought his son Gabriel, who  was

TheVillager.com

Photos by Tequila Minsky

With pedals and training wheels removed from their bikes, the kids first learned to balance by gliding.

astride his shining new bike. “My son has had neurological problems since he was young, so this is a big thing,” he said, watching Gabriel practice balancing and gliding. While most brought their own bikes,  Bicycle Habitat on Lafayette St. provided Cude with three loaners,  plus fellow Community Board 2 member Jeannine Kiely lent one that her sons had outgrown, which came in handy for those without bikes. Cude pronounced the day a success. “This year, there were just a few tears, no serious crashes or meltdowns, and many proud smiles,” she said. “About half of the kids learned how to ride on the spot, some were getting very close, and a few need more practice and may be back next year.”  With volunteers helping and cheering on the riders, plus snacks, sidewalk chalk and bubbles to keep kids entertained when not riding, it was fun for everyone. The  afternoon was again sponsored by BAMRA, with the addition this year of Green Below 14, a new advocacy group for parks and open space. Coral Dawson, the co-founder and president of Green Below 14, reported that her son Luke, who was one of the happy, successful learners at the event, has since been showing off his new cycling skills in Mercer Playground, as well as several Soho parks. Mercer Playground, located between Bleecker and  W. Third Sts., is separated by a fence from the toddlers’ “Key Park” in Washington

A volunteer adjusted a seat post.

Square Village. In addition to being a good spot to practice cycling,  Mercer Playground is used mostly for lunchers and by preteens and tweens, who use it for games like red light/green light and tennis-ball hockey. In the summer, a sprinkler at the park’s north end refreshes the younger set. In autumn, local kids plant daffodil bulbs provided by New Yorkers for Parks near the decorative Mercer St. fence. And when the weather is good, the kids come out to run, roll, ride and scooter on the playground’s paved path.

Training wheels that were no longer needed after the class. June 23, 2016

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Photos by Sarah Ferguson

Peter Missing, right, and Surreal Hazard got the crowd charged up with an industrial metal jam and darkly prophetic lyric s.

La Plaza Cultural rocks out for 40th anniversary By Sar ah Ferguson

I

t was a throwback to the riotous ’70s and ’80s on the L.E.S., with some futuristic topspin. La Plaza Cultural, that iconic green haven on the corner of Ninth St. and Avenue C, celebrated its 40th anniversary last Saturday with a blowout show, featuring industrial metal jammers Missing Foundation, punk auteur Lydia Lunch and No Wave pioneer James Chance kicking it for the ages. Missing Foundation — a group the cops once blamed for instigating the 1988 Tompkins Square riot — led off with a driving, 40-minute set of rhythmic, free-form punk and scrap-metal banging, with lead singer Pete Missing shouting on a bullhorn about love, war, Tesla, drones, GMO’s and plundered utopias. “Rise up. We know who’s elected, we know who wins. Nobody! Occupy everywhere! We are here to save the world. Utopia is possible. Ignore the white culture…” he ranted, sounding like a cross between a messianic preacher and Sid Vicious.

36

June 23, 2016

James Chance came up next with a charged solo set that mixed his signature avant-jazz saxophone playing on top of old-school funk and ecstatic James Brown dance moves that he performed against his own backing tracks. And punk doyenne Lydia Lunch, who now resides in Barcelona, performed what felt like a group exorcism. Hailing all sorts of “alchemy” and “ghosts” from the past, she took the crowd on a tour through her “encyclopedantic understanding of narcotics and psychotropics.” She prognosticated about the U.S. as a country that feels “threatened by massacre and then arrogantly brags about gangbanging the whole f---ing world.” The event culminated with a “ritual performance” by the Brooklyn-based troupe Fold called “Birth,” which was supposedly inspired by Artaud but looked more like a pagan scrum with wine-soaked naked bodies and a bloody baby in the mix. There were also DJ sets by Sal Principato of Liquid Liquid, Etienne Pierre Duguay and Collin Crowe. A crowd of at least 200 people swamped the garden, lapping up the dance beats.

Downtown ar ts legend Lydia Lunch gave a tour-de-force per formance. La Plaza’s executive director, Ross Mar- that Martin and its other members felt tin, said he had hoped the evening would they could indulge in a night of raucous honor the radical history of this (origi- celebration without having the cops shut nally) squatted patch of green, which was the place down. As it says on the garfounded in 1976 by a group of Puerto den’s crumbling murals, “La Lucha ConRican ex-gang members turned commu- tinua… .” nity activists (a.k.a. CHARAS) and other You can catch Lydia Lunch and her guerilla gardeners. full band, Retrovirus, at the Knitting Yet it’s a measure of how well-estab- Factory in Williamsburg this Fri., June lished La Plaza has become since then 24, at 7:30 p.m. TheVillager.com


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Angel Eyedealism and Elizabeth Ruf-Maldonado, in background, were digging the scene at the garden’s 40th anniversar y par ty. TheVillager.com

June 23, 2016

37


Letters to the Editor

You! Customer NYC Services

Continued from p. 14

marks Preservation Commission!

L.P.C. needs help

Vicki Sando

To The Editor: Re “Critics blast new landmarks bill as ‘anti-preservation’; Say ‘loophole’ offers little hope” (news article, June 16): I’m all for landmarking buildings and neighborhoods to preserve the historic character. However, the city needs to hire more people immediately to review landmark applications. I own a building in the new South Village Historic District, and we’ve been trying to get some minor pointing repair work done on the front of it to stop water leakage into our tenants’ apartments. Our application has been with the Landmarks Preservation Commission for six months! Both my contractor and I have called and e-mailed the agency to press for updates on our application, but we’ve made no headway. Meanwhile, the water situation gets worse. It’s wonderful to want to preserve history, but there needs to be a much more efficient system in place before adding to a serious backlog problem at the Land-

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To The Editor: Re “It’s time to shut the back door for payday lenders” (talking point, Yuh-Line Niou, June 16): This is a toxic financial product that should not be re-introduced in New York. I hope this Assembly bill fails. Lisa Hurwitz 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.

Time for a rent rollback EDITORIAL Continued from p. 14

STRONG FOUNDATION. PROVEN COMMITMENT.

Say ‘no’ to payday loans

jeopardizing New Yorkers’ right simply to enjoy a tolerable standard of living. Specifically, the 1969 act was passed “to prevent exactions of unjust, unreasonable and oppressive rents and rental agreements and to forestall profiteering, speculation and other disruptive practices tending to produce threats to the public health, safety and general welfare.” With so many city residents paying more than 30 percent of their rent — the state’s official definition of “rent burdened” — it is high time to rectify the situation. Landlords are currently making 40 cents profit on every dollar of rental income. That is far more profit than most businesses make. Meanwhile, tenants are suffering tre-

mendously as a result of unaffordable rents that are eating up are too much of their income, leaving them unable to save anything or barely afford anything else. A rent freeze is great, but a rent rollback is what we need. The R.G.B. will hear it loud and clear — “Roll-back! Roll-back!” — from tenants at Cooper Union on Monday. The call will be even more thunderous than last year. The board must heed them. A rent rollback is the only way to keep New York from spiraling further into unaffordability. We are all suffering under unjustifiedly high rents. The R.G.B. must help start to end the suffering, and must follow the law of 1969 — roll back rents and protect tenants’ right to live without the crushing burden of excessively high rents. Roll-back! Roll-back!

CALL TO SUBSCRIBE

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Seniors learn how to use tude for healthy aging By Tequil a Minsk y

T

here were postings in local libraries, e-mail blasts and announcements in senior centers, which, along with the event’s catchy theme — “Living Well: Aging With Attitude” — accounted for the Rosenthal Pavilion at N.Y.U.’s Kimmel Center being packed for the Fifth Annual Community Health Forum, last week. Informational tables from local providers of healthrelated products and services — from yoga to hearing aids — circled the room, and participants were able to get information or discount introductory coupons. Max Gomez, the TV medical reporter, returned again this year as moderator, with presentations by professionals in fields that address the health needs and issues of older adults. Adding a lightness to the morning, Gomez shared a few quotes. “Old age is not for sissies,” he said, paraphrasing Bette Davis. “If you get up in the morning and something doesn’t hurt you, you’re dead,” he quipped. But the day went far beyond these sentiments. “I’ve met a number of centenarians,” he said, “and they all had in common — attitude and resilience.” Gomez reminded attendees that physical exercise, good nutrition and quitting smoking were all part of the path to good health. Throughout the forum and in different ways, the importance of balancing mental, social and physical activity was stressed. Dr. Tara Cortes, executive director of the Hartford Institute of Geriatrics at the N.Y.U. Rory Meyers College of Nursing, emphasized mental and social engagement. For example, she said, attending the health forum counted as being engaged. Cortes talked about the health benefits, such as helping stave off dementia, found in pursuing hobbies, social activities, volunteering or tutoring, learning something new, and being active in the community. Marie-Genevieve Iseli, a clinical psychologist, noted that older adults are happier than young adults. And while older adults can be depressed, they also respond well to therapy. “It might take a few sessions and they’re back on track,” she said. In addition, although older adults report physical issues to their doctors, they downplay emotional symptoms. “You need to advocate for yourself,” she said. Cortes also emphasized the value of exercise and emphasized, “Don’t isolate yourself.” Dr. Judith Gilbride, a nutrition researcher and academic, reported on the latest nutritional guidelines and needs for seniors. Cardiologist Dr. Jonathan Whiteson, a regular presenter at the forum, parsed the difference between activity — getting up, chores, walking around and exercise — with regular strength or aerobics movement for one hour a day, which he recommends four days a week. The goal is to exercise until you get fatigued, building endurance, he explained. Physical strengthening helps prevent falls, which account for 25 percent of hospital admittances for seniors, he noted. Alexander Grijalva, an information technology expert, quickly wrapped up the panel, sharing his insights on the benefits and pitfalls of the Internet. “Seniors are a growing market on the Internet,” he said. TheVillager.com

Photos by Tequila Minsky

Attendees could get their blood pressure checked.

Dr. Max Gomez, the Emmy award-winning TV health repor ter, was the Community Health Forum’s moderator.

In addition to all the free information, free massages were also available.

Some sites look great but can be misleading, examples of sophisticated marketing, he warned. He suggested two good Web sites with information on senior health: hnrca. tufts.edu and www.NIHseniorhealth.gov The event’s founder, Elizabeth Butson, is a former publisher of The Village and a current board member of VillageCare. Village Care, which operates the rehab facility on W. Houston St., partnered with New York University’s Office of Community Engagement to hold this increasingly popular forum. “Having been a journalist,” Butson said. “I’m always interested in information about health issues and in prevent-

ing illness and living an active and interesting life. “The aging population is increasing globally, and the Village reflects this increase,” she said, adding that providing relevant information to this population segment is important. Fifty people participated in the inaugural forum. This fifth installment, “Aging With Attitude” attracted 250 mostly local attendees, with representation from other boroughs, plus a group of women from Connecticut. One member of the senior center at 20 Washington Square North, a devoted attendee of these forums, commented, “You can always learn something.”

Elizabeth Butson, The Villager’s former publisher and the founder of the annual Communit y Health Forum, with attendees Nanc y Cogen, left, and Karin Mango. Mango has come to the forum all five years. June 23, 2016

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