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June 30, 2016






June 30, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 26

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

P.S. 41 parents want officer who pulled gun to be disciplined By Michael Ossorguine


fter P.S. 41 was put on a “soft lockdown” when an off-duty police officer drew his handgun on a cyclist nearby, school parents were stunned that the cop, Sergeant Gregory Abbott, got off scot-free. Complaints were filed, concerned calls were made to police, and last

Wednesday evening, a meeting was held at the L.G.B.T. Community Center, at 208 W. 13th St., to address the situation. City Councilmember Corey Johnson organized the meeting, along with state Senator Brad Hoylman, whose daughter attends the W. 11th St. school. Also at the meeting were guN continued on p. 10

Pommes Frites fries again in West Village; Relief $ greased way BY JASON COHEN The gas explosion that rocked the East Village in March 2015 took two lives, leveled three buildings and knocked five businesses out of commission. Fifteen months later, one of the shops, Pommes Frites, is back. The Belgian fries haven held its grand

reopening on June 20. Located on Second Ave. for nearly 20 years, the popular fast-food spot relocated to 128 MacDougal St., adjacent to New York University. According to Suzanne Levinson, Pommes Frites’ coowner, nothing can fill the void left by the deaths of NichFriTES continued on p. 34

Photo by Q. Sakamaki

At Sunday’s Pride March, a group of 49 people wearing white veils — organized by per formance ar tist Tigger-James Ferguson — bore silent witness to the Orlando Pulse gay nightclub massacre. For more photos, see Pages 6 and 7.

Stonewall celebrates a monumental moment BY ANDY HUMM While not quite as deep as the Grand Canyon or as tall as the Statue of Liberty, the 7.7 acres in and around the Stonewall Inn — scene of the 1969 multi-night rebellion that sparked the modern L.G.B.T. movement — were declared, like those iconic parks, an official national monument by President Barack Obama on June 24. Three days later, in the light of day on Mon., June 27, the area was dedicated as such by

federal and local officials and L.G.B.T. activists, including a handful of the latter who participated in the rebellion. This recognition of an uprising by L.G.B.T. outcasts — who were officially criminal, sinful, mentally ill and almost wholly closeted before that June 28, 1969, night — was an all-American inclusive affair steeped in patriotism. A soulful version of the national anthem was sung by actor Anthony Wayne. Village resident Edie Windsor, 87, who won federal recognition of

same-sex marriage in 2013 at the U.S. Supreme Court, led a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. She left out the words “under God,” which is the way she grew up saying it before Congress inserted the deity in 1954 at the behest of the Knights of Columbus. Windsor and her partner and later wife, Thea Spyer, returned to New York from a vacation the second night of the rebellion and soon became activists themselves. Monument continued on p. 8

Scoopy: Raffi’s reign of terror ending?.............p. 2 Only one option in Pendejo vs. Hillary..............p. 19 Gays to N.R.A.: GAG on it!�������p. 4


Reading and Writing Project, a network Literacy Leader and a literacy consultant. Jacqui’s core values focus on celebrating diversity, lifelong learning, curiosity and creativity. Jacqui’s leadership is guided by a belief that students learn best through inquiry and project-based learning. P.S 126 / M.A.T. reflects this philosophy in the buzz of engaged students, the celebration of student work in the hallways and the commitment to a rigorous curriculum. As a collaborative leader, Jacqui utilizes several methods, such as her Family Writing Group, weekly parent communication and an opendoor policy, to ensure families feel welcome and a part of the school.”

Raphael Toledano.

Raffi ready to cut and run? We hear from a reliable industry source that embattled young real estate tycoon Raphael Toledano is putting his entire East Village portfolio, containing around 20 buildings, on the market. “The word is he’s in trouble with his lenders,” the source said, requesting anonymity. “It’s Madison Equities, they’re very agressive. They had him do the dirty work — work over the tenants. It’s the whole Tabak portfolio — they’re marketing it for $150 million. This is real. It’s an off-market deal. It’s being peddled quietly — not on the open market. The real story is Raphael Toldeano’s short reign of terror may be about to end. I doubt they will say anything unless you have a contact who will go off the record.” Toledano could not immediately be reached for comment. Saving Singer? In related news, REBusiness online reports that Madison Reality Capital — which, the above-mentioned source tells us, is part of the same outfit as Madison Equities — has provided a $44 million first-mortgage loan to “recapitalize” Gregg Singer’s student dorm project at the former CHARAS cultural and community center, at 605 E. Ninth St., near Avenue B. The 110,000-square-foot building was built back in 1906 as a public school, which it operated as until the mid-1970s. “Proceeds of the loan will retire the existing indebtedness and provide capital for the pre-development,” according to REBusiness. “Upon completion, the five-story property will offer a vari-

ety of suite layouts and amenities, including a health center, fitness room and outdoor spaces.” We actually were not familiar with the term “pre-development,” which apparently means, “the phase of a construction project between the idea that a facility is needed, to the initiation of design.” Hmm...maybe the reason this project has been stuck in “pre-development” for so long — more than 15 years! — is because many in the community never felt it was needed in the first place! What activists and Councilmember Rosie Mendez say is needed is for a bona fide community center to be restored at the location.

Principal pick: We hear from Jeannine Kiely of the 75 Morton Community Alliance that Bonnie LaBoy, superintendent of School District 2, announced on Wednesday afternoon that Jacqueline Getz, principal for the past five years at M.A.T. / M.S. 126, has been selected to be the principal for 75 Morton / M.S. 297, the Village’s new middle school, as well as P.S. / M.A.T. 126, a District 75 school that will also be housed in the building. Both are set to open next year. “Getz is a great choice for a great school!” Kiely enthused to us. In an e-mail blast to local school activists, she added, “Jacqui’s work at P.S. 126/ M.A.T. has focused on refining the math and social studies curricula, integrating the arts, developing rich student discourse, and strengthening family involvement. As an educator for 30 years, she previously worked as an assistant principal at P.S. 234 and principal at P.S. 290. Jacqui has an extensive background in literacy and has served as a staff developer in the Teachers’ College


331 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10003 Phone: 212-473-7833 / Fax: 212-673-5248 www.sourceunltd.com


June 30, 2016

Punk out (for now)! ABC No Rio, the alternative arts and community center at 156 Rivington St., is set to be demolished in a few weeks so it can be replaced with a new environmentally sustainable building. It held its last Saturday harcore punk matinee this past weekend before the place was set to be vacated. “The [mosh] pit was more dangerous than I have ever seen,” PEOPS artist Fly posted on Facebook. “Later some punks were saying how great the new space would b with air conditioning. ‘WTF ?!’ I yelled at them. ‘We don’t need no f---ing air conditioning! That’s not punk!’ Was such a great time seeing lots of old-school ABC punks. … I was at the very first hardcore matinee in 1990 and at the last — in this building. Things will never be the same. UP THA PUNKS !!” Legislative lunch: Congressmember Jerrold Nadler stopped by the Greenwich House senior center at 20 Washington Square North earlier this week and spoke on a variety of subjects for a good 30 minutes. He touched on assault-weapons bans, the “No Fly, No Buy” gun-control bill and the Democrats’ sit-in in Congress, plus medicare and healthcare, and also fielded questions from the seniors, who had just finished up their lunch. Everybody in the pool! New York City’s outdoor pools, operated by the Parks Department, opened on Wednesday. Outdoor pool hours are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with a break for cleaning between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Downtown swimmers have their choice of the Tony Dapolito, Hamilton Fish, Dry Dock and Asser Levy pools. There is also lap swiming in the mornings and evenings, and awards for those amphibihumans who log the most laps over the summer. So go ahead and take the plunge!


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

Spy-cams case: The date for Arthur Schwartz’s spy-cams trial is set for Thurs., July 7, at 100 Centre St. As Villager readers will recall, the Greenwich Village Democratic district leader turned himself in for arrest last July at the Sixth Precinct after the managing agent at 95 Christopher St. charged him with theft. Schwartz had removed five small surveillance cameras installed in the hallway molding outside the apartment door of Ruth Berk, a nonagenarian longtime resident for whom he was acting as legal guardian. In his defense, Schwartz countered that he was merely stopping the harassment of Berk by the landlord. “I expect to be acquitted,” Schwartz told us this week. “On the day of trial, the district attorney may reduce the charges to get out of a jury requirement.” However, so far, the D.A. has actually added a charge. “I have refused all plea deals, so last time they added ‘criminal mischief’ as an ‘A’ misdemeanor,” Schwartz noted.

Jacqueline Getz.

Correction: An article in last week’s paper on the city’s planned surcharge for grocery and deli paper and plastic bags, incorrectly stated the City Council Sanitation Committee recently authorized the giveaway of 2,000 reusable tote bags as the regulation’s February start date nears. In fact, the committee O.K.’d the giveaway of around 200,000 reusable bags. TheVillager.com

Photos by Sharon Woolums

Park aflutter over Doris’s new personal pigeon By Michael Ossorguine Paul the Pigeon Man of Washington Square Park is known as a human magnet for the park’s pigeon flocks. But starting about a month ago, Paul’s pet pigeon Opal has been flying over to warmly greet Doris Diether, the veteran Community Board 2 member, every time she walks into the park on her daily routine. The graceful grayish bird with white wing tips flies straight to the revered “zoning maven” for her daily fix of peanuts. She pecks them

out of Diether’s hand while perching ever so comfortably on the octogenarian activist’s walker. Hovering around Diether, fluttering from one handlebar to the other, Opal hangs out with her for quite a while. Diether, who was recently featured in the “Humans of New York: Stories” book, has branched out into sharing her community fame with animals. Squirrels have also taken a liking to her. She says that she only needs to look over at a pack of them and make an enticing squeaking noise for the fuzzy critters to know it’s feeding time.





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The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for others errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue. Published by NYC Community Media, LLC One Metrotech North 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (718) 260-2500 • Fax: (212) 229-2790 On-line: www.thevillager.com E-mail: news@thevillager.com © 2016 NYC Community Media, LLC


June 30, 2016

Photo by Tequila Minsky

Anti-gun marchers staged die-ins along the route of the Pride March on Sunday.

GAG on it! Anti-gun group to N.R.A. BY DUNCAN OSBORNE


he 49 L.G.B.T. victims of the Orlando, Florida, nightclub massacre were a pronounced presence in New York City’s Pride March as a newly formed group of nearly 1,000 wended down Fifth Ave. to chants of “Trans, Straight, Bi, Gay, Gagging on the N.R.A.” and “F--- the N.R.A.” “The energy was terrific. We’re just getting started,” said Cathy Marino-Thomas, who was among the organizers who wrangled the group, Gays Against Guns, down the avenue behind a banner bearing the group’s name. The banner was designed by Gilbert Baker, the creator of the Rainbow Flag. The group, called “GAG” in some of its chants, signs and T-shirts, was formed by Kevin Hertzog and Brian Worth following the June 12 killings. The gunman struck on “Latinx Night” at the club and the dead and wounded were overwhelmingly Latino and African-American. Hertzog and Worth organized the contingent in two town hall meetings held at the W. 13th St. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. They were assisted by clothing designer Mari Gustafson, who held a silk-screen party at an East Village bar the day before the June 26 march and produced T-shirts reading, “N.R.A.: Prepare to be gagged,” “Gays Against Guns” and “Your tolerance is killing us.” A second group immediately behind the first part of the contingent marched behind a banner, also designed by Baker, that read, “Republican Hate Kills.” The group chanted loudly as it marched, and the crowds along Fifth Ave. frequently

joined the “F--- the N.R.A.” chant as GAG marched. At multiple points along the avenue, members staged die-ins and chanted, “How many more have to die?” as they fell to the asphalt. Performance artist Tigger-James Ferguson organized 49 people who were dressed entirely in white and veiled and carried posters bearing the photos, names and ages of the 49 people killed. This group marched silently and did not participate in the chants and die-ins, so they formed a sorrowful, almost ghostly presence that was powerful and respectful of those who died and contrasted with the political message of the first two groups. Several hundred groups marched in this year’s parade and hundreds of thousands lined the streets along the parade route. Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, marched, as did Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio. GAG was able to enter the parade past the deadline for registering because Corey Johnson, the openly gay city councilmember who represents the Village and Chelsea, invited them into his spot in the parade. Heritage of Pride, which produces the annual march and other events that commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots that mark the start of the modern L.G.B.T. rights movement, agreed to the change after some initial resistance. The day, however, was not without dissent. Three libertarian groups and a chapter of the Pink Pistols, a pro-gun L.G.B.T. group, held a press conference late in the day and challenged the prevailing sentiment that was seen in the march. “I have a license to carry in the state of Massachusetts because as a gay man I know

I am statistically more likely than almost any other demographic in the United States to be assaulted,” said Thomas Simmons, a Bay State resident who traveled to New York City. “I want the right to protect myself.” Simmons, a member of Outright Libertarians, was joined by Steve Scheetz, a member of People Against the Initiation of Violence and a Libertarian Party congressional candidate from Pennsylvania. A member of Pink Pistols was supposed be on hand to speak but could not leave work. Similarly, a member of the group Muslims for Liberty who was supposed to speak was stuck in traffic. Simmons’s broader point was that the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, is to be interpreted broadly to maximize the freedoms that document affords to the people. Limits on those rights, he said, effectively eliminate them. He also argued that it was common for federal, state and local governments to overreact to events such as the June 12 attack. “Every time there’s a crisis in this country, there’s an assault on the Bill of Rights,” he said. Scheetz said that self-defense was both legally and morally right, and that if people in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando had been armed, the outcome on June 12 might have been different. “Pink Pistols, they’re people who believe in self-defense,” Scheetz said. “I believe in self-defense — every person has a right to self-defense. Whatever tool you use for self-defense is fine by me… . If people were there and able to protect themselves, then people with guns, people who want to commit murder are not going to go to a place where they know people are armed.” TheVillager.com


June 30, 2016


Tragedy of Orlando, trashing of guns, triumph of

Photo by Q. Sakamaki

Securit y was ex tra-tight at this year’s Pride March. Heavily armed police officers guarded a stage featuring a drag per former, above. This year’s Pride March was an emotional and bittersweet mix of sorrow for the 49 victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting, defiant courage in the face of such hateful violence, and triumphant celebration of the newly designated Stonewall National Monument. The new group Gays Against Guns, or GAG, was out in force, staging die-ins and warning Orlando shooting-enabler Wayne LaPierre of the N.R. A . he better get ready to “GAG on it.” Hillar y Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, marched — but so did Babes for Bernie, a group of Bernie Sanders suppor ters.

Photo by William Alatriste / NYC Council

Hillar y Clinton was proud to march at Pride, along with Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Reverend Al Sharpton.


June 30, 2016

Photo by Tequila Minsky


Stonewall Monument mix at an emotional Pride

Photo by Q. Sakamaki

Photo by Tequila Minsky Photo by Q. Sakamaki


Edie Windsor, the Village woman who over turned the Defense of Marriage Act in the U.S. Supreme Cour t, cheered on Sunday’s march. June 30, 2016


A monumental moment for L.G.B.T. Americans Monument continued from p. 1

The crowd heard from Valerie Jarrett, Obama senior adviser; Sally Jewell, secretary of the interior; Jonathan Jarvis, director of the National Park Service; U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and the openly lesbian Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin; Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, who is credited with quarterbacking the designation locally; and Mayor Bill de Blasio. The Village’s openly gay elected local officials — state Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and City Councilmember Corey Johnson — also delivered remarks. The keynote speech was delivered by Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt, who was an 18-year-old participant in the rebellion and is now a prominent artist. He painted a vivid verbal picture of the Stonewall in 1969 — “a dingy, nondescript building that was like a speakeasy, run by the Mafia.” When the police hit the bar with a routine raid that night, he said, “we didn’t fight back because we loved the management of Stonewall, but because we were humanized in there,” the one bar where slow dancing — “a full embrace” — was allowed. There was much praise for the administration and local government officials who worked with the near-unanimous support of both the L.G.B.T. and Village communities to get the national monument designation in place, mainly through the city’s transfer to the federal government of little Christopher Park, across the street from the bar. “It takes a village to make a national park,” Secretary Jewell said, adding, “We want our history to be known and to reflect who we are — the diversity of our people.” Transgender activist Octavia Lewis acknowledged the atrocity in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub that was fresh in everyone’s minds. “We have not come far enough,” she said. “I want this to be a place where I can bring my children and not be fearful.” “We want to tell the American L.G.B.T. story to the world,” Gillibrand said. She added that she will continue to work with her congressional colleagues to make it “a national park, not just a monument,” though monuments designated by the president, like parks, are run by the National Park Service. Tribute was paid to the history of activism that led up to the rebellion by Obama adviser Jarrett, who cited Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon of the early lesbian group Daughters of Bilitis; Harry Hay of the Mattachine Society; Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings, who led a gay and lesbian demonstration each Fourth of July in Philadelphia from 1965 through 1969; Stephen


June 30, 2016

Photos by Tequila Minsky

Local politicians and federal officials unveiled the Stonewall National Monument on Monday on Christopher St. From left, Mayor de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, Councilmember Corey Johnson, Interior Secretar y Sally Jewel, state Senator Brad Hoylman, Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and A ssemblymember Deborah Glick.

A federal park ranger gave out commemorative postcards that people could stamp with a special Stonewall National Monument stamp.

Donaldson, the bisexual activist who formed the Student Homophile League at Columbia University in 1966; and the transgender patrons of San Francisco’s Compton’s Cafeteria who rioted over mistreatment, also in 1966. Jarrett also ticked off the achievements of the Obama administration on L.G.B.T. rights, from getting rid of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to its current efforts to protect transgender rights. Hoylman called Obama “our first gay president.” De Blasio said, “We are not going to sanitize our history, we are going to remember the struggle.” The Stonewall, after all, was a direct

rebellion against oppression by the New York Police Department. Two mini-acts of rebellion took place at the ceremony. Ken Kidd and Ann Northrop of Queer Nation unfurled a big gay pride rainbow banner reading, “Equal in Every Way,” behind the speakers platform, and none of the many government security or N.Y.P.D. personnel on hand tried to remove them. Veteran gay activist Jim Fouratt, a rebellion participant, walked out on the ceremony, writing in an e-mail later that while he supported the monument designation of the streets where the rebellion unfolded, the Stonewall

Inn itself “was a symbol of our oppression not our liberation.” He objected to the fact that no “reference was made to how the following three nights were organized in part by a small group of political gay men, including myself, disillusioned members of the Mattachine youth component, and gay antiwar activists and lesbians kicked out of the Women’s Liberation Movement.” Fouratt also objected to the “erasure of the Gay Liberation Front birthed in the third night of the Stonewall Rebellion.” Indeed, the historic significance of Stonewall was that it led to immediate and ongoing militant organizing in the community. Historian David Carter, author of the definitive book on Stonewall, said after the ceremony that there were around 30 gay groups at the time of the rebellion and 1,500 just two years later nationwide. Transgender activist Stefanie Rivera, 37, talked afterward about the continued peril “of going out and not knowing whether you will make it back,” plus the challenge of finding employment. “This should have happened years ago,” said her friend, Elizabeth Rivera. Veteran gay activist Steve Ashkinazy, a founder of Harvey Milk High School on Astor Place in the East Village, said he went to the Stonewall when he was 16 “because they didn’t card us.” He said of the ceremony: “I am emotionally moved and thankful every time I see progress and change.” TheVillager.com

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P.S. 41 parents want gun-pull cop disciplined gun continued from p. 1

Deputy Inspector Joseph Simonetti, the Sixth Precinct’s commanding officer; Lieutenant Daniel Albano of the New York Police Department’s legal division; Detective Jimmy Alberici, Sixth Precinct community affairs officer; Raniece Medley, director of outreach for the Civilian Complaint Review Board; and Heather Campbell, a P.S. 41 parent. In the incident, a bicycle deliveryman, Dejaune Jones, 21, slapped in Abbott’s side-view mirror after he felt the cop was cutting him off with his car. According to Jones — who was riding with three other friends — Abbott then got out of his car and approached him on foot. As Jones was walking back toward Abbott and reaching into his pocket for his cell phone, Abbott then drew his weapon and told him to get on the ground. A video of the incident taken by Jones’s friends shows the cyclists 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. The police, school representatives and Medley summarized the current situation from their respective party’s perspective, and then opened up the conversation for questions and comments. “As of now, the officer has not been disciplined, has not been found negligent in any way,” Simonetti said. He noted that the investigation is still open, and that numerous witnesses have been interviewed. However, parents were not happy with the scope of the investigation, saying they felt left out.

Photo by Michael Ossorguine

From left, P.S. 41 parent Heather Campbell; Raniece Medley, C.C.R.B. outreach director; and Deputy Inspector Joseph Simonetti and Detective Jimmy Alberici, of the Six th Precinct.

“Why am I not being reached out to?” asked an angry parent who said she was an eyewitness. “It makes me feel very much like it’s over.” Another parent said, “This person was standing right there. She can tell you exactly what happened. Why does no one want to hear from her?” Parents described a chaotic scene on June 13 of terrified children running from an unidentified gunman. Simonetti countered by repeating that the police are encouraging parents to contact the C.C.R.B. or the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau if they wish to provide information on the case. Medley of the CCRB explained that it is an independent agency that investigates civilian complaints against police officers regarding excessive use of force, abuse of authority, discourtesy or offensive language. The C.C.R.B. will hear a complaint, or a recounting of the occurrence, then “parses out” allegations within the complaint that fall into categories under its

purview, and conducts a professional investigation into the allegations. When the C.C.R.B. completes its research into a given complaint, each accusation is given a classification of “substantiated” or “exonerated.” If a claim is substantiated, the C.C.R.B. will recommend disciplinary action. If it is exonerated, then the board takes no further action. “There is never too much information to be had,” the Medley said. A complaint filed with the C.C.R.B. over the P.S. 41 incident charged that the police officer did not identify himself or show his badge while drawing his weapon, and displayed an alarming lack of judgment, drawing a gun only a short distance away from the schoolyard. A flustered school mother demonstrated her grievances by posting two photos on a bulletin board for display: one of the officer with his pistol in hand, and the other an eye-level view of the schoolyard from where Abbott was standing. The photo was taken around 3 p.m., the same time as the original

incident, and shows a schoolyard filled with children. “You had hundreds of children right there, literally right there,” the parent said. “He’s looking at this image, and deciding, in his best judgment, ‘I think I’ll take out my gun right here.’ How does that make sense?” Lieutenant Albano responded, “This is something that’s being looked at. We’re separately investigating this with our Internal Affairs Bureau.” Simonetti also contended that Abbott said, “Police!” at some point during the altercation, and noted that he was using an N.Y.P.D.-authorized firearm. There is also no regulation regarding an officer producing a firearm in a school zone. All of these factors were cited by police representatives. According to police, the sergeant made an off-duty arrest, which is permissible. Their records also show that apologies were made on both sides, yet the cyclist walked off facing multiple charges, including criminal mischief. Parents, however, were angrier that the officer was not disciplined. “I feel like the decision has been made. He told his story and that’s it,” said Alexandra Van Schie, a fourthgrade parent. Simonetti told Van Schie that the situation has not been resolved, but that many details of an active investigation cannot be disclosed. The meeting lasted one hour and had to end abruptly due to time constraints. Though the forum seemed to conclude with a common understanding of the situation, the parents were frustrated that the same thing could happen, and that the N.Y.P.D. would again stand behind their officers. Many speakers implied that there was a bias in favor of Abbott since he is a police officer. “It feels like that officer’s point of view outweighs ours,” Van Schie said.

Fentanyl found in two March L.E.S. OD victims BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


wo men found lifeless in a Lower East Side apartment three months ago died due to “acute intoxication” from a combination of substances — including acetyl fentanyl, a highly dangerous street drug — according to the city’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner. Both men also had been drinking, while one had also been using oxycodone and the other, cocaine, the M.E. said. Police responding on March 21 to Apartment 6D at 155 Ridge St. found the bodies of Loren Kirby, 59, who lived there, and Julio Fabian, 47, a resident of E. Fourth Walk in the East Village’s Lillian Wald Houses. The two were declared dead at the scene. Kirby’s roommate had reportedly


June 30, 2016

Loren Kirby, a celebrity hairdresser, and a friend of his were found dead in Kirby’s Ridge St. apar tment in March.

become worried after the pair didn’t emerge from the room for sometime — possibly as long as a day or two — and

had opened Kirby’s door to find the grim scene, after which he called police. Following toxicology tests for each man, last week, Julie Bolcer, the medical examiner’s director of public affairs, gave their causes of death. “For Kirby, the cause of death is acute intoxication by the combined effects of acetyl fentanyl, oxycodone and ethanol,” she said. “For Fabian, the cause of death is acute intoxication by the combined effects of cocaine, acetyl fentanyl and ethanol.” The manner of death for both was listed as “accident.” Acetyl fentanyl is a designer-drug opioid that is reportedly 15 times more powerful than heroin. Fentanyl derivatives have killed hundreds in Europe and former Soviet Union countries. Linda Griggs, a friend and neighbor of

Kirby’s, tipped The Villager off about his and Fabian’s deaths after they occurred this spring. Griggs said Kirby was a “hairdresser to the stars” with a national clientele. Back in April, when The Villager called the police press department to confirm the two men’s deaths and their identities, a spokesperson did so — yet gave Kirby’s gender as female. The police spokesperson said he couldn’t give an explanation for the confusion and suggested calling the M.E. But M.E. spokesperson Bolcer said that, due to privacy reasons, they couldn’t provide any information other than cause and manner of death. Kirby’s final entry on Facebook was Fri., March 18, at 9:39 p.m., when he shared a post by Lady Bunny — the famed New York drag queen and founder of Wigstock. TheVillager.com

Police Blotter Dawson cousin pleads Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr., on Wed., June 29, announced the guilty plea of Juan Scott, 28, for three separate sexual assaults in the East Village in 2014. Scott, a relative of actress Rosario Dawson, pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to burglary in the first degree as a sexually motivated felony and two counts of sexual abuse in the first degree. He is expected to be sentenced on Sept. 6, 2016. “Juan Scott sexually assaulted three young women in their East Village homes over a span of only five months,� Vance said. “Sexual predators are often repeat offenders... .� As admitted in the defendant’s guilty plea, just before midnight on June 2, 2014, Scott followed a stranger into her apartment building in the East Village and sexually assaulted her. The 23-year-old woman escaped and Scott fled the scene. In a separate incident, in the early morning hours of Sept. 21, 2014, Scott and a woman he previously dated got into an argument inside her East Village apartment. Scott pushed her onto her bed, sexually assaulted her, and slammed her head against a wall. In a third incident, on Oct. 17, 2014, at around 4:30 a.m., Scott followed a stranger into the elevator in her Stuyvesant Town apartment building. Once inside the elevator, he pushed the 20-year-old woman to the ground and sexually assaulted her. Multiple residents of the apartment building heard the attack and came out of their apartments, causing the defendant to flee the scene. The incident was captured on video, showing him jumping from Stuy Town onto a tree on E. 14thT:4.313� St., shimmying down and running south into the East Village.

Scott is a cousin of Rosario Dawson and was living for the summer with the Dawson clan in the former East Village squat at 544 E. 13th St. where the actress grew up. The building has been vacated and is being renovated as affordable housing, and the former residents will be allowed to return when the job is done. An anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers identified Scott as the perpetrator and police tracked him to his parents’ home on Long Island.

Fearless Jeep jump A woman told police that on Sun., June 26, at 7:40 a.m., she heard the car alarm in her 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee going off and went outside to check on it. Across the street from 19 Commerce St., she observed a man in the back of her vehicle. She ordered the man to get out of it and he refused. The victim had her car keys in hand, which activated the push-button start and the man jumped into the driver’s seat and was able to start the vehicle. The victim jumped into the Jeep as it pulled away and it came to a stop at the corner of Greenwich and Christopher Sts. Police arrested Christal Mccllech, 28, for felony grand larceny auto.

Houston head-butt

girlfriend. The second man then head-butted the first man, police said. The victim had a cut and bruising under his left eye. The attacker fled on foot but was stopped at 178 W. Houston St. by Houston Hall security. Steven W. Carlson, 27, was arrested for misdemeanor assault.

Christopher conflict On Sun., June 22, at 2:10 a.m., two men reportedly got into a dispute that ended badly on the corner of Christopher and Bedford Sts. Police said a man got into a verbal dispute with the 49-year-old male victim. The first man became irate and punched the victim in the left eye, causing cuts and injuries to his face. The victim’s glasses were also broken. Niquan Edmunson, 24, was arrested for misdemeanor assault.

Skyy-high scuffle An allegedly boozy and belligerent woman was busted at Christopher and Washington Sts. on Sun., June 26, at 9:15 p.m. An officer observed the apparently intoxicated woman swinging a glass bottle of Skyy vodka around in a public place, causing an unsafe condition. After the cop removed the vodka bottle from her, he said the woman then shoved with two hands another officer, causing her to stumble. Police arrested Karina Rivera, 26, for misdemeanor obstructing governmental administration.

Don’t ask for apologies at Houston Hall. On Fri., June 24, at 11:15 p.m. at the Hudson Square beer hall, at 222 W. Houston St., a man told police that he asked another man to apologize for spilling a drink on his

Emily Siegel and Lincoln Anderson 2  -!%"(,.0. ".&(2 ".. &/2-".+0- ". #-+)/%"(&--2/+/%" &/2 %+.,&/( *$"/!&. +0*/. +*$-+ "-&".)"!& &*"*! )+1&"/& '"/.



         Want an easy way to pay your bill, check your payment history and send your meter reading to Con Edison? Download our free My conEdison app at conEd.com/App. TheVillager.com



    June 30, 2016


Photos by Jonathan Alpeyrie

Tenants push for rollback; R.G.B. doesn’t roll like that Tenant groups, stridently calling for a rent rollback, turned out in force at Monday’s Rent Guidelines Board vote at Cooper Union’s Great Hall at E. Seventh St. and Third Ave. But despite an hour of ear-splitting chanting by the hundreds of tenants who packed the historic hall, the R.G.B. instead chose to repeat last year’s vote,


June 30, 2016

backing a rent freeze for one-year lease renewals for rent-regulated apartments and a 2 percent increase for two-year lease renewals. The board’s two tenant members did support a rollback of -4 percent and -2 percent for lease renewals, but their motion was voted down by the board by 7 to 2.


You found shoes in the freezer It’s never too early (or too late) to talk about Alzheimer’s support. Call our 24-hour Helpline. We’re here anytime you need to talk.

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June 30, 2016



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


June 30, 2016

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..


Photo by Tequila Minsky

Free pianos are the key to musical fun

The Sing for Hope project has placed ar tistically adorned pianos in plazas and outdoor spaces around the city. Individuals or groups can knock themselves out tinkling the ivories and belting out tunes. The piano above is outside Little Red School House, at Six th Ave. and Bleecker St.


(212) 867-3520

Please join us as we discuss‌

Elder Law 101 Breakfast July 14 at 9:00 AM

IHOP 235 East 14th Street, New York, NY

Medicaid Basics Lunch July 28 at 12:00 PM

Brookdale Battery Park 455 North End Ave., New York, NY

RSVP at (212) 867-3520 or by e-mail at mbiggart@burnerlaw.com TheVillager.com

June 30, 2016


Tom Martinelli, 73, gallerist who loved Village

OBITUARY By Katherine Martinelli


homas Peter Martinelli (Tom), a native New Yorker and longtime Village resident, died of a heart attack on May 28 in his home. He was 73. His candor, humor, knowledge of all things, and incredible home cooking will be missed by everyone in the neighborhood who knew him, and most of all by his family. Though Tom grew up in Flushing,

his father, Angelo, lived on Prince St. above the Vesuvio Bakery with his parents and five siblings after he immigrated from Avigliano, Italy, in the early 1900s. Angelo met Barbara, a first-generation Hungarian, at the Roseland Ballroom and they wed, moved to Queens, and had three children, of which Tom was the middle child. Tom’s love affair with the neighborhood started when he took the advice of his “Problems in Democracy” teacher at Holy Cross High School to get out of Queens and explore the Village. It was the late ’50s and he was immediately entranced. After a year at the Rochester Institute of Technology — where going to jazz clubs

Photo by Tequila Minsky

Bill Cunningham on his trust y bike in Soho in 2011.

Legendary lensman rides off and into the hereafter


ill Cunningham, the alwayson-the-go fashion photographer for The New York Times, died last Thursday after being hospitalized for a stroke. He was 87. A Boston native, he started out making women’s hats, but turned to fashion photography after headwear fell out of vogue. For years, he freelanced for the Times, relishing his independence, but finally became staff for health insurance after a bike acci-


June 30, 2016

dent. Until 2010, he lived in a small, spartan studio apartment above Carnegie Hall, without a kitchen or closet and just a small cot and shared bathroom. Cunningham was a familiar sight zipping around town on his bike, in his signature blue tunic, his camera slung around his neck. He had a knack for spotting the latest fashion trends on the streets, and his subjects ranged from ordinary people to socialites.

became more important than attending classes — Tom returned to the city to work as a printer at Jonathan Swift and Sons, at West and Bethune Sts., where his father was the night foreman. He worked there for 15 years, while also taking night classes at Queens College. This was interrupted by the Vietnam War, during which he served as a Naval photographer aboard the U.S.S. Forrestal, alongside John McCain. Tom moved to Jackson Heights for a few years, then finally rented a studio apartment in his beloved Greenwich Village, where he had spent nearly every free weekend of his adult life. He even took the bus to the city every weekend when he was in basic training in Virginia, so he could hang out in his favorite Village watering holes, like the Lion’s Head and the 55 Bar. Tom met his wife, Marjorie, in 1978 when mutual friends invited them to dinner at the Chinatown mainstay Wo Hop. They had a fun meal, followed by pastries and coffee in Little Italy and a bar crawl, led by Tom, through the Village. Both attest to the fact that it was love at first sight. Within a year, they were married and moved across the hall to a one-bedroom apartment, where they have lived since. In 1979, Tom and Marjorie quit their jobs, pooled their combined knowledge of the art and printing worlds, and purchased A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, on Bleecker St. They ran the art gallery, which specialized in contemporary prints and custom framing, until Tom’s retirement in 2012. The gallery was the last of the old-guard, independent shops on the block. Over the years, Tom became a neighborhood fixture. He could often be found standing outside the gallery “watching the world go by,” and chatting with neighbors and tourists alike. He counted many of his regular customers as friends, including luminaries, like Gregory Hines, Brice Marden and Jack Levine. Hines couldn’t pass the gallery without popping his head in to shout, “Hey, do you know the way to Carnegie Hall?” To which Tom would unfailingly reply, “Practice, practice, practice!” Tom had his shtick with everyone, from stars to the UPS driver. Each week, Tom would scan the local grocery circulars and pick out the best deals, making trips to multiple stores, if necessary. He would ask the butcher to trim his roasts or specially cut steaks to his specifications (the thicker the better). Almost every Saturday, he and his wife strolled over to the Abington Square Farmers Market for flounder and scallops. And every night he cooked. He prepared huge Italian feasts, simmered Sunday sauce all day, and smoked up the apartment cooking steaks and juicy burgers. He frequented many of the same shops that had been around as long as he, and had a particular affinity for Raffetto’s, Murray’s Cheese, Faicco’s, Rocco’s and Porto Rico Coffee. On the rare occasions he let someone else cook for him, Gene’s, Sevilla and

Tom Mar tinelli.

Pearl Oyster Bar were among his favorite restaurants. Of Tom’s many accomplishments, the one he was most proud of was being a father. He and Marjorie raised their two daughters, Katherine and Christina, in the gallery and their one-bedroom apartment around the corner on 10th St. The gallery was an extension of their home, where baby walkers and bicycles could be found alongside Motherwells and Hockneys. He loved being a parent above all else. When someone he cared about had a baby, his words of congratulations were always: “Now you know the meaning of life.” Tom often said that the greatest time of his life was when his two daughters were in elementary school at P.S. 3. The cooperative, liberal school welcomed parents into its classrooms, and Tom could be found there most weekday mornings, and was a beloved father figure to all the kids. Tom maintained his love for photography, and rarely left home without a small snapshot camera, which had been exhaustively researched in Consumer Reports before purchasing. One of his many hobbies was scanning his old negatives, which revealed decades worth of photographs of a changing neighborhood, in addition to plenty of his family. Although in some ways a classic New York curmudgeon, Tom was exuberant about the things he loved, and never missed a chance to brag about his family. Becoming a grandfather brought out the best in him, and he became even more silly, loving and encouraging than his daughters remember from their own childhood. He and Henry, his 2-year-old grandson — who lovingly called him “Papa Tom” — had a special relationship that made everyone who witnessed them together smile. Tom’s passing leaves a hole not only in the hearts of his loved ones, but also in this neighborhood. Tom is survived by his wife Marjorie, daughters Katherine and Christina, son-in-law Evan, grandson Henry, and sister Ann, as well as numerous beloved cousins, nieces and nephews. He will be missed. TheVillager.com

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June 30, 2016


The Donald would likely appreciate this Washington Square Park panhandler’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Letters to the editor Our right simply to be To The Editor: Re “Memories of the Ramrod and faith-based terrorism” (talking point, by Tim Gay, June 16): When I heard about the Orlando massacre, my thoughts went quickly to the Ramrod shootings. I was a naive baby dyke who had only moved to New York City the year before the 1980 shootings. For too many years afterward, whenever we gathered at large gay events outdoors, I always looked around and up expecting someone else who hated us to be there with a gun. But we still gathered and gave witness to our right to be.

Evan Forsch

My heart is heavy with the losses in Orlando, and my heart is full with the bravery of our community as we celebrate our lives.

Photo by Tequila Minsky

those funds to the M1, M6 and M5 buses, so they can be restored to their previous routes. That way residents would have the bus service they need instead of all those meetings with the M.T.A. that go nowhere. After all, a ferry is more expensive to run than a bus.

Kim Brinster

Sylvia Rackow

Float those funds to buses

Street-fair emergency!

To The Editor: It seems to me, if there’s so much money available for the city’s planned new citywide ferry service, a way should be found to return some of

To The Editor: For years now, street fairs that shut down avenues, not only in the East Village, but all over town, have been contributing to an increasingly lower quality of life here in the city. I’m more than sympathetic to everyone who works hard to make a living the best way they can. However, the repercussions of these fairs are not only potentially dangerous, but downright deadly. Today I experienced firsthand that a fair had shut down Fourth Ave. from E. 10th St. to E. 14th  St. — all day — for just a four-block-long fair. Northbound traffic had been detoured east on 10th St. — which is only a single lane, with a parallel bicycle lane — and it was nonstop traffic all day. Frustrated drivers were leaning on their horns and doubled-up in the bicycle lanes just to alleviate the crush of traffic. Finally, later in the day, a traffic agent was assigned to the intersection, but it was apparent to any driver which way they were forced to go. The noise and danger to bicyclists and pedestrians crossing at the corner was bad enough, but not Letters continued on p. 32


June 30, 2016


Defeat pendejo-fascism! Why Hillary has to win



few weeks ago, I wrote about a protest in Union Square by members of the city’s Peruvian immigrant community against the candidacy of Keiko Fujimori in the South American country’s presidential race. The daughter of imprisoned ex-dictator Alberto Fujimori, Keiko intransigently defends her father’s blood-drenched legacy. Peru’s left mobilized for her defeat. Keiko was opposed by a merely odious center-right technocrat and former cabinet minister, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, or PPK. Verónika Mendoza, the leftwing candidate who was bumped out of the race in the first round in April, urged her supporters to vote for pro-corporate conservative PPK, so as to keep openly fascistic Keiko out of office — but to be prepared to build a vigorous opposition from his first day on the job. It was a very close vote, but it worked — PPK won by the proverbial hair in the June 5 runoff. As if to drive home the point that PPK is merely a lesser enemy (but still very much an enemy), soon after his election, he unveiled an economic program that calls for privatization of Peru’s communal indigenous and peasant lands — and their sale to mining, oil and agribusiness interests. Land grabs by corporate interests have already been a source of much rural unrest in Peru in recent years. I hope the analogy is clear. We Yankees are faced with a wannabe right-populist dictator of our own. It looks almost inevitable that the alternative is the odious pro-corporate Hillary Clinton. Following the New York and California primaries, left-populist Bernie Sanders is now being bumped out of the running (whether by means fair or foul). To his credit, he does seem to be inching around to drinking the bitter medicine of throwing his support behind Clinton — if only in the interest of defeating the wannabe dictator. Frighteningly, though, many of his supporters refuse to let go of the potentially disastrous “Bernie or Bust” position. Can you think of one critical difference that explains Verónika’s more principled and serious attitude? I can. Peruvians have known fascism in living memory. Some definition of terms is in order here. For starters, I refuse to invoke his name. This whole thing began as an indulgence of his obsession with seeing his own name in the media and plastered on the sides of buildings. But then it took on a life of its own, and he actually began to view the Oval Office as a reachable zenith of ego-aggrandizement. Following the lead of TheVillager.com

Photo by Tequila Minsky

Donald Trump at the Trump Soho last week, when he gave his big antiHillar y Clinton speech.

many Mexican Americans, I just call him “El Pendejo.” That’s a Spanish insult used the way English-speakers use “a--hole” or “dumba--,” although it literally means “pubic hair.” I propose that this moniker be adopted in all commentary, as a tactic to undermine his ego-driven campaign. Then there’s the F-word. No, not that one; the other one: fascism. Some lefties use the word “fascism” like a baseball bat to beat on anything they don’t like. I do not. Yet, neither am I with the hair-splitters who say it should only be applied to the “classical” fascism of Hitler and Mussolini. Alberto Fujimori was not “classically” fascist. As the hair-splitters always remind us, Hitler and Mussolini had populist economic programs — in vivid contrast to Fujimori and Pinochet, with their fetish for laissez-faire. Noam Chomsky has termed such Third World dictatorships “sub-fascism” — extreme right-wing authoritarianism, but ultimately subservient to U.S. imperial dictates. The fascist threat we now face here in the imperial homeland is even less ideological. It shows not a trace of economic populism, apart from rejecting free-trade agreements — indeed, it glorifies the most vulgar flaunting of wealth. But all the really essential ingredients are there: ugly ultranationalism that seeks to correct perceived humiliation, along with xenophobia and demonization of the Other, and (of course) exaltation of the great leader. It may be an exercise in egotism that got out of control, but it has morphed into something all too real. Call it pendejo-fascism. It is pretty damn obvious. His campaign rallies have been spectacles of mass hatred, punctuated by frequent physical attacks on protesters that he has blatantly egged on from the stage (only lately inciting attacks in kind from protesters at his San Jose stop). Blacks and Muslims have been ejected from his rallies without prov-

ocation. His campaign has been predicated on hate, and is providing a license for haters and racists nationwide. Even the organizer of this weekend’s neo-Nazi riot in Sacramento had previously attacked a Black Lives Matter protester at a Pendejo rally. It is no exoneration of mainstream politicians to recognize that the Pendejo represents something much more dangerous. What truly frightens me is the denialism on this point from many of my friends on the left. I voted for Bernie in the primary. But the “or Bust” position — the notion that we should never vote for Hillary, even when (or, if you prefer, if) she is the candidate in the general election — is a recipe for disaster. I suppose since New York is not a swing state (by conventional wisdom), it doesn’t make that much difference here if you write in Bernie. But as a national strategy, that’s monstrously reckless. Worse still is the call for Bernie to run as an independent, splitting the anti-Pendejo vote (which he will almost certainly not do, fortunately). Maybe my Facebook “friends” are an unrepresentative lot, but I have seen far more leftist invective directed against Hillary than Pendejo. Some have even put forth the bizarre proposition that Hillary would be worse. Now, having been a senator and secretary of state, Hillary has had the opportunity to act on the global stage in ways Pendejo has not, and she has plenty to answer for — her unconscionable vote for the Iraq invasion in 2003, her acquiescence in the 2009 Honduran coup, her repeated approval of military aid to Colombia. The list could go on. But Clinton is a centrist Democrat. I use that term with no love, but she would basically mean a continuance of the status quo. She might be slightly more bellicose than Obama, but nothing suggests she would be dramatically more so. Contrary

to the strange notions of some of the “or Bust” crowd, it is Pendejo, not Hillary, who represents a unique evil that promises national and even global disaster. Even those who think Pendejo would be less dangerous on isolationist grounds (confusing this with anti-imperialism) are completely deluded. Pendejo has said he would mobilize a whopping 30,000 troops to fight ISIS. (The U.S. currently has under 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, 3,500 in Iraq, and some 50 Green Berets in Syria.) Here is Mr. Isolationist’s strategy against ISIS, speaking at a Nov. 13 rally: “I would bomb the s--- out of them. I would just bomb those suckers, and that’s right, I’d blow up the pipes, I’d blow up the refineries, I’d blow up every single inch, there would be nothing left.” He was specifically referring to the ISIS-controlled oil fields, but these comments don’t exactly betray sensitivity to civilian casualties — much less the ecological devastation. (Nor should we expect this from the man who boasts that he’d bring back waterboarding and a “hell of a lot worse.”) He added that “I’ll take the oil” — and turn the seized fields over to Exxon! That’s some isolationism, there. And it pains me to say it, but there is more than a whiff of misogyny in the antiHillary invective. I have certainly never heard a candidate called a “whore” so freely. There is also a kind of lefter-than-thou machismo at work in the notion that Hillary is more dangerous than Pendejo. Some lefty Hillary-bashers seem to get off on the idea that they are so rad that they recognize the liberals as a greater threat than the fascists. That’s ahistorical bunk. We can cast a tactical vote for Clinton to avoid a far greater threat, and still maintain a forthright independence from the Democratic Party in our activist efforts. And still be prepared to actually resist her policies from her first day in office. And if Clinton is elected and does prove to be more bellicose than Obama, I don’t want to hear any I-told-you-so’s. Politics is about playing the odds, and there are no guarantees. But if a President Pendejo unleashes a wave of terror on immigrants at home and a spree of military adventures abroad — boy, are you or-Busters gonna get Itold-you-so’s from me. Because Pendejo is openly promising that. I also don’t need to be lectured about how the status quo under the centrist Dems is dystopian enough. The idea that things are bad so therefore can’t get any worse is simply to be dismissed. If there has ever been an emergency that demands we compromise our purity at the polls — without illusions, and without compromising our greater political independence — this is it. The Peruvians realized this. Be like them. Weinberg blogs at CounterVortex.org June 30, 2016


Extra! Publishers go to bat for news boxes and racks BY YANNIC R ACK


boon for New York’s sidewalks, or a kick to the curb for its newspaper boxes? In an effort to clean up the sidewalks, the City Council is pushing for tighter rules governing the roughly 10,000 newspaper boxes across the five boroughs. But the proposed legislation is facing heavy pushback from newspaper publishers, who say the measures are an unnecessary burden and will put a dent in their distribution. A set of five bills, introduced by various councilmembers last week, would set stricter requirements for how often newspaper distribution boxes must be stocked, cleaned of graffiti and garbage, and where they can be placed. The Council’s Transportation Committee heard testimony on the proposal from city officials and the newspaper industry on June 23. “It’s an issue familiar to many New Yorkers — of newsracks sitting empty and filled with garbage,” said Ydanis Rodriguez, the committee’s chairperson. “These bills are about ensuring that the dispensaries for these papers are clean, regularly filled and attractive to passersby.” The city’s Department of Transportation, which oversees public sidewalks, backs the legislation, and the bills also enjoy support from some business improvement districts, including the Times Square Alliance and the Garment District Alliance. The proposed rules would require newsracks — both single boxes and modular racks that contain multiple publications — to be registered with the city and provide certain information on annual basis, including delivery schedules and insurance certificates. The legislation would also set additional standards for maintenance and placement, including tighter deadlines for empty or cluttered boxes to be cleaned and restocked, and a ban on any boxes near taxi stands. (Current laws already mandate other placement restrictions.) Owners of modular racks would also have to submit a plan for approval, and give local community boards opportunity for comment, while single boxes would be banned from blocks that already contain a modular rack. “Taken together, this will strengthen cleaning and maintenance requirements,” Vincent Maniscalco, D.O.T.’s assistant commissioner for highway inspection and quality assurance, said of the package of bills. “What we are looking for is better compliance,” he added. “We want to work with the industry.” But publishers argue that most of them already diligently maintain their boxes, and that the added restrictions would burden an industry that is already struggling to provide vital news


June 30, 2016

Photo by Yannic Rack

Jennifer Goodstein, C.E.O. and publisher of NYC Community Media, left, and Jeanne Straus, publisher of Straus News, testified at a June 23 City Council hearing on street newspaper boxes and racks.

to local communities. “We aren’t the ones filling our racks with garbage or painting them with graffiti,” said Michelle Rea, executive director of the New York Press Association. She added that current regulations are already so onerous that the number of boxes registered in the city has declined 25 percent from three years ago. “More regulations aren’t the answer,” Rea said. “Enforcing the current regulations is a better solution.” Jennifer Goodstein, C.E.O. of NYC Community Media and the publisher of The Villager, Downtown Express, Gay City News and Chelsea Now, said readers rely on the news boxes and racks to get their newspapers. “Without the ability to walk down the street and find a local paper in a newsrack, the very citizens who need to read our coverage will not be able to find it,” she said. “Newsracks play a very important role in the city. They play a very important role in branding our product. We ask that the rules be enforced, not expanded, and that communication between publishers and the Department of Transportation be improved through the use of e-mail or another form of electronic communication.” D.O.T. officials said the city receives several hundred complaints about the boxes every year — mostly about dirty and graffiti-covered boxes used as trash bins — with most complaints coming

from Community Board 8 on the Upper East Side. In the last fiscal year, the agency issued more than 2,200 notices of correction for noncompliant boxes. But these resulted in only around 350 summonses — prompting even Rodriguez, playing devil’s advocate, to note how low the number was. “If we rely on those numbers, we can say that most are not being targeted by D.O.T. because they comply,” he suggested to the agency brass. But D.O.T. representatives maintained that the new rules’ stricter enforcement would simply keep city sidewalks cleaner. “It will make our streets safer and cleaner, and the publishers will still have their papers out there,” Maniscalco said. “We’re not against newsracks. If we issue a notice of correction and it’s corrected right away, we won’t issue a summons.” The current laws governing the boxes, instituted in 2002 and amended in 2004, mainly rely on self-certification by the newspapers’ owners to show that they are kept in shape, only mandating that “best efforts are being made” to keep them clean and stocked, according to Maniscalco. Under the new regulations, there would now be an actual mandate to keep the boxes clean and stocked at all times, he said. If the bills are enacted, D.O.T. would still issue notices of violation to publishers for dirty, damaged and empty-

boxes, but the agency would be able to issue fines more quickly if the problems are not rectified in a timely manner. “While most publications try to make sure their boxes are clean and stocked, many newsracks remain a blight on our sidewalks,” said Bronx Councilmember James Vacca, a member of the committee and the sponsor of one of the bills. “And our existing rules don’t go far enough to address that,” he said of boxes in bad condition. Some at the hearing one-upped the councilmembers, suggesting the bills could be more severe. Christine Berthet, former chairperson of Community Board 4 and a founder of the Clinton Hell’s Kitchen Coalition for Pedestrian Safety, said she would like to see even stricter rules enforced — including bolting down boxes on the sidewalk and banning any racks within 25 feet of pedestrian crossings. “We wish this legislation would go further,” she said. Fewer newspaper boxes would increase safety for the 75 percent of New Yorkers who walk at some point in their daily commute, she said. In the end, Rodriguez promised to discuss the legislation further and hear out its opponents, to ensure that any new rules would be fair to the newspaper industry. “We will continue this conversation,” he said. “We’re not in the business of creating a hardship.” TheVillager.com

Youth Theater is an old hat at helping kids hone skills

TADA! programs prompt kids to be present, onstage and off BY LAUREN VESPOLI


ith a Drama Desk Award under its belt and a roster of famous alumni that includes actress Kerry Washington (“Scandal”) and comedian Jordan Peele (“Key & Peele”), Chelsea’s TADA! Youth Theater offers one of the most prestigious musical theater programs for young people in New York City —and most of its performers aren’t even old enough to drive a car. Founded by Janine Nina Trevens and Linda Reiff in 1984, TADA! reaches more than 50,000 children and families each year through its mainstage productions, in addition to its classes, camps, birthday parties, and signature Resident Youth Ensemble (a free pre-professional theater training program for kids ages 8–18). In addition to sparking a passion for the performing arts in young performers and honing their skills onstage, a large part of TADA!’s mission is helping the children who participate in its programs learn and develop holistically. “Kids are learning how to just perform in school to please a teacher or to get a good grade on a test — rather than learning about collaboration and creative play and really strengthening their brains to think outside of the box, to think for themselves, to be responsible, to have a feeling of success based on their own work,” said Trevens, who TheVillager.com


Members of the TADA! Resident Youth Ensemble.

serves as the company’s Executive and Artistic Director, and has a background in psychology, education, and stage management. “TADA! really does that, especially [through] working on characters that are written for kids.” Earning a spot in TADA!’s resident ensemble is highly competitive. According to Trevens, 300–600 children

typically audition for 10–25 spots each fall. And while prospective ensemble members must have passion and talent, ever since its conception, TADA! has also prioritized finding a diverse cross-section of city (and tri-state area) kids, making a special effort to include disadvantaged kids and families in the free program.

In addition to high-level musical theater training, ensemble members receive access to personal and pre-professional development programs, including a job readiness apprenticeship program and college tours and admissions assistance. This year, the theater brought in a proTADA! continued on p. 23 June 23, 2016


Yankee doodle deficit disorder

Tap-happy ‘Cagney’ entertains, but dances around the truth BY TRAV S.D.


n the roll calls of show biz immortals, the name “James Cagney” remains pre-eminent. Today, almost 30 years after his death, Cagney is still held up as the gold standard of realistic American movie acting. His most popular movies — “The Public Enemy” (1931), “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942), and “White Heat” (1949) — are still regularly watched by fans. His personal maxim, “Plant your feet, look ’em in the eye, and tell the truth,” has probably been quoted by every acting teacher on the planet. Since mid-March the Westside Theatre has been home to the musical show “Cagney,” which purports to tell the story of this smallstatured (5’5”) giant. Much of what “Cagney” promises entertainment-wise, it delivers (eventually). The best thing about it is its star, Robert Creighton, who is close enough to a ringer that he doesn’t have to do a ridiculous Rich Littlestyle impression to achieve his illusion. Creighton’s voice register (which actually sounds more like comedian Bert Wheeler than Cagney) is high enough to remind us that the star’s first hurdle was to convince audiences he was no pipsqueak — a probable origin for his tough guy persona. Creighton is a solid actor, comfortable in his skin (and in suits with padded shoulders), and best of all, he’s a terrific tap dancer. The best moments of the show, and the ones audiences are probably paying to see, are the ones where Creighton does Cagney doing George M. Cohan — and to this practiced eye, he nails it. But (and this is no small thing) the show makes you wait for it — through Peter Colley’s leaden, shapeless, directionless, bloated book, and some forgettable original songs by Creighton and Christopher McGovern. If musicals are a near impossible art form to get right, historical musicals are even harder. For every “1776” and “Hamilton,” there are a thousand Thanksgiving turkeys. The main dilemma in adapting biographical material for the stage is that life and art have different shapes, and a show must pick one or the other in order to succeed. The latter is usually best: pick some discrete, finite aspect of the


June 23, 2016


L to R: Bruce Sabath, Ellen Zolezzi, Jeremy Benton, Robert Creighton (as Cagney), Danette Holden and Josh Walden.

subject’s complicated life to tell. The alternative, to try to cram every event in some guy’s life into 150 minutes, is seldom fortunate. Yet, that is the tack which “Cagney” takes. Then, ironically, it goes on to spoon-feed us an endless succession of facts that are either misleading or incorrect. “The Public Enemy” was Cagney’s fourth movie, not his first as this play tells us. In a scene taking place in 1919, we get the line “Mr. Keith says you’re going on the road” — but vaudeville impresario B.F. Keith had been dead for four years, and couldn’t have been bothered with a minor act like Cagney at the time, even if he were alive. There are glaring tonal misrepresentations: a big time vaudeville house is hosted by a terrible hack comedian whose repertoire consists of easily identifiable Henny Youngman jokes from 40 years in the future. At times it seems almost like the creators are attempting an homage to Hollywood biopics, a genre notorious for its disregard for truth. Several directo-

rial choices by Bill Castellino lead one to suspect as much. Actors are directed to be as broad as possible. The sensitive and intelligent Mae Clarke is presented as a gauche, gum-snapping chorus girl; director William Wellman as a swishy, limpwristed queen from Central Casting. Producer Jack Warner, whose real name was Jakob Wonsal, is WASPified in the manner of Walter Pidgeon’s Flo Ziegfeld in “Funny Girl.” The otherwise inexplicable presence of Bob Hope telegraphs the inevitable, upcoming “Seven Little Foys” nod — but vastly exaggerates the role Hope played in Cagney’s life. That’s okay, though, as the actor playing him neither looks nor sounds like Bob Hope. So perhaps it’s secretly meant to be someone else. The biopic angle wouldn’t be bad if the script focused on it. But it also tries to tell another story, a potentially powerful one juxtaposing Cagney’s performance in the all-time most patriotic movie ever, “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” with public suspicions of his left wing politics.

And then there is the framing device of the 1979 SAG awards and a retrospective of his entire career, sometimes amounting to actors reading long lists and descriptions of the films. I kid you not. And then the show stops dead just when some sort of a plot should be heating up, and we get a World War II camp show featuring Cagney’s Cohan tribute. In short, the show has Attention Deficit Disorder. And unfortunately, the excellent Creighton-Cagney-Cohan dance numbers point to all the weaknesses of the rest of the show, leaving your correspondent to wish he were simply watching a production of “Little Johnny Jones” without all the interruptions.  At The Westside Theatre (407 W. 43rd St., btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.). Through July 3: Thurs. & Fri. at 8pm, Sat. at 2pm & 8pm, Sun. at 3pm. As of July 5: Tues. at 7pm, Wed. & Sat. at 2pm & 8 pm, Thurs. at 2pm, Fri. at 8pm, Sun. at 3pm. For tickets ($89), visit telecharge.com or call 212-2396200. Also visit cagneythemusical.com. TheVillager.com


Members of the TADA! Resident Youth Ensemble performed at the theater’s 30th anniversary gala in May.

TADA! continued from p. 21

gram called “Girls Talk, Guys Talk” to help the company learn more about body image, sexuality, and how media portrayals might affect them, Trevens said. “One of the things that we instill in our ensemble is really the fact that you are part of a community, and that you can make that a better place,” Trevens said. Children and families looking to get a taste of TADA! this summer can participate in the theater’s weeklong camps. Full-day camps, available for children ages 6–14, take children through the entire creative process, from the conception to performance of a mini-musical in just one week, with guidance from professional teaching artists. Half-day “mini-camps” are also available this summer for ages 4–5. In addition to providing a safe, creative space for kids and teens, Trevens takes pride in the opportunities TADA! offers local artists. TADA! involves 20–40 artistic and production people with each of its three annual mainstage shows, and also employs nine full-time and five part-time artistic, administra-

tive, and educational staff, Trevens said. “Employing the number of people we employ in New York, and allowing people to make money as an artist and stay in New York — that’s something I’m very proud of at TADA!” she noted. This season’s final show, “Adventures from Ezra Jack Keats: Skates! & Maggie and the Pirate,” opens July 9 and runs through August 4. The two-part show serves as the finale of TADA!’s two-yearlong 30th anniversary celebration. Both pieces are adaptations of the picture books by Ezra Jack Keats, in honor of the late author’s 100th birthday. “Skates!” is a dance piece that follows the adventures of a pair of dogs who teach themselves to roller skate. “[The kids] had to take a stab at learning how to roller skate and master the skill,” said Associate Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer Joanna Greer. “It’s a fun show for kids and adults.” “Maggie and the Pirate” tells the whimsical story of a girl named Maggie who sets out to find her stolen pet cricket. This September, audiences can look forward to TADA!’s Banned Broadway Project, during which teens from the

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


A scene from “Adventures from Ezra Jack Keats: Skates! & Maggie and the Pirate.”

ensemble explore banned and censored musical works from Broadway and OffBroadway during Banned Books Week. The mainstage musical season will begin again at the start of 2017, and include productions of “Everything About A Day (Almost),” which Trevens described as “a musical review in the day of the life of a kid,” and “Odd Day Rain,” which takes place in the future and reckons with technology’s benefits and pitfalls. As for TADA!’s next 30 years, Trevens said she’d love to be able to purchase their building at 15 W. 28th St. and find an additional space to house classes and a workshop for kids interested in the behind-the-scenes aspects of theater. She hopes to eventually be able to produce five mainstage shows each year, allowing even more people to be involved with TADA! And, as the first youth theater program to win a Drama Desk Award, Trevens dreams of one day seeing TADA!’s work in children’s theater recognized with a Special Tony Award. Awards aside, when asked about her proudest moments from TADA!’s past three decades, Trevens cited the impact that the theater has made in the lives of

The Elephant Pen “A mental game of predator and prey”

July 7th - July 17th


TADA! Youth Theater is located at 15 W. 28th St. (btw. Fifth Ave. & Broadway. “Adventures from Ezra Jack Keats: Skates & Maggie and the Pirate” will run on Tues.–Sat., July 9–Aug. 4, and is recommended for ages 3+. Tickets are $25 ($15 for children, with limited tickets at $15 general, $10 or children). Spaces are still available at TADA!’s weeklong camps for ages 6–14, running now through Sept. 2, and two-week mini-camps for ages 4–5, which begin July 11. One camp is $485 per camper deals available with multiple camp bookings). Visit tadatheater.com or call 212-252-1619. Find them on Facebook at facebook.com/TADAyouththeater and on Twitter at @TadaTheater.

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

Written by: Etienne Lepage Directed by Lissa Moira

(212) 989-3155 | thebespokekitchen.com 615 ½ Hudson St, New York, New York 10014

the kids who sing, dance, and act their hearts out on the TADA! stage. “I think what’s happened over and over is knowing that we are actually giving kids a place where they do feel good about themselves, where they fit in, where they are successful, and where they really learn that they have a voice, and learn that they can do whatever it is they want to do in life,” she said.

Thurs.- Sat. 8:00 P.M. Sun. at 3:00 P.M.


TNC’s Street Theater Election Selection or You Bet!

Written and Directed by: Crystal Field Music Composed by: Joseph Vernon Banks

August 6th - September 18th Opens right here on 10th Street on August 6th at 2:00 PM All performance locations and times are available Online!

The Beekeepers Daughter by: Karen Malpede

“A healing journy of a Muslim refugee after she is embraced by an American Family” June 2 - June 19 Thurs.- Sat. 8 PM Sun. at 3PM


June 23, 2016


Troll Museum founder evicted from L.E.S. lair Rev. Jen’s departure makes East Side life loads less weird


A view of the Troll Museum, emptied of its essentials.



his week saw another nail pounded in the coffin of the weird and wonderful Lower East Side of old, as the venerable Troll Museum (122 Orchard St.) was forced to shutter its doors. For two decades, the location also functioned as the apartment of the museum’s curator, performance artist/writer/elf Rev. Jen Miller — a wellknown figure in the Lower East Side arts community, and a frequent columnist for this paper. Miller, who also notably founded the long-running “Anti-Slam” open mic night, was evicted from her home earlier in the week, after failing to pay rent for months. This unfortunate incident comes at the end of a long and troubling year for Miller — who has chronicled the specifics candidly and hilariously in our pages — which has seen her and her


June 23, 2016

loved ones suffer both personal injury and illness. On June 23, Miller (while clad only in a bath towel) received an unannounced visit from a City Marshal — who informed her that she was being evicted by her landlord, then forced her to leave the premises hastily. Miller maintains that she wasn’t given warning, and that blame should be placed on the part of the landlord and the courts. She is also seeking, in court, to obtain a three-month stay in the space. After five days of homelessness posteviction, the afternoon of June 28 — a muggy, dreary day appropriate for the somber occasion — found friends and fans taking a final pilgrimage to the Troll Museum, in order to help its down-onher-luck curator pack up. The landlord had granted Miller an opportunity to clear out her possessions between 10am and 4pm, before she was to be locked out of the apartment for good. In response,

Miller blasted a press release via her Facebook page calling for people to help “pack up one of the last magical places left in this f**cking greedy city” and for the press to witness “bohemia kiss the Lower East Side Goodbye.” Arriving on the scene a little after 1pm, much of the Troll Museum’s dismantling was accomplished. Dozens upon dozens of troll dolls and accouterments had been hastily packed into boxes and bags; much of the art had been removed from the walls as well. Friends of Miller came and went; throughout it all, Miller was perceptibly distressed, but also remained sort of above it all, finding the ability to crack the occasional droll joke and to greet her friends warmly — mostly while smoking a vape pen from the perch of her flamboyant pink couch (gifted to her by a porn director, she was quick to note). This group of around a dozen friends, as the afternoon wore on, formed a

brain trust/moving crew of sorts, as they counseled Miller on how best to go about packing up, and tossed around ideas on how to deal with the impending eviction. Musician Jen Tobin was able to secure a van to transport belongings, while others found spaces or volunteered to store stuff at their homes — all while helping to pack up valuables like art, journals, and tapes, in addition to the plethora of trolls. “The Lower East Side is gonna have the funnest party taking my sh*t off the street,” Miller quipped, looking around at all the stuff she wouldn’t be packing up. “Does anyone want any plastic cutlery?” she called out with a faint laugh while rummaging through her cabinets. As the 4pm deadline approached, movers formed a chain of sorts, speeding up the transport of things from the sixth floor walk-up to the van on the street. TROLL continued on p. 25 TheVillager.com

TROLL continued from p. 24

Stacks of Miller’s DayGlo, troll-filled original paintings filed out, alongside quirkier mementos, like a conspicuous DVD of so-called “midget porn” (which Miller said was the most disturbing thing she’d ever watched, and which prompted an awkward Genius Bar visit after jamming up her disc drive). “All right people, let’s get the hell out of this shebang,” she instructed as the last of the essentials was brought out, leading the ragtag group of compatriots downstairs behind her — pausing only to pose for one last group picture under the disco ball outside her apartment. This flurry of activity ended — as so many of Miller’s columns do — with the impromptu movers and the Rev. herself headed across the street to neighborhood watering hole Lucky Jack’s. The van waited parked outside, ready to bring the quirky treasures within to their uncertain final destinations, leaving a Lower East Side a little less lovably strange in its wake.


“Let’s make the Lower East Side great again!” the group exclaimed while taking a photo under the disco ball, immediately after vacating the apartment.


Rev. Jen stands outside her former building with friends, post-eviction, rocking a Barbie Ouija board handbag.


One of the last emblematic pieces of Troll artwork left on the wall of the Museum. TheVillager.com


A self-portrait by Rev. Jen, which was shown at “Fur Flies” — a 2015 exhibit of her work, alongside that of Ryan Michael Ford. June 23, 2016


Coney Island was aswim with mermaids, monsters

Photos by Milo Hess

With freak y fun under the sun and by the shore, the Mermaid Parade has enlivened storied Coney Island since 1983. Once again, this year’s annual ex travaganza on Sur f Ave. did not disappoint!


June 30, 2016


and much more — Trump trash patch! — at parade


June 30, 2016


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Letters Letters continued from p. 18

really the worst of the whole mess. The danger I’m referring to is that emergency vehicles responding to an emergency are also forced to travel with bumper-to-bumper traffic and can’t move any faster than the traffic will allow. They are similarly forced to lean on their horns and blare their sirens to get through. Time is critical when these emergency vehicles are struggling to respond to life-saving situations. Someday that could be you, me or a loved one trapped in a burning building or suffering a medical emergency, when, as we all know, every second counts. The city makes money from granting the permits to street-fair promoters, but the monetary gain can’t compare to the necessity of saving a life. Yes, the fairs are one way to discourage people from driving cars in the city. But cars and trucks won’t just disappear, regardless of our effort to reduce our carbon footprint. The street-fair vendors and promoters also have a right to make a fair living by offering their wares, but discussions about a better solution have to begin soon.

My personal opinion is that traffic patterns have to be carefully considered and emergency lanes have to stay clear. Having vehicular traffic — cars, trucks and emergency vehicles —spilling over onto the side streets is just a way of brushing off the problem, and not a safe solution. One idea would be to narrow the street fair’s width and have an emergency lane, not only for the length of the fair, but for the route leading up to it, as well. Proper signage would also help, placed at intersections near the street fair. I would propose that the experts at the Department of Transportation work closely with the local police precincts and City Hall to brainstorm about a better plan. I know they are more than capable of creating a feasible compromise that would ensure the safety and entrepreneurial benefit of everyone. Joe Preston

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June 30, 2016



Photos by Tequila Minsky

Councilmember Corey Johnson was feeling the excitement at Sunday’s Pride March.

State Senator Brad Hoylman, right, and his husband, David Sigal, with their daughter, Silvia, shared a passionately proud moment.

Pols show their Pride at a memorable March

A ssemblymember Deborah Glick was in the groove “with her” — Hillar y Clinton — as she made her way down Fifth Ave. through the Village. TheVillager.com

Former Congressmember Anthony Weiner looked as if his young son might possibly have just swished him in the face with his rainbow flag. Beyond the possible filial flag foul, with having to hold his sons’ legs, he for tunately was rendered momentarily incapable of t weeting. June 30, 2016


Pommes Frites is cooking again, now on MacDougal FRITES continued from p. 1

olas Figueroa, 23, and Moises Ismael Locón, 27, who were both killed in the adjacent Sushi Park restaurant in the disaster. But she took some consolation in the fact that Pommes Frites could be salvaged. “I had no idea the impact the explosion would have had,” Levinson said. “It was very scary, pretty surreal. ... We were sad to leave the East Village.” Levinson was at Friteshop.com, their other store in East Williamsburg, when she learned about the explosion. Her first thoughts were about her staff, whom she immediately called, finding out they were safe, but “traumatized.” She promptly rushed out of Friteshop.com and over to the East Village. “I literally saw fire trucks coming from Brooklyn to Manhattan,” Levinson exclaimed. “I thought, ‘Wow this was big!” It was subsequently determined that an illegally tapped gas line had caused the massive blast at 121 Second Ave. on March 26, killing Figueroa and Locón and injuring 19 others. On Feb. 11 of this year, five people were indicted in the catastrophe by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance. Building owner Maria Hrynenko, 56, her son, Michael Hrynenko, 30, contractor Dilber Kukic, 40, and

At the grand opening of Pommes Frites in the West Village, state Senator Brad Hoylman, holding a fist full of fries, joined co-owners Omer Shorshi and Suzanne Levinson, to his left, staff and family members.

plumber Athanasios “Jerry” Ioannidis, 59, were each charged with manslaughter, plus criminally negligent homicide and assault in the second degree, in connection with the case. In addition, Andrew Trombettas, 57, was indicted for allowing Ioannidis



to illegally use his master plumbing license. After recovering from the initial shock of the tragedy, Levinson and her partner in Pommes Frites, Omer Shorshi, were determined to reopen. Last June they signed a lease for their new West Village location, then subsequently ran into several obstacles along the way. But they raised $25,000 on an Indiegogo crowdsourcing Web site. In addition, they were lucky to be among five small businesses chosen for inclusion in the East Village Explosion Recovery Loan Program, which was created shortly after the tragedy by Asian

Americans for Equality and the Renaissance Economic Development Corporation. The program loaned a total of $200,000 to the businesses, all five of which have successfully reopened. Loans were administered at the very low interest rate of 2 percent and businesses were given the option of a six-month deferment before beginning payment. Even with the welcome financial help, Levinson noted, “At the end of the day, you have to do it on your own. No one will open the doors for you. We thought a new place could work. We had to build a new place.” She was particularly touched by the outpouring from the community of people offering to help. And she was surprised by how many people were aware of their plans to reopen. “We were really grateful to have that support,” she said. “My business partner looks forward, not backward. There was no reason why we shouldn’t look for a new location.” While Levinson said she misses Pommes Frites’ former East Village home, she concedes it was essentially just bricks and mortar, which can always be replaced. It has been an adjustment, but customers are slowly returning to the new location. Patrons are finding the same warm atmosphere and delicious food, and the owners hope it will attract some of the New York University crowd when they return to school in the fall. “I think they really like the new space and our old customers really seem to be excited to be here,” she said. “We love the space very much. It’s kind of like time hasn’t passed and we’re picking up where we left off.

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June 30, 2016

Co-owner Suzanne Levinson showed how it was done during the grand opening, whipping up some delicious Belgian fries. TheVillager.com

Exchange rate was great both for students and us RHYMES WITH CRAZY By Lenore Skenazy


hat is it like to have two teenage boys you never met before move in and stay for the whole school year? Funny you should ask, as the two boys we’ve had living with us for the past 10 months are leaving today. I am hoping the goodbye will not be as hard as I worry it will be. The young men were our exchange students, one from Germany, one from China. Or, as I liked to say: If your country has been at war with America — or may be someday — our home is your home! Why? Well, two years ago, when our older son was heading off to college, I jokingly-not-jokingly told my husband that we should replace him with another kid about his age.  Then I started Googling around and found out that the American Field Service, the same exchange-student program that was around when I was growing up, is still going strong. In fact, AFS has been around for more than 70 years, sending kids to and from more than 40 countries. Back in my day, four international kids attended my high school and it was like they were from Planet Maturity. Simply by braving life in a foreign country, they were so much more sophisticated (read: cool) than the rest of us.  So I called the AFS New York office, and immediately an outreach coordinator was telling me how much I’d love being a host. It is a volunteer position. All we really needed to qualify was an empty bed and a desk. Bingo! Since it was already late in the application process, there were just two kids for us to choose from: a “German boy who loves movies” or an “Italian boy who loves basketball.  “Get the Italian,” said my husband.  Thus did Giovanni come to live with us for a year.  He moved right into our older son’s nowempty bedroom, and went right off to public high school with our younger son. They were both juniors. They were both everything: They both played basketball, watched basketball, talked basketball… . But they also explored the city — my son said he’d never seen half as many neighborhoods as he did once Gio arrived — and cracked up at in-jokes and remained Snapchat friends when Gio went home last June. But once your AFS kid leaves, you’re back at square one, if you don’t like being lonely. (Did I mention I work from home? Just me and my computer.) So this year we decided to plunge in again and chose Eric from China, and Matteo from Germany. TheVillager.com

Why two? Why not? The exchange kids shared a room and dinners were lively. Did you know that in China 13 is bad luck, but so is 14 — so some Chinese buildings have three 12th floors? Or how about this German fact: Instead of “Happy Birthday” when the cake comes out, they blast some obscure ’80s American pop song. Our German kid was shocked to find this was not also the practice in America when we celebrated my husband’s birthday. Meantime, the boys made him a cake and wrote “Happy Birthday” in Chinese characters along with, “Alles Gute zum Geburtstag.” That’s a lot to write in blue icing. But of course, there were some downsides, starting with the fact that neither of the boys loved my cooking, except for barbecued chicken. So I made a lot of chicken. I also bought Chips Ahoy! — truckloads of them. There was also extra laundry, of course. And at school, one of them slacked off and we had to deal with the teachers and the principal and a bit of hooky. But the upside? Hearing German and Chinese music around the apartment. Talking to them about everything from Donald Trump to Chairman Mao. Listening to the changes in their vocabulary, from “We are seldom winning the game” to “Our team sucks.” Feeling a swell of pride as they got to know the city, deal with the subway, discover “South Park” and grow — literally. Yes they are going home skinny, but taller. Just a few days ago, I got up very early and was sitting in our living room at 5 a.m. when the front door opened and our German student walked in. He had been unable to sleep as thoughts swirled about going home, and how changed he felt. So he had taken a long walk through our Queens neighborhood, which is now his Queens neighborhood. By tomorrow, he will be back home with his real parents. But for a year, he was our boy — they both were — in homesickness and health, schoolwork and skateboarding, and the daily doings that turn a stranger into a son.  I hope I can hold it together when we say goodbye. Skenazy is a keynote speaker and author and founder of the book and blog Free-Range Kids. 

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June 30, 2016


Profile for Schneps Media

The Villager  

June 30, 2016

The Villager  

June 30, 2016