July 14, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 28
The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
That’s more like it! L.P.C. slams Jane towers plan; ‘Doesn’t fit’ historic district By Michael Ossorguine
his time, the Landmarks Preservation Commission was in sync with Villagers’ vehement opposition to a project — the proposed replacement of 85-89 Jane St. with a new glass and concrete facade topped by two glowing glass and concrete towers. The L.P.C. landed on the community’s side. The design, by Stephen Harris Architects LLP, needs the commission’s approval to al-
low the planned demolition and construction plan since the building is located in the landmarked Greenwich Village Historic District. At the hearing, the L.P.C. commissioners heard an hour of impassioned testimony — each person could testify for three minutes — from local residents, the Jane St. Alliance, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Community Board 2 and Towers continued on p. 8
Jim Gaffigan can’t leave ‘sticky’ old East Village... or Crif Dogs...or Katz’s... By Tina Benitez-Eves
hen Jim Gaffigan moved from Indiana to Mott St. in 1990, it was a different world. Lower Manhattan was stickier, grimier. In some ways, it still is, according to the comedian, and father of five, whose “The Jim Gaffigan Show,” now in its
second season, mostly shoots in the East Village and Lower East Side. Today, there’s a part of the East Village that is a little bit “chaotic,” Gaffigan told The Villager. “It doesn’t feel pretty or clean.” That muddiness is part of the reason why he still loves it — and won’t leave. The Gaffigan continued on p. 4
‘Integral’ to yoga craze..........p. 30
Photo by Q. Sakamaki
Black Lives Matter protesters in Harlem last Thursday night.
Protests and soul-searching after police shootings, Dallas By L auren Vespoli From City Hall to Times Square, hundreds of Black Lives Matter demonstrators took to the streets this weekend to protest recent police shootings of African-American men: Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Philando Castile in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota; and Delrawn Small in Brooklyn. Sterling was fatally shot while officers had him pinned to the ground, while Castile was shot while he was reach-
ing for his wallet during a traffic stop. Both Sterling and Castile had guns on them — though, according to witnesses, had not drawn them on police. Small was shot by an off-duty cop during a traffic dispute in the Cypress Hills neighborhood of Brooklyn. The weekend of protests and marches kicked off on a rainy Friday evening — the day after a sniper killed five police officers and wounded nine other cops and two civilians during protests in Dallas. A small group began gather-
ing at the southeast corner of Union Square around 6 p.m. for a rally for justice for Sterling and Castile, organized by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and the NYC Revolution Club. A series of speakers addressed the growing crowd, calling for love and respect, in between intermittent chants of “Black Lives Matter.” “It’s not a black and white thing, we just need equality,” said a speaker who identified herself as Kynt Pariah. “We’ve PROTESTS continued on p. 6
Doris is super-‘Human’ — now on film, too!.....p. 2 Washington Square battery scare fizzles.........p. 12 www.TheVillager.com
Fouratt or against it? With District Leader Arthur Schwartz having abandonned his primary-election challenge to Assemblymember Deborah Glick for health reasons, longtime Village gay activist Jim Fouratt, a member of the Village Independent Democrats, has been mulling whether he should jump in and give Glick a contest this September. “I have reached out to a number of essential folk, asking them to help me decide if I should run in a race for state Legislature against a 26-year incumbent, Deborah Glick,” Fouratt said in an e-mail blast to friends. “So far, the private messages have been very encouraging and the information given valuable.” Fouratt said it all hinges on whether he can rustle up enough volunteers and money, and that he will decide soon on whether to run. … In other Schwartz news, he said the trial in his spy-cams case (concerning his removal last year of the landlords’ mini-surveillance cameras outside the elderly Ruth Berk’s apartmenet at 95 Christopher St.) has now been put off until Sept. 14, due to vacation conflicts and his daughter’s bat mitvzah. Primary landslides: Meanwhile, in recent local primaries — late June certainly seems like an odd time to hold an election! — local longtime incumbents crushed the competition. As we are a little late in reporting, Democratic Congressmembers Jerrold Nadler, Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Velazquez all romped over their lesser-known opponents. Nadler handily beat Oliver Rosenberg, who blasted him for supporting the Iran nuclear deal. Maloney topped pot activist Peter Lindner. Velazquez fended off two rivals, Youngman Lee — who sought to mobilize the district’s Asian-American voters — and Jeff Kurzon. All three congressmembers face Republican opponents in the November general election. Doris is super-‘Human’: Two weeks ago, The Villager ran photos of Doris Diether in Washington Square Park accompanied by her new “personal pigeon,” Opal. The veteran Community Board 2 mem-
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“It’s worth the trip down the street!” 2
July 14, 2016
Photo by Sharon Woolums
Will Doris Diether and her buddy Opal be hitting the big screen soon — or at least YouTube?
ber told us that last week when she went out to the park, Brandon Stanton, the Humans of New York blogger and book writer, was there — with a camerman in tow — waiting just for her. “He said he likes the paper,” Diether said of The Villager. “They had a guy with a film camera there. Apparently, they’re making a movie.” Stanton was waiting for her on a bench — near the children’s playground, where Paul the Pigeon Man usually hangs out. “They put a microphone on me,” said Diether, who is in her 80s. “We talked about the pigeons in the park and why I come to the park. I said I come here because it’s a social thing, instead of staying in my apartment. They followed me as I walked around and said hi to people. Some of the people, I don’t even know their name. One black guy came up and kissed me on the head, and they filmed that, too! They had a movie camera. They said they were expanding their horizons or something like that.” Meanwhile, Opal was getting her close-ups on the camera, too, and was with Diether for part of the time. “She was all around — on my hand, on my arm, on my walker,” the iconic activist said. Readers will recall that Diether and marionette master Ricky Syers, creator of the “Little Doris” marionette, were profiled in last year’s best-selling “Humans of New York: Stories” book.
It was the pits: Last summer in the East Village, tragicially, was the summer of the insanely violent crusty pit bulls. Legendary punk photographer Roberta Bayley’s beloved pug Sidney died at the vet after the pintsize pooch was viciously attacked by Jax, a huge, out-ofcontrol pit bull, on St. Mark’s Place, while the pit’s crusy traveler owner, Natas (“Satan” spelled backwards) lay zonked out on a discarded sofa in front of the $1 pizza place. In separate incidents, two East Village men were also bitten while shielding their small dogs from crusty pit bull attacks — at least one of these by Jax. One man was chomped so severely, it caused permanent nerve damage, leaving him without feeling on the top part of his forearm. This summer, though, according to Bayley — who has a new pug, Stella — thankfully, has been a lot calmer. “It’s strange, none of the crusties seem to have pit bulls anymore. It’s all smaller dogs, or cats,” she told us. “And the crusties are younger.” The crusties aren’t camping out in front of the pizza place like before, but just come and go. As for why crusties are downsizing their dogs, maybe it has to do with belt-tightening — make that, stitchesand-clothespin-tightening, in the crusties’ case — since
smaller canines consume less, but can still be a good companion and “spanging” (panhandling) magnet.
St. Mark’s space sad irony: For fans of the defunct St. Mark’s Bookshop — and of bookstores, in general — it’s surely galling to see St. Mark’s second-tolast home, on Third Ave. at Stuyvesant St., still sitting empty two years after it had to vacate the space. After leaving the Third Ave. spot in June 2014, the East Village book haven relocated to E. Third St. between Avenue A and First Ave. But, even with a smaller space and a lower rent, it couldn’t make a go of it at the more low-key location, and closed for good this past March. Of course, The Cooper Union is the owner of the Third Ave. space. “You are right about the sadness and irony that the site remains unrented,” a Cooper Union spokesperson told us. “But the bookshop was clearly not viable long before it left its location near Cooper. It is time to stop blaming the school for the demise of this beloved small business.” As for the vacant storefront’s future, the school is looking to fill it — apparently not with food for minds and souls, though — but likely for stomachs. A Cooper official said, “We are still actively offering the space for lease. We have received a number of initial inquiries, mostly from retail food companies — but none have made acceptable offers or they have not followed up with offers. We are looking for a tenant that fits the needs of the neighborhood, as well as our needs of a reasonable cash flow. While the space has not had a tenant in the last two years, we have frequently used it for student art shows and student activities.” D’Ag death watch? Villager readers are continuing to read the writing on the wall — actually on the empty shelves — at the D’Agostino supermarket at Greenwich and Bethune Sts. “Today I couldn’t even buy any butter — there was none, no brands,” Virginia Modest told us. “To not even have butter? It’s like empty shelves. It’s like being in Cuba. I couldn’t even buy grape jelly. I’ve been going over to the jelly section, and it’s been getting slimmer and slimmer. Two managers told me they’re not closing. When I ask workers, they just shrug.” Asked where she’ll do her shopping if the store closes, she said Mrs. Green’s or Trader Joe’s up at 21st St. and Sixth Ave. “They do have a lot of great products, but D’Ag has more,” she noted of Mrs. Green’s. Only certain things at the Greenwich St. D’Ag are being replenished, like bread. Last month, the Post reported that D’Agostino, one of the city’s last remaining independent, family-owned grocers, is shopping its last remaining nine Manhattan stores. TheVillager.com
Plan for 14th St. during L work not on track yet By Michael Ossorguine
.T.A. officials came to the Community Board 2 Traffic and Transportation Committee meeting last Thursday to get input from the district on the agency’s repair plans for its two L subway tubes under the East River — the Canarsie Tunnel — that were swamped by Superstorm Sandy. As the worst storm to ever hit the M.T.A. system, Sandy, with its corrosive salt water, caused damage that will require at least a drastic slowdown, if not full closure, of L train service, lasting from 18 months to three years. This protracted work raises logistical questions of rerouting traffic in C.B. 2 to mitigate an increase in traffic across bridges and through 14th St. Last Thursday, the C.B. 2 committee suggested expand ed bus service and the closure of 14th St. to civilian vehicles, but was also receptive to the M.T.A.’s suggestions that the majority of straphangers who need the Bedford Ave.-to-Manhattan connection can switch to the J, M, Z or G lines. “For the vast majority of people, another subway line alternative is going to be their fastest way,” an M.T.A. representative explained. Another proposed strategy is to expand service on the M23, M34 and M14 bus routes. The M.T.A. is in discussions with the Department of Transportation to plan extended bus routes via Select Bus Service that could help connect straphangers to a temporary ferry service to Queens and Brooklyn, or take them across the Williamsburg Bridge. In response to a popular proposal that 14th St. between Sixth Ave. and Union Square be closed to cars — except for M.T.A. buses and nighttime delivery trucks — M.T.A. representatives said they could not respond since they do not control the streets. However, according to a Select Bus Service project manager, “All options are still on the table.” The idea of turning 14th St. into a thoroughfare for pedestrians and cyclists was first introduced by state Senator Brad Hoylman. Even a private developer’s plan to build a new gondola system over the East River is not completely off the table, M.T.A. officials said, to laughs from the audience. To find the best options for coping with overcrowding and traffic on 14th St., the M.T.A. is conducting a detailed traffic analysis that will look at a variety of scenarios, and help it make a decision on how to lessen the effects of the planned closures. Officials said decisions will not be made until this study is complete. Each weekday, the L train carries an estimated 400,000 people, with 225,000 traveling under the East River TheVillager.com
Photo by yannic rack
Straphangers at the end of the line, Eighth Ave. and W. 14th St. During the L tube repairs, there will be no Manhattan ser vice on the line.
into Manhattan. Fifty thousand riders use the line for crosstown service in Manhattan. The section of the L tunnel that needs repairs runs from Eighth Ave. on the border of the Village and Chelsea to Bedford Ave. in Williamsburg. Damaged or collapsed duct banks containing communications and electrical cables need to be repaired and replaced. In addition, new tracks are needed, the existing ones being nearly a century old in some places. Corroded cement walls need patching and the fire-protection system requires revamping. Finally, the M.T.A. hopes to improve service by building new elevators and entrances during the construction, responding to the tripling of L line usage during the past decade. So far, much-needed fixes have been delayed. But action must be taken soon in order to utilize millions of federal dollars that could be lost if a deadline is not met. Though M.T.A. representatives are unsure of the exact deadline, they expect to begin the $800 million L tube project in 2019. At the meeting, the M.T.A. officials reiterated their two potential plans for the mandatory repairs. One is a three-year plan, in which one tube is completed at a time. This would allow four or five trains to operate on the line in one hour, down from the 20 total that run on the dual tracks under normal circumstances. Officials estimated that only one in five of current passengers could be accommodated under this plan. In addition, they warned that unplanned delays would be frequent under the three-year plan due to the possibility of rubble or cables falling onto the track, and vibrations from the construction destabilizing the trains. The shorter 18-month option calls for a quicker, more efficient “in-and-
out” method in which both tubes are spruced up simultaneously. While this would speed up the process, it would potentially strain the impact-mitigation efforts that the M.T.A is planning. Many have expressed a preference for this plan, including potential contractors who would have more control over their work, and could capitalize on in-
centives to complete the job ahead of schedule. “We’re still in the preliminary stages right now,” said the same M.T.A. representative. “So whatever happens going forward, we do want community input on these things.” The transit representatives said that they had visited almost every community board along the Canarsie route that would be affected, and will not ignore public opinion. George Haikalis, a public member of the C.B. 2 Traffic and Transportation Committee and a civil engineer, suggested that duct banks may be an antiquated communications system. “Can’t we use radio communication? Can’t we use some type of wire on the top of the tunnel?” Haikalis said. “It would be great to find a third option that would be three months, or six months. Something like the FASTRACK Maintenance Program, where very extensive work is done in the subway over the weekend, and then it’s back up and running.” In response, M.T.A. representatives directed concerned citizens to www. mta.info/CanarsieTunnelReconstruction, where infomation about the project can be found and suggestions can be made.
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July 14, 2016
Jim Gaffigan can’t leave ‘sticky’ East Village Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association News Story, First Place, 2015 Editorial Page, First Place, 2015 Editorials, First Place, 2014 News Story, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Best Column, First Place, 2012 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011 Spot News Coverage, First Place, 2010 Coverage of Environment, First Place, 2009
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The Villager (USPS 578930) ISSN 00426202 is published every week by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 (212) 229-1890. Periodicals Postage paid at New York, N.Y. Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $29 ($35 elsewhere). Single copy price at office and newsstands is $1. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2016 NYC Community Media LLC. PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR
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July 14, 2016
GAFFIGAN continued from p. 1
comedian shifted from Mott St. to a two-bedroom walk-up on the Bowery and then to a larger space in Nolita. His show, though, is still rooted mostly in the East Village and Lower East Side, with scenes at Katz’s Deli and The Library, the divey rock n’ roll bar on Avenue A off of Houston. “The Library is one of these weird bars that doesn’t make sense,” said Gaffigan of the place, which often has cult films playing on its back screen. When chatting about the neighborhood, Gaffigan’s excitement bounces from one venue, avenue, street, dive bar or restaurant to another, much like the filming of his TV Land show, which he co-writes and executive produces with his wife, Jeannie Gaffigan. Nearly every scene outside of the faux-Gaffigan apartment on “The Jim Gaffigan Show” is set somewhere locally — from the Bowery Ballroom to the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral (the real Gaffigan family’s church). This season, which premiered June 19, skips around between local haunts, like McSorley’s Old Ale House — Cardinal Timothy Dolan, whose father was a bartender in St. Louis, has a cameo in the historic sawdust-covered watering hole — or eating an excess of pastrami at favorite hang Katz’s. Keep an eye out for 24-hour Ukrainian restaurant Veselka on Second Ave., the VW food truck at Tacombi Mexican restaurant on Elizabeth St. in Nolita, Ben’s Pizzeria at MacDougal and W. Third Sts. and Pomodoro Ristorante & Pizzeria at Spring and Mulberry Sts. “The East Village is one of the most authentic, New York neighborhoods that they try to recreate in other cities,” said Gaffigan. “There’s this ancient, beautiful quality in the East Village, so there’s sort of this energy and a chaos.” Gaffigan loves the grittiness that the East Village maintains — the fact that other parents he meets might own a tattoo parlor and have “real” jobs. His own kids, on the other hand, are indifferent to their surroundings, with the exception of his eldest daughter, Marre, once told her dad, “It’s dirty where we live. Why don’t we live where it’s clean?”
Jim Gaffigan’s show shoots on location, mostly in the East Village, Lower East Side, Soho and Noho.
From Crif Dogs to Katz’s, food also keeps him in the area. She meant the Upper East Side, Gaffigan said. “I don’t want to live there,” he laughed. “Now I think she gets it. But when she was 6, she was like, the Upper East Side is so plain and pretty. “Obviously there’s the aspect of neighborhood feel, like it’s being removed,” said Gaffigan of the area’s transformation, as rising rents have forced many old-school East Villagers — people who may have grown up in the neighborhood or lived there for years — to move out, and businesses and venues to close. Yet, Gaffigan holds out hope that the area won’t lose all of its character. “The neighborhood aspect of the East Village, even as much as N.Y.U. expands, it’s still impenetrable,” he said. “It almost helps that it’s not the hippest place to live.”
Food also keeps him in the area. The author of a memoir, “Dad Is Fat” (2013), and “Food: A Love Story” (2014), Gaffigan loves to eat — mostly bad food. Yet he rarely indulges in eating out since most of his meals are kid- and familyfocused. Like his bars, he likes the dive-y East Village eateries, like Crif Dogs, where he used to go with his kids before their soccer practice and for hot dogs and video games. “It’s kind of like that East Village experience,” he said of the hot dog joint, founded in 2001 by childhood friends Brian Shebairo and Chris Antista. “It’s not anything fancy. It’s not Serendipity 3,” he said, referring to the Upper East Side restaurant known for its outlandish desserts. “It’s an East Village Serendity.” Gaffigan is far from a diva or food snob — the complete op-
posite — and will take a good burger or slice of pizza from Two Boots over the fancy stuff. He’s also a fan of Mamoun’s falafel on MacDougal and W. Third St. (also captured in season two) and the Great Jones Cafe. “The Great Jones Cafe is right near us, so I’ve probably eaten about 8,000 of those hamburgers,” Gaffigan joked. “Great Jones Cafe is kind of East Village-y. You go in there, and no one is ever going to try to show off. No one is trying to hide. It’s this watering hole that’s pretty amazing. On set, I eat in so many scenes, but I love Shake Shack.” Gaffigan also tends to go where the show takes him — and films at the moment. He’s been shooting more at Katz’s lately, but he already had a long history with the kosher deli’s pastrami. “I’d just eat there so often prior to shooting,” he said. “When I had daddy time with one of my kids, I’d take them to Katz’s for a massive pastrami sandwich.” One place Gaffigan wishes he could film the show today is Mars Bar. The gritty watering hole, covered in graffiti and stickers inside and out, reminiscent of the CBGB interior, on Second Ave. and E. First St., closed in 2011. Hank Penza, the bar’s owner, passed away last year at age 82. “You would go in there and it wouldn’t surprise you to run into an authentic hobo,” Gaffigan said. “The East Village still has this squatter kind of spirit. By the way, I would never squat. I’m lazy, but you know what I mean. The Mars Bar and The Bowery Poetry Club were like these true misfit islands.” The Bowery Poetry Club is still operating, though in a scaled-back form, after its space was taken over by Duane Park burlesque and jazz club. The East Village is “sticky,” Gaffigan explained. It’s hard to leave it behind, yet he admitted that he did consider moving to Los Angeles for career reasons years ago. “All the things I like about New York, you can’t really find in L.A.,” he said. “You can’t get what you get in New York anywhere else. I don’t think I could live in another country. I love international travel, but I love convenience. I have this romantic idea of living in Paris or Ireland, but I don’t think I’d do it.” TheVillager.com
DROWSY DRIVING CAN BE AS DANGEROUS AS DRIVING IMPAIRED The public is well educated about the dangers of driving while impaired by medication, alcohol or illegal drugs. But drivers may not be aware that driving while tired can be just as dangerous. Driving when tired can be a fatal mistake. Just as alcohol or drugs can slow down reaction time, impair judgment and increase the risk of accident, so, too, can being tired behind the wheel. Drowsy driving is reportedly what caused the fatal crash in June 2014 between a limousine and a Walmart truck that ended the life of
comic James McNair and seriously injured fellow comedian Tracy Morgan. The driver, Kevin Roper, was going 20 miles over the speed limit and was almost at his drive time limit, according to preliminary reports by the National Transportation Safety Board. According to the U.S. National Highway Trafﬁc Safety Administration, about 100,000 car crashes in the United States each year occur as the result of an overly tired driver. Various studies demonstrate that drivers who have remained awake for 18 hours prior to
driving mimic the driving performance of intoxicated motorists. In fact, drowsy driving can be confused with driving with a high blood alcohol content. Sleepiness can arise relatively quickly, and according to Thomas Balkin, PhD, director of the behavioral biology program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and a leading expert on sleep and fatigue, it’s difﬁcult for drivers to assess just how sleepy they are. “Sleepiness affects the part of the brain responsible for judgment and self-awareness,” he says.
“When you’ve reached the stage where you are ﬁghting sleep, the effect of any method of reviving yourself can be very short-lived.” Furthermore, people do not have to be in a deep sleep to actually be asleep behind the wheel. Micro-sleeps occur when certain brain cells temporarily shut down for a few seconds. A person is not completely asleep but in a sort of fog as if they are asleep. When sleepiness sets in, the best course of action is to pull off the road. Opening the window, turning on the radio or blasting cold air is,
at best, only a temporary solution. If driving with passengers and feelings of sleepiness appear, hand the keys over to a passenger and have them take over driving, if possible. Otherwise, a short nap and a cup of coffee can be used in combination to increase alertness. It’s also a good idea to avoid beginning a long road trip in mid-afternoon around the hours of two or three o’clock. While alertness generally dips in the evening hours, due to the circadian rhythm, alertness also dips in the late afternoon, 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.
July 14, 2016
Protests, soul-searching continue after police shootings, Dallas PROTESTs continued from p. 1
got to keep fighting.” “You can do more to help us and support us than appropriate our culture,” another protestors said, speaking to what whites could do in the wake of the violence. “For me as a black woman talking to black people, we need to love and respect each other,” another woman said into the microphone as she began to cry. “To all the white people who think black people are violent, that’s not the truth.” Speakers expressed outrage and frustration about the many police shootings of African-Americans. Yet, it seemed that the events in Dallas weighed on everyone’s mind, as some of the protesters urged the group to obey police orders to stay off the street. The police had set up barricades surrounding the southeast corner of Union Square, and officers gathered to keep watch as the crowd swelled, reaching close to 300 at its peak. Daniela Brito, of Washington Heights, had marched with protesters on Thursday. After the Dallas shootings, she expressed concern about the police who had gathered to watch over the crowd. “I’m kind of scared that there’s going to be way more police presence,” she said. At about 7:30 p.m., the protesters began marching, with one group head-
ing down to the Williamsburg Bridge, and the other headed for Grand Central Terminal in Midtown. Police accompanied the Manhattan group, as protesters chanted, “Black Lives Matter,” “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” and “No Justice, No Peace.” After walking up Second Ave. to 23rd St. and back down Third Ave., the group returned to Union Square by around 8 p.m. before heading west on 14th St. and up through Chelsea on Seventh Ave. More police gathered as the group approached Times Square, but the marchers moved east. Obeying police requests to stay on the sidewalk, they arrived at Grand Central shortly before 9 p.m. Beneath the clock tower, protesters raised their fists in solidarity during a moment of silence, before heading up the escalators into the MetLife building, and moving west on 45th St. The marchers began to disperse after 9 p.m. While there were no arrests during Friday’s demonstrations, about 20 protestors were arrested from among the hundreds that gathered for protests on Saturday night, according to reports. Black Lives Matter NYC had posted on its Facebook page earlier in the day, calling for a march to demand justice for Delrawn Small, in partnership with NYC Shut it Down: The Grand Central Crew. While some groups marched across the Williamsburg
Bridge from Brooklyn, another started at City Hall, marching up Broadway to Union Square, with smaller groups breaking off and some stopping traffic on the F.D.R. Drive. According to Gothamist, Delrawn Small’s nephew Zayanahla Vines led this protest. New surveillance video of Small’s shooting was released exclusively to the New York Post on Friday, showing Small walking toward police officer Wayne Isaac’s car when Isaacs sudden-
ly opened fire. This footage contradicted an earlier report published in the Post, in which a witness claimed he had video footage of Small punching the police officer through the car’s window. On Sunday afternoon, hundreds more protesters marched from Times Square down Broadway to Union Square, according to news reports, where they held a sit-in in the park. No arrests reportedly were made on Sunday.
Photos by Lauren Vespoli
Black Lives Matters protesters marching near Union Square on Friday.
Demonstrators in Union Square on Friday protesting recent police killings of African-American men by police officers.
July 14, 2016
Photos by Q. Sakamaki
Outcry in Harlem after police shootings go on...and on
Protesters in Harlem Thursday night decried the recent killings of black men by police in Brooklyn, Louisiana and Minnesota. “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” they yelled as police, assigned to the protest, rolled by in their cruisers and stood in groups.
July 14, 2016
Landmarks Commission slams Jane towers plan
A rendering of the proposed design for 85-89 Jane St., featuring two towers, one sheathed in translucent glass. Communit y Board 2, in a May resolution opposing the project, said it was especially disturbed by the incongruous glass tower, saying it would be “a monolithic glow-in-thedark presence on a quiet Village street.” Now the Landmarks Preser vation Commission has also said the project is inappropriate. Towers continued from p. 1
several members of other advocacy organizations. The locals’ opposition to the prospect of the two 90-foot towers won over the commissioners. “I think these choices that you have made are intriguing, but I don’t think that they can really fit within this context of a historic district,” Meenakshi Srinivasan, the L.P.C. chairperson told the applicants. “There are other options here, but I think this option is not appropriate.” Her opinions were echoed by every agency member that spoke thereafter, effectively sending the proposal back to the drawing board. More than 50 community members packed the hearing, with many holding up fliers condemning the Jane St. project. According to Andrew Berman, executive director of G.V.S.H.P., the level of turnout at these meetings is an indicator of the community interest in the result, and “definitely has an impact” on the commission’s final decision. The architects are designing this “mega-mansion” for a single billionaire client, Jon Stryker. Ted Grunewald, one of the residents who testified against the project, said it is giving the block a “giant middle finger from the 1%.” Under the proposed design, the towers would be relatively slim, housing a studio and a library. The height of the existing street wall would be raised to 40 feet, with indoor gardens and the multistory residence built behind it. In addition to the height issue, some residents also mocked the idea that a fully-fledged wood-
July 14, 2016
ed garden would be built behind the street wall, which, they said, would require countless trucks filled with thousands of pounds of dirt, disturbing the block during construction. Buildings on Jane St. has an average height of around 35 feet to 40 feet, the critics said. To justify the project’s noncontextual height, the architects cited examples of other industrial- and commercial-type structures in the surrounding area, and pointed out that only 5 percent of the floor plan would go above 40 feet. But that statement was met by derisive jeers from the audience. Zack Winestine, co-chairperson of the Greenwich Village Community Task Force, called that argument “an insult to the community and an insult to this commission,” noting that all the examples of industrial towers cited by the applicant are located outside of the historic district. “This smokestack illusion demonstrates contextual confusion,” Grunewald added. “This brickand-glass construction is a grotesquely out-ofplace protrusion.” G.V.S.H.P. has spearheaded the preservation effort, generating several hundred letters to the mayor and the L.P.C., expressing opposition to the two towers, which have been described as “prison watchtowers.” Berman, in his testimony, blasted the proposal. “The startling and intrusive towers have no place here,” he said, “and the facade should be adjusted to ensure that the modest scale and dimensions of this prototypical Greenwich Village street are maintained” Echoing the preservationist, many in the audi-
ence who spoke thought that the existing plan could easily be adjusted to be less of an eyesore. “Depending on what else they did, I am not going to say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ but I am certainly more open to it,” said Elaine Young, a Jane St. resident and C.B. 2 member. “Problem number one is the two towers.” Architect Stephen Harris, who made the presentation, rebutted the community’s main concern, saying that having varied heights — rather than unbending uniformity — is actually a good thing. “I worry that this will become a district where everything is going to be built to the same height,” he said. Currently, 85-89 Jane St. is an old garage, which was built in 1892. The building’s past uses include a horse stable and an ice cream factory. According to some Villagers, the low-scale structure’s utilitarian appearance is actually what makes it the most interesting thing on the block. The meeting’s outcome left preservationists feeling buoyed and victorious — at least this time. At several points during the hearing, speakers referenced the “Gansevoort Row” plan as a “mistake.” In a shocking and crushing decision, a month ago, the L.P.C. approved a plan by Aurora Capital Associates and William Gottlieb Real Estate for the south side of Gansevoort St. between Ninth Ave. and Washington St. That scheme would demolish some of the lowslung former Meat Market buildings at the western end of the block and replace them with new buildings up to 81 feet high. Other existing buildings would be restored and topped with multistory additions. TheVillager.com
July 14, 2016
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July 14, 2016
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Police Blotter Battery fear fizzles Half of Washington Square Park was cordoned off and the Bomb Squad was called in on Wed., July 6, after the contents of a man’s backpack apparently aroused the concerns of police. Doris Diether, the veteran Community Board 2 member, said she observed that the eastern part of the park, from the Garibaldi statue to Washington Square East, was cordoned off with police tape on Wednesday around 10:30 a.m. The area was full of cops, she said, with six police cars and two Bomb Squad trucks. “They descended on the park,” she said of the police. “They weren’t letting anyone go over there. Apparently, they arrested someone in Washington Square Park and he said he left a bomb there.” Police said a man reported that his backpack had been stolen from him around 6:50 a.m. while he was sleeping on a bench inside the park near the children’s playground. The backpack contained tobacco, sunglasses, two AMC movie vouchers and MetroNorth train tickets. A police spokesperson said the robber himself had put the battery inside the stolen bag — that it wasn’t something he taken from the victim. The spokesperson said it was not a car battery, but smaller, but did not precisely describe it. The victim said when he awoke, he looked around the park and found the man with his bag. When he tried to get it back, the man punched him multiple times, causing lacerations and swelling. According to police, the assailant said the victim told him, “I’m going to beat your a--. I’m from California,” then fled on foot. But police soon caught up with him. According to the complaint filed by police with the Manhattan district attorney, the defendant said, “It’s my bag, and this guy tried to take it from me. I punched him out because he wouldn’t stop coming at me. I’m going to beat that fool’s a-- when I get out of here.” The perpetrator, 24, from Brooklyn, was charged with second-degree robbery and criminal possession of stolen property, plus unlawful possession of marijuana. The police spokesperson did not have a record of anything the man might have said to cops upon his arrest. The D.A.’s complaint did not mention anything about the battery or a possible threat, and there was no related charge.
‘Armed’ robbery? Not A woman exiting a cab Sunday night came across a seemingly dangerous duo. On July 10 at 6:10 p.m., the victim got out of a taxi in front of 297 W. 12th St. A man and an unidentified person approached her displaying firearms and one of them said, “Give me the money.” The pair then fled on foot. Police apprehended a 15-year-old male, Ashaun Estrada, who was found to be in possession of imitation pistols. He was arrested for felony robbery. A person of “unknown gender” who stands around 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 125 pounds, with black shaved hair is still at large. It wasn’t clear if the muggers actually stole any property from the victim.
Entry via the A/C Police said that on Mon., July 11, at about 1:30 p.m., a robber gained access to a 28-year-old man’s apartment in the vicinity of Sixth Ave. and W. Ninth St. through a window after he pushed in an air conditioner.
July 14, 2016
Mae Gray is missing.
A sur veillance image of the alleged W. Ninth St. burglar.
The suspect then removed the victim’s tablet computer, a laptop computer and a pair of sunglasses and fled in an unknown direction. Police released video and photos of the suspect from a surveillance camera installed inside the victim’s home. The burglar is described as last seen wearing an orange T-shirt, a dark-colored knit cap and dark-colored sweatpants. Anyone with information is asked to call the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS, or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting them to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.
Well, that bites A 23-year-old woman tried to help another female get her property back from a thief but took some punishment for her efforts. On Sun., July 10, at 8:25 p.m. on the southwest corner of Sixth Ave. and Bleecker St., after the woman attempted to get the property back, the perpetrator pulled her hair and bit her on the nose and hand. The victim suffered swelling and pain but refused medical attention. Police arrested Casey Berrian, 39, for misdemeanor assault.
Gone missing Police are seeking the public’s assistance in locating a missing woman from the East Village and a missing man from the Lower East Side. Police said Mae Gray, age 59, of 347 E. Fourth St.,
Armando Guerra is missing.
was last seen Sun., June 26, around 2 p.m. inside 200 W. 143rd St. She is described as 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 275 pounds, with brown eyes and gray hair, and was last seen wearing a red T-shirt. Also reported missing is Armando Guerra, age 57, of 91 Pitt St. Police said he was last seen Tues., July 5, at 5:40 p.m. leaving his residence. Guerra is 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 230 pounds, with a medium build, medium complexion and brown hair. He was last seen wearing a brown T-shirt, tan pants and white sneakers. Anyone with information about either individual is asked to contact the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline.
Uber angry On Tues., July 5, around 12:30 a.m., an Uber driver allegedly had a bad interaction with a pedestrian at the northwest corner of W. Houston and Washington Sts. Police said the guy on foot punched the passenger-side mirror of the Uber vehicle, causing it to break. Francisco Sierra, 34, was arrested for misdemeanor criminal mischief.
Emily Siegel and Lincoln Anderson TheVillager.com
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July 14, 2016
Bursting with flowers, LaGuardia Gardens is
Photos by Tequila Minsky
Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, who stood 5 feet 2, was known affectionately as “the Little Flower.” It’s fitting then that LaGuardia Corner Gardens, at LaGuardia Place and Bleecker St. is a hotbed of flowers at this time of summer. You can also find bees there, plus gardeners who are as busy as bees — if not even busier — keeping the beautiful garden looking its blooming best. Members are also happy to go for a spin — as in t wirling their heft y composter to help break down foliage and turn it into good fodder for the plants. Back in the disco days, you could find Sara Jones on the dance floor at Studio 54. Today, she’s the garden’s guiding light, rocking a catchy “Pollen Nation” T-shir t. Hey, at least someone is tr ying to save the bees!
Beekeeper Sara Jones about to put away the smudge pot, which disorients the bees with smoke so they don’t sting.
July 14, 2016
getting lots of buzz; Composting also in the mix
Barbara Cahn shows off the compost pile just for the garden’s clippings and other organic matter.
Busy at work, the Carniolan bees, are so productive the garden’s beekeepers added an ex tra “stor y” to their hive. An impromptu har vest of the hive a few weeks back produced some delicious lavender honey that luck y visitors got a taste of. TheVillager.com
July 14, 2016
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July 14, 2016
Alphie McCourt, 75, writer, youngest of famed Irish clan
obituary BY Albert Amateau
lphie McCourt, a writer and memoirist whose columns have appeared in The Villager, died suddenly at home on the Upper West Side while taking an afternoon nap on July 2. He was 75. Born in Limerick, Ireland, Alphonsus Joseph McCourt was the youngest brother of the late Frank McCourt, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and of Malachy McCourt, the writer and actor. Another older brother, Michael, of San Francisco, died last year. As a young man who came to New York to live for a time with Frank, 10 years his elder, Alphie found work wherever he could and eventually owned two restaurants in Manhattan. In 1975 he married Lyn Rockman, who survives, as does their daughter, Allison. For 20 years, from 1993 until he retired in 2013, Alphie worked for the Penn South Co-op in Chelsea in charge of apartment restorations in the 2,800-unit residential complex. Brendan Keany, general manager of Penn South, recalled meeting Alphie in the late 1980s at Allison’s, named for Alphie’s and Lyn’s daughter. The restaurant on Eighth Ave. near Penn South closed after a time, but Alphie went on to run Los Panchos on Columbus Ave. near 71st St. However, as the father of a family, running bars and restaurants was not ideal, so Alphie found the job at Penn South, inspecting apartments and directing their restoration. It was then that he began submitting columns that won the respect of editors and writers at The Villager. In a 2009 article in The Villager, the late Jerry Tallmer wrote about Alphie on the occasion of the publication of his memoir, “A Long Stone’s Throw.” One paragraph in Tallmer’s article outlined some of the various jobs that Alphie had taken on as a young man: “Working on a great glop-a-da-glop mainframe computer on Wall Street; issuing tickets for British and Irish Railways; a one-day job as bellhop in a Montreal hotel; a bank teller in Montreal; an encyclopedia salesman — for a month; working at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service on 14th Street as a buyer of luggage and musical instruments, knowing nothing about luggage and less about musical instruments; filing clerk; and, oh yes, teacher.” Lyn McCourt recalled first meeting her future husband. “We were friends for a long time before we were married,” she said. “He was working as a bartender at the White Horse Tavern when I came in with a writer friend. He told me that he ‘saw the light TheVillager.com
Alphie McCour t in 2009 on Eighth Ave. at W. 26th St.
behind me’ when I came in. He could twist words and turn something ordinary into something poignant. Just before he went to California around 1970, we spent a whole night walking and talking. He came back from California in 1974 and we got married in 1975. It’s been 40 years,” she said. “Our daughter has special needs and has learning and speech problems. Alphie sang to her every night as a baby and eventually she sang back to him. They were inseparable. He’d have breakfast with her every morning. He was a great father — he, who hadn’t seen his own father very much. When we went to Ireland in 1980 he went north to find his father, and he did find him,” Lyn recalled, adding, “I’m a Jewish girl from the Bronx who wanted to marry an Irishman with a brogue, and I did.” Joe Hurley, of Joe Hurley’s Irish Rock Review, said Alphie, in his later years, had gotten into singing with the group, performing tunes from “the great Irish songbook,” like “The Old Triangle.” “He just performed with us at the High Line Ballroom in March,” Hurley said. “He loved being around young people. The place was full of young people and rock and roll, and then Alphie comes out — you could hear a pin drop. “He would talk about how he had these incredible older brothers...fantastic storyteller,” the musician said. “He never tooted his own horn.” On July 6, a memorial gathering for Alphie McCourt on the Upper West Side attracted nearly 200 friends. “I got calls from Guatemala, Ethiopia, Ireland, Spain,” Lyn said. The call from Ethiopia was from a woman who helped the McCourts with their daughter. “Her husband was in New York and had phoned her. She wanted me to tell her that what she had heard was a lie.” At the July 6 gathering, the words that everyone spoke were, “He was a gentle man.” Malachy was the last speaker and ended his remarks with a song, with everyone joining in. Another celebration of Alphie’s life is planned for September. July 14, 2016
Photo by Tequila Minsky
Pipe dream will see all new tubes around square A corroded, ancient pipe was yanked out of the street on Washington Square North earlier this week. The work was part of a massive pipe-replacement project ongoing around the historic pipe.
Letters to the editor More hollering, please! To The Editor: Re “Street-hollering woman: It’s just the way I roll” (notebook, by Kathleen Rockwell Lawrence, July 7):
Brilliant! I want more Kathleen Rockwell Lawrence in my life! Sharyn Wolf
Proud paraders To The Editor: On July 2, the Lower Manhattan Historical Society held its Independence Day Parade — the only one in Manhattan, by the way. The Dames of the American Revolution, Veteran Corps of Artillery, Staten Island Bagpipers and anyone who wanted to, formed the line of march from the Battery Park City promenade to Bowling Green, which took about 30 minutes. Lots of spectators were cheering and taking photos. Keep it in mind for next year and join this terrific event. Noreen Shipman E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to email@example.com or fax to 212-2292790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.
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July 14, 2016
My life and the Village over the years: Part I
Notebook By Otis Kidwell Burger
artha died in September 1914, a little more than 100 years ago — the last of 3 billion American passenger pigeons, shot, netted and sent to market, and extinct in just 50 years. The Village is not going extinct, but in the 90-plus years I’ve been around it, many of its buildings, houses and some of its distinctive flavors have disappeared. I was born on Staten Island in 1923. In the late ’20s, my parents built a house on the heights of Staten Island, from which we three children looked down on the harbor, the ships and waited every Thanksgiving for an escaped Macy’s Day Parade balloon to come our way. We were never taken to the parade; New York was too full of germs. But in the ’30s, Dad would drive the car onto the ferry, and we children would feed stale bread to the seagulls, while homeless men sold apples, played musical glasses, or walked the decks with their kits, murmuring, “Shoe-sh, shoesh.” We would watch the green copperroofed towers of Lower Manhattan — the Emerald City! —grow closer until the ferry slouched into the dock. We visited the Museum of Natural History (free then) and the zoo, ate at the Automat and Schrafft’s, shopped at B. Altman and Shackman’s, rode the Sixth Ave. El (fewer germs than the subway). We wore white gloves and gargled with disinfectant when we got home. Our family had been living on Staten Island and Manhattan since before 1800. The Dutch had been there well before us, cutting down trees, making farms and villages. But Manhattan was still pretty green. My great-grandfather, William Henry Willcox, born in Lower Manhattan in 1821, helped his nearsighted brother, Edwin, collect beetles and butterflies from the surrounding countryside. Harlem and Greenwich were still villages, and the city, in 1830, ended at E. Ninth St. Edwin collected so much that he was able to trade duplicate insects to collectors in England, France and Germany eager for American specimens. Edwin also supplied missionaries sailing to exotic countries with bottle, alcohol and instructions for collecting and returning specimens. He amassed what was said to be the finest collection in America. When he went blind, his collection was broken up, and some was given to a museum in Philadelphia. The Village waterfront was bustling and international. So the family once gave a West Indian man named Richard Carty money to buy interesting foreign
Courtesy Otis Kidwell Burger
A por trait of the writer, who is now 93, as a young ar tist at her easel.
goods for resale in their store. Carty returned with an African lioness. “The market for lionesses was not very active,” my great-grandfather wrote. So she and her cage were stored in a large double loft, and Will, after befriending her, would let her out to bound around and exercise. She was eventually sold to a menagerie, and probably never again experienced such freedom. The harbor teemed with wildlife — porpoises, striped bass, bluefish, sharks feeding on the offal from slaughterhouses, and many other fish. My mother said there were once also oysters as big as dinner plates that were settled on sunken barges in the Arthur Kill, to “sweeten.” (Today that waterway is too foul to “sweeten” anything). Even in my childhood, there were schools of menhaden and shad nets in the Hudson every spring and shad roe in the markets. Around the late ’20s, the old fort at Battery Park — which had once become “Castle Garden,” full of music — was filled full of fish in an impressive aquarium where local fish swam under glass and under grim stone walls, and I was given my very own little local dried seahorse in a box. Even later, old men fished for eels and striped bass on Upper West Side piers. And the Hudson froze every winter. Even in the ’40s two adventurous teenagers — one I knew later — were marooned on the river on a chunk of floating ice and had to be rescued by the Coast Guard. In the 1800s, the East River was lined with shipyards. An arm of the sea, the East River is salty, and in
The school for seagoing cooks on W. 13th St. turned into the Gay and Lesbian Center. those days was ice-free long after the Hudson was supporting skaters, ice sailing boats and commercial sledges. The South Street Seaport bristled with masts of tall sailing ships headed to Europe, Asia or around the Horn to the goldfields of 1849. In my youth, New York was still a famous first-class seaport. Longshoremen unloaded cargo from the holds of cargo ships and onto the piers. Tugs, barges and fireboats, ferries and small craft filled its busy waters. On shore were rooming houses and seamen’s bars and seamen. And I once saw a desperate, doomed cow galloping down the riverfront, escaping from two men from the slaughterhouse near Gansevoort St. Now the onetime Meat Market, with its huge carcasses and barrels of entrails and calf heads, has mostly been transformed into clothing and gourmet shops, and meat comes tactfully wrapped in plastic.
The huge covered piers echoing with the sounds of the enormous ships, the bustle of passengers and baggage handlers coming and going — this splendid confusion into which my family and I disembarked, returning from a trip to England in 1936 — is now all gone, long silent. And in 1950, we saw a friend off to Europe on the Queen Elizabeth, and my little daughter Neall wailed, “But I thought we were going to Yurp! I wanted to go to Yurp!” (She did, later. But by then, by jet plane.) The Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mary, the Normandy, back then all left from those piers, proceeding escorted by a royal entourage of tugs, fireboats and a few smaller attending crafts, to a pomp-and-circumstance solemn accompaniment of booming foghorns and whistles. And then they were all gone. New Year’s Eve no longer booms with those sonorous yearning voices. The railroad through Westbeth no longer clanks and screeches. The elevated highway also came down. And container ships took over. There was less of a need for longshoremen and able-bodied seamen. The great liners were replaced by cruise ships — those floating apartment buildings — and jets. The waterfront dwindled. The school for seagoing cooks on W. 13th St. turned into the Gay and Lesbian Center, and its auxiliary school ship, the John Brown, was removed from its berth alongside Pier 40. A seaman friend rescued one of the cannibal-sized kettles. It still sits in my Berkshire woods. I’m trying to persuade Pier 40 to take it home again, a last memento. Some of the nightlife of the piers ended when one of them burned on a suitably windy day. Towering clouds of black smoke — had it been set? The other piers were rehabilitated, some converted into sports piers, one had an art show. The fate of Pier 40 has been debated for years. And of course, the Hudson became polluted, as rivers do. The fishermen stopped fishing, the shad went away. The Clearwater and Pete Seeger (and my daughter Neall and many others) began sailing up and down, singing of clean water and fish, and there was sewage treatment and other measures. Now the Hudson and the harbor are cleaner and the shad are beginning to come back. We fought off a six-lane Westway and buildings on the Hudson and got a moderate highway and the riverfront park instead. The elevated highway is gone, but we have new, tall glass towers along the waterfront, which, like everything else near the river, suffered from Superstorm Sandy. And recently some developers were OTIS continued on p. 20
July 14, 2016
My life and the Village over the years: Part I OTIS continued from p. 19
talking of “developing” the waterfront? Please! It’s all gone. And we’re built on landfill. Turning the railroad into the High Line was a brilliant save, and a nice place to take visitors, but its plantings are not like any vegetation of old Manhattan and Staten Island — catbriers, poison ivy, sassafras saplings, wild onions and violets. At Staten Island’s southern tip were Osage oranges and forests of very tall reeds. The Staten Island waterfront has changed, too. In the ’60s, whenever a friend and I grew tired of civilization, we drove onto the ferry and then around the west side of Staten Island. At night. No lights. A proper profound, primeval pre-Dutch dark. Then all the festoons of poison ivy and catbrier were scoured away and replaced with little houses. In 1944, when I was illustrating a book of fish for Dr. John Tredwell Nichols at the American Museum of Natural History, he told me that when he was a boy, there were goat farms all up the West Side of Manhattan. A living eyewitness! He is portrayed in a diorama about the making of maple sugar in a ground-level hall at the museum. And yes, he could have been a boy in 1870 or 1880 and seen the creation of that “wilderness,” Central Park. After 1830, when my grandfather
lived on E. Ninth St. — again, then the upper edge of the city — building rushed uptown rapidly. In 1941, when my mother and we three kids moved to 16 E. Ninth St. (not far from where Great-grandad William Henry lived), the Village was already totally settled, with a lively history of its own. Speakeasies and Edna St. Vincent Millay were gone, but there were plenty of poets and local characters, such as Joe Gould (“An Oral History of Our Time”) and a street woman with an enormous beehive of unwashed hair. We also had what were later known as hippies, transvestites and other folks in costumes. My mother’s apartment, at 16 E. Ninth, was a huge garden duplex, so big that she rented out the upper rear half — big living room with fireplace, terrace, bedroom, bathroom, hot plate and private entrance — for $250 a month, just what she paid for the entire apartment, and lived rent-free. In those days you could also get a coldwater apartment for $100 a month, or a furnished basement apartment for $60 a month. Down the street was Aunt Clemmy’s, with a billboard showing a large black lady with a red bandana on her head, now politically incorrect. Around the corner was a Gristede’s. Across University Place was the Hotel Lafayette cafe, where a friend took me to tea with Bertrand
Russell and his wife. To the west of the corner of Fifth Ave. were the Mark Twain House and the Hotel Brevoort. Double-decker buses took you down Fifth Ave. for 10 cents. Along Eighth St. were Lee Baumman’s Clothing, Tom de Lime’s Crafts, many art-supply stores, the Whitney Museum, the Art and the Eighth St. movie theaters, the Jumble Shop and Wanamaker’s, now all gone. But Bigelow at least is, thank God, surviving. It all had a comfortable, real-Village feel. And there were far fewer people. I entered Bennington just before Pearl Harbor. My brother joined the Army Specialized Training Program. Ration books. Blackouts. Big black headlines. Lessons in lethal geography. Horrors ending in horrors, dwindling down to duck-and-cover and the massproduced postwar suburb Levittown. In 1945, my redheaded brother shed his Army drabs and bought a purple plaid suit and went on to medical school at Columbia. My mother started a lumber business in the Adirondacks. My mother also started her own medical research. Her bedroom was full of guinea pig cages and plaintive guinea pigs. Our little sister later on briefly became a showgirl in Michael Rose’s Follies on Broadway. And then, in ’46, I graduated from Cornell and married Knox Brecken-
ridge Burger, also from Cornell, who had been on Saipan with Yank, the Army newspaper, covering the B-29 attacks on Tokyo and the famous fire raid. We had no money and no jobs and rented a very dark basement apartment on W. 73rd St. for $60 a month. I sold a couple of display sculptures, but we were down to our last $200 when Knox landed the job of fiction editor at Collier’s magazine. He was 26. We then moved into a five-flight walk-up on Barrow St. I took post-grad classes at N.Y.U., sold display work to B. Altman, Franklin Simon, de Pinna’s and Georg Jensen, now all gone, and sold sculptures at the first Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit to admit craftspeople. There were coffeehouses. And music. We went to Chumley’s and Nick’s and Eddie Condon’s and heard Eubie Blake and Charles Mingus. Josh White performed at Café Society Downtown, as did Imogene Coca. Susan Reed sang at the Café Society Uptown, where another young woman and I once accompanied her one Christmas, singing carols. Gene Saks, once J-E-A-N now G-E-N-E, was at the Cherry Lane, as was Bea Arthur. Bea was later at the Theater de Lys in “Three Penny Opera” and then on television as “Maude” and Gene — who were married in 1950 — went on to Broadway in “A Thousand Clowns” and other shows. ...
Hope for humanity’s future found in S.D.R. Park
Global village By Bill Weinberg It’s amazing how sometimes the smallest things can give me a little hope for humanity’s future — at least enough to get me through the next few days… . So I’m engaging in one of my summer rituals this Saturday afternoon: having an iced coffee on the benches overlooking the handball court in Sara Delano Roosevelt Park at Grand St. — right where Chinatown meets the Lower East Side — watching the kids play. On the bench next to me is a mixed group, all in the 15-to-18 age range — two Chinese gals, two black guys and a guy who looks Latino. They are talking avidly about some mysterious thing called “Pokemon Go.” One of the gals admits she doesn’t like video games, and the others start teasing her about being Asian. She responds self-deprecatingly, “Yeah, I break all the stereotypes, I even suck at math!”
July 14, 2016
The Latin-looking kid now responds, surprisingly, “Yeah, I’m more Chinese than you are! I speak three Chinese dialects: Mandarin, Cantonese and Taishanese!” And to prove it, he rattles off a few phrases in each. The gals — who he is clearly trying to impress — giggle appreciatively. (These are actually distinct languages, not dialects.) It turns out the kid is a mix of Puerto Rican and Chinese. And turning to his black friends, he adds: “And that means I’m black, too, ’cuz most Puerto Ricans and Dominicans are really black anyway.” Now that the convo has moved on to linguistics and ethnicity, he asks one of the black kids, “You’re Jamaican, aren’t you?” Getting an affirmative nod, he jumps into a masterful Jamaican patois, peppered with Rastafarian lingo. The gals crack up, now clearly very impressed. And so was I. Stressed and depressed over the past week’s grim events on the national stage, I was strangely heartened by this little episode — especially how these carefree kids were utterly unaffected by it all. How they were completely comfortable with each other across their “racial” divides. How they were, in a completely natural and unselfconscious way, proud of their roots and authenticity — but without the faintest trace of
chauvinism or exclusivism. I only hope that these kids grow up to have kids of their own who are as happy and free and smart and wholesome as they are. I only hope the biggest challenge they will face is to hold
onto their neighborhood — at least a little of it — and not be forced out by gentrification, rather than being swept into the maelstrom of hate and violence that this country is obviously right on the very edge of... .
Photo by Milo hess
This election really socks! Seen in King’s Pharmac y, at 5 Hudson St., in Tribeca.
Where booze and brushwork mix Alcohol-friendly art classes shake convention, stir creativity BY NICOLE JAVORSKY
ith her choice of alcohol in hand, Hannah Malyn sat down with her partner at a table where wine glasses and beer bottles — placed alongside paintbrushes and canvasses — could function equally well as still life and conversation starter. That unlikely pairing is what drives people like Malyn to Unarthodox — a new studio in Chelsea that, along with a handful of other bars and unconventional spaces, mixes art and alcohol for a new way to socialize in New York City. “People get stuck in their pattern of social drinking, and it’s great to do something creative,” said Malyn. Alvaro Montagna recently opened Unarthodox, where instructors teach art classes in a space whose mood lighting and modern furniture helps put newbie painters at ease. The casual setting came about when Montagna asked fellow artists to submit ideas for classes with a creative twist. Those with the best ideas were hired as instructors. While art supplies are included, participants are strongly encouraged to bring wine or beer along with them. “Except,” added Montagna with a laugh, “for the children’s classes, of course!” “I don’t think it is the act of drinking that gives them creativity. It’s the fact that they have the ability to do so that gives them a relaxed feeling and, in turn, opens up their creative juices, if you will,” he said.
ART IS THERAPEUTIC Tavia Sanza, an instructor for the “Bottled Art” painting class at Unarthodox, explained that making art has a cathartic TheVillager.com
PHOTO BY NICOLE JAVORSKY
At Tavia Sanza’s Unarthodox class, attendees express their creativity by making paintings of a peacock.
power for herself and others. To Sanza, art is grounding and provides an outlet for her “nervous energy,” as she put it. “Everything else around me could be going crazy, but I can go into my own little world and make something. It’s impossible to feel bad about yourself or life in general when you’re making something beautiful.” At another painting class, held by Painting Circle at Bar Nine in Hell’s Kitchen, several participants mentioned a similar reason for attending the art class. Ankit Sharma, a poet and writer, said, “I’ve always wanted to paint. It’s a great way to relieve stress.”
OVERCOMING DOUBT As Sanza walked around the table, she jokingly teased a participant, “You’re a perfectionist, aren’t you?” According to Sanza, many participants come into the class claiming incompetence in art. “I’ve learned to be the world’s greatest cheerleader,” she said, “because the reality is that I get so many people who come in here and tell me what they can’t do. We all have the potential, but if someone is making things look really easy, it’s probably not because they’re born with it, but because they’ve worked at it
really hard.” Irina Fialko, a Painting Circle instructor, echoed a similar sentiment about the trepidation participants have when they first begin the class — though, Fialko also added that students usually believe in themselves more by the end of the class. “Some feel like they can’t do it at all. But, by the end, they’re smiling and happy, and tipsy. People who thought they absolutely can’t do it end up with great paintings they can take home.” CLASSES continued on p. 22 July 14, 2016
PHOTOS BY NICOLE JAVORSKY
At the Painting Lounge, people keep their eyes on their paintbrushes as they listen to instructor Charles Sommer. CLASSES continued from p. 21
DRUNKEN CELEBRATION George Nolan attended a class at Painting Lounge’s Chelsea location for the celebration of his friend’s birthday. In his words, “We wanted to do something fun — definitely something that involved alcohol!” At Painting Lounge, participants can bring their own drinks to class or buy some from a limited selection. Nolan wasn’t the only one at Painting Lounge celebrating an occasion with liquor and painting. Lyndee McCallum came with her fiancé, mother, and future mother-in-law for a belated Mother’s Day treat. She was excited to have an activity where she could get to know her fiancé’s mother, while sipping her favorite drink: Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio. One of the instructors at Painting Lounge, Charles Sommer, told the class, “Some people get a little drunk and dip their paintbrush in the wine. It’s non-toxic paint so don’t worry!” Then, he added, “I wouldn’t suggest it, though.”
Beer and wine are welcome additions to Unarthodox classes.
do here is take things a little bit outside the box. If people want to paint it in a different color, I don’t care. I want you to have a good time — to be creative.” As she walked around the table again, Sanza reminded the students, “I don’t mind mistakes. Everyone is their own special rainbow.” The class schedule for Unarthodox (547 W. 27th St., Suite 300, btw. 10th & 11th Aves.) can be found at unarthodox. com or by calling 646-964-4733. The class schedule for Painting Lounge (Manhattan studios on W. 38th & W. 14th Sts., plus a Union Ave., Williamsburg location) can be found at paintinglounge.com or by calling 212-518-1803. Sign up for Painting Circle events (including at Bar Nine, 807 Ninth Ave., btw. W. 53rd & W. 54th Sts.) at paintingcircle.com.
Individuals at Bar Nine start their painting of a sunset with the help of Painting Circle instructor Irina Fialko.
MAKING MISTAKES The instructors embraced the messiness that often accompanies art-making in order to perpetuate a welcoming atmosphere for participants. Fialko said, “If a student messes up a canvas, it’s just a happy accident. I want to make it fun for everyone involved.” At Unarthodox, participants are encouraged to use whatever colors they’d like, and to make their paintings special — their own. “There’s a lot of ‘bottled art classes’ out there,” noted Sanza, “so I think some people have a preconceived idea of what it is. I think Unarthodox is special, because the people who are behind this are sincere.” Some of the other bottled art classes, she asserted, “are more commercialized, and this is definitely a labor of love. What we
July 14, 2016
Attendees to Painting Lounge’s class work on their skyline painting. TheVillager.com
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
Just Do Art
LESLIE ODOM JR. IN CONCERT Having just completed his run at the Richard Rodgers Theatre as understandably bitter odd man out Aaron Burr — with a legion of fans and a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical to show for it — the charismatic and not entirely unattractive Leslie Odom Jr. claims his rightful place as a main attraction, by turning The McKittrick Hotel’s Manderley Bar into the room where it happens. This strictly limited concert residency features material from Odom’s self-titled 10-track debut solo album, which finds him applying to jazz and musical theater classics the same knack for navigation and nuance he brought to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s rat-a-tat-tat “Hamilton” lyrics. Smartly surrounding himself with high-caliber talent given ample room to shine, the sharp arrangements and deft instrumental execution of such tunes as “I Know That You Know” and “Look for the Silver Lining” serve to heighten the effect of Odom’s engaging and textured vocals, while providing him with a welcome new forum for grafting his contemporary sensibilities onto source material from days gone by. In keeping with that spirit, don’t be surprised if a selection from his recent Broadway gig makes it into the setlist, alongside throwback interpretations of today’s pop hits and a collaboration or two with special, unannounced guests. Thursday, July 14, 21, 28 at the Manderley Bar (inside the McKittrick Hotel; 542 W. 27th St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). Doors open at 11pm, show at 11:30pm. Tickets ($45) at events.mckittrickhotel.com/lesliemanderley.
SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARKING LOT Wide swaths of concrete are to this troupe’s annual outdoor productions as ice floes are to the polar bear — rapidly disappearing territory upon which survival depends. Undaunted by 2014’s loss of the Ludlow & Broome location that served as its home for two decades, The Drilling Company’s “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” program marks season number two in a space behind The Clemente. Performed with grace and grit amidst all of the audible distractions and unplanned interactions the city can throw at them, director Kathy Curtiss’ adaptation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” tells the tale of forest magic and mistaken identity by casting its classic characters as outrageously garbed artists prone to playing tricks; upscale urbanites whose money can’t buy them love; and tech sector workers who long to create. During a post-solstice visit to the Lower COURTESY MCKITTRICK HOTEL Young, scrappy and hungry, Leslie Odom Jr. isn’t resting on his “Hamilton” laurels. See him in concert at JUST DO ART continued on p. 25 The McKittrick Hotel, Thursdays in July.
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.
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
The Elephant Pen Written by: Etienne Lepage Directed by Lissa Moira “A mental game of
predator and prey” July 7th - July 17th
(212) 989-3155 | thebespokekitchen.com 615 ½ Hudson St, New York, New York 10014 TheVillager.com
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! July 14, 2016
Buhmann on Art Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Scott Nedrelow
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID DEARMAS, COURTESY INVISIBLE-EXPORTS
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge: “Shoe Horn” (9 1/2 x 9 1/2 x 6 1/2 in.). COURTESY INVISIBLE-EXPORTS
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge: “Kali in Flames” (Mixed media, 1986, 20 x 25 in.).
BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN
GENESIS BREYER P-ORRIDGE: TRY TO ALTAR EVERYTHING Born in 1950 in Manchester, England, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge has lived many incarnations. Known as a “mail art” provocateur, “avant-garde anti-hero,” and the “godfather of industrial music” (having fronted Throbbing Gristle and, later, the post-punk band Psychic TV), s/he has recently gained increasing attention for the Pandrogeny Project (captured for larger audiences in the moving 2012 documentary “The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye”). The Pandrogeny Project was sparked by Breyer P-Orridge’s and h/er late wife Lady Jaye’s desire to unite as a single entity. Spanning several years, this endeavor involved surgical body modification to help both spouses to physically resemble one another. Breyer P-Orridge continued this quest even after Lady Jaye’s tragic death in 2007. Throughout Breyer P-Orridge’s career, the exploration of the meaning and substance of identity have been at the core of h/er oeuvre — which by now spans nearly five decades. The same is true for this exhibition. Curated by Beth Citron, it features a selection of paintings, sculp-
July 14, 2016
tures, and installations. Revealing how Hindu mythology and Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley have significantly impacted Breyer P-Orridge’s work, it points at the fact that both “Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Nepal itself have long shirked the confines of ‘either/or.’ ” In Nepal, where many people identify as Hindu and Buddhist at the same time, hybrid traditions are common. Genesis and Lady Jaye’s Pandrogeny Project, and their drive for an elective and creative gender identity might have signified a hybrid of a different nature, but it also required a strong notion of spiritual openness. Furthermore, much of Breyer P-Orridge’s artistic practice is rooted in devotion and ritual. Incorporating new works produced in Nepal, “Try to Altar Everything” will also give visitors opportunities to personally interact with the artist and engage with the provocative themes of self-expression and devotion. Through Aug. 1 at the Rubin Museum of Art (150 W. 17th St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). Hours: Mon. & Thurs., 11am–5pm; Wed., 11am–9pm; Fri., 11am– 10pm; Sat./Sun., 11am–6pm. Admission: $15 ($10 students/seniors, free for active duty military personnel & children 12 and under). Call 212-620-5000 or visit rubinmuseum.org.
SCOTT NEDRELOW: POLYFOCAL By embracing a variety of media, such as video, photography, and painting, the Brooklyn-based Nedrelow explores the technologies and materials of contemporary digital imaging. While his practice has been described as post-photographic, there remains a clear consciousness of traditional photographic concerns, in particular in regard to light. Nedrelow is keenly interested in both light in itself and our changing relationship to it, pointing indirectly to the fact that digital technology and displays impact our eyes in new ways on a daily basis. His ponderings along these lines are very well executed and exude a subtle elegance, as well as fierce intelligence. In this exhibition for example, several new videos will be featured and displayed on Ultra High-Definition TV screens. They belong to Nedrelow’s ongoing “Viewfinder Sculptures” series, in which the frame of the TV is transformed into a camera viewfinder that shows what is directly behind the object. Meanwhile, in another group of signature works entitled “Afterlight,” Nedrelow extracts CMYK inkjet pigments from their commercial cartridges BUHMANN continued on p. 25 TheVillager.com
PHOTO BY REMY
COURTESY NEW OHIO THEATRE
Titania and her Fairy ensemble with Oberon, from Shakespeare in the “The Annotated History of the American Muskrat” plays through July 16, Parking Lot’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” then the Ice Factory Festival continues through Aug. 13.
JUST DO ART continued from p. 23
East Side (aka Shakespeare’s magic forest), all involved must sort through spells, misunderstandings, and subconscious desires. Free. Through July 24, Thurs.– Sun. at 8pm, in the parking lot behind The Clemente (114 Norfolk St., btw. Delancey & Rivington Sts.). Audiences are welcome to bring their own chairs (otherwise, blankets will be provided). Following “Midsummer,” July 28–Aug. 4 sees “The Merchant of Venice” at the same location. For more info, including productions in Bryant Park, visit shakespeareintheparkinglot.com.
NEW OHIO THEATRE’S ICE FACTORY 2016 As brisk and biting as its name implies, this annual summer festival of new work occupies the polar opposite
end of the risk-averse spectrum. Through July 16, “The Annotated History of the American Muskrat” is Foxy Henriques and Circuit Theatre’s music video, dance, PowerPoint, and snack-filled handling of gloriously Hatter-mad Boston-based playwright John Kuntz’s patchwork quilt exploration of our national identity — as told through the struggle of eight people tasked with giving a presentation about the titular native North American rodent. July 20–23, the title of performance ensemble Hook & Eye’s “She-SheShe” references the 1930s women’s forest work camps championed by Eleanor Roosevelt as a response to the Civilian Conservation Corps. “Bear Mountain on a serving platter” (via visual and scenic design by Susan Zeeman Rogers) is the production value promise of this queer women’s love story, which employs the poetry of civil rights activist Pauli Murray to tell its epoch-spanning exploration of gender, memory, and history. July 27–30, live event collective
Piehole’s new collaborative effort sticks the landing in a traditional theater, having launched past productions in hotel rooms and galleries. Taking place in an abandoned ski shop located at the very center of our universe, “Ski End” finds a group of adults swimming in a swirling cosmic cycle of nostalgia, delusion, and every element of the titular sport. Aug. 3–6, Eliza Bent’s Bentertainment production entity furthers the playwright/ author’s penchant for wordplay and philosophy with “On a Clear Day I Can See to Elba” — in which a man and a woman work on their romantic relationship while struggling to retain their own identity. Generous portions of wine, puns, and the music of Queen help the process along. The festival concludes Aug. 10–13, with “Our Voices Project,” from playwright Charles Mee and the multicultural Our Voices theater company. Sign language, music, and dance are deployed to probe the inner life of James Castle — who created over
COURTESY NEW OHIO THEATRE
A pro shop at the center of the universe is the setting for “Ski End,” July 27–30 at New Ohio Theatre’s Ice Factory Festival.
20,000 works of art, despite the fact that he was born deaf and never learned to read, write, sign or speak. Through Aug. 13, at the New Ohio Theatre (154 Christopher St., btw. Washington & Greenwich Sts.). All performances at 7pm. For tickets ($18; $15 for students, seniors), call 866-811-411 or visit newohiotheatre.org.
BUHMANN continued from p. 24
before airbrushing them manually onto his support of choice: freestanding coils of “premium luster” Epson photo paper. These stunning works are characterized by very subtle coloring, which is revealed best when viewed from a distance; when inspected up close, the ink becomes almost imperceptible. Lastly, providing this exhibition with its title, Nedrelow’s “Polyfocal” paintings are made of paper, reconfigured into many conelike shapes, and sprayed with ink from all four sides. No matter how different in appearance, all of Nedrelow’s works exploit their materials’ ability to represent something photographic while denying the use of the photographic processes associated with them. Through July 31 at KANSAS (210 Rivington St., COURTESY THE ARTIST & KANSAS btw. Ridge & Pitt Sts.). Hours: Wed.–Sun., 12–6pm and by appointment. Call 646-559-1423 or visit Installation view of Scott Nedrelow’s “Polyfocal” includes, at right, 2016’s “Viewfinder Sculpture (31 Blue Jay).” kansasgallery.com. TheVillager.com
July 14, 2016
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July 14, 2016
It’s no stretch to say Integral Yoga Institute,
The first Integral Yoga Institute, founded at 500 West End Ave. on the Upper West Side, on Oct. 7, 1966. Ar tist Peter Max, who brought Swami Satchidananda to America, is in the center of the photo in front of the swami.
By Michele Herman
n the occasion of the Integral Yoga Institute’s 50th anniversary this year, I was invited to talk with general manager Chandra/Jo Sgammato — cross-legged on the floor in a yoga studio, of course — and then take her morning class. I had attended a fair number of classes and activities at the institute over the years and shopped in its stores for decades, and thought I already knew the place. Over the course of a wide-ranging conversation with the wonderfully approachable and down-toearth Sgammato, I learned that my local yoga studio is an extremely venerable and influential institution. At a time when the Village is shedding venerable, influential institutions at a rapid rate, IYI is not only thriving on W. 13th St., it’s an international powerhouse with 30 centers on six continents. Basically, IYI was so far ahead of its time when it opened in 1966 that it took the world a long time to catch up. In addition to the health-food store (which in March made room for the apothecary products that used to be in a separate shop across the street) and bookshop, the institute runs more than 100 hatha yoga classes a week. Hatha, by the way, means “hot and cold” and is an umbrella term for most kinds of yoga. “I like to say that we have classic, authentic yoga for every age, body, ability and stage of life,” Sgammato explained. Other programs include meditation instruction, lectures and classes that span ancient practices (kirtan chanting) and modern psychology (yoga-based cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety). The institute also has one of the modern world’s oldest — and most rigorous — yoga teacher training programs. The wellness spa on the sixth floor offers acupuncture, various kinds of massage and healing. Beyond its orange stucco walls in the Village, IYI
July 14, 2016
has teaching centers on every continent except Antarctica, and an ashram called Yogaville on 1,000 acres south of Charlottesville, Virginia. Everything IYI does is based on the teachings of founder Swami Satchidananda (1914-2002). He’s the bearded fellow whose photo you may have seen around the building in the center of IYI’s lotus symbol. The 12 petals represent the major religions of the world coming together peacefully in search of truth. IYI takes its teacher training very seriously. Even after 250 hours of training, prospective teachers have to teach a sample class and demonstrate their readiness and character. What’s more, they are not paid. There are currently about 150 active local IYI teachers, as well as 5,000 around the world. Sgammato stresses the nonprofit aspect of IYI. “We’re not here to get rich,” she said. “Swami used to say, ‘Yoga is free; we just charge something to pay the electric bill.’ ” Classes are $17, with “3 classes for $30” multiclass cards (with no expiration date) for new students. There are discounts for seniors, students and veterans, and a work-exchange program in which volunteers get a free pass for every 90 minutes they put in around the building. The institute offers special classes for veterans, 9/11 first responders, new mothers and the elderly. It is also an official New York City Department of Education vendor. Sgammati is particularly proud of her ongoing work with two local high schools, James Baldwin and City-As-School. “We give the kids lessons on nutrition, getting along, controlling anger,” she said. “We watch the kids transform. Sometimes the most angry and resistant get the most out of it. They begin to understand there are alternatives to lashing out.” Despite the association with New Age mysticism, yoga is founded on hard, irrefutable logic.
“Yoga teaches us that we get scarring because all people are raised by imperfect people, who were raised by imperfect people,” Sgammati explained. “The scars never go away and you can’t change what happened. Yoga teaches you to replace the bad with the good. You have to do it regularly in all earnestness over a long period of time.” What accounts for IYI’s longevity? The institute is built on two strands of great wisdom. The first stretches back orally more than 5,000 years from the swami to his East Indian forebears, who wanted to spend their lives sitting in quiet contemplation, and came up with a system of poses to make all that sitting less uncomfortable. The second piece of wisdom is Western: If you want to last in Manhattan, buy your building. IYI bought the W. 13th St. building in 1970, when the West Village was, to put it politely, a less coveted destination. If you have taken a class in the Rose Studio, one of several in the building, you may have noticed the original Peter Max paintings on the walls. The artist, whose psychedelic work was practically the official logo of the 1960s, was also largely responsible for the founding of the institute. As Sgammato tells the origin story, Max met Swami Satchidananda in Paris through a mutual acquaintance and began studying with him. Before long, Max told the swami he had to come to America. Why? asked the swami. Max replied, “America needs you.” Why? asked the Swami again. Max said, “Because everyone in America is trying to feel the way I feel now, but they’re doing it in the wrong ways.” The swami agreed to come for three days. When he arrived, he said to Max, “So where are all these people who need me?” Max quickly gathered everyone he knew to his Yoga continued on p. 31 TheVillager.com
at five decades, was a bridge to yoga craze YOGA continued from p. 30
Upper West Side apartment. Within a few weeks, hundreds of people were coming. The swami’s visit stretched and led to more visits. In 1969, he gave a talk that filled Carnegie Hall, and then the opening address at Woodstock. The fledgling institute expanded to fill several apartments, at which point the building management said, enough already. Much of the yoga in the U.S. can trace its origins straight back to IYI. “In the ’70s we were one of the only places in the city,” Sgammato said. “We don’t mind taking a little credit for the fact that yoga is everywhere.” The institute’s basic class is still the one created by the swami. “It’s a very specific sequence to oxygenate the organs, stretch and tone and make the joints more flexible,” she explained. “Why do it?” she asked. “The poses are easy to learn and do. The profound benefits far outweigh the difficulty. There’s never any pressure. It’s welcoming and accessible. I can give you a list of 50 other benefits, but the main reason is that you’ll feel good.” Sgammato’s class that morning happened to be in the Rose Studio. I made sure to admire the artwork, and then let the yoga do its work. By the end of the hour, my mind and body were much more comfortable places to inhabit, just as the swamis experienced 5,000 years ago. If that’s not incentive enough to try a class, bring this article with you, and you will get a free class and a 20 percent discount at the food store. For more information on the Integral Yoga Institute, call 212-929-0585 or go to iyiny.org .
Integral Yoga instructor Rashmi Galliano taught one of the seven classes at the annual Solstice in Times Square on June 20 as par t of the yearlong celebration of the institute’s 50th anniversar y.
Student’s art blooms despite chronic condition The following essay was submitted by Mary Grace Bernard, a graduate student at New York University’s Institute of French Studies, as part of her application to the AbbVie CF Scholarship program. AbbVie, a pharmaceutical company, created the program 24 years ago to provide financial assistance to inspirational students pursuing higher education who have been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a condition that causes sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive system. Mary Grace was named AbbVie’s 2015 Thriving Graduate Student, winning a total of $23,000 in educational funding for her perseverance and positive mentality. For more information about the scholarship, visit www.abbviecfscholarship.com.
By Mary Gr ace Bernard
was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 5 years old. Ever since that time, I have dedicated my life to staying healthy and keeping a strong, positive mentality. My daily routine — completing my breathing treatments three times a day, taking more than 40 pills a day, and taking enzymes every time I eat — is the most important aspect of my life. Staying healthy in order to achieve my life’s goals — traveling the world and TheVillager.com
creating art — requires a lot of time and responsibility. However, it is worth the effort. In fact, in order to share with the world the importance of my daily routine, I began a campaign called “The SixtyFive Roses Challenge.” Each day, from Feb. 1 to April 6, 2015, I created an art piece, which usually took me about six hours to complete. That same day, I attempted to sell the artwork for $65 in order to raise awareness for
cystic fibrosis and money for a cure. I was able to raise a little more than $1,500, solely through the challenge. My “sixty-five roses” collection is a graphic, artistic representation of how I live my life with cystic fibrosis. The repeated “sixty-five roses” phrase imitates
my daily breathing treatment and medication routine. The designs created by the phrase signify my ever-reaching desire for perfection. However, when viewed closely, each piece reveals multiple flaws, and thus human imperfection and the imperfect human body. July 14, 2016
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