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

July 21, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 29





Lowline is riding high after city gives qualified O.K. to underground park BY COLIN MIXSON


alk about low-hanging fruit! The city’s Economic Development Corporation gave its tacit blessing for the start of preliminary work on what’s been billed as the “world’s first underground park” on the Lower East Side. The proposed Lowline park would utilize cutting-edge so-

lar technology to transform the vacant Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal into a verdant underground paradise, complete with plants, grass and trees, according to the project’s co-founder. The old terminal is currently owned by the city and leased to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. It is roughly 60,000 square feet and runs LOWLINE continued on p. 4

Credit union and tenants crunch numbers and try for a compromise on B PHOTO BY JOHN PENLEY



t long last, two boards are coming together to solve the financial woes of an East Village building and settle a dispute dating to 1996. For two decades, the Housing Development Fund Corporation that manages 37 Avenue B has lacked sufficient income

to pay property taxes and repair the building, which, according to tenants, is “literally falling apart.” On Sat., May 14, the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union, the building’s ground-floor tenant, held a celebration of its 30th anniversary. As they were doing so, building CREDIT UNION continued on p. 8

Anti-Trump protesters at the star t of a march on Monday ser ved up a “capitalist pig” Trump on a platter.

Trump, Rage . . . and fear and loathing in Cleveland BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


wo well-known East Village activists — one of them who albeit no longer lives in New York City — were, not surprisingly, in the thick of the protests at this week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland. John Penley, who now lives in North Carolina, led the effort to secure a campout area for protesters at Kirtland Park — which is, admittedly, far away from the convention

site, but at least they got it. It wasn’t clear if they would obtain the permit, though, until the week before the convention, when the city finally issued them one. In the event they didn’t get a permit, Penley and his allies had been ready with a Plan B — to rent buses and have roving protests. Last Wednesday, after it was announced they would get Kirtland Park, the veteran activist told Fox 8 Cleveland he was worried that anti-Trump

and pro-Trump demonstrators were going to be allowed to stay in the same campsite, which he feared would be a recipe for trouble. “One of the prime reasons that I’m afraid is this group Bikers for Trump has made public statements that they’re coming to Cleveland to be some kind of backup for the Cleveland Police Department,” Penley told the TV station. “And I’m worried that they may be camping there. It’s just such a potenR.N.C. continued on p. 6

Basquiat home gets historic plaque.................p. 10 Arrest in vicious 14th St. assault on senior......p. 12 Hookers ‘n’ burgers .............. p. 15


Don’t make him angry: Oops...too late! The Incredible Hulk — a.k.a. nuclear physicist Bruce Banner after an adrenaline rush — was in Tompkins Square Park last Saturday. Why?... Why not? Political palaver: In the primary race for the 65th Assembly District, Paul Newell announced last week that Councilmember Rosie Mendez has endorsed him in his bid to win fallen former Speaker Sheldon Silver’s old Lower Manhattan seat. Alice Cancel has been the assemblymember since taking a special election in April. Mendez, though, didn’t back Newell in the run-up to the Democratic County Committee vote in February — which picked the Democratic nominee for the special election — but backed Cancel. Cancel, in turn, went on to beat Lester Chang and Yuh-Line Niou, running on the G.O.P. and Working Families Party lines, respectively, in the special election. So what exactly made Mendez flip? It’s simple, she told us: Her political organization, Coalition for a District Alternative, has endorsed Newell in the special election, and, well, she dutifully towed the political club line. Councilmember Margaret Chin is no longer backing Cancel, either, having switched her support to Gigi Li, the former Community Board 3 chairperson who is also running in the crowded field for the 65th A.D. Chin did not publicly endorse Cancel last time until April, however — in other words, after the County Committee had already picked Cancel as the Democratic nominee, at which point, Li was no longer in the running — at least not for that election. For his part, John Quinn, Cancel’s husband, shrugged off losing Mendez’s support, saying they had understood all along that she would switch her allegiance once CoDA went for Newell. Cancel is definitely running for re-election in September, he assured, adding that they will be rolling out some endorsements of their own soon, including a prominent Bronx Latina pol who Cancel has been close to for years. Meanwhile, Newell proclaimed in a press release that he is the “clear front-runner,” having raised more money, $92,000, than



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

July 21, 2016

Photo by Gerard Flynn

Nice Hulk! A not-so-angr y Hulk.

any of the other candidates. Unruffled, Quinn said they think Cancel has a good chance of holding onto her seat. “This is a grassroots campaign,” he said, noting his wife is known for going to court with residents to help them fight evictions and working with local youth to put them on the right path. She’s hardly known for prodigious fundraising, though, so it will be interesting to see if her grassroots support will pull her through to victory. Quinn, who was busy helping out his wife in Albany before the session ended last month, is not running for re-election as Democratic state committeeman.

Purple pain: The Villager recently exclusively reported that the cause of death of Lower East Side hairdresser Loren Kirby and an East Village friend, Julio Fabian, in March was due to acute intoxication from a mix of substances, including the highly potent fentanyl. The report failed to note, however, that in June, it was determined that the dangerous opioid was also found to be the cause of rock musician Prince’s death. It’s thought that Prince may have become addicted to the substance, which is exponentially more powerful than morphine. Not seeing the lights: Developer Bill Rudin, as part of his Greenwich Lane luxury condos project on the former St. Vincent’s Hospital site, agreed to pay for the installation of vintage-style bishop’s crook street lampposts on both W. 11th and W. 12th Sts., former Councilmember Carol Greitzer tells us. Rudin was going to give $100,000 for the project, said Greitzer, who lives on W. 12th St. “At first, the Department of Transportation turned it down, but Borough President Gale Brewer got them to agree...months ago,” Greitzer said. “But nothing has happened. The city is still looking for a ‘creative’ way to accept money.” Hey, guys — c’mon, let’s get those creative juices flowing and work it out already!

Photo by Gerard Flynn

The Incredible Hulk in Tompkins Square Park for some reason. TheVillager.com

Photo by The Villager

1 mosaic pole in position


ne of Jim Power’s mosaic-encrusted light poles has been returned to its former spot where it used to stand at Astor Place. However, the actual street is no longer there — at least a short, one-block stretch of it — having been replaced by a new, expanded plaza. For now, the “Mosaic Man”’s pole is covered up in a padded blanket. It will be unveiled — hopefully, with up to six more of the decorated lampposts — at the three-day opening celebration for the Astor Place / Cooper Square renovation project during Sept. 15-17. Yet, Power conceded that not all of the iconic artworks will be finished and put back in place by then. He said he’s not sure when they will all be done, but it probably won’t be long after the opening celebrations. He’s currently sprucing them up at the East Village’s Sixth St. Community Center. TheVillager.com

July 21, 2016


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July 21, 2016

Courtesy NYC Economic Development Corporation

A rendering of the Lowline underground park, with sunlight that is directed down into it by fiber-optic cables and then reflected around the space.

Lowline on a high after it gets qualified O.K. Lowline continued from p.1

underneath Delancey St. between Clinton and Norfolk Sts. “We couldn’t be more thrilled for this opportunity to turn a magical dream into reality,” said Dan Barasch, cofounder of the Lowline. The Lowline would take advantage of custom-made solar technology to illuminate the subterranean garden, and provide plants with the solar juice they require to perform photosynthesis. The underground tech would be powered by remote-controlled solar collections disks located topside, which could be adjusted to follow the sun’s path throughout the year. The solar light would then be funneled down into the space along fiberoptic cables, before being reflected off of subterranean domes onto park patrons and the underground green stuff below. Being underground, the Lowline would be shielded from seasonal weather conditions, and would provide an allyear attraction for locals and tourists,

according to Councilmember Margaret Chin. “From the beginning, the Lowline has been about transforming an abandoned space by literally shining the light of day to create a lush and verdant center of science, technological innovation and learning,” Chin said. Last fall, E.D.C., in collaboration with the M.T.A., issued a Request for Expressions of Interest, or R.F.E.I., seeking ideas for activating the space and offering a long-term lease. The city ultimately gave its nod to the Lowline proposal, which was certainly the most widely known plan for the space. However, Bowery Boogie reported that, in fact, there actually were no responses to the R.F.E.I. other than the Lowline plan. Some local activists, including housing advocate Damaris Reyes of GOLES (Good Old Lower East Side) had called for a more robust process in finding a use for the space. However, the approval is only “conditional,” and requires the Lowline team to overcome several planning and fiscal hurdles before moving forward.

Among other things, the team must formulate and implement a communityengagement plan, which must include five to 10 public design charrettes and quarterly “community engagement committee” meetings. The city is also requiring the Lowline group to raise $10 million and provide schematic designs for approval, both within 12 months. Currently, there are no plans for the park — which would be free and open to the public — to receive consistent government funding. Before receiving E.D.C.’s approval, the project was endorsed by Community Board 3 in a resolution that praised the designers’ technical innovation. “For over a century, the Lower East Side has been at the crossroads of innovation and community engagement,” said Jamie Rogers, the board’s new chairperson last week. “In its June 2012 resolution, C.B. 3 supported converting the Williamsburg trolley terminal space into the Lowline park, a 21st-century amenity that serves our community.” The Lowline team hopes to open their park the public in 2021. TheVillager.com





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Trump, Rage and fear and loathing in Cleveland; R.N.C. continued from p.1

tially dangerous situation.” However, in a phone interview with The Villager this Tuesday, on the convention’s second day, Penley said things generally had been going fine between the two opposing camps at the campsite. “There’s a lot of people here — a duck soup of people,” he said. Rather than the pro-Trump bikers, he said, the Republican presidential candidate’s supporters who were there were “more militia types.” Yet, right at the moment when the newspaper called, Penley was in the middle of a chaotic situation in Public Square, near the Quicken Loans Arena. Radio host Alex Jones had burst in, trying to stir things up with anti-Trump protesters. Jones calls himself a libertarian but has been dubbed a right-wing conservative by the mainstream media. Police were clearing the area. “I gotta stop [talking], I’m being pushed around by the cops,” Penley said, ending the call. Speaking a few hours later, his voice hoarse from so much talking, Penley explained what had happened. “They closed the official free-speech zone down for three hours because Alex Jones came with this bullhorn and bodyguards and tried to incite a riot,” he said. “He started with a lot of inflammatory comments about immigrants, Black Lives Matters, communists — George Soros was paying all the protesters — his usual rhetoric. He had a bullhorn, he was really loud.” Penley was then back at the campsite, where he was helping Seth Tobocman, his former East Village roommate, paint a protest banner “for the occupation.” Penley participated in Occupy Wall Street back in 2011 in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, and the Occupy ethos was in evidence at this week’s convention protest. “We just had a general assembly with about 40 people with the ‘people’s microphone,’ ” he said. He was, of course, referring to the trademark Occupy mode of amplifying speakers’ remarks, where waves of audience members relay short phrases the speaker has uttered, so that everyone can hear the message. “Cleveland put us in the worst park — we’re far away from everything,” Penley noted, quipping, “We’re camped out with a family of skunks. On a positive note, he added, “We just ordered $100 worth of pizza. Someone donated $100.” Meanwhile, there were about a half dozen Trump supporters in the camp. No one was causing any problems, though. “They’re hanging out,” Penley said of the other side. “They’re in their tent drinking a case of beer.” The activist came out to Cleveland four days before the convention’s start, and organized one of Monday’s rallies. Tuesday was his first night sleeping in the camp. He planned to spend it under a tarp in a sleeping bag. Friday saw protesters stage an anti-police brutality march. Monday featured an “End Poverty Now” march that started in East Cleveland and ended at an open lot where Tom Morello and Prophets of Rage — three of the four remaining members of Rage Against the Machine — played a rousing set. Morello sported a “Make America Rage Again” red baseball cap, an ironic riff on Trump’s signature headwear.


July 21, 2016

Photos by John Penley

Communists and Black LIves Matter suppor ters found common cause during a protest march.

A Trump suppor ter touted — or rather, tooted — his candidate.

Suppor ting a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body.

“One of the best concerts of my life,” Penley said. Morello also later played acoustic at a local art space, wielding a guitar with the words “Black Spartacus” on it. Other rallies had included one called “Stand Together Against Trump” and another featuring Cleveland doctors and nurses in solidarity with local Muslim doctors and nurses. Contributing to his hoarseness, Penley had been busy giving interviews to an array of media, including the likes of Al Jazeera and Voice of America. “We’re being circled by helicopters right now,” he noted. Later Tuesday evening, in another phone in-

terview, Tobocman, a radical comic book artist, gave his take on the events that far. Tobocman is a founder of the comic anthology World War III illustrated, and has penned graphic novels about the 1980s East Village squatters scene, 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, among others. As he spoke, he was sketching the encampment and “getting people’s stories.” He was part of a group called Comixcast, 13 comic book artists and cartoonists who were doing drawings of the R.N.C. and the protests, which they were then posting to the Web. Like Penley, he said the protests had been peaceful, except for the one instance where Alex Jones tried to R.N.C. continued on p.7 TheVillager.com

E.V. activists represent at the R.N.C.-palooza

Some of the Cleveland police were on bikes and wore football-like body armor. They lined the protesters’ route. Demonstrators said Donald Trump’s vision of America is inherently racist.

A mash-up of Code Pink, the Trump “capitalist pig,” Black Lives Matter and more as Monday’s protest wended toward the R.N.C. venue. R.N.C. continued from p.6

act as a “provocateur” and incite the antiTrump crowd. “Fears of physical confrontation have been overblown,” he said. Tobocman said he was particularly moved by Monday’s End Poverty Now march, which had kicked off in the most downtrodden section of Cleveland, which is one of America’s poorest big cities. “This city has had three police shootings in the last year,” he noted, “and in all of them, the police were acquitted.” Asked why he felt it was particularly important to protest at this R.N.C., Tobocman said, in a word — Trump. “I think Trump brings up a lot of issues, doesn’t he?” he said. “Because I think Trump represents the real appearance of fascism on the American scene. He legitimizes a lot of things that were not seen as acceptable. He legitimizes a very fascist, racist discourse. “He’s a fascist, he’s a nazi — and he’s the nominee of one of our two major parties,” Tobocman said, bluntly. “So if you’re not against this, I don’t know what you’re against.” The artist said he and Penley will also both be attending the upcoming DemoTheVillager.com

cratic National Convention in Philadelphia, from Mon., July 25, to Thurs., July 28. Asked if he plans to vote for Hillary Clinton, Tobocman said he could not answer that right now. “I’m going to wait and see what happens at the D.N.C. before I say who I’m going to vote for,” he said. On second thought, he added that he’s a bit uncomfortable with the noting of having to reveal who he might support, noting, “This is supposed to be a secret process that happens inside the voting booth.” Yet, he did offer that he’s not happy with the limited choices. “Every four years, I get to choose between fascism and capitalism,” he said, with exasperation. “I am against having a country that’s run by the rich and the military industrial complex and throws people in the street. That’s what you get if you vote for Hillary. But if you vote for Trump...it’s even worse. “He’s essentially saying we’re going to have no Muslims in this country. How do we do that? … We’ve seen that before.”

Tom Morello and the Prophets of Rage rocked out and raged against The Donald.

Former East Village activist John Penley advocated for love over hate. He also secured a campsite for the protesters and organized a rally.

July 21, 2016


Credit union and tenants try to see

photo By Stacie Joy

Tenants of 37 Avenue B — some holding photos of decrepit conditions inside — protested in May as the L.E.S. People’s Federal Credit Union threw its 30th anniversary celebration. credit Union continued from p. 1






July 21, 2016



residents held banners and protested on the sidewalk outside, charging that credit union has not paid its “fair share” of rent. Lisa Kaplan, an L.E.S.P.F.C.U. board member and former Community Board 3 chairperson, subsequently reached out to the H.D.F.C., whose members responded that they would be open to negotiations, which were set to start this month. The H.D.F.C. is also headed by a board, and is a low-income housing cooperative. Earlier this year, however, all credit union representatives were purged from the H.D.F.C. board in an act of defiance by the co-op. The co-op’s corporation has six residential tenants — five tenants are rent-stabilized and one is rent-controlled. L.E.S.P.F.C.U. is considered a commercial tenant under the current lease, and has operated in the building since 1986. The H.D.F.C.’s anger toward the credit union stems from amendments to the original lease that were drawn up by L.E.S.F.P.C.U. members and agreed upon in 1996. These amendments restricted raises of the credit union’s rent to 4 percent annually, and removed provisions making the credit union liable for increased property taxes on the building or payments on its mortgage. Councilmember Rosie Mendez, who was on the credit union board for a period of time after the lease was signed,

said that the agreement helped keep the credit union afloat since it was “operating in the red.” However, she now hopes that the building can come to a resolution. “What I would love to see is the building to be financially viable,” she said. However, others are criticizing the credit union for creating a selfish lease agreement that is ruining the building’s finances. Frank Macken, a former credit union board member, slammed the credit union in a scathing talking point published in The Villager this past April. “The People’s Mutual Housing Association management bookkeeper calculates the difference between the terms of the original lease and the amendment of 1996 at nearly $400,000 that the credit union has saved itself over 20 years, while gutting the building’s finances and running it into the ground,” Macken wrote. The Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Association is a nonprofit, low-income property management and development organization that oversees the H.D.F.C.’s activities, and administers a number of other buildings in the neighborhood. Some of its members live in 37 Avenue B. For a period of time, the M.H.A. sublet 1,000 square feet of the credit union’s space. It now has offices across the street. The building is accumulating debt due to its issues with structural damages and taxes, with an annual deficit of around $18,000. L.E.S.P.M.H.A Chairperson Herman Hewitt said the building owes the M.H.A. nearly $60,000. “I agree with the tenants, in that the credit union is not paying enough rent,” Hewitt stated. “The lease should be shorter and it should be updated every five years or so.” However, Hewitt warned that if the credit union decides to leave the building, the credit union simply “will not survive.” “A lot of things he said in that editorial were actually incorrect,” Deyanira Del Rio, chairperson of the L.E.S.P.F.C.U. board said, at the start of her rebuttal of Macken’s talking point. According to Del Rio, who is an unpaid volunteer, the credit union is a benevolent financial co-operative. She said its annual budget is about $3.4 million, a far cry from the $41 million that Macken alleged. She pointed out that Macken confused their budget with its assets, currently valued at $45 million, which are mostly loans and investments made in the community. Macken also wrote that the bank’s net income in 2013 was $1.41 million, but Del Rio estimates it at about a quarter of that, after factoring in grants that the organization received. The annual report for L.E.S.P.F.C.U. in 2013 states Credit Union continued on p. 9 TheVillager.com

eye to eye as building is suffering Credit Union continued from p. 8

the institution closed the fiscal year with a net income of $525,390, attributing its growth to grants from the U.S. Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund. “We’re not swimming in cash, and I don’t think the tenants believe that,” Del Rio said. “We’re always operating at a small deficit.” However, Macken retorted, “Crying poverty while exploiting rent-stabilized tenants is hypocritical.” The credit union’s total employee compensation in 2015 was nearly $1.6 million. About 25 percent of that total was for health insurance and benefits. This figure covers 24 full-time and four part-time employees, making the average yearly compensation for a paid credit union worker $57,000. By definition, every person with a credit union account is a shareholder, and many of its members are volunteers at the organization, serving on various supervisory committees. L.E.S.P.F.C.U. currently has 8,179 members and three branches. When asked what L.E.S.P.F.C.U. hopes to achieve in the upcoming negotiations, Del Rio stated that it has the building’s financial interests at heart, but believes fixing the building is a shared responsibility. The credit union is proposing rent increases on the residential tenants as well as L.E.S.P.F.C.U., but rejects tenants’ demands that the credit union pay the full cost of helping the building. Another proposed solution is to negotiate with city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development for a lower property tax rate. However, Macken argued, “The H.D.F.C.’s financial problems are solely due to the artificially low rent that

the C.U. engineered for itself 20 years ago. The residents are all rent-stabilized and rent-controlled, while the L.E.S.P.F.C.U. is by now quite a large federal credit union.” According to its C.E.O., Linda Levy, the credit union currently pays a monthly rent of $3,479. But Macken says the market rate for the 5,000-square-foot space should be $15,000. The 1,000 square feet of this space that was previously sublet to the M.H.A. is now being used by L.E.S.P.F.C.U. According to its board chairperson Del Rio, the credit union has offered to split revenue with the H.D.F.C. from subletting the space. However, this process is on hold until later this year. “It’s hard to find a tenant,” Del Rio explained. “It has to be a very known quantity, because it has to share space with the credit union. There are security issues,” she noted. In addition, Del Rio said that the credit union offered to issue a loan to the 37 Avenue B board in order to fix a broken boiler. While both sides acknowledge the complexity of their quandary, they are united in their wish to unravel it. “We are now purely focused on resolving the financial issues in the building and moving on,” Macken declared. However, Macken was adamant that if the negotiations fail to end in a successful agreement, the aggrieved tenants will not hesitate to “hit the streets again” with more protests. Both parties are eager to resolve this dispute amicably by restoring the building’s economic security. It remains to be seen whether L.E.S.P.F.C.U. will forgo the significant savings of its 1996 lease agreement and pay a rent closer to the market rate.

D’Ag denies sale rumors By Michele Herman


went into D’Agostino on Bethune St. this week to see how the shelves are looking. They were the emptiest I’ve seen them so far, with whole aisles bare. In June, online sources reported that D’Ag was planning to sell its remaining Manhattan stores, possibly to Key Foods, which owns Food Emporium. So I decided to call Councilmember Corey Johnson’s office and urge him to do what he can to ensure that the space remains a supermarket of one sort or another. I got Patrice Comerford, a staff member, on the phone. She got right in touch with D’Agostino’s management. Here is their surprising reply: “While we are currently facing some considerable challenges driven by a significant downturn in the market (according to IRI data, supermarket spending in Manhattan has declined 3.6 percent in the past year) and some other challenges that do pose a threat to our business, we are vigorously doing everything necessary to ensure that our company remains a fixture in Manhattan’s supermarket landscape for generations to come. Our current store conditions, most notably many bare shelves, are being corrected as quickly as possible, and TheVillager.com

we anticipate significant improvement within the next few weeks. “In addition to the obviously distressing condition of our store inventory, several unfounded rumours initiated by an irresponsible article in the Post have contributed to speculation that we are going out of business, seeking a buyer or selling some or all of our stores. These rumours are wholly false. We are not closing our company. We have not and do not plan to have any discussions with anyone regarding the sale of any or all of our stores. “We recognize that the current conditions in our stores are disturbing to our customers, as they are to us. We assure you that we are taking very aggressive actions to correct this situation as quickly as possible.” In addition, longtime Villager reader Pamela La Bonne called the paper on Monday to report: “I was in the D’Agostino today. Ron, the manager, was telling someone that they expect a huge shipment in August. So, I guess they’re not planning to close the place.”

With reporting by Lincoln Anderson

Photo by Stacie Joy

A tenant of 37 Avenue B who hopes her young child will be able to grow up in a financially stable building that is in good repair.


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Photos by Tequila Minsky

Two Boots’ Phil Har tman, center, with poet Greg Masters, left, and Michael Holman.

Poet Chauvet Bishop gave a reading at the unveiling.

Basquiat’s former Noho loft gets memorial plaque By Michael Ossorguine


ean-Michel Basquiat went from humble beginnings as a graffitist on the Lower East Side to a prominent figure in pop culture. Last Wednesday, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and the Two Boots Pizza Foundation installed a plaque outside the studio where Basquiat lived to remind the Village of the artist’s legacy. Early on the evening of July 13, a crowd of artists, activists and fans, along with curious bystanders, gathered outside the small, two-story loft at 57 Great Jones St. where the painter and musician lived for five years in the 1980s until dying in 1988 of a heroin overdose. Among the speakers was Michael Holman, who met Basquiat at his famous Canal Zone Party in 1979, and went on to create the experimental rock band Gray with him. “What is really special is this, this grassroots recognition of an artist,” Holman said. “By the way, if this were Paris, they wouldn’t have been able to put a restaurant in his space. But you

know, this is America. The holy dollar is number one, and Jean played on those ideas.” Other speakers included the poet Greg Masters, Two Boots owner Phil Hartman and Ayanna Legros, cofounder of the Basquiat: Still Fly @ 55 project. Hartman spoke first, reminiscing about the days when Basquiat frequented the Great Jones Cafe across the street, which Hartman founded in 1983. Basquiat, he said, was a “product of the neighborhood.” When Basquiat was living in the studio, it was owned by Andy Warhol, who was an inspiration and teacher to him, as well as a friend. The building is now owned by Robert Von Ancken, who rents out the space, but also wants to preserve its historical significance. The installation was part of G.V.S.H.P.’s historic plaque program. The organization believes this latest plaque is significant not only because of Basquiat’s fame, but also the artist’s roots and the political themes of his canvasses. “One cannot think of Basquiat without also thinking of Downtown and all

Ayanna Legros, of the Basquiat: Still Fly @ 55 project, also spoke.


July 21, 2016

that the neighborhood fed his imagination,” Andrew Berman, G.V.S.H.P. executive director, said in a press release. Basquiat’s canvasses were abstract works that often overtly touched on sensitive subjects in a poetic and powerful way. “He would not call his work political,” said Lannyl Stephens, G.V.S.H.P. director of development and special events. “But through all of his unique language and imagery, we are confronted with continuing issues of our time: race, class, appropriation, capitalism, and how to be an artist, how to be a human in this world. He was born in Brooklyn — but, mostly, he was a New Yorker.” The plaque’s text reads: “From 1983 to 1988 renowned artist Jean-Michel Basquiat lived and worked here, a former stable owned by friend and mentor Andy Warhol. Basquiat’s paintings and other work challenged established notions of high and low art, race and class, while forging a visionary language that defied characterization.” Over the years, Basquiat and his art have become ubiquitous. Exhibitions of his paintings have been displayed in the

Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum and the Gagosian Art Gallery in Chelsea. But the extent of his influence does not stop there. Uniqlo, the clothing store with locations Downtown, has had several clothing lines featuring iconic images from his most famous works. And household names that collect his art include Madonna, Jay-Z and Leonardo Di Caprio. The artist is also referenced in countless hip-hop songs by notable New York M.C.’s, such as Jay-Z, A$AP Rocky and Mos Def. Basquiat was, in fact, well acquainted with fashionable musicians of the ’80s including rappers. While Basquiat’s artwork has generated billions of dollars over the years, Holman said the most important thing is to remember him as a visionary and a unifier of the youth. “I know how much this would have meant to him,” Holman said. “To see this many young black teenagers and kids of color, and kids of all colors lionizing him, and making him into a hero, and wearing his T-shirts. He was an alchemist, and what he was basically saying was, ‘You can be an alchemist, too.’ ”

The plaque unveiled outside Basquiat’s former Great Jones St. home. TheVillager.com


SAFETY NOT JUST DRIVERS’ RESPONSIBILITY Safety should be a top priority for everyone sharing the road, including cyclists, drivers and pedestrians. The following are a few tips each of those groups of travelers can employ to ensure the roads stay safe for everyone.


sÂŹ "ICYCLISTSÂŹ MUSTÂŹ FOLLOWÂŹ THEÂŹ same trafďŹ c rules as automobile drivers. Stop for red lights and stop signs, signal lane changes or turns, and


drive on the correct side of the road. sÂŹ7ATCHÂŹOUTÂŹFORÂŹPARKEDÂŹCARSÂŹ Oftentimes, drivers exit their vehicles and do not CHECKÂŹ FORÂŹ ONCOMINGÂŹ TRAFlCÂŹ or cyclists. You can be hit by a swinging car door. sÂŹ -AKEÂŹ YOURSELFÂŹ ASÂŹ NOTICEable as possible. This could include using a light or HORNÂŹ ONÂŹ THEÂŹ BIKEÂŹ TOÂŹ SIGNALÂŹ your presence to drivers. sÂŹ !LWAYSÂŹ WEARÂŹ AÂŹ HELMETÂŹ and other applicable safety equipment.

s-AINTAINYOURBIKESOTHAT it is safe to ride. s$ONOTCARRYOTHERSONYOUR BIKE SUCH AS A FRIEND OR A child) if it is not designed to do so. Riding on the handlebars or behind the cyclist can be dangerous. s !VOID THE USE OF EAR BUDS or headphones while cycling. You want all of your senses to be available to avoid accidents. s#YCLEOUTOFTHEWAYOFDRIVers’ blind spots so you’ll be more visible.




WALKINGÂŹONÂŹAÂŹLEASH ÂŹSOÂŹYOUREÂŹ not pulled out into trafďŹ c. sÂŹ 5SEÂŹ CAUTIONÂŹ ATÂŹ BUSÂŹ STOPSÂŹ -ANYÂŹ INJURIESÂŹ OCCURÂŹ FROMÂŹ pedestrians running to catch a bus or stepping out into trafďŹ c after exiting a bus. Remember, there will be another bus behind the one you’re chasing and safety is more important. sÂŹ 7EARÂŹ BRIGHTLYÂŹ COLOREDÂŹ ORÂŹ REmECTIVEÂŹ CLOTHINGÂŹ IFÂŹ WALKing at night. sÂŹ $OÂŹ NOTÂŹ CROSSÂŹ HIGHWAYSÂŹ ORÂŹ interstates on foot.

July 21, 2016


Police Blotter Senior-beat busts

Last Thursday evening, police announced the arrest of two young people from Chicago in a violent attack on 75-year-old man on W. 14th St. the day before.

victim suffered a laceration to the head and was removed to Lenox Hill Hospital in stable condition. CBS News interviewed the visibly bruised and battered victim, Ahmad Ahmad, a Brooklyn grandfather who had just finished shopping on W. 14th St. when the attack occurred. CBS did not mention anything about the man’s phone being stolen, however. Coleman was charged with two counts of assault, and Crusade with one count of grand larceny for stealing the cell phone.

Police collared Deangelo Coleman, 20, and Brianna Crusade, 19, on Thurs., July 14, around 8 p.m. for shoplifting in the K-Mart on W. 34th St. near Penn Station. A police spokesperson said the Windy City pair are homeless and have been in New York City for a few months. According to police, around 2:12 Police said that on Sat., July 16, p.m. on July 13, in front of the Salvaaround 4:40 p.m., around Pitt and tion Army, at 120 W. 14th St., Coleman Delancey Sts., an unidentified male shot — sporting a distinctive red streak in a 20-year-old male once in the right leg. his hair — came up from behind and An unidentified female was reportedly punched the senior in the back of the with the shooter. head, knocking him to the ground. He The two individuals fled eastbound then kicked the victim in the face mulon Rivington St. The victim was retiple times, knocking him out. moved to Bellevue Hospital and was Before the attack, police said, Crusade treated and released. approached the senior and grabbed his The shooter and female sidekick are cell phone out of his pants pocket. Durboth described as black and around ing the beatdown, Crusade reportedly age 20. The man is 5 feet 6 inches and then stood by as a lookout. The incident 145 pounds, last seen wearing a navy was captured on a Salvation Army surbaseball cap, white tank top and dark veillance camera. shorts. &'(() The suspects fled east on 14th St. The The woman was last seen wearing

L.E.S. shooting

a gray tank top, blue jeans and black sneakers, sporting a large stomach tattoo and holding a bike. 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.

Punchy pedestrian A man allegedly attacked a police officer in front of 45 University Place early Monday morning last week, according to police. On July 11 at 4:15 a.m., an officer was told by a woman that a man was walking around attempting to punch people. When the officer attempted to stop and question the man, the man punched him in the face, causing pain in his jaw. After the puncher was arrested and brought to the precinct, he allegedly socked another officer. Police arrested Jamal Clay, 21, for felony assault.

Tints were the hint A cop noticed a suspicious vehicle last Friday night July 15 around 11 p.m. in front of 534 LaGuardia Place. What caught the officer’s eye about the 2012

blue BMW was its excessive window tints. The lawman tried to stop the vehicle, but the driver fled and proceeded through a steady red light. The officer was able to stop the vehicle, and its occupant was found to be in possession of marijuana and four “forged instruments.� Upon a search, the officer found an additional two forged instruments. It wasn’t immediately clear if the illicit items were, for example, fake ID’s or fraudulent credit cards. Jermaine Smith, 22, was arrested for felony criminal possession of a forged instrument.

iPhone trackers Two women eating inside Bagatelle, at 1 Little W. 12th St., last weekend had their possessions swiped from under their noses. At around 3:15 p.m. Sun., July 17, the women noticed their property was gone. They used the Find My iPhone application and found a woman in possession of their property at W. 28th St. and 10th Ave., according to police. The woman stole a total of $1,425 worth of property, all of which was recovered, police said. Nicole Tenhagan, 23, was arrested for felony grand larceny.

Emily Siegel and LincolnAnderson



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July 21, 2016

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Pokemon Go app-solutely isn’t a danger, but a savior



By Lenore Skenazy


y now even if you have not yet played Pokemon Go, you are more aware of it than your own breathing. You have read that the app has been more downloaded than any other app, ever, and that it has actually convinced kids to leave the house to go play outside — a miracle! But you have probably also heard about the player who stumbled upon a dead body, and the two guys who walked off a cliff (but lived), and the 15-year-old who didn’t look up and got hit by a car. (She’s alive, too.) And then there were those four guys arrested in a black BMW somewhere in Missouri for waiting in a secluded area and robbing the Pokemon players who stopped by. So if you are part of the vast web of Very Concerned Adults whose life’s purpose seems to be dreaming up terrible things that can happen to kids anytime they venture beyond the kitchen, you can relax. You’ve got your stranger-danger stories. Phew! Now you can remind us that anytime people are headed outside, especially kids, they had better think long and hard first. Following this incredibly predictable script, a bunch of our local television stations are solemnly warning us about scenarios they have made up in their heads: Reports CBS New York, “There are worries that sex offenders might use the app to lure children.� And, says NBC New York, the app “could potentially put young people at risk.� Note to news editors: Worries are not the same as “realities.� What’s more, pretty much anything can “potentially� put young people at risk, including eating dinner (they could choke!), playing baseball (they could get hit by a bat!) and attending school (what if they fall off the stage during a production of “Annie�?). As delightful as Pokemon Go is to play — I love it and I’ve never played video games (or whatever this is) before — it almost seems to be more exciting to the authorities who can spit out a new set of warnings faster than you can say, “airtime.� And so all the way across the country, the San Francisco Police Department took it upon itself to tell moms and dads that they should “know where your kids are going when playing with the app� and “set limits� — as if parents couldn’t possibly figure this out for themselves. As if this whole “kids going outside� thing is just so new and crazy. The ’Frisco Fear-mongers also published this Pokemon Go Safety Tip: “Know your surroundings and pay attention to where you’re going and who is around you. Slow

car paralleling a person on foot might be a sign it’s a getaway car.� Um, yeah. Except that with literally 15 million people playing this game across the entire country for the past week, we have that one BMW in Missouri to point to as an actual menace. Meantime, over in England, which you’d think has bigger problems to freak out about, the authorities are warning that the app could be used to make children “easily accessible to criminals� — and they don’t even have the game there yet! It is almost like there’s a parallel universe out there: Game players get points for finding Pokemon, and the warning class gets points for dreaming up Hollywood horror movie plots. But the warners also get massive publicity, because nothings sells like kids in peril — even if they aren’t in peril. (Can I remind us all here that stranger danger is the least likely of crimes?) So the other morning I was walking around my bustling neighborhood, Jackson Heights, when I saw one mom showing another mom the app. The explainer had her 10-year-old son with her. “Can he go out on his own to play?� I (a stranger!) asked. “Oh no, no, no,� she said, as if I’d queried, “Would you bathe your child in acid?� The other mom agreed: No way. “What age do you think you’ll let them play on their own?� Answered Mom #1, grimly laughing: “28.� The Pokemon game is so fun, so simple, so shareable, it is as if the company invented the 21st-century equivalent of the ball — a toy kids can play with on their own, or in a group, or when they’re walking down the street. But the ball came of age before the warning industry, indeed before the dawn of history, so kids simply got to go outside and play with it. Imagine that. Skenazy is author and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids,� and a contributor at Reason.com

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 >LZ[YK:[YLL[ŕ Ž  ŕ Ž[LRZLY]LJVT July 21, 2016


Illustrations by Seth Tobocman

Ink pens and protest pens: Scenes from the R.N.C. Seth Tobocman, the East Village radical comic book artist, was at the Republican National Convention in his native Cleveland, where he documented the goings-on in sketches, then put them out on the Web as part of the Comixcast protest group. At left is a drawing of Freedom Plaza, which had nothing to do with free speech, but was where convention-goers could guzzle beer, grab cheeseburgers and listen to live bands. At right is Tobocman’s depiction of an anti-police brutality rally that he attended outside the R.N.C. last Friday.

Letters to the Editor Power to the poles! To The Editor: “ ‘Mosaic Man’ is getting back into pole position” (news article, July 7): It’s great that this original, legendary icon of the L.E.S. is getting some respect. While “Uptown” art sells for millions of dollars, this bottom-up style art is appreciated by millions of viewers. Thanks for the update. It’s gratifying to know that the efforts of the community are being recognized and that the work of Jim Power will continue to represent the authentic, renegade spirit of Downtown. Jeff Wright

Predicts pain on Jane To The Editor: Re “That’s more like it! L.P.C. slams Jane towers plan; ‘Doesn’t fit’ historic district” (news article, July 14): I’m concerned that this “victory” bodes ill for the other garage, at 11 Jane St., which fits seamlessly into the context of the block now and should be preserved. But the building was sold and a design proposed by a famous architect, so I predict that the trade-off is that “my” garage will be sacrificed to development. It would be a mistake on so many levels, never mind the new building that would ultimately result. Think of the detrimental effect of a lengthy demolition on a short block that’s home to thriving businesses. Kathryn Adisman

SOUND off! Write a letter to the editor News@thevillager.com 14

July 21, 2016

Swami’s reach was huge To The Editor: Re “It’s no stretch to say Integral Yoga Institute, at five decades, was a bridge to yoga craze” (news article, July 14): I don’t know, I could have sworn it was Conrad Rooks, of the film “Chappaqua,” who brought Swami Satchidananda to the U.S. The impact of Swami’s teachings is way greater than this article begins to say. One of his students was Dean Ornish, and much of Ornish’s orientation toward medicine came from the swami’s teachings. Medicare now covers the Ornish program in a number of states — which enables people to heal heart disease through diet, exercise and meditation — once unthinkable. The swami was also the first teacher since perhaps Yogananda in the 1930s to bring hatha (sun and moon — not hot and cold!) yoga to the West. Miriam Gopi Weinstein Continued on p. 16


Hookers ’n’ burgers: Outreach on the ’80s stroll

Notebook By Patricia Fieldsteel


first discovered McDonald’s in the 1980s, when I needed to use the ladies room. Occasionally, I also went there to write, fortified by coffee, diet soda and fries. At the time, I was working nights as an outreach worker to street prostitutes on the most degraded strolls in all five boroughs of New York City. It was the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, as well as the height of the crack scourge, which turned thousands of women into streetwalkers to support their habits. We went out in a medical van donated by a condom manufacturer, drawing blood as part of a research project to see if women could get and transmit H.I.V. We tested for the virus, offered counseling, safe-sex education and free rubbers. We also needed to compensate the women for their time so their pimps didn’t beat them up for lost income. We paid $15 cash, the equivalent of what they’d get for a blow job. Then one Saturday night on a deserted strip in East Harlem, we were surrounded and mobbed by junkies. Word was out: We had cash. A safer payment method had to be found. Ultimately, we decided on $15 worth of McDonald’s coupon books as payment. During the years I worked for the project, we tested more than 3,000 women, seeing many of them multiple times in follow-ups for test results, referrals and counseling. Each time, we gave out coupons. It’s probably safe to say we may have altered the clientele demographics of New York City’s McDonald’s outlets. Was anyone the wiser? I doubt it. Not unlike a certain profession, purchasing fast food affords anonymity. It is also impersonal — you know what you want beforehand, you order, you pay your money upfront, you instantly get your goods, you eat and you leave. And if you do it too often, you’ll most likely suffer long-term medical consequences. Even here in Provence, France, where I now live, I confess to occasionally frequenting the nearby “McDo” (pronounced “MacDough”) in Valréas. In times of stress, I bribe myself with a “Happy Meal.” Four euros buys a cute little red pocketbook box, diet cola, fries, two sauces, a fruit or yogurt dessert, a cheeseburger and a genderdesignated toy. Recently I got a plastic Arab Barbie in a pink miniskirt. There is also free Wi-Fi (“wee-fee” in French) and air conditioning. Prostitution fulfills someone else’s desire for sex. The seller’s need is singular: money. At the worst of the crack epidemic, we met girls who sold themselves for as little as 50 cents. Many were underage. Others were single mothers with children to support. As one homeless, addicted teenager explained to me, she wasn’t “really a prostitute” because she wasn’t “in it for the sex,” she was “in it for the money.” Giving out coupons guaranteed “our” money would not be used for drugs. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, but I’d like to believe eating at McDonald’s gave the women a small modicum of normality and self-respect. The poorer, more strung-out among them stole from bodegas or scrounged through garbage in neighborhoods that were isolated, cut off from the rest of the city and commercial centers. Fast-food outlets are about location; they are frequently found, lined up, one right after the other, in heavily trafficked strips with a fast turnover of potential clientele, who often arrive and eat in cars. During this period, out of curiosity, I visited a few porn establishments in Times Square, back in the days before it became Disneylanded. A few of the girls (they preferred “girls” to “women”) had started out as exotic dancers, masseuses or in porn shops before they hit the streets. TheVillager.com

Sketch by Tom Doyle

A sketch of a transgender prostitute in the Meat Market circa 1980s or early ’90s. Due to changes in the once-desolate nighttime Meatpacking District, the hookers would soon be pushed down into the Village’s quiet residential streets from their traditional stomping ground on W. 14th St.

West 42nd Street was lined with nearly identical-looking peep shows flashing blinking lights: “HOT!! XXX GIRLS!! XXX!!” One, however, caught my eye: “XXX HOT!!! COLLEGE GIRLS!!! XXX.” I went inside. What we call here in France, jetons, had to be purchased. For 50 cents apiece, you got a golden coin with a sexy lady on the front and another one on the back. Throwing caution to the wind, I bought two, one of which I still have here in my house in Provence. It was an off-hour — I had just been to a Sunday afternoon concert conducted by a friend in Carnegie Hall — and was headed Downtown to an after-concert party. Very few perverts were inside. There was a long corridor with several tightly shut opaque windows. You inserted the jeton in a slot and the window went up. Suddenly, I was face to face with “college girls” sitting around eating Big Macs and fries out of several large shopping bags. I stared at them; they stared at me. One got up, her plaid miniskirt jiggling, as she approached the open window, holding a French fry dripping ketchup in her long faux curly nails. “What do you want?” This was not a question for which I was prepared. “I don’t know,” I stammered, as the window slammed shut. I approached the manager and explained to the best of my ability, the “situation.” I had deposited my jeton. (“Heh, lady???”) O.K., I put in my coin, the window opened, women were eating Big Macs and then the window slammed shut. “I don’t understand this,” I said. He gave me several more jetons “on the house.” He had another name for them, which I’ve forgotten. I put one in the slot and the same little tableau was repeated. I tried again. More of the same, only now they were digging into the bags for seconds on the Big Macs. I complained to the management. He went behind the scenes and gave me more jetons. The window went up and a college girl approached. “Do you want to touch?” “Touch! Touch what?” I stammered, “I’m not interested in touching anything. I just want to see what it is you do.” I was beginning to suspect the situation was deteriorating. Perhaps subliminally the odor of the fries and Big Macs reminded me I was soon due Downtown at a dinner party in the East Village. The manager approached. He wanted to know if I’d liked what I’d seen. I explained I hadn’t seen much, to be honest, and that I had thought his establishment had better things on offer. He told me he would show me the best he had and he would give it to me for free. (He also muttered something about my presence not encouraging his regular clientele to feel at ease.) He escorted me to a red wooden pedestal with a yellow viewing machine on top that reminded me of the stereoscopic View-Master toys from the early 1960s. I was instructed to watch. A grainy black-and-white video began. It was hard to make out, but there appeared to be a black torso and a white torso — no heads or limbs — and a lot of bumping, thrusting and grinding, accompanied by moans and grunts and what I imagined was supposed to be a sexy musical film score. Unlike the quick-peek windows, this show was endless and a tad repetitive. It finally came to an abrupt halt as the reel spun out of control, spraying the screen with squiggles and loops. “Well, what did you think?” he asked excitedly. I attempted to give the most precise and incisive cinematographic analysis I could. He stared at me blankly, a tinge of incredulity to his face. “What do you want, lady, what do you want?!” I politely thanked him, made a quick exit and took the subway Downtown. The party at the composer’s house was in full swing. Luminaries from Hookers continued on p. 26

July 21, 2016


Streaming and rent drum out two record stores By Michael Ossorguine


he “music died” two more times Downtown, as a pair of local record stores recently succumbed to industry trends and pulled the plug. Rebel Rebel’s windows at 319 Bleecker St. were newspapered over at the end of June, while beloved indie and electronica-themed music shop Other Music, at 15 E. Fourth St., also shuttered its doors for the last time at the end of last month. “The landlord did not give me an option, He called and said, ‘I rented your store,’ ” David Shebiro, Rebel Rebel’s owner, said. “I later found out that our new neighbors next door [Scotch and Soda clothing boutique] had already paid him six months security.” Rebel Rebel opened in 1988. Left on its window after its closing were lyrics from David Bowie’s song “Future Legend,” with a final message at the bottom of the page: “BEWARE OF CORPORATIONS.” Steep drops in CD and record sales helped seal the fate of these two shops, despite a resurgence in record sales in recent years. Thanks to Record Store Day in April, there was a brief 131 percent jump in U.S. weekly vinyl sales. At Other Music, record sales made up 60 percent of revenue in its final days. However, the owners had to accept that there is no longer enough interest in physical copies of albums to justify their stores’ existence. “Despite massive growth in the past 10 years, vinyl still accounts for less than 5 percent of overall music consumption,” Josh Madell, a former

Photo by Sharon Woolums

An angr y crowd of fans protested and played music outside Other Music on June 28, the day the E. Four th St. record store closed. Police eventually arrived and dispersed the crowd.

owner of Other Music, said. “I think that many people buying LP’s still spend a lot more time streaming music than spinning records.” “Downloading and streaming is definitely killing CD sales,” Shebiro said. “But it’s also killing the artist and primarily only making money for record companies and the services.” However, these store owners can be proud that their businesses outlived Tower Records and Virgin Megastore, far larger and older venues in the same neighborhood, which closed in 2006 and 2009, respectively. With these latest casualties of a contracting industry, Madell believes the city’s indie culture has shifted to Williamsburg, with Rough Trade,

at 64 N. Ninth St., being fans’ “best bet” for a good selection of records and CDs. Other Music was keenly aware of interesting indie acts before their rise to fame. The store famously hosted performances at the shop by Vampire Weekend, Interpol and other top bands and artists before they were rising on Billboard charts. The store was a hub for collectors. On June 28, several hundred of Other Music’s fans, including 40 musicians, took part in a two-line musical parade that began at the shop, and ended at the Bowery Ballroom, at 6 Delancey St. “The very large crowd was very upset. Yet another iconic store bites the dust,” Villager Sharon Woolums,

who witnessed the street party, reported. Later that night, Other Music hosted a concert at Bowery Ballroom that featured several of the “greats,” as Madell described it. The setlist included Yoko Ono, Sharon Van Etten and Yo La Tengo. “It was a beautiful way to honor both our many years in Manhattan, and the fading arts culture of the area,” Madell said. He said the industry’s economics, coupled with a rent that had more than doubled since their opening in 1995, forced them to cease both their in-store and mail-order operation. “We just couldn’t make ends meet,” he said. Other Music peaked in 2000, according to The New York Times, when the store generated about $3.1 million in sales revenue. But revenue had dropped by half since then, Madell said. Meanwhile, the monthly rent was around $12,000. Other Music has not completely finished leaving its mark on the music industry, though, as the store’s independent label, Other Music Recording Co., is still going, with signed bands such as the Boogarins on tour this summer. Other Music’s owners founded the recording company in 2011, and were previously managing the label through the store location. Madell is temporarily running the operation from his Brooklyn apartment. Madell remains optimistic. “New York City is definitely getting tougher every day for developing artists,” he said. “But there is still a vibrant music scene here for sure — check out Helado Negro.”

Letters to the Editor Continued from p. 14

Cyclists gone wild To The Editor: Re “Street-hollering woman: It’s just the way I roll” (notebook, by Kathleen Rockwell Lawrence, July 7): Kudos to Ms. Lawrence. Verbal abuse is rampant among bicyclists, and their behavior is usually worse. Not only have I been missed by inches countless times by riders running red lights and/or going against traffic (and not in bike lanes); not only have I often seen an elderly man with a beard charging through pedestrians as they crossed W. Eighth St. and Sixth Ave. while they had the walk light; but I was lucky on one occasion not to be badly hurt: A few years ago, I was crossing Prince St. after looking both ways. It’s a one-way street, with traffic driving west. A bike driver heading east ran into me, knocking me down. The bruise on my


July 21, 2016

right thigh where his bike hit me took longest to heal, but what hurt most was my right ear, where his helmet had struck me. Needless to say, he took off, and I had no way to report him. Maybe it’s time for mandatory license plates on bicycles. Alice Connorton

Otis has seen it all To The Editor: Re “My life and the changing Village over the years: Part I” (notebook, by Otis Kidwell Burger, July 14): Love it! She’s really seen it all, or her family has! Jane Heil

Green heaven To The Editor: Re “Bursting with flowers, LaGuardia Gardens is getting lots of buzz; Composting also in the mix” (picture story, July 14): I tasted some of that lavender honey! Heavenly. So is the garden. Lovely article. Peggy McLoughlin E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212229-2790 or mawil 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.


Speak your story at La Sopa

Workshops challenge writers to explore and evolve BY PUMA PERL


n my experience, the best writing workshops emphasize building community and sharing the transformative experience of creation. Technique can be taught; a simpatico group of artists evolves. Some years back, I travelled faithfully to the Bronx every Sunday morning. When and how my Saturday night had ended was irrelevant; I needed to write with this family of poets called Acentos. A fierce young woman named Jani Rosado was another dedicated family member, so naturally I was excited to learn of her engagement in a new endeavor. La Sopa NYC (aka The School of Poetic Arts) is an educational workshop series currently in residence at The Loisaida Center, a Lower East Side nonprofit organization and multi-purpose space born during the activist movements of the 1970s. The series is dedicated to the development of artistic skill and the exploration of literary and performance expression, and its vision and mission are continually expanding. Now in its fourth cycle, “Our emerging pedagogy is that of a Community STEAM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics] program, as it pertains to adult innovators seeking mastery of arts and entrepreneurship,” Rosado noted. The $150 fee for a six-week session provides many opportunities in addition to the poetry and performance workshops offered weekly. The students, many of whom have never been onstage, are provided platforms for their voices to be heard and their stories to be told. La Sopa participates in events throughout the city, including the Queens Book Festival’s TheVillager.com


A La Sopa Completion Ceremony at Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

Q-Boro Literary Crawl, the Loisaida Festival, the New York Poetry Festival at Governors Island, and the Union Square Slam. Individual critiques and mentoring are offered via virtual office hours, available to all participants. The courses are not geared toward basic poetry writing skills. A screening process for new applicants is in place in order to sustain a creative dynamic and attract participants

who have already developed a relationship with the arts. Many of the students return, and fresh energy is created between the new and the old. Mario J. Pagan, an emerging poet, midway through his third cycle with the intention to continue, noted, “I keep coming back for the camaraderie. I’ve found peers who are open and eager to teach and to learn from each other, and

to master our craft. La Sopa is a community where I have seen anxiety go out the window, shyness kicked to the curb, egos shut down, and self-esteem flying high — a space where all the misfits, late bloomers, nerds, and geeks come together and finally find a place to fit in. But most importantly, we continue the oral tradition LA SOPA continued on p. 18 July 21, 2016


Photo by Puma Perl

L to R: Kimberly Andino, Juan “Papo Swiggity” Santiago and George “Urban Jibaro” Torres at the Loisaida Festival.

LA SOPA continued from p. 17

Photo courtesy Jani Rose

L to R: La Sopa facilitators Rich Villar, Juan “Papo Swiggity” Santiago, Anthony Morales and Jani Rose.

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July 21, 2016

of the Nuyorican movement and honor those who came before us.” The idea for a school had been on poet Juan “Papo Swiggity” Santiago’s mind for some time. Papo and George “Urban Jibaro” Torres founded Capicu Culture, a grassroots house of poetry and performing arts in 2007. In 2009, Papo began seriously thinking about opening a school based on the Nuyorican, Black Arts, and Beat Poet movements. He had recently learned about the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and figured if the Beats could do it, so could he. Fast-forward a few years and a few attempts later. Co-founder Jani Rosado recalled a late-night gathering at Papo’s place in 2011 as a pivotal moment when, sitting on the steps at sunrise, still talking about their creative work and the community, “I mentioned how much I missed the Acentos workshops. It was like church for many of us — where we went to commune with others and improve ourselves. As I spoke, Papo looked at me like lightning had struck oil; we shared the same dream. The three of us, Papo, George Torres and I, made a pact that night that we would make it happen.” The trio eventually agreed on the use of the description “Poetic Arts” because there “is poetry in every form and medium,” said Rosado. “La Sopa, or soup, is the asopao. Throw it all in the pot, simmer it with love, and make something warm and delicious for the family. It’s medicine. Every culture has a special soup that the grandmothers feed you to make you strong and make everything better.” Before they found their current home, it was Torres who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to create visibility and strengthen the new union with the

Loisaida Center — which, in June 2015, joined them on the first Capicu float in the New York Puerto Rican Day Parade. The group expanded to include guest facilitators such as Willie Perdomo and Lemon Anderson, as well as adding teachers and mentors, including former Nuyorican Poets Cafe slam master Keith Roach, hip-hop poetry educator Anthony Morales, and poet/educator/activist, Rich Villar, who wrote, “When I think of this group of writers, I see nothing less than the next wave of a movement. I’m honored to be in their midst. I’m honored to do my part for this nationbuilding going on at the Loisaida Center. What we are saying at La Sopa is that when you speak your story, in a culture that doesn’t necessarily want to hear your story, you are already participating in a political act.” In the upcoming session, for the first time, men and women will have separate tracks, so core issues that have previously arisen can be unpacked and further explored in writing. The fifth cycle of La Sopa will be an abbreviated three-week session, and includes poetry and performance workshops and online mentoring, as well as participation in activities. It will take place 11am–3:30pm on Sat., Aug. 13, 20 & 27, at The Loisaida Center (710 E. Ninth Ave., btw. Aves. C & D;). Applications may be downloaded and submitted, at no cost, via the following link: tinyurl.com/ gpecnfa. The series is $75 ($20 each for individual drop-in classes). Those interested in taking individual classes should send three writing samples to lasopanyc@gmail.com for consideration. Visit loisaida.org and facebook.com/groups/ LaSopaNYC. Follow Capicu Culture at facebook.com/CapicuPoetry and visit capicuculture.com. TheVillager.com


The International Center of Photography, at 250 Bowery.

Private matters for public consumption ICP opens strong on the Bowery with sprawling exhibition BY NORMAN BORDEN


ith the eagerly anticipated opening of its new museum space at 250 Bowery now a reality, the International Center of Photography (ICP) has come a long way, both physically and philosophically, since it was established by Cornell Capa on Fifth Avenue’s Museum Mile in 1974. Capa’s intent had been to preserve and promote the legacy of the “Concerned Photographer,” a term he used for any photographer passionately dedicated to doing work that contributed to the understanding and well-being of humanity, which included photojournalists and street photographers. Over the years, as photography gained in stature as a fine art, ICP’s influence also

grew. When it moved to a larger space on Sixth Ave. in 2000, the Internet and digital technology were in their infancy. ICP embraced the new, but did not trash the old. In fact, its mission statement said, “ICP is expanding to encompass the new electronic imaging media which will shape the 21st century just as photography did the 20th.” (But who could have predicted that over one trillion digital photos are now taken annually?) ICP’s sprawling new exhibition includes 150 works by 50 artists that occupy both floors at 250 Bowery, demonstrates just how far the institution has come — and, more importantly, where it’s going. In the age of selfies, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, “Public, Private, Secret” explores how self-identity has become tied to public visibility.

Given that millions of people around the world now produce and exchange images to communicate complex ideas about everything from urban policing to self-identity, Mark Lubell, ICP’s Executive Director, noted, “The new ICP Museum space was specifically designed to foster shared dialogues about these issues and the opening exhibition is a perfect example of this, addressing one of the most critical conversations in today’s post-Internet society: privacy.” Explaining the show’s evolution, Charlotte Cotton, ICP’s first Curator-inResidence, told of a conversation with Lubell while the new space was being built out, during which she expressed her interest in keeping ICP very strongly involved with the social implications of the visual culture. “I wanted to

approach it as a social issue rather than from the fine art perspective that most institutions would take.” When he suggested doing a show about privacy, Cotton said she could live with that subject. “We’re all worried about our privacy to some degree and I was interested in doing a show that would ask you to deal with it in a personal way. I wanted the look and feel of the exhibition to deal with your own body in the space.” Recognizing that all information can be found online, she knew there would have to be a really good reason to visit a physical space, She says, “I liked the idea that we were creating an exhibition that was an experience. You have to be here to get it — you can’t see this at home.” ICP continued on p. 21


July 21, 2016


The trials and triumphs of an evicted urban elf

Rev. Jen’s dispatches from far-flung Bedwick BY REV. JEN MILLER In a recent installment of my written adventures, I made the false claim that it was the most depressing column ever written. I was wrong. This is actually the most depressing column ever written. This month I will discuss homelessness, cancer, mental illness, unemployment, and more! Also, I am going to turn 44 in a couple of days, almost a decade older than Anne Bancroft was when she played Mrs. Robinson. When you are female and constantly surrounded by advertisements featuring women half your age, you start to feel like you age — in dog years. So, technically, I will be 308. But even at that ripe old age, there is still a spring in my step and hope in my heart so, as always, this column will maybe make you smile while I curl up in the fetal position and cry. So, let’s go! I’ll start with homelessness and get to the fun stuff later.


for the next adjournment. He was so rude that he was made to apologize to me in front of the judge after asking me why I was getting such a “hard-on” over the case. I don’t know — maybe the prospect of losing my home of over 21 years? Eventually, due to circumstances, a panoply of mental disorders, and life events, I really couldn’t make rent. But the gavel never came down. They never told me I was evicted. So, it came as quite a shock, one afternoon, when I emerged from the shower, clad only in a towel, to find two men in my kitchen. One was a City Marshal, the government’s equivalent of a mall cop. He told me I had three minutes to leave. Because I know Marshals are allowed to carry guns, I asked him if he had a weapon. He said, “I wish I had a gun to deal with you.” My friend, John, who was staying in the East Wing of the Troll Museum, ran out and had him confess this on video. Even so, there was nothing I could do. I grabbed the two most important things in my life: my cat and my Chihuahua. As I was struggling to get my pussy in a carrier, he said, “Oh, just leave the cat.” What a great idea! Leaving a cat (that’s very stupid) in a 90-degree apartment with little food and water really bodes well for his longevity. So, I got the critters and ran to a neighbor’s, then bolted to the courthouse, where I was granted six hours, two days later (June 28), to remove my belongings. Luckily, a dozen art stars showed up to help. They rented a van and took my things to storage. Three kind friends offered me a temporary place to stay in what I call “Bedwick” because I’m not sure if it’s Bushwick or Bed-Stuy. I do know it’s across from “Big Boy Deli,” which was recently busted for the sale of K2 (synthetic marijuana), which has led to epidemic hospital visits.

New York, New York. I did not want to come here. I wanted to attend Virginia Commonwealth University — but I needed a 1,350 SAT score to get a full scholarship. I had something like a 1,300. So my parents signed me up for an SAT course. Unfortunately, I’d just discovered weed and forgot how to do math, thus scoring 800 on my second attempt. I got scholarships to various art schools and my dad said, “If you are going to be an artist, you should go to New York.” So, in 1990, I arrived here to attend the School of Visual Arts. Because SVA didn’t have dorms, I took a room at the Parkside Evangeline, a Salvation Army residence that looked like a haunted mental institution. No men were allowed to enter. When Irina Dunn coined the phrase “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle,” I’m certain she had yet to visit the Parkside. It was hell. Five years later, I found a place on Orchard Street where, at the time, no one John and I actually found a guy overdosed a block wanted to live. In 2000, I turned my home into a “Troll Museum,” away from the Deli. One fellow had already called given I had something like 600 Troll Dolls and it seemed like a 911. John called as well while I felt for a pulse, then good idea at the time. My tiny “museum that could” soon gained felt his abdomen. He was breathing. EMT showed international notoriety and, several men entered. up in less than a minute. I said, “He’s breathing.” But after losing my job at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, They said, “It’s shallow” and they took him away I fell behind on my rent and spent over three years in eviction court, in an ambulance. It looked like he was 23. Next representing myself. Something like 88% of New York tenants can’t day, the Post’s front page announced my block was afford a lawyer, while 97% of landlords can. I was rent-stabilized and “Zombieland.” If Big Boy Deli wants to clean their the landlord wanted my lease the way Gollum wants the ring, since act up, they should turn into a legitimate “Bob’s Big I’d gentrified the neighborhood and turned it into the worst real estate Boy,” because everyone needs pancakes and colorshitshow ever. ing contests. The landlord’s lawyer rarely showed up for court. So I spent PHOTO BY JOHN FOSTER hours there, hours I could have spent working rather than waiting Sign of her times: Rev. Jen ponders REV JEN continued on p. 21 life away from the Lower East Side.



July 21, 2016



Natalie Bookchin: “My Meds” (2009, from the “Testament” series). ICP continued from p. 19

In curating the show, Cotton had some clear ideas about what it should and shouldn’t be. “I didn’t want to do a surveillance exhibition with drone pictures,” she says. “I didn’t want to fetishize anything. Among the things I picked were historical works that were really at the roots of issues we’re facing today, like early mug shots, Weegee, and the paparazzi.” Asked if she could imagine what Cornell Capa would have thought about this new ICP, Cotton smiled and said, “I think he would have been most proud of the communal space that’s free and open to the public. It doesn’t feel like a museum lobby, but it’s all about access.” Designed to be like a village square, the space has a clock, cafe, comfortable seating, a bookstore, and a bulletin board — all visible from the street through floor to ceiling windows. Workshops, some free, are planned to start in the fall. The hope is that visitors won’t just visit ICP to look at exhibitions, but also come for conversations about photography.

“Public, Private, Secret” will certainly give visitors a lot to talk about. Privacy is a complicated subject, and so is this show. In the main gallery downstairs, the work is loosely organized into three categories: public, private, and secret — and the historical and contemporary work often appear side by side. For example, in the “public” category, 1979’s “Untitled,” by Cindy Sherman (known for her self-portraits), is juxtaposed with a video of “Selfish,” Kim Kardashian’s 2015 book of selfies. Next to it is a series of Andy Warhol self-portraits framed with mirrors. In effect, you’re looking at yourself looking at Warhol. And mirrors are used elsewhere in the exhibition as a framing device, a clever wink to the narcissism that surrounds so much of today’s picture taking. Surveillance and privacy, or the lack of it, come together in a juxtaposition of a poster-sized Weegee photograph of prisoners using their hats to cover their faces, placed next to “The Revolutionary,” from the 2013 “Spirit Is a Bone” series by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin. They created por-

REV JEN continued from p. 20

CANCER! In somewhat better news, my paramour, Joe, is making a recovery from brain cancer, which means he’ll be able to visit and make sweet love to me on my birthday. I can’t think of anything I want more for my 308th except to maybe finally have my wisdom teeth extracted. It’s been a year and if his battle taught me anything, it’s that love really is patient.

TROLL MUSEUM RESURRECTION! I told you I’d get to something happy. When you go through awful crap, some people turn their backs and some people step right up. The fine people at Chinatown Soup (16B Orchard St.) have invited me to do a gallery show and



Cindy Sherman: “Untitled” (1979).

traits of a broad spectrum of Moscow’s citizenry by adopting a facial recognition system used by the Russian government to identify individuals at demonstrations and in other public places. Voyeurism has its place in the privacy discussion, as revealed in historical works by Henri Cartier-Bresson (“Mexico,” 1934), Gary Winogrand, (“Women are beautiful,” 1975), and Polaroid photos by unidentified photographers of auditions for Playboy magazine that are covered by a canvas drape, so lifting it up turns the viewer into a voyeur. Underscoring the exhibition’s 21st century sensibilities are streams of real-time images and video on display in the downstairs gallery. Curated by Mark Ghuneim, the feeds use various social media as sources of content, and are organized by themes such as “Hotness,” “Morality Tales,” “Celebrity Leaderboard,” “Transformation,” and “Privacy.” An algorithm changes content about every 15 minutes. As a non-Millennial, I thought “Testament,” by Natalie Bookchin, was more mesmerizing than the video feeds.

It’s a powerful series of collective selfportraits that the artist made from a montage of video diaries she found online. Using topics such as unemployment, sexual identity, and psychopharmacology, Bookchin edited and sequenced the clips from different people — so the effect of her work sounds like a well-synchronized Greek chorus or choir. You can’t see this at home. Like the show itself, ICP’s re-opening downtown was overwhelming — there were some 6,000 visitors during its first four days, a welcome surprise. With those numbers, a thought-provoking exhibition, and a different kind of museum space, ICP is off to a good start. “Public, Private, Secret” is on view through Jan. 8, 2017 at the International Center of Photography (250 Bowery, btw. Houston & Prince Sts.). Hours: Tues., Wed. & Fri.–Sun., 10am–6pm; and Thurs., 10am–9pm (6–9pm, pay what you wish). Admission: $14 (seniors, $12; students, $10; free for children 14 & under). Call 212-8570000 or visit icp.org.

Troll Museum “pop-up.” Opening night is Aug. 16, 7pm. So please join me for a week of performances, music, art, and trolls.

WEREWOLF BITCHES! It only took four years, but my latest feature film, “Werewolf Bitches from Outer Space,” is done — thanks to my goddaughter, Dylan Mars Greenberg, who took over filming after my ex dumped me and left the project. One thing I know about art: If you start a project, finish it, even if the end product is terrible. Opening night to be announced soon (at Anthology Film Archives). Check my Facebook page for details (find me at Revjenn Miller). If you like scantily clad werewolf lesbians, gore, and political satire, you won’t be disappointed!


There’s a new kid in town: Rev. Jen outside of Big Boy Deli, alleged source of K2 zombie sightings. July 21, 2016


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July 21, 2016


Push to restore Stanton storehouse to community By Michael Ossorguine


he park building at Stanton St. in Sara D. Roosevelt Park was promised as a public resource in 1998, but it is currently being used for Parks Department storage and parking. The Stanton Building Task Force and NYCommons project is campaigning to restore the building to community use, which could also include acting as a safe haven in “times of disruption,” such as Hurricane Sandy. Last Wednesday, advocates gathered outside the Lower East Side structure for three hours to showcase the community’s many ideas for using it. Among those present were the Sara D. Roosevelt Park Coalition, the LUNGS Youth Program, Solarize LES, LES Ready, The New York Mechanical Gardens Bike Co-op, 596 Acres and several more community groups. Surveys were handed out by the S.D.R. Park Coalition to gage what local residents’ wishes are for the building. “We have a community center that’s been sitting, filled with storage, unavailable to a community that has been under-resourced for many years,” said Wendy Brawer, founding director of Green Map System. “So, today, instead of introducing some things that community centers do, like art or handicrafts, we want people to start thinking about resiliency a little bit.” Stephanie Suazo, community liaison for Assemblymember Alice Cancel, was also on hand. “I think we should use this space for something productive for our community,” Suazo said. “It would be great to have more people involved.” Councilmember Margaret Chin and Borough President Gale Brewer recently allocated $1 million to renovate the bathrooms of the Stanton building, which would help ad-

Photo by Michael Ossorguine

Advocates gathered outside the Stanton park building on July 6 during one of three recent workshops to brainstorm ideas for the building’s reuse.

dress complaints that the park is used as a toilet for the local homeless. However, NYCommons believes the timing is perfect to reactivate the whole building for public use. NYCommons is a project of the Urban Justice Center, Common Cause New York and the Fund for Public Advocacy. A citywide coalition, it seeks to influence policy around how the city deals with its public assets, such as parks, libraries, community gardens and housing. Ray, a member of the S.D.R. Park Coalition, remembers playing ping pong when the Stanton building was a rec center decades ago. But in the 1980s, the Parks Department took the structure over for its own uses. The NYCommons coalition aims to reclaim the coveted


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July 21, 2016

space for an environmentally friendly purpose. “NYCommons is going to be a set of tools that helps New Yorkers get control of public real estate assets that are otherwise sitting unused or being sold to the private market,” Paula Z. Segal, of 596 Acres, explained. Partnering with NYCommons, 596 Acres is a “community land-access advocacy organization” that has previously helped establish public gardens and various inclusive programs in pockets of space across the city, like abandoned lots or old park buildings similar to the Stanton building. The organization is currently researching 10 Parks Department structures in Community Board 3 as potential community spaces. The Stanton Building Task Force and NYCommons will host a third workshop, on Wed., July 27, for activists willing to devote more time to the cause. The purpose of these meetings is to build up capacity for leadership and discuss how to achieve the coalition’s ends. The meetings are being held at 30 Delancey St. — another building in S.D.R. Park. The effort’s leaders hope that, by the end of the discussions, they will have formulated some sensible proposals for use of the Stanton building. “We are trying to get a real feel for what is needed and wanted here,” Kathleen Webster, president of the S.D.R. Park Coalition, said. The building is one of the few publicly owned structures on the Lower East Side located outside of a flood zone. The campaign agrees with LES Ready, a recovery group formed in response to Hurricane Sandy, that the Stanton space must also be available as a resource for those vulnerable to potential emergency situations. As of now, the Parks Department has not expressed willingness to give up this storage facility. Yet activists believe their efforts are finally gaining some traction.

Hookers ’n’ burgers Hookers continued from p. 15

the music, literary, film, dance and theater world were animatedly conversing and sipping wine and fruit juice. The atmosphere was informal, friendly and laid-back. After a while, the guests departed and around 12 of us who’d been asked stayed on for dinner. While we sat around the large kitchen table, the composer, a vegan of many decades, prepared pizzas from scratch, starting with a whole-wheat crust. The conversation was heady, fascinating, intimate and just plain fun, the mood relaxed and homey. That night I slept well and late into the following day, when I returned to work on the condom van in the evening. We drove to Brighton Beach and then Coney Island, both of which had significant prostitute strolls. Always, when we finished, in the early-morning hours, we wrapped for the night at Nathan’s Famous for sizzling franks and hot greasy fries. The shape of the hot dogs and their association to hookers hardly needs elaboration. What mattered to us was their instant availability, straight off the grill and ready to eat. Another stroll I regularly worked was Manhattan’s West 14th Street in the Meat Market, which back then was still a meatpacking district, with whole carcasses arriving during the night to be cut up, packaged, sold and distributed. This

was also the domain of transvestite and transgendered prostitutes who plied their trade during the hours the market was in swing. Among the most notorious was a 7-foot black woman named Porsche. Porsche was probably the oldest, longest-working hooker there and so fierce, she didn’t have or need a pimp, or “manager,” as they preferred to be called. By the 1990s, most of the meat dealers had moved up to Hunts Point Market in the Bronx, site of another large stroll. The 14th Street Meat Market had begun to be gentrified, with high-class restaurants, fancy boutiques and glitzy nightclubs. Many of the transgendered hookers had moved on, died or been murdered. Only a few from the old days remained. One night, on my way home from dinner at Pastis, the French bistro/brasserie owned by the British restauranteur Keith McNally, I bumped into one of the working girls I’d known from the ’80s. We embraced and she proudly told me she was negative. We chatted and I asked after the other girls. Then I mentioned I hadn’t seen Porsche in several years. “Oh, yeah,” she said, “Porsche left the life. She got clean and is living at her mom’s out in Brooklyn. She’s working at a Burger King.” Somehow, I wasn’t surprised. TheVillager.com

Dog run group says Parks giving them runaround By Chriss Williams


og lovers are begging City Park officials to help repair the popular Washington Square Park dog run. Two sinkholes have appeared inside the pooch park — officially known as George’s Dog Run — over the past six months. What’s more, users say the run has been in a state of rapid decline since its renovation three years ago. “It’s not just three years later that it is in this condition, but it was in this condition six months after it opened,” said Pat Gross, a member of the run’s board of directors. On a hazy midweek afternoon last week, the run was filled with a dozen dogs in various states of summer play. The maintenance issues are not immediately apparent to casual visitors, but they are at the forefront of the minds of the park’s everyday visitors. A professional dog walker who gave her name as Susan was sitting near the run’s sprinkler area where three dogs were trying to escape the heat. “Dog illness is the main thing,” she noted. “The drain does not work, so it’s standing still dirty water and the dogs drink it and can get Giardia.” Complaints to the Parks Department and Community Board 2 have been an almost daily task. “We started discussing this three years ago. There’s probably 2,000 e-mails.” Gross told The Villager in a phone interview. What falls under the responsibility of the city as opposed to the dog run’s board remains a gray area. A city Parks spokesperson said, “The board is responsible for daily maintenance, cleaning up after dogs, hosing down areas, raking gravel. New York City Parks handles major repairs and capital projects.” However, community members continue to pay out of pocket for private-contractor estimates and supplies. “That’s the Park Department’s job,” said Newelle McDonald, as she pointed to an area of the run cordoned off from use by a wooden fence, while also throwing her energetic 12-year-old pet a ball. “Three months ago this whole area collapsed, and I’ve heard it’s a drainage pipe for the park building that needs to be repaired. The sinkhole in the middle has shown up for six or seven months now, and it just gets worse every time it rains because it

Photo by Chriss Williams

A wooden fence cordons off an area of the Washington Square Park dog run that “collapsed” three months ago, according to dog run members.

collects water.” In addition to the drainage issues, the perimeter fencing is also problem plagued and causing unnecessary expenses. “Before this new dog run, we would buy gravel every two years and it would cost us around $4,500,” Gross said. “We’ve had estimates now from anywhere between $10,000 to $18,000 to replace the gravel.” Due to gaps between the fence and ground, the gravel escapes easily, causing a need to resupply it. “We were asked to supply a contractor, which we did,” Gross continued. “He came and gave a very expensive bid. The cost was around $25,000” to install a plastic lumber siding. “The Parks Department asked if they would pay for part and we would pay for part. We agreed we would pay. Parks came back and said ‘no.’ We can’t spend any

money, but we will have our workmen install it.” Through private donations, the dog run’s board paid for the plastic lumber, but as of press time, it had yet to be installed. “I find it very unfair that we spent $1,800 of our hard-earned money for this lining,” Gross said. However, Parks may finally be throwing a bone to run users. The department spokesperson said Parks anticipates the perimeter plastic-lumber installation “to begin by the end of the month.” Once that is completed, Parks can provide proper “backfill” to close up the sinkhole area. “We love the park and our expectation was that we would do the things we do to maintain the run — like buy the garbage bags, things of that nature,” Gross said. “We hoped that part of the money we raised could support the run as a whole. That’s what we thought our role was. Instead we are being given the runaround.”

Green roof plans looking up at 75 Morton school By Michael Ossorguine


he new middle school at 75 Morton St. will be getting a green roof as part of the public school’s construction. In 2013, Community Board 2 passed a resolution supporting the construction of green roofs. In 2014, the 75 Morton Community Alliance — a grassroots group involved with starting up the new school — attended a C.B. 2 public envisioning meeting, at which they presented the idea for a green roof topping the planned middle school, M.S. 297, along with green roofs for four other schools. Finally, this winter, C.B. 2 submitted grant applications for “ResoluTheVillager.com

tion A” funding — school-specific capital-improvement or -enhancement grants — that would enable the School Construction Authority to build the proposed green roofs. Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Councilmember Corey Johnson and Borough President Gale Brewer allocated a combined $500,000 for the project — $200,000 each from Johnson and Glick and $100,000 from Brewer. “Resolution A” funding is also used for upgrades to schools’ auditoriums, science labs and other infrastructure. According to Jeannine Kiely, Chairperson of the C.B. 2 Schools and Education Committee, the green roof has not been designed yet, but is

in the preliminary stages. Once the project is fully designed, the S.C.A. can begin construction. Kiely said the project will likely take inspiration from other green roofs, such as ones completed ones at Greenwich Village’s P.S. 41 and the East Village’s Earth School and P.S. 64. The future principal of M.S. 297, Jacqui Getz, is helping to design the roof, Kiely said. Unfortunately, this new green roof may not be as extensive as these earlier ones, which cost between $1 and $1.8 million apiece, and contain irrigation systems, composting areas, outdoor patios and other aesthetically pleasing design features. These planted rooftops’ functions

are not limited to natural beauty. Children will be able to plant gardens and study plant life during science classes in hands-on exercises. At P.S. 41, the feature is called a Green Roof Environmental Literacy Laboratory, and is used for chemistry, biology and math classes. M.S. 297, which will open in fall 2017, is one of three schools to receive funding for rooftop construction from Brewer recently. The B.P. also allocated $100,000 to fund a greenhouse and vertical gardens at City-As-School High School, on Clarkson St., and another $100,000 for a Green Roof at the NYC iSchool, at Sixth Ave. and Broome St. July 21, 2016



MEETING Thursday, July 28

MEETING Wednesday, July 27


The Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency (LMCR) Project Is Underway! El proyecto de Resiliencia Costera del Bajo Manhattan (LMCR) estå en marcha! As part of Mayor de Blasio’s OneNYC climate resiliency plan, the City of New York is moving forward with a new project to protect Lower 0DQKDWWDQQHLJKERUKRRGVIURPFRDVWDOưRRGLQJ We need your help! -RLQXVIRUWKHƎUVWLQDVHULHVRISXEOLFPHHWLQJV to help shape the project’s priorities and learn more DERXWWKLVLPSRUWDQWSURMHFWWRUHGXFHFRDVWDOưRRG ULVNIURP7ZR%ULGJHVWR%DWWHU\3DUN&LW\ Como parte del Plan OneNYC de Resiliencia Climåtica del Alcalde de Blasio, la ciudad de Nueva York estarå implementando un nuevo proyecto para proteger de inundaciones costeras los vecindarios del Bajo Manhattan. Necesitamos tu ayuda!

Miercoles, 27 de Julio 2016

6:30-8:30 PM PS 184

329 Cherry Street

This meeting will focus on the waterfront from Montgomery Street to the Brooklyn Bridge Esta reuniĂłn se enfocarĂĄ en la costanera desde la calle Montgomery hasta el Puente Brooklyn

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Ăšnase a nosotros durante el mes de Julio para la primera serie de reuniones pĂşblicas y escuche sobre el proyecto LMCR que busca reducir el riesgo de inundaciones costera en las ĂĄreas de Two Bridges hasta Battery Park City.

Jueves, 28 de Julio 2016

Learn more about the LMCR Project:

This meeting will focus on the waterfront from the Brooklyn Bridge to the North end of Battery Park City

Para saber mĂĄs informaciĂłn del proyecto “Resiliencia Costera del Bajo Manhattanâ€? (LMCR):


Bill de Blasio, Mayor @NYClimate #OneNYC 28

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

July 21, 2016

6:30-8:30 PM Southbridge Towers 90 Beekman Street

Esta reuniĂłn se enfocarĂĄ en la costanera desde el Puente Brooklyn hasta el lĂ­mite norte de Battery Park City

Childcare, translation (Cantonese, Mandarin, 6SDQLVK DQGUHIUHVKPHQWVZLOOEHSURYLGHG Se proveerĂĄ cuidado de niĂąos, traducciĂłn (Cantonees, MandarĂ­n, EspaĂąol), y refrigerio.


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The Villager  

July 21, 2016

The Villager  

July 21, 2016