The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
September 22, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 38
Sink or spin? Report says St. John’s project could lose housing BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
he majority owner of the St. John’s Center is rethinking the idea of building a mostly residential project there because the housing market is starting to weaken — so says an article in Crain’s New York Business this past Friday. However, local leaders
were quick to cast doubt on the report. They thought it was likely an effort to spin things favorably for the developers as the project wends its way through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP, review process. Nevertheless, the new ULURP continued on p. 12
Artists fear brush-off, loss of protections in Soho zoning study BY ALEX ELLEFSON
he city’s plan to study Soho’s special zoning regulations has alarmed some residents, who see a looming threat to a longstanding provision ensuring that the neighborhood is inhabited by artists. “Artists are at risk of being
removed by greedy landlords who want their apartments,” said Sean Sweeney, director of the Soho Alliance. “We fear this could lead to the wholesale eviction of the artists and pioneers who made this neighborhood one of the most successful in the world.” Soho wasn’t always a trendy SohO continued on p. 5
Photo by Tequila Minsky
Chelsea photographer Jane Schreibman, who aler ted police to an unexploded bomb on W. 27th St. on Saturday night, got a handshake of gratitude from a local denizen. She said she was spurred to act by the slogan, “If you see something, say something.” A sked if she was a hero, she said, “I’m not a hero, I’m a New Yorker. Anyone would have done this.” For more on the Chelsea bombing, see Pages 6 and 7.
Lenin has left the building! There goes neighborhood By Lincoln Anderson
A A 9/11 tour de force��������������� p. 19
nother statue of Lenin was toppled earlier this week. Well…not exactly toppled. It was lowered down gently by crane, then carted away on a flatbed truck. There were no elated shouts of “Freedom! Freedom at last!” Several people did wonder aloud, though, what a statue of “Lennon” was doing on E. Houston St.
instead of being up at The Dakota, where the famous Beatle was shot. The iconic artwork’s removal does mark a revolution of sorts, though. No, not of the end of communism — but perhaps of the victory of gentrification in the East Village. The Vladimir Lenin statue had stood on the roof of Red Square since being installed there in 1994. The 130-unit apartment building had
opened for occupancy three years earlier, and was seen as an early beachhead of gentrification in the then-still-gritty neighborhood. Last month, the New York Post reported that the building, at 250 E. Houston St., was in contract to be sold for $100 million. According to a 1997 New York Times article, the statue of the renowned red leadStatue continued on p. 10
BBQ gay basher gets burned: 9 years in jail������p. 4 Astor comes alive! at festival for new plazas�� p. 16 www.TheVillager.com
Glick was their pick: Last week, The Villager reported quite a bit on the Assembly and State Committee primary elections in Lower Manhattan’s 65th Assembly District. They were competitive elections, and the race for former Speaker Sheldon Silver’s seat was an exciting one! We didn’t want to forget about the race in the largely West Side 66th Assembly District. So we asked Deborah Glick how she felt about winning re-election by a 4-to-1 margin over upstart challenger Jim Fouratt. “I’m very gratified by the support, which was very strong and broad, and I think reflects what we expected,” Glick said. “The public approves of what I do, and it’s gratifying to have any challenge that one defeats so handily.” Asked if she had learned anything from the experience, she told us, “I learned that it’s always good to be prepared for a challenge. What I have always believed is that working hard, doing your job is 90 percent of your re-election.” As for her campaign opponent Fouratt, Glick said, “He ran a very negative campaign — with attacks that I think were untrue.” Yet she said that style of campaigning just seems to be in vogue right now. “Look at what’s going on with Donald Trump,” she said. “He’s saying all sorts of things that are demonstrably untrue.” As for Fouratt, he said in a Facebook voice mail message to us: “I am very pleased with the results of how I did in a six-week campaign on limited resources — and, because of limited resources, having to use social media as my primary outreach to people. Getting 20 percent of the vote, I think, was quite good. Of course, I’m disappointed. Deborah Glick really has to ask herself why so few people actually came out to vote in the primary. She refused to debate me. She refused to answer any questions about local critical issues, which is the hospital, fracking, Hudson River Park air rights... . She did run on one issue — women’s health advocacy, most of which was done 20 years ago in Albany.” On election
Photo by Tequila Minsky
Good boys, good crusties! Some thankfully well-behaved crusties enjoyed themselves at the A stor Alive! Festival.
night, Glick and her supporters partied at Tio Pepe, Jimmy and Rocio Sanz’s Spanish-food mecca on W. Fourth St. ... By the way, we hear Tio Pepe has just unveiled a new menu, and if it’s as good as their old one, diners are in for a treat!
Astor Place report: Reader Anne Mitcheltree from the East Village said she was coming out of the K-Mart at Astor Place last Wednesday when she bumped into an acquaintance who told her that local newsstand vendor Jerry Delakas had just been robbed. It apparently occurred around 3 p.m. or 4 p.m., sometime before the big rainstorm. “They took the cash box. It was a team effort — one guy to pull him out of the booth, and the other to go in the booth when he wasn’t looking,” she said. Mitcheltree said she said the haul was hardly chump change, and believes Delakas filed a police report. She didn’t have a description of the two suspects, other than that they were both male. She personally feels the new street furniture on the expanded “Alamo Plaza” is bringing in a lot of people to the area, some of whom, however, she fears might not have the best intentions. “All the new chairs and tables around there are attracting a lot of strangers — ‘stranger danger,’ ” she said. “It’s Zuccotti Park on the freeway.” However, Terri Howell,
the Village Alliance business improvement district’s operations director, said she and her security team previously worked to address the problem when local school kids were trying to poach from Delakas. She said her team gets out on the plazas by 3 p.m. and knows the drill as far as keeping a watchful eye on the situation there. As for this past weekend’s Astor Alive! Festival, she said it went great from a safety standpoint. But she had her hands full with the homeless crusty punks, who — like everyone else — have taken a shine to the spiffy new public spaces. “There was a lot of pot smoking...untethered dogs,” Howell reported. ... The BID threw a party Friday night at The Standard hotel penthouse on Third Ave. to celebrate the plaza project’s completion. (Well, everything is pretty much done except for the return of “The Cube.”) Among the crowd was Karen Bacon, the older sister of actor Kevin Bacon, who worked as an outside event planner for the successful festival.
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Sepetember 22, 2016
Photo by Scoopy
“Blue Man Group” helped bring the A stor Alive! Festival to a pounding conclusion. TheVillager.com
A screen grab from the May 2015 attack at the Chelsea Dallas BBQ, showing El-Amin bashing the t wo victims over the heads with a wooden chair.
Chelsea BBQ basher gets burned: 9 years for assaults BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
ayna-Lekheim El-Amin was sentenced to nine years in prison and three years post-release supervision for assaulting two men in the Dallas BBQ in Chelsea in 2015. “The jury rejected your claim of self-defense,” said Judge Arlene Goldberg, who heard the case in Manhattan Supreme Court, on Sept. 15. “That you did not cause serious physical injury to them was only a matter of luck.” El-Amin faced five low-level felony assault charges in a May 5, 2015, altercation he had with Jonathan Snipes, 33, and Snipes’s then-partner, Ethan York-Adams, 26, in the restaurant, at Eighth Ave. and W. 23rd St. The prosecution’s case, which included several videos of the incident, was that the fight was divided into three parts and the 42-year-old was not charged with any crime in part one, where he was defending himself from Snipes, who started the fight by attacking El-Amin. In parts two and three, though, ElAmin continued to fight when Snipes had effectively surrendered, the prosecution said. El-Amin always faced the greatest jeopardy from his actions in part three, where he can be seen slamming the two men on their heads with a wooden chair as they stand with their backs to him. “The case boils down to this defendant took it too far,” said Leah Saxtein, the prosecutor on the case, during the sentencing. “He decided to get revenge… . He used a dangerous instrument to strike them in the most vulnerable part of the human body.” Saxtein asked that El-Amin be sentenced to 12 years in prison and five years post-release supervision. She noted that El-Amin had a lengthy criminal record of 29 felony convictions in multiple states. TheVillager.com
Initially, the case sparked outrage over the attack, which was perceived as a hate crime. El-Amin, who is gay, was not charged with a hate crime, however. As the case progressed and it became apparent that Snipes may have told less than the whole story in his early comments to the press, corners of the L.G.B.T.Q. community began supporting El-Amin. Some 30 people turned out for the sentencing, with a large number wearing light-blue arm or headbands to show support for El-Amin. On May 27 of this year, Robb Stone, an artist who now lives in Los Angeles, posted a Facebook photo of Snipes and YorkAdams with lengthy text that described them as “a pair of Privileged a--holes.” Within 10 days, the post had 569 shares and 769 likes. Ultimately, the view became that ElAmin was facing multiple felony charges because Snipes and York-Adams were white and he was black. “I know that you want to cast this, your supporters as well, as an issue about race,” Judge Goldberg said. “I don’t see it that way… . When you picked up that chair that was a criminal act that cannot be excused.” Neither Snipes nor York-Adams attended the sentencing or are known to have delivered victim impact statements. The couple ended their relationship and YorkAdams now lives in Tennessee. Snipes still lives in New York City. El-Amin’s attorney, Percy Gayanilo, asked Goldberg for the lightest sentence possible –– three-and-a-half years. El-Amin also spoke, referring to Snipes and York-Adams as the “drunk white men who felt they were entitled to swing on me.” He pointed to his more recent community work as evidence that his criminal record does not represent who he is today.
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September 22, 2016
Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association News Story, First Place, 2015 Editorial Page, First Place, 2015 Editorials, First Place, 2014 News Story, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Best Column, First Place, 2012 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011 Spot News Coverage, First Place, 2010 Coverage of Environment, First Place, 2009
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The Villager (USPS 578930) ISSN 00426202 is published every week by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 (212) 229-1890. Periodicals Postage paid at New York, N.Y. Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $29 ($35 elsewhere). Single copy price at office and newsstands is $1. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2016 NYC Community Media LLC. PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR
The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for others errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue. Published by NYC Community Media, LLC One Metrotech North 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (718) 260-2500 • Fax: (212) 229-2790 On-line: www.thevillager.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org © 2016 NYC Community Media, LLC
Sepetember 22, 2016
Photos by Tequila Minsky
Wayne Algenio, left, looked confident, almost cock y, as he effor tlessly sucked down the Sicilian sweet treats, leaving his competitors stunned at the sheer speed of his eating.
‘He just ate’: Canoli-contest king packs ’em in BY COLIN MIXSON
superhuman Filipinoborn eating machine utterly destroyed his competition at a cannoli-eating contest amid the Feast of San Gennaro on Sept. 15, scarfing down an unbelievable 25 Italian confections in six minutes flat. Spectators were practically blown away by the “amateur” eater’s effortless consumption of the Sicilian pastries, which were not small, according to the contest’s organizer. “That’s an extreme amount,” said Adeline Sessa, co-owner of Ferarra Bakery and Cafe, on Grand St., which sponsored the event. “They’re large cannoli, so yes I was surprised he ate that much. He ate the bulk of them in the first three minutes, and I don’t believe he’s somebody who usually enters these contests, which makes it even odder.” Wayne Algenio, 31, of Queens, emerged victorious by consuming the most pastries — by a fair margin — within the time limit, and flaunted his impressive lead by ordering a second plate after he’d devoured the first 20 cannoli set before him. Algenio didn’t employ any tricks or strategy, such as dipping the cannoli in water to soften the pastries, as a means to victory. Instead he merely powered his way through, courtesy of his innate and prodigious eating abilities. “In the past, you see people dunk them in water, but he wasn’t really using any tricks,”
Rival eaters strove to keep pace with Algenio.
Sessa said. “He just ate.” The contest has featured professional eaters in the past, but none were able to match the ludicrous 25 cannoli vacuumed up by Algenio, Sessa said. “I think, before we had more who people enter these types of contests all the time,” she said. “But this was more people who had not entered, and they did better.” After the contest, Algenio was awarded $250 in prize money to honor his victory. The Feast of San Gennaro is a 10-day affair spanning Sept. 15 to Sept. 25, and Ferrara’s eating contest won’t be the last. Five-borough feeders will have an opportunity to demonstrate their prodigious gluttony at a meatball-eating contest on Sat., Sept. 24.
The secret to Algenio’s success may be that — he just loves cannoli! TheVillager.com
Will artists get brush-off in Soho zoning study? Major changes feared Soho continued from p. 1
enclave known for boutiques and multimillion-dollar lofts. The area once was a desolate manufacturing center. In the 1960s, artists began illegally moving into some of the empty former factories and warehouses — sprucing up the properties for residential use. To accommodate the influx of new residents in Soho and Noho, the city amended the regulations in 1971 to allow joint living-working quarters — known as J.L.W.Q. for short — for artists. The law requires at least one person in a unit to be an artist certified by the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs. In a familiar pattern often seen in New York City real estate, Soho’s transformation into an artists colony, in turn, made it an attractive location for wealthy bankers, doctors and lawyers wanting to live in a chic neighborhood. Although city agencies for years looked the other way while nonartists moved into the community, the city in 2009 suddenly began enforcing the requirement — which spurred calls for the regulation to be removed so that latecomers wouldn’t have to live like outlaws. However, Sweeney said Soho’s certified-artist requirement, rather than driving out illegal residents, has instead protected the neighborhood’s creative community from being erased. He pointed to the case against Robert Seidman, a fiction and documentary writer, whose landlord tried to evict him in order to claim the apartment for personal use. A judge ruled that the property owner had no right to remove Seidman, a certified artist, because the new tenants — the landlord’s brother and nephew — were not officially recognized as artists by the city. “I defy anyone to find an example of a single nonartist being evicted from Soho,” Sweeney said. “This provision really serves to protect the artists who turned Soho from a slummy district into a beautiful neighborhood.” The Department of City Planning is tight-lipped about its upcoming study of the neighborhood. A spokesperson for the agency would only say they are “working with community stakeholders, including elected officials, to study the zoning and complex issues in this neighborhood.” The spokesperson did not provide details about when the study would begin or when the agency might recommend changes. Any proposed zoning changes would trigger a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP, which would require review by the community board, City Council and borough president. Councilmember Margaret Chin’s office referred all inquiries about the study to City Planning. However, Borough President Gale Brewer said in TheVillager.com
Photo by Louis Dienes /courtesy Soho Memory Project
Back in 1974, in the early days of Soho as an ar tists enclave, residents chipped off plaster to expose a brick wall in a loft at 498 Broome St. From left, James Mellon and Dorothy and Chaim Koppelman.
a statement that her office “has been pushing for a Soho and Noho zoning study for several months,” and she is “pleased that it looks like the Department of City Planning is getting ready to conduct one.” Brewer’s office said the city receives a “stream of exemptions and conversions” from property owners seeking to get around the neighborhood’s restrictions on retail and residential use — demonstrating a need to look at how the zoning regulations can be improved. “We need to update the zoning to help keep manufacturers and working artists in the community, ensure residential development includes affordable units, and keep smaller retailers,” she said. Community Board 2 Chairperson Tobi Bergman said the board frequently receives applications for special permits in Soho. “It indicates people are not able to make good use of the current zoning rules,” he said. “We intend to take part in the study, which will look at how the zoning is working and actually being used.” However, Lora Tenenbaum, who bought into a Soho co-op with her artist husband in 1973, said many of the problems related to the current zoning stem from decades of the city not enforcing the law. She worried that the neighborhood’s character might be completely rubbed out if the regulations are relaxed. “Of course I’m concerned,” she said of the upcoming study. “Suppose they turn it into a commercial district, rather than a manufacturing district? Right now, you can’t have a nightclub in Soho. You can’t have a sidewalk cafe. You can in a commercial district. It changes the whole quality of life in
the neighborhood.” However, Tenenbaum said her biggest fear is that the artist-certification requirement could be weakened or eliminated. “I know a good number of buildings where artists live and unless they are protected, they will be thrown out,”
she said. “There is a lot of pressure from real estate interests who want to change things so they can squeeze more money out of their properties.” In 2011, a committee led by Sohobased real estate lawyer Margaret Baisley tried to push for the elimination of the artist-certification requirement. They argued that the provision discouraged banks from lending in the area and made if difficult for residents to sell their homes. Susan Wittenberg, a Soho resident and certified artist, acknowledged that the regulations could be improved. But she argued that the greatest flaw in the artist requirement is the process by which the city awards certification. “Part of the problem is the process was poorly executed,” she said. “Everyone knows people who should have been certified and weren’t, or who were certified and shouldn’t have been.” However, she explained that the law does a lot of good for the certified artists who still live in the neighborhood. “There are more artists living here than a lot of people think,” she said. “And this policy protects artists who came to Soho as pioneers and converted abandoned factory space into living quarters.”
September is National Preparedness Month! Join NYC Emergency Management to learn how to prepare for all types of emergencies. Activities throughout September: Free preparedness fairs, events and workshops throughout the five boroughs Family day at the Bronx Zoo on Sunday, Sept. 18 Family day at the Staten Island Children’s Museum on Saturday, Sept. 24 and much more!
For more information, visit
NYC.gov/EmergencyManagement or call 311. September 22, 2016
‘Chelsea will not be cowed by violence’: Johnson;
Photo by Michael Appleton / Mayoral Photography Office
On Sunday morning, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio examined the dumpster inside which the bomb exploded on W. 23rd St. the night before.
ess than a week after the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attack on Lower Manhattan, Chelsea was rocked on Saturday evening by the explosion of a small but powerful bomb on W. 23rd St. near Sixth Ave. The device detonated in front of 133 W. 23rd St., near Selis Manor, a residence for the blind. Thirty-one people were injured, with 24 of them treated at area hospitals, mostly for fairly minor shrapnel wounds, and quickly released. One man reportedly had two of his two of his teeth knocked out. After the blast, a second pressurecooker-style bomb was found Saturday night nearby on W. 27th St. by a block resident, and removed by police before any damage was done. On Monday, police arrested Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, after a gunfight in Elizabeth, N.J., in connection with the Chelsea bombing. He has also been connected to another explosion earlier on Saturday on the Jersey Shore that was intended to hit a Marine Corps charity run. Police found still more pipe bombs atop a trash can at the Elizabeth train station, which they also have tied to Rahami. His family runs a fried-chicken place in New Jersey, and he was the counterman. According to news reports, the suspect — who is originally from Afghanistan and is a naturalized American citizen — has a hatred for gays, the military and Photo by Daniel Kwak
chelsea continued on p. 7
Sepetember 22, 2016
Police quickly cordoned off the area around Saturday’s blast site on W. 23rd St. TheVillager.com
Area is shaken but stands strong after explosion chelsea continued from p. 6
Western culture, in general. He had made several trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan, during which he reportedly became more religious and radicalized. Following the Chelsea blast, top city officials were quickly on the scene to reassure the public, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner James O’Neill and Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro. The next day, de Blasio was joined by Governor Andrew Cuomo and local elected officials in touring the area and checking out the damage to nearby shops and buildings — mainly blownout windows. They inspected a small, mangled dumpster on W. 23rd St. inside which the bomb had apparently been left. Joined by de Blasio, local politicians — including Councilmember Corey Johnson, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, state Senator Brad Hoylman and Borough President Gale Brewer — visited Selis Manor and also the Malibu Diner, among other locations. The diner provided free meals to Selis Manor residents and first responders in the wake of the bombing. On Tuesday, Jeh Johnson, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security also visited the Chelsea site. Following the explosion, Councilmember Johnson issued a strong statement, saying Chelsea is unafraid. “The people of Chelsea will not be
Photo by William Alatriste / NYC Council
Councilmember Corey Johnson inspected the blast damage — mainly blown-out windows — inside an apar tment in the hotel at 131 W. 23rd St. cowed by acts of violence and intimidation,” Johnson said. “When faced with challenges, we come together as a community and emerge even stronger.” Law enforcement is continuing the investigation into Rwahami and the explosions.
Photo by Daniel Kwak
Police and other first responders flooded the scene of the explosion on Saturday night.
Photo by Michael Appleton / Mayoral Photography Office
Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo touring the site of the explosion on W. 23rd St. on Sunday. TheVillager.com
Photo by William Alatriste / NYC Council
Jeh Johnson, the secretar y of Homeland Securit y, visited W. 23rd St. on Tuesday. September 22, 2016
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Sepetember 22, 2016
TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones
Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell
phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.
Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-
haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.
Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and
chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at
a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.
Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.
September 22, 2016
Lenin has left the building! Commie’s comedown; Statue continued from p. 1
er was found in Moscow by Michael Shaoul, a co-owner of the building with Michael Rosen, the original developer. Lenin didn’t go easily on Monday night, though. It took two two-and-ahalf hours to remove him. For starters, it turned out the crane was too short to reach the roof. So the workers had to reel it back down, then bring in an extension and attach it. A crowd of onlookers, including Red Square residents, were on hand to bid farewell to the quirky commie monument. Some were quite concerned. At one point, people called 911 to report that a “landmarked statue was being stolen by some guys with a crane.” Ninth Precinct police responding to a traffic accident on Houston St. were called off that job and rushed over to Red Square. But the Leninectomy wasn’t illegal, and the Soviet symbol wasn’t even landmarked. “People seemed very sad at the removal of the statue,” one witness reported. “There were extended political discussions regarding communism and capitalism, and Trump versus Clinton, as well as landlord bashing.” Rosen, a socially conscious developer, formerly lived at the Christodora House, at E. Ninth St. and Avenue B. A dozen years ago, he co-founded the East Village Community Coalition to fight developer Gregg Singer’s plan to build a supersized university dormitory on the site of the old P.S. 64, just east of Christodora. Working with former Councilmember Margarita Lopez, Rosen and E.V.C.C. miraculously got the old school landmarked, foiling the developer’s scheme. For the past four years, Rosen has lived slightly east of the East Village, as in Vietnam — which happens to be one of the world’s five remaining communist countries. (The others are China, Cuba, Laos and North Korea.) He works there with an agriculture and food company. Before that, he was in Hong Kong for a year and a half. In an e-mail interview with The Villager on Tuesday, Rosen filled in the details of the Loisaida Lenin’s rise and fall. Rosen noted that, even though he developed the property, he is — and always has been — a nonvoting shareholder in 250 E. Houston St. “So I have no say in any decisions,” he said. “Sure of course I know that our Lenin was taken down,” he said. “Sad yes that people prefer ‘no Lenin.’ “The building might be being sold but I believe hasn’t yet been. But I guess times do change and what one generation finds compelling or in-
Sepetember 22, 2016
Photos by Stacie Joy
Lenin laid low on E. Houston St. after being removed from Red Square’s roof.
triguing isn’t to a next,” he said of the newly Lenin-less luxe residence. “The Lenin statue was essentially my idea, supported by my partner then, Michael Shaoul, who helped deeply,” Rosen explained. “My idea was that a monument put up on the top of Red Square, waving to Wall Street, would be lovely. It was an homage to a neighborhood and city. “Please remember,” he continued, “that the Lower East Side was a place of serious political progressive-toradical focus only as far back as, for example, Frances Goldin’s time as a younger woman, when she ran on an election ticket with W.E.B. DuBois under the Communist Party.” He was referring to the legendary Cooper Square housing activist and longtime literary agent. “I believe that the building adjoining or just south of Trinity Lutheran Church, on Avenue B, was once the office of the Communist Party,” Rosen added. “My Great-uncle Harry, a hot-typesetter for The New York Times when there still was such a thing, said there used to be Socialist or Communist Worker Rallies in the small park just north of the old Forward building. Not to mention the I.W.U., etc., etc., grown in the earth of New York.” “So it’s not that I admire Mr. Lenin, but that the statue of Lenin is a worldknown symbol of a time in world history where issues of justice, of social promise, were prominent.” Yet, Rosen noted, Lenin had his flaws, from his bourgeois taste for
fine French pastries to “his apparent brutal suppression of many.” As for himself, Rosen said he is simply a “good-hearted realist” who has always voted Democrat. He was e-mailing while riding in a car on his way home from work. “I have just now, as I type, passed another stature of Lenin here in Hanoi,” he noted. Rosen explained that he is in Vietnam because he was offered a job by an investment group there looking to transform their company. “Vietnam has a creative aspect feeling very similar in ways to what the Lower East Side was back some decades ago,” he said. “Given various family realities, I felt a need to exile myself. I could have moved to Brooklyn, and Brooklyn is great, but I had an invitation to here.” Actually, it was the E. Houston Lenin that originally led him to Vietnam, he said. Basically, he liked it so much, he wanted to add a second red revolutionary atop Red Square, creating a Marxist menagerie. “In 1996, I had the idea of finding a Ho Chi Minh statue from Vietnam, to hoist it to the top of Red Square waving to Harlem, where legend has it that Ho Chi Minh worked as a short-order cook and perhaps studied a bit at Columbia, as he traveled the world studying models of governance as to how Vietnam might be governed post-French domination. “Uncle Ho was a fan of the U.S.A., asked President Truman for help but was ignored and tended only then to
Lenin was probably too big and heav y for the elevator, so was lowered by crane. statue continued on p. 11 TheVillager.com
Construction workers unite on job! Too bad, Vlad Statue continued from p. 10
Russia and China. â€œWhen I visited here in 1996, looking for a statue, I met a number of people with whom I began friendships,â€? he said. Rosen also is the author of the 2009 book â€œWhat Else But Home,â€? about his unusual East Village family,
which helped raise five boys from local public-housing developments. â€œI left New York to make some money again and hopefully to find good material to write well about,â€? he said. So, will Red Squareâ€™s name be changed, too â€” to Capitalist Court, or 1 Percenter Place, perhaps? â€œIf itâ€™s sold,â€? Rosen said, â€œthe buildingâ€™s future is left to the new owner.â€?
How the mighty have fallen (again). &'(()
Workers lowering Lenin by crane.
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Sink or spin? Report says St. John’s project ulurp continued from p. 1
president of the Greenwich Village Little League expressed concern that Pier 40 could once again be left in the lurch, if the residential project falls through. Not helping clarifying things at all, St. John’s Partners and the Hudson River Park Trust this week both declined The Villager’s request to comment on the Crain’s article and explain it. According to the article, the developers are now considering as a “backup plan” an office / commercial scheme — which, as opposed to the residential plan put forward thus far, would not need a rezoning. The news, were it true, seemingly would cast some doubt on the future of Pier 40 and its beloved ball fields — plus nearly 500 units of permanently affordable housing that were pledged as part of the St. John’s Partners plan. Westbrook Partners, the majority owner, is currently in the midst of its ULURP application for a zoning change to allow it to build a 1.7-million-square-foot project on a threeblock stretch of West St. across from Pier 40, at W. Houston St. The site currently is zoned for manufacturing, which allows office use and hotels, but not residential. Under the plan, the breakdown of the space would be 1.3 million square feet of residential and 400,000 square feet of commercial. About 30 percent of the apartments would be affordable: Of the 1,586 units, 476 would be affordable, with 175 of those slated for low-income seniors. The rest of the affordable units would be earmarked for lowand moderate-income families. As part of the project, Westbrook has committed to buy 200,000 square feet of air rights from Pier 40, for which it would pay $100 million to the Hudson River Park Trust, the state-city authority that runs the 5-mile-long waterfront park. That money, in turn, would be used to repair the crumbling Pier 40, the Downtown community’s youth sports mecca. The existing 1.2-million-squarefoot St. John’s building — the original 1930s terminus for the High Line freight railroad — would be razed for the new construction. According to Crain’s, Westbrook is now searching for a partner for the project, the whole direction of which could radically shift. “Westbrook Partners is working with Adam Spies, a broker at Eastdil Secured, to find a developer that would invest in and help oversee construction of the project to revamp St. John’s Terminal…,” Crain’s
Sepetember 22, 2016
Photos by Tequila Minsky
At last month’s Cit y Planning Depar tment hearing on the St. John’s Par tners rezoning application, members of COOKFOX architects presented the designs for the proposed building at 550 Washington St., for the current St. John’s Center site across from Pier 40. The design is labeled in different sections, from “S” for “south,” “CE” for “central east,” “NW ” for “nor thwest” and so on.
A sign slamming the Hudson River Park Trust at a bloated real estate developer at last month’s City Planning hearing on the St. John’s Partners project. If the residential plan is not scuttled, the park agency plans to sell 200,000 square feet of Pier 40’s air rights to the developer.
reported. Last year, Westbrook acquired a stake in the property that was held by Fortress Investment Group for $200 million. Atlas Capital Group still holds a minority stake in the building. “But as Westbrook increased its hold on the property and laid plans to redevelop it,” the Crain’s article con-
tinued, “the city’s residential market has appeared to weaken, dealing a potential blow to its plans to transform the site predominantly into residential space. Sales of high-priced condos have slowed and 421-a, the leading incentive program to build rental housing, has lapsed. Those hurdles have prompted Westbrook to consider an office-focused redevel-
opment as a backup plan — a change that would likely scuttle its deal to buy Pier 40 air rights, a source said. “If Westbrook succeeds in getting the site rezoned, it may proceed with [the original] proposal,” Crain’s said. “But if the firm is unsuccessful with the rezoning or decides the residential market has weakened too much to proceed with building apartments, it could instead build roughly 1.4 million square feet of commercial space [without a rezoning]. Brand-new office space aimed at creative tenants and tech firms has leased briskly in recent years.” In June, in the first step of the ULURP process, Community Board 2 overwhelmingly approved the St. John’s Partners project plan — though with a number of suggested changes, such as calling for the project’s massing to be shifted toward its center. But last month, in the ULURP’s second round, Borough President Gale Brewer gave the project a thumbs down, saying, “I firmly believe we can do better with this site.” In turn, Villagers and other Downtowners turned out in numbers at a hearing last month at the Department of City Planning, which is now considering the application in the third review stage of ULURP. As opposed to C.B. 2 and the B.P., City Planning’s vote on the project is not advisory but binding — as would be the City Council’s vote in the review’s last step, assuming the current project isn’t scrapped and the ULURP application does get that far. Asked for comment on the Crain’s article, Tobi Bergman, chairperson of C.B. 2, was skeptical that the developers aren’t just “bluffing” to get better terms. “Anything is possible, and if they want to build an as-of-right project [without a zoning change], obviously they can,” Bergman said. “But to me this seems like the ‘We-don’t-need you r - st i n k i ng- appr ova ls - a ny way ’ bluff that we see all the time. Investors are normally more savvy about trends than to engage in a huge ULURP for a project that will take a decade or more to develop and then say, ‘Oh, heck, the market has changed, let’s do something else.’ “It is quite likely they will bring in a developer partner,” Bergman said. “But my guess would be they still want to build the larger, mostly residential project.” If the housing-based plan indeed does fall through and the deal to buy air rights from the park is then dropped, Pier 40 would once again lack sufficient funding to fix its badly corroded steel support piles. That thought is a huge fear for local youth ULUrP continued on p. 13 TheVillager.com
could go commercial and forgo air rights
approach and more like a desperate attempt to try to leverage the most advantageous outcome in the process.” Meanwhile, Stephen Sigmund, a spokesperson for St. John’s Partners, said, “We’re not commenting on that Crain’s article.” Similarly, a Trust spokesperson said the authority would not be commenting on the article. However, he did specifically respond to Glick’s accusation that the Trust “spun” the Crain’s story. “The assemblymember’s unfortunate accusation is simply and unequivocally false,” he said. A source close to the project, who requested anonymity, however, said it is true that Westbrook has concerns about the residential market. “The residential marketing is soft-
ULURP continued from p. 12
sports leagues. Michael Schneider, the new president of the Greenwich Village Little League, stressed that the city itself should be footing the funds to save the ailing pier — implying that the fate of such a key recreational facility should not be hitched to the whims of a fickle real estate market. “I can tell you that it is a shame that the city doesn’t take a more active role in funding the costs for the Pier 40 project,” Schneider said. “It’s not as if they haven’t funded many other parks, including Governors Island for over $300 million. “Most organizations that have spoken out in support of the [St. John’s Partners] proposal aren’t thrilled with the project as put forth, but would almost sell their soul to save Pier 40,” said the Little League leader. “The loss of that pier would cripple Downtown athletic fields that make it possible to play football, baseball, softball, lacrosse, soccer, boating and kayaking, not to mention the pier is a base for school athletics at Stuyvesant High School. “A neighborhood like ours prospers because of families and children,” Schneider said, “and without places for kids to play and grow, young families will look elsewhere. It is in the city’s best interest to make sure the Lower West Side of Manhattan continues to develop areas like the esplanade and the ball fields at Pier 40. The Hudson River Park Trust has been incredible — but for goodness sake, give them a helping hand.” City Councilmember Corey Johnson gave a tough statement on the St. John’s Partners project at August’s City Planning ULURP hearing, sending a message that it won’t sail through the Council’s portion of the review without modifications and concessions. On Friday, Johnson said the developers are “still committed” to the residential plan. “I spoke with the applicant after the [Crain’s] story appeared and the applicant indicated to me that they are still committed to proceeding with the project,” Johnson said. “I take them at their word. “Their concerns include the weakening of the residential condominium market and the lack of 421-a for the rental portion of the plan. I am committed to achieving an outcome that brings emergency repair funds to Pier 40 and desperately needed affordable housing to my district.” (Under 421-a, a developer would receive a tax break in return for making 20 percent of a project’s apartments affordable.) Meanwhile, Assemblymember Deborah Glick sniped at both Crain’s and the Trust — and strongly disTheVillager.com
Carl Weisbrod, the commissioner of City Planning, listened to hours of testimony from the St. John’s par tner’s suppor ters and opponents at last month’s hearing. A ssuming the application isn’t scrapped amid an allegedly flagging residential market, Cit y Planning will vote on it on Oct. 17.
agreed that the local housing market is turning down. “Crain’s tends to print whatever the Trust is peddling,” Glick scoffed. “The Trust may want the deal to go through and they don’t want any more denials. The clock is ticking on ULURP, so this is not a bad moment to say, ‘Don’t rock the boat or we may lose everything.’ It’s a real estate deal, and people try to get an edge,” she said. For example, she offered, St. John’s Partners could try to reneg on building affordable housing or giving money to the park. “I know the market for Russian oligarchs buying $100 million penthouses on 57th St. may have softened,” Glick said. “Though, frankly, I don’t know why anyone would buy north of 14th St. … But the Downtown market is hot. There was just something today about a $17 million loft selling on E. 17th St. Every block Downtown has a townhouse that is being gut-renovated.” Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, also viewed the Crain’s article as an attempt to “leverage” the ULURP process. “We all knew that this site could be developed as a large commercial development with no approvals,” the preservationist said. “And if the developer wants to do that, and forgo the incredibly lucrative approvals the city is offering, he can do that. But it would be unconscionable for the city to grant those extra approvals without the much-needed [landmarking and zoning] protections for the surrounding neighborhood we and thousands of Villagers have been demanding, not to mention the changes to the project we have been calling for to reduce its impact. “All that said, frankly the leaking of
this ‘story’ to developer-friendly Crain’s, that the developer is thinking of switching to an as-of-right project, just as the approvals go to the City Council, seems like a bit too much of a coincidence. It sounds less like a genuine rethinking of
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ening,” he said. “The [Crain’s] article is solid. The residential market is in a much more difficult place.” Asked how Westbrook could refuse to comment on an article raising concerns about the direction of its project, the source noted that no one from Westbrook was actually quoted in the original article. City Planning is set to vote on the ULURP rezoning application on Mon., Oct. 17. The City Council would then have 50 days for its own portion of the review, including a public hearing and a vote.
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September 22, 2016
Police Blotter Essex St. shooting
Police are still looking for two suspects who shot a 31-year-old man while robbing him in front of 146 Essex St., between Stanton and Rivington Sts., early on Tues., Aug. 9. According to police, a robber approached the victim around 3:25 a.m. and demanded his jewelry. When the man attempted to run away, the mugger’s sidekick blasted him once in the left leg. The first thug then removed the wounded man’s jewelry as he lay on the street. The thieves fled northbound on Essex St. in a red BMW. The victim was removed to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition. The first mugger was last seen wearing a Metallica T-shirt and baseball cap and has tattoos on both arms. The second man was wearing a multicolored T-shirt, glasses and also has tattooed arms. 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. All tips are confidential.
Preliminary investigation by the Police Department’s Collision Investigation Squad determined that a 2005 Mack Utility Roll-Off Container Carting Truck, operated by a 57-year-old male, was traveling northbound on Pike Slip at Division St. with a steady green light. DeJesus was crossing Pike Slip from east to west on the south side of Division St., against a pedestrian crossing signal and outside of the marked crosswalk, according to police. DeJesus “walked into the front passenger side of vehicle, and was knocked to the ground,” according to police. There are no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.
Thanks a lot, pal! Photo courtesy N.Y.P.D.
A sur veillance photo of the alleged shooter in an Essex St. armed robber y.
L.E.S. pedestrian dies
A 25-year-old man was deceived by a friend at the Pieces bar on Mon., Aug. 8. The man and his buddy were at the 8 Christopher St. watering hold around noon when the friend took the man’s credit card, police said. He used it multiple times between Aug. 8 and Sept. 12 when he was arrested, and found to be in possession of the plastic. Jeremy Leonard, 29, was charged with felony grand larceny.
A Lower East Side senior hit by a carting truck died earlier this month. On Mon., Aug. 22, at 10 a.m., police responding to a call of an injured pedestrian on Pike Slip at Division St. found a 67-year-old male lying in the street with body trauma. E.M.S. transported the victim to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased Tues., Sept. 6. He was identified Police said a man intentionally broke T:8.75” as Miguel DeJesus, of 64 Essex St. in the the front glass window of Highlands pub, Seward Park Extenstion public-housing at 150 W. 10th St., by punching it on Sat., Sept. 17, at 3:15 a.m. development.
Yvan Jestin, 29, was arrested for felony criminal mischief.
In-cab conflict An assault took place in a cab parked on the northeast corner of Seventh Ave. and W. 12th St. at 11:50 p.m. Fri., Sept. 16. The cab driver witnessed the incident and told police that the female passenger punched the male passenger, causing a bloody nose and substantial pain. The hack and the victim told police that the dispute was over spilled water. While cops were attempting to arrest the woman, she reportedly flailed her arms and legs, trying to avoid being handcuffed. Danielle Crenshaw, 26, was charged with misdemeanor assault.
Pervy perp An officer said that on Wed., Sept. 14, at 4:10 p.m., he saw a man place a cell phone under a woman’s dress to record her private parts at the subway station at Eighth Ave. and W. 14th St. The victim did not notice the occurrence. The man made statements acknowledging the offense, according to a report. David Horn, 67, was busted for felony unlawful surveillance.
Emily Siegel and Lincoln Anderson
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Sepetember 22, 2016
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September 22, 2016
Photos by Tequila Minsky
Spor ting cool camo on Friday, William Kelley, the executive director of the Village Alliance BID, was the A stor Alive! Fest’s cool emcee.
Talk about a twofer... Alan Cumming sang Adele on the fest’s opening night.
Let’s just face it — the new plazas will be a great space for events and enjoyment.
It was hardly square to spor t a “Cube” during the festival. Anticipation for the famed sculpture’s return keeps increasing with each — ugh! — new delay.
Astor comes alive at fest Dazzling local talent was on display on four stages on A stor Place and Cooper Square on Friday and Saturday to celebrate the area’s newly expanded pedestrian plazas. In a real showstopper, the first night saw Alan Cumming belt out Adele. Saturday featured more song, dance and theater, plus a “Cube”making workshop inspired by A stor Place’s iconic “The Alamo” sculpture a.k.a. “The Cube.” The landmark ar t work is still having the final touches put on its renovation before its return. Saturday’s enter tainment ended with a parade through the plazas from E. Ninth St. to E. Four th St., then around through the neighborhood, passing per forming-ar ts hot spots, and back up to A stor Place for a rousing finale, featuring members of “Blue Man Group” pounding on a giant drum. It really pounded the message home — the plazas will be a great space! One of the “Mosaic Man” Jim Power’s mosaic poles was unveiled, but there will be a formal dedication at later date when “The Cube” returns. The festival was sponsored by the Village Alliance business improvement district.
Sepetember 22, 2016
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September 22, 2016
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Letters to the Editor The future looks bright
Did D.I.D. duck Dodge?
To The Editor: Re “Niou tops Silver pick Cancel as Glick romps” (news article, Sept. 15): I’m glad to hear that Jenifer Rajkumar made such a strong showing. While she came in second, this brilliant young lawyer has a very bright political future ahead.
To The Editor: Re “Niou tops Silver pick Cancel as Glick romps” (news article, Sept. 15): I respect Sean Sweeney’s work in the community, and while I will continue to call him a friend, he has no right to claim Lee Berman as a Downtown Independent Democrats victory. A select few in the club blocked an endorsement meeting from being held. They were successful. Had a meeting taken place, it is almost certain Berman would not have won the club’s support.
Loves voting, but… To The Editor: Re “Niou tops Silver pick Cancel as Glick romps” (news article, Sept. 15): I am always happy when I vote because it is such a privilege. But I am also sad that our voting machines contain the results of our political machines. Judith Chazen Walsh
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Seriously, this is ‘winning’? To The Editor: Re “Niou tops Silver pick Cancel as Glick romps” (news article, Sept. 15): Paul Newell is not only extremely likable, he’s a real community leader with head and heart who has spent a lifetime helping people in need. Paul’s grasp of public policy and the legislative process — at the granular level — was and is the most impressive of all the candidates in this past primary. But this was no blowout. The “winning” candidate received less than one-third of the vote in what was still a pathetic turnout; meaning that most participating primary voters chose one of five other candidates. This is another argument for ranked-choice voting or the introduction of some form of proportional representation. Still, as District Leader Newell said about the winner in his gracious congratulatory speech to her, we hope this election augers a new progressive direction for our diverse district, and for Albany, with corruption in the public sphere a thing of the past.
Pier 40 soccer solution To The Editor: Re “Report: St. John’s project could go commercial, with no air-rights transfer” (thevillager.com, Sept. 16): New York City Football Club and Major League Soccer are still looking for a home. Just sayin.’ Going anywhere down the road with residential/ commercial development at this spot has always been a road to nowhere. The interests of the community are in no way the developers’ priority. First the Hudson River Park Trust claimed lower valuation of the air rights; now it’s a complete 180 turn away from air rights and residential. The so-called defenders of the Village need to allow something new. Let the Village breathe already, let the Village do something new. Repeal the air-rights transfer amendment now, and add an arena amendment. Now. It’s up to Deborah Glick, not the city. State government created this Trust, and they and Glick have to solve this problem. Save your pier, people. They’re not going to do it for you. Patrick Shields E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in lewgth, to email@example.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.
Some issues are more important than others. 18
Sepetember 22, 2016
A 9/11 tour de force: ‘It never goes away’ REPORTER’s notebook By Lincoln Anderson
ave you been down there? Have you seen what they’ve done?” I was speaking on the phone with Charles Wolf. He lost his wife, Katherine Susan Wolf, on 9/11. It was 10 days before the 15th anniversary of that fateful day. As it would turn out, it was also 16 days before last weekend’s terrorist bomb blast in Chelsea. (Everything is bookended, it seems, by terrorism these days... .) No, I admitted to him, I hadn’t really visited the new World Trade Center and the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. I had covered 9/11 — I saw one of the mighty towers fall, breathed in the toxic fallout — but haven’t closely covered all the rebuilding and rebirth as the area has risen from the ashes. “You should come down, I’ll give you the tour,” he said. I accepted his offer. I was overdue... . We planned to meet the next day. ... I asked him how he was doing emotionally as the anniversary approached. Just the fact that it has now been 15 years, in itself, is amazing. ‘The older you get, the faster time goes,” he reflected. Katherine was working on the 97th floor of World Trade Center Tower 1 that morning. The first hijacked jumbo jet hit Tower 1 at 8:46 a.m. Alhough she had a 9 o’clock starting time, she had been going in early, at 8:30 a.m., having just begun a new job as executive assistant to the president of Marsh & McClennan’s e-commerce division. The 767 came hurtling in at 400 miles per hour, banking left. When the plane hit the building, its impact zone stretched from the 93rd to 99th floor. Wolf, who is a pilot, figures the terrorist at the controls tilted the wings this way on purpose, so as to spread the damage as widely as possible. “Her desk was four desks from the window,” Wolf recalled of Katherine. “She was vaporized instantaneously...which is a blessing.” Everyone present in the company’s offices that day perished, nearly 360 people. Katherine was 40. They had married 12 years earlier, on Sept. 1 — which, coincidentally, was the day I first called Charlie for this column. “Actually, we got married today – in Swansea, Wales,” he said. “Today would have been our 27th anniversary.” Wolf, 62, an Amway salesman, has lived on Bleecker St. since the 1970s. A Buffalo native, he took a job with Kodak in New York City because his girlfriend TheVillager.com
Photo by Tequila Minsky
Charlie Wolf touching his wife, Katherine’s, name on the 9/11 memorial. Hers is the first name listed under the victims of World Trade Center 1, the nor th tower.
from college lived here. She eventually dumped him for her tennis coach. He would later meet Katherine at St. Joseph’s Church on Sixth Ave. Wolf was a member of the Village Light Opera Group, which performed there, and she was in town with an English troupe that was doing a production at the Village church. On 9/11, Wolf instinctively knew something was wrong when he heard the first jet flying low over his apartment. He had
‘That’s my wife. ... I always give her a kiss.’ Charles Wolf
learned how to fly when he was 20, so he could tell. He went out on his balcony for a better listen. “It was a twin-engine jet, with the throttles at maximum — like at takeoff,” he recalled thinking. “I could tell it was only 1,000 feet off the ground. I stepped back into my apartment, and that was when I heard the kaboom.” In his pajamas and bare feet, he ran out onto Thompson St., and someone told him the World Trade Center had been hit. “I called up the F.B.I.,” Wolf said, “be-
cause I knew 911 would be busy. I said, ‘That was a twin-engine — that was deliberate. ...’ ” That phone call was the start of Wolf’s involvement with 9/11 — from dealing with the devastating grief of Katherine’s loss, to joining other family members in advocacy work, ranging from fighting for compensation to the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum to, most recently, rallying behind a bill to allow family members to sue Saudi Arabia, the country from which 15 of the 19 hijackers hailed. After the W.T.C. fell, Wolf, unlike many others, didn’t tape up missing posters for Katherine. “I didn’t understand why people were putting them up,” he said, “because I knew where the plane had hit, and I knew she was gone.”
Back on the bike... I covered the 9/11 attack as a reporter for The Villager. I remember biking down past St. Vincent’s, where hospital staff were standing on Seventh Ave. in their green scrubs. I paused there with them, and we watched the Twin Towers, sporting gaping holes, as the huge buildings smoked and burned. I remember watching from the Battery Park City ball fields, as a long sliver of a corner of Tower 2 suddenly just fell away into the sky, as if in slow motion. My view was blocked by Tower 1, so I didn’t immediately realize the first building had collapsed. But soon, an enormous, ugly, roiling green-yellow-brown-and-gray ball of smoke rose over the ball fields’ southern end. It just kept growing and growing
in size, rolling toward us. I remember biking down South St. with a flimsy spray mask on my face — it didn’t even seal around the edges — that I’d gotten at a triage post set up in Tribeca outside the then-Travelers Building. As I pedaled past the old Fulton Fish Market, the air was full of “brown rain.” It was W.T.C. fallout — little fluttering particles of cement, asbestos, glass, yes, probably human bodies, too, and who knows what else? The tan flakes stung my lungs and eyes, but soon my nerve endings just went numb, and I didn’t feel any burning anymore. I pedaled on through the dust-covered streets, trying to edge closer to the W.T.C. ... Eventually, though, police corralled me onto a tugboat that evacuated me and a few others to Jersey City. ...
The Pit and Point Zero One night, a few days later, following behind a hard hat and a guy wearing a Department of Corrections jacket, I snuck into Ground Zero. I watched the surreal scene as police officers and others manned a bucket brigade, hoping to dig survivors out of the rubble of The Pit. A doctor there, cynically — though, I suppose, realistically — told me there would be no survivors, but the bucket brigade gave people hope. ... I remember the rescue workers — soon redubbed recovery workers — coming up the West Side Highway in buses at night, past “Point Zero,” outside our office, which was then at Canal St. As I typed up articles about the disaster, people would Wolf continued on p. 28 September 22, 2016
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The transcendent tension of Tammy Faye Starlite’s shape-shifting set list is just what America needs BY TRAV S.D.
ew things in this life are as pleasurable to this observer as a Tammy Faye Starlite performance. I first became aware of her in the late ’90s, when she began performing her faux Christian country character at nightclubs and performance art spaces around town (mostly Downtown venues, where her envelope-pushing antics get the most traction). As crazy as the right wing is in our times, it can sometimes slip our memory how unprecedentedly loony they seemed during the age of the Contract with America, the Culture Wars, local amateur militias, and religious cults. Tammy (whose real last name is Lang) tapped into that craziness with a literal vengeance, her satiric wit as sharp as a dagger made of crystal. Supernaturally gifted as a writer, actress, and singer, she’s always seemed to me the foremost heir apparent to Andy Kaufman. She gets into the head of a character, usually an insane one, and stays there. In subsequent years she used both her musical gift and her shape-shifting ability to inhabit a series of popular show business characters, from Nico, to Marianne Faithfull, to Mick Jagger, performing them to great acclaim at places like Lincoln Center and Joe’s Pub. But the times have gotten crazy again — perhaps crazier than ever. Indeed, there could be no more auspicious time to bring back “Tammy Faye Classic,” the country Tammy Faye, to skewer the times with her bodacious barbecue fork. And so she has, with “Tammy Faye Starlite Presents Holy War 2016: The New Regime,” in weekly repertory at Pangea through the end of October. We caught the show at its opening on September 16, and it was everything we were hoping and longing for. Clad in virginal white and clear plastic platform shoes that add four inches to her height, she looks as though she were already dressed for the heaven she is convinced she belongs in. But she proves to be a devil in the guise of an angel. She comes out swinging with a version of “El Shaddai,” a Christian song written PHOTO BY BOB GRUEN
STARLITE continued on p. 22 TheVillager.com TheVillager.com
And not a moment too soon: Tammy Faye resurrects the perfect persona for our troubled times. September September22, 22,2016 2016
STARLITE continued from p. 21
in Hebrew and mostly associated with Amy Grant, who recorded it in 1982. It’s the perfect song for this act. Lang is Jewish; undergirding her ire when she plays Starlite is an omnipresent current of tension between the two religions. One of my favorite moments is when she started speaking in tongues, with a good deal of Hebrew flavoring the babble. And how can we forget that the 1969 glam-Christian classic “Spirit in the Sky,” which Tammy covers was written by a man named Norman Greenbaum? Lang lampoons the dominant culture with an outsider’s resentment, which is somehow also always mixed with a connoisseur’s appreciation. Country artists (or many of them) have a knack for uttering the most unfortunate things while making genuinely beautiful music. This is one of Lang’s strong suits no matter what character she’s playing. She quite fearlessly “crosses the line” again and again, garnering guffaws and gasps in equal measure. And while the song lyrics are impressively witty, so is her patter, which goes on to epic lengths at times, as though every song contained Barbara Jean’s nervous breakdown in the movie “Nashville.” It’s never a Tammy Faye show unless she goes too far at least once, and you can hear a pin drop in the audience (though I hasten to point out that I cheer her on every time she does it). In the performance I saw, she compared the pneumonia-filled lungs of “Mr. Hillary Clinton” [sic] to the falling Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. She dials the right-wing rhetoric all the way to Nazism in a song called “White as Snow.” Her character radiates the selfhating misogyny so peculiar to women on the American right, reflected by her cover of Jeannie C. Riley’s “The Rib,” and her self-penned “God Has Lodged a Tenant in My Uterus.”
PHOTO BY ALBIE MITCHELL
Tammy Faye has gazed into the cultural abyss, emerging with enough new material for at least 19 nervous breakdowns.
Platitudes about family are invoked ad nauseam, even as a palimpsest of incest, pedophilia, failed marriages, promiscuity, drug abuse and alcoholism is plainly visible beneath. She claims her mother had 16 babies in eight years, and that she lost some of her six ex-husbands to divorce, others to NASCAR. Much like Sacha Baron Cohen (of “Borat” fame), another artist she resembles (at least in this respect), she delivers it all straight and with the utmost seriousness. She is playing this part, and never undermines it with self-conscious attitudinizing or apology. It’s on you to get what she’s really saying. That’s why satire is so risky.
Theater for the New City • 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net
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September 22, Sepetember 22,2016 2016
Much of the joyous experience of her show comes from the crack band behind her: David Dunton, piano; Richard Feridun, guitar; Eszter Balint, fiddle. On the night I caught them, Lang’s husband and sometime collaborator, Keith Hartel, subbed on bass and sang a number as “Jim Rob,” a part normally performed by Eric Drysdale, who will be performing most of the run. The band is as witty as Tammy is, vamping as long as they need to under the patter, and punctuating the lyrics with just the right Nashville touches, but never slammed in your face with a sledgehammer. For you see, the central irony of Tammy Faye Starlite is that one of the most “tasteless” of performers around is gifted with extraordinary taste. Seeing her show during this harrowing election season is a wonderfully cathartic antidote to this season of hypocrites. “Tammy Faye Starlite Presents Holy War 2016: The New Regime” is performed at 7pm, Fridays, Sept. 16, 23, 30 and Oct. 7, 14, 28. At Pangea (178 Second Ave., btw. E. 11th & E. 12th Sts.). For reservations ($25 cover, $15 food/beverage minimum), visit pangeanyc.com.
PHOTO BY ALBIE MITCHELL
Hebrew flavors the babble, when this Christian country singer speaks in tongues. TheVillager.com TheVillager.com
Buhmann on Art Philip Pearlstein draws upon his life as a young soldier BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN
eaturing drawings from the 1940s by the revered realist painter Philip Pearlstein, “WWII Captured on Paper” manifests as a stunning historic document. Made from observation and personal experience, the works tell of the physical and emotional realities of a G.I. in an infantry replacement unit during the Second World War. Pearlstein recalls: “During my freshman year at Carnegie, most of the male student body took the introduction to military training [ROTC] instead of gym, and at the end of the school year, in June 1943, we all met at Fort Meade, Maryland. After being interviewed, all of my friends were assigned to the Signal Corps.” Already recognized for his artistic talent, Pearlstein was able to avoid the same fate, perhaps saving his life. In the National Scholastic High School Art Contest, he had been awarded first and second prize for two paintings that were subsequently featured in the July 16, 1941 issue of Life magazine. “On instinct, I had taken a copy of the issue with me,” he explained, “and I showed it to the officer who interviewed me. He seemed impressed, but I was assigned to the Infantry rather than the Signal Corps, packed into a very crowded train, and sent to Fort McClellan, Alabama, where four months of violent physical activity, training in a very hot, sun-blinding summer, transformed me from a pudgy, non-athletic person into a surprisingly muscular G.I.” Between 1943 and 1946 Pearlstein created almost 100 drawings, watercolors and sketches, which are shown in their entirety here, and meant to be sold as a complete group (hopefully to a major public institution). Vividly installed in tableau-like fashion, the faceted works capture various stages, ranging from basic training at Camp Blanding, to a ship convoy to Italy, to Pearlstein’s time stationed in Italy during and after fighting. They are complemented by signs and charts, which Pearlstein made in the visual-aids shop at the time. Represented in such esteemed permanent collections as of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Pearlstein’s oeuvre is well known. However, this body of work will prove a discovery to all and provide a rare glimpse into the artist’s early personal life, even to those well familiar with his work. “G.I. Philip Pearlstein: WWII Captured on Paper” is on view through Oct. 15, Tues – Fri., 10am–6pm, at Betty Cuningham Gallery (15 Rivington St., btw. Bowery & Chrystie), in their Sidecar space next door. Call 212-242-2772 or visit bettycuninghamgallery.com. TheVillager.com TheVillager.com
Philip Pearlstein: “Convoy to Italy XI” (1944. Pen and ink on paper. 4 13/16 x 6 5/8 in.).
Philip Pearlstein: “G.I.’s at Marina di Pisa Breakwater” (1944-46. Watercolor on paper. 14 x 18 in.). September September22, 22,2016 2016
Must-Play video games beckon before the holidays
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“World of Warcraft: Legion” is an expansion that’s been received warmly by fans of the MMO.
BY CHARLES BATTERSBY
T IMAGE VIA BUNGIE
“Rise of Iron,” the new DLC for “Destiny,” continues the game’s course correction after a rocky launch; updated features include new multiplayer modes.
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With “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided,” players continue to view the world from the perspective of the maligned augmented humans of the game’s future.
Sepetember September 22, 22,2016 2016
he months ahead will see a glut of new video games scrambling to be the must-have holiday gift. However, recent releases have brought a swarm of titles that will keep players entertained until the big holiday rush arrives — and beyond. Among them are early Game of The Year contenders, high-definition rereleases of classics, and long-running hits that are still going strong, thanks to new content updates.
WORLD OF WARCRAFT: LEGION “World of Warcraft” (“WoW”) wasn’t the first Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game, but it has dominated the other MMO’s for 12 years, with over five million people still subscribed at the end of 2015. Every couple of years it gets a big update, and its most recent one, “Legion,” was just released. Many “WoW” fans consider it the best one yet. “Legion” is a separate purchase from the main “WoW” game, and its missions are intended for highlevel characters. Purchasing it will grant players a “Level Boost” token that can instantly bring any character to level 100. There is also a new
playable class called the “Demon Hunter,” which starts at level 98. Demon Hunters have a special introductory set of missions that will let new players begin their adventure with “Legion,” instead of spending months leveling up from square one. However, it is strongly recommended that new players do level up a character the hard way before tackling “Legion.” For former “WoW” players who have not logged on recently, the Demon Hunters are a compelling reason to jump back in. They are elves who have gained demonic powers, which grant them abilities not available to other classes. They can double jump, sprout bat wings for gliding, and wield a wide set of offensive and defensive powers. Their versatility and fast movement make them an excellent choice for soloing through the new content.
DESTINY: RISE OF IRON Back in 2014, “Destiny” was a hotly anticipated new game from Bungie, the team that made the original “Halo” games. “Destiny” has a lot in common with its ancestor: It’s a multiplayer shooter with a sci-fi GAMES continued on p. 25 TheVillager.com TheVillager.com
GAMES continued from p. 24
setting and a richly detailed story. However, it distinguishes itself from many other shooters by using elements of MMO games, like “World of Warcraft.” When it was first released, it won several Game of the Year awards, but also disappointed some of Bungie’s hardcore fans. In the year after its release, “Destiny” had several major updates that added new content, altered some of the mechanics, and even removed the voice-over acting of Peter Dinklage (of “Game of Thrones” fame). Each of the paid downloadable content (DLC) packs received increasingly positive response from players and critics, and the latest big update for the game, “Rise of Iron,” arrived on September 20. “Destiny: Rise of Iron” added more content to just about every aspect of the game. There is a new single-player campaign with new enemies and locations, new cooperative and competitive multiplayer maps, and more loot (including a giant flaming ax). It’s the perfect excuse to grab a game whose launch controversies prevented many potential fans from ever trying it out.
DEUS EX: MANKIND DIVIDED The “Deus Ex” franchise has an illustrious lineage dating back to the late ’90s. The series is set in the near future, where every conspiracy theory ever dreamed up is actually true. The newest game, “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided,” arrived last month, and it continues the story of Adam Jensen, a cybernetically augmented government agent, who fights cyborg terrorists, even as he fights prejudice against people with cybernetic augmentations. The subtitle, “Mankind Divided,” refers to the way that people with augmentations have become second-class citizens in the future. Jensen has cool cyborg superpowers, but most “augs” are just ordinary people with mundane augmentations, like prosthetic limbs. Despite this, they are viewed with suspicion, due to an incident where many augs were hacked and went crazy. Because the playable character is augmented, the game gives players a sense of what it might be like to live on the bottom rung of an unfair society. Players then get to choose how Jensen responds to the countless injustices that he and other augs face.
BIOSHOCK: THE COLLECTION When people debate whether or TheVillager.com TheVillager.com
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“Bioshock: The Collection” gathers all three remastered “Bioshock” games in one package, including the steampunk-influenced “Infinite,” pictured above.
not video games are art, the game that takes the vanguard is “Bioshock.” It has been 10 years since the first “Bioshock” game arrived, and two sequels were released in the ensuing decade. All three games, along with their DLC, have been bundled together in a new high-definition format for modern game consoles. People who never played this franchise should consider it a must-play experience. Gamers who actually did run through the games in the past also have a reason to grab this edition: a new director’s commentary featuring Ken Levine and Shawn Robertson of “Bioshock” developer Irrational Games. We spoke with Levine about his experience making a commentary track a decade after the first game was released. “The thing that I, myself, remember from the commentary session is how much other people remembered that I didn’t,” he said of his old masterwork. “I found it interesting how you can just bury stuff in your head, and how when someone summons it back up, it kind of comes barreling at you like something rising from the dead.” Longtime fans of the franchise will likewise be able to scour the games again, to see what memories they left buried on the ocean floor.
THE WITCHER III: GAME OF THE YEAR EDITION “The Witcher” is a series of sword and sorcery books from Poland. Although it’s essentially the “Lord of the Rings” of Poland, the series was mostly unheard of
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The celebrated “The Witcher III” takes a victory lap with its “Game of the Year Edition.”
in America until the books were adapted into video games. The first game was a cult hit on the PC, but the second and third “Witcher” games grew exponentially in popularity. Witchers are professional monster hunters, and the game trilogy tells the story of a Witcher named Geralt. His use of alchemy has made him more than human, although most people see him as less than human. His magical powers make him the guy to call when a griffon needs to be killed, but once the job is done, villagers can’t wait to get Geralt out of town. He faces prejudice similar to what players find in “Deus Ex.”
While “The Witcher III” won numerous Game of the Year awards in 2015, it continued to release DLC packs in 2016. This is the rare case of DLC being considered just as good as the main game. The game and all of its DLC have just been released together in the “Game of the Year Edition.” This is Geralt’s final adventure, and much of the story revolves around events from the previous two games, so players are encouraged to play them as well. Alas, there is no convenient collection of all three games bundled together, but the first two installments are easily purchased online. September September22, 22,2016 2016
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A 9/11 and W.T.C. tour de force: ‘It never goes away’; Wolf continued from p. 19
“I just knew, if there was one body, there would be more,” he said. Wolf urged the city to “look under the streets,” since the destroyed area had been repaved to allow construction vehicles better access. In the end, the Bloomberg administration spent $60 million on additional searching. Wolf and other family members also protested outside a White House Holiday Dinner to demand that a bill to appoint a national intelligence director be passed. The director was needed, Wolf said, since, “If the F.B.I. and C.I.A. had been talking to one another [before 9/11], they would have been able to find out was going on.” More recently, last year, Wolf testified before the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, advocating for funding to keep the annual Tribute in Light display proudly beaming up to the heavens during the anniversary.
be out there, cheering the heroes on. I could see their candles flickering yellow in the darkness. ... And there was the toxic smell of the burning rubble. And the incredible thin plume of black smoke that hovered over Ground Zero — for was it as long as two weeks? I recall the shiver of fear I felt for the first couple of days afterward entering Grand Central Station — which I figured was a target, too — to catch the train to work Downtown. But that faded... .
W.T.C. phoenix dove As for why I hadn’t really been back to the World Trade Center, well, for starters, The Villager doesn’t generally cover that far down into Lower Manhattan. We have a sister paper, Downtown Express, that has covered all the rebuilding in painstaking detail. And, like many New Yorkers, I don’t like to wallow in things — I try to move on. The memories of 9/11 are heavy. That said, again, I gladly accepted Charlie’s invitation to take “the tour.” After meeting at the impressive new Fulton St. transportation hub, we started with the Oculus, another, far, far grander new transportation hub, designed by Santiago Calatrava. It’s definitely...different. It’s supposed to resemble a dove’s wings. But actually it reminded me of “Prometheus,” the latest “Aliens” movie. Its colossal soaring white ribs made me think of the big, bone-white humanoids from the Ridley Scott sci-fi flick, who, I imagined, would look right at home here. Steve Cuozzo, writing in the New York Post, said the Oculus and, in fact, much of what has been built down at the former Ground Zero, essentially amounts to a pricey mall. And it’s true — the Oculus is lined with high-end shops. But it’s clearly popular with people — especially tourists, from the looks of it. It’s an impressive structure, and seemingly tailor-made for our new selfie-centric world. Everyone snaps photos of themselves there. Wolf, who loves the Oculus, said, “It’s totally gorgeous.” In fact, he’s a big booster of the entire new W.T.C. site. “They took lemons and made lemonade,” he said. I really liked W.T.C. Tower 4, designed by architect Fumihiko Maki, whose special glass “disappears” into the sky and reflects the passing clouds. There of course is Tower 1, which had been dubbed “The Freedom Tower,” though is no longer called that. I asked Wolf if he likes the tutti-frutti pole atop it, whose colors can be changed — like the top of the Empire State Building — to commemorate a special day or event. He doesn’t think it’s cheesy, though, noting, “We have another icon we can use.”
Fight for families’ rights Wolf formerly was heavily involved in fighting for the rights of victims’ family
Sepetember 22, 2016
Photo by Tequila Minsky
During the photo shoot for this column, Charlie Wolf happened to bump into Michael Arad, the designer of the World Trade Center memorial, “Reflecting Absence.” Arad, who lives in the East Village, “has a wonder ful soul,” Wolf said.
Wolf led me through the small new Liberty Park, at the south end of the site. The battered sculpture “The Sphere,” by Fritz Koenig, which once anchored the W.T.C. plaza, will be brought back here. “It does not belong on the memorial plaza,” he said of the iconic artwork. Next, it was on to the memorial plaza, “Reflecting Absence,” with its two waterfalls on the exact footprints of the Twin Towers. Wolf, who is an excellent docent of the entire site, explained that the white swamp oaks that dot the memorial, once grown, “will form a cathedral-like canopy” overhead. Around the memorial ringing the Tower 2 waterfall are the names of all the first responders — including the staggering 343 firefighters — who died on 9/11, covering nearly two full sides of the square. Also around this pool are the victims of Flight 93, who managed to down their plane in Shanksville, Pa., before it could crash into its intended target, possibly the White House, Wolf said.
Photo courtesy Charles Wolf
Charlie Wolf with his late wife, Katherine.
members. In 2002, he set up a Web site, FixTheFund.org, which pushed to extend the timeframe that people had to seek medical treatment after the attack and still qualify for compensation; in the end, the period was lengthened from 24 hours to 96 hours. Family members “were being portrayed as greedy,” Wolf recalled. “People were
seeing the Victims Compensation Fund as charity — not rightfully deserved.” He also advocated for restarting the search for victims’ remains after a Con Ed vacuum truck sucked a skeleton out of a manhole near the W.T.C. Wolf met with Bloomberg administration officials, who assured him the search would recommence.
I looked for Mark Bingham’s name, and eventually found it. A burly gay rugby player, he was one of the group of passengers who — with a cry of “Let’s roll!” — stormed Flight 93’s cockpit, forcing the terrorists to crash the plane before it could strike the capitol. I remembered interviewing Bingham’s mother, Alice Hoagland, a former flight attendant, on the phone about his heroism, and interviewing his roommate in Chelsea. “These are the largest manmade waterfalls in the world,” Wolf said, as we made our way around the twin squares. A woman placing flowers at the memorial asked Wolf to shoot her photo. Her brother-in-law, Gerard Baptiste, was one of 10 firefighters from Engine 33, on Great wolf continued on p. 29 TheVillager.com
Return to, re-emergence from former Ground Zero Wolf continued from p. 28
Jones St. in Noho, who died responding to the disaster. “I lost my wife,” Wolf said, smiling gently, before snapping her picture. The names around the Tower 1 waterfall memorial are packed together more densely, Wolf explained, since there were more fatalities in that building. “No one got out above the 91st floor,” he said. Charlie showed me Katherine’s name. “That’s my wife. ... I always give her a kiss,” he said, bending over and touching his lips to her name etched in the bronze. As for why hers is the first name listed among the victims of Tower 1 — the memorial’s names are not listed alphabetically — it would seem to be an acknowledgment of Wolf’s leading role as a family member. However, he said it wasn’t his doing. “They said, ‘Where do you want her?’ ” he recalled. “I said, ‘Wherever you want.’ ”
Press and politicians I looked for the name of someone I knew, Doug Gardner. I knew him as a great hoops player and genuinely nice guy in the annual Fire Island Basketball Tournament, which I had started playing in when I worked on the Fire Island News as a young reporter. I actually didn’t know until 9/11 that Doug had been a top executive at Cantor Fitzgerald. I found his name, Douglas Benjamin Gardner, on the southeast corner of the Tower 1 memorial, grouped with the other Cantor execs. On
this 9/11, a veteran ball player from the tournament wrote his memories of Doug and sent them out on the group e-mail list. I attached a photo I took of Doug’s name on the memorial, then hit “reply all.” On the corner diagonally across the Tower 1 pool from there is the name of Berry Berenson Perkins, the wife of Anthony Perkins, of “Psycho” fame. After 9/11, the late Jerry Tallmer wrote a column for The Villager about how he had interviewed her, and how enraged he was at the terrorists who had killed her. The memorial’s corners seemed to be powerful spots.
Go-to media guy Affable, upbeat and articulate, Wolf has been one of the go-to 9/11 family members for the media. “I’ve been on every television station in the city,” he told me. “I’ve been in every newspaper up and down the East Coast. ... The week that bin Laden was killed, I did 46 press interviews.” He’s also met all the politicians on their visits to the W.T.C. site over the years. After the memorial’s dedication in September 2011, he was particularly moved when former Governor George Pataki extended himself to him. “Pataki put his arm around my shoulder and said, ‘C’mon, Charles, let’s go look at Katherine’s name.’ He’s a great guy.” President Obama met with family members in May 2014 when the 9/11 museum was dedicated. Three years earlier, Obama had come to Lower Manhattan to meet with Wolf and other family members
Photo by Lincoln Anderson
On Sept. 11, 2016, at the “Reflecting Absence” memorial, looking out over the water fall on the former site of W.T.C. 1, from the southeast corner where the names of Cantor Fitzgerald executives are listed. Cantor lost 658 people in the attack, the largest toll of any company.
after Osama bin Laden was killed. I had to press Wolf, who is a registered Republican, to get his thoughts on Obama. “His words to the group were very sober, not for media consumption,” he said, adding, “Yeah, he got it right.”
Chuck was the man
Photo by Tequila Minsky
The 9/11 museum features an exposed section of the massive World Trade Center slurr y wall, which keeps the Hudson River from flooding the area, which is built on landfill. Looking like giant pushpins, the tiebacks are enormous, long bolts that anchor the wall in place. At right is the final beam removed from The Pit of the destroyed W.T.C., inscribed with the huge number of firefighters, 343, who died in the catastrophic attack. TheVillager.com
But he does like one Democrat immensely, Chuck Schumer. “If we needed help, Senator Schumer was always right there,” he said. Hillary Clinton, as a senator, on the other hand, he felt was always slower to respond. “Hillary would wait two weeks — maybe testing the waters, checking the political winds,” he said. “We don’t know. That’s her style.” At the same time, he acknowledged, “Hillary, when you talk to her one-on-one, she is focused on you.” Wolf fondly recalled one time when 9/11 family members were holding a news conference on the Upper East Side, but ABC News couldn’t get its van there on time. Schumer told Wolf to hop into his car with him and they would drive over to ABC’s studios on the West Side and film a segment there. “We were going through Central Park and Schumer told his driver, ‘Put your red light on.’ He put the red light on his dash-
board,” Wolf recalled.
Into the museum I had already spent a few hours touring the W.T.C. site with Wolf, but he persuaded me to pop into the 9/11 museum “for just 15 minutes.” Fifteen minutes turned into three hours — and could have easily been more, if we didn’t have to leave at closing time. There’s so much to see and absorb, from an exposed portion of the massive W.T.C. slurry wall — which keeps the Hudson River from flooding the landfilled site — to a section of the W.T.C. antenna — up close, it’s thicker than I would have imagined. There is the destroyed Ladder 3 fire truck from the firehouse at 108 E. 13th St., which lost 12 men on Sept. 11, 2001. The rig’s ladder, melted in the inferno, lies drooped over the front cab in a sideways “S,” like a squiggle of wet spaghetti. At one point, Wolf was gazing at a photo of a man who jumped from one of the top floors of one of the towers. “These people did not commit suicide,” he stressed. “They had no choice. They weren’t going to survive — just [wanted to] go faster, less painfully. I just thank God that my wife didn’t have to make that WOLF continued on p. 31 September 22, 2016
Sepetember 22, 2016
Down to bedrock at 9/11 anniversary WolF continued from p. 29
choice,” he said, again stating his belief that his wife was killed instantly.
‘Hugs are wonderful’ A tourist from Florida overhead Wolf and spontaneously embraced him, breaking out in tears. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” she said, as she hugged him. Wolf told the couple to go by Katherine’s name on the memorial and “give her a kiss.” “It felt good. Hugs are wonderful,” he said afterward. A reiki patient and practitioner, he firmly believes in the healing power of touch. Another photo showed a woman holding down her skirt as she leaped off Tower 1 somewhere around the 100th floor. “That’s what Katherine would have done,” he noted. Yet, it wasn’t her, rather a woman from Cantor Fitzgerald, he had been told. Plus, Katherine was wearing different clothes, a business suit, he said. Somehow, though, he had felt compelled to ask. One alcove in the museum has audio recordings from the doomed Flight 93. I was amazed at the bravery, especially of several women passengers, who left final messages for their loved ones. Their voices were mostly calm and unwavering, even as they knew they probably wouldn’t survive.
Emotional sucker punch Wolf suddenly teared up after watching a screen showing a loop of the Budweiser 9/11 Super Bowl XXXVI ad. Only aired once, the team of Clydesdales trot to within view of the empty W.T.C. site, then silently kneel in respect. “Sometimes you get suckerpunched,” he said. “I mean, I love animals. ...” Understanding so intimately the feelings that can overwhelm a person in this sort of space, Wolf said it was his idea to advocate for a way to duck out quickly, if needed. His suggestion was accepted. “Along the way, there are places to exit early, if it’s too much for you,” he explained. “They call them ‘emotional escape routes.’ ”
Down to bedrock Finally, we arrived at the room where all the victims’ photos are displayed, entirely covering the walls from floor to ceiling. Looking at the sheer number of faces, the magnitude of the loss sunk in for me once again. TheVillager.com
“This is what makes it a memorial,” he said. The photo of Katherine is there, “a Welsh redhead,” Wolf said fondly. He tapped her image on a touchscreen. We then entered another room. Inside, a glass floor floats over bedrock — the very bottom of the former W.T.C. site. Photos of Katherine alone and with Charlie projected onto a wall with a brief text. In turn, I called up my friend Doug on the touchscreen, and was glad to see that his brief bio includes that he was a basketball player. As the museum was closing, we exited up the long ramp to the recorded music of bagpipes, which seemed fitting. Wolf paused to chat with security guard Bridget Mills. “God bless you, that you came here. A lot of New Yorkers don’t even come to the plaza,” she said, referring to the outdoor memorial, which is free. “I’m spiritual, and I feel a spirituality here,” she added. One other thing about the museum, Wolf had explained to me earlier: After some debate, the decision ultimately was made to include photos of the 19 terrorist hijackers. But their images are shown very small — about the size of baseball cards — and they are positioned at knee level. The viewer is “looking down on them,” Wolf noted. Yet, after watching a video showing police selflessly helping people flee from the burning Towers, Wolf stressed the need to stop stereotyping — of any sort. Period. “It’s just too bad that the bad apples are getting all the attention,” he said. “People have to stop painting all cops as bad, painting all Muslims as bad.”
‘This time was tough’ On Sept. 11, I caught up with Wolf on his cell phone after he had returned from a Cantor Fitzgerald memorial event he had been invited to this year for the first time. He was back up on Bleecker St., downing some spicy dumplings and sesame noodles at Uncle Ted’s. Asked how this 15th anniversary of 9/11 had compared to others, Wolf said, though it’s gotten less painful as the years go by, this one “was very rough. I was getting angry and I cried,” he said. “Honestly, it’s probably good, the emotion is coming out. “The last time I really had a tough year was 2009,” he reflected. “Most of the time when the bells ring, I’m O.K., but this time it ripped right through me.” At the memorial, a bell is solemnly rung twice, marking the time each jet hit the towers. He said he had gotten “some wonderful hugs” from people at the ceremony, including, again, Pataki (who may well
have a future in reiki). Wolf, who is Episcopalian, also gave two scriptural readings — one from Jeremiah, another from Timothy — at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on the anniversary. As for trying to move on, Wolf said his father, who lost his own wife, Wolf’s stepmother, confided to him, “It never goes away.” Wolf said he did date someone starting in 2003 for a few years, but she broke up with him. Part of the reason they split, he feels, was because he came down with 9/11-related symptoms from the toxic air that wafted over the Village after the attack. “That stuff stayed in my body — I guess, because of my emotional state,” he said. “I couldn’t climb up stairs. At one point I could barely walk a block.” Using alternative therapies, like acupuncture and homeopathy, though, Wolf began to feel better. “I’m trying to get back in the dating world,” he said. “It’s not easy. You gotta start from scratch.”
Chelsea — ‘so minor’ Less than a week after this year’s 9/11 anniversary, New York was rocked by another terrorist attack, when a bomb blew up on W. 23rd St. in Chelsea this past Saturday night, injuring 29 people. Luckily, no one was killed or seriously injured. Sunday night, I asked Wolf, as a 9/11 family member, for his reaction. “Anytime this kind of stuff happens, you get a little bit of ‘Oh, gosh’ — thankful you’re not there, thankful you didn’t get hurt,” he said. However, he added, “This is so minor compared to what happened [on 9/11]. But there are still people out there that want to kill us. “After what I’ve been through — you were there, you saw it,” he told me, “this is nothing compared to that. I’ve been through the mill. I’m still here.” I had been expecting a different response from him, but I think I understood where he was coming from. Going on the tour of the W.T.C. site with Wolf brought me back to those wrenching days of 9/11, to a disaster on an epic, world-changing scale, the likes of which we had never seen. I asked Wolf again on Monday night for his thoughts, after the alleged Chelsea bomber had now been arrested and linked to another blast. “It’s terrorism, but nothing compared to 9/11,” he said. “No deaths, 29 injuries, with the injured out of the hospital the same night, and a small amount of property damage. “This is small potatoes,” he said. “The media wants to gin it up.” Asked if anyone from the media had called him for comment about it, he said, “You did!” September 22, 2016
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