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

October 6, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 40

MANHATTAN VERSION Inside: Albee...Elizabeth Garden...Rivington House...Yetis!




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October 6, 2016





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

October 06, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 40

In Elizabeth St. Garden end around, mayor offers West Side park BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


wo weeks after 300 Little Italy-area residents rallied to save the Elizabeth St. Garden — urging that an affordable housing project slated for it be switched to an alternative West Side site — the de Blasio administration has announced plans to develop the second lot as a park,

throwing a wrench into the hoped-for alternative. Some affordable housing might be built on the West Side site, too. Meanwhile, supporters of the Elizabeth St. Garden just want to keep it simple — and keep their garden: They are asking to put the new housing on Hudson St. and keep the alGarden continued on p. 20

Village years helped shape Albee’s genius as leading playwright BY ANDY HUMM


he artistic achievement of Edward Albee was celebrated and chronicled in lengthy obituaries at his Sept. 16 death at age 88 after a short illness. He was far and away America’s greatest living playwright, and it is hard to say who deserves that title now.

And while his openness about being gay and his early Greenwich Village years have certainly been noted, these factors were arguably the source of much of his genius, something not widely acknowledged. It may be that the significance of both are difficult to appreciate in an age when being out and albee continued on p. 16

Photo by William Alatriste

First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris was on the hot seat at last Thursday’s Cit y Council oversight hearing into the Rivington House mess.

Pike St. project will ‘replace’ Rivington House: De Blasio BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


ast Thursday was definitely one action-packed day in the ongoing saga of Rivington House on the Lower East Side. City councilmembers grilled the first deputy mayor, as well as the corporation counsel and another top administration official, in hopes of somehow getting to the bottom of the murky real estate scandal.

Meanwhile, midway through the lengthy hearing — in fact, right after First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris had mercifully gotten off the hot seat — Mayor Bill de Blasio blasted out a press release, announcing that the city would be building a new senior affordable housing and healthcare facility on the Lower East Side. This new facility, the release said, would “replace shuttered Rivington House,” the former

AIDS hospice that was shockingly lost when the city quietly lifted a deed restriction limiting the property to nonprofit healthcare use. The deed restriction’s lifting, in turn, paved the way for the Forsyth St. property — a handsome former school building — to be sold, and then promptly flipped, at a huge profit, for market-rate Rivington continued on p. 8

9/11 tiles return to Village’s Mulry Square��������p. 6 Does rabbi have a prayer vs. Hoylman?����������� p. 14 Yetis invade Flatiron!������������� p. 19

Sweet spot: Rose and Basil, a new vegan dessert cafe at 107 E. Seventh St., seems to be the place to be for hip performance artists. The spot has already been open a little while, but they threw an open house for media types and others last week. Among those munching on the delicious in-house-made concoctions were Elizabeth Ruf-Maldonado and Angel Eyedealism. What was being served looked like little round towers, but those are just for special events. Usually, the cakes are a little bigger and wider and sell for around 10 bucks. And they’re very good! Varieties range from hazelnut and chocolate to matcha (green tea) and more. The owner, Ioana Holt, incredibly makes everything by herself each morning. As for Angel Eyedealism, she said her astrology business is booming, and she’s going to soon “give birth” to a new book on the Lower East Side’s legendary Rivington School of art, which festooned local gardens with sculptures. However, what she still really wants to know is why did a certain East Village musician decide to pull the plug on her theremin performance at 6 & B Garden a while back? Why? Why? Why? No one seems to know. Perhaps it was a bad experience at a Led Zeppelin concert? Umm...Cancel that: His bronchitis was a bit better this week, so John Quinn was able to explain to us that his wife, Alice Cancel, the current 65th District assemblymember, will indeed be on the ballot on Nov. 8 versus Democratic nominee Yuh-Line Niou. But it’s not a vanity thing, and Cancel is not running an active campaign, he explained. Basically, she secured the Women’s Equality Party line for the general election in advance of the primary election, in which Niou defeated her. That’s usually the way it works, in terms of getting on the ballot, he explained. What he still can’t explain, though (it’s as much a mystery as Angel Eyedealism’s “theremin incident”) is why it was so hard for Cancel to raise funds, unlike Niou, who was swimming in

Rose and Basil and selfie — though taken by friendie.

Some of the roses who were at the Rose and Basil par ty.

contributions. “We couldn’t raise any money,” he said. “We were being blocked.” But who was blocking them? we asked. “There was pressure from people...Queens, Chinatown…,” Quinn responded gravely. Hmm...well, we’d like to see something more definitive about that. … Maybe it was the yetis who invaded the Flatiron District on Tuesday? (See Page 19)



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

October 6, 2016

Photos by Stacie Joy

A strologer Angel Eyedealism predicted that she was really going to enjoy this matcha treat at Rose and Basil. She was spor ting a bra headress — to mirror her bra bra — that was illuminated with Christmas lights and decorated with plastic dragons and lizards. Take that Kardashians!

Dust in the wind: Coles gym demo hits Mercer St. By Lincoln Anderson


he exterior demolition of the New York University Coles gym on Mercer St. — which will be replaced by a new, far-taller university building — has been underway for a few weeks. Residents living on the Mercer St. side of the project so far had been spared the demolition’s impacts, since the work had been focused on the old gym’s western side. But on Tuesday, they said they were for the first time fully assaulted by noise, dust and debris from the project. While N.Y.U. funded remediation renovations for buildings around the project site, including notably its own buildings at Washington Square Village, 88 Bleecker St. was largely left out of the mix. Tuesday, dust and dirt were seeping through rickety window sleeves around air conditioners at the building, residents said. Meanwhile, the construction workers were not hosing down all the dust they were causing, per N.Y.U.’s agreement with the community regarding the work. “There’s no like dust mitigation at all,� said Marianne Edwards, who lives with her husband, Paul, in an apartment fronting on the construction site. “N.Y.U. is not following the protocols it set forth to reduce dust,� said her husband. “We have stuff coming through our

Photo by Tequila Minsky

Photographed from the overlooking window of Marianne and Paul Edwards, a construction worker at the Coles site can finally be seen turning on one hose around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday to wet down the dusty construction debris. The couple had been complaining all day long.

windows, even thought we have doublepaned windows that are sealed.� They said they phoned the office of N.Y.U. President Andrew Hamilton twice, as well as 311, but got no response. Finally, around 3:30 p.m., when a Villager photographer showed up, a worker turned on a hose and started wetting

down a pile of construction debris and rubble. But one hose was not enough, the couple said — many more are needed! “Just once, it would be good to see these people follow a promise without having to drag it out of them,� Paul Edwards said of the university.

Paul Edwards said it was his understanding that N.Y.U. gave the building $100,000, but that would not cover the cost of remediating all of the building’s 100 apartments, he said. N.Y.U. could still do the full job now, he added. But an N.Y.U. spokesperson said the workers, in fact, are following all the agreements. “N.Y.U. made specific commitments to mitigate dust — these include hosing down the site, hosing down construction vehicles, wheel washing before exiting to the street, and ensuring all debris is covered securely — and we’re implementing all of them,� the spokesperson said. “There is a laborer on the site whose fulltime job is hosing things down to reduce dust. N.Y.U.’s mitigation commitments go beyond what is normally required at a construction site. “As to 88 Bleecker...N.Y.U. was not obligated to provide noise mitigation measures because these measures — double-glaze windows and central airconditioning — already exist in the building. That notwithstanding, as a gesture of good faith, N.Y.U. came to an agreement with 88 Bleecker to address their concerns relating to construction mitigation.�

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October 6, 2016

By Dennis Lynch


he Council’s Committee on Small Business met on September 30 to discuss strategies to help small businesses stay alive and thrive in a city with skyrocketing rents. But noticeably absent from the committee’s briefing paper was any mention of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. The S.B.J.S.A. is a longstalled measure that proponents believe will give small businesses the leverage they need with their landlords to stay in business. The bill would require landlords to give commercial tenants a 10-year minimum lease with the right to renew; create third-party binding arbitration process if a “fair” lease could not be agreed upon; limit security deposits to two months’ rent; and protect tenants against rent-gouging and retaliation from landlords, among other provisions. Advocates believe that politicians are stalling because powerful real estate interests are pulling their collective strings. Lawmakers on the committee didn’t bring up the S.B.J.S.A. at the hearing — even though five of nine members currently sponsor the bill. Instead they focused on tax breaks for tenants and landlords, as well as regulating chain stores through zoning restrictions, and creating more commercial space through zoning. S.B.J.S.A. supporters were frustrated, and brought up the bill themselves at the meeting. “It was disappointing,” Kristen Theodos of TakeBackNYC said. “They had two things they wanted to discuss: zoning and landlord incentives. We thought if it doesn’t address the crux of the problem — which is high rents and short-term leases — then it’s useless. Everything else is just smoke and mirrors.” Theodos, other members of TakeBackNYC, and fellow supporters held up signs reading “Pass #SBJSA NOW!!” TakeBackNYC has collected more than 400 signatures on a petition demanding that Mayor de Blasio, Councilmember Robert Cornegy, who chairs the Small Business Commit-

Photo by William Alatriste / NYC Council

At last week’s Cit y Hall hearing on small business, Emily McCoy, a Tribeca resident who formerly had a small store on Duane St., held up a sign in suppor t of the Small Business Jobs Sur vival Act. However, once again, the long-stalled measure was not on the committee’s agenda.

tee, Public Advocate Letitia James, who sponsors the bill, and Speaker Melissa MarkViverito call a public hearing and finally vote on the bill. “If any of them wanted to, they could snap their fingers and have a hearing tomorrow,” Theodos said. But pols and other critics cite potential legal issues with the bill when proponents or reporters push the issue. Last year, the then-president of the Real Estate Board of New York, an industry trade association, told The Villager he did not believe the Council and mayor “have the power to impose control on the leasing of properties.” “At very least, it would have to go to the state — and we’re not sure that the state would have the power to impose this,” Steve Spinola said. REBNY did not respond to requests for comment for this article. The S.B.J.S.A. has existed in some form or another in the Council since the 1980s. Its current incarnation cur-

rently has 27 sponsors, or one sponsor over the 26-vote halfway mark needed to pass it in the 51-member Council. But no Council speaker has let it to reach the floor for a vote, including Mark-Viverito, who two years ago promised to this newspaper to hold hearings on the legality of the bill and still has not. “We want to do an issuesbased hearing and would look at all legislation,” Mark-Viverito told The Villager in June 2015. So the S.B.J.S.A. has become symbolic for its proponents of the Council’s inability — or unwillingness, depending who you ask — to tackle the inequities in commercial tenant-landlord relationships in this city. At the very least, Speaker Mark-Viverito should follow through with her promise and allow for a hearing to discuss potential issues with the bill, said the director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. “If there are those in the City Council and administra-

tion that believe there are reasons why it wouldn’t pass legal muster, then hold a hearing and present the case to the public,” Andrew Berman of G.V.S.H.P. said. “But it hasn’t received one, which certainly makes it look like their issue is less a genuine case and more a desire to bury the bill.” Berman’s colleague at G.V.S.H.P., Harry Bubbins, attended Friday’s committee hearing and was optimistic that the renewed attention the S.B.J.S.A. received at the hearing could lead to broader discussion at City Hall. “This hearing was part of the process of identifying a variety of strategies,” Bubbins said. “Any serious consideration of the issue would be hard-pressed to not consider this bill. Rather than look back at what’s been stalled and that it’s been hard to get a hearing, the committee members knew [this bill] would come up, and had a hearing anyways. So, I think that’s a good thing.”


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Octoer 6, 2016


9/11 tiles return, but ‘fauxcade’ still a faux pas By Dennis Lynch


ulry Square’s famous community-born 9/11 tribute, Tiles For America, is slowly returning to its home on a new chain-link fence at the corner of Seventh Ave. South and Greenwich Ave. after a four-year absence, thanks to locals intent on rebuilding what some in the neighborhood called the “Heart and Soul of the Village.” “Oh, my gosh, everyone is so happy to see them back,” said Dusty Berke, who has led a group of some 70 volunteer memorial caretakers. “There’s been so many incredible people stepping up to offer their time and talent, I’m excited to be a part of the project.” The rebuild follows years of conflict between parties who disagreed over what to do with the roughly 6,000 hand-painted ceramic tiles that locals and folks from around the world hung on the chain-link fence following the tragedy. Nearly a decade ago, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owns the property, announced it was tearing down the fence to build a tunnel ventilation building at 61 Greenwich Ave., putting the fate of the tribute in limbo. The state planned to store the tiles in Albany and hang them on a new fence there post-construction. But a group of self-appointed tile guardians — out of a lack of trust for state caretakers — took

down most of the clay squares and stored them themselves just before the teardown started in 2012. Not everyone was happy with Berke’s actions, though. Following the tile takeaway, some accused her and her group of “going rogue” and questioned their capacity to care for the squares, many of which were over a decade old, weathered and fragile. Berke said some tiles were damaged, but that it was due to weather damage, not how she handled them. And the more fragile ones will go to an indoor memorial “museum” she hopes to open somewhere in the neighborhood. Since the M.T.A. finished building the ventilation structure earlier this year, Berke and others have hung roughly 250 of the 3,000 tiles they removed four years ago. Berke said she has a “certificate of ownership” for the tiles that were in her possession. They reinstalled many there on the most recent anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. And slowly others who took down their own tiles have come to hang them again, along with plants and flowers, too, Berke said. “You find little things appearing there, like a new plant here or a letter — people adding a little touch,” Berke said. “There’s a million different stories in the tiles, and we’re doing something amazing on the corner, and it’s all community-based.”

Photos by Dennis Lynch

So far, 250 of some 3,000 memorial tiles have been rehung on chainlink fencing on the “fauxcade” covering the M.T. A . fan plant at Seventh Ave. South and Greeenwich Ave.

Tiles for America is New York City’s last sur viving spontaneous 9/11 memorial.

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October 6, 2016

Locals hope the returning tiles at least will make the M.T.A.’s hugely unpopular bare-concrete-and-faux-brick-facade structure easier on the eyes. Residents and community leaders panned the design for a lack of character and mockingly dubbed it a “fauxcade.” The owner of a longstanding business across Greenwich Ave. said the returning tiles have made the building outside his storefront window easier on the eyes, but that it still could use a bit more TLC. “The tiles do make it more cheerful, it’s a vast improvement. I’d like to see more,” said Peter Koefoed, owner of Tabwa. “It’d be nice if they extended the brick, maybe put some curtains, some pots and plants. The consensus in the neighborhood is that it’s really, really awful.” Others are not so optimistic. A nearby neighbor and longtime critic of the building said the restored memorial could not make up for the ugly concrete behemoth.

“This is putting lipstick on a pig — albeit, it’s a very charming and patriotic lipstick — but the half-witted, halfcompleted demi-fauxcade…still looks like a pile of naked concrete dumped into your neighborhood from a concrete factory in an industrial zone,” Jessica Seigel, of Morton St., said. Affixed to an ugly building or not, the reborn Tiles For America memorial is once again attracting tourists to the area as its predecessor did. It’s made it back onto some online tour guides, including the one that two Dutch travelers were following on Tues., Sept 27. They admitted the structure housing the M.T.A. fan plant was “ugly,” but that the tiles memorial was the focus anyway. “It’s small, it’s got something communal about it, I like it,” Martin Bogodel said. “This was sort of out of the way but we took the detour to see it.”

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Octoer 6, 2016


Pike St. project will ‘replace’ Rivington House: De Blasio; Rivington continued from p. 1

residential development. The story quickly spiraled into a scandal that has shocked the city and damaged de Blasio, and continues to dog him. Thursday’s hearing by the City Council’s Committee on Oversight and Investigations — co-chaired by Vincent Gentile and Ben Kallos — clocked in at a solid six hours. Basically, Shorris and Lisette Camilo, current commissioner of the city’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services, testified that Rivington House’s deed restriction was lifted without any community notification because “the system” screwed up. No specific person was to blame or was disciplined for what went down, they said. “The system was flawed,” Shorris said. “There were many people involved. We execute our policy goals extremely effectively. This was a case where we made a mistake.” In August, Comptroller Scott Stringer released a report on his office’s investigation into the imbroglio. At a press conference, he summed up the findings as gross “mismanagement” at City Hall having been to blame for the building’s loss to luxury development. Last Thursday the officials repeatedly stressed, however, that new, improved processes have since been put in place, so that something like this won’t ever happen again. As for the developers and how they managed to pull a fast one on — allegedly, without the city ever being aware of it — Shorris repeatedly called them “deceptive.” Camilo previously was director of the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services, or MOCS, when that agency, per its usual duties, officially signed off on the lifting of Rivington House’s deed restriction. She subsequently took over DCAS — which manages roughly 4,000 city-owned buildings —on Jan. 25 of this year. Its previous director had been abruptly shunted to another agency. Camilo testified that she found out about the Lower East Side building’s sale within a few days after starting at DCAS. Shorris testified that he had started having discussions about Rivington House during de Blasio’s first year in office, in the fall of 2014. VillageCare, the building’s owner, had come to City Hall seeking help, saying the nonprofit nursing home was a financial burden, threatening to bankrupt it. Shorris said the discussions eventually focused on it becoming a for-profit nursing home — his own preferred use — and this is what he assumed it would become. “At no time,” Shorris stated, “did anyone write, call, meet or discuss with me


October 6, 2016

Photo by William Alatriste / NYC Council

Deput y Mayor Anthony Shorris, left, testified at last Thursday’s City Council oversight hearing on the Rivington House debacle, as Corporation Counsel Zachar y Car ter, listened, at right.

the notion that the actions being taken by [DCAS] would allow the property to be converted to luxury housing.”

‘We will make every effort to pursue legal recourse.’ Zachary Carter, NYC corporation counsel Deputy mayor in dark Time passed and he didn’t hear about the building again for about a year until after Camilo learned of the sale and notified him of it, he said. “I did not discuss Rivington [House] again until late February 2016 when the new commissioner, Lisette Camilo, reported to me that the site had been sold to a luxury housing developer for in excess of $100 million,” Shorris said.

The deputy mayor said de Blasio also had been unaware the sale. “I spent the next few days trying to understand what transpired,” Shorris said, “and then I informed the mayor as news accounts were beginning to run — the first time he heard anything about the matter.” Camilo said after informing Shorris of the Rivington House sale, she called the Department of Investigation the next day to have them look into it. Shorris said he, too, called D.O.I. to reassure himself that they were on it. MOCS produces the City Record, which contains listings of city-owned properties for sale. Camilo said the sole public notice of the Rivington House property being on the market was a listing in the City Record that only identified it by its Forsyth St. address. Councilmember Kallos, however, corrected her: In fact, the listing had not even been an address, he said — just the block and lot number. “Do you know what the block and lot number are for your office?” he asked her, to which Camilo responded, no. The DCAS commissioner said she first became aware of the property’s sale this February — although Community Board 3 previously “had alerted her of the possible flip” in a Jan. 25 letter. “You just stated you got a letter from Community Board 3 and you didn’t take it to the first deputy mayor till a month later?” Kallos asked her. “Yes — I was learning,” Camilo responded.

Pro forma to SNAFU In fact, the procedures the city followed with 45 Forsyth St. are the ones it has been using for such DCAS-owned properties over the past two decades, the city officials maintained. In short, it doesn’t seem to be a very rigorous process. Camilo said, basically, it was “a 20year-old process that primarily just focused on the bottom line.” “We didn’t know that the public hearing was happening on the deed restriction,” Chin stated. “We did not even know this discussion was happening.” There were suggestions that lifting a deed for such properties should trigger an official ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) seventh-month-long review, including public hearings. But Shorris told the councilmembers, “The vast majority of these restrictions don’t need to go through ULURP — it would be a waste of your time.” More than 1,000 city-owned buildings currently are under deed restrictions, the committee members were told. Councilmember Margaret Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer are pushing new legislation to create a database of all such properties, along with requirements for public notice and review if any change of the restrictions is being contemplated. When the city lifts a deed restriction, the owner typically must pay the city 25 percent of the property’s assessed value Rivington continued on p. 9

Officials blame ‘the system’ for nursing home debacle on the mayor’s press release about the plan. “My first wish is to return Rivington House to its previous use, a home for those who needed assisted-living support,” Brewer said. “But I look forward to working with the administration and the community to build an equal number of permanent affordable senior housing and assisted-living units in the neighborhood.” Calling it “a win” for the Lower East Side, Chin said, “The decision to pursue a comprehensive senior health facility at this site will allow for a continuum of care that I hope will become a model for communities across our city. I look forward to working with the administration to ensure that this facility will be accessible to the growing number of low-income seniors who need more affordable housing and healthcare options in the neighborhood.”

Rivington continued from p. 8

— since it will now be worth so much more. In the case of Rivington House, the assessed value was $64 million, so the cost to lift the restriction was $16 million.

Lobbied to waive fee VillageCare had retained top lobbyist Jim Capalino to try to get the administration to waive this payment. Capalino previously told The Villager that VillageCare was pressuring him to get this done by the end of the Bloomberg administration — otherwise the talks would have to be started up all over again under de Blasio. But he couldn’t pull it off, and VillageCare canned him before Bloomberg left office. Capalino told the newspaper that after that point, he had nothing more to do with the Rivington House property or the issue of the deed restriction. The property was sold to Allure Group for $28 million last year, with the understanding it would become a for-profit nursing home, assuming the city modified the restrictions. Asked how Allure could even buy the property, Shorris noted it has “a nonprofit arm.” Allure paid the agreed-to $16 million to modify the deed — but then, mere months later, flipped the property, selling it to luxury developer Slate for $116 million — turning a $72 million profit. Amid the ongoing furor over the Rivington House scandal, de Blasio in July announced that this $16 million fee would be used within the Lower East Side community for healthcare purposes. Thursday’s press release noted that this sum would be used to construct the new facility, though the release added that the project’s cost actually would exceed this amount.

Pike St. appeasement The new L.E.S. senior housing and healthcare project would include 100 apartments in a mixed-use building at 30 Pike St., a property currently owned by the city’s Department of Environmental Protection. “Rivington House’s conversion to luxury housing never should have happened,” de Blasio said in his statement in the press release. “This community was the victim of a broken process, city error and unscrupulous developers looking to make a buck. Our reforms will prevent that from ever happening again. This investment is a reflection of our unwavering commitment to the health of this neighborhood.”

Photo by Lincoln Anderson

The city has earmarked this site nex t to the Manhattan Bridge at Pike St. for 100 units of senior affordable housing and a healthcare facility.

‘We want building back!’ However, local politicians, advocates and community members continue to stress that they “want Rivington House back” — as in, returned to the community as a healthcare facility. At a town hall on how to address the Rivington House situation earlier this year at University Settlement, Councilmember Chin, along with Melissa Aase, the settlement’s executive director, and others repeatedly said — to the audience’s cheers — that what everyone wants is for the building to be returned to the community. Aase noted that the old school building is really worth about $70 million, when the cost of an extensive interior renovation from a few years back that increased its usable space is factored in. In short, the $16 million does not even begin to approach the value of what was lost, Aase said. Also testifying at City Hall Thursday was Zachary Carter, the corporation counsel, or city’s top law officer. The councilmembers interrogated him on why his department had so heavily redacted documents about Rivington House requested by the Department of Investigation. Carter replied he felt that only the “relevant” parts of the documents should be handed over. The councilmembers blasted this behavior as “shocking.” At any rate, under pressure, Carter eventually had forked over the un-excised papers.

Legal options? Chin asked Carter what legal actions he is considering taking to restore Rivington House to the community.

“We are looking at every legal option to, if not reverse, then blunt the impact of what happened here,” he said. “We will make every effort to pursue legal recourse.” Carter added that, depending on what is turned up in the ongoing investigations into the real estate fiasco, the developer could possibly be hit with “civil fraud” charges. Speaking earlier, Deputy Mayor Shorris also said the city doesn’t know if it can get the building back, but is “exploring options.” At the hearing’s end, a small number of members of the public — less than 10 — testified, among them, Susan Stetzer, C.B. 3 district manager; K Webster, founder of Friends of Rivington House; and Annie Wilson, a former squatter from 544 E. 13th St. Carlos “Chino” Garcia, the head of CHARAS, which used to occupy another former school building — the old P.S. 64, on E. Ninth St. and Avenue B — was also in the audience early on, but left before it was time for the public to testify. Stetzer scoffed at the notion the public was notified of the deed-lifting. “If you only give notice by block and lot, you are not giving notice at all,” she said. Webster said losing the nursing home’s beds is a hit to affordable housing. “We insist that those 215 affordable homes be returned to the community,” she urged. The pledged 30 Pike St. facility, though, would only have half that number of units.

Brewer, Chin weigh in Comments by both Chin and Brewer about the new project were included

An El of a racket Meanwhile, Webster, who is also on C.B. 3, said the Pike St. site is less than ideal, but she’ll take it — although Rivington House still must be returned, too. “The community board has been trying to get that for affordable housing for a really long time,” she said of 30 Pike, albeit adding, “It’s underneath a very, very noisy subway train. Not so great for elders or those who are disabled.” She was referring to the steady stream of trains — the B, D, N and Q lines — that thunder over the nearby Manhattan Bridge day and night. But noting that the number of homeless the city is housing recently spiked to a record high of 60,000, Webster said, “I say — go ahead and use both sites for affordable housing!” On the other hand, the Rivington House property overlooks leafy Sara D. Roosevelt Park in the heart of the hip new Lower East Side.

A promise broken Tessa Huxley, a neighbor of the former Rivington House, also testified at the hearing. Speaking afterward, she said she was at the meeting back in the 1990s when the deed restriction was hashed out amid the pledge that the old school would be converted to an AIDS hospice. “I was there,” she said. “The promise wasn’t for 10 years. We understood it was forever. And the agreement was, if AIDS was no longer an issue, it would be another healthcare facility. “We accepted AIDS housing on the Lower East Side. We accepted everyone. ...” After a pause, she added, “We shouldn’t have accepted the rich people. “I’m just so upset,” she said. “I thought I lived in a democracy.” Octoer 6, 2016


New C.B. 3 leader Rogers wants to give back; Rose By Lincoln Anderson


amie Rogers, the new chairperson of Community Board 3, deeply values the East Village and Lower East Side’s diversity and vitality, and there’s nowhere else he’d rather live. As a relative newcomer to the city, the community board has been a “rock” of support for him. In fact, he even met his wife when they were both on C.B. 3 together. Before too long, she could be representing the district in the City Council. Now, in his new leadership role, Rogers wants to give back to the community that has already given him so much in his brief time here. Rogers, 34, recently met with The Villager for an interview at one of his coffee shops, AVA Brew, in the ground floor of AVA DoBro, a new high-rise by Avalon on Willoughby St. in Downtown Brooklyn. He also owns two Pushcart Coffee shops in Manhattan — at W. 25th St. and Ninth Ave. in Chelsea, and at E. 21st St. and Second Ave. in Gramercy — plus a Bakery and Roastery in Bushwick. Another Pushcart Coffee, at E. 12th St. and Third Ave., only lasted four months. Somehow, that stretch doesn’t see a lot of commuter foot traffic, Rogers learned. “I overestimated the amount of business we were going to do there,” he said. Rogers grew up just outside the city in Bronxville. He went to Connecticut College and Cornell Law School, then landed a job in Lower Manhattan, doing transactional law. He settled in the East Village in 2010 — it was close to work — and immediately fell in love with it. “It was really about finding the neighborhood in Manhattan with the most diversity and complexity,” he said. “It’s a very tight-knit community, but it has this wonderful diversity and history to it. You could spend your whole life in the Community Board 3 district without venturing into the rest of the city.” He felt the hip enclave also had a “small-town aspect,” like Bronxville, where he grew up. But, while he loved the area, Rogers soon grew disenchanted with the law. Instead he decided to dive into the coffee shop business. “I really wanted to do something that was contributing to the community,” he said. For him, his cafes help fulfill that role by providing community gathering spaces. He found that he liked working in the business community. At the same time, he quickly connected to the community on another level — through the local community board. “Within two weeks, I got to attend my first C.B. 3 meeting,” he recalled.


October 6, 2016

Photo by Tequila Minsky

Jamie Rogers with his bic ycle outside the C.B. 3 office on E. Four th St. “I bike ever y where,” he said.

“It was on SPURA, in the Henry St. Settlement basketball gym. I said, ‘This is where I want to spend my time in New York City.’ There was such passion. I said, ‘This was it.’ ” He was referring to the long-dormant

After a meeting on SPURA, he was hooked on C.B. 3. Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, south of the Williamsburg Bridge, and the board’s historic push to achieve a consensus-based plan to redevelop it after decades of community gridlock. Rogers applied to the Borough Presi-

dent’s Office to get appointed to the board, and made the cut in 2012. Fast-forward four years to this June and he found himself running for board chairperson, and beating another local businessman, Enrique Cruz, by a vote of 34 to 11. Rogers succeeds Gigi Li, who chaired the board for four years in a row. Li could not run for re-election, since the board last year adopted a four-year term limit for chairperson. Li’s tenure helming C.B. 3 was not all smooth sailing. She came under fire two years ago from some board members who accused her of not promoting black and Latino board members for committee leadership positions. Borough President Gale Brewer’s Office subsequently investigated, and determined that while Li had not been biased, she and the board’s leadership had “failed to sufficiently emphasize the value of diversity and inclusion.” When Chad Marlow challenged Li for chairperson two years ago, Rogers was among the board members who

voted for him. Not surprisingly, Li went on to win the election, 31 to 15. Rogers’s vote was more of a “message.” “I felt that Gigi could grow as a leader,” he said. “I felt I could help that with my vote. I do think she improved tremendously after that election.” Asked what his own goals are as chairperson, Rogers said, “I really want to focus on leadership development on the board. We have some really cool young people on the board — Eric Diaz, Debra Jeffrys-Glass, Alan van Capelle. “I think the biggest issue is going to be the private development along the waterfront in the Two Bridges area, and connected with that, the [storm] resiliency work. It’s going to happen really quickly. The resiliency project will wrap up by 2021.” Rogers is also concerned about City Hall’s plans for “infill” towers on New York City Housing Authority grounds — in which new mixed market-rate / affordable high-rises would be shoehorned into public-housing complexes on currently existing parking lots or playgrounds. What happened last year with Campos Plaza, where a private developer suddenly took control of 50 percent of the complex, worries him. “What we saw at Campos I and II was a very quick privatization to help NYCHA,” he noted. “Our NYCHA developments are relatively unprotected. That land needs to be protected for the most vulnerable in our community.” The NYCHA complexes constituted one of three “subdistricts” that the Chinatown Working Group had been focusing on, along with protecting the Two Bridges area and the Chinatown core. C.W.G. put forward a rezoning proposal for Chinatown and the Lower East Side last year, but the City Planning Department called it “not feasible at this time.” Meanwhile, the Two Bridges area has become Downtown’s ground zero for the new breed of “supertall” towers. In a change of course, the de Blasio administration has now said it’s more open to hearing about the sorely needed rezoning proposals. “The Department of City Planning will do an environmental impact study on the Two Bridges area to understand how these developments will impact everything,” Rogers noted. On Rivington House, Rogers said, it’s another issue on which C.B. 3 has “spoken loudly and clearly. We want the facility to be a nursing home, as it was supposed to be.” Similarly, the board is on record that the old P.S. 64, on E. Ninth St., formerly home to the CHARAS / El Bohio Cultural and Community Center — now vacant going on 16 years — should be returned as a community center. Regarding the Essex Crossing project on the SPURA site, Rogers said, C.B. 3 Rogers continued on p. 11

through ranks quickly Rogers continued from p. 10

will continue to monitor the development to ensure that promised community facilities are provided. Last November, in some other major board news, Rogers married District Leader Carlina Rivera, who was then also on the community board. Rivera, 32, has since left C.B. 3 after becoming a legislative aide to Councilmember Rosie Mendez. In addition to being C.B. 3 chairperson, Rogers is president of Coalition for a Democratic Alternative, the East Village’s leading political organization. Mendez will be term-limited out of office at the end of next year, and CoDA has already endorsed Rivera in next year’s September Democratic primary election. “The first time we ever laid eyes on each other was in 2011 at the SPURA meeting,” Rogers recalled of Rivera. “I remember hearing her speak at the meeting. I also spoke. I said, ‘I love the neighborhood, everyone is so passionate.’ ” Later he watched the coverage of the meeting on the TV news: “NY 1 showed me speaking — but cut to Carlina speaking.” Not long after that, Rivera was elected the board’s secretary, and Rogers elected assistant secretary, after he volunteered for the position when no one else wanted it. “She was like my boss,” he recalled. Rogers was very busy with his new business — he had a small bakery and coffee shop at E. Broadway and Clinton St. “I was working extremely hard,” he said. “After the community board, I’d go bake croissants for work.” One night after a board event, they had a beer together at Forgtmenot. That led to dinner another night at Lil’ Frankie’s. “After that date,” Rogers recalled, “I said, ‘I have to go bake croissants.’ She said, ‘I can help.’ ” And as the croissants their love grew… . As Councilmember Mendez said, it actually may be the first time two C.B. 3 members fell in love and got married. “Carlina said it’s like the Rihanna

song ‘Love in a Hopeless Place,’” Rogers quipped. “It is no secret that I am married to someone who is going to run for City Council,” he said. “I’m very proud of it.” At the same time, he added, “I’m very aware of the optics of that.” He plans to run for re-election next year as C.B. 3 chairperson, and serve through June 2018. But, as of now, he doesn’t see himself seeking a third term — anticipating Rivera wins election to the Council. “I do not think it’s a conflict of interest, but I think that it’s a consolidation of power,” he said, explaining why he wouldn’t want to lead the board if his wife succeeds Mendez in the City Council. Also, being chairperson of the allvolunteer board simply is a lot of work. “It’s a very demanding position that doesn’t have any financial compensation,” he noted. Asked if he had political ambitions of his own, Rogers said, in fact, he did a few years ago. There had been rumors Daniel Squadron wanted to be Parks Department commissioner under Mayor de Blasio, and Rogers briefly considered running for his state Senate seat. “At one point, I was interested in it,” he said. “I had no political experience. That was 2013, I was very naive. “Right now, I don’t have any intention of running for elected office,” he said, adding, “Having one elected official in the house would be enough.” For the meantime, he is committed to doing the best job he can leading C.B. 3. “I’m going to be the best darn community board chairperson I can be,” he said. “For me, the board, it’s been my rock in this community. And it’s how I met the woman I love. The community board has been surprisingly good to me. I want to make sure I’m doing my part to give back, if I can.” On another personal note, Rogers is an avid cyclist. So you might just see him zipping around the hood. “I bike everywhere,” he said. “It’s way more reliable and enjoyable than the subway or bus. After college, I biked across the country from California to Florida, and have been hooked ever since.”

OpenNew House York Weekend Open House YorkNew Weekend at New York University at New York University October 15 - 16 October 15 - 16

OPENHOUSE HOUSE NEW YORK WEEKEND OPEN NEW YORK WEEKEND ATNEW NEWYORK YORK UNIVERSITY AT UNIVERSITY NewYork YorkUniversity University is proud to participate inththe 14th New is proud to participate in the 14 AnnualOpen Open House New (OHNY) Weekend. Annual House New YorkYork (OHNY) Weekend.

Fortwo twodays days each October, OHNY Weekend For each October, OHNY Weekend unlocksunlocks thedoors doorsofof New York’s most important buildings, the New York’s most important buildings, offeringanan extraordinary opportunity to experience offering extraordinary opportunity to experience thecity cityand and meet people design, build, and the meet thethe people who who design, build, and preserve New York. As a part of OHNY Weekend, preserve New York. As a part of OHNY Weekend, NYU NYU invitesthe thegeneral general public to the seeEdward the Edward invites public to see HopperHopper Studioand and explore Greenwich Village with tour Studio toto explore Greenwich Village with tour guideJane Jane Marx. guide Marx. Spaceisislimited limited and reservations are required Space and reservations are required for all for all events. RSVP and find a full schedule of other OHNY events. RSVP and find a full schedule of other OHNY Weekend activities at Weekend activities at JANEMARX MARX TOUR GREENWICH VILLAGE JANE TOUR OFOF GREENWICH VILLAGE Saturday,October October Sunday, October 16 Saturday, 15, 15, andand Sunday, October 16 10:30am am- 12:30 - 12:30 10:30 pmpm Takeaatour tour Greenwich Village with celebrated Take ofof Greenwich Village with celebrated tour guide Jane Marx. Tours will meet tour guide Jane Marx. Tours will meet underunder the the Washington Square Arch at 10:15 am. Washington Square Arch at 10:15 am.

EDWARDHOPPER HOPPER STUDIO EDWARD STUDIO Washington Square North (entry on University 11 Washington Square North (entry on University Place) Place) Sunday,October October Sunday, 16 16 10:00am am- 2:30 - 2:30 10:00 pmpm Stepinto intothe the studio where Edward Hopper and Step studio where artistartist Edward Hopper and hiswife, wife,Josephine, Josephine, lived painted for than more than his lived and and painted for more 50years. years.View View pictures of studio the studio 50 pictures of the below.below.

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L.E.S. bags a Trader Joe’s By Dennis Lynch


at your heart out, Union Square. Trader Joe’s supermarket is coming to the Essex St. Crossing superdevelopment, the city’s Economic Development Corporation announced on Tuesday. The popular “neighborhood” grocery store will be located at 146 Clinton St. at the corner of Broome Street at the southern end of the mixed-use development, and will open in 2018, according to E.D.C. It will not sell alcohol, so thirsty shoppers will still have to shlep up to Union Square for their fixes of “twobuck Chuck” wine. Regardless, local leaders embraced the news, including Councilmember Margaret Chin and Community Board 3 Chairperson Jamie Rogers, who noted the positive response locals had to news of a Trader Joe’s coming to the neighborhood. “Previous reports of attempt to have Trader Joe’s expand within Community Board 3 were met with enthusiasm by the community,” Rogers said. “They will be very happy to hear that we have a firm commitment of Trader Joe’s at Essex Crossing.” Chin mentioned the neighborhood was “historically underserved by quality grocery stores.” However, the new store will be directly across Grand St. from a

Fine Fare supermarket and will be a few blocks from another Fine Fare and a Key Food north of Delancey St. The supermarket will share its plot with 206 residential rental units, a 22,000-square-foot Planet Fitness gym and roughly 48,000 more square feet of commercial space. It will be two blocks from the Williamsburg Bridge bike and pedestrian path entrances at Clinton and Delancey Sts. and roughly four blocks from the Essex St. subway station, making it convenient for subway riders. Essex Crossing, in total, is planned to have 1.9 million square feet of residential, commercial and community space across roughly six blocks. There will be 1,000 total residential rental units; half will be priced as affordable for low-, moderateand middle-income families. The $1 billion development will also feature a 150,000-square-foot European-inspired food-focused public market space dubbed Market Line that will run continuously between Essex Crossing’s lots both above- and belowground. Other tenants that have committed to Essex Crossing include a Regal Cinemas movie theater, a Splitville Luxury Lanes bowling alley, and the 40,000-squarefoot New York University Langone Joan H. and Preston Robert Tisch Medical Center. Developers hope the entire Essex Crossing project will be done by 2024.

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Police Blotter Brutal Wald murder In a shocking murder, a 23-year-old man was arrested for allegedly bludgeoning to death his great-grandmother in the Lillian Wald Houses early on Fri., Sept. 30. Police charged Gary Bias for the murder of his Ella Mae Bias, 82, in Apartment No. 8I in 711 F.D.R. Drive, where they both lived. Police responding to a 911 call had discovered the grandmother inside the apartment unresponsive and unconscious, with her wrists and ankles bound with tape. E.M.S. medics pronounced her dead at the scene. The suspect also assaulted and bound his own mother after calling her to come to the apartment. According to the Daily News, he taped her to a chair and beat her unconscious. But she managed to free herself, ran downstairs and asked for a phone to call police. She was removed to Bellevue Hospital where she was treated for her injuries. Gary Bias was charged with seconddegree murder and attempted murder. The News reported he was arrested in November for assaulting his stepfather with a mini-baseball bat and shattering his eye socket. A judge ordered him to stay away from his stepfather, as well as his mother, who was the

person who bailed him out of jail.

Killed by M.T.A. bus On Tues., Oct. 4, around 9:49 a.m., police responded to a call of a pedestrian struck at E. Houston and Columbia Sts. Upon arrival, police found a 73year-old woman lying on the street with severe body trauma. E.M.S. responded and pronounced her dead at the scene. She was identified as Anna Colon, of 50 Pine St., Brooklyn. According to police, a preliminary investigation revealed that the woman was attempting to cross the street from north to south at Houston and Columbia Sts., when she was struck by an M.T.A. bus making a left turn from southbound Columbia St. onto E. Houston St. (This would have meant the bus was going the wrong way on Columbia St.) There were no arrests or summons as of press time. The investigation is ongoing.

Phone filchers Three strangers allegedly robbed and attacked a man in front of 18 Little W. 12th St. on Fri., Sept. 30, at 3:10 a.m.

According to police, two men and a woman worked together to take the victim’s phone. One of the men punched the victim in the face when he wouldn’t let got of the device. With the woman at the wheel of their car, the perps drove off. The victim tried to retrieve his phone and was dragged along the cement, causing scrapes and bruising to the left forearm. Upon a search, police reportedly found a pipe containing marijuana residue inside the vehicle. Alice Basovsky, 23, Wendell A. Cardona, 40, and Daniel Binaminov, 23, were arrested for felony robbery.

Office attacked An office at 20 E. Ninth St. was broken into on Friday evening Sept. 30 at 5:30 p.m. According to police, five unknown men entered the building through the service entrance. The porter told police that the group entered the 26th-floor conference room and caused damage to several picture frames, chairs and conference tables. They also made a hole in the wall. The estimated damage was more than $250. No property was stolen. The five men, Matthew Cassidy, Eric Forcino and Matthew Baldwin, all 18, Joshua Prince, 19, and a 16year-old male were arrested for felony burglary.

Express to arrest A man tried to pass off some doctored plastic at the Gansevoort Hotel, at 18 Ninth Ave., this past Sat., Oct. 1, police said. Around 11 p.m., he allegedly used an altered American Express card to purchase $328 worth of services. Upon further investigation, police found that he had an active warrant. Henry Concepcionramos, 41, was arrested for felony grand larceny.

Boozy bribery Police responded to a radio run of an assault at Barrow and West Sts. on Sun., Oct. 2, a little before midnight. An officer said he observed a man hitting a woman in a car prior to police stopping the vehicle. After stopping the car, the officer smelled alcohol and observed the man had bloodshot, watery eyes. When the man was placed under arrest, he reportedly offered the officer money in exchange for letting him go. At the Seventh Precinct, he blew a blood alcohol content of .14 and again offered money for release. Charlie Vazquez-Ruiz, 33, was arrested for felony bribery.

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Rabbi runs vs. Hoylman; Does he have a prayer? By Lincoln Anderson


he election for the 27th state Senate District features two candidates who are running progressive campaigns — but one adds his campaign is also “prophetic.” Brad Hoylman is seeking re-election to a third term. Challenging him is Rabbi Stephen Roberts, in his firstever run for elected office. The Senate district includes Greenwich Village, the East Village and Hudson Square, Stuyvesant Town / Peter Cooper Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, Midtown and the Upper West Side. Hoylman is running on the Democratic and Working Families Party lines. Roberts, in something not seen in 20 years in a New York state Senate election, is running as an independent, under no party line. There is no Republican candidate on the ballot. Both candidates are gay, married and live in the Village. Hoylman is currently the only openly gay member of the state Senate. Roberts is a healthcare chaplain who has ministered during disasters, including 9/11, and currently heads a business helping chaplains get board certification. He is also a part-time rabbi, conducting services once a

State Senator Brad Hoylman.

Rabbi Stephen Rober ts.

month at a synagogue in Appalachian North Carolina. A former chairperson of Community Board 2, Hoylman has an established reputation as a reform-minded and ethical politician. Yet Roberts charges Hoylman isn’t doing enough to change Albany’s broken political culture. “Why I’m running,” Roberts said, “is the issue of ethics and corruption

in Albany.” Specifically, Roberts accused Hoylman, over the past year and a half, of taking several campaign contributions that exceeded the allowable limit of $5,000 for corporations. Among other campaign finance reforms, Roberts advocates capping contributions from individuals at $2,700, which is the limit for presidential campaigns. In turn, he accuses Hoylman of taking about a dozen contributions above that limit — even though it’s currently not illegal to do so. Roberts said what really spurred him to run was when the state Legislature, before adjourning its session last June, legalized fantasy football gaming but not ethics reforms. He said Bernie Sanders’s urging average Americans to seek office also inspired him, as did Sanders’s being an independent. Yet Hoylman is a leading voice for campaign finance reform in Albany. Any campaign contributions to him that exceeded the allowable limit were returned, he stated, adding it’s all documented on the State Board of Elections Web site. Plus, he said, the error was on the part of the contributors for giving him too much in the first place. Roberts also said, if elected, he would advocate for creating more middle-income housing, and for legalizing marijuana — then using the taxes from pot sales to pay for healthcare for currently uninsured New Yorkers. “I want to end the school-to-prison pipeline,” he added, regarding decriminalizing pot. Noting that his home, on West St., was destroyed by flooding from Superstorm Sandy, Roberts also stressed, “Albany must create a larger response plan to global warming.” As for endorsements, Hoylman is backed by a phalanx of local politicians and Democratic clubs. Roberts,


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on the other hand, said, “The most important endorsement will come on Nov. 8, when people support me.” Asked about his own campaign finances, Roberts similarly said, “I don’t need money to win, I need voters to win.” Roberts is not taking LLC contributions or PAC contributions, and is limiting campaign contributions to $2,700. For his part, Hoylman said he is doing exactly what Roberts says he would do, if elected, on campaign finance reform — but gridlock in the Legislature is the problem. “I sponsor and co-sponsor every major piece of campaign finance and ethics reform legislation in Albany,” Hoylman said. However, he added, “But I’m not going to unilaterally disarm. There is a battle in November. It’s very important that the Democrats

‘I don’t really have time to focus on such insignificant races.’ Allen Roskoff

win. There is a one-seat difference. We need to pass campaign finance reform — which includes public financing of campaigns — a bill I also sponsor. These bills are pending; but we need to win the Senate back from the Republicans to pass them.” In other words, Hoylman said, he’s not going to cap contributions to his campaign voluntarily when the Republicans won’t do it for theirs. “We have seats, particularly in the Hudson Valley and Long Island, that are vulnerable,” he said. “And that’s why I raise money.” Hoylman, in turn, can give some of his campaign funds to Democratic colleagues to help with their races. “I’m eager to donate to other Democratic state Senate candidates,” he said. “It’s the local version of what U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer is doing at the national level. Schumer recently announced that he had transferred more than $4 million to help elect fellow Democrats.” election continued on p. 30



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.

Octoer 6, 2016


His Village years helped shape great playwright albee continued from p. 1

gay is more and more common even in adolescence and when the Village has become an enclave for the rich — rather than a place where an emerging but still struggling artist could go to find himself. Albee said he knew he was gay when he was eight years old and became sexually active at 12. When anyone expressed surprise at his sexual precociousness, he said — as he did on “Gay USA” in a 2005 interview with Ann Northrop and me — “I was going to an all-boys prep school. C’mon! I was just doing what was natural.” His consciousness of being different in the late 1930s and early ’40s intensified his contempt for his wealthy adoptive parents, Reed and Frances Albee, whose “morality and bigotry” he “hated.” He ran away from home in Larchmont when he was 12 — and was of course thwarted — but left for good and for Greenwich Village when he was 18. “There’s a large distance between Larchmont and New York City,” he said on PBS’ “Theatre Talk” in 2007. “It is 20 miles, but it might as well be 30 million miles.” An early relationship with the composer William Flanagan led to Albee’s social introduction to such heady gay company as composers Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and Ned Rorem. Of Village life in those days, he said, “Nothing cost anything. There were so many interesting people to learn from. I just sat around and absorbed a great deal of stuff. I was learning all the time.” (Learning was something he was unable to do at Trinity College in Hartford, where he was forced out for refusing to go to chapel.) “I remember the Village when it was a real Village,” he told me in an interview for VillageCare’s annual “Legends of the Village” calendar. Albee lived at 238 W. Fourth St. “with seven or eight of my closest friends,” he said in the ’07 “Theatre Talk” interview, who were told to “sleep fast, we need the bed!” And he loved the Village: “I was getting to see the most wonderful theater imaginable — Beckett, Brecht and Pirandello.” Albee’s early writing consisted of what he said were bad poems and novels. “I became fed up with everything, including myself,” he recalled. While some describe his early Village years as fallow, he said, “I educated myself in life and the arts for 10 years and then wrote ‘Zoo Story,’” his breakthrough one-act play, written in two-and-a-half weeks in 1958 at age 30. The play was first produced in 1959, in German, on a Berlin double bill with Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape.” A year later, the two plays were produced in English at the Village’s Provincetown Playhouse and enjoyed a 14-month run that established him as a playwright and opened the door to his smash hit “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” on Broadway in 1962. The title of the play was a scrawl he saw written in soap on a mirror at a bar he frequented in 1954 at 139 W. 10th St. that later became the gay bar Ninth Circle. Albee was one of the most uncompromising American artists of all time. He was a playwright through and through, only allowing three films to be made of his plays — “Woolf,” with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and directed by Mike Nichols in 1966; “A Delicate Balance,” with Katharine Hepburn, Paul Scofield and Kate Reid and directed by Tony Richardson, a gay man, in 1973; and “The Ballad of the Sad Café,” starring Vanessa Redgrave and Keith Carradine and directed by Simon Callow, also a gay man, in 1991. Film producers balked at putting his plays on the


October 6, 2016

Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Edward Albee speaking at the Players Club in Gramerc y in September 2012 during the induction of legendar y theater critic Jerr y Tallmer into the club’s hall of fame.

screen because Albee insisted that not one word of what he wrote be changed for a film. And unlike esteemed playwrights such as Harold Pinter, Albee did not do screenplays. (Some productions of Albee’s plays, such as “Zoo Story” and “All Over,” were videotaped for TV.) Despite his fierce, uncompromising reputation, Albee was also famous for nurturing young talents from a variety of the arts from the windfall profits of “Woolf” through the New Playwrights Unit Workshop (that “produced 110 new American plays,” he told me) and the Edward F. Albee Foundation. (“Why should I let the I.R.S. have all that money?” he would say.) The foundation runs the William Flanagan Memorial Creative Persons Center (named for his early lover but better known as the Barn) in Montauk “as a residence for writers and visual artists,” according to its Web site. Albee was emphatic about not reading gay themes into his plays where he said he wrote none. “There is no homosexuality in ‘The Zoo Story,’” he said referring to the relationship between Peter and Jerry and their fateful meeting across class lines in Central Park — though I will never forget Jerry’s line “I was an h-o-m-o-s-e-x-u-a-l,” which I first heard when the play was performed at my Catholic high school on Long Island, Chaminade, before the entire student body in 1969. I almost fell out of my seat. Albee also forbade all-male productions of “Woolf,” simply reminding everyone that he wrote a play about two heterosexual couples, not two gay ones. In 1961, The New York Times chief critic Harold Taubman wrote a homophobic piece — before that word was invented — saying that in emerging plays by gay writers the “unpleasant female of the species is

exaggerated into a fantastically consuming monster or an incredibly pathetic drab” — and called such work “unhealthy.” Critic Robert Brustein attacked “Zoo Story” for its “masochistic-homosexual perfume.” Novelist Philip Roth skewered Albee’s “Tiny Alice” for its “ghastly pansy rhetoric.” And Stanley Kauffman of the Times famously wrote a column in 1966 on “Homosexual Drama and Its Disguises,” chastising gay playwrights for creating distorted heterosexual couples that he insisted were really gay. It was a perilous environment, and Albee later suffered exile from being produced in New York after critical and commercial failures such as “The Lady from Dubuque” (1980) and “The Man Who Had Three Arms” (1982) before re-emerging here with “Three Tall Women” in 1991 — earning him his fourth Pulitzer Prize if you count (and Albee did) the one awarded by its drama committee in 1962 but not approved by the full Pulitzer panel. In “The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?” in 2002, Albee really cut loose, writing about a married man’s affair with a goat and exchanging a kiss with his gay son. It won him his second Tony for Best Play. He was also condemned for it. “Clearly I was onto something!” he told us at “Gay USA.” Yes, his integrity cost him. But as he said on “Gay USA” in 2005, “It would be wonderful to reach a larger audience. But life is too short. I would rather reach a smaller audience” — and say exactly what he wanted to say. Albee had a rich gay life from the “fun” of recreational sex to a relationship with Terrence McNally in the 1950s to his 35-year relationship with sculptor Jonathan Thomas, who died in 2005. Albee gave up his 15-year stint teaching at the University of Houston to care for Thomas as he died of bladder cancer. (He also gave up drinking when he moved to a loft on Harrison St. in Tribeca that required him to operate the old-fashioned elevator — dangerous when under the influence.) Albee frequently said, “We get the government we deserve.” That sounded harsh, especially given all the wealthy forces that average people are up against. But what I took it to mean is that we either have to engage in self-governance on a day-in-day-out basis or we will be saddled with the government that reactionary forces want to impose on us. He once said facetiously that the theme of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” is that “the ideals of the American Revolution are dead.” He was serious when he said that the characters of the battling couple, George and Martha, were named for our first First Family. In our 2005 interview on “Gay USA,” he said, “Republicans are out to destroy the New Deal and destroy democracy.” Albee felt that they had succeeded in part by “telling the working class that they’re middle class. The middle class is more reactionary.” “Woolf” is being revived in London with Imelda Staunton and Conleth Hill this coming spring. Veteran Guardian critic Michael Billington wrote, “With America currently engaged in its own form of posttruth politics, now seems the perfect time to revive Albee’s enduring masterpiece about the danger of living in a world of illusions.” When we spoke to Albee on Thanksgiving Day in 2005 on “Gay USA,” I asked what he was thankful for. He said, “We’re fortunate to still live in a democracy, fortunate we are still permitted to vote.” Let’s hope we can keep our democracy without him, but his unsparing voice will be missed.





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Octoer 6, 2016


Letters to the Editor That empty lot is a park!

support community nEWS!




To The Editor: In your article last week “300 rally to save garden; ‘City pits park vs. housing,’ ” regarding the ongoing fight to preserve the much-loved and much-used Elizabeth St. Garden, Community Board 2 Chairperson Tobi Bergman referred to another lot, which provides access to the city water tunnel, as a site where the city could build affordable housing. The article said that space on Hudson and W. Houston Sts. is a “barren city-owned lot…[that was] used to drill a shaft down to the new City Water Tunnel No. 3, but now sits empty,” and further makes reference in captions to this lot as “vacant.” To be clear, the lot on Hudson St. is currently unoccupied and was used by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection in order to construct City Water Tunnel No. 3. However, the city also promised the community this would become park space, and it is a mischaracterization to refer to the lot as “vacant.” Last year, Community Board 2 put forward a proposal to sacrifice this promised park in favor of providing an increased amount of affordable housing for the neighborhood. This would allow the Elizabeth St. Garden to be preserved, continuing to serve an even more park-starved part of our community, while constructing a greater amount of affordable housing at this alternative site. Now we are being told that the city would like to use both lots for affordable housing. The city continues to force communities to take sides over initiatives upon which they agree: preserving open space and building affordable housing. We deserve both. Deborah J. Glick Glick is assemblymember, 66th District

Soho’s endangered artists To The Editor: Re “Artists fear brush-off, loss of protections in Soho zoning study” (news article, Sept. 22): I am a certified artist in residence who, more

than 40 years ago, had the opportunity to move into a deserted factory on Spring St., and sleep on a greasy factory floor, which was an improvement over the car I was living in. I worked for decades to raise a family in this space. I stayed up all night printing etchings, which I sold on the street. I eventually won national awards illustrating for the most prominent newspapers and magazines, all the while pulling all-night deadlines for less than minimum wage. It seems to be forgotten that being an artist is a calling, and not an entitlement. Today, I am the only certified artist in residence actually in residence in our A.I.R. building. The current nonartist owners have tried to sell the building out from under me, and I am currently under threat of a lawsuit, merely because I just want to live here. I have had to fight continuously to simply hold on to the fully legal unit that I own, in the face of lawsuits and eviction threats. The next-door unit, owned by a nonartist and her Chappaqua lawyer son, has no fire escape and no work permits. In spite of numerous Department of Buildings and Environmental Control Board violations, they have been subletting their place, and have now listed it for sale with Sotheby’s for $2.4 million. D.O.B. refers to the unit’s occupancy as being “imminently hazardous.” But there’s money to be made — so who cares? I implore the powers that be to protect those of us who once pioneered a barren and inhospitable land. Certainly, there must be some threshold where greed is not welcome. Harry Pincus

Jane to the rescue! To The Editor: Re “Photog who found bomb saw something, said something” (news article, Sept. 29): Great article! We need more Jane Schreibmans in the world. Nice photos, too! Patricia Fieldsteel

Letters continued on p. 30

ira blutreich

How Democrats portray Trump 18

October 6, 2016

How Republicans portray Hillary

Photos by Milo Hess

Looking like out-of-town tourists, 26 yetis — possibly from Tibet or Nepal — got off a double-decker tour bus across from the Flatiron Building Tuesday as a promotion for the Travel Channel’s upcoming series “Expedition Unknown: Hunt For The Yeti.” The bigfoot-like beasts a.k.a. abominable snowmen kicked things off in the Flatiron pedestrian plaza, then left to wander Manhattan.

Himalaya! Him-a-where-ah? Yetis take Manhattan!

Octoer 6, 2016


In garden end around, mayor offers W. Side park Garden continued from p. 1

ready established garden on Elizabeth St. Seems simple. But the de Blasio administration and Councilmember Margaret Chin, the housing project’s main booster, are not relenting. The new announcement seems a clear effort to head off the fight to save the garden. On Tuesday, a City Hall spokesperson told The Villager that three parks would be developed in the Community Board 2 area on sites currently owned by the Department of Environmental Protection. Each site is currently a vacant lot where water shafts were constructed down to the new City Water Tunnel No. 3. The lots include Hudson St. between Clarkson and W. Houston Sts. (the alternative site proposed by Community Board 2 for the senior affordable housing planned for the Elizabeth St. Garden), as well as Grand and Lafayette Sts., and E. Fourth St. and the Bowery, adjacent to the Merchant’s House Museum. The city is committing a total of $3 million to help build the new parks — $1 million for each one. Melissa Grace, the mayor’s deputy press secretary, issued a statement to The Villager announcing the news. “As we continue to work to find new and creative ways to keep New York affordable and livable, this administration is committed to increasing public open space,” Grace said. “Today, and following through on a decades-old promise, we are delighted to announce we will be building three new public parks in Community Board 2.” The city must maintain access to the new underground D.E.P. infrastructure and water shafts, in case of emergency. So, the new parks would not be able to have heavy structures — like a baseball backstop or playground equipment — that might need to be moved in the future. As a result, these open spaces would be earmarked for passive-use recreation only. D.E.P. would work with the Parks Department, the community and the local councilmembers (Corey Johnson for Hudson St.; Margaret Chin for Grand St.; and Rosie Mendez for E. Fourth St.) on the design of the open spaces, and the designs would go through a community review process. The Public Design Commission would also be involved in the process for the Hudson and Grand St. sites, while the Landmarks Preservation Commission would be involved in the E. Fourth St. project, since it is adjacent to the historic Merchant’s House Museum, New York City’s first individually designated landmark. For each new park, D.E.P. and Parks would enter into a licensing agreement regarding the use and maintenance of the aboveground space. Specifically, at Hudson and W. Hous-


October 6, 2016

File photo by Tequila Minsky

At a rally to save the Elizabeth St. Garden two weeks ago, Sharon D’Lugoff, left, daughter of the late Village Gate impresario Ar t D’Lugoff, stood nex t to a photo of the long-vacant cit y-owned lot on Hudson St. that C.B. 2 is urging the de Blasio administration to use for a housing project instead of building it on the garden. The blown-up photo was resting against one of the garden’s signature lion monuments. However, de Blasio on Tuesday announced a plan to develop the Hudson St. lot as a park, with the possibilit y of also building some affordable housing there.

ton Sts., the public open space would be 11,250 square feet in size. The full site, however, contains about 25,000 square feet. According to Grace’s email, “The remaining portion of the site may be suitable for affordable housing and is being considered for development.” The site at Grand and Lafayette Sts. is 12,500 square feet, and the one at E. Fourth St. and Bowery is 9,750 square feet. Two of the new parks — at Grand St. and E. Fourth St. — will no doubt be welcome. But the park now slated for Hudson St. flies in the face of the community’s call for the de Blasio administration to preserve the Elizabeth St. Garden — an already existing green open space — and instead use the West Side lot for housing. Three weeks ago, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development issued a request for proposals, or R.F.P., for developers for the senior affordable housing project on the Elizabeth St. Garden, which is about a 20,000-square-foot site. Bowing slightly to the community’s demands, the R.F.P. states that applicants’ plans must include 5,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space in the project. Community Board 2 is on record calling on de Blasio to shift this planned housing project to the currently vacant lot at Hudson St. However, in the past, C.B. 2 actually did support using this Hudson St. site for a park once the D.E.P. water-shaft project was completed. More recently, as the fight over the Elizabeth St. Garden escalated, D.E.P. reportedly had said the Hudson

St. site no longer would be a park. But now de Blasio and D.E.P. are saying it will be one. However, the Lower West Side openspace landscape has changed over the years since the original agreement on the Hudson St. lot was hashed out with the city. With the Hudson River Park now built and its Pier 40 having become a thriving youth sports mecca, the area is no longer so desperately starved for open space. Instead, advocates for the Elizabeth St. Garden say, it’s Little Italy that so sorely needs open green space. Tobi Bergman, the current chairperson of C.B. 2, years ago — as a youth sports activist — worked to secure the agreement with D.E.P. for a park at the Hudson St. lot once the watershaft work was finished. But, in recent years, as saving the Elizabeth St. Garden has become a huge neighborhood cause, Bergman hit on the idea of using the vacant Hudson St. lot for the housing project, so as to save the treasured Little Italy garden. Plus, much more affordable housing simply could be built on Hudson St. compared to Elizabeth St., Bergman stressed — 300 units versus 60 — since the West Side lot could be rezoned, unlike the Elizabeth St. lot, which is constrained by the seven-story height cap of the Little Italy Special District. Regardless of which site the housing would be built on, 50 percent of the units would be allotted to local C.B. 2 residents in an H.P.D. lottery. The other 50 percent of the apartments would be awarded to applicants drawn from the whole city. So, in other words, wherever the housing is built within the C.B. 2 district, it would not change

who would qualify to live there. In addition, Bergman noted, Elizabeth St. was initially designated as a housing site by Chin — without any notification to the community — because she wanted to add another 100 affordable units to the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, or SPURA, development project, which is actually in C.B. 3. However, since the Elizabeth St. site is in C.B. 2, applicants from C.B. 3 would be given no priority for apartments in a future housing project there, Bergman noted. Bergman said the issues are complex, so he wanted to submit his statement to The Villager in writing. In his detailed statement, he said: “I started working on getting open space on the D.E.P. sites 21 years ago, so I am obviously happy to hear that D.E.P. has again reversed itself in the right direction, and now again plans keep the promise to build public open space on the shaft sites. “The site on E. Fourth St. will be a great benefit to the Merchant’s House and its neighbors and visitors, and the Grand and Lafayette corner site is in an area that will greatly benefit from a new park. “But it is just not true that the plan to offer only 11,250 square feet at the site on Hudson St. ‘follows through on promises made’ because, in fact, the full 25,000-square-foot site was originally promised as a park. Community Board 2 offered to support use of most of this site for affordable housing, but only if the administration agrees to create a new park at at the cherished Elizabeth St. Garden, and Councilmember Corey Johnson [in whose site the Hudson St. GArden continued on p. 31

Horror ham to higher plane: A chatty clown evolves ‘Myth’ posits Dandy Darkly as a presence with power BY SCOTT STIFFLER


e’s been doing it in the basement for a few good years now — attracting crowds that is, who eagerly flock to Horse Trade Theater Group’s intimate underground space on St. Marks Place every time southern-fried storyteller Dandy Darkly mounts a new collection of zingerlaced gothic tales. If you have yet to be seduced by the lilting voice and penetrating presence of this mincing, menacing, alliteration-loving oracle, it’s high time to give in, because “Myth Mouth” is the supernaturally gifted phenom’s strongest, strangest creation yet. Brilliantly written, beautifully structured, and delivered in a damn near flawless manner that seems both effortless and unrehearsed (impossible, given the sheer volume of meticulous wordplay), “Myth” hits the viewer like something Joseph Campbell, Kenneth Anger, and Paul Lynde would concoct after passing around a gourd filled with shrooms and absinthe. What’s more, this is virgin territory for Darkly — one long, beefy narrative, as opposed to his usual handful of bloodsoaked, stand-alone morality tales that invoke the pulpy best of ancient fables, dimestore novels, and horror anthology comic books. That these influences served as basic building blocks in previous efforts is not to say those shows were anything less than incredibly original or immensely entertaining. The stage persona of Georgia-born Brooklynite Neil Arthur James, Dandy Darkly is a vehicle for his queer creator to celebrate, critique, and often recoil at what attracts meek wannabes and bold adventurers alike to the lure of sex, drugs, violence, and revenge. Past monologues have seen zombies, witches, werewolves, shape-shifters, and slasher film final girls used to explore celebrity worship, PTSD, gun

culture, misogyny, gentrification, self-loathing, and good old-fashioned bad intentions. As seen in a June NYC preview before it killed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, we can happily report that “Myth Mouth” is a giant step in Darkly’s ongoing evolution as a spinner of yarns, a social critic, and an all-around keen observer. Cha-Cha the Caveman — humanity’s first pop star, religious extremist, tyrannical leader, and recovering addict — is the tale’s throughline, which shifts back and forth through the millennia-long hero’s journey of this “Stone Age sissy…blissfully unburdened by the bluster that so defined his hunter brothers.” Notable stops along the way include scenes from a codependent virtual reality courtship, a glimpse of Soviet space pooch Laika’s secret Cold War mission, front seats to a modern day anthropology lecture, and a party of cosmic proportions that has Cha-Cha rubbing elbows and clicking heels with the likes of Walt Whitman, Joan Crawford, Alvin Ailey, Alan Turing, and Prince. Don’t try to process that last part, just surrender yourself — because the epic feast of words and images flowing from this “Mouth” makes perfect sense when all is said and done, and will send you on your way tuned into a frequency that, like all good myths, has lasting power. Written and performed by Dandy Darkly. Directed by Ian Bjorklund. Soundscape by Adam Tendler, Rachel Blumberg, and Bryce Edwards. Fri., Oct. 14, Thurs., Oct. 20 & Sat., Oct. 22 at 10:30pm; 7pm shows on Mon./Tues., Oct. 17/18, Sun./Mon./Tues., Oct. 23, 24, 25. At UNDER St. Marks Theater (no wheelchair access; 94 St. Marks Place, btw. First Ave. & Ave. A). For tickets ($20), Artist info: dandydarkly. com and Twitter @dandydarkly.


Far out: Darkly’s latest takes you from the dawn of man to deepest outer space. October Octoer 6, 2016


At Merchant’s House, the dead are still touring

‘Spirited’ events play up the museum’s haunted rep BY SCOTT STIFFLER


rom spooky hayrides to cheesy corn mazes to pop-up attractions populated by costumed actors who have little to offer beyond jumping out and yelling “boo,” discerning fans of the spooky and strange are understandably jaded by Halloween-themed events that promise supernatural thrills, but only manage to deliver poorly crafted, man-made tomfoolery. How fortunate we Manhattan souls are, then, to have a genuine haunted house that has no problem living up to its well-earned reputation for disembodied footsteps, sightings of fully-formed apparitions, shoulder taps from unseen sources, and an all-around feeling that you’re not alone, even when your rational mind tells you otherwise. Open to self-guided tours all year long, Merchant’s House Museum is making the most of its penchant for paranormal activity with a series of October events whose chills come with easily digestible history lessons about the wealthy Tredwell family, generations of whom lived in the house from 1835 to 1933. Since opening to the public as a museum 80 years ago, dozens of visitors and staff members swear the long-dead residents of this remarkably preserved E. Fourth St. row house have made appearances in the Greek Revival double parlors, on the narrow staircases, and in a basement kitchen that, servant bells and all, is right out of “Downton Abbey.” But the Crawleys never laid out their dead for all to see, as was the custom of the Tredwells (and they had plenty of occasions to do so; seven family members died in the house!). Through Oct. 31, the exhibition “Truly We Live in a Dying World: A 19th Century Home in Mourning” drapes the front parlor in black crepe, as an uncomfortably realistic version of Tredwell patriarch Seabury lies in repose (the easily spooked are advised not to make eye contact with his portrait, hung uncomfortably close to the coffin). On Sun., Oct. 23 at 4pm, “Parlor to Grave” recreates the 1865 funeral service of Seabury, with a discussion about the death-centric customs of the time. Period-accurate

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October October6, 6, 2016 2016


Purchase a VIP ticket to the “Parlor to Grave” event, and you could be giving the coffin a death grip.

mourning attire is encouraged. VIP tickets include front-row seating, black armbands, and the opportunity to lead the procession as a pallbearer, for a graveside service at nearby Marble Cemetery. On Tues., Oct. 11 at 6:30pm, “Probing for Paranormal Proof” is a fascinating if occasionally unsettling lecture delivered by the physically imposing, often jovial, and still-skeptical Dan Sturges. Dozens of times over the past near-decade, his investigative team has been given exclusive access to the public and private areas of Merchant’s House, with psychics, mediums, video and audio recording equipment, and EMF meters (and, on

occasion, this jittery writer) in tow. After a crash course on paranormal terms and research equipment, you’ll see photo and video footage of ghostly silhouettes and flying orbs, and hear audio of disembodied voices that seem to interact with the investigators. Add to that the recording of a thing that really did go bump in the night, and the takeaway is a catalog of occurrences that, while proving nothing beyond the fact that strange things do indeed happen here, is still nothing short of extraordinary. Less likely to rattle and more prone to entertain is Fri., Oct. 14’s “Chant Macabre: Songs from the Crypt,” a

7pm program from the Bond Street Euterpean Singing Society. What they lack in spine-tingling shock value they more than make up for with world-class vocal chops, wry humor, and a seriously scary ability, through pre-song patter, to transport you back in time, to when these songs of death and enchantment first cast their spell on audiences. Selections include Moussorgsky’s “Trepak” (1875; from the “Songs and Dances of Death” cycle), and the 1871 ballad “Denny Malone’s Ghost.” On Sat., Oct. 15, “A Séance at the Merchant’s House” is just that, with 7, 8:30 & 10pm recreations of a 19th century séance. Mentalist and magician Kent Axell guides the proceedings, and provides some background on how the cultural phenomenon of spiritualism existed alongside an increasingly rational, scientific world. Feeling lucky? Get your tickets now before they’re gone; this event is limited to 13 participants. If still alive to tell the tale, tempt fate at the Sun., Oct. 31, 7pm “Tales From the Crypt: Horror on Halloween” gathering, which features readings of envelopepushing, paranormal-themed prose from the Tredwell era. Finally, should tickets still be available by this point, dear reader, the annual “Ghost Tours” (times and dates vary, Oct. 21–30) are conducted by some of the very people who have experienced the strange goings-on you’ll hear about — in the very rooms in which they took place. There’s no guarantee that somebody (or something) from the great beyond will reach out and touch you as you tour the house; but the staff has become used to fielding phone calls the following day by shaken and stirred guests who swear they’ve seen, felt, heard, or sensed a ghost. Prices vary for these events, and discounts are available to museum members. Reservations are strongly suggested, and in some cases, required. For more info, visit Merchant’s House Museum is located at 29 E. Fourth St. (btw. Bowery & Lafayette). Regular hours: Fri..–Mon., 12–5pm; Thurs., 12–8pm. Admission is $13, $8 for students/seniors. Visit or call 212-777-1089.

Good day sunshine Gay punk progenitor Danny Fields’ story told in bubble-gum hues BY STEVE ERICKSON


ut gay music scenester Danny Fields, the subject of Brendan Toller’s documentary “Danny Says,” had a knack for arriving just before the zeitgeist. As a “hippie yenta” at Elektra Records, he was involved in the company’s decision to sign MC5 and the Stooges. At the time, the bands sold few records and dissolved in a mess of controversy over four-letter words — MC5 were dropped by Elektra after taking out a newspaper ad using the word “fuck” and the record label’s logo — and drug abuse. They’re now legendary for influencing punk rock, and Stooges songs have even been used in TV commercials. But in 1969, Fields had to convince his colleagues that the racket these bands made was indeed music — in a recorded phone call in 1970, Stooges singer Iggy Pop swears that the band’s second album, “Fun House,” will convince everyone the band really knows how to play. Fields went on to manage the Ramones. Their 1976 debut album went gold. It just took 38 years to do so. “Danny Says” is largely edited to sound like a monologue from Fields. Toller does interview an array of other people, from glam/horror icon Alice Cooper to folksinger Judy Collins to one of Fields’ former assistants. He uses a wealth of period photos, many of which seem to have been found on Fields’ bedroom wall. He lets Fields control the story; despite the “existential despair” his assistant describes, it’s a fairly happy-go-lucky one. In one of his more dubious decisions, he introduced Iggy Pop to cocaine, but if he ever came close to becoming a drug casualty himself, he doesn’t talk about it. Since many of the people Fields reminisces about, such as Jim Morrison and Warhol superstar Nico, are dead, “Danny Says” illustrates his stories with animation. Four different animators worked on the film, creating a variety of styles. There’s a psychedelic depiction of Morrison’s drug indulgences and starker imagery more appropriate to the Ramones’ minimalism. Fields says that everyone in his family realized he was gay before him. He was born in the late ’30s and was already 30 when the Stonewall Rebellion took place. However, he describes ’60s gay life with little angst, recalling a Boston scene revolving around two bars and cruising on the Brooklyn Bridge. He attended Harvard Law School but eventually dropped out to concentrate on his social life, which included plenty of sex. One of his friends says “I was never in” the closet, before adding that he never saw the need to tell


L to R: Danny Fields, Iggy Pop, Lisa Robinson, David Bowie.

his parents about his sexuality. Recalling his time managing the Ramones, Fields also remembers lots of sex. I was curious what it was like to be openly gay in the hippie and punk scenes, but Fields doesn’t really discuss these subjects. He did create one major controversy in 1966, reprinting controversial comments from a British Beatles interview in a magazine aimed at teenagers. One of these was an anti-racist statement from Paul McCartney using the N-word, but the one that people still remember is John Lennon’s claim that “the Beatles are bigger than Jesus.” This led to KKK protests, record burnings, apologetic press conferences, and, some claim, the end of the Beatles’ career as a touring band (although the increasing complexity of their music and its reliance on instrumentation beyond guitars, bass, and drums might have had something to do with that). Fields says he never liked the Beatles much. In a way, his act of reprinting the comments was as much of a punk gesture as his promotion of MC5, the Stooges, or the Ramones. There are some major gaps in “Danny Says.” What did Fields do for a living after he stopped managing the Ramones? The film never tells us. Actor/director John Cameron Mitchell is interviewed, suggesting a connection, but it is never spelled out. Hints of depression come through,


Danny Fields and Nico.

but Toller never follows up on them. The film is edited to offer a particularly cheerful slant on Fields’ life, with suggestions of something darker coming through occasionally. Still, many Baby Boomers acted as though Woodstock was the high point of Western culture and that the evolution of rock music ended in 1969. Fields was perceptive enough to recognize that it kept going and that he could continue to participate in it. Any punk fan should be grateful. Runtime: 104 minutes. Directed by Brendan Toller. At IFC Center (323 Sixth Ave., at W. Third St.). Call 212-924-7771 or visit Octoer6,6,2016 2016 October

23 23

Just Do Art



Peter Michael Marino musters up the courage to attend his Oct. 12 show, “Show Up.”

Author Aidan Donnelley Rowley, at the Oct. 11 Pen Parentis Literary Salon.


“SHOW UP” Top-notch improvisational comedy chops require that you abandon fear — but what about that general, nagging feeling of reluctance and unease? Writer, director, teacher, and longtime Chelsea resident Peter Michael Marino’s upcoming “semi-written” solo show has the veteran funnyman “coming out as a performer with social anxiety.” Marino is keeping things loose by creating scenes based on the lives of audience members, and recruiting some of them to (no pressure!) run the lights and guide the show’s direction. The result, he hopes, will examine his own social anxiety while giving you heightened sensitivity to its manifestation in everyday life. “Don’t think people make the decision to be a hermit or be the awkward person at the party,” Marino

224 4

October October 6, 6, 2016 2016

noted, adding, “There are people I see on a regular basis who I’ve never actually said ‘Hello’ to, and they’ve never said that to me. And I think, why does that guy hate me? Then you find out he has social anxiety, and you learn they’re not an asshole!” Wed., Oct 12, 8pm at the PIT Loft (154 W. 29 St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). For tickets ($10), visit Also visit

PEN PARENTIS LITERARY SALONS Raising kids can drive you to drink, that’s for sure — but can their constant presence inspire you to new creative heights? Find out by totally ditching them for one night every month, for the rest of 2016, at the fall slate of Pen Parentis Literary Salon events. There, you will rub shoulders with other overseers of the juice box set, and lift your spirits by raising a glass. Open to all

but programmed with working and aspiring authors in mind, the evening begins with an informal networking session, followed by readings, then a panel discussion from three writers who also happen to be parents. The Oct. 11 theme, “Never Give Up: Writers on Tenacity,” features Oregon-based novelist Jamie Duclos-Yourdon, and local writers Courtney Zoffness (serial comma advocate, former managing editor of The Earth Times) and Aidan Donnelley Rowley (occasional Twitter delinquent, author of “The Ramblers”). “Election Day Madness” is the well-timed focus of Nov. 8, and they close out the year on Dec. 13 with a “Holiday Author Mingle.” Pen Parentis stalwart members M. M. De Voe and Christina Chiu are your panel moderators on most given nights. Free. Tues., Oct. 11, 7–9:30pm, at Andaz Wall Street (75 Wall St., entrance at Water St., second floor). RSVP to this 21+ event (wine provided by the venue) is encouraged, via

Buhmann on Art Ernst Caramelle at Peter Freeman, Inc.


Untitled (2016). Pigments, water on wall. Site specific. 215 3/4 x 564 1/2 inches (548 x 1433.8 cm).



he Austrian conceptualist Ernst Caramelle, who resides in New York part-time, is known for his geometrically based abstractions — which often employ non-traditional materials, such as wine and sunlight. This particular exhibition (“Ernst Caramelle: seri-

ous candy revisited”) will feature a selection of exactly these so-called “Sun Pieces,” for which Caramelle uses sunlight and stencils in order to discolor construction paper to varying degrees. In addition, a variety of the artist’s “quasipaintings,” which usually involve gesso, will be on display. In fact, “quasi” — the idea that something can resemble

rather than be categorized as something specific — is a big theme here. Along these lines Caramelle will also create a “quasi-fresco,” a large-scale watercolor wall painting. This work will share characteristics with his stunning site-specific installations, in which the artist reacts to an exhibition space by turning its doorways, walls, and floors into a blank, three-dimensional canvas. In these works, which count among the artist’s finest, geometric compositions become an environment that can be

entered and physically experienced. For over four decades, Caramelle has confidently navigated between abstraction and illusion. Drawing from a visual vocabulary based on dichotomies, he skillfully plays with the opposition of flatness and depth, or transparency and opacity. Through Oct. 29, at Peter Freeman, Inc. (140 Grand St., btw. Crosby & Lafayette Sts.). Hours: Tues.–Sat., 10am– 6pm. Call 212-966-5154 or visit

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Rabbi runs vs. Hoylman; Does he have a prayer? Election continued from p. 14

Hoylman is also the prime sponsor of a state Senate bill to limit legislators’ outside income, which was former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s downfall. He added that he was the first legislator to call for Silver to resign after corruption charges against him were announced this past January. Another bill Hoylman supports would close the “LLC loophole” that helps special interests influence elections with their contributions. Democrats’ gaining control of the Senate has impacts ranging far beyond campaign finance and ethics reform, though, he noted. “We need to codify Roe v. Wade, and that needs a Democratic state Senate,” Hoylman said. “At the moment, the federal government is protecting New York State from encroachments on reproductive rights. We are vulnerable to the whims of the next Supreme Court. We have to win [back the state Senate] in order to make change — that’s the bottom line.” On other issues, in a signature piece of legislation, Hoylman is the sponsor of the Child Victims Act, which would eliminate the statute of limitations in civil cases of child sexual abuse and give victims older than age 23 a “oneyear lookback” period to file a claim. Again, the Republicans are blocking this bill. On marijuana, Hoylman said he supports legalizing it “and using it as a tax base.” On healthcare insurance, he backs the single-payer plan being pushed by Assemblymember Richard Gottfried. He said he’s not only concerned about middle-class housing, but preserving the district’s public-housing stock. Hoylman also noted he was arrested last year outside the governor’s office protesting for stronger rent protections. Hoylman earned EPL Environmental Advocates’ “Legislator of the Year” award last year for his leading effort to make GE finish its cleanup of PCB’s from the Hudson River and his staunch opposition to fracking. He recalled how he stood up on the floor of the capitol and challenged Republican state Senators about their denials of global warming. A leader on L.G.B.T. rights, he pointed out, “I have led the charge to end gay conversion therapy.” And then there’s Hoylman’s decade of activism in the community. He listed fighting overdevelopment and New York University’s expansion, and advocating for a new school at 75 Morton St. and a Village AIDS memorial as a few of the local high-profile causes he has been active on. In short, Hoylman said of Roberts’s


October 6, 2016

challenge: Bring it on! “It’s actually healthy and helpful and instructional,” he said, “and part of my job as an elected official and a candidate — I welcome it.” Asked if he would debate Roberts, he said, “Sure! It’s always a healthy, positive thing.” Roberts said he thought something else he shared with Hoylman was that they are both Jewish. But The Villager told him that probably was not the case. Roberts was very curious to learn more about this. While Hoylman’s husband, David Sigal, is Jewish, Hoylman was raised Christian in West Virginia. As for Roberts, he is originally from Florida, and moved to New York to attend Hebrew Union College, on W. Fourth St. Hoylman is a member of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, the city’s leading L.G.B.T. synagogue, which recently relocated from rented space in Westbeth to a building it now owns in Chelsea. Basically, Roberts said people he has spoken to in the district think Hoylman is Jewish, and he implied that Hoylman is perhaps portraying himself as something that he is not. Hoylman took that charge very seriously, and went to some lengths to explain his feelings on the subject. “I’m a member of a temple, a transplanted New Yorker, from a small town in West Virginia, someone who had a great advantage given to them through education,” Hoylman said. “I’d like to see that educational opportunity for all New Yorkers. I wasn’t born a New Yorker, but I’ll die one. “I strongly believe that an individual’s religious convictions are irrelevant to public office,” he continued. “But since you asked, I’m a proud member of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah. I certainly don’t need to pretend to be anything I’m not. So while I’ve not formally converted yet, I do identify with my husband’s Jewish faith. I follow exclusively his religious traditions and we’re raising our daughter in a Jewish home. C.B.S.T. is where we were married and had our daughter’s baby-naming.” Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, who has led C.B.S.T. for 25 years, said of Roberts’s questioning Hoylman’s religious identity, “It’s a non-issue. Brad has been a longtime member of the synagogue. His daughter is in our Hebrew school, and will have her bat mitzvah here when she is old enough. It’s a non-issue whether he’s formally converted. He’s a full member of the synagogue and an active participant. Brad does more to contribute to our Jewish community and synagogue than many people who are Jewish. Deeds count.” Councilmember Corey Johnson is a familiar presence there, too, she said, noting, “Corey is not a member, but

we like to think of him as an honorary member.” Assemblymember Deborah Glick is also a longtime member, she added. Allen Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, said he didn’t know much about Roberts, but deemed him a minor challenge. Why does he feel the need to challenge Hoylman, of all people? he asked. “I don’t really have time to focus on such insignificant races,” Roskoff said. “It’s ridiculous. Brad is very popular and well-liked in the district. He’s smart. He’s absolutely attentive to the community. He’s going places. He’s a player.” As for Roberts’s doubts about Hoylman’s religion, Roskoff scoffed, “It’s totally irrelevant. It’s very Trumpesque to bring somebody’s religion into the race.” Regarding Roberts’s criticism of

fantasy football gaming being passed, Roskoff said, “It wasn’t Brad’s bill — and so what? You want to blame someone? Blame the five I.D.C. [Independent Democratic Conference] people who f---ed the Democratic Party and have stopped anything from happening.” Simply put, he said, Hoylman’s an upstanding, straight-shooting politician, adding, “And I don’t say nice things about many people!” Don’t try telling that to Roberts, though. “Brad seems to embody Albany’s culture of corruption,” the rabbi charged. “One cannot legislate morality. But the voters can elect moral and ethical people to work for them — who do what they say and say what they do.” The voters will decide on Nov. 8. So be it.

Letters to The Editor Letters continued from p. 18

It was a knockout To The Editor: Re “Bleecker boxers’ drive to ‘Knockout The Vote’ ” (news article, Sept. 29): Great article, and having a boxing club at 9 Bleecker St. is a better outcome than it becoming a TD bank branch. I did see a few brawls there before they went “legit.” LOL. First, dispose of the orange emperor, then impeach the Clintons for election fraud. It’s time to vote with our feet, our dollars. Vote every day, that’s what I always say. Alan Thompson

Abbie, forgive them! To The Editor: Re “Bleecker boxers’ drive to ‘Knockout The Vote’ ” (news article, Sept. 29): The place has been transformed into a Hillary Clinton campaign HQ. Abbie Hoffman is spinning in his grave. John Penley

Trains need belts To The Editor: In view of this recent train crash in Hoboken, I again can’t help but wonder why there are no seat belts on trains in this country, and why

they are not required. These past few years have seen several trains crash with people seriously injured or killed. It’s not difficult to imagine the violent jolt that occurs when a train suddenly veers off the tracks or “plows” into a terminal as last week’s train did. Wouldn’t seat belts be a good idea? At least bodies would not be flying out of seats into windows, down aisles or into other people. Some years ago, on a commercial airline flight, I was in a crash landing. Actually, it was four crash landings, as the pilot, who it turned out was on some sort of medication, lifted the plane up, crashed again, and repeated two more times. Overhead compartments jerked open and luggage flew out, hitting people’s heads and the backs of seats. But if it hadn’t been for the seat belts we were all wearing, people would also have been flying and crashing around the interior of the plane. As luck would have it, there were no deaths and few serious injuries. It seems to me that seat belts are desperately needed on trains. At least give people the option to use them or not. Ralph Nader, help! Dee Vitale Henle E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager. com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.

Garden switcheroo Garden continued from p. 20

lot is located] has promised to support the board’s decision. “The Hudson St. site can include 300,000 square feet, enough for five times as much senior housing as can be built at Elizabeth St. Half of these units would be offered on a priority basis to C.B. 2 residents. That compares to only 30 units that would be C.B. 2 residents that would have priority for at Elizabeth St. Simply put, that means the Chin / H.P.D. plan, created without community consultation and against the will of local residents and businesses, will deprive 120 senior families in C.B. 2 of new affordable housing that they would have under the C.B. 2 plan, all because of a disingenuous promise made to residents of the Lower East Side when SPURA was approved. As for the residents outside C.B. 2 to whom Chin promised housing at Elizabeth St., they would only have a chance for housing there if the required open lottery could be illegally sidestepped. “We appreciate this decision and it is a step in the right direction,” Bergman said. “But Elizabeth St. Garden is already a beautiful park, the most popular small park in C.B. 2. We urge Mayor de Blasio to visit the garden, so he can see for himself the beautiful

place his administration plans to destroy while at the same time squandering an opportunity to build 300 units for seniors in the Village.” Meanwhile, supporters of the Elizabeth St. Garden plan to rally this Thurs., Oct. 6, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. outside H.P.D.’s 100 Gold St. offices. Inside, potential developers of the Elizabeth St. Garden will be meeting for a “pre-submission conference.” Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Yuh-Line Niou, the Democratic nominee for the 65th Assembly District, have confirmed they will attend the protest. On Tuesday, Jeannine Kiely, the founder of Friends of Elizabeth St. Garden, said “nothing has changed” with the mayor’s announcement. “I am thrilled that the city has reaffirmed its commitment to transfer the water tunnel sites to the city Parks Department, particularly in a community with one of the lowest open space ratios in the city,” she said. “But nothing has changed. The Hudson and Clarkson site can still provide five times more affordable housing than can be built on Elizabeth St. Garden, located in the highly restrictive Special Little Italy District. Moreover, the garden can be transferred to the city’s Parks Department without significant capital cost to New York City.”


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