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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 13, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 41

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With tower taken out, Landmarks approves Jane building design BY DENNIS LYNCH

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he Landmarks Preservation Commission O.K.’d a much-revised application to convert two Jane St. industrial buildings in the Greenwich Village Historic District into a “mega-mansion” at a Tuesday hearing. Local preservationists applauded the revised proposal, which elimi-

Why We’re

nated elements that some said were wildly out of context with the neighborhood’s character. The director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, whose group came out against the original proposal along with Community Board 2, called it a “gratifying outcome.”

PINK

JANE continued on p. 12

Inside: Breast Cancer Awareness Month special section. See Pages 3 to 8.

Driverless cars are coming, but will city drive them crazy?

Teachers, teams, tweens: Buzz builds for 75 Morton BY SAR A HENDRICKSON

BY JACKSON CHEN

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ith driverless vehicles rapidly moving from sci-fi to reality, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is out ahead of the curve, trying to get a better sense of how this new transportation mode will impact this most congested

borough — and vice versa. The tech-savvy B.P. is pushing discussion about the many gray areas raised by this major change that is surely coming. During a recent panel talk Brewer hosted on driverless vehicles, a representative of Audi, the German car manuDRIVERLESS continued on p. 10

Will Chin face a challenge? . ..p. 5 Before Hillary was Victoria ... p. 25

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t the middle school fair last month, the 75 Morton school table was bustling with parents and fifth graders eager to meet the new principal, Jacqui Getz, and get an inside look at this highly anticipated new middle school in Greenwich Village, opening in fall 2017. M.S. 297 (75 Morton) is a new school, but Getz is anything but a newbie. Her 30 years of experience in New York City schools spans the gamut: teacher, literacy ex-

pert, assistant principal and most recently principal of P.S. 126 / MAT, a pre-K-to-eighthgrade Chinatown school with a wide range of family ethnicities and income levels. Getz is highly regarded for creating that school’s inquiry-based instruction, strengthening parent involvement and instilling teacher collaboration. Getz was even profiled five years ago in a New York Times article, “The Secrets of a Principal Who Makes Things Work,” that highlighted her talent in hiring inspirational teachers and chatting it

up with students during lunch in the cafeteria. “My principal says great things about her,” commented several parents mingling near the 75 Morton table at the middle school fair. P.S. 234 fifth grader Sara Khana admired poster boards with renderings of 75 Morton’s gleaming cafeteria and cozy library. “I would love to go to a new school, it doesn’t scare me at all!” she pronounced to her mother, Samjhana.

This Week’s Pink Newspaper in Recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is Sponsored by www.TheVillager.com

SCHOOL continued on p. 14


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TheVillager.com 9/28/16 11:48 AM


Gotham’s healthcare system is a bold pioneer predating nation’s founding BY SHAVANA ABRUZZO

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he colonials were still 40 years away from declaring independence from the British when the Publick Workhouse and House of Correction opened a humble, sixbed infirmary in 1736 on the site of present-day City Hall that eventually became America’s oldest continuously operating hospital. Bellevue Hospital Center, once a small pest house built on a patch of land leased from Kips Bay Farm to prepare for a yellow fever epidemic, is an acute-care, general hospital where the president and visiting world leaders are treated if they become sick or injured in the Big Apple, and its team of experts are steering the flagship institution of NYC Health + Hospitals — the nation’s largest municipal healthcare organization — to new triumphs. The Harvard-educated chief of breast surgery, whom Caribbean Today magazine hailed as one of the “10 Top Caribbean Born Doctors In The U.S. You Should Know,” is a fierce medical gladiator looking out for the ailing like a lioness minding her cubs. “The patient can be assured that he or she is receiving the highest level of care by a dedicated team of doctors, nurses, and support staff,” says Dr. Kathie-Ann Joseph, also an associate professor of surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center, whose innovations include piloting a navigation program in districts where cancer rates are high and screening rates are low, and creating a community tumor board allowing clinical staff throughout the health system to present and discuss interesting, difficult, or unusual cases.

NYC Health + Hospitals

Breast health leader: Bellevue Hospital Center is the only Health + Hospitals hospital offering microvascular-free flap reconstruction.

FULL RANGE OF MULTIDISCIPLINARY CARE The hospital’s full range of multidisciplinary care includes: • Neoadjuvant therapy (chemotherapy prior to surgery) for locally advanced breast cancer. • Genetic counseling, nutrition, and psychological support, and services such as massage, legal aid, and financial services. • Nipple-sparing mastectomy and tissuebased reconstruction. • Survivorship clinics.

EXCELLENCE IN BREAST CARE The American College of Surgeons awarded Bellevue’s breast care services a Center of Excellence accreditation in 2014, the highest form of clinical and quality care recognition for breast cancer centers in the country, thanks to a highly skilled breast team dedicated to providing quality, customized care. “We have patient navigators that speak several languages, and survivors that help our patients get through what can be a very scary and stressful situation,” says Dr. Joseph. “We do what we can to make the process easier for our patients.” TheVillager.com

NYC Health + Hospitals

Among the best: The American College of Surgeons awarded Bellevue’s breast care ser vices a Center of Excellence accreditation in 2014, the highest form of clinical andquality care recognition for breast cancer centers in the countr y.

Bellevue is also a leader in repairing the space left in the body after the cancer has been removed. “We are the only Health + Hospitals hospital that offers microvascular-free flap reconstruction,” says Dr. Joseph, who strives to provide patients with the best options — sometimes against all odds. Once a patient who was diagnosed with recurrent breast cancer needed a mastectomy, but she was too thin for a tissue-based reconstruction of the breast mound and did not want an implant, the physician recalls. “Rather than just telling her she was out of options, our plastic surgeons put their heads together, spoke with other colMetroPlus continued on p. 8 October 13, 2016

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Why we’re pink: Raising awareness Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association News Story, First Place, 2015 Editorial Page, First Place, 2015 Editorials, First Place, 2014 News Story, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Best Column, First Place, 2012 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011 Spot News Coverage, First Place, 2010 Coverage of Environment, First Place, 2009

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October 13, 2016

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and a time for us all to redouble our efforts to eradicate the second leading killer of women in America. NYC Community Media’s third annual pink edition is dedicated to the need for early intervention because we share the struggle, and are mindful of the sobering statistics and excruciating toll of this deadly disease: • Roughly 40,290 women and 440 men will die from breast cancer before the year’s end, estimates the American Cancer Society. •  One in eight American women will be diagnosed with the disease in her lifetime. •  Every two minutes an American woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. •  Every 13 minutes a woman dies of breast cancer in our country. •  About 85 percent of cases occur in women with no family history of breast cancer. Like most people, we have had friends and family battle cancer. Anyone who has watched the impact of this terrible disease on sufferers and their loved ones understands the urgency for a cure. Our commitment to supporting breast cancer awareness and the decision to start our annual

Holly called it that because she floated across the floor, living her life, enjoying every moment, and touching everyone with her smile, spirit and love of life. Cancer never stopped her, she simply moved through life alongside it. As an automotive writer, Holly traveled the world to the most exotic places, test driving the most exotic cars. But her favorite place was with her husband Mike, and children Dylan and Jenna Kreitman. Her family gave her the courage, style and grace to “dance with cancer” for such a long time. As all of her friends stop to remember Holly’s kindness, charm, wit, lust for life and beautiful light that shined from within, there is only one thing I can say: Find a cure, dammit! Until then, we hope our pink edition makes people who would not ordinarily read our newspaper stop, pick it up, read it, and then turn to their families and friends and ask if they have been screened, or offer to go with them for this life-saving examination. pink paper in 2014 was inspired by my friend Holly Reich and her recent, and third, diagnosis with breast cancer. The third

bout would go on to become a forth and fifth before she left us last Thursday, concluding her 20-year “dance with cancer.”

Jennifer Goodstein Publisher, NYC Community Media

Breast best defense includes 3D mammography By Lincoln Anderson

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owntowners now have a powerful new ally on their side in the fight against breast cancer: The outpatient imaging center at Lenox Health Greenwich Village. More to the point, they have Dr. Kavita Patel, the center’s medical director, whose training was specifically in breast imaging. The imaging center opened this July on the third floor of Northwell’s new comprehensive care center, at W. 13th St. and Seventh Ave. The building’s first floor opened one year earlier as a stand-alone emergency department. As far as breast-imaging services, the heart of the new center is its state-of-the-art tomosynthesis mammogram machine. Annual mammograms are the only screening test proven to reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer. Starting screenings at age 40 saves significantly more lives and adds more years of life for survivors than delaying screening until age 45 or 50. As opposed to old-school mammograms, tomosynthesis, which was approved by the F.D.A. in 2008, represents a quantum leap forward. The older machines would only

Photo by Tequila Minsky

Dr. Kavita Patel, head of the imaging center at Lenox Health Greenwich Village.

X-ray the breast in two dimensions — so it was much harder to distinguish different tissues and identify problems if they were there. Tomosynthesis, on the other hand, takes many “slices” of the breast, both vertically and horizontally, giving an exponen-

tially more accurate picture of what is going on. As Patel explained, there are actually four different types of breast density, ranging from fatty to extremely dense. Having dense breast tissue may increase the chance of getting cancer. (Under a new New York State law, signed into effect by Governor Andrew Cuomo, women’s mammogram results must now also include one of four letters indicating their type of breast density.) Dense breasts also make it harder to detect the disease in both self-exams and traditional mammograms. Tomosynthesis, though has changed the equation. “We are now ‘slicing’ instead of going just on top,” Patel explained of the revolutionary diagnostic tool. “This has made a significant, significant difference. It’s increasing the cancer detection rate by 20 to 30 percent.” There were initially concerns about increased radiation from tomosynthesis. But according to Patel, due to improved technology, the dose doled out by the machines is now no greater than 2D mammograms. “This is a huge breakthrough,” she said. Mammogram continued on p. 6 TheVillager.com


son had, oh, just merely tagged along with former state Senator Tom Duane — who was a Democratic colleague of Diaz’s in the state Legislature — to visit Diaz in the hospital when he was recovering from back surgery, so Johnson just sort of, well… happened to be there. Umm…yeah, right! Duane and Johnson are both openly gay, but politics make for strange (hospital) bedfellows! As for Mark-Viverito, who would not run for mayor against her ally Bill de Blasio, we hear she might also want to be governor of Puerto Rico.

‘Trump thumped Clinton’: While many were trying to spin last Sunday’s debate as a victory for Hillary Clinton, we hear that a viewing party of Village Independent Democrats members called it clearly for Donald Trump, who was on the warpath. “That’s what our consensus was. There were about a dozen of us there,” our source told us. “We thought Trump did great — minus, of course, the lies and being a pig, period.” Hey, they call ’em like they see ’em at V.I.D. ... Clinton obviously romped in the first debate. The possibly pivotal round three is coming up Wed., Oct. 19. S.B.J.S.A. probe: So that’s what happened! A Web site called Progress Queens recently announced the initial findings of its Freedom of Information Law request to the City Council on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. One of the first documents the City Council released in response is a March 14, 2016, e-mail from The Villager to Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s Office, inquiring if the speaker planned to hold a hearing on the S.B.J.S.A. — as she had promised the newspaper back in June 2015 that she would do. “We want to do an issues-based hearing and would look at all legislation,” Viverito had said back then. As Progress Queens reports: “Lincoln Anderson, the Editor-in-Chief of The Villager, sent an e-mail…asking whether Council Speaker Mark-Viverito would be scheduling a hearing for the S.B.J.S.A. The FOIL response showed that that e-mail request was circulated internally without an apparent response to Mr. Anderson. The internal communication exchanged by public officials was entirely redacted from the FOIL response.” This sort of silence on the long-stalled bill is exactly what advocates have been decrying. Is it time to call in WikiLeaks — or maybe the alleged “Russian hackers” to get the full record of the Council’s “internal communication”? Council climbing: Speaking of the Council speaker, a source tells us that should Hillary Clinton become president, Mark-Viverito might be in line for a position with the administration. That, in turn, would accelerate the race to elect a new speaker. There are nine or 10 names out there now, but Corey Johnson of the Village and Chelsea is definitely one of them, along with Julissa Ferreras of Queens. Over the summer, the New York Post reported that Johnson had met with state Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., courting his vote, since Diaz wants to return to the City Council to finish his career there. Of course, the religiously conservative Diaz is reviled in gay circles for his homophobic positions. However, a source explained that JohnTheVillager.com

Challenging Chin: We’re hearing some rumblings that Margaret Chin may face one or more challengers next year when she runs for re-election to a third term. (Yes, remember…thanks to former Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn, councilmembers from that period got three terms when term limits were extended.) Anyway, Chin’s approval rating continues to nosedive in the northern end of her district, where she is bent on ramming a housing project down the community’s throat at the beloved Elizabeth St. Garden. Christopher Marte — a young, up-and-coming politico who recently ran a strong campaign for state committee on the Lower East Side — confirmed to

us that he is interested. “I am exploring the option to run for City Council next year,” he said. Marte is a big supporter of the Elizabeth St. Garden, and even recently started a garden at the Lower East Side I Infill housing, at Forsyth and Rivington Sts., on the site of Adam Purple’s former Garden of Eden. Marte grew up right next door and his dad ran a bodega on Rivington St. that Marte worked in as a kid, getting to know everyone in the neighborhood. Another name we’re hearing is Chinatown businessman / activist Don Lee, but he did not respond to our request for comment by press time. Whether District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar, who like Lee ran in the recent Assembly primary, would want to run again also isn’t ye clear. Rajkumar challenged Chin in 2013 and got about 40 percent of the vote. According to one source, though, after losing that race, Rajkumar said she wouldn’t run for City Council again in 2017. We did not hear back from Rajkumar. The source said the district leader is “playing it coy” right now as to whether she’ll launch a campaign for Council. No one has formed a campaign fundraising committee with the Board of Elections yet, so it’s hard to know for sure who will run — but the committees could be formed in a few weeks from now. As for Gigi Li, Chin’s protégé who came in sixth in the Assembly primary, we hear she is currently in China, taking a break and regrouping. Some speculate that if Li does aspire to seek office again, it would be for district leader in two years — perhaps trying to challenge Rajkumar again? Li’s last attempt at that went down in flames in a ballot petition signature-gathering mess that Rajkumar allies charged was riddled with fraud. Another former Assembly primary candidate is also chilling abroad for a bit. We hear Paul Newell is in Colombia visiting with his girlfriend’s family down there. Newell, who was always laserfocused on winning former Speaker Sheldon Silver’s seat, has never expressed interest in running for City Council. Meanwhile, Yuh-Line Niou, the Democratic nominee for Assembly in the Nov. 8 general election, joined the recent protest outside Fox News’s Midtown headquarters over Jesse Watters’s “O’Reilly Factor” bit in Chinatown that infuriated Asian-Americans. Niou and others said the snarky segment perpetrated negative stereotypes — and in Niou’s case, it brought back bad early memories. The anticipated new assemblymember, who grew up in places like Texas, recalled when classmates once locked her in a closet and took turns spitting on her because she was Asian, and on other occasions tried to suffocate her or set her on fire. Niou said she is so thankful today to be living in a tolerant, diverse city like New York. Meanwhile, blowhard Bill O’Reilly defended the dopey clip, saying his show is “not politically correct.” It’s not very accurate, either. Watters asked people about karate, when that’s a Japanese martial art!

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New breast best defense includes 3D mammography mammogram continued from p. 4

The dose is equal to “a few weeks of natural background radiation,” according to a fact sheet on breast cancer screening exams that Patel provided. Not only is the new screening method more likely to help detect cancer early, it also reduces the number of “false positives,” so that people don’t have to come back for needless follow-up tests and procedures. “Part of the problem with traditional mammograms is we were finding stuff that wasn’t real,” the doctor explained. “We were then doing ultrasound and biopsies.” According to Patel, regarding breast health, the imaging center is seeing mostly patients for annual screenings. A small percentage of these are called back for additional views or ultrasound. A still smaller percentage have biopsies performed. An even smaller number are diagnosed with cancer. This reflects national averages. For every 1,000 women screened, 100 will return for an additional mammogram or ultrasound. Sixty-one of these will require additional viewing and be found to have nothing wrong. Twenty others will find that what was seen is not likely cancer and return in six months to keep an eye on the finding. Nineteen will have a minimally invasive biopsy. Five out of the original 1,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Regarding biopsies, Patel performs them herself. Another room has what is known as a stereotactic surgical setup. It includes a table with a hole in it. The patient lies down on her stomach and her breast goes through the hole where it is held in a vise-like device and X-rayed. The image is then viewed on a screen, guiding Patel as she inserts a needle right into the suspect spot and extracts a bit of tissue. This is known as a percutaneous, or “through the skin,” biopsy and has been the “standard of care” over the past 10 years, Patel noted. Again, it’s an advance over older-style biopsies, which were more traumatic and left larger scars. Mammograms are covered under the Affordable Care Act. The L.H.G.V. service is actually a bit cheaper than other places, Patel said. Without insurance, the Village center charges $66 for tomosynthesis, compared to $80 to $100 elsewhere in the city. Again, the single most important thing a woman can do in terms of breast health is to get a mammogram, preferably tomosynthesis, once a year, Patel said. Personal breast exams should be done as often as once a month, she said. As far as nutrition and its impact on breast health, Patel said caffeine can have an effect. “Caffeine can be a culprit in breast cysts — which are bags of water,” she noted, though adding that these are not cancerous.

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October 13, 2016

Photos by Tequila Minsky

Dr. Kavita Patel with a critical piece of equipment for breast imaging — a tomosynthesis mammogram scanner.

Dr. Kavita Patel with a sterotactic biopsy operating table. The patient’s breast goes through a hole in the table and is then held in place by a clamp and X-rayed. Patel then does a needle biopsy on the spot, precisely guided by the X-ray image.

Obesity is also a risk factor, she noted, likely due to the increased estrogen it produces. Men can get breast cancer, too, but it’s extremely rare. Although the center has screened some men, she said, “It makes up a fraction of what we do.” If a man has breast cancer, though, women in his family are at higher risk, but the same doesn’t hold true vice versa, Patel said. Asked about whether genetic testing would ever be advisable, Patel said it could be considered if a first-degree relative — a mother, sister or first cousin — had breast cancer very young.

The L.H.G.V. imaging center, which is open 24/7 365 days a year, does about 15 to 20 mammograms per day. Each takes only a few minutes. Currently, because the still-new facility is not seeing patients at full capacity, people can conveniently get a same-day appointment. The results are also fast. “Part of the benefit here is that we will read the studies on-site,” she said. Asked what else women can do to ensure breast health, she offered some tried-and-true advice: “A balanced diet and exercise.” Patel’s goal is to make the W. 13th St. imaging center Downtown’s best.

Grace Tursi, marketing representative for the new L .H.G.V., is going from Harlem to the Batter y, letting women know of the facility’s state-of-the-ar t breast health ser vices.

Northwell, the center’s parent health company, is currently doing outreach to women from Harlem to the Battery. A native Staten Islander, Patel still lives there, but really enjoys her new workplace’s location — from its people to its cuisine — plus the brand-new L.H.G.V. medical facility, located in the former National Maritime Union building, the top floors of which are currently being gut-renovated for surgical suites and physicians’ offices. “I love working in this neighborhood,” she said. “I feel like I’m in the best neighborhood in Manhattan. I have a fantastic lunch every day. The people are so friendly. And it’s great to help fill the gap left behind in the closure of St. Vincent’s. And we’re happy to take care of the community here. “It is my desire and our goal to become an integrated part of the community,” Patel said. “I am passionate about breast imaging, and I want to build a top-notch facility here for Downtown and Lower Manhattan.” In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Patel has been leading a series of “Interactive Discussions on Breast Health.” The next one will be on Tues., Oct. 25, at 200 W. 13th St., fifth floor. Topics will include mammography screening guidelines, tomosynthesis (3D mammography), breast ultrasound and MRI, and dense breasts, with a Q & A. Refreshments will be served. RSVP to Grace Tursi, 645-665-6722 or gtursi@northwell. edu .

TheVillager.com


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October 13, 2016

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Gotham’s Healthcare System is a Bold Pioneer Predating U.S. Jump continued from p. 3

leagues, and tried a new procedure called a breast-sharing procedure, transferring a portion of her unaffected breast to create a new breast,” she says. “The woman was thrilled, and she is doing well.”

HEALTH PLAN THAT CARES Medical bills can add to the trauma, but MetroPlus Health Plan — NYC Health + Hospitals’ health services plan — tries to defray the tribulations of breast cancer with a wide range of affordable plans, with premiums as low as $0 to $20 per month and no-cost screenings. “For most of our MetroPlus members, the majority of breast cancer care will be covered by MetroPlus, though a few members may have copays, depending upon their type of insurance plan,” says Dr. Kathie T. Rones, the deputy chief medical officer and a breast cancer survivor. “Under the new Affordable Care Act, screenings such as mammograms are free of cost to members, so there is no reason for women, even of limited means, not to be screened.” MetroPlus’ long history of supporting breast health includes sponsoring and walking in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. “Many of our staff, including myself, have walked to raise awareness and funds for this important cause,” says Dr. Rones. “As a doctor, and a 20-year breast cancer survivor myself, I realize how critical screening and early detection are.” Bellevue Hospital Center (462 First Ave., off E. 27th St. in Kips Bay, 212-562-5680). Clinical breast exams and mammograms offered on Thurs., Oct. 20 and Thurs., Oct. 27, 9 a.m.–2 p.m. in the Atrium. A breast education forum will be held on Thurs., Oct. 27 at 12:30 p.m. in the hospital’s Farber Auditorium (for info, call 212-562-4516).

Health + Hospitals / Bellevue Health + Hospitals / Bellevue

Human touch: Dr. Kathie T. Rones, deputy chief medical officer at MetroPlus Health Plan, is a Strides walker and a 20-year breast cancer sur vivor.

Medical gladiator: Dr. Kathie-Ann Joseph, chief of Breast Surger y and director of Breast Care Ser vices, is the Har vard graduate who captains Bellevue’s breast team.

K_`jN\\bËjJg\Z`Xc<[`k`fe G@EBE\njgXg\i`jJgfejfi\[Yp

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October 13, 2016

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Driverless cars are coming; Will city drive them crazy? driverless continued from p. 1

facturer, stated the company is roughly two years away from introducing a car that can drive autonomously on interstate highways up to 25 miles per hour. Autonomous vehicle technology is also being tested throughout the country by other major players. The popular ride-sharing app Uber is now experimenting with a self-driving fleet of cars in Pittsburgh. Google’s self-driving car project is underway in California. And Tesla’s autopilot model has been tested on highways. For Brewer’s panel, held in the Municipal Building on Centre St., a prototype version of a next-generation Audi A7 fully capable of driving on freeways by itself sat parked outside. Brad Stertz, Audi’s director of government affairs, acknowledged that being able to drive hands-free in a traffic jam isn’t “that exciting.” But he said that the widespread progress on development of prototypes has grabbed the American public’s attention and is driving the conversation. On Sept. 19, the U.S. Department of Transportation released guidelines that broadly embraced the advent of self-driving cars. These included a 15-point set of safety standards and regulations that U.S. D.O.T. urged states to refine to meet their specific traffic conditions. “One of the points we want to make with this is, it’s essential to get consumers and drivers to understand what the technology is and not be afraid of it,” Stertz said. At Brewer’s panel, the A7 prototype dazzled those who got the chance to sit in its front seat while it was parked. The car was developed in 2012, according to Spencer Matthews, the industry and government relations analyst for Volkswagen Group, Audi’s parent company. The vehicle, he explained, is equipped with about 20 different sensors that can absorb external information and translate it into an action within milliseconds — much faster than a human could. While the A7 is ready to drive autonomously on freeways, the frequently congested streets of Manhattan present unique challenges — and raise legal questions, as well. With Audi’s technology parked right outside, Brewer said the questions surrounding autonomous vehicles don’t start with “if” anymore, but with “how” and “when.” The borough president said she is eager to learn more about it herself. Yet, she added, there’s a need to educate everyday New Yorkers about the possible impacts the technology would have on Manhattan’s infrastructure, its labor force and its traffic regulations. Industry experts are needed to inform that discussion, she said.

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October 13, 2016

Photo by Jackson Chen

Audi’s A7 dr i ver le s s protot y p e p ar ked out side the Municip al Buil d ing dur ing Borough Pre sident G ale Brewer ’s p anel dis cus sion on autonomously dr i v ing vehicle s . The c ar ’s “br ain ,” look ing like s ome clunk y ol d s tereo equipment from the 19 7 0 s , is in the tr unk . But w ith new technolog y, this har d w are is s oon s et to get much smaller.

At the city’s Department of Transportation, the internal conversation began roughly a year ago. The agency now wants to join the national discussion on how best to move forward. “The ultimate test for autonomous

Will driverless cars make us more lazy and unhealthy? vehicles will be whether or not they can effectively navigate cities like New York,” Will Carry, the city D.O.T.’s senior director for special projects, said. “So we really feel like we should be partners in [the national] discussion.” For several of the panelists, this borough serves as a unique stress test for the new vehicles because of the obstacles Manhattan’s clogged street grid provides: Namely, there are so many cars in transit, joined by a swarms of pedestrians, increasing

numbers of cyclists and, of course, the ubiquitous double-parked cars. Experts raised a variety of concerns — some of which were contradictory, a sign of just how much is still unknown at this stage. Sarah Kaufman, the assistant director for technology programming at the New York University Rudin Center for Transportation, explained that most autonomous vehicles are programmed not to come within 3 feet of pedestrians. “Once our pedestrians realize these cars are programmed to stop when they cross the streets, there will be a jaywalking paradise, and these cars will never get anywhere,” she warned. She predicted this would be a problem “pretty much anywhere in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.” She added that driverless cars could result in unanticipated consequences, like residents beginning to move farther out from the city’s center because of the ease of commuting on highways. Sam Schwartz, the city’s traffic commissioner in the 1980s and a widely respected transportation engineering consultant, said autonomous vehicles could also encourage more people to use cars and reverse the recent healthy trend of people walking

and cycling to their to destinations. “Inactivity kills four or five times more people than car crashes kill,” Schwartz said. “Even if autonomous vehicles knock down the number of people killed in car crashes — which I have no doubt they will — if we have less activity, we may kill more people through inactivity.” One of the biggest concerns about driverless cars is how they would impact professional drivers — of taxis, short-haul delivery vehicles and longhaul trucks. Jeff Garber, the director of technology and innovation for the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, emphasized there is still time for those industries to adjust, since he expects the rollout of autonomous vehicles to be a slow transition. “We’re going to have to be adaptable to how this technology looks,” Garber said. “We’re kind of putting the cart before the horse a little bit because we’re not quite sure how it’s going to come. But I do think we have a little time; it’s not going to be a catastrophic dropping of all the drivers.” Audi’s Stertz said there could even be new job opportunities to supplement the use of driverless cars. The Audi rep said there are possibilities for traffic-management positions to help autonomous vehicles deal with unique situations that arise. “Until the time when cars truly can outthink us, there’s going to need to be some human management of the fleets out there,” he said noted. Schwartz, however, predicted selfdriving cars could take over current driver-dependent industries in as soon as 20 years, which he said represents rapid change in the grand scheme of a city as complex as New York. “Twenty years to change a workforce is very fast,” he said. “You’re going to have people that are 30-yearolds that are now truck drivers and they’ll be 50-years-olds. What do you do with them when there’s no more truck drivers?” The best solution, the transportation guru said, would be to bring self-driving cars slowly into the current transportation infrastructure, with legislation preventing the abrupt domination by autonomous vehicles. Everyone on Brewer’s panel agreed that it’s time to start talking how to regulate the new technology. “The tech is old and the opportunity is here, so it’s time for policy and culture to catch up to the technology that’s enabling self-driving cars,” said James Felton Keith, a member of the public who took the A7 prototype for a stationary spin. “In these cities, as population becomes more and more dense, technologies that keep us out of each other’s way are going to be increasingly important.” TheVillager.com


Photo by Lincoln Anderson

The new N.Y.C. AIDS Memorial is under construction at the western end of the former St. Vincent’s Triangle.

AIDS Memorial is coming together in the Village The NYC AIDS Memorial Park at St. V incent’s Triangle may be a long name — but it won’t be long until the projec t is completed. The memorial’s signature trellis has been constr uc ted, and work on the site is continuing toward completion. The V ill ager has learned that the AIDS memorial will be dedicated, fittingly, on Dec. 1, Wor ld AIDS Day. It’s going to be a big event. “ They ’re going to close the street,” a source told the newspaper, possibly referring to Greenwich Ave.

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11


With tower taken out, Landmarks approves Jane building

The original proposed design for 85-89 Jane St. — the two browncolored buildings midblock, plus t wo towers, one sheathed in glass and the other in concrete. JANE continued from p. 1

“We’re really, really happy. It’s an enormous improvement,” said Andrew Berman. “The changes really reflected a lot of the feedback that we and countless neighbors had given — there’s really a world of difference between what was first proposed and what was approved.” The new proposal eliminated the most hotly opposed element of the original plan that was presented to the commission in July: namely, two 80-to-90-foot-tall towers made of glass and concrete that the owners wanted to house a studio. The designers also replaced a twostory glass wall on the second and third floors with a single-story glass wall on the second floor on one side of the soon-tobe mansion along Jane St., and set back the third floor to make room to restore an original cornice above the second floor. The more varied exterior went over much well. On the other hand, G.V.S.H.P. had called the original plans “monolithic.” Approving the towers would have not only disrupted neighborhood character, but would have set a dangerous precedent, too, Berman noted. “If 80-to-90-foot concrete towers are approved here, why aren’t they accept-

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October 13, 2016

able when the next guy comes along and says, ‘I want that on my property?’ ” he said. The presentation of the new proposal wasn’t completely devoid of criticism. One commissioner, who was ultimately the only official to vote against approving the changes, took issue with the removal of a simple parapet above the garage doors at 89 Jane St. The architects argued that they had to remove the parapet to make room for the glass wall enclosing a garden and that rebuilding it would be inauthentic. The commissioner called it a “weak” argument, alluding to a community in Japan that has rebuilt a shrine every couple of decades for the last 1,300 years. “It’s not a question of inauthenticity. For me, it’s a question of the saving of the streetscape here that was part of the designation of the district,” Commissioner Michael Devonshire said. The 1969 designation of the district indicated that the two existing buildings were not considered historically significant at the time. The report even called 85-87 Jane St. “completely utilitarian in character.” That means the applicants could have argued — and perhaps suc-

The revised design plan, showing the towers removed.

cessfully argued — for completely demolishing the structures, which others have done in the area for similar structures. But a new appreciation for what was

once regarded as plain and insignificant design has grown in the half a century since the city designated the Greenwich Village district, noted Berman, who agreed with Devonshire’s evaluation.

Another view of the design plan approved on Tuesday by L .P.C. TheVillager.com


Police Blotter W. 4th bias assault Police are looking for a burly, bald alleged bias attacker who violently shoved a man with his hair in a “man bun” in the Village, injuring him, last weekend. According to police and reports, the perpetrator was driving when a 32year-old man passed in front of his car at 170 W. Fourth St., between Jones and Cornelia St., on Sun., Oct. 2, around 5:33 p.m. The thug got out, yelled anti-gay remarks at him and pushed the victim from behind, causing him to fall and strike his head on a window frame of a commercial establishment. The attacker fled the location. The victim was removed by E.M.S. ambulance to Beth Israel Hospital, where he was treated and released for a laceration to the head and complaint of pain. The New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident. The suspect is described as Hispanic in his mid-20s, around 6 feet tall and 240 pounds, with a medium complexion, bald with a dark beard and tattoos on both forearms. He was last seen wearing a black short-sleeve T-shirt with a large image of a woman wearing sunglasses on the front, black pants and black sneakers. Anyone with information is asked

to call the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS, or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting them to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.

Subway slam A 20-year-old man was waiting for an Uber cab in Hudson Square early one morning last month when another man rode up on a bike and demanded money from him, police said. The incident occurred on Sept. 22 at 3:40 a.m. The victim refused the man and entered the subway at Varick and W. Houston Sts., with the mugger following behind him. The two engaged in a verbal dispute, and the suspect then threw the victim over the turnstile, breaking his arm. The attacker then fled. The victim went to Bellevue Hospital for his injury. The suspect is described as 20 to 30 years old. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers.

Stephen J. Knight, 25, was charged with felony animal cruelty under New York’s Agriculture and Markets Laws.

Train tumult A southbound A train departing W. Fourth St. was the scene of a tussle Thurs., Oct. 6, around 11 p.m., according to police. A man told cops that he got into a verbal altercation with another man over a seat. The second man then punched the victim in the face a few times, causing pain and swelling. While attempting to separate the victim from the assailant, one of the responding officers injured his left shoulder. Dylan Mosley, 23, was arrested for misdemeanor assault.

Falucka fight

Hurls own dog Police apprehended a man wanted for injuring a dog a month after the initial incident. On Sun., Sept. 4, at 3:50 in the morning, a man approached his divorced wife’s friend, who was in temporary custody of his dog, in front of 83 Christopher St. He proceeded to grab the pooch and throw it at his exCourtesy N.Y.P.D. T:8.75”wife’s vehicle, causing substantial inA sur veillance camera image of jury to the animal, according to police. the alleged W. Four th St. bias at- He then fled the location, but police tacker. arrested him a month later on Oct. 4.

Friends reportedly turned into enemies at the Falucka Lounge, at 162 Bleecker St., early Wednesday morning. On Oct. 5 at 2:54 a.m., two male acquaintances got into an argument. One man struck the victim, causing physical injury, police said. Emanuel Savarese, 44, was busted for misdemeanor assault.

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October 13, 2016

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Teachers, teams, tweens: Buzz builds for 75 Morton School continued from p. 1

Sixth graders starting at 75 Morton next fall will be the pioneer class, as one successive grade will be added each year. Getz sees them as young founders with shared responsibility and pride. “The opportunity to start a school from scratch was too hard to turn down,” Getz said. “75 Morton is challenging and exciting.” Getz leaned down eye-to-eye with a group of fifth-grade boys. “Won’t it be great to pick out the school’s mascot and colors?” she smiled. “The first thing you’ll do is come up with our school’s traditions, then we’ll get to work!” The educational philosophy at 75 Morton will be grounded in collaborative, project- and inquiry-based instruction, the approach Getz used at P.S. 126 / MAT. “Teachers will be trained at a Socratic seminar,” explained Getz at a presentation to parents a few days after the middle school fair, at P.S. 89, down in Battery Park City, the first stop on a roadshow to a dozen elementary schools. For parents who wanted to drill down on pedagogy, Getz’s powerpoint slides included a listing of resources that will be used in the 75 Morton curriculum: Teacher’s College for reading and writing, for science SEPUP (Science Education for Public Understanding Project), and for math CMP3 (Connected Mathematics Project). Social studies will be project-based and use the city’s neighborhoods as classrooms. In contrast to Baruch and Wagner, the other large zoned District 2 middle schools, 75 Morton will not offer a separate accelerated academic track called Special Progress, or SP. “SP is not part of the community’s vision for the school,” said Getz, referring to the consensus gathered from envisioning meetings organized by the 75 Morton Community Alliance. Getz doesn’t rule out offering honors classes. “Maybe math,” she said, “but there would have to be a needs assessment first, and there will not be an honors track.” The spacious seven-story building at 75 Morton St. has state-of-the-art facilities: science labs, art studios, music rooms, a dance studio, library, cafeteria, fitness room, occupational therapy room, outdoor yard space, and a regulation-sized gym with bleachers that converts to a 500-seat theater. The school received a $500,000 grant from the budgets of local politicians to build a green roof for hands-on learning in science and other subjects. A student health center on the basement level will offer primary care, dental, vision and mental health services, especially for preadolescents. One

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October 13, 2016

Photo by Sara Hendrickson

Jacqui Getz, the principal for the new 75 Mor ton school (M.S. 297), brings 30 years of experience in education.

aspect of the architectural design the community advocated for and won was enlargement of the windows to bring in plenty of natural light throughout the building. For students with learning needs requiring an individualized education program (I.E.P.), 75 Morton will have Integrated Co-Teaching (I.C.T.) classrooms, where two teachers, including one special education teacher, work as a team, so that the entire class has access to the “general ed” curriculum. This proven model ensures “special ed” kids are not isolated and all students can learn from one another. “We will meet the needs of all the kids,” Getz assured. Housed within the 75 Morton school will be a District 75 school on the second floor for 60 to 100 students with special learning needs across the autism spectrum. Getz hopes to collaborate with the D75 principal, who has not yet been hired, on social and community-building activities between the two schools. Beyond Getz’s credentials to create a transformational middle school, her genuine affinity for the “tween” early adolescent age group is palpable. “It’s middle school — the socio-emotional piece is very hard,” Getz said. “Guidance is one of my most important priorities.” Foreign language won’t start until the seventh grade (“probably Spanish,” she noted) to give sixth graders more time for advisories and electives

to empower them to create their own student-centered community. One fifth-grade boy at the fair asked if there would be a tennis team. “Yes, if you can get enough players for the team, then absolutely!” Getz encouraged. She championed the sports program at P.S. 126 / MAT where there were 50 teams and more than 20 different sports. Students were never cut from teams since there was a range of levels for broad participation. Students at 75 Morton will have easy access to the Pier 40 athletic fields just three blocks away. Performing and visual arts will also be a focal point of 75 Morton, and instrumental music programs will be offered. Getz, known for partnering with city groups to enrich curriculum, is excited about the array of cultural organizations close to 75 Morton, like the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Children’s Museum of the Arts. After-school programs will be available, some free, though some on a feebasis since the city’s five-year grant for free after-school programs for middle schools is expiring this year. Getz is exploring programs with Manhattan Youth, the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center and the Steady Buckets basketball program. “Of course, there will always be after-school homework help,” Getz told parents, “and you’ll often see me there.” There are two admissions methods for 75 Morton: a zoned program for

students living in the school’s zone, and a screened program for students outside the zone. Zoned students do not have to submit academic or other information and are automatically admitted. Given the school’s capacity, set by the city’s Department of Education at 900 students, or 300 per grade, the zone for 75 Morton is large. It encompasses diverse neighborhoods, from Hell’s Kitchen in the north and running down the West Side through Chelsea, the West Village, Soho, Tribeca, Battery Park and the Financial District. For unzoned students applying through the screened program, students will be evaluated based on their fourth-grade report card, state test scores and information on attendance and behavior. Getz emphasized that the screen will be “very light this year” and that students will not be evaluated based on how they rank 75 Morton on their application. Some selective middle schools in District 2, such as Salk and Lab, will not consider students who don’t rank the school as their No. 1 choice. This hotly disputed ranking system is currently under scrutiny by Community Education Council District 2 since it creates a stressful “game the system” atmosphere. For both zoned and unzoned students applying to 75 Morton, Getz reminded parents of D.O.E.’s matching system. “You will only be matched to 75 Morton if you are not matched to the schools you rank before it,” she explained. “So, if you want 75 Morton, put us down as No. 1!” Up to 12 middle schools can be ranked by students on their applications, which are due Dec. 1. At the close of her presentation at P.S. 89, Getz gathered index cards from parents with their handwritten questions for follow-up. “I am the only person answering the 75 Morton Gmail right now,” she laughed. “And by the way, I’ll be back again to meet the kids.” Decisions on the school’s programming will continue as a collaborative effort among Getz and D.O.E.’s 75 Morton working group that has broad representation of educators and community members. “This group of families is very inspiring and great to work with,” Getz said. “I am keeping as close as possible to their vision of creating a diverse and inclusive school.” There are a range of upcoming 75 Morton school events and resources. Oct. 17 is “Meet the Principal Night,” at 6:30 p.m., at The New School’s Johnson Hall Auditorium, at 66 W. 12th St., between Fifth and Sixth Aves. There will be ongoing presentations by Principal Getz for parents at local elementary schools: Oct. 17 — P.S. 150; Oct. 18 — P.S. 234; Oct. 19 — P.S. 111; Oct. 26 — P.S. 41; Oct. 27 — P.S. 3; and Oct. 28 — P.S. 11. Contact schools for times. TheVillager.com


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Pumpkins, cookies and critters at Harvest Fest Sunday’s rain delayed the Jefferson Market Garden Children’s Har vest Festival for one day, but Monday saw the fest and the kids burst for th in all their fun. Citarella — a co-sponsor of the event, along with the garden group and the New York Public Librar y — provided small pumpkins, plus “design your own” cookies. On top of the pumpkins and crafts, there was enter tainment — and don’t forget Dave the Worm Guy!

Photos by Tequila Minsky

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October 13, 2016

17


He’s not lost in the museum, but living in it!

spaces By Bob Kr asner

T

he Museum of Interesting Things — an endlessly intriguing collection of outdated gadgets and objects — has existed for a while in Denny Daniel’s head. Currently, it exists in his one-bedroom apartment in the Village. He moved into his “con-op” — “It’s a co-op with condo rules,” he explained — about 13 years ago. Over time, he has filled the place — and that means “filled” — with objects from a world gone by. “I started collecting things that made me happy,” he said. Some of those things include an Edison mimeograph, 500year-old Bible scrolls, 3D VHS movies, wacky toys, eight-track players, a math textbook from 1799, stereo cameras, a Zoetrope pre-film animation device from the 1800s, a hearing aid made with a conch shell, and a key piece of the Enigma encryption machine. He owns close to 5,000 objects now. Many of them are in storage, but enough reside in his home to cover just about every available surface. There’s not a piece of furniture that doesn’t have something pretty cool on it. And if he rolls over in bed, there’s a chance he’ll knock over the barrel organ — also known as a hurdy-gurdy. There’s no monkey to go with it, but there is his lovely rescue cat Tristan, who unbelievably never touches any of the objects. Daniel certainly wasn’t collecting just because he needed to keep busy. For a five-year stretch, he was going to school (N.Y.U., S.V.A., F.I.T. or The New School), working two jobs (the Statue of Liberty and Kinko’s), playing in a band (Sofia Run), working on MTV music videos and independent films, and surviving on less than two hours of sleep per night. Additional nap time was usually found on the subway. On one notable subway ride home — when he happened to be traveling with a couple of garbage bags filled with whatever — he awoke with a sandwich on his chest, having been mistakenly pegged for homeless. Once Daniel had amassed enough gizmos and gadgets, he took his show on the road. Starting with his grade-school alma mater, the Solomon Schechter School, in Queens, he brought the tradition of “show and tell” to a new level, and his interactive presentation was a hit. “I always let kids touch the objects, but I couldn’t believe how many kids jumped up to touch a slide calculator,” he marveled. The press — those who had reluctantly shown up — ended up putting the photos on the front page. giving the M.O.I.T. its first major media coverage. Kids are especially important to Daniel. “I want the museum to empower kids

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October 13, 2016

Photos by Bob Krasner

Denny Daniel and his cat, Tristan, in his living room / dining room.

Some more of Daniel’s collection, with a photo of his mother peeking through.

and cause a positive attitude,” he said. “Letting them handle the pieces is part of that.” Schools are not his only outlet for sharing what he calls his “traveling interactive demonstration / exhibition of antiques and inventions.” He hosts a monthly themed event, usually on Sunday evening, which he calls “The Secret Speakeasy.” It’s at a venue owned by his family — a.k.a. “The Loft At Prince St.” He also shows up at various street fairs, libraries, museums, Comic Con and the Maker Faire. He’s been booked as far away as Reno, Nevada (the Discovery Museum), and Oklahoma (a steampunk festival). But, more recently, he has been giving pri-

vate showings in his apartment. By appointment only, (very) small groups can come to his home and have a look at the Moviola that was used to edit “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure,” view films in an arcade Mutoscope or listen to an Edison cylinder (the precursor to vinyl records). If you’re lucky, Daniel will get his temperamental Mighty Tiny Record Player to work. It plays 2-inch records and fits in the palm of your hand. Think of it as the world’s first iPod. But it doesn’t always like to perform. “Anderson Cooper was late for his gig at CNN because he was fascinated by it,” he recalled. “He wouldn’t leave until it played.” The only problem with visiting the

endlessly enthusiastic Denny Daniel is that one doesn’t want to leave — and he doesn’t want you to go until you’ve participated in his traditional ritual. Guests are invited to choose from a pile of unopened, unlabeled boxes, which contain his latest acquisitions. Then, he films you opening your choice. Oddly enough, Daniel explains, “About 80 percent of the people open up something related to their profession.” This writer did not disappoint, as he found himself holding a beautiful, rare wooden photo-slide viewer made by the Dufaycolor company. There are some things that he has missed out on acquiring — the Geiger counter that was made by A.C. Gilbert (a leading “learning toy” manufacturer) and those outtakes from the original “King Kong” film, to name two. Then there’s the budget issue that sometimes hampers the possibility of new purchases. But near the top of his wish list is finding a media outlet — TV or publication — that would give him a regular feature to spotlight his collection. At the apex of that list, however, is the thing that he wants most — a physical space (other than his jam-packed apartment) to house the museum, which is really all about the history of ideas. But how is he going to feel when that happens? When the kitchen table has finally been cleared, the floor is no longer an obstacle course and there’s room on the bed for more than him and his cat? “It will be a little sad,” he mused. “I’ll miss some things. But the apartment will finally have space — which will be nice.” For more information, visit www. museumthings.org . TheVillager.com


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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.

Daydreaming

Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-

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Reading

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.

October 13, 2016

19


Wham! Bam! Shazam! Comic Con invades N.Y.C.

Photos by Milo Hess

Comic Con hit the Javits Center for four days last week, and, well, things got ex tremely graphic â&#x20AC;&#x201D; as in, a tsunami of superheroes and costumed car toon characters. The manga-mad event has been held at the West Side convention center since 2006. Notable guests at this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s confab repor tedly included Stan Lee, Adam West, Carrie Fisher, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Luc y Liu and Luc y Lawless.

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October 13, 2016

TheVillager.com


TheVillager.com

October 13, 2016

21


Ann Harris, 90, Village theater artist, matriarch

obituary

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nn Marie McCanless Harris, a prolific songwriter, actress, dancer and playwright who was an Off Off Broadway pioneer, as well as a mother of six, died in Kingston, N.Y., on Sept. 10. The cause of death was complications from a stroke. She was 90. She was born in New York City to Anna Marie Driscoll and Frederick J. McCanless on Jan. 31, 1926. Ann graduated from high school in Bronxville, N.Y., and attended Sarah Lawrence College. On June 18, 1948, she married World War II veteran George Edgerly Harris II, soon to be a working actor, musician and bandleader. They settled first in Bronxville and then in Clearwater, Fla., where they and their children founded the theater group the El Dorado Players. In the 1960s, the family moved to New York City where they became an integral part of the experimental Off Off Broadway theater scene. Ann’s joie de vivre was an obvious fact of her personality. From childhood, it sustained her through the loss of her parents in her teens, the Great Depression and WW II. Her persistent positivity continues through her children and is reflected in the music and lyrics of her songs; songs that celebrate romance, whimsy, fashion, grit, enchantment and irony, and convey her lighthearted sense of humor. Whenever trouble came calling, Ann Harris came out singing. Her first songs, written in college, eventually kicked off a long string of Harris family musicals, including “Sky High,” “Razamatazz,” “Enchanted Miracle,” “Hibiscus,” “Gossamer Wings,” “Dear Friends of Allegro Sanitation” and “Cheek To Cheek,” just to name a few. As a dancer, she helped choreograph most of them. Ann’s songs were on display in performances by The Cockettes and The Angels of Light theater troupes, founded by her son, George a.k.a. Hibiscus. They were also featured in shows written with and produced by her son Walter Michael. She also cowrote songs with her son Frederic for “Hibiscus and the Screaming Violets,” a performance-art show conceived and starring her son George and her daughters, Jayne Anne, Eloise and Mary Lou, in which Frederic also served as arranger and bandleader. As a musical theater performer, Ann toured Europe with the Angels of Light. As an actress, she appeared at La MaMa ETC, Judson Poets Theater, the New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theater, Caffe Cino, Theater for the New City and in summer

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October 13, 2016

Ann Harris, right, in a still from the cult film “The Honeymoon Killers.”

stock. Ann originated the role of Martha Truitt in Lanford Wilson’s “The Rimers of Eldritch,” which was performed at La MaMa and directed by the author. She was a favorite actress of the late, great Off Off Broadway playwright H.M. Koutoukas, who directed her in several of his plays. Ann has a growing fan base for her portrayal of Doris Acker in the cult film classic “The Honeymoon Killers.” Ann, her husband, George, and their six children are considered Off Off Broadway pioneers. Her songwriting achievements have been recognized by ASCAP, celebrated in the media and cheered enthusiastically by audiences around the world. In recent years, she served as a consultant to authors, filmmakers and scholars interested in the 1960s and the Off Off Broadway movement. Her family’s story is documented in their memoir, “Caravan to Oz: a family reinvents itself off-off-Broadway” (www. caravantooz.com). Ann’s motto was: “Dance while you can and don’t miss the magic.” She brought the magic wherever she went, and inspired others to do the same. She was a resilient dreamer and a doer, with pride in her family, an intense zest for living, and a gift for making each person feel capable, qualified, intelligent, beautiful and loved. During her final years, grandchildren Quinn Taylor Kelley, Montana Eloise Parveen Damone and Miles Vincent Pietsch robustly gave “Nana” great joy as charter members of her “club,” and as her confidants and best buddies. Ann was preceded in death by her husband George and her son George Edgerly Harris III. She is survived by her children Walter Michael Harris

Ann Harris with her daughters.

(Patricia Mansfield), Frederic Joseph Harris (Josephine Monaco), Jayne Anne Harris (Thomas Kelley), Eloise Alice Harris (Joseph Damone) and Mary Lucille Harris (James Pietsch), 12 grandchildren and 10 great-grand-

children, all of whom have learned her songs and acquired her sunny outlook. A memorial service was held Sept. 30 at Hynes Funeral Home, in Margaretville, N.Y. TheVillager.com


Send in the clowns? RHYMES WITH CRAZY By Lenore Skenazy

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et’s face it: Clowns are creepy. In a way, this current craziness has finally brought that fact out into the open, the way the word “frenemy” finally gave us a way to talk about something we all recognized but hadn’t acknowledged. (As did “bad hair day” before that.) Clowns exist in something called the “uncanny valley,” where dolls and puppets and ventriloquists’ dummies live (or, actually, don’t live), too: a place between too real to be make-believe, but too make-believe to be real. If you really want to jump out of your skin, pick up your baggage at LaGuardia some time, where a cardboard cutout of a stewardess has a hologram for a head — and it speaks. Welcome to New York! But what to make of the clown hysteria sweeping the country, leading to strange sightings, warning letters sent home from school, and actual incidents? Last week, a clown with a kitchen knife chased a teen off the 6 train at 96th St. And in Elmhurst, a 16-yearold glanced out his window and saw a clown lurking. Yikes. And that’s not to mention this weird case — a man in Kentucky shot his gun into the air when he mistook a woman walking her dog for a creepy clown. I’m sure the woman appreciated that all around. It all brings to mind the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s-90s, when Americans were convinced Satanists were raping and torturing children in daycare centers. Across the country, daycare workers were investigated for crimes, including sacrificing animals in front of the kids, and flushing kids down the toilet to secret chambers where they’d be abused. Under the sway of what we now understand to be manipulative “therapists,” the tots told stories of being flown in hot air balloons, or taken on boat trips where babies were tossed overboard. No evidence was ever found for this — no drowned babies, no giraffes sliced and diced at the zoo (which you’d think would be hard to miss). And yet, cops, juries and judges ate this stuff up like bunny entrails. It all sounds so obviously nutty now that when I mention these things to people, they laugh. Hardy har har. Except…look what happened to Fran and Dan Keller in Texas. At their 1992 trial, the jury heard that the Kellers had killed a dog and made the kids cut it up and eat it. They TheVillager.com

also heard that the couple had taken the kids to a cemetery, whereupon they shot a passerby, dismembered the body and buried it in a grave they dug. Testimony also had it that the Kellers had decapitated a baby and thrown its remains in a swimming pool that they made the kids jump into. And in case that all sounded just too plausible, they were also accused of stealing a baby gorilla and chopping off one of its fingers. There were many more allegations added to this list. And the Kellers served 21 years in prison. In Debbie Nathan’s book about that period, “Satan’s Silence,” she nailed a mind-blowing truth: We think we are so sophisticated and scientific today, and may even scoff at the idea of “Satan,” but we have no trouble believing in Satan-ists. We simply swapped one basic human fear for another that sounds far more plausible to our modern selves. Which could explain why we believe that clowns are out to kill our kids. On the one hand, there’s the rare but terrible truth that some crazy people do shoot kids at school. Combine that with the constant fear that our kids are going to be next, and that it will be by a madman who is nonetheless organized enough to buy a rainbow wig, and you have a mash-up of all our modern parental fears: stranger danger, randomness, the evil intentions of anyone (especially a male) who likes to work with kids. The security expert Bruce Schneier coined a term for this: “movie-plot threat.” We imagine the threat to our kids is just like one we’ve seen in the movies. It is easier to picture Bozo with a bazooka than a car crash when dad is fiddling with the GPS, so that’s the threat we focus on. We may even start seeing things. Looking back, someday we’ll be amazed that schools were sending warning letters home about clown crime. But in the meantime, we’ll keep worrying. Because that’s what humans seem to do best. Skenazy is a keynote speaker, author of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids,” and a contributor at Reason. com

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October 13, 2016

23


Letters to the Editor

THE

â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Reversalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; a victory for parks

VILLAGER Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t miss a single issue! East Village, Lower for Greenwich Village, Since 1933 The Paper of Record Square, Chinatown and Noho, Soho, Union

$1.00 June 23, 2016 â&#x20AC;˘ 25 Volume 86 â&#x20AC;˘ Number

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sue 2nd Ave. tenants lord city, Con Ed, land for â&#x20AC;&#x2122;15 gas explosion former

tenants,

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and â&#x20AC;&#x153;Soing lead plaintiff Drea de pranosâ&#x20AC;? actress dozen civil suit in round three Matteo, fi led a Court led a tenants have fi Manhattan Supreme that blames nearly $19 million last Tuesday for the city and the city and Con Edison lawsuit against the of the fi - not cracking down on others in the wake 121 that killed illegal gas hook-up at ery gas explosion three Second Ave. that led to the leveled and men two fi re on East Village blast and subsequent buildings in the 30 continued on p. last March. LAWSUIT and A roster of current

BY YANNIC R ACK

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s Punk photog make tarter â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Historyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; on Kicks with new CBGB book

the Stonewall tolerance outside about peace and students sang Pages 17 to 23. P.S. 3 fifth-grade special section, See Gay Pride Inn on Monday.

(He has a of CBGB by Godlis. not to BY BOB KR ASNER first name, but prefers use it.) art book is The limited edition ew York, East Village, thanks street 1976. A local about to hit the shelves, leaves to a very successful Kickstarter photographer apartment, campaign and Godlisâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s determihis St. Markâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s with full of punks nation to produce a book bar a into walks three says, is â&#x20AC;&#x153;His- integrity. Godlis spent and the rest, as he â&#x20AC;&#x201D; on the Night,â&#x20AC;? the years â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 1976 to â&#x20AC;&#x2122;79 tory Is Made At monograph on p. 4 eagerly anticipated GODLIS continued and outside of images shot in

â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s spirit Uâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ground Railroad ntown grafďŹ ti artist has keeps chuggingE.V.Dow

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February 18, 2016 â&#x20AC;˘ $1.00 Volume 86 â&#x20AC;˘ Number 7

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

Railof the Underground editor of the Lives Howard Gay, the New York City: Sidney Standard road in National Anti-Slavery Gay, Louis Napoleon and of Louis Howard weekly newspaper, Record of Fugitives.â&#x20AC;? man of color and the Napoleon, a free the reunion was Anhundreds of Attending ndwho conducted through gela Terrell, great-great-gra on Napoleon fugitives from slavery BYfreedom LINCOLN in ANDERSON daughter of Louis  VWDEEHG DQRWKHU JUDIĂ&#x20AC;WL New York City to side. motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s her writer, Christopher and Jusko, 21, Canada and elsewhere. at in 1800 Q(DVW9LOODJHJUDIĂ&#x20AC;the Napoleon, born with an 8-inch The June 14 reunion ti artist name with an X, kitchen knife Burger, arrested who signed forhis in the stairway of a squatter home of Otis Kidwell killing instrumental of anevertheless rival tag- was building at 272 E. Seventh great-great-granddaughter JHUPRUHWKDQĂ&#x20AC;YH\ by Don HDUVDJR St. outside p. 6 on Pastoressaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s continued secGay, was organized RAILROADRQGĂ RRU still of hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t had a trial â&#x20AC;&#x153;Secret DSDUWPHQW and 6ODVKHG Papson, co-author remains locked up on Rikers in the neck and stabbed in the Island to this day. back, Jusko staggered down According to police, around the stairs and out of the build5:30 a.m. on Mon., Oct. 25, ARTIST continued on 2010, Jairo Pastoressa, then

been in jail for 5½ years for murder, without trial

BY ALBERT AMATEAU

T

week wo events last to the hearkened back York days when New the Underwas a station on and a center ground Railroad movement of the abolitionist Civil War. that led up to the was a One of those events Village Greenwich in reunion of Sydney of the descendants

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rollback ..... p. 14 must back a rent Editorial: R.G.B. sary .......p. 36 l rocks 40th anniver La Plaza Cultura

Handy Trump in

Soho slam .....p.

r.com www.TheVillage

Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a closed book: St. Markâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Bookshop is going out of business

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BY COLIN MIXSON

current talks with investors will result in a eloved literary haven store emerging new bookfrom the ashSt. Markâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Bookstore es of St. Markâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, albeit, with KDV HQWHUHG WKH Ă&#x20AC;QDO a new name, new operators stage of its terminal mon- and none of the debt. ey woes, and the proverbial â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re basically going out book will soon close on Man- of business at this point,â&#x20AC;? hattanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s oldest independent said Contant. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There may be bookshop. a continuation of a bookstore But owner Bob Contant is still clinging to hope that ST. MARKâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S continued on

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Burlesque with a new twist...........page

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January 14, 2016 â&#x20AC;˘ $1.00 Volume 86 â&#x20AC;˘ Number 2

Squadron slam s Senate for refusing to consider the Elevator Safety Act

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Athanasios Ioannidis, center, and Andrew Trombettas, while being walked into right, try to hide their faces their arraignment last Thursday. Trombettas â&#x20AC;&#x153;rentingâ&#x20AC;? his plumberâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s is accused of license to twice rigging illegal gas-siphoningIoannidis, an unlicensed plumber who is accused of systems at 121 Second Ave.

â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Gas House Gangâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; indicted in deadly 2nd Ave. explosion

BY YANNIC RACK er Athanasios â&#x20AC;&#x153;Jerryâ&#x20AC;? Ioanlmost a year after a nidis, 59, were also charged gas explosion rocked with criminally negligent the East Village, kill- homicide and assault in the ing two men and leveling second degree, according to three buildings, four people the Manhattan District Atwere indicted last Thursday WRUQH\¡V2IĂ&#x20AC;FH In addition, Andrew for manslaughter and other Trombettas, 57, was charged charges in connection with with â&#x20AC;&#x153;rentingâ&#x20AC;? his master the blast. plumbing license to IoanMaria Hrynenko, 56, who nidis so the latter could get owns the building at 121 work on the property apSecond Ave. where the blast proved, prosecutors said. occurred, her son Michael Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance Hrynenko, 30, contractor said last week that the defenDilber Kukic, 40, and plumbdants set up an elaborate ille-

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gal gas line and hid the setup from inspectors, causing the explosion and subsequent Ă&#x20AC;UH RQ 0DUFK   WKDW claimed the lives of Moises LocĂłn and Nicholas Figueroa and injured and displaced dozens of others. ´7KH VHYHQDODUP Ă&#x20AC;UH that killed two people and engulfed three buildings in March 2015 was caused by a foreseeable, preventable and completely avoidable gas explosion,â&#x20AC;? Vance said. $OO Ă&#x20AC;YH GHIHQGDQWV SOHDGGAS HOUSE continued on p.

Margaret S. Chin Chin is councilmember, First District

Diane Whelton

30 Pike isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t enough To The Editor: Re â&#x20AC;&#x153;Pike St. project will â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;replaceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Rivington House: De Blasioâ&#x20AC;? (news article, Oct. 6): We welcome 30 Pike St. We need all kinds of truly affordable housing in a city with this level of homelessness. Senior housing is for those who can live independently â&#x20AC;&#x201D; nursing homes are for those who cannot. People who cannot advocate for themselves â&#x20AC;&#x201D; like those living with advanced Alzheimerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x201D; require fierce championing. The promised facility at 30 Pike St. would do nothing for those affected by that growing epidemic or others who need 24/7 care. And it would do nothing for the 115 patients who were evicted or the caregivers who lost jobs. Rivington House was retrofitted to be a nursing home â&#x20AC;&#x201D; at taxpayersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; expense. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ready to serve. Let it. K Webster Webster is a founder, Neighbors to Save Rivington House

Rabbiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s run is so wrong To The Editor: Re â&#x20AC;&#x153;Rabbi runs vs. Hoylman; Does he have a prayer?â&#x20AC;? (news article, Oct. 6): This guy, the rabbi, is crackers. He is unhappy with Albanyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s culture, so he is running against the relatively new reformer who has emerged as the leading voice against that culture. What? What a vainglorious waste. Cormac Flynn

6

Surgeon general wants you â&#x20AC;&#x201D; to walk!.........page 4 Hawkers market sticks in their craw........page 8

The Paper

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

www.TheVillager.com

Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re being assimilated!

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To The Editor: I am writing in response to The Villagerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s article â&#x20AC;&#x153;In Elizabeth St. Garden end around, mayor offers West Side parkâ&#x20AC;? (Oct. 6), which mentions the longsought transfer of three Department of Environmental Protection water-shaft sites in Community Board 2 for use as parks. This reversal by the city is the result of years of advocacy by community members and elected officials, and is a victory for every resident of C.B. 2 who needs and deserves more open space. I am particularly pleased with the transfer of the empty lot at Grand and Lafayette Sts. in my Council district. Together with at least 5,000 square feet set to be created nearby at Elizabeth St., this new park will give residents of Soho, Little Italy, Nolita and Chinatown more permanent and protected open space that they can be sure will be there for generations to come. In regard to critics of this transfer, and of affordable housing for our seniors on Elizabeth St., there is an important point of agreement: The idea that parks or affordable housing must take priority over the other is a false choice that does a great disservice to the people â&#x20AC;&#x201D; all the people â&#x20AC;&#x201D; that I am proud to represent. We can, and must have, both. I agree that this announcement is a â&#x20AC;&#x153;step in the right direction.â&#x20AC;? And I, too, am not satisfied. That is why I have advocated, and will continue to advocate, for the most possible open space for people living in the crowded neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan â&#x20AC;&#x201D; including in Little Italy on Elizabeth St. Affordable housing and open space must complement each other. And in a crisis, such as the one confronting the thousands of seniors languishing on wait lists for affordable, age-appropriate and accessible housing, they must occupy the same space. How best to do that is a discussion I look forward to having with all members of our community, who, far from being divided, are united in their insistence on neighborhoods that all can live in and enjoy.

fers West Side parkâ&#x20AC;? (news article, Oct. 6): Be advised that Greenwich Village, the East Village, Little Italy and Union Square are regularly referred to as â&#x20AC;&#x153;Midtown South.â&#x20AC;?

Fans bid Bo wie good luck am farewell, id the stars

To The Editor: Re â&#x20AC;&#x153;In Elizabeth St. Garden end around, mayor of-

Letters continued on p. 39

A

Grey Art Gallery

goes global........pa

ge 21

BOWIE continued on p. 6 Ex-chef dies in skateboard accident...........p Are kidsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; playd age 8 ates really for parents?......page 14 www.TheVill

evan forsch

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October 13, 2016

TheVillager.com


Long before Hillary, there was Victoria Woodhull

Talking point

true?” Yes, it’s true. I feel Victoria’s spirit at rehearsal, when I pass The Cooper Union where Victoria gave a big speech, in Crystal Field and in the theater itself. Theater for the New City has presented numerous plays I’ve written. I sometimes listen as audiences exit. The greatest triumph for me with this play wouldn’t be hearing talk about the play, but about Victoria Woodhull. I hope after reading this, some of you will Google “Victoria Woodhull.” You may even find references to this play.

By Claude Solnik

T

he first time I heard about Victoria Woodhull, I was amazed. I was changing channels, when I saw a documentary about the first woman to run for president. I had never heard of Victoria Woodhull, but the more I heard, the more fascinated I became. How could I not know about her? She was the first woman to own a Wall St. brokerage, testify before a congressional committee and run for president. She was the kind of person who saw opportunity where others saw obstacles. African-Americans won the right to vote in the 15th Amendment in 1870, 50 years before women won it in the 19th amendment in 1920. But Victoria Woodhull argued, if enacted properly, the 15th Amendment gave women the right to vote. She made that argument in her publication and came up with a kind of brilliant idea. She might not be able to vote, but why not run for president? I began writing her story. The result is a play opening at Theater for the New City on Nov. 17, just after the election. As a journalist, I couldn’t write about her 1872 campaign for president with Frederick Douglass as her running mate. As a playwright, I can travel across time and tell her story. I found a director for the first production who couldn’t believe he didn’t know about her. We rehearsed with a picture of Victoria Woodhull hovering above us and presented the show in a Long Island church. When I became involved with Theater for the New City, I saw a natural connection. TNC is run by Crystal Field, who I see as a kindred spirit when it comes to Victoria. I learned the theater once did a play about her. When Hillary Clinton ran for president the first time, I thought about Victoria Woodhull. Now that Hillary Clinton may win, I feel Victoria Woodhull is in the room again as we rehearse the TNC production. Yet few people know who Victoria Woodhull is. People who see the play or hear about the production often ask the same thing: “Why don’t I know about her? How is it even possible?” Let me try to explain. In order to understand who Victoria was and why few people know about her, it’s important to understand who she wasn’t. After the Civil War, many prominent suffragettes were intelTheVillager.com

She was an outsider among outsiders.

Poster by Anna Stacy

Victoria Woodhull — por trayed in the style of Shepard Fair y’s iconic 2008 Obama “Hope” poster, from the poster for the new T.N.C. play — tried to offer women hope when she ran for president back in 1872.

lectuals, remarkable women in their own right. Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” was from a family of well-known preachers. Victoria Woodhull was an outsider among outsiders. She was born in Homer, Ohio. Her father, Buck Claflin, a sort of snake oil salesman, used Victoria and her sister Tennie in his scam. They supposedly contacted the dead through séances, traveling from town to town, writing down the names on tombstones and holding séances. They cross-checked names at séances with lists from cemeteries, pretending to reach the deceased. Not wholesome. Not ethical. Not right. Still, I don’t think we judge each other by where we come from, but what we make of ourselves. Victoria convinced Cornelius Vanderbilt to front her money to fund a brokerage and publication — which she used to attack him and his practices. Somewhere along the way, she found her own independence, advocating for women’s rights, questioning laws governing marriage and divorce, testifying before a congressional committee and running for president.

She somehow ended up consigned to oblivion in a city so preoccupied with the present that we sometimes ignore its past. We forget that Alexander Hamilton once walked the streets of New York City. So did Victoria Woodhull. Boston seems to have a near monopoly on American history, yet much of it happened right here in New York. When people saw the first production of this play, Victoria Woodhull became real for them. That’s what Donna Mejia, the director leading this project, and a great cast are working on doing in New York City, where Victoria once lived. Just as “Hamilton” brought one historic figure to life, Victoria Woodhull will walk the world again in this show. Getting the play going has been an amazing experience and we haven’t even opened. Nearly 600 actors answered a casting call for a play about the first woman president. Members of the cast tell me things about Victoria I didn’t know. When they tell people about the show, they hear what I so often heard: “Why don’t I know about her?” When people find out more, they sometimes ask: “Is it

While Hillary runs for president, spend a moment remembering Victoria. I’ve noticed parallels, although the two women are vastly different. Donald Trump called for Hillary’s arrest. Victoria was arrested. Hilary’s personal and her husband’s sex life came under attack. So did Victoria’s. Hillary Clinton has been demonized. Cartoons portrayed Victoria Woodhull as the devil. I don’t see this show as political, so much as bringing to the stage a remarkable (if sometimes controversial) American and an amazing story. I even started a campaign, asking people to send birthday cards for Victoria Woodhull to Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave., New York, N.Y. 10003. Her birthday was a few weeks ago, but I’m asking people to send cards until the show closes on Dec. 4. If the spirit moves you, send or drop off a card or see the show. If you spend a moment thinking about Victoria Woodhull, I will feel victorious — and, whatever happens, the first woman who ran for president will have been a winner in this election. Solnik is a playwright and journalist who once worked at The Villager and Downtown Express. “Victoria Woodhull” is Solnik’s play about the first woman to run for president in 1872, even before women had the right to vote. Performances will be Nov. 17-19, Nov. 26 and Dec. 1-3 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 20, Nov. 27 and Dec. 4 at 2 p.m., at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. Tickets are $18 / $15 seniors and students. For more information, call 212-254-1109 or go to theaterforthenewcity.net . October 13, 2016

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Hearing on S.B.J.S.A. was a sham all the way

talking point

By Sharon Woolums

V

illage small business owners, frightened as leases expire and having no renewal rights, should have hope with “progressive” lawmakers pledged to take the city in another direction from Bloomberg’s pro-real estate policies. After all, the City Council’s Sept. 30 hearing — “Oversight - Zoning and incentives for promoting retail diversity and preserving neighborhood character” — was touted as helping small businesses. But Sung Soo Kim, a recognized authority on small business for three decades, warned, “Don’t be fooled! This hearing will determine the very survival of New York City small business owners along with a million jobs.” However, the only real solution to stabilize, protect and save small businesses — the Small Business Jobs Survival Act — as Kim predicted, was not allowed to be discussed. Orchestrated by the Real Estate Board of New York lobby, this charade was disguised as “democracy at

work.” The hearing was given credibility by city government’s small business agencies, REBNY-friendly political leaders and government-funded business groups. Simply put, the hearing had two goals. First, continue to stop debate, public hearings or a vote on the S.B.J.S.A., which would give commercial tenants the right to negotiate fair lease terms upon renewal. Second, preserve the status quo by keeping power and rights of

Sung Soo Kim was right: The hearing was rigged!

the lease-renewal process exclusively in landlords’ hands. Kim called for a boycott of the hearing. This “sham hearing,” as he called it, was the final act of the longest-running scheme to use the power of government to “rig the system” against small busi-

ness owners in favor of big real estate’s interests. Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James and the borough presidents have all abdicated to REBNY their responsibility to find real solutions to the real problems faced by exorbitant rent increases, illegal extortion and shortterm leases. Unlike the current chairperson of the Small Business Committee, Robert Cornegy, at the S.B.J.S.A. bill’s Council hearing seven years ago, then-chairperson David Yassky was committed to passing a real solution. “We absolutely have to do something period,” Yassky said back then. “It’s not an option to do nothing. We cannot allow businesses to be pushed to the point of disappearance.” Every member of his committee became a sponsor of the measure, then known as the Small Business Survival Act — yet Yassky’s committee never got to vote on the bill. With an election year about to start, Mayor de Blasio, Public Advocate James and several key councilmembers do not want the issue of a worsening crisis of record small business closings and loss of jobs to become a hot topic. They strongly supported the S.B.J.S.A. in the past, but flipped, remaining silent — while REBNY continues to rule City Hall.

This crisis worsened under their donothing policy, which jeopardized jobs and forced 1,000 small businesses to close, with more than 530 New York City court commercial evictions each month — even surpassing Bloomberg’s dire record. For this column, I sent a six-question query to the mayor, Council speaker and several councilmembers. Only one responded, saying she was too busy to respond. Or perhaps she — they — having failed the litmus test as “progressives,” would rather “we the people” not know their true record here. They may not want the public to realize that Trojan horse substitutes for the S.B.J.S.A. are an insult to desperate business owners facing a crisis of survival. The elephant in the Council Chamber hearing were the words not spoken — “save” and “stop.” There were mentions of “assisting,” “strengthening,” “helping” and “supporting” — but desperate store owners need more. Ambivalent about going to the hearing, after receiving a text message that many advocates had shown up, I was encouraged and excited. I thought it important and valuable that so many advocates would take a day off work to go on record — having to wait to be the last allowed to speak! But when an advocate so S.B.J.S.A. continued on p. 38

My DSL hell; The K.G.B. had nothing on Verizon

talking point By Bill Weinberg

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hat really fills me with despair is that amid it all — the rise of an open fascist at the forefront of the Republican Party, the relentless reign of deadly police terror, the impending collapse of the global biosphere — even the most quotidian aspects of our lives are being colonized by sinister corporate bureaucracies that eat up our time and energy...impeding out ability to fight back against all that other stuff. For the past decade that I have been on DSL with Verizon (FiOS is not available in my building), I have never had reliable service. My Internet connection goes down regularly, and my dial tone goes dead every year or two. And I refuse to get a cellular phone. I draw the line at having Big Brother track my every move. Verizon is required by law to provide me with a reliable landline. But it seems

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October 13, 2016

nothing will compel them to meet this responsibility. Back in early August my line went dead yet again. I biked around to every Verizon store in Lower Manhattan to get some attention to the problem. They all said it wasn’t their responsibility, and that I should call the company — heedless to the reality that I had no means of doing so. Finally, one store told me they could help at a Verizon location in Downtown Brooklyn. So (now three days into the ordeal), I biked over the bridge, found the place, and passed through the door with desperate hope. It turns out what was meant by “helping” was providing a courtesy telephone to call the company. So I waited through 45 minutes of choice menus and muzak before reaching someone who told me a repairman would be sent — in three days. As a writer, I depend on connectivity for my income. Yet Verizon expects me to pay my bill on time, and threatens to cut me off if I don’t. Funny how that works. Before it was over, I had lost nearly a week of work. But this nightmare was just beginning. I’d always resisted the urge to dump Verizon for fear of the chaos it would cause. Now I was at my wits’ end. I had long received (unsolicited) pitches in the

mail from Time Warner, promising a “hassle-free” switch to cable. I decided to finally take the plunge. Bad move. When the Time Warner technician arrived, I was informed the installation would take five hours and entail drilling through an exterior wall. In this old building, possibly structurally compromised, this struck me as ill advised. So I cancelled with Time Warner — and went back to Verizon to reactivate my account. But no. I would have to start a new account — with a new number. I was told that the old number would be restored in a few days — after it had been “ported” back from Time Warner. What happened in the “few days” is that the temporary number stopped working — but the old number was not restored! I could receive no incoming calls. Every day, I called Verizon. I spent hours on hold. I had every note of the repetitive muzak memorized — I even heard it in my dreams. I was shunted from one department to another — each time having to listen to the evil muzak and risk being disconnected (as happened several times). And each time I was told a different story. Everything was on track, the number would be reactivated “tomorrow.” (Nothing would happen.) Time Warner

hadn’t turned the number over, I had to take it up with them. (I went to the Time Warner store, and they insisted the number had been “ported” back to Verizon.) Reactivation of the old number had to be “verified” by a third party. (Once I was transferred to some functionary claiming to be from an outside verification company who said he was recording my request for the old number, but this also failed to win any result.) Adding to the wackiness, once I was told the number belonged to another address, blocks away — even though my name was on the account. I have no explanation for this, and I hope my bills aren’t going to be sent to the wrong address. After two weeks, I gave up on calling Verizon. I called the state Pubic Service Commission. They told me they would contact Verizon’s executive office and insisted I give a telephone number so they could call me back — oblivious to the fact that my very problem was that I had no working telephone number. I also called my state Assembly representative, Deborah Glick. To give credit, here — for the first time throughout this ordeal — I immediately reached a human being. And a friendly and personable human being (imagine!), who said verizon continued on p. 38 TheVillager.com


Hot mic, hard stop, vile threats The week in Trump

PHOTO VIA HILLARYCLINTON.COM

In the background, per diem zombie extra Donald Trump grabs a chair while locking down the creepy sociopath vote.

BY MAX BURBANK

A

s I write this column, Donald Trump is in Full Bunker Mode. I imagine him alone, squatting on some gold-plated fixture, sweat cutting furrows through cracking, orange foundation, his pudgy thumbs hammering tweet after delusional, paranoid tweet: He’ll teach the “Disloyal R’s” “how to win” now that “the shackles have been taken off” him. A week ago Trump had almost fully recovered from his miserable first debate performance. He was down to tweeting about Alicia Machado only, like, twice a day.

How did things get so bad so fast? The answer to that question is brought to you by the appropriately German word “schadenfreude” — as in, “Boy, that Donald Trump is just a human fire hose of schadenfreude!” Last Friday, The Washington Post broke the “hot mic” story, and I call it that because my kids read this column. Donald Trump, Republican nominee, caught on tape bragging about committing sexual assault, which last I checked was a crime. There are only two options: Either it’s true and Trump’s a sex criminal, or he lied to impress Billy Bush. Let that sink in. To impress. Billy. Bush. Look in the dictionary under

“neediest” and it says “the mental state in which one lies to impress Billy Bush.” Side note: I only just learned Billy Bush is the cousin of W. and Jeb! Bush. Every day Donald Trump seems a little less like a human being and a little more like some mythological creature created to lay low House Bush for it’s hubris. Usually the word “delicious” applied to anything other than food makes me cringe, but come on! Like a sulky teen not hip enough for Snapchat, Trump released an apology/hostage video on Facebook: “I regret it, the Clintons are worse, sorry not sorry.” TRUMP continued on p. 30

TheVillager.com TheVillager.com

October October 13, 6, 2016 2016

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Getting creative after a cancer diagnosis Women draw strength from the art of expression BY PUMA PERL

I

was 21 years old and four months pregnant with my first child the day I found a lump in my breast. I didn’t tell anyone but the baby’s father. My family didn’t even know I was pregnant. I went alone to the prenatal clinic and was immediately referred to the breast clinic. I was terrified. My favorite aunt had been diagnosed with breast cancer when she was in her second trimester. She delayed treatment and gave birth to a healthy boy, but the cancer had advanced; she died when he was about eight weeks old. The details are hazy because I was only nine. She had been the only one to make me feel special and I grieved alone for a year, as children often do. The specifics of my own experience are a little hazy, too. Several tests and exams confirmed that the lump was just a swollen gland, nothing to worry about. I was lucky. I was also lucky that none of my irregular mammograms, or the follow-up sonograms, revealed anything but dense tissue. As I write, I’m reminded that I am overdue by several months. The aunt who passed away was not a blood relative, but two of my mother’s sisters had breast cancer. When the doctor suggested I come twice yearly because of my family history, I sputtered inanely, But I have lots of aunts. It’s only two of them. But they were in their 80s when they were diagnosed. As many “buts” as I could muster. Recalling my reactions, I think about our culture and the ways our breasts define us at different stages of our lives. About how the girls who developed early were called ho’s in my Brooklyn neighborhood. About how the tall, willowy, flatchested girl was taunted and called “Nanook of the North.” About boys snapping my bra strap. About having “great tits,” and how it would feel to lose them. And I think about my friends: artists, poets, rock and roll girls. Could I be as brave as they are? The artist known as “Star Angel” is one of those warriors. “Call me Esther Pagan, my real name,” she responded, when I asked how to represent her. “I want the world to know who I am. No more hiding. My cocoon shell dried up.” Esther is a licensed massage therapist and, as an independent contractor, found herself uninsured for several years. “I found out about my cancer by accident,” she said. “I was sharing my concerns about my cardiac history with a friend, and she helped me obtain insurance. I went back to a doctor I’d seen for many years and had a full exam, including a mammogram. The office realized belatedly that they didn’t accept my insurance. He sent a bill for $3,000. On September 17, 2012, he called, told me I had breast cancer, and wished me good luck. I felt devastated, hurt, and angry, but I am a strong person and I started writing poetry and

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October October 6, 13,2016 2016

PHOTO BY ESTHER PAGAN

Esther Pagan, self-portrait.

channeling my feelings into becoming an advocate through my voice and my art. From the minute I found out, I wrote, painted, sculpted, made art with anything I could get my hands on. With my art, I heal myself and educate others. I would love to travel with my one-woman show. Four of the pieces show the various stages of my reconstruction; I photographed each stage and wrote a poem about each experience.” Esther sought treatment at the Mount Sinai Dubin Breast Center and underwent a double mastectomy a month later. “October 17,” she recalled, “right in the middle of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. My experience has become my avocation and inspiration. My adversity was not only with breast cancer, but also with medical insurance, the way that I was informed, and my rejections when I applied for aid from non-profit foundations. Our community needs these issues addressed with compassion and effort, and especially for the survival of women of color, who have the greatest difficulties accessing care.” Another artist whose healing process included the arts is Ronnie Norpel. She is also an actress, writer, and teacher. Recently, we talked about the night in 2009, when she informed several of us that she’d be “going under the knife” in two weeks. “I want you to know because you’re my friends,” she said. Laughing, she’d pointed to her chest and added, “I don’t have that much to lose, anyway. Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.” I asked her how she’d been able to maintain her upbeat attitude. “I guess I’ve always used humor to cope,” she replied. “I firmly believe that my hope and positivity carried me through. I’d discovered a pea-size lump the day before I was due for a routine check-up. I was so fortunate that it was caught in the early stages, and that I had great doctors. Women today have greater chances than

PHOTO BY IAN COUCH

Ronnie Norpel’s 2009 good-bye shoot.

COURTESY ZOE STARK

Zoe Stark has didicated herself to helping women destigmatize cancer.

in the past due to the diagnostic tools that are now available.” Prior to her surgery, she did a “good-bye shoot” on a rooftop between the United Nations and the Chrysler Building, and later was the subject of the Deconstructing Icons project, which documented her journey via photographs. “I am so grateful that I escaped; that I’m still here,” she said. “I ART continued on p. 29 TheVillager.com TheVillager.com


ART continued from p. 28

was given the chance to examine my philosophies, and I knew I wasn’t ready to go. This has been a lesson in grace.” Following her surgery, Ronnie’s doctors suggested she attend a panel discussion. One of the speakers was Zoe Stark. “She had a cool vibe, and she was so matter of fact and informative. I felt connected to her,” Ronnie recalled. Zoe was a 45-year-old single mother of 13-year-old twins when she was diagnosed in June of 2007. She underwent 11 surgeries between June and October when she decided, with her doctors, that a double mastectomy would be best, since it was an extremely rapidly moving cancer. “I was lucky,” she told me. “I had good insurance, excellent doctors, and amazing friends and co-workers who supported me.” She did not tell her kids or mother until the final surgery was planned. “I was scared, but I always believed I’d be okay, and I made an early decision to be open about it. I wanted to remove the stigma. The final surgery is very difficult, but I was empowered by it. I took control, and I didn’t allow society to inform my choices. I saved my own life, and by doing that I began to own my womanhood and my sexuality more than ever before.” Her surgeons were so impressed by her positive attitude, that, following her reconstruction surgery, they asked her to talk to a patient who was having trouble with treatment decisions. Over the next three years, she mentored a number of women, sharing her story and giving them information about what to expect at each stage of the process. “I answered the questions that they rarely ask doctors. Like what about sex? What about new relationships? The stuff women really want to know. I’m still in touch with a few of the women. I don’t use the word ‘survivor.’ I hate that word. It doesn’t define me. I was given some stuff to deal with, and I dealt with it. Some people have it so much worse. I don’t care who knows. This is how we destigmatize.” Alice Espinosa-Cincotta had kept her 2007 diagnosis, “hush-hush,” as she put it, confiding only in her husband, brother, a few close friends, and, by necessity, her supervisors at work. Over the last few years, she’s slowly begun to share with people in her circle. One of them was Zoe Stark. “We looked at each other in recognition and immediately went to the bathroom to compare notes. It’s a bonding experience when you share with other women who have been through it,” Espinosa-Cincotta noted. She was 43 years old and had just started a new job; she’d also won a CUNY scholarship to begin graduate studies. Like Esther, she’d been without health insurance for a period of time and had not had a mammogram for two years. “I think I found myself on the floor when I was given the news. My first question to the doctor was, ‘How much time do I have?’ ” The doctor assured Espinosa-Cincotta that she was in the early stages, and a good candidate for successful treatment. She opted for partial mastectomies, followed by rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, and Herceptin. “They suggested that TheVillager.com TheVillager.com

PHOTO BY JOHAN VIPPER

Alice Espinosa-Cincotta at her art show.

I stop working because of the side effects,” she said, “but I was rebellious. Even though I was scared, I was determined to keep living a normal life, going to work, going to school, acting ‘as if.’ This is how I cope; I act like everything is all right. In a way, I numbed myself. I didn’t want pity. When my hair fell out, I bought a cute little wig and cut it like my hairstyle so nobody knew. I even got compliments on it!” Determined to live as normally as possible, she said nothing to her co-workers, and her supervisors helped her schedule her shifts around the chemotherapy sessions. “I learned that I was a lot stronger and more capable than I thought. I earned A’s in all my coursework. Working with the disabled population is hard, but I did it. The longer you stay cancer-free, the better the chances that you’ll stay that way. I hadn’t been vocal about my experience, but now I feel ready to help others by showing that I’m living my life and they can, too. If I had the strength to beat the sickness, I have the strength to beat the stigma.” Esther Pagan continues to create art and educate others. She recently co-hosted a gala in the Bronx and on October 16, she plans to participate in Making Strides in the Bronx, a walk along Orchard Beach. Ronnie Norpel is still pursuing her careers as an actress, writer, photographer, and performer. She is working on a new memoir, “Boob Job From God,” a follow-up to “Baseball Karma and the Constitution Blues,” released in 2010. She hosts a monthly performance series at The West End Lounge (955 West End Ave.), and, on October 11, produced the Pink Princess Edition in recognition of National Breast Cancer month. Zoe Stark, in the last several years, has fallen in love, gotten married on the Brooklyn Bridge, made several career changes, and, in her spare time, books bands and promotes rock shows. Alice Espinosa-Cincotta works at the same

PHOTO COURTESY THE ARTIST

A T-shirt designed by Esther Pagan, aka Star Angel.

job and has discovered a love for photography and videography. She participated in her first group show in August 2016, and takes courses at PhotoManhattan. And me, I finally picked up the phone to make that overdue appointment. Maybe some of our readers will, too. Visit nychealthandhospitals.org for info on low-cost and free mammograms. Keep up with Ronnie Norpel’s work at adlibpub.com/ gigs.html. For info about Esther Pagan (Star Angel), facebook.com/star.angel.77377?fref=ts. Alice Espinosa-Cincotta: facebook.com/alice. espinosacincotta?ref = br_ rs and instagram. com/alicealleycat/. Zoe Stark: facebook.com/ zoe.stark.58?fref=ts. Puma Perl: facebook.com/ pumaperlandfriends. October 13, 6, 2016 October 2016

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TRUMP continued from p. 27

Then on Sunday, hours before the debate, when a lesser man might have been, oh, I don’t know, prepping, Trump livestreamed a press conference with women who have accused Bill Clinton (not a candidate for president) of sexual assault. The event was so bizarre it would take another whole column to describe, let alone make fun of. To save space, I’ll just leave you with a 1998 Trump quote about [Bill] Clinton’s accusers: “His victims are terrible. He is really a victim himself. The whole group…it’s just a really unattractive group. I’m not just talking about physical.” Eugh. So. Having set the debate bar for himself so low he could tunnel through the mud like some sort of repulsive human filth insect and still clear it, Trump dug deeper. He answered the first audience question in slow, measured tones, a sort of half-assed Pence impression. Apparently he thought if he spoke quietly enough, the hogwash and bile tumbling out his chow hole would land so softly the audience wouldn’t realize he was insane; and he may have been right — but then, and who could have imagined or prepared for it, Anderson Cooper brought up the “hot mic” incident. “You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women,” said Cooper. “Do you understand that?” I’m going to go with “No.” Trump denied doing any such thing, saying over and over again that it was “lockerroom talk.” So, in Trumpsylvania, “locker-room talk” isn’t where you boast to your gym buddies about your prowess with the ladies, it’s where you peacock before

the Billy Bushes in your life and assert authority over them because they are presumably impressed by, and envious of, the inherent masculinity you demonstrate when sexually assaulting women. In case that doesn’t sound awful enough, please note a male peacock’s favorite toy is a ball formed of its own dung, which it rolls around with its beak. That is a well-documented science fact you may feel free to look up. Trump went on at length about how, as embarrassed as he might be by the exposure of his “locker-room talk,” ISIS was “drowning people in steel cages” and beheading them. I get that. Next to such atrocities, I guess bragging about sexual assault you maybe didn’t even do but just said to impress Billy Bush seems like small potatoes. After that, Trump was fully unhinged. Any hold Kellyanne Conway had over Trump failed, be it traditional debate prep, drug-enhanced hypnosis, or remote control genital shock harness. Trump lumbered around stage like a per diem extra waiting for his scene on the set of “The Walking Dead.” He alternately caressed, groped, fondled, throttled and supported his girth on his chair. He reprised his Top Ten Sniffs and pointed repeatedly at the ceiling as if signaling the Mothership. He loomed behind Clinton like the muscle in a cheapass, direct-to-video mobster movie. And then, this: “If I win,” said Trump, “I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation.” Clinton responded it was good a man with Trump’s temperament wasn’t in charge of the law. Trump responded, “Because you’d be in jail.” All the investigations. All the committee hearings.

PHOTO VIA HILLARYCLINTON.COM

Hillary Clinton smiles, knowing the presidency is her Get Out of Jail Free card.

You may not always approve of Clinton’s actions, but she has never been charged with a crime, let alone found guilty of one. If Trump wins, he’ll use the power of the presidency to open a new investigation, one where the verdict is predetermined, and he will put her in jail. Only a man with no knowledge of history, no clue as to how our government or laws actually function could say such a thing. That kind of talk is reserved for buffoons who dream of being crowned king, for slighted pre-teens nursing grudges in their mildewed basement bedrooms. That’s not leadership, that’s perverse, twisted fantasy. That’s locker-room talk.

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Your Dream. Your House Your Apartment Your Home. 30 30

October October 6, 13,2016 2016

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Pathetic puppet parody is stuffed with stolen moments

‘Golden Girls’ fans should stay home, eat cheesecake BY SCOTT STIFFLER

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icture it: October 7, 2016. New York City. Three friends meet up to see the “That Golden Girls Show! — A Puppet Parody.” They smile; they laugh; they delight in a free-flowing exchange of risqué tales, camaraderie, and affectionate insults. Then the actual performance begins. Soon after, boredom sets in. Then betrayal. The onstage antics are nowhere near as entertaining as the show’s clever press campaign suggests! An interminable 90 minutes later — three times the length of its namesake — our disappointed trio exits the theater, realizing they’ve just had their chains yanked by a bunch of puppets. One of those friends…was me. Happily, I’m still on speaking terms with the others, despite subjecting them to a show for which we were given complimentary press tickets; but are, I feel, somehow still owed a refund (days later, one pal remarked that her favorite part was the theme song sing-along; ouch!). What purports to be an affectionate tribute to the 1985-1992 TV show about four Miami-based seniors living under the same roof (and eating copious amounts of cheesecake) is, in fact, a dead-end walk down memory lane stuffed with potent zingers reproduced verbatim from the iconic sitcom — an act of shameless plagiarism masquerading as a creative choice, while wrapping itself in the protections afforded by “fair use” legal doctrine (you’re allowed to reproduce the work of others by claiming it’s in the service humorous commentary, hence the word “parody” in the show’s title). Created and directed by Jonathan Rockefeller, this community-theater-level endurance test is little more than a collection of one-liners and plot points that “Golden Girls” fans committed to memory long, long ago. There certainly are raucous laughs of recognition the first dozen or so times a character tells a familiar joke, or exhibits their trademark behavior (Blanche is horny; Sophia is cranky). But that well soon runs dry, and only serves to heighten the contrast between quality sitcom writing and Rockefeller’s failed attempt to craft new material for these well-known, much-loved characters. What little “original” content there is manifests in the form of scenarios and dialogue that merely riff on, invoke, or recontextualize “golden” moments from the show. Dimwitted Rose, for example, seeks to marry Dorothy’s ex, the suddenly wealthy Stan, in order to fund her Herring Circus. Stan, for reasons never explained (let alone used to comedic effect) is the only character on stage not made out of foam-rubber. He does, however, use a sock puppet in a manner similar to — but not as funny as — the original series Stan, who once carried around a fake monkey made from a traffic cone, in an attempt to emotionally emancipate himself from Dorothy (1991’s “The Monkey Show,” season 7, episodes 8 & 9). It’s too bad the general approach falls so flat, and so hard — because puppet designer Joel Gennari’s use of exaggerated features (Blanche’s eyebrows), signature props (Sophia’s purse) and multiple cosTheVillager.com TheVillager.com

PHOTO BY RUSS ROWLAND

Sitting in a theater watching puppets watch TV isn’t nearly as meta, or fun, as it sounds.

tume changes (Dorothy’s jazzercise outfit) nails each character’s essence, and gives their already outrageous behavior a cartoonish quality that’s tremendous fun to watch. The puppeteers are equally game. As Sophia, appropriately diminutive Emmanuelle Zeesman dispenses insults with glee, while deploying a consistently funny geriatric shuffle. Cat Greenfield’s slinky frame and loopy Southern drawl is less an imitation of Blanche and more of an impression, but it’s a good one. Arlee Chadwick, as Rose, is little beyond simply agreeable (it doesn’t help that she’s saddled with Rockefeller-penned takes on the sitcom’s beloved Scandinavian gibberish and St. Olaf stories). The husky line readings and slow burn reactions of Weston Chandler Long (a man!) do great justice to TV Dorothy’s mastery of deadpan delivery. Note to the director: Cutting the show in half, then turning your cast loose for some improvised Q&A (or having Long perform excerpts from Bea Arthur’s 2002 “Just Between Friends” solo stage show) would have sent the audience into the night with the feeling that they saw something new, instead of something they can (and should!) watch every day of the week on Hallmark Channel.

Perhaps in an attempt to divert attention from his wholesale plundering, the press release cites its creator/ director as devoting “time to philanthropic work furthering childhood literacy and appreciation of the arts.” That’s nice; but were he to channel every last penny of profit from this show into funding those worthy causes — then add no-kill animal shelters and cleft palate surgeries to the mix — Rockefeller would barely move the needle on the scale of Karmic debt he owes to those whose enduring love “The Golden Girls” merits something other than this lumbering production. It may have been a hallucination brought on by the overly long run time, but at one point, I swear I saw a puppet repeatedly blink the word “torture” in Morse code. Let’s hope fan indifference at the box office sends this anemic atrocity off to the Shady Pines Retirement Home for Half-Baked Ideas. Through Dec. 1: Mon., Tues. & Thurs. at 7:30pm; Fri. at 7:30pm & 10pm; Sat. at 3pm & 8pm; Sun. at 3pm. At Union Square’s DR2 Theatre (103 E. 15th St., btw. Union Sq. East and Irving Pl.). For tickets ($69; $99 Golden VIP), visit ticketmaster.com or call 800982-2787. Visit ThatGoldenGirlsShow.com. October October13, 6, 2016

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A Bride in the Willow; Theresa Byrnes suspends BY SARAH FERGUSON

E

ast Village painter Theresa Byrnes is known for staging provocative performances that test the limits of her physicality. A practitioner of what’s known as “endurance art,” she’s dunked herself in barrels of oily paint to protest the massive oil spills sullying our seas, and mounted her near-naked body on a spinning wheel, in a feminist take on Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. Such acts are rendered all the more intense and intimate because of Byrnes’s limited mobility: She has a degenerative disease called Friedreich’s ataxia that is diminishing her muscle control and balance. Byrnes willingly engages her viewers in this “fragility” — or really, it’s her resilience and willful determination that’s on display. That interplay between intention and chance, along with her insistence on beauty at all costs, were at the heart of Byrnes’s latest work, “Bride,” which she performed on Sat., Sept. 24, while suspended from a willow tree at the community garden La Plaza Cultural. The piece was an interactive tapestry of loss and grief, inspired in part by the death of her young son’s father, who passed away earlier this year. And it was a wedding of art and nature, a meditation on womanhood in its most eerie and profound. Byrnes entered the garden, at E. Ninth St. and Avenue C, in her wheelchair, dressed in a wedding gown, wearing a crown of black emu and turkey feathers, and trailing a long veil carried by several attendants. Two “best men,” barefoot and in tuxes, lifted her out of her chair and placed her thin frame inside a hammock of white mesh fabric suspended from one of the garden’s iconic willow trees. Using ropes to guide her, they swung her cocooned body back and forth as Byrnes squirted blue and black ink, staining the white fabric encasing her body, and the bed of tule and canvas spread out on the ground below her. As she worked, a swirling score of chiming bells and electronic glazes (created by Tim Cramer) washed through the air, evoking the feeling of a haunted churchyard. Like raindrops, the ink dripped from her body and stippled the tule below her, creating a 3D painting in real time. This is art of the moment, using gravity as gesture, marks mediated by chance. When the wind blew and picked up a corner of the tule, shifting the ink, that too became part of the painting, as did the willow leaves that drifted into the composition. Something borrowed, something

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October 13, 2016

Photos by Rainer Hosch

Ar tist Theresa Byrnes on her way to La Plaza Cultural, at E. Ninth St., above, at the star t of her performance of “Bride.”

The ar tist was raised off the ground by ropes suspended from one of the garden’s majestic willow trees.

blue… Was it coincidence that she performed this work “Bride” while suspended from a willow, a tree known as a “widow maker” because of its precarious habit of dropping limbs as a means of propagation? (That is how willow trees “seed” themselves.) Byrnes’s son, Sparrow, covering her with rose petals after she was lowered to the garden floor. Slowly an arm, mottled with ink, poked through, and then a swath of long black hair, as Byrnes struggled to free her head from the tightly stretched fabric. As the music swelled, her attendants hoisted her higher, her neck held straight, her stockinged feet dangling limply. She swung haltingly, freeing her arms so she could wield her squirt bottles of water and ink, dropping feathers from her crown. The images created as the colors pooled around her body and dripped onto the tule below were so immediate — dictated by physics, yet beautiful, like life itself. It was like watching a chrysalis emerge from its case — underscoring the symbiosis of life and decay. Another cascade of bells rang out as a long sheath of white canvas unfurled from the crown of the tree. One of the best men yanked another rope, causing a bucket of black paint to spill down on the suspended canvas. The paint dripped into a beautibyrnes continued on p. 33 TheVillager.com


herself to make provocative art in La Plaza

Once she has been lowered back down, Theresa Byrnes’s young son, Sparrow, covers her with rose petals.

byrnes continued from p. 32

ful piece of black and white abstraction, 20 feet high. The best men lowered Byrnes to the ground and helped free her body from the fabric cocoon. Her determination to pull herself out was both difficult and thrilling to watch. She flopped down onto the inky bed of canvas and tule. Her young son, Sparrow, then toddled forward, led by “maid of honor” Bobbi Bennett, and they tossed crimson rose petals over her prostate form. Byrnes lay there for several minutes before the hushed crowd, the strains of salsa from a neighboring garden filtering through the fence. Then it was over. As her attendants lifted her inky body back into her wheelchair, a look of exhilaration beamed from her eyes, like that of a bride who’d just tossed her bouquet. In a statement, Brynes said the performance was intended to honor her connection to Sparrow’s father, “beyond time or matter.” It was also a wedding of her art to the “force of nature.” “For me, everything resolves back to the earth and mirrors nature’s force,” Brynes wrote. “My painting is guided by the force of nature, especially my ink painting, where I use the flow of water to create gesture and mix pigment… . For me, painting is about hanging out far beyond self — bonding with, and getting to know the force of nature.” Byrnes performed “Bride” during last month’s LUNGS Harvest Festival, an annual event celebrating all the community gardens of the Lower East Side. The piece is part of a larger show TheVillager.com

mounted in her gallery, at 616 E. Ninth St., featuring abstract paintings made from ink and wedding tule, and family portraits of Sparrow and his late father. Byrnes will perform another “aerial” painting, while suspended inside the storefront window of her gallery, during the closing party on Sat., Oct. 15, at 7 p.m. Her paintings and video of the “Bride” performance will be on view at the gallery through Sun., Oct. 16.

Byrnes being lowered to the garden floor, after being drenched with paint from a bucket above her.

A collage of postrate per formance ar tist, paint, patterned dress and petals comes together in the denouement. October 13, 2016

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37


Hearing was a sham S.B.J.S.A. continued from p. 26

support community nEWS!

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eloquently spoke about the S.B.J.S.A., the councilmember moderating the hearing at that moment immediately admonished her not to mention the unmentionable — even though many held signs saying, “Pass #SBJSA NOW!!” This was clearly a top-down agenda not welcoming grassroots efforts intent on finding the final solution, finally. Though I had signed up to speak, at that diss I bolted. Once again, Kim with his 30 years’ experience was right to boycott this “sham hearing” rigged against the “will of the people.” Kim assures that, with the agenda made by and for REBNY, the proposals discussed will likely soon be voted into law, having nothing to do with the root cause of small businesses closing or laying off workers. The unfair, onesided lease renewal process existing in our speculative commercial rental market — promoted by Giuliani, Bloomberg and now de Blasio — will continue unabated. The City Council will soon choose one of three options before election campaigns begin next year. The first option is that they pass three pieces of legislation supported, and even likely written, by REBNY. One calls for landlords to receive tax credits for not raising commercial tenants’ rents upon lease renewals. But landlords could still charge whatever they want, so this proposal is open to exploitation and abuse by landlords — plus, taxpayers’ could get stuck with the bill. The Independent Budget Office’s report on the costs of property tax abatements in return for freezing commercial rents concludes, “This abatement could have the unintended consequence of allowing landlords to raise commercial rents faster than they otherwise would have when leases for small business expire, with the city covering the cost.”

Another proposal also would cause the crisis to worsen. A bill by Brewer and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, called the “Landlords’ Bill” 30 years ago, was basically the recommendation of a commission made up of real estate, bank and big business members. This proposal, calling for nonbinding mediation and a one-year lease extension at 15 percent rent increase — purportedly, to give merchants time to move — actually would result in high rents. That’s because to stay in their neighborhoods, businesses would be forced to bid against their neighbors — and move to where? Many have already moved several times to escape high rents. The last Trojan horse proposal, a zoning law to limit chain stores on main shopping strips, though not making the crisis worse like the other two, would not address the root causes of forced closings. Zoning affects new tenants — not commercial lease renewals — thus would not save a single business. And we don’t need study — of a study! — by a task force handpicked by REBNY, with outcomes predetermined. The last option is passage of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, the only real solution to end the crisis. “The absolute, essential component of any law to stop the closing of businesses is the right to renewal of the lease, without which all proposals will fail, forcing independent owners to close,” Kim declared. Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that our small business policy over the last 30 years has failed miserably. One segment of our society (the 1 percent in control) is determined to do the same thing — to “rig the system” over and over again. Tell your elected officials, stop the insanity!

My Verizon DSL hell VERIZON continued from p. 26

he would try to get it straightened out. This (at last!) was effective. Two days after I contacted Glick and the P.S.C., my old number was back in working order. And this is the most maddening part. If I hadn’t sicced the authorities on Verizon, they seemingly would have left me with no working number forever. But I never could have reached the executive office without appealing to the authorities. Verizon has built a system that keeps consumers venting at hired flak-catchers in Third World countries. Asking to speak to a supervisor is useless — you just get put on hold and dis-

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October 13, 2016

connected. So now, I have lost nearly two months of work. I am stuck with a company that has never provided reliable service, and switching has proven impossible. And I am in deadly fear that my service will be interrupted yet again if I fail to pay my bill because it never arrives — being sent to a different address several blocks away. This is totalitarian capitalism. In the name of freedom of choice, we are being enclosed in a system of totalizing surveillance — that fails to even deliver the most elementary right to communicate and access information. Verizon could have taught the K.G.B. a few tricks. TheVillager.com


Masters runner making strides on track, in life

sports By Fr ancis Bishop-Schiro

O

n Sept. 14, Paul Pendelton, a 43-year-old Lower East Sider, won the masters division of the prestigious Palio Half Marathon (13.1 miles) in Saratoga, N.Y. Competing under ideal weather conditions, Pendelton placed 11th overall out of a field of 1,200 runners. A construction manager, Pendelton usually puts in a 60-hour workweek. He is married with two young children, so his home responsibilities are significant, as well. His wife Samia and daughter Mayassa, as well as son Saeed are his strongest supporters. Pendelton is a personable athlete always ready and willing to help another runner. Easily approachable, he’s always happy to share his athletic philosophy with others. “To me this is a lifestyle — a commitment to health that not only benefits me but my family, as well as the community,” he said. “I find truth and comfort in the hard work I am willing to do to reach my goals. “Athletics belongs to everyone,” he said, enthusiastically. “I’m not saying everyone should run, but I do feel some

Paul Pendelton and his son at the East River Park running track at E. Sixth St.

type of athletic activity is its own reward — a gift we can give ourselves.” Pendelton currently runs for the L.E.S. Track Club and does speed work at the East River Park track, at E. Sixth St., two times weekly. When asked how he finds the time for this regimen, Pendelton stated: “I honestly feel that doing this is what gives me the energy and fo-

Letters to The Editor Letters continued from p. 24

Trump unfit to lead To The Editor: With Election Day right around the corner, I can’t help but think about all that is at stake this year. Working people know that the path to prosperity starts with electing candidates who support a raising-wages agenda. We have the opportunity to win equal pay, paid leave, fair scheduling and higher wages. These are just some of the reasons why Donald Trump is the wrong choice for America. Donald Trump has bragged about benefiting from the housing crash that left millions of Americans without a home. Trump has a history of not paying workers at his properties. He has profited from the trade deals he speaks against. He outsources jobs at his own companies. He even boasts that not paying taxes makes him smart. We can’t risk electing a candidate who puts his profits ahead of the needs of working families. R. Ryce-Paul TheVillager.com

Pier 40 is kids’ kick To The Editor: Re “All in the family: Pier 40 is Village’s playground” (talking point, by Magdalene Zier and Dugan Zier, Sept. 29): I’m 11 and have played at the Pier 40 soccer fields since I was 5. I have played with the Downtown United Soccer Club soccer league, and done DUSC soccer camp there. One of my most fun memories is when DUSC sponsored a Red Nose soccer game. We wore costumes and red noses and played to raise money for the Red Nose Foundation. Playing fields keep kids healthy and out of trouble. Please save the fields. Alex Koster 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.

cus required in my outside life. I feel it makes me a better person, husband and father, and gives me energy to meet the demands of the day and the week. “This is critically important to me, and I make the time for it. The sacrifices I sometimes have to make are 100 percent worth it. Also, time management is really a key to my success.”

Specifically, Pendelton started running, as he put it, “to deal with stress and anxiety in a healthy manner.” He started with a five-minute run, and over his first year of the sport, was able to complete a 6-mile effort. “I finished that run and had a wonderful feeling! I have never stopped running since,” he said. He started his running life in 2012 and has “never looked back.” He has developed a lifelong commitment to running, one mile at a time. Pendelton is currently targeting the New York City Marathon in November. He intends to be competitive and says he will be satisfied if he gives his best. He also plans to run the indoor track circuit starting in December, with the goal of representing the L.E.S. Track Club at the U.S.A. National Masters Championships at 1 mile and 3,000 meters. He already ranks as a current All American (U.S.A. Track and Field Olympic Standards) at 1 mile, 2 mile, 5K, 10K and half marathon distances. A proud L.E.S. resident and elite masters athlete, Pendleton will be a force to be reckoned with on the roads and track nationally, and, hopefully, internationally, as well. Bishop-Schiro runs the L.E.S. Track Club. For more information, contact www.lestrackclub.com .

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