The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
December 1, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 48
Peace in the Middle East? How about fixing the heat? Kushner tenants skeptical By Joaquin Cotler
resident-elect Donald Trump hopes that — where so many others have failed before — his Orthodox Jewish son-in-law, using his political savvy and business connections, will be able to bring peace to the Middle East. Jared Kushner, the young real estate mogul from Livingston,
N.J., is being considered for a “special envoy” position, The New York Times reported last week. This role, an unofficial post within Trump’s administration, would specifically task Kushner, 35, with making peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. “He knows the region, knows the people, knows the players,” kushner continued on p. 5
Toledano 12th St. renters try to light a fire under landlord to get back gas By Amy Russo
ow did you cook your turkey this Thanksgiving? For most of the residents at 325 E. 12th St., it wasn’t with an oven. For the past six months, the East Village building’s apartments have lacked gas, just one sign of the declining living conditions that tenants say have prompted them
to sue their young landlord, Raphael Toledano, and his Brookhill Properties. A legal agreement reached Nov. 22 between Toledano and the tenants states that the gas will be turned back on by Jan. 31. However, a spokesperson from Brookhill Properties did not comment for this article regarding the restoration of the gas. toledano continued on p. 10
Photo by Bob Krasner
Love trumps hate : A young girl — fittingly wearing a hear t shir t — posted a thought on a stick y note on the “therapy wall” in the 14th St./Union Square subway station. The panoply of post-its has been an outlet for straphangers’ fears, anger, uncertainty and even hope, following Donald Trump’s election.
South Village’s last leg is on track for landmarking By Dennis Lynch
he Landmarks Preservation Commission heard its last round of remarks from the public concerning the proposed SullivanThompson Historic District — a.k.a. phase three of the South Village Historic District — on Nov. 29. The agency’s 11 commissioners could vote as soon as Dec. 13 whether to landmark the roughly 10-block
area bounded by Broadway and Sixth Ave. and W. Houston and Canal Sts. The majority of the roughly three-dozen residents, property owners, business owners and other stakeholders that testified supported the district’s designation. The area contains buildings from as early as the turn of the 19th century, but also includes numerous tenement buildings where immigrants from around the world and particularly Eu-
rope first lived. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has spearheaded the designation campaign over the last decade. So far, the first two-thirds of the proposed area has been landmarked. G.V.S.H.P. Executive Director Andrew Berman evoked the neighborhood’s immigrant connection in his testimony. district continued on p. 4
Eliz. gardeners tell Blaz: Come on down!����������p. 9 Presidents who did make America great ........p. 15 Earth-allelujah! Billy’s back..p. 17
Piece of the rock: Our man in Standing Rock, Jean-Louis Bourgeois, gave us the update on the increasingly tense and dangerous situation as the Sioux and water protectors continue to face off with law enforcement over the Dakota Access Pipeline. We didnâ€™t know if the concert last Sunday, headlined by Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt, would even happen after the violent clash the previous weekend, that left a Bronx woman with a shattered forearm after she was hit by a concussion grenade. â€œThe concert took place last night and it was superb,â€? Bourgeois reported. However, as for the battle the previous week, the Village activist said he chose to pass on that one. â€œI tried to be heroic back in 1968 at Columbia â€” I was terrified back then,â€? he reminisced of the student uprising that was met by head-cracking cops. Bourgeoisâ€™s companion out on the reservation, Anthony VanDonk, a local Lenape from Brooklyn, was in the thick of it on Nov. 20. â€œThere was tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, pepper spray, concussion grenades,â€? he told us. â€œMy friend and I were on the bridge and we were tear-gassed. Hundreds of people were treated for hypothermia and for being pepper-sprayed and tear-gassed.â€? State and county police have told the protesters to clear out by Dec. 5. â€œThe word is that nobodyâ€™s going to leave,â€? Bourgeois said. So whatâ€™s going to happen? â€œNobody knows,â€? he said.
out our article in this weekâ€™s issue about how the garden volunteers buttonholed Mayor Bill de Blasio outside The Cooper Union to hand-deliver an invitation to him to visit the Little Italy green space and see how special it is and why everyone wants to save it. That is...except for Chin. Sheâ€™s the primary proponent for doing the garden in, pushing a plan to replace it with affordable housing. Community Board 2 has repeatedly urged Chin to accept an alternative site they have identified for the affordable housing. Her refusal to bend on this issue â€” after having rubbed voters in the north end of her district the wrong way on the N.Y.U. expansion plan and Soho business improvement district â€” may well see more candidates pop up. Oh yeah, Marte is the guy in the articleâ€™s photo holding the gardenâ€™s banner along with Terri Cude, the new chairperson of Community Board 2.
Marte joins the par-taay: Well, it looks like City Councilmember Margaret Chin could have at least one challenger in next yearâ€™s election. Christopher Marte, a young activist who grew up on the Lower East Side, has filed to create a campaign committee. In September, he ran in a three-way race for Democratic State Committee on the Lower East Side, but was edged out by Lee Berman. Marte (pronounced â€œmar-taayâ€?) is a committed supporter of the Elizabeth St. Garden. If you donâ€™t believe us, check
Trump done it: Sharp-eyed reader Wayne Smith wanted to know why a caption in last weekâ€™s issue said â€œGAGâ€? stands for â€œGays Against Gays.â€? â€œA Trump front group?â€? Smith wondered. Yes, probably, it is. ... But, no, in this case, actually just an embarrassing typo. Itâ€™s an acronym for Gays Against Guns. Must have been those darned Russian hackers!
Word from Westminster: Our article last week about Donald Trump son-in-law Jared Kushnerâ€™s Westminster Management kicking off its new â€œWestminster Caresâ€? volunteer effort stated some Kushner tenants who attended said they could not talk about building issues with staff. However, a Westminster rep contacted us, saying: â€œWe had more than 20 Westminster staff members at the event who were available to, and did, discuss issues with tenants.â€?
Foul: Our article last week about Niketown incorrectly stated it opened Nov. 1. It opened Nov. 18.
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December 1, 2016
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Two years ago, we opened an around-theclock, 911 receiving emergency center in the former National Maritime Union Building and brought innovative health care to Greenwich Village. Since then, we have been oﬀering state-of-the-art care with you and your family’s best interest in mind.
Now our outpatient imaging center is open for business, utilizing the most advanced techniques and equipment available. And there’s much more to come. We will be introducing additional medical services in the facility and continuing to raise the standard of healthcare in your neighborhood. Visit us on Seventh Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets. Emergency center (646) 665-6911 Imaging (646) 665-6700 Administration (646) 665-6000 Lenoxhealth.com
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December 1, 2016
Photo by Dennis Lynch
About three dozen people turned out for Tuesday’s Landmarks Preser vation Commission hearing on the final phase of the proposed South Village Historic District. Most were in favor of designating the district.
S. Village’s last leg on track for landmarking district continued from p. 1
There are few parts of New York where one can walk down streets and see what an immigrant community at the turn of the last century, during the last great wave of immigration to New York City, looked like,” Berman said. He added that many of the tenement buildings still feature their original architectural details. Many supporters testified on the need to protect the South Village’s neighborhood character in the face of encroaching development projects in surrounding areas. Councilmember Corey Johnson and representatives from Assemblymember Deborah Glick and Borough President Gale Brewer spoke in support of the landmarking. A handful of people spoke against the designation. Two building owners told the commission that they would not be able to afford to maintain their buildings or upgrade them to make a profit if they were landmarked. The owners of landmarked buildings have to present any alteration plans to the commission, which in most cases requires hiring a lawyer, and the commissioners can reject any alteration if they feel it dilutes the historic quality of the building. That usually means spending more money on historically appropriate materials. Steven Hamilton, who owns and lives at 198 Sixth Ave., asked that the commission to remove his block, between Prince and Spring Sts., but landmark the rest of the district. Hamilton and his wife invest a part of their profits from rent on upgrading the building, which he claimed is not historically significant. To use more expensive materials would make those upgrades costprohibitive, he maintained. “
“I’ve talked to different people who have landmarked buildings, who have told me that it significantly increased the cost of any sort of treatment they want to do, so that would be a burden on us,” he testified. “We barely get by as it is. We manage through rents to do $5,000 or $6,000 worth of improvements a year. That’s about how much we would spend on legal fees — we’d just not be able to do anything.” Hamilton added that he felt left out of the conversation and that proponents of the landmarking had not taken into account the new development that took place on his block over the last half decade. It is not unusual for some property owners to oppose landmarking over concerns of the cost of maintenance and the effect it can have on property values. However, the commission does not require that all property owners support a designation. The N.Y.U. Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy found in 2014 that New York City properties in historic districts and those calendared for potential designation sell for 20 percent more than those outside historic districts — except in Manhattan. According to the Furman Center study, landmarking boosts the values of existing buildings, but the value of the land under most buildings in Manhattan contributes a more significant share of the overall property value than it does in outer boroughs, where the existing structure on the property contributes more heavily to the property value. The “hit to land values outweighs the boost to structure values,” the study found. The city’s Independent Budget Office, however, found in a study of historic district properties between 1975 and 2002 that those properties increased in price at a “slightly
greater rate” than those outside districts. But the I.B.O. report said there was not enough evidence to conclude that historic district designation caused that increase. But G.V.S.H.P.’s Berman said that designating a district will be a financial benefit over time because it protects property owners from large-scale construction that could hurt their property values. “Part of what you’re benefiting from is you share in perpetuity this special and distinctive neighborhood character,” Berman explained. “There is not a risk of that disappearing or being ruined by some insensitive, out-of-context development on the block.” Landmarks law also has a built-in “hardship provision” that obligates the commission to remove alteration restrictions on a building if the owner can prove that he or she cannot make a profit or do what is necessary to maintain the building, Berman added. Those cases are rare and usually end with a full demolition of a particular building. L.P.C. will reconvene on the SullivanThompson Historic District on Dec. 13. Berman said he is cautiously optimistic that they will vote on the designation that day, because a few days later the full City Council will vote whether to allow a transfer of air rights from Pier 40 across the West Side Highway to a site for a massive development project at what is now the St. John’s Center at 550 Washington St. The developers are also seeking a residential rezoning for the site, which is just a few blocks away from the edge of the proposed historic district. Some believe that landmarking the final unprotected section of the South Village is the only way to check what they believe will be a wave of development that the Hudson Square megaproject could spur. TheVillager.com
Mideast peace? How about maintenance? tenants ask Kushner continued from p. 1
Trump said of Kushner during an interview with Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., and Times editors and reporters. “I’ve had a lot of, actually, great Israeli businesspeople tell me, you can’t do that, it’s impossible,” he continued. “I disagree, I think you can make peace.” Kushner, Trump’s apparent go-to person for advice on U.S.-Israeli relations, wrote his father-in-law’s speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, back in March. In that address, Trump said that Obama and Clinton have treated Israel “very, very badly,” and he also echoed some historically Republican talking points. “We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem,” Trump promised, “and we will send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally, the State of Israel.” Kushner reportedly wrote the speech with help from the New York Observer’s then-editor, Ken Kurson, a longtime critic of the Obama administration’s treatment of Israel. Once headed by notorious Trump antagonist Graydon Carter, the New York Observer was purchased by Kushner in 2006. The paper endorsed Trump in the G.O.P. primary, but did not endorse him in the general election. (It was recently announced that the New York Observer would drop its print edition; it is now just called Observer.) A Harvard graduate, Kushner has powerful connections in the business world, including PayPal founder and investor Peter Thiel and Alibaba founder Jack Ma; his own wife, Ivanka Trump; and his venture-capitalist brother, Josh Kushner. Jared Kushner’s contacts in Silicon Valley enabled him to revamp the Trump campaign’s data analytics. He hired audience-targeting specialists, including the conservative Cambridge Analytica, to identify voter subgroups, and rebuilt Trump’s social-media campaign. According to Forbes, the team raised more than $250 million during the last four months of the campaign, largely from targeted outreach, after Kushner took the digital reins this past summer. In an effort to counter criticism that Trump’s campaign pandered to white nationalists and anti-Semites, Kushner penned an op-ed for his Observer, “The Donald Trump I Know,” in hopes of convincing the world otherwise. Leon Neyfakh, now a staff writer at Slate, began working for the Observer in 2007 under Kushner. He believes that the Observer’s owner, whom he calls “dumb but calculating, cruel but fundamentally feeble,” co-opted the paper when he became involved with the campaign. Neyfakh described the newspaper’s content TheVillager.com
around election season as a “kind of deadening background noise meant to drown out the boss’s evil deeds,” and he described Kushner’s involvement in Trump’s bid for president as “the opportunistic gamble of a crow pursuing the shiniest object in sight.” That pursuit kept many of Kushner’s most vulnerable clients in the dark. While Kushner was writing Trump’s Israel speech, Kushner’s real estate company Westminster Management was in and out of court over its inability — or refusal — to address basic living conditions in several of the young mogul’s East Village buildings, including long-term lack of services, including heat and cooking gas, plus electrical outages. For all his digital-media savvy, Kushner had a hard time setting up a system that worked for the people living in his buildings. According to several tenants, even after Westminster lost in court, it still failed to provide adequate service for Kushner’s lower-income residents, and treated them like second-class citizens. David DuPuis, a longtime rent-stabilized resident of a Kushner-owned building, 118 E. Fourth St., mentioned that Westminster introduced a Web payment system that’s only available to high-rent tenants. “They only allow the market-rate tenants to use it,” DuPuis said, “not the rentstabilized or senior citizens.” He said that “losing” rent checks is one of the many ways Westminster has systematically harassed tenants like him and his neighbor Jen Hengen — both of whom took Westminster to court and won, after enduring what they called unlivable conditions for six months. “As rent-stabilized tenants,” Hengen said, “we endured a lot of ignoring and contempt, because they really wanted to make room for tenants who would pay $3,000 a month for one of our studios.” “They separate us as people — not the sort of actions that come in handy when making peace deals,” DuPuis said, referring to Kushner’s possible new role in the Middle East. DuPuis and Hengen have been public with their statements in the past, in hopes of bringing attention to the plight of many of Kushner’s tenants. But now Hengen is concerned about speaking out. “I’m a little nervous with Trump in charge,” she said. “I have a spotless record professionally, but who knows what dirt will come from speaking to media? Giuliani and all the rest — it’s a scary time for New York.” But DuPuis is less apprehensive about voicing his opinion. “I hear from the market-rate tenants that the Web site is mismanaged at best,” he said. “Lost receipts. No one arrives to make repairs. They can’t manage a Web site, so I’m not sure how he will manage the Middle East.”
HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS Holiday Toy Drive Through THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2016 Brighten the holidays for local children by donating a new, unwrapped, nonviolent toy or book. Purchase a toy online via the Holiday Toy Drive’s Amazon Wish List at amzn.to/2fhoV1p before December 11. Alternatively, drop off a toy in person at any of the drop box locations listed at www.nyu.edu/nyu-in-nyc before December 15. The Holiday Toy Drive is sponsored by NYU and the 9th Police Precinct.
Tree Lighting WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2016, 6:00 pm Children and grown-ups are invited to gather by the arch in Washington Square Park for the lighting of the Christmas Tree presented by the Washington Square Association. The Rob Susman Brass Quartet will perform and there will be a special visit from Santa. The Washington Square Association will provide complimentary songbooks.
Winter Choral Concert FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2016, 7:30 pm $10 GENERAL ADMISSION; $5 STUDENTS AND SENIORS Mark your calendar for the annual Winter Choral Concert featuring NYU Chorale, Women’s Choir, University Singers, NYU Men’s Glee Club, Madrigal Singers, and Jazz Choir. For information and ticket sales, visit tickets.nyu.edu or call 212998-4941.
Christmas Eve Caroling SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2016, 5:00 pm Meet by the arch in Washington Square Park for caroling on Christmas Eve with the Washington Square Association! The Rob Susman Brass Quartet and song leaders will lead revelers in singing familiar holiday favorites. The Washington Square Association will provide complimentary songbooks.
The Washington Square Association, Inc. founded in 1906, is one of the city’s oldest community organizations. For over 90 years, it has sponsored carol singing under the arch. Other activities concern the continued improvement of Washington Square, the Washington Square Music Festival, and the fostering of neighborhood spirit.
December 1, 2016
Police Blotter No exit!
Back to the grind
A man created a minor emergency at the Lenox Health Greenwich Village stand-alone emergency department, at 30 Seventh Ave., early on Mon., Nov. 21, according to police. At 3 a.m., custodians and police asked the man to leave the hospital vestibule multiple times but he said he wouldn’t go. When police tried to place him under arrest, the man pulled his arms away, twisted his body and then locked his arms together, so that he couldn’t be handcuffed. Manuel Viturro, 51, was arrested for misdemeanor resisting arrest.
Police said that around 2 p.m. on Fri., Nov. 25, a man was spotted trying to steal a bike in front of 304 Bleecker St. He was allegedly using a batterypowered grinder to cut the lock, so he could swipe the bike from a signpost. Pedro Martinez, 55, was charged with misdemeanor criminal possession of stolen property. Police said they had arrested him before.
‘Hard’ Houston St.
A police officer observed a man pacing in front of 18 W. Houston St. early in the morning of Thurs., Nov. 17. Around
3:20 a.m., the officer approached the man and saw he had a hook blade fixed to his belt. Queried about it, the man responded, “I use the knife for protection. These streets are hard.” Tevin Goring, 23, was busted for felony criminal possession of a weapon.
Double phone filch A man told police his two cell phones were stolen at Gaslight bar, at 400 W. 14th St., early on Thurs., Nov. 17. He said that around 3:30 a.m., his iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 7 Plus — with a total value of $1,600 — were removed from
his pocket. Using the “Find My iPhone” app, police located the phones in another man’s pocket. Isaac Batista, 38, was arrested for felony grand larceny.
Perry St. robbery Police said that on Thurs., Nov. 24, at 12:15 a.m., a 22-year-old woman and a man entered the vestibule of a residential building on or near Perry St. The man removed the victim’s bag and fled eastbound on Perry St. The woman reportedly was not injured. The suspect is described as about age 29, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 210 pounds, last seen wearing a black jacket, white shirt, blue jeans and black shoes. 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.
Sprayed in her face According to police, on Tues., Nov. 15, at 2:15 a.m., a 33-year-old woman was in the vicinity of Horatio and Greenwich Sts., when a man approached her and sprayed an unknown substance in her face. The man then removed the woman’s bag from her shoulder and fled toward Jane St. E.M.S. responded and transported the victim to Lenox Hill Medical Center. The suspect is described as 5 feet 9 inches tall, 230 pounds and last seen wearing a black jacket and blue jeans. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Crime Stoppers Hotline. All tips are confidential.
Missing Riis resident On Nov. 21, police reported that Odell Pamias, 74, a Jacob Riis Houses resident, was missing. It was not clear when she was last seen at her home, at 465 E. 10th St., Apartment 7A. As of Wed., Nov. 31, police said there was no update and she was still missing. Pamias is 5 feet 4 inches tall, 150 pounds, with brown eyes and short black hair. It’s unknown what she was last seen wearing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers.
Emily Siegel and Lincoln Anderson 6
December 1, 2016
TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones
Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell
phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.
Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-
haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.
Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and
chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at
a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.
Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.
December 1, 2016
Indian Point may be K.O.’d by ruling: Activists By Paul DERienzo Environmental activists are cheering a unanimous decision by New York State’s highest court that upholds the right to review applications for renewal of federal licenses to operate two Indian Point nuclear power plants for another 20 years. The plant’s owners, Entergy Corporation, had argued the plants’ license to operate was grandfathered when the state adopted the Coastal Management Program in 1982. The decision does not close the plant, but its relicensing has been opposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and environmentalists. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board has been holding up consideration of the Indian Point relicensing applications pending a determination on the Coastal Management Program review. Cuomo has not moved directly to prevent the N.R.C. from relicensing the facility. In its Mon., Nov. 21, decision, the Court of Appeals wrote, “Entergy’s current application for a license to operate the Indian Point nuclear reactors for an additional 20 years is a new federal action, involving a new project, with different impacts and concerns than were present when the initial environmental impact statements were issued over 40
years ago.” Indian Point’s two remaining operating reactors reached the end of their original 40-year operating licenses in September 2013 and December 2015. In a statement on Nov. 21, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, “The court has now made it clear that policies protecting New York’s critical coastal resources are a necessary factor in considering whether to relicense the Indian Point facility.” “This is a monumental day,” Paul Gallay, president of New York-based Riverkeeper, declared. “This decision effectively stops the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from relicensing Indian Point.” Gallay added that, if the plants are closed, electric power needs can readily be met by a combination of other regional power plants, existing surpluses and growing solar power installations in the state. However, Entergy countered with its own statement, saying “Notwithstanding today’s court decision, we do continue to believe we will ultimately be successful in obtaining a C.Z.M. [Coastal Zone Management] permit and relicensing Indian Point. The facility continues to safely operate in a manner that is fully protective of the Hudson River and in compliance with state and federal law.” The Coastal Management Program
&A LA LA LA LA LA TREE LIGHTING & SINGING IN WASHINGTON SQUARE! Under the Historic Arch
A community project of The Washington Square Association with the assistance from the City of New York Parks and Recreation and the Washington Square Hotel
Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 6pm
Sing seasonal songs with the Rob Susman Brass Quartet, and a song leader, and help Santa with the illumination countdown, as the tree lights magically go on.
Saturday, Dec. 24 at 5pm
Celebrate Christmas Eve singing carols with the Rob Susman Brass Quartet.
Song Books for Each Evening
courtesy of the Washington Square Association washingtonsquarenyc.org
&REE 3ONG "OOKS 8
December 1, 2016
Photo by Lincoln Anderson
Rober t F. Kennedy, Jr., president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, left, and Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper, aboard a New York Water Taxi ferr y at Riverkeeper’s “State of the River” event in April. They were kicking off the group’s 50th anniversar y celebrations. R.F.K., Jr., who is Riverkeeper’s prosecuting attorney, spoke about the organization’s origins as the Hudson River Fishermen’s A ssociation, a group of commercial fishermen concerned that the pollution of the river was affecting their livelihood. Over the years, Riverkeeper has worked to rid the river of harmful PCB’s, sought to block ill-considered development, and worked to close the aging Indian Point nuclear power plant on the river’s banks. Today, the Hudson’s pollution levels are down, and swimming and boating in the river are back. Riverkeeper helped inspire the waterkeeper movement, protecting tens of thousands of miles of rivers and coastlines around the world. In a bit of American histor y, Kennedy also noted that, while New England is generally regarded as the area richest in Revolutionar y War histor y, the conflict actually centered around New York because of the might y Hudson River’s strategic impor tance.
is administered by New York’s Department of State and requires projects to comply with protection of fish and wildlife resources, in order to prevent or minimize environmental damage. The stretch of the Hudson River where Indian Point is located is a tidal estuary, where the freshwater mixes with saltwater from the Atlantic Ocean. Opponents of the relicensing point to mishaps over the past decade that they say show the nuclear plants — located less than 50 miles from New York City — are unsafe. In 2010, 600,000 gallons of radioactive steam was released into the atmosphere. Earlier this year, radioactive water leaked into the groundwater. A transformer blew up in 2010 and another failed in 2015, causing a shutdown of one of the reactors. “This is a happy day for New Yorkers, for the Hudson, and for the safety and security of our country,” Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., president of Waterkeeper Alliance, said. “Indian Point is the oldest, most dilapidated, mismanaged and dangerous nuclear plant in America.” The New York Times has implied that Indian Point could be “America’s Fukushima,” referring to the 2011 di-
sastrous meltdown of nuclear reactors struck by a tsunami in Japan, which was the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Cuomo wants the Buchanan, N.Y., plant closed and has called the leaking of tritium-contaminated water from it an “unacceptable” failure. Because the plant is cooled by up to 2.5 billion gallons of Hudson River water each day, the plant kills about 1 billion fish and other aquatic organisms a year. Environmental groups said studies suggest that the Indian Point reactors are a factor in a general decline in the river of shad, white perch, smelt and other fish species. A proposed natural-gas pipeline is also being planned to run underneath the property, within 100 yards of the nuclear plants. That pipeline, built by Spectra Energy, has been opposed by environmental activists, and 15 were arrested at the offices of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer last month protesting the project, which would bring fracked gas from Pennsylvania into New England. Riverkeeper and the activists want Schumer to come down firmly on the issue and join them in opposing the renewal of Indian Point’s license. TheVillager.com
Gardeners really give it to mayor — an invite
Photo courtesy Friends of Elizabeth St. Garden
Elizabeth St. Garden suppor ters outside The Cooper Union two weeks ago after delivering an invite to Mayor de Blasio.
By Lincoln Anderson
n the chilly morning of Mon., Nov. 21, more than two-dozen members of Friends of Elizabeth St. Garden ringed The Cooper Union before Mayor Bill de Blasio’s major speech on how the city will resist Donald Trump’s efforts to deport illegal aliens. They had fanned out around the building so as not to miss the mayor. As de Blasio came walking from the north end of the university’s Foundation Building at Astor Place down to its entranceway, he was swarmed by the garden volunteers, who personally hand-delivered to him an invitation to visit the Little Italy green oasis. On “The Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC, in response to a request that he do so, the mayor had said that he would “happily, happily” visit the garden. So the volunteers wanted to follow up with a formal invite. “The mayor said that he would visit this park, and we are calling on him to see for himself how important this space is to the community,” Jeannine Kiely, president of F.E.S.G., said. “We will fight the destruction of this park in every way possible.” Councilmember Margaret Chin is pushing a project for affordable senior housing on the treasured garden, which is located between Prince and Spring Sts. and covers 20,000 square feet. Developers’ responses to the city’s R.F.P. (request for proposals) for the project are due Dec. 14. Opponents note that the project will also include space for luxury retail. Residents from Little Italy, Nolita, Soho, Noho, Chinatown and the East and West Village have rallied to the cause of saving the garden. Community Board 2 has identified an alterative TheVillager.com
site in Hudson Square, at Hudson and Clarkson Sts. — less than a mile away — that could support at least five times as much affordable housing. Yet, Chin has stubbornly turned a deaf ear to the community’s pleas, and has refused to consider moving the project to the West Side site and save the rare spot of public greenery in openspace-starved Little Italy. According to the Friends, the garden offers more than 200 free public and attracts more than 100,000 visitors annually. The gardeners charge that Chin, in 2013, included the Elizabeth St. Garden site “in a backroom deal, with no public review whatsoever, as part of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area development in Community Board 3 on the Lower East Side.” All the area’s other politicians support the C.B. 2 alternative proposal. However, Borough President Gale Brewer, a strong Chin ally, has been on the fence, hoping that a compromise can be worked out. The project’s R.F.P. stresses that 5,000 square feet of the site must be left open for public use. But the opponents note that current zoning already mandates that. More to the point, they call Chin’s plan “a betrayal” of a previous agreement with the city. A public school and its playground previously occupied the southern part of the block, including the garden. In 1981, when 62 percent of the existing lot was designated for the LIRA affordable housing project, an agreement was reached that the rest of the site would be maintained “exclusively for recreational use.” Chin did not respond to request for comment by press time. Garden advocates plan to press their cause at another rally, Wed., Dec. 7, at noon, outside 250 Broadway. December 1, 2016
12th tenants try to light a fire under Toledano to get gas Toledano continued from p. 1
Stephanie Rudolph, the lead attorney representing the tenants, stated that while Brookhill C.E.O. Toledano could file for an extension of the deadline, failure to act would result in a series violations, as well as the possibility of being held in contempt of court or, in a rare worst-case-scenario, jail time. If Toledano decides to ask the court for more time to restore the gas, Rudolph may oppose his motion. Attorney Rudolph noted that Toledano has blamed Con Edison and the city’s Department of Buildings for the delay in turning the tenants’ gas back on. Brookhill Properties issued the following statement to The Villager: “We have been working tirelessly with all parties, including our contractors, Con Edison, the New York City Department of Buildings and our tenants, to repair and remedy this situation. Since 2015, D.O.B. has b[r]ought about a major increase in inspections, many resulting in gas shutoffs, and this was the case at 325 E. 12th St. Recognizing the inconvenience to tenants, Brookhill Properties has offered a rent abatement and stovetop burners to all tenants in this building. Brookhill will continue to diligently work with Con Edison, D.O.B. and our contractors toward the safe completion of all necessary work to restore gas to all of our tenants as soon as possible.” Aside from the absence of gas in the building, tenants have reported a series of additional issues that appear to have gone unattended. A tour inside the building last week revealed worn and chipped walls, plus a pile of debris in a vacant apartment that can be seen from across the courtyard and through the window. Residents call these “dumpster apartments.” Liz Haak, who has lived in the tenement for 43 years, said the trash has been there since last spring, adding that the city has told them that tenants can only complain about their own apartments, not vacant units, such as this one. “The sense seems to be that they’re running out of money,” said Haak, who doubts Brookhill will order a dumpster and cart out the rubbish. A Brookhill Properties spokesperson would not comment about the presence of socalled “dumpster apartments.” Haak is one of the few residents with an electric stove, so fortunately she does not need to petition for gas. Nevertheless, her concerns remain high. Haak worries about the possibility of lead dust being present, since she verified through city records that the building is 100 years old. And after the building failed a pressure test in October, tenants learned all the gas lines need replacement. “They didn’t tell the tenants directly,” Haak noted of that problem. It has also been reported that tenants have been encouraged to leave their
December 1, 2016
Photo by Sarah Ferguson
State Senator Brad Hoylman with tenants of 325 E. 12th St. at a protest outside the building t wo days before Thanksgiving. The building has been without cooking gas for half a year. The tenants waved frozen turkey dinners to help drive home the message.
Photo by Amy Russo
The corner of a wall in a hallway inside 325 E. 12th St. looks just aw ful. The sheetrock could easily be fixed up with a metal corner bead and some dr y wall joint compound. Yet, like the “dumpster apar tments,” it just stays there.
units, so that Toledano can raise rentstabilized apartments to market rate, a complaint that has been raised by residents and echoed by Rudolph. According to Trissy Callan, who has lived there more than 39 years, “Fourteen out of 36 units have been vacated.” The Villager was unable to reach Toledano directly for comment. However, in a statement reprinted in a Nov. 21 Cooper Square Committee press release, he said, “I’ve come to know my tenants, and they’re wonderful people whom we’ve developed good relationships with as human beings.”
Photo by Amy Russo
A view through a cour tyard window of an alleged “dumpster apar tment” piled with junk at 325 E. 12th St. Tenants charge that these apar tments are never cleared out. TheVillager.com
Anti-fur frenzy at new Soho Canada Goose store
Photos by Tequila Minsky
Angry animal-rights activists swarmed the opening of Canada Goose’s new Soho store on Thurs., Nov. 17, urging people to “shop vegan.” The store, at 101 Wooster St., sells super-warm down jackets sporting coyote fur-trimmed hoods, running from $750 to $1,000. But People for Ethical Treatment of Animals members said the coyotes are inhumanely caught in
steel-jawed traps and then brutally killed. Canada Goose countered that it only buys fox fur from licensed North American trappers and only uses down that is a byproduct of poultry farming, not from live-plucked birds. In addition to noisily picketing the store, the PETA protesters even pursued some of the shoppers down the street to their taxis.
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December 1, 2016
Union Square rally against evictions...in Tibet
GLOBAL VILLAGE By Bill Weinberg
top the forced evictions! Stop the demolitions!” That’s what was repeatedly chanted, and what the big banner read, at the spirited rally of some 200 at Union Square the evening of Wed., Oct. 19. But this wasn’t about the depredations of dirty New York landlords or saving historic East Village buildings from being razed to make way for a luxury hotel. The large type above these demands on the banner read: “Stand With Larung Gar.” Larung Gar is the world’s largest Buddhist sanctuary, in a valley in the traditional region of Tibet — although today officially in the Chinese province of Sichuan. At the rally, activists stood with painted cardboard cut-outs representing the monastery or Buddhist academy there, and smaller outlying buildings. Other cutouts represented a bulldozer and truck-mounted wrecking ball, both “driven” by activists wearing People’s Liberation Army uniforms. Sitting below the display were two monks in traditional robes, Tibetan flags draped across their shoulders. Protest organizer Urgyen Badheytsang, who just moved here from Toronto to work in the Students for a Free Tibet office on 14th St., related some of the history to me. The community was founded in the 1980s, when post-Mao China started to loosen up, by the lama Jigme Phuntsok, dedicated to preserving and reviving the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It rapidly grew, with some 10,000 small cabins today lining the valley walls. These are what the Chinese government is now demolishing, claiming safety and overcrowding concerns. But Badheytsang doesn’t buy it. “It is political,” he said. “China fears the growing influence of Larung Gar.” Founder Phuntsok died shortly after the first demolitions and evictions at Larung Gar, 15 years ago. But now China’s authorities are proposing to demolish 5,000 homes at the site — fully half of the cabins. Residents are being offered cash compensation if they leave voluntarily, but few have taken the bait. There have been more than 500 demolitions this year. On July 20, a nun at Larung Gar named Rinzin Dolma hanged herself, leaving a statement saying she could not bear to witness the destruction of the sanctuary. Since then, two more nuns have taken their lives in protest of the demolitions. And there may have been uglier methods still. Two years ago, a mysterious blaze badly damaged several structures at Larung Gar — amid a wave of apparent arson attacks on monasteries across the Tibetan region. “China is guilty of genocide” and “Stop the genocide in Tibet” were other slogans on signs at the rally. Another read: “China: Stop forcing Tibetan nomads off their lands” — a reference to the forcible resettlement of traditional nomads in Tibet and Inner Mongolia, and the reduction of their ancestral grazing pastures. Speakers also mentioned destruction of Tibetan lands by mining and hydroelectric projects. While protests for Larung Gar were registered in cities around the world that day — from Tokyo and Toronto to Santiago and Dharamsala, India, seat of the Tibetan exile government — Badheytsang attached special importance to New York. “China is coming to New York for the U.N. Human Rights Council vote this month,” he said. China, Russia,
December 1, 2016
Photo by Jane Stein
During the protest for Larung Gar last month in Union Square, activists por traying Chinese demolition machines symbolically threatened to destroy the Buddhist enclave as a senior woman pleaded with them to stop.
Saudi Arabia and Cuba all currently sit on the council, and are all up for another term. “China does not deserve to be on the Human Rights Council,” Badheytsang said. “It’s the perfect case of the fox guarding the chicken coop.” But some expressed skepticism about international intentions, even among nations that have supported the Tibetan cause. Ngawang Tharchin — like many at the rally, born in Nepal to a family of Tibetan refugees — now lives in Queens, and is general secretary of Dokham Chushi Gangdruk U.S.A. That’s the organization of veterans of the 1960s Tibetan armed resistance movement, in which his father fought. While he emphasized the nonviolent nature of the current struggle, he expressed pride at this legacy. And while he did admit the ’60s resistance movement received aid from the C.I.A., his speech to the rally contained a warning about U.S. motives. “The [U.S.] government has not genuinely supported our issue,” Tharchin said. “In fact, we know we have been used in the past and they continue to use our issue as a play card whenever there is political and economic disagreement with China — which is not sending a good message to the Tibetan people who have struggled for their homeland for more than five decades... .” Another speaker was Jenny Wang — representing New York’s Taiwanese activist community. A member of the Keep Taiwan Free group that holds annual rallies for Taiwan to be admitted to the United Nations as an independent country, Wang noted the so-called “three ‘T’’s” that are forbidden topics in China: Tibet, Taiwan and the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989. Wang told the crowd that activists must have their own three forbidden ‘T’’s: “We never get tired, we will never be timid, and we are not afraid of time. We will keep fighting as long as it takes.” When I asked her why she, as a Taiwanese, joined with a Tibetan rally, Wang responded, “We have the same goal of self-determination. Enough is enough.” And while I heard one participant in the crowd ex-
press support for Donald Trump as a “strong leader who could stand up to China,” this was by no means the majority position. When I asked attendee Kunsang Palmo why New Yorkers should be concerned with Larung Gar, she tied her activism on behalf of the sanctuary with her sense of dignity as an Asian immigrant in Trump’s America. “Maybe you are legal, you are privileged, you don’t have to worry about hearing xenophobic comments on the street,” she said. “But Trump has made all that much more visible. It is a similar atmosphere faced by Tibetans and protesters in China.”
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A clean sweep: A new vision for neater streets By Corey Johnson
early every day, I see garbage cans overflowing throughout my district in neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, Chelsea or Hellâ€™s Kitchen. Just as often, I hear from frustrated constituents who express a growing sense that our city is failing in its duty to simply keep the streets clean. On weekends, these problems only seem to grow worse. When we cannot keep our public spaces clean, it instills a sense that our city is â€œin over its headâ€? when it comes to performing basic functions. Sanitation is one of those crucial municipal issues that affects both quality of life and public health. In the greatest city in the world, we have to do better. The Third City Council District â€” which spans Manhattanâ€™s West Side from roughly Canal St. to Columbus Circle â€” is in a unique position when it comes to sanitation. While our residential population is about 170,000 people, we have a daytime population that often exceeds 1.3 million people. As home to Times Square, the High Line, the Whitney Museum, the Theater District, the Garment District and so much more, we have a lot of pedestrians on our streets every day.
That means a lot of waste to clean up â€” roughly 210 tons per year, to be specific. The men and women of the Department of Sanitation of New York perform difficult work every day with finite resources, and they do an outstanding job. But with burgeoning tourism, a rising population and countless weekday office workers, the sanitation demands of my district are too great for D.S.N.Y. to handle alone. Since taking office in 2014, Iâ€™ve been diligently seeking new ways to improve our garbage-collection services. Iâ€™ve funded the installation of 90 new large wastebaskets around the district, with 22 more on the way. And each year, Iâ€™ve allocated significant funding to D.S.N.Y. for additional garbage collection. But more has to be done. Thatâ€™s why this year, weâ€™ll be taking a bold new approach in the district. Iâ€™ve allocated funding from the 2017 budget to hire the Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless (ACE), a nonprofit organization, to provide comprehensive cleaning services to our neighborhoods. ACE is a truly inspirational organization, with a mission to help home-
What do you want the world to bring into 2017 ?
less New Yorkers get back on their feet through employment training and job opportunities. To date, ACE has helped more than 2,500 homeless New Yorkers find full-time jobs and start new lives. Whatâ€™s more, ACE knows how to get the job done. Weâ€™ve already seen them do an outstanding job at several parks and corridors in our district, and thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m confident that they will handle this expanded role with diligence and excellence. As of Thurs., Nov. 3, we have three full-time ACE employees on our streets 40 hours per week, all 52 weeks of the year. Theyâ€™ll be emptying and bagging full garbage baskets, sweeping sidewalks, and doing so much of the tough work that it takes to keep our streets clean. While theyâ€™re starting off on particularly high-volume corridors like Christopher St. in the Village, and Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Aves. in Chelsea and Hellâ€™s Kitchen, theyâ€™ve offered to be flexible to meet our greatest needs on any given week. Individual business owners and building managers can also get involved by joining the Adopt-a-Basket program, in which D.S.N.Y. gives residents and businesses the tools they need to supervise the wastebas-
ket on their corner and ensure that it remains tidy. Call 311 or my office if youâ€™d like to join this vital community program â€” itâ€™s a great way to be part of the solution. Of course, nothing can replace the amazing employees of D.S.N.Y., who will continue to service our neighborhoods, as well. To further support their efforts, I have allocated $20,000 for additional mechanical-broom service (street-sweeper trucks) and $20,000 for Manual Litter Patrol, a D.S.N.Y. initiative that focuses extra attention to highvolume areas in need of greater services. At the end of the day, results are all that matter. I expect these solutions to make a major improvement on our streets. But I always want to hear from you, the people who live and work in the district, to make sure that our city is living up to the highest standards of services. If you see a sanitation issue that needs to be resolved promptly, please let me know. You can contact my office by calling 212-564-7757 or by email at District3@council.nyc.gov. See you around the neighborhood! Johnson is Third District
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December 1, 2016
Editorial Letters to the Editor Laughable left-wing pap Shell games This insane presidential election is over — well, mostly. Recounts are going on, but are unlikely to change the final outcome, according to experts. And many hope the Electoral College will snub Donald Trump as unsuitable to be president. He surely is — but again, it’s a long shot. Meanwhile, the election knocked many important stories off the front pages, including, notably, the scrutiny that Mayor Bill de Blasio has been under on a number of fronts. Specifically, these include two stories in The Villager’s coverage area: Rivington House and the Elizabeth St. Garden. What both of these issues share is that City Hall made decisions on essential resources without notifying the community. De Blasio ran for election on a promise of increasing bottom-up grassroots involvement in community planning — but both of these instances flout that pledge. A plan to build affordable senior housing on the Elizabeth St. Garden was quietly tacked onto the SPURA (Seward Park Urban Renewal Area) development project three years ago by Councilmember Margaret Chin. As is well known, earlier in her career, Chin worked in affordable housing and is a fierce advocate for it. However, Community Board 2 was never consulted about this scheme until after the fact. On the other hand, the main SPURA plan went through a lengthy, painstaking public review process over many meetings at Community Board 3, to ensure there was buy-in from all stakeholders. Yet, after becoming mayor, De Blasio quietly O.K.’d the plan for housing on the Elizabeth St. Garden. After the community discovered that this property was, in fact, city-owned, however, droves of volunteers championed it and have turned it into a thriving and vital open space. From local senior citizens to Chinatown schoolkid gardeners to local “wiseguy” TV and movie actors, simply everyone loves this garden. Plus, C.B. 2 has identified an alternative site where 400 percent more units could be built. In short, this whole process has really been a sham from Day One. Chin and City Hall did a disgraceful end run around the community. It’s hard to recall such an egregious flouting of the public process. And C.B. 2 has offered a solution far better than the current plan. The situation is maddening and frustrating, unfair and undemocratic. To top it off, the de Blasio administration then announced it was “keeping its commitment” to C.B. 2 to redevelop the alternative site as a park — plus, hopes to build some affordable housing there, too. So the already-existing green open space that everyone wants to keep at Elizabeth St. would be shifted to a far worse spot for green space at Hudson St. (Since it covers a water-shaft site over the Third City Water Tunnel, large trees couldn’t even be planted there.) As for the Rivington House fiasco, if city officials who testified during a lengthy City Council oversight hearing in October are to be believed, it merely fell into the city’s bureaucratic black hole. In short, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services unthinkingly lifted deed restrictions for nonprofit healthcare use, clearing the way for this valuable resource — an AIDS hospice, essentially, a nursing home — to be sold off for private market-rate
To The Editor: Re “Electors must dump Donald Trump or we’re doomed” (Global Village, Bill Weinberg, Dec. 24): I read Weinberg’s essay....pathetic, ridiculous, mindless. That you folks give it so much space tells me you have nothing better to fill the paper. Ought not it be thought that someone might support Donald? Would that be so painful to publish something that justifies Trump’s win? There is much out there. Weinberg is an old lefty without being able to think. It’s laughable and not too sad. I am still laughing that Trump won, and Clinton is now forgotten, for all practical purposes. Amusing, this life. Bert Zackim
It’s a little late now... To The Editor: Re “Revolted New Yorkers are in open revolt vs. Trump” (news article, Nov. 17): Too bad all these people did not show up in Cleveland to join me in protesting Trump at the Republican National Convention. ... A little late now. Also, too bad that the Democratic Party screwed Bernie Sanders and pushed Hillary Clinton when she clearly has a boatload of baggage. Even though Clinton won the popular vote, her campaign strategy of spending the summer with high-profile bigmoney donors and not targeting the swing states until too late put Trump in the White House. Meanwhile, President-elect Donald Trump, whose home is located in Trump Tower, in Midtown Manhattan, seems to have no concern that his continued use of that location for his transition is causing massive security and crowd control problems for the City of New York, Homeland Security and the Secret Service. He said he wanted to cut back on government spending during his campaign. Now, he seems not to care about the security costs that are being incurred by his use of the Trump Tower location, as well as the costs to businesses in the area and the problems he is causing to others who live in Trump Tower, whom he made profits off of when they bought expensive apartments from him.
Simply put, he should move to another location as soon as possible and do everyone a big favor and cut down on unnecessary government spending because of his apparent lack of concern for the taxpayers. John Penley
Burned up over Hell Square To The Editor: Re “There’s a reason they call it Hell Square” (Clayton, by Clayton Patterson, Nov. 17): Clayton Patterson has lived through the finest of times and the most despicable of times. These are the despicable ones. The whole city is a wealthy trust-fund vacuum of greed and realty expansion. What doubly hurts is to see entire communities of artists, writers, dancers, musicians, theater folks and activists torn up at the roots and driven out of the city. Their homes then become the overpriced condo nests of imbecilic trust-fund brats and Internet airheads who spend the whole week economically raping the city and pour into Clayton’s neighborhood after hours to get vomiting drunk and cavort through the streets like Nazi brownshirts on holiday. What Clayton is saying is that the erosion of the quality of life, its denigration into beer hall thuggishness and blockheaded drunkenness, goes hand in hand with the decline of our cities into stomping grounds for emaciated Miley Cyrus lookalikes and Liam Hemsworth clones. What he’s saying is that the brainless and illiterate slumming biz bros who march into his neighborhood like they own it, and defile it with their blood, semen, puke, blood, urine, voices, faces and money, are invaders, intruders, who have no right or reason to be there. What Clayton is saying is: The ship is burning, it’s going down and none of you, not a single one, knows how to swim. Alan Kaufman E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 212229-2790 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.
Time to clean house!
EditoriaL continued on p. 21
December 1, 2016
Some presidents who really did make America great
TALKING POINT By Harry Pincus
n Thurs., Oct. 20, 1960, I dragged my mother up to Eastern Parkway to meet John F. Kennedy. The scene looked like a Hollywood premiere, with klieg lights and a platform, and banners of all of the great Democrats. Eleanor Roosevelt was there, and Mayor Robert Wagner, Averell Harriman and even old former Governor Herbert Lehman. They were flesh and blood back then, just people, like the thousands of us who stood freezing outside Dubrow’s Cafeteria, hoping to get a glimpse of the next president. But the motorcade was late, and there was school the next day. I wept bitterly as my mother dragged me back from Crown Heights, down the cold and empty avenue to our little three-and-a-halfroom Brooklyn apartment. After a few blocks, we saw some lights and a caravan wending its way up Utica Ave. An open car carried the next president, perched atop the back seat, enormous, bronzed and glowing. There had not been a soul for blocks; only my mother, Blanche, and I were there as a welcoming committee. John F. Kennedy loved kids. I think he loved people. I ran up to his car, jumping up and down, and his enormous smile lit up the cold night. He laughed and reached out to me, and his eyes touched me with a story of pain, and joy, and hope. His eyes seemed to tell me that I could do anything, as long as it was the right thing. Kennedy had inherited great wealth as a child, yet he fought to serve in the military. The son of one of America’s richest men was assigned to command a small plywood PT boat in the middle of the Pacific with a working-class crew. When the boat was rammed and shattered by a Japanese destroyer, Lieutenant Kennedy placed a torn life-jacket strap in his mouth, tied the other end around a gravely wounded seaman, and towed him three miles through the Pacific to a deserted island, thus saving his life. Kennedy injured his already brittle back, and he suffered. He also had colitis and would later be diagnosed with Addison’s disease. He was told that he could never enter politics because he was too sick to campaign in a working-class district with flights of wooden stairs. But Kennedy wore a brace, and laboriously pulled himself up every flight, to show the working-class constituents that he was going to be working for them. TheVillager.com
Illustration by Harry Pincus
In wishful thinking, the author drew this illustation before the recent election, depicting two of our greatest American presidents, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, dumping Donald Trump in the trash. Alas, it was not meant to be.
J.F.K. laughed and reached out to me, and his eyes touched me. When President Kennedy discovered newly constructed nuclear missile sites in Cuba, the world came closer to annihilation than we knew. On a dark Saturday, during the crisis, a U2 spy plane was shot down over the island nation and an emergency cabinet meeting was called. The takedown of a U2 was supposed to require a retaliatory attack, and cold warriors such as General Curtis (“Bomb ’em back to the Stone Age”) LeMay sat around the president’s table and urged action. The tape recordings of that fateful Saturday were released only a few years ago, and it’s chilling to hear virtually every one of the president’s men advise war.
When they had gone around the cabinet table, it was time for the young president to announce his decision. There was a long silence. “Let’s go to dinner,” said John F. Kennedy, thus saving the world from nuclear annihilation. When the crisis was finally over, Nikita Khrushchev, who had survived the Russian Revolution, decades of Stalin, gulags, purges, World War II and the siege of Kiev, wrote a letter to the young president. Khrushchev signed it, “With Respect.” Before Kennedy, the president was an old man who had led the greatest military invasion in history. He liberated the concentration camps, and warned us about a great military industrial complex. “War is mankind’s most tragic and stupid folly,” Dwight D. Eisenhower said. “To seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men.” My parents told me about a president who could not walk, but led the nation out of a Great Depression and through a world war. This president was about to speak at a Democratic Convention, when he fell on his face and into a puddle of someone’s beer. But Franklin Del-
ano Roosevelt rose to survey a troubled world, and inform the convention, and the nation, that they indeed had a “rendezvous with destiny.” Ronald Reagan was the son of a small town alcoholic. He went to Chicago and somehow broadcast baseball games from a telegraph ticker. In Hollywood during the Great Depression, he “held [his] own with Errol Flynn and the Duke,” at least until his boyish charm faded, and he had to find another job. He became a union head, and when the winds changed again, he became a Republican. He learned to put rouge on his cheeks and make a good speech. But all the while, he had to work for bosses, and he had to work his way up. I didn’t vote for Reagan, but he had learned a few things by the time he met with Mikhail Gorbachev, because the two came to respect each other, and they made peace. These presidents all were flawed. Roosevelt returned a ship full of Jewish refugees to Hitler. Eisenhower did little for civil rights. Reagan broke the unions and dismantled the social safety net built by Roosevelt. Kennedy was reckless, though I think he would not have pursued the Vietnam War. But they all had jobs before they were president, and they tried to summon our better angels. Some say that the new man can surround himself with great advisers, but Harry Truman said, “The buck stops here.” As I write this at Spring St. and Sixth Ave., a small candlelit procession of Trump protesters are making their way beneath my window, en route to the nearby Trump Soho Hotel. Meanwhile, millions are mourning the passing of Fidel Castro. “Fidel Castro is dead!” Trump tweeted. Then tweety bird pointedly trashed the aspirations of those millions, slamming Castro in a statement as a “brutal dictator.” We had just recently been elevated in the eyes of the world for electing a man who, as a child, was chased through the streets of a Third World country, because of the color of his skin. Barack Obama hardly knew his father, yet rose to become a wise and honorable world leader. They say that the new man doesn’t read his intelligence briefings. Surely, he will be tested by his peers, the other sensitive souls who sit atop mountains of skulls and deserts of bones. What will he say to Kim Jong-un in North Korea, Bashar al-Assad in Syria or Vladimir Putin in Russia? Will they accept his admiration and admit him to their club? Will he trade Estonia for a golf course concession? In case of a problem, he could always defer to his vice president, Mike Pence, who does read, or his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, the great writer. PerPresidents continued on p. 16 December 1, 2016
Some presidents who really did make America great presidents continued from p. 15
haps that renowned diplomat Rudolph Giuliani can be of assistance. Or that nice General Flynn. But what if they all disagree? Ignorance is not strength, and perhaps this strongman is but a vacuum in a vortex of ambitious advisers, endless crises and daunting complexities. Perhaps we should sympathize with someone who sits alone in the wee small hours, tweeting his anguish from atop a leather-upholstered throne / toilet seat beside goldplated faucets. A man who can only be the boss will now be a servant of fate. Certainly, if there is still a prayer within us, we should pray for him. We vote for a president who will inspire us, teach us, protect us and represent us, before the world, and in the eyes of our children. So perhaps we should blame ourselves for creating a culture of bicoastal elites, who would forget the earth, forget the poor, the handicapped, people of color and the crapped-out rust bucket. We make idiotic art, violent, hateful films and obscene fortunes built upon the hot air of worthless speculation. So why, we wonder, did they vote to bring our house down? Pincus is an award-winning illustrator and fine artist. He lives in Soho.
Illustration by Harry Pincus
According to the author, this never-before-published illustration of three past presidents was a riff on the three wise monkeys’ “Speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil.” What would Trump be? “Tweet no evil” or “Grab no evil?”
FREE FILM SERIES
BONHOEFFER: AGENT OF GRACE (2000 - 90 MINUTES) What is a moral person to do in a time of savage immorality? That question tormented Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German clergyman of great distinction who actively opposed Hitler and the Nazis. This dramatic documentary tells the story of the young German Lutheran theologian who resisted the Nazi regime. His convictions cost him his life.
Join us on Tuesday December 6th at 7pm. Church of the Ascension Parish Hall 12 West 11th Street NYC Admission free: donations appreciated GARY DORRIEN is an American theologian and Episcopal priest. He is the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York and Professor of Religion at Columbia University and he will lead us in post-film discussion.
PRESENTED BY ASCENSION OUTREACH, INC. AND RESISTANCE CINEMA All Films are shown free of charge (donations accepted)
December 1, 2016
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Stop shopping and start gathering Reverend Billy’s new show inspires ‘activists to their actions’
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
Puerto Rican-inflected woman’s voice at the beginning of the song,” said Reverend Billy of Figueroa. “About half of the Choir,” Reverend Billy noted, “is of European ethnicity, and half [those of] many ethnicities. We have African American mothers in the Choir, who really took us to the issue of being safe on your own street,” and inspired one of the numbers you’ll hear in this current run. Written by the group’s longtime director, Savitri D., after Reverend Billy and Choir members went to Ferguson, Missouri in response to the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown, the lyrics of “Get Home Safe” include:
arching as to war armed only with wit, a white suit and collar, and Elvis-meetsevangelist hair that’s every bit as enigmatic as the dome-topper sported by our president-elect, Reverend Billy is a preacher whose dire warnings about the high cost of putting profit before people no longer requires the leap of faith it did in 1998. That’s when he made his bones in the NYC performance art and activism scenes, with a series of Times Square sidewalk sermons admonishing “the imperialism of dreams that is marketed so brutally by Disney.” Back then, even the most sympathetic set of ears did not always process the urgency of a plea to resist consumerism’s siren call. The ensuing two decades, however, give credence to this comedic, fauxcleric’s vision of an American landscape scarred by sweatshop labor, corporatecreated toxins, species extinction, chain store domination, and an increasingly militarized police force. Vowed Reverend Billy of the coming year, “Our politics is of us, ceding from Trumpland. Religion, the industrial universities, the large institutions, they are not creating safety. They are not creating prosperity. They are not inviting involvement. We’ve been conned out of feeling we have power. And so, we’re feeling a return to the local, to what’s happening in our neighborhoods. We’re ‘magicalizing’ the things in the foreground: What’s up and down my street? What’s in my essential reach? Who can I talk to?” With the list of things that cry out for our attention longer than the list of toys a particularly greedy child has already mailed to Santa, a Sunday afternoon spent communing with the clapping, singing, swaying, satin-robed Stop Shopping Choir is a surefire way to charge your eco-friendly batteries and double down on your own resolve. “We inspire activists to their actions,” the right righteous Reverend assured, citing “Gather” (his current stage show) as a happening whose music and mood will “whip the audience TheVillager.com TheVillager.com
Working late on Thursday Trying to stay awake Parking lot is empty Get home safe Man down, brother down Man down, brother down PHOTO BY ANDY BLUE
No stone tablets, just tree trunks: Reverend Billy compels us to bend to our better nature; or, barring that, just nature.
to a froth. Then, we will all go out from Joe’s Pub and we will do that thing that is necessary to make change.” Having just returned from North Dakota, where the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Nov. 27 performance of “Gather” saw Reverend Billy delivering a message “devoted to the plight of New York City’s hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants.” Stop Shopping Choir bass section member Ravi Ragbir, who works on behalf of the New Sanctuary Coalition of NYC, led the event. The theme of Dec. 11’s show will be “Neighborhoods Vs. Gentrification.” On Dec. 18, the run goes out with a bang, via their “Great Winter Solstice Bash.” Like past Church pilgrimages to Appalachia, Iceland, and the Redwoods of the Northwest, spending time at Standing Rock “changed us,” said Reverend Billy, whose Dec. 4 sermon will focus on how “the transformation at Standing Rock — where it is impossible to make a distinction between prayer
and protest, between singing and seizing sacred land — needs to be carried to many towns and cities. Living inside their principles for a few days, then flying back from North Dakota, we feel the show isn’t so separate from our life. We must press up against militarized and consumerized citizens at all points.” To that end, Reverend Billy deploys his Choir like a Greek chorus that’s as nimble and theatrical on the picket line or the bank lobby as they are within the limited confines of a Downtown cabaret stage. “Yes, we’re a bunch of radicals who sing songs and we go to jail a lot,” Reverend Billy said, “but it’s also true that we have some great artists in our midst.” Their ever-changing roster ranges from 35-40 musicians/singers at any given performance, and currently includes Broadway’s Amber Gray (“Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812”) and soloist Gina Figueroa, winner of the 2016 Best R&B Song Grammy for co-writing “Really Love” with D’Angelo. “She’s that mysterious
Friday’s family dinner Don’t be late Can’t keep your mama waiting Get home safe Saturday’s the wedding Girls dressed up Watching out the window Get home safe And even Sunday There’s no resting Even Sunday Get home safe Man down, brother down Man down, brother down “Our singing and my ‘preaching’ comes out of the heartbreak we all feel,” Reverend Billy said, in an interview conducted before his trip to Standing Rock, and while still reeling from the disappointing election results. “It seems to me that a lot of us who have let ourselves drift into a sort of mushy liberal middle ground — we’re suddenly radical. Our distance from this right-wing government is profound. We’ve always been cheerleaders for direct action, but now we must console as we BILLY continued on p. 19 December December1,1,2016 2016
Just Do Art: Festive Holiday Edition BY SCOTT STIFFLER
TREE LIGHTING AND HOLIDAY SINGS IN WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK
What good is having a song in your heart if you keep going in and out on the words? With free lyric books at the ready, The Washington Square Association has you covered, as you cover beloved Yuletide carols and Hanukkah songs while accompanied by the Rob Susman Brass Quartet — at this pair of annual events taking place at the base of the iconic Washington Square Park Arch. The stage was set on Mon., Nov. 28, when a 45-foot Christmas tree was delivered in the extremely early morning hours, then anchored to the Arch for the season (it shines bright daily, between 4pm and 1am). On Wed., Dec. 7 at 6pm, those sparkling lights get their first go-round, when Santa Claus distributes a copious amount of candy canes, then leads the crowd in an illumination countdown. Brass Quartet and songbooks at the ready, you’ll croon familiar holiday tunes — then repeat that festive holiday ritual on Christmas Eve, when revelers will gather beneath the Arch at 5pm to see if they can get through their favorite song without the help of those handy songbooks. The Washington Square Park Arch is located at the foot of Fifth Ave., one block south of Eighth St. For info, call 212-252-3621 or visit washingtonsquarenyc.org.
WEST VILLAGE CHORALE AUDIENCE OPEN MESSIAH SING
A nonsectarian, independent chorus that’s been the voice of the people, for the people, and by the people since 1971, the West Village Chorale hosts concerts and community events from its base at that 1890 landmark, Judson Memorial Church. This month sees three of the Chorale’s most beloved annual happenings, starting with a Dec. 4 audience sing of Handel’s “Messiah.” Scores are provided, as is piano accompaniment and intermission refreshments. Come lend your voice to fill the atmospheric sanctuary as The Chorale’s new music director, Dr. Colin Britt, conducts. David Ralph, on piano, serves as the baroque “orchestra.” Other upcoming Chorale events: Dec. 11’s holiday concert and Dec. 17’s Village Caroling Walk. The Open Messiah Sing happens on Sun., Dec. 4, 4pm at Judson
December December1, 1,2016 2016
PHOTO BY KEN HOWARD
You lend your voice, and the Rob Susman Brass Quartet will give the gift of music — at Dec. 7 & 24 events beneath the Washington Square Park Arch.
Memorial Church (55 Washington Square South at Thompson St.). $15 general admission, $10 students. Visit westvillagechorale.org.
SANTA RESCUE SUNDAY AT THE NYC FIRE MUSEUM
How can a jolly old elf with the ability to circumnavigate the globe in one evening get stuck on the roof of the New York Fire Museum? There’s a good explanation for that, and an equally satisfactory solution to this unexpected predicament — when an FDNY ladder truck rescues Santa from his perch, then welcomes the him into the Museum, where kids can COURTESY NYC FIRE MUSEUM pose for photos and give their gift The NYC Fire Museum’s Dec. 4 Santa Rescue deploys a ladder truck to requests to The Man With All The help a stuck St. Nick. Toys. Don’t put on the kids on your “Naughty” list if that Beach Boys reference flies right past them with HOTSY TOTSY BURLESQUE the speed of a hypersonic sleigh; best to just let them enjoy the ex- TRIBUTES THE “STAR WARS perience (further heightened by Christmas carols and other season- HOLIDAY SPECIAL” A long time ago, in a far-out, far, far al selections performed indoors by away place known as the pop culture John Clacher’s Fire House Band). Sun., Dec. 4, 11:30am at the New landscape of 1970s America, confidence York City Fire Museum (278 Spring gained from the phenomenal box office St., btw. Hudson & Varick Sts.). The success of “Star Wars” got the best of outdoor rescue is free; admission its creator, George Lucas, who would PHOTO BY DAVIS FOULGER for the in-museum event is ($8 for almost immediately disavow the deba- The West Village Chorale kicks off adults, $5 for children. Reservations a series of events with their Dec. recommended: Visit nycfiremuseum. 4 Open Messiah Sing. JUST DO ART continued on p. 19 org or call 212-691-1303, x13. TheVillager.com TheVillager.com
interminably long scene that has very little purpose besides, perhaps, to fill time between cameos from Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill. To the rescue of this cultural curiosity comes Hotsy Totsy Burlesque, an ongoing series where skin meets satire, in the form of loving, libidofriendly tributes to everything from “Doctor Who” to “Harry Potter” (the first two months of 2017 will tackle The Muppets and the “Ladies of Disney,” respectively). As for December’s show, hosts Cherry Pitz and Handsome Brad present performances from Bimini Cricket, Brief Sweat, Fem Appeal, GoGo Incognito, Le Grand Chaton, and Rosie Cheeks, and Dolly Dagger — names that put the seemingly clever monikers of “BB-8” and “C-3PO” to shame! Thurs., Dec. 8, 8pm at The PHOTO BY BEN TRIVETT On Dec. 8, Cherry Pitz, pictured, and the Hotsty Slipper Room (167 Totsy Burlesque crew make a Death Star run at the Orchard St., corner of Stanton St.). For “Star Wars Holiday Special.” tickets ($10), visit slipperroom.com. Artist info at hotsytotsyburlesque.com. JUST DO ART continued from p. 18 cle that was the “Star Wars Holiday Special.” Long the stuff of VHS-only legend before the days of YouTube, the thoroughly bizarre Wookie-centric plot concerns efforts to properly celebrate “Life Day,” and includes a musical number from cantina owner Bea Arthur that’s actually pretty good, except for the part where it’s bookended by an
PEN PARENTIS LITERARY SALON HOLIDAY AUTHOR MINGLE Assure the kids that any bad behavior will be duly noted when Santa does a final pass on his “Naughty” list — then head to Lower Manhattan, with the confidence that your baby sitter
COURTESY ARCHIVE OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC
Secret Santas looking to score food for the soul, rejoice: ARChive of Contemporary Music’s holiday sale happens Dec. 3–18.
won’t have to seek treatment for night terrors. An evening of no worries and the chance to have intelligent conversation with a roomful of other likeminded creative types: That’s the promise of a Pen Parentis Salon, where inspiration to keep (or start) writing comes in the form of shop talk and readings from successful authors, who also excel at meeting the sort of ongoing deadlines associated with raising children. Before those readings and a panel discussion, sip wine and schmooze, as you enjoy music from award-winning jazz guitarist Wilson Montuori. This month’s featured authors are Eleni Gage, Christine Rice, and Elizabeth Isadora Gold. Moms and pops may be the target audience, but everyone is welcome. The series returns on Jan. 10, with an annual Poetry Night featuring Stella Padnos-Shea, Matthew Thorburn, and Christina Cook. Free. Tues., Dec. 13, 7–9:30pm, at Andaz Wall Street (75 Wall St., entrance at Water St., second floor). Light refreshments and wine provided by the venue. RSVP to this 21+ event is encouraged, via penparentis.org.calendar.
BILLY continued from p. 17
inspire. Sorrow and inspiration don’t always go together, but we have this to figure out with those who join us at Joe’s — because we must act against racism and violence against the Earth.” “Gather” is performed every Sunday through Dec. 18, 2pm, at Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette St., btw. Astor Pl. & E. Fourth St.). Tickets are $15; $12 with the discount code HONEYBEE; children’s tickets, $8. Food and spirits served; no minimum purchase. Visit joespub.publictheater.org for reservations, or call 212-967-7555. Get info on Church of Stop Shopping activities at revbilly.com. TheVillager.com TheVillager.com
THE ARChive OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC HOLIDAY RECORD & CD SALE
PHOTO BY SOPHIE MOLINS
Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Choir aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, having returned from a visit to Standing Rock — where efforts to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline are ongoing.
Sure, the event listing you’re about to read ran in a recent issue — but this is one of those rare occasions when we don’t mind sounding like a broken record. That’s because it’s almost the most wonderful time of the year — when lovers of LPs, groovy givers of global music, and Secret Santas of all stripes can sleigh (okay, slay) their appointed tasks at this one-stop shopping opportunity. Day in and day out, the busy elves at the ARChive of Contemporary Music nonprofit library
COURTESY PEN PARENTIS
Author Christine Rice, pictured, is a panelist and guest reader at the Dec. 13 Pen Parentis Literary Salon Holiday Author Mingle.
and research center labor to collect and preserve information on the popular music of all cultures and races throughout the world from 1950 to the present. Having amassed 3 million sound recordings so far, ARC’s noble Noah’s Arc mission inevitably wracks up duplicate copies from record companies and collectors — hence this holiday sale, one of two annual events where the general public has the run of the place. Up for grabs this December are over 30,000 items: pop, rock, jazz, blues, classical, and world music recordings; videos and DVDs; music books and magazines; picture discs; original vintage ’60s psychedelic posters from the Grande Ballroom in Detroit; and rare Fillmore East programs. Formats? They’ve got 78s, LPs, 45s, and CDs (new and out-of-print CDs start at $3; classical LPs start at $1!). Dec. 3–18, daily, 11am–6pm. At the ARChive of Contemporary Music ground floor office at 54 White St. (3 blocks south of Canal St., btw. Broadway & Church St.). Call 212226-6967 or visit arcmusic.org. December December1,1,2016 2016
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any lawful act or activity. Vil: 12/01 - 01/05/2017
December 1, 2016
ful purposes. any lawful activity. Vil: 11/24 - 12/29/2016 Vil: 11/24 - 12/29/2016
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Editorial continued from p. 14
redevelopment. In the process, the community was stripped of a key resource that had been promised to it through the original deed restriction on this beautiful former school building. During that October hearing, de Blasio announced that, to make up for this colossal bungle, the city would build a new senior housing development and healthcare facility on Pike St. â€” beneath the Manhattan Bridge, with its constant stream of subway trains thundering virtually overhead. The shifty process that allowed that deed-lifting and propertyflipping trickery is still under investigation by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, for one. Again, de Blasio responds with a sort of â€œshell gameâ€? response: Moving the community facility to another site, while
giving the better, existing property â€“ which overlooks a park, naturally â€” to a developer. Itâ€™s time to end these three-card Monte real estate scams. Stop swindling the community out of its resources. Donâ€™t make any more of these backroom deals out of the light of public review. Friends of Elizabeth St. Garden will be protesting outside 250 Broadway on Dec. 7. Neighbors to Save Rivington House plans a visioning session to let locals think about healthcare and nursing homes and what they mean to a community. Meanwhile, a stop-work order is still in effect at Rivington House. The election pushed these stories to the side â€” but that doesnâ€™t mean de Blasio, Chin and the developers are off the hook. Speaking of elections, de Blasio and Chin should consider how they are alienating voters with these two development projects. No question, it will come back to bite them at the polls.
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December 1, 2016
December 1, 2016
Baruch soccer star among city’s best
aniela Zirpolo, a Baruch College Campus High School senior, recently had the honor of being selected to play in the 2016 NYC Mayor’s Cup Soccer Championship on Nov. 20 at Belson Stadium, at St. John’s University. The 22 top senior girl soccer players from the New York City Public Schools Athletic League faced off against the top players from the Catholic school league to determine the best of Big Apple high school soccer. The P.S.A.L. players dominated, winning 4-0. Zirpolo, who is a forward, did not score, but played well. It was a great honor for Zirpolo, who turns 17 next month, to be recognized as one of the best soccer players in the city. She scored more than 100 goals during her high school career and as a team captain led Baruch to its first-ever P.S.A.L. soccer championship in 2015. In that season, she notched 50 goals, virtually carrying the team on her back. During her stellar four-year career with the Baruch varsity team, Zirpola, who lives in the Bronx, was awarded Rookie of the Year, team M.V.P. and M.S.G. Varsity 2015 New York City All-City Girls Team honorable mention. This summer she was selected to be a member of a P.S.AL. all-star team that represented New York City, which traveled to Spain for training and competition in Barcelona and Madrid. Her father, Carlo Zirpolo, said his daughter has a strong all-around game. “She has good ball skills and dribbling skills,” he said, “and she is quick.” He said that Daniela, who is also a talented basketball player, is still considering her options for college.
Daniela Zirpolo after the Mayor’s Cup Soccer Championship at St. John’s Universit y, holding the trophy given to the winning team.
KAWS courts cool, yet cause for concern
arlier this month, the city’s Parks Department and Nike unveiled a combination “art installation” / basketball courts renovation project in Sara D. Roosevelt Park on the Lower East Side. The park’s heavily used courts at Stanton and Forsyth Sts. have been spruced up by pop street artist KAWS a.k.a. Brian Donnelly. Nike’s commitment of $300,000 to the courts made the refurbishing and design possible. The ribboncutting ceremony included a youth basketball clinic, speakers and a basketball tournament. However, K Webster, a leading S.D.R. Park activist, said the community process behind the project was basically nonexistent. Plus, the invite to local community members to attend the opening event went out very late. “We thank the Parks Department for obtaining a newly painted basketball court,” Webster said. “Personally, I think it’s kind of pretty. We would have wished we had been asked in the first place about such a big change in a park that has a very active park coalition and a very reachable community board. As a courtesy? “We would have wished to have the neighborhood invited and not be, yet again, spectators outside the fence watching a rich corporation using a public park, privately,” Webster said. “And, yes, we know children were brought in to play, and that’s fun for them. Thank you. But somehow it’s not the same as asking a neighborhood if you can have a loud, glaringly lit,
Photo courtesy NYC Parks and Recreation
The K AWS-designed basketball cour ts in S.D.R. Park at Stanton and Forsy th Sts.
generators-running, private party in their front yard past the 9 p.m. permit. It changes everything about how it feels to be asked, to be considered, to be invited. “Again, plain courtesy, sign of respect, for the decades of labor the neighborhood donated to change this park from a drug-infested, pimp-owned place that the Parks Department wouldn’t even set foot in — to a place with pockets of utter beauty and joy? “Oh,” Webster added, “and being sent an e-mail two hours before the event doesn’t count.” December 1, 2016
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