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ne of the East Villageâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most demonized landlords, Raphael Toledano, reportedly wants to unload 13 of his buildings in the neighborhood for a sky-high $160 million. A little more than a year ago, however, he told The Villager, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I am determined to become a part of the

fabric of the neighborhood.â&#x20AC;? The Real Deal reported on Dec. 1 that Toledano is looking to sell the buildings. However, back in June, The Villagerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Scoopyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Notebook was, in fact, the first to get the scoop. Back then, a local real estate source tipped off the newspaper that word on the JEB;:7DEXdci^cjZYdcf$*

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evelopers revealed their plan for two large mixed-use towers at 260 South St. between Jefferson St. and Frank T. Modica Way on Monday. The towers will create more than 1 million square feet of space next to the twin 26-story Lands End II Section 8 housing towers, which developers L+M Development Partners and CIM Group purchased in 2013. There will be around 1,350 apartments between the new pair of towers, and up to 338

of them will be reserved for low-income and middle-income families through a housing lottery, according to an L+M press release. L+M also said â&#x20AC;&#x153;some senior housing is anticipated.â&#x20AC;? The developers also agreed to extend the affordable housing contract for the 490 apartments at Landâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s End II for 40 years. As currently deigned, the new towers are more than twice the height of the existing Landâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s End II buildings. They will be 798 feet and 728 feet in height and likely IKF;HJ7BBIXdci^cjZYdcf$'&


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learing the way for a massive development project that will transform Hudson Square, plus help rescue the Lower West

Sideâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s beloved â&#x20AC;&#x153;family sports pier,â&#x20AC;? Monday, the City Councilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Zoning Subcommittee voted to approve both rezoning the St. Johnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Center site for residential use and transferring 200,000 square feet of Pier 40 air rights into

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the new megaproject. Pier 40, in turn, will get an infusion of $100 million for the air rights, with the cash being used to shore up the 15-acre W. Houston St.

Take a walk through our Cookie Wonderland and fill a box with your favorites from over fifty varieties of homemade confections. There are two sizes of boxes: $15 & $35



would occupy or the very name of the park itself. There was a far, far big problem now — namely, the tweeter in chief, Donald Trump. Speakers included Christopher Tepper and Paul Kelterborn, the two young planners who co-founded the memorial project, as well as Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, Councilmember Corey Johnson, state Senator Brad Hoylman and Borough President

Day, last Thursday, a crowd of several hundred gathered on Greenwich Ave. at Sixth Ave. for the dedication of the New York City AIDS Memorial. Others stood inside the adjacent small park with the long-winded name, the New York City AIDS Memorial Park at St. Vincent’s Triangle. Long forgotten, it seemed, was the acrimony over how much of the former St. Vincent’s Triangle the memorial

Gale Brewer, as well as Alphonso David, counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who had been expected but couldn’t make it. David reaffirmed Cuomo’s pledge to “end AIDS by 2020.” Cuomo is the only U.S. governor to promise that. “By testing, treatment and new drugs, we will end AIDS in New York,” David declared. “We will end AIDS in New York regardless of who’s in the White House.” Stringer said he was proud to have put up the first $1 million for the memorial, which features interlocking triangles and was crafted in Argentina. “Here, in the West Village, the heart of our country’s L.G.B.T. movement, this symbol will stand true,” the Beep said. “At the national level, we are seeing people appointed at the highest levels who want to roll back the gains of the last decade. Be loud and proud,” Stringer urged the crowd, “because silence equals death.” Johnson spoke about the fateful day in October 2004 when he found out, at

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December 8, 2016

age 22, that he was H.I.V. positive. Johnson was born in 1982, when New York was in the grip of the plague. In all, 100,000 in the Big Apple have died from the disease. “I and others of my generation know that we are standing on the shoulders of giants,” he said. “St. Vincent’s deserves to be recognized today,” he added, of the city’s groundbreaking and courageous first AIDS ward. “One day, we will live in a future without H.I.V. and AIDS,” he said. “So let this memorial remind us that every man, woman and child who died had value, and also let us remember the heroes that ran to help them — not away. ... And now, with this illegitimate man being president, who we will not normalize, we will continue to take care of ourselves...Muslims, L.G.B.T. people, women, Jewish people... .” The Gay Men’s Chorus closed out the event with some beautifully haunting singing. The ceremony began and ended with the reading of names of the 100,000 victims (well, at least some of them), in a sort of overlapping sonic collage by three readers as the names scrolled on screens. Some of them just had first names, “Lefty from 125th St.,” “Tito”...they kept on reading as the police gathered and stacked up the chairs — clack! clack! — on the chilly, now-empty avenue. The memorial has been enclosed again for some finishing touches before opening to the public.


Sister Lotti Da of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, from Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, touched the water in the small circular fountain underneath the AIDS Memorial trellis at the dedication last week. One par t of the memorial that is a little challenging is the ground treatment, which is a pastiche of phrases from Walt Whitman’s famous poem “Song of Myself.” Basically, the ground etching is so densely packed with phrases that it’s completely impossible to read — or even look at for long! But Lotti Da, looking on the bright side, said he was now inspired to go home and actually read the poem. So that’s something!

Twitter devotee Donald Trump, Art Downtown tweeted: “Lon[e]liness under a dictatorship was the average citizen’s experience in George Orwell’s novel, 1984. To usurp Trump, fall in love.” Hey, it’s good advice for anytime — but especially now.



Last week The Real Deal reported that Raphael Toledano is trying to sell a portfolio of 13 of his East Village buildings. However, Scoopy actually broke the news on this back in June. “The word is he’s in trouble with his lenders,” our source told us then. “It’s Madison Equities, they’re very aggressive. They had him do the dirty work — work over the tenants. It’s the whole Tabak portfolio — they’re marketing it for $150 million. This is real. It’s an off-market deal. It’s being peddled quietly — not on the open market. The real story is Raphael Toldeano’s short reign of terror may be about to end.” The Real Deal reported that the cocky young mogul is asking for $160 million. O.K., so we were off by $10 million — but you read about it in Scoopy first!

Senator says ballot selfies click with today’s voters BY PATRICK ROCCHIO

is Underway!

Time is Running Out.


bill to be introduced shortly by two Manhattan legislators may allow voters to take selfies of their ballots. The legislation, to be introduced next month by state Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, would permit picture taking in the voting booth, something that is currently prohibited in New York State. Hoylman — whose district stretches from Hudson Square to the East Village and Upper West Side — said the idea for the legislation came from photos of celebrities’ ballots that were circulated on social media on Election Day. Specifically, concerns arose about a selfie of singer Justin Timberlake voting in Tennessee — one of 18 states, along with New York, that ban such photos — said the senator. “The law in New York currently prohibits voters from taking photos of their ballots,” said Hoylman. He added that the law originated as a protection against employers pressuring or coercing employees to support certain political positions or candidates. With the advent of social media, the senator believes the regulation needs to be updated. “Technology has changed and social media is a way of a lot of us communicate,” Hoylman said. “The idea of employee coercion, I think, is an anachronism. Certainly, the bill that we are going to be introducing shortly is going to remove the prohibition against ballot photographs but maintain the protection against intimidation or coercion.” The senator believes that social media is a way to engage voters, especially younger voters, in the democratic process. Rosenthal agrees, saying that millennials are definitely using social media like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat for their communications. The assemblymember, who represents the Upper West Side, feels that posting pictures of ballots on social media could encourage discussion of politics and related issues. “First of all, so much of civic dialogue either starts or is present on social media,” Rosenthal noted. “That is increasingly how people discuss world and state events. “I thought that the prohibition of taking photos of the ballot was just a throwback to another time when there were different needs,” she added. She believes that if people want

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Bringing (ballot) selfies back: Justin Timberlake posted this photo of himself voting in Tennessee for the recent presidential election. The singer had flown from Los Angeles to Tennessee to vote early and posted the photo to encourage others to tr y early voting, which decreases lines at the polls on Election Day. Like Tennessee, New York State currently does not allow voter selfies. Unlike Tennessee, New York does not have early voting.

to advertise the fact that they voted, there is no need to stop them. Many people who are not knowledgeable of the law, though, are taking selfies of their ballots and posting them online currently. Rosenthal stated that the law against voting photography is 126 years old. She believes the bill can pass. Rosenthal’s colleague, Bronx Assemblymember Michael Benedetto, had a lukewarm reaction to the idea, though. He said his concern is that people posing for selfies while voting may bog down the process. “We are going to have people taking selfies while they vote, which will slow things down even more,” Benedetto predicted. “While I don’t object to the bill,” he said, “I am a little unsettled as to what the consequences may be.”

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December 8, 2016


Toledano set to sell 13 E.V. buildings 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











Member of the New York Member of the National Press Association Newspaper Association

The Villager (USPS 578930) ISSN 00426202 is published every week by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th fl oor Brooklyn, NY 11201 (212) 229-1890. Periodicals Postage paid at New York, N.Y. Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $29 ($35 elsewhere). Single copy price at office and newsstands is $1. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2016 NYC Community Media LLC. PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR

The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for others errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue. Published by NYC Community Media, LLC One Metrotech North 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (718) 260-2500 • Fax: (212) 229-2790 On-line: E-mail: © 2016 NYC Community Media, LLC


December 8, 2016

TOLEDANO continued from p. 1

street was Toledano planned to sell his East Village real estate portfolio. As it turns out, he apparently is set to sell — but only about half of his East Village properties. Some of Toledano’s tenants will breathe a sigh of relief after enduring the strong-arm tactics he’s allegedly used to try to force folks out of their rent-regulated apartments. Living conditions in some of his buildings were so bad that tenants formed the Toledano Tenants Coalition to face him with a united front. Toledano settled for $1 million with tenants at one of his E. 13th St. buildings earlier this year after they sued him for allegedly harassing them. City health inspectors found lead dust in at least four of his buildings far exceeded the federal standards. In the past couple of weeks, he again made the pages of The Villager for failing to provide cooking gas to tenants at E. 12th St. buildings for the last six months. Toledano blamed the city for slowing down repairs with inspections — but then he temporarily slashed the rent, gave out stovetop burners and signed a legal agreement to get the gas back on by the end of January. Craig Smith and his family hope the young real estate mogul’s departure could mean an end to Smith’s ongoing litigation against Toledano. Smith charged that Toledano was illegally trying to evict them from their apartment at 233 E. Fifth St., one of the properties Toledano is shopping around. He sued after Toledano decided not to renew their lease, which is illegal if the apartment is rent-regulated, as Smith claims. Smith’s lawsuit is legally against the limited liability company that owns 233 E. Fifth St., so if Toledano’s successor continues the eviction, Smith could continue to sue. Smith said he’s unsure how it could play out. “There’s no way of knowing,” he said. “It could easily be worse or a better situation, we just don’t know. We’re neutral and we’ll see what happens. It’s living in a certain type of limbo.” Smith’s particular case boils


East Village tenants protested and marched on the Upper East Side Tuesday to call out predator y equit y lending in real estate, specifically t wo financial organizations that loaned Raphael Toldedano funding to buy buildings in the Downtown neighborhood.

down to whether or not the apartment became deregulated when he first rented it in 2003 and his previous landlord only increased the rent so much as allowed by rent-regulation laws. It definitely was legally rent-regulated before he moved in. But when Smith moved in, the monthly rent was above the $2,000 threshold at which point an apartment can legally be deregulated. However, the previous tenant never exceeded that threshold, which suggests the apartment must remain regulated until a tenant pays above the threshold and then moves out. It’s a common dispute and it’s only become more complicated as of last year when the rent-regulation rules were slightly modified. Previously, the only way for landlords legally to deregulate apartments that were close to the threshold was to spend a variable amount of money (based on a formula) on renovations that would justify a rent hike above the tipping point. But that changed last year, according to veteran tenant advocate Michael McKee. “If a tenant moves out,” McKee explained, “and the rent is anything below $2,700 a month — the new threshold for rent-regulated apartments — the landlord is required to re-rent it as rent-stabilized to the new tenant. And even if the landlord spends the money to get it up to the threshold, he would still have to rent it as rent-stabilized, and only when

that tenant moved out would he be able to deregulate.” Smith won the initial case in housing court in April. But Toledano appealed and they went back to appellate court in November. The parties are waiting for an unrelated lawsuit that could have bearing on their case to proceed before pushing on any further. Toledano bought 28 buildings in the East Village last year for $140 million through his Brookhill Properties company. Only $76 million went toward the 13 buildings he’s looking to sell, so a sale at his asking price would net him more than $80 million. But experts have said Toledano borrowed money at a high interest rate — that he’s “overleveraged” — so a chunk of that could go back toward paying off those debts. The lender likely gave Toledano the money with a “loan to own” mindset. In other words, if the borrower can’t pay back the money, then the lender just moves in and takes the property, an expert said. “If Toledano succeeds,” in flipping the properties, “they got a high rate of return, much higher than the prevailing rate. And if he loses, then they take the real estate. It’s a potential win in either direction,” said a source familiar with real estate in the area who requested anonymity. Toldedano’s Brookhill Properties did not comment on the sale. But Toledano himself penned a response to allegations of his misconduct in The

Villager in October 2015. In a talking point entitled, “The East Village is home; I want to improve it,” Toledano said he was in the community “for the right reasons” and that negative articles “do not paint an accurate picture of the effort” he made to improve conditions in his buildings. On Tues., Dec. 6, Toledano tenants and activists also called out the landlord’s lenders, Madison Realty Capital and Signature Bank, for their involvement in fi nancing his ill-fated East Village real estate spree. Dozens of area tenants and state Senator Brad Hoylman joined the Toledano Tenants Coalition, activist groups and local politicians in two protests on the Upper East Side outside the lenders’ headquarters. Accompanying them on their march between the two H.Q.’s was the Rude Mechanical Orchestra. “New York City’s affordable housing market has become increasingly diminished in recent years,” a press release for the protest said, “and many tenants have been victims of harassment by predatory equity landlords trying to force tenants out of their homes. Banks and non-bank lenders need to maintain scrupulous standards in all their lending. Without such standards, they aid and abet bad-acting landlords who make every effort to reap huge profits through decimating the city’s stock of affordable rent-stabilized housing.”

POLICE BLOTTER Justice for Gina! Police have made an arrest of a suspect who, on Sept. 27, made the mistake of allegedly trying to mug Gina Zuckerman, 91. The suspect knocked down the Village nonagenarian on Fifth Ave. around noon, grabbed the bag from the front of the elderly woman’s cart and dug her nails into the victim’s arm and hand. But the scrappy senior refused to release her satchel and the wannabe robber fled. On Dec. 5, police reported that, pursuant to an investigation, Lillian Maduro, 49, of the Bronx, was arrested for second-degree robbery and assault. In recognition of Zuckerman’s bravery and love of the Village, on Oct. 27, state Senator Brad Hoylman presented her with a proclamation declaring it Gina Zuckerman Appreciation Day.

the men announced, “We’re going to rob you,” and they all then proceed to snatch Pop-Tarts and potato chips. The fast-food filchers also reportedly injured the arms and faces of two store workers. Dashawn Anderson, 18; Terragon Bryan, 18; Justin Cole, 18; and a 15year-old girl were arrested for felony robbery. The stolen treats were not recovered.

Meatpack attack A man told cops he was attacked at

the corner of Ninth Ave. and W. 13th St. on Sun., Dec. 4, at 4:15 a.m. The victim said he was walking down the street when a stranger punched him in the right side of the jaw, splitting his lip open. The victim was transported to Bellevue Hospital. Raheem Jacobs, 19, was arrested for misdemeanor assault.

Bank card bandit Police are looking for a man wanted in a series of four ATM robberies in October using stolen debit card information in Midtown, Chelsea and the East Village. On Tues., Oct. 4, at midnight, the suspect obtained the debit card information of a 37-year-old male victim to make multiple withdrawals totaling

$908 from a CVS ATM at 253 First Ave., at E. 15th St. The suspect is about age 25 to 35, 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall, with a light complexion, last seen wearing a blue coat, blue jeans, a designer shirt, black-rimmed eyeglasses and a darkcolored hat. 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,, or by texting them to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.

Emily Siegel and Lincoln Anderson

Dies in risky ride Police said that on Sat., Dec. 3, around 3:11 p.m., officers responded to a 911 call of a man underneath a Downtown F train at the W. Fourth St. subway station. He was unconscious and unresponsive with severe head trauma. E.M.S. pronounced him dead at the scene. The victim was identified as Quintin Watkins, 31, of DeKalb Ave., in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. According to a police source, witnesses at the subway station described what happened. “He threw his bookbag into a subway car,” the source said, “then stepped out of the car and got on the side of the train and tried to climb up the side. He tried to ride it — surf.” Watkins was struck by a pillar inside the subway tunnel.

Smooth swiper

Police said that on Thurs., Nov. 24, just after midnight, a woman was walking home after a night out, when a stranger approached her in front of 88 Perry St. and engaged her in conversation. The man then pulled her bag out of her hand and fled on foot. The bag contained her Lenovo laptop, passport, iPhone and credit cards. A week later, police arrested Anthony Thomas, 29, for felony grand larceny. Only the iPhone was recovered.

Snack pack A group of youths helped themselves to free snacks at Gourmet 157, at 157 Christopher St., between Greenwich and Washington Sts., last Friday night, according to police. Employees said that on Dec. 2, at 11:05 p.m., three men and a woman entered the store. One of

December 8, 2016


St. John’s be praised! Many perks in final plan PROJECT continued from p. 1

pier’s badly corroded steel support piles. As originally promised by the St. John’s site developers, the residential project will include nearly 500 units of affordable and senior affordable housing. The historic deal was brokered by City Councilmember Corey Johnson, whose district includes the Village and Chelsea, along with Pier 40 and the St. John’s site. The full City Council, in turn, will vote on the project on Thurs., Dec. 15, after which Mayor de Blasio is expected to sign off on it, formally completing the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure). Under the City Charter, a ULURP — a sevenmonth-long public-review process — is done for an application to change the city’s land use. The Hudson River Park Trust, the state-city authority that is building and operates the-long waterfront park, will vote to approve the airrights transfer at its board of directors meeting, also on Dec. 15. The 1.7-million-square-foot St. John’s project will stretch for three blocks, from Clarkson St. to Charlton St., between Greenwich St. and West St. The developer is St. John’s Partners, which includes the existing St. John’s building’s owners, Atlas Capital Group, LLC, and Westbrook Partners. Under the plan, the St. John’s Center —originally built as the High Line elevated railway’s southern terminal — will be razed and replaced with five buildings. Four of these will be residential and one commercial, possibly a hotel. The tallest building will rise 430 feet, and the smallest 240 feet. The project will include 1.3 million of residential space and 400,000 square feet of commercial space.

25% affordable There will be 1,586 residential units, 476 of them permanently affordable. Of that amount, 175 units will be for low-income seniors; the rest for low- and moderate-income families. Acting as the community’s point person, Councilmember Johnson worked to ensure that the fi nal deal includes many critical “wants” pushed for by Community Board 2, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and other key stakeholders. For starters, City Hall and the Trust have agreed that after this one transfer of 200,000 square feet of development rights, there will be no further such transfers from the park into any


December 8, 2016

garden closed to everyone — even the building’s own residents. A pedestrian pathway that will be opened up between the project’s middle block and southern block that was in the original plan also will now be widened to make it more inviting.

Opening Houston St.


The idea of keeping these old rail beds from the High Line has been axed under the plan for the St. John’s Center site that a key Cit y Council committee approved on Monday. Currently, these old tracks are contained within the existing three-block-long St. John’s Center building, which spans Houston St. and will be razed for the new project.

area of C.B. 2, which stretches from W. 14th St. to Canal St. In 2013, the New York State Legislature quietly approved an amendment to the Hudson River Park Act of 1998 allowing the Trust to sell the park’s unused development rights to sites on the other side of the West Side Highway. The St. John’s project will be the fi rst time this actually will be done.

‘This application got better and better.’ Corey Johnson

S. Vil. landmarking In addition, in connection with the St. John’s deal, the city has agreed to landmark the fi nal unprotected one-third of the South Village that G.V.S.H.P. proposed for designation 10 years ago. G.V.S.H.P. strategically used the St. John’s project as leverage, arguing that the new construction would ratchet up development pressure in the surrounding area. As a result, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will vote on Tues., Dec. 13, on whether to designate the fi nal third of the South Village Historic District, which L.P.C. has dubbed the Sullivan Thompson Historic District. Other new benefits that were secured include a 15,000-square-foot recreation center open to public use in the new project’s middle building. This space will be operated either by the Parks Department or a nonprofit group. Also, there is a guarantee that the new project will include a supermarket, which this area has long needed. Per the community’s wishes, the developer will not be allowed to have

big-box stores. Stores will be limited in size to 10,000 square feet, with the exception of the supermarket. The number of parking spaces underneath the new St. John’s project also has been reduced from 772 to 425.

City funding for pier In another benefit, the city has agreed to chip in $14 million for Pier 40 to help ensure the cherished pier’s long-term sustainability. Also the city’s Department of Transportation will conduct a $1.5 million traffic study of the Hudson Square area to determine how to alleviate chronic traffic and transportation issues and also those specific to the new St. John’s project. In addition, half of the foliagefi lled courtyard of the project’s middle block will now be open to public use. Before, this had been a viewing

And per C.B. 2’s wishes, there will no longer be any sort of bridge over W. Houston St. where the current St. John’s Center building spans the street. The developer’s initial plan called for removing much of the concrete from the existing bridge, leaving just the track beds of the original High Line elevated railway — as sort of a mini-version of the Hill Line park to the north — which would be part of a planted open space, accessible to the public. But the community board objected, feeling even that would cast shadows below and that they instead wanted to open up the street to the light. The board also had concerns that the bridge area, though purportedly public, wouldn’t really be used that way. As for another bridge, the developer will not be forced to build one over the highway to Pier 40, though C.B. 2 had strongly advocated for one. However, an additional crosswalk across the highway will be created.

Better senior homes Furthermore, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, in particular, had pushed to change the apartment configurations for the senior affordable housing building that will be on part of the project’s northern block, which will also sport a purely market-rate high-rise tower. Originally, the mix of the senior units had been about 75 percent studios and 25 percent one-bedrooms. That formula has now been fl ipped, so that three-quarters of the units will be one-bedrooms. Only a few units reportedly were lost with this change. In addition, the formula for determining eligibility for all of the affordable units based on area median income has been modified “to better reflect the community’s diversity.” On the other hand, elements that notably have not changed are the megaproject’s original design, height and bulk.

‘Array of benefits’ In his remarks before the City Council Zoning Subcommittee vote PROJECTS continued on p. 8



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 8, 2016


Affordable housing, no big-box, less parking, gym; PROJECT continued from p. 6

ULURP process

on Dec. 5, Johnson praised the deal. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have known from the beginning that this project has the potential to benefit New Yorkers extraordinarily,â&#x20AC;? Johnson said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;primarily through the creation of affordable housing and as a much-needed revenue generator for Pier 40, which is a truly beloved community resource in the West Village. Through this public review process, we have also been able to integrate other great community benefits into this project.â&#x20AC;? Johnson thanked C.B. 2 and his fellow local politicians for their input over the course of the seven-month ULURP that culminated in Mondayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fi nal agreement. He also thanked the developers â&#x20AC;&#x153;for being an active partner in maximizing the public benefits of the project.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;These are an extraordinary array of benefits,â&#x20AC;? Johnson said of the agreementâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s perks. â&#x20AC;&#x153;At each step along the way, this application got better and better, with more benefits for the community at each turn. I think we can now see a clear picture of how this development will integrate with the community, and how it can be a real asset to the West Side and to our city as a whole.â&#x20AC;?

As part of ULURP, C.B. 2 approved the St. Johnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s project and air-right transfer this past summer, though with many caveats. On the other hand, Borough President Gale Brewer then gave a thumbs down on the entire plan, declaring the developer could do much better in return for being allowed to build such a huge project. Both the boardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and Brewerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s recommendations, however, are advisory only. In September, the Department of City Planning, whose ULURP vote is binding, subsequently O.K.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;d the project, but nixed the bridge over W. Houston St. and big-box stores, while requiring at least seven street-level retail stores and a 10,000-square-foot gym to be shared by the public and building residents. In the deal reached by Johnson, the gymâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sizwas boosted by 5,000 square feet. Andrew Berman, executive director of G.V.S.H.P., said the deal was a win on many levels. He was especially grateful for the ban on future air-rights transfers from the park into C.B. 2 after the St. Johnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s deal. He said Madelyn Wils, the C.E.O. of the Hudson River Park Trust, has at times said the entire park may contain as


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A rendering of the nor thern end of the St. Johnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Par tners project, featuring a 43-stor y purely market-rate tower. This section of the project will also contain a building on Washington St. with about 175 affordable units for senior citizens.

much as 1.6 million square feet of unused development rights available for potential transfer across the highway. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are glad that the deal brokered

by Councilmember Johnson and passed by the City Councilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Zoning PROJECT continued on p. 9

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$100 mil for pier for air rights, plus $14 mil more PROJECT continued from p. 8

Subcommittee includes explicit limitations on future air-rights transfers for the Greenwich Village waterfront and adjacent neighborhoods, which otherwise could have been inundated with 1.5 million square feet of development from Hudson River Park ‘air rights’ transfers allowed by the state Legislature in 2013,” Berman said. “This will help protect this neighborhood from the massive overdevelopment which could have easily otherwise resulted.” Berman noted that the Trust, the city and the real estate industry all strongly opposed limiting additional air-rights transfers into C.B. 2. “Clearly, the South Village landmarking is part of this whole deal,” he added, “although it wasn’t part of the ULURP. G.V.S.H.P. would have opposed this application without the South Village landmarking.”

Some slam society Yet some are now blasting Berman and G.V.S.H.P. for not opposing the St. John’s project for its behemoth size. But the preservationist noted that if this plan had been rejected, an “as of right” (as in, allowed under

current zoning and not needing to go through ULURP) enormous commercial development — with hotels and / or office space — could still be built on the St. John’s site. Plus, the community would get none of the benefits negotiated for the current plan. “If this was rejected,” Berman said, “you would still get a huge building, 100 percent commercial, with no size limits on retail stores, no limits on future air-rights transfers into the neighborhood going forward, no South Village landmarking, no public space provided, no affordable housing and no money for repairs for Pier 40. “That’s a ‘head-in-the-sand’ approach,” he scoffed of those who say, “Do nothing,” and who oppose rezoning the St. John’s site to allow the planned mega-project.

‘Could be worse’ To those who argue that no one wants to build commercial projects that far west anyway, Berman retorted, “If you look in the vicinity of the site, there are hotels and commercial buildings being built left and right in Hudson Square and up and down the waterfront. To say that a commercial project could not be built here does not comport with

reality.” Terri Cude, the new chairperson of C.B. 2, praised Johnson, the community and C.B. 2 leaders for hashing out the deal. “The plan approved by the Council includes many important benefits for our community because Councilmember Corey Johnson was unrelenting in his effort to secure a result that responds to the concerns raised by Community Board 2,” Cude said. “The project approval requires the transfer of $100 million to secure the Pier 40 structure and the anticipated project will include hundreds of units of affordable housing. The project area is more open to public use and large-scale retail is restricted. It prevents future air-rights transfers from Hudson River Park to the Far West Village. A 15,000-square-foot public indoor recreation facility was added and Houston St. will be opened to the sky. A major traffic study will focus on pedestrian safety in the broad area affected by the Holland Tunnel and West St. We also look forward, at long last, to L.P.C. designation of the third phase of the South Village Historic District. “I would like to thank all the members of our Working Group who engaged the community in multiple

hearings and crafted the C.B. 2 response that resulted in this solid outcome, and especially to call out the leadership provided by Tobi Bergman and David Gruber.” Bergman chaired the community board until last month, and is a longtime local youth sports and parks advocate. Gruber, also a past C.B. 2 chairperson, headed the board’s Pier 40 Air Rights Transfer Working Group, which held an avalanche of public meetings about the project this past summer.

Long time coming A past president of the Greenwich Village Little League, Bergman is probably the one local activist most associated with, fi rst, getting playing fields on Pier 40, and then fighting to ensure that the fields and pier are preserved into the future. Efforts by the Trust over the past 15 years or so to commercially develop the pier to generate more revenue — both to repair the pier and fund the entire park — have all failed, as the massive pier has continued to erode. The fi rst doomed development process ended with the Trust putting “inPROJECT continued on p. 23










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Still more â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;supertallsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; coming to Two Bridges SUPERTALLS continued from p. 1

have 69 and 62 floors, respectively, depending on conversations with city planning officials, L+M said. The new skyscrapers will rise in a parking lot next to the existing towers and the developers plan to replace those spots in a new underground parking lot. The development is one of a handful of so-called â&#x20AC;&#x153;supertallâ&#x20AC;? tower projects already underway or gearing up along South St. Extell was the fi rst to break ground for its 80-story, 815-unit luxury tower just a block south toward the Manhattan Bridge; the buildingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s superstructure has already soared far above the top of the bridge. And JDS has a 77-story tower planned for a lot between the Extell project and the forthcoming towers at 260 South St. Some locals have vocally opposed the proliferation of these enormous towers, which many credit to a 2008 rezoning of the East Village and part of the Lower East Side. Those rezonings stopped high-rise development there, but pushed it to Chinatown and Two Bridges, according to local watchdog groups, including the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side. The developments will destroy the fabric of the neighborhood, even with their affordable

A proposed design â&#x20AC;&#x201D; showing the basic massing of the buildings â&#x20AC;&#x201D; for 260 South St. The view shows the cour t yard at bottom, looking south out over the East River.

components, according to coalition representative Sarah Ahn. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Honestly, the community feels it

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December 8, 2016



doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t matter how many affordable units there are,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;What weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve seen is thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no way to preserve affordable and low-income housing when you have luxury development happening in the backyard â&#x20AC;&#x201D; it will raise property taxes in this community. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to displace thousands to get those hundreds of units. Mathematically, it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t make sense.â&#x20AC;? Ahnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s group and others want the city to rezone around 100 blocks in Chinatown and the unprotected part of the Lower East Side, as well. A community-led rezoning plan to that effect was presented by the city. But the Department of City Planning rejected that proposal earlier this year, claiming it focused too much on capping new development, and did not further City Hallâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s goal of creating and preserving affordable housing. The activists, in turn, at the end of October, called for Mayor Bill de Blasioâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s resignation and for the city to adopt the rezoning. Rents increased in Chinatown and the Lower East Side by 50 percent between 1990 and 2014 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the second-highest increase in the city next to Williamsburg, according to New York Universityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. At least 10,000 Chinese residents in Chinatown have been displaced since 2000. The neighborhoodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s median income is around $32,500, which means many residents do not qualify for affordable housing under de Blasioâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s affordable housing plan, which is based on a percentage of area median income. Whether locals are supportive of

the 260 South St. project or not, Victor Papa, president of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, said they should get involved in the project and any input sessions the developers hold to further shape the plans. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You can disagree and oppose it, but thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not going to get us anywhere when the developer has the right to do this,â&#x20AC;? Papa said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So we better spend our time positively by trying to affect how that project will improve our community.â&#x20AC;? Architects have not completed the towersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; fi nal design, but the general concept is to create setbacks as the buildings rise â&#x20AC;&#x153;to create some visual interest.â&#x20AC;? The ground floors will be glass-enclosed and the distance between the towers above it will be no less than 60 feet to allow sunlight to reach the courtyard shared with the Lands End II buildings. Along with the towers, the development team will expand ground-floor retail on Cherry St. and plan for â&#x20AC;&#x153;new green spaces,â&#x20AC;? which could include renovating the courtyard, according to preliminary renderings. The open space on the property is â&#x20AC;&#x153;underutilized and dominated by concrete rather than grass and trees,â&#x20AC;? L+M said in a press release. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Early plans call for new seating areas, landscaping, separate ADA-compliant play area for toddlers and older kids, spaces for seniors and a lawn for passive and active recreation,â&#x20AC;? the press release read. The developers will hold two design workshops next year for residents to gather input for the redesign. The new towers will be above the 100-year floodplain. The developers also plan to build a flood-mitigation system to protect Lands End II, and have investigated â&#x20AC;&#x153;a network of earthen berms, flood walls and temporary flood protection gates.â&#x20AC;? The 260 South St. developers, the JDS group and Starrett Corporation â&#x20AC;&#x201D; which is planning a 60-story tower on South St. near Clinton St. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; will present their plans to the public on Thurs., Dec. 15, at Gouverneur Health, 227 Madison St. at 6 pm. L+M expects to begin construction in 2018 and complete the 260 South St. towers by 2021.

Airbnb drops ‘bad ads’ suit BY JACKSON CHEN


irbnb, the popular home-sharing company, recently settled its lawsuit against a new state law that penalizes those who advertise illegal listings of short-term residential rentals. New York State already had prohibited the rental of unoccupied apartments for periods of less than 30 days. But Governor Andrew Cuomo, on Oct. 21, approved a law stiffening those restrictions by fining advertisers of such rentals up to $7,500. Chief among the targets are people renting out their apartments through Airbnb, as well as landlords offering short-term stays in vacant apartments. Airbnb filed suit against Eric Schneiderman, the state’s attorney general, New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio, for alleged violations of the First Amendment and the Communications Decency Act, which frees Web site operators from liability for what users post on their sites. Airbnb dropped the lawsuit Dec. 2 after a settlement under which enforcement efforts would target the hosts who operate illegal hotels — both landlords and individual tenants — not the company hosting the listings Web site. Airbnb spokesperson Peter Schottenfels hailed the agreement. “We see this as a material step forward for our hosts,” he said, “with Airbnb and the city agreeing to ‘work cooperatively

on ways to address New York City’s permanent housing shortage.’ We look forward to using this as a basis to finding an approach that protects responsible New Yorkers while cracking down on illegal hotels that remove permanent housing off the market or create unsafe spaces.” Schottenfels noted that Airbnb’s “One Host, One Home,” started last month, restricts allowable hosts in the city to those renting only a portion of their home while they remain in residence, a limitation he said would help address New York’s housing shortage. It’s likely, however, that many hosts in the city rent out their apartments while they are not there. Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, sponsor of the new law, said it was written to punish those who frequently post multiple listings and short-term rentals of their unoccupied apartments and not the company’s Web site itself. “We crafted the bill so Airbnb would not be the target,” she said. “We weren’t going to try to slip something in against federal law. But I think [Airbnb] decided they were going to sue and was forced to make good on their promise.” Rosenthal urged Airbnb to better police its listings and hire a monitor to sweep the Web site daily. In the last year, Airbnb said it removed 3,400-plus listings from its site apparently posted by hosts with multiple listings.


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


Keeping New Yorkers in their homes prevents homelessness. Yet too many renters face eviction in housing court with no resources or tools to fight back. And they usually lose. That’s because 70% of tenants don’t have a lawyer, but 90% of landlords do. Join AARP New York in calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to support the Right to Counsel bill (Intro. 214-A), which would guarantee legal counsel for low-income tenants facing eviction in New York City Housing Court. Right to Counsel is fair and fiscally responsible. Preventing wrongful evictions can save taxpayers $320 million a year by keeping people in their homes and out of expensive homeless services.

Protect New Yorkers from Illegal Evictions

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December 8, 2016


Black theater greats cement their place in E.V. BY AMY RUSSO


egends of the black theater community gathered in the historic Theatre 80 St. Mark’s in the East Village last month to share memories and laughs as Woodie King, Jr. and Douglas Turner Ward were honored for their longstanding contributions to the arts. King, founding director of the New Federal Theatre, and Ward, founder of the Negro Ensemble Company, are pioneers in New York’s black theater scene and were invited to add their names and handprints to Theatre 80’s Sidewalk of Stars. The new bricks will be sharing the sidewalk with names of other theater luminaries, including Joan Crawford and Alan Cumming. Brandon Dirden, who has shared the Broadway stage as Martin Luther King, Jr. with Bryan Cranston’s Lyndon B. Johnson in “All the Way,” was one of the evening’s hosts. Dirden wistfully recalled his childhood in Houston and his father, whose home stocked a formidable collection of plays including those of the N.F.T. and N.E.C., about which he remembers writing his high school term paper. Like many who crossed paths with the N.E.C., Dirden was inspired by alumni like Denzel Washington, who he once saw on a bootleg VHS tape of “When the Chickens Come Home to Roost.” “It didn’t just change my life, it gave


Stars of black theater, from left, Brandon Dirden, Douglas Turner Ward, Woodie King, Jr. and Rubin Santiago-Hudson, at Theatre 80 St. Mark’s on Nov. 16.

me life,” Dirden recalled. “Throughout my matriculation in college and in graduate school, I always had one goal and that was to come to New York and to be a part of this lineage.”

While waiting for the cement to be prepared, impromptu entertainment was provided on stage by King, who gave a rundown of the history of black theater, gesturing at a board of black-and-white stills of Lynn Whitfield, Mary Alice and Robert Hooks. “These artists, whether they intended to or not, changed the face of the theater in New York,” he said. King, Ward and Hooks met in Detroit during a production of Lorraine Hansberry’s famed “A Raisin in the Sun.” During a later encounter with Ward, King was encouraged to move to New York. He took the advice, and upon his arrival, Hooks found him a job. Now on the cusp of its 50th anniversary season, the N.E.C. will celebrate with

eight performances of Ward’s “Day of Absence,” a comedic play about one day in a Southern town whose black residents suddenly vanish. This production, from the 1960s, has been heralded as having made way for black actors, playwrights, designers and directors. After nearly an hour of storytelling and reminiscing, the two wet cement slabs were finally presented. King and Ward each etched in their names, then pressed their palms into the concrete as photographers quickly encircled them, shutters clicking. Though their work began long ago, King and Ward continue to keep alive the spirit and culture of black theater and are now commemorated in front of 80 St. Mark’s, a theater that has inspired many.


Join us on Saturday, Dec. 10 at 11 a.m. for: Undergraduate Open House Pharm.D. Information Session and Wet Lab Tour B.S. in Nursing Information Session and Sim Lab Tour

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December 8, 2016

Theatre 80’s impresario, Lorcan Ot way, right, helping Douglas Turner Ward etch his name into a block of concrete. The names were later set into the sidewalk in front of the theater beside other theater greats.

Some hip food trends I almost — gulp! — missed RHYMES WITH CRAZY BY LENORE SKENAZY


.K., I did it. I actually gave my head a pitying shake when a friend told me she had just discovered a fantastic restaurant in Jackson Heights that sells the giant Indian crepes called dosas. “It’s so great!” she said. “It’s called...” “Dosa Delight,” I interrupted, as condescending as if she’d just discovered a great fast-food restaurant called “McDonald’s.” But food pride goeth before a food fall. Just a day later I found myself speaking with Katie Sutton, of the food trendwatching company (yes, there are such things) Food and Drink Resources. I’d read some of its predictions — egg pizza from Georgia (the country), Japanese cuisine by way of Peru, and even fried Brussels sprouts — in an industry newsletter called Restaurant Hospitality. Could these eats truly be coming our way? Turns out they’re already here — and I’m one of the last to know. But possibly, so are you. For instance, Katie said, both coasts are

currently obsessed by poke, and it isn’t a virtual-reality game on your phone. It’s a Hawaiian dish consisting of cubes of raw fish marinated in sauce and served in a bowl, sometimes with rice. There are already several poke (pronounced “poh-kay”) shops in our city, some so popular that long lines form at lunchtime. Having once been absolutely positive that sushi was going to prove a flash in the pan (or, more accurately, a flash in the plate, since it’s raw), I feel reluctant to predict a quick demise for this new fad. But really, how many Hawaiian creations have made it to the big time and stayed there? Besides Obama, I mean. For now, though, poke is so ubiquitous that New York eateries are already

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cross-pollinating it with other popular foods, leading to items like the poke burrito. Meantime, the “phorrito” is another rising star. That’s a burrito filled with Vietnamese pho, a soup of braised meat, herbs and noodles. All of which leads me to my Food Theory No. 1: Wrap a burrito around anything that’s already delicious and it will be a hit. Theory No. 2 is: The gloppier the better, which is why we’re talking about eating a wrap filled with soup. You can also see this trend with egg sandwiches. Katie pointed to Eggslut, a West Coast eatery famed for the runniest eggs around. Another big trend is fruit soups. “It’s like taking a smoothie and dumping it into a bowl and putting chunks of fruit into it,” she said. So here’s my Food Theory No. 3: Anything chunked and put into a bowl is going to be a hit. One particular ingredient finding its way into these soups is dragon fruit, which I’ve seen at Asian fruit stands for years but have always been too unnerved to try. They’re pink and green and look straight out of Dr. Seuss. But to catch up with the trends, I finally got two in Flushing, sliced them open and: total shock! One was white inside with poppy seedlike seeds, but the other was ruby red, same seeds. So gorgeous! And so incredibly bland! Yecch. They tasted like giant kiwis, minus the flavor.

And the fact that they cost about $5 apiece just makes me wonder how popular this fruit can ever be. But I’m the gal who bet against sushi, so let’s move on. Another counterintuitive trend is dark food on dark plates. After what feels like a century of ever-lighter cuisine, Katie says the trend has gone 180. Charring, once known as “overdone,” “burnt” or “ruined” in my family, is now one of the two hippest methods for preparing vegetables. (The other is deep frying.) Katie says she has started charring her salad greens on the grill, which I could understand if they got kind of pleasantly caramelized. But I tried charred broccoli recently, and simply cannot understand why my own, equally unhip method of broccoli prep — steaming till it is bendably soft and slightly gray — lost out. Douse really soft broccoli in melted butter and I say yum. And speaking of dipping, the last food trend we’ve got time for today is deconstructed ramen called tsukemen. The noodles are separate from the broth. You dip them in and slurp them down. Food Theory No. 4: Any obscure cuisine we haven’t discovered yet will burst onto the scene in 2018. And in 2019, it will be wrapped in a burrito. Skenazy is a keynote speaker, founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids”


BROOKLYN The Community News Group is proud to introduce BROOKLYN PAPER RADIO. Join Brooklyn Paper Editor-in-Chief Vince DiMiceli and the New York Daily News’ Gersh Kuntzman every Thursday at 4:45 for an hour of talk on topics Brooklynites hold dear. Each show will feature instudio guests and call-out segments, and can be listened to live or played anytime at your convenience.










Was Castro great, too?

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To The Editor: Re “Some presidents who really did make America great” (talking point, by Harry Pincus, Dec. 1): Castro was a brutal dictator — wasn’t he? Margot Hentoff Harry Pincus responds: “I am neither a communist nor a capitalist. I’m an artist. I don’t believe in government, I believe in pigment. As far as I’m concerned, the voters have been heard. “Castro was certainly a brutal dictator to his opponents, and in that, I am no supporter. How can an artist, particularly someone as strident as myself, ever support a ‘leader’ who takes away the freedom to criticize and, moreover, the freedom to think? These are exactly the things I fear in our new president-elect when he criticizes artists, denounces the press and reviles immigrants. We cannot build a wall around our minds! “Yet, Castro offered hope to millions of people who had no property, no voice and no hope. He fought racism in South Africa and injustice in Angola. He created inroads in medicine and education for his people. These things need to be recognized, as they were by President Obama in his balanced and diplomatic statement.”

East Side,

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sue 2nd Ave. tenants lord city, Con Ed, land for ’15 gas explosion

includtenants, former and “Soing lead plaintiff Drea de pranos” 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


To The Editor: Re “Peace in Middle East? How about fixing the heat? Kushner tenants skeptical” (news article, Dec. 1): This is such a disgrace. Those poor tenants in Kushner’s buildings just have to make do with no heat or gas….unacceptable! This is a warning. Imagine what else this man is capable of.


s Punk photog make tarter ‘History’ on Kicks with new CBGB book


(He has a of CBGB by Godlis. not to 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 Godlis’s determihis St. Mark’s with full of punks nation to produce a book bar a into walks three says, is “His- integrity. Godlis spent and the rest, as he — on the Night,” the years — 1976 to ’79 tory Is Made At monograph on p. 4 eagerly anticipated GODLIS continued and outside of images shot in



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


the Stonewall

Railroad’s spirit U’ground R ntown graffiti artist has huggingE.V.Dow keeps chug 0




February 18, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 7

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

Underground Railthe Lives of the City: Sidney Gay, the editor of Howard Ho road in New York Anti-Slavery Standard Louis Napoleon National Na Louis Howard Gay, newspaper, and of of Fugitives.” weekly w and the Record ek week a free man of color was AnNapoleon, N wo events last of Attending the reunion he to the ndconducted hundreds who w hearkened back gela Terrell, great-great-gra on rk fugitives York from slavery through Napoleon f days when New BY LINCOLN in ANDERSON daughter of Louis 567$ #'"88%)$ "&2'!%($ /("0*'.$ er- New York City to freedom the UnderN side. mother’s was a station on her writer, Christopher ter Canada and elsewhere. and Jusko, 21, in 1800 and a center &$,"#'$-.++"/%$/("0*the at Napoleon, born ground Railroad with an 8-inch ent The June 14 reunion ti artist movement name with an X, kitchen knife who signed of the abolitionist forhis in the stairway of a squatter Otis Kidwell Burger, arrested of home War. instrumental Civil of anevertheless rival tag- was building that led up to the at 272 E. Seventh nddaughterkilling wass a great-great-gra /%($12(%$'!"&$*3%$4 by Don 6 %"(#$"/2$ St. outside on p. One of those events Pastoressa’s continued secRAILROAD2&)9:22($ age Gay, was organized still of Village hasn’t had “Secret a Greenwich trial in ";"('1%&'<$ and =+"#!%)$ reunion co-author remains locked up on Rikers in the neck and dney Papson, of Sydney stabbed in the of the descendants 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 p. 10 2010, Jairo Pastoressa, then

been in jail for 5½ years for murder, without trial




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

It’s a closed book: St. Mark’s Bookshop is going out of business


current talks with investors will result in a eloved literary haven store emerging new bookfrom the ashSt. Mark’s Bookstore es of St. Mark’s, albeit, with !"#$ %&'%(%)$ '!%$ *&"+$ a new name, new operators stage of its terminal mon- and none of the debt. ey woes, and the proverbial “We’re basically going out book will soon close on Man- of business at this point,” hattan’s oldest independent said Contant. “There may be bookshop. a continuation of a bookstore But owner Bob Contant is still clinging to hope that ST. MARK’S continued on p. 14


Burlesque with w a new ttwist wist i

.page 26





January 14, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 2

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

Athanasios Ioannidis, center, PHOTO BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL and Andrew Trombettas, while being walked into right, try to hide their faces their arraignment last Thursday. Trombettas “renting” his plumber’s is accused of license to twice rigging illegal gas-siphoningIoannidis, an unlicensed plumber who is accused of systems at 121 Second Ave.

‘Gas House Gang’ indicted in deadly 2nd Ave. explosion

BY YANNIC RACK er Athanasios “Jerry” 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 '2(&%4>#$?0*@%< In addition, Andrew for manslaughter and other Trombettas, 57, was charged charges in connection with with “renting” 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-


gal gas line and hid the setup from inspectors, causing the explosion and subsequent *(%$ 2&$ A"(@!$ 5B7$ 5CD67$ '!"'$ claimed the lives of Moises Locón and Nicholas Figueroa and injured and displaced dozens of others. EF!%$ #%3%&9"+"(1$ *(%$ that killed two p people p and engulfed three buildings build in March 2015 was caused caus by a foreseeable, preventable preventab and completely avoidable gas explosion,” Vance said. G++$ *3%$ )%0%&)"&'#$ )%0%&)"&'# ;+%")GAS HOUSE continued on p.


Surgeon general general wants wants you — to wa walk! walk walk!.........p lk! age 4 Hawkers market sticks in their The Paper ir cr of Record for ccraw........p age 8 Soho, Union Greenwich Village, East Square, Chinatown

Village, Lower East Side, and Noho, Since 1933


RACK "&$"#;.(.&/$(";;%($ 0(21$'!%$ Q(2&R7$J" enants and politicians '4$"'$DSD$Q #$!%").&/$'2$"$;"(joined in (221%$='< calling state legislator on J"#$0"'"++4$.&TL(%) $J!%&$!%$ $.&$"&$"@s to @.)%&'$ ;"##$ "$ 8.++$ TL#'$ 8%02(%$ '!"'$ 1.)&./!'$ prove regulation J2L+)$ .1- 2&$U%@<$SD< .&/$ 02($ %+%3"'2($and licensWhen the elevator got J2(H%(#$ #'L@H$8%'J "0'%($ "$ 5694%"(92 %%&$:22(#7$P%J%''9 +)$ 1"&$ J"#$ Brown crushed to reportedly helped death in an otheleva- %(#$ /%'$ 2L'7$ tor on New 8L'$ J"#$ ;.&&%)$ Year’s Eve. ='%;!%&$ P%J%''9Q(2J&7$ ELEVATOR continued on p. 10

Composting com Spring St., twic es to e a week

grounds. A photo of K"('$ 20$ "$ @.'490L&) David Bowie %)$ ;(2during his ers at the gram to encourag he term memoria l Ziggy Stardust “scrappy to in front of PHOTO BY Q. separate out e residents his Soho building. period amid votive New Yorkers” SAKAMAKI their organic candles and is tak- 1"''%($ ing on added flow02($ mean- )(2;9200$ @21;2#'.&/7$ '!%$ ing at a spot #.'%$ .#$ .&$ 2;%("'.2& on the Lower at West Side Spring St. $ where local and resi- 2&$FL%#)"4#$"&)$FSixth Ave. )%&'#$ "(%$ :2@H.&/$ I$ !L(#)"4#7$ J%++7$ 0(21$ M$ "<1<$ 'J.@%$ J%%H+47$ '2$ DD$ "<1<7$ 02($ &2J$ I$ (./!'$ )(2;$ 200$ '!%.($ '2$ 2L'#.)%$'!%$NO,$#L8 8"&"&"$ ;%%+#7$ J"4$#'"8(2@@2+.$ #'%1#$ "&)$ @200%%$ COMPOST continued BY LINCOLN on p. 12 ANDERS ON early Sunday in BY$ "0'%($ "&$ London at age ULH%7$&2' lison Dalton DM912&'!$ 8"''+%$ %#$J.'!$!.#$0"12L# with liver cancer. $ walking down was Along with #2&/$ +4(.@#7$ +.H%$ EF!%$ !.#$ J.0%7$ '!%$ La#'"(#$ +22H$ 3%(4$ 12)%+$ [1"&7$ 0"4%''%$ ='<$ ).00%(%&'$ '2)"4X$ @"((4.&/$ had lived at !%$ "$ 82LVL%'$ the Soho address "&)$ ;%(#2&"+$ 20$ (L#'92("& &2'%#7$ +.H%$ E\23%$ 42L$ (2#%#7$!%").&/$'2$'! /%$ #.&@%$DYYY< 02(%3%($ ^$ '!"&H#$ Asked what (."+$.&$0(2&'$20$U"3.)%$1%12Bowie meant 02($ 12(%$ ;%(1.##.2 &$ '2$ 8%$ "$ J%.()2<$ 8L.+).&/<$ G+'!2L/! $Q2J.%>#$ '2$ !%(7$ U"+'2&7$ 6Y7$ #".)7$ EP%$ #;"@%$")3 [$ !2;%$ 42L($ @("_4$ J"#$"+J"4#7$.&$!.#$ @"1%$0(21$!%($%4%#$ &2$ '%"(#$ %&'L(%$.#$!%++"$0L&<X$ ;+%'%+4$!2&%#'$"82LJ"47$@21=.1.+"(+47$ ;%"(%)$"#$.0$@(4.&/< 7$#!%$";2'!%(#$ J!2$ was going through.”'$J!"'$!%$ came to pay their EF!%4>(%$'!%$@2+2($2 respects =!%$ "))%)$ "'$ '!%$ 1%12(."+ 0$WG+")).&$ ="&%7>X$ !%($ :2J%(#$ $ .&$ '!%$ #!%$ '2$ 5M6$\"0"4 0(2&'$ 20$ 1%12(."+7$ :2J%(#7$ (%0%((.&/$ #".)$ 20$ '!%$ J!.@!$ %''%$='<$#".)$Q2J.%># '2$ Q2J.%>#$ ed cards with “Aladdin.&@+L)- 2;%&&%##$ $ DYZS$ "+8L1<$ Sane” 2L#$#%RL" "82L'$ !.#$ "18./LEP%$ !")$ "$ +./!'.&/$ 82+'#$ +./!'&.&/$82+'$'!"'$@2+2($2 "&)$ #'"(#$ ='"(1"&7$ "$ 02($ ever-chan +.'47$"+2&/$J.'!$!.#$ EU"3.)$ The superstar &$!.#$0"@%<X 8L1$ ging stage persosinger died @23%(7$ ;!2'2#$ \.3%X$ "+- &"#7$ /"3%$ '!%1$ '!%$ @2L("/%$ 20$ ].//4$ Stardust and the Thin White


It’s no time to mellow out om



Joanne Milazzo


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

To The Editor: Re “Yuuge wins for legal and medical marijuana at the polls” (news article, Nov. 23): Certainly, a silver lining in this election was that four states passed total legalization. I do wonder how the


Grey Art Gallery


ge 21

BOWIE continued on p. 6 Ex-chef dies in skateboard accident...........p Are kids’ playd age 8 ates really for parents? 14 www.TheVill

allowance will go into effect in each state. The Department of Justice has had a pesky history of meddling with states that have been progressive with marijuana laws in the past. In its early days, Obama’s D.O.J. would constantly shut down medical dispensaries in California because marijuana was still illegal federally. But after his re-election, an edict was issued saying D.O.J. would no longer pursue closures. Who knows how Trump will act? Part of me is hopeful; he has certainly expressed a Libertarian bend on social issues, and certainly a “live and let live philosophy.” But Donald Trump’s intention to nominate Jeff Sessions for U.S. attorney general alarms me. As a federal prosecutor, Sessions was fully supportive of Nancy Reagan’s War on Drugs. More recently, he decried Obama’s efforts to lighten sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. Far back in his past, during hearings in the ’80s, Sessions said he opposed the KKK after he “found out they smoked pot.” He also disputed Obama’s claims that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol, countering (I painfully quote) that, “Lady Gaga is addicted to it.” I hope civil liberties activists, on both the Democratic and G.O.P. side, come together and make sure these states can go full-speed ahead with legalization. This is a far bigger issue than just enjoyment of a recreational plant. For far too long, police officers have used marijuana arrests as an excuse to fill their quotas, while judges wanting to appear “tough” for re-election, institute harsh penalties that disproportionately affect minority communities. Many states have a “three strikes and you’re out” rule. Those three strikes could all be recreational marijuana use. This won’t solve every issue the Black Lives Matter activists are striving for, but it will certainly help. Finally, I hope Democratic activists force Governor Cuomo to move the ball here. New York has the strictest medical marijuana laws in the country. You almost have to be dying to receive treatment, which comes in an almost inconsequential dose. Glaucoma, arthritis and mental anguish from post-traumatic stress disorder are not qualifiers to receive treatment. Dodge Landesman E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to 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.


To Subscribe Call 646-452-2475 or e-mail 14

December 8, 2016

Trump continues crank-calling foreign leaders.

Hillary almost made history; Golda really did



thought Hillary Clinton would be elected president of the United States. She should have been. She is experienced and knowledgeable, but the reason she became famous is that she is married to a previous president. Golda Meir of Israel took office on March 17, 1969. She was the fi rst woman in human history to head a government who was neither the daughter nor the wife or widow of a previous head of government. Her election was a fi rst-time-in-history event. Nobody knows about her unique status. Nobody thinks of Israel as the country that was the fi rst to be ruled by a woman who was not related to a previous ruler. Or maybe she wasn’t the fi rst. Was Tannu Tuva a country? Tannu Tuva became independent in 1921 but was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1944. It was located between Mongolia and the U.S.S.R. Its two neighbors were the only countries that ever recognized it as a separate nation. Tannu Tuva elected a woman, Khertek Anchimaa-Toka, as its president in June

Golda Meir became prime minister of Israel in 1969.

1944. However, in October of that year, Tannu Tuva lost its independence. It is now part of Russia. I have always known about Tannu Tuva. When I was a little child (I was

born in 1937) there was a great big map of the world on the wall of the foyer of our family apartment in Brooklyn. Tannu Tuva was on the map, and so I always knew it was there. I have been reading about it, and I learned that its language, Tuvan, is Turkic but is heavily influenced by Mongolian. It was traditionally written in the Mongolian alphabet, which in my opinion is the most beautiful of alphabets. Nowadays, alas, Tuvan is written in the Cyrillic alphabet, which is logical, since what used to be Tannu Tuva is now part of Russia. Prime ministers are heads of government who are chosen by the parliaments of their countries. Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Ceylon was the fi rst woman to hold this position. She took office on July 21, 1960, a few months after her husband, Prime Minister Solomon Bandaranaike, was assassinated in 1959. Sirimavo Bandaranaike deserves recognition as the fi rst female prime minister of an independent state. She was a fi rst lady before that, just like Hillary Clinton. The second woman head of government of an independent country was Indira Gandhi of India. Gandhi was her married name; her maiden name was Nehru. She was the only daughter of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. She took office on January 14, 1980. She never was a fi rst lady, but as the daughter of Prime Minister Nehru, she inherited his connections to the government, making her analogous to

being a princess. The third woman head of government of an independent country was Golda Meir of Israel. She was the third to hold that office, but the fi rst who was neither a fi rst lady nor a princess. In some countries, the head of government is the prime minister; in others, it is the president. Iceland and the United States are countries that elect presidents. Iceland elected a woman, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, to be its president in 1980. Was Iceland the fi rst? That depends on whether you believe that Tannu Tuva was a country. If Hillary Clinton was elected president of America, she would have been the president of a country that everybody thinks about, unlike Iceland, which does not get into the news, and Tannu Tuva, whose existence was basically unknown. It would have been an important step for women if the U.S. had a woman president, but Hillary Clinton, like Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Indira Gandhi, is a woman who fi rst became famous because of her husband or father. As for prime ministers, there have been several women in that position who became famous through their own careers, including Margaret Thatcher of the United Kingdom and Angela Merkel of Germany. However, Golda Meir was the fi rst.

On World AIDS Day, remembering my brother Harry



y brother Harry died on Sept. 3, 1999, at age 53. Cancer of the liver was the official cause of death. I believe it was the toxic effects of a heroin addiction, AIDS and hepatitis C that finally destroyed his liver. The cancer sapped his strength, his fire, but never the determination to survive. He struggled to get up from his sickbed right until the end. Finally, he fell into a coma for the last few days of his life. This year’s celebration of the New York City AIDS Memorial was special. Harry is one of the 100,000-plus men, women and children who have died from AIDS in this city. But this is not a story of Harry’s last days. This is a tribute to Harry’s triumph over drug use and AIDS. It’s one man’s story of living life on life’s terms. There were 10 of us kids in my family. Harry was the second oldest. Next came me, then Dot, Rick and so on, with

a couple of years between. Harry, Rick and I were close. When Harry was 17, he started hanging out in the streets of Cincinnati, Ohio, and experimenting with alcohol and drugs. Heroin was his drug of choice. Harry became a white-collar criminal, specializing in stolen checks and credit cards to support his heroin habit. In 1977, he moved to New York City because it was “the drug capital,” he said. He spent years in a drug-crazed blur with hundreds of nameless women. There were many horror stories and Harry spent time in prison. He was diagnosed with H.I.V. in 1987. Doctors put Harry on A.Z.T., but he said the meds interfered with his drug high, so he stopped using A.Z.T. In 1983 Harry came down with a disease the doctors couldn’t recognize. He was hospitalized. The physician in charge said, “Mr. Levy, if you believe in God, it’s time for you to pray to him.” My grandmother, a pastor, prayed with Harry day after day and miraculously he got better and eventually made a full recovery. “I wake up in the morning and just feel like, ‘God, I’m glad to be alive,’” he said. Harry became a member of Narcotics

Anonymous and a regular at N.A. meetings in the Bronx. In 1997, Harry became a self-taught H.I.V. treatment educator, with firsthand experience taking many of the new AIDS medicines. He co-founded the Black and Latino AIDS Coalition, Inc. with me and we began speaking to people living with H.I.V. around New York City. I can testify that Harry was my strongest supporter. He stood with me regardless of the issue. We argued endlessly if we didn’t agree, and many times we would stop speaking to each other for weeks. But we always got back together. Best friends as well as brothers. I remember Harry bought a 1985 beige Cadillac in 1997 with the money he saved from not using drugs. Harry loved that car. It was always clean and shining. He was always transporting people with AIDS. He never hesitated to give someone a ride to see his or her doctor or run a errand. Some people credited Harry with helping them stay off drugs. Others recalled Harry’s compassion and sympathetic ear when they were confronted with a crisis. A lady with tears in her eyes remembered how Harry always listened to her no matter what time of day or night she called.

Another said Harry helped her to build confidence in herself. “He taught me how to drive a car,” she said. “Nobody ever believed enough in me to teach me anything except Harry!” One day in 1998, someone stole Harry’s Cadillac. I don’t think he ever recovered from the loss. He passed away in 1999. Another brother of mine in Cincinnati, who couldn’t make Harry’s funeral in New York, said he had a dream a couple of days before Harry’s death. He said he was riding down a highway on a bike, and suddenly he saw a car approaching from the other side of the highway. As the car got closer, he recognized a beige Cadillac, and as it sped past him, he swore it was Harry at the wheel. Harry turned with a smile on his face and waved at him. As fast as my brother could turn around, Harry and his Cadillac were gone! Well, it might have been a dream my brother remembers, but I like to believe it was Harry saying goodbye. Goodbye, Harry. I miss you! Levy is an activist on AIDS and marijuana legalization and was the Green Party candidate in last April’s special election for the 65th Assembly District December 8, 2016


A piece of E. Village punk history visits Florida BY TINA BENITEZ-EVES


pop / Neo-Dadaist artist who moved from mixed-material art pieces to Grammy-winning cover art for the Talking Heads (â&#x20AC;&#x153;Speaking in Tonguesâ&#x20AC;?) before settling on Captiva Island, Florida, and a Mexican-born artist who came to the East Village and created one of the most iconic band logos, The Ramones, Robert Rauschenberg and Arturo Vega never met or collaborated. Yet their paths no doubt crossed without either one knowing it. After fleeing Mexico to New York in 1973, Vega settled at his 6 E. Second St. loft in what became a home and safe haven for artists. Rauschenberg set up shop at 381 Lafayette St. a few years earlier. Both artists conceptualized and extracted their art from the street, whether it was Vegaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s supermarket meat signs from the â&#x20AC;&#x2122;70s or Rauschenbergâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s found objects in his â&#x20AC;&#x153;Combinesâ&#x20AC;? (1954-1962). Today, the link remains among the two artists in â&#x20AC;&#x153;Empire, An Arturo Vega Retrospective,â&#x20AC;? at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery at Florida Southwestern State College, in Fort Myers, Florida. Running through Dec. 17, the longawaited Vega retrospective moves through early works from the 1970s on through the 2010s, serving as an extension of Howl! Happening, the East Village gallery and performance space that




Anthony Haden-Guest, the repor ter, car toonist, poet and socialite, with Ar turo Vegaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Lie, Kill, Cheat, Stealâ&#x20AC;? in Ft. Myers.

opened in 2015 to showcase local artists. Prior to working with The Ramones, Vega painted old bodega signs hawking â&#x20AC;&#x153;Chitterlings,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Chicken Partsâ&#x20AC;? and Smoked Tonguesâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; art pieces that were salvaged by a neighbor after Vega tossed them in garbage. â&#x20AC;&#x153;What the Hellâ&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;You F--k Nâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Assâ&#x20AC;? and other verbal abuses, part of Vegaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Insults Seriesâ&#x20AC;? from the early 1990s, also lined an entire wall, SAME DAY SERVICE AVAILABLE



filling the Rauschenberg Gallery with a bigger picture of Vega, beyond his work with the famous punk band. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Ramones are so much bigger now that theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re gone, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not about The Ramones,â&#x20AC;? said Monte Melnick, the bandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s longtime road manger. Melnick shared a slideshow of archived photos and stories from his life on the road with The Ramones during a preview showing.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;This exhibit is about Arturoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s legacy. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nice to see it finally getting out there.â&#x20AC;? Always proud of his work as the bandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s art director and spokesperson, Vega was reticent to exhibit his own artwork. Stretching more than 6 feet, the largest piece, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Vegaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Empire,â&#x20AC;? from 1989, is a glimpse of Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s economic and cultural prowess with hands holding the eagle side of silver dollars, with a backdrop of Latin American flags. Jade Dellinger, director of the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery and curator of the Vega exhibit, was first introduced to Vegaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work in 1992 when he was a student at New York University and came across some of the artistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s other work at CBs 313 Gallery, later kicking around the idea of a collaboration with the artist. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I was amazed with the paintingsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; vitality, the depth and how creative he was outside of The Ramones,â&#x20AC;? Dellinger said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a project that Bob [Rauschenberg] would have been proud to produce.â&#x20AC;? Ted Riederer, Howl! Happeningâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s gallery director, who first met Vega in 1994, said the artist had not peaked. â&#x20AC;&#x153;No question,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If he lived longer, he would have been bigger.â&#x20AC;? Jane Friedman, director of Howl! Happening and executor of Vegaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s estate, hopes the exhibits will continue. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I hope this helps establish him as not just a Ramones or pop artist. He should be known for all he did.â&#x20AC;?

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The Mink who stole Christmas back

Cult comedian’s dark streak helps make the season bright BY SCOTT STIFFLER When the world seems cold and cruel, and absent the kind of seasonal spirit that motivates you to throw back the covers and forge ahead instead of curling up and calling in sick, there’s one surefire way to give gloom the heave-ho, ho, ho: Knock back a cocktail, wrap yourself in Mink, and laugh it off. “I want Christmas to be a secular holiday. I want everybody to have access to it, because everybody lives with it; the decorations, the cards, the parties,” said Mink Stole, whose appearance in every John Waters film since 1966 makes for a clip reel that includes pleasuring Divine with rosary beads, waving a “No Grinding” sign at dancing teenagers, and being phone pranked into unleashing a tirade of expletives on Kathleen Turner. In real life, however, when discussing the holidays, this cult comedy icon is not prone to salty language…right? “Love it or dread it, dammit, ya gotta deal with it,” insisted the Baltimore native, whose comforting and joyous use of that swear word also gets star billing in the title of her upcoming solo show, “Mink Stole: It’s Merry Christmas, Dammit!” First performed in Manhattan two years ago, and consumed with gin-soaked delight by a certain representative from this very publication, it’s a tart, consistently engaging, occasionally introspective collection of unconventional songs, vivid recollections (a downscale winter in Provincetown with Waters, Divine, and friends), and origin stories that rebuke the party line so many of us grew up with. “Christmas was a holiday that the early Christians stole from the Romans,” said the Catholic-raised Stole. “It was not originally about Christ at all. Early Christians just co-opted it.” Likewise, the record is set straight, or at least bent towards justice, in her roster of secular musical numbers — which includes a “Twelve Days of Christmas” rendition that turns that soul-crushing endurance challenge into an uplifting (albeit mandatory) exercise in audience participation. “I’m also singing ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ in French,” promised Stole, “which is a really different story. It has noting to do with the Christ Child. I’ll be doing standards and originals. I try to cover all the moods of the holiday.” In deference to the current mood of the country, this year’s show will veer considerably from the 2014 model, as Stole was quick to point out in our post-election phone interview — mutually, if naively, scheduled with the notion of adding a female president to our list of topics. Instead, the call had Stole recalling her dayafter reaction to Trump’s victory. “I spent Wednesday in a virtual fetal position,” she recalled. “I was physically numb. I felt like I felt when MINK continued on p. 18

Photo by Jose A. Guzman

Cane and able: Mink Stole, who means to claim Christmas for us all, comes to town Dec. 10, holiday show in tow.

December 8, 2016


MINK continued from p. 17

my sister was killed in a plane crash. I’m devastated. I mean, I am sad; truly grieving — and I tell you what’s making me madder than anything: It’s that we who voted for Hillary are being called on to put aside our differences and unite with ‘the powers that be.’ I can remember when Obama was elected. None of that came from the Republicans. But at the same time, I am a Democrat, and Democrats are kinder, gentler people, generally. I don’t want to be a hater.” So far, Stole hasn’t had the opportunity to see if her face can execute a 180 degree turn of the cheek: “No one has admitted it [voting for Trump] to me, and I think that’s sad, too; that people are ashamed of it. Maybe they just fear my wrath.” Still, Stole noted that the chilly scene of winter set for January 20, 2017 “adds another element to my ‘Merry Christmas, Dammit!’ title. It’s an element I wasn’t expecting, but it makes sense. We have to fight the negativity, to keep our sense of humor. So I have updated it [the show]. I probably will not be telling my sad stories; that my father died on Christmas. I think I’m not going to go there this year.” Given the weight of the holiday since the loss of a parent as an adolescent, “The most I ever hoped for from Christmas is a nice day. I feel like if Christmas has been pleasant, that’s a win.” This year, “there will probably be 35 to 40 people” celebrating on December 25. “It’s a big group; brothers and sisters, their kids and their kids — and we get along pretty well,” which is a far cry from her early days as a member of the John Waters “Dreamlander” ensemble. “For years,” recalled Stole, “I was this huge embarrassment. Basically, my mother would try her damnedest to keep anything I did away from anyone she knew, especially her [second] husband, which is ludicrous, because he didn’t care. By the time [1988’s] ‘Hairspray’ came around, many of my mother’s friends told me they liked what I was doing, and she’s actually an extra in the movie, so things did change.” The American landscape has changed as well, having managed to make peace with the brand of depravity that Waters and Stole once trafficked in. Earlier this year, a scrubbed up version of 1970’s Waters-directed “Multiple Maniacs” played the IFC Center (Sixth Ave. & W. Third St.) for several weeks. “I love the restoration,” said Stole. “For me, ‘Multiple Maniacs’ is like watching home movies. So many people who are in the movie are no longer alive, that it’s bittersweet. There were things


December 8, 2016

Photo by Lawrence Irvine

A restored version of John Waters’ “Multiple Maniacs” (1970) enjoyed a long run earlier this year, at IFC Center. L to R: Mink Stole, as Mink, and Divine, as Lady Divine.

I had completely forgotten, like when Divine takes a sledgehammer to a car; I love that…and I am still amazed when the stuff we did when we were practically children has any relevance now.” Indeed, “cinematic atrocity” acts such as Divine’s straight-from-the-source, real-time ingestion of dog poo (the final scene of 1972’s “Pink Flamingos”) may no longer offend in an era when far greater transgressions await on YouTube — but the old gang’s celebration of recreational pleasures and uncompromising individuality in the face of repression is just as relevant today, and will perhap be even more so over the next four years… which begs the question: Isn’t it time for Stole to pen her memoirs so struggling artists and budding activists can benefit from the wisdom of this swear-spouting, card-carrying Democrat? “Writing is the hardest thing in the world to do,” said Stole, who didn’t necessarily rule out an autobiography. “When I imagine writing a book, I imagine walking around my house with a joint in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, while some amanuensis is writing down everything I say.”Spring for the VIP tickets to Stole’s show, and you can quiz her on this matter, or any other, during the meet-and-greet. Just be sure to wish her a merry you-know-what, instead of a happy…well, you know. “I really hate that phrase, ‘Happy Holidays,’ ” said Stole. “I want to be wished well for every holiday: Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s. I think ‘Happy Holidays’ is just a cheap shortcut.

So Merry Christmas — and if you celebrate another religion, that’s an extra.” “Mink Stole: It’s Merry Christmas, Dammit!” is performed on Sat., Dec. 10, 7pm at The Cutting Room (44 E. 32nd St., btw. Lexington & Park Aves.).

For tickets ($25 plus $20 food/drink minimum; $50 VIP option includes preferred seating, backstage meet and greet), visit or call 212-352-3101. Artist info (including how to order her debut CD, “Do Re Mink”) at

CALL TO SUBSCRIBE 646-452-2475

Old pros shine in stellar holiday showcase ‘Morbid’ is alive with wisdom, humor, chops

BY TRAV S.D. Don’t get the wrong impression from the title of the new holiday-themed cabaret show at Pangea: The overall takeaway from the charming “Tis the Season to be Morbid” — starring Austin Pendleton and Barbara Bleier — is warmth and affection, not darkness. The premise is that the pair are playing “Austin” and “Barbara,” a couple of exes, so most of the selections in their set are about relationships that didn’t work out. The situation is fictional, it turns out — a thematic justification to hang the songs on, like so many Christmas tree ornaments; but there is still a strong undergirding of real-life past history in the show. Pendleton is, of course, a well-known character actor with prominent credits in film, television, and the stage. He is also an in-demand stage director; he’s the former artistic director of the late, lamented Circle Rep, and a longtime teacher of acting at HB Studio. The latter affiliation is the cradle, if you will, of Pendleton’s association with longtime cabaret performer Bleier, who was one of his pupils. So, too, is the show’s director and vocal coach, Barbara Maier Gustern, who has a funny cameo turn in the show. In other words, Gustern has been Pendleton’s singing teacher, Pendleton is Gustern’s acting teacher, and they’ve both taught Bleier — and they’ve done several critically acclaimed cabaret shows together in the past (including last summer’s “Late Nights in Smoky Bars”). Consequently, the performers have the kind of rapport and intimacy with each other that wouldn’t be out of place at a family gathering in someone’s living room. And just as when you find exes in the same space at a Christmas party, there are jibes and quips (plenty of them self-deprecating) but in the final analysis (and this show has some literal, Freudian, analysis), it’s still a festive occasion. Those familiar with Pendleton’s sometimes mincing screen characters will be amused to know that in this show he channels the machismo of Elvis and Richard Beymer (“West Side Story”) by singing “Blue Christmas” and “Maria.” He also renders the show-stopping Lerner/Lane classic “How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life?” from the 1951 musical film “Royal Wedding.”

Photo by Jackie Rudin

Barbara Bleier and Austin Pendleton assume the guise of exes, for a holiday-themed cabaret romp.

Apart from the familiar “Jingle Bell Rock,” most of the holiday songs in the set have an ironic, funny, or dark twist, such as “All Those Christmas Cliches” (Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty), “I Don’t Remember Christmas” (Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire), “My Simple Christmas Wish” (David Freidman), and “Hard Candy Christmas” (Carol Hall). Gustern contributes a naughty rendition of “Santa Baby,” a song made famous by Eartha Kitt. The balance of the set is made up of relationship songs of regret and reminiscence, such as Sondheim’s “Our Time,” from the ill-fated “Merrily We Roll Along,” and “Old Friend” by Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford. In Shakespearean terms, this show is “King Lear” or “The Winter’s Tale.” The theme is maturity, and unapologetic, vulnerable maturity is what is bravely offered by these show business veterans. Memories fail, voices crack, and legs give out — but hearts still beat, and fists are still shaken in defiance of the fates. These are master performers full of wisdom, experience, humor, and chops. Far from morbid in the medical sense, they’re full of piss, vinegar, and maybe even a little jalapeño pepper. If you’re older, go and relate. If you’re young, go and learn at their feet. Mon., Dec. 12 and Thurs., Jan. 5, 7pm, at Pangea (178 Second Ave., btw. E. 11th & E. 12th Sts.). Tickets are

$20 in advance, $25 (cash only) at the door. $20 food or drink table mini-

mum, per person. For reservations, visit or call 212-995-0900.


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December 8, 2016

St. John’s / Pier 40 PROJECT continued from p. 9

terim” fields on the pier, but they soon became a sacred cow. Meanwhile, the Trust still hopes to milk the pier for more revenue. “ULURP is only as good as the community and leadership participation and that’s why we had a good result in this case,” Bergman said. “The community engaged and spoke out. The C.B. 2 Working Group listened and made a strong case in the resolution the board approved. It all worked because our councilmember understood and fought for every detail.” G.V.L.L. and other local youth sports leagues, like DUSC (Downtown United Soccer Club) and the thousands of families who participate in them have anxiously followed the ULURP process, which will impact the future of Pier 40, which is like the community’s “backyard.” Many have dubbed it “Downtown’s Central Park.” A coalition of youth leagues, Pier 40 Champions, at one point a few years ago even pushed a selfdesigned concept plan for highrise towers in the park right in front of the pier as a way to generate funds to help save the pier.

A ‘Little’ cautious “Obviously, I am quite pleased at the outcome as it pertains to the development project,” said Michael Schneider, G.V.L.L.’s new president. “In addition, the changes that came at the last minute are quite welcome. “Corey Johnson did a fantastic job and raising $14 million for the pier from the city was really a wonderful surprise. “However,” Schneider added, “lest everyone celebrate too soon, I am still a bit concerned that in fi xing Pier 40, our 15 acres of street-level fields remain the focal point. I understand Pier 40 offers some excellent business opportunities for the private sector. But to us, it’s not about the money but what the money is used for. Our children make this the community it is and they deserve the same thing all kids who live outside of the city take for granted — going out and playing ball. Making money for the sake of making money just doesn’t compare. I trust the Hudson River Park Trust and believe they will do the right thing in fi xing Pier 40. Fingers crossed.”

Pier 40’s future?

Now blocked from doing further air-rights transfers into C.B. 2, the Trust reportedly plans to use Pier 40’s additional air rights to create commercial office space right on the pier itself — though without jeopardizing the pier’s playing fields. According to a source, the pier’s additional unused air rights — technically known as floor area ratio (F.A.R.) — could go toward adding more floors for commercial use on the pier, though not necessarily a lot more height. Pier 40’s current donut-style three-story pier shed has very high ceilings, so unused F.A.R. could be utilized to add more floors within the existing pier-shed envelope. However, it remains to be seen what the Trust plans. According to a source, the Trust and local youth sports leagues are potentially contemplating opening up the pier’s eastern frontage and pushing the commercial space toward the pier’s west side. However, the state Legislature would need to approve commercial office use on the pier, which is currently prohibited under the park act. C.B. 2 would also be involved in the discussions. The cash-strapped park is primarily self-supporting, so the Trust wants to increase revenue.

Revenue, too... In a statement, Wils, the Trust’s C.E.O., said, “Pier 40 is a treasured community resource and an important revenue generator for Hudson River Park. Monday’s vote moves us one step closer to ensuring that the urgently needed repairs to the pier’s piles will be made, and the pier will stay open. Under a newly strengthened deal, the full $100 million will be guaranteed to the park before the developer can pull the special permit. “Once the funding is secured,” Wils added, “we must also make sure Pier 40 serves as a revenue generator for the entire park. We thank the City Council for acknowledging today that the remaining development rights on Pier 40 should be used on the pier itself in a future redevelopment. “We look forward to working with Councilmember Johnson, our other local elected officials and the community on a redevelopment plan for the pier.”

December 8, 2016


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