The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
December 29, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 52
Lobbyist Capalino now working for old P.S. 64 dormitory developers BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
t turns out that Jim Capalino, the top lobbyist who has been at the center of the storm over the scandalous Rivington House sale, has been lobbying on behalf of none other than the owners of the old P.S. 64 — the former CHARAS / El Bohio.
Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said it was only discovered “very recently” that Capalino has been lobbying on behalf of 9th & 10th Street L.L.C. Records from the Lobbying Bureau of the Office of LOBBYIST continued on p. 6
Rivington House buyer ripped us off big time, must pay big ﬁne: Squad BY DENNIS LYNCH
tate Senator Daniel Squadron has asked the state attorney general to investigate if the Allure Group — the current owner of the Rivington House building — can be sued for defrauding the city government under the state False Claims Act. A
successful suit could see the real estate company pay huge fines for its role in the sale of the former AIDS hospice to a luxury housing developer. The False Claims Act statute allows for penalties against companies that knowingly lie to the city or state in such a way that affects payment to FRAUD continued on p. 22
PHOTO BY BOB KRASNER
Looking like some sor t of mash-up of the burning bush and one of the Heat Miser’s fireballs, this image of a menorah-Christmas tree combination (the tree is behind the menorah) in Stuy vesant Square, at Second Ave. and E. 15th St., was created with t wo superimposed time-exposure photos (and, yes, taken without a tripod, for you photo buffs.) If only there had been a Kwanzaa kinara, too!
‘Up in the air’: How big will rebuilt Pier 40 be? BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
n what is being hailed as a major victory for the community, the agreement for the St. John’s Partners project recently approved by the City Council states that no more development rights from Hudson River Park may be transferred into Community Board 2 after this one megaproject.
However, on the other hand, the agreement does allow the Hudson River Park Trust, the park’s governing state/city authority, to use the currently unused socalled “air rights” of Pier 40 on the actual W. Houston St. pier itself. The massive former shipping pier boasts significant air rights, and there is already disagreement brewing between the Trust and the
community over whether the authority should use all of those on the pier — or just a portion of them. To that end, Terri Cude, the new chairperson of C.B. 2, said the challenge on Pier 40 will be to strike a balance between “the needs of the park and protecting the community from overdevelopment.” PIER continued on p. 3
Artist provocateur held at U.S. border. ..............p. 8 Carmen Pabon, 95, ‘Godmother of L.E.S.’ ........ p. 10 Not ‘dyin’ ’ for Don to start .... p. 13
UNHAPPY LENAPE: The New York Post is reporting that “tribal warfare” has broken out among the local Lenape tribe — Manhattan’s original denizens — over who will get Jean-Louis Bourgeois’s $4 million building on Weehawken St. Bourgeois, the activist scion of the late sculptress Louise Bourgeois, has long said he is in the process of giving the low-rise house to Anthony Van Dunk, a former Lenape chief who plans to convert it into a padamawiikan — or “house of prayer” in Lenape lingo. Hey, this isn’t really new news, though! Scoopy’s Notebook first reported two years ago that Bourgeois was trying to do this. And we have reported on the slow progress toward this goal several times since. Hey, you read it here first! Anyway, we were curious how the Post, which has had two articles on this now in the past couple of weeks, got onto the story. So we called Bourgeois, who recently returned to the West Village from a several-months-long stint out at bitterly cold Standing Rock, where he stood in solidarity with the Lakota and water protectors against the Dakota Access Pipeline — and also kept them in business, providing the protest camp with truckloads of firewood and also hundreds of quirky hats imported from Harlem. The Post reported that Bourgeois’s generosity for the pipeline protesters has been to the tune of $600,000, but he said that’s actually a low-ball figure. When we called Bourgeois and asked him how the Post got onto the Weehawken house story, his friend Jim Drougas, owner of Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books, on Carmine St., who happened to be visiting him, piped up that it was him. Drougas is friends with writer Larry “Ratso” Sloman, who is best known for his work on Howard Stern’s two autobiographies, and whose wife, Christy Smith-Sloman, is a freelance writer. Drougas told them about Bourgeois’s activism around the Standing Rock pipeline fight. But Smith-Sloman instead focused on the Weehawken house fight — or maybe that’s what the
December 29, 2016
PHOTO BY SHARON WOOLUMS
Just chillin’: Jean-Louis Bourgeois got a penguin from former Lenape chief Anthony Van Dunk for Christmas. It goes well with his penguin hat — with special ex tra-long ear flaps / neck warmers. Bourgeois bought the bonnets in bulk in Harlem — they may not all be penguins — and has been outfitting the Standing Rock protesters with them to help them brave the Dakota cold. He also is giving them night goggles to catch sneak y law enforcement officers.
Post editors wanted. Who knows? Aww, it’s all good... . Drougas also invited Bourgeois and Van Dunk to an impromptu Christmas gathering at his bookstore, where, as Scoopy source Sharon Woolums reports, Van Dunk gave Bourgeois a stuffed penguin to go with his Harlem penguin hat. As for the feud over the pending sale of the future padamawiikan, Bourgeois said there’s no way he’s going to let rival chief Dwaine Perry get his hands on the house. “I have complete confidence in Anthony,” Bourgeois told us, “and I’m not even gonna talk to the other guy.” Van Dunk has basically been disenfranchised from the tribe after trying to institute some reforms during his recent term as chief. But, hey, once he gets that Village real estate, things could turn around fast, and — who knows? — the tribe might well ditch Perry. “Now that the building is going to be Anthony’s territory, he’s got something to offer — a padamawiikan,” Bourgeois noted. Plus, he added, things could even get a bit more involved before the ownership of the building is settled. “The Lenape are matrilineal, so it will likely be turned over to a group of women,” Bourgeois explained, adding, “That suits me fine since I’m a male feminist. It’s complicated.” Meanwhile, he’ll be heading back out to Standing Rock in North Dakota soon for a ceremony to receive an honorary Lakota name, on Jan. 11. Bourgeois had suggested “Custer Killer” — though admitting he personally didn’t want to kill Custer, and is happy that someone else did it. But the Sioux felt that any name with Custer in it is a bad idea, so he’ll be getting something else. It will be a surprise. And he’s still helping the cause. When we called the other night, he had just received a shipment of more stuff for Standing Rock. “I have just purchased $1,000 worth of night battle gear,” he told us. Payu, a Native American activist friend of Bourgeois’s, explained that this equipment — night-vision goggles and long-range binoculars — was not for doing battle,
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Champion Pizza in Nolita is giving free slices to people who come in wearing “Star Wars” attire through this Friday. It wasn’t clear if these patrons were wearing some sor t of “cloaking device,” hiding their sci-fi costumes. Oh, wait...that was “Star Trek”!
but merely seeing “the enemy,” mainly law enforcement, when they try to sneak up on the camp at night. Tribal SCOOPY continued on p. 23 TheVillager.com
‘Up in the air’: How big will rebuilt Pier 40 be? PIER continued from p. 1
Meanwhile, the planned 1.7-million-square-foot St. John’s development will have 1,600 apartments and stretch for three blocks along West and Washington Sts. opposite Pier 40 at W. Houston St. A key part of the project is that its developers have agreed to buy 200,000 square feet of unused air rights from the park’s sprawling 15-acre pier for $100 million. After these development rights are transferred to the St. John’s project, however, Pier 40 will still have an additional 380,000 square feet of unused air rights left. As for the currently “used” air rights on the pier, its existing three-story “donut”-shaped pier-shed structure encloses roughly 760,000 square feet of space. Local youth sports leagues plan to work with the Trust, C.B. 2 and local politicians on a plan for the pier’s
‘We intend to use the remaining development rights on the pier.’ Trust spokesperson
future design that would open up its eastern and western sides, while pushing the pier’s commercial structures to its northern and southern edges. This would actually increase the amount of field space on the pier. The Trust wants to develop commercial office space on the pier, but that would need an amendment in Albany, since the Hudson River Park Act does not currently allow office use at Pier 40. Asked if there are any preliminary design plans for Pier 40 right now, a Trust spokesperson said, “No plans at the moment, but if there were an increase in area for ball fields, some of the [existing] buildings would have to be re-massed.” Whether that means the new structures would be taller — and how much taller — isn’t immediately known, at least not publicly. Theoretically, more floors just could be added within roughly the space of the existing envelope since the current pier shed has very high ceilings. TheVillager.com
Back in September 2012, when the Hudson River Park Trust was exploring building luxur y residential housing and a hotel on Pier 40, a staffer in A ssemblymember Deborah Glick’s Office created this computer illustration, giving a rough sense of how Pier 40 could look with 15-stor y towers added along its nor thern edge. The Trust is now considering developing commercial office space on the nor thern and southern edges of Pier 40. Would it be this tall? No one seems to know yet — or is not saying so publicly.
Air-rights transfers from the 4-milelong West Side waterfront park up to one block inland were unheard of until 2013, when a surprise amendment to the park act at the very end of the Albany legislative session abruptly fl ipped the landscape. However, some people scoff at the very notion that piers should have any air rights at all. Indeed, one skeptical local politician has been heard to utter this in private. Be that as it may, under current city zoning regulations, commercial piers — as opposed to recreational piers — do have development rights. Under the park act, Pier 40 is designated for a mix of recreational and commercial uses; it currently sports heavily used ball fields and a commercial parking operation. The fi nal agreement for the St. John’s project, which was brokered by Councilmember Corey Johnson in early December, states that the park’s unused development rights can only be transferred into the adjacent community board district. So, any air rights from Pier 40 can only be transferred into C.B. 2, whose waterfront boundary stretches between W. 14th and Canal Sts. As for the southern third of the park, in Tribeca, it has no commercial piers, so there will be no air-rights transfers into Community Board 1. Meanwhile, there are commercial PIER continued on p. 5
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Hellish arrest Police arrested a man on Tues., Dec. 20, in the shooting that occurred during a wild melee on Dec. 11 outside the Hells Angels East Village clubhouse at 77 E. Third St. Anthony Iovenitti, 52, of Kingston, N.Y., was busted inside the Ninth Precinct, at 321 E. Fifth St., and charged with second-degree attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon. The rumble reportedly erupted after a group of men in a Mercedes-Benz moved a parking cone outside the biker gang’s building so they pass around a parked cab. During the ensuing donnybrook, Iovenitti was knocked down but allegedly blasted David Martinez, 25, in the gut. At his arraignment in court, Iovenitti was only charged with assault. Police identified him as a member of the gang, but some reports are calling him a “prospective” member. He made bail. The Daily News reported Martinez is recovering but the bullet is still lodged in his spine.
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A man rummaging furtively in a vehicle in front of 45 W. 10th St. early Wednesday morning caught a police officer’s eye. On Dec. 21, at 4 a.m., the cop espied the man sitting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle and rifling through the glove box and center console — apparently looking for more than just a missing GPS. A woman was acting as lookout. As they were approached by the officer, they ran into a parking garage where they were later arrested. Remy Martin, 35, and Angelique Davis Hunt, 19, were arrested for misdemeanor unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
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Anthony Iovenitti leaving Manhattan Criminal Cour t after his arraignment for assault Wed., Dec. 21.
Stonewall slaps Police said that on Christmas Eve, Sat., Dec. 24, around 11:21 p.m., two acquain-
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her head, causing her pain.
December 29, 2016
Inn, at 53 Christopher St., that turned violent. The victim, a 24-year-old woman, told police that the man smacked her with an
Oliver Ng, 21, of 101 Chrystie St., was arrested for misdemeanor assault.
He ‘gripped’ MacBook The 49 Grove bar at 49 Grove St. was rented out to a production company, when an employee went off script and swiped a computer, police said. On Sun., Nov. 13, at 11:30 a.m., another employee told police that a crewmember went into a bag and took a company MacBook Air laptop valued at $1,500 and left. The incident was captured on video. The following month on Dec. 20, police arrested Miguel Vazquez, 23, for felony grand larceny.
A man and a woman leaving Lenox Health Greenwich Village got into a physical dispute, police said. An officer said he witnessed the man punch the woman in the face on the sidewalk in front of 30 Seventh Ave. South on Sat., Dec. 24, at 12:25 p.m. When cops tried to arrest him, the man reportedly resisted by flailing his arms and refusing to be cuffed. The couple live together and the woman is the man’s guardian. Jahlil Davis, 25, was arrested for misdemeanor assault.
Emily Siegel and Lincoln Anderson TheVillager.com
‘Up in the air’: How big will rebuilt Pier 40 be? PIER continued from p. 3
piers in the park’s Chelsea / Clinton section — such as Chelsea Piers — so Community Board 4 will no doubt see its share of park air-rights transfers in the future. Madelyn Wils, the Trust’s president and C.E.O., at times over the past summer said that the entire park currently has roughly 1.6 million square feet of unused air rights available for purchase. (At the time, that included the 200,000 square feet slated for the St. John’s project, which had yet to be approved.) Based on that figure, then, the C.B. 4 park section likely has about 1 million square feet of unused air rights available for purchase and transfer along that part of the waterfront. C.B. 2 Chairperson Cude said the board is gearing up to tackle the Pier 40 redesign — including the question of how its air rights will be used. “A C.B. 2 working group on Pier 40 redevelopment is currently in formation,” she told The Villager. “It will collect input and build consensus on the needs of the park and protecting the community from overdevelopment. Until that public process takes place, C.B. 2 does not have a position on what may or may not be appropriate on the pier.” Asked who will chair the working group, Cude said she is planning to appoint Tobi Bergman, who chaired C.B. 2 for the past two years. Bergman is one of the local youth sports advocates most associated with trying to ensure the pier’s survival as a youth sports mecca into the future. Asked for comment, Bergman said, “All concerned parties, including the community, will have to be involved in the discussions about the pier. At least now, the Trust can start fi xing the piles.” The $100 million that the St. John’s Partners development team will pay the Trust for the 200,000 square feet of air rights will go toward Pier 40’s most pressing maintenance issue — the repair of all 3,500 of Pier 40’s corroded steel support piles. The work will begin in the spring. Under the air-rights legislation passed in 2013, the proceeds from the sale of any air rights from Pier 40 must go back into the W. Houston St. pier’s repair and maintenance. Asked how much it will cost to repair all 3,500 piles, the Trust spokesperson said $104 million, based on an estimate in a 2015 report on the pier by Halcrow engineers (now known as CH2M). In addition to the $100 million from the air-rights sale, as part of the fi nal St. John’s deal, the city agreed to kick in $14 million for Pier 40, so that should cover the pile repairs. TheVillager.com
Meanwhile, during the recent ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) public review for the St. John’s project, Trust C.E.O. Wils fought strenuously, though ultimately unsuccessfully, for the Trust to be allowed to transfer the rest of Pier 40’s unused air rights into C.B. 2. Not surprisingly, she is now eager to max out the use of the remaining air rights on Pier 40 itself for commercial use, since the Trust can’t sell them outside of the park. Asked for comment, the Trust spokesperson said, “Madelyn has said publicly several times that the Trust hopes to use all of Pier 40’s remaining
development rights on the pier itself for a potential commercial project. This would require two changes to the Hudson River Park Act through the state Legislature. The Trust would then work with local electeds and the community on a redevelopment plan for the pier.” Asked if the Trust would heed the community’s wishes and consider not using all the remaining air rights, the spokesperson indicated that, the authority feels it’s important to squeeze revenue out of the pier. That said, he added the project will be “less intensive,” apparently referring to how heavily the pier is used commercially.
“In accordance with the Hudson River Park Act, Pier 40 is intended as a significant revenue generator for the entire park, so our intention is to use all of Pier 40’s remaining development rights,” he said. “As we’re now limited to where we can transfer them inland, we intend to pursue a development on the pier that uses the remaining development rights and that is compatible with ball field use, which will remain and likely be improved. Keep in mind, the funding secured earlier this month already gives any eventual development on the pier a leg up, removing a large fi nancial burden and allowing for a less-intensive project.”
December 29, 2016
Capalino working for old P.S. 64 dorm project LOBBYIST continued from p. 1
the City Clerk show that from January 2015 to December 2016, 9th & 10th L.L.C. made three payments to James F. Capalino and Associates for a total of roughly $227,000. The first payment was for $30,000, with the “target” being the Department of Buildings, and the purpose being for “determination regarding real property.” The second was for $86,666, with the targets listed as D.O.B., along with “councilmembers and community boards,” with the intended purpose stated as “aiding the client in seeking various approvals for its property.” The third payment was for $120,000, with the target again D.O.B. and the purpose only listed as “non-procurement.” A spokesperson for Capalino admitted in an e-mail that the lobbyist is currently repping the owners of the old P.S. 64 — and has been doing so for nearly three years, in fact. “Confirming we are engaged by 9th and 10th street LLC, and have been since 4/10/14,” he said. Capalino represented VillageCare when it was trying to get the Rivington House deed restriction for use as a nonprofit nursing home lifted and also get the city to waive the usual hefty payment for doing so. Capalino has stated he was no longer under contract with VillageCare in February 2016 when the Forsyth St. building (coincidentally, also a former school) was sold to the Allure group, which later flipped it, at a huge profit, for market-rate residential redevelopment to Slate, a company that Capalino was representing on a separate property. In the wake of the outcry over that shady deal that shocked the city and rocked the de Blasio administration, a stop-work order remains in effect on the former Rivington House building. Returning to the old P.S. 64, at E. Ninth St. and Avenue B, Gregg Singer, a member of the building’s ownership group, bought it at city auction in 1998 for $3.15 million. Today, it’s worth from $30 million to $40 million. In 2001, Singer succeeded in evicting CHARAS, a Puerto Rican-led cultural and community center. But the stately turn-of-the-century building has sat empty ever since, as the community has battled — and repeatedly defeated — a succession of Singer’s development schemes. His previous plans involved erecting a towering dorm on the property, and later, scaling back the tower a bit while razing all of the existing historic building except for its front facade. But then in 2006, the Bloomberg administration landmarked the old P.S. 64, saving it from demolition and severely limiting what Singer could do with it. The building carries a deed restriction for community-facility use, and Singer — as he has been trying to do for years, in one form or another — is currently attempting to develop a dorm there, which,
December 29, 2016
VILLAGER FILE PHOTO BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL
Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio hugged lobbyist Jim Capalino at a Stuy vesant Town rally for him during the mayor’s first campaign. A friend of de Blasio, Capalino has “bundled” more than $40,000 from donors for the mayor’s current re-election campaign.
‘They don’t even have half of the building accounted for.’ Andrew Berman, Director, G.V.S.H.P.
if done legally, would conform with the city’s “Dorm Rule” regulations. However, a full stop-work order has been in effect on the property since August 2015, which, according to the D.O.B. Web site, was issued “for intent to revoke permits and approvals.” A year earlier, the city had ruled that contracts Singer had entered into with The Cooper Union for dorm use, as well as for the Joffrey Ballet School Concert Group Program for a nonprofit with housing accommodations, for a com-
bined total of 200 beds, did not meet the agency’s criteria for either category. The backstory is that about 10 years ago, the city tightened up its regulations for dormitories. Developers had been exploiting the community-facility-use regulation — which allows dorms to be constructed taller than residential buildings. The developers would say they were building a dorm, then, once it was built, try to use the building residentially. The new, improved “Dorm Rule” that emerged requires that developers have firm 10-year contracts in place with accredited universities before they can proceed with any construction — and also that 100 percent of the area under contract be accounted for in the plans. The new rule was intended not only to keep developers from getting license to construct overly large buildings, but also to keep developers like Singer from potentially saying they were creating a university dorm, only to convert it into — in Singer’s case — essentially, a youth hostel. Also, ironically, in the case of the old P.S. 64, community activists and local politicians simply don’t want the building to be a dorm anyway — they want it returned as a community center. So the Dorm Rule has been a bulwark against getting an actual dorm at the location. This past May, however, D.O.B. issued a new ruling on its own Dorm Rule, watering it down, according to Berman
and the E. Ninth St. project’s other opponents. Berman provided a copy of the ruling to The Villager. Dated May 26, it refers specifically to 605 E. Ninth St., and is signed by Martin Reinholz, the Manhattan borough D.O.B. commissioner who, according to lobbying records, was the person at the agency that Capalino was lobbying for this project. Reinholz’s ruling basically states that D.O.B. agrees with the applicant’s request — namely, that a lease for “a portion” of the building represents a lease for the whole building, and thus allows the applicant to do work throughout the building, such as on things like mechanical systems and common areas, not just in the portion that is actually leased. G.V.S.H.P., the East Village Community Coalition, soccc64 (Save Our Community Center) and local politicians oppose this allegedly weakened version of the Dorm Rule — which would allow interior construction work to restart at 605 E. Ninth St. — from being implemented, and are blasting it as the “Fraction Rule.” Asked whether Capalino has been specifically lobbying to water down the Dorm Rule, his spokesperson said they were declining further comment for this article. Berman said, so far, this new D.O.B. interpretation hasn’t been implemented — and that it’s important to keep it that way: If the agency starts using the weaker ruling, it would be hard to get it to stop, he warned. “We’re trying to get the ruling reversed,” Berman said. “They haven’t issued any permits under this new ruling yet. But we’re very worried that, at any moment, they could.” Subsequent to the city nixing Singer’s plan two years ago, The Cooper Union and Joffrey Ballet School Concert Group have dropped out of the mix. The new “anchor tenant” for the dorm is Adelphi University, which is based on Long Island, but does have a Manhattan facility in Hudson Square at 75 Varick St. Singer signed a lease with the school this past August. The Adelphi lease states it is for 196 beds on the second and third floors. The rooms are listed as “4-bed units” and “7-bed units.” The rent would start at $2,075 per bed for the 2018-19 academic year, rising by 4 percent per year till 2027 when it would be $2,953 per bed. Rooms would come equipped with electric stoves, microwave ovens and flatscreen TVs, while common areas would include the likes of a cafe, foosball and ping pong, theater / media room, fitness center and two yoga studios. However, raising another red flag for the project’s opponents, under the lease, Adelphi is only required to rent a minimum of 20 beds per nine-month school year, which might not sound like a lot, but actually would bring in a cool $373,500. LOBBYIST continued on p. 14 TheVillager.com
TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell
phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.
Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-
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.
Eating 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.
Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.
December 29, 2016
Rivington School artist Cantsin held at border BY SAR AH FERGUSON
cores of folk turned out on Dec. 8 to celebrate the long-awaited compendium “Rivington School: 80s New York Underground” (Black Dog Publishing) — a just-released survey of that ill-begotten gang of scrap metal, graffiti and performance artists who once epitomized the irreverent down-and-out aesthetic of the Lower East Side. But the star of the show, editor and chief Riv School propagandist Istvan Kantor, was M.I.A. Kantor, a.k.a. Monty Cantsin, was slated to engage in a ritual burning of the first copy of the “Riv” book outside the Howl! Happening gallery on E. First St. — part of a week of readings and performances exploring the legacy and impact of this anti-art movement on the LES. But Kantor, who now lives in Toronto, was unexpectedly turned back at the Canadian border by U.S. Customs agents, who were put off by the agitprop materials he was carrying. According to Kantor, the agents in Buffalo, N.Y., became alarmed when they found sealed packages of hypodermic needles in his luggage. Kantor is renowned for his “blood art” — using his own blood to splatter walls in museums like the MoMA to protest the “commodification” of art — and has been arrested numerous times both here and abroad. He says the customs agents were also irked by the megaphone bearing Kantor’s trademark “Neoism” slogan, along with his Nazi-like cap, Chinese security armbands and red flag — all props for the satirical performances he planned to stage. Although Kantor has been detained at the border before, he says he’s had no trouble coming into the U.S. in the last three years. But this was different. “They took me and my girlfriend to a special room for fingerprints and mugshots,” he said, “and that’s where the more serious questioning began — especially about my travels in China,” where Kantor has been teaching multimedia art. “They wanted to know if I had visited Pakistan, Libya, Palestine and other Middle Eastern countries.” After three hours of grilling, Kantor and his girlfriend were put in a car and taken across the border, where they were forced to take a $220 cab ride back to Toronto because it was 4 a.m. “We never got a concrete explanation or piece of paper or anything to explain why we were turned away,” Kantor said. Undaunted, Kantor says he’s hoping to try again in February, when Howl! Happening is hosting the Acker Awards — this year he’s a recipient. But this time, he plans to leave his needles and props behind.
December 29, 2016
PHOTO BY CLAYTON PATTERSON
Per formance ar tist Angel Eyedealism kicked off the Dec. 8 book launch event for the new tome on the Rivington School with a book burning — a traditional act by the iconoclastic group of Lower East Side ar tists. Usually Mont y Cantsin does the honors, but he was not available this time, having been detained at the Canadian border.
PHOTO BY CLAYTON PATTERSON
Monty Cantsin photographed in Clay ton Patterson’s Clay ton Galler y and Outlaw Ar t Museum.
PHOTO COURTESY ISTVAN KANTOR
Cantsin’s suitcase full of agitprop materials caught the eye of U.S. Customs agents. TheVillager.com
The Year of the Hover; Kind of glad itâ€™s over RHYMES WITH CRAZY BY LENORE SKENAZY
t was the year of Pokemon Panic â€” any toy that gets kids outside must be stopped! â€” and the year a Florida school canceled its â€œPowder Puffâ€? all-girl football game, suggesting the girls bob for apples instead. It was the year that we saw the first academic study of bouncy house temperatures â€” â€œsomething that no one had really examined in the published literature,â€? according to one of the researchers. Imagine that. But all in all, it was a particularly great year for busybodies. A video of a man screaming at a woman who popped into the gas station while her kid waited in the car went viral â€” who could resist mom-shaming like that? â€” as did a video of parents getting their food at a buffet while their baby waited at the table. Why, that child could have vaporized while they got their spareribs! Cops asked one mom to leave a football game because onlookers thought her baby looked cold. Meanwhile, an-
other momâ€™s kids were ordered to undergo a physical because she let them wait in the minivan while she got a Starbucks â€” an errand that took three whole minutes. And my friend Julie Gunlock, a writer in D.C., got chewed out by an F.B.I. agent for running in to get a rotisserie chicken while her boys, 9, 7 and 5, waited in the car. She certainly is Public Enemy No. 1. And then there were these stories: 1) The police chief of New Albany, Ohio, helpfully revealed the age that kids are old enough to start going outside on their own: 16. â€œI think thatâ€™s the threshold where you see children getting a little bit more freedom,â€? he said. 2) Local television news in Fargo, North Dakota, reported that a mom
â€œfelt scaredâ€? at the grocery because she kept running into the same couple in several aisles, â€œAnd when I went to the checkout they were right there.â€? Yep. 3) Kids at the Learning Collaborative, a preschool in a disadvantaged neighborhood of Charlotte, North Carolina, were not allowed to play on their new swings because the grass and dirt underneath was deemed â€œtoo dangerous.â€? First the school must raise $1,100 to replace the grass with 6-inch-deep mulch. 4) The Beaverton, Oregon, library will not allow children under 10 on the premises unless â€œwithin sightlines of parentsâ€? at all times. If an â€œadultresponsible caregiver cannot be located within five minutes, library staff will call the Beaverton Police Department.â€? 5) A 14-year-old Iowa girl, â€œNancy Doe,â€? took two racy pictures of herself â€” one in a sports bra and boy shorts, one braless, but with her hair covering her breasts â€” and texted them to a boy. A few weeks later, she was accused of sexual exploitation of a minor: herself. 6) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised all women who are not on birth control not to drink any alcohol until they reach menopause. Explained Princeton sociologist Elizabeth Mitchell Armstrong, â€œThe idea is that any woman of reproductive age should be treated as potentially pregnant at all
times.â€? 7) Rhode Island legislators introduced a bill that would ban recess if temperatures drop below 32 degrees. 8) A dying, wheelchair-bound sex offender with Alzheimerâ€™s must move out of the Boynton Beach, Florida, hospice he is in because it is too close to a preschool. 9) And just three weeks ago, a Long Island mom and dad shopping for Christmas lights at a Valley Stream Home Depot let their 4-year-old nap in the car. When they came out about 20 minutes later, they found firemen had smashed open the back passenger window to extricate the (perfectly fine, if startled) boy after someone had called 911 to report an â€œunconscious child.â€? A waiting ambulance then sped the tot and his mom to Cohenâ€™s Childrenâ€™s Medical Center in Queens, while the dad was thrown in jail for five hours. That night when they all finally got home after 10, the doorbell rang at about midnight: Someone from child protective services was there to inspect their home. Now the dad is awaiting trial on charges of child endangerment. His court date is Valentineâ€™s Day. Nice. May your year be saner and sweeter! Skenazy is a keynote speaker, author of the book and blog Free-Range Kids, and a contributor at Reason.com
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December 29, 2016
Carbon Pabon, 95, ‘Godmother of Loisaida’;
OBITUARY BY SAR AH FERGUSON
cores of family members and admirers filed through the Ortiz Funeral Home on First Ave. last month to pay their respects to Carmen Pabon, the ardent community activist and so-called “Godmother of Loisaida,” who passed away on Nov. 12 at the age of 95. A mother of eight, Pabon spent five decades on the Lower East Side advocating for the rights of immigrants and the poor from her apartment in the Lillian Wald Houses off Avenue D, and from the community garden she founded on what was once a rubble-strewn lot on Avenue C. “She was like the consciousness of the Puerto Rican community here,” said Margarita Lopez, the former East Village councilmember, who first met Pabon in the early 1980s, when she herself arrived from the island. Although not well-known outside of the Lower East Side, Pabon was a key player in the grassroots movement that rose up here in the 1970s and ’80s to confront issues like homelessness, drugs and AIDS. “We used to have meetings for organizing the community,” Lopez recalled. “Carmen was the most brilliant one of us. It was pure intelligence mixed with compassion. Her humanism was beyond belief.” “She was a role model,” Lopez added. “Meeting Carmen opened spaces for me in this community that I would never have been able to do myself.” Lopez’s successor in the City Council, Rosie Mendez, was similarly impressed. “She was larger than life, she helped everybody,” Mendez said. “When I moved into this neighborhood in the mid1990s, I was told that Carmen was one of the people I need to meet.” At the entrance to the funeral home, a pair of placards displayed the many awards Pabon received over the years in recognition of her work on behalf of the community. There was a “Viva Loisaida!” Award for “Lifelong Development” from 1986, and certificates of appreciation from groups such as the Grand Street Settlement Seniors Coalition and the L.E.S. Network on Violence Against Women and Children. Such achievements, Lopez noted, were all the more remarkable when you consider that Pabon came to this country with little formal education. “This woman was an environmentalist, a politician, a poet, a humanitarian, a campaigner for women’s rights and the rights of everyone, and she never never give up,” Lopez said. “Her intelligence and her capacity to understand the political issues and their complexity was something else.”
December 29, 2016
PHOTO BY SARAH FERGUSON
Carmen Pabon was known as the “Mother Teresa of the Lower East Side.”
PHOTO BY SARAH FERGUSON
A photo, at right, of Carmen Pabon with her husband, and at left, in later years.
Pabon was born in 1921 in the mountains of Ciales, Puerto Rico — or perhaps it was 1922: She died with two different birth certificates. She came from a poor family and never made it past the eighth grade. “Her mother rolled tobacco for 25 cents a day,” said Pabon’s daughter Bruni Pabon, who is now a professor of education at New York University. “Her mother had to send Carmen’s oldest sister to another family to be raised, because she wasn’t able to care for all of her children.” Carmen married young and had several children before migrating to New York in 1946 — part of that great wave of Puerto Ricans who came here in search of opportunity. She and her family lived first in the Bronx and El Barrio before moving in 1955 to the New York City Housing Authority’s Lillian Wald Houses
on Avenue D. She was a devoted mother, sending her kids to Catholic schools and making sure they came home right away to do their homework. “Even though she was new to this country,” Bruni said, “she managed to navigate the system to maximize whatever the city had to offer for us.” Pabon enrolled Bruni and her siblings in Fresh Air Fund camps for the summer, along with all manner of after-school and enrichment programs. “I became a teacher and now teach teach at N.Y.U. It is because of her,” Bruni told the friends and family gathered for her memorial. “I stand on her shoulders.” “My mother was brave,” concurred her eldest daughter, Minerva Pabon, who is now a health educator. “She allowed me
and my sisters to go out into the world and be successful. She gave that to us. She taught me compassion and respect.” Starting in the 1970s, Carmen began devoting more of her attention to community activism and helping those in need. She founded the garden, El Bello Amanecer, enlisting neighbors to help dig out the rubble and garbage and plant peach trees. They also built a casita, where Pabon served food to the homeless and poor people who would line up in the morning with carts. The garden became a hub for activism and poetry readings — when Pabon recited her own fiery poems. Her children were soon making their own breakfasts as Pabon left early to feed the homeless. “She drove me and my brother crazy because she was always outside feeding people,” said her son Hiram Pabon. Hiram recalled going out with his brother one morning to look for her in the garden, feeling worried because of some of the sketchy characters that congregated there. One of the homeless men helping Pabon took him aside and said: “Don’t you worry about Carmen. Worry about yourself. We got this.” She even brought immigrants and homeless people home with her to bathe and sleep when they had nowhere else to go. “She is like a beacon of light flashing for those who are stranded and lost,” wrote filmmaker Alfredo Irizarry in a 1984 cover story about Pabon for the publication “Loisaida.” PABON continued on p. 11 TheVillager.com
Activist, poet, gardener who helped the poor PABON continued from p. 10
A devoted Catholic, Pabon fought vociferously to save St. Brigid’s Church from destruction, after the Catholic Archdiocese slated it for demolition. “I remember when the wrecking crew was there destroying the church in the summer of 2006,” Mendez said. “Carmen was there with tears in her eyes. She said to me, ‘We’re losing everything — our houses, our gardens and now our churches. It broke my heart and I said, ‘We have to keep fighting. You’ve been fighting all your life.’ ” Both Mendez and Lopez said it was significant that Pabon passed away just two weeks after regaining her beloved El Bello Amanecer Boriqueño (the
Beautiful Puerto Rican Dawn) garden on Avenue C between Seventh and Eighth Sts., which was closed in 2000 after a fractious battle with the developer next door. “It was very poignant that she died at the time when the garden was finished,” Lopez observed. “She held on till the end, and even then, she went to open the garden for everyone once and for all. She accomplished it.” “I think there was a certain amount of healing for her to be able to go back to her garden,” said Mendez, who helped a frail but feisty Pabon cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony on Oct. 26. “She held on for so long, and she was able to go into the garden, and she was really present. I’m really grateful for that.” PHOTO BY SARAH FERGUSON
Carmen’s daughter Nadia — standing with some of her sisters and Carmen’s sister — introduced a Mexican man who Carmen took in to live with them at their apar tment in the Lillian Wald Houses in 2000 when the man, an immigrant, had no where else to live.
PHOTO BY SARAH FERGUSON
Margarita Lopez, right, with Inez Pabon, one of Pabon’s daughters.
PHOTO BY ROBERT STOLARIK
A profile on Carmen Pabon in The Villager in April 14, 1999. Gardens on the Lower East Side and in the East Village and citywide were under threat of being auctioned for development under Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Much of Pabon’s garden, however, was already slated for a development project. After so many years being closed, what was left of her garden was finally opened a few months ago. Pabon was there to join in the ribbon-cutting. TheVillager.com
PHOTO BY SARAH FERGUSON
Chino Garcia of CHAR A S with poet Jane Fuentes at Carmen Pabon’s wake. December 29, 2016
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Nice going, M.T.A.!
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To The Editor: Why does the Second Ave. subway have an antiSemitic mural? One would have to assume a massive degree of historical and social ignorance on the part of the artist to believe this image was innocently invented. Likewise with the M.T.A., which had to preapprove the art. People who create conceptual art start with a concept, and the concept here is unquestionably anti-Semitic. A Jew clutching a globe is one of the oldest antiSemitic memes, dating back at least to czarist Russia. Why does the politically correct to an absurd fault de Blasio administration promote anti-Semitic art in a public forum? Robert Lederman, Lederman is president of A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists’ Response to Illegal State Tactics)
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These trying Trump times To The Editor: Re “Nadler: We have to fight, snap out of Trump funk” (news article, Dec. 22): Terrific article...a great summary of a remarkable event. Trying times, well described. Good job, Lincoln Anderson! Diane Lebedeff
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To The Editor: Re “C.B. 3, Mendez: Let us vet affordable co-op plan” (news article, Dec. 22): Lesley Sussman writes a fair article but many things are left unknown or unsaid. Nobody, but nobody can understand the hard physical labor and the expenses involved in rescuing an unsafe city-owned building abandoned by the landlord. This so-called “gift” — the $250 sale price — is astounding if you don’t consider what the real cost to the shareholders has been in terms of the amount of their life spent in the building, cleaning out debris and repairing it brick by brick, beam by beam, hauling sand and concrete, lumber, sheet rock, etc. There are years of applications, meetings and discussions, city approvals (partially paid for by the city to mostly incompetent architects, system contractors
and / or other experts) required to bring the building up to legal habitability. For 30 years, the city turned its back on these buildings, did not respond to the ones in trouble, gave no help or guidance. But when a report on affordable housing was due — bingo, we were it. Developers just plop down their dollars and receive tax abatements and funding, and supply a few so-called moderate-income housing units for limited years. Deed restrictions miraculously disappear and the buildings are sold for millions. Profit. Profit. Profit. H.D.F.C. buildings are not created for profit, but for the stability of families that will pass them on, like any other house a family purchases. The last insult carried out at the Community Board 3 full board meeting vote was the requirement that community board members of H.D.F.C.’s were required to vote “present not voting,” totally negating their votes. Meanwhile, employees of the various housing groups seeking perpetual funding as future managers of these H.D.F.C. buildings were allowed to vote. Susan Leelike
Stinging critique To The Editor: Re “Scorpion bite? Don’t bug out!” (Lenore Skenazy, Dec. 15): I have a house in Nevada and scorpions are not so benign — especially in Nevada. According to the Mayo Clinic, among others, scorpion stings — although painful — are mostly harmless. But worldwide, about 30 of the estimated 1,500 species of scorpions can inflict potentially fatal stings. In the United States, the bark scorpion, found mainly in the desert Southwest, has venom potent enough to cause severe symptoms. Funny topic for New York. Alex Smythe
Umm...not a fan To The Editor: Re “Close Encounters of N.Y.U. Kind: Massive Mercer design revealed” (news article, Dec. 15): Monstrous and ugly. It will transform that part of the Village and make it post-post-modern institutionLETTERS continued on p. 23
Yes, yuuuge — but how?! 12
December 29, 2016
Post-election fears and the Dawn of The Donald
NOTEBOOK BY CANDY SCHULMAN
y husband thinks we should stash some cash at home,” Gabrielle tells me, momentarily smiling at her impromptu rhyme. “In case the entire grid melts down.” We are two college professors out to dinner in the West Village after teaching our writing classes. We meet once a semester, sharing strategies to help struggling students. We also discuss politics — but not like this. “I asked my husband: how much cash is enough?” Gabrielle continues. “A thousand? Five? Ten thousand? We’re not well off, but we could rustle up 10,000. Ever since our house was robbed, I’m nervous about keeping cash around.” “What grid?” I nervously inquire, draining my wine glass. “Electrical, banking, everything. They’re all tied together. We’d need money if we have to flee. I know it sounds crazy.” I lived through 9/11. A mile north of Ground Zero, I slept in my living room for weeks because the fumes were slightly less intense than in my own bed. Right afterward, I felt sealed in, bridges and tunnels closed. No one could “flee,” except by foot or boat. My daughter was 8, and another mother at her school had a contingency plan: She’d steal a shopping cart from the local grocery store, put her two children inside, and wheel them to safety. Sounded crazy. Just like the grid melting down. My colleague Gabrielle is usually a rational thinker, concerned with the clarity and organization of a five-paragraph essay. Now she is scaring the hell out of me. Not that I’ve been calm since the election. On Nov. 8, I posted a Facebook selfie of my 22-year-old daughter and me outside the voting booth, with the caption: “Voting for the First Woman President.” We saw “Hamilton” that night, tickets I’d purchased eight months before, believing it would be fun to hip hop through the birth of our country and open champagne afterward to toast Hillary. At intermission the couple next to us perused the results on their phone. I leaned over and astonishingly asked, “Trump’s winning?” “It’s early yet,” my seat neighbor reassured me. The next morning my daughter’s friends texted each other to rush and get IUD’s — while they still could. I’ve lived through campaigns and presidents I didn’t agree with, but I never felt this kind of gripping fear, the threat of the demise of democracy as we know it. Students e-mailed me with messages: “I can’t get out of bed to come to class. Too devastated.” And here I am, listening to Gabrielle’s TheVillager.com
emergency plan. “I’ve had a bag packed since 9/11,” she says. “With iodine pills. Remember how we were supposed to pack iodine pills? In case of…I’m sure my iodine pills are expired by now.” I never packed a bag after 9/11. I didn’t duct tape my windows, as some neighbors did. Is cash now more important than a getaway bag? My late mother, raised in an orphanage during the Depression, often warned me, “Keep cash under the mattress. Just in case.” After she died, I emptied her safe deposit box, and found 10 crisp $100 bills in an envelope. Just in case. Although I’m not rushing to stash $10,000 in small bills under my mattress, I do receive alarming late-night texts from friends: “All these military appointments. There’s going to be a coup. I’m sick to my stomach.” What kind of coup? I ask her to explain. “Who knows?” In some ways life is normal, even if this is the new normal since the new normal
after 9/11. My alarm rings, I get dressed. I praise students who diligently hand in final papers, and listen to the excuses of latecomers. After 9/11 my students were
Is cash now more important than a getaway bag?
on edge; every noise made them jump, even if it was a trash can being emptied in the hall. Now they sink into their metal desk chairs, more subdued than usual. I glance at the dispirited gay and trans students in my class, knowing how open they’ve felt expressing themselves in prose. A Jewish Mexican student informs me she’s leaving early to visit her family back home, and all I can think about is
that Wall. A homeless black student is arrested walking home from the library at 1 a.m. just because of his skin color and hoodie. An exchange student from Saudi Arabia writes about changing her clothes on the plane back home from Western dress to Eastern. It is the end of another semester, but not just any semester. What message should I impart before they disperse for a new year unlike any other? “More than ever, our written voices are important,” I urge my students. “Writers must express outrage and enact change.” On the blackboard I write a quote from Bertolt Brecht: “In the dark times, will there also be singing? Yes, there will also be singing. About the dark times.” Will I be added to the conservative “watch list” of professors who “advance liberal propaganda?” Another crazy idea that’s not so crazy. Walking home, I keep looking over my shoulder. For what, I’m not sure. But just in case. Shulman is member of the writing faculty at The New School
PHOTO BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL
Anti-Trump protesters held a die-in in Union Square Sunday after his tweets about starting a nuclear arms race.
Trump’s nuke-race tweets really bomb BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL
t wasn’t a happy holiday for a group of demonstrators who staged a die-in on Christmas day to protest Presidentelect Donald Trump’s recent comments on escalating the nuclear arms race. Chanting, “No nukes! No Trump! No fascist 2017!” they dropped to the ground in front of the remnants of the Union Square Holiday Market on Sunday afternoon, causing strollers to stop at the
sight of prone bodies amidst the holiday displays. “This is a disaster for humanity that someone has been elected who is very gung-ho about the use of nuclear weapons,” said activist Noche Diaz. “This has to be stopped. In the name of humanity, people can’t wait and see what a fascist demagogue who has his finger on the nuclear button and hands on power over society is going to do with that.” In a series of tweets just days before
Christmas, Trump unexpectedly declared the U.S. “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability.” After several minutes, the group rose from the sidewalk and engaged in conversations with passersby. There were no arrests. A similar action was scheduled for later Sunday afternoon in San Francisco. The local action was organized by the NYC Revolution Club in coordination with RefuseFascism.org. December 29, 2016
Singer stretches Adelphi lease with yoga studio LOBBYIST continued from p. 6
Critics call this a “right of first refusal,” and say it also violates the original intent of the Dorm Rule. The building might be known as “University Square,” although it could be another name, the lease notes. The new proposed use for the building, known as a “Schedule A,” that is actually listed on the D.O.B. Web site, differs a bit from the lease. Currently, it lists 82 dorm rooms for Adelphi: 41 rooms apiece on the building’s second and fourth — but not third — floors. The third floor instead is listed only as “Yoga studio for Adelphi University.” A dance instruction studio formerly planned for Joffrey Ballet on the fourth floor is listed as “Delete” — which might indicate it’s no longer part of the plan. There is no use listed for the first and fifth floors, and there is only a 1,000-square-foot storage room for 113 bicycles listed for the basement. A note at the bottom of this outline of uses states that space currently not under contract for any tenants in the plan includes 32 sleeping rooms on the fifth floor and 17 on the fifth-floor mezzanine, plus vacant spaces in the basement, on the first floor, fourth floor, fifth floor and fifth-floor mezzanine. These spaces “shall not be occupied unless the [certificate of occupancy] is amended and a lease from a school [and
VILLAGER FILE PHOTO
The old P.S. 64, the former CHAR A S / El Bohio Cultural and Communit y Center, has sat vacant for about 15 years. Developer Gregg Singer plans to create a dorm there.
/ or] nonprofit entity and a restrictive declaration are provided.” Berman was leery of the yoga studio being listed for the third floor, charging that it’s not an allowable use under the Dorm Rule. Plus, there’s no indication about how small or large this purported yoga studio would even be. “A lot of space is still listed as vacant,” the preservationist said dismis-
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December 29, 2016
sively of the building’s current plan. “It doesn’t even look as if they have half of the building accounted for. We don’t feel they legally have the occupancy” — meaning to get a certificate of occupancy from the city. Regarding the nebulous yoga space, Berman said, “Nothing against yoga. We’re not saying students shouldn’t have yoga. It’s about whether they’ve fulfilled the requirements for occupancy for dormitory space. “They keep trying to find some institution that they can claim puts all the pieces in place,” Berman said, skeptically. The previous leases with The Cooper Union and Joffrey Ballet didn’t pass muster. Just like the Adelphi lease, The Cooper Union lease was also structured to give the school a “right of first refusal” on 200 dorm beds at 605 E. Ninth St. — but that’s not the same as committing to a 10-year lease, Berman noted. “This is the same dorm-for-hire scam Singer has been trying to run for years,” the activist said. Meanwhile, the application for Joffrey Ballet included “misinformation” that disqualified it, according to D.O.B. More to the point, under the original Dorm Rule, according to Berman, work cannot be done inside the building anywhere until basically every inch of space is accounted for in a lease or leases. So, the fact that three floors currently are unleased while another is vaguely described as a yoga studio of indeterminate size would mean, under the original Dorm Rule, no interior construction work could currently be done. Councilmember Rosie Mendez reported that, after the new ruling became known, she met about the issue with Jon Paul Lupo, director of the Mayor’s Office of City Legislative Affairs. “I told him that this decision by D.O.B. back in May was contrary to their own rule,” she said. “And they
said, ‘If it’s contrary to the rules and to the law, then the Department of Buildings can’t do it.’” In addition, in October, Borough President Gale Brewer sent a letter — co-signed by Mendez, state Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh — to Rick Chandler, the D.O.B. commissioner, asking that the new ruling be rescinded. However, Mendez said Brewer did not get a response. So Mendez is going to write to the Mayor’s Office of City Legislative Affairs and also follow up with them, as well, she said. “That was a verbal, that was in a meeting,” Mendez said of Lupo’s assurances to her, indicating that she wants to see something solid in writing. “I will do whatever is necessary to enforce the rules,” Mendez vowed. However, a spokesperson for 9th & 10th L.L.C. said that Berman, Brewer, Mendez and the other opponents are all off base, and that there has been no change to the Dorm Rule. “There is no new modified rule,” he said. “The rule hasn’t changed since it was adopted and it has always included provision for a lease for part of a building. If anyone is trying to change something, it’s the elected officials who would like the city to change the deed restriction from ‘community facility as defined in the Zoning Resolution…’ to community benefit or community amenity, but that’s not what the deed says.” (Told this response, Berman explained that the spokesperson was apparently referring to the effort to get a community center back in the building.) “A part of a building is being leased for at least 10 years by an accredited school for students. That’s a dorm under the Dorm Rule,” the 9th & 10th L.L.C. spokesperson asserted. “The floors not rented by Adelphi — or some other qualified use — will be left vacant,” he added. “Although I expect that once construction is underway, the rest will get rented before it opens. And in case whomever is feeding this to you says that this could be violated, no certificate of occupancy will be issued until the entire building is rented, with temporary C of O’s renewed every couple of months by the borough commissioner — which means inspections whenever D.O.B. wants.” As far as the yoga room, the developers’ spokesperson maintained, it’s a legally permitted “accessory use” to the principal use. The spokesperson confirmed that both The Cooper Union and Joffrey are no longer part of the plan. Meanwhile, asked for clarification of the reported weakening of the Dorm Rule, a D.O.B. spokesperson flatly denied there has been any change. “D.O.B. issued no such ruling,” he said. “Under the city’s Zoning Resolution, college or student dormitories are a community-facility use.” TheVillager.com
From oddballs to Oscar bait 2016’s best ﬁlms, unranked and unmissable BY SEAN EGAN While most of us are on the same page — we can’t wait to see the back of 2016 — this year’s movies will surely be looked back at more fondly. Whether reflecting our cultural climate or providing escapism, forging new trails or looking to the past, filmmakers ensured that going to the theater remained one of the few bright spots of a dark year. Below is a roundup of some the year’s finest offerings, unranked, but loosely grouped — because haven’t we all had enough of divisive debating for one year? These are the films that helped make 2016 worth it; hopefully revisiting them will help to make 2017 a little bit better too.
DARING NEW NARRATIVES Spanning decades and employing three actors to play its protagonist, Barry Jenkins’ soulful “Moonlight” follows the life of Chiron, a gay, black Miami man, as he grows up and grapples with who he is, and his place in a world stacked against him. Full of evocative imagery, masterfully naturalistic performances, and carefully observed relationship dynamics, it’s easy to say it’s movie “about” a lot of things: identity, poverty, toxic masculinity — take your pick. But above all else, it’s about Chiron; the boy, teen, and eventual man at its center. While the details of his story may not match your own, the emotions ring poignantly, deeply true, becoming universal in their specificity. Sure, a plot synopsis of “Swiss Army Man” — a movie where a shipwrecked Paul Dano uses the magical farts and erections of Daniel Radcliffe’s reanimated corpse to survive the wilderness — reads like a foulmouthed 12-year-old filled out a Mad Libs. But directing duo Daniels make damn sure they’re offering the most conceptually ambitious, thematically resonant fart jokes ever committed to film. As the movie tracks the two leads’ blossoming friendship, they mix humor so low it doesn’t even have a brow with resonant ideas about shame, love, and (of course) what it means to be human. Daniels’ confident direction ensures the movie doesn’t just avoid the dangerous tonal pitfalls twee-r indies fall prey to, but actively flips them off while speeding along its own bold, surprisingly moving path. In short, it’s the year’s most unexpected, original, idiosyncratic triumph.
The young Chiron experiences a symbolic rebirth, in the beautiful “Moonlight.”
AUTEURS AT IT AGAIN Jim Jarmusch goes refreshingly small-scale in “Paterson,” which follows a week in the life of Adam Driver’s titular bus driver, going about life in the (also) titular New Jersey city. It’s a gentle movie, whose small pleasures (both narrative and aesthetic) accumulate to produce a quietly powerful portrait of an everyman, and a stirring treatise on creativity. Forever zagging when expected to zig, the Coen TheVillager.com
Scarlett Johansson in a Busby Berkley-inspired sequence from “Hail, Caesar!”
Brothers’ “Hail, Caesar!” lets loose a veritable who’s who ensemble on a fictional 1950s Hollywood soundstage, running through meticulously crafted, imminently quotable vignettes that imitate golden-age mov-
ies — from westerns to stiff-lipped dramas to lively (and hilariously homoerotic) musicals. It might be the BEST FILMS continued on p. 16 December 29, 2016
BEST FILMS continued from p. 15
notoriously mercurial brothers’ lightest and brightest film to date, but don’t mistake that for lack of substance. Squint just beyond the old school razzle-dazzle and you’ll be rewarded with a parable on religious faith as meaty as it is absurdist. After the triumph of 2014’s “Boyhood,” Richard Linklater took a victory lap this year with “Everybody Wants Some!!” — an ’80s-set college baseball comedy. In his oeuvre, it might be in the minor leagues, but it’s been a while since he’s turned his unobtrusively accomplished direction and plainspoken, poetic writing to material this addictively fun and deceptively deep. For movie lovers, that’s an achievement worth celebrating in and of itself.
MUSICAL MOVIES Right from its title cards, the joyous “La La Land” announces itself as a modern spin on the Technicolor studio-era musicals of yore. Every candycolored frame is a delight, enhanced by long takes where the camera dips and weaves around energetically choreographed song-and-dance numbers. It manages, however, to elevate itself beyond mere nostalgic curio, as underneath the (substantial) surface-level pleasures, writer/director Damien Chazelle digs into his pet themes, considering the push/pull of art and commerce, reality and dreams — all while skewering modern Hollywood culture and hoary romantic tropes. In lieu of doing a press tour, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds invited director Andrew Dominik to document the recording of “Skeleton Tree” — a powerful album produced in the aftermath of the tragic death of Cave’s 15-year-old son. The result: “One More Time with Feeling.” Shot in the alluring combo of state-of-the-art 3D and charcoal-smeared black and white, it’s a haunting meditation on grief, rendered more gut-wrenching because of the broken, all-too-human icon at its center. The music, beautiful and damaged, is the only thing that cuts through the fog of loss with any clarity. A scrappy Irish import from “Once” creator John Carney, “Sing Street” tracks a teen discovering his musical gifts, and using them as an escape from the often overwhelming issues he experiences at home and at school. Perfectly capturing the giddy highs and precipitous lows of adolescence, and boasting an infectious collection of ’80s-tinged original songs, it’s a heartfelt gem.
December 29, 2016
Via Summit Entertainment
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star in the super-saturated musical “La La Land.”
Via Magnolia Pictures
The South Korean period piece/romantic drama “The Handmaiden” stuns with its twists.
FEMALE-FRONTED FOREIGN FILMS To say that Paul Verhoeven’s “Elle” isn’t to everyone’s tastes would be a dramatic understatement — it opens, after all, with a viscerally upsetting rape scene. But those who trust in the veteran Dutch director’s mastery of tone are in for the best character study of the year; a blackly comic tale that tackles its difficult subject matter with mature nuance. Anchored by Isabelle Huppert’s prickly
powerhouse performance, it’s a film that refuses to give viewers any easy outs (or answers), and is all the more rewarding for it. The greatest asset of “The Handmaiden,” Park Chan-wook’s recursive lesbian romantic drama, isn’t the fluid, precise camerawork, nor the sumptuous colors, nor the expertly delivered performances. No, it’s the narrative twists. In Chan-wook’s hands the twist, so often the crutch of lazy directors grasping for profundity, is used not
just to shock and induce adrenaline, but to genuinely enrich both the filmmaking on display and the story’s already-strong emotional core. It’s a sensual, suspenseful, stone-cold masterpiece.
ONLY IN AMERICA Yes, Andrea Arnold’s “American Honey” captures a poor, suburban American milieu often ignored by blockBEST FILMS continued on p. 17 TheVillager.com
BEST FILMS continued from p. 16
busters and indies alike. More importantly, though, she uses this backdrop to create a sprawling, not-quite-coming-of-age road trip movie that bustles with immediacy and poetic grace notes. Arnold sketches characters sharply and nonchalantly through Linklateresque conversation; her full-screen cinematography approximates an Instagram account run by Terrence Malick. Just hop in the van, and take a hit — I guarantee you’ll like where it goes. Everything about “Hell or High Water” is informed by the economic strife facing rural, southern America — but the timeliness of this dusty, Texasset neo-Western doesn’t overshadow its invigorating cops-and-robbers story. The archetypical narrative is populated with colorful, well-drawn characters; even the most minor roles feel perceptively real and lived-in. It’s thanks, no doubt, to Taylor Sheridan’s effortless screenplay, which the actors (most notably Jeff Bridges) chew on like so much tobacco, and spit out with rough-hewn grace. Unfortunately for the country, “Green Room,” a punk rockers vs. Neo-Nazi flick, has only become more prescient since its April release. Fortunately for cinema, however, director Jeremy Saulnier’s crafted a genuine whiteknuckle thriller that expertly taps into our cultural anxieties for maximum tension. Saulnier isn’t afraid to off his characters brutally, but unlike many others, he’s also not afraid to invest time on character development and examining moral ambiguity — which, combined with its DIY attitude, makes the movie an instant classic.
Donnie Yen does battle against stormtroopers as Chirrut Imwe in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
TO FEED THE NEEDS OF GENRE JUNKIES At a certain point watching “Arrival” — which follows a linguist deciphering the language of extraterrestrial visitors — you’ll realize that director Denis Villeneuve has been subtly toying with film grammar the whole time. It’s then you’ll understand that you’re not just watching an exceptionally smart and inventive sci-fi movie, but an exceptionally emotional and humanistic one, too. Visionary madman Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of JG Ballard’s dystopian sci-fi novel, “High-Rise” is a bonkers, blood-soaked tale of class warfare and societal collapse, laced with deadpan dark humor and gorgeous, nightmarish visuals — all scored to ABBA, natch. Catch it, in all its hyper-stylized glory, before its inevitable (and well-deserved) cult status is cemented. A belated entry in the burgeoning TheVillager.com
Via The Weinstein Company
The boys are back in town: The titular teenage band from “Sing Street.”
“Cloverfield” franchise, “10 Cloverfield Lane” is a survival bunker-set chamber thriller, featuring career-high performances from John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Honestly, that’s about all you want to know going in, in order to let this tense, twisty little movie work its charms. The follow-up to last year’s “Buzzard,” “The Alchemist Cookbook” secures Joel Potrykus’ rep as both craftsman extraordinaire of engrossing (or maybe just gross) eating scenes, and as one of the most interesting indie auteurs working today. This strange brew of about a half dozen subgenres — psychological horror chief amongst them — Potrykus proves that even the lowest of budgets can’t hold back his skewed,
unclassifiable vision from being hysterical (in all senses of the word) and
effectively unsettling. Like its heroes, “Rouge One: A Star Wars Story” often feels like the orphaned underdog of the “Star Wars” franchise — and that’s a good thing. It digs deeper and darker than any of its predecessors (yes, even “Empire”), culminating in a stunner of a third act that unflinchingly drags the space opera down to ground level. And finally, with “The Neon Demon” Nicolas Winding Refn continued to playfully gussy up pulpy genre material with auteurist flourishes, daring viewers to cry foul. This particular fashion industry satire/horror flick plays out a lot like if David Lynch directed a Sephora commercial on Xanax, and employed a sentient box of crayons as cinematographer. Oh, and also Keanu Reeves is there. Somehow containing zero subtext, while also being nothing but subtext, it’s a garish, gory, Grand Guignol experience.
Theater for the New City • 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net
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ACCOUNTING PROCEEDING FILE NO. 2016-340/A CITATION THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK TO: Unknown Distributees Attorney General of the State of New York Isabel Peters, a/k/a Isabella Peters Dolores Matthews David â€œDoeâ€? Robert â€œDoeâ€? To Isabel Peters, a/k/a Isabella Peters, Dolores Matthews, David â€œDoeâ€? and Robert â€œDoeâ€?, being the alleged siblings of Bessie Mullings, a/k/a Bessie C. Mullings, whose whereabouts are unknown, if living, and if they died subsequent to the decedent herein, to their executors, administrators, legatees, devisees, assignees and successors in interest whose names and places of residence are unknown; and to the heirs at law, next of kin and distributees of Bessie Mullings, a/k/a Bessie C. Mullings, the decedent herein, if living and if any of them be dead, to their heirs at law, next of kin, distributees, legatees, executors, administrators, assignees and successors in interest whose names and places of residence are unknown and cannot, after diligent inquiry, be ascertained by the petitioner herein; being the persons interested as creditors, legatees, devisees, beneficiaries, distributees, or otherwise in the estate of Bessie Mullings, a/k/a Bessie C. Mullings, deceased, who at the time of her death was resident of 66 Saint Nicholas Place, New York, New York 10032. A petition having been duly filed by the Public Administrator of the County of New York, who maintains an office at 31 Chambers Street, Room 311, New York, New York 10007. YOU ARE HEREBY CITED TO SHOW CAUSE before the New York County Surrogateâ€™s Court at 31 Chambers Street, New York, New York, on January 31, 2017 at 9:30 A.M. in Room 503, why the following relief stated in the account of proceedings, a copy of the summary statement thereof being attached hereto, of the Public Administrator of the County of New York as administrator of the goods, chattels and credits of said deceased, should not be granted: (i) that her account be judicially settled; (ii) that the Surrogate approve the reasonable amount of compensation as reported in Schedules C and C-1 of the account of proceedings to the attorney for the petitioner for legal services rendered to the petitioner herein; (iii) that a hearing be held to determine the identity of the distributees at which time proof pursuant to SCPA Section 2225 may be presented, or in the alternative, that the balance of the funds due to the decedentâ€™s distributees be deposited with the Commissioner of Finance of the City of New York for the benefit of the decedentâ€™s unknown distributees; (iv) that the persons above mentioned and all necessary and proper persons be cited to show causes why such relief should not be granted; (v) that an order be granted pursuant to SCPA Section 307 where required or directed; and (vi) for such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper. Dated, Attested and Sealed. December 8th, 2016, (Seal) Hon. Nora S. Anderson, Surrogate. Diana Sanabria, Chief Clerk. Schram Graber & Opell P.C. Counsel to the Public Administrator, New York County 11 Park Place, Suite 615 New York, NY 10007 (212) 896-3310 Note: This citation is served upon you as required by law. You are not required to appear. If you fail to appear it will be assumed that you do not object to the relief requested. You have the right to have an attorney-at-law appear for you and you or your attorney may request a copy of the full account from the petitioner or petitionerâ€™s attorney.
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Rivington House buyer ripped us off FRAUD continued from p. 1
the government. The Allure Group bought the former Lower East Side AIDS facility, at the corner of Rivington and Forsyth Sts., from its longtime operator, VillageCare, in 2014 for $28 million with the understanding it would become a for-profit nursing home. Rivington House had a deed restriction on the property that stipulated it must be used as a nonprofit healthcare facility. In order to lift that restriction, the Allure Group had to pay the city a percentage of the property’s value. The Allure Group allegedly planned to fl ip the property to a luxury developer for $116 million, but concealed this knowledge, so that the property value was underestimated at $64 million, therefore lowering its payment to the city. The Allure Group paid the city 25 percent of that figure, or $16 million, to lift the restriction, then went ahead and sold the building to Slate Property Group for the aforementioned sum, turning a $72 million profit and robbing the neighborhood of a longtime community care facility. Critics say the city was either aware of Allure’s plans or negligently missed key signifiers that it would happen. City government representatives, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, refuted that notion and said that Allure hid their intentions. If the state sues under the False Claims Act, it will be with the understanding that Allure knowingly misled the city government, Squadron said. “It is critical that people who mislead the government are held accountable, and the False Claims Act is a good way to do that,” the state senator said. “It’s been repeatedly said that the city was mislead, so I hope that they do pursue a False Claims Act if it is merited.” If found to have violated the False Claims Act, the Allure Group could be liable to pay three times the amount of the damages that the city sustained because of the fraud, plus civil penalties between $6,000 and $12,000 for each individual violation of the act. Clearly, the figure could be high, in the millions. It wasn’t clear, though, if it could be up to $48 million — based on the 25 percent “fl ip tax” calculation on the $64 million underestimation of the property’s value that the city did not receive. Squadron’s office did not immediately provide an answer on what the possible fi ne might look like. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office would not comment on Squadron’s letter. The A.G. currently has an ongoing wider ongoing investigation into the property’s sale,
December 29, 2016
VILLAGER FILE PHOTO
At a protest in early April outside Rivington House, Cit y Councilmember Margaret Chin, speaking above, joined Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, state Senator Daniel Squadron and other local elected leaders and communit y members in condemning the proper ty’s stealth sale to a luxur y residential developer. The shady deal — which involved the quiet lifting of deed restrictions — had been exposed two weeks earlier.
in which the office has said it was misled. The office claimed it had no knowledge Allure Group sought to lift its deed restriction when it was required by state law to sign off on the sale in 2014. False Claims Act cases, in which, generally, individual whistleblowers with nonpublic information bring information to the state or federal government, are common. One attorney who handles such cases, Rachel Geman, notes that the increase in F.C.A. litigation in recent years has a number of explanations. Those include relatively recent amendments to the False Claims Act; the push over the last decade or so for states to enact their own broad False Claims Acts (and New York has an extremely robust law);
greater legal protections for whistleblowers who face retaliation; greater willingness of nongovernment plaintiffs to litigate even when the government chooses not to; and the success of very high-profi le cases involving massive fraud settled or tried by the government and private whistleblowers, she said. “People with nonpublic information involving fraud on the State of New York, or any city in the state, can bring claims under the whistleblower provisions of the robust New York False Claims Act,” said Geman, a partner at Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann and Bernstein. “The New York False Claims Act, while only about a decade old, has proved to FRAUD continued on p. 23 TheVillager.com
big time, should pay big ﬁne: Senator Squadron says FRAUD continued from p. 22
be an important fraud-fighting tool, and many cases are filed under it.” Many community members and local politicians want the city to some how find a way to reverse the sale and put Rivington House back either in public hands or in the hands of a developer that would develop it as a healthcare facility. K Webster, a local activist and Community Board 3 member, helps run the Neighbors to Help Save Rivington House group. She believes a successful False Claims Act suit would “strengthen the cause.” And, while it may be a long shot, Webster believes it is possible to reverse the sale. “The divine rights of kings were once considered immutable. I think if they could return it to the community, it might be a nice PR move for them,” she said, speaking of Slate Property Group. Last week a new law sponsored by Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilmember Margaret Chin was signed into effect by Mayor Bill de Blasio, instituting stronger requirements — including public
review — for changes on deed restrictions on city-owned properties. “The process includes obtaining appraisals, seeking public input and conducting an extensive review prior to approving any change,” a written statement from the Mayor’s Office said. “Under the new process, requests will also be reviewed by a committee, as well as the mayor or the mayor’s designee, for a final determination as to whether the modification or removal is appropriate and furthers the best interests of the city.” Specifically, the law will require the city to construct and maintain an online, public, searchable database of any properties with deed restrictions since 1966. In addition, notification will have to be given to the local councilmember, community board and borough president of any deed-restriction removal request in their district. Also under the new law, detailed standards and procedures will be set forth for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services to follow when a property owner requests that a deed restriction be
Scoopy’s Notebook SCOOPY continued from p. 2
President David Archambault II has told the protesters to vacate the camp — what is it with these tribal leaders? — by Jan. 1, but Bourgeois and his band say they won’t be leaving. “He’s a traitor,” Bourgeois spat bitterly.
MAY THE PEPPERONI BE WITH YOU: In honor of Carrie Fisher, Champion Pizza, on Cleveland Place in Petrosino Square in Nolita, is offering free slices through this Friday to anyone who comes in wearing “Star Wars” garb. They’re expecting to give away 10,000 slices, the Daily News reports. “Owner
Hakki Akdeniz, 36, recalled serving Fisher a margherita pizza back in 2005 while he was working at a pizzeria in Times Square,” the News said. “He felt the need to recognize her death by harkening back to their lone encounter in life. ... Akdeniz, a native of Turkey, recalled learning to speak English by watching Fisher in the original movie trilogy.” Fisher died Tuesday at age 60 after suffering a heart attack on a plane to Los Angeles. To any Chewbaccas, Princess Leias, Darth Vaders or Jabba the Hutts planning to partake of the free ’za, remember — Petrosino Square is a small area, be respectful! The area is already oversaturated with bars, not to mention a Citi Bike rack some don’t like
Letters to The Editor LETTERS continued from p. 12
al, nondescript and fugly. Donnie Moder
More ‘write stuff’ To The Editor: Re “Westbeth has write stuff to deal with this mess” (news article, Dec. 15): As a resident of Westbeth, I want to clarify that the majority of apartments are rent-stabilized, not Section 8. Also, the reporter forgot to mention the “Write Now” event was a fundraisTheVillager.com
er for several charities. People were encouraged to make a donation, to toss a dollar into one of the jars, for each postit note they put on the gallery walls. Kate Walter E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager. com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.
modified or removed. Furthermore, the Department of City Planning will be given a formal advisory role in DCAS’s consideration of deedrestriction modification requests, ensuring land-use decisions are made based on input from the city’s primary land-use agency. Also, it will be required that three separate entities — DCAS, a specially formed committee and the mayor — will all independently review a request before a restriction can be lifted. The law will also require that a list of factors be assessed to determine whether the request furthers the best interests of the city, including the potential impact of the request on the neighborhood, the availability of community-based services and affordable housing. Finally, the mayor will be required to sign off personally on any deed-restriction removal request. “Our city is not a playground for powerful real estate interests,” Chin said. “Every transaction that involves properties set aside for the good of the people of our
city, such as Rivington House, needs to be subject to the greatest amount of public input, transparency and accountability as possible. Our legislation...achieves that goal. Today we are united with a simple message: No more Rivington Houses, not on this mayor’s, or any other mayor’s watch. I am proud to join Borough President Brewer and Council Speaker MarkViverito in solidarity with the Lower East Side residents who woke up one morning to find a cherished, community asset taken from them.” Added Brewer, “Our city government failed when it did not protect Rivington House. When government screws up, it’s our first job to figure out why and make sure it cannot happen again. Today’s legislation is a strong reform package that addresses the key failures that led to the loss of Rivington House, and sets new standards for transparency, so for the first time, we’ll know where all these deed restrictions are and what they’re protecting, and gives its reforms the permanence of law, so they can’t be undone in future administrations.”
very much, either. And coming soon will be a new take-out place at 62 Spring St., where Spring Street Natural used to be, whose customers will probably flood Petrosino Park. ... To the Friends of Petrosino Square’s chagrin, Community Board 2 last week approved a beer-and-wine
license for the new takeout place, but not before one board member sneered of the Friends, “They’re against everything.” Ouch! C’mon people, do we have to bring in Yoda — or his spirit, depending on which movie we’re talking about — to mediate here? Let’s work it out!
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