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

January 19, 2017 • $1.00 Volume 87 • Number 3

‘Unbelievably progressive’ Stuy Towner is charging ‘Onward’ in bid vs. Blaz By Dennis Lynch

M

ayor Bill De Blasio is running for re-election this November and one man challenging him is Democrat — or Obamacrat, as he describes himself — and Stuyvesant Town resident Josh Thompson. Thompson, 31, grew up in a low-income household in Newark and “at moments struggled

to have a home,” before attending a Catholic boarding school there. His career has orbited around education. First he worked for the Jackie Robinson Foundation in New York. Then, after graduating college, he worked for thenNewark Mayor Cory Booker. He moved on to work for the city of Washington, D.C., and then as director of education Thompson continued on p. 23

L.P.C. mocks new ‘Marriott’ design for 11 Jane building BY DENNIS LYNCH

T

he Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday did not approve a revised application for a multiunit apartment building for 11 Jane St. in the Greenwich Village Historic District, taking issue with the design’s sliding doors, unadorned facade and overall hotel-like appearance. The revised six-story design is similar in scale to the previous proposal from July, but fea-

tured a brick facade instead of the glass-and-concrete facade in the original proposal that was extremely unpopular with neighbors and local preservationists. The new design is 85 feet tall, 10 feet shorter than the first proposal. L.P.C. commissioners called architect David Chipperfield’s new design an improvement that spoke better to the residential character of the building, but decided that jane continued on p. 3

Photo by tequila Minsky

Pink pussyhats are all the rage for showing outrage with Donald Trump and his misogynistic statements. See Page 4 for ar ticle and photos.

Nadler, Velaz snub Trump inauguration By Lincoln Anderson

T

wo of the three congressmembers in The Villager’s coverage area have chosen to boycott Friday’s presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. They’re not alone. They’ll be joining more than 50 other representatives who are shunning the swearing-in ceremony for Donald Trump. Congressmembers Jerrold

Nadler and Nydia Velazquez said they won’t be going. But Carolyn Maloney said she will. Other New York members of the House who reportedly also are snubbing The Donald include Upper Manhattan’s Adriano Epspaillat, Brooklyn’s Yvette Clarke and Queens’ Grace Meng. Velazquez issued a lengthy statement to The Villager outlining her copious reasons for

not attending the quadrennial affair. “Given the tone of the Trump campaign, I did not think it appropriate to attend,” she said. “This is someone who has insulted Mexicans, calling them ‘rapists,’ mocked a reporter with a disability, made profoundly offensive remarks about women, and used divisive, hateful rhetoric snub continued on p. 20

TransAlt: Bikes will save us on 14th St.�������������p. 7 Heaven can wait: Warren Allen Smith, 95����������p. 8 PEN proactive protest.............p. 6

www.TheVillager.com


Chin challenger: Showing that he means serious business in his challenge to incumbent Margaret Chin, Christopher Marte this week announced

that he has raised $81,245 for his first filing deadline. Of that amount, $22, 313 was raised from private funds, with the rest coming from the city’s matching program. Most of his cash was collected in the past two weeks, with two-thirds of the donations coming from within Lower Manhattan’s Council District 1. “This demonstrates the support the district has already invested in a lifelong neighbor who has been an outspoken advocate for community issues for years,” the young activist said. In his press release, Marte also included two pie charts, showing breakdowns of “donor by occupation” and “raised amount by occupation.” We don’t see any contributions from the real estate industry on them.

Al’s O.K.: Former longtime Villager reporter Albert Amateau — a.k.a. “The Dean of Community Journalism” — had a scare recently while jogging at the McBurney YMCA on W. 14th St. He felt chest pains, so stopped running and decided to finish off his workout with some weightlifting and stretching. But as he was getting dressed afterward, he began to feel worse, and asked for help. E.M.S. responded and took him to the nearest hospital — Beth Israel — where it was found that he had coronary blockage. One stent was put in a couple of days later. A week after that, he went back to B.I. for two more stents. He might possibly need another one down the line. “No cutting, both were done via catheters through the artery in my right

wrist,” Al told us last week. “I’m hoping the cardiologist will say it’s O.K. for me to start going to the gym again. No running on the track, though. I’ll do the active older adults classes. I’m fine now. I walk a couple of blocks every day, and last week I made it down to the Village by subway with Moya’s help. I’ll let you know when I’m ready to take assignments. Good luck with the press association awards.”

Acker Awards IV: Clayton Patterson tells us that the fourth annual Acker Awards for avant-garde artists is set for Sun., Feb. 12, at Theatre 80 St. Mark’s, at 80 St. Mark’s Place. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the awards ceremony starts at 7 p.m. Among this year’s honorees will be artist Alex “The Countess” Zapak, whose story is particularly relevant in the current political climate. “She overstayed her visa by 15 days and was banned for five years from entering America,” Patterson said. “After the five years, she is still not being allowed in. I want to drill home the point of what is happening to Alex. It is wrong and un-American.” Posthumous Ackers will also be given to the great Loisaida poet Miguel Pinero and L.E.S. “gardens godmother” Carmen Pabon. Pining for PAN: Village District Leader Arthur Schwartz recently held the second meeting of the new Lower Manhattan Progressive Action Network, or PAN, the local chapter of a growing movement of linked Bernie Sanders-inspired organizations around the country. Chief on the meeting’s agenda was the goal of bringing back a full-service hospital to the Greenwich Village / Lower West Side area. Participants agreed that Pier 40 is the perfect place for it. Back after Sanders lost the New York primary election to Hillary Clinton, Schwartz told us that the new group’s larger goal is “to take over the Democratic Party from within.” Village activist Gil Horowitz is a big supporter of Schwartz’s PAN push, even though the two were briefly bitter rivals for district leader a couple of years ago. Horowitz said he’s hoping Sanders will make another run for president. “At age 76, he would not be much older than the incumbent, who will also in his mid-70s then,” he said. “One can dream.” NYC Women’s March: For those who can’t make it down to Washington, D.C., for the big Women’s March on Sat., Jan. 21, there will be a New York City version the same day. The event will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Marchers will meet at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, at E. 47th St. between First and Second Aves., and head down to — where else? — Trump Tower. The organizers want to launch the marchers in waves, in alphabetical order — good luck with that! — and are asking people to register at thehumanfirstsociety.org.

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TheVillager.com


L.P.C. mocks new ‘Marriott’ design for 11 Jane St. Jane continued from p. 1

it ultimately did not pass muster. They asked the applicants to replace sliding doors, windows and rework the ground-floor entrances, all of which as one commissioner put it, “scream ‘Marriott.’ � The decision drew a collective sigh of relief from opponents who had decried the revised design for many of the same reasons. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation had previously said the building’s new look resembled “a corporate chain motel.� The executive director of G.V.S.H.P. was happy to hear those concerns validated, although added that he would have liked commissioners to demand a lower design. “I’m glad it wasn’t approved and I’m glad they picked up on some of the criticisms that we and others had submitted in writing,� Andrew Berman said. “I certainly would have liked them to go farther: I still think there is an issue with the building being too big, and it seems as though they at most were asking for a slight adjustment in that. We’d like to see at least a floor if not more come off it.� Berman would like to see the existing two-story garage structure maintained. But L.P.C. has allowed demolitions of similar buildings in the Village before, so the decision at 11 Jane St. isn’t without precedent. One commissioner agreed with him though and went as far as to call the demolition of the existing building a “mistake.� He added of the new building that he did not “see how it enhances the Greenwich Village Historic District,� which he called an essential goal of any new building project in a historic district. The building at 11 Jane St. was built in 1921 for the New York Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church and was erected at the site of the former Jane Street Methodist Episcopal Church, according to the L.P.C.

The shape of the new design for 11 Jane St., above, isn’t too radically different from the previous one shown this past July. One difference is that the facade is now brick. It is also 10 feet lower.

designation paperwork. The current owners bought the building and its almost 10,000-square-foot lot in late 2014 for $26 million. L.P.C. considered it a “non-contributing building� in its 1969 designation report for the Greenwich Village Historic District. The new owners first came to L.P.C. with a proposal for the site over the summer. At that time, the commissioners took issue with a planned caststone street wall, large glass windows and the planned building’s height. Berman was joined on Tuesday morning by about a dozen supporters who held up signs urging Landmarks not to approve the design. He said he wasn’t in any rush to finish up at 11 Jane St. “The fact that it’s taken three meet-

ings, I think, is because it’s so critical to get a site like this right,� the preservationist said, “As far as I’m

concerned they can take as long as necessary until they get to the right outcome.�

    

 

   

  

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Renderings showing a design for 11 Jane St. from this past July, left, and now, right. One major change is the facade material.

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Januar y 19, 2017

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‘Pussyhats’ should ‘grab’ Trump’s eye 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

PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN

EDITOR IN CHIEF LINCOLN ANDERSON

ARTS EDITOR

SCOTT STIFFLER

REPORTER DENNIS LYNCH

CONTRIBUTORS ALBERT AMATEAU IRA BLUTREICH TINA BENITEZ-EVES SARAH FERGUSON BOB KRASNER DENNIS lYNCH TEQUILA MINSKY CLAYTON PATTERSON JEFFERSON SIEGEL SHARON WOOLUMS

ART DIRECTOR MICHAEL SHIREY

GRAPHIC DESIGNER CRISTINA ALCINE

Advertising Amanda Tarley

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES gayle Greenburg JIM STEELE Julio tumbacO

CIRCULATION SALES MNGR. MARVIN ROCK

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 floor 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 - © 2017 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: www.thevillager.com E-mail: news@thevillager.com © 2017 NYC Community Media, LLC

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Januar y 19, 2017

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON AND TEQUIL A MINSKY

U

ptown to Downtown, East Side to West Side, from art openings to religious services, in store windows and atop heads, “pussyhats” are popping up everywhere. Mostly women are wearing them, but some men, too. They’re part of the Pussyhat Project, which aims to knit, crochet and sew 1.17 million of the pink, cat-eared caps by Sat., Jan. 21, the day of the massive Women’s March in Washington, D.C. The Washington Mall can hold that many protesters. However, more than 200,000 people have already registered on Facebook that they will be participating, and some expect that as many as 500,000 actually may march. According to the group’s Web site, pussyhatproject.com, “The idea is to blanket the mall at the Women’s March in a sea of pink pussyhats, a response to the president-elect’s attitude toward women and their bodies.” There will also be a Women’s March in New York that day, and there are sure to be pussyhats aplenty there, too. The caps will provide the marchers with a “means to make a unique collective visual statement that will allow activists better to be heard,” and also give people who can’t be on the mall “a way to represent themselves and support women’s rights.” People can also volunteer to knit hats for others. (A pattern and instructions are provided on the site.) The weather in D.C. for “J21” is predicted to range from a high of 35 to 45 degrees to a low of 15 to 25 degrees, so hats will also be important to keep warm. The project’s organizers admit that “pusshyhat” is “a loaded word” because it includes a “derogatory” term for a part of women’s bodies, but say they want to “reclaim it.” Not surprisingly, pink wool has been flying off the shelves at knitting shops, like Purl on Broome St. Villager Stacy Rosenstock both ordered her wool and found a hat pattern online, then went to Purl to buy circular needles. It took her a while to get it right on the first hat. But she figures it will now only take a day to knit a second for her daughter.

Photos by Tequila Minsky

Pink pussyhats were out in force at a Writers Resist demonstration by PEN on Sunday on the New York Public Librar y steps in Midtown.

Holy pussyhat! One of the cat-eared caps was even spotted at an interfaith M.L .K. shabbos ser vice with Lab/Shul Uptown on Friday night.

Representing at Sunday’s PEN protest. Hey, Donald, imagine 200,000 of these on J21!

Only the finest pussyhats are on sale at The Hat Shop on Thompson St. in Soho.

An employee at Purl shows the good stuff. TheVillager.com


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         Photo by Bob Krasner

Downtown Abstract No. 3 A sidewalk grate at Third Ave. and E. 12th St.

         

   

   

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The PEN is mightier than chief twit’s tweets On the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration, hundreds of writers, along with local politicians, gathered Sunday on the steps of the main New York Public Library building at 42nd St. in support of free speech. At right, Art Spiegelman, creator of “Maus,” read lyrics from a Frank Zappa song, “It Can’t Happen Here,” as a delighted Bob Holman, of the Bowery Poetry Club, looked on. As for Holman, he started to read the beginning of the preamble of the Constitution of the United States of Poetry, but then was “interrupted” as he was “handed the words to Trump’s Inaugural Poem, written by Stephen Sondheim,” or so he claimed: “I thought that you’d want what I want, sorry my dear. But where are the clowns? Send in the clowns Don’t bother they’re here!!!” Also speaking at the rally were Congressmember Jerrold Nadler and state Senator Brad Hoylman.

Photo by Tequila Minsky

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On 14th St., cycling will save us once again Talking PoinT By Yuki Courtland and Paul Steely White

I

n times of crisis when there are disruptions to the city’s transit system, New Yorkers take to bicycles. Transportation Alternatives has seen it time and again. A whole generation of residents started riding during the oil crisis of the 1970s, while other clusters of new cyclists have emerging during transit strikes, hurricanes and blackouts. But while many of those commuters hopped on their bikes reluctantly at first, many stuck with it once they discovered that cycling is not only a convenient, environmentally friendly and fun form of transportation, but also a healthy one. Two recent studies published by the American Heart Association demonstrate this. Researchers found cycle commuting has major health benefits: Adults who commuted with their bikes were 11 percent to 18 percent less likely to develop coronary heart disease. The study also determined that biking significantly reduces weight, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and risk of diabetes. It is in light of this study, the American Heart Association and Transportation Alternatives are urging the Mayor’s Of-

Villager file photo

Bic ycles, including Citi Bikes, will offer commuters and others a healthy transpor tation option during the coming L train shutdown.

fice to prioritize bike commuting during the upcoming L Train shutdown, which is coming in less than 800 days. The crisis that some refer to as the “LPocalypse” will suspend subway service along 14th St. and between Manhattan and Williamsburg for at least a year and a half, so crews can repair damage that the L train’s East River tunnel sustained during Superstorm Sandy. Like previous transit crises, the L train shutdown could be a major moment to

encourage New Yorkers to bike to work, instead of scrambling for other subway connections or sitting passively in a bus or car while trapped in gridlock on the Williamsburg Bridge. With 250,000 people who now rely on the L train each day looking for new ways to get to where they are going, biking is sure to be an appealing solution for many. But in order to accommodate a growing number of cyclists and make their commutes safe, the city needs to start

investing in protected bike infrastructure now. That’s why the American Heart Association endorses Transportation Alternatives’ proposals to create “PeopleWay” corridors on Manhattan’s 14th St. and Brooklyn’s Grand St., to prioritize buses, biking and walking with dedicated bus lanes, protected bike lanes and better pedestrian amenities. To accommodate all those stranded commuters by relying on cars, we’d have to knock down whole neighborhoods to build more than 50 lanes on 14th St. To avoid “L-mageddon,” the city needs to turn this crisis into an opportunity and take bold action to rethink the 14th St. corridor — and streets leading to and from the Williamsburg Bridge, including Delancey and Essex Sts. Transportation Alternatives says a PeopleWay on 14th St. could double the corridor’s capacity to move commuters, during the L Train shutdown — and beyond, serving as a model for efficient, sustainable transportation corridors to keep New York City moving in the 21st century. Turning 14th St. into a PeopleWay for biking, walking and buses is a transit, quality-of-life and public health solution all rolled into one. Courtland is chairperson, American Heart Association Advocacy Committee in New York City; White is executive director, Transportation Alternatives

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arren Allen Smith, a teacher, editor, businessman, author, W.W. II veteran and longtime Villager, died on Jan. 8. He was 95. In recent years, he had moved from his Jane St. apartment to assisted-living facilities, first in Stamford, Conn., and then on the Upper West Side. Smith was born on Oct. 29, 1921, in Minburn, Iowa, the son of a South Dakota homesteader’s daughter and a grain dealer who was a scout for the Chicago Cubs’ farm team in Portland, Oregon. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and served from 1942 to 1946. Smith landed as an acting first sergeant on Omaha Beach in 1944, and in 1945 became chief clerk of the Adjunct General’s Office at Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), in the Little Red Schoolhouse, at Reims, France. After the war, in 1948, he received his B.A. degree from the University of Northern Iowa, and in 1949, with Lionel Trilling as his adviser, received his M.A. from Columbia University. Smith taught English at the Bentley School in Manhattan from 1950 to 1954, New Canaan High School from 1954 to 1986, and at Teachers College, Columbia University, from 1961 to 1962. In the 1950s he was a book review editor of The Humanist; wrote reviews for the Library Journal; and, under the name of Lvcretivs, founded the Hvmanist Book Clvb. In 1961, with paramour Fernando Vargas Zamora, he founded Variety Recording Studio, an independent company in Times Square. The studio was located first at 225 W. 46th St, then at 130 W. 42nd St, advertised as being “in the heart of showbiz.” Vargas and Smith were companions for 40 years until Vargas’s death

from Kaposi’s sarcoma in 1989. Smith was the personal agent to Gilbert Price, a three-time Tony Award nominee, from 1963 until Price’s death in 1989. In 1971, Mr. Smith co-founded Taursa, a mutual fund he named by combining Taurus and Ursa. He was chairperson of the International Mensa Investment Club from 1976 to 1993. Eight of Smith’s works were published after he reached the age of 80: “Who’s Who in Hell,” a 1,264-page biographical listing of more than 10,000 philosophic nonbelievers; “Celebrities in Hell,” a biographical listing of people whose belief systems ran against the grain; “Gossip From Across the Pond,” a collection of a decade of his columns in the United Kingdom’s Gay & Lesbian Humanist organization; “Cruising the Deuce,” written under the pseudonym Allen Windsor, a vivid description of Manhattan grindhouses and the subculture that flourished on 42nd St. in the 1940s through the 1980s; his threevolume autobiography, “In the Heart of Showbiz, A Biographical Triography of Variety Recording Studio, of Fernanda Vargas, and of Warren Allen Smith”; and the “Unforgettable New Canaanites,” an irreverent look at the Connecticut town in which he taught for 32 years. According to Smith, his free online search engine, Philosopedia, received more than 6 million hits between its inception and the day of his death. Smith was an activist member of ACT UP and participated in the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village in 1969; the Bertrand Russell Society, where he was a board member from 1977 until 2014; Freethinkers NY, of which he was a co-founder; Mensa, from 1964 until his death; the New York Society of Ethical Culture; the Rationalist Press Association (United Kingdom); and the Unitarian Society. Smith left no survivors. TheVillager.com


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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

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phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.

Daydreaming

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

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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.

Januar y 19, 2017

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DON’T MISS OUT

Jones burglary

Police said that on Mon., Jan. 9, at 7 p.m., two teenagers were seen swiping packages in the lobby of 8 Jones St. Witnesses said that the first suspect, age 16, was not known to anyone in the building and he was acting with another suspect, age 17. The younger boy reportedly told police he waited for someone to open the door and gained entry to the lobby to burglarize tenants. He was also found to be in possession of marijuana. Both youths were arrested for felony burglary.

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Police Blotter

Januar y 19, 2017

An assault at the Stonewall Inn was reported to police on Tues., Jan 10, around 2 a.m. A complainant, 30, told cops that a man was at the bar and was asked to leave. However, upon being told to get out, Odair Amaya, 28, instead socked the 30-year-old in the face twice with a closed fist, causing pain and minor swelling. Amaya was arrested for misdemeanor assault.

Police said that on Thurs., Jan 12, around 3:20 a.m., a mugger stole a 24year-old man’s pricey iPhone 7 in an armed robbery in the W. Fourth St. train station. The suspect reportedly displayed a black firearm and demanded, “Give me your wallet and phone.” After the victim gave up his cell, the suspect fled the station. Police later apprehended Jamal Eutsey, 34, at Off The Wagon bar, at 109 Macdougal St., and charged him with felony robbery.

Le choking victim Police said that on Sun., Jan. 15, inside Le Poisson Rouge music club, at 158 Bleecker St., an assailant placed a 30-year-old man in a chokehold from behind. The act was caught on video, according to a report. The suspect, Milton Gregory Jr., 38, was arrested for misdemeanor criminal obstruction of breathing. It wasn’t immediately clear what sparked the incident.

TD bank targeted Police said that on Thurs., Jan. 12, at 4:30 p.m., a man walked into the TD bank at 21 E. First St., approached the 24-year-old teller and passed a note demanding money. The teller complied and the individual fled on foot with an undetermined quantity of cash. There were no reported injuries.

Courtesy of N.Y.P.D.

A sur veillance-camera image of the alleged E. First St. TD bank robber.

The suspect is described as being around 25 to 30 years old, 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 170 pounds, and last seen wearing a black cap, black hooded sweatshirt and multicolored sneakers. Anyone with information is asked to call the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS, or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted on the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers. com, or by texting to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.

Man badly burned A fire in a senior’s apartment in the Lower East Side’s Baruch Houses around midnight on Monday reportedly left him with burns over 65 percent of his body and clinging to life. The blaze was on the fifth floor at 72 Columbia St. The Daily News reported that the victim is Juan Reyes, 82, who uses a wheelchair. Medics took him to New York-Presbyterian Hospital in critical condition, according to a Fire Department spokesperson. The News quoted Camille Napolean, the vice president of the complex’s tenants association, who said of Reyes, “He’s an amicable guy. He’s a tough cookie. He’ll sit and speak to everybody, he goes grocery shopping by himself, and he participates in all our community events. And he always makes sure people are following the rules. If the kids are too loud outside on the benches he’ll stick his head out the window and tell them to keep down the noise. He’s a real good guy and I just hope and pray he is O.K. because he doesn’t have anyone here with him.” Reyes had reportedly dismissed his home health attendant a few weeks ago, suspecting her of stealing from him, and she had not been replaced, according to Roberto Napolean, the T.A. president. The blaze’s cause is under investigation.

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Our president Letters to the Editor

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oo cerebral. Unwilling to engage in bareknuckles political war with his Republican enemies. Naive, in fact, about his ability to find common ground with a G.O.P. determined to undermine, even delegitimize him from Day 1. Those are the typical knocks — especially from progressives — aimed at Barack Obama, the first Democratic president to win a majority of votes twice since Franklin Roosevelt and the one who finally delivered on Harry Truman’s pledge nearly 70 years ago to reshape healthcare in America. That goal achieved even as he brought the nation back from its worst economic slump since the Great Depression — to an unemployment rate just above 4.5 percent as he leaves office. Yest, the White House equivocated on the push to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, intending a military review of that policy to forestall the need for immediate repeal. The failure to push the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (a measure the L.G.B.T.Q. community now agrees was insufficient, anyway) at the same time missed the slim window of Democratic congressional control. Obama hesitated on marriage equality — only pushed over the line by his loquacious vice president. To be sure, despite candidate Obama’s lofty 2008 rhetoric, specific action on L.G.B.T.Q. issues came slowly. Still, after more than a decade’s delay, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed in 2009, and the new administration ended a policy dating back to 1993 that barred entry and immigration into the U.S. by H.I.V.positive noncitizens. The administration took the first of what would be many significant steps to advance the community’s interests through administrative actions. Hospitals receiving Medicare or Medicaid funding — essentially all of them — were required to grant visitation rights to same-sex partners. In its earliest response to lawsuits challenging the Defense of Marriage Act, the administration stumbled badly, relying on discredited, even offensive justifications for the 1996 law. But when given the opportunity of a case in a federal judicial circuit that had no existing precedent on how sexual-orientation discrimination claims should be evaluated, Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder, came through. Faced with Edie Windsor’s suit in New York, the Justice Department determined that the statute merited heightened scrutiny, a demanding judicial standard DOMA could not survive. From then on, the administration would not defend DOMA in court. Obama had endorsed marriage equality, and when the underlying question of same-sex couples’ right to marry reached the Supreme Court two years later, his administration was once again on the side of our community. On the evening of June 26, 2015, when the marriage victory was handed down, the White House was bathed in rainbow lights. In his second term, Obama issued an executive order barring sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination by businesses contracting with the U.S. government. The Education Department informed public schools they must allow transgender students access to bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. Over eight years, Obama, the cautious ally, became the fierce advocate he once pledged to be. As we prepare to battle the anti-L.G.B.T.Q. officials Donald Trump has gathered around him, let’s always remember: There is another way.

Has to be a better ‘way’ To The Editor: Re “PeopleWay? No way! Villagers fear traffic-free 14th St. scheme” (news article, Jan. 12): Twenty-five years ago, 14th St. was rebuilt precisely to carry heavy crosstown traffic, to protect the fragile streets north and south of it. The construction process was a nightmare for those nearby streets, which contain old infrastructure, including a 20-inch gas main under W. 15th St. These streets are actually a no-truck zone, although this is rarely enforced. There are other ways to mitigate the L train shutdown — such as no parking on 14th St. — that are better than total diversion of traffic. Jim Jasper

‘Park for sale’ To The Editor: Re “Planning Pier 40’s future” (talking point, by Scott Lawin, Jan. 12): For someone so familiar with the park, Mr. Lawin should reread the Hudson River Park Act. His statement that “The Hudson River Park Act decreed that the park’s commercial piers should serve as the primary economic engines for the operations of the public park” is false and misleading. Just like the Trust leadership, I guess he feels if he says it often enough it will be true. Section 1 of the act states: “(c) It is in the public interest to encourage park uses and allow limited park / commercial uses in the Hudson River Park consistent with the provisions of this act and the general project plan for the park. (d) The marine environment of the park is known to provide critical habitat for striped bass and other aquatic species. It is in the public interest to protect and conserve this habitat. (e) It is in the public interest for the state and city of New York to act together to finance the Hudson River Park and for the Hudson River Park Trust to design, develop, operate and maintain the Hudson River Park, including through the use of available federal funds. It is intended that to the extent practicable and consistent with the intent of subdivision (c) of this section, the costs of the operation and maintenance of the park be paid by revenues generated within the Hudson River Park and that those revenues be used only for park purposes. Additional funding by the state and the city may be allocated as necessary to

meet the costs of operating and maintaining the park. ...” The language to note regarding using revenue from limited commercial development in the park is “to the extent practicable,” and that public funds should also be used for maintenance and operation. However, the Trust leadership, and the Friends, have not sought the park’s fair share of public funding and have instead put a “for sale” sign on the park, using misleading and false statements regarding the requirement for private funding. Tom Fox

Still waiting for answers To The Editor: Bryan Dunlap’s letter in the Jan. 5 issue (“Holding pols accountable”) insists that politicians tell us about what they propose to do and how they propose to do it. They should stop the political squabbles, the jockeying for influence and the photo-ops-quick-remarksand-vanishing. And he asked that publications avoid writing about these things. More than a year ago, I asked my district’s congressional members — Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and Carolyn Maloney — each to let me know how they encouraged people in the Senate and House of Representatives to listen to each other and to work together to get things done. I got no reply from any of them. John Maynard

G.O.P. can’t slash veggies To The Editor: With the Republican Congress bent on depriving 22 million Americans of medical insurance, this is a great time to provide our own totally free and totally effective health insurance — a plant-based diet. A study with 131,000 participants in last year’s Internal Medicine found that consumption of animal protein is associated with a higher risk of death. A couple dozen other massive studies in the past four decades had similar findings. None reached opposite conclusions. According to the National Institutes of Health, 1.4 million, or 68 percent, of identified U.S. deaths are attributed to heart disease, stroke, cancer and diaLetters continued on p. 22

evan forsch

This editorial first appeared in Gay City News, a sister paper of The Villager.

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TheVillager.com


Palestine and anti-Semitism in the Age of Trump

GLOBAL VILLAGE By Bill Weinberg

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his week comes the news that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner is to become senior White House adviser. Team Trump is weaseling around the nepotism restrictions by claiming they don’t apply to the White House itself because it isn’t an “agency.” The Villager provided a profile of Kushner last month, when he was named as likely “special envoy” to the Middle East. His top credential (apart from being son-in-law)? Being a hard-right Zionist, of course. Kushner apparently wrote Trump’s speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) last March, which bashed Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as treating Israel “very, very badly,” and pledged to “move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.” Why was this written up in The Villager? Kushner is a major East Village landlord. As Jared was writing Trump’s AIPAC speech, his real estate company was in court over failure to provide basic services at neighborhood properties. And where are the proceeds from those properties going? The family’s Kushner Foundation is a donor to what The Forward called the most “hard-line, ideological settlements” on the West Bank. Two anti-Semitic stereotypes for the price of one! Zionist hardliner and sleazy New York landlord. And this from the same Trump that has appointed Stephen Bannon, head of “altright” (read: white nationalist) Breitbart News, as counselor — which famously inspired Nazi salutes and cries of “Hail Trump!” at an “alt-right” confab at a D.C. convention center in November. They are practically setting up the antiSemitic backlash that they are already exploiting in fascistic manner. You almost have to admire their chutzpah. This also points to a global symmetry: Displacement of the proles in the East Village; displacement of Palestinians on the West Bank. Adding to the Orwellian nature of this all, Trump’s right-wing Zionist allies are not shy about using charges of anti-Semitism against their opponents on the left. Trump’s pick for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is to the right of Benjamin Netanyahu, explicitly advocating annexation of the West Bank. Of course Friedman says those who accuse Trump supporters of anti-Semitism “sound like morons.” He called even liberal Zionists who oppose him, such as J Street (the alternative to AIPAC), “far worse than kapos” — the enforcers at the Nazi death TheVillager.com

Photo by Milo Hess

Heaven help us. Is Trump playing us all for chumps as he suppor ts hard-line Zionists while also allying with anti-Semites?

‘At least, with Trump there will be clarity.’ Riham Barghouti

camps. Some progressive Jews are not intimidated. Under the banner of “Jewish Resistance,” hundreds rallied in November outside Manhattan’s Grand Hyatt, where the Zionist Organization of America annual gala was held — with featured speaker announced as Bannon. The “altright” mouthpiece did not show, for unexplained reasons. But protesters were outraged he was invited. Solidarity between Jews and Muslims was a central theme of the rally, with a common chant being: “WHEN MUSLIM COMMUNITIES ARE UNDER ATTACK WHAT DO WE DO? STAND UP, FIGHT BACK!” The traditional Jewish establishment is divided, with the Anti-Defamation League decrying Bannon, and the Z.O.A. embracing him. We will now see how much overt Nazism conservative Jews will stomach in exchange for an aggressively pro-Israel position. Contradictions around this question were heightened by the U.N. Security Council’s approval last month of Resolu-

tion 2334, calling on Israel to cease settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. The measure only passed because the U.S. abstained rather than using its veto — for the first time regarding a resolution against West Bank settlements since 1980. It was revealed that Trump tried to derail the vote by pressuring Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to withdraw it. Some influential Jewish voices are more aghast at Obama abstaining from the vote than at Trump for allying with white nationalists. After the vote, Ruth R. Wisse wrote in column in the Wall Street Journal: “Obama’s anti-Israel politics show the need for the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.” This bill would designate “delegitimizing” or “demonizing” Israel as anti-Semitism. The column contained not a word about Bannon. Rebecca Vilkomerson is director of Jewish Voice for Peace, one of the groups that called the rally at the Z.O.A. She also worked in Israel with Anarchists Against the Wall, a group that opposes Israel’s West Bank “separation barrier” that was ruled illegal by the World Court in 2004. “I was glad it happened,” she said of the U.S. abstention. “Although for Obama, I thought it was eight years too late.” She recalled that Obama spoke against Israeli settlement expansion at his Cairo speech back in 2009. “That being said, I watched the vote and there was something very powerful in seeing Israel’s isolation,” she said. “That was a real reflection of the global consensus.” Vilkomerson has no patience with

notions that opposition to Israel’s West Bank colonization is anti-Semitism. “It’s not based in reality,” she said. “The settlements are considered illegal by U.S. policy and by international law that says you can’t conquer territory and move your own people into it. It is baseless and, frankly, quite dangerous.” And the notion that the West Bank was the “Judea and Samaria” of the ancient Hebrews? “States are not based on religious texts,” Vilkomerson stated. “Israel is a modern state created in modern times by a vote of the U.N. That’s the basis of its legitimacy.” Of the incoming Trump, she said: “Moving the embassy to Jerusalem and supporting a policy of annexation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem are extremely dangerous and not going to lead anywhere good.” Vilkomerson also emphasized “our responsibilities in the domestic realm,” noting the Network Against Islamophobia initiated by J.V.P., which held a Hanukkah vigil in Union Square. “We’ll be a part of whatever opposition front is going to emerge to confront the intersecting issues we’re all going to be facing here,” she assured. Riham Barghouti, a New York-based Palestinian activist, is a founder of Adalah-NY, which advocates for a boycott of Israel. While she said she was “pleasantly surprised” by the U.S. abstention, she takes a somewhat cynical view of it. “I believe the decision to abstain from Resolution 2334 was more of a way to undermine the incoming administration Trump continued on p. 22 Januar y 19, 2017

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Art reflects reality in C’town exhibit on housing By Kari Lindberg

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pair of chopsticks, a small table laden with bowls of sweet dumpling soup being eaten by an older Chinese woman, a wall painted the color of yellow pus with air bubbles and peeling flakes are all images reflected back in the photographs hanging on the second-floor mezzanine gallery of the new Pearl River Mart, at 385 Broadway. The images are part of a multimedia multimedia exhibition titled, “Resilience / Resistance,” by the Chinatown Art Brigade, a collective of Asian American artists, media makers and activists with roots in New York City’s Chinatown, and will be running until Sun., Jan. 22. Co-founded in 2015 by Tomie Arai, ManSee Kong and Betty Yu, the Chinatown Art Brigade seeks to use art to address broader issues of displacement and gentrification in Chinatown. According to the New York University Furman Center’s “State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods in 2015” report, the Chinatown / Lower East Side area has seen a 50.3 percent percentage change in average rent from 1990 to 2010-2014, making it one of the city’s most gentrified neighborhoods during that period, second only to Williamsburg.

Photo by Betty Yu

Members of the Chinatown Ar t Brigade at the “Resilience / Resistance” exhibit at Pearl River Mar t.

“Resilience / Resistance” provides a platform for the Chinatown Art Brigade to build a bridge between the Chinatown community and local residents unaware of its changes. In doing so, the exhibition has grounded its work on art produced by Chinese tenants experiencing landlord harassment.

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“What makes our artwork unique, is that it is really centered around the tenants,” said co-founder Yu. “Not only are they resilient — like the title of the show — but also they’re doing their own organizing.” Highlighting the tenant artwork is a series of six photos by three local Chinese tenant leaders who are organizing their buildings to fight against their housing conditions: Mini Yan, who is still involved in a lawsuit with her landlord over living conditions; Zheng Zhi Qin, whose landlord cut off her building’s hot water as an eviction strategy; and David Tang, who was subjected to construction harassment by his landlord to make his building so unlivable that residents would rather move out. Together their six photos show snippets of daily lives, ranging from a tradition of making sweet dumpling soup with friends and family, to buying produce from vendors underneath the Manhattan Bridge, to the physical walls of their home — yellowed with years of water damage. Daily life is also given a voice though three continuously looping documentaries, made by co-founders Yu and See. One film by Yu documents her parents’ lives as Chinatown garment workers, while two others by See portray older Chinatown residents. Adding to the emotional, visual and auditory mix are infographics made by Yu. These plainly state market-rate rents for the area as ranging from $1,200 to $9,500, compared to $934, which would be the rent for affordable housing for a family of four making the average median rent of $37,362. Complementing these statistics on rising rents is the visual emptiness of living rooms in homes that no longer exist, as shown in Louis Chan’s photographs.

“These images, it’s the least I could do — photograph what existed when people were living there” Chan stated. “People who originally lived there moved out. Now those apartments have been renovated at market value and rented to people who are not immigrants and not Asian minorities.” Additional facets of Chinatown’s changing landscape and identity are explored in a pair of photos by Enbion Micah An that show the two sides of the case involving Peter Liang, the Chinese-American police officer who fatally shot Akai Gurley in 2014. Exploring physical changes to the neighborhood, Tomie Arai created a large silk-screen map of the historic Manhattan Chinatown’s boundaries, an installation by Emily Chow Bluck of destroyed paper houses symbolizes the deterioration of tenant housing, and video by KahEan Chang also focuses on this theme. Underlying the exhibit is the relationship between the Chinatown Art Bridge and Pearl River Mart, which is part of a larger strategy to involve all aspects of Chinatown life in the fight against gentrification. “The idea is to work not only with residents and tenants,” Yu explained, “but also small businesses and landmark businesses in Chinatown that really have a stake in the gentrifying community.” It’s a strategy that Pearl River Mart — New York City’s oldest emporium of mainland Chinese goods — supports. “It is about being a participant in the community” said Joanne Kwong, president of Pearl River Mart. Given the store’s beginnings in 1971, this should come as no surprise. Store co-founder Ming Yi Chen described its start as a “political statement and experiment” at a time when it was illegal to obtain goods from mainland China under the U.S. trade embargo against China. Pearl River Mart’s continued 45-year success is still very much rooted in the community and culture of Chinatown. And, like the community it belongs to, the store has not escaped the financial realities of rising rents. Its current location at 385 Broadway, four blocks away from its previous Soho location, is closet-sized compared to its previous 30,000-foot-space. Stumbling upon the store by accident, Veronica Chan confessed to taking Chinatown’s continued existence as a thriving community “for granted.” She found the exhibit a point of access to the changing realities of Chinatown. “I just became more aware of what’s happening in Chinatown through the exhibit,” she said, “and I like that there are ways that it is turning into art, conversation and dialogue within the community.” TheVillager.com


Poets in protest

Wielding words, writers refuse to yield to Trump BY PUMA PERL

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n November 9, 2016, I woke up numb. Then I wrote a poem. Social media exploded with rage and argument. My Texas poet buddy Justin Booth and I made a pact to post poems, lyrics, and quotes. Diane di Prima. Amiri Baraka. Bad Brains. I sought to commune with other artists. According to Percy Shelley, ‘Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world,’ ” said Hoboken poet Danny Shot, who was also interested in activist events. “In this time of potential darkness, we will have to work that much harder to bring light into the world.” Poets Protest Against Trump, a nationwide action that took place over the weekend, was definitely a light force. Alan Kaufman, novelist, memoirist and poet, organized the event “as a result of my own shocked disbelief at this election. My response to fear has always been to act in defiance of it. The greater the fear, the larger the action. I needed someone with an existing organization in place, and contacted Michael Rothenberg of 100 Thousand Poets For Change, asking him to join me in rallying the nation’s poets to rise up. Together we contacted poets from New York to San Francisco and in no time poet protests sprang up in cities and towns across the US — from Austin to Chicago, San Francisco, to Oakland, St. Louis to New Orleans.” Rothenberg, a Tallahassee resident, created several events in Florida. “I feel that it is my job to do what I can to enable and empower all of these poets, and artists’ actions,” he told me, “and to bring our resources together. We must move away from empire building and towards unity.” On Sunday, January 15, a group of poets gathered at 1 p.m. on the front steps of City Hall. Kaufman opened the reading with his poem, “Let Us,” dedicated to “the poets of January 15 and the women of January 21 (the poem recently appeared in our sister publication, The Villager, and is available online at thevillager.com). Kaufman invited people to “just jump in.” In freewheeling, non-elitist fashion, everyone got the chance to offer his or her unique perspective. Maria de Los Angeles, a visual artist, brought a poem, “Who Am I?” “I am here with words to show diversity. We are a diverse country that is fictionalized as white. It has never been white,” she said. When you see me, what do you see? I feel like an Undocumented artist…. But I see an American who is Free. Queens resident Ron Kolm is a founder of the Unbearables, a collective of underground artists and writers. He provided a humorous note in “Hitler Was Wrong (And Donald Trump Is Too).” He shared with me his theory that Hitler came to power due to his resemblance to Charlie Chaplin, and sees TheVillager.com

Photos by Puma Perl

Event organizer Alan Kaufman (center) opened with his poem “Let Us.”

a similarity in Trump’s election. There probably Wouldn’t have been A Bill Clinton Without Elvis, Or a Donald Trump Without the Terminator. Another Unbearables founder, Jim Feast, presented a new work never before read: “Trump Regnant.” Trump lay sleeping on a burning bed, not aroused till flames touched his head. He leapt to the floor, his hair aflame, looking both for water and for someone to blame. Poet/performer love I.E.D. provided a change of pace in the rhythm and musicality of his piece, “dex.” More bars more stars, more bars more scars so the few can sip on their pinot noirs, on their decks built upon the bodies of the darkPOETs PROTEST continued on p. 16

Ron Kolm, a co-founder of the NYC lit scene collec tive the Unbear ables, listened to others as they took their turn on the steps of Cit y Hall . Januar y 19, 2017

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Photo by Michael Cincotta

Jim Feast, a co-founder of the Unbearables, read “Trump Regnant.”

Photo by Alice Espinosa-Cincotta

L to R: Maria de Los Angeles read “ Who Am I?” as poets Alan Kaufman and Tom Savage looked on.

POETS PROTEST continued from p. 15

skinned …the more people you put behind bars the more blood you put in your cars “It’s important that we gather in these spaces so we see each other’s faces, smell each other’s bodies, touch each other; this is how we keep politics real,” he said. “We realize through dance, poetry, painting and song, that our emotions are not wholly private, but shared with others, the very medium through which we communicate and move from solipsism to solidarity.” Nancy Mercado’s poem, “I Told You,” included a refrain that exemplified her concerns. “Writers can, and often do, pose a threat to such regimes as they expose their unscrupulous practices,” she noted. “As Trump’s political apparatus becomes reality, writers and poets who document these times will be of great importance. It remains to be seen whether their work will be met with paying the ultimate price.” I told you that McCarthy Would miraculously Come back from the dead Danny Shot provided an interesting piece called “Mr. Know It All,” consisting of a series of paragraphs addressed to the title figure. Dear Mr. Know it All, How long am I allowed to grieve? The gathering was not large, but it was high-spirited with a sense of community, knowing that similar readings were taking place across the nation. Alan Kaufman expressed satisfaction with the outcome. “This was a great cross section of poetry representing many demographics. This is just the beginning. We must keep organizing and build a collective sense of community so that people do not feel alone.” Some performers headed up to the PEN America event. Held on the steps of the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (Fifth Ave. & W. 42nd St.), WRITERS RESIST: Louder Together for Free Expression was organized as “a

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Photo by Alice Espinosa-Cincotta

Eve Packer, the last poet to read, and Danny Shot.

collective stand to defend free expression, reject hatred, and uphold truth in the face of lies and misinformation.” Steve Dalachinsky, who had read a particularly moving piece (“heavy sleep”) at the Poets Protest Against Trump gathering, reported back. “Although one had a modest but sincere attendance and one had a larger crowd, both events were of equal weight in emphasizing the importance of fighting against a corrupt and dangerous government. Both put forth valuable messages and insights into what is happening or could happen in a Trump/Republican-dominated world.” That evening, I heard from my Texas friend, Justin Booth, who had organized a reading at Malvern Books. “The event was a huge success; Austin poets vowing to continue their vigil, not wavering in calling Mr. Trump out on behaviors that are dangerous

as well as dishonest.” Similar reports have come in from around the country. To quote the piece performed by love I.E.D.: we climb this ziggurat of bodies that reaches the sky we climb with harnesses made of flesh and rope made from human hair we climb sticking our fingers in the sockets of the skulls and using the ribs as toeholds we climb, we climb, we climb 100 Thousand Poets for Change invites all artists to visit 100tpc.org, and use their calendar to view events. Their annual global event will be held Sept. 30, 2017. Join PEN America’s “campaign to fight domestic threats to free expression” via #LouderTogether: PEN.org/louder-together. For Poets Protest Against Trump: facebook.com/ events/1157152344392881. TheVillager.com


Three of a kind, but different Authors direct authors at La MaMa

BY TR AV S.D.

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s a wise old saying tells us, “Everything comes in threes.” On the third week of this month, La MaMa will open the third edition of “AdA: Author Directing Author,” which will showcase three one-act plays by three playwrights from three different countries, each of whom is directing one of the other’s works. On the bill will be works by Marco Calvani (Italy), Marta Buchaca (Spain) and Neil LaBute (US). The cast members are Gabby Beans, Margaret Colin, Gia Crovatin, Dalia Davi, Richard Kind and Victor Slezak. According to LaBute, the seeds of this theatrical series were first sown when he overheard workshops Calvani was leading at the Obrador Internacional de Dramaturgia at the Sala Beckett in Barcelona. “I heard these sounds coming from the actors in their workshop and I grew curious,” said LaBute. “I got to talking with Marco about theatre and realized that we were similar animals, in that we were both playwrights and directors and actors, although Marco has done much more acting than I have. We realized that though we are directors, we usually only get to direct our own plays. We rarely get asked to direct other people’s stuff. So we said, ‘Let’s do something where we each create some work and then direct each other’s plays.’ ” The first fruits of their collaboration were presented at the Spoleto Festival in Italy in 2012, not far from La MaMa Umbria International, the writers’ retreat and workshop facility long operated by the historic Off-Off Broadway company. At Calvani’s suggestion, they workshopped and rehearsed their plays at La MaMa Umbria. Then they were invited by the company to transfer the show to

New York. This went so well, a second edition followed in 2014. Said Calvani, “When we decided to do a third edition it was clear to us that we had to open the doors of the project to a third playwright/director, and it should be a female voice. Since we ourselves had met at Sala Beckett in 2010, we said, ‘Let’s close the circle.’ So we got in touch with Sala Beckett to see if they had a suggestion for a Spanish playwright, and they suggested Marta [Buchaca], who happens to be an award winning playwright herself.” “Like Neil and Marco, I am also a director as well as a playwright,” said Buchaca, “and I loved the project when they brought it to me. I was so excited. It’s always the same, that playwrights direct their own plays — but it’s atypical that other playwrights ask you to direct their own work.” Each iteration of “Author Directing Author” has had a theme. The first two were “Home” and “Desire.” This year’s is “Power.” The offerings in the current production are: LaBute’s “I don’t know what I can save you from,” directed by Calvani; Calvani’s “After the dark,” directed by Buchaca; and Buchaca’s “Summit,” directed by LaBute. Each depicts a power struggle between warring parties — in the first, a father and daughter; in the second, a woman and her boss; in the third, a defeated (male), politician and his female successor. Class, gender, age, money, and sex percolate throughout. “For better or worse, ‘power’ is always the theme if you’re a playwright,” said Calvani. “It happens to be perfect this year, but it was also perfect five years ago. We were led to ‘Power’ from ‘Home’ and ‘Desire’ spontaneously, but let me tell you, if you took any of the plays that we put on in the first installations and

Photo by Theo Cote

L to R: Neil LaBute, Mar ta Buchaca and Marco Calvani do double dut y, as play wrights and directors.

put them under ‘Power,’ it would probably still work!” LaBute concurs on the evergreen nature of this particular theme and insists that its applicability in the age of our incoming President is coincidental. “These works were written before this decided crossroads [i.e., the last election]. Although it features two wealthy white males, one with a long red tie and the other with a bowler hat, any resemblance to Trump is coincidental. We’ve refrained from writing any urine scenes into it. We’ve decided to keep it classy in that way!” And, despite his heavy schedule of writing and directing for film, television, and productions at much larger theaters, LaBute is enthusiastic about the

possibility of future incarnations of this project. “I’ve learned that you need to make time for projects like this that matter to you. I’d like to see these [“Author Directing Author” productions] happen about as often as Phil Collins and Genesis get back together. You know, I’ll go off and do a few ‘solo albums,’ and then we’ll all get back in the studio together. And maybe next time we’ll do it with four playwrights.” Through Feb. 5: Thurs., Fri. & Sat. at 7pm and Sun. at 4 pm; additional performance Mon., Jan. 23 at 7pm. At La MaMa (66 E. Fourth St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.). For tickets ($18 general, $13 students/seniors), visit lamama.org or call 212-352-3101.

Photo by Theo Cote

Photo by Theo Cote

L to R: Cast members Dalia Davi and Victor Slezak (Mar ta Buchaca’s “Summit”) and Gabby Beans and Margaret Colin (Marco Calvani’s “After the dark”).

Richard Kind and Gia Crovatin per form the Neil LaBute play “I don’t know what I can save you from.”

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For more news and events happening now visit www.TheVillager.com Nadler, Velazquez snub Trump inauguration snub continued from p. 1

regarding Muslim-Americans. “Since the campaign concluded, he has rejected the widespread consensus among professionals in our intelligence community that Russia actively interfered in our election and has shown indifference to the possibility that a foreign power directly meddled in our democratic process. “I would also note,� Velazquez continued, “that President-elect Trump has refused to properly divest his very extensive business assets or put them in a blind trust. According to ethics experts, he will be in violation of the Constitution’s ‘Emoluments Clause’ the minute he takes the oath of office. “Instead of attending the inauguration, I plan to show solidarity with many Americans concerned with the incoming administration by participating in the Women’s March. I have heard from many constituents on this issue and they agree with this course of action. As an elected official, I have an obligation to reflect my constituents’ views, and I think my choice in this regard aligns with how most residents of New York’s Seventh District feel.� Nadler said there was no organized effort to boycott the inauguration. “I haven’t spoken to any other members about it,� he said. Rather, politicians just saw their peers doing it and thought it was something they wanted to do, too. “I don’t know if it’s unprecedented — I think that the numbers are unprecedented,� Nadler said of the several dozen reps who are rejecting their seats at the inauguration. “I just decided that in good conscience, I cannot do it.� Nadler said he was appalled by the president-elect’s “racist rhetoric,� and also the fact that he won’t make his tax returns public. “We wonder if his ‘unusual attitude’ toward the Russians may have to do with his business interests in Russia,� the con-

shouldn’t be insulting people. The president should be a unifier,� he stressed. Like many, Nadler does think the F.B.I. probe into Hillary Clinton’s secret homebrew file server and the Russians’ alleged hacking swayed the race. “Certainly, there were improper weights on the election,� he said. “They compromised the election.� As for what Nadler will be focusing on once Trump is in office, he said it depends on what Trump and the Republicans actually do. “Obviously, we want to protect the Affordable Care Act,� he said, “and civil liberties, the freedom of the press. We don’t know how civil liberties are going to be challenged yet. ... We don’t know what he’s going to propose.� Protecting Social Security and Medicare / Medicaid and a women’s right to choose, and fighting the defunding of Planned Parenthood, will also be top priorities, he said. Keeping the A.C.A., a.k.a. “Obamacare,� from being dismantled, will be hard, though, he admitted. “We’re on defense,� he conceded. “You have to get some Republicans not to vote for it. But the Republicans have been unable to come up with a plan in seven years. Trump wants change now on the Affordable Care Act. The Republicans are saying do it in three years. I think the Republicans are getting into a terrible mess — and their voters want change.� Nadler said he doesn’t think Trump has a clue about what he wants to do at this point to supplant Obamacare. Meanwhile, Maloney issued a statement on her Web site saying she will attend Trump’s swearing-in on Friday. “Along with President Obama, Secretary Clinton, the entire United States Senate and the Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives,� her statement said, “I am attending the inauguration out of respect for our country’s peaceful transition of power and our democratic institutions.�

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Jerrold Nadler.

Nydia Velazquez.

gressmember noted. “He got 3 million fewer votes than Hillary — which is unprecedented,� Nadler added. “And, more importantly, the election was compromised by the F.B.I. and the Russians. Had Comey not put his finger on the scale, I think Hillary would have won the election. You can’t quantify it, though.� Also troubling to Nadler was Trump’s recent Twitter war with Georgia Congressmember John Lewis. Lewis started it off by saying he would not attend the inauguration because he felt Trump was not a “legitimate president� due to Russian hacking that allegedly affected the presidential race’s outcome. Nadler called Trump’s several tweets lashing back at Lewis a “racist attack.� “Yes, the Republicans will say Lewis

criticized Trump,� Nadler said. “Yes, Trump is justified to say he’s wrong — but not to attack an icon, a hero. Because John Lewis is black, Trump assaults his district as crime-ridden. It isn’t. Trump just made that assumption. Even if Lewis is wrong, then you just say he’s wrong. “Trump can’t reach Lewis’s ankles in terms of moral stature,� Nadler declared. “He gave blood for his country. John Lewis is one of the heroes of the last century of this country.� This behavior, though, is a pattern for Trump, obviously, one that we’ve seen before. “Whenever anyone criticizes him, he launches personal attacks instead of addressing the criticism,� Nadler noted. “It’s one thing to be a real estate developer and insult people. But the president

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Trumped up ‘peace’ plan sounds bad Trump continued from p. 13

of Donald Trump than to protect Palestinian rights,” she offered. “I think that if Hillary Clinton were to have won the election the Obama administration would have vetoed the resolution to ensure continuing good relations with Israel.” She pointed to Obama’s recent approval of $38 billion in aid to Israel over the next 10 years — “the largest single pledge of military assistance in US history.” Barghouti acknowledged, “The upcoming period under the Trump administration promises to be quite challenging.” But she added: “At least, with Trump there will be clarity. There won’t be any false expectations of U.S. support to Palestinians... . A number of so-called progressives and even the Palestinian Authority have long been able to hide behind the screen of the so-called peace process... . With Trump and Netanyahu, that shield will be gone and everyone will have to declare their allegiance to either maintain the colonization, occupation and apartheid policies of Israel or support Palestinian self-determination.” Sarah Schulman is a native to the East Village; she was born on E. 10th St., and has lived in the neighborhood nearly her whole life. She is author of, among other books, “Israel / Palestine and the Queer International.” In 2011, she orga-

nized the first U.S. tour of Palestinian queer leaders, to oppose “pinkwashing” — Israel’s exploitation of its gay-friendly image for public relations. “There are queer Palestinians, just like there are queers everywhere,” she said. She also serves on the advisory board of J.V.P., and as faculty advisor to Students for Justice in Palestine at College of Staten Island, where she is distinguished professor of humanities. Schulman gives the Obama White House some credit. “I think some in the administration have been troubled for a long time about the hypocrisy of the U.S. position,” she said. “Obama and Kerry may understand there is an apartheid system in Israel that is unjust and violates international law.” Unleashed by Trump, Israel is likely to become “even more brutal,” she predicted. But she also sees an opening for a critique of the twostate solution. “With 600,000 settlers on the West Bank, the ability to create two discrete states is diminished,” she noted. “All human beings who live in the same geographic area should have equal rights.” On the other hand, she said, a future single state, “where everyone has equal citizenship rights regardless of race or religion,” stands in contrast to the single state sought

Letters to the Editor Letters continued from p. 12

betes, linked conclusively with consumption of animaproducts. Cost of medical care was estimated by N.I.H. at $3 trillion in 2014, or $24,000 per household, and rising at 6.5 percent

annually — nearly four times the rate of inflation. Incredibly, this amount rivals our national budget and represents 17.5 percent of our gross domestic product. Even so, it does not include the costs of

by Israel’s annexationists — “a Jewish supremacy system where Palestinian people are subordinated.” Schulman takes the accusations of anti-Semitism personally. “Now that there are people in Trump’s circle who are actual antiSemites, it’s an extremely dangerous game to pretend that people who want Israel to comply with international law have any prejudicial motivations,” she said. When I pointed out that actual Jew-haters will inevitably seek to exploit the Palestine issue, she responded: “Yes, but someone like me with two Jewish names? It is highly cynical and frightening.” Schulman’s view of Trump is unsparing. “We are watching our society collapse before our very eyes right now,” she said. “We are facing a new regime of profound illegality, because of its conflicts of interests. And his intentions are immoral — to eliminate the public sector and construct society at the service of corporations entirely.” Schulman especially warns against the temptation to sell out. “Historically, under McCarthyism or fascism or whatever, people made grabs for immediate power by currying favor with the powerful,” she said. “It’s important to remember that these periods do pass. We have to understand what our core values are so we can hold on to them.”

lost productivity, disability and premature death. We have little control over the national cost of medical care. But each of us has control over our household’s $24,000 share every time we visit the grocery store. Nico Young E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in

length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 MetroTech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.

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Progressive Stuy Towner running for mayor Thompson continued from p. 1

in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Most recently he was executive director of the east region of New Leaders, an educational nonprofit. He has lived on and off in the New York area for the last decade or so, but consistently since 2012. In a wide-ranging conversation over breakfast at the Blue Bell Cafe, on Third Ave. in Gramercy, Thompson spoke to The Villager about political identities, Democratic Party entrenchment in the city, and how he would approach some mayoral duties. Last February, Town & Village reported that Thompson was running to succeed Councilmember Dan Garodnick, who will be term-limited out of office at the end of this year. But by May, that same newspaper reported Thompson had raised his sights to a much loftier goal, mayor. Thompson’s campaign slogan is “Onward,” which, as one might guess, suggests progressivism. Thompson calls himself “unbelievably progressive.” “ ‘Progressive’ is this idea that you’re wildly on fire with concepts and, more importantly, on implementation,” Thompson said. He thinks Mayor de Blasio’s progressive fire does not burn consistently enough. “One of the most frustrating things personally is that now when I say, ‘In New York, I’m a progressive,’ people say, ‘Oh, like our mayor?’ No, absolutely not,” he stated. “Being progressive is not hiring Bill Bratton as your Police commissioner.” Thompson said that, three years ago, he was a “ride or die” Democrat that supported his party’s candidates, no matter who they were. Now he has tried to step outside the party to carve out a progressive approach on all issues. “The things I’ve gotten done and right for the community, it’s never been 100 percent Democratic Party values or legislation that was passed,” he said. “It was with Republicans, independents. And a lot of the chiefs of staff and party operatives throughout my service would say, ‘Josh you just met with the House Republicans, you just met this city councilor, you can’t do that.’ And I’d say, ‘I’m confused. You’re telling me I can’t do something I’ve already done, it’s passed.’ So it’s that concept of ‘Onward’ on party politics. I believe, truly, two years ago, I wouldn’t think it was possible. I think we have a time in our country where to actually have that is possible.” Thompson’s time in Bridgeport was spent balancing a departmental budget with a $13 million deficit. He said he was able to do that without laying off any teachers or closing schools. His approach was to “cut fat,” includTheVillager.com

Photo by Dennis Lynch

Josh Thompson.

ing the no-show jobs for people connected to politicians. He wants to “reimagine” New York’s school system to make it more efficient, which he believes could solve some of the big issues it faces, including overcrowding. “How is it possible?” he asked of school overcrowding. “You know what the Department of Education budget is? It’s $28.8 billion and you have overcrowding. You walk into some schools and there’s five dark classrooms. Why? Because they’re under-enrolled and they don’t use that classroom space. What do bureaucrats see? Cost saving — putting everyone in one classroom instead of recruiting an incredible new educator and have that classroom open so you can have 14 children to one educator.” Thompson’s policies likely won’t make him popular with the United Federation of Teachers union. He railed against D.O.E.’s reassignment centers, or “rubber rooms,” where teachers accused of misconduct are

sent for sometimes years at a time to await trial with full pay and no job responsibilities. He claimed de Blasio has put aside $90 million for the rubber rooms, funds he said would be better used to address youth homelessness. He’s also a big supporter of charter schools and criticized the mayor for “picking a fight” with charters to maintain support with the teachers union. “I’m a big believer in innovation and choice,” Thompson said. “So, the fact that the mayor picked a fight with charters, specifically Success Academy and Eva Moskowitz just because she can be a political foe — that’s garbage,” he said. “There are 80,000 parents of children in charter schools, and more children are on wait lists to get in. But he completely ignored that because he looked at his 260,000 votes in the primary and knows 100,000 of those were from the teachers union. That’s the universe in which he operates.”

The young challenger also believes he can put together a better administration than de Blasio. “When you start to become a vessel as mayor, cutting ribbons and doing fundraising, who is back home running the shop?” he asked. “That is what I always tell people — you can judge me as a candidate, but please look at my teams, the teams I’ve had across the country and built around me. Those folk will hold up to anyone’s public-sector capabilities, their private-sector capabilities. I really believe in private partnerships and bringing in those people making seven figures to have a sacrifice of making less in government service. Bloomberg had a great ability to do that. So I believe in my ability to recruit people to run the city with me.” In short, he doesn’t think de Blasio has a very good administrative team. He recalled speaking to a mayoral representative about the Rivington House debacle. “The team member said, ‘Hey, it was clear he had no idea what was going on, so there were no kickbacks or anything.’ So your explanation is that he either did something corrupt or he’s incompetent?” Thompson scoffed. “There’s no positive about it, and even with potential indictment, people say it may just be senior advisers. Brother, if you can’t manage your best friends, how are you going to manage a city? “I think some of the lack of transparency came because he said he wouldn’t partner with certain people — and then you recognize you have to — and he tried to sweep it under the rug,” Thompson said. “It’s putting yourself in a corner. Just speak openly. I’ll take everyone’s money, I’ll spend it better than they can,” he said. Thompson is particularly interested in “embracing the heck out of private partnerships,” specifically to address homelessness. He wants to reach out to potential philanthropic donors, such as “major family foundations and major corporations,” to contribute to the city to address homelessness. He wants to provide long-term, one-to-two-year housing for homeless individuals and families in the city to alleviate the stress of home insecurity. He also advocates for “healthy foods, coaching courses for how to interview for jobs, job fairs” and other support programs in shelters. “When you really get to know these communities, which I spent a lot of time around,” he said, “to think that, after seven years of tough luck, bad decisions by family members, that can be turned around in a short-term housing situation is wrong.” Thompson has raised $153,000 for his campaign, according to his first official campaign finance report filed last week. Januar y 19, 2017

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