The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
February 23, 2017 • $1.00 Volume 87 • Number 8
Th-tha-that’s all,folks! Lenders to foreclose on Toledano buildings BY DENNIS LYNCH
lmost as quickly as he burst onto the East Village real estate scene, notorious landlord Raphael Toledano is on his way out of the neighborhood. The 26year-old’s lenders filed court papers to foreclose on all 15 of his properties there this week. Madison Realty Corp. is fore-
closing to recoup $140 million — of which just under $125.1 million is in loans against the properties — according to the foreclosure statement. Toledano’s Brookhill Properties bought the properties from their longtime owners, the Tabak family, for $97 million in fall 2015. Madison lent him TOLEDANO continued on p. 3
Barrow neighbors fear ‘Nightmare on Jane II’ in Keller Hotel project BY DENNIS LYNCH
he Landmarks Preservation Commission told the owners of the Keller Hotel on Tuesday to head back to the drawing board and revise their plans to turn the Barrow St. landmark into an upscale hotel. The owners of the individual
city landmark and an adjacent lot, William Gottlieb Real Estate, want to renovate the existing building’s interior, convert some rooms into apartments, add a glass-encased rooftop addition, and add a third-story outdoor terrace, according to paperwork filed with the De-
PHOTO BY REBECCA WHITE
Rachel Ziegler, a leader of Saturday’s anti-fur march, kept up a chant while holding a grisly photo of dead, denuded geese as the group passed the Flatiron Building.
Fur ﬁght: Activists vow to cook Canada’s Goose
KELLER continued on p. 4
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
anada Goose is the hottest coat in New York right now. It is literally “the warmest” coat, built to handle the brutal, subfreezing conditions in “The Great White North.” Sporting their distinctive red-white-and-blue, circular shoulder patches, the pricey parkas — which sell for up to $1,500 — are ubiquitous
on the streets….as well as in the subways, cafes, elevators. Some call them “status symbols.” Every time you turn your head, it seems, there goes someone else wearing a Canada Goose coat, whether black, green, red or blue. It’s as if a Canada Goose army is roaming the streets. Why, the coats are almost as common as togas in ancient Rome, Mao tunics in China,
“cheese heads” at a Green Bay Packers game. But while Canada Goose coats are hot right now, animal-rights activists have been turning up the heat on the international brand. As well as the shoulder patch, many of the coats sport an eye-catching real coyote-fur ruff — the trim around the hood’s edge. In addition, the GOOSE continued on p. 6
Arresting interview with 9th Pct. top cop......... p. 10 Angry Buddhist ‘meditates’ on one-way toll .... p. 14 The state of the stores...........p. 13
ONE LOVE, ONE BOOK: Sometimes — but not always — it’s great when “everyone is on the same page.” That’s exactly what the “One Book, One New York” campaign, spearheaded by Julie Menin, the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, is aiming to achieve — namely, getting as many New Yorkers as possible to all simultaneously read one great book. It’s being dubbed, “the ultimate book club.” Menin recently invited us to Three Lives & Company Bookstore, at 154 W. 10th St., to tell us how it all works. Basically, from a shortlist of 50 books, five finalists were announced earlier this month. City residents now have a chance to vote for which one they would like all Gothamists to read. To vote, go to nyc.gov/onebook. The winner will be announced in March. Personally, we usually decide whether or not to dive into a book after reading its first page, and seeing if the writer can, in the words of the immortal (or immoral) Charles Bukowski, “lay down a line.” But to help folks in making their choice, celebrities — including Bebe Neuwirth, Larry Wilmore, Danielle Brooks, William H. Macy and Giancarlo Esposito — make video pitches for their pick on the agency’s Web site. Then, from March through May, New Yorkers will be encouraged to read the victorious volume, and there will also be public programming and promo ads to tie in with the campaign. The finalists are a mix of three women and two men, four fiction titles and one nonfiction. They include “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” by Junot Diaz; “Americanah,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; “Between the World and Me,” by Ta-Nehesi Coates; “The Sellout,” by Paul Beatty; and the 1943 classic “A Tree Goes in Brooklyn,” by Betty Smith. All five tomes have a connection to the New York City region — whether through their plots or authors — and deal with issues of race or immigration or both, definitely timely subjects at this moment. “I just think, in the unfortunate political climate that we’re in right now, these are the kind of discussions we want
”One book to rule them all”: Julie Menin has five great books for New Yorkers to read, but only one will be chosen for the “One Book, One New York” campaign.
to have,” Menin said. June will see a “big conversation” with the selected author, Menin added. She hopes the “One Book” campaign will be an annual affair. It’s a dual initiative, she explained, noting, “It’s part literacy. It’s part economic development.” In short, independent bookstores, as we all know, have been struggling to survive in New York. “The Bronx has no bookstores,” Menin noted. “Staten Island has one. There are 60 independent bookstores left in the city.” Having thousands of people go in and buy the “one book” — and hopefully the four other books, too — will be a big shot in the cash register. Troy, a manager at Three Lives, which stocks all five titles, said the picks are “solid choices” in the view of the store’s staff. “Many of us have read these books,” he said. There will also be 4,000 copies of the numero uno novel or nonfiction book at local public library branches. Menin’s agency used to focus on film, TV and radio broadcasting, but has been expanded to include music, advertising, publishing, digital media and real estate as it relates to creative content. New York, after all, she noted, is “the publishing capital of the world.”
GOOD RIDDANCE: Well, another alt-right blogger has crashed and burned. Milo Yiannopoulos has been canned by Breitbart News and Simon & Schuster has yanked his book deal after the race-baiting right-winger recently shockingly condoned child sex abuse on a podcast. At a recent Chelsea forum organized by state Senator Brad Hoylman on the rise of hate in America, Yiannopoulos was blasted as a dangerous “gateway drug” to 2
Februar y 23, 2017
the alt-right. “He got his comeuppance, that’s for sure,” Hoylman told us on Wednesday. “I hope that as more attention is paid to these figures of the alt-right, we can expose them for who they truly are: grotesque peddlers of hatred who want to wreck our multicultural society. Along with Donald Trump, who’s brought Steve Bannon and others out of the shadows and into the Oval Office, they’re responsible for the waves of bigotry we have seen washing across our country since Nov. 8.”
A NOTE ON NOTES: Stan Patz, the father of Etan Patz, contacted us last week to point out that a photo of a sheet of handwritten notes that we ran with last week’s article on the conviction of Pedro Hernandez in Etan’s death were actually not written by Hernandez, as our caption incorrectly stated. Instead, Patz explained, those notes were actually written by a detective who was attempting to record Hernandez’s initial confession to law enforcement officers in the Camden, N.J., prosecutor’s office after the suspect was arrested on the tip of a relative. “The problem is that [the detective] was trying to be too helpful with his suggestions, like ‘I am here voluntarily,’” Patz noted. “For that reason, the note was never a prominent part of the case. It may not have shown up in the second trial. This was part of a larger issue — the lack of a video recoding of the entire six-plus-hour interview.” As to last week’s conviction 38 years after his 6-year-old son’s disappearance, Patz said, “We finally have a measure of closure,” though he added, “Now we have to see what the appeals process will entail.” TheVillager.com
Toledano foreclosure TOLEDANO continued from p. 1
the funds â€” with high interest rates â€” for the purchase and future renovations. The foreclosure isnâ€™t exactly a surprise to the parties involved or anyone else familiar with New York real estate, according to a source familiar with the industry. Itâ€™s merely business as usual for Madison Capital, which often operates on a â€œloan-to-ownâ€? philosophy, said the source, who requested anonymity. Itâ€™s a win-win for Madison â€” either Toledano pays back his loan at the huge interest rates he signed up for, or they walk away with more than a dozen new properties in the East Village. â€œThey are lending money,â€? the insider explained, â€œbut fully anticipate that the loan may not be paid back and are happy to go through the foreclosure process to own the properties for the money they lent.â€? On top of that, Toledano â€œdid all the dirty workâ€? of clearing and renovating apartments, the source said. In other words, itâ€™s Toledanoâ€™s name plastered in The Villager and other local media outlets for allegedly strongarming rent-regulated tenants out of their apartments â€” not Madisonâ€™s. Employees at Brookhill Properties did not return requests for comment on the foreclosure, and automated responses from two employees said they were no longer working there. Real estate experts said in the past that Toledano was overleveraged from the beginning and that his success depended largely on how quickly he could raise the rents in his buildings. He became extremely unpopular with his tenants over the last year and a half, as he allegedly took to various tactics to boost revenues. Many of his rent-regulated tenants accused him of putting them in danger and threatening them. They even formed the Toledano Tenants Union to confront him as a united force. Toledano settled for $1 million with tenants of one of his E. 13th St. buildings after they sued him for allegedly harassing them. He was also known among his tenants for his bizarre behavior. There are reportedly taped conversation in which Toledano threatened to tenants to â€œdrop dynamiteâ€? in one of his E. 13th St. apartments, according to Gothamist. And he sent gift baskets with wine and fruit to tenants of a building that went without gas or hot water for more than a month. Craig Smith, a tenant in a Toledano building on E. Fifth St. sued him last year after the owner didnâ€™t renew Smithâ€™s familyâ€™s lease for their apartment. The case rests largely on whether Smithâ€™s apartment is actually determined to be rent-regulated or not. Smith is technically suing the limitedTheVillager.com
WONâ€™T YOU JOIN US?
This yearâ€™s honorees include:
Going, going, Toledano.
liability company that Toledano created for the property â€” setting these up is a common landlord practice in the city â€” so the suit could continue if Madison chooses to pursue it. Toledano has had some of these buildings on the market since last summer, even though he wrote in a 2015 Villager talking point that he was â€œdetermined to become a part of the fabric of the neighborhood.â€? He also told The Real Deal that he wanted to eventually hand his East Village buildings to his future children. In December, The Villager reported that he was shopping 13 buildings around for a rumored cool $160 million. Another young real estate investor, Joseph Sutton, had reportedly signed a contract to buy Toledanoâ€™s portfolio for around $145 million just a few days before Madison fi led to foreclose on them, according to The Real Deal. Sutton is the son of veteran investor Jeff Sutton. The fate of that deal is now unclear. Sutton did not return requests for comment. Toledanoâ€™s exit from the Village doesnâ€™t mean locals wonâ€™t be seeing more of him in the future, The Villagerâ€™s real estate source said. The real estate industry operates much differently than any other, he noted, and even after a colossal defeat, investors can rise from the ashes of a disaster like Toledanoâ€™s. â€œThe beauty and horrors of real estate is that itâ€™s more forgiving than Jesus,â€? the insider said. â€œYou can screw up or screw people any number of times and bankers will still throw money at you if they think they can make a buck.â€?
Governor David Paterson
Ana MarĂa Archila & Andrea Batista Schlesinger
Leo Preziosi, Jr.
Bryan John Ellicott
Suzanne Goldberg Charles Rice-Gonzalez
Christopher Tepper & Paul Kelterborn
Oriol R. Gutierrez
Jennifer Flynn Walker
Bishop Zachary Glenn Jones
List in formation
Post your congratulations message in the special keepsake issue proďŹ ling the honorees on March 30, 2017 Contact Amanda Tarley For More Information: 718-260-8340 | email@example.com
gaycitynews.nyc Februar y 23, 2017
Keller neighbors fear ‘Nightmare on Jane II’ KELLER continued from p. 1 Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association News Story, First Place, 2015 Editorial Page, First Place, 2015 Editorials, First Place, 2014 News Story, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Best Column, First Place, 2012 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011 Spot News Coverage, First Place, 2010 Coverage of Environment, First Place, 2009
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Februar y 23, 2017
partment of Buildings. William Gottlieb Real Estate also plans to demolish the neighboring onestory garages at 144 Barrow St. to construct a seven-story building attached to the Keller Hotel. Those garages are not landmarked, but at least one L.P.C. commissioner was curious how connecting a new building there to the Keller would affect the landmark. In general, the commissioners asked the applicant to reduce the height of the planned rooftop addition. Village residents made clear their disdain for the project at both a Community Board 2 meeting last week and the L.P.C. hearing. Neighbors of the Barrow St. landmark worry the project will create a high-priced party spot. Many are particularly miffed over the planned addition of a rooftop structure that architects, in a permit fi ling, called an “outdoor recreation space for residential tenants.” They worry it will be too loud for neighbors, especially for people living at Bailey House right next door. Bailey House, where 40 people currently live, is the country’s fi rst residence for people with H.I.V. / AIDS. The charity focuses on the formerly homeless, and offers on-site health services, counseling and of course what should be a quiet and comfortable room to sleep in. “There’s a human cost associated with that, and I think people need to be a little more vocal about what the human impact is of doing development like this,” said Regina Joseph, who lives directly next door to the garages. “The Keller is part of the history of the neighborhood, but so is Bailey House.” Her neighbor Daniela Turley believes the rooftop addition and the new building at the garage site would totally block off Bailey House’s light. The neighbors worry they would suffer the same fate as residents near the boutique hotel The Jane, at Jane and West Sts. The Jane’s neighbors have long complained of excessive noise, rowdy patrons and traffic generated by the trendy nightspot. Joseph also thought the rooftop addition wasn’t in line with the hotel’s history. The owners made a mock-up on the roof to show L.P.C. — and neighbors aren’t fans. “It’s certainly out of character and out of scale,” Joseph said. “We can see it. It doesn’t matter how far you set it back. You can see it from across Barrow St., from Christopher St., from the Christopher St. Pier. The further out you go on the pier, the more visible it becomes.” The Keller Hotel was built in 1898 and for decades catered to visitors and immigrants who disembarked from ferries and transatlantic ships at landings across what is now the West Side Highway. By 1935, it mainly housed “transient sailors,” according to the hotel’s 2007 L.P.C. designation report. William Gottlieb, an eccentric local
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
The Keller Hotel was rundown and empt y for years. “Even when it had a leather bar, the block was quiet,” a neighbor said, testif ying against the new plan for the old hotel at the C.B. 2 meeting last week.
real estate mogul, bought the property in 1985. The late Gottlieb, who owned around 100 properties of all kinds in the city — many of them in the Village and Meat Market area — was known for his rumpled attire, driving a beat-up station wagon with missing windows, and almost never renovating or otherwise investing in his properties. Gottlieb let the Keller Hotel sit vacant for years. The city converted it into a single-room occupancy (S.R.O.) — month-to-month rental units — in 1993, according to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which has advocated for its preservation. Gottlieb died in 1999 and leaving all to his sister, Mollie Bender. Bender died in 2007 and a feud ensued among her son — who she left many of those properties to — and other hopeful heirs in the family. Her son, Neil Bender, won in court in 2010 and has been partnering and developing his uncle’s multimillion-dollar properties in recent years. William Gottlieb Real Estate has partnered with investors on a number of projects on the old man’s properties in the Village. The company is behind the hotly opposed “Gansevoort Row” project in
the Gansevoort Market Historic District that Save Gansevoort, an ad hoc preservation group, has sued over. That project would demolish a row of one- and twostory buildings for two multistory commercial buildings. Opponents call the “Gansevoort Row” plans grossly out of context and charge that the project would replace buildings that contribute to the context of the historic district. A state civil court judge halted any work there until the lawsuit is resolved, which could happen next month. William Gottlieb Real Estate is also behind the troubled reconstruction of the former Pastis restaurant, at 9-19 Ninth Ave., just around the corner of the proposed “Gansevoort Row” development. The plan is to turn that property into a flagship store for the interior-decorating retailer Restoration Hardware. A construction worker was killed on site there in an accident in 2015, and D.O.B. warned project partner Aurora Capital Associates that the proposed 58,659square-foot store was almost six times as large as what the Building Code allows, according to DNAinfo. TheVillager.com
POLICE BLOTTER Stuy Town sex attack A teenager choked and tried to sexually assault a woman in the lobby of her Stuyvesant Town building early on the morning of Sun., Feb. 19. Aaron Kish, 17, was on leave from a New Jersey group home for troubled youths, when he attacked the 22-yearold woman. â€œHe admitted to attempting to kill, rape and molest the complaining witness,â€? a criminal complaint filed against Kish states. The woman had been walking home from a friendâ€™s house at 4:45 a.m. when Kish grabbed her from behind, knocked her down and choked her, police said. The attacker tore off her dress and underwear, and pulled his own pants down. The victim fought back ferociously during a 10-minute struggle. A male neighbor interrupted the assault, and the perpetrator fled. The Daily News reported that someone from Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital called 911 after the attacker â€” an â€œunaccompanied minorâ€? â€” walked into the emergency room with deep scratches on his chest and missing some clothes. Town & Village reported that Kish was taken to Beth Israel after he had been found unconscious on Park Avenue South.
Kish has been charged with attempted murder, attempted rape, attempted criminal sex act, assault and sexual abuse. His defense attorney argued that he has a very low IQ and should not be charged with attempted murder.
Village baby dies A 21-month-old baby was found unconscious and unresponsive inside an East Village apartment on the morning of Thurs., Feb. 16, police said. Police arrived at 32 E. 10th St., Apartment 2, at 8:50 a.m., after the mother called 911. The infant boy, Reid Smith, was transported by EMS to Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. There were no obvious signs of trauma observed, according to police. The New York Post reported that the father was away on business and that the couple also have a 4-year-old son. â€œIt seems like just an unfortunate incident,â€? a law enforcement source told the Post, adding that the parents took the baby to the hospital last year for a high fever. It was unclear if the child had a history of medical issues. The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death. The investigation is ongoing.
Pushed into glass door Bobst swipe Police said a woman was assaulted by her boyfriend inside 202 W. 14th St. on Sun., Feb. 12, at 11:40 p.m. They said the man pushed the woman, 48, into a glass door, injuring her. Jean Marc Choffel, 43, was arrested Mon., Feb. 13 for felony assault.
Minor uprising According to police, guy didnâ€™t take kindly to being escorted out of the Stonewall Inn on the evening of Sun., Feb. 19. As the suspect was being booted out of the bar, at 53 Christopher St., at 10:10 p.m. for being unruly and aggressive, he punched an employee, 50, in the face and broke his glasses. Gregory Lewis, 33, was arrested for felony criminal mischief.
Big CVS theft According to police, on Sun., Feb. 19, at 10:17 a.m., a man was observed stealing items from a glass case at the CVS store at 75 Christopher St., putting them into his bag, and then leaving without paying. An employee chased him and flagged down nearby officers. Michael J. Buonarobo, 31, stole goods totaling $1,804. He was charged with eight counts of grand larceny.
A student who left her wallet unattended at a desk in N.Y.U. Bobst Library, at 70 Washington Square South, on Wed., Feb. 15, found it missing at 11:50 a.m. The victim, 21, walked away from her seat for five minutes and returned to find her wallet gone, according to police. There were no witnesses to the alleged theft. No charges were made on her credit card. Police arrested Youma Diakite, 20, for felony grand larceny.
Subway sleaze A 14-year-old girl told police that on Mon., Feb. 6, at 1 p.m., she and a man who she did not know boarded a westbound L train at Union Square, and that the straphanger started masturbating. When the train reached Sixth Ave., the girl exited. The man followed her up to the mezzanine. The victim exited the station. The suspect boarded another train. The suspect is around age 35, about 5 feet 6 inches tall and 150 pounds, with a goatee and last seen wearing a black coat with a fur or faux fur collar. Anyone with information is asked to call the Police Departmentâ€™s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS, or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).
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Fur ﬁght: Activists vow to cook Canada’s Goose; GOOSE continued from p. 1
jackets are filled with goose and duck down. The activists charge that the coyotes are cruelly caught in the wild with steel-jawed traps, and suffer until they are either shot, strangled or bludgeoned to death. Many other animals are also inadvertently snared in the traps, they add. They also suspect that the down comes from “live plucked” birds — though Canada Goose vigorously denies this. Meanwhile, the luxury coat maker has experienced a huge growth in recent years, with $300 million in sales in 2015. Previously, the coats were sold in department stores. But in November, Canada Goose opened its first two stand-alone flagship retail stores, in Toronto and in Soho in New York City. The activists in New York have been making some noise — make that a lot of noise — over the new store. Loud protests have been ongoing since its Nov. 17 opening at 101 Wooster St., between Spring and Prince Sts. There reportedly are also ongoing protests at the Toronto store, plus at retail locations selling Canada Goose garb around the world in places like Tokyo and Stockholm. The protesters hail from a number of different animalrights groups, including Toronto Pig Save, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Caring Activists Against Fur (CAAF), LION, Woodstock Farm Sanctuary and TheirTurn. As for the Wooster St. block, it is fully residential and the people living there have been driven to distraction by the protests, which are biggest and loudest on the weekends. According to police there has been one arrest at the location so far. On Sat., Feb. 4., Robert McCullough, 33, of Prospect Lefferts Garden, in Brooklyn, was charged with disorderly conduct. However, a handout sheet from City Councilmember Margaret Chin at last Thursday’s Community Board 2 full-board meeting said there have been three arrests to date.
The silent approach Taking a new tack, though, late last Saturday afternoon the activists held a totally silent vigil in front of the Soho outerwear outlet. Holding electric candles and protest signs — “Don’t be a fur hag,” “Wear your own skin” — about 250 of them lined both sides of the street outside the store for about 45 minutes as twilight fell. The event, as one of them put it, was “a moment of silence for all the hundreds of thousands of coyotes and geese and other animals caught in the traps.” A detail of about 20 police from the First Precinct had set up a protest pen on the east side of the street but didn’t
Februar y 23, 2017
PHOTOS BY REBECCA WHITE
Saturday’s anti-fur marchers protested outside Paragon, at 18th St. and Broadway, because the spor tinggoods store carries an ex tensive line of Canada Goose coats for men and women.
make the protesters go into it. Also observing things on the police detail was Philip Lam, the executive officer, or second in command, of the Fifth Precinct, who said he had walked over partly because it was “a beautiful day to be out.” Such was the focus on absolute silence, that one of the group’s leaders repeatedly shushed a reporter who was trying to interview the protesters. They had marched in silently and then, after the protest, dispersed quietly. Earlier, though, with a drum, two bullhorns and chants, they had started an “anti-fur march” up at Bryant Park and hit Paragon along their way Downtown to the Soho store. As they marched, their chants included, “Canada Goose, shut them down!”, “The fur trade is a lie! How many animals have to die?” and “There’s no excuse for animal abuse!” Paragon, the iconic sporting-goods store, at 18th St. and Broadway, features a large selection of Canada Goose coats. The marchers protested loudly outside Paragon, chanting, “Paragon sports has blood on their hands!” They also chewed out Canada Goose-clad people as they passed them on the pavement and in cafes along their route. During the silent Soho protest, Victoria Barbieri, who lives and works in
her loft right near the Canada Goose store, came outside with her Italian waterdog, Giovanni Franco Barbieri. She spoke with Michelle Morrow, one of the protesters, who The Villager was interviewing at a slight distance away
‘It’s been 12 weeks of screaming. This is so moving.’ Victoria Barbieri
from the vigilers. “I live here,” Barbieri said. “It’s been 12 weeks of screaming and yelling. This is so moving,” she said of the quiet, candle-lit protest. “The screaming and yelling just treated us, the residents, like collateral damage. I’m so happy and grateful to see this.” Barbieri said Giovanni had been
“hiding in the bathtub” during the earlier earsplitting demonstrations. Bending down and petting him, Morrow told him, “Sorry, Giovanni. We’re doing this for all your friends.” The activists note also that dog fur is often passed off as fox or coyote fur. Barbieri said she was troubled, however, by reports that even small children had been yelled at by the protesters. She said she had come down last Saturday to ring the buzzer of her friends across the street and get them to witness the phenomenon of the silent vigil. She said she backs the activists’ crusade to get Canada Goose to stop using the coyote-fur ruffs. “Absolutely, I support that,” she said. At the same time, she added — probably unconsciously using an animal idiom — “We have bigger fish to fry now,” referring to the situation in Washington, D.C.
Trump? Fur-geddaboutit Indeed, these have been among the few protests in the past few months that have not focused on Donald Trump. Yet Trump — not surprisingly — GOOSE continued on p. 7 TheVillager.com
Raucous protests have rufﬂed residents’ feathers GOOSE continued from p. 6
is also part of the problem on animal rights, Morrow sadly noted. “He wears fur — and his sons are trophy hunters,” she said. “The animals have no voice anymore.” In keeping with their ideals, most of the Canada Goose protesters are vegan. A few are only vegetarian — still eating dairy — but will likely soon turn vegan, said Elizabeth Argibay, one of the activists, as she stood holding her candle and sign. “Treasure all life — go vegan,” a woman standing next to her chimed in. It’s easy to do with all the food options in New York City, they added. At the January C.B. 2 full-board meeting, Paul Leonard, Councilmember Chin’s communications director, had told the board members that the protests outside the Soho Canada Goose store had become a huge headache for the block’s residents. At last week’s February full-board meeting, in turn, 35 animal-rights activists turned out in a show of force and resolve. Three of them briefly testified at the start of the meeting during the board’s public session, explaining why they are determined to keep protesting. They said their next stop is the First Precinct Community Council meeting this Thursday, where they will again defend their actions. As for the community board, it has not passed a resolution on the issue. Terri Cude, the board’s chairperson, said safety is the most important thing. “While C.B. 2 does not have an official position on the Canada Goose protesters, certainly people should be able to enjoy their homes, and nobody should be made to feel endangered or under attack due to protests on their blocks,” Cude told The Villager. “While I staunchly support the First Amendment, making children feel threatened as they attempt to get home from school is not acceptable.”
Cude good with synths Asked if she personally would buy a Canada Goose coat with coyote-fur fringe, she answered, “My winter parka was made from several polyesters and one innocent acrylic.” The animal-rights activists say they’re confused at this point if they are even allowed to chant at all. Police are now coming armed with a sound meter and are checking decibel levels. Leonard from Chin’s office said the protesters can chant, but not above the legal sound limit. Speaking after Saturday’s protest, Meredith Schriver, wearing a “F--Fur” hat, stressed, “We’re trying to work with the community. We’re here because Canada Goose is here. We’re TheVillager.com
PHOTO BY REBECCA WHITE
Flanked by gruesome photos of skinned coyotes, a little girl par ticipated in the silent candlelight vigil outside the Canada Goose store after Saturday’s anti-fur march. Previous protests have been deafening.
not against the people who live here.” Asked if the 100 percent silent vigil will be the norm for the weekend protests going forward, Nathan Semmel, another member of the group, said they can’t necessarily guarantee that, but that they have gotten the message. “In weeks, you haven’t heard drums and whistles and things like that,” he noted. “We’re adapting.”
Not down with C.G. Jill Carnegie, who was videoing the protest for the anti-fur fighters, expressed deep skepticism that Canada Goose’s down is merely a byproduct of the poultry industry. “It’s been established that basically all down is live-harvested,” she said. “I’ve been researching this as an animal activist for 20 years.” When the fowls’ feathers are live-harvested, their skin can be ripped open, and the bloody birds are then stapled back together again. They want to see evidence supporting Canada Goose’s claims of humane down harvesting. “Show the footage,” she challenged. Carnegie noted that fur was on the decline in the 1980s and through the mid-’90s, but then began to make a comeback use as trim. She noted that the coyotes sometimes try to gnaw off their own legs to try to escape the traps. “Often they’re female — they’re trying to get back to their cubs,” she said.
As a cruelty-free alternative, Carnegie touted VauteCouture, which has a flagship store on the Lower East Side at 114 Stanton St., and offers chic animal-free designs. The company’s statement says it’s “the world’s first vegan fashion brand, founded with a mission of taking animals out of the fashion equation.” Argibay scoffed that coyote fur is even needed in places like here, saying, “This is New York. They’re not selling to an Arctic-weather audience.”
Function and fashion But a manager inside the Soho store explained that Canada Goose’s gear was initially created for “function not fashion,” and that’s how it remains today and that many people still buy it for use in extreme conditions. He said coyote fur is one of only a few types of fur that won’t freeze when moist human breath hits it. The fur ruff creates “a pocket of warm air” around the face, he said. The ruffs are detachable for most of the coats, though, which can be purchased without them, he added. In an official statement to The Villager, Canada Goose said: “No matter where they’re worn, our products are designed and built to protect against the elements in the harshest environments on Earth. We understand that some people think animal products should never be used in any consumer products, including food, and we respect that. However, we do not share
the same view. “PETA and other activist groups misrepresent the facts and use sensational tactics to try to illicit a reaction — they have been using the same rhetoric for years. Such groups attempt to mislead consumers through a series of attacks that ignore strict government regulation and standards, as well as our commitment to ethical sourcing practices and responsible use of fur and down. “We remain deeply committed to the responsible use and ethical sourcing of all animal materials in our products, as evidenced by our Transparency Standards. We do not condone any wilful mistreatment, neglect or acts that maliciously cause undue pain, injury or suffering toward animals, and we are committed to providing full transparency about how we make our products.” The company provided two videos briefly stating their humane policy on down and coyote trapping, which are viewable at canadagoose.com. In the case of its down, the company says it comes from birds that are not force-fed, either, while coyotes are often viewed as “pests” since they eat livestock. On display in the Soho store last weekend — in addition to the contentious winter coats — were some of the brand’s “spring collection,” which don’t sport coyote fur, though in some cases do have a light layer of down in part or all of the jacket. GOOSE continued on p. 8 Februar y 23, 2017
Canada Goose defends its â€˜functionalâ€™ fur trim GOOSE continued from p. 7
â€˜Gooseâ€™ loose at Paragon At Paragon on Saturday, a salesman working the floor said most of the winter coats for Canada Goose and OSC, another Canadian brand, do feature coyote fur trim. Many of the costly coats â€” in colors of blue, green and red â€” were on sale for 25 or 30 percent off. â€œBut not the black Canada Goose,â€? he stressed. â€œItâ€™s the most popular coat in New York.â€? Paragon also had on display hats with jumbo-sized coyote-fur ear flaps selling for $250. In a phone interview, a Paragon customer-service representative said the coats have gotten more popular over the past five years. â€œYes, everyone has one in New York City,â€? she said. â€œItâ€™s a preference, itâ€™s fashion.â€? Asked if she knew about the protests, she said, â€œI see the news. â€Ś Weâ€™re just selling the product. Itâ€™s up to the customer if they want to buy it.â€? Meanwhile, Councilmember Chin is mainly concerned about keeping down the noise and ensuring that no one is harassed. â€œThey were clearly violating the decibel levels,â€? her spokesperson Leonard said of the earlier protests. â€œThere have been incidents where residents were
PHOTO BY REBECCA WHITE
Animal-rights activists protested Saturday outside Paragon, where the popular goose-down coats are literally flying off the racks.
chased down the block and kids harassed, with people sticking graphic images of animals in their faces, and using foul language. The councilmember is very happy that the Police Department is enforcing the noise code and ensuring the safety of the residents on that block. And we have reached out to the District Attorneyâ€™s Office.â€?
Chin vs. shark ďŹ ns Four years ago, Chin supported a state bill to ban possession of shark fins in New York State. Their use in shark-fin soup, a Chinese delicacy, was believed to be pushing some shark species to extinction. Asked if he saw any parallel between the protests against consumption of shark fins and the use of coyote fur on coats, Leonard did not directly answer the question.
â€œOur focus at the site,â€? he reiterated, â€œhas been to protect the quality of life for residents and ensure their safety.â€? Meanwhile, again, itâ€™s not hard to fi nd Canada Goose wearers to interview. The city is crawling with them. At lunchtime last Friday, Warren Dunton, 26 â€”sporting a black Canada Goose parka with fur trim â€”was buying a beverage in a Duane Reade near The Villagerâ€™s office. He lives in East Midtown and works in 3-D printing sales. â€œMy girlfriend has one, too, but she doesnâ€™t wear the collar anymore,â€? he said. â€œShe volunteers with rescue animals.â€? The collar is functional, he said, as it does provide warmth. He demonstrated fi rst by putting it up horizontally around his head like a collar. â€œYou donâ€™t need a scarf, it keeps your ears warm,â€? he said. Asked how it works as a hood, he demonstrated the â€œfull snorkelâ€? look by pulling it over his head. â€œItâ€™s intense,â€? he said with a smile. â€œItâ€™s like the warmest coat Iâ€™ve ever had.â€? He, for one, will keep wearing his coat now since he already has it. He bought it at a department store before he learned about the protests. Knowing what he does now about the coats, though, he said, â€œI would not buy it again.â€?
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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.
Februar y 23, 2017
9th top cop on noise, N.C.O.’s, ‘no park tower’ BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
aptain Vincent Greany, the young new commander of the Ninth Precinct, was fi nishing up a cup of green tea in his office when The Villager arrived on a recent morning at the E. Fifth St. stationhouse. Greany, 38, has an earnest, yet calm and professional demeanor. He has been the commanding officer at the East Village precinct since last June. In a wide-ranging, hour-and-a-half-long interview, he talked about the problems of bar noise and cell phone theft, the precinct’s new Neighborhood Coordination Officers program, the parking spots in front of the Hells Angels’ clubhouse, why Tompkins Square Park should never have a police surveillance tower and how the precinct is using social media to combat crime. Greany previously served in Manhattan in other precincts covering Midtown, Washington Heights, Harlem and Gramercy, as well as in the Police Department’s Narcotics Division and Internal Affairs Bureau, the latter in which he fought departmental corruption. Right before coming to the Ninth, he was assigned to a federal task force that handled narcotics and money-laundering cases. He was promoted to captain while still in his early 30s. Greany gives every impression of being a straight arrow. No one in his family had ever been a cop, but it was always a calling for him. “I knew early on that I wanted to go into law enforcement and have that life of helping others, that significance,” he said. “It’s just something that I had early on, that I wanted to be a police officer.” He didn’t consider being a fi refighter, though. “No, I’m afraid of fi res,” he said. He is married and lives with his family north of the city, within the allowable distance to be a member of the New York Police Department. He was born and raised in the Norwood section of the Bronx. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Marist College. He is enjoying his new command. “The Ninth is good,” he said. “It’s the fi rst time I got to work in the East Village. There’s a lot of bars and restaurants. It’s very diverse. There’s a lot of school kids — N.Y.U., St. John’s, Cooper Union — and longtime residents.” He likes that unique mix. There is the vibrancy of the young university students. At the same time, he also has respect for the neighborhood veterans, who have stuck it out through the years and care passionately about their neighborhood. “I like meeting all the different people in the community,” he said. “The residents who have lived here a long time — listening to them, they enlighten me and I really get to hear the history of the neighborhood. Then you get the students, people who are coming here from all over the world.”
Bar noise battle Dealing with noise from all the area’s nightlife is a constant challenge in the Ninth. “We try to work with the business owners the best we can and manage the noise,” Greany said. “I often say at the Community Council, if I could manage the noise, I’d be mayor of New York City. It’s the number one complaint in New York City.” He was referring to the Ninth Precinct Community Council, the monthly meeting at which officers report to the community about local crime, then
Februar y 23, 2017
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Captain Vincent Greany is leading the Ninth Precinct in a communit y-oriented direction under the new Neighborhood Coordination Officers program.
field residents’ questions about their concerns. Indeed, in the last 20 years, annual homicides in the city have plunged from 2,300 to 335 last year. New York is a noisy place, though, and keeping the decibels down to a reasonable level is a constant struggle. “There’s a level of noise, and then there’s an outrageous level of noise,” Greany noted. “Since I’ve been here, I try to get the bar owners and the complainants together. They’ve just got to hear each other face to face.” That approach has been a success, as problem operators have worked to turn down the volume. “I use a lot of baseball analogies,” the captain said. “So far, I’ve been 5 for 5. “A lot of it is the simple solution of closing the door, paying attention to the patrons outside the establishment and bringing them back inside or telling them to disperse,” he noted. “Some of the places in the East Village, I’ve seen they’ve got really good soundproofi ng inside. It really helps.”
Terrorism conscious “Another thing,” Greany added, “we try to stay linked in with the bars and restaurants because of the terrorism aspect.” In other words, in today’s reality, anywhere with large gatherings and large numbers of people in the street and nightlife districts, police must be vigilant. After the Bataclan shooting in Paris in November 2015, French people vigiling in Washington Square Park noted that the 11th arrondissement is a lot like the East Village. “That could happen anywhere,” Greany said after The Villager mentioned the Bataclan attack. “That’s something we think about on a daily basis. The most important thing is keeping that connection between us and the establishments — making sure camera systems work, ID scanners work. If they have any large event, we work with the club or
bar. We’ll meet with them before the event.” Asked if there were any clubs in particular that the precinct works with closely on large events, Greany mentioned Webster Hall.
Tompkins Square Asked about Tompkins Square Park, Greany said, “It’s a place we like to interact with the community rather than just do enforcement. But there are narcotics arrests in there. We work with the Department of Homeless Services and the Narcotics Division to make sure there are no encampments. We don’t want to go backwards.” He was referring to the homeless “tent city” that mushroomed in the park after the riots. Queried about concerns voiced by some about the decibel level from the annual Tompkins Square Riots anniversary concerts and hardcore punk shows, Greany said he met with some of the concert organizers over the summer. “I was 10 years old back in 1988. I vaguely remember seeing some of that on TV,” he said of the riots. “The idea is to not overpolice it. That’s not necessary. ... Since I’ve been here, crime in the park has gone down and our visibility in the park has gone way up. That’s the way we’d like to keep it.” What about the police surveillance tower that was stationed in the park two summers ago after an uptick of homelessness there? Neighborhood outcry and a petition quickly led to the tower’s removal in less than a week. “No tower,” Greany stressed. “It’s a park. We don’t need a watchtower in there.” Overall crime is down in the precinct, he noted, despite “stop and frisk” having been reduced 90 percent citywide. “We correlated that to more-focused policing,” he said of the crime reduction. “When you focus in, GREANY continued on p. 22 TheVillager.com
Historic E. 6th â€˜tenement synagogueâ€™ reopens BY LESLEY SUSSMAN
he historic, more than 100year-old Anshe Meseritz Synagogue, which was renovated to make room for luxury condominiums, reopened its doors in the East Village this month after a four-year hiatus. The original synagogue was constructed in 1910 by Polish immigrants from the renovation of a small apartment building at 415 E. Sixth St. The new five-story project features three luxury apartments, including an 11foot-tall penthouse on top of the structure. The ground floor of the landmarked building, which was also completely renovated, is where the newly redesigned house of worship is located. Rabbi Pesach Ackerman served as spiritual leader there for more than four decades until his death in 2013. â€œMy dad would be happy and proud that the synagogue will continue to operate,â€? the late rabbiâ€™s son Sanford Ackerman said. â€œSo am I and so is my family. This is a great achievement. We will be continuing the tradition of this historic synagogue and it will be there for another hundred years.â€? Ackerman said he believed the new changes in the synagogue will please most of the congregants. â€œItâ€™s smaller, but it will look nicer
PHOTO BY LESLEY SUSSMAN
Rabbi Kalmin Nochlin is the new leader of Anshe Meseritz Synagogue.
because the building is brand new,â€? he said. â€œA lot of work has been put into it. It will be air-conditioned and handicapped accessible. I think that the neighborhood will be happy that the synagogue is continuing.â€? Shelley Ackerman, one of the late rabbiâ€™s daughters, also said that her father would be extremely pleased by
the synagogueâ€™s reopening. â€œMy father had a calling to serve God,â€? she said. â€œHe was a man of the people and loved the Lower East Side. I think he would have been overwhelmed by its beauty, and all of the updates so lovingly interwoven with the synagogueâ€™s relics. He would have been glad about the upgrades that will certainly make the space more comfortable for all to attend.â€? Rabbi Kalmin Nochlin, 46, is the synagogueâ€™s new spiritual leader. â€œI was born and bred on the Lower East Side and my foremost passion is Jewish education,â€? Nochlin said. â€œI consider myself to be a teaching rabbi and I am excited to teach and learn in my new position as rabbi of this historic synagogue, which has a long and illustrious history.â€? Nochlin, who currently teaches Judaic studies to junior high school students at Yeshiva of Flatbush, added that his goal is to bring more people â€” both from the neighborhood and beyond â€” into the life of the house of worship. â€œIâ€™d like to involve people who have never been involved with synagogue services before,â€? he said. â€œIâ€™d like to have childrenâ€™s programs and involve singles who live in the neighborhood. Iâ€™d like to make a connection to the college community.
â€œIâ€™d also really like to teach appreciation for Judaism that goes beyond this synagogue where people simply come to pray,â€? he added. â€œI want them to learn the history of Judaism and the rich tradition that we have. This will be a synagogue that reaches out to others and educates others.â€? The synagogue board signed a 99year lease with East River Partners in 2013 in an effort to save the rapidly deteriorating building, which it had no funds to repair. As part of the $1-million-dollarplus lease deal, the synagogue signed over the rights to its second floor, which once housed the main sanctuary. Anshe Meseritz will have the right to continue operating on the ground-floor and basement levels for the 99-year leaseâ€™s duration. Martin Cohen, the synagogueâ€™s attorney, also expressed his delight at its reopening. â€œThe work of the board was a beautiful thing to watch,â€? he said. â€œLegally, there were a lot of issues getting the contract in place with East River Partners and various landmark issues. I truly believe that God made certain that this synagogue would reopen.â€?
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Just like being there To The Editor: Re “Top journos talk on yuuge new task: How to cover Trump?” (news article, Feb. 16): Fabulous panel. Sorry I missed it. But Reinholz’s article — as always — covered the proceedings brilliantly! Dr. Janet Wolfe
It takes a Villager. Your local news source
Glib and insulting To The Editor: Re “Oh say can you see something but say nothing?” (Lenore Skenazy, Feb. 16): I was there that day, 9/11. I wish someone had said something. Your glib remarks are an insult to the people who died in the buildings and the pits. Shame on you.
es where this has been done in cities all over the world and been successful. We should try it, and revert back to the current layout if it turns out to be the disaster all the naysayers claim it will be. We need to be flexible and innovate — not just stick to what worked in the 1930s. Larry Dubner E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 MetroTech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, 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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June 16, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 24
Critics blast landmark bill as ‘anti-preservation’; Say ‘loophole’ offers little hope BY YANNIC R ACK
contentious bill that will put deadlines on the city’s preservation agency to designate landmarks within two years was passed by the City Council last week. There was heavy opposition from preservationists and even initial disapproval from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission itself — but the measure might be moot due
BY MICHAEL OSSORGUINE he Omnibus Child Victims Act, or Senate Bill S6367, is the latest effort from state Democrats to reform the statute of limitations on victims of child sexual abuse. The bill, though still in committee, has momentum in the Senate as victims are stepping forward
to a loophole, according to its chief critics. The legislation, Intro 775A, mandates that L.P.C. vote within one year to designate proposed individual landmarks, and take no longer than two years to vote on proposed historic districts — limits that the bill’s opponents charge could lead to the loss of countless potential landmarks.
Yes way to PeopleWay!
LANDMARKS continued on p. 12
Hoylman pushes Albany to pass child sex-abuse reform, but Senate stalls
To The Editor: Re “Community vibe is alive at annual Acker Awards” (news article, Feb. 16): Please note that Acker Award recipient Jackie Rudin is not a co-founder of Wow Cafe. It was Peggy Shaw, Lois Weaver, Pam Cambridge and Jordan Marks.
and Senate Democrats are arguing against entrenched opposition. State Senator Brad Hoylman introduced the Senate version of the bill with several co-sponsors, including Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the leader of the Democratic Conference. ABUSE continued on p. 14
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Thousands of points of light: Monday night’s vigil stretched along Christopher St. from Waverly Place to Seventh Ave. South.
‘We shall overcome’: Vigils draw thousands to Village BY PAUL SCHINDLER
n two vigils in the West Village on Sunday evening, one crowd numbering in the thousands, another in the hundreds voiced shock, grief, and anger over the murder of 50 patrons of an Orlando, Florida, gay bar in the early morning hours of the same day. Speaker after speaker emphasized that the violence cannot be isolated from a climate of anti-L.G.B.T. hatred that continues to persist across the nation, but also pledged to continue building community to respond to hostility and bigotry where it exists.
At the same time, both crowds rejected the notion that hate is an appropriate response to the violence and speciﬁcally called out efforts to pit the L.G.B.T. community against the Muslim community over a tragedy in which the shooter, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, is reported to have phoned 911 just prior to the massacre and pledged his allegiance to ISIS. Ken Kidd, a member of Queer Nation New York, took the lead in organizing a rally outside the Stonewall Inn that drew several thousand people. “We come together because this is a community that will
never be silent again,” he said. “I ask every person to think of someone you knew who was killed because of anti-L.G.B.T. hatred. Think of a time when you felt unsafe in your own community. And I want every single one of you to think not of what anyone else, not of what I, but of what you can do to change that.” Kidd said the L.G.B.T. community should draw strength from the 49 patrons of the Pulse nightclub who were killed. “We must go forward in love,” he said. Mirna Haidar, a representa-
To The Editor: The 14th St. PeopleWay is actually a good idea. The fact that there are gas and power lines under the street makes it all the more necessary because those will create more congestion pinch points that delay buses because of just a handful of cars. You can either bury your head in the sand and scream, “No! No! No!” or you can look at other plac-
PHOTO BY MILO HESS
Thousands of people chose to spend at least par t of their Presidents’ Day federal holiday protesting in “Not My President Day” marches and actions around the countr y. A demonstrator in New York at Columbus Circle, outside the Trump International Hotel, above, advocated for hitting Donald Trump where it would hur t the most — Twitter.
VIGILS continued on p. 5
Graffiti artist tags Haring group in lawsuit ...... p. 16 Remembering Ramrod rampage of 1980.........p. 21 Here comes the sun energy...p. 18
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The M.T. A . — “Going” your way!
Februar y 23, 2017
Taking stock of the state of Village’s stores
TALKING POINT BY MICHELE HERMAN
he dog and I took a midday stroll along Christopher St., a route we haven’t walked much since the Citibank branch where I used to do my banking closed last year. On the single block between Hudson and Bleecker, I counted eight empty storefronts. I’ve lived in the Village long enough to have witnessed periodic cycles of extreme vacancy, so I wasn’t shocked exactly. No, what I felt was more a pervading anxiety about the impending collapse of the whole world order, a worry that in-person commerce is going the way of the local tinsmith while the populace placidly waits for the price of robots to come down on Amazon. I thought maybe my imagination was getting ahead of me, leaping from a motley handful of shuttered sex shops to total upheaval of everything we think we know about cities and commerce. But then I turned the corner onto Bleecker and counted another bunch of empty stores. I reasoned that randy Christopher St. might be a special case, but empty storefronts on a major fashionista destination like Bleecker surely point to something way out of whack with the economy. What I wanted to know was whether it’s the kind of out-of-whack thing that will right itself gradually and imperfectly, the way market economies sometimes do. Or is it the kind that will get its own chapter in history books — the Industrial Revolution, World War II, the End of Stores? This is assuming there will be history books and that we will all agree on what history is. Clearly, I needed some help sorting this store situation out, so I called on two experts I know: the president of a retail chain who is also a real-estate developer because, as he told me, retail is basically screwed; and an expert on business cycles who has proved prescient many times, as when his firm warned in 2011 that the economic recovery was completely passing by less-educated white men. I also cold-called a broker whose phone number was posted in one of the vacant Christopher storefronts who, it turns out, is thinking hard about this very topic. Though they look at the economy through different lenses, all three confirmed my fears about a rough road ahead for many forms of traditional retail. To put it bluntly: If the overvalued properties and onerous regulations don’t choke retail — both independent and chains — in the short term, the $15 minimum wage, online shopping and the new direct-to-consumer economy will kill it later unless businesses can figure out ways to adapt. The first thing that’s out of whack at the moment is the discrepancy between the value of residential and commercial spaces, especially here in Manhattan. The broker I cold called, Harry Zikos of Nest Seekers International, grew up in Astoria in a family of brokers, landlords and builders. He confirmed my suspicion that Christopher St. landlords are basically greedy at the moment. “They’re getting top dollar on their residential, but truth be told, the commercial space is not worth as much,” he said. “There’s a lot that goes into the dynamic of bricks-and-mortar retail.” He thinks that landlords will eventually realize they can’t command anywhere near the roughly $128 per square foot they’re asking now for those skinny spaces. Another reason for all the vacancies, he said, is the TheVillager.com
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
One of many currently empt y storefronts along Bleecker St. in the Village.
large number of sign-offs required from various city agencies, including Health, Buildings and, here in the Village, the Landmarks Preservation Commission. “Not everyone wants a bar or a food tenant,” he added, “so that limits the possibilities. And there’s not that much foot traffic.” David Weinman, president of the Fabco Shoes chain and a separate development company, echoed many of Zikos’s sentiments. He scoffed at the very idea of shopping on Christopher St. First of all, he said, everyone
Increasingly, people are shopping with their phones.
buys their sex toys online now. “It’s not really a shopping street,” he added. “It has no raison d’être.” Even streets that have long been known as shopping destinations are struggling. “Have you walked down Canal St. lately?” he asked. “Half the street is vacant.” Eighth St. and Sixth Ave., he added, are barely viable. “Who’s there — N.Y.U. students?” Then Weinman mentioned a half-dozen additional depressing factors affecting retail citywide. He placed a fair amount of blame on the city’s annual valuations, which rise every year as a matter of course, bringing up real-estate taxes. His big concern for both chains and small independent businesses is the impending rise in the minimum wage.
“It will have a devastating impact,” he said. “We’re facing imminent store closings because of it. Both supermarkets and small stores that depend on labor just can’t pay the labor and rent and can’t make money.” He pointed to one of his tenants, a Dairy Queen on W. 14th St. Like all fast food, he said, “it’s a labor-heavy operation — what, with cleaning, stocking, cooking, servicing and night-shift employees pumping oil out of the tanks.” Even McDonald’s, he added, is struggling to create a new kiosk-like model with smaller spaces and fewer employees. Add to that, he said, a glut of mall building in the boroughs, where the land is still relatively cheap, which has arrived at the same time that people are spending less time in stores. He told me anecdotally that one prominent local chain counts the amount of foot traffic in front of each of its 80 stores in the city, and has seen an annual decline between 3 and 6 percent over the past seven years. Meanwhile, banks remain willing to lend, so developers keep building, further feeding the glut in the boroughs. “If Macy’s is not doing well,” he said, referring to the chain’s closing of 68 stores last year, “no one is doing well.” He then rattled off a list of chains that are in trouble: “Forget about Sears and Kmart — they will disappear.” So who’s thriving? Being a shoe guy, Weinman singled out the new Nike superstore on Broadway, and the Ugg’s stores, along with the Burton Snowboards store in Soho and Warby Parker eyeglasses. Who stands a chance in the near future? “Stores with something very special to offer or iconic stores like REI, Paragon, B&H,” he said, “big spaces, really well-run. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Three Lives bookstore has a following.” Anirvan Banerji, co-founder and chief research officer of the Economic Cycle Research Institute, concurred on rent and regulations as two of the three biggest culprits.
STORES continued on p. 20 Februar y 23, 2017
Nadler and Schumer, a pair of highway robbers THE ANGRY BUDDHIST BY CARL ROSENSTEIN
olin Mixson’s Feb. 9 article “For whom the bridge tolls; New push to make Verrazano fee two-way,” explaining the current status of the Verrazano Bridge’s one-way toll, only touched the potholed surface of this corrupt political disaster. This nightmare toll has punished neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan with insane traffic for 30 years while robbing the M.T.A. coffers, to date, of what probably amounts to a half-billion dollars and counting from lost toll revenues. This is nothing less than highway robbery. With E.P.A.-violating pollution levels and added carbon emissions, as well as the denigration of the quality of life of multiple communities and the untold social and medical costs, this is easily the greatest ongoing environmental crime in New York City. Nothing less than cheap shots, low blows and crass insults are due to the mendacious politicians responsible, except possibly multiple indictments for conspiracy, fraud, treason, narcissism and plain idiocy. The one-way toll implemented as a study in 1986 at the behest of Republican Staten Islanders was codified in subsequent years by Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo and then fi xed in stone in federal highway legislation. Living on Broome St., I have witnessed the madness firsthand. Traffic backups from the Holland Tunnel lengthened steadily over the years, extending eastward from Sixth Ave., then reaching to Broadway, to Bowery, and all the way to the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges, on a good weekend onto the B.Q.E. and on Memorial Day all the way to Montauk Point. There have been ample opportunities over the decades to redress this injustice. But the elected officials responsible, principally Senator Chuck Schumer and Congressmmember Jerrold Nadler have lied to and betrayed their constituents repeatedly. If untrue, let them answer the following charges. They won’t. I am not the only witness, just their angriest and most persistent critic. These two politicos have completely sold out their base and continue to lie through their staff or just ignore the matter completely. May they be reincarnated as one-eyed Australian dingo dogs. The failure to represent their constituents is evident in their respective agendas. Senate Majority Leader hopeful Chuck spent time courting “Repub-
Februar y 23, 2017
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
On Tuesday afternoon, a police officer gave a driver a ticket for “blocking the box” at the congested intersection of Watts and Thompson Sts. in Soho on one of the main Holland Tunnel approach routes.
lican voters in the Philadelphia suburbs” for Hillary Clinton. Rep. Nadler obsesses on about his obsolete railway freight tunnel to New Jersey that envisions a monstrous trucking terminal for the reinvented Brooklyn waterfront. The Verrazano issue is a microcosm of the Democratic Party and why for the last eight years they have been savagely and rightfully beaten nationwide to a bloody pulp at every level of government by the Republicans and into a marginalized and irrelevant party. The Democrats don’t represent the interests
Nadler’s Napoleonic obsession is with freight rail.
of their constituents! Why bother to vote for them? In 2000, then-Congressmember Schumer addressed the Downtown Independent Democrats club at a Soho restaurant, seeking our endorsement that we gladly gave to unseat the dreaded Republican Senator Alphonse “Pothole” D’Amato. The major topic of discussion was the one-way toll that plagues Soho. Schumer “promised” he would address the matter immediately upon election. The Democrats controlled the Senate that cycle. Less than two months after his election, Schumer announced that he would “not balance the traffic on Stat-
en Island’s back,” even though the exact opposite was true. Orwell calls this “doublespeak.” It cannot be emphasized enough that New York City is 90 percent Democratic, yet politician after politician panders to Staten Island, especially this dithering duo. It is of significance to note that when Hillary was a senator, the only times she ever ventured south of her Midtown office was for World Trade Center photo-ops, and Kirsten Gillibrand is in a fog once she exits the New York State Thruway. Nadler’s failing is even worse. Every time he spoke before the Downtown community — from the time he was appointed congressman in 1992, when his popular and ethical predecessor Ted Weiss died — the representative swore on a stack of pancakes that the first thing he would do when the Democrats controlled Congress would be to rescind the one-way toll. Well, finally, after the Obama tsunami in 2008, the Dems had a bulletproof congressional majority. And what did they do aside from passing what will now become a Republican healthcare package? Nadler’s porous excuse is that no highway legislation was introduced in 2009 or 2010. Nadler, as the highestranking Northeastern member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, could easily have spent some political capital and asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi to tack a rider to rescind the Verrazano one-way toll onto some other legislative package or onto one of the multiple omnibus spending bills that Congress passes annually. That simple. But I surmise Nadler intentionally chose not to do the right thing. Instead he thought of his own vainglory and this is how he betrayed you, me and New York City. It is the congressman’s Napoleonic obsession to fund his $10billion-dollar freight rail tunnel through
the muddy bottom of New York Harbor from Brooklyn to New Jersey. At either dim entrance on some bronze plaque his name would be enshrined. I couldn’t think of a more befitting honor. In light of Nadler’s irresponsible and puerile inauguration boycott against Trump — exacerbating a longstanding feud with El Jefe — don’t expect the toll structure to change during Trump’s reign. Their bitter clash dates back to Nadler’s vehement opposition in the 1990s to Trump’s Riverside South development on the Upper West Side, to be constructed on abandoned rail yards. The luxury high-rises would block the grand river views for residents of sprawling Lincoln Towers, a core constituency. As an opposition strategy, Nadler proposed the revitalization of that moribund relic of infrastructure that last saw activity in the 1970s. The train yard died when New York Harbor became obsolete with the onset of container freight. The days of “On the Waterfront” were just a black-and-white memory. It seems this is when Nadler’s freight train fi xation began. The Riverside South grand plan was to include the burying of the last existing stretch of elevated West Side Highway that begins at W. 57th St. This idea was supported by the Municipal Arts Society and many other civic groups and politicians. Similar deconstruction projects have been done with great success in San Francisco, Seattle and Boston. Tunneling the roadway would have completely opened up that stretch of waterfront for the Hudson River Park, then still in its embryonic, planning stages. However, an underground highway also would have directly benefited Trump’s Riverside South project, and so the animus between the congressman and uber-developer was already beyond repair. Nadler had the underground highway project scrapped, to the detriment of everybody except his massive ego. With his recent, sophomoric inauguration stunt, Nadler has again needlessly incited a most powerful and vindictive president. Instead of building — a politician’s job — Nadler has burned the proverbial and literal bridges needed to end the misfortune and grave suffering of his Brooklyn and Manhattan constituents. In light of his bitter and obviously personal feud with Trump, our district will be punished. Narcissist Nadler has neither the vision nor temperament to represent us. Nadler must go in 2018. As Dylan Thomas wrote, “When one burns one’s bridges, what a nice fire it makes.” Ommmmmmmmmm... Rosenstein grew up in Brooklyn and resides in Soho but is on permanent vacation in Oaxaca, Mexico TheVillager.com
On the shelves or on the horizon 2017’s most anticipated video games dark story, unconventional characters, and wonderful soundtrack. The longawaited sequel — “Nier: Automata” — arrives soon. Many members of the original design team returned for the sequel, and an impressive demo is currently available to download for free. The combat is fun and challenging, but the real draw is its world and characters. This is a game for people looking for an action game that isn’t afraid to stand out from the crowd of cliché fantasy and generic sci-fi settings. “Nier” is coming to PlayStation 4 on March 7, with a possible PC release later this year.
VIA SQUARE ENIX
The narratively complex cult title “Nier” gets a sequel in “Automata,” hitting shelves in March.
BY CHARLES BATTERSBY
n the fi lm industry, January is used as a dumping ground for movies too embarrassing to be released alongside year-end Oscar bait. However, the video game industry often saves some of its most promising titles for the new year, to avoid com-
peting with blockbusters during the holiday rush — and so, 2017 is off to a great start with a roster of new intellectual properties, and long-delayed sequels that reinvent classic franchises. Here are a few games already on shelves, and some of the most intriguing games on the horizon.
Via Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks
Arkane Studios gets to take space thriller “Prey” out for a reboot, coming in May. TheVillager.com
NIER: AUTOMATA The first “Nier” game had a multilayered story that required players to go through it several times in order to fully understand the plot. It had moderate success when it launched in 2010, but it developed a cult following due to its
A game that spent even longer in development limbo is the reboot of “Prey.” The first “Prey” game came out in 2006, and there was an attempt at a sequel several years later, but the new “Prey” game has little in common with its ancestor, being more of a “re-imagining” of the franchise. The protagonist, Morgan Yu, is trapped on a space station that is overrun with aliens. Although the “kill aliens” theme is rather common in video games, “Prey” is made by Arkane Studios, the same team VIDEO GAMES continued on p. 16
Launch medieval attacks with a nuanced combat system, in “For Honor.” Februar y 23, 2017
VIDEO GAMES continued from p. 15
that created the acclaimed “Dishonored” series. Yu doesn’t just blast aliens with a laser gun; this game allows players to use a wide variety of alien superpowers, including the ability to shapeshift into a coffee mug. “Prey,” brings its unique brand of sci-fi adventure to PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on May 5.
FOR HONOR Another big game that hit shelves early in the year is “For Honor,” a new franchise where players take control of medieval knights, vikings, and samurai, then battle online using a complex handto-hand combat system. “For Honor” has the ruthless combat of a competitive shooter like “Call of Duty,” but the fighting is much more refined than blasting away with a gun. Projectile attacks are extremely rare, and this forces combatants to square off faceto-face in honorable combat with swords, axes and shields. It’s easy to block a clumsy attack, so players can’t rely on brute force. To win a fight, they have to use finesse to get around an enemy’s guard, and this requires quick reflexes along with the ability to spot patterns in their fighting style. It’s a brutal new take on the familiar online killing formula, and something that hardcore competitive gamers will enjoy. “For Honor” is out now on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
MASS EFFECT: ANDROMEDA This made our list of the most anticipated games of 2016, but it was delayed until this year, now arriving with a hard launch date in March. It began development in 2012, right after the last “Mass Effect” game was released — so fans have been champing at the bit for five years. The “Mass Effect” series had a trilogy of epic space adventures on the last generation of game consoles, but the new game,
“Syberia 3” is the latest in a series of well-written, steampunk-st yled narratives from designer Benoit Sokal.
“Andromeda,” has a different protagonist, and takes place in another galaxy (hence “Andromeda” as the subtitle). This makes it a perfect choice for people who who have heard of the series, but don’t want to catch up by playing through the original trilogy. For many people, all they need to know about this game is that it is the new title from BioWare, the creators of some of the best stories in the game industry, like the “Dragon Age” series, “Baulder’s Gate,” and “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.” It arrives on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on March 21. VIA EA/BIOWARE
“Andromeda,” the delayed four th installment of the “Mass Effect” franchise, is the first to take place in the new, titular galax y.
SYBERIA 3 Another sequel with a ludicrously long development period is the third “Syberia.” This series of puzzle-based adventure games began 15 years ago. A sequel showed up a mere two years later, but
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the third game wasn’t announced until 2009. After the developer missed its 2016 launch date, the game industry was surprised this month when it was announced that “Syberia 3” will arrive in April. Aside from the excellent writing, the series uses a steampunk aesthetic (before steampunk was all the rage), along with a quest to find a prehistoric “lost world,” where mammoths still walk the land. The new game features the return of series protagonist Kate Walker, along with designer Benoit Sokal and the composer of the second game Inon Zur. It also has “Snow Ostriches!” It hits PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on April 25.
RESIDENT EVIL 7: BIOHAZARD Many fans of this venerable zombie series were disappointed with
“Resident Evil 6.” It was less of a zombie horror game, and more of an action game where the zombies sometimes shoot back! The new game takes the series back to its roots, making the player an underdog who must scrounge for ammo and healing items, especially on the cruel “Madhouse” difficulty level. “Resident Evil 7” also has a more engaging story than most zombie games. Rather than controlling a tough soldier or police officer, players become an ordinary married couple trying to escape the clutches of a family of mutated swamp dwellers. It is a great game for newbies to try out the franchise, and a reason to return to it for older fans who dropped out of the series after the last installment. It is out now for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4, with more downloadable content coming this year. TheVillager.com
Just Do Art COURTESY JACOB J. GOLDBERG PHOTOGRAPHY
At Metropolitan Playhouse through March 12, the timely subject matter of 1862’s “Leah, the Forsaken” includes religious profiling and closed borders.
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
Holocaust, and disturbing current events for her contribution to “Patterns.” A dream was the inspiration for the atmospheric paintings taken from Harnick’s “Under the Sea” series, in which she explores time, place, and memory. In the west gallery, “Reflections” presents the layered, colorful oil paintings of Joan Mellon — and along the On the Wall space immediately outside the gallery, the linear assemblage of Elizabeth Jacobson’s “Sticks and Stones” installation merges recyclable plastic containers with cement, wood, and stone to invoke primitive totems as a source, and symbol, of strength in the face of harsh words employed as hateful deeds. Opening reception Thurs., March 2, 6–8pm. Then, on view through March 23 at Carter Burden Gallery (548 W. 28th St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves., Suite #534). Hours: Tues.–Fri., 11am–5pm and Sat., 11am–6pm. Visit carterburdengallery.org or call 212-564-8405.
MARCH ART AT CARTER BURDEN GALLERY
In keeping with its mission to recognize both the relevance and ongoing creative evolution of artists 60 years of age and over, a March 2 opening reception at Carter Burden Gallery invites you to interact with those whose work can be seen for the next three weeks in their W. 28th St. space. In the east gallery, “Changing Patterns” showcases art by Olivia Beens, Claire Boren, and Sylvia Harnick. Gilded and brightly gazed faces that speak to the themes of identity, feminism, and spirituality are hallmarks of Beens’ ceramic sculptures. Abstract mixed media is the chosen mode of expression for Boren, who drew upon her childhood during World War II, the
Closed borders? Religious profiling? Forced deportation? Yes, it certainly does sound like…1862? Yes. First produced in that year and last seen on the American stage in 1966, “Leah, the Forsaken” is 19th-century playwright, critic, and theatrical impresario Augustin Daly’s drama about Jewish refugees. When Leah breaks the law by exiting Hungary to pass the night in an Austrian town, she falls for Rudolph, a Christian citizen, but is forced into exile when an obsessed persecutor convinces her love that she has betrayed him. A potent reminder of how fearing the “other” can allow a mob mentality to flourish, this production by the revival-
minded Metropolitan Playhouse also strives to emphasize the play’s “nuanced affirmation of each individual’s potential for goodness, once freed from the burdens of ideology and custom.” Through March 12, Thurs.–Sat. at 7pm, Sun. at 3pm; at 220 E. Fourth St. (btw. Aves. A & B). Visit metropolitanplayhouse.org for tickets, which range from $10–$30. Meanwhile, a few blocks west — but still in the East Village — the Kraine Theater (85 E. Fourth St., btw. Second Ave. & Bowery) is the setting for Horse Trade Theater Group’s Frigid Festival presentation of “The Refugee Plays.” Set in the present day, five short works by Charles Gershman, Penny Jackson, Callie Kimball, Carlos Castro, and Sean E. Cunningham address the concerns of refugees from Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Central South America. Fri., Feb. 24 at 6:50pm, Thurs., March 2 at 8:50pm and Sun., March 5 at 5:10pm. Tickets are $18. Visit horsetrade.info for reservations. Also of note, March 3–5’s The International Human Rights Art Festival at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St., btw. Delancey & Rivington Sts.) presents work from dozens of artists — including “Draw the Circle,” in which solo performer Mashuq Deen depicts the challenges of an immigrant family as a child transitions from one gender to another (Sat., March 4, 7pm). For the schedule and tickets, visit dixonplace.org ($20 per day for 12–6pm events; evening events are $15 in advance, $30 at the door).
St. Lucian Sculptor’s NYC Debut On View In Chelsea BY ALEX ANDR A SIMON An internationally exhibited St. Lucian sculptor has brought his art to New York City for the first time. On view at 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel through March 4, “Journey” showcases Jallim Eudovic’s interpretation of uncovering mankind — an exploration, he noted, of what is often hidden from the public eye. Appearing as part of the gallery’s Winter Salon group show, the wooden tile piece “Journey” features the exposure of a different color on a solid background and, the artist explained, best describes the message he is trying to get across. “Your skin is who you truly are and I really wanted to do something I can relate it to,” Eudovic said. “Everything we own is giftwrapped and the skin on it — you have to pull back, and it’s a trick
PHOTO BY DANIEL MARCION
Jallim Eudovic’s “Journey.”
I wanted to correlate to conjure these feelings. Our skin very much like when a snake changes its skin to become something else.” Eudovic comes from a family of artists, and through the years dabbling in multiple types of art helped him find his desire for sculpting, specifically incorporating humans into his works.
“I started off doing modern art, free-flowing forms, and it evolved into a more figurative [form] as I grew up,” he recalled. “Now I focus more on the human forms, the geometric forms, evolution, people, and human life.” To stay inspired in his creativity and motivated to create new works, Eudovic said he explores a variety of other art forms. “I’ve always been quite interested in creative writing, poetry, music, drawing, and painting,” he said. “But I gravitated to sculpting — it was in my immediate environment and that is what completes me.” Through March 4 at 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel (532 W. 25th St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). Hours: 12:30-5:30pm, Tues.-Fri. Visit 532gallery.com or call 917701-3338.
COURTESY CARTER BURDEN GALLERY
Olivia Beens’ ceramic work “Hecate’s Daughters at Women’s March” is on view at Car ter Burden Galler y through March 23 as par t of “Changing Patterns.” Februar y 23, 2017
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Taking stock of state of stores in Village STORES continued from p. 13
Storefront rents, he said, “have shot up to dizzying levels.” As for regulations, Banerji said, “The city has a huge number that keep growing. The de Blasio administration’s response was not to reduce regulations, but to start a new department tasked with helping businesses understand those regulations. That will, of course, ultimately lead to even higher taxes, which also squeeze business margins.” All three experts weighed in on the obvious role new technologies are playing, both in the ease of online shopping and the direct-to-consumer paradigm. “I can just tell Alexa to order stuff and ‘she’ will just do it, or play Bollywood songs or Mozart,” Banerji said. Zikos said all those well-heeled tourists on Bleecker may be consuming, but they’re doing most of it on their smart phones. “And there’s little need for small mom-and-pop shops like shoemakers, dry cleaners and haircutters,” he added, “now that mobile commerce is figuring out ways to provide these services directly to customers.” I asked each expert what kinds of businesses can make it. Banerji pointed in two seemingly opposite directions. “In areas frequented by tourists, high-end stores and fl agship stores that serve as giant advertisements to build brand image will predominate,” he predicted. “In other areas, it seems, beyond banks and urgent-care centers, the stores that can make it include 24-hour chain drugstores and compact nail salons, for which revenue per square foot is sufficiently high.” But Banerji believes there is still a place for thoughtful, nimble, only-in-New York businesses, like the CW Pencil Enterprise on Forsyth St. Some of the blame for store closings rests on retailers themselves. New York retail, Banerji said, has always been about the survival of the fittest. “At some level, it’s about their own inability to cater to the demands of their customers,” he said. “In addition to the rents, regulations and technology, the demographics are changing in ways that make it imperative for stores to adapt if they want to survive.”
Februar y 23, 2017
Zikos noted that property owners can get burned while trying to make a killing. “If you’re greedy, you sit and wait and hope for a national retailer to come along,” he said. “But they need only so many locations.” Weinman, who works with a lot of young immigrants, said that 20 years ago, newcomers were still opening delis and nail salons, but fewer people are willing to put in the 60-to-70-hour week required to be a success. “The next generation is educated, and they’re defi nitely not going into retail,” he said. Is there reason for optimism? Zikos sees a shifting relationship
Are shoe stores being trampled?
between landlord and tenant. “Developers will look at retail tenants as business partners rather than people who write me a check,” he explained. “We live in a world of everyone being a start-up entrepreneur or an incubator, and we love the idea of equity in a new company. The tenant’s success will mean the landlord’s success. You can’t legislate your way in; it has to happen through grassroots practices. The culture will decide.” Near our talk’s end, Weinman tossed out a rhetorical question: “When’s the last time you shopped in a shoe store?” He assumed I buy shoes by ordering several pairs online and sending back the ones I don’t like. In fact, I told him, I just bought shoes at Harry’s. I even had the salesman bring out the Brannock Device, unchanged since the ’20s, to measure my feet, and sure enough, I’ve been wearing the wrong size for years. I let him sell me special spray to protect the suede of my new desert boots. It was an experience that required a little travel, a little weather, a little time, a little patience, but it was a satisfyingly human one. Just trying to do my bit for the future, or maybe the past.
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E.V. top cop on bar noise, GREANY continued from p. 10
you see that it’s a small group of perpetrators that create most of the crime.”
James O’Neill. “It was his vision,” Greany noted. “He pushed very hard for it. We’re happy to be the fi rst precinct in Manhattan South [south of 59th St.] to have it.”
N.C.O. initiative New at the Ninth since early October is the Neighborhood Coordination Officers program. Under the initiative, the precinct — which is bounded by E. 14th St., Broadway, E. Houston St. and the East River — is split up into four sectors. There are a total of eight N.C.O. officers, with two assigned to each sector. “They’re in charge of quarterbacking any issues in their area — quality of life, homelessness, drugs, nightlife — in addition to crime,” Greany explained. The “D” sector, known as “David,” covers the precinct’s northwest corner and is the busiest, with the most nightlife. “B” sector, or “Boy,” covers Tompkins Square Park. Sector “A,” or “Adam,” covers the precinct’s southeast part and also the public housing along the precinct’s eastern edge. (Public Service Area 4 — the Housing Police unit that covers the public housing — also has 2 N.C.O. officers of its own.) Finally, sector “C” a.k.a. “Charlie” takes in the homeless shelters along the Bowery. “It’s a population with a lot of illness involved, mental health and substance abuse,” Greany said, sympathetically, of the Bowery area. “It’s a population that’s dealing with a lot.” The basic idea of the N.C.O. program is to have the designated pair of officers in each sector “interact as much as possible” with the community, Greany explained. “We have had overwhelming positive feedback so far — from the community and also the police officers,” he said, “and we’re trying to build on that. When they come to work, they know right where they’re going. They take ownership of that area. Everybody starts to recognize each other.” The eight officers have profi les on the precinct’s Facebook page, “NYPD 9th Precinct.” (Go to “photos” and “untitled album.”) The main photo on the Ninth’s FB home page is also of the N.C.O.’s. Slightly more than half of the city’s police precincts already have the N.C.O. program, and the number will increase this year. It’s an initiative by new Police Commissioner
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Building relationships In addition, all of the precinct’s other patrol officers spend their “off radio” time — about one-third of their time on duty — patrolling in one of the four sectors. “So residents get to see the same officers, the same car,” Greany explained. “It’s easiest to build relationships like that. That’s when we want them engaging with residents and storeowners.” When the officers are “on radio,” they respond to calls throughout the precinct. The N.C.O. “sector teams” (the pairs of officers assigned full time to each sector) don’t have to rush to 911 calls. Instead, there is a “response car” that goes around. Because the new N.C.O. program is “resource intensive,” Greany noted, the precinct’s manpower was boosted from 150 officers to its current 185.
Hells Angels’ cones As for the Hells Angels, Greany said the precinct is not singling them out for enforcement after someone’s daring to move one of their orange parking cones in early December triggered a rumble and shooting outside their E. Third St. clubhouse. However, he said, no one should be able to reserve parking spots with cones. “I think everybody should follow the Department of Transportation regulations,” he stated. “No one’s above the law on those regulations.” He noted, for example, that the Ninth Precinct can only park its cars perpendicularly on E. Fifth St. because D.O.T. granted them permission to do that. As for the Hells Angels staking out parking spots with cones, the captain simply said, “If there were any obstructions, they should not be there now.” After the shooting, the precinct showed the biker gang who’s boss, by removing a ramp, bench and plants in front of the clubhouse, while D.O.T. ticketed motorbikes whose license plates were covered by tarps. The police didn’t expressly warn the gang against using the cones, he said, yet they seem to have gotten the message. At the same time, Greany noted, even without using the cones, “They have their ways” of holding spots, such as by keeping their motorcycles there. But he added, “If those bikes ever move, people should have a right to park there. They shouldn’t have fear. No one should live in fear.” If anyone does feel afraid about parking there, he or she should call the precinct, he said.
Property theft There is a lot of property theft in the preGREANY continued on p. 23
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new N.C.O. program and ‘no tower in the park’ GREANY continued from p. 22
cinct, he acknowledged. “People take cell phones and there’s identity theft. With all the bars and restaurants, there’s a lot of unattended property,” he said. “When you have a phone, you put it down, turn your attention away, someone can take it.” As for policing protests — happening so often lately — Greany said, officers are trained to stay professional. “We throw the uniform on,” he said, “and we don’t have to weigh in one way or the other. We’re there to keep the peace, and protect the protesters, as well, and make sure no one interferes with their freedoms.” If protesters curse them out or provoke them, he said, officers are trained to keep cool. “We know it’s not personal with us,” he said. “We protect each other. It’s like a professional athlete — they’re locked in on their job. You just stay focused on the mission of allowing people to exercise their freedom and protecting property.”
Using social media Greany operates and monitors the precinct’s social media, including its Twitter feed, as well as Facebook. You can find precinct news posted there, such as how, in early December, two of the N.C.O.’s used a Narcon shot to save a man’s life after he overdosed on heroin on the street. At the same time, people can submit complaints and crime tips via the precinct’s social media. Greany noted that a check-cashing place had recently sent him a photo of a fraudulent check, which resulted in an arrest. Greany didn’t have much social media experience before taking over the Ninth. “As I say, I’m always learning,” he said. “And I worked with some of the millennials here who are more social-media savvy to help me. I learned quick, I learned on the job.” Social media is a powerful tool, in his view. “Say there is a missing elderly person or a lost child,” he said, “or someone who’s wanted for a violent crime. It’s a way to get that message out. Before, you just had a 30-second message on TV. Millennials engage more through social media.” On the other hand, Greany said, part of his job is also to visit local senior homes. “We have five of them in the precinct,” he said. “We defend the defenseless — the elderly and young children.”
Going green Getting back to that green tea, Greany is into health and fitness, and that includes diet. “I want to break the trend of cops eating donuts,” he said. “Some cops do drink green tea. I try to eat clean. And TheVillager.com
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Under the Neighborhood Coordination Officers program, the East Village’s Ninth Precinct has been separated into four sectors, as seen in this map in Captain Vincent Greany’s office. Two N.C.O. officers apiece are assigned to “quaterback” police-related issues in each sector.
then when we do get into a stressful situation, you can perform.” As for what he eats, he said, “Just a lot of greens, a lot of vegetables. Stay hydrated.” He also enjoys weight training, running and martial arts.
Getting involved There are many ways community members can engage with the precinct. Every third Tuesday of the month, the Ninth Precinct Community Council meets and most of the N.C.O. sector officers will be there. People over age 18 can also volunteer to become auxiliary officers, for whom Greany has great respect. “They were there during 9/11, they were there during Hurricane Sandy,” he said of the Ninth’s auxiliaries. “They are a valuable resource.” Individuals can also sign up for a twohour ride-along with Ninth Precinct officers. “You get to see and hear and experience what we experience,” he noted. In December, they also started a Ninth Precinct Youth Council program, which meets monthly and focuses on teenagers. “Teens can talk about their concerns,” Greany explained. Cyber bullying has been an early discussion topic.
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