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

July 20, 2017 • $1.00 Volume 87 • Number 29





Affordable housing fight is also focusing on recovering units BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


reating affordable housing is the overriding concern right now, both at City Hall and in the Village, from the West Side to the East Side. But recovering rent-regulated housing is also a critical part of the equation, Erik Coler, president of the Village Independent Democrats,

stressed. Coler this week filled The Villager in on an initiative that he and V.I.D. are involved in that has already reportedly been yielding results. Basically, Coler has been working with a friend, Aaron Carr, of the nonprofit Housing Rights Initiative, to identify buildings HOUSING continued on p. 6

Windows into the past, ghost signs are faded memories of Village BY FR ANK MASTROPOLO


o the keen observer, a roam through Greenwich Village provides a history lesson told through its ghost signs. These faded, weather-beaten ads painted on buildings, stamped in steel or carved in stone provide an insight into Village life from decades past.

Villagers’ dedication to historical preservation has protected many ghost signs, but the elements and relentless development have taken their toll. Here are 10 of the Village’s staunchest survivors, in an order ideal for a walking tour. Opened in 1958 by Art SIGNS continued on p. 15


Councilmember Corey Johnson being arrested in Washington Wednesday after sitting-in at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office. He and other advocates were protesting attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. See ar ticle, Page 5.

Vlogger mayhem ‘worse than Supreme,’ locals say BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


o residents’ ongoing chagrin, Little Italy and Soho are regularly besieged by throngs of people filling the sidewalks for product launches. But the crowds, mayhem and trash caused by this past weekend’s three-day pop-up shop event for a popular video blogger’s clothing line have pushed locals — as well as Community Board 2’s chair-

person — over the edge. Something has got to be done, they say. From Friday to Sunday, the storefront at 201 Mulberry St. was transformed into a boutique for vlogger Logan Paul’s Maverick apparel. Thousands of young fans descended on the neighborhood each day, waiting up to four hours or more to buy a T-shirt or tank top emblazoned with the buff and floppy-haired online star’s sig-

nature bird-of-prey logo. The lines wrapped around Mulberry and Spring Sts., Kenmare Place and Cleveland Place. The pop-up shop was open Friday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. On at least one day, according to a video, Paul appeared outside the place, ripped off his T-shirt and flung VLOGGER continued on p. 10

Yet another body pulled from the river.............p. 3 Freeze call for mom-and-pop evictions...........p. 16 Resistance can be sexy!.......... p. 9


For more on Halasa, see a Q&A with her on p. 23 of this week’s issue.

HALASA SWOOPS IN: City Councilmember Corey Johnson might have thought he was running unopposed for re-election to a second term this year. It sounds, though, like he might be facing a challenger who will “float like a butterfly” — and possibly sting like a bee (umm, assuming she has a bee costume hanging around somewhere). We’re talking about colorful protester Marni Halasa, who happens to be a resident of Council District 3 (Chelsea / Clinton). Halasa, who is also a lawyer and self-described “NYC parade personality,” plans to run as an independent on the Eco Justice Party line, which is inspired by the Green Party. In her opinion, running for elected office is “the ultimate protest.” Her platform is simple: Ordinary citizens need to get involved in politics to shape social and economic policy; “universal basic income” and a federal jobs guarantee are key to eradicating poverty; and the widespread gentrification of our neighborhoods that is displacing residents and small businesses must be stopped. Halasa believes her ability to “decipher and illustrate issues with humor and spectacle” has made her “a media darling, plus one of the most-sought-after teachers at Sky Rink.” “People love a show, and you do that fi rst to capture their attention,” the wannabe candidate explained. “But after that, you have to show them who you are. And if you’re sincere, make sense and truly want to improve people’s lives, people will come running to assist your campaign. Looking great in a mermaid costume is helpful,” but so is a clear stance on the issues. “I’m fortunate,” she said, “in my case, I can do both.” As an independent, she’ll also have to collect 4,000 valid ballot petition signatures — far more than major-party candidates need to gather.

SHELLY-RUN RUMINATION: So now that Sheldon Silver’s corruption conviction has been tossed out, could he actually be thinking the unthinkable — namely, of running for his old seat again? Of course, Yuh-Line Niou has held the Assembly seat since winning a heavily contested Democratic primary election last year. Hank Sheinkopf, the veteran political consultant, said that to call it unlikely would be an understatement. “Don’t count on Sheldon Silver resuming his political career,” he told us. “The feds may re-indict, retry him and he will have to again mount a defense. He had a great political career. All things come to an end. Unquestionably, that sort of thing takes a lot out of a person,” he noted of all that Silver, 73, has gone through recently as former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara brought the power broker’s world crashing down. Since we had Sheinkopf on the line, we asked him a few other questions, such as do



NEW TOP COP: Captain Robert O’Hare has replaced Inspector Joseph Simonetti as the new commanding officer of Greenwich Village’s Sixth Precinct. Simonetti is now the new C.O. of Staten Island’s 120th Precinct. O’Hare previously led Patrol Borough Manhattan South’s Times Square Unit, where he was in charge of enforcing the new “designated activity zones” for all the Elmos and other costumed characters, the Naked Cowboy, the desnudas and all the rest. Detective Jimmy Alberici, a Sixth Precinct community affairs officer, said the passing of the police baton at the Village precinct is just the typical turnover.

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

June 16, 2016 • $1.00 Volume 86 • Number 24


Bob Gangi or Sal Albanese have a chance of beating Mayor Bill de Blasio in the September primary? “Is it likely that Mars will collide with Venus?” the consultant scoffed. How about “frenemies” Comptroller Scott Stringer and de Blasio endorsing each other for re-election? “Scott Stringer looked down the road four years,” Sheinkopf offered. “If strategic waiting is a good tactic, then Scott Stringer has mastered it.”


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

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. LANDMARKS continued on p. 12

Hoylman pushes Albany to pass child sex-abuse reform, but Senate stalls 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

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


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 representaVIGILS 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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July 20, 2017



Hudson body

Punchy perp

Bottle bash

A guy assaulted another man’s car at Fifth Ave. and E. 12th St. on Sat., July 15, at 10:30 p.m., police said. The victim — the man not the car — who is 69, said the suspect punched his vehicle multiple times, causing dents and scratches. He said the suspect also tried to pull him out of his car, causing him to fear for his safety. When police arrived, the suspect reportedly tried to resist arrest by tensing up and flailing his arms. Karim Taylor, 36, was arrested for felony criminal mischief.

A woman bashed a man in the face with a bottle on Wed., July 12, at 7 p.m. on the northwest corner of Christopher and W. Fourth Sts., police said. The suspect suffered a deep cut to his lip requiring several stitches to close, plus facial swelling. Jaska Young, 29, was arrested for felony assault.

Plastic perp While at 10 Jones St., a woman noticed unauthorized charges on her card on Fri., June 2, at 9 a.m., according to police. She told cops two of her cards had charges totaling $1,131.43, yet she had never lost possession of them. She subsequently canceled her cards. Sabrina Kelley, 24, was arrested for felony grand larceny on Fri., July 14.

U. Place burglars Two intruders tried to burglarize a man’s apartment at 125 University Place on Tues., July 11, at 3 a.m., according to police. The alleged burglars entered the building and pulled on the victim’s door aggressively, trying to gain access. Police arrived, however, and arrested the pair. Following a search, the suspects were found to have stolen property from a separate location in connection to a second burglary close to this one. Isiah Footman, 22, and David Rodriguez, 17, were charged with attempted felony burglary.

A man’s decomposing body was found late last Friday in the Hudson River just off W. 10th St., according to police. Police responded on July 14 around 10:22 p.m. to a 911 call of a body floating near West St. at the Christopher St. Pier. The Police Department’s Harbor Unit recovered it from the water and transported it to Pier 40, at W. Houston St., where E.M.S. medics pronounced the man dead. Police are trying to identify the man, who was between age 40 and 50. He had a wound to his left ankle. The city’s Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death and the police investigation remains ongoing.

Bank robber Police said that on Wed., July 12, at 12:45 p.m., an individual entered the Chase bank at 340 Sixth Ave. and passed a teller a note, referring to a bomb — though none was displayed — and demanding cash. The teller complied and gave an undetermined sum of cash to the robber, who exited the bank and fled north on Sixth Ave. The thirty-something suspect, who may have been wearing a disguise, was 5 feet 11 inches and 190 pounds, and was last seen wearing a pink NYC


A sur veillance photo of the alleged suspect in a robber y at the Chase bank branch at 340 Sixth Ave.

baseball cap, a patterned wrap, black pants and blue sneakers. Anyone with information is asked to call the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS, or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting them to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.

Tabia C. Robinson and Lincoln Anderson

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The Villager (USPS 578930) ISSN 0042-6202 Copyright © 2017 by the NYC Community Media LLC is published weekly by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201. 52 times a year. Business and Editorial Offices: One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201. Accounting and Circulation Offices: NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201. Call 718-260-2500 to subscribe. Periodicals postage prices is paid at New York, N.Y. Postmaster: Send address changes to The Villager, One Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201 Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $29 ($35 elsewhere). Single copy price at office and newsstands is $1. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2017 NYC Community Media LLC. PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR

The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for others errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue. Published by NYC Community Media, LLC One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (718) 260-2500 • Fax: (212) 229-2790 On-line: www.thevillager.com E-mail: news@thevillager.com © 2017 NYC Community Media, LLC


July 20, 2017

Harr y Bubbins of G.V.S.H.P., left, addressed the crowd at the rally against a Starbucks on Avenue A and other chain stores in the East Village, in general.

Starbucks outrage boils over on A BY SCOTT R. A XELROD


n a tilting-at-caffeinated-windmills scenario that’s destined to end with a sparkly new Starbucks rising from a boarded-up 10,000 -square-foot space on Avenue A, dozens turned out last Thurs., July 13, to speak up and speak out against having yet another outlet of the national commercial coffee chain drip its way into the East Village. The so-called “formula-style” coffee shop is slated for 125 St. Mark’s Place, at St. Mark’s Place and Avenue A. Four months ago, The Villager reported that, according to a source familiar with the situation, Citi-Urban Management, an arm of the owner of the building, was “far along in negotiations with the multinational coffee chain,” although the deal technically had not been sealed yet. “We come not to bury Starbucks, but not to praise it either,” said James Armata, general manager of MUD Coffee, which has the Mudspot coffee shop, at 307 E. Ninth St. Armata came loaded for bear with several gallons of complimentary iced coffee. “This issue is not just about one Starbucks on one corner,” he stressed. “It’s more about the character of our neighborhood.” Representatives from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, the East Village Independent Mer-

chants Association and the East Village Community Coalition were joined by local business owners, residents and passersby, not only to “venti” their frustration over the proliferation of chain stores siphoning profits from the area’s small, independently owned and unique businesses, but basically to request that big businesses take their business elsewhere. “We support Community Board 3’s movement to create a special zoning district to keep out big-box and chain stores,” said Jimmy Carbon, owner of Jimmy’s No. 43, at 43 E. Seventh St., and president and founding member of EVIMA. “We want to promote the many diverse local cafes and coffee bars and encourage locals and visitors to visit it them.” A petition passed through the crowd was fi lled with nearly 100 signatures by the time the rally dissolved into the humid summer evening. However, Charles Branstool, the owner of Exit9 Gift Emporium, at 51 Avenue A, and the treasurer and a founding member of EVIMA, pointed out that C.B. 3 has been sitting on the same zoning proposal for the last three years. “We need to urge C.B. 3 to submit the proposal to City Planning,” he said. “If we speak loud enough, we can get this pushed through. We can protect our neighborhood.” Branstool urged everyone to continue

nudging local politicians Councilmember Rosie Mendez and Borough President Gale Brewer to push for the special district, as he passed out fl iers with their contact information. According to “State of the Chains 2016,” the Center for an Urban Future’s ranking of national retailers in New York City, Starbucks has more than 300 locations in New York City alone, with 16 of those located between 14th and Houston Sts., from the Hudson River to the East River. Harry Bubbins, the East Village and special projects director for G.V.S.H.P., served as the rally’s emcee. “Neighborhoods like the East Village thrive due to their creativity, diversity and individuality,” Bubbins said. “Chains often target and push out longtime local independent businesses, which often have a hard time relocating. A special district would limit the size and number of chains in certain areas. And give small businesses a fair shot at negotiating new leases with their landlords, who continue to warehouse empty retail spaces and seek out chain stores to fi ll them.” Bubbins was referring to the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, a piece of long-stalled legislation that, if passed by the City Council, would require landlords to give commercial tenants a 10STARBUCKS continued on p. 23 TheVillager.com

Just in case, health advocates return to Capitol BY PAUL SCHINDLER


ne day after the Trump administration and the U.S. Senate’s G.O.P. leadership failed to dismantle President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, up to 500 activists descended on Senate offices demanding that Republicans work on “providing healthcare rather than taking it away.” That’s how Eric Sawyer, the vice president of public affairs and policy at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, explained the efforts of his group and other healthcare advocates in Washington on July 19. In tandem with hundreds of others — including about 200 New Yorkers representing Housing Works, VOCAL-NY, Rise and Resist, Gays Against Guns, ACT UP and Positive Women’s Network — GMHC staff and clients staged sits-ins at the offices of the 49 G.O.P. senators who had not yet rejected Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call for an outright repeal of Obamacare without putting forward any immediate replacement. McConnell adopted that strategy on July 18, after it became clear the Republicans lacked the 50 votes needed to pass his Obamacare replacement bill. The repeal-with-no-replacement option has been scored by the Congressional Budget Office as even worse than McConnell’s replacement bill, leaving 32 million more


Americans uninsured by 2026, versus the 22 million who would be forced out of care under the measure just abandoned. Three Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — didn’t even need the C.B.O. scoring to reject the outright repeal option, announcing their opposition just hours after McConnell signaled his intentions. The G.O.P. leader plans a vote next week — one he seems destined to lose — to give his members the chance to show just how little they like Obamacare. Corey Johnson, the New York City Council’s openly gay Health Committee chairperson, is unwilling to bet against McConnell’s ability to still turn things around. “The fight isn’t over as we saw with the House, where Paul Ryan pulled a rabbit out of a hat,” Johnson said as he headed over to sit-in at McConnell’s office, where he was later arrested. “The fight has to continue until straight repeal and repealand-replace are both abandoned by the Republicans.” As New York State’s only openly H.I.V.-positive politician, Johnson said he was in Washington as one of hundreds of activists with pre-existing conditions that would be penalized severely under all the Republican alternatives that have been discussed.

“So now we’re here to tell our stories and to fight back against any effort to curtail healthcare in this country,” he said. Johnson said most of the protesters favor a single-payer approach that would truly deliver universal care. But he acknowledged that the only feasible next step, as long as Republicans hold the Senate and House, is a bipartisan effort to steady the

‘We’re here to tell our stories and to fight back.’ Corey Johnson

insurance exchanges established under Obamacare. Ohio’s Republican governor, John Kasich, a tough critic of Trump on his healthcare initiative, wrote about the need for that type of bipartisanship in a July 19 New York Times op-ed. For his part, President Donald Trump, responding to the expected failure of

a repeal-only vote, is not talking about any immediate fixes, telling reporters on Tuesday, “I’m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail, and then the Democrats are going to come to us.” Announcing that strategy out loud, however, may make it more likely that voters will come to see that the president does own any problems that become worse going forward. The success healthcare advocates have enjoyed in mobilizing grassroots opposition to the Republican efforts on healthcare is striking. This week was the third time that GMHC and other New York AIDS advocates faced arrest in Washington this month. Two weeks ago, roughly 40 activists were arrested in Senate sitins, with that number roughly doubling the following week. Sawyer said he expected 100 or more to be arrested in this week’s action, though no final number was available as of press time. Activists have also been at work in New York putting pressure on those calling for the A.C.A.’s repeal. On July 6, dozens of protesters affiliated with Rise and Resist and ACT UP descended on the Park Ave. home of billionaire David Koch, who with his brother Charles, funds Americans for Prosperity, which since 2010 has supported Tea Party efforts to quash the Obama legislation.

July 20, 2017


Housing fight also focuses on recovering units HOUSING continued from p. 1

in the Village area where landlords have allegedly illegally removed units from rent regulation. So far, they have focused on 28 Bedford St., which has 29 apartments in question, as well as 61 Carmine St., where 13 tenants are taking action — a total of 42 units between the two buildings. The fi rst step is to target buildings by checking which ones’ rents are out of scale with prevailing area rents. “We look at H.C.R. [New York State Homes & Community Renewal], look at rates, see if they’re abnormally high,” Coler said. Then comes outreach. “We knock on doors that are high probabilities,” he explained. With rent data in hand, the next step is to show it to lawyers, who, in turn, will represent the tenants. Newman & Ferrara is representing the Bedford tenants and an individual attorney is separately repping the Carmine Streeters. Newman & Ferrara fi led a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the tenants last month — meaning several tenants in the building are serving as plaintiffs for all the others. (Three other units in the building are apparently actually legally decontrolled.) In the case of the Carmine St. litigation, tenants in 13 units out

of a total of 38 units in the building are all suing. The fi rst goal, as Coler continued, is to get H.C.R. to put the apartments back under rent regulation. Beyond that, a lawsuit can result in treble — as in triple — damages for tenants who have been illegally overcharged. Coler said his understanding is that

‘I’ve already identified 350 apartments.’ Erik Coler

some or all of the tenants in the two buildings may have already received notice that their units are being “restabilized.” The Villager could not immediately confi rm that by press time, however. A key component of the lawsuits

is use of the J-51 tax abatement to fund repairs (which is legal) but then fraudulent misuse of that as a basis to illegally push rents up past the deregulation cap. Last month, The Real Deal reported that the lawsuit against Rudd Reality Management and Creative Industries Corporation, the ownership entity at 28 Bedford, is based on fraudulent use of J-51. To receive a J-51 abatement — which provides landlords extra income to fi x up run-down residential and commercial properties — the buildings’ residential units must remain in the rent-stabilization program. According to The Real Deal, only three of the buildings’ 32 apartments are reported as rent-stabilized in property tax records. Records attached to the lawsuit show that the plaintiffs’ apartments were not registered as rent-stabilized with H.C.R. In May, The Real Deal reported the fi ling of the lawsuit against the owner of 59-61 Carmine St., Carmine Properties. Again, the plaintiffs in that case charge that the landlord has benefited from J-51 tax breaks, yet has failed to

keep their rent increases moderate, in line with rent regulation. In addition, V.I.D. and H.R.I. have identified two more Village buildings where apartments allegedly have been illegally deregulated. They are planning a “Day of Action” on Sun., July 29, outside one of them — which happens to have a very prominent, long-running commercial venue on its ground floor. Coler wants to keep the two addresses under wraps for now, though. And there may well be more buildings after those. “I’ve already identified 350 apartments in the neighborhood that I believe have been illegally destabilized,” Coler said. That’s almost approaching the number of affordable apartments planned in the massive development project at the St. John’s Building, at W. Houston and West Sts. across from Pier 40, which will have 476 affordable units among its total of around 1,586 units. “We’re re-creating the St. John’s Building [project] out of thin air,” Coler said.

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Simply ‘ameowzing’

Subscribe to The Villager

To The Editor: Re “Astrologer needs a miracle to save East Village home” (news article, July 13): Angel Eyedealism is an ameowzing woman! I loved visiting her cosmic pad and getting a reading last year; I hope she manages to keep it! Sending her magic energy. Kirsty McKenzie

kitchen. Beyond two small rooms on an airshaft was the parlor, with a nonworking fireplace and windows with inside shutters facing Webster Hall (the original name). I remember closing time after the private parties, noisy people on the doorstep waiting for rides home. One angry woman kicked in the glass panel of the door. Later that night the staff quickly replaced it with a matching glass panel. Thank you for writing your column and The Villager for printing it. I wouldn’t have known the buildings are gone — I haven’t walked down 11th St. in more than a year. Jennifer Cooke

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We cover “The Cube”!

To The Editor: Re “What the Shel?! Silver corruption conviction overturned” (thevillager.com, July 14): He should never have been charged, at least for the medical-research part. That research was and is in the public interest. And the funding was approved by the state Legislature. The real issue is that New York State was badly served by its state government, controlled by a triumvirate of which Silver was part. But it’s up to the voters to fi x that (or not). It’s wrong for a federal prosecutor to decide to fi x it on his own, using the power of courts that have become conviction machines.

Vaya con Dios To The Editor: Re “Gail Borden Chisholm, 62, vintage poster dealer” (obituary, July 13): I met Gail only once and felt an immediate rapport and bond. Same age, similar history, similar worldview. She was a great and true friend to my dear brother Andrew, for which I will always be grateful. Vaya con Dios, Gail. The world is lesser without you.

John James

Meg Brizzolara

Pre-Ritz reminiscence

The real thing

To The Editor: Re “My 11th St. story: How I became a New Yorker” (notebook, by Nancy Gendimenico, July 6): Nancy Gendimenico’s column about the destruction of the 11th St. tenements gave me a sad nostalgic feeling in my stomach. I lived in a railroad apartment at 118 E. 11th St. for about a decade in the ’60s. That was before it was renovated to raise the rents above double digits. We had a bathroom with only a tub and toilet, a kitchen whose window let in the clangs of the metal-stamping business on 10th St., and a wobbly lead pipe in the

To The Editor: Re “Gail Borden Chisholm, 62, vintage poster dealer” (obituary, July 13): I only knew Gail peripherally through my brother, to whom she was the ultimate friend through every kind of life experience, always as solid as a rock. Her constancy as a friend — and as a longtime figure in the Village / Chelsea community — was and is a rare thing of beauty and will be her ultimate legacy. Like the precious posters among which you spent LETTERS continued on p. 16



July 20, 2017


Protesters can make an impact and have fun, too



arni Halasa is a lawyer, journalist, activist and performance artist, and the founder of Revolution Is Sexy, a onestop shop for activists, groups and organizations needing advice and counseling on how to stage protests that attract the attention of mainstream media. Halasa, who was active in Occupy Wall Street, was an editor for the book “Occupy Finance,” which educated the wider public about the 2008 financial crisis. A native of Akron, Ohio, she came to New York City after getting her law degree to attend Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and work as a reporter and editor for the New York Law Journal. Currently, she is a figure-skating coach at Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers. Here Halasa shares some tips with The Villager on how to protest while also being sexy and fun. Q: What is the best protest advice you can give a newly ordained resister? A: You don’t have to pull a Howard Beale, the TV anchor in the 1976 movie “Network,” and scream that infamous phrase about being “mad as hell” out your window. But you do have to take that anger to the streets. Whether you piggyback onto an already existing protest or organize your own, get out into the street and make some serious noise. And before you do, organize a strategy, publicize your demands, alert the media and then invite everyone you know. Democracy begins with mass movements. And citizen-led uprisings — from Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter to Climate Justice — are steadily paving the way for policies to change, catapulting ideas that transform society into the national conversation. Signing petitions, calling Congress and tweeting also have value, but they are no substitute for the power of concerned citizens on the street with a clear demand on the right side of history. Q: Why do you dress up in elaborate costumes to protest? Is it worth all that effort? A: I don’t know if this stems from being raised in a household of immigrant tiger parents pushing me toward a career in corporate law since birth — but when I get pissed, I dress up: a wearable display of pink flamingos to combat global warming, a tutu made of fake money to pressure Trump into releasing his taxes, and a sassy leopard costume with long red nails to scratch our president’s fat face for crimes of sexual harassment. Bigger is better in terms of getting your TheVillager.com


Marni Halasa harpooning Elliot Crown as King Trump at the 2017 Mermaid Parade in Coney Island.

protest experience?

Marni Halasa in her “Oceans Have No Walls” getup at the 2016 Coney Island Mermaid Parade.

message heard, though, admittedly, it’s not glamorous hauling props up subway stairs. But, in the end, when large banks admit they moved their shareholder meetings outside New York City because you embarrassed them, or when a hedgefund manager jumps on the bandwagon to lobby about the inequity of the carriedinterest rate in Congress, it’s all worth it. Don’t think that putting your energies out into the universe doesn’t have an effect. It does. Q: Have you ever been arrested? A: I have not been arrested, but I often have a tinge of anxiety when the desire to morph into a butterfly comes calling. In 2013, I was given a summons by the New

York Police Department for impeding pedestrian traffic wearing 6-foot-high wings made from Chinese kites affixed to reams of diaphanous pink chiffon. It was a lazy Saturday afternoon at a virtually empty Zuccotti Park. There were few pedestrians around. I was an easy target. At the hearing, the judge promptly dismissed the summons. And although the experience can make for a fun story at a cocktail party, don’t be fooled — grown men with stellar credentials in law enforcement can still feel threatened by a woman with wings. Some political forces keep chipping away at the First Amendment, making it harder for citizens to express dissent in public. Q: What was your more memorable

A: One of my favorites was helping a group of young Brooklyn teens stage a protest about wage inequality with the Alternative Banking Group’s “Occupy Summer School.” On the street, the girls wore red T-shirts, choreographed a dance to Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls),” and sold muffins to women for 77 cents and to men for $1 dollar. A more recent favorite was a stint crashing the White House Correspondents Dinner. Working with political puppeteer Elliot Crown, we crashed the reception as King Trump and sidekick Miss Mar-a-Lago, posing for photos for the journalists since President Trump refused to attend the event. We danced and pirouetted out the doors of the Sheraton, escorted by D.C. police, while reporters clapped in applause. Q: What’s on the horizon for you? A: Talking to community groups and children about how to protest and have a voice in politics. I also recently moderated a panel at the Left Conference, the largest national conference of left activists, about how activists can get media attention for their protests. I am also writing a book that will hopefully pass along the reins and inspire others to become more politically active. And, yes, I am thinking of running for political office! For more about Halasa, visit www. revolutionissexy.com. July 20, 2017


Vlogger mayhem ‘worse than Supreme’: Locals VLOGGER continued from p. 1

it into the frenzied crowd. On Friday, a distraught Georgette Fleischer, president of the Friends of Petrosino Square, fi red off a letter to C.B. 2 and the Fifth Police Precinct, begging for help. “The tweens are shrieking in great waves,” she lamented. “The entire traffic lane on the east side of Cleveland Place has been given over as a pedestrian walkway because there is no room to walk on the sidewalk, which is packed seven or eight or more deep. When I came home earlier, promoters were running down Cleveland Place in the center traffic lane filming the delirious tweens, who pay $32 for a little tank top and who were being led by the promoters to shout en masse, ‘Logan! Logan! Logan!’ It is scheduled to go on for three consecutive days. How has this been allowed to happen? Will it take a death or maiming to stop this?” Soho activist Lora Tenenbaum emailed back to Fleischer: “There are multiple lines, probably a half mile of excited youngsters and not-so-happy parents taking up Little Italy’s sidewalks and streets...Spring to Kenmare, Mott to Cleveland. I think most of the Fifth Precinct was deployed to control the crowd — on little if no notice.” On Monday, Fleischer again emailed C.B. 2 and the Fifth Police Precinct, plus this time added in Councilmember Margaret Chin’s Office. “Something needs to be done to make sure we never have a repeat of anything like what happened over the past three days, when the building owner of 201 Mulberry rented out his premises so promoters of YouTuber Logan Paul could invade our neighborhood with tens of thousands of shrieking tweens,” Fleischer fumed. “This was beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. I was trapped in my building and could not get out. I had a panic attack when I came downstairs and saw tightly packed hordes pressed against the plate-glass door into my apartment building so that it was impossible for me to exit. “Our neighborhood is trashed beyond anything I have ever seen in my life,” she said, adding, “There are hundreds of metal police barricades all over, as if we are in a war zone.” Fleischer said, however, when she spoke to a police captain at the scene, he told her, “ ‘People have a right to open a pop-up store.’ ... They claimed there was no need for licensing or a permit of any kind,” the activist said, incredulously, “even if it brought tens of thousands of people and created dangers to the public. It must have cost well into six figures for a publicly paid-for security detail courtesy of N.Y.P.D. so YouTuber Logan Paul and his promoters could rake in $32 for


July 20, 2017


Crowds of young fans of Internet personality Logan Paul and his clothing line completely blocked the sidewalk on Kenmare St. at Cleveland Place in front of the Storefront for Ar t and Architecture.

each tank top, of which they sold tens of thousands.” Terri Cude, chairperson of C.B. 2, agreed that the situation with frequent product “drops” and these sort of celebrity-driven events has gotten out of control. Cude said, after the Logan Paul fiasco, the board promptly wrote to Citywide Event Coordination and Management and its umbrella city agency, the Street Activities Permit Office. “We’ve requested an immediate moratorium on all applications for events at 201 Mulberry St.,” she said, though noting that the Logan Paul event actually wasn’t even an application, as far as the community board can tell. C.B. 2 is also requesting a multiagency meeting with the city to figure out a better strategy to control these type of events. “You just ran an excellent article on

The vlogger’s fans left piles of garbage in their wake, like this one on Kenmare St.

Supreme,” Cude told The Villager, referring to “Locals supremely irked by streetwear Co.’s events” (news article, July 6), which described the crowds around that company’s Lafayette St. location, plus the store’s unauthorized commandeering of local public parks for events. “Your article on Supreme said it all. And this one — even worse,” she said of the Paul pandemonium. “This was the same, it just had more people because it had a celebrity — or whatever you call him, Logan Paul,” she quipped, adding, “I don’t know who he is, but then I’m not a 13-year-old girl. Maybe he’s like the David Cassidy of his era. “The letter that we sent to C.E.C.M. and SAPO has a link to a video and you can hear the screaming,” she said. “There were stories of people coming in from Canada and West Virginia. “There are pop-ups and they’re happening a lot,” Cude continued. “This is increasing in both frequency and the detrimental effects on our community. This has become a business model where the line outside the store is a way of building excitement for the retailer. But we live here — we should be able to step out on the street. And when there are celebrities, the screaming and jostling, it becomes dangerous.” In some cases, such is the extent of people’s obsession with the product drops that even when they are canceled, the fans stubbornly persist in camping out. This happened just last week when Louis Vuitton scrapped an event with Supreme planned for a space at Bond St. and Bowery. “The people were told from Monday to Friday that it was canceled,” Cude noted. “It wasn’t a lot of people, but some were camped out overnight on chairs” on Prince St. near the actual Vuitton store. “I went into LV and said, ‘Did you tell them?’ They said, ‘Yes. They won’t believe us.’ ” Other brands that host product drops in the area that often draw crowds include Bathing Ape (BAPE), Adidas, Nike, Foot Locker, Uniqlo and Kith, to name a few. Cude said Adidas and Nike have thankfully moved toward a lottery system of allocating spots on the waiting line, which helps curb the craziness. She said the response of police is that these kind of pop-up events are legal as long as the crowds don’t block the entire sidewalk, allowing people to still pass by. “This thing, they blocked the whole sidewalk,” she said. At this point, Cude wants to talk to Councilmember Chin about creating some new legislation that will control these sort of events — legislation with real penalties. “More than ticketing,” Cude said, “shut ’em down.”




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Ghost signs are faded memories of Village past SIGNS continued from p. 1

D’Lugoff, the Village Gate nightclub featured stars of folk, jazz and comedy and theatrical shows until it closed in 1994. Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Richard Pryor and Miles Davis were among the Gate’s performers. Its iconic sign remains atop a CVS drug store at 160 Bleecker St. The sign advertises two of the venue’s shows: “Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris” and performance artist Penny Arcade’s “Politics, Sex & Reality.” In 1929 Avignone Pharmacy moved from its MacDougal St. location to 281 Sixth Ave. The proudly anti-chain drug store served the community until it closed its doors in 2015 due to a rent hike. The large painted sign advertising the pharmacy still overlooks Sir Winston Churchill Square, the small park that honors the British prime minister during World War II. The Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation estimates the sign, with its CH-2 telephone prefix, probably dates from the 1950s. Next to the Avignone sign is another survivor, an ad for Hygrade’s All-Beef frankfurters. Hygrade Products was founded in 1914 by Russian immigrant Samuel Slotkin. The company made a variety of processed meats, but the book “Food City” explains that Slotkin’s “first loyalty” was to his original product, the frankfurter: “His were always all beef and came with a skin, because otherwise ‘all the juice leaks out.’ ” Hygrade’s was acquired by Sara Lee in 1989. The signs above the Marine Layer clothing store at 316 Bleecker St. are socalled palimpsests or double ghost signs. A newer but aged sign for Mrs. A. Swinton has been painted over the older Samuel Tuck sign. Neither offers a clue about the businesses, though the sign’s 302 may refer to an early numbering of the street. The block’s row of seven Italianate buildings was built in 1854 for wholesale grocers Martin Bunn and Nicolas D. Harder. A salesperson at Marine Layer says the signage, in remarkable condition for its age, was revealed when a dry cleaners sign was removed during renovation. In the early 20th century, Greenwich St. was both commercial and residential. The Ninth Ave. elevated trains, or Els, ran down the street’s center and served companies like Coy Disbrow, a wholesale paper and twine dealer. Robert Henry Coy and Hamilton Thomas Disbrow founded the company in 1922. In 1930, Coy Disbrow moved to 686 Greenwich St., where its founders remained until they both died in 1942. The company relocated to Lafayette St. in 1968. Though the building was converted to apartments in 1977, the faded two-story sign facing Christopher St. remains in remarkably good shape. The luxury apartment building at 135 Charles St. was named Le Gendarme in 1977 as a nod to the past. The grand Beaux Arts structure was built in 1897 as the stationhouse for the Ninth Police PreTheVillager.com


The ghost sign for Emil Talamini Real Estate, 450 Sixth Ave. bet ween W. 10th and W. 11th Sts.

The sign of the old Village Gate nightclub, at 160 Bleecker St. at Thompson St.

cinct. Dedicated by then-Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, the building included 32 holding pens, jail cells and stables. The stationhouse closed in 1969 and moved as the Sixth Precinct to a lessornate home on W. 10th St. The Northern Dispensary was built in 1831 on the triangle of land formed by Christopher and Grove Sts. and Waverly Place. At the time, Greenwich Village was considered the northern part of New York City. A marble plaque over its entrance at 165 Waverly Place describes its mission: “Heal the Sick.” Deed restrictions ensured that the building would be used to provide medical services. Largely operating as a dental clinic by the 1980s, the Dispensary’s refusal to treat a man with AIDS led to a lawsuit and fines. The clinic closed in 1989. Its restrictive deed has helped keep the building empty. The ghost sign for Emil Talamini Real Estate has been called “Sixth Avenue’s unofficial welcome-to-the-Village sign.”

The Hygrade’s All-Beef Frankfur ters ghost sign, at 281 Sixth Ave. near Bleecker St.

Almost three stories high, the ad on the south side of 450 Sixth Ave. overlooks the Jefferson Market Library. Talamini, who maintained an office in the building, died in 1970 at 64. His obituary in the Times described him as a real estate broker and investor who lived at 70 E. 10th St. and was long active in the Village. The three-story structure at 50 W. 10th St. was most likely built in the early 1800s as a carriage house for the horses of a rich Village landowner. Its sign, Grosvenor Private Boarding Stable, has endured, although the building became a residence in 1900. In 1965, playwright Edward Albee bought the house. Here he wrote “A Delicate Balance,” earning him

the Pulitzer Prize. Composer Jerry Herman purchased the home in 1968. Scottish immigrant Archibald Erskine moved his Erskine Press to 17 E. 13th St. when it was constructed in 1911. Author Anaïs Nin explained in her diary (“Vol. 4, 1944-1947”) that she and partner Gonzalo Moré started Gemor Press there in 1944 to publish their own work. “It was a small, two-story house,” Nin wrote. “There was a large front window, big enough for displays, and it could be fi xed to exhibit our beautiful books.” A later renovation revealed a “Childrens Hair Cut” sign. Today a French-themed cafe serves grilled sandwiches here. July 20, 2017


Freeze shop evictions: Advocates and candidates BY SHARON WOOLUMS


ndependent-minded candidates for political office joined the Small Business Congress — an advocacy group founded by the leading authority on small business in New York City, Sung Soo Kim — at a recent City Hall steps press conference to call attention to the worsening crisis facing our small businesses. And they highlighted what can be done to save them — namely, passing the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. Steven Barrison, a spokesperson for the S.B.C. and a leading advocate for the S.B.J.S.A., was among the speakers. “The crisis forcing our long-established businesses to close is growing worse,” he said. “The political leadership inside City Hall — Mayor de Blasio, Speaker MarkViverito and Public Advocate James — will never allow an honest hearing to pass legislation to save small businesses and jobs of millions of New Yorkers. “Therefore, these independent-minded candidates — not controlled by either big real estate campaign funding or handpicked and endorsed by corrupt political machines, are joining S.B.C. to call for an emergency freeze of evictions of all commercial businesses. “New Yorkers deserve honest debate and hearings to find a real solution for this crisis,” Barrison stressed. “Small businesses need immediate legislation

giving rights to business owners to renew and negotiate fair leases. In the 30-years debate and fight to pass legislation for commercial tenants to protect them from rent gouging, only once has a hearing been denied — under Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito.” Barrison gave what he called startling proof of this growing crisis, noting that court ordered evictions of small commercial businesses average 491 per month, along with 9,600 to 11,200 jobs lost each month. Barrison criticized de Blasio for taking credit for creating 100,000 jobs under his watch but never taking responsibility for the more than 400,000 jobs lost caused by businesses closing. David Eisenbach, a candidate for public advocate, brought out the fact that the mayor, Council speaker and public advocate, when they were members of the City Council, were strong and proud sponsors of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. As councilmembers, each of the publicly recognized the crisis and called for a vote on the bill. Once elected to higher office, however, all three leaders betrayed their progressive values by siding with big real estate in rigging the system to block any legislation that would give rights to business owners. Eisenbach slammed all three leaders for remaining silent and not setting the record straight when lawmakers made the claim that the S.B.J.S.A.







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July 20, 2017

LETTERS continued from p. 8

your adult life, they don’t make them like you anymore, Gail. You were a woman of substance — the real thing.

Outspoken, engaging

Each show will feature instudio guests and call-out segments, and can be listened to live or played anytime at your convenience.

that rent gouging forcing him to close. He said the S.B.J.S.A. is critical because the City Hall leadership simply is not doing enough to save small businesses. The most passionate speaker was Christopher Marte, a candidate in Lower Manhattan’s First Council District, whose father owned a bodega on Rivington St. on the Lower East Side but was forced out due to high rent. “These landlords do not care about the jobs of the businesses or the families or what the businesses mean to the community,” Marte declared. “They only care about making a windfall profit on the backs of years of hard work and scarifies made like my father.” At the end of the press conference, Barrison, on behalf of Sung Soo Kim and the S.B.C., formally endorsed these independent minded candidates for election as the only hope to save our city’s small businesses. Besides Marte, another local candidate was endorsed, Erin Hussein, who is running in the East Village’s Second Council District, where the incumbent, Rosie Mendez, will be term-limited out of office at the end of this year. Despite the advocates’ and candidates’ call for an emergency freeze on commercial evictions, City Hall made no signal that it intended to take up the idea — much less let the S.B.J.S.A. come up for a vote in the City Council.

Letters to The Editor David Byron

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had legal problems and therefore could not be passed into law. The candidate accused them of “pay-to-play” corruption, of using their offices to promote and give credibility to legislative distractions, questionable studies, worthless initiatives and proposals created by the real estate lobby just to keep the status quo. Mayoral candidate Sal Albanese strongly endorsed the advocates’ call for a freeze on evictions. “Mayor de Blasio would never support legislation which regulated his primary campaign donors — big real estate,” Albanese charged. Albanese is not taking big real estate donations and pledged, if elected, to continue that policy. He also vowed, if elected, to overhaul the Department of Small Business Services and replace bureaucrats with true small business owners and advocates, like Sung Soo Kim. Several City Council candidates also spoke in support of the emergency eviction freeze and how desperate momand-pop businesses need this respite to survive the crisis caused by sky-high rent increases. John Doyle, a Bronx City Council candidate, explained how evictions for businesses there increased in 2015 by 30 percent, topping all boroughs. Mel Wymore, a transgender candidate running against Councilmember Helen Rosenthal on the Upper West Side, said he was once a small business owner, but

To The Editor: Re “Gail Borden Chisholm, 62, vintage poster dealer” (obituary, July 13): I remember Gail from L’Acajou on 19th St., where we were both regulars. She was open, engaging, opinionated and a real joy to talk to. Most, if not all, of my interactions with Gail were by chance at L’Acajou, and all were interesting and rooted in her love and encyclopedic knowledge of vintage poster art and her outspokenness — with which I agreed, mostly, ha! — on the political / cultural situations of the moment. She was a real New Yorker, one who built it, lived it and, most importantly, contributed to it. The passing of a dying breed. It was an honor to have known her.

Garden deck parties To The Editor: Re “Gail Borden Chisholm, 62, vintage poster dealer” (obituary, July 13): I first met Gail at L’Acajou as her bartender, and over the years became her friend. I even worked a bit at the gallery on 22nd St. and sometimes at the poster fair thanks to Gail’s generosity. She was a wonderful friend and a great New Yorker. The parties on her garden deck were an oasis in the city. Steven Hill

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager. com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 MetroTech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY 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.

John LaSala


‘Jars’ creator defies containment From punk to opera, Patchel’s song remains the same BY PUMA PERL Several weeks ago, a friend, Clayton Patterson, messaged me, suggesting that I interview Keith Patchel, a recent Acker Award winner in the category of composer/producer. “Keith has been able to make the different switches to stay relevant in the game of staying in the game. Now he’s about to kick everything up to a higher level,” wrote Clayton, an artist/ activist/producer who knows a thing or two about kicking it up. “Keith was part of the punk thing with Richard Lloyd,” he continued. “He recently wrote an opera, ‘The Plain of Jars,’ the site of the United States Laotian bombings.” From punk to opera. Set it up, I responded. We met at Clayton’s storefront, winding our way from punk to global themes in a non-linear conversation. As Patchel remarked, “Real punks were revolutionaries.” We agreed that music transforms not only the arts, but also our visions of the world and ourselves. Raised upstate, Patchel graduated from the University of Buffalo with a fine arts degree; John Cage and Aaron Copland were among the guest lecturers he met, while studying composition with Lejaren Hiller. He’d already started some bands when he moved to New York City in 1979, reconnecting with Cage and meeting other avant-garde artists, as well as younger musicians and denizens of the punk scene. He formed a band called The Opportunists, which backed up Joe Bidewell, and, through him, met John Cale and Richard Lloyd, who invited him into the Richard Lloyd Quartet. During this period he began graduate work at Queens College. “It was two very different lives,” Patchel reflected. “Music theory/composition studies with composer George Perle and playing in rock bands.” In January of 1985, having rejoined Richard Lloyd’s band, the acclaimed “Field of Fire” album was recorded in Stockholm, Sweden. When Patchel returned to his Midtown apartment, he discovered a new roommate had moved in — some Columbia student named Barack Obama. Patchel later moved to London for several years, and, in the mid-’90s, to Bogotá, Colombia, where he found fame TheVillager.com

©2016 Clayton Patterson

Foreground: Keith Patchel and Xi Yang following a 2016 performance of “The Plain of Jars.”

Photo by Marcia Resnick

The Richard Lloyd Quartet, circa 1981. L to R: Keith Patchel, David Key, Richard Lloyd, David Mann.

and infamy after writing a song about the death of Pablo Escobar. Upon his return to the United States, he continued his interest in electronic music, scoring films, including the Emmy-nominated “Finishing Heaven,” starring Ruby Lynn

Reyner, and performing as a guitarist and singer. Upon the recommendation of composer Milton Babbitt, he began a new course of studies at The Juilliard School, finding what he calls “a second level of maturity as a composer.”

Over the last several years Patchel’s friendship with his neighbor, Carter Emmart, has led to a professional collaboration, merging arts and humanitarianism. Emmart is the Director of Astrovisualization at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, which houses the rebuilt Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History. They created MARSBAND, merging improvisational instrumentation with an “immersive exploration” of space and the planets by way of “an educational, musical meditation” (see amnh.org/calendar for info on their Aug. 1 performance). Patchel, who is currently the Composer in Residence at the NYU Music Experience Design Lab (MusEDLab), has developed a linkage between NYU and the Museum of Natural History. “This was not for financial gain,” he said. “It was the right thing to do.” Emmart has long been involved with JARS continued on p. 19 July 20, 2017


Gaming fest makes a play for change G4C advances medium beyond matters of conquest BY CHARLES BATTERSBY Rescuing the princess is a mainstay of video games, but some developers are out to do more than save a fictional damsel. They want to save the real world. For the 14th year, the Games For Change Festival (G4C) will gather together game designers, researchers, and humanitarians to explore how video games can be used for positive impact. The threeday summit (July 31–Aug. 2) will focus on health, social impact, and education, with a full day devoted to Virtual Reality. We spoke with Susanna Pollack the president of G4C, about the different programming tracks that attendees will find at the festival. Pollack described the Civics & Social Issues track as “the heart of what Games For Change has been since the beginning — talking about socio-cultural, political, emotional, personal experiences, and how that’s expressed through games.” One of the games featured in the Civics & Social Issues track is “Walden, a Game,” which is based on Henry David Thoreau’s book “Walden.” Its designer, Tracy Fullerton, told us, “Thoreau’s themes are even more topical now than they were when he was writing them. His book is a call to action for reflecting on our lives and society, how we live and what we value. For him, living simply and consciously was an answer; a kind of active life of reflection and deliberate choice. I think that in this way, it is a perfect example of a game for change: changing our way of thinking and living.” Fullerton will also deliver a Keynote speech about designing games that explore the arts and humanities. “So many games are about conquest, winning, losing, a kind of binary approach to existence,” she noted. “I want to talk about the gray areas of experience that the arts and humanities allow us to focus on. We need more experience parsing these gray areas, and while games that model more simplistic questions are fun and engaging, I am calling for games that don’t give simple answers but rather open in more complex, layered questions about life.” Another line of programming in festival is the Games For Learning Summit, which focuses on educa-


July 20, 2017

Courtesy “Minecraft: Education Experience”

“Minecraft: Education Edition” tailors the familiar game to classroom needs.

Photo by Jane Kratochvil

This year’s festival devotes an entire day to Virtual Reality.

tional games. Featured prominently this year is “Minecraft: Education Edition.” Kids have learned to fear the phrase “It makes learning fun” — but “Minecraft” has an edge in that it’s already a massively popular franchise. Meenoo Rami, manager at “Minecraft: Education Edition,” explained, “I think what makes ‘Minecraft’ unique is that it allows teachers to use an environment stu-

dents already know and love, and build on it with learning experiences that are richer and richer.” We asked Rami about how this game fits with the festival’s ambitions, and she said, “Games For Change is about innovation, aligning with ‘Minecraft: Education Edition,’ which promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem solving, meeting students where they are in a fun and familiar environment.”

Rami said they’ve “found a lot of support in the educator community and more importantly, we are turning to them to help us shape the road map for our work,” and noted that kids’ “love and excitement is palpable. If teachers tap into this enthusiasm and expertise and combine it with their own know-how of designing learning experiences, you have a winning combination in the classroom.” For years, the game industry has claimed that some games are good for your health, or that they keep your brain in shape through puzzle-solving. Last year the festival added a new track to examine these ideas with a more clinical eye. The Neurogaming & Health program returns this year with panels that discus and debate the realities of games and their relationship to health and “brain training.” New to the festival this year is a full day set aside for Virtual Reality, with the VR For Change Summit. According to Pollack, “It’s time to call that out as a medium that has a lot of impact potential, and also to expand the type of experiences that creators are making beyond just games. ... We’re going to have a G4C continued on p. 19 TheVillager.com

G4C continued from p. 18

whole day focused on the opportunities and challenges of VR.” The festival isn’t just for gamers and tech enthusiasts. The roster of speakers and panelists includes many who are from the scientific and political fields. “What’s bringing people together is the potential that games have to help further their work,” Pollack said. “A lot of the speakers that you’ll find at the festival are talking about a high level overview of the potential that games have, why they’re relevant, how amazing projects have been born using this medium, that is enlightening people or educating people, helping them gain a little awareness about an issue. … It’s as much about the content that the games are about, as it is about the technology and the processes of making a game.” The festival still seeks to draw in hardcore gamers, and traditional game designers. “We’re hoping to inspire those gamers or game developers who are more focused on commercial, entertainment properties, and bringing them into the space,” Pollack said, noting G4C provides a space “to explore and find amazing games that they can play, that are high quality and completely engaging, that might offer a different experience.” Of particular interest to New

Courtesy NYU Game Innovation Lab

Players explore a recreation of Walden Pond and the town of Concord in “Walden, a Game.”

York’s game design community are several panels on funding sources for games that have educational or research value. People who can’t make it to the festival in person can still see the panels from this year’s festival and previous years, on the festival’s YouTube channel. G4C is also hosting a series of

live “Talk And Play” events in New York City later this fall. Kids who are in public school will also be able to participate in making their own games with the festival’s Student Challenge event in the coming school year. Mon., July 31 through Wed., Aug. 2. At the Parsons School of Design at

JARS continued from p. 17

humanitarian work in Southeast Asia; he recommended that Patchel read Fred Branfman’s “Voices from the Plain of Jars,” a compilation of essays, poems, and drawings by Laotians. Originally published in 1972, Branfman interviewed over 1,000 survivors of the secret air war waged upon Laos by the United States during the Vietnam era (1964-73). “I knew I had to do something,” said Patchel. His resolve to tell the story led him to compose an experimental chamber opera, “The Plain of Jars,” which premiered December 2016 at W. 52nd St.’s Medicine Show Theatre and was described by Noj Treblig (at rovingnoticer.blogspot.com) as “a significant cultural event that should be noticed and honored.” Some of it is spoken, some sung. “The play turns into an opera,” explained Patchel, who plans to keep the genre going with additional installments under the umbrella title, “The American Empire.” The now retired head of the NYU Music Department, Dr. John Gilbert, worked with him TheVillager.com

Photo by Puma Perl

L to R: Clayton Patterson and Keith Patchel.

as the play developed and is credited as Executive Producer. Following a 2017 MARSBAND show in Singapore, Emmart guided him on a tour of Laos, including a visit to the Plain of Jars. They plan to form alliances with other groups, including MAG (Mines

Advisory Group), to bring worldwide attention to the contamination of Laos — which, unbeknownst to many, is the most bombed country per capita in the world. In 2016, President Obama pledged 90 million dollars to clear up the unexploded ordnance that continue

The New School (66 Fifth Ave., btw. Fifth & Sixth Aves.). Festival passes for individual days or entire event range from $179— $499 (nonprofit/ educator and group discounts available). Visit gamesforchange.org, call 212-242-4922, or email festival@ gamesforchange.org. Social Media: #G4C17.

to contaminate the soil. The opera consists of eight characters and two settings, a Laotian field and the White House. A multimedia production, visual projections are included. In the opening scene, four Laotian women express joy in the harvesting season. The second scene moves to the White House, with President John F. Kennedy welcoming Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Henry Kissinger to Camelot. Kissinger and Nixon agree that all weapons must be used to stop communism “or the dominoes will fall.” Patchel hopes to keep a “small guerilla ensemble” and develop a vehicle for student productions. As Clayton concluded, “I didn’t know a lot about Laos and Cambodia. Writing this keeps it alive. There is still vitality down here pushing forward. Our lives are rich encyclopedias of Downtown history.” “The Plain of Jars” is part of NYU’s Impact Festival (events.nyu.edu). Thurs. & Fri., July 27 & 28, 8pm and Sat., July 29, 2pm & 8pm at NYU’s Black Box Theatre (82 Washington Square East at Washington Place). Suggested donation of $20 cash at the door. July 20, 2017


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year minimum lease, with the right to renew it, and limit security deposits to two month’s rent, among other issues. Despite having a majority of the councilmembers as co-sponsors, the bill has never had a formal hearing or vote in the City Council. Advocates charge Mayor Bill de Blasio has never publicly supported the measure, even with 5,000 supporters signing an online petition calling for it to have a hearing and be put to a vote.

Alex Carpenter, an East Village resident and co-owner of the East Village Vintage Collective boutique, at 545 E. 12th St., perhaps summed up the situation in a way that most locals and regular visitors to the area could appreciate. “We’ve resisted 7-Eleven, and we’re not happy about Target and Trader Joe’s on 14th St.,” Carpenter said. “We’re losing all the character here and have to continue fighting to keep the weirdness and hole-in-the-wall shops we’re known for.”


James Armata, Mud Coffee’s general manager, ser ved gallons of free coffee to the crowd, and spoke of the many local businesses that have been forced to close due to rent increases. The problem goes beyond one Starbucks on one corner, he stressed.


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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


July 20, 2017

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.


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