The Paper p of Record for Greenwich Village, g East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
September 21, 2017 • $1.00 Volume 87 • Number 38
With bosses’ backroom deal, Kavanagh edges Newell for state Senate BY COLIN MIXSON
candidate vying to fill L ower Man hattan’s vacant state Senate seat — who had overwhelming grassroots support at a Democratic Party committee meeting on Sunday — is crying foul after party bosses maneuvered to install his establishment-
backed rival this week. Three-quarters of thee members of the Manhat-tan Democratic Countyy Committee voted for or Paul Newell to represent ent the party in November’ss general election to replace former state Senator Daniel Squadron. FIX continued on p. 4
Mayor plans to can cabaret law, allowing dancing in all venues BY L AUREN GILL
e finally stopped dancing around the issue! Mayor Bill de Blasio supports the repeal of an archaic law that bans dancing in establishments that do not have a special, hard-to-get license as long as those clubs and bars enact certain basic security
measures, a representative for the mayor announced at a City Hall hearing on the statute last Thursday. “The de Blasio administration strongly supports repealing the current cabaret law,” said Lindsay Greene, a senior advisor for the Office of DANCING continued on p. 5
The sight of Christopher Columbus didn’t raise any monumental objections at Saturday’s San Gennaro procession on Mulberr y St. — just the opposite. See Page 23.
Marte to concede race, claims victory in defeat BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
hristopher Marte was still waiting this week for the results of the Sept. 12 primary election in the First City Council District to be certified — but he indicated that he was, in fact, on the verge of conceding the race to Margaret Chin. And yet, he also claimed victory.
“I think losing by 200 votes shows we defeated her,” Marte told The Villager. “We need change. Having been a two-term incumbent, she’s entrenched. She had all the publicity. And having two other candidates take 10 percent of the vote. ...” Had two other candidates — Aaron Foldenauer and Dashia Imperiale — not also run in the primary, it’s certain that Marte would have won.
“If either one of them had backed down, it would have changed everything,” Marte, 28, reflected. There is some talk of Marte now possibly running in the November general election on a third-party line. But he said he’s not ready to announce anything about that at this point, and doesn’t want to give his supporters false hope. CONCEDE continued on p. 8
Cher was cherished, but willow had to go.........p. 6 A ‘global’ view of American statues debate......p. 13 Occupy Trump! O.W.S. at 6....... p. 3
WIGGING OUT ON WHEELS: Why were a phalanx of nude-bodysuit-and-wig-wearing Donald Trump clones marching around the Village and then hopping on Citi Bikes earlier this week? But of course to protest the president, who was addressing the United Nations. It was none other than the fighting activists of Rise and Resist — who maybe should also alternatively be known as Ride and Resist due to their pedaling prowess. Ride on!
on the moving front, at this point. “As I had said to folks during the course of the campaign,” she told us, “I would be looking for an apartment elsewhere should I become councilwoman. As we continue to work hard on the general election campaign, we have already begun looking based on my prospects, and we will move as soon as a prospective landlord and our current budget allow.”
MOVING ON UP: Now that Carlina Rivera is the Democratic nominee for the Second City Council District after winning last week’s primary election, she’s obviously pretty much a shoo-in to win the East Village seat in the Nov. 7 general election — though she still faces a challenge from G.O.P. candidate Jimmy McMillan (“The rent is too damn high!”). She has assured that she and her husband, Jamie Rogers, the chairperson of Community Board 3, will vacate Rivera’s Section 8 low-income apartment once she becomes councilmember, with its salary of more than $140,000. We asked her this week if there’s been any movement
WEED WATCH: Since our article a few weeks ago on poisonous plants along the Hudson River bikeway and in the Route 9A median, we haven’t had an update from former Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe on the situation. It was Benepe, an avid cyclist, who first started tweeting that locoweed and black nightshade were growing wild, literally, in patches along the bike path’s planted edge and in the planted highway divider. At any rate, the situation seems to be spreading. Reader Nancy Pasley reports that she spotted a Jimsonweed plant a.k.a. locoweed growing in a tree pit at 240 W. Fourth St., at W. 10th St. Maybe local dogs can assist with eradicating that one.
PHOTOS BY SCOOPY
Rise and Resist members marching from the Citi Bike dock at Greenwich and Eighth Aves. — where too many bikes had been “reser ved” by other bike-share users — to another dock in the Meatpacking District where they would hopefully find some c ycles for their mission up to the U.N. to protest President Trump.
The naked truth: Trump, “the emperor,” has no clothes — was the theme of the group’s protest action — and the problem we’re all stuck with!
September 21, 2017
Occupy Trump! Don re-energizes Zuccotti vets BY LEVAR ALONZO
t has been six years since Occupy Wall Street took to the streets of New York City to fight against greed, social and economic inequality and the perceived influence of corporations on governments. On Sun., Sept. 17, at Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, about 100 people gathered for the movement’s sixth anniversary as some former Occupy protesters held a press conference to proclaim Occupy and the work that it has influenced. Marni Halasa, the press conference’s organizer, is also running as an independent (on the Eco Justice Party line) for City Council in the Village and Chelsea’s District 3. She said that, even though the movement died, it has spawned different groups and encouraged people to become activists, taught people how to protest and also inspired protesters to run for public office. Halasa has based her platform, in her Council campaign, on saving small businesses in the city. According to her, the Democratic establishment isn’t doing anything to stem the loss of small-business jobs. With Donald Trump’s capturing the presidency, many of the same Occupy protesters are taking the fight against
Marni Halasa, right, speaking at the Occupy Wall Street press conference at the movement’s six th anniversar y on Sept. 17.
inequality and using it as motivation to be leading voices in the New York City resistance against him. Jerry Ashton was inspired in the wake of Occupy to co-found a charity, RIP Medical Debt, which collects donations and uses that money to completely pay off people’s medical debts. In response to Trump and the Republican Party’s renewed push to re-
peal Obamacare, Ashton said the focus should be on how to help the 64 million Americans struggling to pay off their medical bills. “There should be a desire to relieve this burden,” Ashton said. “They have to realize that this struggle goes across party lines.” Some, like Halasa, feel Occupy has renewed relevance now with Trump
in power. “Groups are more focused,” Halasa said. “One demand is to get Trump out of office. In Occupy, we had a host of issues we were fighting for. But these groups — such as Rise and Resist — their whole focus is to drive Trump out of office.” Miss K, an activist who was also inspired by Occupy, has attended every anniversary since police raided the park and booted out the protesters. She came this year to offer insight on her fight for affordable housing and the homeless. “I was there to let people know that fi nding affordable housing is a crisis and homelessness is on the rise,” she said. She is a part of the organization Picture the Homeless, which is fighting against landlords who hold onto vacant property or space until they can rent them for a huge profit. The organization is also fighting for the city to develop a publicly accessible database that lists all vacant properties throughout the city. “Many of the groups that you see protesting are from people that learned from Occupy, that were there during the protest, they watched and learned,” Halasa said. “I must say the legacy of Occupy Wall Street will forever live on.”
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September 21, 2017
‘Fix was in’ for Kavanagh, Newell says FIX 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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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
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September 21, 2017
Squadron, of course, recently surprisingly announced his resignation — after it was too late for a primary election. But machinations by the party bosses in the two-borough district nonetheless swung the decision in favor of Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh to be the likely nominee. The outcome is, in the words of one Brooklyn Democratic Committee member, “the worst-case scenario.” “I think this demonstrates the naked power of the machine,” David Bloomfield said. “There is nothing good to say about it. It forever marks Kavanagh as a product of the machine and a phony reformer.” In a statement released the day after the meeting, Newell said the race was “stolen” by the party’s bosses. When Squadron stepped down from his seat in the 26th Senate District, he announced his resignation after an important petition-filing deadline for would-be candidates, thus robbing rank-and-file Democrats of the opportunity to choose their party’s nominee in a primary. Instead, candidates for the cross-borough district were chosen by county committees on both sides of the East River — an arcane process that allowed party leaders Keith Wright in Manhattan and Frank Seddio in Brooklyn significant leeway in determining how a decision would be made. In Manhattan, committee members voted by 72 percent in favor of Newell at a meeting on Sept. 17, with Kavanagh taking the remaining 28 percent after a third candidate, former City Councilmember Alan Gerson, abruptly withdrew from the race. Seddio, however, refused to call Kings County committee members to a vote, and instead took it upon himself cast all of the Brooklyn committee’s votes for Kavanagh, pushing him over the top with 53 percent of the district’s total vote. If the process had been organized even slightly differently, Kavanagh would have almost certainly lost, leaving many grassroots Democrats to suspect that the fi x was in well before any ballots were cast, according to a member of Manhattan’s Downtown Independent Democrats club. “Manhattan voted proportionally, Brooklyn voted as a bloc, and that’s the game they’re playing,” said Sean Sweeney, treasurer of D.I.D. “That’s the corruption.” Sweeney added that the powers that be did not favor Newell because he is a “true progressive.” Because more registered Democratic voters live in the Manhattan part of the district, the county committee’s votes are weighted considerably in that borough’s favor. That left Wright the opportunity to gather his members’ votes into a bloc and choose Newell as the nominee, according to the grassroots favorite. “New York’s county leaders still have the opportunity to do the right thing,” Newell said Monday morning. “I know that Brian claims victory based on a backroom deal, but that’s not inked yet.”
District Leader Paul Newell with a sphinx in the Elizabeth St. Garden, of which he is a strong suppor ter.
PHOTOS BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
Speaking in November 2016, at a hearing on the Beth Israel Hospital downsizing plan, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh stressed that area politicians want full information on the process.
That would have meant Wright snubbing some of the state’s most powerful blue-party honchos, including Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo, who — in a rare moment of agreement — both threw their weight behind Kavanagh. Others supporting Kavanagh were Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.
But because Wright chose not to, it proves that Tammany Hall levels of corruption are at work, Newell said. “The last time a county committee vote in New York was ignored was in the 1950s under Tammany Hall,” he pointed out. The deal was sealed Monday at a political fundraiser at Junior’s, the famed cheesecake restaurant. Later that evening, in a statement, Newell said, “Today, two party bosses met in a back room at a cheesecake fundraiser to overturn [a] democratic outcome for our neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. Ignoring the vote of the County Committee, Manhattan County Leader and lobbyist Keith Wright met Brooklyn County Leader Frank Seddio to install Brian Kavanagh as state Senator. “The only voters of the 26th Senate District who were allowed to weigh in on this race voted overwhelmingly for Paul Newell,” he continued. “Brooklyn County Committee members were shut out of the process, their voices suppressed by backroom deals. Had Brooklyn Committee members been allowed to vote, we would have needed to win a mere 8 percent of them to secure a district-wide majority. Our support from the New Kings Democrats, Brooklyn’s leading reform organization, alone would have delivered more than that. “The Democratic Party should have followed the most transparent and accountable procedure possible and allowed a full vote of the County Committee in both boroughs,” Newell said. “Although Kavanagh and erstwhile reformer Daniel Squadron asked for a full vote upon his resignation, they clearly fostered and approved of the backroom deal to benefit Squadron’s friend and chosen successor. In addition to Squadron, Bosses Wright and Seddio should be ashamed for their subversion of the democratic process.” Kavanagh could not be reached for comment before press time. TheVillager.com
PHOTO BY BOB KRASNER
A couple dancing to the sounds of Joshua Redman at the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in Tompkins Square Park last month. If they wanted to dance indoors, their selection of venues would be limited by the current cabaret law.
Mayor to can the cabaret law, allowing dancing in all venues DANCING continued from p. 1
Housing and Economic Development. â€œThere are better ways than the current law to create a strong and healthy nightlife economy.â€? In June, Greene refused to say whether Hizzoner backed a bill by Bushwick Councilmember Rafael Espnial that proposes abolishing the 1926 cabaret law, citing a pending lawsuit on its constitutionality. Espinal introduced the measure that month, arguing the statute was put in place to target black jazz clubs and has been used as a way for police to discriminate against minority groups ever since. But now de Blasio will sign legislation to scrap the old law, on condition it is replaced with one that requires nightlife businesses maintain surveillance cameras and ensure security personnel are properly licensed and registered. Attendees at last weekâ€™s hearing erupted in a vigorous bout of â€œjazz handsâ€? â€” raising their hands and wiggling them rapidly â€” in approval, following the announcement, because clapping is not allowed in the City Council chambers. The cityâ€™s Department of Consumer Affairs currently enforces the cabaret law, but the Police Department will be in charge of ensuring nightlife haunts are up to code under the new legislation. Espinal worried this change would give cops free rein to target clubs and bars since they can use surveillancecamera checks as a way to gain entry. But Greene claimed police would only investigate businesses when there is reason for concern. TheVillager.com
Dance advocates spoke following Greeneâ€™s testimony, including one woman with plenty of experience getting down, who suggested the â€œdance policeâ€? might lighten up if they tried cutting a rug themselves. â€œMaybe theyâ€™ll feel a little better if they start swinging and swaying themselves,â€? said Mercedes Ellington, the granddaughter of jazz legend Duke Ellington and the first black dancer in the revered June Taylor Dancers troupe. De Blasio, despite his gangly 6-foot-5 frame, is somewhat of a dance pioneer himself, most famously creating â€œThe Smackdownâ€? in 2013, choreography in which Hizzoner licks his hand and bangs it on the ground. But before the mayor can make busting the move legal for all, Espinal needs to amend the bill and then the City Council has to vote on it, which is expected to happen in December. However, not everyone is excited about the overall rule change to basically allow dancing everywhere. Advocates and lawyers for big nightlife operators have always maintained that restricting cabaret permits to certain zones â€” such as manufacturing, or â€œM,â€? zones â€” helps ensure that residents are not disturbed by the commotion. Putting clubs next to residential areas is a recipe for conflict, and, in the end, the nightlife venues will be forced to close, they say. As one member of the Villageâ€™s Community Board 2 â€” an extremely nightlife-heavy district â€” recently put it, if the cabaret law is abolished, â€œThere will be noise everywhere.â€?
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September 21, 2017
Ode to Cher: Gardeners weep over willow’s loss BY SAR AH FERGUSON
ast Friday, a team of workers from the Parks Department came with a crane and chipper to take down Cher, the towering willow that has shaded the corner of E. Ninth St. and Avenue C for more than 40 years. By midafternoon, the tree was down and in its place was left a patch of shorn earth, along with a great void in the sky. With her billowing branches dancing in the wind, Cher became an icon of Loisaida — a breathing symbol of resiliency in the face of hurricanes, riots, and so much tumult in Alphabet City. She was a defining presence at La Plaza Cultural, the community garden where she was planted in 1976 by local activists seeking to reclaim the block from ruin. Her demise was painful to take in. Even though they’d been warned for weeks that the tree was coming down, gardeners and neighbors stood by and gawked as the workers hacked into Cher’s limbs and trunk with great rips of their chainsaws. “It’s unanimous that we regret this decision,” La Plaza board member Pedro Diez opined. “Nobody was happy about it. Emotionally, everybody loved the tree. But it was not up to us,” Diez added. No less than three tree experts had ruled that the extensive rot at the base of Cher’s trunk made her too dangerous to
PHOTO BY SARAH FERGUSON
Workers sawing away the last remnants of Cher last week.
Join Us For
PHOTO BY MARK HOFFMAN
For decades, Cher, at right, was a cherished willow tree in La Plaza Cultural, at E. Ninth St. and Avenue C.
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All people and their four-legged friends are Welcome! There will be a service in the church and a recepon aer on the playground for people + pets The Church of Saint Luke in the Fields www.stlukeinthefields.org|212.924.0562 6
September 21, 2017
leave standing. “Willow trees propagate by falling,” Diez explained. A branch falls off, floats downstream and roots itself, becoming a new tree. In the wild, that’s fine, but it’s not a great attribute for dense urban spaces. “We didn’t want to take the risk of it falling down on some gardener or passerby,” Diez said of Cher. “It was already leaning over the fence. With hurricane season coming, it could have easily killed somebody on the sidewalk.” According to Diez, the final call was made by a tree specialist at the Parks Department’s Forestry Division who came to inspect Cher on June 30 and found her core rotted halfway through. Parks has also determined that the gar-
den’s other willow, nicknamed “Krusty,” is in bad shape and must come down, too — though there has been no date set for Krusty’s removal. Sadly, Krusty has been “penetrated by a deep, wood-decaying ‘chicken of the woods’ fungus,” according to a recent La Plaza newsletter. Willows have a knack for regenerating. Both Cher and Krusty took big hits during Hurricanes Sandy and Irene yet rebounded, re-sprouting their abundant manes of leaves. But after these last tree demolitions, La Plaza members say they won’t be recultivating any more willows. “The plan is to replace them with a different tree,” Diez said. “We’re still taking suggestions from the community.” TheVillager.com
TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell
phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.
Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-
haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.
Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and
chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at
a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.
Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.
September 21, 2017
Marte concedes race but claims victory in defeat CONCEDE continued from p. 1
As of press time, the Democratic primary election results still had not been certified. Marte said they had hoped for that to happen Tuesday, but with the start of Rosh Hashanah looming Wednesday evening, the certification was slightly delayed. He said he’s hoping it will now happen as soon as Thursday. “No certification yet,” Marte reported. “According to our hand tally based off the counting of the affidavit and absentee ballots, Margaret ended up being 207 votes ahead. Absentee ballots trended toward Margaret because of the senior centers, but affidavit ballots trended toward me because of the lastminute poll site changes for my home electoral districts, and the E.D.’s where I was expected to do well.” According to Marte, many supporters of the Elizabeth St. Garden in and around Little Italy had their poll site changed from Allen St. to E. Fifth St., while residents of the Smith Houses had their usual poll site — one of the largest in the district — divided at the last minute into two different sites, “causing a lot of confusion,” as he put it. Affidavit ballots are used when a voter shows up at a poll site but his or her name is not on the list of registered Democrats for that district. Also, Marte cautiously said that,
“through a sort of fluke,” he might possibly have secured the Independence Party line for the general election. Basically, it turned out that six registered Independence Party voters penciled in Marte’s name as a write-in candidate on primary day, which may have been enough to win him the line. But he said that primary election, too, also still needs to be certified and that he had not been in touch with Independence Party officials about the situation. In short, Marte said he still wants to “see if it’s a viable option” to run on the Independence line on Nov. 7. On Tuesday, the candidates were down at the Board of Elections office to observe the counting of 300-plus valid affidavit and 250 absentee ballots. “Chin had her lawyer, her campaign manager Paul Leonard, two consultants and Jamie Rogers, the chairperson of Community Board 3, as well as District Leader Jenny Low and others, were sitting in the back row, I’m guessing to show their support,” Marte said. “Our lawyer told us there was no reason to bring anyone extraneous, so I went there with my lawyer, a friend who has experience in recounts, and my campaign manager.” Even after the counting of the more than 550 ballots, the overall numbers didn’t change that much. “Margaret did hold her margin,” Marte conceded. “We counted [a dif-
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September 21, 2017
Margaret Chin campaigning in Tribeca the Friday before the primar y election. Christopher Mar te, her main challenger, was campaigning right nearby her.
Christopher Mar te outside Washington Market Park on Fri., Sept. 8. After more than 500 absentee and afidavit ballots were counted, Mar te was set to concede victor y to Chin this week.
ference of] 207 [votes]. They counted 220. She prevailed. It’s sad for all of us,” he told The Villager. “We worked really hard and we did everything we could. We had a really good showing.” Though he had not officially conceded as of press time, wanting to await the election’s certification, he clearly indicated that he planned to do so. Marte said the margin of difference would have to have been lower — 0.5 percent — in order to go to court and demand a recount. Plus, he added, “We don’t have solid evidence of irregularities.” While the poll-site changes were inconvenient and confusing, they were not illegal, he said. Later that evening, Marte spoke at the full-board meeting of Community Board 2 and received an ovation, as he thanked everyone who supported his upstart campaign that shockingly nearly toppled a two-term incumbent. Marte proudly said his candidacy resonated with voters in Greenwich Village, Soho and the South Village “who had their platforms heard” through his campaign. On the other hand, voters in those areas were frustrated by “just the unresponsiveness of [Chin’s] office,” he said. He also had strong support at the polls in the Two Bridges area — between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges — where a coming explosion of “supertall” towers, adding to one that has already been built, threatens to radically transform the area. Marte also ran strongly in northern Tribeca and in the area around his home on
Rivington St. between the Bowery and Allen St. and up to Houston St. Meanwhile, Chin did best in her core support base of Chinatown and Confucius Plaza. Even in many electoral districts Chin won, though, she only bested Marte by one vote, he noted. For his part, Foldenauer last week said he is definitely running again in the general election — in his case, on the Liberal Party line. “Voter turnout was abysmal in the Democratic Primary, and only 5 percent of all registered voters cast their ballot for Margaret Chin,” Foldenauer said Wednesday. “As the Liberal Party candidate, I look forward to reaching out to all 97,000 registered voters in Lower Manhattan and working to defeat Margaret Chin on Nov. 7.” Both he and Imperiale have defiantly rejected being branded as spoilers in last week’s Democratic primary. Marte thanked The Villager for hosting a debate among the primary-election candidates a few weeks ago at Judson Church. Though Chin ducked the event, Marte said, “it was the toughest debate” of the election season, and was a good way for the candidates to get their messages out to the community. After the debate, one Soho activist, a Marte supporter, remarked that he was very worried at the presence of Foldenauer and Imperiale in the race. “Chin always gets her 6,000 votes,” he said, worrying that the other three would divide up the rest. The two alsorans ultimately did rack up more than 1,100 votes between the two of them.
PHOTOS BY MILO HESS
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September 21, 2017
Neighbors remember Ed Enderlin, 62, ‘Mayor
OBITUARY BY JONATHAN SL AFF
n Sept. 7 there was an afternoon memorial for Edward R. Enderlin, the garrulous man known as “The Mayor of Perry Street.” A compact and warm collection of his friends, supporters and social service workers gathered at The Lee, supportive housing at 133 Pitt St., to share stories and savor the mysteries surrounding this gaunt, red-bearded, ponytailed raconteur. He had lived roughly since the 1990s at and around the corner of Perry and W. Fourth Sts., guarding the neighborhood, panhandling and delighting everybody with his storytelling, which was mostly autobiographical. In recent years, he suffered with heart and pulmonary conditions. He died June 17, five days shy of his 63rd birthday, in his room at The Lee, where he had resided for five years. “Eddie” was a familiar sight if you lived in the neighborhood of Perry and W. Fourth, or if you frequented past or present businesses there, including Sam’s Deli, Sant Ambroeus, A.P.C. or Avalon Hair Salon (which formerly occupied the storefront that’s now Hotoveli, a fashionable clothier). It’s likely that he knew you, too, since he seemed to know everybody by name. If you had time for him to chat you up, as he did in recent years while perched on a motorized wheelchair, you would hear about his friendships with local celebrities and business moguls (all true), his modeling career (mostly true) and his Vietnam War stories (hard to verify). Then he would relieve you of a few bucks for medicine, food or singleroom-occupancy housing (before he lived in The Lee). If you were like me, you had a feeling you were his donor of last resort. Probably at least 75 of us felt the same way. Eddie had a way of making you feel special. That Eddie survived on the streets so long was a miracle, as was the support he received for so long from the everchanging community of the West Village, which now seems to be losing its heart as it gentrifies. Eddie was a crank, but he was our crank. And I am sure that our charity toward him was partly a product of our self-definition as an accepting community. He appeared in the community about 26 years ago and supported himself first by odd jobs — short-lived ones — then by reselling salvaged electronics, home furnishings and books that were discarded by the neighborhood’s wealthier residents. I remember buying three cordless phones from him at different
September 21, 2017
Ed Enderlin sipping an iced coffee in the West Village in 2012.
times. And a bike lock. Ali Eshtelle, who works evenings at Sam’s Deli — and therefore saw Ed every day — remembers buying three inkjet printers from him. As the neighborhood gentrified and the secondhand appliance trade waned, Eddie took to panhandling. In fair and not-so-fair weather, he slept outside on the doorsteps. In blizzards and miserably cold nights, he often resorted to an S.R.O. room at the White House Inn on Bowery. But his favored resting place was the entryway of the storefront at 271 W. Fourth St. A succession of nearby business owners tolerated him and offered various kinds of support. He maintained a selfappointed “neighborhood watch.” He also kept the block clean and tattled to neighborhood parents on the late-night adventures of their kids. (“Matt and his friends were skateboarding too close to Seventh Ave. last night.”) And he defended his turf against incursions by other homeless people. The principal speaker at Ed’s memorial was his biographer-in-progress, Paul Critchlow, a former resident of
Perry St. — now relocated to W. 12th St. — who was a Vietnam vet and found affinity with Ed, veteran-to-veteran. Critchlow was drafted in 1968 and served in Vietnam in the artillery and infantry as a forward observer during the bloody battle of Hiep Duc Valley. He was wounded by an RPG round and ultimately sent home with scars all over to show for it. Eddie, for his part, falsified his age in order to enlist in the Marines. This part of his life story is true. He told everybody who would listen that he had been imprisoned and crucified by the Viet Cong, and he showed you scars on the front and back of both hands to convince you. That part of his service record is difficult to corroborate. Critchlow initially met Eddie outside Sam’s Deli and was won over by the homeless man’s intelligence, honesty and engaging stories. Formerly a politics writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, a spokesperson for a Pennsylvania governor (Richard Thornburgh) and a communications executive for Merrill Lynch & Co., Critchlow knew a good story when he saw one. So he offered to
write a book with Eddie on their respective lives. They formed a pact. The book, unfinished at this time, has attracted interest from a prospective literary agent and a prestigious media columnist. With his journalistic background, Critchlow knew how to fact-check and he sleuthed out Eddie’s estranged family and most of his personal history. He even located Eddie’s birth certificate and advocated for him to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. At the Memorial, Critchlow related, “I found the mother of his children, his two children and siblings and spoke to some of them. Sadly, he was estranged from them. The main theme — which he freely admitted — was that Ed didn’t like to be fenced in by anything. He disliked responsibility, hated authority and couldn’t tolerate being told where to be, and when.” Since Eddie had no permanent residence, his benefits checks and government correspondence had to be mailed to him care of Paul Critchlow’s Perry St. address. As Eddie fell into declining health and street life became less viable, Critchlow helped him connect with social-service organizations that provided casework and housing for the homeless, including Breaking Ground (formerly Common Ground) and Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS). Ed was deemed eligible for housing assistance and initially moved into an S.R.O. complex in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which he hated because it was far from the West Village. Subsequently, he lived at The Lee, near E. Houston St. and Avenue C, which was more conveniently commutable by bus. Critchlow reflected, “Most of the time, he was extremely likable. No one could tell a story with the detail and animation that he could. Each chapter of his life, as he told it, was filled with amazing experiences — from growing up in an abusive household, to dropping out of school, to roaming around the South, getting involved with low-level mafia figures, spending time in juvenile prison for a failed robbery attempt with a toy gun, lying about his age to sign up for the Marines, fighting abroad, marrying, divorcing, having children, getting rich during the oil boom in Texas, going bankrupt, becoming a male model, and so on.” One of the most memorable images on display at Eddie’s memorial was a snazzy photo of him — handsome, young, muscular and tattooed — illustrating an article about aperitifs that ran in Philadelphia magazine in the late ’70’s. His older, gnome-like visage appears in Humans of New York, the photoblog and book that features street portraits and interviews collected on the streets of New York City. N.Y.U. filmmakers often interviewed him or cast him in their projects, and a well-known photographer included EdENDERLIN continued on p. 9 TheVillager.com
of Perry Street’; Vietnam vet was local ﬁxture ENDERLIN continued from p. 8
die’s portrait in “Old Masters,” a series for the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Critchlow and his wife, the novelist Patricia McCormick — whose books include socially conscious young-adult novels and a 2013 biography of Pakistani female-education activist Malala Yousafzai — frequently gave modest amounts of money to Ed. This was fine until the day Ed panhandled one of their young sons. Patricia came to the corner, crooked her finger at him and icily admonished him never to ask her kids for money. After that, Ed did a terrific imitation of her warning and said he feared Patricia more than anyone else on the block. One frigid November night, “Patty” sent Paul out to find Ed and make sure he had money for a hotel. Ed later said no one had ever done anything like that for him before and he was truly touched to learn it was Patty’s idea. Unlike other panhandlers, whose times in the neighborhood became short, Ed had the good sense to never solicit patrons of the Sant Ambroeus sidewalk cafe. He knew how to stay in everybody’s good graces. His approach was more personal. He had standing appointments once a month with major donors, including heiresses and hedgefund employees, who gave him hundreds of dollars. Low-wage workers, like neighborhood hairdressers, were known to hand him $25 per week. Ed was a difficult person, irascible at times, with outbursts that reflected the anger of the unfortunate. Staff members of who attended the memorial related how Ed would vent his temper on them, then later call them to apologize. Ed was quirky, willful and unique, but he was not nuts. It was clear to everyone who knew him in the West Village that he was not a victim of alcohol or drugs, but that he had formidable demons in his own personality. He lived honestly — by a strict code of conduct, even if it was his own. He viewed himself as a contributing member of the neighborhood, and in many ways he was. Officers of the Sixth Precinct accommodated him, partly because he was harmless, partly because respected residents of the neighborhood vouched for him, and partly because he served as the cops’ “eyes and ears” when shady people entered the neighborhood. Nevertheless, living rough took its toll: frostbitten toes in winters, a broken hip in a bike-truck collision, fights and various illnesses. On freezing nights, neighborhood members would often spring for a cab to get Ed home. Frequently, Ali Eshtelle drove him home at midnight after Sam’s Deli closed. Ed promised to reciprocate when the movie rights to his book came in: He’d drive Ali around in his limo. He was picked up by an ambulance TheVillager.com
from Sam’s Deli twice in the past year. Last February, suffering heart fibrillations, Ed checked himself into Lenox Hill Hospital, where he made sure Paul Critchlow knew what to do with his share of the book proceeds. “I want half of it to go equally to each of my kids,” he said. “And I want the rest to go to veterans in need.” Edward R. Enderlin was born in Cuero, Texas, the eldest of five children, but raised on the Jersey Shore. His father died when Ed was 14, and this is when he began spinning off the rails. His mother, now deceased, was psychologically and physically abusive, as he told many people. Ed didn’t finish high school. Estranged from his family, he lived a few years with his paternal grandparents. He couldn’t stay focused in school and always had issues with authority. He lived in Long Island and New Jersey, married, divorced and fathered two children. He landed in our neighborhood by chance from Miami, where he said bad people were after him after a failed drug deal. He helped some guys move furniture to New York and they left him off in Tompkins Square. From there he wandered into the West Village. He took a room on Perry St., which he was able to finance for about six months by doing odd jobs, like painting and hauling. Although he eventually lost the room, he had taken to the quiet streets and tolerant people of the neighborhood and made it his permanent home. Most residents sensed his love for the area, although some were dismissive. He seemed good-natured and there was consistency in his stories. He was wellread, quoting Shakespeare and various philosophers, and knowledgeable about many movies and pop culture, which he attributed to lots of TV watching. And he was a great mimic. Many of Ed’s friends and supporters remain in the neighborhood, but some predeceased him and others have moved Uptown. At the memorial, a sprinkling of them shared personal remembrances with varying degrees of openness. Present were an equal number of social-service workers who had known and worked with him. Reverend Callie Janoff, who presided at the memorial — and who had not met Ed — closed the gathering with a blessing drawn from an old Irish toast that was especially apropos: May you have food and raiment, A soft pillow for your head, May you be forty years in heaven Before the devil knows you’re dead. Jonathan Slaff has lived at Perry and W. Fourth Sts. since 1974. He is an actor, theater publicist and public member of the Community Board 2 Arts and Institution Committee.
PHOTO BY HARVEY HAUSWIRTH
Ed Enderlin in younger days modeling in ad for aperitifs that ran in Philadelphia magazine.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR The Times didn’t get it
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To The Editor: “Pier55 is sunk” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Sept. 14): This is an important story that The New York Times did not understand. That “the community” wanted it is the biggest lie. No one who actually lives near Pier55 was in favor of a project that would have jutted into the Hudson River and exposed us to thousands, possibly millions, of new tourists for an amphitheater blasting live music into the night. De Blasio’s support for the project was awful. Susan Brownmiller
Good riddance, Diller Island!
Your Community News Source
To The Editor: “Pier55 is sunk” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Sept. 14): Many of us in the West Village neighborhood are saying “yay” to the loss of this Pier55.We also say “yay” to the wisdom of the environmental laws that stopped this “creation” of a theater in the water. Also the planning for this thing took place very much in secret, not as a public process. Madelyn Wils comment that this Diller Island was a project “the community so resoundingly wanted” is wrong and laughable. Elaine Young
Public funding for parks
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We cover “The Cube”!
To The Editor: “Pier55 is sunk” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Sept. 14): Despite the bleating and sorrow emanating from some elected officials and The New York Times, the West Village has dodged a real bullet with the cancellation of the private island at the end of W. 14th St. The New York Times bleats that the “park’s future is uncertain.” There may be no gifts given to parks in the future, the paper opines. Let’s take a look at the Hudson River Park and the Hudson River Park Trust. It was established as a park, yes, but its financing was made contingent on commercial development in and around the park! Naturally, this leads to all sorts of mischief as real estate developers and property promoters try
to cut off a piece of the West Side waterfront to make a large profit. This includes Mr. Diller and his associates. The money he gave is not a gift. It is payment for his setting up his private island with his own music center. Please. The answer to this is clear. All parks should receive regular and proper annual appropriations from the city and state to continue in operation and maintain the property. This should be the case here. Both politicians and the media should stop the narrative that a huge prize was lost. It was simply a bump in the road to the privatization of the West Side, as we see in Pier 57. George Bush did this kind of thing a lot. The idea that public parks should be centers of commerce and privatization makes this city truly unusual in this country and, even more, the whole world. Let’s provide regular appropriations to the Hudson River Park and the other parks from either the city or state budgets. Le’s stop the drama. And let’s get the advertising and media companies out of the parks. John Wetherhold
Chin vs. ‘Soho Rich Moms’ To The Editor: Re “Rivera romps; Chin up by 200 votes; Marte not conceding; Grand St. district leader upset” (news article, Sept. 14): I supported Margaret Chin because she did not back down when the Rich Moms of Soho squatted on public land designated by the city to be the site of senior housing on Elizabeth St. I believe The RMoS got away with their illegal occupation of public land because of their class and skin privilege. I am certain if the black, brown and yellow public-housing moms who also lived nearby had squatted on public land, they would have been removed and arrested. Reality check: Chin, the chairperson of the City Council’s Committee on Aging, had extracted a designation for low-cost senior housing on this public land, some have said, as one part of her deal to support the New York University expansion plan, which then-City Council Speaker Christine Quinn had strongly twisted her arm to support. Chin’s district concerns are not just for the Tribeca and Soho wealthy but also for the first- and second-generation LETTERS continued on p. 21
Look for it in the “Conspiracy Theories” and “Fantasy” sections. 12
September 21, 2017
Columbus, Confederates and the urge to destroy GLOBAL VILLAGE BY BILL WEINBERG
ew York has been drawn into the national culture war with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s appointment of a commission to review “symbols of hate” in the city. The towering statue of Christopher Columbus above the circle named for him is fingered as a possibility to go — eliciting inevitable outrage. Downtown Italian-American spokesman John Fratta stated wryly to The Villager: “In 1920, the Ku Klux Klan fought against Columbus Day. Now, in 2017, it’s the politicians.” Downtown could also be affected — for instance, Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village. General Philip Sheridan was a hero of the Union side in the Civil War. But his later campaigns against the Plains Indians saw what would today be considered acts of genocide — most famously, the Washita River massacre of 1868, in which his troops set upon a sleeping Cheyenne winter encampment, killing some hundred, including many women and children. (The commander on the scene was the notorious Colonel George Custer.) The statue of George Washington in Union Square has also been named. This, of course, is all a response to the removal of Confederate monuments in the South, and the backlash seen in the deadly violence at Charlottesville. Trump provocatively asked if demands to remove statues of slave-owner Washington would be next. Are those now raising such demands playing into Trump’s hands? The emerging consensus to remove Confederate monuments is on firm ground, morally and tactically. Such a consensus regarding Washington and Columbus may yet arrive. But there are reasons the consensus is now arriving regarding the Confederate monuments. Those were explicitly raised as symbols of white supremacy, and to humiliate blacks. They started going up in the 1920s, heyday of the Ku Klux Klan. Despite maudlin glorification of the “Lost Cause,” they were triumphalist markers of the Jim Crow order. The Columbus statues were raised as symbols of Italian pride, and — as Fratta correctly notes — were opposed by the Klan, which then still hated Catholics. The Columbus monuments constituted markers of Italians in America becoming (at least) honorary “whites.” Of course the Klan was the last to recognize this social ascendance. Columbus is inevitably a symbol of colonialism, but his statue was not raised as a symbol of “hate” — not as a TheVillager.com
NYC PARKS AND RECREATION
A crowd gathered around the George Washington Monument in Union Square for the first Ear th Day, on April 22, 1970. The statue, by Henr y Kirke Brown, was dedicated July 4, 1856.
conscious denigration of Native Americans, the way General Robert E. Lee was raised as a conscious denigration of African Americans.
Toppling statues doesn’t change the social order.
The same distinction applies to Washington, the slave owner and Indian killer who looks down on Union Square.
Few New Yorkers know that Sullivan St. in Greenwich Village is named for General John Sullivan, who was dispatched by George Washington in 1779 to decimate the Iroquois Confederacy of Upstate New York. The Iroquois were officially neutral in the Revolution. But a few bands of one of the confederacy’s six constituent nations, the Mohawk, took up arms against the Continental Army —because the British had ordered a halt to settler colonization west of the Appalachians, a little-recognized root cause of the Revolution. For this, Sullivan was ordered to attack all six Iroquois nations, burning their villages, destroying their crops, sending thousands fleeing west. They finally reached British-held Fort Niagara, where many died during the harsh winter that followed. This was the bloodiest of several campaigns of ethnic cleansing on the western frontier — a near-forgotten legacy of George Washington — that were a
sideshow to the American War of Independence. That an aristocrat with this ugly legacy is the pre-eminent symbol of national unity reveals much about our culture. But Washington’s image was not raised as a conscious symbol of white supremacy, as were those of Lee. (It should be noted that more than one of Lee’s descendants, including his greatgrandson, are calling for his statues to come down, recalling that the Confederate general himself opposed the erecting of such monuments after the war as corrosive to restored national unity.) Symbols can mean different things in different contexts. People who see Columbus only as a symbol of colonialism should grasp that Italians were once an excluded minority in the U.S., and the erecting of these statues was a signifier of their social integration. But Italians should get that the context has changed, and that excluded peoples today see removing these very same statues as signifiers of their own dignity. I’m half Italian, and my personal icon of Italian-American heritage is New York’s own Carlo Tresca, the anarchist and anti-fascist leader who was killed on 15th St. in 1943 on probable orders of Mussolini. But isn’t it inherently absurd to raise a statue of an anarchist? The urge to purge relics of an oppressive past was taken to pathological extremes in China’s Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, when Buddhist temples were looted and sacked. But after Mao’s death, statues of the dictator who had unleashed the Cultural Revolution started coming down. Few today would argue this was a bad thing. The destruction of Stalin statues in Eastern Europe during the revolutions of 1989 is today openly celebrated. And after the Declaration of Independence was signed in July 1776, the statue of King George III at Manhattan’s Bowling Green was toppled — by troops under the command of Washington, who was then quartered in New York. So, there’s an irony to wanting to preserve statues of men who tore down statues. But a final word of caution. Taking down statues alone doesn’t change anything in the social order. We could be placated with such cosmetic changes while the reign of police terror against African Americans continues, the Dakota Access Pipeline goes ahead, and all the systemic oppression that is actually represented by those statues remains thoroughly in place. And there’s a paradoxical risk that once the statues come down, memory of the reasons they were brought down will be forgotten along with them. The discussion the question has stirred is a politically necessary one — and it shouldn’t end with the fall of the monuments. September 21, 2017
Ratcheting up the war on rats: A team effort TALKING POINTS BY CARLINA RIVER A
ats are spreading faster in New York City than the “pizza rat” that spread across social media in 2015. And while we New Yorkers may begrudgingly accept these unwelcome neighbors as part of life in the city, the rat population isn’t something we should just dismiss out of hand. In fact, the city’s Health Department was forced to step in and implement more serious measures for reducing the rat population earlier this year, after one person died and two others became severely ill in the Bronx from a rare disease transmitted by rats. As a candidate for City Council District 2, I commit, if elected, to securing the resources necessary to cut the massive rat population in our district – particularly around Tompkins Square Park and the East Village – and restore public health benefits, especially for our low-income residents, who for too long have gone ignored in our homes and in our district. In fact, I worked on a long-delayed piece of legislation, Intro 385, which
PHOTO BY BOB ARIHOOD
A classic shot of a Tompkins Square Park rat by the late Bob Arihood taken during the height of the summer of “Ratstravaganza.”
would finally codify pest abatement in our homes in a meaningful and impactful way. I will also work with the city’s Parks Department and the Department of Sanitation to implement rules that lead to cleaner and safer streets and homes for all residents, regardless if you live in Gramercy or the Baruch Houses on the Lower East Side. In addition, we must implement better litter behavior and garbage disposal
throughout our neighborhoods. I realize some of these practices are left to the discretion of many landlords when it comes to residential trash, and I will do what I can to implement practical changes and enforce sensible sanitation practices. As councilwoman, there is only so much that I can do in City Hall to improve our communities. I need residents of Council District 2 to do their part, as well. That means we must stop feeding pigeons and squirrels in our public parks, where many rats reside and live off of our leftover scraps, and commit to a public landscape that keeps in mind the flora and fauna of our local ecosystem. We must make these changes because the rodent problem doesn’t stop at our front door. When it comes to the terrible effects rats and other pests are having on those living in inadequately protected housing, I can speak from experience. At Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), I worked as an advocate for all District 2 residents trying to maintain standard and acceptable living conditions, and found that very often pests and rats, and intentional neglect of proper pest abatement, were just some of the tools used to force longtime residents out of their homes. Even to this day, I still meet many residents who are forced to deal night in and night out with the sound of rats
in their walls and beneath their apartments’ floorboards. These unhealthy conditions, significantly worse in public housing and near our parks, can cause New Yorkers to feel like they are living in two different worlds just blocks or buildings apart. But we live in the 21st century, in the greatest city on the planet, and there is no reason why any person should have to accept conditions like these. And we won’t. Through advocacy, we recently earned a new, targeted $32 million ratreduction investment from the Mayor’s Office for our communities, and though overdue, it is a step in the right direction. When I am elected, I will use progressive principles to help close the gap in these disparities and do more to tackle this public-health issue. Through changes like this and fair allocation of resources, we start to achieve equity. No child should suffer because of conditions at home, and all residents will contribute more if they feel good about where they live. Rivera is the Democratic candidate for City Council District 2 (East Village, Gramercy Park, Kips Bay, Flatiron, Lower East Side, Murray Hill and Rose Hill) in the Nov. 7 general election. You can find her on Twitter @CarlinaRivera and at carlinarivera.nyc.
Unions’ role in preserving middle class DEBOR AH J. GLICK
s inequality has grown in the United States, in large part due to wage stagnation, Americans have identified many culprits, most recently focusing their anger on globalization and the loss of jobs to other countries. The focus on globalization has caused many to ignore an important contributor to the dissipation of the middle class and the loss of good jobs across all sectors: the undermining of and consistent attacks on unions. Union membership has dropped precipitously in recent decades, from nearly one in three workers in the 1970s to one in 10 today. This drop is in part due to the loss of jobs in traditionally unionized sectors like manufacturing, but also to the persistent corporate and political attacks on unions, resulting in union-busting tactics, like the proliferation of right-to-work laws in more than 28 states. Research shows that this loss in union membership has negatively affected the wages and conditions for unionized and nonunionized workers alike. When union membership was high, the conditions and wages for unionized work-
September 21, 2017
ers created a floor for all workers, forcing nonunionized sectors to raise wages to remain competitive and stave off organizing drives. Unions helped end child labor; fought for safe working conditions; established the 40-hour workweek and provided time for workers to spend with their loved ones; made employer-based healthcare widespread; and spearheaded the fight for the Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides job protections when workers need to take time off to care for children, family members or themselves. A recent Economic Policy Institute report found that the loss of union density and unions’ influence on working conditions has resulted in wage losses across all sectors, with the authors estimating that nonunionized workers’ wages would be as much as 5 percent to 8 percent higher had union density remained what it was at its peak. The loss in union membership and sustained attacks on those unions that remain come at a time when the American workforce is undergoing a fundamental shift due to automation. Jobs that were once filled by people and provided good incomes are increasingly being taken over by machines. We have yet to fully under-
stand what this change will mean for our economy and for workers, but it is clear that it will be immense. For example, despite constant warnings about the decline in American manufacturing, the U.S.’s manufacturing output has actually reached record highs in recent years as innovation has created new opportunities. However, this increase in productivity has occurred as the industry has shed 5 million jobs, of which as many as 88 percent are estimated to have been lost to automation. While manufacturing has been hardest hit, there are predictions that automation threatens up to half of all retail jobs over the next 10 years, and will eventually contribute to significant job loss in industries ranging from trucking to medicine and even journalism. Few corporations show signs of stepping up to increase workers’ wages or offer other protections as workers’ jobs come increasingly under threat. If anything, we’ve seen many corporations use the threat of automation to decrease pay and benefits, in an effort to stay “competitive,” all while abandoning their obligations to their employees and increasing C.E.O. pay and shareholder profit. At the same time, unions continue to be demonized by many policymakers, even as the new administra-
VILLAGER FILE PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
In April 2016, striking Verizon landline and cable workers rallied in Washington Square Park and showed their suppor t for Bernie Sanders for president.
tion in D.C. works to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and what is left of our social safety net. It is not clear how we will cope with the economic changes to come. What is clear is that where corporations and government leave workers unprotected, workers will need to organize and fight for themselves. To stop the erosion of the middle class, we need unions more than ever — for their workers and for all of us. Glick is assemblymember, 66th District (Greenwich Village, Soho, Noho and Tribeca) TheVillager.com
We can still ﬂy A refusal to grow up clashes with the march of time BY DAVID KENNERLEY More often than not, theatrical meditations on mortality tend to be dismal affairs. But red-hot playwright Sarah Ruhl, who has earned plaudits for plays such as “Stage Kiss” and “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” has solved the problem in her latest effort by expertly grafting on elements of the beloved children’s story “Peter Pan,” injecting a fantastic dose of whimsy while embracing the tale’s dark undercurrents. “For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday,” now at Playwrights Horizons, is set in Davenport, Iowa, in the 1990s and in timeless Neverland. The first part features a protracted, tense scene in a hospital room, where an elderly father lies on his deathbed, attached to a web of monitors and drips, surrounded by his five doting offspring. The siblings have put their lives on hold to stand vigil by their dying father (Ron Crawford). Ann, portrayed by the legendary, luminous Kathleen Chalfant, may be the oldest chronologically — she’s pushing 70 — but not emotionally. Her fondest memory is playing the role of Peter Pan as a teenager, and she still identifies with the boy, sharing not only his love of flying but also his refusal to grow up. John (Daniel Jenkins) is a college professor, while Jim (David Chandler) and Michael (Keith Reddin) are doctors who have followed in footsteps of their father, a local pediatrician back in the day. The youngest, Wendy (Lisa Emery), the apple of her father’s eye, appears particularly distraught over the dire circumstances. “Peter Pan” aficionados will notice that these names match those of key characters in the book. The achingly poignant drama finds poetry in the peculiar dynamic of a family reunion, studded with reminiscences of key childhood moments anyone can relate to. Occasionally, each of the old man’s children reverts to their role when growing up, stirring old rivalries and recriminations. Under the resourceful direction of Les Waters, the characters are richly drawn and expertly portrayed. Ann is based on Ruhl’s mother, who actually TheVillager.com
Photo by Joan Marcus
Kathleen Chalfant and Ron Crawford in Sarah Ruhl’s “For Peter Pan on her 70th birthday,” directed by Les Waters, at Playwrights Horizons through Oct. 1.
played Peter Pan in her youth, and some of the dialogue is lifted from interviews with her extended family. The lead role is tailor-made for Chalfant, whose mischievous grin and sprightly demeanor conjures Peter Pan even before she dons the famous green tights, tunic, and feathered cap. Arguing is a family sport. The siblings spar about politics, religion, afterlife, and euthanasia. By liberally upping the dose of their dad’s morphine, is it murder or simply palliative care? “It’s about staying ahead of the pain,” says Jim defensively. Ann recalls an earlier trauma putting down the ailing family dog. The pooch, played by Macy, who starred in the recent touring production of “Annie,” makes several heart-
warming, ghostly appearances and hits all of her marks. After their father finally takes his last breath, the siblings breathe a sigh of relief. The second part finds the family at a large dining table at the family homestead, holding an Irish wake — drinking Jameson’s whiskey, cracking jokes, and trying find solace in their shared experience. “I pride myself somehow on not growing up,” Ann says, equating that with being “programmed” and “ossified.” Michael’s mantra used to be “immortality through immaturity.” In the final part — a metatheatrical fantasia set in their childhood bedroom and a warped version of Neverland — the siblings play roles in an otherworldly
production of “Peter Pan.” Tinker Bell is there and so is Captain James Hook, embodied with dastardly panache by Chandler. They discover the Lost Boys and the Jolly Roger. And yes, there is an abundant amount of jubilant flying involved. To this tenderly affecting drama’s credit, the cables miraculously disappear in our imaginations, and we are convinced the fairy dust is real. Runtime: 90 minutes, no intermission. Through Oct. 1 at Playwrights Horizons (416 W. 42nd St., btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.). Tues.–Sat. at 7:30pm; Sun. at 7pm; Sat.–Sun. at 2pm. For tickets ($59-$99), visit ticketcentral. com or 212-279-4900. Artist info at visit playwrightshorizons.org. September 21, 2017
Ground Zero Museum Workshop offers intimate glimpses of 9/11
Photo by Gary Marlon Suson
“FDNY Honor Guard for Fallen Brother” (March, 2002) is one of many photos by Gary Marlon Suson at the Ground Zero Museum Workshop.
BY LEVAR ALONZO A museum founded, and often funded, by a photographer who spent seven months at Ground Zero is facing a challenge far greater than the struggle to keep its doors open. “It’s surprising to realize that it has been 16 years since the 9/11 catastrophe, and more and more people I meet forget what really happened surrounding America’s worst terrorist attack in US history,” said Ground Zero Museum Workshop curator Gary Marlon Suson, shortly before the Sept. 7 unveiling of a new sculpture and companion documentary timed for the 12th anniversary of the interactive museum dedicated to education and reflection. Suson, an FDNY Honorary Battalion Chief, was the official photographer at Ground Zero for the Uniformed Firefi ghters Association — one of only two photographers (and the only one with full access) allowed at the site past the fi rst few weeks, when then-mayor Rudy Giuliani closed it to press out of respect for the families of those whose bodies were still being pulled from the site. Suson’s capture of the North Tower in mid-collapse was shot on the rooftop of the museum he later founded (located on W. 14th St. in the Meatpacking District). Unlike the considerable distance from which that shot was taken, Suson’s work at Ground Zero consisted largely of close-ups, to emphasize the intimate nature of recovery efforts. “I focused more on people, and the emotions of Ground Zero,” Suson noted of the many “private moments, like the honor guards.”
In addition to over 100 of Suson’s photos, the 1,000-square-foot second floor space that houses the museum also displays dozens of images and artifacts of love, death, and sacrifice — including window glass, a ticket stub of the last PATH train to arrive at World Trade Center, and white lobby marble from the towers. The museum pales in comparison to the much larger, more wellknown, and better-funded National September 11 Memorial & Museum. Suson said that on slow months, he has had to put up his own money to keep his own museum going. He has also started to work with the Memorial & Museum by allowing them to use his photographs. “I’m just happy that my images are going to be in a place that more people can see them,” Suson said. “As challenging as it is to keep the [Ground Zero Workshop] museum’s doors open, it’s minuscule compared to the challenges faced by the victims’ families on a daily basis.” What sets the museum apart is its interactive nature. Visitors can pick up the artifacts, and hear Suson’s detailed and emotional fi rst-hand accounts of being in the pit (he not only shot photos, but was also part of the recovery effort, working with rescuers in the search for survivors). One thought-provoking photograph shows a bunker jacket discovered in January 2002 among the remains of the South Tower lobby, which belonged to FDNY Chaplain Father Mychal Judge. A Franciscan friar and Catholic priest, Judge rushed Downtown from St. Francis of Assisi Church (135 W. 31st St.) following the fi rst tower’s collapse, and was
Photo by Rachel Lenihan
Photo by Gary Marlon Suson
A visitor listens to Suson’s narration while viewing his photograph of Father Mychal Judge’s bunker jacket, found among the collapsed remains of the South Tower.
January, 2002: Gary Marlon Suson, 100 feet below Ground Zero at the remains of Commuter’s Cafe in the PATH subway station.
September 21, 2017
“North Tower Collapse from Meatpacking District, 10:02 A.M., 9/11/01.”
fatally injured during the second tower’s collapse. Suson has worked hard to offer a frank and respectful presentation of the grim subject matter. By focusing on recovery efforts rather than images of the tower collapsing, the museum is very kid-friendly — and its simple design and aesthetic, Suson recalled, stems his 2004 visit to the Netherlands, when he toured the home of Anne Frank, the Jewish teen who wrote a diary of her life before being sent to a Nazi death camp. “The Anne Frank [Museum Amsterdam] amazed me at how small her room was, yet almost 10 million people go a year to see her room,” he said. “There is nothing in the room but it was the importance of being there.” The experience being in Anne Frank’s room inspired him to “come back home to build something similar in theory” where education and respectful remembrance went handin-hand. That mission was further realized on Sept. 7, when the museum unveiled a new sculpture entitled “Metamorphosis,” created by Belgium-born, New York City based artist Marie-Hélèn. “The artist used her own original TheVillager.com
photo of the World Trade Center that was then heat pressed onto trade center metal,” Suson said. “We gave the artist glass from the towers that she chipped and placed throughout the project.” In the center of the fl ag that is fashioned to the top of the artwork is a gemstone that was made from World Trade Center glass. The glass was shaped into gems to be placed in rings for 9/11 families. One side depicts the towers engulfed in fl ames, with broken glass representing the past. On the other side is an untouched tower. This new tower represents hope. “My goal,” Suson said of his own hopes, “is to keep the memory of 9/11 alive through images and artwork — so that our world doesn’t forget.” At 420 W. 14th St. (2nd Floor, btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.). Museum Hours: Wed.–Sun., 11am–3pm. Admission: $25 ($19 for ages 4-12 and seniors 65+, free for 9/11 family members; $15 for military. Discounted rates for groups of 20+ (maximum guests per tour, 30). For more info, visit groundzeromuseumworkshop.org or call 212-920-4264.
Photos by Gary Marlon Suson
Now on permanent display, Marie-Hélène’s recently unveiled “Metamorphosis” (2017; 10.5 x 3.4 in.; steel, hydrographic transfer of image, paint, glass).
Theater for the New City • 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net
Up the Rabbit Hole
The New Pop Experience
by Andy Halliday Dir. by G.R. Johnson Previews - Sept. 21-25 Tickets: $25.00 Pay-What-You-Can on: Sept 21and 28 at 8PM Oct 3 and 10 at 8PM
By Jeff Daye and Laura Kleinbaum with additional music and lyrics by Drew Fornarola General Admission: $18.00 Thurs. - Sat 8:00 PM Sunday 7:00 PM
“Sex, Obsession, and Finding home”
Cleopatra “The Imersive Celebration of Egypt’s triumph over Rome ”
September 21, 2017
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September 21, 2017
PHOTO BY LEVAR ALONZO
Murmur’s Uluc Ulgen in his E. Fifth St. apar tment with Yumash, his silent and nonthreatening co-host.
Murmur podcast goes silent, for now BY LEVAR ALONZO
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or the past three years, an East Village man has been inviting one or two people per week — often total strangers to him — into his apartment to be guests on his podcast. Lured by fliers festooned around the East Village, more than 250 guests have shown up at Uluc Ulgen’s doorstep just to talk on Murmur. Guests have ranged from homeless persons and rock stars to politicos, like Carlina Rivera, the Democratic nominee for City Council District 2, and at least one of her opponents, Ronnie Cho. In fact, some of those talks ultimately don’t even get posted online because certain guests prefer to remain anonymous. “Murmur is not a business. It’s a labor of love, something for the community,” Ulgen said. “I never turn anyone away.” The 28-year-old, who streams his podcast on iTunes, was born in Turkey but raised in Minnesota. He said that since coming to this country, he has dealt with issues of shyness and trying to fit in. “I went from being the most popular guy in my class in Turkey to being the foreign kid,” he said. Since launching the podcast, Ulgen has gained confidence and become an outspoken and trusting person. “I was the shy guy,” he reflected. “I used to get nervous to talk to people because of my accent. But by doing this, it has helped me to open up and get to know people.”
He started the podcast about four years ago after going through a rough patch. Ulgen had quit his job and took a trip to Turkey. For eight days he wandered from village to village and relied on strangers to help him. What resonated with him was their kindness, which restored his faith in humanity. That show of kindness from complete strangers inspired him to return to New York and do the same. “The best guest on the podcast I get is someone I don’t know, so that we can talk and I get to know them,” Ulgen noted. He views his space as a free platform for anyone who just wants to have a conversation and get whatever is on their mind off of it. It’s completely free of charge to be a guest on Murmur. Although Ulgen views his podcast as a sociable service to the community, two weeks ago, his landlord gave him an ultimatum: basically, that he cease all recording because inviting guests into the building, at E. Fifth St. near Avenue B, poses a liability to its other tenants. If Ulgen wants to stay in his apartment, the landlord said, he would be subject to routine inspections to ensure he has no audio recording equipment of any kind. If he doesn’t comply to the ultimatum, he could be sued or evicted. Landlord Robert Perl has said that if he wasn’t getting complaints from other tenants in the building, he would consider reversing his decision. “There are other units that are, at times, being used for Airbnb and that exacerbates the problem,” Perl said, in an e-mail. “We
have to deal with this regularly these days.” Perl said that the guests on Ulgen’s show are “random people” and it’s a safety concern for other tenants. Plus, he, as the landlord, is ultimately responsible. “If something were to happen in the building — say, a crime — who would be the one having to answer all the questions?” Perl asked. Ulgen, on the other hand, stated that he always takes precaution by walking his guests up to his apartment and escorting them back out after the hourlong session. He said he has never heard of anyone complaining about him. Even though this is crushing news to Ulgen, he has vowed that he won’t fight his landlord over it. “If anything, he is an O.K. guy,” he said of Perl. “However, Murmur does need a new home, and I will have to move out next month.” Ulgen said he has also gotten many comments from longtime listeners of the show that he didn’t know existed, and they are saddened by the news of Murmur going on hiatus from doing new podcasts. “It’s like telling an artist you can’t paint in your apartment,” Ulgen said. “My air and my purpose for living is being stifled.” Ulgen is turning to the community for help. He is in the process of looking for free space or an apartment that won’t have a problem with the podcast. He is also setting up a gofundme site at www.gofundme. com/justiceformurmur in hope of raising money for a new home for Murmur. September 21, 2017
September 21, 2017
Some tumult over tiles at Village 9/11 memorial BY LEVAR ALONZO
struggle has erupted over the “Heart and Soul of the Village” — a.k.a. 9/11 Tiles for America, Mulry Square’s community-born memorial about the terrorist attack and its victims. Some of the tiles are currently on display on chain-link fence segments at the corner of Seventh Ave. South and Greenwich Ave. The Tiles for America Project was created by Lorrie Veasey at her studio, Our Name Is Mud, which was next to the formerly open corner lot. In the aftermath of 9/11, the spontaneous public memorial displayed hundreds of ceramic tiles, handpainted by locals, as well as by people around the world. More than a decade ago, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owns the corner property, announced it was tearing down the fence to build a subway-tunnel ventilation building, putting the tribute’s fate in limbo. New York State, in 2012, planned to hang the tiles on another chain-link fence in Albany when construction started on the ventilation building. However, a few community members — self-appointed tile guardians, as it were — took it upon themselves to remove the tiles and store them. Dusty Berke, one of the tile guardians, has said that she has been holding onto the tiles to preserve their memory. Many of them, she said, obviously the original ones, are more than 10 years old and are “old, weathered and fragile.” “The tiles are far too damaged to be hanging on the fence and we are trying to preserve the memory,” Berke said. “We encourage people to bring a new tile and it hang it on the fence; this is a way people can come together just as the community did on 9/11.” Yet, some in the community have not been happy with the sequestering of the tiles, and have decided to speak out, and
VILLAGER FILE PHOTO
A year ago, these tiles had been restored to the 9/11 Tiles for America memorial, New York City’s last sur viving spontaneous memorial to the attack — but many more of the patriotic potter y squares remain in storage somewhere.
planned to hold their own commemoration on this year’s Sept. 11 with the original tiles. Paul McClure, a Village resident, held an “ice cream social” at Mulry Square on Aug. 15 in honor of both the tiles and the “love benches” that he created and placed at the memorial six years ago. The benches became a part of the tile memorial, as some would place flowers on the seats and candles along the fence. On Sept. 11, he planned to have another “social” event, but with the original tiles present. “Hey, you can’t have a 9/11 Tiles for America Memorial without the tiles,” he said. McClure, currently acting director of Artists Who Care, once collaborated
with Berke. He said that Artists Who Care and its directors cooperated with Berke five years ago, in order to save the patriotic pottery pieces from being lost. Now, though, the two differ about who should have ownership of and responsibility for the tiles. Not everyone who has been a part of the tiles effort agrees with Berke’s approach, to hear McClure tell it. “The tiles were their to honor the fallen and first responders,” McClure said. “I don’t own the tiles, and neither does Dusty. They belong to that corner and to all those whose memories were on that fence, and for all those who pass by again.” Since the M.T.A. finished building its
ventilation structure, Berke and others have hung a few hundred of the 3,000 tiles back at the location. (Not all of them are the original tiles, however, and Berke admits as much.) Berke said she has a “certificate of ownership” for the tiles that were in her possession and that 2,500 are currently in a storage unit. Berke said she was given ownership of the tiles by the Contemporary Ceramics Studios Association. C.C.S.A. originally gave guardianship of the iconic squares to Berke’s Tiles of America Preservation Project, which was to be set up as a nonprofit organization and remove and safely store the tiles. But the ceramics group became concerned after, they say, Berke failed to follow through on part of the agreement. “The C.C.S.A. board of directors and executive director were led to believe Tiles for America Preservation Project was a 501(c)3 organization,” Jenn Meyer, C.C.S.A. president said. “When Tiles for America Preservation Project failed to provide proof of nonprofit and / or 501(c)3 status, the C.C.S.A. board of directors met Sept. 11, 2012, in an emergency session to grant permission to the office of former Council Speaker Christine Quinn to remove the Tiles for America Memorial and place them in safe storage.” Some of the tiles were removed to the nearby Jefferson Market Library branch. McClure also believes that many of the tiles currently hung at the memorial are fake, and wants the originals to returned. Berke is turning to crowdfunding in hopes of creating a local brick-and-mortar museum that will house the tiles to preserve their memory. “It is easy for me to throw out the tiles that are damaged, but I feel it is my responsibly to hold on to the memory,” she said. “The tiles really show unity and peace, sadness and patriotism and the spirit of helping each other.”
Letters to The Editor LETTERS continued from p. 12
of immigrants that populate most of her district, as well as the elderly. Jim Fouratt
We need a recount To The Editor: Re “Rivera romps; Chin up by 200 votes; Marte not conceding; Grand St. district leader upset” (news article, Sept. 14): There should be a recount of the vote between Mrs. Chin and Christopher Marte. It was too close for there not to be some errors. Congratulations to Mr. TheVillager.com
Marte for running such an enthusiastic, issues-oriented campaign. We were mightily impressed by the huge number of dedicated volunteers who helped in his campaign.
uncaring or for sale to special interests, it’s people like Sal that we elect.
Sal is part of answer To The Editor: Re “Sal Albanese for mayor on Sept. 12” (editorial, Sept. 9, thevillager.com): Thank you, The Villager, for endorsing Sal. He is an honest man who is capable and qualified to be the city’s mayor. His campaign is realistic. For those who complain about politicians being dishonest,
John F. Manning
To The Editor: Mayor Bill de Blasio shouldn’t be proud of his 2017 Democratic Party primary win. Out of 3,100,000 eligible Democratic primary day voters, only 316,361 (10.6 percent) voted for de Blasio. The other 90 percent gave 66,636 votes for Sal Albanese, 20,445 for Michael Tolkin, 13,537 for Robert Gangi and 10,538 for Richard Bashner, and there were 2,727,483 who voted for “None of the Above” by staying
home — yes, 2,793,639. In reality, when you add up the combined votes of de Blasio’s four opponents with those who stayed home by voting for “None of the Above,” less than 10 percent of registered Democrats supported de Blasio. Larry Penner E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to email@example.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. September 21, 2017
Single moms’ new groove
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September 21, 2017
RHYMES WITH CRAZY BY LENORE SKENAZY
hen Emma Johnson was growing up, she was certain of one thing: She would never be a single mom. After all, she’d been raised by one. And while she appreciates her mom’s hard work and how it paid off — “My brothers are really good guys, we all turned out O.K.” — bottom line: They were broke. Emma didn’t ever want to be scrimping and scraping and sad like that. So she left Illinois for the big city (well, Astoria), became a journalist, found a great guy, got married, had the kids… . And now she is a single mom of two. What happened? Shortly into the marriage, her husband was on assignment as a cameraman in Greece when he fell off a cliff and suffered a brain injury. Things never went back to normal. In fact, they grew harrowing. Before the kids were even in kindergarten, the couple divorced. And that is how Emma started her journey to become the person who you’ll find in the title of her honest, wrenching and ultimately stand-up-and-cheer memoir and self-help book coming out in October, “The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest You, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children.” “For a long time,” she writes, “I was alternatively livid, confused, overwhelmed, accepting and thrilling in that role — a process that I have seen countless women go through in my work, which is now committed to the empowerment of single mothers.” “Empowerment” is a word we hear a lot, but for Emma it’s a mission: She doesn’t want any moms to be downtrodden just because they’re not married. After all, she says, 57 percent of millennial moms are single. And they’re so young that we don’t even know yet if the married ones will stay hitched. Commonplace or not, single motherhood often elicits the gloomy assumptions Emma set out to bust: You’re a failure. You’ll never make a decent living. You’re screwing up your kids. You won’t find love. Her own story proves the power of positive doing. Realizing she’d have to be a breadwinner from now on, “I just buckled down,” she says. She started calling all her editing contacts and threw herself into work. She hired childcare and determined not to feel guilty about it: “I can’t make money if I’m cleaning my house and doing laundry all the time.” She also ditched the idea that kids needed a stayat-home mom. She did the research and learned that, empirically, “The things that hurt kids are conflict between par-
ents inside or outside a marriage” — not having a mom who works. As she went out into the world, she found herself drawn to the stories of women like her, women whose Plan A did not work out. Some were thriving, many weren’t. So five years ago she started a blog, “WealthySingleMommy” which just may go down as one of the most radical ideas online. We are so used to Barely Making It Single Mommies that the idea that a mommy can be single, wealthy and fine is rewriting an entire demographic’s story. In her book as on her blog, Emma uses journalistic research to provide strategies for finding work, getting over guilt and demanding a decent life. For instance, how do you keep a father involved in his kids’ lives? You let them. “When dads only get weekend visits with their children, they are much more likely to drop out of the picture,” Emma learned. But if you start custody negotiations assuming a 50 / 50 childcare split (so long as the dad is not abusive), it is much more likely the ex will become and remain an involved dad. Similarly, when it comes to dating, single moms should face facts: If they are earning a living, they will be less needy and hence more attractive. And by the way, she says, “You probably already had a husband, so why are you in such a rush to find another one?” She profiles women like the stay-athome mom of three who was pregnant with her fourth when her husband ran off with another woman he’d also knocked up. At first, Emma recalls, the abandoned wife was declaring, “ ‘I’m going to take him for all he’s worth!’ She was in that angry, miserable spot.” But for all that, the woman went and got her real estate license, started working, and a year later was making about $100,000. “Now she looks awesome and she started to date,” Emma reports. More amazingly, that mom just posted a photo of her, her ex, the “other woman” and the five kids they have between them, out for a day at the water park. Kickass single moms may be the silent majority we just haven’t heard of — until now. Skenazy is founder of the blog “FreeRange Kids” and author of “Has the World Gone Skenazy?” TheVillager.com
Gennaro fest and cannoli contest pack ’em in BY COLIN MIXSON
he Feast of San Gennaro kicked off on Sept. 14 along Mulberry St. in Little Italy, and lovers of all things Italian flocked to the former immigrant enclave to celebrate the tastes of the old country. “I love San Gennaro,” said New Jersey resident Scott Hersh, who won a cannoli eating contest at the feast on Friday. “Being around Italians, and the cannoli and sausage — San Gennaro’s just been one of those things I enjoy going to all the time.” Italian immigrants first brought the festive tradition to the Lower East Side in 1926, when a feast dedicated to the patron saint of Naples, St. Januarius, first sprang up around a small chapel on Mulberry St. The Lower Manhattan immigrant enclave has since dwindled to a few shops and restaurants, but the feast itself has expanded into a massive, 11-day celebration of Italian heritage, culture, and — above all — food. As many as 2 million people are expected to attend over the course of the feast, which snakes through 11 blocks of Mulberry, Grand and Hester Sts., and boasts more than 200 vendors selling every Italian delicacy known to man, according to feast organizer John Fratta. “Saturday alone we had easily 300,000 people,” explained Fratta, who sits on the board of directors of Figli di San Gennaro, a charity group that produces the event. “You couldn’t move, that’s how crowded it was.” The event has become so popular that a news crew from Naples came to document New York’s feast for their Italian audience, who were surprised to see that what in the saint’s hometown is a one-day event had become a truly gigantic affair in America, Fratta said. “The way they honor him, it’s a one-day festival, but when this crew came down and saw the parade and the procession last night, they were shocked. They couldn’t believe the amount of people and the way we do it,” the organizer said. Even among the crowded vendors, the 2017 Feast of San Gennaro Cannoli Eating Contest managed to attract hordes of onlookers, who cheered as Tony Danza emcee’d the confection-based competitiveeating event. Hersh, who looked up eating strategies on his phone just before the event, ended up winning after putting away 24 cannoli in six minutes — an average of one cannoli every 15 seconds. The Jersey resident claims his victory at San Gannero isn’t his first big eating contest win — he once emerged victorious in a Hyatt Hotel-sponsored event where he ate 59 jalapeno peppers — a far more physically taxing feat, he said. “With the jalapeno eating contest, my mouth was burning, I was sweating, there were physical things going on,” Hersh explained. “With the cannoli, I didn’t feel nauseous at all.” On Tuesday, supplicants gathered at Most Precious Blood Church for a celebratory Mass in the evening, before spilling into the street for a grand procession, which saw a statue of the martyr marched up Mulberry St. from Canal St. to Houston St. and back down Mott St. before ending where it began. The 16-block parade route — especially when marching beneath the weight of the hefty, metallic saint — is no small trek, according to one marcher. “It’s heavy,” said John Napoli, who carried the statue, with the help of seven other men. “We rotate frequently so guys aren’t killing themselves.” Napoli, who has carried the saint in the procession TheVillager.com
PHOTOS BY GEORGINE BENVENUTO
Joe Rose put on a show for the crowd as, seated next to him, the top cannolli eater, Scott Hersh, calmly downed 24 cannolis.
Actor Chazz Palmenteri, center, was the grand marshal at Saturday’s San Gennaro procession.
for the last four years, said the parade is an opportunity for him to connect with his heritage, and carry on a tradition that’s been in his family for generations. “He’s the patron saint of Naples, which is my ancestral home, so it’s a matter of keeping the traditions of my ancestors alive,” Napoli said. However, not all locals are crazy about the festival’s length — in terms of both its number of blocks and days. A few years ago an effort to rein in the festival resulted in the stretch between Prince and Houston St. being designated a quieter block during the festival. Residents also complain about the piles of trash the heavily attended event creates.
There was no monumental debate about explorer Christopher Columbus — a hero to the Italian-American communit y — at Saturday’s grand procession. September 21, 2017
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September 21, 2017
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