The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Villag ag g e, e , Lower Lo ow w er e r East Ea ass t Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown Square e, C Ch h inat ina in att ow o n and Noho,, Since Sin Si ncc e 1933 19 3 19 33 3
November 30, 2017 • $1.00 Volume 87 • Number 48
As the dorm turns... Old P.S. 64 lobbyist admits using actors BY SAR AH FERGUSON
fter a week of vociferous denials, a lobbyist hired by developer Gregg Singer is now admitting his firm paid people to turn out for a rally they orchestrated to boost support for Singer’s plan to covert the old P.S. 64 school building, on E. Ninth St. near
Avenue B, into a dormitory. In a Thanksgiving Day email to The Villager, David Schwartz, a founding partner at Gotham Government Relations, admitted his firm paid eight of the 30 people who came to cheer for Singer’s dorm scheme on the steps of City Hall DORM continued on p. 5
Jefferson branch artwork highlights ‘public’ in library BY REBECCA FIORE
he Jefferson Market Library didn’t start off as a library. The High Victorian Gothic structure was originally built in 1874 as a courthouse. In 1945, it ceased being a courthouse and was slated to be demolished. Locals, led by community preservationist servationist
Margot Gayle, rallied together to save the building in 1959 and have it converted to a New York Public Library branch. Then in 1974, due to budget cutbacks, the N.Y.P.L. board of trustees voted to close the branch. One month later, after public outcry, the decision was rescinded. LIBRARY co continued on p. 6
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
At the dedication of Ms. Magazine Way, at E. 32nd St. and Third Ave., Nov. 15, from left, A ssemblymember Deborah Glick and City Councilmember Rosie Mendez were joined by Gloria Steinem, co-founder of the groundbreaking feminist women’s magazine. Ms. was launched there in 1971 as a sample inser t to New York magazine.
Pr. 40: Fields of dreams but also fears of heights BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
ier 40 — the Hudson River Park’s largest pier — must be developed with sensitivity to the surrounding community, meaning all of the hulking structure’s available development space should not be utilized, yet more sports fields should be added, according to a new draft report by a Community Board 2 working group. The report also notes that,
‘Shadowman’ and his art ....... p. 17
in an effort to maximize the sprawling W. Houston St. pier’s revenue-generating potential, the park’s governing agency is seeking to develop it with a massive $1 billion megaproject. The Future of Pier 40 Working Group released its draft report on Nov. 17. This report will get a fi nal review at the Nov. 30 meeting of the working group, which will then craft an advisory resolution and vote on it.
(The group’s Nov. 30 meeting is open to the public, but will be an “executive session,” meaning members of the public will not be allowed to comment or ask questions.) The full board of C.B. 2, in turn, will vote on the resolution, likely in mid-to-late December. Rather than a traditional resolution, featuring suggested actions, the recently released draft report has 21 PIER continued on p. 8
Soho’s Pornhub pop-up is pretty tame..............p. 3 Sixty seconds in a Chelsea Infinity Room.........p. 11 www.TheVillager.com
LET THERE BE LIGHTS: Why are there new generator-powered New York Police Department floodlight towers in Washington Square Park? We spotted at least three there the other day, two on either side of the fountain plaza and another on the central-axis path on the park’s west side. Villager reader Michael Hochstat said these lights were first turned on Tuesday night and one was glaring right into his window on Washington Place all the way over by Broadway. “It shines right into my apartment,” he said. “First the ‘Fences’ artwork, now foodlights. Do we need new management to run this park? The lights are horrible. Just close [the park] at night.” We noticed some skateboarders there this past frigid Monday night around 11 p.m., making a racket shouting across the plaza to each other and clack-clack-clacking their boards
while doing tricks on the black-granite benches. Two police cars with lights flashing soon rolled up and the skateboarders chilled out. Bob Gormley, district manager of Community Board 2, said he had gotten a couple of complaints about the skateboarders and had noticed the new lights, but wasn’t sure what they were there for. However, Detective Jimmy Alberici, Sixth Precinct community affairs officer, said the police lights are there for “just extra security.” They’re not there for the skateboarders per se...just “for everything,” he said. Alberici also noted that the park’s actual lights are being cleaned right now, so apparently the extra illumination might be needed. As for the police car that has been parking at the park’s northwest corner until 10 p.m. each night for the past few months, it’s there to deter drug dealers in that section of the park, where they try to make themselves comfortable at the tables.
SMORG SQUARE TREE SPREE: Where did the new Smorgasburg a.k.a. Smorg Square go? Darlene Lutz, our Duarte Square Deep Throat, said the hipsterish outdoor vendors market basically closed up shop about three weeks ago. As we noticed while passing by the other night, the square, located on the north side of Canal St. at Sixth Ave., is now filled by a seasonal holiday tree market, Soho Christmas Trees. Lutz said the forest of firs actually fills about half of the sprawling Trinity Real
PHOTO COURTESY SHARON WOOLUMS
Local activist Sharon Woolums got a photo with Selena Gomez recently on MacDougal St., where the young singer was staying. Woolums said she knew it was Gomez because paparazzi who had been staking out the songbird told her about it. She said Gomez was happy to pose for the photo, but insisted to Woolums, “Only if it’s with your bic ycle.”
Estate-owned lot, while Smorgasburg’s unused picnic tables and other equipment is sitting idly by on the rest of the property. “They dismantled the bar,” she noted of Smorgasburg. “They’ve removed all the tents but one.” Jonathan Butler, Smorgasburg’s co-founder, said the outdoor food mecca is not gone, just on hiatus for a little bit. Basically, he told us, the city’s Department of Buildings has been dragging its feet on approving essential infrastructure that his operation needs, including electricity, water and shipping containers, among other things. “The wheels of
November 30, 2017
city bureaucracy can turn very slowly,” he said. “We will start up in the spring again.” To hear Lutz tell it, the Duarte Square Smorgasburg had been doing terribly. But Butler tells another story. “It was going well,” he said. “Particularly people who work in the neighborhood on Fridays really liked it.” On the other hand, Butler noted of Lutz, “Her fears were overblown. It has 20 percent of the vendors of Brooklyn Smorgasburg. It was supposed to be a placemaking exercise more than anything, not to replicate the size of the crowds of Brooklyn Smorgasburg.” TheVillager.com
Soho Pornhub pop-up is actually porn free BY REBECCA FIORE
he free erotic video-sharing Web site Pornhub opened a pop-up shop at 70 Wooster St. in Soho on Black Friday with one catch: There’s no porn. And there’s a legal reason for that. At the start of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s tenure, adult video stores filled Times Square. In an effort to clean up the area, Giuliani banished all adult stores from commercial districts, relegating them to manufacturingzoned areas only, pushing them to the city’s edges. However, then-City Councilmember Kathryn Freed, representing her constituents in Soho, a manufacturing district, didn’t want adult stores in the neighborhood. A special provision in the Zoning Resolution was created stating, “Adult establishments are not permitted in a Manufacturing District in which residences or joint living-work quarters for artists are allowed… .” In addition, adult shops are not allowed within 500 feet of one another or a church or a school built before April 10, 1995. “The law only counts for visual and printed materials,” attorney Erica Dubno of the firm Fahringer & Dubno said. “As long as it isn’t a book or video store, they would not fall under that zoning
PHOTO BY REBECCA FIORE
The Pornhub Soho pop-up store is relatively discreet, from its storefront to its interior.
resolution.” Dubno is currently fighting a legal battle against the New York State Court of Appeals, which ruled to invalidate the 60/40 rule this past June. The 60/40 rule, created by Dubno and her late legal partner Herald Price Fahringer in the 1990s, applies specifically to porn shops, allowing them to remain in operation as long as only 40 percent of their merchandise is pornographic.
However, the city currently is not enforcing the rule, pending the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on whether to hear the case. “That’s why Babeland is allowed [in Soho] because it had removed all publications,” she said, referring to the well-known sex-toys shop, at 43 Mercer St. “They are able to have therapeutic devices.” Dubno said a pop-up store is subject
to the same laws as a permanent store. A spokesperson for Pop Up Mob, the company hired by Pornhub to create the Wooster pop-up shop, said the store contains no graphic content. Even the giant brightly lit screen at the store’s rear, featuring the company’s logo over small stills from adult films is pixelated, so the images are blurred. Pornhub, which launched 10 years ago, now has its own brand of products, including men’s and women’s clothing sporting the company logo, sexually explicit coloring books, and other branded gear from their content partners. “As an online brand, we’ve been limited to interacting with our fans on the site and through social media,” said Corey Price, Pornhub’s vice president, in a statement. “As we continue to increase brand awareness and expand into new verticals, like retail, we are looking for new ways to interact with our fans,” In addition to clothes, accessories and duffel bags, the company has also, naturally, created a line of adult toys, some in collaboration with the Museum of Sex. These include handcuffs, vibrators and other sex paraphernalia. The Soho Pornhub pop-up shop — located nearby design boutiques Moschino and Céline — will remain open until Dec. 20. Visitors must be age 18 or older to enter the store.
Washington Square Association and Friends of Washington Square Park P. O. Box 1395 Cooper Station New York, NY 10276
Washington Square Association invites you to join us for the holiday tree lighting Wednesday December 6 th at 6 pm in Washington Square Park near the Arch Sing Along with the Rob Susman Brass Quartet On Christmas Eve December 24th at 5 pm please join us for Christmas Caroling with the Rob Susman Brass Quartet
For more information visit: W as h i n g t o n s qu ar e n y c . o rg TheVillager.com
November 30, 2017
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 Brooklyn, N.Y. Postmaster: Send address changes to The Villager, One Metrotech North, 10th ﬂoor, Brooklyn, NY 11201 Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $29 ($35 elsewhere). Single copy price at ofﬁce and newsstands is $1. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2017 NYC Community Media LLC. PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR
The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for others errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue. Published by NYC Community Media, LLC One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (718) 260-2500 • Fax: (212) 229-2790 On-line: www.thevillager.com E-mail: email@example.com © 2017 NYC Community Media, LLC
November 30, 2017
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
Workers were hanging lights on the holiday tree on Wednesday, star ting from its top.
A little Weiwei south of old spot
he holiday tree went up in Washington Square Park this week, though not in its traditional spot beneath the arch. That’s, of course, because the Ai Weiwei cage-like sculpture occupies the coveted spot, as part of the four-month-
long citywide public-art installation “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.” This year, the tree is located on the park’s central plaza between the arch and the fountain, nearer to the latter. Two workers in cherry pickers were starting to hang lights at the
tree’s top on Wednesday morning. The tree-lighting and a sing-along with the Rob Susman Brass Quartet will be held Wed., Dec. 6, at 6 p.m. People can join Susman and Co. again Dec. 24 at 5 p.m. for some Christmas Eve caroling. TheVillager.com
Lobbyist: We leaked it DORM continued from p. 1
on Nov. 17. More bizarre still, Schwartz claimed he intentionally leaked the casting call for the rally to the Daily News in order to gin up media attention for the event. â€œThank you!!!!! As I thought you would, at least you covered our side of the story,â€? Schwartz wrote in response to The Villagerâ€™s front-page story: â€œTrumped-up dorm rally used hired actorsâ€? (news article, Nov. 23).
â€˜You ever heard fake news?â€™ Gregg Singer
â€œWe have been frustrated that we could not get any press for one of the biggest frauds in NYC,â€? Schwartz said, referencing Singerâ€™s claim that his decadeslong effort to remake the former school building into a dorm has been unfairly obstructed by the Mayorâ€™s Office and other local politicians, who want to see the building restored as a community arts center similar to CHARAS â€” the group that occupied the building when Singer bought it at auction in 1998. â€œIn order to get press, I knew if I purposely leaked the Extra Mile casting call to the Daily News, then members of the press would come down and at least cover the substance of the rally,â€? Schwartz said. â€œAt least you covered the substance and the real issue, unlike the Daily News [reporter], who thought she had a hot story. We filled in the crowd with 8 people out of the 30, from Extra Mile in order to get the press out.â€?
The Villager reached out to the Daily Newsâ€™ City Hall bureau chief, Jillian Jorgenson, who declined to comment on how she obtained the casting e-mail sent out by Extra Mile, which offered people â€œ$50 CASH / 2.5 hour bookingâ€? to â€œbeef up attendanceâ€? for the dorm rally. But the notion that Gotham G.R. could have planted it is pretty hard to believe, especially since Schwartz is now admitting that that he and his coworkers at Gotham G.R. lied to both The Villager and the Daily News when they insisted they had â€œno knowledge whatsoeverâ€? of the casting call or Extra Mile. â€œI have no idea who that is,â€? Schwartz told the News â€” even though Gotham G.R. has worked with Extra Mile on other campaigns, and Extra Mile lists Gotham G.R. as a client on its Web site. In fact, the same day that Schwartz sent his thank you note to The Villager, Gregg Singer was quoted in a follow-up story in the Daily News calling the allegations that he paid actors to rally for his dorm project â€œfake news.â€? Singer went so far as to suggest that opponents of the dorm could have put out the casting call in order to undermine his campaign. â€œYou ever heard fake news? I think the people that are against us are twisting it â€” itâ€™s probably the other side that paid the money!â€? Singer claimed. Considering that Singer is paying Gotham G.R. $12,000 a month to lobby for his dorm scheme, youâ€™d think theyâ€™d have their stories straight. Singer did not respond to requests to clarify whether he was on board with the plan to hire people to rally for his dorm. But Schwartz seemed undeterred â€” despite what seems to have been an epic face-plant in the realm of PR. â€œWe are going to have more rallyâ€™s [sic] in the community!!!â€? he wrote in his e-mail to The Villager. â€œAlso, keep on the lookout for the lawsuits we will be bringing exposing the politicians for what they are. They are the real actors. Thank you again and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!!!!â€?
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The Washington Square Association, Inc., founded in 1906, is one of the cityâ€™s oldest community organizations. For over 90 years, it has sponsored carol singing in Washington Square Park. Other activites concern the continued improvement of Washington Square, the Washington Square Music Festival, and the fostering of neighborhood spirit.
Patented and clinically proven.
November 30, 2017
Jefferson branch artwork puts the ‘public’ in library; LIBRARY continued from p. 1
“This library, in particular, was saved by the public twice,” said Mark John Smith, artist in residence and creator of JML50, a 50th anniversary celebration of the library. “We would not be standing here today had it not been for those people who grouped together to make sure the community had access to literature and learning.” For a long while, branch library manager Frank Collerius knew he wanted an art piece in the Jefferson Market Library’s second-floor reading room, but couldn’t commit to an idea. Then he met Smith, and showed him a cabinet file drawer filled with old documents and letters from the public to the library. Smith lit up. “Frank, how many more of those do you have?” Smith recalled telling him. It turns out, tons. “I felt like, ultimately, the only thing that would be appropriate and wonderful on the wall would be the public’s names and letters,” Collerius said. “The library wouldn’t exist without the public. I wanted to have the public’s words be as large as the windows and architecture in that room. The first step was to dig through the archives. Collerius and Smith opened the documents to the public and let them decide what belonged on the walls. The library held two events during the summer, one for the public and one through the Young Lions, a special N.Y.P.L. membership group for people in their 20s and 30s who have a passion for literature and the library. “We wanted to ensure the public were responsible for curating and selecting the content,” Smith said. Smith, 30, said he’s obsessed with the idea of “materiality.” He said he feels it is valuable to be able to touch the archives and have a physical connection to them. “I think it’s really important when creating a public work of art, especially, to have it be deep-rooted in the community it’s representing,” he said. Donning white gloves, library staff and community members dug through the archives. Since some of these documents had not been on public view before, it was a new experience for both the public and library staff. “The tremendously exciting thing was that we were seeing things as they were,” Smith said. “We were on that journey with them. The joy for us was discovering.” What came together in the following months was a large-format, black-andwhite, three-story 360-degree print on the walls of the reading room. Each vertical board-like strip has either a child’s signature — from the Children’s Registration Book — or quotes from letters and documents, or handwritten notes found in books by librarians. “The amazing thing,” Smith said, “is when we started researching and look-
November 30, 2017
PHOTO COURTESY MARK JOHN SMITH
To create the 360-degree ar twork on the Jefferson Market LIbrar y’s reading room’s walls, Mark John Smith pored over the librar y’s voluminous archives, drawing out information like Scarlett Johansson’s signature at the Children’s Reading Room when she was 8 — visible at left in the photo above — and other users’ and community members’ letters to the librar y.
ing through the archives, we noticed a lot of the patrons have gone on to be actors, artists, musicians or screenwriters because the Village is such a hub of creativity.” For example, among them was actress Scarlett Johansson, who grew up in Greenwich Village and signed the Children’s Registration Book in 1992 when she was just 8 years old. The vertical slats in the artwork are reminiscent to Smith of vintage flooring, with interlocking panels, and he sees them as literally being a structural element of the library. “The voices of the community are holding this building up,” he said. Smith also made a conscious decision to only include sentences that begin with “I,” so the viewers can, in a sense, put themselves in the original author’s shoes. Among the sentences in the artwork are “I’m out of work and I cannot afford to buy a book” and “I depend on the library for all my reading.” One letter written by a child simply said, “I lost another book.” “I’d like to think that reading this is like reading a novel,” Smith said. “You just get lost in it.” The slats are organized chronologically starting in 1967, with the library’s opening. Smith noticed small differences over the years in how people wrote and what they communicated with the library. Basically, the quality of penmanship has plummeted, only increas-
ing with the advent of computers and smartphones. “Handwriting has changed a lot in 50 years,” he noted. “You start off in the ’50s where everything is very cursive and within the lines, and as you move around toward the ’80s and ’90s, it all gets a bit more out there. It speaks as sort of a historical overview of how times have really changed. We wanted to celebrate the mark-making and smudges and bits of torn paper that really drive home the significance of analog communication.” In fact, some of the signatures are just that, scribbles and smudges. Smith even included a water stain found in a registration book. “I believe that a scribble is as important as any kind of language that you can write,” he said. “It’s communication at the end of the day and it has a certain type of urgency and joy to it that should be celebrated.” Smith wanted to make sure that the art piece was never about him. A British artist who previously worked for the BBC, he has been a New Yorker for sometime now. He has been artist in residence for a year at the library where he has observed all that a library provides to a community. “I honestly feel the library is the most reflective and adaptive public service there is,” he reflected. “Whatever kind of challenge or whatever request, it will respond in a way that is kind, generous
and just giving. That happens on a daily basis and is largely unseen. They do not discriminate. You can stand here and watch people working. There’s people running their own company from the reading room desk.” In addition to the handwriting on the wall, Smith incorporated a light element, which wraps around the room, illuminating parts of the archive. He said the lights change as the day grows into night. The lights remain out of people’s sight lines and avoid reflective surfaces. Smith said he wanted to make sure that, above all else, the reading room was able to keep its original purpose, without distractions. He even commissioned a scent, which was casually filling the room at the artwork’s Nov. 16 opening night. The warm smell was a mix of leather, ink, wood and, of course, books. He said he wanted to make the reading room a bit more theatrical by adding different elements. Also, on the library’s ground floor is another project Smith led — a display of posters made by library staff and locals in the style of the original protest protesters from the efforts to save the library. To further the importance of the archival work, Matt Whitman has been filming each part of the process. “This is such an important thing not LIBRARY continued on p. 7 TheVillager.com
Reading room festooned
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
Mark John Smith, at the opening night for JML50, is ar tist in residence at the Jefferson Market Librar y, leading its 50th anniversar y effor ts. Smith’s artwork adorning the walls of the second-floor reading room pays homage to the users and the histor y of the landmark librar y.
LIBRARY continued from p. 6
only to document, but also something important to document on a medium that speaks to the time that the library was founded,” Whitman said. “Film, namely Super 8 film, would have been the only format to capture the process of this. It was one of the first really portable home movie formats.” Whitman said he wanted to “capture the things that people don’t necessarily see when they see a work of art. They see it as a finished thing,” he said, “but they don’t see all the effort and the labor and the way it becomes part of the artist’s life.” Smith said that, in another 50 years, at the library’s 100th anniversary celebration, people could look back at this current interpretation. He also said he wants to make sure that all that he has explored and created is available for anyone to see, just as the library is free to use. The art is also posted online via TheVillager.com
social media. “I don’t want there ever at all to be a barrier of entry to anything I do,” he said. “I think all art should be in the public realm, free for everyone, all of the time.” Smith added that they also have been issuing postcards and fliers to inform the public about the work. “The demographic here is so diverse that not all of them have smartphones,” he noted. “I think it’s naive to assume that this can exist online and nowhere else. We really made a fundamental point of having access to everything regardless of age, social status, access to equipment,” he said. The reading room exhibit is set to be on display for the next six months, with a possible extension. In addition, during 2018, the library will hold events for the public to further the 50th anniversary celebration. For more info on JML50 visit: http://www.jefferson.market . November 30, 2017
Pier 40 report: Add ďŹ elds; Be careful on heights PIER continued from p. 1
Past failed efforts
â€œfindings.â€? Tobi Bergman, the working groupâ€™s chairperson, described it as â€œmore guidance than prescription.â€? Specifically, the working group was formed â€œto help establish parameters for potential redevelopment proposals that provide a stable source of income to support [Hudson River Park] operations while protecting the park from harmful impacts and increasing space for recreationâ€Ś .â€?
â€œTwo efforts to redevelop the pier ended in failure,â€? the working groupâ€™s report notes, â€œlargely because the community objected to the character and intensity of proposed commercial uses, which were primarily big-box retail and a vast entertainment complex. There were also strong objections to [the proposed] relegation of recreational open space to the rooftops of commercial buildings dominating the site. â€œAmong factors driving the size and intensity of proposed development [plans for Pier 40],â€? the report notes, â€œhas been the high cost of repairing thousands of steel piles that support the structure.â€?
E-survey in mix In addition, over this past summer, the working group sent out an e-mail survey seeking peopleâ€™s input on the future of Pier 40. A total of 3,140 people responded. All three community boards â€” Community Boards 1, 2 and 4 â€” that border the 4.5-mile-long park sent the survey to their e-mail lists, as did local politicians whose districts include the park, plus the three local youth-sports leagues â€” Greenwich Village Little League, Downtown United Soccer Club and Downtown Soccer League â€” the Manhattan Youth organization and the Village Community Boathouse, among others. The eight-page draft report notes that Pier 40 is almost 15.5 acres big, â€œor more than one-and-one-half times
Air-rights dollars PHOTO BY THE VILLAGER
Current recreational uses at Pier 40 include its huge ar tificial-tur fcovered cour t yard playing field and a trapeze school, on the rooftopâ€™s eastern side.
the size of Washington Square Park.â€? A two-story concrete pier shed covers the whole site except for a center courtyard of roughly 4.5 acres, currently used as sports fields, and a 20foot wide perimeter walkway.
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November 30, 2017
â€˜Opportunity for spaceâ€™ â€œThe pier, by far the largest in Hudson River Park, offers a unique and irreplaceable opportunity for new public open space,â€? the report notes, â€œincluding large-footprint ball fields that are difficult to site elsewhere within the narrow park. The â€˜courtyardâ€™ field alone is almost 10 times as big as the only other unpaved sports field in Community Board 2, James J. Walker Park.â€?
Revenue generator The Hudson River Park Act of 1998, the parkâ€™s founding legislation, states that, â€œto the extent practicable,â€? the cost of the parkâ€™s maintenance and operation should be funded by limited commercial uses in the park. Regarding Pier 40, the act mandates that the equivalent of at least 50 percent of its footprint must be used for recreational purposes, and that the rest of the pier can be developed commercially, though only with certain types of uses. Throughout the whole park, the act prohibits amusement parks, riverboat gambling, residential housing and commercial offices â€” and at Pier 40, specifically, the act allows only waterdependent uses, entertainment and commercial recreation. Since the parkâ€™s creation nearly 20 years ago, Pier 40 has provided between 25 percent and 40 percent of the whole parkâ€™s annual expenses, most of that coming from the W. Houston St. pierâ€™s long-term car parking. The Lower West Side pierâ€™s other current commercial uses include party boats and a trapeze school.
However, the draft report states, redevelopment schemes for the pier, theoretically, need not be so ambitious anymore, after the park act was amended in 2013 to allow the Hudson River Park Trust â€” the parkâ€™s statecity governing authority â€” to sell the parkâ€™s unused development rights to construction sites across the highway. â€œThe Hudson River Park Trust now has funds available to repair the piles, mostly obtained from the sale of development rights,â€? the C.B. 2 groupâ€™s report notes. â€œSupport for the use of park air rights in the adjacent area was based on the expectation that these funds would reduce the burden of development at Pier 40.â€? Indeed, C.B. 2 and Councilmember Corey Johnson, among others, supported the redevelopment of the St. Johnâ€™s Center site, just east of Pier 40, with a massive project of 1,600 residential units â€” including the sale of 200,000 square feet of air rights from Pier 40 to that projectâ€™s developers for $100 million.
Trust target: $12.5M The working groupâ€™s draft report notes the Trust hopes to continue getting 25 percent of the whole parkâ€™s expense budget from revenue from Pier 40, â€œwhich would eventually require increasing [annual] net revenue from a Pier 40 development project to $12.5 million.â€? Thatâ€™s about double the revenue the pier currently provides for the park. Yet, in the working groupâ€™s view, the park authority should probably scale back its plans at Pier 40. â€œ[The Trust] anticipates that it may take a $1 billion project to achieve this,â€? the report notes of the $12.5 million goal, â€œsuggesting a level of commercial use that may not be feasible, PIER continued on p. 26 TheVillager.com
POLICE BLOTTER A fetus, in fact Thereâ€™s not much more to say about the â€œpossible embryoâ€? that police reported found in a Citibank safe-deposit box on LaGuardia Place on Nov. 8 â€” other than that it was, indeed, a human fetus. Dr. Barbara Sampson, New York Cityâ€™s chief medical examiner, confirmed to The Villager this week, â€œIt is a human fetus. Other than that, thereâ€™s no cause or manner of death because the fetus was never alive.â€? Sampson declined to release any other information, such as the fetusâ€™s age or other details, since, she said, the medical examiner is not charged to do that. A Police Department spokesperson said the safe-deposit box was registered to a man who was last in New York City seven years ago. The spokesperson speculated that perhaps the person didnâ€™t pay the fees for the box, leading to the bankâ€™s opening it. On an unrelated matter, Chief Medical Examiner Sampson said the cause of death of a 77-year-old man who died Nov. 20 in his room at the Bowery Residents Committeeâ€™s Safe Haven shelter, at 315 Bowery, was hypertension and atherosclerosis â€” in other words,
high blood pressure and clogged arteries. Last week, a police source said the death might be â€œsuspicious,â€? but apparently it isnâ€™t.
to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.
Finally â€˜nailedâ€™ him Pinkberry perps Police said that on Wed., Nov. 22, at 10:25 p.m., two men entered the Pinkberry frozen-dessert shop at 523 Sixth Ave., displayed a gun and ordered the two male employees, ages 21 and 42, to the back of the place. The thugs then assaulted the two workers, forced them to open the safe, and removed $1,600, as well as the victimsâ€™ personal property. The robbers fled south on Sixth Ave. The victims were transported to Lenox Hill Hospital and treated for bruising and lacerations to the body. One suspect wore a jacket with a hood and a backpack, while the other sported a jacket with a red symbol on it, police said. Anyone with information is asked to call the Police Departmentâ€™s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS, or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting them
Police said a man entered the Rite Aid at 534 Hudson St., near Charles St., on Wed., Jan. 11, at 10:12 p.m. and swiped 140 Sally Hansen nail polishes. He hid them inside his coat and walked out of the place without paying. The nail polishes have a total value of $1,287. It took almost a year, but Lazaro Vega, 74, was arrested Mon., Nov. 20, for felony grand larceny.
7-Eleven 911 A man had a knife pulled on him inside the 7-Eleven store at 135 W. Third St. on Thurs., Nov. 23, at 9:40 p.m., police said. The 26-year-old victim told cops that while he was in the store, the suspect, who was intoxicated, came up and tried to hug him. When the victim told him to back up, the perp whipped out a knife and said, â€œI will cut you.â€? Christopher A. Byrne, 47, was arrested for misdemeanor menacing.
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â€˜X-manâ€™ caught Plainclothes police observed two men casing several local mobile-phone stores on the evening of Fri., Nov. 24, according to a report. At 7:30 p.m., one of the officers saw one suspect yank a white Apple iPhone X from a display at the Verizon store at 462 Sixth Ave., near W. 11th St. The suspect fled on foot eastbound on W. 11th St. but was apprehended in front of 40 W. 11th St. The phone is valued at $1,010. Malike Butler, 16, was charged with felony grand larceny.
Bistro tab boost An employee at the Corner Bistro, at 331 W. Fourth St., at Jane St. near Eighth Ave., made up additional charges on customer receipts and pocketed the balance, police said. The incident occurred on Mon., Nov. 6, shortly after noon. Video of the alleged act was available. The suspect was said to have taken $151. Luis Rubio, 57, was arrested for misdemeanor petit larceny.
Tabia C. Robinson and Lincoln Anderson
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November 30, 2017
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR ‘Can’t make this up’
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To The Editor: Re “Trumped-up dorm rally used hired actors” (news article, Nov. 23): Singer shows his true colors yet again. He even wouldn’t pay his partners. Thirty thousand dollars a month paid by others for him to manage that? No wonder he hasn’t done anything legal there. That explains it all. And that Temple Carr and crew...egads. It is to laugh. Have they no shame? In cahoots with this ilk? Sure, the sales of war-torn mines’ gold and silver pay for obliviousness. Trump’s phonies, a guy jailed for bribery, Gregg Singer, a terrible tapas restaurateur, a jeweler of the 1 percent — you can’t make this stuff up. Only here. Act swiftly, de Blasio. Linda Trujilla
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‘You’d be shocked’ To The Editor: Re “Trumped-up dorm rally used hired actors” (news article, Nov. 23): When the full extent of the city’s illegal obstruction in violation of existing zoning and building laws is known, New Yorkers will be shocked at the level of political corruption. Gregg Singer
‘Just negate the sale’ Call 718-260-2516 or e-mail email@example.com
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To The Editor: Re “Trumped-up dorm rally used hired actors” (news article, Nov. 23): About time The Villager had a really good and properly researched investigative news article on this subject, going further than the Daily Snooze, which, in an act not seen in decades, actually broke a story like this one. It’s funny how Singer whines about not being able
to do what he pleases with this formerly city-owned building, but fails to reveal the terms by which he acquired this property under a sweet, unheard-of deal, with assistance by then-City Councilmember Antonio Pagan and his bunk buddy Mayor Giuliani. That would be shocking to most New Yorkers, wouldn’t it, Gregg? By rights, the city of New York should negate the sale of this property, returning to Mr. Singer only what he paid for it, or use eminent domain to restore this property to the community, for which it was built. The city has the power to do either. What is it waiting for? The really sick part about all of this is, as Singer sits on this blighted property, allowing it to rot away for 20 years, this property, in the current insanely hyperinflated real estate market, only continues to increase in value. I suppose that Singer stubbornly figures he can simply wait us all out: politicians, community groups, neighbors opposed to his plans, etc. But he has figured wrong. Chris Flash
‘Make it happen, Mayor!’ To The Editor: Re “Trumped-up dorm rally used hired actors” (news article, Nov. 23): So Singer is paying himself $30,000 a month to hold this beautiful old building hostage, blighting the block for 19 years and thumbing his nose at the community? That’s a pretty sweet gig. But the neighborhood desperately needs space for schools and the arts, and that building is a civic treasure. Take it back, fi x it up, put it to work for the community again. Dude’s been sitting on that golden egg long enough. His investors (I bet they include some of his handful of actual neighborhood supporters) will have to take a haircut. Make it happen, Mayor! Thanks, Rosie and all who have been fighting the good fight on this for years. Matthew Arnold
LETTERS continued on p. 20
Sorry for what they did...or sorry they got caught?! 10
November 30, 2017
A minute of infinity at Yayoi Kusama show
GALLERY SEEN BY BOB KR ASNER
hat’s it worth to spend one minute in infinity? At the moment, one can go to The Broad in Los Angeles, where the Yayoi Kusama exhibit that recently broke records at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., has taken up residence. But even if you’re going to be in the neighborhood, advance tickets for the big draw — the six Infinity Rooms — are already completely sold out at $25. (A handful of standby tickets are available each day for $30.) So what is one to do if the plan is to emulate Katy Perry and Adele, with an Infinity Room selfie on Instagram? Well, we’ve got good news. And bad news. You can head over to the David Zwirner Gallery, at 525 and 533 W. 19th St., where two of the 88-yearold artist’s mirrored wonders are on display as part of the two-gallery extravaganza entitled “Festival of Life.” It’s free and no advance tickets are required. That’s the good news. There’s something of a wait to get in (here’s the bad news) — at least three hours — and that’s on a weekday. Reports from the first Saturday, Nov. 3, mentioned a line that took more than four hours to reach the finish line. The gallery reports that on the previous night, at the opening, 1,265 people — some of whom got in line at 3 p.m. for the 6 p.m. start time — saw the exhibit. Zwirner graciously extended the viewing time an hour past the original 8 p.m. ending in order to accommodate the line. It’s hard to describe how it feels to stand inside Kusama’s creation, a small room made with mirrors and filled with silver balls that seems to go on forever — but that’s possibly because the experience is over so quickly. Exactly 60 seconds after you are let in, you are ushered out again. The second work is one that you peer into through a small round hole, with lights that frequently change patterns, color and luminosity. Both are unique, dazzling experiences that leave one wishing there were more time to take it all in. A third room is a sculpture installation, also a brief experience. You can take all the time you want, however, in the adjoining gallery, where 76 large paintings literally fill the walls. It is a testament to Kusama’s seemingly endless supply of ideas and her love of art. It is worth taking the time (maybe while you are on line) to read up on the artist’s life story. The Chelsea exhibit runs through Dec. 16. While the Japanese artist goes to her studio pretty much every day, her residence is apparently a home for the mentally ill, which she voluntarily checked herself in to around 40 years ago. Although she was unable to attend the opening, she welcomes the daily updates on attendance and press notices sent to her by the gallery. So, is the seemingly infi nite wait worth it for the very finite experience? Well, it’s the only way that you’re going to get that selfie. There is another show of her paintings at the David Zwirner location Uptown. For more information, visit davidzwirner.com . TheVillager.com
PHOTO BY BOB KRASNER
The writer comes face to face with his selfie in one of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinit y Rooms — entitled “Longing for Eternity” — in Chelsea. November 30, 2017
Pols: Hotel would be hell on Merchantâ€™s House BY REBECCA FIORE
ity Councilmember Rosie Mendez gathered with other local politicians on Nov. 13 to call for protecting the Merchantâ€™s House Museum from any potential damage from a new hotel set to share a wall with the 185-year-old landmarked building. In April 2014, the cityâ€™s Landmarks Preservation Commission, by a six-toone vote, approved a construction plan for the eight-story hotel at the adjacent site. There is currently a one-story building on the site, at 27 E. Fourth St., that is used for storing food carts, Mendez said. She proposed possibly buying the property back from the developer, Constantine Fotos, to protect the museum and use the additional space for offices for the museum. Fotos could not immediately be reached for contact. Currently, Mendez said, the museumâ€™s offices are on the third floor of the building, at 29 E. Fourth St. â€œThe hope would be that if the Merchantâ€™s House could purchase the onestory structure from the owner and developer, then those original rooms of the 1800s could be restored,â€? she said. â€œThey are occupying rooms that could be on display,â€? she added of the museumâ€™s current offices. The Merchantâ€™s House Museum was the first building in New York City to be
designated a landmark under the 1965 Landmarks Law. It is one of 117 buildings in New York City that have both exterior and interior landmark status, and it is the only historic-house museum in Greenwich Village, Soho and Noho. It has more than 100 pieces of furniture, dating from 1815 to 1880, close to 70 lighting fixtures, ranging from oil lamps to gas chandeliers, and 40 dresses worn by the original ladies of the house. â€œItâ€™s a rare existing example of mid1800s New York with all the personal properties,â€? Assemblymember Deborah Glick said. â€œItâ€™s unique. Thatâ€™s why it was designated not just an external but an internal landmark. We should take those designations far more seriously.â€? Mendez said if the developer does not want to sell the adjacent property, then a more thorough protection plan for the museum is needed. She said she wasnâ€™t satisfied with the current plan in place. â€œWe never thought it was sufficient,â€? she said. â€œIf this project moves forward, it will be irreparable damage to the Merchantâ€™s House.â€? In 1987, a developer bulldozed buildings just east of the Merchantâ€™s House Museum, causing so much damage to the historic structure that the museum was forced to close for two and a half years. The repairs cost nearly $1 million, according to the museumâ€™s Web site.
VILLAGER FILE PHOTO
Politicians, the Merchantâ€™s House Museum staff and local preser vationists all say construction on the proper t y to the west of the museum, currently home to a one-stor y building, would surely wreak havoc on the nearly 200-year-old buildingâ€™s original ornate plaster work.
November 30, 2017
â€œEngineers engaged by the Merchantâ€™s House showed that it could cause enough damage to close the museum and enormous costs to move the contents of the museum to repair a wall thatâ€™s already been cracked,â€? state Senator Brad Hoylman said, fearing history could repeat itself. â€œWe think the developer needs to talk to an architect in conjunction with the Merchantâ€™s House to see the best way of proceeding.â€? According to the museumâ€™s Web site, there is no question that the building will be damaged during construction. â€œIf our building shifts a mere onefourth an inch â€” as anticipated by the developers, and the maximum allowed by law â€” our original and irreplaceable 1832 ornamental plasterwork, considered the finest extant in New York city and a national treasure, will suffer damage.â€? Glick said she does not think common ground can be found between the developer and the museum, and said she was disappointed in L.P.C.â€™s decision to approve the development. â€œI donâ€™t believe any construction could possibly be built to protect this
crucial landmark,â€? she said. â€œItâ€™s also a shame on the Landmarks Preservation Committee to proceed with construction that could threaten the building.â€? When asked about the possibility of putting up a hotel without damaging the museum, Hoylman said, â€œWe are operating without a lot of information. The developers came up with a plan to save the Merchantâ€™s House but we donâ€™t think itâ€™s good enough. It needs extreme vetting. Given the potential for irreversible damage, I donâ€™t see how one proceeds with the hotel. I donâ€™t know how it can be done safely.â€? Mendez said the next move is a meeting with the Mayorâ€™s Office that will include her, Glick, Hoylman, City Councilmember-elect Carlina Rivera, the Merchantâ€™s House Museum, Friends of the Merchantâ€™s House Museum, and Andrew Chang, a community board liaison from Manhattan Borough Presidentâ€™s Gale Brewerâ€™s Office. â€œWe are looking to the City Hall to join us in this effort of utmost importance,â€? Hoylman said. â€œWe are talking about the potential damage or loss of one of our oldest buildings.â€? TheVillager.com
Richard Hambleton, 65, Downtown’s ‘Shadowman’
OBITUARY BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
rtist Richard Hambleton, known as “The Shadowman” for the hundreds of featureless dark figures he painted on Downtown’s streets in the 1980s, died at the end of last month. He was 65. Kristine Woodward, vice president and co-owner of the Woodward Gallery, on Eldridge St., which worked with Hambleton for two decades, said the artist died at a friend’s apartment on the Lower East Side. Hambleton suffered from skin cancer and had battled heroin addiction, but his cause of death wasn’t immediately known. Originally from Canada, Hambleton started having an impact on New York City in the ’80s, when he was colleagues with Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. One of Hambleton’s “Shadowman” works is currently featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition on Club 57, the seminal St. Mark’s Place East Village “art scene” nightclub of the late 1970s and early ’80s. Hambleton is also the focus of a new documentary, “Shadowman,” by Oren Jacoby, that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, which will be released in the Village at the Quad Cinema on Dec. 1. Known by some as “the godfather of street art,” Hambleton was a conceptual artist who wanted to evoke reactions from his work. For his “public-art social experiment,” as Kristine Woodward, called it, Hambleton set out to paint 450 black silhouette figures on New York City building walls, “from the South Bronx to the South Ferry.” “He continued this Nightlife Project in 26 cities worldwide,” she said in an e-mail to The Villager, “with 17 ‘Shadowman’ figures painted directly on the east side of the Berlin Wall. “When he embarked on the Nightlife series of ‘Shadowman’ figures, he understood that the New York City Downtown social scene was important,” Woodward noted. “He quickly became friends with Arturo Vega, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Renee Ricard, Joey Ramone, David Wojnarowicz, Keith Haring. “He was a very attractive, blueeyed, Canadian young man,” she said. “He conversed and dressed very well, smooth operator. He attended the Mudd Club, C.B.G.B.’s, Club 57, Paradise Garage, Palladium, ABC No Rio, Save the Robots. “Richard’s deal would be to show up and leave — ‘The Shadowman’…hard to pin down…elusive, mercurial. The ‘Shadowman’ figures were created at night. Nobody knew who did them.” Before the series of faceless figures, TheVillager.com
A canvas with one of Richard Hambleton’s “Shadowman” ar t works.
PHOTO BY CLAYTON PATTERSON
Richard Hambleton, here in happier times, went through periods where he was in the public eye and then spells when he dropped out of the ar t scene.
Hambleton also did a different series in 10 cities called “I Only Have Eyes for You.” These featured an image of the artist in “a Napoleonic pose,” as Woodward put it, with one hand tucked inside his jacket and crazed eyes. According to Woodward, the images in the “Eyes” series were produced by black-line printing, a process similar to blueprinting, which results in the entire image fading uniformly over a threemonth period. Printed on paper that stretched when moistened to conform to the wall’s texture, it left behind what looked like a “white shadow” of a standing figure. “Richard already was a legend when he left the West Coast and Vancouver before he even arrived in New York City,” Woodward added. “Because of his Image Mass Murder Project, his reputation preceded him.” For the Image Mass Murder Project, Hambleton had painted crime-scenelike outlines of bodies in white paint on sidewalks, adding touches of red paint to look like blood. Also in the early ’80s, after the “Shadowman” project, Hambleton did a series of paintings based on the Marlboro Man and rodeo riders. “He was a smoker,” Woodward noted. “He appropriated the physical ad
and painted over the Marlboro Man in shadow. It was cultural commentary of the romance and perceived macho charisma of the cowboy. He would keep the surgeon general’s warning labels in his Marlboro artwork. “From there,” Woodward continued, “he largely embarked on studio work, from the Marlboro to horse-and-rider series to ‘Shadowman’ canvases and ‘Shadow Head’ portraits to wave paintings — like ocean or seascapes — then landscapes in gorgeous colors with shiny gold and silver leaf known as ‘The Beautiful Paintings.’ ” However, according to an obituary in The New York Times, in the early 1990s, with Haring and Basquiat both having died, Hambleton began to withdraw from the art scene. He had come to distrust the galleries, and his drug use continued while his skin cancer worsened. The Beautiful Paintings were presented at Woodward Gallery in 2007 and eventually at the art gallery at Rockefeller State Park Preserve, as well as the Four Seasons restaurant. “This would be the beginning of the revival of Hambleton’s career,” Woodward said. “He was ‘coming out of the shadows.’ ” Hambleton lived and worked at nu-
merous Downtown locations over the years, including a garage at E. Second St. and Avenue B, Essex and Eldridge Sts., and various places on Orchard, Rivington and Chrystie Sts., Broadway and Bleecker St. The Times said that he was frequently evicted from apartments. Woodward and her husband, John Woodward, the eponymous gallery’s director, found studios and lodging for the artist and cooked for him, while Kristine, a nurse, tended to his many medical needs, according to the Times. “We put Hambleton in hotels for lodging all throughout Downtown, including at the Trump Soho — pre-Trump presidency,” Kristine Woodward wrote in her e-mail to The Villager. Woodward said that, as Hambleton’s skin cancer progressed, “Richard lost his entire face, and one of his eyes was closed in the end. He needed the heroin to help with pain control.” Through his struggles over the years, he remained dedicated to his art. “Richard Hambleton lived to paint,” she said. “We never met anyone who was more committed to create. He was always out of the box, a nonconformist. Despite having many dedicated patrons over the years, Richard would sell or trade his paintings — primarily his ‘Shadow Head’ portraits — from his studios in order to survive.” In the last decade of his life, Hambleton had several important solo exhibitions, including a retrospective, “Richard Hambleton New York,” sponsored by Giorgio Armani. Woodward Gallery has mounted solo exhibitions of Hambleton’s art since 2007. “No one actually represented Richard in the formal sense,” Woodward noted, “as Richard was his own spokesman.” November 30, 2017
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
November 30, 2017
phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.
Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-
haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.
Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and
chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at
a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.
Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.
‘Beanstalk’ meets burlesque Beloved English holiday show comes to America BY TRAV S.D. In a time when the US and the UK seem to share all manner of pop stars, hit musicals, movies, TV shows, comedians and best-selling authors, it may be a surprise to learn that there has been at least one uncrackable nut when it comes to the transatlantic cross-fertilization of cultural product — the Christmas Pantomime, or Panto. This centuriesold English theatrical form is a much-beloved annual holiday tradition in the Mother Country and many of her former colonies (and quite different, it must quickly be pointed out, from the muchreviled silent clowning we know in the States as “mime”). For a brief time in the mid-19th century, Panto was popular in New York City, thanks to a beloved comedian named George L. Fox. After Fox passed from the scene, though, so did the Panto as a popular pastime in America. Until 2017. Starting December 6, audiences will have a rare chance to be entertained by this enchanting import when “Jack and the Beanstalk” opens at Abrons Arts Center. And if the rarity of the occasion weren’t enough of an attraction, the show is adapted, produced, and directed by local showbiz royalty, the Beauty and the Beast themselves, husband and wife team Mat Fraser (“American Horror Story: Freak Show”) and international burlesque star and choreographer Julie Atlas Muz, with a cast that includes Downtown performance legends Dirty Martini, drag star Michael Lynch (here billed as Michael Johnnie Lynch), and comedian Matt Roper (best-known for his character Wilfredo). A major key to the appeal of Panto is that it speaks to both old and young. The shows are ostensibly for children (even very young ones), but with an added, coded layer only adults will appreciate. The stories are normally well-known fairy tales, with villains the audience is encouraged to boo and hiss at, heroes to cheer for, and lots of musical numbers, puppets, and animal costumes. At the same time, there are subtly transgressive elements, such as double entendres for the grown-ups to laugh at (but delivered so as to go over the children’s heads), and the gender-bending characters of the Pantomime Dame (a male in female drag, usually a well-known celebrity) and the Principal Boy (a female playing a young male). Some manifestations of these characters have made it to American shores. Australian drag comedian Dame Edna (Barry Humphries) is an outgrowth of the tradition and often stars in Pantos; and the stage and screen character Peter Pan is normally cast Photo by Don Spiro
BEANSTALK continued on p. 16 TheVillager.com
L to R: Jenni Gil as Jack, Michael Johnnie Lynch as Dame Delancey, and Matt Roper as Silly Simon.
November 30, 2017
BEANSTALK continued from p. 15
in the Principal Boy tradition (almost always played by a woman). “I grew up watching Panto,” said the English-born Fraser, who adapted the script from traditional sources. “Both of my parents are actors. I grew up seeing them perform in Pantos, and my stepmother is an expert on it. She’s quoted in several books. Doing a Panto has always been on my bucket list.” While Panto is thought of as a quintessentially British form of entertainment, Fraser and Muz quickly realized that a workable transplantation would require some adjustments. “Panto is primarily a celebration of your community,” explained Fraser. “In this production, our job has been to Americanize it.” “And to New Yorkify it,” added director Muz. “For the form to be as successful as it is in the UK you have to create the romantic feeling in the audience that this is their home.” Onstage jump ropes, basketballs, and fire hydrants help generate a native Lower East Side atmosphere. Many in the cast, including the producers and Jenni Gil (who plays the lead character Jack), live near Abrons Arts Center, or are the product of its arts programs, or both. “Jenni is the voice of the neighborhood,” said Muz. “The journey belongs to Jack.” In addition, an outsider perspective definitely forms a key element in how the show was conceived and cast. The name of the Fraser/Muz production company “ONEOFUS” references the 1932 horror movie “Freaks” (“We accept her! One of us! Gooble gobble, gooble gobble!”). Fraser may be the best-known disabled (his preferred term) performer in the world. Born with Thalidomide-induced phocomelia (manifested in his case in underdeveloped arms), he first made his name as a drummer in a number of rock bands, which naturally migrated into acting and variety entertainment. Fraser plays drums in the show (what would music hall gags be without rim shots?), and the cast also features short-statured actress Sarah Folkins. Dirty Martini, who plays the Good Fairy, is widely revered for being a pioneer in redefining popular conceptions of female beauty. People of color and LGBTQ performers are well-represented. And in Panto, there is the traditional element of cross-dressing, with Gill as Principal Boy in the role of Jack, and Michael Lynch as a hilarious Dame Delancey. “While we honor tradition, the form itself is kind of in the Dark Ages about
November 30, 2017
Photo by Laura Vogel
Julie Atlas Muz directs “Jack and the Beanstalk” and writer Mat Fraser’s adaptation shows much affection for its Lower East Side setting.
Photo by Don Spiro
Dirty Martini as the Good Fairy and Hawthorn Albatross III as Dastardly Dick.
what men and women do in the story,” Fraser elaborated. “But we didn’t want a world where a woman just gets rescued. This is the post-“Frozen” era. So Jack and his love interest Rosie (Christina Duryea) are equal warriors in our version. And it’s all about collective action. The whole community chops down the beanstalk.” If the words burlesque, drag, and sideshow give you pause in this context, the producers are quick to point out that they’re all branches of the same theatrical family — ones with more similarities than differences. Matt Roper, who plays Silly Simon, is like Fraser, now a second-generation Panto performer (his father was British comedian George Roper). He brings a tone of sweetness and innocence to his performance, which is, as Fraser points out, the key to successful Panto. And a chorus of talented local kids are part of the 22-person cast. “What shines most brightly is the joy of childhood,” said Muz. “That’s the most important element in this.” Previews: Wed.–Fri., Dec. 6–8 at 7:30pm and Sat., Dec. 9 at 2pm & 7:30pm. Opening Sun. Dec. 10 at 2pm. Regular performances Dec. 14–16 & 20–23 at 7:30pm; Dec. 16, 17, 23 at 2pm. At Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand St., btw. Pitt & Willett Sts.). For tickets ($25–$45), call 212-352-3101 or visit abronsartscenter.org. TheVillager.com
Present Tense? These gifts will put that in the past BY SCOTT STIFFLER
THE PENN SOUTH CERAMICS STUIDO HOLIDAY SALE In our modern if somewhat impersonal world of prepaid gift cards, nothing says you truly care quite like a present that’s been made by hand. But what if your clumsy lobster claws aren’t even remotely capable of creating something that special person on your “Nice” list will actually want to look at before they’ve had their morning coffee? To the rescue comes this annual event, featuring rows and shelves stocked with bowls, plates, vases, mugs, votives, platters, and jewelry — all one-of-a-kind items made by the students and instructors of Penn South Ceramics Studio. Bonus gift: Pick up a brochure while browsing on behalf of others, and return to the studio in 2018 to take a class. By this time next year, your work could be the one with a price tag on it. All thumbs and not interested? No pressure. Those classes also make great gifts. Sat., Dec. 9 and Sun., Dec. 10, 11am– 6pm in the Penn South Ceramics Studio (in Building 6B, 276 Ninth Ave., at the northeast corner of W. 26th St.). For more info, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE ARChive OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC’S HOLIDAY RECORD & CD SALE The praises we sing about the ARChive of Contemporary Music might sound like a broken record — but you’ll find no nicks, scratches, or skips on the vinyl for sale at this fundraiser for the renowned Downtown not-for-profit, whose collection of popular music sound recordings currently numbers in the three-milliongive-or-take range. This library and research center collects, preserves, and provides information on popular music all the way from 1950 to the very day you’re reading this (and, yes, beyond). With the inevitable duplicate recordings taking up valuable space, the ARChive is opening its doors (normally accessible only to scholars and industry) for two weeks. From Dec. 2 through 17, don’t miss your chance to score deals (steals, realTheVillager.com
Photo by Kristen Felicetti
The West Village Chorale’s Dec. 10 concert makes a great early gift.
ly) on over 30,000 items. Many of the CDs are new donations from record companies and collectors, so no worries about returning them due to defects. Prices start at $3 for the new stuff, and many of the CDs will come home with you for just a buck (“cheaper than downloading,” the ARChive staff notes). Also on tap are 78s, jazz music in all format, Blues and Latin LPs, picture discs, music books and magazines, DVDs, and kid-friendly LPs — because you’re never too early to become an obsessed collector! Dec. 2–17, daily, 11am–6pm. At the ARChive of Contemporary Music ground floor office at 54 White St. (3 blocks south of Canal St., btw. Broadway & Church St.). Call 212-226-6967 or visit arcmusic.org.
THE WEST VILLAGE CHORALE’S HOLIDAY CONCERT For that friend of yours — and you know who they are — who will only end up opening their gift early if it just sits there under the tree day after day, surprise them with a ticket to the West Village Chorale’s seasonal concert. This year’s theme is “Christmas Carols Old and New.” Musical Director Dr. Colin
Britt is at the podium to conduct (baton in hand, we hope, because we like to get our money’s worth). Longtime Chorale pianist Elena Belli is joined by the Calliope Brass quintet, harpist Adan Vasquez, and cellist David Lasher. Selections include Benjamin Britten’s “A Ceremony of Carols” and a musical version of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Plenty of sing-along carols are also part of this program — and the nonsectarian, independent chorus has another great event in store, as if Dec. 10’s annual concert weren’t reason enough to sing its praises. On Dec. 17, the Greenwich Village Caroling
Walk continues a tradition started in 1974. Fanning out in groups from the Meeting Room of Judson Memorial Church, you’ll stroll through the most charming parts of the Village while singing seasonal carols and songs. It’s a free event, but donations are gladly accepted. The Holiday Concert happens Sun., Dec. 10, 5pm at Judson Memorial Church (55 Washington Square South, at Thompson St.). Tickets are $25 in advance, $10 for students with ID. At the door, $30, $15 for students with ID. Order at brownpapertickets.com/ event/3150109. Visit westvillagechorale. org.
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
Bread and Puppet Theater Our Domestic Insurrection Circus and The Honey Let's Go Home Opera Great for Children! Opens December 7 Children 2 and under FREE!
Histrionics by Michael Patrick Flanagan Smith and Ben Forstenzer A new Play about the Worst President So Far Opens November 30th Tickets only $15.00
By Marvalee Peart Five orphans, a flight attendant, an ex-con… and the prince of darkness... will any one survive the spirit of Christmas? 12/7-12/24 $18.00
November 30, 2017
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November 30, 2017
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November 30, 2017
Letters to The Editor LETTERS continued from p. 10
Very onboard with ferries
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To The Editor: Re “C.B. 2 floats idea: Increase ferries along the West Side” (news article, Nov. 23): Older ferries can emit unwanted levels of air pollution. However, all new ferries must have low-pollution (Tier 3) engines, which are now powering the recently built citywide ferry fleet. Fortunately, there is no black smoke. Just like other methods of transportation, ferries are getting cleaner. More surface traffic would reduce alreadyslow speeds on Route 9A and probably add more pollution. Ferries will actually benefit children by giving them awareness of, and access to, our waterways. Many will become users (swim, kayak, sail), stewards and advocates for this incredible natural resource. Tom Fox
Degenerate Donald, ugh To The Editor: Of course the fake president is going to support an accused child molester like Roy Moore. He is, after all, a degenerate himself. Jerry Wade a.k.a. Jerry The Peddler
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CALL for more info 718-260-2516 PUBLIC NOTICE Looking for the wife of Andre Sass. Andres Sass’ date of birth October 26, 1967, date of death May 07, 2010. Pleas call Alona Agaeva at 718-530-4210 TV: 11/16 & 11/30/2017
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November 30, 2017
Pier 40 report: More sports ﬁelds; Be careful PIER continued from p. 8
given potential community opposition to a project of this scale, especially in the context of serious concerns about the advisability of building grand projects on piers as waters rise.”
Impact and heights Previous requests for proposals, or R.F.P.’s, for Pier 40 resulted in proposals with allowable uses — such as retail and entertainment — but were opposed by the community for being too “high impact” on the pier and surrounding area. As a result, believing it would be a more low-impact use, the Trust is now pushing to amend the park act to allow commercial offices at Pier 40, the report notes. “But commercial offices were excluded as incompatible in the [original] act because of concern about tall buildings and privatization of use,” the report says. “Those concerns remain. ...” Eighty-one percent of respondents to the working group’s e-survey said they were concerned about allowing tall buildings in the park. Forty-two percent said more open space at Pier 40 was essential or very important to them, even if it meant having taller buildings there. But 35 percent said it was essential or very important to them not to increase building heights in the park. Forty-three percent of survey respondents oppose allowing commercial office development at Pier 40 (although, due to another 2013 amendment to the park act, Google will have offices at Pier 57 in Chelsea).
Longer leases According to the working group, the Trust also will be pushing to extend the length of the allowable lease at Pier 40, which would also require an amendment to the park legislation. Currently, leases at the W. Houston St. pier are limited to 30-year terms. The Trust is reportedly arguing that that length is “insufficient to support the required investment for office development,” and so the authority hopes to increase the lease lengths there up to 99 years. However, the working group warned that longer leases would increase the “possessory interest” of a developer over the pier while also possibly encouraging larger projects, since they would “enable higher levels of fi nancing.” In short, according to the draft report, “The [e-mailed] survey showed a continued high level of public concern about privatization.” The draft report lays out, not necessarily in order of importance, 21 “findings” about the future of Pier 40.
November 30, 2017
FILE PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
The Greenwich Village Little League A’s, from a younger division, marched onto Pier 40 at the league’s opening-day parade a few years ago.
‘Put park first’ First, it states that any R.F.P. that the Trust issues for the pier “must start with recognition that the income generation is secondary to protection and enhancement of park uses, as mandated in the park act.” Also, any change to the Hudson River Park Act to allow for commercial office use at Pier 40 “would need to be balanced by changes that maximize public open space and assure its public control.” In other words, “Areas of commercial use must be strictly defi ned to protect the park use and character from privatization,” the report states.
‘Any increase to building heights will require a proposal with great sensitivity to the community’s concerns.’
‘Don’t max out’ In a key point, the group’s draft report urges that not all of the pier’s existing unused development rights be used. Factoring in the 100,000 square feet of air rights that will be transferred to the St. John’s project, Pier 40 still has an additional 380,000 square feet of unused air rights left. As for the currently “used” air rights on the pier, its existing three-story “donut”-shaped pier-shed structure encloses roughly 760,000 square feet of space.
“While some commercial office use may be compatible with the goals of the park,” the C.B. 2 working group report states, “full use of the currently available development rights [at Pier 40] may not be ‘practicable’ because of incompatibility of the intensity of the use or the scale of required buildings. …[T]here is no law or regulation suggesting that the Trust will have full access to floor area currently allowed
by zoning. … [T]he Trust should anticipate the likely need to reduce the total amount of commercial use in a park setting to win public support for zoning changes.”
Ensure safe access The working group also feels that, if commercial uses are increased on Pier 40, a separate entrance for the increased commercial traffic must be created to keep pedestrians safe. “Safe access to and use of the park is more important than revenue from commercial use,” their report stresses. The report also notes that any future building at Pier 40 should be sited to protect the park and river from shadow impacts and, as required by the park act, provide view corridors from cross streets to the river. Currently, Pier 40 — like Chelsea Piers — does not provide any river view corridors, since its pier shed rings the whole structure.
Add more fields The draft report also advocates that even more space for playing fields be PIER continued on p. 27 TheVillager.com
about raising heights PIER continued from p. 22
created at the W. Houston St. â€œsports pier,â€? noting the fields are used mostly by neighborhood families, schools and leagues. â€œThe large size of Pier 40 offers a unique opportunity to increase the amount of space for sports fields serving all the large and growing communities adjacent to Hudson River Park,â€? the report states. â€œSubstantially increasing space for fields is essential for the growing number of families with children in these neighborhoods and for nearby schools that lack sufficient sports facilities. If the [pierâ€™s] current building is not retained, any redevelopment at Pier 40 should include substantial increase to the number of fields and also add opportunities for indoor recreation to respond to the growing unmet need for youth sports facilities.â€? The working group notes that more space for sports fields could also be identified further north in the park. â€œGansevoort Peninsula [between Little W. 12th and Gansevoort Sts.] will be primarily for passive uses, but could still include fields for younger children,â€? the report adds. â€œPier 76 [at W. 36th St.] may be another opportunity to build fields within the park.â€?
Dog runs, too The report further recommends that Pier 40 â€œshould support a mix of park uses,â€? including passive use, with river views, playgrounds, dog runs and more. But it stresses, â€œBecause ball fields are too large to be located elsewhere and the boathouse depends on access to the protected cove created by the pier, these uses should be prioritized at Pier 40.â€?
nut.â€?) Efforts also should be made so that what would likely be a years-long development project at Pier 40 does not significantly impact use of its sports fields or the boathouse, the report adds, noting that youth sports are an essential part of the areaâ€™s â€œquality of life.â€?
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Height anxiety As for potentially increasing the height of structures at Pier 40, the report cautions, â€œTaller buildings at Pier 40 will change the character of the Hudson River waterfront and may cast too many shadows on the park and the river. There are currently no buildings exceeding two stories on the west side of Route 9A [West Side Highway] north of Chambers St. â€Ś There is a long and consistent history of objection to extending the Manhattan height context to the river.â€? The report notes that, â€œparadoxically,â€? 73 percent of survey respondents want more open space [for recreational uses] at Pier 40, even if it results in taller buildings, while 62 percent of respondents think buildings should stay at the current height, even if it means no new open spaces. â€œIn any case,â€? the report continues, â€œthe determinant of building height should be based on the overall impact on the park and adjacent neighborhoods, not solely commercial considerations. â€œThe response of neighbors to taller buildings is impossible to know outside the context of a specific proposal, but any increase to building heights will require a proposal with a high degree of sensitivity to the overall needs and concerns of the entire community.â€?
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R.F.P. next year
In addition, monthly and hourly parking should be preserved at the Lower West Side pier, and parking has a strong constituency, the group says. â€œBecause it has low value per square foot, parking consumes lots of space, but it is a relatively passive use, and its elimination may be disruptive and may generate opposition to a [development] proposal, and therefore needs to be carefully considered,â€? the report notes. Putting recreational and sports uses on the rooftop of a new development at Pier 40 needs careful consideration, due to the strong winds on the Hudson River; and measures to mitigate the wind would be needed, the report says. On the other hand, the rooftop would be a good spot to add indoor sports uses, the group says. (Currently, the pierâ€™s main sports-field area is protected from the riverâ€™s strong winds since it is ringed by the pier-shed â€œdough-
As for a â€œspecific proposalâ€? for Pier 40, the Trust wonâ€™t issue an R.F.P. until it knows how its effort to amend the park act in Albany turns out. The state Legislature doesnâ€™t go back into session until January, so nothing will happen until after then. According to a source, the Trust would, thus, likely issue an R.F.P. sometime between February and June. Finally, speaking of wind on the Hudson, and Mother Nature, in general, the C.B. 2 working groupâ€™s draft report also says the design of Pier 40 â€œshould prioritize green architecture and flood resiliency and if possible use wind and sun to generate power. One way to build green is to reuse,â€? the report notes, â€œso the Trust should not discourage proposals that retain parts of the existing [two-story pier-shed] structure while removing [other] parts to create openness to the river.â€?
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November 30, 2017
Thanks to their groundbreaking procedure, I can hear again. Unfortunately, every single word he says.
November 30, 2017
November 30, 2017