INSIDE: Elizabeth St. housing plan revealed; Comic takes the Fifth in WikiLeaks ‘Russiagate’ probe; ‘Heavy metal’ hell — living amid lead dust in East Village walk-up renovation; Clinton e-mail director to youth: ‘Run for Something’!
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December 14, 2017 • $1.00 Volume 87 • Number 50
Heavy-metal hell: Mom and daughter choking on lead dust BY REBECCA FIORE
olly Slayton’s doctor recommended that she and her daughter wear dust masks inside their East Village apartment because of all the lead dust that has accumulated from unsafe construction practices in her building. Slayton and her daughter, Maya
Chance, 9, have been living under dangerous conditions for more than two years, with landlords creating unbearable living environments to get rid of tenants, Slayton said. The tenant said she has had a continuous cough that’s so bad some of the blood vessels under LEAD continued on p. 7
Wait for it… Stand-up comic takes the Fifth in ‘Russiagate’ probe BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
t’s probably been a line he frequently riffed on during his political-comedy routines over the years. Now, Randy Credico — who has found himself embroiled in Congress’s “Russiagate” probe — himself is taking the Fifth. This Tuesday, Credico’s at-
torney Martin Stolar wrote to the House Committee on Intelligence, stating his client would “assert the protections of the 5th Amendment to the Constitution and decline to answer any questions beyond personal pedigree.” The committee’s senior CREDICO continued on p. 2
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Garden suppor ters rallied Monday, including, from left, Chris Mar te, Scott Stringer, Emily Hellstrom, Jeannine Kiely, Terri Cude, Joseph Reiver and Yuh-Line Niou.
Trouble in paradise; Eliz. plan is unveiled BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
s expected, the de Blasio administration cagily waited until after the election to announce the winning development plan for the Elizabeth St. Garden. The contentious garden issue was nearly the undoing of two-term Councilmember Margaret Chin, who barely hung on to win the Sept. 12 Democratic primary by 222 votes versus young upstart
Times Square terror scare......p. 6
Christopher Marte. Last week, it was reported that the winner of the request for proposals, or R.F.P., for the Elizabeth St. project was a group including Pennrose Properties, Habitat for Humanity NYC and RiseBoro, a nonprofit formerly known as the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council. It had raised eyebrows that also in the running for the job was Asian Americans for Equality, an organization co-
founded and formerly led by Chin, the housing project’s main sponsor. The garden sports two community groups — one that currently operates it, and another that got bumped from running it but still remains active in advocating for its preservation. One group is preparing to file suit against the city while the other is considering suing. “Right now, we are getting GARDEN continued on p. 8
L.E.S. People’s Credit Union sues Trump...........p. 7 Clinton e-mail guru: ‘Run for Something’.........p. 11 www.TheVillager.com
Comedian takes the Fifth in ‘Russiagate’ probe CREDICO continued from p. 1
counsel promptly e-mailed Stolar back that since Credico would be pleading the Fifth, he didn’t need to appear in Washington this Friday, to give a deposition before the committee, as had been previously scheduled. The next step, Stolar said, is for the committee either just to “drop it,” and not question Credico, or grant him immunity from self-incrimination and call him in. Credico was recently outed by G.O.P. operative Roger Stone as the so-called “intermediary” between Stone and WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange. During last year’s presidential campaign, Stone, claiming insider information, had hinted that John Podesta would be skewered by WikiLeaks, which did, in fact, go on to post the Hillary Clinton campaign chairperson’s e-mails for the world to see. Stone had claimed he had a “back channel” connection to Assange. After going before the Intel Committee, Stone initially refused to name Credico, but subsequently, upon threat of subpoena, gave him up. The committee then asked Credico to testify before them. He refused, and they subpoenaed him. To refuse a subpoena is contempt of Congress, which Stolar said is not something Credico
December 14, 2017
COURTESY RANDY CREDICO
Randy Credico, left, during his New York City mayoral campaign in 2013, marching with a banner in suppor t of Bradley Manning at the Pride March. Manning, who was imprisoned for leaking U.S. militar y information to WikiLeaks, later under went sex-change surger y and took the name Chelsea.
wants to do. Credico’s connection to both men is that they both were guests on his WBAI radio show. More recently, he visited Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, in September and then again
in November. “I only met him eight weeks ago,” Credico recently told The Villager of Assange. Stolar stressed he does not want Credico’s testimony to be used against him, or for his client somehow to wind up inadvertently perjuring himself. “I don’t want to open him up to someone else saying, ‘That’s a lie,’ ” Stolar said, adding he would not expect Credico to put himself in a position to lie. “He’s a political gadfly,” Stolar said of the stand-up comic, left-wing activist, fringe political candidate and, more recently, radio journalist. “I’m sure Jeff Sessions has him on his radar,” Stolar added of the U.S. attorney general. Specifically, he said, Credico’s association with Assange is the issue because the WikiLeaks founder is “radioactive.” “Stone’s not under indictment himself,” Stolar explained. “Julian Assange is. He’s under indictment. They want him badly,” he said of the U.S. government. “Anyone who touches him is radioactive.” Who knows? Things could come down to Assange challenging Credico’s credibility, Stolar noted. Also, he added, “Trump and his attorney general are not particularly akin to the truth. They certainly make me paranoid — and they should make everyone paranoid, including my client.” In addition, the attorney said, as far as the feds are concerned, Credico “could be considered some kind of accessory” to Assange’s actions. Beyond that, even if Credico is granted immunity, there is the question of what he would actually agree to share. “What they are interested in, presum-
ably, are conversations he had that were not broadcast,” Stolar said of exchanges Credico and Assange may have had off microphone. “I would like to think there’s privilege,” Stolar asserted, referring to a reporter’s right to shield his or her notes or conversations with sources and interview subjects. “It’s called ‘use immunity,’” Stolar said. “This is Randy operating as a radio journalist here. They want him to testify under oath — and we’re not going to do that without a fight. … You choose not to publish something, it stays in your notebook or in your head,” he said, giving the example of a newspaper reporter. More to the point, Stolar said, “I don’t know where this investigation is going. If they want to go ahead and indict Randy with something — go ahead, do it. But they’re not going to do it with his own work. “Anyone could become a target,” the attorney added. “This committee has a very broad mandate to investigate a lot of things. I don’t know if they’re bullshitting or if they’re serious.” Separately, former F.B.I Director Robert Mueller is also leading an investigation into alleged Russian intervention into the presidential election. “He’s a fine, upstanding citizen,” Stolar asserted of Credico. “If Randy breaks the law, it’s because he chose to do some act of civil disobedience.” Meanwhile, Credico, though he has been limiting his interviews lately, spoke to The Villager Tuesday evening after he had been sprung from jury duty in New York. He wasn’t put on a case. He was driving around Brooklyn in a car borrowed from a friend, and possibly headed out to Nathan’s for a hot dog or Junior’s for some cheesecake. A recovering substance abuser, he also noted at one point, that one thing he didn’t want to pick up was a beer. “They’d never put me on a jury, not with my politics,” he claimed. “Unless there’s a video of someone killing his wife, I couldn’t put anyone in prison, particularly on a drug charge.” As for going before the Intel Committee, he admitted that perjury was indeed a concern of his. “Everyone says it’s about Roger Stone,” he said. “But I could go in there with my big mouth and easily get tripped. You see these people getting tripped on perjury. I’m an old man, I’m in my 60s,” he said, implying that he could have a mental lapse. What he does not like, though, he said, are Internet “trolls” who are now going to say he has something to hide. He said he followed the advice of Stolar, his pro-bono attorney, and a committee of a handful of other lawyers, who all advised him to take the Fifth. Asked if he had planned to do any of CREDICO continued on p. 12 TheVillager.com
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PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
The former incinerator, known as the Gansevoor t Destructor, that was later a Depar tment of Sanitation garage, is being demolished at Gansevoor t Peninsula to help clear the way for the site to be redeveloped into a park.
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December 14, 2017
s anyone who is passing by Gansevoort Peninsula on the Hudson River bikeway or lives within sight of it knows, the hulking former garbagetruck garage there clearly is being demolished. What is less clear is whether the peninsula, slated to be redeveloped into a park, will eventually also be home to a marine transfer station for recyclable municipal garbage. And that question could impact the process of designing a park there. Before it was a garage, the structure now being wrecked was a smoke-belching
incinerator that burned municipal waste. The peninsula is the only remnant of when Manhattan, in the 1830s, was extended with landfill out to a 13th Ave. that ran from Bloomfield St. on Gansevoort Peninsula up to W. 29th St. In the early 20th century, the landfill was cut back to allow longer ships to dock at the Hudson River piers. Gansevoort Peninsula, though, was preserved because it was the site of the bustling West Washington Market, a sprawling outdoor farmers’ market. Now, in its latest transformation, the nearly 6-acre peninsula is set to be remade into a park as part of the 4.5-mile-long Hudson River Park. But getting the gar-
bage trucks off the pier first was a challenge. To force the city to vacate the peninsula, the Friends of Hudson River Park, formerly the park’s main watchdog group, sued and achieved a settlement in 2005. Under the agreement, the Department of Sanitation was to leave the peninsula by 2013 and pay escalating fines to the Hudson River Park Trust, the park’s state-city operating authority, for every year it failed to vacate. In addition, the city agreed to pay the Trust $21.5 million for using Gansevoort and also Pier 97, at W. 57th St., for Sanitation GANSEVOORT continued on p. 18
Credit Union vs. Trump ‘power grab’ BY REBECCA FIORE
he Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union is suing President Donald Trump and White House employee Mick Mulvaney, who Trump recently — and illegally, according to the credit union — appointed director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The C.F.P.B. is an independent government agency created in response to the 2008 financial crisis and recession. In 2010, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The law’s purpose is to protect Americans from unfair and abusive financial practices, such as overcharging people with high-interest-rate loans. According to the Dodd-Frank Act, the president, “with the advice and consent of the Senate,” appoints the director of C.F.B.P. Additionally, the bureau’s deputy director, appointed by the director, takes
over as acting director in the “absence or unavailability of the director.” The bureau’s former director, Richard Cordray, announced his resignation Nov. 24. Deputy Director Leandra English was appointed as acting director that same day, until Trump appointed Mulvaney a few hours later, according to court papers. Illan Maazel, a partner at the law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, who filed the lawsuit Monday on behalf of the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union, said this is a case about maintaining the rule of law. “It’s just an illegal power grab,” he said. “It’s unlawful, it’s unprecedented and Mr. Mulvaney should not be in that role. Trump, through Mulvaney, will be controlling the agency that is supposed to be independent of Trump.” Mulvaney, who has previously called the agency a “sick, sad joke,” is also the current director of the Office of Manage-
ment and Budget. On. Nov. 28 a federal judge denied English’s request to block the president’s appointee. English has since appealed. Linda Levy, C.E.O. of the L.E.S.P.F.C.U., said they are asking for Trump to remove Mulvaney and allow English to take charge. “For people who are strong consumer activists, there was a lot of dismay,” Levy said. “People were unhappy because Mulvaney had been on record already saying he didn’t believe in the agency, that he didn’t think it should be in existence.” Levy said this counters the purpose of the C.F.P.B. and that Mulvaney is an atwill employee of the president. “He has to do what the president asks him to do,” she said. “It is in our interest to have C.F.B.P. protect all of us,” attorney Maazel said. “We don’t want to go back to 2008.” TheVillager.com
POLICE BLOTTER Leighana Silvestro, 21, was arrested Mon., Dec. 4, for felony grand larceny.
Threatens to shoot Two co-workers got into an argument, apparently at a Meatpacking District construction site, on Wed., Dec. 6, early in the day. According to police, one of the men returned to 52 Gansevoort St., at 2:12 p.m. and pointed a loaded firearm at the 28-year-old man he was arguing with saying, “I told you I was going to kill you. You think this is a game?” The suspect was disarmed by other co-workers and was apprehended by police while trying to flee. The firearm was recovered at the scene. Terrence K. Graham, 35, was arrested for felony possession of a weapon. The address is the former location of the Gansevoort Market in the “Gansevoort Row” development project. Gansevoort Market has relocated to 353 W. 14th St.
Anthony assault A man was assaulted trying to leave The Anthony nightclub, at 183 Bleecker St., on Tues., Oct. 24, at 2:30 a.m., police said. The 31-year-old male victim was struck in the head from behind with an unknown object. He told police he ran down the block and got into a taxi and went to Beth Israel Hospital. He had a cut on the left side of his face. Surveillance video from two cameras was available at the scene. Edward Ortiz, 37, was arrested Thurs., Dec. 7, for felony assault.
Jane bag grab
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
The Budweiser Clydesdales, who debuted on Dec. 5, 1933, to celebrate Prohibition’s end, were on Bleecker St. this Dec. 5 to mark the occasion’s 84th anniversar y. Obviously, though, not the same horses! But the rig had its wooden cases of “Bud,” its uniformed drivers and a Dalmatian mascot, as usual.
Le Souk sack swipe A woman was heading up to the second floor at Le Souk restaurant and lounge, at 510 Laguardia Place, on Sat., Oct. 7, when she became victim to a grand larceny, according to police. The incident happened at 12:30 a.m. As the 22-yearold victim was making a phone call, probably on a cell phone, she stepped away from her bag and the suspect took it with all of the items in it, totaling $4,497.
A woman put her bag down at The Jane hotel, at 113 Jane St., to dance with friends last early Friday and when she returned, it was missing. The incident happened on Nov. 10, at 3 a.m. Upon further investigation, the victim realized that there were two unauthorized transactions on her bank card totaling $160. All together, the value of the property stolen was $849. Jessica Nuñez, 31, was arrested for felony grand larceny on Thurs., Dec. 7.
Lobby ‘mugger’ bust Police reported an arrest on Dec. 8 in the mugging of a 32-year-old woman in her building lobby near Grove and Bedford Sts., on Sat., Dec. 2, at 11 p.m. In the incident, police said an unidentified male approached the victim from behind, demanded her property and forcibly removed her handbag, before fleeing. The bag was later thrown on the ground and recovered with all its contents. Pursuant to an ongoing investigation, Marshall Coleman, 47, of Vernon Boulevard in Queens, was arrested.
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December 14, 2017
Terror bomb luckily a dud; Commuters carry on BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC AND LINCOLN ANDERSON
n explosion of what police called a “low-tech” pipe bomb in a tunnel connecting the Port Authority and Times Square early Monday morning sent a shock through the city and a ripple of panic through one of the world’s busiest transit hubs. Downtowners were awakened shortly after the blast to the blare of sirens and the beat of helicopters overhead as first responders raced Uptown. Akayed Ullah, 27, was arrested for detonating the bomb around 7:20 a.m. in the underground walkway that connects the Eighth Ave. IND subway lines with the I.R.T. lines at Times Square and the 42nd St. Shuttle. Luckily, the device malfunctioned, averting what might have been numerous deaths and injuries. At a press briefing, Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the device was strapped to Ullah’s body with Velcro and zip ties, and that, in transit video, the suspect is seen walking down the corridor. Besides the suspect, three people had minor injuries. Two took themselves to Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, and one to Mt. Sinai Queens. Ullah, meanwhile, sustained serious injuries to his hands and abdomen when he detonated the device, and was taken to Bellevue Hospital. Mayor Bill de Blasio called it an “attempted terrorist attack.” “Let’s be clear,” he said. “As New Yorkers, our lives revolve around the subways. When we hear of an attack on the subway, it’s incredibly unsettling.” Governor Andrew Cuomo said Ullah was a “lone wolf” terrorist, not connected to a local cell. Ullah, originally from Bangladesh, has lived here for seven years, and resides in Flatlands, Brooklyn. Neighbors said he kept to himself. News reports said he made the bomb himself based on instructions he found online, and that it included Christmas lights. It was reported that Port Authority Officer Anthony Manferdini, a former Marine with bomb-technician experience, saw the wounded Ullah reaching for a cell phone, which could have been a detonator, but stopped him from reaching it. There were wires running down his pant legs. According to a law-enforcement source who spoke to CNN, Ullah “was upset, in his words, with the ‘incursion into Gaza.’ ” Last week, President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, sparking outrage in parts of the Arab world. Over the weekend, there were Israeli airstrikes against Hamas in Gaza, CNN reported. The New York Post reported that Ullah was angry at what he called decades of violence in Syria, Iraq and Gaza, and say-
December 14, 2017
PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN MILES
On Monday morning, a heavily armed police officer helped maintain the perimeter around the evacuated Por t Authority bus terminal as the crime-scene investigation continued.
ing, “I wanted to damage here.” The Daily News reported that Ullah told “authorities his attack was in the name of the Islamic State,” and that he had been reading ISIS materials online, along with Inspire, the Englishlanguage version of the magazine by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Among the magazine’s twisted articles is “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.” However, after his arrest, Ullah stressed he was loyal to ISIS not Al Qaeda. According to the Post, Ullah was compelled to intentionally detonate the bomb in the tunnel after becoming enraged at seeing cheery Christmas ads on its walls. Recently released ISIS propaganda shows a picture of Santa Claus in Times Square next to explosives and the phrase “We meet at Christmas in New York...soon.” After the bomb went off, NYC Transit responded quickly, and “immediately shut down” the A, C and E lines, Joe Lhota, chairperson of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said. The 1, 2, 3, N, Q, R, W and 7 trains were skipping Times Square-42nd St. in both directions, but now have resumed making the station stop with delays. The A, C and E were still bypassing the 42nd St.-Port Authority Bus Terminal stop. Lhota said all trains would be back to normal by evening rush hour. Initially, police also shut down major crosstown streets, including 14th St., so emergency vehicles could move about unimpeded.
NYC TAXI AND LIMOUSINE COMMISSION
Akayed Ullah had an NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission black-car license from March 2012 to March 2015.
Although the attack sent a frisson of fear through the city, it didn’t totally derail the morning commute. Three hours after the bomb blast, straphangers were busy bustling in and out of the IND subway station at Eighth Ave. and W. 14th St. “People are in the system,” an NYC Transit worker said as he emerged from the stairs at the southwest corner, on his way to buy a coffee from a nearby vendor’s cart. “People don’t stop,” he said. “It’s
New York City. It’s just a blip on the screen,” he said of the incident. Frank Kulbaski, 51, a lawyer at PayPal’s West Village office, watched TV news reports on the blast before heading in to work from Long Island City, Queens. “The chance of getting hurt is like the chance of winning the lottery — and I haven’t had any luck with the lottery,” he shrugged. Instead of taking the 7 train and then switching to the I.R.T. at 42nd St., as usual, he instead hiked over to Court Square and took the E train all the way to 14th St. “It made my commute much longer,” he said, “but I got to work.” A woman smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk before going into the subway said the morning’s events were shaking up her plans since she had to go all over the city. “I’m modifying everything,” she said. “I’m a dog walker, so I’m modifying everything.” She noted she was a third-generation Villager — “There are still some of us around!” she quipped — but didn’t want to give her name. Two young tourists, Vincent Schablinski, 25, from Germany, and Claire Jean, 23, from Canada, had just bought a $5 arepa at an open-air sidewalk cooking operation on the corner. After Jean had taken some souvenir shots of him chowing it down, they were ready to hop into the subway. Asked if they were frightened by what had happened, they said, no. “The city is so big,” Schablinski said while polishing off the arepa, “that [if] it happens to you or me — the risk is really low, actually nothing.” They were staying at the Dream Downtown hotel in the Meatpacking District and, clearly undaunted, were heading up to take a look at yet another major transit terminal, Grand Central Station. De Blasio said there would be an expanded police presence Monday and that police were working to secure all major transit hubs. However, there didn’t appear to be any police posted inside at the south end of the 14th St. and Eight Ave. station Monday morning around 10:30 a.m. “This is most resilient place on Earth. We’ve proven it time and time again,” de Blasio said. “We’ve proved it just over a month ago. We proved it on 9/11. We are going to prove it again today. The terrorists will not win. We are going keep being New Yorkers.” Monday’s blast comes on the heels of the attack in Tribeca on Oct. 31 when Sayfullo Saipov, another disgruntled lone-wolf ISIS-loving terrorist, drove a truck onto the Hudson River bikeway at W. Houston St., killing eight and injuring 11. He was arrested at the scene. TheVillager.com
Lead dust weighing on tenants amid renovation LEAD continued from p. 1
her eyes popped. Her daughter has had upper-respiratory issues due to the lead dust coating the inside of the five-story walk-up, her mother said. Slayton has lived on the top floor of 514 E. 12th St. for the past 14 years. She used to have a store at 510 E. 12th St., owned by the same landlord, but after 14 years, she was kicked out. She said the storefront is still empty. The building was formerly owned by Raphael Toledano. Currently, Madison Realty Capital owns it, and construction that the company has led has not been up to code, Slayton charged. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s lead exposure-standard is anything equal to or more than 40 micrograms of lead in dust per square foot on floors, and 250 micrograms of lead dust per square foot on interior windowsills (a high risk area for children). In some areas of the building, the lead levels were twice the E.P.A. standard, with findings of 82 micrograms of lead in dust per square foot on the floors, according to documents from the city’s Department of Health, provided by Slayton to The Villager. “They don’t mop up afterward,” she said of the construction workers. “They leave the dust there for a like a week or so and we are breathing that in. Dust was coming up through the floorboards. All five girls in the building were sick.” She said inspectors from the D.O.H. Healthy Homes unit have visited the building three times. She said only 10 of the 20 units are occupied and only five of the original tenants are left. “It’s like a bad movie or something,” Slayton said. “But we are rent-stabilized tenants, where else are we going to go? We are living like squatters.” Brandon Kielbasa, director of organizing and policy at the Cooper Square Committee — a nonprofit focused on affordable-housing preservation and development in the East Village and Lower East Side — said some of the most aggressive landlords they see are the ones doing a lot of reckless construction, which often leads to lead contamination in the buildings. “They are trying to make these affordable units into luxury apartments and they want to do it as fast as possible,” he said. “The tenants who stay on have to fight and are exposed to toxic lead and other elements. They are viewed as an obstacle for making a profit and not a human being living in a building that’s a dangerous construction zone.” Matthew Chachere, an attorney for Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, who has been working on lead-paint litigation for the past quartercentury, said the issue is not the laws but their lack of enforcement. According to Chachere, the law states that if an apartment becomes vacant, the owner has to permanently abate lead TheVillager.com
A photo taken this past summer of a public hallway in Holly Slay ton’s E. 12th St. building shows plastic sheeting that does not properly seal doors to apar tments undergoing renovation, allowing leadpaint dust to leak out into the building.
paint on high-risk surfaces. Additionally, for apartments housing children under the age of 6, landlords must inspect the apartment at least once a year for lead-based paint hazards. They must document the findings, with an E.P.A.licensed-firm certification in writing and give it to the tenants, who can then hold onto it for 10 years. While the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, or Local Law 1 of 2004, states landlords found guilty would be charged with a misdemeanor and either a fine of $500 or six months in prison, Chachere said there isn’t enough enforcement. “Why obey the law if no one will come after you?” he asked. He also criticized the press’s coverage of lead poisoning, saying that often public housing is the focus of news coverage, when in fact it’s pre-1960 homes, like many of the ones in the East Village, that are the most dangerous. A 2016 D.O.H. report found 4,928 children under the age of 6 with blood lead levels of 5 mcg/dL (the national reference level) or higher throughout the city. Additionally, 82 percent of children with blood-lead levels of 15 mcg/dL or higher were black, Latino or Asian, the report found. “Children are not miniature adults,” Chachere said. “Their metabolisms are different. Their brains are at a different developmental stage. Their behaviors are different.” He added that often little kids use their hands and mouth to make sense of the world around them. In their early
years, they spend a lot of their time on the ground, crawling around. “The part that gets under my skin is that when you have someone who is injured because of lead, the damage is often irrevocable,” Kielbasa said. “The damage is permanently done.” Lead poisoning in the bloodstream can damage red blood cells and cause anemia. Lead that ends up in the bones can interfere with the absorption of calcium, which bones needs to grow strong. There can also be other long-term effects, such as damage to the nervous system, speech and language problems, developmental delays and even seizures. Kielbasa also said that the contractors who are often day laborers are also acutely exposed to this lead. On the other hand, he said, “The person at the top — the landlord, the developer and the bank — they are all completely insulated and away from that.” Beyond the lead issue and the psychological stress this has added, Slayton has been dealing with mice running around the building, contractors working all hours of the night making noise and banging on doors, and workers welding without permits. On top of all that, she and her daughter have had to live for weeks without heat or hot water. “When the contractors were there, they were partying and screaming, staying after hours, stealing packages,” she
said. “They don’t even notify us when they are coming in and doing work so we can protect ourselves. You can’t even be relaxed in your own home.” SaMi Chester, housing organizer at the Cooper Square Committee, said Madison Realty Capital has been taking its time addressing Slayton and other tenants’ concerns. “They are trying to get rent-stabilized people out of the building,” he said. “They are really using everything they can in their playbook to empty that building. A lot of their responses are very apathetic: a lot of phone calls and e-mails that make no sense. It’s another harassment tactic to drive people into apathy.” The only solution Kielbasa, Chachere and Chester could offer was there’s power in numbers. Joining forces with the remaining tenants, forming an association and pushing back collectively are the best forms of protection. “Call 311 and complain,” Chachere said. “Tell them you are concerned and that you have a young child in the dwelling. Tell them the owner is doing construction and you are worried about lead. Call your councilmember, state senator and mayor. There’s a mechanism in place for this but unless people complain about it, it’s not going to happen.” Phone calls and e-mails to Madison Capital Realty requesting comment were not returned by press time.
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Trouble in paradise as housing plan is unveiled GARDEN continued from p. 1
ready to file and fight,” said Joseph Reiver, executive director of Elizabeth Street Garden, Inc., which has operated the garden since this past spring. Meanwhile, Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden, which ran the space for the previous several years, is not ruling out a lawsuit, yet it wasn’t clear if they would seek to join onto a suit by E.S.G. or file one separately. “We never said we weren’t going to sue,” Jeannine Kiely, the group’s founder, said. “We said we’re going to keep working.” Although the two garden groups have feuded in the past, they are in agreement that the most important thing now is to save the garden. Dubbed Haven Green, the project would include 121 apartments for seniors, plus 7,600 square feet of open space. (The project’s R.F.P. originally mandated preserving only 5,000 square feet of the 20,000-square-foot lot as open space.) A plan description on the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s Web site describes the residential units as “deeply affordable and energy-efficient senior apartments…for affordable to extremely low, very lowand low-income seniors.” The Daily News reported that the apartments would be permanently affordable and open to seniors earning incomes between $20,040 and $40,080 a year. Rents would range from about $331 to $761 per month, on an incomebased sliding scale. Thirty-seven of the units would be slated for formerly homeless seniors. The building would also serve as Habitat NYC’s new headquarters. In addition, the plan calls for SAGE, an organization serving the senior L.G.B.T. community, to have an office on the building’s main floor, where a SAGE representative would provide care. As for what would remain of the garden, according to the H.P.D. Web site, “The public space design seeks to recreate many of the existing features and layout of the site...including passive spaces, sculptures and art pieces, lawns, diverse plantings, space for gardening and open seating. The new space will maintain flexibility and be further developed by the community through an upcoming participatory design process.” Habitat NYC would maintain the garden. The lot’s Mott St. side would remain open space, while there would be a passageway through the building from Elizabeth St. connecting to the open space. Chin was reported saying she hoped the plan’s opponents would change their view — and help design the new park area. “We invite them to come in and work
December 14, 2017
CURTIS + GINSBERG ARCHITECTS
A design rendering shows plans for a new development of senior affordable housing and open space at the site of the Elizabeth Street Garden. The garden would be accessible from Elizabeth St. thorugh a passageway, at left, under the building.
with us to create this beautiful space that everyone in our community, the whole entire community, will be able to share,” she said. However, the opposition isn’t bending and, in fact, has just picked up another politician — Congressmember Nydia Velazquez — who signed onto a joint statement, released on Friday, with other local elected officials against the plan. Other signers, in addition to Velazquez, included new state Senator Brian Kavanagh (who was sworn into office Dec. 6), Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Letitia James, state Senator Brad Hoylman, and Assemblymembers Yuh-Line Niou and Deborah Glick, along with Terri Cude, chairperson of Community Board 2. “The city’s decision to build housing at Elizabeth St. Garden is both unfortunate and a great disappointment,” the politicians and Cude wrote. “We oppose this development proposal. Lower Manhattan needs both more affordable housing and more open space, and we reject as false the idea that we must choose between these two vital community needs.” Two years ago, Tobi Bergman, thenchairperson of C.B. 2, identified — and the full board of C.B. 2 subsequently approved his idea — an alternative site for the affordable housing, a vacant lot at Hudson and Clarkson Sts., where the city had drilled a shaft down to the new City Water Tunnel No. 3. Bergman stressed that up to five times more housing units could be constructed at this site versus at Elizabeth St. However, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chin have refused to shift the housing project to the alternative site — and only gallingly responded by saying the Hudson St. site could be used to build even more af-
fordable housing. Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden hastily scheduled a press conference on Mon., Dec. 11, on the City Hall steps to protest the administration’s continued push to develop the Little Italy / Soho site in the face of overwhelming community and political opposition. Joseph Reiver of E.S.G. and his group were there, too, along with Stringer, James — both of them potential mayoral candidates in 2020 — Kavanagh and Niou. The next day, Chin held a rally at City Hall with members of SAGE and senior-housing advocates, saying why the housing project is needed. This past April, Reiver’s E.S.G. took over control of the garden’s operation from F.E.S.G. and announced it intended to sue the city to block the housing plan. At that point, the leaders of F.E.S.G. had been hesitant to commit to joining the lawsuit as its lead plaintiff, prompting the split. Joseph Reiver, the leader of the new garden group, is the son of Allan Reiver, who originally developed the garden — with the community’s approval — in 1991 on the site of a former trashstrewn lot. Allan Reiver laid down real grass and filled the space with statues and architectural pieces, creating a truly unique setting. He has been leasing the lot from the city for $4,000 a month ever since. “This fight is not over,” Joseph Reiver said after the city announced the developer. “We will continue to pursue all options, including Elizabeth Street Garden’s legal action. We urge the public not to be deceived by the fancy developer renderings and to see the truth of the matter; that the administration, the mayor and Councilmember Margaret Chin have continuously ignored our community’s outcry. “They have ignored the thousands of
letters and signatures in support of protecting and preserving the garden in its entirety,” he said. “They have ignored C.B. 2’s four resolutions, and they have ignored a true win-win outcome — where they could build more affordable housing on the alternative sites provided by our community.” Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden also issued a statement about the news, saying, “Friends is actively consulting with attorneys and has developed a very strong legal strategy, but we cannot comment further at this time. This important piece of city-owned land has been exclusively in public use for almost two centuries. “In 1981, the city promised the garden site entirely for recreational use when it sold 68 percent of the former school site for affordable housing at 21 Spring St. Instead of destroying a beautiful and heavily used open space, the city should allocate its scarce housing resources to ensuring that these 152 units of Section 8 housing at 21 Spring St. remain affordable when the current program expires in 2023.” F.E.S.G. was referring to the Little Italy Restoration Apartments, or LIRA, affordable-housing complex, which was built on the spot of a former public school. The current garden space was the school’s playground and basketball courts. The 1981 “promise” she referred to was a formal land-disposition agreement. Kiely, the F.E.S.G. founder, slammed the design renderings that the city is releasing, saying they create the illusion of more open space than the project would really have. “The perspectives are deceptive and misleading,” she said. “The depth of field has been deceptively manipulated.” GARDEN continued on p. 9 TheVillager.com
for Elizabeth St. Garden; Lawsuit being readied GARDEN continued from p. 8
F.E.S.G. also released a shadow study showing how the natural sunlight that currently floods the garden would be blocked by the new housing. This would result, the Friends said, in â€œa small and heavily shaded privately owned public space on Mott St.â€? Marte, the former City Council candidate, also issued a strong statement in solidarity with the gardenâ€™s supporters. â€œWe have been belittled and told that our coalition of children who want to play outside, and seniors that want to chat in the shade of a tree, is not strong enough,â€? he said. â€œBut we saw a referendum when over 65 percent of the neighborhood voted in last monthâ€™s election for an opportunity to save our open space.â€? Marte was referring to the general election for City Council District 1, in which Chin â€” even after being entrenched in office for eight years â€” did not win even a simple majority of the vote. â€œOur solution is clear and nondivisive,â€? he stated. â€œBlocks away from the garden is an empty gravel lot. It serves no one, and houses nothing but the trash piled by its gate. Blocks away from a health center,â€? he noted, referring to the VillageCare senior rehab faculty on W. Houston St., â€œand an affordable
CURTIS + GINSBERG ARCHITECTS
A design rendering shows open space on Mott St. that would be preser ved in a new senior affordable housing development planned at the current site of the Elizabeth Street Garden.
grocery store, and capable of hosting up to five times as many units, this is the home we need for our seniors.â€? E.S.G. and F.E.S.G. have somewhat different visions of how the garden should operate in the future, should it be saved. Joseph Reiver said, ideally, his group would like to see the garden owned by a nonprofit under the oversight of a community land trust. Two events for $10,000 per month would be held there, such as weddings, to raise money for the gardenâ€™s ongoing maintenance, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the garden, he said.
F.E.S.G., on the other hand, preferably, would like the property to become mapped as permanent parkland. Reiver explained that if the space were to become city parkland, they would not be able to keep all of its sculptures, which is what makes the space â€œmagical.â€? However, Kiely said her group would also be open to the option of having the space preserved under a community land trust. A third scenario, Reiver said, is for it to become a Greenthumb garden space. But Kiely noted that not all Greenthumb
spaces are permanent parkland, such as is the case with the LaGuardia Corner Gardens at Bleecker St. Both Reiver and Kiely stressed, however, that the main thing right now is saving the garden, and that the mechanism of how the place might be operated down the road would be hashed out later. In 2012, the Elizabeth St. lot was quietly earmarked for affordable housing by Chin and former Mayor Mike Bloomberg as a stealth add-on to the Seward Park Urban Renewal project on the Lower East Side â€” even though the two sites are in different community boards and there had been no public review of the plan for Elizabeth St. C.B. 2 was only notified after the fact. Local residents soon realized the nowthreatened statue-filled lot â€” which Allan Reiver most often left closed to the public due to liability issues since he had no one to staff it â€” was, in fact, city-owned property. They created the Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden both to program the space and fight for its preservation as permanent parkland. With Allan Reiverâ€™s cooperation, the Friends opened the garden up to public use, and it has become a vital resource that the community has been doggedly fighting to save ever since, with the support of nearly every local politician â€” except, that is, for Chin and de Blasio.
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December 14, 2017
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR High on The Villager
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To The Editor: Re “High Line hates artists, but court rules for us” (talking point, by Robert Lederman, Dec. 7): I want to thank you for publishing my talking point, as well as the more than 20 years of coverage you’ve given to the street-artist controversy. You do a great job and The Villager is a paper I’ve read every single week for all those years. Absolutely best coverage of Downtown politics and events. Keep up the great work! Robert Lederman Ledeman is president, A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists’ Response to Illegal State Tactics)
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To The Editor: City sidewalks, busy sidewalks Everyone’s dressed in Canada Goose parkas In the air, there’s a feeling of remorse. ... Why? Because Canada Goose clothing company is not only trapping and killing coyotes to make its $900-to$1,695 parkas, which can be seen all over New York City this time of year, it’s trapping customers with its lies about its “ethical” use of animals, and profiting greatly from it. The Toronto-based company claims it’s doing a public service by slaughtering coyotes, asserting that in many parts of North America coyotes are considered pests. But coyotes are not pests. They are intelligent, social and emotional creatures, not to mention close relatives of our beloved canine pets. In addition to putting ghastly coyote collars on its garments, Canada Goose fills them with down, misleading customers by touting its Canada Goose Down Transparency Standard, which would have them believe it cares about geese and ducks because its down is a byproduct from the poultry industry, not from live-plucked or forcefed birds. To process living, feeling birds into food, the poultry industry relies on high-volume production, with birds treated the way companies would handle any object in an assembly line. Producers often mutilate animals to make them easier to manage in a group. The truth is, Canada Goose is getting away with murder. No amount of “standards” can ever prevent the animal
cruelty inherent in the poultry and trapping industries. There are plenty of cold-weather materials just as warm as a Canada Goose jacket, but without the cruelty. Priscilla Feral Feral is president, Friends of Animals
We need gardens and parks To The Editor: Re “Elizabeth housing plan unveiled; Garden group set to sue” (news article, Dec. 7): When I lived in Greenwich Village in the late ’90s, there were about seven small parks the size of this one that were pretty much just asphalt. They have since been renovated and trees and other plant life restored. They make wonderful places to walk to, sit for a while, breathe relatively fresh air then return home. It makes living there so much nicer now. Donnie Moder
Trumpeting Trump’s latest To The Editor: Finally, Donald kept to his promise, as I gladly voted for him. No regrets as the wife of the primary sex pervert lost, lost, lost. Now the anti-Semites climb out of their dens, their nests, the woodwork, the toilet and are unhappy about Donald recognizing the true, lasting capital of Israel. On talk radio, Jews, even those rotten Jews, complain that recognizing Jerusalem will cause violence...and it will endanger the “peace” process. Laughable, just laughable. Bravo to Donald Trump. The most recent president with balls — that is why he is hated. The little lefties are not as important as they think they are, as they are busy groping...Al, Harvey, Charlie, James, John, Bill et al. Hahahaha. Bert Zackim 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.
Santa Claus is visited by the politically correct patrol 10
December 14, 2017
Ex-Clinton staffer to youth: ‘Run for Something’
PEOPLE BY ZIQI LIN
ith a bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling water in one hand and a cup of Starbucks coffee in the other, Amanda Litman stepped into the New York University classroom, looking just like any other overcaffeinated college student. “I’m a mess today,” Litman, 27, said sheepishly, adding, “on most days.” Yet, this former Hillary for America campaign e-mail director is a newly published author and the founder of Run for Something, a political action committee that recruits and prepares potential Democratic candidates under age 35 to run for office. Driven by anger and exasperation at the 2016 presidential election results, Litman launched a political Web site on Inauguration Day with the goal of teaching young people how to run for office. The site blew up immediately. Within the first week, 1,000 people signed up. Ten months in, 11,000 have registered and her team has raised roughly $500,000. The PAC provides a four-part program, including community, mentorship, partnership and endorsements for aspiring political candidates. Litman’s book, “Run for Something: A Real-Talk Guide to Fixing The System” (Simon & Schuster, October 2017) outlines the nuts and bolts of how young progressives can win an election. Among the candidates who have been part of her program is Christopher Marte, who ran against third-termseeking incumbent Margaret Chin in the City Council District 1 Democratic primary and general election. Narrowly losing by around 200 votes to Chin in September, Marte ran again as an Independent in the November election but was unsuccessful. When he first ran for office, Marte said, there was no one to answer the most basic questions. So, having a book geared for young candidates will save them time and money, he said. “It’s crucial. The task of starting a campaign can seem overwhelming and scary,” Marte offered. “For most people, you don’t even know where to start. Having step-by-step guidelines can dismiss uncertainties.” Run for Something has also endorsed other local candidates, including Ronnie Cho, who ran in the Democratic primary for City Council District 2, with a focus on providing affordable housing and improving public schools. According to Litman, Run for Something has endorsed 125 candidates across 20 states, so far. Of these, 72 candidates were up for election in November and 31 won. Candidates that TheVillager.com
PHOTO BY DAVID MCGRAW
Amanda Litman wants young people to turn their fur y into action by running for elected office.
Litman’s organization endorses must be considered progressive — whatever that means in their local community.
‘Of course women should be in charge.’ Amanda Litman
“A progressive in New York is different from a progressive in Louisiana,” she noted. The candidates must be proL.G.B.T., pro-choice, pro-immigrant and pro-equality, though each candidate’s campaign emphasis may differ based on the state where he or she lives. Throughout the interview, Litman spoke with surprising candor, her language interlaced with occasional expletives. Her book, written in casual and forthright language, emodies the same honest and forthright approach. “It matters to speak like a real person because real people need to feel welcomed,” said Litman. She takes pride in her relatable demeanor and at times colorful speech, sharing that people have told her they liked “her voice.” “Probably everything you see in a Chuck Schumer tweet is not how I would like to communicate,” she said.
Holding a position in elected office or working in the White House holds no appeal to Litman right now. She is rushing full speed ahead with no plans to slow down, and enjoying it. “I don’t really want to work in the White House. It’s not fun,” she said. “Campaigns are fun because it is fastpaced, there are high stakes and you get to win and lose. Whereas the government is slow and boring.” Litman also belongs to the Millennial generation, comfortably fused to digital applications and multiple social-media channels. She communicates with her roughly 2,000-strong team of volunteers and candidates through the collaborative messaging application Slack All Day. She also considers answering e-mails promptly as her “superpower” and gets jittery when she is not clearing her inbox. Above all, Litman said that what she does everyday “doesn’t feel like work.” “I love what I do,” she said. “It’s like a f---ing joy every day to get to wake up and talk to people who care.” Raised in Fairfax, Virginia, Litman decided at age 14 that she wanted to work in politics. Though there was not much political discussion across the dinner table, Litman’s religion molded her career decision. She grew up in a Jewish community and deeply religious family. “Judaism has a really strong commitment to social justice,” she said, “and that was the part I liked.” Overachievement runs in her household, as her patent-lawyer father graduated university at age 15. Her brother is a travelling DJ at international music festivals. Her mother was the president of a synagogue when Litman was in high school, which may have contributed to her die-hard feminist mentality. “Of course women should be in charge,” Litman emphasized. “Of course.” Likewise, she’s now reading the book “I Hear She’s Real Bitch,” which she bought because of the title. It’s by famed Canadian restaurateur Jen Agg, who is seeking to upend the food industry’s patriarchal hierarchy. “Some people fall into politics,” Litman said. “For me, it was like, ‘This is what I was meant to do.’ ” She is fascinated by the relationship between government and the people. In her view, government interaction with our lives is all-encompassing, so there is no better way than politics to impact someone directly. Litman’s ultimate goal is to develop a progressive-leadership pipeline and discover a potential president from its expanding candidate pool. In her Twitter profile picture, she is holding up the last chapter of her book, with the caption, “Stop f---ing complaining and do something.” She is certainly living by her own words. December 14, 2017
Refinding my voice Comic takes the Fifth NOTEBOOK BY K ATE WALTER
t was the Friday after the terrorist attack on the Hudson River bike path and I was shaken up. When I got back from work, I felt exhausted and debated whether to attend the “Sing Time Sessions,” a weekly vocal workshop I’d recently joined at Westbeth. It’s a lot of fun, so I pushed myself to go downstairs to the community room. We’re working with a fantastic voice teacher, Eve Zanni — a neighbor in my artists’ complex — and a great piano player named Isaac Raz. After singing and doing vocal exercises for an hour, I felt rejuvenated. That Friday, Eve suggested we stand for the closing number, dedicated to the eight victims of the Oct. 31 attack. We all rose and burst into “We Shall Overcome.” I got choked up. I had forgotten how much I like singing and how good it makes me feel. No wonder Eve calls the group the Bliss Singers. In December we’ll be performing holiday tunes at events in the community room, including a Hanukkah song in Spanish.
My earliest memories of singing are in my father’s ’51 Chevy.
My earliest memories of singing are harmonizing with my family in my father’s ’51 Chevy as we rode to the Jersey Shore. My mother led the vocals while my father drove. We even did rounds like “Row, row, row your boat.” My father was an English teacher who played sax in a swing band, but his main instrument was piano. He gave me lessons in our living room on the upright piano from his childhood. We always gathered around the piano to croon Christmas carols as Dad played by ear. Whenever we’d visit my aunt’s house she’d knock out a manic version of “Our Lady of Fatima” on her spinet and we tried to keep up the pace. Music was a big part of my life growing up. During high school in the ’60s I sang in the glee club, run by this crazy nun who insisted we do “The Ballad of the Green Berets” in our spring concert. (Never mind that most of us opposed
December 14, 2017
the war.) I also was an alto in the schoolchurch choir. I loved Midnight Mass. We belted out “The First Noel” walking up the aisles with candles in the dark in church. I also sang in a smaller church choir with my sister. After I stopped piano lessons, I taught myself guitar and wrote protest ballads and performed in the high school talent show — the highlight of my senior year. I wanted to be a female Dylan. In the ’70s when I lived in a hippie house in New Jersey, we formed a group called the Rock Hill People’s Liberation Band. We practiced at night after dinner and played at parties with guests sitting in. We had guitars, bass, drums, piano, even a sax. We did a lot of Grateful Dead. Around that time, I became a rock reviewer for several publications and this continued for decades. I pushed the music writing after I moved to New York City in 1975 and my performing fell aside. I was more focused on writing about music than actually making it. I still have the guitar from the band in my loft in the Village. I also have an electric keyboard. I don’t play either very often. Now I’d like to get a ukulele. I dabble on the keyboard, trying to learn hymns we sing at Middle Collegiate Church in the East Village. Different than what I sang in the Catholic Church. The bulletin has the sheet music and I’m grateful I can read music so I can follow an unfamiliar hymn. I was pleased when I finally got “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the Negro national anthem. I love its sweeping range and quirky beat. But other than at church, I hadn’t raised my voice in song until I joined the Bliss Singers at Westbeth. I’m thrilled to be back in touch with singing. And hope to get back to playing. I had a horrible year in 2017. My mother died unexpectedly, and I got stuck with an awful schedule at my teaching job. Trump is still president and crazier than ever. Music has healing powers and this workshop was my reward for getting through another grueling week. We’re learning standards like “Blue Skies” by Berlin and Gershwin and pop classics like Carole King’s “Up on the Roof.” About 15 to 20 people show up every Friday to get our bliss on and start the weekend on a high note. When I leave the room, I feel elevated and recharged and ready to resist. “Sing Time Sessions” with voice teacher, Eve Zanni, Fridays 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., in the Westbeth Community Room, 55 Bethune St. Funded by a grant from Councilmember Corey Johnson’s Office and the Westbeth Artists Residents Council, the workshop is free and open to the public. No experience necessary.
CREDICO continued from p. 2
his impressions before the committee, he said, yes — probably Jack Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth!” speech from “A Few Good Men” or Jimmy Stewart’s famous one from “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Credico stressed it’s untrue he wanted Donald Trump to win the election. He has repeatedly said he supported Green Party candidate Jill Stein. “There is no way I would facilitate Trump’s victory,” he declared. “All the shit that this guy has done, I would not facilitate this guy’s victory.” Credico noted he was close with the late radical attorney Bill Kunstler, who defended the “Central Park Five” in the Central Park Jogger rape case in 1989. He lived in Kunstler’s Village home off and on for 20 years. Trump, of course, took out full-page ads in the city’s daily newspapers condemning the youths. Credico also recalled arriving in New York in 1980 and being outraged at Trump’s trying to move homeless people into one of his buildings on Central Park South to drive out rent-regulated tenants.
“I despise Trump more than anything,” Credico said. But John Penley, a former East Village activist who has been following the story closely, said he doesn’t buy it. “If Credico is so against Trump, Sessions and Company,” Penley said, “then why is he hanging out with Roger Stone and assisting Roger Stone in reaching Julian Assange, who has been assisting the Trump campaign to get Trump elected? Either he’s incredibly naive and stupid, or he wanted to help the Trump campaign. “It’s possible,” Penley added with a chuckle, “that Credico and Stone were smoking some really good pot that Randy got him and his mind may have been clouded by the marijuana.” Last week, The Villager reported that Stone — known as a big pot smoker — appeared with Credico at a comedy night at the Yippie Cafe on Bleecker St. in 2008, and a few days later tried to buy weed from the cafe’s Aron Kay. The “Yippie Pie Man” nixed him, saying, “I don’t know you.” Kay said he honestly thought it was dangerous to sell to someone he didn’t know.
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Comics of ‘The Mosquito’ ﬂy in the face of convention Nancy Giles and friends ﬁll Dixon Place lounge with laughter BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Finally, there is a mosquito you will not want to squash, but rather attend. “The Mosquito,” a variety show hosted by Nancy Giles at Dixon Place, is the antidote to Monday doldrums with its offering of laugh-out-loud-worthy comedic songs and stories. Where else can one find takes on Nazis, erasers and stink bugs, a meditation on buying moisturizer at Sephora, and a “come to Jesus moment,” as Giles put it, about the flood of sexual harassment allegations? The show this reporter went to was the same day that the story broke regarding Charlie Rose. Giles, an actress, commentator, and longtime contributor to CBS News Sunday Morning, gathered the other performers for the evening — Michael Huston, Cynthia Kaplan and Susan Burns — to discuss the accusations against Louis C.K., Al Franken, Harvey Weinstein, and Rose.
“I was obviously reading the article [about Rose]… another guy walking around in a robe,” Kaplan said, who then said her husband should never wear a hotel robe. Giles chimed in that the “Grand Poobah is a predator,” referring to our current president. “We’re living in troubled times,” Giles said, adding, “Bill Clinton, you are not off the hook.” Then, at the end, she quipped, “Clearly I was grasping at a monologue.” The show takes place monthly, Monday nights, in the lounge at Dixon Place — an intimate space whose smattering of tables and chairs were filled that Nov. 20 night, with a few people also seated at the bar. Giles started off by introducing the show’s “house band” and the “nicest musician I’ve ever met,” Carmen Borgia. Borgia played the ukulele, and Giles snapped along to his song about his baby writing him a letter, “a letter not an
email, not a tweet, [an expletive] letter.” Some in the audience clapped along and hit their knees to the rhythm. First up was Huston, who is also half of the sketch comedy duo Babes in the Woods. “This just happened. This was fun,” she began. Who knew there could be such trials and tribulations to get a specific moisturizer? Step by step, Huston takes the audience along with her as she attempts, twice, to buy something at Sephora that will not wash her out, with a saleswoman who, she says, “drags me over like a seeing eye dog” to the mirror. Finally, she achieves success at a CVS that has the product she has been searching for. “What a hellish couple of weeks,” she deadpans, ending the story. Before the next performer, Giles talked about being on the TV show “China Beach” in the late 1980s. The show, set during the Vietnam War, had the makeup artists spritz the actors before
filming. While the white actors looked good, she said, giving them a bit of color, Giles and another black actor looked like runaway slaves. Giles said some would say that bit is racist or bigoted. “But I lived it,” she noted, “so screw you.” There is an ongoing debate about whether there are topics that are taboo for comics — subjects that aren’t, or can’t, be funny. Kaplan, an essayist, musician, and comedian, belies that idea. Getting onstage, Kaplan introduced herself and her band, The Cynthia Kaplan Ordeal. (She was the only one onstage.) Her first song was “You’re the Nazi,” telling the audience, “…and, Jesus, I hope you like it.” Kaplan noted that if she hit a wrong chord, she was being ironic. The song listed good things that Nazis, such as Heinrich Himmler, did. THE MOSQUITO continued on p. 15
Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic
L to R: Cynthia Kaplan, Michael Huston, Nancy Giles and Susan Burns had an impromptu discussion about sexual harassment allegations. “House band” musician Carmen Borgia stands to the side.
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Photos by R. Patrick Alberty
L to R: Radiotheatre’s Frank Zilinyi, Caitlin Boyle, R. Patrick Alberty, Alejandro Cardozo, Annemarie Hagenaars and Sarah Walker.
No kitschy shtick for Hitchcock radio plays Festival founder says they’ll stick to solid storytelling BY TRAV S.D. Sometimes, the drive into the future involves a glance into the rearview mirror. For the past 14 years, Dan Bianchi, artistic director of Radiotheatre, has been presenting theatrical productions that mix state-of-the-art audio technology and one of the oldest art forms in the world: aural storytelling. Complex electronic sound design, which interweaves original musical scores and sound effects, supports live actors who read scripts that are designed to be listened to not as a nostalgic nod to the old time radio of the 1940s, but merely as an effective means of engaging an audience in imaginative narratives. Usually, Bianchi’s bailiwick is horror and science fiction. He’s presented adaptations of works by Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft and H.G. Wells, and has staged, five times, a version of the 1933 RKO classic “King Kong.” On Dec. 19 at St. John’s Lutheran Church, he unveils his latest: several adaptations of famous suspense films directed by
December 14, 2017
The Alfred Hitchcock Festival’s namesake looms large behind Dan Bianchi, artistic director of Radiotheatre.
Alfred Hitchcock. Bianchi is a longtime Off-Off Broadway veteran, having done his first shows in New York as early as 1971. He’s won the Beckett Prize (twice) and even gotten to work with the man himself, Samuel Beckett, at the Sorbonne. In the ’80s, with his troupe the Threepenny Theatre Company, he produced an award-winning musical about grave robbers Burke and Hare, and put on an epic spook show called “Shock Theatre” that attracted the attention of Broadway producers. But over time, conditions altered. “I used to produce large-scale shows with elaborate sets back in the ’80s,” said Bianchi, “but the economy got outrageous, and rents went up. Producers started doing shows that consisted of two people sitting around having conversations at a kitchen table or on a park bench. But I didn’t want to do that. I grew up with movies and have a background as a screenwriter. I see and think in cinematic terms: a raging river,
an intergalactic war. A radio format allows me to do that.” From the late 1920s through the late 1940s (roughly the two decades that preceded the advent of television), radio, including radio drama, was the reigning mode of home entertainment. Scripted radio shows were broadcast live from network studios, with actors reading their lines directly from scripts into microphones. In more recent decades, contemporary theatre groups have sometimes done campy recreations of the classic “Golden Age” radio productions, but according to Bianchi, his company has another approach. “We’re not into the old-time radio shtick,” said Bianchi. “I’m uninterested in creating a museum piece of the 1940s with period outfits and hairdos. In those kinds of presentations the star is usually the foley [sound effects] artist, and it usually creates a comedic effect. With the kind of suspenseful, horrific content HITCHCOCK FESTIVAL continued on p. 15 TheVillager.com
THE MOSQUITO continued from p. 13
Himmler, for instance, planted daisies. “There are some fine Nazis,” she sang. “Back the [expletive] off Nazis, okay?” And the chorus: “If you hate every Nazi, you’re the Nazi.” In her YouTube video of the song, before the music begins, there is President Donald Trump’s quote after violent clashes between white supremacists and neo-Nazis, and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past summer: “But you also had people who were very fine on both sides.” After the admonition to “stop persecuting Nazis” and finishing the ditty, Kaplan said she was “very proud” of it. Her next tune, “When God Was a Student at Notre Dame,” had the chorus “Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate? God” and encouraged the audience to sing along, which they did. Before Burns took the stage, Giles asked the audience if they wanted a story about death or her period. Unsurprisingly, death won. Giles then performed a short piece where she envisions what her funeral would be like. “I would want tears — lots of them,” she stated, along with sobs and fake cries. The scene: a packed house at a megachurch, where The Roots would be playing, Dave Chappelle would be the MC, the paparazzi would jostle for position, and ex-boyfriends are a “mess” with “loud honks” of noses blowing. Burns, a member of the Actors Studio, began her set by talking about the allegations against Rose, and how she “used to worship Woody Allen.” She then read an excerpt from a book review in The New York Times about Ivana Trump’s book, “Raising Trump,” in an accent, pausing to say, “I don’t know if this is the right accent.” Apparently, Trump’s father, Fred, pushed Ivana to have a steak but, “Ivana alone breaks ranks and orders
HITCHCOCK FESTIVAL continued from p. 14
we try to do, that would ruin the effect we want.” Instead of employing a foley person and live musicians, Bianchi and his collaborator, Wes Shippee, build complex tapestries of orchestrated music, peppered with recorded and synthesized sound effects, generated, mixed and amplified through the latest electronic equipment. Yet, despite all of this futuristic technology, his work also hearkens back to the most ancient human traditions. “At Radiotheatre, we’re going back to the first theater… storytelling in the dark around a campfire,” noted Bianchi. “A narrator tells the tale as players act it out. This way we engage directly with the audience and they seem to like that. We entice their imaginations to work to supply the visuals. With traditional plays, TV or movies, [the audience] just sit back and see whatever the director gives them as he sees it... a beautiful
Photo via facebook.com/nancygilesofficial
Nancy Giles, host of “The Mosquito” at Dixon Place.
fish,” according to the new book. Burns was able to swerve from the steak-fish tragedy to Charles Manson to how, the night after Trump’s election, a neighbor called the police on her. Frustration with the election flowed into frustration over not being able to watch “Jeopardy!” that turned into yelling. The police came to her door, but, no, Burns was not arrested. Burns, Kaplan and Huston have all known Giles for decades, they told this reporter after the show. All, including Borgia, had high praise for Dixon Place and its founder Ellie Covan — Kaplan calling her “a great champion of Downtown theater,” with Huston saying she feels she can “try anything” artistically at the theater, which is “really innovative and cool.” Giles said, “I met Ellie for the first time, golly Moses,
girl, a monster, whatever. But with audio theater, if I say a beautiful girl walks into the room, I don’t need to elaborate. I get 180 versions of that in the minds of the audience.” Bianchi normally adapts the scripts themselves from works of classic fiction, but on this occasion he found readymade scripts from radio days that were in the public domain. Back in the day, it was common practice to present radio adaptations of first run films, both to promote the movies and as entertainment in their own right. The Hitchcock stories Radiotheatre will be presenting are “Strangers on a Train,” “Suspicion,” “The Birds,” “Shadow of a Doubt,” “Rebecca,” “The Lodger,” and “The 39 Steps.” Each performance will feature a different bill, as the scripts can be up to an hour long. “Hitchcock is one of my favorites, and radio is the only way you can tell his stories in a theatre,” said Bianchi. “I’m hoping it’ll appeal to younger audiences
as well as older ones. If you know movies, you pretty much know Hitchcock. He’s still a personality.” Radiotheatre’s Alfred Hitchcock Festival plays Dec. 19-30, at St. John’s Lutheran Church (81 Christopher St., btw. Bleecker & W. Fourth Sts.). All shows at 8pm. Tickets are $24 general
admission, $12 for students/seniors. For reservations, call 212-868-4444 or visit radiotheatrenyc.com (where you can also access the titles scheduled for each of the festival’s nine performances). Box office opens 30 minutes before showtime. Wheelchair accessible. Runtime: 80 minutes.
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
I think it was 31 years ago, so like 1986. She had a little apartment on First Ave. and First Street. And she did like this salon-type thing and invited people to perform.” But the venue didn’t have the right type of permit or licensing so, “If it looked like the cops were coming or there was going to be any trouble, the show that was going on would stop, and everyone would start singing, ‘Happy Birthday To You,’ to pretend it was a party, which I loved,” Giles recalled. Dixon Place moved to a spot on the Bowery before making its home at 161A Chrystie St. toward the end of 2008. “Just having Nancy involved with Dixon Place is really important to me,” Covan said by phone. “She can read the phone book if she wants to.” Giles said having the monthly variety show in the lounge “mirrors more how Ellie’s apartment was.” It is important, she said, for the show to feature female performers in their 40s, 50s, and older. “What we have to say is incredibly valuable,” Giles explained. “We’ve all lived. At this point in my friends’ lives, we’ve all suffered losses, illness, all kinds of wrinkles. Our lives just make us, I think, even better artists and funnier and we bring even more to the table. I want us to have a chance to just like get our voices heard.” So where does the name of the show come from? “The joke of why I call this show ‘The Mosquito’ is a little resentment at ‘The Moth.’ I think I hosted some Moth event… and told a story, and they were like, ‘Oh, we would love to have you back,’ and then nothing ever happened,” Giles said. “Well, [expletive] this, I’ll do my own show and I can name a show after an insect as well,” she said. “And ‘The Mosquito’ was born.” The next installment is Mon., Dec. 18, 7:30pm in the front lounge space at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie St., btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.). The show is free, but donations are welcome. Visit dixonplace.org. Nancy Giles on Twitter: @nancygilesnyc. On Facebook: facebook.com/nancygilesofficial.
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
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December 14, 2017
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December 14, 2017
Future of Gansevoort GANSEVOORT continued from p. 4
WHY PAY MORE? CALL NOW 646-452-2490 TO ADVERTISE ALL YOUR LEGALS AND NAME CHANGES 18
December 14, 2017
uses, in annual installments, to be used to fix up both spots as parks. Under the deal, Gansevoort was to have been environmentally remediated and handed over to the Trust by 2013. The total amount of fines reportedly may have reached around $32 million before Sanitation finally moved its trucks off a couple of years ago, sending most of them to its new garage — which essentially was built because of the lawsuit — at Spring and Washington Sts. A few months ago, concerned that there had been no motion on environmentally remediating the peninsula, Dan Alterman, the attorney who represented the Friends in the 2005 settlement, tipped off The Villager that he was getting ready to readdress the issue with the Trust and Sanitation. But then the city’s Department of Design and Construction finally started demolishing the old garage. “We don’t have to file the lawsuit,” said Tom Fox, a former Friends board member who more recently sued the Trust over Barry Diller’s Pier 55 “Fantasy Island” plan. “It’s on the Department of Sanitation to take down the building, remediate the peninsula, and they’re supposed to deliver it clean, broom-swept,” Fox said. He noted that the former incinerator’s towering dual smokestacks that were razed more than a decade ago were supposed to remain, under the original Hudson River Park plan, “as a symbol of the industrial past.” But, he said, James Ortenzio, the Trust’s former board chairperson, decided to remove down. A Trust spokesperson said the authority expects D.D.C. to hand over Gansevoort Peninsula to the Trust by this spring. One big question mark, though, is whether the peninsula will also have a marine transfer station, or M.T.S. Under that scheme, which was approved by the city and state in 2008, up to 60 garbage trucks per day would haul recyclables to Gansevoort — of course, first having to cross the busy Hudson River bike path. At Gansevoort, the trucks would dump their loads into barges, which would then ferry the waste to the city’s recycling plant in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. About 1.36 acres on the peninsula’s northern and western sides would be set aside for a 25-footwide road for the garbage trucks that would ramp up to a new transfer station. The Gansevoort
facility was also to have an “educational component,” teaching about recycling. According to a source, the Trust wants to move ahead with designing a park on Gansevoort, but first needs to know what the city’s plans are for a possible M.T.S. there. Currently, the transferstation plans are “not clear,” the source said. To “alienate” the needed land from park use, so that it could be used for the M.T.S., the Trust is seeking around $50 million — a payment that, theoretically, would be split by the city and state. At least that was the figure Madelyn Wils, the Trust’s president, told The Villager four years ago. However, a memorandum of understanding, or M.O.U., between the city and state on the issue is nowhere to be found. “I’m unaware of any movement around that one way or another,” Assemblymember Deborah Glick said. “There haven’t been any conversations recently to my knowledge.” Glick said the city wants to alienate the needed part of Gansevoort, but the state doesn’t want to pay for what is basically a city use. “I think the question is to the city at this point,” she said. Similarly, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried said, “I haven’t heard any discussion of anything happening on Gansevoort in quite a number of years. I’m not aware of there having been any movement on the transfer station or anything else at Gansevoort in many years. The whole thing seems to have fallen off everybody’s radar.” Erik Bottcher, Councilmember Corey Johnson’s chief of staff, said the Gansevoort demolition work was delayed a bit because, several months ago, a worker was injured at the site, and the Department of Buildings enforced a stop-work order while safety procedures were checked. “There has been no progress on the city-state M.O.U.,” Bottcher said. “The state has expressed no interest in signing an M.O.U.” Plus, Bottcher noted, “The Department of Sanitation is contemplating a move to single-stream recycling, where the paper and plastic would all be in one bin. So that is also why they are not in a rush: They don’t want to have a facility there that is obsolete. They would build it after they decide — but single-stream seems to be the future. “Based on those two factors,” he said, “the M.T.S. is probably not happening anytime soon.”
December 14, 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
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phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.
Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-
haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.
Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and
chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at
a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.
Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.
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