The Paper of Record rd for Greenwich Greenw nw n w iiccch h Village, Vii llage, East Village, Lower East Side, V Soho, Union Square, Chinatown Since 1933 ion Squa ua u a re re e,, Ch C h in i n at ato ow w n and a d Noho, an No
January 4, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 1
Johnson cultivates Council, kingmakers to become speaker BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
ne thing was said over and over again about Corey Johnson as the City Council convened on Wednesday to elect its new speaker — the 35-year-old works hard. “Everybody in this body cannot deny that Corey Johnson
worked harder to be the speaker of this body than anybody else in this body,” said Laurie Cumbo, who represents parts of Brooklyn in the 51-member City Council, as she nominated Johnson for speaker on Jan. 3. Beginning with a field of eight candidates, the speaker’s JOHNSON continued on p. 3
State agency says Bowery buildings are rent-regulated units BY REBECCA FIORE
n an ongoing battle to stay in their homes, residents of 83-85 Bowery were recognized by the New York State Division of Homes and Community Renewal as rent-regulated tenants under the Rent Stabilization Law. In a Dec. 20 letter to state
Supreme Court Justice Kathryn Freed, D.H.C.R. outlined and deemed insufficient the case that current landlord Joseph Betesh has made to deny his tenants rent-regulated status. According to the Rent Stabilization Law, if a landlord BOWERY continued on p. 5
PHOTO BY TONI DALTON
Walter Dikarev closed his clock and watch repair shop last week after 20 years on W. 10th St.
‘Father time’ closes up shop on W. 10th BY REBECCA FIORE
fter 20 years at his West Village location, Walter Dikarev of Walter’s Antique Clock & Watch Repair closed his business on Thurs., Dec. 28, and retired. Since 1998, Dikarev built a reputation as the handiest watchmaker in the area. Since he was a little boy growing up in the then-Soviet Union, Dikarev always en-
Jane Greer, Soho pioneer......p. 15
joyed working with his hands. He would whittle toys and tools for himself out of wood. He went on to attend a technical school for four years in Moscow, where he learned mechanics, chemistry, physics and electrical engineering. A friend who had been employed at a watchmaking workshop recruited Dikarev. In the 1970s, Dikarev moved to New York City, where he worked as a limo driver for about three years. Universal
Watch Repair in Michigan hired him and he worked there for about five years before returning to New York City to open up his own shop. In 1998, after three years of occupying a different space just around the corner, he moved to 240 W. 10th St., between Hudson and Bleecker Sts. The 70-year-old watchmaker credits the success of his workshop to his business model. In his younger days, he TIME continued on p. 8
Cominskie walks away from WARC ...................p. 2 Editorial: An ‘L’ of a flawed process...................p. 6 www.TheVillager.com
HEALTHY HARV-EST: Harvey Epstein raked in a slew of endorsements this week in his bid to be the new assemblymember for the 74th District, succeeding Brian Kavanagh, who recently became Lower Manhattanâ€™s state senator, succeeding Daniel Squadron. Enthusiastically jumping on the Epstein bandwagon were former Councilmember Rosie Mendez, Councilmember Ben Kallos, Assemblymembers Richard Gottfried and Deborah Glick, East Village District Leader Anthony Feliciano and Democratic State Committeeman Michael Farrin. Many of them were allies with Epstein â€” a former chairperson of Community Board 3 and currently a director at the Urban Justice Center â€” on previous struggles. Epstein is also a tenant member of the cityâ€™s Rent Guidelines Board, as which he has been a strong advocate for a rent freeze and a rent rollback. â€œOur community will be well-served with Harvey Epstein representing us in the state Assembly,â€? Mendez said. â€œI have worked closely with Harvey for years and I have seen first-hand how he has delivered for those New Yorkers most in need. I know he will be a fighter for us in Albany and his leadership will yield real results.â€? Governor Andrew Cuomo still has not called a special election to fill the open seat for the 74th A.D., which covers the East Side from the United Nations through the East Village and into part of the Lower East Side. CONFLICT AVOIDANCE: True to his word, Jamie Rogers stepped down on Dec. 31 as chairperson of Community Board 3, after making an an-
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
The crowd at Mayor Bill de Blasioâ€™s inauguration outside City Hall on Tuesday came bundled up to brave the freezing weather. For more photos, see Page 7.
nouncement to the full East Village board that he would not be running for re-election. Alysha Lewis-Coleman, the boardâ€™s first vice chairperson, was elected the new chairperson. Rogers told us back in October 2016 that if his wife, Carlina Rivera, was elected city councilperson â€” which, of course, she was this past November â€” he would not run again, feeling â€œthe opticsâ€? would look bad. â€œI believe it is unfair to the community to have the chairperson of the board and a city councilwoman for the area under one roof,â€? he told us recently. â€œThere are too many potential areas of conflict, and neither the board nor the community nor Carlina should have to deal with that. We have a lot of great leaders on our board, including
Theater for the New City â€˘ 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net
â€œA moral comedy in verseâ€? #.$,.*+!#/ 51./"401."4 1+"4 '!(#0/ 2
Januar y 4, 2018
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Alysha, and so Iâ€™m confident Iâ€™m leaving the leadership in good hands. I plan to serve as a board member for the remainder of my term, which expires on March 31, so I can be helpful with the transition.â€?
WONDERING AT WESTBETH: In a surprise, George Cominskie, the longtime president of the Westbeth Artists Residents Council, recently stepped down from the coveted post. Word has it Cominskie was miffed that the board of directors of the famed West Village affordable artistsâ€™ housing complex refused to reappoint him to the board. â€œSo he stepped down from WARC, which was his life,â€? a source told us. â€œGeorge has not been on the board of directors in a very long time. Years ago when I first moved here, he was on the board. Then there was a purge. That was over 10 years ago.â€? In the past, Cominskie and other WARC members sued the board over alleged
wrongdoing, but the board was not found guilty of malfeasance. The board may still be harboring a grudge against him over that, our source opined. â€œHe has been consistently trying to get back on the board and always got rejected,â€? the Westbeth insider said. â€œMaybe whatâ€™s different now is that two other members of WARC got appointed but he didnâ€™t. One had been on the board years ago with George. The other had never been on the board. Every year when WARC had its annual elections they would â€˜runâ€™ people for the board of directors, even though that is not how you get on the board.â€? Cominskie did not respond to requests for comment. Roger Braimon is currently serving as the new president of WARC.
CORRECTION: The headline on our article on the East Villageâ€™s Modern Love Club matchmaking service last month incorrectly stated it was located on Avenue A. Itâ€™s on First Ave.
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Write a letter to the editor firstname.lastname@example.org TheVillager.com
Corey Johnson is elected City Council speaker JOHNSON continued from p. 1
race was winnowed to two by Jan. 3. The other contender, Inez Barron, who also represents Brooklyn neighborhoods, was reduced to nominating herself. Johnson’s nomination was seconded four times and the final vote was a lopsided 48-1, with two members not attending the Council’s first meeting of 2018. Jumaane Williams, who also stayed in the speaker race till nearly the end, was reportedly in Albany, where Governor Andrew Cuomo was set to give his State of the State address later that afternoon. Williams is said to be considering a primary challenge against Cuomo this year. Members who took time to explain why they were supporting Johnson, who is openly gay and H.I.V.-positive, talked about how he aided their campaigns or how he reached across the ideological spectrum to talk to them. “He came out and he helped me win my race,” said Daneek Miller, who represents parts of Queens. “He walked the walk with me.” When Ruben Diaz, Sr., a former state senator who now represents Bronx neighborhoods in the City Council, was in the hospital following major surgery, Johnson paid him a visit. Diaz is a wellknown opponent of the L.G.B.T.Q. community and voted against same-sex marriage in the state Senate in 2009 and 2011. “A man that doesn’t agree with what I say, this person, Corey Johnson, came to see me in the hospital,” Diaz said as he cast his vote for Johnson. Similarly, Fernando Cabrera, who also represents parts of the Bronx, traveled with Johnson to Israel in February 2017. Cabrera has a history of working with anti-L.G.B.T.Q. groups and, like Diaz, is an opponent of same-sex marriage. Cabrera traveled to Uganda when that country was weighing a law that imposed the death penalty for homosexuality. During the Uganda visit, Cabrera made a YouTube video praising the nation’s antigay forces. Johnson also distributed a lot of campaign cash to his fellow councilmembers during the 2017 election cycle. He donated to 26 candidates who now hold Council seats. He did not donate to Diaz or Cabrera. He also supported a large number of city Democratic political clubs and donated to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s re-election campaign. Johnson arrived in New York City from Massachusetts in 2001. He was known then as the high school athlete who came out on national television. He held various jobs and volunteered for the political campaigns of Mark Green and Carl McCall. Johnson learned about the intricacies of city law on housing and development while serving on Community Board 4 in Manhattan. TheVillager.com
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
After Corey Johnson, left, was elected the Cit y Council’s new speaker Wednesday, he posed for a photo with his mother, Ann Queenan Richardson, a homeless-ser vices provider, and his political mentor, former state Senator Tom Duane. Johnson called his mom his best friend.
He eventually chaired the board. His knowledge of housing and development issues was apparent when he first ran for the City Council in 2013 for a Manhattan district that includes the West Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen. He defeated attorney Yetta Kurland in the Democratic primary, though that race was known for its acrimony and one or two embarrassing conflicts between the candidates. Johnson faced no serious opposition in 2017 in the primary or general elections. The degree to which he has cultivated kingmakers and the politically connected was evident when he spoke following the vote. He acknowledged Congressmember Joe Crowley, who represents a Queens district in the House and chairs that county’s Democratic Party, and Keith Wright, a former member of the state Assembly who chairs the New York County Democratic Committee. Crowley and Wright were sitting in the balcony of the Council chamber watching the proceedings. They were joined by Yvette Clarke, who represents a Brooklyn district in the House. Also sitting in the balcony and recognized by Johnson was the president of New York City’s Central Labor Council — an AFL-CIO umbrella group comprised of multiple union locals — and the heads of three locals in the Central Labor Council. What has dogged Johnson’s race for speaker is that he is a white man heading a City Council that has a majority of members who are Hispanic, AfricanAmerican and Asian. This matter came up when Barron nominated herself. “White men, a white woman and a Latina have been speaker, but we’ve never had a black speaker,” she said. “I
think you have to recognize that I am not white and I’m not male and I’m not going to get the blessing of the power structure.” Charles Barron, who represents a
Brooklyn district in the state Assembly and previously served in the City Council, was in the Council chamber to support his wife. When it became apparent that she had lost the race, he noisily exited with a small group of friends. “My real view is that I am never going to compare my experience to that of a person of color in New York City because we all have our own unique experiences,” Johnson said during a press conference following the vote when asked about Barron’s comments. “I recognize the privilege in the color of my skin… . I’m going to ensure that the leadership structure of the Council, that the committee chairs of the Council are represented by women, by people of color, by L.G.B.T. people, and ensure that all voices are heard.” In a statement, Williams said, in part, “One area where we have failed... is in the lack of diversity in top positions of power in government and agencies across the city. ... Equity must be an issue of highest priority to the next speaker of the City Council. Having spoken at length with Councilmember Johnson, he is acutely aware of those concerns, and has agreed, in a tangible and accountable way, to work alongside me on issues of equity, both in government and citywide, for people of diverse backgrounds across race, gender, sexual orientation and more.”
Januar y 4, 2018
Feeling chippy? Fest wants your ﬁr 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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ossed-out Christmas trees lining the curb surely are a sad sight. Plus, they don’t help the environment. But MulchFest — the annual holiday-tree chipping extravaganza by the Parks Department, the Department of Sanitation and GreeNYC — puts a different spin, literally, on it all. On Sat., Jan. 6, and Sun., Jan. 7, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can bring your holiday tree to a designated park site to be recycled, for free, into mulch (wood chips, to be exact). The wood chips are used to nourish trees and plans on streets and gardens citywide. Participants also can take home a bag of mulch (bags will be provided) to use in their backyard or to make a winter bed for a street tree. All lights, ornaments and netting should be removed from the tannenbaums before they are brought to a MulchFest site. More than 26,000 trees were recycled last year. Local chipping locations include Stuyvesant Town, at the E. 20th St. loop east of First Ave.; Tompkins Square Park, at E. Ninth St. between Avenues A and B; and Washington Square Park, at Fifth Ave. and Washington Square North. In addition, a Downtown site for drop-offs only (no chipping or mulch provided) is at Union Square Park, at E. 14th St. between Broadway and Fourth Ave. Trees can be brought to drop-off sites from Sun., Dec. 31, to Sun., Jan. 7, to be recycled later. As well as MulchFest, Sanitation will be doing special curbside collections for mulching and recycling of Christmas trees from Tues., Jan. 2, through Sat., Jan. 13.
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
The chipping station in Washington Square is ready to rev up this weekend. It’s apparently also a drop-off site, as witnessed by the half-dozen trees that were left there this Tuesday. Yet, it is listed as being for “chipping” on the MulchFest Web site.
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Januar y 4, 2018
POLICE BLOTTER Subway fatality
Bleecker ‘mean time’
An unidentified man was crushed to death on Fri., Dec. 29, around 8:30 p.m., after he was smoking between subway cars on a southbound C train at the 14th St. and Eighth Ave. station and fell onto the tracks. The Daily News reported that the gruesome incident occurred as the train left the station and had entered the tunnel. The train jerked to a stop and power was cut to the tracks as medics worked to save the man, who reportedly died at the scene. Meanwhile, passengers were stuck in the train for more than two hours. Police found no identification on the victim and hope to identify him through fingerprints and dental records, the News reported.
A woman had her wallet riddled and then thrown at the GMT Tavern, at 142 Bleecker St., at LaGuardia Place, on Wed., Dec. 27, at 11:45 p.m., police said. Another woman took the wallet and then flung it down the block. “I seen the girl punch my friend, so I took her stuff,” the thrower reportedly told police. The stolen items included an iPhone 6, credit cards, MetroCards and cash, amounting to a combined value of $915. Cara C. McConnachie, 25, was arrested for felony grand larceny.
Head-butted bank According to police, a 17-year-old used his head to break the glass door of an HSBC bank branch at 207 Varick St., near Clarkson St. The incident happened Thurs., Dec. 28, at 1:20 p.m. Lucas Christie, 17, was arrested for felony criminal mischief.
Bad B&H checks Police said a man in the Village was found in possession of forged checks from B&H, the Chelsea photo and video store at 34th St. and Ninth Ave. The suspect was spotted at W. Fourth and W. 12th Sts. on Thurs., Dec. 28 at 4:45 p.m. Cody Charles, 19, was arrested for felony criminal possession of a forged instrument.
Injures medic An E.M.S. worker was pushed to the
ground at 75 Christopher St. on Sat., Dec. 30, at 1:50 a.m. when she was trying to load a suspect into an ambulance. The victim, 39, suffered pain to her right arm and lower back. The suspect reportedly also resisted being handcuffed by pushing the arresting police officer and pulling his hands away. Ignacio Espino, 27, was charged with felony assault. It was not immediately clear what the man was being treated for in the first place.
Groper busted Police reported that on Jan. 1 an arrest had been made in a forcible touching incident that occurred Dec. 3 at 2 a.m. on a train near the Broadway and Lafayette St. station. As the southbound D approached the stop, the suspect grabbed a woman, 29, by the buttocks. The victim confronted the man and took a photo of him, then exited the train. David Harris, 33, of Raleigh, North Carolina, was arrested for sexual abuse.
Tabia C. Robinson and Lincoln Anderson TheVillager.com
Agency says Bowery buildings rent-regulated BOWERY continued from p. 1
repairs 75 percent of a building’s structures, then the building isn’t subject to rent regulation. Additionally, if the building was commercial, as opposed to residential, before 1980, then the landlord doesn’t have to do the 75 percent repairs. Attorney Seth Miller, of Collins, Dobkin & Miller, representing the tenants, said Betesh’s contention that the buildings, which are located near Hester St., formerly were commercial is frivolous. “The argument that a lodging house is ‘commercial’ rather than residential was always, frankly, ridiculous,” Miller said, in a statement. D.H.C.R. said the buildings’ previous commercial classification does not exempt them from rent regulation because the premises were built before 1974 and contained six or more units — plus, a lodging house is still a housing accommodation. Additionally, while Betesh claimed that previous owners had made substantial repairs, D.H.C.R. could not find any. Substantial rehabilitation refers to fi xing 17 systems, including plumbing, heating, gas supply, electrical wiring, intercoms, windows, roof, elevators and so on. “With the possible exception of the bathrooms, the record according to D.H.C.R. does not establish that a single system was replaced,” the letter read. “Therefore, no substantial rehabilitation was effectuated and D.H.C.R. finds that the buildings are rent-stabilized.” Betesh could not be reached for comment. Sarah Ahn, a spokesperson for Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association (CSWA), which is part of the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side, said she is proud of the residents for sticking together, but knows the fight is not nearly over. “This doesn’t mean that the tenants have completely won because the court case is still dragging on,” she said. “With a [state] agency saying they should be rent-stabilized and showing the landlord has been lying the whole time, this puts the demand back on him to stop with all these tactics, stop harassing them, bullying them, dragging them through court. It’s time to honor the rent stabilization and make repairs on the buildings.” She echoed Miller’s sentiments that Betesh’s argument against the residents is flawed. “Betesh is bringing a case against the tenants, saying essentially that they should be kicked out because these buildings are unsafe, which is absurd because the tenants are saying the same thing, too,” she said. “But the responsibility is on the landlord to maintain the apartment.” TheVillager.com
VILLAGER FILE PHOTO
Kathr yn Freed, at her swearing-in ceremony as a state Supreme Cour t justice three years ago, must weigh in on the D.H.C.R. determination.
Betesh has stated that, for him to make building repairs, the tenants would have to vacate the place — a claim that an engineer hired by the tenants have disproven, Ahn said. The tenants also worry that if they were to vacate for these repairs, they would not be allowed back in. “They have seen other landlords do this in the past, use that excuse, and then they can’t return back to their apartments,” Ahn said. “They pooled their resources and were able to hire a firm that assessed the building and said the landlord could do all these repairs without endangering the tenants.” Some of the needed repairs include leveling the staircase, fi xing pipes that leak from floor to floor, and filling in cracks in the walls. Christopher Marte, who challenged Councilmember Margaret Chin in last year’s primary and general elections, has been fighting for tenant rights for a number of years. He explained that Betesh would not inform the tenants how much their rent would increase if they left to allow repairs. “That’s one form of tenant harassment,” Marte noted, “saying, ‘We need you to temporarily vacate the building,’ without giving certainty they can move back for the price they are paying.” The roughly 30 units include many families, some of them multigenerational. There are grandparents, newborns. Some people have lived in the building for more than 38 years, and others for just a couple. No one has been pushed out, so far. “They are a very, more so now, close-
knit sort of community,” Ahn said of the tenants. “They have been able to stave off eviction by coming together
and putting up a fight.” The next step is waiting for Justice Freed to issue an order either accepting, modifying or rejecting the D.H.C.R. recommendation, Miller said. He also said Freed unilaterally issued an order joining with the Department of Buildings, the Fire Department and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, to address the buildings’ repair issues. Before she was a state judge, Freed was the city councilmember for Lower Manhattan’s First District. “Hopefully,” Ahn said, “she will focus on the structural issues at 85 Bowery, rather than be distracted by the landlord’s cynical effort to blame the tenants for conditions at the buildings.” Community groups have advocated for the tenants at rallies and demonstrations. The city’s chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America even created a Web site encouraging neighbors to boycott Betesh’s retail chain, Dr. Jay’s, which has multiple stores across the boroughs and New Jersey. “They made a huge step in their case,” Ahn said. “People continue to support their fight by boycotting Dr. Jay’s and even putting public pressure on the courts to lay this to rest.”
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR ‘Baseless claims’ vs. L plan
‘L’ of a process
he Department of Transportation unveiling of its Manhattan mitigation plans for the upcoming L train 15-month-long maintenance project blindsided the community. The repairs to the L train’s Canarsie Tunnel are slated to start April 2019. Under the plan, 13th St. would get a new two-way protected bike lane. Meanwhile, 14th St. would become a busway, with Select Bus Service, and with most other vehicles banned during rush hours. Yes, there were some loose outreach workshops, or charrettes, last year where various ideas to deal with the L situation were bandied about. But that’s different than having a concrete plan formally presented to local community boards for review before basically being declared a done deal. Currently, the idea is for the proposed changes to 13th and 14th Sts. to start being implemented in late summer or early fall of this year. Speaking to the City Council’s Committee on Transportation last month, D.O.T. Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said there would be new rounds of public outreach in January and February. In the Village and Chelsea, there is tremendous concern that blocking cars from using 14th St. would only lead to their being displaced onto surrounding historic side streets that cannot handle it. D.O.T. and Transportation Alternatives, however, believe we must reduce cars in Manhattan by making it more difficult for drivers to get around. (Hopefully, our new Council speaker, Corey Johnson, will help by passing congestion pricing.) “We can’t promise there won’t be impacts on neighborhoods,” Trottenberg said last month. “This is the enormity of the challenge we are facing, with 50,000 people on 14th St. that were formerly traveling underground coming up to the surface,” she explained of the looming L shutdown. In addition, there is anxiety about a two-way protected bike path on currently one-way 13th St. Bikes are quiet and residents would need to get used to looking both ways when crossing this street. Hey, we’re 100 percent for more protected crosstown bike lanes; the unprotected lanes on Bleecker, Prince, Ninth and 10th Sts. leave much be desired, with vehicles veering dangerously into them and doors suddenly flinging open into them. But what about a single protected westbound lane on 13th St. and a single protected eastbound lane on another street? Maybe residents would prefer that — if given the chance to weigh in. This week, on The Villager’s online version, thevillager.com, there was a surge of comments by supporters of the D.O.T. plan on our article “L shutdown plan a real train wreck, residents say.” It’s an effort to spin the debate. But a comment thread is not a public meeting. We did remove one clearly ageist and insulting comment: “Holy cow, apparently the residents of the 100 block of W 13th Street are all oblivious old curmudgeons.” F.Y.I.: The city’s senior population is increasing. We all must all share the streets. Older residents react slower and fear falling and breaking bones, which can have serious consequences for them. Not surprisingly, that reader used a phony name. At a public meeting, speakers identify themselves and air their opinions before others. Again, it’s about the process.
Januar y 4, 2018
To The Editor: Re “L shutdown plan a real train wreck, residents say” (news article, Dec. 21): Cyclists and bike lanes are not a threat to school children, as shown by the fact that there’s been no serious bike-on-child incidents in the numerous bike lanes placed near schools. In addition, the problem of cars dropping off students clogging up 13th St. could easily be solved by creating curbside loading zones in current parking spots — an unpopular opinion, I know, but still. On the Robert Moses comparison, considering the fact that the shutdown plan has gone through more community workshop and community board review meetings than can be counted, the comparison to Moses ramming an expressway through a neighborhood could not be less accurate. People take the L train to 14th St. This is clearly shown in the M.T.A.’s own ridership figures. And to claim, for instance, that no one taking the L train gets off at Union Square is ludicrous. This is not to say that parts of the plan aren’t flawed. I agree, for instance, that Sixth Ave. should be made A.D.A. compliant. But the main criticisms in this article are, at best, baseless. Liam Jeffries
Hope for S.B.J.S.A. vote To The Editor: Re “Mom-and-pops’ future is in new speaker’s hands” (talking point, by Sung Soo Kim, Dec. 28): We are closer to passing the Small Business Jobs Survival Act than at any point in 30 years. We small business activists made sure the S.B.J.S.A. was a defining issue of the City Council speaker race. Corey Johnson was one of the six candidates for speaker who embraced a public hearing on the S.B.J.S.A. and declared an openness to commercial rent control. His main opponent, Robert Cornegy, opposed commercial rent control. This was the main issue that seperated them. We’re looking forward to seeing Johnson make history by passing the S.B.J.S.A.! David Eisenbach
Save our stores To The Editor: Re “It’s key to beat Cornegy: S.B.J.S.A. advocates” (news article, Dec. 21):
Small businesses, as writer Sharon Woolums says here, are key to the vitality of our community. We need city councilmembers who will want our communities to be vital. Thanks, Sharon, for a good report. Donna Schaper Schaper is senior minister, Judson Memorial Church
A gentle and kind man To The Editor: Re “Jeff Brennan: Toured with Taylor, managed Max’s” (obituary, Dec. 28): I am so sorry to hear about Jeff’s passing. He was a gentle and kind man and frequented the senior center at Washington Square North. He will be missed. Laura Marceca
Her spirit lives on To The Editor: Re “Therese Chorun, 55, environmental and socialjustice advocate” (obituary, Jan. 28): Thanks for this appreciative tribute by Rick Hill. We intend to have Therese’s spirit live on through the girls of her scholarship fund. If you knew her and you would like to be involved in making that happen please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org . To donate please click on this link: http://youngvisionafrica.org/take-action/#therese. Alan Chorun
Committed and moral To The Editor: Re “Therese Chorun, 55, environmental and socialjustice advocate” (obituary, Jan. 28): Thank you for the obituary and the photos. Therese and I had been together since 2008, living in a one-room apartment — a situation that might try many relationships, but we made it work. While her interests were far-reaching, during that time, her main concerns were corruption in government and corporate control of government, Palestinian statehood and prison reform. Most of all, she was profoundly interested in environmental issues. To this end, she has asked me to donate to the Center for Biological Diversity in her name. This, along with other environmental organizations, such as LETTERS continued on p. 15
Brrr-ing it on! De Blasio sworn in by Sanders
mid 18-degree weather on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio was sworn into office for a second time on the City Hall plaza. Doing the honors was progressive standard bearer Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Noticeably absent were former President Bill Clinton, who swore in de Blasio four years ago, and his wife, Hillary Clinton, who beat off a feisty challenge by Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. The Daily News noted that the Clintons’ absence could be chalked up to de Blasio’s late endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy or the Democratic Party’s leftward tilting or both. Sanders’s presence was also seen as a sign of de Blasio’s national ambitions. Also nowhere to be found was former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who came under fire at de Blasio’s first inauguration. In a brief 13-minute speech amid the chill, the mayor cast New York City as a bulwark against the Trump administration’s policies. “We in our city refuse to be dragged down to a place we know is beneath us,”
he declared. “We know that the gaudy celebration of discrimination based on faith or color or nationality is simply un-American. It is a violation of who we are. We know the overt and gleeful prejudice that is suddenly in vogue spits in the face of all that has made our city great.” De Blasio also hailed New York’s reduction in crime and murders, which has made it America’s safest big city. Also speaking were two expected mayoral contenders in 2021, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James. De Blasio will be termlimited out of office at the end of 2021. The News noted that Stringer focused his remarks on the city’s affordability crisis while James slammed the New York City Housing Authority’s leadpaint scandal. Sitting among a contingent of bundled-up city councilmembers was the new City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, who spoke briefly with U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, who arrived late after attending the inauguration of Laura Curran, the Nassau County executive.
PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the attitudes and policies coming out of Washington, D.C., nowadays run counter to the spirit of New York Cit y.
In his remarks, Bernie Sanders stressed that America is about bringing people together “with love and compassion” rather than fostering divisions among them.
Among the councilmembers braving the chill were Corey Johnson, with tan scar f, Helen Rosenthal, t wo to the right of him, and Margaret Chin, with purple scar f. TheVillager.com
Corey Johnson, the Cit y Council’s next speaker, shook hands with U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer as former Mayor David Dinkins stood beside them. Januar y 4, 2018
PHOTOS BY TONI DALTON
Customers came from across the city, as well as from across state lines, to have their clocks and watches fixed by Walter Dikarev.
‘Father time’ closes up his shop on W. 10th St. TIME continued from p. 1
worked from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. six days a week. In his older years, he worked from 2 p.m. to about 9 p.m., though still six days a week. The Villager paid Dikarev a visit and spoke with him a few days before he closed up his shop for good. “The schedule is special because people who work in the daytime, the biggest companies and businesses close at 6 or 7 p.m.,” he said while replacing a battery in wristwatch. “I decided it was not fair for people who are working different shifts. I have to be a smart business person to make everybody happy, so they don’t spend lots of time waiting. And I charge the minimum, not maximum.” A replaced battery cost $20, cash only, but he said he was flexible when it comes to prices and that estimates were always free. Dikarev said his days varied: Sometimes the shop was empty while on others he had a constant flow of 50 to 60 people, on top of the 50 phone calls he would get. “It’s not enough to be a good watchmaker,” he said. “You have to be a musician, you have to be a conductor. This is why I’m in business for many years. People from the whole city come to me.” As he sat surrounded by vintage
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clocks on four walls, he noted that his customers came from across the city and even across state lines seeking him out for repairs. “Sometimes I ask people, ‘How did you know about me?’ and one guy said he asked three people Uptown and all three people said, ‘Go to Walter,’” he smiled. “That’s so fun. In Uptown they know me!” Caroline Babson, who has lived in West Village for eight years, came into the shop to get her battery replaced after she heard the news of Dikarev’s retirement. “Congrats! But you will be missed,” she said to him. “This is such an institution here. I don’t want anything else to replace it. But I’m glad I got here just in the nick of time!” Dikarev pulled out a thick manila envelope full of the thank-you cards he had received. He said all the good wishes and gifts and the endless support of loyal customers broke his heart. “People are complaining,” he said. “They would like to see me forever here, like some kind of decoration of the Village, but I have my own destiny.” The constant sitting and working has made his legs start to swell, which his doctors have told him isn’t a good sign. “Something with the heart or kidney,” he said.
Walter Dikarev was a fix ture for 20 years laboring at his cluttered work table at his W. 10th St. watch and clock repair shop.
He said his work did not allow for a healthy lifestyle, and commuting from Marine Park, Brooklyn had made him exhausted. As technology has progressed, Dikarev said he feels disconnected. “I feel like an old sewing machine,” he said of the changing times. “Because of a new generation of
watches, new generation of clocks, I feel like a dinosaur,” he reflected. “I know a lot, I’m very experienced. The most important thing is to leave the stage at the right time. Do not stay longer than you are supposed to. Don’t stay across the new generation.” He said he wasn’t ready to leave, but knew that his time had come. TheVillager.com
Head Over Heels for ‘Under the Radar’ Annual Jan. fest features 26 shows from here and abroad
Photo by Wang Chong
“Thunderstorm 2.0” has director Wang Chong setting Cao Yu’s early 20th century drama in a 1990s-era Beijing official’s home. Jan. 6-7 at NYU Skirball.
BY TRAV S.D. The year 2005 proved to be pretty earthshaking: North Korea went nuclear, Angela Merkel became the fi rst female leader of Germany, YouTube posted its fi rst video, and New Orleans was nearly destroyed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But here in New York, Mark Russell, the popular longtime artistic director of PS122, launched his next glorious project by founding the Under the Radar Festival. The 2018 edition of Under the Radar, running from Jan. 4–15, will be the 14th one, and the largest and most ambitious one TheVillager.com
to date, with over 155 performances featuring artists from across the US and around the world, including Cuba, China, Canada, Italy, Japan, UK, Poland, and Slovenia. “I didn’t think it would go this long,” Russell said, with a self-deprecatory laugh. “Next year will be our fi fteenth festival. It’s pretty incredible. At first we were at St. Anne’s [Warehouse, in Brooklyn]. This begat our relationship with The Public [Theater] the next year. The Public liked it and we were able to continue it all these years through the support of foundations. Now the festival is fully integrated
into The Public’s core programming.” Under the Radar’s official mission is to “provide a high-visibility platform to support artists from diverse backgrounds who are redefi ning the act of making theater” and to be a “launching pad for new and cutting-edge performance.” “In the beginning,” Russell explained, “the agenda was to experiment to see if stuff that was under the radar of the mainstream could infiltrate the world of producers and presenters and regional theatre directors in the hope that artists could make more successful inroads into the culture.”
Some of the well-known artists who gained more widespread recognition through their involvement at Under the Radar over the years have included Elevator Repair Service, Young Jean Lee, Mike Daisey, Taylor Mac, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, and international companies like Italy’s Motus Theatre Company, Belarus Free Theatre, and Gob Squad, which is composed of British and German artists. “A lot of the work in regional theatre is playwright-driven, or New York RADAR continued on p. 10 Januar y 4, 2018
RADAR continued from p. 9
or LA actor-driven work that adheres to Equity regulations as far as building three weeks of rehearsal time, and so forth,” Russell noted, “and lots of good theatre is made that way. But other people use different strategies. But it’s often about us presenting material and contemporary voices that Americans are not used to yet, but are getting more used to all the time. We are trying to fi nd the other voices that are not being heard yet.” A few highlights from the 2018 festival include British lip synch performer and “drag fabulist” Dickie Beau; New Yorker scribe Adam Gopnik performing “The Gates: An Evening of Stories” as directed by The Moth’s Catherine Burns; Split Britches’ “Unexploded Ordnances (UXO),” an anxiety-prone meditation on aging and doomsday developed through conversation with elders and artists; “Thunderstorm 2.0” is acclaimed Chinese director Wang Chong’s dismantling/reassemblage of Cao Yu’s early 20th century drama; Cuba’s Teatro El Público does a version of “Antigone” mixing elements of fashion, spectacle, cabaret, theater, and drag; and free concerts by Canadian sing-along flash mob experience Choir! Choir! Choir! and faux “basement get-down party” celebrity Shasta Geaux Pop. The venues are The Public Theater and Joe’s Pub, La MaMa, NYU Skirball, Japan Society, and Brooklyn’s BRIC. In addition there will be several post-show discussions, panels, and symposia featuring the artists in conversation about their work. “When Under the Radar started [in
Photo courtesy GlassWorks Multimedia
Havana-based provocateurs Teatro El Público present “Antigonón, un Contigente Épico,” Jan. 10-14 at The Public.
2005], we presented eight or nine shows. This year it’s 26!” Russell enthused. “I wanted to go all out this year and include a lot of people. Old fogeys, young fogeys, music theatre pieces. The diversity of it has been exciting.” Under the Radar Festival runs Jan. 4–15. Prices start at $25. For tickets and the schedule, visit publictheater. org/Under-the-Radar.
Photo by Joseph Fuda
Toronto-based Choir! Choir! Choir! invite you their sing-along, Jan. 13 in The Public Theater lobby.
Photo by Setty McIntosh
Photo by Matt Delbridge
Shasta Geaux Pop delivers a free-flowing (and free) performance, Jan. 10 and 12 in The Public Theater lobby.
Is Doomsday looming? Conversations with elders and artists helped Split Britches develop “Unexploded Ordnances (UXO),” Jan. 4-21 at La MaMa.
Januar y 4, 2018
Just Do Art BRAINS AND WITS AT CAVEAT
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
HOTSY TOTSY BURLESQUE After gleefully indulging in the November through December bounty of buffets, high-calorie drinks, and mustgobble baked goods, just be grateful that our recent cold snap provides a practical reason to dress in layers that camouflage the consequences of holiday gluttony. For the hard bodies of Hotsy Totsy Burlesque, however, the plate of cookies left for Santa and the leftovers in the fridge have retained their integrity. See the result of this heroic commitment to proper nutrition and exercise, when the clothing comes off and the flesh is exposed — all for your viewing pleasure. That’s to be expected, of course, at any self-respecting burlesque show. But what sets this series apart is its seamless mix of skin and satire, always with a new narrative hook (popular themes have included Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who). With the first show of the 2018 comes the series’ third foray into the world of horror novelist Stephen King. The plot reads as if it’s been ripped from an undiscovered King page-turner: Squeaky-voiced Cherry Pitz (veteran comedic performer Cyndi Freeman) gets the good news that dear friend Carrie will be paying a visit. Having shaken off the shame of a high school prank to become one of her small town’s best burlesque entertainers, Carrie is determined to make it in the Big Apple — but macabre mojo seems to stick to her like pig’s blood on a prom dress. The show features a cast including Candy Apples, Cubby Hall, Fem Appeal, Matt Knife, and Rosie Cheeks — and is presided over by Cherry Pitz and Handsome Brad. “As performers and writers,” Pitz and Brad said in the guise of their “real-life” alter egos, “we have grown as a troupe and as friends and are happy to move into our 11th year. Every month you are invited to The Home For Wayward Girls and Fallen Women. The residents of the home need money to keep their hotel open, and to buy G-strings and glitter.” Other than the murder and mayhem worthy of a Stephen King novel, what could possibly go wrong? Thurs., Jan. 11, 8pm. At The Slipper Room (167 Orchard St., at Stanton St.). For tickets ($15), visit slipperroom.com. Visit hotsytotsyburlesque.com for artist info. Upcoming show themes include Ladies of Disney (Feb.), Star Trek (March), and Westworld (April). TheVillager.com
Photo by Ben Trivett
Cherry Pitz and Handsome Brad take a “shining” to Stephen King in the Jan. 11 installment of Hotsy Totsy Burlesque.
Caveat’s Kate Downey is seen here holding the squishy thing with a starring role in Jan. 5’s “Drink ‘n’ Draw Brains” event.
Courtedy Harmon Leon
Fearless comedian Harmon Leon infiltrates Trump’s America — and your heart — Jan. 7 at Caveat.
We’ve all heard the one about the priest, minister, and rabbi who walk into a bar — or at least we’re familiar with the set-up. But what about the recovering theoretical physicist, the renegade museum tour guide, and the one-time Moth StorySlam champion? They walked into a room, saw the potential for something different, and came up with a buzz-worthy slogan: “Join us for drinks and go home smarter.” Since then, Caveat has carved a niche for its highly intelligent, alcohol-friendly series of science talks, storytelling, concerts, trivia competitions and live recorded podcasts, most of them in the awesomely affordable $10-$20 range (with $8-a-glass beers, wine around $10, and grub from $3-$12). Coming up on Fri., Jan. 5 at 6pm, the “Drink ‘n’ Draw Brains” event is everything it sounds like. “Attending neurosurgeon” Anna Kasdan will give you the lowdown on what each part of the brain does, as you use that “creative” part of the noggin to draw the (real!) cranium-based tenant on display. A friendly neighborhood art teacher gives you tips (including, one supposes, how to compensate for your increasingly poor motor skills as the drinks flow). Feel free to bring drawing supplies, but know that the bare basics (pens and blank paper) will be provided. This event is free with advance RSVP, and $5 at the door. Then, on Sun., Jan. 7 at 6:30pm ($12 tickets), “Harmon Leon Infi ltrates Trump’s America” has the razor-sharp, media-surfi ng cultural critic (and author of “Meet the Deplorables”) taking you on a trip through his investigative infi ltration of extremist groups. Serious enough to be grim but smart enough to be goofy, Leon told us this upcoming gig’s main song “is called ‘Terrorist Love Hummus.’ It fits in with a story about an anti-Muslim hate group I infi ltrated… The crux of the song is that during the Iraq War, the US government would track the sale of hummus at grocery stores because they came to the astute conclusion that terrorist love hummus — and if they followed the trail of hummus they would fi nd some terrorists; because terrorists, as we all know, love hummus.” Caveat is located at 21 Clinton St. (at E. Houston St.). For info, visit caveat.nyc. Januar y 4, 2018
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Januar y 4, 2018
Jane Greer, pioneering Soho artist, dies at 81
OBITUARY BY JONATHAN GREENBERG
ane Ruth Greer died peacefully on Dec. 15 at the age of 81 in the Soho home that she shared with her beloved husband of 50 years, art gallerist Manuel Greer. A native Brooklynite, she was an accomplished, extraordinarily prolific artist, as well as a published poet of five anthologies. Jane received a B.F.A. from New York University during the late 1950s and then studied at the Art Students League. Her inventive modern work was exhibited at dozens of fine art galleries in five countries during the past 55 years. These shows included early ones at the innovative galleries that brought the New York art scene Downtown, including the Franklin Furnace, the A.I.R. Gallery, 112 Greene St., 3 Mercer St., the Apple Gallery and Poets House. Jane was a true Renaissance woman. Although her Soho loft was the social center for her three children, seven grandchildren and many, many friends and relatives, Jane was a most unusual matriarch. Rather than enforcing convention, she lived to defy it. Starting with a break from her Orthodox Jewish upbringing, Jane journeyed into the early dawn of the modern women’s movement, with a short-lived first marriage at the age of 19 to escape from a restrictive past into the barefoot, braless Beatnik art scene of the 1950s and sexually liberated ’60s. Jane was a pioneering and accomplished artist, with a loft on Chambers St. that predated the Soho art scene by decades. Her older brother Victor married Leonard Cohen’s older sister Esther during the mid-’50s. Soon after, Jane and Leonard Cohen frequented Washington Square Park and the smoky poetry cafes of Greenwich Village, years before the minstrel had published his first song. Jane Greer’s first New York art show was in 1963, four years before the Summer of Love. She was an artist
Jane Greer at a book par ty at her loft in 1989.
in the ’60s, as well as an artist of the ’60s, a divorced young woman whose autonomous, independent lifestyle in Downtown New York was itself a revolutionary product of the period. Former Lower Manhattan City Councilmember Alan J. Gerson knew Jane for more than 40 years. “As one of the very early Soho artists taking up loft residence for her family and her art in 1975, Jane Greer helped pioneer the transformation of Soho from a desolate, former manufacturing area to a vibrant center for art,” Gerson said. “Her own iconic works
of art continue to occupy an important place in the Downtown art scene. Her outspoken persona occupied an important place in the Soho social scene. As recently as last summer, she could be seen holding court at her regular outdoor table at Silver Spurs on LaGuardia Place or near musicians in Washington Square Park. “As a councilmember and friend,” Gerson added, “I always appreciated her political and personal words of advice. Jane has moved on to the next realm. But she will endure forever in the hearts of her husband, children and
grandchildren, whom she loved and who loved her passionately, as she endures in our community fabric.” Jost Elfers, a publisher and longtime Greenwich Village resident, lived with his artist partner Pat Steir in the Wooster St. loft building Jane shared during the ’80s. “I have known Jane for 35 years,” Elfers said. “She was one of the best silhouette paper cutters in the world. Jane needed to have a scissor in her hand and cut papers for hours a day. She was a Buddhist sympathizer and this was her meditation. It is great art in the school of Henri Matisse: She is a third-generation paper cutter of an excellent kind. And because she did it more than 10,000 hours, because she was a manic paper cutter to keep herself sane and sound, in the end she got very good at it.” Throughout her adult life, Jane carried the soul of the artist into every moment of her spiritually rich, magnificently active life. She was a tireless walker and a voracious reader, spending hours browsing and buying books at the Strand each week. Jane leaves behind her loyal, everunderstanding husband of 50 years, the art dealer Manuel Greer. The couple met at Greer Gallery, at 35 W. 53rd St., right near the Museum of Modern Art, when Jane saw a painting she liked in the window and came inside to talk about it with the gallerist. They married in 1968, and Manuel became the sober, gracious foundation upon which she grew her life and work, the life partner that once she married, she could never live without. Together with their extended families, the couple celebrated Jewish life and holidays while embarking upon decades of spiritual exploration that took them to India for weeks each year to learn from the teachers Osho and Papaji. Osho told his students to “Get Out of Your Own Way,” and Jane Greer modeled this easily, opening her life to new ideas and artistic exploration not as a follower, but by living as an authentic, one-of-a-kind Downtown New York artist.
Letters to The Editor LETTERS continued from p. 6
the Rain Forest Alliance, were important to her. Therese loved Baroque and early modern music from the Renaissance, and we went to numerous concerts, as well as listening to such music at home. The Christmas season kept us busy going to concerts all over the city, which I always enjoyed greatly.
Therese and I had many conversations about religion. She was very interested in all belief systems and their histories and read and studied them. Her inclinations leaned to environmental paganism and Buddhism. However, as far as I know she was an atheist during the time I knew her. One could easily interpret her life in terms of religious morality, albeit minus the self-righteousness that religious
dogma enables. She was compassionate, generous with her time, hardworking and loving. She never (or seldom) spoke ill of others, and always tried to help in any situation, whenever she could. She never sought attention and would shy from the spotlight. She was my partner, my best friend and the most moral person I have ever known. Carl Watson
E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager. com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 MetroTech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.
Januar y 4, 2018
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
Januar y 4, 2018
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.
January 4, 2018