The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
January 11, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 2
Speaker Johnson faces bleak budget realities of Trump’s America BY DUNCAN OSBORNE
s Corey Johnson assumes the role of speaker of the City Council, he has made some important and expensive promises that multiple constituencies are expecting him to keep. But he is also facing the prospect of cuts in federal and state dol-
lars that could make fulfilling those promises difficult. “Almost a third of our budget is from the state and federal governments,” said the 35-year-old, who is beginning his second term representing a district that includes the West Village, Chelsea and Hell’s JOHNSON continued on p. 10
Still creating after all these years: Westbeth Housing honors ‘Icons’ BY REBECCA FIORE
hotographer Diane Arbus, actor Vin Diesel and painter Robert De Niro Sr. are some of the notable alumni who have walked the halls of Westbeth Artists Housing. But few still living there now have been at the residence since its very begin-
ning. When she was 50, Edith Stephen moved into the 348-unit complex, at 55 Bethune St., between Washington and West Sts., in 1970, the same year it opened. Forty-eight years later, at age 97, she’s still there, she’s still creating, and she isn’t planICONS continued on p. 4
Fred Bass with his daughter, Nanc y Bass W yden, outside the legendar y Strand Bookstore, at Broadway and E. 12th St.
Fred Bass, 89, built Strand into a world-famous brand BY REBECCA FIORE
red Bass bled books. Many described him as a ruthless businessman who transformed the meaning of a bookstore time and time again. As the sole survivor of Book Row, where 48 bookstores once stood on Fourth Ave. between Union Square and Astor Place, the Strand Bookstore has evolved into a New York City staple, by keep-
The snow was the show ..........p. 9
ing its focus on community and, of course, books. Bass died in the early morning of Jan. 3 in his Midtown apartment from congestive heart failure at age 89. He is survived by his wife, Patricia; his sisters, Dorothy Bass and Eleanor Allen; his daughter, Nancy Bass Wyden; her husband, Oregon state Senator Ron Wyden; and their children, Ava Rose, William Peter and Scarlett Willa. Bass was born on June 28,
1928, at Beth Israel Hospital in the East Village. His father, Benjamin, opened the bookstore in 1927, and Fred would take over in 1956. The year after taking the reins of the Strand, Fred Bass moved it to its current location at 828 Broadway, at the corner of E. 12th St. In 1997, he bought the building for $8.2 million. The Strand sells books on three-and-a-half floors of the building. Half of one floor STRAND continued on p. 6
Scoopy: Pies and drugs and WikiLeaks .............p. 2 Union Square hit-run driver is arrested ............p. 3 www.TheVillager.com
PIES AND DRUGS AND WIKILEAKS: Some readers got a kick out of our report last month that Roger Stone, the notorious G.O.P. lobbyist and Donald Trump campaign adviser, allegedly tried to buy marijuana from the former Yippie Cafe, at 9 Bleecker St., after Stone spoke there in 2008. Aron Kay, “The Yippie Pie Man,” said Stone called him on the phone back then to score, but Kay hit him with a virtual pie of a snub, telling him, “I don’t know you.” Well, since then we’ve found ourselves texting a bit with Stone. His first text to us arrived at 4 a.m. one morning the other week, when he sent us an article predicting that, after Robert Mueller’s “Russiagate” and obstruction probe fails to pan out, Trump’s own cabinet will seek to oust him from office as unfit. (We should note Stone’s Wikipedia page also describes him as a “conspiracy theorist,” among other things.) Anyway, getting back to whether Stone tried to buy pot at the Yippie Cafe, he texted us back, “Saw that you reported that. Have no memory of it whatsoever. More importantly, I spoke at the Yippie Museum in opposition to the War on Drugs and the Rockefeller Drug Laws.” We “hit” him back, saying it was a good speech — and a person might even have mistaken him for a liberal from it. “I am a libertarian rather than a conservative,” Stone text-plained to us. “Randy Credico is the guy who opened my eyes to the fact that the War on Drugs was an ignominious, racist failure and that New York State’s Rockefeller Drug Laws were among the worst. Randy arranged for me to speak at an anti-Rockefeller Drug Laws rally that Russell Simmons and Al Sharpton also spoke at.” (Sorry to #MeToo for mentioning dog Simmons here.) It was Credico who had invited Stone to speak at a comedy night he was hosting at the Yippie Cafe, after which Stone had his alleged phone encounter with Kay. Credico and Stone had originally met back while working on Tom Golisano’s campaign for New York State governor. Stone recently fingered Credico to the House Intelligence Committee as his “back channel” to Julian Assange — as in, the guy who intro’d the two, which is supposedly how Stone somehow had advance knowledge that the WikiLeaks leader was going to do a massive preelection online dump of private e-mails by John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s cam-
Januar y 11, 2018
A screen grab from a YouTube video showing Randy Credico, left, and Roger Stone at the former Yippie Cafe at a comedy night Credico hosted there nine years ago.
paign manager, and the Democratic National Committee. Although the House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Credico to give a deposition on Dec. 15, he took the Fifth Amendment, and the committee then waived the appearance. Congress then was out of session for two weeks at the end of last month for the midwinter break, and there has been no update since after the committee members returned to D.C. last week. Martin Stolar, Credico’s attorney, said the Intel Committee has three options: Just let Credico slide and not even tell him about it; tell him they are just letting him slide; or grant him immunity, so that he can testify without fear of implicating himself — though it’s very hard to get immunity, Stolar noted. Oliver North and the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s, of course, is an example that springs to mind. Stolar said he is sure a U.S. grand jury has already tried Assange in absentia and there is a “sealed indictment” ready to be slapped on him as soon as he exits the embassy. For the record, Credico told us Stone did ultimately buy pot from someone at the Yippie Cafe, though not from “The Pie Man.” Credico said whether the Intel Committee wants to talk to him again is definitely not on the front burner at the moment since the big issue right now is whether the Ecuadorian embassy in London will kick Assange out of the place, where he has been holed up for nearly the last half-dozen years. Following WikiLeaks’ e-mail dumps during the U.S. election, his star has dimmed
on the liberal left. Plus, the Ecuadorian embassy staff are reportedly just tired of hosting the high-profile hacktivist. “He hasn’t tweeted in five days,” a concerned Credico said of Assange this Wednesday. Has the embassy cut the Australian’s Internet access again? Getting back to Stone — who may or may not have bought pot at 9 Bleecker St., we may never know for sure — we asked him his thoughts on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s announced plan to crack down on states that have legalized medical and / or recreational weed. “The president’s position is clear — he supports the states’ rights to legalize marijuana, which 29 states have now done,” Stone texted us. “He needs to call off his misguided attorney general! All on the record,” he stressed. He added, “I don’t believe Sessions’s policy was cleared with the president.” Stone noted that he is a founder of the Cannabis Coalition, a bipartisan organization that includes Bill Maher, Judge Andrew Napolitano, John Morgan, Congressmember Matt Gaetz, Credico and others. ... Whew! Someone told us this all reminds them of a modern version of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”
ACKERS ARE BACK: The Kathy Acker Awards, hosted by Clayton Patterson, and emceed this year by Kembra Pfahler, will be held at Theatre 80, at 80 St. Mark’s Place, on Sun., Jan. 21. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the awards ceremony starts at 7 p.m. The awards, created and produced by Patterson, are
“a tribute given to members of avantgarde arts community who have made outstanding contributions in their discipline in defiance of convention, or else served their fellow writers and artists in outstanding ways.” This year, there will be pre-show entertainment by Keith Patchel and his Venus Ensemble. Featured performers include Clara Francesca, Alexis Kandra, Cantata Fan, Sayaka Aiba, Kelsey S. Brewer and Jo Eubanks and special guest poet Bob Holman. This year’s honorees include Philly Abe (Leslie Sternbergh) and Adam Alexander for Lifetime Achievement; Eugene Fedorko, Kate Huh, Jim Fouratt and Charles Krezell for Community Activist; Lorcan and Genie Otway for Community Support; Deborah Pintonelli, Julie Patton, Chavisa Woods, Susan Sherman and Edward “Eak” Arrocha for Writing; Jeffrey Cyphers Wright, Tod Lippy and Foxy Kidd for Publishing; Roman Primitivo Albear (a.k.a. primitivo luna) for Theater; Shane Elhome, Sally Young, Chris Tanner, Joanne Pagano Weber, Emma Griffins, Kasoundra Kasoundra and Steve Ellis for Art; Bruce Weber and Betty LaRoe for Poetry; Ruby Lynn Reyner, Perry Masco (a.k.a. PeeWee), Kathryn Bloss and Jemeel Moondoc for Music; Katrina del Mar for Film; and David Leslie, Rolando Vega and Jaguar Mary X for Performance. Jay “Blond Boy” Wilson will be the usher and tech. This year, the awards will honor outstanding individuals who contributed to the arts who were lost to AIDS. TheVillager.com
POLICE BLOTTER Hit-and-run bust A suspect has been arrested in the Nov. 14 hit-and-run in Union Square that left a young chef dead. According to the Daily News, police said that Xavier Ward, 23, was collared Tues., Jan. 9, for running over Adrian Blanc and fleeing the seen. Ward had reportedly been turning left onto Union Square East from E. 14th St. He was driving a rented Zip Car, later found ditched in a Brooklyn parking lot, cops said. Blanc, 34, an executive chef at Hill and Bay, at E. 32nd St. and Second Ave., succumbed to his injuries the next day. The Venezuelan immigrant, who lived in Brooklyn, had recently become a U.S. citizen and planned to marry soon. In addition to leaving the scene of an accident, Ward was charged with driving without a license.
Drugstore cowboy Police said a robber who simulates having a handgun inside his coat while threatening store employees has knocked off three Downtown chain drugstores from mid-December to early January. On Mon., Dec. 18, around 7:50 a.m., the suspect first reportedly hit the CVS at 65 Fifth Ave., at E. 14th St., removing $150 from the cash register before fleeing. Next, around 10 a.m. on Tues., Dec. 26, the same guy struck the Walgreens at 145 Fourth Ave., at E. 14th St., swiping $500 from the till before hightailing it out of the place. Finally, on Tues., Jan. 2, around 12:30 a.m., he robbed the CVS at 360 Sixth Ave., between Waverly and Washington Place, grabbing $650 before fleeing. Police said on Dec. 26, he struck Uptown, hitting a Dunkin’ Donuts on E. 138th St., fleeing with $1,700. The suspect is described as around 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighing 170 pounds, last seen wearing a light-blue hooded sweatshirt underneath a dark-blue hooded jacket.
Subway ‘psycho’ A man who allegedly knocked a subway rider out, then watched a train hit the victim’s head, before punching him yet again, turned himself in early Wednesday, the Daily News reported. Benjamin Gonzalez, 24, and a sidekick are suspected of punching Francis Michael Christie in the head once on a Union Square subway platform at about 2:50 a.m. on Dec. 16. Christie, 41, was knocked to the ground, with his head then hanging over the platform edge, before a Q train slammed into his skull, a criminal complaint reads. Gonzalez, who is from Queens, then callously yanked Christie back onto the platform and reportedly slugged him in the head again. TheVillager.com
The second suspect, who was described as Asian, is still at large. Both perps were captured on surveillance video. Gonzalez was charged with assault and reckless endangerment. Christie, who is an artist from Flatbush, Brooklyn, remains at Bellevue Hospital, where he is still recovering, the News said. “He’s up walking some,” his mother, Joy Wells, said. “They’ve had him going up some steps. But he’s still not talking.” She said he asked for his phone and was able to remember his password. She said that before the horrific attack he had been looking forward to an upcoming art show in Greenpoint, at which several of his new pieces would be displayed. Anyone with information is asked to call the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS, or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting them to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.
Some serious coin A Village man was robbed of his collectible coins on Fri., Dec. 1, at 6:30 p.m., by a tech guy he found online, police said. The resident, 73, hired the man to fix his computer inside 183 Thompson St. and once the work was finished, he noticed his coins were gone. No one else was in the apartment other than the two men. The victim told cops he found the suspect on Craigslist and believed he was the person who stole the property. The coins are valued at $8,000. Seif Cheruba, 30, was arrested Wed., Jan. 3, for felony grand larceny.
Jane tag team Police have made a second collar in the theft of a woman’s purse at The Jane hotel on Nov. 10. On Wed., Jan. 3, Hasan Jones, 30, was arrested for felony grand larceny. This follows the Dec. 7 arrest of Jessica Nuñez, 31, who received the same charge in the incident. According to police, a woman put her bag down at hotel hot spot, at 113 Jane St., at 3 a.m., to dance with friends and when she returned, it was missing. 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. The victim’s iPhone was tracked to Yonkers using Find My iPhone.
F train fatal A man leaped to his death in front of
an F train at the Delancey St. station on Fri., Jan. 5, around 1 p.m., and later died at the scene of his injuries, police said. The Daily News reported that the train’s conductor told police he was entering the station when he saw the victim leap off the platform onto the tracks, according to police sources.
CVS boost A woman tried to take items from the CVS at 65 Fifth Ave., at E. 14th St., on Tues., Jan. 2, at 10 p.m., police said. The suspect tried to leave with the items, and when she was caught, she pushed the security guard while attempting to exit. She allegedly took Red Bull, Dove soap, ice cream and makeup, with a combined value of $169. Erika Johnson, 32, was charged with attempted felony robbery.
Standard scam An employee at The Standard, at 848 Washington St., used the names and room numbers of guests at the Meatpacking District hotel to obtain goods and food on Tues., Aug. 8, at noon, police said. The total value of the items was $3,000.
Deandre J. Santee, 29, was arrested Wed., Jan. 3, for felony grand larceny. Police said that, when searched, he was found in possession of a bag of a controlled substance.
Stealing in style Police said that on Fri., Dec. 29, between 6 p.m. and 7:36 p.m., two suspects obtained a 30-year-old man’s debit card information and used it to make unauthorized purchases at three different chic clothing boutiques. The pair of perps first entered Goorin Bros., at 337 Bleecker St., and bought $584 worth of fancy hats; next the Journelle shop, at 125 Mercer St., where they purchased $803 worth of luxury lingerie; and finally the Gant men’s clothing boutique, at 353 Bleecker St., where they used the ill-gotten card to pay for $841 worth of “classic”-style clothing. Both men were said to be in the early to mid20s. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline. (See above.)
Tabia C. Robinson and Lincoln Anderson
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Westbeth honors its ‘Iconic’ veterans 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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Januar y 11, 2018
WESTBETH continued from p. 1
ning on stopping anytime soon. As the second artist to be featured in the newly created Westbeth Icon series, sponsored by the Westbeth Artists Resident Council, or WARC, Stephen said it’s about time. “Actually, I deserved an Icon for living this long, for being active,” the former dancer-turned-documentary filmmaker said. “I’m going to be a little egotistical. I am not humble about it.” Sandra Kingsbury, the performing-artists chairperson of WARC, said the goal of the Icon series is to highlight and document the history of senior artists living and working in the Westbeth community. “We are all very aware of so many artists who have lived here and have worked right up until their deaths,” she said. “We think it’s something that keeps them going but also contributes to their production for their entire lives. There’s no retirement. That’s so awe-inspiring to the world and Westbeth has really given them this opportunity to do this. We want to celebrate that.” The Icon series was born out of interviews fellow resident Terry Stoller conducted of older artists called “Profiles in Art: Conversations with Westbeth’s Artists.” The format for the Icon series consists of a short film and interview of the artist, followed by a ceremony at which people give speeches on the artist’s impact. Jack Dowling was the first to be honored at a Nov. 19 ceremony in the Westbeth Community Room, which was attended by about 50 to 70 people. The painter, printmaker and writer has been living at Westbeth for nearly four decades. He even served as the Westbeth Gallery director for more than 12 years. Kingsbury said there are no specific criteria for how an artist is selected. All mediums are welcome, and they have been trying to find as many different disciplines to feature as possible. “Jack has been a visual artist,” she said. “Several years ago, he turned to writing and has an active writing life. And Edith, who danced her whole life, became a filmmaker. For a dancer to be aging and not dance anymore, she was able to take her creative spirit and funnel it into another art form in making movies.” Stephen has made a handful of documentaries, available on YouTube, over the years, including “Split / Scream,” tales about Westbeth housing; “Paradise Deranged,” about Greenwich Village’s rapid gentrification; and “The Invisible Writer Becomes Visible,” the story of her husband of 48 years. Stephen said she switched to filmmaking after dancing no longer gave her the release and freedom she needed. “I decided it wasn’t enough for me to do dance because it didn’t tell enough about me personally,” she said. “I was very interested in politics. I could speak more of my ideas through film.” Kingsbury said WARC plans to announce about six more Icon honorees in 2018. They hope to keep recognizing more artists, and
In her later years, Edith Stephen has turned her creative talents toward documentar y filmmaking.
Jack Dowling was named the first Westbeth Icon.
When she was a younger woman, Edith Stephen’s ar tistic focus was dance.
cataloguing their life’s work. Both Stephen and Dowling said they appreciate being surrounded by working artists. “The opportunities that were here because it was a building full of artists only enriched their own artistic lives,” Kingsbury said. Stephen thinks there isn’t enough appre-
ciation for artists nowadays and that there should be more artists housing available, especially outside of the city. “The artists are a special people,” she said. “They are still very much alive at every age and they are optimistic.” Stephen will be honored Thurs., Jan. 18, at 7 p.m., in the Westbeth Community Room. TheVillager.com
Kids are anxious? Send ’em to the grocery store RHYMES WITH CRAZY BY LENORE SKENAZY
t’s not your imagination. Kids are getting more anxious, depressed and hypersensitive. A teacher in Education Week magazine wrote that anxiety “has become the most significant obstacle to learning among my adolescent students.” They’re not only skipping homework assignments, they’re skipping school — weeks and weeks of it. “School refusal,” as it’s known, is becoming so widespread that a Pennsylvania school district just hired a social worker to work solely on this issue. And the stats are, ironically enough, anxiety-producing, too. Parents Magazine reports that 10 percent of kids are suffering from anxiety. By the time they’re in high school, that number is 25 percent, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. And when they get to college? Since 1985, the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA has been asking incoming students if they agree: “[I] feel overwhelmed by all I had to do.” That
first year, 18 percent said yes. By 2016, 41 percent did. What gives? In a giant article about anxiety, The New York Times reported that among teachers, “one word — ‘resiliency’ — kept coming up. More and more students struggle to recover from minor setbacks and aren’t ‘equipped to problem-solve or advocate for themselves effectively.’ ” If only there was an easy, fast, free way to make kids less anxious. I think there is. The key is that this new deficiency is not innate. Kids aren’t suddenly being born less resilient. Something is making them that way, and that “something” is a lack of practice. You can’t get good at throwing a ball without practice. And you can’t get good at problem solving and bouncing back if you never get practice at those. Which kids don’t. Parents have been told that they must watch their kids 24/7 and smooth their path all the way. So it’s no surprise that kids can’t solve problems — we’re always right there, solving them! And when kids lose a soccer game, we’re there with a trophy. And when kids are old enough to walk to school, we walk them anyway, (or, worse, drive them). How can we get brave enough to give our kids back the independence their
mental health depends on? Have them do “The Let Grow Project.” The project, an initiative of the nonprofit I run, works like this: On a certain date, the teachers tell their students that they’re going to do the Let Grow Project. All they have to do is go home and ask their parents if they can do one thing that they feel they’re ready to do that, for one reason or another, they haven’t done yet: Walk the dog. Make dinner. Run an errand. Because the project is endorsed by the school, and because other families are doing it, too, most of the parents say yes. Then they figure out, with their kid, what their particular project will be. And then, sometime over the course of the week, the kid goes and does it, alone or with a friend. When the kid walks through the door with the half-gallon of milk he got by himself from the deli, the parents are not just proud. They are ecstatic. Their reaction is almost bizarrely out of proportion with what the kids just did. Maybe they spent an hour outside with a friend, or took the bus to karate. Whatever minor thing, it is a major breakthrough. In fact, it is so major that it might be the key to the resilience kids are lacking. That’s because after parents see for themselves — even once — how com-
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Januar y 11, 2018
Fred Bass, 89, built Strand into world-famous brand STRAND continued from p. 1
is used for the Strand’s offices, while another floor is for storage. The store also has a storage unit in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, for more books. Bass worked in the store until his retirement this past November. His daughter, Nancy, has since taken over the store. “For over 30 years, I have had the privilege of working alongside of my dad managing the store,” Nancy Bass said in a statement. “He never had an office and loved when customers told him they enjoyed ‘getting lost in the stacks.’ He spent all of his time behind the buying desk, eager to see what treasures would come across it.” Fred Bass’s business model, taken from his father’s playbook, had always been to keep buying more books. In a 2015 interview with cable news channel NY1 Bass said, “You can’t sell a book you don’t have.” Jim Drougas, the owner of Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books, at 34 Carmine St., said he knew Bass from childhood and worked alongside him in the industry for decades. Drougas was a book wholesaler for many years, constantly delivering to Bass. “I could always count on Fred to spend $500 to $1,000 every time I visited,” he said. “I would bring samples of books, had hundreds of copies, and sometimes his buyer would negotiate prices and Fred always wanted to be fair. He was always pushing the envelope in my favor.” The Strand has expanded over the years with name-brand recognition, ratcheting up its collection to “18 Miles of Books,” which is also its slogan, featured on tote bags, pins and its signs. In fact, 15 percent of the store’s sales come from shirts, bags and buttons, designed by staffers and local artists. “People from all over the world come in,” Drougas said. “He built the store into the collective unconscious. People come from Japan to get a bag — they don’t need a book.” Drougas recalled being at a party at the Strand with Bass last spring. “A lot of people in the industry came,” he said. “Fred was fragile already then. I sat down with him and told him what an influence he was, which he already knew, and reminded him what a big impact he had as a bookseller. I showed him a flier for my shop that said ‘One-eighth of a mile of books’ and he got such a big kick out of it.” Along with expanding locations to kiosks at Central Park, and pop-ups during the holidays, the store also carved out an event space in the store for panels, readings and discussions. Susan Shapiro, a bestselling author and writing professor at The New School, said she owes partial credit for her career’s success to Bass. “Doing book events there raised my profile a lot,” she said, adding that the store always live streams events for those who can’t attend. “We could sell a couple
Januar y 11, 2018
Fred Bass at the Strand at an unknown date.
hundred of books at an event, then tape it, and then I would get tons of phone calls from new students who wanted to take my class based on the event.” While events cost a $15 gift card, Shapiro said, for her students who could not afford the fee, Bass would let her cover it, and have her pay him back in book purchases later. Although a shrewd businessman, Bass was also known for his generosity. A former employee who worked as a bookseller in the late 1970s, who asked not to be identified, said soon after she was hired, she unexpectedly became pregnant and, with no family support to turn to, felt hopeless. “I was clocking out,” she recalled. “The time clock was right by the desk where Fred stood all day buying used books. When I saw him, I burst into tears and kind of blurted out, ‘I’m pregnant and I need an abortion.’ He reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of cash and gave it to me along with his hanky.” Shapiro said one of the most amazing ongoing features of the Strand — which she first remembers from back when she moved to New York in 1981 — is the $1 book carts outside. “If you have $3 to your name, you can buy three books, that’s huge,” she said. “That’s very exciting to be able to go to a bookstore and buy poetry books, and they were good books. It might be the only bookstore that I’ve been going to since 1981 that is still standing.” Shapiro also spent much of her time selling back the books sent to her by publishers for her to review. She said many did not understand the importance of Bass’s business.
“I made $8,000 in one year selling books back to the Strand,” she said. As with every operation the Strand ran, it was sophisticated and smooth. Shapiro said someone would come to pick up the books from her and hand her either a check or cash. “It was really a huge deal,” she said. “I didn’t know any place else that did that, not on that scale.” She recalled Bass as a fierce businessman. “I would have a $22 Random House book and he would give me 50 cents for it,” she said. “He would say, ‘I have 50 of these.’ But Fred’s truck would come pick them up and he would send me a check. I couldn’t be schlepping boxes of books around. He was ruthless businesswise, but a very kind person.” Andrew Blauner, a literary agent, has held a number of book events at the store, though never met Bass. He said he grew up in the Village and viewed the Strand as a personal sanctuary. “There’s something about that store that has been a place of comfort and safety and connection,” he said. “It was and is a really special, cherishable and unique haven. I won’t ever get to meet Fred and I’m forever in debt to him.” Donald Schmitt, who lives in Jersey City, has been coming to the Strand for more than 20 years. He said he did not know Bass personally, but remembers seeing him around the store all the time. He said the staff is always attentive and helpful. “It’s a great selection,” he said while sitting on a bench and reading on the store’s basement level. “A lot of books at half price or even less than that. It’s a
much more personal place than Barnes & Noble.” In an age of ever-growing technology, plus Amazon Prime, many bookstores have fallen into trouble. Leigh Altshuler, the Strand’s director of communications, said that, in order to stay afloat, Bass focused on what the Internet can’t provide. “We have an event almost every day or twice a day,” she said. “That’s not an experience you can get on a Kindle.” Additionally, the store has a program called “Books by the Foot,” through which people can customize book collections and / or rent books for interior decorators, set designers, commercial spaces and personal libraries. Currently, the Strand is collecting stories from the community about Bass, according to Altshuler. She said the store would most likely have some type of gallery displaying these shared memories later in the year. “His passion and dedication was extremely noticeable,” she said. “His dedication kept things moving in the right direction. He supported so many careers. He was very focused on the community and keeping it together and using a store as a place for that.” Drougas said Bass’s obsession with books could be felt and appreciated citywide. “New Yorkers love books,” he said. “Books are ingrained into the blood of New Yorkers. Even people who become New Yorkers — books seep into their veins.” Bass’s family wished that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Police Athletic League and God’s Love We Deliver. TheVillager.com
Write a letter to the editor firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit us at www.thevillager.com Fred Bass as a baby with his mother in Tompkins Square Park in 1928. TheVillager.com
Januar y 11, 2018
EDITORIAL Thanks, Fred
ith the passing of the Strand Bookstore’s Fred Bass last Wednesday at age 89, the Village lost one of its true literary and business legends. Bass’s father, Benjamin, a Lithuanian immigrant, opened the Strand in 1927 at Eighth and Greene Sts. — though it was first called the Pelican Book Shop. Fred was born the next year. Shortly thereafter, Benjamin moved the shop to Fourth Ave., to what was then known as Book Row. Fred Bass started working at the store at age 13, going on to become the place’s manager in 1956, when he was in his late 20s. In all, he worked at the Strand for more than seven decades. Today, the Strand is Book Row’s only survivor. And in an era when independent bookstores are fading, the Strand is still going strong, known around the world as a literary mecca. Although Bass a few years ago turned over most of the responsibility for running the business to his daughter, Nancy Bass Wyden, he only officially retired just a couple of months ago. Simply put, the Village — and New York, for that matter — wouldn’t be the same without the Strand. The Village, since at least the early 1900s, has been a center of literary ferment. In the 1950s and ’60s, the Beats made it their stomping ground. Writers have always flocked to the Village’s parks, cafes and cultural happenings to find like-minded souls. Art, poetry, beauty, ideas, history, politics, love, health, revolution, endless possibilities — all can be found within the walls of a great bookstore like the Strand. It’s an embodiment of the creative and intellectual soul and spirit of the Village — and also of what is increasingly “the Village of the mind,” as gentrification has changed the landscape so much. Perusing the endless and carefully cultivated (and discounted) offerings on the store’s book tables or wandering among its shelves — i.e., “the stacks” — is the farthest thing possible from buying a book on Amazon with an antiseptic plastic mouse click or a tap on a smartphone screen. For example, you might find yourself — as we once did not too long ago — in the Strand’s stacks and notice a book title, “Manchild in the Promised Land,” by Claude Brown, that has a familiar ring, but you aren’t exactly sure what it’s about. So you check out the first page to see if the writing style and subject grab you, and they do, and you buy it. And you find that you can’t stop reading the book and touching its tactile, paper pages, and find it to be a tour de force — plus, with a fair amount of action happening in the Village, to boot (after Brown moves down here from Harlem). Or you might randomly bump into a friend or neighbor while at the Strand and catch up with him or her. Maybe you might strike up a conversation with a stranger or a staffer. On the one hand, the Strand has thankfully kept its authentic, distinctly noncorporate flavor. But it has also “kept up with the times,” by holding daily events and live-streaming them and so forth. One of the best moves Bass ever made was to buy the building. That is likely a big reason why the Strand is still standing amid an era of hypergentrication. It’s a sobering fact — but it’s part of this story — a story through which Fred Bass’s life and love for books are indelibly interwoven. Thanks, Fred, for the Strand and your great love of books.
Januar y 11, 2018
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR ‘Fake’ L train crisis To The Editor: Re “L shutdown plan a real train wreck, residents say” (news article, Dec. 21): It is clear at this point that the “mitigation plan” for the L train shutdown was an attempt to capitalize on the “crisis” created by this event. The plan presented is part of a continued effort by the Department of Transportation and former Mayor Bloomberg’s astroturf group to eliminate and / or inconvenience vehicular traffic in the area. The pedestrian plazas creating the extension of the sidewalks are intended to throttle vehicular traffic and to create plazas for privatization of the city streets for D.O.T.-sponsored vending and food trucks. The only purpose of extending the sidewalks is to destroy the functionality of 14th St. The fact that it is not necessary. As a resident of 13th St., I feel doubly threatened. The local politicians who have been behind much of the recent traffic throttling say they were blindsided by the plan. I don’t know why they say that since it is a logical extension of what they have approved so far. The destruction of the functionality of a residential street, though, is a new one. The two-way bike lane, which would leave an 11-foot-wide moving roadway, is a bizarre idea. The street would be totally blocked when the U.S. Postal Service, the Department of Sanitation, delivery vehicles and Access-A-Ride stop to pick up or conduct their business. Indeed, it is intended to do that. The two-way bike lane also endangers the residents of the street who must use fire, E.M.S. or police services since it stops traffic and prevents emergency vehicles from getting to the problem. It is engineered to do that. There are doctors’ offices whose patients use Access-A-Ride services who would have to cross a moving bike path while using walkers. None of this matters to D.O.T. When you create transportation policies that are based on ideology and are without balance, you will create bad policies. This is what has happened as astroturf groups have come to dominate transportation policy without regard to commercial activity, residents’ safety or balanced transportation policies that can use each mode of transportation to complement the other. As these policies are implemented, they may prevent the use of driverless cars in this city (including
electric). This is not the way cities in this country are moving. Bicycles move such a small percentage of passengers in this city that making them the centerpiece of everything — at least for public consumption — is not even believable as a policy. It’s about something else and that is Stalinist-type social engineering. If the elected officials who supposedly oversee this wish to create a real mitigation plan, let’s do that — and without input from the astroturfs. Let vehicular traffic continue to use the major crosstown street, and continue to keep private vehicular traffic an important part of the transport mix. Most of the major and most destructive of the aspects of the plan are not based on any type of real survey of needs or are created by throttling traffic in other areas. Let’s get rid of this nonplan and start by creating a real plan for continued traffic flow. The local politicians should be more honest in discussing these issues and stop framing them in the name of some greater good. As everyone knows, there will be no real chaos or crisis on 14th St. that requires social engineering. the crisis is in Brooklyn, which is being cut off from an important transportation route with inadequate replacements. John Wetherhold
Impressed by Johnson To The Editor: Re “Johnson cultivates Council, kingmakers to become speaker” (news article, Jan. 4): Corey Johnson has been my councilmember for three years. I have been impressed by his hard work and communication skills. He seems to be progressive like de Blasio, and seems as energetic and smart as de Blasio. I wish Johnson the best in his new role, with the understanding he is entering the lion’s den. If it does not work out, he would make a great C.E.O. of a company. Donnie Moder 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.
Snow was on show after the big storm SCENE
ast Friday, the day after the major snowstorm, Washington Square and its surroundings were a winter wonderland.
PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Januar y 11, 2018
Johnson faces budget realities of Trump’s U.S. JOHNSON continued from p. 1
Kitchen. “Until we have a better picture of what the impact is going to be from the state and federal level, we need to be even more fiscally prudent.” On Jan. 3, the day Johnson won the speaker’s job in a lopsided 48-1 vote in the 51-member City Council, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in his annual State of the State speech that New York was facing a $4 billion deficit in the fiscal year that begins on April 1 and the possibility of another $2 billion in cuts in federal aid. Those cuts will inevitably find their way into the city’s budget — which is $86 billion in the current fiscal year — in state aid cuts and in reduced direct federal aid to the city. Other reductions in revenue could result from the recently enacted federal tax reform law that allows taxpayers to deduct only the first $10,000 in state and local taxes on their federal returns. That could prompt some wealthier New York taxpayers who pay a large portion of city and state income taxes to decamp for lower tax states. “I believe we’ve done a good job so far at spending money on big-picture things that are important to the city while at the same time putting money away in reserves for when the downturn comes,” Johnson said during an hour-long interview with the NYC Community Media newspapers The Villager, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and Manhattan Express. “The downturn is coming.” There is no shortage of demands on the city’s budget. There are all the usual items that every politician must fund, such as police, the Fire Department, sanitation and the schools. Then there are the big-ticket items. AIDS groups have successfully lobbied the state and the city to implement the Plan to End AIDS, an ambitious undertaking that proposes to reduce new H.I.V. infections across the state to 750 a year by 2020. The city has said it will get the number down to 600 new H.I.V. infections annually by 2020. The plan uses anti-H.I.V. drugs to keep H.I.V.-negative people uninfected and H.I.V.-positive people uninfectious. The city also expanded services, such as housing and nutrition, for both groups to keep them healthy and taking their anti-H.I.V. drugs. The de Blasio administration and the City Council are committed to creating 200,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years, with just six years left now to achieve that goal. The administration and the City Council support closing Rikers Island, the city main jail, by 2027, which would likely mean opening additional jails elsewhere in the city or at least upgrading existing facilities. The city has at best a limited ability to raise revenues on its own. “Most of the city taxes except the
Januar y 11, 2018
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
Corey Johnson, the new speaker of the Cit y Council, at a one-hour sitdown with the editorial staff of the NYC Community Media newspapers on Tues., Jan. 9.
property tax are not within the purview of the City Council,” said Johnson, who is openly gay and H.I.V.-positive. “I wish the city had more taxing authority, but under the State Constitution, we don’t.” On affordable housing, at least part of the solution is not building new housing, which is expensive, but keeping the affordable units, such as rent-stabilized units, in place, restoring those illegally taken out of rent-stabilization, and pushing back against legal and illegal efforts to convert those homes to market-rate housing. “Number 1, it is cheaper in a very
significant way to preserve the affordable housing that currently exists in New York City,” Johnson stated. “The biggest way to do that is to strengthen the rent laws, which, sadly, the City Council has a very limited say over. It’s done by the State Legislature.” The city Rent Guidelines Board has approved small or no rent increases for rent-stabilized units in recent years. And the city can and has pushed back against landlords who have illegally converted rent-stabilized units to market rate, though some of that effort has relied on the city’s district attorneys, notably Cy Vance in Manhattan and
Eric Gonzalez in Brooklyn. The state Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the main agency that regulates housing, has been less effective. “New construction is very expensive,” Johnson said. “Construction costs for new housing have gone up dramatically over the past four years.” At the same time, like the mayor, Johnson favors a focus on supportive housing, which can be even more expensive than just building affordable units because supportive housing has the ongoing costs of providing social and health services to residents. “I really, really want to prioritize supportive housing,” he said. “Housing equals healthcare, as our friends in the H.I.V. community always said.” All of this means more costs and more pressure on the city budget. “There are going to be difficult choices to make,” Johnson said. “We are going to have a finite amount of tax dollars, and we’re going to have to figure out where we spend them.” These are the big-picture matters that the new speaker will have to attend to, but he cannot forget the district that first elected him to the Council in 2013 and elected him a second time last year. It appears he is keenly aware of that. On Jan. 3, he was running on little sleep and noted at least twice during the Council vote and at a later press conference how tired he was. Still, he showed up at a meeting of Community Board 4, an advisory body that he once served on and chaired, that evening. It was a surprise appearance. “My district office is going to continue to be a place for constituents to come when they need help with an issue, and I look forward to a continued partnership over the next four years,” he said at that meeting. “As your councilmember, I want to thank you for your friendship. I also want to let you know that I’m not going anywhere. I still live in Chelsea.” During his interview with NYC Community Media, Johnson brandished several sheets of paper that listed 50 items of importance to his district. He also had his deputy chief of staff for community affairs and his Council office chief of staff attend. He was careful to note stories or issues that had been covered in The Villager and Chelsea Now. There is all of this, and then there is politics. Johnson still seems young, but the arc of his career shows ambition and thought. His service on C.B. 4 shows he planned to run for his current Council seat well before the election, and he clearly began running for speaker several years ago. Term limits mean he is out of the Council in four years. So what is next? “I do want to serve in public office,” he said. “Four years from now is 60 political lifetimes from now. I don’t know what’s going to happen… I will run for something. ... Ask me in 20 months.” TheVillager.com
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PHOTOS BY Q. SAKAMAKI
Signs of Iranian dissent show in Union Square
ranian-Americans and supporters recently rallied in Union Square to cheer on the antigovernment protests in Iran. Unlike Iranâ€™s 2009 Green movement, which was led by
the educated, urban middle class, this new wave of outrage reflects the anger of the countryâ€™s working class, including from small-town conservative areas that the Islamic Republic consid-
ered its base, The Intercept reported. Iranians, particularly young people, including the educated young, are struggling under high inflation and unemployment. During most of their
lives, the country was under international sanctions. In return for Iran agreeing to limit its nuclear program, United Nations sanctions were lifted in January 2016.
Januar y 11, 2018
Arch ’nt yah glad to be reading your community newspaper?
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Januar y 11, 2018
New Name, Next Chapter for Refurbished PS122 ‘Coil’ poised to shufﬂe off; ‘East Village Series’ set to debut
Photo by Christian Miles
New name, same great location: PS122 is now Performance Space New York, at First Ave. and E. Ninth St.
BY TRAV S.D. January is a traditional time of regeneration, renewal and reinvention, when good news of any sort is widely celebrated. Longtime Downtown arts fans have much to cheer in that department now that PS122 has opened its doors to the public, for the first time in six years, for the 13th and final edition of their Coil Festival. With its welcome return to First Ave. and E. Ninth St. comes a new name: Performance Space New York. The East Village performance institution, shuttered since 2011, has received a top to bottom renovation, and since 2017, has been headed by a new executive artistic director, Jenny Schlenzka, formerly of MoMa PS1. In a time when the news cycle has been dominated by negative bulletins on nearly every front, here’s a potential hopeful development. Newcomers to New York may be forgiven for not even knowing that PS122 even existed, but it happens to be one of New York’s historically pivotal arts organizations. Founded in an abandoned school building by a bunch of artists in 1980 (the “PS” originally stood for “Public School”), the repurposed First Ave. building was transformed into Performance Space 122. Over the decades, the organization presented such groundbreaking performers as John Leguizamo, Eddie Izzard, Spalding Gray, Eric Bogosian, Karen Finley, Penny Arcade, Ethyl Eichelberger, Holly Hughes, Carmelita Tropicana, John Kelly, Elevator Repair Service, Reggie Watts, Young Jean Lee, Taylor Mac, Julie Atlas Muz, Richard Maxwell and Adrienne Truscott, among countless others. Its most legendary days happened under the artistic leadership of Mark Russell, who left in 2004 and now runs the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival (happening through Jan. 15; see publictheater.org). Over the ensuing decade, the organization was run by Vallejo Gantner, under whose watch the Coil Festival was started in 2006. The new Executive Artistic Director,
Photo by Zan Wimberley
Angela Goh’s “Desert Body Creep” (Jan. 16 & 17) “makes a case for transformation through a fantasy of decay.” TheVillager.com
COIL continued on p. 18 Januar y 11, 2018
COIL continued from p. 17
Jenny Schlenzka, was hired early last year, becoming the first female to head the organization. Originally from Berlin, Schlenzka was the Assistant Curator for Performance in the Department of Media and Performance Art at The Museum of Modern Art from 2008 to 2012, and then Associate Curator at MoMa PS1, where she established the interdisciplinary live program Sunday Sessions. “As a curator, I saw many shows at PS122 before it closed in 2011, and also in the Coil Festival in the years since,” said Schlenzka, who spoke with us before the organization’s updated name was announced. “But the more I learn about its history, the more and more I am amazed by what’s gone on here. I want the new PS122 to be the 2020 version of the original organization.” She added in a public statement, “What I have considered my job as a curator and now as a director of an institution is to create spaces for new things to happen, things that are of the here and now.” Central to the realization of these goals is their newly renovated facility, accomplished with the help and support of the City of New York, the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Department of Design and Construction over a period of six years. Among the most radical changes is that Performance Space New York’s performance spaces have been moved to the top floor. The two spaces, designed by Deborah Berke Partners, both feature lots of windows overlooking vistas below, and are designed to be flexible with regard to audience and performance configurations. The building has been made wheelchair accessible, has been brought into compliance with safety codes, and the theatres have been outfitted with state-of-the-art production equipment. The larger of the two theatres seats 199; the smaller
Photo by Peter Born
David Thomson’s “he his own mythical beast” (Jan. 31, Feb. 1-4) is “a meditation on the mythologies and contradictions of identity, race, gender, and the black body in post-modern American culture.”
one, 87. The building’s lower floors will be occupied by Mabou Mines, The Alliance for Positive Change, Painting Space 122, and a fifth tenant to be announced soon. “What’s especially nice about the architecture is that they managed to keep the spirit of how it used to look,” said Schlenzka, “The architect Deborah Berke was sensitive to that fact, that we wanted to keep the integrity of what was here before. You still believe it was a school building. As you walk through, there are different moments where they’ve reclaimed the old space. People have had high hopes, and when they’ve come in to see the spaces, their minds
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
By: Happenstance Theater
America’s Favorite The Girl Who Jumped Enough Vo5 Newscaster off the Hollywood Sign For the Universe
By Tom Attea By: Joanne Hartstone By: Melanie Maria Goodreaux “a comedic, existential Music By Arthur Abrams It’s the year 2097— Director: Vince Fusco escapade inspired by images of Directed By Mark Marcante What happens when America refugees fleeing on foot” Choreography by Angela Harriell Co-Producer: Matt Morillo
Performances: Thursday - Saturday 8:00 PM Sunday 3:00 PM Pay What You Can Dates Available
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Januar y 11, 2018
January 2 - 21
is run by the last three Black women on Earth?
Tuesday - Saturday 8:00 PM
Tuesday - Saturday 8:00 PM
Saturday & Sunday 3:00 PM
Saturday & Sunday 3:00 PM
are blown. People have cried when they’ve seen it.” Both of the new performance spaces will be open to the public for the first time for the Coil Festival. In addition, some of the Coil shows have been programmed in the Mabou Mines space, which is now where one of the old PS122 theaters used to be, on the ground floor. In conjunction with the unveiling of the renovated building and the launch of the Coil Festival, the organization is also rolling out a new branding initiative, including a new website undertaken by Performance Space New York Creative Technologist Alex Reeves. The lynchpin event of all this, the 2018 Coil Festival, takes place through Feb. 4, and will feature work by Seattle-based choreographer Heather Kravas and her company of nine dancers; Ethyl Eichelberger Award winner, composer/performer Dane Terry; Dean Moss and Gametophyte Inc. (his interdisciplinary company); Australian dancer/artist Atlanta Eke; multi-media dancer/performer David Thomson and company; and Sydney-based dancer/ performance artist Angela Goh. As for why this will be the final Coil Festival, Schlenzka pointed out, “Now that we have the building, we can program all year long. The festival was great, as it gave us a presence in New
York when the building was closed. It was just that all of our programming happened in one month. Now we’ll have something every week, although we’ll likely always do special programming in January.” And there are big things in store immediately after Coil. Schlenzka has planned semi-annual themed performance series. The inaugural series, focusing on the East Village itself (aptly named the East Village Series), is slated to kick off next month and go until June. “Times have changed, the neighborhood has changed,” said Schlenzka. “PS122 was originally created by artists, for artists. Our budget is much bigger now. Not so many of the artists live here any more. But it’s still about community, and the East Village is still the epicenter of that community. We’re in the unique position to be both relevant on an international level, and hyperlocal. I want people from the neighborhood to come in and socialize and see shows, but I want someone surfing the web in Australia to see what we do, too. This can be the place where they come together.” Performance Space New York is located at 150 First Ave., at E. Ninth St. For the Coil Festival tickets ($15-25), call 212-352-3101 or visit performancespacenewyork.org. TheVillager.com
Buhmann on Art ‘Cabinet of Horrors’ calls for waking up to resistance
Courtesy The Drawing Center
In the foreground of this installation shot, one of the drawn “dollar bills.”
Courtesy the artist
Judith Bernstein: “Seal of Disbelief” (2017. Mixed media on paper. 96 x 96 inches).
BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN Born in 1942, Judith Bernstein has long created radical drawings that address her feminist and anti-war activism. However, it was only recently, at the age of 72, that she finally achieved massive critical acclaim. Today, her oeuvre does not only seem as current as ever, but her unabashed, fearless outspokenness is much-needed. This well-timed exhibition presents a new body of work, made after last year’s elections, which was specifically commissioned by The Drawing Center. Eighteen new drawings, four large-scale paper panel TheVillager.com
Courtesy The Drawing Center
An installation shot of vintage piggy banks.
murals, a series of drawn “dollar bills,” and vintage piggy banks in vitrines make up the installation, while a series of free political campaign pins designed by Bernstein are available to all at the museum entrance. Like the painter Marilyn Minter, who recently curated a fantastic pop-up store with protest-inspired objects designed by various artists for the Brooklyn Museum, Bernstein calls for waking up to resistance. For Bernstein, engagement has never stopped. In fact, she began addressing social issues in her work in the 1960s, beginning with anti-Vietnam drawings and by creating monumental phalluses. Serving as a nod
to these roots, one of Bernstein’s earliest political drawings from 1969 opens “Cabinet of Horrors.” However, the core of the installation manifests as one powerful and outspoken critique of the current administration, in many cases by utilizing Trump’s own language. Through Feb. 4 at The Drawing Center (35 Wooster St., btw. Grand & Broome Sts.). Hours: Wed., Fri., Sat. & Sun., 12–6pm & Thurs., 12–8pm (free every Thurs., 6–8pm). General admission, $5 ($3 for students/ seniors, free for children under 12). Call 212-219-2166 or visit drawingcenter.org. Januar y 11, 2018
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Januar y 11, 2018
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Januar y 11, 2018
Januar y 11, 2018
Purple passion: An acai bowl at Happy Bowls features bananas, strawberries, peanut butter, coconut and granola atop a layer of tasty and healthy purple acai berries. You can also “build your own bowl.”
Smooth move: You’ll find an assor tment of fruit smoothies at Happy Bowls.
Happy Bowls duo high on acai Astor franchise BY EL ANA DURE
or Grace Figueroa and Amber Kulak, it all started with a Labor Day trip to the Hamptons. The friends had traveled the two-tothree-hour journey to Kulak’s summer place for a relaxing vacation weekend. Taking friends’ advice, the women decided to dine at Happy Bowls in Montauk, a unique acai bar with “fresh flavorful food” and a “happy healthy” vibe. They each ordered the PB&J Bowl for the perfect blend of acai, almond milk and an extra scoop of peanut butter. Little did they know the taste of that acai bowl would mark the start of their next adventure together. Back at their Chelsea apartment, the two roommates couldn’t get Happy Bowls out of their minds. They wanted more of the acai (pronounced “ahhsigh”) taste and were determined to recreate the experience at home. Browsing the Happy Bowls Web site for recipe ideas, Kulak found the chain’s franchise opportunity. After much thought and discussion, the pair decided to start a Happy Bowls location of their own. On Sept. 15 of last year, Figueroa and Kulak opened the doors to the first Happy Bowls franchise — in the East Village, at 61 Fourth Ave., between E. Ninth and 10th Sts., near Astor Place — bringing their love for acai to the public. (A third Happy Bowls is located in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.) “It’s just been a crazy rollercoaster and it’s like, ‘Wow, now we’re here,’” said Figueroa, who manages the restaurant’s daily operations. The roommates, who both worked as accountants, spent the past year collaborating with the company’s owners TheVillager.com
to open the New York City location. From leases to trash pickups to Department of Health inspections, the women said there was a lot they learned along the way. “We actually said we should write a ‘Franchise for Dummies in New York City’ because there are so many things you don’t realize that come with it,” said Kulak, who is responsible for what goes on behind the scenes. Now, after much hard work and determination, their 1,700-square-foot, 35-person-capacity space offers the right atmosphere for a healthy and natural acai bar, providing New Yorkers with a getaway that features bright colors and a beachy feel. And while their spot still sports the signature Happy Bowls vibe, Figueroa and Kulak added personal touches to make the location their own. The menu hosts three unique additions, including The Gramber Bowl, a strawberry and banana blend named for its creators, Grace and Amber. “When we started thinking about the business and whatnot, we wanted to make sure that it was a representation of the both of us,” Figueroa said. “That’s also how The Gramber Bowl was born. We combined the things that we loved and we created a bowl.” In addition to nine acai bowls, the menu offers build-your-own bowls, oatmeal bowls, poké bowls, smoothies, fresh-squeezed juices and coffee. Their signature bowls range from $9.25 to $10.95, or you can “build your own bowl,” starting from $8.25, and adding toppings. Figueroa and Kulak like to joke that their shop brought the Happy Bowls story full circle. The roommates explained
that the company’s founding couple consists of a New Yorker and a Puerto Rican, just the same as them. “The story is repeating itself,” Figueroa said. “It’s both of us at all times, holding each other’s hands and just making it
happen,” Figueroa said. Happy Bowls is open weekdays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and weekends, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For information, visit HappyBowls.com or call 917-261-6081.
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There’s an Urgent Care Center right on 14th Street. Perfect for us 40-ish skateboarders.
My Mount Sinai is
Mount Sinai Urgent Care Center • 10 Union Square East 646-568-5690 mountsinai.org/unionsquare
Januar y 11, 2018
January 11, 2018