The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933
January 25, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 4
City empties embattled Bowery building, saying it was ready to collapse BY LESLEY SUSSMAN
he fate of nearly 100 Chinatown tenants who were forced by the city, in frigid temperatures, to vacate 83-85 Bowery on Jan. 18 was one of the main concerns expressed by public speakers and Community Board 3 members at the full board’s first meeting
of 2018 this past Tuesday. The sudden evacuation came in response to a vacate order issued by the Department of Buildings after a judge-ordered inspection of the building, located between Hester and Canal Sts., found unstable stairways in the place BOWERY continued on p. 10
Brewer talks on charter revision, saving stores, congestion pricing, more BY PAUL SCHINDLER
n 1989, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that New York City’s powerful Board of Estimate, which gave each borough equal say despite enormous population disparities, violated the Constitution’s one-person-one-vote principle, voters approved the
most sweeping charter revision since the city became unified in 1898. Now, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer — joined by Public Advocate Letitia James — is calling on the City Council to convene a new charter revision commission to BREWER continued on p. 15
PHOTO BY Q. SAKAMAKI
At the Women’s March, many erupted in anger as they passed the Trump International Hotel and Tower. “Our rights are not up for grabs,” the woman’s sign read.
PINK POWER 200K march against Trump BY EILEEN STUK ANE
he pink “pussyhats” showed up on thousands of heads again as the second Women’s March on New York City brought an estimated 200,000 people out to protest against Donald Trump. They stretched along Central Park West up to W. 75th St., then marched across Central Park South and down Sixth Ave. to 43rd St. “I love the fact that I can-
She nourished Loisaida ......... p. 16
not see the end of this,” said Whoopi Goldberg, speaking from the platform stage at W. 61st St. Last year’s Women’s March, originally planned for Washington, D.C., inspired sameday Women’s Marches across the globe, an organic uprising of millions who were stunned by the 2016 election that made Trump America’s president. Worldwide this year, 280 Women’s Marches filled the streets simultaneously.
The mood of that first march was reactionary — an outlet was needed to oppose the misogyny that threatened women’s reproductive rights, and equal rights in general. Resistance was needed to protect freedom of the press, an expected assault on the environment and a feared crackdown on minority populations and immigrants. This time was different. Reaction has become action, MARCH continued on p. 6
‘Bodega bandits’ strike twice in Village .............p. 3 City Winery on a mission to Puerto Rico.......... ..p. 9 www.TheVillager.com
RAGBIR REPORT: After being detained during a routine check-in at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office at Broadway and Worth St. on Jan. 11, immigrant-rights activist Ravi Ragbir was promptly flown down to the Krome Detention Center in Miami. There, Ragbir, the executive director of the Judson Church-based New Sanctuary Coalition, was poised to be deported back to Trinidad. Ragbir’s lawyers quickly filed an appeal to block his deportation and also return him to the New York area. In Miami detention, Ragbir spent Martin Luther King Day with fellow immigrant activist and New Sanctuary Coalition co-founder Jean Montrevil, who was deported to Haiti the following day. Returned to the New York area on Jan. 17, Ragbir has been transferred to Orange County Correctional Facility in Goshen, N.Y., a bit
over an hour away from the city, where he waits while his detention and deportation order is being appealed. Visiting Ragbir at Goshen at 8 a.m. on Sat., Jan. 20, were Reverend Donna Schaper, Judson’s senior minister; Juan Carlos Ruiz, another co-founder of the New Sanctuary Coalition; and Will Coley, a member of Ragbir’s defense committee. As instructed, they arrived 50 minutes early, to go through security. The three met Ragbir in a large visiting room with 20 to 25 other inmates and their visitors. “It was a ‘contact visit,’ so there was no barrier between us, just a low, undulating wall and counter,” Coley reported. The allotted time for a visit is one hour. “Ravi was happy to see us but said he was very tired since he hadn’t been sleeping well since ICE detained him. Ravi said the facility was cleaner and better than Krome. But it’s still a prison.” Ragbir’s long hair is down because they won’t give him a hair tie. “Ravi in detention looks and acts more like Jesus than ever,” Schaper said, adding, “He is helping other inmates find their way through the ICE maze and referring people to the New Sanctuary clinics Downstate.” Referring to his looming Jan. 29 court hearing in New York on his detention, Schaper said it “will be an important day in American life.” Meanwhile, more than 1,800 community organizations, immigrant-rights groups, faith-based organizations, immigrant-rights lawyers, professors and community supporters from 50 states have submitted a letter to Kirstjen
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Januar y 25, 2018
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Ravi Ragbir, the executive director of the New Sanctuar y Coalition of New York City, is being held at a detention facilit y in Goshen, N.Y., pending the resolution of his depor tation case.
Nielsen, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, condemning the targeting of leaders in the U.S. immigrant-rights movement. The letter calls for the immediate release of Ragbir and Eliseo Jurado Fernandez from immigration detention, the return of Montrevil from Haiti, and a halt to the effort to deport Maru Mora-Villalpando, all immigrant-rights leaders who were targeted for deportation in recent weeks. Speaking to his wife, Amy Gottlieb, by phone from Goshen a few days after the supporters’ visit, Ragbir said, “The powerful community response has inspired me. It is clear that this energy is not going to go away — we are going to grow and get stronger and continue fighting for fairness and humanity in our immigration policy, and we will see a world in which all people are treated with dignity and respect.”
THE BUTSON AWARD: For the first time, the New York Press Association for this year’s Better Newspaper Contest, will be giving out the Thomas G. Butson Award for Investigative / Indepth Reporting. The award, of course, is named for the late Tom Butson, who was the editor of The Villager from the early 1990s until late 1999, just a few months before he died at age 68. With his wife Elizabeth Butson as publisher, Tom — a former top editor at The New York Times — revived The Villager
and set it on its course to becoming an award-winning weekly. The NYPA award will honor “outstanding work for a single story or series of stories on the same subject, such as environmental, health, crime or social issues, which could combine elements of news and / or feature writing and which indicate a considerable degree of research and / or investigation. Excellence and depth of research, quality of presentation, and the overall impact of the topic of the story or series will be taken into account by the judges.” The first-place winners in each circulation division will be awarded a $250 cash prize, courtesy of Elizabeth, who established the award in memory of her late husband.
C.B. 3 LIVE: Thanks to funding from Councilmember Margaret Chin, the monthly full-board meetings of Community Board 3 during the next six months will be live-streamed and then also viewable on YouTube. The first meeting was videoed and live-streamed this past Tuesday night. The quality was excellent and you can really hear every word. C.B. 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer said the link to watch the live coverage will be posted on the board’s Web site before the meetings — though, she admitted, this did not happen before the first one just held Jan. 23. TheVillager.com
POLICE BLOTTER Bodega bandits II Police have linked a trio of armed black-wearing bandits who robbed the LES Mini Mart & Grocery, at 127 Rivington St., on Jan. 13, to two other subsequent robberies in the Village area. As The Villager reported last week, in the Lower East Side heist, the three hoods struck around 10 p.m., stealing roughly $600 cash from the Lottery register and numerous boxes of cigarettes. Two of them robbed the store while the third man stayed outside as a lookout. This week, police additionally said that on Thurs., Jan. 18, around 9:25 p.m., the three individuals knocked off the Blue Nile smoke shop, at 324 Bleecker St., near Christopher St. They entered the place and threatened the 50-year-old employee, with one of them pulling out a black firearm and striking him on the head, before pushing him to the ground. They grabbed his Samsung Galaxy S8 phone, plus $500 cash from the till, then fled. E.M.S. medics took the victim to Lenox Health Greenwich Village, where he was treated and released. In the third incident, police said that on Sat., Jan. 20, at 10:20 p.m., the crooks then robbed Cho’s Grocery, at the corner of Bedford and Carmine Sts. Two of them entered and displayed guns to the employee, 43, one of them then
going behind the register and swiping $1,000. The third robber stayed outside as a lookout. All three then fled southbound on Bedford St. The suspects are young, in their 20s, and wear black winter jackets with hoods. 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.
Westbeth mugging A female Westbeth resident was reportedly mugged near the complex’s 55 Bethune St. entrance, near Washington St., on Fri., Jan. 12, around 7:30 p.m. A notice posted inside the affordable artists’ housing residence said the woman was walking westbound when she was attacked from behind and thrown to the ground and her purse stolen. “The police and an ambulance were called by Westbeth security,” the notice read. “Luckily she is basically alright. It seems that the perpetrator was familiar with the Westbeth exterior. If you walk on Bethune St. or in the inner courtyard stay alert.”
Bad drinking buddies
According to police, a year ago on Fri., Jan. 20, 2017, at 4 a.m., a man left a bar with two friends and two strangers, and they then continued to drink at his apartment, at 63 E. Ninth St. While at his place, the 29-year-old realized that his Breitling watch and bank card were missing. The watch was valued at $8,000. Multiple unauthorized transactions and withdrawals were made on his card, totaling $14,576. Darnell Nicholas, 26, was arrested Sun., Jan. 21, for felony grand larceny.
A woman was unlocking the front door to her building at 116 Washington Place on Sun., Nov. 26, at 2:40 p.m., when her purse was swiped. According to police, the resident left her bags on the steps, and as she was trying to get the door open, a woman grabbed the handbag and took off toward Seventh Ave. The purse was loaded with designer items, which explains why the total amount of the stolen goods was reported as $17,236. Monique Barbero, 27, was arrested Thurs., Jan. 18, for felony grand larceny.
Whole Foods fan
A woman tried to steal $102 worth of items from the Whole Foods market on E. 14th St. at Union Square South on Mon., Jan. 15, police said. In the 2:30 a.m. incident, the woman was trying to conceal the items in her handbag without paying for them. Police said that, the week before, she was caught shoplifting at a Whole Foods in Brooklyn and was told to sign a trespass notice not to enter any Whole Foods locations. Gisselle Pimentel, 22, was charged with felony burglary.
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Two men tried to exit a cab without paying their fare at West and Bethune Sts. on Sun., Jan. 21, police said. In the 8:10 p.m. incident, the 46-year-old hack told cops one of the suspects also stole his wallet, containing his bank cards inside. The cabbie was able to point out one of the suspects to police, but the other guy got away. Charles Sweat, 17, was arrested for felony grand larceny.
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Januar y 25, 2018
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
PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN
EDITOR IN CHIEF LINCOLN ANDERSON
ARTS EDITOR SCOTT STIFFLER
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CONTRIBUTORS ALBERT AMATEAU IRA BLUTREICH TINA BENITEZ-EVES SARAH FERGUSON BOB KRASNER TEQUILA MINSKY CLAYTON PATTERSON JEFFERSON SIEGEL SHARON WOOLUMS
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PHOTOS BY MILO HESS
Signs of the Trump times, lots of ’em!
reative signs were all the rage — and were often filled with rage — at Saturday’s Women’s March on New York City. All the signs were heartfelt and earnest. Many were edged with humor. After all, how else are people supposed to deal with all this?
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The Villager (USPS 578930) ISSN 0042-6202 Copyright © 2017 by the NYC Community Media LLC is published weekly by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th ﬂoor Brooklyn, NY 11201. 52 times a year. Business and Editorial Ofﬁces: One Metrotech North, 10th ﬂoor Brooklyn, NY 11201. Accounting and Circulation Ofﬁces: NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th ﬂoor Brooklyn, NY 11201. Call 718-260-2500 to subscribe. Periodicals postage prices is paid at Brooklyn, N.Y. Postmaster: Send address changes to The Villager, One Metrotech North, 10th ﬂoor, Brooklyn, NY 11201 Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $29 ($35 elsewhere). Single copy price at ofﬁce and newsstands is $1. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2017 NYC Community Media LLC. PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR
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Januar y 25, 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
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.
Januar y 25, 2018
Pink Power as 200,000 march in Manhattan MARCH continued from p. 1
and a movement is underway. This 2018 Women’s March was a call to vote, to run for office, to speak out, and never be silenced. “The core principles have remained the same,” said Sarah Steinhardt, the press officer for Women’s March Alliance, the organizer of the Jan. 20 New York City Women’s March. “We march for women’s rights and gender equality, to empower women to use their voices, and to give them the tools and the knowledge and the information to do so.” However, in addition to those core principles, this year’s march promoted voter registration, with a clear message to use the power of the ballot. “Our goal is to register 1 million women to vote by the November election,” Steinhardt explained, “We feel very strongly that women should know how to exercise their rights, and the most basic example of that is voting.” On that initiative WMA is working with voter registration groups, such as voter.org, Rock The Vote and Voto Latino. While the marchers would hear that call to vote from speakers who rallied the assembled thousands on this goodfor-marching 50-degree Saturday, they would mostly be moved by the stories of those who were not household names. There were familiar faces who inspired, Rosie Perez, Whoopi Goldberg, Yoko Ono and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. But the day belonged to those women who were committing themselves to change the culture behind the headlines. From the stage, newly elected New Jersey Freeholder Ashley Bennett, a psychiatric emergency screener attending grad school, told of how she had seen fellow Jersey Freeholder John Carman post a meme during last year’s Women’s March that read: “Will the women’s protest end in time for them to cook dinner?” Bennett was offended, and though she had never been in politics, she was inspired by last year’s Women’s March to run for Carman’s seat. Bennett admitted that initially she was afraid. “If you feel the call and you’re afraid, just do it afraid,” she said. “You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be willing.” Sulma Arzu-Brown, a Garifuna woman from Honduras, wears multiple hats as director of operations for the New York City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, co-owner of Boogie Down Grind Café in the Bronx and author of the children’s book “Bad Hair Does Not Exist.” On stage with her mother and two young daughters, Arzu-Brown spoke emotionally of the sacrifice her mom made by leaving her and her brother behind in Honduras to come to the U.S. In her native country, her mother was told she would not be promoted in her job
Januar y 25, 2018
PHOTO BY Q. SAKAMAKI
A group calling themselves Brick x Brick were at the Women’s March, forming a human wall festooned with various derogator y statements Donald Trump has made about women over the years.
PHOTO BY Q. SAKAMAKI
Waiting to star t moving on Central Park West at the beginning of the Women’s March.
because she was black, Latina, Garifuna and a woman. “I stand on the shoulders of my mother,” she said. “We are creating a path for our children that lets them know that we are not just people of color, that we are people of beautiful color, that we belong to the human race and we come from beautiful places that we cultivated with our bare hands.” Though the #MeToo Movement was not mentioned by name, the ability to speak out about the pain of sexual harassment and abuse presented itself. From her wheelchair, Nadina LaSpina, a disabled activist, told the marchers that the disabled are not spared from sexual assault by medical professionals. She also reminded that in the struggle
for equal pay, disabled individuals earn 37 percent less overall than the ablebodied. A.G. Schneiderman had noted that achieving equal pay for equal work was fighting the existing norm of “75 cents on the dollar if you’re a white woman, 63 cents if you’re an African-American woman, 54 cents if you’re a Latina.” With Ono looking on, the singer MILCK performed “Quiet,” a song with the refrain, “I can’t keep quiet, no! Let it out now.” Barricades removed, women, men and children, united surged forward through the streets. An electric energy spread from person to person, especially when the marchers passed the Trump International Hotel & Tower, at Columbus Circle,
and then the Trump Parc, on Central Park South, shouting chants: “We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter!” “Love, not hate, that’s what makes America great,” “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go” and the repurposed, “Lock him up!” The determined, hopeful spirit of the marchers was felt by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who held hands with his wife, Chirlane McCray, as they marched in the thick of the crowd, and easily spoke with other marchers. “I’m very proud of New York City today with over 100,000 already out to fight for the rights of women and build a movement that started last year,” the mayor said. “It’s going to grow from this point on.” McCray, when asked what she thought of her New York sisters on the march, responded, “I love them! They’re out here with so much energy and enthusiasm. I think there are more people out here than last year. I marched last year, too. This shows much of what we really believe in. You see the signs out here, the values that they’re representing; this is the direction we have to move in. We’re laying the foundation with this march for the elections coming up. I think we’re going to see so many more women in office, so many more, leadership from women like we’ve never seen before. It’s MARCH continued on p. 7 TheVillager.com
against Trump and for respect for women MARCH continued from p. 6
a great thing!” Many of the signs, such as Chelsea artist Mary Frank’s poster painting — “Don’t Tear Families Apart” — showed concern for the current crackdown on immigration and support of for the DACA “Dreamers.” Nina Kulkarni, with the League of Women Voters, was marching nearby with a loud speaker, announcing that she could register voters on the spot. Chandra Turner, who lives in Westchester, brought her 11-year-old daughter, Madeline, “because I wanted her to be here and witness this and not feel alone,” she said. “I wanted her to see that she is not the only one who feels the way she does, that there are other people who are standing up for equality. She is worried about children being deported who were brought here. Her father is not an American citizen. It’s scary to think about what can happen with this administration.” Creative signage revealed continued loathing of President Trump, the points often being made with humor. Shari Oliver, a seventh-grade social studies / history teacher from Connecticut, came with her 15-year-old daughter, Grace. “We’ve been disgusted with so much for so long,” Oliver said. Her daughter carried a sign reading, “Cheeto In Chief Is Making Me Gassy.” The Oval Office as a toilet bowl was another clever image. The day was peaceful, with only a subtle police presence and the sky devoid of buzzing helicopters. The focus was on the power of one’s voice multiplied by others.
PHOTO BY MILO HESS
Right back at ya, Trump!
PHOTO BY MILO HESS PHOTO BY Q. SAKAMAKI
Who’s the adult here? TheVillager.com
Empowering through the ballot box was a major theme of this year’s Women’s March. Januar y 25, 2018
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 14th St. L plan meetings
he FixNYC panel’s proposal announced last Friday is not yet a fi nal plan, but it is a clear road map toward implementing congestion pricing in Manhattan. With Governor Andrew Cuomo and new Council Speaker Corey Johnson both on board with the general concept, it’s also clear that traffic pricing is going to happen. The specifics are still being hashed out. Drivers would be charged a fee for entering Manhattan below 60th St. Under one scenario, drivers would have a one-time fee of up to $12 in effect during most of the day, with the overnight period free. Trucks would pay around double that. Under another scenario, the toll would be in operation 24 hours, with bigger fees in effect for drivers during peak rush hours. For-hire cabs would be charged around $2 to enter the zone, as well as for each trip within it. The F.D.R. Drive would be free, but not the West Side Highway. Cuomo reportedly does not, however, favor tolling the currently free East River bridges, preferring to focus on drivers “entering the zone” of what police call Manhattan South. The revenue would be used to fund the ailing subway system. Obviously, it’s a lot to digest. But as we all know, Manhattan is gridlocked. You can often walk faster than the virtually standstill traffic in Midtown. This goes for the Village and Downtown, too. Some blame the bike and bus lanes. But, sorry, we need those. The explosion of bicycle commuting is a transportation success story, and mass transit must continue to be prioritized. Of course, one major reason for the increased traffic is the massive spike in for-hire vehicles flooding the streets: Uber, Via, Lyft, Juno — thousands upon thousands of more cars and vans. Meanwhile, according to Transportation Alternatives, only 4 percent of outer-borough residents drive to Manhattan for work. Naturally, there’s going to be a lot of discussion about this proposal. Some of our local politicians have been sounding off on the idea, some more enthusiastically than others. Speaking to Community Board 3 Tuesday night, state Senator Brad Hoylman embraced the idea. He noted that, on average, only 22 percent of Manhattanites own cars. “It has done amazing things in global cities,” he said of traffic fees. “London reduced its traffic by over a quarter [with] their charge.” One concern he did mention hearing from constituents is that people will park their cars outside the zone, then enter it by mass transit or cab — which will take away parking spaces for residents. “I want to see residential parking,” he said. Borough President Gale Brewer was more measured talking to The Villager this week. She said she supports congestion pricing, but worries if the technology would work. For example, she noted, there are millions in uncollected fees owed the New York State Thruway due to cashless tolling. Brewer also wondered about scofflaw drivers who cover their license plates, plus slush covering the plates — as in, how will cameras see them? — and also about rental cars. We have faith, though, all these issues will be worked out. We must tackle the larger issue of gridlock and reducing traffic. We’ll get there.
Januar y 25, 2018
To The Editor: Calling all residents, businesses and block and tenant associations. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Department of Transportation are holding two open houses / public meetings to get community input on their plan to close 14th St. to traffic. One is on Wed., Jan. 31, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the 14th St. Y, at 344 E. 14th St., and the other is on Wed., Feb. 14, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, at 328 W. 14th St. It’s imperative that we all attend to tell them we are strongly opposed to their plans for how to handle this closure. Noreen Shipman Shipman is a member, Washington Place Block Association
Train brainstorming To The Editor: There are even better ideas than former Erie County Executive and potential Republican candidate for Governor Joel Giambra’s to legalize marijuana. He would have dedicated tax revenues on buyers going to pay for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority capital program, along with road and bridge improvements. Why not think outside the box? Use the free market and let the M.T.A. New York City Transit subway, Long Island Rail Road and Metro North Rail Road
use off-peak, late-night, overnight and weekend excess capacity to provide consumers with other services they desire. Create the “X” line, which could run separate trains that would provide cars for folks to light up either cigarettes and cigars or marijuana. You could also have other cars for drinking, gambling or adult entertainment. This could raise the M.T.A. millions. Next, create the “H” line using older subway cars about to be retired. They could be converted to provide overnight accommodations for homeless people, including portable showers and medical support facilities. This would afford regular transit riders more space and a safer environment. Mayor Bill de Blasio needs all the help he can get in dealing with the growing New York City homeless population. Many of these individuals refuse to go to shelters, which they view as unsafe. They prefer riding the subways overnight or staying out on the street. This could save New York City millions. Larry Penner Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Sound off! Write a letter to the editor email@example.com IRA BLUTREICH
The ‘Swamp’ was temporarily shut down — but not drained! TheVillager.com
City Winery staff to pitch in for Puerto Rico
PEOPLE BY BOB KRASNER
ichael Dorf has quite a résumé: Among other things, he is the founder of the experimental Downtown live music venue Knitting Factory, an associated record label, a Hebrew School and, more recently, the City Winery, a live music venue and restaurant in Hudson Square that has expanded to Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta and Boston. Not just sporting a clever name, the place is actually a fully functional winery. In addition, Dorf has produced hundreds of recordings, a television series, concerts and festivals (worldwide), and brought in $1.5 million for music education programs through his tribute concerts at Carnegie Hall and other notable venues, plus raised money for environmental issues and medical research. The thing that strikes one in talking with Dorf is that his business model goes beyond the bottom line. Speaking of his company, he mentioned that its “core values have always had a component of human responsibility.” In that spirit, he’s preparing not only to put his money where his mouth is, but hands and feet as well. Selected staff from City Winery are about to embark on what the corporate world has traditionally called a “retreat,” but Dorf has never seen it that way. “We’re not going backwards — we’re growing,” he explained. The previous eight versions of the excursion —which he calls “Base Camp” — have all had themes and sometimes special guests, all designed for a “deep examination of what our corporate DNA is.” In addition to bonding, he’s looking for inspiration, as well. After all, he has no intention of becoming “the McDonald’s of music chains.” As previously mentioned, Dorf has been involved extensively in charity work before, but this time it’s a little different. On Mon., Jan. 29, he will be taking a group of 125 of his top management people from across the country for three days to San Juan, Puerto Rico. There they will deliver shipping containers (6 tons worth) full of everything from first-aid supplies to coffee beans (and wine, of course), along with a sizable monetary contribution and, perhaps most important, a crew that is ready to get their hands dirty. “Seventy-five percent of what we will be doing there is manual labor,” explained Marketing Director Matt McDonald. “Clearing debris, helping to rebuild structures, getting the fields ready for planting.” The other 25 percent of their effort TheVillager.com
PHOTO BY BOB KRASNER
Ever yone in this photo will be going to Puer to Rico. Among them were the chief winemaker, associate winemaker, general manager, assistant general manager, floor managers, beverage director, ar t director, executive chef, chief people officer, V.P. of accounting, graphic designer, marketing director, wine sales director, talent buyer and more. Standing in for Michael Dor f is a cardboard cutout of him, third from right in back row. Ever yone is holding the “Cov fefe” brand wine (named after Donald Trump’s cr yptic tweet), which is not the actual wine being sent to Puer to Rico.
will be put into the production of a free concert for the denizens of four local villages. They will be building a stage from scratch and installing a $25,000
‘ “Tikkun olam,” that means “repair the world.” ’ Michael Dorf
sound system, which is being donated by Meyer Sound. Local musicians will be paid by City Winery, and the stage and gear will become the property of Visit Rico, City Winery’s nonprofit “on the ground” partner. Financial sponsorship comes from the Foundation for Puerto Rico, which is collecting donations but taking “zero commissions,” said Dorf. Beverage Director Ganna Fedorova said she expected to be putting in around 10 hours a day of manual labor, and was looking forward to it. “I love all the aspects of this trip,” she said. “We need to remind people how important it is to be kind and support each other in a time of need.” The only thing Fedorova is worried about is that, as she put it, “we won’t be able to do everything that we want to in
such a short period of time.” Dorf was initially undecided about the destination this year — Houston and New Orleans were possibilities — until he saw an image on TV that made up his mind: “Donald Trump throwing paper towels into a crowd [in Puerto Rico]. American citizens there were not getting the same treatment as those in Houston and Napa and New Orleans and Florida,” he said. “There’s a Hebrew expression, tikkun olam, that means ‘repair the world,’” Dorf explained. “We, as a company, live by that mandate.” Information on donating to the project can be found here http://www.citywinery.com/puertorico/ Januar y 25, 2018
City empties embattled building on Bowery BOWERY continued from p. 1
and apartment floors in danger of collapse. The court also ordered a twoweek timetable for the landlord to make the necessary repairs so that residents could return home. Police and firefighters arrived on the scene in the evening, without notice, to enforce the court order, and tenants were told to get out immediately with whatever they could carry. Tenants fled the building, some of them wearing only T-shirts in the cold winter night. They are currently being housed in a Red Cross shelter located in Brooklyn. The tenants, who have been battling landlord Joseph Betesh for years, call him a slumlord and accuse him of letting the place deteriorate, so he could boot them out during repairs and jack up the rent. Betesh’s real estate company recently responded that the tenants need to be evacuated to make “sweeping infrastructure repairs.” In a recent statement issued by his company, the landlord contended that he had been “working to find a positive resolution, but our proposals were rejected at every turn by [the tenants’] lawyers and other representatives.” There has also been an ongoing rent dispute for more than year and a half between the landlord and his tenants,
Januar y 25, 2018
PHOTO BY LESLEY SUSSMAN
Construction workers were busy at 83-85 Bower y on Wednesday morning, where a worker told The Villager that the building is in even worse shape inside than the city is repor ting.
with the latter claiming the apartments are rent-regulated and Betesh denying it and threatening to evict them. However, in a recent development, the state agency Homes and Community Renewal determined that apartments in the building are legally rent-stabilized and tenants could stay. The tenants’ sudden eviction came just a month af-
ter that ruling, raising their suspicions about the action’s timing. At the C.B. 3 meeting, held at P.S. 20, at 166 Essex St., a spokesperson for Councilmember Margaret Chin read a statement, saying that “no tenant should every have to experience what the residents of 85 Bowery went through that night.” Chin spokesman Vincent Fang said that the city councilmember plans to reintroduce legislation “to hold negligent landlords responsible for the relocation costs of tenants who are forced from their homes.” C.B. 3 board members also heard from Anna Tan, a nearby tenant, who worried that this was the first of more evictions such as this one to come. “Are other landlords going to use the same tactics to force people out of Chinatown?” she asked. Tan pleaded with the community board to “stop this injustice and keep it from happening again.” Board member Lisa Burriss also called for tougher action against landlords such as Betesh. “We need to press the Buildings Department to put more pressure on landlords like this one,” she said. “Inspections have to be stepped up.” Also offering reassurance that tenants have not been forgotten was state Senator Brian Kavanagh’s spokesperson Venus Gelarza-Mullins. “We’re working with the city’s housing agency and everyone else to make sure that the building is safe when they return here,” she told the meeting. Mullins added that residents are in emergency shelters for the two weeks that the landlord is making the courtordered repairs. C.B. 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer stated, “There’s nothing extra that the community board can do. All
of our elected officials are working hard on this because there are serious concerns.” While Buildings Department engineers found the main stairway in the building unstable, and required Betesh to replace it within two weeks so tenants could return home, a reporter who spoke to a construction worker at the site this week was told that an upperlevel floor is in danger of collapse and there was other serious structural damage. He said it was unlikely that tenants could return to the building within two weeks. On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Bowery 8385 LLC issued a statement, saying, “The safety of tenants of 83-85 Bowery is our top priority and we are working with D.O.B. and the Mayor’s Office to repair building infrastructure and make the property safe for habitation. Our team mobilized immediately following the city’s vacate order and has spent each day working diligently to remove obstructions and prepare the site in compliance with D.O.B.’s rigorous structural stability requirements. We are providing updates on our progress to D.O.B. and local elected officials and will continue to do so. “Any reports claiming that we seek to demolish 83-85 Bowery or replace it with a hotel or condominiums are false. We all share the same goal — moving families back into their homes as quickly as possible. As we have been saying for years, and as we believe all parties would agree, those homes must be safe.” In an earlier statement, on Jan. 19, the real estate company said of the evacuation, “While D.O.B. was correct to vacate the building in the interest of safety, we believe this action should have been taken long ago. Over the past two years, we repeatedly told city officials that it was necessary to vacate this property in order to safely perform much-needed repairs and ensure structural stability. “Aside from refusing to vacate despite our repeated attempts to fix these problems, occupants of 83-85 Bowery have apparently engaged in illegal renovation work that further contributed to the building’s structural instability. Following the execution of D.O.B.’s vacate order, it was determined that 11 of the building’s 16 apartments were illegally converted into nearly 40 single-room occupancy (S.R.O.) units. This unauthorized renovation work was done without our consent and put all the building’s occupants at greater risk by leading to dangerous overcrowding, blocked fire escapes and other safety hazards. “Now that D.O.B. has executed its vacate order and we have regained access to all areas of the property, we are already taking steps to clear out debris and begin repairing the building’s infrastructure.” TheVillager.com
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Brewer talks on charter, stores, trafﬁc pricing BREWER continued from p. 1
bring the city into the 21st century. In an interview this week, Brewer and her staff emphasized that the goal is a “top to bottom” review of the city’s “entire” charter. Brewer and James, writing last month in the Daily News, mentioned greater community input into land use and zoning, a more meaningful City Council role on budgeting, and streamlining bureaucracies as their priorities from a charter revision commission. Their legislation, however, merely mandates the process, the results of which would then be subject to voter approval. Brewer’s charter commission proposal was one of numerous issues — including land use, small business survival, food deserts, congestion pricing and government transparency and accessibility — that she addressed in a 75-minute sit-down with the editors of The Villager, Downtown Express, Chelsea Now, Manhattan Express and Gay City News. Brewer talked about two notable land-use milestones she’s achieved in her four years as borough president and her tenure on the City Council prior to that. On the Council, she won approval for novel Department of City Planning zoning regulations that limit street frontage that can be taken up by banks and large retail outlets, many of them chains, that threaten the small businesses that once dominated her Upper West Side district. The regulations exempted supermarkets — “We want supermarkets,” she emphasized — as part of an effort to maintain the full range of services that were once the norm in New York neighborhoods. Another significant land-use victory Brewer pointed to is her stewardship, along with former Councilmember Dan Garodnick, of the recently completed East Midtown rezoning, which will allow for highdensity development of modern office space in the area north of 42nd St. from Fifth Ave. east to Third Ave. while providing funding both for landmarked buildings selling their unused development rights and for public amenities, including open space and transportation improvements. Garodnick, she said, having rejected the original rezoning plan for East Midtown late in the Bloomberg years, was a key ally in crafting a solution broadly acceptable to stakeholders. Brewer and Garodnick oversaw biweekly meetings over many months at the borough president’s office that included representatives from the Real Estate Board of New York, an industry trade group, major landmarked buildings, the area’s business improvement districts, and the local community boards. Key to the process were neutral facilitators — urban planning professionals paid for by the city — she explained. This “pre-ULURP planning,” as she terms it, referring to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure that projects at odds with existing zoning must go through before getting a vote from the City Council, ensures greater community input prior to the fi nalization of a plan that might then move rapidly down the ULURP track. The city, she explained, has also committed to employing this approach in planning land-use policies for Noho and Soho, where the borough president is concerned about the rise of oversized big-box stores. “We want more artists, we want more makers, we want more light industry,” she said. Councilmember Margaret Chin is also part of these discussions, she noted. Asked if part of the rezoning might be to ease prohibitions against nonartist residents in Soho and Noho, Brewer said nothing has been set yet. TheVillager.com
PHOTO BY DONNA ACETO
Gale Brewer taking the oath of office for her second term as Manhattan borough president on Dec. 27, flanked by her son Mo Sumbundu and husband Cal Snyder.
On another hotly debated proposed development further Downtown, Brewer continues to press — along with Chin, Congressmember Nydia Velázquez and community residents — to ensure that the Department of City Planning requires that four new megatowers proposed for the Two Bridges waterfront area on the Lower East Side, near the almost completed 823-foot Extell condo tower, go through ULURP. “Can you imagine this huge project not going through ULURP?” she asked. “It’s very hard for the community to understand. Even then, they’ll be upset with what comes out of ULURP.” Despite her advocacy for community input on landuse changes, Brewer is realistic about those she sees as inevitable. One of those, in her view, is the heated Little Italy battle that pits supporters of the Elizabeth St. Garden against a plan by Chin and the de Blasio administration to redevelop the site as affordable housing — with the participation of the L.G.B.T.Q. seniors advocacy group SAGE and Habitat for Humanity. “It’s going to happen,” she said of the housing project. At the same time, she said, “I love the garden,” adding that she is focusing her efforts on ensuring that “it has every inch of public space possible.” Brewer is highly critical of other land-use decisions stripped of any meaningful public input, particularly the decision to “infill” open spaces in New York City Housing Authority properties. There, the agency is able to move forward with development projects without winning ULURP approval. At the Holmes Towers site on E. 92nd St. at First Ave., for example, NYCHA has chosen a developer for a mixed marketrate / affordable housing building roughly twice the height of the public housing there that will eliminate a playground open to residents. Though the agency
has committed to building a replacement playground and devoting a portion of the revenues from the new development to needed improvement at Holmes, residents have been unhappy with both NYCHA’s process and its final plans. “The meetings were very paternalistic,” Brewer said of the community outreach the agency undertook with residents. “Did they have input? I don’t think so.” A similar “infill” plan for the LaGuardia Houses, on the Lower East Side, also does not have to go through ULURP, she noted — adding that LaGuardia has the worst-functioning boiler in the entire Housing Authority. Brewer also addressed the threat that escalating commercial rents pose toward the survival of the borough’s small businesses. She is well-versed in the long-pending Small Business Jobs Survival Act — having drawn up an early draft of the legislation back in 1985, when she served on the staff of Ruth Messinger, who then held the Council seat Brewer later won. Yet, Brewer acknowledged constitutional concerns about the measure’s potential infringement on property owners’ rights. Two years ago, Brewer signed on to an alternative measure that includes mandatory mediation — yet does not focus on allowing merchants to keep their spaces for more than a year. She proposed the legislation with Robert Cornegy, then-chairperson of the Council’s Small Business Committee. Landlords would offer merchants the option of a one-year lease extension with a maximum 15 percent rent increase, allowing them time to “transition” to a new space. Under former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, that measure could not be taken up given its similarity to the S.B.J.S.A. But Brewer is hopeful that new Speaker Corey Johnson will allow for competing proposals addressing the same issue to be considered. Asked why she is not pushing the version she originally favored, Brewer replied, “If we pass such a law and then it goes to court and we lose, then we’re nowhere. We want to have something that is airtight before we get there.” Late last year, the City Council sought to ease the burden on small businesses by raising the annual lease-expense threshold for businesses that must pay a 3.9 percent commercial rent tax, or C.R.T. — applicable only in Manhattan below 96th St. — from $250,000 to $500,00, providing relief to an estimated 3,000 businesses. Brewer also advocates exempting supermarkets, regardless of their annual rent expense, from the C.R.T. given the low margins under which they operate, and the fact that the markets’ loss is turning some residential neighborhoods into “food deserts.” Regarding Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plans for a big push to revisit congestion pricing as a way to ease traffic in Manhattan and provide funding for mass transit, Brewer responded cautiously. “I support the idea that subways need money,” she acknowledged, adding, “I believe in the concept of congestion pricing.” But she raised logistical concerns about the effectiveness of new technologies — such as photographing license plates — for capturing tolls on East River crossings or from cars entering Midtown from Upper Manhattan. She mentioned the New York State Thruway Authority’s loss of millions in unpaid tolls where booths have been replaced completely by electronic tolling. There is the problem of drivers covering their liBREWER continued on p. 23 Januar y 25, 2018
PHOTOS BY MARLIS MOMBER
Adela Ferguson getting a heaping pot of rice ready at her restaurant’s first location in 1980, when it was known as Caprice.
Adela Ferguson, 81; She fed stomachs and hearts BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
oisaida residents turned out in numbers last Friday at Ortiz Funeral Home, at 22 First Ave., to pay their respects to restaurateur Adela Ferguson, whose Casa Adela on Avenue C for years has been a focal point of the neighborhood. Ferguson died Mon., Jan. 15, at age 81. She served up authentic Puerto Rican food at her restaurant since 1976, starting at a small location, Caprice, at 56 Avenue C, just south of the eponymous eatery’s current spot, at 66 Avenue C, at E. Fifth St. Posting on social media, new City Councilmember Carlina Rivera wrote of Ferguson, “She was a Puerto Rican patriot and an icon of the LES. My heart goes out to her family. Her smile, island pride and magic touch in the kitchen will be missed by so many.” Congressmember Nydia Velazquez said, in a statement, “To pay a visit to Casa Adela was like stepping into the warmth of a Puerto Rican neighbor’s home. Adela herself welcomed all New Yorkers to delicious Puerto Rican food surrounded by the Island’s spirit of hospitality and generosity. Outside the restaurant’s walls, Adela was a center of Latino life on the Lower East Side and a tireless community advocate. “A ‘Wise Latina,’ Adela was an en-
Januar y 25, 2018
trepreneur who had been serving authentic Puerto Rican food to locals and tourists alike for over four decades. My thoughts and prayers are with her children, grandchildren and loved ones. While I am deeply saddened to hear of her passing, I take a small measure of comfort knowing that I join so many others in grief.” Longtime East Village activist Ayo Harrington recalled of Ferguson, “She started out cooking at a kind of homein-the-wall at that location about 1976. She was closed down for a few years in the mid-’80s while the building went through the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s Urban Homestead Program. During that time, the building was gutted and rebuilt by homesteaders from the neighborhood. They moved into the renovated building as an H.D.F.C., low-equity co-op, about 1988. “Adele was promised she could return once the building was renovated, and did so. Her space was built out larger than what she’d had — and her restaurant, with her and her recipes as the stars, have been a neighborhood favorite ever since.” Her son, Luis, runs the restaurant on a daily basis. Her daughter, Abby, lives in Miami but works there several times during the year. Harrington was not sure if Ferguson was a co-op owner of her space versus a permanent renter.
Lolita Lebron, four th from right, in front of Casa Adela in 1989, just before it opened. Restaurateur Adela Ferguson is in the center of the second row. Lebron, a Puer to Rican nationalist, was convicted of attempted murder after leading an attack on the House of Representatives in 1954 that left five congressmembers wounded. After Lebron ser ved 25 years in prison, President Jimmy Car ter freed her, granting her clemenc y in 1979. TheVillager.com
How the Grammys got their ‘Garden’ groove back MOME’s Menin, on industries and initiatives BY WINNIE McCROY When Commissioner Julie Menin of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) saw an opportunity to reclaim a prestige event, she didn’t skip a beat — and now, just in time to celebrate their 60th anniversary, the Grammy Awards are back in the New York groove. Set to broadcast worldwide from the nation’s music capital on the night of Sun., Jan. 28, the Grammys bring with them more star power than any solo gig Madison Square Garden has ever seen, along with an estimated $200 million in attendant revenues. “In the fi rst week that I was on the job, I went out to LA to meet with The [Recording] Academy, because we knew the contract with The Staples Center was up,” Menin recalled. “There was an opportunity for us to create a very compelling case for New York, because the Grammys had not been here for 15 years… So we were very focused on what we could do to bring them back to the city. It was a golden opportunity.” Menin had heard a lot of anecdotal evidence about how the music industry had moved to LA, but she wanted data. So, being the commissioner, she commissioned a study of the music ecosystem. It revealed that, despite the recent closing of smaller venues, New York City’s music industry supported 60,000 jobs and “sold more live music tickets last year than the top other three cities, LA, Nashville and San Francisco, combined.” The negotiations involved the various labor unions at Madison Square Garden, putting together a host committee, and details regarding a one-day load-in, rehearsals, and the ceremony itself at MSG — and the Grammys are just the beginning. “Certainly having a close relationship with labor and working very closely with them, they’ve been a fantastic partner in this,” Menin noted. “There were a lot of different components to the negotiation and we’re thrilled it is happening, and I think it’s a great harbinger. We are actually in negotiations with other shows outside of music that we think would be great TheVillager.com
Photo by George Kalinsky for Madison Square Garden
Back in 2003, the last time the Grammys were at MSG, a promising newcomer by the name of Norah Jones won Best New Artist.
As for the main event itself, Menin’s three teenage sons are rooting for their favorite hip-hop artist, Lil Uzi Vert, to win — but their mother just hopes everyone brings their best to the stage. “They have a great roster of people,” she said, “and I think it’s going to be a great night. What’s exciting is, no matter what kind of music you like, there’s something for everyone.”
MENIN’S MOME MISSION Photo by Caleb Caldwell
Julie Menin, in a Jan. 16 interview with NYC Community Media.
to bring here to New York City. It’s value-added, economic revenue.” And that economic revenue is conservatively estimated to be at least $200 million. Last year, the city of Los Angeles commissioned a study to show how much the Grammys brought in — everything from hotel rooms to transportation, and all the different
industries that will benefit. “The Grammys bring dozens and dozens of staff members who stay here well in advance,” Menin noted. “There is everything from wardrobe to trucking to so many different attendant costs, and it’s not just that one night, it’s weeks and weeks in advance, and oftentimes months in advance.”
Having served as a three-term chair of Community Board 1 and thrown her hat into the ring for the 2013 Manhattan Borough President race, Menin was appointed Commissioner of Consumer Affairs by Mayor Bill de Blasio during his fi rst term. “It was really wonderful running that agency, because it goes to the core of the type of law I practiced for many years,” she recalled. “And I really MOME continued on p. 18 Januar y 25, 2018
MOME continued from p. 17
believe in the ability, through consumer protection regulation, to make sure consumers are not being defrauded.” Two years into her work at Consumer Affairs, Menin was tapped by the mayor to revamp MOME. “One thing I’ve really focused on is trying to increase opportunities, in particular for women,” said Menin. “And so well before the Harvey Weinstein allegations, we made an announcement that we were going to do five women’s initiatives. Because if you really want to help women in media and entertainment, you have to create more economic opportunity for them. It is absolutely critical.” First, Menin announced a $5 million fund for women fi lmmakers and playwrights — making MOME the fi rst city agency in the country that is actually giving direct cash grants to them. Then she held a fi nancing conference for women fi lmmakers and playwrights, after studies showed that that they were not getting the same access to capital as male directors and playwrights. So MOME connected them to venture capital fi rms, to angel investors, and to different funding sources. When research showed that women doing their proverbial “elevator pitch” weren’t seeing the same track record of success as men, “We did pitch workshops to help women refi ne their elevator pitch,” Menin said, “and it culminated in this women’s fi nancing conference. I was incredibly personally gratified to see these women be able to get their projects fi nanced.” Currently in the midst of its launch is the Greenlight Her program, a TV screenwriting contest for women that received 300 script submissions, winnowed down to two. With the help of students at the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, which MOME has provided scholarships for, and whose student body is primarily people of color and women working at Steiner Studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, two pilots were fi lmed. To see the pilots — “Half Life” by Patty Carey and “Maturity” by Robin Rose Singer — visit nyc.gov/GreenlightHer. Voting ends on Sat., Jan. 27. The winner gets four episodes of their show greenlit to be produced and aired on NYC Media later this fall. MOME also launched the show “Her Big Idea,” a block of programming profi ling women entrepreneurs who had “one big idea” and blew it out of the water, and the attendant challenges, trials and tribulations. They
Januar y 25, 2018
Photo by Antoine Braxton
The city is expected to have 10,000 jobs in animation in the coming years, which prompted MOME’s animation training for at-risk youth ages 12–24.
also launched The Vanguard, a TV show about women in the media business, their challenges, and how they overcame them. Also on the slate of women’s initiatives, Menin noted, is “a study on the role gender plays in fi lm directors’ histories. We’re going back and looking historically at how gender plays a role and, if so, what were the implications of it between male directors and female directors. We are pretty close to releasing that study.” A lack of women in leadership roles is not just endemic to media and entertainment, said Menin; it exists in every industry, from medicine, to politics, to law. It’s part of her job to fi nd parity. “We have an attendant duty to really break down these walls and create these economic opportunities for women,” Menin vowed. “And if we’re not doing that, shame on us.”
WORKFORCE PROGRAMS & INITIATIVES “When I fi rst came into the agency, one of the charges given was to make
sure we keep production at an alltime high, because it’s an economic driver for the city,” Menin explained. “If you want to build more school seats and more affordable housing, we want to ensure that our economic sectors and revenue generated for the city are as strong as possible. Film and TV are a $9 billion industry for New York City, employing 130,000 New Yorkers, everything from the truck driver driving to the set to the makeup artist.” With production at an all-time high, Menin focused on creating workforce development programs for those who have been traditionally shut out of the system. Hearing that TV writers of color were having trouble breaking into the industry, she launched a program with The Writers Guild to train 500 diverse TV writers. She had them working with some of the best TV showrunners in the business as their mentors. “Every single participant in the program got feedback on their script, and that’s invaluable. And a subset of them were chosen for an intensive one-on-one program,” she said. “And the feedback we got on that was so tremendous because so many of these
writers say to us, ‘I never heard anything. I never knew what about my writing was good or bad, or was it just thrown in the waste paper basket?’ ” The Made in New York PostProduction program has also been launched, an extension of the agency’s Production Assistant training program, which gives training to 700 New Yorkers on how to get a job in production. Menin followed that with a workforce program on podcasting certification, calling it the most democratic medium, where the job growth is doubling. In an effort to balance the needs of the community with fi lm projects, Menin launched the Film Green Initiative, becoming the first city in the country to instill a set of rules around sustainability, everything from recyclability to how to dispose of sets. If the production meets the criteria, they’re added to MOME’s certification program, and are permitted to use the NYC Film Green seal of approval on all their marketing and promotional materials. Menin also branched out into publishing. Bemoaning the closing of both independent and mainstream TheVillager.com
bookstores, she launched the One Book, One New York program, which became the largest community read in the country. It resulted in a sales increase of 400 percent of participating books. Not only will MOME hold One Book, One New York again this spring, but they will also continue their analog program, One Film, One New York, partnering with A.O. Scott from The New York Times to pick fi lms about New York City and put them out to public vote. Last year, Spike Lee’s “Crooklyn” won, and was screened across the city so all families could have a night at the movies. To further ensure this kind of access, MOME distributed 1,000 free tickets to NYCHA residents to see Broadway shows, and another 1,000 tickets so families could go to the movies for free. “It’s all about having access to the arts and culture,” Menin said. “Being able to express yourself creatively through the arts is important. Just last
Voting ends on Jan. 27 for MOME’s Greenlight Her initiative, with the winning pilot awarded a four-episode run of their show (airing on NYC Media this fall).
week, we announced animation training for at-risk youth aged 12–24. The city is expected to have 10,000 jobs
in animation in the coming years, so having these kids trained in this field is so important. It’s all about trying to
make the city better, each and every day.” Visit nyc.gov/mome.
Dangerous dances at the disco Meaty ‘Pigs’ has much to feast on BY SCOTT STIFFLER Bouncing off the walls of Chelsea’s Irish Repertory Theatre with the pentup energy and destructive potential of a storm wave that’s finally made its way to shore, “Disco Pigs” gleefully wallows in the twin-like bond between a boy (Colin Campbell as Pig) and a girl (Evanna Lynch as Runt) born on the same day, in the same hospital (or, as Runt puts it, “Da two mams squealin on da trollies down da ward. Oud da
fookin way!”). Upon turning 17, quick-tempered and adrenaline-addicted Pig begins to angle for a physical intimacy beyond the dangerously co-dependent dynamic of their intense friendship. Witnessing Pig give an alpha male, felony-level beating to their bus driver, Runt seems happy to play Bonnie to his Clyde — but no amount of binge drinking, bar fights, Scampi Fries, or dance floor head games can keep her from the melancholy pull
of imagining what life might be like with other suitors, and in other places beyond County Cork, Ireland. This 20th anniversary production of Edna Walsh’s 1997 Edinburgh Fringe hit unspools at a breakneck pace that captures the urgency of one’s teen years, with a physical and emotional intensity that’s both exhausting and exhilarating to watch. Kudus to the athletic, kinetic, two-person cast, brimming with sexy/ dangerous chemistry and equally compelling in the vulnerability they display during telling soliloquies that are as memorable as they are pivotal to the changing relationship.
Deciphering the verbal shorthand Pig and Runt use to keep themselves enmeshed and the world at bay requires persistence — but like the struggle to get past those velvet ropes and into the Palace Disco where the play’s pivotal event takes place, your determination will be rewarded. “Disco Pigs” is directed by John Haidar. Runtime: 75 min., no intermission. Through March 4 at the Irish Repertory Theatre (132 W. 22nd St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). Wed., 3pm & 8pm; Thurs., 7pm; Fri., 8pm; Sat., 3pm & 8pm; Sun., 3pm. For tickets ($24-70), visit irishrep.org.
Theater for the New City • 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net
Glitter Kitty’s America’s Favorite Give Me More “How Do our Desires One for the Ages Newscaster By Tom Attea shape our identity and
“An Extravagant world of storytelling and dance”
Photo by Jeremy Daniel
Colin Campbell and Evanna Lynch are the “Disco Pigs” who drink, dance, bond and brawl their way through the night.
Music By Arthur Abrams Directed By Mark Marcante Choreography by Angela Harriell
Enough Vo5 For the Universe By: Melanie Maria Goodreaux “It’s the year 2097— What happens when America is run by the last three Black women on Earth?”
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Patti Smith joins Peru Fujimori-pardon protest
GLOBAL VILLAGE BY BILL WEINBERG
or a few moments on the evening of Thurs., Jan. 11, Washington Square Park rang to shouts of “People have the power!” — the title of Patti Smith’s 1988 populist anthem. These cries were directed appreciatively at the punk rock legend herself, who showed up in the square to briefly join a rally by some 100 people, mostly New Yorkers of Peruvian origin, in solidarity with the protests now shaking the South American country. Smith, accompanied by her longtime guitarist Lenny Kaye — who live in the West and East Village, respectively — stood for several minutes with the cluster of protesters, amid the banners and flags. With her long gray braids, she looked a bit like Willie Nelson without the beard. Kaye was an older version of his lanky self, remembered from album covers in the late ’70s — his rock ’n’ roll mane also gray, but shaggy as ever. Inevitably, the pair became the center of attention. Called upon to say a few words, Smith picked up a Peruvian flag that was offered to her and urged the crowd: “Stay united and give each other support, and don’t let people who have no love in their hearts rob you of yours.” She then took her leave, with a parting, “Thank you! God bless you all!” This was the third protest held by New York-area Peruvians since the political crisis that erupted in the Andean nation on Christmas Eve. That night, Peru’s imprisoned ex-dictator Alberto Fujimori was pardoned by the scandalembattled sitting president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. After a decade behind bars, Fujimori was transferred from his prison cell to a private clinic, in what looks like a sleazy deal with the hard-right fujimorista bloc in Congress to keep Kuc-
PHOTO BY FUJIMORI NUNCA MÁS PEX
Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye, at right, at the Jan. 11 rally in Washington Square Park.
zynski in power. Although supposedly ailing, Fujimori has since left the clinic. Lima and several other cities across Peru exploded into protest at the news. The lead contingents at many of the Lima demonstrations have often been groups of survivors of Fujimori’s atrocities and “disappearances.” Recalling Fujimori’s convictions for overseeing death-squad massacres, some human-rights advocates in Peru have called on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to declare the pardon illegal. The first solidarity rally here in New York was Dec. 28 at the Mohandas Gandhi statue in Union Square. A second was held Jan. 3 at the Peruvian consulate. And when a new round of protests was called across Peru for Jan. 11, the same New York network again responded. “There are 3 million Peruvians outside the country. We want them to be counted,” said Mirka Hermoza, one of the rally’s organizers. “So, we said, why don’t we do what they’re trying to do in
Peru here in New York?” The body that called the rally was Fujimori Nunca Más (Fujimori Never Again), a working group of Peruanos en el Exterior, or PEX. The event opened with a ceremony honoring Pachamama, the Quechua earth goddess, with a small makeshift altar arranged on the ground. The centerpiece was an embroidered Andean cross, a traditional Inca symbol indicating the four directions. A big red-and-white Peruvian flag presided over the main rally, with numerous banners reading, “El indulto es un insulto” (The pardon is an insult). “There were no grounds for him to be pardoned,” Hermoza said. “He was in jail for violations of human rights. He sterilized thousands of women, and he was never even tried for that.” Among his many other massive crimes, Fujimori carried out a campaign of forced sterilization of peasant women during his period in power in the 1990s. More than 300,000 women — overwhelmingly poor and indigenous — were coercively sterilized under the
program, obviously motived by fear of the peasantry’s demographic advance amid a mounting guerilla insurgency in Peru. Hermoza, who was born in Lima and now lives in Brooklyn, admits she fears that “dark times are coming” to Peru. “But we will unite with the struggles there,” she said. Hermoza said her group is now looking forward to the International Women’s Strike, planned for March 8, with a focus on reproductive freedom and misogynist violence. This is of particular relevance to the group, given both the history of sterilization abuse and the “disappearance” of women under Fujimori. Peruvian activists recently launched the #NiUnaMenos (Not One Woman Less) campaign against the wave of “femicides” in the country. Fujimori Nunca Más-PEX plans to have a visible presence at the March 8 activities in New York.
Brewer talks on charter, stores, trafﬁc pricing BREWER continued from p. 15
cense plates and also of their being covered by slush in snowy weather, she added. On government transparency and accountability, Brewer touted the implementation this year of the city’s Open Data Law — that she pushed through the Council in 2011 — which requires accessibility through a city Web portal. Under the laws, every city agency must now put its data online, which is an TheVillager.com
extremely valuable tool for the public, she said. To improve constituent services, after she was elected, she opened the first-ever Manhattan borough president’s storefront office, on W. 125th St., which she said offers easy streetlevel access, without the need to navigate security detectors or elevators. Residents, she said, “feel respected” in that setting. In support of the borough’s 12 community boards, Brewer explained, her
office has enhanced training in technology, ethics, bylaws and parliamentary procedures for all their members. She noted that, during her first four years as borough president, she replaced roughly half of all community board incumbents. For the first time, 16- and 17-year-olds are now able to serve on Manhattan community boards. At the same time, giving no indication that she supports the idea of term limits for board members, she spoke glowingly of veteran members and the deep “institu-
tional knowledge” they bring. Brewer endorsed an effort by state Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Deborah Glick to ensure that Manhattan has representation on the State Liquor Authority, which oversees liquor licenses. However, she also specifically lauded the S.L.A.’s chairperson, Vincent Bradley, for recently spending three and a half hours meeting with roughly 90 representatives from the borough’s community boards. Januar y 25, 2018
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Photo: Warwick Saint
January 25, 2018