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The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933

February 1, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 5





Why we’re red BY JAMES HARNEY


all it a “red alert” for women! New Yorkers will “Wear Red and Give” on Fri., Feb. 2, to spread the message that cardiovascular disease is the number-one killer of women in the U.S. The American Heart Association is uniting with communities across the city to “Go Red and Give” on this special day to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke, which cause one in three deaths among women each year. Association statistics also show that despite an abundance of public-awareness campaigns, 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke. The good news, the group says, is that if you understand your risk factors, about 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases may be preventable. Thousands of New Yorkers will participate in National Wear Red Day on Feb. 2 by donating to the Go Red For Women campaign and taking steps to better un-

Cheers for ‘our’ speaker........ p. 10

derstand their heart health. Some organizations will offer heart-healthy lunch-and-learn programs, organize healthy walks or offer healthier foods in vending machines or cafeterias. In addition, landmarks and buildings around the city and state will be illuminated in red to help raise awareness about women’s heart health. “Going Red is such a simple yet effective way to raise awareness about heart disease and celebrate heart health,” said Dr. Stacey Rosen, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association and vice president for Women’s Health at Northwell Health’s Katz Institute for Women’s Health in Lake Success, L.I. “We know the Go Red movement helps save women’s lives through education and advocacy. February is the perfect time to learn more about your heart health and make positive lifestyle changes.” Rosen and Dr. Jennifer Mieres — both professors of cardiology at Hofstra University’s Zucker School of Medicine — have co-authored a new book, “Heart Smart for Women: Six S.T.E.P.S. in Six

Weeks to Heart-Healthy Living.” Rosen said the book “was inspired by the thousands of incredible women we have treated as patients or met at lectures and health screenings. We know our program works,” she said, “and will enable women to translate the knowledge of heart disease into an actionable plan that will put them on the road to heart-healthy living.” The cardiologists said their book — and the Go Red For Women campaign — is “based on published research, as well as on real-life stories from our patients,” and encourages women to learn their family’s health history and to meet regularly with a healthcare provider to determine their risk for cardiovascular diseases and stroke. “Every woman should have a clinician, someone you see over time and can partner with to monitor your health, someone who can help them know their heart-health numbers,” Rosen said. “We joke that you would never go to RED continued on p. 5

Immigrant-rights activist freed — for now ........p. 7 Tales from an anti-Trump Twitter warrior........ p. 15 www.TheVillager.com

The heart of the matter: Awareness is the BY JENNIFER GOODSTEIN


ri., Feb. 2 is National Go Red Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about the issue of women and heart disease. As the number-one killer of women, heart disease is too often viewed as “an old man’s disease� causing women to ignore symptoms and fail to seek treatment. Heart disease became a very personal issue for me this past year. My story is probably similar to many women with heart disease, but hopefully will serve as a warning for some. In June 2017 I was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a genetic disease that causes thickening and scarring of the heart muscle. The disease can be controlled through medication, open-heart surgery or a heart transplant. In my case, I needed openheart surgery. It has been a scary, confusing, challenging year. Looking back on the experience, there is a moment that stands out. As I was being wheeled into the operating room for open heart surgery, I asked my husband, “How did I end up here?� Over the past four months I have asked that question over and over. The simple answer is: ignorance and denial. Even though HCM is not caused by smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, old age or other factors we think of as-

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Drs. Mark Sherrid, left, and Daniel Swistel per formed successful treatment and surger y on NYC Community Media Publisher Jennifer Goodstein at N.Y.U. Langone Medical Center in Manhattan.

sociated with heart disease, I ignored too many signs pointing to a problem. The problems I did see, I ignored. I was diagnosed with HCM at age 52. Other than the occasional cold, I was never sick. I exercised regularly, never smoked, had normal blood pressure and good cholesterol, and no chest pain. No reason to

think I had heart disease. I did have a slight heart murmur my entire life. The murmur never caused a problem and I never thought about it. My cardiologist monitored the murmur by echocardiogram (echo) every three years. The regularly scheduled echo is what took me to the cardiologist the

day I was diagnosed. I had never heard of HCM and immediately started to research the disease. Big mistake. The online health sites list the first symptom of HCM as sudden death. Time for another tack. I found a cardiologist who specializes in HCM, Dr. Mark Sherrid at N.Y.U. Langone, who has seen thousands of people with the disease. “HCM is a thickening of the heart walls that occurs for no clinical cause like high blood pressure or heart valve disease. We now know that it’s caused by genetic abnormalities that may not show up until midlife,� Sherrid told NYC Community Media. “It’s now a highly treatable condition when recognized and treated appropriately. Unfortunately, there’s often a delay in diagnosis, because HCM can masquerade as other conditions — including coronary artery disease, mitral valve prolapse, benign flow [heart] murmur, exercise-induced asthma or panic attacks. The key test is an echocardiogram, which often reveals the true cause of the symptoms.� Sherrid and his team explained the disease, reviewed the echo and MRI images with me and suggested that openheart surgery to remove part of my heart muscle was the recommended treatment. I had a difficult decision to make. Two GOODSTEIN continued on p. 3

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Why I Wear Red And Give:


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Š 2018, American Heart Association. Also known as the Heart Fund. TM Go Red trademark of AHA, Red Dress trademark of DHHS. 1/18DS12998


Februar y 1, 2018


key to staying healthy

What Does Black History Month Mean To Me? by Maurice W. Dorsey, Ph.D.

When I think of African American History Month I think of the generations of Black People who have preceded me, some who struggled to live through the torture and suffering of slavery before the birth of my grandparents and parents long before my birth. My grandparents were poor and did not graduate high school. They only knew and staunchly believed in their Christian faith and used it each day to get through profound racism, low wages, dilapidated segregated housing, education inequality and verbal abuse to their face and behind their backs. I think of my parents who finished high school, raised and educated their children through college. They built their first home at age 40. It was a struggle and huge sacrifices that were made to achieve middle class standards. I reflect on myself now age 70, my birth certificate reads that my race was colored, then I later was designated Negro, later I was Black, later still I was referred to as Afro-American and now I am called African American, with each decade my identity, as well as, all others in this situation changed. I attended a segregated public school for 10 years that was substandard to its white counterpart. I graduated the only Black person in my high school class of 460. In 1964 I was required to seat in the back of the school bus, I was called “nigger” by the white students and “boy” by the white school principal who did not think a Black student should graduate with an academic diploma, but I did.

Jennifer Goodstein. GOODSTEIN continued from p. 2

weeks later, the decision was made for me. I lost consciousness while walking down the street in Manhattan. Surgery was no longer an option, it was a necessity. On Sept. 13, 2017, Dr. Daniel Swistel performed a septal myectomy — he’s one of the few surgeons in the world who has performed hundreds of such operations in his career — and mitral valve repair. Five days later, a defibrillator / pacemaker was implanted in my chest at N.Y.U. Langone. Drs. Sherrid and Swistel have worked together for more than 20 years, doing research and publishing much of the leading work on HCM. They run N.Y.U.-Langone’s HCM Center of Excellence — a high-volume, high-success, research-oriented unit staffed by a team of talented, caring doctors, nurses, and technicians who know how to diagnose and treat HCM. Thanks to them, my surgery was successful and I feel better than I have in years. Looking back, I realize how the disease slowly took over my life. And I let it. I spent more than a year with symptoms and never addressed them. I had fatigue, shortness of breath and dizziness when standing up. As I became fatigued more TheVillager.com

and more often I blamed age and stress. The shortness of breath was blamed on not spending enough time in the gym. I wrote off the dizziness to an inner-ear problem or anemia or lack of sleep. The problems were vague, intermittent and I did not consider them important enough to interrupt my family and work responsibilities. Like many women, I was more focused on the people around me than my health. I still have HCM even though the surgery relieved my symptoms. I will need echocardiograms and medication for the rest of my life to monitor and control my heart disease. Thanks to the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association, a nonprofit that helps people with HCM, I have found a support group that understands what it’s like to live with HCM. Most important, I have a new awareness and respect for my health. I have a better understanding of what the symptoms of heart disease are for women and can be more diligent about getting help before a serious situation arises. That is my hope for you, dear readers: Have knowledge and have awareness of your heart health. Take care of yourself. It’s the best gift you can give to those you love. Goodstein is publisher, NYC Community Media

I recognize the immense progress African Americans have made in science, education, politics, athletics, entertainment and the arts---and the previous White House. Their achievements along with the help of benevolent whites have advanced and further the quality of life for African Americans. This portfolio of achievements makes me feel grateful and proud. Since the 1960’s I live abundantly, I have earned three graduate degrees, earned a six figure salary and I live in a downtown neighborhood near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where it is a desire to turn the clock back on Black History. When I think of Black History in 2018 I think back to the struggles of my grandparents, parents and myself who in the 1960’s integrated a white school 10 years after the Brown vs The Board of Education decision because the Department of Education in the county that I attended school refused to implement the federal law, and got away with it for 10 years! The harsh policies, lies, verbal assaults and abuse that come from the White House, formulated in Congress not only affect African Americans but people around the world. Moving from a personal story to a worldwide story, the struggles of the African American is the same struggle for women, the LGBTQ community, the physically challenged, veterans, children, the economically deprived and all others. Our struggle is everybody’s struggle. What is most disturbing to me is to see African Americans who have a national and sometimes global platform who could challenge white nationalism but have chosen to remain mute. History will show when all is said and done however they are still Black and will have the same Black experience as all others. Black History in 2018 is not a time to celebrate it is a time to recognize how far we have come, our strengths and achievements. Moreover we need to recognize and galvanize to perform the work that is in front of us that remains to get done. We need to ensure the accomplishments of our ancestors is not reversed and the clock is not turned back. The struggle is not over. Maurice W. Dorsey is author of Businessman First, Remembering Henry G. Parks, Jr. 1916-1989 Capturing the Life of a Businessman Who Was African American A Biography, a QBR Wheatley Book Award Finalist, 2015. He is also author of From Whence We Come, the story of an African American gay who must come to terms with his mother who tells him throughout his life she never wanted to have him. Both books are available at Xlibris.com and Amazon.com. You can contact Maurice at www.mauricewdorseybooks.com He resides in Washington, DC.

Februar y 1, 2018


In their own words: Survivors’ stories Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association News Story, First Place, 2015 Editorial Page, First Place, 2015 Editorials, First Place, 2014 News Story, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Best Column, First Place, 2012 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011 Spot News Coverage, First Place, 2010 Coverage of Environment, First Place, 2009










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The Villager (USPS 578930) ISSN 0042-6202 Copyright © 2017 by the NYC Community Media LLC is published weekly by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201. 52 times a year. Business and Editorial Offices: One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201. Accounting and Circulation Offices: NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201. Call 718-260-2500 to subscribe. Periodicals Brooklyn, postage prices is paid at New York,N.Y. 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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Februar y 1, 2018



eart disease. It preys on women — killing one in three every year — and it doesn’t discriminate according to age, race or even fitness levels, and at times even crosses gender lines. It can take more commonly known forms, such as a heart attack or stroke, or manifest itself in more insidious ways, as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a silent — sometimes deadly — thickening of the walls inside a heart. If detected and treated in time — through surgery, medication, lifestyle changes or some combination of the three — the outcome can be triumphant, not tragic. Here are the stories of two heart disease sufferers who survived, and one who did not: LISA SALBERG, Denville, N.J., 50, HCM survivor and founder and C.E.O., Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association “I had a heart murmur detected in a school physical at the age of 12. That was around 1979, 1980. I was living in Rockaway Township, N.J., attending middle school. I started noticing that I would get dizzy if I stood up after squatting, and I always heard my heart beating. I didn’t know that wasn’t normal. Up until about the fifth grade, I had been one of the faster kids in my class. By sixth grade, I was having a hard time keeping up with everybody else. By my freshman year in high school, I was cut from the softball team because I couldn’t keep up anymore. When I was examined further I was finally told that I had Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, and I learned that it ran in my family, that my uncle, my sister, my grandfather and aunt had all been affected by it. My grandfather died from it at age 43, my aunt at age 52. At age 18, I developed severe migraines, a lot of us [HCM


REMEMBERING: A table setting at a recent Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation function honoring Dorien “DJ” Taylor, who died of sudden cardiac arrest in May, 2009, and was later diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

sufferers] had them because of poor blood flow. I started taking a beta-blocker medication. Then, after a dental procedure for which I was not pre-medicated, I developed bacterial endocarditis, and then suffered a stroke. I went on to have five different devices implanted in me, but my heart got progressively weaker. On Nov. 23, 2016, I was placed on the list for a heart transplant, and I received it on Groundhog Day in 2017. I went home with my new heart on Valentine’s Day, and since then I’ve been living without pain. I went back to work last summer and haven’t stopped since. Having HCM means your heart is highly abnormal. The walls are built wrong, with a structure that can cause complications, including heart failure, arrhythmia and even sudden cardiac death. There is no cure for HCM, so it comes down to managing it. For most people, that can be done with medication. For about 25 percent, they will need an implantable defibrillator that will protect them from sudden cardiac arrest. About 20 percent would need to have an open-heart surgery called a myectomy. A smaller percentage can have alcohol septal ablasion, which

will remove the obstruction from the inside of the heart. Another 20 percent will have to contend with atrial fibrillation and about 5 percent will move on to heart transplants, like me. I am the founder and C.E.O. of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association. We at HCMA have spent 22 years building centers of excellence for the care of HCM, and there are now 31 such centers, including NYU-Winthrop on Long Island; NYU-Langone Downtown in Manhattan; Westchester Medical and Morristown Medical in New Jersey. With HCM, some days you can look very normal and feel very good. But if you’re diagnosed with it, it’s critically important that entire families get screened; it is a genetic disorder. If you’re a parent with HCM, your child has a 50 / 50 chance of getting it. If someone suspects they may have HCM they should go to a cardiologist and get an echocardiogram, an EKG and a comprehensive evaluation with that cardiologist, including, if necessary, a cardiac MRI.” *** CARMINA TAYLOR, 46, a consultant in Philadelphia, PA,

whose son, Dorien Garnett, died of HCM at age 17 in 2009 I’ll never forget it. It was May 8, 2009, and my son Dorien — we called him DJ — was with his dad and my younger son, Taylor Garnett, in Boston, where DJ was competing in a basketball tournament. I remember I had spoken to DJ on the phone at 5 p.m. Then, at 8 p.m., I got a call from Taylor telling me DJ had passed away. I was in disbelief; I had just spoken to my son three hours before. I drove from Philadelphia to Boston that night, and when I got to the morgue, I saw the most horrible sight a mother could see. My son’s body was cold, so cold that the only place on his body I could kiss him to say a final goodbye was his hair. I talked to the doctors, who couldn’t really explain why my son had suddenly died, except that the indication was that he had some kind of heart failure. They said they would perform an autopsy, which took six agonizing weeks before it was completed and the results were released. They determined that DJ had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease I had never heard of before. I have since learned that there was a history of heart disease on both sides of DJ’s family, one relative on my side had it, two on his father’s side. But my son had played sports his whole life and nothing — not an irregular heartbeat, not shortness of breath — had come up in physicals. We now know that HCM is a genetic mutation of the heart. My son was born with an enlarged heart and over time the ventricles grew thicker and the moment my son died was at the moment that his heart could not pump any more blood through its ventricles. Once I found out that my son died of HCM, I immediately took myself and my younger SURVIVORS continued on p. 21

Some very heartening heart facts


he heart is roughly the size of a fist and weighs only 11 ounces on average. Yet, it is responsible for pumping 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels each day. It ac-

complishes this by beating 72 times a minute. Studies have shown that a “broken heart” is a real occurrence, according to Live Science. This type of trauma releases stress hormones. Chest pain and short-

ness of breath ensue but can be remedied after some rest. Conversely, a good laughing fit can cause the lining of the blood vessel walls — the endothelium — to relax. Being intimate can double a person’s heart rate,

burning up to 200 calories, equal to a brisk 15-minute run. A study of 2,500 men aged 49 to 54 found having an orgasm three times a week can cut the likelihood of death from coronary disease in half. TheVillager.com

Why The Villager is red RED continued from p. 1

your accountant to get your taxes done without being prepared with your financial numbers, and the truth is you should never go to your doctor without knowing your five important hearthealth numbers.â€? Those five numbers, she explained, are your: • Total cholesterol: “This can be measured with a simple blood test.â€? • HDL (good) cholesterol: “You want that number to be higher, rather than lower.â€? • Blood sugar: “Even mild elevations in blood sugar — a condition sometimes called pre-diabetes — can impact your risk for heart disease.â€? • Blood pressure: “There are new guidelines on how to measure blood pressure. Have a home blood-pressure monitoring device and know how to use it.â€? • Body-mass index: “A measure of your height, in relation to your weight.â€? In connection with the launch of Heart Smart for Women, the authors have also launched the Get Heart Smart for Women campaign. “Heart Smart For Women provides a practical step-by-step program to help women of all ages put the research and physician’s guidance into action,â€?

Mieres said. “The book is a lifestyle tool stocked with effective guidance on diet, sleep, stress, strength and flexibly exercises, physician partnership and other critical factors for a heart-healthy life.� Rosen said that in February the Get Heart Smart for Women campaign will focus on blanketing communities with education programs and a variety of events about healthy heart care. “People get scared that their options are limited,� she added. “The truth is, anything you do will help. You don’t have to be a marathon runner, just try walking more. Maybe your diet’s not perfect, but try oatmeal some mornings for breakfast and try sprinkling some blueberries on top.� The American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Go Red For Women is nationally sponsored by Macy’s and CVS Health; and locally by New York City Goes Red Sponsors, Northwell Health and the Elizabeth Elting Foundation. For more information on National Wear Red Day or to register your company or organization to participate, visit the American Heart Association at nycgored.heart.org.

AB37<6/@2B ;S\O\Re][S\eWbV^`SRWOPSbSa eO\bSROa^O`bWQW^O\baT]`<SeG]`Y C\WdS`aWbg2S^O`b[S\b]T<cb`WbW]\ O\R4]]RAbcRWSa`SaSO`QV^`]XSQb All participants receive a $20 Visa gift card and entry into a rafďŹ&#x201A;e for an iPad! B]^O`bWQW^ObSg]ceWZZ\SSRb]Q][^ZSbS]\SabcRgdWaWb O^^`]fW[ObSZg$%[W\cbSab]bOZbW[S 2c`W\UbVWadWaWbg]ceWZZ\SSRb]Q][^ZSbSOaS`WSa]TP`WST _cSabW]\\OW`Sa]\g]c`RWSbO\R^VgaWQOZOQbWdWbg[SOac`Sa ]TVSWUVbO\ReSWUVbO\R]\S!\cbSW\bS`dWSe

For more information, please call New York University, 631-268-6931 or email aml836@nyu.edu

Terrible exchange rate. Good blood pressure reading. Certain numbers you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t take at face value: knowing the numbers related to your health, including ideal blood pressure (<120/80 mm Hg), can be a matter of life or death. 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and stroke, yet about 80% of these deaths are preventable with simple lifestyle changes. Visit nycgored.heart.org for more information. Talk to your doctor in order to

Go RedTM AHA, Red DressTM DHHS



Februar y 1, 2018


Hey, at least that’s one cause we can all get behind! As for why the Continental — which was formerly a live punk-music venue — is closing, it’s because that corner of Third Ave. and St. Mark’s Place is going to be developed reportedly with a new seven-story “boutique office building”...literally.

LITERALLY...: The news from the Continental shots bar is that it will close in July — and also that anyone who uses the word “literally” inside will be given five minutes to finish their drink and then be kicked out of the place. But if you start a sentence with the word, the ejection will be immediate. “I do feel like I pranked the whole world and that my hero, Ken Kesey R.I.P., would be proud!” Trigger, the Continental’s owner, told us. He’s also been feuding lately with Eden Brower, the East Village’s “Slum Goddess” blogger — but he brushed it off. “It was all tongue in cheek,” he told us. “Just pushing buttons and having fun. It went global. Literally.” Trigger’s latest? He’ll be selling black T-shirts sporting the phrase “Stop Kardashianism!” and below that a red circle with a slash through it over the word — you guessed it — “Literally.”


Februar y 1, 2018

DURST DRAMA: Borough President Gale Brewer recently paid a visit to Community Board 2 at its January full-board meeting and was peppered with questions by what could be called the board’s “Hudson River Park bloc” about her recent surprise appointment of developer Douglas Durst to the Hudson River Park Trust’s board of directors. Durst formerly headed the Friends of Hudson River Park, the park’s former watchdog-turned-private fundraiser, but several years ago had a falling out with the Trust’s leadership, including its president Madelyn Wils, and resigned. More recently, of course, he helped fund the City Club of New York’s lawsuit against the Trust and Barry Diller’s glitzy Pier 55 project. Tobi Bergman queried Brewer whether, per the Hudson River Park Act of 1998, she had consulted with Community Board 4 before appointing Durst. (Brewer has three appointees to the Trust’s board — one each from Boards 1, 2 and 4 — and Durst lives in Board 4 up in the Midtown West area.) Brewer responded, as The Villager recently reported, that, in fact, she did not do so. “It kind of came very quickly,” she

Unlike Mario Batali and Ken Friedman, Bobby Flay, above, doesn’t have to worr y about being accused of sexual harassment, Scoopy hears.

said, apologetically. “Usually, I would sit down [with the community board chairperson],” she added. Susanna Aaron told Brewer, regarding Durst, “I believe he does love the park. But I do think he has a problem with the leadership of the park,” adding she fears he might “undermine efforts to get the park done.” Also questioning the Beep on Durst, Rich Caccappolo said he was “interested about why he surreptitiously funded the lawsuit.” Confirming rumors by Pier 55 backers, Durst finally admitted to The Villager last year that, yes, he had funded the litigation. But Brewer shrugged off the question, telling Caccappolo, “The lawsuit is over — he lost.” Technically, the City Club did not lose lawsuit, and the Trust seemed scared that it might lose, which is why it was in talks with the City Club plaintiffs before Governor Andrew Cuomo committed to finally getting the park finished, after which the plaintiffs agreed to withdraw their litigation. As we spoke to her after her remarks at C.B. 2, Brewer told us it was her idea to appoint Durst to the Trust, that she reached out to him. She said she did so because, as a developer, he knows what he’s doing and will help “get the park built.” She said she has known him for years, going back to her time in the City Council, when he was building development projects in her Upper West Side district. His construction projects are also extremely energy and environmentally conscious, she said, approvingly, noting that he is “way beyond LEED.” Durst actually was not present at last Thursday’s regularly scheduled Trust

board of directors meeting. According to the Trust, because things must go through “a process,” Durst will not “officially” be appointed until March. A Durst spokesperson confirmed that is Durst’s understanding, as well.

FLAY APPARENTLY O.K.: Well, high-profile Village restaurateurs Mario Batali (Babbo, Lupa, Del Posto, Otto, La Sirena, etc.) and Ken Friedman (The Spotted Pig) have taken indefinite leaves of absence after being accused of sexual harassment. Friedman was even said to have an alleged “rape room” above The Spotted Pig, where Batali has been accused of behaving crudely. What a sordid stew! Anyway, we were at a party recently where a Food Network hotshot told us one restaurant superstar who will never be nailed for sexual harassment — even though people might assume he would be — is Bobby Flay (Gato). We inferred from his remarks that, yeah, Flay may well be a dog, but he’s not a harasser. MEMORIAL MAYHEM: Elissa Stein reports that the new New York City AIDS Memorial, at Greenwich and Seventh Aves., apparently is in danger of becoming an open-air gym / bike obstacle course. “Today I saw kids doing tricks on bikes,” she said. “They’d ride around the park and then do jumps up onto the memorial. Before that a couple of people were using it as a workout platform to do pushups and planks. I was horrified and wondered if it was purposely designed to be used like that or if people were being disrespectful.” TheVillager.com

Ravi freed — for now; Still faces deportation BY TEQUIL A MINSK Y


avidath Lawrence Ragbir petitioned the court against U.S. Attorney General Jefferson Sessions, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, ICE’s New York Field Office Director Thomas Decker and its assistant director, Scott Mechkowski. From national to local, these are the players who are responsible for the fate of “Ravi” Ragbir and other immigrants in the New York area facing detention and deportation. The Ragbir legal team was petitioning against his detention and deportation while he has other legal cases pending. Late Monday morning, Jan. 29, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest ordered that Ragbir be released from custody immediately. That afternoon, Ragbir left Orange County Correctional Facility in Goshen, N.Y., after 18 days in immigration detention in both Miami and New York State. In her opinion, Forrest wrote: “There is, and ought to be in this country, the freedom to say goodbye.” She condemned the inhumanity of people being snatched and sent away when they have lived without incident, comparing this administration’s practice to those in authoritarian regimes. “We are not that country,” she wrote. During the two-hour drive from in Goshen to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Manhattan, Ragbir’s hands were cuffed and his legs shackled. During transport, he asked why he was still shackled if he was being released, and was told, “Procedure.” After Ragbir was processed in Lower Manhattan at ICE’s office at 26 Federal Plaza on Monday evening, an ICE officer brought him to Judson Memorial Church, on Washington Square South, where he was welcomed home. Ragbir is still subject to being sent back to Trinidad. But his pending legal action helped his lawyers’ appeal to block deportation, return him to New York State and get him out of detention. He has an upcoming court hearing Feb. 9 in New Jersey, when his legal team will try to vacate his initial conviction from years ago, thus nullifying the case for deportation. They are hoping for a stay of deportation. Ragbir was detained during a routine check-in at the Lower Manhattan ICE office on Jan. 11. Street protests that followed saw 18 arrests, including of two city councilmembers. The immigrant-rights activist is still supposed to report to ICE on Feb. 10, to be deported. The last two-and-half weeks have obviously taken a huge emotional and physical toll on Ragbir and his wife, Amy Gottleib. However, support and solidarity continue to grow. At a City Hall press conference on Wed., Jan. 31, with Ragbir and Gottleib present, Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez said, “New York is better because of Ravi. His strength, courage and the community he TheVillager.com


Ravi Ragbir spoke at a Cit y Hall rally in suppor t of him on Wednesday, as t wo of his strongest suppor ters, Councilmembers Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane Williams, listened.

has built highlight the injustices committed in the name of broken immigration laws. We stand with Ravi, New Sanctuary Coalition and immigration advocates demanding that he stay in the United States in his home with his family.” Rodriguez and Councilmmember Jumaane Williams were arrested for doing civil disobedience after Ragbir’s detention on Jan. 11. Williams spoke to the ruthless action of the federal government. “Their attacks have nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with bigotry and xenophobia,” he said. “We have a moral obligation to fight for Ravi’s permanent presence in America, and to reaffirm our commitment to being a sanctuary city that defends the rights of all immigrants.” Many other councilmembers, along with Public Advocate Letitia James, shared their concerns about police officers’ actions during the street protests, Ragbir’s detention in New York, the New York Police Department’s involvement in taking him to the airport, what it means to be a sanctuary city, and the courage of Ragbir’s continued struggle. New City Council Speaker Corey Johnson made an impassioned call for vigilance and continued action. Ragbir acknowledged how tired he was from 18 days in detention — as he put it, “eighteen days in the belly of the beast.” The day after his release, he went to Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in Washington, D.C., and “I was in the other belly of the beast,” he said. Ragbir commented on all the resources that were used to take him away on Jan. 11, mentioning that there were 20 people at the hospital, half of them from the Police Department’s Emergency Service Unit. “There were 10 cars taking me to the

airport,” he said. “This is a war game for them,” he said. “We are not going to allow them to shove us into the shadows.” Councilmember Rodriguez invited everyone to come out in support on Feb.

10 when Ragbir has to go back to Federal Plaza. “It’s not just to report!” Ragbir clarified. “The document says: ‘To be deported.’” “The whole city has to come out,” Williams urged. “We have to shut something down!” Attorney Alina Das, part of Ragbir’s legal team, emphasized that what is happening here is not normal. “The law includes all of our rights,” she said. “When they come to take our leaders, we know they’re trying to destroy a movement for immigrant rights in this country.” While they will continue to fight with and through the courts, she said, “The real fight will happen in the streets.” Also, last Sat., Jan. 27, at Federal Plaza, there was another press conference with local congressmembers. Representative Nydia Velázquez emphasized how she and colleagues speak with one voice and will not be intimidated as they push back. Velazquez took Gottlieb, Ragbir’s wife, as her guest to the State of the Union, and Ragbir traveled down to Washington with them. After mulling boycotting the event, Ragbir sat in the House gallery — right behind a guy with “Bikers for Trump” on his vest. “It was very disconcerting to hear people applauding ‘clean, beautiful coal,’” Ragbir said. “ ‘Clean, beautiful, coal.’ That’s how extreme it was.”

Februar y 1, 2018


Recollections about Fred Bass by former Strand employee Nick Aretakis were among the mementoes and photos on display at the celebration of Bass’s life.

Strand’s Bass memorialized by literary lions


red Bass, the legendary owner of the Strand Bookstore, was celebrated and memorialized at the literary mecca at Broadway and E. 12th

St. that he worked in for most of his life and built into a world-famous brand. An East Village native, Bass died Jan. 3 at age 89. Many writers and cultural

luminaries shared their fond memories of him and of the Strand’s importance to them. Tom Finkelpearl, the commissioner of the city’s Department of

Cultural Affairs, also presented Bass’s daughter, Nancy Bass Wyden, with a Fred Bass Day proclamation in her father’s honor.


Ar t Spiegelman and Fran Lebowitz at Fred Bass’s memorial, at which Lebowitz spoke.


Februar y 1, 2018

Paul Krugman, the economist and New York Times columnist, was among the impressive roster of those giving remarks. TheVillager.com


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.

Februar y 1, 2018


Politicians and the people praise Johnson BY EILEEN STUK ANE


efore Corey Johnson’s inauguration as speaker of the New York City Council began on Sun., Jan. 28 — before his ears could hear the admiration and praise bestowed upon him by Mayor Bill de Blasio, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer and a host of other city and state elected officials — Johnson was mingling on the floor of the Haft Theater at the Fashion Institute of Technology, hugging and being hugged by constituents who, without exception, called him “a friend.” “Say hello to your mother for me,” Johnson said to one woman, and “Hello, Jerry, how are you?” to another. He didn’t skip a beat as he greeted person after person by first name. The warm responses from constituents reflected the efforts Johnson has made to connect with and earn the trust of people living in the neighborhoods of his Council District 3. Sitting with neighbors from Manhattan Plaza, the Hell’s Kitchen performing-artists residence, District Leader Marisa Redanty spoke of how they fought to elect Johnson when he was running for City Council. “He’s not doing it for himself,” she said. “He’s interested in doing the work for the people, to meet everybody, know everybody, and ask about what they want and need. He was never far from any event.” Residents credited Johnson with getting bus schedules posted, starting the Fresh Food for Seniors program (which every two weeks offers seniors fresh produce for $8 a bag, available in his district office), and eliminating the ponding on Ninth Ave. that made street crossing hazardous. “This is quality of life,” Redanty said. “I know he’s going to do great things as speaker because that’s who he is. I don’t know how he does it.” Every seat in the 700-capacity auditorium was filled by the time the ceremony opened with musical performances from the students of P.S .111 and P.S. 51. Aleta LaFargue, president of the Manhattan Plaza tenants association, gave opening remarks and introduced the many councilmembers and other local politicians who were on stage. “I know I speak for everyone when I say that if you’re on the West Side, Corey is much more than an elected public official,” LaFargue said. “To so many of us across our district he is a friend, a neighbor, a surrogate son, a mentor, a mentee, a role model, a fighter.” Mayor de Blasio spoke of Johnson’s activism after the November 2016 election. “One of the people in this city who stood up the quickest, with the most fortitude, who started to organize his community to resist and to make sure values stay strong, was Corey Johnson,”


Februar y 1, 2018


U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer swore in Corey Johnson as the City Council’s new speaker at Sunday’s ceremony at F.I.T.


Pioneering state A ssemblymember Deborah Glick was glad to see Corey Johnson win the speakership.

de Blasio said. He added that New York City was sending a message to the whole country “that an H.I.V.-positive man is one of the great leaders of our city.” The mayor talked about Johnson’s roots in a small Massachusetts town and how 20 years ago Johnson came out “in a world where almost no one did it, in a culture and athletic culture that so tragically rejected people’s truth. “Corey is not a moderate,” he stated. “You don’t do things in moderation. You do it with all your energy and heart and became an activist, a community activist, a fighter for L.G.B.T. rights, a civic leader and the youngest community board chair in the city.” The mayor vowed regarding AIDS, “this will be the place where this epidemic ends.” Before giving the oath of office, Schumer, like de Blasio, referred to Johnson’s childhood, specifically his

upbringing in public housing. “His family struggled, and struggled, and struggled,” he said. “But Corey had some inner strength, a great gift from God, and he became captain of his football team and he came out and said ‘I’m gay.’ ” Schumer, who met Johnson shortly thereafter, on Sunday called him “a fighter to stand up for who we are and what we believe in,” and “it’s a great day for New York City to have such a leader.” Amidst the accolades, Johnson’s stated intention to make the City Council a “Council of independence,” meaning apart from the mayor, was later mentioned by City Comptroller Scott Stringer, as was Johnson’s creation of a new committee for oversight and investigation of city agencies. Alphonso David, counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo, dubbed “Corey

Johnson the disruptor, the underdog, the fighter, and now the Speaker of the New York City Council. He has never forgotten how important it is to remain humble, how important it is to fight for the things that absolutely matter,” David said. Finally taking the podium, after been unable to keep from dancing to “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now,” sung by the New York City Community Chorus earlier in the program, and comforting Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo’s baby Prince while Cumbo was seated beside him on stage, Johnson spoke of the 14,703 doors he knocked on during his campaign for office and how he continues to be inspired by those he met. “Each one of you has a unique, incredible story and a unique set of life experiences and challenges that you’ve overcome,” he told the audience. “You are what inspires me and motivates me every single day.” He highlighted accomplishments, including the pending public park on W. 20th St. in Chelsea, a new South Village historic district, the 500 affordable housing units at the St. John’s Partners project that will result from the Pier 40 air-rights negotiation he brokered, and an indoor recreation facility and affordable supermarket that will also be part of the St. John’s project. In spite of these wins, Johnson said the city faces big challenges. “The affordability crisis that grips our city threatens the very existence of our neighborhoods,” he said. “People who lived in the same community for their entire lives find themselves priced out, unable to afford their rent or even their groceries. Many working families are literally living paycheck to paycheck. One missed shift or one medical expense away from eviction or bankruptcy.” Johnson noted that the night before his inauguration ceremony, 61,000 people slept in shelters, 23,000 of them children under age 16. “We must do better,” he stressed. He vowed to extend rent protections and to work with state government “to finally, once and for all, close the loopholes that are allowing landlords to deregulate apartments.” He noted that 22 percent of New Yorkers — 1.7 million people —live below the poverty line, and 44 percent are at the poverty line. He made clear that affordable housing is a priority. He spoke out for small businesses that are unable to compete with “deeppocketed chain stores” and subway riders who are experiencing “years of disinvestment in our infrastructure,” and also “shamefully racial disparities that persist in nearly every aspect of life in our city, including life expectancy, health outcomes, criminal justice and education.” SPEAKER continued on p. 11 TheVillager.com

at his inauguration as new Council speaker To the people of his District 3, running from the edge of Central Park to Canal St., Johnson vowed that even though he now has a bigger set of citywide responsibilities, “I will never ever let that stop me from my obligations to you, my constituents in this district. You will see me often, you will see my staff often, and we will have a close strong working partnership over the next four years just as we have had over the previous four years. I will always remember who elected me.” Johnson then shared his personal story of struggle and hardship when he came out. “When I came out in 1999 in a small town of 5,000 people, 30 miles north of Boston, when I came out to my family, when I came out at school, I was three months before that literally suicidal,” he recalled. “I was clinically depressed and I did not want to live anymore because I couldn’t accept myself and I was scared the world wouldn’t accept me. But I came out and I got the support and love that I needed and ultimately I realized that I deserved. And that one moment of coming out was the chain reaction in a series of events.” Life events broadened Johnson’s perspective and brought him to New York. “I will remember where I came from,” he said. “I will remember the struggles that I faced, I will remember the adver-


Corey Johnson shared a dance with Public Advocate Letitia James at his inauguration as speaker.

sity. And when difficult decisions have to be made, I will do it remembering all of you, of course, but also the folks who aren’t here today: the single mom working two jobs, the public housing resident living in conditions that are not

acceptable, the family whose landlord is harassing them, trying to deregulate where they live. I’ll remember these stories.” He also promised that, though there would be good days and tough days, he

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would do the job “with a smile. I will have fun. I will do this job in an earnest way, in a serious way, and it will get the attention it deserves,” he said. “But I hope to have a lot of fun with you while at the same time making our city even better.” Local politicians and others who have worked with Johnson said they have high expectations for him. “Going back to when he was a community board chairperson, we had a number of issues that related to the waterfront we worked on,” Assemblymember Deborah Glick said. “He’s smart and focused and is going to be very good for the community.” Her Assembly colleague Richard Gottfried said, “One of the reasons I supported Corey when he first ran for the Council was his dedication and the priority he gives to rent and housing. I think as speaker we’re going to see a lot more movement on protecting the rent laws and tenants’ rights and getting more affordable housing.” Kyle Bragg, secretary / treasurer of SEIU 32BJ, said, “Corey has been an extraordinary advocate for responsible development and good jobs. I’m very happy to see someone who has both the skills and abilities and the morality to look out for working families in this city be the speaker of the New York City Council.”

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Februar y 1, 2018


The two towers: Seward Park Co-op debates BY REBECCA FIORE


o sell air rights or to not sell air rights? That’s the question on the minds of 1,627 Seward Park Cooperative shareholders. Heightened tension due to a lack of trust between shareholders and the co-op’s board of directors looms as residents are deciding whether to sell unused air rights — formally known as development rights — to a developer who wants to build two tall residential towers sandwiching the landmarked former Bialystoker Nursing Home. The proposed deal between the board and the developer, Ascend Group, along with Optimum Asset Management, a European investor, is for the development group to buy 162,000 square feet of air rights at $300 per square foot from Seward Park for a total of $48.6 million. The co-op currently has 1.3 million square feet of unused air rights, according to developers. In November 2016, Ascend and Optimum purchased three properties along East Broadway, Nos. 228, 232 and 226. The Bialystoker Nursing Home, which sits at 228 East Broadway, was designated an individual exterior landmark in 2013, so only interior renovations can be made. If the air rights deal is O.K.’d, the developers plan to construct two buildings. One, on the west side of the former nursing home, would be 22 stories and 242 feet high. The one on the east side of the landmarked building would be 33 stories and 343 feet high, with a 12-foot cantilever over the ramp leading to the co-op’s underground garage. The Seward Park Co-op currently sports four 20-story buildings, standing about 175 feet high. According to a statement from Doron Stember, the president of the co-op’s board, this offer is unique. “The Bialystoker lot is the only air-rights sale possibility that would not include any construction on co-op property,” he explained. “Since we don’t own the Bialystoker land or have sole control over timing, in contrast to the potential sites on our property, the board is responsible for bringing the vote to our shareholders, so they don’t miss an opportunity to make the final decision themselves.” In order for the air rights to be sold, 543 shareholders — one-third of the total eligible shareholders — must attend the vote for it to be valid. Of those, half must then vote to pass the motion forward to a referendum, according to Seward Park Housing Co-operative bylaws. There are 11 board members, who serve three-year terms; all must be shareholders of the co-op. Ernie Yaverbaum has lived in the co-op for 35 years. He said he suspects the board has already made its decision and is pushing to get the residents to vote yes on the air rights, so that the co-op will get the money. He said the board has not given an explicit “thumbs up or thumbs down,” but that by allowing the developers to set up


Februar y 1, 2018

A rough design rendering of the t win towers proposed at the old Bialystoker Nursing Home site, if they included air rights purchased from the nearby Seward Park Co-ops. The facade designs are not final. This design would also include a cantilever over the ramp to the Seward Park Co-op’s parking garage.

makeshift stands — on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays — in the lobbies of the Seward Park Co-op, the board is further “steering” the conversation. However, according to the opposition’s own Web site, https://sites.google.com/view/sphc-airrights/home?authuser=0, they also set up their own table in the lobby. “They are showing a dismal state of affairs that we need the money,” Yaverbaum said. “They aren’t giving an opinion, but they are steering through subtle hints. It’s not an accurate reading; it’s their darkened version of the finances, so they can scare people to say yes to the air rights.” Telling a different story, Darcey Gerstein, a fourth-year board member who has lived at the co-op for 13 years, said the board has been very forthcoming and honest about each step of the process. She said the board has not taken an official position yet, but is just presenting the facts at this point. “If people feel that’s pushing an agenda, I think that’s maybe more indicative of the fact we have a lot of financial obligations,” she said. “Many shareholders are older and on fixed incomes. Affordability is a strong factor in decision-making — just nature of the facts. We are making all the information clear to people, so they have confidence in their own ability to make an informed vote.” Gerstein noted that the board has gone above and beyond in trying to be as transparent as possible. They e-mail memos to shareholders, as well as distribute hard copies of them to each apartment, she noted. The board also created a Web site, sewardparkairrights.com, where all the memos are available. “The volume and frequency of the communications we have put out speak for themselves,” she said. “I know that shareholders have a sort of embedded mistrust of the board, from long ago misdeeds and miscommunications. Throughout this process we have made a lot of effort to be clear and communicative and timely in communications.” In addition to these efforts, Stember said they have held six shareholder meetings on the topic and scheduled three more.

Dan Strum, a co-op shareholder since 2000, who also writes a blog called The Buzz, spbuzz.org, about news involving the co-op, said he finds the shareholder meetings to be a bit like a performance.

‘The co-op has some serious financial issues.’ Joan Grant

“There are public sessions that are rather not quite scripted, but they are very orchestrated,” Strum said. “The board will step through information that will make a case they are trying to make. There hasn’t been an open forum where people can stand up and present views that aren’t scripted into the framework of the meeting.” Stember said the proposed sale contract is still under negotiations with attorneys and that a vote date cannot be set until the contract is completed. “The co-op’s bylaws require that we give official notice for any referendum vote of no fewer than 10 and no more than 40 days before the date,” he said. “We will give as much notice as possible.” A memo from the board sent out to shareholders last June 13 read, “This fiscal year, the co-op’s anticipated operational costs were approximately $27,000,000, but only $22,000,000 was projected for income. Rather than imposing the 37 percent maintenance increase that would be required to overcome such a deficit, the Board looked to the co-op’s other revenue sources.” But Yaverbaum said the board is adept at manipulating the discussion.

“The board, in my experience, going back many years, whenever they have issues, par for the course, they steer subtly,” he said. “No one wants to be the face of controversy, so they all just hide behind the board. It’s shady politics for people who don’t have the guts to say what they really believe.” For his part, Paul Nasrani, a shareholder for 15 years, said while he has grown a bit frustrated with the timing of the information being given out, he still thinks the board is doing their best. “I don’t see any indication that this board isn’t doing everything they can, surveys, meetings, negotiating with developers, getting us information,” he said. “They are not going to benefit. There’s a lot of good members and people. They have nothing to gain.” In a Dec. 21, infographic titled “Capital Projections 2018-2021” the board explains that there is about $12 million in required infrastructure work that needs to be done at the co-op over the next four years. This work includes facade, terrace and elevator repairs. Shareholder Joan Grant said she understands how the air-rights sale could alleviate the co-op’s current financial burden. But at the cost of adding two new towers, with up to 210 residential units, the decision on how to vote is complex, she said. Grant, who has lived at the co-op for about four years with her husband, said she thinks the board has been clear with shareholders. She noted that, along with regularly issuing written reports, the board has also held shareholder meetings — though some say not enough. “The co-op has some serious financial issues to deal with,” Grant said. “Our reserve fund is very low. We have repairs that need to be made, a lot of upcoming issues. We do have many expenses on the horizon and maintenance increases. Not everyone can absorb those increased expenses. These have to be paid one way or another. It could be that air rights is the answer.” Grant’s apartment faces the former Bialystoker Nursing Home. She said she SEWARD continued on p. 13 TheVillager.com

selling extra air rights to Bialystoker project would be sorry to see the towers constructed. Whether or not the co-op votes to sell its air-rights to the project, the developers still own the land and can build there. And they also can simply build the towers smaller if they don’t get the extra square footage from the co-op. Both Grant and her husband haven’t made up their minds on how they will vote. “The question for us is the difference between what will go up with or without the sale,” she said. “How much difference does that make?” According to the developers’ Web site, without the air rights — their so-called as-of-right plan — is to build a 20-story building on the west side and a 17-story building on the east side of the Bialystoker Nursing Home, and that there would be no cantilever. This scenario would contain 140 units. Nasrani said that, like Grant, he wants to know the incremental differences between a building with air rights and one without them. “If they are going to build a 26-story building, then that’s not much different than a 23-story building,” he said. “I think we would be foolish not to approve it. We are not stopping it: They are going to build.” Andrew Einhorn, a 17-year Seward Park Co-op resident, said he feels com-

passion for those shareholders who will be most affected by this decision. He said he does not think having two new towers flank the old nursing home building is a good idea. “It will almost disappear,” he said of the historic structure. “So what’s the use of landmarking something if you can’t even see it anymore?” Blogger Strum said that, in one meeting, a board member said the developers would build regardless. However, Strum is not convinced that it would be worth it for them without acquiring the additional air rights. “I don’t know that they are going to build anyway,” he asserted. “I don’t think it would be profitable to build without air rights. If you build two buildings, you have to excavate two lots. You have two teams, two sites. You need approval of the two sites. It gets mighty expensive, mighty fast.” Yaverbaum’s other issue with the board is that while he knows the developer will build either way, he thinks the board could have gotten more than $300 per square foot. “If they really want this deal,” he said, “make this worth our while.” Board member Gerstein said that the initial offer from the developers was $125 per square foot. The board subsequently hired

consultants, who came up with the higher price of $300 per square foot. Additionally, the developers agreed to scale down the cantilever from 17 feet to 12 feet. “Rather than having no offer to shareholders, we agreed to this price before bringing it to a vote,” she said. Without a doubt, the quality of life at the co-op would be impacted by these two towers. Increased population density, impact on light, obstructed views and even the construction process itself are all factors shareholders are contemplating regarding the vote. “There will be an influx of people in one corner [of the area]. It’s going to crowd out the parks, ruin the parking situation,” Yaverbaum said. “During construction there will be a big, heavy crane high up in the area. People love the Lower East Side because it’s an oasis; you are in the city, but in the quiet community. Now you are turning it into every other single block in Manhattan with giant buildings.” Yaverbaum also said he feels once the shareholders agree to these towers, only more developers will be coming in, and building more than six stories tall. “Once you open the floodgates, everyone is going to be doing it,” he said. “It’s not like these buildings will make the hugest difference, but in 10 years the entire Lower East Side will no longer be the

same.” Gerstein called being a member of the board, “a thankless job,” and said the board has bent over backward to relay information to the community in a neutral manner. “It happens to be a period of time the co-op is going through transition and it’s hard for people to accept change, I think,” she said. “It’s been very challenging.” Strum of The Buzz said the board’s position might not be as unified as it appears. “We might be outclassed by the professional efforts against our team of volunteers,” he said. “I don’t know to what degree it might be adversarial in the board room. It might just be the unified face the board wants to make to the community.” The most recent two-hour long shareholder meeting was held on Jan. 22, with professionals and board members presenting information on air rights and the project’s design, including an open Q&A session. Co-op president Stember said the board is getting closer to announcing a date for the referendum. “This has been going on for over a year,” he said. “It’s not a surprise anymore there is a referendum coming. We are getting relatively close.” The next shareholder meeting will be held Mon., Feb. 5, at the Manny Cantor Center, at 197 East Broadway, at 7 p.m.

POLICE BLOTTER Mugger team Police said a man was walking near the corner of Horatio and West Sts. on Tues., Jan. 23, at 10:08 p.m. when he was robbed by a pack of teenagers. Four males, all in their late teens, demanded the 55-year-old man’s property. One of the suspects reportedly displayed a dark-colored firearm and said, “Take out your wallet and don’t make it look obvious.” According to police, the same suspects struck again a half hour later at Washington and W. 10th Sts., when they walked up to a 35-year-old man and demanded his iPhone 8 Plus and his house keys. During the robbery, one of the thugs brandished a gun. Police were called, and after a canvass of the area, arrested Derek Lopez, 18, Brent Dumay, 19, and Jameel Grant, 18, all for felony robbery.

iPhone fracas After two men argued in front of 53 Little W. 12th St. on Sun., Oct. 8, 2017, at 4:05 a.m., the 22-year-old victim wound up being punched several times in the face, causing swelling and a cut above his right eye, police said. TheVillager.com

The victim’s iPhone 6 Plus, valued at $800, was also snatched during the Meatpacking District altercation. Cornell Morgan, 27, was arrested Thurs., Jan. 11, and Maxwell Alvarez, 23, was arrested Tues., Jan. 23, both for felony robbery.

Purse thieves Police said that on Wed., Jan. 3, around 11:30 p.m., in front of 2 W. 14th St., two unidentified males approached a 25-year-old female from behind and forcibly removed her purse before fleeing southbound on Fifth Ave. The victim was not injured. Pursuant to an investigation, it was determined that an attempt to remove cash from an ATM using the victim’s bank cards was made inside the CVS store at 65 Fifth Ave., at E. 14th St. Police described the suspects as Hispanic, in their early 20s. The first man wore a white hooded shirt, red-andblack winter coat and backpack. The second wore a blue hooded sweatshirt with “Syracuse” on its chest. 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


Sur veillance camera photos of a pair of alleged purse thieves entering the CVS at Fifth Ave. and E. 14th St. where they tried to use the victim’s bank cards to withdraw cash from an ATM.

onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting them to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.

Drink-check dodger A man aroused suspicion after he tried to use three different credit cards to pay for his drinks at Reservoir Bar, at 70 University Place, on Thurs., Jan. 25, at 6:10 p.m., police said. When the waiter, 37, discovered that the name on

the receipt did not match the name on the man’s credit card or driver’s license, he decided to detain the suspect. But the guy stomped on the waiter’s foot several times, breaking a bone in the employee’s foot. A search of the suspect by responding police found fraudulent credit cards and two small bags of alleged marijuana. The man’s total drink bill was $196. Kevin Lindsay, 21, was busted for felony grand larceny.

Tabia C. Robinson and Lincoln Anderson Februar y 1, 2018



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To The Editor: In your items in the Police Blotter, you often ask if anyone has any info on a perpetrator to notify the police, but you never indicate the race of the perp. Wouldn’t it be helpful, in addition to sex, height, weight and clothing, to say if the perp is white, black, Asian, orange, purple or whatever, to narrow down the search? Aren’t you being just a little bit too PC? Stephen Levine

Church cherisher

Your Community News Source

To The Editor: I am writing a history of the Church of the Nativity as part of a celebration of Nativity’s and the Church of Most Holy Redeemer’s combined 350 years of ministry to the community. I have found The Villager’s coverage of these churches very helpful — notably, more helpful than anything in Catholic New York. If anyone has information about Tony Leo, the last parishioner to be buried out of Nativity, I would be very grateful. Elizabeth Porea

We cover “The Cube”!

Donnie Moder

From Stone to Book Row To The Editor: Re “Pies and Drugs and WikiLeaks” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Jan. 11) and “Fred Bass, 89, built Strand into a world-famous brand” (news article, Jan. 11): Roger Stone’s claim that 29 states have legalized cannabis is way overstated. Nine states have legalized: Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, California, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada and (just this week) Vermont. The other 20 are states with medical marijuana laws, which, in most cases, do not even allow for use of herbaceous cannabis, but only extracts and edibles. I take issue with the notion that the Strand was the sole survivor of Book Row. Technically, it isn’t even on the former Book Row since it is on Broadway, not Fourth Ave. The sole survivor of Book Row is Alabaster Bookshop, at 122 Fourth Ave., just on the other side of the block from the Strand. Bill Weinberg

So many S.R.O. units

Call 718-260-2516 or e-mail pbeatrice@cnglocal.com

dangerous activity by tenants going on here. No trust between landlord and tenants. Follow the money, who were these S.R.O. tenants paying?

To The Editor: Re “City empties embattled Bowery building, saying it was ready to collapse” (news article, Jan. 25): Eleven of the 16 units were turned into 40 singleroom-occupancy units? There was a lot of illegal and

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Sound off! Write a letter to the editor news@thevillager.com EVAN FORSCH


Februar y 1, 2018


My year as an anti-Trump Twitter warrior NOTEBOOK BY K ATE WALTER


spent a year on Twitter arguing with people who support President Trump. I’m especially addicted during the cold weather when it’s no fun to be outside. I sprawl on my couch with my iPhone in my hand going back and forth. Several years ago, I joined Twitter to promote my new book. But since Trump was elected I’m tweeting as a member of the Resistance, seeking reassurance I’m not alone in my distress. It is comforting that many people around the country see through this man; plus, Twitter connects me to articles I may have missed. I’m reading compulsively, trying to comprehend what is going on in our nation. How do I work Twitter? I follow hashtags, check specific journalists daily, and scroll though my home feed. (Posts from everyone I’m following show up there.) I also like going down the many rabbit holes of a conversation responding to an original post. I recently hit more than 5,000 followers, a milestone that pleases me. Besides seeking solace and solidarity, I’m focused on trying to understand what people see in Trump and why they voted for him. (They resent illegal immigrants who they think are taking over. They like his coarse unfi ltered speech. They don’t think he’s racist!) I have basically concluded that arguing is futile, even though I have heard people say things like, “I think I could talk to Kate except for the fact that she hates President Trump.” I try to be reasonable and polite and avoid ad hominem. Yet, if I had a dollar for every time I was called a “Libtard,” I would be investing in the stock market. I don’t even own a pussy hat. The big difference between me and them is that I tend to attack President Trump and his cabinet and his policies. They attack liberals, feminists, Hollywood, the media and now the Mueller investigation, which they’re convinced is a “witch hunt.” I’m an easy target because I belong to several categories they stereotype: I live in “librul” New York. I’m a lesbian-feminist and I’m one of those “commie college teachers.” Oddly, many Trump supporters claim to accept L.G.B.T. Americans, (how tolerant of them), yet they’re O.K. with a baker refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay or lesbian couple. Since I taught Critical Thinking for years, I know how to argue and how to identify a fallacy. But the biggest obstacle to having a real argument is the lack of agreement about facts. If something TheVillager.com


Like the writer, the 200,000 par ticipants in the recent Women’s March on New York Cit y are hoping that the midterm elections later this year will sweep a “blue wave” into Washington.

has been reported in several newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, (far from a liberal paper), Trump supporters will still deny its truth, saying that the mainstream media is fake. Yet they support groups like Project Veritas, claiming they are real journalists (as opposed to provocateurs).

Trumpites are blinded by their hatred of liberals.

I also fi nd Trump supporters to be condescending, saying things like: Do you know what “merit immigration” means? (As if I don’t know the defi nition of the word “merit.”) One trumpeted that he was smarter than me since he went to college. I replied that I teach at a college. Boom! Over the past year, the MAGA crowd has become more entrenched

in their hatred for the media, a charge led by the president, whose disrespect for the First Amendment is chilling. It seems so obvious what Trump is doing: He doesn’t like what’s being written about him, so he calls the news “fake.” How can people be so dense not to see through him? Maybe it is lack of education: Things presented as arguments are often fallacies — and bad grammar routinely pops into their posts. If I point this out, I am mocked or called elitist. They call themselves Christians in their profiles, yet have no problem with supporting a president who cheated on his wives, including an affair with a porn star right after his youngest son was born. They believe in Pizza Gate, yet supported Roy Moore. A Bible school student (who preferred Cruz to Trump) insisted I might not be a Christian, even though I attended Catholic schools and currently belong to a church. I still can’t believe there are gay people who actually defend Trump as our civil rights are being stripped away. All this makes me agree with what Trump said a while back, that he could shoot someone on Fifth Ave. and his supporters would not care. Despite a few decent volleys over the past year, things usually end up with one of us blocking the other. I have concluded

it is appropriate to use the label “Cult 45.” Trump supporters are blinded by their hatred of liberals. This year of insanity has made me more of a political activist. I’m not just a Twitter warrior: I attend demonstrations, sign petitions, write articles, donate money. I am ready for the Blue Wave in the midterm elections. I’m not dwelling on the big loss. I took breaks from the Internet last spring when the weather got nice and during the summer when I was at the beach. I may do the same this year. But during the cold winter months, I’m inside my warm apartment arguing with the MAGA crowd and getting insight into their closed minds. It feels like my patriotic duty to fight back with facts — and snarky comments. What have I learned from a year on Twitter as a member of the Resistance? There are defi nitely two different countries all under the flag of the United States of America. Former Mayor Bloomberg said it best when he called Trump a con man. I can’t understand how diehard Trump supporters don’t see this. In the meantime, I’m tweeting away and counting the months until the 2018 election. Follow Kate Walter on Twitter @ KateWalter12 Februar y 1, 2018


N.C.O. is the new way to go in Sixth Precinct


op police brass and the Sixth Precinct recently unveiled the Greenwich Village precinct’s new Neighborhood Coordination Officers program. The program assigns a special group of N.C.O. officers to patrol specific sectors, so that they really get to know the residents and merchants in each area and their concerns about crime and quality-of-life issues.

In addition, other police officers are also assigned to specific sectors to supplement the N.C.O.’s efforts. The precinct formerly had nine patrol sectors, but under the new initiative, now has four. The East Village’s Ninth Precinct and Chelsea’s 10th Precinct both got the N.C.O. program last year, and it is being implemented at precincts around the city.

The precinct’s number of patrol sectors has been cut from nine down to four under the N.C.O. initiative.

Focusing on the new Sector C are Police Officers Joseph Vincent, left, and Nicholas Virgilio.


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Patroling the Sixth Precinct’s new Sector B are Police Officers Rober t Dazzo, left, and Deniz Saglam. TheVillager.com

Art at the base of the place where they live New galleries populate Chelsea’s western landscape

Photo by Scott Stiffler

From the High Line looking north, a view of 500 W. 21st St.

BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN As Chelsea’s art district continues to change, seeing more high-end condo buildings pop up along the High Line, one cannot help but wonder how long (and how many) galleries will be able to afford the steadily increasing rents. Still, though several larger outfits have continued to move elsewhere, including to the Lower East Side and Soho, others continue to set up shop. One of the newer buildings to shape Chelsea’s western landscape is 500 W. 21st St., at 10th Ave. Though the building was completed in May 2015 as a luxury building (only 32 residences in the large complex), it took a while for galleries to move in and add some spark to its ground floor. Only one

Courtesy Washburn Gallery

An installation shot from “The Nines” — works by Ray Parker on view through March 3 at Washburn Gallery (177 10th Ave., btw. W. 20th & 21st Sts.). Visit washburngallery.com.

space remains to be filled, its window lettering announcing that Wilensky Gallery will be “Coming Soon.” In addition to Galleria Ca’ d’Oro, Sato Sakura Gallery, Praxis, and YSP Gallery, two well-established Midtown galleries have now settled in. Both Nohra Haime Gallery and Washburn Gallery, which had been located in the 57th St. section for decades, are up and running, presenting their program Downtown with their usual sophistication. All galleries in the building are open to the public Tues.–Sat., 10am–6pm. Through March 3, Washburn Gallery is presenting “The Nines” — a new exhibition of the modernist abstract painter Ray Parker. Born in 1922 in South Dakota, Parker became associated with some of the leading Abstract Expressionists in the 1950s, including Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning. Influenced by jazz music and with a keen admiration for Matisse, he soon developed a unique compositional language, in which cloudlike forms in rich muted colors form a stark contrast to white or off-white backgrounds. Washburn has been showing Parker, who died in 1990, for decades and yet, perhaps by introducing Parker’s work to a Downtown audience, they might finally succeed in raising wider appreciation for one of the very fine Color Field painters of the 1950 through 1970s. Meanwhile, Nohra Haime Gallery will open “Wilderness: Words are where what I catch is me,” a new solo exhibition of Brooklyn-based artist Lesley Dill (reception for the artist Tues., Feb. 13, 6–8pm; “Wilderness” runs Feb. 14–March 17). Exploring the power of words, especially in regard to their psychological impact, Dill creates delicate sculptures and drawings. GALLERIES continued on p. 18

Courtesy Galleria Ca’ d’Oro Courtesy Nohra Haime Gallery

Close-up view of Lesley Dill’s “Unredeemed Regions” (2017), part of “Wilderness: Words are where what I catch is me” | Feb. 14-March 17 at Nohra Haime Gallery (500 W. 21st St., at 10th Ave.). Visit nohrahaimegallery.com.


A selection from “Wonderland” — works by Marco Grassi on view through March 4 at Galleria Ca’ d’Oro (179 10th Ave., btw. W. 20th & 21st Sts.). Visit ca-doro.com.

Februar y 1, 2018


Courtesy Praxis Gallery

Jorge Miño’s “Crosslines Series” is part of “Monochrome: a group show” — an exhibition on view through Feb. 24 at Praxis Gallery (501 W. 20th St., entrance btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). Visit praxis-art.com.

Via satosakura.jp

Yu Yoshikawa’s “The Cherry Blossoms are in all their Glory (The Couple Sakura in Miharu)” is on view at Sato Sakura Gallery (501 W. 20th St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.) through March 31, part of “Imagination: Contemporary Nihonga Collection from Sato Sakura Museum.” Visit satosakura.jp. GALLERIES continued from p. 17

In her work, paper, wire, horsehair, photography, foil, and bronze mingle with references to music, as well as the poetry and writings of Emily Dickinson, Salvador Espriu, Tom Sleigh, Franz Kafka, and Rainer Maria Rilke, among others. It is obvious that aesthetically and in spirit, Dill follows in the footsteps of the late Nancy Spero (1926–2009), a friend of Dill’s whose scroll paintings with text and classical goddesses are much revered. Interestingly, the elaborate website for 500 W. 21st St. (500w21.com) stresses that “West Chelsea is also avant-garde art in landmarked buildings,” using it as an enticing pitch for the neighborhood. Though the galleries on its ground floor are as little avant-garde or cutting edge as the building is a landmarked one, there’s certainly a positive note to end on: thankfully there will be art displayed on these expansive premises instead of more ATMs.


Februar y 1, 2018

Courtesy y-s-p Gallery

Installation view of “New Works | Art + Form” — featuring works by painter/sculptor Ufan Lee and Korean ceramicist Young Sook Park, on view through March 4 at YSP Gallery (175 10th Ave., btw. W. 20th & 21st Sts.). Visit yspgallery.com.


A sunken liner whose ship will never sail ‘Jimmy’ is defined by an event of Titanic proportions BY SCOTT STIFFLER Everybody’s gotta go from something — so if heaven is a place where the thing that killed you gets trotted out for everything from first impressions to party invitations, it helps to have a cause of death that leaves them thirsting for more once the ice has been broken. And for a Belfast shipyard worker coming up on his centennial as an angel, nothing piques a stranger’s interest quite like name-dropping a certain passenger liner whose unexpected sinking has come to symbolize humanity’s hubris, heroism, and folly. “Boylan” is the last name of this chatty charmer, but he won’t mind if you think of him as “Jimmy Titanic.” Written by Bernard McMullan as a wistful, witty, wry, and, on occasion, brutally damaging jab at the pull of disaster porn and the power of identity politics (as much in the afterlife as here on earth), “Jimmy Titanic” — the man, and the show, is consumed by the notion of litigating the less virtuous aspects of one’s defining moment. It’s a losing battle, but a fascinating one that the McMullan seems to imply we’re doomed, tasked, or morally obligated to fight (sometimes all at once). With the merest tilt of the head, flick of the wrist, or lilt in the voice, Colin Hamell (equally adept in contemplative and broadly comic mode) plays over 20 characters, many of whom went down with the ship to varying degrees of desperation and resignation. The dead are to the lucky ones, however, and not just because their untimely demise confers superstar status in heaven’s best discos and highly specialized online chatrooms. Those who experienced the disaster on dry land (a New York Times editor penning a headline on the fly; a Belfast mayor desperate to deflect attention from the shipbuilding industry) have as many rationalizations as there are rivets on the Titanic — three million, we’re told, a number effectively hammered home by the set’s hellish red lighting, churning steam, steel beams, and rows and rows and rows of, yes, rivets. It’s here, in the bowels of the ship, that Jimmy the equilibrium-challenged angel (whose chafing wings keep “pullin’ to the right”) returns again and again, and of his own volition. What better place to question his actions as a friend, mentor, sailor, and shipbuilder? Good thing, then, that our man TheVillager.com

Photo by Carol Rosegg

Colin Hamell is ship shape, as over 20 characters impacted by a disaster history (and heaven) won’t soon forget.

Jimmy is such a crackerjack storyteller. Likably written and played, the audience can clearly see a depth of purpose the main character’s penchant for melancholy reflection won’t allow, at least not when the foundation begins to crack and the water starts to seep in. If Jimmy has his flaws, at least he’s in exceedingly good company for all eternity. Gabriel is a petty thief who delights in pranking recent arrivals to the pearly gates, God is a Dublin gangster with a serious smoking habit and the look of “a dodgy Santa,” and Steve Jobs is a recent arrival who gave heaven the Internet, but catches hell from Adam and Eve on account of that Apple logo. Some memories, it seems, are less pleasant to revisit than others. “Jimmy Titanic” is directed by Carmel O’Reilly. Runtime: 75 min.,

no intermission. Through Feb. 18 in the W. Scott McLucas Studio Theatre at the Irish Repertory Theatre (132 W. 22nd St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.).

Wed. at 3pm and 8pm; Thurs. at 7pm; Fri. at 8pm; Sat. at 3pm & 8pm; Sun. at 3pm. For tickets ($50), 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

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Survivors’ stories SURVIVORS continued from p. 4 S

s to a cardiologist to get tested son to see if we had it. The tests revvealed that we didn’t; so it was my h husband who was the carrier of H HCM. I’ve since become an advocate fo for encouraging families with histo tories of heart disease to dig deepeer and ask questions about what ty type of heart diseases they have h had. I don’t want other families to go through what I did. For the p past nine years I’ve been involved aas a parent ambassador with the C Children’s Cardiomyopathy Found dation. Our goal is to conduct a m mobile tour to travel around the P Philadelphia region to educate min nority communities about HCM. T There’s no cure, but perhaps we ccan prolong lives if the disease is d detected and treated early. I’ll always think of my son DJ as a hero. I realize now that he was p probably experiencing symptoms o of heart disease, but he never arti ticulated them at all. It’s up to us aas parents to ask the questions, of o ourselves and our families. *** AGNES CZUCHLEWSKI, 63, h heart attack survivor, a retired ccorporate training exec from W Woodside, Queens In December 2015, I was prep paring for relatives to visit for the h holidays. This entailed much heavy ccleaning, some painting, even layin ing rug. I was busy! The unusual p part of this holiday prep was that I fe felt the need to sit down, even nap, fr frequently. I was sleeping more th than my cats! I chalked it up to b being out of shape and getting old. A Also, I feared I was coming down w with my typical Christmas broncchitis — a personal holiday traditi tion since the 1960s — since I was o occasionally short of breath. As the visitors arrived, I turned to food prep. I visited numerous sstores, lugging bags, nothing unu usual. However, a couple of times in the days before Christmas, I fe felt a strange pain in the middle o of my chest, on the sternum, but it passed quickly, so I presumed I had pulled something doing all th the cleaning and carrying. Christmas arrived: Dinner for 1 12 was great, food plentiful, many k kudos. Then we decided to all go in into the city on Dec. 28 to visit a m museum. My husband and I took th the subway. Coming up the subw way stairs, I once again noticed th the pain in my chest, worse this ti time, and shortness of breath. As w we walked over to the New-York H Historical Society, I realized I was TheVillager.com

really having a problem! We gathered the family together and then walked around the museum for about an hour with the pain getting worse. But I certainly didn’t want to ruin everyone’s day by leaving. When I excused myself to take an aspirin, I thought the problem might be my heart. We then said our good-byes, blaming our leaving on my “gastric problems.” As we got into the cab, I told the driver to take us to Lenox Hill Hospital. It was then I told my husband how severe the pain had gotten. Once in the emergency room, I was well looked-after. The E.R. doc determined that I was having a heart attack, had a clot in one of my arteries and would need an angioplasty and stent. The next day’s surgery went well and I was home by New Year’s Eve. Prior to this I never had any heart problems. Granted, I had a family history of cardiac disease, had high blood pressure and diabetes, but all appeared to be under control. Additionally, I never experienced the “typical” heart attack symptoms, like pain down the left arm or the intense chest pressure. I had the faint pains and shortness of breath, then the intensifying central chest pain that went through to my back. Many of my friends said they would never have thought of going to the E.R. with what I was feeling. This was definitely a case of “listening to your body” and, regardless of family plans, taking timely, life-saving action. I lost 25 pounds, and started walking a great deal more. I’m a part-time volunteer docent at the Bronx Zoo and I lead tours. Thats great exercise. There’s also the matter of risk factors. I’ve always had high risk factors, I’ve had a family history of cardiac disease, high blood sugar, high blood pressure. I’ve become more diligent at watching my numbers but also really following up and listening to my doctors and all that good stuff. Things like family history you can’t change. But things like keeping your blood pressure and A1C number where it should be, that’s stuff you can control. I’ve found out that I’m sodium sensitive, so I’ve cut back on my salt intake, and I’m eating a lot more whole grains, cutting back on refined sugar. From all this, I’ve learned that heart disease takes a lot of different forms. It’s not one-size-fits-all. My advice is that if it [your symptoms] feel different than what is normal for you, then get medical attention. Februar y 1, 2018



Februar y 1, 2018


Ray’s totally rad retro-’80s birthday party! BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


ast year, it was belly dancing and kebabs at “A Night of Persian Delights.” This time, mixing things up a bit, it was Members Only jackets, glow sticks and Aqua Net. In what has become an annual tradition, friends of Ray Alvarez a.k.a. Asghar Ghahraman threw him a birthday party Monday night at his hole-in-thewall beignets and Obama burgers hot spot on Avenue A near E. Seventh St. This year is was “retro ’80s”-themed. The East Village cheese-and-chilidog ironman, who just turned 85, continues to pull the overnight shift — though these days with a little assistance from a helper. As usual, there was a lot of exciting dancing on the worn linoleum countertop, as burlesque beauties with names like Pearls Daily, Lil Miss Lixx, Nasty Canasta, Cheeky Lane and Gal Friday shook it up even more than one of Ray’s famous egg creams. After one dancer’s performance, Matt Rosen, one of the event’s organizers, lightheartedly checked in with Ray if his heart could handle it. Ray got a pig valve replacement and pacemaker for his ticker last year, but he was loving the dancing on Monday. And, in fact, he said he hopes to be there for 15 more years. The cake was from the famous Veniero’s. After deserting from the Iranian navy, Ray assumed a new identity and made his way to the East Village, where he eventually bought the candy store. He was granted amnesty under President Reagan, and — countering Trump’s negative take on immigrants — is one of the hardest-working merchants you will ever find. “Ray, you’re the coolest ocotogenarian we know,” Rosen told him, then announced, “After-party in Ray’s apartment!”

Lil Miss Lix x strutted her stuff to Tiffany’s ’80s classic “I Think We’re Alone Now.” TheVillager.com


Ray getting down with a boom box at his bir thday par ty.

Now that’s a sandwich! Ray feels the love from the dancers.

Pearls Daily rocking it on Ray’s hallowed counter top.

Matt Rosen, spor ting an ’80s-themed T-shir t, with the man of honor. Februar y 1, 2018


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



Februar y 1, 2018


Profile for Schneps Media

The Villager  

February 1, 2018

The Villager  

February 1, 2018