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March 1, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 9

New Cooper Union president is focusing on free-tuition return BY STANLEY WLODYK A


he plan is set. In accordance with the consent decree brokered by Eric Schneiderman, the New York State attorney general, The Cooper Union’s Free Education Committee, or F.E.C., in January published the plan that is intended to, in 10 years

time, get the college back to just what the committee’s name suggests: free. At the helm of this ship is Laura Sparks, who was inaugurated as the 13th president of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art last month in the instituSPARKS continued on p. 3

Yippies vs. Zippies: Rubin bio reveals ’70s counterculture feud BY MARY REINHOLZ


he late Yippie leader Jerry Rubin, a onetime West Villager who morphed into an investment banker and died in 1994 after getting struck by a car jaywalking in Westwood, California, comes back to flamboyant afterlife in Pat Thomas’s coffee-table book

biography, “Did It!” Published last year, Thomas’s book offers plenty of photographs of varied gurus and goblins of the counterculture, and sheds light on little-known internecine conflicts among the young politicized hippies who came under scrutiny by federal RUBIN continued on p. 6


It was a “dog day afternoon” under rainy skies in Chinatown Sunday at the annual Lunar New Year Parade. It’s the Year of the Dog! See Pages 12 and 13 for more photos.

L-pocalpyse No! Plan adds 200 diesel buses BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


ust call it the “Gagway.” The “busway” on the humane-sounding “PeopleWay” proposed for 14th St. during the L train shutdown would feature scores of additional buses — each and every one of them spewing a steady stream of toxic diesel-particulate pollution into the air that residents, their children, merchants, workers and even pets breathe. Heck, even trees

Trump High Line Hairline....... .p. 4

would suffer! Everyone is talking about the “L-pocalypse” in terms of its disruptive impact on subway riders. But state Senator Brad Hoylman is voicing concern over part of the M.T.A.’s mitigation plan that would be an environmental disaster for local residents — specifically, dozens of new diesel-exhaust-belching buses that would constantly be plying Downtown Manhattan’s streets. The authority is planning to

add a total of 200 buses spread across 14th St., other Downtown routes, in Brooklyn and running across the Williamsburg Bridge to help offset the transportation disruption of the planned L train shutdown next April. The repairs to the L train’s Canarsie Tunnel are anticipated to take 15 months, though many would expect it would miss that deadline, as large-scale projects typically do. DIESEL continued on p. 9

The ‘Scoop’ on why E.D. left Westbeth...............p. 2 Who can claim Jane? Residents or cyclists?....p. 15 www.TheVillager.com

FARINA FAREWELL TOUR: Outgoing schools chancellor Carmen Farina held a farewell town hall with Community School District 1 parents and teachers at Marte Valle High School on Stanton St. on Thurs., Feb. 15. Farina, who announced plans to retire in December, has been holding monthly town halls throughout the city in an effort to boost parent engagement. But the format of the event seemed less than democratic to a group of Earth School parents and teachers, who came to find out why their school, located at Avenue B and E. Fifth St., receives 87 percent of its “fair student funding,” while other schools get 100 percent or more. East Village journo Sarah Ferguson reports that, instead of taking questions directly from the audience, Farina and the members of the District 1 Community Education Council (C.E.C.) required people to submit their questions in writing — a process that enabled the chancellor to evade followups and basically not address the specifics of the Earth School’s funding directly. “We are trying to be fairer,” maintained Farina, when asked why some schools get less. She repeated the longstanding complaint that Albany underfunds New York City schools, in general, and noted that schools with a high percentage of kids in shelters or temporary housing are eligible for more funds, as are troubled schools enrolled in D.O.E.’s “Renewal” program. But that doesn’t explain the discrepancy between Earth School and a comparable school, like East Village Community School, which last year received more than 100 percent of its fair student funding. “There appears to be no rhyme or reason to it,” said Earth School Principal Abbe Futterman, who was visibly frustrated by the way Farina appeared to dodge her questions. Manhattan Borough president Gale Brewer and Assemblymember Deborah Glick attended the event but did not speak. Later in the meeting, Farina faulted progressive schools like Earth School, where a majority of parents have chosen to allow their kids to “opt out” of the state’s standardized tests, for losing out on potential state funds. “‘Opt out’ is a parent’s choice,” said Farina. “It’s not something we encourage, that is clear.” Farina noted that schools where most students opt out are not eligible for extra funding from the state’s “Rewards” program. “Actions have consequences,” she said. “In most schools, it’s a loss of at least $50,000.” After the meeting, one C.E.C. member took issue with Farina’s claim, noting that Rewards funds were limited to Title 1 schools (schools where 40 percent or more of the kids qualify for free lunch). The program, which was difficult to apply for, is being phased out this year anyway. “She was asked what to do about principals using scare tactics to prevent parents from opting out, and she used scared tactics herself as a response,” said the C.E.C. member, who asked not to be named. (Rewards funds are also not part of “fair student funding” allocations — so it still doesn’t explain why some schools get less 2

March 1, 2018


Holly Boardman’s yarn-bombed trees have been one of the few bright spots on her shop’s bleak Christopher St. block.

of those funds than others.) Farina also brushed aside concerns about potential overcrowding once families start moving into the 1,000-unit Essex Crossing development this year — not to mention the three other “megatowers” that have been proposed for the Lower East Side. A vacant lot at Suffolk St. has been designated for a new school, but there are currently no plans to build one. “We don’t want a repeat of Tribeca,” said C.E.C. board President Naomi Peña, referring to the chronic shortage of kindergarten slots Downtown that resulted from the surge of development there. Farina noted that many District 1 schools are “underutilized — so you cannot make an argument of no space.” But the schools with empty seats tend to be the underperforming ones, while there is stiff competition for spots at higher-rated public schools. The shortage of spots in “good schools” is exacerbated by the fact that District 1 has “open enrollment” — meaning families who live outside the district are allowed to apply to District 1 schools. By contrast, Community School District 2 is “closed” — only families who live in the district can apply there. Farina said schools with empty seats should focus on adding honors programs and more “project-based learning” to attract higherperforming kids.

IT’S BEEN REAL, NEIL: When George Cominskie recently stepped down as the longtime president of the Westbeth Artists Residents Council, everyone was trying to figure out why. (As Scoopy reported back in January, it may well have been because of the wellliked Cominskie’s frustration at having been denied a seat on Westbeth’s board of directors.) Now, in the latest Westbeth mystery, Steve Neil, the West Village artists residence’s executive director for the past decade, is also gone. However, Pat Jones, Westbeth’s current interim executive director, tells us there really was no intrigue involved, that Neil simply wanted to move on and try something new. “Steve informed us in January that he really felt he had accomplished a lot at Westbeth,” she said. “He closed on the Build It Back, which was $40 million in funding for Westbeth.” Neil was on vacation, kayaking out in Baja, California, when he informed Jones and the board of his decision. “He felt 10 years was a lot to be doing one job and he wanted to do something else,” she said. “He wanted to go out on a good note.” Meanwhile, Jones — who is also chairperson of Westbeth’s board of directors, though not a Westbeth resident — said she and the board now want to “expand Westbeth’s role as an arts player in New York.” The complex, at West and Bethune Sts., also

faces other issues, she noted, such as, “how do we deal with an aging population? We want to make sure that they can stay here as long as they possibly can,” she said of the affordable complex’s residents. Westbeth might possibly add a full-time social-service staffer, at some point, to help ensure elderly residents are getting all their needs met, she added. Jones related that they haven’t started a search for a new E.D. yet, but that it’s not a serious problem, because they have an interim one — her. A former journalist, Jones, who lives in the Flatiron District, has been either executive director or interim executive director of a number of organizations in the past, primarily arts ones. As for the ongoing Build It Back post-Superstorm Sandy renovations, they are set to wrap up, hopefully, by the summer of 2019. The place’s courtyard is currently being ripped open to replace corroded metal support beams. Asked if she might be in the running for the E.D. spot, Jones laughed, “I don’t know right now! I was preparing to semi-retire. I’m enjoying it right now.” Of course, it’s never easy being an executive director, and we’ve heard that some residents weren’t always totally satisfied with Neil. But Jones said, “I think it’s always difficult to run a large residential building with complicated residents and complicated needs. Whether he could have done it better, I don’t want to judge. But that’s not why he left. There may have been people that didn’t like him. He definitely was not forced out by the board or anybody else.” The board of directors of a nonprofit like Westbeth has three main duties, she explained: setting policy and direction for the nonprofit; making sure the nonprofit is fiscally sound; and hiring and firing the executive director. Jones noted that Neil was formerly a housing lawyer who was on Westbeth’s board. When the E.D. spot opened up 10 years ago, he took it. “Being the executive director is never easy,” she noted, “especially when you have 354 [residential apartment] units. Everyone’s never going to be happy; it comes with the territory.”

PARKS KNITWITS: Allegedly responding to somebody’s complaints — we don’t know who would actually complain about it! — the Parks Department recently told the owner of Musée Lingerie shop on Christopher St. that she has to take down the colorful knitted “tree sweaters” that she has put on the trees on the block between Bleecker and Hudson Sts. We always thought they were pretty cool-looking, ourselves. Bob Gormley, district manager of Community Board SCOOPY’S continued on p. 13 TheVillager.com

Cooper Union president focuses on free tuition SPARKS continued from p. 1

tion’s historic Great Hall. The ceremony included a performance by Kennedy Center honoree Carmen de Lavallade, a dancer who grand jeté’d into the hearts of Americans in the 1950 and ’60s, in spite of the prejudice against her race. The universally beloved actor John Lithgow was also present, taking a break from his one-man show on Broadway to make a speech in support of Cooper Union’s first female president. Praise for President Sparks extends beyond the mouths of the beautiful people. From security guards to students, the Cooper community as a whole seems excited by her arrival. “She understands the actual spirit and mission of Cooper. In terms of leadership, she’s the best we’ve had in a good while,” said Santiago Pidara, a senior art major who belongs to the first class that was charged tuition back in 2014. Sparks will need all the support she can get. The F.E.C. plan is ambitious by some people’s standards, aggressively idealistic by others. The consent decree requires that an independent financial monitor review the proposal. That proposal — in the form of a report — was just released, and it expresses the belief that the greatest risk to the return to free tuition is the elite East Village


Laura Sparks, The Cooper Union’s new president, in the school’s Foundation Building in Cooper Square.

educational institution’s fundraising targets: $3.2 million this year, $5 million next year, and so on and so forth until 2029, when the expectation is for $17.8 million. The plan allows for only a 5 percent deviation from these goals,

in order for the school to revert to its historically free-tuition status. Sparks is undeterred. She notes that fiscal-year-to-date fundraising is up by almost $1 million versus the same time last year. She intends to keep her focus

on asking herself and the institution about how to balance financials with long-term academic mission. Or, as she put it, “What do we need to do to make sure that we’re not only financially responsible, but that this is a resilient institution, so that we can take other kinds of risks, we can take programmatic risks, because we don’t have to be concerned that our doors are going to close?” In some ways, the financial crisis Cooper Union underwent has been a blessing in disguise. Stripped of its bragging rights as a free top-notch institution of higher learning, it has had to take a long, hard look in the mirror. The result, as Sparks discovered when she walked on campus, was an impassioned community determined to live up to the challenge that its visionary founder, the industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper, put forth. “The cost of higher education has been out of control,” she said. “My hope is that Cooper Union can lead by example in demonstrating what’s possible when we operate with financial discipline, focus our resources on the important academic things that are happening at the school, and allow our students to graduate from here with an extraordinary education and no financial burden.”

Comm’y Board 3 on board with Tech Hub-rezoning tie


he full board of Community Board 3 on Tuesday night voted in support of neighborhood zoning protections as part of the city’s approval of a a new “Tech Hub” building on E. 14th St. at the current P.C. Richard & Son site. The board’s weighing-in on the issue is the first step in the city’s review process known as ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure). The Tech Hub project must go through ULURP because, among other things, it would be larger than the site’s current zoning allows. The Tech Hub, which is being championed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, would further solidify the district around Union Square as New York City’s socalled “Silicon Alley” — an area with a high concentration of tech firms. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, local activists and residents fear the new Tech Hub would only further accelerate this trend; there are already a number of oversized new projects springing up on Broadway south of Union Square. Speaking after the vote by C.B. 3, Andrew Berman, executive director of G.V.S.H.P., said, “This sends an important message to Mayor de Blasio and deTheVillager.com

velopers that we do not want the East Village and Greenwich Village transformed into Silicon Alley or Midtown South. A Tech Hub on 14th St. which provides training and services to New Yorkers and small start-ups can be a valuable addition to our city. But it must be accompanied by zoning protections for the surrounding residential neighborhood which ensure that tech and other development doesn’t push out longtime residents and businesses, or fundamentally change the character of these neighborhoods. What we are proposing is a win-win — the Tech Hub proceeds on 14th St., and the mayor lives up to his rhetoric about preserving and promoting affordable housing by advancing this rezoning for the surrounding area that would prevent out-of-scale development and encourage affordable housing development and preservation. So far, he has adamantly refused, only supporting the zoning changes for the Tech Hub, which is to be developed by his campaign donors. We hope he will now listen.” Leading the Tech Hub project is entrepreneur and Civic Hall founder Andrew Rasiej. March 1, 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


Trump Hairline on the High Line






The High Line elevated park is known for its many distinct and beautiful sections. There’s the Meadow Walk, the Chelsea Thicket, 10th Ave. Square, the Washington Grasslands and, of course, let’s not forget the Philip A . and Maria Falcone Flyover, among others. Well, it looks like it’s time to add yet another unique area of foliage to that distinguished list: Let’s just call it…the Trump Hairline on the High Line. A local roving photographer spotted these eerily familiar-looking weeds — er, grasses — and couldn’t help but make the connection.






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March 1, 2018

POLICE BLOTTER E. ‘Molester’ T. A New York Fire Department E.M.T. turned himself in for arrest Fri., Feb. 3, at the East Village’s Public Service Area 4 (New York City Housing Authority police) stationhouse at Avenue C and E. Eighth St., accused of molesting an unconscious woman in his ambulance last summer. Michael Seebrat, 46, an eight-year veteran emergency medical technician, was charged with sexual abuse, police reported. According to court records, Seebrat and a fellow medic picked up a heavily intoxicated 24-year-old woman at The Standard hotel in the Meatpacking District last July 27. She was at a party there and hotel staff had called 911 for her to be taken to a hospital, the Daily News reported. “She threw herself into the ambulance onto the stretcher and passed out,” prosecutor Shira Arnow said at Seebrat’s arraignment, the News said. As their ambulance was transporting her to Lenox Hill Hospital, the woman reportedly came to in the East Village midway through the trip, only to find Seebrat kneeling next to her, kissing and licking her breasts and touching her, Arnow said. Seebrat was alone with the victim while his partner was in the ambulance’s cab, driving. At the emergency room, the victim told nurses what happened. A sexual-assault forensic exam kit was performed, revealing male DNA on the victim, the News reported. Under questioning by detectives, Seebrat reportedly denied molesting the woman.

“I remember her. Black bra and torn jeans,” he told police, according to court documents. “We picked her up outside the Standard. She passed out at a bachelor party. It was just a straight pickup and drop-off.” WABC News reported that police are also “concerned there could be more victims.” A judge set Seebrat’s bail at $25,000 bond. A police spokesperson said it was not immediately clear why the suspect turned himself in at the East Village stationhouse .

Perps’ parts According to police, two men were spotted at the corner of Hudson and Christopher Sts., lewdly exposing their private parts on Wed., Feb. 21, at 4:35 a.m. One of the suspects refused to provide identification, and when placed under arrest, flailed his arms and locked them together, so he could not be handcuffed. During a search, one of the suspects was found in possession of two stolen credit cards and a stolen New Jersey driver’s license. David Curbello, 31, and Rodney Brown, 24, were arrested for felony criminal possession of stolen property.

Lingerie loot A trio who went on a shoplifting spree at Victoria’s Secret, at 591 Broadway, near E. Houston St., on Tues., Feb. 20, at 4:45 p.m., stole $1,063 worth of bras, panties and slips, police said.

Jamarr Campbell, 37; Charles Trotter, 50; and Kesha Brooke, 32, were arrested for felony grand larceny.

Took liberty A man told police that while he was sleeping at the Liberty Inn, at 51 10th Ave., at W. 14th St., last March 12, at 6:30 a.m., his girlfriend removed $22 and his car keys from his pants pocket. The 33-year-old victim said his car, a red 2007 Mazda CX7 worth $15,000, was stolen. The vehicle was recovered later that day. Nyema Brown, 22, was arrested Tues., Feb. 20, for felony unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

McMuggers Police said a man was beaten inside the McDonald’s at 136 W. Third St., near Sixth Ave., and robbed on Sat., Feb. 17, at 4:05 a.m. A witness told police that after the suspects attacked the man, they fled west on W. Third St. The victim, 32, also walked off toward the W. Fourth St. subway. Police encountered the victim, whose face was bruised and swollen on its right side. After questioning, he told the cops that two unknown males had approached him and taken $100 from his pants pocket. Matthew Pritchett, 47, was arrested Sun., Feb. 18, and Roy Miller, 50, was arrested Mon., Feb. 19, for felony robbery.

Tabia C. Robinson and Lincoln Anderson 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.

March 1, 2018


Yippies vs. Zippies: New book on Rubin reveals RUBIN continued from p. 1

agents and undercover police for their opposition to the Vietnam War. The hefty tome, subtitled, “From Yippie to Yuppie: Jerry Rubin, an American Revolutionary,” recounts how a younger anarchist group known as the Zippies surfaced before the 1972 Democratic and Republican National Conventions in Miami. The Zippies engaged in fierce feuding with Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, Rubin’s morefamous fellow Yippie prankster and rival. Rubin reportedly regarded the Zippies’ founder, the late Tom Forcade — who ran the Underground Press Syndicate and started High Times magazine — as a provocateur and cop. Downtown Manhattan street musician David Peel, who died of a heart attack last year at 73, wanted to stay friends with both factions. He states on Page 150 of the book, “Tom Forcade had had an altercation with Jerry Rubin. Very ugly war between Jerry and Tom — who kept changing Yippies to ‘The Zippies.’ Abbie played along with Jerry and we had the Zippies fighting each other, they had a big breakup because it’s all about powerbrokers and it’s all perpetual jealousy.” Author Thomas, a music producer, reports that the Zippie faction believed that the Yippie leadership had grown old and had “sold out” by endorsing South Dakota Senator George McGovern for the Democratic presidential nomination against Republican incumbent Richard Nixon. Forcade also regarded Rubin and Hoffman as “burned out” after they were convicted and then acquitted as co-defendants in the notorious Chicago 7 conspiracy trial. In addition, Forcade had a beef with Abbie Hoffman because the Yippie leader refused to pay him $5,000 for work Forcade had done for Hoffman’s bestselling 1971 paperback, “Steal This Book,” according to writer Rex Weiner. Back then, Weiner was a twentysomething Zippie sympathizer and a founder of the short-lived New York Ace underground newspaper. (Disclosure: This transplanted California writer penned a few pieces for the Ace). Weiner even organized what he called a “Counterculture Court” that tried to resolve the money conflict between Hoffman and For-


March 1, 2018


The cover of Pat Thomas’s new coffee-table book on Jerr y Rubin.

cade. Weiner said last weekend that the split between the two factions involved a “larger question” in the youth culture concerning the politics of people opposed to Nixon’s regime — whether to work “within the mainstream or become more radical. We were being targeted by the F.B.I.’s COINTELPRO [surveillance] program,” he said. “No one knew anyone to trust anymore. There was a leaflet being circulated in Miami accusing Tom Forcade of being a police agent. Tom definitely wasn’t a cop.” Tensions were reportedly high when both radical groups showed up in in Miami for the two aforementioned 1972 conventions. The Yippies stayed at the Hotel Albion, a “dumpy” sort of place, while the Zippies camped out in Flamingo Park, staying in tents, recalled Dylan “garbologist” A.J. Weberman in “Did It!” Weberman, who still consid-


A Yippie button from the two major par ties’ national conventions in 1972.

ers himself a Zippie, claims in “Did It!” that Forcade and Hoffman got into “physical fights” and that Forcade, back in New York, put out a “contract” on Rubin for calling him a cop. “Rubin suggested, ‘Well, let’s have a conference in the pizza parlor on Bleecker and MacDougal,’” Weberman is quoted saying in the book. “When he got there, he sat down at this

table. And Forcade’s henchman Tim Bloom came in [and] kicked Jerry in the back, and the entire table that was anchored to the wall came loose. After that, Jerry was willing to apologize.” Author Thomas notes in “Did It!” that Rubin issued a “public apology” to Forcade and other Zippies that appeared in the Oct. 17, 1974, issue of the Village Voice with the headline: “Jerry Rubin: Yip & Karma.” Eventually, according to Weiner, the Zippies took over the Yippie name and banner and started “Yipster Times” at 9 Bleecker Sts. That address was the home for decades of the Yippie headquarters and of New York Yippie leader Dana Beal until the building was sold to a boxing gym in 2014 in forfeiture proceedings. In the last few years before it became a gym, Beal and Co. remade it into the Yippie Museum and Cafe, featuring live comedy and music performances. Aron Kay, a former East Vil-

lager known as the Yippie Pie Man, told this reporter that he became a Zippie after he arrived in New York from California in 1972, noting he traveled to Miami for the two conventions and slept in Flamingo Park. He confirmed Weberman’s account in “Did It!” and also recalled nasty infighting between the Yippies and the Zippies. “A lot of name-calling went on,” Kay said in a telephone conversation. “People were calling Tom Forcade a cop. Jerry should have known better.” Kay, now 68, said both he and Weberman had “tagged along” when Forcade’s sidekick Bloom went to the aforementioned pizza parlor — the Pizza Box — “attacked Jerry” and “put the squeeze on him” to apologize to Forcade. But Kay said he wasn’t present when Weberman went after Yippie eminence Ed Sanders, author and legendary leader of The Fugs rock band in the East Village. Weberman believed that Sanders had called him a cop on a radio show and, in retaliation, said he “trashed” Sanders’s Land Rover outside his Manhattan apartment. Weberman described the incident vividly in “Did It!” on Page 150: “Meanwhile, Ed Sanders got on the Alex Bennett Radio show and call[ed] me a cop, so we found out where he was living — and trashed his Land Rover. We put sugar in the gas tank but the f---ing sugar wouldn’t go down. We didn’t have any water so I had to piss in the gas tank to get the sugar to go down.” Speaking to this reporter, he noted, “I could have been arrested for indecent exposure.” As to why he would do such a thing, Weberman said it was a crazy time. “Crazy versus crazy,” he said. “Look what happened to Forcade [who killed himself in 1978] and Hoffman [another suicide] and Jerry, who turned himself into road kill.” Contacted by e-mail, Sanders said of Weberman: “Never called him a cop. And to my knowledge, no sugar or urine in Land Rover, which worked fine up until late 1979.” Informed of Sanders’s response, Weberman stood by his story. So did “Did It!” author Thomas, who wrote the 2012 book “Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black RUBIN continued on p. 7 TheVillager.com

’70’s counterculture feud; ‘It was crazy vs. crazy’ RUBIN continued from p. 6

Power 1965-1975.� “I believe A.J,� Thomas said. “These [Yippie] guys are very macho and they don’t want to show any vulnerability.� Thomas said some of the old-time Yips were also complaining about his choice of Rubin for the book instead of Abbie Hoffman. He said the issue arose when satirist Paul Krassner, former editor of The Realist, wrote a review of “Did It!� for the Los Angeles Times in August, and sent it to “Yippies around the country, who said they loved Abbie more. Then they started arguing among themselves.� Writer Judy Gumbo, widow of Yippie Stew Albert, who was Jerry Rubin’s best friend, said she had heard about the bickering over the book by men in their twilight years and “it turns my stomach. In the Trump era, we don’t need to be bickering among ourselves,� she said, in a conversation from her home in Berkeley. Gumbo, one of the few original female Yippies, said Rubin and Hoffman had a “Cain and Abel relationship — they loved each other dearly but were ego competitive,� she said. “It was a bromance that had a lot of conflict in it.� She doesn’t believe Rubin “sold out� to Wall Street, as some of his old cronies think he did. “It wasn’t as much of a switcheroo as some people think,� she said. “He never was a stockbroker. He was a publicist for what’s been called socially responsible investing.� Gumbo, who was a fundraiser and vice president of development for the Oregon affiliate of Planned Parenthood when she and Albert lived in Oregon, said she didn’t know about the battles between the Yippies and Zippies. But she went to Miami in 1972 with a women’s group and became aware of paranoia rampant at the Hotel Albion where she and the Yippies stayed, among them Rubin, who was decidedly nervous. Paranoia was something Gumbo also experienced while living with Albert in the Catskills in 1974. She found an F.B.I. tracking device in their house.

Spor ting press credentials for the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in Miami in 1972, from left, Jerr y Rubin, Ed Sanders and Abbie Hoffman.

On Sat., March 24, at Unoppressive Non-imperialist Bargain Books, at 34 Carmine St., from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., author Pat Thomas will be in the Village for a book-signing of “Did It! From Yippie to Yuppie: Jerry Rubin, An American Revolutionary.� Paul Krassner will be live-streamed into the shop to discuss the history of the Yippies and Thomas’s coffee-table book on Rubin. The event is free. Jim Drougas, the bookstore’s owner, reflected, “I’m a little jealous that we don’t have such a juicy book about Krassner himself or even Abbie or especially Irwin,� referring to his friend the late standup comic “Professor� Irwin Corey. “But it is a nice collection of so much interesting material.�

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For more information, please call New York University, 631-268-6931 or email aml836@nyu.edu March 1, 2018


Groans and grumbling at L plan presentation BY L AUR A HANR AHAN


ith the looming L train shutdown only a year away, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Department of Transportation have been presenting their proposed plan to alleviate the loss of the heavily used subway line to community boards around the city. Last Wednesday, the agencies presented to the Transportation Planning Committee of Community Board 4, which covers Chelsea and Clinton. The audience was mostly made up of members of the new adhoc 14th Street Coalition, a group representing Village and Chelsea block associations on and within a few blocks of 14th St. As the agency officials described the city’s plans, they were largely met with groans from the audience, punctuated by incredulous remarks, like “Oh, come on!” and “You’ve got to be kidding me!” The L train shutdown, which is set to begin in April 2019 and last 15 months, will affect the line’s 275,000 daily riders. M.T.A. and D.O.T. recently completed a study of data on straphangers that was used to run various alternative transportation scenarios for when the L will be out of service. The study focused on how traffic would be affected in the zone bounded by 12th and 16th Sts. and Avenue C and Ninth Ave. The results were the basis of the plan that M.T.A. and D.O.T. presented to the committee last Wednesday. The most notable change would be the transformation of 14th St. into an exclusive “busway” between Third Ave. on the East Side and Eighth and Ninth Aves. on the West Side. Vehicle exceptions would include Access-A-Ride vehicles, local deliveries, emergency vehicles and private cars accessing parking garages. To serve Brooklyn commuters, a new ferry shuttle from North Williamsburg to Stuyvesant Cove at E. 20th St. would run eight boats each hour. The cost would be the same as the standard M.T.A. fare and tickets will be transferable to either the bus or subway. M14 Select Bus Service would run between the East Side ferry terminal and the West Side terminus at 14th St. and 10th Ave. Currently, local bus service along the 14th St. corridor carries 30,000 passengers each day. When the L train shuts down, the number of bus riders on 14th St. is expected to nearly triple, reaching up to 84,000. With the new SBS, buses are expected to run every one to two minutes during peak times. The M.T.A. is hopeful that with these changes, end-to-end runs would last 17 minutes, a 37 percent reduction from current the travel time. The M.T.A. and D.O.T. are also anticipating as many as 5,000 new cyclists. In response, the city proposes to create a two-way, protected crosstown bike lane on the south side of 13th St. While this would not alter the street’s driving capacity, it would cut its parking space in half. According to a report released this past Friday by the M.T.A. and D.O.T., 13th St. was chosen because it “provides the longest continuous east-west connectivity” and is near subway lines along 14th St. A HOV 3+ restriction (requiring “high-occupancy vehicles,” with a driver and at least two passengers) would be placed on the Williamsburg Bridge, and only buses and trucks would be allowed during peak hours. Pedestrian traffic is expected to increase heavily during the shutdown. The M.T.A. and D.O.T. have proposed creating several new pedestrian spaces along Union Square, as well as increased bicycle parking spaces. The proposed modifications are expected to begin late this summer with the street changes. The start for


March 1, 2018


Aaron Sugiura, D.O.T. director of transit polic y and planning, explained aspects of the mitigation plan, including increased ferr y ser vice to the Stuy vesant Town area and Select Bus Service on 14th St.

David Marcus, a leading member of the new 14th St. Coalition, cut to the chase at the presentation, as he spoke of the impacts the city’s mitigation plan would have on the communit y around 14th St.

restricted traffic on 14th St. would be dependent on the launch of the M14 SBS. The M.T.A. / D.O.T. study analyzed only traffic conditions between 12th and 16th Sts. However, following the presentation, when the public was allowed to ask questions, local resident Kimon Retzos, among others, took issue with this. “It’s a joke,” Retzos said. “It’s actually insulting to the people that live in Chelsea and in the Village that you’re focusing on this little piece when you have much more vast data indicating that traffic’s going to go wherever it can.” As tension started to rise, with many members of the public feeling that the impacts of the proposed changes on their daily lives were being ignored, Christine Berthet, co-chairperson of the Transportation Planning Committee, tried to bring context to the situation. “I think we need to remember that this is a crisis,” Berthet said. “This is not business as usual. We are not planning for something that we’re going to install and it’s going to live forever. This is the result of Sandy. It’s not going to be perfect and we all know this is not something that we wanted to have.” During the discussion period, several suggestions

and recommendations were made both by committeemembers and the public. Jeffrey LeFrancois, a C.B. 4 member, suggested something that the board has advocated for in the past — West Side ferry service. “Ferries make a lot of sense on the West Side and it would have been very effective to include those as a means of mitigation and they’re not on the table,” LeFrancois said. “Those interviewed from the Rockaways said they much prefer spending an hour on the water than they do on the train. And I understand it might take a little over an hour [by ferry], to get from Williamsburg to, let’s just say, Pier 57 and 14th St.” Aaron Sugiura, D.O.T. director of transit policy and planning, said unfortunately that’s just not a possibility. “The issue with that is that we’re maxing out [ferry] capacity on the Williamsburg side,” he said. With parts of 14th St. often being affected by construction projects, Dale Corvino, another committee member, inquired about the status of building projects along the 14th St. corridor during the shutdown. “Have you guys done any coordination with D.O.T., as far as will there be sidewalk sheds in place once the shutdown happens, or is there a timeline for sheds to go away?” he said. Jonathan “Yoni” Bokser, the committee’s co-chairperson, furthered this idea by suggesting a lifting of the holiday embargo for this coming season. “I know D.O.B. doesn’t usually issue permits from Thanksgiving to Christmas,” he said. “Have you talked about using that in 2018 instead of 14th St. having construction during the L train shutdown? Sugiura indicated that while D.O.T. has no formal plans to address construction issues on the street and has not looked into lifting the holiday embargo, it is something they would consider. “At the highest level, D.O.T. and M.T.A., we do not want to see this construction happening during the shutdown,” Sugiura said. “The city does not grind to a halt for the L train, unfortunately, though.” When asked on Monday whether D.O.T. would take the various recommendations made at the C.B. 4 meeting into consideration, an agency spokesperson responded, “D.O.T. and M.T.A. will continue our ongoing work in engaging, reviewing and evaluating the mitigation plans prior to, during and after the L train shutdown.” TheVillager.com

L-pocalypse No! Plan to add 200 diesel buses DIESEL continued from p. 1

Hoylman earlier this month wrote a letter to Andy Byford, the new president of New York City Transit, urging an “expedited trial period” for electric buses so that they could “fill service gaps during the impending L train shutdown on 14th St.” Hoylman also initially wrote to N.Y.C. Transit last May to express his disappointment that the M.T.A., N.Y.C. Transit’s state-run parent agency, had allocated $366,495,966 to purchase more than 600 buses — all but 10 of which were dieselpowered — and, furthermore, that all 200 buses earmarked to mitigate the L train shutdown would be diesel-powered. Hoylman noted that major forwardthinking cities like London, Los Angeles, Seattle and Philadelphia “are all making larger and more timely investments in electric buses.” He also pointed out that a report commissioned by N.Y.C. Transit endorsed a pilot program of at least one year “to gain an understanding of electric bus operations, as well as the impacts of seasonality specifically on battery operation.” Given that N.Y.C. Transit has the larg-

est bus fleet in North America, the wellestablished, long-term health and cost benefits of electric buses, and the fact that the agency is adding buses to compensate for the loss of L train service in 2019, Hoylman argues that the agency can and should do more to bring electric buses online “in a responsible but timely fashion.” “While I am pleased the M.T.A. recently announced an electric bus pilot program of up to 70 buses and 110 compressed natural gas buses, it is extremely unfortunate that delays caused by a trial period mean none of these buses will be used on 14th St.,” Hoylman wrote Byford on Feb. 9. “New York will miss a major opportunity to deploy cleaner bus technology during the 15-month Canarsie Tunnel closure. “New York must speed up the transition to electric buses,” Hoylman stressed to the new Transit chief. “I urge you to reconsider your agency’s investment in diesel buses and expedite the trial period for electric buses to allow their use on 14th St. during the L train shutdown.” According to a Hoylman spokesperson, the Transit chief had not responded to the state senator’s latest letter as of press time.

Ferries would offer free transfers during L outage BY JULIANNE CUBA


t’s a-boat time! Straphangers who board the fleet of ferries that would be dedicated to shuttling them across the East River from Williamsburg when the L train shuts down next year will get a free transfer to buses waiting for them on the Manhattan side, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Every $2.75 ticket for the Brooklyn– Manhattan water taxis, which would depart from the same port as the North Williamsburg stop on the New York City ferry service, would award passengers free admission on two Select Bus Service routes once they arrive on dry land at Stuyvesant Cove near E. 20th St. — unlike tickets for the citywide ferry system, which do not allow free transfers from M.T.A. subways and buses. Riders would be able to purchase tickets for the boats at S.B.S. machines stationed at their piers on each side of the river. The ferries would set sail Sunday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to midnight and Friday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. once the L train’s Canarsie Tunnel under the East River closes in April 2019, officials from the M.T.A. — which would oversee the new ferry service — said at a meeting of Brooklyn’s Community Board 1 on Feb. 13. Under the proposed plan, during peak commuting times, as many as eight of the TheVillager.com

ferries would carry up to 1,200 passengers in each direction per hour, according to the authority, which is working with the city’s Department of Transportation and Parks Department to finalize the scheme’s details. Brooklyn straphangers would also still be able to sail to Manhattan on the citywide ferry service, which embarks from various points along the Brooklyn shoreline. The announcement of the dedicated Williamsburg–Manhattan boats followed the release of other alternative transportation proposals that the city is envisioning to put in place during the socalled “L-pocolypse.” These measures include boosting service on the G, J, M and Z subway lines; adding extra subway cars to elongate G and C trains; creating a special high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lane across the Williamsburg Bridge reserved for cars carrying a driver and at least two passengers during a to-bedetermined “rush hour” window; adding a two-way crosstown protected bike lane on 13th St.; and adding new bus routes that would shuttle straphangers from the Manhattan side of the Williamsburg Bridge to crosstown buses on 14th St. and subway hubs like the BroadwayLafayette St. station, which has the 6, D, F, B and M lines, plus the 4 train late at night, or the Prince St. stop, which has the R line, and depending on the day and time, the W, N and Q lines.

State Senator Brad Hoylman wants N.Y.C. Transit to use electric buses on 14th St. and other Downtown routes to mitigate the transit disruptions during the L shutdown. But the agency says the entire fleet of new buses earmarked for Downtown during the L shutdown would be dieselpowered.

The Very Rev. Tracey Lind

A Talk by The Very Rev. Tracey Lind Followed by an opportunity for conversaon Join us at Church of the Ascension on March 15 as The Very Rev. Tracey Lind shares the spiritual insights and lessons she has gained from a life complicated by her diagnosis of Frontaltemporal Demena in November 2016. For 17 years (2000-2017), Tracey served as Dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio, a thriving and diverse urban congregaon, a center for arts and music, and a gathering place for those devoted to Cleveland and its future. During her tenure, Dean Lind also led the establishment of Greater Cleveland Congregaons and a number of other faith-based and civic iniaves. She also is the author of Interrupted by God: Glimpses from the Edge. For more informaon, visit www.ascensionnyc.org or call Ascension’s parish oce at 212-254-8620. For more informaon about the Very

Thursday, March 15; 7:30 pm Church of the Ascension, 5th Ave & 10th Street March 1, 2018


Pontoon bridge floated as ‘L-ternative’ solution BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


t…could…work!” a wild-eyed Gene Wilder shouted in “Young Frankenstein.” He was talking about The Monster, of course. Parker Shinn has a project that he is wild about and thinks could work, too — however, it would be a way to alleviate the “monster” of a transit scramble that a shutdown of the L train could cause. In short, Shinn, 31, a former modelturned-San Francisco real estate executive who once lived near New York’s Union Square, is proposing building a pontoon bridge between N. Eighth St. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and E. 10th St. in the East Village. Basically, Shinn is skeptical that the city’s plan to have the Williamsburg bridge and a beefed-up fleet of ferries pick up the slack in the L train’s absence would work. The Williamsburg Bridge would have lanes devoted to buses and high-occupancy vehicles. “I question whether they’re going to be able to accommodate an additional 225,000 people each day,” Shinn said in a phone interview last week. “It’s going to cause a lot of problems.” Essentially, as he put it, the existing connections between the two boroughs “are sort of tapped out.” Enter Shinn’s vision for what he has dubbed the “L-Ternative Bridge,” which he is approaching with the monomaniacal focus of Alec Guinness in “The Bridge on the River Kwai.” He recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise an initial $50,000 to get things rolling, but as of last week had only raised about $10,000. “This has happened extremely fast,” he said. “We’re exploring it…looking at putting out bids. I’ve spoken to a couple of companies to get estimates. I’ve bounced it off naval engineers and architects. … I think this bridge could take all the people that take the L.” As for the pontoon bridge’s feasibility, he noted there was one built in Africa 10 years ago by a European consortium that was twice as long and cost $38 million. However, Shinn was recently quoted saying this East River project could cost well more than twice that amount. In this case, the cost of the floating bridge would be covered by a $1 toll, he said, though, initially, at least, it could be publicly financed. Most ferries and other small boats would be able to pass under a raised portion of the bridge, while there would be a drawbridge to let larger ships through. The structure across the 3,000-footlong stretch of river would only be temporary, and would be disassembled after the L train’s 15-month shutdown. Shinn said he first pondered the possibility of the pontoon bridge eight months ago, but only started concentrating on it


March 1, 2018


The L-Ternative Bridge would feature four lanes — t wo for buses and t wo for pedestrians and bic ycles.

in earnest more recently. The bridge would float on “barges,” which would basically be large hollow metal squares, and be secured by heavy chains extending off to the sides attached to Delta anchors on the river bottom. It would have four lanes, two going each direction. The inner lanes would be for buses, while the outer ones would be for pedestrians and cyclists. The buses would be on the inside lanes, to keep the bridge from tilting or flipping. “You have to keep the weight centered,” he explained. He said he’s aware that the project would need Coast Guard approval, among other permits. He obviously doesn’t have any of those yet. “This is all happening extremely fast,” he reiterated. “The first step was try to get this in the public eye.” He said he has not contacted anyone at City Hall about the plan yet, either. However, he was pumped to get a glowing endorsement from Fred Wilson, of Union Square Ventures, one of the biggest venture capitalists, who last Friday promoted Shinn’s pontoon plan on his blog, AVC.com. New York City’s tech industry is based around Union Square, so it’s no surprise that the L shutdown is a major issue for that set. “So this is a big deal for NYC, and a big deal for NYC tech companies,” Wilson blogged regarding the L shutdown. “In an informal and unscientific poll I took this week of NYC tech company CEOs, about 20-25% of the employees of NYC tech companies in Manhattan take the L train to work. “So how are these people going to commute for those 15 months (which is almost certainly going to take longer than 15 months)? “The best answer I have heard from the NYC government is ‘more buses going over the Williamsburg Bridge.’ Which is an option but not a fantastic option. The Williamsburg Bridge is already a crowded transportation mode

during the morning and evening rush hours and more buses means something is going to have to give. “My dad was an Army Corp of Engineers officer his entire career and retired a brigadier general,” Wilson noted. “He knows a lot about pontoon bridges. So I asked him if this idea is viable. He said: “Fred, Having built several pontoon bridges, including some designed for 60ton tanks, I know the idea is feasible. (One of my bridges was across the Rhine River. That was done for the first time by Julius Caesar.) Drawbacks: they are expensive, have low speed limits, and require constant maintenance. Still, if the permanent solution in that location can’t handle traffic for some time, this could be a temporary replacement. Interesting idea. Thanks for sharing it .” Wrote Wilson, “That’s all I need to know that this will work. My dad knows his stuff when it comes to pontoon bridges.” The uber-investor urged his followers to contribute to Shinn’s Kickstarter campaign, “if you want to see this idea get some traction.” As for the speed on his bridge, Shinn said traffic would move at around 30 miles per hour and cross the span in about a minute and a half. Shinn’s father was an engineer, too, and Shinn, who is originally from San Diego, noted that he “grew up on boats,” so this whole project interests him deeply. “I’ve always loved designing and building things,” he said. “New York City is my favorite city in the world. I was thinking about all the people and businesses that would be affected by this. The more I thought about this, I said, ‘This could really work.’ My hope is that it would help a lot of people. … I think this absolutely is going to be feasible.” Asked what other projects he has designed, he did not offer any, shrugging that was “getting into the weeds.” In searching online for a head shot of

Shinn, The Villager discovered that, in fact, he is a former male model. Among his modeling gigs, 12 years ago, hyped as a sexy “yachtsman from San Diego,” he was featured in underwear ads for Calvin Klein. At any rate, Shinn said he used to live on Third Ave. at 14th St. and work in Midtown, and would take the L to Union Square on rainy or snowy days to transfer to an Uptown train, so is familiar with how crowded the L can be. “Your face would be in someone’s armpit,” he recalled. Again, it’s hard for him to imagine the city’s mitigation plans would be able to accommodate all of those displaced straphangers. Regarding the impact on the pontoon bridge’s Manhattan side, it would funnel the buses onto Avenue C, where they could then connect to 14th St. The bridge’s last leg would span the F.D.R. Drive, again, using the metal-box “barges” as supports. A huge issue for Manhattan residents living on or around 14th St. is how the city’s interim plan for the subway’s cessation would affect them, in terms of increased traffic on side streets, among other things. But Shinn said, “the city already has a plan for that,” so that’s not his focus of concern. “I’m going to leave that to the M.T.A.,” he said. Conceivably, though, the pontoon bridge could lessen the burden on Soho and Little Italy during the L shutdown: The city plans to add a squadron of extra bus shuttles looping from the Williamsburg Bridge to 14th St. and other local transit hubs, which currently has residents of those areas panicking about the impact, since the buses would be streaming through their neighborhoods. For more information on the pontoon bridge proposal, visit www.kickstarter. com/projects/lternativebridge/l-ternative-bridge TheVillager.com



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March 1, 2018


Wag the dog: Over the moon for the new year;

Amid rainy weather, revelers ushered in the Year of the Dog Sunday at the annual Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown. Dogs are known for their unmatched loyalty and friendship, so this year could usher in a time of collective dialogue and understanding, according to the Chinese horoscope, some say. No question, our world could use it. The flag of the People’s Republic of China — mainland China — was on proud display.


March 1, 2018


A ‘tail’ of a Chinatown parade and celebration

Scoopy’s Notebook SCOOPY’S continued from p. 2

2, announced the news at last Thursday’s board meeting, though it wasn’t exactly clear what Parks’ issue with the tree wraps was. A few days later, however, the New York Post reported that


Parks feels the knitted coverings can “trap moisture that, with prolonged exposure, can harm the trees’ bark, allowing fungus and parasites to grow and forcing it to leak sap.” Seriously, there is nothing wrong with those trees! The knit’s weave looks very breathable, in

our nonexpert opinion. Holly Boardman, the lingerie shop’s proprietor, had the idea of “yarn bombing” the foliage to bring a bit of cheer to the currently gloomy street, which features a slew of empty storefronts. Gormley said Boardman has agreed to strip the festive

fabric from the trees. But other local merchants were behind her all the way, saying the decoration brings foot traffic to the block, the Post reported. And the city honestly claims it’s trying to help small businesses survive! C’mon!

March 1, 2018



Tech-tock T

he clock is ticking on the ULURP review for the Tech Hub. The city’s plan to plan to build a “Tech Hub” tower at the current P.C. Richard & Son retail site, on E. 14th St. between Third and Fourth Aves., coupled with the community’s demand for a rezoning to protect the neighborhood from a wave of similar developments is one of the biggest challenges facing new Councilmember Carlina Rivera, who is now entering just her third month in office. The city recently certified the Tech Hub plan — kicking off the city’s ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) — but without any mention of the rezoning. We’re told the ULURP could be decided as soon as June or July. The loudest voice advocating for linking the two issues is the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. The society has been adamant that for the City Council to grant the needed approvals for the Tech Hub project, it must be agreed to rezone and / or landmark the area between Union Square and Astor Place, roughly between Broadway and University Place. Both Community Boards 2 and 3 are on record strongly supporting the rezoning. G.V.S.H.P. also wants to close a loophole allowing new large hotels and office buildings on Third and Fourth Aves., just east of the rezoning area. In short, there’s been an established tech presence in the Union Square area for sometime now. More recently, IBM moved into the new building at 51 Astor Place a.k.a. the “Death Star,” at Fourth Ave. and Astor Place. Now, the blocks in between these two points are increasingly filling up with tech businesses, and pressure is mounting to construct bigger, flashier, newer buildings to accommodate them. This is not some vague, alarmist notion. In fact, the area south of Union Square is now been branded by realtors as part of the “Midtown South” commercial district. Right now, at least four new large development projects or vertical additions are in the works along Broadway alone. G.V.S.H.P. first pushed a rezoning for this area a couple of years ago as developer Billy Macklowe was already demolishing the Bowlmor Lanes building on University Place, but the city rejected the proposal. However, the Tech Hub needs City Council approval because, among other things, it would be larger than current zoning allows. That’s leverage that can be used to protect this core Village area. Rivera’s predecessor, Rosie Mendez — who was term-limited at the end of last year — was clear in her language: “No Tech Hub without a rezoning.” Rivera’s statements on the Tech Hub seemingly have been a bit more nuanced. First, and to her credit, she is a big supporter of the idea of the Tech Hub sporting a “workforce center” / “digital-skills training center” that would benefit her Council District 2 constituents. The city has pledged the Tech Hub would include this type of facility, while the rest of the building would be commercial office space, presumably mainly for tech startups and the like. As Rivera has stressed, she wants to ensure that the youth she sees walking on Avenues C and D and on the Lower East Side “are in that building,” where they could build bright futures. She also hopes the workforce center would be a place where young

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR L mitigation is the ‘crisis’ To The Editor: Re “Lawsuit could delay ‘L shutdown express’ ” (news article, Feb. 22): I care about the massive traffic jam, with auto exhaust pouring into my windows, that the Department of Transportation plan will cause. Folks on 13th and 15th Sts. feel the same way. I have two young children whose windows face 12th St., and who will have to breathe in extra auto exhaust. Those who want to shut down 14th St. have some utopian dream about making New York City into a bikers paradise. Get rid of the cars first, don’t just move them to residential streets! The “PeopleWay” commenters and Transportation Alternatives are just making up numbers, and then multiplying them, so that, when they get through, 14th St. will be the busiest street in all of Manhattan! The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says that 50,000 people using the L train in Manhattan would be displaced by the shutdown. But there are only four L train stops in Manhattan: First Ave., Union Square and Sixth and Eighth Aves. With the L train shut down, no commuter who lives near Sixth Ave. will take a bus to Union Square or Eighth Ave. It is a two-block walk, which will take less time than any bus. We are talking about people who get on at Eighth Ave. and 14th St. and go to Union Square, and people who get on at First Ave. and go to Union Square, Sixth Ave. or Eighth Ave. Those who do use the L train that way also know that there are lots of alternatives. For example, the Seventh Ave. subways (Nos. 2 and 3 lines) and the Lexington Ave. subways (Nos. 4 and 5 lines) meet at Fulton St. in Manhattan and Borough Hall in Brooklyn. Uptown, they are connected across 42nd St. by the subway Shuttle. The F train, which goes up Sixth Ave., swings east as it goes Uptown, as does the E on Eighth Ave. Smart commuters will use these alternatives, and most probably do. Once people coming from Brooklyn are eliminated (and I doubt the ferry, with delays and long lines, will be very popular with people in a hurry to get to work), there is no reason to believe that there will be an “L train crisis.” I remember when 9/11 occurred that the 1, 2 and 3 trains were shut for an extended time, and, lo and behold, we crafty subway commuters figured out new routes that got us to work or school. The process we will call for in our lawsuit is an open, public process, with open proposals of alternatives, true public hearings, publicly challengeable data (remember how the exposure of masked data on striped bass stopped Westway?), verifiable pollution


readings, and then a thorough, open, public presentation of alternatives and why the one chosen is best. As I stated in the article, banning parking during rush hour on the right-hand lanes, and having free busses during that period . Also, what data shows the need for a two-way bike lane on 13th St., when we have well-functioning, and not heavily used, bike lanes on 10th St. and Ninth St., not very far away? Outsiders who are commenting should know that it is rare that our community is united like it is now — and that unity, and that anger, should suggest that something is very, very wrong. Arthur Schwartz Schwartz is Democratic district leader, 66th Assembly District, Part A

We’ll be beset by buses To The Editor: Re “Lawsuit could delay ‘L shutdown express’ ” (news article, Feb. 22): I wish they would also do a study of the impact on Kenmare, Cleveland and Lafayette Sts. The intention is to have about 60 busses an hour travel that route, coming over the Williamsburg Bridge, with stops at Spring St. and Houston St. to unload people at subways in Soho, Little Italy and Noho. There will be more busses in this area than on 14th St. This is already a highly congested area, and has been ignored in the discussions. Lora Tenenbaum

Need safer bicycle lanes To The Editor: Re “Lawsuit could delay ‘L shutdown express’ ” (news article, Feb. 22): As someone who lives in the community with his family, I support, embrace and will use a protected bike lane on 13th St. as a way to go from my home on E. 11th St. to any Downtown destination west of Fifth Ave. When I need to take the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Ave. subway lines, I take the L train from First Ave. and then transfer to go to Penn Station, the Upper West Side or any other destination in that part of the city. The existing bike lanes on Ninth and 10th Sts. are unprotected. Riding with children using a cargo bike LETTERS continued on p. 14

EDITORIAL continued on p. 16


March 1, 2018


Who can claim Jane? Residents or bike riders?



t appears my prior talking point in this newspaper (“What would Jane do? Show the L shutdown study!” Feb. 15) spawned a rush by our opposition to claim Jane Jacobs’s legacy as their own. Clearly, I stuck a nerve and the response was a perversion of my points. When I wrote “What would Jane do?” for The Villager, I expected it would draw both praise and fire. What I never expected from the fire, however, was the animus, vitriol and personal attack of the opposition — not to mention the misrepresentation of the facts and the distortion of our concerns. Not only are the 14th St. plan supporters spreading untruths in sarcastic and disrespectful rhetoric, they do not understand or care about civility in voicing their opposing views. They are rude and insulting and belittle and mock all they oppose. They care about nothing but their agenda. Meanwhile, they disparage the neighborhood residents who are only asking for the continued right to the quiet enjoyment of their communities and streets and to be able to present cogent reasons why they believe the Department of Transportation plan is flawed. To them and their Transportation Alternative organizers and enablers, it always boils down to the accusation of entitlement and wealth in their resentment of opposing views. NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) is a favorite go-to, as well. They are, nevertheless, a formidable, well-financed foe that needs to be swatted down and discredited for the self-centered, spoiled, one-issue, bicycle zealots that they are. They spread disinformation, not unlike Russian trolls, and twist the issues not unlike the NRA lashing out at the victims who are merely asking to have sensible rules in place. Jane Jacobs focused on preserving urban neighborhoods and passionately defended the quirks of city life. Her vision was inspired by her life in Greenwich Village; ironically, the same neighborhood battleground we are fighting to preserve now. She was moved by the sense of community and the neighborhood’s mixture of townhouses, walk-up apartment buildings and narrow streets. She fought against the plans to modernize urban areas by tearing down established neighborhoods and studied what makes a neighborhood vital. She reveled in her observation of the everyday neighborhood life in the community. In the end, she successfully prevented the destruction of the Village streetscapes. Jane’s fight was against an ill-conceived highway that required the wholesale leveling of neighborhoods and communities. It was not a fight about banning cars but rather preserving neighborhoods, quality of life and the right of quiet enjoyment of our homes and businesses. The closing of 14th St. to cars will cause already-overburdened very narrow Village, Chelsea and Flatiron side streets to become that much more congested. A two-way protected bikeway on 13th St. will only exacerbate that. The obvious and indisputable disruption to the fabric and quality of life in our neighborhoods cannot be ignored in favor of a questionable 14th St. plan that is flawed in its assumptions and fails to study the impact to our streets. A visual look at traffic flow will discredit any computer model that pretends to predict impact. Transportation Alternatives argues that bicycles are more efficient and should displace cars on the very TheVillager.com


Legendar y urban planner and communit y activist Jane Jacobs held up a petition in 1961 at the Lion’s Head bar in the Village. Jacobs was not afraid to fight large-scale neighborhood plans that the government por trayed as already being a fait accompli.

streets that were built to accommodate horse-drawn, large-capacity coaches and wagons and more recently automobiles and trucks. Consider the absurdity of the premise that streets built for four-wheel vehicles should now favor bicycles.

The bike zealots spread disinformation, not unlike Russian trolls, and twist the issues.

Transportation Alternatives and its minions portray this as a fight about cars over bikes, using the shutdown of the Canarsie Tunnel and L Train service suspension as cover. They have been working for years, well before Superstorm Sandy and the damage it wrought, to argue for the restriction of cars in order to accommodate bikes. The 14th St. plan and 13th St. bikeway now give them the means to attempt to accomplish that. We in the community have not disparaged bikes, nor are we promoting the use of cars. We are fighting for a plan that preserves the continued sanctity of the quality of life and enjoyment of our neighborhoods — something Jane Jacobs dedicated her life to. And to portray this as a right to parking spaces, the ignorance of that argument speaks volumes. It was the residents of 13th St. that petitioned D.O.T. to restrict parking on our street to alleviate the congestion. D.O.T.’s plan to close 14th St. — thereby causing

traffic to spill over onto the side streets — along with the two-way bikeway, contradicts the very position they agreed with us on and acted upon not too many years ago when they restricted parking. We continue to maintain that, absent the L train, commuters will find alternate routes into Manhattan — none of which bring them to 14th St. The claim that all of these L train riders must be moved off 14th St. is flawed on its face. D.O.T.’s assertion that there are 50,000 commuters using the L train to travel east and west on 14th St. who need alternate transportation is based on sketchy data. D.O.T. claims to be able to quantify that from MetroCard swipes despite the fact that swipes do not indicate which train you board and what your destination is. Are we to blindly accept M.T.A. data assertions justifying their plan, given that just within the last week, Andy Byford, the new president of New York City Transit, admitted that M.T.A. data-reporting methods concerning the reasons for subway overcrowding classification were “not particularly meaningful”? Byford’s comments come on the heels of a New York Times report in December that found that M.T.A. officials “have used sloppy data collection and accounting games to hide the true causes of the subway’s problems from residents.” And yet supporters of the plan offer blind acceptance without ever vetting the premises upon which this scheme was based. As I previously said, the population of this neighborhood area of Manhattan well exceeds the commuter population that D.O.T. says it must transport, and yet we will suffer 24 / 7, as opposed to the morning and evening commutes of those nonlocal commuters. Surely, our detractors must agree that our needs must be thoughtfully considered since this neighborhood is our home. Marcus is an executive board member, W. 13th St. 100 Block Association, and treasurer and vice president for finance, Cambridge Owners Corp. March 1, 2018


Ninth top cop talks on security with clergy BY LESLEY SUSSMAN


ust a week after an uplifting Sacred Sounds Concert at Middle Collegiate Church on Second Ave. that emphasized unity and prayer, local East Village faith leaders met in the more grim confines of the Ninth Precinct, where they heard Deputy Inspector Vincent Greany, the precinct’s commanding officer, address ways of improving security in local houses of worship against the possibility of terrorist attack. The interfaith meeting, which is held annually, was attended by a dozen clergy members. “It’s unfortunate to have to hold a meeting to discuss the physical security of houses of worship and protect them from violence,” Greany said. “We hope to God this never happens here. But it’s a reality that there are attacks at places of worship not only in our country but all around the world. We need to reduce the fear of attack when people go to pray.” The commander asked each of the clerics that attended the meeting what security precautions they currently had in place at their houses of worship, and encouraged them to step up security measures. “Do you have ushers or someone at the front door who know the regular parishioners and can engage newcomers to your churches in conversation and learn a little bit about them and can get that feel for them?” Greany asked them. “Are they here to worship or do something very bad? Do you have security cameras? These types of physical security should always be in your hearts. We need to be prepared.” The deputy inspector also offered to send over the precinct’s crime prevention officers or even counterterrorism officers to any house of worship that needs guidance and advice on how to improve its security


Deput y Inspector Vincent Greany, back row, third from right, led the meeting with interfaith leaders.

procedures. “We can sometimes even come out and do on-site physical surveys, if that’s what you need,” he added. Asked what he was doing to try and build goodwill with the local Muslim community and avoid the possibility of extremist Islamic violence against local houses of worship, Greany said that relations between the police and the largest East Village mosque — the Madina Masjid Islamic Council of America, at E. 11th St. and First Ave. — was “excellent.” “I go there frequently and know the imam personally,” he said. “I have strong ties with him. They even participated in a recent antiviolence walk that we


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sponsored.” Speaking to this reporter before the meeting, Greany said, “There are no problems of violence so far toward churches, synagogues, temples or mosques anywhere in our community. It’s a peaceful place for all houses of worship.” At the hour-long meeting, the C.O. also outlined various community-oriented programs that his precinct was involved in, from sponsoring youth groups and programs for kids to dealing with incidents of domestic violence. “We regularly hold meetings to make you aware of our resources,” Greany said. Clergy at the meeting all seemed satisfied with the efforts Greany was making to try and improve East Village life. Reverend Sean McGillicuddy, pastor at Church of the Most Holy Redeemer, at 173 E. Third St., said, “It was a good idea for you to hold this meeting and give us tips on how to improve our security.” His approval was echoed by Reverend Rafael Kandora, a pastor at St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr Roman Catholic Church, at 101 E. Seventh St. “You are doing a very good job,” he said. “We would like someone to come over and give our ushers advice on how to improve security, but they only speak Polish. Can you find someone to do so who speaks Polish?” Detective Jaime Hernandez from the precinct’s Community Affairs department told him that a Polish-speaking security expert would soon be in contact with him. Greany said these meetings have been so popular that clergy are encouraging him to hold them more than once annually, something he is now considering.

Clock ticking on ULURP EDITORIAL continued from p. 14

women, in particular, would be encouraged to learn coding and similar skills in this currently male-dominated industry. Absolutely, the city must be held to its commitment to create a thriving workforce center. But a ripple effect of megadevelopment must also be blocked. At a recent meet-and-greet co-sponsored by G.V.S.H.P. and the Third St. Music School, Rivera described the Tech Hub approval and the hoped-for rezoning process as moving along “parallel tracks.” That’s a little different than saying the two are inextricably linked. Similarly, in two recent interviews with The Villager, when queried on the rezoning, Rivera chose her words carefully, saying she did not feel it would come to an allor-nothing showdown. But G.V.S.H.P.’s director, Andrew Berman, says they are confident Rivera is on it, and that, in the end, the main thing is not the means one employs, but achieving the desired results. Also, perhaps Rivera is intentionally taking a less confrontational approach with City Hall. So far, Rivera has stressed that she is going to try to get more affordable housing built in the area, plus fight to “protect” the area’s “character.” But the “R” word, “rezoning” — actually saying it,

and advocating for it — is critical. She also has said she would like to see New York University develop elsewhere — in other neighborhoods that could use a boost. Yet, a prod like rezoning is needed to push N.Y.U. and other developers to build their projects other places. Clarifying her position, Rivera recently sent us this statement: “As we continue our conversations and negotiations with all stakeholders to ensure that we receive real public benefits for the Tech Hub, I am also fighting — as I have since my first day in office — to bring the necessary zoning protections that reflect the residential character of these neighborhoods and incentivize the right kind of development. I have always stood up to hyperdevelopment, seeing my home district change dramatically over the years. And I will always prioritize the preservation and expansion of our affordable housing stock that keeps our communities diverse, balanced and reflective of their history.” That sounds good to us. Getting the rezoning, no doubt, would be a heavy lift, especially for a brand-new councilmember, but it’s essential for preserving what’s left of this community. And there’s no time to waste: The ULURP clock is ticking. TheVillager.com

Photo by Julieta Cervantes

L to R: Caleb Eberhardt, Nehassaiu deGannes, and Anthony Cason in “Is God Is.”

Daring, defiant — and code-compliant! Soho Rep returns to Walker Street BY TRAV S.D. Well, that was a close one! Sixteen months ago New York theatergoers got the terrible news that one of Downtown’s oldest and most beloved arts institutions, Soho Rep, was having to vacate its Walker St. space because of decades-old code violations of which the staff had long been unaware. Now, just as suddenly, a little over a year later, the company is back in its old home with a hit play (Aleshea Harris’ “Is God Is”) on the boards. What happened? “During the process of renegotiating our lease for a relatively short extension,” said Soho Rep’s Executive Director Cynthia Flowers, “we became aware that the original folks who TheVillager.com

secured the space over 25 years ago neglected to file to be functioning as we were, as a theater. When we looked at what we needed to do in terms of implementing the necessary changes, we saw that there was no way we could afford it financially, and we decided we couldn’t be operating in the space, even though no one was filing a complaint.” Announcements quickly went out, and news of the venue’s closure was widely reported in the New York Times and elsewhere. And for the next several months, Soho Rep operated itinerantly, presenting their work at such alternate locations as the Connelly Theater, the Public Theater, and the Mezzanine Theatre at the A.R.T./New York

Theatres. To outward appearances, the caliber of their work did not suffer. The most recent production presented under these conditions was Richard Maxwell’s “Samara,” with original music by Steve Earle. But even as this was happening, the pieces were being put in place that would allow Soho Rep to turn around and come back to their longtime home. “Soon after the [Sept. 28, 2016] Times piece came out, we got a call from Julie Menin, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment,” said Soho Rep’s Artistic Director Sarah Benson. “She’d been a friend to Soho Rep for a long time, and she reached

out and said, ‘What can I do? This is crazy, you guys are important!’ Julie was the catalyst for us to even think it was thinkable to return to our space. She put us in touch with people at the Department of Buildings, who responded and worked with us, and made it a priority to help us get back in.” “Thanks to Julie we first got some hope in October, but we didn’t actually know it would be feasible until February,” added Flowers. According to Flowers, starting in October the company’s leadership put together a “general punch list” of all the things that needed to be accomSOHO REP continued on p. 18 March 1, 2018


Photo by Julieta Cervantes

L to R: Alfie Fuller and Teagle F. Bougere in “Is God Is.”

Photo by Sam Horvath

Up to code and up for anything: Soho Rep, home again at 46 Walker St. SOHO REP continued from p. 17

plished in order to reoccupy the space, in terms of renovation and construction. From there, the staff reached out to the board and other stakeholders, and launched a fundraising campaign in April. Renovation work began by the summer. “It was a long process,” said Flowers. “Five city agencies had to sign off on each step. And we were still producing theatre at the same time.” Benson points out that the renovations have “also been an opportunity to improve space for audiences.” Not only has the theater been made code-compliant and safer, but the lobby has been


March 1, 2018

freshened up aesthetically, with gallery walls that currently showcase work from the company’s 43-year history. Founded in 1975, Soho Rep presented work in numerous locations before moving into its permanent space on Walker Street in 1991. Kathleen Turner, Ed O’Neill, Allison Janney, John C. Reilly, Kevin Spacey, Steve Buscemi, Jonathan Frakes, Will Patton, and Tim Blake Nelson all acted there early in their careers, and the company has premiered work by María Irene Fornés. Sarah Kane, Young Jean Lee, Richard Maxwell, Annie Baker, Nature Theatre of Oklahoma, Thomas Bradshaw, Cynthia Hopkins, and Anne Washburn. The current production “Is God Is,”

Photo by Sam Horvath

Soho Rep’s lobby showcases work from the company’s 43-year history.

written by Aleshea Harris and directed by Taibi Magar, continues the company’s cutting-edge tradition. The play is a sort of stew of elements from Greek Tragedy and similar myths, Afro-Punk, and bloody revenge scenarios from Italian cinema and Quentin Tarantino. On top of its explosive and downright dazzling script, and its winning cast, the production’s playful scenography by Adam Rigg, with set pieces that slide and move and flip and otherwise generally keep us on our toes, is also within Soho Rep’s tradition of making the absolute most out of its intimate, not to say tiny, black box facility. The artistic product is clearly none the worse for wear on account of their ordeal, even as

the space itself has improved. “We’re so happy to be back, said Benson, “and it’s been a very inspiring process, seeing how the Soho Rep community came together so that we could keep having this space as our home. It’s been an amazing thing to go through — if a little bit crazy.” “Is God Is” plays through March 25: Tues.-Sun. at 7:30pm, Sat. at 3pm. Then, through March 31: Tues.-Sat. at 7:30pm, Sat. at 3pm. At Soho Rep (46 Walker St., btw. Broadway & Church St.). Visit sohorep.org or call 212-3523101 for tickets ($35-$65 through March 11; $45-$85, March 13-25; $50-$90, March 28-31; 99 cents Sun., March 4 & 11, 7:30pm). TheVillager.com

Stardust Memories â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Timeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; ďŹ nds John Kelly in ďŹ ne, if not linear, form

Photos by Theo Cote

John Kelly sings â&#x20AC;&#x153;What Makes a Man.â&#x20AC;?

Kellyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s live chalk drawings on stage.

BY DAVID KENNERLEY Attention New Yorkers of a certain age nostalgic for the 1980s avantgarde East Village arts scene. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time to rejoice, for a supreme survivor is back to evoke those glory days, and beyond. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m speaking of none other than the master of mĂŠlange John Kelly, the multitalented, genderqueer artist who in 1981 began performing in Downtown dives like the Pyramid Club and later made his way to Carnegie Hall, belting out arias in fractured falsetto and high drag. The introspective impresario has returned to his East Village roots, at the storied La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, to mount his latest piece, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Time No Line.â&#x20AC;? The multimedia work, based on his meticulous journals, is at once a wistful and penetrating survey of his career spanning four decades, though, as the title suggests, defiantly not in chronological order. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Well, the past is not linear,â&#x20AC;? he says, sitting at a little desk, his androgynous face lined with worldliness. â&#x20AC;&#x153;In retrospect, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a patchwork of emotional triggers â&#x20AC;&#x201D; how hard has it been to go back into these journals. I see my missteps â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and I see my experience, whether I like it or not.â&#x20AC;? In classic Kelly fashion, this solo

show integrates readings, anecdotes, dance, song, live drawing (in chalk on the floor), and projected images and video to bring his journal entries to life. If you look closely, the screen is actually comprised of white pages that appear to be taken directly from his journals, giving the projected images a textured, fragmented feel. Not that these are ordinary journals. The pages are bursting with screeds, scribbles, lists, doodles, diagrams, sketches, and cartoons, many of them worthy of framing. In fact, a selection of Kellyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s journal transcriptions and memorial portraits is on view at Howl! Happening (6 E. First St.) through March 25. The gifted performer, sometimes in drag, covers an astounding amount of territory in just 70 intermission-less minutes. Predictably, he traces key milestones in his career â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a flirtation with the American Ballet Theatre, a stint drawing self-portraits at Parsons, trapeze and tightrope lessons, and inspiration drawn from the infamous gay den of sin, the Anvil. Not to mention the birth of his Dagmar Onassis character (the fictional love child of Maria Callas and Aristotle Onassis) and his character studies of Egon Schiele and Joni Mitchell. All of this is framed by the AIDS pandemic, which decimated so many


gay men of his generation, including innumerable fellow artists. Kelly reveals that an HIV diagnosis in 1989 left him energized, not despondent. This just two months before his friend Keith Haring died of AIDS-related KS lesions on his lungs. Despite a predilection for drag, it would be a mistake to label his character portrayals as camp. They are too reverential, too sophisticated. Throughout the show, Kelly makes costume changes in full view, so we can witness the process of transformation. Dressed in a sheer red scarf, his plaintive rendition of the French transgender anthem from the 1970s,

â&#x20AC;&#x153;What Makes a Man,â&#x20AC;? is vintage Kelly. His signature embodiment of Joni Mitchell was both a highlight and a letdown. He chose the relatively obscure song â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Last Time I Saw Richardâ&#x20AC;? when I was hoping for a crowd favorite like â&#x20AC;&#x153;Woodstock.â&#x20AC;? If anyone is stardust, if anyone is golden, it is the ethereal, timeless, consummate creator John Kelly. Through March 11: Thurs.â&#x20AC;&#x201C;Sat. at 7pm, Sun. at 2pm. At La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. Fourth St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.). For tickets ($25), visit lamama.org or call 212-352-3101.

Theater for the New City â&#x20AC;˘ 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net

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Letters to The Editor LETTERS continued from p. 14

today is an unsafe situation since we are in the door zone of the parked vehicles. Similarly, no one would consider walking and pushing a stroller in the street next to moving cars. Cars and humans on bicycles can not mix. In addition to the bike lane on 13th St., striping bike lanes on 11th and 12th Sts. would be helpful in moving traffic on the side streets. Double parking is much less prevalent on streets that have bike lanes (as can be observed today on Ninth and 10th Sts.). Meanwhile, there are thousands of more vehicles on the road. Today, there are 130,000 vehicles operating that are licensed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission. In 2014, there were 74,000. Choresh Wald

Traffic toll too much To The Editor: In his Feb. 22 talking point, “Why Downtown should back congestion pricing,” Charles Komanoff refers to the need to thin out traffic on Manhattan roadways below 60th St. What he fails to emphasize is that this is really not a transportation issue, but a revenue issue. It is simply an attempt by the state and city to enhance revenue to help fund mass transit. I highly doubt that traffic congestion would be affected in any substantial way from this ill-designed plan. First, I would suggest to anyone who is interested to stand on any street corner below 60th St. and count the number of private vehicles on the road. Anyone doing this would be very much surprised to see that a very small percentage — maybe as low as 15 percent to 20 percent — of the vehicles are privately owned ones. Most are either commercial vehicles, yellow cabs or livery cabs, such as Uber or Lift, with T.L.C. license plates. Second, many of those private cars on the road are out-of-state vehicles, such as from New Jersey. Well, obviously, these New Jer-

sey vehicles had to have just crossed the Hudson River either by tunnel or bridge, each of which required a toll to be paid. Where has all the revenue from these tolls gone? Third, I always find it interesting that politicians such as Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio, who pride themselves as being on the side of poor and working New Yorkers, have no problem supporting regressive measures, such as congestion pricing, that will hit the poor and working people of this city the hardest. Finally, if a congestion pricing plan is implemented, will there be discounts for residents of Manhattan who live below 60th St.? After all, residents of Staten Island get discounts on the Verrazano Bridge and residents of the Rockaways get discounts on the Cross Bay and Marine Parkway bridges. Why should someone who lives below 60th St. in Manhattan have to pay a special fee just to return home from doing a little shopping at Costco in New Jersey or returning home from a family holiday dinner in Queens? I just returned from a trip to the Philippines. If you think we have traffic congestion in New York City, you haven’t seen anything. The traffic in Manila is beyond belief. Yet, the government there tries to deal with the problem without loading it on the backs of working people. For example, they have a system under which cars with certain license plate numbers cannot be on a Manila roadway on certain days. I would urge our state and city leaders to take a real hard look at any congestion pricing plan and consider whether there are better alternatives. Howard Babich E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 MetroTech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.

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

March 1, 2018



March 1, 2018



A photo of Hassan, center, and Bill Cashman of C-Squat, right, that was at Hassan’s memorial.

Hassan, C-Squat Sufi-hipster, 77, moves on to the next realm OBITUARY BY SAR AH FERGUSON


ast Saturday, a small crowd gathered at C-Squat — the former punk squat turned H.D.F.C. on Avenue C at E. 10th St. — to celebrate the life of Hassan, a.k.a. Jerry Heiserman, the former Beatnikturned-Sufi mystic who resided in the squat’s basement on and off for the past two decades. Hassan, who died on Jan. 3 at a senior home for former addicts at age 77, was a much-loved fixture at C-Squat. Perched on the front steps, “Papa Smurf” — as he was known — was like an unofficial doorman for the squat, quietly entreating all those passing by, “Hey man, you wouldn’t happen to have a dollar, would you?” Yet beneath that grizzled exterior and grifting persona lay a man with no shortage of words or wisdom. Despite a penchant for tallboys and the occasional opiate, Hassan had been a sought-after mystic and traveling companion to Jack Kerouac, who cast him as a kind of Beat Jesus of Zen-like purity in his novel “Big Sur.” (“He has faith in any direction he may take, just like Christ I guess,” says the narrator in “Big Sur.” “Anyone who looks into those eyes is instantly


converted.”) He was reportedly a roadie for the Byrds, a cook for Timothy Leary during his Harvard acid-drop days, and was termed “one of the great dandies of his generation,” by poet Kirby Doyle — due to Hassan’s habit back then of dressing in ragged ’30s and ’40s attire. At the memorial, zine artist Fly screened a video she did with Hassan, in which he described growing up in a foster home in Idaho for a time because his mother was too poor to raise him. He lived in Portland and then San Francisco’s North Beach, during the heyday of the Beat scene, then skipped to New York City, where he hung with degenerates like Herbert Huncke. He later traveled to Turkey and deep into the jungles of Java in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Istanbul and Afghanistan. “New Deli was a very important part of my life because I met my Sufi master there,” he said in an interview with C-Squatter Bill Cashman. “In Turkey, I became involved with the Mevlevi and Baktashi brotherhoods, and in India, I met the Qadri-Chishti masters, who had extraordinary powers, which I witnessed in many instances.” Allen Ginsberg met him on his first pilgrimage to India and was reportedly wowed by his knowledge of esoterica. Hassan was also a jazz drummer

who worked with music producer Bill Laswell to recruit obscure musicians for recordings, including some of the players from the Master Musicians of Jajouka. But for some reason, he foundered later in life on the front steps of CSquat, where he became a mentor of sorts to the odd cast of teen runaways and crusty punks who hung there. Former C-Squatter Seth Roskso recalled meeting Hassan at age 16, back when the place’s basement was still full of rubble. “He knew a lot about very obscure things. We’d stay up talking all night about alchemy in France and magnetic propulsion, UFO’s, everything,” laughed Rosko. “I think he was always hanging with whoever were the weirdest people of the time, and back then maybe we were it.” Rosko and other current and ex-CSquatters raised funds online to rescue Hassan’s remains from an anonymous grave at the potter’s field on Hart Island. Instead, they had him cremated. They plan to spread some of his ashes at C-Squat, then send the rest along to his sister Rebekah in Portland. “No matter what kind of spiritual journey he’s already on now, we know that he would think this plan was a little more groovy than what was in store for him,” wrote former C-Squatter Brett Pants on the GoFundMe page they crated. March 1, 2018


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