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

March 22, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 12

Add ‘L-evators,’ says attorney, adding to his subway shutdown suit BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

A

nother week, another angle that a Village activist attorney is adding to his pending lawsuit to stop the city’s L subway shutdown plan. On Wed., March 14, two disabled-advocacy groups were joined by the U.S. Attorney for

the Southern District of New York in suing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, along with New York City Transit — which operates the city’s subways and buses — for failing to add an elevator at a No. 6 train stop in the Bronx during an extensive station renovation. LTRAIN continued on p. 6

Driven by Chrysler Building rent, Cooper on road back to free BY STANLEY WLODYK A

O

n Wed., March 14, The Cooper Union’s board of trustees approved a plan that would get the school back to full-tuition scholarships in 10 years. This comes after the elite East Village college decided to start charging ging tuition in 2014

after 155 years of offering its courses free of charge. The switch was met by an outcry from the community at large — so much so that eventually New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman stepped in. Schneiderman brokered a deal that required the school to COOPER continu continued on p. 8

PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

Make that “The Last Two”... . Last Thursday, a sculpture, “The Last Three,” depicting the only sur viving nor thern white rhinos, stacked cheerleader-pyramid style, was installed on A stor Place. Sadly, one of them died Monday. See Page 2.

Epstein Assembly ready as election set for April BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

H

arvey Epstein is raring to get to work in the state Assembly on issues that matter to him, from affordable housing to public schools to reforming the criminal justice system, among others. First, though, he has to win a special election for the open 74th Assembly District seat that Governor Andrew Cuomo recently called for Tues.,

Banksy hits bank, Bowery..... p. 12

April 24. That shouldn’t be a problem, though. A month ago, Epstein, a public-interest lawyer, was unanimously selected by the members of the district’s Democratic County Committee as the party’s nominee in the election. Two other contenders, Sandro Sherrod and Mike Corbett, stepped aside, realizing they had no chance to win the committee’s backing.

“I had the votes,” Epstein said, bluntly, speaking to The Villager this week. Epstein, a progressive Democrat who has been a presence in the East Village political and activist scene for the past 20 years, had hoovered in all the endorsements, including those of pretty much all the local Democratic politicians. In addition to securing the Democratic line, Epstein is also running as the Working EPSTEIN continued on p. 3

How tweet it is: Jacobs niece ‘likes’ article.......p. 2 Senior woman is killed by car on Sixth Ave......p. 10 www.TheVillager.com


WHEN SCION MET ICON: Sculptress scion JeanLouis Bourgeois and feminist icon Gloria Steinem recently “met” at her apartment in the E. 30s. (We’ve been asked not to refer to it as a date.) Bourgeois, a longtime Villager, really enjoyed the get-together and hopes they can “meet” again.

RHINO — OH, NO: The death of Sudan, the planet’s last male northern white rhinoceros, hit home on Astor Place Tuesday, where a sculpture of him and the last two female northern white rhinos was unveiled just last week. Sudan, 45, passed away at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya Monday, where his daughter, Nejin, and granddaughter, Fatu, live on. The three rhinos could not mate since Sudan’s knees were too weak to do the deed, plus the females are reportedly infertile. The New York Times reported that scientists are currently hoping to impregnate a southern white rhino via in vitro, using “banked white rhino sperm” and possibly also stem cells, to keep the northern variety from becoming extinct. “Super-sad,” said Will Lewis, the marketing and events manager for the Village Alliance business improvement district, though adding, “Totally expected.” The BID commissioned “The Last Three” sculpture, by Australian artists Gil-

PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

Last Friday, a boy stood on one of Sudan’s horns on the new sculpture of the world’s last three nor thern white rhinos that had been installed on A stor Place just the day before. On Monday, Sudan, the final male, died. Above him in the sculpture are his daughter and granddaughter, the two sur viving females.

lie and Marc, which was installed on the plaza on March 15 and runs through May 15. The animals in the artwork are slightly larger than life-size. This rhino variety has been hunted into near-extinction for their horns, in the mistaken belief that they have health benefits. “It’s the same thing as a human fingernail,” Lewis shrugged of the coveted keratin, which is also what human hair is made of. On Tuesday, people had already left three bouquets of flowers and a candle at the sculpture, and Lewis said he expected the memorial to grow. Also on Tuesday, the Alliance tied large black ribbons around Sudan’s horns. The sculpture is interactive: People can use their phone to scan a key code that takes them to an augmented-reality app, where they can view rhinos walking freely around Astor Place, “and grunting,” Lewis added. You can also sign an online petition to save the rhinos via the app.

2

March 22, 2018

NIECE SAYS ARTICLE ‘NICE’: Well, most people would probably assume that Jane Jacobs would strongly oppose demolishing the low-scale West Village Houses in order to replace them with glitzy highrises with a mix of new market-rate apartments along with ones that the current residents could return to after the complex was redeveloped. That plan, first floated by Madison Equities last fall, would be illegal right now due to the complex’s proprietary lease that requires owners to live in the apartments. Still, it seemed that West Village Houses’ board of directors was certainly exploring the feasibility of the plan, or the general concept of rebuilding, until it recently declared that it...was not. Jacobs, of course, and her allies fought off Mayor Robert Wagner’s plan for tall towers there and instead got the no-frills West Village Houses built in their place back in the mid-1970s. At any rate, although Jacobs, who died in 2006, is no longer around to opine on the issue, her niece, Annie Butzner, weighed in on Twitter, “liking” our recent article on the West Village Houses situation, which we liked. ... On a related note, Terri Cude, chairperson of Community Board 2, said the board will put this whole issue on the back burner for a while now that nothing major will be happening imminently. “After careful consideration and given recent updates — as you reported in The Villager,” Cude told us, “plans for a town hall meeting on West Village Houses are on hold for now. We will continue to monitor the situation.” After last month’s C.B. 2 full-board meeting, Cude had raised the idea of convening a town hall on the West Village Houses after fellow board member Sandy Russo said something had to be done to stop the Madison Equities plan from going forward. IN THE NEWS — EWWW: It was certainly disturbing recently to read in the Times about sexual harassment allegations against starchitect Richard Meier. Meier, of course, designed the glass luxury towers on the Hudson River waterfront at Perry and Charles Sts. and also the residential conversion of Westbeth Artists Housing from 1967 to 1970. The accusations are deja vu all over again, reminiscent of some of the ones against the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Rose, including Meier forcing himself on women and inviting female employees over to his house allegedly to help him with work, only to find him wearing an open bathrobe or taking showers and so forth. Per what has now become standard procedure for highpowered harassers, Meier has taken a six-month leave from his architecture firm. When we met him some years ago at a showing of a multimillion-dollar apartment in one of the Perry St. towers, Meier seemed like an especially calm, mild-mannered guy, so we were a bit surprised to read the report. But as jazz great Fats Waller said, One never knows do one. … TO BE..: In other, more uplifting news, the Times also reported that Shakespeare & Co. will be returning to the Village after vacating its former space on Broadway near Waverly Place a few years ago. The store will now feature a cafe and also an “Espresso Book Machine” that will be able to print any tome not on the shelves, allegedly, in the time it takes to down a coffee in the cafe. The new store will be at Sixth Ave. and W. 11th St. and open later this year, Patch reported. SCOOPY’S continued on p. 23 TheVillager.com


Epstein Assembly ready as election set for April EPSTEIN continued from p. 1

Families Party candidate. The 74th A.D. stretches from the Baruch Houses, which are south of E. Houston St. on the Lower East Side, up to just north of the United Nations in the E. 40s, taking in the East Village, Stuyvesant Town / Peter Cooper Village, Gramercy, Rose Hill, Kips Bay and part of Murray Hill. Brian Kavanagh held the Assembly seat for six two-year terms until winning a special election last November to fill Lower Manhattan’s open 26th state Senate seat after Daniel Squadron resigned from office. A longtime East Village resident, Epstein, 51, is a former chairperson of Community Board 3. Anticipating winning the upcoming election, he resigned last week from his position as a tenant member on the Rent Guidelines Board. On the R.G.B., he was instrumental in pushing through a historic rent freeze for two years in a row for New York City’s 1 million rent-regulated apartments. “I feel very proud of those moments,” Epstein said of the two successive zeropercent annual increases. He’s also winding down his job at the Urban Justice Center, where he led the Community Development Project. He’ll face a Republican on the ballot on April 24 — Bryan Cooper, who lives in public housing on Avenue D and has previously run for office six times. “I’ve been to a lot of meetings and go to a lot of functions in this neighborhood and I’ve never seen him,” Epstein shrugged of Cooper. Also running are Adrienne CraigWilliams, the Green Party candidate, and Juan Pagan on the Reform Party line, who has also previously run for office. Epstein is confident that he’ll win the overwhelmingly Democratic district where he has an established reputation as an activist and community leader. “I’m in really good shape,” he said. “The only question will be if I get 70 or 80 percent of the vote.” Asked what his top five issues are that he hopes to work on in the Assembly, Epstein rattled them off without hesitation. First, he wants to fight for reduced subway and bus fares for low-income New Yorkers. “If you’re on public assistance and get food stamps, why not get help with transit?” he asked. It’s similar to a senior discount, he noted. Asked if he would ideally support free mass transit, he said, yes — for city residents since they pay taxes to support the system. “And out-of-towners would pay,” he said. His second priority is to preserve and expand affordable housing. Third, he said he will oppose increasTheVillager.com

Har vey Epstein says the state Legislature is a better fit for him than the Cit y Council based on the issues he has been working on and wants to impact and reform.

ing the number of charter schools, and will also work to “take the racial bias out of the system,” such as by retooling the entry tests for the city’s academically elite schools. “Think of Stuyvesant High School,” he said. “Twenty-five black and Latino kids got admitted out of 1,000 students this year. We need to reform the system.” He will also advocate for early voting. “It’s just ridiculous we don’t have early voting,” he said. “My brother lives in Las Vegas. Two weeks before the election, he can vote in a booth at the mall.” Not having early voting is “voter suppression,” plain and simple, he noted. Finally, he strongly believes in reforming the civil and criminal justice system, specifically, the bail-and-bond process, which he said currently promotes racial injustice. “Either you’re a flight risk or you’re not,” he said. “Get rid of the bail-bond system.” Low-income individuals are disproportionately burdened by having to pay 10 percent of their bail amount to a bail bondsman in order to be released from custody, he explained. In the past, Epstein’s name would be mentioned as a candidate for City Council, but he would always deny he wanted to run for office at those times. Assembly suits him better, in his opinion.

“This is a better seat for me, honestly,” he told The Villager, “because I’ve been dealing with state issues and this is an opportunity to fi x the things I’ve been fighting about. This is a better fit for me. “This was the best time in my life to do it,” he added. “People said to me over the last 10 to 20 years, ‘Why don’t you run for office?’ But it just wasn’t the right time. My kids are older now.” Last month, Epstein was among the voices saying Cuomo should have called the special election earlier, so that newly elected pols would have been able to participate in the state budget process. The 74th A.D. election is one of 11 that will be held around the state on April 24 to fill vacant Assembly and state Senate seats. However, that’s almost a month after the state’s budget deadline. In a statement last month, Epstein said, “While I am disappointed that the special election will be held so late that the residents of our district will not be represented in time for the state budget, once elected I will work to reform how special elections are conducted, so that vacancies are filled through a transparent and speedy process.”

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March 22, 2018

3


Not all think Silver should die in prison Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association News Story, First Place, 2015 Editorial Page, First Place, 2015 Editorials, First Place, 2014 News Story, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Best Column, First Place, 2012 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011 Spot News Coverage, First Place, 2010 Coverage of Environment, First Place, 2009

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4

March 22, 2018

BY MARY REINHOLZ

N

ot all Sheldon Silver’s detractors cheered the 12-year-sentence federal Judge Valerie Caproni gave him after jurors at Silver’s 2015 trial found him guilty of seven counts of corruption in U.S. District Court. In handing down the stiff sentence in Lower Manhattan’s Foley Square to the once-powerful Assembly speaker, Caproni expressed hope it would send a message to other allegedly crooked politicians that they might face the prospect of “spending their golden years in an orange jumpsuit.” An Upstate man named Stephen Dansereau wrote a letter sharply criticizing Caproni’s decision to the Times Union newspaper in Albany, where Silver, a Democrat, served in the Assembly for more than 40 years and was re-elected speaker 11 times. While Dansereau claimed the disgraced pol was guilty of “greed,” he also insisted that Caproni had unfairly and corruptly misused the justice system to punish Silver for his alleged white-collar crimes, which include honest-services fraud and extortion. Dansereau quoted Pope Francis on the subject of lengthy prison terms, calling them “a form of torture” and “a hidden death sentence.” Betsy Gotbaum, the former New York City public advocate who was named last October as executive director of Citizens Union, a government watchdog group, said in a telephone interview that she was still trying to process Silver’s precipitous fall from his position as one of New York’s most influential and liberal lawmakers. “I think 12 years is a lot of time,” she said of his sentence. “I’m a little dumbfounded because he was so good. He was a force for progressive things in New York for a long time. What happened is a tragedy.” Gotbaum said paying part-time state legislators more or turning them into fulltime government officials remains a goal of good government groups in New York. Silver, 74, a lifelong Lower East Side resident who has also battled with prostate cancer (now reportedly in remission), pled not guilty to all the government’s charges that he had pocketed nearly $4 million in kickbacks and bribes disguised as legitimate income from two Manhattan law firms that had business before the state. He could have gotten 20 years each for six of his felony counts. But even Stephen Gillers, an esteemed New York University Law School professor, a critic of Silver who specializes in legal ethics, called his sentence “harsh,” noting that other judges might not have ruled as Caproni did. Indeed, Gillers told this reporter shortly after Silver’s arrest early in 2015 that he expected him to get a sentence of “two to five years, and a big fine” — a penalty similar to that meted out to several governors prosecuted on allegations of “trading public favors for private gain.” Three years later, Silver remains free on bond awaiting a retrial of his case be-

FILE PHOTO

Shelly Silver looked stunned after his sentencing in May 2016 to a dozen years behind bars. Maybe he will be wearing a happier expression after his upcoming retrial.

fore Caproni, starting April 16. He got a second chance to avoid prison last year when the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, overturned his conviction, yet said there was sufficient evidence for him to be prosecuted again. The three-judge appellate panel in New York based their decision on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that exonerated former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife of corruption charges. The judges said Caproni erred in her instructions to jurors, giving them an overly broad definition of a corrupt official act, in light of the SCOTUS ruling seven months later. The appellate panel, based in New York, noted that Caproni’s error “was not harmless because it is not clear beyond a reasonable doubt that a rational jury would have reached the same conclusion if properly instructed, as is required by law for the verdict to stand.” Nonetheless, some of Silver’s supporters seem convinced that he will be convicted again and get the same 12-year sentence by the same judge looking at the same evidence. Others believe he could either beat the rap or get a lesser sentence in his retrial because of the McDonnell ruling. One prominent criminal defense lawyer noted that the sidelined Silver is no longer a major political figure in New York and is “not a well man,” suggesting that Caproni may temper justice with mercy in his second trial. North Brooklyn Assemblymember Joseph Lentol, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Kings County and Silver ally who was elected in 1972, said he holds “some optimism” for Silver winning an acquittal. “It’s been awhile since the [first] trial and the prosecution has to drag a whole bunch of witnesses back and prove its case,” he said. He noted not all the old witnesses may be as eager testify again and the prosecution might have to issue subpoenas for them to talk about Silver’s alleged illegal quid pros quos.

The charges mostly involve Silver’s parttime work as counsel for Weiss & Luxemberg, a noted law firm handling personal injury cases that paid him about $3 million for referrals; and Goldberg & Iryami, a small Downtown office that represents real estate clients seeking tax abatements. The latter firm paid Silver about $700,000 for the referrals of two real estate developers: Glenwood Management and the Witkoff Group. Silver reportedly drew suspicion from federal agents when he failed to disclose his earnings from Goldberg & Iryami on state disclosure forms. One of the company’s owners was his counsel in the Assembly. The prosecution’s star witness was Dr. Robert Taub, then head of a Columbia University cancer clinic largely supported by private donations. Taub, who was granted a nonprosecution deal, provided referrals to Weiss & Luxemberg of clients suffering from mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer, starting in 2003, according to court documents. That firm, which specialized in personal injury litigation, retained Silver for $120,000 a year in addition to the 33 percent he received from referrals that resulted in settlements. Along the way, Silver sponsored a resolution in the Assembly honoring Taub for his work and funneled two state grants totaling $500,000 to his now-disbanded clinic from a healthcare fund. “That [resolution] didn’t help Shelly in the first trial,” Lentol, a Democrat, said. He noted, however, that prosecutors the second time around must prove that Silver arranged for an illegal quid pro quo under a narrower definition of an official act based on the SCOTUS ruling in the McDonnell case. Taub acknowledged at the first trial that his dealings with Silver did not constitute a specific quid pro quo. But he also testified that there was an implied quid pro quo. Manhattan lawyer Emily Jane Goodman, a retired New York State Supreme SILVER continued on p. 7 TheVillager.com


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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 22, 2018

5


‘L-evators’ needed, says attorney, adding to his LTRAIN continued from p. 1

In the federal lawsuit, the two nonprofits, Bronx Independent Living Services and Disabled in Action, charge that the M.T.A. and NYC Transit violated the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 by not putting in a lift at the Middletown Road subway stop, in Pelham Bay — despite the fact that more than $27 million was spent sprucing up the station. The renovations that were done ranged from replacing street and platform stairs to new floor tiles, painting and artwork, plus installing “Help Points” and even a bird deterrent system — yet no elevator. “Access to the subway system is critical for everyone who lives in, works in or travels to New York City,” the lawsuit states. “Yet nearly 26 years after the passage of the A.D.A., only 19 percent of subway stations are fully accessible to persons with disabilities. The abysmal percentage of accessible subway stations makes the New York City subway system one of the least accessible public transportation systems in the United States. By comparison, 100 percent of stations in Washington, D.C., 100 percent of stations in the San Francisco Bay Area, 74 percent of stations in Boston, 68 percent of stations in Philadelphia, and 67 percent of stations in Chicago are wheelchair-accessible. … “[T]he Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act require transportation authorities to make their stations accessible to persons with disabilities when renovating, rebuilding or otherwise altering stations in a way that affects or can affect the usability of any part of the station,” the suit states. Arthur Schwartz told The Villager he will now include this disabled-access angle in the lawsuit he is readying to file over the city’s plan to shut down the L train’s East River tubes (known as the Canarsie Tunnel) for 15 months starting in April 2019. He plans to file suit by the end of this month. Schwartz — who is also the Village’s Democratic district co-leader — is representing pro bono the new 14th St. Coalition, an ad hoc group of more than 20 Village and Chelsea block associations and co-op and condo boards opposed to the city’s L shutdown plan for fear of its anticipated negative impacts on their community. As part of the planned shutdown, NYC Transit would not run L trains during the 15-month period between the Bedford Ave. station in Williamsburg and the Eighth Ave. station at W. 14th St. on the border of the Village and Chelsea. The M.T.A. and the city’s Department of Transportation last December announced online an elaborate mitigation plan for dealing with the L shutdown, including turning 14th St. into a “busway,” plus installing a twoway crosstown protected bike lane on

6

March 22, 2018

PHOTOS BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

The elevator to the mezzanine level of the Union Square subway station, on 14th St. just east of Union Square East, is heavily used by parents with baby strollers.

13th St. Village and Chelsea residents living in the blocks from 12th to 19th Sts. fear the busway plan would push car traffic to their small historic side streets, which they say are already jammed with traffic. Meanwhile, the squadron of extra buses that the M.T.A. would add to 14th St. to pick up the slack during the subway outage would all be diesel-powered, state Senator Brad Hoylman recently revealed, to residents’ dismay. (Hoylman is lobbying for the use of electric buses instead.) Fourteenth St. residents also are worried about retaining vehicle access to their buildings should the major crosstown thoroughfare be transformed into an experimental busway. Meanwhile, the planned 13th St. bike path is also meeting fierce opposition from block residents, and especially from parents from City and Country School since it would run through the K-to-12 school’s curbside drop-off / pickup area. Schwartz noted that, as part of the L shutdown, the M.T.A. and NYC Transit also intend to make improvements to the L train stations in Manhattan. For example, the First Ave. stop would get a new Avenue A entrance, plus elevators, while protective “screens” would be added at the Third Ave. L station. “Pilot program introducing Platform Screen Doors — similar to those on the AirTrain,” states a description on mta. info about the plans for the Third Ave. station. “They’re sort of experimental, to keep people from jumping in front of trains,” Schwartz explained of the screens. However, the Third Ave. station currently lacks elevators and would not be getting any installed under the Canarsie Tunnel reconstruction project. Ditto for

the L train’s Sixth Ave. station. All the planned L station improvements are listed at mta.info. Improvements planned for the L stop at the Union Square station during the Canarsie Tunnel repairs include “augment turnstile capacity; reconfigure and widen stairs between the Broadway line (N, Q, R, W) and the L line to improve passenger circulation…; and add a new escalator from the L train platform to the station’s mezzanine.”

‘A properly vetted E.I.S. would have raised this as an issue.’ Arthur Schwartz

However, elevator accessibility is an issue at the Union Square station. The station does have an elevator from the street to its mezzanine level. And there are then elevators inside the station that, in turn, connect the mezzanine to the platforms for the L line, as well as the N, Q, R and W trains. However, there is no elevator to connect the mezzanine to the platforms for the 4, 5 and 6 trains — which impacts disabled L train straphangers’ ability to transfer between subway lines at this key Downtown trans-

portation hub. Two M.T.A. attendants inside the station on Monday confirmed there is no accessible transfer between the L train and the East Side I.R.T. lines at Union Square. During a 40-minute span this Sunday afternoon, a steady stream of people entered and exited the Union Square station through the elevator on the north side of E. 14th St. just east of Union Square East. They ranged from a few senior citizens — one of them a 70-yearold man bent over a cane — a lot of parents with baby strollers, an Amazon Prime deliveryman wheeling a large package and a woman with a piece of rolling luggage. A couple from Spain were waiting for the elevator on the sidewalk, with their baby in a stroller and the husband’s arm full of shopping bags. Asked if they used this particular lift often, he said about once every two months. “In general, they need more elevators,” the mother said, nodding toward her child in the stroller. According to the Canarsie Tunnel repair project description on mta.info, the station work during the shutdown would include “upgrading all five L line stations in Manhattan with improvements, such as refurbished stairways and new lighting and painting.” In addition, four L line stations in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan — Sixth Ave. — also would be “revitalized…by repairing or replacing wall tiles, columns, platform edges and floors,” the site notes. Yet, the Manhattan Sixth Ave. L train station, again, currently lacks elevators and the L shutdown plan does not mention adding any there. Similarly, none of the four Brooklyn stations slated to be “revitalized” (Morgan Ave., DeKalb Ave., Halsey St. and Bushwick Ave.-Aberdeen St.) currently have elevators or are slated to get them under the plan. Only one Brooklyn station, Bedford Ave., is targeted to receive elevators during the L shutdown plan. Although the Driggs Ave. L stop in Brooklyn would get two new stairways during the project, it would remain elevator-less. An attendant inside the Union Square station last Sunday gave The Villager a small “pocket guide” of accessible subway stops, which shows that the entire L line, which has 24 stations, currently only has five A.D.A.-accessible ones: Eighth Ave. and Union Square in Manhattan, and Wilson Ave. (northbound only), Myrtle-Wyckoff Aves. and Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway in Brookyn. Schwartz noted that Bronx Independent Living Services filed essentially the same lawsuit in 2016 “but it hasn’t moved very fast.” That could change, one would expect, now that the U.S. attorney has joined the suit. “The M.T.A. has taken the position LTRAIN continued on p. 7 TheVillager.com


ever-growing lawsuit against subway shutdown LTRAIN continued from p. 6

that they’re grandfathered,” Schwartz said of existing subway stations without elevators. “They’re spending a billion dollars,” he said of the L tunnel shutdown plan, “they can’t spend the money to put in elevators?” As previously reported by The Villager, Schwartz also intends to argue in his lawsuit that the sweeping L train project needs an Environmental Impact Statement, or E.I.S. — first, because an E.I.S. is required under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, for all federally funded projects; and second, because an E.I.S. is required under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQRA, for projects that are sited next to or in public parks or historic districts. A month ago, Schwartz first announced that he planned to sue over the L shutdown plan. At that time, he said he hoped the lawsuit would compel the M.T.A. and D.O.T. to sit down with the community and work out a more acceptable way of handling the mitigation plan, as to how it would impact the Village and Chelsea. However, Schwartz now

A man using a cane who spoke halting English but said he was 70 years old was one of the straphangers who used the elevator last Sunday afternoon.

thinks the whole shutdown idea should be scrapped outright, in favor of just doing the repairs on weekends and at night — which obviously would be drastically less disruptive to straphangers and the communities around 14th St. “If there’s a way to make this a weekend-and-night job, in my opinion, that’s a much better option,” he said. “You wouldn’t have all the 14th St. stuff.” The M.T.A. has been saying 50,000

Will Silver get leniency? SILVER continued from p. 4

Court justice, said the government must prove a “specific quid pro quo” to win a conviction. “If that doesn’t materialize in Silver’s next trial, then there’s not enough to convict him,” she said. Goodman said earlier that Silver stands a chance at acquittal, especially if he decides to testify — a risky route. His new lawyer, Michael Feldberg, did not answer requests for comment. Neither did Stephen Molo and Joel Cohen, Silver’s previous defense attorneys. Molo said in his final statements at the 2015 jury that Silver “did not sell his office” and insisted there was no quid pro quo. Whatever the retrial’s outcome, Silver has fiercely loyal defenders in the 65th Assembly District who continue to hope for his exoneration. One is Paul Hovitz, a retired special-education teacher and vice chairperson of Community Board 1. He lavished praise on Silver for his work trying to solve overcrowding in schools and building new ones Downtown. “We would absolutely not have four of the seven schools that were created Downtown without Shelly’s influence and leadership,” Hovitz said. As for his views of Silver personally, Hovitz said, “My sense of Shelly, man to man, and as an elected official is that he has great integrity.” Asked about his views on Silver’s inTheVillager.com

people use the L train just in Manhattan on a daily basis, but that applies to weekdays, Schwartz noted. If the L train were only closed for repairs on weekends and nights, the impacted ridership would be smaller. “You might want to increase bus service on the weekends,” he suggested. “The people that come in on the weekend mostly want to do ‘fun and games.’” So, in addition to the accessibility issue, there is still the larger that Schwartz plans to raise in his lawsuit — namely, whether the L shutdown

project needs an E.I.S. So far, D.O.T. officials have either dodged the E.I.S. issue or declared the project doesn’t need one. On March 1, Eric Beaton, D.O.T. deputy commissioner for transportation planning and management, responded to Schwartz after the Village attorney had written D.O.T. Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to tell her why he believes an E.I.S. is required under SEQRA. “D.O.T. and our partner agencies are complying with all applicable environmental review requirements for this project,” Beaton wrote back to Schwartz — though never mentioning an E.I.S. Similarly, a week before then, on Feb. 21, a D.O.T. spokesperson told The Villager, “The city is complying with its environmental statutory obligations with regard to its L train shutdown mitigation plans. Despite assertions by Mr. Schwartz, no E.I.S. is required.” Asked if the accessibility argument could delay the L shutdown plan, Schwartz said he didn’t think so — but indicated that it could bolster the E.I.S. lawsuit. “That in and of itself wouldn’t delay the shutdown plan,” he said, “but is evidence of what a properly vetted E.I.S. would have raised as an issue.”

teractions with Taub, he replied: “Maybe there was some rule-bending done in his favor. I choose to believe that [the arrangement] worked out in both the doctor’s and Shelly’s favor, but there was not a conspiracy to hurt anyone but rather a situation for parties who were serving the public.” Bob Wilson, the former longtime leader of the Knickerbocker Village Tenants Association who has known and worked with Silver for decades, declined to speculate on Silver’s motives or on the issues in the case. “All of it is so hazy gray,” he said. “I’m not sure if he knowingly did wrong or accidentally did wrong. Let the courts decide.” What’s clear to Wilson, a 78-year-old retired city employee, is that Silver ably served his Lower Manhattan community, responding to its needs effectively and quickly, during his tenure in public office. “The guy couldn’t have done more,” Wilson said, recalling how Silver was “there” at Knickerbokcer Village in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. He noted how Silver had joined other officials in securing $1.4 million in disaster-relief funds to repair the middle-and-low-income development’s elevators after rushing waters from the East River flooded the place and knocked out electricity, trapping elderly and disabled residents on the upper floors. “He was doing his job,” Wilson said. March 22, 2018

7


Driven by Chrysler rent, Cooper on road to free COOPER continued from p. 1

make a “good faith” effort to return to free. The plan adopted by the trustees insists on building up a $152 million rainy-day fund before reinstituting full-tuition scholarships, a nod to the bruises Cooper got from running annual deficits for decades. All things being the same, how can an institution go from the brink of financial collapse to piling up a mountain of gold? The hope for a brighter tomorrow would not be possible if not for the saving grace of its most valuable asset: the land beneath the Chrysler Building in East Midtown. Two years before the crash of 2008, when it still seemed like the real estate bubble would never burst, Cooper was able to renegotiate its lease with the Chrysler Building. As a result, this year, Cooper Union will receive an increase in rent from the Chrysler Building of about $12 million — going from $7.8 million in 2017 to $20.1 million in 2018. The rent then soars by yet another $12 million, to $32.5 million annually, from 2019 to 2027. The honeypot keeps getting sweeter, with additional increases scheduled thereafter. Even with this new influx of Chrysler cash, it’s not enough to hit the $152 million mark. Cooper, under the leadership of its new president, Laura Sparks, has cut around $9 million a year in administrative costs. Additionally, the 10-year plan to return to free tuition sets increasingly ambitious annual fundraising targets: about $3 million this year, $5 million next year and all the way up to $18 million in 2029. Critics argue that a decade is too long to wait to

PHOTO BY STANLEY WLODYKA

From a family for tune made in par t from glue manufacturing, Peter Cooper’s descendants endowed The Cooper Union with the plot of land underneath the Chr ysler Building in 1902.

JOIN US FOR

HOLY WEEK

THE CHURCH OF THE ASCENSION ˆv̅ÊÛi˜ÕiÊ>ÌÊ/i˜Ì…Ê-ÌÀiiÌÊUÊÜÜÜ°>ÃVi˜Ãˆœ˜˜Þ°œÀ}ÊUÊӣӇÓx{‡nÈÓä

Please join us for Services in Holy Week.

At The Church of St. Luke in the Fields Palm Sunday — March 25

Good Friday — March 30

Blessing of the Palms and Holy Eucharist 8:00 am Said Eucharist 9:15 am Choral Eucharist* 11:15 am Choral Eucharist*

9:00 am Morning Prayer 1:00 pm Good Friday Liturgy * 6:30 pm Stations of the Cross

Mon. Tues.— March 26, 27

Holy Saturday — March 31

6:15 pm Holy Eucharist

Wednesday — March 28 6:15 pm Stations of the Cross and Holy Eucharist

8:00 pm The Great Vigil of Easter The Paschal Vigil and First Eucharist of Easter with Baptism, Conrmation, Reception and Rearmation of Baptismal Vows.

Maundy Thursday — March 29 Easter Day — April 1 6:30 pm Choral Eucharist with Foot Washing, Agape Supper, Stripping of the Altar, and Vigil at the Altar of Repose. An Overnight Watch until 1pm on Good Friday.

8:00 am Said Eucharist 9:15 am Choral Eucharist* 10:30 am Easter Egg Hunt 11:15 am Choral Eucharist*

*Child care is available for children ages 6 and under

The Church of Saint Luke in the Fields | Corner of Hudson and Grove Streets 487 Hudson Street New York, NY 10014 | 212.924.0562 | www.stlukeintheelds.org

8

March 22, 2018

return to free, and lament the possibility of prolonging paid tuition, as mandated under the plan, should the school fail to hit the fundraising targets within a 5 percent deviation. Mike Borkowsky, a former trustee, believes that Cooper Union’s reputation is as valuable an asset as any it possesses. “The longer we delay, the worse it is for the reputation of the school,” he said. “So, you’ve got to balance financial conservatism, the need for stability and sustainability, against the risk to the reputation and the quality of the school.” Rachel Warren, chairperson of Cooper’s board of trustees, is confident in the plan. “We are going to put ourselves back on the financial road because this is, at essence, a financial issue,” she said. And if the fundraising goals are too ambitious, if the targets are too lofty, it is Warren herself, her fellow board members and Cooper Union’s administration that will have to bear the brunt of that burden. Warren believes it warrants the effort. “This is something that is so uniquely important to the city and to academia,” she said. “We need to figure out how to get this institution back on its feet.” President Sparks has championed the plan and the Cooper community seems to have heard her rallying cry. The night before the board vote, a new plaque was unveiled in Cooper Union’s historic Foundation Building honoring 1945 art school alum Irma Giustino Weiss. Sparks beamed, “She [posthumously] committed up to $4 million and for every dollar that we raised, we would get a dollar of that match. We had a year to do it. We met the challenge in four months.”

March 30 March 25 Palm Sunday 9 AM Said Eucharist 11am Blessing of the Palms & Procession Festal Eucharist with Choir 7:00pm Meditation & Sacrament Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday In Holy Week, 6pm at Side Altar

Good Friday - Noon The Passion and Deathof Our Lord Jesus Christ, with Choir With Veneration of the Cross and Communion from the Reserve Sacrament

March 31 Liturgy of the Word - 10am The Great Vigil of Easter - 8pm Saturday, with Full Choir With Lighting of the New Fire, the Paschal Candle, and Baptism

March 29 Maundy Thursday - 7pm Holy Eucharist with Full Choir With Washing of Feet, Stripping of Altar, Setting of the Altar of Repose, and Watch with the Blessed Sacrament

April 1 Easter Sunday Day of Resurrection 9am Said Eucharist 11pm Festal Eucharist with Full Choir 7pm Meditation & Sacrament

Parish Office at 12. W. 11th StÀiiÌÊÊUÊÊÊOffice Hours: Monday–Friday, 9 am – 5 pm

ALL ARE WELCOME! TheVillager.com


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TheVillager.com

March 22, 2018

9


POLICE BLOTTER suspect entered the place saying he was dropping off food at someone’s home. However, the grub was never delivered. The suspect was seen going into the basement. A cleaning lady for one of the residents was doing laundry and went down to the basement to get the wash. She left the apartment door unlocked and when she returned the suspect was inside. She asked if the guy was a friend of her employer and the suspect said he was there to take photos. Forty dollars was missing from the living-room mantle. Keith Fax, 38, was arrested March 12 for felony burglary.

Killed by car An 84-year-old Village woman who was hit by a car on Sixth at W. 13th St. died three days later. Police said that on Mon., March 12, around 10:30 a.m., Patricia Clare O’Grady, of 498 Sixth Ave., was hit by a Ford Sedan just a block from her home. Responding officers found her lying in the street with body trauma. She was transported to Bellevue Hospital but pronounced dead on March 15. The Police Department’s Collision Investigation Squad determined that the car, driven by a 36-year-old man, was traveling northbound when the victim entered the roadway, trying to cross near the crosswalk. The driver operator remained at the scene. There were no arrests and the investigation remains ongoing.

Helped herself

14th St. stabbing Police said that a 23-year-old man was stabbed and slashed several times by an unidentified man in front of 65 Fifth Ave., at 14th St., on Fri., March 16, at 6:05 a.m. The perp approached the victim and verbally threatened him before attacking him with the knife and departing in an unknown direction. The victim suffered stab wounds to his back, abdomen, chest and head, and was removed to Beth Israel Hospital, where he was treated and released. The suspect is described as white Hispanic, around age 25 to 30, 5 feet 11 inches tall and 160 to 180 pounds, last seen wearing a blue overcoat, black jeans and black sneakers. Anyone with information about the shooting incident is asked to call the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS, or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting them to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.

Rough robber Police are looking for a suspect who violently robbed two women in the East Village early on Sat., March 17. In the first incident, around 12:23 a.m., the man entered a residential building at E. 13th St. and Avenue B, following a 22-year-old woman into the lobby. He threw her to the floor and punched her several times, before removing her purse and fleeing. The victim refused medical attention. In the second mugging, around 2:10 a.m., the suspect entered a residential building at E. Houston St. and Avenue B, and approached a 31-year-old woman in the lobby. He pushed her

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March 22, 2018

Police say this white-hat-wearing punk violently mugged t wo women in East Village building lobbies early on Sat., March 17, both times in the vicinit y of Avenue B. This sur veillance-camera image was taken inside Sal’s Deli, at 216 Avenue B, at E. 13th St., police said.

into a corner, stating he had a gun and demanding money. She refused to give him anything and he struck her over the left eye, leaving a small cut. He then removed her purse, containing credit cards and about $40 and fled east on Second St. The victim refused medical attention. The individual is described as Hispanic, about 5 feet 10 inches tall, last seen wearing a black jacket, dark-blue sweatpants, white sneakers and a white cap. Anyone with information about the shooting incident is asked to contact the Crime Stoppers Hotline.

Fleeces senior A thug robbed an 87-year-old as he was entering his building at E. Sixth St. and First Ave. on Fri., March 9, at 7:15 p.m., cops said. The guy approached the senior from behind, grabbed him and took his wallet, containing $230, then threw him to the ground before fleeing. The elderly man was not injured. The suspect is described as darkskinned black, around age 30, 5 feet 10 inches tall, with a moustache and short hair. He was last seen wearing a black jacket, a black hooded sweatshirt and

black pants. Anyone with information about the shooting incident is asked to contact the Crime Stoppers Hotline.

Stone-cold denial According to police, a man in his mid50s, walking with a cane, threatened a “token booth” attendant at the East Broadway F station on Wed., March 14, around 10 p.m. First, he threw a large stone at the booth while the clerk was inside counting cash and demanded all the money, police said. The clerk refused. The guy then said he had a gun and repeated his demand, but the clerk refused again. The cash-strapped Straphanger exited the station, heading toward the Rutgers Houses, according to cops. The suspect is described as black, weighing about 225 pounds and with a bald / clean-shaven head.

Food fake-out According to police, a phony food deliveryman burglarized an apartment at 299 W. 12th St., on Tues., Feb. 27, at 11 a.m. The doorman told cops the

Police said a man was robbed by a female friend on Tues., Feb. 27, at 9 p.m. inside his apartment at 112 W. Houston St. The woman reportedly came over to the victim’s apartment and asked for money to get home to New Jersey. She was walking around the apartment and in and out of the victim’s bedroom, he told police. Soon after, the suspect left, and about two hours later, the victim received a notification from Chase that his card was used to pay a $155.69 tab at The Stanton Social, at 99 Stanton St. When he checked his wallet, he found that $1,000 in cash and his Chase card were gone. Angaya Manivannan, 21, was arrested for felony grand larceny.

A real cut-up A man was spotted crossing Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. with a knife sticking out of his pocket on Thurs., March 15, at 7:52 p.m., police said. When he was stopped by officers, the man refused to provide identification and resisted arrest while being handcuffed. Upon a search, he was found to be in possession of three more knives. He told cops that he needed all the knives for protection. Ron Sawney, 41, was charged with felony criminal weapon possession.

Crooked crash A man threw a bench at two windows at The Crooked Knife, at 209 W. 13 St., on Sat., March 17, at 12:50 a.m., police said. The windows were cracked and shattered, with the damage valued at $250. Richard Rano, 27, was arrested on March 18 for felony criminal mischief.

Tabia C. Robinson and Lincoln Anderson TheVillager.com


Jackson action report; Garden getting new fence

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ouncilmember Corey Johnsonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s office provided The Villager with detailed information on the Jackson Square Park renovation and the Jane St. Gardenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new fence installation. The Jackson Square work will last a full year and cost $1.8 million, according to Matt Green, Johnsonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s deputy chief of staff. The little park, between Greenwich and Eighth Aves. and Horatio St., will see three light poles restored, large shrubs replaced with trees, new A.D.A.-compliant granite pavers installed, its seating increased to 27 benches, its fountain restored and the fountainâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fence replaced, its drinking fountain replaced with an A.D.A. â&#x20AC;&#x153;ornamentalâ&#x20AC;? drinking fountain, and the parkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 1930s perimeter fence stripped and painted and its broken parts replaced. Meanwhile, the work at Jane St. Garden, at Jane St. and Eighth Ave., is slated to begin in early May. First, the existing chain-link fence and footings will be removed, and then a new 12-inch-wide granite curb for the new fence will be installed. Measurements will then be tak-

ILLUSTRATION BY LAURA DRAWBAUGH

A rendering of a section of the new fence, including the entr y way gate, coming for the Jane St. Garden.

en for the new steel fence, which should take around two weeks. The sidewalk at the gardenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s entrance and on Jane St. be fixed up after the curb is installed. There is a 10-to-12-week fab-

rication time for the custommade fence posts, fence panels and gates, so there will be no construction activity between late May and mid-August, during which time the garden can

remain open. The contractor will install construction fencing with a gate, allowing gardeners access. Once the new fence is delivered, installation should take

two to three weeks, finishing in late August / early September. Again, the garden can remain open during construction. The fence projectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s total cost is roughly $400,000.

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March 22, 2018

11


Banksy hits Bowery wall, bank in Big Apple

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The new mural — a Bansk y / Bor f collaboration — of imprisoned Turkish ar tist / journalist Zehra Dogan on the Houston St. “graffiti wall.”

anksy returned to New York City this past week, painting a mural on Houston St. honoring a jailed Turkish artist, and adding a scurrying rat to the clock of an old bank building slated for demolition on W. 14th St. The artwork on the famed “mural wall,” just west of the Bowery, highlights the plight of Zehra Dogan, an ethnic Kurd who is also a journalist who was imprisoned for painting a watercolor with a Turkish flag over Nasyabin, a Kurdish town destroyed by the Turkish military. She was jailed after posting the image on social media. The five-story mural includes black marks symbolizing the number of Dogan’s days behind bars. At night, a caption is projected onto it: “Sentenced to 2 years, 9 months, 22 days for painting this.” Banksy was reportedly joined by Borf, a fellow graffitist, in creating the Houston St. work. “One year ago Zehra Dogan was jailed for painting this watercolour of a photograph she saw in the newspaper,” the mysterious British street artist wrote in an Instagram post. “Protest against this injustice. Sentenced to nearly three years

in jail for painting a single picture.” Just days after the mural was installed, it was tagged, but then quickly restored. At the former bank building, at the northwest corner of W. 14th St. and Sixth Ave., Banksy left a much smaller mark — a rat scampering counterclockwise on the face of a clock. Some interpreted it as a typical Banksy anticapitalist critique of the “rat race” since the site is slated for development. In 2013, Banksy spent a month in the Big Apple, creating a piece of street art daily. Saturday, in front of the former bank, street-art fans and curious passersby snapped photos of the rat piece. Meanwhile, a man who denied being Banksy handed out brochures offering “street art addicts” a number to call for help. An apparent homeless man was hunkered down in front of the bank eating and smoking — but was he Banksy...or perhaps part of the art? No one seemed to notice him. Tuesday morning, the building owner removed the Banksyfied clock face, reportedly with plans to auction it, according to blog Hyperallergic.

PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY

Banksy added a rat to the former bank clock at 14th St. and Sixth Ave. Less than a week later, the building’s owner removed it, repor tedly to auction it.

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March 22, 2018

Saying he was not Banksy, a man handed out fliers for “street ar t addicts.” TheVillager.com


return; Highlights jailed journalistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plight

The scene in front of the former bank this past Saturday.

A message from chalk ar tist Hans Honschar welcoming Banksy back to New York Cit y.

Elder Law, Estate Planning, Guardianships, Trusts & Estates

Gifting and Estate Planning 2018 April 10 at 10:00 am Sheen Center for Thought & Culture 18 Bleeker St., 2nd Floor

Wills vs. Trusts April 26 at 10:00 am BelCham 1177 Avenue of the Americas

Please RSVP at (631) 941-3434 or email info@burnerlaw.com TheVillager.com

March 22, 2018

13


EDITORIAL Slow down L shutdown

B

ecause he had the audacity to announce he plans to sue the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Department of Transportation over their plan to shut down part of the L train route for nearly a year and a half, Village attorney Arthur Schwartz has been slammed by the plan’s supporters. He has been called “selfish” while his lawsuit is being bashed as an “11th-hour effort.” But Schwartz, who is also the Village’s elected Democratic district co-leader, is not just representing himself, but about two-dozen Village and Chelsea block associations and co-op and condo boards that, in turn, represent thousands of local residents. The M.T.A. admits, “No street will be more disrupted by the L train disruption than 14th St.” However, it seems clear that neither agency has conducted an environmental impact statement, or E.I.S., for this massive plan, which would impact, not just Brooklyn commuters, but all of Manhattan in and around 14th St. How could it not? Making 14th St. a car-less “busway,” installing a two-way protected bike lane on 13th St., will have impacts. The M.T.A. and D.O.T. argue that a lot of the car traffic displaced from 14th St. will just...vanish. Advocates for the 14th St. “PeopleWay” plan cite a study showing that precisely this happened in Paris when cars were banned from a street by the Seine. Hey, as far as we’re concerned, the fewer cars, the better. Similarly, we’re all for more mass transit and more cycling and bike paths. But we don’t think all of these improvements necessarily should be installed without first doing a legally required E.I.S. — especially not for a project of this magnitude, and where some changes may well become permanent. And if the number of buses would be increased on 14th St. during the L outage, why would they not be powered by a super-clean fuel, like renewable natural gas (RNG)? Instead, the M.T.A. has purchased 200 buses to help deal with what has been dubbed the “L-pocalypse.” What? Again, that’s another thing that should be studied under an E.I.S. An M.T.A. official at a recent presentation in the Village on the proposed L shutdown downplayed this, saying diesel motors today burn much more cleanly than 20 or even 10 years ago. But as one concerned resident testified, giving the example of another energy source that Trump wants to boost: “There is no such thing as clean coal.” City and Country School parents fear for the safety of their kids, especially the young ones, if a twoway bike lane is installed in front of their school. Let’s face it, a two-way bike lane is more hazardous. It doesn’t take a planning degree to realize that. And while we’re discussing better modes of moving people around, what about the disabled? The L has very few A.D.A. elevators. Schwartz, taking a page from a recently filed lawsuit by disabled advocates, says the L project, since it includes federally funded station improvements, must include elevators. There are many moving pieces to this plan that is intended to keep New Yorkers moving. But there’s no crisis right now, there’s no rush, and there’s no harm in doing an E.I.S. In fact, it would do a lot of good to think this plan through more carefully and coherently — and, above all, to do it legally.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR ‘Facility fee’? No thanks! To The Editor: Re “Locals lamenting Beth Israel Hospital’s loss of full array of services” (news article, March 15): Another downside of the takeover of Beth Israel that I haven’t seen addressed elsewhere: Mt. Sinai now appears to be charging patients at its 10 Union Square East location as if it were a hospital. Since about May 2017, all doctor office visits at that location have resulted in a “facility fee” on top of the regular co-pay to the doctor. With my particular Medicare insurance plan, that facility fee is $20 per visit. I’m going to exactly the same doctors in the same offices that I’ve visited for years, but suddenly Mt. Sinai expects my insurance company and me to pay them for use of that “hospital” facility. This does not seem to occur at their other satellite facilities. Just because they’re taking away our real hospital at the old Beth Israel doesn’t mean they should be able to arbitrarily designate existing doctors’ offices at another facility as a hospital and bill accordingly. Essie Borden

2009. After her years of performing with Show Stoppers, she continued to sing with a group at one of the Village’s senior centers. Roni, always with a smile and friendly approach, did love to sing and participate in many social and volunteer projects through the years. She will be missed by many. Sing with the angels, Roni! Judy Cohen

Healthcare is herding us To The Editor: Re “Locals lamenting Beth Israel Hospital’s loss of full array of services” (news article, March 15): Soon it will be a pick-and-choose issue who gets medical care — not the middle class, not the very poor, but the filthy rich, that’s who. I see it all coming. We will be at storefront medical facilities. You mark my words. We are being moved around like cattle and there is nothing we can do about it, either, sad to say. Try to keep healthy and stay out of clinics, that’s my advice to all. Helen Murphy

Tequila’s touch is true To The Editor: Re “Murder of Soho’s ‘Roni’ shakes Village seniors, friends and neighbors” (news article, March 15): As always, Tequila Minsky has captured the true essence of this monumental tragedy. Thank you for this thoughtful coverage. Harvey Osgood

Sing with the angels To The Editor: Re “Murder of Soho’s ‘Roni’ shakes Village seniors, friends and neighbors” (news article, March 15): So sorry to read this. I knew Roni as a fellow singer and performer with Show Stoppers, a volunteer senior ensemble directed by Christina Britton Conroy, a music and drama therapist and author. I first met Roni when I joined the group in December

Let’s listen to our kids To The Editor: Re “Students take aim against gun violence during national walkout” (news article, March 15): It takes courage to stand up and make your voice heard. Let’s hope we all start listening to our kids. What’s going on is craziness, and creating more craziness with more guns makes no sense. Violence and fear create more violence and fear. I’m so proud of all of the students, teachers and families who are standing up and saying, No More! Heather Ann Campbell 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.

IRA BLUTREICH

Another spike in homelessness! 14

March 22, 2018

TheVillager.com


From park pier to horizontal ‘office building’

TALKING POINT BY TOM FOX

T

he Hudson River Park Trust recently announced that it would allow the developers of Pier 57 to replace the area dedicated to Anthony Boudain’s proposed public market with an additional 70,000 square feet of Google offices. That public market had been announced with great fanfare two years ago but was abandoned this past December when the venture was not economically viable as initially envisioned. Google will now build a total of 320,000 square feet of commercial office space in Pier 57. At more than 1,000 feet long, Pier 57, at W. 15th St., is equivalent to the height of a 90-story building. The 1998 Hudson River Park Act prohibited commercial offices, hotels and residential development in the park. It was agreed that these land uses were better accommodated on the inboard side of the West Side Highway. However, in the closing hours of the 2013 legislative session, the Trust, supported by a lobbyist paid by Friends of the Hudson River Park, got the state Legislature to amend the Park Act to allow office development specifically at Pier 57. The Trust has recently mentioned that it would like to further amend the Act. Continuing efforts to commercialize the park will greatly reduce public use and enjoyment of what was planned to be the 21st-century equivalent of Central Park.

Inadequate public info I started to pen this opinion piece after reading the February 21, 2018, Villager article “Google keeps gobbling up space in Chelsea; Takes more of Pier 57,” which described this new twist in the decade-long quest to redevelop Pier 57. I had several questions about the project and asked this newspaper’s editor if there was any public information describing which spaces were designated for different types of uses and how the public space would be managed. Three weeks ago, he asked the Trust to provide a copy of the new plan proposed for Pier 57. The Trust didn’t have any information and referred him to Seth Pinsky, the executive vice president of the pier’s developer, RXR Realty, who said that there wasn’t a plan immediately available, but something would be available in a week or two. The Villager has yet to receive a copy of the modified plan. It’s hard to understand how the Trust TheVillager.com

IMAGE COURTESY HUDSON RIVER PARK TRUST

A design rendering of Pier 57 from a presentation in Februar y 2016. Once the existing Pier 57, at W. 15th St., is redeveloped and opened in 2019, it will feature 110,000 square feet of outdoor space, including a green roof of usable public space. However, the pier will feature less open public area now that Google will be taking a significant por tion of the space formerly earmarked for a large food-vendors hall.

can present a revised land-use proposal for Pier 57 to Community Board 4 without having a plan to describe where different uses will be and how they will function, be accessed, managed, etc. I hope the Trust isn’t repeating the tactic used several years ago when it sought legislative support for amending the Hudson River Park Act to allow the reconfiguration of Pier 54 as a concert facility. Back then, the Trust kept private the plan for a new theater complex at the pier — to become known as Pier 55 — which it had spent two years developing in closed-door meetings with the Diller von Furstenberg Foundation. Instead of sharing the plan with legislators, the public employees working at the Trust showed elected officials a drawing on a napkin.

Woo’s winning proposal contemplates using stacked repurposed shipping containers in some areas of the pier shed in order to create approximately 300,000 square feet of ‘creative commerce’ space featuring restaurants, cultural and educational uses, and 2.5 acres of landscaped public rooftop… .

Put Chelsea Market on Pier 57 and Google in the market space.

Update Trust Web site I searched for additional information on the Trust’s Web site, but was disappointed to read a description of the project that was apparently more than five years old. It described the initial proposal made by Young Woo in 2009 with Pier 57 containing 7 acres of “creative commerce” https://hudsonriverpark.org/vision-and-progress/planningand-construction/meatpacking-district: “Following an extensive Request for Proposals process, followed by public review and business negotiations, the Trust selected Young Woo & Associates to develop the pier privately. Young

“Assuming the successful completion of the required environmental review process — currently in progress — Pier 57 will be transformed into a one-of-akind urban marketplace by 2015. Eight hundred permanent new jobs will be created at implementation.” The Trust should keep its Web site current, as it relates to proposed development projects. The description of this project should include the change in developers, which happened in 2015, and the replacement of “creative commerce”

space with “commercial offices.” Is the Trust’s failure to update the Web site and keep the public informed due to a lack of resources, or is it the Trust’s perception that everyone knows what’s happening due to the broad media attention this project has garnered, or is it just apathy, or a purposeful intention to misinform? Who knows. Looking further, in the Web section that describes the public review process for Pier 57, I found more recent information. However, it was a three-yearold technical memorandum to the Environmental Impact Statement, which stated that the development team now included RXR Realty and that the programmed uses of the pier were modified from what was initially proposed in the project’s initial E.I.S. In the section on land use, zoning and public policy, the memorandum stated, “The proposed modifications to the project’s program would include an introduction of approximately 207,000 gsf of commercial office use (including office lobby space and office space in the caissons)… .” However, the total amount of commercial office space now being built on Pier 57 is now much larger.

Public vs. private space The space dedicated to commercial offices in Pier 57 has grown to occupy PIER57 continued on p. 21 March 22, 2018

15


Wearin’ the Erin

PHOTOS BY MILO HESS

Faces, hats and Irish colors in the crowd at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Fifth Ave. this past weekend.

16

March 22, 2018

TheVillager.com


Cole’s ‘Buddy’ comedy burns forever bright Iconic character fronts Scott Thompson’s creative renaissance BY SCOTT STIFFLER That chatty, witty, ascot-wearing flamer perched on a stool at your friendly neighborhood gay bar has seen and done it all, since his arrival via the first generation of video camera confessors — and if he came onto the scene a few decades too early for YouTube personality status, hindsight has made his bygone takes on everything from social acceptance (“Respectability is for five-star hotels, not people.”) to vice (“Moderation — within reason.”) seem less the products of another era than contemporary declarations of forward-thinking pride and defiance. So show him some love when he comes to NYC April 1-3 for two shows and a book signing. After 30+ years, Charles Butterick “Buddy” Cole is still a source of highly quotable comedic monologues, delivered with a polarizing lisp (“Such a fuss over a few extra S’s!”) and the lubricating power of an omnipresent cocktail. “The truth is,” said Scott Thompson, Canadian-born writer/comedian and openly gay inhibitor of the uncompromisingly out Buddy, “a lot of people thought I was making fun of ‘that kind’ of a character, and they were offended by it. Other people thought that I was ‘sticking it to the fags,’ and they loved it for that. Almost no one thought that I was an actual gay man doing this character.” Although the “Acknowledgments” section of Buddy’s recently rereleased autobiography cites the character’s “humble beginnings in Paul’s basement,” that’s not technically accurate. “He lived in the basement,” Thompson clarified, of longtime friend and creative partner Paul Bellini. “So when someone lives in a basement, you still call it ‘the basement.’ Paul got a video camera in the mid-1980s, one of the first video cameras, and so we would go to his place and record stuff. And one day, he had his whole room painted blue, and all the paintings were blue, so I just started saying, ‘This is my blue phase.’ And I started talking like Buddy Cole, and I stared pretending that I was a vampire… so the TheVillager.com

Photo by Bruce Smith

Still flinging stingers after all these years: Buddy Cole’s look, and attitude, remains intact. See for yourself April 1 and 3 at Joe’s Pub.

original idea for Buddy Cole was that he was a 1,000-year-old gay vampire who’d lived through everything.” Death, however, would assert itself when it came to crafting Buddy. “It was the first time I’d ever done that kind of voice, or that kind of character. And I was really just imitating a guy that I’d met,” Thompson said, of that pivotal recording session in Bellini’s basement. “I had this affair with this guy, and I had really fallen for him. He was quite effeminate. I had never

really fallen for a really effeminate guy before. Not that I was butch.” They knew each other only briefly, Thompson noted. “He was a very powerful guy; not the nicest person on earth, but very, um, a very fascinating person… I remember, very clearly, it was like the second time we were together — he had a fever and he was very ill; and then, I guess, in many ways, it was probably the virus, you know, manifesting. But that was a long time ago. We didn’t know exactly what

was going on. And then he died very quickly. So that was the beginning of it. It was sort of an homage to him.” From that flash point, Buddy was further developed through more video sessions. “We would spend all day with Paul Bellini’s camera,” Thompson recalled. “We’d smoke pot and we’d go to places and we’d improvise… We’d all have this little ongoing story that we were doing for the camera. Everybody kind of had an alter ego. These were mostly gay men. And we would improvise for hours and hours, making these little movies. And I had never really done that,” Thompson said, of the on-camera creative process. “I found it interesting, because I was always afraid that if I started talking like that [Buddy], I would never be able to stop… I was still ashamed. I didn’t want to appear ‘gay.’ I think most of my life has been, you know, in many ways, an attempt to appear straight. And Buddy Cole was going, ‘I can’t pass!’ And he became a real voice for me, because in those days, you couldn’t really… You know, I’d probably be a stand-up comedian today if I was young.” (He’s actually done so lately, to critical acclaim.) “But back in those days, you could not [if you were gay], not if you were a male.” Ensemble work proved a freeing vehicle for Thompson, who was soon an out and visible artist (exceedingly rare for the time) creating a variety of characters — most notably, Buddy, for whom an early monologue was crafted with the help of Thompson’s thenroommate, Mark McKinney. Along with castmates Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch and Kevin McDonald, their “The Kids in the Hall” sketch comedy show earned a loyal (and still intense) following during its 1989 to 1995 run in various incarnations on CBS, HBO, Comedy Central, and Canada’s CBC. Grounded in the familiar worlds of work, family, and relationship dynamics, mundane premises were injected with uniquely eccentric twists (those waiting in a long line, for example, BUDDY COLE continued on p. 18 March 22, 2018

17


BUDDY COLE continued from p. 17

would welcome the appearance of a flying pig, purpose-driven to entertain â&#x20AC;&#x201D; until he hit a power line and was baked to a crisp, thus becoming their meal). Very little of the material reflected current events â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a conscious move that has kept their 1990s output accessible. Occasionally, however, Canadian attitudes on everything from flag burning to clean streets would assert themselves, leaving stateside audiences mildly perplexed. (Buddy once declared, â&#x20AC;&#x153;When Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m overseas and people mistake me for an American? Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m as outraged as when Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m mistaken for a straight.â&#x20AC;?) â&#x20AC;&#x153;That was a group ethic,â&#x20AC;? Thompson said, of the decision to exist largely apart from the specifics of their era. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We decided very early on we would try to make our stuff universal. We rarely referenced celebrities, things that were happening in the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;real world.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Because I think, maybe subconsciously, we knew that human nature doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really change â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sort of what we were thinking about, satirizing human natureâ&#x20AC;Ś and I think itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really worked for us, because our stuff, now, it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t seem datedâ&#x20AC;Ś Buddy Cole was one of the few things in the show that would occasionally reference the outside world.â&#x20AC;? And boy, did he. At the time, the particular way Thompson conducted himself as an out entertainer â&#x20AC;&#x201D; let alone one playing a character who gleefully exposed the mainstream to the quirks and excesses of gay culture â&#x20AC;&#x201D; was both progressive and subversive. In sketches that took him away from his signature gay bar environment, Buddy coached a lesbian softball team, leered at scantily clad muscle boys, orchestrated an affair between the Queen of England and his adopted son, Castor (a talking beaver!), and dressed down fellow desert island castaway Oscar Wilde (a foppish Dave Foley, whose

appearance earned the classic Buddy burn, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Do something about your hair. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s threatening to become more interesting than you.â&#x20AC;?). One very of-its-time Buddy monologue took then-popular stand-up comics Sam Kinison and Andrew Dice Clay to task for their hateful, homophobic material. Elsewhere on the contemporary TV landscape, Fox networkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;In Living Colorâ&#x20AC;? was garnering laughs with every quip from the flamboyant hosts of its â&#x20AC;&#x153;Men onâ&#x20AC;Śâ&#x20AC;? segment â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and on â&#x20AC;&#x153;SNL,â&#x20AC;? Dana Carvey was playing â&#x20AC;&#x153;Lyle, the Effeminate Heterosexual,â&#x20AC;? a walking punchline whose lisp and swish were the anomalies of an otherwise solid guyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s guy. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They got all the attention and they got all the applause,â&#x20AC;? Thompson noted, â&#x20AC;&#x153;but they were straight men mocking gay men.â&#x20AC;? He gives credit where itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s due, though: â&#x20AC;&#x153;I thought they [â&#x20AC;&#x153;Men onâ&#x20AC;Śâ&#x20AC;?] were hilarious. But they were coming at it from an outsider point of view. Buddy Cole comes from an insider point of view. They are very different spaces.â&#x20AC;? Widespread accolades from the gay community as well as name recognition by the wider culture eluded Buddy, and that still stings. Thompson acknowledges having been the recipient of kind words from â&#x20AC;&#x153;real peopleâ&#x20AC;? on the street, and is aware Buddy monologues were fi xtures on the video screens of gay bars across America â&#x20AC;&#x201D; â&#x20AC;&#x153;â&#x20AC;Śand that made me feel very, very goodâ&#x20AC;Ś But in terms of attention from the media or the gay powers that be? Zero.â&#x20AC;? Asked what he attributes that to, Thompson shot back: â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think, selfloathing; an inability for gay men to accept the way they truly are.â&#x20AC;? From porn to promiscuity, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Buddy Cole was spilling secrets that should have been kept secretâ&#x20AC;Ś a lot of gay men are just in complete denial about the way they appear. They really want to pretend that weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re all straight-acting and that you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t tell us apart. But itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not true.

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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Most gay men â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;readâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; gay â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the truth, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s my experienceâ&#x20AC;Ś and it would always, inevitably, it would be a guy that was quite effeminate, telling me he was offended. And Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d go, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Have you ever heard your voice on a tape recorder?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;? Neither a victim of his time nor beholden to others, NYC is the first stop on a national tour for the eternally outspoken Buddy, whose â&#x20AC;&#x153;Après le DĂŠluge: The Buddy Cole Monologuesâ&#x20AC;? plays Joeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pub April 1 and 3. Referencing the tourâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s name, Thompson noted, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;After the Flood,â&#x20AC;&#x2122; and I guess the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Floodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; is referring to the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;The Kids in the Hall.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; So itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s monologues Buddy has done since [1995, when â&#x20AC;&#x153;Kidsâ&#x20AC;? went off the air, to the present]. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re all monologues people arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t familiar withâ&#x20AC;Ś Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m always writing for him; and the world around Buddy changes drastically, but Buddy doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t budge an inch. His look doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t change. He doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really change, no. He doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t need to change. He was â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;wokeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; 30 years ago.â&#x20AC;? Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not to say Buddy and his creator donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t move with the times. Both have established themselves on various social media platforms, and, Thompson noted, â&#x20AC;&#x153;If Paul [Bellini] and I were young today, I think weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d probably have a YouTube channel.â&#x20AC;? But the unvarnished truth that was, and remains, Buddyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bread and butter plays very differently in todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s electronic ether than it once did on the TV screen. â&#x20AC;&#x153;People are so thin-skinned today,â&#x20AC;? Thompson said, sounding more disappointed than weary. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It makes me nervous in many ways, because youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re always thinking, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Is this going to be the tweet that brings me down?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;? No matter what the audience reaction is while performing live, Thomson said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t care. I am in control. But online, you have a person with 25 followers who can bring someone down because they are outraged. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why I have a Buddy Cole [Twitter] presence, because he doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t give a shit.â&#x20AC;? When we spoke with Thompson on an otherwise unremarkable Ides of March, he was â&#x20AC;&#x153;working on a new piece for the encore of the shows at Joeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pub. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s on the #MeToo movement.â&#x20AC;? As for his other NYC appearance, Thompson said he was â&#x20AC;&#x153;trying to get a couple of porn stars to accompany Buddyâ&#x20AC;? for an April 2 date at The Stonewall Inn, where heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll perform a monologue and sign copies of the rerelease (with new material) of his backstory-and-beyond, TV-unfriendly, 1998 tell-all memoir. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Buddy Babylon: The Autobiography of Buddy Coleâ&#x20AC;?

was co-written with Bellini, who not only went on to write for â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Kids in the Hall,â&#x20AC;? but figures into another upcoming project. With a non-â&#x20AC;&#x153;Kidsâ&#x20AC;? place in the pop culture pantheon secured by appearances as an out gay men on episodes of â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Simpsonsâ&#x20AC;? (three) and â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Larry Sanders Showâ&#x20AC;? (35), Thompson called the Buddy tour and what lies beyond part of his â&#x20AC;&#x153;creative renaissance.â&#x20AC;? In addition to a stand-up comedy album coming out next month (called â&#x20AC;&#x153;Not a Fanâ&#x20AC;?), a documentary will be released later this year featuring Mouth Congress, the band formed by Thompson and Bellini in the early â&#x20AC;&#x2122;80s (with overlap at the same time as the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Kidsâ&#x20AC;?). Thompson is also optimistic his screenplay will be brought into production. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s based on reality,â&#x20AC;? he noted. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an autobiographical movie. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a comedyâ&#x20AC;Śfunny, but not â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;just funny.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d call it more of a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Stand by Me.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been trying to get it made for a long, long time. But I finally found a great producer that understands it, and I think weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re very close to getting it made. I want to direct it. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s my goal.â&#x20AC;? Asked for details on the autobiographical aspect, Thompson said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;When I was a kid, I was in a shooting [1975, Centennial Secondary School in Ontario, Canada]. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s something thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s haunted me forever.â&#x20AC;? A related solo performance co-written with Bellini (â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Lowest Show on Earthâ&#x20AC;?), scheduled for a Sept. 2001 premiere in NYC, was cancelled after 9/11. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It never got seen,â&#x20AC;? he said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;but one of the main themes in that show was the high school shootingâ&#x20AC;Ś basically, about my relationship with violence.â&#x20AC;? Thompson has begun to address that subject matter again, most recently in his stand-up comedy. Calling March 14â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nationwide student walkout in the wake of the Parkland, FL shooting â&#x20AC;&#x153;extraordinary,â&#x20AC;? Thompson expressed hope that he, and others, could share their personal experiences and continue the conversation. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think now,â&#x20AC;? he noted, â&#x20AC;&#x153;weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re at a time when people will listen.â&#x20AC;? On Twitter, Scott Thompson can be found via @ScottThompson_ and @mrbuddycole. The Mon., April 2 book event is free and open to the public; 7-10pm at The Stonewall Inn (53 Christopher St., btw. Seventh Ave. South & Waverly Pl.). Buddy Coleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tour kicks off at 9:30pm on Sun., April 1 and Tues., April 3 at Joeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pub (425 Lafayette St., btw. Astor Pl. & E. Fourth St.). For tickets ($20), visit joespub.publictheater.org. Mouth Congress music can be found at mouthcongress.band.camp.com. TheVillager.com


Tales of Trump’s relentless rebirth A lesson not suitable for Sunday school BY MAX BURBANK To those of you who read my column on the regular (thanks, all six of you, sincerely), it may come as something of a shock that in addition to being an incisive writer of scathing satire, I am also Sunday school teacher. Admittedly, it’s an odd fit, as my writing demonstrates a dark turn of mind, and in addition I think I may have mentioned more than once, I’m a Jew. Thankfully it’s a Unitarian Universalist church, so officially they don’t care. Our church is lousy with Jews, pagans, and atheists — and I’m fairly certain Clifford is a satanist, and he’s on the Social Outreach Committee. In addition, as I often remind my students, Jews invented Christianity, so it is, as they say, “all good.” If it worries you that I am allowed to mold the minds of small children (and it worries me), you might be comforted to know I’m not very good at it. At least not lately. Partly it’s because I find even the smallest amount of preparation degrading, but mostly I think it’s where we are in the curriculum as juxtaposed with where we are in the history of the United States. The entire situation is depressing, but it did allow me to use the word “juxtaposed.” I take small comforts where I can, and advise you to do the same. Generally in March, my class is discussing the coming of spring and rituals of renewal in various religious traditions. Trees lose their leaves, plants wither and die, the sun hides beneath the horizon — but eventually, spring comes. The sun returns; The Phoenix rises from its ashes; Sun Gods (and sons of God) of all cultures are sacrificed and then reborn. We’re edging toward Easter in our classroom, but many UUs find too heavy an emphasis on our Christian roots tends to bring on the vapors, so we couch things. It’s important the children learn that every fun thing we do is lifted from some earlier, more colorful religious practice. One of these days I suppose it’s bound to dawn on us this practice smacks of cultural appropriation. We’ll feel vaguely uncomfortable, an emotional state that always makes us feel closer to the divine. Win, win. The irony is not lost on me that I’m writing the first draft of this article, the theme of which is ostensibly the metaphorical coming of spring, during the third massive nor’easter this year. Soon I’ll need to choose between torturing my two ridiculous little dogs by walkTheVillager.com

now. You know what I’m talking about. America is tossed before a howling political blizzard of stupidity. It’s impossible to focus on which piece of lowest-common-denominator, proto-fascist garbage hurtling toward us at hurricane force speed is the one I should write my next column about, or if the one I didn’t see directly behind it is far more massive and potentially lethal. Is it Stormy (You see? Pathetic fallacies everywhere!) Daniels

ing them in an ice storm like I’m Sir-Ernest-God-Damn-HenryShackleton forcing his woebegone sled dogs toward the South Pole, or just letting them happily crap in the house. Does either option sound very rebirthful to you? You might recall the term “pathetic fallacy” from your high school English class — a personification attributing human emotion to inanimate forces of nature, such as huge-ass, bomb-cyclone, ball-buster, ice-bastard storms hell-bent on freezing me solid and then smashing me to pieces the way you dip a dead fish in liquid nitrogen and hurl it against the wall of your ex’s apartment (something I most certainly have never done). These storms serve to reinforce the general feeling of dread I’ve been breathing like bitterly frigid air for over a year

Illustration by Max Burbank

I should be writing about? Is a porn star suing the sitting president of the United States of America to release her from a non-disclosure agreement that in and of itself is almost certainly a $130,000 violation of campaign finance law columnworthy? If she wins the right to speak freely about how Trump cheated with her on his third wife who was at home caring for their newborn son, will that hold the national attention span from my deadline to press time? No! Because trade wars are good and easy to win! I’d write about it, but while you were blowing your morning coffee out your nose over that one, our sundried Clementine-in-Chief announced

(without consulting any of his staff) he’ll meet with Kim Jong-un! Two megalomaniacal, narcissistic, world-leading toddler-men who don’t share a language locked in a room having a nuclear button-measuring contest! What could go wrong?! And if I’m going to write about that, I’ll need to do a quick rewrite, because shortly after announcing the meeting, Trump decided we’d be going into it without a Secretary of State! We can celebrate come Veterans Day with a giant North Korean-style military parade, unless we’ve already used up all those soldiers and ordinance on, you know, a WORLD WAR! That should be this column right there, but suppose Trump draws national attention away by committing some brand new unpredictable, vindictive, childish act of obstruction of justice, like firing FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe less than 24 hours before he was due to retire with a full pension and OH MY GOD THAT LITERALLY HAPPENED WHILE I WAS WRITING THIS SENTENCE! What’s next? What act of lunacy happened between when I turned this column in and when it went to print? Something will have — something so nuts it will push all that other crap right off the new cycle! And that’s when it hit me: Trump is the Anti-Easter. Every awful iteration of Trump dies, its significance paled to invisibility as a new, dramatically worse version of Trump is reborn. Every massive blizzard we survive is forgotten as a larger storm engulfs us. Our president is a perpetually reborn Sun God of a sort — a dark sun; a black light shedding headache-inducing, ultraviolet illumination across a flocked, black-velvet-postertype dystopia. Do you suppose if I teach that lesson in Sunday school, I’ll at last get fired? Maybe. But they didn’t fire me when my Christmas pageant featured a Trump/ Caesar pushing his census as the groundwork for the “biggest, most beautiful tax reform any Caesar in Roman history ever passed, something the fake news media won’t tell you.” Maybe instead, I’ll tell the kids to be wary of metaphors in general and always weigh them against stark reality. Even at Easter, if a rabbit leaves something small and round on your lawn, don’t eat it. That’s not candy. March 22, 2018

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Pier ‘office building’? PIER57 continued from p. 15

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the vast majority of the space within the pier. That’s quite amazing considering the city’s waterfront zoning won’t allow this type of nonwater dependent uses anywhere else on our waterfront. The 300,000 square feet initially envisioned as “creative commerce” has incrementally become 320,000 square feet of commercial office space. While I imagine that the office space occupied by Google will be a type of “creative commerce,” the offices will not be accessible to the public. Retail and public market spaces are both, by their nature, places that welcome the public. The number of people visiting Hudson River Park is averaging 17 million a year. Even in an e-commerce era, retailers, restaurateurs, artisans and merchants still rely on footfall to market their services, sell their goods and encourage impulse buying. These spaces actively encourage public visitation. Commercial office buildings are not public spaces. Private companies are generally concerned about employee productivity and safety, liability and maintaining the confidentiality of proprietary information developed in the workplace. Commercial offices are, by their nature, private spaces. When RXR Realty joined the project as a development partner, Pinsky told Crain’s, “having traffic from office tenants to the pier would help energize its retail spaces. Conversely, office tenants would be drawn to the location by the thriving retail. The two components help activate each other. The goal here is to attract the kinds of creative businesses that have become such drivers of the city’s economy.” Last month, Pinsky told The Villager, “Unfortunately, in talking to the Bourdain team and other operators, we repeatedly heard that a food hall of this scale was simply not financeable… .” It’s interesting that the nearby Chelsea Market is about the same size as the market proposed by Mr. Bourdain and seems successful. With the paucity of public information available, I can’t tell if the 800 permanent new jobs promised by the developer in 2009 will materialize. I’m sure that new job creation was an important criteria in the initial selection of Young Woo & Associates as the developer of Pier 57. The current revised project will certainly create permanent new jobs but there will probably be quite a few existing Google employees relocated to the pier. It would be great to know how many permanent new jobs the project is currently estimated to cre-

ate.

Move market to Pier 57? Google recently purchased the building that houses Chelsea Market, which is virtually right across the West Side Highway from Pier 57 and the park. The Bourdain proposal for Pier 57 was a 140,000-square-foot public market and Chelsea Market currently occupies 104,000 square feet of space at its existing location. Relocating the Chelsea Market to Pier 57 would seem like a perfect fit and may even relieve the current market traffic that clogs local streets. The space currently occupied by Chelsea Market, in the building recently purchased by Google, is closer to Google’s existing headquarters. Perhaps Google should consider relocating Chelsea Market to Pier 57 and developing the space that the market currently occupies into new office space? This way the space on the river would remain open to the public while Google gets the room it needs to securely expand closer to home. I agree that Google, and all the other adjacent landowners, should provide financial support for the Hudson River Park. But not by occupying it. They should contribute to the park as good neighbors whose property values, corporate image and employees’ health and happiness benefit from having a magnificent waterfront park at their front door. New York City should never be forced to relive the devastation visited on public parks, including Central Park, Union Square and Bryant Park, in the ’70s and ’80s when the public failed to adequately invest in maintenance, programming and capital replacement of parks.

Already self-sustaining In that same 2015 Crain’s article, Madelyn Wils, the president and C.E.O. of the Hudson River Park Trust, said. “This partnership is another step toward moving us closer to fulfilling our mission as a self-sustaining park.” The rationale for the Trust’s continued commercialization of the Hudson River Park is this oft-told myth that the park is required to pay for itself. As I described in my March 2013 Villager talking point, “Why is funding the Hudson River Park so contentious?” nothing could be further from the truth. The Trust’s continued repetition of this falsehood, as has become increasingly common in politics these days, doesn’t make it so. PIER57 continued on p. 23 March 22, 2018

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Pier as ‘office building’? PIER57 continued from p. 21

Tax revenue generated by the appreciation of the inboard property was initially recommended to help finance the park, complemented by revenue generated from limited recreational, maritime and entertainment uses at specific locations in the park. The areas for limited development within the park were designated to provide supplemental financial support of the park. The first, and only, development node to be completed to date is Chelsea Piers, which opened on July 12, 1994. The city did rezone all of the property inboard of the West Side Highway to maximize the revenue generated by our public investment in the Hudson River Park. Hudson Yards, Hudson Square and the upzoning of the Far West Village, Chelsea, Clinton and Tribeca are generating hundreds of millions for developers and increased real estate taxes for the city. However, none of that money has been dedicated to the park. The Hudson River Park is only 70 percent complete and it’s being abandoned to privatization. The continued commercialization of what was planned to be a magnificent public park will almost surely kill the goose that laid this golden egg.

Public facing space? While Ms. Wils has no previous professional park experience, she may have created a new term for the lexicon of urban parks with “public facing space.” When more information is made available I hope to better understand the concept of public facing space versus what she called “true public space.” Google will apparently take over the programming of 50,000 square feet of “public facing space” to support cultural events and educational programs, including 24,000 square feet for studio rehearsal space for local performing arts organizations. According to a Trust spokesperson, public facing space is “space to which the public is anticipated to have access either all or some of the time. So, for example,

Google is currently planning to use a portion of the caissons as demonstration space. It will be open to people from outside Google from time to time. Though specific programming and schedules have not been finalized, examples could be YouTube studios that the public could come to tour, or exhibition space for Google products and technologies that the public would be invited to visit.” (An engineering marvel, the caissons are basically three giant floating concrete boxes anchored below the waterline that Pier 57 sits atop.) I think that it would be preferable for the Trust to manage, operate and program spaces in the park that will be available to the public. If that space will be used by Google some of the time, the Trust should develop a formula for public versus private usage of the space. It is important to build the Trust’s capacity, rather than offload these responsibilities to the private sector. It would be unfortunate if that space was primarily used to promote and sell Google’s products and services. A strong public / private partnership is generally most productive, and successful, when the private sector provides the required resources and creative energy, while the public sector contributes its talent and protects the public good. I trust that balance will be struck at Pier 57 and look forward to reviewing the newly proposed plan and program for the pier. Most important, I hope this is not an example of New York City’s joining a troubling national trend that appears to be gaining momentum — exploiting public lands for private gain. Fox was a citizen appointee to the West Side Task Force in 1986, and the West Side Waterfront Panel from 198890; the first president of the Hudson River Park Conservancy (which completed the General Project Plan for the park) from 1992-95; a member of the Hudson River Park Alliance (which supported the park’s founding legislation) from 199698; a founding board member of Friends of Hudson River Park from 1999-2011, and, more recently, a plaintiff in the litigation regarding Pier 55 Inc.

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

JUST THE FAX, MA’AM: Reader Robert Smith called us last week to ask if we had any idea where Doris Diether was. Smith had been calling the legendary C.B. 2 zoning maven, who is 89, but to no avail. “I got a card from her on Valentine’s Day and I’ve called and been unable to get through to her,” he said. He said he’d been checking “Page 2” — not the Post’s Page Six, but Scoopy’s Notebook — which always has all the TheVillager.com

latest Doris reports, but found nothing new there about her. We suggested calling the C.B. 2 office, where District Manager Bob Gormley usually has the Doris details, and then to get back to us with what he found out. “They said her phone was down, but you can reach her by her fax,” he reported. He tried calling her that way, but just got the fax tone, so figured she was probably out. But Smith said he’s glad that at least he now knows what was going on. “Why don’t they fix her goddamn phone?” he wondered. March 22, 2018

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