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The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, Vill l l ag ll age e,, East E as a s t Village, V llage, Lower East Vi Eas Side, Soho, Union Square, Ch Chinatown h in i n at a t own o w n and ow an a n d Noho, N o ho No h o , Since S nce 1933 Si 19 1 93 33 3

May 17, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 20

Silver twice tarnished as jury convicts him following speedy trial BY COLIN MIXSON


isgraced Downtown power broker Sheldon Silver was convicted on corruption charges — for a second time — on May 14, after a jury found him guilty — again — of engaging in a quidpro-quo corruption scheme that netted him millions of

dollars in return for political favors. The once-powerful former Assembly speaker who served Lower Manhattan for three decades was first convicted of accepting some $4 million in kickbacks from real estate developers and a mesothelioma SILVER continued on p. 5

Secretary’s gift will fund students’ college dreams ‘in perpetuity’ BY LESLEY SUSSMAN


Brooklyn legal secretary who amassed a secret $8 million fortune during her life, left more than $6 million to the Henry Street Settlement for low-income youths’ college scholarships. Sylvia Bloom worked for the same law firm 67 7 years unun

til retiring at age 96. She died shortly afterward in 2016. It’s the largest single estate gift in the 125 years of the settlement, at 40 Montgomery St. Bloom’s close friends and relatives did not know she had such a fortune. She was the third employee hired by the GIFT con continued on p. 10


“Sens and the Cit y”: C ynthia Nixon, seen this month in Union Square at the Cannabis Parade, in April announced legalizing pot as the first major polic y issue of her gubernatorial campaign. V.I.D. also endorsed her last week. See Pages 2 and 4.

L of a lot of issues raised at town hall BY SYDNEY PEREIR A


ransit and transportation agency heads Andy Byford and Polly Trottenberg last Wednesday faced an auditorium packed with residents asking tough questions about what has been described by some as the greatest transit challenge in the city’s history — the L train shutdown. “I can say this is one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever seen,” Trottenberg, com-

New School food fight..............p. 3

missioner of the city’s Department of Transportation, told the May 9 town hall, at The New School, at 66 W. 12th St. “This is one that’s fairly unprecedented, and I think both entities have agreed that we need some really unprecedented solutions.” Trottenberg, along with Byford, president of the New York City Transit Authority, and other city officials fielded three hours of questions about the shutdown plan.

Under the plan, the L train would be shut down between Bedford and Eighth Aves. for 15 months starting in April 2019, so that the Canarsie Tunnel, under the East River, can be repaired. The city’s proposed mitigation plan, or “service plan,” would increase subway service on the J, M, G and C lines; add ferry service from North Williamsburg to E. 20th St.; create high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV-3) car lanes LTRAIN continued on p. 6

Glenn Branca, 69, avant-garde music icon.........p. 8 RID leader Rashomon; Did she raise cane?...... p. 11 www.TheVillager.com

González to stop doing his act on the Washington Square Arch has gotten their wish. The park’s “Living Statue” has thrown in the proverbial towel — in his case, marble-hued — and plans to return to his native Puerto Rico, where they apparently appreciate mimes mucho more. Figueroa-González was arrested Fri., April 13, after police ordered him to get down from the park’s Arch, but he continued his performance, wanting to complete it first. He has been posting on Facebook about his plans to return to the Island.

WOMEN WIN AT V.I.D.: Three days after last week’s big town hall for statewide candidates at P.S. 41, the Village Independent Democrats endorsed an all-woman ticket of Cynthia Nixon for governor and Kathy Hochul for lieutenant governor. Nixon got 20 votes to Andrew Cuomo’s 3, though a large number of club members, 15, didn’t really like either candidate, voting no endorsement. In the L.G. Democratic primary election, 20 V.I.D.’ers backed Hochul to 14 for City Councilmember Jumaane Williams, with four no endorsements. Said Erik Coler, the club’s president, “The endorsements of Cynthia Nixon and Kathy Hochul mirrors what we’re seeing across the nation. It is the year of the woman. There is a great enthusiasm at V.I.D. for female candidates.”

ADIOS, NEW YORK: Well, that’s it. Whoever wanted Johan Figueroa-

PROBE PROBLEMS, ETC.: Speaking of the governor’s race, we recently bumped into Randy Credico at a Friday night dinner. He said he was surprised he wasn’t invited to the V.I.D. town hall, but that, well, he would probably be dropping out of the running, anyway, before long. Credico continues to insist Nixon is a terrible public speaker — but, well, we felt she did fine at the Village forum. As one person put it, “She’s an actor. Of course, she’s a good speaker.” Meanwhile, former East Village activist John Penley tells us he’s sure that Credico — wearing his other (unwanted?) “Russiagate” hat — is talking to Special Counsel Robert Mueller about G.O.P. lobbyist and Donald Trump ally Roger Stone. Stone, who continues to be in the crosshairs of Mueller’s never-ending probe, recently was “threatening” Credico — and his little dog, Bianca, too — Penley noted. Stone has called Credico his “back channel” to WikiLeaks’ Julian


The “Living Statue” won’t be hanging around Washington Square Park — or even the Big Apple, for that matter — anymore after his arrest in the park last month.



Photograph by Layla Kovacevic



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May 17, 2018

Assange, who dumped reams of e-mails online from Hillary Clinton’s campaign during the election. However, both Credico and Martin Stolar, his attorney, denied the stand-up comic-turned-radio journo is narcing out Stone to the feds. When we asked Stolar about it, he burst out laughing. “That rumor is one I would call high speculation and bulls---,” he scoffed. “I would know. I’ve had lots of clients do things behind my back, but it ain’t there. This is absurd.” For his part, Credico told us, “I’m not talking to Mueller. I just spent two hours speaking to the Wall Street Journal to clear that up. Stone is paranoid. … I’m going to the Kettle of Fish.” Credico was also tossed out of the recent White House Correspondents’ Dinner after he jumped up and angrily demanded to know why no one there was defending Assange. He was also incensed that no media got a photo of his arrest!

P.B., THE PLACE TO BE: The announcement of the winners of this year’s Participatory Budgeting process for City Council District 3 (the Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen) will be held at Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s

West Side Summit, on the High Line, at 14th St., at 1 p.m. on Sun., May 20. Meanwhile, Marni Halasa, the Chelsea Piers skating instructor / ubiquitous costumed activist, who ran against Johnson last year, recently told us — at that same regular Friday night dinner, though one a few weeks before the one Credico attended — that she wants to do an analysis of the “P.B.” ballot items that come up for a vote in District 3, because usually most of them are in Chelsea. We have noticed that, too, in recent years. Actually, we hear from Johnson’s office that there’s a reason for it: The Robert Fulton Houses and Chelsea-Elliot Houses are in Chelsea, and are among the district’s neediest areas. We’re also informed there is a local committee of residents identifies the specific P.B. items for each go-round, and that anyone can participate.

CORRECTION: Last week’s article on the candidates town hall said Nixon pledged that, under her, the state would be on track to have 100 percent renewable energy by 2015. That’s one campaign promise that sure would be hard to keep. In fact, she said by 2050. TheVillager.com

Occupiers pan New School cafeteria contract deal BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


hey have some serious beef with The New School. New School students, joined by union activists and students from other schools, including Columbia and CUNY, have been picketing outside the University Center, on Fifth Ave. between 13th and 14th Sts., in support of New School cafeteria workers. Last Friday, the protesters threatened to block traffic on Fifth Ave. Students have been occupying the University Center’s cafeteria and calling for a shutdown of the entire school unless an acceptable contract for the cafeteria workers is negotiated. “Students and workers of the occupation absolutely refuse to believe any promises from New School administration, who have continually offered us nothing but lies,� read a statement from the protesters last week. “The occupation will continue until the school has signed a contract that guarantees jobs for all of the workers, higher wages and


Picketers outside The New School’s University Center last Friday.

benefits, as well as tuthe same b vouchers for their families. ition vouch In addition, workers and students demand that tha the current kitchen management be replaced and that managemen and workers be involved students an making and runin the decision deci ning of the cafeteria.� Protesters fear the school’s Protester long-term plan, once the new expires, is to de-unionize contract exp the cafeteria cafeter by taking the jobs “in-house� and making workers compete for them. As of this Tuesday, the occupation was still st going on, according to The Occupied New School Facebook page. Cafeteria Fa “The New School says that we to occupy despite are continuing continu their offer of a ‘positive resoo lution,’� a statement on lut the page read. “Their t resolution is far from positive for the cafeteria workers, who have ABSOLUTELY NOT asked us to stop occupying. If admin o wants us out, they can meet our demands!� One of their demands is for an investigation of alleged sexual assault by a current cafeteria worker.

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My 17, 2018


Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association Editorials, First Place, 2017 Best Column, First Place, 2017 Best Obituaries, First Place, 2017 News Story, First Place, 2015 Editorial Pages, First Place, 2015 Editorials, First Place, 2014 News Story, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011



‘Sens and the City’: Free the weed!


arlier this month, the NYC Cannabis Parade and Rally took over Union Square, before the partying participants, trailing a cloud of smoke, then marched a short distance down to Washington Square — luckily, without getting lost. Among the bud brigade was omnipresent activist Marni Halasa, who o spread her green

wings in support of freeing the green weed. The month before, Cynthia Nixon, who is running in the September Democratic primary against Governor Andrew Cuomo, announced legalizing recreational marijuana as the first major policy issue of her campaign. This week the Manhattan and Brooklyn district attorneys both bo said they won’t prosecute

low-level arrests for smoking pot in public or pot possession. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neill are on board with the decision. Nixon and the D.A.’s say pot arrests disproportionately impact blacks and Latinos. Governor Cuomo is said to be reconsidering his position on the issue now that nearby states are legalizing weed.

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The Villager (USPS 578930) ISSN 0042-6202 Copyright © 2018 by the NYC Community Media LLC is published weekly by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201. 52 times a year. Business and Editorial Offices: One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201. Accounting and Circulation Offices: NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201. Call 718-260-2500 to subscribe. Periodicals postage prices is paid at New York, N.Y. Postmaster: Send address changes to The Villager, One Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201 Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $29 ($35 elsewhere). Single copy price at office and newsstands is $1. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2018 NYC Community Media LLC. PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR

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May 17, 2018


Now twice tarnished, Silver gets convicted again SILVER continued from p. 1

doctor in 2015. But Silver managed to buck the jury’s guilty verdict on appeal, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling that narrowed the definition of corruption. An appeals court ruled in 2017 that jurors had received improper instructions on what does and does not constitute corruption. But former Deputy U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said the court’s decision was not based on lack of evidence, and vowed a retrial. Silver’s second trial lasted a brisk five days, and resulted in a unanimous verdict from jurors, according to U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman. “Sheldon Silver...took an oath to act in the best interests of the people of New York State,” Berman said. “As a unanimous jury found, he sold his public office for private greed.” Governor Andrew Cuomo, alongside whom Silver once ruled the Empire State as one of the so-called “three men in a room” — and who is himself facing scrutiny for corruption allegations —condemned the former Assembly speaker’s pay-to-play schemes in a one-line press release. “The justice system shows no one is above the law,” Cuomo said. On his way out of the courthouse following his second conviction, Silver vowed to file yet another appeal, according to a New York Times report. “I’m very confident the judicial process will play out in my favor,” he told the Times.


Former New York State A ssembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, second from left, leaves Manhattan Federal Cour t after being found guilty of all charges in his retrial on the afternoon of Fri., May 11. The other three people with him are his legal team, including Michael S. Feldberg, second from right.

COMBINED NOTICE OF INTENT TO REQUEST RELEASE OF FUNDS AND FINAL NOTICE AD PUBLIC EXPLANATION OF A PROPOSEDACTIVITY IN A 100-YEAR FLOODPLAIN EAST RIVER PARK COMPOSTING FACILITY East River Park, Manhattan New York County, New York May 18, 2018 Name of Responsible Entity and Recipient: New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), 38-40 State Street, Hampton Plaza, Albany, NY 12207, in cooperation with the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation (HTFC), of the same address. Contact: Lori A. Shirley (518) 474-0755. The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR), an office of HCR’s HTFC, is responsible for the direct administration of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program in New York State. On or about May 29, the HCR certifying officer will submit a request and certification to HUD for the release of CDBG-DR funds appropriated under Public Law 113-2, as amended and as authorized by related laws and policies for the purpose of implementing the New York CDBG-DR Action Plan. Project Description: GOSR proposes to provide CDBG-DR funding for the construction of a stormwater treatment garden, shade garden, compost bins, outdoor education pavilion, leachate collection system, drainage improvements, and water supply at the existing Lower East Side Ecology Center composting facility located within East River Park, Manhattan, New York (the “Proposed Project”). A large part of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, East River Park sustained significant flooding during Hurricane Sandy because of storm surge. The project will directly contribute to the rebuilding and recovery of the area with a focus on resiliency and mitigation. This Proposed Project is estimated to have a total cost of $2,100,000, with approximately $1,000,000 being provided by CDBG-DR and the remaining $1,100,000 to be provided by NYC. The Proposed Project is categorically excluded from the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) by HUD regulations at 24 C.F.R. Part 58. An Environmental Review Record (ERR) that documents the environmental determinations for this project is on file and available for review and copying in person. Pursuant to 24 CFR Section 58.43, this combined Notice of Intent to Request Release of Funds (NOI-RROF) and Final Notice and Public Explanation of a Proposed Activity in a Floodplain satisfies two separate procedural requirements for project activities proposed to be undertaken by HCR. Public Review: Public viewing of project related documents is available online at http://stormrecovery.ny.gov/environmental-docs and is also available in person Monday – Friday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM at the following address: Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, 38-40 State Street, Hampton Plaza, Albany, NY 12207. Contact: Lori A. Shirley (518) 474-0755. Further information may be requested by writing to the above address, emailing NYSCDBG_DR_ER@nyshcr.org or by calling (518) 474-0755. This combined notice is being sent to individuals and groups known to be interested in these activities, local news media, appropriate local, state and federal agencies, the regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency having jurisdiction, and to the HUD Field Office, and is being published in a newspaper of general circulation in the affected community. Public Comments on NOIRROF: Any individual, group or agency may submit written comments on the Project. Comments should be submitted via email, in the proper format, on or before May 25, 2018 at NYSCDBG_DR_ER@nyshcr.org. Written comments may also be submitted at the following address, or by mail, in the proper format, to be received on or before May 25, 2018: Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, 99 Washington Avenue, Suite 1224, Albany, New York 12260. Comments may be received by telephone by contacting Lori A. Shirley at (518) 474-0755. All comments must be received on or before 5 pm on May 25, 2018 or they will not be considered. If modifications result from public comment, these will be made prior to proceeding with the expenditure of funds. FINAL NOTIFICATION OF A PROPOSED ACTIVITY IN A 100-YEAR FLOODPLAIN This is to give notice that the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR) is conducting an evaluation as required by Executive Order 11988 and Executive Order 11990 in accordance with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Renewal (HUD) regulations under 24 CFR 55.20 Subpart C - Procedures for Making Determinations on Floodplain Management and Protection of Wetlands, to determine the potential effects that its activity in the floodplain would have on the human and natural environment. The Proposed Activity will result in temporary impacts to 0.30 acres of 100-year floodplain. The Proposed Activity will result in permanent impacts to 0.65 acres of 100-year floodplain. The permanent impacts are associated with the deck, pavilions, asphalt around the outdoor education pavilion, composting bins, and leach collection system. The shade garden and stormwater treatment garden will provide additional permeable surface to reduce the quantity of stormwater and flood waters that would otherwise collect on the composting facility. No impacts to wetlands are anticipated to occur through the implementation of the Proposed Activity. Applicable permits from the New York City Department of Parks and Creation and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will be acquired before work is commenced. The Applicant will be bound by any permit stipulations or mitigation measures listed in permits acquired for this project. Additionally, ground disturbance will be minimized by placing fabric down in areas where temporary roads will be installed. There are three primary purposes for this notice. First, people who may be affected by activities in floodplains/ wetlands and those who have an interest in the protection of the natural environment have an opportunity to express their concerns and provide information about these areas. Second, adequate public notice is an important public education tool. The dissemination of information and request for public comment about floodplains/ wetlands can facilitate and enhance federal efforts to reduce the risks associated with the occupancy and modification of these special areas. Third, as a matter of fairness, when the federal government determines it will participate in actions taking place in floodplains/ wetlands, it must inform those who may be put at greater or continued risk. A draft Floodplain Management Plan (8-step process) documenting compliance with Executive Order 11988 as well as a floodplains map based on the FEMA Base Flood Elevation Maps have been prepared for this project and are available for review at http://www.stormrecovery.ny.gov/environmental-docs. Public Comments on Floodplain Management Plan: Prior to finalization on May 25, 2018, any individual, group, or agency may submit written comments on the Draft Floodplain Management & Wetland Protection Plan to Lori A. Shirley, Certifying Officer, Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, 99 Washington Avenue, Suite 1224, Albany, New York 12260, 9:00 AM- 5:00 PM; email: NYSCDBG_DR_ER@nyshcr.org; phone: (518) 474-0755. All comments must be received no later than May 25, 2018. Environmental Certification: HCR certifies to HUD that Lori A. Shirley, in her capacity as Certifying Officer, consents to accept the jurisdiction of the U.S. federal courts if an action is brought to enforce responsibilities in relation to the environmental review process and that these responsibilities have been satisfied. HUD’s approval of the certification satisfies its responsibilities under NEPA and related laws and authorities, and allows GOSR to use CDBG-DR program funds. Objection to Release of Funds: HUD will accept objections to its release of funds and GOSR’s certification for a period of fifteen days following the anticipated submission date or its actual receipt of the request (whichever is later). Potential objectors may contact HUD or the GOSR Certifying Officer to verify the actual last day of the objection period. The only permissible grounds for objections claiming a responsible entity’s non-compliance with 24 CFR Part 58 are: (a) Certification was not executed by HCR’s Certifying Officer; (b) the responsible entity has omitted a step or failed to make a decision or finding required by HUD regulations at 24 CFR Part 58; (c) the responsible entity has committed funds or incurred costs not authorized by 24 CFR Part 58 before release of funds and approval of environmental certification; or (d) another Federal agency acting pursuant to 40 CFR Part 1504 has submitted a written finding that the project is unsatisfactory from the standpoint of environmental quality. Objections must be prepared and submitted in accordance with the required procedures (24 CFR Part 58) and shall be addressed to Tennille Smith Parker, Director, Disaster Recovery and Special Issues Division, Office of Block Grant Assistance, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW, Washington, DC 20410, Phone: (202) 402-4649. Lori A. Shirley Certifying Officer May 18, 2018


My 17, 2018


L of a lot of issues raised at town hall on L train LTRAIN continued from p. 1

on and add three new bus routes over the Williamsburg Bridge, with 70 buses per hour crossing the bridge; install a two-way protected crosstown bike lane on 13th St.; and turn 14th St. into a “busway” between Third and Eighth Aves. Well represented at the town hall was the 14th St. Coalition, an ad-hoc group of Chelsea and Village residents that recently sued D.O.T., N.Y.C.T.A., the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Federal Transit Administration over the L train shutdown plan. The coalition is suing over the lack of an environmental impact statement, or E.I.S., having been done, as well as the plan’s failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as the Villager has previously reported. In addition to the Village and Chelsea coalition members, residents from all over Downtown Manhattan and some from Brooklyn, too, showed up to ask questions. “We were really glad about that,” said Judy Pesin, cochairperson of the 14th St. Coalition. “We were glad that the forum gave the M.T.A. and D.O.T. the chance to really hear the community’s concerns from them — not just from a few of us on the coalition.” Pesin and other coalition members have said the coalition has been mischaracterized as a handful of NIMBY residents. But for Pesin, who lives on 13th St., the town hall made her hopeful that transit officials will balance the needs of commuters and Manhattan residents. “That’s what we’ve been asking for,” she said. “They’ve told us the plans are not cut in stone. We’re hoping to see these concerns reflected in revisions.” However, some said the event offered nothing new and that concerns without a factual basis were repeatedly raised. “The redundancy is incredibly frustrating,” said Philip Leff, a North Brooklyn volunteer activist for Transportation Alternatives. “Wednesday night did not move the debate at all. It was just another rehashing of tired, old stereotypes,” he said. “We just need D.O.T. and M.T.A. to stick to the real data and make a plan that benefits the 400,000 New Yorkers that rely on the L every day.” Doors opened for the meeting at 5:30 p.m. and it began around 6:30 p.m. Some residents had to wait until 9:30 p.m. to ask their questions. Village and Chelsea residents were particularly concerned how restricting cars from the 14th St. dedicated busway would affect the one-way side streets to the north and south of the crosstown corridor. “My concern was that, with all of that increased traffic, what will the M.T.A. and D.O.T. — really, the D.O.T. — be doing to mitigate some of that local impact on our side streets,” said Mike Hartigan, a 15th St. resident and member of the 14th St. Coalition. Hartigan, among others, noted that the area’s side streets are already overburdened and dealing with traffic issues, including a lack of enforcement against trucks illegally parking and driving on them. Fourteenth St. being the borderline between a number of police precincts, Hartigan said, puts the surrounding area in a sort of “limbo zone.” Several times during the town hall, Inspector Dennis Fulton, from the Police Department’s Transportation Bureau, said he would report the trucks-enforcement issue on 15th St. to the local precinct. Trottenberg said D.O.T. is still determining exactly what the agency would do to mitigate traffic impacts north and south of 14th St. She stressed that the plan’s flexibility would allow changes to be made during the shutdown, such as to ramp up changes or scale them back. For Hartigan, however, Trottenberg’s answer did not reassure him that the agencies would take action if the plan turns out to be a disaster.


May 17, 2018


At the Village town hall, Polly Trottenberg, the cit y’s Transpor tation commissioner, fielded local residents’ questions about the impact of the proposed mitigation plan for the expected L train shutdown. A large coalition of residents is suing to block the entire plan.

Trottenberg several times noted, without too many specifics, that D.O.T. has a “toolkit” of traffic-mitigation measures. Hartigan said she could have elaborated on that more, but added, “I am thankful that they are doing more community outreach.” In his question to Trottenberg, Hartigan pointed out the M.T.A estimates there would be a 33 percent increase in the number of cars on 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th Sts. if the busway was implemented on 14th St. busway between Third and Eighth Avenues between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.

‘You’re ramming something down our throats.’ Susan Finley

The same traffic analysis, published in February, states that if just 3 percent to 5 percent of morning peak-hour bus riders opt for cabs or Ubers should 14th St. buses get stuck in traffic, making no changes to existing 14th St. transportation usage could be worse for side streets than the proposed busway. On the other hand, crosstown travel delays would drop by 51 percent during morning and evening peak rush hours with the busway versus doing no changes on 14th St., according to the report. The M.T.A.’s traffic analysis considered the overall picture of Manhattan streets, with a particular focus on

travel times rather than specific increases of the number of cars. The analysis determined that a 14th St. busway between Third and Eighth and Ninth Aves. would be most efficient. Residents repeatedly raised environmental and airquality concerns about the proposed increase of buses along the routes from the Williamsburg Bridge through Downtown and the Village to 14th St. The coalition’s lawsuit includes some of these concerns, as well. Some 200 buses were purchased for the shutdown, only 15 of which will be electric buses, as The Villager previously reported. At the town hall, Byford said he would look into increasing the number of electric and natural gas buses for the L train mitigation plan. Residents have complained that commuters’ needs have been prioritized over their own, and that residents’ concerns have not been heard or incorporated into the plan in a meaningful way. “I don’t understand if this is a recovery effort or city planning — where you’re ramming something down our throats and sidestepping an environmental impact statement,” Susan Finley, co-founder of the Flatiron Alliance, said at the town hall. Finley, also a member of the coalition suing the agencies, reiterated concerns about historic, narrow side streets and old underground infrastructure being unable to handle the increased car and bus traffic, and fears that the temporary plans would become permanent after the shutdown. “No one wants to ram anything down anyone’s throat,” Trottenberg responded, apologizing that the city needs to repair the L train after it was inundated with saltwater during Hurricane Sandy. “We didn’t just dream this all up for no reason.” Rather, she said, some 400,000 L train riders — 225,000 of whom go through the Canarsie Tunnel every day — need a new way to commute. “We’ve said here that we think everything is going to be temporary,” Trottenberg said, adding that at the project’s end, the transit and transportation agencies could re-engage the community about what could possibly stay permanent. Yet, at the same time, she assured, “But the things we’ve said are temporary, they are temporary.” Though residents are concerned about the buses’ environmental impact, Byford reiterated that buses would be more efficient than cars. Although a majority of the buses in the mitigation plan would be diesel, buses hold 60 to 70 people, which would be more efficient in terms of environmental impact than, for instance, 60 or 70 individual cars would be, he noted. “Reading into the room a little bit, the notion came out, time and time again, that buses were somehow going to be more environmentally degrading than private cars,” Chelsea Yamada, a Manhattan organizer with Transportation Alternatives, said after the town hall. “It led me to ask a question, which the president of New York City Transit, Andy Byford, answered: The buses will be more efficient than doing nothing. “There was a lot of fear about environmentalism being spun into really an efficiency question that the president answered very simply: Busways are the way to go,” she added. Daily cycling volume is expected to double if the L train shuts down between Brooklyn and Manhattan, according to the M.T.A. To handle the expected increased volume of cyclists, D.O.T. plans to install a two-way protected bikeway with a bike-parking hub on University Place between 13th and 14th Sts. Residents asked how bicyclists’ bad behaviors would be reined in — saying they were afraid of being injured or even killed by rogue bike riders. In the evening’s first question, a man asked Trottenberg how D.O.T. would LTRAIN continued on p. 23 TheVillager.com

‘Do it all’ science teacher wins coveted award BY SYDNEY PEREIR A


lyssa Scherer, the science teacher at P.S. 64, The Robert Simon School, won one of the state’s most prestigious education awards last Thursday afternoon. But it was a total surprise to her — kept secret by the school’s principal, Marlon Hosang, and assistant principal, Daniela D’Arcangelo. “I’m in complete shock,” Scherer, a teacher at the elementary school, at E. Fifth St. and Avenue B, for the past six years, said shortly after receiving the Empire State Excellence in Teaching Award from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office. Her award was one of 60 given to teachers throughout New York State. Scherer stressed that the distinction is a testament to the work the entire school does — echoing Hosang’s glowing remarks about her Thursday afternoon. “When one of us is elevated, indeed, we are all elevated,” the principal told the assembly shortly after Scherer had been given the award, along with a $5,000 check. The “assembly in disguise,” as Hosang described it, included representatives from the offices of Assemblymember Harvey Epstein and city Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, United Federation of Teachers union reps Dennis Gault and Don Albright, members of the New York Road Runners, and Karim Camara, the executive director and deputy commissioner of the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based Community Development Services. “Today, we’re honoring a teacher who stands for the very best of our profession,” Camara told the assembly. Scherer started out as a student teacher while she was finishing up her education degree at the State University of New York at Oswego. Her whole life, she has wanted to be an elementary school teacher. Even while she was a student teacher, Hosang quickly noticed her commitment and dedication to teaching — so much so that he wanted to hire her as a fourthgrade teacher at P.S. 64 upon her graduation. The city, at first, was overwhelming for her. “When I first started student teaching, I was petrified to be in the city,” she said. But after graduation, she added, “it made perfect sense” to stay at the school. Now, she’s finishing up her sixth year at the school, living in Rockland County with her fiance and her dog, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Rudy. “It was very easy to say yes and easy to become an official part of a great place,” Scherer said. “Here, you are lucky to have a tight-knit group of teachers who share the same values.” After two years of her teaching fourth grade and a year of teaching general education, Hosang offered Scherer a position as a science teacher, which was her true passion and what she had focused on in her own studies. As a science teacher for prekindergarten through fifth grade, she has the opportunity to help kids learn how to ask questions and figure out how the world around them works. One of the best parts, for her, is seeing how wide-ranging science can be. For example, students who might not like studying about rocks and geology one week might have their interest sparked the next week when she’s teaching them about plants and life science. “They see how everything is connected,” she said. “Kids are so young that you can instill that lifelong love for learning early.” Her favorite moment teaching science came around two or three years ago, when she organized a fourthgrade research project comparing urban and suburTheVillager.com


P.S. 64’s Alyssa Scherer, center, received the state’s Excellence in Teaching Award along with a $5,000 check from Karim Camara, left, representing Governor Cuomo, as Principal Marlon Hosang, right, proudly shared the moment.

ban ecosystems. Her students chose to research birds, gathering data and information on New York City’s birds and presenting it on tri-fold boards at a research symposium. Scherer said she let the students have notecards for their presentations, but they were so engaged with sharing what they had learned, the cards were hardly used. “This is what teaching should be like,” she said, adding that the moment was an “amazing experience.” But Scherer’s love for education and helping students grow extends far beyond the classroom. She heads the school’s Parent and Family Involvement Committee and also its Community Connections Committee. In short, Hosang called her his “point person” for parent engagement. As such, Scherer hosts everything from movie nights to bingo nights to engage parents in their childrens’ education. Scherer is the school’s sustainability coordinator, as well — helping P.S. 64 stay on track with its recycling and composting efforts. Scherer, who is a marathon runner, also began the school’s Rising Runners program, formally known as the Mighty Milers, every Friday for students, in which she leads running, games and other aerobic exercises. “It’s a good way to instill healthy habits,” she noted.

The program is offered in coordination with the New York Road Runners. In a few weeks time, the students will participate in a half-mile run with other games and activities on Randalls Island for Global Running Day. “She is a big proponent of health and wellness among our student body,” Hosang said. “She is well admired and respected by all.”





Glenn Branca, at far left, at the base of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in 2001, conducting his “Symphony #13 (Hallucination City)� for 100 guitars.

Glenn Branca, 69, experimental composer OBITUARY BY BOB KR ASNER


lenn Branca moved to New York in 1976, where he began a career in musical composition and guitar noise that has left an indel-

ible mark on the avant-garde scene. On Sun., May 13, he left, succumbing to throat cancer at age 69. Branca made an impression from the beginning, with his first band, Theoretical Girls. Part of the noisy and deliberately noncommercial Downtown “No Wave� scene, the band only released one single but made their mark. Musician / actor John Lurie tweeted that

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May 17, 2018

seeing the band perform was a major event for him. “Glenn Branca, playing with Theoretical Girls, was the best band in the program,� he said. “It changed my life.� Branca moved away from punk song structure to experiment with the possibilities of the electric guitar, composing longer pieces that used alternate tunings, dissonance, feedback and overtones to create one of David Bowie’s favorite albums, “The Ascension.� Lee Ranaldo, not yet a member of Sonic Youth, played in that ensemble. “The beginning of my time in New York — 1979 to 1980 — would have been nothing without the genius work that Glenn Branca was doing at that time,� Ranaldo posted on his Instagram page. “The most radical, intelligent response to punk and the avant garde I’d ever seen.� Another founding member of Sonic Youth, Thurston Moore, also played with Branca. He, too, wrote on Instagram about how Branca deeply affected him and his fellow musicians. “The man’s creative light and spiritual aesthetic he’d continually express in his work was, in all truth, a defining inspiration for all of us,� Moore said. Branca moved on to creating symphonies, but certainly not in any traditional sense. Utilizing extremely loud electric guitars as well as homemade instruments, he produced soundscapes that were not always admired by critics and even put him at odds with the great iconoclast composer John Cage, who referred to Branca’s music as “fascism.� If you look for written descriptions

of his work, you will find terms such as dense, chaotic, cacophonous, merciless and claustrophobic. But these were also the virtues of his music, and his original and ambitious works gained him a following around the world, giving him the opportunity to write for soundtracks and ballet, as well as traditional orchestras. Recently his work was performed more frequently overseas than in the U.S. A longtime West Village resident, Branca was perplexed with the lack of opportunity at home, but continued to produce a fascinating variety of work. According to his Web site, his last major completed pieces were “Symphony #16 (Orgasm),� in five movements for 100 guitars and drums; “Dark Harmony,� for four cellos and drums; and “The Light (For David),� for four guitars and drums. Branca was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and started playing guitar in his teens. Before coming to New York, he spent time in Boston and London and was initially interested in music for experimental theater. Guitarist / composer Pat Irwin, founding member of 8-Eyed Spy and the Raybeats, an 18-year veteran of the B-52’s and leader of the PI Power Trio, summed up the composer’s impact and influence. “Glenn Branca’s music was beautiful, powerful, ugly and monumental,� he told The Villager. “I’d never heard such a sound since or before. The music impacted me in ways that are still with me today. He was one of a kind.� Branca is survived by his wife, the composer / musician Reg Bloor.

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


Amy and Kevin Miceli in the kitchen.

Ciao is back for Tuesday soup nights, for now BY BOB KR ASNER


sk Kevin Miceli how he is and it’s likely that he will answer, “I’m amazing!” And you can bet he will be wearing a fabulous hat. Miceli is the co-owner, with his wife, Amy, of the E. 12th St. eatery Ciao for Now. Beloved by locals for 17 years, the shop recently closed its doors to walk-in business to concentrate on catering, the half of the business that actually made a profit. It was a tough decision for a couple who truly loved their clientele, and, as they put it, “just love to feed people.” Amy explained that the restaurant was losing money while the catering — for small events, fashion photography shoots, private dinners and the like — was covering the losses. They had previously let go of their West Village location, and it no longer made sense to continue the overhead of a daily shop. “We were working harder and making less,” she explained. So this past Jan. 31 was the last day for Ciao for Now — until recently. “It was so weird to walk into this beautiful place and no one was here,” Amy said. “Nothing felt right. I couldn’t deal with it. What killed me was the 10-year-old girl who said to me, ‘I’ve been coming here all my life,’ and started crying.” Which is why, not long after they closed, Ciao for Now, at 532 E. 12th St., between Avenues A and B, is now open one night a week for soup night on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. It’s a back-to-basics approach that lets them once again “enjoy having restaurant,” TheVillager.com


The Micelis, ffrom left, l f Kevin, K i Django, Dj Amy A — with i h turkey chili with focaccia — Opal and Atlas.

Kevin shmoozing with customers.

according to Kevin. “It’s just the Micelis doing everything,” he said. Amy cooks — three soups each time — Kevin takes the orders and dishes them out at the counter, and their oldest child, Django, is the busboy. The other two children, Opal and Atlas, are not yet old enough to work there but are usually around for “moral support.” They still use local suppliers whenever possible. The turkey in the chili the other week came from the Florence Meat Market, on Jones St. in the West Village, for example. The primary goal is simple, delicious food. Two of the soup options are always veggie and all come with homemade focaccia. Additionally, various treats are available, as well as beer and wine. Looking to the future, they hope to have a Sunday dinner one night a month and possibly a pancake brunch. But for now, they are happy that the community is “coming together and enjoying the soup,” they said. The community is pretty happy about it, too. Neighborhood residents Kathleen and Mary are longtime regulars who come for soup every week. Mary had her 80th birthday party in the place. Kathleen called it “a great mom-and-pop business — a legend in the neighborhood.” Now that it’s back, her biggest fear is that “there will be a line down the block” and they won’t be able to get in. For more information, visit their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/CiaoforNow/ , or follow them on Instagram @ciaofornowny . My 17, 2018


Woman leaves millions for college scholarships GIFT continued from p. 1

Wall St. law firm Cleary Gottleib Steen & Hamilton. Whenever her boss bought a stock (as his secretary, she purchased it for him), she bought the same stock — in a smaller amount. Bloom named her niece, Jane Lockshin, executor of her estate with specific instructions that her money go to an organization offering low-income youth educational opportunities. Bloom left some money to relatives and friends, but directed the bulk of the fortune to go toward scholarships of Lockshin’s choice for needy students. As luck had it, Lockshin was working as treasurer of the Lower East Side settlement house. She has served on its board since 1984 and chairs its finance committee. She thought her aunt’s money was perfectly suited for the settlement’s Expanded Horizons College Success Program, which serves low-income students from ninth grade through college; the program offers free college counseling, SAT prep, tutoring, visits to college campuses and continuous support to participants through completion of their college degrees. “The decision to award us the estate money was easy,” Lockshin said. “Henry Street is a well-respected, responsible organization, does outstanding work and is firmly grounded in New York City. And it has soul.” Lockshin had no idea until Bloom’s very last days that she had secretly accumulated such wealth. “I was flabbergasted when I learned how much her estate was worth,” she said. “My aunt was a very private person and never mentioned the extent of her estate. She probably thought that was no one’s business but her own.

Sylvia Bloom quietly amassed a for tune.

“I knew Sylvia had enough to live on, and that she and my uncle lived on their salaries,” she added. “Sylvia was not extravagant but she and my Uncle Ray traveled throughout the U.S. and in Europe. She owned a fur coat — it was Persian lamb not ermine. She dressed well, as befits a senior secretary at a major law firm. They owned a car — probably a Ford — definitely not a Rolls! She was not a conspicuous spender.”

David Garza, Henry Street Settlement’s executive director, said he was “profoundly grateful to Sylvia Bloom and Jane Lockshin. These resources will strengthen our Expanded Horizons Program in an unprecedented way. “Due to the gift’s magnitude, we are creating an endowment,” he said. “The funds generated will provide support annually — and in perpetuity. Ultimately, thousands of low-income young adults will receive the vital support they need to succeed in college — and in their lives — because of this generously transformative gift. “Not only will the endowment provide scholarships to college students,” Garza continued, “but it will allow for additional resources, like social-work support to the mostly first-generation college students in the program.” The daughter of Eastern European immigrants, Bloom was born in New York and lived in Brooklyn most of her life. An original, she kept her maiden name when she married, and took the subway to work until her retirement — even during snowstorms. She regretted not going to law school. At her memorial in 2016, one colleague said she would have made an excellent lawyer, calling her “intelligent, analytical, patient, wise and loyal.” Many spoke of her lively sense of humor, dry wit, wonderful laugh and gleaming smile. Others praised her character, calling her professional, loyal, modest, honest, generous and dedicated, with a no-nonsense work ethic. “Frank, with no pretense, and a completely independent thinker,” one colleague recalled. “Her mind was sharp, her words precise.” Another said, “She was a really decent person full of smarts and I will miss her a lot.”

Elder Law, Estate Planning, Guardianships, Trusts & Estates

Trusts and Asset Protection 101 June 14 at 2:00 pm

Estate Plan and Tax Update June 21 at 2:00 pm

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River Room Stuyvesant Town 545 East 14th St. (off Ave. B)

Please RSVP at (212) 867-3520 or email info@burnerlaw.com 10

May 17, 2018


POLICE B L O T T E R Raising cane A man told cops he was assaulted by a Village woman known to him at the corner of W. Fourth and Charles Sts. on Tues., May 8, at 6 p.m. The victim, 47, said he was hit with a cane actually “for several hours� by the suspect, who told him that he was a transgendered person with “mental history� and didn’t belong in the neighborhood. During a search of the suspect, police allegedly found cocaine in her front left jacket pocket. Jessica Berk, 58, was arrested for felony assault. The victim is known to hang out in front of Congregation Darech Amuno, at 53 Charles St. A Sixth Precinct source told The Villager, “That guy’s been sleeping there for years. He doesn’t bother anyone. The church [sic] lets him sleep there.� As for the alleged cocaine, the source said the white powder has been sent to a police lab for testing. Meanwhile, Berk, of Christopher St., who is the president of Residents in Distress, or RID, tells a different story. “No, I didn’t do anything of the sort,� she said of the alleged caning. She said she merely had passed by twice that day, at 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., and rapped lightly on the doorway to ask the man if he wanted to come by the office of West-

Jessica Berk, of RID, with her canine sidekick Angelina Jolie, is glad to repor t that the Or thodox synagogue at Charles and W. Four th Sts. is now “rid� of a homeless person who had been living in the outdoor vestibule area above its front steps. However, Berk — shown sitting next to the synagogue’s vestibule, above — was arrested after the man told police she had been rapping him with her cane. Police also said they found something in her pocket. But Berk said it was just evidence that Angelina Jolie had vacuumed up, and which Berk then held onto.

View — a local monthly newspaper — to do an interview. As for the alleged coke, Berk said her trusty Chihuahua sidekick, Angelina Jolie, was sniffing around the synagogue’s stairs and picked up a packet in her mouth, which Berk then put in her pocket, which responding cops then found on her. “I don’t do drugs,� Berk told The Villager. “Apparently, it was drugs that the guy must have used.� She believes a passerby called police after hearing the homeless man protest that she was bothering him, leading to her arrest. Berk acknowledged that the synagogue’s president has let the man live on the place’s front steps in a large “bag.� “He’s trying to give the guy shelter, but the neighborhood objects,� she said. “It’s a gigantic tent bag. It fills the steps... George told me to check out the guy in the bag and invite him back to the WestView office,� she said of George Capsis, the paper’s publisher, who lives on Charles St. “Someone could put a grenade or a bomb in that bag, it’s very dangerous,� she added. She noted that the synagogue president now seems to have changed his mind about letting the man stay there, BLOTTER continued on p. 13



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My 17, 2018


Arch ’nt yah glad to be reading your community newspaper?

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May 17, 2018


POLICE B L O T T E R BLOTTER continued from p. 11

and police recently told the guy he had to move, and he is, in fact, no longer there. Berk said that, as the leader of RID, she wants to make it clear that she was actually only trying to help this man. “This gentleman needs help,” she said. “No one is helping him. He’s living in a bag. Where is he now? I’m concerned about him and that someone will beat him up — not me.” In a previous incident, not too long ago, Berk was ordered to get out of the Sixth Precinct by a sergeant after demanding to know why no one was doing anything to remove the man from the synagogue’s steps.

Caffeinated conflict According to police, a dispute over the price of a Red Bull sparked a fight at the Tobacco Prince store, at 200 W. 14 St., near Seventh Ave., on Tues., May 8, at 2:25 p.m. A customer felt he had been charged too much for a Red Bull drink. When the cashier refused to give him more change, the suspect said, “If I’m not getting another dollar, I’m taking another Red Bull.” He promptly grabbed another can of the over-caffeinated concoction and made to exit the place, but the worker tried to stop him from leaving. The indignant suspect then headbutted the worker in his forehead and a scuffle ensued. The customer, Mason M. Manigault, 24, was busted for felony robbery.

A sur veillance camera image of the alleged robber who attacked a man after he had used an ATM at the Bank of America at Houston and Lafayette Sts.

had just entered, promptly rushed back outside. Anyone with information is asked to call the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS, or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting them to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.

Charged up ATM attack Police said that on Fri., April 27, around 3:08 p.m., a guy approached a man using an ATM inside the Bank of America branch at 315 Lafayette St., at Houston St., and asked for $100. When the victim, 35, told him he didn’t have any money and walked away, the stranger jumped him from behind and threw him down. The suspect unleashed a volley of punches and kicks on the victim while he was on the floor, then removed the man’s wallet and fled northbound on Lafayette St. The victim was treated for minor injuries at Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Hospital. The attacker is described as black, 20 to 25 years old, 6 feet tall, and last seen wearing a green camouflage-pattern baseball cap, an olive-green jacket, a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt, gray pants and white sneakers. A surveillance video provided by police showed that at least three other customers were inside the ATM location at the time of the attack. One woman turned around at the commotion, then turned back and continued to perform her transaction. Another woman who TheVillager.com

According to police, a drunk man went into the Metro PCS store at 250 W. 14th St. and took chargers from a wall display on Sun., April 29, at 1:10 p.m. The complainant told police that when she attempted to grab the suspect, he yanked his arm away and left the store. The chargers were worth a total of $60. Christopher Johnson, 40, was arrested for felony robbery on May 10.

Bike theft Police said an 18-year-old locked his bike in front of 44 W. Fourth St. on Mon., April 16, at 5 p.m. and when he returned, it was gone, except for the lock and front wheel. The victim subsequently received a Facebook message that his bike was spotted on an Uptown R train and that the suspect had gotten off at Herald Square. The bike was worth $1,300. Dane Clark, 57, was arrested May 8, for felony grand larceny.

Tabia C. Robinson and Lincoln Anderson

NOTICE OF SALE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK — COUNTY OF KINGS —Pursuant to an Order of the Court of the State of New York, County of Kings, signed and dated on March 29, 2018, and entered on March 29, 2018 (the “Order”), in the action entitled SuHwa Chu, et. al. v. Lisa Lai, et. al. – Index No. 500668/2014 – I, the undersigned Referee, duly appointed in this action for such purpose, will sell at public auction to the highest bidder, at the Kings County Supreme Courthouse, 360 Adams Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201, Room 224, on June 21, 2018, at 2:30 p.m., the property described and directed to be sold in such Order, which is briefly described as all that certain plot, piece or parcel of land, with the buildings and improvements erected, situate, lying and being in the State of New York, County of New York, with address of: 80 Riverside Boulevard, Unit 5H, New York, New York 10069 (SBL # Block 1171, Lot 4060); (the “Premises”). Such Premises will be sold subject to the terms of the filed Order and the Terms of Sale. AARON D. MASLOW, ESQ. Referee. ALL INQUIRIES TO: Kishner Miller Himes, P.C. Attorneys for Plaintiffs, 420 Lexington Ave. Suite 300, New York, NY 10170, Attn: Ryan O. Miller, Esq., tel. no. 212-297- 6268. Dated: Brooklyn, New York 5/14/2018 AARON D. MASLOW, ESQ. Referee

Vil: 05/17 – 06/07/2018 My 17, 2018


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Silver should have testified

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To The Editor: I am dumbfounded as to why Silver did not testify at either of his trials. Although powerful in Albany, he was rather modest and neighborly when back in his district. He was smart as they come, and I can’t imagine a prosecutor tripping him up on cross-examination. I’m betting that every day Shelly Silver woke up, he thought of himself as a public servant. He probably could have sold that image of himself to a jury. His age and health would have made him sympathetic. As for Dr. Taub, the $500,000 in grants from the state, for asbestos treatments and research, was money exceptionally well spent. He got it before making referrals. Taub is positively revered for his work. Whatever law firms represented the asbestos victims he knew, it makes no difference to taxpayers. In the end, Silver did well by doing good. I don’t like the system, but his conviction doesn’t feel like justice to me. Does it send a message to politicians? Yeah: Juries will hate you, if a prosecutor asks them to. Paul J. Bosco

SLAPP-happy over ruling To The Editor: Re “Dwellers are kvellers after judge SLAPPs down bar’s defame suit” (news article, May 10): Great ruling for the Lower East Side Dwellers and Diem Boyd and Sara Romanoski — both fierce fighters in the ongoing battle to maintain quality of life for residents and small businesses in our Downtown neighborhoods. Pete Davies

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

We cover “The Cube”!


May 17, 2018

Farting — it’s a real blast! To The Editor: Re “Ex-lax-clusive: ‘Village Farter’ blows his cover” (news article, May 10): Farting is part of nature. It is an aspect of health. It is a necessity of life. Like other forms of elimination, it should be enjoyed


and respected. George Jochnowitz

Why stop? Farts forever! To The Editor: Re “Ex-lax-clusive: ‘Village Farter’ blows his cover” (news article, May 10): This reporter asked exactly what I would have asked this guy. I would get bored with this stunt and stop after a couple of successful attempts. But this guy does not. He simply loves the stunt and the laugh he or the passerby gets. And he does what he loves, because it’s sometimes five times a week! Donnie Moder

No to Pulse park memorial To The Editor: Hey, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, the Village does not need another Cuomo edifice in Hudson River Park — a feel-good memorial, ignoring the pain and anguish of the queer holocaust, ignoring a society wedded to the gun. The Council should deny Cuomo’s edifice to the Orlando Pulse club shooting and instead take the $14 million and use it to support homeless youths stricken with H.I.V. and AIDS. You can also do me a favor and make sure this “memorial” does not end up in the rising waters of our river, the Hudson, either. And speaking of the Hudson, Speaker Johnson, you opened a Pandora’s box when you and Andrew Berman of G.V.S.H.P. allowed the Pier 40 air rights’ transfer despite your misgivings about the illegal transfer. That is going to require a lot of forgetting by the electorate. Mel Stevens 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.


Irving, the couch and the view up Sixth Ave. NOTEBOOK BY DAVID FARR AR


o there I was, 11 years ago, living out a scene from one of those New York stories that are dreamt about by British people who’ve seen too many movies. To a local, it’s a coffee in Greenwich Village with an old friend. To me, it’s a chance to soak up sounds and smells and attitude: still a coffee in Greenwich Village with an old friend, but with more of the words in capital letters. I met Holly and she told me about her new apartment on Downing St. It was tiny but kind of perfect, and so high up that she could see Uptown to the Empire State Building and she knew that I would love it. We walked across Father Demo Square, and headed for the sixth floor. I took in the view, gulped in my jealousy, and we turned to leave. It was a right turn from the apartment to the elevator, and for some reason, I looked to my left. The hallway was dark but I found myself turning to Holly and saying, “Is that a body?” She followed my gaze and said, “Oh, my God, yes. It’s Irving.” We rushed to the doorway of an apartment that I presumed was this man Irving’s home and we discovered he was alive and we helped him into a chair at his kitchen table and Holly rushed to go for medical assistance. I sat in silence, my head bowed, waiting for the old man sitting across from me to look up. Anything else would have felt like an intrusion. It was minutes, but it felt like longer, before he looked up and saw me. I remember my heart beating unnaturally fast, as he said, softly yet with precision, “I want some soup. Get me some soup.” If that sounds like an order, then that’s how it felt. There was part of me that wanted to tell him to get his own soup, but another which realized that people who have lived that long have the right to talk to you exactly how they want. Words are all they’ve got, after all. I walked to his kitchen and heard him bark, “In the fridge — Cream of Wheat,” and so I opened the fridge and looked for a sign. I don’t know what Cream of Wheat is. We don’t have it in England. But there was a container with a sticker that said Cream of Wheat, and so I took it out and poured it into a pan, and there I was, in an apartment in Greenwich Village, cooking “soup” I’d never heard of (though it was, in fact, actually cereal) for a man I’d never met before. Careful about those New York dreams, buddy. He seemed better once he had eaten, and we sat and looked at each other, both of us hoping that some help would arrive soon. He was happy in silence, I think. But I felt the need to move, and so I stood and walked around his apartment, lookTheVillager.com

ing for something to start a conversation. The room had a view of Sixth Ave., and you could look above the tree line, a perspective that gives a familiar city a longago feeling. I looked at the walls of the apartment. There were photographs of a woman of my age — his niece, as it turned out — alongside major political figures. I think I remember Bill Clinton and Benazir Bhutto but I can’t be sure. I know that I saw photos of Woody Allen, all of them signed like a friend: “To Irving and Betty, love always,” “To Irving and Betty, thank you for everything.” And then the help came. Holly was back, with news that the doctor would be here soon, and that the doorman would be coming to check on Irving.

‘In the fridge — Cream of Wheat,’ he barked.

I got up awkwardly, not knowing how to say goodbye, and then Irving looked up and said, “Thank you.” A small voice with an acknowledgment that our lives had briefly intertwined. As we set about leaving, Irving grabbed out for me and said, “The sofa.” I leaned in closer and asked what he meant and he replied, “The sofa — can you put me on the sofa?” I realized that the sofa had the view of the street that he’d been looking at ever since I’d sat with him, and so I half-carried him and half-walked him to that faded green sofa and laid him down, so that he was facing that view. The treetops, the avenue, the infinite possibility of that part of town. I held his hand for a second and wished him luck, as that seemed like the right thing to do. Holly and I parted, and I walked away feeling moved by the experience, unable to shake the image of a fragile old man looking at an uptown view, wondering what was next. It felt like he might need some company, and I was wondering whether I should visit him again before I left New York, whether that would be welcomed or intrusive. Two hours later my phone rang and it was Holly. “He died,” she said. The sofa and the view. The soup that I had cooked him. The silence that we sat in. The fact that his final interactions

were not with someone that he loved, but with a stranger. I imagine him on that sofa, lying and looking back up Sixth Ave., as he started to fade away, and how privileged I was to help him there. So, I want to tell his story. For him, and for everyone who has been forgotten, for those who don’t get an obituary, for all of the people walking past us every day who live extraordinary lives and yet are never remembered. Like many of us, like any of us. I’ve found out enough through my research to know that this was a life, an interesting life, and this was a man who had outlived his friends. He got old and weak, and so he lay with his memories and a view that he had cherished for 53 years. I recently spent a week in that part of Greenwich Village knocking on doors and talking to people and trying to find out what I could learn about Irving. I was overwhelmed by the help that I received and the goodwill toward what I’m trying to do. I simply want to tell the story of his 93 years and breathe something back

into the old man that I left on the sofa. If I don’t, then I feel that I’m letting him down, letting all of us down. If you knew Irving Lowenthal, or think that you knew him, or knew his wife, Betty, or his niece who worked for the government and met those foreign leaders, or his friend Maurice Heidelberg, the piano teacher with whom he published a song, or know anyone that you think could help, then I’d be eternally grateful if you could get in touch with me. I’ve steered clear of social media in my search so far, as more traditional methods seem to suit the integrity of the story, but I’ve reluctantly set up a Facebook page called “Irving’s Sofa,” and you can e-mail me at davefarrar@fastmail.fm. Thanks for sticking with this tale until the end, thanks to The Villager for acknowledging it, and thanks in advance for your help. I’ll let you know how I get on. Farrar is an English journalist who is working on a book project involving the abov above incident.


A shleigh Her tzig, a graduate of New York Universit y’s Silver School of Social Work, posed in Washington Square with Yuri, her ser vice dog, who also spor ted a cap and gown. Her tzig is visually impaired. The t wo have been a team for four years. My 17, 2018


Super said to have sold fatal smack faces life BY GER ARD FLYNN


ntil early last month, Daniel Jones was the superintendent of a building on E. 12th St. and First Ave. Today, he’s awaiting trial in jail, charged with selling heroin that killed his neighbor. Jones is incarcerated at the New York Metropolitan Correctional Center, facing life behind bars for selling a brand of “Gorilla� heroin that resulted in the death last November of Robert Martin Hill, who lived in the same building, federal prosecutors allege. The 54-year-old victim was transitioning to a new gender when he was found in his apartment unconscious from an opioid overdose, which brought in the police after he died in a city hospital a week later. In Hill’s pants pocket, his wife found four glassine bags stamped with the “Gorilla� brand, which she turned over to police. Investigating detectives were led to Jones by phone records, and subsequently set the suspected heroin dealer up in a drug buy-and-bust down the street from the building. Court documents show that, in March, Jones not only sold 10 bags of heroin to an undercover narcotics cop, but followed a brief conversation about the deceased’s transgender status with an incriminating and candid admission

— that he was the source of the brand of heroin that killed Hill. “Rob was getting the Gorilla from me,� he allegedly told the narc, thus linking Jones with the victim’s death and bringing an additional charge similar to culpable homicide and a possible life sentence. “I’m the one who brings that s--- up here,� Jones added, unaware that a hidden camera was capturing everything. “The Gorilla’s the same one as the Pink,� meaning that despite the different brands, the heroin was from the same source. As for Jones’s stint as a super, one tenant said, “He was a good superintendent. He was here for a little over a year.� The charge of “drug-induced homicide� harkens back to the stiff mandatory-minimum sentencing guidelines of the Reagan administration, which announced a “War on Drugs� in 1982. The concept continues but it’s not working, according to Nora Demleitner, a professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law. A onetime consideration by the Obama administration for a Supreme Court justice pick, Demleitner told The Villager that locking dealers up for someone’s accidental death is a “terrible� policy.� She called it utterly random, comparing it to a game of Russian roulette rather than a principled assess-


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ment of responsibility. “These types of charges aren’t morally justifiable because the murder label doesn’t reflect the culpability at issue,� she said. On the other hand, the knowing sale of contaminated drugs is a separate moral issue, she said. As to addressing drug use — and the more recent surge of opioid and heroin use, in particular — she prefers a publichealth approach, and says stiff penalties since the 1980s haven’t shown desired results. “The claim that such prosecutions will ‘combat the epidemic of lethal opioids’ is blatantly false,� she said. Yes, the prospect of facing a life sentence may scare off a drug dealer who witnesses an opiate overdose, for example, she said. But if the feds are just

randomly choosing this alleged dealer to get at a higher-up, it may not work — despite the heavy investment of time because the dealer may not be in the know. The current opioid epidemic has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 victims since 2000, nearly four times the number of G.I.’s killed in the Vietnam War, and with many users switching to heroin over the past decade since prescription opioids have become more tightly regulated. The increased spotlight on this national crisis, the law professor said, has made it a political issue. “Prosecutors, after all, are elected and may feel the need to respond to public pressure,� she said, “especially if they believe that a criminal justice response is the right approach to the drug epidemic.�


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The East Village building, at 423 E. 12th St., where the alleged dealer and victim both lived.

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

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The Lower East Side Festival of the Arts Theater • Music • Dance • Video • Film • Poetry • Cabaret • Youth Stuff May 25, 26, 27 Friday, Saturday, Sunday: Evenings 6PM to 1AM Saturday All Day: Noon to 5PM FREE!! FREE!! FREE!!

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A work in progress that really works

Photos by Rania Richardson

Dancers in the ring battle performed astonishing feats.

‘Prelude’ performers set tantalizing tone for programming at The Shed

The Shed is still under construction on the High Line, and will open next spring.


BY RANIA RICHARDSON It was a beautiful evening — warm enough to hint that summer is on the way. I had reserved free tickets online for a couple of events at “A Prelude to The Shed,” the public introduction to a performance space that will open next spring as part of the Hudson Yards development on the far west side of Midtown Manhattan. Exiting Penn Station, I could see booming construction everywhere. Cranes and towers in progress blocked the view of the blue sky. What will the area be like when the buildup is finished? Will it feel energetic and exciting, or cramped and crowded? I walked along W. 31st St. to 10th Ave., and found a corner lot as yet undeveloped, where a smaller, temporary version of

The Shed stood, while the real one was under construction — one block away on the High Line. There was no mistaking this space for anything permanent. From the gravel groundcover to the trailers and tents, the set up was raw and unadorned. Up a few stairs there was a seating area and a shipping container housing a snack bar. A pretentious (albeit mouthwatering) menu included a roast beef sandwich with truffle mushroom aioli, and fruity macarons with cream cheese buttercream. According to a server, this was a representative menu of the one to come. Tufted, padded benches encircled the mock Shed. A “Prelude Ambassador” SHED continued on p. 18 My 17, 2018


Performers moved tufted seats to reconfigure the space. Photos by Rania Richardson

Putting aside all fears, the audience entered the pitch black performance space through a short tunnel. SHED continued from p. 17

stood at the doorway and directed audience members inside, warning us to be careful. I walked through the short tunnel and into the nightmarish scenario of a warm, pitch-black, enclosed space. There was a one-inch slit of light pouring in from the corner but it didn’t help. I heard chanting and running, then singing “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls. But where were the performers exactly? We, the audience members, kept bumping into each other. A few minutes later, my eyes had adjusted and I could see at least a dozen black silhouettes of bodies against a dark grey background, dancing freestyle. It was a beautiful sight. I walked the perimeter of the room to get a sense of the whole space, as I had realized that the audience was on the outside and the performers in the middle of the room. More dancing and singing ensued, and what seemed to be an improvisational discussion on the meaning of success. When I got back to the entrance, something unexpected happened. The performers and others began spinning the wall panels and opening sections to allow the audience members outside. The panels were on wheels, so they moved easily. Like this temporary venue, The Shed will be a flexible space, physically transforming to support different types of artistic work. It will have a telescoping outer shell. Very soon a crowd gathered outside,


May 17, 2018

The Shed’s Kevin Slavin presented slides, including one of bees in a maraschino cherry factory.

A crowd of fans expressed their exuberance during a dance battle.

in the audience were eager to participate in some instruction themselves, stepping to the beat as the dancers demonstrated easy moves. The dance lesson put us in a great mood. Teri-Ann Carryl, a stage manager at Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX), told me that she loved the performance. “It recreated the atmosphere of club dancing in an open space and involved an audience that might not experience it otherwise,” she said. Later, with folding chairs set up and the benches spun inside, the now brightly lit interior space was ready for speakers. Dan Doctoroff, chairman and president of The Shed, explained that the venue needed to be unique and on the leading edge of culture. Besides visual art and performance, it would include other disciplines. To that end, he introduced Kevin Slavin, the organization’s officer of science and technology, who

spoke on the makings of healthy environments. He relayed an incident from a few years ago in which bees mistook syrup at a maraschino cherry factory for nectar and produced a gooey red substance instead of honey. On that note, I exited the space, still listening to Slavin from the outside speakers. I crossed 10th Ave. and ascended the stairs to the High Line, where The Shed, shiny and silver, stood before me, next to Vessel, the steel observation tower that resembles a skeleton. Many structures in the area are spectacular, even as works-in-progress, and tourists were busy taking photos. Like Dumbo in Brooklyn, with such an array of visuals, the area is a big lure for Instagram users who are fans of architecture. They will have even more to capture next year, indoors and outdoors, with performances and events at The Shed.

as the same group of performers continued their avant-garde work, “This variation,” by Tino Sehgal. Next up, an MC took over and a DJ rolled out his turntables. The MC, programmer Reggie (Regg Roc) Gray, introduced a series of young dancers competing in the “D.R.E.A.M Ring” dance battles. With eye-popping twists and turns, the participants performed “flexn,” a dance style with roots in Jamaica. One appeared to have no bones in his body, one turned into an alien through facial expressions, and another bent in half backwards. They bested each other individually and then expanded their repertoires in groups. As they sprung and contorted to an enthusiastic crowd, smartphone cameras were out in full force. At times, fans jumped up and down and screamed in approval. After seeing so much talent, many


His show will only go ‘Up’ if you help Peter Michael Marino’s latest is a kid-friendly free-for-all BY SCOTT STIFFLER When a press release from Peter Michael Marino comes across your desk, it’s tempting to speculate that having a name with such awesome alliteration is all one needs to establish the appropriate rhythm a multidisciplinarian’s busy schedule demands — but the truth is, it’s not easy to accomplish every task at hand, especially when the very act of showing up presents its own challenges. The above-mentioned writer, director, producer, teacher, and all-around wellrounded performer was hoofing it back to his reportedly groovy pad in Chelsea when he answered the phone and spoke with us about a new project, one of several plates he’s committed himself to spin over the span of a three-day period. On the night of Friday, May 18, he’ll be in the wings — or at least on deck — for the premiere of a solo show he’s directing (Mindy Pfeffer’s triathlon-themed “There’s Iron in Your Future”). On Saturday night, Marino presides over an all-star reading of “Desperately Seeking the Exit,” his acclaimed comedic account of mounting a 2007 West End musical flop based on “Desperately Seeking Susan.” But it’s the middle ingredient of this show business sandwich that especially piqued our interest: On Saturday afternoon, Marino launches a kid-friendly version of the improvised performance this publication saw, to great enjoyment, at The PIT Loft (a W. 29th St. hub for every conceivable form of comedy). That 2017 production, “Show Up,” had Marino in disarming and breezy conversation with the audience, during which elements of their personal history and prior events of that particular day were summed up on very large Post-It notes tacked to the theater’s back wall — which eventually became plastered with plot points for an improvised satirical solo show that obligated the cheeky and capable Marino to incorporate every suggestion into an increasingly absurd narrative (audience members had a hand in directing, by creating the set and providing music/lighting cues that took the performer in even more unexpected directions). Which brings us to his new project: “Show Up, Kids!” “I had this notion,” Marino recalled, “that ‘Show Up’ would be fun for kids, because, like the adult show, it puts them in charge of the content.” Marino noted that his own experience with social anxiety — a thematic undercurrent of the adult show, is also a component, albeit an TheVillager.com

Illustration by Eric Sailer

The illustrated man: Peter Michael Marino is poised to deliver a highly animated performance.

age-appropriate one, of the family-friendly version. Youthful audience members, he said, will be contributing to the show’s content by sharing “things they are scared of.” The premise of the show, he told us, “is that the performer they came to see is not there, and I have to fill the time. To do that, I’m going to have to face my fear and create a show, using them as the inspiration for the settings and costumes and plot. So I get examples of their own issues. It starts off with things they’re afraid of or don’t like to do, and transforms into things they love or want to accomplish.” Gently plucked from the crowd (Marino excels at getting what he needs in a nonconfrontational, audience-empowering manner), two kids, he noted, will be in charge of moving the set, and another kid will be tasked with choosing props “from a bin of things like ridiculous wigs and hats… and I have one parent and a kid running the iPad, to pick out the sound effects.” Marino said his first inkling of how “Show Up” might translate to a younger demographic came when he was on the street selling his show to potential audience members just prior to a performance at the 2017 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. A mother wanted to take her 14-year-old son, but, Marino recalled, “I wasn’t sure they should see a show talking about adult issues and using adult language. But the kid told his mom after

the show, ‘I have social anxiety, and that

guy has social anxiety — and if he can do a show about it in front of people, I can do anything.’ ” That comment came to Marino in the form of a social media post from the mother, and “kept me afloat for, like, six months,” Marino recalled. “It was the best gift I could get from a show, and I think — I hope — that ‘Show Up, Kids!’ will do the same thing. I hope they [kids in the audience with social anxiety] see this guy who’s never done a kids’ show and think, ‘I can do something like that. I can do show and tell. I can do public speaking.’ ” “Show Up, Kids!” has a running time of 50 minutes and is appropriate for kids ages 4-10 and their guardians. Semiwritten and performed by Peter Michael Marino. Directed by Michole Biancosino and the audience. At 12pm on Sat./Sun., May 19 & 20; Sat., June 16; and Sat./ Sun., June 30 & July 1. At the Kraine Theater (85 E. Fourth St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.). For tickets ($15 for adults, $5 for under 10-years olds), visit tinyurl. com/kidskrainetix. For the show website, visit showuptheshow.com. For artist info, visit petermmarino.com.



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A cycling advocate turned out at the town hall to suppor t the city’s mitigation plan for the L subway shutdown, which would include making 14th St. buses-only at least par t of the time and installing a two-way bike lane on 13th St.

Some residents raise L LTRAIN continued from p. 6

help train cyclists to keep them from killing him. Another man said his nose was broken when a cyclist struck him. One woman said the Flatiron District is being “terrorized� by cyclists. In response, one cyclist later said that she bikes very slowly and is not a terrorist. Trottenberg said there are about 200 total roadway fatalities each year, and less than half a dozen of those are from a bicycle hitting a pedestrian. She added, though, that she does understand pedestrians’ fear about some bicyclists engaging in dangerous behavior. Advocates for the mitigation plan, however, said it’s too late now to start tinkering. “At this point, it’s like climate change denial,� said Leff, the TransAlt activist. “At this point, with less than a year to go before the L shutdown, there have been more than enough public meetings for everyone to have their say. We cannot shut down a city for a few people.� Leff said the statistics on cyclists are clear: Motor vehicles are far more dangerous in terms of roadway fatalities. In addition, some residents whose buildings only have entrances on 14th St. voiced concern about accessing the street when they need to use a car due to mobility issues. “I am not an old woman,� said Betty Sternlicht, who works as a regional brand manager and said she is not associated with any group or coalition. “But I occasionally have arthritis pain, and if I’m coming home from work and I can’t bear to take the subway station stairs, I’ll take a cab home, precisely so it will leave me in front of my building.� The answer she has been given is that she could take a cab to the corner of Fifth Ave. and then walk down the block to her home from there. “If I could walk from Fifth Ave., I would take the subway,� she said. Access-a-Ride isn’t an option for her, she TheVillager.com

told Trottenberg. D.O.T. and the M.T.A. still have not made final decisions on several factors regarding the busway. Trottenberg said she is still considering what type of vehicles could be allowed on 14th St. besides buses, including emergency vehicles, Access-a-Ride or even trucks and cars that are for 14th St. residents only. Additionally, how many hours per day the busway would be in effect is still up in the air. However, last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he does not support a 24-hour-a-day busway. Though residents, particularly coalition members, are skeptical of a busway, transit advocates argue that without a 24-hour busway, the traffic issues residents fear would come to pass and create a “nightmare scenario.� Specifically, if the L train shutdown plan does not address commuters’ needs 24 hours a day, they would turn to taxis and ridesharing car services, advocates predict. Transportation Alternatives estimates 40,000 additional car trips each day into Manhattan if the M.T.A. doesn’t create a 24-hour L train shutdown plan, The Villager previously reported. On Wed., May 16, the D.O.T. and M.T.A. held another town hall, in Brooklyn. “I think this was actually a very telling moment, whereby the city replied to one of the 15th St. residents to the question ‘What is being done for 15th St.?’� TransAlt’s Yamada said. “And they said, ‘We’re going to keep having a conversation with you.’� Yamada said she hopes that conversation can be more public — between residents and advocates — to explore the so-called “toolkit� Trottenberg spoke of. “The vast majority of people who use the street will never get a say,� Yamada said, concerned that resident groups alone will influence D.O.T. decisions on side-street traffic patterns. “I’m interested to see if that’s going to be a transparent conversation.�


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TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell


May 17, 2018

phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.

Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-

haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.

Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and

chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at

a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.

Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.


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