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The Paper of Record for Greenwich Greenw w ic i c h Village, V i llll a Vi ag g e, e , East E as a s t Village, ast Vii lla V llll a ag g e, e , Lower Low o w er ow e r East E ast ass t Side, a Sid Soho, Square, Chinatown o, Union Square e, C Ch h in i nat n at ato ow w n and a n d Noho, an Noh No ho o , Since Sii n S ncc e 1933 19 33 19 33

August 9, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 31

Air to Kenmare, busloads of worry at L public meeting BY SYDNEY PEREIR A


everal dozen Manhattan residents raised oftrepeated concerns about the L train shutdown plan at an M.T.A. public meeting on Monday. The meeting was legally required as part of the recently released Supplemental Environmental Assessment for

the sweeping project. The S.E.A. was conducted as a result of the lawsuit by the 14th St. Coalition against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the New York City Transit Authority, the New York City Department of Transportation and the FedLTRAIN continued on p. 7

LREI segregated students of color in middle school BY GABE HERMAN


here have been mixed reactions in the Little Red Schoolhouse and Elisabeth Irwin High School community over the recent revelation that LREI’s middle school was placing students in homeroom classes accordingg to race.

The policy began last year and without parents’ knowledge, the New York Post reported in June. All students of color were placed together in the same homeroom classes, which are together for about 30 percent of the day, according to a message sent to the LREI LREI continued on p. 4


Scotty Skitzo, bottom, and Jism ism sang with Tompkins Square Park riots 30th anniversary

Tale of two ‘Techs’: Rivera vs. Berman BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


he full City Council approved the Union Square “Tech Hub” project on Wednesday. However, depending on who you talk to — Councilmember Carlina Rivera or preservationist Andrew Berman — it was either a major victory or a huge disap-

Big Night Out for police...........p. 8

the th band Skitzopolis at the concerts. See Pages 14 and 15. c

pointment. In a big letdown for the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and its supporters, the plan for the 21-story tower was passed — but without assurances that any major rezoning protections would be put in place for the surrounding neighborhood. The project is set to rise on

the city-owned site at 124 E. 14th St., between Third and Fourth Aves., currently home to a vacant two-story building formerly home to P.C. Richard & Son. G.V.S.H.P.’s zoning plan called for shorter, squatter buildings for any new construcTECH continued on p. 6

Police Blotter: Ex-chef a real whack job ............p. 5 Speaker must resolve S.B.J.S.A. ‘legality’....... p. 13 www.TheVillager.com

young ones’ achievements. As the second-fastest guy in the neighborhood, running was one of his best sports. Most important, perhaps, was the educational program the club ran that helped ready him to get into an elite New England prep school. And then when, pining for home, he ran away from the place soon after enrolling, it was a Boys Club staffer who met him right at the Port Authority as he was getting off the bus and got him to change his mind, turn around and go back. In short, Morales said, this one’s personal for him, and he wants to fight for it and plans to take it to the Boys Club leadership. “I’m going to take it to the mother ship,” he said.

OH, BOY: Former East Village squatter leader Frank Morales was bowled over by the recent news reports that the Boys Club of New York plans to sell its headquarters building at E. 10th St. and Avenue A. “It’s a total bummer,” he recently told us. Morales, who grew up in the ’hood, had great times at the Boys Club as a kid. He vividly remembers ping pong games and “trophy nights” there, when family members would come celebrate their

MEDITATING ON IT: Carl Rosenstein a.k.a. the “Angry Buddhist” had hoped to pull off a major demonstration at the Elizabeth St. Garden last month. His strategy: to block the street outside the Little Italy garden and snarl traffic. At first, he had been strategizing with Allan Reiver, the gallery owner who personally created the garden and has been leasing the property from the city on a monthly basis for 27 years. But Reiver ultimately decided he didn’t want any part of the action, not wanting to tick off the local cops. “We get along well with the Fifth Precinct,” he said. Neither of the two nonprofit groups connected to the garden — Elizabeth St. Garden, which currently operates the green oasis, or the Friends of Elizabeth St. Garden — wanted to get involved with Rosenstein’s planned protest, either. So,

in the end...nothing happened. Rosenstein is a longtime diehard foe of Councilmember Margaret Chin, who is the primary advocate for the affordable senior housing project the city is pushing that is slated to cover most of the current space. He told us he still feels that something big and disruptive is needed to get more of the mainstream media interested in covering the story of saving the garden. So far, though, he’s not swaying anyone to his way of thinking.

HOW CUDE ROLLS: Terri Cude, it turns out, is a CitiBike rider. The Community Board 2 chairperson has the blue bike key — and, as she told us, the rockhard calves to prove it. CORRECTIONS: Two weeks ago, Scoopy incorrectly reported that Donald Capoccia’s BFC Partners sold “density bonus” credits from the former squat at 544 E. 13th St. to Ben Shaoul’s new residential building at E. Seventh St. and Avenue A. In fact, the credits were sold to The Steiner, the new residential building at E. 12th St. and Avenue A, which was developed by David and Doug Steiner, of Steiner NYC. ... In last week’s Villager, a photo caption in the article about the City Council’s effort to cap ride-hail apps reversed the ratio of Uber-type rides to yellow cabs that were making pickups at the Soho Grand Hotel one weekday morning: It was actually 3 hail-ride cars to 1 yellow cab.


Actress Rachael Taylor recently filmed a scene for the Netflix series “Jessica Jones” on E. 13th St. near Second Ave. The street signs were altered to read “Ninth Ave.” In an effor t to throw off the general public, people were being told — and the signs stated — that they were filming a T V show called “ Violet.”


August 9, 2018



Mais oui! The Blue Dahlia Quintet played music with a cer tain je ne sais quoi.

A ‘world’ of free music at Jeff. Mkt. Garden


icking off its free program of World Music Sundays, on Aug. 5 the Jefferson Market Garden was host to the Blue Dahlia Quintet.

Despite the hot and muggy weather, the lawn of the garden, at Sixth and Greenwich Aves., was filled with music lovers who enjoyed the quintet’s French

bistro sound. Next up, on Sun., Aug. 12, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., the Cocomama sextet will perform world music inspired by Latin America. The music

continues every Sunday through August in the late afternoon / early evening. Check jeffersonmarketgarden.org for the lineup.

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August 9, 2018


LREI admits to segregating students 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


Member of the New York Member of the National Press Association Newspaper Association

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August 9, 2018

LREI continued from p. 1

community by school Director Phil Kassen. Kassen wrote in the message that the student body is “roughly 30% students of color.” After word of the policy spread in June, prompting meetings with some upset parents, according to the Post, Kassen announced that the approach would not be continued for the upcoming school year. He informed the school community, “We will consider race as we always have but will not use it as the primary factor in determining class placement as was the case in three middle school grades in 20172018.” When asked for comment, Kassen referred The Villager to his statement to the LREI community, which touted “LREI’s historic and current commitment to equity and justice.” “For many years,” the statement read, in part, “LREI has considered race when placing students into classroom groups in the lower and middle divisions as we know that seeing oneself in one’s classmates can have a significant, positive impact on achievement. This is common practice in independent schools. Race is one factor, though not the primary factor, that we consider along with friendships, learning styles, family structure, etc. when placing students in groups.” Kassen’s statement continued, “Anecdotally, many of the students of color grouped this way found the experience to be positive and supportive. “We also heard from families of students of color who felt that while this support might well exist, they saw downsides to students of color feeling that the first thing the school sees is the color of their skin. We must remember that our students of color have a variety of experiences.” Some upset parents told the Post, “I was thinking how antiquated is this? This is backwards. It’s almost like segregation now,” and “It’s almost like, sometimes, in trying to do the right thing, they go too far.” Another parent of recent LREI graduates saw it differently. Nichole ThompsonAdams told NBC News that she liked the policy and generally supported the way LREI has been addressing race and diversity issues. “That’s why I picked that school,” said Thompson-Adams, who is black. “It wasn’t color-blind.” Thompson-Adams’s daughter Sage also supported the famously progressive Village school. In a July 2 Instagram post, she wrote, in part, “As a black kid who literally went here (This is the school I attended growing up) and every year I prayed to be in class with the kids who looked like me (all 5 of them lol). When you drop a bunch of brown kids in an all white environment, they NEED each other.” LREI’s lower and middle schools are located at Sixth Ave. and Bleecker St., while its high school is at 40 Charlton St. It has a


LREI’s middle school, at Bleecker St. and Six th Ave., had been putting students of color in separate homeroom classes, where they spend 30 percent of their schoolday.

total of around 650 students, with annual tuition at $44,000. LREI has a history of trying to address race and diversity, including use of affinity groups, where students are broken up by race during the annual Diversity Day for separate discussions about race issues. In a 2016 interview on “The Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC radio, which focused specifically on the issue of addressing whiteness, Kassen described the benefits of affinity groups in allowing white people to address their race in America, including its advantages. In 2014, LREI students held a walk-out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. A former LREI student, who wished to remain anonymous because of the subject’s sensitive nature, told The Villager that he was thankful for the education he received at LREI. “LREI is, without a doubt, a progressive institution,” he said. “It prides itself on a curriculum and learning environment that explores all sides of history and all opinions. It champions its social-justice ideals. It strives to be inclusive to people of all identities… . But, many well-intentioned attempts to increase inclusivity and to make people of all identities feel more welcome have soured.” He went on to note that some classes only allow for liberal opinions, for the sake of “inclusion.” “The quest for ultimate progressive inclusivity ends up excluding a whole group of people,” he said. “This way of thinking is what I term the ‘LREI bubble.’” He said many of his former classmates felt the same way about the school’s “bub-

ble.” The LREI alumnus found the school’s affinity groups to be mostly successful, though he noted complications when there were smaller subgroups that felt they had separate experiences — for example, Jewish students within the white affinity group. “Furthermore,” he told The Villager, “many students protested the affinity groups as a racist decision by the faculty and student government. It was, to them, segregation by race.” In that context, the former student said he wasn’t surprised when he learned of the recent flap over LREI’s student-placement policy. “I’d say that the school felt they were making a well-intentioned choice...to make minority students feel more comfortable,” he offered. The LREI grad added he did not know whether it was a good policy because there would need to be an assessment of what “good” means and who the policy ultimately benefits. “Here, one thing LREI has taught me comes to mind,” he noted. “We must always acknowledge our identities and learn to live with them in mind, so as not to speak for others.” The former student added, “As a white man, I have never felt like the minority. Even as a Jew, growing up in New York, I have seldom felt like an ‘other.’ In my opinion, scanning over my various identities, I don’t think that it is my place to speak about the merits of this policy. All I can say is that it fits squarely amongst a pattern at LREI where well-intentioned aims to increase inclusivity hypocritically fall short of their goals.” TheVillager.com

POLICE B L O T T E R Woman dead in park On Wed., Aug. 1, around 8:40 p.m., police responded to a 911 call of an unconscious woman inside of Washington Square Park. Responding officers found the adult female, unconscious and unresponsive, with no obvious signs of trauma, sitting on a bench inside the park. E.M.S. responded and transported the woman to Lenox Health Greenwich Village, at W. 12th St. and Seventh Ave., where she was pronounced dead. The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation remains ongoing. According to news reports, the woman appeared to have died of natural causes. As of this Tuesday, the woman’s name and age had not yet been publicly released, and the cause of death was “pending determination at this time,” an M.E. spokesperson said.

Burgled barista On the morning of Tues., July 31, a 21-year-old Starbucks employee put his bookbag with belongings inside the break room of the coffee chain’s shop on Broadway between Ninth and 10th St. According to police, the break room is marked as employees only and is not

accessible to the public, but upon returning to the room to retrieve his bag around 11:30 a.m., the victim noticed that it was missing. Subsequently, he spotted two unfamiliar men inside the store in possession of his property. Store security and employees held the perpetrators until police arrived, but the victim was not able to recover all of his stolen property. The two men, Craig Culver, 43, and John Boker, 47, were arrested for felony burglary.

Pickpocket pinched At 5 p.m. on Sun., June 17, a 67-yearold man had his wallet stolen while taking a walk around Washington Square Park. According to a police report, the victim never felt bumped or jostled in any way during his stroll, and it was only the next day, upon receiving notification of unauthorized charges on both of his credit cards, that he realized his wallet was missing. Nearly two months later, on Aug. 1, a detective arrested Jeffery Gonzalez, 47, for felony grand larceny. The wallet, with its contents of $40 in cash, two credit cards, a driver’s license, a health insurance card, auto registration and a senior MetroCard, was not recovered.

Indecent vegan The former chef of an East Village raw food restaurant was busted for exposing himself — again — to straphangers at the subway station at E. Eighth St. and Broadway, police said. The latest arrest was apparently back in May. The New York Post reported that Dan Hoyt, 55, was caught on surveillance camera masturbating inside the station and then exposing himself to a woman coming down the stairs to the platform. Hoyt was the chef at Quintessence, at 263 E. 10th St., between First Ave. and Avenue A, which was forced to close last year after news reports of his repeated arrests for public exposure and pleasuring himself in the subway. He has been arrested for similar behavior at that subway station before. At his May 11 arraignment on his latest arrest, it was noted that the vegan cook already had four misdemeanor convictions for exposure. “In addition to masturbating publicly inside of the subway station, earlier in the evening, the defendant pulled his pants down in front of the complaining witness and exposed his naked and erect penis to her,” Assistant District Attorney Charles Mafredi told Judge Phyllis Chu, who ordered Hoyt held on $1,000 bail, the Post reported.

In connection with an earlier Jan. 1, 2016, incident perpetrated against a 24-year-old woman, Hoyt pleaded guilty to committing serial acts of public lewdness and agreed to complete a sexoffender program. In that incident, Hoyt yelled to the victim, “Hey, look over here!” as he stood on the platform with his pants around his ankles, the tab reported, then later approached the same woman inside a subway train while whacking off. In November 2016, he took another plea deal for harassing a 25-year-old woman at the same Village subway station, the Post said. “Can I masturbate to you?” he allegedly asked the shocked straphanger. In 2005, Hoyt reportedly exposed himself to at least six women at the 59th St. / Columbus Circle subway station. Hoyt’s ex-partner subsequently opened Vegan Love, a cafe in the location of the shuttered Quintessence, which is next door to Hoyt’s apartment. Hoyt is said to be facing up to a year in jail on the latest charges.

Playground foul play On Sun., Aug. 5, around 10:30 p.m., BLOTTER continued on p. 10

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JUMP continued on p. 0 August 9, 2018


Tale of two ‘Techs’: Pol, preservationist disagree TECH continued from p. 1

tion projects along the Broadway and University Place corridors and strong incentives for including affordable housing in new projects. However, in her remarks before Wednesday’s final vote, Rivera said she had accomplished what she set out to do, and that it was, in fact, “the first in a string of victories” to come. “After eight months of intense negotiations with City Hall, I am satisfied that we are achieving the two most important goals our community needed from this rezoning,” Rivera said. “I am voting yes today for a Tech Hub that will bring true community benefits, tech education and workforce development services that will finally give women, people of color and low-income New Yorkers access to an industry that has unfairly kept them out for far too long. “And I am of course voting yes with the knowledge that we achieved crucial protections for the neighborhood that I have lived in my entire life and seen change so much over the last 15 years,” the councilmember said. “These protections include key landmarkings, a commencement of establishing a protective zoning measure in neighborhoods south of 14th St. that will regulate commercial development, and further resources and commitments from the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development, the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Mayor’s Office that will have a lasting positive impact on the preservation of affordable and historical housing alike. “I believe these protections for the neighborhood are the first in a string of victories that will allow us to develop sensible zoning for livable streets, establish landmarking of precious historical sites, and ensure the small businesses we cherish prosper.” In addition, Rivera noted that the final deal includes an upfront contribution from the tech-skills training center’s developer of $200,000 and an ongoing $200,000 annual contribution to a scholarship and grant fund that would provide additional support for training, tech “boot camp” and certificate opportunities for trainees; plus, a commitment to set a goal of 25 percent of trainees at the training center being Council District 2 residents who meet certain criteria such as income threshold, employment status and public housing residency, among other things. Rivera was the key vote last Thursday on the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee since the project is located in her District 2, which includes the East Village and part of the Lower East Side. She was the only member of the subcommittee to speak before it voted unanimously to approve a special zoning permit for the project. After last Thursday’s vote, Andrew Berman, executive director of G.V.S.H.P., said he was extremely disappointed in the outcome. He said his understanding had always been that Rivera would vote no on the Tech Hub unless the de Blasio administration agreed to the accompanying neighborhood protections. He said Rivera did tell him right before last week’s vote that the city had agreed to a couple of changes, including requiring a special permit to build hotels on Third and Fourth Aves. in the East Village area — “an extra hoop to jump through” for developers, Berman shrugged — and committing to considering seven buildings along Broadway for designation as individual landmarks. “It’s really a fraction of a fraction of what we were asking for,” Berman said. While Rivera, in her remarks last Thursday, pledged to keep working with the administration to ensure that the area around the Tech Hub would be protected from overdevelopment, Berman said she lost all her pull after her vote on the subcommittee. The Council’s Committee on Land Use promptly also approved the Tech Hub that


August 9, 2018

The proposed Tech Hub on E. 14th St. bet ween Third and Four th Aves. would rise bet ween t wo existing N.Y.U. dorms on the former P.C. Richard & Son site.

same day, before the full City Council ultimately went on to approve the project on Wed., Aug. 8. “We all know that once her vote has been cast, she loses all her leverage and it’s wishful thinking that anything more will be granted by the administration,” Berman said. “Carlina did pledge when she was running [for City Council last year], in writing, that she would not vote for the Tech Hub without the neighborhood protections,” Berman said. “And she told me verbally over the weekend [before the subcommittee vote] that she wouldn’t vote for it without them. Disappointingly, that’s exactly what she did. We’re disappointed. “The Tech Hub is definitely going to accelerate the development problems in the West Village and East Village,” the preservationist predicted. “The very, very modest mitigations being offered are not going to be sufficient to halt the transformation of these neighborhoods into Midtown South and Silicon Alley. … I took her at her word,” Berman said of Rivera, “and I have to say, I’m disappointed. “We have a lame-duck mayor who doesn’t care about these issues and is even hostile to them. It was not as important to Carlina as we would have hoped.” The councilmember, however, is bullish on the project, specifically the digital-skills training center that it would include on three of its floors. She had pushed for the training center to be increased to four floors, but it wasn’t immediately clear if she got her wish. The building would also include a number of floors devoted to start-up tech companies that would have short-term leases. In her remarks before the subcommittee vote, Rivera said, “This building could provide a variety of amenities, over 1,400 jobs and provide benefits to our communities from University Place to Avenue D. “These are the streets where I grew up,” she said, “and nothing means more to me than finding a balance that preserves, protects and brings opportunity to every corner of District 2.” She thanked concerned community members for their months of working with her on the issue, and for all the phone calls and letters she had gotten from locals anxious about the project’s impact on the neighborhood. G.V.S.H.P. has been pushing for the rezoning of the University Place and Broadway corridors for four years — even before the Tech Hub plan was hatched. In fact, spurring the initiative was the demolition of the Bowl-

mor building on University for a new residential tower — since built — by Harry Macklowe. Once the Tech Hub project came into the picture, however, the society lobbied to try to link it to its hoped-for rezoning. Rivera said last week that she hoped to get more concessions from City Hall in the days before the final vote. “As I vote yes at the subcommittee hearing,” Rivera said last week, “I want to make it clear that I am doing this so I can continue negotiating with the Mayor’s Office toward a possibility of reaching a deal that will satisfy all impacted communities before next week’s stated meeting,” she said, referring to the full Council vote on Aug. 8. “Over the next few days, I look forward to negotiating and to getting to the point where I and stakeholders are satisfied. “The fight to keep history is important, and our vision for the neighborhood includes character and vibrancy for all generations to come,” she added. “I will not stop working until we reach a deal that provides us with a comprehensive, holistic approach to both access to technology education and protections of our vibrant community. I really think that we can come to a place where we can find a balance and we can have projects and protections that we are proud of.” After Wednesday’s full Council vote, however, Berman said he saw no change from whatever limited protections Rivera had secured as of last Thursday. In response to a question by The Villager about former Councilmember Rosie Mendez’s stance on the Tech Hub, Berman noted that Mendez, Rivera’s predecessor in the Council, had vowed not to approve the Tech Hub unless protections like the ones the society was asking for were put in place. “Rosie made a very public statement when she was councilmember that she wouldn’t vote for the Tech Hub without protections,” Berman said. “My experience with Rosie was that she was always good to her word.” In an e-mailed statement to her constituents after Wednesday’s vote, Rivera acknowledged that City Hall had not been a willing partner in trying to safeguard the surrounding community from overdevelopment. “When it came to neighborhood protections, it seemed that conversations between my team and the city were stalled from the beginning, even as we negotiated back and forth over our many proposals with support from the Council’s Land Use staff and preservationist partners,” Rivera said. “There were many times we said no to City Hall despite knowing what was at stake. “We were frequently reminded by the city that sweeping changes to neighboring areas are not typically included for the rezoning of a single property such as this. But we refused to give up and continued to win commitments from the city for a variety of protections and an ongoing dialogue of how to preserve the neighborhood. “In the end, I recognized that walking away would not only leave our community without a top-flight tech training center, but also without a single neighborhood protection,” Rivera said. “Voting no meant we would still get a tall, glass office building and the same threats of overdevelopment.” However, again, Berman’s main takeaway was that he saw no change from last Thursday. “It’s entirely inaccurate to claim that these very meager measures that are part of this deal even approach the kind of protections that we were talking about, and that she pledged to condition her vote upon,” Berman said. “These couple of measures cover a fraction of the affected area and a fraction of the kinds of development that it’s facing. So to pretend that it’s anything other than a very small response to a huge problem is inaccurate, to say the least.” TheVillager.com

Busloads of worry at L shutdown public meeting LTRAIN continued from p. 1

eral Transportation Administration. The assessment addresses environmental concerns about how the L shutdown plan would impact the affected Manhattan and Brooklyn neighborhoods — from air quality to the aging streets. The M.T.A. did not give a presentation describing the S.E.A.’s findings. Rather, some 40 people — mostly residents — detailed their grievances about air-quality changes they feared would come with adding four new bus routes; preserving local access to buildings on 14th St. despite the addition of a “busway”; worries about congestion nightmares on narrower side streets in the West Village, Soho and Little Italy; and construction projects impacting the flow of street traffic during the shutdown period, among other things. Assemblymember Harvey Epstein added that after a Monday morning tour of the proposed new bus routes, he was concerned about congestion east of Third Ave., where the planned busway would end, foreseeing a problem as the street would be filled with vehicular traffic otherwise restricted from the busway. Epstein stopped short of endorsing a busway that would extend farther — to Avenue C — but said the experts at the M.T.A. and D.O.T. need to find a solution to this potential problem. “[The] volume of pedestrian traffic alone is going to slow things down,” Epstein noted. Epstein and Assemblymember Deborah Glick also asked the M.T.A. to install air-quality monitors and questioned how construction projects would impact the plan’s success. “Unless we have commitments from the Department of Buildings and property owners that we’re not going to be taking streets away, I’m not sure how that’s going to work,” Epstein said. A moratorium on non-emergency construction projects during the shutdown should be considered, Glick and Epstein said. Similarly, Adam Garth, an East Villager for more than three decades, voiced concern about the onslaught of construction in Manhattan. The way that construction takes up street space “puts a further crimp in the system,” he said. Agreeing with the assemblymembers, he suggested that the M.T.A. might consider halting construction during the shutdown. “But that’s about as likely as a snowball in an oven,” he admitted. Garth also asked how the three key agencies — the M.T.A., D.O.T. and the Police Department — would interface. “Even in the best of times, those three agencies don’t even communicate with one another,” he said. “How are they going to do this in uncharted waters?” Numerous people at the meeting said they feared air quality would worsen significantly under the plan — citing the fact that just 15 of the 200 new buses would be electric. The remaining buses are all expected to be diesel. “I’m here because I don’t want my daughter to get asthma,” said Georgette Fleischer, a longtime Nolita resident who lives at the corner of Cleveland Place and Kenmare St. Her apartment is on a corner where, under the current plan, two bus routes would be added. At Community Board 2 last month, D.O.T. proposed two alternative traffic configurations for the Kenmare St. routes. “I think New York City needs to lead on a transportation challenge like this one, and it’s impossible to be a leader...without taking the environmental impact very, very seriously,” she said. “Please, 15 [electricpowered] out of 200 buses is a completely unacceptable token toward environmental responsibility.” TheVillager.com


Several dozen people attended the M.T. A .’s mandator y public hearing on the Supplemental Environmental A ssessment for the L train shutdown plan.

But the S.E.A. — which will later be used to determine if a lengthier Environmental Impact Statement, or E.I.S., is warranted — found no negative air-quality impacts between a “no-action plan” during the L train shutdown and the city’s proposed plan. Greenhouse gas emissions — which are the primary cause of global rising temperatures under climate change — would actually be reduced over the 15-month period because of the added buses and ferries, according to the S.E.A. Furthermore, the 185 added diesel buses have filters that capture 95 percent of particulate matter — one of the key pollutants studied under the assessment. As a result, 14th St. and the new interborough bus routes won’t see significant impacts from particulate matter, the M.T.A. predicts. Compared to taking no action during the L train shutdown, the current mitigation plan would “result in a beneficial temporary impact to air quality,” the S.E.A. states. Many Villagers cited the steam pipe explosion at W. 21st St. and Fifth Ave. on July 19, which spewed asbestos into the surrounding area, saying the aging infrastructure under local streets would not be able to handle the vibrations of added buses and rerouted traffic. But the M.T.A.’s assessment says buses and passenger vehicles have “rubber tires and suspension systems that provide vibration isolation,” so there would be no expected impacts on vibration levels on the new bus routes or surrounding streets from diverted traffic. A group of Soho and Little Italy residents, calling themselves the Kenmare / Little Italy Loop Coalition, felt their concerns were ignored. Pete Davies, a longtime Soho community activist, noted that, compared to 14th St., Kenmare St. was hardly mentioned in the S.E.A. The coalition slammed the M.T.A. for a lack of details on the proposed new interborough bus routes, particularly those that would run along Kenmare St., and for lack of a clear plan to manage the flow of vehicles diverted toward Downtown neighborhoods from 14th St. and the Williamsburg Bridge. The new Loop Coalition is also requesting resources for advertising to aid local businesses, which the coalition fears would be harmed by the influx of buses and crowds during the year-and-a-half-long L train shutdown. “[A] traffic plan should never be drawn up from a

desk,” Michele Campo, a member of the Loop Coalition and president of the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, told the M.T.A. officials. “The impact from traffic cannot be seen from an office.” Some West Villagers were concerned about maintaining local access to buildings on 14th St. However, D.O.T. has agreed to grant local access to residents through a system where delivery trucks, cabs and forhire vehicles can turn onto 14th St. as long as the vehicle turns off the busway by the next avenue. Bus lane cameras and the police would enforce those rules, according to presentations that the M.T.A. and D.O.T. made to Community Boards 2 and 3 last month. “This is the first time I’ve been out in eight days,” said Georgie Michelle, a 14th St. resident since 1972. “I wanna know what you’re going to do for me. I won’t be able to get food. I won’t be able to go to the doctor.” Michelle said she relies on FreshDirect to get food and a car service to go to the doctor. Because the meeting was a public comment session rather than a question-and-answer style hearing, the M.T.A. representatives didn’t inform Michelle that 14th St. residents would have vehicle access to their doorways. Christopher Godfrey, one of the few Brooklyn attendees, noted that some groups were severely underrepresented at the public meeting. His own fellow Brooklyn commuters living off the J and Z lines, namely black, Latino and Orthodox Jewish straphangers, were hardly represented. It’s expected that the J, M and Z lines would absorb nearly one-third of displaced L train riders. Most who testified at the 5 p.m. Monday meeting had attended previous public hearings or live in Manhattan. “These are all heavy public transportation users, and I’m little bit surprised that they’re not here,” said Godfrey, a clinical psychology professor at Pace University. But he also asked the M.T.A. how the “citizen science” represented by the groups that were present is used to make decisions. “[This is] an opportunity to collect that kind of narrative data,” he said, “and put it into service and at least know what was the story before, what do people know, what were the plans, how did the plans change, [and] what was the degree of accuracy of their knowledge.” August 9, 2018



Captain O’Hare gave his “rap” to the public at the Village’s Night Out Against Crime. No, despite the deejay behind him, he was not literally rapping, but welcoming ever yone to the event.

Bring on the Night Out: Police & public party


he plaza at Fiorello LaGuardia’s statue was the perfect venue for the Sixth Precinct’s National Night Out Against Crime event on Tues., Aug. 7. Members of the Village police precinct joined community members for some neighborly fun. A deejay played lively music, encouraging dancing, while hot dogs and hamburgers were grilled and ind served up to everyone, ev

cluding any passersby. Captain Robert O’Hare, the Sixth’s commanding officer, greeted all, and later on, Councilmember Margaret Chin stopped by with a proclamation for the “C.O.” and citations for active community members. The party wrapped up about 45 minutes early when thunder and lightning started, and everyone was gone by the time the downpour began.

Keeping it real cool with a Guardian Angel from the Christopher St. Patrol.


August 9, 2018

Flashing her Studio 54 days form, LaGuardia gardener Sara Jones cut a rug, albeit on the pavement. TheVillager.com

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August 9, 2018


Haring paints pool as Koch, Cuomo plan park FLASHBACK BY GABE HERMAN


age One of The Villager on Aug. 27, 1987, featured two photos of Keith Haring, with “a helping hand from Parks Commissioner Henry Stern,” as Haring worked Aug. 20 on a new mural at the Carmine St. outdoor swimming pool. The caption read, in part, “The 29-year-old artist’s work celebrates swimming and physical fitness and includes his familiar gingerbreadman-like figures on the 150-foot wall adjoining the pool.” The mural, in blue, yellow, black and white, by the legendary Haring is still at the pool to this day. Also on Page One was an article about Mayor Edward Koch and Governor Mario Cuomo announcing plans to move forward on construction of a highway and waterfront esplanade along the West Side of Manhattan north of Chambers St., based on recommendations from the West Side Task Force. The announcement also noted, “Appropriate community participation and advice will be incorporated in this effort,” which was a concern for local groups, who didn’t know exactly what their level of involvement would be.


Keith Haring, left, getting some help from a bearded former Parks Commissioner Henr y Stern as the ar tist painted a mural at the pool at the Carmine St. Recreation Center, since renamed for Tony Dapolito.

Then-Community Board 2 Chairperson Rosemary McGrath said she was pleased to see some movement forward and the inclusion of an esplanade, but was concerned the door was being left open for private waterfront development. “Although it’s good news to hear that


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August 9, 2018

the Community Boards will participate in the new planning entity for the West Side Highway development,” she said, “there is nothing at present to indicate that we are guaranteed protection from such development.” The current Route 9A a.k.a. West Side Highway would be completed in 2001. It replaced the West Side Elevated Highway, also known as the Miller Elevated Highway, for Manhattan Borough President Julius Miller; it was closed in 1973 after a section collapsed and torn down in 1987. Other articles included a voter-registration drive for homeless people held on Aug. 15 at Third St. and sponsored by a group of homeless New Yorkers called the Homeless American Citizens Council, which registered 177 people to vote; and Mayor Koch’s Transitional

Housing Plan approved without a new proposed shelter in the East Village on E. First St., after a compromise with Borough President David Dinkins. Many East Village locals, groups and officials strongly opposed building a shelter near the existing E. Third St. Men’s Shelter, which was the biggest one in the city. Ads in the paper included one for the Sweet Basil jazz club, at 88 Seventh Ave. South between Bleecker and Grove Sts., which was hosting shows as part of the Greenwich Village Jazz Festival ’87; the Waverly Theater, at Third St. and Sixth Ave., showing “Fourth Protocol,” starring Michael Caine, and a cult horror movie called “Street Trash”; and a posting for “Immediate openings for 2 year olds” at Gingerbread, a daycare center inside P.S. 3 at 490 Hudson St.

Police Blotter BLOTTER continued from p. 5

near a playground in Washington Square Park, a 51-year-old man was assaulted by an alleged acquaintance. According to a police report, the assailant struck the victim with a shovel on the arm and the head before fleeing on foot. Despite a laceration, bleeding, pain and swelling, the victim refused medical attention at the scene. Responding officers identified and arrested Roy Miller, 50, for felony assault. Police did not give a motive for the attack.

Subway thug Around 11 p.m. on Thurs., Aug. 2,

a 27-year-old woman was waiting at the W. Fourth St. station for the southbound F train, when a man approached and punched her multiple times in the face and head, causing pain and bruising under the right eye. A police report said the perpetrator then took the woman’s handbag and fled to the northeast corner of Sixth Ave. and W. Fourth St. where Officers Ambrecht and Pena apprehended him without incident. A canvass of the scene was conducted and the bag and all contents were recovered. Michael Key, 45, was arrested for felony robbery.

Lucy Stone and Lincoln Anderson TheVillager.com

Bob Wilson, 78, Knickerbocker tenant leader



he late Bob Wilson, who died last month at 78 in an apparent suicide, was a towering figure for years at Knickerbocker Village, his home on the Lower East Side since childhood. A Marine during the Vietnam War, he had become a passionate man of the people, the tall go-to guy for tenants at the sprawling 1,590-unit monolith bounded by Monroe, Cherry, Catherine and Market Sts. He seemed to know everyone. When I first interviewed him in 2012, Wilson recalled the day when F.B.I. agents arrested his neighbors Julius and Ethel Rosenberg as accused atomic spies in 1950. When I asked him about mafia tenants at K.V., he told me a few stories about the midlevel operatives of the Bonnano crime family who had found safe haven at the fortress-like affordable-housing complex of a dozen 13-story brick buildings that stand between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges near the East River. He didn’t seem to be afraid of wise guys or any one else. His passing, however, remains shrouded in mystery. No one I contacted at Knickerbocker Village returned calls or e-mails about the Internet posts reporting that Wilson plunged to his death from the balcony of his Monroe St. penthouse apartment on July 2. One of the posts was from the Lo-Down Web site. Its headline remains but the story has been removed. “We killed the story at the request of the family,” said Ed Litvak, the site’s editor in chief and co-founder, responding to an e-mail from The Villager. The Office of the New York City Chief Medical Examiner confirmed that Wilson’s death was a suicide, caused by “multiple blunt-impact injuries.” Nancy Avalos Omana, a public-affairs intern for the M.E., said the office could not provide additional information. Managers at Knickerbocker Village’s rental office at 10 Monroe St. were clearly uncomfortable about the subject. One said he couldn’t comment without talking to his boss, presumably David Robinson, executive director of Cherry Gardens Property Corp., which owns the complex. A woman who answered the phone suggested there had been an on-site memorial for Wilson, once the elected president of the Knickerbocker Village Tenants Association. But word got around in Lower Manhattan that Wilson had died, and prominent community leaders praised his activism during crises at Knickerbocker Village. “He was wonderful, particularly durTheVillager.com


Bob Wilson, right, with then-A ssembly Speaker Sheldon Silver at a gathering in Knickerbocker Village in 2013 to announce federal funding to begin repairs of elevators damaged by Superstorm Sandy.

ing Sandy,” said Susan Stetzer, district manager of Community Board 3. She was, of course, referring to the late October 2012 superstorm that devastated Knickerbocker Village, when floodwaters swept through its mechanical rooms, knocking out power and stranding elderly and disabled tenants on the upper floors.

‘He was the best advocate anyone could want.’ Susan Stetzer

“I worked with him on service-delivery issues at Knickerbocker Village for years,” Stetzer said of Wilson. “But during Sandy he organized elected officials and took them on tours of the buildings, so they could see the problems of tenants and get their support. He was the best advocate anyone could want and a wonderful person to work with.” This reporter vividly remembers Wilson moderating a post-Sandy meeting of about 100 tenants when the lights and

heating at Knickerbocker Village had been restored but telephone service was still spotty in early December 2012. Wilson excoriated on-site managers for failing to have a contingency plan in place when Sandy hit. “We need to be more proactive so that we can mitigate a disaster like this from happening again!” he thundered, as representatives from the city and state sat on metal chairs and scribbled notes in the complex’s basement. “And it will happen again!” he warned. “Tell the owners what you want! We’ll get it for you!” He exhorted the tenants to organize building by building and rally for improvements, like storm proofing in Knickerbocker Village’s basements. Last Wednesday, I found an online remembrance of Wilson that was posted July 8 from Dallas, Texas, on a Web site called nyc.epeak.in. In it, a Brooklyn artist wrote that Wilson was born in Washington, D.C., and had moved to New York City as a child with his mother. He worked as a chief lifeguard at Coney Island, the post continued, and later studied at Brooklyn College, going on to hold the position of chief of the Bureau of Investments for New York City “for many years” before his retirement. The artist claimed on another site that Wilson was being treated for “Post Traumatic Stress and Major Depressive Disorder.” He was reportedly married years ago, after which he had a 28-year relationship with a woman who predeceased him. Wilson seemed calm and measured in his words at a 2013 gathering of elected officials in one of Knickerbocker Village’s courtyards who had come to announce federal disaster-relief funding of nearly $1.5 million to begin the first phase of repairs on elevators damaged

the year before by Sandy’s onslaught. One by one they spoke, among them former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, former state Senator Daniel Squadron and City Councilmember Margaret Chin, and several other pols Wilson had worked with for years. All of them described local government efforts to help Knickerbocker tenants during the crisis — with local politicians knocking on doors, speaking in different languages, visiting the elderly, bringing in food, working to get the lights and heat back on and summoning the Red Cross to set up tents and get meals for displaced residents. Bob Wilson spoke briefly as a tenant leader, thanking the various officials for their help. Then he stated: “Number one, I’d like to thank the residents of Knickerbocker Village for enduring what they endured with grace.” Despite the demons that apparently afflicted Wilson in his last days, I believe that this big-hearted man never stopped caring about the thousands of residents at Knickerbocker Village. Chin responded to his death with a heartfelt statement for this newspaper, noting she was “deeply saddened by the passing of Bob Wilson, a true New Yorker who worked tirelessly to improve his community through public service. A selfless and dedicated tenant leader, Bob worked to inspire an inclusive movement for tenants’ rights in Knickerbocker Village by empowering residents to fight against rent increases, bridging coalitions with other communities and cultivating the next generation of tenant leaders in Lower Manhattan. He was recognized by everyone in the community for his strong values, conviction and hunger for change, and his lifetime of passionate, resilient leadership will be remembered for generations to come.” August 9, 2018


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Hard to stomach this

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To The Editor: Da Marcella, until very recently at 142 W. Houston St., was a local restaurant with a relaxed environment and delicious food at very reasonable prices. It was an immediate success after it opened in 2014 — and we thought it would be here for a long time to come. As recently reported by the New York Post, the sudden, unexpected demise was the result of a wheelchair-bound man who searches for restaurants that lack wheelchair access. He and his attorney tell the restaurant owner that they will sue the restaurant unless the owner pays them $25,000. This is extortion. And providing wheelchair access would reduce Da Marcella’s already minimal space by so much that making eough profit to remain in business would be impossible. So the owner, Max Leifer, closed the restaurant. The man doing this, Jose Figueroa, and his attorney, Stuart Finkelstein, have filed 21 similar court cases since 2017. And who knows how many proprietors have chosen to pay them $25,000 to avoid the lawsuit. Someone has to put this pair out of business! Sheila Haas

Pols short on solutions To The Editor: Re “C.B. 2 focuses on filling in the empty storefronts” (news article, Aug. 2): We needed this committee and forum. We also need our politicians to really do something to help save organic small business in New York City. What’s happening in the Village and around the city is just unacceptable, and everyone has to push for efforts to save our small businesses — not “curated small business.” Alison Greenberg

BIDs part of problem

We cover “The Cube”!

To The Editor: Re “C.B. 2 focuses on filling in the empty storefronts” (news article, Aug. 2):


Business improvement districts are the greatest failures in the city’s history. If BIDs did their jobs, the businesses would not be empty in the first place. BIDs are property-owner organizations whose boards are primarily landlords and banks and chains. All of them have benefited from the real estate speculation the past two decades and want to keep the status quo. The BIDs’ record is a disgrace and, in any major city in the world, all of them would have been banned entirely for allowing small business owners to be destroyed by these same BIDs’ board members. They are also anti-immigrant for allowing the mostly immigrant owners to be extorted for cash by unscrupulous landlords when their leases expire. Others are only given short-term leases — sometimes month to month or just one year. Walk down any main street in New York City and you will see the failure of BIDs. How do they explain the courts evicting, on average, 490 businesses each month since BIDs began expanding in New York City? Or the estimated 1,000 small businesses closing each month? And yet the BIDs can’t admit what every New Yorker knows: The rents are out of control and the one-sided lease-renewal process and greed are killing our businesses. Only legislation giving rights to business owners can save our mom-and-pop stores — not fake studies or worthless Department of Small Business Services programs or more BIDs. Not one agency in the city has a business- or job-retention program! The BIDs are the problem, not the solution. Steve Barrison Barrison is executive vice president and spokesperson, Small Business Congress of New York City

Siegel as creative Villager To The Editor: Re “Soho group is still preaching, quietly, the principles of Eli” (news article, July 19): I am confused by the purpose of this article. The name of the publication is The Villager, correct? Why on earth did Gabe Herman not write about Eli Siegel as a Villager? Siegel was a renowned poet, literary critic, lecturer, philosopher and more, who made significant contributions to Village literary and cultural life. The New York Times once described Siegel as “hilariously LETTERS continued on p. 22

Apple Inc. becomes the only trillion-dollar firm. 12

August 9, 2018


On the S.B.J.S.A., this time, let’s get it right TALKING POINT BY SHARON WOOLUMS


hose who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” Winston Churchill said at the Cold War’s outset in 1948 (paraphrasing writer George Santayana). Now, with our city in crisis, New York City’s leading small business advocate, Sung Soo Kim — the author of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act and founder of the Small Business Congress and the city’s oldest small business service center — asserts, “The new litmus test for lawmakers claiming to support the S.B.J.S.A. to affirm the best solution to the crisis, is their willingness to call for the resolution of any legal challenge before a hearing of the bill…or history will repeat itself.” Kim has written City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s Office twice requesting his legal department to do its duty and resolve nebulous legal challenges to the bill that it created in 2009. Despite former Speaker Christine Quinn’s legal challenge to the S.B.J.S.A., preventing a hearing for eight years, the speaker’s legal department has yet to produce legitimate case-law review to substantiate claims or offer amendments to satisfy legal concerns. Let’s do a quick recap, so that we are not condemned to repeat the Council’s past devastating failures — of which we know the dire consequences. In April 2009, David Yassky, then chairperson of the Council’s Small Business Committee, became the first New York City lawmaker in 30 years to declare that the city’s small businesses faced a crisis. The largest independent study of immigrant business owners clearly detailed the crisis to survive. Of 1,000 Hispanic business owners, a shocking 53 percent claimed they were at risk of closing due to high rents. Yassky responded to this independent survey, saying, “The major creators of our jobs, our small businesses are going out of business… . The one thing we cannot do in the face of this crisis is nothing.” Yassky, with progressive lawmakers’ support, gained a prompt hearing on the S.B.J.S.A., which gives business tenants the right to 10-year renewal leases and equal rights with landlords to negotiate new lease terms, with an arbitration process if agreement cannot be reached. “I believe that we absolutely have to do something, period,” he said of the purpose of holding a hearing on the issue. “It’s not an option to do nothing. We cannot allow them [stores] to be pushed to the point of disappearance....” At the hearing’s conclusion, all his fellow committee members chose the S.B.J.S.A. as the best solution to stop closings and save small businesses. Thirty-two councilmembers sponsored the bill, demonstrating effective democracy at work. Next, however, the powerful real estate lobby — the Real Estate Board of New York, or REBNY — in collusion with then-Speaker Quinn’s Office, cooked up a bogus roadblock, claiming the bill’s “legal issues” would not stand up to a court challenge. Without an iota of evidence to substantiate this false claim, a vote was stopped on the S.B.J.S.A., which had been certain to pass easily and end the crisis. The process of repeatedly “rigging the system” to stop the S.B.J.S.A. began. Sadly, had democracy worked at City Hall, and the bill been allowed to pass into law, your favorite businesses would still be open today. Because the majority of small businesses are imTheVillager.com


In June, Lady Gaga caused a commotion on W. Eighth St. as she headed into Electric Lady Studios to record. In a sign of the times, the store behind her in the photo, Mountain Side Crafts, which sold jewelr y, textiles and gifts from Tibet and Nepal, and had been there 12 years, recently closed.

migrant-owned, stopping a vote on what many call the only real solution to save them was proclaimed anti-immigrant. In turn, our government’s economic policy, controlled by REBNY, was branded “The Oligarchy.”

They don’t want to pass the S.B.J.S.A.

One by one, lawmakers who were formerly progressive champions and strong voices for the S.B.J.S.A., fell in line with REBNYs’ position. Former S.B.J.S.A. advocates in the City Council — like Bill de Blasio,

Letitia James and former Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, among others — took REBNY campaign funds and used its influence to promote their own political careers. Becoming silent on the S.B.J.S.A., never mentioning the bill or the crisis spiraling out of control, several of them joined in the “rigging” to stop the S.B.J.S.A. As these politicians abandoned progressive values and a moral obligation to serve people in need, the crisis spread to every neighborhood in the city, while the only real solution, the S.B.J.S.A., was denied a public hearing. Finally, today, after eight years, the Council’s new speaker, Corey Johnson, has pledged to give the S.B.J.S.A. a public hearing. Unlike his predecessors Quinn and Mark-Viverito, Johnson acknowledges the growing crisis faced by our small businesses and has pledged to find a solution. Will democracy finally be restored? The past eightyear charade at City Hall has seen every “progressive” proclaiming to be a friend of small business, calling it “the backbone of our economy,” all the while being complicit in the rigging to stop the S.B.J.S.A. Lawmakers, promoting REBNY, created worthless govSBJSA continued on p. 16 August 9, 2018


‘Whose park? Our park!’ Rebel spirit rocks


Crowd-sur fing, on his way to the stage.

Scotty Skitzo, bottom, and Jism handled vocals for the band Skitzopolis. Jism is also in the legendar y punk band Ism.



ou could almost have called it “Two Days of Peace and Love in The Park,” if the music weren’t so aggressive.


August 9, 2018

The well-attended punk concerts Saturday and Sunday, featuring, among others, the bands Breakdown, Choking Victim and Sea Monster, were without incident, in marked contrast to the event they were commemorating — the

A s Sea Monster lead singer Ar thur Stevenson contemplated the state of the union, a masked man in a leather pig mask breathed fire.

riots in Tompkins Square Park that took place 30 years ago. Activist lawyer Norman Siegel, speaking to the crowd, called that debacle “the largest example ever of police violence against the people of New York

City.” The weekend was produced by Chris Flash, with help from other community activists, such as Chris Iconicide — who CONCERTS continued on p. 15 TheVillager.com

on at Tompkins riots anniversary concerts

Feeling the burn: a traditional ritual at the riots anniversar y concer ts.

Chris Iconicide led his band, Iconicide, from the pavement below the stage, accompanied by the ubiquitous No. 13 tomahawk guy. CONCERTS continued from p. 14

also performed — and Johnny Vee. Flash, the publisher and editor of the underground community newspaper TheVillager.com

The Shadow, talked about the importance of recalling the riot. “We must never let the events be forgotten,” he said. “The point is not to celebrate being beaten up by cops, but

Veteran rockers Sea Monster blasted the crowd with their biker blues that has been likened to the Stooges, Dolls and Motorhead.

to keep the issues alive.” The issues being, “gentrification, homelessness and the inability of people and business to remain in the neighborhood.” “And,” he added, “because it’s still

our f---ing park!” More shows are scheduled for Sept. 8 and 9. Check The Shadow Facebook page for details. August 9, 2018


Allies of â&#x20AC;&#x2122;88 reunite

S.B.J.S.A.: Get it right SBJSA continued from p. 13


At last weekendâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s anniversar y concer ts for the 30th anniversar y of the Tompkins Square Park riot, civil-rights attorney Norman Siegel, left, who represented many of the individuals beaten by police that night, greeted Clay ton Patterson, who filmed one of the main videotapes that documented the mayhem. Siegel noted that more than 50 innocent people were beaten up by police that night. In addition, he said, out of more than 120 complaints filed against police for more than 140 â&#x20AC;&#x153;acts of brutalit y,â&#x20AC;? only one officer was disciplined â&#x20AC;&#x201D; conveniently, a female cop, he noted. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It was ostensibly about a cur few,â&#x20AC;? Siegel recalled of the riot. â&#x20AC;&#x153;But it was really about the lifest yle and the people who come to Tompkins Square Park. It was the beginning of gentrification. ... Tompkins Square Park has always been a ver y controversial site,â&#x20AC;? he noted, â&#x20AC;&#x153;because of the political activism and because...of the rebellious spirit that has always been in the park.â&#x20AC;?

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ernment programs, ensuring the status quo. Will the powerful â&#x20AC;&#x153;Oligarchyâ&#x20AC;? (REBNY) still control the destiny of any legislation that regulates its members, the wealthy landlords? Did the rigging continue with REBNY picking a loyal chairperson of the Small Business Committee, and also picking the S.B.J.S.A. prime sponsor and loyal committee members? Will a fake hearing look and sound like the one held eight years earlier by Yassky â&#x20AC;&#x201D; but with a hidden purpose? Will the City Council revert to form after the hearing, behind closed doors, changing and watering down the bill to something palatable to REBNY? To answer these questions, I asked our local councilmembers, Speaker Johnson, Margaret Chin and Carlina Rivera, eight basic questions, including, â&#x20AC;&#x153;What do you see as the goal of the S.B.J.S.A.?â&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;As a present or past proud sponsor of the S.B.J.S.A., what factor or factors of the bill convinced you to give it your full support and made you proud to sponsor it?â&#x20AC;? Considering how important this bill is to the future of small business owners and our community â&#x20AC;&#x201D; quality of life! â&#x20AC;&#x201D; I was surprised, after extending my deadline three times, that still no lawmaker responded. For this talking point, I narrowed it down to only one question: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Do you believe all the legal challenges to the S.B.J.S.A. should be resolved prior to a hearing on the bill? Yes or no?â&#x20AC;? With the legal challenges controlling the S.B.J.S.A.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fate for the past eight years, it is of utmost importance to resolve the central question hanging over the bill. Once again, I was disappointed to receive no response from our three Downtown councilmembers. Even more disappointing for me, for an issue Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been advocating on for five years, things recently got up front and personal! Four businesses â&#x20AC;&#x201D; two that had been there for 30 years, the others for 12 and 2 years â&#x20AC;&#x201D; on my block of W. Eighth St. shut down last month â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the heart of the Village!

Mark Gjonaj, the Small Business Committeeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new chairperson, led the charge at a bogus City Hall rally in June billed to help protect small businesses. Gjonaj just happens to be the most prolandlord lawmaker in the City Council. We have to wonder and ask why Speaker Johnson, who claims to be a proud sponsor of the S.B.J.S.A. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and who has called a hearing on this bill â&#x20AC;&#x201D; would choose Gjonaj as the pitchman to â&#x20AC;&#x153;helpâ&#x20AC;? small business and find a real solution to end the crisis. The election campaign of this councilmember, who is the owner of a real estate company, was heavily financed by real estate, and Gjonaj is repeatedly on record opposing the S.B.J.S.A. or any legislation regulating landlords â&#x20AC;&#x201D; even including residential rent regulation! Tellingly, no one at this rally mentioned sky-high rents as the major problem for small businessesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; survival. Instead, they focused on burdensome fines by the city, among other things. Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, the only one at the rally to mention the S.B.J.S.A. at all, quickly added the REBNY-inspired â&#x20AC;&#x153;toolboxâ&#x20AC;? rhetoric of, â&#x20AC;&#x153;We plan on doing many measures to help small business.â&#x20AC;? His chant before his speech was â&#x20AC;&#x153;Yes We Can!â&#x20AC;? Given the substance of this rally, though, it should have been â&#x20AC;&#x153;No We Wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t!â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; pass the S.B.J.S.A. as is! Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s very discouraging that the lawmakers involved have no intention of passing the S.B.J.S.A. It was very clear at that rally: They were there to blame anything and everything as the problem rather than landlordsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; astronomical rents. My advice: Yâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;all stay cool â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and away from hot air, as in REBNY-influenced politicians! No, history must not repeat itself. This city cannot afford that. Speaker Johnson has given us this opportunity â&#x20AC;&#x201D; letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s get it right this time! Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a call to action: Call your councilmember. Ask her or him, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Why wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t you want to settle the billâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;legal issueâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; before the hearing?â&#x20AC;? You just might have better luck getting an answer as a voting constituent than I did representing the paper of record for their district.

SHERIFFâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S SALE BY VIRTUE OF AN EXECUTION ISSUED OUT OF THE SUPREME COURT, NEW YORK COUNTY, in favor of THE CITY OF NEW YORK, and against ERROL RAINESS, to me directed and delivered, I WILL SELL AT PUBLIC AUCTION, by Dennis Alestra DCA# 0840217., auctioneer, as the law directs, FOR CASH ONLY, on the 12TH day of SEPTEMBER, 2018, at 11 Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;CLOCK IN THE FORENOON, at: NEW YORK COUNTY SHERIFFâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S OFFICE, 66 JOHN STREET, 13TH FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10038 in the county of NEW YORK all the right, title and interest which ERROL RAINESS, the judgment debtor(s), had on the 31 ST day of OCTOBER, 2015, or at anytime thereafter, of, in and to the following properties: 212 7TH AVENUE, NEW YORK, NY 10011 BLOCK: 772 LOT: 44 ALL that certain plot, piece or parcel of land, with the buildings and improvements thereon erected, situate, lying and being in the County of New York, City and State of New York, bounded and described as follows: BEGNINING at a point of the intersection of the Northerly Side of 22nd Street, with the Westerly Side of Seventh Avenue RUNNING THENCE westerly along the Northerly side of 22nd Street, 17 Feet 3-1/2 inches; THENCE northerly parallel with said Seventh Avenue, and part of the distance through a Party Wall, 49 feet 5 inches; THENCE easterly parallel with said 22nd Street 17 feet 3-1/2 inches to said Westerly side of Seventh Avenue; and THENCE southerly along the westerly side of Seventh Avenue, 49 feet 5 inches to the point or place of BEGINNING FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY: 212 7th Avenue, New York, NY a/k/a Block 772 Lot 44 on the New York County Tax Map.

Fidelis Care is fully committed to Equal Employment Opportunity and to attracting, retaining,   



religion, sexual orientation, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, citizenship status,                   


August 9, 2018

For conveyancing only: TOGETHER with all the right, title and interest of the party of the first part, of in and to the land lying in the street in front of an adjoining said premises. JOSEPH FUCITO Sheriff of the City of New York


A sweet dish with no empty calories Renée Taylor’s delightful ‘Diet’ leaves you hungry for more

Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Renée Taylor dishes from the comfort of her desk.

BY SCOTT STIFFLER Taking audiences on a bittersweet but appetizing trip through decades’ worth of weight loss schemes, Renée Taylor’s “My Life on a Diet” delivers on the promise of that title, while distinguishing itself as an excellent source of food for thought on everything from personal loss to self-acceptance to the thorny realities of writing, acting, and relationships. Unlike the cake she poses with on the Playbill’s front page, there are no empty calories here, no ill-advised indulgences — just Taylor, dishing up large portions of intimate anecdotes and well-delivered TheVillager.com

punchlines (the gal’s got a sense of timing sharper than your most dangerous kitchen knife). She’s so sweet, you’ll eat this show right up, and leave feeling as if you still have room for more. Making her grand entrance onto a set whose leopard print look pays homage to the tacky excess of her signature role (as mother to the titular sitcom character on 1993-1999’s “The Nanny”), the glammed-up 85-year-old plants herself at a desk and announces she’ll be staying there for the duration (“I can walk, and I can sit. I just have trouble sitting after I walk and getting up and walking after I sit.”). She then

puts on a pair of glasses (“for reading, distance, balance, perception, and seeing”), and gives an introduction worthy of its own 12-step group: “My name is Renée, and I am a food tramp — that is someone who eats around.” Those zingers, witty and insightful while walking the line between selfdeprecation and hard-won defiance, are typical of the script, tweaked in its current form by producer Julian Schlossberg and Taylor’s friend, Elaine May, and co-created by her late husband, Joseph Bologna — with whom she had a long marriage and a successful writing/performing partnership. The

result is a breezy but substantive memoir that views Taylor’s body image issues through the prism of a hardscrabble upbringing, training with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio, consistent work on the TV talk show circuit, and a slew of Broadway and Hollywood credits. Taylor’s had quite a career, and counts at least one megastar as a knew-herwhen friend. (Spoiler alert: It’s Barbra Streisand, and Taylor’s account of swapping clothes during their lean years is one of many tales about the rich and famous, supported by photos and video DIET continued on p. 19 August 9, 2018


Greek tragedy for morons A Trumpian drama tailored to true believers BY MAX BURBANK It’s about as close as he’ll every get to a Sunrise Service. At 5:35 a.m. on Sunday, August 5, our presumptive president took a moment from his 11-day summer golf vacation to tweet an admission that the statement he dictated for his namesake son, regarding the infamous Trump Tower meeting with a government-affiliated Russian lawyer, was a lie. For months, the transparently ridiculous White House line has been that the meeting was about the adoption of Russian children. Now, according to Trump’s tweet, “Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics — and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!” Italics added to indicate the point where, without the least bit of human shame or embarrassment, Trump officially reverses one of his longest-standing official lies. It will come as no surprise to anyone who reads my column regularly: This was not what I originally intended to write about — but lucky me, it fits my theme perfectly. Here’s the seemingly unrelated question that kicked off the original train of thought: What do you think Rudy Giuliani’s shelf life is? How much longer can he go on before Trump claims to barely know him, and describes him as someone he briefly employed; a coffee boy, good for the occasional shoe shine? Rudy’s fall won’t be because he clumsily exposes Trump’s lies about pay-offs to porn stars and centerfolds, or that his client engages in obstruction of justice as often as he golfs. Trump is perfectly capable of doing that kind of damage himself, as Sunday’s tweet makes clear. There’s only one truly mortal sin in Trumpsylvania: becoming the story. Giuliani is the latest in a parade of quivering slug-puppy sycophants, rolling on their backs, exposing their fuzzy little throats and tummies, mewling and wetting themselves for Trump’s affection and approval. Instead, like everyone who’s stolen a bit too much of Trump’s thunder — from the bloated, animated corpse of failed-Robert-Redford-clonebobbing-in-a-jar-of-formaldehyde Steve Bannon to hang-dog consigliore/fixer and poor-man’s-Joe-Pesci-impersonator Michael Cohen — Giuliani is going to


August 9, 2018

Illustration by Max Burbank

get a thorough public kicking before being stuffed into a space under a bus so crowded with castoffs, the wheels no longer touch the ground. So Trump reenacts his desperate, loveless childhood, this time playing the role of his own father, Frederick Christ Trump, and no, I did not make up that middle name. It’s real. It’s a Greek Tragedy for Morons — and once you allow that this drama is being played out for the benefit of Trump’s true believer base, all the elements of Tragedy are in place. Trump is their Orange Agamemnon — not just the good and decent protagonist Tragedy requires, but the greatest, most bigly leader in the entire history of leadering! You can’t have a Greek Tragedy without a chorus, so here comes QAnon from the wings, following their white rabbit down its hole, out onto the stage, and into the limelight. It’s hard to say just what QAnon believes, as each adherent ladles their own bowl from a vast trough of leftover conspiracy theory gumbo — but they come together around certain essentials.

See, Q is this guy (Guys? Gals?) with a Q-level security clearance, which is equal to “top secret” in the Department of Energy. If Q isn’t actually a Russian government troll (spoiler alert, there’s like a 99.99999% chance he/she’s a Russian government troll), does that security clearance work anywhere but the DOE? Anyway, “Q” doles out “crumbs” for disciples, or “bakers,” on super-reliable websites like 4chan and 8chan, and presumably, ultra-secret, dark web 16chan, and they “bake” them into an understanding of “The Storm” — a reference to that time Trump scared the piss out of everybody by referring to a White House gathering of top military brass as “The calm before the storm.” So. The perfect Greek chorus for an audience of morons. Trump’s tragic flaw is naturally the very best tragic flaw, the one with the highest ratings: hubris — and not just average, store-bought hubris, but a designer brand delivering a level of pride and arrogance on such a scale it offends the gods. He’s smarter than the generals; he consults himself on foreign policy because he has “a very good

brain” and a “world-class memory.” But see, Achilles’ hubris was understandable. He was a nearly invincible gentleman who briefly forgot his unfortunate heel issues. That’s tragic! Trump believes he’s the smartest man on the planet when all signs to point to him being something of a dimwit. So Trump’s hubris is only tragic to morons, real Achilles heels being way more tragic than imaginary bone spurs! And now we approach a dreadful climax he’s been practicing for since shortly after he won the Electoral College. After sacrificing a slew of child-like, desperate-to-please staff in unsuccessful attempts to derail the Fates in the Special Counsel’s Office, Trump’s ready to chuck an actual child of his own blood on the pyre; his namesake, no less! I’m certain praise was a rare commodity in the Trump household, but is Jr. emotionally starved enough to swoon over being called “wonderful son” and not comprehend the import of the rest of the tweet? Because it isn’t “totally legal” to “get information on an opponent” when that information is being provided by a HOSTILE FOREIGN NATION! It isn’t “done all the time in politics.” In fact, there seems to be no record of it ever having been done in the history of American presidential campaigns. The fact that it “went nowhere” doesn’t change anything! If attempting to commit a crime and failing isn’t illegal, why am I wearing this ankle bracelet, which chafes and absolutely ruins the otherwise pleasing look of my form-fitting slacks? Look at the closing line: “I did not know about it!” might as well read, “You got the wrong Donald Trump! It was Junior!” He’s sacrificing his own son! And there’s no way it’s going to be enough! Tragedy! Except a real Tragedy is supposed to provoke not just suffering, but insight, on the part of the protagonist. That’s how catharsis is achieved: the purification and purgation of emotions. And that’s never going to happen. Not for King Donald. Not for his country. This has never been Tragedy with a capital “T.” Like everything about this presidency, it’s gold leaf over drywall, “America First” banners made in China. Sad, sure. But only a Tragedy if you’re a moron. TheVillager.com

DIET continued from p. 17

clips that are worth the price of admission on their own). When all is said and done, â&#x20AC;&#x153;My Life on a Dietâ&#x20AC;? reveals its central character as a deft armchair psychologist who has plumbed the depths of her strengths and shortcomings in order to cast an unflinching light on how â&#x20AC;&#x153;my obsession with food has led me to behave in certain ways.â&#x20AC;? The apple, it turns out, didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t fall far from the tree. Bronx-born Taylor (stage name inspired by Elizabeth) was raised by a father, Charlie Wexler, whose debts from compulsive gambling required the family to relocate, in the dead of night, on more than one occasion. But the longest shadow was cast by her mother, Frieda, who grafted her own dreams of show business glory onto her daughter, while insisting the entire family faithfully embrace an ever-changing roster of food and health regimens. This gives the show one of its best running jokes: Dozens of diet names and their ingredients appear onscreen behind Taylor, as she recalls the shelf life and effectiveness of each new attempt to shed pounds (The Watermelon Diet, for example, is 6 quarts of watermelon juice a day; The Long Island Hadassah Diet, 2 kosher chicken thighs a day). Asking advice from acting school colleague Marilyn Monroe, Taylor adopts The Frozen Grape Diet â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and puts on four pounds. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s impossible,â&#x20AC;? Monroe said to her. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If you put on four pounds, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d have to have eaten 12 pounds of grapes.â&#x20AC;? Taylor greets that feedback with a comedic shrug, then finds new hope when Monroe suggests The Master Cleanse Diet, which counts maple syrup among its ingredients. Hopes are dashed, however, when Monroe advises, â&#x20AC;&#x153;A drop, not a quart!â&#x20AC;? But for every memorably eccentric weight loss method mentioned from her career as a â&#x20AC;&#x153;binge dieter,â&#x20AC;? Taylor noted, in a recent phone interview, audiences hunger for more. â&#x20AC;&#x153;People tell me what diets theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been on,â&#x20AC;? she said, and ask, â&#x20AC;&#x153; â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Why didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t you mention this diet or that diet?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;? Then there are the ones that didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t make the cut. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I thought it was too gross to put in The Pregnant Women Urine Diet,â&#x20AC;? Taylor said, asserting, â&#x20AC;&#x153;People didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to hear about that one. And The Cabbage Soup Diet. Tyne Daly came [to see the show] and said, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Why didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t you have that one?â&#x20AC;&#x2122; I was just looking for some of the stranger onesâ&#x20AC;Ś Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been dieting, my god, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been over 70 years. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been on every one there is â&#x20AC;&#x201D; The Beverly Hills Diet, The Pineapple Diet. They all worked, TheVillager.com

Courtesy of RenĂŠe Taylor

She takes the cake: RenĂŠe Taylorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s solo show about dieting has all the right ingredients.

but what happens is, when you go off it, you gain a lot of weight quickly.â&#x20AC;? So itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all the more rewarding, then, that Taylorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s relationship with food came full circle when she secured the role that has endeared her to TV viewers for over two decades, and continues to generate new fans. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t written for me,â&#x20AC;? Taylor said of Sylvia Fine, mother to Fran Drescherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s idiosyncratic sitcom character, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Nanny.â&#x20AC;? When casting for the CBS sitcom, Taylor recalled, â&#x20AC;&#x153;they wanted Sheila MacRae to play it; they wanted somebody sort of, Presbyterian. But Fran had seen me in [the 1971 film] â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Made for Each Otherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; andâ&#x20AC;Ś sensed something real in me.â&#x20AC;? Early on in the six-year run of â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Nanny,â&#x20AC;? during a scene that plopped her Queens-based character down in the tony Manhattan digs of Nanny Franâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s employer, Taylor found herself deploying a trick from those many years of dieting and denial. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have a bad habit in life,â&#x20AC;? she said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;of eating off peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plates. So when we were doing the show and I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have any lines, and we had real food, I just started eating off other everybodyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plates.â&#x20AC;? That candid moment was a hit with audiences, and Sylvia Fineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s obsession with food became a running gag that fed the natural chemistry she had with Drescher. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It was actually good,â&#x20AC;? Taylor said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;because I got very fat on the show, and I got a lot of acceptance, when I had tried my whole life to be

thin. And I thought, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s okay to be fatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and that it was okay for me to lose weight.â&#x20AC;? Asked if the show has a central message, apart from the comedic hook of those zany diets, Taylor didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t hesitate: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Forgiveness. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s about how I felt about my body; shame, like there was something wrong with me. So I had to learn about self-acceptance and love. You have to forgive your past. Your fat wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t leave if you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t forgive it. It wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t leave if you keep it [shame] around. And I had to forgive my husband for dying â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and my mother for dragging me to diet doctors. I had to forgive everybody, and I had to forgive myself.â&#x20AC;? As for how she achieved that, Taylor humbly deadpanned: â&#x20AC;&#x153;You accept that youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re a fool. Once you accept that, then itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easyâ&#x20AC;Ś You have to love; what youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re

working on, and who youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re working with.â&#x20AC;? With â&#x20AC;&#x153;My Life on a Dietâ&#x20AC;? having recently announced the extension of its run through Sept. 2, Taylor noted she is already hard at work on her next act, or acts. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been talk of â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Nannyâ&#x20AC;? returning with new episodes, and Fran Drescher just saw Taylorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s show (on Aug. 5). Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re still very close, said Taylor, who noted of the possible reboot, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Luckily, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m available.â&#x20AC;? She also pitched an idea to Drescher: â&#x20AC;&#x153;All the kids are now grownups, but Fran and Sylvia are the same age â&#x20AC;&#x201D; very late 30s.â&#x20AC;? Taylor also told us sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s working on â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Book of Joeâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; stories, she said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;of my relationship with Joe [Bologna] and the relationship with him after his death. I still talk to him every day, and he talks to me; and we continue the romance.â&#x20AC;? Taylor added that sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s working on a three-character play â&#x20AC;&#x153;about Mae West. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a young man sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s having an affair with, and then thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s her assistant [Craig Russell], who was a female impersonator who dressed up as her; because when the paparazzi chased her, sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d send her impersonator out as a decoy.â&#x20AC;? Focused on the present, Taylor said she still draws on the disciplines she learned while taking classes with the likes of Monroe and Brando. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I still hear Leeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s voice on stage,â&#x20AC;? she said, of Strasberg, â&#x20AC;&#x153;telling me to relax and focus. Like, say the audience doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t laugh at something hysterically. I hear his voice say, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Concentrate on the story and on this moment. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t run to the next one or the last one â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and see how far you can go with it.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;My Life on a Dietâ&#x20AC;? is performed through Sept. 2 at the Theatre at St. Clementâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (423 W. 46th St., btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.). Wed. & Sat. at 2pm; Thurs., Fri. & Sat. at 7pm; Sun. at 3pm. For tickets ($65 general; $75, premium seating), call 212-239-6200 or visit MyLifeOnADietPlay.com.

ALL performances are FREE to the public!!! ..!(-&( ),*),&3)'*-)(,% (#..(!(.,&,%( -#!&& (     )(!2-&( ), 1&%  ,))%&2(!,!,.)($(",% (#..(%$!)$(-)(,%  ,))%&2(/(-!.,%


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Letters to The Editor LETTERS continued from p. 12



August 9, 2018

funny” and “uncannily profound.” Eli Siegel moved to Greenwich Village from Baltimore not long after his poem “Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana” won The Nation magazine’s prestigious Poetry Prize in 1925 (not “the National Prize,” as stated in the article), and later, Siegel was placed on a shortlist for the Pulitzer Prize for the same poem. Siegel’s work was very popular with other Village artists. Henry Miller’s biography, “Henry Miller: A Life,” cites Siegel’s “Hot Afternoons” as being one of Miller’s favorite poems. In the 1930s, while living in the Village, Siegel wrote groundbreaking literary criticism for Scribner’s Magazine on such authors as Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, E.E. Cummings, T.S. Eliot and Pearl S. Buck. Siegel was also the master of ceremonies of memorable poetry performances at the Village Vanguard, vividly described in Max Gordon’s book “Life at the Village Vanguard.” In 1952, Eli Siegel gave a surprising lecture in the Village on Jane St. about William Carlos Williams’s poetry, attended by Williams, during which Siegel presented a bold interpretation of Williams’s body of work. Williams responded to Siegel with heartfelt gratitude, saying, “It’s as if everything I’ve done has been for you.” In 1969, The New York Times review of Siegel’s book “Hail American Development,” featuring his poem “Local Stop, Sheridan Square,” was written by the noted critic Kenneth Rexroth, who stated: “Most of us who were there remember Eli Siegel as the sole survivor of the Golden Age of Greenwich Village… . I think it is about time Eli Siegel was moved up into the ranks of our acknowledged Leading Poets.” In 1970, the Actors Playhouse in the Village presented “Hedda Gabler,” featuring a radical reinterpretation of the

Ibsen classic by Eli Siegel. Time magazine ran a fullpage, glowing review of the play, stating it was “...not only beautifully performed, but deeply and subtly thought through in terms that make it peculiarly relevant to the psychic and psychological states of the modern woman.” In 2018, the good effect of Eli Siegel’s work lives on in the Village and beyond, in so many ways including through his philosophy, Aesthetic Realism. I’m sorry that Gabe Herman is poorly informed about Village cultural history, causing him to deprive readers of so many important aspects of Eli Siegel’s life and contributions as a Villager. I’m still confused — what was the purpose of this article? Steven Montgomery Editor’s note: The article’s focus was Aesthetic Realism as a movement and belief system, not a profile of its founder, Eli Siegel, or his artistic contributions.

New heights To The Editor: Re “He’s hip to hopping” (Page One photo, by Bob Krasner, Aug. 2): Maybe one of the best photos ever in The Villager. Patrick Shields E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 MetroTech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.

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

Trinity Lutheran celebrates 175 years on L.E.S. BY ELIZABETH RUF MALDONADO


n the last Sunday in May, Trinity Lower East Side Lutheran Parish celebrated its 175th anniversary. Festoons of flame- and sky-colored ribbons, inscribed with key moments from the church’s history and arrayed along its garden fence — opposite the eastern edge of Tompkins Square Park — by Trinity Interim Pastor Ann Tiemeyer and congregation volunteers, welcomed celebrants. The Reverend Donald J. McCoid, interim bishop of the Metropolitan New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, presided at the service. Former Trinity Pastor Bob Wollenburg, who in 1986 established Trinity’s SAFH program (Services and Food for the Homeless), preached. In his sermon, Wollenburg recalled details of Trinity’s history through vivid stories of the members, staff and volunteers he had known, like a leading soup-kitchen coordinator, Willy, who carried a machete; noted musician and dancer Thomas McNally, who continued to serve as Trinity’s organist and pianist (at least occasionally) almost until his death at age 103; and James and Evelyn Wragg, two pillars of the neighborhood who sometimes fed the homeless out of Trinity on their own dime in the 1970s and who were present at Sunday’s service. Music was provided by the Trinity choir, under the direction of Alex Lawrence (also the current director of Trinity’s SAFH program), and by jazz musicians led by Trinity pianist Paul Staroba, associate conductor of the revival of “My Fair Lady” on Broadway. Local politicians came out in force to celebrate and honor Trinity’s 175-year history of innovative service. Congressmember Carolyn Maloney presented Tiemeyer and Trinity Council President Cody Andrus with a framed copy of a document entering Maloney’s recognition of Trinity’s anniversary into the Congressional Record. A spirited request from Maloney concludes the congressional document: “Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing the 175th anniversary of the Trinity Lower East Side Lutheran Parish and its commitment to realizing Jesus’s message to ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer attended the service and, at the catered jazz reception overlooking the church’s garden, praised Trinity’s historic collaborations with immigrants and the working poor, all of which helped build a Lower East Side community instrumental in shaping Manhattan’s progressive identity. Newly elected Assemblymember Harvey Epstein sent one of his staffers, SaMi Chester, who raised his arms and his voice in an expansive gesture and proclaimed: “175 years? You’re so young!” TheVillager.com


From left, Alex Lawrence, Trinity Lower East Side administrative director; Borough President Gale Brewer; Pastor Ann Tiemeyer; and Congressmember Carolyn Maloney at Trinit y’s recent 175th anniversar y celebration, at E. Ninth St. and Avenue B.

State Senator Brad Hoylman sent a framed copy of his proclamation declaring May 27, 2018, to be Trinity Lower East Side Lutheran Parish Appreciation Day in New York State’s 27th Senate District. City Councilmember Carlina Rivera arrived with her mother, María Ortiz, to offer her congratulations. Carolyn Ratcliffe of Community Board 3 also attended. That morning, Trinity children Frederick Pochapsky and Isaac Carlos had set the tone for the service with the ringing of hand bells. As the congregation sang “The Church of God in Every Age,” Isaac (now acting as crucifer) and Sahvanni Cruz (Bible bearer) led a line of visiting ministers, worship assistants and Bishop McCoid toward the floor-to-ceiling windows on the western side of the church, which look out on the twining stand of ancient elms and the dog run across Avenue B in Tompkins Park. Reverend Becca Seely, executive director of Lutheran Ministries in Higher Education, gave the prayer of the day. Acting as a lector, Reverend Nancy Neal, interim director for church relationships at Bread for the World, represented that organization, which was founded by former Trinity Pastor Art Simon in the early 1970s. Renée Wicklund, former Trinity L.E.S. Church Council secretary and recently elected vice president of the Metropolitan New York Synod, was present, as was Nilda Rivera, the sister of former Trinity

Deacon Lillian Rivera, who served at Trinity for many years. Reverend Mieke Vandersall, pastor of Not So Churchy, read a letter of greetings from Pastor Phil Tryznka, who started at Trinity in 2000 and left in 2017 to answer a new calling at Christ the Lord Lutheran Church in Elgin, Illinois. “From its inception, Trinity has been queer!” Tryznka’s letter began. “By that, I mean that Trinity has always found a way to be within the church of Jesus but also push the limit of its embrace and to be the church that celebrates all the character, uniqueness and funkiness of the East Village and the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Trinity has been a model throughout the years of a church that does more than just welcome the outcast — Trinity celebrates the lives of those who have been outcast.” Pastor Wollenburg’s sermon centered on the day’s gospel reading from John, part of a discussion between Jesus and the wealthy Pharisee Nicodemus: “Indeed, God did not send the Son to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” In his sermon, Wollenburg emphasized Trinity’s steadfast service to struggling and artistic souls existing on the margins of big capital in Manhattan’s L.E.S. by interspersing his account of major challenges and setbacks to the L.E.S. community with the watchwords, “Guess who stayed.” “Guess who stayed,” in the mid-1800s

when wealthy German Lutherans from New York City left “to the promised land of Missouri” and when the Civil War riots on the L.E.S. further alienated the rich from the poor; when the General Slocum ferryboat disaster of 1904 claimed the lives of 1,000 people, mostly German Lutheran women and children on a pleasure trip on the East River, and the bulk of their devastated community moved to Yorkville in Upper Manhattan and to Brooklyn; when Latinos from Puerto Rico and African Americans from the U.S. South arrived in the migrations of the 1950s, and many Lower East Siders chose to leave rather than share the territory with newcomers of color; when drug addiction and homelessness gripped the L.E.S. in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, guess who stayed. What congregation now notably sees itself reflected in the struggle for gender justice and equality? With grace and humor, Wollenburg acknowledged the changing demographic of the L.E.S. in the new millennium with a reference to the gospel reading: “Jesus wasn’t afraid to meet anyone, in any condition, at any time of the day or night. He even welcomed a conversation with the wealthy, a person like Nicodemus. And maybe that is the next frontier for Trinity. That would be a radical and surprising change in a place where the only constant is that everything is always changing.” August 9, 2018




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