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Peace activist passes; Prison panic; Flood of worries on shoreline plan

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

August 23, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 33

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

August 23, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 33

David McReynolds, pacifist and socialist leader, is dead at 88 BY MARY REINHOLZ

F

or nearly 40 years, the late pacifist and democratic socialist David McReynolds traveled the world as field secretary for the War Resisters League on missions of peace and social justice. He burned his draft card in Union Square during a 1965

protest against the war in Vietnam when it was a felony to do so. He later became the first openly gay candidate for president when he ran twice on the Socialist Party USA ticket in 1980 and 2000. But this courteous and kindly man, who had planned MCREYNOLDS continued on p. 6

Anti-flood planning is surging too fast, many activists say BY SYDNEY PEREIR A

A

public meeting with hardly any public notice. Five proposals with no details on environmental impact or economic feasibility. And a planning process that’s raising doubts on whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can choose thee

best storm-surge protection plan to shield more than 2,150 miles of New York and New Jersey shoreline. Nearly six years after Hurricane Sandy swamped Lower Manhattan with 7 feet of water and killed two people in the community, this is where the BARRIERS continue continued on p. 9

PHOTO BY BOB KRASNER

A woman put on a happy face on Avenue A as her bright hair color rivaled that of the traffic signals, street lights and car lights.

Prison uprising! Furor over change of jail site BY SYDNEY PEREIR A

C

hinatown activists were outraged after the city formally announced it would convert the Marriage Bureau into a new jail as a part of the plan to close Rikers Island and nearly halve the city’s prison population. After months of believ-

Rent is STILL too damn high....p. 2

ing the borough’s jail would be at the existing Manhattan Detention Complex — nicknamed “The Tombs” — at 125 White St., the city told local stakeholders at an insiders meeting it would be located at 80 Centre St. instead. The new location came as a shock to the Chinatown community, which felt left out of the dis-

cussion. Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou quickly held an “emergency meeting” last Wed., Aug. 15, after Mayor Bill de Blasio formally released the scoping documents for a new borough-based jail system. “I’m not breaking away PRISON continued on p. 4

Towering fears over Two Bridges projects........p. 3 Skenazy on why religious urge isn’t crazy .........p. 8 www.TheVillager.com


DAMN RIGHT: His platform with its simple-but-impactful message — The Rent Is Too Damn High — hasn’t lost any of its relevancy. Jimmy McMillan, who coined the term, is running again — this time for governor. The Villager spotted the longtime St. Mark’s Place resident recently campaigning in Union Square. Casey Hill, who managed McMillan’s campaign for City Council District 2 last year — when he ran as a Republican — said he hears McMillan is out there campaigning. “I got word he was on 125th St. a couple of days ago,” he said. The candidate has run for office at least six times, including for governor in 2010 and for mayor in 2013. He tried to run for governor in 2014 but didn’t make it onto the ballot. “Some people make it a career!” Hill said of the perennial candidate, adding, “He’s got a good message” that he wants to put out there. We support McMillan’s central campaign plank — and we also hope he makes another video for this run, since the last one of his that we saw, in 2013 (called — surprise — “Rent Is Too Damn High”) was great! He said he ran on the G.O.P. line for Council last year because the field of Democrats, including eventually winner Carlina Rivera, was just too crowded. THE HOSPITAL BLUES: “One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small / And the ones that mother gives you, don’t do anything at all... .” Jefferson Airplane’s surreal ’60s anthem “White Rabbit” paints a picture of a bizarre drug trip. Forget about mixing up which pill to take: The ordeal that Marty Balin, the lead singer of the famous rock group, as well as of Jefferson Starship, alleges he endured at Mount Sinai Beth Israel was truly a hellish nightmare — and it hasn’t ended. The New York Post reported that Balin lost half his tongue and his thumb, plus suffered a paralyzed vocal chord when doctors at the Gramercy hospital botched his heart-surgery recovery. Balin, then 74, had been set to perform at a Midtown venue in March 2016 when he felt chest pains and was rushed to M.S.B.I. at E. 16th St. and First Ave. He made it through open-heart surgery, including a triple bypass and valve replacement, fine — but his recovery was a disaster. His lawsuit against the hospital reportedly charges it “was too understaffed to provide the care” he required because 2

August 23, 2018

PHOTOS BY BOB KRASNER

Jimmy McMillan was out campaigning for governor at 14th St. and Universit y Place earlier this month. Yes, he’s running again.

Maggie Gyllenhaal sur veyed the location before shooting a scene from “The Deuce” at Village Cinema East earlier this month.

Village Cinema East was dressed up as a blue Times Square-style theater from the ’70s.

M.S.B.I. was in the process of closing down. (Of course, as Villager readers well know, a new, scaled-down Downtown M.S.B.I. is in the works for E. 13th St. and Second Ave.) Balin’s lawyer reportedly said the hospital didn’t have a pulmonary specialist or criticalcare physician on the premises. Eventually, doctors performed a tracheotomy on Balin — but too late — leading to half of the “Miracles” singer’s tongue being lopped out and paralyzing a vocal chord. Meanwhile, necrosis set in on his thumb from an improperly inserted IV line that was not monitored, the suit charges. But Mt. Sinai indicated it feels the “Surrealistic Pillow” singer’s charges are, well...too far out. A spokesperson sent us a statement, saying, “We cannot comment on the specifics of this pending legal matter, but please note that the M.S.B.I. transformation had not even begun until long after the discharge of the patient, and therefore it could not have played any part in the care that was delivered to him. To be clear, M.S.B.I. is not closing: We are transforming the current hospital into the new, state-of-the-art network, featuring a new hospital and ER. In the meantime, the existing hospital and the ER are fully open and accessible and will remain so until the new hospital opens in a few years. M.S.B.I. is committed to providing the highest quality care to the community both during the transformation and into the future.” Here’s praying for a “miracle” for Balin’s recovery — from his recovery.

WHAT A GAS: Second Ave. and E. 12th St. around Village East Cinema was all dressed up in porno theater drag recently, surrounded by Afros, bell bottoms and checker cabs as Maggie Gyllenhaal and cast prepared to shoot a scene for HBO’s ’70s period drama “The Deuce.” Unfortunately, just as the director called for the shot to begin, two fire trucks pulled up and shut it all down. The extras took off their platform shoes and waited for the firefighters to investigate the apartment across the street that had reported “gas fumes.” Nothing was found, as the most likely cause for their alarm was the noxious fumes pouring out of the vintage cars on “the set” — including a Grand Prix, a Ford LTD and a Sedan de Ville — idling below their window. SOMEWHAT SHOCKING: A miniblackout hit the block of E. 10th St. between Avenues C and D two weeks ago but Con Edison was quick to supply emergency power, at least to the block’s biggest building, 411 E. 10th St., before restoring the juice. A Con Edison spokesperson told us the cause was “underground equipment failure,” to wit, a “cable.” Asked if the muggy heat that week could have overloaded the line, he said, possibly. ... Wouldn’t you know, the very next night our own block, just north of the East Village, was also hit by one of these spot blackouts. Con Ed got the power back on in just three hours. TheVillager.com


Towering fear for Two Bridges: Gentrification BY SYDNEY PEREIR A

A

t a public hearing of Community Board 3 on Aug. 14, Two Bridges community members voiced fears of further gentrification and displacement they said four proposed new towers — with nearly 2,100 marketrate units between them — would bring to the neighborhood. Developers, meanwhile, continue to highlight the improvements they would bring to the Lower East Side enclave, including 700 new affordable units. Just one person at the hearing supported the plan — a member of the 32BJ SEIU service workers union — because of the 50 jobs for unionized building employees he said the four new megatowers would provide. However, that, among other promised improvements, amounted to crumbs to nearly all who spoke at the meeting, in light of the Large-Scale Residential Development project’s expected impacts. Val Jones, a member of C.B. 3 and the Lower East Side Power Partnership, charged that direct displacement of existing residents would occur due to the projects, particularly impacting seniors. For the four-building project, the tower at 247 Cherry St., specifically, would require relocation of 19 residents, according to the Draft Environmental Impact statement, or D.E.I.S. But further refining of design plans will now impact 10 residents, rather than 19, according to a source with direct knowledge of the development at 247 Cherry St. Previous designs would have blocked more windows during construction, requiring 19 residents to be relocated, but more recent plans will reduce the direct impact to 10 residents. The source added that those 10 residents are expected to be relocated to other units in 80 Rutgers Slip during construction. A “relocation consultant” has been hired for the process. Further, 80 Rutgers will not lose any units after construction is complete, according to the same source. But for Jones, the lack of details is concerning, particularly because the building houses elderly people. “Let’s just treat [these seniors] with a certain amount of dignity and compassion,” Jones said. “Familiarity is very important as people get older. So, my thing is, let’s treat them with compassion.” The Lower East Side Power Partnership is requesting that those individuals temporarily displaced have a relative contacted and translation services provided, that details about who is relocated be given to a local politician, that services be provided for seniors anxious about relocating, and that seniors have the opportunity to stay where they were relocated. “If you’re going to change their routine and they’re anxious, then somebody needs to talk to them — maybe somebody in social work or something,” Jones TheVillager.com

PHOTO BY SYDNEY PEREIRA

Local activist Arnette Scott, who lives in the Two Bridges neighborhood, opposes the new buildings.

cluding a two-lane bowling alley and a basketball court — has disrupted the community for years, according to neighbors who spoke at the hearing. Concerns over how construction of four more towers would impact the surrounding area’s light, air quality and congestion have also repeatedly been raised. “You’re putting buildings in low-income communities where, I feel like — if you’re going to put up a building, at least make it beneficial for everybody else,” Brittany Gonzalez said at the hearing. She added that her family has already been “pushed out” of the neighborhood. On the private bowling alley, pool and basketball court at One Manhattan Square, she added, “How does that benefit us?” “What scares me the most,” Gonzalez said, “is that I don’t want these buildings to go up, and the people that were living there and building their foundations since they were young — and they want their kids to also do that — they’re going to be driven out.” One difference between these four new high-rises and Extell’s tower is that 25 percent of their apartments — about 700 units, in total — would be affordable; it’s expected the affordable units would be made available to tenants earning 40, 60 and 120 percent of area meTOWERS continued on p. 18

said. “That can be very disorienting [for] somebody older to have their routine changed.” Since 80 Rutgers Slip is under a federal Department of Housing and Urban Development agreement, the residents’ relocation requires a HUD-approved plan. In early 2017, The Lo-Down revealed that HUD had already been in contact with Two Bridges Neighborhood Council and Settlement Housing Fund, expressing support for the development plan but noting a “formal request for approval” must be submitted. A HUD spokesperson Olga Alvarez said a relocation plan has not been received or approved for this project. In early 2017 — when The Lo-Down revealed HUD’s communication with the 80 Rutgers Slip owners — HUD advised the developers and local politicians about the requirements for the seniors’ relocation under the Housing Assistance Payment contract, or HAP, Alvarez said. According to the D.E.I.S., “No residents would be permanently displaced.” Under environmental review rules, the direct residential displacement is well under the 500-person threshold that would be considered a “significant adverse environmental impact.” Many at the Aug. 14 hearing referred to Extell Development’s new 800-foottall glass residential condo tower at One Manhattan Square (252 South St.). Construction of the building — which features various luxury amenities, in-

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August 23, 2018

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Furor over change of planned jail site 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

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August 23, 2018

PRISON continued from p. 1

from the fact that we need to close Rikers Island,” Niou told The Villager. But the last-minute changes and the complete lack of community engagement on deciding where the jail would be located “enraged” her, she said. She added that she is “criticizing the lack of transparency here.” “Our community has not had a voice wherever in this process,” she said. “They named one site for a whole year, and then 10 days before the draft scoping is done, they tell us that it’s a whole different site. That’s insane. When were we supposed to have any input?” Those able to attend the hastily called, midday meeting felt blindsided by the city. Leaders of numerous Chinatown organizations blasted the city for the lack of public discussion about the location change. “There was no public hearing for Chinatown to respond or discuss on this very important issue that will directly impact our community,” Eric Ng, the president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, said in a statement. “We are against any plan to rebuild or expand the Manhattan Detention Center and relocation without proper engagement.” “This process is completely unfair, nontransparent, and insulting to our community,” Raymond Tseng, president of the Hoy Sun Association, said in a statement. Karlin Chan, a longtime Chinatown activist on Community Board 3, vehemently opposes closing Rikers. He had some of the toughest words for Chin at Wednesday’s meeting. “I think we should take off the damn gloves here,” he declared. “Councilmember Chin has sold out Chinatown. [She] has turned her back on Chinatown.” But Justin Yu, Democratic district leader for the 65th Assembly District, Part D, disagreed. “Our enemy is not Margaret Chin,” Yu said. “Our enemy, in this case, is the City Hall of New York — Mayor Bill de Blasio.” Yu added that the community needs Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer on its side. Local politicians support closing Rikers, which would require opening several smaller jails under the city’s boroughbased plan. In a statement on Friday, Chin said, “It’s crucial that the administration participate in a robust community engagement process, which must begin with full transparency about the proposal to move the Manhattan Detention Center from its current location to 80 Centre St.” The councilmember urged the administration to participate in several town halls in her district to allow for community engagement on the new jail, as well as on how The Tombs would be used in the future. “As a strong supporter of the effort to reduce the number of detainees in our city that would allow us to close Rikers

PHOTO BY COLIN MIXSON

The building at 80 Centre St. currently houses the Manhattan D. A .’s Office and the Marriage Bureau, plus cour t-related ser vices. Mayor de Blasio plans a new borough-based jail at the site that could rise more than 400 feet tall.

Island,” Chin said, “I believe this administration must seize this opportunity to provide clarity, address concerns and engage residents, business owners and community leaders in a productive dialogue. The city’s announcement last week kicked off the lengthy Uniform Land Use Review Procedure a.k.a. ULURP regarding the plan, which would see one jail in each borough except for Staten Island. De Blasio’s scheme to close Rikers is part of a larger strategy to reduce the city’s jail population to 5,000 by 2027. This year, the jail population has averaged around 8,200 — the lowest in three decades and 13 percent less than last year. The proposed facilities would each have around 1,500 beds, for a total of 6,000 prison beds citywide. The existing Lower Manhattan jail is inadequate to meet these needs since it only has 1,000 existing beds, according to scoping documents. Furthermore, the The Tombs’ facilities are outdated, falling short of modern detention facilities in terms of inmates’ space, sunlight and social spaces. “We’re taking a big step forward in the process of closing Rikers Island and creating a modern, community-based jail system that is smaller, safer and fairer,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. “Now we can move full-steam ahead on the engagement and planning for our new facilities, so we can close Rikers as fast as possible.” Each borough’s jail is expected to include space for educational programming, recreation, therapeutic services, publicly accessible community space and parking. Manhattan’s planned new jail could be as tall as 430 feet high, situated where the

Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the city’s Marriage Bureau and other courtrelated services are currently located. When the Daily News first reported the address change that was announced at the early-August private meeting for stakeholders, community leaders who had attended told the Daily News that the jail possibly could include affordable housing. However, the documents released last week show that only the Bronx jail is expected to have some 234 residential units, some of which would be affordable. Under the plan, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office would be relocated to The Tombs’ south tower. The future use of the north tower — which Chin has her eyes on for community use — has not yet been determined. At this point, Chin and Niou are not saying which location they favor for Manhattan’s jail — White St. or Centre St. Right now, their priority is to keep the focus on ensuring future community input. “Not everybody is going to be happy,” Niou said, “and not everybody is going to get what they want. Not everybody is going to walk away from it thinking that, ‘Oh, I love this in my neighborhood.’ But at the same time, I think that what can happen is that at least people can feel heard.” The city has scheduled a public meeting on the proposal for Thurs., Sept. 27, at 6 p.m., at 1 Centre St. People can submit written comments at the meeting and until Oct. 15, to Howard Judd Fiedler, the administrative architect and director of the design unit at the city’s Department of Correction, at 75-10 Astoria Blvd., Suite 160, East Elmhurst, N.Y. 11370 or boroughplan@doc.nyc.gov. TheVillager.com


7-Eleven surprise Police said that on Sat., July 21, at 7:31 p.m., a man was about to enter the 7-Eleven on W. Third St., between Sixth Ave. and MacDougal St., when a man approached him from behind, menaced him with a knife, and took his wallet from his rear pants pocket. Both the victim, 34, and the suspect entered the store and briefly engaged in conversation, before the mugger left walking westbound on W. Third. The suspect is described as black, in his mid-30s, about 5 feet 9 inches tall, with a medium build, last seen wearing a multicolored hooded sweatshirt, dark-colored cap, dark pants and black shoes. Anyone with information is asked to call the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS, or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting them to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential. TheVillager.com

Teen train rob According to police, a 14-year-old Village youth was seated on a northbound Q train nearing E. 96th St. and Second Ave. on Mon., Aug. 13, around 2:45 p.m., when two unknown males approached him and asked for a donation for their basketball team. The report states that, upon taking out his wallet, the boy — who had boarded the subway in the Village — was threatened by the pair, who ordered him to give them all his money or they would punch him. The perpetrators swiped $80 from the victim and fled the station on foot in an unknown direction. Police canvassed the scene, but the thieves could not be found. Detective Gonzalez from the Sixth Precinct’s Robbery Squad was notified. Four days later, on Fri., Aug. 17, Donnell Clayton, 22, and Luis Cruz, 16, were arrested for felony robbery, but the money was not recovered.

‘Window was open’ On Mon., July 2, around 11:45 a.m., a woman was eating lunch in the kitchen of her apartment at 64 Morton St. when an unknown perpetrator entered her living room through the fire escape window, police said. The invader then exited the apartment through the front door without taking anything, and the victim notified authorities. More than a month later, on Wed., Aug. 15, a detective arrested Hector Vazquez, 33, for felony attempted burglary. Vazquez’s statement to the police was that people ought to “lock windows



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Around 1:45 p.m. on Sat., Aug. 18, a man robbed the JN Naturals deli at 202 Sixth Ave. at Prince St., according to police. A report states that a male employee, 36, was working at the store when a man took a $2 cup of coffee from the place and left without paying. The employee confronted the man outside and demanded he pay, but the man refused and struck him with his shopping bag. The victim retreated into JN Naturals to call 911, but the perpetrator followed him back inside to remove more property, including $10 worth of umbrellas. The same day, members of a plainclothes Anticrime Unit from the Sixth Precinct canvassed the scene, and arrested Renaldo Tabon, 50, for felony robbery in connection with the incident. The stolen umbrellas were recovered.

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An alleged dispute over the drug K2 on Sat., Aug. 18, between two homeless men in Sara D. Roosevelt Park ended with one of them being fatally knifed, according to news reports. Police said Larry Fullewellen, 70, was arrested the same day and charged with second-degree murder in the death of Arturo Valdez, 23. At 2:16 p.m., police responded to a report of a person assaulted inside the Lower East Side park on Chrystie St., about midway between Stanton and E. Houston Sts. They found the victim with a stab wound to his chest. E.M.S. medics transported the victim to Beth Israel Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The Daily News reported that the men’s dispute was over K2 — known as “synthetic marijuana� — and that the 70-year-old Fullewellen had a shopping cart. The News said the alleged senior stabber was arrested four hours later at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, still carrying the bloody knife, according to cops. According to the paper, a witness reported that, before the attack, the victim, Valdez, was shouting at another man about money he was owed. The witness said Valdez’s target was with two other men, one of whom had a blade, and that “the other guys jumped in... . Next thing you know, [Valdez] was on the ground.� A spokesperson told The Villager police are not looking for any additional suspects at this point.

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BLOTTER continued on p. 12 August 23, 2018

5


David McReynolds, longtime East Villager who MCREYNOLDS continued from p. 1

his own memorial, beginning with blues by Bessie Smith and ending with Beethoven’s Ninth, did not go gentle into that good night. On the evening of Wed., Aug. 15, friends discovered him lying on the floor unconscious with a “gash to his head” inside his first-floor railroad flat at 60 E. Fourth St., his beloved Siamese cat Shaman nearby. He had apparently fallen. His friends called the police, whose officers gained entry to the unit by going into the basement, and then to the back of the building, finding an open window. Police called an ambulance, which transported McReynolds to Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, on First Avenue and E. 16th St. He died there around 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 17 of “multiple organ failure,” said Bruce Cronin, professor and chairperson of the political science department at City College of New York and a longtime Downtown comrade of McReynolds who was at the scene. Cronin noted that McReynolds, 88, had refused “or forgot” to get a “lifeline” medical alert system to call for help in such emergencies. “He was apparently on the floor for several days — it could have been as long as six days,” mused Cronin, who had been called by McReynolds’s younger brother, Martin, to check on him. “He had been without water. The doctors said he was dehydrated. He never regained consciousness.” McReynolds’s ailing cat, Shaman, who he had been injecting with insulin, died several hours before him. Cronin believes that it was a “fitting end” for those two, who were exceptionally close. McReynolds’s survivors include, besides his brother, who lives in Los Angeles, a sister, Elizabeth Gralewksi, who lives in Santa Barbara, California, along with their children and other relatives. McReynolds, eldest of his siblings, was born in Los Angeles on Oct. 25, 1929, at the start of the Great Depression. His mother was a nurse and his father, an ad man and journalist who served in the reserves as an Air Force intelligence officer. His parents were conservative Baptists and McReynolds was once a young member of the Prohibition Party, who later would struggle with a drinking problem. He graduated from UCLA in 1953 with a degree in political science during the McCarthy era. By then he had embraced socialism and claimed to have had a “liberating” affair with the dancer Alvin Ailey. Between 1957 and 1960, he worked for Liberation, a leftwing magazine, and was openly gay, writing about his life as a gay man in 1969 for WIN, a magazine of the War

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August 23, 2018

PHOTO BY ED HEDEMANN

David McReynolds in 2014.

PHOTO BY DAVID MCREYNOLDS

Mar tin Luther King. Jr., leaving the Prayer Pilgrimage in Washington, D.C., in 1957. He gave the last speech of the day, “Give Us the Ballot,” which placed him in the national spotlight as a major leader of the civil-rights movement.

Resisters League. Arriving in New York in 1956, McReynolds became known as an atheist or agnostic but eventually gravitated toward Quakers and members of the pacifist Catholic Worker movement. Carmen Trotta, an associate editor of the Catholic Worker newspaper who lives not far from McReynolds’s building at C.W.’s St. Joseph’s Hospitality House, at 36 E. First St., said McReynolds had become increasingly frail in recent years, having fallen on the street a couple of weeks before his death. But he insisted the octogenarian was “sharp as a tack” mentally and active “to the end”; he noted McReynolds continued to join Catholic Worker events as a speaker and participated in a recent vigil outside the United Nations to protest U.S. support of Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemen. Trotta said there would be a memorial for him in about two months. McReynolds, who worked for W.R.L. from 1960 to his retirement in 1999, kept busy in his last years campaigning for socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign during the 2016 primary race. He also worked with Ruth Benn, a former W.R.L colleague, who was helping him put together his vast collection of black-andwhite photos he took of human-rights luminaries like Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt and Dorothy Day, among other subjects, including East Village street scenes. Many of the photos, Benn said, were in a “jumble” after surviving a 2015 fire that had gutted McReynolds’s fourthfloor studio in the same E. Fourth St. building, where he had lived for more than 50 years. She hopes his photos can eventually be exhibited in a gallery. (A Web site with a selection of his photos has been set up at http://www. mcreynoldsphotos.org/. More photos are expected to be added to the site in the next week or two.) Benn, 66, recalled McReynolds as “so articulate and smart in terms of political analysis and history.” She said he was influenced by pacifist A.J. Muste and gay civil-rights leader Bayard Rustin. “But he was terrible with deadlines,” she added with a laugh, referring to the W.R.L. publications to which McReynolds contributed while on staff at the group’s former offices at 339 Lafayette St. a.k.a. the “Peace Pentagon.” “He was funny and quirky,” she recalled. “Once, after Easter, he made colored Easter eggs for everyone on the staff. He was a fun friend and it was just fun and a privilege hanging out with him.” She noted that McReynolds had a “lot of friends” and held an “open door for them” for years, with Friday night gatherings at his co-operative apartMCREYNOLDS continued on p. 7 TheVillager.com


was leading pacifist and socialist, is dead at 88 MCREYNOLDS continued from p. 6

ments for low-income residents. The apartments are managed by the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association across the street. McReynolds was one of the association’s first board members, said Valerio Orselli, its former executive director who now directs the Cooper Square Community Land Trust. Orselli, 70, first met McReynolds when the older man was involved organizing “draft resistance and helped to mobilize against the war in Vietnam,” he recalled. “He was a leader in the antiwar movement and very inspirational and ethical. He was a humanist. He believed in the goodness of the human race more than I believe,” Orselli said with a chuckle. “He was great. I remember a quote of his about being gay in Liberation magazine. He said, ‘There’s nothing gay about being gay.’ He was in the forefront of that fight, as well. He was a fighter and he knew it was an uphill fight.” Longtime New York gay activist Bill Dobbs said McReynolds was out as a gay man as early as 1949, but claimed that L.G.B.T. issues “were not a priority for him. They were times when he was ambivalent and even confounded by community concerns,” Dobbs noted. In 2015, this reporter interviewed McReynolds after he had been censured by the national office of the Socialist Party USA for purported “insensitive and potentially racist” remarks he had made on his Facebook page about the Islamic terror attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, and for using the word “thuggish” to describe conduct in a store by Michael Brown, the black teenager who was later shot dead by a white cop in Ferguson, Missouri. McReynolds told me he was “stunned” by the charges, which he denied, and later sent a lengthy resignation letter to SPUSA, saying he would never “demonize” Muslims, and had never called Michael Brown a thug. Bruce Cronin, who first met McReynolds when he volunteered with him on the steering committee for an immense 1982 nuclear disarmament rally in Central Park, drawing 1 million people, believes McReynolds will be remembered for his “Gandhi-like” belief in “interacting with adversaries, people he disagreed with. He didn’t demonize,” Cronin said. “He would invite people on the other side to come to his apartment. He believed in the mass mobilization of people and individual acts of resistance, which is very Gandhian. He was one of the first people to burn his draft card. “His real contribution is that he combined pacifism and socialism in a way nobody else has done,” Cronin said. “He said you can’t have one without the other. And it’s not just [passive] nonviolence. It’s very active when you resist TheVillager.com

PHOTO BY DAVID MCREYNOLDS

Backstage at a massive civil-rights rally at Madison Square Garden on May 24, 1956, from left, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and Autherine Luc y, the first black student at the University of Alabama. The event was billed as a call to “salute and suppor t the heroes of the South.” Roosevelt noted in her diar y: “The rally was an impressive meeting, and...I had the pleasure of inter viewing Miss Autherine Luc y, the student who made application to enter the undergraduate body at the Universit y of Alabama.” David McReynolds had just moved to New York from California to work for Liberation magazine and was asked to help backstage, giving him a chance to take many photos.

PHOTO BY DAVID MCREYNOLDS

At the Hiroshima Day antinuclear protest in New York City on Aug. 6, 1957.

the state. And if you look at his writings, his is a very American philosophy, like Thoreau’s. Gandhi adapted [Thoreau’s] philosophy and [so did] Martin Luther King. David was not religious but he was very spiritual.” When word got out in major national media that McReynolds had died, Facebook friends around the country flooded his page with tributes, and leftist comrades mourned his passing with messages posted across the Internet. One came from the New York Green Party, sponsor of his unsuccessful 2004 antiwar run for Chuck Schumer’s seat in the U.S. Senate. (Years earlier, McReynolds campaigned for a House seat on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket in 1968.) Bill Weinberg, the left-wing anarchist author and former WBAI host, emailed The Villager a statement about the passing of a radical iconoclast who had been his neighbor. “Our lives overlapped pretty significantly, both because we were neighbors and because of my activist involvements with War Resisters League over the years,” Weinberg wrote. “We had our political differences, but he never held them against me, as so many do over lesser matters in New York City activist circles. He was a fundamentally humane, decent fellow. And when I saw him around the ’hood there was always a sense he was a piece of history walking among us — not only one of our most important veterans of the movement against the Vietnam War, but the country’s first openly gay presidential candidate. I give him creds for being a true groundbreaker in that sense.” McReynolds also made an impact as an author. His writings included the pamphlet “A Philosophy of NonViolence,” which was widely quoted in leftist circles, and his 1970 book, “We Have Been Invaded by the 20th Century.” Phyllis Eckhaus, manager of foundation development and donor communications at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), compiled passages of his writings for McReynolds’s 80th birthday, apparently when she was on the W.R.L.’s executive committee. She sent along a few to The Villager, mostly from his book, among them his following observations: “If I told my friends in Scandinavia that I walked down the street yesterday and saw a man fallen upon the sidewalk and that I did not stop to see if the man were ill or drunk or dead, they would recognize me as a moral monster, for they would be applying the standards of civilization to Manhattan.” “Revolutions are not tidy things.” “Patriotism is not measured by blind loyalty to the state, but by determined loyalty to values that transcend even the state.” R.I.P., Sweet Prince of Peace. August 23, 2018

7


That’s the spirit! Most believe in the beyond RHYMES WITH CRAZY BY LENORE SKENAZY

C

lay Routledge, author of the new book, “Supernatural: Death, Meaning and the Power of the Invisible World,” was watching his university’s football team play a national championship game on TV. There were about 20 other friends in the room when a girl of 9 or 10 twirled in. She pointed out that just because their team was ahead didn’t mean they couldn’t lose. At which point, one of the men told the girl to leave and if she came back she would jinx the game. “Hey, take it easy!” “She’s just a kid!” “Don’t be a jerk!” Sorry — none of the adults said any of that. They just kept watching the TV, as if this guy had not just said something both mean and, well, crazy. How could a girl twirling in or out of a room possibly affect the outcome of a football game? To believe that cause-and-effect connection would be to believe in the supernatural. And that turns out to be something all of us, even the most hardened atheists, do.

Routledge studies why we believe what we believe and, in turn, how those beliefs affect us. Every day most of us do some little things without thinking about what spiritual reality they represent. We miss a train and think, “I wasn’t meant to catch that one.” We find a dollar and think, “Someone’s looking out for me!” We take an umbrella in case it rains — and also to prevent it from raining, because someone somewhere is paying attention to our accessories and deciding the weather accordingly. We act, in other words, as if there is a being unseen and unknown, deeply concerned with the way our day (and life) is going. This doesn’t mean we’re nuts. And in fact, it can be healthy to believe in something beyond the concrete, says Routledge. It’s even possible we are hardwired to believe in the supernatural, and always have been. A 100,000-year-old archeological site showed signs of some sort of ritualistic burial, he writes, sug-

gesting that a belief in the supernatural has been around a long time. But why? “A big area of my research is studying the underlying nature of the supernatural in the mind, especially issues related to fear, anxiety and uncertainty,” Routledge said in a phone interview. “And our need to be part of something bigger than ourselves.” A child of missionaries, Routledge was born in West Africa and grew up with religion all around him. One thing religion does very well, he says, is provide some solace about death. Faced with mortality, many of us dearly hope or believe that death is just a portal to someplace else. Routledge quotes Larry King — yes, the former CNN guy — saying, “If you didn’t die, there would be no religion.” But religion does more than just comfort those contemplating death, or whose loved ones have died. It actually makes us more able to deal with life. A 2010 USA Today and Gallup poll found that 83 percent of Americans believe prayers get answered. That means most of us believe help is on the way, even if we don’t know how or when it will appear. A belief in a god also seems to make people more brave, for two reasons. First of all, it is an “anxiety buffer.” A deep, committed faith mitigates anxiety, as does the strong social network religion often offers.

Then, too, feeling like you are in the hands of a higher being can be as reassuring as growing up bathed in the love of a supportive parent. If you are sure that someone is always believing in you, you can go further out into the world — do more, try more — because you know that that person will always be there when you need them. In short, religion is so powerful, so comforting and so helpful in making sense of the world that it is hard to live without. And that may be why many of the folks who say they don’t believe in a god are really just rejecting a “brand” of god — organized religion. “The less traditionally religious people become more interested in other kinds of magical ideas,” says Routledge. These include conspiracy theories and paranormal activity. “The percentage of people who believe in ghosts is much higher among people who don’t regularly attend church,” he notes. In our smorgasbord society, fewer and fewer people affiliate with an established religion. Instead, they mix and match: a little yoga, a little Oprah, a dollop of Kabbalah. But scratch a little deeper and you’ll find a belief that the world somehow makes sense, even if we don’t understand the plan. So long as we keep pint-sized skeptics out of the TV room.

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August 23, 2018

TheVillager.com


Anti-flood plan is surging too fast, many say BARRIERS continued from p. 1

Corps’ New York / New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries study stands after starting in 2016. The Corps is expected to submit a final recommendation to Congress in summer 2022. However, by the Corps’ standards, this pace is quicker than usual. “Believe it or not, the 2022 time period is actually somewhat accelerated,” said Bryce Wisemiller, the study’s project manager. Back in 2012, the Corps implemented so-called “SMART” planning, which expedites study processes with the goal of increased efficiency and spending less taxpayer dollars. “One feeling engineers and scientists always have is that, ‘We want to get more data and answer every last question,’” he said. “And at some point, you never can. We’re trying to answer as many of the high-risk questions as we can in our studies, and acknowledge that there are some risks that we aren’t.” Community Board 1 passed a resolution months before Sandy requesting the Corps study storm-surge barriers. The board has rapidly mobilized to grapple with how to respond to the Corps before the end of the public comment period, which had been set for Aug. 20, but has since been extended to Sept. 20. The board wasn’t informed of the Corps’ July 9 scoping meeting until just days before. “It’s sort of ironic that you have a board that represents the community, and yet these groups don’t come to us,” said Alice Blank, chairperson of C.B. 1’s Resiliency Subcommittee. “I’m sure we’re not the only ones, of course.” Blank added that she thinks, going forward, the Corps will provide frequent updates about the study, whose local sponsors are the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation. The “Herculean task” of coordinating groups is just beginning, she said, adding, “Everybody’s trying to figure out what’s the next step, and how do we get there as quickly as possible without cutting any corners.” In a last-minute meeting in late July that wasn’t included on the C.B. 1 Resiliency Subcommittee’s agenda, a Corps rep explained the study for more than an hour, detailing his concerns over the so-called SMART planning. The Corps is operating with these rules that “never contemplated something of this scale,” Thomas Hodson, the chief of the Corps’ plan-formulation branch, told C.B. 1. He expressed doubt about the planning process and its ability to find the best alternative to protect two states from storm-surge flooding. “SMART planning rushes to make a decision,” Hodson said. “Headquarters TheVillager.com

“Alternative 2” from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ “New York and New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Focus Area Feasibilit y Study” features a massive storm-surge barrier that would connect Sandy Hook and Breez y Point, plus a second, much smaller barrier up at Throgs Neck, in the Bronx.

has decided to rearrange the tradeoff in favor of using less time and less money to make a decision. Does that increase the probability that you’ll make any wrong decision? Does that increase the probability that you will arrive at what’s called a Type 2 error?” he said, referring to a type of statistical error

‘[This is] an existential threat for the Hudson.’ John Lipscomb

— sometimes called a “false negative” — that could lead the study to ignore significant risks with one or more of the five different proposals the Corps study

is evaluating. “If we knew what the storm pattern was going to be in advance, this would be easy,” Hodson told C.B. 1. The five plan options the Corps presented span the gamut from only offshore stormsurge barriers to only protective shoreline measures. On one end of the spectrum, the Corps is floating a 5-mile-long regional storm-surge barrier connecting Breezy Point, New York, and Sandy Hook, New Jersey, along with a much smaller barrier at Throgs Neck, in the Bronx. Another proposal has no barriers, but would implement shoreline measures at key points in New York and New Jersey up the Hudson River to Albany. Three other plans include a mix of elements from these two — Alternatives 3a, 3b and 4. The Corps released maps of the five alternatives in early July, which are viewable in the agency’s online presentation. The largest barrier plan, Wisemiller explained, “would be a monumental engineering challenge” and could cost from $30 billion up to even $50 billion, with more than 100 gates. “Yes, you’re protecting the broad area, and you have that certainty,” Wisemiller said. “But you have the concern that all those gates have to work perfectly while that storm is approaching, and there’s really no way to test those systems until there is a storm in place. “I’m not advocating for one or the other, but the flipside is that you have measures that are tailored for different areas. That you have less area at risk if

any one of the measures should fail for whatever reason,” he said, “poor maintenance over time, whatever the conditions are.” Though the full board of C.B. 1 didn’t endorse a specific proposal, they voted July 31 against the SMART planning process, writing in their resolution that the “expedited review process could have serious implications in terms of an inadequate review of all the critical variables that need to be evaluated for a study of this magnitude.” The community board further requested that the Corps evaluate how each alternative does or does not address sea-level rise, costs of interventions that would address sea-level rise, and better communications between the board and the Corps. But for some on C.B. 1, the lack of detail remains alarming. “It’s really hard to comment on it because there’s not a lot of detail, and it’s hard to know how it’s being coordinated with the city,” said Laura Starr, who runs Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners, which took part in developing the “Big U” waterfrontprotection plan. Catherine McVay Hughes, a longtime advocate of the largest barrier plan and former chairperson of C.B. 1, said storm surge must be addressed in the harbor and sea-level rise on the waterfront. “It’s a multipronged attack,” said Hughes, who is on the Metropolitan NY-NJ Storm Surge Working Group, BARRIERS continued on p. 18 August 23, 2018

9


EDITORIAL Reckless pols

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nother week, another press conference to try to hammer some sense into the state Senate’s Republicans to return to Albany and “turn on” the school speed cameras again. This Tuesday it was Comptroller Scott Stringer, joined by Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou and Transportation Alternatives, at ABC Playground, at E. Houston and Essex Sts., who announced a new petition drive to ratchet up the pressure. The state Legislature ended its session in June without reauthorizing an extension of the program that put speed cameras in school zones. The urgency to extend the legislation to reactivate the cameras has been mounting since, with students set to return to school in two weeks. In fact, the cameras are still on. Yes, they’re running — and collecting data — though tickets are not being issued, thanks to the state Senate’s G.O.P. “leaders,” and we use that term loosely. The New York City Department of Transportation recently found that more than 132,000 drivers have been observed exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour during school hours since the cameras were “shut off.” (Again, technically, the cameras are on — but the program, like the Albany Republicans, is nonfunctional.) To date, 120 speed cameras are on hiatus. The final 20 are set to “go dark,” on Aug. 30, again, just days before students start school. Comptroller Stringer’s Office recently released an analysis on reckless drivers. It found that 121,000 New York City vehicles received more than five tickets for speeding near schools and running red lights in just the past 26 months alone — and 1,107 times per day a vehicle with multiple violations blows through a red light or speeds through a school zone. The comptroller’s analysis also found that, since 2016, more than 3.5 million tickets have been issued to drivers caught by traffic cameras speeding through school zones or running a red light. That’s also a huge amount of revenue that the state is currently losing. Since 2013, more than 46 children have been killed on our streets by reckless drivers. Niou said that, up in Albany, “We see these strange arguments from Republicans about privacy. ... I just don’t get it,” she said in exasperation. She noted that the majority of voters in the Republicans’ districts support the lifesaving cameras. “They are risking their political career every day they don’t go up there,” Stringer said, referring to a special session at which the state Senate would vote to restore the camera program. “I believe parents are going to hold every politician accountable if these cameras are not turned on by primary day, Election Day,” he predicted. The key point is that 35 state senators reportedly support the bill to get the camera program functioning again, and to extend it to additional sites. Only 32 votes in the Senate are needed for approval. It has already passed the Assembly. Basically, Senate Majority John Flanagan, and notorious scofflaw Marty “Speed Racer” Golden, are why this bill is locked up in the Legislature. Apparently, they just can’t hear the protests — which is why it’s time for the petition. To sign on, go to comptroller.nyc.gov/speed-camera-petition/.

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August 23, 2018

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR The press is a pillar To The Editor: Re “In the land of the free, protect the free press” (editorial, Aug. 16): Applause! Congratulations and heartfelt thanks for preserving the first of our Four Freedoms! Cynthia Crane Story

OH! (mock it to me, mock it to me, mock it to me!) You baby, don’t care a little bit You’re just lyin’ and you’re just breakin’ it! I’ve got to have, just a little bit But you want it all and you just lie.... and not a little bit. Harry Pincus

Donald T-R-U-M-P To The Editor: What you want You ain’t got it What you need You can’t have it All I’m hearin’ Is Trump lyin’ on the phone (not a little bit) Hey baby, (not a little bit) he’s ruinin’ our home Lyin’ mister, he wants all of it Baby, (he’s just blowin’ it) tweetin’ on the phone (just more lyin’ s---) Yeah, he’s just blowin’ it I’m about to give him, all my money And I’m askin’ for his tax returns, honey Not his lies, which are real whoppers Lies on the phone (not a little bit, not a little bit) Yeah! He’s a racist s--Ooh...your kisses, smell like money All I want you to do for me Is go away, honey! Don’t give it to me on the phone Yeah baby! (re re re re re re) Whip me! Whip me! I’m Trumped a little bit So Donald T-R-U-M-P I know just what you mean to me Donald T-R-U-M-P You’re not takin’ care of me

More attack than critique To The Editor: Re “No spin, just facts: Rivera’s ‘Tech Hub’ flop” (talking point, by Andrew Berman, Aug. 16): I have supported these efforts all along and share Andrew Beman’s disappointment with the outcome. I do think, however, that although his critique of the Tech Hub deal is valid, it could be expressed in a way that is less of an attack on Carlina Rivera, in particular. She will be needed as an ally in the future. I heard her speak and don’t think her position on the Hub was as clear cut as the writer describes. I think she made a decision that may be criticized, but should not be so stridently condemned. Just my 2 cents. Harold Appel

Rosie, where did you go? To The Editor: Re “No spin, just facts: Rivera’s ‘Tech Hub’ flop” (talking point, by Andrew Berman, Aug. 16): What is disheartening is that Rosie Mendez, who did so much for the neighborhood, was replaced by an opportunistic politician whose first action was to break her promise and lie. I don’t think we can expect anything from her in the future. Vote her out next time is my answer. Helene Volat

LETTERS continued on p. 12

IRA BLUTREICH

Your songs brought us together! TheVillager.com


E.V. rad pamphleteers preserved for posterity

GLOBAL VILLAGE BY BILL WEINBERG

I

n 1948, George Orwell co-edited a collection of reproduced British political pamphlets spanning from the 16th century to the French Revolution. In his introduction, he noted that the pamphlet is an inherently democratic form, produced by those who seek to take their message directly to the populace. “If one had not a certain faith in democracy, one would not write pamphlets, one would try to gain one’s ends by intriguing among influential people,” Orwell stated. This ethic is certainly clear in the volume “REVOLT: East Village Activism Literature: 1960s - 1990s,” a collection compiled by Eric Ferrara and his Lower East Side History Project. The bulk of the entries here are steeped in the ultra-democratic spirit of the New Left and radical counterculture of the ’60s, which left its imprint on activist movements in New York for a generation. These items speak to a very different time, before the Internet — when taking your message to the masses meant literally standing on street corners and giving out printed matter. Yet the mere fact that it was printed somehow gave even the most irreverent psychedelic screed a weight that the ephemeral clickbait of today’s online agitprop often seems to lack. The first item here, and one of the lengthiest, is “The Bust Book,” a 75page primer on how to prepare for a demonstration — or riot — and what to do if you’re arrested. It was produced by the New York chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, and at the time it was priced at 50 cents. Today, a few copies are available online — priced at up to $80 each. Ferrara presents it scanned, in its entirety. Much of the advice in it is just as relevant today as it was when it was produced in 1969. The next item, also among the lengthiest, is “Fuck the System” by George Metesky — pseudonym of Yippie leader Abbie Hoffman. Published as a pamphlet in 1967, it would later be incorporated into Hoffman’s wittily entitled book, “Steal This Book.” It is basically a how-to guide on living for free in New York City, with sections entitled “Free Food,” “Free Clothes,” “Free Phone Calls,” “Free Drugs” and so on. Certainly, this was a much easier proposition in the low-rent ’60s. The absence of today’s pressure to constantly hustle to appease the landlord helps account for the greater activist TheVillager.com

COURTESY LES HISTORY PROJECT

From a 1970 pamphlet, “Power Unlimited,” published by Ecology Action East, a group that was based at the former “Peace Pentagon,” at Lafayette and Bleecker Sts.

Homespun agitprop from before the Internet.

energies of that era. An actual revolutionary manifesto

comes next — with the portentous title of “A Draft Proposal for the Founding of the International Working Peoples Association.” Written by Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin, a veteran Black Panther leader and former political prisoner, in 1979, it is an updated version of a manifesto issued nearly a century earlier by Johan Most, the GermanAmerican anarchist, who was a Lower East Side resident. The original International Working Peoples Association — or “Black International” — was conceived as an anarchist successor to the communist-dominated International Workingmen’s Association — the First International. Ervin brought the idea up to date with a greater emphasis on the role of Black, women and immigrant workers. “Anarchism and the Feminist Con-

nection,” by Peggy Kornegger, was printed in 1977 by Come! Unity Press, which issued many pamphlets on anarchist theory and history from its office on E. 17th St. during this period. Kornegger’s 80-page effort includes fascinating discussions of the role of women in the 1936 Spanish Revolution and the May 1968 uprising in France. The remaining entries are considerably shorter. After all this ultra-radicalism, it is amusing to see a folded pamphlet from the New York State Division of Substance Abuse Services explaining the 1977 Marijuana Reform Act, which decriminalized personal possession of the herb. Also presented are several issues of the Freespace newsletter, published by Freespace Alternative University. This anarchist-oriented “free school” was based in the famous former “Peace Pentagon,” at 339 Lafayette St. —then headquarters of the War Resisters League, with low-cost space made available to several activist groups. “Power Unlimited,” published in 1970 by a group called Ecology Action East — also based at the Peace Pentagon — was a comic-book primer on the problems with the American energy system. Refreshingly, it took an unsparing look at both fossil fuels and nuclear power —rather than seeing the latter as an alternative to the former, as too many do today. A fi nal section of one-page leaflets brings the collection into the 1990s. Artifacts are presented from the struggle to save the CHARAS / El Bohio Cultural and Community Center on E. Ninth St., the uprising against the Tompkins Square Park curfew, and protests against runaway rent hikes and illegal evictions. It’s appropriate that the volume ends there. Two trends converged in the ’90s to put an end to this kind of oppositional culture. One was the cultural cleansing wrought by gentrification, which dramatically shrank the social space for idealism and activism. The other was the advent of the World Wide Web. Today, “alternative” media abound in the online realm — but basically disconnected from the “meat world,” or the street world. And the seeming free-for-all of online media created an atmosphere ripe for manipulation by shadowy entities, like Cambridge Analytica and the Internet Research Agency. Seemingly homespun Web sites, blogs and Facebook groups often mask covert state propaganda. Kind of makes one nostalgic for the real McCoy homespun agitprop of what, in retrospect, seems increasingly like a very innocent age. “REVOLT: East Village Activism Literature: 1960s - 1990s,” by Eric Ferrara (January 2018, Lower East Side History Project), 310 pages, $14.99. August 23, 2018

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Letters to The Editor LETTERS continued from p. 10

No segregation To The Editor: Re “LREI segregated students of color in middle school” (news article, Aug. 9): I generally look forward to reading The Villager every week. Your reporting is consistently relevant to issues affecting our neighborhood. I start with the headlines. In the Aug. 9 issue, I appreciated your balanced coverage of Rivera vs. Berman on the controversial “Tech Hub” issue. Then my eye caught the front-page article about LREI, its students of color being segregated in the middle school. This alarming article represents uncharacteristically incomplete reporting. The article in the New York Post you referred to was published very early in the summer. Since then, in rapid response, LREI wrote to all alumni and parents regarding the Post article and its distortions, that was then followed up by several meetings during the summer at the school, to which all alumni and parents were invited. As an active alumna, I was certain to attend one of those early

meetings and noticed there were about 25 others — at least six of them African American. I learned at the meeting about how the article in the Post was based on a discussion with one set of parents who questioned the school’s policies. No further research was performed. In the many years of my association with LREI, I have never encountered any evidence of segregation. On the contrary, from its very origins, the emphasis has been on diversity. LREI has always designated a substantial percentage of scholarships to minority students. In recent years, we have witnessed major pressures on matters of identity, which the school has addressed in its curriculum. The school has sought different methods of empowering the students through various programs, some of which have been more successful than others, a point the Post neglected to mention, and therefore prompted the kind of controversy the newspaper thrives on. I am surprised you did, too. Susan E. Meyer Meyer is a member, LREI Alumni Association

Police Blotter BLOTTER continued from p. 5

and doors.”

Socked on 6th Ave. On Mon., Aug. 13, around 3:15 a.m., a verbal argument between two guys, allegedly over a $30 debt, turned physical when the

26-year-old punched the 55-yearold in the chest on the northeast corner of Sixth Ave. and Washington Place, police said. According to the police report, after socking the victim, the perpetrator pushed him to the ground, then rifled through his pocket and took his cell phone and a small Swiss Army knife. The victim then used a pay phone at W. Fourth St.

Socialist solution? To The Editor: Re “On the S.B.J.S.A., this time, let’s get it right” (talking point, by Sharon Woolums, Aug. 9): Hooray for Sharon! The Queen of Greenwich Village! Well done! I think you should reach out to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The current seismic shift in the Democratic Party to the left will likely sweep away the sellout centrist politicians who’ve been dragging their feet on this bill, in blind obedience to the REBNY mafia. When will these New York City pols have the courage to say to hell with real estate money, like many Dems across the country are now doing? Is this a new mini-version of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall we are witnessing? These small businesses should be proud and happy with Sharon’s courageous work on their behalf. John Bredin E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@ thevillager.com or fax to 212229-2790 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.

and Sixth Ave. to call 911. When police arrived, they took the victim, who was uninjured, with them in a patrol car to canvass the area. Based on the victim’s positive identification and description, the officers stopped Alhassane Doumbouya, 26, in front of 78 Washington Place and arrested him for felony robbery.

Lucy Stone and Lincoln Anderson

SHERIFF’S SALE

SOUND OFF! Write a letter to the editor news@ thevillager.com 12

August 23, 2018

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 O’CLOCK IN THE FORENOON, at: NEW YORK COUNTY SHERIFF’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 31ST 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. 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

TheVillager.com


Geeking out on diversity and inclusion Flame Con grows as it redefines LGBTQ culture BY CHARLES BATTERSBY Last weekend, subway riders in New York might have noticed costumed nerds were flooding the city. International Cosplay Day took place in Central Park, Liberty City Anime Con at the New York Marriott Marquis, and, at the Sheraton Times Square, there was Flame Con. Billed as “The World’s Largest Queer Comic Con,” this was the event’s fourth year, and its third change of venue (previous installments took place in Brooklyn). Flame Con continues to grow in attendance and scope. At a quick glance, it looks like any other con: There are excited fans lined up to hear celebrities speak, a hall of vendors selling art and indie comics, and an abundance of cosplayers dressed up like their favorite characters. Upon a closer look, attendees will see some distinct details: Most of the people at Flame Con are wearing badges with their preferred gender pronouns (free stickers were placed on tables throughout the con, featuring the options He, She, They, and Ask Me). All of the bathrooms are genderneutral. Rainbows and unicorns adorn nearly everyone, and none of the cosplayers are carrying replica firearms. The “No Firearms” policy is rare at cons. Phoenix Comic Fest enacted a similar policy last year after a man with real guns tried to enter that convention, and Flame Con’s policy was implemented two years ago, after the Pulse nightclub shooting. We spoke with Kevin Gilligan, the Lead for Experiences at Flame Con, about how this unusual policy affects the con. “We want Flame Con to be a welcoming experience for all, and we don’t anyone to feel unsafe,” he told us. “In order to do that, we have challenged our cosplayers to either come up with cosplay that doesn’t require weaponry, or find clever alternatives.” “If your cosplay can’t be defined without a weapon,” Gilligan said, “then maybe you should re-look at your cosplay.” The attendees lived up to the challenge, sporting outfits that rivaled what is seen at much larger cons. Another thing that separates cosplay TheVillager.com

Photo by Charles Battersby

Audience and judge favorites from Saturday’s costume contest.

at Flame Con from other cons is the “Come All” attitude in the contests. Many cons have strict application processes for people who want to be in their cosplay contests. Hopefuls have to apply months ahead of time, and even then only a small portion are worthy of walking the stage. Flame Con has a more welcoming attitude: A contest is held each day and anyone can join, even jumping into the line on the spur of the moment. We asked the judges what they were looking for in the winners. Flame Con’s cosplay co-chair, who goes by the name Tea Berry-Blue, told us they look for “Costumes that, to us, embody the spirit of Flame Con and the spirit of joy, diversity, and inclusion.” A guest judge this year, “Trungles,” explained that they want “Someone who’s really enthusiastic about their community and character, and who put a lot of dedication and love into their costume.”

Although gay and straight geeks are enthusiastic about the same things, the LGBTQ community has taken a particular liking to the “Steven Universe” cartoons. It’s an adventure show with a sweet sensibility, and an exceptionally diverse cast. The cute animation is child-like, but it often addresses social themes that adults can appreciate as much as kids can. Trungles explained that “Steven Universe” is “a property that we can share with the younger members of our community. Some people latch onto this as a reclamation of a childhood where we can be open and embracing of our queerness, while also sharing it with the rest of our community. The show does a really good job of crossing those generational bridges.” We also spoke to a Flame Con attendee named Victor, who explained, “I knew ‘Steven Universe’ for the first time when I knew that Jinkx Monsoon,

winner of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 5, was doing the voice of Emerald, I was gagging by the fact that a drag queen was participating in such a project. I was thinking, this is gonna be so controversial, because ‘Steven Universe’ looks like a toon for kids. So that’s how I got interested in the show. I really admire how LGBTQ culture is becoming part of the society, where we are just another person in it, not freaks anymore.” Among the other unique finds at Flame Con were a performance by an LGBTQ cheerleading team, a panel on using corsetry and breast binding for crossdressing cosplayers, and no less than three musical theater performances inspired by shows like “Star Trek” and “Firefly.” Flame Con explores LGBTQ identity from many angles. Among the FLAME CON continued on p. 15 August 23, 2018

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Dream Weavers Lady Bunny, Neil Patrick Harris drag Wigstock into the ‘2.HO’ era BY SCOTT STIFFLER Hairstyles come and go, fake eyelashes eventually lose their grip, and even the fiercest foundation fades with time. But showbiz survivor Lady Bunny is digging her heels in and seeding the field for things to come — by bringing a “2.HO” relaunch of her iconic Wigstock gathering to South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 on Saturday, September 1. There, in a classy, 1.5acre rooftop venue standing in stark contrast to Wigstock’s gritty Tompkins Square Park roots, audiences will see a seven-hour, all-star lineup of veteran and contemporary drag talent serving an “outrageous and unapologetically entertainment-rich show” co-produced by, among others, none other than “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” alum Neil Patrick Harris. Word of Wigstock’s return spread on social media last week faster than a flame that’s just come into contact with Aqua Net — and, just as quickly, proud press whore Lady Bunny gave consent for this publication to fill a hole in her schedule via a Friday, August 17 phone interview at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. Coffee in hand, she spilled the tea on everything from Trump to makeup tutorials to manufactured rivalries, all before heading out to Fire Island for a solo gig (“Pig in a Wig”), then riding the last ferry home, so to speak. Now that’s the kind of work ethic befitting a self-professed “salty old kook” who’s been dishing up sass, ass, and songs to hungry audiences for over three decades. So give the gal her due, and get your tickets before they’re all scooped up — by teenage girls! NYC Community Media: Why bring Wigstock [1985-2001] back at this particular point? Lady Bunny: When Wigstock originally started, gay people were scared. People were dropping like flies from AIDS. I was probably 22, and I wasn’t very politically involved. I was certainly no mastermind like Larry Kramer or any of the other people who formed ACT UP and fought so bravely. I couldn’t conceive of a die-in outside of a church. It just wasn’t in my DNA — but what I could do is be a clown and throw a party and make people who had not succumbed to AIDS enjoy themselves. I could bring everyone together and remind us that we are still alive and we can banish some of the darkness that AIDS brought, by hav-

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August 23, 2018

Photo by Jonathan Bayme

Photo by David Ayllon

Bosom Buddies: Lady Bunny and Neil Patrick Harris are among the busy brains behind the relaunch of Wigstock.

Bob the Drag Queen, winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 9, is on the bill for September 1’s rain-or-shine Wigstock.

ing a silly celebration. And I think, in a similar way, I was very involved in slogging it out with my dearest friends during that very, very long primary leading up to the [2016 presidential] election. The election had, of course, what I feel to be the worst outcome, although I didn’t like either of the choices… and I think that we really are in a malaise. We’re stunned. And I won’t liken Trump to AIDS, but let’s just say that we could use a party now, too. NYC Community Media: How has the culture changed in terms of embracing drag — and in its mainstreaming, what have we gained? Lady Bunny: We’ve gained a lot of people who are interested in drag. We’ve also gained lot of drag personalities from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” who are phenomenally talented, like Bianca Del Rio, Jinkx Monsoon, Latrice Royale, Bob the Drag Queen, and Willam — and it just so happens that they’re all performing at Wigstock. So, I mean, it put drag on the map in a big way. And I, as an associate of RuPaul’s, have been mentioned on the show, so I benefit from the mainstreaming… It’s great. Sometimes Ru will make a joke about me and people say, “Oh girl, he read you last night.” And I’m, like, “You can’t make a joke about some-

body on a national TV show unless they’re somewhat known.” And if they don’t know, they can Google it… This is what I think is funny: People want to pit drag queens against each other. There was an article in the New York Times that mentioned RuPaul is not scheduled to perform at Wigstock this year, and that there was a bit of a rivalry between RuPaul and me. [The Times’ Aug. 15 article characterized RuPaul as gaining fame “by selling drag to a mainstream audience, while spreading a message of universal love and acceptance,” while pegging Lady Bunny as one who “remains countercultural and indie at heart,” concluding that section with, “Tellingly, RuPaul is not scheduled to perform at Wigstock.”] Honey, first of all, if there’s a rivalry, he’s clearly winning hands-down! But to say we have a rivalry? That [article] was the same day RuPaul launched his podcast [episode] with me… When you’re friends with someone since your early 20s, and roommates for, you know, a decade? That’s not a rivalry... And I mean, I do things with the “Drag Race” queens all the time. I did that “Werq the World” tour twice, affiliated with World of Wonder, the production company of “Drag Race.” Last year I

played Cardiff, in Wales, twice. And I’ve never played there before. And I go on tours with these girls, because such a fever has been created around drag. So that’s what’s been gained. NYC Community Media: Has there been anything lost, because of the mainstreaming? Lady Bunny: Of course. We did an annual comedy show called “Queens of Comedy” at the Castro in San Francisco and the show was popular. We did it for several years and they would add an early show and ask us to keep our act clean because kids came to the early show — and for someone who cut their drag teeth in late night gay bars, I was always encouraged to do things that were filthy, outrageous, kooky. Definitely not tasteful. So that was a bit of a culture shock. And then I did one of those big “RuPaul’s Drag Race” queen roundup shows… And everyone in the front row were young women, like 15 and up. I said, “Wow, this is wild, the front rows of drag shows are women?” And they [the “Drag Race” queens] said, “Yeah, they’re the ones who buy the merchandise. They’re our biggest fans.” Now part of me misses hanging out with women, because I WIGSTOCK continued on p. 15 TheVillager.com


WIGSTOCK continued from p. 14

got my start in rock clubs like the Pyramid and others in Atlanta that were extremely mixed, and then went on to work in clubs like Limelight and Palladium; mixed clubs. So I always enjoyed having girls around, and now itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s come full circle. During the Circuit years, girls did not mingle much with gays that much. It was hard beats and hard bodies, you know, maybe a few â&#x20AC;&#x201D; can we still say â&#x20AC;&#x153;fag hagâ&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;fruit fly?â&#x20AC;? So that part, I actually like. However, these 15-year-old girls, they know zero gay subtext and theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not going to possibly appreciate a joke about a yeast infection, which would send audiences in a gay bar into a tizzy. But any performer has to somewhat tailor their show to an audience, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just common sense. And I think one of the other things thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been lost is the kind of drag that inspired me to do Wigstock, which is kind of quirky and offbeat â&#x20AC;&#x201D; definitely not as polished. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m seeing drag turn into a like status symbol kind of thing where, ooh, you have to have this quality of lace front wigs, and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m like, â&#x20AC;&#x153;No, I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t. I skip money on Botox on my forehead and I wear bangs that go right down to my eyebrows, which I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even pluck.â&#x20AC;? ...Every queen is making these makeup tutorials, where they not only hold up every product after they apply it, but they smirk, as if to say, â&#x20AC;&#x153;He, he, he, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I can afford this product.â&#x20AC;? But for me, getting whatever I could get from a thrift shop that was made for a woman and fit me, it wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t about the polish. It was never about spending hours conceiving of a look. It was the spirit you brought that to the party, the dancing, the lip-synching,

FLAME CON continued from p. 13

panels this year was one moderated by writer Ali Abbas, which looked at how gay Muslims are depicted in TV and film. Muslim characters have recently appeared in projects like â&#x20AC;&#x153;X-Files,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Punisher,â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Bold Type,â&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;Person of Interestâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and many of these characters are gay or trans. In a light-hearted discussion, Abbas pointed out that some media depictions of Muslims and trans people were quite similar. He said both groups are â&#x20AC;&#x153;highly visible in the media and the news, but the people who are representing us on television and in art, theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not trans and theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not brown.â&#x20AC;? Abbas cited how beards and hijabs are easy ways to make characters look Muslim, or how trans characters refer TheVillager.com

Photo by Jovanni Jimenez Pedraza

More than a mere â&#x20AC;&#x153;look queen,â&#x20AC;? Bianca Del Rio gets Lady Bunnyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s seal of approval for her aesthetics, as well as her ability to deliver a solid performance.

the singingâ&#x20AC;Ś My crowd, my kind of queen, is less polished. Makeup is what you do before you get on the stage. If you spend five hours on your makeup and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got nothing to do on the stage except look like your makeup is gorgeous? To me, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dull, because drag is performance-oriented. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d rather see someone with [less than perfect] applied makeup and a cheap wig tear up a number. But for Wigstock, I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t book any who are what they are call â&#x20AC;&#x153;look queensâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; I mean, Bianca Del Rio does both. Her makeup is incredible, her wigs she does herself, her costumes she makes herself, but she had an act before she went on â&#x20AC;&#x153;Drag Race.â&#x20AC;? And I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t typically tell queens what

to their transition in dialogue â&#x20AC;&#x201D; but that the portrayals are often inaccurate. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a high visual demand for [trans and Muslim characters] now,â&#x20AC;? he told us, â&#x20AC;&#x153;but the people filling that demand donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have a horse in the race. So they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to care about how theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re representing these people.â&#x20AC;? When asked if one can be both a devout Muslim and gay, Abbas explained, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s very nuanced. I can only talk about by region. You have Lebanon, which has had free HIV healthcare since the â&#x20AC;&#x2122;80s. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s still illegal to be gay on the books, but they have gay bar culture... It depends: Muslim by Muslim, region by region, country by country. The problem is convoluting it all so that theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re all just â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;brown.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; â&#x20AC;? While interviewing Abbas, a cos-

to perform at Wigstock. I mean, of course, I might say so-and-so is doing an extremely similar number â&#x20AC;&#x201D; might you want to change that? Sometimes I will guide them or make suggestions, but sometimes their own suggestions are better than mine. There are some queens, like Lypsinka, who I would never dare to suggest anything to [laughs]. But what was the actual question [laughs]? Because thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s one other point that my coffee haze is trying to bubble through. NYC Community Media: No, I think youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve covered it, admirably given the hour of the day this interview is taking place. Talk about your role in this relaunch. Lady Bunny: Apparently, executive producing. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be emceeing and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re [the co-producers] all working together and making decisions on everything from props to lighting to ticket sales to whatever. We had a location, which fell through. It was in Brooklyn. We all loved it, but we didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get it. But we actually found a better location, which is the exquisite Pier 17. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s so nice, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m afraid they may not let some of the performers in. Diana Ross and Gladys Knight will be performing there in the fall â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and honey, if itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s good enough for them, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s good enough for Big Bad Bunn. NYC Community Media: How did co-producer Neil Patrick Harris get on board? Lady Bunny: We had originally discussed some sort of reality TV show, which was about the reviving of Wigstock and how it would culminate with a two-hour episode of the festival. That idea languished for quite awhileâ&#x20AC;Ś We were trying to make it kind of a semi-scripted thing with silly ideas,

like Neil didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really want to help me organize Wigstock, that he wanted to get into my panties. We worked on it, and it kind of morphed into, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Why donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t we just do a festival instead, and make a documentary?â&#x20AC;? And thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re doing. NYC Community Media: Do you see it becoming an ongoing thing? Lady Bunny: Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like to see if I could plug Wigstock into existing festivals, like they have all over Europe, like Milkshake and Glastonbury. Maybe they can give us a stage to do our thing for a few hours. NYC Community Media: Parting thoughts? Lady Bunny: Wigstock is not just a concert, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a party. So throw on your drag rags, your wigs, whatever. A wig can really transform you into a party animal, and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s who we want there. And Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not going to sit and bitch about New York City â&#x20AC;&#x153;losing itâ&#x20AC;? if Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not trying to add something fun to it. So please join us. Wigstock takes place from 3-10pm, rain or shine, at the South Street Seaportâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Pier 17. For tickets ($95, $250 or $1,000), visit wigstock.nyc. Artist info at ladybunny.net. At press time, the talent lineup included Alaska, Alex Newell, Amanda Lepore, Barbara Tucker, Bianca Del Rio, Bob the Drag Queen, Candis Cayne, Charlene Incarnate, Darcelle XV, Desmond is Amazing, Dina Martina, Heklina, Jackie Beat, Jada Valenciagia, Jinkx Monsoon, Joey Arias, Justin Vivian Bond, Kevin Aviance, Latrice Royale, Lina Bradford, Linda Simpson, Lypsinka, Murray Hill, Peaches Christ, Peppermint, Raven O, Sherry Vine, Unitard, Varla Jean Merman, and Willam.

player approached us and complimented Abbas on his rainbow sneakers. Deep discussions on global politics, theology, gender identity, and fabulous

shoes. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Flame Con in a nutshell. The event has been confirmed to return in 2019. For more info, visit flamecon. org and geeksout.org.

All Performances are FREE to the public!!!

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August 23, 2018

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TheVillager.com

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Anti-flood plan is surging too fast BARRIERS continued from p. 9

which supports the regional barrier plan. “It’s really important that this is really seriously considered because it would be a shame that Alternative 1 — which is inaction — is what happens.” Hughes co-authored a study this April with that working group’s chairperson, Malcolm Bowman, and others arguing that an extensive regional barrier plan — with more barriers than the Corps’ major barrier proposal — is the only approach that would equitably protect all at-risk parts of the region. The study cited how Sandy disproportionately impacted poor, immigrant and minority communities, which also had slower recoveries, particularly in the outer boroughs. The largest concentration of deaths, too, were in low-lying neighborhoods in Staten Island, in contrast to Manhattan’s two fatalities, according to the study. “Only such a combined, layered regional storm-surge and sea-level rise barrier system will provide comprehensive protection for all of the region’s residents and communities, regardless of their economic or social status, for the next 100 years,” the paper concludes. However, Riverkeeper, a 52-year-

old environmental advocacy group dedicated to protecting the Hudson River, has serious doubts about the regional protection barrier. For one, advocates worry a barrier would choke the life out of the Hudson River, restricting tidal flow and blocking fish migration, which could have cascading effects on North Atlantic fisheries, according to John Lipscomb, Riverkeeper’s patrol boat captain. “These barriers pose an existential threat for the Hudson,” Lipscomb warned. Plus, the regional barrier alone does not address sea-level rise, nor does the Corps’ entire study itself. “The Corps was asked the wrong question,” Lipscomb stressed. “They were asked about storm risk and not sea-level rise risk.” After the Corps’ years of work already, Lipscomb said, “It’s almost as though the train has headed down the track and we’re early on, and we know it’s on the track to the wrong destination and we cannot turn it around.” A West Villager at the early July scoping meeting worried the massive barrier was an “all eggs in one basket” approach. “I’m extremely concerned about this Alternative 2 over here, for example, where we’re going to put a ton of money — all eggs in one basket — and

then if that thing doesn’t work, you’re exposed in all these other ways,” said Tom O’Keefe, a private tutor and climate activist. “In the meantime, you cause a lot of other problems by making this massive intervention.” Meanwhile, much of Lower Manhattan remains exposed to storm surges, and even medium-term protections by the city won’t be implemented until the 2019 storm season. The Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Project’s Two Bridges portion recently had its fourth public meeting and is considered fully funded, but that’s just 0.82 miles of Lower Manhattan. The “Big U” plan, which would cover 10 miles of Manhattan waterfront, is mostly either delayed or underfunded. Plus, as Hughes and Bowman’s study notes, that piecemeal approach ignores environmental and social justice. “The multilevel approach, right now — ‘the Big U’ — is a broken ‘J’,” Hughes said. “It’s conceptual.” Coordination between multiple city agencies, the state and the federal government seems lacking, Starr added. “The fact of the matter is — the water is the water,” she said. “It’s going to go where it wants to go. The water doesn’t know about the political jurisdictions. The political jurisdictions have to come together to really collaborate to address the water.”

Two Bridges area’s towering fear TOWERS continued from p. 3

dian income, or A.M.I. That would be “one of the largest infusions of affordable housing in Manhattan in decades, and a critical addition amid the ongoing housing crisis,” the developers said in a statement through spokesperson James Yolles. The Extell project does include affordable units, too — 200 of them. However, they are located in a separate, smaller building on Cherry St., a fact that neighborhood residents decried as discrimination during the project’s outreach stage. Another 2,075 units in the new quartet of towers would be market rate. “We’ve appreciated the opportunity to hear additional community feedback about the projects over the last several weeks and are enthusiastic about the improvements that would be made as a result of the proposed projects,” the developers said. Among these planned improvements are $40 million in upgrades to the East Broadway subway station, including an elevator; $15 million slated for three parks; “neighborhood-format” retail; a community room at 265-275 Cherry

18

August 23, 2018

St.; and a community facility at 260 South St., among others. Flood protections will be added to 80 Rutgers Slip by elevating mechanical systems, adding deployable flood barriers, upgrading fire-protection systems, and installing emergency generators. New construction and existing landscaped areas will be elevated to 1 foot above the base 100-year-flood elevation between South and Cherry Sts. and Rutgers Slip and Jefferson Sts. “These are investments that will provide genuine and lasting benefits for the neighborhood,” the developers said. “We look forward to continuing our dialogue with elected officials and other local stakeholders as the formal public review process continues.” This public hearing process for the four towers — which are not undergoing the city’s formal Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP — was reignited when the D.E.I.S. was suddenly publicly released in late June. The projects include an 80-story building at 247 Cherry St., by JDS Development Group; 62- and 69-story towers at 260 South St., by L+M Development Partners and the CIM Group; and a 63-story tower at 259 Clinton St., by the Starrett Group.

The Department of City Planning will hold a public hearing on Oct. 17. Local politicians have scrambled to find a way to force the project to go through ULURP. City Councilmember Margaret Chin and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer filed a zoning text amendment with City Planning that would require a special permit to be obtained for the project, which would, therefore, need to go through ULURP. If the buildings are made to go through ULURP, Chin would gain more power over the process, since a vote would be required in the City Council and the projects are in her district. Many who spoke at the hearing voiced support for the Chinatown Working Group rezoning plan, which was a community-based plan years in the making that would require stricter height limits. That plan has largely fizzled; but many Lower East Side activists — including representatives of Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) and Chinatown activist group CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities — are still advocating for the C.W.G. rezoning and requesting Board 3’s support for that plan. TheVillager.com


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UNFORGETTABLE EVENTS 2049 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, (718) 377-4535

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FLORAL FANTASY 3031 Quentin Road in Brooklyn, (718) 998-7060 or (800) 566–8380 www.floralfantasyny.com FLOWERS BY MASSENET Jamaica, Queens, NY (347) 724-7044, (718) 526-3725 HENRY’S FLORIST 8103 Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn (800) 543-6797 or (718) 238–3838 www.henrysfloristweddingevents.com MARINE FLORIST AND DECORATORS 1995 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn (800) 447-6730 or (718) 338-3600 www.marineflorists.com

JEWELERS

BUONO JEWELERS 1250 Hylan Blvd., #6a Staten Island, NY 10305 (718) 448-4900, www.buonojewelers.com

LIMOUSINE SERVICES

MILA LIMOUSINE CORPORATION (718) 232-8973, www.milalimo.com M&V LIMOUSINES LTD. 1-800-498-5788 1117 Jericho Tpke, Commack, NY (631) 543-0908 151 Denton Ave., New Hyde Park, NY (516) 921-6845 535 8th Ave., 3rd Flr., NY, NY (646) 757-9101 www.mvlimo.com

ROMANTIQUE/DOUBLE DIAMOND LIMOUSINES 1421-86 Street, Brooklyn, NY, (718) 351-7273 2041-Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island (718) 351-7273, www.rddlimos.com SOPHISTICATED LIMOUSINES Servicing the Tri- State Area, (718) 816-9475 www.sophisticatedlimousines.com

PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEO

FANTASY PHOTOGRAPHY 3031 Quentin Rd., Brooklyn NY, (718) 998-0949 www.fantasyphotographyandvideo.com NY PHOTO VIDEO GROUP 1040 Hempstead Tpke Franklin Sq., NY 11010 11 Michael Avenue Farmingdale, NY 11735 Office: 516-352-3188 Joe Cell: 516-445-8054 Peter Cell: 516-343-6662 www.nyphotovideogroup.com info@nyphotovideogroup.com ONE FINE DAY PHOTOGRAPHERS 459 Pacific St., Massapequa Park (516) 690–1320 www.onefinedayphotographers.com ZAKAS PHOTOGRAPHY info@zakasphotography.com www.zakasphotography.com

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DREAM HOUSE REALTY 7505 15th Avenue Brookyn, NY 11228 (718) 837–2121, carolynctrp@aol.com Carolyn Trippe, Lic. RE Broker

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PILO ARTS SALON 8412 3 Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209 (718) 748–7411, www.piloarts.com

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COSMETIC & LASER CENTER OF BAY RIDGE 9921 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209 (718) 833-2793 or (718) 833-7616 www.BayRidgeDerm.com ELITE WEIGHT LOSS 1316 Kings Highway, Brooklyn, NY 11229 (917) 444-3043, EliteWeightLossNY.com KHROM DERMATOLOGY & AESTHETICS 2797 Ocean Parkway, 1st Fl. Brooklyn, NY 11235 (718) 866-3616, www.josephlichterdds.com JOSEPH LICHTER, D.D.S. 1420 Avenue P in Brooklyn (718) 339-7878, www.khromMD.com OMNI DENTAL CARE 313 Kings Highway in Brooklyn (718) 376-8656, www.omnidentalcare.com THE VEIN CENTER OF THE VASCULAR INSTITUTE OF NY Dr. Natalie Marks 960 - 50 Street, Brooklyn, NY 11219 (718) 438-0067, www.vascularnyc.com

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JOLYN TRAVEL (718) 232-3139 (917) 797-7341

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TRI STATE INSURANCE BROKERAGE 277 Tarrytown Rd.,White Plains, NY 10607 (914) 607-7799 610 Crescent Ave., Bronx, NY 10458 (718) 618-7666 www.tsinsbk.com

TO BE INCLUDED IN THIS DIRECTORY CALL (718) 260–8302 TheVillager.com

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