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Inside: Heated 8-hr. hearing on Small Business Survival bill www.TheVillager.com

October 25, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 42

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

Really New Yorkers. Really Inspiring. Really on Bumble.

Find Them on Bumble THE MOST INSPIRING NEW YORKERS @FindThemOnBumble

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Really New Yorkers. Really Inspiring. Really on Bumble.

Find Them on Bumble THE MOST INSPIRING NEW YORKERS


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October 25, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 42

The Paper of Record forr Greenw Greenwich w ic ich Village, Viill V ll a ag g ge e, East e, Ea asst Village, V illll ag Vi age e,, Lower Lowe East Side, re, Chi re re, iin na atto ow w n and an a nd Noho, No N oh ho o, Since Siin S ncce 193 Soho, Union Square Square, Chinatown 1933

Two Bridges towers’ impacts would be too much, residents cry BY SYDNEY PEREIR A

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n a pivotal moment for the Two Bridges neighborhood, more than 100 people signed up to testify about four mammoth proposed high-rise towers at a City Planning hearing on Wed., Oct. 17. Most slammed the projects

as poorly planned, saying the towers would ramp up gentrification in the transit-deprived angle between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. Downtown politicians have called for a lengthier public review that would give the City Council a TOWERS continued on p. 10

Bike lanes rolled out on 12th and 13th Sts.; Locals feel deflated BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

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ust call them the “fast lanes.” The Department of Transportation has started installing new bike lanes across 12th and 13th Sts. — nearly half a year ahead of the socalled “L-pocalypse” subway

shutdown. In April, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to stop service on the L train between Bedford Ave. and 14th St./Eighth Ave. for 15 months. The crosstown protected bike lanes are part of LANES continued on p. 16

PHOTO BY BOB KRASNER

Garrett Rosso, seen at last year’s Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade, won’t be the top dog at this year’s event, but is helping Ada Nieves, who is this year’s organizer. Sunday’s pooch-palooza will be in East River Park. See Page 5.

Small Biz Survival Bill finally gets its hearing BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

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ore than 200 people packed a hotly anticipated hearing on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act at City Hall Monday. Scores of people signed up to testify on the issue, and the hearing turned into a marathon, lasting more than eight

Trader Joe’s opens on L.E.S. ...p. 2

hours. Among some of the main takeaways were that it became clear the de Blasio administration does not support the S.B.J.S.A., and that, according to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and others, the bill should not be O.K.’d as is, and needs some modifications. The hearing also saw a testy

exchange between Johnson and John Banks, president of the powerful Real Estate Board of New York, which has long been accused of working behind the scenes to keep the bill from ever coming up for a vote. Banks said the bill would SBJSA continued on p. 6

Nixon: DON’T vote for me!......p. 3 Tortilla Flats set to close......p. 19 0

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Aloha, L.E.S.! Trader Joe’s opens on Grand St. BY LESLEY SUSSMAN

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t was carnival time Grand St. style last Friday morning as a huge crowd of local residents braved the chilly weather for a first peek at the new Trader Joe’s grocery store in the recently constructed Essex Crossing on the Lower East Side. The 8 a.m. opening of the basement store at 400 Grand St., at Clinton St., featured live music, banners, giveaways, welcoming Hawaiian lei garlands draped around shoppers’ necks and food tastings. The 30,000-squarefoot store is the largest Trader Joe’s on the Eastern seaboard. Local residents said they had been waiting a long time for the store — known throughout the city for its great prices and extensive array of organic, domestic and imported foods and beverages — to open an outlet in their neighborhood. One of them, Teresa Soto, said, “I couldn’t sleep all night, I was so excited about this store opening. I didn’t want to miss it.” Standing beside her, Juliet Goldsand, another Lower East Sider, said she was disappointed with the nearby Fine Fare supermarket, a longtime neighborhood mainstay, and would do all her grocery shopping here from now on. “They don’t take coupons, the ca-

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October 25, 2018

PHOTO COURTESY TERRY KELLER

Terr y Keller, right, with cashier A shley, made the first purchase at the Grand St. Trader Joe’s at 8:01 a.m. last Friday — a one-pound bag of lemons and a one-and-a-half-pound bag of cut and peeled carrots for a total of $3.98. The store is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

shiers are unpleasant and I could go on and on,” she said of Fine Fare. Shopper Sal Grossman came from Williamsburg to attend the grand opening. “It’s a great location, and a good store,” he said. “But my only wish is that they had opened the entrance on the Delancey St. side, so that you could jump straight onto the bridge and be in Williamsburg in a few minutes.”

Rabbi Shmuel Lev, who has lived along Grand St. for nearly 30 years, was disappointed there was not a special kosher foods section to cater to the neighborhood’s large Orthodox Jewish community. “They have a small kosher meats section in their 14th St. store,” he said of Trader Joe’s, “but I was hoping they would have expanded it here.” A newly employed cashier, who asked that her name not be used, said she quit her job at a nearby supermarket to work at the new Grand St. Trader Joe’s. “Morale was high, they have the best produce and best meats you will find anywhere, and it will be easier to deal with customers because they won’t have to stand in long lines,” she said of some of her reasons for making the switch. In an earlier interview with this newspaper, Renee Leibowitz, the new Trader Joe’s manager, known as the store’s “captain,” said the location is very well staffed. She said the Grand St. store had more than 100 employees to assist shoppers and 31 checkout counters, in an effort to avoid the long lines that many shoppers complain about in smaller Trader Joe’s outlets. She added that “90 percent” of the employees are from the Lower East Side. As for why this location was chosen, Leibowitz said, “It was the right time. I’ve been working around the Lower East Side on behalf of Trader Joe’s since July, and I’ve just fallen in love with the neighborhood. And from what I’ve seen since working around here, it’s a booming area. “It was just magic that they selected this retail opportunity in this great neighborhood and I’m so excited to be working here,” she said. “We have a great real estate location team and where they look begins with our customers and satisfying their desires. People wanted us down here and they’re excited that we decided to do so.” Asked how she felt about the nearby

Fine Fare supermarket potentially being adversely affected by the new Trader Joe’s, Leibowitz said, “We focus on what we do. We don’t look at what the competition may or may not be doing. It’s just about doing the best we can do every day.” The store captain said she was aware of the neighborhood’s ethnic mix — from a large Orthodox Jewish community to Chinese and Hispanic residents — but that there would be no special food sections, such as kosher or Chinese foods, to cater to these varied ethnic and religious tastes. “This store will be like all our other locations, with no specific sections for certain kinds of foods,” she explained. “They will be interspersed with our regular products. Our company philosophy is that we offer our customers a choice, and help people with what they’re looking for in our product offerings.” Leibowitz added that Trader Joe’s was also well aware of today’s growing demand for health food products. “When our customers ask for certain products we will look into it,” she said. “Like in the past year we’ve tried to reduce the sodium levels in our products because customers have been asking for that. So it’s really all about what our customers tell us they want.” In a closing remark, Leibowitz noted that all the artwork and the murals throughout the store were done by employees. “The murals pay tribute to local landmarks and the dynamic spirit of the neighborhood,” she said. Trader Joe’s was founded in 1958 in the Los Angeles area and has expanded from one store to 482 located across 41 states and Washington, D.C. There are 10 Trader Joe’s locations in New York City. The first customer to make a purchase at the new Trader Joe’s was Terry Keller. He said he is proud to have the store in the neighborhood and that it will improve the lives of local residents. A native Lower East Sider, he worked in and later became a partner for many years in Wolsk’s wholesale dried fruit, nuts, candies and chocolates, at 81 Ludlow St., which closed in 2001. He now also lives part time in Miami. He said all the new development on what were formerly parking lots for 50 years is a boon to the area, and that while it has gotten more crowded, he prefers it to the way things were before. “I’ve seen the Lower East Side change so dramatically from the 1960s,” Keller said. “I’m very proud of my neighborhood — then and much more today. Life on the L.E.S. is becoming so easy. Especially for older folks having gotten their co-ops many years ago, New York City life is not really very expensive. I now even have my local Equinox gym. L.E.S. is the best.” TheVillager.com


Nixon: Please DON’T vote for me vs. Glick! BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

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illage District Leader Arthur Schwartz may think he’s playing “Mr. Big” by saying he’s going to campaign for Cynthia Nixon for Assembly versus Deborah Glick — even though Nixon’s campaign has been saying she is supporting Glick. But last Friday, the “Sex and the City” actress, in an exclusive statement to The Villager, pointedly urged voters not to vote for her. “I’m aware that my appearance on the ballot has become a story,” Nixon said. “I would like to clarify the situation. There may be those who want to use my presence on the ballot to confuse or mislead voters. I want to be clear: Please do NOT vote for me, vote for Deborah Glick. Her consistent work on progressive issues is needed in Albany.” The statement was sent to the newspaper by Rebecca Kirszner Katz, of Hilltop Public Solutions, a P.R. spokesperson for Nixon. In the Democratic primary race, Nixon pushed Governor Andrew Cuomo to the left on a range of issues, in what was dubbed the “Cynthia Effect.” Although she lost to him in September, she had already secured the Working Families Party line for the Nov. 6 general election. Not wanting to draw votes away from Cuomo versus Republican candidate Marc Molinaro, Nixon and the W.F.P. had a fallback plan: She would switch to the W.F.P. ballot line for the 66th Assembly District election. She did that earlier this month, and Cuomo — the Democratic nominee — was offered, and took, the W.F.P. line for governor. The only other way Nixon could have gotten off the ballot against Cuomo was to move out of state, die or be convicted of a felony. However, some political observers have said the actress-turned-candidate’s name on the ballot could pose a threat to Glick by dint of her celebrity star power. The state Legislature’s first openly gay member, Glick has represented the Village-based district for 28 years. Called for comment on Nixon’s statement, Glick said, “As we get close to the election, this is when people will pay attention, and I’m very grateful that she has made that position clear. I’m glad that she has been so clear and forceful in her support for me.” Asked if, at this point, she expects Nixon to hold a press conference with her, as had been rumored, Glick said probably not, because their schedules likely won’t allow it. “But she has given us quotes for our mailers and palm cards,” Glick noted. As for Schwartz’s “campaign” for TheVillager.com

PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

C ynthia Nixon, speaking in the Village in May, does not want your vote on Nov. 6.

Nixon, Glick said, “I don’t understand Arthur’s obsession with me. I am not now or in the future going to engage with Arthur. He is obsessed. I find it bizarre.” Told of Glick’s comments, Schwartz responded, “I’m not obsessed with her. Why would I do everything else I do in the world if I were obsessed?” he asked, referring to his community and political activism. Even though Nixon is saying don’t vote for her, Schwartz said it might not matter. “That doesn’t mean people won’t vote for Cynthia,” he said, adding, “and it’s a way of expressing displeasure with Deborah” to vote for Nixon. “We’ll see what happens.” Regarding his campaign methods, Schwartz said, “I will tell people to vote for Cynthia. How I’m going to do that beyond e-mail, I don’t know yet.” He previously said he has an e-mail database of names of 10,000 “prime voters” from when he ran against Glick in the Democratic primary two years ago, before aborting his campaign due to health issues. Jim Fouratt then ran in his place, winning about 20 percent of the vote to Glick’s 80 percent. Asked if he would send out an antiGlick mailer, Schwartz said, “And pay $5,000? Too expensive.” Instead, he said, he might get Legal Aid lawyers to hand out palm cards for Nixon near the polls. He claimed Glick has “bottled up” legislation in Albany that would forgive attorneys’ student loans if they work for Legal Aid. Glick is chairperson of the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee. She did not return a follow-up request for comment on Schwartz’s charge that she is blocking the above bill. October 25, 2018

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October 25, 2018

Laptop struggle A woman let her ex-boyfriend into her apartment at 235 W. 11th St. on Mon., Oct. 15, at 3:25 p.m. and he took her Apple laptop and left, according to police. The woman, 24, followed him and there was a struggle for the computer, which left her with a small cut to her left hand. The woman pointed out the man, 36, to responding officers at the scene. When approached by police, the ex said of the laptop, “I stashed it in the blue bin,” and it was recovered in front of 73 W. 11th St., a couple of blocks east of the apartment, and returned to the woman. Alexander Carapetis was arrested for felony robbery.

Captain’s catch As a senior walked on Seventh Ave. South near Christopher St. on Mon., Oct. 15, at 3:15 p.m., another guy stepped in front of him and demanded money. The younger man grabbed the victim, 68, by the coat and prevented him from walking away, police said. A captain from the Sixth Precinct was canvassing the area for a suspect in a robbery that had occurred down the street minutes before, and spotted the incident. The would-be robber fit the description from the earlier crime. When the suspect was approached to be handcuffed, he flailed his arms and resisted. Sean Ragland, 33, was arrested for attempted felony robbery.

PHOTOS COURTESY N.Y.P.D.

This guy’s burglar y M.O. is simply smashing, according to police.

Bad guest A man had a friend over to his apartment at 110 Bedford St. on Tues., Oct. 16, around 6:15 p.m., when an argument broke out, according to a police report. The host, 62, said he was then attacked by his visitor, 46, as he was lying on his bed. The attacker punched him several times in the head and face with his fist, and clubbed him with a concrete statue, according to cops. The victim said he was held down on the bed for about 10 minutes, and also held in a chokehold. He suffered a cut lip but said he did not lose consciousness, and refused medical treatment at the scene. Andrew Blint was arrested for felony assault.

Laser attack on cop At 8:15 p.m. on Sat., Oct. 20, at the corner of Hudson and Christopher Sts., a uniformed officer in a police car noticed a man carrying a green laser pointer, which the guy then shone right at the officer’s face through the car’s driver’s-side window, police said. Upon a search, the suspect was found in possession of two credit cards not belonging to him. The laser pointer was recovered. Further investigation revealed two active

Fri., Sept. 28, around 2:40 a.m., he used a rock to shatter the side door at the Blue and Cream fashion boutique, at 11 E. First St., and entered the location. Once inside, he stole numerous articles of clothing and $140 in cash. On Mon., Oct. 8, just before 3 a.m., he reportedly struck again at the same store, but this time used a brick to break the front glass door and gain entry. He removed five pairs of sneakers and $500 cash. Police said that on Wed., Oct. 10, just before midnight, the same perp used a brick to shatter the glass front door at The Mobile Spa, at 89A E. Houston St., near Bowery, making off with 10 headphones and six cell-phone cases. On Sat., Oct. 13, the same suspect allegedly smashed the rear glass door of Timbuk2, at 325 Lafayette St., around 3 a.m., stealing $300 in cash. Police said he returned to The Mobile Spa on Mon., Oct. 15, at 1 a.m., using an unknown object to break the front glass door and enter the place. He stole $5,000 in cash, an electric bike, 10 cell phones, 40 headphones, 16 speakers, 15 portable chargers, 10 selfie sticks and 48 cell phone cases. Topping off his “simply smashing” spree, on Sat., Oct. 20, around 6:30 a.m., with a rock the same man broke the rear glass door of Pressed Juice, at 329 Lafayette St. Once inside, he swiped $400 in cash, a cash drawer and an Apple iPad. The individual is described as both lightand dark-skinned, and in one incident wore an olive-colored vest. 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 on the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, on Twitter at @NYPDTips or by texting to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.

L train purse swipe

A man exiting the station with a bag he allegedly stole from a woman on the L train at Six th Ave.

warrants for the man. Raheem Allen, 26, was arrested for misdemeanor menacing.

Rockin’ robber A burglar has been hitting Downtown shops during late-night hours over the past two months — not just robbing them, but “rocking” them, as in breaking their windows with rocks and bricks. In the first incident, police said that on

As an L train was entering the station at 14th St. and Sixth Ave., on Mon., Oct. 8, about 12:25 p.m., a man approached a 23-year-old woman and forcibly took her purse. He exited the train and the victim gave chase. But as the woman tried to get her purse back, he punched her in the face one time, causing her to release her grasp on the bag, then fled out of the station. The victim was uninjured and refused medical attention at the scene. The purse contained roughly $60. The suspect is described as black, in his 20s or 30s, 6 feet tall and 180 pounds, and last seen wearing all dark clothing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers.

Gabriel Herman and Lincoln Anderson TheVillager.com


Village Independent Democrats Voter Guide Tuesday, November 6, 2018 GENERAL ELECTION Polls open 6am-9pm You may take this card into the polls with you.

Governor/Lieutenant Governor

Andrew Cuomo/Kathy Hochul State Comptroller

Thomas DiNapoli Attorney General PHOTOS BY BOB KRASNER

Ada Nieves with two of her six Chihuahuas, Manhattan, left, and Amaretto, visited by a French bulldog.

Garrett Rosso is handing over the leashes...er, the reins...for the East Village’s Halloween Dog Parade to Ada Nieves this year.

Letitia James United States Senator

Kirsten Gillibrand Congress - 10th CD

Dogs will have their day in E. River Park BY BOB KR ASNER

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orget what you’ve heard about the Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade being cancelled — it’s happening. It’s just not happening in Tompkins Square Park. The 28th annual furry fest of four-legged cuteness and two-legged creativity will be held on Sun., Oct. 28, at the East River Park amphitheater, thanks to dog lover Ada Nieves and some indispensable allies. Reports of the event’s demise surfaced in August, when Garret Rosso, the event’s organizer, declined to take responsibility for the insurance that the city was forcing him to provide for the day. “It wasn’t the cost of the policy,” he explained. “I’m not putting my name on the policy.” Although the Tompkins Dog Run is on city land, Rosso and his team of volunteers are responsible for its upkeep, which is where the money raised by the sponsorship of the dog parade goes. Understandably, Rosso was unwilling to put himself down as the responsible party. “The city Parks Department should be underwriting this,” he stated. Not surprisingly, dog lovers were upset — but they were also motivated. Queens resident Therese Moriarty, who has been attending the parade TheVillager.com

with her dog Hugo since 2015, set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the insurance and fees. Ada Nieves, a mom to six Chihuahuas and a former co-host of the pageant, became its organizer. Then, ESPN donated $10,000 and a host, their own Katie Nolan — who seriously loves seeing dogs in costumes. The insurance issue was handled by the Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) tenant-advocacy organization. City Councilmember Carlina Rivera stepped in to help coordinate the various groups with the city. But all of their efforts came in a little too late to keep the festivities in Tompkins. According to Nieves, the renovation in Tompkins’s southeast corner complicated issues with safety and crowd flow, making the planning trickier. The Parks Department offered one and only one option: the East River Park amphitheater on Oct. 28, from noon to 3 p.m. Nieves is very much looking forward to the day, but said since “mommy is working,” she’s leaving the babies at home. Her aforementioned companions — Manhattan, Amaretto, Vanilla, Tabasco, Mojito and Muffin — will just have to hear about it when she gets back. As for Rosso, Nieves said, “Garrett is my main man. He is helping me with details and guiding me. This year he can relax and enjoy the event.”

Jerrold Nadler* Congress-12thCD

Carolyn Maloney* State Senator-27thCD

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Ballot Proposals Campaign Finance: Vote YES Civic Engagement: Vote NO Community Boards: Vote NO FOR VOTING INFORMATION, visit www.vote.nyc.ny.us or call 866-868-3692. ee saple ballot or nd the poll site nearest you at www.nyc.pollsitelocator.com Village Independent Democrats 26 Perry Street, New York, NY 10014 rik oler, President  een er er, istrict eader October 25, 2018

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Business Survival Bill finally gets its hearing SBJSA continued from p. 1

“stifle” economic activity and deprive property owners of their rights. REBNY, among others, is expected to sue if the Council passes the bill and it is not vetoed by de Blasio. Former Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger was on hand to testify in support of the legislation, which she originally introduced when she was an Upper West Side city councilmember. Advocates for the bill in the audience frequently would silently flutter their hands over their heads in support of statements backing the bill or small merchants. Meanwhile, about 50 representatives of business improvement districts a.k.a. BIDs and others against the bill sat in the audience wearing blue baseball caps sporting the slogan “Vote No on Commercial Rent Control” on their fronts. The group also included commercial real estate brokers and representatives of residential co-ops and condos. The S.B.J.S.A. has languished in the City Council for three decades. The measure would address what advocates say is the biggest hurdle facing momand-pop shops — the lease-renewal process. When leases expire, landlords, especially in gentrified Manhattan, typically jack up the rents to levels that current tenants can no longer afford. However, for a merchant with an expiring lease, the S.B.J.S.A. would mandate mediation with the landlord and then, if needed, binding arbitration to reach agreement on a 10-year lease renewal. Shortly after being elected the Council’s speaker earlier this year, Johnson pledged that he would hold a hearing on the long-snubbed bill. Yet, at the same time, he warned that the S.B.J.S.A. was “not a silver bullet,” in his opinion, and that an array of other strategies would also be needed to help small businesses survive. Despite suffering from a bad chest cold — that sometimes saw him loudly coughing on the dais — Johnson sat through about four-and-a-half hours of Monday’s hearing, which was chaired by Mark Gjonaj, head of the Council’s Small Business Committee. “When a longtime business is shuttered, we lose a piece of New York,” Johnson said. Small businesses help make New York more livable in many ways, he noted, from providing essential services, like shoe repairs, to holding packages and mail for residential neighbors. “I don’t have a doorman,” Johnson said. “I don’t need one. I have a deli right around my corner at 15th St. and Seventh Ave.” At the same time, he said, “Advocates aren’t going to like this — I don’t think this bill is a perfect bill.” He and other councilmembers also

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October 25, 2018

PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY

David Eisenbach, of Friends of S.B.J.S. A ., led a rally in suppor t of passing the bill.

Sevent y-five business improvement districts, or BIDs, across the city oppose the bill. Their members were among a group of about 50 people wearing blue “No Commercial Rent Control” caps at the hearing.

Former Borough President Ruth Messinger introduced the first version of the S.B.J.S. A . around 30 years ago when she was a city councilmember.

John Banks, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, said that the S.B.J.S. A . would “stifle” economic activit y.

warned of potential “unintended consequences” of the S.B.J.S.A. Gregg Bishop, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Small Business Services, made it clear that the de Blasio administration has issues with the S.B.J.S.A. Bishop said that because landlords often have more resources than their tenants, the arbitration process would not be fair. He also wondered if New York would have “enough arbitrators” to handle all the lease-renewal cases. But Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, in his testimony later on, said the situation already is unfair toward the tenants and could not possibly be worsened by the S.B.J.S.A. State Senator Brad Hoylman held out his report, “Bleaker on Bleecker,” which detailed the crisis of empty storefronts on the famed Village strip. Johnson and others took issue with the fact that the bill would cover all commercial tenants in New York City — including not just ground-floor storefronts, but upper floors occupied by financial firms and white-shoe law firms. As one speaker put it, “shopping malls” would even be covered by the S.B.J.S.A. At the same time, Johnson repeatedly grilled Bishop on what the city plans to do about the problem of merchants’ rents “doubling, tripling, quadrupling and quintupling.” He repeatedly brought up the example of Tortilla Flats, the long-running and beloved far West Village bar and restaurant, that sadly is closing on Sat., Oct. 27, due to high rent. “It just came out in the last two days that they are closing,” Johnson said. “Clayworks pottery was forced out of its spot in the East Village after 44 years,” he said, referring to another store that closed a year ago due to an unaffordable rent. Bishop didn’t have any ready answers on dealing with escalating rents. The S.B.S. commissioner did say that the department is open to the idea of a tax on storefronts that are left vacant too long — an idea endorsed by the mayor — and also of creating a “storefront registry,” to quantify how many empty stores there are around the city. Jessica Lappin, a former Upper East Side councilmember, now president of the Downtown Alliance, said the retail landscape of her Lower Manhattan BID’s district has benefitted from flexibility, but that the S.B.J.S.A. would potentially lock commercial tenants in place for decades. Jessica Walker, president of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, noted that online retail is really hurting bricks-and-mortar stores — currently gobbling up about 10 percent of all purchases — and will only grab more of the market in the years to come. She preSBJSA continued on p. 25 TheVillager.com


Lisa Barnett, 28

Gavin Moseley, 33

Co-Founder, Little Spoon West Village, Manhattan

Founder, Den Hospitality West Village, Manhattan

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Shane Malach, 34

Liz Plank, 31

Director of Content and Brand Entertainment

Journalist East Village, Manhattan

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October 25, 2018

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October 25, 2018

TheVillager.com


Scoopy’s Notebook MORE TO THE STORY: Credit to ace reporter Michael Wilson and The New York Times for a lot of good work in sleuthing out the story behind The Villager’s report last month of an unidentified man found dead in a car parked on E. 12th St. between Avenues A and B at the end of August. But don’t credit the Gray Lady for giving The Villager credit for first reporting it — because they didn’t! Yes, The Times did provide a link in its online version directing back to our coverage, so definitely thanks for that: A few thousand more people came to thevillager.com on Tuesday, as a result. But an attribution in the print version would have been nice — and probably appropriate, since we assume The Villager is where the paper first got wind of the story. The Times even interviewed The Villager’s Bob Krasner — who shot the photo that we ran of responding (finally) police and Medical Examiner personnel doing their investigation at the car — and also used one of his photos in its own article. But apparently the paper’s editors thought otherwise. The Times identified the victim as Geoffrey Corbis, formerly Weglarz, 61, an actor and tech executive from Connecticut. Falling on hard times and out of work, he drove into the city, parked on the street in the East Village, and fatally poisoned himself. While local police initially told The Villager that the

dead man had died of “natural causes” and probably been in the car for only two days, the Times subsequently found out that he had taken his own life and had probably been there about a week. Much of the Times’s report focused on how hard it is to get New York police to track down missing persons here who are from out of town.

COLOR COMMENTARY: Last year, Deborah Glick was one of the few people backing former Giants Coach Ben McAdoo’s decision to had Eli Manning ride the bench and give the team’s backup quarterbacks playing time. Back then, the Village assemblymember, who loves tweeting about football, said Manning was “past his prime.” We spoke to Glick before the Jints’ recent loss to the Falcons, and, well...not surprisingly, her opinion hasn’t changed. “They got rid of McAdoo. McAdoo wanted to get [Patrick] Mahomes — so I’m killing myself. They keep on saying it’s not Eli – but it is Eli. We have two great players and an immobile quarterback.” The Giants can’t get hotshot rookie Q.B. Mahomes at this point. But Asked if the they should try to get Colin Kaepernick or Derek Carr, Glick said, yes, to Kaepernick, then noted he’s out of shape because he hasn’t played in quite a while now. But a new Q.B. is definitely needed! she said.

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October 25, 2018

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Two Bridges towers’ impacts too much, locals say TOWERS continued from p. 1

vote on the megaproject. “There’s a right way to do development and a wrong way, and we firmly believe this is the wrong way,” MyPhuong Chung, chairperson of Community Board 3’s Land Use Committee, said in her testimony. Opponents derided how the towers would block light and air and decrease the per capita open-space ratio in the neighborhood. Others argued — contrary to the developers’ impact statement findings — that sewage overflow would occur if the towers’ 2,775 new units were added to the neighborhood. Myriad groups showed up, including residents, tenant organizers and members of Community Board 3 and a union, Local 46 Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers, whose members slammed the CIM Group and JDS Development for histories working with troubled contractors. Meahwhile, another union, 32BJ SEIU service workers, has repeatedly testified in support of the towers for around 50 jobs the buildings would supply. 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 Starrett Group. The developers have touted the affordable units in the projects as a major community benefit, along with $55 million in transit and open-space improvements they would provide, plus added retail space and some resiliency floodproofing measures. “The three proposed projects will deliver approximately 700 much-needed units of permanently affordable housing, representing 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 joint statement. The nearly 700 affordable apartments would be available to households earning 40, 60 and 120 percent of the area median income, or A.M.I. Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou pointed out in her six-page testimony that the affordable housing portion would be for three-person households making between $37,560 and $112,680 a year. However, the median annual household income for the proposed project area is just above $30,500. The spot is also in a floodplain, which is expected to grow in the coming decades. “Even for the lowest range of affordable options...it would be impossible for many of our families to even be eligible to apply,” Niou stated. “It is critical that the city protect the current stock of affordable housing and secure additional affordable housing units. But the city should also take into consideration what ‘affordability’ truly means.”

10

October 25, 2018

PHOTO BY SYDNEY PEREIRA

At the Oct. 17 Cit y Planning Commission hearing, Two Bridges-area residents protested against the four-tower megaproject slated for their neighborhood.

C.B. 3’s Chung argued for a more extreme affordable units scheme, in which 90 percent of units would range between less than 30 percent of A.M.I. up to 80 percent of A.M.I. Under Chung’s proposal, for a three-person household, those incomes would range from $28,170 to $75,120. SHoP Architects’ Gregg Pasquarelli, whose firm is partnering with JDS Development on the project, referenced several waterfront developments as parallels to the Two Bridges project — including developments in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, 550 Washington St. in Hudson Square, Murray Hill’s American Copper Buildings and Hunter’s Point South in Long Island City. “When all buildings are the same height, it greatly diminishes what is uniquely New York about New York,” he said. “We believe this will create a vibrant, beautiful, equitable and appropriate skyline.” The audience scoffed at this idea, and even Anna Hayes Levin, a City Planning commissioner, said Two Bridges is entirely different from those sites. “The thing that’s different, for the most part, those were industrial areas,” Levin said. “We’re in a different environment than the other ones that you used to argue the appropriateness of the scale here.” Residents and organizers repeatedly criticized the finding of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, or D.E.I.S., that no indirect displacement would occur due to the towers. For Lower East Siders well familiar with how frequent tenant harassment and eviction efforts are, that finding is questionable, tenant organizers said. About 300 eviction notices were filed between 2013 and 2015 in the neighborhood, according to a ProPublica investigation that Chung cited. At least 135 of those were at 82 Rutgers Slip alone,

which is the building that would neighbor JDS Development’s building at 247 Cherry St. That proposed project will cantilever over 80 Rutgers Slip, resulting in residents from up to 19 apartments having to relocate, though it is likely they will remain in other units at 80 Rutgers Slip, and eventually, 10 will relocate into units in the new building. At the Oct. 17 hearing, Trever Holland, an 82 Rutgers Slip tenant leader and a founder of Tenants United Fighting for Lower East Side, or TUFF-LES, admitted he has received at least two eviction notices from his building’s nonprofit owners, Two Bridges Neighborhood Council. The claims that displacement wouldn’t impact the existing community “really began to irk me,” said Holland, who had previously not shared his story to avoid scaring other tenants. “I just decided to say it to get it out there,” he said of his testimony. Two other tenant association leaders also received such notices, Holland said. Victor Papa, president of Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, denied Holland’s charge as “categorically untrue.” The D.E.I.S. finding of no indirect displacement is rooted in a flawed methodology, known as the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) Technical Manual, which excludes rent-stabilized or other types of subsidized apartments from being considered vulnerable to displacement due to major projects, according to opponents of the project, a recent Pratt Center report and even some of the City Planning commissioners. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen plenty of examples in rezonings where the assumed protections of rent-stabilized units...isn’t really borne out by the marketplace,” Levin said. “So there’s good reason to be cautious, but I also understand CEQR says what CEQR says.” That methodology, said Larisa Ortiz,

another Planning commissioner, also lacks updated ways of measuring transportation impacts, which the D.E.I.S. found minimal. Developers said in July that transportation mitigations would include signal-timing change, restriping lanes and widening crosswalks at up to 10 intersections. Ortiz argued that transportation alternatives like Citi Bike and for-hire cab services should be considered when evaluating transportation impacts. “This morning, at 10:51, I went online to see how many Citi Bikes were available within a half-mile radius of the site, and there were zero Citi Bikes available,” Ortiz said. “We do know that the CEQR methodology is flawed in this respect, in that transportation, in particular, has evolved since that methodology was developed.” Anne Locke of AKRF, the firm that conducted the environmental review, admitted, “I think with the new development, there’s more chance there will be Citi Bike stands in this area.” As far as for-hire vehicle apps, Locke said: “Uber and Lyft [have] not made their way into the CEQR manual.” Though some Planning commissioners said the D.E.I.S. methodology is flawed, some feared the projects would be “rubber-stamped,” regardless. “I was happy and surprised [the commissioners] were critical,” Holland said, “but I have to pause there and say, what does that mean over all? “I don’t want this to be the test case for how things should’ve been done,” he said. “I want them to use this particular case, which I think is a very good case, and say, ‘O.K., we’re going to do something about this now.’” Many expect lawsuits to follow the Oct. 17 hearing. But City Planning’s vote — which has not yet been scheduled — will be the final O.K. for now. After an apparent lull in communication between the developers and Community Board 3, the D.E.I.S. was suddenly released in late June, leaving residents who have been fighting the towers scrambling. Under the technical guidelines, the projects are being reviewed as only “minor modifications” to the Two Bridges Large-Scale Residential Development area, or LSRD. This procedure effectively gives City Planning the final vote to approve the plan. To slow the project or at least gain leverage, Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilmember Margaret Chin have filed a text amendment with City Planning to force the plan through the lengthier review process — Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP — which would give the Council a binding vote on it. They filed the amendment in January, but the commission has yet to review it. “I really am horrified that City Planning is allowing a project of this magnitude to proceed without adequate public review,” Brewer said. TheVillager.com


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Pols to Blaz: ‘Restart dialogue’ on old P.S. 64 BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

F

ollowing The Villager’s report of Mayor de Blasio saying the city is having difficulty reacquiring an East Village school building because its owner is being “exceedingly uncooperative,” local politicians, in turn, recently wrote de Blasio, saying they want to “restart the dialogue” with him to help return the building to community use. At a Lower East Side town hall meeting in October 2017, as the mayor was running for re-election, in a stunning announcement, he declared that the city was “interested in reacquiring” the building. “Decisions made a long time ago were a mistake,” he told the audience at the packed meeting, which greeted the news with ecstatic applause. “To place that building in the hands of a private owner was a failed mistake. So I’m announcing tonight, the city’s interest in reacquiring that building. We are ready to right the wrongs of the past and will work with Councilmember [Rosie] Mendez and her successor to get that done.” Yet, while the mayor says he has been unable to negotiate with the building’s owner, Gregg Singer, local politicians, for their part, say they have been unable to have substantial discussions about the issue with the mayor, either. As a result, jointly writing to de Blasio on Oct. 9 and saying they want to help in the effort were current City Councilmember Carlina Rivera, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, state Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Harvey Epstein, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. “We are writing to follow up again on your remarks regarding 605 E. Ninth St., former home to CHARAS/El Bohio,” the pols wrote. “During the Council District 2 Town Hall on October 12, 2017, you publicly stated that your office would explore ways to reacquire the building. “One year later, residents of the East Village and Lower East Side continue to express their enthusiasm at this change of heart after previous mayors let this community asset sit idle and in disrepair. Your acknowledgment of the issues with the sale at auction of this property 20 years ago to private developers has given hope to the many who wish to see this building return to true community use under the city’s auspices. “We also want to acknowledge recent comments made to the press regarding challenges with working with the developer,” the politicians’ letter continued. “Since our last substantive exchange on the topic with your office was back in February 2018, we are ready to restart the dialogue and move forward with you to close this divide and make this a reality! “We look forward to discussing next steps with your office soon.” This past August, when de Blasio was hosting a media roundtable in Brooklyn, The Villager asked him where things stood with reacquiring the building from Singer. De Blasio answered by saying the developer “has been exceedingly uncooperative,” adding, “We’ve tried to have a productive conversation about purchase. We’ve gotten nowhere so far. We’re not giving up. We’re working very closely with the councilmember, Carlina Rivera. I’m very frustrated with that owner.” Asked then by The Villager if the city would use eminent domain to force Singer to sell, de Blasio responded, “[That’s] certainly something I want to know more about, but I had hoped the best solution

12

October 25, 2018

PHOTO BY ROBERTO J. MERCADO

In July, politicians and activists gathered outside the old P.S. 64, urging the mayor to follow through on his pledge to reacquire the building, from left, CHAR A S’s Chino Garcia, G.V.S.H.P.’s Andrew Berman (hidden from view), Councilmember Carlina Rivera, activist Ayo Harrington, A ssemblymember Har vey Epstein, Borough President Gale Brewer, former Councilmember Rosie Mendez and District Leader Anthony Feliciano. At right is a puppet head of Armando Perez, CHAR A S’s late cultural director.

here would be a direct purchase. That’s not off the table. It’s just we’re just not getting any cooperation so far.” Estimates a few years ago pegged the fair-market purchase price for the building at around $40 million. Singer bought 605 E. Ninth St. at a rock-bottom bargain price — just $3.2 million — at an auction of city-owned properties in 1998. Three years later, he evicted Latino-led activist group CHARAS from the building, which it had run as the El Bohio community and cultural center for 23 years. But two decades after Singer bought the property, just east of Tompkins Square Park, it continues to sit vacant as the developer’s sundry schemes to redevelop it as a for-profit university dormitory have all failed. Some of Singer’s earlier plans called for building a high-rise dormitory tower there and totally or partially demolishing the historic building. Shocking Singer, the city landmarked the old school in 2006, after which he has instead focused on trying to renovate it for reuse. However, a stop-work order has been in effect since August 2015 as the city continues to question the legality of Singer’s dorm plans. Then, in January of this year, his frustration apparently boiling over, Singer sued de Blasio, the Department of Buildings, former City Councilmember Mendez, current Councilmember Rivera, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and Andrew Berman, its executive director, hedge-funder / East Village Community Coalition activist Aaron Sosnick and “John and Jane Doe 1 — 100, whose identities are unknown at present,” claiming a wide-ranging conspiracy to keep him from redeveloping the property. This July, local politicians and activists gathered outside the former El Bohio — “the hut” in Puerto Rico’s indigenous Taino language — to mark the 20th anniversary of the building’s sale, and also to urge the mayor to follow through on his pledge to get the building back. At the rally, Rivera stated that de Blasio “hasn’t always been a partner on community projects.” Asked afterward to elaborate on what she meant about the mayor, she said, “We haven’t had good negotiations

on the Tech Hub project. I haven’t heard about CHARAS. And I haven’t had a substantial conversation on the [East Side] coastal resiliency project.” (Rivera, of course, would go on to vote to approve the E. 14th St. Tech Hub project, although without the sweeping neighborhood protections called for by G.V.S.H.P.) Meanwhile, for his part, Singer says it’s completely the opposite of what the mayor is saying: that he, in fact, has reached out to de Blasio, but that the mayor has been stonewalling him. Following The Villager’s report of de Blasio calling Singer “exceedingly uncooperative,” Gotham Government Communications and Relations, a P.R. firm representing Singer, shared with the newspaper various correspondence that Singer and his proxies have sent to the mayor in the past couple of years about the old P.S. 64. Among these is a copy of a Sept. 2017 letter — marked “hand delivered” — from Singer begging the mayor for a permit so he can start renovating the old P.S. 64 building again. Singer cites a petition with an alleged 1,500 signatures in support for the project when it included dormitory space for Adelphi University. In his letter, Singer also promises to respect the property’s deed restriction for communityfacility use, specifically contrasting this with another former Lower East Side school building, Rivington House, where developers succeeded in stripping off a similar deed restriction — in a major scandal for the de Blasio administration. Adelphi, however, has since dropped out of the 605 E. Ninth St. project. Also included in the documents shared with The Villager are ones showing that Gotham founding partner Bradley Gerstman this past May pitched yet another plan for the building to City Hall: to turn it into something called the National Veterans’ Resource Complex. A digital brochure describes a facility where military veterans would get “vocational and entrepreneurship education.” The City University of New York is listed as a partner in this plan, along with the city’s Department of Veteran Affairs and New York City Health and Hospitals. TheVillager.com


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Clinton bridge access to be cut during L work BY SYDNEY PEREIR A

T

he Department of Transportation plans to bar drivers’ access from Clinton St. to the Williamsburg Bridge entirely during HOV-3 hours — from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. — while the L train is being repaired, city officials recently announced at a Community Board 3 Transportation Committee meeting. The L shutdown would add to the existing traffic chaos at Grand and Clinton Sts., which Lower East Siders have complained about for years. Some 71 percent of drivers on the southbound F.D.R. Drive take the Grand St. exit, then Clinton St. to Delancey St. to reach the Williamsburg Bridge, according to the agency. That totals around 600 cars per hour during peak hours, according to D.O.T. During the 15-month L shutdown, D.O.T. plans to restrict this route to the bridge. Drivers on Clinton St. would instead have access to Delancey St. South. Cars would be diverted to Norfolk and Essex Sts., and there would be high-occupancy-vehicle enforcement on Delancey St., according to the agency. But the bulk of D.O.T.’s long-term traffic fi xes at Grand and Clinton Sts. likely won’t come until after the L train

shutdown and Essex Crossing construction are completed, city reps said. Similar to the agency’s June update to C.B. 3, signage fi xes and traffic signal changes are the majority of what has been completed so far. “What we’re trying to do here is reduce little by little the amount of traffic that’s going up Clinton St.,” Sean Quinn, D.O.T. senior director of bicycle and pedestrian programs, said. Signage has been updated on the southbound F.D.R. Drive to encourage drivers to take the E. Houston St. exit instead of Grand St. — the latter which dumps drivers onto Clinton St. as an access point to the bridge. But online mapping programs continue to guide drivers to take the Grand St. exit, leading them to Clinton St. Quinn admitted physical changes will be needed, too. The department plans to add vertical, flexible poles to separate through and left-turn lanes on Grand St. approaching Clinton — aiming to prevent non-turning lanes from turning left. It also plans to add a protected left-turn lane signal from southbound Essex St. onto Broome St. this month. This fall, D.O.T. is expected to ban left turns onto Clinton St. from Madison St. and E. Broadway during evening peak hours.

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Bike lanes being rolled out on 12th and 13th Sts. LANES continued from p. 1

the city’s “alternative service plan” for transportation in the L train’s absence. Other parts of the plan include adding four bus routes that will shuttle straphangers across the Williamsburg Bridge and to Downtown subway stops, a scheme to turn 14th St. into a “busway” from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, and ferries connecting Williamsburg to Stuyvesant Town. During the L shutdown, the M.T.A. would repair the line’s Canarsie Tunnel tubes under the East River, which were flooded with corrosive salt water during Hurricane Sandy. So far, some of the white striping for the new bike lanes — as well as for a wide buffer area next to them — has been painted on some blocks. A small section of the 12th St. bike lane had been painted green as of Saturday evening. None of the flexible plastic bollards, which will separate the bike lanes from the buffer areas, have been installed yet. Fire trucks and emergency vehicles will be able to drive over these posts, if needed, to access the curb. Earlier this month, Village attorney Arthur Schwartz failed to get a courtmandated temporary restraining order, or T.R.O., to stop the installation of the bike lanes, as well as to stop the disruptive work at the First Ave. L station,

16

October 25, 2018

PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

At some points, the new bike lanes on 12th St. veer in and out, based on the street’s changing width. which is currently having entrances put in at Avenue A and readied to be the primary staging area for the demolition and construction work on the tunnel. On Oct. 2, Scott Gastel, a Transportation spokesperson, said, “D.O.T. is grateful for the judge’s decision [not to enforce a T.R.O]. We look forward to continuing to work with the M.T.A., local communities, stakeholders and officials to closely coordinate our efforts for next year’s 2019 [L train] closure.” Representing the ad hoc 14th St. Coalition — a broad group of Village and Chelsea residents — and other Downtowners, Schwartz is suing in state

court to stop the L shutdown. He argues the plan has not undergone proper environmental reviews under the State Environmental Quality Review Act. Thanks to strong community opposition and Schwartz’s lawsuit, in late June, D.O.T. scrapped its preferred option for a two-way protected bike lane on 13th St., in favor of one-way protected lanes on 12th and 13th Sts. Last Thursday night, block residents walking their dogs near 12th St. and Sixth Ave. were not happy about the new bike lane taking shape out front. One woman, who gave her name as Nancy, said she had “made a list” of all the vehicles that would be stopping in the buffer zone next to the bike lane, which would make it hard for other cars to pass by, especially since the street narrows — as could be seen by how the bike lanes and buffer-zone lanes angled in toward the middle of the street a bit farther down the block. “Con Ed, Verizon, Time Warner/ Spectrum, UPS, FedEx, Fresh Direct, garbage trucks,” she said, adding, “and now you’ve got car services.” As she spoke, an app-hail cab drove up and parked in front of the building in the not-yet-protected bike lane and the fare unloaded his luggage from its trunk. Soon after, an ambulance from Northwell’s Lenox Health Greenwich Village screamed by, lights flashing.

She said just thinking about the idea of the plastic bollards for the lane coming in was making her anxious. A neighbor, Kevin, worries the bike lane would affect the value of his apartment, which he has on the market. “I’m legitimately concerned it’s going to knock 10 to 15 percent off my sale price,” he said. He also has two young children he sends to classes in ride-share cars and he’s now worried about doing that with a bike lane in front of his building. Meanwhile, Schwartz assured his lawsuit against the project is ongoing. “We’re hiring a traffic study. Those lines are really crazy,” he said of the striping for the bike lanes and how they veer in and out, depending on the streets’ varying widths. On top of that, 12th and 13th Sts. and other surrounding side streets would be slammed by traffic under the “Busway” plan, he warned. “Just wait till they close 14th St. to traffic,” he predicted. The new lanes would certainly be much safer for cyclists than the existing crosstown bike lanes on 9th and 10th Sts. Those have no protection at all, and cyclists using them can easily be doored by parked cars or hit by moving car traffic swerving into the lanes or by cars pulling into or out of parking spots, and there is double-parking.

TheVillager.com


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To The Editor: Re “Aargh! Too much business!” (letter, by Stephen Levine, Sept. 20): Ever since I read the letter to the editor complaining about your coverage of local businesses in the paper, it — as well as the “editor’s note” response — have continually bothered me long after I recycled the paper. I couldn’t disagree more with both. I felt the editorial response mollified the complainer and I thought his letter was obnoxious. Writing about the local butcher, Albanese Meats and Poultry, generationally continuing despite the onslaught against the mom-and-pop stores of our community, the unique and wonderful Guerin foundry, so beautifully described by Michele Herman, including local obituaries of treasured neighbors — what more could we ask of The Villager, than to chronicle our Village? This native-born Villager has been a subscriber since the ’70s, and as the song says, “Don’t change a hair for me.” Cynthia Crane Story Crane Story is chairperson, Friends of the Jefferson Market Library Bell

They’re paving us over! To The Editor: Re “Fighting for a city for humans — not developers” (news article, Oct. 18): We are literally being run over, built over, paved over, alive. There is no appreciation for the effects of overdevelopment on the humans that live as biological organisms in this city.

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

Don Moder

Time for a new vision

We cover “The Cube”!

To The Editor: Re “Fighting for a city for humans — not developers” (news article, Oct. 18): Beloved mom-and-pop stores closing after rents are doubled; commercial spaces sitting empty for months; freakishly out-of-scale towers mushroom-

ing in low-rise neighborhoods; entire buildings being mass-evicted in the dead of winter; foreign laundered money being parked in luxury condos; and way too many elected officials taking money from the Real Estate Board of New York. This situation of what Jeremiah Moss calls hypergentrification is happening in every borough. So it is gratifying to see neighborhoods standing together in pursuit of a more responsible vision for the city; one that values the hard-working families, small businesses, cultural and retail diversity, historic character and quality of life that have made our communities and our city such a wonderful place to be. David Mulkins Mulkins is president, Bowery Alliance of Neighbors

Throw the bums out! To The Editor: Re “Boro Prez: Community board term limits are a gift to developers” (talking point, by Gale Brewer, Oct. 18): What? In no way whatsoever are term limits a gift for developers! The idea makes no sense and the borough president offers no substantive argument to back up the claim. New York voters want term limits for all their politicians, and that would include the politicos who institutionalize themselves on community boards. Term limits take power away from borough presidents and political clubs and puts that power in the hands of ordinary voters — as would the even better idea of electing community boards. Community boards across the city are packed with people who have been on those boards far too long, rendering them sclerotic and dysfunctional. If we need someone’s institutional memory, they can always serve as nonvoting public members. Lynn Ellsworth Ellsworth is a founding board member, Human-Scale NYC E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 MetroTech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.

EVAN FORSCH

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TheVillager.com


Sad but not surprised at Tortilla Flats closing

NOTEBOOK BY MICHELE HERMAN

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n April, in honor of National Poetry Month, I was named first poet laureate of Tortilla Flats, the Tex-Mex restaurant that has anchored the southeast corner of 12th and Washington Sts. since 1983. My duties have been light: I gave a few readings between rounds of Monday and Tuesday evening bingo. Given how rowdy it can get in there, the audiences were surprisingly welcoming and attentive. I still wear my title proudly. I love the way it perfectly sums up the goofy, irreverent vibe of the place and its staff, under which lies a lot of decency and thoughtfulness. Last Thursday I bumped into Matt Chiasson, the friendly manager and bartender who was so warm to me in April. When he asked if I’d heard the bad news, my stomach sank to the cobblestones. No, but I had a good guess. The restaurant, which occupies the ground floor of an old townhouse owned by the William Gottlieb Real Estate company, is closing its doors at 4 a.m. Sat., Oct. 27, a few days before its current lease runs out. The owners are not saying much beyond the fact that they were unable to reach an agreement

with the landlord for an extension. It’s clear from their shell-shocked reaction that this happened unexpectedly and at the last minute. I was heartsick but not surprised. For years the far West Village has been undergoing a creepy metamorphosis. Take the large building three doors down from the restaurant on Washington St., which has transformed from photo agency to inscrutable super-highend store. It’s called Chrome Hearts — though there’s no sign outside and no chrome or hearts inside. The store specializes in very heavy and expensive rock-star-style jewelry. The merchandise is all in the back, mostly locked behind glass. The vast, lavishly renovated front half of the building, originally a garage, is empty except for a stuffed black-leather brontosaurus as big as a car, with spikes made of gold finials. There’s a bouncer in a dark suit, which seems slightly aspirational given the fact that the store is so often empty. It’s in this climate that my husband and I have alternately consoled and spooked ourselves by saying, while crossing our fingers for good luck, “At least Tortilla Flats is still around.” Jean Bambury and Andy Secular, who have had a happy partnership as co-owners since 1991, are heartsick, too. But they’re also proud that they kept the restaurant up and running and still popular for 35 years, an almost unheard of feat, especially for a

place so much of its kitschy ’80s moment. I stopped in Thursday evening around 9 to learn more, and the joint was so packed with jolly customers that I could hardly move. The owners have plenty of reasons to feel disgusted by the irony of being forced out by a neighborhood revival that they helped create. When we moved to 12th St. in the ’80s, people would often ask if I was afraid to walk home alone at night. I always answered no, because there were restaurants on every corner, with Tortilla Flats the final beacon leading me safely home. Secular and Bambury have plenty of reasons to be angry, too. But they prefer to go out on a high note. “It’s been crushing,” said Secular. “My take is that we’re grateful to the people who’ve supported us for 35 years. We’re grateful for the memories we’ve made and the people we’ve touched. We have never taken for granted that that door would open, and I think that’s why there are so many warm feelings for us.” Bambury added, “The reality is starting to sink in. We’re out of Hornitos [tequila] and won’t be reordering. We’re still trying to make sense of this. Our staff are devastated. The hardest part will be saying goodbye to our wonderful neighbors.” Concerned about the fate of their staff, Bambury has put out a call to other restaurant owners who might be hir-

ing. I spoke to day-shift cook Nelly Dilone, only one of many extremely loyal employees, but maybe the one with the most dramatic story. Tortilla Flats was her first and remains her only employer. Both her parents and her brother have also worked at the restaurant. She began as a dishwasher in 1988 when she was 22, and worked her way up. Growing up in the Dominican Republic the oldest of 12 kids, she learned to cook early on to help her mother out. She looks like a kid herself, but has four kids of her own, her youngest being 9-year-old twins. She is also grandmother of a college student. She readily admitted that it’s hard working in a tiny un-air-conditioned kitchen, but she never wanted to move on. “I didn’t try to look for another job because they were so nice to me,” she said. “It’s like family. It’s like working at my own house. They try to make you feel comfortable. I feel very sad — all my life has been here.” Bambury and Secular don’t have any immediate plans. Now that I am not only the first but the only poet laureate of Tortilla Flats, I would like to follow the lead of these two dedicated local businesspeople who have become dear friends to so many of us, and go out on a high note. But I can’t. I’m feeling too sad and bitter at the unnecessary loss of a neighborhood anchor that practically defined the word “vibrant.”

Park Trust cut public out of private Citi dock plan

TALKING POINT BY TOM FOX

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he Hudson River Park Trust is finally adding the water taxi dock to Pier 25 that the 1998 Hudson River Park Act envisioned. However, it appears that the Trust is ignoring the concerns expressed by local Community Board 1 members, in an apparent rush to allow a corporate entity, Citigroup, to construct and install a dock to support a private shuttle to transport its employees, guests and invitees to and from Jersey City. While everyone appreciates Citi as a good corporate citizen and its contributions to the park, the Trust should not leverage Citi’s good work as a means to bypass appropriate public review and input. C.B. 1 members are questioning the Tribeca dock’s proposed location and the impact the service might have on air quality in the playground and skate TheVillager.com

park adjacent to Pier 25, as well as the increased private use of public property by corporate entities. The Trust started to mobilize construction crews to install the water taxi dock this week, without addressing those concerns and apparently without the review and approval of the Trust’s own board of directors. The capital improvement is more than $200,000 and it would appear as if the Trust is allowing a private corporation to control the use of public park property. The scale of the investment and the type of agreement warrant public review. It appears that no one, not even the Trust’s board, knows the terms of the agreement, and that the Trust’s leadership has again been working behind closed doors on this project, in this case at least since April, when it withdrew the Request for Proposals it issued last December to manage Pier 25’s maritime facilities, including the water taxi dock. Just after the Trust’s R.F.P. for Pier 25 was withdrawn, a permit request to modify a dock in Jersey City for a corporate shuttle to Citi’s New York headquarters for employees, guests and invitees was made to the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection.

The Trust should slow the process down, address the concerns raised by C.B. 1 members, and consider changing the dock’s location from the south side of Pier 25 to its north side, as near the bulkhead as possible. That location would minimize environmental impacts on adjacent recreational facilities, eliminate navigational safety concerns for recreational boaters and provide more direct access for Citi employees. There will always be exhaust, noise and vibrations from docking vessels. The water taxis proposed for use at Pier 25 are small vessels, with low-wake hulls and repowered with state-of-theart low-emission Tier 3 engines. But prevailing winds on the West Side are from the west. They will blow vessel exhaust into the adjacent playground and/or skate park. There are no adjacent recreational facilities, or similar activities, on the pier’s north side. There are 40 moorings for small vessels on the south side of Pier 25. In addition, there’s a town dock for transient recreational vessels and access to the mooring field, as well as a floating restaurant. A new commercial waterborne activity on this side of the pier could create navigational safety issues by in-

creasing the interaction of commercial and recreational vessels. Pier 25 has a playground, skate park and miniature golf course in close proximity — and downwind — from the proposed water taxi docking location. The permit required to build that water taxi dock was initiated almost 20 years ago when there were no adjacent recreational facilities planned for the area. Requesting a modification to place the dock in a more beneficial location, at the same pier, should be relatively simple and would, no doubt, be supported by all the stakeholders. As for the terms of the lease or permit regarding Pier 25, the Trust should make them public, as its bylaws require. All contracts for the general corporate purposes of the Trust in excess of $200,000, or whose term extends for more than one year, must be approved by the Trust’s directors. If the Trust wants to be trusted, it should work in a transparent manner with the community, not just its corporate partners. Fox was first president of the Hudson River Park Conservancy, the Hudson River Park Trust’s predecessor; and former president, New York Water Taxi October 25, 2018

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Fall dance festivals galore Garth Fagan, Balanchine, White Light among highlights

Photo by Gene Schiavone

The Miami City Ballet performs George Balanchine’s “Serenade,” as part of City Center’s Balanchine festival.

BY ELIZABETH ZIMMER American Dance Guild Performance Festival | Oct 25-28 | This venerable organization supports the dance community with an annual festival that honors the lifetime achievement of distinguished choreographers, living and dead. This year’s lineup includes celebrations of Jane Comfort and the late Eleo Pomare, and includes archival footage from Celia Ipiotis’s Eye on Dance program, as well as performances of works by Donald McKayle, Ara Fitzgerald, Tina Croll, Douglas Dunn, Cherylyn Lavagnino, and dozens more. At Ailey Citigroup Theater (405 W. 55th St., corner of Ninth Ave.). Info at americandanceguild.org. White Light Festival | Through Nov. 18 | This festival of arts events with

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a spiritual component continues with remarkable performer/choreographer Akram Khan offering his final solo performance piece, “XENOS,” combining classical Indian kathak with his unique contemporary dance style (Oct. 31-Nov. 1). Next, in the world premiere of “Framing Time,” Cesc Gelabert dances to Morton Feldman’s “Triadic Memories,” performed on piano by Pedja Muzijevic (Nov. 1 & 2). The final dance offering is “Blak Whyte Gray,” an award-winning East London performance work from Boy Blue, whose members include Michael “Mikey J” Asante and Kenrick “H2O” Sandy (Nov. 16-17). Various venues and times; info at whitelightfestival. org, 212-721-6500. Darrah Carr Dance | Oct. 26-27 |

The wonderful Irish dancer and her 20-year-old troupe collaborate with musical duo Dana Lyn and Kyle Sanna on “Dancing the Great Arc,” a celebration of the fiddler and guitarist’s second album that’s inspired by the need to protect our ecosystem and endangered species. Carr’s style fuses Irish step with contemporary modern dance styles; her dancers make percussive music themselves. At the Irish Arts Center (553 W. 51st St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). Info at irishartscenter.org and 866-811-4111. Garth Fagan Dance | Oct. 30-Nov. 4 | This Rochester-based ensemble, directed by the award-winning choreographer of “The Lion King,” returns to the Joyce with two world premieres, one by Fagan himself celebrating the

life of abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, and the other, by longtime company veteran Norwood Pennewell, called Distant Kin. Three different programs display 35 years of the troupe’s work. At The Joyce Theater (175 Eighth Ave., at W. 19th St.). Info at joyce.org and 212-242-0800. Balanchine: The City Center Years | Oct. 31-Nov. 4 | This fall marks the 70th anniversary of the official founding of the New York City Ballet, and the start of its 16-year residency as the company in residence at this beautiful Midtown hall. Eight companies from around the world perform George Balanchine’s choreography from the early years, accompanied by the New York City Ballet Orchestra: Look for ABT (American Ballet Theatre), the TheVillager.com


Getting old is for great stars Elaine May’s matriarch played with verve, class, powerful feeling BY ELIZABETH ZIMMER It’s been 57 years since Elaine May and her comedy partner, Mike Nichols, catapulted to stardom from the stage of Broadway’s John Golden Theatre. Since then, she’s become a showbiz legend: writing, directing, and starring in movies like “A New Leaf,” “The Heartbreak Kid,” “Ishtar,” and “The Birdcage,” while punching up the writing for dozens of others. Now, surrounded by powerhouse performers, May has returned to the Golden stage, in “The Waverly Gallery,” a 1999 play by Kenneth Lonergan. Young director Lila Neugebauer, who guides this revival, assembled an A-list cast that should buoy the production through its three-month run. The night I went, the audience jumped to its feet as the lights came down, celebrating May and her colleagues. Set in the late 1980s, the play tracks the decline of Gladys Green, the feisty, elegant woman played by May, as she succumbs to the ravages of Alzheimer’s. Once a lawyer, now the owner of a sleepy Greenwich Village art gallery, she lives alone in a nearby apartment, with her grandson Dan in the flat next door (Lucas Hedges, who carries the bulk of the narrative load). Uptown, her daughter Ellen (Joan Allen), a shrink, shares

© Brigitte Lacombe

Lucas Hedges and Elaine May in “The Waverly Gallery.”

a mid-century modern apartment with her second husband, Howard, played with affable humor by the remarkable actor/director David Cromer. They all talk at once, loudly, because Gladys is also losing her hearing. In the hubbub, Gladys tries to attend to the family dog, and seems to exist in a universe of emotion while all the others live mainly in their heads. Don, a clueless young painter from Massachusetts (Michael Cera), wanders

into the gallery carrying a bunch of pictures, and Gladys, who’s beginning to lose it, offers to represent him and to let him sleep in the back; he soon becomes part of the family. His paintings are actually terrific (they look like the work of Philip Pearlstein), but they rarely sell. May is luminous as Gladys, keeping up conversations even as she loses the thread and repeats herself. She treasures her independence, and resents the

aides hired to administer her medications. Ellen and Howard are exhausted, caught between the demands of their psychiatric practices and their fears for Gladys’ future. Dan finds her banging on his door at all hours, and he’s losing sleep. None of the options for her future care appeal to any of them. This all sounds grim, and it is — yet the gifted artists keep our spirits up. David Zinn’s several sets provide functional ’80s interiors, and Tal Yarden bridges scene shifts with video of the city’s street life. At 86 (and playing older!), Elaine May is still a beauty, shapely in Ann Roth’s costumes, constantly losing her keys. We know that her fate may be in all our futures, which keeps us glued to the action. Lonergan’s writing never flags, and the narrative device of the youngest family member addressing us directly includes us in the conversation. Whether you’ve revered May for decades or have never heard of her, you owe yourself a visit with this American matriarch and her clan. Through Jan. 27, Tues. through Sun. At the John Golden Theatre (252 W. 45th St., btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Visit thewaverlygalleryonbroadway. com for tickets ($48-$149), or call 212239-6200.

Joffrey Ballet, the Mariinsky Ballet, Miami City Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, the Royal Ballet, and the San Francisco Ballet. At New York City Center (131 W. 55th St., btw Sixth & Seventh Aves.). Info at nycitycenter.org and 212-581-1212. Dance Gallery Festival | Nov. 2-4 | This 12-year-old fest mentors emerging choreographers from New York, Texas, and further afield with two Hell’s Kitchen shows. On Sat. night, Cameron McKinney and Manuel Vignoulle are joined by Texans Victoria DeRenzo and Jared Doster and Joshua L. Peugh’s Dark Circles Contemporary Dance. Sun.’s lineup includes New Yorker Vignoulle; Texans Ad Deum Dance Company and Joshua Manculich; and, from Taiwan, ChienYing Wang/OcampoWang Dance/ JueDai Contemporary Dance Theatre. At Ailey Citigroup Theater (405 W. 55th St., corner of Ninth Ave.). Info at dancegalleryfestival.com. TheVillager.com

Photo by Erich Camping

Garth Fagan’s dancers performing “Mudan,” to music by Chinese composers: part of Program B, at the Joyce, Oct. 30-Nov. 4. October 25, 2018

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Just Do Art

Courtesy of the artist

Stephen Hall’s “Oh Say Can You See,” from the “Conflict of Interest” exhibition at Westbeth.

BY SCOTT STIFFLER Take one loaded phrase, task six artists with taking it on, and the results will range from politically charged to ecologically aware to totally trippy. Such is the case with the works on display at the upcoming Westbeth Gallery exhibition, “Conflict of Interest.” Provoking their audience to “question what is going on in the world right now and what kind of world are we leaving to future generations,” the aritsts provide insights and answers via their various disciplines, including painting, photography, digital manipulation and installation. The roster of big thinkers and definite doers is as follows: Welshborn, coastal-raised punk rocker, and sculpture tutor Illtyd Barrett; conservationist/naturalist Mozart Dedeaux; Aidan “Let’s skip the nonsense of trying to navigate a narration of my life” Grant; Scotland-born New Yorker and painter Stephen Hall; British-born photographer Steve Joester; builder, filmmaker, and self-proclaimed “man about town”Robert Ross. Samantha Hall curates. You’re uinvited to the opening reception, 6-9pm on Sat., Nov. 3. The exhibition runs from Nov. 3-24, with viewing hours of 1-6pm, Wed.-Sun. At Westbeth Gallery (55 Bethune St., btw. Washington & West Sts.). For info, visit westbethorg.

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Photo by Arthur Cornelius

Trav S.D. (second from right), a frequent contributor to this publication’s arts section, shows he can do theatre, as well as write about it. See for yourself when you see “The Resistible Rise of JR Brinkley.”

“Last night I was on my way home from a Halloween party,” wrote frequent arts contributor Trav S.D., in a recent social media post, “and was at the Mets Stadium [Citi Field] stop on the 7 train. I looked out the window and beheld an unexpected and wondrous sight: a circus tent! Mexico’s Circo Hermanos Vazquez is in town and will be there until November 26, and then, after that, in the Bronx [Terminal Market, Harlem

River North lot], through December 16. This looks very much like my cup of tea and is not far from my house so I’m bound to check it out.” Knowing a good story when we see the seeds of it, we vowed to secure tickets for Trav, whose review you’ll read in the coming weeks. Meantime, for tickets of your own, visit circovazquez.com, send an email to info@circovazquez.com, or call 877-829-7839.

One wonders where Trav found the time to socialize, what with his lead role in a Sun., Oct. 28, 6:45pm play we’ve got tickets to — the last performance, in fact, as it’s part of FringeNYC, the sprawling performance festival that’s been playing throughout the month of October. Shameless plug: Mr. S.D.’s starring role is in Untitled Theater Company No. 61’s “The Resistible Rise of JR Brinkley.” Written and directed by Edward Einhorn, it’s the tale of a 1920s con man who gets rich, has success as a star of modern media, and becomes a successful elected. A flimflammer in a position of political power? Bless these creative types and their outlandish ideas! Elsewhere during FringeNYC’s waning days, these shows caught our eye: Brooklyn’s own Kal Mansoor writes, performs, and produces “A Brief History of Colonization,” which has its final show at 5:15pm on Sat., Oct. 27. Rick Allen Wilson directs this tale of a British-Indian comedian who “attempts to make a Hollywood movie about India’s colonial past and is forced to revisit his own.” There are Fri.-Sun. shows, Oct. 26-28, for “Ants,” a wordless performance piece combining clowning, animation, dance, and more, in order to “conduct a dialogue with cultural icons and the world of ants.” For tickets to these shows and info on many, many more, visit fringenyc.org. TheVillager.com


Halloween has a ‘Big Top’ queen in its r ing Bianca Del Rio untucks some ‘saucy’ circus memories BY SCOTT STIFFLER Once upon a time, when traveling spectacles blew into town offering trapeze acts, games of chance, and all manner of exotic marvels, children dreamed of running away and joining the circus. Now, the circus of old is a species as endangered as the trained animal acts whose presence inside sawdust-strewn tents has fallen out of vogue — and children of a certain sass and sensitivity, eyes glued to the screen, find a new conduit for their dreams: a clown whose convention-flaunting fashion choices, oversized personality, and garish makeup makes them think, “I’m going to be a drag queen.” “Don’t do it, it’s a trap,” warned Bianca Del Rio, winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 6, and a razor-sharp insult comic, whose checkered past with the circus might well inform the cutting barbs she’ll lob at audiences come Halloween night. That’s when Del Rio serves as ringmaster for “Halloween: Under the Big Top” — a Lincoln Center event that takes “a multitude of spooky and deadly circus acts” courtesy of the Big Apple Circus, and splices it with Del Rio’s charmingly caustic performance aesthetic. Add to all of this the talents of fellow “Drag Race” competitors Violet Chachki, who’ll be doing aerial work, and Kameron Michaels — “who’s going to act like a drag queen,” Del Rio deadpanned, adding, “We’re all friends. And the great thing is, they all know me and I know them. We’re aware of our own issues.” All told, then, “It should be a great, great night,” your ringmaster confidently speculated. “When you marry the circus and drag queens, it’s magic!” And if it’s not? “They hired me,” she noted. “I said, ‘Yes, the money’s good.’ So I’m showing up.” As for what to expect, Del Rio said, of Halloween, “We all have high expectations. But I thought, ‘What a great thing to have.’ Everybody’s in a room, and there’s a circus theme… I mean, any time there’s an audience, I can deal with it.” And deal with it she can, whether there are four people in the house (as was often the case during those early years), throngs packing Lincoln Center, or, as this reporter witnessed, at Sept. 1’s Wigstock 2.HO — the reboot of stalwart NYC queen Lady Bunny’s festive drag gathering, which enjoyed an infamously raucous 1985-2001 run. There, on Pier 17, motormouthed Del Rio displayed her seasoned improv chops in a breathlessly paced, relentlessly cruel, nearly 20-minute set, during which she plucked a trio of volunteers from the crowd, then zinged them TheVillager.com

Courtesy of thebiancadelrio.com

Courtesy of Voss Events

Bianca Del Rio brings scary-good comedy skills to her role as ringmaster for “Halloween: Under the Big Top.”

Kameron Michaels does some heavy lifting, as a special guest performer at the circus-themed Halloween show.

mercilessly while presiding over a lip synch dance-off contest “voted on” by the audience — but ultimately determined by Del Rio herself, heiress apparent to Don Rickles, with a dash of Joan Rivers, and, one suspects, Satan. From whence other than a sharp-tongued, fallen angel could her uncanny powers of observation and desecration spring forth? Perhaps some decades-old, pivotal event that unfolded under the big top? “Obviously I don’t hate clowns,” Del Rio asserted, somewhat defensively, “because I’ve become one… But the circus is a weird situation for me, because I went to the circus when I was a child,” she recalled, of a trip with her siblings, “and I was quite excited by this little flashlight thing that had all of these antennas hanging from it. And I wanted one very badly, and my mother said, ‘We’ll buy you one on the way out.’ ” Sadly, however, mom had a couple of drinks, fell, and was taken away in an ambulance. “I was very upset,” a surprisingly vulnerable Del Rio admitted. “Not because she was leaving, but because I didn’t get my little flashlight… So the circus has always pissed me off.” But then, just as quickly as a “Drag Race” challenge can turn sour when a queen takes to the runway in footgear other than high heels, Del Rio put a happy coda on her tale of childhood trauma, by noting that, at age 35, a friend “finally gave me one of those flashlights, and I feel

whole. It fixed me [my problem with the circus].” Is that all it took, we wondered?

“Well, yeah,” she asserted, “and also, I get quite excited by the smell of elephant s**t, because I’m friends with Lady Bunny. So it’s all come full circle. Full circle.” Speaking of circular patterns, check out our website in the coming weeks for more of our interview with Bianca Del Rio, including upcoming projects she can’t talk about now (“None of it’s porn…”), the lasting impact of her time on “Drag Race” (a “golden ticket”), and her advice to budding queens — including, “You have to be a joke. You’re a man in wig. You’re not curing cancer. My struggle? Who cares? Find what you do, and own it, and live it.” “Halloween: Under the Big Top” starts at 8pm on Wed., Oct. 31, at Lincoln Center. To get your ticket and see this profane performer land more punchlines than there are kernels in a tub of supersized circus popcorn, visit vossevents. com/events/halloween-under-the-bigtop. Tickets range from $49 to $159. VIP options include a private mingle with the queens and access to the private VIP tent. The Big Apple Circus plays at Lincoln Center through Jan. 27. For more info, visit bigapplecircus.com.

Village Halloween Costume Ball CABARET ALL EVENING! Phoebe Legere, Penny Arcade, Allesandra Belloni, Ariah, Arthur Abrams, Ben Harburg & Friends, Bina Sharif, Carol Tandava, Claude Solnik, Dawoud Kringle, Constellation Moving Co., Dr. Sue Sss Witch, Elizabeth Ruf, Ellen Steier, Eve Packer, Fairy Tale Marionettes, Fran McGee, George Billeci, Jiggers is King Acoustic, Joe Bendik, John Grimaldi, Justin Halle, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2018 Katherine Adamenko, Kitsch, 3:30PM Outside on East 10th Street Larraine Goodman and her Mad Tappers, (Outside Performances FREE!) Lei Zhou, Lily Ali Oshatz, Lissa Moira & 7:30PM Inside - Tickets $20 Michael Maricondi, Lorcan Otway, Loretta Auditorium, Mary Tierney, COME TO THE MOST FABULOUS NIGHT OF Matt Angel, Michel Vasquez and YOUR LIFE! Venus, Norman Savitt, Peter Dizzoza, Rhonda Hansome, Richard Weber, ART LILLIARD’s HEAVENLY BIG BAND Richard West and William Warren, MAQUINA MONO Robert Musso, Sam Gutierrez, FIDDLER & the CROSSROADS, Sarah & Scott Lily, Stand Baker, MICHAEL DAVID BAND Tabula Rasa, The Amazing Amy, The Head Peddlers, Wise Guise, COBU & STAR ‘69 The Jack Bennies, The Money Song, Hot Food and Hot Entertainment! Vincent Manus, Von D Dance Collective, Come See and Be seen And Wycherly Sisters, Rayna Brown, Jordyn Prince Celebrate the Night of Nights!!! & Caroline Snape. COSTUMES OR FORMAL WEAR A MUST! See our 2-Story, 4-Theater Cultural Center CATHARSIS YOUR GHOSTS! transformed by Downtown’s nest artist, TOAST YOUR LOVE LIFE! sculptors and designers! DANCE AWAY YOUR TROUBLES! MYTHIC CREATURES ABOUND!

CELEBRITY JUDGES PHOEBE LEGERE, DAVID WILLINGER, BINA SHARIF, MIGUEL MALDONADO, ROBERT HEIDE, ROMIRO SANDOVAL, ANDREA FULTON, JON JILER, SABURA RASHID, TOM ATTEA, JOHN GILMAN, LORCAN OTWAY STILT DANCERS, JUGGERS, FIRE-EATERS, THEATER, VAUDEVILLE, PLAYLETS,BURLESQUE

Featuring ARTHUR SAINER’S THE RED AND BLACK MASQUE Directed by CRYSTAL FIELD Music by DAVID TICE

Adriano Moraes, Al Waks, Barnaby Ruhe & Gallatin, Elliot Berke, Fran McGee, J. Kathleen White, Judy Sky, Marcus Glitteris, Lola Saenz, Rochelle Pashkin, Scot Terban, Micha Lazare, Richard Miller, Miles Angerson, Shonda Johnson, Monica Worlds, Elijah Martinez & NYU Gallatin School. I - Ching by Phyllis Yampolsky Palm & Tarot Reading by Penny Diora

For Reservations & Info. Call (212) 254 - 1109 / smarttix.com www.theaterforthenewcity.net www.facebook.com/theaterforthnewcity

October 25, 2018

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activity. Vil: 10/04 - 11/08 2018

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TheVillager.com


Small-biz bill hearing SBJSA continued from p. 6

dicted some landlords would respond to the S.B.J.S.A. by simply not renting to small merchants. Similarly, Bishop, of S.B.S., said landlords could just choose not to rent their spaces to anyone if they felt they were being forced to lowball potential rents. Walker said pressing problems that the city should address instead are high commercial rent taxes and property taxes. David Eisenbach, head of Friends of S.B.J.S.A., told the councilmembers he would be O.K. with cutting white-shoe law firms and such out of the bill’s protections, but that other tenants “on the second floor” — like yoga studios and dentists offices — need the bill’s protections. A Columbia professor, Eisenbach is running for public advocate, with the S.B.J.S.A. being one of his main campaign planks. But others who have been advocating for the bill longer — in some cases, for decades — boycotted the hearing, slamming it as “a sham.” Eisenbach led a rally at noon before the hearing, touting the bill. But members of the Small Business Congress held their own rally at 10 a.m., angrily predicting that Johnson and the Small Business Committee would “water down” the bill. In other internecine fighting, members of TakeBackNYC blasted Eisenbach and blogger Jeremiah Moss, of the movement SaveNYC, saying he was not being aggressive enough politically on the issue. At one point, Johnson slammed the boycotters, the annoyance evident in his voice and body language as he huffily scoffed, “Advocates say, ‘No changes

to the bill — none.’” The council speaker asserted that he is sincere in pushing for the legislation. “Today’s hearing is about moving this bill,” Johnson said. “It wouldn’t happen if we weren’t serious about it.” Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, who is “carrying” the bill as its main sponsor, said, “We are here to get that bill across the finish line,” adding, “This is not about commercial rent control.” There was a flurry of hand-waving in the audience. Advocates say the strategy of REBNY and others is to confuse the S.B.J.S.A. with commercial rent control, which would standardize commercial rent increases across the city. As for what happens next, Johnson explained, the bill will now undergo modifications by the Council’s Legal Department. The Villager asked for a time line of what will happen next — such as when the Council might vote on a modified bill — but a City Council spokesperson only responded in general terms. “The Committee on Small Business heard testimony for about eight hours on this complex legislation, with over 120 members of the public signed up to testify,” the statement said. “A wide array of stakeholders gave helpful feedback on many aspects of the legislation, as well as proposing additional approaches to the small business crisis that need to be assessed. Now, the committee will immediately review the testimony and begin its work with advocates and the administration toward legislation that is properly targeted and effective.”

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