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Chelsea VOLUME 11, ISSUE 2


JANUARY 10 - 16, 2019



Governor Cuomo toured one of the L train’s East River tunnels last month with outside engineers to see if there was any way to speed up the tubes’ needed repairs. Last week, he announced an alternative plan.

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Januar y 10, 2019



Huge revers-L: Cuomo scraps L-shutdown plan BY SYDNEY PEREIR A


o long, “L-pocalypse”! In a shocking news that reverberated from Manhattan to Brooklyn, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced last Thursday that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is scrapping its L train shutdown plan. Instead, the M.T.A. will close a single East River tube at a time over nights and weekends. The work is still expected to begin around the end of April. The new scheme could only take up to 20 months — five months more than the previous plan, according to M.T.A. Acting Chairperson Fernando Ferrer. Planned improved subway service on the G, M and 7 lines will remain, Ferrer said. The M.T.A. is “thrilled” with the new plan, Ferrer said. The one-tube-at-a-time closure will allow for trains to run in both directions in the second, open tube. Peak ridership hours will not change, and the existing 15-to-20-minute wait for trains during nights and weekends will remain, according to Ferrer. “It’s innovative, creative and we deem it a sound plan,” Ferrer said. The planned additional ferry service between Williamsburg and Stuyvesant Cove at Stuyvesant Town will likely be scuttled, according to Andy Byford, president of the New York City Transit Authority. While Byford said he will continue to work with the city’s Department of Transportation on additional details, he anticipates high-occupancy vehicle (HOV-3) lanes on the Williamsburg Bridge will now no longer be necessary. Other details under the previous full L-shutdown plan regarding added bike lanes, bus routes, M14 Select Bus Service and the 14th St. “busway” remain unclear. Cuomo’s announcement came just two weeks after he toured the tunnels with engineering experts from Cornell and Columbia universities. The new plan for repairing the L train’s East River tunnels, according to officials, is a better, more innovative design that drastically reduces labor-intensive demolition work. “This is really a unique design, a unique system,” Cuomo said of the revised plan. “It is a totally different way to reconstruct the tunnel. It’s faster. It’s cheaper. It’s better than the way we have been doing it.” The key change of the alternative design is how it deals with cables that have been corroded by saltwater from Hurricane Sandy that are currently embedded in “bench walls” — essentially, cement walkways used by workers to access the tunnel. Under the previous plan, all the two tubes’ bench walls and power and communications cables would have been replaced.

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Under a revised plan announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo last week, weekday ser vice on the L train will continue, with repairs to the line’s t wo East River tubes only done at night and on weekends, and only on one tube at tube, with one tube always remaining in ser vice.

the M.T.A. “That’s an incredibly timeintensive, labor-intensive element that we removed.” While City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said, on the one hand, he was hopeful about the change of plan, he was also “having a tough time” with the “last-minute” announcement lacking a lot of specifics. “If this new plan is as good as advertised,” Johnson said, “then obviously it is fantastic news for the hundreds of thousands of L-train riders who were dreading the shutdown, as well as for those who were worrying about the shutdown’s spillover effects. “That said, I’m having a tough time with this,” the Council speaker said. “For years, the M.T.A. told New Yorkers that a shutdown was unavoidable. Now, at the last minute, we’re presented with a new proposal with no details on cost or a solid time frame. All New Yorkers, including those who uprooted their lives and businesses in anticipation of the shutdown and the workers who rely on the L train during nights and weekends, deserve better.” Councilmember Keith Powers, who represents parts of Stuyvesant Town and Kips Bay, said the city should keep its plans for the M14 Select Bus Service and the Williamsburg-Stuyvesant Cove ferry service. Any plan to reduce inconvenience is welcome, Powers said, but added that the “new recommendations are a swift and sudden change to the L train plan, which now need to be fully evaluated.” “As an everyday L-train rider,” Powers said, “I am hopeful that this will be an improvement in the lives of New Yorkers and look forward to receiving more information in the coming days.” Councilmember Carlina Rivera said M.T.A. officials told her the new plan

‘It’s better than the way we have been doing it.’ Andrew Cuomo

Inspired by other cities — including Hong Kong, London and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia — engineering experts recommended to Cuomo and the M.T.A. to adopt a new design that would instead suspend the cables on the sides of the tunnel within a fireproof material. Under this method, the only cement bench walls that would be removed would be severely weakened ones. Other portions would be bolstered with “fiberreinforced polymer” or, for structurally stable bench walls, left alone. “[I]f we do not need to remove the bench wall and reconstruct the bench wall, we’re not going to do it,” said Mary Boyce, the dean of Columbia University’s engineering school, who was one of the experts that issued the new recommendations to Cuomo and CNW

could possibly reduce noise and construction along E. 14th St. between First Ave. and Avenue B. She said she was “disappointed,” though, that the news came without details or warning. Rivera called on the City Council to hold public hearings this month, and said D.O.T. should continue with its previous plans for additional bike lanes, bus routes and dedicated bus corridors until the public and advocates can fully comment. “But regardless of how the L-train tunnel repair goes,” Rivera added, “our state and city agencies must deeply evaluate how the mishandling of these announcements continues to erode public trust in our most important institutions, and work to redouble their efforts with our communities.” State Senator Brad Hoylman, whose district includes all of Manhattan’s Ltrain stretch, welcomed an alternative without, as he put it, “hundreds of additional dirty diesel buses” that would have resulted from four additional bus routes between Brooklyn and Manhattan under the previous mitigation plan. “It’ll be the job of the new Senate Democratic majority along with our Assembly colleagues to provide sufficient oversight of the M.T.A. and this plan,” Hoylman added. “In addition, we must continue to push for more reliable train and bus service, planned upgrades to our [subway] station and bike infrastructure, and work toward the ultimate goal of reducing car traffic through congestion pricing.” Meanwhile, some transportation advocates kept the focus on reducing congestion, regardless of how the L train is repaired. “However this L train work plays out, we expect Mayor de Blasio and D.O.T. to preserve the new bus and bike infrastructure that has been put forth,” said Joe Cutrufo, a spokesperson for Transportation Alternatives. “Even without a full 15-month L-train shutdown, it’s pretty clear that New York City has a serious congestion problem.” Cutrufo hopes the HOV-3 plan for the Williamsburg Bridge, the new 12th and 13th Sts. protected crosstown bike lanes, a better bus system across the 14th St. corridor, and especially congestion pricing are still prioritized — full L shutdown or not. “Congestion isn’t going away without both congestion pricing and new innovative ways to get people around New York City,” Cutrufo said. Mayor Bill de Blasio would not comment on the details since he had only gotten initial briefings from Cuomo last week. “Anything that avoids disruption, I favor, obviously,” de Blasio said. “And a lot of people in Brooklyn, a lot of people in Manhattan have been really worried about the L-train shutdown.” Januar y 10, 2019


Police Blotter 10TH PRECINCT Nicotine nickers Police said that on Mon., Dec. 31, at 3:25 p.m., two men tried to rob the 7-Eleven at 246 W. 23rd St. The pair of perps entered the place and approached the 24-year-old female store employee. They reportedly produced a can of apparent pepper spray and demanded cash from the register. One of the crooks then went behind the counter and removed cash and two Juul electronic smoking devices. However, when they fled, they didn’t take the cash, just the Juul gear. No pepper spray was expended, and there were no injuries, police said. The nicotine-loving ne’er-do-wells fled on foot westbound on W. 23rd St. The first suspect is described as white or white Hispanic of unknown age. The second is described as black, also of unknown age. 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.

Meat-jacking District A man allegedly lowered his pants and masturbated in front of a 21-yearold woman around 4:40 a.m. on New Year’s Day, according to police. The woman was standing on the northeast corner of Ninth Ave. and W. 15th St. when the stranger exposed himself. The case is closed and no arrests were made, but police reported the case to the Special Victims Unit.

Lyft loser A Lyft driver allegedly dragged a woman, 42, from the back of his car, then fled on Thurs., Jan. 3, around 7:30 p.m. The woman told police she was arguing with the guy about his crummy driving after a trip to the Apple Store. When the two were in front of her home at 401 W. 19th St., the driver allegedly grabbed her arm and hair and pulled her out of the Lyft, saying, “Get out. Get out of my cab,” according to police. The driver fled westbound on W. 14th St. in a black 2015 Toyota Camry, New York State license plate T659452C. The woman was not injured.


Januar y 10, 2019


Police said these vapers stole electronic smoking gear, but not cash, from a 7-Eleven on W. 23rd St.

Eighth and Ninth Aves., police said.

School gang graffiti Police said a slashing that happened back in November could possibly be related to additional graffiti found at the Bayard Rustin Educational Campus. Around 10 a.m. Fri., Jan. 4, a school safety officer reported that three graffiti scrawls found in the stairway that said, “die Sammy,” “wammy” and “fish gang,” were similar to additional graffiti that was found the day before. A slashing that occurred on Nov. 29 of last year between two groups, L.A. World Crew and Sammy World Crew, could be related to the gang graffiti at the high school on W. 18th St. between

Deli knives Police arrested Shameik Smallwood, 31, for allegedly threatening to kill a 35-year-old man with two 8-inch-long knives on Sun., Jan. 6, around 2 p.m. Police said Smallwood was blocking the entrance of a deli at 215 Eighth Ave., and when the man asked Smallwood to move, the latter pulled out the two knives, saying, “I’ll kill you,” according to a report. The knife-wielder fled into Joe’s Pizza next door, where police arrested him. CNW

Chokes girlfriend Xianqi Zeng, 24, strangled his 35-year-old girlfriend after they got into a verbal argument on Sat., Jan. 5, around 7:40 p.m., police said. Zeng reportedly put his hands around the woman’s neck, causing her to experience difficulty breathing, plus pain and redness on her neck, inside her apartment at 450 W. 42nd St.

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Januar y 10, 2019


V.I.D. backs local favorite Yee for advocate BY SYDNEY PEREIR A


he Village Independent Democrats endorsed Ben Yee for public advocate on Sunday. The special election for public advocate, set for Tues., Feb. 26, is jampacked with nearly two-dozen candidates who have tossed their names in the hat after former Public Advocate Letitia James was elected New York State attorney general. Not all will likely make it onto the ballot, though. Yee — the secretary of the Manhattan Democrats and Democratic state committeeman for the 66th Assembly District — comes to the race as an activist, educator and entrepreneur. Though Yee nabbed support from V.I.D., he faces a tough race against several current and former politicians. Prominent among them are Councilmember Jumaane Williams, who ran for lieutenant governor on a ticket with Cynthia Nixon last year, and former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. At a forum this past Sunday sponsored by several Downtown Manhattan Democratic clubs, 17 candidates made their case for the clubs’ endorsements. Twenty-two V.I.D. members supported Yee, another 16 went for Williams and four voted for no endorsement. “Ben is the reason I’m president of the club and the reason I’m even a member of this club,” said David Siffert, the club’s recently elected president. Siffert, among others at V.I.D., was inspired by Yee’s civics workshops that have rallied newly involved politicos to join Democratic clubs and activist groups. The 34-year-old East Villager has developed a platform inspired, in part, by those workshops. If elected, Yee has proposed creating a citywide civicseducation program, as well as a “311 Hotline” for the public to ask questions about government processes. He also advocates for helping forge community “grassroots coalitions,” starting with coordinating community boards, school committees and precinct councils to develop a citywide perspective. “It came down to Ben and Jumaane,


Ben Yee making his pitch for endorsements at Sunday’s forum for public advocate candidates.

said the program must be re-evaluated. He leaned on his past experience as a councilmember and tenant organizer. “There are landlords who need to be in jail and their buildings should be taken from them,” Williams said. Other prominent candidates included former Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, Councilmembers Rafael Espinal and Ydanis Rodriguez and Assemblymembers Latrice Walker, Michael Blake, Ron Kim and Danny O’Donnell. Some Villagers slammed Rodriguez for his support of the hotly disputed Inwood rezoning, plus his campaigning for former state Senator Marisol Alcantara. Alcantara formerly aligned herself with the Independent Democratic Conference, which was partly why former Councilmember Robert Jackson was able to defeat her in last September’s primary and win her seat. Others pushed former and current councilmembers on why the Small Business Jobs Survival Act has been denied a vote for years in the Council. MarkViverito cited constitutional issues the bill may face. Rodriguez emphasized he was a co-sponsor of the bill, while Espinal voiced support for the bill, too. High-profile activist Nomiki Konst also made her pitch. Saying her background as an investigative journalist gives her skill in tracking money, Konst

who are very, very different candidates,” Siffert said. “There’s definitely something to be said for someone who has been in legislation and been involved in actively shaping policy,” he said of Williams. “But there’s definitely something to be said for someone who’s been involved in education and been involved in getting people involved.” More than a dozen other candidates showed up Sunday. Among them was Williams, who railed against the mandatory inclusionary-housing program — the city’s program to increase affordable units in new developments. He

Woman, 75, dead in river on Chelsea waterfront BY SYDNEY PEREIR A


olice found Elizabeth Wallace, 75, floating facedown in the Hudson River off of W. 24th St. last Friday. The woman, who police said lived on W. 30th St. between Eighth and Ninth Aves., was spotted by a bystander, who alerted Parks Officer Christine Soto, according to police.


Januar y 10, 2019

Police responded to a 911 call just before 11 a.m. on Jan. 4. They found the woman unconscious near Pier 62 in the river. The Police Department’s Harbor Unit pulled the woman from the water, and E.M.S. medics declared her dead at the scene. The Medical Examiner’s office is investigating the cause of death.


proposed creating a “conflicts-of-interest grid” to show which corporations are contributing funds to lawmakers. Other contenders included attorneys Jared Rich and Dawn Smalls; David Eisenbach, a Columbia professor and advocate for the Small Business Jobs Survival Act; John Jay College adjunct Sami Disu; Theo Chino, an activist and bitcoin entrepreneur who was detained after protesting the mayor’s Fair Fares press conference last week; and Daniel Christmann, a charismatic plumber who blasted the governor on his handling of the L-train shutdown and Amazon deal. Ifeoma Ike, another activist candidate and attorney, touted her work with the Innocence Project, which, through DNA testing, exonerates people wrongfully convicted. After three hours of candidates’ pitches, V.I.D.’ers debated among themselves nearly an hour before voting. Tiffany Hodges, a V.I.D. member who has taken Yee’s civics workshops, said, “He knows how to use the office for what it was created to do — to really create transparency between what the public knows and what government doesn’t want the public to know.” Schneps Media

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Januar y 10, 2019


New Airbnb law blocked from going into effect BY SYDNEY PEREIRA


judge blocked a city law aimed at regulating home-sharing sites like Airbnb and Home Away in a preliminary injunction last Thurs., Jan. 3. Last year, the City Council passed a law that would have required companies like Airbnb to submit data to the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement regarding the names and addresses of hosts, whether short-term rentals include an entire apartment or a portion of it, plus information about fees and the number of days that a listing is rented. Under the law, which would have gone into effect this year, failure to provide the data would have

resulted in fi nes of $1,500 per listing for each required reporting period. Airbnb called the law an “extraordinary act of government overreach” that would violate the Fourth Amendment, according to its complaint fi led last August. Last week, federal District Judge Paul Engelmayer granted a preliminary injunction, which prevented the law from going into effect until he makes a fi nal decision on the lawsuit. “The decision today is a huge win for Airbnb and its users, including the thousands of New Yorkers at risk of illegal surveillance who use Airbnb to help make ends meet,” an Airbnb spokesperson said in a statement. “The court today recognized


Carlina Rivera was the prime sponsor of the City Council law that would force Airbnb to turn over its data.



Januar y 10, 2019

the fundamental importance of New Yorkers’ constitutional rights to privacy and the sanctity of their own homes.” Councilmember Carlina Rivera, who sponsored the legislation, tweeted: “This isn’t over. We will see this process through as we keep fighting to get back our affordable housing stock from illegal short-term operators.” Rivera’s law, co-sponsored by more than threedozen other councilmembers and passed unanimously, was originally aimed at cracking down on home-sharing services, which watchdogs have alleged are further fueling rising rents. City Comptroller Scott Stringer found that nearly 10 percent of the city’s rent increases since 2009 are attributable to pressures created by Airbnb, according to report from last May. Airbnb’s lawyers applauded the judge’s order, though it is not the fi nal ruling and the case is ongoing. Attorney Robbie Kaplan, of Kaplan Hecker & Fink, said the decision shows that “all Americans (including businesses) have a right to privacy in their records.” “No government can force a company to simply turn over its entire hard drive every month without any form of precompliance review,” Kaplan said in a statement. He added that the judge’s “cogent and comprehensive opinion takes old-world concepts which inspired the founders to enact the Fourth Amendment in the fi rst place and applies them to today’s modern, high-tech world.” “The decision makes clear that the city cannot simply force Internet platforms to provide what the city is not otherwise allowed under the law without process,” Sharon Nellez, another Airbnb attorney, of Sullivan & Cromwell, said in a statement.



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Miranda deus ex machina: Saves book shop! BY RICO BURNEY


he Drama Book Shop, which was slated to close at the end of the month due to rent hikes, was given new life on Tuesday when it was announced that the store has been purchased by Grammy-, Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning actor and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” fame. Manuel is joined in his purchase by “Hamilton”’s director, Thomas Kail, and producer, Jeffrey Seller, and James L. Nederlander, the president of the Nederland Organization, which owns nine Broadway theaters. The bookstore, which has been in operation since 1917 and has been at its 5,000-square-foot space at 250 W. 40th St. between Seventh and Eighth Aves. since 2001, will still close its doors on Jan. 20, as originally announced in October, after the store’s landlord increased the rent from $18,000 to $30,000. However, the shop’s new owners and The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, which is helping the new proprietors find a more affordable site for the store in the Theater District, plan to announce a fall reopening date for the new location soon. In addition to being a patron since he was a teenager, Miranda previously helped the shop recover from disaster in 2016 when he pitched in to raise funds after a burst pipe destroyed 30 percent of the store’s inventory. The New York Times reported that the store’s longtime owner, Rozanne Seelen, sold the place to Miranda and company for the price of the shop’s remaining rent and current inventory, plus a promise to keep her onboard as a consultant. “I’m 84 years old — I just didn’t have the drive to find a new space and make another move… . Lin-Manuel and Tommy are my white knights,” she told The Times. The Drama Book Shop, which was awarded an honorary Tony Award in 2011, is considered by many in the theater community to be an invaluable institution that, in addition to having one of the largest selections of plays in the nation, also houses a black-box theater used by many artists, including Kail earlier in his career. “My first experiences directing in New York City were at the Arthur Seelen Theater in the basement of the Drama Book Shop,” Kail said in a statement. “Thanks to the generosity of owners Allen Hubby and Rozanne Seelen, I had a small theater company that was in residence there for five years. I am delighted to be part of this group that will ensure the Drama Book Shop lives on.” Reactions to the purchase from the theater community were almost unaniSchneps Media


The Drama Book Shop, currentlyy on W. 23rd St.,, had been set to close before the end of this month after the rent became unaffordable for the former owners.

Lin-Manuel Miranda is now a par t owner of the Drama Book Shop.


mously positive, with some, such as “Once on This Island” director Michael Arden going as far as to call Manuel a “hero” online. Director and playwright Nina Kauffman raised more than $10,000 for the store through GoFundMe back in October. “I am so thrilled about the Drama Book Shop being purchased,” she said. “It just goes to show how important this place is to New York City and beyond. Now it can remain a staple rather than simply being a legacy.” Miranda could not immediately be reached for comment. Former store owner Seelen said they have “limited access” to the famous playwright right now because he is busy working on “Hamilton Puerto Rico,” which is opening this Friday in San Juan. Januar y 10, 2019


Letters to the Editor Ch-ch-changes

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To The Editor: I live on E. Sixth St. and walk to Astor Place. I could not understand why so many stores were vacant on the uptown, East Side corner of Third Ave. and St Mark’s. It seems that demolition is to take place. The Continental Bar is now closed, too. The old apartment building where many of these stores were located, along with some “taxpayers,” has been vacated. The building has to have been there more than 125 years, and is a lovely remnant of the 19th century. In my boyhood, long ago, it was a dump apartment building, many junkies were in there. My father and I went inside to see a client of his, as he was a lawyer. Will this lovely building be demolished, or is it landmarked? Bert Zackim Editor’s note: At last notice, that property was all slated for redevelopment as a new office building.

City can run the M.T.A.

Covering Manhattan in more ways than one

To The Editor: There is a simple legal solution to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s call for City Hall to regain control of the New York City bus and subway system. In 1953, the old New York city Board of Transportation passed on control of the municipal subway system, including all its assets, under a master lease and operating agreement to the newly created New York City Transit Authority. Under the late Governor Nelson Rockefeller in the ’60s, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was created. Buried within the 1953 master agreement between New York City and NYC Transit is an escape clause. The city has the legal right at any time to take back control of its assets. This includes the subway and bus system. Actions speak louder than words. If Council Speaker Johnson or anyone else feels City Hall could do a better job managing the M.T.A. — including running the nation’s largest subway and bus system — they have the legal option to do so and regain control. It should also be pointed out that Mayor Bill de Blasio appoints four of the M.T.A. board members and one of the four members of the M.T.A. Capital Program Review Board. A second member of the C.P.R.B. is appointed by Assembly Speaker Carl Hastie, who hails from the Bronx. This second member, just like the mayor’s appointee, is an advocate for New York City interests.


Januar y 10, 2019


Publisher of The Villager, Villager Express, Chelsea Now, Downtown Express and Manhattan Express PRESIDENT & PUBLISHER VICTORIA SCHNEPS-YUNIS







All five-year M.T.A. capital plans and any amendments require unanimous consent of all four C.P.R.B. members Albany manages the M.T.A. on behalf of City Hall, which is the actual original legal owner of record. New York City has the legal right to change the authority’s management team, if it so wishes. Larry Penner Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who worked 31 years for the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, Region 2 New York office

Global-warming warning To The Editor: Re “Gov. Cuomo scraps 15-month full L-shutdown plan” (thevillager.com, news article, Jan. 3): How can there be all this angst about our L-train tunnel nightmare with only bare mentions of what caused it and the near certainty it’ll hit us again? Sad to say, spending a half-billion dollars on repairs, bringing two years of nonstop commuter misery, doesn’t at all solve the problem. Those about to fight their way every day getting across the East River should never forget that this horror is a dire injury from subway flooding inflicted by global warming in the here and now — and not comfortably coming in a far-off future. Doing this tunnel project without constructing vast protections for the entire subway system is more than mere folly. It’s pathological denial. Another Sandy hitting us again is not just a possibility but a looming certainty. Read the recent United Nations report on climate change and weep. It’s one of the scariest documents in all of history — no exaggeration. Yes, the subway will be whacked again and maybe even worse. Yet the city and state are spending hundreds of millions of tax dollars subsidizing the construction of huge glass towers New Yorkers don’t want anymore — except for the real estate billionaires (REBNY), luxuriating in their profits. That at least should stop, and the money should be spent instead to protect us all. Bennett Kremen E-mail letters, maximum 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. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published. ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES GAYLE GREENBURG JIM STEELE JULIO TUMBACO ELIZABETH POLLY PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for others errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue. Published by Schneps Media One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (718) 260-2500 Fax: (212) 229-2790 On-line: www.thevillager.com E-mail: news@thevillager.com © 2019 Schneps Media

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Thanks, Cornelia St. and Robin, for the magic BY K AREN KR AMER


e knew this place in New York City, in Greenwich Village. The food in the artfilled restaurant upstairs was good, but it was what went on in the cabaret downstairs that made the magic. More than 2,000 people performed there every year. And although there are a lot of venues in New York with music or spoken word, here was a place that was so varied that several nights each month would be poetry in Greek or Romanian or Portuguese (“not at the same time,” the owner liked to joke). And of course there was music... tango and classical and jazz and an African-American group singing in Yiddish. The monologists told their stories and composers (of varied levels of experience) debuted new work. You could be a legend like David Amram who performs all over the world but made sure to make it back to the Village every month to play here. Or an unknown songwriter trying out edgy, groundbreaking material before an audience that welcomed it. Upstairs the waitstaff was composed of artists, and you knew their names and they knew yours. (Not something


Robin Hirsch, longtime owner of the Cornelia St. Cafe, during an interview with The Villager in 2017.

that often happened in New York City.) You could hang out at the bar and easily talk to the person next to you, who more likely than not turned out to be interesting…a photographer who had documented Philippe Petit tightrope walking between the two World Trade Center towers or a visiting harpsichordist from Montreal. It is no small feat to keep a place running for 41 years in New York City. When the owner was forced to close down due to greedy real estate run amok, he decided to “go out with a bang not a whimper.” For two days, over this past New Year’s holiday, artists who had performed there during the last four decades came in to perform one last time, accompanied by others who just wanted to be there. People flew in from England, from Australia. They came from Brooklyn and the Upper West Side, and Boston, and Bleecker St. And in between the music and the spoken word and the last storytellings were testaments to the importance of having a safe space in which to create, a physical space to form a community. Goodbye, and thanks, Cornelia Street Cafe. Thanks, Robin. There will never again be anything like it.

An open letter to City Council Speaker Johnson BY DAVID R. MARCUS


ear Corey, Happy New Year. I wish you good health, happiness and success in the New Year. Quite a list of accomplishments you can be proud of. It demonstrates the power of your office and the value of your advocacy. Nevertheless, I remain deeply disappointed that the full measure of your ability to get the impossible to be done was not put behind the community’s efforts to fi nd alternatives to the L-train shutdown, and if there was no alternative, then to effect major changes to the “alternative service plan” — not just create mechanisms to field all the inevitable problems and complaints. With proper changes, problems and complaints would have been minimized. The approach should have been to tweak the root cause; namely, the ill-advised plans. And now, it seems, as I have argued since the beginning, there is a much more intelligent method that does not disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands of commuters, residents and businesses that would have been devastated by the plan by the MetroSchneps Media

and 13th Sts., (11 feet wide for bicycles versus 10 feet for vehicles), along with bus-route changes that eliminated the stop at 14th St. and Sixth Ave., among others, be eliminated immediately. The entire premise upon which the need for these changes was argued has been rendered moot, and, in my simple vocabulary, temporary is temporary. We will not tolerate doublespeak from Trottenberg and Byford, or anyone else for that matter, who openly advocated for these changes’ permanence, but promised, at every juncture, that it would be up to the community to decide whether to keep them. It should not be up to the nonresident Transportation Alternatives advocates with no roots in the community that packed every hearing arguing for their selfi sh minority agenda. There should be no question about this. If not for the L-train shutdown, none of this would have been forced down our throats. Common sense dictates that absent the shutdown premise, all these burdensome changes have been rendered moot and things should immediately be restored back to the way

politan Transportation Authority and Department of Transportation. You had the stature and resources to push for intelligent choices — even if it meant you were the sole sensible voice amongst all your peers arguing for the best plan possible. In my opinion, this was a missed opportunity to be a hero to all of us who look to you for your advocacy. So now it takes a governor who relishes sticking it to a mayor to come up with a much more sensible plan that does not disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands of Brooklyn and Downtown Manhattan commuters, residents and businesses. While the technical details are beyond me, the tried-and-true method of either doing work only on nights and weekends or closing one tube at a time (both of which had been successfully done with other New York City tunnel repairs) had always seemed the better all-around approach to me. So, at this juncture, I look to you to hold D.O.T. Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and New York City Transit President Andy Byford to their words that all the changes to 14th St., as well as the protected bike lanes on 12th TVG

they were. Wouldn’t you agree? The people can demand but only those currently in power can do. What needs to happen now is clear: These folks must be held to their repeated assurances that all this was temporary and only would be for the duration of the L-train shutdown. With the premise removed, all that flowed from it must also be removed. There can be no other result. And on a fi scal note, as an accountant and businessman, I cannot help but be appalled at all the fi nancial waste committed by D.O.T. and the M.T.A. to effect all these changes well before they were needed — something we also tried to postpone but failed to accomplish because no one in power said, “No.” I remain interested to see how this all plays out and whether we will have the benefit of your office, Corey, and the power of your voice to get us back to where this community and neighborhoods need to be. Marcus is an executive board member, W. 13th St. 100 Block Association, and treasurer and vice president for finance, Cambridge Owners Corp. Januar y 10, 2019


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Caffe Reggio has been going strong on MacDougal St. for 92 years.

Caffe Reggio finds a formula for survival BY GABE HERMAN


ery few Village establishments have survived the trying tests of times, including rent hikes and passing fads, like frozen yogurt, ramen and beyond. Even fewer of the survivors have remained family owned. Caffe Dante, at 79 MacDougal St., for example, was sold after 100 years to an Australian company, which made alterations and changed the name simply to Dante. Caffe Reggio is a rare holdout that is still going strong under family ownership. It has been at 119 MacDougal St. since 1927, and started out as a barbershop run by Dominic Parisi. He soon began serving espresso and found the location’s destiny. Parisi sold the cafe in 1955 to the Cavallacci family, and Hilda Cavallacci ran it until 1976, when her son and current owner Fabrizio took over. Reggio still has many neighborhood regulars, along with getting its fair share of tourists. Longtime regular Joseph Marra, 85, who ran the Night Owl Cafe on W. Third St. for years, said Reggio has survived because Cavallacci owns the building. That’s how a family business can make it, with Raffetto’s pasta shop nearby on W. Houston St. being another rare example. Le Figaro Cafe closed in 2008 at 184-186 Bleecker St. after its rent shot up to $40,000 a month, Marra said. Le Figaro was bought by a corporation in 2004, according to The New York Times. Even local shops with reasonable landlords still have to deal with increasing real estate taxes to go along with rents and other fees. Tea & Sympathy, at 108 Greenwich Ave., as The Villager recently reported, has started a GoFundMe online fundraiser for owner Nicky Perry to cover such costs. But Caffe Reggio seems to be in a better position because Cavallacci owns the building. General manager Lena Batyuk noted that the cafe has been willing to change with the times, now offering brunch and new milks, like almond, coconut and

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Dominic Parisi originally opened Caffe Reggio as a barbershop, then began ser ving espresso to customers.

the very popular oak milk, for example. Of course the cafe continues to serve classic espresso drinks, including cappuccino, with the cafe claiming it was the first place to serve it in America. “We try to adapt as much as we can,” said Batyuk, who has been there for 12 years. “One of those things is the avocado toast,” she said with a laugh. The cafe also offers free WiFi. But much of the cafe’s appeal still lies with its unchanging character. Its interior sports old Italian paintings, one from the Caravaggio school, a ceiling fan used in filming “Casablanca,” and a nickelplated behemoth espresso machine from 1902 that was used in the cafe until 1981. Batyuk said it actually still works, but just isn’t as efficient as modern equipment. “You can see pictures from the ’50s and it’s basically the same,” Batyuk said of the cafe. She recently served a group who attended New York University in the ’50s and were regular Reggio customers, and remembered coffee made from the original TVG

espresso machine. Of course, N.Y.U. has greatly impacted Greenwich Village over the decades, and not for the better according to many locals, including Marra. “N.Y.U. changed the neighborhood,” he said. “You don’t have that sense of community anymore.” As Marra sat in Caffe Reggio on a recent morning — he comes every Wednesday and Saturday — he noted there was no music playing. “Places play loud music and the radio, you can’t talk to people,” said. “Here they don’t play anything, so you can have a conversation and connect.” Marra first came to Caffe Reggio with his father when he was 6 years old. “It’s the same, the interior is authentic,” he said. That charm is what keeps bringing TV and film shoots to the cafe, recently “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “The Deuce” from TV and the movie “Inside Llewyn Davis,” to add to classics filmed there, like “The Godfather Part II” and “Shaft.” Many celebrities and legends have stopped by over the years, and continue to drop in. Most recently, Carey Mulligan was a regular while she was in a play around the corner, Batyuk said. David Bowie called Reggio one of his favorite spots in his adopted city. Owner Fabrizio Cavallacci lives in Italy and visits the cafe every year for a few weeks, Marra said. Through messages relayed to Batyuk, Cavallacci said he will definitely keep ownership of Reggio for the rest of his life, and there is no price he would sell it for. He said he has been at Reggio and on MacDougal St. his whole life, and that it’s more than just a restaurant to him. “He’s in his 50s, but he’s an old-school guy,” Marra said. The combination of sentiment in appreciating the past, and the practicality of owning the whole building, seems to be the winning formula for a family business to stay alive in the Village these days. Januar y 10, 2019


Caffe Reggio, timeless mainstay on MacDougal


One of Caffe Reggio’s claims to fame is to have been the first cafe to ser ve cappuccino in America.


Hilda Cavallacci, above, and her husband Niso ran the cafe for 21 years, then handed it off to their son Fabrizio.



Fabrizio Cavallacci and his father Niso at Reggio in the late 1970s.


Januar y 10, 2019

A page from Caffe Reggio’s menu from 1977.


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New York City Department of Education Notice of Disclosure of Directory Information Dear Parent/Guardian, Current or Former Student: Dear Parent/Guardian, Current or Former Student: The NY C Department of Education (DOE) is helping the NY C Department of Health The YorkHygiene City Department Education (DOE) helping the NewisYork City Department of Health and Mental and New Mental begin a of research study. Theis research study about health and educational impacts of Hygiene (Health Department) begin a research study. The research study is about health and educational impacts the the 9/11 World Trade Center disaster on students. The study will include students in school during and after of 9/11. 9/11 disasterabout on students. Theguardians, study will include school duringstudents and after to 9/11. DOE will DOEWorld will Trade give Center information parents, former students studentsin and current    give information about parents, guardians, former students and current student to the Health Department.  . The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a federal law that protects the privacy and confidentiality of students. The law allows DOE to share student directory information, which includes the information listed below. You have a chance to say you do not want DOE to share your directory information. Whose information will DOE be sharing? DOE will share information about students in certain areas that were enrolled in school at the time of September 11, 2001 or those first enrolled by 2006-2007. The areas are: x Lower Manhattan x Northwest Brooklyn x Flushing, Queens x Upper West Side, Manhattan x Sunset Park, Brooklyn What directory information will be shared? DOE will share: x x x x

Student, parent and guardian names Parent/guardian relationship to student Phone number, email & home address history Studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sex and date of birth

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Whether student was born inside NYC or NY State Spoken and written language(s) Any schools/educational institutions of enrollment Enrollment time periods

Who will receive the directory information and how will it be used?      will receive the information. Contractors will be hired to help      conduct the research study, and the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) may receive the information. No one else will have access to the information. Contractors will help get updated contact information by searching various records available to them. NSC may help get updated school information on students after high school.     will use the information to reach out to individuals to learn if they want to be a part of the research study. How will your information be protected? DOE and the Health Department will have written agreements to require those who get the information to protect and secure it. Individuals will not be allowed to sell, use, or share the information for any advertising, marketing, commercial purposes, or for any purpose besides for the research study. What do you need to do?  Do nothing: you or your childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s directory information will be shared with    .  Fill out this form if you do not want your directory information or your childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s directory information to #"&$$)*$!"$$"$%"$'("%"' $ be shared with     and return it by February 1, 2019 to:

$$  !$%$#  & " $'!"$$ %$  "#$& " , I DO NOT WANT Directory Information to be shared with      . Studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s First Name: Studentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Last Name: School (current or last school attended):

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â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Return by February 15, 2019 if you do not want to share your or your childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s directory informationâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; 18

Januar y 10, 2019


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The Susquehanna Industrial Tool and Die Co., from left, Gar th Powell, Michael McMahon, Sara Bender and Jon Hammer per forming at Otto’s Shrunken Head around Halloween.

Hillbilly boogie trio keeps on rockin’ in style BY BOB KR ASNER


alk into Otto’s Shrunken Head on the last Thursday of any month, sit down in the back room at a small table, and have yourself some “salty snacks.” Then be prepared to be seriously entertained — at 8 o’clock sharp — by three identically clad gentlemen who love playing their music so much that they do it for free, as they’ve been doing continuously in this room for the last ten years. They call themselves the Susquehanna Industrial Tool and Die Co. (more about that later) and they play “hillbilly boogie, which is a sort of proto-rockabilly,” according to rhythm guitarist Jon Hammer. Upright bassist Garth Powell hesitates to describe the band — which has no drummer — but does muse on its singularity, noting that, “three weirdos in a trio will result in uniqueness.” The third part of the equation is Michael McMahon: lead singer, songwriter, lead guitarist and raconteur, emcee and general all-around entertainer. How this group came to be a regular East Village fixture is his story — how a guy who grew up in Pittsburgh listening mostly to sports talk radio, moved to New York, learned the difference between a guitar and a bass and never stopped playing. His parents listened to Barbra Streisand, but his big sister Amy was already in New York City, in the middle of the punk/no wave scene. He joined her there in 1978, learned to love The Clash, the Cramps, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and the Contortions and bought himself an electric bass. “I wanted to play something,” he recalled. “A friend told me the guitar had six strings and the bass had four, so I chose the bass.” His first band was a punk combo called the Starekits. They did a total of three shows. “We were terrible, but we looked amazing,” McSchneps Media

Susquehanna Industrial Tool and Die Co.’s Michael McMahon, right, with special guest Stella Rose Saint Clair.

Mahon said. Eventually, he found a place to live in the East Village, where he still resides, and formed a new band with sister Amy. He described Last Roundup as “hillbilly with a punk attitude — the punk part was that we had no idea how to play!” Powell was a member of the band, as well. They played mostly originals, written by the two McMahons, because, as Michael put it, “it was easier than learning covers.” They got themselves a record deal, great reviews, toured the country, made no money and broke up. Amy, now married with a new surname, Rigby, went on to form The Shams with Amanda Uprichard and Sue Garner and then to a very notable solo career. McMahon, who now had a day job, found himself checking out the “Avenue C Opry” scene, a Monday night affair that brought country music fans together in a tiny East Village bar. It was there he started jamming with pedal-steel player Henry Bogdan (who TVG

played bass in the metal band Helmet). At the time, the band was a much different quartet — McMahon on guitar, Powell on bass, Bogdan on pedal steel and Rick Brown on drums. In a pinch before a show, McMahon came up with the name: Susquehanna Industrial Tool and Die Co. It wasn’t until later that it was pointed out to him by his brother that it had a pretty catchy acronym: “SITandDIE.” Fast-forward to the present, and the trio is now the “longest-running act at Otto’s,” at E. 14th St. and Avenue B. Once a month the place fills up with fans who take sartorial cues from the band and dress in vintage duds. It’s a bit of a surprise when you realize that most of the tunes that sound like they are from another era are actually from McMahon’s songbook. If you’re lucky, go-go dancer Pamela Sparacino will be on hand to do her adorable dance to the chorus of “Dig That Crazy Monkey!” — “Go, Monkey, Go!” You can also count on frequent guest spots from wonderful singer Stella Rose Saint Clair and muchwelcomed appearances by artist Daisy Reinhardt, who brings chicken for everyone when the mood strikes her. But in the middle of it all is McMahon, singing into a vintage microphone and “oozing indescribable movie star charm that wins you over instantly,” in the words of Carol Elizabeth Dietz, a regular at the monthly gathering. “He is a throwback to a golden era of impeccable personal style.” Bassist Powell, who has a day job as an editor, sees the residency as a positive thing. “It keeps me out of trouble,” he said. “Would have probably joined a cult if I did not have it.” Guitarist Hammer, who is also a writer and a painter, muses on how they have managed to stay together for so long: “I guess we’re set in our ways. Just pure stubbornness.” Januar y 10, 2019


‘Village Nights’ brings back that ’60s vibe BY GABE HERMAN


n Sun., Jan. 13, “Village Nights” returns to the Washington Square Hotel. Season two of the monthly musical salon series continues the vision of its founder, Richard Barone, to keep alive the musical spirit of 1960s Greenwich Village. The guest on the first Sunday night will be singer-songwriter Terre Roche. She also did the show last year and is back by popular demand, according to Barone, a musician and longtime Village resident. “That show sold out so quickly. It was frustrating for people who wanted to see her, so we had to add a second time,” said Barone, who is also the host of the series. Barone teaches a course on the Village at The New School called “Music and Revolution.” He released an album two years ago about the neighborhood called “Sorrows & Promises: Greenwich Village in the 1960s.” Barone led the ’80s pop group The Bongos, who were based in Hoboken. It was back during that time that he first moved to the Village, into a place on Third St. in 1984. He said he didn’t really immerse himself in the neighborhood, though, until the group stopped touring after seven years. After then, he spent more time in the Village, being active with the community board and working with local artists. The origins of “Village Nights” stretch back to a series of six events he held at Jefferson Market Library, featuring panel discussions and music centered around the local ’60s scene. Barone happened to be in the Washington Square Hotel one day, at 103 Waverly Place, just across from the northwest corner of the park, and he saw its below-ground-level lounge and thought it would be great for a show. The hotel agreed and the series kicked off last year with David Amram, the composer, musician and author, in March 2018. Barone usually starts each show with a song and a story about the Village, be-


Richard Barone, right, with Joey Arias after the latter’s per formance at “Village Nights.””


David Amram, left, and his quar tet playing at “ Village Nights.”

fore handing things off to the featured artist, who performs and mixes in storytelling, as well. “I love having guests that are either related to the Village scene historically or currently, or that carry on the songwriter tradition that really had its birth in Greenwich Village,” Barone said. Terre Roche was in the trio sister group The Roches, founded in the early ’70s. “They were very important in the Village scene,” Barone said. The Roches were discovered by Paul Simon, who produced their first record, and they sang backup on Simon’s classic 1973 album “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon.”

212 - 254 - 1109 | www.theaterforthenewcity.net | 155 First Ave. NY, NY 10003

Beltsville/Rockville Part 1: Thunderbird Rise of the Goatman American Indian Dancers Written & Directed by: Matt Okin Thur -Sat 8PM, Sun 3PM December 27 - Jan. 13


Januar y 10, 2019

Betty & The Belrays Written & Directed by:

Dance Concert & Pow Wow!

William Electric Black

Fri - Sat 8PM, Sun 3PM January 25 - Feb. 03

Thur - Sat 8PM, Sun 3PM Janaury 31 - Feb. 17 TVG

Barone said that Roche talks about her Village connection in the show. “She’s quite charming and wonderful,” he noted. After Roche’s performance on Jan. 13, there will be two shows on Sundays in March. On March 3, Anthony DeCurtis will read from his Lou Reed biography “A Life” and perform Village Underground songs with Barone; and musician/writer Mary Lee Kortes will read from her recent book “Dreaming of Dylan,” which features dreams that people have had of Bob Dylan, and she will also perform Dylan tunes. On March 31, singer-songwriter Jeffrey Gaines will be the guest. Gaines and DeCurtis performed last August at a special “Village Nights” show in Central Park that featured many performers and drew thousands. Barone said the ’60s revolution in the Village that he teaches about at The New School went beyond politics, to include all aspects of expression, including race, relationships, how people dressed, and the Stonewall Riots. And he noted that musicians began writing their own songs, instead of relying on Midtown hit factories. Barone said that people would pay to hear what artists like Dylan and Phil Ochs actually had to say, along with what they sang. “You wanted to hear what they were going to tell us,” he said. “They were giving us news, even if it was personal relationship news. Entertainment was merged with reality. It’s a big deal and it happened in Greenwich Village more than anyplace else.” Barone is also on the board of governors for the Grammy Awards and has performed locally at the Positively 8th Street Festival. He said he likes bringing music to the Washington Square Hotel. Founded in 1902, it was formerly called the Hotel Earle. The place attracted many musicians and artists over the years for its proximity to the park and Village scene, including Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, the Rolling Stones, Dylan Thomas and Ernest Hemingway. Each “Village Nights” show runs about two hours and offers a full dinner and drink menu. The cover charge is $20 per person. The shows are in the North Square Lounge, and Barone said they create an atmosphere where people can mingle and talk and connect. The idea, according to Barone, was to bring back the community feel of the ’60s. “People wouldn’t just make connections personally. They’d make creative networking connections,” he said of that era. “It’s how our Village worked then. That’s what I’m trying to do with this series.” Schneps Media

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Januar y 10, 2019


Manhattan Happenings at 446 Third Ave., will show “All The President’s Men,” the 1976 movie about reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) breaking the story of the 1972 burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., that led to the Watergate scandal. For more information, visit www.nypl.org/events/ programs/2019/01/11/movies-kips-bay-library-presents-book-movie-adaptations-all-presidents. FREE


ARTS “Battle! Hip-Hop in Armor”: Hip-hop dancers will meet knights in armor in a dance performance commissioned by MetLiveArts with the Met’s Arms and Armor Department and dance organization Dancing in the Streets of the South Bronx on Sat., Jan. 11, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at The Met Fifth Avenue, Gallery 371, the Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Arms and Armor Court. Future performance dates are Feb. 8, March 22, April 12 and June 7. Free with museum admission. For more information, visit www.metmuseum.org/events/programs/met-live-arts/battle-hiphop-in-armor-3.

St. Agnes Library Book Sale: The St. Agnes Library, at 444 Amsterdam Ave., will hold a used-book sale Sat., Jan. 12, and Wed., Jan. 23, from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, visit https://www.nypl. org/events/programs/2019/01/12/st-agnes-librarybook-sale. FREE


Tibetan epic opera: The Prototype Festival features the opera “Mila, Great Sorcerer” on Sat., Jan. 12, and Sun., Jan 13, at 1 p.m. At Saturday’s show, a postperformance conversation will be held at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. This opera details an “epic tale” that originates in Tibet about folk hero, singer and spiritual teacher Milarepa’s life journey from mass murder to enlightenment. Tickets $30. For more information, visit www.prototypefestival.org/shows/mila-great-sorcerer/.

Festa Em Português: The Battery Park City Authority holds family workshops to celebrate Portuguese-speaking countries through music and art for kids age 4 and older at 6 River Terrace, Sat., Jan. 12, at 4 p.m. Pianist Renato Diz will perform “I Will Play Your Soul” in an interactive, improvised piece. There will also be an art workshop to create azulejos (“tiles” in Portuguese), inspired by those in Lisbon, Portugal. For more information, visit https://bpca.ny.gov/ news/events/. FREE

Keith Duncan: “The Big Easy”: Fort Gansevoort, at 5 Ninth Ave. in the Meatpacking District, features works by Keith Duncan in his latest collection, “The Big Easy.” The New Orleans-based artist’s show opens Thurs., Jan. 10, and runs through Sat., Feb. 23. Duncan’s paintings are inspired by Southern influences, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and African-American history. For more information, visit http://www.fortgansevoort.com/. FREE

The author Ha Jin will talk about the the great romantic poet Li Bai at the New York Public Librar y’s Main Branch, at 42nd St. and Fifth Ave.

“Charles White: A Retrospective” will be on display through Jan. 13 at the Museum of Modern Art on the third floor. This is the first major exhibit devoted to the African-American artist in more than 30 years, according to MoMA. More than 100 works, including drawings, paintings, photographs and other archival materials, from White’s full career from the 1930s through his death in 1979 will be on display. Tickets $25; students $14; seniors $18. Children 16 and under free. For more information, visit www.moma.org/ calendar/exhibitions/3930?locale=en. Lexus LF-1 Limitless Concept: The Lexus LF-1 Limitless vehicle is on display, flaunting its “unrestrained luxury,” at INTERSECT BY LEXUS – NYC Gallery, at 412 W. 14th St., through Sun., Jan 20. For more information, visit www.meatpacking-district. com/events/lexus-lf-1-limitless-concept/. FREE


COMEDY “Drug Test”: Lower East Side venue Caveat at 21 A Clinton St. hosts a frank and funny talk with experts and comedians about drugs and drug use on Tues., Jan. 15, at 6:30 p.m. Sarah Rose Siskind, comedy writer for “StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson” on National Geographic, will host psychologist Ingmar Gorman and Adam Strauss, writer and performer of “The Mushroom Cure.” Tickets, $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Doors open 6:30 p.m. and show


Januar y 10, 2019

starts 7 p.m. Ages 21 and up. For more information, visit www.caveat.nyc/event/drug-test-1-15-2019.

Author talk: “The Banished Immortal”: The New York Public Library features author Ha Jin, who documents the life of eighth-century poet Li Bai (also known as Li Po) in “The Banished Immortal” at the Berger Forum on the second floor at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, at 42nd St. and Fifth Ave on Wed., Jan. 16, at 6:30 p.m. The N.Y.P.L. recommends registering in advance for free events. Registration does not guarantee admission. For more information, visit www.showclix.com/event/banishedimmortal/ tag/nyplwebsite. FREE Reading: “Bad With Money”: Author Gaby Dunn appears in the city on Wed., Jan. 16, at 7:30 p.m., at the Strand Bookstore, 828 Broadway, with Josh Gondelman of Showtime’s “Desus and Mero,” and again on Thurs., Jan. 17, 7:30 p.m. at the 92nd St. Y, 1395 Lexington Ave., with Akilah Hughes of HBO’s “Pod Save America.” Admission for the Strand’s Jan. 16 event is either buy a copy of “Bad With Money” or a $5 gift card. To purchase tickets, visit https://www. strandbooks.com/event/gaby-dunn-bad-with-money. Admission for the 92nd St. Y’s Jan. 17 event starts at $30. To purchase tickets, visit https://www.92y.org/ event/bad-with-money. Movies @ Kips Bay Library: “All The President’s Men”: On Fri., Jan. 11, at 1 p.m., the Kips Bay Library, TVG

PROFESSIONAL Tuesday Talks: Women’s Werk: The Battery Park City Authority hosts a lecture for dreamers, freelancers and entrepreneurs for a meet-and-greet and panel session with women who are “gig economy pros” — workers in short-term jobs — on Tues., Jan. 15, 7 p.m., at 6 River Terrace. For more information, visit https://bpca.ny.gov/news/events/. FREE

COMMUNITY BOARD Community Board 5 holds its monthly full board meeting at Xavier High School, 30 W. 16th St., second-floor library, Thurs., Jan., 17, at 6 p.m.

PRECINCT COUNCIL Ninth Precinct Community Council meeting at 325 E. Fifth St., Tues., Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. 13th Precinct Community Council meeting at 230 E. 21st St., Tues., Jan. 15, at 6:30 p.m. Midtown South Community Council meeting in the lobby of the New Yorker Hotel at 481 Eighth Ave., Thurs., Jan. 17, at 7 p.m. Midtown North Community Council meeting at 306 W. 54th St., Tues., Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. 24th Precinct Community Council meeting at 151 W. 100th St., Wed., Jan. 16, at 7 p.m. Schneps Media


Food vendors will have to make the grade BY GABE HERMAN


s that street meat clean to eat? Until now, New Yorkers could only wonder about the cleanliness of street food, or perhaps choose not to think about it at all. But the city has started a grading program for all 5,500 food carts and trucks across the boroughs, which will give out letter grades in a twoyear process, similar to the rollout for restaurant letter grades in 2010. The program started last month. In the announcement in November, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the city Department of Health commissioner, said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Letter grades on food carts and trucks will help New Yorkers see how these businesses fared on their latest inspection, right when they want to place an order. Just as diners appreciate letter grading in restaurants, we expect this program to be popular among customers of food carts and trucks.â&#x20AC;? The idea of grading food carts and trucks has been supported by the industry. In 2017, Ben Goldberg, founder and C.E.O. of the New York Food Truck Association, said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;At the NYFTA, we think food trucks should be held to the same food-safety regulations as brick-and-mortar restaurants, not only including letter grades, but also addressing the onerous food-safety permitting process for food truck employees.â&#x20AC;? The new D.O.H. program stems from a city law passed in 2017. The issue was also reviewed in the state Senate that year, and the Independent Demo-


A food-vendorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cart on Central Park West outside the American Museum of Natural Histor y.

cratic Conference, a group in the state Senate, released an analysis of city data from 2016 inspections of food carts and trucks that was not made public. That report showed that eight vendors would have received the abysmal â&#x20AC;&#x153;Câ&#x20AC;? health grade. Five of those eight were located in Manhattan, including four in Midtown and one on the Upper West Side. Manhattan vendors were found to have the highest rate of health infractions, at 1.17 violations per inspection. Citywide, the most common violations in-

cluded keeping foods at improper temperatures, not wearing a hair restraint and not keeping equipment clean. The new program is facing some criticism, however, related to D.O.H. attaching a location-sharing device to every vendorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cart or truck, which the department said will be used to fi nd vendors when inspection time comes. The advocacy group Street Vendor Project tweeted after the announcement, â&#x20AC;&#x153;While vendors getting letter grades is good for everyone, tracking vendorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; movements with GPS devices could have severe consequences for our mostly immigrant communities.â&#x20AC;? The Health Department said it will delete location data within 24 hours, â&#x20AC;&#x153;protect data during transmission and storage,â&#x20AC;? and only request location data at the time of inspection. The department said it will hold workshops in the coming months for food vendors about the new grading process and how to handle food properly and avoid violations. The vendor-grade lawâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s prime sponsor, Councilmember Karen Koslowitz, said when the program was announced, â&#x20AC;&#x153;New York is known around the world for the amazing diversity of its street food, ranging from halal hot dogs to curry in a hurry. But everyone celebrating that diversity has a right to know that it meets uniform health standards, and the Health Department is right to implement a letter grading system for food carts and trucks to help assure that those standards are met.â&#x20AC;?



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She’s the thread keeping community together BY SYDNEY PEREIR A


n the cozy basement of the Henry Street Settlement’s offices at the Vladeck Houses, Ruth Taube, 95, has kept a fortress of fabric scraps, knitting and crocheting tools and sewing machines. She even has a fitting room. Since 1966, the basement has been the location of Taube’s Home Planning Workshop — tea and coffee provided. The workshop formerly even sported programs to build and repair furniture, and repair televisions, radios and shoes. Ten years ago, budget cuts to her sewing class led her students to protest. They called the settlement’s then-director and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Eventually, the New York City Housing Authority provided cash to revive the program. “It’s always been from Day One from when I started in 1966, learn to do for yourself and you won’t be in need,” she said. “Help yourself and you’ll be on the right track.” Taube, a lifetime Lower East Sider who lives in the Seward Park Cooperative, has become a fi xture in the neighborhood. She’s been featured in The New York Times for her workshop and invited onto Mo Rocca’s cooking show, “My Grandmother’s Ravioli,” to make her matzo ball soup. She raised her daughter in the neighborhood as a single


Ruth Taube has taught generations of Lower East Siders how to make and repair clothes.

Ruth Taube is like a one-woman “Garment Center” at the Henr y St. Settlement.


Januar y 10, 2019


mother after her husband died from injuries in World War II. On a recent Wednesday, a neighborhood couple dropped by to visit Taube. The husband revealed he no longer needs to attend the class, having recently learned sewing skills from her. But her workshop has evolved from a sewing class into a small community. Often, Taube said, her regulars come in asking for help with other myriad issues. Recently, the instructor helped a woman call Spectrum to fi x her cable. Sometimes they come to her asking for advice on personal issues. “Listen, I’ve been in this business for 100 years,” Taube said. “I talk to people in a sensible way and in a sympathetic way and understanding because if they need help, I know how to answer them because I know what it is when I need help, how I would like somebody to talk to me.” Her workshop has become smaller, and few young people join her classes these days, she said. Still, sometimes as many as 20 people will come Tuesday or Wednesday afternoons from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. “Henry St. is my second life,” Taube said. “I have a big history here.” Schneps Media

Scoopy’s Notebook END OF THE HI-CAT-US: First of all, we want to apologize to all the Scoopy’s Notebook fans out there for our brief hiatus — or “hi-cat-us,” as we like to call it. Hey, we’ve just been a little busy! ... O.K., to get right to it, let’s start with one of the all-time Scoopy All-Stars...Doris Diether! Margaret (“Margie”) Sharp, a friend of the legendary zoning maven of Community Board 2, called us the other week to ask if Diether was all right. The longtime Villager subscriber knew Diether well when she lived in the Village in the 1950s but now lives in Vermont. But Diether unfailingly calls her every Christmas to wish her well. She didn’t get a call this year, though, leaving her worried. It turns out that, as usual, there was a very simple explanation: The Village activist’s Christmas tree is so big this year, that the guys who brought it in put it in a different spot — and it blocked her access to the place where she keeps her box filled with friends’ telephone numbers. But she still did send out her usual slew of holiday cards — 487, in all. We actually got two! Speaking of which, Diether was very pleased to get a Christmas card from new C.B. 2 Chairperson Carter Booth. “I was surprised,” she admitted to us.

Diether insisted to us, “You don’t charge admission to a party.” Our understanding, though, is that people will be able to make a voluntary contribution, and certainly, it’s a worthy cause. But yes, Diether is O.K., and Scoopy is O.K. We’re all O.K.!

SHOCK’ING FOLLOW-UP: After our article about Michelle Shocked’s surprise New Year’s Eve jam session at C Squat went to print, the folksinger emailed us with some more details about her connection to the Lower East Side squat scene and radical ’zine artist Seth Tobocman. Shocked, who squatted in San Francisco before she came to New York City, said she got to know Tobocman when she was hanging out with the Yippies at their old headquarters at No. 9 Bleecker St., sometime between 1984 and 1986. “Seth’s influence on my own artistic development was seminal,” Shocked said of Tobocman, who publishes the graphic ’zine “World War 3 Illustrated.” “His subject matter, his personality, everything. When I was asked by the Guggenheim Museum where I first heard about [the police murder of graffiti artist] Michael Stewart, the first thought that came to my mind was Seth,” she added, referencing the mural that Tobocman painted in Stewart’s


Michelle Shocked in her customized Rangers jersey.

She was about to head to “a couple of New Year’s Eve parties.” Of course, she was getting ready for her big 90th birthday bash at Judson Church on Thurs., Jan. 10. On that note, there was a bit of a flap over whether admission should be charged, which would have gone to help pay for a new elevator to the Washington Square South church’s fourth floor. But

honor on a wall at La Plaza Cultural, at E. Ninth St. and Avenue C. Shocked, who is now a born-again Christian, shocked many of her fans when she made what were widely construed as anti-gay remarks at a concert in 2013. Tobocman said he confronted her about that when they came up with the idea of her performing her song “Graffiti Limbo’ (which tells the story of Stewart’s murder) to accompany Tobocman’s graphic slideshow at the C squat event. “When she approached me a month ago, I made it clear that I support gay rights, including gay marriage, and that this is a non-negotiable position,” Tobocman told us. ‘My drummer, Eric Blitz, said something similar to her. She insisted that she also supports gay rights but was honest about the fact that she does attend a black church where antigay attitudes are often expressed. “Because I know her from back in the day, I give her the benefit of the doubt on this, although I can understand how some other people might not,” Tobocman added of the controversy that continues to dog Shocked’s career. Shocked had been quite involved with a Pentecostal church in West L.A. But she recently relocated to Chelsea and says she’s planning some gigs at KGB bar on E. Fourth St. Stay tuned.

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