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JANUARY 10 – JANUARY 23, 2019

‘BROOKLYN BRIDGE BEACH’ WITHIN REACH City moving forward on Two Bridges waterfront plan Page 3

Advocates created this design rendering a few years ago to show what a revamped Two Bridges-area waterfront might look like. Now the city is moving forward with a multimillion-dollar project that could bring a vision like this — complete with a beach — to reality. 1 M E T R O T E C H • N YC 112 0 1 • © 2 0 19 S C H N E P S M E D I A

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Two Bridges esplanade will be ‘beachy’ keen BY SYDNEY PEREIR A


ost may not think of a sandy beachfront when they think of the Lower East Side esplanade — particularly in the constructionfilled, dilapidated portions beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. But that could change, thanks to a $21 million project by the city’s Economic Development Corporation. A quarter-mile stretch of the waterfront roughly in the Two Bridges area between Peck Slip and Catherine Slip — where existing conditions are bleak with crummy bike racks, sinkholes in the esplanade, and staging areas for construction projects — is being revamped by E.D.C. The project is being funded with $15 million from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant and $6 million from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilmember Margaret Chin. Though a majority of the project targets the esplanade, E.D.C. plans to build better access points to a small, long-closed beach area beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. At this early stage of the process, there are no design renderings. Brewer is a fan of improving that beach access, she said at a public meeting with E.D.C. on Tues., Jan. 8, lauding last summer’s “Water Day” when the beach was temporarily reopened.


The current scene at “Brooklyn Bridge Beach.” E.D.C. plans a multimillion-dollar improvement project for this stretch of water front.

walking right up to the water’s edge & jumping in!” E.D.C. stressed that at least one limitation on any upgrades would be a combined-sewer outfall adjacent to the shoreline. Who would be the gatekeeper for those beach-access points is still a question for Downtowners. “The beach obviously is the top priority,” said Rob Buchanan, of the New York City Water Trail Association, a

“There’s a little beach there, and I am determined to keep that beach and that sand,” Brewer said. “That’s a small idea, but you have to know that The New York Times is behind us.” The Times editorial board backed the idea of a Manhattan beach last summer, sparking a buzz among Manhattan’s politicians. At the time, Brewer tweeted: “We ought to make it possible for all NYers to enjoy our coastline by

nonprofit boating organization. “Just to walk on the beach would do so much for Lower Manhattan. … No operator or ‘managed shoreline access’ — which is code for a locked gate.” E.D.C. will have a host of other projects to carefully coordinate with — such as the Two Bridges’ portion of the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency project that will include flood barriers beneath the bridge, the reconstruction of Peck Slip, and construction at South Street Seaport’s Tin Building and New Market Building sites. Another critical ask from a contingent of Smith Houses residents was better access and connectivity to the project. “We are not tourists — we are a part of the city,” said Luz Chile, a Smith Houses resident. “We need to identify that we are a part of the project [through the design].” Fifteen months of construction could begin as soon as early 2020. The design phase will wend its way through Community Boards 1 and 3 for approval this year, and a final design will be complete by fall 2019. Although E.D.C. would not be in charge of additional crosswalks, the larger vision plan could include potential crosswalks at Robert Wagner Sr. Place, Dover St. and Peck Slip. The design will also include flood-resistent design materials for the pavings and railings, better seating, lighting and landscaping, and bike lane improvements along South St.

Despite gains, pedestrian safety still an issue BY GABE HERMAN


ven as the city saw its lowest-ever levels of traffic fatalities in 2017, pedestrians deaths were up from last year and Lower Manhattan continues to have some of the most dangerous intersections in the city. The city announced on Jan. 1 that there were 200 overall traffic deaths in 2017, down nearly one-third since 2013, just before Mayor Bill de Blasio started his Vision Zero traffic safety program. However, there were 114 pedestrian deaths this past year, up from 107 in 2016. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson tweeted on Jan. 2 about the city’s traffic deaths data for last year, “I am proud of the progress we’ve made on Vision Zero, but we have to do more. Pedestrian deaths actually increased in 2018 over the previous year. New York streets should be safe for all of us.” Lower Manhattan’s dangers for pedestrians were recently highlighted when a young law clerk, Kimberly Greer, was struck and killed by a charter bus at Centre and Leonard Sts. Greer, 28, was in the crosswalk when

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the bus hit her while it was making a left turn in the early evening on Dec. 20. After the incident, Councilmember Margaret Chin said in an e-mailed statement to The Villager, “My heart goes out to the family and friends of the young woman who lost her life last week. Pedestrian safety remains a top concern for the residents of Lower Manhattan. I applaud the decision by the Department of Transportation to revoke the permit of the bus company. We will need to continue to work hard to ensure that pedestrians can safely traverse Lower Manhattan.” Lower Manhattan has some of the most dangerous intersections in the city, according to NYCrosswalk, a site that compiles pedestrian-safety data at specific streets. According to the site, two local intersections are tied for second-most dangerous over all: Pike St. at East Broadway, and Centre St. at Canal St., each with four collisions in the last year. And in the Lower East Side, Little Italy and Soho, there were 826 pedestrians injured during a five-year span starting at the beginning of 2013, ac-

cording to data compiled by the Web site Localize.city, which examines city data by neighborhood. The site found Lower Manhattan to have three times the city’s rate of fatalities and injuries among pedestrians and cyclists during that span. Joe Cutrufo, communications director for the nonprofit Transportation Alternatives, which advocates for more walking and bicycling in the city and fewer vehicles, said Vision Zero is working, in light of the new record low for traffic deaths. “D.O.T. has a strong, data-driven approach to saving lives. They ought to double down on that,” he said. De Blasio has faced criticism for not endorsing congestion pricing to reduce cars in Manhattan, a policy endorsed by other officials including Governor Andrew Cuomo and Speaker Johnson. Transportation Alternatives supports congestion pricing, and Cutrufo said Lower Manhattan has too many cars. “It doesn’t make for a livable city to have our streets all clogged up like this, and a big part of that is safety,” he said. “We think that we can create a more livable city through congestion DEX

pricing.” Cutrufo added, “For a long time people have thought of congestion pricing and Vision Zero as two separate transportation ideas. But more cars equals more crashes. More congestion means more friction on the streets. You get safer, saner streets when you’re not dealing with chronic gridlock.” He noted that congestion pricing is often discussed as a way to raise money for the subways. That’s true, he said, “but that would take time. It would pay immediate safety dividends.” The city currently uses many programs aimed at increasing pedestrian safety, including Neighborhood Slow Zones that reduce speed limits from 30 to 20 miles per hour; speed cameras in school zones; and more public plazas that are blocked off from traffic. D.O.T. is also trying out a pilot program called Left Turn Traffic Calming, to reduce car speeds while making left turns. The department has said such turns cause three times more crashes than right turns because drivers have to navigate more traffic variables and tend to accelerate more when turning left. Januar y 10 - Januar y 23, 2019


Police Blotter FIRST PRECINCT Catty attacker On Thurs., Dec. 20, around 12:40 p.m., an unidentified female in a leopard-print coat approached a 51-yearold woman inside the bathroom at the Fulton and Nassau Sts. subway station, according to police. The unidentified woman demanded the victim’s coat, then pushed her up against the wall and punched her in the face. The victim was able to flee and subsequently took a cell-phone video of her attacker after observing her walking nearby. The suspect is described as black, in her late 20s to early 30s, around 5-feet6-inches tall and weighing 160 pounds. She was last seen wearing a hooded leopard-print jacket, ripped blue jeans with holes in the knees and pink leggings underneath with black boots. 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.


A photo of the thief who broke into the Prince St. Apple store and looted $74,000 in tech gear.

the day of the alleged shoplifting.

Mitsubishi flee Apple big bite

Police said a man stole more than $5,000 worth of clothes from boutique shop MCM, at 100 Greene St., on New Year’s Eve just before noon. The suspect, described as black, between 30 and 40 years old, grabbed garments near the front door and fled on Spring St. in a 2018 black Mitsubishi Outlander with New Jersey license plate number D34JAJ. Video footage caught him driving toward Brooklyn on the Manhattan Bridge, according to police. He was last seen wearing a black baseball cap, jeans and coat.

Police are still searching for a man who allegedly busted open a window at the Apple store at 103 Prince St. and stole nearly $74,000 in Apple products on Wed., Jan. 2 around 1 a.m. A 911 caller reported in the dead of night that a man broke in through the window and crawled through to take various iPads and iPhones, stuffi ng them into a black plastic garbage bag, according to the police report. The Apple store’s alarm apparently failed to go off, and two rocks were found at the the scene. The window-busting thief was described as a white man, around 35 years old, and was last seen wearing a black jacket, blue hooded sweatshirt, dark blue jeans, black shoes, gloves and a hat.

Never mind

Canal crew A 27-year-old man was walking on Canal St. toward the J train when four men allegedly snuck up from behind and struck him in the face around 1:30 a.m. on Thurs., Jan. 3. The quartet of muggers surrounded the victim, and one demanded, “Give me everything you have,” according to police. He gave the perps his cellphone and a Casio watch and ducked into a deli on Canal. The four suspects — whom the man


Januar y 10 - Januar y 23, 2019

This leopard coat-wearing woman pounced on another woman in the restroom at the Fulton and Nassau Sts. subway station, police said.

a man reportedly walked into luxury boutique Moncler at 99 Prince St., put on a $2,780 jacket over his own, and exited the store. He was described as black, 5-feet-10-inches tall, and around 170 pounds, according to the report. He was last seen wearing black jeans and sneakers and a green sweatshirt

described as two black and two Hispanic men — fled in an unknown direction.

New Year, new jacket On New Year’s Day around noon, DEX

A woman, 38, heading Downtown on the 4 train said she was getting off the subway at Fulton St. when someone allegedly grabbed her backpack off her shoulder and ran off through the train cars on Wed., Jan 2, around 7:30 p.m. The woman canceled all of her credit cards before anyone could make unauthorized purchases. But once police began reviewing camera footage at the stationhouse, she became hesitant to tell police more details, saying, “F--this! I don’t want to make a report,” and left, according to police.

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V.I.D. backs local favorite Yee for advocate 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 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



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


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

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, who are very, very different candidates,”

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 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.”

Push for nursing-home beds at Rivington House BY SYDNEY PEREIR A


fter Mt. Sinai Health System recently signed a letter of intent to lease Rivington House from Slate Property Group to relocate its behavioral-health center there, some Lower East Siders demanded more collaboration and input with the mammoth health provider on the project. Mt. Sinai is in the midst of expanding its Downtown services, and locals want them to collaborate on ways to add nursing-home beds to the neighborhood. Last Thurs., Jan. 3, hospital bigwigs explained the planned services for Rivington House at a Community Board 3 Health, Seniors & Human Services Committee meeting. Mt. Sinai plans to relocate its current behavioral-health center, Bernstein Pavilion, located on the eastern edge of Stuyvesant Square park, into Rivington House on Rivington St. between Eldridge and Forsyth Sts. Bernstein’s current services include inpatient psychiatric beds, detox and rehabilitation beds, outpatient mental


Januar y 10 - Januar y 23, 2019

— a rough and preliminary estimate, he stressed. A critical point of the center’s healthcare model is to integrate various services into one place, particularly for people with addictions and mental health issues. Often, Lim said, people struggling with both addiction and mental health issues have to find specific treatment at two different facilities. Under Mt. Sinai’s proposed model, different needs would be met under one roof. Interior renovations at Rivington could begin early next year and be complete by 2021. It is too soon to know exactly what would happen to the Bernstein facility after it is sold, but the profits would be reinvested in Downtown health efforts, according to the hospital. After a scare that the Rivington House would be demolished for luxury condos in a scandal that rocked the de Blasio administration, many in the community have been fighting for the building to be returned to a 24/7 care facility for locals with Alzheimer’s disease or other disabilities.

health and addiction clinics, ambulatory detoxification, and “Assertive Community Treatment,” or ACT, which is a specific health practice with myriad services for people diagnosed with severe mental health issues. Mt. Sinai plans to relocate those existing services to Rivington House, while adding about 10 intensive-crisis and respite beds, a partial hospitalization program and intensive outpatient program, mobile and in-home services, behavioral healthcare engagement teams and a primary-care unit, too. “This model of care will be a national model of care,” said Jeremy Boal, chief medical officer at Mt. Sinai. “I guarantee it.” The intensive-crisis and respite beds will be what Sabina Lim, Mt. Sinai’s chief of strategy for behavioral health, called a “therapeutic bed-and-breakfast” for patients dealing with drastic, acute life crises who need a short-term place to stay and recover. Boal estimated the facility could have 60 behavioral-health beds, 60 detox beds and another 10 crisis and respite beds DEX

“Everybody has those stories where there is someone close to you that is going to need that level of care, and to have that proximity is key,” said Debra JeffreysGlass, vice chairperson of C.B. 3’s Health Committee and a member of Neighbors to Save Rivington. However, others at the meeting felt as if two serious health-service needs — mental health/addiction treatment and nursing-home beds for the elderly — were being pitted against each other. Board 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer expressed skepticism about Slate, above all, charging its actions have always been “anti-community.” When Rivington House shuttered, more than 200 beds for 24/7 nursinghome care were lost. “This could be a win-win” if Mt. Sinai would pony up resources and collaborate on ways to add nursing-home beds for the Lower East Side neighborhood, said Jeffreys-Glass, stressing she was speaking for herself, not C.B. 3. “We’ve already made it clear that we’ve lost something that we’re trying to get back,” she said. Schneps Media

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Januar y 10, 2019


‘End Rikers’ commish: Transparency needed


Under Mayor de Blasio and the Cit y Council, the cit y is determined to close Rikers Island, above, and replace it with new jails in the individual boroughs.



he independent commission that originally spearheaded a plan to close Rikers Island released a progress report late last month. The update details how the city can meet its goals to reduce the city’s jail population by more than 3,000 people. The report comes just a few months before the city is expected to begin the public review process known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP, for its plans to site a community-based jail in each borough, except for Staten Island. The project is a part of a larger plan to close Rikers Island’s facilities by 2027, reduce the city’s jail population to around 5,000 people, and create a


Januar y 10 - Januar y 23, 2019

more humane jail system. The commission’s report says the city has not been transparent enough with the community, and recommends reducing the jail system’s total bed capacity from 6,040 to 5,500, as originally recommended by the commission. The report recommends designing smaller facilities and reexamining siting a fi fth one in Staten Island to reduce each jail’s size. “Reducing the number of beds will also help achieve the goal of smaller facilities that fit better with the neighborhoods,” said Tyler Nims, the executive director of the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform. “[That] is something that many of the communities have expressed con-

cerns about.” The shift to neighborhood-based jails has sparked intense community pushback in recent months. This recently led the city to change the planned location of the Lower Manhattan jail, which is now expected to be at 125 White St. at the Manhattan Detention Complex a.k.a. “The Tombs.” However, Nims added, “it’s much more than moving the real estate of jails in Rikers Island to other places.” “The next year is really going to be a decisive one both in Albany and here in the city as the land-use process goes forward,” he said. The report recommends passing state legislation to end cash bail, implementing stronger laws for speedy DEX

trials and discovery, and limiting jail time for alleged parole violations, all of which Nims said appears more likely with the new Democratic majority in the state Senate. The commission estimates these reforms could reduce the city’s jail population by more than 3,000 people. Already, the city has managed to reduce the jail population by more than 1,500 persons in the past two years. “In the big picture,” Nims said, “there’s been a lot of positive change that has happened over the past couple of years, and I think that we are really getting closer and closer to being in a position where the Rikers jails can be shut down.” Schneps Media









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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

x x x x

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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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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