V i s i t u s o n l i n e a t w w w .T h e V i l l a g e r. c o m
THE February 14, 2019 Volume 89 • Number 7
Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933 •
SHE’S TAKING TRUMP DOWN FOR THE COUNT INTERVIEW WITH CITY’S CENSUS CZAR JULIE MENIN Page 3
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Februar y 14, 2019
Menin is taking on Trump on Census, and more BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
ulie Menin’s star has kept rising since her days leading Lower Manhattan’s Community Board 1 as its chairperson in the aftermath of the devastating 9/11 attack. Now Menin’s civic career is poised to reach yet another highpoint as she shoulders critical new responsibilities — ones that will see her confronting the policies of the Trump administration head on. Namely, on Feb. 1 Menin was appointed both Census director of New York City and executive assistant corporation counsel for strategic advocacy. In a wide-ranging interview at her office in the Ed Sullivan Building, Menin explained her new roles, and their importance at this key moment in time. She’ll be moving to another office soon, but for now is still in the Theater District since she was until just recently commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. As Census director, or “Census Czar,” as she’s been dubbed, her new job will be to ensure that every city resident is counted. The population tally affects not only how many congressional representatives the city — and, thereby, the state — is allotted, but also how much funding New York gets for essential services and programs. Right now, though, a legal battle is being waged on whether the Census can have a citizenship question. Menin said the intent of the question — which last appeared on Census forms more than half a century ago — is clear: to create fear, plus withhold critical funding from blue states, and shift it to red ones. “We stand to lose two seats statewide in an undercount,” she stressed, adding, “It’s really a push by the Trump administration to change the makeup of the Electoral College. I honestly believe the stakes could not be higher around this Census.” The question was hastily added by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who claimed the Justice Department requested it to help enforce voting-rights laws. “It’s an attempt to repress the response in communities of color and immigrants across the city,” Menin charged. “The city is 38 percent immigrant. We’re a city of immigrants. When you ask someone, ‘Are you a U.S. citizen?’ We know what this is about.” The U.S. Constitution demands a population count every 10 years. Accurate Census data is used to formulate federal funding allocations for everything from programs like SNAP and WIC — for supplemental nutrition for low-income families — to the amount of vaccines for disease outbreaks New York City gets, to money for local senior centers, emergency preparedness, even coastal-resiliency projects. “There’s a pie, which is $700 billion of federal funding, and everyone is fighting for their share of it,” Menin explained. “So by asking a citizenship question, it fundamentally hurts blue progressive cities like New York City.” Plaintiffs challenging the citizenship question include Menin’s New York City Law Department (also known as the Corporation Counsel) and the New York State attorney general, as well as other states and municipalities. Because the case must be settled by June to meet a Census deadline, the Trump administration has asked to bypass the Appellate Division and appeal directly to the Supreme Court. A 277-page ruling on the case last month by U.S. District Court Judge Jesse Furman “lays a clear road map for the Supreme Court to strike it down,” Menin said of the citizenship query. “Judge Furman’s ruling could not have been stronSchneps Media
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Julie Menin is ready to throw down with President Trump on the Census, consumer protections and whatever else he may tr y to pull that could hur t New York City.
ger,” she said, noting the judge slammed the Trump administration’s last-minute move to add the citizenship question as “arbitrary and capricious.” If the citizenship question remains on the Census form, however, Menin’s office will lead an intensive citywide effort to reassure immigrants they can fill out the document without fear of retribution. “We’re going to organize the largest outreach on the Census in New York City history,” she vowed. “TV, radio, print [media], social media…then doorknocking, phone-banking. We will be setting up offices all across the city.”
‘The stakes could not be higher.’ Julie Menin
The city would partner with community groups and faith-based leaders, labor and civic groups and community boards to get the message out, Menin said. A key part of that message, she noted, would be that Title 13 bans the U.S. Census Bureau from sharing Census data — specifically, people’s personal information, such as Social Security numbers or addresses — with other agencies. Census Bureau employees are sworn for life to protect confidentiality. Anyone who violates that law can face a federal prison sentence of up to five years, a $250,000 fine, or both. In addition, for the first time ever, people will now be able to fill out their Census forms online. Under this process, in March 2020, people will first get a TVG
mailing containing a computer code they can use to complete the Census online. As people fill out the digital forms, it will provide “real-time data,” Menin noted. “We can see which communities aren’t filling it out, and can target them,” she said. There will be several mailers sent out from March to May, and one will be the hard-copy form, for individuals who have not submitted an online form. Census responses are due by end of July 2020. Manhattan’s Washington Heights and Inwood, both with a large Hispanic immigrant community, have boasted among the highest Census response rates in the city. “Why?” Menin said. “Because, for years, they have organized people to respond.” For the last Census, in 2010, Washington Heights had a 78.5 percent “mail return” response rate while Inwood had a 77 percent response. Meanwhile, Battery Park City’s last Census response rate was only 61.6 percent, while, similarly, in Soho/Tribeca/Civic Center/Little Italy it was 61.4 percent, and in the East Village, 62.6 percent. The West Village’s Census response rate in 2010 was a bit better, at 66.8 percent, and it was 67.2 percent in Hudson Yards/Chelsea/Flatiron/Union Square, while the Lower East Side had a 70.7 return rate. The always engaged Upper West Side had a strong 76.3 percent return rate. “It is about community organizing at its grassroots,” Menin stressed of the higher Uptown numbers. “The Downtown communities’ response rate has not been that great.” In fact, the citywide response rate for the 2010 Census was 59 percent, while the national rate was 71 percent. The second new hat Menin is wearing — executive assistant corporation counsel for strategic advocacy — will similarly see her going head to head with Trump and Co. Notably, Trump has weakened critical consumer protections, which must be restored, so that’s definitely going to be one battle, she said. In general, she’ll be working to respond to any Trump actions that could hurt the city. Menin is enjoying using her legal skills once again in her new role with the Corporation Counsel. Originally from the Washington, D.C., area, she came to New York to attend Columbia. She then got her law degree from Northwestern before returning to the city. “I love practicing law,” she said. “It’s wonderful getting back to that.” Of course, she’s best known locally for her two decades of community activism and civic engagement. “My heart is always with the community,” she said. She said she’ll always treasure the seven years she chaired C.B. 1, from 2005 to ’12, helping lead Lower Manhattan’s rebirth after the World Trade Center attack. She added that she remains proud, among other things, that C.B. 1 was “out in front” in supporting the “Ground Zero Mosque.” Ultimately, the ambitious plan ran into funding problems and a much smaller spiritual center was built. Under Menin, Board 1 also supported the right of Occupy Wall Street to camp out in Zuccotti Park. Flashing-forward, toward the end of her recent tenure heading MoME, the office of the “nightlife mayor” was created within the agency. Responding to skeptiMENIN continued on p. 5
Februar y 14, 2019
Police Blotter tall and 115 pounds.
Police arrested Robert Davis, 54, for allegedly stealing a 23-year-old CVS employee’s cell phone on Fri., Feb. 8, shortly before 5 a.m. Police say Davis stole the phone from the CVS at 360 Sixth Ave., between Washington and Waverly Places, after seeing it charging unattended in the store’s photo center. When the woman discovered her phone was missing, she immediately began tracking and forwarding its location to the police by using the “Find My iPhone” app. Cops were able to use that information to zero in on Davis and the phone Uptown in Hamilton Heights. In addition to the iPhone, police said they also found Davis in possession of three crack pipes and marijuana. The suspect also already had an active warrant for his arrest.
Parka perp Swedish outfitter Fjallraven’s flagship store on 38 Greene St. in Soho was broken into on Tues., Feb. 5, around 3:30 a.m. After breaking through the front door, the burglar, who is described as a black man, roughly 200 pounds and 6 feet tall, tried running away with four parkas valued at $500 apiece. Police have since recovered the coats but are still looking for the thief. COURTESY N.Y.P.D.
Police say this woman went on a shoplifting spree at the Diesel store on Spring St.
Leather lover Police are searching for a woman alleged to have robbed the clothing store Diesel’s Soho location at 135 Spring St. on Thurs., Feb. 7, around 3 p.m. The thief is said to have walked into the store and placed three leather jackets, three T-shirts and one pair of leather pants inside a bag before running out of the establishment. The items are reportedly worth around $4,500. The suspect is described in the police report as black with straight hair, around age 30 and about 5-feet-7-inches
contained $1,700 worth of Invisalign dental-braces products.
A 37-year-old man was arraigned Thurs., Feb. 7, for allegedly causing more than $2,000 worth of property damage at Dominique Ansel Kitchen on 137 Seventh Ave., between W. 10th and Charles Sts. The police report says that Michael Nieves walked into the restaurant, locked himself in the restroom and then proceeded to go ballistic on the door. As for why the guy decided to wreak havoc on the place’s restroom, the report quotes him saying, “I’m sorry. I could not get out.” Nieves was arrested at the scene. He is also currently on probation for another crime and is alleged by police to be a member of the Latin Kings gang.
‘It wasn’t swag?’ A 38-year-old West Village man who was entertaining guests at his apartment the evening of Sat., Feb. 9, discovered after everyone had left that his MacBook Pro was missing. Police later charged Edwin Torres, 46, for the theft.
Bracing bust Police arrested Hector Meijas, 58, on Wed., Nov. 28, for stealing a package from a West Village apartment building lobby. The package was addressed to a 29-year-old resident of the building and
Ninth Precinct Special (non)delivery Police announced on Feb. 12 that they are seeking the public’s help in identifying a clothing thief who struck recently in Noho. The robbery occurred Mon., Jan. 7, at 7 a.m., police said. A truck delivery employee, 54, told police he returned to his vehicle at 160 Crosby St., between Bleecker and E. Houston Sts., and saw that property was missing. Surveillance video from a short time earlier showed a man leaving the back of the delivery truck toting large boxes of clothing, estimated to be worth $1,300. Police released surveillance images of the suspect, who is described as white, 20 to 30 years old, and last seen wearing a black hoodie and blue pants. Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call the Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted on the CrimeStoppers Web site at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM, on Twitter @NYPDTips or by texting to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.
Police kill man on L.E.S. after knife attack BY GABE HERMAN
olice shot and killed a man on the Lower East Side Friday morning who was attacking his partner with a knife, officials said. Chief of Department Terry Monahan said that two officers responded to a domestic dispute just before 7 a.m. at 227 Cherry St., in the Two Bridges area just east of the Manhattan Bridge. The 911 call came from a 42-year-old transgender woman who said her boyfriend was trying to kill her, according to the New York Post. Monahan said the officers met the caller, who reportedly identifies as female, at the door of the sixthfloor apartment in the affordable portion of the new One Manhattan Square development, which is being built Extell. The affordable part of the project is a separate building next to the 72-story tower. They found the suspect, 32, in a closet. Monahan said he was “calm” as police escorted him toward the hallway.
Police provided this photo of the kitchen knife the attacker allegedly used. Cour tesy N.Y.P.D.
“Suddenly,” Monahan said, “this individual broke away from the officers, grabbed a large knife from the kitchen area and ran toward the 911 caller.” The man began stabbing his partner, and officers then shot him, ending the attack. The officers then immediately called for an ambulance and performed CPR on the man. He was taken to Beekman Downtown Hospital and pronounced dead at 8:01 a.m. The victim was taken to an area hospital and was being treated for slash wounds to the right side of the face and the left shoulder, along with a puncture wound to the right shoulder. Police said the victim is in stable condition and is expected to live. Monahan said there was a history of domestic violence between the couple, and an order of protection was in effect against the man. He also said that both responding police officers were wearing body cameras — the footage from which he had viewed — and that the investigation is ongoing.
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Februar y 14, 2019
Menin is taking on Trump MENIN continued from p. 3
cism from Downtown residents, Menin created a community advisory board to provide input. MoME also oversees permitting of on-location film shoots, another quality-of-life nuisance for many residents. Menin responded to complaints by creating a â€œHiatus Listâ€? to give relief to areas beset by too much filming. â€œThere are now over 800 blocks on this Hiatus List,â€? she said. â€œItâ€™s a sixmonth moratorium.â€? Before that, as commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs, Menin worked to decrease fines on small merchants, among other things. â€œWhen small businesses are being hurt,â€? she said, â€œcutting their fines by one-third â€” that really makes an enormous difference.â€? In the past, word was that Menin was interested in running for City Council, but would not try to unseat an incumbent. She eventually ran for Manhattan borough president, but no one could beat Gale Brewer, the longtime Upper West Side progressive icon. Asked if she plans to seek office again, Menin answered, â€œIâ€™m totally focused on the Law Department and doing this work on the Census â€” we have 18 months.â€? However, on Sunday, the New York
Post, albeit quoting an anonymous source, reported itâ€™s â€œan open secretâ€? Menin wants to run for Manhattan district attorney in 2021. Asked for a response, a Menin spokesperson said, again, â€œJulie is totally focused on the Census.â€? Menin also currently teaches a class at her alma mater Columbia, in its School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), called â€œWhen Cities Take the Lead.â€? Clearly timely, the course focuses on how cities â€œget involvedâ€? when the federal government is deregulating. A few years ago, the former Tribeca leader and her family moved to the Upper East Side after Meninâ€™s mother became ill and needed hospital care. She and her husband have four children, their youngest an 8-month-old. Meninâ€™s grandmother and her mother, then just an infant, hid in a cellar in Budapest and survived the Holocaust. Her grandfather and other relatives didnâ€™t make it. The horrors her family suffered make her â€œnot sweat the small stuffâ€? in life. â€œIt informs my life every single day,â€? she said. â€œIt puts things in perspective.â€? Menin said her own familyâ€™s experience also inspires her fight for immigrantsâ€™ rights, and is why the Census struggle means so much to her. â€œThis is personal for me,â€? she said.
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Februar y 14, 2019
Diaz pressed to resign for ‘gay control’ rant BY MATT TR ACY
ocal elected officials and advocates braved the snowy conditions outside City Hall on Tuesday morning to demand the resignation of Bronx Councilmember Ruben Diaz, Sr., who remains defiant in his refusal to step down or even apologize for his recent homophobic remarks. The City Council took direct action against Diaz the following day when lawmakers voted 45 to 1 to dissolve his Committee on For-Hire Vehicles. “We must all call for his resignation, and he must go,” said openly gay Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens, who said Diaz’s comments about L.G.B.T.Q. folks controlling the City Council represented “an attempt to put us in our place.” “I believe firmly that Councilmember Diaz’s comments embolden those who already hate us,” he added. “So we are not just speaking out against those comments, we are speaking for those L.G.B.T.Q. youth in the Bronx or otherwise who might be struggling with their sexual orientation or identity. His comments cannot be internalized by them.” Diaz has claimed in recent days — including in an interview with Schneps Media’s Gay City News — that he is the “victim” in the ongoing saga stemming from his insensitive comments. Van Bramer fired back, saying Diaz is doubling down on his hatred. “He says we are bullying him,” Van Bramer said. “I call bullshit.” Two other L.G.B.T.Q. members of the City Council, Carlos Menchaca of Brooklyn and Daniel Dromm of Queens, also spoke against Diaz at the event. Menchaca, the first openly gay councilmember from his borough and the first Mexican-American to serve on the City Council, offered a personal story of his own experience growing up in a religious atmosphere in El Paso, Texas. “I grew up around people like him, the way that he speaks about his religion,” Menchaca said. “This is
PHOTO BY MATT TRACY
Bronx Councilmember Ruben Diaz, Sr. — seen above during an inter view with sister paper Gay Cit y News — is def ying calls for his resignation.
why he belongs in a church somewhere else spewing his hate, not in the City Council.” Also present were Brooklyn Councilmember Jumaane Williams and former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who are both running for public advocate, as well as Councilmembers Rory Lancman of Queens and Mark Levine of Manhattan. Dromm brought with him a letter he wrote in 1994 to the Civil Complaint Review Board in which he demanded Diaz’s removal from the police-oversight agency because he said gay men and lesbians were “cursed,” made derogatory statements about the threat that year’s Gay Games in New York posed for
increased H.I.V. transmissions, and said gays and lesbians fall into the same category as “thieves, slanderers, murderers, idolaters, drug addicts, misers, swindlers and criminals.” In that letter, Dromm also noted that Diaz mocked then-City Councilmember Tom Duane, who, along with the late Antonio Pagán, served as the first openly gay members of the Council. According to the letter, Diaz said, “Does he [Duane] think I would tremble with fear, and run and kneel before this insignificant uncircumcised Philistine?” Williams stressed the egregious nature of Diaz’s comments, saying that he has never before called for a public official’s resignation. Even worse, he said, is Diaz’s refusal to apologize. “There is no room there for us to grow and to learn,” Williams said. Notably absent from the event were the Council’s other two L.G.B.T.Q. members, Speaker Corey Johnson of Chelsea and Ritchie Torres of the Bronx. The evening before, Johnson publicly called on Diaz to resign, while Torres, in a tweet, said he “must be held accountable for poisoning the political atmosphere with his homophobic conspiracy theories.” Some politicians took some swipes at Bronx leaders and at Johnson for his role in helping Diaz secure his spot as chairperson of the now-erased For-Hire Vehicles Committee. “You have a Bronx party that embraced him,” said Mark-Viverito, who has apparently soured on Diaz, Sr., of late since she appeared happy to embrace him in a 2017 photo when she received a citation of merit from his son, Ruben Diaz, Jr., Bronx borough president. “You have a speaker that gave him a committee and gave him an assignment. This is unacceptable.” Johnson, speaking from Albany after his testimony on the budget, said on Monday that Diaz should step down. He also said in a tweet on Sunday that the City Council is “currently reviewing all potential disciplinary scenarios” and that “nothing is off the table.”
Whitney comes under ﬁre on ‘tear gas trustee’ BY GABE HERMAN
rotests have continued against the Whitney Museum since a November report that a board member owns a company that makes tear gas that has been used against asylum seekers along the U.S.-Mexico border. Warren B. Kanders, listed by the Whitney as a vice chairperson on its board of trustees, is also the C.E.O. of Safariland. The company manufactures and distributes law-enforcement products, including some used along the border, according to a November report by Hyperallergic. The Whitney also lists Kanders as a significant supporter of its current Andy Warhol exhibit. Days after the report, 95 Whitney staff members signed a letter to museum leadership demanding a response and that Kanders be asked to resign. The group wrote that the situation with Kanders is “demonstrative” of larger problems at the Meatpacking District museum.
Februar y 14, 2019
The same day, Kanders wrote a letter to the Whitney board of trustees. “Safariland’s role as a manufacturer is to ensure the products work, as expected, when needed,” he wrote, in part. “Safariland’s role is not to determine when and how they are employed. The staff letter implies that I am responsible for the decision to use these products. I am not. That is not an abdication of responsibility, it is an acknowledgement of reality.” A Jan. 26 town hall at The Cooper Union was organized by several protest groups. Among them were Decolonize This Place, which participated in a December demonstration at the Whitney. Other groups involved in the town hall were Chinatown Art Brigade and WAGE, a local activist group that advocates for better payments to artists. WAGE has asked artists to withhold content from the upcoming Whitney Biennial in May until museum staff demands related to Kanders are met, and until the artists are guaranteed compensation for their work.
“We…understand the nuanced and vital relationship any nonprofit has to its board,” the wrote. “But we believe that this recently aired knowledge about Mr. Kanders’ business is demonstrative of the systemic injustice at the forefront of the Whitney’s ongoing struggle to attract and retain a diverse staff and audience.” The Whitney did not respond to The Villager’s request for comment. But in early December, Whitney Director Adam Weinberg responded to the open letter, according to ARTnews. He did not discuss if Kanders’s position would change. “We have fashioned this protected space together through mutual trust, respect, openness and discussion even when opinions differ,” he wrote, in part. “We respect the right to dissent as long as we can safeguard the art in our care and the people in our midst. As one director colleague describes the contemporary museum, it is ‘a safe space for unsafe ideas.’ This is the democracy of art.” TVG
At the town hall, which included a big banner reading, “Warren Kanders Must Go,” Betty Yu, co-founder of the Chinatown Art Brigade, called out the museum. “Whitney Museum, shame on you to those in power,” she said. “Shame on you for your inaction… . You are complicit in the violation of peoples’ basic human rights.” A man from Decolonize This Place said, “We know Whitney is not an exception. We know if it’s happening at the Whitney, it’s happening elsewhere. We know that the idea of money — and bad money — in art is prevalent.” The three groups will host two events billed as direct-action trainings, “dedicated to skill sharing and workshopping ideas for an escalation calendar of actions starting in March and building toward the opening of the 2019 Whitney Biennial in May,” according to Decolonize This Place. The trainings are scheduled for Feb. 16 and March 3 at 20 Cooper Square. Schneps Media
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Februar y 14, 2019
Say it ain’t so, Trader Joe’s! Ending deliveries BY ALEJANDR A O’CONNELLDOMENECH
rader Joe’s will stop delivering to homes in Manhattan by March 1, the California-based supermarket chain announced earlier this week. The company has been delivering to Manhattan residents for the last 10 years. Some older and mobility-impaired customers will be particularly impacted by the company’s decision. “It’s difficult for me to even carry up four flights a half-gallon of milk,” Joan Reese, a senior who depends on deliveries from the E. 14th St. Trader Joe’s, said in an e-mail. But, according to the national chain, the cost of offering delivery service threatened the future quality of store products, which was something the company was unwilling to compromise on. Bobby Kendall, Trader Joe’s regional vice president, laid out the store’s thinking in an e-mail to a concerned local customer, who forwarded it to this newspaper. “Unfortunately, we’ve arrived at a moment when we’re faced with the choice between offering the [delivery] service for an unreasonable price, raising the prices on our products or no longer offering the service,” he said. So the company decided to sacrifice the convenience of some for the sake of
A new Trader Joe’s opened in Hudson Square, at Spring St. east of Sixth Ave., last May. File photo
the many. The company’s eight Manhattan locations have been the only ones in New York City to offer delivery. When Trader Joe’s first got a toehold in New York City, it only had one location in the city — on E. 14th St. between Third and Fourth Aves. — and options for transporting food were nothing like what they are today, the company said in a statement. The store’s dropping delivery service comes at a time when online grocery sales are skyrocketing.
According to reporting by Business Insider, online grocery sales in the United States last year reached $24 billion and are expected to reach $60 billion in 2023. Companies like Walmart, Kroger, Costco, Aldi and Whole Foods Market are spending billions on the online grocery market. Online grocery sales are expected to make up 20 percent of total grocery retail by 2025, according to a recent study by The Food Market Institute. But despite the ongoing surge in on-
line grocery shopping, 87 percent of people still prefer to do their shopping in stores. Kenya Friend-Daniel, a Trader Joe’s spokesperson, said, “We recognize this decision may represent a challenge to customers who have been using the [delivery] service.We assure them we are always evaluating how we do things, with our customers being top of mind, and we will continueto consider options that support their shopping and also allow us to maintain our commitment of value.”
Fie on foie gras! Rivera calls for pâté ban BY ALEJANDR A O’CONNELLDOMENECH
ouncilmember Carlina Rivera has introduced a bill that would make foie gras illegal in New York City. “In the New York City Council, we aim to pass commonsense legislation every day, Rivera said in a statement. “I can think of nothing more commonsense than ending the egregious practice of selling a luxury food item made from the gruesome abuse of animals.” Foie gras is made from fattened goose or duck livers produced by forcefeeding the birds corn via a long metal tube down their throats. Humans have engaged in the practice, known as gavage, for centuries. Ancient Egyptians are credited with being among the first do it, cramming a surplus of food down the throats of geese, ducks, cranes, cows and even hyenas with the intention of harvesting their fatty livers. Animal-rights activists have long railed against the inhumane treatment these birds endure to create the luxury food item.
Februar y 14, 2019
A wallet-forcing foie gras sandwich at Le Petit Parisien, which goes for more than $30.
In 2009, the Animal Protection and Rescue League held a protest at the East Village restaurant Momofuku, calling on it and all other restaurants to stop serving foie gras. According to reporting from Gothamist, David Chang, owner of Momofuku Noodle Bar, at 171 First Ave., among other restaurants, viewed the
anti-foie gras movement as “highly misguided.” Chang stated that the ducks on the Hudson Valley farm where he got his foie gras from “live a good life, free of cages and with plenty of area to roam.” “It is hypocritical,” Sakis Pitsionas, owner of Le Petit Parisien, at 32 E. Seventh St., told this paper. AccordTVG
ing to the restaurateur, chickens, pigs and cows, which humans eat on a much larger scale, are treated just as poorly in this country as the force-fed geese are. Yet there have been no bans proposed on consuming them. “I find this very authoritarian,” Pitsionas said, adding, “Let’s see in a few years what is going to be available to eat. Schneps Media
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Februar y 14, 2019
D\[`ZXcDXcgiXZk`Z\ Medical malpractice cases all have at least one thing in common: allegations that a healthcare provider violated the governing standard of care, resulting in injury, or possibly even death. Here, that standard involves the laws of the State of New York. There are a variety of cases that fall under medical malpractice, all that result from either an action taken by a healthcare provider, or an omission from action by a healthcare provider. Nonetheless, it has led to irreparable harm to a patient due to some form of negligence, and therefore legal redress will be owed to the patient. Examples of medical malpractice cases include: failure to diagnose a medical condition or disease on time or at all, misdiagnosis of a medical condition or disease, lack of or inappropriate medical treatment, and surgical errors and complications. Damages for medical malpractice include economic recovery for the victim to make them whole again for lost wages, the cost of medical care, other out-of-pocket medical expenses, and even for pain and suffering resulting from the injury. Not only can the victim recover, but so can their spouse, and, in death cases, the next of kin can recover for their loss. Additionally, in New York, there is no cap for damages that can be awarded for a medical malpractice case. It is also important to note that there is a Statue of Limitations on medical malpractice claims, which means that the claim must be brought within a certain amount of time within the injury having occurred, or else the claim could be barred. In New York, the Statute of Limitations for a medical malpractice claim is 30 months, or
PHOTO BY GABE HERMAN
Margaret Chin speaking at the first Soho/Noho rezoning meeting.
Soho/Noho zoning angst BY GABE HERMAN
he first public meeting of the Soho/Noho rezoning process on Feb. 6 had moments of chaos and tension as residents wanted more information about officials’ motives, and expressed concerns that their opinions were being heard. The meeting’s format surprised many with its informal town hall style, without presentations or microphones. It was held in a ground-floor space at P.S. 130 at 143 Baxter St. Jonathan Martin, a senior associate at BFJ Planning, stood in the center of the room as dozens of locals stood around. He explained the six-month process involving input from the community and an advisory group of local organizations. Martin and BFJ were hired for consulting by the initiators of the process, City Councilmember Margaret Chin, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and the Department of City Planning. Martin was frequently interrupted with questions about the motives behind the process, and why more information hadn’t been given about it and the meeting until the last minute. Some angrily interjected that Soho and Noho’s zoning is just fine as it is but that the city just needs to make sure it is being followed. The area has a special requirement for joint live-work quarters for artists (J.L.W.Q.A.) under which a resident of a unit must be a certified artist. “We need enforcement,” one person shouted out. Another said of the area, “Why do people keep saying it needs to be improved?” Martin pointed out the four stations set up around the room for feedback and opinions, which also had data charts of the neighborhood. Joan Melnick, a painter and Noho resident since 1969, told Martin the city has a history of changing zoning without community input.
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“I will not stand for change in the zoning,” she declared to applause. She told The Villager later, “I’ve seen so much happen over these years, how artists have been pushed out by developers. The community has been decimated.” Nevertheless, she thought good could come from the initial chaos and confusion. “If anything, it’s bringing the whole community together,” she said. Chin thanked everyone for coming, but was met with some hostility from the crowd. The councilmember said many illegal things were happening in the neighborhood and she was tired of reviewing special permits. “It’s not just about enforcement, we tried that,” she said. The crowd then dispersed to fill out opinion sheets. Brewer later stood on a chair to address the meeting, saying she wanted affordable housing, including for artists, added to the mix for a rezoning. Meanwhile, Democratic State Committeemember Christopher Marte announced an organizing effort to focus the community’s response. Chin told The Villager that feedback she heard included concern about affordable artists housing being preserved, which she said was a priority for her. “That’s how Soho was created, so we don’t want to lose that creative spirit and energy,” she said. Chin said the meeting’s format wasn’t ideal. “We’ll do better next time,” she assured. A BFJ staff member said the feedback from the first meeting would inform what issues are discussed in future public meetings, and their format. A Web site for the process, envisionsohonoho.nyc, is now live. The next meeting is billed as “Thematic Public Workshop 1” on Thurs., Feb. 28, time and location to be announced. Schneps Media
Will new cracks break old P.S. 64 stalemate? BY SAR AH FERGUSON
ocal leaders are pressuring Mayor de Blasio to follow through with his pledge to buy back the former P.S. 64 school building in the East Village, after a crack spotted on its east wall forced the temporary evacuation of four neighboring tenements on Wednesday. Although city inspectors later ruled the building did not pose an imminent hazard, residents on E. 10th St., who were forced out of their homes in the cold for hours, fear it’s only a matter of time before something worse happens. “This is a blight on the city and the Lower East Side,” declared East Village Councilmember Carlina Rivera at a rally Thursday outside the crumbling, turn-of-the century landmark. The building has stood empty and in disrepair for the last 20 years due to the city’s protracted stalemate with the owner, Gregg Singer, who has been seeking to convert it to a multi-school dormitory. In 2006, Singer went so far as to hack off the terracotta trim from the building’s ornate dormer windows in a failed effort to block the landmarking of the school — a tactic that left the windows and large areas of brick exposed to the elements. “At this point, it’s not just an eyesore, it’s a danger to our community,” said Rivera, pointing to the more than 30 open violations for everything from unsafe scaffolding to cracks in the facade and masonry. Rivera and the area’s other elected officials are now using the building’s deteriorating conditions as leverage to pressure de Blasio to restore it as a community and arts facility along the lines of CHARAS/El Bohio, the Puerto Rican-run center that occupied the building before former Mayor Rudy Giuliani sold it to Singer at auction in 1998. “It’s going to take another mayor to change this and do the right thing,” City Comptroller Scott Stringer declared at Thursday’s press conference. “We need Mayor de Blasio to keep his word,” he said, referring to the offer de Blasio made during a 2017 campaign forum to “look into reacquiring” the building for the community. Stringer said he would make restoring the building a top priority during his budget briefing with the mayor, and after the rally, a spokesperson confirmed that he had already spoken to de Blasio about it. State Senator Brad Hoylman accused Singer of engaging in a strategy of “demolition by neglect.” “Mayor de Blasio, honor your promise,” he told the news cameras. “Let’s save CHARAS before it’s too late.” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said the building would be a
Developer Gregg Singer walks through the vacant former old P.S. 64 last Wednesday after a crack on the building’s facade forced the evacuation of nearby buildings on E. 10th St.
PHOTOS BY SARAH FERGUSON
A crack atop the building’s nor theast corner, at upper left, on E. 10th St. that caused the building evacuations.
“perfect opportunity” for eminent domain. A spokesperson for the mayor said: “We’re in contact with representatives for the owner and we are exploring options with them. Just what options the mayor has is unclear. Singer has repeatedly said he has no interest in selling. On Thursday, a spokesperson for Singer blasted the notion of the city reclaiming the building for some as-yet-to-be-identified group or use as “un-American and unconstitutional.” “It is fundamentally wrong for the government to sell property at public auction and then demand it back, just so it can hand it over to another private owner as a political favor,” said Singer’s PR rep Nicole Epstein in an e-mail to The Villager.
If the city were to pursue eminent domain, it would have to pay market value for the property, which Singer purchased for a scant $3.15 million. Singer told The Villager he has spent more than $50 million on maintenance, legal costs and his ongoing efforts to market and develop the property — monies he claims he’d have to be compensated for. In fact, Singer claims the city could be liable for up to $250 million if a judge were to consider the value of the building “built out” — a figure that State Assemblyman Harvey Epstein called “ludicrous” when told about it at Thursday’s rally. Nevertheless, Epstein believes it would be worthwhile to reacquire the 152,000-square-foot property, even it means paying Singer many times what
he bought it for. “If we lose this building, we lose it forever,” Epstein argued. “Our schools don’t have gyms. We need space for after-school programs. We need this. We’re already losing so much community space,” he added, pointing to the pending sale of the Boys Club on Avenue A. Singer for his part blamed the city for the building’s deteriorating conditions. “How can I fi x the building if they won’t give me a building permit?” he demanded. “We are in court trying to get a judge to force the city to issue a building permit because the city refuses to issue it. “None of this would be happening if the city would just let me move forward with the dorm plan,” he said. “It’s so silly.” He accused city and elected officials of overplaying safety concerns as a ploy to force him out of the building. “This is a pressure tactic,” he told The Villager on Wednesday when the block was still cordoned off by police and fire officials. “They want us to give up and sell the building back. It’s all bullshit. There’s no imminent danger. Everything is the same as it’s been.” Singer said the crack snaking down the eastern facade had “been there for years,” and said a private surveyor had recently told him the school was in relatively “good shape” for an empty building. Ever the salesman, Singer even invited this reporter inside the gutted husk of the former school to lobby for the benefits of his “University House” dorm scheme. “It’s perfect for the community,” he said. “It’s perfect for the stores. Right now there’s a lot of [store] vacancy. They need people, and the students need space,” he maintained. As he spoke, he stood in the former office of CHARAS, which has been refurbished with clean white tables and colorful renderings of the swanky dorm suites and recreation rooms. Outside, Singer was confronted by a neighboring property owner. “What’s going on?” demanded Ricky Seltzer, who owns a four-story tenement adjacent to the old school. “You’re depreciating all the property values on the block,” she told the developer. “I’ve been standing in the cold for five hours. What am I going to tell my tenants? God forbid something happens. I can’t have this on my conscience. I have to take out extra insurance because of you,” she railed. One of her tenants, Jason Goodrow, was eyeing the large crack on the top northeastern corner of the school, which is directly above his bedroom window. “I have two small children, so it’s alarming on a daily basis,” he said. Februar y 14, 2019
E DI T O R I A L Post-‘L-pocalypse’
tate Senator Brad Hoylman last week announced he’s in favor of the “busway” plan for 14th St. during what he dubbed the upcoming “L-train slowdown.” Hoylman’s also calling for keeping the new crosstown bike lanes that have been installed on 12th and 13th Sts. and the HOV lanes that were planned for traffic across the Williamsburg Bridge, all of this as part of the plan to address the L stoppage. Other local officials have made similar comments, to greater or lesser degrees, such as Councilmember Keith Powers and Manhattan Borough President. The repairs of the L-train tubes under the East River will now be done only on weeknights and weekends, and one of the tubes will remain open at all time. At least this is according to the plan Governor Andrew Cuomo announced earlier this year, and as far as we know, this is what is going to happen. We support Cuomo’s plan — but, above all, it must be safe, in terms of the tunnel structure’s integrity and also in not exposing commuters to toxic silica dust from the jackhammering of some of the concrete “bench walls” in the tunnel during the repairs. The L plan as previously presented always did seem like overkill. It felt like a huge experiment being foisted on residents, commuters, drivers, cyclists, businesses...everyone. It was essentially a Transportation Alternatives plan plopped on the L-tunnel repairs. There was no convincing reason why all the tunnel-repair work had to be done in one 15-month fell swoop. And the notion of an “L-pocalpyse” — though a catchy sound bite — always seemed wildly exaggerated. Let’s face it, straphangers would have just taken other trains. It’s New York. People deal with it and get on with their lives. Plus, this part of Manhattan — the Village and Chelsea — has some of the densest transit infrastructure around. Fourteenth St. has a central transit hub right smack in its middle, at Union Square. That said, better bus service is always needed. Should that be Select Bus Service? SBS hasn’t exactly been a success on 23rd St. It’s a question that should be put up for discussion, just like all the rest. Advocates for the full-shutdown plan always say how exemplary the “outreach” process was. But seriously, the Metropolitan Transportation and Department of Transportation were just going to do what they wanted to do anyway. All that said, the unprotected bike lanes that were already out there on Ninth and 10th Sts. aren’t the safest. But the opposition to the new 12th and 13th St. lanes in the Village is intense. In short, before our politicians all “get onboard” the busway, for one, we need to ensure there is a real discussion about the entire alternative-service plan, as it was previously known — and we mean a REAL discussion this time around. And what exactly justifies a busway from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. if there is full L-train service on weekdays? More to the point, cars displaced by the 14th St. busway would just wind up going down nearby narrow side streets, creating congestion there. The goal of reducing vehicle traffic is laudable. And the more ferries the better. But the M.T.A.’s alternative-service plan was too draconian and too much of an imposition. Too much all at once. This is an opportunity to restart this whole process — and do it right this time, in a way that really includes the community.
Februar y 14, 2019
Letters to the Editor Singer family tradition To The Editor: Re “Will new cracks in facade break old P.S. 64 stalemate?” (news article, thevillager.com, Feb. 8): I offered to buy the Boys Club on 10th St. and Avenue A and lease it to the City of New York but they weren’t interested. “No need for a community center,” they said. My family is from the Lower East Side. My greatgrandfather, Louis Singer, gave up his land and building for his nonprofit named Home of Old Israel, which provided free housing, meals and services for the aged, and gave it to New York City in 1929, so they could build Gouverneur Hospital. Then Louis purchased the old Beth Israel Hospital for the Home of Old Israel. In 1965, Jacob Singer, my grandfather, gave up the property so the city could build the LaGuardia Houses. Jacob moved the Home to a 1,100-unit apartment complex he built in Far Rockaway called Seagirt Village. In the 1970s the family merged the Home into JASA (Jewish Association Serving the Aging). The Singer family works with government when it is legitimate. The City of New York has a major need for affordable student housing, and we had The Cooper Union college and Adelphi University with signed leases. The city response was there were no assurances the building would be a dorm. Fake News is Alive in the East Village. The city wants to give the building to Aaron Sosnick, who has paid millions to local politicians and nonprofits to be against the dorm so he can build a dorm. See the history at www.oldps64.com . Gregg Singer
Gansevoort park process To The Editor: Re “Designer picked for park (with beach) at Gansevoort” (news article, Feb. 7): We hope that the community is as excited as we are to have selected a world-class landscape architect for Gansevoort Peninsula, which we think will be one of the great public spaces in the city when it’s finished in 2022. But before anything is designed, we’re eager to start meeting with community members to hear what they would like to see in the park. We know there will be lots of opinions about our “beach,” in particular — and we’re excited to hear them! Then
REPORTER GABE HERMAN
Publisher of The Villager, Villager Express, Chelsea Now, Downtown Express and Manhattan Express PRESIDENT & PUBLISHER VICTORIA SCHNEPS-YUNIS
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we’ll work with our engineers and designers to come up with a feasible design that’s responsive to what we’ve heard from the community, sensitive to the environment, and which protects the peninsula from erosion. And finally, just for clarity’s sake, while the New York Post elected to reference the Citizens Water Quality Testing Program in its Gansevoort coverage, the Hudson River Park Trust has not made any references to the Citizens Water Quality Testing Program in any of its press materials or reporter conversations around the Gansevoort design or beach announcements. We look forward to hearing from the community as the design process unfolds. Madelyn Wils Wils is president and C.E.O., Hudson River Park Trust
Joe, please reconsider! To The Editor: Re “Say it ain’t so, Trader Joe’s! Ending deliveries” (news article, thevillage.com, Feb. 7): A friend called to spread the news that our favorite supermarket chain known for its super selection, and “low markup” pricing has decided to stop delivery service. I am a senior and am in a wheelchair (with limited income) and I shop at this wonderful store every few weeks. I have an aide and we fill a shopping cart piled high with several weeks’ supply of frozen food and other essentials, which at any other supermarket would cost much more. Until now we paid a nominal fee for delivery. Carrying that amount of food would be impossible. I have a friend who had two knee surgeries and lives in a fifth-floor walk-up. She shops at this store and also is most upset by the decision to halt deliveries. There are many of us who depend on this store and rely on their great prices and selection but need delivery service. So, how about it, Joe? Gloria Sukenick 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: firstname.lastname@example.org © 2019 Schneps Media
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Wanted: Candidates who’ll ﬁght big real estate have the reflex to turn down a $1,000 donation from the Real Estate Board of New York and a few other real estate guys. And Kim has his own real estate issues about owning condos and paying taxes. (See Crain’s, “Public advocate failed to disclose condos and upstate house.”) Troubling, Kim actually worked as a lobbyist before running for office. So if your sniff test is “no real estate money,” “no special-interest money,” “no bad land-use votes” and “not part of the business-as-usual party machinery” then only two candidates are left, Konst and Eisenbach, both of whom would make a fine public advocate. (Full disclosure: I have given to both of them.)
BY LYNN ELLSWORTH
he crowded public advocate race has made me jealous of the congressional voters over in Queens. They got Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez upsetting the applecart of New York City — and now the country’s — machine politics, a win that has been a riveting spectacle. Wouldn’t it be great to get more of that for city government? At first thought, we have reason to hope. After all, the 2021 election is coming up and more than half the City Council seats will be up for grabs. Alas, if the public advocate race is any indication of the future, my hopes are too high. The race is rife with termlimited politicians, machine pols and recipients of real estate money. We have no less than five City Council veterans (Rafael Espinal, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Eric Ulrich, Ydanis Rodriquez and Jumaane Williams) and three state Assemblymembers (Michael Blake, Ron Kim and Danny O’Donnell) all trying to play musical chairs with elected positions. The City Council veterans on the list have a special credibility problem. Not only do they take serious money from big real estate, but they voted to upzone the entire city against widespread community opposition. Three of them actually sold out their own neighborhoods for a de Blasio upzoning that was fiercely opposed by their own constituents. They also voted in favor of big real estate’s anti-landmarking bill Intro 775, overruling massive community opposition. How exactly are these recycled pols going to make credible public advocates? The sniff test of “who takes real estate money and who doesn’t” leaves a few candidates standing: David Eisenbach, Nomiki Konst, Dawn Smalls and Ben Yee — and to a lesser extent Kim and O’Donnell. The two women, Smalls and Konst, passed the first of the Campaign Finance Law’s funding thresholds and got into the public debate. In Small’s case, her money comes from a loose network of Democratic Party elites and big-shot lawyers: 24 percent of her cash comes from out-ofstate donors while 26 percent comes from colleagues at Hudson Yards-based law firm of Boie Schiller Flexner LLP. From a community point of view, that does not look so promising. What does the Democratic Party elite care about us? Are they just trying to position Smalls for some other office? That leaves Konst, an investigative journalist and activist. Konst lived up Schneps Media
David Eisenbach, an advocate for the Small Business Jobs Sur vival e that the writer thinks ha Act, is one candidate has the right stuff to be public advocate.
Nomiki Konst, because of her position on not taking real estate campaign contributions, is another candidate who passes the writer’s “sniff test” criteria.
to a pledge not to take real estate money, which is not surprising given her anti-big real estate stance, but she has raised enough cash to be viable. Two other candidates — Yee and Eisenbach — are struggling to make the finance board’s thresholds. To his credit, Yee doesn’t have developer donors but he is literally part of the Democratic machine: He is secretary of the New York County Democratic Party and a Democratic State Committee
man. Eisenbach is a community-oriented historian running for the advocate’s seat a second time. He has lived up to a promise not to take real estate money and has reliably showed up at community land-use battles. O’Donnell hasn’t taken a lot of real estate money, but then, our research shows he did take a lot of money from the hotel and liquor lobbies. Kim doesn’t take huge amounts of developer dollars per se. But he didn’t TVG
‘We are disgusted with machine politics.’
What the public advocate race is revealing is this: As the 2021 elections approach, we desperately need a popular, nonpartisan “clean government” movement. Many of us are sick of the way real estate interests dominate our city. We are angry that our city politicians are progressive in every way except when it comes to zoning. We are disgusted with machine politics and party elites deciding things. We want new blood running for city offices, people who will stand up to the bullying habits of the real estate lobby and stop making terrible deals with them. We want candidates who will fight to democratize our city. So if you are an “outsider” who still actually believes in democracy and are thinking of running, please run for City Council or borough president! And if you are a voter who is sick of business as usual, take the Human-Scale NYC Voter Pledge not to support candidates who take real estate money. Sign the pledge and keep up with our research on who takes real estate money at www.humanscale.nyc . Ellsworth is chairperson, Tribeca Trust, and president, Human-Scale NYC Februar y 14, 2019
Bad trip for â€˜Hendrix Wayâ€™ sign experience BY RICO BURNEY
ack in November 2017, The Villager reported on a widely circulated online petition to co-name W. Eighth St. between Fifth and Sixth Aves â€œJimi Hendrix Way.â€? A little more than one year and 20,000 signatures later, the effort looks to have stalled like â€œcrosstown traffic.â€? Despite the large outpouring of support, which includes more than 4,000 New York City residents, the co-naming campaign currently appears to have virtually no one pushing for it on the block where guitar great Hendrix established the Electric Lady recording studio and lived for a brief period toward the end of his life. This is largely the result of two of the petitionâ€™s most vocal supporters, business owners Richard Geist of Uncle Samâ€™s Army Navy Outfitters and Storm Ritter of Storm Ritter Studios, both closing their W. Eighth St. stores late last year. With Geist and Ritter gone and no other business owners or community
members taking up the cause since then, the effort seems to have lost the leadership needed to turn the idea into a reality. However, Geist did suggest in one interview that the campaign struggled even when he and Ritter were leading the charge. In fact, according to Jeremiah Mossâ€™s Vanishing New York blog, the tepid response from other businesses on the block and the Village Alliance â€” the local business improvement district that never took a stance on the idea â€” was one of the reasons why he decided to leave W. Eighth St. â€œ[The Village Alliance] told me, â€˜What did Jimi Hendrix ever do for Eighth St.?â€™â€? Geist said in an interview with Moss just before closing the store in December. Anecdotal reports said some frowned on co-naming the street after Hendrix because, along with his incredible music, he is also heavily associated with the 1960s-era â€œdrug culture.â€? Other local stakeholders were very circumspect about their thoughts on the
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Richard Geist, left, and Storm Ritter, seen above in late 2017, led a campaign to co-name W. Eighth St. Jimi Hendrix Way. But despite an online petition that keeps gaining suppor ters to this day, the overall effor t appears stalled.
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co-naming proposal, creating a â€œpurple hazeâ€? of confusion about where they stood on the issue. The petition effortâ€™s future looks even dimmer considering that Community Board 2 generally does not recommend approval for most street co-naming applications. Specifically, the boardâ€™s guidelines state that those honored with a street co-naming should have â€œa longstanding direct presence and relationship with the community (preferably at least 10 years of community involvement) in the vicinity of the proposed co-naming,â€? and that the board typically denies street conamings for entertainers who are mainly known for their work outside of the boardâ€™s district.
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These are merely guidelines, though, not rules. Therefore, C.B. 2 could still recommend that the areaâ€™s city councilmember, Corey Johnson, introduce legislation to co-name the block for the â€œFoxy Ladyâ€? singer if there is enough local support. But that support appears to be lacking at this time. Nevertheless, not all advocates for the effort are experiencing â€œmaniac depressionâ€? over the current situation. One early supporter wrote in an e-mail that they will not give up because Hendrix â€œdeserves a street in the Village.â€? And with the petition gaining additional signatures every week, the number of people who agree continues to grow. Geist and Ritter could not immediately be reached for comment.
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Februar y 14, 2019
City BUSINESS PHOTOS BY GABE HERMAN
Star Shoe & Watch’s Jose Ledezma with a photo of actor Christopher Walken, who was a regular customer in the 1970s.
Downstairs shoe-repair hopes for an upside BY GABE HERMAN
lex Kariyev has owned the Star Shoe & Watch shop for 19 years, but in the past two, business has slowed considerably. The store, at 74 Bleecker St., between Broadway and Lafayette St., moved downstairs five years ago. But Kariyev, 66, said business was still going strong for the first three. “Probably a lot of people moved from the area,” he offered. “For some reason, it got slow.” He also noted that fewer people get shoe repairs these days, or shoeshines, which was a thriving business but now is at a crawl. “Today’s generation is not fi xing shoes, probably — not like before,” he said. “They buy through the Internet. They throw it away.” Kariyev was in the shop on a recent weekday afternoon with his wife Zina and longtime employee Jose Ledezma. Ledezma has worked in the shop since 1987, back when his father owned it. Kariyev noted there used to be four shoeshine seats, but he cut it to two. He once had a full-time shoeshine employee when demand was higher. He said that watch repair still does good business, including changing a lot of watch batteries, but that is slowing down, too. “We need business,” Zina said. “Support from the community,” Kariyev added. One longtime customer is Bo Riccobono, a member of Community Board 2, on which he is vice chairperson of the Economic Development and Small Business Committee. Riccobono said he
The store’s entrance is a set of stairs going underground.
started going to Star Shoe & Watch for shoeshines, though he now mostly wears sneakers. “I’ve gone there many times for watches, just to replace a battery or something,” he said. “It’s very handy.” But he noted that the stairs leading down to the shop can be intimidating for those unfamiliar with the business. It looks unclear where the stairs lead and one might wonder how safe it will be. Once downstairs, however, the space is well lit and has a comfortable feel. A new landlord, who took over the building seven years ago, wanted more upscale retail, Riccobono TVG
noted. But Kariyev was able to stay by moving his shop to the lower level for less rent. “He’s a good landlord, gave me an opportunity to stay here,” Kariyev said. “I like this area.” He and Zina moved to America in 1979 from Tashkent, Uzbekistan. They are Orthodox Bukharan Jews, and Kariyev isn’t in the store on Saturdays and leaves early on Fridays. They live in Queens and have three children and 14 grandkids. Kariyev bought the shop in 2000 from Ledezma’s father, who was in poor health. The shop was at 60 Bleecker St. on the ground floor going back 80 years, and spanning several owners, he said. Kariyev wants to advertise more but has run into issues. The street is landmarked, as part of the Noho Historic District. He was fined $3,000 recently for putting out a sign on the street that was not approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which must approve a sign’s colors, size and location. “It’s not that it’s bad to have landmarks, but it’s another factor that a small business owner has to deal with,” Riccobono said. Kariyev’s lease is for another four years, but he might retire after that. “I want to see what’s going to happen,” he said. “A lot of offices are closing. “Everybody complains, says, ‘Where are the small businesses?’” Riccobono said. “And people often say, ‘Where am I going to get my shoes done, there’s no more shoemakers.’ Here, there’s one right here.” Kariyev then added about the downstairs location, “But they have to find us.” Februar y 14, 2019
Great 88: Morgenstern has 7-dozen-plus ﬂavors BY GABE HERMAN
orgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream am opened its second parlor in the city in October, at the former site of longtime Village favorite Silver Spurs. The latter closed last March rch after anchoring the corner of W. Housuston St. and LaGuardia Place for 22 2 years, in yet another sad example off diners closing in the area. But ice cream does cover a world d of hurt, and Morgenstern’s has dozzens of flavors to choose from. There’s green tea pistachio, burnt urnt honey vanilla and salted pretzel caraara mel. There’s butter pecan, chocolate chip cookie dough and grapefruit sherbet. There’s charred banana and ginger grape nut. And there’s plain chocolate for those less adventurous. The shop offers a dozen sorbet flavors, as well, and 25 topping choices. I recently tried the cherry chocolate chip. That’s red cherry ice cream with chips. It was really good and, as expected, had an authentic cherry taste, not that unpleasant artificial cherry flavor that some candies can have. The chocolate chips were a little scarce in my serving, if I could make a sugges-
Two tasty Morgenstern’s flavors, blueberr y chocolate and raw milk.
tion. Over all, though, it was very sattio isfying, even on a cold February day. I isf had a small cup size for $5.50, which ha still was a good amount of ice cream. st The original Morgenstern’s was opened in May 2014 by chef-restauranteur Nick Morgenstern on the Lower East Side, at 2 Rivington St., between Chrystie St. and the Bowery. And before its first brick-andmortar, the company sold ice cream m from street carts. fr This new shop at 88 W. Houston St. is the company’s flagship location, offering more flavors than the LES origife nal. na Along with 88 ice cream flavors, the shop offers pies and cakes, and ice cream pies and ice cream cakes. It also makes floats and shakes, an ice cream sandwich, and a “King Kong Banana Split” for $20. Cup and cone sizes for ice cream range from $5.50 to $10.50. Morgenstern’s also held its first annual pie-baking contest this past November, and offers a special Thanksgiving pie menu. More information can be found at morgensternsnyc.com, and delivery is available via Caviar, if you trust it to come before everything melts.
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Februar y 14, 2019
X-rays, evil trees, divers dazzle at Clemente BY NANCY ELSAMANOUDI
f I could recommend one show to art lovers who might be somewhat put off by New York City’s slightly insular gallery scene, or to anyone just looking for a great under-the-radar show, it would be the group show currently up at the Abrazo Interno Gallery at The Clemente. This surprisingly magical, beautifully curated show has a celebratory vibe to it that seems to rebut, with a smirk, grumpy old muggle notions that painting is somehow dead. Indeed, some of the paintings literally seem to be grinning at us. In Clintel Steed’s painting “3MM Dive,” a rock-hard male diver smiles as he plunges feet first into a sunsoaked scene at the local pool. It’s not quite clear if the central figure is an elite athlete, a scuba diver or an ordinary man dreaming of scuba diving. Either way, this painting is cinematic in its frenetic intensity. In another painting, “Pole Jumper,” the image shifts depending on how far you stand away from it. From afar, you can make out a blur of a man with his legs flung in the air. Up close, the image of the flying pole jumper is less readable. If you did not know quite what to look for, you would briefly think it was an abstract painting, until you begin to make out a head here and a leg there. In JoAnne Carson’s painting “Knotty Pine,” a very different kind of character takes center stage. In Carson’s piece, an anthropomorphic, evil-looking red tree with stumps for eyes and a massive, mischievous smile sits in the middle of a whacked-out, punchy landscape with orange clouds and pink foliage. In another one of Carson’s paintings, “Dream Catcher,” the massive head of a bird peaks out of a very angular-looking and sharp tree set against a turquoise sky filled with cotton candy clouds. These paintings are like stills of Tim Burton’s films on hallucinogens or the three-eyed fish in “The Simpsons.” These paintings’ perversely uncanny humor is suggestive of something menacing, such as the possibility the natural world may be mutating into something unnatural, or synthetic. Kay Sirikul Pattachote’s paintings, “Overstitch” and “Overstitches #1,” of reddish violet roses in various states of bloom, also speak to the fragility of nature and the human condition but in a far more understated way. In
“Pole Jumper,” by Clintel Steed, oil on canvas, 16 in. x 20 in., 2018.
“Overstitch,” by Kay Sirikul Pattachote, sewn on paper, 28.5 in. x 20.5 in, 2018.
these two works, the materiality of the work is profoundly important to its meaning. In this series, Pattachote combines several pieces of paper in a way that melds drawing, sewing, painting and collage. In parts of the paintings, the thread is clumped together to create a textured surface. In other areas, the thread is sewn in sinuous lines that follow the blossoms’ curves and the stem. Mary Jones’s small-scale paintings also incorporate collage elements in an unexpected way. In Jones’s piece “Renaissance,” X-rays of a hip bone and spine are integrated with silver leaf, spray paint and oil paint into an overall composition that reads seamlessly as a painting with a cohesive paint surface rather than a collage with disparate elements awkwardly sticking out. “Lion” is another stunning work of hers. Although Jones’s process may
call to mind artists like Merlin James, her images involve a very different, specific and highly idiosyncratic vocabulary. Over all, this is a phenomenal show filled with great paintings that are in conversation with each other. The show’s works were curated and beautifully installed by Kyle Heidenheimer and Camilla Fallon. The show also includes artwork by Mie Yim, Elisabeth Condon, Walter Schrank, Susanna Coffey, Laura Newman, Amy Manhick, Pinkney Herbert, Camilla Fallon and Kyle Heidenheimer. “Incise, Echo and Repeat,” at Abrazo Interno Gallery at The Clemente (Clemente Soto Velez Cultural & Education Center), 107 Suffolk St., between Rivington and Delancey Sts., until March 2. Gallery open daily 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., except major holidays. For information, visit theclementecenter.org . Februar y 14, 2019
‘Sweethearts’ tour will tell park love stories BY ALEJANDR A O’CONNELLDOMENECH
omantics and cynics alike can “touch the heart of the Village,” learning about the famed enclave’s history of love, during a special walking tour on Thurs., Feb. 14. The Sweethearts of Washington Square Park tour features 26 stops, each featuring a story of local love — from scenes from mainstream cinema to real-life affairs, some of them secret. But the tour is neither cutesy nor salacious. “I didn’t want to talk about someone with many boyfriends or girlfriends and was sexy,” said tour guide Diana Leidel. Instead she wanted the talk really to be about love. Leidel, who lives in Brooklyn, is an art director and former New York University assistant professor of graphic design and communications. There will be, of course, some classic love stories mentioned on the tour. Such as the two-week fling that folk singers Bob Dylan Joan Baez spent together in 1964 at the Washington Square Hotel. The park and its environs have featured prominently in some of Hollywood’s biggest hits, as Leidel will touch on during the tour. For example, at the beginning of the 1989 romantic comedy “When Harry Met Sally,” Sally (Meg Ryan) drives fellow University of Chicago alum Harry (Billy Crystal) to New York since both happen to be moving there after graduation. Sally drops off Harry, and his two suitcases, right next to the Washington Square Park Arch. The pair say their goodbyes, certain they will never encounter their strange new travel companion again. Of course, as luck would have it, in a city of millions of people, they reconnect. And there’s scene in the Woody Allen’s comedy “Annie Hall,” when Annie (Diane Keaton) and Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) argue on the sidewalk while walking along the northern part of the square.
PHOTO BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH
Diana Leidel will be your Washington Square Park-area love tour guide on Thurs., Feb. 14. This time, neither snow, nor rain, etc., will stop her, she vows.
But the tour is mostly filled with historic gems, like the story behind Jill Johnson and Jack Kerouac’s first date, which was set up by Village icon poet Allen Ginsberg; the park’s connection to the great love between playwright Eugene O’Neill and Louise Bryant; the complicated marriage between Edward and Jo Hopper, who lived at 3 Washington Square North; and the “amorous adventures” that happened at The Black Rabbit, a MacDougal St. speakeasy. Leidel’s favorite part of the tour is telling the story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. The lovers met when Hickok, a reporter, was assigned to cover an event involving the Roosevelts at Washington Square Park. The two women were together from 1932 until Eleanor Roosevelt’s death. This is the first love-themed tour that Leidel will lead. And the tiny tour guide — she stands just 5 feet tall — is determined. She had to cancel the edition scheduled for last Saturday due to low registration. But she vowed that low turnout or frigid temperatures would not stop her from “walking in love” on
A map of the Sweethear ts of Washington Square Park walking tour shows all the romantic hot stops. Stop No. 2 is the Washington Square Hotel, where Bob Dylan and Joan Baez spent t wo weeks together. No. 13 is the studio where ar tists like Elaine Orr, wife of Writer E.E. Cummings, worked. Painter Edward Hopper and his wife, Jo Hopper, who was his only model, lived in an apar tment on the top floor of the studio. These are just a few of the love stories the Sweethear ts tour-goers will hear about.
212 - 254 - 1109 | www.theaterforthenewcity.net | 155 First Ave. NY, NY 10003
Written by Claude Solnik
Written by Peter Welch
Written by Matthew Fitzgerald
Dir Bob & Joanne Domingo
Directed by Jonathan Weber
Directed by Tony White
Fri - Sat 8PM, Sat - Sun 3PM
Thur - Sat 8PM, Sun 3PM February 07 - March 03
Thur - Sat 8PM, Sun 3PM February 21 - March 10
February 16 - 24
Februar y 14, 2019
Valentine’s Day, the 14th, starting at 5 p.m. The “love laps” start at the northwest corner of Washington Square Park. That said, she admits she never really thought much of the holiday. But a couple of friends of hers — who despite having been together for decades, still give each other Valentines — inspired her to make a holiday event that was a “more adult” version. Once she started researching the area’s “records of roTVG
mance,” she found fascinating stories and was touched by some of things she discovered. “I don’t think that most people tell the person that they love that they care for them,” Leidel said. Perhaps the tour will inspire some to say, “I love you,” more often, she added. For tickets and more information, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/sweethearts-of-washington-square. Schneps Media
Manhattan Happenings MUSIC
BY RICO BURNEY AND ROSE ADAMS
Phony Ppl at the Blue Note: Phony Ppl, a quintet founded in a BedfordStuyvesant basement, mashes together soulful R&B and old-school hip-hip, making music that’s both retro and futuristic. The group’s hit “End of the Night” was dubbed one of Tyler the Creator’s favorite songs of 2016. They continue their residency Fri., Feb. 15, 12:30 a.m., at the Blue Note, 131 W. Third St. Bar and table reservations are $10, or $15 the day of.
ART “Black Jelly”: The gallery opening for “Black Jelly: The Photos” will take place at 7 p.m. on Mon., Feb. 18, at the Theater for the New City Gallery, at 155 First Ave. The exhibition will feature photographs by Nikki Johnson from Melanie Maria’s poetry collection “Black Jelly.” In addition to live music and light refreshments, Maria will be present for a reading and book signing. The images will remain on view through March 31. Free.
KIDS Kids Week activities for children off from school will be occurring in New York City public parks between Feb. 18 and Feb. 23. Featured events include observing birds of prey with an urban park ranger in Inwood Hill Park and free curling lessons in Bryant Park. A full listing of Kids Week events can be found at https://www.nycgovparks. org/events/school_break and https:// bryantpark.org/programs/kids-week. FREE.
LUNAR NEW YEAR Year of Abundance, A Lunar New Year Celebration: Ring in the Year of the Pig on the Lower East Side with dance performances, DJ sets and karaoke. Free refreshments provided by Nom Wah Tea Parlor, East Wind Snack Shop and Trader Joe’s. Sat., Feb. 16, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m, at Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand St. Free. Chinatown New Year Parade: The annual Chinese New Year Parade kicks off at 1 p.m. on Sun., Feb. 17. The parade route begins by making its way down Mott St. from Canal St. From there, it turns left onto Chatham Square and continues onto East Broadway until turning left again onto Forsyth St. The parade will conclude near Forsyth and Grand Sts. Free.
MOVIES “Out at Work,” the 1996 documentary that follows the lives of three gay workers as they face workplace discrimination and fight to receive equal treatment from their employers and coSchneps Media
FILE PHOTO BY MILO HESS
You can enjoy the Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown this weekend.
workers, will be shown at 3:30 p.m. on Fri., Feb. 15, in the Tompkins Square Library’s basement. Free.
tery “A Separation” speaks on her literary craft. “A Separation” was named a New York Times Notable Book and “Best Book of the Year” by more than a dozen publications. Write it down: Wed., Feb. 20, at 7 p.m., at Columbia University, 501 Dodge Hall, 2960 Broadway. Free.
“A Simple Favor,” the 2018 darkcomedy thriller about a “mommy vlogger” who attempts to find out why her best friend suddenly disappears from their Connecticut suburb, will be screened at 2 p.m. on Sat., Feb. 16, in the Hudson Park Library, at 66 Leroy St. The film, based on the 2017 novel by Darcey Bell, stars Anna Kenkrick and Blake Lively. Free.
“The African Burial Ground”: Author and historian Andrea E. Frohne will discuss her book about the 1991 discovery of Lower Manhattan’s cemetery for people of African descent as well as the larger historical context of the burial ground. She will be present at the Grand Central Library, at 135 E. 46th St., at 6 p.m. on Thurs., Feb. 21. Free.
TALKS “In Putin’s Footsteps”: Author and former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s granddaughter, Nina Khrushcheva, will be in conversation with journalist Susan Glasser of The New Yorker to discuss her new book, “In Putin’s Footsteps.” The book aims to measurer current Russian President Vladimir Putin’s success by visiting one town in each of Russia’s 11 time zones. The talk will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Thurs., Feb. 21, in the 42nd St. Library’s Wachenheim Trustees Room. More information and registration can be found at https://www.showclix. com/event/inputinsfootsteps/tag/nyplwebsite. Free.
THEATER “Adam,” a play based on the true story of Adam Kashmiry, is making its North American debut at New York University’s Skirball Center after a run in Scotland. The play follows Kashmiry, an Egyptian transgender man, as he realizes he needs to leave his home country in order to live openly. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14-16. The show runs 75 minutes. Tickets cost $35 to $45. More information and tickets can be found at https://nyuskirball. org/events/national-theatre-scotlandadam/.
Katie Kitamura on creative writing: The author of the 2017 murder mysTVG
The Second Debate among the candidates running to become New York’s next public advocate will take place at 7 p.m. on Wed., Feb. 20. The event is being broadcast on NY1 and N.Y.C.T.V. It will also be streamed free online on NY1’s Web site and Facebook page. The first debate can be viewed at https://www.nyccfb.info/nyc-votes/debates/. The election will be held Tues., Feb. 26.
COMMUNITY BOARD Community Board 2 meets at 6:30 p.m. on Thurs., Feb. 21, at P.S. 41, at 116 W. 11th St., auditorium. Community Board 5 meets at 6 p.m. on Thurs., Feb. 14, at Xavier High School, at 30 W. 16th St., second-floor library. Community Board 8 meets at 6:30 p.m. on Wed., Feb. 20, at the Ramaz School, at 125 E. 85th St., Heyman Auditorium.
COMMUNITY COUNCIL Ninth Precinct Community Council meets at 7 p.m. on Tues., Feb. 19, at 321 E. Fifth St. 13th Precinct Community Council meets at 6:30 p.m. on Tues., Feb. 19, at 230 E. 21st St. Midtown North Precinct Community Council meets at 7 p.m. on Tues., Feb. 19, at 306 W. 54th St. Midtown South Precinct Community Council meets at 7 p.m. on Thurs., Feb. 21, at 481 Eighth Ave. Februar y 14, 2019
Izzy Young, key ﬁgure in folk scene, dies at 90 BY GABE HERMAN
zzy Young, who was at the center of the Village folk scene, running one of its key hubs, the Folklore Center, died on Feb. 4 at age 90 in his home in Stockholm, Sweden. Young ran the Folklore Center from 1959 to 1973. It was first at 110 MacDougal St., between Bleecker and W. Third Sts. In 1965, he moved it to 321 Sixth Ave., next to what is now the IFC movie theater. The shop sold folk music items, like magazines, records and instruments. But it was also a meeting place where people talked and gossiped about the folk scene, and where musicians might try out songs and hope to get noticed. Izzy Young also put on concerts, including Bob Dylan’s first in New York, in 1961. Dylan was a regular at the Folklore Center. But Young wasn’t impressed at first, he said in Martin Scorsese’s Dylan documentary, “No Direction Home.” “He didn’t look too interesting to me, he didn’t look wild. He looked like an ordinary kid,” Young said. When Dylan asked to play him some of his songs, Young brushed him off. “I said, ‘Can you come tomorrow? Get out of here,’” Young recalled. Dylan insisted and sang for Young, who then kicked him out. But over time, Young would point Dylan out to others in the shop and tell them he was writing good songs. Matt Umanov, who ran a guitar shop at 273 Bleecker St. for decades until recently closing it, and now does guitar repairs by appointment there, was a longtime friend of Young. Umanov even repaired guitars in Young’s Sixth Ave. location, which was on the second floor, for a year in 1967. “He had unbelievable energy, a real character,” Umanov said. In the late ’60s, Young spent $5 to get ordained as a minster, and he officiated Umanov’s wedding in the Folklore Center. “He was an outgoing character and opinionated, and let you know,” said Umanov. “He was always standing up for the little guy.” Mark Sebastian, a musician who grew up in the Village in the ’60s and co-wrote “Summer in the City,” wrote on Facebook that Young was “the heart and embodiment of Greenwich Village.” “It’s where we went to play guitars our family might not be able to afford,” Sebastian wrote, “and read reprints from Sing Out! and gauge from older players there just how good we’d have to get before anyone took us seriously.” In terms of Young’s influence, Sebas-
Februar y 14, 2019
PHOTO BY DAVID GAHR / LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Izz y Young in 1963 front of the Folklore Center, on MacDougal St.
PHOTO BY MARKUS ADLER
Izz y Young reading his poems.
tian wrote, referring to two major record labels, “It was known Izzy could put in a good word for you at Vanguard or Folkways if he thought you were becoming important.” Young was born in 1928 on the Lower East Side and grew up in the Bronx, the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, according to The New York Times. He moved to Sweden in 1973, where he opened the Folklore Centrum, which
he ran until recently. His daughter Philomene Grandin said her father had a childlike wonder about the world. “He could be incredibly happy for a cup of coffee, a kiss on his cheek or someone playing a tune,” she wrote by e-mail to The Villager. “He would often cry at concerts because he thought that the ambience and the performance was so beautiful.” But he could also be surly, she said, TVG
with “a habit of yelling at people when they entered his store. He would blame the visitors for not coming more often or for disturbing him. But it would nearly always finish up with kisses and hugs.” She said that Young had little money and people would often bring him gifts and food. “In some ways he was like a Buddha: happy for everything he got and surviving on gifts,” she said. There were high moments from his name recognition, said Grandin, including free concert tickets for them to see artists like Dylan, Patti Smith and Joan Baez. And people often sought out the shop in Sweden to see Young, the man with a huge impact on the Village folk scene. “Izzy and I would always shake our heads and laugh: ‘Oh no, not another Dylan freak,’” recalled Grandin. “I used to tell Izzy that he should take a dollar for every picture people took of him (he needed the money!).” She and Young went to the Nobel Banquet when Dylan received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016. “I am so happy for that night,” Grandin said. “I think that night represents a lot of the life I had with Izzy. One day poor and without a dime, and the next day we could be shining at the Nobel Banquet.” Grandin said that just hours before Young died, there were musicians by his bed playing and singing. “Dad had his eyes closed but he was still holding the beat with his feet,” she said. “A wonderful moment.” Izzy Young wrote a column about the folk scene for Sing Out! magazine. And when some locals and the authorities decided to crack down on the folkmusic gatherings in Washington Square Park, he was a leader of the 1961 protests against the ban on the musical jams. Young led a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at one of the rallies, which were ultimately successful in keeping folk music in the park. Young is survived by daughter Philomene Grandin and son Thilo Egenberger, along with three grandchildren. Grandin said she and her father would always spend hours in Washington Square Park, listening to live music, when visiting New York in later years. “We used to joke that there should be a bench in the park with a little sign, with Izzy’s name and a couple of words about the riot he started,” she said. “I still think it would be a great idea and dad would love seeing it from the sky — maybe sitting down beside us, listening to some great tunes, stomping the rhythm with his feet.” Schneps Media
Brian Butterick, 62, a.k.a. Pyramid’s Hattie BY CL AY TON PATTERSON
n looking back, I am amazed that my first conceptual contact with Brian Butterick was when I was a child. Whose family did not have one of the Butterick sewing-pattern envelopes for the homemaker dressmaker? It makes me wonder what influence those little pattern packages had on Brian, the drag impresario and drag player. Brian a.k.a. Hattie Hathaway was many things. He was tall, between 6 foot 3 inches to 6 foot 5 inches, people guess. He was a driving force helping to build the incubator, the culturally influencing creative force that grew out of the Pyramid Club. The Pyramid Club, at 101 Avenue A, opened in 1979. Brian helped keep alive the spirits from the building’s past. It was always a dive bar. It had been a Prohibition-era speakeasy, then a Polish immigrant comfort drinking hole. In the ’70s it housed the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe. Brian managed the Pyramid from 1981 to ’86. He was a cultural warrior whose impact and influence is still not fully understood and appreciated. A warrior with the soft touch of a Zen master. He was one of the wizards who could develop a following as diverse as the Lower East Side itself. The Pyramid’s overall flavor back then was gay. In this case, gay also means it was a lesbian hangout. The club’s patrons were mostly made up of the misfits, the black sheep, the outsiders. They crossed all ethnic and sexual borders: black, Hispanic, Asian, Caucasian — from Hells Angels and skinheads to the delicate nerd, the crossdressers and transsexuals, the bisexuals, the straights. You fit or you didn’t. But with all of this diversity, I do not remember any aggressive moments, award-winning fights, maybe a few hissy fits, but no knockouts. In part because of Brian’s vibe, with his hands on the directional compass, I knew many of us outsiders had a safe port, free of all the typical ugly art-world vibes, the elitism, the selective attitudes of likes and dislikes, the cold shoulders that most cultural establishments carry. (And thanks to Jane Friedman for putting Brian on the board of the HOWL! Happening gallery later on, where he continued that spirit of inclusivity.) The Pyramid, with its creative cast of characters, definitely had the potential to break out into “I am the all-ranking Queen.” Nope. No such takeover happened. Brian embraced rather than rejected. As the manager he was a “yes man” in the nonconformist creative world he managed, in terms of his accepting nature. Yes, there were insiders, and another circle not as in, and the general circle outside of that. But, for the most part, any performer or act who applied, or anyone who wanted to participate, would have to have been pretty mainstream and conventional for Brian to say no to. He did not rule by his taste. One of his magical touches was how he helped mentor acts trying to find their center or brought in other mentors. Like for drag act Ethyl Eichelberger, video artist Nelson Sullivan opened his world up to RuPaul, La Homa, Larry Tee and myself. There was Larry “Madame” Ray, the prima ballerina of the Trocadero Gloxinia Dance Company. Raybeez Barbieri (of Warzone) created hardcore events. Jimmy “Gestapo” Drescher (of Murphy’s Law) inspired many bands. Look at a shortlist of performers who this magic
Brian Butterick at an event at the Howl! Happening galler y in the East Village.
PHOTOS BY CLAYTON PATTERSON
Brian Butterick, who per formed as Hattie Hathaway, in his drag heyday at the P yramid.
helped nurture: John Kelly, Phoebe Legere, Steve Buscemi, Mark Boone, Jr., SUNPK (Peter Kwaloff), Stephe Tabboo Tashjian, Mark “Hapi Phace” Rizzo, Brian Belovitch, Perry “Peewee” Masco, Wendy Wild, John Sex, Susan Martin, Philly Abe, Kembra Pfahler, Samoa, Anne Magnuson, Mark Oates, Bill Rice, Dean Johnson, Kennon B Raines, Eddy “Red Ed” now Carol Ann Braddock, Cynthia Carr, Gerard “Mr. Fashion” Little, Michael London Berube, Kathleen “Beme Seed” Lynch, Dee Finley, David Wojnarowicz, Maze, Rosy, Apocolyn, Sister Ectoplasm. Then there were TVG
all the bands and DJs, which I do not have space to mention. The Tattoo Society of New York met there. Then there was the opportunity Brian gave to John “Lypsinka” Epperson, a regular drag performer, to direct his “Tweed Production Ballet of the Dolls” in 1985 and “Dial M for Model” in 1986. Lesbian radical WOW performer Holly Hughes did her play “The Well of Horniness” there. The drag was not your traditional “famous woman” impersonator. Often the characters were completely invented. And there were drag kings. Much of the drag was based on the term Kembra Pfahler invented, “Avalabism,” using whatever was available, even if it was from garbage picking (a tradition on the LES). It was in the bowels of the Pyramid that a small group of players, including Brian, Tabboo and Lady Bunny, came up with the concept of Wigstock, a show that gave Lady Bunny a career. This is just a brief look at Brian’s influence in one club. It is time that this history started to be saved. If the building was built in 1876, and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and others got the building landmark status in 2012, then shouldn’t people like Brian Butterick’s history be saved, too? Iris Rose, has a solid historical essay on the Pyramid that includes Brian. The Pyramid has several film references in “Captured, a Lower East Side Film Video History” (Seven Stories Press). MoMA’s collection of my videos includes the Pyramid. The Nelson Sullivan archive at the N.Y.U. Fales Library has rare Pyramid videos. My archive, which I am organizing for public viewing, has photos, videos and ephemera from this period. Brian is also a New York ACKER Award recipient. If we do not save our own history, then who will? In memory of Brian Butterick, a.k.a. Hattie Hathaway, 1956 – 2019, R.I.P. I remember and thank you for all that you contributed to my life’s journey. Februar y 14, 2019
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Is Instagram changing our home decoration? BY MARTHA WILKIE
veryone loves a rainbow, but when it comes to paint, pale walls are decidedly on trend today. And with the popularity of decluttering, the less “stuff” you have in a home, the better. The High Priestess of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo, insists every object in your home ought to “spark joy.” If it doesn’t? Away with it! Why is everything today so minimal? In the ’80s, shelter magazines like Architectural Digest showed some minimalist designs. But a more popular style used rich colors, antique furniture, vividly patterned textiles (remember chintz?) and a great deal of art, books, sculpture and interesting objets d’art. In certain English circles, people who had to buy new furniture (as opposed to inheriting it) were snobbishly pitied. Collectors spent fortunes at auction houses buying antiques. Today, those exact same pieces are referred to as “brown furniture” and the market has dropped considerably. Most younger people don’t want Grandma’s china cabinet, they’d rather shop at IKEA. Most newly designed spaces today are spare, modern and bright. Take a look at Airbnb’s most desirable rentals — their “Plus” offerings — all professionally styled and photographed. Around the world, you see beautiful enticing homes that (for the most part) begin to look oddly alike: extremely bright, with white or neutral walls, sleek modern furniture, dramatic overhead-lighting fi xtures, pops of color and maybe the odd vintage accent here and there. From Istanbul to Manhattan to Berlin, you see the same look over and over. My theory is that viewing interiors on smartphones — especially on Instagram — is changing the way we decorate our homes. Instagram photos are square and you must use a phone. (You can view, but not upload photos on a laptop). Gorgeous, colorful spaces filled with art and antiques can look cluttered and unappealing when viewed in a tiny square. A room with wood paneling might look dark and unwelcoming, rather than cozy and warm. Do you like bright minimal homes or do you prefer color, texture, interesting tchotchkes and, yes, vintage “brown furniture”? Here are four listings showing different styles. To each her own! A two-bedroom, three-bath condo in Lenox Hill checks all the trendy design boxes: exuberant overhead-lighting fi xture, pops of color on a neutral background, scant art, sleek furniture. The dining room chairs are so minimal, they’re practically invisible. Corner bedroom has lovely windows on two sides. But the price isn’t minimal: $3.3
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Instagram meets Gramerc y — Insta-Gramerc y? — in this sweet pad on Gramerc y Park, which could just “click” with the right buyer.
(https://w w w.elliman.com /newyork-city/222-east—44-street-7d-manhattan-rnwhvra) A more traditional classic prewar can be found in East Midtown in the Campanile, a 1927 building where Greta Garbo once lived. An immense (33-foot-9-inch-by-20-foot) living room has panoramic river views, and a cozy, paneled room features a wood-burning fireplace — one of two. Located on the 14th floor of a co-op, it’s filled with traditional architectural detail. Some might find it a bit old-fashioned, but others will feel right at home. With two bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths, you can have it all for some serious Garbo greenbacks: $6.25 million. (https://streeteasy.com/building/ the-campanile/14-fl)
This E. 66th St. condo has all the hallmarks of the per fect “Instagram apar tment,” including scant ar t.
ible amenities, including a sky-lit pool, spa, squash court, full-sized basketball court and landscaped outdoor space with grills. The apartment has highend appliances, floor-to-ceiling windows and a washer and dryer. The rent is $3,415.
This East Midtown studio rental would really pop on Instagram or Airbnb. It’s in a new building, with incredTVG
And, finally, there’s a nice mix of antique and modern in an 1858 townhouse on Gramercy Park — with a key to the park, some New Yorkers’ dream. Offering a glorious view, French doors and a 21-foot-long, slim terrace overlook the park. A one-bedroom with two baths, it sports a chef’s kitchen to satisfy a professional chef. If dishing out $4.75 million is minimal for you, it’s all yours. ( ht t ps : //st r e ete a sy.c om / building /48 -g ramercy-park-northnew_york/2) Schneps Media
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