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

December 11, 2014 • $1.00 Volume 84 • Number 28

‘What would Jane say?’ Raft of anxious questions about ‘billionaires’ island’ BY ALBERT AMATEAU


ier55, the daring project announced last month by the Hudson River Park Trust and the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation, made its public debut on Dec. 3. The $130 million project drew reactions last week

ranging from awe to outrage during a presentation at the meeting of the Community Board 2 Parks Committee. The new pier, conceived as a square island between the historic Pier 54, which is to be demolished, and the pile field that remains from the old Pier 56, would have two PIER55, continued on p. 16



t was the last day of De Robertis Pasticceria & Caffé, and the black-andwhite photos that tracked the family were off the whitetiled walls. They lay in the empty baked goods display counter alongside cafe items — espresso spoons and tin plates for sale. The legendary

half dollar cemented into the vintage, ornately tiled floor had been pried out a couple of weeks earlier. Nonetheless, a montage of photos of the last three generations of De Robertises hung above the counter. The fourth generation of DeRobertis proprietors — both in their 30s — busDE ROBERTIS, continued on p. 25


Another pasticceria bites the dust as De Robertis Caffé closes on First Ave. A night view from the West Side Highway of the still-under-construction Downtown Whitney Museum.

Ready for the Whitney BY EILEEN STUKANE


he Whitney Museum did what artists have done for decades. It pulled up stakes and left home — in this case, Madison Ave. and E. 75th St. — to be creative in the Village. To be more exact, though, the Whitney is really coming home, since it was in Greenwich Village that the museum was founded in 1931. The Whitney’s new, asymmetrical Renzo Piano-designed building, on

Gansevoort St. between the High Line and the West Side Highway, is set to open in less than five months from now, on May 1. The Whitney is the first major cultural institution to come Downtown, perhaps drawn by the energy of a neighborhood already in the throes of transformation. Anticipation is high. David Gruber, outgoing chairperson of Community Board 2, believes that the Whitney will become a “huge asset to the Village.”

The museum, he pointed out, is actually part of a growing “ribbon” of culture and entertainment on the West Side that currently notably includes the Chelsea gallery district, High Line park, Meatpacking District, Chelsea Piers and Chelsea Market. Adding to that will be projects coming down the pike, including the Hudson Yards’ planned Culture Shed at the High Line’s northern end; the WHITNEY, continued on p. 14

Top cop pulls out of Chamber 2 Mendez not backing off on bag 3 A little chess with Garofalo and 19 Die-in disrupts Grand 5

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CLEOPATRA PANIC: Well, Allen Roskoff has done it again — but, really, what did we expect? The president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club — working with a clearly talented yet mysterious, unknown designer — has created the invite for his annual

obsters • Seaf aks • L ood


S te

A little taste (ugh!) of the annual Roskoff Holiday Party invite.

Roskoff Holiday Party, and as usual, it takes a pop at various local political figures and whoever and whatever happens to be in the news. Due to the uproar in years past (angry letters and phone calls) when we’ve shown the actual invite in Scoopy’s Notebook, this year we’re refraining from displaying it in its entirety. We’ll just show a cropped portion here. So, just use your imagination (and try not to lose your lunch...) as we describe it in full. .... Picture a Mad magazine-style spoof. The theme is a movie poster for “Cleopatra.” Guess who is reclining as her majesty, the queen? Yes, Roskoff, who naturally receives top billing. The other “stars” of this production are Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who are shown in Roman armor flanking Roskoff. The “film” is “funded by Chris Hughes — but not by Sean Eldridge,” referring to the Facebook co-founder and his politically ambitious husband. The film’s “producers” are listed as state Senator Dan Squadron, losing Brooklyn Assembly candidate Pete Sikora and — in a surprise appearance this year — Mary Cooley, Squadron’s former district office director. Huh? Cooley? What did she do to anger Queen Cleo-Raskoff? we queried. She was one of the nicest of the politicians’ community liaisons, we always thought. (Cooley recently moved on to the Department of Consumer Affairs, where she’s director of city legislative affairs.) “Mary apparently took Jim Owles pro-nightlife lit off a table and threw it in the garbage because it criticized Squadron,” a source told us. (Roskoff is also a nightlife advocate.) We could not confirm that before deadline. As for Sikora, he snubbed the Owles club’s request to come in for an endorsement interview. O.K., so getting back to the invite.... Councilmember Corey Johnson is shown as a cute little mouse. (Whatever. That one was apparently the mysterious designer’s idea.) Meanwhile, former City Council candidate Yetta Kurland — what would a Roskoff invite be without Yetta Kurland? — is shown as a green asp that kills Roskoff. (Again, whatever... .) Other “cast members” of this production include Brian Ellner in the role of “Gay Marriage Profiteer,” Councilmember Vincent Gentile as “Horse-hating Closet Case” — ouch! — Gary Parker as “Who?” and Julie Menin, D.C.A. commissioner, as...well, we are not even going to print it here because it’s too insulting, and not accurate, either! The invite-only party is at the home of Bill and Marie Samuels. Among those expected to attend are the few individuals who were not skewered in the invite.


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Mendez still opposing bill for 10-cent bag surcharge BY LOGAN HENDRIX AND LINCOLN ANDERSON



any councilmembers are in favor of a bill calling for a 10-cent fee on disposal paper and plastic bags. Yet, it remains to be seen if the measure will garner enough support to become law. The use of disposable paper and plastic bags increases when the holiday season is in full swing, the bill’s supporters note. This influx adds to the amount of plastic bags the Department of Sanitation collects every week. To cut back on such single-use bags, the bill was proposed by City Council prime co-sponsors Margaret Chin and Brad Lander. The surcharge of a dime on disposable plastic and paper bags would apply to convenience stores, supermarkets and delis. The legislation’s opponents, including Councilmember Rosie Mendez, are concerned about the burden it could pose on the poor and senior citizens on fixed incomes, as well as those who must separate their food for religious reasons. Mendez also fears dog walkers may lose incentive to pick up after their dogs if forced to pay 10 cents per plastic bag. Mendez spokesperson John Blasco said, “Unless there are further amendments to the proposed legislation, she is unable to sign her name as a co-sponsor.” However, Chin spokesperson Sam Spokony said, “The bill would exempt anyone who’s on food stamps or using government assistance from paying the fee. “What’s written into the legislation is something that addresses those specific concerns, which is that there would be reusable bags distributed and targeted specifically to low-income communities,” he added. Spokony explained the basic steps of the education and outreach program. “If you go to a store that’s under the legislation, here’s a reusable bag and here’s why you use one and you’d have the opportunity to avoid paying the fee,” he said. On Fri., Dec. 12, the Citizens Committee for New York City, part of a coalition of groups backing the bill, will hold a reusable tote-bag giveaway at 9:30 a.m. near the C-Town, at Avenue C and E. 12th St., a supermarket used by many Alphabet City seniors on fixed incomes. Peter Kostmayer, C.E.O. of the Citizens Committee, said the bill currently has 20 sponsors in the Coun-


City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, left, at a reusable tote-bag giveaway in Brooklyn.

cil, and 26 are needed to pass it. He claimed additional commitments from four councilmembers who are keeping quiet about it, for fear of being “targeted by the plastic bag industry.” “If New York City curbs plastic bag use, we’ll be the 144th municipality in the U.S. to do so,” Kostmayer said. “Better late than never, even if we are trailing North Carolina, Arizona and Texas. The bags can’t be recycled and have to be shipped out of the city to landfills at an annual cost of more than $12 million. That’s 17,000 tons of them a week, or 5.2 billion tons a year. A 10-cent fee will cut use dramatically and all you have to do is bring your own reusable bag. Let’s each do our part. Is that too much to ask?” The tote bags are fair trade, made in the U.S. “They’re really terrific bags,” he said. Kostmayer is a former congressmember from Bucks County, Penn. Regarding food separation for the Orthodox Jewish community in Mendez’s district, he said Citizens Committee has consulted with a rabbi who assures them that if milk is in a bottle and meat is packaged in plastic wrap, it’s kosher if they’re not in separate bags. “As long as they’re not touching, they’re O.K. is what we’ve been told,” he said. Another option is to use reusable cloth bags for this, as well, noted Saleen Shah, a Citizens Committee organizer. The group has given away 3,500 tote bags so far. Before the bill even gets to the full City Council, however, it must pass the Council’s Sanitation Committee — and that’s not a sure thing, according to Shah. The Citizens Committee is currently strongly lobbying a Bronx councilmember for his vote. The committee could vote this week or next.



#greenwichvillagenyc December 11, 2014


Marches, anger after ‘chokehold cop’ gets off Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN











Member of the New York Press Association

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The Villager (USPS 578930) ISSN 00426202 is published every week by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 (212) 229-1890. Periodicals Postage paid at New York, N.Y. Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $29 ($35 elsewhere). Single copy price at office and newsstands is $1. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2011 NYC Community Media LLC. 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 NYC Community Media, LLC One Metrotech North 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (718) 260-2500 • Fax: (212) 229-2790 On-line: E-mail: © 2012 NYC Community Media, LLC


December 11, 2014


rotesters took to the streets of Manhattan on the evening of Wed., Dec. 3, hours after a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo — who placed a fatal chokehold on Eric Garner, an unarmed black man. Several hundred people gathered at Union Square and Times Square to voice their outrage. Protesters marched as far north as W. 72nd St. and as far south as the Brooklyn Bridge in the subsequent eight hours — blocking traffic, staging sitins and receiving support from stalled motorists along the way. Activists also staged a “die-in” at Grand Central Station in the early evening. “I guess a lot of people had hope that we would at least have a trial,” said Von Damien Green, a resident of Harlem. “But I guess it’s just the built-up frustration from all of the disappointments that have gone on lately with the people who are supposed to protect us.” The city’s Medical Examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide, due to neck compression from the chokehold, along with chest compression while he was on the ground being restrained by police. Contributing factors also included asthma, heart disease, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Nine days before, a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, had announced that Darren Wilson, a police officer who shot Michael Brown and subsequently resigned, would not face criminal charges. Since Nov. 24, demonstrations against police brutality and institutionalized racism in America ensued — including a Dec. 1 high school student-led march from Union Square to Times Square. A statement from the NAACP expressed “disappointment” over the Garner decision, but added that the fight would continue to hold accountable police who kill people of color. “The grand jury’s decision does not mean a crime was not committed in Staten Island, New York, and it does not mean we are done fighting for Eric Garner,” Cornell William Brooks, NAACP president, said in the statement. Pantaleo could still face federal charges following the announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday that the Department of Justice would conduct its own investigation of the Garner case. Holder, like Mayor Bill de Blasio and other elected officials, urged calm on the part of New Yorkers disappointed by the Garner grand jury decision. “Today’s outcome is one that many in our city did not want,” the mayor said in a statement. “Yet New York City owns a proud and powerful tradition of expressing ourselves through nonviolent protest.” Rioting and looting erupted in Fer-




A female protester screamed as police handcuffed her on the Brooklyn Bridge on Dec. 3.

guson last week in response to the grand jury decision not to charge Wilson. Although the Dec. 3 New York City march was overwhelmingly peaceful, anger toward law enforcement was higher compared to other recent protests in the city. Scuffles erupted on W. 50th St. when dozens of police officers blocked the march from reaching Rockefeller Center, where the tree-lighting ceremony was being held. Police arrested at least one protester at the Sixth Ave. intersection. From there, the crowd headed west. Curious tourists took photos while patrons of one restaurant divided their attention between cable news analysis of the grand jury announcement and the march of about 1,000 people moving past. The marchers chanted: “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!,” “Black Lives Matter!” and “Whose Streets? Our Streets!” among other slogans. At Broadway, they took control of the street and marched to Columbus Circle where they sat in the street. Then they moved toward the Hudson River, reaching 12th Ave. near the Manhattan Cruise Terminal. Traffic stopped on the busy avenue as about 1,000 people swarmed the street. Police soon caught up and attempted to reroute traffic. Nonetheless, traffic remained stalled there for about an hour. Eventually, they moved east at W. 72 St. at about 9:45 p.m. Some in the crowd

wanted to go to Harlem, but the critical mass of protesters instead turned south. By 10:30 p.m. their numbers had fallen by half — but the march continued on. They went back to Columbus Circle, then Times Square and Penn Station, blocking traffic and conducting sit-ins every few blocks. Eventually, a group of about 200 people would reach the Brooklyn Bridge via the West Village and Chinatown. Police did not prevent protesters from accessing the bridge’s eastbound lane, but as the march approached Brooklyn, police issued a warning that the protesters were blocking traffic and would be arrested if they did not move forward. Another scuffle soon broke out. One officer arrested a woman by wrapping his arm around her neck and forcing her to the ground in a manner similar to the police maneuver utilized by Pantaleo against Garner. Police arrested several others on the bridge at about 1 a.m. Marchers interviewed said that the eight hours of rabblerousing highlighted popular discontent with the treatment of minorities by the New York Police Department and law enforcement nationwide. “I’m just happy to be a part of it and to be making a stand against a system that needs to be changed,” said Ashley Young, a resident of Flatbush, Brooklyn. “This is hopefully going to push us in the right direction.”

Time to derail this train! Die-in disrupts G.C.S. Three days after a Staten Island grand jury failed to indict Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the July 17 death of Eric Garner during a low-level quality-of-life arrest, protesters held a die-in in Grand Central Station’s main concourse.


December 11, 2014



Taking a stand by lying down in Washington Square On Sun., Dec. 7, around 1 p.m., protesters demonstrating over the lack of an indictment of a police officer in the death of Eric Garner got horizontal during a die-in in Washington Square Park.

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POLICE BLOTTER Meatpack glass attack A 33-year-old woman had a sour time at the Sugar Factory in the Meatpacking District on Sat., Dec. 6. According to police, another patron struck her multiple times with a wine glass at about 10 p.m. that night following an argument at the restaurant, at 46 Gansevoort St. The victim suffered several lacerations to her face, the police said. Carmen Ingram, 28, was charged with felony assault.

Hotel guest from hell Social etiquette went out the window at the swanky Jane Hotel on Sun., Dec. 7. A guest invited to a hotel room there began arguing with his hosts at about 7 a.m., police said. Then things got physical when Jalaludin Mahmoud, 32, allegedly punched a fellow reveler, who suffered swelling, bruising and a cut-up nose. Mahmoud then allegedly took the 35-year-old victim’s credit card and fled the hotel, at 113 Jane St. Police caught up with him, though, as he ran down the block. Mahmoud was charged with felony robbery. The victim got his credit card back and refused medical attention.

Drunk taxi joyride Police say GPS tracking enabled them to locate a cab stolen near the intersection of E. 12th St. and Fifth

Ave. at about 4 a.m. on Sun., Dec. 7. In plain view of the cabbie, a woman allegedly slid into the driver’s seat and drove off, police said. When police caught up with her, she was still in the driver’s seat with the engine running. The arresting officer reportedly smelled booze and noted the perpetrator’s slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. At about 6 a.m. a test given at the 28th Precinct in Harlem indicated a blood alcohol content of .229, nearly three times the legal limit. Elizabeth Otero, 28, faces a sobering charge of grand larceny.


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Zapped at school Police say an 18-year-old man, apparently a student, tasered a woman inside City As School, at 16 Clarkson St., after she asked him to move his bag from a table on Thurs., Dec. 4. The teenager reportedly let the juice flow three times at about 12:35 p.m. as the woman, 30, turned to show an alternative location for the bag. The victim suffered red welts to her back and a fair amount of pain and was transported from the school to New York-Presbyterian/Lower Manhattan Hospital. A detective tracked down Kyle Allwood and arrested him for felony assault. School officials did not respond to a phone message seeking more information.

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H.P.D. backs off Section 8 downsizing


ast Friday, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development announced that tenants under the federal Section 8 voucher program who live alone will no longer be forced to downsize to a studio apartment if they currently live in a one-bedroom unit. H.P.D. has estimated this decision will protect roughly 3,325 Section 8 tenants from downsizing. In response, City Councilmembers Margaret Chin, Ritchie Torres and Jumaane Williams — who respectively chair the Council’s Committee on Aging, Committee on Public Housing and Committee on Housing and Buildings — released the following statement: “This announcement by H.P.D. is a step in the right direction that will protect thousands of Section 8 tenants

— particularly some of our city’s most vulnerable senior and working-class citizens — from the unfair and untenable practice of downsizing. Like many of our elected colleagues across the city, our highest priority is to ensure that we do everything we can to end the crisis of affordability in housing. But the bottom line is that we need the federal government to increase funding to our city’s housing agencies, who have the responsibility for finding truly income-targeted housing for millions of New Yorkers in the nation’s most populous, highest-density city. Thank you to H.P.D. Commissioner Vicki Bean for listening to our concerns and implementing this encouraging reform, which further shows that H.P.D. is taking a more balanced and humane approach in dealing with this issue.”




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Rose Marie Barbieri, 85, lifelong Village resident OBITUARY

live most of her life on W. Third St. “Her father, Charles Maravolo, known as Buck, owned a bar and grill on W. Third St. during the DeBY ALBERT AMATEAU pression,” her son said. “Her mother, Rose, was from Mott St.” ose Marie Barbieri, a lifeRose Marie had two brothers, long resident of Greenwich Phillip and Anthony, both deVillage who was born in the ceased. neighborhood, as was her father be“Anthony was well known as fore her, died Mon., Nov. 24, at her Tony Marlo, the porter at the White home in the Village. She was 85. Horse on Hudson St.,” Glenn said. Her son, Glenn, told The VillagRose Marie Maravolo went to er that she had been vigorous until school first at Our Lady of Pomshe became ill seven weeks ago. peii and then to P.S. 3. She went to “When I was very young and Washington Irving when it was an going to P.S. 41, she became a vol- all-girls high school and married unteer at the school and remained her childhood sweetheart, Robert active until I went to St. Anthony’s Barbieri, from Prince St. School in the fifth grade,” her son “She put him through college,” said. “She then volunteered at St. her son said. “My father used to say Anthony’s and was active in the he was the first person in his family parish all her life.” to go to college and it was all beA resident of Washington Square cause of her,” he added. Village for the past 15 years, she Robert, a computer consultant, died in 1998. Rose Marie started working as a secretary in a medical advertising agency and rose in the company to become a supervisor. “Later she worked as a substitute teacher at nursery schools in the Village, including First Presbyterian,” Glenn said. “She was really good with children and was very proud of her teaching career. “She was witness to a lot of changes in the Village,” he said. “She remembered the Sixth Ave. El that turned east on Third St. and went downtown on West Broadway. Rose Marie Barbieri. She was into fashion and loved to dress, even after she became ill.” In addition to her son, a nephew and a niece survive, as does an aunt, Flo Amaroso, a Village resident, now 95. A daughter, Roberta, died in 1999. If you appreciate peace of mind, you’ll understand why it makes The wake was at Persense to preplan with us. razzo Funeral Home, We know of no other policies that work as this: 199 Bleecker St., on • Spares your family from making detailed decisions at an emotional time • Ensures that wishes are expressed Nov. 28, and the funer• Prevents overspending and can lock in costs al was Nov. 29 at St. AnWe’re experts at preplanning and know all of the issues thony’s Church. that may arise. Call us, you’ll be glad you did Burial was in Calva325 W. 14th St. New York, NY 10014 ry Cemetery.


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Benny’s Burritos shuts restaurant, opens takeout BY HANA RASKIN


ews that Benny’s Burritos restaurant was closing quickly reverberated through the East Village, and beyond. On the day the word got out, my uncle in Germany e-mailed my father, asking if he was ready to move back to Europe now that “Benny’s has closed.” Founder Mark Merker opened Harry’s and Benny’s Burritos restaurants in New York after returning from San Francisco to New York, where he had a hard time finding a burrito with a similar taste to those he had enjoyed on the West Coast. The East Village’s Benny’s Burritos was born in 1988, and provided its customers with affordable California-style Mexican food ever since. The menu had options to satisfy all, but the gigantic burritos were the real pull. Vegetarians, vegans and other health-conscious eaters could substitute nondairy and healthier options, and kids could put together ingredients to roll their own burritos. The food was good, but what made Benny’s such a neighborhood staple was the friendly, mostly long-term staff who would remember your order, and cheer with you when the Yankees scored a run. “I’ve been going to Benny’s since I was a child,” said East Villager Rudi Salpietra, “and it’s heart-wrenching to lose this piece of both my personal history and the history of the neighborhood.” Jody Oberfelder, another Benny’s regular, said, “Benny’s was the place where we always celebrated the end of the school year. Shoving tables together to fit us all, it was a treasured ritual. After the Two Boots restaurant closed, it was the only kid-friendly place in the East Village. “The margaritas were also great,” she added. Although the Benny’s we know has closed, it has an afterlife in the form

Benny’s Burritos restaurant is closed for good, but it has a new takeout place next door.

of a takeout place, which is already up and running. The takeout spot is next door to the Avenue A and E. Sixth St. location, and has several tables and the same menu as the restaurant — minus the drinks. They will also offer free delivery seven days a week from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Merker has been quoted as saying that Benny’s did not close because business had decreased, but rather because it had been consistent — and with rising costs, consistency was not enough for his business to survive. Whatever the case may be, the East Village has lost another local business, and this one really hurts.

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On the night of Dec. 3, after a grand jury failed to press charges against Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Eric Garner’s death, a protester held a sign with the words that Garner repeated over and over again before he died while being arrested.


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Secret plans and meetings To The Editor: Re “Pier55 and public process in Hudson River Park” (editorial, Dec. 4): While Mr. Diller and Ms. von Furstenberg’s generosity is certainly appreciated, what would be more appreciated would be real leadership from the Hudson River Park Trust, which has ignored its duty to finish and maintain the Hudson River Park. In 2012 the Trust reported to New York State


Let’s give “peace” a chance. 10

December 11, 2014

that the capital budget to finish the Hudson River Park was $266 million, with $67 million of that amount needed to complete Pier 54. With secret plans, secret meetings and a failure to either finish or maintain the park, the Trust has abandoned all pretense of serving the public. Douglas Durst

Fantasy island vs. reality To The Editor: Re “Pier55 and public process in Hudson River Park” (editorial, Dec. 4): “Many neighbors and park activists will cry...?” Or, said differently, those of us who have donated decades of unpaid labor to improve our parks will ask, ever so politely, if the public will have any real say over how public money is spent — not just a chance to vent uselessly. “The city will kick in an additional $17 million… . Utilizing $18 million in state funds… .” That’s $35 million — not to mention future maintenance after that 20-year grace period, along with a host of unknowable expenses.  The real problem with a fantasy island concept is that it in no way represents a scientifically verifiable best use of anyone’s money toward mitigating our very real, very impending climate-crisis impacts. And I’m not talking about saving the fish or the turtles — much as that issue is dear to me. I’m talking about the reality of what our city will be facing if we don’t create a regionally holistic, climate-proactive shoreline plan for the next 30 years. This gift was, I believe, well intentioned. But the very rich are not known for their expertise in mundane reality. Nero and Marie Antoinette LETTERS, continued on p. 13

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December 11, 2014

Storied LaSalle program looking for next stars SPORTS BY ROBERT ELKIN


et’s turn the clock back in high school basketball history and ask ourselves who are some of the greatest players ever to come out of the Catholic High School Athletic Association of New York City. There are too many great ones to single out anyone. However, one hoop buff can’t leave out two players who eventually starred in the National Basketball Association where they made names for themselves. And they both played in different eras. They are guard Dick McGuire and forward Ron Artest, now known as Metta World Peace. The latter played for six teams in the NBA, including the New York Knicks. And they both came out of LaSalle Academy. But one can’t forget Jarrel Joye, the school’s all-time leading scorer, and Shammgod Wells, and still another ex-LaSalle sensation, John Candelaria, who was more known for his baseball ability than for basketball. Probably, Candaleria is the greatest multiple-sports athlete produced at LaSalle, for he excelled in basketball, too. Is there another great player on the way? Right now there aren’t any marquee players on the roster

A high school star at La Salle, Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest) played at St. John’s University, followed by a long NBA career. Known for his tough defense, he’s currently playing ball in China and is reportedly in the process of changing his name to The Pandas Friend.

of the boy’s varsity basketball team at LaSalle. They are all about evenly matched. But one never knows if a star is in the making. “We hope that another All-American or even just a great player is on the way,” said Jerome Pannell, in his first year as head varsity coach at LaSalle, speaking before a recent afternoon practice session. “We are really young and we have a deep freshman class. “We hope again that we can produce high-level student-athletes, and mult iple-sports athletes, and guys who can go to the next level and have great success, as well.” Pannell’s current starting roster includes seniors Brian Bass and Stephon Riley, Junior Traigan James and Sophomores J’ne Williams and Bryce Council. Last winter, Bass scored at a 2 0 - p o i n t- a - g a m e clip and Riley went for about nine rebounds a game last winter. Including Bass, who is an AllCity candidate, the Cardinals return four players from last year’s team. “Guard play is a Former Cardinal John Roche went on to a pro career major strength on in the ABA and NBA in the 1970s, once hitting seven this year’s team,”

said Pannell, a graduate of Cathedral Prep High School and City College of New York. Regarding their offense, he said, “We have a number of shooters. Shooting and team quickness are our other strengths. And our taller

players have good speed and are versatile. “Defensively, we should be tough,” he added. “We’ll most likely play man-to-man defense. Our weakness is that we turn the ball over too much. Our youth can be a weakness. We are inexperienced on the varsity level. As a team we are coming together.” Despite having an extensive background coaching basketball at different levels and organizations and working at summer camps, Pannell is in his first year of coaching a high school varsity basketball team. “Coaching is still very new,” said Pannell, 36. “It’s different because you are running an entire program, as opposed to organizing one team. It’s trying to establish a new foundation…and not just rebuilding. It’s trying to make something sustainable in terms of rebuilding.” Pannell named Bass and swingman Adrian Corbin as co-captains. “Hearing that players like Ron Artest came out of LaSalle induced me to come here,” said Bass. “I think that we’ll go far this year,” Corbin added. “We have a good group of kids who want to learn,” Pannell summed up. “I’m excited.”



three-pointers in one quarter.

December 11, 2014



December 11, 2014

Famed De Robertis Pasticceria closes on 1st Ave. DE ROBERTIS, continued from p. 1


ily put in their final hours working at the iconic East Village shop last Friday. Dana set up pastries and cappuccino for the loyal patrons who were lingering all afternoon. Her brother, John III, boxed outgoing orders of cakes, cannoli and cookies. Even their father, John Jr., served customers nonstop, only briefly taking a break to pose for a photo. The TV news was there to cover it, too. It was hard for everyone to say goodbye. Paolo, the legendary pastry place’s patriarch, opened shop 110 years ago at E. 11th St. and First Ave., with the original name Caffe Pugliese, in honor of his Italian birthplace. Paolo trained John Sr., whose four children, including John Jr., grew up above the shop. When help was needed, John Sr. would rap on the pipe. Come dinnertime, the pipe would clang again, this time from above. John Jr. took over, then eventually passed the responsibilities to his two children, Dana and John III. The cafe was refurbished in 1952, and hasn’t changed since. The building, bought by the third generation’s four siblings some decades ago, has now been sold. The reason given was changing times and tastes and family members’ own changing health needs. On the final afternoon, Steve Greenstein, a musician and actor, was enjoying his last pastry at De Robertis. From 2005 to 2008, on Friday and Saturday evenings, he was hired by the place to play violin or harmonica with a friend on guitar, leading Bob Dylan or Peter Seeger songfests. “We were hit by the recession,” he said of why the “sweet gig” ended. Actor Vincent Piazza came in for a fond gustatory goodbye. He played Lucky Luciano in the five-season HBO series “Empire Boardwalk,” and had hung out there doing research to get a sense of place and time — the 1920s — as did other cast members. When John Jr., while working the counter, was asked, “Did the mafia come here?” he raised his eyebrows and his palms upward and answered, “So, the story goes.” And it is quite a story. Not only did the real Luciano hang out there, it was said that his gangland ally Meyer Lansky frequented the place in the ’20s. Another patron, drinking his last cappuccino, gave his name as “Mo… just Mo.” Asked if this had been a place where the mafia would come, he simply answered, “They liked Italian pastries.” The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s blog provides more information about some of the

John De Robertis, Jr., left, and his daughter, Dana, right, with actor Vincent Piazza on the pasticceria’s closing day.

place’s former clientele. For example, in 1935, “Mike the Boss” Sabbitini was arrested with others for running Italian numbers out of De Robertis. In the ’70s it was a favorite spot for Carmine “Lilo” Galante, then boss of the Bonanno crime family. In the late ’80s and ’90s, according to the G.V.S.H.P. site, a long list of mafia names pop up connected to doing business inside DeRobertis. Additionally, the shop with its rich atmosphere made cameo film appearances in Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X,” Woody Allen’s “Manhattan Murder Mystery” and the first episode of “Sex and the City.” Business was steady on the last afternoon. Three generations of one family crowded around a table, though they claimed a five-generation connection to the pasticceria. “I came with my grandmother, whose store was across the street, when I was five,” recalled Joe Guccione, 77. “Here is my granddaughter,” he said, pointing to the baby in a stroller by the table. On the other hand, New York newbie Susan Penn moved to the neighborhood from Austin five years ago. “I treasure this place,” she said. Luisa Aponte, a 60-year East Village resident who lives on E. 13th St., was eating with her two daughters and a friend, Isaac Collazo, a neighbor of 19 years. Collazo listed the croissants, napoleons and apple turnovers as his favorites. Daughter Judith accurately ob-

Regulars enjoyed cappuccino and cannoli in the classic cafe on De Robertis Pasticceria’s final day.

served, “Here, there is a real mix of people and families.” By midafternoon Frank Sinatra’s “Thanks for the Memories” was playing. Emily Allan, an actress/writer, 23, was reading Henry Miller’s novel “Sexus” while finishing up her cappuccino. “I grew up on E. 12th St. and have been coming since I was a baby,” said Allan, who was probably the youngest “regular” there. “This place is atypical — not just people on their computers,” she added. Or as another regular put it, “This is a place for people in the neighborhood, a place where they feel comfortable.”

As time marches on, sometimes owners of older establishments don’t really want to adapt. And admittedly, many of the regulars paying tribute on this last day commented that they hadn’t seen such a lively buzz there in a long time. Last Friday, though, it was all nostalgia in the air. At one point, during the afternoon, as she was hustling up the coffees and pastries, Dana was spotted tearing up. “This is bittersweet,” said her brother, John. Although the bakery was scheduled to close at 3 p.m., hours later they were still doing a brisk business. “What can we do?” John said with a shrug. “People are having a good time.” December 11, 2014


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Continued from p. 13

Can’t just ‘shake this off’ To The Editor: Re “Swift as N.Y.C. ambassador is not welcome on the L.E.S.” (talking point, by Clayton Patterson, Nov. 27): While the Ferguson demonstrations were going on, I wondered what Taylor Swift was thinking about her version of New York. I agree with Clayton Patterson that it is not surprising that Swift would accept the offer of cultural ambassador of New York. After all, she is part of the corporate machine and has been since her father invested in the record label that produces her records. The key question is who in the Mayor’s Office would have agreed to offer a neophyte who just moved to New York — who has no association with New York — this role? And why weren’t the citizens of New York consulted on who we feel is an appropriate artist to represent our city?  Picking Taylor Swift to be cultural ambassador of New York is an exceedingly poor choice in a city where so many internationally famous artists have made their homes and their artistic reputations for decades, such as Debby Harry, Patti Smith, Fran Lebowitz, Yoko Ono, Laurie Anderson, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, among so many others. Clearly, the choice of Swift, who has lived here for a matter of months and who appeals to the lowest common denominator, is a thoughtless act and is crass and poor marketing, even as it shows the desire to homogenize New York further as a destination for the tackiest kind of tourism.  The voice of the people of New York has long been silenced as corporate powers have invaded our city’s government.  We should turn our sights on who was behind this appointment because that person or persons is an enemy of New York and an enemy of New Yorkers. There is clearly an agenda to turn New York into a city for oligarchs, the ultra-rich and tourists. New Yorkers rise up! Power to the people!  Penny Arcade


December 11, 2014

The Age of Kardashian

Natives are restless

To The Editor: Re “Swift as N.Y.C. ambassador is not welcome on the L.E.S.” (talking point, by Clayton Patterson, Nov. 27): Taylor Swift’s ambassadorship was perfectly timed with the release of her album “1989.” She and her handlers are less concerned about New York and more concerned about her record sales. She is, after all, kicking Spotify’s ass. There were so many other deserving New York celebrities that could have and should have been the face of N.Y.C. But everything is bought and sold these days. Money is the only culture left. It has permeated every cell, multiplying like cancer. This is the age of Kim Kardashian — who is plastic, dumb, meritless, but a great marketer of this new celebrity-culture obsession. So, astute people bought her book of selfies. Authenticity has vanished. New York City, the last holdout, has caved. It has finally and officially joined the mind-numbing, dumbing down-of-America movement. Maybe Taylor Swift does make sense in this homogenized and moneyed New York?

To The Editor: Re “Swift as N.Y.C. ambassador is not welcome on the L.E.S.” (talking point, by Clayton Patterson, Nov. 27): New York City started losing its soul when our accents started being replaced with Valley Girl speak in the 1980s. The selling of the city to real estate moguls over the years has led to the mallification of this town, as historic buildings and sites are demolished and as actual working-class and middle-class native New Yorkers have been forced out of their homes — because we don’t make six-figure salaries. It’s another slap in the face to lifelong native New Yorkers that the city is now offering a nonnative New Yorker the position of ambassador. Being an ambassador implies you are from a given place. Taylor Swift is not from here. There are many talented people who are from this gorgeously creative town. Why not give this position to someone who truly represents our essence?

Diem Boyd

Economics of bike-share

Rotating ambassadors To The Editor: Re “Swift as N.Y.C. ambassador is not welcome on the L.E.S.” (talking point, by Clayton Patterson, Nov. 27): The simplest way to put it — as Clayton seems to indicate — is not that there is one specific way of seeing New York City. Since government using artists to represent itself is always controversial, it seems that instead of having one cultural ambassador, there should be many rotating ambassadors, who would indicate the tremendous diversity of what has already been achieved, what is happening now, and what young artists hope for the future of New York. That would be bold and welcoming. I’m a native New Yorker, more or less, but that’s why we stayed — because everyone who was interesting came here. Matthew Kohn

Liz Pressman

To The Editor: Re “Bicycle shop owner says CitiBike mowed him down” (news article, Dec. 4): Indy’s system is private, as is Nashville’s. Trek and Humana are involved. Alta Bike Sharing, a private company, operates dozens of bikeshare programs across the country. To suggest that these are not private systems is just wrong. They are cases where large corporations can leverage assets and squeeze smaller players out of the market. That’s all well and good, unless they’re selling below cost. Then it’s predatory and in direct violation of federal antitrust law. R.J. Sharpe

A hard look at murals To The Editor: Re “Chico loses Loisaida wall to New Jersey upstart” (news article, Nov. 27): I agree with neighbors who feel

that a space like the walls of RCN would more interestingly go to Lower East Side-based artists. By the way, I have run into Chico recently here in the L.E.S., so it seems he couldn’t stay away, and I would still count him as local. I worked in a Mexican community and educational center, Casa Aztlan, in Chicago’s Pilsen area for a few years. I always noticed that the mural art there had a more noncommercial and a more overtly revolutionary bent than a lot of the public art on the L.E.S. But the spin on pop culture that pervades a lot of our local murals does authentically reflect some tastes and values in our ’hood. I remember and miss the engaged art on the walls bordering Chico Mendez garden on E. 11th St. (and many other spaces now painted over). I’m glad socially relevant murals are preserved in La Plaza Cultural (“La lucha continúa!”) and beside Carmen’s currently languishing garden behind Casa Victoria on Avenue C between Seventh and Eighth. I wish such engagement didn’t seem like an idyll from another age! There should be space for lots of artists. Why not paint subway cars again? Or fill the display panels inside the cars with art rather than ads? Sorry to hear that RCN has been and continues to be disrespectful of artists and the community. They should hear the critique and respond in a positive way. Elizabeth Ruf-Maldonado E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.

SOUND OFF! Write a letter to the editor


December 11, 2014



December 11, 2014

RUDOPLH, continued from p. 20

of them from brain cancer.”

tice in Eugene, Oregon and is the author of “Sub Plot: The Gulag of Misfit Toys.” “Anyone can see a train with square wheels is challenged. People can be cruel, but they can also see with their own eyes what the problem is. Some disabilities are not so visible. Some disabilities are on the inside. That was me. ‘What are you doing here, what are you doing here?’ That’s what they all kept asking me. Bird that Swam, Jelly-Shooting Water Pistol, all of them. Oh, I was in the right place, all right. How ironic I should have survived. What happened to us was terrible, terrible. Was it Rudolph’s fault? No. No. Should he have seen, should he have known? Perhaps. He was a young buck with serious problems of his own. In my book, I say he was as much a victim, as much a ‘misfit’ as the rest of us. Do you know I got death threats for saying that? Death threats. Imagine. Santa says he didn’t know. Santa says Moonracer supplied the parachutes. Santa says he was as shocked and horrified as anybody else. Well, he’s given a lot of money to the survivors over the years. Did it begin and end with Moon Racer? It seems impossible to me. But we’re all old now, aren’t we? If anyone was going to come forward...No, no, it’s done. It’s a closed book. Anyone who knew anything died a long time ago. Most


Tall Elf With Glasses left the North Pole in 1975 and worked as a merchant marine, shrimp fisherman, roofer and drifter prior to his arrest in 1988 for a series of pipe bombings he claims he did not commit. “Yeah. Yeah. Pipe bombing. All too convenient, right? They followed me for years, dropping evidence wherever I holed up. Bunch of wires in an Alaska flophouse, blown up mailbox in Klamath Falls, whatever town I took some crap job in. Because I know, see? I know it all. They hadda make it so they could get me out of the way whenever they needed to. Make it so if I ever got called to the stand at Moonracer’s trial, no one would believe me. Cause I could connect the dots, see? Oh, yeah, yeah, glow in the dark paint, lotta dead elves, class action lawsuit, Santa settles, he’s very sorry, what a tragedy, lets establish a foundation... It’s a drop in the bucket for him. He’s Santa! Nothing sticks too him. Listen. Rudy? Brain Cancer. His folks? Brain Cancer. Clarice? DYING...of BRAIN CANCER! When did any of those poor bastards ever pick up a paintbrush with glow in the dark paint on it? NEVER! Reindeers DO NOT MAKE TOYS! Oh, oh, oh,

and a whole bunch of toys that MIGHT have died of cancer just happen to get shoveled out of Santa’s sleigh with defective parachutes — and Moonracer, ever the good soldier, it’s all his fault. And which elf does not eventually end up with brain cancer? The TALL elf. Me. Me and Bumble are cancer-free. The only ones with their brains at least three feet away from that damn nose! You do the math. You ask yourself how some poor little reindeer got born the way he did and how Santa always wore a lead-lined hat for what, a FASHION STATEMENT?! ‘You could even say it glows?!’ Hello? What do you think makes a reindeer schnozz glow bright enough to cut through a winter storm? That beak was friggin’ radioactive! You know what? I’m tired. Leave me alone. Get outta here, go on, lemmee rot. Visiting hours are over.”


King Moonracer was tried and found guilty of crimes against toymanity by the World Court at The Hague in 1989. Sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, he died of pancreatic cancer in 1991.

NOTE: For the real story, see


Serious questions raised by the Rankin/Bass ‘Rudolph’ BY MAX BURBANK


WHY IS SANTA SUCH A JERK? I’m going to say bipolar. The elves sing him a very nice song and he’s a total jerk about it, leaving the desperately co-dependent Mrs. Claus to patch things up. He has some sort of eating disorder that causes his weight to fluctuate wildly. He tells Dasher he should be ashamed for presenting Rudolph to the community simply because the child has some sort of nose birth defect. Plus, this guy is absolutely ITCHING to cancel Christmas. Hey Santa. It’s not your call. Christmas is the day Jesus was born. God will let you know if Christmas is cancelled. Until then, get in the damn sleigh.

WHY DOESN’T CHARLIE IN THE BOX CHANGE HIS NAME? You can do that, you know. Have your name changed. WHY DOESN’T THE JELLY-SQUIRTING WATER PISTOL EMPTY OUT THE JELLY AND PUT IN WATER? I mean, it’s not brain surgery. Stop looking for Santa to solve your problems.


WHAT IS WRONG WITH TIME AT THE NORTH POLE? Okay, follow me here. Rudolph runs away from home right after reindeer practice. He has adventures with Hermey and Yukon Cornelius and visits the Island of Misfit Toys. Then he leaves them behind and is off on his own long enough to enter puberty and grow antlers. Meanwhile, his Dad went to look for him right after he ran away, followed almost immediately by his mom and Clarice. The near-adult Rudolph returns home to be informed by Santa that everyone’s gone looking for

him. We know it’s been less than a year because Santa says he can’t fly the team without Rudolph’s dad, but it sure has been a while. Rudolph goes directly to the Abominable Snow Monster’s cave. Just in time to stop him from eating the oddly provocative Clarice! How are we supposed to view this sequence of events? Were mom, dad and Clarice looking for Rudolph for almost a year before the Abominable caught them? It’s just a coincidence Rudolph stumbles upon them moments after that? I think this stretches credulity. I’m forced to assume that somewhere in the vicinity of the Island of Misfit Toys, there’s an object of immense mass, perhaps a Fallen White Dwarf Star, and that proximity to this mass causes relativity in time so that Rudolph has aged nearly a year while only having left the Pole for about a day.

Santa’s fluctuating weight and the passage of time are both legitimate loose ends to ponder, in the Rankin/Bass interpretation of “Rudoloph.” December 11, 2014


Life after ‘Rudolph’ wasn’t all reindeer games RUDOPLH, continued from p. 17



Telling Rudolph’s story was only a single stop on Sam the Snowman’s long life journey. Blacklisted for his membership in the Communist party, Sam the Snowman made a remarkable comeback, winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Snowman in “The Big Country With A Lot Of Snow” — but he is probably best remembered for his mu-


“Bumble” as he’s still called, runs an LGBT trailer park in Saskatoon, Canada. “I’ll tell you what. When Hermey, the elf who wanted to be a dentist, pulled my teeth? I may not have asked for it, but it was empowering. He could never help himself, but he sure helped me. He had the deepest closet of anybody I’ve ever known. What was he hiding from? His imagination. We were all gay up there! Anyhoo, before I got my chompers yanked, it was all ‘monster this, monster that.’ Well you know what? I AM a monster. I’m a big, gay, hairy monster, which is just how God made me. But it doesn’t mean I have to devour talking sentient reindeer, does it? We all make our own prisons, don’t we? Well, bust out, that’s what I say! I’m still in touch with the old gang. I see them at fan cons, or we email. I won the King Polar Bear sash in Key West five years running! I mean, come on, who’s going to beat me? Unless I let ‘em, right? Which I sometimes do. I can’t go anymore. It’s just too much of a schlep, with my hip and all. Oh, it’s just arthritis, don’t worry about me! I’m just about the only one of us who didn’t get ‘The Big C.’ I guess I’m just lucky.”

What was King Moonracer’s true involvement in the disastrous parachute drop? Misfit Doll and Tall Elf have their own theories.

sic. Prominent New York Times music critic John Rockwell famously wrote: “Sam the Snowman’s voice...had the sheen and finesse of opera without its latter-day Puccinian vulgarities and without the pretensions of operatic ritual. It was genteel in expressive impact without being genteel in social con-


Now retired and living in Boca, Clarice speaks bitterly about “livin’ in a North Pole cave with a Reindeer with clinical depression who refuses to get treatment.”

formity. And it moved people.” In 1995, Sam the Snowman died of cancer of the mouth at the age of 85. In accordance with his wishes, he was melted. His water was scattered over the Grande Tetons by his life partner Snow Miser.


Misfit Doll runs a successful psychotherapy prac-

The United States Postal Service gave the Rankin/Bass version of “Rudolph” its stamp of approval, with this four-set collection marking the beloved TV special’s 50th anniversary.


December 11, 2014

RUDOLPH, continued on p. 21

Village kids know there’s no place like home ‘A Little Game’ is savvy, sweet and honest FILM

A LITTLE GAME Written & Directed by Evan Oppenheimer Opens December 12 1:05, 3:20, 5:15, 7:20 & 9:30 p.m. daily At the Quad Cinema 34 W. 13th St. (btw. Fifth & Sixth Aves.) Info: 212-255-2243 or Group Sales: (enter zip code 10011) Q&A following Dec. 12 & 13’s 5:15 & 7:20 screenings Visit



ike the game she must master in order to beat a condescending rival, metaphor-hating math whiz Maxine “Max” Kuftinec’s winning strategy for overcoming a series of recent upheavals hinges on learning how to move one step at a time, while keeping her eye on the big picture. It’s a life lesson that starts with a fivebuck instructor’s fee, payable to New York City’s grouchiest chess player. Filled with candid observations about adult concerns and schoolyard conflicts, screenwriter/director Evan Oppenheimer’s tart and engaging contemporary fairy tale hits all standard notes (cruel villain, wise mentor, peasant girl quest) while delivering a storybook ending that allows its hero to arrive at the classic “no place like home” realization in unconventional and surprising ways. Shot largely in and around Washington Square Park in a style where the chaotic motion of everyday life often leaves a blurry trail that invokes the goal-oriented movement of chess pieces, “A Little Game” is a quirky, affectionate tribute to the urban environment and the skills one must acquire in or-

back to the suburbs,” he growls at Max’s Blackstone tormentor, when the girl proudly announces she’s from the Upper West Side.) Max and Norman soon come to a point of mutual respect, through a dynamic that recalls Mr. Miyagi and his young student. Confident director Oppenheimer lets Max blossom into a Max (Makenna Ballard) and Norman (F. Murray Abraham) lock horns and match champion without the wits, in Washington Square Park. requisite genre trainder to navigate it. ing montage — although that “Karate Kid” nod Slow to embrace change and quick to make ex- comes with a sly wink: hero’s journey vet Ralph cuses, ten-year-old Greenwich Village resident Macchio plays Max’s soft-spoken dad, who works Max (Makenna Ballard, in her nuanced and as- as the super for their building. sured film debut) is forced to stretch beyond her Other recognizable faces delivering wonderfully comfort zone when she transfers from nearby PS 41 understated performances include Janeane Garoto uptown’s Blackstone Academy. During a visit to falo as Max’s nurturing but largely absent mom, a the Chess Club, a deal is struck with her bully: Max very funny Rachel Dratch as the aunt who agrees to beats her at chess, and the public humiliation stops. pass herself off as a nanny, and Olympia Dukakis Max loses, and she leaves school. as stern Greek grandmother Yaya — whose unexDesperate to learn the game from square one pected death doesn’t prevent her from making late and driven by the thought of sweet revenge, the night appearances in Max’s bedroom rocking chair. increasingly independent Max walks herself home She could be a legitimate spirit guide, or just the from school and locks eyes with Norman Wallach figment (“pigment,” says Yaya) of a very stressed — a chess player so good, and so mean, that he ten-year-old girl’s imagination. appears to be the one guy in Washington Square Max isn’t the only one kept up at night with worPark who sits behind his chess board without a ries. Her mom and dad have to constantly make challenger. (“What is it with these names,” he barks adjustments in order to afford Blackstone. When upon meeting Max. “It’s like we’re all in a 1920s Tom complains about Sara’s decision to take work tenement.”) as a chef in Boston, she fires right back at him for Playing grizzled to the uncompromising hilt, F. having such a low-paying job. It’s not the only Murray Abraham’s Norman is soon dispensing time the filmmaker lets his young target audience wisdom in manners both obvious and cryptic. It’s eavesdrop on a moment that’s honest to the point all part of his grand scheme to turn Max into a mas- of being disturbing. But facing harsh realities and ter strategist without ever letting her play an actual growing up because of it is, after all, the stuff of game — by showing her how to tap into that down- great fairy tales — and that’s what makes “A Little town “city kid” way of looking at things. (“Go Game” a classic in its own right.

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December 11, 2014


Ghosts of ‘Christmas Carol’ past

Flintstone, Fonzie and many more had their turn as Scrooge BY TRAV S.D. (TRAVSD.WORDPRESS.COM)



t won’t be news to readers of this publication that in 2014 there are so many film and television versions of Charles Dickens’ 1843 tale “A Christmas Carol,” we could fill the entire newspaper. Countless actors have essayed the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, chewing scenery like so many Christmas chestnuts. Among them: Lionel Barrymore, Alistair Sim, Reginald Owen, Albert Finney and Patrick Stewart. But with so many scores of straightforward adaptations to choose from, it can make your head spin. Better to artificially restrict the pool somewhat. That’s why, for this Yuletide season, I offer up this list of (Some of the) More Non-Traditional Versions of a Christmas Carol.

From 1984: George C. Scott’s “subdued and tasteful” Scrooge is a unexpected choice, given the TV movie aired in a decade known for its excess.



This is an all-star production created by Rod Serling, as some sort of tribute to the United Nations. It is a fairly incoherent Cold War updating of the parable starring Sterling Hayden as the Scrooge figure, whose crime is he doesn’t want to pay taxes that will go to international aid and defense! Propaganda FOR taxation — whoo boy — it’s been a LONG time since we’ve heard that! Also in the cast: Pat Hingle, Steve Lawrence, Peter Sellers and Britt Ekland.

“RICH LITTLE’S CHRISTMAS CAROL” (1978) A cringe-inducing font of embarrassment, leaning heavily on a laugh track in a story that is largely not supposed to be a comedy. Little’s out-of-date impressions of 1930s celebrities were like a portion of gruel to be choked down by 1978. In 2014, it’s like looking at archival footage of an old sleigh wreck. In this HBO comedy special, he plays all the parts as different movie stars, with W.C. Fields as Scrooge. Thirty seconds was enough for me to want to step out the window — and unlike Jacob Marley, I can’t fly!


December 11, 2014

Henry Winkler’s stab at Scrooge was a departure for The Fonz, as was the Great Depression setting of “An American Christmas Carol.”


We watched this one with great interest when I was a kid. Henry Winkler, in full ham actor mode, was eager to prove that he could be more than just The Fonz. But The Fonz was so indelible, you would watch these performances and go, “Look at him try to not be The Fonz!” What makes this little TV movie interesting is that it is set in America during the Great Depression, which is an apt transposition. With no “safety net” yet in place, the poor were just as in need of generosity as were the inhabitants of Dickens’ England.

“A CHRISTMAS CAROL” (1984) Who radiates unapproachable nastiness better than George C. Scott? When this TV movie version of the familiar TV was announced it provoked the cry from me, “Oh, forbear, spirits!” By that late date, the market would seem already to have been glutted. But as it hap-

pens, Scott managed to pull off a minor Christmas miracle precisely by NOT being the Scrooge from central casting. Rather than being a cartoonish Englishman snarling “Bah! Humbug!,” Scott gave a subdued, tasteful, human performance, winning many critical plaudits for his new twist on an old warhorse.

“A FLINTSTONES CHRISTMAS CAROL” (1994) Yabba dabba don’t!

“EBBIE” (1995) “Queen of Mean” soap opera star Susan Lucci shows “you’ve come a long way, baby” by proving that lady executives can be just as mean as men in this made-for-TV movie. Lucci has the dubious distinction of being the first female Scrooge, or SCRILF.

“MS. SCROOGE” (1997) Cicely Tyson is the first black woman in the role as one “Ebenita”

Scrooge (The first black man was of course Redd Foxx in the “Christmas Carol” episode of “Sanford and Son”). Dubious progress perhaps, but at least it was a better gig for the Oscar nominated actress than “Madea’s Family Reunion.”

“EBENEZER” (1999) This is a Canadian version of the tale set in the Old West with a wizened, murderous Jack Palance in the title role. I would not recommend begging for charity at THIS Scrooge’s office.

“A CHRISTMAS CAROL” (2009) Perhaps the acme of repugnant obnoxiousness: Jim Carrey in a “motion-capture animated” 3-D version for Disney, with additional voices by Cary Elwes, Gary Oldman, Robin Wright Penn, and others Bob Hoskins. The film is terrifying for all the wrong reasons — for here not only are the ghosts horror-inducing, but so are all the characters, through this chilling, soulless digital process. And now we know we have reached the end of the line, when all of the characters in a Christmas story have essentially been replaced by robots!

Rudolph and friends: Where are they now?

The answers may shock you!

I hooked up. I was the first one to look past the nose, okay? I oughta get some slack for that, but everybody wants to give me a ration of crap for leaving Rudy. Fine. Yes, Rudy was a nice buck. Absolutely. But not to put too fine a point on it, he was pretty dull. Yeah, dull! Oh, sacrilege! Lookit, here’s a buck who’s on the cover of Time and Newsweek, saved friggin’ Christmas, right? And he won’t take one friggin’ endorsement deal! Like to know how many kids I had in my first litter? Five! No one ever writes a hit carol about that, do they? It’s all ‘Rudy, Rudy, Rudy.’ You try livin’ in a North Pole cave with a Reindeer with clinical depression who refuses to get treatment. It’s no picnic.”

BY MAX BURBANK (MAXBURBANK.WORDPRESS.COM) It’s been 50 years since Rankin/ Bass gave the world “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Like the song says, he “went down in history” along with Clarice and Hermey and Yukon Cornelius and that one really tall elf with the glasses. But what happened to them after that? Where are they now?




Rudolph, or “Rudy” as friends knew him, came to view his fame with puzzlement. His refusal to do the convention circuit, often seen as arrogance by fans, was more due to embarrassment. “Look, I’m just a working buck who happened to get born with a shining nose. Some Christmas Eves, the weather gets bad and it works out good for everybody, I’m glad of that. Most years I just pull the sleigh, same as the other guys.” “He was the most decent reindeer I ever met,” recalls close friend Hermey the elf. “But after his folks died the way they did and then the divorce... it just broke him. He let Clarice have it all — the cave, the kids, the rights to the song. Everybody says the cancer got Rudy, but that’s a lot of crap. He had the biggest heart in Christmas Town, and that lousy doe broke it to pieces. That’s what he died of.” Dr. William “Sparkly” Elf, North Pole Large Animal Veterinarian, disagrees. “A biological deviation like Rudolph’s nose...well, it rarely comes alone. Generally something like that is part of a syndrome, a suite of genetic anomalies and honestly, it’s never good. If he’d been born with fifth hoof coming out of his chest, no one would

For Rudolph and his associates, life after that famed “foggy Christmas Eve” was fraught with physical and spiritual challenges.

have been surprised he died young. Frankly it’s a miracle he lived as long as he did.”


“Look, I make no apologies,” says Clarice, retired to Boca Raton, Flor-

ida. “Do you know how old I am in reindeer years at this point? Am I gonna do regrets? No. No I am not. So I got all the money. I had kids to raise, and who’s supposed to pay for my chemo — Santa? Look, I was a young doe when Rudy and

Cornelius gave up prospecting in 1972 and moved to Key West, where he opened a very successful bar: Silver and Gold. In 1979, he established the annual “Polar Bear Ball” and, while now retired, is still the honorary Grand Bear. Asked to comment on “The Rudolph Years,” he said: “Rudy was a good kid, but naive, you know? Working for Santa because of the ‘True Meaning of Christmas’ my wrinkled old prospector’s behind! When did Santa get on the right side of the nose issue? When he found a way to exploit it, that’s when! Nah, I got outa the whole North Pole Christmas scene as soon as I could. I’m one of the lucky ones! Look at all those elves who didn’t reach retirement.” RUDOLPH, continued on p. 20 December 11, 2014


A raft of questions about ‘billionaire’s island’ PIER55, continued from p. 1


December 11, 2014


separate connections to the Hudson River Park shoreline. The landscaped surface would rise from the 6.5-foot level of the shoreline to 14.5 feet — above the new floodplain level — and undulate to a highpoint, a 71.5-foot-tall promontory at the southwest corner. The 2.7-acre pier would have an amphitheater at its western side with seating for about 700, plus a great lawn and a plaza that could serve as informal performance spaces accommodating a total of about 5,000 people. Madelyn Wils, the Trust’s president and C.E.O., told the audience last week that New York City is contributing $17 million to the project funded by Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg. The city contribution will go toward the infrastructure of Pier55, including the piles. A separate but related $18 million project, funded by New York State, calls for widening the Hudson River Park esplanade between Gansevoort Peninsula and W. 14th St. George C. Wolfe, who directed and produced the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park with the late Joe Papp for many years, is a member of the board of Pier55, Inc., the nonprofit entity created to build and operate the pier. Kate Horton, former director of the U.K.’s National Theatre, is executive director of the project. Both Wolfe and Horton will be in charge of producing programs. “I’m a great believer in the ability of the arts to bring people together,” Horton said last week. The plan is to have free or low-cost events, with $10 or $20 as top ticket prices, Horton said. She added that the design of the three-sided amphitheater will allow everyone in the audience to see the expressions on the actors’ faces. “I want to create a sense of community and involvement,” Wolfe said. “I want to form connections with local artists and explore working with local schools and having young people serve as interns,” he added. Community board members and Village neighbors posed anxious questions during the public comment period of the presentation last week. Some wondered whether funds spent on Pier55 would take away from completion of the entire riverfront park, which is now 70 percent complete. There was also concern that the sound of noisy events on the pier would carry into the neighborhood. Financial guarantees and cost overruns were still other concerns. Tobi Bergman, incoming chairperson of Community Board 2, said he was not worried that Pier55 might halt the completion of the entire park. “The project will make completion of the park inevitable,” Bergman said.

A view, looking toward the west, of the design for the proposed Pier55, at W. 13th St., which would be connected to the upland part of Hudson River Park by two footbridges.

“My big concern is democracy. Free is not necessarily democratic.” He said that tickets should be available to neighbors as well as tourists. “We need something for everybody,” he said. Bunny Gabel, a Jane St. resident since 1961, asked, “What would Jane Jacobs say if she were here?” and said the proposed Pier55 was “a billionaire’s island?” “It is a waste of public money needed elsewhere and it’s yet another example of how the big bucks are taking away our beloved community,” she added. Gabel contended that the project was illegal under the Clean Water Act. But David Paget, the Trust’s environmental lawyer, replied that everything in the project was legal. He added that the Clean Water Act prohibition applied to projects on landfill, not piers. Marcy Benstock, who led the successful fight 30 years ago to block the $2 billion Westway landfill project — whose replacement was the Hudson River Park — also spoke against Pier55. She noted that the Army Corps of Engineers must approve the project and urged that the corps deny permits for the new pier. Benstock denounced the spending of more than $30 million in city and state money on the project. She also raised the specter of a major hurricane. “Is it right to put 5,000 people on an island in a hurricane?” she asked. “Katrina picked up projects like this and hurled them inland.” Zack Winestine, a Horatio St. resident, recalled that in the past, Pier 54 had thousands of people attending rock concerts during which noise spilled out into the neighborhood. “How many concerts will there

be?” he asked. “And will there have to be big-ticket concerts?” Winestine also charged that the Pier55 project was marked by “an undemocratic lack of public discussion.” “The decisions will be made by Mr. Diller,” he said. “What’s to stop Mr. Diller from saying after five years that it’s too expensive and too much trouble?” Horton replied, “This is not really attractive to anyone who wants to run a rock concert. It’s too small.” Wolfe agreed, saying, “Everything will be in human proportions. We don’t want to tailor the space to fit the performance. The performers will have to make sure they fit into the space.” Geoffrey Croft, president and founder of NYC Park Advocates, also protested what he said was a surprise sprung on an unsuspecting neighborhood. “There has been absolutely no public process,” he said. “This is the beginning of the process,” Wils replied. She assured those at the meeting that the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation would cover cost overruns on the new pier. A 165-page lease agreement between Pier55, Inc. and the Trust pledges the funds for the pier’s construction and for its maintenance and operation for the life of the 20-year lease, with an optional 10-year renewal. The agreement also provides for mooring a 4,000-square-foot barge off the west side of the pier for six months of the year if an especially large theatrical production is programmed. Wils said the lease sets the limits of what could happen on the pier and not everything that the lease provides would be done. Under the Hudson River Park Act,

only commercial piers in the park are required to involve the six-monthlong New York City Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). On the other hand, the proposed Pier55 — a pier designated for recreational park use — is exempt from ULURP but must follow a parallel process under the Trust that is required for “significant changes” in the park. A 200-page environmental assessment for the project has been filed, covering everything from the pier’s impact on marine wildlife to noise and blocking of view corridors to the river. In addition to the Dec. 3 presentation, the C.B. 2 Parks Committee will hold another Pier55 hearing on Jan. 7, and then report its findings and suggest changes to the full board of C.B. 2, which will review the project at its Jan. 22 meeting and issue recommendations in the form of a resolution. For its part, the Trust will hold a mandated hearing on the project on Mon., Jan. 12, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at the Eisner and Lubin Auditorium, at N.Y.U. Kimmel Center, 60 Washington Square South, fourth floor. (ID is required to enter the facility.) The period for submitting written comments to the Trust about the Pier55 project ends Fri., Jan. 23. The Trust’s hearing had previously been scheduled for Dec. 17. But, according to Bergman, C.B. 2 requested that the date be moved back to allow the full board to weigh in beforehand at its Jan. 22 meeting, and the Trust complied. Construction is expected to begin on widening the park esplanade in summer 2015. Construction on the pier is tentatively scheduled to begin in summer 2016. The opening of Pier55 could be in 2019.

vice versa; Museum will anchor ‘culture ribbon’ WHITNEY, continued from p. 14


executive vice president of Friends of the High Line. The High Line has an art program and an educational program, as does the Whitney. “We’re trying to identify ways that we can collaborate,” Mullan said. Although the Whitney will be a game-changer on a major scale, those involved with the museum show an awareness of the surrounding neighborhood, and especially of the landmarked Meatpacking District’s historical importance. “We realized that there was a lot of work that needed to be done to understand the community we were moving into,” Potts said. “We researched demographics, community board assessments, the history of the neighborhood, and also the history of artists who have worked, and are working Downtown. “We were determined not to open our doors on our first day as if we were a giant spaceship that landed at the base of the High Line, and we say, ‘Hello, come on in.’ Our first step was getting to know the community.”

A view of the Whitney Museum from the northeast. Parkgoers on the tree-lined High Line, in the foreground, will be able to enter the museum directly from the elevated park, which sits above what’s left of the Meatpacking District’s meat businesses, whose trucks can be seen below the High Line.



“Andy Warhol,” 1970, by Alice Neel, will be among the works from the Whitney’s permanent collection on view at the Downtown museum’s spring 2015 opening. Clearly visible are the scars left from an assassination attempt two years earlier by Valerie Solanas, plus a corset that Warhol wore to appear slimmer.

“Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney,” 1916, by Robert Henri, will be among the works from the Whitney’s permanent collection on view at the Downtown museum’s spring 2015 opening. A sculptor and wealthy society figure, Whitney founded the museum that bears her name in the Village in 1931.

December 11, 2014


Community is getting ready for the Whitney and WHITNEY, continued from p. 1

December 11, 2014

A daytime view of the new Whitney, photographed from across the West Side Highway.




new SuperPier at Pier 57 (a $200 million food and retail development at W. 17th St.); and Pier55 (a planned 2.7acre Hudson River Park arts-and-entertainment pier at W. 13th St.). All this is happening along a river that in the past was home to railyards and decaying piers. The elevated High Line park, with its southernmost entrance on Gansevoort St., is a major presence in the Village as it draws more than 5 million visitors annually. But the community knows that the Whitney, with its global reach, will be another significant enterprise that will alter the atmosphere. And the Whitney knows it, too. For two years the museum has been reaching out to neighborhood groups and schools to establish a relationship with the community before opening. And the community has been responsive. “What can a museum do for a community? All of my work has been about answering that question,” said Kathryn Potts, the Helena Rubinstein Chairperson of Education at the Whitney. She explained that in the early planning stages for its Downtown museum, the Whitney created a stakeholders group — the Whitney Education Community Advisory Network, or WECAN, which has been meeting regularly during the last two years. “The idea was that we needed to hear from people within the community about what they thought were their priorities for the institution,” she said. “We felt that we really needed those voices.” WECAN includes representatives from Westbeth, the Fulton Houses, C.B. 2, the Hudson Guild and P.S. 33, which is a Title I elementary school in Chelsea that has been a partner school of the Whitney for at least five years. In addition, the Whitney started short-term pilot programs with the Village’s L.G.B.T. Community Center and FIERCE, the L.G.B.T. organization for youth of color, and reached out to a slew of other schools, including Village Community School, P.S. 3, P.S. 41, P.S. 11, Humanities Preparatory Academy, Lab School, High School of Fashion and Industry, and Clinton School for Writers and Artists, and when it opens, will approach the 75 Morton St. middle school. “We try to offer the opportunity to see the museum as an extension of the classroom,” Potts said. “And in the future, we hope to have eight partnership schools where we would

Still under construction when this photo was taken several months ago, this spacious, column-free main exhibit space features a large, floor-toceiling window on one wall that overlooks the Hudson River.

work with administration, teachers and students to become a resource for them.” To that end, the new Whitney will have an educational center with state-of-the-art classrooms, a multiuse black-box theater for film, video and performance, a works on paper study center, conservation lab and library reading room, none of which were in the Uptown Whitney. Madelyn Wils, president of the Hudson River Park Trust, cited two art installations in the waterfront park that were accomplished in collaboration with the Whitney in the past: Yayoi Kusama’s “Guidepost to the New Space” installation at Pier 45 (Christopher St. Pier) in 2012, and

Tony Tasset’s “Artists Monument” installation near W. 17th St. in 2014. “We look forward to doing more art projects in the park with the Whitney,” Wils said. “We think the museum is a great addition, and the Whitney is open to having the park be an outdoor display for them when it’s appropriate, when it’s right.” Technically speaking, the Whitney’s new home is really in the Meatpacking District. “There’s anticipation of a worldclass institution coming to a neighborhood that is experiencing a rebirth around culture and technology, as well,” said Lauren Danziger, executive director of both the Meatpacking Improvement Association and

Chelsea Improvement Company. “The Whitney brings art as culture to the forefront and day-to-day relevance for both visitors and the people who work here on a daily basis,” she said. “It’s very exciting, not just as a development but as an opportunity for the neighborhood as a whole. There’s palpable excitement.” Words like “rebirth,” “transformation,” “evolution” and “transition” were mentioned by everyone interviewed for this article, in relation to the current state of Greenwich Village and the Meatpacking District. Danziger spoke of a “complete change” on Washington St. in the last two years as small boutiques have opened in preparation for the Whitney’s arrival. Guenter Seeger, the elite chef, hopes to open a 42-seat tasting restaurant at 641 Hudson St. near Horatio St. due to the Whitney being just a few blocks away. C.B. 2, however, recommended denial of Seeger’s application for a liquor license. It’s now up to the State Liquor Authority to make the decision. In addition, there has been a surge in new, innovative technological spaces, as fashion-designer retail has moved away from the Meatpacking District. Google’s massive headquarters at 76 Ninth Ave. and Apple’s store on the northwest corner of W. 14th St. and Ninth Ave. have no doubt attracted more technological ventures, with the Whitney being an added inducement. In leases that were signed this year, Samsung plans to open new offices on Washington St. near the new Whitney, while Intersect by Lexus on W. 14th St., will be a venue that goes beyond a car showroom to incorporate design, art, fashion, film, dining, music and technology. Commercial mixes, which the museum will also have, are starting to pop up, with Rapha Cycle Club on Gansevoort St. also including a cafe, and Rag & Bone General Store on W. 13th St. featuring Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee. “The Meatpacking District is a global destination,” said Danziger, “and these changes, these new businesses, these new cultural institutions, technological hubs, are just shining a different light on an already-vibrant community.” Of course, the High Line is another huge tourist magnet. “The Whitney is a mature, interesting organization that I think is going to add a whole new element to the neighborhood,” said Peter Mullan, WHITNEY, continued on p. 15

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Continued from p. 10

come to mind. You don’t want them deciding the fate our of cities’ shores. Put bluntly, they have other homes to go to. Most of the rest of us don’t. As for the High Line-ization of the nearby community, I’ll leave that to those most impacted. But some of us would like our run-down parks funded, at least with that $17 million in city money that is apparently floating around.  K Webster

Backward on bridge tolls To The Editor: Re “C.B. 3 slams the brakes on push to ask politicians to study tolls on bridges” (news article, Dec. 4): What percentage of the traffic going over those bridges is people shopping in local area businesses? One percent? What percentage is low-income folks? Two percent? This community board is backward.  Ari Freedman

Why punish car drivers? To The Editor: Re “Youth march against brutality, hope to spark a new movement” (news article, Dec. 4): It makes perfect sense to march against brutality and prejudice. On the other hand, it made no sense whatsoever that marchers expressed their views by “blocking East River bridges and traffic,” as the article reported. Governor Chris Christie must be proud. He invented (or maybe merely tolerated) Bridgegate — a way of punishing someone by blocking roads and trapping citizens in traffic tie-ups, no matter what their political opinions. These people might be late for appointments, flights or whatever. Sooner or later, they will have to go to the bathroom but will be unable to get there. There could even be a serious emergency, but fire engines and ambulances would be caught in traffic. I can understand frustration with the grand jury decision, but I can’t

understand why this frustration should be directed against anyone who just happens to get caught in the jam. Chris Christie has changed the way we protest. George Jochnowitz

Dumbness deconstructed To The Editor: Re “Swift as N.Y.C. ambassador is not welcome on the L.E.S.” (talking point, by Clayton Patterson, Nov. 27): I just read Clayton Patterson’s powerful piece on the travesty of presenting Taylor Swift as New York City’s cultural ambassador. It’s a particular slap in the face, in that, in her music, Swift eschews the two themes that have predominated in New York-associated poetry and music lyrics. One theme is a protest against the arrogance of power. Think of Ginsberg’s blast at the Moloch of a warfare state, Corso’s screed on the atomic bomb, Alan Kaufman’s Whitman poem about the “American inferno,” Lou Reed’s songs about the wild side. The second theme is a vision of a collective happiness. Here one must place Whitman’s embrace of all peoples, Hart Crane’s vision of the Brooklyn Bridge as a symbol of Americans’ unity, the early Talking Heads’ paeans to joys of everyday life. This Judy-come-lately, Taylor Swift, spits on such themes. Obviously, she would never attack the powers that be who gave her a career. But, moreover, she is totally without vision. Her songs are retro hymns to individual not collective happiness. She sings, “We’re drivin’ down the road… You’re just so cool, run your hands through your hair / Absent-mindedly makin’ me want you.” Retro, in that — feminism be damned — a woman’s greatest joy is being owned by a man. “Our history is being erased,” Patterson writes. How can it not be, if gutless drones, such as Taylor Swift and her ilk, are given charge of it?

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LETTERS, continued on p. 24

119 West 23rd Street • 212.929.3645 • December 11, 2014


Beef, boogie ’n’ Blue The Annual Police Roast Beef Dinner at Our Lady of Pompeii Church was the hot ticket on Tuesday night. Not only was the roast beef — served by Sixth Precinct police officers — hot, but so were the tunes, by former Arrow Keyboard Man, still-in-demand Novac Noury, who fired up the the diners and got them dancing.



December 11, 2014

Italian American culture and history under attack TALKING POINT BY JOHN A. FRATTA


s it me or is there something wrong? For me it all began on Sept. 19, but I know it has been going on for many years. On Sept. 19 and 20, the New York Daily News ran an attack piece on the Feast of San Gennaro. The article made it look as if there was something going on with the feast’s funds, but, of course, it was not true. Well, let me rephrase that. The article was not accurate and the reporter, Gregg Smith, lacked journalistic integrity. His numbers were right on how much money was taken in by Figli di San Gennaro and even how much was given to charity. However, and this is where he lacks journalistic integrity, he omitted facts he knew — because I told him — about what our expenses were. He listed in the article that we gave 5 percent to charity, when if fact, we gave over 80 percent of our profit to charity. To add insult to injury, the next day he wrote an article headlined, “EXCLUSIVE: Feast of San Gennaro lights done by mobsters despite claims of being Mafia-free, records show about an electrical company that was charged with a crime.” But

what he failed to mention was that Figli di San Gennaro let this company go after it was charged with this crime — eight years earlier. The current company, like every other vendor in our feast, is vetted by the New York City Department of Investigation, and only then can we enter into a contract with them. Smith knew this also but choose not to mention it. Now, on to the next attack. Octo-

charged that Columbus was a vicious man who slaughtered the Indians. I was not there in 1492 and neither were any of you. So all we have to go on is the word of those that choose to change history and make good bad and bad good. Now, had they changed the name of the day to Italian American Heritage Day it would not have been that bad. Now, let’s have a chat about those indigenous people that are so upset with Columbus. First and foremost, Columbus never set foot in North America. The new land (to him) that he found was in the Caribbean. So those that are making this charge that he did this to their ancestors are full of it, unless they lived in the Caribbean. Now, if Columbus did what they accuse him of doing, it is a disgusting act. But let’s remember scalping, which was a brutal act perpetrated by indigenous peoples — or are history’s rewriters going to remove that from our history? So, sure, let’s honor them and not Columbus. Now to the next attack... . Luigi Del Bianco was the chief carver of Mount Rushmore. Del Bianco was a very talented artist who came

The bigoted Daily News compared Governor Christie to Tony Soprano.

ber began our Italian Heritage and Culture Month and Columbus Day. The city of Seattle, through its City Council, passed a bill to do away with Columbus Day and rename it Indigenous Peoples Day. Minneapolis did the same thing. The one day in the calendar year that we have to promote our culture and heritage has been under attack. The rewriters of history have

to America to live the American Dream. His job was carving the refi nement of expression in the faces of the four presidents. The documentation exists and his family is trying to get the National Park Service to give Del Bianco the recognition he deserves. The National Park Service has refused. This man worked tirelessly on this project and never received the credit due him. Kind of sounds like Antonio Meucci, the true inventor of the telephone. And now to the next attack... . Two Italians are running for Congress in Staten Island. A show host, Chuck Todd, said on the air that this race is a battle of two warring mob families. This time, after pressure, he apologized, both in e-mail responses and then on the air. However, the bigoted Daily News compared Governor Christie to Tony Soprano, as it has done in the past. Now, whether you like Christie or not, this is an attempt to hurt his chances to run for president. They have not apologized yet. Only Italian Americans suffer these attacks. It remains open season on us because we allow it. Fratta is a member of the board of directors of the Feast of San Gennaro, the annual 11-day festival in September along Little Italy’s Mulberry St. His great-grandfather founded the festival 88 years ago with a group of immigrants from Naples.

SCOOPY’S, continued from p. 2


ear Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Nolita, graffiti on a lamppost base painted a picture of smartphone-addicted posture in the 21st century.



as the special speaker at the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce’s “Safe Streets, Safe City” event on Thursday. Shortly after Elizabeth Butson, The Villager’s former publisher, e-mailed us the news, we got a phone call from former East Village activist John Penley, in North Carolina, who told us he had sent our Scoopy’s item from last week about Bratton’s scheduled talk to Sumumba Sobukwe, a major Occupy Wall Street organizer in New York, who subsequently posted a Facebook page announcing a protest at the event. Whether that’s what caused Bratton to cancel, we may never know for sure — after all, he’s got quite a lot going on right now — but it definitely sounds plausible. We Facebook-messaged Sobukwe about it, but didn’t hear back by press time. ... Also, on the subject of Bratton and Occupy...back in 2011 we extensively interviewed the guy who last month threw fake blood on him in Times Square. After Occupy was kicked out of Zuccotti Park, Diego Ibanez, 26, was one of three Occupy protesters who staged a hunger strike outside the vacant lot at Duarte Square, at Canal St. and Sixth Ave., where Occupy hoped to land a new home to keep its flagging movement alive. But Trinity Real Estate, the lot’s owner, nixed the idea, and despite the hunger strike and a brief “taking” of the lot by Occupy, it never happened. Ibanez seemed like an O.K.-enough guy when we spoke to him on the phone. But Bratton — understandably angered at the insulting action — slammed him as a “professional agitator.” December 11, 2014


On the night of Dec. 3, after a grand jury failed to press charges against Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Eric Garner’s death, a protester held a sign with the words that Garner repeated over and over again before he died while being arrested.


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Secret plans and meetings To The Editor: Re “Pier55 and public process in Hudson River Park” (editorial, Dec. 4): While Mr. Diller and Ms. von Furstenberg’s generosity is certainly appreciated, what would be more appreciated would be real leadership from the Hudson River Park Trust, which has ignored its duty to finish and maintain the Hudson River Park. In 2012 the Trust reported to New York State


Let’s give “peace” a chance. 10

December 11, 2014

that the capital budget to finish the Hudson River Park was $266 million, with $67 million of that amount needed to complete Pier 54. With secret plans, secret meetings and a failure to either finish or maintain the park, the Trust has abandoned all pretense of serving the public. Douglas Durst

Fantasy island vs. reality To The Editor: Re “Pier55 and public process in Hudson River Park” (editorial, Dec. 4): “Many neighbors and park activists will cry...?” Or, said differently, those of us who have donated decades of unpaid labor to improve our parks will ask, ever so politely, if the public will have any real say over how public money is spent — not just a chance to vent uselessly. “The city will kick in an additional $17 million… . Utilizing $18 million in state funds… .” That’s $35 million — not to mention future maintenance after that 20-year grace period, along with a host of unknowable expenses.  The real problem with a fantasy island concept is that it in no way represents a scientifically verifiable best use of anyone’s money toward mitigating our very real, very impending climate-crisis impacts. And I’m not talking about saving the fish or the turtles — much as that issue is dear to me. I’m talking about the reality of what our city will be facing if we don’t create a regionally holistic, climate-proactive shoreline plan for the next 30 years. This gift was, I believe, well intentioned. But the very rich are not known for their expertise in mundane reality. Nero and Marie Antoinette LETTERS, continued on p. 13

DEC 11, 2014 VILLAGER  


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