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WestView News

The Voice of the West Village

VOLUME 7, NUMBER 12

december 2011

People Die Waiting By George Capsis Somebody e-mailed me the link to a recent FOX 5 New York report about emergency room overcrowding and, bang, right in the middle of it I see reporter Joel Waldman talking in front of the boarded-up St. Vincent’s. The message of the report was simple: Emergency rooms are where more and more people go with any kind of health concern. With seven NYC hospitals closed since 2007 and 1.2 million uninsured New Yorkers using the remaining emergency rooms as their doctor’s office, New York City’s E.R.s are more crowded than ever. According to the report, 96,000 emergency room patients were displaced by last year’s closing of St. Vincent’s and Harlem’s North General Hospital alone. What this TV story did that the printed word does not do as effectively is show the stress and anger of people waiting from five to 24 hours to see a doctor. In fact, FOX 5 reported that an independent study by a health care consulting company found that wait times in New York’s E.R.s now rank as the longest in the nation: You can expect to wait five hours or more.

$1.00

Why St. Vincent’s Failed: OWS Has It Right By Alec Pruchnicki, M.D.

ST. VINCENT’S HOSPITAL TREATED: 60,000 E.R. patients a year. With the recent closings of 7 city hospitals New York has the longest E.R. waiting times in the nation. Photo courtesy of WNYW FOX 5.

By federal and New York State law, hospitals must treat anyone who walks in the door, and among people who depend on government support programs, there is often a tacit understanding that the emergency room is where they go for primary care and the acceptance that the bill they receive weeks or even months later from an overwhelmed accounting department is to be ignored. Reporter Joel Waldman offered that some people think “Obamacare,” which continued on page 13

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IT’S ALL ABOUT INSURANCE: Dr. Alec Pruchnicki, formerly on staff at St. Vincent’s, outside the abandoned hospital. Photo by Maggie Berkvist

On the night of Wednesday, October 26, community activists who were demonstrating outside the former St. Vincent’s Hospital were joined by a large group of Occupy Wall Street marchers to jointly protest the closing of St. Vincent’s and demand a new hospital for the Lower West Side. Community groups have been fighting for this since the closing last year, but what were the OWS people doing there? A very local fight doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the national, or possibly international, issues raised by the OWS movement. But the issues are more closely related then one might think. I joined the medical staff of St. Vincent’s in July 2003 and was laid off in April 2010, when the hospital closed. During those almost seven years, I went to a lot of meetings with the ever-revolving leadership of the hospital, both administrators and consultants. My interest in the fight for a new hospital isn’t just based on my view of how those meetings went or the unfairness of continued on page 3

Li-Lac Chocolates: New Owner, Old Traditions By Barbara Chacour

YOU ARE INVITED: Li-Lac Chocolate's new owner, Anthony Cirone, invites you to attend his Open House on Saturday, December 3, and to keep coming back for more chocolates. Photo by Maggie Berkvist.

Anthony Cirone, a Jane Street resident, has been a customer of Li-Lac Chocolates for 20 years. Earlier this year, he left his career in corporate marketing because he always wanted to own his own business. His target was a well-established specialty foods business like Li-Lac. In 2009 Cirone wrote to Li-Lac’s then-owner, Martha Bond, to ask if the business was for sale. He received no reply, and soon after the business was sold

BoldFace Names© :When Josh met Alice — See page 22

to employee Linda Merritt. A persistent person, Cirone then contacted the Merritt family to express his interest in purchasing the business. A month ago he finally did, making Li-Lac’s 20-year veteran chocolatier Anwar Khoder an equity partner. Cirone is only the fourth owner in the history of Li-Lac, which was established on Christopher Street in 1923 by George Demetrious, an immigrant of Greek origin who had learned his craft in Paris. These continued on page 5

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2 WestView News December 2011

WestView News

WestViews Correspondence, Commentary, Corrections

Published by WestView, Inc. by and for the residents of the West Village. Publisher Executive Editor George Capsis Chief Financial Officer Peter White Designer Yodit Tesfaye Walker Picture Editor Maggie Berkvist Events Editor/Designer Stephanie Phelan Cartoonist & Illustrator Lee Lorenz Managing Editor Gini Kopecky Wallace Production Managers Julie Berger Matthew Closter Contributors Tom Allon Barry Benepe Janet Stern Capron Barbara Chacour Jim Collier DuanDuan Mark M. Green Tim Jambeck Dr. David L. Kaufman Nancy Matsumoto Michael D. Miniciello Richard Parker Alex Pruchnicki Carl Rosenstein Arthur Z. Schwartz Gini Kopecky Wallace Marc Wallace Film/Media Editor Jim Fouratt Theatre Editor Bobb Goldsteinn Photographers Maggie Berkvist George Goss Distribution Managers Tim Jambeck Steve Schoepke

We endeavor to publish all letters received, including those with which we disagree. The opinions put forth by contributors to WestView do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher or editor. WestView welcomes your correspondence, comments and corrections: editor@westviewnews.org www.westviewnews.org

What Other Newspapers Don’t Say

Dear Editor,

David Brooks wrote an amusing New York Times Op-Ed piece called “The Inequality Map” on November 10 in which he talked about frivolous inequalities. He did not address the great, life-threatening inequality hanging over the heads of all New Yorkers today: the alarming inequality in Upper East Side/Lower West Side access to medical care: There are almost 4,000 hospital beds and seven hospitals for the approximately 350,000 residents of Manhattan's Upper East Side. As WestView readers well know (but not New York Times and New York Post readers because those papers have not seen fit to publish this fact), the west side of Manhattan below 57th Street has zero hospitals for over 1,000,000 people and zero hospital beds. Nina Bernstein wrote a New York Times article on November 9 stating accurately that Brooklyn has “2.3 beds per 1,000 residents compared with Manhattan’s 4.7...and the nation’s 2.6.” Looking at the relatively comforting Manhattan number of 4.7 beds per thousand, one could easily believe that Manhattan residents enjoy the safety and security of an abundance of hospital beds and quick accessibility to hospital care, both voluntary and emergency. But the almost 4,000 beds for approximately 350,000 Upper East Side residents equals approximately 11.4 beds per thousand residents. The New York State Department of Health recommends 3.1 beds

per thousand people. So while people living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan enjoy almost four times the bed ratio recommended by the DOH, the people living on the West Side below 57th Street have zero beds per million people. The two-bed, free-standing urgent care facility just approved by the DOH for Seventh Avenue and 12th Street will bring this Side bed ratio up to two beds per million! The people in the multimillion-dollar brownstones and Rudin apartments in the West Village have fewer hospital beds available to them than the people living in East Harlem or Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn. Wealthy and mega-wealthy taxpayers who live in or visit the West Side below 57th Street and Bloomberg/Quinn backers who have life-threatening medical emergencies on the in this part of the city are going to suffer through the same agonizing crosstown traffic to an eastside hospital and die just as dead and as the regular people who have suffered and died for lack of a hospital since the closing of Saint Vincent’s. (The number of those dead is a closely guarded secret. New York City government officials refuse to release those numbers, which we feel the public has a right to know.) Rudin Management Executive VicePresident John Gilbert has said, “The planned North Shore Long Island Hospital health facility in the former St. Vincent’s O’Toole building will bring a worldclass medical facility back to the Village.” He obviously lives on the Upper East Side and travels to the West Side below 57th Street only with his personal physician and a motorcycle escort in attendance in case

he needs to get to an E.R. NSLIJ President and CEO Michael Dowling has said, “There is no overwhelming need in that community for more beds” and has written that the new two-bed, NSLIJ facility with imaging, ambulatory surgery and physician offices “will provide exactly what the community needs.” He must belong to the same club as Dowling and Bloomberg. Almost 4,000 beds for the Upper East Side. Zero beds for the West Side below 57th Street. Go figure. Act now, fair readers! Raise high the cry and clamor for a Life-Giving Hospital for the West Side! Sincerely, Liz Ryan.

Buyer Beware!

Dear Editor,

I’ve noticed that the Duane Reade at Seventh Avenue and 12th Street is expanding into spaces formerly occupied by Jessie’s and Burritoville. Though for years I had admired the elegance of the Jackson Square Pharmacy (at Eighth Avenue and 12th Street), Duane Reade certainly looked like it would be the better bargain. One day I wandered into Jackson Square and made some purchases. When I was next at Duane Reade I compared prices: To my surprise, Duane Reade was charging up to 20 percent more than the Jackson Square Pharmacy. My husband has continued this investigation for years and reports that Jackson Square continues to have significantly lower prices on the items he has bought and that it carries several good products not available at the chain store. Could it be that this new expansion by the chain is an attempt to squeeze out our few remaining independent drug stores and have free reign to raise prices and restrict what we buy to their greater profit? Anne Flournoy West 12th Street

A Real No-Spin Zone

Dear Editor,

Several years ago I read an interview with Wallace Shawn. In the course of the article he stated: “If you really want to know what is going on, read the Guardian of London and listen to Democracy Now.” The Guardian is owned by a trust and therefore the paper is quite fearless when it comes to confronting power. If you are not familiar with the publication, the Guardcontinued on page 4


December 2011 WestView News 3

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St. Vincent’s

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the closing of St. Vincent’s. I live in the West Village, and St. Vincent’s E.R. would have been there to serve me, too, had it survived. Of all the many developments that led to the closure, there is one that seems particularly important. That was the merger of St. Vincent’s with other Catholic hospitals to establish the larger Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers health care network in 2000. At the time, there were those who said this plan was not economically feasible, and they were right; it was a disaster. Why did this happen? Every hospital merger in New York City over the last few decades has been justified with the argument that a larger hospital system will have more bargaining power both with suppliers (medical supplies, drugs, equipment, etc.) and with the insurance companies and HMOs that set hospital-reimbursement rates. Sometimes merging has worked, as with the Columbia-Presbyterian and New York-Cornell merger in 1998; and sometimes it has failed, as with the Mount Sinai and NYU merger initiated in 1998 and dissolved in 2008. At times it has worked spectacularly, as with the North Shore-LIJ merger in 1997. But, it didn’t work with St. Vincent’s and the Catholic hospital system. The economies, bargaining power and patient referrals that were supposed to be financially beneficial were never sufficient to overcome the previous deficits, debts and administrative costs of overseeing a large, diffuse network.

When the Catholic network finally collapsed in 2005, St.Vincent’s was left as a stand-alone hospital. Standalone hospitals have very little bargaining power with the HMOs and insurance companies. They either close, as North General in Harlem did a few months after St. Vincent’s closed, or they have to affiliate with a large system, as Lenox Hill did when it become part of the NSLIJ system last year. Virtually all the administrators and consultants I heard speak during staff meetings at St. Vincent’s said they had to renegotiate the HMO contracts to increase reimbursements, which were then 30 percent below market rate, as has been reported in The New York Times. As far as I know, they all failed or, at least, didn’t succeed enough to save the hospital. The insurance companies were originally established to help the hospitals, but now they can decide which hospitals live or die. The tail is wagging the dog. It's All About Insurance

Who do the HMOs and insurance companies answer to? They answer to Wall Street. Back in the 1920s, the first Blue Cross organizations were nonprofit, but now most insurance companies are profit-making and have to watch their dividends and stock prices. You can’t have companies operating in the marketplace and then be surprised when they want to make a profit. Wall Street squeezes them, and they squeeze the hospitals. Notice that this hospital-HMO-Wall Street chain does not include the community. Neighborhoods that have plenty of health care facilities, like the Upper East Side, can

get more if they or their hospitals have bargaining power. Neighborhoods that need facilities, like the Lower West Side, can’t get them if they or their hospitals have no bargaining power. In the past, the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation could use the placement of municipal hospitals to address some of the worst shortages, but now HHC is fighting for its own survival. Of course, bringing enough political pressure to bear can force even a struggling system to do the right thing and correct this unfair distribution of health care facilities by placing a new public hospital on the Lower West Side, so the difficult fight for a new hospital must continue. Many locally active organizations are also addressing the bigger issues. The Commission on the Public’s Health System (cphsnyc.org) works to guarantee access to existing health care services for underserved communities, especially the poor. Physicians for a National Health Program (pnhp.org and pnhpnymetro.org) advocates for single-payer national health care, sometimes described as Medicare for all. If every person coming into St. Vincent’s had had health insurance, much of the hospital’s red ink would have disappeared and the private, profit-making HMOs and insurance companies wouldn’t have been able to cause so much trouble. I have supported CPHS and PHNP and other organizations over the years, just as I support the fight for a new Village hospital. There are plenty of local and national fights to be fought on health care issues, and sometimes they even reach from the West Village down to Wall Street.

BRIEFLY NOTED that the famous residence has undergone a renovation and has been available as a rental for $14,000 a month since September—and that it is also for sale for $4,300,000. This former home of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, and at later dates of anthropologist Margaret Mead and actors John Barrymore and Cary Grant, sold in 2000 for $1.6 million, and in 2010 for $2.175 million. Going, going …. —Maggie Berkvist

Thin Line Between Lobbyist and Crook

Up, Up—and Away? Outside 75 1/2 Bedford Street—at 9.5 feet wide the narrowest house in New York City—an inscrutable sign has recently appeared, simply stating “Landmark Townhouse” and giving a phone number, Web address and contact names, nothing more. But a visit to the website townrealestate.com/ popupwindows/print_listing.html?webID=814743 reveals

A small tear in the seamless web of corruption between medical corporations and state government was revealed in a November 2 New York Times article. Ex-CEO of MediSys David Rosen was found guilty of bribing Brooklyn assemblyman William Boyland $175,000 for his favorable treatment of the “nonprofit” sponsor of Brookdale Hospital, nursing homes and neighborhood health centers in Queens and Brooklyn. Boyland’s lawyer offered that it was not necessary to bribe his client because MediSys already had its own “lobby machine.” Senator Carl Kruger of Brooklyn and Assemblymen Anthony Seminerio were also accused of accepting bribes from MediSys. Both pleaded guilty. And now, Boyland has been arrested again for allegedly continuing to take bribes to pay his lawyers. Read more in the November 29 edition of The New York Times.

An Anonymous Compliment While checking out at CVS with his wife Maggie, WestView Publisher George Capsis encountered a fan of the paper and old acquaintance in an amusing way. Upon see-

ing a women in line holding on to a walker, he cheerily said, “I’m old enough to have to use one of those.” She responded with a smile, “I can even sit on it,” and then questioned, “Is that the latest issue of WestView you have?” He asked her if she liked the paper, to which she responded, “Yes, I read it all the time.” She then boasted, “I know the publisher and his wife.” He discovered it was Dorothy Ryan, who had been the PTA president during the school strike of 1968, when he had run the emergency school. “Well, Dorothy,” he said, “I’m George Capsis and here is Maggie,” who came and held her hand and reminisced.

Pier 40 Gets Cruise Line Crain’s New York Business site reported that Hornblower Cruises & Events has signed a one-year lease to dock its new luxury fleet at Pier 40, located at West 10th Street in Hudson River Park. The company will launch a dinner cruise division in the city and plans for a New Year’s Eve inaugural cruise. It has also submitted a bid to take over Pier 15, near South Street Seaport. Read more at crainsnewyork.com

Second Avenue Subway Costs From a November 22 press release issued by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer: Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, noted that the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway is costing $2.7 billion per mile of new tunnel. In comparison, London built the Jubilee subway line—a 9.9-mile route that crosses the Thames River four times—at a cost of $700 million dollars per mile, or about five times less. Similar projects in Paris, Berlin and Tokyo cost between $370 to $450 million per mile, an even greater disparity.


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4 WestView News December 2011

Bill Rudin and the Rudin Legacy By George Capsis OK, it is not easy being the son of Lew Rudin, a beloved generous schmoozing billionaire who cajoled his fellow developers to prepay $600 million in property taxes to avert city bankruptcy in 1975, so why are we so hard on his son, Bill Rudin? In a May 24 CUNY TV “City Talk” interview with political analyst and School of Public Affairs professor Douglas Muzzio, Bill recounted some of his father’s and grandfather’s accomplishments and easily segued into what he was doing to add new luster to the Rudin name—that is, of course, the St. Vincent’s project. Indeed, in the interview Bill offers that replacing St. Vincent’s with luxury condos is “a great model for what my family’s always been about” and then refers to the family’s statesmanship. “When we get involved in a project we try to engage the community because we understand our buildings don’t stand alone.” But let’s let Bill talk. “We’ve been meeting with all the people who live and work in the neighborhood, who care about the esthetics, who care about the environment, who care about healthcare,” he tells Muzzio. “And when St. Vincent’s unfortunately closed a year ago... we went about trying to find an alternative healthcare provider. We found North Shore-Long Island Jewish Hospital.... And

they...created a new model of healthcare delivery. It’s a hospital that has an emergency room on the ground floor emergency department, and it’ll have ambulatory surgery and diagnostics and other services for the community, without beds. “It’s a much more cost-effective mechanism to deliver health care,” Bill explains. West Village residents “have suffered for the last year without appropriate healthcare,” he says, “and that was a major component...of what we knew we had to accomplish to satisfy the concerns of the community [and] elected officials that we were going to create a sustainable and community-sensitive project.” Here are some of the other ways Bill says that the Rudin family has listened to and responded to community concerns: “We lowered our height and bulk. We agreed to save four, actually five buildings.” The O’Toole building, which was going to be torn down, is “now being saved,” and that’s where NSLIJ will install its no-bed emergency room. Across from O’Toole, “we’re saving four magnificent historic landmark buildings that will be converted to condominiums and housing,” he says. “And then we’re going to build a new tower on Seventh Avenue, all with the philosophy of creating an environment for the community that is positive.” Wow. Anyone watching this interview can see that Bill has clearly mastered the

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Correspondence, Commentary, Corrections continued from page 2 ian broke the Rupert Murdoch hacking scandal, published Wikileaks and is presently covering Occupy Wall Street more thoroughly than any U.S. media source. I believe that the Guardian would be interested in your latest column concerning a critically important subject that should but doesn't receive any media attention: the St. Vincent’s Hospital conflict that pits the community’s wish for a replacement hospital against powerful real estate interests. I admire what you have done and continue to do with this wonderful newspaper. My best, Jayne Haynes

Rudin Condo Owners Among 99%? Not!

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SKDKnickerbocker tactic of describing the NSLIJ walk-in, walk-out clinic as “cost effective.” But even he stumbles after describing it as “a hospital that has an emergency room” because it is not a hospital and will, of course, not have an emergency room— not one with beds for severely injured or ill patients or one that can treat victims of heart attack or stroke. As for Bill’s assertion that the Rudin family has worked hard to satisfy the concerns of the community and elected officials and “create a community-sensitive project” by, among other things, lowering the project’s “height and bulk”—yes, he did. But only after the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission for Historical Preservation rejected his first attempt to pack in more floor space and only after Community Board 2 rejected his bid to keep the generous zoning status that St. Vincent’s Hospital enjoyed so he could build more square feet of condos. “We agreed to save five buildings,” he says. Yes, he did—but, again only after the Landmarks Commission demanded that some of the historic facades be preserved, which also probably saved Rudin money. Rudin doesn’t say he “saved the O’Toole building.” He says “it is being saved.” Correct. He didn’t save it. It was part of the deal. NSLIJ got the overbite building for nothing and agreed to gut and refurbish it as a medical clinic. North Shore has been surprisingly indiscreet in broadcasting its driving wish to get into the Lower West

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Side. Many people, I am sure, have forgotten that NSLIJ campaigned for and was awarded $9.4 million from the State Department of Health a little more than a year ago to restore urgent-care medical services to the West Village, using St. Vincent’s emergency room as a temporary base of operations. Rather than give back the $9.4 million when St. Vincent’s closed its doors, NSLIJ searched for and discovered a small VillageCare Day Treatment Center on West 20th Street and came up with the brilliant idea of extending the hours so when the Day Treatment Center closes, the NSLIJ Urgent Care Center opens— right through the night (and 24 hours on Sunday). When I asked a VillageCare staffer by phone if the facility gets any traffic during those overnight hours, the staffer replied, “Am I going to get into trouble if I answer?” and then, after a pause, “No.” Asked what the skeptics are saying about the redevelopment plan, Bill allowed that “there’s a group of people in the Village” who are “concerned about the loss of their hospital. But, frankly, the infrastructure was inadequate, the services they were providing was not...top of the line.... The building was old.” The main problem to which he’s referring: the ceilings in the Coleman building are lower than the DOH now requires. But Coleman was built in 1983. Many if not most of the hospital buildings in New York City are years older. Their ceiling heights presumably don’t meet current DOH standards, either. Does Bill consider the new no-bed emercontinued on page 14

According to Curbed.com, the Rudin condos are priced from $1.415 million to $8.195 million. Considering that, according to the National Taxpayers Union, anyone with an adjusted gross income of more than $344,000 is in the top 1%, I would say that these apartments are not for the

99%. I don’t think anyone with an income below $340,000 could qualify for a mortgage for apartments in that price range. In her argument that Rudin condo buyers are among the 99%, Ms. Capron seems to display a distorted view of what wealthy is. I think the editor should have given this one a common-sense sniff test before printing such an inaccurate headline. Sincerely, Anonymous 290 West 12th Street

Janet Capron responds:

Yes, the reader is right. The situation is even worse than I suggested in my piece last month. Truly, only the top 0.1 percent can afford to feel safe in this city, since even the top one percent will be left without proper medical care down here in the West Village.

Correction

The evening walk Art Gatti mentions in his November letter, “Bike Law Enforcement,” took place on September 30, not on October 30.


December 2011 WestView News 5

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CARRYING ON: Anthony Cirone plans to keep the Li-Lac tradition of custom-made chocolates alive in the Village. Photo by Maggie Berkvist.

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6 WestView News December 2011

Integrity is for the Little People By George Capsis So, a few people sent me this shot of Chris Quinn giving a kiss to Bill Rudin. Wow. This moist offering was just after Bill haltingly read a polite introduction of Quinn at the October 18th ABNY breakfast. What is ABNY, you ask? The Association for a Better New York was started by Bill’s father, Lew Rudin, in 1972 to brainstorm ways to boost the then-failing city economy, and now it holds Power Breakfasts and invites power names like Bloomberg, Dinkins and Koch. This trio also appeared at ABNY’s 40th Anniversary Dinner at the Hilton on November 1—and, oh, let’s not forget that Koch is the Chair of the totally phony

West Side Healthcare Coalition created by Rudin’s breathtakingly expensive PR firm SKDKnickerbocker to sell West Village residents on “The Rudin Family Greenwich Village Development Plan.” But it was Quinn’s invite to speak at an ABNY Power Breakfast on October 18 and Bill’s praise for Chris during his introduction fol-

lowed by this kiss that got a lot of WestView readers steamed. (They called it “the kiss of death.”) I mean, how can Quinn say she wants a for-real hospital and then accept the invitation of the man who will tear down our hospital to build condos? Well, gee, none of us at WestView News got an invitation to this Power Breakfast, but judging from the crowd shots there was a lot of political weight as well as real weight in the room, and if you scan the membership list on ABNY’s web site you will find most if not all of the big real estate developers, construction unions and banks, including Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of New York Mellon—three of the four that, together, gave Bill $525 million to build the Rudin condos.

But here is Rudin saying nice things about Quinn and Quinn telling the power brokers in the room who literally own the city that she is backing Bloomberg’s recently announced effort to build a Silicon Valley East in the East River. So Rudin gives Quinn a platform to talk about what she will do as Mayor and I would suppose also generously funds her campaign, so is it any surprise that her staffers never return my calls? OK, OK, they are going to read this and they are going to say, “What calls? What calls?” So I’ll tell you what calls. Here’s the message: “Tell Quinn to tell Rudin to restore Coleman and Link as a real hospital and he can have O’Toole and build the most expensive condo tower he wants.”

HIV/AIDS. Um, wait this has to be like the St Vincent’s emergency room—it has to take care of walk-in medical complaints. But the only comparable VillageCare operation was its small center at 121A West 20th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenue. No matter, the solution North Shore came up with was to extend that center’s hours and make it a 24-hour operation. (I have a vision of the late-shift doctor playing two-handed bridge with the nurse in the wee hours of dawn.) In her Villager piece, Deborah asks the big question about the Doc-in-a-Box clinic slated for the O’Toole building: “Is it responsible to reject this quasiemergency room in the hopes that St. Vincent’s can be resurrected?” Deb, let me give you my answer: Yes. It makes no sense at all to tear down a perfectly good 16-story hospital and build in its place luxury condominiums. Certainly not when you have 3,778 hospital beds on the Upper East Side and you

have none on the Lower West side. To effectively represent the needs of us little people, us 99 percenters, it takes courage, not spin. The day after I wrote the above, Fox 5 TV did a report on the waiting time in New York City emergency rooms, showing security-camera footage of one patient dying in the waiting room of a psychiatric ward after waiting 24 hours without being seen. In one segment, the reporter stood in front of the shuttered doors of St. Vincent’s and offered that with the recent rash of hospital closings New York City emergency rooms now offer the longest wait times of any city in the U.S., and the city is considering closing several more hospitals to further compete in waiting time with third world countries. If we allow Rudin to tear down the relatively new 16-story Coleman building to build luxury condominiums I will guarantee a new hospital will be built to replace it, but it will be long after you and I or Deborah Glick have a need for it.

at this site—or keeping St. Vincent’s Hospital open, as Mount Sinai had proposed. That message came from the DOH, from the Commissioner, and obviously was supported by the politicians. Remember this. When the Berger Commission said New York Downtown Hospital should close, what happened? New York State Assemblyman Sheldon Silver said, “Sorry, buddy, wrong hospital, no way.”

And guess what? It’s still open. From day one, this has always been about politics and the goals of the DOH. As a former St. Vincent’s nursing colleague of mine told me St. Vincent’s CEO Henry J. Amoroso told her prior to the hospital’s closure and bankruptcy, “If the DOH wants us to stay open, we will.... And if they want St. Vincent’s closed, nothing will keep it open.”

Courage, Not Spin By George Capsis “If you ask a politician about the weather, you get spin.” That assessment of politician-speak perfectly describes the collective vote by all our local politicians to approve the NSLIJ Doc-in-a-Box, Band-Aid clinic and it describes Deborah Glick’s rambling defense of her support for the clinic in The Villager last month. Deborah recounts all the “actions” she and her fellow West Village politicians took when “St. Vincent’s was in danger of shutting its doors.” She offers that “local elected officials pressed Governor Paterson to convene a task force to find a way to save the hospital” and got “an infusion of more than $1 million from the New York State Assembly” to meet payroll. However at about the same time, NSLIJ did a lot better. It got $9.4 million from the State Department of Health to create a walk-in clinic in “temporary space in St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center.” But

when, facing yet another payroll, St. Vincent’s management panicked and nailed plywood over the doors – bang – hey, we’re out of here. On what money was left St. Vincent’s management people continued to pay themselves generous salaries and shoveled money at bankruptcy consultants and lawyers. (Why give it to the creditor GE Capital? They don’t pay corporate income tax.) In trying to spread the guilt, they gave $20,000 bonuses to maintenance workers. (One hospital technician submitted an invoice for ten hours and was sent a check for 80 hours, which she returned). OK, what was NSLIJ to do with the $9.4 million from the state when the only thing still operating in St. Vincent was the morgue? Hey. That’s easy. They called down to the real estate office and said quick find us someplace in the Village we can stick $9.4 million so we don’t have to give it back to the DOH, and they found VillageCare, known primarily for providing health care for older adults and persons living with

How the System Works By David L. Kaufman, M.D. The real estate industry, the Rudins etc., grease the wheels and fuel the system with their dollars, and that gives them significant levels of influence and sometimes control. But at the end of the day, the politicians and regulators run the show, have the power, have the obligations and should be, but

rarely are, held accountable. Had they said no to closing St. Vincent’s from day one, it never would have closed. A hospital system would have stepped forward, knowing that if they had a “good” plan, it would be supported. The rejection of Mount Sinai’s bid to take over St. Vincent’s sent a loud and clear message: no hospital system would be allowed to propose opening a hospital


December 2011 WestView News 7

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New Downtown Ambulance Introduced and Blessed Mobile E.R. will serve Lower Manhattan By Tim Jambeck A very special christening of sorts took place recently at New York Downtown Hospital, a member of New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System and, since the closing of St. Vincent’s, the only hospital in Manhattan below 14th Street. As part of an effort to augment emergency-response resources in lower Manhattan, a new, hightech ambulance was commissioned and put into service on November 18. Intended primarily but not exclusively for use in transporting critically ill patients from NYDH to other hospitals, the ambulance (Number 1823) is officially called a Critical Care Transport unit. Unofficially, it is considered to be an emergency room on wheels, according to Tony Suarez, NYDH’s director of paramedics. It’s a state-of-theart vehicle in all respects, equipped with advanced life-support systems such as an automatic ventilator unit that can actually do the breathing for high-acuity, worst-casescenario patients, freeing EMS personnel to attend to other life-threatening trauma en route. An on-board generator that can power all interior systems—including invasive pumps and other intricate monitoring devices—helps transform the CCT into a true mobile emergency room. The generator also enables the ambulance to be used as a mobile command center. Another innovation: CCT can transport two worst-casescenario patients at a time instead of just one, as is the case with other ambulances, and can also accommodate additional crew—two paramedics, two additional nurse-paramedics and a doctor, if needed. Paramedics Patrick O’Neil and Rhonda Chambers, who is also a nurse, told WestView News that they both think the technical innovations and enhanced on-board personnel capabilities of CCT will make it possible to deliver patients to other hospitals in better condition than ever before, giving E.R. doctors at receiving hospitals a better chance of being able to help critically ill patients. Antonio Dajer, M.D., chairman of New York Downtown Hospital's Department of Emergency Medicine, seems to feel that the new CCT will enable NYDH to do an even better job of providing swift emergency care than the superior job he says it is already doing. Dr. Dajer told WestView that his E.R. is already the most efficient in the city, averaging two hours between patient arrival and discharge compared to the citywide average of six hours. Asked about ambulance run times from the St. Vincent’s area of the West Village to

A SPECIAL EVENT: At a ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 18th, New York Downtown Hospital celebrated the arrival of their new Critical Care Transport unit. Photo by George Goss.

New York Downtown Hospital at Gold and Williams Streets, Suarez quickly replied, “It’s ten minutes or less, and in extreme weather conditions or heavy traffic maybe twenty minutes, tops.” That’s relatively good news for West Village residents, given that NYDH is now the first responder to virtually every medical emergency in lower Manhattan. Better news: for the second year in a row, New York Downtown Hospital has received a “Get with the Guidelines Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award” from U.S. News & World Report for exceptional compliance with the American Heart Association’s and American Stroke Association’s guidelines for treatment of victims of stroke. The involuntary emergence of NYDH as the lone hospital in Manhattan below 14th Street prompted State Senator Daniel L. Squadron to meet with EMS officials to discuss lower Manhattan’s emergency care needs, with the result that EMS Chief Abdo Nahmod decided to award NYDH three additional ambulance tours, for a total of four. At the November 18 christening of the new Critical Care Transport unit, EMS president Jeffery Menkes thanked Senator Squadron and the generous support of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation and the George Link, Jr. Foundation for making these new resources and services possible. Senator Squadron said his main contribution was making sure that “bureaucracy was not a roadblock in this endeavor.” At 2:30 p.m., the new CCT unit was blessed by both a rabbi and a priest, which Tony Suarez said the paramedics consider very strong karma. A pink ribbon was cut with gold scissors by Senator Squadron and Man Lai, NYDH’s assistant vice president of Patient Services and Community Outreach. Kate Debold, vice president of Corporate Affairs for The Bank of New York Mellon, and Maryjo Morganstern, M.D., Medical Director for BNY Mellon, also took part in the ribbon-cutting. Applause went up, and the new super ambulance was ready to get to work saving lives.


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West Village Coalition Meets Again By Tim Jambeck On Tuesday, November 1, in response to many requests, the West Village Coalition held a second “town hall” meeting at 7 p.m. at St John’s Lutheran Church on Christopher Street. According to Robert Ziegler, head of the Coalition and owner of Boots & Saddles Bar, also on Christopher Street, the purpose of the meeting was “for the West Village community to gather and continue the dialog concerning the ever-increasing crime and violence that is plaguing our community.” The West Village needs to remain united, Ziegler said, “and demand that the police and local politicians address our concerns over what is happening to our neighborhood.” The first speaker was David Poster, president of the Christopher Street Patrol, a community-watch group composed of residents and Guardian Angels. Poster, who also serves on the Greenwich Village Block Associations’ task force for prostitution and unruly street behavior, spoke about what he called the biggest source of the problems in the West Village: keeping Pier 45 open until 1:00 a.m. instead of closing it at 9:00 p.m. Poster stressed that it’s not a gay or a black issue; it’s simply that the people who hang out on the pier until late hours engage in behaviors that are too often loud, offensive and illegal and have a very real negative affect on residents and merchants. Poster suggested that a letter be sent to the Hudson River Park Trust along with a petition signed by everyone at the meeting, urging that the pier be closed at 9:00 p.m. It was suggested that Poster write this letter. Pastor Mark Erson spoke next. He noted that it was All Saints Day and said that the fact that so many people were at the meeting showed their concern for listening to one another rather than assigning blame.

He said that, since the previous meeting on October 4, he had spoken with members of the LBGTQ group Fierce and had found that the group generally agrees with him on many of the issues and has distanced itself from the young people who are causing problems on the pier. Another speaker noted that a petition with 1,100 signatures had been sent to City Council speaker Christine Quinn’s office on October 17 asking that she or a representative attend a Village Coalition meeting and contribute to the effort to solve these problems, but, so far, neither she nor anyone from her staff had responded, and no one from her office was at the meeting. Others complained that when Pier 45 does close, the people assembled there drift up Christopher Street and into the quieter, dark, West Village streets, openly smoking crack and urinating in entryways, which is frightening to the residents. There were also many complaints about lack of police presence at Pier 45 and around the nearby entrance to the Path train. Martin Baranski, Community Affairs officer for the 6th Precinct, said that the situation at Zuccotti Park (where protesters were then still encamped) was placing huge demands on the precinct’s resources. Someone responded that the problems going on at and around Pier 45 are largely fueled by the sale and use of drugs, mostly crack cocaine, and that it has become so prevalent that it seems the police don’t notice or don’t care. This meeting, like the previous one, was conducted in an orderly manner, thanks to moderator Peter Rockwitz of the West Village Coalition. About 100 people attended. Rockwitz announced at the close of the meeting that the Coalition now has its own Facebook page, where all are invited to share suggestions and opinions.

MEET Our New Distribution Team – Tim Jambeck (left) and Steve Schoepke have volunteered to take charge of delivering your complimentary copy of WestView News. Steve Schoepke, an investment and portfolio analyst, is currently a director at Aperio Diligence Group, a new investment consulting and educational boutique serving individual and institutional investors. Tim Jambeck, a former career Merchant Marine Officer, has served on freighters, tankers and Department of Defense surveillance ships out of the Persian Gulf and with the Military Sealift Command attached to a carrier group. Steve and Tim will be asking if you like WestView enough to pay $12 a year to support it, because support means we can print more copies and strengthen the community voice. They will also be asking local businesses to join the effort to return a hospital to the West Village by taking out an ad. (New advertisers get 10 percent off and one ad free.) WestView is now read by more than 30,000 West Village residents. You can subscribe online at westviewnews.org by clicking on Subscribe. Photo by Maggie Berkvist.


December 2011 WestView News 9

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Science from Away: Advice for the Guys

SPEAK LOW WHEN YOU SPEAK LOVE: Endangered words of wisdom for the urban male Great Tit.

By Mark M. Green (Sciencefromaway.com) Sorry, guys, but the females focused on here are not our type. But, who knows, our type may be listening. Here we’re looking at the kind of females of interest to scientists who study birds — ornithologists. Consider the bird Parus major, or great tit — named, as are so many other plants and animals, including our own species, Homo sapiens, by the great Swedish naturalist Carl Nilsson Linnæus. This great tit can be quite small, measuring as little as four inches long and weighing as little at 0.2 ounces, leading Linnæus to use the Latin word for little to describe them: parum. However small they may be, they are quite energetic and interesting birds. In England, for example, great tits and related blue tits were once famous for having figured out how to get to the separated cream in a milk bottle by puncturing the foil cap of a bottle left at the front door. In his “Systema Naturae,” the first systematic classification system proposed for all life, Linnæus, who was born in 1707, often described the sexual activities of plants in terms that offended the polite society of his day, especially considering that he was the son of a Lutheran minister. Here’s an example I found in a brief biography posted on the University of California Museum of Paleontology’s website: “The flowers’ leaves...serve as bridal beds which the Creator has so gloriously arranged, adorned with such noble bed curtains, and perfumed with so many soft scents that the bridegroom with his bride might there celebrate their nuptials with so much the greater solemnity....” Linnæus, however, found nothing of special sexual interest in the great tit. Discovering a fascinating aspect of their mating rituals fell to 21st-century scientists working in the Netherlands. Just this year researchers at Leiden and Groningen Universities in Holland published a study discussing the effect of urban noise on the sexual behavior of the great tit. This species of bird, perhaps encouraged by its success in pilfering cream out of bottles of milk left on English doorsteps, is

well known to live in cities in different parts of the world. Among many species of birds and other animals, sexual mating is initiated by the male calling to the female. Among great tits, the frequency of a male’s call and song has been discovered to be of great importance to the female at the receiving end. The female likes to hear a low-frequency call from her suitor, and when she gets this call she will be receptive to his advances and also loyal to their relationship. As the Dutch scientists discovered and wrote: “Low-singing males get cuckolded less often.” In particular, when male birds don’t serenade their mates with their lower-frequency songs during peak fertility, the females leave the nest earlier in the morning, before sunrise, and engage in extra-pair copulations. In fact, males that use more of their higherfrequency repertoire to communicate with their female partners are less likely to be the sole father of their partner’s offspring. This is a big problem for these male birds in noisy cities. They usually use their higher-frequency song when communicating with other males and reserve their lower frequencies for the ladies. But urban noise, which is generally a low-frequency rumble, causes the male’s low-frequency song to be obscured; the female can’t detect it. The male solves this problem by switching to a higher frequency, which the female can detect, but at the possible cost of his becoming less attractive to his mate, with a cuckolding consequence. You might think this stuff is just for the birds¸ but wait a moment. Research by David Puts, an assistant professor of biological anthropology at Penn State University, has shown that when a woman is in the fertile phase of her cycle, her sexual attraction to a man is also affected by the frequency of the man’s voice: the lower the better—like the birds studied in Holland. Puts found that male voice frequency has no effect on a woman’s sexual preferences when she is not ovulating. And here is the one that astonished me: according to Professor Puts, male voice frequency influences a fertile woman’s preferences only in short-term sexual partners. It has no effect on her preferences in partners for a long-term, committed relationship.

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Mayor 1% Must Go! By Arthur Z. Schwartz Only in New York City would we experience the birth of the Occupy Movement under a mayor who epitomizes the 1%. It’s time for Mayor 1% to go. For two months I watched the Occupy Wall Street encampment with amazement as the police ringed Zuccotti Park and followed protesters around as if they were terrorists—millions of dollars of our money being wasted to surround and surveil, and frequently arrest, 500 people who were committed to nonviolence. Mayor 1% admitted as much during a November 9 interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when he said that “in all fairness to the people down there, we watch very carefully, and they generally do not break the law.” I awoke on November 15, heard the news and was in shock. The police had invaded with helicopters, bulldozers and truncheons in the middle of the night and swept away Occupy Wall Street. And they did it brutally, dragging people out, smashing property, arresting reporters and shoving television cameras out of the way. After an acting judge, chosen by the City, crumpled up the First Amendment, upheld what was done, but said to allow demonstrators back in—without tents or sleeping bags—the NYPD had OWS participants walk a gauntlet, taking away backpacks and food from those who dared return. Our mayor crowed. He, Mayor 1%, had driven the symbol of the fight against inequality out of town. Our mayor, who had opined two weeks earlier that Congress and not banks had precipitated the mortgage crisis, was once again turning reality on its head. Our mayor, Mayor 1%, the 12th richest of The Forbes 400 Richest People in America, said he was standing up for the little guys, the community residents who wanted to stroll through Zuccotti Park. But he was really standing up for the Big Guys, his friends and fellow billionaires who wanted Occupy Wall Street crushed. Our mayor, Mayor 1%, is the man who cheated his way into being able to run for a third term, against the wishes of the citizenry, by bribing City Council members with a chance to continue their terms as well.

Our mayor, Mayor 1%, bought himself re-election, spending $102 million to receive 557,059 votes (about $180 a vote) and still barely squeaked back in. Our mayor, Mayor 1%, stood idly by as St. Vincent’s Hospital closed and other hospitals around the city, especially those serving the poor, faltered. Our mayor, Mayor 1%, promotes police tactics that see hundreds of thousands of mostly Black and Hispanic young people stopped and frisked for doing no more than being young and of color. Our mayor, Mayor 1%, has let schools deteriorate and become overcrowded while he promotes new entrepreneurs making big bucks running charter schools, ignores the voices of parents and derides teachers as a “special interest group.” And now, Mayor 1% looks to set an example for the rest of the country, if not the world: he closes down the Occupy Wall Street encampment. A few days after Mayor 1%’s move, the military in Egypt unleashed troops against several hundred peaceful protesters who had come back to Tahrir Square, site of the original Occupy Movement that kicked off the Arab Spring, to protest the military’s refusal to relinquish power. Troops drove the demonstrators out, but hours later thousands of demonstrators returned—a united front of Islamists and secular liberals—and took back the Square. The protesters have returned to Zuccotti Park near Wall Street, too. But Mayor 1% is keeping a tight leash, destroying the encampment. But Occupy Wall Street lives on. The Occupy Movement will respond to Mayor 1%’s attempts to silence it by coming back even stronger, too, with thousands more supporters than it had before. And this time they should have a central, unifying, three-word demand to symbolize the fight for democracy and push back against the power of the 1%: BLOOMBERG MUST GO! Whose City? Our City! BLOOMBERG MUST GO!

Arthur Z. Schwartz is the State Democratic Committee Member for the Lower West Side of Manhattan and President of Advocates for Justice, a public interest law firm.

Want to comment on an issue you’ve read in this month’s WestView? Go to www.westviewnews.org and give us your feedback.


December 2011 WestView News 11

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Manhattan Mobilizes Against Fracking By Janet Stern Capron New York State Assembly member Linda B. Rosenthal hosted a forum, “Speak Out on Hydrofracking,” on Wednesday, November 2 at the Congregation B’nai Jeshurun Synagogue on West 88th Street to mobilize constituents against proposed New York State Department of Environmental Conservation regulations that would open the door to fracking in New York State. As the flier announcing the forum explained, “The State proposes to drill for natural gas using hundreds of unidentified chemicals in nearly 85% of the Marcellus Shale. The plan is controversial and potentially destructive to our environment and human health.” Close to 2,000 people attended (a rough head count). The large temple was filled, upstairs and down, with concerned citizens. Rosenthal gathered together an august panel of speakers (see box), who were all four compelling, both in the data they presented and in their presentations. They were extremely knowledgeable and articulate. They didn’t try talking down to this particular audience, and they were right, as every one in that huge room was hanging on every word. Many in attendance were also experts on the subject and/or community activists who lined up to register protests after the panel members had spoken. In the September issue of WestView News, science contributor, Mark M. Green, devoted his column to a description of the process known as “hydraulic fracturing,” or “fracking.” This piece helped me for the first time to understand the process, and I recommend it for a clear, comprehensive explanation. (Go to issuu.com/westviewnews/docs/wv_september2011_final and flip to page 12.) According to a handout from Rosenthal’s forum, “In fracking, drillers inject millions of gallons of water, sand, salts, and chemicals—all too often toxic chemicals and human carcinogens such as benzene—into shale deposits or other sub-surface rock formations at extremely high pressure, to fracture the rock

SPEAK OUT: There’s still time. Though there will be no more public hearings (this one was held at PS41 in the West Village on October 23), the deadline for written comments has now been extended from December 12 to January 11th. Photo by Maggie Berkvist.

and extract the raw fuel.” Another place to look for a graphic depiction of the effects of fracking is online, on YouTube.com, where you can see in its entirety Josh Fox’s award-winning documentary, “Gasland,” in different segments. A famous highlight of this film, viewable in the trailer, shows a man setting his own tap water on fire as he holds a flame to the water coming out of his faucet (youtube. com/watch?v=z0fAsFQsFAs). The speakers at the forum on November 2 talked as much about the horrors of current government policies as they did about the horrors of fracking itself. Environmental consultant Albert F. Appleton told the room that big gas-drilling companies, such as Halliburton, are currently exempt from all federal laws designed to protect the environment and ordinary people. These companies are not liable for the damage they do. The actor and activist Mark Ruffalo spoke movingly about his visit with victims of fracking in a small town in rural Pennsylvania, the site of the combustible tap water. For a while, the fracking company had been delivering drinking water to the afflicted townspeople, Ruffalo said,

Poverty is the Failing Link By George Capsis

A November 9 New York Times report documented the difficulties facing the failing private hospitals of Brooklyn, flooded by the growing number of poor and uninsured, and signaled that a work group appointed by Governor Cuomo is considering a desperate but perhaps mandatory solution—forgive the hospitals’ debt of more than $1 billion. “If we don’t figure out a way to redesign the system we’re going to have free-fall bankruptcies not only in Brooklyn but all over the state,” said Brooklyn Work Group

Chair Stephen Berger of the famed Berger Commission that helped close or downsize 57 hospitals throughout the state, including ten New York City hospitals, in keeping with the now discredited theory that the remaining ones would absorb the patient load and become more cost effective. After forgiving this $1 billion debt, the plan would be to “let large for-profit companies take over the facilities and restructure patients’ care.” The article does not offer what profitable patient care is, but we must assume it is what now takes place in the Beth Israel-Phillips Ambulatory Care Center on

Speak Out Panel Members • Albert F. Appleton, international consultant on water resource, management and sustainability; senior fellow, Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design; former Commissioner, NYC DEP; creator, NYC Catskill Watershed Protection Program. • Deborah Goldberg, northeast regional managing attorney, Earthjustice; former director, Democracy Program, NYU Law School Brennan Center for Justice. • Eric Goldstein, senior attorney and director, NYC Environment, Natural Resources Defense Council; co-instructor, NYU Law School Environmental Law Clinic. • Mark Ruffalo, actor and activist.

but after a time, this stopped, because the company was not legally obliged to do so. These victims have since been stranded in a toxic landscape, without clean water, on property that in essence no longer supports life, and which, of course, they also cannot sell. They cannot just up and move, because these are not wealthy people; in fact, so far, none of the fracking victims are. All New York State watersheds were off limits to the fracking industry until July 1, when the moratorium expired. Now the New York State DEC has drawn up a proposal to allow fracking but regulate it. It is significant that the land surrounding watersheds for New York City’s drinking water will, however, remain off limits to the fracking industry. While this exemption is obviously a necessary precaution to avoid a potentially monumental catastrophe, regulators also may have hoped that it would help to divert involvement by urban, liberal activists. However, as was apparent on November 2, the strategy isn’t working. Many representatives of local civic organizations stood up to officially oppose hydraulic fracturing anywhere in New York State, including Andrew Brokman, Community

Liaison for Community Board 1; Jonathan Rubin, representing NYC Friends of Clearwater, Inc.; and Lisa DiCaprio, Ph.D., Associate Director for Curricular Affairs at NYU, to name just a few. As individuals, each one of us can take action. Deborah Goldberg, northeast regional managing attorney for Earthjustice, asked people to contact everyone they know who lives upstate and alert them to the dangers of hydrofracking and to the approaching deadline for public comment on the proposed regulations, as they will be directly affected by the state’s decision. Encourage your community board to get involved. Email local politicians. Unfortunately, the public hearings are now over, having ended with two hearings in New York City on Wednesday, November 30, as this issue of WestView was going to press. But written comments will be accepted through 5:00 p.m., December 12. Contact the DEC at dec.ny.gov/ energy/76838.html, or send comments to: Attn: dSGEIS Comments, New York State DEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-6510. Include your name, address and affiliation, if any. continued on page 13

15th Street and Park Avenue South and what North Shore-LIJ is proposing for the O’Toole building—a conveyor belt to anonymous doctors who spend fewer and fewer minutes with patients. The suffocation of health service is especially acute in New York State because of a Depression-era law that says anyone coming into a hospital must be treated. Since the closing of the Roman Catholic hospital network put surviving Brooklyn hospitals under increased strain, the closing of even one or two more private hospitals could cause patient flow to jump by 130 percent in the remaining facilities, the Times reported. WestView has been calling the offices of Stephen Berger for several weeks but he

has not made himself available. The closing of St. Vincent’s is a special hardship for the 450,000 or so Lower West Side residents it served but its closing is a part of a nationwide dilemma. Like the ever-widening wealth gap that the young voices of Occupy Wall Street are protesting, hospital closings are a symptom of a systemic malaise—in this case, in providing health care in this country. And like the voices of the young Occupy Wall Street protesters, the cry of pain over lack of health care grows louder as the abuse grows worse but does not offer a solution. That solution should come from our political leaders who have so far failed to hear the young Occupy Wall Street voices and have certainly failed this community.


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12 WestView News December 2011

Five Ways to Help Teachers Excel By Tom Allon Everyone from Bill Gates to Randi Weingarten agrees that the single most important factor in children’s academic success is the quality and effectiveness of their teachers. Why, then, do we hold the teaching profession in such low regard? “Those who can, do,” goes the old refrain, “and those who can’t, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym.” No more noxious maxim exists in our culture, and it is this type of thinking that has gotten us to this low point in our country’s history. No knock on finance or even medicine or law or business, but in what other profession can practitioners say they help mold and shape the minds of the future? To teach is to achieve a small measure of immortality through the work and lives of one’s students and their progeny. There is no greater professional joy than to feel the satisfaction of truly reaching a student and helping him or her grasp a new concept or skill. I know this from personal experience. Very briefly, in the mid-1980s, I was a public school teacher at my alma mater, Stuyvesant High School. As my colleague, subsequent Pulitzer Prize-winner Frank

TOM ALLON LAUNCHES HIS CAMPAIGN: Allon announced his candidacy for Mayor of New York, 2013, at a well attended party in the Empire Room of the Empire State Building on November 16. Photo by Maggie Berkvist.

McCourt, warned me my first week: “It’s five shows a day and the toughest audience you’ll ever face.” How true. It was too tough for me. What

I learned from the experience is that teaching is a calling, like the ministry, and we need to let teachers know we realize it and appreciate their dedication and sacrifice by rewarding them financially and giving them the tools they need to succeed. All other discussion about improving educational outcomes is mere commentary. So, how do we do this? Here are five ideas. 1. Recruit teachers only from the top ten percent to top 33 percent of college graduating classes, as is the practice in Finland, Singapore and South Korea. 2. Offer these potentially great teachers high starting salaries (with lower retirement packages) so they will want to choose teaching over other, more lucrative careers. 3. Tell teachers that if they succeed and improve according to agreed-upon measures they will receive merit raises and bonuses, just as people who excel in other professions do. 4. Bring technology into the classroom. Each child should get an iPad, and Smart Board technology should be required in each New York City classroom. We must modernize our schools so children and teachers can learn and work in public-

school environments that offer more of the same advantages that private-school settings afford. 5. Perhaps most important, educate parents, the single greatest influence on a child’s academic trajectory, on how to parent and partner with teachers to insure a child’s educational success. Geoffrey Canada, founder of Harlem Children’s Zone, is on to something with the nine-week “Baby College” workshops HCZ offers to expectant parents and adults caring for a child aged three or younger to teach these adults how to nurture a love of reading and learning in their child. Visit hcz.org to learn more. If you’re dissatisfied with your current career despite the status and monetary rewards it provides and the idea of teaching stirs something deep inside you despite everything you’ve heard about what a grueling and thankless profession it can be, perhaps you’re among the called. If you believe that could be true of you, find out now. Our children can’t wait.

Tom Allon, a Democratic candidate for Mayor in 2013, is a former public school teacher and current president of Manhattan Media.

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December 2011 WestView News 13

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Designed to Live a Century By George Capsis On April 26, 1982 the cornerstone was laid for the John A. Coleman Memorial Pavilion. It opened in February 1983, dedicated to serving the community for decades to come. It was both a teaching and research facility. In its 16 stories it housed laboratories, operating suites, multiple intensive care units and more than 300 in-patient beds. The emergency room was one of the busiest in Manhattan. Bill Rudin now owns the building and is aggressively moving to demolish it and build luxury condominiums. When it is gone, we in the community, when we experience life-threatening trauma, will need and want a nearby emergency room. It will be gone. Building a new one will cost up to $1 billion. Greed is deaf to reason.

People Die Waiting

continued from page 1

mandates that everybody must have health insurance, will reduce E.R. wait times by making it less expensive for people to go to their doctors. But then he said that one survey found that after Massachusetts enacted just such a law, emergency room visits increased seven percent in two years. Off camera, hospital officials told FOX 5 that they are trying to build up their outpatient clinics so people will go there for less serious problems and not to the emergency room. This is exactly what we have at the Beth Israel Medical Center-Phillips Ambulatory Care Center on 15th Street and Park Avenue South. This is also the model that NSLIJ is trying to build in the O’Toole building, but for treatment of heart attack and stroke you must have access to a traditional and expensive 24/7 emergency room. NSLIJ has provided the Department of

Fracking

continued from page 11 Addendum: The Delaware River Basin Commission had scheduled a vote for Monday, November 21 to decide whether to allow 20,000 or more fracked gas wells in the Delaware River Basin. But a few days before the vote was to take place, it was cancelled. “The DRBC doesn’t hold a meeting to vote down their regulations,” Josh Fox, creator and director of “Gasland,” wrote on his blog, imaginepeace.com. “I’ve only ever seen them vote to approve things. Which means they would cancel the meeting only if they no longer have 3 out of 5 commissioners voting in favor of fracking. Which is exactly what they have done.”

A MODEL FOR ITS TIME: Artist's rendering of the Coleman building from the program created for the laying of the cornerstone.

Health and the business end of the medical community with a new model for how to profitably deliver medical services: just don’t offer the services that critically ill patients need. Make them go elsewhere. The FOX 5 report contained securitycamera footage of a woman who died in the Kings County psychiatric ward waiting room in 2008 after sitting there for 24 hours—fell face down dead on the floor and remained there as an attendant looked in, saw her and walked away. After voting to approve the NSLIJ clinic at a September 22 DOH committee hearing, Democratic State Senator Tom Duane demanded to see the statistics on how many people have died while being moved from one hospital to another, just to get an idea of how many people will die when they have to be moved from NSLIJ’s walk-in, walk-out clinic to a real emergency room. We will never see these statistics—never.

Fox thanked opponents of fracking who inundated the DRBC with calls and emails. “This is not a complete victory by any means,” he wrote. “We will have many more battles before we stop fracking completely in the Delaware River Basin and throughout the nation and the world.” Nonetheless, Fox feels there is cause to celebrate. “You saved the Delaware, for now.” To read the New York State DEP’s proposed regulations, go to: dec.ny.gov/ energy/75370.html. To read an informative summary of the history and hazards of fracking, the current federal and state legal landscape, and the flaws in the proposed New York State regulations, go to: scribd. com/doc/64476300/Fracking-Health-Impact-Assessments.

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14 WestView News December 2011

The 1% Jostles to Buy Rudin Condos

West Village Coalition Marches Against Crime By Tim Jambeck

CAN'T STOP CONDO SALES: Protesters are kept away from the Rudin condo sales office. Photo by Maggie Bervist.

Rudin’s first St. Vincent’s building renovation has proven a surprising success, with apartments going faster than anticipated. The building at 130 West 12th Street, one of 11 Rudin got for the bargain price of $240 million, is being touted as “Prewar Perfected.” Units start at almost $1.4 million. Pickets have not slowed rapid sales. As WestView was going to press, only 4 of 42 units, going at about $2,000 per square foot, remained unsold.* — George Capsis Unit Beds Baths Int.Sq.Ft Price Closing Tax 4B 3 2.5 1,970 3,995,000 1,916.57 2,281.08 8B 3 2.5 1,958 4,200,000 1,916.57 2,267.18 5A 4 3 2,816 5,750,000 2,775.75 3,260.67 10A 4 3 2,837 6,350,000 2,759.20 3,281.51

*Source: 130west12.com/#!Availability

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On Sunday, November 20, one of the last truly beautiful days in autumn, about 100 West Village residents took part in a march through the neighborhood to protest the increasing crime and violence they are seeing in their streets and express frustration with the lack of sufficient police presence in the community. Robert Ziegler, head of the West Village Coalition and owner of Boots & Saddles Bar, said the purpose of the march, billed as a March to Save the West Village, was to give residents and merchants a chance to tell local politicians and law-enforcement that they will no longer accept what has been happening to their neighborhood. The marchers gathered at 12:30 p.m. in front of St. John’s Lutheran Church on Christopher Street. Pastor Mark Erson started things off with prayer. He said that the people present had gathered for peace and justice and that they needed to challenge the insufficient police response to the escalation of violent and menacing behavior in the West Village while also working with elected officials to find concrete solutions to these problems. The marchers headed west on Christopher Street chanting “Save our village!” and “Stop the drugs!” and “We want more police!” Most of the marchers carried placards displaying the same messages. About a dozen police officers accompanied the procession to control traffic and ensure an orderly march. The crowd turned north on Weehawken and then east on 10th Street and gathered just across from the 6th Precinct Police Station, between Hudson and Bleecker, where Deputy Inspector Brandon Del

Pozo, the new commanding officer, addressed the crowd. Inspector Del Pozo thanked everyone for their concern about the ongoing violence in the West Village, agreed that a strengthened police presence was needed and pledged to make the best possible use of the resources available to him. He encouraged everyone to attend the 6th Precinct Community Council meetings held at 7:30 p.m. on the last Wednesday of every month at Our Lady of Pompeii Church at Bleecker and Carmine Streets in order to speak with the police about these ongoing problems in the neighborhood. The next speaker was Democratic State Senator Tom Duane, who thanked the West Village community for fighting for a safer neighborhood. Duane said that he has been working hard to get more police assigned to the 6th Precinct and believed that if residents stay resolved and united, they will be able to make their community safer than it has ever been. Also present to show support were Laura Morrison, Senator Duane’s Chief of Staff, and Melanie La Rocca, district office Chief of Staff for City Council speaker Christine Quinn. True to form when her presence is requested at West Village Coalition meetings and events, Quinn herself was not present. According to La Rocca, however, it had been at Quinn’s request that a portable light array was positioned on Christopher Street and Seventh Avenue as a nighttime crime deterrent last summer and is still sometimes put in place on weekends. Around 2:30 p.m., Robert Ziegler thanked everyone for participating and promised more meetings and marches until the goal of making the West Village a safer community is achieved.

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Bill Rudin

continued from page 4

gency room an “adequate substitute” for a full-service hospital? He dodges this question and talks instead about what this new facility will cost—more than $110 million—and how local officials seem “very positive” because “they understand with the fiscal constraints that we live in today that there is no $800 million to create a full scale hospital.” But wait. Just a year ago Coleman and Link were a hospital with 340 beds and a 24/7 emergency room. Why not reopen it and let Bill tear down the inverted ziggurat that is O’Toole and erect a 15-story condo monument to the family name? That question doesn’t get asked. Instead, Bill wraps up by saying that he and his fam-

ily have addressed “maybe all the concerns of the community, and that has always been our philosophy in any development we have been involved in.” Well, Bill, more than 8,000 West Villagers have signed a petition that they want a real hospital restored to the Lower West Side. You certainly haven’t addressed their concerns. Chris Quinn used to want a real hospital, too. Given that you invited her to speak at one of your ABNY Power Breakfasts about how she’ll run the city if she becomes mayor, I assume you have contributed or will generously contribute to her campaign. The support you have received from Quinn and our other effete local politicians are the strongest arguments for term limits I have ever encountered.


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16 WestView News December 2011

The Angry Buddhist

Trekking in the Himalaya No collect calls to the Buddha, one with it all By Carl Rosenstein Like a boxer past his prime looking for one more shot at the title, refusing to admit the ravages of time that have tarnished his performance and diminished his endurance, so it was with me as I trained and carefully prepared to step again into the ring of long-haul flights and overseas adventure, seeking that elusive epiphany. This time: a journey to the fabled Himalaya, abode of snow—the great mountains yet absent from my travel résumé without which I could not really call myself a world traveler. There, I would challenge my body and find my lama, who would share his wisdom about the dharma, teach me to control my rants and answer my angry questions concerning ag-

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HIS CURRENT REINCARNATION: A Buddhist monk indicates the relevant symbol on the Mandala. Photos by Carl Rosenstein.

A GLOWING 18-YEAR-OLD: Nima, son of the author’s guide, enjoys a moment of relaxation with a young Sherpa friend.

ing, greed, materialism, the Democrats and the hairs growing out of my ears instead of on my head. When you’re in Kathmandu, Nepal, you know it’s the 21st century. Quelle catastrophe! Over-crowded, poisonous air. Untreated effluent running in the rivers. Brutal standstill traffic and blaring horns—a perpetual Broome Street on a Friday afternoon. But the hearts of the Nepali are still warm and clear, and you are greeted with “Namaste,” or “I salute the divine within you.” The great 14th-century Bodhnath Stupa is the heart of Kathmandu. The bell-shaped monument is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the center of Tibetan Buddhist activity in the city. Pilgrims seeking enlightenment savagely prostrate themselves repeatedly before the mound that supposedly houses bones of the Buddha. While photographing the monument I was swept off my feet by a lively monk in crimson robes who offered to bless my mala (a beaded sandalwood pendant). Having never been blessed I let go to the wind. As he peppered me with questions we ritually circled the stupa three times clockwise. In a smaller pavilion, amidst a sea of candles, he lit seven in my honor, chanted the protective mantra OM MANI PADME HUNG and then led me to his monastery, where he lit more candles and bundles of incense, tossed handfuls of rice, chanted more mantras, placed a white silk scarf around my neck and officially declared me protected for my trek. I then offered to make a contribution to his monastery. He responded that he would gladly accept the donation personally “for a new cell phone with an unlimited plan.” Apparently there are no collect calls to the Buddha. I acquiesced and slipped him a thousand-rupee note, about $15—far above any amount I’ve ever donated to a religious body in my life—and to my surprise he asked for more. With

A WORLD HERITAGE SITE: The 14th-century Bodhnath Stupa in Katmandu is the center of the city’s Buddhist activity.

a smile I declined and returned to the great stupa, where I walked counter-clockwise against the teeming throng that felt like a surging tide. October is prime trekking season. After the monsoons, the skies are dependably clear, the nights in the mountains while cold are not winter frigid, and snows have yet to block the high passes. I chose the Helambu circuit, a trek deemed moderate and not requiring a perilous domestic flight or crowded, long-distance bus trip. My ethnic Tamang guide Lakpa, along with Nima, his glowing 18-year-old son as porter, would accompany me for eight days into the mountains. Lakpa, sturdy and rugged, built like a fire-plug, had many decades of experience and a joke for every situation. We departed hazy Kathmandu Valley on the main EastWest road, which is not really a road but a juxtaposition of ruts, bumps, potholes, roadkill, cracks and crevices, ruts and bumps ad infinitum. Circumventing the Front Range, we headed north up the Melamchi River Valley. The towering, snow-capped Langtang peaks stood as sentinels 30 miles in the distance straddling the border of “The Forbidden Kingdom,” now brutalized Tibet. On torturous switchbacks with precipitous edges we ascended slowly. At 5,000 feet, the Land Cruiser got stuck in the mud. There was no turning back now. With trepidation I began my trek bistari bistari, one step at a time.

Next month: The Climb

Stephanie Phelan, longtime WestView designer and contributor, received a plaque from New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly for 30 years of service as an Auxiliary Police Officer for the 6th Precinct. Phelan has put in many hours of patrol around the neighborhood over her period of service, Phelan has also assisted the NYPD in various ways such as working traffic and crowd control at special events. "I feel that the Auxiliaries can be a great bridge between the police and the residents of the neighborhood,” Phelan says. “The time I’ve spent on the force has been extremely rewarding.”


December 2011 WestView News 17

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VillageCare Offers Day Program for Seniors By Barbara Chacour VillageCare, known for decades for its former nursing home on Abingdon Square, now has a number of modern health facilities at different locations in the area. The central focus of the organization is to allow people with health problems and impairments to remain independent by offering such services as in-patient rehabilitation, outpatient medical care, home care and an adult day program. WestView News toured the spacious, modern, 12-year-old Adult Day Health Center with social worker and program director Lisa Bohmart and spoke to her about the facility’s existing and planned services. Bohmart explained that the center offers what is known as a “medical model day program” and is expanding to also offer a “social model program.” The medical model is a Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. program covered by Medicaid ($190 a day) for adults with some cognitive or physical impairment. The typical participant has either Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease. Five vans pick up and return about 60 participants daily from all over Manhattan and some from the Bronx. Their ages range from 55 to 95. Ethnic and gender ratios are balanced. There is a staff of 14 people. VillageCare is adding a social program for people 65 and older with mild memory loss, which will be available Tuesday and Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The fee will be $65 a day, but this program will not be covered by Medicaid or private insurance. The center provides breakfast and lunch, under the supervision of a nutritionist. Nurses at the center administer medications, renew prescriptions and schedule doctors’ appointments. Asked if the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital has been disruptive to VillageCare clients, Bohmart confirmed that it has been. Psychiatric patients have been especially affected by the lack of

IN CHEERFUL SURROUNDINGS: Lisa Bohmart directs the Center’s many activities. Photo by Maggie Berkvist.

continuity in their outpatient care and by the difficulty in getting appointments during this transition. Bohmart said that most now are treated at Beth Israel. Providing a tour after closing time, Bohmart showed WestView the cheerful activity rooms. The center offers art, music, singing (including a chorus), dance, video entertainment, group therapy and physical therapy. The corridors are decorated with lovely photographs taken by participants during photo outings. The Fresh Art organization selects artwork from the center for its shows. Bohmart emphasizes the benefits of socialization for participants, some of whom are quite isolated otherwise but blossom as they form friendships. Healthier participants are encouraged to assist needier ones, which she says they do willingly, giving them a sense of purpose and creating a family feeling among clients.

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18 WestView News December 2011

Church of the Village Helps Feed the Hungry By Nancy Matsumoto Some West Villagers may know Earl, the gray-bearded African-American man who wears a baseball cap and can often be spotted sitting in his wheelchair on Eighth Avenue in front of Jane Street Garden’s chain-link fence. He’s the guy who shakes his large Styrofoam cup filled with coins and the occasional one- or five-dollar bill as he hums softly. Earl used to be a tollbooth worker at the Lincoln Tunnel. He’s also diabetic. He was pulling double shifts in November to col-

lect enough money to buy a Thanksgiving turkey. His biggest donation of all time, he told me, came when another black man, a neighborhood resident he’s friendly with, came by one day and dropped a $50 bill in his cup. There are about 1.5 million New Yorkers who, like Earl, struggle to put food on the table, according to the food rescue and redistribution agency City Harvest. The number of hungry in our city increased by about 75,000 individuals from 2009 to 2010, according to a New York Times report on new Census Bureau findings. SERVING THE NEIGHBORHOOD: With renovations now completed, The Church of the Village will be resuming its Saturday meal program. Photo by Martine Mallory.

All There in Black and White: This map of hospital-bed distribution in Manhattan is the brilliant creation of graphic designer Jayne Hertko, who has been involved in the fight to restore a hospital to the Lower West Side for a year and a half. The numbers reflect the most current data on certified hospital beds from the New York State Department of Health Hospital Profiles. These numbers can fluctuate and may not be complete, but they are a good indicator of hospital-bed distribution in New York City. A previous version of this map had added Harlem Hospital Center’s beds to the wrong sector. Totals are corrected here.

According to a November 21 report on dnainfo.com, the heavy increase in demand for emergency food assistance (City Harvest puts the increase at 25 percent since 2008) coupled with budget cutbacks to programs that address this need have led to the closing of some soup kitchens, food pantries and food rescue agencies. Others have been unable to feed all the hungry who come to them. Here in the West Village, The Church of the Village on Seventh Avenue and West 13th Street just finished a major renovation and the addition of a commercial-grade kitchen to better serve its clients. During the renovation, says Pastor Sara Giron-Ortiz, while the church had to temporarily cease its Hope for our Neighbors in Need Saturday hot-meal program, it launched Daisy’s Food Pantry, which hands out bags of groceries to the needy every Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The week before Thanksgiving, says the pastor, the pantry distributed food to more than 170 individuals and families. The church also sponsored a Thanksgiving meal for 95 guests and volunteers on Saturday, November 26, in the Baruch House at 12 Avenue D. Now that the kitchen renovation is finished, the church will resume serving hot meals every Saturday from 12 noon to 2 p.m. Led by Bishop Alfred Johnson, the Church of the Village is the result of a 2005 merger of three United Methodist churches in the Village area—Washington Square, Metropolitan-Duane and Church of All Nations—and is housed in the former Metropolitan-Duane United Methodist Church building, constructed in 1932 to replace the church that had stood on the same site for almost a century. As the church Web site notes, each of these three churches “had a long and colorful history in being beacons for social justice and progressive belief, and The Church of the Village strives to carry out that same commitment in its mission.” The church considers its HNN feeding ministry to be “one of the most important missions for our church members, who see this program as a key initiative to support Social

Justice and Community Outreach.” If you’d like to volunteer in your neighborhood to help feed the hungry this holiday season, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a program that can use your help. Take a look at The New York City Coalition Again Hunger’s Volunteer Matching Center or Time Out New York’s holiday volunteering guide. If you don’t have time to volunteer but would like to donate to organizations that provide food and meals to the hungry, some other good programs beside City Harvest include: Food Bank for New York City; the Soup Kitchen at Church of Saint Joseph on Sixth Avenue between Waverly and Washington Streets; and the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen on Ninth Avenue and 28th Street in Chelsea. Those wishing to volunteer with or donate to Church of the Village’s HNN ministry may contact Pastor Giron-Ortiz at pastorsara@churchofthevillage.org or volunteer coordinator Andrew Lobo at vista@churchofthevillage.org. The church’s Web site also accepts donations by credit card and PayPal.

WestView News

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Webmaster and social media Guru

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To take the WestView News website to the next level. We are looking for someone who can handle ongoing web updates as well as take the lead in modernizing the site. Experience with Facebook, Twitter and Joomla a plus. Must have a good understanding of HTML/CSS and possess strong design skills. E-mail GCapsis@gmail.com or call 212 924 5718


December 2011 WestView News 19

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Boomer Bust By Marc Wallace In the midst of this festive holiday season, when giving thanks gives way to giving presents (and then to returning them), I cannot help but picture living rooms filled with Christmas trees—and how their fresh, vibrant greenery soon turns brittle and falls dead in a pile. Which reminds me I’m a Baby Boomer. As you have probably heard by now, every day this year since January 1—in fact, every eight seconds since last New Year’s Day—another Baby Boomer in the U.S. has turned 65 years old. Long ago, I had meant to comment on this phenomenon, but since the day I was officially declared to be old, I just plain forgot. The same way I just forgot where I put my glasses. True, there are plenty of other intriguing things to command our attention that also occur every eight seconds. For example, also in the U.S. in this same time frame, a sheltered dog or cat is put down, 12,000 plastic bottles of water are consumed and discarded, and General Electric avoids paying another $126,100 in corporate federal taxes. Of course, every eight seconds that pesky national debt thing also increases by about $274,300; and, as so many politicians of a certain stripe like to remind us, few budget items seem to impact our national debt as much as the so-called “entitlements” of Social Security and Medicare. You know what an entitlement is: a dirty word for a government benefit you don’t think you’ll ever need and don’t want to be taxed for. Now, in the short time it’s taken you to read this far, approximately ten more Boomers have turned 65. That’s ten more people who’ve come of age expecting entitlements. Even worse, that’s ten more people desperately looking around for their cell phones, unaware that they’re talking on them. As a typical West Village liberal tax-and-spend Boomer—one who’s paid his share of taxes and doesn’t have much money left to spend—I’m not too worried about any cuts that eventually might be made in my entitlements because my generation has been, as they say, “grandfathered in.” And even though I don’t have any grandkids, here’s one time I’m perfectly happy to be called “grandpa.” Notice I’ve shortened Baby Boomer to just plain Boomer. Once you’ve turned 65, it’s much harder to justify the “Baby” part anymore. And Boomer is fine—certainly better than the dreaded “senior citizen” or, heaven forbid, “Golden Ager.” You might as well call me a Golden Retriever. In fact, you know what? Why not just call me “old” the way every student I ever taught in public school did, no matter how young I thought I was at the time. There’s nothing wrong with being called old. In fact, I think they got it right back in 1864 in Wynnewood, a suburb just across the city line from my hometown of Philadelphia, when they built

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and forthrightly named a facility “The Old Man’s Home.” Now it’s a rehab center and nursing home known as Saunders House, and it’s a very nice place that takes women, too, but the name just doesn’t have the same panache. And, certainly, the name Boomer will never have as much panache as our parents’ “Greatest Generation” label does. Then again, we only had the Vietnam War to fight. That, plus bell-bottoms. My internist, a very smart guy with both an M.D. and a Ph.D, has been suggesting for years (well, at least since he turned 60) that he’d like to see us older folks called Chronos—as in the Greek word for time. It’s an interesting idea, unless you don’t like being confused with a Swiss watch. Or an old crone. He’s the same doctor who, when I told him how good he looked, smiled wanly and replied, “There are three stages of life: youth, adulthood and ‘You look good.’” So let me put politics aside for now and focus on trying to accomplish a few more things in the years I have left, because I’ve got some real catching up to do with certain members of my generation. Two guys just a few months younger than I who also turned 65 this year—guys named Clinton and Bush—have each already served two terms as President of the United States! And me? Well, as soon as I find my glasses, I’m gonna look for my cell phone again.

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20 WestView News December 2011

For Christmas at Mamma’s there’ll be a Turkey the size of a baby carriage. They had to tie it onto the roof of the Volks so we could get it home from the ShopRite—and a real English plum pudding weighing Twelve pounds that Mamma had Flown in from Fortnum and Mason. Who would be cheap at Christmas? says Mamma.

For Christmas at Poppa’s it’ll be two Rock Cornish game hens that didn’t Quite thaw and a quart of Peanut butter ice cream From Baskin-Robbins that Did. Poppa’s still learning.

For Christmas at Mamma’s there’ll Be a tree that even Joyce Kilmer wouldn’t believe—a blue spruce Seventeen feet tall (you can always cut some off the top, Mamma says) Decorated with real glass balls hand blown by Sandy Calder and tinsel made out of Sterling silver that you send to Denmark for. You only Live once, Mamma says.

For Christmas at Poppa’s there’ll be a tree that Sits on a table, decorated with Ornaments we make out of Pipe cleaners and paper clips and stars cut out of Shirt cardboard. The place isn’t big enough for a Floor tree, Poppa says, and besides those big ones are Vulgar.

For Christmas at Mamma’s there’ll be Presents galore. A real Horse for Sis and for me a Rocket that carries four people and flies Sixteen miles that I saw on TV. Mamma’s Promised—if old Cheapareeno doesn’t hold up the Check out of spite the way he did Last year.

For Christmas at Poppa’s it’ll be something Practical like warm winter Mittens and scarfs with skiers On them. And if I get lucky a Pair of Adidas and if Sis gets Ditto a set of felt pens for writing on Subways—if Poppa has anything left from his Bonus after she gets Finished with him.

For Christmas at Mamma’s there’ll be a big Party with egg-nog for the grown-ups— The recipe calls for a Gallon of heavy cream and six bottles of Courvoisier. And they’ll all stand around for Hours and hours singing and spilling Fruit cake on the rug and even us kids Will be allowed to get half Smashed on egg-nog, for mamma will Say, After all, it’s Christmas, they have to learn to Drink sometime and anyway the Rug can be cleaned for a lousy Hundred bucks or so— It’s only money, Mamma says.

For Christmas at Poppa’s Uncle Frank will come over and he and Poppa will sit there and drink Beer and talk about Inflation and the IRS and Renewing the loan and maybe if Poppa gets the new contract he’ll Get out of it somehow, and anyway by some year like 2041 me and Sis will be out of College and Poppa won’t even be Eighty.

For Christmas at Mamma’s there’ll be her new Boy friend—a writer named Carl who has to Drink for his writer’s block. They want to get Married, but Poppa won’t let them. The way Mamma explains it, he’d shut off the Money and then Carl would have to Support us and Mamma’s too Proud to depend on any man, as long as she Has her health and can still do a day’s Work, if only she could find a Job that was really challenging at around a hundred thou.

For Christmas at Poppa’s there’ll be his new Girl friend. She wants to get Married. She’s not getting any Younger she says. And Poppa will Snort, Not on your tintype, and so there’ll be a Fight for Christmas at Poppa’s.

But you can’t blame Poppa for Christmas. He’s still paying for his Lawyers and hers. He had an Old friend who would have been Cheaper, but the friend said it would Break his heart to Take sides. And now he has Christmas at Mamma’s.


December 2011 WestView News 21

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22 WestView News December 2011

Boldface Names : When Josh met Alice ©

By Bobb Goldsteinn, Theater Editor George, Help! I’m obsessing over a new (but old) show tune that’s been plaguing my mind for days now, and it’s refusing to make room for any other piece of music or even for a spell of some blessed silence. It’s a delirium I contracted shortly after attending “A Celebration by Family and Friends of the life of Alice Playten 1947– 2011” at Second Stage Theater, November 14, 2001 (Closed). Alice was an elegant addition to the culture of the West Village, and we were richer for her, but I’ll wager, George, that you never heard of Ms. Playten, although much of her historiography parallels your years in New York, and you may even have seen some of her work. Did you ever see Ethel Merman in “Gypsy”? Alice was the second Baby Louise, as in “Sing out, Louise!” I’m sure you and Maggie C must have seen “Hello, Dolly!” (Didn’t everyone?) Alice played Ermengarde, the character Carol Channing admonishes to “stop sniveling on the valises” during the unfolding pleasures of Gower Champion’s choreography in the spectacular “Put On Your Sunday Clothes” number. What about the Alka-Seltzer commercial where Alice played an unseasoned newlywed, lolling on the conjugal bed, thumbing through a cookbook and considering what she’ll make for hubby tomorrow, while hubby’s in the bathroom chug-a-lugging antacids because of what he had eaten earlier, and now he hears he can look forward to “Marshmallow meatballs!” “Sweet and sour snails!” and “Poached oysters!” But shucks! (Sorry about that.) Alice did so much more in a career that spanned half a century, because she was free of the false pride that obscures and obstructs the path to success. Alice just wanted to go “where the work is,” from playing Marie’s Little Boy in the first American production of Alban Berg’s ”Wozzeck” as presented by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, to guest-appearing on “Law & Order,” frequenting “A Prairie Home Companion” and doing cartoon voiceovers for Saturday morning TV. Her seemingly effortless versatility allowed her to add many other diverse feathers to her pert performing cap: She ‘flowered’ in Al Carmines' and Maria Irene Fornes’ “Promenade,” the most successful avant-garde musical to come out of the mythic era of Judson Church in the ’60s. As Emma, she became a fragile survivor of radical idealism in Michael Weller’s “Spoils of War,” directed by Austin Pendleton (one of the honored guests who spoke that evening); and, later, she played Grandma Gellman in Tony Kushner’s and Jeanine Tesori’s civil rights musical “Caroline, or Change,” directed by George C. Wolfe.

AN ACTRESS OF GREAT SUBTLETY, DEPTH AND HUMOR: “The Celebration” stage, and Alice at the center of it all. Photo by Maddy Miller.

And let’s not forget Alice’s spot-on imitation of a prancing and strutting Mick Jagger in “National Lampoon’s Lemmings,” the hit musical revue at the late Village Gate that introduced Christopher Guest, Chevy Chase and John Belushi to New York audiences and then to Lorne Michaels of “Saturday Night Live.” Judging by the stature of the speakers who turned out to share their love and regard for tiny Alice (who was only four feet, 11 inches tall but swore she was five feet), one would think that their tributes were being offered up to a talent on the scale of a Merman or a Channing; and, in fact, they were. Alice was an actress of great subtlety, depth and humor, a dancer of intuitive technique and a powerhouse singer with a belting range that could sail over the sound level of an orchestra and chorus. Alice had everything she needed in the talent department, but chance still chose to withhold from her that plummiest component of a rich career: a breakthrough signature role that would attract a much larger fan base outside of the business, which could lead to a zillion friends on Facebook, YouTube hits that go viral, a much-visited Web site (and store) and armies of fans who follow her on Twitter… and Hollywood offers and musicals custom-crafted for her talents, like they used to do for Mary Martin, who did play “Peter Pan,” a role that Alice would have been great in if she could have handled the flying. (Plus, she looked fantastic in tights!) But it was not to happen. And on top of that (as if that weren’t enough), God wanted more from her, so Alice paid, and I don’t mean like in those show-biz stories about “paying dues” that we hear of so much. That sort of trivia rarely dotted her radar because Alice had real and basic concerns to deal with, which superseded such mundane matters as not getting the part—or, getting the part and then getting panned for it. And please don’t tell me that being born with juvenile diabetes doesn’t put you on notice that this life may not be the most welcoming place in the world for you. You’re a kid, and you can’t have sugar?

Then, later, you must deal with two different cancers? Complications from the latter of which stop your heart? Please. How do you equate that with being a two-time Obie Award Winner with a Tony Nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Bob Merrill musical? Well, you don’t. If you are basically wise, though, which Alice certainly was, such challenges can afford you a certain balance, like the long, weighty pole that the tightrope walker uses to steady himself on the cable, thus achieving an equilibrium. I knew that Alice had that because she always put the important things like love and affection and loyalty on the top of her list, which is where, after all, they really belong. I also contend that what inspired her to joyously embrace her life (after all, she did have a choice) and what made the second half of her 63 years so worth living was her storybook marriage to her devoted and supportive husband, Josh White, eponymous creator of the Joshua Light Show, the projection spectacle that illuminated Bill Graham’s Fillmore East Rock Palace from 1968 to 1971 and continues to surface today at different boldface-name venues, usually in collaborations with other interesting artists like the experimental band Yo La Tengo, and Gary Panter, the original designer of “Pee Wee’s Playhouse.” A renowned entrepreneur, fabricator and manager of mechanical marvels that he enlists in one of his longtime pleasures, his pursuit of modernizing the arcane craft of “colour music” (the original name for what we were all doing), Josh is also the man to hire if you have a crew that must work as one, especially if that’s what the artistic effect of the work is meant to achieve. For Alice, Josh brought these talents and skills home, placing all in the service of his wife’s every need, personal, professional and medical. One of the highlights of the “Celebration” was a videotape Josh directed of a musical number Alice performed on a 1979 KNBC TV Christmas Special, walking around a sunny Southern California landscape singing “Silver Bells” while enveloped

in her own one-woman snowstorm. In fact, George, you can see this musical number for yourself, because, unlike in the days of old, one can now transcend one’s reliance on the bias of a printed record of a live event and, courtesy of the Internet and YouTube, go right to the event, itself. Of course, this renders the printed rendition as the less “permanent’ record”—the Beta version, if you will—while the digital platform becomes the Alpha, and rightly so, since newsprint is ephemeral and flammable, while—God willing— our work may live to reach the eyes of tomorrow on the Internet. But before I direct you to the links that will make you a part of the same audience I was a member of that night, let me at least list the speakers in order of their appearance: Annette Bening, the evening’s M.C.; Fred Plotkin, Alice’s cousin and author of nine books on Italian food and culture; Frank Rich; Austin Pendleton; TV writer Susan Cuscuna; Stephen Holden; “Lemmings” writer Sean Kelly; Annette O’Toole and Michael McKean (who shared with us Alice’s recipe for whole wheat blueberry muffins); producer-composer Edward Barnes; Christopher Durang; Veanne Cox; Ted Chapin of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization; Bebe Neuwirth; and, lastly, Josh. Projected photos and some 15 movie and TV clips were shown between the tributes, and it was early on in the course of the evening, during one of these multimedia moments, that I started to be infected. The musical excerpt in question was introduced live by Frank Rich, who (as you may remember) was the chief theater critic for the New York Times from 1980 until 1990 or thereabouts. The clip, in the fuzzy colors of a 1967 videotape, features a second-act musical number from “Henry, Sweet Henry,” then playing at Broadway’s Palace Theatre, as remounted on the stage of the Ed Sullivan Theatre for Sullivan’s wildly popular Sunday night variety show, broadcast live and watched religiously by all of America. The tape starts out with a typically unsmiling and slurry-voiced Ed introducing Don Ameche, the star of “Henry, Sweet Henry.” Ameche takes over the introductory chores with the hobbling uncertainty of a man who must have known that his show was already on the ropes, which it was, since it had just opened to a poor review from the new chief New York Times theater critic, Clive Barnes. It seems that Barnes, who had just covered “HAIR” a few nights earlier down at the Public Theatre (timing is everything), had suddenly decided to become a force for encouraging new types of pop music to be written for the musical stage, and he was wildly enthusiastic about the potential of rock, although, in truth, the score of “HAIR” was certainly not that. Since “Henry, Sweet Henry” (adapted from a Peter Sellers movie called “The World of Henry Orient”) had a more traditional score by the established Bob Mer-


December 2011 WestView News 23

www.westviewnews.org Theater: 'Henry, Sweet Henry' Opens

By CLIVE BARNES New York Times (1857-Current file); Oct 24, 1967; ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) pg. 50

THE EVENING’S MC: Annette Bening was there for Playten.

rill (“Take Me Along,” “Carnival,” “Funny Girl” and some songs for “Hello, Dolly!”), Barnes had dismissed this effort as “tired and faded,” even though the astute William Goldman, in his book “The Season,” observed that “Henry” was getting as good a reaction from audiences nightly as “Mame” was on the other side of Broadway. Amongst the collateral damage triggered by Barnes’ negative review (that Barnes was later heard to recant, saying that -- courtesy of the “Henry, Sweet Henry” cast recording -- he had developed a belated fondness for the score) was Alice’s best chance at stardom. As Ameche’s halting and flub-filled intro on the Ed Sullivan Show stumbled on, a reader of body language could tell that Alice’s future prospects in the production were not bright, although Alice’s backstage story was already the stuff of legend. It seems prior to coming to Broadway, while trying “Henry” out of town (where all new plays and musicals first used to open), Merrill and his producers saw that a young supporting singing actress named Alice Playten was stopping the show’s first act nightly with a solo number called “Nobody Steps on Kafritz,” her character’s name. So the powers that be decided that Merrill should write an Act II number for Playten, which Merrill did: something he called “Poor Little Person” (an odd name for a jaunty little march). The number features a phalanx of young ladies from the company wearing different-colored winter overcoats (Pia Zadora is in blue), mastering a pitch that Alice’s character contrives to wring donations out of strangers to help some “Poor Little Person” in need. Choreographed by Michael Bennett eight years before “A Chorus Line,” the number delivers a socko triumph for Playten in spite of the questionable title and the silliness of the lyrics, and the suspicion that it was also written to cover a scene change. And the number got to me. Not at first. I had to try it again on YouTube once or twice when I got home (they say the same thing about some people with drugs). But then it hit, and I was a goner. So that’s it. Experience the number for yourself, George. Watch it three times and see if you can figure out what’s gotten into me. Of course, George, I do have one theory: humming the song makes me think of Alice’s performance and, afterwards, what a thrill it must have been to be called aside by Sullivan and to be personally introduced by name to his vast audience, and how, at that moment, Alice was primed for stardom and all things were possible.

P.S.: Much of “A Celebration by Family and Friends of the life of Alice Playten 1947–2011” can be found in segments on YouTube, along with other clips of Alice performing and being interviewed. To see her perform “Poor Little Person” on google YouTube/Ed Sullvan/Poor Little Person go to: youtube.com/ watch?v=6lyv67Peo4w&feature=results_video&playnext=1 &list=PL175D9810658C8BD3 Happy Holidays Chappy Chanukah And a Bright and “White Christmas” to all!

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.


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24 WestView News December 2011

95 7th Avenue (212) 255-1980

for u yo k n a a ucc Th Z g kin a ess! c m c u a s ino h t G c s o su m H Fro -

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Dolce Vizio Brings Creative Tiramisù to the West Village

SPECIALIZING: Co-owner Alessandro Radici stands ready to advise customers on Dolce Vizio’s many flavors of this favorite Italian dessert. Photo by Maggie berkvist

a pp

! y Holidays

By Nancy Matsumoto

A few months ago, the former Christopher Street Deli site on the corner of Christopher and Hudson took on a brand new identity when a sleek, red-trimmed storefront opened. Dolce Vizio Tiramisù specializes in one thing: tiramisu, the Italian dessert of mascarpone cheese, espressosoaked ladyfingers and cocoa powder. The two entrepreneurs behind Dolce Vizio are Alessandro Radici, 27, and Nadia Tade, 25, natives of Bergamo, Italy who met as business students and fellow competitive skiers at Bocconi University in Milan. The concept of an all-tiramisu shop came to the couple after a visit to the SERVING YOU WITH THE FINEST MEATS AND Roman café Pompi, known for its classic POULTRY IS WHAT WE’RE PROUD OF THE MOST tiramisu and variations on the dish. For their venture, Radici and Tade teamed up with Michelin-starred chef Fabrizio When all the hustle and bustle and shopping is done… it all At Ottomanelli, we treat every customer like they are part of the family andFerrari, at who cooks at a Bergamo restaurant comes down to celebrating the holidays with family and friends! this time of theMay season we’re reminded the most about what it means to be family owned by Radici’s family. Ferrari develops we at Suggest for your traditional holiday feast: tiramisu recipes for the and how to be treated with respect and love. “Other people may promise, wedifferent-flavored at shop based on suggestions from Tade and O. Ottomanelli & Sons meatORyour demand” CROWN ROAST OF LAMB PORK Radici, and between occasional onsite visits FRESH:TURKEY • DUCK • PHEASANTS • CAPONS • SQUABS • and frequent Skype sessions, says Tade, “he GOOSE • QUAIL • WILD TURKEY • RABBIT • SUCKING PIG • FRESH is mentoring us” from afar. HAM • SMOKED TURKEY • FILET MIGNON • SPIRAL CUT HAM • The shop’s name combines the words for SMITHFIELD HAMS • “vice,” and “sweet,” explains Tade, because CROWN ROAST OF VENISON- OVEN READY PRIME RIB ROAST Dolce Vizio trades in “something you don’t really need in your life but is a nice indulgence that makes your life happier and sweeter.” She notes that the neighborhood has extended a warm welcome to her GIFT CERTIFICATE AVAILABLE and Radici, overjoyed that their shop is neither another Marc Jacobs boutique nor a chain store. Other people may promise. When Radici was accepted at Columbia We at O.Ottomanelli & Sons meat your demand. University’s business school, Tade quit her O.OTTOMANELLI & SONS job as a financial-risk consultant for DeNEW YOK’S FAMILY MEAT MARKET loitte in Milan so the duo could move to 285 Bleecker Street • 212-675-4217 New York together and settle in Columbia

FROM ALL OF US AT

O. OTTOMANELLI & SONS OF GREENWICH VILLAGE

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Visit us at www. wildgamemeatsareus.com

It’s a real pleasure at this holiday time to say “thank you” O. OTTOMANELLI NEW as we wish you a full year of happiness and success.YORK’S

FAMILY MEAT MARKET

285 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10014

graduate student housing. They worked with the city’s New Business Acceleration Team, which helped expedite their way through Gotham’s bureaucratic thicket. Radici loves the fact that New York is a “global city” filled with so many foreigners that he doesn’t feel like one himself, and that the U.S. “is a much more business friendly place” than his homeland. At Columbia Business School, which is less theoretical and more practical than comparable schools in Italy, Radici adds, he can study entrepreneurship while he practices it in the West Village. The store offers $7 ready-to-eat single portions of tiramisu in six flavors, including the most popular varieties of Classic, Orange Espresso, and Nutella. Singleserving-size cups for $5 or $8 feature ladyfingers soaked in either chocolate, citrus or coffee sauces with a choice of two toppings. Think of it as the more sophisticated Italian take on the ubiquitous frozen yogurt shop. There is also a cake-size option that will feed 9 to 12 people for $39. A variety of coffees and teas and a simple dining area round out the take-out or eatin experience. “We don’t have any expansion plans yet,” says Radici. “We are fine-tuning this store. We want to make it perfect.”

Dolce Vizio Tiramisù, 131 Christopher Street (corner of Hudson) Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. Sunday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. dolceviziotiramisu.com Nancy Matsumoto is a West Village writer and editor. This article is reprinted from her blog, Walking and Talking, at nancymatsumoto.blogspot.com.


December 2011 WestView News 25

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Our Lady of Pompeii Flea Market Great gifts at good prices support local artisans and church programs. By Gini Kopecky Wallace Sheila Strong was selling her collectible Bakelite jewelry at a street fair on Christopher Street in the summer of 2000 when David Gruber of the Carmine Street Block Association approached her and asked if she’d like to become a vendor at a flea market he and other community activists were organizing to help support Our Lady of Pompeii Church. No, she said, but she’d run it for him. “I had done it before,” says Strong, who used to run a flea market at Little Red School House. “So he took my phone number, and the people at the church interviewed me and hired me.” Strong advertised on the Internet and reached out to other vendors she knew, and the Our Lady of Pompeii Flea Market opened the following spring. She has been running and selling her wares at this unique seasonal market ever since. “I’ve been part of it since April 2001,” she says. “We have sixteen vendors now. I think we’ve added two spaces. Most of the vendors are people who live in the neighborhood—I’d say sixty percent or more. A lot of the people who started ten years ago are still there.” Lynn Pacifico has been selling semiprecious stones and the jewelry she makes from stones, fossils and meteorites at the market for four years. “It’s not really a flea market,” she says. “It’s more of an artisans’ market. Some people sell collectibles, but most make what they’re selling. We have everything from scarves, to little pillows with lavender in them, to crocheted baby caps and mittens and shoes, which do very well. And, if you go by, you’ll see the artisans crocheting as they’re sitting behind their booths.” Some vendors bring their goods to the market by car. Others, like Pacifico, who lives in the neighborhood, push their carts

IN A TIME-HONORED TRADITION: Vendors bring their goods to this little market on Bleecker Street by pushcart. Photos by Maggie Berkvist.

over from home. It’s a time-honored tradition. “My great-grandmother used to sell bread from a wagon in the neighborhood,” says Pacifico. As she said to her father, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Vendors pay $30 or $50 a day to rent a half or full space (five or ten feet) along the side of the church on the west side of Bleecker Street between Carmine and Leroy. The money goes to the church, a founding member of The Caring Community and perhaps best known in the neigh-

borhood for providing lunches to seniors five days a week. Vendors supply their own tables, chairs, tablecloths and other equipment and keep all profits from sales. The bad economy has taken a bite out of those profits. “Some vendors used to make a living just selling at the market on weekends,” says Pacifico. “They can’t do that anymore. Every year, it gets more difficult to get people to part with their money. So we have to become more inventive and hone our product and give a better bargain.” Weather can be challenging, too. “I’ve become much more weather-conditioned than I used to be,” says Pacifico. “You become very outdoorsy, seriously. I could go live in the woods with the equipment I got for the market.” Much of that equipment gets shared among vendors. “We have to set up lights this time of year because it gets dark so early, so we share electrical cords,” says Pacifico. “If someone needs a table, we’ll squeeze in together to make room. There’s a real camaraderie. It’s just a great market for everyone involved.” Shoppers take note: Pacifico and other vendors also offer holiday discounts. “We close in the middle of December and don’t open again until April,” she says, “so I’d rather give discounts than have all this

stock in the bottom of my closet all winter. And I love sales. I love when people love what they buy and are really happy. It’s part of the fun of being there.” Just don’t expect to find all the vendors there early. They know their local clientele. “It’s Greenwich Village,” says Strong. “Early in the morning, nobody’s there. People stay home. They go have coffee. They have brunch. They read The New York Times. Then they go out.”

Our Lady of Pompeii Flea Market Bleecker Street between Carmine and Leroy Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Through Sunday, December 18

Scenter: A Gift Shop to Please the Senses By Barbara Chacour Sonia Castro, the owner of Scenter, comes from a family of retailers. Her brother Sammy is familiar to many Villagers — his pet supply store, Pet’s Kitchen, is next door to Scenter. Another brother owns Pet Palace on West 10th Street, and a third brother has a midtown deli. Castro herself has always wanted to run her own business, she says, and after years in the corporate world, she opened this shop three months ago. As the store’s name implies, scented items are prominent in the pretty space.

Purity and quality are important to Castro. The soaps, candles, lotions, oils and herbs she carries (such as sage for burning) are all of top quality, she says. She also sells unscented candles and, among the higherpriced items in her shop, a line of scented and unscented home air purifiers from Lampe Berger that employ a catalytic diffusing process ($35 to $200). Scenter also carries hats, bags and greeting cards produced by local artisans.

Scenter 116 Christopher Street (near Bedford ) (212) 524-6925

A WISH COME TRUE: Finally, Sonia Castro is running her own business and selling scented items in a pretty space. Photo by Maggie Berkvist.


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26 WestView News December 2011

Reel Deal: Movies that Matter By Jim Fouratt Quelle deluge! November brought the avalanche of Big Hitters and Indie Dreamers all in search of those Academy, Spirit and SAG award nominations. While I was sitting in darkened rooms watching films uptown at Lincoln Center (New York Film Festival), downtown broke out Occupy Wall Street. I found myself biking back and forth and trying to put the films I was viewing in real-world context. Now, let’s go to the movies. “Paul Goodman Changed My Life,” directed by Jonathan Lee. Paul Goodman, an almost forgotten 1950/60’s public intellectual and author of the bestselling “Growing Up Absurd,” had enormous effect on both pop culture and academic student life. He wore his secular Jewishness like his horn-rimmed glasses and his self-proclaimed bisexuality, despite being married and the father of two, like a panther with brains in heat. First-time documentary director Jonathan Lee brings Goodman back to life through a series of provocative TV clips (sparring gleefully with William F. Buckley) and first-person interviews with fans, friends and family. One has to read between the lines to see how Goodman’s aggressive narcissism fueled his public persona because Lee fails to distance himself enough from Goodman to see the complicated human being. Yes, Goodman was out. But he was predatory with almost any attractive, preferably blond young adult male who crossed his path, while his understanding wife mothered his children. Pre-Stonewall Goodman, like David McReynolds, founder of the War Resisters League, had not found a way to integrate homosexuality into an un-compartmentalized holistic life. Neither was supportive of lesbian and gay identity, which

HONESTY IS DISCARDED: In "Ides of March," George Clooney is a liberal hero with a fatal flaw.

grew out of the 1969 rebellion. Lee gives us glimpses of the damage Goodman’s public persona did to his private family life, but he is more interested in the public intellectual who in many ways birthed both the Beat movement and the New Left by teaching young people to challenge everything and, in the words of Pete Townshend’s lyric, “don’t get fooled again.” Kudos to Lee for sticking with this long-gestating project because Goodman I am sure would have been down in Zuccotti Park not just on the prowl but at the human microphone both challenging and supporting OWS. “Connected,” directed by Tiffany Shlain. “Connected” is total digital age, a cinematic post-future shock film that sizzles with how a worldwide community is using new technologies to create human interconnectedness at the fall of capitalism. Shlain is a daughter of another public intellectual, the late surgeon and writer Leonard Shlain. Like father like daughter, Tiffany Shlain explores the human condition and family values as she details the effect her father’s slow death from brain cancer had on her and her sister and brother. At the same time, while pregnant after multiple miscarriages, Shlain imagines a world of connectedness where “we” rather than “I” is the model of how to save the planet and heal the human spirit. The feeling of defiant hope that was palpable at Zuccotti Park during the Occupy Wall Street encampment emanates from the screen in “Connected.” Visually exciting with seamless edits, pulsating with energy and graphic stimulation, “Connected” balances the personal human experience of loss with the bountifulness of life, love and intellectual sharing in a newly wired world community. “Connected” shouts hope just as the human microphone in Zuccotti Park proclaimed that people together can save the planet and detox greed. “Tomboy,” directed by Céline Sciamma. A film for anyone trying to raise a child to be an authentic person despite all the cultural correctness about how a preadolescent kid should behave—similar to the 1997 cult classic “Ma vie en rose” but less fantasy-based. A ten-year-old girl moves with her family to a new town. Because she is a prepubes-

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cent ten, a group of boys thinking she is a boy invites her to play soccer. She is thrilled, and so an innocent charade begins. This tomboy child seems to be, as Lady Gaga would sing, “Born This Way.” New York Times-reviewed author and Tony-nominated Chanteuse Justin Vivian Bond would have me describe the child as “V” rather than he or she. So I will. When V gets unmasked after having a great time being a boy the natural cruelty of children surfaces. Playtime becomes real time and a loving mother must bring her child back into the binary world of acceptable gender behavior. The beauty of the film is that it is stunning to look at frame by frame. The child is played so authentically that any possible “ick” factor never sticks. A thought-provoking film for parents who want their children to be true to their nature, even when “V” falls outside the narrow definition of acceptable gender expression. “Ides of March,” directed by George Clooney; “The Conquest,” directed by Xavier Durringer; “Margin Call,” directed by J.C. Chandor. Three very different films that address how the lust for power corrupts anyone in its path. In “Ides,” Clooney plays a liberal hero with a fatal flaw. Honesty is discarded like a worn-out favorite shirt when it comes to owning up in public to mistakes made in private life. When I got up to leave the theater at Union Square, I immediately had to sit down again as I thought I was going to throw up; I was that affected by the storytelling in this perfectly cast film. Watching made me relive that soul-crushing moment when the tabloids went wild over John Edwards as they had over Jesse Jackson and Bill Clinton for being caught lying about sexual peccadilloes. What “Ides” shares with the excellent “The Conquest,” a French film based on the successful grab for power by right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy, whose second wife left him for another man during his race for President, is these men’s desperate moves to keep their secrets from the public. This film’s French wife unlike American television’s “The Good Wife” is disgusted by the way her husband’s lust for power has made her life hell. Finally I turn to “Margin Call,” my choice for best American movie of the year. First-time director and writer J.C. Chandor deserves the Oscar for vividly showing the disdain a one percenter head of a house of finance (think Merrill Lynch), played with elegant immorality by Jeremy Irons, displays as he ruthlessly moves to protect his wealth and lifestyle. As easily as he flicks a loose piece of duck skin off a fork, Irons’s John Tuld wreaks havoc on the integrity of a long-time employee, played by the master of human nuance, Kevin Spacey, as Wall Street is about to get hit by a tsunami of loss. Tuld models to two young traders how to put their own selfish needs above fairness and integrity. That’s called winning the game. Chandor wrote such a fine script that he was able to attract Irons, Spacey and other A-list actors including Paul Bettany, Stanley Tucci, Demi Moore and Simon Baker. Directed with an uncompromising subtlety and little advocacy, “Margin Call” is a stunning and devastating visual portrait of how greed triumphs over friendship and business relationships. It exposes what went wrong on Wall Street and why protesters chose to occupy Zuccotti Park.

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December 2011 WestView News 27

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West Village Original: William Repicci By Michael D. Minichiello

This month’s West Village Original is William Repicci. In his peripatetic career, Bill has taught school in northern Kenya, run programs for the developmentally disabled in Alaska, produced more than 25 plays in New York City (“Swingtime Canteen,” “Jodie’s Body,” “Squonk”), been CEO of a drama and musical publishing company, and recently returned from working in Africa and Southeast Asia on a two-year humanitarian project. He is currently the executive director of Pasos Peace Museum, a New York City nonprofit dedicated to building peace through the arts and education. Growing up in a small town in western New York, Bill Repicci not only had dreams of seeing the world, but the kind of support from his parents that empowered him to make his own way and follow those dreams. “My mother would always say, ‘Never be afraid to do the things you need to do to be happy,’” he recalls. “And my father, no matter what I told him I was going to do, would always give me his blessing.” This blessing was just what he needed when—as he was graduating with a degree in philosophy from Le Moyne College in the 70s—a unique opportunity arose. “I ended up teaching English and history at a secondary school in Mandera, Kenya,” he says. “It was on the Somali-Ethiopian border, and the Kenyans had found it impossible to engage locals to teach there due to the constant tribal warfare. It was a wonderful and challenging adventure for me, though. After two years, I returned to the States and was introduced to an organization that was working with people who were developmentally disabled. This was an exciting era of change in that field, and it led me to pursue graduate work in Scandinavia and to become a psychologist. For the next fifteen years this would be the focus of

RECENTLY RETURNED: Bill Repicci in Kenya’s Northern Frontier where he delivered vaccines to bush communities in 2006.

my life, including nine years as executive director of the Fairbanks Resource Agency in Alaska.” So how did Repicci segue from running an organization for the developmentally disabled in Alaska to producing theatre in New York? “While I was living in Alaska,” he recalls, “I also had a sublet in New York. One year I saw a riveting play here called ‘Creeps,’ written by a man with cerebral palsy. It was about the frustration of individuals with that disorder trying to live on equal terms in society. I brought the cast up to Alaska and produced the play throughout the state to inspire a change in attitudes and program models.” The success of that endeavor turned into a U.S. tour, after which Repicci made a decision. In 1987 he came back to New York for good, bought an apartment on Horatio Street and immersed himself in theatre. “As it

Budhu Lounge: Day and Night By Richard Parker A bar grows up in the Village. Remember the birth of Rubyfruit Bar and Grill at 531 Hudson Street in 1994? I don’t. It predates my days in the West Village, but perhaps someone out there recalls the heyday of this lesbian institution. It closed in 2008 and reopened under new ownership in September 2009 rechristened the RF Lounge. As of November 11, 2011, the venue has been reborn again under the same owner as Budhu Lounge. Under the guidance of Annetta Budhu, who lives in the neighborhood, the bar has decided to settle into being a cozy local hangout. Well, not quite. The Budhu Lounge is cultivating a double identity—like the best of Gotham characters—acting as a neighborhood watering hole during the week and transforming into a brimming nightlife destination as the sun dips below the horizon on Friday evening. The medium responsible for unifying these two seemingly disparate identities is the energy of Annetta Budhu and her new executive chef, Yoanne Magris. Both women are active personalities in the LGBT community, and they have chosen to tackle the happy yet grueling task of sustaining the tradition of a local institution and creating a comfortable and elegant gathering place in the neighbor-

hood. The new Budhu Lounge will continue to serve as a prominent bar for the lesbian community, but it also hopes to draw in the locals at large to create a clientele and environment that mirrors the diversity of the neighborhood. So what’s the enticement? Talk to Chef Yoanne Magris, affectionately called Chef Yo. She will tell you all about her newest discoveries at the markets and how excited she is to marry these fresh ingredients with her memories of the Mediterranean and with classic French techniques. Chef Yo grew up in Lebanon and France and spent a childhood in the kitchen steeped in the cooking of her Greek grandmother Eftalia. This is a pretty good combination of flavors so far. Now pair it with training in classical French technique, and you get a neatly executed cuisine that cannot be pigeonholed or described as anything but her own. Budhu Lounge bills itself as a tapas bar with French and Mediterranean small plates, but the ingredients and stories that make up each dish are much more far-ranging. The chef goes marketing every day, visiting Asian markets for the freshest seafood and veggies, and Italian importers for specialty vinegars like the raspberry champagne vinegar used to dress the tender yet spicy arugula. The emphasis is on super fresh ingredients and a dynamic balance between sweet, tart and savory flavors.

happens, one night I was introduced to John Glines, who had produced ‘Torch Song Trilogy,’” he says. “We became great friends and began producing together.” At that time, Sheridan Square was the epicenter of his world. “Here I found a sense of freedom I had never experienced before,” he says. Much of his personal and professional exploits over the next several years would occur right around that area. He would go on to produce numerous plays at the Grove Street and Actors playhouses. He would record an album with Marie Blake, who played piano for many years at The Five Oaks on Grove Street. And he would produce a documentary called “The Ladies of Grove Street,” which featured Marie, as well as Gladys Easter and Arthur’s Tavern pianist Mable Godwin. “For me, the day started at Pennyfeathers for breakfast, and it meant a BLT at the Riviera for lunch,” he says. “It meant being at one of my shows at night and then going to The Five Oaks, or the Monster, or the Duplex with friends afterwards, capped off by a four a.m. snack at Tiffany’s. It was a wonderful, contained world that I rarely had to leave.” When asked how the West Village has changed over the years, Repicci offers a unique insight. “What makes that an elusive question to answer is that one has to factor in how they have changed as well,” he says. “It’s easy to see the changes, but, actually, I think I began to change even before the Village did. So many of the places I used to frequent are gone now. The theaters I used to produce in have disappeared. But in reality I had stopped going to those places, and I had stopped producing in the Village in favor of Broadway or Off-Broadway theaters uptown. So as I got older I left a lot of that romantic past behind even before it disappeared on its own. The bittersweet melancholy that I might feel comes not only from looking back fondly on an era that has passed, but one that I’ve moved on from as well.”

The most drool-worthy morsel in memory is the foie gras terrine marinated in sauterne, a musky white dessert wine. I had a pact to never write about foie gras; after all, it’s a closed case in the canon of fine dining, divine and utterly boring. I don’t need to tell you that the goose liver was firm yet creamy and that the 24-hour bath in the wine gave it a soft sweetness. However, I do need to tell you that this foie gras is made in-house, from fresh goose livers sourced from local farms. The dedication to technique and ingredients shows through in a single, meltingly sweet and savory bite. Chef Yo is known for establishing relationships with her suppliers as well as her customers. She glows when asked whether she knows most of her customers by name at her own restaurant Yo In Yo Out, in East Harlem. “Of course,” she says with a mixture of pride and modesty. For someone who is trying to create a delicious and cozy corner in the neighborhood, we could do worse. Walk in, take a seat, and perhaps you’ll catch her taking a turn in the dining room. If so, chat a bit and see if you can pry that secret foie gras recipe from her. If you do, let me know.

Budhu Lounge 531 Hudson Street (corner of Charles) 917-262-0836, budhulounge.com Sun, Tue, Wed: 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thur, Fri, Sat: 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. GirNATIONnyc, Sat from 10 p.m. (Second thru last Saturday of the month)


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28 WestView News December 2011

SnackBar: Fancy Leg Work By DuanDuan I know it’s that time of year when I hear people worrying about where their next 20-pound turkey is coming from. I have nothing against the bird. In fact, I’m all for not eating them. I’ve had everything from tofurkey (soy/gluten imitation), to turducken (chicken stuffed in a duck stuffed in a turkey), to the real hormone-pumped McCoy, and all these turkey related experiences were amusingly bad: a tragicomedy in three courses. Some kids make wish lists for toys; others make claims on parts of the bird that are least bland and dry. That’s the advantage of being a kid: you can be choosy and picky with impunity. I know one six-year-old who’d always call dibs on the neck, something nice and ghoulishly gnawable. Myself, I’ve always been a drumstick kid. I would happily exchange a whole bird for one or two juicy drumsticks. Even better, instead of gargantuan turkey legs, make them a pair of elegant duck legs. I concede that a whole turkey does make an impressive entrance, and the image is made all the more iconic by Norman Rockwell’s painting “Freedom From Want.” I have no brilliant insight into how to capture that idyll of plenty and good cheer at any given family gathering, but I do have some tips on how to make a tastier and less stressful meal. A duck leg confit looks fancy, tastes fancy and takes practically no effort to make. This

LOOKS FANCY, TASTES FANCY: A duck leg confit takes practically no effort to make. Photo by DuanDuan.

is especially true if you don’t plan to render your own duck fat, since you can grab a tub of rendered duck fat at Ottomanelli & Sons (285 Bleecker Street) or Murray’s Cheese (254 Bleecker Street). You can also pick up the duck legs at Ottomanelli while you’re at it. (Call ahead just in case). Rub the duck legs with salt and minced garlic and leave them in the fridge for 24 hours. Meanwhile, read the paper, go to work, have supper, go to bed, etc…. Now, take a minute to pop the legs and duck fat into a 170°F oven. Go about your business, and, six hours later, you’ll have a pair of perfectly succulent and full flavored confit de canard. The confit method was originally invented to preserve food for winter, so, at this stage, you can keep the duck legs together with the fat in the fridge for days without worry. To be able to make a dish in advance is a great when you’re having company. When you’re ready to serve, place the legs skin side down on a pan, listen for

the gentle sizzle, and sear to desired golden crispness. Add a dab of Dijon mustard on the side, or try pairing the duck with a dollop of shallot and sour cherry marmalade. (Sauté grated shallot and garlic in butter, add a splash of rice vinegar and a smear of mustard, and stir in finely chopped dried sour cherries, cherry preserve or lingon-

Confit de Canard (duck leg confit) Yield: 2 servings Total Time: 2 days Active Time: about 30 minutes Ingredients 2 duck legs 3 cloves garlic, minced 4 teaspoons kosher salt, or about 2 teaspoons coarse salt per pound of duck 2 cups rendered duck fat, or enough to cover duck legs Directions: 1. Trim excess fat from duck legs. You can render your own duck fat from these trimmings over extra low heat; otherwise discard. 2. Rub minced garlic on duck legs. Sprinkle and rub salt on duck legs. Use more salt on thicker sections of meat and less on thinner sections. 3. Place duck legs skin side down in a container. Seal and leave in fridge for 24 hours. Check occasionally for liquid on the

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Good Eating By David Porat Mas (la grillade) is a very old idea, ambitious and brand new in the West Village. It is the younger sibling of the successful Mas restaurant on Downing Street. Mas, a French word for farm house, is about eight years old and a chef-driven restaurant started by Galen Zamarra. It is small, a bit quirky, intimate and the perfect place for a very special dinner for people interested in food! I have eaten there many times, and it warms the hearts of people I know in the food business. It was exciting and interesting to think about what Zamarra’s new endeavor would involve. Knowing that it might be a bit more casual and is about food that is grilled, I ate there in later October and was both surprised and impressed. To start, it is in a building that Zamarra and his organization bought on the quieter west side of Seventh Avenue South, between Bedford and Leroy Streets. Arriving after dark with two friends, I was pleased to see a windowed façade that was inviting. Upon entering, we found ourselves in a warm interior with more open space than Mas and a mezzanine level that has an airiness about it. I smelled the gentle

scent of smoke and fire, but there was none to be seen. We were just about the first to arrive on a weekend night, a bit late for a 6:30 reservation, and were seated at a comfortable table at the front. The restaurant did quickly fill up and took on a liveliness that maybe is a euphemism for getting a bit loud—happens just about everywhere. Service was caring and careful, although not quite up to the level that the original Mas has established—likely just a matter time. “A seasonal menu of locally grown and sustainably raised foods cooked solely over wood fires of oak, apple and other hardwoods,” the menu says on the front page. An involved construction job, the restaurant houses three large grills in the basement and an exhaust chimney that goes up five floors. Just about all the food touches these grills, whether up close and seared or gently grilled. The menu is basically à la carte, different from Mas, and is broken up into small plates ($4 to $7), appetizers ($9 to $18), mains ($24 and up) and sides ($6 to $8). It is a complete menu not lacking in interesting offerings. There is a six-course chef menu for two or more available for $95 and a selection of desserts and cheeses.

My two dinner companions and I are very food-minded people, and we ordered a good bit that we shared; the service generally made it very easy to create our own tasting menu. From the small plates we ordered Rocombole garlic roasted with olive oil. This is varietal garlic that is known for it thinner skin, extra pulp and distinct flavor. At Mas (la grillade) it was easily spreadable and not overly strong, with a meaty flavor that married well with the wood grilling. From the appetizers, we had gently roasted oysters that retained a fresh and raw quality. A salad that included artichokes hearts and grilled chanterelles dressed with a hazelnut mayonnaise had lots of nuance yet “firepower” in the grilled bits. Grilled squid was simply stuffed with fresh bay leaves and had a delicate clean quality to it. Main courses included halibut that was cooked slightly too long for my liking but was fresh and mildly flavored with a parsley and walnut gremolata. Sweetbreads very simply grilled were delicate and smoky with a maple and parsley glaze, and a grass-fed Delmonico strip steak lived up to the Delmonico reputation. Sides included Hen of the Woods mushrooms, and baby fennel with pears, all taking to the grill differently. The mush-

berry preserve). This may sound like a mad scientist’s concoction, but create your own condiment to take this dish to another level. The idea is to have something sweet and tart to temper the savory richness of the duck.

If you have questions or comments, contact DuanDuan at Snackbar.Kitchen@gmail.com. bottom. Drain if necessary. 4. Rinse duck legs thoroughly under running water. Pat dry. 5. Preheat oven to 170°F. Choose an ovensafe pan just big enough to fit the legs in 1 layer. Add duck legs. Add the rendered duck fat to just cover the legs. (If the fat is solid, gently melt over low heat first.) Cover or seal pan with foil and leave in oven for 6 hours. Meat should be tender, but not falling off the bone. 6.  If serving immediately, gently lift legs out of the fat, place skin side down on a pan over medium heat and sear to desired crispness, about 9 minutes. Flip to sear the other side for about 2 minutes. Serve with Dijon mustard or a sweet and tart marmalade or chutney. 7. If preparing to serve days (or months) later, place legs in container and strain fat over legs till submerged. Seal and keep in fridge. When ready to serve, remove from fridge at least an hour beforehand and allow legs to reach room temperature and fat to soften. Or take a shortcut and reheat in oven at lowest heat setting. Gently lift legs out of fat and sear as in Step 6.

rooms with a bit of balsamic added were quite flavor filled. Both desserts we ordered touched the grill: figs with some chocolate accessories, and a grilled pear tart with huckleberry compote. The latter won a bit more attention, and the huckleberries were a very pleasant accent to the pears, similar in look and taste to blueberries but slightly different and maybe a bit less sweet. Grilling, which has become popular thanks to Bobby Flay along with many other well known food folks, is elevated to a cleaner, more delicate and more ingredientspecific art thanks to Galen Zamarra. I was surprised both by the “fine dining” feel of Mas (la grillade) and by the versatility and gentle nuance of apple wood grilling applied to great ingredients. As a food person, I know that sometime the simplest things are hardest to do well, yet our new Mas achieves them with grace.

Mas (la grillade) 28 Seventh Avenue South 212-255-1795 www.MasLaGrillade.com David A. Porat is the owner of Chelsea Market Baskets, an importer and purveyor of specialty foods and gifts. Visit ChelseaMarketBaskets.com/blog.


December 2011 WestView News 29

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Florent Morellet: Maps of our Future Pasts By Barry Benepe Many WestView readers fondly remember Restaurant Florent, which once graced Gansevoort Street 24/7. Those who do, including myself—some 16 members of my family reunited there every Christmas—may remember the walls. They were covered in an extraordinary assemblage of maps of places throughout the world. These maps have formed the genesis of Florent Morellet’s first solo exhibit, “Come Hell or High Water,” at the Christopher Henry Gallery at 127 Elizabeth Street. The maps in this show become the visual portals into past and future histories, showing how our civilizations and their cities, both known and imagined, might have developed (or may develop) under different climatic and social conditions. Introducing the element of time produces a continuum similar to a musical composition: Paris in six movements, for example, or a theme and variations. The theme evolves over thousands of years under alternative scenarios, all placed in historical context in texts on the wall adjacent to the maps. The six movements in the Paris series are entitled Sirocco, Forbidden City, Tropical, Rust Belt, Equatorial and The Wall. Equa-

VISUAL PORTALS INTO PAST AND FUTURE HISTORIES: "The Wall, Equatorial," one of Florent Morellet’s six movements in his Paris series. Courtesy of the Christopher Henry Gallery.

torial, shown here, is described as being “built quickly, carved out of a rain forest in the XXc. in the grand manner with original planned settlements reaching a population of 3.5 million, 60% White and 30% Am-

erindian, with wide tree shaded avenues along a grand memorial axis. The rain forest surrounds it to this day.” Which day, may we ask? Morellet’s maps reflect the specific

spatial palimpsests of organized societies, much as do the maps contained in Camillo Sitte’s 1889 “City Planning According to Artistic Principles,” in which Sitte carefully maps the plazas and irregular streets that defined medieval towns. Florent seizes on the map as both an interpretation of civilization and a record of its evolution. In another of Morellet’s series, based on New York City but entitled Constantinople, we see the city’s evolution through rising sea levels. This piece contains five movements. The last, Lost World, “occurring in the XXXXc?,” is the most severe, depicting a sea-level rise of more than 50 feet. The map used as the exhibition poster, it is entitled simply The End. The side panel explains, “There are many theories and speculations as to how and when the civilization ended.” It leaves the viewer wondering what member of what civilization wrote this final comment and when it was or will be written.

Florent Morellet, “Come Hell or High Water” Through December 11, 2011 Christopher Henry Gallery 127 Elizabeth Street Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 212-244-6004

Budhu Lounge is the new West Village hot spot for small plates and carefully selected wines from around the world. Brought to you by celebrity Chef Yoanne Magris 531 Hudson Street (corner of Charles) 917-262-0836 budhulounge.com facebook.com/budhulounge

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VOLUME 7, NUMBER 12 West View News December 2011