Interactive installation coming to Madison Sq. Park

A rough rendering of the installation to come, which is being designed with artist participation in mind

A rough rendering of the installation to come, which is being designed with artist participation in mind

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Madison Square Park is getting a new interactive space with the installation of the park conservancy’s next outdoor exhibition this coming spring. Artist Josiah McElheny designed the “Prismatic Park,” which is composed of painted wood and prismatic glass, and is designed with the idea of being an outdoor studio space for musicians, dancers and poets.

A blue curvilinear sound wall offers acoustics for experimental music, a circular and reflective green floor will beckon dancers while and a red roofed pavilion will be built for the use of poets.

Nonprofit art organizations Blank Forms, Danspace Project and Poets House are collaborating with the Madison Square Park Conservancy to help resident artists create new work within the public spaces. McElheny designed the piece specifically so that it would be interacted with and not just looked at, and he said that he hopes it will be used not only for performances but also as a rehearsal or impromptu workshop space.

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Landlord lawsuit over rent freeze delayed

Tenants hold a rally protesting the lawsuit in September. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Tenants hold a rally protesting the lawsuit in September. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Back in September, a tenant and civic group-led coalition sought to intervene in a lawsuit that was aimed at blocking the Rent Guidelines Board’s decision in June to issue a rent freeze. The lawsuit had been filed by the Rent Stabilization Association, a group representing 25,000 New York City landlords who own rent regulated properties.

Two months later, while a decision still had not yet been made, the tenant group planned — but then abruptly canceled — a protest on the matter. This was after Supreme Court Justice Debra James, in mid-November, adjourned the case to January 31, 2017.

Harvey Epstein, attorney with the Urban Justice Center, which was one of the groups trying to intervene in the lawsuit, said the judge adjourned after a landlord group also attempted to intervene. This group, he said, is SPONY (Small Property Owners on New York Inc.) But while this means having to wait longer for a decision, Epstein said the delay isn’t a bad thing for tenants.

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Strand to host Harry Potter-themed speed dating

Guests in costume at a July Harry Potter book launch event at the Strand (Photos courtesy of the Strand)

Guests in costume at a July Harry Potter book launch event at the Strand (Photos courtesy of the Strand)

By Sabina Mollot

Harry Potter fans looking to meet that special someone will have the opportunity to do so on Monday, December 12, when Union Square bookstore the Strand will have a Yule ball/Harry Potter-themed speed dating session.

The event was the idea of the store’s communications director Whitney Hu, a Harry Potter fan and a fan of “Puffs,” a satire show inspired by the book and film franchise that originated at the People’s Improv Theater but has since hit Off-Broadway.

Hu said she believes the Harry Potter angle, and the fact that guests are encouraged to come in costume, will help take the edge off what’s normally a very serious event; and she’d know. The Strand has already hosted several speed dating events that while popular (the last one sold out) are still nerve-racking for many attendees.

For this reason, Hu approached the people behind “Puffs” to help facilitate the event. Two cast members will be in character while facilitating a mingling session. While having a session for mingling might seem over-organized, Hu explained this as well. “We’ve had open mingling before. No one mingles.”

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Soapbox: Speak up to end the use of chokeholds

By Michelle Deal Winfield

“I can’t breathe,” was uttered by Eric Garner in 2014, as he took his last breath after Officer Daniel Pantaleo applied a chokehold to his neck, a procedure banned by the New York Police Department, NYPD. The procedure is banned but some police officers have continued to use it. Alissa Scheller, in The Huffington Post in 2014, wrote, “Chokehold complaints are predominantly in black neighborhoods.”

In 1993, the NYPD ban prohibited police officers from applying any pressure to the neck during arrest. So what is all the fuss about if the tactic is banned? Despite the ban, officers continue to use the practice and there is no New York City law to address it. The chokehold is not illegal.

The Progressive Caucus, 28 members of the New York City Council, proposed Intro. 540-A, which defines the chokehold as an illegal act punishable by imprisonment and a $2,000 fine.

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Letters to the Editor, Dec. 8

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

The invisible thing destroying our health

The problem of evil: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? It’s a question we often ask. Thankfully, the Bible isn’t quiet on the subject.

I heard in the news that in 2018, the city was going to put in an order that if you lived in city housing that smoking was going to be banned. Why don’t our elected officials and the professional doctors tell the truth? Two days after a cold extreme winter snow day, on top of the ice that was formed we find black soot all over the ice and snow, an issue no one is bringing up. Very fine particles, so small that any of them can form a large black dot. And so many of them we are breathing. Can they form cancer? With our weather, this is the only time that you can see them.

They’re on the buildings, streets, windows, cars, clothing and people. We take it in with us daily, to our homes and families. No amount of washing can save us. It’s in our eyes, ears, hair, lungs and we know we’re breathing it up, daily, every moment. Because we can’t smell it doesn’t mean that we’re not harmed by it. Impurities, organisms, infections accumulated in our body system generates extreme suffering later in life, and the second-hand smokers as they say. The smokers have their problems but to say that second-hand smoke is the source of our cancers and other people’s (non-smokers’) health problems is a lie.

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Police Watch: Woman arrested for mugging senior, Man wanted for Herald Square groping

WOMAN ARRESTED FOR MUGGING ELDERLY WOMAN
Police arrested 49-year-old Lillian Maduro on Monday for an attempted robbery that took place on Tuesday, September 27 at noon near Fifth Avenue and West 12th Street. Police said that Maduro approached a 90-year-old woman and tried to snatch her duffle bag from the front of her utility cart. When the victim tried to prevent Maduro from taking the bag, the suspect allegedly knocked her to the ground and continued to pull at the bag. Police said that the victim managed to fight Maduro off and retained possession of her bag while Maduro allegedly fled east on East 12th Street. The victim was treated at Mount Sinai Beth Israel for cuts to her right arm and middle finger.

Groping suspect

Groping suspect

MAN WANTED FOR GROPING IN HERALD SQUARE
Police are looking for a man in connection with a groping incident near Herald Square in October. A 31-year-old woman reported that an unidentified man grabbed her buttocks while on the downtown BDFM platform on Tuesday, October 4 around 11 a.m. The man fled the station to the street. The victim described him as 25-35 years old, 5’10”, 180 lbs. with a slim build and black hair. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Bank robbery suspect

Bank robbery suspect

WOMAN WANTED FOR PARK AVE. BANK ROBBERY
Police are looking for a woman who committed a bank robbery in the Midtown South Precinct earlier this month. The suspect strolled into the Chase Bank at 2 Park Avenue between 32nd and 33rd Streets last Saturday around 3 p.m., approached a bank teller and passed a note demanding money. The teller complied and the suspect fled the bank with an undetermined amount of cash. The suspect has a light complexion, in her late 30s, 5’4” and 150 lbs. and was last seen wearing a black pea coat, black pants, white sneakers, black sunglasses and a black and white Yankee baseball cap. Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or for Spanish 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Creep steals bag from 80-year-old woman in Stuy Town

ST buildings

Stuyvesant Town

By Sabina Mollot

Police are on the lookout for a man who snatched a bag from an 80-year-old woman in Stuyvesant Town on Monday.

At around 12:30 p.m., the woman was approached by the man on the sidewalk in front of 278 First Avenue. He asked her which way Fifth Avenue was and when she pointed in that direction, he grabbed her purse, which had been in a basket in her walker, and fled towards East 18th Street.

The thief got away with $400 in cash and various credit cards. The woman was unharmed.

The suspect is described as being white and six feet tall.

On Tuesday, police from the 13th Precinct stopped by the Stuyvesant Town Community Center to drop off some fliers listing safety tips like not hanging bags in walkers.

Paula Chirhart, a spokesperson for StuyTown property Services, said management has surveillance footage of the incident and has beefed up security in the area.

Opinion: Let Trump be Trump?

By former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Usually by the end of November there is nothing more to comment upon following the election of a new president. The winner is going about the process of transitioning from campaigning to governing by selecting a cabinet and key advisors. The loser is out of the spotlight. But then again, there was nothing usual about this past campaign or election. So as the calendar changes to December, the drama swirling around President-elect Donald Trump seems to just go on and on. If we thought this soap opera of a year would settle into something more resembling a dependable documentary, well not so fast. In the 1980s the rallying cry of his supporters was “Let Reagan be Reagan.” Is this what we want from a Donald Trump presidency?

The candidate Trump who specialized in tweeting out information of dubious fact or reliability is still at it. During the campaign he said things like: most white people who were murdered were killed by blacks. This claim was patently false but never retracted. Trump continued to propagate the myth that President Obama was not a bona fide American until the final weeks of the campaign and then stunningly said his opponent, Hillary Clinton, actually started the whole fib back in 2008. Another whopper was his suggestion that his chief rival for the Republican nomination, Ted Cruz, had family ties connected to the assassination of President Kennedy. What?!

Among other curious statements, now Mr. Trump is asserting that he won the election in a “landslide” and even denies the fact that he actually lost the popular vote by over two million according to the latest tabulations. His reasoning is that millions of fraudulent votes were cast for his opponent. Of course in keeping with his campaign style, no evidence is provided to support such an allegation. He then lashes out at reporters, as he did throughout the campaign, who have the temerity to contradict his unsupported claims.

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Naked men removed from Gramercy storefront

men-cart-statue

Workers remove a statue from 281 Park Avenue South. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last summer, the installation of nine anatomically correct male statues into a storefront in Gramercy raised a few eyebrows, with neighborhood residents wondering if it was an art exhibit or a marketing gimmick. It didn’t help anyone’s confusion that there was a neon sign in the window indicating the space was for rent.

As it turns out, the answer is it was a bit of both. On Monday afternoon, workers emerged from the storefront at 281 Park Avenue South and 22nd Street, moving out the larger-than-life-size sculptures. Asked where they were going, a worker at the scene said the naked men were headed to storage, since the ground floor space had been leased to a restaurant. However, Dan Turkewitz, one of the brokers marketing the space, later said nothing was finalized, so he wasn’t sure why the statues were being evicted. “We’re talking to a lot of different people,” he said.

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‘Jew man’ graffiti seen across from Stuy Town

Council Member Dan Garodnick, who took this photo, said this is the first time he's seen anti-Semitic graffiti in the community.

Council Member Dan Garodnick, who took this photo, said this is the first time he’s seen anti-Semitic graffiti in the community.

By Sabina Mollot

As local elected officials have pointed out, bias crimes are on the rise since the election nationwide.

The community has been seeing its fair share too. Yesterday, Council Member Dan Garodnick snapped a photo of anti-semitic graffiti across from Stuyvesant Town.

“Hate crimes spiking since the election,” Garodnick tweeted on Monday. “This graffiti now appears across from StuyTown & local synagogue (Town and Village). We can’t let this become the new normal.”

Garodnick later said he had never before seen anti-Semitic graffiti in the community. He also said this was the only recent incident he was aware of.

The graffiti, above the Papaya hot dog storefront on First Avenue and 14th Street, depicts the spray painted words “Jew man” accompanied by crude drawings of smiley faces with side locks, which are worn by religious Jewish men. It was spray painted large enough to be easily seen from across the street.

The incident comes three weeks after State Senator Brad Hoylman saw two swastikas scratched into the door of the building where he lives in Greenwich Village.

Additionally, a Muslim Baruch College student was harassed on the train at 23rd Street last weekend by men who were trying to grab her hijab and yelling “Donald Trump” and anti-Muslim slurs, according to a Daily News report.

UPDATE: According to a Stuy Town resident, the graffiti didn’t happen post-election. The tipster told T&V she first spotted the spray-painted sentiment in the middle of October.

City holds off on plan to diversify street fairs after community groups fight local vendor rule

Community organizations who rely on revenue from street fairs had opposed the proposal to make it mandatory to have 50 percent of the vendors be local. (Photo via Wikipedia)

Community organizations who rely on revenue from street fairs had opposed the proposal to make it mandatory to have 50 percent of the vendors be local. (Photo via Wikipedia)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

To the relief of a number of community organizations, the Mayor’s Office decided not to approve proposed new rules for street fairs for the upcoming year that would have required increased participation from local businesses. The proposal was aimed at sprinkling some local flavor into street fairs, which, despite where in the city they’re taking place, are often practically identical. The Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO) of the Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management (OCECM) announced on October 28 that it would be extending the existing moratorium on street fair applications through 2017. A public hearing on the proposed rule will be held this Friday.

The city had previously proposed new rules that, among other requirements, would require 50 percent of vendors participating in street fairs to be from within the community district boundaries of where the fairs were taking place. Another proposed rule would have decreased the number of fairs allowed in each community district per year from 18 to 10.

Community organizers were worried that the new regulation requiring increased participation from local vendors would affect their revenue because not enough local businesses would want to take part.

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City Council speaker and Garodnick say feds should foot the bill for Trump’s protection

Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue

Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue (Photo via Change.org petition) 

By Sabina Mollot

With the cost to protect President-elect Donald Trump and his family in New York City reported to be $1 million a day, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Dan Garodnick are calling on Trump to get the federal government to reimburse the city.

Garodnick, whose Council district includes Trump Tower, where the president-elect lives and works, and Mark-Viverito have also launched a change.org petition, which already has about 1,500 signatures.

As the petition notes: “At an estimated $1 million per day, protecting you, your family and your home at Trump Tower will total over one billion dollars during your four-year term. This represents an extraordinary financial burden for New York City taxpayers.”

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Hoylman warns Vision Zero could face some opposition from Albany

By Sabina Mollot

Vision Zero, the mayor’s traffic safety initiative, was the subject of a discussion between the mayor and local seniors at the Stein Center on Monday.

The mayor made a last minute appearance at the center, alongside State Senator Brad Hoylman.

Hoylman is also trying to push the agenda in Albany, where many of the city’s traffic regulations are ultimately decided.

However, prior to the discussion (which was closed to press) Hoylman noted there is the chance the mayor could face some political pushback in Albany on traffic safety from Senate Republicans. This would be keeping in tradition with some political payback for the mayor’s effort in 2014 to flip the Republican-controlled Senate.

“We shouldn’t have to go to Albany every time we want to change the speed limits,” said Hoylman. Meanwhile, he added, “More people are killed by (traffic accidents) than a gun.”

The senator said he is trying to get more speed cameras and lower speed limits in more areas, in particular in front of more schools. Another goal is to get large trucks to install side guards to protect pedestrians.

Divine signs of the times

Church uses humor to connect with community

collage-color-new

Gustavus Adolphus Pastor Christopher Mietlowski started the sign campaign seven years ago and has since seen an increase in church membership. (Photo collage by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

It’s not unusual for signs in front of churches to have uplifting messages. Often they’re lifted from biblical passages. Other times they’re behavioral suggestions, and if there’s room, there’ll be a bingo schedule included, too.

But in Gramercy, one church has managed to stand out from the parish pack for the messages on its signs, which have become so popular, they’ve actually boosted membership.

That church would be Gustavus Adolphus, a 150-year-old Lutheran church where a recent sign suggested: “Come, search for Pokemon — stay, find God’s grace.”

Another, inspired by pop song “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor, read: “We’re all about dat grace, bout dat grace, no Devil!”

And another reminded passersby: “That love thy neighbor thing — I meant that — God.”

Last winter, during particularly frigid temperatures, a sign pointed out, “On the bright side, we haven’t seen a mosquito in months.”

The signs, which get changed around twice a month, are the brainchild of the church’s pastor, Christopher Mietlowski, better known to his flock as Pastor Chris.

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Letters to the Editor, Dec. 1

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Why I’m grateful this holiday season

I thought it would be appropriate, given the time of year, to express some gratitude and optimism during these discordant times. The Stuy Town/Peter Cooper community has been through a lot and now our country, too, is facing some tough times.

As I take inventory of areas for thanks, I choose to look locally and at our great and diverse community.  We have to be ever mindful that our ST/PCV community is actually a small and complex city, with unforeseen challenges.

I am grateful that we have finally achieved some real stability in Blackstone as our still-newish owner and for their important choice to have key staff living among us, sharing our quality of life.  I am grateful for management’s clear voice and steady hand thus far. Grateful for their choice to keep long-serving staff like Bill M. and Fred K., who keep us safe and to Kathleen K. and Tom F. who keep us warm and our homes and buildings functional. For Rick H. and the new members of his team who are making real efforts to care for our community.

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