Cyclists, ‘busway’ concern L train neighbors

Commissioner of Transportation Polly Trottenberg (center) (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

L train riders at a recent town hall on the upcoming shutdown are saying they’re concerned about an increase in bike traffic as a result of the mitigation and the plan to make 14th Street primarily a thoroughfare for buses, as well as accessibility for seniors and disabled residents. The meeting’s venue, The New School’s West 12th Street auditorium, was packed with more than a hundred community residents with concerns about the plans on Wednesday, May 9.

The first question came from an attendee who didn’t mince words.

“How are you going to train cyclists so they don’t kill us?” asked David Hertzberg, a West 16th Street resident. Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg admitted that the increase in cyclists would be a difficult responsibility.

“Cycling will be a hot topic,” she said. “We’ll be working with the NYPD on enforcement and we know we’re going to have a big safety challenge.”

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L train station musician talks benefits of busking as a career

Singer and songwriter Robert Leslie in a promo photo on the subway (Photo by TheDustyRebel)

Singer and songwriter Robert Leslie in a promo photo on the subway (Photo by TheDustyRebel)

By Sabina Mollot
At a few subway stops in Manhattan and Brooklyn, U.K.-transplanted musician Robert Leslie is proving that New York City is still the place to go for musicians to follow their dream.

Looking a bit like Donatello’s vision of David with his long hair and hat brimmed with flowers, the slightly built 22-year-old regularly slays, not giants, but the crowd with his original, folksy rock tunes. At least he does briefly before it disperses, commuters dashing off into the L train at First Avenue or Union Square. Leslie also sometimes performs at the busy G line Metropolitan Avenue stop in Brooklyn. It’s just as busy as the Manhattan stops, he pointed out, but there’s not much competition for donations.

“It’s such a popular spot, but people haven’t worked it out yet,” Leslie said. Of course, the L line also has its perks. “The L train gets more delays and that’s good for me.”

Leslie usually works evenings, targeting straphangers going home from work and later after going out. He’ll also decide what to play based on how they’re acting.
“If I’m playing for drunk people, I won’t play a quiet song,” he said. “I’ll play something fast and rowdy. Sometimes, people are coming back from a show and they’re quietly discussing it and I’ll play something more complex.”

On his busking career, which has led to other gigs above ground, including an upcoming concert at Iridium jazz club, Leslie said this week that it began as an experiment.
He knew he wanted to come to New York to pursue music and had already had some experience performing on the streets around Europe.

Robert Leslie (Photo by Emmanuel Rosario)

Robert Leslie (Photo by Emmanuel Rosario)

“People said New York was the center of the world for music right now so I just bought a plane ticket,” said Leslie. “I wasn’t sure what to expect.”
Leslie’s originally from Manhattan, but his Dutch and English parents had moved around with him many times, including to London and Amsterdam.
His trip back to New York took place in February, 2013 and since then, he’s remained stateside. At first he stayed in a hostel, but now lives in Bushwick. It was soon after his arrival that Leslie went from being a street performer to underground one. This wasn’t a difficult decision. It was after all the dead of winter, and besides, when riding the subway, Leslie liked what he saw.
“I was very impressed with the quality of the subway buskers in New York compared to other places,” he said. “They’re quite solid.” And, he added, “There were hundreds of subway buskers.”

Soon, Leslie was able to find his groove, staking out spots to play. According to his online bio, it was actually the other musicians who gave him helpful tips on where to go and “showed me the ropes.”
And when he told his parents what he was doing for a living, they were supportive.
“They don’t support me financially, out of principle,” he said, “but they like that I’m playing music, getting experience.”

And fortunately, it didn’t take too long before Leslie started to get noticed. His performances were seen by someone last summer who was inspired to organize a rooftop concert featuring only subway buskers. That, along with the press that accompanied it, led to even more gigs. He now plays every Thursday at Karma, a hookah lounge on First Avenue and First Street, from 8-10 p.m. Leslie’s also currently working on a CD he’s recording himself of original music. Naturally, some of it’s inspired by his night job. “One song, ‘Old Brownstone,’ has a line about waiting for the G train,” he said.

Though there’s currently something of a crackdown on subway performers, Leslie’s never even been told to move along by police or the MTA.
“You’re allowed to perform on the subway as long as it’s on the platform,” he said. “You’re just not allowed to play on the train or use amplification.”

In fact, he said, there haven’t really been any truly negative experiences except once when a homeless person swiped a $20 bill from his donations. The man had leaned in to leave a dollar so Leslie said he didn’t notice right away that he’d also sneaked out the larger bill.
“Now I know not to leave big bills in the case,” said Leslie, who typically earns anywhere from $20-$40 an hour in tips.

But, he added, he has to keep his sets limited to two to three hours at a time this time of year because of the stifling heat in the stations. So he’ll play, then take a break for 45 minutes, then come back and do another set. In the end, the money earned still winds up being enough for him to get by, and it’s more than the other musicians he’s friends with earn — making music, that is.
“All my friends who are musicians have day jobs, like they’re waiters,” he said. “I feel like I’m building my career by meeting people every day and then they follow me on the internet. A lot of jobs you just kind of do and you don’t enjoy them.”

Leslie’s show at Iridium, 1650 Broadway at 51st Street, is on August 5 from with sets at 7 and 9 p.m. Cover is $15. For more information about Leslie, visit

Police Watch: Burglar hits Immaculate Conception Church, Former Beth Israel doctor sentenced

Compiled by Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police are looking for a burglar who stole $11,000 in cash from the rectory at Immaculate Conception Church. The man entered the church at 414 East 14th Street on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. and then went into a bedroom located on the third floor rectory where he took the money from a nightstand, cops said. He is described as a light skinned man who was wearing a black baseball hat, brown shorts, white sneakers and a red t-shirt. Anyone with information about the burglary is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at (800) 577-TIPS. The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at or texting TIP577 and their tips to 274637(CRIMES).

Lawrence Levitan, 58, was sentenced to six months of jail time and 1,000 hours of community service this past Tuesday. The former Beth Israel Medical Center ob-gyn pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the third degree this past February. At trial, he admitted to stealing $268,000 from the hospital by diverting insurance checks and cheating on his taxes.

Police arrested 24-year-old Dequaan Brown for a robbery inside the restaurant Coffee Shop at 29 Union Square West last Saturday at 2 p.m. A 26-year-old man told police that he was meeting Brown to buy a Galaxy 5 phone from him. He originally spoke to someone named Carlos that he found through Craigslist. They had agreed to meet in Union Square for the transaction but Carlos then called the victim at 1:45 p.m. and told him that he wouldn’t be able to make it but that his partner Dequaan would meet him instead. The victim told Carlos that he would wait for Dequaan in the Coffee Shop near the park. A few minutes later, the victim got a text from Brown asking for the location of the restaurant. When he arrived, he asked the victim if he had the money for the phone and after the victim gave him $400 in cash, Brown allegedly said, “I have a gun in my duffel bag. Don’t chase me.” He then walked out of the restaurant calmly and the victim followed him to the train station. They both ended up on a downtown Q train and the victim then asked the conductor to stop the train. The conductor stopped the train at Canal Street and the train doors opened, giving Brown the opportunity to run again. He allegedly attempted to flee but ran into two officers from the First Precinct. The victim told the police, “That’s the guy,” and Brown was arrested and brought back to the 13th Precinct.

A resident of 19 Stuyvesant Oval reported last Monday at 3:38 p.m. that she has been continually harassed by a neighbor in her building. She told police that she received two text messages from him and she was alarmed by the messages because they made no sense and were sexually explicit. She said that she ran into him on the street at East 18th Street and First Avenue. He started talking to her and made no sense, saying that she was yelling when she wasn’t and he told her, “You’re just another Jew.” The victim was alarmed by the incident and said anything else happens, she said that she wants to file an order of protection.

Police arrested 60-year-old Angel Fuentes for menacing inside 40 Waterside Plaza last Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Police responded to the scene and a 55-year-old man told them that Fuentes allegedly came out of his apartment, displaying a kitchen knife and menaced him with it. At that point, the victim called the police and then met them in the lobby. Fuentes wasn’t in his apartment by the time police came but after conducting a canvass, they found him in the front of the building. He was also allegedly in possession of a small bag of marijuana.

Police arrested two men for unlawful surveillance at the Union Square subway station last week. Thirty-seven-year-old Marquis Traynham was arrested last Thursday at 8:55 a.m. Traynham allegedly put an electronic recording device under the skirt of multiple women on a downtown 6 train and the subway stairs while the women were leaving the station. Police arrested 35-year-old Jose Quezada Veloz last Friday at 6:39 p.m. Veloz was seen standing directly under the right side of the stairs leading to the downtown 4/5/6 platform and he was allegedly looking up the skirts of women going up and down the stairs and also had his cell phone in video mode pointed directly under a woman’s skirt with the lens facing up.

A 48-year-old man reported that he was involved in a car accident opposite 400 East 23rd Street last Thursday at 10:05 a.m. He told police that he was driving west on East 23rd Street when a woman in a white sedan struck his car, causing him to hit a parked car. She then fled the scene west and onto First Avenue. There were no injuries and no arrests were made.

A 24-year-old man reported that his motorcycle was stolen after he parked it in front of 655 East 14th Street at midnight last Wednesday. He told police that he parked the bike there and when he went to retrieve it later on Wednesday, the bike was gone. The tow pound had no record of the bike being towed and Stuy Town security said that their cameras don’t face the area where the bike was removed from.

A 13-year-old boy reported that his bag while he was in Stuyvesant Square Park at the northeast corner of Perlman Place and East 15th Street last Friday at 2:45 p.m. He told police that he put his bag on a bench and walked around the park. When he went back to the bench, his bag, which contained his iPhone, Nintendo 3DS, a Pokemon game and school supplies, was gone.

Police arrested 42-year-old Christopher Todd, 39-year-old Anika Reynolds, 33-year-old Eric Gersbeck and another individual for assault in front of 647 East 14th Street last Thursday at 8:34 a.m. The four allegedly got into a fight in front of Stuyvesant Town. All of them sustained minor scratches and refused medical attention at the scene.

A 22-year-old cyclist reported that he was assaulted while he was riding his bike at the northeast corner of Second Avenue and East 15th Street last Thursday at 7 p.m. He told police that he was riding his bike and an unknown person kicked him, causing him to fall off the bike and cause minor bleeding due to a cut on his knee. The person then fled in an unknown direction and no arrests have been made.

A 22-year-old woman reported that her iPhone was stolen while she was in Union Square Park at East 17th Street last Saturday at 5 p.m. She told police that she was working at the farmer’s market and left her cell phone on a table unattended while she went to the bathroom and when she returned, her phone was missing. She said that she tracked the phone and it was located at First Avenue and St. Mark’s Place.

A 44-year-old man reported that he was involved in an accident while he was on his bike in front of 160 West 25th Street last Thursday at 7:30 p.m. He told police that he was riding his bike at the location when a taxi hit his bike from the rear. The victim then fell off his bike and got a bruise on his head and hand, and he also complained of back pain. The taxi fled the scene and a canvass was conducted of the area with negative results. The victim could only remember that it was a taxi that hit him and had no other information.

An 18-year-old woman reported that her phone was stolen while she was inside 330 First Avenue on Saturday, May 17 at 11:59 p.m. She told police that she had left the phone inside the apartment while there for a friend’s party and when she went back to retrieve the phone, it was missing. The phone was tracked through “Find my iPhone” to a location in Brooklyn.

Police arrested 28-year-old Nicholas Kleoudis for criminal possession of a weapon last Saturday at 11:28 p.m. at the First Avenue L station. Kleoudis allegedly had a black metal clip attached to his front right pants pocket and upon further investigation, it was determined to be a gravity knife, police said.

Police arrested 29-year-old Anthony Womack for unlawful possession of marijuana last Saturday at 4:20 p.m. in the Union Square station. Womack was sitting on the steps in the station, blocking passenger movement. When asked, he had no form of identification to give the police and a bag of alleged marijuana was recovered from his left front pants pocket.

A 41-year-old woman reported that she was harassed at the northeast corner of East 15th Street and the FDR on Sunday, May 18 at 4:30 p.m. She told police that someone approached her, pulled her hair and then ran away. When she confronted him, he told her, “We were playing a game.”

Letters to the Editor, Mar. 13

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

All this and a price increase

Furthering the “Name Withheld, PCV” letter (“Airing out the dirty laundry room”, T&V, Mar. 6), let me just add to it.

First, it would have been nice if management had left each apartment a notice that our laundry room was available instead of scotch taping a notification in the elevators and on the main floor at the elevators.

Second, it would have also been nice if they had let us know that the prices had gone up ridiculously. I’m sure they got enough money from FEMA and their insurance companies to cover the machines so an increase, I believe, was not necessary. How about the timing of machines, or are you supposed to guess how long it takes to do a wash? It was bad enough when they got the temporary machines and left it to whoever did the wash, to guess how to use them.

Third, the layout is a ludicrous! The folding tables won’t cover anything as a large bath towel or twin sheet, never mind other items one washes such as queen size sheets. The folding table should have been put on the wall just to the left when you get into the washing machine area.

The site is large enough to accommodate a big, long table.

Fourth, what gives with the sink? It’s about the height of a child. What is this for? I won’t go into what it reminds me of.

Lastly, as to the chairs, why would anyone want to sit so far away from the machines that they would have to get up to see if the washer and/or dryer is done — or is that the reason for the TV? And what’s with the two locked doors?

I guess asking the people who use the machines, what makes sense, is beyond management’s reasoning.

Marcia Robinson, PCV

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