Nice to be back at WestView after the nightmare of Housing Court. After almost three years of fighting my new landlord’s attempt to evict me from my six-floor walkup in the heart of Greenwich Village, the Judge ruled against the landlord. The Court ruling said I was credible — the landlord’s witnesses were not. Whew! I still will be on probation until Dec 31st. I know this is happening all over the Village to rent-regulated, long-term tenants, many of whom are seniors. Most of the people I know facing eviction are art-related workers who live on a small fixed income from Social Security. The New York Times has recently done a front page series on the battle between new landlords and rent regulated tenants. 26 Grove Street and what happened to tenants who live there is featured in the series. Read it.
I was represented by Legal Services and they were just terrific. They worked collaboratively and I believe were crucial in keeping me in my home since since 1969.
June is Gay Pride month in NYC. The Village is the birthplace of the modern, post-Stonewall LGBT movement. The Stonewall Rebellion (note: NOT a riot) took place on Christopher Street in front of an organized crime-run bar called the Stonewall Inn. The Stonewall has always been to me a symbol of oppression and exploitation. I was pleased when Obama, as one of his last acts before leaving office, designated Sheridan Park and the parts of Christopher Street in front of the Stonewall
Inn as a National Monument to be administered by the National Parks Service. Trust me — this would never have happened under an administration whose Vice-President and Secretary of State are on the public record as homophobes. Thank you Obama.
THE RAINBOW FLAG is universally recognized as a symbol of both unity and diversity of the LGBT community world-wide. Three members of the original Act-UP NYC, Michael Petrelis, Ken Kidd and Jay Blotcher saw there was no rainbow flag flying at the Monument. They petitioned the NPS for a flag. From very high up in the administration a very loud “NO!” was passed down to the local administrator. The activists were discreetly directed to the NYC Parks department. The City owned a flagpole right outside the Monument property line. The activist asked and the NYC Parks Department said yes. A small rainbow flag was raised.
But the story doesn’t end there. Local art photographer and Radical Faery performance artist Steven Love Menendez wanted a bigger flag. One at least as big as the other flags that were flying. He petitioned the Parks Department to replace the small flag with a bigger one. Upon approval he dug into his not very deep pockets and bought one and hoisted it up.
Which is more than all the elected out officials from this district have done. The Village, like SF, LA, Boston, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, etc., used to have rainbow flags flying everywhere. But not recently. I hope the City Council’s LGBT caucus and the Mayor will dig deep and fund a proper display of the rainbow flag and celebrate the history-changing action that happened on Christopher St. in 1969 that changed forever how lesbians and gay men see themselves.
I RECEIVED A FRANTIC CALL from a hyperventilating neighbor who was beside herself because of the stench she had to endure each night when the sparkling new MTA “Sewer Maintenance” trucks would pull up in front of the Greenwich Ave. MTA substation (which many Villagers have renamed “the ugliest building in the Village”). Most nights/some days they would park right next to a red City-placed parking sign that reads “NO PARKING ANYTIME.” She vented to me, “the MTA, having only partially completed its ugly Mulry Square Ventilation plant at 61 Greenwich Ave and Seventh Ave. South now parks a huge truck on Greenwich. This gigantic vehicle is some sort of sewer vacuum cleaner. At odd times of the day/night the truck is driven off to do its work and then comes back to park—and expels a putrid odor of methane, etc. Several times a week this smell creeps into my bedroom across the street. It wakes me up; it takes hours for the smell to lift. The MTA should not be allowed to park there. This was not part of the deal for the construction of the Mulry Square plant. They must be violating some ordinance. I need help in finding which city agency to contact.” I suggested she call Speaker Johnson’s local City Council office, Johnson has the clout now to get things done…and he cares about his constituents.
TALKING OF SPEAKER JOHNSON: Thank you for making sure that the DOT put in only protected bike lanes. And that is just what they have done on 7th Ave. South which has always been a scary ride for bike riders, what with all the Holland Tunnel traffic that flows down 7th Ave. I know, I am a CitiBike member and use it. Let’s hope Speaker Johnson can get the Mayor, who made clear in his last term that bike rule enforcement was not high on his priority list, to enforce the rules passed by City Council. If enforced it would make bike riders and pedestrians allies in safety rather than antagonists over a situation that simply needs enforcement of the bike rules on drivers, riders and walkers. The owners of businesses that use bike delivery as a service do not follow the rules. Their delivery people are in most cases not wearing visible identification as the law requires. Also, the question of electric bikes in bike lanes needs to have a fair public discussion. Many bikers need to learn that the bike path is not a racing lane.
IT HAD BEEN 8 YEARS SINCE I PARTICIPATED IN A “HANDS AROUND ST. VINCENT’S” DEMONSTRATION attempting to save a hospital in our neighborhood. It took place at the end of May 2010. It got me thinking.
Wake Up Voters: the community fought back against the Rudin Real Estate Corporation and not a single elected official stood with us. Assemblywoman Deborah Glick was silent, took no action, and most likely was at her upstate home when she was needed here by her constituents. Just like when she scampered off when the Hurricane hit the Village. Get this: for years she chaired the Assembly Health Committee. State Senator Brad Hoylman, then the Chair of CB2 whose day job was as Legal Counsel to the Real Estate industry lobby group, lubricated a resolution through CB2 that endorsed the plan to remove a hospital and replace it with “luxury housing aka the Blood Condos.” Hoylman then had the chutzpah to say he stood up to the Rudins. He never showed up for our demos but he did find the time to show up with his child at the RID demonstration in front of the local police station. RID was demanding Hudson Park be closed at sunset. While our City Councilwoman/Speaker of the Council Christine Quinn was in a backroom negotiating with Bloomberg’s support how to close a hospital to build blood condos, her buddy, Keen Berger, the District Leader, walked away from seniors who are her constituent peer group and divided children and seniors—natural allies in health care needs. Berger signed on to the million dollar bribe Rudin put on the table to give, not to the public schools on West 17th where public housing students went to schools, but to PS11 and PS41. Rudin bought support by funding two of the most financially stable schools in the city with strong participation of parents of means (kudos to those involved parents). All except Quinn are up for re-election. Do your research, and find out what the electeds, seeking your vote, actually have done rather than be blinded by their liberal public statements. NONE of them attended this demonstration or others called by the Coalition to Save St. Vincent’s hospital. Is it not time we replace the political machine that created the mess in Albany and replace them with action-oriented progressive candidates not afraid of Cuomo’s bully tactics, regardless of a party? Think about it and take action. No I am not talking about an actor, politically inexperienced who cannot resist a good role in site-specific political theater.
OK SOME GOOD NEWS: I have found two delicious, affordable (really) food places that prove fast food can be freshly made and affordable in the neighborhood.
1: Pasta Flyer (510 6th Ave. between 13th and 14th St.) Chef Mark Ladner personally selected his favorite ingredients from small purveyors in Italy to create the recipes for Pasta Flyer. All menu items are less than $10 and served in under 3 minutes. I will tell you—delicious with comfortable seating.
2: som bo (143 Eighth Ave.) The philosophy is clean food, delicious, balanced combination of food groups, healthy and inexpensive. After having a meal (I paid for) I asked about the restaurant. The answer: “our kitchen receives fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, and meats, which we cook from scratch, with no artificial ingredients or preservatives. Our food is honest, wholesome, and in-season.”
(cc) Jim Fouratt… contact firstname.lastname@example.org