Week of February 2 – 8, 2012

Where are the politicians?

 To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. calls out the troops in support of its mega-plan” (news article, Jan. 26):

Bringing the construction workers in was really no surprise. We sympathize with their need for employment. But not hearing from elected officials is really disgraceful. Mrs. Chin and Borough President Stringer know that the community is majority opposed to the N.Y.U. 2031 plan. Why are they not representing our community? The so-called public school building topped by a student dorm will never be built despite N.Y.U.’s promises. It’s time for N.Y.U. to develop more realistic plans.
Sylvia Rackow
Rackow is a member, Committee To Preserve Our Neighborhood

Ironic on so many levels

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. calls out the troops in support of its mega-plan” (news article, Jan. 26):

How soon they forget! I find the showing of union support at this meeting ironic. As I recall, N.Y.U. had a little trouble with the union when constructing one of its dorms on 14th St. back in the late 1990s.

Regarding the union spokesmen who touted the value of education, I seriously doubt they would send their kids to N.Y.U. considering its sky-high tuition costs.
Marilyn Stults 

Described Mary to a ‘T’

To The Editor:
Re “Mary Spink, affordable housing advocate, C.B. 3 member” (obituary, Jan. 26):

I love this article. It describes Mary to a “T”. I have known Mary for about 30 years and I also have been working for her for the past 15 years. Seven years ago the doctor told Mary that she needed to go through a radical treatment for her sickness, and she didn’t do it because she wanted to build more low-income housing for the poor. That is the kind of person Mary was.

Mary was the lifeblood of the Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Association, Inc. Her spirit will live with us forever. I will miss her so much and I will love her forever. She has done so much for me and my family.

May she rest in peace.
Maria Heredia 

O.K., so Ron Paul isn’t perfect

To The Editor:
Re “The Left-Libertarians — the last of an ancient breed” (talking point, by Bill Weinberg, Jan. 19):

There is a great deal of difference between supporting Ron Paul for president and agreeing with everything he says.

Seriously, is there any candidate with which you agree on everything? Has there ever been?
Bob Robertson

Hey, you can have him!

 To The Editor:
Re “The Left-Libertarians — the last of an ancient breed” (talking point, by Bill Weinberg, Jan. 19):

Ron Paul is a Left-Libertarian. He’s pacifist on foreign policy and loathes the military. We Right-Libertarians oppose Paul and his appeasement of Islamofascism.
Eric Dondero

Rosalind was in the mix

To The Editor:
Re “Finding Ira Cohen: On the trail of a mystic art icon” (Clayton, Jan. 26):

Ira Cohen was not Panama Rose. Panama Rose was the pseudonym used by Ira’s then-girlfriend, Rosalind. And it was she, not Ira, who wrote “The Hashish Cookbook,” in Tangier. Ira later published it, in New York City in 1966, under the Gnaoua Press imprint.
Eddie Woods

Back in the day at No Rio

To The Editor:
When I read the item in the Dec. 29 “Scoopy’s Notebook” about the imminent demolition of 156 Rivington St., I was reminded of a telephone call I received in the late fall of 1986 from Vinnie Salas, best remembered for running the Food Stamp Gallery, located on the southern fringes of El Barrio, inviting me to be in an exhibition at ABC No Rio. “Banned and Rejected” was the title of the show he was curating.

“Yes, Vinnie, I have a painting that was rejected from a period exhibit at the National Academy of Design,” I replied.

Never having heard of ABC No Rio, I took a stroll to Rivington St. Ascending the stairs of the former townhouse, I spotted a flier for a reading by Judith Malina. If this place is good enough for her, it’s good enough for me, I concluded. Years later when I met Judith I told her that story. The following excerpt from my Nov. 8, 1986, journal entry describes the opening of “Banned and Rejected.”

* * *

Since I wanted to give myself plenty of time, toward 6:30 I began to get ready for tonight’s opening at ABC No Rio. About a half hour later the telephone rang.

Identifying himself as John Ranz of The Generation After, the caller was responding to my letter of last month about the anti-Semitic attacks on speakers at the September C.B. 3 housing committee meeting. John Ranz and I had a long conversation, which left me feeling enervated. Around 7:30 I left the apartment.

Before proceeding to Rivington Street, I bought a large container of seltzer at SYP. Along with the potato chips and the big bottle of wine, I carried a heavy load. Rain continued to fall in torrents.

A large group of people were standing by the entry of ABC No Rio. Since the door was locked I closed my umbrella and put down the bags. More people arrived. The crowd got hard looks from the dope dealer kids passing in and out of the building. After a tall sullen youth wearing a long overcoat strode up the stairs and knocked purposefully, Vinnie Salas opened the door.

“Vinnie, honey, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a crowd trying to get in an art opening,” I cried. After I gave Vinnie the party supplies he took my coat to a rack behind a curtain in the back of the room.

Within minutes ABC No Rio was jammed. Before I had a chance to view “Banned and Rejected” Betsy’s friend Tony Vaughn appeared. He introduced me to a red-haired young woman. When I showed Tony my painting “Still Life with a Statue of Hercules and the Hydra,” 1977, he asked if the picture depicted an altar.

Sherri Donovan and Dan Roskoff arrived as I was looking at Vinnie’s work across the gallery. After I thanked them for coming I led Sherri and Dan to where my picture was displayed. “It’s wonderful they have a place like this,” she exclaimed. As we said goodbye Sherri mentioned that they were going to a dinner party.

Cynthia materialized after I had poured myself a glass of Perrier at the bar. Before I had a chance to show her my painting Cynthia invited me for Thanksgiving. Nearby, George was preoccupied with reattaching Mike’s Walkman. All the while more people kept arriving.

“Are you Philip Van Aver? I’m Coco; I was surprised to see you showing here,” a young woman said, stepping forward as I conversed with Cynthia. After a quick introduction Cynthia melted into the milling throng. As Coco Della Terza and I talked, I waved to Pamela Pier and Mike Lynch who arrived at the same time. At one point Coco asked me if I earned my living painting. She left without introducing me to the man she was with.

“Better banned and rejected than f—- and forgotten,” I intoned to Pamela and Mike when I joined them in the back of the gallery space.The lights dimmed.

In the semi-darkness Vinnie Salas announced poetry readings and performances. Stuck in a corner, Pamela, Mike and I watched Miss Fit declaim and gyrate. Dressed in a patchwork of flags, fur and torn glitter, she began her act by climbing out of a garbage can.

Nancy Sullivan and Rob had arrived. Worming their way to the back, they greeted me. While we watched Miss Fit I saw that Phyllis and Bill Soghor were standing by the doorway of the gallery. Phyllis was scanning the crowd looking for me. As Miss Fit went on and on I felt a tinge of embarrassment. She is Vinnie’s girlfriend, Nancy whispered.

A video was being screened. Deciding to leave, I went over to speak to Vinnie. After I renewed my offer to gallery sit I agreed to come tomorrow at 2 o’clock.

Rain was still falling heavily. As I descended the steps I met Carol Walter from Miriam Friedlander’s office. “Philip, what are you doing here by yourself?” she called through the rain. I replied, “I have a picture in a show at ABC No Rio.” Taking Carol by the hand, I led her into the still thronged gallery to see my painting.

Back outside, we talked about the neighborhood drug scene. Carol lives on Pitt Street, she told me. Before returning to the apartment I bought a can of Bud from the Arabs.
Philip Van Aver

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