Scoopy’s, Week of Nov. 8, 2012

KOCH’S CABIN FEVER: Former Mayor Ed Koch stuck it out during the first two days of the blackout at his Fifth Ave. digs by Washington Square Park, but then he just couldn’t take it anymore. “I was getting cabin crazy, as Charlie Chaplin called it, in a movie I never stop recall- ing, in which he was required to stay in Alaska all winter,” Koch, 87, told us. (Ironically, Chaplin’s “Cabin Fever” is the mayor-turned-movie reviewer’s “all-time favorite” flick.) “So I decided to walk down 16 flights — and I did,” he said. “It took a half an hour.” Koch said a build- ing concierge with a flashlight helped him down. In fact, following the blackout, Koch noted, “I saw my doctor for a normal checkup, and he said, the fact that I was able to walk down 16 flights means I’m much stronger physically than he thought.” The former mayor had the worst blackout combo — no electricity coupled with no running water, not to mention no heat. “I got into bed and assumed the fetal position,” he said. “I slept a lot. I had orange juice, which held up for two days. I didn’t eat much, but I had food. I ate tuna fish — good, old, reliable tuna fish — out of a can, without mayo, very bland.” As for combating the darkness, he said, “I don’t believe in using candles, it’s dangerous.” He did have a working land line, though, and could make calls. “God bless the phone company,” he said. After he bailed, he spent a couple of nights on the East Side with colleagues from his law firm.

GLICK SMOKED OUT: Assemblymember Deborah Glick would have stayed at home in the Village through the whole blackout, but she was driven out by noxious fumes from a diesel generator that was being operated inside the building, in violation of city regulations. “I think that the deli was using it, but they denied it,” Glick told us. “It is illegal to use it indoors. … In the morning, I took my partner — who has a sensitive respiratory system — and two cats out of the area. I evacuated my family, we were overcome by fumes.”

MEIER BUILDINGS MIRED IN IT: It’s not immediately clear why, but the Richard Meier -designed glass towers at Perry St. are going to take quite a long time rebounding from the storm surge. When we biked by there on Sunday night, and went to poke our head in one of the buildings, a guard from each lobby quickly converged on us and said that no one can enter the tony towers right now. The eleva- tor shafts were flooded, we were told, and the buildings only got power back Sunday. But there’s a lot of repair work ahead and the luxury high-rises won’t be back open for “four to five months,” one of the guards told us. “The restaurant in the building across the street, it’s a mess,” he added. “Everyone lives here — Calvin Klein, Denzel Washington, ” he said, adding, “of course, they have other places.” Nearby, at Barrow St., 28 ground-floor apart- ments at the West Village Houses were evacuated due to flooding. State Senator Tom Duane has assisted residents with applying for FEMA rent assistance so they can stay elsewhere during the cleanup. Meanwhile, although the front facade falling off an illegal hotel in Chelsea during the storm made headlines, less well known is the fact the back wall of a building at 401 West St. sloughed off dur- ing Sandy into an adjacent construction site on Charles St. The Department of Buildings has banned anyone from entering the West St. building. As for the Meier buildings, Assemblymember Glick guessed they might have more of their electrical systems located in the basement than most buildings.

HEROIC HURLEY — SCAREDY-CAT DOGS: Not surpris- ingly, a debate is raging over whether New York University did enough to assist people other than its own faculty and students during Lower Manhattan’s post-Sandy blackout hell. A member of N.Y.U. FASP (Faculty Against the Sexton Plan) — the group suing the university over its South Village mega-expansion plan — fired off an angry e-mail blast to FASP members, saying, in part, “What’s happened here is a disgrace — and everybody knows it. While N.Y.U.’s students sat playing video games in pam- pered isolation, the ‘neighbors’ in Washington Square Village and elsewhere, faculty included, were struggling without food or water, in the dark. No one from Team Sexton even thought to organize the undergraduates to help get people through this crisis. As long as those young customers could shower and snack and text away (ameni- ties provided so that parents wouldn’t think to sue), the Team was perfectly content to let all others rot.” N.Y.U.’s buildings were kept powered thanks to the univer- sity’s new, improved co-generation plant. However, Alicia Hurley, N.Y.U. vice president of government relations and community engagement, and Judith Chazen Walsh , a longtime Washington Square Village resident and a plain- tiff on the suit against N.Y.U.’s 2031 development plan, tell a different story than the FASP foes. Hurley said that starting the Thursday morning after the hurricane, she led a group of 65 students and faculty from N.Y.U.’s Nursing School through 505 LaGuardia Place, Washington Square Village and other N.Y.U.-owned buildings knocking on doors and checking if there were residents who needed help. (505 LaGuardia Place, an affordable Mitchell-Lama high-rise, is not owned by N.Y.U., unlike the neighbor- ing Silver Towers.) Residents were first asked if they were O.K., given water and supplies, and professionally assessed. If they required medical attention, there were professional nurses and social workers among the crew who could provide prescription medications. “For the next 48 hours, we had people up and down the stairs,” Hurley said. In all, they visited more than 100 apartments. Speaking of 100, among those who stayed in place at 505 LaGuardia were former Councilmember Alan Gerson and his parents, Sophie and Herman — Herman having hit the century mark earlier this year. During the blackout of 2003, Herman, then 91, walked up 20 flights of stairs to his apartment. “He’s always been in great shape. He was a runner,” the late Keith Crandell told The Villager back then. However, FASP says N.Y.U. should have shifted some elderly residents, who didn’t have power, heat or running water, in 505 and W.S.V. to a reported 30 vacant apartments in Silver Towers. But Hurley said the residents didn’t want to move, and also that moving them down many flights of stairs lit only by glowsticks and flashlights might have been more risky. “It made more sense to leave people in place than to move them,” the N.Y.U. veep said. Plus, she added, “No one was asking to leave.” In the end, the medical professionals determined that two residents should be removed to the hospital for health conditions. Hurley also noted that the university did open up its Bobst Library during the blackout for people to charge their phones and use bathrooms, and that many others used the exterior outlets on the Kimmel Center to charge their phones and laptops. (Hey, can we do that when it’s not a blackout too?) As of Wednesday, 60 N.Y.U. students who live in areas that were devastated by the hurricane or who just didn’t want to deal with five-hour, Sandy-aggravated commutes, were sleeping nights on cots in Coles gym. Walsh, meanwhile, raved of Hurley’s efforts, “Alicia was amazing.” Actually, the rent-stabilized W.S.V. tenant, 75, got to crash on a couch in Kimmel for two days since she’s an N.Y.U. retiree, having worked for the university 50 years. This privilege was only open to people with univer- sity ID, like retirees. Asked if other community members could have slept in there, too, Walsh said, well, it was pretty crowded. “N.Y.U., as far as taking care of the com- munity and their students, they did a great job,” she said. “I just said to Alicia, ‘If we could tear up 2031, we’d be BFFs.’ … When N.Y.U. does good, we compliment them,” Walsh said. “When they make egregious errors — we sue.” Although, from the sound of it, Hurley was heroic during the blackout, the same unfortunately could not be said of certain wet-nosed residents of Washington Square Village. “Dogs didn’t want to go down the stairs in the dark. The dogs were scared,” Walsh said. Judy Magida had a hard time getting out until her canine companion, Cello, finally mus- tered the guts to go down. As dogs dug in their heels at stair landings, nerves became frayed. Walsh said she heard one man screaming at his pooch, “Goddamit!!! Go down the stairs!!!” There was one tail…er tale…of hound-related heroism, however. One resident has a dog with only three legs and a friend used a scarf to create a sling, allowing the disabled dog to make it down.

GIVE HIM A HAND: We bumped into WestView publisher George Capsis outside the P.S. 41 poll site on Election Day, as he was locking up his bike and getting ready to go inside. We asked him more than once who he was voting for but he wouldn’t tell us. He also noted his newspaper doesn’t endorse candidates, only causes — though he said Yetta Kurland has been badgering him for an endorsement. Meanwhile, Capsis said the city two months ago decided not to press charges against him stemming from an incident earlier this year when he slapped a police officer in the face, prompting the officer to haul off and sock Capsis, 84, in the eye, shattering his glasses and leaving him with a nasty shiner. “He was a small cop and he had an ego problem,” Capsis stated of the Sixth Precinct officer. Capsis said he had simply been out for a bike ride to relax when the police van cut him off in the Bleecker St. bike lane. It had already been a frustrating day for him, as he described it, e-mails not returned for stories and so forth, and he sud- denly just saw his hand — as if disembodied and with a mind of its own — rising and slapping the cop. Deputy Inspector Brandon del Pozo, the precinct’s commanding officer, subsequently visited Capsis at his home to talk things out. Village Democratic State Commiteeman Arthur Schwartz said he would represent Capsis in court, and that Capsis might sue. Capsis is still considering what to do, but said it’s not about the money, but the principle.

CORRECTION: In last week ’s article in The Villager on the idea of add- ing storm surge barriers to protect New York City, the description of the second alternative, which would include creating a barrier from the Rockaways to Sandy Hook, failed to note there would also need to be another barrier at Throgs Neck. Also, the article stated that New York City was in the top fifth of 140 ports worldwide for storm surge vulnerability, but it should have said we are No. 5 in vulnerability out of 140 ports.


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2 Responses to Scoopy’s, Week of Nov. 8, 2012

  1. A Washington Square

    Re: Heroic Hurley, part 1

    Puh-lease!! Alicia Hurley spins it like the Seaside Heights roller coaster in the superstorm. NYU was anything but heroic. At WSV, we were left to our own devices in frigid apartments that eventually stank of urine and feces, making canned tuna (or much else) a nauseating prospect. The coal-mine black stairwells were treacherous to navigate. Maintenance staff were on overwhelm (“Skeletal crew, sorry!”), and a few members of management were walking around being unctuous (“Ohh, how are you doing??”) but ineffectual.

    In fact, there was no hands-on help whatsoever until Thursday, three days into the emergency, when the fearless Ms. Hurley led her troops to the front. That afternoon I was offered a military-style meal by a sweet nursing student–but nothing else. Over the course of the entire ordeal, no one ever inquired if I wished alternative accommodations. So how is Ms. Hurley so certain I declined them? Anyway, by that time, others, like Rep. Nadler, had stepped in.

  2. A Washington Square

    Re: Heroic Hurley, part 2

    Those of us who are health compromised and/or senior required sanitary living conditions and clean water, not that potentially contaminated stuff running from the downstairs hose. (And who, other than an athlete in peak condition, could lug buckets of water up the flights while holding a flashlight?) By Friday, descending temperatures were putting survivability itself in question. Just wondering: Did Ms. Hurley also conduct an instructive PowerPoint presentation of which I am unaware, and/or is there perhaps a forthcoming documentary from NYU Public Relations about NYU's triumphant “rescue effort”?

    PS~I obviously made it, wholly on my own steam, having gathered extra gallons of spring water and supplies from around the neighborhood and beyond and paid to have them brought to my apartment on one of the upper floors—with virtually no assistance from the university.

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