Volume 78 / Number 18 - October 1 - 7, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower
East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Raps ‘revisionist riot history’

To The Editor:
Re “The Curfew Chronicles” (letter, by Philip Van Aver, Sept. 24):

Although it almost isn’t worth my time to answer Philip Van Aver’s letter, I must correct some statements made by him about me and about the “circumstances leading up to the Tompkins Square Park riot.” Interestingly, he leaves out the word “police,” even though most people believe that it was a “police riot.” 

I should mention first that I stopped speaking to Van Aver many years ago when he called someone with whom he didn’t agree a “kike,” at a community board meeting no less. His anti-Semitism shows his true colors, in my opinion.

At the June 1988 meeting of Community Board 3’s Parks Committee, of which I was then chairperson, a group of residents who lived on Avenue A across from Tompkins Square Park came to the committee meeting to ask for more police presence on Avenue A. Their reason for doing so was because groups of young people would leave the bars very late in the evening and make a lot of noise across from the park, throwing and breaking beer bottles, etc. A curfew may have been discussed, but was not considered.

I was elected chairperson of Community Board 3 during the board’s June 1988 meeting; after the election, I gave my Parks Committee report. How Van Aver could call my report “rambling” and my comments “innocuous,” when he stated that he couldn’t hear me, is probably another example of Van Aver’s practice of writing history as he wants it — in his “daily journal” — not as it actually happened. Yes, Carole Watson (rest her soul) did make the motion for more police presence along Avenue A. The motion passed. Never in a million years did we ever expect that the police riot would result from that request.

As for the police riot that took place on Aug. 6, 1988, again Van Aver either rewrites history, or simply doesn’t know the facts, or both.

Earlier in the summer of 1988, the then Board of Estimate voted to give the lot on the southwest corner of Avenue C and Ninth St. to Lower East Side Coalition Housing Development to build housing for homeless senior citizens. The lot was at the time a community garden called La Plaza Cultural. I should note here that the housing was never built on the site for many reasons and La Plaza Cultural still occupies the site.

A group of people who were very angry about the proposed loss of La Plaza Cultural decided to move into Tompkins Square Park, and planned a demonstration for Aug. 6. The rest of what happened that night could probably take a small book, but suffice it to say that Van Aver simply does not know what he is talking about.
Anne Johnson

He doesn’t ‘LOVE’ a ‘rip-off’

To The Editor:
Re “Getting the message across with pop art and spray paint” (news article, July 2):

Your article quotes street artist Clark Clark regarding his “homage” to Robert Indiana’s “LOVE” artwork:

“The concept behind Clark’s campaign is simple — one image, in fact. You’ve probably seen it while walking around the city: ‘VOTE’ written into a perfect square, in the style of the legendary 1960s ‘LOVE’ piece by pop artist Robert Indiana.

“‘It’s a complete homage to Indiana,’ Clark said. ‘Of course, there’s been so many parodies off that, already. There was the ‘AIDS’ in the 80s. I remember one artist did ‘HATE’ for a while.’”

“To Clark, his interpretation of the iconic image isn’t a ‘parody,’ but instead an effort to take his campaign and blend it seamlessly with Indiana’s positive message.
“‘LOVE to VOTE,’ Clark said with a smile. ‘That’s the idea, right there. It all kind of fits into place.’”

It’s not a complete homage, parody or interpretation: It is a direct rip-off of copyrighted material.

Here’s the direct link documenting Robert Indiana’s “VOTE” done for the Democratic National Committee in 1976: http://books.google.com/books?id=VChCntyG_pkC&pg=PA235&lpg=PA235&dq=Carter+%22Robert+Indiana%22+Vote&source=web&ots=liGPVLczbN&sig=5-uvr6wAYQZztvHuUgKfE81yArY&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPA236,M1.

Steve Mesler
Mesler is part of the team that fabricates Robert Indiana’s sculptures

Hey, pols! Row with us!

To The Editor:
Re “Gay, gray and green color hearing on plan for Pier 40” (news article, Sept. 17):

Community Board 2’s public hearing two weeks ago on Pier 40 was truly remarkable. To be in a community discussion about what Pier 40 should entail — without the looming prospect of a mega-entertainment complex — is something that we in the West Village community should be celebrating. In the course of the hearing, members of the community stressed the importance of having space for middle schools, larger dog runs, public sports fields, space for the Village Community Boathouse and for a 24-hour L.G.B.T.Q. youth center.

Throughout the course of the night, it became clear that one of the fundamental links that holds these concerns together is the belief that no one wins if development decisions push out uses that are not seen as profitable.

The Village Community Boathouse extended an informal invitation to L.G.B.T.Q. youth to come row with them sometime. In some ways, we and others in the West Village have already accepted the invitation. This boat that we are all rowing is ultimately propelled by pushing development priorities that put people first.

We want to pass the invitation on to West Village elected officials and ask that they too hop in the boat and support a vital space for L.G.B.T.Q. youth on Pier 40. Quinn, Duane and Glick, come on out and row with us sometime, the water’s just fine.

Glo Ross
Ross is lead organizer, FIERCE (Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment)

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 145 Sixth Ave., ground floor, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.

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