Volume 78 - Number 36 / February 4 - 10 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Letters to the editor

‘Bugle Lady’ sounds off

To The Editor:
Is there no kindness, no decency left in the Village, so known for its tolerance? Is there no “mercy, pity, peace and love,” as Francis Thompson asks in “The Hound of Heaven”?

I speak of the unspeakable furor misbegot by those Community Board 2 wannabe pols, who claim prescient knowledge of the mind, heart and intentions of the last of the Village bakers — Ted Kefalnios. He has been vilified, eviscerated and victimized for baking two-dozen, silly, baby cakes.

This man — Ted Kefalnios — since his father’s death several years ago, has carried on alone to support his mother. He bakes delicious things that perfume the morning air and cheer the hearts of Villagers with their delicious goodness.

C.B. 2 would be well advised to call off its stupid, mindless, misguided boycott. Or else! And they will find out what that means when they try to have the next meeting of their private club, cabal or what-cha-may-call-it. Why should that precious little band of self-righteous prigs escape scot-free while their broadcast ballyhoo has caused many death threats against Ted Kefalnios?

Boy, oh boycott? We will define the word for C.B. 2’ers. Will we ever!

Hear this you despotic, desperate, pathetic, power-tripping excuse for an outfit purportedly purposed to serve the people of Greenwich Village. Your spiteful opinions and hasty actions do us all grievous harm. Seldom do any of us challenge you because your meetings are so toxic we prefer not to attend. We don’t have to be there to be ignored. You can ignore us to your hearts’ content wherever we may choose to spend the short hours of our lives.

Now, I throw down the gauntlet. You owe recompense for injury to the name and the business of Kefalnios. I and others who know this young man demand that you apologize to Ted, his mother and our Village community for your egregious offense against us all and against all we believe and stand for. Furthermore, we demand you one and all vacate your positions straightaway. We await with delight the sight of your gang choking on your humble pie! But eat it you will and your words as well. Zarathustra has spoken.

Hester Brown


We sure did shoe Bush

To The Editor:
Re “Last chance to shoe Bush doesn’t get any traction” (photo, Jan. 21):

As someone who has worked in the advertising industry, I tend to agree with the adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity. So I was pleased to see that The Villager published a photograph of The Indypendent’s “Throw a Shoe at Bush” event.

As a journalist and editor of The Indypendent, I do want to correct the record regarding the statement that the shoe throwing did not “get any traction.”

Indypendent volunteers and supporters were present in Union Square on Inauguration Day, Tues., Jan. 20, with the portrait and a bag of shoes. Despite the cold and a trickle of pedestrians, dozens of passersby did join in gleefully, hurling plenty of shoes and vitriol at the excellent portrait (by artist Rebecca Migdal) of a smirking Bush.

Perhaps if we had had one of those 60-degree January days that became commonplace during the global-warming-denying Bush presidency, we would have encountered eager throngs ready to hurl like a frat boy on spring break. However, with foot traffic limited by the bitter cold, we only stayed in Union Square from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., instead of until the 2 p.m. finish time indicated in the press release.

Apparently, your photographer, Jefferson Siegel, arrived right after we had cleaned up and deposited Bush in the dustbin. But it was a successful and, judging by responses, cathartic event for many.

Arun Gupta
Gupta is editor, The Indypendent


Yankees put on squeeze play

To The Editor:
Deborah Glick’s talking point “Paying for Yankee Stadium is a major league error” (Jan. 28) does a great job in revealing the greed of the Yankee management and the inept negotiating strategy (to put it politely) of the city administration.

Interestingly, the situation gets worse. Even as The Villager was going to press with the assemblymember’s column, we learned about two more stadium-related fiascos: The replacement parks for the demolished Macombs Dam Park are a year behind schedule; and the new Yankee Stadium Metro-North station is costing millions more than originally estimated. The Yankees have declined so far to contribute, according to a rider representative on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board. 

As funding for schools, parks and libraries declines, what city official(s) will come forward to re-examine and revise our priorities? 

Carol Greitzer


City strikes out on stadium

To The Editor:
Re “Paying for Yankee Stadium is a major league error” (talking point, by Deborah Glick, Jan. 28):

Thanks to Deborah Glick for laying out the sheer hubris of luxury construction, of any kind, in our troubled city. The market for luxury projects is dwindling — rapidly. Whatever arguments were made for that strategy no longer apply. And they never did long range.

The foolishness of destroying Yankee Stadium is breathtaking. Taxpayers are subsidizing its reconstruction, parking garages, new train station and parks — in the last case, to replace those seized and moved far from their Little League users.

And in return? Five thousand fewer seats, most of these beyond fans’ ability to pay. As Bill Moyers puts it:

“…[T]here will be more luxury suites and party rooms… . Corporations and wealthy individuals will…rent the luxury suites for…$600,000 to $850,000 tax-deductible dollars a year, assuming they haven’t filed for bankruptcy... .

“…[B]id farewell to dear old Yankee Stadium, and await the new colossus… . It will cast its…shadow across one of the country’s poorest neighborhoods, whose residents will watch from the outside as suburban drivers avail themselves of…new…parking spaces. Never mind…the exhaust, even though in this part of town respiratory disease is already so high they call it ‘asthma alley.’ ”

Environmental damage, destruction of a historic stadium, loss of community space, less affordable entertainment and outrageous cost at a time when we desperately need ideas and projects that create a real future for our city.
 
K Webster


Misses point and meeting

To The Editor:
Re “Mendez: Squatters’ deal is fair” (letter, by Rosie Mendez, Jan. 21):

Councilmember Mendez states that “there must be a balance between retaining equity for the original owners and maintaining affordability for incoming families.” Under the restrictions proposed by UHAB, this is clearly not the case. A simple analysis of the numbers shows that.

After my last conversation with Councilmember Mendez, I suspected that she was unfamiliar with the actual terms of these proposed “restrictions.” Following that conversation, Mendez had the opportunity to demonstrate that she understands these specifics. Unfortunately, she missed that opportunity.

On Jan. 21, Mendez was invited to attend a press conference with members of 10 of the Lower East Side former squatter buildings and reporters from The Villager and The New York Times. More than 40 people attended. Unfortunately, neither the councilwomen nor a representative from her office was there. To date, I still do not believe that she is familiar with the actual terms of the restrictions that her recent letter to The Villager endorses.

Our councilperson can serve us well by helping to facilitate a meaningful dialogue between our buildings, UHAB and the National Consumer Cooperative Bank — a dialogue not corrupted with sloganeering, false accusations, moralizing and the misrepresentation of facts.

Michael Shenker


Lacks trust in Trust

To The Editor: 
Thank you for correctly pointing out the problems with the Hudson River Park Trust in “Change for the park” (editorial, Jan. 21).

West Village communities have gone to great lengths and taken democratic initiative in participating in the latest process of redevelopment of Pier 40. We have informed the Trust of the needs of the community and have taken ownership of the development of the pier with input, proposals and strategies that have been supported by the local community boards and the Hudson River Park Advisory Council. 

In this process, it has become increasingly clear that the Trust does not want a democratic process. Ultimately, this authority is not working to carry out its stated mission to provide a safe public space that is accessible to all New Yorkers.

The Trust is bending over backward for large, private developers like The Related Companies, but not doing its job to ensure that kids have soccer fields, that rowers have access to the pier or that the historic West Village remains a safe place for L.G.B.T.Q. youth.

For this reason, we need the state Assembly to step in and insure the Trust does its job this year. We need stronger provisions in the Hudson River Park Act to ensure we have a democratic process in redevelopment where community needs are met and safe public space is maintained.

Claire Tran
Tran is a member, FIERCE


‘Horrific’ crash? C’mon!

To The Editor:
Re “Oh baby! Local family was on a wing and a prayer in plane crash” (news article, Jan. 21):

“The impact when they hit was ‘horrific,’” he said. “‘You just felt the whole plane was going to rip apart. It was very powerful and violent. The sound was like a sonic boom — just really, really loud.’”

O.K....which is it? The crew on the plane stated they hardly noticed the smooth landing made on the river. Now this guy says that it was horrific. Prelude to a lawsuit? Be thankful you are home safe.

John Cooper


Operation’s real point

To The Editor:
Re “Operation Pressure Point” (flashback, Jan. 28):

Operation Pressure Point’s “goal is to give the streets back to the community.” Not! The goal was to give the neighborhood to the real estate community and the wealthy. An area ripe for development saw an influx of the well-heeled, forcing working-class people out of an area their families had lived in for generations.

I am 33 years this month living in Loisaida, renamed Alphabet Town so white people would feel more at home. The community had been complaining for years to the police about the drug trade to no avail — until the area became the frontline in the expansion of the middle class into a new undeveloped (sic) area of Manhattan.

With landlords burning their buildings to collect insurance, after encouraging dealers to move in to terrorize the occupants to leave, and corrupt police getting paid off by these dealers, I suppose the neighborhood is better off today. But at what price?

Jon Keller


You go, Grannies!

To The Editor:
Re “Grannies urge Obama to keep ‘promise’ to end war” (photo, Jan. 21):

As long as there are citizens like this, there will be hope for our beloved country. Joan and all the Grannies deserve a salute from not only the peace community but also from all who stand for justice, fairness and hope.

Hugh Bruce


Enraptured with raptors

To The Editor:
Re “Imbolc fire and falcon-naming ceremony” (A-List, Jan. 28):

I was interested to see the section of the A-List that includes “Help us name the East Village falcon, grandson of Pale Male, who’s been seen daily at Tompkins Square.”

The only falcon that I’ve seen in Tompkins Square is a tiny male kestrel.  He’s about the size of a mockingbird, eats sparrows and is so quick, 98 percent of people would never see him. Plus, he’s the wrong species to be related to Pale Male.

Pale Male is a red-tailed hawk not a kestrel. Kestrels are falcons. Pale Male and other red-tailed hawks are classified as buteos. The raptor seen daily by most visitors to Tompkins Square Park is another gorgeous red-tailed hawk, a first-year female, named Valkyrie. 

I write one of the urban hawk blogs in the city, http://palemaleirregulars.blogspot.com, and have been reporting on Valkyrie, who is a daredevil with personality to spare, for some months now, illustrated by photographs by Francois Portmann, www.fotoportmann.com. 

Pale Male Irregulars reports on many urban raptors around the city during the breeding season, in particular, but also wintering raptors, such as Valkyrie. 

Is she the bird referred to in the A-List?

Also seen in the park often, but less frequently than Valkyrie, is a first-year male red-tailed hawk. Naming him would be lovely, for as far as I know he’s not been named yet.

Donegal Browne


Murder mystery

To The Editor:
Re “A phone, shouts, a murder and an enduring mystery” (news article, Jan. 21):

While your article by J.B. Nicholas is primarily accurate, robbery may not have been the motive. John had $20 with him at the time, and that money remained in the phone booth.

The most puzzling question for me was: Why did John walk away from his apartment after he was shot, instead of toward the safety it might offer?
 
Barbara Reisenbach


Market staff was super

To The Editor:
Re “Jefferson Market buyout” (Mixed Use, Jan. 28):

I am a longtime patron and fan of Jefferson Market who misses it and its staff. Mr. Hedlund may have bought into the company line a bit too much in his coverage of the changeover into a Gristedes.

Two weeks ago, I ran into one of the ex-employees, who told me that not only were many of the staff still waiting for back pay and U-2 forms, but new management was only offering the old workers roughly $7 per hour, a huge decrease. I was also told not to expect to see many back, since even those in management positions were being offered relative pittances to return.

Jefferson Market was the staff: John Franqui, the wonderful guy who seemed to run it; Cisco, who did the incomparable roast chickens; Jennifer, Aisha and other deli staff, and all the dear and friendly young women at the registers. I would beg new management to find a way to re-employ them, not run a place that bears only the name of a much-loved Village institution.

Mark Sebastian


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