Volume 81, Number 8 | July 21- 27, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Photo by Toni Dalton
Mark Kramer holding a postcard of a painting by Bill Anthony at Anthony’s opening last year at the Christopher Henry Gallery.
Koch rebuts Peddler:
In a letter to the editor in last week’s issue, Jerry Wade, a.k.a. Jerry The Peddler, stated that “Ed Koch has been talking a lot lately about how ‘gentrification on the Lower East Side is a good thing.’” That’s news to former Mayor Koch, who told us, “I haven’t issued a commentary or made a statement on the Lower East Side in 20 years.” (Was Wade’s letter maybe one of those that got stuck in the postal system for a couple of decades?) Anyway, Koch said, Wade is right — he did, and does, support L.E.S. gentrification. “It’s wonderful to see, as opposed to when I came into office,” he said of the neighborhood’s change. Back then, he said, it was known as Alphabet City and was plagued by drugs. “Living on the Lower East Side today is like living on the Upper East Side today,” he said. “That’s the place people want to live now — they want to live on the Upper West Side or Lower East Side. ... Go look at Tompkins Square Park,” Hizzoner told us. “Look at how nice it is. I did that,” he said, as in not going and looking at the park, but making it better. “We made the park habitable for women and children. And we built housing where before there were squatters there — which is what this guy liked, I’m sure,” he said referring to Wade, who is, in fact, a longtime squatter. Koch noted he invested $5.1 billion, including city money and federally obligated bonds, over a 10-year period to create 150,000 new and renovate 100,000 affordable housing units around the city. Wade, however, accuses Koch and his Police commissioner, Ben Ward, of having been accomplices to the evil tactic of “spatial deconcentration / gentrification,” whose M.O. was to encourage drugs and decay in neighborhoods like the Lower East Side, in order to force out the population. “This guy is obviously a conspiracy type: ‘The government put the drugs there,’” Koch said of Jerry The Peddler. “It’s nuttiness. He probably believes that the World Trade Center was blown up by George W. Bush.”
In sad news from Westbeth, writer Mark Kramer took his life on Mon., July 18. Kramer, 58, had started to unravel sometime ago, apparently. In March, our Police Blotter reported that he was arrested in his Westbeth apartment at 55 Bethune St. and charged with assault with intent to cause injury, after he swung a metal bar at a man’s head, and continued to swing the bar after the victim blocked the blow. At the time, police didn’t say what Kramer’s relation was to the victim. According to a Westbeth source, Kramer’s longtime partner, environmental lighting designer Leni Schwendinger, confirmed he was dead. “Leni came in crying last night and said to the security guard that it was true,” our source told us. “What a shame. He was so brilliant...he just went nuts.” L.E.S. documentarian Clayton Patterson, who knew Kramer, said Kramer had written an article, “Crack-Addicted Squirrels,” for the Weekly World News that got attention, but which may actually have set back his career. Eventually, Kramer admitted the article was made up. “He was a serious writer,” Patterson said. “He wrote for Screw a lot. He wrote Al Goldstein’s editorials for a while.”
Photo by Tequila Minsky
Veteran Community Board 2 member Doris Diether, right, and her cousin visiting from Finland enjoyed Tuesday evening’s free Washington Square Music Festival concert.