Volume 73, Number 49 | April 7 - 13, 2004


Not buying columnist’s spiel

To The Editor:
Re “Vendors: It’s a hard sell outside, or as an Outsider” (notebook, by Wilson, March 31):

Was this “article” an April Fool’s joke from the Soho Alliance? Beginning with the withholding of the name of the actual author, to the author’s admission in the first few lines that she has had fantasies of mass murdering vendors, to her absurd claim that she “eventually got a special permit from the city to sell art and printed matter” — a claim The Villager of all papers knows to be nonsense, since you’ve covered the street artist issue for 10 years and certainly are aware there is no permit, thanks to the lawsuits won by A.R.T.I.S.T. — this article seems to be intended to make all vendors look bad, to spread disinformation and to discourage any more artists from coming to the street.

The Villager is read by many artists and some would no doubt like to try showing their art on the street. Here’s some genuine information on the issue that I hope you will print. For artists and written-matter vendors, there is no longer a license or permit required based on First Amendment freedom of speech. Anyone can now legally sell paintings, prints, photographs or sculptures on the street. There is no “three-hour” time limit in which you can set up. Astor Pl. is not a restricted street for First Amendment vendors. The legal rulings pertaining to street artists, links to the entire vending law and numerous other materials of use to street artists and vendors can be found at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NYCStreetArtists/

Robert Lederman
Lederman is president, A.R.T.I.S.T. (Artists’ Response to Illegal State Tactics).

Wilson serves up a clunker

To The Editor:
The vendor column, “It’s a hard sell outside, or as an Outsider,” by Wilson (March 31) is fiction posing as true-life experience.

It is an amazingly contrived, libelous, repulsive slur against vendors and artists, showing ignorance, inexperience and prejudice.

First it insinuates that vendors don’t pay taxes. Legal vendors, in fact, do pay city, state and federal taxes. Second, that they are slackers who read all day and drink coffee. Wrong. Vending is a physically and psychologically strenuous occupation. We put in a good day’s work.

As Robert Lederman pointed out, one does not need a “special permit from the city” to sell artwork/written matter, following the A.R.T.I.S.T court victory. From this error alone, we know the story to be made up. While there are beat cops who sometimes check on vendors, there is no “vendor inspector.” The Alpha Squad that used to target vendors was disbanded many years ago.

If Wilson had obtained this fictitious permit why was she illegal? What law was she breaking? Why was she allowed to stay three hours? Unreal account of a vendor’s experience. That’s bull. All the street crud for atmosphere is not the correct picture either (i.e. drug addicts, hustlers, bums, skanky prostitutes). We deal with the same middle-class shoppers who go to Armani and Burberry.

If The Villager paid this woman to write a credible piece on vendors, it should ask for its money back. She isn’t making it as a writer either.
Thelma Blitz
Blitz is a licensed vendor and artist

Overarching community effort

To The Editor:
Re “How the Washington Sq. Arch came to be restored” (talking point, by Bob O’Sullivan, March 31):

Thank you to Bob O’Sullivan for his thoughtful and gracious piece last week about the community-wide effort to renovate the Washington Sq. Arch. While we appreciate Bob recognizing the role New York University played in the effort, Bob understates his role — he was a constant and consistent driving force.

Bob’s overall point is right on! This is truly a time for Villagers to be proud. While the Department of Parks and Recreation had always been a strong advocate for the renovation of the arch, they needed our help to secure the funds. Working together — the Washington Square Association, Community Board 2, the Washington Square Parks Council, the Village Alliance, N.Y.U. and so many others — we secured $3 million from our elected officials to make this project happen. A special thank you to our former councilmember, Kathryn Freed, who was the first to pledge money to the project. And to Borough President C. Virginia Fields, as well as former Mayor Giuliani and former Council Speaker Peter Vallone, who all provided the funding we needed.

As the scaffolding has come off the arch, those of us who have been in the neighborhood a long time realized we had forgotten how beautiful the arch truly is. We forgot that behind the fence and under the paint, the official entranceway to our neighborhood is truly one of the city’s most glorious monuments. And those who are newer to our neighborhood are finally able to absorb the magnificence of the arch. One N.Y.U. student who never saw the arch without scaffolding commented as the scaffolding came down — “I pass by the arch every day, but I never realized how beautiful it was until now.”

The arch demonstrates once again that, when we work together, our neighborhood can do great things. The arch restoration is complete, and now we move on to a complete renovation of the park. We look forward to the date a couple of years from now when, as a community, we are celebrating not just our arch, but a newly renovated Washington Sq. Park.
Michael Haberman
Haberman is director of government and community relations for N.Y.U. and co-chairperson of Community Board 2’s Washington Sq. Park Task Force.

Association provided arch support

To The Editor:
Re “How the Washington Sq. Arch came to be restored” (talking point, by Bob O’Sullivan, March 31):

The Washington Square Association, since 1993, has had a strong commitment to the restoration of the Washington Sq. Arch. Its deterioration was of great concern to the members of our association.

The “talking point” did a wonderful job in your recent issue of describing the history of community involvement, but omitted the active participation of the association, which has worked closely with the Parks Department on this project.

We conducted research and identified the quarry where the original marble was available. We participated in fundraising efforts among other activities.

We’re pleased that the project is near completion, and wanted to set the record straight!
Drs. Regina Kellerman and Anne-Marie Sumner
The Washington Square Association, Inc., Friends of Washington Square Park

Don’t landmark boxes in aisles

To The Editor:
Re The March 16 article, “Superblock, and supermarket, proposed for landmark status,” by Lincoln Anderson:

In talking with neighbors who frequent the Bleecker St. Associated supermarket, I am told they strongly support the historic landmarking of the beautifully designed housing and open space bordered by Bleecker, Mercer and Houston Sts. and La Guardia Pl., now threatened by possible rebuilding of the included supermarket space.

But I also want to register our discomfort with Associated getting a free ride, because we feel any similar market could replace them.

It is true that in the past two years they have cleaned up and redesigned the former lower-priced Grand Union supermarket. However, they then filled the widened aisles with stacked piles of cans and bottled merchandise plus overflowing baskets, so that it now is an obstacle course with several incidents of breakage imperiling us.

Senior shoppers with canes and carts are colliding all day with three to five carts of produce in the entry aisles alone, making for conflicts with the seemingly non-English-speaking workers.

So, thanks to Morton Sloan, president, for the outdoor cafe and mural, but NO thanks for permitting his smiling store managers to ignore our daily comments on their greedy use of the space supposedly for shoppers.
Ann Soboloff

N.Y.U. students helping

To The Editor:
N.Y.U. often gets a bad rap around the Village, sometimes deservedly. The sad result, however, is that the bad tends to overshadow the tremendous amount of good that is being done by members of the university.

N.Y.U. has a long and proud tradition of service. Whether through the Office of Community Service or on their own, students actively go out into the Village and the city as a whole to help others. This April, President John Sexton will recognize these individuals and student organizations at the 20th Annual President’s Service Awards.

One recipient of this prestigious award will be the N.Y.U. Beta Iota chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed service fraternity. Over the years, our chapter has tirelessly worked to give back to the community in any way we can. We have held food drives in the cold for Thanksgiving baskets, played with local kids at the McBurney YMCA and volunteered for Bailey House, a nonprofit organization working to provide housing for New York City families afflicted with H.I.V./AIDS. We have tutored, given our blood and delivered meals, always, as our motto goes, “with a smile.” The fact that we are now being recognized for our efforts is merely icing on the cake — the real satisfaction comes from collapsing on your bed after a few hours of service on a Saturday morning.

If the President’s Service Awards teach us anything, it should be that N.Y.U. is not an enemy of Greenwich Village and New York. We are all members of the same community, and we want to, should and do help.
Ryan Gee
Gee is public relations director, N.Y.U. Alpha Phi Omega, Beta Iota Chapter

Mothered goose

To The Editor:
Re “Rescue insured Afflack’s safety” (letter, March 17) and “Gansevoort goose isn’t cooked” (news article, March 17):

It is so gratifying to know that Goosey was rescued and that we are a community of bird lovers, among other common interests.
Barbara Chacour

Guns mean freedom

To The Editor:
In what is emerging as an issue in the presidential election — gun control — few people recognize that the Constitution prohibits inhibitions on gun rights. President Bush has promised to renew the assault-weapons ban and Mayor Bloomberg is on a crusade to make guns illegal. The Constitution does not allow such actions. It reads, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Either we stop inventing constitutional rights that are not in the Constitution, like abortion, and we start enforcing the rights that are in the Constitution, like gun rights, or the nation will work its way to anarchy. If our most fundamental law is disobeyed then we have no law whatsoever.
Spencer Rosenbaum

W makes dad look good

To The Editor:
Rather than attacking a transnational problem, like terrorism, with the path of multilateralism paved by his father, Bush showed real determination in abandoning diplomacy and pushing forward with unilateralism. Bush, and his cabinet, clutched so fiercely to the Cold War mindset of Realism (i.e., states are the only actors that matter, and they are always looking to further their own interests) that we attacked Afghanistan and Iraq instead of recognizing that states are virtually anathema to an organization like Al Qaeda. And in doing so we justified Bin Laden’s outrageous claims that the U.S. would soon invade an oil-rich Muslim nation. Was the U.S. safer on Sept. 12, 2001, with the world behind us, or now?
W. Hancock

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