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April 1st, 2004

Letters

by You the Reader

The Lilac Preservation Project
There is an exciting new resource on the Hudson-the retired Coast Guard buoy tender Lilac (1933), owned and managed by the volunteer, not-for-profit Lilac Preservation Project, recently arrived here.

Lilac docked on December 31 on the north side of Pier 40. She is an historic vessel built to service buoys in the coastal waters of the northeast-buoys protect vessels from running into shoals or other dangerous waters. A particularly interesting feature of Lilac is that she has her original steam engines. This is a real rarity these days since most surviving steamships were refitted with diesel engines by the nineteen sixties. The Lilac Preservation Project is working on four things: to preserve the steamship, promote maritime education for both children and adults, create an exciting new venue for the arts, and be a community friendly resource for local meetings and events. In addition to the Hudson River Park Trust, a major programming partner with Lilac will be the Police Athletic League’s Maritime Adventure Program, where kids from 12 to 18 years old work on historic vessels, either learning to be tour guides or assisting in restoration and upkeep. In addition to the educational opportunities of Lilac, we also expect the vessel to host arts, environmental and community events. One of these events may be the celebration of the sloop Clearwater’s designation to the National Register of Historic Places in the spring (Clearwater will be docking for part of the year next to Lilac at Pier 40).
Two of the only female captains in the harbor, Captain Pamela Hepburn and Captain Anne Loeding, are on Lilac’s board of directors, as is Florent Morellet, owner of the restaurant Florent in Gansvoort. Norman Brouwer, Senior Maritime Historian at the South Street Seaport Museum, is the ship’s Curator. We anticipate Lilac to be designated to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, and we expect her to be a serious candidate for National Historic Landmark status in the near future. The Lilac Preservation Project is guided by the work of the North River Historic Ship Society, a group of maritime preservationists working in the harbor to preserve historic vessels. Currently, Lilac will be a dockside exhibit open for regular visiting hours and lots of new programs for the public in the spring. Look for her in Hudson River Park. See you on the waterfront!
Julie S. Nadel
Executive Director
Lilac Preservation Project
julie@steamerlilac.org

SoHo Viewpoint
Over the last ten years, residents in SoHo have anxiously watched a steady erosion of the New York Loft Board created by former Council Member Kathryn Freed and community activists. The Board assisted many individuals with legal issues throughout the years. But, as the 1990s Renaissance of New York began, so did a movement to weaken those housing and zoning regulations that protected its residents.
The Loft Board helped stabilize the lives of the hard-working middle class citizens who make their homes in the SoHo community. Unfortunately, incomes have not kept pace with the continually rising cost of living, and rent hikes too often have caused many talented and productive artists to move out of the city and even out of the state. Escalating rents have dashed the hopes and dreams of countless young artists, actors, musicians, merchants, restaurant owners and commercial entrepreneurs-the very kind of people who make New York the magnet city that it has always been.
I believe that most people want to live in a community that offers safety, vibrancy and uniqueness-not only to its residents-to all New Yorkers and tourists. However, the real estate industry and the influence of corporate America have made SoHo a target for development for the rich. Other issues, such as the proliferation of billboards, illegal street vendors and traffic, further compound this problem. Even though I believe that change is healthy, it should not infringe upon and threaten the livelihood of the people who made their neighborhoods so special.
As someone who appreciates and supports the arts, we must explore alternatives to help the arts and to find a reasonable balance with development. And one of the best solutions to protect people and to preserve SoHo is to make sure that zoning changes conform to the existing structures in the community and that the new development is inclusive of the people in the arts community.
Carlos Manzano
(Mr. Manzano is a leading candidate for Manhattan Borough President in 2005)

Response to Drew Roth Letter
To Steven Vincent, I don’t know where you have been hiding since 9/11, when you write “why haven’t contemporary artist’s responded to the catastrophe?” By 9/12 I met many artists down at ground zero bringing water and juice to thirsty rescue workers cut off from supplies.
Have you also forgotten that most of the artists in Tribeca were also victims and forced from their homes and studios? We live two blocks above Canal Street and were the “lucky ones” who could give shelter to 14 artists and their young children. When these artists could return to their homes, they spent weeks clearing dangerous dust and debris. I respect the courage of this community and resent your statement.
Have you heard of Richard Sera, the contemporary sculptor? Charlie Rose did and had him on his program where they discussed how Sera refused to leave his loft. Artists were so hard hit that The Pollock-Krasner Foundation and the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation sprung into action to help ease the pain with emergency grants.
Where were you-in the Hamptons safe and sound? Within weeks of 9/11 shows by contemporary artist sprang up all around Soho and Tribeca. One show simply entitled “9/11,” (Richard Pugliesi, curator) was most impressive. One large canvas by Thornton Willis, best known for his upbeat cubism, was heartbreaking in its simple depiction of massive forms collapsing in on one another. The paintings in this exhibition were abstract and gut wrenching in the states-of-mind they depicted. Not a single backhoe in this exhibition, just important art. But of course you didn’t see that exhibition.
Nor does it seem that you attended any of our fundraisers for 9/11. By Halloween, just one family of contemporary artists held a party on Mercer Street that raised over $2600.00 for firehouse #20 to go to the families of their 12 fallen hero’s. Have you been to our two firehouses and asked them who gave money? We all did; we also quietly-and in some cases privately-donated art.
I have no problem with the representational cartooning of Drew Roth. I do have a problem with bad journalism that denies both the suffering and charitable response of the contemporary art community during this terrible time. I don’t know where you were after 9/11, but right now you owe this group an apology.
Vered Lieb

Intolerance Downtown
New York legislation and ballot initiatives in 2003 affecting Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) people are a clear indication that the community’s advocacy efforts have been a catalyst for change. Marriage of same sex couples, the addition of gender identity and expression to existing laws that prohibit discrimination, and protection from harassment in school were among the many issues addressed in assembly bills last year. Despite these strides and the visage of a more “gay-friendly” public, anti-gay sentiment is as virulent as ever.
Hate crimes against GLBT people have decreased marginally since 2001 although many recent incidences of anti-gay violence have occurred in the downtown area. Many anti-GLBT incidents occur in or around GLBT bars and clubs. East, West, and Greenwich Village, SoHo and TriBeCa are hot spots for anti-GLBT incidents as GLBT establishments speckle the downtown area. The percentage of anti-GLBT incidents in or around gay establishments increased by 129% by 2002.
On December 22, 2003 at 1:30am, in the East Village, on Second Avenue and Third Street, an incident occurred in which a gay man was assaulted by a group of men. He was repeatedly thrown into a gated storefront after he was seen kissing his friends on the cheek, goodnight. This incident was reported to authorities. Just a few days earlier on December 18, 2003 at 4:15am on St. Marks Street and Second Avenue a heterosexual male, who was mistaken to be gay was chased by a group of six young men in their early twenties. As he was pursued, he was verbally assaulted and very narrowly escaped a physical assault. This incident was also reported to police. In late December 2003, outside of a popular Lesbian bar on East Houston and Suffolk Street in the Lower East Side, a car full of men verbally harassed a group of female patrons. Even after the women were ushered inside, the anti-gay slurs continued.
The West Side, specifically Greenwich Village, is a haven for GLBT establishments and has stayed true to its’ history as a hot spot for anti-gay violence. On March 17, 2003, a twenty-five year old man pulled a knife while shouting anti-gay remarks at a man on Eighth Street. The assailant was later apprehended on Broadway and Bond Street (Post, NYPD Blotter). Just three weeks later, on Eighth Street and Sixth Avenue, at 4:30am a 38 year-old man was punched in the face while the attacker yelled anti-gay remarks. The attacker fled the scene before police arrived.
These instances of hate crimes are just a small sample of similar crimes downtown. Although the incidences cited were reported to police, with some receiving attention from local media, hate crimes are largely under reported. A central concern of victims that inhibits reporting is the anticipated unresponsive attitude of authorities.
Ivonne Santiago
Editor’s note: Ms. Santiago will be investigating the under-reporting of hate crimes & their underlying causes in our next issue.

A Word of Warning:
Take Your Medication
In a recent news story printed in the Southampton Press, the headline reported “Mentally Ill, Police Can Be Volatile Combination.” It’s more like “Residents, Tourists, Property Tax Paying Second Home Owners and Police can be a Dangerous Combination.” Ask any motorist about being pulled over in the Hamptons for not wearing a seat belt-when you actually do have your seat belt on. That’s a recent new ploy.
A Southampton resident had the gall to be intimidated by blaring sirens and flashing lights. And, although he was not breaking the law, he wound up dead. Seems his crime was that he didn’t want to take his medication. Let that be a lesson to you if you have a headache in Southampton. As the Southampton Press reported, “no one has suggested that the police acted improperly” in killing someone who had not done anything illegal. And, Lt. Lewis was quoted as saying that his officers are trained in “de-escalation.” Well, gee, doctor the operation was a success, too bad the patient died. If the taser worked right, how did that happen?
At Bellevue Hospital, even inpatient psychiatric patients are not killed if they refuse their medication. Ever hear of patients’ rights, or hey, how about civil rights? Oops, forgot we were in the Hamptons.
The problem we have here is a failure to communicate. The residents as well as the politicians are afraid of the police, for good reason. In the Hamptons, there are a fair number of ill trained, sadistic, high school dropouts wearing guns. Ask the Guatemalan who raised a tree branch to the off-duty Sheriff’s Officer and part-time Quogue Police Officer. He was shot three times, once in the back. Or talk to the Southampton man who had the unfortunate luck to be in a local bar when “the boys” were celebrating. They beat him nearly to death.
P.S: Don’t hold your breath waiting for the D.A. in Suffolk to indict any cop. If that happens, the judge will find a way to let him off the hook. (i.e. the officer who was identified beating up the Southampton man in the bar). We’re all Republicans here, after all. Nice, neat little arrangement.
Melanie Katz

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