Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Politics/Jan Wallman/Greenwich Village life

I wrote this letter in response to the following: the recent spate of club closings; the decision of St. Vincent’s Hospital to move across the street, demolish and rebuild; the MTA’s threat to build 2 six-story towers on currently ‘open’ land; Jan Wallman’s impending eviction.
Thank you for listening. Cynthia Crane

Letters to the Editor, THE VILLAGER: published July 2007

As Villagers our plates are very full what with the constant and massive assaults on our precious, historic neighborhood. We have been brutalized by NYU, and I’m quite sure they are not through. Parsons, New School, they are, all of them, standing in line to suck up prime Village real estate, removing huge chunks of property from the tax rolls and swamping the locals. Issues are cropping up faster than we can identify them. Please let me try to present our most pressing concerns:

1) St. Vincent’s Hospital. For years to come Villagers will have to confront the huge situation inherent in the evacuation and rebuilding of Saint Vincent’s Hospital, and now there are suddenly more situations which really must be addressed.

2) the MTA’s search for a location for their Emergency Ventilation Plant in a location to be chosen from 9 alternatives. (**61 Greenwich Av; 192 7 AvS; 76 Greenwich Av; / Street-bed possibilities: W.11th south or north of 7th Av & Perry OR north of 7th Av). Depending on whether above or below ground, almost every one of these choices could have a staggering impact on my Block Association’s domain, the Mulry Angle/West 11th Street Blk. Ass’n., and, paired with whatever goes on with St. Vincent’s, could be a knock-out punch for the area. The MTA says that if tunneling fails and underground is not an option, they will then need TWO plants.

3) the loss of Cabarets & Piano Bars in the city. Recently we lost Dannys’ Skylight Room on Restaurant Row, home to performers for over 20 years, the victim of a divorce settlement. Then we lost Helen’s Hideaway Room, a classy little supper club in Chelsea. Now the news comes that Rose’s Turn (previously called for Duplex), on Grove Street, is closing. This building houses NYC’s oldest continuous running Cabaret. It was called The DUPLEX and there Jan Wallman discovered Woody Allen, Joan Rivers and a roster of stars. This historic location is being converted to ?’much-needed offices’. Yes, this is a Village issue. It’s a Big Apple issue.

4) a Greenwich Village Cabaret icon is being dispossessed from an apartment she has occupied on MacDougal Street for 50 years by, guess who? NYU. NYU is dispossessing her. Jan Wallman is going to have to move. She WAS the DUPLEX back in the early days and later ran a boƮte on Cornelia Street for years. There is a pattern here. Greenwich Village, NYC itself, is losing its soul, bleeding its treasure its art, culture, quirks.

5) meanwhile back at the tourist bus route, the Venetian Gothic jewel, prize winner of its 1870’s day, symbol of Greenwich Village, the Jefferson Market Library has been shrouded in a scaffolding skirt for going on 5 years, left to decay with no help in sight while we waste time, money and thought on a frivolous plan to move the fountain in Washington Square Park, NYU’s campus in all but legality.

To quote from Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman”:
“Attention must be paid” It must be paid.

Cynthia Crane Chair: Mulry Angle/West 11th St Block Association
“So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men.”
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
Voltaire 1694-1778