W. 13th St.

Voice of the W. 13th St. 100 Block Association, Inc., 155 W. 13th St., New York, N.Y. 10011 Issue No. 12 April 2005 congestion, noise and a ir pollution and cause neighborPresident's Message hood businesses to suffer serious losses in trade. We 2004 was a very active and successful year for our have been petitioning and attending meetings with ComAssociation, in large part due to the tireless efforts of our mittee Board 2, local politicians and City officials in order dedicated Board memto greatly restrict these bers. I can not say events. We see them as a enough about the nuisance, benefiting only Tues., April 12, 2005 8:00 P.M . generosity of spirit and business promoters and At the Markle Residence support they each have schlock vendors from displayed working for 123 W 13th Street outside the area and not the good of this block worthy groups in the 4th Floor Lounge and community. Those Community. Guest Speaker: Andrew Berman, Executive members, Alan Jacobs, Of course, the "Big Director, Greenwich Village Society for Judy Pesin, Ernie Knott, Dig" at 6th and West 13 is Historic Preservation. Robert Kittine, Dorothy still creating havoc for Topic: Stopping the Far West Village Megaliths Graham, Mary Perica businesses and residents of and Daphne Uviller our block. The Associadeserve the heartfelt thanks of each member of our Astion has been doing its best to continue monitoring its sociation. progress (or lack of it) with the Metropolitan TransportaRecently, our Association has been active in Greention Authority. (As of mid-March, it looks like MTA is wich Village Block Associations, an umbrella organization restoring our street, as promised.) spearheading many good causes, n i cluding curbing the Earlier in the year you may have read in the Villager spread of porn shops in the Village. newspaper that the Association had placed a plaque on Another problem greatly affecting the quality of life is the front of the Markle House dedicated to our late the inordinately large number of street fairs held in or very treasurer and community activist, Bill Borenstein; howclose to the Village. These fairs bring with them traffic

Spring Meeting:

PIX FROM A PARTY--Oct. 3, 2004
Thanks to Massimiliano Galeano of Gradisca

Pictured clockwise from left: Lou Borriello , Judge Rena Uviller, GaryTomei; The Awning; our handsome bartender; Deborah Wolf, Harriet Brand (background) and Prem Ramchandani; Judy Pesin, Addie Tomei, Alan McCutchan. Photos by Bob Kit-

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ever, due to the maliciousness of a misguided resident of the block the plaque was removed from its place on the building wall. Fortunately, after writing and meeting with officials of the Salvation Army the plaque has been restored, not on the wall, but in a place of honor for all to see, in the garden in front of the building. This year we have also lent our vigorous support to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation in its endeavor to landmark the Meatpacking District and the Far West Village to preserve the character of those areas, contiguous to ours, and to prevent their overdevelopment. I am also most happy to report that our first block social held at Gradisca on October 3, 2004 was a great success. We hope to continue this tradition at Gradisca and other restaurants on the block, if they are willing to participate. It has been an eventful year and it has been honor to be able to serve you during this time, and I hope to continue to do so in 2005. --GARY TOMEI

Adventures in Anti-Porn Land
Since December 6, 2003, we have lived with a porn shop on our block, Xcellent DVD, at 515 6th. Around this time last year, I put out the call to neighbors to make some noise about it. And many of you did. Thank you. Since porn shops seem to have popped up all over the Village and Chelsea, we linked up with others at the Greenwich Village Block Associations to see what could be done. We spoke at a forum with Mayor Bloomberg, who addressed the issue, and attended a meeting to discuss the porn issue with by Councilmembers Quinn and Gerson, as well as enforcement officers. I agreed to chair a task force on Village porn. We wrote a manifesto, the preamble of which states: "The residents and established merchants of Greenwich Village and its vicinity oppose the escalating presence of porn shops in our neighborhood. "The porn shops drive out community-based businesses and degrade this historic area noted for its unique literature, art, politics, lifestyles, and culture. The atmosphere that the shops create is one of noise, rowdiness, drugs, and crime, including prostitution. They contribute nothing positive to our community. Page 2

"Porn shops, especially those that blatantly display their merchandise in defiance of the public's sensibilities, are not compatible with the atmosphere we regard as essential for the village to remain a desirable residential neighborhood. "Therefore, as residents and merchants of Greenwich Village, we demand that the porn shops be strictly controlled and curtailed." I have, however, resigned as chair of the committee, because I ceased feeling as though the Village was specially targeted by the porn industry, stopped believing that our politicians are unwilling to act, and stopped feeling that the neighborhood was severely impacted (evidence: escalating real estate pages--see page 3). We've had significant enforcement of every available building code against Xcellent, and it has stopped displaying the most blatant materials in its windows. Our main stumbling block is a court decision, Ten's Cabaret v. City of New York, which has blocked enforcement of NYC's strict 2001 anti-porn zoning law. Xcellent porn girl Until this case works its way through all appeals, legislators are unwilling to enact legislation that would meet the objections of the Judge who decided Ten's Cabaret. His objections were based more on the lack of hearings before passage of the law, rather than on the content of the law itself. So we're in limbo right now. The task force was planning demonstrations and marches, but I stopped feeling that such activities would do any good. So I, along with the politicos and police, am waiting for the Appellate Division's decision in Ten's Cabaret . In the meantime, if you see displayed any pornographic material in the window of Xcellent, or if you can see pornographic material inside the store from the street, please report it to 3-1-1, or contact John Feinblatt, Criminal Justice Coordinator, Tel: 212-788-6810; e-mail: jfeinblatt@cityhall.nyc.gov. Just remember that sex toys are not porn, they are "marital aids" and are, under the current law, legal. --ALAN JACOBS

7th Avenue Cigar Store Being Sued
Reserva Dominicana Cigars, a cigar store located on 7th Avenue just south of 13th Street, is being sued by its upstairs neighbor. Liza Wolsky, a cancer survivor, says she's being smoked out of her sixth-floor apartment by patrons of the cigar store. Wolsky, who's suffering from a rare blood and i mmune-system disorder said that the offensive odors from Reserva Dominicana Cigars are more than just a nuisance. "Its a matter of life and death," she said. Already suffering from asthma and lung damage from chemotherapy treatments, she says the fumes "are killing me" -- and now she's filed a first-of-its-kind suit against the store to force it to either install a more effective filtration system or stop its customers from smoking inside. In its court papers, Reserva maintains that its filter is already stronger than necessary and that any smoke getting into Wolksy's apartment is likely coming from another neighbor or passersby on the street. Establishments such as Reserva Dominicana have become more popular ever since the New York smoking ban in bars and restaurants took effect.

Real Estate Update
Not even rising interest rates or the MTA's endless digging could subdue our sellers' market. Recent sales on our block included a single family townhouse for more than $6 million; 2 bedroom coops selling for $1.25 million, $799,000, and $590,000; and one-bedroom coops sold from $615,000 to $590,000. Studios sold in the mid-$300's to mid-$200's. Several coop units are about to close with prices of nearly $3 million for a large duplex with a garden; a one-bedroom unit in the $800,000's, and studios in the mid $300K's. The townhouse at 114 is or sale at $8 million. Through 2004, rental prices remained high. Studios rented from $1,475 to $1,705; townhouse rentals ranged from $2,450 for a one bedroom to $4,850 for a two bedroom triplex with garden, to a three bedroom duplex with garden for $5,500. The apartment buildings at 133 and 135 W. 13 are for sale. These buildings contain rent-controlled and rent-stabilized tenants, making them less desirable for a purchaser. The restaurant space on ground level has been vacant for a few years, and was always a difficult spot to turn a profit. Prices are $2.95M for 133, and $3.2M for 135..
(Above information provide by Association member Kitty Sorell, V.P., Corcoran Group, 212-539-4968.).

Neighborhood Beautification
Thirteenth Street, always a charming Village street, has gotten prettier. Many townhouses have had extensive facelifts and renovations. The Parks Department has begun to restore some of the trees that fell victim to blight or air pollution resulting from the continuing construction on the "Big Dig." A few more trees need to be replaced, but we are on the list. But spring is not far behind. The Bradford Pear and the Cherry Tree will bloom again. Front garden bulbs will brighten West 13th and we hope that our friendly construction crew will fold up their giant cranes and leave us in peace. Tree-tending tip: The soil around the base of our street trees should be on the same level as the sidewalk. Some well-meaning residents h ave piled up top soil and plants six inches or ten inches on top of the soil level. Topsoil should be dug into existing soil and then pounded down to soil level The poor trees are standing in a layer of wet frozen soil which eventually will rot the base of the tree bark and will kill the trees in a few years. Think of standing in a lternately ice-cold soil and then hot soil in bare feet up to your calves. How long could you survive? --DOROTHY GRAHAM

Tidbits: Congratulations to lifelong block resident Daphne Uviller and her husband, Sacha Spector, on the birth of their daughter, Talia, on Dec. 21. She was 6-3/4 lbs. . . . Farewell to beloved stores: Galileo on 7th Ave., Jon Vie and New World Coffee on 6th; and PC Mania on 14th (it was a great place to go when you couldn't put up with your grime-encrusted keyboard one second longer). . . .Most new stores are chain stores, but it still good to have a new Chipotle Burritos and Lenscrafters on 6th; Synergy Fitness, Foot Locker, and Golden Crust Caribbean Bakery on 14th; and a new papaya/hot dog joint at 14th & 7th.
Officers of the Block Association: Gary Tomei, President; Ernie Knott, First Vice-President; Judy Pesin, Second Vice-President; Robert Kittine, Secretary; Alan J. Jacobs, Treasurer. Steering committee includes: Officers plus Dorothy Graham (Beautification Committee chair); Mary Perica (At-Large). Newsletter published by Alan J. Jacobs, (212) 727-7462, or ajacobs@nyc.rr.com. Contributors: Gary Tomei, Robert Kittine, Dorothy Graham, Kitty Sorell, Bruce Meyer.

Our Literary Block
He was, wrote poet Claude McKay, “a tall figure . . . with long strides and distinguished by a flaming orange necktie, a mop of white hair and a grayish brown suit . . . good stuff, with an unstylish elegance.” The figure was Max Eastman: writer and publisher, espouser of radical causes and radical art as editor of the groundbreaking magazine The Masses (silenced by the U.S. government during World War I), enthusiastic bohemian and for decades a center of Village gravity. In 1918, Eastman, together with his elder sister Crystal, the pioneering feminist and founder of the ACLU, and a few others founded an aggressive new socialist journal, The Liberator, at 138 W. 13. In the years that followed, before Eastman lost control of The Liberator to the Communist Party, contributors included Ernest Hemingway, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Helen Keller, Edmund Wilson, Claude McKay and many more. Yet, remarkably, this important contribution to the literary and artistic legacy of the Village was not the most successful or distinguished journal established on the south side of the 100 block of W 13 in 1918. In July of that year, a literary review, The Dial, moved from Chicago to New York and into the brownstone at 152. The Dial would soon be recognized as America’s first great journal of the publishing arts – literature, graphic design, illustration and cartoons. In 1922, it published T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” for the first time in the United States. W.B. Yeats’ autobiography was serialized in its pages, and Herman Hesse was introduced to American readers. A skimming of merely the best-known of The Dial’s other contributors is breathtaking: Sherwood Anderson, Virginia Woolf, Van Wyck Brooks, Gertrude Stein, D.H. Lawrence, Bertrand Russell, John Dos Passos, Thomas Mann, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, E.M. Forster, H.L. Mencken, Archibald MacLeish and the poet Marianne Moore, who was the magazine’s last editor (it folded in 1929, a victim of the Great Depression). E.E. Cummings contributed both poetry and Page 4

sketches. Fellow “illustrators” included Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Jean Cocteau. A fascinating British web-site – www.bbk.ac.uk/english/pages/eking08 – offers a detailed look at a single issue of the The Dial, the July-December issue of 1922, with photographs and character sketches of the many contributors, including Eliot, Pound, Anderson, Moore and Lawrence. Sharing The Dial's address at No.152 for a time was yet another radical publication, The Freeman; founded as a kind of American version of London’s Spectator, it closed in 1924. Yet another literary connection to the block i nvolves the novelist Theodore 152, home of The Dial Dreiser, who chose 112 W. & The Freeman 13 as the address of Carrie Meeker and George Hurstwood in his indictment of urban materialism, Sister Carrie. “In education, literature, architecture, entertainment and dining, 13th St. achieved a reputation that Village writer Gorham Munson has called ‘Montparnassian,'" notes Terry Miller in his entertaining and well-illustrated Greenwich Village and How It Got That Way – a major source for this article. Today, restaurants – first drawn to 13th Street by the bohemians, the writers, the artists ever seeking cheap and comfortable quarters to sip coffee (and stronger stuff) and debate the issues of the moment – dominate commerce on the block. But one active publisher remains: Melcher Media, with a discreet brass plaque at 124 W. 13th, is described by its publicist as “a packager and publisher with more than 45 titles and 4.5 million books in print,” including specialized “waterproof” books and bestselling titles for MTV, Harley-Davidson, "Rent," and Sex and the City. Not exactly T.S. Eliot or even H.L. Mencken, but 13th Street is still in the game.--BRUCE MEYER

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