Leonard Nimoy Represented the Best of Humanity

Nimoy in a publicity still for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock .
Leonard Nimoy has died at the age of 83. Both on camera and off, he exemplified the best of what Star Trek, and thus humanity, could represent.

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Lead Contamination Leads to Another Lawsuit Against Notorious NYC Landlord

Categories: Real Estate

Katie Toth, the Village Voice
113 Stanton Street
Residents of 113 Stanton Street are suing oft-embattled landlord Samy Mahfar for harassment, arguing that by using unsafe construction tactics, Mahfar is — stop us if you've heard this one before — pressuring them to move out of their rent-stabilized apartments and making their lives a nightmare.

How much of a nightmare are we talking? Their apartment complex was said to be filled with more than 200-times the legal amount of lead.

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Here's That Non-Jewish 2015 Annie Hall Remake the World's Been Waiting For

Categories: Film and TV

Maybe he needed the eggs.

That's our best guess as to what's going on in this confounding — but sometimes funny — video that just turned up online. Brooklyn-based filmmaker J.D. Oxblood has posted the trailer to an unfinished romantic comedy he's calling #AnnieHall, a Brooklyn-based, present-day find-and-replace riff on Woody Allen's epochal 1977 film.

In this iteration, Annie Hall is Minnie Wohl, a "nice Yeshiva girl" who resists being dragged by her lover to see The Battle of Algiers, Oxblood's replacement for The Sorrow and the Pity. Allen's Alvy Singer, meanwhile, is now a blond goy, a comedy writer whose paranoia that the world's prejudiced against him now has a tinge of Tea Party dada: Rather than insist that he was subjected to the question "Jew eat?" this tanned schlemiel carps that a Pakistani called him "Whitey."

Yes, this cover/adaptation/whatever changes Annie Hall around to re-tell the story from a perspective we just never get to hear in our society: a Brooklyn dude who's into Woody Allen movies. But it's easy to carp. What Oxblood has whipped up is fascinating, and it offers some legitimate laughs:

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Fueled by Industry Funding, Group Protests State E-Cig Tax

Jon Campbell
Doctor Gilbert Ross speaks at a rally against new taxes on e-cigarettes.
New York State is considering higher taxes and more restrictions on e-cigarettes, and at least one group is not taking the move lying down.

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Charter Schools CEO Incorporates Soccer Just as NYC FC Looks to City's Youth Programs

Photo courtesy Success Academy
Boris Bozic and his students
Success Academy Charter Schools, which has won praise for its students' academic achievements, has quietly launched a soccer program after recruiting a coach from one of Manhattan's most successful youth teams.

The timing is delicious: With New York City FC making its Major League Soccer debut on March 15 at Yankee Stadium — and, in the process, becoming the latest professional team in the Tri-State region (joining the Red Bulls and their newly established USL Pro squad, Red Bulls II, as well as the New York Cosmos) — fĂștbol is having its latest moment in New York. Success Academy is hoping for the same high level of success on the soccer field as it gets in the classroom.

Which might make Eva Moskowitz the most important soccer mom in the city.

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Sergeants Union Head and NYC Mayor Side-Hug, Make Up

Categories: Cops, Politics
Mayor Bill de Blasio has forged a new bond with the dude who once called him a "nincompoop."

The mayor and Sergeants Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins have agreed on a roughly $252.1 million contract for the policemen that begins retroactively in 2011. The seven-year agreement, which will end in 2018, includes an immediate 4 percent raise. And it brings more than three-quarters of the city workforce under a contract, including all of New York City's police unions — except for the largest one, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, run by notorious de Blasio–hater Patrick Lynch.

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The Education of David Carr

Photo by Brian Lambert
David Carr
In the early 1980s, decades before David Carr became David Carr — the New York Times' authority on all things media, brash star of the documentary Page One, author of the drug-fueled memoir The Night of the Gun — he was an ambitious journalism student who had to talk his way into reporting classes at the University of Minnesota because he couldn't pass the 40-words-per-minute typing test. Over the next fifteen years, Carr, who died tragically of lung cancer in the Times' office February 12, became a Minneapolis institution as a reporter and editor of the Twin Cities Reader, an alternative weekly that competed fiercely with City Pages until it shut down in 1997.

As a reporter, Carr brazenly investigated the darkest corners of the city: police brutality on the North Side, murders in gangland, and downtown politics. He had the gift of sight — the ability to see clearly the stories others could not — and the power of synthesis that allowed him to churn out long, complicated stories in one sitting at a typewriter. Carr influenced and later hired many young talented journalists, some of whom would go on to be among the best known in the Twin Cities.

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Reverend Billy Talen Appears in Court, Rejects Plea Deal, and Now Heads to Trial

Katie Toth, Village Voice
Wylie Stecklow, right, says the Manhattan district attorney's demand that Reverend Billy (left) avoid arrest for six months is "harassment."
Earth-worshipping, honeybee-loving professional rabble-rouser "Reverend Billy" Talen is headed to trial.

At an appearance at Manhattan Criminal Court on February 26, in front of Judge Ann Scherzer, Assistant District Attorney Gabriel Hippolyte requested an "ACD," or adjournment to contemplate dismissal, for the oft-arrested Earth-loving activist. Talen faced charges of disorderly conduct and obstructing government administration stemming from a January anti-racism protest at Grand Central Terminal.

Adjournments to contemplate dismissal involve setting aside the case for six months. As long as the defendant does not get arrested in that time, then the case is dismissed and sealed and the defendant has no criminal record. Sometimes the rulings also include a requirement to perform community service.

In other words, these are pretty cushy deals for most people.

But Talen, a professional activist and performer who has been arrested more than 50 times, is not most people.

See also:
Reverend Billy Arrested in Grand Central

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Servers Respond to Their $2.50 Raise: 'Cool'

Categories: Culture, Food

Katie Toth for the Village Voice
Joe O'Dea, 54, has been working at Jim Brady's Irish Pub for twenty years. He's "undecided" about the tipped minimum wage increase slated for December 2015.
Activists are celebrating the rise of New York State's minimum tipped wage, from $5 to $7.50 an hour, as a major victory.

But in the classic hipster style this city — Brooklyn in particular — has made famous, bartenders and servers in the upscale restaurants and bars of New York reacted with a modest range of emotions, from pleasant surprise to chill ambivalence.

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The Aggressively Freaky 'Mr. Lower East Side' Pageant Is Forced to Brooklyn

Photo by Jason Speakman for the Village Voice
Claude Debris, center, in the houndstooth suit, was crowned Mr. Lower East Side 2015 this week at a bar in Brooklyn. "The Lower East Side is a state of mind," says the pageant's organizer.
After fifteen years of celebrating an anti-pageant featuring nudity, bizarre genitalia-related talent shows, and an all-night bacchanal in Manhattan, the annual Mr. Lower East Side was moved to Brooklyn this year.

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Residents Brave (Seriously) Bitter Cold to Fight to Preserve Historic Brooklyn Bank Building

Categories: Real Estate

Katie Toth, Village Voice
Arthur Warren, who has lived in East New York since childhood, says the neighborhood needs more youth programs, not a medical center: "We don't have a place for our kids to go."
On February 24, about eight East New York residents stood on a post-industrial street corner, bundled in boots and scarves as they braved the brutal minus-6-degree wind chill (the actual temperature was a balmy 19 degrees) to protest the demolition of an iconic neighborhood bank, which currently sits at 91 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The four-story building, formerly home to the East New York Savings Bank, was built in 1889 in the Renaissance Revival style by respected American architect Richard Upjohn Jr. It's one of the few tall buildings in the mostly low-density neighborhood. And community members like Chris Banks, director of East New York United Concerned Citizens, say it's a local treasure.

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New York's Bravest Is Trans FDNY Firefighter Brooke Guinan

Photo by Celeste Sloman for the Village Voice
"I couldn't get the voices out of my head of people telling me I'll never be a woman."
"The world doesn't have language to actively allow me to identify myself."

Leaning over the kitchen countertop in her two-bedroom apartment in Queens, Brooke Guinan tries to explain, via four horizontal lines she has plotted on a piece of paper, how the notion of gender is far more complex than the two extremes of "male" and "female." The lines represent four continuums: biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.

"I don't have a sexuality!" Guinan exclaims. "How does the world define a woman who was born male who likes men? What is the sexuality for that? You could say I was gay, but I don't identify as male. Trans is my gender identity. 'Transgender' is about my gender; it has nothing to do with my sexuality.

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Podcast: Winners, Awkward Moments, and Losers From the 2015 Oscars

Categories: Film and TV

Screenshot from Oscars red-carpet coverage on ABC
Griffith and Johnson during an awkward moment on the red carpet
There was an awkward moment between Fifty Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson and her mom, Melanie Griffith, on the red carpet before the Oscars on Sunday. But the world got to see Johnson's impressive talent for pretending uncomfortable situations don't seem to bother her (see also: Fifty Shades of Grey). It was an eventful Oscars, and that was only the start. Your Voice Film Club hosts Amy Nicholson, Alan Scherstuhl, and Stephanie Zacharek break down the 2015 Oscars winners and losers, while Amy and Stephanie unveil their all-time favorite Oscar dresses. Plus, Amy tells us about how Channing Tatum is going to blow our minds in the new Coen Brothers movie, Hail, Caesar! As always, send mail to filmpod@villagevoice.com and follow us on the Twitter at @voicefilmclub. Read all of our movie reviews, interviews, and news over at villagevoice.com/movies.

[Subscribe to the Voice Film Club podcast on iTunes]

These People Take Their 'First Editions' of the Iliad Very Seriously

Categories: Books, Culture

"This is a...this is a first edition?"
In the latest Jennifer Lopez hate-watch masterpiece, The Boy Next Door, she plays a classics teacher who is seduced by her strapping young student, played by Ryan Guzman. In one particularly unfortunate scene, he comes by her desk to give her a Victorian-era copy of Homer's ancient oral epic the Iliad that he bought "for a buck at a garage sale"; she gasps, "Is this — a first edition?!"

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After Taxi Driver Allegedly Assaults Pregnant Woman, She Gives Birth Prematurely

Categories: Crime

Photo credit: vikwaters via Compfight cc
Leslie Cooper says she was "body slammed" by an irate cabbie, and went into preterm labor soon after.
Leslie Cooper says she was just trying to catch a ride home from work when an assault by a cab driver led to the terrifying preterm delivery of her baby daughter.

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Haggling in the Hallways of NYC Housing Court Is Hard If You Don't Speak English

Categories: Real Estate

Katie Toth, Village Voice
New York City comptroller Scott Stringer stands with advocates Monday outside Brooklyn Housing Court to demand more multilingual legal information from the state.
Tenants who face their landlords in housing court go up against experienced attorneys in the courtroom and when haggling in the hallways. Now imagine waging that battle without knowing what anyone is talking about.

That's what Maria Cortes, 62, dealt with when her landlords tried to evict her after she refused to accept a buyout in exchange for leaving her Brooklyn apartment.

"It's very frustrating to talk to someone and know they don't understand you," says Cortes, who switches between fragmented English and speaking Spanish through a translator. "It was difficult, it was very difficult."

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Hippies Say Goodbye to UWS Sculpture With Interpretive Dance, Yoga Ceremony

Categories: Art, Culture

Courtesy Isadora Wilkenfeld
Visitors flocked to visit Phoenix in the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine on February 19. The sculpture's year-long run will soon come to a close.
Yoga in New York is not an unusual activity.

But yoga in chairs? In a 123-year-old Episcopal church? Under a giant, turquoise-lit sculpture of a floating pair of birds? That doesn't happen every day.

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Bill to 'Ban Machetes' in New York Won't Actually Ban Machetes at All

Categories: Courts

Photo credit: elbragon via Compfight cc
Jungle explorers, fear not — your machete is safe.
New York state senator Tony Avella set off something of a conservative freakout this week when he proposed new regulations on machetes in New York.

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These Two Ladies Started a 'Pin-Up School' to Unleash Your Inner Bettie Page

Courtesy of Brooklyn Pin Up School
Renee DiDio, right, and Anna Patin want to get you pinned.
Aside from the tattoo sleeves and profanity-laced speech, Renee DiDio is the granddaughter your Nana always wanted: Her A-line dress falls just below her pantyhosed knee, and her hair is carefully coiffed into a classic bob. Her scarlet lipstick matches her shoes, and her handbag has a crisp clasp from which, one imagines, she might daintily extract an embroidered handkerchief.

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Thirty Things to Do in New York City Before You Turn 30

Maro Hagopian for the Village Voice
New York is the best and worst place to be young — you're perpetually broke, sleep-deprived, and starving, yet you'll never have more fun in your life. The city is a fickle mistress, though, and soon your favorite places will be overrun with early-twentysomething amateurs (ugh, you were never like those embarrassing n00bs) and emptying your Netflix queue will be the new "staying out till dawn." Here's a list of the things you should tackle before both your body — and your favorite bars — shut down completely.

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