Henry Hill, Goodfellas Gangster, on Art, the Witness Protection Program, and His Adult Circumcision

via Hill's eBay account
Henry Hill with Ray Liotta
Henry Hill was best known by Ray Liotta's face. An East New York native famously mentored by the Lucchese crime family, Hill was the Lufthansa-heisting mobster whose 1986 memoir, the Nicholas-Pileggi-shaped Wiseguy, served as the inspiration for Martin Scorsese's modern classic Goodfellas. As TMZ reported last night, Hill died yesterday in Los Angeles at the age of 69.

Hill's life consisted of well-documented involvements with the dirty businesses of narcotics, extortion, robbery, and one major point-shaving college-basketball scandal. Eventually he became an FBI informant and entered the Witness Protection Program until he was expelled for, in his words, "being a Goodfella." He then lived openly under his real name, relocating to Topanga County, becoming a recurring guest on Howard Stern, and hawking his paintings through an eBay store. In 2007, the enterprising ex-con opened a mob-themed restaurant in West Haven, Connecticut called Wiseguys. (An attic fire mysteriously broke out shortly after the establishment opened.)

That same year, the Voice spoke with the self-described "bullshit artist" about spaghetti sauce, his artistic muse ("whatever goes through my sick, fuckin' mind"), his Witness Protection Program dismissal, and "learning to fuck again" after his late-life circumcision. Reprinted below is an edited version of Michael Clancy's Runnin' Scared dialogue with the legendary gangster.

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Q&A: Director Lorca Peress On the World Premie of The Image Maker At Queens College

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Maurice Peress, conductor, and Lorca Peress, director
Theater director Lorca Peress is directing two one act operas opening this weekend at Queen College's Goldstein Theater. My Kinsman, Major Molineau (making its New York premiere) and The Image Maker (making its world premiere) were both composed by Bruce Saylor and are conducted by Ms. Peress's father Maurice Peress, the legendary conductor and author of Dvorak to Duke Ellington: A Conductor Explores America's Music and Its African American Roots . (When we covered it for Sound of the City, we had the pleasure of having Maestro Peres as our date at the world premiere of Philip Glass's Symphony No. 9 in Carnegie Hall last January, where he had once worked as Leonard Bernstein's assistant.)

We interviewed Ms. Peress over the phone last week about the new pieces, working with her dad, and creating new work at Queens College.

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Grace Lee Boggs, Nonagenarian Activist, Speaking At The New School Tonight

Grace Lee Boggs, the 96-year-old political activist from Detroit, will be speaking at the New School tonight. The Voice had the chance to interview Boggs on Friday and will be posting our interview next week. Though confined to a wheelchair, the nonagenarian activist keeps up a busy work and travel schedule. Our chat with Boggs, who was born "two years before the Russian revolution," was extremely revelatory and had several surprising gems, including:

* Boggs' belief that the late Manning Marable's Malcolm X, which just won the Pulitzer last week, is "a terrible biography!" (Boggs once tried unsuccessfully to get Malcolm X to run for the U.S. Senate from Detroit.)

* One of the biggest problems facing activists today is "the absolute failure of imagination of the left."

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Q&A With David Rees, Cartoonist and Pencil-Sharpener Extraordinaire

Rees, David © Meredith Heuer.
David Rees is no stranger to paper. As a cartoonist for Rolling Stone and other publications, he won widespread acclaim (and criticism) for his politically charged "Get Your War On" strip, which visualized, in comic form, the intense spectrum emotions felt throughout the Bush years. He is also the self-proclaimed "hottest blogger on the planet." Now, he's onto a bigger project and this one involves his own drawing device: the pencil.

Last July, Rees started an "artisanal pencil-sharpening" business. For $15 or so, customers could send him their pencils for a quick touch-up from the famed cartoonist. From there on out, Rees dedicated his time to the lead-filled field of study and, as of last week, his book, How to Sharpen Pencils: A Practical and Theoretical Treatise on the Craft of Pencil-Sharpening, can be found on bookstore shelves everywhere.

His tour for the book will end May 18th in Brooklyn at the Public Assembly, with guest star and the book's foreward author, comedian John Hodgman. Runnin' Scared sat down with the cartoonist-turned-pencil-author to find out more about the ins and outs of the 'artisanal' craft, his career in cartoons and what will make people laugh in this upcoming Presidential election:
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Met Director Thomas Campbell Talks The Museum's New Ad Campaign, Celebrities And Social Media

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Have you ever wondered what Alex Rodriguez's favorite works of art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art are? Would you have guessed they include a Manet, a Thomas Eakins, a 10th-11th century Sicán funerary mask and a Rauschenberg among others? Well, that's what the museum's newest ad campaign with the theme "My Met" shares, in addition to revealing the tastes of other celebrities like Claire Danes, Marc Jacobs, Carmelo and La La Anthony, Hugh Jackman, Zaha Hadid and Seth Meyers. The campaign, which debuted in the New York Times March 15, also features an interactive aspect in which people can highlight their own preferences in the collection answering the question "What's Your Met?" Runnin' Scared got a chance to speak with the Met's Director Thomas Campbell about the campaign, the choice of celebrities and social media.

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D*Face Talks About The Love, Loss And Public Interaction In His NYC Murals

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Jason Lewis
Last weekend we brought your attention to RETNA's mural on Bowery and Houston, but in the week that has past most of the city's artistic focus has been off the streets and into the various fairs participating in Armory Arts Week. But that's not the case for British street artist D*Face who took to SoHo and Brooklyn this week to construct three large-scale murals. Though not totally isolated from the week's festivities -- D*Face's work is being shown by the Corey Helford Gallery at the SCOPE New York Art Show -- the artist explained why he relishes the opportunity to paint in the open and engage with a broad audience, beyond just those that might choose to go to an art fair.

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Milton Glaser on New Yorkers: 'For Better or Worse You're Here, and Doomed to Be Here'

Courtesy Milton Glaser
Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Milton Glaser, the 82-year-old graphic designer behind, to name just a few, the "I Love New York" logo, the DC Comics "DC bullet" logo, the famous Bob Dylan poster, and, of course, New York Magazine, which he founded with Clay Felker in 1968, for my article in this week's issue of the Voice, "How to Be a New Yorker."

Glaser spoke of the early years of New York Magazine and revealed his amazement over the success of his "I Love New York" logo, which he did for free in 1977. (Hilariously or not, the state came after him for copyright violation when he did "I Love New York More Than Ever" after 9/11.) He also shared what he thinks it means to be a New Yorker -- and why this is the only place for "real New Yorkers" to live.

Our interview, after the jump.

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Sucklord Gets Kicked Off Work of Art, Releases Self-Mocking Jerk of Art Action Figure

Last night, the gallery world's Top Chef eliminated our man Sucklord, the Chinatown-based bootleg toymaker we splashed on the Village Voice cover in September. Throughout the course of the first six episodes, the Sucklord was the reality competition's clear breakout personality: the Sucklord got the most airtime, the most character development, the most massaged subplots, the most televised quotes about "balls," and even a chance to spraypaint China Chow's (clothed) breasts.

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Q&A: Chicago Artist Michael Tewz on His Work of Art Elimination, His Buddy Sucklord

Tewz on Work of Art

One of the more intriguing aspects of Work of Art, the BRAVO reality show we've been following, is that the show's producers chose a handful of cast members who'd already had a presence in the world, whose self-propelled careers could exist apart from the reality-television lens. Along with Sucklord, who's semi-miraculously managed to survive four rounds, there's also Tewz 1, an accomplished street artist, painter, musician, urban explorer, printmaker (and a lot more) from Chicago whose work tends to get lumped into the lowbrow-art genre. Last week's episode saw Tewz's dismissal from the contest, along with Sucklord emotionally defending his pal's piece before the judge firing squad. (In true Sucklish: "I think this thing has balls!") We spoke with Tewz about making a friend cry, his pal Sucklord, and how Work of Art was a little like jail.

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Ugo Nonis on His Work of Art Elimination: "I Don't Think Keith Haring Owns Lines"

Andrew Eccles/Bravo
Ugo goes bye-bye

Last week on the season premiere of the BRAVO reality show Work of Art, the first contestant eliminated was Ugo Nonis, a tall, dark, and handsome Frenchman whose thick-lined pop-art squiggles the judges' repeatedly derided as aping Keith Haring. "They say good artists borrow and great artists steal," offered gallery owner Bill Powers. "This feels like something borrowed." Tonight, the second episode airs at 9pm, and stars Voice cover subjects Sucklord and Michelle Matson.

We spoke to Ugo about what it was like to be the first man eliminated, the Keith Haring comparisons, and his roommate Sucklord.

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