Charges Reduced Against Reverend Billy and Choir Director For Toad Hat-Wearing Chase Bank Protest

Photo by Kim Fraczek; image via Facebook.
Reverend Billy (white coat, Elvis hair) and Luckett (blue shirt) at a press conference with liberty-loving puppets after this morning's hearing.
In September, longtime New York activist Reverend Billy and his Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, led by choir director Nehemiah Luckett, went into a Chase Bank in midtown and made a little music. The two led a choir of eight in a musical protest against mountaintop removal, a controversial form of coal-mining that Chase helps finance. The choir sang a song, then Reverend Billy preached a sermon on Chase's fondness for fossil fuel investments. The whole thing lasted about 15 minutes, according to the choir, who had donned fetching yellow toad hats during the performance.

For their trouble, as we told you at the time, Luckett and Reverend Billy (real name William Talen) were charged with rioting in the second degree, menacing in the third degree, unlawful assembly, and two counts of disorderly conduct. The rioting and the menacing both carried a possible punishment of one year in prison. But in a hearing in Manhattan Criminal Court Monday morning, those charges were greatly reduced. According to the Manhattan District Attorney's office, the prosecution reviewed the footage and decided that the whole thing looked more like a musical protest than a riot.

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"He Said They Would Be Killed in Iran": The Woman Who Videotaped the F Train Assault

The Voice was able to reach the woman behind the video showing a pretty stunning display of old-world homophobia and some cut-and-dry assault on the F train. (We are withholding her name at her request for safety's sake, since the assailants haven't been named.) We were also able to get original, unedited video of the event, which shows one of the assailants lunging for the camerawoman as she taped them. Aw, is pookie a wittew camewa shy?

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Carlos Cancel Saves Second Drunk Man on Subway Tracks

An essential New York City question is this: What would you do if someone fell on the subway tracks in front of you? Jump in and save the person? Make a call? It's a difficult question for most of us, but if previous actions are any indication, one that Carlos Cancel can answer in a heartbeat. The doorman from the Bronx has now saved two drunk men after they have fallen onto the tracks, the Daily News reports. Early Friday morning Cancel was waiting for an uptown 2 train at the 72nd Street station when he jumped to saved a stumbling man who fell "face-first." The man weighed about 10 pounds more than Cancel, and was four inches taller. "I scooped him up like a baby, like cradling him with his head on my arm and supporting his legs," Cancel told the Daily News. "And I swung him really hard -- I basically threw him up onto the platform." In 1992 Cancel performed a similar feat 34th Street. Wow, just wow. Kudos. [NYDN]

Bystanders Lift Car Off Pinned Harlem Boy

Four people in Manhattan yesterday saved a life and gained a story they'll likely tell for the rest of their lives when they helped lift a Honda Civic off of a little boy stuck underneath. Jaden Torres, either 9- or 10-years-old depending on who you believe, was playing in Harlem's Grant Houses at around 7:30 p.m. when he ran across the street and was hit by a taxi, the impact of which jammed him under the bumper of a parked car. "He had a pulse," said a pediatrician who helped Torres at the scene, "but he was completely unresponsive." Then a group of strangers went into hero mode. "I wanted to talk to him just so he knew someone was there," said one woman who stood by as the car was lifted. Torress was sent to Harlem Hospital in stable condition. [NYDN, NYP]

Grandpa Solves Crime With Amateur Detective Skills

Here's a feel-good story about the olds fighting back against the youngs with wisdom and moxie. As the New York Post tells it, 83-year-old John McGinnis noticed thousands of dollars had gone missing from a drawer in his room at a Brooklyn senior citizens' home. So he did a little Sherlock-work, putting a folded business card between the drawer and the dresser. His 21-year-old attendant was busted when she opened the drawer and the telltale card fell to the floor. The money quote: "We went outside, and I told her, 'You're a little crook and you stole my money!' " McGinnis said. (We hear this technique also works with a bit of Scotch tape.) [NYP]

Director Sidney Lumet Dies at 86

Sidney Lumet, the acclaimed director of such classics as Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and Network, died this morning in New York at the age of 86. His stepdaughter, Leslie Gimbel, told the New York Times that the cause was lymphoma. His filmmaking career was bookended by 1957's 12 Angry Men and 2007's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead.

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Ousted from Times Square, Local Hero Returns to Jersey Shore to Execute "Snooki-in-a-Ball"

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Rest easy, friends, because our dear, displaced Snooki has found a home for New Years Eve! After being ousted from the Times Square ceremony in which she'd been "supposed to" drop in the ball "like a friggin' hampster," her homeland has taken her in again. Via the New York Times Arts Beat, she'll be involved in "a New Year's Eve stunt" in the Jersey Shore's very own Seaside Heights, produced by MTV, of course.

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Big Questions via Gchat: Woman Falls on Train Tracks, Daily News Scores Cell Phone Pic

Another person fell onto the subway tracks in New York City yesterday. This time, a heroic train operator avoided tragedy, slamming on the breaks at the Fifth Ave. and 59th St. station just before hitting the woman. This story is on the cover of Sunday's Daily News. It is an amazing story! But some questions remain -- too much for any one blogger -- so we brought in a special guest to work through the issues at hand. Runnin' Scared, please welcome New York weekend warrior Mike Vilensky:

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All-star benefit for proto-Fug Tuli Kupferberg in Brooklyn

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On January 22, St. Ann's Warehouse will be hosting a benefit concert to help pay medical expenses for Tuli Kupferberg, the anti-war poet and all around wiseass who co-founded local heroes the Fugs.

Whether because of their political activism (Kupferberg was arrested trying to levitate the Pentagon, which earned him a spot in Norman Mailer's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Armies of the Night), or because of top 40-unfriendly songs like "Coca-Cola Douche," the Fugs didn't spend a lot of time on Ed Sullivan. They were a huge influence on what later became indie music, as well as the work of icons Frank Zappa and the Velvet Underground. He was in this space as recently as last Monday, when Tony's Clip Jobs revisited a happening in 1966 Tompkins Square Park.

Kupferberg suffered two strokes last year, which left him, at 86, mostly blind and in need of nursing which isn't covered by Medicare.

So far, Lou Reed, Philip Glass, John Zorn, Richard Belzer, Sonic Youth, members of the Holy Modal Rounders and the Fugs are scheduled to play. Tickets are $75-$125 and are available here, or call (718) 254.8779.

Crazy Yankee Chick: "WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!"

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I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.

Well, I'm finally just getting out of bed, after celebrating the World Series Championship of the New York Yankees up until about 7am. None of us wanted the night to end.

Ball game over. World Series over. Baseball season over. Listening to asinine hating anti-fans drop the "who's won more in this century" over. Having to hear people say they "can't wait til the Yankees choke" over.

First year at new stadium over.

Nine years without a ring over.

Ball game over.

The Yankees win. The Yankees win!

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