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Doggie Diaries | A Man and His Mutt

dogAlberto Reyes Sugar and Toasty

Meet Toasty and his mutt, Sugar. They sometimes hang out on the corner of Second Avenue and 10th Street at St. Mark’s Church. The church isn’t thrilled about the “crusties” who loiter outside, especially after a recent act of vandalism. But when the weather’s nice, they can be found sitting in a group, drinking, laughing, sleeping, fighting, and hanging out with their dogs.

“Sugar just makes me happy. I don’t know, she just does,” said Toasty as he petted Sugar’s head. He said he rescued her from the home of his ex-girlfriend’s mom in the Bronx six months ago. “She had him in a tiny cage, you can tell by the marks on her tail,” he said, pointing to an area on Sugar’s tail where the hair grew in patches because of scarring. Sugar looked up at Toasty and it seemed she was comfortable with her new owner. Read more…

A Word With Kate Millett, Activist, Artist, and Bowery Pioneer

millet 3Mary Reinholz Ms. Millett accepts a Pioneer
Award from activist Eleanor Pam.

Kate Millett, a feisty icon of radical feminism best known for her groundbreaking 1970 work “Sexual Politics,” described herself as “just a farmer” during the 24th Annual Lambda Literary Awards Monday night. She was honored, along with Armistead Maupin, as a Pioneer for her writing and activism on behalf of women, gays, mental patients and the elderly.

Ms. Millett had traveled to the event at CUNY’s Graduate Center from her farm in Poughkeepsie, a 30-acre spread that also serves as a women’s artist colony and a summer retreat from her digs in the East Village. The writer and artist moved to the Bowery in the late 1950s. She also spent several years in Japan, where she met her husband of two decades, the late sculptor Fumio Yoshimura Fumio Yoshimura, in 1965. After her first Bowery residence was razed, she and Mr. Yoshimura shared a two-floor loft at 295 Bowery, a late-19th century building once known as the infamous McGurk Suicide Hall, where several teenage prostitutes were said to have committed suicide by lacing their last drinks with carbolic acid.

A day after receiving her “Lammy,” Ms. Millet sat down for an interview at her fifth-floor loft on East Fourth Street, just off of the Bowery. The city relocated her to the 1,662-square-foot space, managed by the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association, in 2004 after she lost a protracted battle to retain her residence of 38 years. She spoke to The Local about life, art, sexual politics and the changes in her neighborhood.


You used to pay $500 a month when you lived at 295 Bowery and that was for two floors – how much is your rent here?


They upped it, but not a lot. It’s more than $500. We’re going to buy it. It’s supposed to be a [condo] but it never seems to become one. Read more…

Coca Crystal, a Wild Child Turned ‘Unconventional’ Mother

Coca Crystal from her Facebook pageRalph Ginsburg Coca Crystal

The first thing on Jackie Diamond’s to-do list: “2008 – Publish book.”

“You see I’m behind schedule,” the 64-year-old said of the unfinished work, her chest purring with laughter. “I got busy with cancer.”

Ms. Diamond is better known to students of the underground as Coca Crystal – a secretary, writer, and “Slum Goddess” for The East Village Other who went on to host a cult cable-access television show for nearly two decades.

In 2006, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. Since then, she’s had three operations to remove over a third of her lungs, undergone chemotherapy, and become a patient at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. The last time her cancer returned, her doctor told her it had spread to a part of her lung that was inoperable.

Her to-do list continues: “2010 – Movie based on my life released. Drew Barrymore stars as Coca Crystal.”

“And then the dignitaries and the party,” Ms. Crystal imagined. “And then I’ll live happily ever after. Finally.”

But the real reason she wants to publish her book isn’t the dream of a movie deal – it’s Gus. Read more…

Know Your Occupiers: The Union Square Protester Primer, Pt. 5

Who are the men and women seeking to occupy Union Square Park? So far we’ve met Karin Hofmann and Justin Stone-Diaz; Fathema Shadida and Tim “Chyno” Chin; John Eustor and Carlton Hall; and Ed Mortimer and James Pistocco. Today, in the final installment of The Local’s series, meet two more of your new neighbors.

Sam WoodJared Malsin

Name: Sam Wood
Age: 22
Originally from: Farmingdale, New York
Current residence: Full-time occupier. “I’ve spent a decent amount of nights here in Union Square.”
Job before joining occupy: Unemployed
Current job: Full-time occupier, unemployed Read more…

Know Your Occupiers: The Union Square Protester Primer, Pt. 4

Who are the men and women seeking to occupy Union Square Park? So far we’ve met Karin Hofmann and Justin Stone-Diaz; Fathema Shadida and Tim “Chyno” Chin; and John Eustor and Carlton Hall. Today, meet two more of your new neighbors.

Ed MortimerJared Malsin

Name: Ed Mortimer
Age: 56
Originally from: Connecticut
Current residence: Full-time occupier. Couch surfing. Occasionally sleeping on street.
Current job: Volunteer street medic
Looking for work? No. Dedicated to work with Occupy: “I’ve never worked so hard in my whole life.” Read more…

Know Your Occupiers: The Union Square Protester Primer, Pt. 3

Who are the men and women seeking to occupy Union Square Park? So far we’ve met Karin Hofmann and Justin Stone-Diaz as well as Fathema Shadida and Tim “Chyno” Chin. Today, meet two more of your new neighbors.

John EustorJared Malsin

Name: John Eustor
Age: 46
Originally from: Queens
Current residence: Was a full time occupier at Zuccotti Park, currently staying in New Jersey.
Current job: Unemployed computer programmer
Looking for work? “I’ve been looking for work, yeah, but I’m looking for work that is not in that corporate mindset. I worked in pharmaceuticals, banking. I worked on Wall Street for seven years. I worked for all these different kind of industries and they’re all the same.” Read more…

Know Your Occupiers: The Union Square Protester Primer, Pt. 2

Who are the men and women seeking to occupy Union Square Park? Yesterday we met Fathema Shadida and Tim “Chyno” Chin. Today, meet two more of your new neighbors. 

Karin HofmannJared Malsin

Name: Karin Hofmann
Age: 69
Originally from: Germany. Emigrated to the Bronx at age 12.
Current residence: East 12th Street
Current job: Retired
Ideology: “Definitely a Liberal, and I say it proudly.” Read more…

Know Your Occupiers: The Union Square Protester Primer

Fathema ShadidaJared Malsin Fathema Shadida in Union Square Park

Since members of the Occupy Wall Street movement launched their attempted occupation of Union Square three weeks ago, the protesters have engaged in a nightly tug-o-war with police. The occupiers have responded to the nightly closure of Union Square Park and arrests with rap battles, sleep-ins and dangling donuts on strings.

But who are the men and women seeking to occupy the square? In hopes of learning more about our new neighbors (some of them old neighbors, actually), The Local spoke with 10 core activists, all of whom have spent at least one night sleeping on the edge of Union Square, and all of whom are dedicating their days to the new protest camp. Here are the vitals on two of them, with more to come every day this week.

Name: Fathema Shadida
Age: 57
Originally from: Sahara, Egypt
Current residence: Brooklyn
Job before joining occupy: New York City Parks Enforcement Patrol Officer Read more…

East Village Love Story: Chris and Dan

This Valentine’s Day, The Local is celebrating East Village couples. We’ve heard the stories of Doug and Bryan, James and Veronica, and Jimmy and Lexi. Today: meet Chris and Dan.

In 2007, Daniel Altman began dating his boss, jewelry designer and East Village resident Chris Habana. He worked as Chris’s assistant (and eventually moved in with him) during the two years they were a couple. Watch The Local’s video to hear how the old adage about mixing business with pleasure eventually proved true, and why Dan, 27, decided to keep working with Chris, 37, after their romantic relationship faded.

On St. Marks, a Record Vendor Who Toured The World Behind a Disco Hit

Joe BarbosaSuzanne Rozdeba Joey Barbosa

In November, Andrea Truden, the adult-film actress turned singer who, as Andrea True, had a disco hit with “More, More, More,” died at the age of 68. She left no survivors, but on St. Marks Place, her musical legacy lives on in the form of Joe Barbosa, who toured the world with her as part of her backing band, the Andrea True Connection.

For years, Mr. Barbosa has sold vinyl outside of Rockit Scientist Records, first in front of the store’s former location on Carmine Street and for the past several years, on the St. Marks Place strip. Passersby who see him hawking records next to a sign that reads “Joey’s Vinyl” have no idea that he himself has a place in music history.

Mr. Barbosa, 61, began playing guitar in the ’60s. In 1976, at the age of 26, he was living in his parents’ apartment in Washington Heights and playing in a barroom cover band when Ms. Truden’s manager, through a mutual acquaintance, recruited him to play in her touring band. At the time, “More, More, More,” with its hook of “how do you like it?”, hadn’t yet risen to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“When we first auditioned for her, it was going up the charts and her manager said this was going to be a big hit,” said Mr. Barbosa. “Andrea wasn’t much of a showperson, so she hired four dancers that had all these disco moves to make it into a disco show. We traveled all over the country.” Read more…

Christina Tosi’s East Village

Christina TosiPhoto courtesy Christina Tosi

We wouldn’t expect anything short of an inspired list from the woman who has introduced “crack pie” and “cereal milk” to a passionate fan base in the East Village and beyond, and happily Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar does not disappoint. The pastry chef with a Willy Wonka imagination has worked in the East Village for over five years, and appreciates what she describes as the neighborhood’s “open mind and ‘don’t take yourself so seriously’ approach to things.” It’s a perfect philosophy for Tosi’s unexpected approach to desserts, which will soon be revealed in her first cookbook, “Momofuku Milk Bar,” out in October.

“I hope ours are recipes that carry people through bake sales, sleepovers and celebrations for years,” explains Tosi via email on a typically busy day in the kitchen. We certainly wouldn’t mind seeing a salty pretzel-studded Compost Cookie at the local potluck. In the meantime, on to Tosi’s favorites! Read more…

Alain Levitt’s East Village

Alain Leavitt, BubblesLeigh LedareThanks for the help, Mr. Levitt.

He may have started out in Los Angeles, but musician Alain Levitt, one half of NYC synth-pop duo Bubbles, has called the East Village home for a solid decade. “The neighborhood has changed quite a bit,” he muses via e-mail in between recording sessions. “There’s good coffee now, some nice restaurants and lots and lots of college kids.” Having recently wrapped a “mini East Coast tour” with Gang Gang Dance, he’ll likely see more of those college kids when he hits the road again. For the moment, however, he found time to tell us about his favorite local hangs.

Read more…

Steve Simpson

Steve Simpson photographed by John GalaydaJohn Galayda Steve Simpson.

Just last month, vendors celebrated the re-opening of the Mary Help of Christians weekend flea market on 11th Street and Avenue A.

Among the happiest was vendor Steve Simpson, who until the market’s closure in 2006, had been “bringin’ the goods” for more than a decade. “Where do you get all of your stuff from?” we asked. Some are bought, he replied, some are donated, some even come from estate sales.

Amid an ever-changing array of goods on Mr. Simpson’s table, music is one constant. Hat on backward, holding his red, white, and blue guitar, Mr. Simpson plays while being backed by tracks on an old boombox. He writes and records his own music and finds the market a great place to sell his CDs and whatever other interesting commodities he finds along the way. — Gabbi Lewin