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The Day | The Final Days of Mars Bar

Phillip Kalantzis Cope

Good morning, East Village.

With the days numbered for 11-17 Second Avenue — perhaps better known as the site of Mars Bar — The Times published an in-depth piece Sunday recalling the history of the block and the lives of the residents who lived there. And, in case you missed it, The Local’s Ian Duncan offered an investigative report Friday about the developer of the site, which is home to the iconic Mars Bar.

The Women’s World Cup wrapped up last night, and though Team U.S.A. lost in the final in penalty kicks, it did not stop fans, and CNN, from spending the day at Zum Schneider.

Some new breakfast options will line 14th Street, EV Grieve reports, including an International House of Pancakes and the relocation of the coffee and smoothie bar, Xoom. And just a couple blocks away, The Bean will be opening a new location on Broadway and 12th Street, just across the street from Strand Book Store.

And DNAinfo tells us that a new mural honoring women’s suffrage is planned for the same Avenue C site where a controversial mural featuring President Obama once stood.

Locals Join Albany Rent Law Protest

Albany Rent Law Rally 1Khristopher J. Brooks Protesters at the rally.

ALBANY — Hundreds of New York City residents, including 33 from the East Village, converged on the state Capitol Building Monday trying to urge state lawmakers to renew and tweak the laws that govern apartment rent prices.

Leaders of the Cooper Square Committee, Real Rent Reform and Good Old Lower East Side, organized the rally, which muscled its way into the building, past legislators, up steps and eventually to the office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Shouting “Fight! Fight! Fight! Housing is right!” the rally participants started on the fourth floor and then moved to whichever other corridor could accommodate them. They made noise, blew whistles, waved posters, banged on doors and clogged hallways.

“Right now, in Albany, our presence and our demands are being heard more than ever, more than I can ever remember,” said Wasim Lone, housing services director for Good Old Lower East Side.

At issue is how and at what rate landlords should be allowed to raise rent in future years. In its current form, the rent laws allow New York City landlords to dramatically increase the rent of a property immediately after a tenant has moved out. This practice, known as “vacancy decontrol” has resulted in roughly 300,000 empty rental units across New York City, said Marina Metalios, 48, a volunteer with Real Rent Reform.
Read more…

For Area Muslims, Closure is Elusive

Little Pakistan DeliKathryn Kattalia For many in the East Village’s Muslim community a sense of closure after the death of Osama bin Laden still seems far off. Below: While much of the world watched news reports of Bin Laden’s killing, patrons at the Little Pakistan Deli watched a cricket match.

On a newspaper stand outside the Little Pakistan Deli on Second Avenue, bold headlines announced the news many Americans have waited 10 years to hear: Al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden is dead.

But inside the deli, manager Safdar Zaidi said it was business as usual as several customers crowded around a small television in the back of the store. “They are watching the cricket game instead of the news,” Mr. Zaidi, 45, said. “Pakistan is playing the West Indies.”

While thousands of New Yorkers rushed to Times Square and Ground Zero last night to celebrate news that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan by American forces, members of the East Village Muslim community were hesitant to join in, saying closure is still some way off. Mr. Zaidi, whose store has been in the East Village between East 12th and East 13th Streets for more than ten years, said that many of his customers are Muslim cab drivers who stop in during their lunch break.

“Most of them aren’t sure if he’s dead because they haven’t seen a body,” he said. “They want evidence that he died.”
Read more…

Damage From Sixth Street Fire Lingers

507 E. 6th St.Suzanne Rozdeba

More than a week has gone by since a fire blazed through a restaurant on East Sixth Street, and residents who live above it are still without house and home.

“We’ve been sleeping on a friend’s couch on the Upper East Side. It’s still unclear when we’ll be able to move back in,” Paul Canetti, a tenant on the third floor at 507 East Sixth Street, told The Local.

The fire on Jan. 4 occurred around 7:30 a.m. inside 6th Street Kitchen, a restaurant on the first floor. All tenants were evacuated, and the restaurant was destroyed. Read more…

Wounded Man Found At Fire Scene

DSC_1838Meredith Hoffman

According to the Fire Department, firefighters called to an alert at 362 East Tenth Street (reported earlier) discovered a male in a bathtub with gunshot wounds. He was taken to Beth Israel Hospital but there is no further report on his condition.

The fire alert had caused firefighters and police to close down most of the block between Avenue B and Avenue C.

The owner of the building, Irwin (who declined to give his last name), told The Local that the man in the apartment was Mike Zecchino, a man in his sixties, who had been living in the building since before Irwin bought it seventeen years ago. A police detective who did not give his name said the situation seemed to be that the man had shot himself.

Irwin described Mr. Zecchino as “an intelligent man,” saying he “drank a lot of wine and smoked Pall Mall cigarettes,” adding that he “has a daughter.”

Damaris Reyes, Executive Director of the GOLES (Good Old Lower East Side) community organization, who was at the scene to speak with police, said she knew Mr. Zecchino from working with him. “He organized neighborhood campaigns with GOLES” said Ms. Reyes. “He’s a good guy.” Read more…

Rights Protest Becomes Hunger Strike

Alan BounvilleHannah Rubenstein Alan Bounville, who took part in a 36-day vigil outside Senator Kristen Gillibrand’s local office, began a hunger strike earlier this week to draw attention to the American Equality Bill.

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about the work of QueerSOS, a gay rights group that was taking part in an ongoing vigil outside of Senator Gillibrand’s campaign office. At that time, activists Iana Di Bona and Alan Bounville had slept on the West 26th Street sidewalk for nearly four weeks, vowing to continue until the senator introduced the American Equality Bill to Congress, which would introduce the phrase “sexual orientation and gender identity” to the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

After 36 days standing vigil, incurring arrests and disorderly conduct summons, but no response from the senator, the activists decided that something more had to be done to bring attention to their cause. On Election Day, QueerSOS morphed into a new incarnation: the Civil Rights Fast.

Senator Gillibrand has declined to comment on the protest.

In a video Bounville explained his decision to begin a water-only fast, vowing to continue until the American Equality Bill is introduced.

Civil Rights Fast chalkHannah Rubenstein Members of Civil Rights Fast etch sidewalk messages in chalk to bring attention to their cause.

“I know that Senator Gillibrand may never file this bill,” he said. “But I would rather live a short life that was full than a long life never knowing what it was like to walk down any street in America holding the hand of the person that I love without fear or trepidation, looking over my shoulder.”

Mr. Bounville and Ms. Di Bona are beginning a series of public appearances in the city to draw attention to their struggle: Friday afternoon outside Senator Gillibrand’s office, and Sunday at the Metropolitan Community Church of New York and Queer Rising meeting at the 14th Street Y. More information is available on their website.