News & Politics

This Week in the Voice: I Fought The Landlord


This week in the Voice, out today, Araceli Cruz and Steven Thrasher tell the tale of landlord Moshe Samovha’s bad Upper Manhattan building and the lone resident who fought for better living conditions: “This is a landlord who has acted with impunity for decades, content to let the city repair his boiler in winter while taxpayers pick up the tab, for example. The city has been powerless to keep Samovha from operating a slum…The one person who did stand up to Samovha was one of his Amsterdam Avenue tenants, a single mother of four children and an undocumented immigrant named Maria Montealegre.”

Robert Sietsema goes to Food Gallery 32, a food court in Koreatown, and observes: “The ground floor is devoted to seven counters — predominantly purveying Korean, Korean-Japanese, and Korean-Chinese food — plus a beverage seller and a Red Mango yogurt concession. The ground floor offers a cluster of tables, and there’s mezzanine seating above, presenting dramatic views of the food seekers below. Teenagers favor the isolated third floor, where they hang with their buds, excitedly chattering and sharing cheap snacks until the place shuts down at midnight.”

In music, Maura Johnston explains why old records are bigger than ever. Turns out, they really are: “I’ve used this space to write about the wave of retro mania a few times, but now my anecdotes about the Tupac hologram and its zombie ilk have hard data behind them: Last week, Billboard reported that sales of catalog albums outpaced those of new records during the first six months of 2012. Current albums (less than 18 months old) sold 73.9 million copies between January 2 and June 1, down from 82.8 million in the first six months of 2011; catalog albums sold 76.6 million copies, up from 72.6 million over last year’s first half.”

Nick Pinkerton notes that Dark Knight Rises features the clunky stiffness characteristic of Christopher Nolan films, which he calls: “ponderous, pontifical action movies are written less as screenplays than as operator’s manuals, guiding an audience through assembling their important themes while scrupulously making sure you don’t miss a thing. This is as true of Inception, with its reams of expositional walk-through, as of Nolan’s superhero saga, now swollen into a trilogy in which the dramatis personae are always stepping up to identify themselves in statements of principle. All of the on-the-nose speechifying (scripted by Nolan and his brother, Jonathan) keeps the runtimes long, while the drum-tight rule of schematic relevance shuts out anything resembling wit, spontaneity, and recognizable human conduct.”

Michael Feingold reviews Gary Marmorstein’s A Ship Without a Sail: The Life of Lorenz Hart and says the biography of the lyricist: “makes clear, Hart (1895-1943) had ample reasons for feeling inner hurt, starting with his physical appearance. Like his father and his doting younger brother Teddy,’Larry’ Hart was a short man, standing just over five feet. Though not unhandsome, the head that contained his ‘heavy brain’ was slightly too large for his body, giving him a faintly grotesque appearance. The outer difference from conventional ‘manliness’ was seconded by an inner one: Hart was homosexual, in a time and a culture where such preferences had to be elegantly concealed.”

And in art, Christian Viveros-Faune gets close to Chuck Close, visiting the legendary artist in his Bond Street studio before his upcoming fall show, writing: “to see him at huge museum affairs, art-fair openings, or charitable events is to see Moses part waters thick with social climbing, calculation, and envy. His presence — like that of a civil rights leader or sports hero — is mollifying. As he once put it to me, ‘For the last 14 years, I’ve not gone a day where I go outside and don’t have someone tell me how much they like what I do. I’m really very, very lucky.’ Never mind that Chuck Close is a partial quadriplegic and largely confined to a wheelchair.”

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