Saturday, September 02, 2006


Ernesto comes to the East Village on a Friday Night

As what is left of tropical storm/ hurricane- Katrina- wanna-be Ernesto moves up through the mid-Atlantic states on it's way to New England to do battle with a Canadian high pressure zone , alternating gusts of wind whipped rain with mist and cool , drier fall winds keep most people inside on this Friday night in the East Village . Most that are out away from their apartments are inside in the numerous bars of the neighborhood such as Odessa Bar where some young , quiet, sedate types drink imported beer and play a board game at the big round table near the large green-lighted front window . Around the corner on St Marks Place , Jim sits ,tired and in pain , on a large , found and fake leather sofa in his blue plastic tarp covered abode with friends Goldie and Cable. Jim still is a bit shaken -up by the beating he took yesterday and is in a good bit of pain . He has been to see a doctor at the Veterans Hospital and will return to the hospital tomorrow for more tests .His friends have been helping him and some will stay the night to stand watch while he sleeps .... probably it seems watching a lot of television and perhaps drinking some beer .

Jim's freind John did make it to court where the court on seeing and talking to him apparently decided that his condition was not good after the early morning beating and sent him to a hospital emergency room . As of now no one knows what John's condition is or indeed which hospital he is in.

Jim's and John's attacker was charged with 2 counts of assault in the 3rd degree and resisting arrest and had his bail set at $750 . He could thus easily be back out on the street now ;but if he is , it would be in his best interest to stay away from the area around St. Marks Place and Tompkins Square Park since there are at least half a dozen or so young men looking for him . It would be ,you see , pay-back time .

Friday, September 01, 2006


A Stop Work Order that Stops Nothing-2

Above : Stop work Order still in effect today , 1 September 2006
Above :120 St Marks Place 0n 1 September 2006 . Note ladder .
Above : Concrete floor at 120 St Marks Place poured on 31 august 2006 and photographed on 1 September 2006 .
Above : Construction at 120 St Marks Place , 30 August 2006
Above and below : details of work being done at 120 St Marks Place ,28 August 2006

Above and Below : Construction details at 120 St. Marks Place on 28 August 2006
Today construction was still under way at 120 St Marks Place in spite of a long standing Department of Buildings stopwork order being in effect for this property . This current stop work order has been in effect for at least several weeks and probably ,I am told , since 7 July of this year . The ladder is the sign that workers were in the building today . Entrance to the building is regularly obtained by this ladder which is usually pulled up behind them and stowed out of sight above the street .Thus , with the ground floor front closed up, workers can hide their presence from inspectors and neighborhood activists that call the DOB to complain about illegal activity in the building . As can be seen , the concrete ground floor is in place having been poured yesterday with the current stop work order in effect . All construction activity shown here occured with a DOB stop work order in effect .

The steel construction details above were photographed on 28 August 2006 and will not be found in any of the governing referance standards for steel design ,fabrication and errection that are part of the New York City building code .

Thursday, August 31, 2006


A Beating on St. Marks Place

Above :Reunion at the 9th precinct
The picture above was taken this morning around 6:45 AM in the shape-up room of the 9th precinct . Jim had just taken a beating in the street at 120 St. Marks Place . A tall thin man with long dreadlocks , perhaps drunk and/ or on some kind of pills , attacked Jim,s friend and assistant John , who was on watch while Jim slept .Jim and John sleep in watches ,one man sleeps the other man watches , the procedure is necessary ,that's how it is on St. Marks place at night . The attack woke Jim and he started to help John but as Jim was taking in the situation and deciding what to do first , Jesse Jane also started barking which alarmed the attacker and the attacker responded by kicking Jesse Jane . Jim , of course without thinking about it , responded by going after the attacker who had just attacked his dog . The fight went on for 10 minutes or so , then John left so as not to be taken by the cops since he had to be in court a few hours later and clearly he could not afford complications in court . As John left Jim also left in the other direction trying to run away from the attacker . But the attacker would not relent , following him down the street and grabbing Jim , the attacker continued to attack Jim while Jim held on to the attacker's leg to prevent him from kicking him ,though, he could still beat on him with his hands . Jim had been kicked in the head and small of the back several times and was by then feeling all the pain .Several people were around watching the attack and one of them finally called the police .

The police arrived on the scene where the attacker gave them problems also so they took him into custody and at the precinct charged him with assault in the 3rd degree .

Jim and Jesse Jane and John are mostly alright :Jesse isn't hurt but Jim has some cuts and bruises which all hurt and John is more or less OK and did make it to court on time . Jesse Jane was certainly happy to see Jim come out of the 9th precinct after all the troubling events .

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


A Stopwork Order that Stops Nothing

Above:120 St Marks Pl around the 1st of August 2006
Above and Below :120 StMarks Pl on 28 August 2006

Above :515 East 5th St.
The problems at 120 St Marks Place just won't go away .There is currently a stopwork order issued by the Department of Buildings in effect at 120 St Marks Place but clearly workers were working yesterday . I was told yesterday that the stopwork order has been in effect since 7 july of this year, thus just about all the concrete work , walls and steel framing seen in the above pictures was done illegally without the permission of the DOB. I do not know all of the reasons for the stopwork order but I have been told it has been issued because Mr. Shaouls project can't pass the DOB audit unconditionally . I have been told that there are questions about how the building is really being built and how it will really be used and how Mr. Shaouls architect's plans and zoning exhibits indicate and claim that the building will be built and used .

Problems like this aren't new for Mr. Shaoul , "Google " him , he has a record of problems with buildings including a number rather serious problems at 515 East 5th street and other problems at other buildings he owns such as nasty forced evictions and a building collapse . Three weeks after the occupants of 120 St Marks place were vacated Mr. Shaouls workers punched a hole in a very structurally compromised rear wall , drove in a small backhoe using it to dig the large hole pictured above in the backyard ... all on a permit issued for the demolition of interior partitions ,electrical ,mechanical and plumbing with no change of means of egress and no change of use ! There was a stopwork order issued because of this abuse and there were several others issued because of other abuses and violations but they were all , as has been the current one , mostly ignored by Mr. Shaoul's team .Some of these stopwork orders were issued because of serious structural problems that were a danger to workers as well as adjoining properties and persons living in those properties .Two instances included were the seriously damaged and weakened rear wall and what appears to have been an attempt to jack-up the old and rotten wood interior framing to save the cost of replacing this framing . Both of these problems were finally removed , the rear wall is gone and new light-gauge steel framing has replaced the rotten interior framing , but only after much aggravated complaint from the community .

Self certification by architects makes this kind of abuse much easier to get away with but still the Dept of Buildings can and must do a much better job of inspecting ,approving , policing and enforcing its decisions , rules and regulations .

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Some Aspects of a Civil Agreement

Above: Occupant's door and lock

Above : Harrassment charge retraction agreement
Above: Police checking occupant's utility bills and mail receipts
For a while , for a few posts , I am going to go back and cover in more detail some events relating to 120 St Marks Place .Please refer to the earlier part of this blog for reference .

On the afternoon of 28 March 2006 , I , by chance , came upon this scene pictured above , a loud and seemingly violent scene , at 120 St. Marks Place . This event has been discussed in an earlier post on this blog and to some extent has been reported in " The Villager" at and "Polis" at . At the time I wasn't prepared to deal with this potentially violent event and was a bit too cautious . I should have been more aggressive and should have taken more pictures but I was alone with no one to back me up if I was attacked and had $5000 worth of brand new camera and lens , that I was testing for the first time , to lose . Also , there were a lot more of them than me and they had sledge hammers and crobars ,which they were brandishing .

The people with the sledge hammer and crobar are Magnum Management employees and the man with the smug grin is Benjamin Shaoul , the head of Magnum Management . What were they all there to do? Why all the threats , screaming and displaying of crobars and sledgehammers ? Why the breaking of locks and bashing in of doors ? Certainly some people on the scene were intimidated by their presence and behavior and some of them later would claim to the press that they were intimidated and thus were being harrassed by Mr. Shaoul and his employees . Later Magnum was concerned enough with the claims of harrassment that the company offered to one of the occupants of 120 St Marks Place an additional two weeks to move out if that occupant would retract the claims of harrassment .

The situation became so serious at one point that the police were called .Officers from the 9th precinct arrived on the scene and calmed the situation bringing everything under control. The occupants utilities bills and mail receipts were examined by police to determine occupancy since this event was in some way about the eviction of squatters .

120 St. Marks Place was a squat , the last illegal squat in the East Village . These squatters unlike many of the occupants of the infamous historic squats of the East Village were accepting of the fact that they would someday have to leave and were not interested in claiming ownership by the theory of adverse possession or in fighting interminably with the owner of the building and the police . The owner of the building had allowed squatters to live in the building for 5 years or so and for some time the building had been an artist commune known as the "Cave " .The owner had never attempted to collect rent from any of the occupants of 120 St Marks Pl nor had he ever attempted to evict any of them.

Sometime before the 28th of March the owner of the building made a deal with Mr. Shaoul of Magnum Mangement to manage and renovate the building and then later , I have been told , to have the option to buy the building . The first meeting that any occupant had with Benjamin Shaoul was a day or two before the major confrontation of the 28th of March . During this first meeting Craig Lopez met with Mr. Shaoul and agreed to move out for an amount of money and under terms to be determined by their lawyers .It was agreed at a slightly later time by the other occupants of the building and Magnum Management that the remaining occupants would also move out for money . These agreements in the long run were much cheaper and less time consuming for Mr. Shaoul than going to court to evict . In New York State there are eviction laws that require among other things that the eviction of anyone that is an occupant of a building for more than 30 days is ,though possibly not a legal resident , a legal occupant and can only be removed with force ultimately by the police and then only after the necessary court proceedings constituting due process have occured and then only after a series of notices have been delivered and posted in plain sight by city marshals and after attempts have been made by city marshals to evict peaceably . This meeting was not a surprise since the owner had been mentioning for weeks the possibility that the squatters would have to move out but the events of the 28th of March certainly were a surprise because everyone thought that an agreement on moving out had been made . Certainly the behavior of Magnum Mangement employees and Benjamin Shaoul was understood by all occupants to be harrassment and as duress to effect a more favorable civil contractual eviction deal for Magnum Mangement .

It is difficult to see the breaking of locks and bashing in of doors to occupied apartments and the shouted threats to " demolish the building right around you ", of which threat there is an audio tape , as any part of a proper and legal civil agreement to vacate a property in exchange for money. And speaking of threats ,Mr. Shaoul even went so far as to confront me and demand that I stop photographing him and his employees in hostile tone ,right in my face .I can't say what if any harm to me he threatened but usuually people read a hostile tone and aggressive stance as carrying at least an implied threat of harm . At the time of this confrontation ,I was wearing my NYPD issued press card ,standing in the street in a public place at a news worthy event with police present.... also I am half a foot taller than him and am about a hundred pounds heavier .Thus in more ways than one , such a confrontation was really stupid behavior , but then its not at all that surprising that Mr. Shaoul would behave in this manner as following posts will show .


Five Times in Three Days

Yes , 5 times in 3 days is how many times Jim has been robbed . Considering that the sanitation department took a large number of his personal possessions last month , today with these 5 robberies about all that he has left are the two tools that he uses for cutting and trimming tile and his cell phone and the cell phone is not good for long because they took his battery charger .

He still does have ,though , the large blue fish mosaic that he was beginning when this blog began but that is because he still has not been able to collect all the money owed to him for making it . This issue was featured in an earlier post on this blog .

Today on St. Marks Place it was raining and Jim and John were a bit wet as they prepared their bed for the night . Jesse Jane was already asleep inside the enclosure .

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