Scoopy’s Notebook, Week of November 9, 2017

Showing love for Armando Perez, from left, his widow, Marianne Kunitz; Councilmember Rosie Mendez, and CHARAS’s Chino Garcia. Photos by The Villager

Viva CHARAS and Armando! Supporters of CHARAS / El Bohio and local politicians gathered on the City Hall steps Monday to celebrate Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent announcement that the city is “interested in reacquiring” the old P.S. 64, on E. Ninth St. between Avenues B and C, from Gregg Singer. After owning the beautiful historic building for nearly 20 years, Singer still has not filled it with any constructive use and it continues to sit as an ugly eyesore. The CHARAS event also celebrated the birthday of CHARAS’s late co-founder, Armando Perez, who was crushed by the building’s sale by Rudy Giuliani’s administration, and then tragically killed three years later by thugs outside his wife’s Queens home after he tried to crack down on drug dealing in the building. Among those at the City Hall event were Chino Garcia, CHARAS’s co-founder; City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, who has battled during her 12 years in office to restore the building to community use; Marianne Kunitz, Perez’s widow; Carlina Rivera, the new District 2 councilmember-elect; state Senator Brad Hoylman and new state Senator-elect Brian Kavanagh; Susan Howard, leader of the Save CHARAS Committee; Bill Talen a.k.a. Reverend Billy; Crystal Field, the director of Theater for the New City; Harry Bubbins of Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation; East Village activist Carolyn Ratcliffe; Valerio Orselli, former head of the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association; Herman Hewitt, vice chairperson of Community Board 3; squatter activist / environmentalist Annie Wilson; and CHARAS’s Slimma, the inspiration for the Slimma Slice at Two Boots Pizza on Avenue A.

Local pols, including, from left, state Senator Brad Hoylman, Councilmember Rosie Mendez and Comptroller Scott Stringer, along with Harvey Epstein, former chairperson of Community Board 3, applauded the mayor’s expression of interest in taking back the old P.S. 64.

Ackers flap II: Well, that was fast! After Alan Kaufman contacted the estate of the late experimental writer Kathy Acker regarding the nasty dispute he and Clayton Patterson have been embroiled in over the future of the Acker Awards and whether the event should “go global,” it turns out the estate basically feels, well…it’s time to just call the whole thing off. Matias Viegener, who was appointed Acker’s literary executor in 2000 (he sent us the court document to prove it), wrote to Kaufman and Patterson, the co-founders of the five-year-old awards event for underground avant-garde artists, this week to notify them that it’s over — at least as far as its being called the Acker Awards. Kaufman forwarded us a copy of the e-mail. “Dear Alan & Clayton,” Viegener wrote them this past Tuesday, “After gathering more information, I’ve decided the Kathy Acker Trust cannot support the use of Kathy’s name on your award. You’re welcome to rename it whatever you want, but it’s not in the best interest of Kathy Acker’s work that you continue these awards. Kathy herself won only

The cover of the “chapbook” for the most recent installment of the Acker Awards in New York City from February 2017 — featuring a photo of the late writer Kathy Acker.

two small awards in her life, and she did not believe in the culture of awards. As you may know, the trust has legal control of not just Kathy’s literary work but also her name and likeness. I’d rather not get into court with this, but if we need to, I will.” In a follow-up interview with The Villager via e-mail, Viegener, a California-based writer, artist and critic, said the way the awards have been run simply has not been right. “It’s wrong to say I ever granted Clayton and Alan the right to use Kathy’s name,” he told us. “They began this on their own, without contacting or consulting me. After I found out about it, I decided to let them be because it seemed like a one-time endeavor and was already underway. I don’t wish to police Kathy’s name. However, as more time has passed and I see how these awards have been run, I can no longer stand passively by. Her name is being used to support a growing network of massive awards in cities all over the world. When Kathy wrote her will, she appointed me her literary executor and eventual director of the trust that supervises her work, image and name. I am very generous in permitting adaptations of her work, but this is not about her work: It’s a use of her name in ways that have nothing to do with her. … As I look at the endless list of awardees, I see that very few of them have much to do with her work or legacy. There is no board or jury for the awards, and they read pretty much as friends of Clayton’s or Alan’s. I have never been consulted much less notified about the awards, which leads me to believe that Kathy’s name is not being used in a neutral way. … If you are interested in covering this, I can give you a list of contacts who worked with Kathy their entire lives. I have consulted all of them and they are in agreement that Kathy’s name must not be misused to further an agenda that has nothing to do with her legacy and her work. Kathy was a writer, not a social worker or community activist. While she lived mostly in New York and San Francisco, she was always on the move and had friends and professional relationships around the world. While I can appreciate the goal of community-building and individual recognition in these awards, if they are to continue they must have a different name. …  I saw good names there, and in the end I think everyone deserves recognition for the work they do,” Viegener added. “But each year there were over 60 awards, with several of them going to people Clayton or Alan just liked. There was no jury for any of them, no selection or nomination process mentioned, no criteria, etc. In my own life I’m kind of an anarchist, but my role regarding Kathy Acker has to be guided by principles.” Kaufman told us he voluntarily agreed to stop using Acker’s name for the awards. But Patterson is not happy about it and wants to know what right Viegener really has to say all this. He’s already busy organizing this year’s version of the Acker Awards, and gives every indication that he intends to keep calling them just that. He bristled at Viegener’s threat of litigating the matter. In addition, Kaufman informs us he has officially shut down the Web site www.ackerawards.com . For his part, Patterson says that while Kaufman did control the Web site, he had not even been maintaining it.

Clarification: The original version of this Scoopy’s Notebook item (“Ackers flap II”) said that Alan Kaufman reached out to Matias Viegener inquiring who had the right to use Kathy Acker’s name for the Acker Awards — him or Clayton Patterson. However, Kaufman subsequently told us that, in fact, is not what he asked Viegener to do. “At no time in any of my communications with Matias in the current ruckus did I request to possess the right to do the Ackers or ask him to decide between myself and Clayton,” Kaufman averred to us. “My approach to him had absolutely nothing to do with any wish to use or retain the right, sole or otherwise, to use of Kathy’s name for the  purposes of doing the Ackers.”

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