This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
A panel discussion with Edwin C. Fancher, publisher of the Village Voice, who discusses the tensions and problems facing New York's Greenwich Village. Questioning Fancher are: Stan Siegel of NYU Square Journal; Barbara Ben Marche (?) of Hunter College Arrow; Jack Parker and Raymond M. Tunney Jr. of Fordham Student Bar Association, moderated by Jay Nelson Tuck.
Among topics covered are:
Gangs, paid protection, and their connections to Tammany Hall; New York Police Department and protection of inter-racial couples; race relations and inter-racial couples; tension with Italian community in Greenwich Village; beatniks and bohemianism; homosexuality.
Beat generation writers have been in the Village for years. Is the character of the Village changing? For better or for worse?
Last ten years have seen an influx of high-income luxury housing, while the Italian community gets smaller and New York University's campus expands.
Politics' contribution to the tensions in the Village, including Carmine DeSapio. Solutions to the problems.
Hoodlums are locals, live in the neighborhood. Tony Bender (Anthony Strollo), racket boss of Greenwich Village. Future of the Village?
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 8466
Municipal archives id: LT8472
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
Are mixed race couples causing problems and Greenwich Village is an easy design Iconix the street is the protection racket flourishing in the village does homosexuality add to the tension problem in the village or the answers to these and other questions listen now to campus press conference every Sunday at this time editors of college newspapers question a newsworthy personality column moderator on campus press conference is the noted newspaper man and editor Jane Elson talk now to introduce the panel and today's guest here is Mr Tuck Good evening last Tuesday the New York Times reported that serious tension is rising in Greenwich Village New Yawk learned that rocketeers at work in the village extorting so-called protection money from businessmen and then at least one nightclub has been forced out of business when the employees quit because they feared bodily harm from thugs another difficulty seems to arise from race tension white girls and Negro men often seen together in the village our guest today probably knows as much about today's going to bell edge as any man alive he is Edwin C. Fancher who has lived there for the past thirteen years and is publisher of a neighborhood weekly newspaper The Village Voice and interestingly enough Mr Fancher started out to be a psychologist and he has studied at places as far apart as the University of Alaska at fab banks and the New School for Social Research in Greenwich Village four years ago he started the Village Voice with two colleagues in a scene that grow into perhaps the city's most influential neighborhood newspaper. Here TONIGHT Question Mr Fancher our stance a goal of the N.Y.U. square Journal Barbara then Moshe and the Hunter College arrow and Jack Parker and Raymond M. to any junior both of the Fordham student bar association right where you laid off Mr Fancher in your headline story of September thirtieth issue there is mention that there are indications that local hoodlums may be shaping up a massive drive to sell protection in Greenwich Village is opera Texan payments the role rather than the exception for Greenwich Village proprietors Well I'd say difficult question to answer because it's difficult to prove the answer for many many years most people familiar with Greenwich Village of believe that it was the rule. However when you try to get evidence for. Try to really find out about it you find that people are quite frightened to talk to the proprietors and most most businesses would rather pay it off than talk and take a chance of tele age or whatever well I was one the other racketeers in any way make stuff with Tammany Hall Well that's a difficult question again. There is not enough evidence in most cases and what various people think about this this problem can't the. Can. Is no good in a court of law that's right well it really isn't a corner of rightness to find you and I was wondering what is your opinion on that well my opinion is that there couldn't be that kind of a kind of gangsterism in this city unless it had some protection somewhere from political sources I don't believe that this kind of thing is possible stand Mr Thatcher we've spoken about protection and racketeering What is the nature of this protection what form does it take. Well foreigner to take. The most recent outbreak seems to be. The form it takes is that people come around and tell you you've got to pay up so much per week or per month or out. In the village most recently a whole group of businesses have their windows broken and people customers were beaten up after they left those places and shortly thereafter a man came around and wanted protection right now the second aspect of this protection of these people interested in making money or are they more interested in getting control of the various coffee shops and other businesses throughout the village again you have to depend upon hearsay and rumor for knowledge of this kind of thing. There are a lot of people who believe that the gangsters very often do try to take over completely control of good businesses of course many of the bars and restaurants and night clubs in the village nobody really knows who owns them who are they controlling factor behind them and. The opinion of most villagers are that are good many of these institutions that are owned by the syndicate. Mr Brown Mr Brundage I almost called you Mr Fancher thinking of a story in your village voice this week when you referred to Mr M. R. Brundage who owns the saloon called the College of complexes and he sings they want to feel pride as has been willing to speak out in your paper reports that he said that the men wanted a twenty five percent interest in the place which sounded more like wanting a real control rather than just. Just money from if you believe that's widespread you know from the from the word that we the rumors we get back that seems to be a typical pattern part of the pattern is also to of force the proprietor to hire one of the young hoodlums in the end as a bartender and some other capacity so he's always there and he knows what's going on and if the owner gives the gang any trouble he's always there to. Have been on the red line of things yes Jack I missed a fancier along these lines there's the old adage that where there's smoke there's fire and with all the various reports and rumors as to all the trouble that's taking place down in the villages actually what specific action has your police department in the area taken along these lines Well I think that the police department have tried to put more more clicks men in this area particularly in terms of protecting. The Grose or mixed couples from the gangs. They have certainly made a strong effort to protect negroes in Washington Square Park area. During the daytime and even during the evening. Other than the I could cite do you think they're having doing an adequate job. That's hard to say I don't feel that I would I would be able to comment on that I think they have a very tough job down there no question a lot of these hoodlums gangs in the area they know the area very well and things happen very quickly I think there are certainly a good many of the place down there are trying very hard to do a good job by around for a while while we're on the subject of police is the only kind of protection the stores are asking for. Racketeering protection are there any such thing as police protection down there. That I don't know I don't know we get rumors of it but again there's no there's no evidence Stan you mentioned the problem of mixed couples and the Negro problem in the village does a mixed couple cause a great deal of the tension in the village. Well there's no question that the next couple business does cause some tension there certainly are many people who are offended by the the next couple of situations in addition to that however I think that there is a new group of people who are going into the south village Negroes and white girls who have flaunted this thing in front of some of the Italian kids down there and have certainly been very provocative and have probably made things worse than they might have been otherwise because after all mixed couples have been a tradition in the village this is been a place where a lot of variety has been tolerated for many years although it wasn't always always like. This seems to be more of it now than it's ever been Mr furniture at least as far as I can recall and I've lived in the village on and off for over twenty two years. And many girls seem to come to the village with the specific purpose of finding Negro boys do you have any reason why this is do you understand what's behind it well I think it may have something to do with the whole beatnik craze that seems to be going on I think it's a part of the whole Bohemian tradition of throwing over the traces being non-conforming. And this is one way of expressing this revolt against authority. Mr Fancher is this recent outbreak of let's call it Nick isn't any different from the up the well known Bohemianism that's existed existed in the village for years. That's of course very much a matter of opinion I don't think it's different myself all of the so-called. Beat Generation writers Caroline Ginsburg Gregory Corso all of them were were village writers for years if you want to call them but he means they were around the village for years they were writing for years and it wasn't until somebody dubbed him the beat generation that they took on this particular significance but I don't think it's it's different from most offensive for years to the outside a Greenwich Village has Best been known for its Bohemianism and to a certain extent I'm sure the problem of homosexuality that has existed down there does this add anything to the tension problem in the village it may add a little but I don't think it adds a great deal. There has always been a certain amount of homosexuality in the village on the other hand it's been primarily segregated in the sense that there are certain bars and certain places that homosexuals tend to him hang out and nobody bothers them too much. Rumors have also indicated that many of these bars are syndicate bars and are very very good business and this is one reason why nobody bothers him much well when the fact that they have come together in a group add to the tension down there if it was spread out it would be an individual problem rather than a group problem and therefore if they are persecuted anyway they would be prosecuted as a group rather than as individuals I think where they are persecuted it's more a matter of individuals where some homosexuals will be walking on the streets of. Big provocative flaunting themselves and wear some of these tough kids out looking for a scapegoat We'll see if he'll love them and just beat them up Jack Mr Fancher you've been acquainted with the village for a period of years now and in your estimation as the character of the village changing. Yes very definitely certainly changing for the better and those are the worse and what actually is causing these changes Well one is changing for the better or not depends partly on your point of view. I'd say that the village has historically always been an area of great change back in the eighteenth seventies it was called the American ward and then there was a large influx of of Irish and Italians and in the last ten years there has been an enormous influx of upper income housing the slum tenements of the village have given way to high income luxury apartment houses and the Italian community is gradually getting smaller and smaller. Do the older residents of the village resent these new these no end coming residence this one does I hate. I think on the whole yes and certainly I think that if we want to talk about community tensions the tightly integrated Italian community has been very much threatened as a community by not only luxury apartment houses but the the general change in the population I think there are N.Y.U. man has a question on this point just as a how about the expansion of the University N.Y.U. has that caused any problems to the area in general well as you probably know Stan there is a great deal of resentment in the community of New York University Yes it's a feeling and this is not only. Only in terms of the older residents it's true of a lot of people who have come to the village since the war that and why you is trying to take over Washington Square Park and there is tension from that standpoint I don't think there's any great resentment of the students in the village and I haven't seen it but there is a feeling that the university would like to take over Barbara well and used to be the Greenwich Village had a reputation for being the scene of intellectual lives and you know the writing center around the world or at least in the United States but least in New York. I mean I've been to the writing center I have not accepted down to New Orleans but I don't know about the South want to ask you if you think that and this was back to times when a drill and change transit turned into a black community where they're all residents and a whole bunch of the next normal Mimi and who are people who are trying to be bohemian. Well I hadn't heard about New Orleans coming. New Center. I have a feeling that Greenwich Village is today in the. Golden Era And I think that thirty forty years from now people. Think of Greenwich Village in terms of the forty's and fifty's not in terms of the twenty's as a creative center this may not last too long Very possibly but you have about fourteen art galleries in the village today and some pretty good stuff being shown have fourteen or fifteen off Broadway theaters and in terms of writers there are a great many very very good writers the three I mentioned of the generation old Greenwich Village writers who want to do you understand this modern. Want of Modern Art. Another. Well to get on to a more serious that is back to this. In regard to the tensions down in the village recently there was a very bitter political election down there in which you had the sap E.O. barely retained his political control in his own district do you think that the political situation there is any cause of the tensions which are prevalent Well yes I I certainly heard. People from my Google street told me that they felt that the intense campaign which was waged with great. Great intensity throughout the village on both sides did contribute very much to the tensions I see what do you think of this happiness future in the village do you think that he will eventually be dethroned. Well I don't think there's any question of it all you have to do is look at the election figures and you see that where disappeared dropped five percent in his vote in the south and west village he dropped twenty percent in the Washington Square Lower Fifth Avenue area and the entire trend throughout the village is for a new type of population there and. The entire trend is certainly against him he just won by the skin of his teeth this time span we mention quite a few causes of the tension now in the area of solving this tension do you think that closing the park after a certain knowledge say six pm as well leaving the fountain on in the park or having policemen see to it that no group congregate in that particular area leads toward reducing the tension in the area or does it just push people out into other areas of the village No I approve of the place doing this if they felt it was necessary I think that vigorous police and Forstmann wherever there is a indication of violence and I certainly had been plenty of violence around that circle is very much to be welcomed in Iraq and you'd see the police chasing people who are doing nothing more than sitting on a bench playing guitar in the seem to be a good deal of resentment of that well that's true but on