EAST VILLAGE — The makeshift newspaper’s title provides an eye-catching contrast to the grim headlines of floods, crimes and financial crises in the mainstream publications that sit beside it an East Village bodega.
"New York Good News" is the home-spun publication of 82-year-old Steve Kraus, who has lived on St. Mark’s Place for 37 years.
He started collecting positive news stories more than 50 years ago and has published 12 editions of the photocopied circular since 1960, distributing it in local businesses and at subway stations and bus stops.
“It is better to light one candle than to rail against the darkness,” Kraus says, quoting a Chinese proverb, to explain why he started the publication.
“NYers eat badly, live longer,” “Don’t Worry, Marriage Isn't Doomed” and “New Hope for the Bald” are just some of the eye-catching headlines Kraus has collected for his most recent issue.
Compiling "New York Good News" is a straightforward process. Kraus gathers clippings from magazines or newspapers, tapes them onto boards to lay out the pages, and sends the edition to a printer in Chinatown. The ex-Army journalist, who now receives Social Security benefits, pays $250 for a thousand copies to be printed. His most recent edition, number 12, is eight pages long.
“I am lazy and undisciplined,” acknowledged Kraus, speaking of the small number of issues he's put out during the past 50 years. Indeed, the second page of "New York Good News" warns that it is “published irregularly” and “subscriptions are NOT available.”
A Polish Jew, Kraus escaped Europe during World War II with his parents and arrived in America in 1947. “We stayed one step ahead of the Germans, of the Nazis,” he said.
Due to his past, Kraus volunteers at the Jewish Foundation of the Righteous, which financially supports non-Jews who assisted Jews as they fled the advancing Nazis in the 1930s.
Nowadays, Kraus goes into the foundation's office, “turns his radio on, sits down at the table and starts opening mail," said Stanlee Stahl, the foundation's executive vice president.
"Every organization should have a volunteer like Steve Kraus," she said.
Below Kraus’ apartment on St. Mark’s Place sits Cafe Mogador, one of the drop-off points for the paper. He has been going there most days since it opened 27 years ago.
“He brings it down, hot off the press,” said Bonnie Chaplin, who manages the cafe and said Kraus helps out by doing odd jobs around the restaurant. “We get a lot of customers who comment on it.”
Despite a busy life as an East Village fixture, Kraus said he already has enough clippings for another issue. He hopes "New York Good News" will eventually publish at least once a year.
“It is my fight against the flood of bad news,” he said.