Page 1

The local paper for Chelsea

WHAT’S SO

WEEK OF MAY

funny

2-8

L TRAIN SLOWDOWN COMMENCES

INSIDE

2019

TRANSPORTATION What riders need to know about changes on 14th Street as MTA undertakes major tunnel repair work

I am pleased that there will be bus priority on 14 Street, as well as deliveries, and that the nearly 30,000 riders who use the M14 route will move quickly to and from their destinations.”

Julie Menin, Director of the Census for New York City, at the Supreme Court last week. Photo: Courtesy of Office of the Census for New York City

A TOOL TO HURT US VIEWPOINT Two NYC officials say the possibility of a Census citizenship question has already caused damage BY JULIE MENIN AND BITTA MOSTOFI

Last week, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in United States Department of Commerce v. New York, better known as the “Census citizenship case.” The City of New York, along with the New York State Attorney General and several other states and cities, is a plaintiff to the case — and for good reason. The central issue in this case

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Daguerreotypes from the mid19th century capture ancient wonders of the world. P. 8

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

BY MICHAEL GAROFALO

Six-and-a-half years after Hurricane Sandy inundated the Canarsie Tunnel with seven million gallons of salt water, corroding critical electrical components and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority last week began extensive repair work on the East River tubes that will disrupt transit patterns along the L train corridor for more than a year. Commuters and transit officials who spent years planning for the impacts of construction — initially preparing for a total shutdown of the tunnel but then making last-minute adjustments after longstanding plans were abruptly scrapped in favor of a partial shutdown at the direction of Gov. Andrew Cuomo early this year — experienced their first taste of the L train’s new normal April 26 as updated subway schedules with reduced off-peak service went into effect. The project’s effects extend to street level on 14th Street, where the city will soon ban most private vehicle through traffic as part of an overhaul designed to speed bus service on the frequently clogged thoroughfare. Transit officials estimate tunnel repair work will last 15 to 18 months.

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PEERING INTO THE PAST

WOMEN, MEN AND THE RACE TO 100 The very old are overwhelmingly female. How genetics and hormones play key roles. P. 2

NURTURING BROADWAY’S NEXT HITS Hal Brooks is the link between two Tony-nominated plays. P. 19

TURNING THE PAGE ON BOOKBOOK The L train will run with reduced frequency on nights and weekends for 15 to 18 months while the Canarsie Tunnel is repaired. Photo: Michael Garofalo

West Village independent bookstore to close after 35 years. P. 17

Clinton

Chelsea News NY

CHELSEA NEWSNY.COM @Chelsea_news_NY

Crime Watch Voices NYC Now City Arts

3 5 6 8

Restaurant Ratings 10 Business 17 Real Estate 18 15 Minutes 19

WEEK OF APRIL

SPRING ARTS PREVIEW < CITYARTS, P.14

WHO HAS ACCESS TO A PARKING SPACE IN CHELSEA? NEWS

9-16

MANHATTAN'S APARTMENT BOOM, > PROPERTY, P.18

2015

In Brief MORE HELP FOR SMALL BUSINESS

WHAT NEXT FOR CHELSEA GALLERIES?

The effort to help small seems to businesses in the city be gathering steam. Two city councilmembers, Robert Margaret Chin and Cornegy, have introduced create legislation that wouldSmall a new “Office of the within Business Advocate” of Small the city’s Department Business Services. Chin The new post, which have up rezoning told us she’d like to would and the mid-2000s May 1 The and running this year, for of West Chelsea. Muas an ombudsman city serve Whitney the of opening Art on small businesses within them clear seum of American means not government, helping It’s new buildings, to get Gansevoort Street c to the traffi through the bureaucracy rising rents, that are even more foot things done. forcing some gallerists area. is that Perhaps even more also The irony, of course, to reconsider their Whitney -importantly, the ombudsman the arrival of the and number neighborhood roots art meccas will tally the type small business one of the city’s the end for of complaints by taken in BY GABRIELLE ALFIERO -- could also spell dealers the actions art owners, long-time policy buildStephen some response, and somefor ways to When gallerists Griffin in the area, as their are sold or recommendations If done well, Haller and Cynthiatheir W. ings increasingly begin to fix things. report would Haller reopened follow- demolished. lease the ombudsman’s 26th Street gallery With their 10-year quantitative afrst fi the rebuild Stephen us give cut short, with ing a five-month flooded abruptly shared taste of what’s wrong ter Hurricane Sandy they and Cynthia, who the city, an the space, small businesses in towards building with their first floor phone their and Tony important first step were still without were Lehmann Maupin they the problem. needed to xing fi of galleries, and Internet. Still, where Shafrazi property by June To really make a difference, the happy in the location, will have to to stay for vacate (Shafrazi is suing course, the advocaterising rents, they expected of 2014. find a way to tackle business’ the Manhattes some time. doltold less the landlord, which remain many While Chin Instead, they were their Group, for $20 million reproblem. vexing that Post most the New York than a year later gauge what to demol- lars, said it’s too early tocould have landlord planned ported). another role the advocate on the ish the building. They shopped for planned for there, more information in the neighbor“We had shows bad thing. We had location to find problem can’t be a with the long periods of time.amount hood but struggled a twoThis step, combinedBorough more than just put in a huge the anything efforts by Manhattan to mediate of money to refurbish“We year lease on a street-level in Chelsaid. President Gale Brewer offer space,” Cynthia space. After 13 years Gallery the rent renewal process, were really shocked.”Gallery sea, Stephen Haller signs tangible and early, Haller some For Stephen small left the neighborhoodStux it, it isn’t riswith of progress. For many can’t come and others like joined forces oor are driving business owners, that in a new sixth-fl ing rents that far new devel- Gallery soon enough. on 57th Street, not Chelsea, Zach Feuer them away. It’s

NEWS

luxury building Robotic garage for board draws fire from community BY ZACH WILLIAMS

at a a robotic garage A proposal for in Chelsea has thrown luxury building into the city’s zoning access to parking debate. proposed for a A high-tech garage W. 28th St. has 520 development at Board 4, which is riled Community arguing that it plan, in opposing the more car usage would only invite while only providthe neighborhood, residents. ing parking to rich a special city perThe garage needs 29 spaces rather mit to accommodate allowed the than the 11 automatically opted to oppose by the city. CB4 1 full board meetpermit at its April Carl a draft letter to ing, stating in Planning City the of Weisbrod, chair city criteria for such Commission, that based on the parking foran exception is ago, when many for stock of a decade spaces were used demer industrial future of parking in anticipation velopment in Chelsea. 40 residential have The project will comsquare feet of alunits and 11,213 the ground floor, mercial space on three parking spaces The lowing eight and the developer, respectively. But wants more for Related Companies, is the New York acthe building, which internationally City debut for Zaha Hadid. (Adjaclaimed architect Line, the build cent to the High

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his gallery in After 15 years running to partner with Joel two gallery spaces, (left) leaves the neighborhood team will operate Mesler (right). TheMesler/Feuer, on the Lower East Feuer/Mesler and May 10. Slide, slated to open

Newscheck

2 3

is surging opment, which in part to in Chelsea, thanks High Line the opening of the

City Arts Top 5

12 13

space

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Chelsea News|Chelsea Clinton News chelseanewsny.com

WHY WOMEN BEAT MEN IN THE RACE TO 100 Want to live to be 100? Pick your parents carefully, and make sure youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re born a girl. Centenarians (people who hit the century mark) usually have similarly long-lived grandparents, parents and siblings, and while the male Y chromosome delivers broad shoulders, slim hips, and tons of muscle, the female double X is practically a life insurance policy. Right now, there are approximately 500,000 centenarians around the world. The United Nations estimates that by 2050 there will be more than 2 million, and the research group Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence says the ďŹ rst person who will live longer than 150 years has already been born. Todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s very old are overwhelm-

Source: 24/7 Wall St./OECD data

da) in 2017 he found that a womanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s body processes oxygen faster and more efficiently than a manâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, making her â&#x20AC;&#x153;less prone to muscle fatigue and more likely to perform better athletically.â&#x20AC;? Women also perform better at beating a cold or the flu. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a real scientiďŹ c reason why grown men turn into babbling babies when they catch a cold or flu. Asian studies show that the viruses hit men harder because high male testosterone levels suppress the overall immune response, while female immunity goes full steam on to blunt the bugsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; effects.

 

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Aside from sex, geography has something to say about how long youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll live. In the United States, although California is the state with the most centenarians (Alaska has the fewest), the Southern states seem to excel at producing long-livers. Being smart about your health also helps. As the New England studyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Jiaquan Xu notes, â&#x20AC;&#x153;If you diagnose chronic disease earlier and get proper treatment, these can be controlled or even prevented.â&#x20AC;? In short, the idea that â&#x20AC;&#x153;the older you get, the sicker you getâ&#x20AC;? is a myth. The real deal is that â&#x20AC;&#x153;the older you get, the healthier

United States â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 82,000

Japan â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 65,000

China â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 48,000

India â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 27,000*

France â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 21,393

Spain â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 17,423

United Kingdom â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 14,570

Germany â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 8,839

BY CAROL ANN RINZLER

Canada â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 8,230

Todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s very old are overwhelmingly female. Genetics and hormones play key roles

ingly female. In the United States, the long-running New England Centenarian Study puts the ratio at 85% female/15% male. The same is true in Great Britain: 586 women to a mere 100 men. In Japan, there are seven 100 year old women for every 100 year old man. As for supercentenarians, people like the 330 hardy souls in the United States who have made it to 110 or more, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 9-to-1. Why? Animal studies at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) suggest the female XX chromosomal pairing â&#x20AC;&#x201D; one from Mom and one from Dad â&#x20AC;&#x201D; can extend lifespan but only with the help of female hormones secreted by the ovaries. As neurologist Dena Dubal explains, one X chromosome is randomly deactivated so if a womanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s active one is damaged the inactive X can take over making females â&#x20AC;&#x153;winners of the genetic lottery.â&#x20AC;? As for physical ability, men may run faster and hit harder, but when Thomas Beltrame ran a ďŹ tness study at the University of Waterloo (Cana-

NUMBER OF CENTENARIANS IN 2016

Australia â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 4,870

AGING

COUNTING TO 100

*2015

youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been.â&#x20AC;? And thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s your gender difference: Most women traditionally schedule regular visits with the doctor. Most men donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t. Finally, consider that modern centenarians grew up in a time when men were more likely than women to be involved in risky ventures such a fighting wars. Whether our currently more equitable risk-taking will alter the ratio of female-to-male ultra-senior citizens remains a mystery for one of todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s teenagers to unravel. Probably that one boy or girl whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to live to be 150.


MAY 2-8,2019

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Chelsea News|Chelsea Clinton News chelseanewsny.com

STATS FOR THE WEEK

CRIME WATCH BY MARIA ROCHA-BUSCHEL TWO INJURED IN HIT-AND-RUN

MAN AND HIS DOG THREATENED

A 38-year-old Uber driver reported that he was injured in a car accident at the corner of West 24th St. and Tenth Ave. on Sunday, Apr. 28 at 4:20 a.m. The victim told police he was driving north on Tenth Ave. when another driver hit his car on the driver’s side while attempting to make an improper turn onto West 24th St. After striking his vehicle, the other driver reportedly fled. The driver had a passenger in his car at the time of the accident, and both were transported to Lenox Hill Hospital.

A 41-year-old man who attempted to inform an e-bike rider that he was breaking the law by riding on the sidewalk told police that the rider threatened to kill him and his service dog. The incident occurred in front of 525 West 28th St. on Sunday night, Apr. 28. The victim reported that he wanted to make the cyclist aware that riding on the sidewalk was illegal and that he could injure or kill someone.

ARREST IN CABBIE ASSAULT

A 24-year-old woman reported that her phone was stolen while she was playing basketball at the Chelsea Waterside Park at 557 West 23rd St. on Wednesday, Apr. 24. The victim told police that she brought her phone to the park so she could listen to play music while she hooped. She said she left her phone in a known location and when she returned at 3:30 p.m., the phone was gone.

Police arrested a 38-year-old man for assaulting a cab driver at the corner of Ninth Ave and West 23rd St. on Friday, Apr. 26 at 7 p.m. The victim was dropping off the suspect when a dispute over the fare ensued, police said. The suspect was reportedly attempting to go to the bank to get money to pay the fare when the driver tried to take a picture of him. The passenger than punched the driver in the face, police said.

ANOTHER PHONE DISAPPEARS

DRUNK DRIVING ARREST

Reported crimes from the 10th precinct for the week ending Apr 21

for drunk driving at the corner of Dyer Ave. and West 30th St. on Friday, Apr. 26 at 2:15 a.m. Police said the man was driving north on Tenth Ave. and made a right turn onto West 30th St. without using his signal. He was pulled over and officers noticed signs of intoxication. Police said a preliminary breath test at the scene showed the man’s blood alcohol content (BAC) to be .112, A person with a BAC of .08 or higher is considered legally impaired.

Week to Date

Year to Date

2019 2018

% Change

2019

2018

% Change

Murder

0

0

n/a

0

0

n/a

Rape

0

0

n/a

4

4

0.0

Robbery

4

3

33.3

26

23

13.0

Felony Assault

1

4

-75.0

23

33

-30.3

Burglary

3

2

50.0

29

33

-12.1

LOCKED BIKE STOLEN

Grand Larceny

11

17

-35.3

206 223 -7.6

A 64-year-old man reported that his bike was stolen from in front of his building at 428 West 20th St., where he left it locked on Friday morning, Apr. 26. The victim told police that he chained the bike up in front of the building at 11:30 a.m. and when he returned 45 minutes later it was gone.

Grand Larceny Auto

0

0

n/a

2

Police arrested a 37-year-old man

2

0.0

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IS THAT A POEM I HEAR? EAST SIDE OBSERVER BY ARLENE KAYATT

Silence with a sound — Sound, most any sound, is out of place at the library, any library. You don’t hear pages turning. You don’t hear taps on computer keys. You don’t hear the sound of words or song from headphones. And the hushed tones coming from the library’s main desk mainly go unheard. But there was a sound in the air at the East 79th Street library. A sound that those of a certain age

would recognize. A casual looksee around the room told the tale and there it was — a man at a desk in front of the window at the library branch typing away on an old standard typewriter, one with keys that made the clicking sound heard ‘round the room. Today’s keyboards are soundless — think texting, computers. Even the ancient (1961) electric Selectric, which eventually had its own correcting ribbon, was soundless, or at least as I remember it. At the iconic machine sat poet Steven Alvarez, PhD, tapping out

poems on the sound-making standard typewriter in recognition of National Poetry Month. The Poetry Society of New York is a MicroResidency at the New York Public Library. During the year, the library provides the space and the typewriter and the poet provides the poem for library visitors, who pick the poem’s subject. From our “sound” conversation, came Steven’s poetry:

See we hear one another sense our differences and passions but never had known What brings us together is geography and its accidents and this city where no one lives for the weather and where the sounds of sirens drown our laughter

HOME Listen to the sounds of our neighbors sharing joy dancing even as snow continues to fall

we find we share sounds in common

Taxation without explanation — Odd that Duane Reade, at least the

one at East 87th and Third, adds tax to newspaper purchases. When called on it, nobody knew why (no doubt it was programmed into the register’s database), and the tax was not paid. But the question remains - why is Duane Reade adding tax to newspaper purchases? Honoring Henry — During his lifetime, efforts were made to name a pool on the UES in honor of Henry J. Stern. However, that honor would not or could not be bestowed while Henry was still living. Now that he has passed, it is fitting and appropriate to name the pool in his honor. It’s the right, honorable thing to do for an exemplary public servant.

SO YOU WANT TO BE A ROCK AND ROLL STAR PUBLIC EYE BY JON FRIEDMAN

You don’t come face to face with greatness too often. But there it was, right in front of my eyes: Ringo Starr’s iconic Ludwig drum kit from his days in The Beatles. A few feet away, I spied the guitar that Buddy Holly (probably) used to write “Everyday” and other hits. Guitars played by the likes of Eric Clapton, Jerry Garcia and Chuck Berry are on display as well. Musical instruments of all kinds — even a lone sitar — have found their way into the hallowed halls of Metropolitan Museum of Art for a new must-see exhibit entitled “Play It Loud.” In all, about 130 instruments are featured. The exhibit — done in conjunction with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — grandly accomplishes a museum’s primary goals for both snobs and novices: educate, inform, inspire and entertain. The central idea was for the Met to celebrate “the musical instruments that gave rock and

roll its signature sound,” as an accompanying coffee-table book notes. Like all ambitious exhibits, “Play It Loud” contains something for everyone. If you play an instrument in a serious way, you can appreciate the artistry of the pieces themselves and imagine yourself trying your hand on them. If you’re a cultural historian, you can learn about the origins of these figures. And if you’re a youngster who thinks Clapton is most famous for doing the song “Tears from Heaven” and John Lennon’s signature accomplishment was the Utopian anthem “Imagine,” you can begin to understand what the fuss was all about way back in the Sixties, and that the great guitar innovator of his time spelled his name with that curious style of “J-i-m-i,” as in “Hendrix.” The exhibit’s most noteworthy achievement is offering up something special that is rich in nostalgia, without drowning us in it. The trip down memory lane is, at its core, fun. And that counts for a lot. Still, not everyone is pleased. Ringo Starr’s Ludwig drum kit at the Met Museum. Photo: Jon Friedman

Dave Davies, the lead guitarist of The Kinks and the innovator behind the historic distorted guitar solo in “You Really Got Me,” loudly griped that he and his band had not been represented. “I was very upset that they didn’t realize the potency and power of the Kinks,” Davies told a reporter. “It was a potent force in rock ‘n’ roll, and to leave out the Kinks and the lead-guitar sound was kind of regrettable.” (The museum must’ve been thrilled to get the publicity, so if your rock and roll group was also left out, the museum encourages you to make your case all over social media.) Also, in the Nobody’s Perfect Dept., I spotted a factual error. The exhibit displayed a guitar played by the beloved Jerry Garcia at the final Grateful Dead concert. But the museum mistakenly pointed out that the concert took place in 1996 — several months after Garcia died — instead of 1995, the proper year. (A spokesman for the museum assured me that it would fix the gaffe ASAP.)

According to the Met, the exhibition’s benefactors include the John Pritzker Family Fund, the Estate of Ralph L. Riehle, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, Diane Carol Brandt, the Paul L. Wattis Foundation, Kenneth and Anna Zankel, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Some might quibble, too, that the Met, one of the great names in all of New York City culture, might be the wrong place to house such an exhibit for the masses. They miss the point that rock and roll is by now bread for the establishment as well as the anthem of the world’s youth (or is that now the province of hip-hop?). People like Jerry Garcia and Eric Clapton have instant name recognition and are revered for their prowess and longevity. They are heroes all over the world. Their instruments are part of history. Come to think of it, anybody who would criticize the Met for this terrific exhibit would seem to be out of touch with the popular culture’s rhythms (and, yes, blues) for the past six decades.

President & Publisher, Jeanne Straus nyoffice@strausnews.com

STRAUS MEDIA your neighborhood news source nyoffice@strausnews.com 212-868-0190

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Account Executives Fred Almonte, David Dallon Director of Partnership Development Barry Lewis

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Director of Digital Pete Pinto Director, Arts & Entertainment Alizah Salario


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Can’t make it to church?

Calendar NYCNOW

Discover the world around the corner. Find community events, gallery openings, book launches and much more: Go to nycnow.com

EDITOR’S PICK

April 25 - Nov 24 DAY DRINKING: THE BRUNCH MUSICAL New World Stages 340 West 50th St 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m $64 Looking for the quintessential New York brunch experience? You’ll find it at New World Stages in “Day Drinking,” the matinee edition of the smash-hit musical comedy shows about cocktails and spirits. After all, what could be more New York than combining Bellinis and Bloody Marys with an Off-Broadway show in the heart of Manhattan’s world-famous Theatre District? Join four friends as they battle today’s always-connected, over-scheduled world to carve out time to enjoy brunch together. While struggling to prioritize and prepare for their gathering, they learn the stories behind not only well-known brunch drinks but also brunch itself, and come to appreciate the value of making time to break bread and sip drinks with good friends. newworldstages.com/ 646-871-1730

Live Stream at MarbleChurch.org 1 West 29th Street / New York, New York 10001 212 686 2770 / MarbleChurch.org Download the Marble Church App on iPhone or Android

Thu 2

Fri 3

THE DIRECTOR SERIES: SPOILERS

ANOHNI: LOVE ▼

The Magnet Theater 254 West 29th St 10:00 p.m. $7 So you haven’t read the book, and faking your way through your book club roundtable is NOT an option! Don’t worry chum, the cast of Spoilers has you covered! Armed with nothing but an audience suggestion and an Amazon blurb, we will act out the entire book before your very eyes. Better than CliffsNotes! magnettheater.com 212-244-8824

The Kitchen 512 West 19th St 8:00 p.m. $35 The Kitchen presents an expansive new project from

ANOHNI, beginning with LOVE, an exhibition of new works in painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, and video, revolving in part around the figure of The Johnsons’ late member, Dr. Julia Yasuda. thekitchen.org 212-255-5793


MAY 2-8,2019

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Chelsea News|Chelsea Clinton News chelseanewsny.com

Freedom to design Fashion District | 335 West 38th Street, 2nd Floor Ù Ù Ù Ù Ù

3800 SF useable 11'6" ceiling | 50' width x 86' depth North and south walls of windows 38’ width x 6’ depth garden terrace No structural walls

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Under $1000 per SF Legal live/work Only three columns Multiple riser locations Freight elevator

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Sat 4

Mon 6

INFLUENCES OF PRIEST-PATRON RELATIONSHIPS: YUAN DYNASTY (1270–1368) TO THE 17TH CENTURY

THE FLYING BLIND SKETCH SHOW

The Rubin Museum 150 West 17th St 3:00 p.m. $20 This lecture, by Johan Elverskog, explores the development of the priestpatron relationship between Qubilai Khan and the Tibetan Buddhist master Pakpa Lama. and how it defined Sino-Inner Asian history from the time of the Yuan dynasty (1270–1368) up to the rise of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century. rubinmuseum.org 212-620-5000

Sun 5 MONO NO AWARE COMMUNITY SCREENING PROGRAMS ▲ Anthology Film Archives 32 Second Ave 1:00 p.m. $12 These programs will include films made through the educational initiatives of MONO NO AWARE, a cinema-arts nonprofit organization and filmpositive community working to promote connectivity through the cinematic experience. Established in 2007 and based in downtown Brooklyn, MONO NO AWARE presents monthly artist-in-person screenings, facilitates equipment rentals and hosts an annual exhibition for contemporary artists and international filmmakers whose work incorporates Super-8mm, 16mm, 35mm, or altered light projections as part of a live performance or installation. anthologyfilmarchives.org 212-505-5181

UCB Hell’s Kitchen 555 West 42nd St 10:30 p.m. $9 Flying Blind is a sketch show where the actors don’t see their scripts until the moment they’re on stage. Every show is rehearsal one and opening night! ucbtheatre.com 212-366-9176

Tue 7 SETH: CLYDE FANS (W/ GIL ROTH) The Strand 828 Broadway 7:00 p.m. $15 Join acclaimed cartoonist Seth for a discussion and book signing to launch “Clyde Fans,” his highly-anticipated masterpiece. “Clyde Fans” follows Abe and Simon

Matchcard, two brothers whose lives are defined by their doomed family business, selling oscillating fans in a world switching to air conditioning. Seth’s incisive storytelling and gorgeous urban landscapes are showcased in this epic yet intimate time capsule of the mid-century capitalist dream. strandbooks.com 212-473-1452

Wed 8 WHERE WE ARE: SELECTIONS FROM THE WHITNEY’S COLLECTION, 1900– 1960 ▼ The Whitney 99 Gansevoort St 7:00 p.m Free Join for a free, guided tour of “Where We Are: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1900–1960,” led by a Whitney docent. whitney.org 212-570-3600

Live your work at home! Entrepreneurs welcome. Use as primary residence with up to 20 employees. Move-in ready with kitchen and 3 baths or renovation-friendly building to create what you wish.

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Add your style to the kitchen. Imagine this as a giant one bedroom with a massive living room or easily accommodating 3–4 bedrooms, a playroom, den, and room to grow.

Peter Browne Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker m: 347.234.8709 o: 646.327.8792 peter.browne@compass.com

Lofts are catching the eyes of people on this once forgotten gem of a neighborhood discovered by artists years ago. Peter Browne and his customers have been pioneering living and live/work lofts for sale here for over 35 years. Allow Browne-Rowe to keep you informed about your changing neighborhood. Call or email us to get our newsletter. Compass is a licensed real estate broker and abides by equal housing opportunity laws. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is subject to errors, omissions, changes in price, condition, sale, or withdrawal without notice. No statement is made as to the accuracy of any description. All measurements and square footages are approximate. This is not intended to solicit property already listed. Nothing herein shall be construed as legal, accounting or other professional advice outside the realm of real estate brokerage.


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Dame are on view. Because the daguerreotype is not a print, but the equivalent of a negative that we view, the details, though tiny, are extraordinary. Architectural lines and embellishments are crisp, even as the overall image is glazed by a kind of otherworldly opalescence. And, due to a quirk of the chemicals, the sky stands out clear and blue. They’re remarkably moving to see at this moment. Also astonishing are the first photographs ever taken of the Acropolis in Athens, the Temple of Vesta in Rome, the Ramesseum in Thebes, and Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate.

PEERING INTO THE PAST Daguerreotypes from the mid-19th century capture ancient wonders of the world, and the vastness of time itself BY MARY GREGORY

Ever since Heroditus traveled the eastern Mediterranean coastline in about 400 BC and wrote about wonders he encountered in Egypt, travel diaries have captured the attention and imagination of audiences, allowing armchair adventurers to trek vicariously. Visitors to the Met’s “Monumental Journey: The Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey” have an extraordinary chance to journey back in time, in an exhibition that is a fascinating travelogue, an engaging visual novelty, and a deeply poetic rumination on time.

A Man on a Mission Artists have always embraced new technologies. In 1842, only three years after Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre invented the daguerreotype, Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey a French artist, architectural historian, and pioneer of photography, embarked on a three-year journey to places few of his countrymen and women had ever seen. Carrying large, heavy, custommade equipment, chemicals, and fragile glass plates, Girault set out to document the wonders of the ancient world. He captured some of the first photographic images of sites in Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, and Israel. A palpable sense of his journey comes through in

the exhibition, thanks to the presence of his oversized wooden camera, the boxes in which he carried the fragile plates (both before and after exposure), and his innovative plate holder that could be used either horizontally or vertically.

Time Travel The more compelling journey, though, is the one the exhibition offers to times and places as they existed in earlier centuries. Most of the approximately 120 daguerreotypes on view have rarely been seen before. Though small in comparison to what we think of as photographs, such as snapshots, school portraits or wedding pictures, they’re huge (at about 8 x 10 inches) compared to typical daguerreotypes, which are closer to business card size. It makes Girault’s oeuvre all the more exceptional. Along with a selection of Girault’s watercolors, paintings, and illustrations, they’re part of a trove found in the 1920s by his descendants in his crumbling villa. (He died in 1892.) Crates in the attic held over 1,000 carefully stored and labeled pristine daguerreotypes, many depicting places that no longer exist. Perhaps the most poignant, given recent events, is one of the earliest extant photographic images of the rose window of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris. It was taken in 1841, when the medium was only two years old. Four of the thirteen images Girault made of the Notre-

A Treasure Preserved

Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, Rose Window, Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris, 1841, Daguerreotype. Photo: Adel Gorgy.

IF YOU GO WHAT: “Monumental Journey: The Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey” WHERE: The Met 1000 Fifth Avenue, Second Floor WHEN: Through May 12 Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, Ramesseum, Thebes, 1844, Daguerreotype. Photo: Adel Gorgy.

The exhibition, organized by Stephen C. Pinson, is arranged by geographic location. Glass cases present and protect the magical images, carefully and perfectly lit, and we peer into boxes of the past. Images of Beirut, Damascus, and Aleppo under Ottoman rule, picturesque views of Jaffa, streets in Cairo topped by minarets long since fallen, the Dome of the Rock and Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem are all there to see, as they existed over 175 years ago. As we look, time seems both incomprehensibly vast and touchingly near. “Girault returned to France in early 1845 bearing more than one thousand daguerreotypes,” the curatorial statement points out. “No other photographer of the period embarked on such a long excursion or successfully made a quantity of plates anywhere near this amount,” Both as documentary evidence and beautifully composed works of art, Girault’s daguerreotypes are treasures. They present us with our own rich past, even as they lead us to wonder which of these rock-built sites will become no more than lost histories to our descendants.


MAY 2-8,2019

Chelsea News|Chelsea Clinton News chelseanewsny.com

Who Says You Can’t Remain Informed, Engaged, and Inspired?

The NYU School of Professional Studies offers a wide array of nondegree courses that many older adults will find of interest in their desire to continue the lifelong learning process. From remaining current on world politics; to exploring art, great literature, theatre, and history; to gaining the skills to write a short story or your memoir, you will find a wealth of options from which to choose. Courses are taught by experts in their respective fields, who guide you through the content, while encouraging lively classroom discussion. You’ll meet and mingle with classmates who share your interests in a supportive and stimulating learning environment. Reduced Rates for Older Adults The NYU School of Professional Studies offers many courses to older adults at reduced rates. If you are 65 years of age or older, you can receive a 25 percent discount on most non-degree courses, except where otherwise indicated.

To Register: Online: If you have previously taken a course at NYUSPS, visit our website sps.nyu.edu/professional-pathways, locate the course in which you are interested, click on it, and follow the prompts for registration. If you have NEVER taken a course at NYUSPS, visit sps.nyu.edu/login.htm and create a noncredit portal account. Then, register for the course following the directions above. You will need to provide your proof of age at a future time. By Phone: Call 212-998-7150, register and ask for the older adult discount. Mon.–Thurs., 9 a.m.–7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 9 a.m.–5 p.m; and Sun., Closed You will need to provide your proof of age at a future time. In Person: Visit the Office of Noncredit Student Services at 7 East 12th Street. Mon.–Thurs., 9 a.m.–7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 9 a.m.–5 p.m; and Sun., Closed You can provide your proof of age onsite.

List of Courses GLOBAL AFFAIRS Daytime Courses Country Risk: Geopolitics, Policy, and Regulation World Politics: The New Global Power Alignments taught by Ralph Buultjens Weekend Courses Brazil’s Economic Development International Development Trade Wars! Trade Policy in the Trump Administration ARTS & HUMANITIES Daytime Courses Art and Daily Life in Ancient Greece Art Styles through the Ages: From Baroque to the 20th Century Bob Dylan: American Literature’s Defiant Prophet Introduction to Drawing Introduction to Film Music and Sound Latin American Art: From Columbus to the Present New York in the Jazz Age: Art Deco Architecture from Wall Street to Washington Heights Puccini’s Women Reading Dante’s Inferno The Lake District: A History Revealed The Western on Film What is American in American Art, 1925-1975: From Regionalism to Fluxus What is American in American Art, 1975-Present: From Protest Art to Now Weekend Courses The Bible in Literature: Good Books Inspired by the Good Book Nazi Looted Art: Theft, Destruction, Return--But No Redemption?

New York University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity institution. ©2019 NYU School of Professional Studies.

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Chelsea News|Chelsea Clinton News chelseanewsny.com

CENSUS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 could rob New York’s alreadyundercounted communities of color and immigrant communities of fair representation, and could result in New York losing its share of billions in federal funding for vital programs and services, including public housing, children’s nutrition and special education needs. The case centers around the Trump Administration’s addition of a question to the 2020 Census (not asked since 1950): are you a United States citizen? Its inclusion is yet another example of the Trump Administration’s war on immigrant communities. Time and time again, the Administration has tried to undermine communities of color, silence immigrant communities and remake the United States into a land of exclusion instead of inclusion. By adding this question, the Trump Administration is seeking to discourage immigrants from participating in the Census, forcing an undercount in many of our most diverse cities and states. When a city or state is undercounted, the people in those regions lose fair representation in Congress and miss out on their fair share of federal dollars. It is estimated that New York State could lose up to two congressional seats as a result of an undercount. This outcome would

likely occur in other states with large immigrant communities or communities of color, which disproportionately stand to lose their fair share of representation. Simply put: the Trump Administration is trying to use the federal government’s constitutional obligation to count us as a tool to hurt us. In addition to representation, the amount of federal funding in question is also incredibly significant. Over $800 billion in federal funds are allocated by the federal government each year to cities and states for approximately 320 different programs that depend on the Census. Funding for public education, special needs, women in need, senior centers and infrastructure depend on the Census. In 2016 alone, New York State received over $73 billion through 55 programs guided by 2010 Census data. Furthermore, City agencies and businesses rely on Census data to make vital decisions. For example, with the measles outbreak now occurring in the city, the NYC Department of Health relies on Census data to estimate the vaccine uptake and coverage in the affected ZIP codes. While so much is at stake, it was emboldening in January, when U.S. District Court Judge Jesse Furman ruled that the Trump Administration’s addition of the citizenship question

violated federal law. This case was appealed by the Trump Administration, and last week, the Justices of the Supreme Court heard New York’s arguments. We await their decision, but remain confident that the facts — and the law — are on our side. We know that the mere possibility of a citizenship question has already caused damage among immigrant communities. We say to the immigrants in our city and to all communities who might question whether or not the Census is for them: the single best way to fight back and counter the fear the Trump Administration wants us to feel is to fill out that Census form. Next year, for the first time ever, the form will be online, making it easier to take just the few minutes needed to fill it out. Those who might not have internet access will be able to answer the questions over the phone. We have an opportunity here to say: we will not be disenfranchised, and we are entitled to our fair share — from the halls of Congress to the halls of our local schools. We are New Yorkers. We will stand up and we will be counted. Julie Menin is the Director of the Census for New York City and also serves as Executive Assistant Corporation Counsel for Strategic Advocacy. Bitta Mostofi is the Commissioner of the Mayors’ Office of Immigrant Affairs. An earlier version of this piece ran in the Daily News and El Diario.

RESTAURANT INSPECTION RATINGS

LCONTINUED TRAIN FROM PAGE 1 Subway Schedule Changes The L train slowdown, as it’s been branded — as opposed to the earlier plan for a full L train shutdown — allows trains to run with normal frequency during rush hours and weekdays. But riders feel the brunt of the slowdown on nights and weekends, when the L train runs with reduced frequency on a single-track basis through the Canarsie Tunnel, to allow for rehabilitation work on one of the tunnel’s two tubes at a time. On weeknights, the L trains begin running with reduced frequency in both directions at 8 p.m., gradually reaching overnight scheduled headways of 20 minutes between trains by 10 p.m. Twenty minute scheduled waits are also the norm on weekends in both directions between Brooklyn and Manhattan. In anticipation of frequent platform crowding at L train stations on nights and weekends, the MTA has increased service frequency on the M, J, G and 7 trains and suggests riders consider using these alternative routes.

14th Street Corridor The transit authority is also encouraging L train riders traveling within Manhattan to use the M14A or M14D bus to get across town. These buses will run more frequently than the L train on nights and weekends, including every four to five minutes on weeknights between 8 p.m. and midnight. On weekends the M14A/D will run with scheduled headways of 3 minutes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. In June, the MTA and Department of Transportation will launch Select Bus

Juice & Joy - Organic Coffee

434 6th Ave

Not Yet Graded (32) Food Protection Certificate not held by supervisor of food operations. Appropriately scaled metal stem-type thermometer or thermocouple not provided or used to evaluate temperatures of potentially hazardous foods during cooking, cooling, reheating and holding. Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred.

Up and Down

244 West 14 Street

CLOSED (75) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation. Raw, cooked or prepared food is adulterated, contaminated, crosscontaminated, or not discarded in accordance with HACCP plan. Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Hand washing facility not provided in or near food preparation area and toilet room. Hot and cold running water at adequate pressure to enable cleanliness of employees not provided at facility. Soap and an acceptable hand-drying device not provided. Tobacco use, eating, or drinking from open container in food preparation, food storage or dishwashing area observed. Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service. Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred.

Hu Kitchen

78 5 Avenue

A

Vivi Bubble Tea

18A W 14th St

A

Offside Tavern

137 W 14th St

Not Yet Graded (40) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service.

APR 17 - 23, 2018 The following listings were collected from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s website and include the most recent inspection and grade reports listed. We have included every restaurant listed during this time within the zip codes of our neighborhoods. Some reports list numbers with their explanations; these are the number of violation points a restaurant has received. To see more information on restaurant grades, visit www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/services/ restaurant-inspection.shtml. Jack’s Stir Brew Coffee

500 W 33rd St

A

Sushi Para 88

212 W 14th St

A

Highline Cafe

85 10th Ave

A

Tings

75 9th Ave

Not Yet Graded (37) Food not cooled by an approved method whereby the internal product temperature is reduced from 140º F to 70º F or less within 2 hours, and from 70º F to 41º F or less within 4 additional hours. Food from unapproved or unknown source or home canned. Reduced oxygen packaged (ROP) fish not frozen before processing; or ROP foods prepared on premises transported to another site. Food Protection Certificate not held by supervisor of food operations. Hand washing facility not provided in or near food preparation area and toilet room. Hot and cold running water at adequate pressure to enable cleanliness of employees not provided at facility. Soap and an acceptable hand-drying device not provided.

Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill

47 West 14 Street

A

Service along the M14 corridor as part of an effort reduce the time buses spend waiting at stops or in traffic. In connection with SBS implementation, the DOT announced April 24 that it will make significant changes to 14th Street aimed at increasing speed and reliability along the route. Under DOT’s plan, through traffic on 14th Street will be restricted to buses, trucks and emergency vehicles between Third and Ninth Avenues. Cars will be permitted to turn on to 14th Street to access garages and make pick-ups and drop-offs, but will be forced to make right turns off 14th Street at the earliest possible intersection. The 14th Street redesign includes dedicated travel lanes for buses and trucks that will be enforced by automated cameras. The MTA and DOT are considering removing a number of local bus stops, primarily in the East Village and Lower East Side, as part of the SBS plan. “I am pleased that there will be bus priority on 14 Street, as well as deliveries, and that the nearly 30,000 riders who use the M14 route will move quickly to and from their destinations,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said in a statement. “I am also in favor of local stops on the Lower East Side where the M14A/D is essentially the only transportation available to many residents who are older and low-income, but I congratulate DOT and MTA on the overall proposal.” The DOT also announced that it intends to permanently retain bike lanes installed last year on 12th and 13th Street to accommodate an anticipated increase in cyclists during the L train slowdown.


MAY 2-8,2019

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Chelsea News|Chelsea Clinton News chelseanewsny.com

WHAT’S SO

funny

ABOUT NEW YORK?

It’s the setting of iconic sitcoms, home to “Saturday Night Live,” the talk shows of Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers, legendary comedy clubs and enough comedians and comedy writers to fill the L train, if it ever arrives. The joke’s on us, America, and you’re welcome. BY DAVID NOONAN

I was walking down Broadway one sunny afternoon on the Upper West Side in 1978 when I noticed a woman up ahead of me, walking in the same direction. There were other people walking down Broadway that afternoon, but the woman I noticed was the only one wearing a bowler hat. And it wasn’t just any bowler, it was a bowler with a hole neatly cut in the back to accommodate the woman’s ponytail, which was swinging gently with the rhythm of her walk. I was moving a bit faster than she was, and as I passed her I realized it was Gilda Radner. Of course! Who else would wear that hat? Who else could? Gilda, an Upper West Sider, was one of the stars of “Saturday Night Live,” which had just completed its third season, and her one-woman show, “Gilda Radner – Live From New York,” would soon be a smash hit on Broadway. If she wasn’t the funniest person in New York at the time (She was!), she was certainly on the short list. Forty-one years later, and just a few blocks to the north, I watched the current holder of the title, Upper West Sider Jerry Seinfeld, tear the house down at the Beacon Theatre in a set that lasted more than an hour. This was not TV Jerry, not that there’s anything wrong with TV Jerry, the laconic bystander, the sardonic eye at the center of the wacky

and absurd “Seinfeld” storm. This was high-energy Jerry, master of the stand up arts, alone on stage in a suit and tie, serving up one superbly written bit after another, each perfectly paced and, yes, acted out. Naturally, his explications of New York life – he’s had it with restaurants in general, especially the ones that “drizzle” various fluids on your food – got some of the biggest laughs. It was Seinfeld’s 2019 Beacon residency, which started in January and will continue through November (details here www.jerryseinfeld.com ) that inspired this special section about comedy in New York. When I heard about the shows, I was struck by the fact that the guy who co-created one of the great New York sitcoms of all time, which is set on the Upper West side, who also lives on the Upper West Side, likes to perform at a theater just a few blocks from his apartment. Hey, why go downtown or all the way over to the East Side when you can stay in the neighborhood and work? That’s such a New York thing. Like fussy Felix Unger moving in with his sloppy pal Oscar Madison when his wife kicks him out. Or the Jeffersons confirming their success in life by moving from Queens to an Upper East Side high-rise. Or Mrs. Maisel coping with her own wrecked marriage by getting up onstage and joking about it. Or the regular com-

ics at the Comedy Cellar in the Village mercilessly mocking Pete Holmes, the out-of-towner trying to make it in the big city on HBO’s “Crashing.” As the accompanying map illustrates, and the stories in this section confirm, New York is a funny town. And because it’s New York, it’s funny in a relentlessly ambitious, edgy and determined way. Being funny is hard work, New York is a hard-working town and funny people come here to work hard at being funny, like the improv performers Joshua Nasser hung out with, and the women comics Emily Mason wrote about. Sure, some of our funny people go to Los Angeles, like Q & A subject Danny Jacobson. But when they get there they make hit shows about New York, like “Mad About You,” which Jacobson co-created with Paul Reiser. Of course, no exploration of New York comedy would be complete without a piece that New Yorkers can argue about, and Jon Friedman’s theory about “Seinfeld’s” parentage takes care of that. I didn’t say anything to Gilda Radner that day on Broadway – New Yorkers leave their celebrities in peace – but that fleeting moment remains one of my fondest memories of those years. What’s so funny about New York? A ponytail sticking out of a bowler hat, for one thing.

Image by Susan Faiola

There’s just no substitute for live comedy. Here are 11 of the best clubs in the city.

New York Comedy Club 241 East 24th Street 212-696-5233 newyorkcomedyclub.com

Comedy Cellar 117 Macdougal St 212-254-3480 Comedycellar.com

The Stand Restaurant and Comedy Club 116 East 16th St 212-677-2600 thestandnyc.com

Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre 555 West 42nd St 212-366-9176 ucbtheatre.com

Stand Up NY 236 W 78th St 212-595-0850 standupny.com

Carolines on Broadway 1626 Broadway 212-757-4100 carolines.com

Gotham Comedy Club 208 West 23rd St 212-367-9000 gothamcomedyclub.com

Dangerfield’s First Ave & East 61st St 212-593-1650 dangerfield’s.com

The PIT 123 East 24th St (212) 563-7488 thepit-nyc.com

Magnet Theater 254 West 29th St 212-244-8824 magnettheater.com

Comic Strip Live 1568 Second Ave 212-861-9386 comicstriplive.com


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Chelsea News|Chelsea Clinton News chelseanewsny.com

MAY 2-8,2019

THE IMPROVISERS They make it up as they go along, but don’t be fooled, New York’s best improv groups are disciplined and highly-trained. Oh, yeah, they’re funny, too. BY JOSHUA NASSER

New York is live comedy heaven. Whatever you want to do – lighten your mood after a long day at work, hear a funny and creative twist on the latest news, have your mind blown by a provocative new voice or laugh at some faux Shakespeare – there is a club, performer or group that will meet your needs. So, where does it all come from? How do comedians get their start? Most seem to come out of one of two places: stand-up or improv. Stand-up comedy has always been huge in New York, but improv has

definitely grown in recent years. This can be explained in part by an influx of comedians from Chicago, where improv has been a central part of the comedy scene since the legendary Second City improv group was founded there in 1959. But New York is more than holding its own these days, thanks to two top Manhattan troupes – the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) and the Magnet Theater. Both offer improv classes in addition to regular performances, and each has its own style and approach to the art form. Their improv “philosophies,” if you will, are quite different.

The UCB Approach UCB was founded in 1999 by the UCB4 -- Amy Poehler, Matt Walsh, Matt Besser, & Ian Roberts. The theater

started off as a place where performers could put on their own shows, but over time it became much more than that as they developed their own curriculum and began sharing their ideas about improv with students. UCB has one core belief and that is to “follow the game.” Following the game (or just game, for short) means you must find what is funny or unusual about a scene, draw attention to it, and hit on it as much as you can. An example would be if you were in a scene with someone and they told you the only way they could fall asleep was by eating socks. That behavior would be called out and the scene would more or less become about that. It’s a very calculated way of being funny, and the best performers at the theater can mix this

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Just another day at Upright Citizens Brigade. Photo: Courtesy UCB via Instagram

calculation with their own personal brand of humor. In addition to the founders, many notable performers have come out of UCB. The list is long, and includes Donald Glover (“Atlanta”), Chris Gethard (“The Chris Gethard Show”) and Kate McKinnon of “Saturday Night Live,” to name a few.

Out of Their Heads As for more recent comedians, there are plenty of good ones, including Brandon Dzirko, a member of a UCB house team. (House teams are groups of regular performers who work together.) “I love the UCB play-style because anytime you’re on stage, it feels like you’re building something completely from scratch,” Dzirko said, when asked what drew him to UCB. “You and your scene partner are using the tools you learned in classes, including game, to communicate and navigate the scene. You’re taught to play in a way that gets you out of your head and into the scene, leading to fun discoveries and surprises.” For Dzirko, and lots of others, UCB is much more than a stage and a place to be funny. “UCB has always provided me with an environment that pushes me to grow, while providing the tools and support network to make that possible,” he said. “The experience and community I’ve gained being a part of this school has meant so much to me. Improv is my favorite thing in the world, and I’m glad I chose UCB.”

A Dual Mission That Dzirko, an established

group member, still refers to UCB as a school, speaks to its dual mission – to entertain audiences and teach new performers the deceptively rigorous mental and physical skills required for success. “UCB has a really strong, very focused idea of how improvisational comedy is done, as an art form,” said Harry Wood, a current UCB student. “What UCB has done that not many theaters have done is to clearly define the styles they support.” Before coming to UCB, Wood had only done montages, the most general and free-form style of improv. What drew him to UCB, he said, was the importance it puts on developing specific skills for a particular style of performance. “That razor focus and opportunity to train inside a clearly defined school of thought appealed to me,” Wood said. UCB has the advantage of pedigree and name recognition that a lot of comedy theaters don’t, Wood notes, and he acknowledges that some people might be skeptical, or turned off by its stature. “What I’d say to that is this,” he said, “the people who are at the core of UCB are not just incredible performers, but they’re reasonable teachers and kind supporters. I’m not particularly interested in declaring one theater is better or worse than another–I think that every student should move from place to place to get a little style from each. But I do think that UCB has gathered a suite of teachers and performers that let it, on a regular basis, live up to its very high reputation.” The bottom line: for people inter-

ested in a more calculated approach to improv, UCB is the way to go.

The Magnet Approach The Magnet Theater, founded by Armando Diaz in 2005, has more of a Chicago-style approach to improv, with a greater focus on character and relationships. The Magnet, which has produced, and is home to, many top performers, including Charles Rogers (creator of “Search Party”), Jason Mantzoukas (“The League”) and the improv duo Trike, teaches students to work more off of their own emotions. So, if you enter a scene sad, you stay sad and you go through the scene as that sad character and interact with the other characters and the environment on stage. It’s a less calculated, more free flowing style.

‘Find the Most Fun Thing’ “Watching a Magnet show, you’re struck by a style somewhat looser than you might find at [UCB],” said former Magnet house team member, Collin Gossel, “but which ultimately highlights the ensemble and its camaraderie more than the clever ideas generated by individuals on the team. Performers at the Magnet are at all times building and playing together, searching for fun organically, with the easygoing atmosphere of professionals who know they don’t have to invent – they can find the most fun thing if they travel together for an honest moment.” It’s no surprise, Gossel added, that the same style has extended into the Magnet community at large, making it one of the friendli-


MAY 2-8,2019

est places in the comedy community. Whether you want to become an improv star or just want to laugh with some new friends, he said, the Magnet “will help you get there.” Current house team member, Rachel Robertson, who never took classes at Magnet, has a different perspective. “As someone who just came in as an outsider, hungry for stage time, I could not pinpoint one discernible performance style, and I love that,” she said. “What I mean is, considering that most of the performers were trained at the Magnet, it never seemed like anyone was working off of a ‘comedy template’ so to

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speak. The only trait that is shared show-to-show is the support and energy between performers.”

Don’t Forget the Weirdness Of course, there’s also the weirdness. After all, this is comedy we’re talking about. “When I joined my first Magnet sketch team, Raw Denim,” Robertson said, “I got the sense very quickly that we all had the freedom to get weird with each other and the audience, in the best possible way. And the more shows I see, the more teams I’m on, and the more performers I meet, I realize Magnet just promotes an environment of refresh-

ing, creative weirdness. And it’s not pessimistic or bitter. It’s exploratory. Sometimes it flops, but mostly it’s good, pure comedy by performers who aren’t being paid. A lot of them never plan to be paid for comedy, and are doing all of this for the joy of it.” If you’re looking to learn the art of improv, these two theaters are your best bets. If you’re unsure, go see a show. Whichever one you choose, you’ll be learning from some of the finest performers the city has to offer. Joshua Nasser is a New York-based comedian.

Business as usual at Magnet Theater. Photo: Courtesy of Magnet Theater via Instagram

‘IT COMES DOWN TO DOING WHAT YOU KNOW’ The co-creator of “Mad About You” on why so many sitcoms are set in New York, “Seinfeld’s” buzzer problem and why George Carlin is like a cabbie BY DAVID NOONAN

Danny Jacobson is a very specific kind of New Yorker — the kind who lives in Los Angeles. The kind who was born in Brooklyn (Park Slope) and moved to Westchester (Larchmont) when he was nine. The kind who auditioned for “Grease” on a dare in his 20s, won the part of Kenickie and moved to the Upper West Side. The kind who follows the Yankees the way the Pope follows the ten commandments, which is to say religiously. The kind who, despite nearly 40 years in Southern California, retains the rasp of a cab driver and the determined un-mellowness of a true New Yorker. Jacobson is also funny, in a very professional and successful kind of a way. He got his start in comedy writing sketches for Stiller & Meara, then worked with Billy Crystal on “Soap.” He was head writer and supervising producer on “Roseanne” for its first two seasons, and helped its star establish herself as a bold new voice in American

Jacobson today. “Friends” star Lisa Kudrow credits him with giving her a start in show business when he cast her as a waitress in “Mad About You.” Photo: Courtesy of Danny Jacobson

comedy. He next created “Davis Rules,” which starred Jonathan Winters, who won his only Emmy for his role on the show. And he was the co-creator, with Paul Reiser, of “Mad About You,” the hit 1990s sitcom that starred Reiser and Helen Hunt as a young couple seeking success and satisfaction in Manhattan. I’ve known Danny for years (he’s a lifelong friend of my wife and her family) and I called him recently to talk about New York and comedy. After a detailed description of a Yankees come-from-infront loss to the White Sox the night before, he shared his thoughts.

What is it about New York that makes it such a rich source of, and setting for, comedy?

For comedy to live, one of the things it requires is an audience, and New York is a city where you can have nine packed Broadway houses, a packed basketball arena and a Yankee game and a Met game going on and still have people outside in line waiting to get into comedy clubs.

And what is it about New Yorkers themselves? The people in New York, they’re more crowded, they’re more stressed, they’re more frantic, they’re more type A. And all that stuff adds up to one thing — conflict. There are more people, in a closer space, in conflict. Everyone’s experiencing that kind of misery, so if you write an episode about it, everyone gets it. We wrote an episode once where Paul and Helen wanted to go somewhere, but because of the crowds of people watching the Gay Pride parade, they couldn’t get out of their apartment. People from New York get it, and people in the middle of Michigan get it too. They get the idea, ‘Oh my god, I’m trapped inside with my wife or my husband all day.’

The list of sitcoms set in New York is long, as you know. “The Honeymooners” in the ‘50s, “The Dick Van Dyke Show” in the ‘60s,

“The Jeffersons” in the ‘70s, “Taxi” in the ‘80s, “Seinfeld,” your show, “30 Rock,” “Broad City,” to name just a few. No other city comes close. Why is that? It’s so important for somebody that has a comedy point of view to be doing it comfortably. When the network told Lucille Ball, in the 1950s, ‘There’s no way we’re giving you a Cuban husband.’, she was like ‘Well, there’s no way I’m doing the show.’ It wasn’t about politics or race, it was about this is the man she feels funniest and most comfortable with. So to protect the comedy, that’s what they did. If you look at every one of the shows that’s ever been developed for a comic voice — Paul Reiser, Jewish guy who grew up in New York; Jackie Gleason, blue-collar guy who grew up in Brooklyn, that’s what their shows were. Jerry Seinfeld, that’s what his show was, being observational, not trying to be the acting force, standing around with a trio of people in little stupid situations that likened themselves to his comedy. Shows are in New York because that’s what the people know, that’s where they come from. Our show was set in New York because Paul and I, the creators, we grew up there and that’s what

we wanted to do. And also, I wanted his character to be a struggling independent filmmaker, and that seemed right. With Ralph Kramden, you had a guy who was a New York City bus driver who was ashamed of his upstairs neighbor who worked in the sewer, who lived better. So that’s pretty specific New York. And those two characters, like Laurel and Hardy, they would have been funny probably anywhere. But New York is where they were from. And the networks, their belief is, it doesn’t matter. I’ve never had a network say to me, ‘We would love for this show to be set in New York.’ Just like no one ever said, ‘Oh. Let’s have Roseanne live in an apartment in Los Angeles.’ It comes down to doing what you know. When comedy gets too far from its roots, it fails. It’s like any other art.

And yet so many of these New York shows, including yours, were or are filmed in LA. The business that Hollywood is in is illusion. The production is saying to you ‘Imagine that they live in New York and this is what their world is.’ If someone wants to raise their hand and go ‘Listen, I’ve been laughing for 10 minutes but I’m not convinced that it’s actually New

York.’ That doesn’t happen.

Time for some quick takes. “Seinfeld.” Who has an apartment in New York in the 1990s and every time someone buzzes they say ‘Come on up.’ I once said to Jerry at a party, ‘I’m waiting for the episode where you say ‘Come on up’ and two guys come in and rob your apartment.’

“Friends” I don’t know that show as well as I probably should, but if somebody said to me,’”Friends” took place in Philadelphia.’ I’d say ‘Oh, that’s interesting.’ But, you know, a bunch of kids, single, in an apartment. Where else in this world would you want to be, especially in the 90s? New York!

George Carlin Totally a New York style. Because his main thing is complaining about stuff. He’s like a cab driver driving by and saying ‘What kind of sh** is that? What the f***?’

Final question. What’s so funny about New York? In New York City there is a greater concentration of people that are needing to laugh, wanting to laugh, willing to laugh and able to make you laugh.


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feels that her comedy career is ahead of her. Five years into the scene, she still sees herself as a newcomer. It can take 10 to 15 years to really hit a stride, she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no reason to do it. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to lose money and sanity. But when itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s great, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s great.â&#x20AC;?

ARIEL LEATY Ariel Leatyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s comedy medy career started with a dream that many novice comics share: to work k for â&#x20AC;&#x153;Saturday Night Live.â&#x20AC;? ve.â&#x20AC;? Her ďŹ rst step into the he scene was an open en mic in New Jersey in 2014, and she hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t nâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stopped since. Today, Leaty prooduces, hosts, and pererforms in shows in New ew Jersey and New York. ork. Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also thankful for her day job as a sales associate at a bitters company, which gets her into the city for open mics, a necessary pain for anyone pursuing a career in comedy.

Open-Mic Life Leaty describes the mics â&#x20AC;&#x201D; which can happen anywhere, from barber shops, to shoe stores, to bars â&#x20AC;&#x201D; as rooms full of other comedians waiting for their chance to get on stage to test and perfect their material during the typically two-minute spots. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re constantly doing the same thing over and over again,â&#x20AC;? Leaty said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the devil in the details, you have to keep working at it. And then, finally, you have a well-crafted joke, and maybe it took you months.â&#x20AC;? Her ďŹ rst show was a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;bringerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; where you have to bring at least ďŹ ve people to the show if you want to perform. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s one of many types of mics on the scene. Leaty has gotten used to the open-mic experience, even when she doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get the laughs sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s looking for. â&#x20AC;&#x153;No one actually cares about you,â&#x20AC;? Leaty said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the advice I give myself every day. If I do bomb, no one actually cares. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not going to go home and write about it. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going to be me who feels

RITU CHANDRA Ariel Leaty. Photo: Jenni Walkowiak

the bomb, and I have to work through it.â&#x20AC;?

Diversity Now Adding to the lackluster experience of performing at open mics, Leaty said that the shows often lacked diversity. So, she and her friend Gordon Baker are producing their own, called Culture Vultures, featuring comics from a range of communities and backgrounds. That means more women, too. â&#x20AC;&#x153;A lot of shows, the lineup will be five straight white males, and I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want that for the show.â&#x20AC;? Leaty said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If we can, letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s try not to get any straight white males on the show, so itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ss all people who have maybe be been overlooked in the comedy scene.â&#x20AC;? While Leaty eaty loves stand up, she he doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know if itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s her comedic endgame. e. She holds onto to the dream that started it all, ll, and said she might like ke to end up in comedic dic acting. Whereverr she la nds, Leat eat y Ritu Chandra. Photo: Dani Allen en Photography

Ritu Chandra spends her weekdays caring for her 11-year-old son in the suburbs of New Jersey. But at night sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in Manhattan comedy clubs, cracking up audiences with her outspoken humor. Cha nd ra, who a lways dreamt of performing, grew up with immigrant parents from India who encouraged her to find a more reliable career. For her, comedy has been a release from inhibitions, and she revels in the opportunity to tackle motherhood, sobriety, and starting a new life at 40.

The Crisis Begins Her self-described mid-life crisis began with a comedy class at the Comedy Cellar. By her second session she knew comedy was more than a passing â&#x20AC;&#x153;Somehobby. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Some thing just changed,â&#x20AC;? Chandra said said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;where I think I felt I


MAY 2-8,2019

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connected to the audience when I was performing, and a connection to the stage. I was like, ‘Oh this is really fun, I really want to keep trying this.’” As she started going to more open mics, Chandra began to build a network and name for herself. “It was really different from being a suburban forty-something mom. Now I’m out and hanging out with all these young comedians, and it was just a totally alternative lifestyle that really suited me,” Chandra said. ”I was in a world where I could say whatever I wanted and no one judged me, which was completely different from my normal life.”

On the Town Her suburban community may not have expected her to put the effort in to become a working comic, but sure enough, Chandra is out on the comedy circuit most nights of the week. Her friends and family have had to adjust to her new lifestyle, but she is grateful for their support. “I married my husband when we were in our late 20s, and he did not marry me expecting that I would start being out five nights a week until two in the morning with strange people, strange men mostly,” Chandra said. “He has to be a super pa-

tient, understanding, and supportive person to put up with that.” Chandra wants her son to be a part of her comedy career as well. She takes him to shows and wants him to learn and be exposed to what the comedy community has to offer. “I want him to have a good sense of humor,” Chandra said. “I think that’s important in life. I also want him to see that there’s the traditional way to work and make money, but if you have a dream you can try that too.”

ABBI CRUTCHFIELD Abbi Crutchfield has appeared on The Tyra Banks Show, VH1 Hip Hop Honors with Tracy Morgan, acted in movies and performed at some of New York’s biggest comedy clubs. According to her website, she does top-notch Texas and Russian accents to boot. Crutchfield graduated from Georgetown University as a foreign service major, and there must be something funny in the water at the school,

which also gave uss comedians John Mulaney, Jim Gaffi gan and Mike ffigan Birbiglia.

Airing It Out Crutchfield grew w up in Indianapolis and navigated vigated life as a biracial girl with a single mother, themes which have made their way into nto her material. She moved home me after college and started saving ng money for a move to New York or Los Anngeles. She chose New York, dove into the stand up scene here and started unpacking her life struggles on stage. “Airing them out publicly makes it feel like a lot less of a boogie monster,” Crutchfield said. “It feelss more like a silly thing that I can laugh at, and I can even laugh

at myself for wrestling with wre it.” up ofWhile stand s way to sort fered a w through difficult emotions, workemotio ing full time while t pursuing a career in comedy left le Crutchfield as exhausted — exh — as and misunderstood misunder she’d ever eve felt in her life. “Nobody life cares about your comedy career until they can see you on The Tonight Show,” Crutchfield said. ““They don’t understand u the work you’re putting into pu it. They tthink of it

BY JON FRIEDMAN

Since “Seinfeld” went off the air in 1998, fans, television historians, pundits, sociologists and probably a stray anthropologist or two have studied the quintessential “New York” situation comedy to answer some elusive but fundamental questions. Why was it so popular that it defined the decade of the 1990s? And successful as the No. 1 show on TV? And identifiable, somehow, for people in far-off places like Indiana and Kentucky and North Dakota, who say “yada yada” with the same affection as someone in Barney Greengrass? And what, exactly, made “Seinfeld” so funny in the first place that it lives on and on and on in syndication? I know. In fact, only I have the correct answer.

A Different Group of Losers Remember, while “Seinfeld” showed Manhattan in an indelible light, it was not the first series to make the city a major supporting character and establish that the show could not have taken place anywhere else. “Seinfeld” became infamous for being “a show about nothing.” But that charming marketing tag line was not quite accurate. It was a show about the lives of four misanthropic Upper West Side pals — Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer — and the other neighbors, parents, lovers and coworkers who intruded comically from time to time into their lives. Just as crucially, to the people who loved the show in Nebraska and Texas and Georgia and, oh yes, back in Jerry Seinfeld’s hometown of Massapequa on Long Island, it was a show about something else, all right: New York City. For that reason, Jerry & Co. owe a big debt to a show that made us laugh and think a decade earlier,

from the e late 1970s 0s to the early l 1980s. The program was called, simply, “Taxi.” “Taxi” was a stunning show — funny, of course, but different from previous sitcoms. Its main characters were losers, judging by normal societal measures. A lifelong cabbie, a vulgar dispatcher, an immigrant mechanic, a burnt-out Harvard man, a punching-bag of a boxer, an actor who could barely get auditions and a beautiful single mother who managed an art gallery in her spare time. They weren’t wealthy. They weren’t successful. Their dreams would probably never come true. And their love lives served as comic fodder.

Better Together Than Apart Yet, there they all were, gathered to-

The Long Game She learned firsthand the hard lessons, and weird contradictions, of life as a stand up. “I was beating myself up after [a stand up set] and feeling like ‘Oh, that was awful,’ Crutchfield said. “And then the only redemption would be to get back up and do it again.” As she progressed through her career, though, she realized that negativity harmed her creativity. “It’s a long game,” she said, “and you’re not going to see results until much later than you thought. And whether you’re positive or not is up to you.” For example, she said, it’s important to be happy for other comedians’ successes, and to remember not to take opportunities for granted. “Let’s just appreciate the moment, because that’s exactly what I would want for myself. I would want you to be happy for me,” said Crutchfield. “Let’s just all feel great and then we’ll all be back to the drawing board tomorrow.”

Abbi Crutchfield. Photo: Sheldon Walker

MY SEINFELD THEORY The wildly successful New York sitcom of the 1990s owes a big debt to a wildly successful New York sitcom of a decade earlier

as a hobby, like you show up and do a little skit and you get people to laugh at you.”

MEAN?” And Bobby, increasingly exasperated, repeatedly replied: “Slow down!” www.youtube.com

Making the Case Hell’s gether in the Hel K itchen ga rage, rag which became the centerpiece for the show (a forerunner to the bar in “Cheers”) and at Mario’s, the bar-restaurant next door. “Taxi” thrived because of the camaraderie of the endearing losers. “Endearing” is the word that best captures their appeal to a television audience, too. They were better together than apart. You couldn’t really imagine a spin off starring any of the characters. Such a show would not have had much of a shot sustaining the public’s interest. But their interactions and conversations morphed into memorable story lines. Who can forget Christopher Lloyd’s tour de force when Rev. Jim, while taking the written part of the driving test, repeatedly asked: “What ... does... a ... yel-low... light ...

“Seinfeld” seemed to take inspiration from “Taxi,” mostly by using New York City as a supporting character. Here, most of the action took place in the central location of Jerry’s living room. The characters were hardly stars in their chosen professions (whatever Kramer’s was, for that matter). The plots on “Seinfeld” swirled around Jerry, who acted as the voice of reason, just as Judd Hirsch’s Alex Rieger had done so deftly on “Taxi.” The “Seinfeld” masterminds even named their female lead Elaine, in what might have been an homage to “Taxi.” Who knows? Larry David, the co-creator of “Seinfeld,” was a cast member of a short-lived ABC late-night show called “Fridays” at around the time when “Taxi” was a big hit on the same network. Perhaps Larry observed “Taxi” from the inside? Maybe he drew inspiration from the most original aspects of such a smart and witty show? You might say that “Seinfeld” was a show about something after all — namely the best of “Taxi.”


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Business

‘GARDEN AND SEA’ IN MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS FOOD Bookbook owner Carolyn Epstein with employee David Hammerschlag. Photo: Jason Cohen

TURNING THE PAGE ON BOOKBOOK CLOSINGS West Village independent bookstore to shut after 35 years BY JASON COHEN

After more than three decades of being a fixture in the Village as an independent bookstore in the Village, bookbook will be shuttering its doors on May 15. Located at 266 Bleecker Street, bookbook has been owned and operated by Chuck and Carolyn Epstein since 1984. The store’s original address was 400 Bleecker Street, and it was then known as the Biography Book Shop. The mom and pop book store features recent and backlist fiction, children’s books, travel, history, drama, cookbooks, art and fashion books and other subjects. Carolyn Epstein explained that it has been a fun, long ride, but that she at the age of 70 and her husband at 69 felt it was time to call it quits. “At this point, we kind of had enough; we’re tired,” she said. “I’m kind of looking forward to not having any responsibility.” Epstein said the book business runs in the blood of her and her husband. Prior to owning the store, she was a sales rep for Simon & Schuster and Chuck’s mother owned a bookstore in Stony Brook. “We just kind of always did it and liked being around books,” she remarked. According to Epstein, when they opened their store 35 years ago they had no business plan, but simply wanted to put their passion to good use. After a few years of seeing that biographies were not what the com-

munity wanted, they shifted to fiction, non-fiction and other books. Then by the early 90s they added remainders, which changed their business. Remaindered books are printed books that are no longer selling well and whose remaining unsold copies are liquidated by the publisher at greatly reduced prices. “Remainders have helped us a lot,” she said. She looked back on their time in the Village and said as much as she and her husband have enjoyed owning the store, it was never easy. It is a small bookstore in the city, Epstein said, not Amazon. Certain times, especially during the recession in the 2000’s, were challenging, she said. “It was hard keeping up on the bills and all that,” she noted. Epstein explained that as 2019 began she and her husband realized it was time for a new chapter in their lives. They hope to travel, maybe live in Spain for a year and ultimately just relax. She noted that with the changing economic times and online retail, they have had to work much harder recently than they did in the past. “It’s not just rent and sales taxes,” she said. “We’re not in a position to keep putting money into the store.” But they still intend to be a presence in the community. Once they close, the Epsteins plan to be at the Abingdon Square Farmers Market on the corner of Hudson and 12th Streets on most Saturdays, with tables full of interesting books and a selection of greeting cards. Periodically, they also plan on having tables by the pickle stand on Carmine Street, between Sixth Avenue and Bleecker Street.

A restaurateur with experience in real estate opens a new family-run Italian eatery BY JASON COHEN

Morningside Heights is now home to a new restaurant featuring authentic Italian cuisine. Located at 994 Columbus Avenue and 109th Street, Ortomare Ristorante Pizzeria opened its doors in early February. The eatery is a small family-run place, owned by husband and wife Alfredo and Arta Hila and Eddie Hila, Alfredo’s brother. “Everybody who worked in the restaurant industry a long time our goal is to open one,” Alfredo said. The restaurant seats 60 people and provides a warm cozy atmosphere with affordable prices. It offers ravioli, fresh vegetables, homemade fettuccine, grilled salmon, brick oven pizza, tiramisu, wine and much more. Its signature dishes are Appetizer Ortomare, Papardelle Ortomare and Pizza Ortomare. More importantly, its lunch of two courses only costs $14 and three courses is $18. The name — Orto e mare, translated to “Garden and Sea” in Italian — means to prepare meals with the highest quality ingredients from the land and the sea. Born in Albania, Alfredo moved to Rome at the age of seven. It was there where he learned about food, restaurants and found his passion. He worked for his uncle Clementine in his restaurant and many others for 15 years, helping him master his trade. However, in 2010, his wife came to America to study at Columbia University for her Ph.D. in international law. He shortly followed and joined her here. Alfredo continued to work in restaurants in the city, but in 2015, he became a licensed real estate broker. As a broker, he educated himself on the restaurant industry in New York. Now, with his restaurant

Out of the pizza oven. Photo: Arta Kola

background and newly acquired real estate experience, he felt they were ready for their first restaurant. “We started planning it in October and it opened rather quickly,” he said. Now after a few months in the community, he feels things are headed in the right direction. Alfredo acknowledged that owning a restaurant can be a challenge, especially in New York City. With high taxes, rent and needing to worry about things 24 hours a day, he has a lot on his plate.

“The restaurant industry is very hard, it’s not easy,” he explained. “When you know what you’re doing you’re not nervous.” Alfredo explained that what he likes most is being with his clientele. Seeing them enjoy the food and the restaurant makes his 25 years and hard work in the industry worthwhile, he said. “I feel like I am fulfilling myself,” he commented. “The community is very welcoming. I just keep looking forward. I never look back.”


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MAY 2-8,2019

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NURTURING BROADWAY’S NEXT HITS THEATER Hal Brooks is the common denominator among this season’s standout plays “Hillary and Clinton” and “What the Constitution Means to Me” BY MARK NIMAR

The 2018-2019 season for New York theater has been a remarkable one. Shows like “Hillary and Clinton,” a play set in a parallel universe about a woman named Hillary running for President, have not only entertained us, but also challenged us to think about what the real Hillary’s two runs for president meant for the country. The upcoming play “Continuity” by Bess Wohl, at the Manhattan Theatre Club on the Upper West Side, shows us what it is like to be a woman in a position of power in Hollywood. And the surprise hit “What the Constitution Means to Me” by Heidi Schreck has engaged us in a dialogue about our laws and their effects on our everyday lives. On Tuesday, “Constitution” and “Hillary and Clinton” both received Tony nominations. There is one man who is the common denominator among these standout shows. Brooklyn-based director and Yale School of Drama professor Hal Brooks has had a hand in developing all of these plays. Brooks is the artistic director of the Cape Cod Theatre Project, a non-for profit summer theater dedicated to developing new American plays. Located in Falmouth, MA, CCTP — which is looking ahead to its 25th anniversary this summer — produces staged readings of four new American plays during the month of July. During a

Hal Brooks (right), with (from left) director Adrienne Campbell-Holt and writer/producer P.K. Simonds, discussing CCTP’s 2018 production of “Bearded Ladies,” which Simonds wrote and Campbell-Holt directed. Photo: Beth Armstrong

show’s designated week, the playwright rehearses, revises, and puts on his or her play before a live audience. Plays often change drastically in the week they have for both performance and rehearsal, so audiences have the opportunity to witness a play’s evolution in real time. While some of these shows never make it to Broadway, or even a fully staged production, that is not CCTP’s objective. “The goal isn’t nor should be to have a play come up to the Cape and go to Broadway,” says Brooks. “I don’t think that’s what we should be shooting for. Is the play that we’ve chosen developing along

Playwright Bess Wohl, whose “Continuity” will open at the Manhattan Theater Club on the Upper West Side. Photo: Joanna Eldredge Morrissey

the [right] path? This play may be a great play and never have a production. But what’s important to me is that they continue to develop as a playwright.” And Brooks’ dedication to process over product has paid off for the organization. Several of the theater’s past plays have enjoyed productions in New York on and off Broadway. Manhattan Theatre Club produced Sharr White’s play “The Snow Geese,” starring Mary Louise Parker and Danny Burstein, on Broadway immediately after its 2013 July reading at CCTP. The concert play “Seawife” went on to have a celebrated run off-Broadway at the South Street Seaport Museum after its reading at CCTP in 2014. But The 2018-2019 New York theater season has been an exceptional one for CCTP. CCTP’s influence on the American theater is all over Broadway and off-Broadway. Following its staged reading at CCTP in 2015, “Hillary and Clinton” had its first production at the Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, and is now opening on Broadway with John Lithgow and Laurie Metcalf playing the show’s eponymous heroine. Wohl’s “Continuity” is making its New York debut this season after its staged reading at CCTP in 2017. Playwrights Horizons produced Will Arbery’s play “Heroes of the Fourth Turning” following its reading at

CCTP in 2018. And Schreck revised and developed “What the Constitution Means To Me” while she was the company’s artist-in-residence in 2017, according to Brooks. Is there a magic formula for getting a show from Falmouth to Broadway? Brooks doesn’t think so. “You never know how it’s gonna land with an audience,” says Brooks. “It’s very mystical in a lot of ways.” Brooks does, however, have a specific way he likes to structure his season. “I choose a play, and then I choose its opposite ... I choose a play by a known playwright, by an unknown playwright ... I [also] do the best that I can to establish gender parity in playwrights we bring up as well as cast. I like to have a range that’s challenging and exciting.” For Wohl, Brooks and CCTP were the earliest champions of her playwriting career. “As I began to write plays, Hal was incredibly generous with me in terms of supporting my writing ambitions,” she said. “With ‘Continuity,’ he believed in the play before I knew what it was. When I applied for Cape Cod, I think I only had about 30 or 40 pages of it, and he said, ‘I believe in you enough to trust that this will turn into something.’” Something notable about “Continuity,” “What The Constitution Means to Me,” and “Hillary and Clinton” is that all these plays were either written by female playwrights

or have strong female characters in their stories. Wohl feels that Brooks has always been a supporter of female voices, playwrights and directors, saying that she “felt completely welcomed by Cape Cod to the point where I really just felt like a writer. I didn’t feel excluded because of my gender [and] I didn’t feel included because of my gender: I just felt like I was a writer there to do work.” Wohl commends Brooks for “putting his theater project where his mouth is.” Brooks seems to relish the current era of theater where the issues of inclusion and fair representation on stage are on theatergoers’ minds. “There’s so much going on right now,” says Brooks. “It’s a really vibrant time. There are plays about gender [and] race diversity that are being produced at big theaters. It’s kind of really cool to watch. So much has changed in the past few years: there [are] a lot more LGBTQ artists we’re seeing onstage, we’re seeing plays from different ethnicities we haven’t seen before. We’re fully into 2019 and we’re seeing that onstage.” Wit hout t he oppor tu n ities Brooks gave to Schreck, Wohl and other playwrights who have come through CCTP, these productions may have never made it to New York. Brooks’ decision to support these artists has made New York’s theater season funnier, richer and more diverse than ever before.


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